The Iron Writer: Challenge 9: Time to Vote!

The ninth round of Iron Writer stories are up! Not only can you see Kyle B. Stiff’s deadly battle against three other writers, you can even vote for your favorite story! That’s right, it’s not the fighters in the arena who make the outcome, as our moves and attacks are deemed by fate… instead, it’s the cheers of the crowd that determine victory or defeat!

Just go HERE and check out the contestants. All four stories are about five hundred words – that’s a mere single page of text – and each is hamstrung from the get-go by having to include four random set pieces. This challenge’s set pieces are a pregnant camel, a loom, a rollercoaster, and a sunken ship. Only a master could weave these four unrelated things into one cohesive narrative… and it’s up to you, the readers, to choose who will wear the crown and who will be buried in a shallow ditch where the arena’s toilets are dumped out biannually.


If you’re interested in Kyle B. Stiff’s battles in the Iron Writer competition, you can view the previous chapter HERE.

Or check out the next chapter HERE.


What does Frank Herbert’s Dune have to do with modern conspiracy theory?

Many, many connections are made between the seemingly disparate subjects of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction masterpiece and the world of modern conspiracy theory when Kyle B. Stiff, a conspiracy theorist nutjob extraordinaire, is on the case. Humor his deluded ass and take a look at the ravings of a failed Kwisatz Haderach by clicking here.

Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Not All Indiana Jones Movies Are Equal

By Kyle B. Stiff

 I’ve heard a lot of people say that they love the Indiana Jones movies. Being childhood favorites of mine, I decided to watch them again as an old person. I was shocked to the core to learn that the first Indiana Jones movie is completely different from its sequels. In terms of tone and feel, it’s completely unrelated!

When I re-watched the first movie, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was surprised to learn that it was an action movie that an adult could watch without being embarrassed if another adult caught him watching it, and children could also enjoy it IF we keep in mind the idea that children aren’t fragile, impressionable creatures that need to be protected from disturbing images or else they run the risk of becoming full-on psychopaths. The later movies, however, are children’s movies.

national treasure indiana jones short round

We have this idea that Indiana Jones is always swinging from ropes and shooting load-bearing posts that cause heavy objects to fall on bad guys without killing them, but all of that cartoony nonsense comes from the later movies. In the first movie, Dr. Jones shoots a guy in the face. He doesn’t swing around a rope tied to a chain looped around a giant gear that somehow makes a non-fatal mound of shit fall on some dufus in a uniform; no, his special move in the first movie is to point a revolver at some guy, pull the trigger, and slam a hot one into his skull. It’s not “clever” at all, which is good because Hollywood needs less clever and more awesome. The only time Dr. Jones approaches being clever in Raiders is when he tricks an opponent who physically outmatches him into getting his face whipped off by a spinning propeller. It’s not cute… but it’s something I can get behind.

"You have problem with cute?"

“You have problem with cute?”

(Note: The scene in question happens when Dr. Jones returns to the Tibetan bar and finds it full of Nazis torturing the woman that he illegally impregnated when she was like fourteen (way to go Indy!). I was most definitely not referring to the famous scene with the sword-swinging ding-bat that Indy kills with one shot.)

indiana jones short round

The first movie focuses on the Ark of the Covenant. Could a better ancient artifact have been chosen by the writers even if their lives depended on it?! Even the handful of viewers who don’t understand the power behind the myth of the Ark are brought up to speed in an incredible scene with slowly building tension and creepy music in which Dr. Jones explains to some military dudes exactly how dangerous this object is, and how it’s cloaked in secrecy and historical amnesia in an attempt to hide the horror behind its existence. Now, after considering all that… just what was the artifact in the sequel? Does anyone remember? Does anyone care?

ark of the covenant 2

There are lots of tonal changes in Raiders that engage the emotions just like any great song or story. In between scenes of Dr. Jones beating the shit out people with his bare hands, there are scenes with characters interacting in non-comical ways (in the later films all character interaction is there for the sake of comic levity) in which people discuss the gravity of the forbidden object they are searching for. There are also lots of dark scenes in which the world seems to be moved by frightening supernatural forces. Remember when Dr. Jones’s team is digging in some desert location and we see the sky become like something out of a nightmare? Scenes like that are powerful not only because they force us to emotionally consider the horrific underpinnings of reality, but those scenes also show that the film’s makers don’t assume that the audience is a mob of idiots who completely fall asleep when  they see anything other than people jumping around or crashing into things at high speeds.


