Archive for writing

Arts and Farts and Crafts – Saying Goodbye

Posted in arts and farts and crafts with tags , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by uglydudefood

Arts and Farts and Crafts is a weekly artistic challenge. Every Thursday, a new prompt will be posted here on Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude. Then, you will create some sort of media based on the prompt. Is it a rhyming couplet? A ten-page story? A photograph? A drawing? A recipe? Whatever you’d like. As long as your piece of art is a new creation and it’s vaguely inspired by the week’s prompt, it’s in!

To enter, post your entry on your blog. Then, e-mail me at MSTrox@gmail.com with a link to your entry. I will then make a round-up post sharing your art on my website, as well as the requisite linkage.

This week’s theme?

Saying goodbye.

Today is my good friend Nichole’s last day at work.  Will we ever see her again?  I sure hope so.  Without her, Arts and Farts and Crafts is just a lonely ol’ me posting his lonely ol’ stuff.  Also, life will be kind of boring and depressing all-around (even in that strange, mysterious non-Internet world).

Also, here’s this! Not my favorite, but it’ll do as an Arts and Farts and Crafts Rough Draft.

http://www.metacafe.com/fplayer/83654/muppets_saying_goodbye.swf
Muppets Saying Goodbye

So my entry for this week has nothing to do with leaving your friends behind…well, not really.

Welcome to your last day on Earth.
It’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it?  I’m sorry to say that it’s almost over.  Was it a good life?  Wait, don’t tell us.  We have to get it in writing.  If you’re not too busy, we’d like you to fill out these survey cards.
What I need for you to do is to read this form.  Check the boxes next to the answers.  “Not at all?”  “To some extent?”  “Very much so?”  “Don’t know?”  So you go through and you answer all of these questions and then you get to move on and enjoy your last day.  I promise.
Mmm hmmm.
Mmmmm hmmm.
Good.
All right then.  Now we just have a little bit of paperwork to go over and you can go about your business.
Sign here.
And here.
Sign and date here.
Print your name, please.
And sign here and here.
Hey, don’t cry.  You’re one of the lucky ones.  Some of us have to work customer service.  We’re just about done!  It’s just about over.  Just imagine what it will be like when you walk out this door.  Will there be clouds?  Harps?  Beautiful, naked women?  I can’t tell you.  This is where I stop.  I stop here.  I can’t go on to heaven.  Not yet.
Listen.  You’re going to get a call when you get to heaven.  Maybe in about five days.  They’re going to ask you a series of questions.  Eight questions.  Did you enjoy your life?  What were the best qualities of your life?  What, if anything, would you change?  You know.  Standard quality-control questions.  But here’s the important part.  They’re going to ask you about me.  About how I eased your passage from one world to the other.  They’re going to ask you to rate me on a scale from one to five–one being the worst and five being the best.  Let me give it to you straight.  The ratings system is a little skewed, and here’s what I mean.  If you give me anything from a one to a four, it’s automatically a zero.  A five is the only thing that registers for me.  Can I trust you to do me that one favor?
Good.  Didn’t mean to put you on the spot like that.  It’s just very important.
Listen, kid.  You’re going to be great up there.  First of all, there’s no problems.  Sure, I mean, there could be problems.  What do I know?  But I have it on pretty good authority that everything is sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows up in heaven.  If not literally, than at least figuratively.  You’re finally going to get that girlfriend you’ve always wanted.  Or boyfriend.  I mean, up in heaven they don’t care about that stuff.  They just want you to be happy.  If it makes you happy to get Tinky Winky all stinky?  Well, it’s not my way, but by-gum if I’m going to stop you.
Okay, okay.  So you don’t have any of those urges.  Then what’s holding you back?  Listen, kid.  This isn’t some cock-and-bull story.  This is the end and the beginning.  Think of your time on earth as a military tour of duty.  Does it suck?  Yes.  Yes, it sucks, but that’s war.  But eventually you’ll get discharged.  Some day you’re going to make it to that golden land, where there’s always somebody to push your prematurely crippled body around in a wheelchair.  Today is that day.  All you need to do is sign here at the “X” and again down below.
Well, it looks like the day is dying.  The sun is setting and so soon will you.  I hope you had a great life, and thank you for spending your time with us today.


