Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Uncle Rodney Christmas


From my Uncle Rodney:

MERRY CHRISMAS!!!!

Billy did that. the colores and the snmowman.
Now it;s my turn at hthe computer.

i like this font because it lookes like it is REAL HAND RIGHTING WITH A PEN. It;s whatdoyoucall genuine. and when i talk at at to you i want to be like  a GENUIUNE GUY.

SO I GABE BILLY A BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS. YOU CAN LOKA T THE PICTURE ON THE IPICTURE. IT IS THE BOOK.





BILLY ISN;T OLD D ENOUGH TO USE GUNS SO I TOOK THE BOOK BACK AND NOW IT;S MINE. I THINK IT;S GREAT BECAUSE I ALWAYS WANTED A BOOK LIKE THAT. WHAT LUCK!

BILLY BUILT ME A TOMHAS JEFFERSON STYLE DUMB-WAITER AND ALSO A MODEL PLANE AND CLEAED MY HOUSE AND FIXED MY CHIMNEY FOR HIS CHRIST-X PRESNENT TO ME. I THINK THAT IS A LOT OF SHIT COMPARED WITH TO MY PRESENT. BILLY HAS GOT A LOT TO ELEARN ABOUT GROWING UPO AND BEING GROWED UP.

I WOULD LIKE TO CLOSE WITH SOME CHRISTMAS CAROLES. YOU CAN FOLLOW ALONG BECAUSE I ROTE THE LYRICS FOR YOU.
JIGGLE BELLSDASHIG THROGH THE SNOW
LAUGHING ON THE FUN
ON THE FIELDS WE GO
LAUGHING ON THE WAY (YOU CAN LAUGH AT THIS PART BUT ONLY IF YOU DON;T SOUND LIK E A DUMB ASS)
JINGLE BELLS

JIGGLE BELLS
JINGEL ON THE WAY
OH WAHT FUN IT IS TO RIFE IN A OPEN HORSE SLEIGH RIDE
JINGLE BELLS 
JIGNGLE BELLS
JINGLE ALL THE WAY
OH WAHT FUNI T IS TO RIDE IN A 1 HORSE RIDE.

Dick The Halls

DESK THE HALLS WITH BOWLS OF HOLLY
FALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA (YOU SAY IT MAYBE SIX OR FIVE TIMES AND THEN YOU STOP)
DECK THE HALLS TO BE JOLLY
FALA LA LA LALA. (ONCE AGAIN, FIVE OR FIVE TIMES)
DON WE NOW GAY ON PERIL
FA LFA LALALAL A (THIS PART IS DIFFERENT A LITTLE)
TIS THE SAEASON TO BE JOLLY
FALALALAFALAFEL POCKETSFAFAFAFAFA!! (loudly)
Santos Claus is Coming to TownYOU BETTER WATCH OUT!
YOU BETTER NOT CRY!
YOU BETTER WATCH OUT AND ILL TELL YOU WHY
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING AT YOU
HE'S CHECKING A LIST
HE'S CHECKING IT TWICE
HE'S GONNA FIND OUT WHO;S NOT A NICE
SANTA CLAUS IS IN TOWN
HE SEEMS YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING
HE SEEMS WHEN YOU'RE AWAKE
JINGLE ALL THE WAY
OH WAHT FUNI T IS TO RIDE IN A 1 HORSE RIDE.

We Wish You a Merry Hcristmas
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISMAS
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTERMSAS
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISMAS
(REPEAT CHANT TIL THE SONG IS DONE)


Sleigh Ride

Check the address for typing errors such as
    ww.example.com instead of
    www.example.com
  If you are unable to load any pages, check your computer's network
    connection.
  If your computer or network is protected by a firewall or proxy, make sure
    that Firefox is permitted to access the Web.

