Interview with Long time TWoM Fan Paul H.

Personal Journal – Local Time: AC 6051.10.15

After numerous abductions, probings and interviews (not always in that order), I am happy to say that this will be my final report. Since I am anxious to be done with this tedious and boring task, I have decided to select a human at random. OK, it wasn't completely random. I broke into the membership database of TWoM and abducted a random reader from their list. I'm lazy, so sue me.

The possibility of human inclusion in our universal alliance, at this stage in their development, is dubious at best. Nevertheless, this proved to be one of the more interesting specimens I've interviewed in a long time. The probing went as well as can be expected, though he put up more of a fight than I anticipated. I need to recalibrate the sedative dispenser before moving on to the next sector of the galaxy. On the other hand, the non-sentient slugs in the previous sector were noteworthy – if only for their nutritional value.

The individual to be interviewed today is Paul H., a TWoM member who wishes to remain anonymous, since he is not a writer, poet or artist. Personally, I think the man is paranoid about receiving further probes. Some people simply don't understand the scientific method.

It should be noted that Paul H. was completely unaware of my true form during the questioning process; most humans are squeamish around creatures gifted with more appendages than their own. When I return him, he will awake and believe – at least initially – that the entire thing was a dream. I provide the interview here for future analysis, and to include with my report to my superiors.

Juxnezlyth: Paul H., when I chitter backwards to one, you will awake with the belief that I am a close friend. You will cooperate with this interview by answering all my questions in an open and honest fashion. Let us begin… three, two, one.

Good Morning, Paul. I trust you have recovered adequately from the probes. Why don't you begin by telling me a little about yourself?

Paul H.: I've been married for almost 40 years, have two children and four grandchildren. I have lots of hobbies, with reading chief among them. I've spent a fortune on books and have numerous shelves filled with them – mostly science fiction, fantasy and horror on the fiction side, with religious books on the non-fiction side. I never get the two mixed up.

I've been a mechanic most of my life – more years than I care to think about actually. I've done maintenance on just about everything you can imagine. Why, I could even take a look at that sedative dispenser if you'd like. In fact, your quantum singularity drive sounds like it's out of alignment too. I'll bet your FTL speeds are lagging and…

Juxnezlyth: What? How did you know… Never mind that. Tell me how you learned about The World of Myth.

Paul H.: It was back around issue #15 or so. I was laid off work for a few months at the time and was looking for ways to cut back on spending. One of the things I did was to cancel all my magazine subscriptions. When I Googled the internet for free alternatives, it returned a long list and I started reading some. I hadn't ever heard of The World of Myth before, but then I hadn't heard of any of the others either. The whole idea of e-zines was pretty new to me at that time. Over time, I kinda got spoiled by the whole "free" idea and never went back to regular magazines when I returned to work. Been with them ever since.

Juxnezlyth: So would you say that TWoM is the best magazine you've ever read?

Paul H.: Good heavens, no! The best magazines are the ones that require money to read. You won't see Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine or Fangoria being given away for free!

Juxnezlyth: I see that clarification is in order. Would you say that TWoM is the best free magazine you've ever read?

Paul H.: Well… Let me just say that it's a fair magazine for what it is. They keep the ads to a minimum and they're pretty good at publishing new authors that are trying to get started. As I understand it, everything is done by volunteers; no one gets paid – not the writers or the staff. Why anyone would do all that for free is beyond me. Oh, sure, they're all lunatics, but it's comforting to know that there are people in this world who are crazier than me.

Juxnezlyth: Do you read TWoM's forum comments?

Paul H.: I went to them once in the beginning, but the ads were too obnoxious, so I just never bothered again for years. I've read some comments since the ads were removed, but there are a few anonymous cowards in there that don't have the balls to print their name when they criticize folks who are writing for free. If you have a beef with a fella, at least be a man about it.

Juxnezlyth: So I'm guessing that you don't write comments on the forum.

Paul H.: Oh, I have opinions; who doesn't? I don't have to be a musician to know what kind of music I like, and I don't have to be an author to know what kind of writing I like. But it's my belief that if you don't have nothing nice to say, you shouldn't say nothing at all. Be that as it may, I can't rightly criticize a person for bad writing when I can't do no better.

