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Welcome back!

Hey folks. As you can see, we’ve gone through a couple cosmetic changes: TheOptimistsUmbrella.com is now conqcomics.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

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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.

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

Iron2

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.

Cap

Hi, my name is Captain America.

Iron2

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?

Cap

My name is Captain America.

Iron2

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?

Cap

My name is Captain America.

Iron2

Stop it, Steve! This is serious!

Cap

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

Iron2

You’re acting like a child.

Cap

A child named Ca-

Iron2

Don’t say it!

Cap

Childnamedcaptainamerica.

Iron2

Ahhh!

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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.

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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.

o-NUTS-facebook.jpg

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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Don’t play with electronics. Don’t carry bags of Skittles. Childhood is illegal.

Help me understand things, folks. One kid named Taylor makes a nuclear reactor. Nobody panics. Another kid named Ahmed makes a clock, and his teacher thinks it looks enough like a bomb to inform the administrators who inform the police.

Now we have folks saying the clock is a fraud. That the second kid didn’t invent anything, that he fooled us or something.

Wha? Huh? How is…that’s…guys, that is SO FAR from the point, we’ve almost hit the curve of spacetime and are beginning our journey back to relevancy.

Seriously, though. I look at this, and yes, I see racism. But I also see a culture of paranoia where kids being kids is now a criminal offense.

DISCLAIMER: As usual, I don’t agree with every action taken, word spoken, or thought thunk by any of the folks I link to on this site. No one is so intellectually lazy to agree with anyone completely on everything.

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Day in the Life: Doctor’s Office

730am: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

8am: Doctor’s Office opens.

805am: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

815am: First patient arrives, waits in car.

830am: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

845am: Doctor’s Office employees wake up.

855am: Second patient sits in traffic for an hour and a half, lives two miles from Doctor’s Office.

9am: Third patient, after leaving the house at 7 to get there as early as possible, stops at Starbucks for a Double Cafe Latte Frappuccino Grande Tall Blonde.

915am: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

930am: Doctor’s Office employees think about going to work.

945am: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

955am: Twenty more patients arrive, use complicated algebra to park twenty cars among seventeen available parking spaces.

10am: Admins arrive at doctor’s office, give all patients thirty-seven forms to fill out, suppress laughter.

1015am: Admin answers phone, puts patient on hold, laughs with coworkers.

1020am: Nurses call second patient to see the doctor first because reasons.

1030am: Doctor arrives through secret back entrance, hopped up on Mountain Dew and Ring-Dings.

1045am: Charlie from IT smashes the servers with a hammer.

1055am: Third patient fills out seven more forms, heads to basement for MRI scan.

1100am: Doctor’s Office employees break for lunch.

1115am: First patient getting a little antsy after waiting 3 hours for someone to weigh him, take his blood pressure, and make the never-before-heard suggestion that he should eat more vegetables and go for a walk once in a while.

1130am: Second patient has already seen the nurse, still waiting on doctor — on anyone, really — to ask her again what her birth date is, what medications she’s on, and what the purpose of her visit is. It’s the only way she can feel anything anymore.

12pm: Third patient lying uncomfortably in MRI machine.

2pm: Second patient finishes reading all three issues of People and Time Magazine available, wonders what Milosevic’s trial will mean for the Balkans in the long run.

315pm: First patient, not having eaten since 7 that morning, wonders if Domino’s delivers to this location.

4pm: Doctor’s Office employees now back from lunch.

415pm: Second patient finally sees doctor.

416pm: Second patient goes home, feeling fulfilled.

430pm: First patient whereabouts unknown.

445pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

5pm: Doctor’s Office now closed.

515pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

530pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

545pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

6pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

630pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.

715pm: Third patient wakes up in MRI machine.

730pm: Phone rings at Doctor’s Office.