Tuesday, January 31, 2006

David Raphael Israel has a story photo flash fiction post up today. I think you all will enjoy it. I've contributed a story, as well.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Roger cruised down Route 66 in his 1967 T-Bird. The motor was music of driving days gone by. The wind shaved past him. The sun on the open road seduced him into ever higher speeds. The landscape whizzed by in a frenzied blur. He was free. But something looked wrong: a blockade in the road ahead. As this loomed larger he saw it was a couple prone on the highway, smiling stupidly as he approached. How dare they!? No way would he stop. He accelerated right into them. No one would ever know he'd done it. Seconds later he was too far ahead on the deserted stretch of road to look back. There hadn't even been a bump. "Oh, wow," he thought to himself, marveling at the surreality of it. Then he saw it again, the blockade that resolved itself into the boy and girl directly before his approaching vehicle. All the while they grinned, as if inviting him to rocket into them. He tried to force the gas pedal through the floor, to get that one spurt of acceleration to bring him over the edge - into what? Now they appeared on every horizon the instant he hurdled into them. He rammed them again and again crazy with the thought of ultimate triumph, sending them into a death from which they could not return. But they always returned. Smiling at him. Laughing. The adrenalin soaked into his psyche until the sweat and the tension caused him to tremble. Then the light flashed "Game Over" and everything stopped.


He turned to leave the booth, then walked enthusiastically to the owner of the establishment.

"That was so cool, especially how those ghosts kept popping up. Really cool."

The proprietor looked at him strangely. "Ghosts? There are no ghosts. You just drive."

Story #331

Thanks to all who contributed! Stories have been reposted at indeterminacies. The next story here will be Wednesday. (This story is no author's cut. I went and reposted the additional ending).

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lila went to visit the friend she made in the pub. He was extremely poor and lived in a garbage can. "Is there room for two of us in there," she asked through the open lid. "Oh yes," the answer, "please enter my world." So she entered the ugly underbelly of existence, and found herself in a loft, vastness defined by distant walls all lined with fascinating colors of artwork. They seated themselves in plush arm chairs that nearly engulfed them, and smiled confidently at each other, enjoying the silent moments when nothing had to be said, only the exchange of glances proclaiming that they'd each found the one they were looking for. She was distracted for a moment as the lid of the container opened, and a sack of garbage emptied into the abode. She saw rotten vegetables and other refuse streaming towards her, but as it fell a transformation occurred. Ivory carvings and crystal vases landed on the tables all around, diamonds and emeralds, shining impeccably, pattered onto the floor. Paintings by a master's hand assumed positions in gaps on the wall. "My world is beautiful," he told her, winking slightly. She left him late into the night, wondering just how many hours it had been in his company, but she couldn't work it out. The next day she returned to see him again, to move in with him, as she knew it must be. But only bare walls greeted her expectant gaze into the dwellings. It was Wednesday. Garbage day.

Story #330

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sorry folks, I didn't get to write a story today. But I've posted a new translation at the Tucholsky blog: kurttucholsky.blogspot.com/2006/01/das-publikum.html

Monday, January 23, 2006

Contrary to popular belief the origins of chess are not Indian, Persian or Chinese. The game was devised on the planet Chaos-IV as a means for the two co-rulers to govern the unmanageable planet. After centuries of fierce and brutal warfare between factions of rigid traditionalism and adherents to radical unorthodoxy, wiser councils in the planet's population prevailed with a shrewd concept to bring both sides together, save the planet, and encourage the spirit of competition. The heads of state, the two ablest minds the respective factions had to offer, would play a game of chess to ascertain ruling decision. If the traditionalist won, the decision would be his. If the unorthodox ruler achieved checkmate, he would make the decision. In the event of a stalemate, a synthesis of both points-of-view established policy. This method provided the balance necessary for the planet to not only survive, but held the drawbacks of each approach in check. In practice it proved to have one limitation. Chess games could be excruciatingly long. If an urgent situation required snap judgment the two venerable leaders dispensed with the chess and flipped a coin.

Story #329

All the stories have been reposted at indeterminacies.blogspot.com. And good luck to Viruswitch who's playing against a real grand master of chess in a few days.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Instead of a story, I thought it would be fun to play a little game. Below I've copied in a quotation from Sherlock Holmes in "The Final Problem" (from "Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (1893) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). In it is hidden what I think is the most brilliant advice for good writing that I've come across. But I'm not sure how obvious it is. Please leave a comment telling me what you see, and I'll reveal my solution Friday.

The quotation:

"Oh yes, it is most necessary. Then these are your instructions, and I beg, my dear Watson, that you will obey them to the letter, for you are now playing a double-handed game with me against the cleverest rogue and the most powerful syndicate of criminals in Europe. Now listen! You will dispatch whatever luggage you intend to take by a trusty messenger unaddressed to Victoria to-night. In the morning you will send for a hansom, desiring your man to take neither the first nor the second which may present itself. Into this hansom you will jump, and you will drive to the Strand end of the Lowther Arcade, handing the address to the cabman upon a slip of paper, with a request that he will not throw it away. Have your fare ready, and the instant that your cab stops, dash through the Arcade, timing yourself to reach the other side at a quarter-past nine. You will find a small brougham waiting close to the curb, driven by a fellow with a heavy black cloak tipped at the collar with red. Into this you will step, and you will reach Victoria in time for the Continental express."

