Saturday, April 30, 2011

Robbing The Cradle, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Well it’s finally here, the 52nd week of Saturday Centus!  It was one year ago that our illustrious host, Ms. Jenny Matlock on her blog “off on my tangent,” first began her Saturday Centus meme.  Now a year later and with thousands of fans all over the world, it has become an iconic symbol for really short, short, short story writers everywhere.

I meant the stories are short, not us Centusians, although some of us are probably around five feet tall or so.  Not that it really matters, though.  Truman Capote was short, and he was a great writer.  So were Margaret Mitchell and Alexander Pope for that matter.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that in the writing world, anyway, size just doesn’t matter.

Boy, did I digress! 

I’d love to say that I was with Jenny for that first Saturday Centus and that this week also celebrates my one year anniversary, but that isn’t the case.  I didn’t discover Saturday Centus until week 2, but I’m happy to have been able to post a SC story each week since then.

Next week will my 52nd consecutive week of writing stories to these wonderful little prompts and photos Jenny provides us.  It really has been a labor of love on so many levels and I’m so appreciative to Jenny for making it all possible.

You need to pop on over to Jenny’s SC meme post this week to read the sweet and touching story about how Saturday Centus came to be.  It’s really a wonderful story and a real testament to the kindness and creativity of our beloved Ms. Matlock.  Just click on the Saturday Centus button and it will take you there!

In observance of this very special occasion, Jenny has given us a prompt which is very apropos.  This week we are to add our 100 words to the line “Although the traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper..."  The rules are the same except this week Jenny has graciously allowed us to add a picture to accompany our story.   Here is my story for this week.  I have entitled it:

Robbing The Cradle

“Happy Anniversary Darling,” Jeff said, handing his young wife an envelope.

“But our anniversary isn’t until Saturday…I haven’t gotten you anything yet!

“I know.  It’s all handled.  Although the traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, I wanted to make this year very special.  You are going to a fabulous concert by your favorite artist! 

“Justin Bieber?”  No way!  I’m so excited!  I love, love, love Justin Bieber!”

“I know, I know!”

“Wait.  There’s only one ticket in here.  Aren’t you coming with me to the concert?”

“Well, no I’m not.  And that’s your present to me.  Thank you, honey!”

Jenny Matlock

I married Miss Right. 
I didn't know her first name was Always.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Velveteen Weirdo, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Hail Centusians! 

It’s time once again for another fabulously fun foray into the frightfully fleeting fiction of Saturday Centus hosted by that famed flawless fireball of the blogosphere, Jenny Matlock at her blog, off on my tangent

This week our teacher, Ms. Jenny, has a real treat for us to help celebrate the Easter holiday, a big, bare-chested guy wearing a blue velvet bunny suit with a Playboy logo medallion!   

I swear sometimes Ms. Jenny can read our minds and just know exactly what we want for a SC prompt!   It’s uncanny!  And what says Easter better than a mustachioed, hairy-chested man doing his best come hither look wearing a blue crushed velvet bunny suit and sporting a porn magazine logo?  It is awesomeness in its truest (and bluest) form!

As you might have guessed, this week’s assignment is to use the supplied photo as a visual prompt for our 100-word stories.   It’s really a shame that we can’t use more than 100 words on such an awesome subject, but those are the rules and we can’t break the rules because that would throw the world into chaos, and we don’t want that, do we?  Yeah, um...we don't want...hmmm.

Hey!  Did one of you break the rules?

Anyway, thanks for such a festive and entertaining photo prompt, Jenny!  I’m sure we will all have fun with it.    Here is my submission for this week:

The Velveteen Weirdo

“Let me explain! 

I’ve been depressed lately, so I went to a psychologist for help.

To feel better about myself, he suggested I choose someone real or fictional whom I admired and assume their positive characteristics.  He suggested Neil Armstrong, Lou Gehrig, and Nelson Mandela as courageous, outspoken and interesting examples.

Well, I was undecided.  On one hand, I always admired Hugh Hefner.  On the other hand, my favorite story growing up was The Velveteen Rabbit.

I swear, officer, that’s why I am dressed like this.”

“Right, Harvey.  Tell your story to the guys at Belleview, you whackadoo!”

Jenny Matlock
Happy Easter Everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Review of "Sunbeams" by Claudia

Jenny Matlock

Well it's here boys and girls, week 50 of Saturday Centus!   This is the week we've all been waiting for with great anticipation because we knew that 50 weeks of short story writing was just too amazing to let go by without our lovely and charming teacher recognizing it in some fashion.