I remember reading a forum comment written by one of the columnists – A Grue I think it was. He talked about "constructive criticism" during a forum exchange with a couple of trolls. Maybe they didn't like what he said or how he said it but that don't make his statements any less true. To only say that something sucks, or that you don't like it, ain't helpful at all. You have to say why it sucks or what you didn't like about it. While you're at it, why not give suggestions for improvement and tell what you did like about it? If enough fellow writers do this, an author is more likely to listen.

Imagine my reaction if my boss said that he didn't like the way I repaired a carburetor or a fuel injector. If all he said was, "Paul, I just don't like it," without saying why or what could be improved, how am I supposed to become a better mechanic? It seems like common sense. Anyway, I'm no word slinger, so I just sit back and enjoy the free magazines on the internet, like TWoM.

Juxnezlyth: Do you have a favorite author at TWoM?

Paul H.: I have several authors that I always read. If pressed, I'd have to say that Terry Scheerer is my overall favorite. I don't know how that guy cranks out so many stories, like the Queen of the Westerlands series, on such a consistent basis. I enjoyed David Montoya's The End series too; sex and zombies – that guy is just plain warped. A couple of Steve Bolin's tales stand out as well, like Catatonia and Circle of Revenge.

Juxnezlyth: What's your favorite thing about TWoM?

Paul H.: The fact that it's free. LOL!

Juxnezlyth: OK… Again, I see that clarification is needed. What's your favorite section of TWoM?

Paul H.: I like the columns. Don't get me wrong, the stories can be fun to read, but it's a mixed bag. You gotta take the good with the bad, ya know? With the columns, I always know what I'm gonna get. Take Reaper Rick's Movie Reviews for instance. I don't always agree with his assessment of movies, but he's good at explaining why he likes a particular flick. And if he doesn't like it, he's straight up about that too. I've watched more than a few new movies (to me) because of his recommendation. He's right more often than not.

The most original column has got to be A Grue's Video Game Retrospective. I mean, what kind of insanity drives a person to create a video column when a simple written column does the job just as well? They may not be professional quality, but the guy has passion, obviously enjoys what he's doing and he always makes me laugh. I remember playing some of those games with my grandson when he was growing up, which makes them fun to revisit.

Juxnezlyth: What is your least favorite thing about TWoM?

Paul H.: I don't like the new polls they have. I like to see how my vote affects the overall score of a particular story, poem or piece of art. Winners are supposed to be determined by reader votes. How do I know everything is on the up and up if I can't see the results for myself? The way its set up now, they might as well have the owner and editor select their favorites.

Juxnezlyth: Since you've been reading TWoM for so long, I imagine you have some special insights on its history. What are some of the most memorable?

Paul H.: Let's see, in the beginning there was the endless "white type on black background" issues – with sans-serif font to boot. It wasn't the world's best design, what with all that extra space on the sides and all, but it was free, so who was I to complain?

I think it was in '08 when they did some experimenting with PDF issues that required payment. If a fella wanted the most current PDF issue, they paid a couple bucks and could read it right away. If they were patient, like me, they'd wait for a couple of months until the old issue came out for free while the newest one went on sale. I thought it was a pretty innovative idea. We have a movie theater here in town that does something similar by playing shows that are a few months out of date, but not out on DVD yet. Half Price Books is structured in a similar fashion. I'm all for better quality movies and books, especially when someone else is paying for it first!

Then there was the big fiasco back in '09 when DMP announced that they were closing TWoM to start a different mag called 2M. I don't think the closing had anything to do with the PDF's, but the new mag sounded like a Cosmo rip off to me. The weird thing is, they kept publishing off and on after they announced their closing – like that was normal or something. I had no idea what was going on and I lost interest for nearly a year.

Next thing I know, TWoM has a new owner and is back in circulation. People are hired; people are fired… But wait! The magazine reverts back to the original owner for financial reasons. If it hadn't been for the staff, the mag wouldn't've had any stability at all! Thankfully, I have more than one free source for my reading fix – like SNM Horror, Liquid Imagination and others.

