How Protests Work

Say what you will about Black Lives Matter. At least they understand the fundamental fact about protesting: In order to be effective, it has to be disruptive. They didn’t call it a “sit-in” because Dr. King and co. were standing quietly with placards in a special cordoned area, out of sight of racist business-owners and their racist customers. The idea that protests should only happen in certain, legally-sanctioned spaces is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the fact that people choose to abide by such totalitarian regulations. If I want to protest a business or organization, I’m not going to do it three streets away, in an alley, facing a brick wall.

Since Ghandi’s Salt March, the whole point of nonviolent resistance has been the spectacle. Plan something public. Make sure the press will be there. Let the bad guys come and beat the crap out of you. Sit back and watch world opinion force the bad guys to cave to your demands. That’s how it works. That’s how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 got passed. That’s how the British Raj fell. That’s how you get what you want.

That said, if you’re protesting just because your union says you have to, please stay in those cordoned areas. No one cares that labor and management couldn’t come to an agreement over dental plans before October 1st. I gotta get to Cincinnati.

And if you’re a teacher striking during the school year?

Quit your job because you clearly don’t care about it. 

And if you’re a teacher whose union threatens your job if you do not protest during the school year, go outside and picket those jackasses.

This is not Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or Airstrip One. You can protest anyone, anywhere, at any time. And if they don’t let you, sue the bastards. What’s more American than that?


Indecision 2016

The current election appears to be a no-win scenario. I’m not a big fan of Hillary, but Trump, in my eyes, lost the election with his talk of the of Mexican illegal immigrants being rapists. Sorry, you don’t get to generalize about 11 million of the world’s poor like that and then be leader of the free world. Not in my America. So then I thought Ok. Maybe I’ll go third party.

Then I saw this sad display:

I know what Aleppo is. Should I run for president when I turn 35?

So yeah. Now I feel like this:

Side-Note: In the above video, I am all three characters.

Foot-Note: I once rode the bus with a woman who wore an eye patch everyday. Yes, she did look like a pirate. Yes, it was cool. And no, I never spoke with her, though she seemed friendly enough.

Head-Note: I hope you listened/watched that whole Trump video. He says we have no idea who’s coming in. Really? I suppose the Syrians are just WALKING over the Atlantic? Trump needs a kickstarter. He’s got a billion dollars and no globe.

Shoulders-Note: And yes, that’s an old Trump clip. But if we can criticize Hillary over this mess from four years ago, we can criticize Trump over comments from last year.



Never Mind

It ain’t broke. Let’s not mess. Bubblegum-Man will resume when I have enough content for 6 months or so of updates. Until then, enjoy random musings as always.


Welcome back! – UPDATE

Hey folks. As you can see, we’ve gone through a couple cosmetic changes: TheOptimistsUmbrella.com is now conqcomix.net. The content hasn’t really changed that much. We’ll still be putting up Bubblegum-Man comics (issue 3 on the way, promise), as well as posting updates on my creative works and for the site as a whole under the “State of the Conq” category and blogging on a variety of subjects in the “Side of Conq” category. Bubblegum-Man will continue to use the “Bubblegum-Man” category and will still update at the top of the page. Comics like In His Spare Time and Apples and Oranges (coming soon-ish) will update with the blog postings. Hope you like the new layout! Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read Bubblegum-Man yet, now’s the time to get caught up on issues 1 and 2. Just click on the links below.

Bubblegum-Man #1

Bubblegum-Man #2

These two issues will be getting remastered in the near future, with clearer dialogue and tighter plotting. Keep your eyes out for that!

UPDATE: For convenience and old times’ sake, TheOptimistsUmbrella.com and williambrust.com will both still direct to this site.


Summer Break

Hey folks. The site is going on a long hiatus. I’ve realized this blog/website is not focused enough, and there needs to be more new content on a weekly basis.

Much of the plan is TBD for now, but here are the ideas I have so far:

  • I will finish crafting the next three issues of Bubblegum-Man. Once they are done, the site will update automatically on a weekly or possibly bi-weekly basis (oooooh, fancy).
  • More IHST and new comics updating on an irregular basis.
  • I will hire or find a guy or gal to help me make the website look more professional. Maybe figure out how Black Mudpuppy gets his comic to update just by clicking on it. (Witchcraft? Probably not.)
  • The content of the blog will be more focused. I’d rejected the specialization trend in blogs and sites, but you know what? It seems to be what the people want.
  • New hats. Ok, maybe not new hats.

We should be back at the end of the summer. If not, just keep waiting.


“It’s the only argument I need, Shawn!”


Hi, my name is Iron Man, and I think superheroics need to be regulated by the government. It’s very important. A lot of us have powers and abilities that can cause untold devastation, enough to make Nagasaki look like a day at Chuck E. Cheese. We need to be answerable to someone, somewhere. We can’t just be cowboys.


Hi, my name is Captain America.