The later films have none of that. They are metronomes that gravitate between dipshit hijinks and people running around and falling off of stuff. And I suppose everyone’s on the same page about the last movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, being awful. I felt sorry for Harrison Ford; even in the movie poster he seemed worn out, and looked as if he was hoping that he would be allowed to sit down for a few minutes after his photo-shoot. Of course it makes sense to revisit the theme of ancient aliens that the first movie touched on, but unless it’s filmed with the same slow and altogether-alien feel of something crazy like 2001: A Space Odyssey, I can’t imagine how a bunch of old people and kids riding in a refrigerator could possibly have seemed like it was going to add anything to the series even as an idea, much less a thing that had been filmed on accident and had to be marketed and sold if only to cover the cost of the mistake itself.

"I'm tired and I want to sit down!"

“I’m tired and I want to sit down!”

As a fellow old person, you’re completely entitled to go back and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark again. You’ll be surprised to realize that the makers of the film didn’t utterly despise your existence and crave only your wallet’s innards. Just do yourself a favor and let the later installments in the series gather dust.

ark of the covenant 3

Hey readers! If you liked this post, you should check out some of my books. I’ve got an epic series called Demonworld, which is equal parts Mad Max and Lord of the Rings (think “science fantasy”), and a much-loved gamebook series called Heavy Metal Thunder which is currently a hyperlinked Kindle book but will be a fancy phone app any day now.

How to Use Facebook Like a Badass

By Kyle B. Stiff

It’s come to my attention that you guys are logging in and out of Facebook twenty times a day and checking your notifications rather than being hardcore winners at life. This is not going to work out for me; I don’t want to live on a planet populated by people who got played like a game of FarmVille. I want to live in a world filled with badasses. To that end, I’m going to show you how I use Facebook.


What’s the big deal with my Facebook technique? Why do I think it’s superior to everyone else’s Facebook technique? And why should anyone be using Facebook at all? Or at the other extreme, why not let Facebook win?

The thing is, you can use Facebook and still achieve victory in life. It is possible. In fact, it’s been my experience that once the Book of Faces has been opened, it cannot be shut. The best we can do is limit its power over us. I’m going to show you how to enjoy using it without letting it use you.


First, we’ve got to talk about your friends. Let’s face it: Most of them aren’t that interesting. Don’t you know that you’re only truly friends with a few people on your list? The rest are family, coworkers, acquaintances, and people you’re stalking. Just seeing their status updates makes you feel anxious. To make things worse, a surprising number of people that come up in your newsfeed say things that piss you off, or make you resentful, or you look down on them, or sometimes they even give you a non-specific and generalized sense of feeling like shit.

True friends!

True friends!

So what do you do, unfriend them? No, that’s not necessary, and it could lead to a backed-up toilet full of drama. Here’s what you do: When you browse through your news feed, hide a couple of people. Only a couple. The next day, hide a couple more. Don’t think about it too hard, just hide the biggest loudmouths that post the dumbest shit. It’ll be easier than you think, because your feed is most likely an un-weeded garden filled with schmucks with nothing to say. I know it sounds harsh, but the truth is that once those dimwits are gone from your feed, you will never, ever miss them!

black lion

Question: What if someone finds out I hid them? Won’t they be mad at me?

Answer: No one will ever, ever find out that you hid them from your newsfeed. For one thing, they post so much stupid shit that they have no way of tracking who sees what. For another thing, everyone’s newsfeed is so jam-packed with stupid shit that if some moron says, “Did you see the awesome thing I posted?” then the only honest and air-tight answer truly is, “No, I have too much dumb shit in my newsfeed, I missed the awesome thing you posted.” (Note: Try not to roll your eyes when you say “awesome”. In a real-life encounter, you must lie through your teeth in order to avoid drama from needy simpletons.)

In a few days, this seemingly difficult first step will become intoxicating. You’ll start hiding people from your feed left and right, and it’ll get easier and easier as you go. In time, only a few people that you truly like, or who actually have something to say, will be left.


Once you’ve finally cleaned up your feed, it’s time to make your feed impressive; after you weed a garden, you gotta put some roses in there. The second step toward using Facebook like one of life’s winners is to start friending or subscribing to groups or people (rather than friends) that represent your interests. This step is necessary… but it’s also dangerous.

