lost time incident 16 – cows out there


lost time incident 16
Hey folks! It’s probably too early to be sure, but it sure seems like if you force yourself to practice a creative pursuit, it does actually get easier. Or maybe I just got lucky and had a hot streak this weekend. Put out a lot of Twitter activity, recorded some video game stuff with my better half, filmed a truly dumb instructional video (which you’ll see below) and then there’s this thing!

My intention, when I started the newsletter, was to get back in the habit of being creative, because too much time was slipping past me with with work/passively watch something/sleep cycle. It might be working.

Time is still slipping away, but that might now be more linked to my own advanced age.

The photo above is one I took last year in India, documenting the cows who liked to hang out in the vacant field next to the office I was working out of. For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about that trip again recently, which reminded me of this anecdote:

out-of-town money
Last year, I spent a few weeks in India for work. I got into town early so I’d have a weekend to recover before I had to turn up, be awake  and act respectable in the office on Monday morning. My first morning out, I figured I’d just walk out the front gate of the hotel I was staying at, pick a direction, and see where I ended up.

However, parked just outside the gate was a good-natured fellow who jumped out of his tuk-tuk-style cab and volunteered to drive me wherever I wanted to go. When I asked him his rates, he insisted he didn’t charge. “Oh, are you affiliated with the hotel?” I asked. He dodged the question, but was fine if that was something I wanted to believe.

As it turned out, he was just a charming guy with no working meter who found that if you can charm a foreigner into hopping into your cab, their guilt at not paying you will usually lead to them tipping you more than you would have collected… by a long shot.

If you’ve read any sort of travel advice, you’ll know there’s usually a section about how to avoid being taking advantage of as a foreigner-with-money. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling you that you can haggle. Sometimes it’s as terrifying as telling you that if your driver runs someone over or crashes the vehicle, you absolutely should not leave the vehicle until help arrives, due to the possibility that it’s all a trap to kidnap you.

(That last one is for Angola, by the way.)

But India’s not too bad.

One of the things you get warned about is that if your cab driver won’t start their meter, you shouldn’t go with them. You’ll also be told that some drivers have partnerships lined up with local vendors and they’ll offer to take you anywhere for free— so long as you don’t mind browsing at a shop first. And if you buy something there, so much the better, because they’re getting paid for dropping you and your wallet off, and the kickback’s sweeter if you actually buy something.

But I tell you, if you’re up too early in the morning on a Sunday and you genuinely have nothing else to do, going to a handicraft shop at the suggestion of a cab driver who says you don’t have to pay him at all isn’t a bad way to pass the time.

That’s how I ended up looking at carved wooden elephants while chatting with with an Indian-appearing fellow named Javaid who said he was actually born and raised in Russia. Though he now runs his family’s handicrafts store, convincing people like me that we need a heavy brass statue of Ganesha, he originally studied to be an engineer. After getting out of school, he found himself working at a coal mine up in Siberia. He bailed on the coal-flecked snows of Siberia when the Soviet Union’s economy collapsed.  Claimed he doesn’t miss it, if you can believe that.

“Where are you from” he asked. When I said “The US,” he asked who I thought our next President might be.

“Well, the odds are favoring Hillary Clinton,” I said. This was mid-2015.

“She would be the first female President, correct?”


“Your country has been around for hundreds of years. Why do you think you haven’t had a female President yet?”

“Uh… because we’re a sexist country? Isn’t that obvious?”

Biggest laugh I got on the whole trip, my moment of honesty with Javaid.


e-book ideas

  • So You’re Haunting a Rich Person
  • My Gun Talks With Bullets
  • A Pet Owner’s Guide to Kettle Corn
  • B-bye 4ever – Suicide Notes from Children
  • A Gentleman’s Guide to Binge-Watching
  • Public Domain Fiction Make-Out Sessions




meanwhile somewhere else



interview with some vampire
“What is that? Will it hurt me? Or do you… do you use it to prepare food?”

The vampire was pointing, concerned, at my smartphone, which I had just placed on the table between us to record our conversation.

“… It’s harmless. Don’t worry about it.”

“I have traveled over mountain ranges of time and while I was doing so… I was studying the art… of sexy.” He picked nervously at a ragged fingernail. His nail beds were pale and recessed. “I am one of those sexy vampires.”

He smiled, his fangs poking out past his lips, yellow like table butter that’s been left on a picnic table under the summer sun. “Like in your fimms. Your movings.”

“You mean ‘movies’?”

“Do I? Perhaps? When I go to see a fimm, I sneak in … as a bat. Bat ears don’t hear human words so good.” He frowned. “I have never seen a moving that wasn’t upside down. And very blurry. Bats don’t see so good. But it was enough to be sure that I am sexy.”






jazz appreciation EP001


For those new to appreciating jazz, I put together a one minute introduction that will set you on the right path. Just some basic moves for beginners. Nothing too taxing.


ending theme song
Okay! We made it! One more lost time incident full of nonsense, out the door. As ever, we’ve got some amazing original illustrations from my wife Amanda. How about that, huh? An entire comic, we got from her this time!

If you like it, tell your friends. If you don’t like your friends… just keep this newsletter to yourself.

Thanks for showing up! See you next week!


–Michael Van Vleet