Oct 23, 2014

The Cornucopia of Infinite Lamentation

Or, 

Notes from a Funeral Directors’ Conference aboard the Starship Pegasus

Death was going out of style.
Fifty slack-jawed hippos fed on oatmeal substitute had convened on the Pegasus to fix that.
A woman came up to the lectern, tapped the microphone, and spoke:
“The dead used to outnumber the living,” she said. “Now we creep closer and closer to immortality.”

Alfio Presotto

I realize the subjects of death and funeral directors may not appeal to you very much, not even if you tweak it to have funeral directors in space, so let's wrap up on a positive note.

Ali Farka Touré (video below), the "African John Lee Hooker," was a Malian musician of international renown. His nickname Farka means "donkey." Here, he appears with Boubacar Traoré and they play the sweetest blues song you could possibly imagine. Enjoy.

Oct 17, 2014

The Lady Who Gave Birth to Stones

The lady, named after a beetle by capricious parents, turned the red jewel in the light and said, “A stunning replica. But this is not my child.”

She crossed her legs and turned eyes vulpine on the bounty hunter.

He quaked.

“Shall I have you killed now?” she asked.

Pilgrimage
by John Magnet Bell

As for the lady's name, I had one of these in mind. Now, to wrap things up, I suggest you go listen to some inner pilgrimage music

Oct 16, 2014

Like Two Outsized Calculators Making Love in a Broom Closet

Malcolm shook the fleas out of his beard and knocked on the Minister’s door twice, careful not to dislodge the plaque that read

ONLY ON THURSDAYS

held not-so-fast by a treacherous nail. Fallen twice this week already.

Buzzing, and shuffling of pointed feet. “What is?” somebody asked, invisible. “What is?”

Thousand Year Stare
by John Stortz

We invented language from the twofold need to communicate and play. Fiction without experimentation lacks color and personality. Sometimes you can take personality too far and write, as Beckett did, beautiful novels that lead nowhere -- prose poems mistaken for novels. The text is mesmerizing but Story, largely absent.

Or you can go to the other extreme, color without personality, which you get with the Dungeons & Dragons books, the Harry Potter fan fiction, where plot serves some obscure wish-fulfillment and the teller offers grotesquerie in place of transformation. 

As for my post title today, this Nine Inch Nails remix sounds like two outsized calculators making love in a broom closet. That's what Malcolm wanted to warn his superiors about. Randy calculators. Unbeknownst to him, the Minister's staff had already been turned into existentialist mosquitoes, down to the last one.

I'd like to see a mashup of Murphy and Mansquito. Someday.

Oct 11, 2014

The Train that Would Not Run On Time

Despite Tandy Erickson’s efforts to raise four docile TV watchers, her youngest displayed an annoying tendency to go out in the backyard and fashion crude bows out of twigs and purloined bits of string. He would shoot wobbly arrows at targets only he could see.

Tandy never mentioned him at her coaching sessions with Moms of the Future.

Sex on TV - Retroskopic
by Zzglam

Oct 8, 2014

On the Waterless Oceans of Unbliss

My gun’s out of charges although I haven’t fired it once. The air peels your skin and dries your tongue. So we two exiles don’t speak. We need shelter but the world is flat. A second sun rises on us and the bodies we left behind.

Ring III
by Bruce Pennington



Oct 3, 2014

In Space, No One Can Hear You Grammar Like a Pro

Can’t a poor little spaceship catch a break? There I was, sucking ore from an asteroid, when a manic voice jammed seven hundred frequencies. “HELLO,” it blared. Oh, no. It’s them.
“WE ARE LAWYER,” they said, gliding into view from behind the asteroid. “WE AM HELP YOU REACH GREAT JUSTICE.”

"Astronaut"
by Ove Kvavik


When I turned off all my audio and data comms, they switched to semaphore. Large sails crawling with bioluminescent bacteria popped out of their hull. “HELLO,” they signaled, in blinding pinks and greens. “WE IS PROTECTORS OF INDEPENDENT SHIP EVERYWHERES,” said the glowing bacteria. “YOU IS HAD CASE FOR US? LETS WE HELP YOU RESULT! MUCH LAW!”

