Saturday, May 31, 2008
This post is merely the test vehicle for an audio hosting site I done found. If this works out properly, then I'll be adding links to alllll the posts I want to read out loud to you! This way it'll be like getting a really lame bedtime story right in your browser!
Edit: Looks like I cannot embed a player in my post without having ownership powers in this Blog. Oh well! Links are fine for my purposes. I shall endure.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The Writer couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the poor echoes. But, alas, they were fodder for his story and perish in the chasm they must. He fortified himself with granola and the fiber stiffened his spine.
"How are we going to make it across this great chasm?" asked Becky. She sounded really lame, but had delivered the line so as to keep the reader apprised of the situation. "Oh, if only I had wings." She sat down on a nearby rock and began to weep piteously.
The Writer sat back from the keyboard. Should he say 'piteously'? Wasn't all weeping piteous? He had heard many writing instructors issue stern warnings against the use of adverbs, but he liked the word 'piteous.' He really liked it. He liked it intensely. The hell with it, he was going to say 'piteous.'
Becky sat down on a nearby rock...
Of course it would be a nearby rock. Why would Becky go on a long journey merely to find a rock suitable for sitting and piteous weeping?
Becky sat down on a conveniently located rock and wept piteously. Stubs, who fancied himself the strong, silent type, was unsure how to handle the situation. What would John Wayne do? He'd probably slap the woman, who would then dry her tears and become the woman she was always meant to be. But Stubs was no John Wayne. He wasn't even Wayne's younger brother Herman, who was always getting slapped by women.
The Writer groaned. This rambling had nothing to do with the story. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to envision the chasm. Large, deep, dark, rocky...made of harmless rubber? No, too easy. Did he dare have Becky and Stubs wake up from a dream? He glanced over to where The Wife/Girlfriend was greasing the turret to her Abrams tank and decided against it. She hated it when The Writer used 'the dream.'
"It's lazy writing!" she always said. These words were usually followed by an energetic boxing of The Writer's ears. Yeah. The dream was out.
Stubs surveyed the scene with a gimlet eye. "I once signed up for a class on how to construct rope bridges using gravel and sunbeams," he said. "There's plenty of gravel here and the sun is just now coming over the mountains."
"So the problem is solved!" Overjoyed, Becky leaped from the rock and gave Stubs a hug.
"Well...not really solved, per se."
Becky paused in her celebratory fairy dance and looked pensive. "But you took a class."
"I signed up for a class. I'm ashamed to say that I found the class very confusing and I neglected the homework."
"You flunked a class on sunbeams? How could you!"
Her tone put Stubs on the defensive and he crossed his arms truculently. "How was I to know my future would require me to capture sunbeams? That's the kind of thing fairies are supposed to do."
"Don't try blaming this on me," Becky said, her voice rising in anger. "If you hadn't been so lazy, we'd be across this stupid chasm by now and on our way."
"Oh, so this is all my fault, is it?" Stubs grabbed a handful of rocks and hurled them angrily into the dark abyss. "If I'm so stupid, why are you even wasting your time on me?"
Becky emitted a hard, angry laugh. "That's an excellent question. I felt sorry for you, that's why! If it weren't for me, you'd still be stumbling around in the swamp with your ass on fire."
"Oh, sure!" Stubs was shouting now. His face was red with fury and his beard was bristling. "This is all about revenge to you, Becky. Getting back at the Fairy Syndicate. Speaking of which, why don't you set to work and perform some sort of fairy magic, here. Oh, wait, I forgot. You're not a real fairy because you don't have wings!"
The Writer gasped. How could Stubs have been so cruel?
"You'll regret that remark once the sun goes down," Becky replied coldly. "I hear it gets really dark in these mountains."
And now sweet little Becky? She of the gentle pink machine gun? The Writer flung his fingers back onto the keyboard, hoping to arrest the terrible momentum that had taken over the story.
From a granite ledge overlooking Becky and Stubs, Tony the Antagonist watched the awful scene, an equally awful sneer slithering across his face like a viper through a pool of ooze. "I have them right where I want them," he gloated, rubbing his slimy hands together. "Soon they'll part ways and be forced to abandon their stupid quest. Then I shall be able to go back to the Fairy Syndicate and collect my exorbitant wage."
Ah-ha! So Tony was working for the Syndicate. His job was to stop Stubs from finding the magic stick and taking it back to the Dirty Forest Man. The Writer patted himself on the shoulder and took the opportunity to forage for more granola. The trip to the kitchen took scarcely an hour and once he had returned to his laptop, he ripped open a packet of deep-fried granola and gobbled a few morsels. As the life-giving potion entered his body, The Writer sat back in his writer's chair with a sigh of deep contentment.
"Ah, granola...my soul's balm!"
The Writer jumped and looked at the laptop screen, upon which more words had somehow appeared. "Stubs?"
"Yeah. How about getting back to business? The story's in something of a crisis, here."
"But I was balming my soul."
"Dang your soul! Start typing, fella, or I'll balm you with my giant hammer."
Becky collapsed back onto the convenient rock and buried her face in her hands. "What's happening to us? We have to stick together!"
After a moment, Stubs relented and, leaving his hammer behind, joined her by the rock. "You're right. I'm sorry for my uncouth and calloused remark. I don't care that you have no wings. You'd look silly with wings, actually. You're better off without them. Besides, if you'd been a normal, I mean, an ordinary fairy, I never would have met you."
"And I'm sorry I mentioned your ridiculous fear of the dark," said Becky. There was a moment of silence and then they both erupted in gales of laughter.
On the ledge, Tony gritted his tooth and crushed a piece of granite in his hands. Why, oh why, did the protagonists always have to prevail? Well, not this time. No retarded fairy or charred-ass dwarf was going to humiliate Tony the Antagonist. He climbed to the top of the ridge where sat a giant boulder. With the sounds of merry laughter still burning his ears, Tony began rocking the boulder back and forth, slowly loosening it from its purchase. The boulder teetered...
