Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Work In Progress (Infinite Monkeys)

A Work In Progress:

Madonna and Lady Gaga are standing in line.
Madonna says, slut.
Lady Gaga says, takes one to know one.
Madonna says, famewhore.
Lady Gaga says, I’m rubber, you’re glue.
Madonna says, I’ll have a meatball sub.
The cashier says, That will be $8.62, for here or to go.
Madonna and Lady Gaga kiss passionately.
The universe, not knowing what else to do, creates Miley Cyrus.

Other couples, creations, and sandwiches I am considering substituting in to the final draft before publication: Dorothy Parker and Che Guevara, PB&J, a hoagie unless that is a generic term for a sandwich instead of a specific sandwich, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, your Momma, Hannah Montana, Lucy Lawless and a sentient toaster whose bagel setting doesn’t work, Buzz & Woody.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's my A To Z Blogfest Theme Reveal!

I'm taking part in the A To Z Blogfest, hosted by a bunch of people who are really amazing and you should thank them all and probably give them money but I can't remember who everyone is, so give me money instead.

Anyway, the A To Z thing will be on this blog, this year, and because this is a place for stories, mine will be a story, which I will get to in a second, but first I want to mention that

You will definitely want to bookmark this site because every day of the A To Z Challenge I am going to be giving away free books!  Seriously: Every day you will be able to get a free book and I will put the link into the post early on so you don't have to read the 30,000,000 words per post I'm going to put up.

Anyway, my theme for the A To Z Challenge is:

Letters are not just letters: they are concepts, ideas, abstractions-become-real, and then one day, the letter X decides that rather than continuing to exist as it always has, it wants...more.

And that is when the rest of the alphabet has to decide what to do about what X has done.

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVW  YZ is a story about life, and death, and the imaginary, and how we both create and are created by those things.  I think you will find it amazing, and almost completely unlike anything you have ever read.

Stop back in 10 days and see if you don't agree.

Plus, free books!

I've got a story on Inky Magazine!

Here's a teaser:


When the boy was too young to even know he was a boy the wave that was taller by half again than his dad (who, though the boy would never know this, was considered quite tall) swept over the island and washed away everything, including the boy. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fox News: "Obama Should Repay Taxpayers For Time Spent Doing NCAA Bracket"

Reprinted with permission from Fox:

Citing studies that show the US loses billions every year in worker productivity during the men's college basketball NCAA Tournament, Fox News reporters and pundits on Wednesday each spent a portion of their show demanding that President Obama repay the taxpayers for time spent filling out his own bracket.

Each year, the president spends upwards of 20 minutes showing how he filled out his tournament bracket, a news segment that has endeared him to sports fans and office-pool lovers alike, but this year, the move, coming on the heels of Obama's visit to a comedian's show, raised the ire of Fox News, which spent the day firing up conservatives with talk about how wasteful the move was.

Shepard Smith got the "Day To Repay", as Fox called it, rolling, with news graphics and a report on how much money the President actually  cost taxpayers.  "At $400,000 per year," Smith reported yesterday morning, "And assuming a 10-hour work day with two weeks off for vacation, Obama earns $160 dollars per hour, and that means that he blew $80 of tax payer money on this half-hour of frivolity."

On "The Five," the hosts discussed what $80 means to "average Americans," and Bob Beckel recounted the time he was suspended for a day without pay when his own boss caught him filling out a bracket instead of mopping the warehouse.  "Maybe the Americans should suspend the President for a day without pay," Beckel suggested.

Bret Baier's "Special Report" tracked four different bills, ranging from farm relief for drought farmers to a bill discussing maritime licensing, that were waiting for Obama's signature. Baier noted that Obama could have signed each bill during the time he spent "talking about Michigan State."  The remark set off a Twitter storm asking Baier what he had against Michigan State.

The remainder of the day continued the same way: Megyn Kelly showed her own bracket, which she had videotaped herself filling out "at home, last night, with my family" and wondered by Obama had not invited his daughters to do the same with him.  Sean Hannity featured interviews with people on the street, asking them whether they thought "The President should focus on the country's problems  instead  of doing an office pool," and a call-in poll showed 85% of his  viewers thought it inappropriate for the President to publicize his bracket.

Bill O'Reilly capped the day by nothing that in the history of the tournament, no president before Obama had ever claimed to have even filled out a bracket.  "Great presidents," said O'Reilly, "Rise above the partisanship of picking a favorite team of young men filled with hoop dreams, and instead root for all our young people to have a better future, even those that didn't go to his alma mater."

