Friday, November 9, 2012

Want your writing to be read in 1,000 years? Look to Science Fiction for a Clue.

     Science fiction matters, but not as a forecast of future events. (Where are the flying cars? Eternal youth? Meal-in-a-pill?)
     The under-rated literary category offers top-notch entertainment—and an overlooked benefit. The success of certain sci-fi stories holds a key to your own writing success.
     Technical fiction—use that term if the rocket ships, ray guns, mages and alternate histories distract you—measures society’s fears about technology-wrought change. The backbone themes of sci-fi include hubris, the mad scientist, monsters, and playing God. These have struck a chord with readers for millennia.
     Set your Way Back Machine and travel with me 3500 years in the past to consider one of mankind’s earliest technical thrillers. You’ll recognize it from Genesis, Chapter 1. It also pops up in ancient Sumerian’s cuneiform inscriptions, in Sanskrit seals, in the Koran, in Aztec and other native peoples’ stories. Most likely, you know the story as the Tower of Babel.
     Technical thriller? Indeed! The survivors of the Great Flood elect to build “a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven…” This was grand a goal for its time as H. G. Wells’s First Men on the Moon was for his.  The ancients fired “brick for stone”. That’s your disruptive technology. Bricks replaced sun-dried mud and permitted vertical buildings and city walls. City states replaced tribes. Heredity and political acumen replaced wisdom and experience in the appointment of rulers.  Bricks set nomadic life on the path to obsolescence and created social upheaval.
     The Tower of Babel account still resonates because it employs one of the oldest literary devices, metaphor, and one of the oldest themes in science fiction, playing God—hubris. “The Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this [building the tower] is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.’”
     The rest is history, or metaphor, if you prefer. Individual city-states produced individual cultures, languages and fragmented society. Add metaphor to history, create a mythology, and the story has legs that carry it across the centuries.
     Other early sci-fi writers used these tools successfully. Icarus’sill-fated flight towards the sun or Belleraphon’s abortive flight to Mt. Olympus are metaphors that represent hubris.
     Fast-forward to modern times and you’ll encounter the stubborn persistence of these themes. Read no further than Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and you’ll find technologists playing God with DNA. Monster stories are as old as darkness, but Crichton struck a vein when he married technology and mythology. That, and damned good writing.
     Another long-lived premise is that of the unhinged individual in control of limitless power, the Mad Scientist. I explore this subject in my novel, Little Deadly Things, the story of an emotionally-damaged woman whose mastery of nanotechnology makes her wealthy…and dangerous.
     I believe that the conscious use of our primal mythologies blended with modern technology produces great stories. Call it science fiction or technical thrillers—whichever you wish.
     Literature’s answer to playing God (a term coined in the 1931 film version of Frankenstein) is technology in service to mankind. Think of Isaac Asimov’s beneficent robots, harnessed by the Three Laws of Robotics. Consider the second Terminator movie, in which a new cyborg must protect John Connor from an even more powerful and advanced Terminator, the T-1000. Look to Marta Cruz in LittleDeadly Things, a character who melds nanotechnology with ancient rainforest medicines for the good of an ailing world.
     When writers grok the relationship between technical change and mythology, they add to their inventory of time-tested literary devices.  Imbue good writing with technical knowledge and mythology and the results just might be a damned good thriller that stays popular, millennium after millennium.
     I’ll tell you if it works for my novel. Just look me up in a thousand years and we’ll compare notes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers: How I Funded My Self-Published Novel With Kickstarter

