Trick or Treat | Halloween Jokes

Happy Halloween everyone! Instead of candy (which is difficult to enjoy digitally), here are some Halloween jokes. And as with all terrible jokes, please enjoy them responsibly.

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What did one ghost say to the other ghost?
“Do you believe in people?”

What did the boy ghost say to the girl ghost?
“You look boo-tiful tonight.”

What do birds give out on Halloween night?
Tweets

What do ghosts add to their morning cereal?
Booberries

What do ghosts drink at breakfast?
Coffee with scream and sugar.

What do ghosts eat for dinner?
Spookgetti

What do you call a ghost with a broken leg?
Hoblin Goblin

What do you call a witch who lives at the beach?
A sand-witch

What do you call someone who puts poison in a person’s corn flakes?
A cereal killer

What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?
Frostbite

What do you get when you cross a werewolf and a vampire?
A fur coat that fangs around your neck.

What do you get when you cross Bambi with a ghost?
Bamboo

What does a skeleton orders at a restaurant?
Spare ribs

What does a vampire never order at a restaurant?
A stake sandwich

What does the papa ghost say to his family when driving?
“Fasten your sheet belts.”

What is a ghost’s favorite mode of transportation?
A scareplane

What is a ghoul’s favorite flavor?
Lemon-slime

What is a skeleton’s favorite musical instrument?
A trombone

What is a vampire’s favorite candy?
A sucker

What is a vampire’s favorite holiday?
Fangsgiving

What is a vampire’s favorite sport?
Casketball

What kind of cereal do monsters eat?
Ghost-Toasties

What kind of mistakes do spooks make?
Boo boos

What kind of streets do zombies like the best?
Dead ends

What type of dog do vampire’s like the best?
Bloodhounds

What would a monster’s psychiatrist be called?
Shrinkenstein

When does a skeleton laugh?
When something tickles his funny bone

Where do spooks water ski?
On Lake Erie

Who did Frankenstein take to the prom?
His ghoul friend

Why did the vampire go to the orthodontist?
To improve his bite

Why do mummies have trouble keeping friends?
They’re so wrapped up in themselves.

What do skeletons say before they begin dining?
Bone appetit!

Why don’t angry witches ride their brooms?
They’re afraid of flying off the handle.

Why don’t skeletons ever go out on the town?
Because they don’t have any body to go out with…

Why was the mummy so tense?
He was all wound up

Jokes courtesy of Ink Stains with Roni

And of course, a clip from the animated version of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree (with voices by Leonard Nimoy!)

My Halloween Present

This past Friday, I got to get out of work a bit early so I could pick up the girls from Grandma’s daycare to visit my wife where she works.

The company that my wife works for goes all out for holidays, and Halloween is no exception. Every department was given money to decorate their area in spooky decor and buy candy to hand out. And then from 3pm to 5pm, workers were encouraged to bring their kids in costume through the haunted halls to each office, cubicle, and workstation to trick-or-treat, where the costumed staff would hand out candy. Some departments were even giving out full-size candy bars.

I love where my wife works.

Not just because of the candy that we got (that my two-year-old isn’t going to eat by herself), but because they really seem to value family. This was our daughter’s first Halloween where she participated in some way, and though it wasn’t a huge thing, it was a special way to spend an afternoon together.

We learned a few things too: Our oldest might be afraid of giant bananas. She is definitely afraid of people in alien masks. But she is even more afraid of the semi-trucks that were driving in and out of the shipping department as we walked into the building.

Now, let me tell you about the costume. In accordance with the challenge issued by my friend Jessie Clemence over on her blog, my wife and I chose to make a costume for our daughter for under $5.00. My original thought was to make a book costume modeled after one of her favorite board books, but we didn’t have the time to pull if off well. My second thought was to somehow use one or more of the many, many baby shower gift bags that we’ve been hanging onto for far too long. When I told this idea to my wife, she told me that she was thinking along the same lines.

So, we made our daughter into a present for Halloween at a total cost of zilch. We found an appropriately sized bag, cut a hole in the bottom for her legs, had her put her arms through the handles and tied the handles together with a ribbon behind her back so she wouldn’t be able to take it off. For finishing touches, we stuffed tissue paper around her (and I was surprised that she didn’t even try to remove it). She even carried around another smaller gift bag to use for collecting candy.

