Sunday, December 26, 2010

Death of a Toy Man, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all had a good time.   Well this weekend has been a busy one with family from all over coming to our house for the holiday so I will keep this week’s Saturday Centus short and to the point so I can get back to spending time with them and not go off on a tangent like I usually do.

So we are now at week 34, or week 238 in dog weeks according to my dog, Rufus, and it has been a fun-filled ride playing along with Jenny and the Centusians.  (I have all their albums!)   Being a Centusian has been a wonderful gift for 34 weeks and I need to thank Ms. Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent, for hosting this meme every week and giving us aspiring writer folk a place to practice our creative scribblins.   

Thank you Jenny!!!

The Saturday Centus is a challenging creative writing meme where we are instructed to write a story of only 100 words or less using a supplied prompt.  Besides the 100 word limit, the rules also include no splitting the prompt, no illustrations or photographs, and no vulgarity.  Of course if you fail to obey the rules karma will visit you with the worst case of flatulence you have ever experienced.  Remember, you were warned!

After posting their stories, writers link up to Jenny’s meme post so that we can all share our takes on the prompt with one another and offer feedback.  This week’s prompt is “the white-bearded fat man rolled through the church doors.”  My take on the prompt was probably darker than others given that it is Christmastime, but I present it to you anyway.  I have entitled it:

Death of a Toy Man

On a clear, crisp night beneath the starry skies above Berkeley, a Christmas celebration was underway.

Nick Kloss, CEO of Kloss Toys and a liberal activist, was known for his big entrances almost as much as his generous donations, so when the white-bearded fat man rolled through the church doors riding a Segway, most smiled and laughed at his eccentric behavior.

One person there didn’t smile.  His thoughts were full of rage and a fundamentalist dogma that would never know Kloss’ compassion for one’s fellow man.

By the end of that evening, Kloss’ body would be found shot to death.
Another victory for the “Crusaders for Christianity.”

Jenny Matlock

Two thirds of Americans can't do fractions. 
The other half, just don't care.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

It’s Like, Whatever, You Know? A Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

I’m back again with yet another late contribution to Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus!

This is the 33rd week of this fun and challenging writing meme which is lovingly hosted by mentor extraordinaire, Ms. Jenny, at her blog, off on my tangent.  I know what you are thinking: with 33 weeks of practice I should be better at it than I am.  Oh yeah, well maybe you should try it, Mr. Smarty-Pants, and see how well you do! 

Sorry.  I’m suffering from the side effects of sleep deprivation and exhaustive academic pursuits.  Thank goodness I have a short break before I begin my next course! 

Writing a 100-word story, not including the supplied prompt, is a great lesson in choosing your words carefully and trimming the fat off of your writing projects.  These stories force us to reduce our stories to their barest essentials without a lot of the fluff and complicated contrivances typical in the works of many writers.

Personally I prefer the K.I.S.S. method when I write.  That stands for Knowledgeable Indifference to Stylistic Superfluousness.  I’m all about literary unpretentiousness.  It’s how I circumvolve.

It is Christmas this Saturday and my home will be filled once again with laughter and merriment as four generations of family come together to eat excessively, coo over little baby David (whom my wife says in her unbiased grandmotherly way is just the cutest baby in the universe), listen to music, play games, watch movies, drink too much wine and have fun. 

I hope that wherever you are, you make it an enjoyable experience as well, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Christmahanakwanza even.  The point is that in this season of love and brotherhood, we can all pretend to get along for a little while.  Just sayin!

Without further adieu (having nearly exhausted my supply of adieu and seeing only a little bit of sayonara left in the back of the cupboard) I wish to submit my entry joining the rest of our rogue’s gallery of literary baby choppers.  This week’s prompt was a fun one and really made me think.  It made me think, “Hey, people must start drinking earlier in the day in Arizona.”  This week’s prompt is: "What was he thinking? OMG! Elves are soooo 2009..."

Here is my entry for this week.  I have entitled it:

It’s Like, Whatever, You Know?

Sitting at their usual table picking at an extra spicy rainbow roll, Bianca discussed the previous night’s adventure with Jade.

“So, like, I’m there at the club when who do you guess walks in?”

 “Like, oh my God!  Brandon was there?”

“Totally!  We just broke up and he’s already dating again!”

“Seriously?   That’s sooo not cool!”

“Fer shur, right?   So then he sees me and asks me to dance.  As if!”

“OMG, I’m so suuure!” chimed Jade. 

“That’s nothing!  Then he put on an elf hat and tried to burp the song ‘Jingle Bells.’” 

"What was he thinking?  OMG! Elves are soooo 2009."

Jenny Matlock
Don't sweat the petty things.

Don't pet the sweaty things.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Not-So-Perfect Gift, A Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

Well here it is, week 32 of Saturday Centus (fashionably late again, as usual) and time to whip out another 100-word short story based upon a supplied prompt.  Or I could just go to Starbucks and play solitaire while pretending to write the great American novel.  Nah, that gets old after a while.  Probably better to write the story.  After all, what would Jenny do?  (WWJD?)

For those who don’t know who Jenny is, she is Jenny Matlock of the blog, off on my tangent, and the spiritual leader of us Centusians,  a ragtag collection of literary folk from around the globe who enjoy making up stories and shopping at Walmart dressed very inappropriately just for the attention.   Perhaps you've even seen photos of some of us online.

Okay, so not all Centusians like to do the Walmart thing (you know who you are), but they do all like to make up stories.  And many of them do it very, very well.   In fact, there might even be a future congressman amongst them.     

Each Saturday morning we assemble at Jenny’s blog where the divine Ms. M shares with us our writing assignment for the week.   Then we set about making up our little stories which must include the prompt as written and no more than 100 extra words.  It sounds easy but it can be challenging at times, particularly since vulgar illustrations and filthy cuss words are not allowed.  (Fear not, maybe next year.) 

After we are done writing our stories, we link our contributions to Jenny’s meme post so that the whole world can read them.  The world, in turn, then contacts their friends who work in the publishing industry.  Then publishers offer us six-figure book deals and we go on 50-city book tours riding in pimped out luxury buses while dining on caviar and champagne, desperately trying to remember the little people who first told us to follow our dreams.  I don’t know what happens next because the drugs usually wear off by this point.

Anyway, if you haven’t participated in Saturday Centus by now you really should.  It’s what your fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Henkle, would have wanted if she were still alive and had not perished in that tragic blimp accident.  This week Miss Jenny handed us a doozy of a prompt to use in our stories.  The prompt is “An involuntary gasp of shock escaped my lips when I opened the shoebox and saw the pointy-toed shoes…”  

Here is my Saturday Centus contribution for this week.  I have entitled it:

A Not-So-Perfect Gift

I’ve never been a big fan of white elephant gift exchanges, but my office has one every Christmas.  While others unwrapped cool stuff like Chia Pets or glow-in-the-dark armadillo flashlights, I always seemed to end up with the ugliest, most useless crap you could imagine.

This year, to avoid getting something lousy like a crocheted toilet paper cozy, I planned to choose a package that had the right size and weight, because bigger is generally better.

Well, at least less sucky.

Crossing my fingers, I chose a nicely wrapped box.  An involuntary gasp of shock escaped my lips when I opened the shoebox and saw the pointy-toed shoes.

“Pink stilettos,” I said glumly.  “Merry Christmas to me.”

Jenny Matlock

He who laughs last thinks slowest


Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandma's Attic, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

It's week 31 of Saturday Centus and I'm so ridiculously late to the party that I almost decided to opt out and just wait until tomorrow to start fresh with the next week's assignment.  Then I considered the horrific consequences of not posting a Centus this week. 

First, it would mean breaking a streak of weekly posts going back several months.  Second, the cries of disappointment from my legion of fans (I'm pretty sure 5 is a legion) would be too much to bear.  Lastly, I would likely be cast out of the Centusian bloggerhood and be forever denied all the lovely perks and benefits afforded therewith.

No, I decided I couldn't live like that again.  My life as a Centusian was too good and I could neither go back to the dark days before Centus than I could remove any trace of humanity from my soul and vote Republican.  Nope, not in this lifetime!  I am writing a Centus for this week if it is the last thing I do!  True, it may be just awful, but at least it will be done and I won't have to worry about losing my membership in this most prestigious organization.

For you literary neophytes out there who have yet to experience the glory that is placing electronic quill to electronic tablet and conjuring up tiny stories of 100 words or less based on a supplied prompt, the Saturday Centus is a themed writing meme that you simply must participate in.  Brought forth into this reality during some rapturous epiphany by the incomparable Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent, it is a fun and challenging exercise in short, concise story writing. 

Something I obviously know nothing about.

The rules include no vulgarity, no illustrations and no splitting the prompt.  The prompt does not count in the overall word count.  Violation of the 100 word limit is punishable by having the Centusians wag their collective pointer fingers at you while repeating “Shame!  Shame!”  After writing your story, you are asked to link it up to Jenny's blog post so that we can all share and enjoy each other's take on the prompt. 

This past week has been the perfect storm of distractions from work, school and elsewhere, and I hope that almost missing my Centus deadline has scared me straight so that I can avoid being so tardy in the future.  This week's Christmas-related prompt was a challenging one.  Jenny gave us the line “the bin of tangled up holiday lights” to work with.  Here is my just-in-the-nick-of-time-though-it-will-probably-still-go-widely-unread-but-what-the-heck story for this week.  I have entitled it:

Grandma's Attic

Grandma Etta loved to save things.

With her passing, her grandson Joe was tasked with cleaning out her creaky old Victorian home.

Musty, but with a faint hint of rose water, the attic was a clutter of boxes containing memories now lost to the ages.  A dim shaft of daylight guided him as he began sorting out which items to keep, give away or toss.

His eyes welled with tears as he opened up the box labeled “Christmas.”  The bin of tangled up holiday lights brought up so many wonderful memories. 

For Joe, Etta was that one bulb that burnt out, leaving the string damaged beyond repair.

Jenny Matlock

"I don't know what to say, so I'll just say
what's in my heart. . . Baboom, Baboom, Baboom."

