Archive for April, 2013

Interview + Book Giveaway

April 30, 2013

The The Emoticon Generation blog tour is drawing to a close, with a new interview and book giveaway at the Dab of Darkness blog.

This interview is all about how some of the stories and books and film I’m writing came to be.

Plus, you have a chance to win a free electronic copy of The Emoticon Generation.

Read the entire thing here.

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Smarty Pants Competition

April 30, 2013

If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:


The Smarty Pants Competition

(Containing the laughable account of how laughter accounts for intelligence.)


Filled with sadness and pain, Benjamin Miller continued to tell his sad tale, Sylvia and I wanted to find a way out of the Land of No Respect.

We needed a boat, since the doctors had caused ours to sink.

In town, the whipped-creamed streets were filled with people. We noticed that the people who were alone seemed strange in some way. Some had long noses. Other had long necks. Other had big stomachs. Every man and woman who was single had some kind of feature that made him or her stand out among the rest.

But the couples, they were even stranger than the single people. Couples in the Land of No Respect seemed to be opposites. A man twice as tall as a building would be with a woman as short as a thimble. A man as fat as a house would be with a woman as thin as a candle. A man with a big head and small chest would be with a woman with a small head and a big chest.

Everywhere we looked, we saw couples that seemed complete opposites of each other. And everyone was headed in one direction, outside of town.

“What is going on?” I asked someone. “Where is everyone going?”

“We’re going to the theater,” he answered. “The Smarty Pants Competition is starting in thirty minutes.”

We asked him what he meant. Although he couldn’t believe that we had never heard of it, he told us the story of the Smarty Pants Competition.

“On the third day of the third week of every month,” he said, “we hold a competition for everyone in town to see who is the smartest one amongst us. We hold that competition in the theater. This is how it goes: We put three of our funniest people on stage. Each, in his turn, tells a very funny story. The audience laughs. Whoever laughs first the most times during all three funny stories is the winner of the Smarty Pants Competition and is declared the smartest person in town.”

“But why do you think laughing makes you smart?” asked Sylvia.

The man looked at Sylvia with utter disbelief. “Laughing does not make you smart,” he said. “Laughing first… Laughing first means you’re smart. Whoever laughs first understood the joke first. Whoever laughs second, understood the joke second, and so on. Whoever laughs last was the slowest to understand the joke.”

“Ah,” Sylvia said. She was beginning to understand. “But wait… this is a land of no respect. Does the winner get respect?”

“Oh, no,” the man said. “Once the competition is over and the winner feels good about himself, everyone comes up to him, and makes fun of how smart he is. That is the Land of No Respect!”

Sylvia’s body began to shake. “You’re all crazy! You are all horrible! This is a crazy and horrible place!”

Before I could put my hand on her shoulder, she began to run in the other direction: out of town and somewhere behind the mountain.

I climbed after her, as fast as I could, but she was running as if she was not running on whipped cream.

This has been the beginning of a disquieting story, King John the Cute, of Sylvia’s madness, a madness that would soon lead to tragedy.


(To be continued on Thursday…)

Like my writing? Try ‘The Emoticon Generation’

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Tickle Tick

April 28, 2013

If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:


The Tickle Tick

(Containing the grave tale of a grieving duo and a Tickle Tick.)


We buried Ochi, Benjamin Miller continued his tale while King John the Cute listened in fascination, at the foot of the mountain. Sylvia and I stood over his grave. We had a lost a friend we had known for decades, and sadness had struck us deeply. It had all been so unnecessary, which made the sadness worse.

And yet, for all our sadness, we could not cry.

Sylvia was the first to suggest that perhaps we cannot cry because it wouldn’t be funny if we cried. Perhaps the rules and regulations of the Land of No Respect had already taken effect on us.

“That is quite true,” said a small voice.

We looked around, and saw a tiny black creature, smaller than a fly, stand on top of the stone we had put over Ochi’s grave.

“Who are you?” Sylvia said.

“I am the Tickle Tick,” said the Tickle Tick. “And you are quite right. You cannot cry for your friend right now, because your crying would not be funny. The rules and regulations of the Land of No Respect work on all who walk here. Still, perhaps I can help.”

“Help? How?” Sylvia asked.

“Like this.”

The Tickle Tick flew from the stone, landed on Sylvia’s neck, then slid down under her clothes. Suddenly, Sylvia began to laugh.

