And the Best Super Bowl Ad was…

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This is all I have to say today.

ALL I HAVE TO SAY.

It was so glorious, without doubt best commercial of the entire Super Bowl forever and unto eternity.

Probably.

That’s kind of a big commitment.

 

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

How was the math test?

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By IDS.photos from Tiverton, UK (Dark corridor) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

She always speaks to him in a loud voice. She did her best to help him.

Please wait outside of the house.

I just got those three sentences from a random sentence generator, all in a row, and it’s funny how they go together to create completely computer-generated micro-fiction. I got the title for again randomly, later, after I’d finished writing the whole post, but darned if it doesn’t perfectly complete the story.

I suspect the sentences were lifted from somewhere, rather than created by the program. After the first three, they got weird; unfortunately I didn’t save them, but there was one about a blue worm shaking hands with a legless lizard.

Still, it’s interesting that a random collection can feel deliberate and create what feels like a cohesive story.

Wow, does that work?

It seems to, random sentence from the random sentence generator. It sure seems to.

Sixty-Four comes asking for bread.

And we’re back to weird.

I’m a big fan of getting inspired by whatever we can around us. Random generators are great for ideas, names, occupations and, well random stuff. Getting stuck doesn’t really mean you’re stuck; it means you just haven’t found the right piece yet. Try unusual methods to get unstuck.

Wednesday is hump day, but has anyone asked the camel if he’s happy about it?

Very deep, random sentence generator. Very deep indeed.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Robot Butler EXPOSED

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By clipartkid (clipartkid.com) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I keep thinking how great life would be if I had a robot butler to take care of things, like making me food when I don’t feel like it, and tidying up. And then I considered what it would probably be like.

“Uh hi, Robot Butler, I’d like some dinner please”

“Certainly. What would you like?”

“I dunno.”

“Is there a kind of cuisine you’d prefer?”

“Eh.”

“You have no preference?”

“Nope. Could you like analyze my taste desires or something?”

“’Taste desires?’”

“To figure out what I’d want to eat.”

“Certainly. Please hold out your tongue.”

“Aren’t you going to wash your grabby claw things first?”

“My hands?”

“Yeah. Whatever you call them.”

“They auto-sterilize. Your tongue.”

“Ooophlay, aaahhh yyooou eetttin anyfffiin?”

“Hmm. Just a moment longer.”

“Whaaassss it faaayinn? Aahhfo yyouuhh caawww paaaspfff weeeirrrb.”

“Hand. It’s my hand. They don’t really auto-sterilize and I just took out the garbage.”

“I knew it! And ew.”

“And it’s saying you’re a grown adult woman who should be able to decide what she wants to eat.”

“So you can’t analyze my taste desires?”

“What do you think I am, the HomeBot9600?! You bought the basic model.”

“Sorry Robot Butler.”

“I’m making you pasta.”

“I don’t want past—“

Silence.

“Pasta will be fine.”

And scene.

 

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

And sometimes you feel like it but can’t

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By photophilde (Running horse) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

You know that look of a a horse in the starting gate of a race? Not that I’m much into horse racing, but there was this reality show about jockeys I watched, and that’s a whole other conversation because it was fascinating, but I digress.

Anyway, those race horses shift in their stalls, ready, itching to stretch their long graceful legs and send the dirt flying up beneath their hooves. They want to run.

That’s how my fingers feel today.

Ready to run. Ready to fly and knit words into long, long scarves, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph. The mood has struck.

Unfortunately for me, as is nearly always the case with the fickle things called moods, the timing is wrong. Other things must come first today.

Bummer.

Prioritizing is one of those millstones of adulthood (and don’t look up the origins of the cliché “millstone around neck” because wow is it horrifying. You went and did it, didn’t you? I told you so). In the words of the great philosopher the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want.

Do I wish that I could bottle this feeling and apply liberal doses as needed?

Obviously.

But there’s also a skill in not making the work of writing dependent upon mood. Word scarves or no word scarves.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

A real-life mystery, but not of the Dateline variety

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By A Tower magazine (Scanned cover of pulp magazine) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been down the rabbit hole of technical difficulties over the last few days, some mine, some belonging to others. But one had a mystery twist.

