10-Word Story Challenge #3

November 14, 2017

I’ a little behind (okay WAY behind) in getting these out, but I’m still doing them. These are published here as posted on my Facebook page. All stories are credited to the author; unmarked entries are my works.

Blind Dates

“Her rusty blonde hair matched her seeing eye dog’s.”

“Is this her?” He thought. “Please, not him.” She thought.–Gregory M. Bruce

“Oh, great! Short in stature and on manners. Cheap, too!”–Gerri Hancock

“After creepy intimacy, neither knew the other’s name, nor asked.”–Heather Munn

“Through dinner and drinks, we never glanced past our phones.”

“I like red”. “I like green”. “We complement each other”–Rod Cummings

They didn’t say another word. They knew it was over.”–Gregory M. Bruce

Their love was truest because neither could see the other.”–Rod Cummings

Dad! You’re my Tinder Date?!?!?!”

It was a blind date, but I needed the blindfold!”–Marc K’urlii Eytina

As she gazed upon his face, rage swelled within her.”–Joel Araujo

It was clear that he could turn heads and stomachs.”–Gerri Hancock

“Exactly what made you think she was MY type?”

“The lobster and wagyu surf and turf, please” “Goodbye ‘–Rod Cummings

She turned the corner. Was blind, but now I see.”–Scott Will

“Cousin Jenny! Why are you–?” “I think I’m your date?”–Rod Cummings

“The waiter, in an act of pity, comped my meal.”–Gerri Hancock

“She was cute, but her mother was HOT.”

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NaNoWriMo, Hmmmm?

October 23, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I need to figure out if I’m going to take part in the National Novel Writing Month­—or NaNoWriMo—at all this year; and if I am, figure out what I’m going to do. This year it’s a fairly easy answer to the first part, Yes, and I know what project to work on.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to turn an old web series video project into a full length theatrical play. I had enough of the series started to give me pat of the first act, and I had to get the rest done. For the better part of a year, I’ve been stuck on the first scene of the second act, making very little headway. I went back to look over some of my original notes (SUPER helpful) and, since I now have a better idea of where to go with the play, I decided to jump start the process by committing to at least one page a day for the NaNoWriMo. It’s there to spur on creativity and the writing process for millions, so I might as well take advantage of it. Is it a novel? No, but a good play reads like literature and I’m moving ahead with that.

Actually, I didn’t know about Script Frenzy for screenplays and plays back about ten years ago. They do their writing for April. At the time I wasn’t in the state of mind to take that on, and it has now been defunct since 2011—pretty much near the height of my mental collapse. The NaNoWriMo is still going strong and any writing is good writing, so might as well take advantage of it while I can. I will be avoiding the NaNoBloMo—National Blog Posting Month, same November month—as I don’t want to overload myself.

We’ll see how all this goes. Not going to post updates or page/word counts as many do, but I will definitely assess things at the end of the month.

This was my Facebook status last weekend:

To ALL African-Americans out there,
I voted for Jill Stein in 2016,
and it didn’t matter because
it didn’t help Trump get elected.

Some Background: We all know the events of last year’s presidential election. Hillary Clinton got 65.9 millions votes to Donald Trump’s 62.9 million yet lost the electoral college by 77 electoral votes. I didn’t vote for Clinton, voting for Jill Stein hoping to get the Green Party to 5% to get matching funds in future elections. That never happened as she only got 1.6% of popular votes and no electoral votes at all; yet that still hasn’t stopped many on the left from blaming her and/or those that voted for her for costing Clinton the election and giving Trump the presidency. If the 2,395,271 voters–or 1.7% of popular vote–had cast a vote or president had gone to Hillary, she would have won. Or if the 46% of eligible voters who stayed home instead cast a vote, she might have won. There are many more ways Clinton could have won, but somehow it’s the Green Party voters that did it.

