Welcome to the official website of freelance writer Mark Hill, created because I’m not popular enough to have an unofficial fan page. You can find links to my work and my contact information above, or read my personal work below. Enjoy!
Recently there has been much debate over the economic impact of climate change initiatives like the Green New Deal. Opponents say that fighting climate change will destroy jobs in coal and other timeless American industries, while supporters say that failing to address climate change will doom humanity to a slow and agonising death amidst the ruins of our own hubris. Both sides raise good points! But there’s a clear middle-ground—why not embrace the hundreds of thousands of exciting new jobs that climate change will create, like mercenary and oar rower?
Pessimists think that unchecked climate change will be “apocalyptic.” But the ingenious American spirit never fails to adapt to new circumstances and develop profitable new industries, and when our great nation’s costal cities are swallowed by the waves there will be no shortage of tremendous opportunities to explore. For starters, you should brush up on your swimming stroke, because people forced to flee the encroaching wrath of nature will no doubt pay top dollar to whoever’s willing to dive down to the fabled ruins of Los Angeles and recover their sunken valuables. Good money, good exercise, and no degree needed? That’s the dream career America needs.
Do you have tourism experience? You’d better believe that, once the storms settle down to a dull background rage, demand for tours of the magnificent half-sunken skyscrapers of New York City will be endless. Study up on your geography now, so that from Day One of Year Zero you can make a great living pointing out precisely where all the short-sighted financial decisions were made!
Or maybe transportation is your field. With all current methods of transport annihilated or rendered obsolete by strict energy rationing, there will be surging demand for trireme creators, maintainers, and operators to travel the higher seas. Anyone will be able to start from below decks and work their way up until they’re important job creators in charge of entire fleets. How often do you see that kind of honest opportunity to climb the ranks anymore?
Meanwhile, those of you prone to seasickness can take to the skies as an aeronaut! Whether it’s a hot air balloon or a crude blimp, someone will have to make the Las Vegas to Nashville run in a brisk week and a half, and customers on both new coasts will demand luxury service and superb super-tornado avoidance skills. And, of course, there’s always good old-fashioned equine husbandry. Who wouldn’t want to spend all day working with adorable animals who are mercifully incapable of grasping the horrors that have befallen civilisation?
Climate change will lead to incredible innovation in every single job market. Finance? Someone will need to figure out what still has value. Law enforcement? The Food Riots aren’t going to suppress themselves! Medicine? Think of the thrilling challenges that a shortage of basic supplies will create! And let’s not forget entertainment. Say hello to Hollywood, Ohio, where you’re the star.
If we fight climate change with job killing nonsense like a carbon tax, then we’ll also kill all of the exciting job opportunities that we and our surviving children should be looking forward to. Remember, a strong country is nothing without a strong economy. If climate change is as bad as we’re told, so much damage will be done that the demand for healthy workers will wildly exceed supply. That means strong wages and good benefits for all Americans, and that’s a future we can all embrace.
Much has been made about America’s growing wealth gap, and about how the lives of countless people could be improved by even modest concessions from ultra-wealthy tycoons with more money than a single human being could ever need. While these arguments elicit strong emotions, they have failed to sway me, a 47-year-old man with crushing debt who is slowly destroying my body while being squeezed out of the middle class by a low-paying, dehumanising job where I could be replaced at a moment’s whim, because I am firmly convinced that I’m one big break away from becoming a billionaire. And, when I inevitably get that break, I don’t want whiners trying to enact changes that would force me to only have two private art galleries in my home when I could have three.
Have all of you ingrates considered the fact that people like Jeff Bezos earned their money, just like I definitely eventually will? Why should he waste the wealth that he worked for installing air conditioners in his warehouses, when he could enjoy the fruits of his labour by letting workers overheat and collapse? Instead of complaining, those workers should be developing plans to start their own businesses, just like I do when I’m not working double shifts to scrape together just enough money for my bills, raising my children, managing my fantasy football and baseball teams, taking Netflix breaks with my two roommates, and leaving hundreds of comments on news articles explaining how small-minded people like you don’t sufficiently appreciate the one percent’s contributions to society. It’s called good old-fashioned hard work, which I have already been doing for decades while making almost nothing of my life, but am positive I will do in the future in some unspecified way that will make me much, much more money. I also buy a lot of lottery tickets.