I'll Be Home For Christmas
I'LL BE HOME ON CHISTMAS
YOU CAN CUNT ON ME
PLEASE HAVE SNOW AND MISSLE TOE
AND PRESENTS ON THE TREE
YOU CAN HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
CHRISTMAS EVE WILL FIND ME
WHERE THE BLUE LIGHT ROAMS
I'LL BE AT THE CHRISTMAS
IF ONLY IN YOUR DREAMS


(YOU CAN BELCH AT THE END, I ALWAYS DO BECAUSE THAT;S WHEN IT COMES)
I HOPE YOU GOT LEARNED SOMETHING BY THIS EMAIL. MERRY CHESTNUTS.

LOVE,
RODBNEY

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The President of Canada


“I just don’t like it,” she said, staring at him with those big brown eyes under smoldering eyebrows.
“You think I like it any more than you do? But what choice do I have?”” he asked, his blue eyes wide.
“You have no choice.”
“I have but one choice – to die for my country.”
“That’s not a choice, that’s a path.”
“Yes, I have but one path – country-death.”
“So it’s not heroic, it’s just tragic.”
“Yeah, I’m a tragic hero.”
“You are tragic.”
“Heroically.”
Actually, I take it back – you always have a choice.
Yeah, to starve or to do the devil’s work – some choice.
Weaker men than you have chosen the former.
DUMBER men than I have chosen the former.
I can’t tell you what to do.
Seems like you are.
Well, I can’t make you do what I want.
Not for lack of whining.
Where’d u hear that?
The president of Canada.
Canada doesn’t have a president.
Then I declare myself President of Canada!
You’ll have no power.
Neither do those Windsors, but look how famous they are.
Technically, they do, but they’re only to be consulted when all else has failed.
Like Bush!
I guess so.
So, that’ll be me, minus the power.
I don’t see the point.
It’ll be great! You can be my mistress!
Mistress?
Yeah, I’ll need a respectable wife, but you’ll provide just that hint of scandal that keeps people interested – you’ll be my Camilla.
Your Lewinski.
Exactly!
Fat chance.
Ha ha!
My gosh – let the poor woman rest in peace!
I’m pretty sure she’s still alive.
I should hope so – she’s sleeping on my couch.
Oh, is that who that was? I thought it was your sister.
My sister’s in another state.
Which one?
Shock.
What happened?
She fought the law.
And the law won?
Yeah, the law of physics – she was fixing this one outlet – turned out it was a live one.
Was she like, “We’ve got a live one here!”?
No, she was like, convulsing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A shadow of a dream


Though the following is autobiographical, some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

One day, I saw the wireless-detector image blinking, alerting me to the availability of wireless networks. Sure, they'd always been available—they'd just never had anything to do with me. I was consistently, unyieldingly, locked out of them.

Call me superstitious, but something, this time, felt different. So I clicked to open the window, and sure enough, there she was—wApple633fq, a connection I'd never seen before, and, miraculously, absent that soul-crushing "lock" icon by her side.

Why not? I took a chance and clicked, still certain something would go wrong—we wouldn't connect, for some unknown reason. I'd connect with her, but it would be local access only—nothing that gave me any internet. It wouldn't be anyone's fault. It wouldn't even be a shame—it'd just be the way things were.

But no. Somehow, everything clicked, and, before I knew it, she had opened to show me Google, right there on my screen, clear as day.

The signal was strongest in bed—there, I could have it anywhere I wanted. The kitchen and bathroom were out of range, as was most of the entryway, but it worked fine right behind the front door.

It was wonderful. The days passed, and we fell into a routine. Honestly—and it seems like both a sin and an impossibility when I think about it now—the wonderment did fade. No longer was it an unexpected joy to come home and find internet in my bed, waiting for me to slip under the covers, ready to take me anywhere I wanted to go. If you can believe it, I actually began to expect to be transported to images of the Colosseum, to have access to definitions of any word in myriad languages, to be told everything I could ever want to know about the Armenian genocide. Sadly, perhaps—or, I don't know, maybe it's just the way of things—as I began to expect it, I took less and less advantage of the situation. I'd check e-mail and Facebook, craving that shallow, immediate buzz I'd find in mostly meaningless messages. I'd have conversations with people I wasn't interested in communicating with just to avoid working on that Hindi story, even though I finally had the miracle of bedroom access to translation dictionaries; grammar forums; and, wonder of wonders, actual real, live Hindi speakers.

