Tuesday, December 22, 2009

State Congressman Donald Leopold Declines to Answer Your Questions

"Dear State Congressman Donald Leopold,
My neighbor and I are currently in the middle of a debate about a tree that grows in my yard. Some of the branches of the tree hang into his yard. They're not hurting anything, but my neighbor just hates those branches, and wants me to cut them down. He says that since the tree is on my property, it's my job to trim the branches and take care of all upkeep. I, however, think that since he is the one who doesn't like the branches, and the branches are in his backyard, HE should be the one to cut them down. What do you think?"

I'm afraid I can't answer that question at this time.

"Dear State Congressman Donald Leopold,
My name is Stacey. I am in the fourth grade. What is your favorite thing about being a politician?"

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on this subject at the current juncture.

"Dear State Congressman Donald Leopold,

My lawyer has advised me not to speak about this matter. Thank you.

"Dear State Congressman Donald Leopold,
I recently learned about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and how we can't know stuff exactly, right? Is that true? If Einstein said that God doesn't play dice, does that means it's true? I mean, it's Einstein. He's super smart and everything, even though he did real bad in school when he was a kid, yeah? And he discovered gravity, well not gravity, I mean Newton discovered gravity, but Einstein discovered that gravity was curved, or something. And Stephen Hawking did something like that, but he's in a wheelchair, right? He's the wheelchair guy? So I guess my question is, is it okay to cheat on a physics test, if you're real worried it's going to totally screw your GPA?"

I'm sorry, I have no further time for questions.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Effects of Bill and Ted on the Consistency of our History Textbooks

Errata for World History: The Timeline of Our Globe and the People On It, by Prentice Hall, as necessitated due to the actions of Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted "Theodore" Logan.

p. 412 Genghis Khan's death date (1227) should instead be listed as 1989.

p. 576 The Magna Carta now begins and ends with the word "Dude."

p. 780 The picture of the Mona Lisa should now include a moustache and goatee.

p. 812 The picture of Marcel Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. should no longer include a mustache or a goatee.

p. 864 Chapter 23: The Rise of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust does not require any revisions, which strikes this publishing company as both inexplicable and morally reprehensible.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Welcome To My Spapartment.

The ocean.

It heaves up and heaves down, torn fro and to by the power of the moon. Often, when the tide is out, some fish find themselves stranded in a tide pool, confined in an area smaller than that which they are accustomed to.

The economy is like the ocean.

You may find yourself like the ocean fish, once able to swim free, but now trapped in a tide pool, making awkward conversation with those you formerly ignored and/or crushed. To you, I say two things. First, do not worry. The tide will return. The tide always returns. Therefore, by the transitive property, the economy will also return. Second, make the best of the NOW. You can no longer afford the most spacious spas, but why not enjoy your time in the tide pool while you can?

Welcome to my apartment. And, welcome to my spa. Confused? Don't be. They're the same place. You'll get all the amenities of a normal spa, but won't have to pay the exorbitant prices that locations dedicated only to spa-ing charge.

Welcome to the world's only Spapartment.

Upon getting buzzed into the building, you will take a brief exercise warm-up in which you walk up three flights of stairs. At apartment 3C, you will knock gently on the door. Imagine you are knocking on the door of your dreams. What is on the other side? That is up to you. A person's dream is like a person's social security number: unique, and kept private. Go ahead and knock gently again. If I don't answer the door immediately, I'm probably just saving my game. Give me a second. There's not always a save point when you need one.

When you enter the Spapartment, you may, if you wish, keep your shoes on. Have you ever been to a spa in which you may leave your shoes on? Probably not. In fact, we actually recommend you keep your shoes on. My roommate recently dropped a beer bottle, and there may still be a couple shards here and there. An oyster makes a pearl from a single grain of sand. There's some sort of connection between the oyster thing and the beer bottle thing, but I'll leave it to you to contemplate. (Bonus Zen koan: What's the sound of 3 hands clapping?)

Now comes the awkward portion. I will hint at the price of the spa treatment you are about to enjoy (mostly by making oblique references to "the price of things," and how "everybody needs to be paid") until you pay me. Once paid, I will lead you to my couch. You will lean back, eyes closed, and listen to the relaxing ocean sounds from the DVD menu of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Your mind will drift off to a far-away place, a small tropical island where the locals live free and happy, day to day, and speak a language in which there are no words for "refund" or "total rip-off."

