July 28, 2016
A beautiful new issue of Fourteen Hills was recently released, and it includes my short story “If in the Night a Grizzly Bear,” which, out of all the stories I’ve written, has the best title.
The journal is print-only, but if you can get your hands on it, I hope you enjoy the story. It’s about a troubled man coming to terms with events in his past, which include surviving a plague of red dust and being subjected to a painful ordeal with a mysterious machine. The title comes from a “Montana lullaby” his grandfather sang to him:
If in the night a grizzly bear
Comes slinking through your door,
He’ll take a taste
Of your face
When you start to snore.
A grizzly bear’s a ghastly beast
With teeth as sharp as knives.
He’ll turn your tongue into a feast
And gobble up your eyes.
If in the night a grizzly bear
Comes crawling in your room,
Just start to pray
Before you meet your doom.
A grizzly bear’s a loathsome lout
With black and empty eyes.
He’ll open you from gut to snout
And snack on your insides.
If in the night a grizzly bear
Comes growling in your home,
You’re out of luck
‘Cause he will suck
The meat off all your bones.
A grizzly bear’s a gruesome brute
With paws of razor claws.
Your tender parts are juicy fruit
In his wretched jaws.
If in the night a grizzly bear
Comes creeping to your bed,
You’ll hope to die
After you eyes
Are gobbled from your head.
A grizzly bear’s a fiendish fiend
With fur as soft as lace.
He’ll give a belch after he’s cleaned
The meat off of your face.
I hope everyone’s having a nice summer.
February 11, 2016
I wrote an old-timey witch story that was just published in the newest issue of Literary Orphans, a beautiful online literary magazine. It includes some great unsettling art (especially in the browser version) by Menerva Tao that fits the story’s tone really well. You can check it out here: http://www.literaryorphans.org/playdb/hag-robert-hinderliter/
(Art above is “Secrets” by Menerva Tao)
June 16, 2015
My short story “Dangerous to Go Alone” has just been published in issue 7 of Pinball, a very cool online literary magazine. This story is a re-imagining of an iconic moment in video game history, from the The Legend of Zelda. Hope you like it!
May 26, 2015
Night Train Magazine has just published two of my short stories: a post-apocalyptic Thanksgiving story and a strange baseball story. They’re both very short. You can read them right now on your computer and no one can stop you.
September 8, 2014
“Same pants, different day, A-OK.” If, like me, you teach some classes that meet Monday and Wednesday and others that meet Tuesday and Thursday, this is the perfect opportunity to wear the same pair of pants two days in a row. You’ll be seeing entirely new students, so no one will know you’re wearing the same pants (and most likely underwear) as the previous day. It’s theoretically possible to also wear the same shirt, but this is riskier, as someone in the teacher’s office might notice and then make disparaging remarks about you to the other teachers when you go to class. You should be fine with the pants, though, because none of the other teachers care about your pants.
If you have a really nice shirt that has a noticeable stain, don’t throw it away! You can wear it once for each new class you teach – just pretend you got the stain that day. Your students will think, “What a nice shirt that is, and how fashionable is my teacher,” while at the same time feeling sorry for you because of the stain. Everyone will think you’re having a bad day since you spilled something on your shirt, and they won’t want to make it worse, so they’ll be extra polite and well-behaved.
If you have a super fashionable coat, find an excuse to wear it to class. The best method is to arrive late. You can come straight from home, or just hang out in the teacher’s office until five minutes past starting time. Then you’ll need to rush to your classroom, where all your students will be waiting for you. As you prepare the day’s teaching materials, you can continue to wear your coat as you “warm up” while looking really stylish. Another tactic is to pretend the heater isn’t working. Then you can just go ahead and give your lecture wearing your coat, but be sure to periodically grumble about how cold the room is and complain about building management so the students know you’re on their side – you’re all in this together, suffering from the cold but looking great.