But this election has been analyzed and as depressing and bruising as it was why bring it up again now? Because Hillary wrote a book about the campaign. Titled “What Happened” Secretary Clinton recounts, in her estimation, why she lost the presidency to Tiny Hands Trump. According to the review in the New Republic, “this book is precisely what her critics predicted it would be…When Clinton does discuss what went wrong, it’s mostly to point fingers.” From the leaked pages criticizing Bernie Sanders, it was pretty much how I thought it would go. With the release of the book, a lot of unhealed wounds from 2016 were ripped fresh and people were arguing like it was the day after the Democratic Convention.

To that end a friend of mine put up a Facebook post defending Clinton in that progressive men were berating her for writing a book, asking “if you wanted Clinton to stop Trump, maybe you should have voted for her?” So with my own hackles admittedly up and unnerved, I commented “I’m berating her for blaming everyone but herself for her own loss. And that’s when the trouble began.

My friend had a “troll”/friend–a liberal “progressive” who got on my case for supporting and voting Stein over Clinton. It went back and forth for a while, but I got pissed when he said I wasn’t a “real” progressive while implying I also wasn’t a real “Negro.” I know, I know, I should have cut my losses at the word “negro” (his word, for real), but he caught me WAY off my scheduled meds, so the full Brooklyn experience was in full effect. When he countered that no one in the African-American community would agree with my decision, I put the headline above as my Facebook status. It was a middle finger to his challenge, even though I really should have taken a few deep breaths and walked away. I got some support and some arguments on the post, but one good point made out of all of them: why are we still having this debate when we should be working on fighting the current administration?

My friend is absolutely right (as she usually is). I got sucked into a blame game when there’s more important work going on or that needs to be done. It doesn’t even matter how many of my friends are with me or not, as long as I’m arguing with internet trolls whose opinions are meaningless to me, I’m wasting my time. Rather than bother with it, I’m writing it out of my system and letting it go. I couldn’t care less what he was trying to prove, I don’t care what others I’ve never met feel about my choices, the fact is the election is over and we need to get to work and fix things. Everyone wants to hold onto grudges because it’s easier to look backwards than it is to move forwards.

Consider this: my status headline soon after the first one was the following:

Ten Things the Drumpf Administration has done while We’ve been talking about Hillary’s Book.

The comments included links to things Trump did from the Tuesday when the book pages were leaked to the Tuesday after the book was released (see the links below). Granted more has happened since I posted the links, but that’s why we need to pay attention. Clinton’s book should be treated for what it is: another big distraction keeping our minds off of real problems.

I can’t guarantee this will be my last troll battle on the internet and it’s not our first, but each time it gets easier to ignore the insects and keep moving forward. Haters are gonna hate and I can’t do anything about that except remember not to make their drama yours.

 

What Trump Has Done While We’ve Been Arguing About Hillary’s Book.

White House to Lower Refugee Quota Below 50,000 

Trump Ends DACA

Trump Pushes Tax Reform After Response to Hurricane Aid

UN Pushes Sanctions on North Korea

State Department to Close Guantanamo

State Department Approves $3.8B Sale to Bahrain

DeVos to Scrap Campus Rape Protections

Hurricane Harvey “Toxic Soup” in Houston

DOJ Won’t Charge Police in Freddie Gray Case

Trump Election Commission Setting Up Road to Voter Restrictions

 

10-Word Story Challenges

August 30, 2017

Lately the 10-word story prompts have been really spurring on my creativity. Trying to get a story in ten words or less is pretty fun and can be challenging (for a real challenge, try the 6-word Science Fiction challenge). I was doing this with friends on Facebook with a theme to follow. I will in the future post one theme only per post, but since I was late getting this together and as one challenge had more turnout than the other, I’m listing two themes today. Most entries are written by me except where indicated. Hope you enjoy these from me and my friends.

School Experience:

One year older, new grade, new school, same old target.”

Two jobs to afford private school. He’ll appreciate it later.”

Learning would be fun if it weren’t for the people.” –Scott Will

When the day finally came for her ascension, she panicked.” –Marc Eytina

Screenwriting Bachelors. One sale kills debt. Who ordered venti frappucino?”

Birthday Party:

Robert cried at the ‘Happy birthday Roberta’ cake.”

Surprise!! Happy birthday Jim! Jim? Someone call 911.”

