Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: "Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door" -Emily Dickinson, Part Two: Nature, XXXIX

The nightwatchman caught her by the shoulder and drew her away from the tiger cage.

"Ms. Dickinson," he said softly, as not to bruise her mind, "there's no clock in there either."

She turned to face him, her expression pregnant with pretension. The nightwatchman interrupted before she could continue in verse.

"The dawn will come around 6:30. You're probably just discombobulated by daylight savings time. Let me show you back to your suite."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Censoring the Internet with Piranhas

"People have said that trying to censor the internet would be like trying to take the pee out of a swimming pool. With high chlorination and water circulation, that isn't entirely necessary. What I want to do is prevent and penalize anymore pee getting into the swimming pool. I want to train piranha that will smell and taste only one thing: urine (or child pornography). They will enter a feeding frenzy and maul whatever person urinates in the pool (or uploads photos of middle school cheerleaders). The hope is that the pee-ranhas would kill off urinators. Their blood would then get in the internet, too, but we'd circulate that out with some anti-malware programs and lifeguards. After a few years internet pirates and people who create ghastly websites would stop out of fear of finding carnivorous fish swimming in their inboxes. If necessary, we would train the pee-ranhas to swim through air so that they could track down the net-urinators to their homes. A few mauling videos on Youtube and fear will spread. They won’t be able to overcome it. It’ll be like pee in a swimming pool."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Missing His Lamp

The rumors were true: a genie was wandering around behind the school. He left blue smoke trails as he floated around, checking behind every rock and bench for something. All the kids abandoned soccer practice, keeping pace behind him and yelling.

“I wish for a million bucks!”

“Two million!”

“I wish for all the money in the world!”

The genie shook his head. “I can’t do any wishes without my lamp. Find it and maybe we’ll talk.”

None of them broke away. Instead they followed and belted out desires.

“I wish for rocket boots!”

“I wish I could see through Stacy Keener’s bra!”

"I wish I was invisible!"

“I wish for an invisible plane!”

The genie rolled his puffy eyes and kept searching.

One kid, who was banking on that two million dollar wish, asked, “Well what can you do without your lamp?”

“I wish for a Helix Dragonoid!”

“I wish for a pet dragon! A pink one!”

The genie looked at the two-million-dollar wisher and answered, “I can wish you’d all shut up.”

Monday, July 19, 2010


It must be award season. This past week I received both the Fabulous Flash and One Lovely Blog Awards. The latter award marks the first time anyone has used the word “lovely” to describe my blog, and possibly anything about me.

Before I play along with the rules, I’d like to thank my benefactors. Thanks to Jon Strother for the Fabulous Flash, and thanks to T.S. Bazelli for the One Lovely Blog.

The request with One Lovely Blog is that you give seven things about yourself. Here we go:

1. Since age 13 I have struggled with a crippling neuromuscular syndrome. The syndrome initiated from a mix of my body going into puberty and a rare adverse reaction to steroids. One month before the doctors put me on the regimen that would unwittingly destroy my body, I received the only chain letter of my life. I threw it away.

2. I distinctly remember spending one Christmas Eve alone. Realizing the quiet was a good opportunity to hit the ten-page assignment I had for High School English, I began writing an extremely violent fantasy. I became so enraptured in writing that I jumped when my family came through the door. I’d lost track of everything: the story was thirty pages, and I’d been writing for four hours. That night I decided that I had to become a writer.

3. I also distinctly remember spending one random afternoon alone. I lay on my bed, trying to think of what occupations would make the most money and require the least effort. Art, directing or being president were possible, but authors seemed to have it the easiest. That day I decided that I had to become a writer.

4. A few years after college I began walking for exercise. On the first day a police car stopped me just twenty meters from my house. I’d been alternately either away at college or so sick that I was a shut in for so long that none of my neighbors recognized me, and they phoned the police that there was a suspicious looking man wandering on the road.

5. Walking was part of a diet and exercise regimen that allowed me to lose 60 pounds. I was very proud until I started having acute pains in my side. It turned out the rapid weight loss had ruined my gallbladder, requiring a surgery that almost bankrupted me.

6. It took me two months to recover after the surgery. On my first day returning to exercise I had a leg spasm and tore cartilage in my left knee. I could not walk for months.

