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!

Blogs I Am In Awe Of