Blood. Placenta. Screams. Yup. Just like my birth day.” –Rod Cummings

Why are you naked? I thought it was my birthday.” –Antonio Jacobs

““Candlelight dinner. Two hours waiting. Solo birthday toast again.”

Things were fine until the piñata. Emergency rooms suck.”

Birthday wrapping without Biggie here ain’t no rap at all.” –Gregory Bruce

Cake was never the way Josh celebrated. Not after Copenhagen.” –Marc Eytina

I said I’d THINK about a puppy. I did. Enough!”

“Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to-” sigh. Click. BANG.” –Rod Cummings

Birthday shopping for someone with nothing and doesn’t want anything.” –Gregory Bruce

Make a wish. Poof! Things look different through your eyes…” –Antonio Jacobs

‘Quick! Open mine next!’ ‘No thanks, Schroedinger, I think I’ll keep it closed for now.'” –Rod Cummings

The cake. The bloody knife. Nobody singing. Bobby’ last birthday.” –Gregory Bruce

‘Surprise!’ They cried! ‘Wrong house!’ I replied” –Rod Cummings

Why does this sparkler candle say ‘dynamite’?” –Rod Cummings

Seriously, what’s a baby going to do with myrrh?”

Redux

August 7, 2017

I hate feeling stuck, especially with writing, but that’s where I am. I’m taking an older project that was supposed to be a web series and adapting for a stage play. The first act is done, but I’m stuck at Act 2, Scene 1, and it’s driving me nuts. I knew how I wanted the act to end and I got it there, and I know where the rest of the play is supposed to go, but where I a now is unsure. I don’t know where I am and how to move forward (story of my life, I guess). Part of it is I’m used to stopping and starting on a dime, moving on from the end point. Not this time. I’m going back to what I wrote and read it from the beginning, plus rereading my character bios just so I can get reacquainted with the material and get where to go. I don’t like it, but it’s necessary.

Some of the blog writing is helping me climb out of this writing rut. Plus there are a couple of inspired prompts that got some creative juices flowing again. It’s been a while and I am apparently much rustier than I thought. I need to rework some muscles and stretch out after a long absence.

Things in my life seem to be slipping away. Things that were at the core of my identity, things I could look to and say “this is who I am,” are becoming lost to me over the years. I had creative life goals to work for; now making it through the day is the only goal I hope to achieve. I was a nice guy for so long that it was evident; these days even saying “I’m a nice guy” rings false to my ears. I feel bitter and empty, and it’s showing more and more. I’ve been on a slow downward spiral for close to a decade, even with some financial stability I feel lost. Even though I’ve hit bottom, every time I start to climb out of it, falling back makes the hole deeper.

What’s hardest is I’ve shut a lot of people out. I don’t talk to anyone on the phone anymore, except my parents. Facebook comments to friends are common, but not always updating my status is not so much and vague.Trying to bridge that gap is a major challenge for me. I’ve abandonned them, but I’ve twisted it in my head so they’ve abandonned me. Since reaching out has never been my strongest point, I wind up stuck and alone.

My blog posts are non-existent as of late, I know that. I barely write anymore. I have so much unfinished work at various stages and they are laying dormant. And much like reaching out, it’s not that I’ve lost a gift as that I’ve abandonned those gifts. Instead of the passion I felt to start writing a project, I feel ashamed to try and start where I left off.

Things are a jumble in my hear. It’s all an endless void of suck. Thoughts and emotions get mixed up and I’m lost. I feel bad not that I’m letting myself down, but that I’m letting everyone else down. I always put myself last, so it’s okay, even though it’s not. I’m not in complete despair but, I can recognize the look and details of it as it appears closer. I knew it before sometime ago so I know what it looks like. A blog post won’t flip everything around, but it’s something.

Poem: Saliva

May 1, 2017

As Chuck D. once said, “I don’t freestyle much/but I write ’em like such.” A poem I wrote a while back about the written and spoken word. I read it at church for a poetry service on Sunday.

