midsummer

Happy Solstice!
Here is an interesting article about mid-summer celebrations from around the world from CNN. Here is a list of books from Goodreads about the summer solstice. And here is a romance about it.
Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, in Oakvale is celebrated by a large party held in the meadow next to the (hopefully running) stream. There are three-legged races and backwards mule riding contests. There are apple pies and other pastries to be eaten. Cider, cyser, and beer are offered, along with a more potent alcohol called applejerk.
Gestin and Jeslynn hooked up at a summer solstice celebration and were married in the fall of that same year.

I hope your longest day of the year is a happy one.

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thou must write

Did I mention that I am a fan of Chuck Wendig?

WRITERS HAVE TO WRITE EVERY DAY OR THEY DO NOT APPEASE THE WORD GODS, AND IF THE WORD GODS GO UNAPPEASED, THEY SEND UNTO YOU THREE CROWS, AND THESE CROWS WILL SPEAK THE FORBIDDEN WHISPERS THAT ROB FROM YOU THE WILL TO CONTINUE, CURSING YOU WITH WRITER’S BLOCK UNTIL YOU AGAIN COMPLETE THE SACRIFICE OF 2000 WORDS PER DAY AND SO THAT IS WHY WRITERS MUST WRITE EVERY DAY —

Of course, to get better at writing, one should actually write. I wrote something recently. Here:

“Come on, Tika. The water’s nice,” Benj called from where he stood, waist deep in the dark water of the pond. Tika watched him flex his muscles in the moonlight. The sounds of the Blades played in the background, a croak of a frog, a mysterious spash, the buzz of flying insects.
“Nah,” she said, stubbing her smoke out in the damp moss at her feet.
“I can’t believe a half-aquarid is afraid of a little water.”
“That swamp water’s nasty. Besides, I’m out of drink.” She held up her empty bottle.
He put his hands on his hips and snorted. “You’re scared. Admit it.”
She folded her webbed fingers into a rude gesture and stayed on the shoreline.
“If Fel were here, you’d come in.”
She frowned at him.
“You know what? I’m done.” She turned her back on him and went back to the carrige.
“Oh shit, what was that?”
She glanced back and said, “Benj, don’t be more of jerk.”
“No really, I saw something. I think it’s a…” He splashed his way out of the water, saying “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.”
He got in the driver’s side of the carriage and slammed the door shut. Tika got in also.
“What?” she asked.
He furiously rubbed the comcrystal to get it to wake up.
“It’s dead. Does yours work?”
“You know I can’t use my comcrys – my father would kill me if he found out where I was.”
“Tika, come on. It’s an emergency. There’s a dead body in the water.”
“A what?” Tika moved to open the door.
“No, don’t. It’s missing a head. Let me see if I can get a charge off the carriage.” He pulled open the storage box and pulled out a cradle. He fit the squarish blue-gray crystal into the cradle and pushed the button for the carriage to start.
“Could you tell who it was?” Tika asked after they both watched the dead comcrystal for a moment.
“Did you miss the part where the head was missing?”
“Well, can you tell me if it was human or aquarid?”
He scoffed. “I didn’t check for webbed-fingers if that’s what you’re asking.”
Tika crossed her arms and sat back on the carriage seat with a thump.
The comcrystal started to glow faintly. Benj called the CLE and reported his find.

Anthony Bourdain

So Anthony Bourdain took his own life (as reported by CNN) Friday (which is still today in my land). My first reaction, when told by my friend K, was shock and sadness. Not surprise, per se, since he seemed like a fellow who had demons. I am sad, however, that he gave into those demons. I am boggled by how someone so popular didn’t feel (that’s an assumption) that he could reach out for help in battling his demon. He had fans. In general, fans are supportive. Coworkers are supportive. Family members are supportive. Friends, by the definition, are supportive. True friends are actually supportive.
At least, they should be. Damnit.
If you think you do not have value – that your life is not worth anything so might as well end it – but your friends/family/fans think your life has value. Trust them.
Ugh.
The news providers say that suicide happened more often in 2016 (their most recent data I guess) than death by car accident or homicide.
The demons appear to be winning. Don’t let them. Fight back!