And rightfully so!  This isn't some ho-hum observance that doesn't mean anything like National Tweed Day or National Hernia Awareness Month, or for that matter, Tax Day for large corporations.  No, this is a celebration of writing well over one thousand tiny little stories, enough words to fill four or five good-sized novels!

In honor of this most special occasion, our most special host, Ms. Jenny Matlock of her blog off on my tangent has given us a most special assignment this week.  (And no, it's not repeating "most special" as many times as you can, but thank you for playing.)   This week we are to pick a Saturday Centus story from last week and do a 100-word review of it.  

Now that's interesting!  I've never done a review before and with such a great crop of stories to pick from with last week's "April Showers Bring May Flowers" prompt, it is going to be fun to give it a try.  

I've chosen to review the story "Sunbeams" from Claudia at her blog, Claudia's Page because I enjoyed the piece and love her writing style.  I will reprint her story below and include my 100-word review after it.


Jillian watched raindrops ramble down the window and felt as gray as the cloud-cluttered sky. Winter had been grueling with heavy snows, Ren’s cut in work hours, and the colicky baby.

Aunt Tillie would have some wit to stamp out the depression she was sure. She was always spouting things like “stitch in time”, “eggs in one basket” and such. Oh yeah, she’d say, “April showers bring May flowers”. Well, Jillian thought, I wish something would bloom in my life. 

Then she noticed a purple crocus in the yard, heard laughter coming from the crib, and felt mental sunbeams.

And here is my review of "Sunbeams" by Claudia:

Claudia’s latest Saturday Centus, “Sunbeams” demonstrates once again her amazing writing talents and how hers is inescapably the soul of an artist,  sculpting stories from slabs of literary marble into the perfect and beautiful pieces of art that they are.

Her story paints a visual portrait of a woman lost in melancholy by life’s circumstances.  As she wishes for relief from her sadness, she spots a flower poking through the ground and hears her baby laugh, metaphors for renewal or a new beginning possibly, and feels “mental sunbeams.”

A lovely turn of phrase for a wonderful, hopeful tale.

Jenny Matlock

I'm a godmother, that's a great thing to be, a godmother.
She calls me god for short, that's cute, I taught her that.

                                                  -  Ellen DeGeneres


Friday, April 15, 2011

A Modest Political Proposal

It has been a long, long time since I wrote a political rant.  Maybe too long.  Anyone who has followed the news lately knows that so much insanity has been going on in  politics in the last few weeks at both the federal and state level that just defies any semblance of reason or common sense.  So much so that my subconscious, apparently irritated at my inability to post anything about any of it, got me out of bed at 3am the other night, sat me down at my laptop and dictated these words that you see below.  

Conservative politicians complain about all the ballyhooing going on these days with progressives demanding equal rights for everyone and protesting to maintain collective bargaining rights so American workers can hold onto hard-fought concessions such as a living wage, health care benefits, a 40-hour work week, child labor laws, their pensions, health and safety standards and other benefits that Americans take for granted.

To the right it's all basically socialism in its most evil form, or Marxism or Fascism or Communism...they are all used interchangeably these days as you know.

They argue that insisting upon civil rights for every man, woman or child is not part of the Founding Fathers plan and therefore has to be wrong. So really they are being patriotic when they vote to restrict some people from the full complement of rights afforded to all the other people.   Voting to ban interracial and gay marriage or gay adoptions for example is all fine and well because the Founding Fathers never gave it their stamp of approval either.  And where the Founding Fathers fail to be narrow-minded enough, conservative politicians will pull out their trusty Holy Bible and tell you their twisted interpretation of this book's verse and how it spells out all the many ways we are all headed for eternal damnation.  These are not your run-of-the-mill church-going folk, these are the holiest of Christians imbued with special powers granted by God himself to arbitrarily deny people their civil rights and deprive certain people of life-giving assistance, especially to the sick and the poor.  (God evidently really, really hates the sick and the poor.)

With their Holy Bibles in hand these conservative politicians can freely decide who meets their strict standards of humanity and who falls short and doesn’t qualify for equal rights.  Sadly, apparently gays and people of color need not apply.  Also coming up short on their list of chosen believers are foreigners, the sick and crippled, people of other religious faiths, the poor, the elderly and smart-alecky intellectuals who prefer to use reason and logic instead of angry bluster and intimidation to get their points across.  Conservative politicians claim that logic is just cheating and that any self-respecting Christian has no need for thinking anyhow.