I displayed the universally accepted code for “Back off.”
“BUT WE SERIOUSLYS AFFORDABLE,” they said. “HAVES SKILL TO HELP YOU IS FIND RESOLUTION!”
“Look,” I said, opening an outgoing data port, “We’ve talked about this before. I have no need of your services. What will it take for you to go away?”
“NOT WANT THAT US YOU REPRESENT? WHY? IT LIKES TO WASTE MONEYS?”
“I don’t have a case,” I said. "I don't need you to represent me anywhere." I felt tempted to pull up and away from the asteroid, but I sure needed that tantalum.
“WE AM NOT GOOD ENOUGHS FOR YOU?”

"Three-headed exploration probe."
Many more where this one came from.

“Hey, look, a squirrel,” I said. Old trick.
“HAHA,” said the bacteria. “SPACE CANNOT BREATHE IN SQUIRRELS. EVERYONE KNOWS.”
OK. Now what?
“IT IS SILLY. YOU FRIENDS, YES? WE AM LIKE TO LAUGHINGS.”
Something told me I had taken a wrong turn.
“WE IS TEAM OF US NOW! FUN FRIEND WITH LAWYER SERVE OF THE LITTLE GUY!”
“I don’t want to work with you,” I said.
“OH? NO PROBLEMS. WE KILL YOU, NO HARD FEELINGS. IS PROFESSIONAL!”

Rocket ship sculpture by Rik & Shelley Allen

NOTES:
1. I made this prompt longer than usual, yes. You are still free to adapt the premise to a story of your own. I just had to expand on the concept of a space-crazed vessel run by bacteria. 50 words would not suffice.
2. The way I see it, the vessels are the characters. Self-aware entities. No human crew.
3. Any day is a good day to enjoy quirky robots and spaceships.

Minius Module, also by Rik Allen.

Sep 28, 2014

Sunday Flood: Music to Inspire, and Music You Can Write To

"1982," Illustration by Diego Lara Saltos

Part I. Music to Inspire.

My love affair with music began at the age of 12, when I bought Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason (these days I enjoy Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother a lot more). Then I discovered The Cure -- lucky me, their best album came out in 1989, precisely when I had a little pocket money to spare. Though I became a metal fan early on, I explored The Cure's back catalog as time and finance permitted.

I don't have any hangups about what constitutes "real" music. All music is real, in the sense that it exists. What I can't abide is music-by-the-numbers, stuff that won't sell without a soft porn video to back it up. And no, I am not against porn, I just don't like porn that masquerades as music. Won't name names.

So, you know, fanaticism and exclusion don't work for me. It's good to pay attention to, and enjoy, any kind of sincere music, from Punch to Mike Oldfield to the Master Musicians of Jajouka by way of Orlando di Lasso. And I often need a rich, varied soundtrack to take me where I want to go with my writing. If music be the color of human emotion, then I want to work with a full palette.

What I am about to share with you is the fruit of years and years of musical exploration.

Sep 26, 2014

With Great Power Come the Weirdest Groupies, or, Old Geezer Dreams Never Die

Ribbendorf, long pressed into the service of angels, found the English “magician” quite intolerable. He had introduced himself as John Dee, and the bright silver disc of his face followed Ribbendorf everywhere, asking bizarre questions and barking “words of power.” Ribbendorf would occasionally humor the madman with some holy-sounding gibberish.

Mati Klarwein

NOTES
1. The "holy-sounding gibberish" is Enochian, a form of angelic (?) speech which some people believe is an actual language. You might as well read the Forty-Eight Calls and make up your own mind.
2. John Dee is the English "magician," quotes and all, bothering Ribbendorf. The latter, in the context of this prompt, actually serves angelic beings.
3. Alan Moore said, and who am I to disagree -- because I would never disagree with that beard -- that John Dee and Edward Kelley encountered beings capable of moving through the fifth spatial dimension and, for lack of a better word, called them angels. But these weren't exactly angels.

You go ahead and debate that beard. I dare not.
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