Mel Brooks


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Probably Only A Coincidence, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Welcome once again to another excursion into the realm of literary weirdness! 

This week marks the big 3 – 0 week of Saturday Centus, that entertaining writing meme hosted by Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent.  As is the custom of us Centusians, we converge on Jenny’s blog every Saturday morning to get this week’s creative writing prompt.  Using this prompt, we carefully craft 100-word short stories for the amusement of ourselves and our fellow Centusians.  Even non-Centusians (aka the “unwashed heathen”) often come by and enjoy our tiny flights of fancy.

In lieu of a prompt this week, Jenny has decided to jolt us all back from our tryptophan-induced comas by shaking things up with an interesting twist from the normal routine.  The concept for this week’s Centus was provided by Clear-Space, a regular SC contributor.   Our instructions for this week are to pick a random horoscope from the paper or online and write our stories based on the kind of day that it “predicts.”

My take on astrology is that it is an entertaining diversion, but only the most weak-minded and gullible give it any real credence as a bona fide science.  In a world gone mad as ours has, however, the most bizarre things are often given credibility.  For instance, these days even the most ridiculous and far-fetched ideas can appear viable to some, like BP fulfilling their promises to return the Gulf of Mexico to its original pristine state, or saving our country from its economic death spiral by implementing greater tax cuts for the super wealthy, and the most horrifyingly loony notion of all time bar none, President Sarah Palin.

Just for fun I pulled up a random horoscope from this silly site and was amazed at the accuracy of their profile of Librans such as myself.  It reads as follows:

Librans are sometimes known to go in for wife/husband swapping, and "swinging" appears to be a popular activity amongst Librans. Stopping the Libran from being so liberal with his/her body can sometimes be a chore. Chains and ropes are likely to help in the short-run, but that's because they like the idea of dressing up and S&M.

Generally Librans are against things, which can make them pretty miserable and at the same time fairly interesting. Until they become tiresome. Other star-signs are known to feel about Librans that they're a "bit like my dad" when it comes to opinions.

Humiliation or embarrassment is not in a Libran's lexicon. Nor is "goat" or "leprechaun" - it's a bizarre-but-true blind spot with your average Libran.

 Danger is around every corner for the Libran, and whilst it is usually paranoia and not true at all, the Libran finds it very difficult to turn off that worried side of their persona. This is understandable, really, because as far as we can tell, everyone is out to get them. However, paranoia only gets the Libran to stay, trapped forever, in the house - not a great problem in itself. No, it's more what drives him to shudder in the cupboard that remains a mystery.

The Libran is disposed to walking naked around his/her dwelling, irrespective of the other members of the household's view or opinions. Interestingly, the Libran is also against the concept of curtains, which leads to the statistic that 94% of all Librans have been arrested for "exposure."

Uncanny, isn’t it?  I’m sure you all know someone who fits this profile.  Besides me, I mean.

Here is my personal horoscope from this same website.  My Centus for this week follows immediately afterwards.  

Libra  23 September - 23 October
Hexes may impair your vision today if you attempt to cross an invisible boundary. Fun is a word that will score you few points in scrabble...but then when was life all about scrabble? If you mis-use the word literally once more today ("I *literally* laughed my ass off"), you're going to feel what it's like to be hit "upside the head".

Probably Just a Coincidence

“So what happened to your head?”

“It was the strangest thing.  I had just laid down “refudiated” for a triple word score when Miles literally went berserk.  He angrily rejected my word and literally tried to claim victory.

“But how did you…”

“Well, when I objected he literally tried to take my head off with the bag of tiles.  He then dumped the game on the floor and cursed my eyes if I ever played it again.  The guy is insane.  Literally.”


“Hey, why’d you hit my head?"

"I didn't.  I only figuratively hit your head.”

"Still hurts!"

Jenny Matlock

My horoscope says that it is a good week
to wear a disguise.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Very Funny, Mom - A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Welcome to the 29th week of Saturday Centus!  Wow, has it been that long all ready?  Two hundred and three days have passed since Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent, first challenged us to think succinctly with this entertaining writing exercise.  A lot of wonderful short stories and poetry have been produced as a result of it too.

In a way, then, Jenny is kind of like a mom for giving birth to such a prolific themed writing meme such as this.  And we, the humble scribes who toil at these hundred word tales each week, are by association like her many gifted children.   I guess that means that she will have to set out a few more place settings for Thanksgiving this year! 

I’ve only participated in 28 weeks of the Saturday Centus myself.  It took me a week to catch up with the cool kids and try my hand at a writing meme.  Now it’s part of my regular routine like flossing my dog’s teeth or changing the air in my car tires.  It’s also something that I’ve come to look forward to and enjoy, not just for the opportunity to do something creative, but also because I enjoy reading the efforts of my fellow Centusians and the warm and supportive feedback we share.

This will be the last Saturday Centus before Thanksgiving so quite naturally Jenny has given us a fun prompt in honor of the holiday.   So while we are sitting around the table this Thursday giving thanks for what we have, I want to add one more to the list.  I think I speak for all of us Centusians when I say thank you, Jenny, for providing such a joyous literary playground for us to play in and hone our writing talents.  