“Stop!” Sylvia laughed. “What are you doing!”

“I’m tickling you,” came the Tickle Tick’s voice from inside her shirt. “I’m making you feel better!”

“Stop!” Sylvia was rolling on the ground laughing. “Stop! I don’t want to feel better!”

“Everyone wants to feel better,” came the voice from inside her clothes.

Sylvia was laughing and laughing, rolling on the ground. “Stop! Stop! I don’t want to laugh!”

“Everyone wants to laugh,” the muffled voice said.

“I don’t want to laugh!” shouted Sylvia. “I want to cry!” And she shrieked so hard that the Tickle Tick stopped and climbed back out from under her clothes.

“What about you?” the Tickle Tick looked at me.

“Same as her,” I said.

“You two are very strange people,” said the Tickle Tick. “What do you truly want, then? How can I help you?”

“Maybe you know something about this place,” I said. “We don’t understand how such a place could exist.”

“Hmmmf,” said the Tickle Tick. “I do not know anything about how the magic of the place works, but I do know how this place came to be. Shall I tell you that story?”

“Sure,” I said.

“Yes, thanks,” said Sylvia, who was slowly sitting up.

“This is a story I have heard,” began the Tickle Tick, “from my father who heard it from his father, and so on all the way back to the first Tickle Tick that ever lived. And he heard this story from the island itself.”

Once upon a time, the Tickle Tick told the tale, all the funny and strange creatures in all the land and continents and seas decided that they wanted to live together, in one place. That way, they would be with their own kind, with people who knew how to laugh, who would laugh with them, but not people who laughed at them.

But all the places in all the Land of All Legends were already occupied. There were people living at every large patch of land. The exception was ten small islands in the Slapstick Ocean. The islands were relatively small, and they were all lonely, because all the creatures that had lived on them had moved to the land and to the Big Cities.

All ten islands volunteered to be the home for the funny creatures, but only one could be chosen.

To decide which island was the best one for the job, a competition began. All the creatures would spend one day on each of the islands, and see which island is best.

And so, on the first day of the competition, the creatures stepped upon the shores of the first island. There, they threw pies at each other, slapped, fell, tried to get all the creatures into one room, and generally had fun. Within two hours, the island was laughing so hard, that he was shaking, and all the creatures fell into the water.

On the second day, the creatures tried the second island. Within two hours, that island was also laughing so hard that he threw all creatures into the water.

And so it continued, with all islands. All ten islands laughed too hard, and so none of the islands could be suitable for the creatures to create the Land of No Respect.

Then the creatures noticed that there was another island, a rather small and shy island, with a tall mountain at the center of him, that no one had noticed. No one had noticed him, because the other islands had forgotten he was there. When he was young, they had always made fun of him and his mountain for being so different, that he had grown shy.

The funny creatures tried to live on that island. And although that island wanted to laugh, he knew how to hold his emotions and not to shake with laughter.

Sometimes, during certain days of the year that something makes the island almost lose control with laughter, the top of the mountain shakes back and forth. But that is not dangerous, that is just funny. And so it was declared that the eleventh island would be the island upon which the Land of No Respect would be built.

The remaining ten islands, angry and miffed, swam to another part of the ocean, leaving the island and the Land of No Respect alone in the middle of the Slapstick Ocean.

And so, once the island had become the Land of No Respect, the first Tickle Tick was born. My grandfathers have been tickling people since before you two were born.

And I am glad that although I have not made you happy with laughter, I have made you less sad, if only for a few minutes.

“Thank you for your story, little Tickle Tick,” Sylvia said.

“Yes. Thank you,” I said.

Sylvia and I looked at each other. We knew that we needed to find a way off the island. But at least we had learned that listening to stories, just like laughing, sometimes takes our sadness away, if only for a short while.


(To be continued on Tuesday…)

Like my writing? Try ‘The Emoticon Generation’.

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Weapons Factory

April 25, 2013

If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:


The Weapons Factory

(Containing specific and impractical details of the rules of war in the Land of No Respect.)


After our encounters with the three doctors and the man who thought laughter was a hug, Benjamin Miller continued to tell his tale, we decided that the Land of No Respect was not the place for us.