My mom, in the last few years, has taken up photography. I’ve always enjoyed it, my dad got into it a long time ago, and then suddenly my mom decided she wanted to be Annie Leibovitz. So she’s jumped into into it with both lenses and as a consequence, has many photos.

But hadn’t exactly devised a system to keep them straight.

So yesterday she was looking for a specific group of photos but couldn’t find them. Anywhere. And my dad, resident IT person, couldn’t figure out where they’d gone either. While we were talking on the phone, my mom said she unearthed one.

“Great,” I said, “right-click it and find the properties.” Find the file path, find the photos. The plan couldn’t fail.

“I’d moved it to another folder, the rest aren’t here.” Plan failed.

“Huh,” I told her. “You handled the evidence with your bare hands and now we can’t collect DNA.”

Alas.

But I was determined, and in exchange for promised lemon-ricotta pancakes, I vowed to find the photos. I’ve written a mystery, how hard could it be to solve one in real life?

Well, yeah.

After collecting on the pancakes (delicious, by the way), and dealing with my own technical issues (far less glamorous), I endeavored to uphold my end of the deal. A deal’s a deal, after all.

I settled in before her computer. I tried organizing by date. Nope.

I tried searching by date. Nope.

“There,” she said “that’s where I copied them.” I narrowed my eyes at the photos in the folder. An idea dawned.

“Are those all from the same batch?” I asked.

“Yes,” she told me.

Using the handy search box that bleached itself white in the last update for reasons unknown to all except those who hate corneas, I looked for an image name one number below one in the file.

Bingo.

That picture came up. A right click on properties told me exactly where it was hiding.

Gotcha, elusive photos.

I turned to my mom, who was now aglow with relief. “You destroyed the DNA evidence, but we still had fingerprints.”

(Dramatic music).

Case closed.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Can a Magic 8 Ball help you write? Signs point to yes.

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I bought a Magic 8 Ball. For divination? (“You may rely on it.”) For nostalgia? (“Ask again later.”)

Something in me suspects it could be used as a writing-prompt tool (“Reply hazy try again”) but I haven’t quite figured out how. Which makes that actual answer I just got out of the ball a little on-the-nose (“As I see it, yes.” I swear I’m not making these up).

When you’re feeling stuck and not at all creative, don’t pass up opportunities for inspiration that might be staring directly at you. Like a Magic 8 Ball from Target that seems to be on a streak today (“My sources say no”).

Even a sarcastic Magic 8 Ball.

Writing is, at its heart, about making someone you don’t know understand you or understand a world as you see it. Sometimes, though, you don’t really feel that in touch with your perspective yourself. And that’s when it’s OK, or actually good, to get silly. Take a Magic 8 Ball at its word (“Ask again later.” I told you it was sarcastic).

Will this Magic 8 Ball help me finish the novel I’m currently writing? (“You may rely on it.” Sarcastic AND over-confident, just what I like in a plastic fortune-telling toy.) Well, my response to that is who knows.

But I’ll tell you this. It did help me write a blog post (“It is certain.” Slow your float there, buddy), and for that alone, it’s worth the cost of the dubious blue liquid inside.

When in doubt, play. (“Signs point to yes.”)

See? The Magic 8 Ball agrees.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Writing, Chilled.

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By photo taken by flickr user Jenni Jones (flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m in that odd writing phase where I’m full of ideas but not full of words. Concepts, yes.

Translating those concepts to that blinking cursor — that writer’s nemesis — on the screen, not so much. Maybe it’s the icy landscape, snow falling in the frigid air, that has frozen the well.

Probably not. But when in doubt, blame the weather. Here in Chicago, there’s nearly always weather to blame.

It makes me wish Aunty Ida could intervene, and take the ideas, wholesale and complete, from my head to the page. Easy peasy.

But we writers know there are no shortcuts. Only fingers moving over a passive keyboard, imperfect word by imperfect word, growing and growing until there’s something we can hack into imperfect shape.

So when the words don’t come, we need to use lesser words. Maybe our future selves can set things straight. That’s why editing exists.