If you haven’t tried Saturday Centus, you really owe it to yourself to join us and submit one of your own stories.  The rules are still the same: 100 words total not including the prompt, no foul language (though fowl language is just fine), no pictures and no splitting the prompt.  You have a week to post it to Jenny’s meme post.   So come on, join us and show us your stuffing, er, I mean stuff!   Giblet a try.  You’d have to be gravy not to.

Here is this week’s prompt:   "Pardon me," said Tom T. Urkee…

Here is my story for this week.  I have entitled it:

Very Funny, Mom

The Fancy Food Show drew thousands of people to San Francisco every year.

"Pardon me," said Tom T. Urkee, as he made his way through the crowded convention floor. 

He noticed a woman eyeing his name tag in disbelief.

“Is that really your name?” she asked, desperately trying to hold back a laugh, but failing miserably.

“Yes.  Yes it is.  My mother was a bit of a nut.  In fact they called her Quirky Urkee.”

“I’m sorry for laughing.  It’s just kind of unusual.”

“That’s okay.  I’m just thankful my mom wasn’t a vegetarian.”

“You mean…”

“Yes.  Toe F. Urkee.”

Jenny Matlock

Wishing Everyone A Wonderful
Thanksgiving Day!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

"A Paparazzo's Dream", A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Welcome back to yet another installment of the Saturday Centus, that fun and challenging writing meme that takes a supplied prompt and no more than 100 words of your own and transforms them into a mini literary adventure!  Our host and spirited advisor for this exercise is none other than that bloggess extraordinaire herself, Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent.

As this is the 28th week of the Saturday Centus, by now you know the rules about the 100 word limit, no vulgarity, no splitting the prompt and no pictures, but you may not know that, as a result of the recent elections and the shift in power in the House, starting next year there will be some new rules that will take effect here in Centusland.

To begin with, those Centusians in the top 15% income bracket will be able to use a total of 175 words in their Centus instead of the usual 100.  Those in the lower income brackets will find their word limits decreased to 64 including the prompt.  There will also be a small surcharge required to post your Centus for those not in the top bracket.  These funds will go to support legislation to defend American freedom and liberty blah, blah, blah…

In addition, any written pieces that seek to disparage members of the Republican Party, Tea Party, it’s conservative pundits or corporate cronies by accusing them of being either greedy, power-hungry, plutocrats or mindless half-wit talking-point puppets will not be allowed to be posted (For those of you who are Republicans, disparage means “to put down.”)
In contrast, bashing the President and the rest of the government whom are dedicated to improving the lives of ALL Americans (even those Republicans who wish to deny the rest of us healthcare, unemployment benefits, civil rights and who have worked tirelessly to ship our jobs overseas to fatten their own bloated  paychecks) will, however, be tolerated and in fact encouraged. 

Also in 2011 the restriction with regard to having photos or illustrations will be partially lifted.  White, God-fearing conservative bloggers will have the option of using any of a number of images officially sanctioned by the Republican Party.  These include the popular “Obama with Hitler-style mustache,” “Obama with Bone In Nose” and any image reputing to show Obama as a socialist, a communist or a fascist (for those people who are unfamiliar with the meanings of each term and use them interchangeably.)

Yes, the times they are a-changing!   This new direction purchased by the Koch brothers  voted on by the electorate will include some sweeping changes for all of us.  In light of this, Jenny, I want to apologize in advance because I’m not certain that I will be able to keep your rule on vulgarity come next year.

This week’s Saturday Centus prompt had a very poetic, lyrical feel about it, so I tried to utilize it as best I could given my non-poetic, raucous writing style.  The prompt this week is:  "The early November sunshine cast golden rays..."

Here is my take on this week’s prompt.  I have entitled it:

A Paparazzo’s Dream

The early November sunshine cast golden rays upon this exclusive Malibu beach community.   Sitting in my boat the cries of seagulls broke the trance-like state that the gentle surf and salty sea air had placed me in. 

Suddenly she stepped out onto her deck wearing just her bikini bottoms and holding a drink.  At long last the moment I had been waiting for.  I raised my Nikon camera and clicked away.

Sure, anyone could photograph other topless celebs, but it was I that finally caught on film the person who had eluded photographers all these years.

Betty White.

The bidding would start at a quarter million dollars.

Jenny Matlock
Practice random acts of kindness.
It really weirds people out!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Celebration of Death - A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock


It’s 2am and Tom sits in his chair, hands typing away furiously on his laptop, fighting off sleep and mental exhaustion with cool jazz, green grapes and a glass of ice water.  His cat, Blue, lays behind his head on the back of the chair keeping him company.


I’ve got to post my Saturday Centus at least by Sunday,
Blue.  So much important stuff going on this week I won’t
have another chance.  Especially once the football games
start tomorrow.

Tom’s wife Teresa slowly enters the room, rubbing her eyes and seeming annoyed.


Hey, are you coming to bed?  You know I can’t sleep when you are not there.


                        Oh really?  So does that mean you were just snoring for


            Ha ha, very funny.  So maybe I slept a little bit.  Come to
            bed, it’s late.


I will.  I’ve got to finish writing this week’s Centus first.  After that I can relax. Go on back to bed and practice snoring some more.  I won’t be too long.

She leaves.  He blows her a kiss and returns to his typing.



This would be going a lot better if I had some clue as to what I was writing.  But I guess that’s part of the fun of this writing meme.  You never know what direction you will go in and then something clicks and the story writes itself.  Take this week’s assignment for example.  Write a 100 word short story using the supplied prompt, “It was the 11th anniversary of.”  There’s got to be a million ways to take that prompt.

Blue slowly sits up and licks her paw, then sits down facing the opposite direction with her back leg resting on Tom’s shoulder, tail flicking against the side of his face.


Well, at least you are not being distracting or anything, Blue.  Maybe you are right.  Maybe I should just quit for the night.  I could probably pick this up sometime later in the week.  I do have a whole week to submit it.

Tom looks at the bracelet on his right wrist.  The dark brown letters stamped into the leather read WWJD.  They stand for “What Would Jenny Do.”  He finds his resolve and decides to stay up and finish his Centus. 

45 minutes later:


Yay!  I finally finished it!  100 words!  Boy that was rough.  I hope everyone likes it.  Now all I have to do is write some weird intro that tells everyone what Saturday Centus is and how it is the brainchild of Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent, and to post their submissions back to her blog post so we can all read ‘em and comment on them.  It’s got to be different, though.  Maybe a different color font or type size.  Yeah, that’s a great idea.  Thanks for your input, Blue.  You are my favorite deaf cat.

And scene.

This is my effort for week 27 of Saturday Centus.  I have entitled it:

A Celebration of Life Death

November 24th.

A date that none of us could ever forget.

It was the 11th anniversary of  Mama’s passing and all of her children had gotten together that afternoon, as they had the previous ten years, to mark the occasion.

“I’d like everyone to raise their glasses in a toast to Mama,” Roger smirked.

“To Mama, for enriching our lives and bringing us together in joy and happiness.  Something you never, ever did for us when you were alive.  Let you continue to burn in Hell you miserable, evil, maniacal troll.”

Cheers and laughter rang out over the family as the champagne poured.

Jenny Matlock

Become a Centusian. 
It looks good on your resume.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Public Service Centus

Jenny Matlock

Friends, Centusians, bloggers, lend me your ears!

Again with the short, short story writing?  Seems like only days ago when you were here trying to make sense out of my incoherent ramblings.  But I’m back again to assail your even sensibilities with even more words of stank breath composed with episode 26 of this beloved and creative literary journey known as Saturday Centus.

And whom do we have to thank/blame for this wonderful weekly diversion but that lovely and talented bloggess extraordinaire, Jenny Matlock from her blog, off on my tangent

This week our host has once again thrown us a twist to further challenge our minds by limiting the number of words allowed in our stories from 100 to only 50 words, excluding the prompt of course.

Fifty words, Jenny?  And just how, pray tell, am I supposed to craft a tale that portrays some conceptualized theme such as good against evil, ignorance and intolerance versus civil liberties or corporate greed against humanity?  There’s nary enough words to reveal the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist, let alone any comic overtones.

Suddenly 100 words seem like a limitless canvas on which to pen a story.

As an acknowledged “high verbal” blogger, this did at first seem like a test I was doomed to fail, but remembering the old proverb that ‘brevity is the soul of wit” I decided to give it a go and see what happens. 

I think it’s all too easy to get comfortable with our writing, even with the Saturday Centus, and not stretch ourselves a bit farther by trying something different.  Lucky for us we have an excellent teacher, Ms. Jenny, to help stimulate our creativity and give us that gentle (sometimes) push to excel.  Thank you, Jenny.  You make me want to be a more better writer.   Oops!  I mean a more betterer writer.  (And thank you, Biloxi School of Writin ‘n Stuff!) 

This week’s prompt is:

"Abraham Lincoln was a lot shorter then I thought he would be..."

I hope you like my effort this week.  I wrote it in half the time!  I have entitled it:

A Public Service Centus

“I dreamt that instead of voting I stayed home and played video games. There was a knock at the door.  When I opened it all these former Presidents came in and chewed me out for being an apathetic putz.” 

 “Whoa, dude!  So what do you think now?”

 “I think Abraham Lincoln was a lot shorter then I thought he would be."

 “That’s deep.”

Jenny Matlock

Vote!  Defeat the right-wing nutjobs, 
corporate stooges and "Party of No" obstructionists!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beware The Gollywoggle! A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Here I go again, late out of the gate for this, the 25th week of Saturday Centus!  My brain has been in a state of dysfunction (even more so than usual) while I struggle with illness this week.   It’s so difficult to think creatively when you are sick.  For a writer they may as well call it Irritable Vowel Syndrome.

Even as I have tried my standard remedy of applying liberal amounts of Scotch to the back of my throat to drive out the evil spirits that are responsible for the coughs and congestion that have dried up my creative juices, my mental faculties are still not where they should be to properly participate in a writing exercise of this high degree of complexity.

Nonetheless, I shall give it my best effort.   Don’t hate me if I am a word or two over the limit, however.  It’s not me, it’s the sickness!