Look at how happy she is!

And for anyone concerned that little sister didn’t get to participate, she did. But since her costume is essentially a pair of fuzzy pajamas with ears on the hood and required absolutely no effort on our part, it might be considered cheating as far as Halloween costumes are concerned. Also, she’s 3-months-old and has no concept of holidays yet.

Anyway, here’s wishing you and yours a happy and safe Halloween!

I am one to take offers literally.

I was a freshman in high school when my church got a new youth pastor. Pastor Alan Moody had me pegged as a quiet, shy, innocent boy when we first met, perhaps because I was a freshman and my older brother was a senior. It didn’t take long for him to realize his mistake.

Sometime in those first few weeks, he said to the youth group, “My door is always open. If you ever want to come by, feel free. Come over anytime. No exceptions.” Quite a statement.

Two years pass. We go on some mission trips, do some outreach things, and the youth group grows to love Pastor Alan.

During that year (my junior year, by which time I have my driver’s license), Pastor Alan arranged for four of us in the youth group (two guys, two gals) to take part in a weekend leadership seminar that was taking place at some Christian college a few hours away. We had signed all the necessary paperwork to be able to leave at the end of the school day in the church van in order to get down to the college in time.

But then the snowstorm hit.

Pastor Alan came to visit us during lunch to tell us that the seminar had been cancelled.

“That’s okay,” I said. “We’ll just come over to your house for the weekend. We’re already packed.”

It was true. Since we were planning on leaving from school, we all had packed bags sitting in our cars.

“Ha ha,” said Pastor Alan.

“You did say that we could come over anytime,” I said.

“Anytime,” he said, one eyebrow starting to lift.

“Great,” I said. “We’ll see you later.”

“Uh huh,” he said, eyebrows now knitted. “Later. Enjoy your weekend.”

That night, instead of leaving for the trip, the four of us attended the school’s varsity boys’ basketball game (three of us because we were in the jazz band that played at these events, the fourth to watch the game and the jazz band play). After the game, near 11:00pm, we left the school and drove over to Pastor Alan’s house and knocked on the door, arms full of luggage and convenience store snacks. His pregnant wife answered.

“Hi,” I said. “Pastor Alan said that your door is always open. So here we are.”

“Let me get Alan,” she said quietly, so as not to wake her four other kids.

Within about a minute, Pastor Alan came to the door.

“What are you doing here?”

“I said we were coming by.”

“The leadership thing was cancelled,” he said.

“Right,” I said. “Which is why we’re here instead.”

“…”

“Can we come in? It’s cold out here. You did say once that we could come over anytime.”

“Um,” he said. “Fine. But stay downstairs and try not to wake up the kids.”

We all went downstairs.

We played Nintendo games, ate junk food, and ended up waking at least one of the children. We stayed up to the wee hours and when we deemed it time for bed, the girls slept upstairs in the living room and the boys slept downstairs in the family room. I get the feeling that for the next week, Pastor Alan slept on the couch.

After my senior year, Pastor Alan took another job, becoming a camp director. The church got a new youth pastor. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in passing, Pastor Alan told the new youth pastor to avoid the phrase, “Come over anytime.”

Stephen King | On Writing

For my birthday this year, I got two copies of Stephen King’s “Memoir of the Craft”, On Writing. I didn’t keep them both, but I did keep one. The other, I exchanged for a newly released book of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories. So it goes.

I asked for On Writing initially because so many writers and friends have read it and learned a great deal. I didn’t ask for it because I am an avid Stephen King reader. In fact, here’s the sad admission, aside from On Writing, I’ve never read a book by Stephen King. Oh, I’ve seen some of the movies based on his works (I especially enjoyed “The Green Mile”, mostly because I’m a big Tom Hanks fan), but that doesn’t really count. That said, I had no basis for whether or not I would enjoy Mr. King’s approach to writing. No expectations.

Stephen King in his finest duds.

You’ll be glad to know that I’m enjoying the book thoroughly. King’s mix of story, advice, and experiences with the craft come across as genuine. These are the tips picked up on the way to becoming a millionaire author, not the high-minded notions of a millionaire who happens to write. I appreciate his candor and would recommend this book for anyone who wishes to understand the world of writing a bit better, including those who are affected by the written word while not being writers themselves.