As of press time, the White House had no comment and would not confirm reports that Obama had been given permission to wear "team logo" clothes to work Thursday instead of his usual shirt and tie.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

“I Have Been Waiting So Long For My Prime Rib & Chicken Sizzlin’ Skillet, I Have Been Able To Read 7 Wikipedia Articles Chosen At Random.” (Infinite Monkeys)

“I Have Been Waiting So Long For My Prime Rib & Chicken Sizzlin’ Skillet, I Have Been Able To Read 7 Wikipedia Articles Chosen At Random.”

I really think that this is ridiculous, don’t you honey?  I mean, I have now just finished my seventh Wikipedia article at random, reading on my phone like a sucker, stuck in this booth and wondering if I should get a second refill of my diet Coke ™ before my food even arrives.
There is only so much a man can take, reading about Wyoming Highway 37 beginning at US Route 14A just east of Lovell, and continuing through the National Recreational Area and the Pryor Mountains  Wild Horse Range before crossing into Montana where it ends at a place called “Barry’s Landing,” and I am about at that point.
The point where I can’t take anymore, I mean. 
Look, that elderly couple? The ones who weren’t even out of their car as we walked across the parking lot and who you said were startled when I accidentally hit the ‘alarm’ button instead of the ‘lock’ button on the keys? They have their food.
You don’t suppose it was because we didn’t order appetizers, do you? Because I am trying to cut down, and the fact that my prime rib and juicy grilled seasoned chicken breast comes sizzling with fire-roasted peppers and onions alone makes it enough of a meal, even before I consider the sides of hash browns loaded with diced bacon and melted Cheddar cheese.
Don’t try to tell me it’s that some of the articles were short.  It’s not my fault that the entire entry for Ghafasi is only one sentence noting the town’s province and what Taounate it lies in, in Morocco.  They average out, after all, and I spent more than an average length of time learning that Rusty Hilger was picked 143rd in the 1985 NFL draft by the Los Angeles  Raiders, later becoming the only Raider rookie quarterback to play in a regular season game as well as the only Raider rookie quarterback to ever throw a touchdown pass. 
Maybe I looked so attentively at my phone, trying to figure out how to pronounce the family “Raphitomidae,” in case I ever was called on to discuss the gastropod mollusk from that family referred to in the Latin as “Pseudodaphnella intaminata,” that our waitress thought we should not be disturbed?  But if that’s the case, how come those two intense young men in the glasses, who have been quietly debating whether the cop knew the killer all along, without interruption, got their plates, heaped high with French fries and some sort of BLT-ish sandwiches?
Well, I couldn’t help but overhear them, and also to wonder why someone would order, at a restaurant, something that’s so easy to make at home?
But would it have killed our server to simply ask me if I could be bothered to have her put down the skillet, with its tortillas and pico de gallo sauce on the side, even though I was clearly engrossed in discovering that a ‘discrete group’ is a group G equipped with discrete topology, a mathematical concept that can help one understand the Bohr compactification or the theory of Lie groups in group cohomology?
No, I do not myself understand the Bohr compactification, and I doubt I ever will, the way my stomach is rumbling!
Plus, my diet Coke ™ is all watery from the ice melting.
See, now that group of girls, the busty ones? They weren’t even seated until after we placed our orders, but there they are, all with salads, obviously trying to show each other how they are sticking to their diets.
I wasn’t noticing their breasts.  I was just saying that they are busty.
I think you look fine.
Well, it wouldn’t hurt you, either, to pay some attention to me.  I saw you looking away when I relayed to you that the third single from Taylor Dayne’s second album, “I’ll Be Your Shelter,” was a departure from Dayne’s dance roots into a more pop/rock, mid-tempo type of song but still was marked by the intense vocals for which she had become known.
No, see? If you had been listening you’d know the song was “I’ll Be Your Shelter,” while the album was “Can’t Fight Fate.”  That’s my point!
I’m not just hungry.  But I am very hungry. I can’t even see our waitress anymore. Do you think maybe she went home? I’m not sure a server can leave when one of her tables is still waiting for their food. But all these other waitstaff don’t look like the ones walking around when we first were seated.
You can say that if you want, but even if I had been more focused on the fact that the Sulawesi Cuckoo is often known as the “Sulawesi Hawk-Cuckoo” even though it appears unrelated to other hawk-cuckoos than I was on simple courtesies like making sure you were not too cold or loaning you my sweatshirt, I’m pretty sure I’d have noticed if there had been a waiter like that, with his hair all… so…, when we were seated.

Ugh. My diet Coke ™ is almost pure water, now.  I should check my email.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

All These Things Happened On My Birthday (250=1)

All These Things Happened On My Birthday:

In 475 AD, Emperor Zeno fled Constantinople, surrendering control of the Byzantine Empire to Basiliscus. That much we know.  What we don’t know is what Basiliscus’ favorite song was . Basiliscus almost certainly had a favorite song: do you suppose that favorite songs arose only in the modern era?