I’m pleased to say that we have another entry this week. It’s Clara of IHeartFood4Thought. In last week’s comments, she posted a haiku! Our first Arts and Farts and Crafts poem!

Haiku for Ugly Dude’s Nichole

In good times and bad
Boyz II Men said it the best
Hard to say goodbye


Nichole will probably have an entry this week, and maybe some others. Please spread the word about Arts and Farts and Crafts to any of your artsy, fartsy, crafty friends. The more people that play along, the more motivated I am to keep writing (I’m determined not to let my English degree go to waste).

Next week’s theme is forthcoming.

Entries can be submitted in any medium. The end-date for submissions is Thursday August 7. Be sure to notify me at MSTrox@gmail.com!

Advertisements

Arts and Farts and Crafts – The Wind Beneath My Wings

Posted in arts and farts and crafts, fiction with tags , , , , on July 24, 2008 by uglydudefood

Arts and Farts and Crafts is a weekly artistic challenge. Every Thursday, a new prompt will be posted here on Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude. Then, you will create some sort of media based on the prompt. Is it a rhyming couplet? A ten-page story? A photograph? A drawing? A recipe? Whatever you’d like. As long as your piece of art is a new creation and it’s vaguely inspired by the week’s prompt, it’s in!

To enter, post your entry on your blog. Then, e-mail me at MSTrox@gmail.com with a link to your entry. I will then make a round-up post sharing your art on my website, as well as the requisite linkage.

This week’s theme?

If I hear one more “you are the wind beneath my wings” I’m going to vomit. Literally. All over the floor and hopefully on Miss Suzie’s shoes. She’s a curmudgeon of a woman. 4.’11?, 80, and nosey as hell. I’m hope it has chunks. My vomit. Slouching in my chair I eyeball the happy couple. My best friend and my ex-fiancée together for ever. And their wedding song.

You Had Me From Hello

Said hello came when I finally arranged for my life long best friend to meet my fiancée.

I hope they choke on the wedding cake. Or possibly get a tin can stuck in the wedding car’s exhaust pipe. Karma happens.

I took a bit of a run with it. I don’t actually get to the aforementioned wedding. Or the wedding. And I didn’t actually write a story, but just a dialogue (it’s my playwright roots, I guess). I like making dialogue and the rest of the stuff bores me sometimes.

So think of this as a dialogue-only prequel to the actual prompt. Of all the Arts and Farts and Crafts so far, this one may be the most worth-developing to me.

You Had Me From Hello

Very Hank

“Hello.”
“Hello.”
“How are you?”
“I’m engaged.”
“Oh, congratulations! I’m single. To mingle.”
“I’m also fine, thanks for asking.”
“You’re most welcome. Do you have a ring?”
“Oh, yeah, sure, right here.”
“That’s a nice looking ring. I’m Bruce, by the way.”
“Bruce. Pleasure. I’m Juanita.”
“Juanita? Interesting. You don’t look very…”
“Very…”
“You don’t look very Juanita.”
“Well, I am. I’m not Hispanic, though. The help was named Juanita.”
“Named after the maid.”
“My father insisted.”
“Of course.”
“She was prettier than my mom.”
BEAT
“So where’s…Mr. Juanita?”
“Over there. That’s Hank.”
“Oh. Hank. He looks very Hank.”
“He is. He is very Hank.”
“Oh…that’s a shame. I’m sorry to hear that..”
“It’s okay most of the time.”
“Oh, yeah, no, I’m sure.”
“I’m not interested, though, Bruce.”
“I’m just giving this my best shot.”
“My plate’s already full.”
“Well, there’s always room for some meat on the side.”
*eye roll*
“Dessert? I wasn’t sure what was the better line.”
“I’m already cheating on Hank. With his best friend, actually.”
“His best friend.”
“Rudolph.”
“Rudolph.”
“Mmm hmm.”
“Rudolph. Rudolph. Big red nose? And…?” *gestures antlers*
“You’re very funny, Bruce. Bye.”

