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


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