We had come seeking other people who did not belong here, just like us, who could perhaps give us a clue about how we had arrived here and how we could return home. Instead, we found creatures of more legends and stories. They were born here, and were probably part of stories told by people in our original world, the world with tall buildings and lights on the ceiling of every room. The creatures of the Land of No Respect were probably part of funny stories, stories being told by parents to their children.

Nothing here, the three of us decided, would help us return home. And so we headed back to shore, and only slipped three times on the whipped cream.

But the island’s people and the island’s regulations stood in our way.

When we had arrived at our small boat, we saw the three doctors – Doctor Cuckoo, Doctor Wacky, and Doctor Zany – standing over our small boat, as it sunk into the water. They had put a hole in the bottom of the boat.

“What are you doing?” Cried Ochi.

“You, sir,” said Doctor Zany, “need some Vitamin L.”

“You, sir,” said Doctor Cuckoo, “need your head screwed on straighter.”

“You, sir,” said Doctor Wacky, “need a funny tooth.”

We stood there as our boat sank, not knowing how we would get home.

Ochi was furious with the three doctors. He chased them across the sands for two hours. The doctors evaded him easily, and he slipped on the whipped cream time and time again. Within an hour, he had broken two more bones.

The doctors seemed to tire, and went back home, promising to return the next day.

Then, just as the sun began to sink, Ochi spotted a factory at the bottom of the mountain. Despite our protestations that he must rest, Ochi climbed the mountain and saw that the factory was a weapons factory. It had guns, cannons, dynamite, and thousands of other weapons, each more creative than the previous one.

The next morning, before the sun rose, Ochi went to the street in which the three doctors lived. He climbed the roof of the opposite building, and waited there, with a gun.

An hour later, Doctor Wacky was the first to step out of the house.

Ochi put the doctor within his sights, and pressed the trigger. Doctor Wacky had just then bent down to tie his shoe. The bullet whizzed by his ear, bounced off the wall behind him, bounced off the ground, bounced off two more walls around the building, then kept bouncing off walls, slowly climbing up, until it hit Ochi right in his behind.

At that time, you see, we did not know the complete set of the rules and regulations of the Land of No Respect. There was a rule and regulation precisely for such incidents, and it was this: Any weapon will find a way to act against the person using it.

If you fire a gun, it will ultimately fire upon you. If you blow up dynamite, it will blow up on you. Somehow the laws of nature change in the Land of No Respect, and dynamite will find a way not to explode unless you go to look why your weapon did not fire, and guns will find a way to bounce the bullets back on you, and electricity will only electrify you.

Ochi learned this the hard way. For the following week, he woke up early every day and tried to kill the three doctors with another weapon, always with the same result. The cannon’s ball dropped on his foot. The dynamite made his ears explode. The rocket turned around in mid-air and chased him around the island. The carpet he put over the hole in the ground held when the doctors walked on it. Only when Ochi walked on it, to check what was wrong, did it collapse and Ochi fell into the hole.

With every day that passed, Ochi was more injured and sicker and more broken. Within a week, he was half the man he used to be, his skin charred, his bones broken, his hair had fallen out, and his right foot was twice its original size because of the cannon ball that had fallen on it.

Ochi is not like you, King John the Cute. He isn’t a story, and his body does not bounce back easily. You can take quite a lot of punishment, but not us. Ochi needed rest, but he would not take it. He insisting on chasing the doctors with more weapons that he claimed could not fail.

Within three more days, his body collapsed, and he died. He was unclaimed by Death. Apparently, your Death does not deal with real people. We buried him at the bottom of the mountain.

That is the story of how the three of us outcasts became two outcasts, who were stuck on an island that did not make sense.

“Fascinating,” said King John the Cute. “And I weep for your friend. Please, go on.”


(To be continued on Sunday…)

Like my writing? Try ‘The Emoticon Generation’.

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Man Who Thought Laughter Was a Hug

April 23, 2013

If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:

The Man Who Thought Laughter Was a Hug

(Containing the preposterous tale of a man struck by lightning.)


Once we had left the three doctors, continued Benjamin Miller his troubled tale, we explored the town in search of its secrets. Quite soon, we saw a group of men and women standing near an open door, and laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Sylvia asked one of the laughing men.

“It’s my grandfather,” said the man. “He’s dying.”

“That sounds very sad,” Sylvia said. “Why is everyone laughing?”

“You had better ask him,” said the man and pointed inside the house.

