Welcome to the first episode of “Super-Short Storytime!” Today’s tale is about bumping into old classmates. Enjoy “Betty’s Baby,” a selection from “Ten Tiny Tales.”
I am not a visual person by any stretch of the imagination.
When I was in college studying computer science back in the 90’s, people would occasionally ask me if I could make websites for them. The conversation would go something like this:
Person: “Can you make a website for me?”
Me: “Yeah, I can code one, but it’s going to look like a computer guy made it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s going to look terrible.”
So yeah, I didn’t make any websites.
Given that I’m self-aware of my lack of design sense, I don’t know what possessed me to make my own book covers when I started self-publishing short story collections. It comes even more perplexing considering that I knew artists that could do quality artwork. Ego may have had something to do with it; the notion of doing everything on my own. Maybe I didn’t want to pay for art at the time. Whatever the reason, I figured some text on a solid color background would be good enough. I did three covers like that, and it honestly only worked for The Rules of Tech Support.
At that point I figured it was time to get some actual artwork done. My friend Damon Cone provided some artwork for Con Fluff 1, which I used to make a faux ‘con badge.’ I thought about making similar ones as promotional items for the book. That never happened, but it remains an interesting idea for future use. The character on the cover is me, which seems a little conceited, but at the same time, why the heck not?
I commissioned an artist friend who goes by Padunk for Con Fluff 2 and she knocked it out of the park. She was also kind enough to put the title text on the artwork, which made it look really nice. Future volumes have also featured artwork, and with the exception of The Rules of Tech Support, most of my collections featuring my early awful covers have been put off-sale, though you can still see them here.
While I have been happy with all of the artwork (Faeries, Fantasies, and Furries is another favorite) there are a few that need a do-over: As the first book in the series, I don’t want to pull Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories, but it does need a facelift. Funny Animals, Funny People kind-of works, but I have a better concept in mind I’d like to see for it. I took the easy way out with Fuzzy Words by plastering a picture into the middle of a (wait for it) solid colored background.
I’ve since commissioned new cover art for the printed version of Fuzzy Words from an artist named TinyBunner. After spending the day arguing with CreateSpace I think everything is ready to go for printed copies. I’m very excited at the prospect of having an actual printed book, but that’s a post for another day.
You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 85: “Self-Checked Out” so let the 300 Seconds begin!
After hearing good things from friends about the movie Coco for the last few weeks, I decided to finally watch it the other day. I don’t go to the movies very often, and when I do, I like to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Also, the fact that the tickets are cheaper is also a nice bonus. I woke up and got dressed a little too late to catch the earliest show that was nearby, so I thought I’d catch the next one which was a few miles away. The theater was one that I hadn’t been to since I moved out of that area a number of years ago, and it was a little bit of a drive.
It was eleven o’clock in the morning and I hadn’t had breakfast yet, and I’m a breakfast guy. Whataburger is my usual go-to in the mornings, but I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ that comes in just after breakfast hours asking for breakfast. As a quick side note: Honey-butter chicken biscuits and BoBs would be great any time of the day, Whataburger. I’m just sayin’
I remembered there was also McDonald’s on the way and thought a sausage biscuit would at least get me through the movie. Unless I’m in a huge hurry, I don’t like using the drive-thru window. Since I spend nearly all of my workday sitting behind a computer and then go home and…sit behind a computer, I like to get on my feet whenever I can, so I parked my car and went inside.
I had never been to this McDonald’s before, but I figured it that it would be like most of the others I had been to. I mean, it’s a McDonald’s, you know? I walked in and the first thing I noticed was four giant screens to my left, beckoning me to use them place an order. The second thing that I noticed was that nobody was using them, and since there w ere a few people in line, I thought I’d walk up to the touch screen and get a taste of The Future!
I have to admit, it was pretty neat ordering, it was like using an app on a really big phone. Since there was nobody waiting behind me in line, I could take my time looking over the menu. There was also an option to customize my order, which I didn’t really need but something to check out for later. A card reader just below the screen allowed me to pay, and my receipt popped out of a slot to the left of the screen. I placed my order, then walked away from the screen to wait. Was it faster than going to the register? Probably not, because not only did I take my time looking over the menu, but I had to learn how to use the system.
As I stood and waited for my order, a woman walked into the restaurant and also walked up to one of the screens. She stared at it for a few seconds, tentatively poked at the screen a few times, then turned to ask somebody: “Do I have to use the screen?”
The other customer told her ‘no’ and pointed to the register. With a sigh of relief, the woman said “Oh, good” and she walked over to wait in line at the register. I smiled. Clearly, The Future had not arrived for her just yet. I was genuinely surprised, because the woman was not very old. Now don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t very young, either, but to me, at least, she appeared to be young enough to go: “Okay, maybe I’ll give this a shot.”
For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how automated kiosks and self-check-outs are going to put people out of work, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. Lots of folks, like the woman I saw in that McDonald’s, just aren’t going to be willing to try the new thing, and for people that are willing to try it, there is going to be a learning curve which will take some time to work through. Let’s also not forget the people that do try it and get stuck, which I know all of you have witnessed if you’ve spent any time in a grocery store self-checkout.
As for me, I look forward to taking the opportunity to avoid any unnecessary human contact, because, well, I’m a computer guy, and that’s what we do.
This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after my I pre-order my tickets for Wreck-It-Ralph 2. I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear more 300 Seconds subscribe via iTunes and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com, and thanks you for listening!