As he stands on the steps of Constantinople’s capital, Basiliscus, holding up a spear, perhaps, bloodied but proud, his hair the kind of noble mess that only ancient gladiatorial rulers in metal chest plates can pull off, Basiliscus gazes out onto the streets, littered with bodies and starting to darken as the sun begins to set, far off in the West, where the Mediterranean Sea will appear to redden with the blood of his conquest.

His soldiers are securing the city.  They are going door to door in places, rooting out troops loyal to Zeno, scaring some of the populace and reassuring others.  Merchants are cowering within their shops, hoping that some of their wares survive the inevitable looting tonight.

Already, his personal guard is starting a bonfire.  Basiliscus can smell the burning wood torn off of some homes, and soon the smell of meat on spits will join it and the city will be alight with twenty-foot tall waves of celebratory flames.

And he is humming, almost unconsciously, a song, a little ditty about Anastasius and Diane, perhaps. His reign is going to last only until next August. Let him enjoy the moment.

In 250=1 I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title. I've written lots of them; here's a list.

Like short stories? Check out the collection of them in Just Exactly How Life Looks
The short stories here will introduce unforgettable people living remarkable lives. Cowboys wander in a timeless desert. Scientists meet in secret to plot a new way to get attention, and money, from people. A man and his would-be lover try to find lions on safari, and more. The people and places in this book spring to life fully-formed and full of anxiety and imagination. They worry about the time they have had and the time they have left. They bury their loved ones and look for new friends. They talk and laugh and hope and cry and die, while their friends and family and enemies and Gods watch them, seeing, in their faces and actions and fears, a portrait of just exactly how life looks.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Things I Think Are True About North Dakota. (Infinite Monkeys)

Things I Think Are True About North Dakota.

North Dakota was the 31st state, probably.  It has two senators in the U.S. Senate, almost certainly. It is located North of every other Dakota in the world, hence the name. If you tried to drive across North Dakota without stopping it would take you five hours but you wouldn’t get to stop at Wall Drug, which is not in North Dakota, now that I think about it.

I didn’t say

Don't mess with Texas... and the cheap car insurance you Texans can now get easily.

Everything's bigger in Texas! Steaks are the size of hubcaps, cooked on grills the size of Chevrolets, served by waitresses who are 10 feet tall... this sounds like kind of a cool movie, doesn't it? Even insurance premiums are bigger in Texas. Why, once I saw an insurance premium SO BIG it blotted out the sun and people thought there was an eclipse!

Of course, that's NOT a good thing. Who wants to pay more for car insurance than they have to? Not me, not you, not those 10-foot-tall waitresses. Life is hard enough for them, don't you think? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find nice shoes when you're ten foot tall? No, neither do I.

But no matter how tall you are, you can easily find cheap car insurance in Texas, just by clicking that link and providing a few basic pieces of information.  The service has been helping Texans find cheaper insurance since 2001, which is a really long time, since even the YEARS are bigger in Texas.

Car insurance is a must.  Even if your state doesn't require it (although many do) you're foolish not to have it, but like many things you HAVE to do, you'd rather pay as little as possible for it, and by clicking that link you'll get free quotes for the cheapest car insurance around.

Because did I mention FREE? I can't believe I didn't bring it up 'til now.  And when things are free in Texas, they (you guessed it) are more free than anywhere else. No, I don't know how that works, just roll with it, will you?

So click that link, get your free quote, get your car insurance for less, and then you'll have more money to tip that waitress, which is important because never tick off a 10-foot tall waitress with sore feet.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

If anything, this post is even more aggressively anticommercial than my usual ones, judging by how many pictures of kittens it doesn't have. (An IWSG Post)

This is an IWSG post.  For more about the Insecure Writers Support Group, click this link.

I have been writing now, 'officially', as it were, for... 


I only just realized how long it's been since I started writing again, and it's been 9 years, which surprised me because it honestly doesn't seem that long.

I began writing in grade school, as probably all writers did. Or did they? I think every writer I've ever read about began with stories they wrote early on in their life not because they were assigned to do that, but just because they liked to tell stories.

My first story ever was one called "Starhounds," and it was a Star Wars ripoff, in the sense that if you took the "Star Wars" script and replaced "Rebel Alliance" everywhere it appears with "Starhounds," you would have my story.  I'm pretty sure my villain was still called "Darth Vader."

The public reception to "Starhounds" was not encouraging, as shown by this ACTUAL RE-ENACTMENT: