Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Something Well-Dressed This Way Comes

The big news this week, of course, is below....

The new Markhat novel, The Darker Carnival, is available for pre-order on Amazon!

The book goes on sale April 28, but Amazon, ever helpful, is now taking advance orders. Click below to see the product page, read the blurb, and gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the awesome cover art!

The Darker Carnival Amazon pre-order!

Prefer Nook books? No problem, the Barnes & Noble pre-order page is live too. Here's a link.

The Darker Carnival at Barnes & Noble

If you'd rather order direct from the publisher, the Samhain page is also up and running. They'll let you choose from any format at all.

The Darker Carnival from Samhain (all formats)

Kobo is also set up to take pre-orders!

The Darker Carnival from Kobo

So choose your flavor and dive right in.

MidSouthCon News

MidSouthCon 33 is right around the corner -- less than a month away now. If you haven't signed up or booked your room at the Hilton, you'd better hurry! The Con space will fill up fast, if it hasn't already.

I'll be there, and I'm on a number of panels this year. I'm even hosting one -- "Humor in Fantasy." So if you've ever wondered how to use humor in your own writing, you'd probably want to avoid this panel because so far my presentation notes consist of suggestions on where in the room to hide.

I do hope to read and then deconstruct a couple of humorous passages and scenes. Humor is one of the most effective tools in the writer's toolbox, but it's also the riskiest. A joke that falls flat is likely to take the book down with it.

But we'll talk about that in the panel! Come prepared with questions and small airplane bottles of hard liquor for the author. That way he might get distracted and you can all slip out and go watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show screening instead.

I've been working on my steampunk Ghostbusters proton pack, and it's nearly finished.

If you remember the last set of images I posted, the thrower part of the pack was a big long copper thing that actually shot confetti. Well, it's nice, and it works, but it's also huge and heavy. So I've built a second much smaller thrower that I'm pleased with. Pics of both are below!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Step Right Up -- The Darker Carnival Can Be Pre-ordered!

Markhat fans, I have great news!

The new Markhat novel, The Darker Carnival, is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

The book goes on sale April 28, but Amazon, ever helpful, is now taking advance orders. Click below to see the product page, read the blurb, and gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the awesome cover art!

The Darker Carnival Amazon pre-order!

I'm excited about this book. It is, I believe, the best thing I've ever written.

But you can judge that for yourself in April!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Possum Jackets

I have a book signing this Wednesday!

Fig. 7A. In which the Author demonstrates his usual decorum and restraint.

The signing is being sponsored by a Collierville book club. A portion of all sales go to charity, which is always a good thing, and I get a chance to stumble my way through a presentation in front of a new potential audience.

I'm always nervous before any kind of public event. There's so much potential for disaster, a small part of my brain is quick to point out. What if your belt inexplicably gives way, and your pants fall down? What if feral opossums have nested in your seldom-worn sports coat, and emerge during the reading? What if you you are suddenly possessed by A'Sha'Dasa, infernal Lord of the Inappropriate Anecdote Delivered to a Room of Horrified Elegant Ladies?

I really hate it when that last one happens.

But I'm sure everything will be just fine, and I'll even shake out my sports coat before leaving home.

Here are a few tricks I like to use to keep the audience engaged during a signing. Use them at your own discretion, and in accordance with the laws governing your city, state, nation, or planet of residence.
  • Bring a target pistol. Nothing drives home a printed exclamation point like discharging a pistol to add emphasis. 
  • If you can't voice your own characters well when reading dialog, bring along a troupe of voice actors, and remember -- there's ALWAYS room for interpretive dance.
  • Deal with hecklers as you would any small game animal. If the venue is a library, use a silencer, or brass knuckles.
  • Don't put out a tip jar unless you also put out a dance pole.
  • Most venues suggest your reading consist of no more than 3 to 5 minutes. I say give people more than they expect; read your entire book, except for the last page. It's not your fault the audience didn't bring cushions, or supper.
  • Make yourself stand out of the crowd with proper dress, good grooming, and a live chicken strapped to your head. Nobody ignores a live chicken. Nobody.
  • If a cell phone rings during your reading, laugh it off politely and continue. You don't want a repeat of Chicago. So much blood. So. Much. Blood.
  • Remember, you're an author. It is widely and correctly assumed that authors are walking compendiums of mental illnesses, substance abuse issues, and rampant Bohemianism. If you climb atop the podium midway through your reading, strip down to a Wonder Woman costume, and have a sudden violent altercation with a stuffed aardvark, people will just take that as the signal that a fresh wine and cheese tray has arrived and will act accordingly.
In other news, progress on the new (new) book continues. See you all next week!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Write Or Be Rich!