The best time to prepare a Kickstarter project is a few years ago. Your history of generosity creates a bank of goodwill from which you can draw. The second best time to prepare is right now.
On July 13, I launched a $2500 Kickstarter project that raised $3,027. Direct contributions raised an additional $1,185 for a total of $4,212. After fees, I grossed $3,909. After paying for the rewards to backers, collateral materials, and shipping, I netted about $3400—a good chunk of the cost of self-publishing Little Deadly Things.
Success is not rocket science. It’s just hard work plus a few basics. Here’s what I learned.
Write a damned good book and a perfect Kickstarter pitch. Twelve percent of my funding came from strangers browsing Kickstarter for interesting projects. An indifferent pitch and the kindness of strangers will pass you by.
Aim low. Set a funding goal that you can attain or exceed. If you fall short of your goal, your project will not be funded.
End your project on the second weekend of the month. The first paycheck of the month pays the bills. The second check is more disposable. Don’t end a project at month end, when the money’s spent.
Short projects work better than long ones. Maintain a sense of urgency, and stay focused.
Backers help people they like. People you know won’t care about your project so much as they will care about you. Don’t take it personal. Make it personal.
Backers, II. Your generosity is infectious. Be a vector of giving to gain credibility. More about that at the end of this blog—don’t miss it.
Backers, III. People you’ve helped will help you. But there’s a caveat:  if you touch someone’s life, stay connected. I’ve done a lot of pro-bono work, but the only ones who responded to a solicitation were the most recent of the folks I helped, or those with whom I’ve stayed in touch.
Everybody likes a hero. Nobody likes a mooch. Use social networks wisely. I posted daily on Facebook. People were interested in the book’s progress and experienced my journey vicariously. But I was careful to mention my  Kickstarter project only three times.
One-third of my pledges came through the Little Deadly Things’ Facebook page. Remember to build your story on social media well before you start your funding appeal.
You must have a project video. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Check out the LDT video. It’s clearly home grown, but it worked.
Keep your video short. 197 people clicked on my five-minute video, but only 20% watched to the end. Your video should be well under three minutes.
Communicate well. Successful projects require strategic Updates. Too few, too many, or overly long Updates can mean failure. Short sentences and paragraphs are easier to read.
Rewards rule! The perceived value of the reward should approximate the size of the pledge. Browse Kickstarter to see what other project creators offer.
Rewards, II. You must include low-dollar value rewards. Nearly one out of three Kickstarter backers pledged $10. Their reward was an eBook, which was very profitable because there are no inventory or shipping costs.
Rewards, III. International backers preferred eBook rewards due to extra shipping costs and customs fees. If you ship print books internationally, indicate “Gift” on the customs form to avoid fees charged to the backer.
Rewards rule, IV. Shipping is the tail that wags the dog. I underestimated these costs. Also, I offered posters as a reward. I had to purchase mailing tubes and extra postage. Wish I’d thought that through!
Do not kick in your own money in order to hit your goal. It may be considered money-laundering. Your project may be taken down and the pledges cancelled.
Compliment Kickstarter with direct mail. One-third of my support came from people who do not frequent the internet. Bone up on how to write a fund-raising appeal.  Ask local shopkeepers how they handle requests for donations. Six percent of my proceeds came from shops I patronize.
Support Grubstreet’s young writers. Read Little Deadly Things. Starting in January, Little Deadly Things will fund a quarterly scholarship for the Grubstreet Young Adults Writers Program. You can help YAWP—and read a damned good novel—with your purchase. Buy from the LDT site, or from Amazon. You can even borrow the Kindle version free, from the Amazon Prime Lending Library. That helps YAWP too. Find out why YAWP might have saved a main character’s life.
Kickstarter is a heckuva lot of work. But it’s worthwhile.  Best of all, it will make you a better writer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New! You Discover Easy Free Proven Love. Safe Money Results Guaranteed!

Read just about any old-school sales training text--even some of the new ones--and you are bound to find a reference to a Yale University study describing the dozen most persuasive words in the English language. I squeezed 11 into the title of this update before I ran out of room. 

Trouble is, it was b.s.
The folks that trumpeted the study cited Yale's Communication and Attitude Change Project as its source. Project member Robert P. Abelson recalls letters pouring into his office asking for more data.
The study never existed. Neither did Marketing Magazine, which also was credited with the research.
I still love free, and I guarantee proven results.
On November 1 - 3, Alloy Press (that's me) will partner with Amazon to give away FREE Kindle copies of Little Deadly Things.  Tell your friends! No one needs attend Yale or a sales meeting to get a free copy. One simply needs to own a Kindle, or use a Kindle application on another device.
LDT is a futuristic thriller for those who don't read thrillers...and those who do. What happens when abusive parents raise brilliant children? You might get a saint. You might get a killer. Or you might get one of each. Nanotechnology made Eva Rozen the world's wealthiest woman. Rage made her the deadliest.
Why the give away?
I'm doing this because we're heading into the busiest time of year for book sales, Christmas. I want lots of people to read LDT and then purchase many copies as gifts.
You can help. Easy-peasy.
If you haven't placed an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, I beg you to do so. As of this writing, there are 22 reviews between those sites. The more reviews, the more seriously people will take this offering. .
That means you have to read the book. You'll love it!. All but 1 Amazon reviews is 5-star. The other is a fair 4-star review. According to Amazon the most-common review statements are:
  --"A very smart read..." (9 reviewers made similar statements, says Amazon)
  --"This book had me riveted...a page-turner." (9 reviewers made similar statements says Amazon)
  --"...a glimpse into what the future may hold for us.” (5 reviewers made similar statements says Amazon)
Read. Review. Spread the word.
Freebies coming November 1 - 3. Be part of history. Help LDT make the Amazon best-seller list, even if for only 3 days. 
That will be a very good deed--and good for your Health, which is word number twelve.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Worried About Aging? Five Infallible Tips For Growing Older Gracefully.

A few days after my 61st birthday, I fainted.

Turning 60 last year was fun; my wife gave me a surprise party. I was stunned and touched. Sixty-one is different. This time I’m stunned at how much gravity increased in just a year.

I think a lot about aging. My clients are retirees and so I spend my working hours with folks who average about 81 years of age. They run the gamut from ballroom dance champions to wheelchair inhabitants. But my own aging? About all I considered was an ascending waist size.
Until yesterday's swoon.

I had an episode of coughing syncope, a fancy name for a cough-induced fainting spell. Happens mostly to overweight middle aged men who are heavy drinkers. I drink very little but bingo, bingo, bingo for the other three elements. Coughing presses the blood vessels in the neck against the vagal nerve—one of the twelve cranial nerves, the nervous system’s data bus. Ol’ Mr. Vagal sends scrambled instructions to Mr. Brain: slow the heart and open the blood vessels in the legs. Gravity carries blood south. Starved of oxygen and glucose, the brain goes into suspend mode. Hold On Hannah, lights out.
Coughing syncope produces what medics call a 'postural change.' All fall down. Fortunately I was sitting at my desk and merely sprawled from seated to supine. Could have been worse: I might have been at the wheel of my fine European automobile (2005 Volvo wagon, 100,000 miles) or walking a two-by-four over whitewater rapids. All I did was break my eyeglasses and end up with a knock on the noggin.

Scared the crap outta me, though. I thought long and hard about my aging clients. Here's what I've learned from them—the nonagenarian ballroom dance champions, the octogenarian scientist, the paralyzed septuagenarian.
  1. It takes less of anything to do the trick. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc. Metabolism changes with age. My motto used to be, “Too much of anything is just enough” but now it’ll be, “Just half of that, please.”
  2. Be prepared. My wife and I knew the symptoms of a stroke (dizziness, numbness, confusion, difficulty walking or speaking) so we could rule that out. We learned the causes of syncope in a hurry. If I have a coughing spell while driving, I’ll pull over. And I’ll be spending a few quality minutes with my physician, which will surely lead to many more minutes with specialists. The docs employ many diagnostic tools. They need to rule out any dangerous condition, including malpractice.
  3. If you hear a big crash from another part of the house, it’s OK to ask, “What happened?” and to investigate if there’s no reply. Coughing syncope usually self-resolves in about one to three minutes, but I had a bit of a struggle getting back up again.
  4. Rules are made to be broken. After the episode I lay down and wondered what the hell was going on. Jody put a beach towel on the bed—what the heck? She’s expecting surf?—and then placed Zippy the dog at my side for comfort. Dog on the bed is a big no-no…except when it isn’t.
  5. Keep a sense of humor. When I started this post, I researched quotes on age and aging. My second favorite, courtesy of actress Bette Davis: “Growing old isn’t for sissies.” My favorite? A little bon mot from the great sage Groucho Marx: "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

If the dog hadn’t caught my eye would anything be different? The Butterfly Effect v. the Leash

No sense wishing it hadn’t happenedThere’s no Butterfly Effect effect. I can’t change the past to alter the future. If I tried to change anything that led to the accident, then something else would pop up, like a Whac-a-Mole, and the accident happens just the same. The Self-Consistency Principal trumps the Butterfly Effect.
A dog like Lady, before
the accident

In other words, you can’t get the shit back in the donkey.

Except when you can. There were two moments that mattered. Change either and the accident doesn't happen. First, there's the lynchpin. Without it, everything falls apart. The other moment that mattered was the Point of No Return. Take either one away and nothing happens. But it's too late now.