As if she knew this, she began to withdraw. Once available in every square foot of the bed, she became accessible solely in the southeast corner, next to the wall, and only in a certain position—smack-up against the window, the laptop on my thighs.

Then, even that wasn't enough. It had to sit on my chest, inches from my face. It was getting to the point that it almost wasn't worth the effort.

Then things changed yet again—to gain access, I'd have to lie in bed with the window just on my left, legs up against the wall, laptop on my shins. I don't know how many times the resistance provided by my kneecaps was all that kept gravity from scrambling hardware on the bed like eggs in a pan.

But, still, I only accessed her when the need was strong, and it wasn't really uncomfortable. Overall, it was actually an improvement from the on-the-chest situation. Sometimes I'd have to swing my feet one way or the other to reach that connection with her, but it was sometimes surprisingly strong, and certainly reliably there, almost always attainable, if I had the motivation to do the needful.

Then, one day, just like that—as all victims of the thief called Time come to know—just as she had come into my life, she was gone.

This wasn't unprecedented—there'd been instances when I'd come home to find her gone, but, sure enough, like clockwork, the next morning, she'd be back with me, and things would return to normal.

So, as usual, I patiently awaited her return. Noon came and went. Still, no sign. I had an appointment. I left the house and came back that evening. Still no trace. I began to suspect something was different—that maybe, this time, she wouldn't come back.

I fell into the habit of sitting there, looking for her—trying to figure out if maybe she was around, just under a different name—is that you, now going by TWC0859? Did you use to be mine, Abramson Family Network? 2WIRE920, you look new—have I seen you around here before?

Truthfully, I don't know. It doesn't matter anyway. All of them were—are—locked. Off limits. Even if it is "she", it's not. She's a different entity than she was. As different from before as a locked bank vault to an open bedroom door.

Isn't it funny how circumstances dictate so much of life—so much of who we think we are? Already, it's returned almost completely to the way it was before her: I work on the computer at home. I study. I read. If I need access, I know where I can get it—if I want it with some level of privacy, and don't mind it seeming a bit like work, I can sit at a cubicle at FedEx Kinko's. If I'm happy to take what's available for the price of a bagel, I can head over to Starbucks. When the time's right, and there's a seat, I can get it at the library for free.

Truthfully, though, it's not totally the same. It never is, is it? Sure, this is the way my life used to be—exactly the same, by all outward appearances—even the most astute observer would be hard-pressed to pinpoint any change. Still, sometimes I'll just hover my mouse icon over the wireless detection box and watch, transfixed, for minutes on end, the weakest signals appearing and vanishing—like a cowboy staring out at the plain shadows at dusk, waiting for the silhouette of the beautiful girl he once knew, decades ago, to appear once more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas, Mr. Turcotti

For the second part of Round 1 of our five-page-script competition, Rod and I were given the following:

Genre: Drama
Location: A Brewery
Item: A Cooked Turkey

We wrote this script:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Feedback on "Fool's Goldfish"



(If you'd like to read the story this feedback refers to, namely, "Fool's Goldfish", then please click on this link: This is a link to "Fool's Goldfish".


''Fool's Goldfish'' by Matt McHugh  - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR SCRIPT - ......Even though there were so many larger words in the opening paragraph I almost got lost (I'd suggest fewer large words; there's just too many in that opening), I LOVED Malcolm's voice and thought it was well-developed. I also like that the writer has given us a very clear picture of Malcolm's personality right in the opening--and that he's likable. Your "lovable geek" so to speak. Very nice work on this. I also like the pithy dialogue.............Malcolm's infatuation with Sally strikes a humorous tone and plays well within the storyline. Their search for the missing goldfish is a sort of representation for their dynamic..........................................................