What’s great about America is that literally everyone can potentially get so rich that they can rise above the petty problems like “having no retirement savings” and “being destroyed by an unexpected medical bill” that plague lazy people. All they need is an ingenious idea and the drive to do something with it. Take me, for example. I plan to start a business that does something with blockchain, once I research what that is by somehow tripling my free time while also making no adjustments to my lifestyle. If everyone put the energy they spend complaining into working on great ideas like mine, we could all get lucky, beat the incredibly long and ever worsening odds, and become so absurdly wealthy that we become out of touch with our fellow human beings. While many of my simple-minded colleagues are ungrateful about practically being gifted wages that almost let them pay rent, I understand that the American Dream is all about scraping by in the hopes of one day being able to view everyone but yourself as disposable sacks of meat to be ground up in the cogs of your empire. I plan to own eight mansions, because I know I will have time to enjoy all of them.
Unlike my peers, I understand how the free market works, which is why I dislike unions, minimum wage increases, and other worker-friendly policies. Why should I support laws that would help me in the present when they would hurt me in the future that I am 100% confident I will have despite the clear track record that is my entire adult life? It’s all about having a positive attitude, which so many uninspired Americans lack. I may have worked nothing but jobs that my doctor tells me are prematurely killing me, but eventually I won’t even though nothing about my circumstances, opportunities and personality has ever changed or will change. When my belief in myself and the system causes changes to magically happen anyway, and I’m relaxing in one of my twelve hard-earned pools, I hope you’ll remember the life lessons I tried to impart on you.
Dear Children and Parents:
Today, I’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue making toys at Santa’s Workshop. Reaching this decision wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t one I made lightly, but ultimately the elves’ decision to unionise has fundamentally compromised the esprit de corps that makes it possible to run an empire that’s given me the kind of wealth that kings and queens from centuries past would have considered incomprehensible while also providing an important service to the world.
I started giving gifts to the needy in fourth century Byzantium at a time when few people believed in gift-giving. But I, and I alone with no help whatsoever, believed that an opportunity existed to build a successful workshop that would report unbiased lists of what children were naughty and what children were nice. These were stories that weren’t getting told, and because I believe people care deeply about whether children deserve happiness, I thought we could build a large and loyal audience that advertisers such as Mattel and Lego would want to reach.
A lot of what I believed would happen did, but not all of it. Today, Santa’s Workshop delivers toy to over one billion children every Christmas; we have over three billion fans across our social channels; and each month, we inspire countless people across the face of the Earth with a message of peace and goodwill towards men. But more importantly than the large numbers of letters and fans, we’ve delivered billions of toys that have informed, impacted, and inspired tens of billions of people. And in the process, I believe that I have personally left the world a better place while only doing one serious day of work a year.
But Santa’s Workshop is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure. And while we made important progress toward building Santa’s Workshop into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn’t been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of toys on which the company was founded. I want to thank the children of Earth for their support and loyalty through the centuries. And I want to thank my elves for their tireless effort and dedication, except for when they demonstrated their so-called rights as workers last week, at which point it became impossible for me, an immortal magician God-king with neigh-endless wealth, to continue treating them as slave labour.
I’m hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional toy delivery, for I believe that bringing joy to children remains essential. However, I will be destroying all toys that were made for Christmas 2017 out of spite, and I will grind every last brick of the Workshop into a fine dust so that the elves will never be able to prove that they worked here. I am taking my toys and going home, where I will seek comfort in my lucrative business arrangement with Coca-Cola while my elves slowly freeze to death in the continually shrinking North Pole.
Chief Executive Officer
When I read all the non-boring parts of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four while blasting Papa Roach and chatting on ICQ, my life changed. Thought control, endless government surveillance, and the fact that we could read books with sex in them at school all had an incredible impact on my young mind. Years later, I look around America and worry that the country I love is turning into the fictional country that I’m confident I remember pretty well, on the whole.
For example, you may have seen my recent Facebook post where I attached the words “The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening” to a picture of teenagers looking at their phones. Those words, for those of you less well-read than I, are from Nineteen Eighty-Four. And the screens in the book serve the exact same purpose and offer the exact same content that phones do today, I think. The point is that George Orwell thought teenagers were dumb. Has it occurred to you that you just learned all of this from a screen? Think about that.
Even though I use social media, I make sure to constantly question it because, in many ways, social media is just like Big Brother, which is the name of either the leader or the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big Brother is always trying to control what the people read. And isn’t social media always trying to control what you read? Not to mention that online slang like “LOL” and “bae” are reminiscent of Newspeak which, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, are the words the “news” speaks. It’s a simplified language with words like “groupthink,” which Big Brother either encourages or discourages. So maybe we should all read less Facebook and more book books, which Big Brother ordered burned. Or maybe banned. It was something bad.