The Solution (posted Friday):

It's hard for me to write the solution when so many of you wrote it in the comments much better than I was going to. You've added insights that I never thought of. I assumed this would be so obtuse that everyone would write something different, projecting their own ideas of writing onto the quotation. But it turned out to be just plain elemantary, a child's play of induction.

It's just like Mrs. Weirsdo wrote. When writing something, and if you wish it to be original, never take the first idea, nor the second. The third may be safe. So much has been written. Maybe everything has been written. And what do people write? The first thing that comes to mind. In order to stand out, you must do more. This was merely an introspection gained by writing the weekend stories. I find those harder to write, because the picture has been determined, and can't be changed, whereas during the week I can just scan through photos until one catches my eye with an instant inspiration.

There's also much to be said for spontaneous writing and spontaneous inspirations. But they have been rare for me. There've only been a handful of photos for which I sat down, saw them, and immediately wrote out the entire story. The other times, I sent away idea after idea until one arrived that I thought was novel. Interesting that many of the writing instructions tell people to write the first thing that comes to mind. Some of my best stories have resulted from the second or third draft. Perhaps great writing is a rare blend of spontaneity and plan.

You are all hereby bestowed with a diploma granting you the status Doctor of Indeterminacy and Synchronicity. I will be preparing those this weekend.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Late at night when the weary sleep off the day's exhaustion the Nutella nymph flits from house to house searching kitchens and pantries for the tasty glass of ebony creme that makes life sweet. Unseen. Unsuspected. A slight lick and a taste she gives to bless each jar, then moves on to the next house. But as the night wanes her day begins, enveloping her in mundanities. It is the joy of the night and the blessings she dispenses that help her forget that day job, profane in its demands. But what can she do? Man must also live by bread. She must work, and the only place that gave her a job was the peanut butter factory.

Story #328

Sunday, January 15, 2006

All of a sudden it became light, physically and metaphorically. The light streaming through his pupil caused the iris to squeeze in around the tiny black opening. Also he remembered. So this was reincarnation. It was like in those "Tales from the Crypt" comics he used to read. He and Angie were madly in love, but her husband stood in the way. They schemed in secret to do away with him, the perfect murder. They would lure him into the basement with the sound of their lovemaking. All he had to do was open the door to the romper room and the bowl of sulphuric acid would spill over him, causing his head to dissolve. Unfortunately Angie's husband did not open the door. He crashed in through the cellar window, rushing at them with an axe. Brad and Angie, overwhelmed by the unexpected variation, scurried frantically to the prepared door. It finished them. The husband did get a few splashes of acid in his face, which ruined his eyes, but he was sped to the clinic, and - in a spectacular operation - given new eyes. One glance in the mirror and it became insightfully clear to Brad. He had been reincarnated as the eye of his intended victim. And what's more, as he looked into the mirror before the survivor's face, he could clearly see the other eye. It was Angie.

Story #327

Thanks to all who contributed stories! They will be moved to indeterminacies.blogspot.com in the next days. Any more contributions?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I am Pam

I am Pam
Pam I am

That Pam-she-is !
That Pam-she-is !
I do not like
that Pam-she-is !

Do you like my green friend Liz ?

I do not like her Pam-she-is
I do not like your green friend Liz

Would you like her left or right ?

I would not like her left or right
I would not like her in my sight
I do not like your green friend Liz
I do not like her Pam-she-is

Would you like her in a park ?
Would you like her in the dark ?

I will not meet her in a park
I will not touch her in the dark
I will not have her left or right
I will not have her in my sight
I will not like your green friend Liz
I will not like her Pam-she-is

Would you take her by the hand ?
Would you take her in the sand ?

Not by the hand
Not in the sand
Not at a park
Not in the dark
I do not want her left or right
I do not want her in my sight
I do not like your green friend Liz
I do not like her Pam-she-is

Would you ? Could you ? In a bar ?
Meet her ! Meet her ! She's a star

I would not
could not
in a bar

You may like her
She won't bite
You may like her
late at night !

I would not could not late at night
Not in a bar ! You are not right
I do not like her by the hand
I do not like her in the sand
I do not like her at a park
I do not like her in the dark
I do not like her left or right
I do not like her in my sight
I do not like your green friend Liz
I do not like her Pam-she-is

A bed ! A bed !
A bed ! A bed !
Could you would you
in a bed ?

Not late at night ! Not in a bed !
She's green I tell you ! Toe to head !

Would you kiss her
on the mouth ?