A few months ago, someone got the bright idea of putting up some kinda YouTube video in order to view the site. I understand that it was done to promote the 50th issue, but not being able to skip past it was unforgivable. Seeing it the first time was kinda cool, but when I realized that I had to watch the whole thing every single time I wanted to enter the site, I didn't bother to read any more. Who wants hassled like that? I don't care if it's free or not! It was two months before I tried again. Like I said, there are plenty of free magazines out there, so it wasn't no big loss. If I run low on my fix of free magazines, has a long list of them.

Juxnezlyth: You appear to be more knowledgeable than the average reader. How is it that you know so much about our magazine? Do you have an inside source?

Paul H.: Yeah, it's called It's a good place to read about all the skeletons hidden in the closets of Dark Myth Productions, the owners of TWoM. It may sound weird, but I kinda like how open they are about their company. If they get caught with their pants down, they make the best of it and buy a new pair of suspenders. Their short blurbs are quick reads so it doesn't take long to get caught up.

Juxnezlyth: Alright, let's talk about something completely random. How does it feel to have a movie named after you?

Paul H.: You must be talking about the movie, Paul, right? The one with the alien?

Juxnezlyth: Yes. I'm not sure where they got the name "Paul" at. "Juxnezlyth" has a much nicer ring to it, I think. Besides, the "Paul" character fell quite short in the appendage department - simply not enough of them.

Paul H.: I didn't care for the movie myself. One of the characters they introduced was a half-blind, Bible-thumping Christian who happened to believe in creationism as opposed to evolution. She was portrayed as an idiot who answered scientific questions with irrelevant quotes of scripture. Toward the end of the movie, she was swearing like a sailor and had converted to the atheistic religion of evolution. I guess it was an easy task for the CGI alien; his every word was taken as unquestionable gospel.

Juxnezlyth: Judging by your answer, I gather you are a man of faith.

Paul H.: Yes. And it really bothers me how poorly the media likes to portray Christians in particular. In movies like Paul, The Mist, Inherit the Wind and others, they're little more than one dimensional, cliché characters who are unable to think rationally. You'd never see mainstream media attack Muslims, Buddhists or Hinduism so blatantly. It's disgusting, disgraceful and… Well, don't get me started.

Juxnezlyth: Trust me, I won't. However, there must be stories, art and poems on TWoM that challenge your faith. How do you react to them?

Paul H.: My reaction varies on how offensive they are to me. Unless it's just plain crappy writing, I try to read everything on TWoM, regardless of whether I believe it or not. After all, what kind of faith do I have if it's too weak to be challenged? If I believe a particular thing or hold a certain view, I oughta be able to say why. More than that, I should be able to defend it. To me, blind faith is no faith at all.

I like to think of myself as open-minded, that is to say I'll listen to almost anything and give new ideas a fair evaluation. Be that as it may, I have to admit that's it's difficult to change my mind once it's made up. Not impossible, mind you, just hard. To do that, you better come at me with hard facts.

Juxnezlyth: Well, Paul, the hard fact is that I'm running out of time. I hope your abduction, probing and interview have been a pleasant experience. Do you have any last words for our readers before I return you to earth?

Paul H.: Oh, I have lots to say – like how a person ain't really lived until they've rebuilt a 1969 Camaro. Oh, I'd talk all day if you'd let me. My wife says I oughta write a book, but we've already discussed my shortcomings there. Anyway, I think she just says that to get me out of her hair. Surely there are more questions, aren't there?

Juxnezlyth: I could create more questions, but I cannot create more time – not without manufacturing some troublesome time paradoxes anyway. Besides, I think I have all the information I need on your race.

This has been a most interesting interview. My report should keep the boys in the analytical department busy for quite some time. The results of this report should make it clear whether humans should be included in our universal alliance.

I will hold this mask to your face, so breathe deep of my sedative and begin to relax. I will again chitter backwards. When I get to one, you will fall asleep. When you awake, all that has transpired – including the probing – will seem as nothing more than a dream. Three, two, one… sleep.

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