That’s because books, as Nineteen Eighty-Four taught me, contain knowledge. One might even say that modern attempts to ban books are positively Orwellian. Oh, pardon me. Orwellian, as I often explain to the women I date, is derived from George Orwell’s name. After reading Nineteen Eighty-Four, you may look at a government espionage program or a video game company banning people from expressing their political beliefs in their games and describe it as Orwellian. Did you know that, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, free speech is illegal? Think about that the next time you object to someone expressing their thoughts about the inferiority of a race or gender in America. That’s just what the Thought Police did. In my education opinion, modern Americans have become their own Thought Police. That is bad.
Near the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the villainous Chief O’Brien says “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” That boot belongs to the government, which is why I’m a libertarian. Did you know that George Orwell hated socialism? That’s why the political system in Nineteen Eighty-Four is called Dingsoc, which is short for something I’ve forgotten and then socialism. This opinion is expressed more clearly in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which I’ve also read. I’ve got some thoughts on it, if you’d like to hear them.
“I enable social media Jedi synergy.”
“Uber driver thinks he’ll make it.”
“Dad’s YouTube stand-up got 12 views.”
“My teenage son is retweeting Neo-Nazis.”
“12-year-old Instagrammers are richer than me.”
“For sale: podcast equipment, never used.”
Socratic Dialogue Seahorse
Just Pictures Of Hugh Jackman With No Text Added Because We Shouldn’t Put Words In Hugh Jackman’s Mouth
A Picture Of A House That Offers Sound Real Estate Investment Advice That I Never Thought Of A Clever Name For
Respectful of Life Choices Larry
The “Most Political Issues Are Actually Incredibly Complex So Let’s Not Distill Them Into A Couple Snarky Sentences And In Doing So Destroy The Nuance That Surrounds Them” Baby
Willy Wonka Says Something In Earnest Seriousness But It Accidentally Comes Across As Sarcastic And He Feels Bad About It
A Dog That Can’t Say Anything Because It’s Just A Dog
I’m starting a podcast about either comedy, pop culture, the most divisive social issues of our time, or how to make cooking fun. I haven’t decided yet, but since I have a lot of insight into all those topics I might not even have to. And since you “Liked” Bernie Sanders on Facebook, make a mean quesadilla and told me that Spy was “pretty funny, I guess,” I thought you’d be a great debut guest if Melissa McCarthy, Nate Silver and one of the line cooks at my local Olive Garden all don’t get back to me in time. Don’t take being the benchwarmer personally, that cook just had some really great insights on making spaghetti sauce and how to solve racism in America.
Speaking of liking things on Facebook, can you like my podcast on Facebook? It’s called What’s Cooking in America, because that could be literal or figurative depending on the subject matter we go with. If I decide on comedy I’ll change it to What’s Cooking in America?! to keep the brand recognition but demonstrate that we’re not afraid to get wacky. You’ll note that our logo reflects our unique blend of seriousness and levity by portraying caricatures of me and Steve in suits but also cartoon chef hats. It took 22 dollars and three Craigslist postings to find an artist who could draw us with the quality I demand as a creator, but I think you’ll agree that it was worth it.
Oh, Steve? He’s my roommate, and he’s hilarious. But, like, smart too, you know? His jokes really make you think. And he does the perfect Donald Trump impression. Just wait until you hear him talk about why affirmative action is dumb, but like all sarcastically, or the perfect way to get al dente noodles but in Trump’s voice. And while I wish I could take full credit for the aurally stimulating train that’s getting ready to embark from iTunes, Soundcloud and whatscookinginamerica_podcast.weebly.com, a lot of the praise should go to him. He’s the one who suggested that we try to emulate Comedy Bang Bang, Serial or the FiveThirtyEight podcast, all of which I’ve heard are amazing.
Speaking of amazing, our first run of t-shirts arrived yesterday and I’ll tell you what they’re not: they’re not not amazing. They have our name and logo on the front, and then on the back it says “Listen Up!” And we’re finalising the design of our coffee mugs, which say “Drink Up!” That was Steve’s idea. See? He’s hilarious.
