Archive for Writing

All in all, a very good year.

What I didn’t do in 2008: write enough, travel outside the country, make a lot of money.

What I did:

March 11

March 11

March 14

March 14

May 4, 2008

May 4

June 22

June 22

September 13

September 13

November 4

November 4

November 26

November 26

(Yes, I’ve taken more recent photos. No, I haven’t uploaded them yet.)

A resolution: I will birth more stories in the coming year than I did babies in the last.

What do you want for 2009? Share your new year’s resolutions in the comments!

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Just Desserts – Chapter 2

Maltose and Dextrose, the brave explorer and the easily-bribed sidekick, flew far, far from home. They flew all through the day, watching the patchwork quilt of the land fade away into the rippled, glassy sea. When night fell, they huddled in the bottom of their Vessel and gazed at the pinprick stars in silence until they fell asleep.

“Land! Land!” Maltose raised her head at Dextrose’s cries. She tipped her pith helmet back and looked where he pointed, and saw cliffs, stark against the breaking dawn.

ARRIVAL

“Not just land.” Maltose squinted. “Buildings. Peeple.”

“Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!” Dextrose bounced up and down in his excitement.

“Sounds good to me!” Maltose steered the Vessel toward the strip of grass at the top of the cliff. As they drew near, she saw the villagers gather in small groups outside their houses, watching them approach. The Vessel bumped to a halt at the outskirts of the village, but the only peep to approach was a small child, who stood staring at the Vessel in awed silence. The other villagers remained huddled around their huts, whispering amongst themselves.

“They must not be used to outsiders,” Maltose mused quietly aloud. “Imagine the many thousands of years that their small culture has been here, isolated on this clifftop, needing nothing more than grass huts and coconut palms to survive. No doubt we seem miraculous to them – perhaps even godlike. That means,” she told her companion solemnly, “that we have a duty to these primitive people. We must speak slowly and carefully, and try not to shock them with concepts too complex for their savage intellect.”

But Dextrose was not listening. “Shopping!” he cried, and scrambled out of the Vessel.

THE VILLAGE

Maltose followed, and stood by Dextrose’s side, looking up at the sign. “Oh. Yes,” she said. “Well.”

ENTERING ANTIQUE SHOP

“Can we go in, Maltose? Can we, please?” And without waiting, Dextrose ducked through the low door.

ANTIQUE SHOP

Inside, the shop was dusty and dimly lit. Small statues, jars, and carvings lay scattered about, and cracked paintings hung from the dark walls. In the gloom, they could see the shopkeeper behind the counter, nodding in half-sleep.

“There’s something strange about him,” Dextrose murmured.

“Don’t be prejudiced,” Maltose scolded. “He’s just like the other villagers – they’re all pink and have large ears. You can’t expect peeple everywhere to be just like they are at home.”

“But that’s just it,” Dextrose said slowly. “He looks . . . familiar, somehow.”

The shopkeeper snorted and awoke fully. “Tourists!” he cried cheerfully, and waddled out from behind the counter. “Welcome, welcome to our little village, where everything is just as it should be and nothing is as it shouldn’t! Can I interest you in some artifacts or native painting? All one hundred-percent authentic!”

He herded them over to one side of the room. “See this stone tablet? Five thousand years old if it’s a day. And yours for such a low price! What do you think, Madam?” He asked as he held it out for Maltose’s inspection.

THE CURIOS

“I don’t – I think – I mean, we’re just looking,” Maltose stammered. The shopkeeper looked at her face sharply as she spoke, then his eyes widened and he dropped the tablet. It broke into three pieces when it hit the floor.

“Oh, no!” Dextrose wailed, “It’s broken!”

The shopkeeper waved distractedly at him. “Never mind, young Sir. It’s worth more in three pieces than in one anyway. Might I ask, respected customers, from whence you hail?”

Here Maltose felt on firmer ground. Speaking slowly, using small words and grand gestures to communicate, she told him about the Strange Land Across The Big Water, and the Tribe of Yellow Peeps who lived there. She explained about the Great God known as the Adventure Bug who had told them to Journey Far Away To Foreign Lands. As she spoke, he grew pale, and stumbled back behind his counter. He drew out a piece of paper, wadded it up, and wiped it across his shining forehead. As he did so, his ears wobbled alarmingly, and he reached up to steady them.

“That’s it!” Dextrose was triumphant. “The ears! They’re not real! He’s actually a Peep like us! But Pink!”

“Hush! Hush, perceptive young Sir.” The shopkeeper looked nervously about. “I have been living among the villagers in disguise for many years, they must not discover my deception.”

“But why?” They were edging out of Maltose’s comfort zone, and she was not entirely pleased. Natives were supposed to be grateful recipients of her exotic tales – they weren’t supposed to have urgent dramas of their own.

“Because I was sent here, far from the shimmering desert of my home, twelve years ago.” He wiped his forehead with the wad of paper again. “I was sent here to wait. For you.”

Oh, well, that’s all right then, Maltose thought dazedly. As the two Peeps stared at him, beaks gaping, the shopkeeper looked down at the stained, crumpled paper in his hand. “Oh, vegetables!” he cursed, and frantically began smoothing it out on the counter. “Twelve years of waiting, and I almost ruin the map.”

Maltose and Dextrose sidled closer.

THE MAP

“But what’s it for?” Dextrose asked.

“And where does it lead?” Maltose added. “And why us?”

The shopkeeper, beginning to recover his composure, smiled enigmatically. “It is for, and leads to, a great treasure hidden deep in the perilous desert. As for why you,” he shrugged. “That I do not know. I always thought it should have been someone taller, myself.”

Dextrose grabbed the map and began hopping up and down. “A treasure hunt! A treasure hunt!” he sang. “C’mon, Maltose! Let’s go, quick! Before the other teams find it!” He raced out of the door, heading back to the Vessel.

Maltose narrowed her eyes at the grinning shopkeeper. “It isn’t that easy, is it?” she asked him.

“Define ‘easy’.”

Maltose groaned, and left the shop without further questions. Bitter experience had taught her that asking questions just got her answers she didn’t want.

She climbed back into the Vessel, where Dextrose was waiting impatiently. As they took off, she could see the small child who had been so fascinated with the Vessel running along the ground below them, waving. She waved back, then turned to her excited companion. “A treasure hunt it is, then.”

LEAVING TOWN

(Chapter 1)

Set-Designer, Fetcher-of-New-Batteries-for-Camera, and Master of the Photoshop Domain: Husband. Story-Writer and Photo-Snapper: Uccellina.

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Just Desserts – Chapter 1

Dextrose was feeling smug. That morning he had spent one hour baking cookies, another hour eating them, and then he had watched paint peel for a full forty-five minutes. Now it was afternoon, and he had just finished organizing his socks (by both color and country of origin.) He narrowed his eyes and lowered his chin as he looked in the mirror. “There,” he announced to the empty room, “stands one productive Peep.”

But it wasn’t much fun being fabulous all by himself. He turned away from the mirror and ran to find his best friend.

“Maltose!” He was a little out of breath as he skidded into the room. “You have to come see my sock drawer!”

MALTOSE GAZES OUT OF THE WINDOW

Maltose, staring out the window, only heaved a sigh so deep it seemed bottomless. “Did you ever wonder,” she asked mournfully, “when all the excitement left our lives?”

Dextrose thought about this. “Nope. Life has been nice and quiet since we got back from our journey. So, ready to come see my sock drawer?”

Maltose glanced at him over her shoulder. “You,” she informed him, “are a Philistine.”

“What’s that?”

She looked back out of the window. “I’m not sure, exactly. But I know you are one.” Outside the sky was grey, and the sea in the distance was curling white and high on the rocks. “I’m sorry. I’m just . . . just . . . restless, is all. All day I’ve been feeling like something is wrong – like there’s more to life than Crème Eggs and watching paint peel.”

“I know what your problem is,” Dextrose said. “You’ve been bitten by the Adventure Bug.”

“Oh, Dextrose. Clichés don’t help.”

“I’m sorry,” Dextrose paused, and then said timidly, “but you have been bitten by the Adventure Bug. Look.”

ADVENTURE BUG

“Oh! Well, that explains the itchiness.” Maltose scratched her side. “Then I suppose there’s nothing to be done. We’ll have to go tell the council we’re going on another Adventure.”

“W-w-we?” Dextrose began to back out of the room. “I’ve got an awful lot to do around here, Maltose. I don’t think I can get away. I – I still have to organize my underwear drawer.”

“You don’t wear underwear, Dex. For that matter, you don’t even wear socks.”

“Well, someday I might. Better to be prepared, after all.” Dextrose was out in the hallway, ready to flee. “In fact, I should go get started right now.”

“If you come with me, you can use my camera,” Maltose cajoled.

Dextrose stopped moving. “The one Alice Gator gave you? The shiny one?”

“Yes, that one.”

And so they found themselves in front of Hexopyranose and the Peep Council, explaining about the Adventure Bug.

THE COUNCIL

“Yes, I see,” the elder Peep said slowly. “Well, I suppose if you must leave, you must. Perhaps, in your wanderings, you will find new lands, and claim them in the name of the Yellow Peeps! Perhaps you will find treasures, and bring them back to us! Perhaps you will find out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop!”

The Council gasped as one, and Pentofuranose fainted.

“This journey could bring about all sorts of wonders. Therefore, we will send you on your way with glad hearts.” Hexopyranose went to the side of the dais, where she opened a drawer and removed something beige and oblong. She gazed reverently at the object as she carried it back.

HAT PRESENTATION

“This is the hat of a true adventurer. Also,” Hexopyranose rapped the top of the hat, “good protection from falling rocks. Small ones, anyway.” She gave the hat to Maltose, who tried it on immediately and began to preen.