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - ......I was confused about what kind of fish was lost, because we were never told that he was in a bowl and somehow made it into the koi pond? (By the way, "koi" is the correct spelling). And I also didn't understand the pond WAS a koi pond until the end, so I'd suggest that somewhere up front we get a much more clear explanation of the fish was in a bowl, and now he's lost, and why Malcolm would believe the fish made it from the bowl to the pond. I just really didn't understand that. In addition, how old IS Malcolm? I'm assuming he's a teenager, so I'd also establish this--when he's referencing his gran's fish, I thought he was maybe 10, but using all of that upper-end language just isn't likely for a 10-year-old (if he's a genius, then establish that). I'd also suggest adding dialogue tags or stage business during the conversation with Sally--the back and forth was difficult to follow.............The overall storyline could use some more action/interesting events. While the main events of them searching for the goldfish has a distinct thematic value, try adding layers of complexity............................…........................

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Those Halcyon Days of Youth

Honestly, though, what's the point of showering with young boys if you can't hug them?


In unrelated news, Penn State has already received a bid to the Vatican Bowl, sponsored by Secret Deodorant.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thirst


Rod and I have written this five-page script:

Thirst

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Home

Hey, everyone, check out my most-recent failure! I wrote this for the 24-hour Short-Story contest from Writers Weekly.


First, the prompt:

She was standing on the porch of a sagging cabin with bright yellow leaves collecting around her feet. As the cold wind billowed her skit, she shivered and wondered if the owner of the purse really lived here. She knocked timidly and the door quickly opened, revealing a tiny girl holding a hideous, bald doll…




Now, the entry that lost if for me:



Home


The tiny girl held a hideous, bald figurine. It looked like a cancer-ridden Kewpie doll - something for very sick children. Not to inspire in them the will to live. Something to comfort them as they accepted the alternative.

The girl's arsenal of teeth was spotty - her mouth looked like the dental version of the porch on which she stood.

"Come in," I was certain I'd heard her command, as she turned and walked down the hall.

I looked around. All I saw were bare white birch trees, a carpet of bright yellow and orange leaves, and the wind intermixing the two. The path I'd arrived on seemed more faded by the moment.

As I crossed the threshold of the decaying cabin, I was immersed in feelings I'd last felt at six, frozen in bed in my darkened room, convinced any movement would guarantee my imminent demise at the hands of the murderous spirits whose presence I felt just beyond the mattress's edge.

Surprised to be the more scared of the two of us, I followed the girl around a corner, past a sliding glass door that revealed an enclosed porch, and into a kitchen that reeked of damp cigar smoke and rotting wood - strangely, because the room seemed neither damp nor rotting. It looked old and used, but sturdy and neat.

"This is him," the little girl said, pointing at the ground where she stood on the other side of the counter. Ice-cold fear shot up my back and down my arms as I approached her.

Lying there, eyes open, hand in mid-grasp, was a corpse. I almost screamed, but it would have been so incongruous with the girl's demeanor that I tamped it down into rapid breaths.

The man was skinny, before death. He wore no shirt - only overalls. He looked to be in his 40s, and maybe five days' dead, I thought, though I know not what experience I drew from.

His right hand reached toward me as if his last wish had been to grasp something in my direction. I tried to imagine what, and all I could picture was a mischievous hovering sphere - something like the snitch from Harry Potter - staying just out of the man's reach.

"I think we should go," I said, acknowledging the feeling that any of a hundred different things would jump out of the shadows, despite the fact it was a gray day of the type that fosters none - the kind in which everything seems to be illuminated by a diffuse, depressing fog of light.

"He said to stay," said the girl.

"When?" I heard myself ask, though I immediately felt that wasn't the line of questioning I wished to pursue.