7. The night before my gallbladder surgery I cleaned up my room so it would be easier to traverse post-op. There was so much bare floor that I could actually dance in my room. I did. It was a combination of waltzing and boy band nonsense, lasting five minutes before I entirely lost my wind. It felt wonderful and probably looked idiotic. In the coming months, including both the surgery recovery and the knee injury, I often reflected how smart it had been to dance when no one was watching. Remembering it often took the sting out of immobility, because I knew I’d used the gift well while I’d had it.

There you go. You now know everything about me. People will feel silly reading my autobiography in a few years when they could have just read that.

The rules of Fabulous Flash are to share the award with four flash fiction writers you admire. One Lovely Blog seems to have a malleable number, so I could cheat and give both awards to four people.

Instead we’ll do a little compromise. I gave you seven bits of information, so I’ll give you seven award winners. The first four people below are flash fiction specialists. The last three are also talented flash writers, but their blogs tend to feature other material as well. What material? Read on.

1. Peggy MacFarland is a lively speculative fiction writer I encountered about a year ago on the Habringer*33 project. She tends to share a new tale about once a week, spanning ghost stories, aliens, incompetent house painters – you know, the usual.

2. Gracie Motley, author of Crone’s Cauldron. She posts at least twice a week, once with her Fantasy “Fire and Water” serial, and once with the weekly #fridayflash offering. Since going twice-weekly she’s displaying admirable versatility.

3. Laura Eno is a funny lady. Her Death and Chronos series was one of my favorites. Though she’s buried in a novel right now, she continues to share amusing flash fiction.

4. Karen Schindler. I’m putting her last in the Fabulous Flash category because she’ll have an amusing comment about it. She is pell-mell and free. If you think my sense of humor is wacky, she may be even further out there. Or perhaps we're like Saturn and Uranus - two planets so far out there that it doesn't even matter anymore, because the Sun doesn't talk to us that often anyway. Did that not make sense? Well it did to us.

5. Eric Krause is branching out all the time. He writes speculative fiction flash, but has also included book reviews and writing prompts.

6. Anthony Venutolo’s “Bukowski’s Basement” may have a short story about life in America, or the latest trailer for an HBO series, or a reflection on Harvey Pekar. A news editor elsewhere, this is the destination for his personal creativity and whatever relates to it.

7. Mark Kerstetter. He probably won’t appreciate that I cognize his name as “Marker Starter.” Mark’s blog, The Bricoleur, features some of the finest regular free-to-read literary essays around. He is cultured in fiction yet enamored with that culture, rather than mourning it in the way scares off so many young readers. His fiction has distinct art about it. I won't bother describing it. Just read it.

T.S. originally worried about giving me an award that was pink. I've now given it exclusively to men. She didn't know about my historic support for pink's manliness.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Fox, goose and grain riddle

The wizard swept his hands over the three items. The first was a bag of grain. The second was a goose, which immediately stuck its bill into the bag. The wizard pulled it out and thrust it aside, at which point the third item, a fox, leapt up and bit the goose. The wizard grumbled, grabbed each by the neck and held them apart.

Struggling with the animals, he continued.

“So this is your challenge, boy. You must get all three of these items across the river safely, but there is only one slot for items in the canoe. Take the fox, and the goose will stay behind eating the grain.”

The boy nodded along. “And if I take the goose across first, then the fox second…”

The wizard beamed in that malicious way that old folks learn when their grandchildren don’t visit often enough.

“Then one will eat the other while you’re paddling for the third item. Exactly. This is your riddle. Pass it, and then I’ll let you live and cross my river.”

The boy rubbed his hands together, studying the goose and fox. The wizard released them, and immediately the fox bolted for the bird. The boy stepped in, sweeping the fox into his arms. When it nipped him, he rapped it on the head to pacify it.

The wizard raised an eyebrow. “Going to try that one first?”

“Sort of.”

The boy picked up the sack of grain, letting it yawn open. Then he dumped the stunned fox inside and drew the string tight. Before the wizard could complain, he climbed into the canoe and dropped the sack into his one item slot. The fox pawed at its burlap prison while the boy started rowing.

“I think I’ve got this riddle!” he called. “Can do it in two trips.”

“You’re very clever, sonny! I’ll let you keep the goose as a reward.”

When the boy was out of earshot, the wizard grumbled and waved his wand over the goose. A poison spell would teach that brat.
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