Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CCCW Request Post For the Week

Greetings, Fellow Feather Brandishers!

It's Tuesday, so that means it's time to hit me with your best shot for this week's chapter of the ongoing Creatively Created Creative Writing Story!!

If you are new to this, you readers leave comments - bits of action or dialog or narrative - and I, your humble writer, weave them into a story come Sunday. Something like...

I wasn't quite sure how, but the marmoset ended up on top of the armoire. Or was it a chiffarobe?

...or whatever you'd like.

(previous chapters are here)

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Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \bə-ˈräzh, -ˈräj\
Function: noun
Etymology: French barrage barrier fire
Date: 1916

1 : artillery fire laid on a line close to friendly troops to screen and protect them
2 : a vigorous or rapid outpouring or projection of many things at once

"Despite being the subject of a publicity barrage, I couldn't get work. I'd burned through my United Artists salary and was flat broke — not an uncommon predicament for Hollywood performers."

— Tab Hunter, Tab Hunter Confidential, 2005

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Monday, September 29, 2008

A Long Poem

This is a long poem that I wrote in 1996, at a time when I was being consciously non-monogamous (and had been for 3 years). I'm monogamous now, not from any moral judgment about monogamy or non-monogamy, but because I have made some conscious choices about how I want to focus my sexual energy. I'm posting this poem because I've always liked it.


They walk, who cannot
take another way,
but still have the
will to go on.

Each step a different one
on any trek, now pebble
under instep, now rock-
hard, sun-dried mud
bruising heel, now
delicious softness of the
pine-duff gathered under
the coolness of
branching shade.

This is how we must go.

There is no vehicle to
carry us, for no roads
have been built in this
terrain — no map shows
the way, and no
evidence of other
travelers here can
comfort us.

Some nights we will all
wander blindly about,
having not had the sense
to stop when darkness
fell — perhaps we will
forget to keep hold of
hands and become
separated — then we will
call out, bleating pitiful
into the black depths
until one lost soul comes
closer to another.

Perhaps we won't really
come upon one another
until morning.

Perhaps we won't hear
each other calling, or be
confused by the echoes
into frustrated apathy.

Perhaps we will just sit
down and cry with
exhaustion without
we are back to

Some days we will have
very little to eat and

Some of us will have
saved our rations and
others of us will have
squandered them and
there will be important
moments of decision
about when it is
important to nurture
one's self first and when
it is necessary to share.


we won't know when
those days or nights are

Sometimes, we will
double back over ground
we covered before
because the path we
thought led to the high
place went into a
dragging deep lagoon
with quicksand and
vipers instead.

Sometimes, we will
argue all day about the
way to the water that we
can smell and see and
almost taste far below
us, and in that arguing,
never arrive.

Sometimes, we will each
decide we know the way
and we will strike out
alone in separate
directions only to find
ourselves united at the
same destination in spite
of our pride and because
of it.

Sometimes —
we will come out of the
most frightening dark to
a glade so breathtaking
that we weep in one
another's arms, all
struggle of the trip made
worthwhile, and all hurt
forgotten in the healing
of that place.

Upon embarking,
whether or not we now
admit it, we gave up our
and surety

beyond the
certainty of saying

"Yes. Here is a
sycamore before us. A
foxglove in bloom to the
right and these five
stones gathered under
the cliff."

So when we think we
are lost,
let us just stop and laugh
a moment.

Let us unroll the pieces
of parchment we've
carried in our packs and
fall down, helpless in
our mirth,
undone before their

There is no way.

We are always lost.

We are never lost.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Creatively Created Creative Writing - Chapter XVII

It had been a quiet week for Arianne and myself. We had several long talks, and she had finally convinced me to close my office and retire from active work as a private investigator. We also decided to put the place in the city up for sale and make the home up on Beech Mountain our primary residence. So I called a friend of mine who had extensive real estate experience and asked him if he would like to be our agent. He agreed, and within 48 hours he had found someone who liked the place and was willing to offer almost our asking price.

And so we headed back down to the city to set things up for the movers -- wow, I'd never had movers before, but now that I was wealthy it was a different world. All we had to do was decide what was to go to the new place and what was to go to various charitable groups. And once we had that sorted out, we met with Scott and signed all the paperwork on the deal, and cut him a check for his percentage.

We had a couple of days to kill before the movers were to show up and transport our things, so we figured we'd take a short trip and visit some out of the way places around Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.

Which is how we ended up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, axle deep in mud, with Arianne's friend Amelia and her new boyfriend Jason. And, don't blame me for getting stuck - it was as much Jason's fault as anything.

He had been going on and on (and on) about how much money he'd earned last quarter as an investment banker, and then insisted he knew a back way from Elizabethton (Tennessee) to Hot Springs (North Carolina) and, for some reason, I let him have his way, even though he hadn't yet shown that he actually knew about anything he was talking about.

Most of you may not know this, but back in the hills, cell phones tend to not be very useful. Jason's 3G iPhoneSuperSpecial with Massage Attachment, or whatever it was, didn't work. He pouted for a bit, as he was being shown to be a complete fool. The pouting wasn't working, so he tried stomping his feet. There's nothing more foolish than a 40-year old acting like a 4-year old.

Arianne tried hers ... no signal, and mine, well, I hadn't charged it in weeks. "How do you plan to get us out of here?" she sighed, obviously exasperated.

"No worries. I have a cunning plan!" I responded, my grin spreading. Her eyes widened before she planted her face in her hand.

"I thought we talked about this! No more MacGuyver-ing since you turned the cat pink trying to insulate the house!"

"Aww, I keep telling you, that wasn't my fault!" I looked around, hoping for inspiration to back up my mouth, but nothing came to mind.

"Well? What's your plan, Big Boy?" Arianne said to me.

I sighed and said, "Simple. I walk back to that last farmhouse we passed, and see if they can help us."

"I'll go with you, Guy," Jason announced. Every word from his mouth was an announcement. Arianne and Amelia both nodded emphatically behind his back, and Amelia mouthed 'You could even get him lost'. She had obviously begun to regret ever meeting the schmuck.

"Come on, then," I said, and began walking back down the road. As we trudged along, Jason continued 'announcing' the. whole. way.

"If the state would keep these country roads in decent shape, this never would have happened.... I'm gonna sue Apple, because this iPhone isn't working like it should.... Man, that Amelia is one hot chick, isn't she?... The Gothic rule in Spain is one of history's forgotten splendors."

He was about to get on my last nerve.

There was just no logical reason for him to suspect this guy except that niggling, gut feeling gnawing at him. Something-no; nothing about this slime was right. Like Amelia; I wanted him GONE.

I looked over at Jason sharply. "Did you hear that?", I asked, but he was too busy taking the back off his phone - presumably to 'fix' it - to notice me, much less the voices I sometimes heard out of nowhere.

Finally, after an eternity of listening to Jason spouting forth, we got to the farmhouse we had passed earlier. "Uh, you better let me talk to these folks, Jason. Mountain folk don't always take kindly to strangers." Especially obnoxious assholes like you, I didn't add.

"Finally!" Jason shouted. "I've got a signal. I'll take care of things, Guy." And he stopped in the road, dialing furiously.

I only half paid attention, as I was eyeing the farmhouse and hoping the owner wasn't trigger happy, but the conversation that followed sounded something like this - on Jason's end, at any rate:

"Who ate my pink elephant?"

"The blue frog standing by that stick-in-a-pot."


"What what?"


"That you might cry."

While Jason stood there speaking gibberish to God knows who, I walked up on the porch of the house and knocked on the door. When it opened and an old man stuck his head out, I explained what had happened and asked him if he knew of anyone with a tractor, or if he could recommend - and call - a wrecker for me.

"Ain't got no tractor," he replied. "But I got a team of draft horses I use to drag timber. They can pull you out. Lemme go harness 'em." He paused for a moment, then said, "Is that crazy feller yonder with you?" and gestured at Jason, who was gesturing wildly as he shouted into his phone.

"Yes, he is, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't hold that against me." I replied, smiling.

The old man laughed heartily and said, "Well, there's one in every family, I reckon. C'mon to the barn with me. We'll hitch up the team and have you out in no time."

We walked around the house to the barn, and the old man started putting the tack on two of the biggest horses I'd ever seen. They certainly looked like they were capable of pulling my Woody out of the mud.

After he got the horses ready, he glanced toward the back door of the house, and then said, "Whew, that's some hard work. I think we deserve a swig or two afore we head up the road." And he reached behind a bale of hay and pulled out a jug.

"Here son. Try some-a this. It'll put hair on your chest - or curl what you already got!" He guffawed.

I took a small swig, and, realizing that it was some fine apple brandy, took another healthy swallow. "Thank you, sir. That's some mighty good brandy!"

He winked at me and said, "My pappy taught me how to make it, and he learned from his pappy. Now, let's go get you car out'en the mud." He tugged the lead and the team of horses obediently followed.

As we rounded the house, we could see that Jason was still shouting into his phone, so I called to him. "Jason, never mind. This gentleman is going to help us."

"Give him a shot of this," the old man said, holding out the jug to me. "If I know anything, that'll shut his gob."

I laughed and took the jug. "Here, Jason. Have some of this. All that talking, you must be thirsty."