The Wind

“Hello?”
“Hello.”
“How was your day?”
“Oh, you know. Pretty good. Yours?”
“What did you do today?”
“Well, same-old, really. Stapled some letters. Mailed some letters. Opened some letters.”
“No kidding.”
“It’s the circle of life and it moves us all. How was yours?”
“Hank.”
“What’s up?”
“Hank.”
“Yeah?”
“We need to talk.”
“You know I’m always here to talk.”
“Are you going to talk or are you just going to sit there an say ‘uh-huh?'”
“Is that what I usually do?”
“Yes.”
“Then that is probably what I’ll do now.”
“Good. I don’t want you to say anything anyway.”
“Then it’s settled. Agreed?”
“Agreed.”
BEAT
“So go on. Talk at me.”
“I think it’s time we went different ways.”
“Uh-huh.”
“I’m just…we’re just not happy, are we?”
“Well.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I saw it coming anyway.”
“What? No you didn’t. When?”
“Well, probably around the time you started sleeping with Rudolph.”
“No! I wouldn’t do…don’t be paranoid.”
“No, he told me.”
“When?”
“The first time you did it. He felt pretty bad about it.”
“That was two years ago!”
“Yeah, it sure was.”
“And you didn’t say anything?”
“You were happier.”
“What kind of person doesn’t-”
“Well, you know.”
“Is there anything more to say?”
“I’m keeping the Muppets on Ice tickets.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Hank. Bye.”

So there’s that.

Nichole finally has her own blog, so she can post her own stories!  Here’s an excerpt of her piece:

But apparently not for some time for me. In my peripherals I see Wes sidling closer to me avoiding Miss Suzie’s pink taffeta monstrosity of a dress – no small feat. I try to edge away in the opposite direction only to trip on a bowling pin left over from some poor attempt of a dance ice breaker. I watch in a disinterested sort of way as the ballroom floor rushes up to catch me. I mid flight I feel a jerk and with a numb terror realize Wes had attempted to catch me by yanking on the purely decorative swash of fabric draped over one hip. A rip…and I was on the floor, dress less.

Next week’s theme, as selected by me:

Saying goodbye

Let’s honor my friend Nichole’s exit from our workplace by writing stories about saying goodbye (ps this will be significantly less fun if nobody else participates :-p)

Entries can be submitted in any medium. The end-date for submissions is Thursday July 31. Be sure to notify me at MSTrox@gmail.com!

Things I Love

Posted in baking, food, health, movies, personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2008 by uglydudefood

Black marble composition books.  I own boxes full of them, and they’re pretty much all empty.  There’s something nostalgic about these things.  I was forced to write “journal entries” in these during Sunday School when I was little.  I remember quite clearly answering a prompt about Moses with a longwinded answer about Moses Malone.  I was a smartass even then.

These things also symbolize hope for me.  100 sheets; 200 pages.  Blank and ready for me to fill them with my amazing ideas (or poop jokes).  Any time I see them available in a store, I buy at least one.  I never write anything in them.  I have boxes full of the things.  I love them more than anything.

Also pictured:  Star Wars bedsheets.  These date back to the Special Edition days, so there’s not a Ben Quadrinaros or Count Dooku in sight.  This is the way it should be.

Reviews are coming in for early episodes of the Star Wars:  Clone Wars cartoon, and they’re overwhelmingly positive.  Star Wars has been a pasttime for me since birth, and a bit of an obsession for me since about 1997.  I’ve read the books that tell you the backstories of all those stupid puppet aliens in the Cantina.  I amassed thousands of dollars worth of toys (which I am now selling for far less than their current market value, plug plug).  It’s good to have something Warsy to be excited about again.

I guess it’s good to have anything to be excited about.  For the last few years, I’ve been seperating my “blog life” from my personal life (for the most part).  When I stopped personal-blogging, I think I stopped personal-living as well.  I holed up in my iPod and my personal computer, attempting to one-up my own silly jokes for a readership of three people.  I hid myself away; developed a fashionable eating disorder; lost contact with my closest friends; and generally stopped feeling anything at all.  I used to think people that said, “I don’t feel anything anymore” were full of James Dean bullshit, but then I stopped feeling things.

Last night I went out to dinner with my family.  We went to Italian Delight in Linglestown, PA.  My parents have been pretty regular customers since they discovered the place, and I’ve been there a few times.  It’s a nicer sit-down establishment than a lot of pizzerias (such as Tonino’s, my favorite Harrisburg slice joint).  The restaurant recently changed ownership apparently, and the pizza recipe appears to have changed (for the worse, but it’s still decent).  I had the grilled chicken salad.  Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, pickles, black olives, peppers, and enough chicken to make you feel like you’re getting your eight dollars’ worth.  It was nice to have an evening with just my parents.