"Just before he passed," she said, her voice dropping with each syllable, until it was an echoing, sonorous bellow. She seemed to expand imperceptibly, like a marshmallow in a microwave. I couldn't focus on both her and her surroundings, so I wasn't sure if she was growing or my eyes were readjusting, until suddenly she towered over me, a six-foot-tall mass of black shadow and yellow eyes.

"He said to never leave."

Again - the terror I'd felt as a child, my bed a lone raft adrift atop a black sea of sadistic death. The same terror I'd known in dreams when I'd scream for help but no words would come. When I'd try to run but realize I was completely paralyzed.

Then I felt my feet take me away. I expected the creature would overpower me at once, but it remained, watching. I was exiting the kitchen, the beast, in my eyes, shrinking in size as it stood there.

I turned just in time to feel the pane of glass that was the sliding glass door ram my nose down what felt like my throat.



I awoke later facing a strange ceiling. As before, my body moved before my mind could paralyze it. I lifted my head before the fear inspired by that black mass fully returned, and I saw that the coast to the door was clear.

Half my mind wondered if the man was still behind the counter. I didn't sense the creature there, but neither could I make myself look. I put out my hand, got to my feet, and began walking toward the door. Immediately, I was running. Expecting anything. Expecting nothing. I was simply where I was. Totally and fully:

Running out the door. Avoiding the protruding knot in the fallen branch. Speeding by the procession of leafless trees, over and down the hill. I dared not look back, too afraid my luck would change. I thought of Sodom and Gomorrah and salt and Lot's wife - the sound of those words in my head as I ran. I ran until I was on asphalt again. Until I saw my car.

I got behind the wheel. I turned the ignition. And I drove.

I drove until I saw cars - modern, sensical cars. And people driving them. Real, live people. I drove until I saw traffic lights and restaurants and pedestrians. I drove past the exit for my house. I drove past the city limits. I drove until I was in front of my parents' house. I wanted to go inside, as I had ten thousand times before. I wanted to turn off the alarm and pet my dog and go up to my room and just lie there. But I couldn't. My parents weren't here anymore. My parents weren't anymore.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fool's Goldfish


Round 2 of this competition. I'm somewhere between fifteenth place and last. (When you get down that low, you're basically all tied for last, so no one gets any points.)

My assignment, if I chose to accept it (I chose to):
Genre: Comedy
Location: A greenhouse
Object: A goldfish

Maximum number of words: 1,000 (mine's 993)
Maximum time allowed to write: 48 hours.

Fool's Goldfish

Sometimes I sit. Sometimes I think. Rarely do I do both simultaneously. This is more due to ability than preference. I can’t think if I have nothing to distract me. This is to say, if I sit down and concentrate on something, my mind manufactures its won distractions. Conversely, if I struggle to follow the traces of the tail of an idea, dodging obstacular thoughts and detour-inducing envisionments, the detritus of half-conceived ruminations, aborted foetal thoughts, abandoned ponderances, and discarded musings, the challenge of following that contemplation trail to the end is often enough motivation to reveal some real revelation.

Right now, I’m sitting.

That’s why I’m making little (OK, no) progress on the mystery – the mystery of the missing fish. Where does a fish go? My grandma says that all fish go to heaven – she’s a Pescaterian – but, I mean, I can’t even find a body. Where does a fish go? It has to be somewhere in the pond – doesn’t it?

Well, if I don’t find him before grandma gets back, she’ll send me to heaven. Or wherever God sends negligent fish homiciders.

But I’m not even sure he’s dead. But what else could it be? Harry jumped in his Geo Supermarine and took off for Marseilles?

I stand up and take what must be my tenth lap around the greenhouse. Three-quarters of the way through, I see Sally come by again. And, as usual, I’m struck by the feeling that I have no idea what enables her gluteus maximus to carry itself with such a regal bearing. I’ve heard women’s bodies described as defying gravity, but Sally’s also defies anatomy and structural engineering. What reproduction pressures could have selected for her rump to possess such divine deportment?

As usual, I thank and curse God for his rear-end work on this particular model.

Strolling along in the transfenestral light of the afternoon sun, I already feel dangerously somnolent. Catching sight of Sally makes me light-headed.

“Sally,” I venture.

“Hey, Malcolm,” she says, awaiting more. Or not.

I smile until she turns away.

“Do you…?”

“Yes?” she turns back. The sun filters through her nectarine-red hair and makes her eyes glow like liquid oxygen, the tittular freckles dusted on her smooth, pale face like candy crystals on God’s favorite red-velvet cupcake.

I can’t help but think that, even though a million of those freckles on my tongue would never fill me up, one would be all I’d ever need.

“Malcolm?” she asks again. Now she’s right in front of me. You got to watch these pretty ones. They have powers.

“I can’t find my gran’s fish.”

“Have you checked the pond?”

I just stare at her.

“He’s not in the pond,” she asks?

I shake my head.

“Well, then where could he be?” she asks, catching up.

I shrug.

“Well, what do we do?” she asks.

I like that, though I have no answer.

“What could have happened?” she asks. “A cat came in and stole him?”

“Maybe. But what cat? And how’d it get in? And how’d it get out?”

“I don’t know. What else is there? It emigrated to the Atlantic?”

“OK, what would you do if you were a fish?” I ask.

“Nothing. That’s why I’m stumped.”

“What would you like to do?”

“I don’t know – maybe go visit another pond? I might get lonely here all by myself.”

“But how would you leave? On your bicycle?”

“Oh my gosh – Gloria Steinam was right!”

“Huh?”

“Nothing.”

“So…?”

“Well, there’s that tube, right there,” she says, pointing to a tube that’s right there.

“But that’s for incoming water,” I say. “You think it swam up against the current to freedom in the water tower? It’s a goldfish, not a salmon.”

“Have you ever noticed that, when they start swimming against the current, salmon seem in a rush to die?”

“Like someone who’d write The Satanic Verses?”

“Aww, come on – you give Khomeini too much credit.”

“You give Muslims too little – look at what they did on 9/11. On 26/11.”

“Those guys were about as Muslim as the crusaders were Catholic.”

“Yeah, OK, but I give murderous sycophants appropriate credit.”

“Well, you shouldn’t – the dude who planned to kill Rusdie blew himself up hanging out in his hotel room.”

“Well, maybe he was repenting.”

“I guess we’ll never know.”

“Anyway, this fish needs to get found. The pump was down last night. Do you want to pursue the out-of-greenhouse theory or not?”

“Where’s this tube come from?”

“The coy pond in the garden.”

“Oh, God,” I say.

“Allah,” she offers.

“Brahman,” I counter, and we lose interest as we exit the greenhouse, and run to the coy pond.

She stands over the pond, shaking her head.

“He wouldn’t last a minute in here,” she says.

“I’m dead. He’s dead, and now I’m dead.”

“Wait – what’s that?” she says.

She reaches for a leaf that covers half of the tube that sends water into the greenhouse pond. Behind it is a miniature version of the behemoth fish boredly floating around above it.

“Grab him!” she says.

“I need a net! Protect him!” I say as I run away.

“They’re coming to me! They think I’m going to feed him!”

“Distract them!” I say as I run into the greenhouse.

I’m back with the net and I see her on the other side of the pond, tossing pieces of crushed leaf onto the water, surrounded by progressively less-interested coy.

I sweep the net down near Harry, flicking my wrist to pull some water back toward it, and then scoop.
Up comes the net, and in it is a tiny, shining fish.

I go back inside, putting Harry safely in a glass of water.

“Don’t drink that,” I say, my hand on the counter.

She smiles and exhales relief. Then, she collapses into my chest.

I grab the shoulder away from me and laugh.

“Exhausting, huh?"

She whispers into my neck, "Let's take a nap.”

A Learner's Literary Life

Hey, kids - even gotten back an English paper in which you were told you incorrectly identified a symbol? Thought the pickle jar in Ethan Frome was just a pickle jar? Missed four of the twenty Christ-images in whichever Victorian novel you've just read? Didn't realize Alice was bi-curious when she went down that rabbit hole? Ha. I envy your naivete...

Well, now's your chance to talk to determine the symbolism for yourself! You've probably read "A Literary Life" in your AP English classes. Now, avail yourself of the opportunity to actually determine what symbolizes what! In the comments section for this post, please tell me what you'd like something "A Literary Life" to symbolize.

For example:

1.) I think Moishele should represent Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

2.) North Samarsheffieldchestershire = Babylon

3.) The adverb "spontaneously" in the phrase "one of the books spontaneously shook" is used to symbolize the uneasy balance between the modern Western woman's quest for self-determination and her primordial need to play the role of birth-mother-goddess-queen.

The best answers for each word will be chosen as the official representation of that word in this story. All other answers will be wrong. It will be indisputable!

Knock yourselves out!

(Also, anyone who finds run-on sentences in A Literary Life gets an honorable mention here. Please alert me to them in one of the "comments" sections.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Feedback on "A Literary Life"

''A Literary Life'' by Matthew McHugh - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR SCRIPT - ...The very subtle sexual attraction here between M. and the librarian is well done; it's also good that the writer has firmly grounded us in exactly where/what/who/when......................The remote control action was funny and somewhat genuine. The ending was also a nicely handled twist.................................................... WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - ...The use of the word "stalked" in the first line was odd to me; also, a bit further down, there is "comforted and depressed him." These are conflicting emotions--and I wanted to know why; perhaps tie this to the attraction he has for the librarian more concretely, so that this makes more sense? I'd also consider the introduction of the character/conflict/crisis/change structure--the potential or strains of it are already in the piece--obviously, the rabbit, a symbol of fertility, is part of that. But then the question becomes: what does the rabbit DO that makes this man realize he really needs to go for this librarian? I'd give this some thought......................Title/synopsis should be on their own page. There are quite a few places where the narrative doesn't quite make sense. For example: warm-cold fluorescent lights; that over an 11 month period, there would be holidays wherein the library is closed, even during normal business hours (Monday-Saturday); that most libraries have high shelves, and it would be impossible to dance on top of them without hitting the ceiling. There are some grammatical mistakes, chief among them run-on sentences.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Literary Life

This was written for a 48-hour short-story contest. It had to be 1,000 words or fewer, and it had to include fantasy, a library, and a remote control:

Moishele stalked into the library as he had every Monday through Saturday for the past 11 months.


The warm, cold fluorescent lights of the library comforted and depressed him. But what did he want? A waterside park to arise from the children's section? Perhaps a wet bar to open over in fiction? He pictured Miss Gupta, the librarian who looked a young 25 and acted an old 85, dancing in high heels atop the bookshelf.


"Mr. Gwynn?" came a voice from behind him.


He assumed it was Miss Gupta, though it sounded as if she had a cold. Not only was she the only one there with a British accent, she was also the only one who ever struck up conversation with Moisele, though it tended so toward either the mundane or the literarily analytical that Moisele would eventually find himself imagining grabbing her and kissing her, half because of her shimmering lips and that accent, and half just to shut her up. Of course, that was as far as even his imagination allowed him to go without embarrassment.


Moishele turned toward the voice. Instead of Miss Gupta, he was surprised to see a spring hare in a dressing gown on its hind legs, addressing him.


"Your reputation impedes you."


Moishele felt himself blushing. How awkward for this semi-literate hare, he thought.


"'Your reputation precedes you' is, I believe, the phrase you are grasping for," he said.


"Oh, that it does as well, sir, but that is not me intended message," said the hare. "I mean to communicate that your reputation, or, more accurately, your self-image, really, keeps you from realizing your full potential."


"Bollocks," said Moishele, surprising himself - he'd never considered British a medium in which his tongue was very comfortable.


"Most right, sir - that's the spirit! Never too late to change things for the better!" replied the hare.


"Why would I want to change things? And why can no one else see you?"


"Why would you think me invisible to them, sir? It's a library - it's rude to stare."


"But not to come up unannounced behind a bloke and accuse him of self-limitation?"


"Well, no, sir - that's just honest good-Samaritanism!"


"You're from Samaria?"


"North Samarsheffieldchestershire, near Trifle-upon-Avon."


"I'm afraid I'm not familiar."


"Quite not - they'd find you very strange indeed, sir. Strange but intriguing. But we have other matters to attend."


"What exactly are the matters?"


"The matters are myriad, but, in crude summary..."


The hare somehow held in his small, hairy paw a remote control of the most peculiar variety. It was purple with neon-green writing and trim. It appeared to have a raised glass prism near the upper-right corner in which a small gummiworm-like object seemed to rotate.


It had all the usual buttons - "Play", "Pause", etc. But it also had others, including one labeled "Viewer Selection", and that mysterious prism.


"It's like a sorcerer's TV remote," Moishele said.


"Give it a try," said the smiling hare.


"I don't have a sorcerer's TV."


"The world is your set," said the hare as he bounded off and disappeared into Reference.


Moishele looked the remote over. It was compelling. It begged to be manipulated.


The most alluring part was undoubtedly the prism, but, If I start there, where is there to go? thought Moisele.


After much deliberation, his fingers hovering over the "Fast-Forward" button, then "Rewind". Finally, pointing it at an elderly patron, he pressed "Play".


Nothing happened.


He pointed it at the bookshelf and tried again.


This time, one of the books spontaneously shook, fell off the shelf, and opened.


Above it appeared something like a hologram, but dreamier. A pirate ship rocked on storm-stirred sea.


Zoom into the captain's room, where sat a pirate and a beautiful maiden on a rickety bed. He tore at her clothes, and she at his.


Moishele looked around, embarrassed. But no one else seemed to be paying the least bit of attention to the half-naked grope-fest unfolding before his eyes.


Still, he didn't want to risk it. Panickedly, he pushed "Pause". The figures froze in a skinful embrace.


That wasn't much better.


So Moishele pushed "Stop". And the figures disappeared. And the book closed. It still lay on the floor, however.


Moishele went to put it back. As he did, he saw the title for the first time: Pilfered Passions.


He pointed the remote at An Annotated History of the Crimean War and pressed "Play". The book fell open and atop it appeared a mishmash of sword-fighting horsemen. It looked as if England were trying to take over Turkey. The noise was deafening.


Still, no one batted an eyelash.


He pressed "Stop".


The war ended. Or, at least, disappeared.


Too numb to be astonished, Moishele wanted to know what the glass prism did.


He was about to touch it when he heard footsteps approaching.


"Hey, Moishele. Oh, what you got there?"


Miss Gupta was there, a thick tome under her arm as usual, staring at the remote. Moishele handed it to her.


"Well, now, what's this?" she continued. "'Viewer Selection'?"


She moved the viewer selection dial from "1" to "2".


"It's beautiful. It looks so high-tech, yet this prism reminds me of something I read about in a Victorian novel."


"I'm still figuring it out myself."


"Well, you'll have to tell me what it does when you're mastered it," she said, handing it back.


"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "I think a little of the library dust has already begun to blanket that beautiful crystal. Let me just…"


She placed one hand on the remote to steady it and blew on the crystal.


Where she and Moishele had stood, only the tome that had fallen from Miss Gupta's grasp remained. Open to page one, it read "Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Sing as well the confusion of Moishele Gwynn, son of Ira, and Shama Gupta, daughter of Anil, thrust into a war not theirs…"

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