I’ll include a warning here about King’s salty language. He has a tendency not to mince words or play to the church crowd, thus his language may be too crass for the gentle-hearted among you. But as King himself says:

You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have the resonance and realism that Hart’s War, good story though it is, so sadly lacks–and that holds true all the way down to what folks say when they hit their thumb with the hammer.

King is himself, and his advice is good. On Writing is quite a resource.

And here is the man himself, talking about short stories (a subject near to my heart).

Balancing Family, Marriage, Chores, and Writing. Oh yeah, and the Unexpected too.

My wife loves me.

I value my wife above all else.

But sometimes I struggle with managing my time in such a way that she feels that she’s number one. The last few weeks and months have been very busy. And although all of the things that we are busy with are either good or innocuous things, we are left with little discretionary time. My wife and I both work full-time. Her mom watches our girls while we are at work, and in order to get to work on-time after dropping the girls at her mom’s house, my wife needs to be out the door by 7am, so we are usually up by 5:30am to begin the morning routine. This is especially hard after our 3-month-old decides that she doesn’t like sleeping at night.

After my wife leaves at 7am, I have until 8:30am to write on my blog and take care of a few small chores around the house (taking the dog out, making the bed, etc.). Usually, this works out just fine, but problems arise when my morning is usurped by the unexpected. When that happens, I wait until evening after the girls go to bed to write. But back to the schedule.

After work, I get home and start making dinner, usually having it ready by the time my wife has picked up the girls and arrives home. We eat dinner as a family and enjoy some time with our girls before it is the oldest’s bedtime at 7:30pm. The 3-month-old doesn’t understand bedtime yet. I take the dog for a walk, my wife packs our lunches for the next day or does the dishes from dinner, and we head to bed at an embarrassingly early hour so we can try to get some chunks of sleep in-between our baby’s wakeful times.

Our goal for each weekend is to have at least a little time together where we aren’t running around like headless fowl, but for the last couple months, things keep coming up. First, our only car that holds both car seats broke down and we had to buy another. Then family stopped by. Then a friend needed help with some projects. So, while each other these things aren’t bad in and of themselves (except for the car thing, that could have been better), our time together is chipped away by the unexpected.

The thing about all of this is this: my wife feels most loved through quality time spent together. When we don’t have time together, her love tank starts to leak. And when I choose to spend time writing instead of spending time with her, I pretty much knock the tank over. And in the last few weeks, this has happened a few times. Why? Because I like writing, I take pride in knowing that other people are reading what I’ve written, and I haven’t missed a day of blogging since I started quite a while ago. Though, looking at those reasons in light of the fact that I wasn’t taking the best care of my wife that I could, I can only conclude that I was being selfish. Not that doing what I like doing is selfish, but that I was choosing my desires over my wife’s and without her consideration.

This all came to a head recently, and I hate when I have to admit to being selfish, but after talking it out, my wife and I have a new plan where my writing is concerned. In theory, in a few months, our baby will be sleeping a bit better. We’ll still have the daily grind to deal with, but that’s just part of life. I’m going to try to get a few blog posts in the hopper so if I need to miss a day of writing, I’ll still have something to post. And I’m going to be savagely protecting our weekends from the good things (like extended family time) that aren’t the best things (like quality wife time).

Things will improve. Our marriage is strong. I love my wife more than bears love outdoor defecation.

I am a writer, but I am a husband and father first.

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Are you a married person who has dealt with these issues? I’d love to hear your ideas for balancing life in the comments.

On the Publishing Process

I attended the Baker Publishing Group Sales Conference yesterday.

One of the perks for working for an indie bookstore that is owned by an indie publisher is that a few of us from the store get to sit in on these quarterly events. If you are scratching your head as to what a publishing sales conference is, let me start at the beginning.