Lately I'be been inundated with ads and emails of a certain singular nature.

"Write Your Way to Riches!"
"Quit Your Day Job and Write Full Time!"
"How to Publish Your Way to Financial Security!"
"Write and Grow Extra Appendages!"

I made that last one up, although now that I've released it to the internet a spambot out there is already parsing it and thinking 'Yeah, okay, makes sense."

I don't bother clicking n any of these pleas that I garner vast wealth simply through the brilliance of my prose. I am writing, and I am selling, but I enjoy a distinct lack of urgent attention from Porsche salespeople, and I receive very few inquiries from shipyards concerning the trim on my luxury yacht.

Writing your way to being rich, as a business plan, is right up there with 'traveling to Europe via a hot-air balloon assembled from items in your garage.' Technically, it might be possible. If tens of thousands of people tried it, a few might make it across the Atlantic.

But most will wind up bobbing in the drink. That's just a reality.

I blame TV and the movies for the odd notion that publishing a book brings immediate wealth. How many TV and movie characters find themselves on whirlwind book tours, or buying new houses with cash, after their first sale? How many fictional authors live in luxury and ease, without ever appearing to, you know, write (I'm looking at you, Castle)?

What annoys me most about these silly tropes is that a writer had to write them down. A writer had to push aside his daily bowl of congealed Ramen noodles, take a swig of warm Discount Brand beer, and use the instantly-wealthy author as a plot device. I'm left to shake my head and ponder why any writer would commit such a heinous act of treachery.

Wish fulfillment? Bitter irony? Do scriptwriters actually make that much money?

I have no idea.

What I do know is that the writing business is located a vast gulf away from the realm of easy money portrayed by the spam emails and the media.

Writing itself is work. Hard work. It's not just typing. And even when you put in the hours and do everything right, there's no guarantee you'll see any sales. Worse, there's no guarantee you'll live long enough to see your wild fame rise and grow. Poor Edgar Allen Poe never knew he'd adorn tee shirts a century after his death. Note to the Universe: If I'm going to be on tee shirts, I want to see that. Make it so.

So, to add authenticity to the spam emails and the fly-by-night 'writing courses' and sketchy vanity presses, here are a few fact-based subject lines they should consider.

"Writing Your Way to Skinny: The Royalty-Only Author Diet!"
"Which Organs You Can Safely Sell, and Where: The Author's Guide to Supplemental Income"
"Deals With the Devil for Dummies"
"Scratch and Dent Canned Soup of the Month Club"

You're welcome, spammers and scammers.

Meralda and Mug News

The new installment in the Mug and Meralda series hit a minor snag this week when I realized each of the 78 pages completed thus far shared one small flaw -- they sucked.

Well, that's a bit harsh. The pages themselves weren't bad, but they weren't the book I want to write, either. So, after a few days of blank staring and incoherent mumbling, I've figured out where the whole thing went wrong (page one, chapter one) and I know how to fix it.

All those hours of work? Gone, but not wasted. Yes, I'm starting over, but I try to look at it this way -- charging off in the wrong direction led me to the unexpected clearing that caused me to pause, blink in the sudden sunlight, and realize I'd been going the wrong way all along.

That's just the way it happens, sometimes. You take a few deep breaths, start a new file, and keep going.

Markhat News

The Darker Carnival will be available for pre-order on March 29! Here's the 'coming soon' page at Samhain, including the funny warning label for the book.

That's it for this week! Remember, tonight is the season premier of The Walking Dead! If you're a Walking Dead fan -- even if you're not -- you should watch the short video I'm posting a link to. It's hilarious -- love the singing walkers -- and you don't need to watch the show to enjoy it.

Carl Poppa

You can't handle my flow!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cosplay and Cons and Certain Bad Behavior

From MidSouthCon 32.

I'm giving you guys a break from steampunk ghostbuster pics this weekend. I'm still working on the rig, sure, but the changes have been subtle and the number one rule of blogging is 'Don't bore your audience.'

So I'll post pics when significant progress has been made.

