Thursday, January 26, 2006
While Googling myself -- an egocentric act of self gratification that doesn't involve touching ... and I do it at least twice a week -- I found a review of Challenging Destiny #21, a magazine which includes my short story "Clark Bland Saves the Planet.”
Here's what reviewer Douglas Hoffman thought about my story:
“Clark Bland doesn't have X-ray vision, super speed, mega strength, or the power of flight. He's probably the last normal human on Earth in Jason Offutt's story, “Clark Bland Saves the Planet.” Clark's friends, coworkers, and even his wife have all indulged in Super Power Advantage (SPA) treatments. Much to everyone else's chagrin, Clark just wants to be himself.
“The title telegraphs the ending. We know that Clark will, by dint of being himself, save the day, succeeding where countless superheroes have failed. The act of salvation is silly, but in keeping with the story's light, humorous tone. Better is the conflict between Clark and his wife Gloria, now Wonder Girl, a tale told mostly in interwoven flashbacks. This aspect of “Clark Bland Saves the Planet” is poignant, and leads to a conclusion which is both unexpected and satisfying.”
Well, gee, thanks, Doug.
You can pick up Challenging Destiny #21 at: www.fictionwise.com.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
There's something profound about the fact that a 16-year-old applied for a job. It gives an adult hope that there are teenagers out there who will eventually be able to run things once we're too old to show them how the world works. It's even better when she's your kid. Now, when civilization breaks down and no one knows how to repair the machines, like in (insert random Star Trek episode here), she'll at least be able to make a decent smoothie.
I didn't have an official paycheck job until the summer of my junior year in high school. I was a farm boy and a job for me was pitching hay bales and shoveling hog manure.
Although throwing 50-pound bales of hay onto the back of a moving truck in 95-degree heat wasn't much fun, it was the hog manure that decided my choice of careers. Not that the manure possessed comic book radiation properties that mutated me into a writer rather than a farmer, it was the fact that writing was something I could do that was so far removed from hog manure, I'd never have to go on a date smelling like it again.
My first real job was as a food vendor at Royals Stadium. I started the year after the Kansas City Royals went to their first World Series and quit the year before they went to their second.
My timing sucked.
But walking up and down the concrete stairs hawking nachos or peanuts or Coca-Cola wasn't really a job. It was an excuse to go to the ballpark 81 times a year and flirt with girls. Sure, I got a paycheck and the occasional tip, but baseball and girls turned working there into less of a job and more of an exercise in bucking the system. If I could combine two things I loved and get paid for it, I must be doing something right.
That's something missing from a lot of people's work equation. Most people get a job to earn money so they can do things they enjoy, like eat and have heat in the winter. What most people don't do is figure out something they love and incorporate it into their profession. My daughter likes to read and really wanted to work at a bookstore, but TCBY called her in for an interview first.
Will she be worse off for working at TCBY? No. She'll still learn responsibility and the satisfaction that comes with earning money. Would she have enjoyed working at the bookstore more? Maybe.
But this way, she just might learn my hog manure lesson a little easier, because people get sick of yogurt, too.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
(Warning: This sounds impersonal because somebody else wrote it.)
Award-winning humorist Jason Offutt's book on parenting, "On Being Dad," is now available.
"On Being Dad" costs $9.95 per book plus $1.30 shipping and handling. To get an autographed copy, go to www.jasonoffutt.com or just send check or money order to: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 115, Orrick, Mo. 64077. “On Being Dad” will soon be available through barnesandnobel.com and Royal Fireworks Press (http://www.rfwp.com/).
Thanks for reading.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
But every new year has a darker side. A side that says “shut up and give me your wallet.” A side that lurks under the bed, hides in the back seat of your car and fills minutes on 24-hour cable news shows that should have something better to do with its broadcast time.
Every new year gives us another reason to worry.
In recent years we've had Y2K, the Tribulation that didn't happen in 2004, and the UFO behind the Hale-Bopp comet that was going to swoop a bunch of computer programmers up to heaven, or a 7-Eleven, or someplace like that.
What will we worry about in 2006?
Just wait until June, because by June, people are going to get weird. Hunter S. Thompson weird. Madonna being named a Nobel laureate weird. Yikes.
Why's June so special? How about June 6? How about June 6, 2006? How about 06/06/06? Yeah, 666 - the Devil Day is almost upon us.
Oh, yes, the apocalypse is coming. Start hording ham.
What will actually happen on June 6? Eh, who knows? But I guarantee more people will be in church, write books about the end being near and go on Jerry Springer to get hit with a chair.
The number 666 makes people goofy. I once worked with a person who wouldn't give out the office number because it had three sixes in a row. It's just a number. Until the antichrist shows up and forces us all to get the mark, or a chip implant, or a really boss tattoo, 666 is just the number after 665.
Shopping for a barbecue a few years ago, I saw a package of hamburger for $6.66. I bought it and served The Beast Burgers. Everybody laughed and had devils food cake for dessert.
My advice for June 6? Just sit back and watch the world act silly. It'll be a lot like a family reunion, only with less bloodshed.
Oh, and watch out for the antichrist.
I once met a guy who said he was the antichrist. He tried to sell me insurance, so I threw an empty Jim Beam bottle at him and set fire to his couch.
It was the best Christmas ever.