For you newbies out there that may think Saturday Centus is some terrible malady to be suffered in silence, it is far from it.  Not to be confused with Saturday Night Fever, which can now be treated with a special ointment from the pharmacy, the Saturday Centus is an imaginative writing meme hosted by that irrepressible literary genius, Jenny Matlock, at her blog off on my tangent.  

The rules of Saturday Centus require that you write a very short story using a supplied prompt, and that the story be no longer than 100 words total not including the prompt.  You can’t use any vulgarity or pictures with your entry and it can be either fictitious or true.  When you are done posting your story, link it to Jenny’s meme post so that all of us can check it out and comment on your creativity.  Sounds easy enough, right? 

This week’s prompt, in honor of Halloween is:

"This is the scariest story I've ever heard..."

You know, my problem with writing a Saturday Centus on a Sunday is that by that time all the really great story ideas have already been taken and I have to settle for my backup ideas which admittedly aren’t very good.  

For example when I thought of my backup ideas for this prompt, it reminded me of the story of when my parents first met in school.  Yeah, so what’s so scary about that?  She was a student and he was her fourth grade teacher.  Next!

My next rejected story idea centered on getting stuck in an elevator with an elderly woman who suffered from a condition euphemistically known as “The Vapors” in the South, but is known everywhere else as extreme flatulence.  Again, next!

Alas, it is with great trepidation that I reach my germ-ridden hand into my bag of story ideas and drag out one that can hopefully suffice to fill my blog page for the next few days while I recuperate from whatever nastiness (Bolivian Screaming Turtle Syndrome?  Projectile Ebola?  Mad Chipmunk Disease?) which has ravaged my weak, enfeebled body.

Here is my contribution for this week.  I have entitled it:

Beware The Gollywoggle!

“I was walking home through the park from a disco party when I got the feeling I was being followed, but there wasn’t anything there. Suddenly I could hear footsteps coming up quickly behind me.

Terrified, I ran as fast as I could in platform shoes.  As I raced across the wet field, I slipped and muddied my polyester slacks and rayon shirt.

I looked and there staring back at me was a gollywoggle.  That’s why I don’t go to the park at night anymore.”

“Wow, Dad,” Bryan said.  “This is the scariest story I've ever heard.  Seriously, you really wore those clothes in public?”

Jenny Matlock

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Bloody Hallow's Eve, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Here we are at the 24th week of Saturday Centus, that clever writing meme lovingly attended to by the queen of the blogosphere, Ms. Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent

The concept is simply to write a 100-word story based upon a provided prompt.  Of course there are rules, for we must have an orderly Centus or else the whole shebang could go catawampus lickety-split, if you know what I mean.

The rules, for those obliged to follow them, are to use only 100 words, not including those of the prompt phrase.  The prompt must be used in its original form and cannot be split or altered.  You cannot use any pictures or vulgarity in your stories, not even a naughty limerick!  Finally, any Centusian audacious enough to include a long, rambling intro with  their Centus effort must be punished by having large wads of cash thrown at them (preferably in $50 or $100 denominations.)

The subject of my tomfoolery this week is Halloween and the macabre fascination so many people have with participating in the age-old tradition of dressing up in wild costumes, hanging up gruesome designs on the walls and enticing small children to come to their door with candy amid scary recordings of torture and shrieking women.

Actually, it does sound like just another Saturday night for some people.

But all that aside, I do have a special fondness for this holiday and the wonderful memories that it has spawned over the years.  I can’t remember many from my younger, hedonistic days of course (unless you call waking up the next day on someone’s front porch a memory) but I vividly remember the fun times spent  trick-or-treating with my kids and the many cool costumes worn at the time.

I’m not sure what the popular costumes will be for this year’s crop of candy-crazed moppets, but living in a progressive state like California (as opposed to some areas of the country populated by obstructionist Neanderthals, y’all) I’d expect to see some very creative outfits.  Not content with the conventional costume choices such as super heroes, princesses, Transformers, pirates or vampires, I expect to see more original ideas here in my area. 

I’m keeping a checklist at the front door so I can keep a tally of how many Glenn Becks and Rehab Lindsay Lohans we get.  Also on the list are Tea Party Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell in a big, black pointy hat, Lady Gaga, oil-soaked pelicans, and of course, Snooki, the infamous guidette from “Jersey Shore.”   

Not to say that the rest of the country won’t have a popular costume or two.  I expect sales of the Hitler-mustached Obama and “Bone-in-the-Nose Obama” to be as popular in some areas of the country as the traditional pointy-headed ghost (with optional miniature flaming cross) is pretty much year-round down there. 

Sometimes reality can be more bizarre than our weirdest imaginings.

Remember, all you Centusians, to post your story back to Jenny's meme post so we can all share in each others creative endeavors!  This week Jenny has given us a terrific prompt from witch to craft our trembling tails.  It is:

“Trick or treat!" they shouted as the door opened.

And here is my creepy take on this week’s prompt, which should definitely not to be read to small children.  I have entitled it:

A Bloody Hallow's Eve


Eerie sounds. 

Nightmarish decorations.

Children dressed up in ghoulish attire and roaming the neighborhood at night in search of sugary ecstasy.  