Dextrose was a little sad. Not only was he being dragged away from his peeling paint and his wardrobe, but now Maltose had a wonderful hat, while his own head went yellow and bare. Hexopyranose noticed his expression, and thought fast.

“And, of course, we have a hat for you as well, Dextrose.” She motioned to Rhamnopyranose, who began to fish around underneath the dais. He produced something dusty and floppy, which he brushed off as best he could before handing it to Dextrose. It was the most beautiful hat Dextrose had ever seen – even better than Maltose’s. He placed it gently on his head and felt his fluffy heart swell with pride.

Maltose hung the camera around his neck. “Now we’re all ready to go.”

NEW HATS

The Peep Council was there early the next morning to see them off. Hexopyranose quietly pulled them aside.

GOOD WISHES

“If you do find out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop,” she said hesitantly, “I think perhaps it’s best you keep it to yourself. Some mysteries, truly, are not meant to be known.”

The two Peeps promised solemnly.

FAREWELL CEREMONY

“Now,” Hexopyranose announced loudly. “We say Farewell to our adventurers! We say Farewell, but not Goodbye, for we will see you again! We say Farewell, but not So Long, because it will not be so long before you are back among your Peeps! We say Farewell, but not Toodle-oo, because that would just be silly!”

And with the sounds of raucous cheering ringing in the air, Maltose and Dextrose climbed aboard their vessel and took off. Their new adventure had begun.

LEAVING HOME


Chapter 2

Set-designer, Pith-helmet-and-camera-maker, and Photoshop Genius: Husband.
Story-Writer, Sombrero-maker, and Photo-taker: Uccellina.

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Oh, the crazy.

So, obviously, I have been slightly harried lately, and have had no time to write anything intelligent for this blog. All of my brain cells are otherwise occupied, and I’m trying to kill off the ones that aren’t through heavy drinking.

But I did find time to pull together a couple of stories that were published on the old blog, and put them up here. So, until I get back (Soon! Maybe tomorrow! Maybe Monday!) with a New And Wonderful! Project Which You Will All Adore, please busy yourselves with these.

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I’ll be signing autographs in the lobby after the show for $5 apiece.

Remember that contest I entered? The results are in, and they are good: I have been mentioned. Honorably.

Uccellina G. (who not only offered up a brilliant revision but included, at the end, a list of all the words she’d left out. Fabulous.): “the so-called objective evidence” currently being meticulously weighed and evaluated by the media is no more “objective” or “conclusive” than the … rapidly changing … accounts of … the … accuser. … Pick your fact, any fact. Each of them … dismisses … the alleged … rape … “

Thanks, Dahlia! You’re fabulous too.

The winner of the contest rewrote the Chili’s Menu to reveal the restaurant chain’s latent liberal agenda. Who knew?

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Dahlia Lithwick Rewrite Challenge 2007

In Monday’s edition of Slate, Dahlia Lithwick penned a column in which she described how a conservative journalist had taken a piece Lithwick had written about the Duke lacrosse rape scandal and used it to set up a straw-man argument about the liberal rush to judgment. The original article, in fact, made the argument that everyone was rushing to judgment.

So, how did Allen turn this into a hysterical men-are-pigs “hanging party”? She just cut and pasted until she’d rewritten the column to say it. Where I had referred to “mounds and mounds of significant physical evidence”—listing both exculpatory and inculpatory evidence, and highlighting the ways in which they conflicted—Allen inserted her own language to have me claim there were ” ‘[m]ounds and mounds of significant physical evidence’ that a rape had occurred.”

Lithwick then invited her readers to rewrite the same column in a slightly different way:

So, I turn to you, my readers, to help me invent a new Imaginary Right-Wing Hack. And I’m asking you to start with that bilious conservative wing nut, Dahlia Lithwick, whose April 22 column on the Duke rape case was a full-bore assault on women and minorities, and a stunning piece of right-wing vitriol to boot. Make free with the cut and paste functions, and please don’t be afraid of those ellipses … Rewrite the column as Ann Coulter channeling Bill O’Reilly . . .

I took this challenge on, thinking that it would be an amusing exercise. I used entire original phrases and sentences where possible, in order to make the resulting piece convincing. Where it wasn’t possible, I swiped individual words and made my own sentences up. But each and every word is Lithwick’s, though my version bears about as much resemblance to her original column as Frankenstein’s monster bore to Abby Normal.

When I sent this in to Ms. Lithwick, I said in my cover letter, “Having finished, I am embarrassed by my own handiwork. This has been an interesting lesson in the finer points of distortion.” I will post it here because I promised to, and because I do feel it is an interesting lesson. But please know that I feel slightly dirty having written it.

Read the original column first for comparison!

Now my version: Read the rest of this entry »

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I like to win things.

If I’m quiet today, it’s because I’ve taken up Dahlia Lithwick’s challenge. I’ll post my submission here when it’s done. Probably not today.

Edited to add: Link fixed!

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