"Hold on, Eric. What? The password is elephantism." he announced into the phone, and took a swig from the jug. I don't know who laughed harder then, the old man or me, as Jason started coughing and wheezing. Especially when he dropped his precious cell phone in a puddle.

Once Jason recovered from his initial fit of coughing, he joined us as we passed the jug back and forth, walking up the road. By the time we got back to the car, he had mellowed quite a bit, and I realized that I was not entirely sober, either, even though I had been taking small sips. Suddenly, I worried what Arianne would think when she smelled my breath.

Cheese. He realized he needed some cheese. A nice, smelly, salty, hunk of extra-sharp cheddar cheese. That would do it.

The old man looked at me and said, "Who the hell was that?" and I just shrugged my shoulders. He shook his head, already certain that we were a bunch of crazy city folk, and set to hooking the draft team to the front of the car.

"Now, you get in and help it along - give 'er gas gently, so as not to spook the horses," he said, and in no time the Woody was emerging from its sticky predicament.

Once we cleared the mudhole, I got out and offered to pay the farmer for his help.

"Never you mind that, young feller. I got plenty outta watching that guy."

"All right, then. I guess we'll be on our way, then," I said, looking up the road in the direction we had been traveling. My stomach was rumbling and I noticed that dusk was starting to fall.

The old man followed my gaze and said, "Road ends just around the curve yonder. There ain't nothing up there but my back pasture."

It was then I got that feeling. You know the one. It was that same sinking feeling you get when you call to see if your car is ready yet and the mechanic says, "Well, actually, we ran into a little problem."

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Friday, September 26, 2008

For You


Is for you

Because they told you

You’d never be able to fly without wings

And here you are


Without a wing

Or a feather

In sight.

Submitted by Johanna Berliner

About the Author: "I am a writer, photographer, singer, actress, dancer, image editor, and pianist. I like Broadway musicals and contemplating life."

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Accept ourselves

Accepting that we are not perfect and flawless
Life is demonstrated, God is
Accepting all of life has faults
And the real world is not the Garden of Eden

Resigned to accept ourselves and others of who we are,
Not God, not perfect
Stop competing for the Virgin Mary traits
Be human and be yourself

Submitted by Heather Mirassou

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Word of the Day


Pronunctiation: \brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Brobdingnagian is from Brobdingnag, a country of giants in Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

Of extraordinary size; gigantic; enormous.

"The size of the proposed government bailout is of Brobdingnagian proportions!"

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ShakesQuill Submission Guidelines - update

Just wanted to point out that I have made a change to the Submission Guidelines. In regard to "Reader Alerts" the reasoning for the alert will now be placed on top, and when possible, the opening of the work will be displayed. This change is being made to give the reader more information and a better opportunity to see what the Reader Alert is for and if they still want to continue.

Please visit The ShakesQuill Submission Guidelines to see the update and to make any comments or suggestions.


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Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \VUR-dnt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Verdant comes from French verdoyant, present participle of verdoyer, "to be verdant, to grow green," from Old French verdoier, verdeier, from verd, vert, "green," from Latin viridis, "green," from virere, "to be green."

1. Covered with growing plants or grass; green with vegetation.
2. Green.
3. Unripe in knowledge, judgment, or experience; unsophisticated; green.

"Drab in winter, then suddenly sodden with alpine runoff, the region turns dazzlingly verdant in spring."

— Patricia Albers, Shadows, Fire, Snow

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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The Claus Conspiracy

From ages back in Time,
A Bishop with his coins
Gave succor to unfortunates
And funds to dower daughters.

Although this saintly Nicholas rests
Through centuries of slumber
Something of his spirit lives
When we love one another
A gentle vast conspiracy
Arises round this man
A tale told to the innocents
By parents in all lands.

His myth now robed in red and white
His beard now white and flowing
He dashes round the world by sleigh-
Even if it’s snowing

The story seized by those who sell
Has taken on new life
He first appears at Macy’s bash
And with Rockettes each night

Perhaps a Grandmother or two
Has run afoul his sleigh
Perhaps he’s just a cookie thief
This elf to whom kids pray

All I know is evidence
Is everywhere to see:
Suspicious trails of cookie crumbs
And presents at our tree

Submitted by Hobbie

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creative Writing - the Request Post

Greetings, Ye Agitators of Plumes!

It's Tuesday, so that means it's time to deluge me with snippets for this week's chapter of the ongoing Creatively Created Creative Writing Story!!

For those who are new to this, you readers leave comments - bits of action or dialog or narrative - and I, your humble writer, weave them into a story come Sunday. Something like...

The password is elephantism.

...or whatever you'd like.

(previous chapters are here)

Turn page...

Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \ˌən-ˈtə-chə-bəl\
Function: adjective

1 a: forbidden to the touch : not to be handled b: exempt from criticism or control
2: lying beyond reach
3: disagreeable or defiling to the touch

"They were the best years of our lives. They called them the swinging Sixties. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were the rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world...and me and my brother ruled London. We were fucking untouchable."

— Ronnie Kray

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \DY-uh-dem\
Function: noun
Etymology: Diadem derives from Greek diadema, "a band," from diadein, "to bind around," from dia, "through, across" + dein, "to bind."
1. A crown.
2. An ornamental headband worn (as by Eastern monarchs) as a badge of royalty.
3. Regal power; sovereignty; empire; -- considered as symbolized by the crown.

Function: transitive verb
1. To adorn with a diadem; to crown.

"Dead and gone is the British Raj in India, that most glittering jewel in the diadem of Queen Victoria."

— Jan Morris, "The Power Behind The Empire", Time Asia, August 12, 2002

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Natures Voice

It is but with nature that one is truly alone if he desires.

There are voices in nature that one may hear if only nature is allowed to whisper its timeless treasured voice of reason.

The reason of existence, acceptance.

Its voice rings silently the tone of the seasons.

In Spring it is rebirth, in Summer it is joy, in Autumn it is sadness and in Winter, oh yes the cold, bleak frigid days and nights of ole man Winter, it rings the tone of death.

One may see that mans life is of but the tones of nature.

No more and no less.

He begins and he ends only to begin and end again, and again, and again …

You see this day I visited nature, nature and I together, alone, nothing more.

Nature spoke in the tone it knows only as Winter.

"Do not be fearful my child, it is only death.

Death may bring new life.

Nature is never wrong, only man is wrong.

Come listen with me.

Hear the sounds of death.

They are but beauty no less than the others.

It is frigid this day my child, bundle up as you come with me.

Hold my hand; do not be afraid, death in nature is but natural.

Listen; listen well as the lessons of life and death are revealed.

I say hush, … sh sh sh.

The voices come.

Did you hear it?

Listen carefully!

Hear the sounds of death.

Feel the stillness of solitude.

Feel the chill of the melancholy wind as it blows through the barren trees with frowns on their bark along the bayous edge.

Feel and listen to the falling snow so white against the shroud of gloom encircling us.

Run my child, run back to the warmth of your home.

You shall return to it one day, one day when you will understand Natures Voice.

It will always be the same, never changing, never erring, no never erring like the wickedness of man.

You see nature is perfect my child and man is not-death."

Submitted by David Allen Monier

About the Author: I am from Louisiana's Bayous. A warm welcome to my blog DAM is being extended to all.

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Do you know what you want
Without a doubt in your heart
Can you seek what you want
Do you know where to start
Is it easy to go there
Do you feel it is true
You know you'll be ridden
Can you take me with you

Submitted by String

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Creatively Created Creative Writing - Chapter XVI

It was amazing how quickly the month had passed; the whole year for that matter. Seems like we had just celebrated New Year's and now it was the day before the Autumnal Equinox. And it was still snowing.

Funny, you'd think with all that snow, there would be more than a few inches of accumulation. Arianne seemed to think so, too. She was walking from room to room, looking everywhere. No snow in the kitchen... none in the laundry room. But she did get her trombone and start playing it.

Good ole Dixieland Jazz.

I watched her as she crossed the bedroom, playing "When the Saints go marching in", and then pause as she reached the closet. She looked around at me and said, "I hear voices. Lots of them."

I couldn't hear the voices, because I had The O'Reilly Factor turned up loud, watching BillO and Fred Barnes go at it about something... I wasn't really sure what.

"What should I do?" Arianne asked me, but I didn't answer because I was watching a commercial for a laxative that had some of the characters from I Love Lucy and The Flintstones in it. Slowly, carefully, she opened the door with the end of her trombone.

There was no snow, but Fred Thompson and Freddie Fender were in there arguing about Classical music with Georg Frederic Handel.

Arianne screamed and.....

I woke up trembling. And that was my dream.

Oh, except for one thing. And then everyone on the planet named Fred exploded. And suddenly it all made sense.

"Well, honey," Arianne said to me, "that's why "Sesame Street" and "Homeland Security" have no business in the same room together, much less the same sentence. Nightmares. Now c'mere and let me hold you."

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Love To My Husband

I am drawn to you like
The stars to the midnight skies
The Earth to the burning sun
Water to thirsting flowers

I am comfortable with you like
An old pair of boots
A faded pair of jeans
My favorite sweater and scarf

I am at peace with you like
Sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake
Taking a walk in silence in the country
Listening to rain drops fall in the dark of night

I am alive with you like
The laughter that is uncontrollable
The heart that goes thump, thump, thump
Running through wildflowers in the wilderness

Every ounce of my being
Mind, body and soul are riveted by you
I am alive with you, free with you, comfortable with you

I love you

Submitted by Heather Mirassou

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I Forgot

Threw out my heart when I got off the bus
I forgot to smile, forgot how to be happy
I left my cigarettes in your car, left my soul in ‘99
Met myself in the mirror that night, couldn’t question why
Danced in my pink shoes, they never fitted well
They asked me about that day, I said I forgot them well

Submitted by strangedillies

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Novel excerpt

Here's another installment of my not-yet-named novel. I wrote this novel for National Novel Writing Month, and I am now getting into the parts of the novel that I've spent less time on, and I would really love to get some feedback about ways to improve things.

So please, feel free to either leave constructive criticism in the comments or e-mail me at maurinsky@yahoo.com.


Tina picked up the phone and dialed James' office. She made it through the voice mail system to get to his assistant, a woman in her 40's named Leslie.

"Hi, Leslie," Tina said, "is James available?"

"Good afternoon," Leslie said, in full professional mode. Tina wondered if one of the partners was nearby. That thought was confirmed when Leslie continued, "Yes, Mr. Torvald, Mr. Conroy will be available on the 17th at 10a.m. We have off-street parking located behind our building. Yes.....yes.....certainly, Mr. Torvald....." and then, Tina heard Leslie whisper conspiratorally "okay, he's gone. It was Clapsaddle, he gets cranky about any conversations that aren't billable."

"I figured," Tina said, sitting back in the office chair.

"So how's the wedding planning going?" Leslie asked, "is everything decided, have you arranged the seating so no fights break out at the Bari-Conroy nuptials?"

"Everything is settled except for one biggy," Tina said, "which is the dress, but I'm going to pick one out tonight, which is why I need to speak to James."

"Let me check if your honey is available," Leslie said, "he is here, so that should help."

Tina listened to the awful on hold station – she was being forced to listen to Chris DeBurgh warble "Lady In Red". She made a mental note to make sure the DJ at the reception did not play this song. It made her ears bleed.

"One sec, hon," Leslie said, and then Tina heard James rich baritone in her ear. She found the tone of his voice reassuring and calming.

"Hi, J," Tina said, "how's your day going?"

"Oh, you know," James said, "depositions, research, memos...the usual paper shifting. So what's up?"

"Kell is going to help me pick out a wedding dress tonight, at 6ish, so I was going to see if you wanted to meet me for and early dinner at Uncle Vito's at around 4:45 or so." Vito was her mother's younger brother who owned a restaurant around the corner from both James' law office and only a couple of blocks north of her aunt Dinella's dress shop.

Tina heard James let out a deep sigh. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

"I can meet you," he said, not answering her question, "I just have to get moving on one client and do a little reshuffling with a meeting I was going to have with Leslie....oh, she just yelled in to me that she can wait until tomorrow to talk to me, that I should go have a good time with my girl."
"Great!" Tina said. "I'll see you then. Love you, J."

"Love you, T," he said. Tina hung up the phone and looked at it for a moment. She had noticed that James became withdrawn and quiet everytime their conversation turned to talk of their upcoming nuptials. Tina was not comfortable with confrontation, but she wondered if he was experiencing the proverbial cold feet. “Maybe I can bring it up at dinner tonight”, she thought to herself. It might be good to get both of their fears out on the table. "In fact," she thought, "maybe he's acting exactly the same and I'm the one who is getting distant." She sighed and stood up. She had to get ready for a small group of Girl Scouts, they were trying to train a dog for a badge of some kind.

Tina walked out of the office, around the front counter and down a short hallway to the main play area. Tina had helped Tabby find the site for the facility, and she felt a certain amount of ownership of the place. It was always spotless, and although it smelled like dog, it smelled like clean dog. She opened the gate to the main play area and said hello to the excited canine throng that greeted her. The Dog House was located in an Industrial Park, and when Tabby first rented the building, it was basically just an open warehouse. But they had put up drywall and painted, laid down some easy to clean flooring that the dogs wouldn't slip on, and gated the 1 acre lot behind the building so the dogs could get time outside everyday. They planted trees and even had a garden of old fire hydrants that had been painted bright colors, just for a touch of fun.

"Quiet!" Tina ordered the dogs, calmly but forcefully. She had a manner that dogs seemed to respect, and she rarely raised her voice or had to repeat a command.

As the din quieted down, Tina gave the command for outside, and the dogs ran to the doggy door that let them out into the fenced yard.

"Laura," Tina said, as the diminutive older woman started heading out after the dogs and the other assistants who worked at the facility.

"Yes," Laura said, an affectionate smile on her face.

"I have some Girl Scouts coming in a half an hour, and I'm going to work with them in the training room, and do you have a minute?" Tina surprised herself by asking this last question.

"Of course, Randy and Joelle can handle the dogs outside," Laura said. "What can I do for you?"

"Well....I think I might need some advice from someone who's been married," Tina said.

"I've been married twice," Laura said, "so I'm not sure I am the best person to give you advice,"

Tina flushed a little. "Not your current marriage," Tina said, "but when you were married to a man." Wow, this was awkward, she thought to herself. Laura considered herself married now, but the law didn't recognize her current marriage, to a woman her age named Rose. Tina loved Laura and Rose, and she considered them a perfect pair, but she also knew that Laura's marriage to her husband had not been a happy one. She didn't know that Laura's husband had been abusive, but Tina knew that Laura was happy to have her ex-husband out of her life.

Laura smiled a sad smile, "James is nothing like the man I was married to." Laura had survived a brutal marriage, something she rarely talked about and tried hard not to think about, as well.

"Of course, I know," Tina said. "But do you think it's normal for a man to act…I don’t know, strange before he gets married? Like, distant, somehow?"

Laura tipped her head back, like she was thinking. "I'm sure it's normal, Tina," she said. "I think marriage – committing for a lifetime, can be scary, and they aren't sure how to deal with fears like that. But what do you mean by distant?"

Tina thought about it for a minute. He was sleeping in the guest bedroom, for one thing, but of course her mother had guilted him into that. But she couldn't really point to anything in particular as being odd or off about his behavior. James had always been a man of few words, and he'd never been the most affectionate man, either. He was tender and loving, but he never seemed to have some of the fire that some of her previous lovers had - there was something about his desire for her that was off. She didn't want to get into all of that at work, though.

"I guess it's nothing, Laura," Tina said. "Maybe I'm so scared that I'm projecting onto him."

Laura smiled and wrapped her arm around Tina. "It's natural to be scared when you make a big change. But just to be smart, make sure you listen to your fears to see if they are trying to tell you something." She saw a look come over Tina's face, "I'm sure it's nothing, in this case, because James is a sweet boy, but don't dismiss your feelings, either,"

Tina looked at the tiny woman. "How'd you get so smart, Laura? Tina asked.

"Lots of mistakes, Tina," Laura said, "lots of mistakes."

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Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \im-BROHL-yoh\
Function: noun
Etymology: Imbroglio derives from Italian, from Old Italian imbrogliare, "to tangle, to confuse," from in-, "in" + brogliare, "to mix, to stir." It is related to embroil, "to entangle in conflict or argument."

1. A complicated and embarrassing state of things.
2. A confused or complicated disagreement or misunderstanding.
3. An intricate, complicated plot, as of a drama or work of fiction.
4. A confused mass; a tangle.

"Worse still, hearings and investigations into scandals -- from the imbroglio over Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination in 1991 to the charges of perjury against President Clinton in 1998 -- have overshadowed any consideration of the country's future."

— John B. Judis, The Paradox of American Democracy

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clown Girl

Welcome to the circus.


Clown Girl. She's so funny, don't you think?

C'mon, laugh at her,

Push her around!

She deserves it, after all,

She is only a Clown Girl.

She's got no real friends.

Just her words.

C'mon, laugh at her,

Push her around!

She deserves it, after all,

She is only a Clown Girl.

The clothes she wears,

So dark.

So different.

Always sitting alone.

She says she’s got problems...

That un-grateful girl.

Doesn't she realise what she has?


So hurt that un-grateful girl.

Tease that un-grateful girl.

Let her suffer for what she is.

She deserves it.

After all,

She is only a

Clown Girl.

Submitted by Emily Thurgar

About the work: "It's meant to be like a school yard. Teachers and students think that she’s just an attention seeker. They don't take her seriously. People stereotype her and judge her so she tries to pull herself away from the school community."

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Remembering Mark

Eerlong the rains have left me

alone under the weight of purple pretense

(pretense and a glass of milk)

yet now in Viridian dreamrooms

I am wandering in under-down-out-through.

The Ashen remnants of dark Decembers

still taunt and tear these Gordian thoughts

Perhaps when I release this loathsome labour,

and finally sip sweet plum wine sleep,

there may be born a most intriguing question

the answer lying lazily somewhere

Written by Mark

About the Work: "This poem was written by my son Mark at the age 17. He was a talented artist/writer who would often pen anonymous poems and stories and leave them on the New York City subways for some stranger to find. Sadly he never got credit for his work or the opportunity to cultivate his talent. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 20."

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Word of the Day


Pronunciation Key: [hi-JEM-uh-nee, HEJ-uh-moh-nee]
Function: noun
Date: 1567
Etymology: from the Greek hegemonia "leadership," from hegemon "leader," from hegeisthai "to lead." Originally of predominance of one city state or another in Gk. history.

1. leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.
2. leadership; predominance.
3. (esp. among smaller nations) aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.

"The hegemony of a single member state is not incompatible with a genuine confederation."

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Poem for Robin

I am writing a poem for you, Robin,

Because I have to write a poem for someone,

And I am out of ideas.

Tonight I started a grease fire in my kitchen.

Great white clouds of smoke, like ghosts

Made my eyes water, and I opened all the windows.

The moon was there,

Looking at me.

It looked like you, looking at me

From the outside of a window. I remember.

Do you think I don’t remember? Of course I do.

Fire! I kept the oven closed.

It burned itself out – No more fuel, no more air,

Nothing left but smoke hanging,

Irritating the walls, hurting my insides, making me squirm and seem to cry.

I’m tearing up.

I had a white dress on. Do you think I don’t remember?

It was warm and dark.

The kitchen is warm and dark, and filled with clouds,

Like summer.

Your arms were warm and it was dark.

Your skin was warm and it was dark.

It was warm and dark, like summer.

Do you think I don't remember?

I'm choking.

I'm out of ideas.

Standing at the window, breathing deep.

Dinner's ruined. Sorry, sorry.

Maybe we'd better go out instead. Leave the windows open, for the smoke.

Turn on the fan, chase out the ghosts.

Sorry, sorry. I remember

Nights and moons and words and whiskey and you, Robin, and tonight

I nearly burned down my apartment

Making dinner. Not sure why I thought about it.

Go somewhere, turn out the light. Fire's dying in the oven.

Warm, warm, warm and dark.

I remember. I want you to know.

Not that there's any point. I doubt it troubles you much.

But I have to write a poem for someone.

That's just how these things work.

I am writing a poem for you, Robin.

No big deal. Nothing special.

Just warm, and dark, and you and me.

Warm and dark

And you and me.

Submitted by Cecilia

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One More Step

The door closed behind him and no sound was made as the old oak door latched itself into place. The entry way was void of atmosphere as if the air had been vacuumed out and replaced with white noise. The staircase in front of Andy seemed to stop in blackness at the top as if when you reached the top you would be greeted with nothingness like the nothingness that existed before anything else came into existence. And inside this nothingness lay the promise of escape, of silence, of being absolutely nowhere. Andy had travelled for the last year and he had hated every minute of it; day after day in airports and night after night in the kinds of hotels where if armed with a black light would potentially reveal the birth and death of generations that had never made it past the sheets or floor or if the hotel was really bad, the tub. So in this house at this moment, Andy took the deepest breath he had taken in 364 days. The hangover he had from the night before finally washed away and the sense of being at home settled in its place. He stretched his arms and cracked his ankles and began up the stairs. The banister felt wet and a little sticky and the stairs felt soggy under his feet. But there was no water or evidence of water that he could see. And as he took the stairs one at a time, they became soggier and by the time he reached the top, he was standing knee deep in the final stair. The wood closed around his feet and felt cold and wet, but not quite like water. The banister had changed to but into more of a gelatinous substance and now seemed to hold his hand in its belly. That is exactly how it felt, like the belly of some blob creature. And that was it. The nothingness was right in front of him, but he couldn't take another step. His feet were too heavy to move and his hand was just stuck. Fear started to replace the comfort and dread began to replace the fear. As if coming from his own mind, a low resonating laughter filled his ears and echoed in the empty house. But it was not him laughing, it was the house. The house was laughing at him and it grew louder with each minute. Reduced to nothing more than the butt of this twisted joke, Andy closed his eyes and screamed.

The house seemed to hear his scream and the laughter stopped. He looked down and his feet were standing on solid wood again. The nothingness was gone and in its place there was an ornate hallway filled with priceless paintings and sculptures. Doors made of beautiful oak and aged to perfection with just the right amount of knotholes and creases – the kind of look people spent lifetimes creating and still not getting it right. The air had changed too. Instead of white noise now it felt more like a classical jazz piece with the perfect blend of harmony and melody with just a hint of dissonance to give it that rebel edge. It felt wrong to Andy. He had come to this place, this house, this stairway to finally find silence and darkness and nowhere. But now he was somewhere. He didn't know where, but he was somewhere. Could the house be taunting me, he thought to himself. There he stood, still frozen in place on that last stair, not because the house held him but because he just couldn't get himself to move. The surroundings now frightened him more. The perfection of the environment touched his deepest fears and cranked them up a notch. Something not right, something off, something maybe even evil had painted this picture and behind its facade, he knew there lay pain and perhaps even death. Andy closed his eyes again and screamed.

Submitted by Dan

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Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \ky-MER-ih-kuhl; -MIR-; kih-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Chimerical is ultimately derived from Greek khimaira, "she-goat" or "chimera," which in Greek mythology was a monster having the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon.

1. Merely imaginary; produced by or as if by a wildly fanciful imagination; fantastic; improbable or unrealistic.
2. Given to or indulging in unrealistic fantasies or fantastic schemes.

"Her name is Dulcinea; her country El Toboso, a village in La Mancha; her degree at least that of Princess, for she is my Queen and mistress; her beauty superhuman, for in her are realized all the impossible and chimerical attributes of beauty which poets give to their ladies."

— Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Novel Introduction

Howdy, QuillShakers! A little something different from me. Below is the first part of a novel I've been working on (and off) for a ... while.

If the urge strikes, comments/criticisms are welcome.

It began on a Monday.

I had awakened early, downloaded my mail and the day's weather forecast, as usual. The weather service said that strong thunderstorms were likely in the afternoon. My publisher, Dennis, was screaming for an outline, which I was supposed to have sent him a week ago. And still no reply from Janna. I fixed some breakfast and scanned the world headlines of the day. Only two terrorist bombings, one in Baghdad, at the occupation headquarters, and the other in Tokyo, at a bath house on the Ginza. Crude oil was lapping at the $125 mark again, and the stock market was on the downside of its manic depressive cycle.

All in all, the morning wasn't that unusual. Certainly, not with respect to the events that fate would unfold before me over the next... well, very long time.

Instead of working in the garden, which had been my nominal plan for the day, I decided to see if I couldn't fix the opening chapter of my new novel. I hadn't sent Dennis the outline because the story had veered sharply from where I had intended it, and the outline I had was no longer valid.

What started as political satire had somehow devolved into slapstick, and every time I tried to work on it, visions of Mel Brooks films would flash through my mind. Nevertheless, I sat down at the computer and got to work. I managed to snag a line of thought that I liked, and was soon engrossed in the story and oblivious to everything else around me. With much effort, I slowly steered the plot back onto the course I had intended.

Several hours later, I leaned back and stretched, and realized with surprise that there was rain falling on the roof of my cabin. I stood and walked to the front door, and was surprised to see how much rain had fallen while I was writing. Puddles of water stood in the small yard in front of the house, and even the leaves on the maples were plastered together, though only a soft shower was presently falling.

I stepped back inside and turned on the television to check the Weather Channel. After a story about skiing in Australia, two commercial breaks, and some strained banter between the co-anchors, the regional map of the Southeastern US came on the screen. The radar image showed several bands of heavy rain marching across the Appalachians, one of which was just about to reach the Toe River Valley of Western North Carolina, and my home.

I hurried back outside to double check that everything that needed to be was still covered, and got back on the porch just as the wind picked up and the rain began falling harder. Leaving the television tuned to the weather, I switched on the radio to see if any warnings had been issued. As I scanned the dial listening for weather statements, I began to hear thunder in the distance. Soon flashes of lightning began illuminating points across the valley, each one striking more quickly than the last. As a lover of electrical storms, I was out on the porch again, watching the lightning and the rain, driven almost horizontal by the wind, when a gust practically knocked me off my feet. At nearly the same instant, lightning struck two trees on opposite sides of the cabin. The hair on the back of my neck prickled as I felt the residual energies of the double strike. Then I remembered that the TV was on.

Cursing myself for an idiot, I ran inside and unplugged everything. Then I went back onto the porch and watched the rain fall.

When the storm had blown itself out, I plugged the power strips back in and turned everything back on. As the TV lit up, I saw nothing but static. I switched the signal splitter from satellite to antenna, tuned in the local channel, and the signal came in clear. At least the monitor and tuner were working. I switched back to the satellite and ... nothing. Okay, could it be anything besides lightning damage? I asked myself. Storm, rain, wind ... wind!

Snapping my fingers, I went outside and around the corner of the cabin so I could see the dish up on the roof. Sure enough, the wind had blown the dish out of line. I climbed up on the roof, reoriented the dish, and went inside to reboot the system. No change. There was still no signal.

That's just great, I thought to myself, Only a week after I figure out how to configure the software to pirate the signal, the fucking storm fries it! I opened the satellite descrambler program on my laptop to look at the code and everything looked okay. Then I checked the memory cache and immediately recognized that this was where the problem was. I had set up the program with a twenty second delay, to allow my decryption code to unscramble the signal, but there was several hours' worth of data in the memory buffer, and the translator algorithm was trying to squeeze it all into a 20-second file.

Pausing the program, I picked a chunk of data at random, to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong, and twenty seconds of Super Bowl VII played out on the monitor, followed by a radio broadcast in what sounded like Arabic, then a Swedish luggage infomercial. I repeated this with several different chunks of data and each time a seemingly random series of radio or TV segments played over my system. Some of the segments were current, but many were years or even decades out of date. I found this just a bit unusual, but was more interested in getting the TV to work again, so I saved all the data onto a USB stick, wiped the memory buffer, restarted the system and everything worked fine.

A couple of weeks later, I was again working on the satire. Needing to back up the text, by accident I picked up the memory stick containing the odd satellite data. I had experienced no further trouble with the system since the storm, but still hadn't figured out the source of the mysterious transmissions. Looking at the memory stick, I figured, what the hell. I was having trouble with the slapstick again, and needed to distract my mind with something else for a bit.

After saving the slapstick on an external hard drive, I plugged in the odd data. As when I first scanned it, I watched and listened to old broadcasts: I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Jack Benny Show, All in the Family, newscasts, World Series' and Super Bowls; I spent hours scanning through the data stored on the stick.

As I scanned, I sorted the data into separate TV and radio files, with English and non-English subheadings. While doing this, I found several news broadcasts. These broadcasts contained not only minor stories like "Farmer Jack's Mutant Two-headed Pig", but also major new items. The problem was, some of the most earth-shaking stories were news to me. I admit, I could sometimes get lost in my work, but it seemed to me that I would remember if the Canadian Prime minister had been assassinated. Likewise, a news feature about open warfare on the Korean Peninsula (not the UN 'police action' of the early 1950's, either).

I ran the sort program again, this time searching only the news broadcasts. As I scanned the results, I noted the ones that mentioned the date. Quite a few were in languages other than English, but of the ones I could understand, many were unfamiliar. Even stranger, of the ones that were dated, around forty percent were from the future.

I thought I was either losing my mind, or that this was some kind of hoax or scam. If it was, though, it was the most detailed I had ever seen. Like a lot of people, I had used PhotoShop or similar programs to create altered versions of recordings in the past, mainly as jokes for my friends, but what I was looking at now was as far from PhotoShop as the finger painting of a five year old was from a Renoir masterpiece.

So, either a very talented artist/hacker was behind this, or I had actually received broadcasts from out of time. As the former explanation was, by far, the most likely, I decided to check with some of my friends to see if they, or anyone they knew (or knew of) was capable of such beautiful work. I selected a few of the fluff stories (like farmer Jack's pig), copied them onto a memory stick, and called my friend Johann Meizher, who worked as a production manager for DigiFilms, Inc.

‘Johann Meizher’s office, this is Becky speaking,” the voice at the other end of the line announced.

“Good afternoon,” I replied. “My name is Will Lochrud. I’m a friend of Johann’s, and I was wondering if he was available to take my call."

“Please hold for a moment, Mr. Lochrud,” she answered. I was treated to twenty-five seconds of movie ads, then a familiar voice came on the line.

“Will! It’s great to hear from you! Are you in town?”

“Hey Johann. No, I’m in North Carolina, but I was thinking of flying out there for a couple of days. I thought I’d see if you had some free time coming up.”

“For you, Sugar? Always! Barry and I are both free next Tuesday and Wednesday. Will that work?”

I smiled into the phone and said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to check my calendar....”

Johann’s laughter came through the phone. We had known each other for over ten years, and he had produced a short of one of my stories that had garnered an honorable mention at Sundance. He was well aware of my predilection for solitude (some of my friends actually used the word "hermit"). He had visited my "camp" in the mountains of North Carolina many times over the years. “Let me know when your flight’s coming in and I’ll meet you at the airport.”

“Sounds good, Johann. I’ll give you a call back later this afternoon.”

The following Tuesday morning I drove to Asheville and caught the air shuttle to Atlanta, and thence to Seattle, where DigiFilms was located, and where Johann lived with his partner, Barry, who also worked at DigiFilms. They met me at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and we drove out to their house.

We spent some time catching up, then I explained why I had come out to see them. Rather, I explained the cover story I had come up with. I was reluctant to admit that I was actually considering the possibility that I had somehow received transmissions from the future, so I told them I had received the disk in the mail, with no return address and a Mexico City postmark. I also told them that I was sure it was a fake, and I just wanted to know who did it.

There was, of course, the possibility that they had dreamed up this whole thing - they were, after all, experts in the field of computer animation. What was not possible, though, was for either one of them to lie to me face to face - I could always tell - so, as I weaved my story of mysterious packages arriving in the mail I watched them for reactions.

“I’m guessing that neither of you had anything to do with this,” I said as Johann and Barry stared at the computer screen.

“I wish,” Johann said incredulously, as he looked over Barry’s shoulder. “It would take the entire production team around six months to produce any one of these segments.”

“I don’t see any telltales,” Barry added. He was referring to the various glitches (sometimes only a single pixel out of place) that often appeared in digital productions. “Do you mind if I play with the images some?”

I shook my head and said, “That’s why I came out here. To see if you guys could figure out who did this, and how. It’s impressive as hell, isn’t it?”

“Bloody right, Will,” Barry said.

“And then we’ll figure out how to hire him - or her,” Johann said as he booted up a second computer and the two of them began breaking down the stories into single frames and looking for telltales. By the time Johann dropped me off at the airport two days later, neither he nor Barry had found any glitches - and had both called in ‘sick’ for the rest of the week, so engrossed had they become in figuring out the mystery I had laid at their door.

With Johann and Barry, both of whom had much more experience in the field than I, working to solve the mystery, I returned home and to my work. The guys were keeping me updated on their progress, or rather their lack thereof, but my mind was once again on other things (satire was managing to hold back slapstick, but only just), and the potential significance of the mystery began to fade.

One late afternoon, about a month later, I returned from a day hike to find I had a voice mail waiting.

“Hey, Will. It’s Johann. Barry and I have examined every frame, pixel by pixel, and contacted everyone else we can think of who might have had anything to do with the creation of these recordings. We’ve found nothing, and no one, that we can point to and say, ‘Aha!’

"So, we surrender. You got us. Now, please call back and tell us how you managed this!”

I picked up the phone and soon I was saying, “I swear, Barry, I didn’t do it! I got the disk in the mail, just like I told you.” The first sentence was true, anyway.

“Fine, Will. I guess we’ll find out when you - or whoever - markets the software. In any case, it’s a helluva good job! I wish I could take credit for it.”

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Creative Writing - the Request Post

Willkommen, Ye Shakers of Quills!

It's Tuesday, so that means it's time to deluge me with snippets for this week's chapter of the ongoing Creatively Created Creative Writing Story!!

For those who are new to this, you readers leave comments - bits of action or dialog or narrative - and I, your humble writer, weave them into a story come Sunday. Something like...

Them taters won't cook themselves, ya know!

...or whatever you'd like.

(previous chapters are here)

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Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \ˈa-lə-ˌbī\
Function: noun
Date: 1743
Etymology: Latin, elsewhere, from alius

1: the plea of having been at the time of the commission of an act elsewhere than at the place of commission ; also : the fact or state of having been elsewhere at the time
2: an excuse usually intended to avert blame or punishment (as for failure or negligence)

"What I want above all is to destroy the idea of culture. Culture is an alibi of imperialism. There is a Ministry of War. There is a Ministry of Culture. Therefore, culture is war."

— Jean-Luc Godard

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The Art Of Pain

A portrait of my heart
Painted on the canvas of despair
In the colour of red
Tearing itself into shreds

A portrait of my heart
Vulnerable as a maiden
In a dark ominous land
Feet trapped in quicksand

A portrait of my heart
In the stigma of refusal
Into the throes of pain
`Slowly becoming insane

A portrait of my heart
On the canvas in flames
Becoming lifeless by the day
The blood ebbing away

The portrait of my heart
Is no more a work of art
But a living entity in pain
Waiting for death in vain..

Submitted by Siddhartha Mohapatra

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New Thing

“Our house is the last before the infinite.”

-Lawrence Weschler

They went to cut a passage through the ice
And in the end when there were only four left
they wandered around the Pole
for five years trying to get out

It was like a prison
It was worse than a prison

That must be why they dragged boats full of silverware behind them
leaving lines like wakes in the snow
They wanted to retain some semblance of beauty
of sanity

When the wide open expanses become like four walls around you
a polished silver blade reflecting back your own blackened face
explodes your amount of unwhite
unflurried scenery

There are days when I beg my husband to leave with me
with what we can carry and walk
Just walk until the four walls around us fall away
And we are left with nothing and everything

We could mourn for placemats and televisions
and pictures because we are beholden to them

Or we could step across the line of threshold and rejoice
in the wide open expanses as our four walls

And the mud will be our carpet
and every person we meet a wellspring of experience

A new thing

A polished silver blade

Submitted by Cassandra Long

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Mind Opener

Ah, Mondays. Here's a little bit about my Monday:

I awoke early after spending the weekend with my in-laws. It's a one-hour flight from where I reside. I learned that having a cab driver blast through the streets of Belo Horizonte trumps several cups of coffee when you get up at 4 a.m.

It was a peculiar morning. After the flight touched down, my wife and I saw a tall man getting off the plane, as well. "Is that Oscar," I asked my wife. We were pretty sure it was. "Oscar" is Oscar Schmidt, the greatest basketball player Brazil has ever produced. Our town would fit well in Indiana, as in a soccer-crazed nation, basketball is a big draw around these parts and some of the top Brazilian players lace it up for our home team. Oscar was one of the first Brazilians I ever heard of after Pele and Carmen Miranda (who was born in Portugal, BTW).

Dropping my wife off at work, we saw the remnants of a motorcycle accident, with the rider still on the road alongside a woman on the road, as well. It turned out the woman was a co-worker of my wife's, and she suffered a severely fractured leg. I felt awful hearing that it was her. She had always been very nice to me and interested in the fact that I'm from the U.S. When I first met her, she was shocked at how white I was. I'm not sure what she expected. But she's just the kindest woman. I wish her well in her recovery.

And so the week starts. It should be an interesting one.

And now it's your turn, my friends. Tell me about Monday. It could be the Monday you are having today, or it could be your most memorable Monday. Or a poem about Mondays. Or whatever you like. Let's open our minds about Mondays.

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Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \LIM\
Function: transitive verb
Limn is from Middle English limnen, alteration of luminen, from enluminen, from Etymology: Medieval French enluminer, from Late Latin illuminare, "to illuminate," ultimately from Latin lumen, "light."

1. To depict by drawing or painting.
2. To portray in words; to describe.

"In telling these people's stories Mr. Butler draws upon the same gifts of empathy and insight, the same ability to limn an entire life in a couple of pages."

— Michiko Kakutani, "Earthlings May Endanger Your Peaceful Rationality", New York Times, March 10, 2000

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Verb: To Crumple

Reader Alert: Language

I stared down at my ramen noodles. A woman on the TV was selling jewelry made with pink tourmalines. The hand model turned her hand ever so slightly in the artificial light causing them to glisten through the screen. My wrist trembled causing my fork to clank against the side of the bowl.

The dark blue glow of the TV made shadows look long. The dark side of the recliner leaped off of the floor and traversed the ceiling above.

It took all I had to stand up. Scalding water spilled over my wrist and forefinger. It slowly crept down, cooling as it made its way to my elbow. I flipped on the kitchen light.

I pushed some beer cans aside to make room for my bowl. They screeched as they slid across the Formica.

I stood there staring at them, my reflection glaring back at me. I cupped my right hand under the side of the bowl and lifted with all my strength. The bowl flipped and splattered its contents across the sink and on to the side of the refrigerator burning my hand in the process.

"Fuck…..God damnit mother fu," I slammed the bowl on the kitchen floor. Cheap white ceramic scattered to all corners. Then the hum of the fridge beckoned me.My eyes squinted as the light from the fridge changed the chromaticity of my face. I pulled out a Pepsi.

Ssssslllump. The door closed.

I swayed back and forth as the cola filled the dirty glass. Bubbles popped and fizzed. Just right was always half full. The Captain will take the rest.

"Arrr me matey," I yelled raising my glass to the sky.

My hand drifted down till it was stretched out in front of me.

"You fuckers," I screamed as I stumbled forward.

"You mother fucker…you. You are a mother," I fell into the couch spilling most of my concoction.

I pulled myself up on to the back of the couch like a drunken cripple. I swayed heavily as I moved to the window.

"Why God. What the fuck," I took a deep breath, "Is this it? Is tonight the night you mother fucker?"

A stroke of lightning illuminated the back yard.

"You son of a bitch. You wont let me be happy will you," I pulled the glass to my lips and a stared at the bottom.

"Tonight is the night isn't it you fucker," I screamed. The backyard lit up casting white counter-shadows around me. It was God himself. He wasn’t going to miss this. This was his triumph. His glory. It was his masterpiece.

"Well I got news for you asshole. That's right. I got some fucking news for you. You can't win," I laughed, "you wont win," I chuckled, “ I’m going out there tonight.”

For a split second I had recognized what I had said. The words never really left the air. I swayed looking at the crumpled wreck.

The sheriff said they had left her personal affects in the vehicle. The man at the wrecking yard wanted $65 a day to keep her car there. It was…
"Highway fucking robbery! You don't think I’m strong enough? I'm strong eno," my words trailed off as I made my way to the back door. My feet were heavy.

I opened it and the sound of the rain engulfed my ears. It had been raining for three days. Two of those three days I had locked myself inside that place. The cold damp air filled my body and my clothes. It felt like I was sneaking out with her for the first time.

"Emily, don’t you remember," I stumbled back a little.

"Don't you remember," my eyes welled up.

"Emily don’t you remember when we snuck out to go sit in the park and look at the stars," I asked the ceiling. Tears streaming back towards my ears.

"Emily, don’t you remember it was late. And we walked through the park. Honey …..and the sprinklers turned on," I laughed out loud. Tears stormed down my cheeks.

"And we ran. Ha ha! We ran Babe. We fucking ran! Don’t you remember," I paused.

"You were so beautiful…… Ahhh Emily. You were so beautiful. We….we…."

Emily and her family moved into the house on the corner when I was 15 and we quickly became best friends. We would spend our afternoons in my room exploring the depths of our memories and making new ones. I knew everything about her, and she knew everything about me, except that I was completely in love.

As our senior year was winding down I became increasingly nervous about what would happen to us. She had plans to go to Northwestern, and I didn’t have many plans at all except working at my dad’s insurance office and going to community college. She was so excited to start her life on her own, meeting new people, and experiencing everything that college had to offer. I was genuinely happy for her and excited too, but being happy wasn’t what kept me up at night.

Unlike all prior school dances, we decided to go to our senior prom together. I’m not really sure why we hadn’t gone to a dance together before then, but it probably had something to do with every guy in the school asking her to go with them. I was always left asking a mutual friend or going stag, the latter being more common.

11:45 snuck up on me. The gymnasium was quiet for a second. The DJ’s voice cracked through the speakers.

"Ok Class of ’85! Grab that special person and head out to the dance floor. Its time for the last dance!"

My lungs were filled with bricks. Emily slowly walked over to me as Open Arms by Journey poured through the sound system. Her sky blue dress flowed around her like an apparition as she walked along the side of the dance floor. Her eyes rose and met mine. We didn’t say a word. She brushed a few strands of her golden hair from her face and held out her hand.

As we slowly moved back and forth I tried to take in every detail. I didn’t want to look back and wish that I had taken in more of the moment. Her head seemed light on my shoulder. My palms became sweaty as I rested them on the small of her back.

"Charlie. I’m worried about you," she said quietly. A few strands of her hair tickled my face, but I wouldn't have moved them for the world. I said nothing.

"You haven’t even said anything about what you plan to do after all of this, you know, High School."

My fingers fidgeted with the ruffles of her dress. Her arms slid away from my neck and she placed her hands on my shoulders. She looked at me inquisitively. The thin blue and green strands of her irises were the threads holding my entire universe together. The linings of my lungs stretched and split sending bricks tumbling into my legs. We stopped dancing.

"Charlie, what do you want to do with your life?"

The disco ball sent little patches of light swirling all around us. They jumped and soared from the floor, up the folds of her dress and blazed across her eyes. My heart raced as I knew the song was coming to an end. The ends of my mouth quivered.

"I want..I want to sp..spend it with you." I dug deep. Good or bad I wasn’t going to say sorry or that I was just kidding. I wasn’t going to laugh, and I wasn’t letting her go. She looked right through me. A shard of light from the disco ball danced off of a tear on her cheek.

I stood upright holding my ground. The sound of jostling polyester dresses faded away with the music. The punch bowl tipped and flew through the wall. Rented tables and chairs flipped upside down and tore through the gym ceiling crashing through the lights unleashing a shower of sparks.

My eyes focused on hers.

The walls groaned, tore from their foundations and disintegrated into flying oblivion. Blue and silver streamers were sent screaming after faceless students as they were sucked into the abyss. Strips of wood from the gym floor broken free from their nails twisted and rattled, then peeled away leaving empty black spaces underneath. The wind rippled the fabric of her dress in slow motion and space moved away from us toward some unknown singularity.

A single light shined down onto us through the emptiness. All was still.

Her lips met mine.

Water crashed over my forehead. John the Baptist dunked Jesus's head beneath the cold river.

"Emily," I shouted stumbling down the stairs.

"Emi….Emilllly," I cried. My left hand slid along the side of the house as I walked to the back yard.

Emily ……Emilllly!

The neighbor’s porch light turned on.


I could see it. The light blue glow of the flood light showed every droplet on the twisted wreck and I ran to it shielding the rain from my eyes.

"Emily," I screamed running my hands through the beads of water collecting on the trunk. My hands slid upwards and onto the roof of the car. The windows were opaque with microscopic droplets of water that refracted the flood light. Water infiltrated every fiber of my sweater and it hung low. I breathed heavy. Rain dripped from my nose, only to be inhaled into my mouth and spat out into the night.

"Emily," my hand was on the passenger door handle.

The sheriff said it was quick. He said it was a shame. He said she must have been on her way home. The revolving blue and red lights raced back into my mind. My hand gently lifted the handle.


I could feel my pulse in my fingertips. The door opened with a little resistance, and it let out a screech as I opened it.

The sheriff warned me. He said not to take it back here. He said it wasn't worth it. He said there wasn't much left. He said that she was conscience for a little while after they arrived. He said she mumbled about me. He said she died with my name on her lips.


The sound of my heart was all I could hear.

I struggled to see inside the darkness. The flood light made large dark gaps in between light shades of greenish blue.

As my eyes adjusted, more artifacts drifted to the surface.

The driver’s seat was popped up and turned, its back resting on the passenger seat. CDs littered the floor accompanied by the contents of her purple corduroy purse which was also lying on the passenger side floorboard. My eyes made out some makeup including lipstick that was clearly melted to the inside of its clear plastic cap.

I opened my mouth to scream, but only a squeal came out. A pool of coagulated blood and broken glass looked like a red and blue mosaic covering the dash board. The car smelled like her. Like her perfume, mixed with the iron smell of steamed metal pipes.

Water ran down my pants and into my shoes. I felt as if I were sinking. My breath became shallow and interrupted by sobs. I coughed and picked up the purse, holding it to my cheek. I hated that purse. It didn’t match a damn thing she had, but she wore it anyway. It was a birthday gift from her friend Emma last year. I think she bought it just to piss me off. She knew I would hate it.

Her wallet and some more makeup fell out as I held the purse to my face. I breathed in deeply through my nose, making sure to take advantage of every last scent molecule. The wallet was open revealing an empty space where her driver’s license was kept. The plastic covering stared at me as if she were erased. I haven’t been able to look at her license since the sheriff gave it to me. I folded my hand around it and buried into my pocket.

They called at exactly 2:46 am. I was up watching reruns of Family Matters. It was the episode where Steve Urkel builds a machine to turn himself into his sexy alter-ego Stephan.

No one ever calls the house phone except my mother, and apparently the sheriff. He asked if I was the resident at 2215 Glenwood Crest and if I knew Emily Charleston. I said I did, and explained that she was my wife. He told me that there was a police cruiser out front. I checked. There was. He told me to get into the car and the officer would take me to the scene of the accident. There was a knock at the door.

I placed her wallet back inside the purse and set it back onto the floor uncovering a folded paper on the seat. I picked it up and started unfolding. I struggled to make out the words in the darkness.


I am writing you this letter because I cant seem to tell you how I feel and I think writing you a letter is the best way I can tell you. First of all I promise I will never walk out like I did tonight. It wasn’t right for me to do that and I am sorry. But it was the only thing I felt I could do. I just had to get away for a few hours. It’s the way that you talk to me Charlie…

Sweat from my thumbs and forefingers soaked the paper. I knelt down resting my elbows on the seat as my knees sunk into the flooded grass. They were too numb to feel the cold. I tried my hardest to hold the paper still, moving it into a better sliver of light.

…you make me feel like an idiot and I am not an idiot. I know that you say you don’t mean it or you are just kidding but I know you’re not. I know that it’s the way your father speaks to you. I have heard it myself. You sound just like him. Things are going to have to change Charlie if you want this to work.

A knife pierced my abdomen. It inched slowly towards my sternum as it flipped upright and slid across the bottom of my rib cage. It moved, twisting, fraying the cartilage, separating connective tissue from bone. Heat filled my ears as a scalpel carefully slit every capillary in my body. Blood burst into the whites of my eyes. My skin and hair ached.

Again I screamed, but nothing came out. Lighting illuminated the cars interior, and for a second I saw her.

Snot ran from my nostrils. I could taste saltiness in my mouth. My lips became numb.

I hope you do Charlie because I love you. I really do and I hope that you love me enough to make a real effort to change. I hope that you love yourself enough to make a change too. Charlie, I love you and I always will. And I am sorry.



I could hear hairline fractures run through my bones, splitting and spiraling, compacting, bending and snapping, their percussion rattling my innards. I winced, clinching my teeth. Silver fillings came loose as each individual tooth cracked in half letting the sensitive nerves escape through the crevasses. Chips of bone slid off slicing through my muscles as I collapsed. I rolled out of the car and onto my back. Water splashed up onto my arms and side. I held the letter up to the light. Rain collecting on the paper pooled then soaked through making it seem translucent. Blue ink flowed, spread and swirled. Her words became slurred and incoherent. I rolled over onto all fours.

I tried to shield the paper by placing it under my chest but it was no use. I held the letter in my left fist and wildly pounded the wet earth with my right. My fist sloshed into the soft wet grass. The blades gave way exposing the dark mud beneath and it splashed onto my face, hand, and the letter.

What started as a whimper quickly rose to a roar, "this doesn’t happen. Who…this isn't happening! This isn't fucking happening!”

Saliva and mucus dripped from my face and joined the million gallons of rain on the lawn. I looked into space and screamed into nothing.

Camera 1 started from behind me and slowly rotated counter-clockwise around me. I screamed again, and again only a whisper could be heard. The soundtrack started.

Camera 1 continued to rotate taking in the mangled car. Blue paint gave way to twisted steel. Metal folded over itself, the drivers side door was completely smashed in and clung to its hinges, and wires hung down to the grass. Magma flowed through my veins. Screams were dulled by the sounds of soft piano.

A minor, C Major, A minor, F major7

Hard Cut to Camera 2 positioned just above the flood light. Individual rain drops could be followed as they passed through the blue illumination.

I screamed again causing a crescendo of violins.

Camera 2 descended downward toward me. The sound of my breath was slightly audible under the orchestra. Still descending over my rain soaked hair it reached the side of my face. It focused downward to the mangled grass. The letter in my fist. My cheek and ear were out of focus, but in frame.

The music stops. Lighting flashes, and thunder rolls overhead.

I whispered, "I'm sorry."

Submitted by Leslie Johnson

About the Work: "This is a short story based loosely on a song I wrote in high school."

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Movie Review

I never saw any promos or trailers, but the impact
of the sudden, nationwide release was undeniable.
(Later I heard they were shown in a few test markets,
but nobody paid much attention.) The marketing guys, the suits
must have loved the way we were all transfixed in our seats,
ignoring the oily smell of popcorn.
The title was inspired: no words, only a number
redolent of panic and screaming sirens, simple, graphic.

Obviously, the special effects were top-notch. I admired
the ironic beauty of the weather, that beloved clear bright blue
as a backdrop to flame and smoke, and the way the screen darkened
as the plot unfolded. The scene kept cutting to the crowd on the street,
upturned faces standing in for us, the audience,
conveying our shock, and later, running,
frantic with the terror we were meant to feel.

The pacing was odd. I kept waiting for an iconic figure
to emerge from clouds of dust, an Arnold or Bruce or Mel,
dragging a bloodied villain to justice. There could have been
a plucky girl, too, who distracted the bad guy
at a crucial moment, and then limped into the light,
disheveled, a photogenic smudge on her perfect cheek.

The guy who finally made the big speech was all wrong for the part.
There were plenty of rumors about the real reason
he had been cast, but none of that mattered
once the thing was a hit.

And it was, a mega-hit, a blockbuster, nobody talked
about anything else for weeks. It changed cinema forever,
or until the Next Big Thing. Everything since
has been big-budget thrillers, spy flicks, gritty
battle sequences, things going kaboom. At least
we got a new set of villains out of it. We were getting bored
with Nazis, even the neo kind.

What I remember most is the multiple subplots. There was
that immigrant guy who worked in the restaurant;
the couple having an office affair, leading to a tense
whispering scene in the copier room: that's what I call drama.
The stockbroker who had just found out she was pregnant
was one of my favorite minor characters, but in the end
there were too many of them, with too little screen time.
We never learned their names, just saw glimpses and flashbacks,
I suppose because they were not not the movers and shakers,
they didn't drive the plot.

I have to say, it's not my kind of movie.
I tend to prefer dialogue to explosions,
but they don't make them like that anymore.
I do know one thing:
there's a killer sequel in the making. Hold on to your hats, folks.
It's going to be big.

Submitted by Sandra Larkin

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Creatively Created Creative Writing - Chapter XV

This week's chapter is a collaboration, so "Thanks, again, Jen, for your help."

It had been a quiet few weeks up on the mountain. We were starting to really like being there, and weren't looking forward to heading back to the city. The weather was getting cooler, with just the slightest hint of color change in the leaves. Yes, life at 5500' elevation was pretty good.

The Lutefisk Case, as Arianne had started calling it, came to a resounding conclusion; or rather, our involvement in it did, after I had a dream insight. In my dream, I was standing at the edge of a yawning chasm filled with the most noxious fumes imaginable.

And then I woke up to find the cat inches away from my face.
Only problem was, we don't have a cat. Turned out I had left one of the sliding glass doors open a little bit, and the cat had come on inside to check things out.

After I put the cat outside and shut the door, I started thinking about the lutefisk that was stinking up the mini refrigerator in the basement recroom. I was wide awake after that whiff of Stygian cat butt air, so I went on downstairs to ponder. As I made the last turn on the stairs, I thought that cat had gotten back in, because I was getting that whiff again, but as I walked into the room, I saw what had happened. Either that cat had opened it somehow, or one of us had left the minifridge open.

I was leaning towards the former - because we had consumed a couple of bottles of some of the lesser wines in the cellar, and had both been feeling a bit giddy before we went to bed. We had also built a fire in the downstairs fireplace and had roasted marshmallows. Near the end of the evening, Arianne had mentioned how "mashmellows and wine were nice together, particularly at a time like this!"

I went to nudge the fridge door shut and, there on the floor beside it, I saw the dish where Arianne had been keeping the evidential lutefisk sample, now licked clean.

I picked up the empty dish and carried it out to the trash can, then came back in and decided to go ahead and empty the minifridge, because the smell had permeated the whole thing. I carried it outside to air for a while and went back to bed, thinking that was the end of that.