Then the Spapartment skin-care regime will begin. My girlfriend has a wide variety of skin-care products of various colors and scents that she frequently leaves in my bathroom. I will apply them, one by one, to your face and neck as I read from the description on the bottle. "The Snohomish tribe knew the importance of blackberry honey on whiteheads," I will read, occasionally making an impressed "I didn't know that" sound, and cocking my head to the side. By the end of the skin-care regime, your face will have the delightful scent and youthful appearance of a brand-new Jamba Juice store.

Finally, the massage. The massage is an ancient Swedish practice, invented by tense Swedish samurai. Many other spas allow you to request a male or female masseuse. Here at the Spapartment, we have forgone that option: you will be massaged by a male masseuse (me). If you insist on a female masseuse I will make the same joke I always make and call you a "massage-onyst." After a few seconds of awkward chortling, I'll tell you to hurry up and get naked already.

Our specially formulated massage will hit all of your major pressure points. We'll start at the head. Did you know that 90% of all stress is located in the cranium? Our skull-shiatsu will get those stresses out. Then we'll move to your back. The uneven, arrhythmic jabs into your backside will remind you of a chorus of cherubs patting you on the back with their creepy little baby hands. Once you are convinced that not a single knot remains, we will work on your elbows and knees. 65% of all bending done in a normal day is done from either your elbows or your knees. These build up stresses over time that only our patented "Joint Whispering" can dissipate. It works basically how you'd imagine it would.

Finally, aromatherapy. The delicate smell of lilac candles and pepperoni Hot Pocket will fill your nose, magically teleporting you into a dimension that I call "The Soothing Dimension." Don't you wish you could live there? Stay there for about 5 minutes, while I finish eating.

Now that you are completely and utterly relaxed, it's time to leave the Spapartment. I will hand you a complimentary giftbag of hotel soaps, rubber bands, and soy sauce packets, and, since you're going to be walking right by the dumpster, a bag of garbage.

It's time to re-enter the real world.

Do you feel that?

It's pure bliss.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lie Detective

[Note: The following excerpt is from the pilot episode of "Lie Detective," appearing on CBS this fall.]

INTERIOR. OFFICE attached to INTERROGATION ROOM. Through a window into the interrogation room we see the CRIMINAL, sitting in a chair. The camera pans over to the door.

DETECTIVE PAUL EDWARD GRAFF enters. He is serene, a small smile on his face. Behind him enter CHIEF WITCOMB and OFFICER AMY PENNSYLVANIA. Both look exhausted.

AMY: We've got nothing on him. Normally I'd trust the knowledge I gained over years in the streets, or my women's intuition, but both have failed me. I think we're going to have let this perp walk.

CHIEF: I'd hate to see that bastard roam free. He just seems like the killer to me.

AMY: But when we asked him if he was the killer, he said he wasn't!

GRAFF: Hold up. When he said he wasn't the killer, he was lying.

AMY: Lying?

GRAFF: That's right. Telling a deliberate falsehood in order to deceive.

CHIEF: Well, he certainly wasn't resting on his back. Not in MY interrogation room.

GRAFF: Officer Pennsylvania, did you notice which direction he looked in when you asked him if he was the murderer?

AMY: To the...left, I think.

GRAFF: Exactly. Liars always look the left when they lie. It's fact that I've picked up over my years and years of studying the human face.

AMY: Weren't you snapping your fingers near the left side of his face?

GRAFF: If you were telling the truth, and I snapped my fingers near you, you'd ignore them, wouldn't you?

CHIEF: I know I would.

GRAFF: That's right. Another thing. Liars use the pre-frontal cortex to lie. While that portion of the brain is used to lie, other thoughts that would have been processed in the pre-frontal cortex are pushed to parts of the brain, like the Johnson's Oblongation. The Johnson's Oblongation is typically used to differentiate spatial relationships, and isn't equipped to deal with other thoughts.

CHIEF: Great. Where are you going with this?

GRAFF: Remember when I asked him what "To Kill A Mockingbird" was about?

AMY: Yeah, he said it was about a black man who was accused of raping a white woman, and the white man, Atticus Finch, who tried to defend him. That seems pretty close to me.