Frayed belt loops: everyone gets them. The material on the outside of the belt loop gets worn away over the years, revealing a sub-layer of embarrassingly white threads. You might think at this point that your only option is to throw the pants away, or maybe burn them, but this problem can actually be solved in the privacy of your own home with a simple classroom board marker. Just color in the white threads with the marker!
The pants in the example photo are brown, and brown board markers don’t exist, so just go with black. Only the students in the front row will be able to notice the difference, and they won’t tell anyone because front row students are your friends and don’t want to hurt you. Please remember, though, that board markers aren’t waterproof, so you’ll need to reapply after each wash.
Keep looking good, teachers!
November 8, 2013
I’m working on a new story. Here’s the beginning:
Despite the recent attacks on local livestock by Mutant Death Worms – two mutilated cows, one maimed horse, six dogs missing and three confirmed dead – the school board decided, after a long deliberation, not to cancel the football game. Other than a few unsubstantiated reports from Mexico, there was no evidence that the creatures had acquired a taste for human flesh. And, after all, it was Homecoming.
August 10, 2013
After one more week of teaching summer classes, I’ll be taking a week-long vacation to Malaysia. This will be my first time visiting a country in Asia other than South Korea. I’m going with two good friends, and I’m really looking forward to it.
However, I’m also a little apprehensive. The plan is to spend a lot of time hanging out on the beach and swimming in the ocean, and like every sensible human being, I’m afraid of being killed by a shark. For one thing, I’m not a gifted swimmer. I plan to be doing a lot of helpless flailing, and there’s nothing that provokes more contempt in a shark than a poor swimmer. Sharks are proud, haughty animals, and as the ocean’s apex predators, they often kill lousy swimmers simply out of distain, or to demonstrate their aquatic superiority. Also, having noticeable tan lines and light, highly-reflective skin has been known to attract sharks, and I will undoubtedly be the palest, most hilariously tan-lined creature splashing around helplessly in the Indian Ocean.
With those thoughts in mind, and after doing five minutes of research and making some preposterous assumptions and almost certainly some egregious mathematical errors, I’ve concluded that my odds of being killed by a shark are terrifyingly high. While reading this article and being disappointed to discover that my odds of seeing mermaids in Malaysia are zero percent, I also learned that as an American, my odds of being killed by a shark are around 1 in 3.8 million. This was presented as an exceedingly small chance, but to me it actually seems high. After all, how many Americans go swimming in the ocean? Not very many! We tend to be a sedentary lot, and swimming doesn’t play a large role in our national cultural heritage.
So, based on those statistics and my failings as a smooth swimmer and a tanned person, I’ve concluded that my odds of being killed by a shark in Malaysia are approximately 1 in 10.
However, those are just my odds of suffering a fatal shark attack. Only about 20% of shark attacks are deadly, so my overall odds of being attacked by a shark while vacationing in Malaysia are approximately 5 in 10, or 50%.
If I make it back alive, I’ll update this post with photos of my gruesome shark attack injuries. Stay tuned!
April 7, 2013
I’ve moved to Gwangju, South Korea to teach English at Chosun University.
January 17, 2013
I created an “Amazing Pet!” activity for my students. This contribution is from Mickey, a sweet-hearted but mischievous 10-year-old girl. Most of the other students had pet puppies or dinosaurs. Mickey had a “Robert Rabbit.” In the picture I’m holding a carrot and a smart phone. Only one of these artistic choices is an accurate reflection of my current lifestyle. (UPDATE MARCH 2013: Now both are accurate.) My measurements are on the metric system. I like that she rounded my weight to that second decimal place. Also, I’m glad she changed her mind about my food preference. Also, “Rabbit Pong” is awesome – let’s play together some time.
December 23, 2012
I came home from work the other day and found this message written on the fogged-up door of my apartment building. I’m the only foreigner in the building, so I don’t know who wrote it. Based on my expert handwriting analysis, I think all three lines were written by different people. Anyway, M[e]rry Christmas to you, too!