Tonight I went for an hour’s walk and grabbed a coffee from Starbucks.  I’m not particularly fond of their new Pike’s Place blend, but it’s a hot drink and I like the store’s atmosphere.  Maybe I could fill more composition books if I became cliche and sat around Starbucks.  Or at the very least I’d start wearing scarves and ill-fitting black sweaters.

Keep your eye on Ugly Movies for the latest reviews.  I’ve been adding movies as I see them, and also crazy amounts of older movies.  I saw The Incredible Hulk tonight, which was super-fun popcorn viewing.

Coming next week:  The Dark Knight, which promises to be the movie of the summer.  Also, The X-Files:  I Want to Believe, which excites me more for some reason (possibly because I am retarded).

What else is there in life?  My girlfriend’s name is Rachel.  We recently had a rough go of things, but we’re working hard.  These things take effort, right?

I’ve been without a car since early May, but that will soon be remedied.  I’m getting a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid in the next couple weeks.  I could wave my fanny in the air and talk about “blah blah blah emissions” and “save the earth fiddle dee dee,” but really I am buying this car for the superior gas mileage.  I do most of my selfless things for selfish reasons (and, oddly enough, vice versa).

It’s Saturday night, and I’m relaxing and blogging.  I think it’s time to start filling up some composition books.

Arts and Farts and Crafts Week 4 – Naked in NYC

Posted in arts and farts and crafts, fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

Arts and Farts and Crafts is a weekly artistic challenge. Every Thursday, a new prompt will be posted here on Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude. Then, you will create some sort of media based on the prompt. Is it a rhyming couplet? A ten-page story? A photograph? A drawing? A recipe? Whatever you’d like. As long as your piece of art is a new creation and it’s vaguely inspired by the week’s prompt, it’s in!

To enter, post your entry on your blog. Then, e-mail me at MSTrox@gmail.com with a link to your entry. I will then make a round-up post sharing your art on my website, as well as the requisite linkage.

This week’s theme?

An amnesiac man wakes up naked standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour. He doesn’t know how he got there, and his only clue is an iPod strapped to his arm in a runners band. It contains the audiobook of Dante’s Inferno, a jingle for Wrigley’s, every work done by Beethoven, and the sound of a door shutting on an infinite loop.

My goal with this piece was to take the clearly “zany” prompt (chosen by my friend Nichole) and turn it into something poignant or at least serious.

Because symphonies are involved in the prompt, I decided to write in symphony form.  I lost my interest in following symphonic form somewhere along the way, mainly because this is supposed to be a fun freewrite.  I don’t believe I’ll be expanding upon this entry, but I’ll definitely keep the “symphony” form in mind for future writing–especially poetry.

Here is my entry.

Unfinished Symphony

First Movement (Allegro)

Overture. Open eyes. Pavement. Flesh. Strings swell.

Confusion. I look down and see my protrusion. Praying that it’s all an illusion; no obvious conclusion.

Motion. Locomotion. No emotion. Nothing but an ocean of commotion. Hustle; bustle; rush; no hush. I look down and blush. A nude, lewd dude waiting to be booed by some prude. Screwed.


Second Movement

So this must be amnesia. I know that much. In fact, for somebody who has forgotten everything, I seem to know quite a bit. I know that ball of feathers over there is a pigeon. I know that lump under the blankets is a homeless person (and I know that if I had money to give them, they would just spend it on alcohol). Nobody is reacting to my hideous nakedness, so I know that I am in New York. I can read the letters on the side of every building. “Toys ‘R’ Us” on my right; “TKTS” in the middle of the road. How can I know all of this, but I don’t remember my name?

How does the brain know what to forget?

Do I need some sort of visual stimulus to remind me? If my father is still alive and I see him walking down the street, will I recognize him? Does my brain file things in a “vault”-a sort of elementary school permanent record, locked away and never to be seen again? In amnesia, does my brain automatically forget personal information? Does it not want to remember?