GRAFF: That's the problem. That's what happened in To Kill A Mockingbird. But it's not what it's ABOUT. The pre-frontal cortex, in addition to helping liars create lies, also is the part of the brain that understands symbolism. A person who was telling the truth during that interview would have used their pre-frontal cortex, un-hindered by nasty falsehoods, and told me that To Kill A Mockingbird is about that deep American ethic of honor, about reaching out to understand those different from ourselves, and about the corrosive nature of racism on both blacks and whites alike. He also forgot about Boo Radley. We've got a liar on our hands, Chief. And, based on his weight, I'd venture a guess that he's a big fat liar.

CHIEF: Good catch, Detective Graff.

GRAFF: One last thing. Did either of you notice his pants?

CHIEF: They were...khakis, I think. Right?

GRAFF: They were, but that's not what I'm getting at. Did either of you happen to notice that, near the end of our interview, his pants burst into flames?

AMY: Of course!

GRAFF: That spells liar, people. Go arrest him.

AMY: On what grounds?

GRAFF: Murder in the first degree, and perjury in the second degree. I taped a Bible underneath the table, where his right hand was.

CHIEF: Good job, Detective Graff.

GRAFF: I can tell from how you said that that you don't think it was a good job, Chief. You think it was a great job.

CHIEF: You got me there!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The surgeon who used to be a real estate broker.

Okay, so it says here you need coronary artery bypass surgery. I can't perform that particular surgery, but I CAN help you if you need a stomach stapling.

I see. You've really got your heart set on that coronary artery bypass.

Look, I'll level with you. You seem like a nice couple. But in this market? Honestly, I don't know of ANYONE getting coronary artery bypass surgery. You should really go with a stomach stapling. I know many people who think they didn't want a vertical banded gastroplasty surgery, aka "stomach stapling," but now they LOVE it!

Not a problem. But after looking around for that coronary bypass surgery for a while, if you don't find it you just give me a call and I'll staple up your stomach beautifully. Take my card.

Monday, September 7, 2009

You Too Can Subsist!

Hey there! Who is ready for a revolutionary new way of living? No more go-go-go, no more worrying about "the pool," or "the corporate jet," or "your job," but real, true subsistence?
Woah! I don't know if you all heard me! I said, WHO IS READY TO BARELY SQUEAK BY FROM PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK??? Okay, that's better! For a second, I thought I had wandered into a mime convention! But I knew I hadn't, because unlike you guys, mimes can't speak. Also, mimes have jobs.


I know what you're thinking now. "Curtis, if you made so much money with the 5 $s, what are you doing here?" Well, that's quite a story. A good story. But unfortunately, it's not as good as MC Hammer's riches-to-rags story, so I'm going to tell you that instead.

I was on top of the world. I had inspired a fashion craze, several multi-platinum albums, and everyone knew who I was. I owned a giant mansion, a stable of thoroughbred horses, and the world's largest hammer-shaped swimming pool. But then I noticed that the hits stopped coming. My "friends," if you can call them that, stopped showing up for my thrice-daily Hammergasbords: giant parties, catered by Julia Childs. I tried changing the Hammergasbords into potlucks, to save money but no one showed up. After a while I had to sell my mansion, my horses, and everything I owned just to break even.

I was on the bottom.

But then I discovered something. You can survive on the bottom!

Think about the ocean. Soothing, right? The ocean has literally DOZENS of different types of fish that live on the bottom! They make it from day to day, and although they don't have the fancy cars and mansions that the dolphins and manta rays have, they still live a pretty good life.

Do you know what the most expensive part of tea is? It's the tea leaves. Bet you didn't think of that, did you? Now, do you drink those tea leaves? No, of course you don't. You just throw those away, like you threw away so many opportunities to save during the good years. Well, how about this: drink tea, but WITHOUT THE TEA. Hot water is 99% the SAME as tea. Even if you're at a coffee shop, they'll probably still give you a cup of hot water, free of charge. If they don't, mention that you've been stung by a jelly fish, and the only cure is hot water, and maybe one of those double-chocolate brownies (but not a corner piece).