Sylvia, Ochi, and I walked into the house. An old man was lying on a bed, and everyone around him was laughing. Even the old man was laughing.

We approached the old man. Sylvia said, “We are strangers in town. We hear that you are dying.”

“Indeed I am.”

“But all your family and friends here, they are laughing.”

“It’s a good thing they are.”

“Why? Could you explain it to us?”

“For that, you will have to hear the story of my life,” said the old man. “Do you have time?”

“We do.”

“Good. So do I,” said the old man. Everyone around him laughed. And then he began to tell his tale.

My name is Happy Gladwell, began the old man. I was born in the big city of Green Is In, not a long walk from Capital City. When I was three years old, a big storm had come to the big city. I happened to be outside when the storm hit, and I couldn’t make it home in time.

As I tried to find shelter from the rain, lightning struck my head right here.

I passed out, and when I woke, the storm was gone.

The town’s doctors examined me and said that I was all right. But I was not all right. One thing had changed in me, and they did not see it. Something in my head has been reversed, and ever since the age of three my brain began to believe that a laugh was a hug.

That way, whenever someone laughed at something I said or did, I felt they were hugging me. Whenever someone hugged me instead of laughing at my joke, I did not care for it.

That is how I spent my childhood. I learned to be funny, and all my friends laughed and laughed at everything I said. I learned to make funny faces, and my little sister laughed and laughed.

Every time my mother would put me to sleep and kiss me goodnight, I made sure to tell her a joke. That way she laughed, and I felt she had hugged me.

Later on, when I grew older, I met a woman, my True Love. As soon as I saw her, I knew that I wanted her to love me for the rest of my life. And so, for every day since, I had made her laugh at one thing or another.

Together we moved to the Land of No Respect, where the funny people belong. Here, we had children. I made faces to my children each and every day, and that way I felt they hugged me and loved me.

This was decades ago. Now, everyone is older. My children are parents and grandparents, and I am old and dying. But old as I am, I want everyone’s love. So here we sit, and each person, at his or her turn, remembers a funny story about something I did or said during my lifetime, and everyone laughs. That way, I can die knowing everyone loves me.

This has been the sad story of my funny life, said Happy Gladwell.

And having said those last words, Happy Gladwell died.

Half the people laughed while half the people cried. Then the half that cried laughed, and the half that laughed, cried. And so they changed, back and forth, crying and laughing, laughing and crying. When they cried, it was funny, because they had just laughed. And when they laughed, it was sad, because they were actually sad.

Ochi, Sylvia, and I gave their condolences to the family, and said that Happy Gladwell seemed to have made many people happy. Then, deep in thought, the three of us left the place.

And now you’ve heard, King John the Cute, the story of how something can be funny and sad at the same time.


(To be continued on Thursday…)

Like my writing? Try ‘The Emoticon Generation’.


‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Three Doctors

April 21, 2013

If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:


The Three Doctors

(Containing the cuckoo tale of the three doctors.)


The three of us, Benjamin Miller told King John the Cute, entered the only town on the island of the Land of No Respect. The town, just like the shore, was paved knee-deep with whipped cream.

The first door on the right said, ‘DOCTOR W.’, the second door on the right said ‘DOCTOR Z.’, and the third door on the right said ‘DOCTOR C.’.

Seeking a doctor to help Ochi’s broken hand, but not knowing which doctor was best, we decided to knock on the first door on the right.

An old man with white hair and a stethoscope opened the door.

“Ah, strangers! We don’t get many of those! Hello! My name is Doctor Wacky!”

I explained Ochi’s condition, and Doctor Wacky asked us to come in. “We must examine your friend,” he said happily.

Doctor Wacky put Ochi on the patient’s bed, and began to examine him. The examination was as follows:

Doctor Wacky slapped Ochi’s cheek and said, “Does that hurt?”

“Ow! Yes!”

Doctor Wacky put two fingers up Ochi’s nostrils and said, “How many fingers do you feel?”

“Two. Why are you doing that?”

Doctor Wacky took two steps away from his patient. “Oh, this is very bad. Very bad. The patient has absolutely no sense of humor.”

“No, he has a broken hand,” said Sylvia.

“A broken hand heals,” said Doctor Wacky. “A sense of humor needs to grow from childhood. His condition is much more serious than that. What he needs is an operation. Hold on.”

Doctor Wacky took out his tools and within five minutes performed an operation on Ochi.