Behind this assemblage of self-righteous, knuckle-dragging, right-wing nutjobs are the corporatist despots led by the Koch brothers and their minions of slack-jawed, ignorant redneck conservatives and racist Tea Partiers.  Of course the Koch brothers don't speak publicly themselves, preferring instead to use their batcrap crazy spokesmorons, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin to spread their fear-mongering and lies. Plus you can't forget the other deranged, pathological lying piles of human waste at Fox News such as Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and their allies in the affront on reason, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Michael Savage and the rest of the Rethuglican talking heads.

 If there is one thing that is a complete certainty, it is that power, wealth and corruption will always win out over decency, fairness, justice, morality and honor.  The haves will never voluntarily cede control to the have-nots.  Not as long as they have billions of dollars to bankroll a movement that will prevent it.  Face it, fellow progressives, the battle for honest American values and democracy is lost.  What semblance of a democracy that exists is merely smoke and mirrors with only a few free-thinking, independent hold-outs left in government like Barrack Obama or Bernie Sanders still raging against the greedy power-hungry machine that has all but destroyed them.

It is only a question of time before we lose every bit of progress that our country has gained in the last one hundred years to these corporate overlords who own our country and practically every government official in it, so why not just save ourselves a lot of time, effort and frustration by just admitting defeat right now and falling into lock-step behind the ignorant masses of sheeple blindly swearing allegiance to a phony movement that waves an American flag back and forth and uses words like “Freedom” the way a hypnotist might use a shiny pocket watch to lull his weak-brained patient into giving up smoking?  With the top 1 percent already controlling almost all the wealth in this country, can you really see any other way this is going to play out?

Well, short of a revolution that is, and that prospect seems unlikely since most of the nitwits who support these breathtakingly stupid legislators and their outrageously draconian ideas are the same group of people who also own most of the guns in this country.

Here is what I think should happen.  David Koch should run for President of the United States.  Why waste time with more idiot puppets the likes of Gingrich, Huckaby, Paul and so on?  Lets skip all the formalities and call it what it really is…a corporate takeover.  Of course Koch will win in a landslide against Obama because he will pay whatever it takes to be sure of it.  Them good old boys will be more than happy to vote for Koch just for the sake of not having to look up to a black man, an unnatural act if ever there was one in the Deep South.

Having gained control of the country, Koch will immediately privatize everything because as everyone knows government services can’t possibly function as efficiently if there isn’t a profit motive involved.   Conservatives agree, why provide a best case scenario for schools or hospitals when you can simply cut or reduce the quality of the service while siphoning off their needed resources in the name of profits?  They feel it’s wasteful to spend money on the poor and needy anyway.  Ignore them and the problem fixes itself, right?.  Health services should be reserved for the elite few who have the wealth and status to afford privatized care.  Everyone else needs to die (except for the few they will keep around to harvest body parts from as necessary.)  

And die they shall, by the tens of thousands at first, as Koch removes every bothersome health and safety code regulation, every environmental restriction, and every common sense guideline that ever came between him and making a buck.  Yes, the Tea Partiers will finally have what they asked for all right.  No more federal controls.  It only stands to reason then that there will be tons more jobs and it will lead to the strongest economy on record, right?  Those dumb bastards drank their Kool-Aid and all the lies and bullshit that came with it and came back for seconds!  How pathetic!

Like a good corporate raider, he will of course sell off parts of the country to the highest bidders, keeping the profits for himself.   Every school, library, national park, hospital, museum, and so on will be put on the auction block and sold to his billionaire buddies so they could in turn do with as they wish.  We won’t need as many colleges and hospitals anyway because Koch will have rolled back wages to depression era times and widened the gap between the powerful wealthy elite and the common $5 a day wage slave.  No money will mean no mass production which means no jobs and more unemployment and poverty. 

After a few years of belching poisonous fumes into the environment and dumping toxic waste into our lakes, rivers, oceans, streams and landfills, the world will have become largely too polluted to sustain the billions of people still holding on to life.  With our livestock mostly dead or dying and our crops poisoned by pesticides, there won’t be enough food or clean drinking water to keep the billions of people in the world from dying.    Class wars will erupt gradually playing out as your stereotypical post-apocalyptic tale of violent roving gangs led by warlords who kill people indiscriminately and without the slightest hesitation while Koch and friends sit on the sidelines from their toxic-free air-conditioned hideaways and laugh at how he reduced an entire society to ruins for his own personal gain.