Let me go ahead and guess what you've all been dying to ask. "But Curtis, I don't have any clothes! What can I do?" Well, I bet you've got a cooper in your neighborhood, don't you? Go down on Tuesday, when he throws out all the unusable barrels. Excuse me, did I say barrels? I mean to say Fancy Wood Smocks! That's right, with the application of a couple leather straps, and just four nails, you can have an all-weather Fancy Wood Smock! Eat your heart out, Fashion Avenue!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To The Residents of SimCity

Read my post on Multiplayer Singleplayer called To The Residents of SimCity.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rules You Must Follow While On My Yacht

No chewing gum.

Helipads 7 through 12B are reserved for SuperCopters. Do not park normal helicopters on these helipads.

No asking if we are currently in international waters. If the giraffes are above deck, and have guns strapped to their necks, then we are in international waters.

If you drink the last of the coffee, please start a new pot.

The only currency accepted as legal tender on my yacht is the CurtisBuck.

Do not feed the giraffes. It dulls their bloodlust.

Please ignore the Irish and Scottish immigrants in the steerage (decks 24 through 31). Take care not to let any of them fall in love with you, as such a love affair is doomed to fail for all the obvious, cliché reasons.

Do not mock the CurtisBuck.

In event of a disembarkation, the order of egress is: Curtis, all women (from most to least attractive), men who are decent with an oar, all children (from cutest to ugliest), Scott Bakula, then all others.

Apparently, giraffes have a tendency to expel fecal matter when surprised by loud noises, such as cannon-fire. Complimentary galoshes, made of the finest materials possible, are available on every deck.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twitter hash terms that have not caught on with the general populace.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm not like your other teachers.

Go ahead and take your seats.

I'm not like your other teachers.

You will not see me wear a tweed jacket, and you don't have to call me "Professor" or "Sir." Just call me "Prof," like you would to any of your friends who happen to hold a doctorate and teach people to pry open new doors of knowledge and perception.

WOAH! What was that? Anyone else see that? That was the old you leaving the room. The You that worried about deadlines, the You that talked about your GPA, the You that is scrambling for financial aid, or whatever it is that you do, just walked right out of the room. Wave goodbye to the old You, everyone. That's right, actually wave, this guy's got it. Welcome to the rest of your lives.

I am NOT like your other teachers.

I'm not going to play favorites. I value new opinions, and a good learning environment is one that can brook dissent. So don't bother toadying up to me, or laughing loudly at my jokes, because it's not going to help you get a better grade. If you disagree with me, go ahead and say so. If anyone thinks that's a bad way to run a class, go ahead and tell me! I'm even open to the idea that I could be wrong about being so open and welcoming of new thoughts. You don't get a grade by agreeing with me, and doing what I say. You EARN a grade by learning.

Since we're on the topic of grades, part of your grade is going to be a mysterious "class participation" component that I will judge based off of my own tough criteria. And you know what they say about tough criteria: they'll make you cry tear, ya? Those of you who laughed at that are already doing well at class participation. You're the ones that really "get it." If you want more class participation points, see me after class. I've got some papers that need to filed.

Now take your #2 pencils out. C'mon, I'm serious, take out your #2 pencils. As I walk through the room with this trashcan, I want you to chuck those #2 straitjackets right into the trash. Don't be afraid, do it! In this class, you won't be graded off of Scantron tests and other nonsense. I use AnswerSheet brand answer sheets for all of my multiple choice tests. The AnswerSheet scanner will only read #3 pencils, which you can find at any drafting or art supply store. You will find that the slightly harder lead is better for filling in bubbles.

Hey, here's something you won't hear from your other teachers: Sandwiches disgust me. Don't eat them in class, don't mention them. We cool?

That's the sort of information I only share with friends. And we ARE friends now. I won't learn your names, and I will actively avoid eye contact with you outside of class, but just think of me as one of your buds, albeit one who is uninterested in most of the things you have to say, and mysteriously has somewhere to be anytime you try and talk to me.

I know what everyone here is worried about, so let's just get it out in the open. Unfortunately, thanks to the suits in the administration building, I am legally required to make you write papers. But since papers are so creatively stifling, I've been trying to make a point to the faculty Starched Collars by having every single student write his or her paper on the exact same topic: "Agrarian Policies of the Eastern Seaboard, 1600-1775."

