Archive for the ‘Illustrated’ Category

Sometimes, small victories are the best kind.

As many of you know, about a year ago I became heavily involved with the free, online shoot-em-up video game, UberStrike, where my screen name is “Gray Mouser”, a fictional character introduced in 1939 by the famous science fiction author, Fritz Leiber.

It wasn’t long before — with some amount of trepidation — I joined the UberStrike Forum, a game-related “chat room” of sorts. As the year progressed, I became fascinated with a particular section of the UberStrike Forum called “Cmunity“, a special area where appointed UberStrike gamer-“WRITERS” published Uber-related articles.

I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to become a part of it. After wrangling with UberStrike’s Manager, I was quickly accepted as an official Cmunity Writer. It wasn’t long before I was promoted to Cmunity LEADER, the equivalent of Spider-Man’s boss, Jonah Jameson. Gray Mouser had suddenly become Cmunity Newsroom’s Editor-in-Chief!

Soon, word got out there was a new, 62-year old UberKid on the block.

Cmunity Writers are hot stuff, all of them volunteers and highly admired by the mostly 13-19 year old UberStrike gamers. Everyone wants to become one.

It was somewhere along this timeline that I decided I wanted to help these aspiring wannabe writers. It was time to give something back.

After much juggling and jostling, I managed to get my boss (screen name: “Lady Daga”) to agree to something I called the  [Cmunity FREELANCE] Program, a program designed to encourage these aspiring non-Cmunity Writers in a self-discovery kind of way, by giving them a taste of the real publishing world complete with rejection letters. The Cmunity FREELANCE program gives these young wannabes the chance to have their writing displayed right beside the Cmunity Writer big dogs.

This past weekend, I “accepted” the first [Cmunity FREELANCE] Program article, a small victory made larger for me by the fact that I shot and edited a YouTube video to enhance the writer’s (screen-name “Elite|Phoenix”) article. I had spent 20 years of my working career as a television editor-writer-story producer, shooting and editing all kinds of stories, but none of them as rewarding as Springs for the Win, my personal return — after 30 years — to the world of editing. It was like riding a bike once again, a bike super-powered by light years of technological editing advances.

Sometimes, small victories are the best kind.

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Tim says: Point-and-shoot games like UberStrike are not for everyone. But if you geezers out there want to join me in jump-starting your heart rate, getting those hand-eye coordination brain cell synapses firing again, and discovering that today’s international youth are pretty damned amazing after all, I invite you to get off your butts and give UberStrike a shot. The game needs more of us seniors showing these young whippersnappers a thing or two. Mac user? A free Mac App version is available in the Apple App Store.

Cya in game!


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For the past few days I have baited my minnow trap with stale slices of bread and thrown the contraption out into the shallows near my boat dock. Curious minnows and tiny sunfish soon gather around and eventually find their way through the one-way doors to feast on the goodies within. But hours later, upon checking the trap, I have noticed the trap has been mysteriously opened, devoid of both bread or minnows.

Years ago lake otters would have been the obvious culprits, swimming by in their charming manner, fooling us into laughing at their antics, later backtracking when we weren’t looking, to peel fresh fish from our stringers or shiners from our bait boxes, chuckling to themselves as they laid on their backs, in plain sight, nibbling on what they had stolen.

But, sadly, I haven’t seen otters in my cove for many years.

This morning I noticed a lone grebe paddling around the end of the dock. A grebe is kind of like a duck, except (some of them) are dark and have white bills with myriad shades of glowing neon eyes. Grebes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. All grebes are exceptional swimmers and, like penguins, can dive underwater and travel great distances. And like otters, I discovered, they can open minnow traps and gobble down anything that’s inside.

So now when I toss out a baited minnow trap I also toss a few pieces of bread off the other end of the dock. The grebe pays me no mind, dives ungraciously underwater. A minute later a chunk of damp Wonder bread is yanked below the surface, and when I leave the dock to grab a bite to eat and return later, my minnow trap is empty all over again.

I’m sure this love-hate relationship will flourish, and we will become great friends. Who knows, maybe one day we can share a box of crackers and a can of sardines.