An author writes a manuscript (okay, that isn’t the very beginning, but let’s start from there). The manuscript is submitted to an acquisitions editor at a publishing house. Sometimes manuscripts are submitted by authors, sometimes by agents, and sometimes they are requested from authors by publishers. Once the editor has the manuscript, he or she reads it. Of the many manuscripts that are read, only a few are selected to be presented at a pub-board meeting. Of the few presenting, fewer are approved by the pub-board. Those lucky few are given a good editing, cleaned up by the authors, and placed in the publishing queue. The art department starts designing the manuscript’s interior and cover. The marketing department starts getting to work on endorsements, reviews, ad placements, book tours, social media promotions, and print promotional materials. Once designed, the finished manuscript is sent off to the printer. The number printed is estimated by similar projects. All the bills are paid by the accounting office. Sales people sell the book into the retail channels (online retailers, big-box retailers, chain retailers, and indie retailers). The books are delivered to the publisher’s warehouse, where they are separated into the quantities ordered by the different retailers and shipped out by the publisher’s shipping department. The books find their homes in stores (etc.) where booksellers like me hope someone will pick them up off the shelf, read the back cover (written by a copywriter from the marketing department), and buy the book. The reader reads the book and lends it to his or her friends who all decide that they need a copy of their own. Books that don’t sell at retail are returned to the publisher and resold to select retailers (like the Bargain Books chains) to be sold as remainder copies for a fraction of the original price. Once all book sales are tabulated for a given time, royalty checks are cut to the authors. Sometimes this amounts to the equivalent of a low-paying job, rarely it amounts to much more (for every Harry Potter, there are ninety-nine books that don’t sell).

So, I kind of went off there about the entire publishing process (and even then, I’m sure that I missed quite a lot), but I wanted you to see all of the hands that touch a book before it even gets to the store bookshelf. The sales conference that I got to sit in on yesterday happens after the manuscript is sent off to the printer but before they are sold into the different retail channels. The conference exists to showcase the publisher’s offerings for that quarter to the salespeople so they can knowledgeably sell their products. The books that were presented yesterday won’t be showing up in stores until next summer and fall.

Why do I go to these sales conferences? I go because I work in marketing and church relations for the bookstore. By being there, I can make plans as to how to market them in my store and which books I will make sure to present to my church accounts. Plus, it is fascinating to see the publishing world from the inside. And it is encouraging. I have confidence, after seeing some of the things that are being published, that my writing stands a chance. I know that there are many rounds of elimination before publishers settle on which books to publish, but even then some stinkers sneak through. I just need to be better than those, right?

I love working for the bookstore, and I love being a step in the process to getting good books into people’s hands. I can’t wait until one of those books being presented in meetings like yesterday’s is mine.

100 Word Challenge | And winter will bring…

Will Holbrook was in love with his Latin teacher, Miss Hough. So even though he hated Latin, he signed up for both semesters, fall AND winter.

“Will!”

“…”

“Bring me your class schedule,” said Miss Hough. “Will?”

“Um,” said Will.

He was normally a good student, but in Latin, all he could study was his teacher. Her tousled hair, the way her glasses caught the light, her smile.

Handing over his schedule, Will sighed. Why must she be a teacher?

“Mmhmm,” she said. “Will, my sister just transferred in. You have a lot of the same classes. Would you show her around?”

Will smiled.

I am every father’s worst nightmare.

In high school, it was my dream to live in a van and drive around the country. I know, I know. Set your sights a little lower! Living in a van is too glamorous a dream, Josh!

But dream I did.

Now, when my brother graduated from high school, his graduation gift from my parents was a new (used, but nice) truck. That set the precedent.

I knew that if I played my cards right, I could wrangle a new car at graduation time too. Being a few years behind my brother in school gave me the time I needed to plan. If I wanted to make my dream a reality, it was going to take a little work.

I started by finding out how much my parents had spent on my brother’s new truck. I needed to get an idea of how much I had to play with in my dreams of making a van worth living in. I don’t remember if I weaseled the information out of my parents sneakily (probably not) or just bluntly asked (this is more likely), but I remember that I had about $6,000 to use.

I shared my dream with my dad, a huge car nut, and before long he found a guy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who was selling three old Dodge vans: a 1966 Dodge A100 passenger van (which ran), a 1966 Dodge A100 panel van (which had seen some use on a drag strip, but now didn’t even have an engine), and a 1968 Dodge A108 camper van (which had been lived in by hippies, but no longer ran, and was much beyond repair). All he was asking for all three vans was a paltry $2,000. Done deal. And I still had $4,000 to fix them up!