When Doctor Wacky stepped away from his patient, we saw that Ochi now had a big, round red button nose.

“What did you to do him?” Sylvia and I yelled together.

“Look!” Doctor Wacky squeezed Ochi’s new red nose, and a loud honk came out.

“Ah!” Ochi shouted in horror.

I quickly grabbed Ochi, and the three of us ran back out to the street.

“There were no doctors like this in my country,” said Ochi, rubbing his big, red nose.

“That was just one doctor. Come, let us knock on the second door. There is no way that there could be two crazy doctors on one street,” I said.

The three of us knocked on the second door, marked ‘DOCTOR Z.’. Immediately, another white-haired doctor opened the door. “Ho! I heard there were strangers in town! My name is Doctor Zany!”

I explained Ochi’s situation, that he had a broken arm and a strange new red nose. “Come in, come in! I will examine you.”

Doctor Zany put Ochi on his patient’s table, then put his hand in Ochi’s armpit and moved his fingers. “Does this tickle?” he said.


“Hmmm… Hmmm…” Doctor Zany put his mouth near Ochi’s left ear and said, “Zzzzz….. zzzzzzz…. Zzzzzzzz… Zzzzzzzz… Does that annoy you?”

“Yes! What kind of examination is this?”

Doctor Zany stepped away. “Oh, this is very very serious. You suffer from a severe deficiency in Vitamin L.”

“Vitamin L?” Sylvia asked.

“That’s the vitamin that supplies laughter to the body.”

“But—But—” I began, “his hand is broken.”

“And laughter is the best medicine,” Doctor Zany said. “Everyone knows that. Hold on, I will take care of him.”

Doctor Zany took out his tool kit, and within four minutes had performed an operation on Ochi. In the end, Doctor Zany stepped away and allowed Ochi and us to look at his handiwork.

Together we saw that Doctor Zany had put Ochi’s left hand on the right side of his body and his right hand on the left side of his body!

“What did you do?” the three of us shouted, flabbergasted.

“Let me ask you this,” Doctor Zany said. “How many pies hit you in the face today?”

“None,” said Ochi.

“None,” said Sylvia.

“None,” I said.

“Well, then,” said Doctor Zany and threw pies in all our faces. “That’s one today. Consider that a free service.”

I grabbed Ochi, and the three of us ran back out to the street.

“This place,” Ochi said, shivering from anger, “is… crazy! It’s crazy! Who are these legends? What are they doing here?”

“It is hard to listen to what you’re saying with your big, red button nose,” said Sylvia, half laughing, despite her frustration. “But this is the most unheardest place I ever heard of! There must be some sort of explanation. Still, now we have to fix your hands as well. Let us try the third doctor. There couldn’t possibly be three crazy doctors in one street, could there?”

The three of us agreed that there couldn’t be three crazy doctors in one small street, and so we knocked on the third door.

The third doctor was called Doctor Cuckoo. He asked us to come in.

“Please don’t examine him,” I told the doctor. “It is clear to anyone what is wrong with him. He has a big, red button nose that honks when you press on it, his right hand is on his left side, his left hand is on his right side, and his right hand – now on the left side – is broken.”

“Yes, yes…” Doctor Cuckoo. “It is quite clear what is wrong with him. A quick operation, and I will fix him.”

“Good,” said Sylvia said.

“Wait!” I shouted. “Please explain everything before you do something. One: You said it is clear what is wrong with him. What do you think is wrong with him?”

“His head isn’t screwed on straight,” said Doctor Cuckoo.

“Uh huh,” I said skeptically. “And what kind of operation were you thinking of doing?”

“I’m going to replace his neck with a big spring, and that way his head can bounce around. Shall I get to it?”

“No!” the three of us shouted together.

“What is wrong with this place?” Ochi said. “Why are the doctors crazy? What is your story?”

“The story is simple,” said Doctor Cuckoo. “This place is funny.”

“I do not understand,” Ochi said.

“This place is funny,” said Doctor Cuckoo.

“I do not understand,” Ochi said.

“This place is funny.”

“I do not understand.”

“This place is funny.”

“I do not understand.”

“This place… Are you listening?”


“…Is funny.”

Ochi and Sylvia and I thought about it for fifty nine seconds, then looked at each other. Ochi said, “Explain it to me another way.”