Of course, we – the public – will never have the true story. Maybe he had terminal something medical? Maybe he just faked his death and is going to go be a secret agent for New Zealand or Mars?
Another thing my brain did, being a writer and currently reading a JD Robb book, was “Oh, he’s famous. I wonder if it was murder made to look like suicide – just like that fashion designer (Kate Spade).
Ah, brain, stop for a moment, eh? We don’t need to write that story.
Does thinking it’s murder make it more acceptable?
No, but
I guess I have strange coping mechanisms.

They tell us that suicide is preventable. It can’t hurt to try to prevent it. Check out Mental Health First Aid.

sigh.

Are Octopuses from Outer Space?

http://www.newsweek.com/alien-octopuses-outer-space-930942
OMG, what a great headline.
What a great word: Panspermia

Panspermia is a hotly-debated concept. Various versions suggest microbes, viruses, and even tiny life forms like the tardigrade might travel dormant from space rock to space rock via collisions, eventually making their way to new planets. On a habitable planet like our own, they might wake up and thrive.

Amazingly enough the article ends with assuring the reader that octopuses/octopi are entirely terrestrial.
Space octopus!
There’s a story there.

writing practice 1

Sitting around the campfire one evening, Uda asked me about the family treasure.
“Here’s the story as it was retold to me.
“Grandberry Leeta, Grandtwig Goodwin and his brother, Grand Nuncle Tosh, were at camp after they’d won the main battle of the Spring War. Leeta and Goodwin had not married yet. In fact, I think they’d just met. The commanders declaired a celebration and the entire camp got drunk. Leeta, a captain, and some of her command got the bright idea to go to the enemy camp – of which there were only a few soldiers left and a handful of supporters – and see if the enemy had any goods they could take home as souviners.
“Leeta ran into Goodwin and Tosh there, who had the same idea evidently. Tosh had found a stash of particularly good whiskey in some enemy commander’s tent. So they’d started to pass the bottle, although none of them – and this is according to Grandberry Leeta’s recollection – needed any additional alcohol.
“Tosh kept pulling out bottles from this elaborately decorated trunk. And so they kept drinking. Finally Tosh pulled out an old, dusty bottle, wrapped in the crusty remains of a leather satchel. It’s top had been sealed with wax and stamped with some unknown sigil.
“Just as Tosh was about to attempt to open it, the King’s guards came through the enemy camp to dispurse the looters. Leeta, being a captain and all, shouldn’t have been there. If the guards caught her, she’d be courtmarshalled and probably hanged. She grabbed Goodwin and Tosh and another – a corporal named…”
I paused and tried to remember the name. It had been something unique. Uda watched me expectantly and Regit smirked, saying, “Don’t you let your Anie Cly tell you false. This family ain’t got no treasure. It’s a curse.”
I frowned and shook my head at him. He rolled his eyes and drank his beer.
“The corporal’s name was Idigara. Anyway, the four of them slipped out the back of the tent just as the royal guards came in through the front of the tent. They were chased all the way across the battleground. Leeta tripped on a corpse and Goodwin stopped to help her. The royal guard ran past and continued to chase the corporal and Tosh – completely missing your grandtrees.
“When Leeta and Goodwin walked into her camp, some time later Grandberry Leeta told me with a wink, the royal guard was waiting for them. She claimed she’d been with Goodwin in his tent. The guards said they’d captured the corporal and asked her what she wanted done with her. She told the guard she’d deal with her corporal for being drunk and disorderly and breaking the treaty. The royal guard saluted and left.
“Goodwin asked the corporal where Tosh was, but the corporal was too drunk to answer. They went into Leeta’s tent and found Tosh hiding up in the spokes of the tent. It was amazing the whole thing hadn’t collapsed. He dropped down and broke his nose–”
“Served him right,” Regit said.
“and broke the dusty bottle underneath him. And do you know what was in the bottle?” I asked Uri, whose eyes had grown large with my tale.
She shook her head no.
“A Ginnyan. It granted three wishes. That’s how your Grand Nuncle Tosh became Prince of Palmra and how your Grandtwig became a successful business man.”
“But what did Grandberry Leeta ask for?”
“She’s smart, our Grandberry. She asked for the Ginnyan to serve her. And that is the family treasure.”