In the end, as we all begin dying by the billions from the toxic effects of radiation and acrid pollution of our air, land and water, and the depletion of the ozone layer we can all look back on this time in our history when so many conservatives clung fast to inbred hatreds, ignorant beliefs, narrow-minded ideals, phony patriotic fervor and the outright lies and fear-mongering perpetrated by Fox News and paid for by corporate billionaires who cared only for money and power and nothing for anything or anyone else.  And I bet there will still be those diehard conservatives left who will probably cast a smile at their surviving families as they take their final halting breaths and proclaim that it was all Obama’s fault. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

When It Rains, It Kills - A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

Welcome back lunatics, Centusians and various weirdniks of every persuasion to another of my weekly contributions to Saturday Centus, that indescribably fun writing meme hosted by Ms. Jenny Matlock (yes, THE Ms. Jenny Matlock) of “off on my tangent” blog fame. 

For those of you following along each week, this is week #49 of this challenging writing meme which is about writing short, short, tiny little stories that you can read on the toilet in less time than it takes to get the paper off the roll unless you use a lot of paper, in which case a different analogy would be better. 

What?  Not everyone brings their computers with them when they go to the bathroom?  How bizarre!  That’s like not making toast while you are taking a bath.  You’re missing out on one of life’s simple pleasures if you don’t!  Just saying!

Anyway, Ms. Jenny has given us a wonderful little phrase, or prompt as we like to call it, to base our teeny-tiny, itty-bitty stories on this week.  Borrowing from an old Al Jolson refrain, this week’s prompt is “April showers bring May flowers...”  As usual I am adding my 100 words to the prompt and concocting something twisted to entertain you and try to make you go “huh?” which as we all know is the goal of any writer living at my house.

Given the bizarre political climate of late I feel compelled to use this forum to blow off a little steam.  I apologize in advance to anyone who takes offense.  For those that do, just have a Democrat explain it to you and you will feel better.  No worries.

I have entitled this eentsy-weentsy bit of subversive literature:

When It Rains, It Kills

(Sometime in the near future)

He awoke to another bleak, rainy morning.  The traffic report blared over his clock radio before switching back to news.

News.   More like lies and propaganda.

He laughed at the thought of it still being called news.  Ever since the Republican Party, backed by corporate interests, had seized control of the country and handed it over to wealthy industrialists, life hadn’t been the same. 

Power and greed ruled.

Coal plants burned with no environmental regulations at all releasing toxins which poisoned lakes and streams and killed vegetation.

Pollution and acid rain prevailed.

April showers bring May flowers?”  Not anymore. 

Jenny Matlock

April showers bring May flowers…but Mayflowers bring Pilgrims


Friday, April 8, 2011

Searching for Closure, A Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

Well I’m afraid it’s another late effort this week Saturday Centus fans!  I really wanted to participate on Saturday but academia smacked me upside the head with a couple of term papers instead, and since I pay for school and SC is free, I went with that.

So before it’s too late and my streak or SC’s comes to a grinding halt, I thought I better try to whip one out before I start my next paper.  So much to do, so little time!  Of course who would know that better than our mentor and spiritual advisor on this quest for publication bliss, Ms. Jenny Matlock from her famed blog, “off  on my tangent.”

Maybe next time Jenny can write my professor a note excusing me from the assignment.  What do you say Jenny?   You could explain that writing dissertations was hampering my creative writing abilities and creating unrest in the Centusian community. 

You could explain to my professor that unless Tom was permitted to write his SC on Saturday where it would get read by more people, that he could expect to be the unfortunate recipient of dozens of extremely well-written but very short letters of protest from Tom’s fellow Centusians.

While I wait for that to happen, here is my week 48 Saturday Centus just squeaking in under the proverbial wire like my dear baby girl did last week.  This week’s prompt is “Exit 181, 1/2 mile ahead...”  Please click on the SC button for all the rules and for a list of the stories written by people who, unlike me, tend to post their short stories on time.

I have entitled this week’s piece:

Searching for Closure

Sunshine danced through the trees as the van trundled down the road.  The bright hues of the autumn leaves brought back so many memories.  Six years had passed and yet his recollection of that night was just as vivid as if it were yesterday.  His pulse raced with excitement as they grew closer.  The road sign read “Exit 181, ½ mile ahead.”  He let out a little chuckle and smiled.

“Up there by that old oak tree!  Stop over there!” 

The van stopped.  He jumped out and ran toward a log some 30 yards away.

“Right here,” he gloated.  “This is where I buried her body.” 

Jenny Matlock

When did wild poodles ever roam the earth?


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