Iron Man here again. Look, I understand folks are concerned about their civil liberties. But really, this is not a valid argument in this instance. Would it be against civil liberties to make sure nobody can blow up your entire town just by thinking bad thoughts? Do we really want a world where the Hulk destroys Tuscon because he ate a bad burrito?


My name is Captain America.


Look, at some point, we have to make sacrifices. In order to live together in a free and just society, people have to feel safe and cared for. We can’t do that if people can run around shooting fireballs out of their eyes every time the Pats win the playoffs. It’s all about personal responsibility. How can a democracy function if the gods who live in it cannot be  held accountable for their actions?


My name is Captain America.


Stop it, Steve! This is serious!


I am taking this very seriously, Tony. And my name is Captain America.


You’re acting like a child.


A child named Ca-


Don’t say it!






The Next Three-Quarters: Good Ending

Something I wrote a while ago, when I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. Hopefully, this will bring you some peace as it has for me. I wrote this over a year ago, when I was thirty and feeling it. (Some parts are edited for content and surprise, as I fully intend to propose to whoever I wind up with at the location indicated in this piece, and I want it to be a surprise!)


            Sad endings are easy. You don’t really have to do anything to get the worst possible ending. Here’s the worst possible ending: Everyone dies slow, in pain, alone. The end.

But what about a happy ending? What if everything goes right? What would that look like and how would I get there?

Conq worked very hard and managed to get his novel published within the next few months. He published a few short stories, and within the year, his reputation within the scifi/fantasy community was established. He earned enough money from his writing to quit his job at Walgreens and move out of his parents’ house. Towards the middle of 2014 [sic], he moved into his new home, an apartment in midtown Atlanta. As he began spending more time with his old church pals and other friends, he met a beautiful redhead with a penchant for spaceships and hard CANDY. She liked his writing, and he was pretty impressed with her own artistic endeavors. They both liked Doctor Who and lasagna. They went out for a year, after which William proposed to her at the CANDY STORE atop the CANDY STORE. She said yes, and they were wed as the ball dropped on 2016 [sic]. They honeymooned in Europe and had CANDY across several notable landmarks. Lots and lots of CANDY. It was pretty neat. Anyway, they had some kids and things got a bit more complicated. The pressures of family and work and their disparate artistic ventures threatened to drive them apart, but they got through it. Their kids went on to do great things. Conq and his wife got old and moved to Hawaii, where they died in their mid-120s. They were buried on the side of a volcano, like a pair of badasses. Because that’s who they were, who they’d always been, and who they’d always be..

I didn’t move out of my parents’ house in 2014. It’s 2016, and I’m still as single as ever. My journey is taking longer than I’d wished.

But I still hope to meet someone special who thinks I’m not so bad either.

And I still would like to be buried in the side of a volcano.


Top 6 Mistakes People Make When Trying to Get Healthy

Doctors, health professionals, and food babes mean well. Usually, they genuinely want to help and aren’t just trying to take all your money. But for all their well-meaning advice, sometimes these self-proclaimed nutritionists are just out of touch with the reality of the average little Viking. Read on for more.

6. Eat Slow

Doctors always say to eat slowly. Maybe that is a good idea if you’re Dr. Fancy McFancypants who wakes up at nine for a lavish breakfast, goes to work at eleven, takes a two-hour lunch at noon, and drives a Porsche home at four. The rest of us have to rush. Eat breakfast fast in the wee hours of the morning so you can beat traffic to work. Try to get to work early to wear down the ever growing Mountain of Random Stuff. Rush through your fifteen or twenty minute lunch. Then go home and eat dinner fast because you have way more work to do before bedtime. Doctors don’t live in my world.

Better idea: Shrink portion size. Instead of buying the 6-piece Super-Fried Chicken-ish Nuggets, get the 4-piece Super-Fried Chicken-ish Nugget. I know you want that medium fry desperately. Go ahead and get it. But who really needs 280 oz. of soda for lunch? Get the small. A “small” soda is, like, 20 oz. at McDonalds. That’s, what, three or four Human-Size Glasses’ worth?

5. Daily Exercise

Exercise everyday is not impossible. In theory. In practice, everyone is exhausted after working 10 hours every day (except, of course, for doctors and other health professionals and people who have no interests, passions, or goals in life outside of their own physicality). Exercise in the morning is a joke. In the summer, it’s possible. But in the winter? It was 19 degrees this morning. No thanks.

Physical fitness is terrible. But it’s also important. If you’re fat, your family and friends won’t stop hassling you to lose weight. Oh, and supposedly, there are health benefits to being in good shape. Even if you already have good cholesterol, good blood pressure, and good everything else. But the average joe has no time for it, and the average job is high-stress, low-movement. The perfect recipe for feeling too exhausted to exercise.

Better idea: Weekly LARPing. Seriously. Spend a couple hours every Saturday swinging a foam sword around and chasing friends dressed as orcs or elves, and you’ll be in tip-top shape in no time!

If you find yourself without time/energy/interest for LARPing, no worries. Contrary to what every other health professional says, we all get plenty of exercise. We all walk everywhere we can’t drive. The problem is not and never was exercise. The problem is our intake. In Western culture, we sit a lot and eat dozens of pounds of food at every meal. Maybe try and get that number down to single digits?

4. Quit Carbs

First of all, “carbs” aren’t really a thing. There are chemicals called “carbohydrates” which the body uses for energy, but these are really only important for biologists, doctors, and other medical professionals/high school biology and home ec teachers to worry about.

There is nothing wrong with eating bread or chips or pasta or any of the other grain-based foods that make life worth living.

Better idea: Eat fewer things. Believe it or not, corn sugar is not actually bad for you. I know this because I know what sugar is, and I know what corn is, and neither of those things are going to kill you.

Ears of sweet corn

Pictured: Less dangerous than pretty much anything ever.

What DOES kill you is eating 72 gallons of high-fructose corn syrup every month.

Try getting that number down to 60 or so, and you should be golden.

3. Join a Gym

Gyms are terrible. They are loud, smelly places where fun and joy go to die. The only people who like the gym are people who say “Beast Mode” without even once thinking about Transformers. If you like going to the gym, feel free to go, and please stay there.

Better idea: Walk to the library. Did you know your town has a library? Most do, and most are empty. Yours should be within walking distance. If it isn’t, imagine how much exercise you’ll get just walking a town or two over!

2. Try a Cleanse

Listen very carefully. Cleanses are stupid, and you’re stupid for living off cranberry juice for a week.

Better idea: Stop being so stupid.

1. Eat Only Raw Fruits and Vegetables and Protein

Ok. I don’t what happened to people in the last ten years, but the word you are looking for is “MEAT,” not protein.


Coincidentally, the word vegetarians are looking for is “NUTS.”

Now that we got that cleared up, this is actually pretty good advice. The only problem is it’s a little too extreme. Especially for people who still like to enjoy restaurants, work-related social events, and birthday parties.

Better idea: Eat whatever you want, just eat less of it. Seriously, your health is not that complicated. People have been on this planet for a million years. You really think OUR generation is the first to figure out how to eat right?

Look, here’s the Secret: Eat less stuff and walk more. That’s pretty much it. Don’t listen to anything anyone else says. Except your doctor. Doctors know everything. That’s why they get to wake up at 9am, take two-hour lunches, and drive around in Porsches.

Image Sources:

Nuts picture from Healthy Diet Advisor. Retrieved from: https://www.healthydietadvisor.com/reduce-cancer-risk-by-eating-nuts/ on 1/24/16.

Corn picture from Nebraska Corn Board. Retrieved from: http://www.nebraskacorn.org/issues-initiatives/your-food/field-corn-vs-food-corn/ on 1/24/16.




The Refugee Question

Listen, and I promise to make this quick. I do not intend to exaggerate the arguments I disagree with or cast aspersions upon those who make them. I simply wish to understand what, exactly, our intentions are in keeping Syrian refugees off American shores.

Safety, some say. We are concerned about ISIS infiltrating Syrian numbers to perform attacks upon American soil. Fair enough. But exactly how far are we willing to travel on this road? Are we simply going to stop at Syrian refugees? If we are as concerned and distrusting of the Muslim world as all that, hadn’t we better reopen Manzanar for new occupants?

I’m not trying to be snarky or offensive or dramatic. I’m genuinely asking whether we are prepared as a nation to round up our Muslim friends and neighbors on suspicion that any of one of them could have been or may someday become radicalized? Are we going to do what we did during World War II again? What we did to Japanese immigrants? Exactly how far are we willing to go in the name of public safety? Exactly what measures are we keeping on the table?

These questions must be pondered by every American, whether public official or ordinary citizen, as nothing less than the character of our country is at stake here.

Should we ID and track all Muslims in America, whether they be here on visas, work permits? As legal residents, aliens, or naturalized citizens? What about natural-born citizens?

Are third or fourth  generation Muslim Americans to be trusted? How long does a new neighbor have to live on our block before we accept them as our neighbor? 

What about non-Muslims who befriend Muslims or convert to Islam? Must we track them as well? Should Muslim citizens face restrictions until loyalty is proven?

I am not trying to make a straw man argument or reductio ad absurdum, although I may do so unintentionally. These are not measures I am pulling from thin air. These are the types of measures used by past governments worldwide which trust neither the citizen nor the foreigner. These are the sorts of measures being suggested by at least one prominent political candidate. Who else is contemplating these measures? Why? Do we agree? Why or why not?

Where are we going, as a nation, as a people? Who are we becoming?

These are not hypothetical or rhetorical questions. These are not mere exercises in rhetoric or debate, confined to the ivory towers of academia. Nor are these mere lightning rods for controversy, fodder for our daily spats on social media. Fuel for awkward family get-togethers and after dinner drinks with friends. These are not topics to respond to in the heat of the moment, when our blood is boiling, only to be forgotten the moment another celebrity shows his/her abs.

How we answer these questions over the next few weeks will determine the shape of our nation for the foreseeable future.

God willing, we will choose our next action wisely.

Please, America. Take your time on this one.