You only “remember” the stuff you think about anyway. You don’t walk down the street and “remember” a duck, or even “remember” the fact that ducks exist. When you see a duck, you know. That’s when you truly believe. That’s when you truly believe in a duck. So maybe my brain is normal. There’s no vault. There’s no forgetting. There’s just me. I don’t want to think about my past, and so I do not remember my past. I don’t believe in my past, and I don’t believe in myself.

There is no Cornelius Weatherberry (which, for all I know, is my given name). There is only Naked Man, resplendent in his opalescent, paste-white glory.

What happened to my clothes? Don’t know, don’t care, don’t want to think about it. Why do I have this MP3 player strapped to my arm? Don’t know, don’t care, don’t want to think about it. I shuffle through the music like a coroner picking through the wallet of a body at a grisly crime scene. Every piece of available information can be used to identify the corpse. In my case: slim pickings. The abridged Inferno by Dante, divided into nine tracks to represent the nine circles of hell; the sound of a door shutting; the complete works of Ludwig Von Beethoven; the complete collection of Wrigley’s gum commercial jingles.

The eclectic mix of words, music, and sounds? Don’t know, care, et cetera. It’s the statement of a great mint. It’s Doublemint gum.

I chose Party Shuffle, because I bet I liked to party in my previous life.

Track one.

For such defects, and not for other guilt,
Lost are we and are only so far punished,
That without hope we live on in desire.”

Great grief seized on my heart when this I heard,
Because some people of much worthiness
I knew, who in that Limbo were suspended.

“Tell me, my Master, tell me, thou my Lord,”
Began I, with desire of being certain
Of that Faith which o’ercometh every error,

“Came any one by his own merit hence,
Or by another’s, who was blessed thereafter?”

Boring. SKIPPED.

Track two.

A door closes.

Track three.

Four notes. Over and over again. Beethoven’s fifth symphony. Boring. There are other notes, you see, than those four. Dum dum dum DUM! Dumb dumb dumb dumb; SKIPPED.

Track four.

A door closes.

Track five.

A door closes.

Track six.

When the exasperated soul abandons
The body whence it rent itself away,
Minos consigns it to the seventh abyss.

It falls into the forest, and no part
Is chosen for it; but where Fortune hurls it,
There like a grain of spelt it germinates.

It springs a sapling, and a forest tree;
The Harpies, feeding then upon its leaves,
Do pain create, and for the pain an outlet.

Like others for our spoils shall we return;
But not that any one may them revest,
For ’tis not just to have what one casts off.

Track seven.

Freedent Gum won’t stick to most dental work.

Track eight.

Of a new pain behoves me to make verses
And give material to the twentieth canto
Of the first song, which is of the submerged.

Boring. You are boring me.

Track nine.

So kiss a little longer
Hug a little longer
Stay close a little longer
Longer with Big Red.

I remember. A door closes.

Third Movement (Minuet and Trio)

Eyes. Blue-grey. Hair. Dark-brown. Kiss. Too-wet. Laughs. Too-dry. Smile. Wide-gapped.

Gone for-good.

Drink too-much. Strip to-none. Climb too-high. Jump too-far. Land on-head.

Fourth Movement (Rondo)

So laugh a little longer
Make it last a little longer
Give your breath long lasting freshness-
With Big Red!

____________________________________
Here’s Nichole’s entry for this week. It pairs nicely with last week’s entry, and maybe they’ll all come together like in Heroes and save the cheerleader!

Okay, I wasn’t intentionally trying to direct this piece, but for some reason it decided at last minute it wanted to be a part of last weeks challenge. Oh well. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with Norse mythology, here’s a little bit on the ones I mentioned.

Loki is the god of mischief. He is often portrayed as an evil god or at the very least, one that has a screwed up moral compass. He is often the nemeses of Thor and Odin.

Odin is the Norse equivalent of Zeus. He’s the head of the pantheon and father to Thor among others. Odin is the god of War, Death, Poetry and Wisdom.

Muninn is one of the two ravens that belong to Odin. Muninn is memory and the other, Huginn, is thought. These two travel the world everyday and return to Odin every night to sit on his shoulder and tell him what they saw and heard.

Thor is the god of Thunder and while that does not sound particularly powerful, Thor is one of the most powerful gods in the Norse pantheon. He is also a well liked god because unlike Odin he does not require human sacrifice. Thor is known as a protector from evil for both human and gods.

And now to the response…

I found out that hard way that shutting your eyes is not an effective way to hide. But it was my only defense. It worked for five year olds, it could work for me…right? My head ached in tune with my heart. Thump, thump, thump. Wait a minute. What the.

The wind picks up a bit shivering around my dangly bits, and slaps a small cord against my arm. A small cord that leads to a iPod strapped high up on, if I may say so myself, a well muscled bicep. My headache intensified as I concentrated on the thumping which strangely enough was not that of my heart as I first assumed, but that of what sounded like a door. A door that was stuck in a permanent loop of slamming shut and then open and then shut again.

Flashing light caught my attention and I looked up to watch two patrol cars screeching to a painful, jolting halt. Three cops pushed through a Japanese couple who were tacking frantic pictures in my direction and a teenager with an obscenely color blinding combination of clothing chomping on a rather large wad of gum. I watched them stomp closer calmly. Why was I calm? Why shouldn’t I be? It’s not like I could successfully run away and hide. I was naked. Completely and utterly bare. And I had no reason to feel guilty. I didn’t even know where the hell I was, not to mention all the other minor things in life. Such as a name, a history, I.D., etc.

(Skip rest of scene – to police station – finish later)

The station on 43rd was as cold and barren as one would expect. It was also raucous which completely eclipsed the slightly guilty feeling creeping up in my throat. Did I do anything bad recently? Not anything I knew about, but hell, feeling guilty must be what normal people felt when they entered a police station and I wasn’t going to be any different than anyone else. (At least I thought normal people felt such emotion upon entering a station, but as things stood I really had no idea.)

Officer McAllister, a petite woman with flint grey eyes gave me a look that made my testicles pull up underneath my scratchy emergency blanket. I am pathetic. I stood up straighter towering over her quite unintentionally. And then stepped back as her look became every scarier. This woman probably ate alligators live…for breakfast. Breakfast of champions.

The remaining two officers (out of the three sent to arrest me), including the alligator lady, directed me towards a room on the far end of the station. We had to step over two fallen chairs (victims in a war involving a man waving a stapler in a most threatening fashion) and detour around a lady that had managed to stick an entire wad of dripping toilet paper to her forehead. It slid slowly towards her right temple. I don’t think a naked man is the police’s biggest concern at the moment. And to be fair. I’m no longer naked. I have a toga…made out of a scratchy wool blanket, but still a toga.

Two men in cheap black suits swung from suspended fluorescent lights. I craned my head around Officer Nielsen (a hulking example of broad muscles and blonde hair) to watch a complicated release maneuver that failed and landed the man directly into a small trash can, butt first. My fascination with the stuck man faded though when I was shoved directly into the small room and shut the door.

Okay.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” A tired voice second my unspoken thought of ‘what the hell.’

A man giggled. “Nope.”

I gave a brief look to the nondescript man in a colorful tie standing in the corner. He was giving me an unsettling grin so wide that I could see all four of his canines. Just a bit creepy. I quickly shifted attention to the other man in the room. Tired brown eyes watched me before switching to the creep.

“He’s going to help me stop Ragnarök?”

Hold up…what? What does that mean?

The creepy dude cackled and the hair on my arms stood up and did the hula. No I’m serious. They did.

“Loki.” The man at the desk was angry. I was confused. And concerned. And a tiny bit cold. Hey! I’m half naked here.

The iPod sudden switched to a monotone voice. “There is no greater sorrow/Than to be mindful of the happy time/In misery.”

“What the hell?” I scrabbled at my makeshift toga unintentionally flashing the creepy man in my haste to reach the long forgotten iPod (that had still been opening and shutting a door continuously). I twisted my arm about and looked the display safe in it’s clear plastic case. It read.

Dante’s Inferno. Longfellow Translation. Inferno (V, 121).

I glanced at Loki who had suddenly become solemn. He directed his next phrase to the tired man. “He’s one of Odin’s, Muninn.”

The other man sighed. “An amnesiac man. Ironic.”

An amnesiac man wakes up naked standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour. He doesn’t know how he got there, and his only clue is an iPod strapped to his arm in a runners band. It contains the audiobook of Dante’s Inferno, a jingle for Wrigley’s, every work done by Beethoven, and the sound of a door shutting on an infinite loop.