Also from last year's Con.
I did mention that this year's MidSouthCon will mark my entry into the world of cosplay, as I'll be attending in full Victorian steampunk regalia. I'm looking forward to it, largely because I'm a big believer in never acting one's age, but also because the people I've seen engaging in cosplay always seemed to be having fun.

But as I started reading about cosplay at cons, another side of the experience was revealed to me, and it's not a pretty side, either.

Yes, I'm talking about the awful treatment some female cosplayers endure at Cons.

I must be pretty naive. I always thought of SF/fantasy cons as safe places, where intelligent, imaginative people gather to celebrate the art and literature for which they share a love. That's what I've seen, in the four or five years I've been attending MidSouthCon.

But sadly, that's not everyone's experience. I read a lot of accounts by cosplayers (female, almost exclusively) who were groped, insulted, stalked, mocked, or even assaulted because of their costumes. No, not at MidSouthCon, let me make that clear. I haven't read of anyone being troubled there.

Let me just say this to my male counterparts who will be attending the Con. I know most of you are upright gentlemen, who wouldn't dream of grabbing a woman simply because she's in costume.

So it's up to us -- all of us -- to keep an eye out for the few among us who might stoop to such bestial behavior.

We men can all help. Don't laugh at crude remarks. Don't encourage lewd conversations. Make it known that you neither condone nor tolerate such things. If we, the menfolk, can establish an air of civility, we've eliminated at least one aspect of the environment that fosters bad behavior.

Yeah, okay, I sound like I'm preaching. Maybe I am, a little bit. But I believe I'll find a lot of support among men, especially if enough of us come forward and say out loud 'We don't want this behavior in our ranks, and we won't tolerate it, either.'

I know this attitude is shared by all the men I've met at MidSouthCon. And I'm proud of that.

So, fellow gentlemen of cons and cosplay, let be vigilant. As my cosplay character Artemis Watson would say, "There should be no room among gentlemen for crudity against ladies, and no tolerance for those who would practice it."

Good day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steampunk Ghostbuster Part 3: MidSouthCon 33

For the last couple of weeks, I'm been working on a steampunk ghostbuster's backpack unit. That build is nearly complete; all I need to add are a few finishing touches, some antiquing, and of course the straps that will (hopefully) keep the back on my back.

But the pack is only half the device. There's a hand-held 'thrower' unit that attaches to the pack via a thick cable. The thrower emits the stream of luminescent rarefied aether which allows our intrepid steampunk hero to capture pesky specters.

My thrower comes with a built-in surprise, which I hope will lend a bit of theater to the Con's opening ceremony.

Below are the parts which went into the thrower:

As you can see, there's nothing extravagant here. Mostly, it's sturdy high-pressure (schedule 40) PVC pipe and a few fittings. The gray thing with the red handle is a 2 inch ball valve. The gauge is a working 0 to 100 PSI air pressure gauge. The other metal item is a simple air fill valve.

After drilling and threading holes for the valve and the gauge, I used PVC solvent to build the rest. Then I painted it copper and added a few touches of texture here and there. The thrower isn't quite finished, but you get the idea.

What's the surprise, you ask?

It's a surprise. Some of you have probably already figured it out. If not, I'm saving it for the MidSouthCon 33 opening ceremony.

Here's the pack and the thrower, shown together from various angles:

This thing is going to be beautiful once the final finish is applied. Beautiful and heavy -- I think the pack alone weighs around 35 pounds.

I also picked out a hat, and it's on its way here. I choose a John Bull top hat, shown below:

Hey, you can't be a proper steampunk gentleman without an excellent hat. Going about hatless just isn't done, old chap.

Hey Look I Still Have Books to Sell!

Wherein Our Hero plugs a few of his titles, because 2 inch ball valves and elegant top hats aren't cheap.

All the Turns of Light -- Airships! Sea Monsters! Magic gone mad! And coffee, lots of coffee...

The Five Faces -- A murderer taunts his victims with drawing depicting the date and manner of their gruesome deaths. The killer hasn't been wrong yet -- and now Markhat's drawing has arrived. Can any man, even Markhat, escape Fate?

The Darker Carnival -- Out in April, so be watching for it!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Steampunk Ghostbuster, Part 2: MidSouthCon 33

In yesterday's blog (click here if you missed it), I started building a steampunk ghostbuster's backpack. I got a lot of work done today on the pack, and while the unit is a long way from being done, I'd thought I'd share a few pics in a rare non-Sunday blog post.