Below, Stubs and Becky had completely forgotten their squabble. "We still need a solution to the problem," Becky said. "What about your hammer? Does it do anything?"
Stubs thought. "Not really," he finally admitted. "I mean, it's nice as far as hammers go and if you need anything hammed, then it's great, but for crossing scary chasms, it's pretty useless."
"Well, that's it, then," Becky sighed. "We can't cross the chasm and by the time we walked around it, our quest would be in vain. The fairy warlord, Crapulent Fartwing, is due to arrive at the Fairy Syndicate's headquarters within a few days at the most. After that, they'll march on the Dirty Forest Man. It looks like we're finished."
As these seemingly prophetic words left Becky's mouth, the boulder trembled on the edge of the cliff, dislodging loose rocks and a few dozing hamsters. Because they were both too steeped in despair, neither Stubs nor Becky noticed the falling debris. The boulder of doom rolled slowly forward and seemed to pause a moment on the very lip of the ridge.
"Why, hello, there! Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh! You 'uns need a lift?"
They looked up and rubbed the misery from their eyes. Could it be? Rising from the chasm was a huge, brightly-colored hot air balloon, piloted by a jovial-looking man wearing a tuxedo and coonskin cap. He halted the basket of the balloon just even with the edge of the chasm.
"I say, I say! You 'uns need a lift?"
"Well, yes!" Stubs said. He and Becky exchanged glances, then traded back again, because they weren't the same size. "But...who are you?"
"Well, sonny, I wouldn't waste time askin' fool questions, 'cause there's a helluva boulder headed your way. Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh!"
Both Stubs and Becky glanced up and saw the boulder hurtling toward them. Just in time, they leaped aside as it crashed onto the smaller rock where they'd been sitting and crushed it into dust.
"Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh! That was a close 'un. Damn, you're both white as ghosts! And...do ya'll smell somethin' burnin'?"
Becky covered her nose with a handkerchief. "That's just my friend, here. He has difficulty dealing with moments of extreme crisis."
"Oh! A farter! Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh! I used to be one o' them, 'til I had my bum sewed shut. Where you two headed?"
"At the moment, just crossing this abyss would suit us," said Becky, since Stubs was still too humiliated to join in the conversation. "Could you ferry us across?"
"Well, little lady, could be. But first you'll have to answer a coupla questions..."
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"Yes you are powerful, dear," his girlfriend said. "Powerful as all git-out. Handsome too," she giggled.
The Writer was very pleased with her for saying this, and vowed to fetch her something pretty or delicious the next time he ventured outside. This would not happen for a while yet, of course, because he was still working on his dwarf story.
"Oh, right. I have decided to..."
Sticky Jake, in all his double-breasted-plaid-turtleneck-with-corduroy-caped glory, stepped upon the tabletop to continue his statement from a more impressive vantage. He drew the air of ages into his lungs, hoisted an index finger atop the valiantly extended forearm of wisdom, and bellowed.
"Eat a SOCK!"
The throne room fairly echoed with silence.
Becky and Stubs stared at the Lord of the Nitwits, mouths open in pure dumbstruckery, as he stood upon the dining table with one foot in a bowl of potato salad.
The Lord's arm wilted. "Er, I mean..."
Becky buried her face in her hands. "This was a mistake," she muttered through her shame.
Stubs emitted a poot of optimism. "Not all is lost, Becky! I'm sure the Lord here will allow us to take some leftover swine wads with us, wrapped in aluminum foil. Our larder thus stocked, and a friendly basecamp established, we'll be well on our way!"
"Great. Now we can just go outside, throw a stick into the air, and head off in the direction it points to when it lands. We have no idea where to start looking."
"Yeah, but...swine wads?" Stubs said, an encouraging grin rustling through his beard.
Tiberius roused himself with a snort and as his eyes flickered open, he gave voice to his own splendid idea, formulated inside his very own head:
"Looks like you two oughta find y'selves a wizard!" he ejaculated. "I know they got magic sticks. It's a fact. Use 'em to turn rocks into porridge and whutnot."
"Excrement idea, Tiberius! Pay me many heeds, Belchy and Squids, for 'tis a journey of capitalized danger to the nearest wizard in these lands. First, you must gravitate your way through--"
"You should have one of the other characters tell Becky and Stubs how to find the wizard. That Nitwit guy's speech is a little tiresome," said the Wife.
The Writer hated it when someone presented a good argument for editing an idea or character he was particularly fond of. He threw a raisin at his wife when she turned her back, and reluctantly put her counsel into effect:
"I shall sermon my faithful guard and partition him to emasculate on the pearls of this journey, for I have become tiresome and wish to adjoin to my bumchamber for a refractive snortle."
The Lord of the Nitwits shouted for his guard. Tiberius the Chunky came on the run. Because he was already in the room at the time, he achieved this by running out and then back in again. This appeared to please the Lord.
"I reward you with a striped one!" he said, handing Tiberius a sock. "And the best of luck to you, dear questers! May your socks be not fouled with bog water, and your way fraught not with unintestinal misshapes!"
"May your Pogs sparkle as a beacon of freedom with the intensity of a thousand suns," said Stubs, bowing his way out.
"I'm taking these leftovers," said a stern-faced Becky, stuffing baseball-sized, foil-wrapped swine wads into her knapsack.
Tiberius led Becky and Stubs out of the palace and into the courtyard. He waved a hand at a range of mountains to the West.
"See them mountains? That's the Mysteriolith Range. I ain't rightly sure of the best route to git to 'em, but a great wizard lives on the top of that biggun thar," he said, indicating a formidable peak with one sausage finger.
"That's Merbert's Peak," said Becky. "That'll take us days to climb! Not to mention all the equipment we'll need. Carabiners, rope, crampons--"
"Eeew!" said Stubs, giggling like a schoolgirl.
"They're like cleats. Spiky soles to grip ice and stuff," explained Becky.
The Writer stopped to think for a second. If he made the mountain really hard to climb, he would either need to bend reality, or he would have to go into depth about the equipment his characters needed to climb it. This latter frightened him. If he got any of his facts wrong, he was sure to be bombarded with smuggery in the Indulge in stupidity section by mountaineering Internet mavens more than happy to remind him that he was an ignorant putz.
As a Writer, though, he was pretty comfortable with bending reality.
"You should take a liberty," grunted his wife, bent double under the weight of the bathtub she was lugging across the room.
"Good idea!" said the Writer, and rummaged happily in her purse.
"Wrong!" said the Wife, lobbing a crescent wrench at him. "I meant with your story. Put my mints back."
"Fine. I have my granola. You have your mints. As long as I know where we both stand."
"That's Merbert's Peak," said Becky. "Tallest mountain in the country. Wonderful."
Tiberius scratched his head and furrowed his brow. "Don't know the feller. You're right about it bein' a tall 'un, though. If I was y'all, I'd take the elevator," he said, bending reality.
"Thank you, Tiberius. We'll do just that," said Stubs, shaking hands with the corpulent guard and loosing a poot of gratitude. Tiberius stumped back into the castle, giggling quietly, and Stubs gauged the time of day by looking at the sky.
"Night has fallen," he said.
"I heard it," said Becky, and the two of them spent the night in the guest house.
"Won't that send the wrong message to impressionable readers?" opined the Wife. She was building a digital thermostat out of PlayStation 2 parts to control the water temperature in the shower. "I mean, the two of them, sleeping together in the guest house?"
The Writer coughed granola bits onto the rug. "You're right, pretty one! I cannot believe I let such a glaring moral faux pas slip past me!" The Writer patted his soul reassuringly. "Almost lost you there, little guy!"
"I heard it," said Becky, and the two of them spent the night in the guest house after first asking Tiberius if it would be okay.
When dawn came, sneaking over the horizon like some sort of golden, moth-frightening burglar, the questers donned their knapsacks and britches and glaves and clavicles and set out.
"Soooo," wheedled Stubs, "you haven't told me what humiliation drove you out of the Fairy Syndicate. I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm your dwarf."
Becky stopped in the path and sighed heavily. Stubs kept walking until he was brought up short by a tree. He landed on his back, noticed that Becky was no longer beside him, and scooted, still on his back, over to her.
"I'm sorry," he said, looking remorseful. "The wind'll blow it away in short order and--"
"Have you noticed anything...strange about me, Stubs?" she asked, her face, sad, pointed skyward.
"You're not impressed by a pristine collection of Pogs?"
"No. Something missing. Something that should be there, but is not. Two somethings, actually. It's why when you met me, I was on foot. It's why I am still on foot."
Stubs got to his feet and looked down at Becky's. She had two small, pretty fairy feet encased in what looked like silver ballet slippers. He frowned thoughtfully.
"Wings! I'm a fairy, and I don't have wing one!" Becky screamed. She ripped off her cloak, exposing a pair of shoulder blades on an otherwise bare back. "Can you imagine the shame my parents felt, knowing their only daughter was a wingless freak?"
Tenderness welled up in Stubs' gassy little heart as he stared at Becky's back. Empathy hissed out of him as his face softened.
"I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I'm afraid of the dark."
Becky re-fastened her cloak. "I don't know what that has to do with me," she sniffed.
"I'm a dwarf. Dwarfs work and live in mines. In tunnels underground. It's, uh...dark underground."
The two of them looked into each other's eyes and bonded.
"I think we should shake hands," said Stubs.
"I think you should fall down and die!" said an evil voice from the shrubbery. Stubs knew that voice.
"Indeed!" said Tony, stepping out. He was carrying a rusty crowbar and was wearing a catcher's mask. "I'm ready for you this time, dwarf!" he sneered. "It's been far too many paragraphs since you were last hassled!"
Tony raised his crowbar and advanced. Then, he noticed Becky.
"Oh, shit! A fairy!" he squealed, using the first real cuss-word on the Blog because he was that evil. He fled into the deep green fastnesses of the forest whence he came.
"Honey! Tony just ruined the PG rating we had going here!" said a panicked Writer.
"That bastard," replied his wife, her calm voice muffled by her welder's mask.
"I thought you'd be more broken up about that."
"I'm sorry, dear, but I'm in the middle of something kinda delicate. Once I get the uranium and graphite rods in place and start the reactor, I can pay more attention."
"Oooh! Gonna save us some money on the ol' electric bill this summer, huh?"
"Yessir!" she said, her face suddenly lost from view behind a shower of sparks. "My own design."
"Must be scared of fairies," muttered Stubs.
"We'll see him again. He is the antagonist, after all, and he can't be vanquished already," Becky said, shrugging.
"Who would we battle?" agreed Stubs.
"Who would provide the necessary friction to slow us in our quest and add that spice of adventure all the great stories have?"
"Who would we throw swine wads at?"
"Of course!" said the Writer.
"So, now that we have established Tony's relative role in this story, how are we going to get across this giant, bridgeless chasm?" said Becky, gazing down into the abyss, where light was swallowed alive and no echo found its way back out...
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Before we begin, let me direct the attention of all newcomers to a new sidebar. In an effort to make following the Granola Prose tale a bit easier, I've included a mini-directory, where you will find this and all other Granola posts listed and linked in chronological order. And now, on with the show...
The Writer grimaced. Here it came, the long section of exposition that inevitably showed up in his work. Might as well get it over with. His fingers were poised above the keyboard, ready to begin the dirty deed, when a thought entered his head and began galloping about.
"Why do I keep ending sentences with prepositions?"
Another thought answered, "Who cares? As long as the writing itself sounds decent, a lot of those old rules are kaput anyway. Follow your instinct, son."
This led to yet another, more intriguing thought. "Wait a gol-darn minute..."
"I'm sorry, lord," Stubs said. "But to reveal everything about my quest, not to mention my story (which happens to be lengthy), would not only bore the reader, but endanger my mission. How do I know you can be trusted?"
Becky and Tiberius gasped and backed up a step. The Nitwit lord lunged to his feet and teetered for a moment before regaining his balance.
"I cannot bequeath thou spaketh thus to me!" he gasped. "I am Sticky Jake, Lord of the Nitwits, a personable of grunt distraction, and I shan't be spaken to in such a *wheeze* fragrant murmur. Forthby and therewith." He sat down quickly and continued gasping for a minute or two. He motioned to a nearby servant, who brought him a particularly succulent sock with which to refresh himself.
Stubs, who had been startled by the outburst, tried to ignore Becky's gagging and Tiberius' giggling. He gathered his courage and stepped forward.
"I know you find this a serious offense, your lordship, but your title lends one to suspicion. After all, are you called Lord of the Nitwits because you are the wisest among them or simply the greatest Nitwit of all?"
Sticky Jake paused mid-chew, the toe end of the sock hanging horribly from a corner of his mouth. After a moment he finished the sock and then said in a Southern drawl, "That be a damn fine question, boy. And I'll answer it soon as ya tell me why I'm sudd'ly talkin' like a Texas cowpoke."
That was an easy one and Stubs answered without hesitation. "Because The Writer's a moron and has no sense of characterization."
What? The Writer sat back in his special writing chair and reread that last line. His own characters were beginning to mutiny! He'd always read it was a good thing when the characters began taking over a story, but now that it seemed to be happening, he was finding it rather scary. He poked his head out the window and called down to his wife/girlfriend.
"Honey? One of my main characters just called me a moron."
"Readers will probably identify with him. That's a good sign, dear."
The Writer wasn't sure if this was a compliment, but decided not to press her on the issue. After all, she looked really busy stirring that cement for the new driveway. He turned back to his laptop and the small morsels of granola debris scattered about the desk. Scooping together a little pile, he used his cupped hands to funnel the granola into his mouth.
"Okay, fine," said Stubs. "I've always been a sucker for Southern accents. I've been sent by the Dirty Forest Man to find a magic stick that he plans to use against the Fairy Syndicate. Without the stick, he can't hope to prevail. Time is also of the essence. Word has it that the Fairy Syndicate is awaiting the imminent arrival of their warlord, Crapulent Fartwing. After that they plan to march upon the Dirty Forest Man and, if he is not in possession of the magic stick, wipe him out."
Ah-ha! The Writer chortled aloud and pounded his clavicle in glee. Not only a quest (basic plot), but also necessity and a deadline, the main ingredients of suspense! Now if he could just give Stubs a reason for continuing the quest...
"Waaaait a minute," Becky interrupted. "I thought you told me you knew nothing about the mission. That the DFM simply set your pants on fire and scuttled you into the swamp."
Stubs acted coy. "I didn't know you then. I saw you were a fairy and was afraid you might take their side."
Sticky Jake was looking skeptical. "The Filthy Frabjous Mule infers to decorate brittle against the Furry Scintillate?"
Even Stubs couldn't figure this one out, so he turned to Becky for help.
"He doubts your word that the Dirty Forest Man intends to declare battle against the Fairy Syndicate."
"It's true!" Stubs insisted, turning back to Jake. "As soon as he gets his magic stick, it's curtains for the fairies."
"Curtails? The Dairy Furbished Minion warrants to constrict droops for the..."
"You're getting a little carried away with that character," said a voice over The Writer's shoulder.
The Writer hooted in panic and farted. "Don't sneak up on me like that," he admonished The Wife.
The Wife wrinkled her nose and began backing out of the room. "Don't worry, I won't. Perhaps granola isn't the best diet choice for you after all."
"Never mind that. What do you mean I'm getting carried away? Sticky Jake is hilarious!"
"In small doses, yes. But you're making the reader work too hard to figure out what he's saying. I think you should tone it down a bit. Give the reader a taste, not a steady diet."
"And what makes you such an expert? All you can do is fix sinks, pour concrete, weld, install heating and cooling systems, wire houses, and build Corvettes from scratch. You seem to be forgetting who's the writer, here."
"Just thought I'd mention it." The Wife turned and walked serenely from the room. The Writer ground his teeth a little. He hated it when she was serene.
Finally understanding the gravity of the situation, the Lord of the Nitwits emitted a sigh and began wracking his wizened little brain for a solution to the problem.
And a problem it was. The dwarf's quest was clear enough: obtain the magic stick and return with it to the Dirty Forest Man. Sticky Jake knew of this magic stick and, although not aware of its exact location, possessed enough knowledge to point Stubs and Becky in the right direction. But the Nitwit lord was also indebted to both the Man and the Fairies for past favors. To aid one would most certainly incur the wrath of the other.
As he pondered, little plumes of smoke began wafting from his ears and a clearly audible grinding sound could be heard.
"I have made a decisive!" he announced after some minutes of deep deliberation.
Stubs and Becky snapped to attention, while the stout Tiberius raised an eyebrow, became exhausted, and fell immediately asleep.
"Yes, my lord?"
"I shall eat a sock!"
"But about the quest!"
"Oh, right. I have decided to...
Friday, May 16, 2008
The Writer ignored this and kept it right the hell up.
Parts THREE TWO ONE.
The Writer put one of the granola bars into his mouth and chewed daintily. "Hints of cedar and loganberry, if my tongue-buds deceiveth me not!" he squealed. "That hardware store sells a dang fine granola log. Honey, you've done marvelously! Remind me to send you out on more errands."
His wife looked up from the pile of sink parts she had spread out on a tarp on the kitchen table. "Excellent. Something else to add to my list of things not to think about."
"That's hardly the team spirit. Being helpful becomes you, my lightly frosted pastry of glee. You should be it more often."
"How about some helpful advice then? I'm going to have to shut the water off to the whole place, so no laundry tonight. If you try, you'll be down there yelling at the washing machine again, and the neighbors'll get mad."
"Happened once. Once," the Writer clarified, using his forceful voice and a stern expression that was slightly diminished in its remonstrative power by the scattering of granola shrapnel around his mouth. His wife smiled at him and loaded her caulking gun.
The Writer salved his bruised ego by thinking about all the nice dirty socks he was going to have, and his spirits soared as he turned to his keyboard again. He'd given the fairy sidekick girl a motive and a pleasant tolerance of pooting dwarves, but not a name...
"So," said Stubs, striding randomly off into the swamp, "I'll settle for just getting your name then, shall I?"
The Writer tittered happily. Snappy! Good dialogue always had a benignly competitive undertone, and he was always pleased when one of his characters said something clever. "Becky," indeed!
"Becky? Isn't that kind of a common name? I mean, aren't fairies supposed to have lofty, fluttery names like, uh, Loftwyn or Flutterella?"
Becky deftly steered Stubs around a puddle of oozy bog water. "That's part of the humiliation. Please. Let's just concentrate on getting out of this swamp for now. What made you charge into here in the first place?"
"My pants were on fire. See? Char marks?"
"I see. How'd that happen?"
"Well, this car horn startled me, and--"
"Never mind. Let's just continue our quest, shall we?" Becky said, nudging Stubs gently Eastward as he threatened to veer off the path. "With your fearsome hammer and my pretty wings, we can--"
Ooh, that sounded really fruity. The Writer liked the dynamic between the wise, driven Becky and the stocky, bumbling dwarf. He thought about Stubs bonking into trees and tripping over squirrels if he were left on his own and laughed some granola bits onto his LCD. But that last bit had to go.
"Never mind. Here! I made you a friendship ring!"
Crap. Even worse. That was the problem with having a fairy for a protagonist. It was a constant battle to keep from stereotyping her as a witless sack of giggles. He decided he'd make her one of those fairies with machine guns he'd seen in the comic books.
"Never mind. But the sooner we get out of here and into enemy territory, the happier I'll be. I can't wait to put paid to that lot of witless gigglers, and my trusty machine gun should help even the score."
Stubs was impressed. The gun Becky held out for his inspection was a beautiful piece of hardware. It was pink and sparkly, and had etchings of dancing bears on the muzzle. It fired chocolate--
The Writer stared at the screen and then down at his traitorous hands with dumbstruck amazement. "Weren't you guys listening? Nobody's going to get any ass-kicking done with a sparkly pink machine gun!" he scolded.
"That's telling 'em, dear," his wife shouted from under the kitchen sink. "Wisdom and sanity. That's why I married you."
The Writer gave her protruding legs the stink-eye and returned to the fray.
"Never mind. If we continue East, we will get out of this place in short order and be well on our way to a land ruled by one who may aid us."
"Does the Dirty Forest Man have many allies? I was kind of under the impression that he was just a hateful man who liked being dirty and hated giggling, winged optimists. It's not like I have a really clear objective here. You wanna know the full extent of my orders?"
"Perhaps it might be valuable information," considered Becky.
"He just scratched his armpit, leaned over, and said 'Fetch me a proper whompin' stick whut fer I kin swat me some fairies. And make sure it be a magic one!' and then all he did was fall over."
"No. Just too hateful to stand."
"Sounds like you need all the help you can get. It's not like you can find magic sticks laying around just anywhere. They're rare, and it takes a very special kind of person to actively seek something like that."
"I thought the idea of a 'magic stick' was kind of stupid, myself. It's almost as if he'd told me to 'go forth and seek the Enchanted Jockstrap, for I have a chafing of epic proportions!' Honestly, it's pretty lame."
"That settles it! I know just the person who can help us seek lame objects imbued with preposterously disproportionate importance. Can you guess?"
"You don't mean..."
"But I do! I speak of none other than Sticky Jake, Lord of the Nitwits!"
The Writer was immensely pleased with this crafty bit of recycling. He remembered briefly writing this character into a previous story, but (strategically, it now seemed) never developing him. All he had was a name, and the rest was a blank canvas. He chuckled oatily to himself and bit another granola bar.
The Lord of the Nitwits lived on his royal ranch at the edge of the swamp. Herds of gophers roamed the perimeter pastures, and the center was dominated by a massive structure made of trailer homes stapled together. A drawbridge (permanently nailed down in the open position, Stubs saw) crossed a truncated moat of vanilla pudding. The entrance was flanked by a single fat man with a canoe paddle.
"Howdy!" the man said. "Nice to see you again, Becky. Just go right on in! Jake's in the throne room or some such. I reckon he'll be mighty pleased to have him some visitors. Say, ain't you a dwarf?" he said, indicating Stubs with a pudgy finger.
"See the hammer?"
"Well, I'll be!" said the fat man, chewing on the business end of his paddle. "And I do believe that's one of them beard things I heard about on the radio!"
"Mutton," said Stubs, bowing.
"That's Tiberius the Chunky," explained Becky as she and Stubs entered a wide hall. "He's awful proud of his ability to flank an entrance by himself."
"This is truly the dwelling place of a great man," breathed Stubs, awed by the photographs on the wall of the Lord's prized racing turtles, and his collection of Pogs in a glass case.
Sticky Jake was slouching regally on his royal recliner, two beautiful young women in bikinis feeding him from a big mixing bowl full of socks. He was a gangly man with a curly mop of untidy hair and a voice like a duck burping into a kazoo.
"Blah! Brunky! How mellifluous to see you again! Have a sock! And I see you have brung an acquiescence with you! Stimply benchtaking weather we have had as of lately! Come in, come in. Ladies, if you could exclude us please."
The two young women sashayed off into the castle recesses. Stubs watched them go, and emitted a long, mournful poot of lust. Becky grimaced and sidestepped.
"We come to you in hope of receiving your help, Lord," she said.
"Ah! So you sneak aid and rancor, do you? In which case, I shall be preened to blender you all the imprudence I have at my reposal, my good Brunky. But you have yet to induce me to this strumpling fellow you have trundled here with!"
"My apologies, Lord. This is Stubs the Dwarf, and I have recently joined him on a quest of moderate importance," said Becky, pushing Stubs into the royal presence.
"It is an honor to meet such a storied personage," said Stubs, bowing. "Your Pogs shine with a luster to be envied."
"Knuckles, good dwurf! The homage is enticingly mine," the Lord of the Nitwits said, donning his favorite corduroy cape and prancing slightly. "You are both ignited to dine with me tonight upon roast swine and grumble salad, an incrementally deciduous repost, if I do say so myself! After we have construmed our fill, you can tell me of your difficrumbly."
The meal was indeed good, and the Lord of the Nitwits told many a joke and made many a strange noise with his drinking straw. When he had finished the connect-the-dots picture on his placemat, he looked solemnly up at Stubs and Becky.
"Now, my wisdom reaches far and vertical," he said, "and I have a stinkling that 'tis a quest of great malfeasance you have overtaken. Am I constipate, or do I bargle the truth?"
Stubs stood and began his tale...
Saturday, May 10, 2008
“Not since they took my license away,” replied the mythical creature. “I was once an important member of the Fairy Syndicate until…well, never mind that.”
“Memory still too painful?”
“No, it stinks too much here. I’m having a hard time breathing. Do you always do that when you’re startled?”
“It runs in my family. I’m trying to do better. Is it really that overpowering?”
“I have tiny nostrils,” said the fairy. “Don’t worry about it. Soon my nasal passages will cauterize and then I probably won’t even notice.”
Yes, yes! The Fairy Syndicate it was going to be. The Writer nibbled on a stray granola crumb and realized he had no liquid refreshment at hand. “Hon?”
There was a thumping noise as his wife wriggled out from underneath the sink and knocked her head against a pipe. “What now?”
“The dwarf just met up with a disgraced fairy.”
“That's fine, dear. I'm going to the hardware store to pick up a length of PVC pipe. You need anything?”
“I’ll take either a V8 juice or a spot on the New York Times’ bestseller list.”
“Juice it is.”
The Writer turned back to his computer, inspiration burning inside him. Or was that the plate of breakfast nachos he’d eaten? Either way, he was on a serious roll.
“As long as you’re sure,” said Stubs, “because I could try Beano.”
“No, I’ll just be very predictable from now on.”
Stubs wished they’d been walking all this time, so he could come to a sudden, dramatic halt. Instead, he gave a little jump and made a screeching sound. “What do you mean, ‘from now on’? I’m on this quest alone. Me, myself, and I are more than enough to handle this…this…” He trailed off as he realized he had no idea what he was doing out here in the swamp. The Dirty Forest Man had simply pointed and sent him on his way, no set of instructions, no maps with objectives clearly circled in red pencil…nothing. Except for setting Stubs' pants on fire, of course, but that could have just been a joke.
The fairy stared at him pityingly. “You see, Stubs? You need me.”
“That’s ridiculous. Did I not just moments ago vanquish the antagonist?”
“Tony?” The fairy emitted a tiny laugh, which was the only size laugh she had in stock at the moment. “He was merely a minor inconvenience. You will face much greater threats on your quest. And you will need my help.”
“How do you know about my quest?”
“Like you, I work for the Dirty Forest Man. He is preparing to wage war against the Fairy Syndicate. I am valuable because of my fairy knowledge and I am only too willing to repay those little swine for the humiliation they heaped upon me.”
“Right, humiliation. You still haven’t told me about that.”
The Writer nodded in agreement with himself. Best not to reveal everything all at once. As long as he could give Stubs sufficient motivation to continue the quest…that would involve a bit more exposition. After all, Stubs had no real sense of loyalty for the Dirty Forest Man and, therefore, probably wouldn’t engage danger for him, so why continue the quest?
Fearing the plot was on shaky ground, The Writer snatched the granola packet and looked into its depths. Only a few crumbs left. He licked the bag clean and waited for a burst of inspiration. Nothing.
The front door slammed and a minute later The Writer’s wife appeared.
“Here’s your nasty juice,” she said. “Oh, and as I was checking out, I saw these on sale. Remembering your latest fetish, I thought you might enjoy them.” She tossed him a box.
The Writer caught it and examined it quizzically. “The hardware store carries granola bars?”
“You go through the weirdest phases, dear. Remember when you wore the same socks for an entire month?”
“I have no recollection of that.”
“Little wonder. I’d almost managed to block it out of my memory as well. I’ll let you get back to your writing. By the way, don’t use the upstairs bathroom until further notice.”
Thursday, May 08, 2008
The Writer's girlfriend reminded him that there was another bag of granola in the pantry.
"Girlfriend? Is that so?" demanded his wife.
"Different Writer," explained the Writer, shrugging.
Like any good parachute, the granola had a reserve. This bag of creativity catalyst was Curry Banana flavored, his second favorite after Mixed Berry. His wife gave him a suspicious look and returned to her welding.
The Writer returned to his dwarf and its antagonist and tried again:
Stubs held up a forestalling hand.
"Is that all you've got? A Forestalling® Hand? You're gonna need to do better than that," giggled Tony.
"Antagonists don't giggle," remarked Stubs. "And I was only forestalling you so that I could keep you offa me until I was able to draw...THIS!" The diminutive hero pulled a small doily from his beard with a flourish and brandished it at Tony.
Tony sneered an evil sneer, which he had practiced for years at Antagonist School.
"You hope to defeat me with...knitted delights?" he antagonized.
Stubs smiled inwardly (an interesting thing to see done, as an inside-out smile does silly things to the face) for little did Tony know that a doily was actually crocheted! This gave him an edge, and his beard creased into an actual smile.
"Blarg! Happiness!" The myriad evil bits floating about in Tony's system reacted violently to the saccharine emotion, and his face contorted with disgust. "Now you're in for it!" he screeched, and dropped into a fighting stance.
The Writer stuffed a handful of Curry Banana granola into his gob and smacked happily. This was going exceedingly well. "Spouse!" he chirped. "Wanna see what I got so far? The dwarf's got a doily!"
His wife shoved the welder's mask up. "Doily?"
"Indeed! I've even established a form of mystery, as we're not sure how Stubs intends to neutralize the threat of Tony with his doily. This is going to make me a hero in writing circles, hon," The Writer pronounced, gesturing vaguely.
"Now, back to my dwarf." The Writer manned his keyboard:
"Put up your dukes," said Tony threateningly.
Oh, that wasn't going to do at all, thought the Writer. Too mundane. No way in heck were the Pulitzer people going to give him his own bus if he kept this up.
Tony danced about in a rage and because he was an expert at being annoying as well as evil, set Stubs' pants afire again, putting him back to square one.
"Aw, fer goodness' sake! That's what I was in the swamp for in the first place, dang it all!" cried Stubs, dancing into the murky water once more. "And you've ruined my doily!"
"Ha ha!" Tony gave a victory hoot.
Now this was more like it. A victory hoot! He ejaculated one of his own and looked over his work with a benevolent eye.
"Put that away," said his wife. "That's only for special occasions."
"Like those towels next to the potpourri?" the Writer said, feigning indignation.
"Towels? You're making that up," said his longsuffering spouse, feigning indigestion.
"It's what I do," the Writer said, deepening his already impressive voice. He put the eye back in its case and turned his solemn visage back to the screen. He decided he didn't want his hero, even if he was only a flammable dwarf, to be saying wussy things like "for goodness' sake" and changed it to:
"You have irked my ire, good sir! For that, you shall be dealt with in the harshest manner I can think of. En garde!"
The Writer liked the way that sounded. Adventurous, with a little bit of class sprinkled over top. This story was like a mountain-climbing ice cream cone with a leather jacket, it was so adventurous and cool. He thought about injecting a little Tolkienishness into his epic. Perhaps by giving his dwarf a big iron hammer and making him talk about feasting on mutton. "I can always put it in later if it seems like a good fit," he assured himself, taking another cheekful of granola.
Stubs, showing the grace and agility that his race is known for, used his big iron hammer in a one-handed swing to bat the sodden doily into his attacker's face.
"Aiee!" screamed Tony, clawing at the diabolically dainty decoration. "You may have won this round, dwarf, but I'll get you later! Oh, you won't know when, where or how--"
The Writer liked that. It was like the rules of journalism, which he held in high esteem. The Five Ws. Who, What, When, Where and, uh...Hamsters. One of 'em started with an H...
"--but I'll be following you! I'll be hunting you! I startled you into a fart just moments ago, and I'll startle you into hundreds more before this is through!" Tony said these threatening words as he backed into the reeds from whence he'd come, still blinded by the doily.
"Aye, but I've worked up a battle hunger!" Stubs said to himself in the sudden quiet. He holstered his hammer. "Time for me to feed on some mutton."
He found a dry spot near the quicksand, and gnawed upon a shank seasoned with cinnamon and basil. He wondered again why the Dirty Forest Man had sent him out on this quest. It hadn't been easy, blazing a trail through jungles, swamps, gazebos, rivers and supermarkets, and now he had to worry about Tony too. Perhaps the rumors were grounded indeed, and the Dirty Forest Man actually was planning on doing battle with the Fairy Syndicate...
"Glee!" squealed an excited Writer. Oh, was there going to be plot in this one! Who wouldn't want to do battle with the Fairy Syndicate? It even sounds ominous. Perhaps there was some sort of secret weapon that the Dirty Forest Man needs, and Stubs is the only one who knew how to get it.
"Sounds like poor Stubs is really up against it," the Writer told his optical mouse. "If I were him, I'd have a sidekick."
Stubs, knowing what he was up against, got a sidekick.
"Hi," she said...
Monday, May 05, 2008
As much as he had hoped the granola would spark his creativity, it seemed to be in vain. A few minutes earlier, his fingers in paralysis over the keyboard, The Writer had decided upon a course of action guaranteed to banish even the most daunting case of writer's block.
"Protein!" He had bounded from the chair as if it was white-hot and scooted for the kitchen. "Protein and fiber!"
A moment later, armed with two packets of Mixed Berry Granola Clusters, The Writer stalked back into The Writing Lair, determined to release his angst, like a torrent, upon the empty page.
"The dwarf ran into the swamp," he wrote. Pausing for another cluster, he looked over his work. Not Joyce, by any means, but at least something other than that damned blinking cursor was now on the page.
"The dwarf, hmmmm. Must be more descriptive."
"The small dwarf ran into the swamp."
"The tall dwarf ran into the swamp."
"Contradictory? Or maybe just tall for a dwarf? Will the reader understand my intent? Ah...!"
"The bearded dwarf ran into the swamp."
"Now I'm rolling. But why is the bearded dwarf running into the swamp? Restless Leg Syndrome? Hives? Perhaps being pursued by an angry dwarf mother-in-law? Again, redundant. Curses!"
A few moments of thought and chomping ensued, then...
"Having recently discovered that his pants were on fire, the bearded dwarf ran into the swamp."
The Writer appraised his work. "Now that's something of which even Joyce may have been proud. First the discovery, then the reaction. We have conflict, action and reaction, and (dare I say) the makings of a plot. Must expand on the swamp a bit, however. Must lure the reader into my setting."
"Having recently discovered that his pants were on fire, the bearded dwarf ran into the swamp, which was wet, dark, scary, full of slimy creatures, and about 15 miles southwest of Tallahassee."
"Takes care of that," The Writer said, infinitely pleased with himself. "Now if I can just keep the momentum rolling as I ratchet up the suspense and introduce the antagonist."
"The bearded dwarf, who was named Stubs, soon lost his way in the wet, dark, and scary swamp. Suddenly and without warning, there was a rustling sound that came from a nearby stand of bull rushes that was only about three feet away."
The Writer sat back and mopped his brow. "When this is made into a movie, it'll definitely be PG-13 for intense scenarios."