Weird Al Yankovic and Emo Philips concert

May 5, 2018 Tucson AZ
We went to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert at the Fox Theatre in Tucson on Saturday, Cinco De Mayo. Opening up was Emo Philips, which you may remember from the movie UHF.
Before the concert, we met with friends at Caruso’s, one of CWB’s favorites, for dinner. Originally we’d thought about having Mexican food, but then remembered that it was Cinco De Mayo. It was also graduation night for the U of A, so it was really busy downtown and on 4th Avenue.
The Fox Theatre was rebuilt several years ago, and it is very pretty inside. Very art deco/art nouveau, which appeals to me. The sound and lighting were excellent.
Emo Philips is a strange fellow. He presents as kind of a caricature. His speach patterns (I’m not sure if they are manufactured or natural) remind me of my friend UJ, who is Canadian and very precise in his enunciation. In general, I don’t like stand-up comedy, but he had some very funny stuff.
Weird Al and his band sat, except for the keyboard player (who was in the back). That indicated a low-energy concert to me. It was kinda odd, but I’d never seen Weird Al before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. CWB reported that he usually had costume changes every song and moved around on the stage like a nut.
The concert openned with “CNR” which is an excellent song and ended with “The Saga Begins” which is also an excellent song.
Weird Al and his band are excellent musicians and I was amazed at his ability to not only capture the essence of the song he used for inspiration, but also the vocal qualities of the original singer. While this tour claimed to only play his unremarked original tunes, he did have a mash-up toward the end of the show with his famous parodies. But he changed the tunes. So imagine “Eat it” sung to “Layla.”
If he comes to your town, you should see this show for the laughs and excellent music.

An everyday hit and run

Driving into work I hit a werewolf. Not that I knew it at the time. It’d been big, fuzzy, and came out of nowhere. I slammed on the breaks and pulled to the side of the road. I sat for a moment shaking. To my relief, when I stepped out, my headlights didn’t show a body. My ’82 Celica’s crumpled fender told me I’d hit something, but I didn’t see blood. Guilt clawed my stomach as I got back in the car and continued on. In my defense, it happened at 3:30 a.m. on a blind curve on a rural highway 25 miles away from the job I reminded myself that I needed.

I got to work late. My boss, The Tyrant, glared and pointed at the tables I had waiting. Not that they’d been waiting long since the truck stop diner had only been open for a hot minute. I strapped on my apron and went to my daily grind.
I got the local gossip as I poured coffee and severed pancakes. A well-respected community leader had passed from a heart attack and a rancher in the area reported a couple of weird livestock deaths attributed to mountain lions. People talked about hunting season, some against and some for. At some point in the day, a man sat in my section, tall–six feet plus, longish brown hair that’d never seen a comb, hollow eyes. He grunted when I took his order and then spent the rest of his time there staring at me. Creepy.
After working my double shift, my sucky day got more so when I found my car had a flat tire. With the bent fender, changing the tire proved difficult. One of the truck stop mechanics offered to help.
“Did you hit a cow?”
I shook my head and for some reason remembered the creepy guy staring at me earlier.