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Tim says: I received a request the other day to rerun this past Simply Tim. Since the event mentioned here does not represent one of my finer moments, I’ve been rather hesitant. However, through the years, I have come to greatly appreciate Dad’s parenting abilities while under fire…

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Toy Bow & Arrow

One day Dad bought me a toy bow and arrow. It was the kind that had a blue and white pinstriped bowstring and several “safety” arrows capped with pink rubber suction cups. Yeah, right. It took me all of five minutes to remove the tips and sharpen the arrows on a rough patch of concrete. For hours I played with my new toy. By the end of the day there wasn’t a target in sight that didn’t have a hole or two punched in it.

The following morning, Dad was standing on our quarter’s back door fire escape, talking to a fellow Army officer. “Hey, Dad!” I pestered, over and over again. “Lookit ME!”

Well, Dad ignored me. To this day I don’t know why, but I shot my dad in the leg with my tiny, toy bow and arrow.

Hey, Dad -- lookit ME!

Dad looked down at his leg. “Excuse me,” he said to his friend, politely, pausing in mid conversation. “I have to go discipline my son.” Then, with the toy arrow sticking out of his calf, he walked down the iron steps, grabbed me by the nape of the neck, and snapped my bow in two. “Now, Tim, pull out the arrow!

The arrow made a sickening squishing sound that I will NEVER forget.

“Now, Tim, break the arrow in half!

Needless to say my bow and arrow days were over.

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One of my Grandfather’s favorite places to find fishing worms was behind the old Freelandville, Indiana Mill, where tons of spent grain husks and chaff had piled up for decades. The resulting heap of decomposition produced layer upon layer of truly bizarre habitat, and one that to a small boy was downright frightening. Although “Papa” did most of the digging, he always brought along an extra small shovel and encouraged me to find my own worms. “Bigger fish will bite on worms you dig yourself,” he explained.

So, off I’d wander into the rank, steaming mounds of the old Freelandville, Indiana Mill, with coffee can, toy shovel, and teddy-bear in tow.


One day I had just uncovered a particularly nasty patch of compost. Underneath, was the biggest worm I’d ever seen. Even with small, kid’s fingers, the worm was twice as big around as my thumb. “Papa!” I shouted, grabbing hold of it. “There’s a great HUGE worm over here!”

Papa rushed over, thinking I had found a garden snake. He stared down at the worm. “Let’s see what you’ve got there,” he said, stooping as I let go of my discovery. The worm-thing began to pull itself deeper into the compost, its slimy coat glowing faintly as it contracted and expanded its body segments in an attempt at getting away. Papa grabbed it and began pulling on it. The worm tightened, giving up a foot or two, then broke in half, the severed ends exuding an awful smelling pea-green fluid. In his hand was a three feet section of— what?

The front end disappeared down the 3/4-inch diameter hole.

Papa examined the elongated tail section for several minutes. “I’ll be dog-gone if I know what this is!” he exclaimed, dropping the still squirming THING into my can, wiping his hands on his coveralls. (Meme wasn’t going to like that!) Then, we packed up our shovels, hopped in Papa’s 1950s  Ford, nicknamed “the Green Hornet” (based on the radio show series), and went fishing. Later that day I learned something very important to a fisherman’s way of thinking: not only do bigger fish bite on worms you dig yourself, even bigger fish will bite on BIGGER worms you dig yourself!

Thing in a Can Planet

Papa never mentioned the thing in a can again, and to this day, when I lie in bed, tossing and turning and unable to sleep, I sometimes think about the bygone Freelandville, Indiana Mill and wonder…

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Best Cap Pistol in the World!

Like most of us, in the weeks before Christmas I used to sneak around trying to discover hidden presents from Mom and Dad before they were wrapped. Each year they were hidden in a different place. One year I found a small stash in an attic trunk. There, neatly tucked in a doll-covered corner, was a shiny Mattel Fanner-50 — simply the coolest cap gun in the whole wide world. And beside it, a blue plastic Wham-O boomerang.

Oh, boy, ohboyohboy!

Christmas Eve crept and crawled closer ever so slowly, but eventually it arrived — the night our family tradition dictated opening presents underneath the tree. I tore open present after present, and with each crinkling of wrapping paper, with each snipping of a Christmas-colored ribbon:

NO Fanner-50 cap pistol!

Who could Mom and Dad have given it to? Had I really seen it in the attic trunk after all? I pouted for the rest of the evening. Even snicker doodles and milk didn’t help.