The reeds parted and the antagonist strolled into the open, startling Stubs into a fart.
"Who are you? What are you doing here? What is your connection to the story? Did you know that you're standing on quicksand?" Stubs demanded.
"My name is Tony and I am here to antagonize you. No, I did not realize that I'm standing on quicksand, but now that you have mentioned it, I shall move aside. Better?"
The Writer smirked. Not only was that some snappy dialogue right there, but he had almost summed up the antagonist in one quick paragraph. All that was left was to make the reader truly understand how dangerous this character was. There would definitely be a bidding war for this manuscript.
"Much," said Stubs. "You can see by my kind warning to you, the enemy, that I am the hero of this story. I stand for all that is right and good. You represent all the crappy qualities that exist in the world."
"One year you spent the entire Christmas season telling children that Santa's home melted due to global warming. You married an Irish girl just so you could divorce her on Saint Patrick's Day."
"I also watch slasher movies so I can cheer for the killer," Tony interjected. "And I like rap music."
"See, you are truly evil," Stubs replied, "but I am here to put an end to your evil ways."
Tony laughed evilly. "Hevil hevil hevil. What are you going to do? Sic your beard on me?"
"Close," Stubs said. "Except I happen to know of something that makes you quiver in fear. Something that will make you helpless with terror, so that I may drag you to justice."
"Ha! There is no such thing."
"Ah, but there is," Stubs said, his calm maddening. "I shall..."
The Writer reached in vain for another handful of granola. What was this? How could he finish this piece without...phooey. He didn't need any multi-grain new age crap to make him write. He was a Writer, dammit, and nothing could stop him when he was in the zone!
The dwarf smirked and walked to... [delete, delete] "I shall have your head," Stubs declared. "You shall hang from the tallest yard arm in the jungle." [delete, delete] "My minions will cook you upon a spit and season you with cinnamon, with just a hint of basil." [delete, delete]
"Honey? Are you okay?"
The Writer looked up from the keyboard to find his wife standing in the doorway, a look of concern on her face. "What?"
"I heard you scream in agony. I thought something might be wrong."
"It's nothing," said The Writer, quickly mopping up his tears before they shorted out the laptop. "We're just...out of granola."
Friday, May 02, 2008
"You home from work now?" Coffee asked, chipper as usual.
"Nope. This is the garage," I said, sarcastic as usual. Coffee smacked me in the back of the head. Quite a feat, considering.
"As long as we're not fully home yet, you wanna go run around the neighborhood? It'll be a blast. We can pretend to be skunks, and hide in some bushes."
"Why the hell?"
"Why the hell not?"
Coffee had me there. His powers of persuasive reasoning never fail to illuminate an issue with a bright, metallic caffeine tang. I relented and pulled a can of stank down from a shelf on the garage wall and let Coffee lead me out into the great suburban wilderness.
"Look, a jogger. What's she doing out at two AM?"
"Getting skunked!" tittered Coffee.
"I got sticks in my butt," I muttered, shifting uncomfortably in our hidey-bush.
"Explains why you never wanna have any fun," Coffee said philosophically. "Hand me the spray."
After Coffee and I skunked the jogger and a couple of squirrels who were out awful late, we returned to the house and I keyed us in.
"You want some sort of hot, brewed beverage?" I asked Coffee, tossing my coat and the empty spray can on the couch. "I'm sure we can find something..."
"You think you're funny, don't you?" Coffee sneered, poking me in the ribs.
"Well, you know what you really are?"
"Enlighten me, Coffee."
"Awesome. That's what you are. You are giant, steaming truckloads of spanky-dope."
"Gosh, thanks!" I said, touched. Coffee sure was a good friend. He always did know how to compliment a fella.
"Sweet. Now that I got you all buttered up, why don't we put together that nerd project you got the parts for? The network whatever-it-is."
"You kidding? It's four in the AM!"
"You're just hitting your stride, big fella. Besides, the sooner you start on it, the better your chances of getting it all put together before the sparrows show up. Sparrows? You know how you hate them?"
"I like sparrows."
"Do you? Well, that's lame. I'll go get the band saw!"
"Band s--? No, wait. We don't need a band saw. Just a phillips screwdriver."
"Pfft. What kinda mincing, pansy tee-hee project doesn't need a band saw? You going soft on me?"
"No. We just don't need one."
"Fine. What're we building, then? A little gingerbread terarrium for your wuss turtles? Gonna knit a darling pair of fairy pants out of bunny dreams and unicorn poots?" Coffee pouted.
"No. A NAS. It's gonna revolutionize my--"
"It's not going to revolutionize anything if you can't build it with a band saw and you know it."
"We can use the electric drill to drive the screws if you can find a phillips bit," I said, giving Coffee a consoling pat on the shoulder. "Deal?"
"Deal!" he screeched.
I connected the components and tested them while Coffee drilled hundreds of tiny holes in the side of the computer case.
"What's that you got there?"
"Serial ATA controller card."
"Shouldn't it have a hole in it?"
"Seriously. I mean, like, right about there," Coffee said, pointing.
"No. And I think I'm done for the night. It's getting light out, and I have to be up a little earlier than normal today."
"But it's not even up and running yet! Lookit all these nice holes I drilled for you here. All ready to let your datas in and out, and you're not even going to connect any cereal cards up and try 'em out," Coffee said sulkily. He dropped the drill on the floor amidst all the steel dust and turned his back, facing the wall.
"I'll try it out tomorrow," I said groggily.
"I'll make you a hot drink in the morning..."
"Yeah? What kind?"
Coffee looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised. "Promise?"
"Promise. Now get the hell out of here and I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yay!" screeched Coffee. "And you'd better rest up good. Tomorrow we've got a lot of falling down in public places to do." He paused and looked thoughtfully up at the ceiling, and then back at me. "Hey, do weasels live in bushes?"
"Some of 'em, maybe."
"We'll do that too. I never bit a guy before, and--"