“All the people and creatures that are funny,” explained Doctor Cuckoo, “come to live in the Land of No Respect. Anyone who lives here is funny. Anyone who is funny, comes to live here.”

“That is the strangest thing I never heard of,” Sylvia said, and I nodded.

“While you think about it, let me ask you this,” said Doctor Cuckoo. “How many times have you been hit in the face with pie today?”

“One,” Ochi said.

“One,” Sylvia said.

“One,” I said.

“Well, then,” said Doctor Zany and threw pies in all our faces. “That’s two today. Consider that a free service.”

With a face full of pie, I grabbed Ochi, and the three of us ran out to the street.

“This land is zany, wacky, and cuckoo!” said Ochi in anger, wiping whipped cream from his face and throwing it on the ground.

“Calm yourself,” I said, wiping whipped cream from my own face as well. “I believe we should give up on finding a doctor on the island. When we get back to the main land, we will find a doctor that will put you back the way you were.”

“I say we go back now,” said Ochi. “There is nothing here for us. This is just where the weird legends go.”

“Could be. But since we’re here, let us explore a little more. Sylvia, what do you say?”

“Just a little more.”

With Ochi outnumbered, we decided to continue and explore the land.

Ochi took a step, slipped on the whipped cream, and fell on his bottom. “This is going to be a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng trip,” he said.

Now you know the cuckoo story in which we began to discover the secrets of the Land of No Respect. This was also the last happy story that happened to us on the island.

King John the Cute nodded, eager to hear more.

This has been the wacky story in which King John the Cute learned that doctors don’t always help.


(To be continued on Tuesday…)

Like my writing? Try ‘The Emoticon Generation’.

Glowing Review for ‘The Emoticon Generation’ from A Fantastical Librarian

April 20, 2013

The blog ‘A Fantastical Librarian’ gave a glowing review to The Emoticon Generation. Here’s a little taste:

I’d expected to enjoy it, based on Andrea’s recommendation, but what I hadn’t expected was that I’d be drawn in by the stories to the extent that I was. They were fascinating and even the ones that I didn’t like as much, were thought-provoking and made me think about what they meant and whether their technology might be actually possible. The stories were clever and as much about humanity and identity as about technology.

Read the entire review here.

This is the last (I think) of the blog tour reviews. Still to come this month: two interviews and a giveaway.


Guest Post at SF Signal: The Zombie Apocalypse Vocabulary

April 20, 2013

SF Signal was kind enough to publish a guest post I wrote about the zombie apocalypse vocabulary. It’s a comedy piece. Enjoy.

‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry

April 18, 2013

If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:



The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry

(Containing the preposterous tale of the boy who couldn’t cry.)


The three of us, said Benjamin Miller, were headed into the town on the island of the Land of No Respect, when we came upon a very sad little boy.

The boy was no older than eight. He appeared healthy and well fed, but his face was sad, and he was busy throwing rocks at the whipped-creamed sands.

I stopped, and said, “Young boy, why are you so sad?”

The young boy looked up at me, and with a sour face, said, “It’s a long story. You don’t want to hear it.”

“I have a little time,” I said. “What happened? What’s your story?”

“It’s like this,” said the boy. “My name is Emil, and I’m a rule breaker! If there is a rule, I break it. My parents always tell me what to do and I always try to do the opposite. I always get into trouble, and that is why they always catch me. And when they catch me, they always tell me to go to the shed and think about what I did.

“Well, I did. I thought about it, and I decided that it was time I broke the rules and regulations of the Land of No Respect!”

“The rules and regulations?” I said. Fred the Farting Ferret, who had allowed us entry to the island, had also spoken of rules and regulations.

“Yes,” Emil continued. “There are only a few rules and regulations to the Land of No Respect, and my Dad had taught me all of them since the day I was born. Rule one: You have to fall down at least five times a day.”

The three of us looked at each other. We had the same puzzled look you have now, King John the Cute.

The boy continued, “Rule two: You have to get pie in your face at least three times a day.”

Once more, the three of us exchanged look.

“It makes sense,” Ochi said. “Perhaps it explains the whipped cream all over.”

“Do you mind?” interrupted the boy. “I’m telling a story!”

We apologized and Emil continued. “Rule three: You have to go to the bathroom twice a day, just because it’s funny.”

I kept a serious face and did not dare to look at Sylvia or at Ochi.