Christmas Morning.

I rushed downstairs to see what Santa had brought, and — by golly — there was the Fanner-50 glinting under the tree, already loaded with caps and tucked inside a quick-draw leather holster, right beside the blue Wham-O boomerang!

But how could that be? Did Santa know about the attic, too?

That was the year I killed Santa, shot him dead with a Mattel Fanner-50. And unlike that boomerang, he would never return.

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Tim says: I have always been interested in science  and, to a point, following current events as best I can. Unlike science, current events tend to change day to day; it usually takes science a few days to catch up.

Black holes* have always fascinated me. What are they? Where do they come from? Where do they go? How can massive objects — whose gravity is so strong even light and possibly time cannot escape, and which are now believed to be the center of every one of the billions of galaxies scattered throughout the known universe — even exist?

Aquacious monuments.

And what is all this hoopla about global warming? Is it? Isn’t it? Do we know for sure?

“By golly, Tim,” you might now be asking yourself, “what the hell do black holes and global warming have in common, and where are you heading with this?”

Well, you see … more than a decade ago I wrote this really weird poem…

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One Hundred Feet Below Sea Level

Our houses will be reefs someday,
When the poles shift,
Or the ozone fails,
The ice caps melt,
Aquacious monuments,
One hundred feet below sea level.

The continents are old
And ancient movement
Is measured in inches.
What once was here
Will soon once be there.
Snorkeled tourists will float,
Peering downward,
Or sink, bubbles rising,
For closer observation.
Rooftop skylights,
Intimately outlined in coral,
Too far below to own,
But delicately enticing.
Scuba divers
Find riding lawn mowers
Silently locked inside of sheds,
Patios and stone walls
Awash with shadow and distortions.
Ornamental trees, once leafed,
Now skeletal.
Surface tension
Sucks seashores
To the skirts of the mountains,
Where whales sing liquid songs,
Connecting the canyons,
And sightseers once shot
White water on rubber rafts.

The Earth is old
And ancient movement
Is measured in miles per second.
What once was here
Will soon once be there,
Twirling around our sun,
Like continents in motion,
In concert with the system,
Itself minuscule.
Planets within galaxies,
Seas within oceans,
Expanding from a central horizon,
Measured in light years
And tidal action.
Mass and densities
Manipulated by gravitational forces,
Dancing in balance.
Holes within black holes,
Floes within currents,
Light bending so tightly,
That what lies ahead
Is seen from behind,
Until there is nothing,
No seas and no oceans.

Our houses will be reefs someday,
When the poles shift,
Or the ozone fails,
The ice caps melt.
Aquacious monuments,
One hundred feet below sea level.

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* If you have read the “black hole” link in today’s Simply Tim, you have once again used the incredible services of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a non-profit organization who can use your help. If you by-passed Wikipedia’s “Please Read” section during your previous visit, I urge you to check it out now.

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HO Trains

Fleischmann makes the best.

While my family was stationed near Athens Greece in 1960, I convinced Dad that I was serious about collecting “HO” trains. HO trains are tiny, scaled down versions of the more familiar “Lionel” trains. Within a week Dad was hard at work constructing a train “layout” in one our spare rooms. I knew I was in for a treat—  Dad never did ANYTHING half way.

Realism at its finest.

Over the span of a few months, the layout grew to astronomical proportions. Tunnels, round-house switching tables, push button roadway switches, whistles, tiny towns complete with people, street lights, trees, ponds, cows— you name it. The control panel looked like a nuclear reactor’s control room. Six different engines could be operated at the same time. An engineering degree was required just to turn the power on. Great stuff!

Issue # 1

But eventually we had to move back to the States. By then the train table was so large it couldn’t fit through the door. And FORGET shipping! Dad convinced me the best approach was to SELL the whole setup. One of his Greek coworkers agreed to buy the contents of the room. With tears in my eyes I watched a reciprocating saw slice “ANYTOWN USA” into four separate pieces.

A couple of years ago I picked up a model train magazine, and nearly ALL of my six German “Fleischmann” HO trains (circa 1959-1960) had become collector’$  items. But that’s okay. During that same move back to the United States, I lost my entire comic book collection, including the “Fantastic Four” Issue #1 (1961).

Flame ON!

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