Those mugs should arrive in the mail any day now, along with my new microphone and my copy of Expert Podcasting Practices For Dummies. It was a few bucks more than Podcasting For Dummies, but I’m not screwing around here. What’s Cooking In America already has 11 Likes and six Twitter followers, and because those 17 people are friends and family members I know they expect quality. And Steve and I are going to give them that quality as soon as we decide on what editing software we want to use, the episode naming structure we’re going with, what kind of advertisers we want to bring on-board and how often we want to publish an episode. We’re thinking weekly, but with the odd mid-week bonus episode when something especially insightful comes to mind. I’m sure you know how great ideas can just strike sometimes.
Anyway, let me know your schedule. I’m available whenever, but the Friday nights I’m not drunk and the Saturday afternoons I’m not high work best. Just text me and you’ll know. We’ll have to work around Steve’s work schedule too, I never know it in advance because it’s all shift work and he’s pretty bad at updating our production calendar, but I guess that’s creative types for you. We’ll figure something out. Just come prepared with a few thoughts on Louis C.K., the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whether there’s such a thing as a reasonable restriction on free speech and appetizers, and we can pretty much just wing it from there. Sound good? Oh, ha, wing it. Get it, like chicken wings? See, this is going to be easy.
Oh, and while I have you, I’d also like to discuss bringing you onboard my new YouTube series. It’s just this fun little side-project I’m doing without Steve because, as much as I love the guy, I still need to maintain my creative independence. I’m either going to play popular video games while adding my insightful and hilarious commentary, or I’m going to react to other people playing popular video games. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ve got some pretty sick Minecraft jokes lined up.
I know your type, asshole. You think yoghurt’s for menopausal women who wear nothing but sweaters, college girls who wear nothing but yoga pants, and guys who wear nothing but other guy’s cocks in their mouths. Well guess the fuck what? This yoghurt would literally murder all of those people, bench press their bodies a few times just to prove that they could do it, and then feed their bodies to pigs if they so much as looked at this yoghurt the wrong way. So help them, God, this yoghurt’s fucking crazy!
You know those commercials where the menopausal women gather in completely white houses to talk about how their yoghurt’s helping them shit better? The people who eat this yoghurt gather in abandoned warehouses to compete over who gets the biggest erection from beating homeless people to death. This yoghurt makes you shit better and then it makes other people shit better, because when they look at you they will shit themselves.
This yoghurt comes in an all-black container, but we call it “midnight” because that’s when the yoghurt coven convenes. The container’s made of old artillery shells and the lid doubles as a throwing star. You can’t open it without cutting yourself, and that’s by design. The blood adds flavour. The pain adds commitment. The scar adds flesh memory. When you see someone with the same scar as you, you’ll give each other nods so manly nearby wildlife will die. And then you will initiate battle, because there can be only one.
You want some peach yogurt? How about key lime? Well, fuck you straight back to your mother’s squandered womb. Our flavors are Gunpowder, Patriarchy, Tool Belt and Abortion. If you don’t already know what those taste like, we don’t want your commie bread line money.
Our yoghurt’s more nutritious than ripping an elk’s beating heart out of its chest and devouring it in full view of the eyes of a creature that’s suddenly gained sentience but can’t do anything with its newfound knowledge except regret it. It gives you vitamins, minerals, protein, probiotics and the power of lesser men. If you eat our yoghurt in front of a doctor he’ll quit his job safe in the knowledge that his services are no longer required. If you feed our yoghurt to a corpse it will come back to an unholy non-life, the only purpose of which is to do your bidding. Nine out of 10 nutritionists recommend our yoghurt, and they also say it goes great with the unworthy body of the tenth.
We’d tell you the name of our yoghurt, but we can’t communicate an hour of Mongolian throat singing through text. We’d tell you how much it costs, but only it chooses the payment it will take from you. We’d tell you where to buy it, but first we need to tell you where to buy the spelunking equipment and arcane weaponry. We’d tell you it’s going to change your life, but it already has.
If you’re pregnant, a minor, have a heart condition or are a pussy then you won’t even be able to lift the Lead Spoon of the Night Razors. If you’re capable, then you already know. Every muscle in your body is straining to tell you. Every neuron in your brain is listening to our yoghurt demand your presence. You will consume it and inspire poets to kill themselves because not even a lifetime of work would allow them to capture your magnificence. You will gaze upon people who eat other brands of yoghurt the way a lion gazes upon a gazelle. You will taste infinity and skull fuck the stars. This is manly yoghurt, motherfuckers, and it will bring ruin to the very concept of civilisation if it does not get its goddamn way.