We were eating breakfast the next morning when Arianne saw the cat on the deck, looking in through the sliding glass door and pawing at it.

"Look at that," she said to me, "isn't that a cute kitty?" I told her what had happened the night before, with the door being open and the cat eating the lutefisk, and she decided that, since the cat had found food once, we were now obligated to care for it.

I explained that the cat probably belonged to one of our neighbors, but Arianne rightly pointed out that we had met all the neighbors, and none of them had a cat matching the one now sitting and staring at us through the plate glass.

I conceded the point, Arianne got up to open the door, and we became cat owners. The cat went straight for the recroom, but when she saw that the minifridge was gone, came back up the steps and sat in the kitchen, looking from the main fridge to us and back again. This was some pretty impressive behavior, Arianne and I agreed, but it was nothing compared to what happened over the next couple of weeks or so.

A couple of days later I realized that Felicity - the name seemed to fit - was getting larger, and I mentioned this to Arianne.

"Well, she's just eating better, is what it is."

"No, I mean she's getting larger. Eating better doesn't make a cat's legs grow longer and head grow bigger. Look at her."

"Huh. I do believe you're right."

By the end of Felicity's first week with us, it became obvious that something abnormal was going on. When she had found her way into the house that night, she had been an average sized housecat. She was now closer to the size of a mountain lion.

That was strange in and of itself, but what began happening next made us forget all about the growth spurt.

Felicity began reading books.

I walked into the study one afternoon, and there she was, sitting in the desk chair, a copy of Gray's Anatomy open in front of her. I had been at the desk a few minutes earlier, taking care of some insurance paperwork, and Arianne had gone to the supermarket. And then maybe the post office and bank. In any case, she was out of the house and I hadn't put the tome on the desk.

When I walked in, Felicity looked at me... and then politely moved out of my favorite seat, picking the book up in her mouth and carrying it over to the better light by the window. She laid it down and, as I stared dumbfounded, continued reading. Turning the pages and everything. By the time Arianne got home, Felicity had finished Gray's Anatomy and was reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

Things were getting pretty surreal in the vacation house on the mountain, let me tell you.

Especially the next morning when Felicity looked at me while Arianne and I were having breakfast and said, matter-of-factly, "Hawking has some good ideas, but his presentation leaves a lot to be desired."

"Honey," I said to Arianne, "did you hear what I just heard?"

Arianne just nodded, staring in shock at the now wolfhound-sized feline.

Felicity then sat back on her haunches, put her front legs up on the table, looked at each of us in turn and said, "I can not believe that some of you humans are proposing that John McCain person for president. I've heard of some dumb things, but... but... that would be like nominating Simon Cowell for Supreme Court Justice!"

We could only agree.

That afternoon, Felicity asked if we could set her up a lab in one corner of the recroom. By this point, I was just rolling with it, and agreed. I wondered how she would use any of the equipment, but then I noticed that her front paws had changed. The dewclaw had lengthened and now looked like a functional opposable thumb, and her toes had lengthened into what were nearly fingers... albeit ending in sharp claws.

Using the proceeds from an auction of some of the artwork that really hadn't done anything for either Arianne or me, I purchased some basic lab equipment and had it delivered, and set Felicity up as best I could.

A couple of nights later I was sitting by the fireplace, enjoying the latest Dean Koonz detective novel, when I heard Felicity muttering, "Well. We'll just have to integrate around the singularity." I looked over at her, and saw a man standing out on the deck. When he saw me, he turned to run and, in the moonlight, I noticed that he was the same man who had grabbed the stolen package of lutefisk and taken off without saying a word.

The next morning there was a strange van parked just down the street from our driveway. We had seen it in the neighborhood, often parked in front of a house that we knew was empty for the season. And we knew it didn't belong to any of our neighbors who lived nearby full time.

As I was looking out the window at the van, wishing I had my surveillance kit - which was at my office back in the city - Felicity walked up and said, "They're after me. They know I ate that lutefisk. I've got to get out of here, because you and Arainne are in danger as long as I'm here."

I looked over at her - not down, as she was now standing on two legs - and replied, "Well, you can't just walk out the door. A two legged cat-woman? In fact, you shouldn't even be standing near the window. Let me figure out how we can get you out of here, and you think on where we should take you.... We could hide you inside something... I have never wished that I played the tuba more in my life."

"I'll figure something out, Guy," Felicity said, handing me a slip of paper. "See if you can find some place like this."

I read the note she handed me, briefly amazed at the excellent handwriting from someone who, a week before, didn't even have hands, and began thinking while in the background I could hear Felicity rummaging through one of the closets.
She was looking for a place at the end of a rural road; literally a dusty backwoods place chock-full of peace and quiet.

"I've got it!" I cried, turning to tell Felicity of an old mountain cabin I had seen about an hour from nowhere, but I began laughing instead as I saw her standing there, dressed in one of my shirts, Arianne's jeans, and a big floppy hat.

"So, here's what we do," Felicity said after calling Arianne into the room and filling her in. "Guy, you go out and check out the van. If they are watching the house, they'll have to leave when they see you coming to talk to them. They can't do anything to you in broad daylight in front of your neigbors, after all.

"And, as soon as they leave, Arianne and I take off in the Woody, and she drops me off near that cabin. Then, sometime in the next week or so, you bring me my equipment."

"We should pack you some food and such, Felicity," Arianne said, but Felicity flashed her still sharp carnivore's teeth and said, "You don't need to worry about that. I can hunt for my food. After all, I do prefer a fresh kill to that packaged crap you humans eat."

So, I went outside and walked up to the van, but before I got to it, the engine started and they drove away. As soon as it disappeared around the curve, I waved and Arianne backed out of the driveway and took off in the other direction. I spent a tense couple of hours waiting and wishing I'd gone with them, but finally I heard the purring of the old Plymouth motor and met Arianne at the door.

She ran towards me and it was like the ending of one of those classic war movies where the soldier comes home: we met, I swung her up and gave her a kiss, hugging each other tight until our ribs were groaning. We went back inside, shut the door, and tried to get back to our normal lives.

The next day I remembered that I had told some of my investigator friends that I would attend a symposium starting on...I checked the calendar...September 15. I reached for the phone to call, trying to decide how to explain my absence. I considered blaming Costa Rican Independence Day...it's always a national holiday somewhere, right?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \mal-vur-SAY-shun\
Function: noun
Etymology: Malversation comes, via French, from Latin male, "badly" + versari, "to be engaged in, to take part in."

Misconduct, corruption, or extortion in public office.

"The Inspector General Act was designed to protect patriotic whistle-blowers who seek to reveal malversation in government."

— Arthur Schlesinger Jr., "How History Will Judge Him", Time, February 22, 1999

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Word of the Day


Pronunciation: \may-LAHNZH\
Function: noun
Etymology: Melange derives from Old French meslance, from mesler, "to mix," ultimately from Latin miscere, "to mix."

A mixture; a medley.

"Many books in popular psychology are a melange of the author's comments, a dollop of research, and stupefyingly dull transcriptions from interviews."

— Carol Tavris, "A Remedy But Not a Cure", New York Times, February 26, 1989

Thanks to Constant Comment for today's WOTD entry

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ShakesQuill Submission Guidelines

Like any rules here at ShakesQuill, the submission guidelines are open to review. Questions and recommendations are accepted and appreciated.

(Update No. 1: Altered Rule No. 3 on Reader Alerts - Sept. 24, 2008 - WKW)

-- Bill

ShakesQuill Submission Guidelines

1. Submissions are open to everyone, regardless of writing experience. If you have tried your hand at literature and want to share it in a supportive atmosphere, ShakesQuill is the place for you.

2. Submissions can be rejected for any reason. That said we will incorporate a very liberal policy on accepting submissions. If a writer has made an honest effort we will likely accept their submission. Submissions with racist, sexist, ableist language and themes with no other redeeming value will not be accepted, at the decision of the Editor.

3. Submissions with graphic themes will have a "Reader Alert" placed on top with the reasoning for the alert placed on the bottom of the story on the top of the story. This is in by no means any type of warning to the author. It is a warning to the reader. Powerful work is accepted, but we'd like readers to know what they're getting into.

4. Please submit your work via e-mail to wkwolfrum(at)gmail(dot)com. Please either include your submission as an attachment in a MS Word document or Notepad document. Do not just place a link as your submission.

5. Submissions should be single-spaced. If your submission requires special formatting, please note this in your submission e-mail.

6. At the bottom of your submission, please note how you would like to credited for the story, as well as any info about you or the work that you would like to include. One outside link per customer (you can link to any site you may have up at the Editor's discretion.)

7. The Editor is pretty easygoing and open-minded. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have.

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(Reader Alert: Strong subject matter)

I lay in the unpleasant stillness of my empty room, running my fingers against the grain of the harsh wood floor.


Frost covers the hopeful leaves outside my window and I watch the purple sky leak the last of its frozen tears.

I lay here, my body protected by little other than a t-shirt and my long blanket of black hair.

I meditated on the monotony of my frostbitten breaths, memorizing the height at which each puff of frozen air melts and disappears.

This is what I want, I tell myself. But I am not listening.

I give up, allowing my mind to wander around the petty and the trivial, skin unfeeling, wide eyes unseeing.


Submitted by Taylor Renee

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