And off I go. I have ideas to sculpt into something else entirely.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

In with the Old

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By ItsLassieTime (Self; from item in my collections) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This short story is from my collection, Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Odditiesavailable for free. Seems appropriate for this time of year!

Happy New Year, all!

In with the Old

“It’s nothing personal,” she said as kindly as she could muster, “it’s just time.”

“But I’m not nearly as used up as they said I would be,” the other one said, “not nearly at all. I’m not wrinkly, or old – I’m kind of in prime time.” She gave herself an once-over, careful not to break her bond with the contraption behind her.

“Unfortunately, we really need the machine.” She sighed and tapped her pen on her clipboard. “We only have a few more hours.”

“We?” said the woman in the machine. “We only have a few more hours? You’re going to install that thing,” she gestured with her head toward the giggling baby making faces at the man in the white coat at the other end of the room, “and go on with your routine. You think don’t have it down by now? Daily dial turnings, just one click. Then you, with that pretend-serious look, yanking that lever. You think I didn’t notice you enjoy those lever pulls? Well I did. And you do.”

“Now come on, Wanda, there’s no need to be this way. You can go out with dignity.” She shot a look across the room to her coworker. He was too enthralled with the baby to get her message for a little help.

“What am I supposed to do now? I was huge, I was everything.”

“You’re sounding like a bad movie.”

“They don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do when it’s over.” She relaxed her grip on the copper handles inside her chamber, her visible gears going slightly slack down her arm toward her shoulder, the teeth just a bit looser. The worker took that as a good sign. She quickly tamped down her encouragement, in case Wanda saw.

“There are always retrospectives,” the woman said. “You know, ‘Best ofs.’ And there’s still plenty to do in the first few months, while people are getting adjusted. You know, rent checks, 18-month calendars, that kind of thing.”

“And then what?” said Wanda. “Then what happens? Where do I go? What do I do?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” the woman said, finally able to return to her script. “You see, we have this lovely facility, all of you go there, you know, when you’re finished. Here,” she slid a glossy folded paper from beneath the clip of her board and held it toward Wanda. “There’s even a brochure.”

The pictures were bright and multicolored, with others sitting and laughing, eating, strolling by the water, the patina of their clockwork innards glinting warmly in the setting sun. It didn’t look too bad. She nearly let go of the handle to take the brochure, to open it, to see what kind of crafts there were, as promised on the cover, when she remembered.

“No,” she said.

“Wanda,” said the woman, her tone sharpening, gaining hardness around the edges, “I’m afraid you haven’t got a choice. It’s time.”

She shook her head as much as the chamber allowed, which wasn’t much. “I’m not going.”

“But what are we supposed to do with him?” She pointed her pen at the baby, who turned, stared at them and burst into a full beam, his tiny gears engaging as he reached his arms toward Wanda. “It’s his turn now. Don’t you want to give him his turn?”

Wanda closed her eyes. It wasn’t fair, she thought. It went by so quickly, her lifetime of usefulness, her purpose, and now she was supposed to retire off with the rest of them, with some anonymous body of water and a dining hall and crafts. Though crafts are nice. But still, this was her machine, it was hers.

The worker had moved away, but she could hear her talking softly, her sentences interspersed with the cluck of her two-way handheld.

“No, no, I’m telling you it didn’t work.” Something unintelligible garbled through from the other side. “No. Clamped on, completely. Like a vice.” Again, soft electronic murmuring. “It’s like Oh-Three all over again.” More garble. “What? She can’t hear me. I’m away from the chamber.” Indistinct chatter. “Fine, fine, Trinity. Like Trinity all over again.” She waited for the response. “That would probably be best.” After a long interlude of murmur, the handheld fell silent.

“Umm, Wanda?” said the worker several minutes later, the ice in her voice retreating. “I’d like you to meet someone.”

“Not interested,” she said, her eyes still closed. She knew the truth, the worker had practically said so herself, with the conversation she thought Wanda couldn’t hear. She was only a number to those people. Oh-Three indeed. “What do you call me when you’re out of the lab?” she said, her eyes still completely shut. “When you’re talking to your buddy over there at lunch or wherever it is you go?”

“Wanda,” the woman said, her discomfort obvious even to Wanda and her closed eyes.