For one thing, don’t interact with these people. In fact, it’s necessary that you not think of them as people. They are not your friends and they will never be your friends, and that’s exactly how you want it. Why? Because you’re too busy achieving victory in real life to make friends online.


Another danger lies in the fact that you might subscribe to interests that don’t add to your joy of living. You’ll want to subscribe to groups or people who post stuff ONLY if it relaxes you or engages your brain or your soul. This is easier said than done. For example: Are you into politics? Then you should subscribe to a feed that’ll keep you up to date on the latest political news, right? WRONG. Better yet: DEAD WRONG. If you’re into politics, then by all means go to a protest, debate with someone, vote and pray that the voting machines haven’t been tweaked. But DO NOT clog your feed with a bunch of nonsense that’s only going to get your pulse racing and heighten your anxiety.

wow ascension city

You might be shaking your head, but trust me. When it comes to your Facebook feed, you’re going to have to skirt around a lot of nerve-wracking horseshit. Politics is the worst offender when it comes to ruining Facebook feeds. It’s been said that the revolution won’t be televised; I know you want to be informed, but believe me, the revolution isn’t going to be on Facebook either. Conservatives, try not to subscribe to groups that post pictures of dead babies and feature misspelled warnings about Obama making abortion mandatory for all heterosexual couples (note that If those babies were born, you would just end up friending them on Facebook and their status updates would clog up your newsfeed). Liberals, try not to subscribe to groups that whine about how teachers need to make over a hundred grand a year (note that those teachers would end up buying the same cars that rappers drive and they would still complain about their jobs).


So what should you subscribe to? Anything that won’t make you feel anxious, but shows you something you might not have found on your own, is fair game. When I began cleaning up my feed, I subscribed to a lot of people who do nothing but post pictures of art all day long. I stick to old paintings done with a level of skill we don’t have these days, with a few comic book artists thrown in for fun. Once you manage to find a few feed-enhancers, you’ll find better ones later by accident. Trust me, logging into Facebook and seeing a work of art done by Michelangelo or Moebius is a thousand times better than reading a status update about someone’s car taking a shit and making them late for a job they hate or perhaps don’t deserve to have.


(Note: Try to stay away from abstract postmodern shit. Nobody’s going to take the time to look through your profile and judge your interests, so you won’t get any brownie points from anyone by clogging up your feed with pictures of colored blocks that cleverly use empty space to get across a message about man’s inhumanity to man. You won’t be taking more than five seconds to look at this stuff anyway, so find stuff that looks nice and doesn’t jack-hammer your anxiety levels.)


But that’s just a starting point. What about cute animals? It’s never a bad idea to have random pictures of kittens and baby ducks and lobsters show up in your feed. The only thing to watch out for is that you don’t want cute animal pictures to have any stupid meme text pasted on them – you want to smile involuntarily because you got surprised by somethin’ heartwarming, not smirk like a dipshit because you “got” some other dipshit’s lowbrow joke.

What about handmade goods? Futuristic crap? Books in general? Pictures of mountains with lava spewing out of them? Famous corpses? Clouds that look like nothing other than clouds? Guns made to shoot bullets rather than act as political argument pieces? That’s fine – all of that stuff is perfectly acceptable to have in a feed, and can enlighten the hell out of you when you’re in the mood to waste time in style.


That’s it: Two steps toward tailoring Facebook to suit your needs. Few of us are strong enough to simply walk away from the Book of Faces, but that doesn’t mean we have to be notification-whores click-click-clickin’ away until we find ourselves on our death beds with no victory to show the gods. When Death Itself clicks on the notification that says our tomorrows have ended, none of us wants to go through a life-review filled with moments where we habitually checked something that only brought us down and made us feel like something less than the badasses we truly are. When we go out in a blaze of glory and stand before the gods in judgment, and they look at how Facebook affected us, let’s be ready to tell them, “I didn’t get bent out of shape over status updates written by needy simpletons. I remade Facebook in my own image; and there I saw volcanoes raging, and the cuteness of kittens, and art made by masters long since passed away, and many other badass things full of wonder.”


Hey readers! If you liked this post, you should check out some of my books. I’ve got an epic series called Demonworld, which is equal parts Mad Max and Lord of the Rings (think “science fantasy”), and a much-loved gamebook series called Heavy Metal Thunder which is currently a hyperlinked Kindle book but will be a fancy phone app any day now.