Here's the rig, with some copper and widgets added:

Please keep in mind none of the actual detail work has started yet. This is all rough high-level stuff going on. It's the little details that really bring a piece to life, and those aren't there yet, but I'm still pretty pleased with the look.

At the bottom of the rig -- to the far right in the picture above -- you'll see a blue disk-shaped affair. That part lights up, and it;s working. Below is a pic of the EL wiring in action.

It produces the eerie blow glow I was looking for. I'll hide the red LED and the power/switch unit with widgets later.

The main problem I'm going to face is the sheer weight of the backpack. All that copper and steel isn't light. I may have to hire an able-bodied assistant to discretely follow me around and hold the pack up if it gets any heavier.

After the antiquing and the detail work is done, I'll start work on the thrower, which will attach to the backpack via a flexible metallic conduit. The point of attachment will be the copper thing sticking up from the center on the far left in the first photo.

The thrower will also incorporate some lighted elements.

That's it for now -- more pics this weekend!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Steampunk Ghostbuster, Part 1: MidSouthCon 33

It takes a lot to get most writers excited. Face it, we're a surly, neurotic bunch, constantly over-caffeinated, often sleep-deprived, and our heads all ache from staring at the dreaded blank page that, unless filled, means the end of our stint as an author.

But if you'll look at the MidSouthCon image above, you'll see something that actually made me perk up. Why, I even went so far as to open both eyes and even rise from my customary slump -- because my name is suddenly on the same page with luminaries such as Cary Doctorow and Melissa Gay.

I'm not comparing myself with Cory Doctorow. I'm not worthy to cap the man's pen -- but as Toastmaster of MidSouthCon 33, I'll get to sit at the table with the real Guests of Honor and hang out with them under no threat of being removed by security.

Not bad for a Mississippi kid most often described as 'that weird dude from Yocona.'

As Toastmaster , I get to speak at the opening ceremonies of the Con. I'll also be hosting a writing panel, entitled 'Humor in Fantasy' (dates and times to be announced). So if you're aspiring author or a reader who wants a peek behind the curtain, I invite you to look me on on the Con schedule and drop by.

I've attended MidSouthCon many times, but always in street clothes. This year, hang on to your top hats, gentle readers, because I am coming in full-blown cosplay, as Artemis Watson, Spectral Elimination Agent.

In other words, a steampunk ghostbuster.

My clothing I'm going to keep under wraps until the day of the Con itself. But what is a ghostbuster, even one from 1888, without his trusty positron collider backpack and beam thrower?

A sad man in a bowler hat, that's what. Since I can't exactly order a steampunk ghostbuster backpack rig from Amazon, I'm building my own, and I'm going to record the build here, week by week, in my blog.

Now, just in case you've never seen the movie classic 'Ghostbusters,' here's the proton pack from the original movie:

It's a nice piece of special effects gear. It looks just techy enough to be convincing.

But as my own rig needs to use the technology of a fictional Victorian 1888, my pack is going to be a bit different. No machined steel, no decals, no modern insultaed cables. Wood and brass and copper were the order of the day.

Now, keeping in mind I'm a writer, you can probably guess what my budget for this project might be. Go on, guess, and if you chose '20 bucks or less,' grab yourself a gold star.

So, of to my junk crate went I, heavy of heart but filled with purpose. Here are the parts I selected, minus the 3 inch PVC sewer pipes that didn't make it into the picture:

It's a humble pile of what can accurately be called junk. Plumbing leftovers, wire, defective engine parts, a toilet fill assembly, old printer cables -- just junk.

Now view the same junk (and a few strays added along the way) after being painted one of three colors -- gloss black, hammered brass, or bright copper. With no rhyme or reason employed to select what bits of junk wound up painted what. Let Chaos have a hand, I say.

It's all still junk, but now it's junk on a mission. And that mission is to somehow fit together into what fools people momentarily into believing they are looking at a machine of some sort.

I needed something to serve as a frame for my machine, and as luck would have it I found an old wooden serving tray that was stored improperly and wound up curling due to contact with moisture. The curvature is perfect to work as a backpack, and the dimensions of the board were just right. I sanded it, stained it, and then I spent most of today bolting various items of junk to it.

I give you the basic main component installation of my Victorian ghostbuster rig.

It is by no means finished. No. The finished version will feature lights -- lots of them. There will also be copper tubes and brass wires running everywhere, as well as dials and meters.