SALIVA

I wish I could spit.
I wish I could throw
Verses and verbs
Masses of words
Heavy hitting or honey soaked
Making their way from
Throat to mind
In slow trickles or flash floods
Cleansing thoughts
Eroding emotions
Clearing sediment and sentiment
Caught in its wake
Polishing rough ideas
Into smooth, oblong and rounded
Philosophies.
I wish I could flow
A constant stream of
Running tributes and tributaries
Interconnecting rapids
And rapid fire monologues
Faster and faster
In waves of crashing consonants
Constantly streaming sentences
Flowing down streams of consciousness
Flooding the banks and barriers
And other internal censors
As a torrential downpour of ideas
Runs into the sea.
I wish off the top of my head
I could spew forth
Rhymes like Vesuvius
Stopping people and cities
Dead in their tracks
Or smack like Krakatoa
A pop heard ’round the world
Making my presence known
Metaphors harden when
They hit the water
Bedrock expanding outwards
From the sound of my voice.
But I don’t spit.
My words sink slowly
Into the sheet
Filling in the veins of
Pierced wounds on a page
Fangs put to parchment
Ink of mixed blood and venom
Deadly to the glance
Waiting to strike
And with a touch
Seeps into the skin
Disrupts the system
Coursing through your mind
One word at a time.

It’s hard to say which I’ve been losing more of: my courage to write or my will to write. I can’t say it’s a lack of ideas, although writer’s block doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of ideas. In all my life, I’ve never been unable to generate ideas; my head is constantly filled with them. While overload of ideas might be a problem, I’m not sure that the case with me at this time. Thinking it over, I’ve narrowed it down to lack of courage and lack of willpower. They are subtle, but there are differences.

Courage is easier to define. It’s having the balls not just to write whatever comes to mind, damn the critics—both inner and outer—but also the balls to do it regularly. It’s not the same courage that it takes to put on a uniform, pick up a gun, and fight for your country; it’s the courage to put thoughts to paper or posts to prevent countries from going to war. That and every bit of sentiment and emotion from there on down. Willpower is the practice itself. It’s the daily effort to stare down a blank page or screen until your eyes bleed or you start writing, whichever comes first. The more often you do it the easier it gets and the more reflexive it becomes.

Mine has always been a struggle between courage and will. There are days I have the time and abililty to write, but my inner voices have me silenced. Other days I know exactly what to say, but get swamped, exhausted, distracted, or all three at once. The end result is the same: months without any writing output and occasionally forced to produce on a deadline. And all that while writing becomes fearful, less instinctive, and less productive.

It’s not effortless to write this, but it’s not easy. This isn’t what I should be writing now, but it’s what I can put out now. I’ve been underusing muscles, not only in the gym, but in my mind. My knees are bothering me, but that can be healed with rest and physical therapy. My stagnation is bothering, but the only way to fix that is to write a little bit at a time. Hopefully I can heal myself, body and mind, eventually.

The scars of the 2016 presidential election will take a while to feel less tender and fade; right now they still hurt. During the summer, there was a lot of animosity on both sides leading up to the general, as well as a lot of backlash to anyone who wanted to vote third party. Or at least for anyone not one of the major two party candidates. Social media of all types was not a friendly place for a good 6 months. You post one meme or a photo and suddenly the comments become the Delta House food fight via the Algonquin Round Table. One meme I posted I actually didn’t get a lot of flack for, but it helped me talk to my now 14 year old daughter about the election.

This was one of those Harry Potter based memes saying “this is what our election is like” and displaying two of the Potter world characters. Usually it was Dolores Umbridge as a stand in for Clinton, and Voldemort for Trump; however this time it was Umbridge and Gilderoy Lockhart. I thought it was cute, but I knew my daughter would love it. She’s read all the Potter books and she can explain all the differences between the books and the movies to me (I never got into the books, but I like the movies). I showed the meme to here and broke out laughing, even more so than me.

“That’s so perfect,” she said. “Lockhart is kind of a blowhard who only thinks of himself, so that’s perfect for Trump.” Then she looked at me a bit quizically, and asked “How Clinton is like Umbridge again?”

I had to think about this for a minute. I know that Umbridge is hated in the Potterverse for good reason, and there are enough parallels to Clinton to make it awkward for me to watch “Order of the Phoenix” any time it came on. Translating what I knew about Clinton to the Potterverse is ticky, but I knew enough to try and explain it via the films.