I would not kiss her on the mouth !
I would not kiss her North or South !
I would not could not touch her hand
I could not would not in the sand
I will not see her in the park
I will not see her in the dark
I will not see her left or right
I will not see her in my sight
I do not like your green friend Liz
I do not like her Pam-she-is

You do not like her
So you say
Kiss her ! Kiss her !
Then you may
Kiss her then you may I say

Pam !
If you will make her go
I will kiss her
So you know


Say !
I like your green friend Liz !
I do ! I like her Pam-she-is !

Story #326

Note from Indeterminacy: It has its flaws, but that's the best I could make it. My apologies to Dr. Seuss. For those of you who do not know the original "Green Eggs and Ham," go here, go there, go anywhere. This also happens to be one of my first childhood books.

I think that we can now agree that I should not write poetry.

Postscript: I didn't think of this when I wrote the above post, but there really are gals out there called Liz. One of them is right here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Meditatory remodeling, a most effective means of expanding your horizons within the capsulized realm of four confining walls, a floor and a ceiling. You concentrate on your dwelling place, and yourself inside it, belly flat on the floor, pressing your abdomen onto the surface with each breath - a symbolic effort to become one with the bosom of the building. The cycle of breathing has its own power of hypnosis - soon you find yourself drifting through the honeycombed path of your memories - intense memories attached to the dwelling. After a time, memories lounging in the spirit of the domicile mingle with the familiar memories you contribute, and ever deeper you drift into a unity with the soul of the architecture. May tried it, but she didn't feel at all different, in fact, she was about to break it off. She did not realize that her home had left its foundation to soar high into the heavens.

Story #325

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sorry, I didn't get to write a story today, but I've posted an introduction to the Tucholsky blog, and a short prose translation.

Monday, January 09, 2006

It was slow that evening so they whipped out their eyetops and began counting blogs. The first one to fall asleep would buy the next round. Usually they all fell asleep at the same time, so nobody bought. Those eyetop thingies were a cool rage. You plopped one up against your face and looked into the Internet at whatever you wanted, then clicked it with a blink of the eyes. If you had that chip accessory planted in your brain you could even blog and surf at the same time. You just imagined your rant, and voila! - it was a post. This saved valuable time for parties and socializing and other real-life events, if you could find them. Real-life events had become pretty scarce since the eyetops came around, and if the girls did find a place to meet boys, none ever showed up, because the boys themselves were too busy surfing and blogging, the new eternal cycle of life.

But then the girls had an idea to liven things up. They shot a meme into the Internet, and gazed expectantly through the viewing devices to see what would happen:

1) List your four favorite memes.
2) Add this meme as your fifth favorite.
3) Send these instructions to ten of your friends.
4) Work through the five memes, following each instruction to the letter.

They watched as the Internet imploded. Blog after blog vanished like a vacuum-filled soap bubble. It was so much fun. They would definitely have to blog about this later.

Story #324

Thanks for all the great posts, to be reposted at indeterminacies.blogspot.com.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Special Announcement!

I'll be back writing stories with the weekend photo. Also, this week marks the begin of a new project that I invite you all to follow. David Raphael Israel and I have begun a Kurt Tucholsky project in which I will translate a Tucholsky poem into English, staying as near as possible to the original, while David will work out a further translation or impression based on my version, and the form of the original. In other words, I will translate into English - David will translate into poetry.

Already the German language blogosphere has taken kind notice of our intention, with a report and well-wishes at the Kurt Tucholsky Weblog written by Friedhelm Greis, a member of the board of directors of the official Kurt Tucholsky Society.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I have to do something to get the Christmas post off the top of this blog! I'm still trying to work out a decent story to start with, or indecent, as the case may be. But until that's solved I decided to go with an interlude.

Two significant events occurred in December 2005:
1) Scientists discovered why the Mona Lisa is smiling.
2) The copyright on the German author Kurt Tucholsky expired.

What's the connection? Tucholsky had a poem about Mona Lisa, which I've attempted to translate, with little regard or feeling for poetic form, I'm afraid. But I thought I'd present it here in the hopes that more poetry blogs will link to me:

The Smile of Mona Lisa (1928)
Kurt Tucholsky

I can't turn my eyes from you
the way you hang over your guardian
with softly folded hands,
and grin.

As famous as the Tower of Pisa
your smile stands for irony.
Yes... why is the Mona Lisa smiling?
Is she laughing at us, about us, despite us, with us
against us -
or some other why?

You silently teach us what must be
because your image, Lisa, proves:
one who has seen much of this world
smiles, lays the hands on the abdomen
and is silent.

Tucholsky was a brilliant and prescient satirist of the Weimar Republic era in Germany who saw exactly where the country was going politically and warned against it. He was so on target, to me it's as if he could actually see the future. I'm not the first person to call his work visionary. I intend to translate some of his shorter pieces sometime soon, just to show how accurate they still are. I don't know if I'll present that here, but we'll see.

I hope this poem didn't bore anyone, but I figure if someone gets bored at my blog, it's better if it's not my writing that did it.

Postscript: I originally translated this to send it to David Raphael Israel as it related to his delightful lyric on Mona Lisa. He took my translation and made a real poem out of it, worthy of the original!