Now, the van that I really wanted to live in was obviously the panel van. The passenger van was good for replacing my first car (a 1991 Geo Prizm), and the hippie van was good for parts, but the panel van was the one where you could get a little privacy, which when acting as a bedroom, is important. The problem was that the previous owner had cut out part of the floor in order to make room for a larger engine (as he had been using it on the drag strip). So we cut out part of the floor from the hippie van and welded it into place on the panel van. Not a problem. But we still needed an engine.

I guess my dad knows the right people, because before long he came across gentleman in the Detroit area who was selling two full-size Dodge Ram vans that had been used to haul carpet. We really only needed an engine, but it was cheaper to buy both vans. So we did.

That was when I became every father’s worst nightmare.

Father’s don’t appreciate when a boy shows up to pick up their daughter for a date in a van. And now, here I was, a teenage boy with not one, but five of the blasted things.

Okay, so only one of them worked (most of the time), and I didn’t have any prospects as far as a date was concerned, but still.

As we progressed with the project of creating the ultimate van, the number of vans shrank by attrition. After we removed the bits that we wanted from the A108 and the engines from the carpet-haulers, we chopped up two of them and stuffed them into the third to take to the scrap yard. I think we got $300 for the metal. The engine from one of the carpet-haulers actually went into my brother’s Ramcharger, which the engine blew up as he was traveling home from college one year. The other engine, we dismantled completely and started to rebuild.

By the time we got my van ownership under control (my wife would still argue that two vans is still two too many), things got busy for my father, the project manager. My role in all of this was mostly as grunt labor and tool fetcher. I had no idea what I was actually doing when working on the van. So when things got busy for my dad, the van project sputtered out.

Pretty soon, the A100 passenger van which I had been driving as my main vehicle was showing signs of unreliability. One day, while driving to school, my van died in the middle of the busy intersection outside the school parking lot, block traffic from every direction for an embarrassingly long time. When I finally did make it to school I passed a classmate in the hall who must not have realized that it was my van.

“Don’t worry about being late, Mosey,” he told me. “Some idiot in a stupid van broke down in the intersection outside and half the school was late. Since there were so many kids late, the teachers aren’t marking anyone tardy.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Anyway, once that van started to die, I started to realize that maybe what I really wanted was some car that would get me from point A to point B without worrying about breaking down halfway there. And so I sold the passenger van and bought a Plymouth Reliant K car, the type of car that grandmothers drove in the 1980s. It wasn’t pretty, but it ran (mostly by a series of magic spells, I am sure) and it didn’t matter what I did to it because it was ugly (I’ll post another time about what all I did to this car).

And that left me with one van, the engine for which never actually made it inside, because by the time I had time to work on it, my dreams had changed. Though I still liked the idea of traveling the country and living out of a van to do it, I didn’t have the enthusiasm needed to actually finish putting the van back together.

In the end, I traded the unfinished van project to my dad in exchange for his old Chevy S10 (which he had souped up a bit, of course), getting pretty much what my brother got for his graduation present, only with a few unnecessary years of van drama in the middle.

I am proud to say that I am reformed. I haven’t owned a van since then.

Not that I haven’t tried to pitch it to my wife every now and again.

8 Questions | Meet Author Ben Avery

It was lunchtime, and since our bookstore is in a state of massive renovation, the book buyers were having a sales meeting in the break room where the rest of us eat lunch. I was attempting to ignore the ordering discussions by reading the second in the George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, when the sales rep, Larry, asked me a question.

“What are you reading?”

“It’s a George R. R. Martin book,” I said. “The one right after A Game of Thrones, which HBO just made into a series.”

“I know that series,” he said. “Did you know that my son Ben wrote the Marvel comic book adaptation for Martin’s Hedge Knight series?”

“Really? I didn’t think Martin was big on other writers touching his characters.”

“He’s not,” said Larry. “But he liked what my son did. In fact, he said that if Marvel ever wants to adapt any of his other things, my son is the only one he’ll trust to do the job.”

“Wow,” said I. “Do you think Ben would be willing to do an interview with me for my blog?”

“You should ask him.”

So I did.