“Remember how Umbridge was completely unwavering in her belief in what she was doing was right, even though the students and us viewers knew she was completely wrong? Well that’s how she’s like Clinton. They are very forceful advocates of what they think is right, even when it is wrong, and even to the point of being unable to admit it’s wrong.” She totally understood that when I explained it.

The main attack by Hillary supporters about why us progressives don’t support Hillary was sexism. Unfortunately this ignores the fact that many of us were hoping for a Elizabeth Warren run and after Bernie bowed out, many switched to Jill Stein. My issues wit Hillary Clinton, while often about political leanings (third-way democrats have always been far too conservative for my sensibilities), have always been policy based. Using Umbridge to explain Clinton makes it easier to explain. Hillary has always been a smart and fierce advocate for what she believes and champions, which is good if she’s on the right side of an issue; but when she is on the wrong side of an issue—like the Iraq war, the toppling of Libya’s government, the various trade agreements including the TPP, and not speaking out on behalf of activists like Black Lives Matter or the DAPL water protectors—she is a tough opponent, a great asset to the opposition, and makes the activist’s job twice as hard. And much like how Umbridge can do it with a smile makes that all the more frustrating.

Earlier in the year, a friend of mine wrote two very heartfelt essays about her daughter and Hillary Clinton. One was how she wanted her daughter to hear the words “Madam President” and now was the time; the other was a plead asking how can she explain to her daughter what would it mean for her if Trump won the presidency. I don’t have an answer for her daughter except offering up what I told my daughter at different times in the year. I told my daughter I wouldn’t be voting for Hillary, even after Bernie Sanders lost the primaries, because as much as it is important to have a woman in the office of President, it is equally important to have a woman who has the history to back up her own convictions, and is on the right side of an issue more often than not. Yes I voted for Jill Stein in 2016. I am not ashamed of that vote, but I am sorry more people didn’t follow that example. And no, I’m not the reason Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump: I’m not one of the 46% or voters who left the presidential candidate blank; they cost the election for her. I am almost 48, work part-time, am still using food stamps to survive with my daughter, and the only thing I have to leave her if ever I should go are my values. That’s the only thing I currency I have in my life to fall back on and I’ll be damned if I can’t give that to my only child. If I give up my values I have nothing else. I’m sure I will feel the wrath of friends and trolls alike for this, but I will vote my values whenever given that choice.

When Trump won in the late morning hours of the day after the election, I told my daughter that no we won’t need to move to Canada, we’ll be fine and we’ll do our best to fight. Oddly, I still take comfort in words Dumbledore said at the end of another movie—“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”: “There will be a time when we must choose between what is right and what is easy.” I know I chose right for both me and my daughter.

Friday Night News Dump

November 13, 2015

This is a sort of compilation of mini blogs of events that I hadn’t posted during the week:

  • I don’t have a word count for all the postings I’ve written so far during NaBloPoMo. It’s obviousy way below the 25,000 word halfway mark of the NaNoWriMo challenge. Just glad to be posting more often and regularly.
  • I haven’t been keeping up on the sci-fi western short story. This is not even because of the aforementioned blog writing, but because I’m too exhausted. I still can’t get used to getting up at 5:30am for Sophia then waiting to go to work. All I want to do is sleep for a few days straight, that would help. Granted it doesn’t help that I haven’t been to the gym in forever…
  • I have my zombie apocalypse team in place. There is a pre-zombie infection feature length script I want to write and I figured out the of characters on the team and how they know each other. This is sort of Fear the Walking Dead and Contagion via Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” For what I have in mind, I can’t simply throw characters who don’t know each other and watch them come together; I need to get a loosely cohesive group of people trying to survive and watch them fall apart, Have the group; next is fleshing out the timelines and plot.
  • Rented Pitch Perfect 2 with Sophia the other day because the Peanuts Movie show we wanted to see was already sold out when we got there. The film wasn’t what I expected, not a bad sequel. Nice ending. Felt less cohesive than the first film. The original was better, but the sequel was a decent film.