Next week’s theme is as follows:

Use a character (or characters) from a preexisting work of fiction in next week’s entry.

Entries can be submitted in any medium. The end-date for submissions is Thursday July 17. Be sure to notify me at MSTrox@gmail.com!

Arts and Farts and Crafts Week 1: Writing – “Tar and Feathers”

Posted in arts and farts and crafts, fiction with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2008 by uglydudefood

We’ve decided to take a more “mixed media” feel to our artsy-fartsy challenge (once called “Writer Wrong”), so I’ve decided to call it “Arts and Farts and Crafts” in reference to one of my favorite films.

Next week’s medium is PHOTOGRAPHY. The theme is OUTDOORS. If anybody would like to play along, create some new art by Thursday following these rules, blog about it, and let me know.

For this week, our theme was based on an e-mail from my friend Nichole.

Peering through Venetian blinds I got my first look at the fuchsia demons. They perched innocently upon my Kentucky Blue in numbers approaching a hundred. Pink Flamencoes. Evil in plastic form.

In Florida there is a boy scout fund raising gimmick where they stick a lot of plastic flamencoes into some persons yard. They helpfully provide a sign stating “You have been Flocked by Troop#___” And then you are asked to “donate” to the troop in return for having the flamencos removed from your lawn.

Using that as inspiration, I freewrote this. Not great. I’m a little rusty, but I should be getting back into it soon. For now, I’ll just Frankenstein the pieces I like out of this and use them elsewhere.

Tar and Feathers

I pull down a slat in my Venetian blinds. Behind the blinds: nothing but a sea of blazing pink swimming with vacant, black eyes. Maybe a tree here or a rock there. Some grass–Kentucky Blue. But mostly just plastic pink flamingos standing ever-motionless with legs crossed in figure-fours. Fuschia demons basking in both the brightness of stagnant Frankfurt sunlight and the joy of blinding me.

The neighbors must be going batshit insane. The neon birds clash with the peeling, pale-blue paint of my ranch house like some terrible cotton candy concoction. Nothing I can do about it now.

There was a time when I could have stopped it. I would look through the blinds every morning to see houses and fields and sky and eventually, in some far-off place I’d never venture–mountains.

Then it was there.

Just a stupid lawn ornament. Some idiot kid probably stole it off the three-square-foot lawn in front of some ramshackle trailer from that community outside of town that’s filled with so many telephone poles it’s practically canopied with wires. It wasn’t worth the time and mental anguish to leave my house and remove the eyesore. Over the ensuing days, the collection grew and grew and grew and grew and all I could do was stare through the slats. Now there’s nothing else. Only pink.

There’s an old folktale about the creation of the earth. My mom used to read it to me at bedtime. Some ancient deity created the world in seven days. He started with the land, followed shortly thereafter by the sea and the sky. Threw some plants into the mix–palm trees and potatoes and those stupid spiky things that get stuck to your clothes. Then he created the animals, starting with the dumber amoebas and working his way through bark beetles, buzzing bumblebees, teeny-weeny mice, redheaded woodpeckers, bushy-tailed squirrels, raccoons with masks, until finally he ended with humans. Then he created Richard the Lionhearted, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Colonel Sanders, and your grandma. On the seventh day, he was exhausted so he took a vacation. On the eighth day, he realized that the teenagers had nobody to make fun of, so he created me.

No matter where I go, the hooligans always find me. The teens tire pretty quickly of the dumb old favorites–ding-dong-ditch, poo-in-a-flaming-bag, what-have-you–and come up with some dumb new favorites to take their place. They place fresh fish under the windshield wipers of my beat-up old Plymouth Breeze, so that when I eventually exit my house the fish are baked onto the window, covered with flies, and filled with maggots. No matter where I go. I seem to be made to suffer. It’s my lot in life.

I look back out the window. Can it be that there’s even more pink than previously? It’s hard to tell now. There are so many birds. Where are these things coming from? Kids must be calling all K-Marts across the country looking for damned lawn ornaments.