Home at last, I found an enormous husky lying in the moonlight on my doormat. It stood up when I got out of the car and growled at me. I froze in my tracks and estimated how fast I could get back into my car. I took a step back but stopped as the dog hunched its back and then collapsed inward with a whine. It looked like a rolled ball of bloody goo with fur. It condensed to the size of a basketball and then expanded and formed into a naked man on his knees. He stood up, putting his hands on his hips. After a moment of stunned processing, I recognized him.
“You were at the diner.”
He nodded, frowning.
“What do you want?”
“How ’bout an apology, lady. You hit me with your car.” He pointed at the offending fender.
“You shouldn’t run out into the road,” I answered without thinking. He growled again and advanced toward me.
“You didn’t even stop.”
I stood my ground. “I did.”
“Yeah, to look at your car. Then you drove off. I could have been hurt.”
“I was late.”
“Yeah, right. To your crappy job.” He’d reached me by that point.
“At least I have a job,” I said, ignoring the fact that he towered over me.
He scowled. “I have a job.”
“Really? Doing what?”
He stepped back. “I’m an investment banker.”
A bark of laughter left me before I could control it. “And you what? Chase cars on the weekend?”
He sneered at that.
“I’ll have you know that this condition only impacts me during the three days of the full moon.”
“So you take vacation for those three days?” I asked, wondering how he dealt with a monthly disruption.
“Yeah. My boss is very understanding.”
“Lucky you. My boss wouldn’t give me a day off if I were dying.”
We stared at each other for a moment, and it struck me that I just had a conversation with a real lycanthrope investment banker who I’d hit with my car. I laughed.
He smiled. “What’s so funny?” His smile changed his whole persona.
“Nothing. Do you have any clothes?”
He shook his head, looking away and covering himself.
“Wanna beer?”
“Yes.”
I led the way into my trailer knowing that my life could no longer be described as mundane.

Scheherazade

She’d been taken off the street – rescued, they’d said. They hadn’t told her what that rescue would cost.
[348]
The do-gooder approached Keri, a smile pasted to her middle-aged face. She moved in a deliberate way, like a dog-catcher trying to charm a stray into his grasp. Keri glanced around the alley where she’d been hiding after a somewhat successful trash dive, checking for the other street kids.
“Don’t let them catch you alone,” one had told her. “They’ll talk you into anything.” Of course, the other street kids had all taken the blue pill offered by the gang leader/pimp.
She’d been on the street for over three months and knew two things. She wasn’t a joiner and the do-gooders couldn’t talk her into was going home.
Keri put her half-eaten pizza crust aside and rose.
“It’s okay, I just want to talk,” the woman said, settling against the opposite wall. Her too clean t-shirt, blue jeans, and white sneakers stood out against the grimy wall.
Keri nodded and kept her mouth shut and her eyes moving. If any of the bangers saw her talking to a do-gooder, she’d get even more pressure to join.
“I’m Sandra. I work at the shelter. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”
The lady asked for her name, which she didn’t give, and confirmed that she was homeless. The word “runaway” hadn’t entered into the one-sided conversation, but Keri knew she’d been labeled that and would probably show up on some government database. Not that her ex-parent would look for her, the bastard.
While the woman gave her spiel a sharp wolf-whistle made Keri jump. A pack of bangers passed the alley but didn’t look in.
“We can get you a place to stay tonight if you want. A warm meal, hot shower, maybe a change of clothes. Does that sound good?” The woman said in conclusion and Keri looked back, meeting her eyes by accident. Their brown depths reminded her of the way her dog, Bones, used to look at her.
“Okay,” she heard herself say just as the bangers came down the other end of the alley.

Chuck – my hero

Chuck Wendig is my hero. He has the most amusing (to me anyway) way of putting things, such as today’s writing wisdom of “Finish your shit.” It has been said before, and will be said again, but right now I needed to hear that. I need to finish writing and get to the end of one complete, edited story. Because hey – I need that. It’s a milestone, a goal, a need.

Chuck – rock on with your bad self!

reset

A few years ago I took a Flash Fiction class from Lisa Kessler as a way to resurrect my writing carcass and get it in shape. The 100 words in 100 days wasn’t getting me anywhere and I felt that a class on flash or short fiction would be helpful. It was.
Now, I’m in version three of my Crown City project and I’m having some lack of confidence in my writing abilities and my editing abilities. I have devised a new challenge for myself to hopefully re-establish some sort of writing routine and confidence.

The challenge.

Write a 1000 word short story in a month that has three parts (three posts here) that includes a beginning (200 words), middle (800 words), and ending (200 words). Each part will include the 5 commandments from The Story Grid (inciting incident, progressive complications, crisis, climax, and resolution) and all the entire story will have the 5 commandments – which means the first part will have the global inciting incident, the second part will have the progressive complications, crisis and climax, and the third part will have the resolution.

I invite you to do this also. It’s a challenge.
Good luck and may the words be with you.