A reader asks “I’m a history teacher and I keep getting weirdly off-topic essays from my students. The last assignment was about the impact of the reformation on Tudor England and instead of an analysis of how the Church of England attempted to retain both protestant and Catholic aspects, I got an essay about a dog called Sukie instead. What is wrong with young people these days?” Clio Mancy
More and more people these days wander off topic. It is something I have noticed and I sympathise with your predicament.
A reader asks “Thanks for your earlier reply but are Marsha Supial, Key Eops and Clio Mancy actually all the same person? If so how did they get out of the death maze and what happened on that balloon trip?” Zoch Pupette
Hi Zoch. I’ve reached out to all three of them and they replied: “we are definitely three different people and obviously we escaped from the death maze using the hot air balloon.” I guess that clears that up!
Thanks for everybody’s questions! I’ll be around to answer a few more before I have to head back to the far future and see my friends in fungus town! Toodle-pip!
A reader asks “Hi, I’m an emu and I recently joined a dog cult after a disastrous end to my last significant romantic relationship due to an embarrassing panic attack I had on a hot air balloon. I’m hoping that being part of a cult based on worshiping the one true heavenly being that is Sukie the Holy Dog will put me on a better path but also I’m an emu and I sometimes just do bonkers stuff for no reason. I’ve forgotten what my question was.” E. Mu
Dear E Emus are dinosaurs. You might not realise it but you are the living heirs to a mighty lineage. You shouldn’t be worshiping any kind of mammal not even Sukie (who I know is a very good dog and well deserving of pats on the head but not worship). You need to put the past behind you and move on to better things.
A reader asks “Are the people writing in genuine people or are they made up?” Zoch Pupette
Dear Zoch, I very much believe that my correspondents are genuine but in some ways aren’t we all “Made up”? I think so. Each and every one of us is an invention of one kind or another.
A reader asks “My best friend is getting married in a civil ceremony on Sunday. My partner is very religious and thinks that it is wrong to get married on a Sunday. She has asked my best friend to get married on a Thursday instead but I don’t want him to get married on a Thursday because I always feel weird on a Thursday. I should add that when I say my partner is very religious I mean that she worships our dog Sukie – literally, she has painted a picture of the dog and has built a little shrine. My best friend also worships our dog Sukie and to be honest I suspect my dog is running a cult and that I’m an unwitting member. Should I change the dog’s diet from wet food to dry food?” Mike Ullt.
It does sound like you’ve become entangled in a set of mammals with quiet complex belief systems. This reminds me of a friend of mine who was an iguanodon. She was always very positive and would give everybody a big “thumbs up” sign where ever she went. It was only much later that we realised that iguanodons permanently have their thumbs sticking upwards and actually she hated everybody and thought we were a bunch of losers. In fact she’d been ostracised from iguanodon society for being so negative about everybody. We should have guessed because iguanodons don’t normally socialise with triceratops herds.
People are strange and complex and have weird things like ‘fingers’. Maybe broaden your circle of friends a bit more but closely monitor whether your dog is trying to convert them. I also recommend dry food for pet mammal carnivores. It keeps longer and provides vital roughage.
A reader asks “In my earlier letter what I meant by “pyramid selling scheme” was a complex Ponzi-like scam by which various goods are sold mainly as a pretext to recruit new members to the scheme, the recruitment of which is the actual main source of money in the scheme and NOT a scheme by which a person literally sells pyramids. When I suggested to my friend that she should sell prisms instead (as per your advice) she assumed I was mocking her. She has now terminated our friendship and regards me as her mortal enemy. We have since become embroiled in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as her hatred of me and lack of financial success in the pyramid selling scheme has led down a dark path of spiralling violence. The good news is that her new business “Prim’s Pricey Prisms” has actually started to make money. I’m hoping that may help her out of her psychological rut but in the meantime she has me trapped inside a giant and deadly maze where I am chased by robot mice. Do you have any tips for escaping a maze?” Key Eops
I’ve visited several hedge mazes in this current time period and I have never found them to be much of a challenge. What can’t be eaten can be stomped upon. Here’s how I would escape a more substantially built maze:
pick a direction
get a good run up
headbutt the wall
repeat until the wall collapses.
A reader asks “Thanks for the help with my homework. My history teacher was late marking it. Apparently she broke up with her boyfriend and then tried to fly to Australia in a hot air balloon. Apparently she got back recently because she posted back my essay. My mark says “Help, I’ve been trapped in a death maze!” Is that a good mark or a bad mark, I can’t tell?” Archie Duke
Hi Archie. Thanks for the update! I think that must be an excellent mark because if anybody knows history it is me! There’s not much of history that I haven’t seen in my travels, including some that hasn’t happened yet!
A reader asks “I need some more relationship advice Susan. I stopped dating my boyfriend (the family of opossums that was living in a pile of discarded clothes) and met a great new guy. He’s actually an emu in a bowler hat but he’s been very upfront about all that. He wants me to meet his family but that mean flying all the way to Australia. I thought emus were flightless birds so now I think he might have been lying all this time about being an emu. I’m not sure what to do. Can you help?” – Marsha Supial
“Flightless” here means “unable to power their own flight”. Emu’s can fly if they stand in the basket of a hot air balloon. Indeed they positively LOVE this mode of transport. Think about how romantic a hot air balloon trip would be with your emu boyfriend all the way to Australia. Bon voyage!
reader asks: “Should I buy a Mac or a PC?” Stephen William Jobgates
Honestly I have no idea what you are talking about Stephen. What is any of that supposed to mean? Where is the context for your question? I can’t make head nor tail out of this. Are you a t-rex by any chance? Have you got your feathers all in a twist because you couldn’t climb a tree and a nut fell on your head?
A reader asks: “Apologies for my last question. I meant ’should I buy a macaroni pizza or a pepperoni and cheese pizza’. In my town we call those Mac and PC. I should have realised that those names are just a local thing. Anyway, I bought a Chromebook which is what we call a bubble-and-squeak calzone in this county.” Stephen William Jobgates
Thanks for the clarification Stephen and apologies for my intemperate reply. Please also accept my apologies for rampaging over to your house, trampling your flowerbeds and eating your hedge.
To return to your original question, I would recommend the “Mangel-Wurzel Surprise” pizza. The surprise is that it is just mangel-wurzels and no pizza.
A reader asks: “My history teacher has asked me to write an essay on the causes of the first world war? Can you help. I’ve read the chapter in the text book but none of it makes any sense to me.” Archie Duke
Hi Archie. It wouldn’t be right for me to do your homework for you but I can offer some pointers. The very first world wide war was in the Early Mesozoic era. At that time all the world’s landmasses were joined together into a supercontinent called “Pangea”.
At the time there was no greater enmity than the hatred between the Lystrosaurii and the Cynognathians or as triceratopian archaeologists called them “Hammerhead mole monsters” and the “Bonkers lizard dogs”. Inevitably this antagonism lead to a war that swept across Pangea from Eurasia to Australia.
But what was the cause of all this strife?
You see both Lystrosaurus and Cynognathus had sticky out front legs and tucked under hind legs and by any reasonable species standards (such a dinosaur or a mammal) they walked funny. Naturally they both got mocked, either by crocodilians who walked the traditional leg-sticky-out way or by my ancestors with the legs-all-tucked-under way.
Now you might think that would be a common bond between the two species but no. Each blamed the other for bringing disrepute to their walking style. Each species tried to enforce walking rules on the other which led to an escalating conflict.
Yes, they should have just learned to be themselves and celebrated their goofy approach to terrestrial locomotion.
Eventually the conflict got so bad but everybody had no choice but to break up the continent and thus prevent anybody having a world war ever again until primates could invent the airplane.
A reader asks: “My best friend has joined a pyramid selling scheme that they read about on Facebook. Now all they do is pester me to join. It has really driven a wedge between us. What should I do?” Key Eops
Pyramids are one of the least attractive kinds of basic polyhedra. Your friend should consider selling prisms instead, which are far more versatile. As for Facebook, I don’t use it and neither should you,
A reader asks: “I have just learned that my boyfriend of eight years is actually a family of opossums stuck inside a discarded bundle of clothes. My parents think he’s the nicest guy I have ever brought home. Should I break up with him or should I be able to move our relationship past this initial deception.” – Marsha Supial.
Love is based on trust and I think the wise course of action is to dump that guy as quickly as possible. On the positive side, the North American Opossum is an excellent animal to have around: they eat ticks and other nasty creatures and they help keep the presence of other vermin such as rats down.
Back in my day marsupials were a very popular form of mammal and frankly I don’t see what is so great about being placental. So you could do worse.
Jonathon is a famous novelist and he has written me a long letter which I won’t quote because it goes on a bit. It seems he has decided to copy my writing advice style and produced a list of “10 rules” for novelists. Now everybody is laughing at him and he is sad. He’d like to know if I could suggest 10 different rules that would save him from mockery?
Absolutely Jono! Only too happy to help a struggling novelist out!
Ensure your primary narrator is comfortable. Remember the novel is an aural medium and your narrator should have a comfy nest of uprooted plants to stand or lie down on.
Pay attention to the little things: how did the t-rex get drunk? What kind of tree is she trying to climb?
Your secondary narrator shouldn’t be too colourful a character as this can distract from your tertiary narrator or the triceratops that is recovering from having a t-rex fall on her.
Use sentences or sentence fragments or isolated words or phrases or grunting noises.
Don’t use gestures to get your point across. OK maybe that works for humans but classic triceratopian literature never uses gestures and you really can’t argue with a literary form with that kind of longevity.
Avoid mammals. Not just in your novels but in life in general. At worst they’ll eat your eggs and at best they get underfoot.
Don’t use “then” as a conjunction. Instead use a strong twine made out of twisted strips of bark.
Setting fires to things can be fun but be careful you don’t cause a stampede or burn down the whole savannah.
Your t-rex doesn’t need much motivation or character development. They are blundering drunken fools the lot of them.
There’s nothing wrong with standing in the rain shouting your novel at a thundering sky, defying the lightning to strike you down as you declaim your truth to the heavens but don’t do this while holding an umbrella like my friends cat did that one time. On the other hand a cat highly charged with static electricity makes for an excellent if bad tempered duster.