This is just the skeleton. Fleshing it out will take days. Imagine each of the doo-dads pictured above connected to all the others. Oh, and the bottom-most thingamabob?

It's transparent over parts of its surface. I'm going to fill it with eerie blue LED or EL lighting, to give the rig some flash. A lot of the exterior wiring will also glow, since EL (electroluminescent) wiring has gotten so cheap even I can afford it.

The weird rings are actually worn-out clutch plates from my motorcycle. The tall black thing beneath the crossing of the cables is the agitator motor from a Dyson vacuum cleaner. The cable things are old school serial printer cables, and the lighted display at the bottom is a CD-ROM case with part of an old deadbolt door lock housing attached.

The whole thing is a little more than two feet tall and about 14 inches wide (perfect as a back-pack). It's already pretty bloody heavy, and I haven't even put batteries in the tubes yet. I used bolts to attach everything, so there was a lot of drilling, but other than that the construction is basic.

I'd post a plan here but I don't have any such thing. I grab parts and if they look cool together and I can figure out how to make them fit, yay, they get added. Which is also my approach to life, I suppose, and yes it does result in the occasional hot mess.

Once the backpack is complete, I'll bolt a leather harness to it, and start work on the hand-held beam emitter. And I'll post all the pics here.

Oh yeah -- buy a book! Or leave a review! Remember, every purchase helps fund my acquisition of old vacuum cleaner parts and out-of-date discount bread. Thank you very much.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No Words

I don't need to tell any of you it's been a rough week here on Planet Earth.

I can imagine aliens discussing Earth as we sometimes discuss bad neighborhoods. "I'd not touch down there, Zalod," said G'Frick to his cephalopod friend. "That place is so violent you can get killed just for drawing a cartoon."

G'Frick the three-legged saucer pilot is quite correct. On Earth, you can indeed be cut down simply because someone finds the lines you drew with plain black ink to be unacceptable.

You won't see me type the words 'as an artist' here in reference to myself. I do not and have never considered myself an artist. I don't wear a lot of black turtlenecks and I don't launch into lengthy orations on the 'art of the craft' or the 'craft of the art' or anything else along those lines.

I'm just a guy who tries to tell entertaining stories in the hopes of making a buck off them. I believe the classic definition of such activity is that of being a 'hack.' I've been called that before, and I didn't take the expected offense. Storytelling is an ancient and noble tradition, and so is eating. I don't see a single conflict of interest there.

But I do take offense at the notion that my words might get me killed one day. While my body is hardly likely to ever grace the cover of GQ Magazine, I've come to rely on the wretched thing, and rifle rounds would put an end to that relationship.

Am I likely to ever be targeted by nut-job fundamentalists of any stripe over something I wrote?

No. I write fantasy. Sure, there are a lot of people who see my genre as a tool of Hell, Devil, and Co., but in a happy twist of fate these people don't tend to read anything but Jack Chick tracts and they are thus unaware of my existence, much less my list of titles.

But that's not the point, really. If one of us hacks is in danger, then we all are, to a degree. Because once the arts come under assault -- once we who draw or write or make music or sculpt or paint are told we can't cross this line, or say these words, or mock this idea, then we might as well hand over our tools to the gunmen and let them take over the whole field of human expression.

Which would mean we'd only ever get to see one narrow view of the world and our place in it. Only hear one song. Only read one book.

I don't care to live in such a world. I doubt you do either.

It won't happen, of course. No matter how many gunmen take aim, or how many bullets fly. We as a species are simply too fractious, too ornery, too determined to each have our own way to ever unite, willingly or not, under a single icon.

Which is either our saving grace or our fatal flaw. Only time will decide that.

But for now, the arts and the artists and yes, even the lowly hacks, we will fight back. No one is ever going to tell me what I can or cannot write. And I'm not alone. At my sides slouch ten thousand times ten thousand bleary-eyed, coffee-swilling hacks, each of us pounding furiously away at manuscripts while not giving one single wet frog fart what religious, moral, or cultural objections our works might raise.

Do I write to insult, to mock, to inflame?

No. Quite the contrary, in fact. I want to make my readers happy. Happy with the experience of reading my book. Happy that they chose to spend their time and money on my work. I welcome Muslims, Christians, Jews, Wiccans, Pagans, Druids, Rosicrucians, Witches, Pastafarians, Subgeniuses, Orthodox Mayonnaissers, molds, fungi, Dalmations, heavy earth moving machines, robins, meter readers, Batman, and everyone else to my books. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I just want to tell a good story, and make someone smile.