So far, in the past 5 years the self-styled Lords of Acadamia haven't gotten the clue. But we're going to keep fighting the good fight until those college bigwigs finally grok my point. Oh, and if your paper doesn't tread any new ground, don't expect higher than a D. I've seen it all, ladies and gentlemen. I've seen it all.

See that blackboard there? It's really green. I'm going to call it a greenboard. Let's all just call it like we see it, huh? Watch this: I'm going to take a piece of chalk (or should I say gypsum, because it's not actually made of chalk: it's primarily gypsum) and draw Snoopy. This isn't art class, but I just drew Snoopy on the greenboard. ALL KNOWLEDGE IS INTERCONNECTED.

You're going to hear me say that a lot in this class. The topic for the day's lecture may be "Differential Bartering Systems," but I may veer off 5 minutes into the lecture and start rapping at you about the Mets, how "Joshua Tree" is not only U2's greatest record, but the greatest record since "Revolver," or just some theories and characters I've been working on that may end up in my novel. Sure, I may not hit the lesson I was going to do, but you'll learn something, I can tell you that much. ALL KNOWLEDGE IS INTERCONNECTED. The tests are based on the info I planned to cover in the lecture, not the stuff I actually covered in the lecture. Not sure how to help you there.

Oh, and no gum chewing or talking in class. Let's be adults here, people.

Now I'm going to put on some Bob MAHRRRR-LEEEEY while you take your first quiz, which is based on this introductory lecture. I hope everyone's purchased a #3 pencil by now. If not, put your head down until the end of class.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Apocrypha of Leviticus

Although many Biblical scholars believe various parts of the apocrypha should be rightly included in the standard Bible, such as the rarely-mentioned "0th Commandment," which, loosely translated, states "Are there any Assyrians standing with us here before Mt. Sinai? Well, then I shall read these slower. (thou shalt pause here for laughter/applause)" Below is a small sampling of the slices of the Bible relegated to the dustbins of history.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

For every child that regards an adult as being physically inferior, such judgments should be accepted as fact, since children are incapable of lies: if a child says you are ugly, then you are ugly. The child shall be stoned, for he is annoying in the eyes of the LORD, and some things are better left unsaid.

A man should not lay with a woman who is too far out of his league. If the woman is too far below his league, he will be considered by his friends to be "slumming it," and he will likely treat her poorly, and be regarded as similar to the sack which contains fluids for feminine hygiene. Should he sleep with a woman above his station, he will believe himself worthy of such attention, when, come on. Let us be honest.

And if a woman shall take a beast and dress it up in human clothes, or adorn it with human accessories, and speak to it in a high voice, as if it were a baby, then ye shall slay the beast.

The index finger shall be known from simply as "finger" from now on. This will help further distinguish it from the lesser fingers, which shall be indicated through their full names: "middle finger," "ring finger," and "pinky finger."

And the LORD took a sip from his water glass, and continued,

Consider yourselves blessed by the LORD that you do not live in Transylvania; there are vampires there, from what I hear.

Thou shalt not lie with the son of the son of your great grandfather, for this is your first cousin, once removed. He is also the first cousin, once removed, to your cousin, but to your cousin’s sons and daughters, who you will inexplicably have to purchase presents for, this man is their first cousin, twice removed. Shall I make a chart to explain this? Perhaps I shall. In the meantime, try not to lie with anyone who looks too much like you.

The thumb shall be considered a finger when counting, but not when grasping. So if someone tells you to press, hold, or push something with your finger, thou shalt not use the thumb. Also, it is permissible for thou to hold up an open hand, ask another man “How many fingers am I holding up,” and, should he respond “5,” laugh and say “No, I am holding up 4 fingers, plus a thumb.” If the man needs proof, you can quote what I said earlier about the thumb. Although it is a bit of a gray area, since I did mention that the thumb should be considered a finger when counting, but you could claim you are grasping air with an open hand, I suppose. Go ahead and stone the man, and sacrifice three animals with cloven hoof. Perhaps I should have put all of this with the other stuff about fingers. That is the problem with oral tradition: you cannot just go back and erase, as you can with written language, which will not be invented until later. Oh, when it is invented, someone should write all this stuff down.

Should you make a mistake in front of someone you admire, you will say, "Well, I guess that's why pencils have erasers!" You will immediately regret making such an asinine statement, and will have no way of taking it back.