“Rule four: You can only cry if it’s funny.”

“I’m sorry,” Sylvia interrupted. “What was that rule again?”

“Are you deaf?” shouted the boy. “Rule four is ‘You can only cry if it’s funny’. There are a few more rules, but this one is the stupidest rule ever! So last week I decided to break that rule. I pulled my sister’s hair, just so she could insult me. She did, and I was insulted, and I wanted to cry. But I couldn’t, because it wasn’t funny!”

“Ah,” Sylvia nodded, although she did not understand at all. The two of us nodded, as well. But we did not understand it, either.

“Every morning since then, when I woke up,” the boy continued, “I did something that was supposed to make me cry. I went out and kicked a big rock. It hurt me, and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t, because it wasn’t funny!”

“Ah,” the three of us said together.

“The next day I pulled out my own hairs, and it really hurt. But I still couldn’t cry, because it wasn’t funny!”

“Ah,” we said together again.

“I got my sister to hit me. And she did. But I still couldn’t cry, because it wasn’t funny!”


“I’ve been doing sad and hurtful things all week, just to make me sad and hurt, so that I could cry. But every time, I couldn’t cry because it wasn’t funny.”

“Benjamin,” Ochi whispered in my right ear. “This land is stranger and more outlandish than I had thought.”

I shushed Ochi, and the boy continued. “I want to cry. I need to cry. I’m sad, don’t you understand? I’m sad!”

“I see your prob—”

“I want to cry and I ca-ha-ha-ha-han’t!” On that last word, the boy began to cry. He could hardly say the last word for crying.

I laughed.

The boy looked at me harshly, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” I answered, clamping my mouth shut.

“Why can’t I cry-eye-eye-eye-eye!” The boy cried.

I put a hand over his face to hide his mouth. The boy was unaware that he was crying.

“When do I get to cry-eye-eye-eye-eye! No one lets me cry-eye-eye-eye-eye!”

“Excuse me, little boy,” Ochi said.

“Help me! I need to cry-eye-eye-eye-eye! Why can’t I cry-eye-eye-eye-eye! It’s so sa-a-a-a-a-a-d!”

“Little boy,” Ochi said with insistence. “Have you noticed that you’re crying now?”

The boy looked aside and saw Sylvia and I were giggling. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t mean to laugh when you’re crying.”

The boy stopped crying immediately. “Well, if you laugh at it, that takes all the fun out of crying!” The boy, no longer appearing sad, began to walk off back into town, “You ruined it for me! Thanks a lot!”

The three of us looked after the boy, as he ran down the path they had come. Suddenly, he slipped on the creamy sand, and fell on his behind.

I was worried for a second. Then I heard the boy shout happily, “That’s two today!”

I laughed again, then Sylvia laughed again, then we looked at Ochi.

“This is a strange and outlandish land, I tell you,” said Ochi. “And my arm hurts.”

Sylvia shrugged. “Strange and outlandish is what we came looking for. Surely, this boy’s story is different from the stories of all other creatures we have met in the Land of All Legends. Come, the town is near. We’ll get you a doctor.”

And so the three of us headed into town.

King John the Cute, this has been the story of our first encounter with the true strangeness of the Land of All Legends. Are you sure you want to hear more?

“Certainly,” said King John the Cute. “Please.”

“All right, then,” said Benjamin Miller. “Continue listening.”


(To be continued on Sunday…)

Like my writing? Try ‘The Emoticon Generation’.


Two Dudes in an Attic Reviews ‘The Emoticon Generation’

April 17, 2013

The Emoticon Generation blog tour continues to continue! The review blog Two Dudes in an Attic reviewed The Emoticon Generation, this time giving a thoughtful and thought-provoking review regarding the different ethical issues raised in the book. Here’s a little taste:

Some authors use their books as proxies arguing one aspect or another of the issue (Karl Schroeder, for example, or Greg Egan), while others, like noted internet puppy Charlie Stross, advocate in real life. Hasson doesn’t take a side in the debate, instead choosing to examine the researchers, early adopters, and guinea pigs that would make such a thing possible. He seems much less interested in the hows of the thing, or the effect it would have on us some hundreds of years down the line. Instead, Hasson teases out the ethical questions that will face us tomorrow, or next year, or next decade, if it turns out we can scan our brains into computers.

Read the entire review here.