But for three escapees from Westwood Asylum, the excitement of their sudden freedom had driven them to other, more sinister desires.

A light tapping on the front door was all they needed to begin tonight’s bloodthirsty odyssey.

“Trick or treat!" they shouted as the door opened.

As they rushed the door amid Mrs. Walden’s muffled screams, one of them blew out the candle in the Jack O’ Lantern and turned off the porch light.

Just another dark house the children would skip over this year.

Jenny Matlock
Join the Centusians.
You have nothing to lose but your soul.
Bwa ha ha ha ha!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh No, You Didn't! A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

It’s Hammer Time!

I mean it’s Saturday Centus Time!  (Almost the same thing, except the wardrobe doesn’t include parachute pants.)   It’s time for us Centusians and wannabe Centusians to step up to this fun literary challenge hosted by the phenomenally creative Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent….

Actually it was Saturday Centus time, oh…back on Saturday and now it’s Wednesday and it’s just a tad bit pathetic being the last hold-out Centusian to offer up my little 100 word snippet at this late date, but I have an excuse.   I was really busy.  (I guess the rest of you just sit around on your hands all week waiting for Saturday to roll around so you have something to do, right?  LOL!)

This last week I started a financial accounting class and I think I may have uncovered a hidden passion I never knew existed!  With all the reading and paper writing I’ve done in this class so far I’ve come to the conclusion that I was born to work as an accountant!  No really!  I mean, writing is okay, but wow…doing transaction analysis is just downright sexy!  Plus, what better way to surround yourself with accountant groupies!

No wonder the chicks dig accountants.  My professor is a CPA and he exhibits all the tell-tale signs that he is one of the uber-cool accountancy elite!  As I watched him up there at the podium  last night, I could see how the ladies were captivated by him and how they hung on his every word…sort of like that little blob of spit that hung on the edge of his lower lip but refused to release its hold.

Does he even know how much he is affecting them, I wondered.  Oh, he must.  Accountants are like James Bond, except they use a calculator instead of a gun.  I want that!  I want to manipulate numbers in various financial statements and have women fall at my feet with unequivocal adoration.  

With great passion he described the gorgeous perfection that is an income statement as beads of sweat trickled unabated from his shiny, mostly-bald head.  My female classmates stared as if in a trance as he mopped his brow, being careful not to disturb his carefully placed comb-over or bump his thick, horn-rimmed glasses.   

Perhaps it was the way his skin-tight sweater vest caressed his pear-shaped body while his pocket protector strained against the light blue cotton/poly fibers.  Maybe it was the way he finished every sentence with the word, “okay?” or how his shirt wasn’t tucked in in the back.  All I know is that accountants are the new rock stars these days, baby, so hold on to your audit forms and get ready for the awesome spectacle of month end closing! 

But I digress.  Sorry, but it’s hard to focus on writing when your mind is fixated on balance sheets and accruals.  Now I know what my brother Steve thinks about!  And all this time I thought he was just dull.  (Just kidding, Steve…you know I think stamp collecting is way underrated.)

As for Ms. Jenny’s rules, you all know them…100 words only not including the prompt, no cuss words, no pictures and no splitting the prompt.  Other than that you can go total ape-stuff and write whatever and however you want.  You can even write rambling intros that have nothing whatsoever to do with the story if you are so inclined.  You’ve got a week to post it to Jenny’s meme post so that all of your fellow Centusians (and a few honorary Centusians) have an opportunity to read your story and leave you a comment.

This week’s prompt is “If I had a hammer…”

Here’s my tardy entry into this week’s literary stew.  I have entitled it:

Oh No, You Didn't!

The deceased, a 54-year-old black woman named Jeannie Perkins, was just the latest casualty of domestic violence to arrive here at the Shelby County morgue.

The report suggested the cause of death was blunt force trauma which, looking at the fractured skull fragments and numerous round indentations, was hard to refute. 

Of course finding the bloodied hammer beside the body was a pretty obvious clue as well.

But policy was that an autopsy must be conducted anyway, even with irrefutable evidence.

As he prepared the body he caught himself humming “If I had a hammer...” and winced in embarrassment.

“Sorry, Jeannie,” he said, “my bad."

Jenny Matlock

Copywight 2010 Elmer Fudd
All wights wesewved

Sunday, October 3, 2010

1969 Pumpkin Memories, A Saturday Centus

Well we have made it to week# 22 of Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus, that really short, short story writing exercise where 100 words are all you get to create stories based upon a supplied prompt.  This week, instead of a prompt, Jenny has supplied us a photo of a field of pumpkins from which to base our 100 word stories.  

While I like the challenge of using a photo as inspiration, I’m so used to Jenny giving a sentence or phrase to get the ball rolling that this week’s challenge seemed at once scary and hard.  (And no, I refuse to say “That’s what she said,” you fans of “The Office.”  Not going to happen.)

Follow along on Jenny’s blog, off on my tangent, and see where other writers take this week’s assignment, or if you are inclined, submit one of your own stories this week!  It’s absolutely free and it just might make you famous and turn yours into a household name like it did for Bernie Epstein and Freida Krum. 