Thou shalt not repeat psalms that you have heard elsewhere without first offering the author of that psalm a small token. To sing a psalm publicly, you must offer the author no less than three goats. To do otherwise would be considered piracy, and will likely put the psalm writers out of business.

Thou shalt say it, but not spray it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Selections from my Asteroids Fan Fiction

O Captain, My Captain

PLAYER 1 looked at his crew. They were a ragged bunch of misfits, from every ghetto of every planet in the galaxy. Many of them were wanted criminals, but for good crimes, like stealing bread to feed babies, or punching corrupt politicians in the face. They would follow him to Hell and back without even blinking (and some of them were aliens that had to blink a lot, because they came from moist, water-logged planets).

But this was too much.

"Look, you all heard me," Captain PLAYER 1 said, with steely resolve, to his crew. "Engineer Bok-Gloo-Vulk, you can sit this one out."

Bok-Goo-Vulk looked dejected. Had he done something to offend his captain?

"I know what you're thinking, Bok-Goo-Vulk," the captain continued, as if he had read his engineer's mind, which he almost had, because a good captain can practically read his crew's mind, "but you haven't done anything to offend me. You will be useful, and you are the best damned engineer this side of the Quasar Sector, but I've got a plan."

Second Commander Ah-mee spoke up. She was beautiful, and had a very pretty face, but she didn't take guff from anyone, man, alien, or asteroid. "But Captain, without Bok-Goo-Vulk working the forward thrusters, will be sitting ducks! Don't let our personal relationship impair your judgments." Ah-mee was referring to the fact that PLAYER 1 and Ah-mee had had sex.

"That's right," Captain PLAYER 1 continued, with confidence in his voice, "we'll be sitting ducks. So we'll be relying on Twyn and Twynn," Twyn and Twynn were two twins from the Gemini Galaxy who worked the fore and aft (left and right) engines, which caused the ship to rotate, "and Lt. Worf," Worf was a Klingon, a race notable for its combat prowess and deep-rooted sense of honor, and was in charge of firing the ship's single, massive weapon: the deadly Proton-Neutrino Cannon, "to get us through this alive."

"Rather than hunt down the asteroids, we're going to let the asteroids come to us."

From Killer Asteroids Come Death

The asteroid split into two pieces, with a mighty rupture sound that couldn't be heard, because in space you can't hear sound. But the ship's computer delivered a reasonable facsimile (copy) of the sound. Captain AAA had the computer log the kill.

This area of space would be free for space settlers in no time.

But then he noticed something really bad.

He thought he had destroyed the asteroid.

But he hadn't.

He'd actually just split it up into smaller pieces.

And those smaller pieces were moving fast.

Straight. At. His. Ship.

Captain AAA didn't have time to think. He hit the forward thrusters, expertly dodging through the little bits of left-over space flotsam into the clear space on the other side.

It was a close call, but he had made it into the clear, for now. Space Command had promised that they would build him up to 2 more ships, should he destroy the ship he was in, but he liked old reliable Century Hawk, his trusty ship, and didn't want to see her, or himself, come to harm.

As the next asteroid came into his gun's sights, this time he realized he wouldn't take any chances. He unloaded a full barrage of torpedoes, massive energy shots that pulverized the asteroid, and most of the pieces the asteroid broke up to, in milliseconds. Bright shining bits of asteroid flew across space like fireworks in an ancient Earth custom known as "4th of July." The glittering pieces of stone looked for a second like little stars.

But then, behind him, another asteroid crept up. 5 parsecs away. 4 parsecs away. 3 parsecs away!

Would he go into hyperspace, or try to evade? He had no time to think. "Better take my chances evading it here, rather than jump into hyperspace and end up in some unknown and possibly dangerous part of this quadrant," Captain AAA thought.

Jumping into hyperspace seems like it would be helpful, and many early cadets often use it quite a bit. But experienced captains, like Captain AAA, know that it can often leave your ship right in the path of another incoming asteroid, or even near the same place you were trying to avoid! Hyperspace can be useful, but really it should be saved for truly dire situations (four or more asteroids coming in at you from multiple directions). Also, as a good Captain AAA knew that he could occasionally evade detection by piloting his ship into the region of space in which it shows his current score. Due to a glitch in the space-time continuum, the flying saucer won't shoot there.