Capt. Ben Avery, of the Starship Awesome.

The interview:

1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always been writing and telling stories, since I was old enough to string sentences together. And I was always making comics, although I got impatient with how much time it took to draw them. Professionally, after I graduated college, I just started writing comics with some friends and made some contacts with artists, and that led to me getting to do a try out for a writing gig, which turned into my first professional writing: George R. R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight.

2. You did the comic book adaptation for George R. R. Martin’s Hedge Knight series. Martin is well-known for not wanting anyone else touching his works or characters. How did you come to work on his books through Marvel Comics?

Well, it wasn’t originally published by Marvel. Originally, a studio got the license from Mr. Martin, and they shopped it around to publishers, with Image taking it up at first. Then, after some weirdness with Image, it was moved to Devil’s Due, and after some weirdness THERE, Marvel picked it up.

Now, how did that original studio get the license? They promised to be true to his original story. And that’s how I got the job, too. I worked hard to make my sample script as close to his story as possible. In fact, the first six pages of The Hedge Knight is almost exactly what my sample script was. Mr. Martin appreciated how hard I worked to stay true to the original. The way I see it, on a job like that, my job is to be invisible. My job is to give something to the artist that allows them to shine, and to spotlight the original. After all, it’s George R.R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight, not Ben Avery’s.

3. How does your writing change when adapting someone else’s work as opposed to working on an original series?

If I am working on something not original with me, either a true life story, history, someone’s fictional story, or the Bible, my goal is to keep the integrity of their story within a new medium. That does mean some changes have to be made, but I will do my best to make sure changes in the format or length do not change the heart of the story.

So my job is to choose what comes out to shorten it. Or what needs to be added because comics are a visual medium. Transitions in one medium have to be done differently.

It’s not always easy, but it’s fun.

4. What do you want people to know about you aside from your writing?

This is a tough question. I mean, it’s not like I’m a private person. I just can’t think of something I particularly want people to know. I guess I could use this to say I also podcast . . . I host a podcast about sci-fi, fantasy, and Christianity. The podcast is called Strangers and Aliens and it’s a lot of fun talking about the spiritual themes found in the tv shows, comics, and movies we enjoy.

5. Any advice for other writers?

Get a good editor. Find a person or people who you trust to be honest with you and also know grammar and story. Set them loose on what you’ve written.

This person should not be your mother, unless she’s able to separate you the child room you the writer. This person should not be your spouse, or your best friend, or your grandmother unless they are able to really look at the work and forget your relationship.

This is especially important if you are self-publishing or going through some sort of digital publishing service with no editorial oversight. The digital age makes it possible for everyone to do anything, it seems, but unfortunately, that means that far too many people feel like they are masters of everything, too. But I would say that even a master editor, when they take on the role of writer, needs someone who can edit their writing.

6. If you could have an afternoon with a character from one of your works, who would you choose? Why?

The Timeflyz, from my all ages graphic novel series. First, I like them. I’d enjoy hanging out with them — of all my characters, these are the characters who surprise me the mist with their actions and reactions to my plots. Second, I’d love for them to tell me about some of the people they have met in their travels through time. And maybe I could convince them to take me along with them for a short trip . . .

7. What is your writing space like?

It’s a mess. A serious, serious mess. Sadly. Eventually, we’re going to get the money to move my office downstairs and shuffle around all our bedrooms. When we do that, I give the new office three weeks before it’s a mess. A serious, serious mess.

I do, however, often leave the house to work in places like our local grocery store’s cafe and Starbucks or something like that. I often need the change of scenery, but also I need to have people around me . . . Just not people I am responsible for.

8. What book is on your nightstand at the moment?

I’m reading The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead right now. There are other books on my nightstand, but this is the one I am actually reading. I’ve been a big fan of Lawhead since his earliest writings, when he was doing sci-fi instead of fantasy, and followed him through his fantasy books, but in the last decade or so I haven’t read any of his new books. I’m playing catch up now. Also right there is Eion Colfer’s And Another Thing, the sixth book in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to read it. It’s just not the same, a non-Douglas Adams chronicle of Arthur Dent and Zaphod and Marvin.

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If you’d like to know more about Ben Avery, check out his website (http://benavery.com). Thanks for reading!