Now, while some see a field of pumpkins and think “Oh, it’s a field of pumpkins,” I prefer to take a less obvious approach.  When I look at this photo I don’t see pumpkins, but rather what they represent to me.

Maybe you too see a field of blood-soaked decapitated heads screaming various ignorant and prejudiced right-wing rants and insane Tea Party rhetoric in the rain while the music from “Riverdance” plays in the background, and maybe not.   It’s all open to interpretation, right?

Don’t feel bad or that something is seriously wrong with you if you don’t.  I’m sure you still have many very nice qualities.

For a lot of people pumpkins represent Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of the year.  With October 31st right around the corner, the search for the right pumpkin is on for many pumpkin carvers out there determined to outperform last year’s efforts.  So off to the pumpkin fields they go, looking for one with just the right qualities to make that perfect jack o’ lantern.

Some prefer the short round ones, others the tall skinny ones.  Some search out those pocked with ugly scars to help create that fearsome visage that inspires terror in the eyes of the young trick-or-treaters. 

But no matter what shape or how intricate their carvings are, I have a plan to create the most horrifically scary pumpkin ever.  It may even cause children, and even some adults, to become physically ill. 

This year I’m going to skip the pumpkin autopsy that so many of us divorced people seemingly take too much pleasure in.

(What?  You mean I’m the only one?) 

I’m going to take my pumpkin and add some long black hair, make-up, fake boobs and lashes along with a poofy hair bump and voila!  It’s that orange-skinned, foul-mouthed, drunken troll from the “Jersey Shore” whom we all know as Snooki! 

I only hope they don’t get sick on my pumpkin.  But if they do, the realism will truly be uncanny.

Anyway, here is the little story that I came up with for this week based upon the above photo.  I have entitled it: 

1969 Pumpkin Memories

Halloween was a magical time when I was 7 years old.  My friend Simon and I looked forward to it every year.

“Mom, Simon wants to get a white pumpkin this year.” 

“No,” she replied.

“But mom, Simon really wants one.”

“No.  Tell Simon they only have orange ones.”

“Well can you at least get one for each of us?”

“How about this, Tommy…since Simon is your invisible friend, maybe he would like his own invisible pumpkin.”

This totally made sense to me.

“Well, can it be a white pumpkin?”

“Sure, why not!”

My mom was cool like that.

Jenny Matlock
Don't call us short stories, 
we're just textually-challenged.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Writing A Committee!

Welcome connoisseurs of literary weirdness!  

Uncle Tommy has an even more bite-sized snack to nosh on today.  My good friend Tom S. of Reinvention: The Journal of a Dog-lover, Book-reader, Moviegoer, and Writer has tagged me to participate in a meme started by The Kid in the Front Row which is called "A 30 Sentence Kid In The Front Row Story, by 28 Authors."

Basically it's a story that The Kid started and ended, and it's up to 28 other writers to fill in the storyline one sentence at a time.  Each new writer supplies his or her sentence and then tags someone else to continue the story on to it's completion.  

The rules are just to tag the person you received the meme from and then the person you are sending it to next!  And of course give proper due to the architect of this madcap romp, The Kid himself!

Fortunately I have a veritable army of Centusians at my disposal to follow me and brilliantly recover from whatever conundrums my portion leads them to.  So without further adieu, I give you my number 9 contribution:

1. Jane never expected to visit Belarus, but it was the only possible solution after what had happened.

2. Her lonely planet guide had advised her that it was a great place for birdwatching- so she packed her binoculars- Todd would have been proud, had he not been lying in a coma.

3. Poor Todd; Jane remembered the incident so well: he had spotted a rare long-whiskered owlet, had ran out into the street to snap a photo, and had thusly been hit by an ice cream truck.

4. Except the ice cream truck was actually a roasted salmon!

5. Upon seeing this strange occurrence, a Portuguese fisherman who happened to be standing on the other side of the street (and who was also, coincidentally, the resident expert on salmon) ran to scene and called 911, prompting Todd's speedy - albeit smelly - rescue.

 6. Naturally, Jane was distraught over the entire salmon/ice-cream truck affair , moreover considering that she was the one who had wanted the photo of that owlet; they were both avid birdwatchers, but she was particularly fond of the owlet.

 7. She had gone off owlets since then, and as she checked into the little hotel by the river, she wondered if she could find solace in the azure tit, a beautiful bird that, while easily spotted and hardly rare, at least had a name that sometimes made her giggle.

8.  Surrounded by beautiful little azure tits as she wrote in her journal to un-bird-en herself of thoughts of fish, and fowl, and Todd (who was slowly recovering, and would join her soon); and as room service arrived with her vegetarian plate; her phone vibrated, signaling a text....

9. Alas, the careful study of azure tits would have to wait as an urgent text message from the manager of the treatment center where Todd was hospitalized informed her that something truly extraordinary was happening to him.


30. The three of them left as quickly as they could and vowed never to return again, especially if Jane was in town. 

To pick up this story and run with it in her characteristically ingenious fashion, I would like to summon forth the mad literary skills of my fellow Centusian, Kat, from her blog, Emptynester.
Game on!

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