But I'll be damned if I'll let anyone tell me how to do that. Nobody has the right. To no one will I extend the privilege.

So, to my fellow hacks, to the artists, to anyone and everyone who works to illuminate or illustrate some facet of existence, I salute you. We just lost a few of our own.

Mourn them, yes, but carry on. We owe them that. Let's bury the nut-jobs under an avalanche of good books and good music and good art. Bad books and bad music and bad art, even. Anything, as long as we don't ever let madmen dictate the direction and content of the arts from the barrel of a gun.

Carry on, folks. Always carry on.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015: The Time Traveler's Field Guide

Don't press the red button. Really. Just don't.
Thank you for purchasing the GE Time Tourist Model 100. We hope you enjoy the advanced features of this deluxe time machine. With proper care and maintenance it will provide you with many years of carefree service, provided you don't create Catastrophic Paradox Events and destroy the universe (this event is not covered in your GE Extended Warranty purchase).

You have entered a destination year of 2015. This destination year presents many opportunities for fascinating tourism experiences. Please observe these local customs and practices to prevent detection by the locals.
  • Cell Phone Use. To blend in, you should AT ALL TIMES be either texting, browsing, conversing, or otherwise consulting your cell phone (i.e., a primitive hand-held computing/communication device, see Glossary for complete description). Proper use involves holding the device within 20 cm of your face at all times, even when walking, driving, or engaging in any other form of interaction. Direct person-to-person communication in 2015 is rare, and generally only conducted between Suspects and their Arresting Officers (see Glossary for full descriptions). Cell phone use during Movies (see Glossary) is mandatory.
  • Verbal Communication. When in public, and especially in the presence of Small Children (Figs. 6 through 37) pepper your speech with expletives common to the time (See Glossary, Vocabulary Addendum 16). Do so forcefully, in a loud voice, and with frequent repetition.  TIME TRAVELER PROTIP -- If you are not drawing hostile glares from strangers, you are insulting them by NOT USING ENOUGH PROFANITY. Increase potency and frequency.
  • Clothing and Dress. When in a casual public setting, demonstrate your down-to-earth nature by donning soiled, mis-matched clothing, which should prominently display profane verbiage (see Glossary, 'Shopping at the Wal-Mart, early 21st Century'). If attending a formal event or venue, dress appropriately in cargo shorts. No one has paid any attention to dress since 1959.
Use of English in North America. By 2015, spoken English as a language had begun to devolve into the system of grunts and gestures extant by 2100. If you find yourself in North America in this period, here is a guide to basic communication, including the phrases selected by fellow time tourists as those most often employed among the natives:
  1. "I seen / done / been." Use of tenses for verbs was largely abandoned by American English speakers in 2015. Thus, do not say "I have been to the emergency room," but say instead "I been treated for gunshot wounds at the emergency room." When giving statements to the police, do not say "I saw the crazed gunman open fire." Instead, say "I seen him start shooting, please stop beating me, I'm not resisting, I'm not resisting."
  2. "Like." The word 'like,' once defined as 'similar to' or 'having affection or favor toward,' became an all-purpose modifier by 2000. Thus, one should say "Like, I mean, you are, like, in, like, the room but, like, I don't know, like, yeah," when one means "I am in favor of light trade embargoes when they benefit local farmers."
  3. "Bro / bra / bae." All indicators of an intimate relationship, or precursors to an impending bar-brawl. Use sparingly, as the rules for usage are still evolving. Suggested safe use: "Like, bra, I been like, you know, sure." CAUTION: Use of the phrase 'Don't tase me bro' will almost certainly result in a tasing (see Glossary for definition).
  4. "I am sorry if you were offended by my words / actions / discharge of a shotgun in a petting zoo." Apologies in which the speaker takes responsibility for any wrongdoing vanished from the language in the 1990s. Instead, the speaker should acknowledge the hurt feelings, but then blame the other party or parties for feeling them. Particularly popular among political figures until elections were eliminated in favor of random coin-tosses by the Like It Matters Act of 2079.
The year 2015, while an excellent choice as a tourism destination date, also presents certain risks for even the seasoned time traveler. Remember, avoid direct eye contact with the natives, don't eat anything from the '99 cent value menu,' and don't bother with any of the Diehard sequels.