Aspiring writers looking for tips online often come across contradictory and confusing advice. I hope to cut through this morass of information by offering simple, common sense ideas that no one will ever contradict, declare useless or consider pretentious. I hope these help, and remember—always keep writing!
Write precisely 1,287 words every day between 7:23 am and 9:41 am.
Never use adverbs. Use adjectives sparingly. Nouns should only appear once every 4.8 sentences. Semi-colons are mythical.
A character should only say, ask or expunge dialogue.
No character should be named Steven. If you’re writing a work of non-fiction about a real person named Steven, change their name to Bartholomew.
Keep your computer on but your monitor off.
It’s key to have a keyboard. It’s only nice to have mice.
Eat spiders to gain their cunning.
Don’t do anything Jonathan Franzen says, even if he’s telling you to take cover. That little fuck isn’t the boss of you.
If you’re having trouble finding motivation, get cancer.
Always listen to whale sounds, unless you’re writing about whales. Then listen to jazz.
Maybe write a mystery? Those seem to be selling alright lately.
Remember to tell yourself that writing is a window into your soul as you spend 15 minutes deciding whether or not to italicise a word that will inevitably be cut later.
Never eat tapioca.
I stayed up all night wondering where the sun went. I also wondered what happened to the man who would stay up all night just because he could, because he wasn’t weighed down by responsibilities and obligations and because dammit, he was alive. Then it dawned on me. I’m growing old, and there’s no getting around that fact. But maybe I’ll chase the dawn tonight, put aside my duties just for a little while and remind myself that, even if you strip away my career and family, I’m still a man. Will this reminder give me the vigor I need to accept the early nights to come, or will it make me loathe them even more? There’s only one way to find out. Guess I better make some coffee.
What’s the difference between a piano and a tuna? Not much to me. I certainly can’t play the piano or catch a fish anymore either, not with these arthritic hands. When I was your age I could spend a weekend in the wilderness and come back with enough food to feed the family for a week. Now there are days where I struggle to make toast. Will you come make meals for me, when it gets worse? Or will you abandon me to the ravages of time, unable to confront your inevitable fate and the fate of a father you once thought stronger than 10 men? As you ponder that, just remember that no matter how old you get, you can tune a piano… but you can’t tuna fish.
Do you file your nails? Really? I just throw mine away, into the trash with everything else I’ve thrown away in life. My ambition, my health, my passion for the little things. Not all at once, mind you. An old friend’s phone number because I’m convinced he wouldn’t want to get in touch after all this time here, a novel outline I’ve stared at for years before convincing myself that it will never be as good as I see it in my head there. The fingernail clippings of life, piling up one by one. Unnoticeable at first, little white flecks against the white plastic bag I use to line the trash can. But they pile up, one by one, until there comes a day when they’re overflowing. Nail clippings can be vacuumed up, and the bag taken out to the garbage. But there’s no vacuum for regrets, and no garbage either. Not unless you count the grave.
I got a haircut. I got a shave too, and as the razor passed my throat I thought about lunging forward and sparing myself the parade of indignities that comes with old age. Better to go out a man than a senile old coot yammering misremembered stories to a pitying audience like my father. But by the time the thought came to me the blade was already gone, and maybe that’s for the best. Now’s not the time. I still have too much to accomplish. There’s still too much… I got all my other hairs cut, too. Getting one cut would just be silly.
I told my wife she drew her eyebrows too high. She cried, and through her tears she said “The first thing you’ve said about my appearance in months, and it’s an insult?” I sat down next to her on the faded couch we bought when we first moved into this house all those years ago and hovered my hand over her shoulder, uncertain if she would pull away if I tried to draw her in. I wondered if I should tell her that I still find her beautiful, and that I wish I could tell her that every day, but that ever since I discovered the affair the words turn to ash in my throat. I want to kiss you, Maryanne, but how can I when every time your lips draw near I imagine Albert’s rough mouth on them? How can I, when those same lips moved to tell me that you haven’t spoken to your old friend Albert in over a year when I asked how he’s doing? I know it’s as much my fault as yours. The long nights, the emotional distance, the little things around the house… but dammit, Maryanne, if you had only said something I would have changed. That’s what really hurts, that you didn’t even ask. If I had tried and failed, I could live with your infidelity. But to not even be given the chance to try… The words pour out of me before I can stop myself, more intimacy between us in this moment than there’s been in God knows how long. She looked surprised. And I surprised myself.