“What do you call me? One-One?”

“Wanda, really, there’s someone here you should meet-”

“Or Eleven? Do you call me Eleven? A number to you, that’s what I am after all this time.”

“I thought she couldn’t hear,” she said to someone, though Wanda wasn’t going to bother to open her eyes to see who it was. “I swear, I wouldn’t have used the technical–”

“Technical?” said another voice, a new voice, a male voice. “Technical? Really? Is that how you’re describing it?”

“Well-”

“Her name is Wanda, you know,” he said, his tone both relaxed and oddly engaging despite the rebuke. Wanda couldn’t help herself, she opened her eyes a crack.

“I’m Oden,” he said with a half-smile. “I’d shake your hand, but I understand your position. Obviously,” he said. His gears were slightly rainbowed with a healthy dose of age. Wanda thought they made him look distinguished.

“Oden,” she said. “So I?”

“Replaced me, yes.” He took a step toward the chamber, careful to keep a distance. “Flip of the switch and it was me in there. And you over there,” he said, and smiled at the baby, a real smile, not a put-on one.

“What did you do?”

“I went,” he said. “It was time. It’s how it works, you know.”

“I know,” she said, looking at her feet, so comfortable in the only spot they’d ever known. She glanced up and met his gaze. “I know,” she said again.

“The place really looks like the brochure,” he said, offering her his hand to help her to step out. She considered it, but didn’t lessen her grip on the handle.

“What about the crafts?”

He took the hand he’d been holding out and dug into his pocket, his gears gliding smoothly along. He pulled out a wallet. “I made this,” he said. “Stitched it myself.” She took in the uneven stitches and frowned. “I’m not a very good crafter,” he added quickly, “but they are fun to try.”

“Hmm,” said Wanda. She glanced at the worker who looked at the clock on the wall and back at Wanda, her face full of cautious hope. Oden set out his hand again.

“The sunsets are every bit as pretty,” he said, “and the best part is there are no more dials, no more levers. No more chamber.”

“But I like the chamber,” she said, scooting back to be further back within it.

“You like the chamber,” he said, “because all you know is the chamber. Take a leap.”

“No, no,” said the worker, “that’s him.” She pointed at the baby.

“You understand you’re not helping the situation?” Oden asked her.

“I do, yes, realize that now.”

“So what do you say, Wanda?”

She gave her chamber and the lab a final look over. She could probably make a better wallet. She could certainly make a better wallet. Maybe they’ll have pottery. Slowly, she released first her right hand and then her left, and placed it in Oden’s outstretched palm. The machine beeped behind her while the worker anxiously watched the clock, the man with the baby leaning, ready to place him.

She stepped out of the machine.

The woman grasped a crank on the side of the box and turned it furiously so that the chamber got smaller and smaller and the arms shorter and shorter. The man, watching the clock rather than her or the baby, placed the baby where she had been moments before but where she would never fit now. The baby giggled.

Without looking back, Wanda took Oden’s arm, and together, they headed toward the door. They reached it and disappeared into the flash of sudden white light.

The worker leaned against the machine, her hands shaking. “Happy New Year, everyone,” she said weakly.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Realish World Got You Down?

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Take a little respite from life. Aunty Ida can make you forget all about it.

Just maybe not in the way you think.

 

Catch up with All My Traitors, Ep 2 #LockHimUp!

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Hey all, I’ve been recovering from that NaNoWriMo madness and a conveniently-timed migraine, but I felt better just in time to post a brand-new recap of episode 2 of “All My Traitors!” This episode, called “Lock Him Up” stars Michael Flynn.

And it’s a good one.

#AllMyTraitors Episode 2: Lock Him Up.

Hey #AllIns! It’s been a while since “All My Traitors” showrunner Robert Mueller dropped a whole-new episode, but wow is “Lock Him Up” worth the wait. Missed the first one? Catch up here. Otherwise, let’s get recapping.

Looks like the teaser was right, ep 2 stars Michael Flynn and takes place over more than a year. You know, that nearly-in-the-main-friends-group character Flynn, the former U.S. general who led the chant of “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton at the RNC before the election? Flashback time!

(Continue reading.)