2 parsecs away.

Captain AAA suddenly realized something. By moving forward just a bit, his ship would leap across space (because space-time is curved, as Albert Einstein showed in his work) and appear on the other side of the quadrant. He accelerated forward, deftly avoiding the asteroid. He was now on the other side of the quadrant.

The asteroid, relentless and evil, was following right behind him, but now he knew it was coming. He turned around and fired, even though his ship was still moving in the direction it was moving before he turned. This tactic can be useful if you are traveling in one direction, but an asteroid is coming from another. Captain AAA knew that you didn't have to always accelerate, but that it could sometimes help to move in one direction while firing in another. It's hard to master, but if you do master it, like Captain AAA did, no asteroid is safe (but your ship is).

At 1 single parsec away from Century Hawk, the last tiny piece of the asteroid exploded. His space-bullet had hit its mark.

The computer added 100 points (like dollars, but invented by the Space Command to use instead of money) to his score.

There was no time to rest. More asteroids remained. "C'mon, Century Hawk, we've got more work to do."

My Enemy, My Lover

The alien spacecraft landed on the planet. They had chosen Neptune as a neutral planet in which to meet. Why had this flying saucer been trying to attack him for so long?

The hatch opened, and PLAYER 1 was shocked to see a hot, sexy alien woman was the captain. "A woman captain?" he thought, but not in a misogynist (woman-hating) way, but more in a "good for you," sort of way.

"Let me explain myself," the "enemy" alien captain said, in a very sultry voice with an exotic accent. "I was never trying to shoot you. I was trying to help you destroy asteroids. But my species never developed the technology to aim our weapons fire," the alien vessel used a Matter-Antimatter Laser, which was powerful but unpredictable, "so it looked like occasionally I was firing at you."

"I apologize, PLAYER 1, if I ever damaged your ship. We had the same goals, you and I."

She removed her very skimpy and sexy alien captain's uniform, revealing that her race had the same general anatomical features as human women from PLAYER 1's home planet, Earth.

That night, under the light of Neptune's 13 moons (Triton, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, Proteus, Nereid, Halimede, Sao, Laomedeia, Psamathe, and Neso), they made beautiful, wonderful love.

Writing Exercises to Help You Complete Your Novel

Although your novel is incomplete, you consider yourself a novelist. Does your protagonist harbor similar delusions? Describe them.

Close your eyes and imagine you are floating in a puddle of cheese. Your head has been transformed into that of an ostrich, and your body is made of air. Now open your eyes. What do you see? Is it the unfeeling whitespace of your unfinished novel?

Reread The DaVinci Code. Seethe.

Pretend one of your characters is writing his or her own novel. Would that novel actually have a believable ending? Steal it.

Look around your writing space. After you have completed your novel, which items will future generations want to save for your museum? What text will the title card for each item contain?

Try to describe how you are currently feeling with only one word. Avoid using the word "fucked."

Story ideas can spring up from anywhere. Check your email. Still nothing? Try checking again. Is the internet still plugged in? Better check. Call your internet provider and ask them if there's any chance they're not delivering some of your emails.

Go to a crowded restaurant or coffee shop. Observe the conversations around you. When others laugh, are they laughing at your failure? Probably.

Pretend you have completed your novel, and you run into a friend from college. How quickly could you slip the phrase "published novelist" into the conversation?

Are there any pieces of writing equipment you have not purchased? 3" by 5" index cards? A new moleskine? An executive stressball? Sticky notes? 4-color clicky pens? Purchase them. The fact that you do not own these things is keeping you from completing your novel.

Vladimir Nabakov once described writing as "one of the truly natural things, as natural as taking a breath." Describe what a cocky shit THAT guy must have been.

Take a set of Scrabble letter tiles and throw them into the air. Observe where they land. Now pick up the titles, one by one, and return them to their box. Also, your keyboard's looking a little dusty. Go ahead and clean it.

Pick a story from the day's paper. Pretend you are a character from your novel. How would that character respond to that story? You don't really know, do you?

Mark Twain once said "a writer must disguise himself, occupying thoughts and personalities that are not his own." Go ahead and dress up like Mark Twain.

Write your obituary. Pretty scant, isn't it? Better complete that novel.