My pops used to tell me tales of amazing rains. Once, he told me, the world was actually covered entirely in water. Some vengeful god was tired of the sex and the drugs and the rock and roll, so he pissed all over the earth until everybody drowned. Then, one guy and his wife repopulated the whole of humanity. He saved us from drowning in water, but doomed us to an eternity drowning in overpopulation–an ocean full of incest-bred siblings.

My pops used to tell me lots of tales. Used to drink a lot of whiskey, too.

My refrigerator hums to me. I hum back. Passes the time. I used to sing, but I forgot the words. I’ve been speaking later and later in the day. Sometimes I don’t talk ’til maybe eight o’clock at night. Later. Never. Doesn’t matter. Not much that can’t be said with a well-placed grunt. Or a hum.

A rustle. Brief. Then longer. Louder. Longer. Louder. This is not a normal sound. It is not the humidifier; the furnace; the mice; the humming. This is papers shuffling–an ever-nearing taxtime accountant. The rustling gets louder and louder until my windows shake. Until my teeth shake.

Just as creation myths are made for every belief system, destruction myths are par for the course. I’m a little bit muddier on them, just because everyone in my family died before they could finish reading that book. Or maybe they just got bored around the part where everybody begat everybody else. I think the end of the world will have something to do with a team of horses, and a big fire.

The noise is coming at me now. There’s not much left of the windows, and not much left of my teeth. Feathers are everywhere, pink and glorious and beautiful and horrifying. And those eyes–those eyes, black as coal, judging me and my every thought. My face is bloodied and oozing from wounds I didn’t know I’d gotten. Maybe they’d always been there. When was the last time I looked in a mirror, anyway? Must have been years ago, shortly after I’d seen that first bird. The Alpha Bird. I close my eyes. I open them. I close my eyes. I open them again. The noise is still here. Nothing has changed. Nothing ever changes.

I close my eyes and open them one last time. I spy the door. I make my way through the noise and through the feathers, and I step outside.

Inspiration

Posted in fiction, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

I am writing again. And not silly blog-writing, either (although that will continue at my normal, leisurely clip). I’m going back to my training in creative writing and actually putting things down on paper.

I was inspired, in a way, by a lot of these weekly/monthly food challenges on the Internet (see especially: Tuesdays With Dorie, Cupcake Hero, Vindicate the Vegetable). If I had to fall flat on my face coming up with a title as clever as the above, I would call it something like “WriteRight” or “Write or Wrong.” Or “Writer Wrong.” What do I know?

Here’s the skinny. My friend Nichole and I are writing a piece every week in response to a prompt (which one of us originates every week). The piece could be a story. It could be a poem. It could be visual art. Anything. Just creative output springing from the prompt.

I decided to jump right into it and do a short story (or, I guess, a “short short story”). It’s due on Thursday, and by posting this I’m obligating myself to posting writing her every Thursday from this point forward, no matter what happens to this silly challenge thing.

Other things that are inspiring me:

Joli’s blog, which is full of fantastic stuff lately. Even the posts she uses as filler until she writes new stuff are incredible.

THE AMERICANS ARE THE ONES WATCHING OUT THE WINDOWS TO SEE IF THE PLANE IS BEING LOADED. THEY ARE THE ONES SCOWLING AS THEY SPEAK OF BABIES GROWING UP. THEY ARE THE ONES ANNOUNCED ON THE INTERCOM WITH NAMES LIKE “ELEGANT”. THEY ARE THE ONES SINGING NURSERY RHYMES. MY PASSPORT SAYS SO MANY THINGS NOW BUT THE BIGGEST ONE IS STILL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I AM EATING BELGIAN CHOCOLATE THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SOUVENIRS.

Violent Femmes’ cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Gnarls Barkley covered the Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone” on their first album, and I guess this is the Femmes’ way of returning the favor. I have the 12″ single in hand, and the CD is forthcoming. The music is raucous and unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. They’ve even managed to work the theremin–best known for kitschy ’50’s sci-fi instrumentation–into the mix. I’m not the biggest Gnarls Barkley fan (although “Crazy” was a fun, easily-digestible pop song), but I’m a huge Femmes fan and was not disappointed by this release. I’m also generally encouraged by the fact that they’re recording again after an ugly lawsuit between the lead singer and the bassist regarding music rights.

That’s it. Be back on Thursday-ish with a story about flamingos.