We were walking north on Shore Drive in Winthrop, Jody and I, when we noticed the woman and the dog playing fetch on the beach with sticks washed up from the last storm. It was going to be our last walk for a few days. Hurricane Irene was coming. We saw a heavy cloudbank.  Jody said it was only the outermost edge of the storm system. We watched the two play fetch for a few minutes and then walked on. If we hadn't stopped, would the accident have happened? 

The dog’s name was Lady, a young adult Staffordshire terrier with a gray coat, a curious gaze and a non-threatening face. She stood about fourteen inches at the withers, solid, maybe sixty, sixty five pounds. I like solid dogs. I like Staffies. I don't like prong collars, though, and Lady wore one.

Lady shook her stick back and forth, a display of canine pride and pleasure. She looked happy on the beach. But the woman lacked Lady’s stamina or maybe she had something else to do and she headed for the sidewalk. Maybe she knew that the Animal Control Officer would write a ticket if he saw them—there’s a “No dogs on the beach” sign that neither the woman nor Lady could have missed. Two tickets if Lady didn’t have a current license. The lynchpin event had just taken place, but it still go either way for Lady.

The woman was on the beach when Lady bolted. She ran onto the sidewalk and toward Jody and me. The woman yelled in an overly loud voice, “She’s friendly." The Point of No Return loomed closer, but the accident wasn't yet a fait acompli.

I wanted to engage Lady until the woman could reach her. I wouldn't take her collar, though. She was a strange dog who might react to me reaching toward her head. Then there was the prong collar.

Lady’s inventory—mouth, ears, head, torso and tail showed no sign of aggression. I squatted down to be a lower, non-threatening figure, and positioned my body at a 45 degree angle from Lady. Dogs consider an indirect posture to be a sign of respect and manners. I hoped she recognized my good breeding.

The woman caught up with Lady. That was the Point of No Return. She leaned over the dog, shook her finger and shouted, “Lady, sit!” Lady edged back. The woman advanced, shaking her index finger like a salt shaker, demanding that the dog sit, right now. Lady wasn't listening.

The Toyota's driver wore a freshly pressed white shirt. Maybe she was heading to work. I don’t think she’d been speeding because she stopped at the point of impact, where the headlight's rubble was piled. I thought for a moment that she was wearing a stocking over her head like a convenience store robber. I looked again and saw that it was her hands covering her face. Adrenaline can do that, make a perfectly ordinary gesture look menacing.

The sound a dog makes when struck by a car is invariably described as a ‘sickening thump’ as if this particular whoomp comes only in the vertiginous variety. Then came Lady’s high-pitched, sharp cry of pain and betrayal.
A Corolla weighs 2800 pounds and Lady,
 about 65. Toyota calls this color, "Barcelona Red"

Luck was with Lady, not counting being hit by a car, because she bounced away instead of going under the wheels. She did three end-over-end rolls on the pavement and then ran back to the beach. I didn't see any injury but shock can temporarily deaden pain. She whined when I approached and shied away from me. I wasn't surprised. I was Lady’s last experience before the woman loomed  and shouted and it all turned bad. The Point of No Return.

I fear that for the rest of her life, something will remind Lady of me, maybe a baseball cap or sunglasses. When that happens, Lady’s flight-or-fight instinct will fire. I don’t know if the woman will think, "she associates that hat with the day she ran into a car. I'd best be extra careful right now." More likely, she'll blame the breed if Lady reacts. The potential for Bad is high.

The woman finally leashed the dog. The leash was the lynchpin, the ingredient without which the accident could not have happened. Leashed, Lady doesn't bolt, the Toyota keeps its headlight intact, and none of us two-legs end up horrified at the sight of a dog running into traffic.

Jody and I left as the woman was snapping a lead on Lady. We didn’t want to be there. I was angry and upset. I wanted to yell at the woman, to scream that her body posture had been menacing, that shouting and prong collars are as appropriate to a dog as they are to a two year old child. I wanted to rub the woman’s nose in the mess, to smack her with a rolled up newspaper.

But I didn’t. Those reactions don't work for people any better than they do for dogs. I'd rack up bad karma or an assault charge.  

Besides, I don’t subscribe to the Butterfly Effect, not even in my fantasies.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm going crazy. Want to come? Got two tickets!

 What’s your most frustrating experience? Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.
What rankles you, turns you from mild to monster, from a prince to the Prince of Darkness? Dealing with a bureaucrat raise your dander? A spouse? Waiting for the cable guy? Biting down on an unpopped kernal of popcorn and busting your new crown, the one that paid for the the dentist’s kitchen renovation?
Me—it’s dealing with Technical Support.
Big respect to the folks who answer call after call from no account thumble thumbs like me, impatient morons without the stamina to wade through a 300 page users manual, Type A SOBs who touch “0” as soon as the call connects.  We’re an unpleasant constituency and the folks in call centers who put up with us have enough patience to stare down Mother Theresa.
 But…tech support calls makes me crazy. Like this one. True story, no exaggerations.
My old copier died so I bought a new one. It arrived—free shipping!—and  a few hours later I staggered along the Stations of the Cross, a trip to the Veil of Tears known as Tech Support.
I got Nimitzed. That’s a word I coined to describe the state of being discombobulated, disconcerted and confounded. I swiped the term from the Nimitz Freeway, a belligerent strip of asphalt that connects Oakland and San Jose, California, like Chinese water torture connects you to irrational rage. In fact, the Auto Club of America dubbed it the Bay Area’s Rudest Road. To drive the Nimitz during rush hour is to be saddled with disorienting mania. That’s being Nimitzed.
I was flush with Nimitzosity as I struggled through my new copier’s “Quick Start Guide”; that term, BTW, is a triple oxymoron. The publication was written in cuneiform and imparted all of the benefit of an eighteenth century anatomy text. Imagine the the crisp prose of the U.S. tax code suffused with the warmth of Hoboken, New Jersey’s zoning regulations and you get a sense of the “Quick Start Guide” for my brand new Brother MFC-5490 copier. 
The instructions directed me to open up the top of the copier to plug a USB cable inside the machine. Don’t ask why an engineer puts the port inside of the machine—that’s grist for an different mill. My trouble was this: once I opened the machine, I couldn’t get it closed. Tried and tried. No dice. It sounds simple yet there’s nothing so uncomplicated that I can do it all by myself. It was time to call support, to cascade through an escalating series of technical agents and hold music, to enter the geek version of Dante’s Inferno. When it comes to mechanical objects, I’m naturally drawn to the ninth and seventh circles of Hell—treachery and violence.
I placed the call.
A pleasant voice advised me that my call would be on hold for no longer than the duration of the last Ice Age. Finally an agent answered. “Hello. My name is Tanya. How may I frustrate you?”
I explain the problem, then attempt to ward off an interrogation worthy of a prison guard at Guantanamo. I begged, “Just tell me how to close the thing, please”
“I’m sorry for your inconvenience. What is the serial number of the machine?” says Tanya.
“I can’t read it. The numbers are too small, and I can’t find my magnifying glass. I think Sherlock Holmes took it. But I just need to know how to close the machine.”
“I’m sorry for your inconvenience. What operating system is your computer?”
“What difference does that make? I just want to close the machine!”
“I’m sorry for your inconvenience. What operating system is your computer?”
“Windows 7,” I sighed. Defeat registered in my voice. Sensing a moment of vulnerability, Tanya pounced.
“I’m sorry for your inconvenience, but that is a software issue. I’ll transfer you now.”
“No! Wait! I don’t need software support. I just want to close the machine.”
“Yes sir. Sorry for your inconvenience, but I only deal with product registration. Closing the machine is a software support team issue.”  Software support team? What, they have intramural competitions there? Potato sack races at recess? Tanya was back. One moment sir.” Then the inevitable hold music. 
A generation later, I’m connected with a software support center located somewhere in the Mariner Valley, on the planet Mars. The man who took my call had a thick Martian accent. He said that his name was…Peter. Very Martian.
I repeat my question and Peter jumps in to help. “May I know the operating systerm, Mr. Harry?” The telltale accent is growing stronger.
I did not wish to vent my spleen on poor Peter. I did finally got the copier closed. Sheer brute force. In the meantime, as I move back and forth between the computer and the copier, my dog, Phoebe, positions herself so that I trip over her each time I move. It’s an instinct bred into Beagles. I don’t know how she can anticipate my every move, but each time I turn, she is directly in my path, stretched out,and gazing lovingly at me. She licks my face when I crash to the floor.
I’m beginning to think that Phoebe the Beagle and Peter from Mars own stock in Pfizer, the manufacturer of Xanax. I could use a bowlful about now. Meanwhile, I think I got the copier working, but I’m going to start using carbon paper, the way other people use stress balls.
Hand to God, this is a true story, except the carbon paper. (I’m quite certain about the call center on Mars.) In the end I got the machine working and, really, the spike in my blood pressure did me no good. I don’t know if the complexity of simple things or the impersonality of individual attention bothered me more. But I seem to pull a nutty more and more often when I have to deal with technical objects. Give me a barking dog to train or stinky diapers to change any day, thank you.
What about you? What are some of your most frustrating events? Tell me the story—I’d love to compare notes. I’ll even immortalize your mania on this blog.
And remember, there’s always a dog.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ancient roots for a modern celebration? Honoring National Ice Cream Day!

Preserving the Ice Cream traditions of an early people
National Ice Cream Day is the year's spiritual apogee for my people. The year’s sins are washed away by creamy soft serve swirl, a balm to our souls as we prepare for Holy Sundae, the third one of July

This family celebration follows a month of determined preparation. Children enjoy the ritual, Find the Wafer Cone--it's a way to prepare for the High Holy Day's adult responsibilities. Mothers and fathers offer a traditional responsive reading, “Hot Fudge or Butterscotch”. This moving recitative celebrates the oneness of all toppings.

Ice Cream anthropologists tell us that the holiday's roots date back to the ancient Celts, circa 800 B.C. Excavations of a two-thousand year old Mr. Softee shrine provides a rare glimpse into how the holiday was celebrated in its earliest form. Cave drawings--remarkably preserved for two milenia--depict temple priests. They were stiffly garbed in white attire with a band of black cloth that resembles a modern necktie. Many of the cave drawings show the attendants with a round white snap brim cap. The meaning of their vestal garments is yet uncertain but suggest purity or possibly vanilla. 

That the ancients could maintain a frozen custard in the July heat puzzles scientists today who have been unable to recreate the ancients' recipe. Working from fossils and fragments, the excavation team was able to recreate a device that turns out to be remarkably similar to today's ice cream scoop. It is almost certain that the scoop was used to dispense the ceremonial ice cream dessert. 

Early Celtic Ice Cream Deity?
That this rite anticipates the Passover Seder of the Jewish tradition is a theory that is hotly debated by archaeologists today. Other scholars speculate that the 'tester spoon', a small device for sampling just a mouthful parallels the Christian communion ritual. Certainly, the communion wafer and the Celtic cone share a common heritage. But to suggest a connection between the cone and topping of the Celtic tradition and the blood and body of the communion ritual strikes some scholars as unlikely. For now, this eerie correspondence will likely remain a mystery, awaiting a Rosetta Stone like decoder, before we can pronounce the universality of Ice Cream with certainty.

Some accounts of the Ice Cream ritual include mention of self-flagellation with the leaves of the now extinct Irish Banana tree. Each tribe had a  moyel--thought to be a tree trimmer or similar--who begins the festivaly when he utters the Lepontic words, "Tá mo bhríste trí thine" which translates loosely to, "My trousers are on fire"  The congregation chants a responsive interchange, "Pero la carraterra es verde," or 'but the highway is green.' 

(The exact route by which the Spanish phrase worked its way across the North Sea to Ireland is still a mystery. Proponents of the Universal Appearance school of ice cream development point to this inexplicable phenomenon as evidence that ice cream worship sprang up independently in places as diverse as Leitrim Ireland to Hoboken NJ (the site of a complete Teaneck Man skeleton that shows the distinctive forearm development of a scooper).
The fate of the Celtic
Ice Cream Cults?
Topping masters show their craft

Today’s National Ice Cream Day festivities include the Parade of Begging Dogs. While today's celebrants regard begging canines as a cheerful nod to the past, it should be noted that some the earliest Ice Cream cults died out, possibly the result of having bred ice cream loving giant Irish Wolfhounds to excess. Sic transit gloria glacies cramum.

However you celebrate National Ice Cream Day, please, allow me to extend the fullness of my heart and belly in friendship. May your hot fudge pot never become congealed, may your whipped cream dispenser always have spare whippets.