Happy one month!

So my daily prompt today is

What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?

So that question is easysauce.

<– See the calendar? This blog ‘officially’ started on Nov 1. Look quick, it’ll go to “December” tomorrow.

So, guess I’m doing pretty well with the ‘streak’, mostly thanks to fulfilling these daily prompts.

What have I learned? I like doing this stuff. Patience is required (things don’t “take off” immediately). I’m not good at dialog. Weak in several other areas, but working on all of them.

Quality images (free of copyright or fair use issues) are hard, unless you have plenty of time to hunt up royalty-frees.

I’ve learned that I need more time off (who doesn’t?) to write.

Writing short shorts (or do we call it ‘flash fiction’?) is much easier than, say, novellas.

Retrospectives are yawnsauce. Doubt I’ll be launching an autobiography project any time soon.

And…no matter how quick and easy you feel the prompt is, you could use more time. I’ll probably expand on this post, when not rushing off to work.

RecDave Seal

Streaking, that was a 70s thing

Thanks to my regulars (and you new kids, too!) for reading and liking and commenting and following and…well, its good to have you all here!

Ding dong, the witch is… Uh oh.

“Begone, fool!” Angrat exclaimed, stamping her foot with an explosive report against the throne room dais.

The shock wave exploded outward from the impact, erupting violently in all directions. As it grew, it gathered before it all of the wind and snow that was Angrat’s to command. The tide crested as it rumbled down the Great Hall towards me. And I threw up my arms to protect my head as tons of snow and ice broke over me with tsunami force, and I was transported away.


 

The first impression is “dark”. Followed, in short order, by “cold” and “weight”. I can’t move much, clearly I’m trapped. It takes a little while, working through all of the other sensations, but eventually the memory of Angrat’s sneering face surfaces and…

She’s buried me.

Angrat is, in the simplest terms to understand, a witch. Both nasty and powerful. Her sphere of magical influence is over Winter; cold, ice, snow, wind, hail, the whole gallery. That huge stomp she just used on me has to be one of her most potent effects, snow wave combined with a teleport. Get rid of your enemies and bury them with an avalanche. Disagreeable, right?

Wherever it is that she’s sent me, it’s sure to be very, very cold. And given her disposition, far from hearth or comfort or civilization.

Well, there’s no help for it.

“Lights please,” I summon one of my earliest cantrips. It doesn’t do much, of course. Centered on my right hand, several feet away through the packed snow, it’s still pretty dark. I concentrate, turn up the intensity a bit, and begin to see a dim red glow in that direction, which grows much brighter as I wiggle my arm.

The snow seems fairly loosely packed around my arm; I conclude with some relief that it hasn’t settled yet, or isn’t very deep. I am able to work my hand up to my face, and clear snow from around my face, providing more breathing room.

“Compass.” Another general-utility cantrip, which just produces a small, glowing pointer that is always aimed North. Noting that it’s fairly level with my perspective, I conclude that I’m almost upright in the bank of snow, and that “Up” lies in that direction.

So far, so good. Not exactly dressed for the outdoors, I am dressed only in a light tunic. Snow is insulating though, and I probably won’t freeze to death immediately. Not until the snow melts and the fabric gets soaked through, anyway.

“Wish I was one of those fire mages,” I mutter to myself while pondering my situation.

Shoving my lighted hand in the “up” direction proves to be quite difficult. The snow is harder to move through now as it settles. But I am relieved to feel my hand break through the snow’s surface into the open air. Fairly shallow, I’ve heard it’s possible (through rare) for hikers and such in the mountains to extricate themselves from a shallow avalanche.

I’m mentally flipping through my list of spells for today, there surely must be something I can use. But the problem is, I’m an Illusionist. Most of my spells are simple projections, light and…ooh, that’s an idea.

One of my spells includes a minor heat component. Nothing like what a Fire mage can do, of course, but it is warm enough to melt snow, if you’re in no great hurry about it.

So I conjured up a Sunbeam, focused on my right hand (the one already glowing with light of the more standard pure-illusion sort). A beam came down from above, narrowly focused, about five feet in radius around my hand, roughly equivalent to the brightest summer sun. And I began to feel a trickle running down my arm, melt-off from above.

In a half dozen hours I had enough snow melted away to fight free and pull myself, soggy, wet, and cold, out of the avalanche. I rolled quickly up out of the depression left by my body, and onto a moss-covered rock. Looking around me as I focused another Sunbeam spell to warm me and dry my clothes. I might have a bit of sunburn later, but I suspected that would be the least of my worries.

ID-100187249

From the looks of things, I was pretty high up in the mountains. Turning about slowly I could see only rock and snow, in every direction, to the limit of my vision.

It looked to be a very long walk home.

RecDave Seal

You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

Trudging across the tundra, mile after mile

Muse’s Curse

“The apparition paused, sighed deeply, and then resumed in a tone of still greater menace:”

(—Alexandre Dumas, from “Edmund Dantes”, p. 29)

Dearest Mother:

I’ve written to you before of Edmundo and I, how we attended college together, and how we became fast friends. But so much has happened since, that I’ve been remiss in the details.

Edmundo and I were often in our cups together, often carousing the city streets at night in our intemperance. This sort of life you do not write home to Mother about, the sort of life that you hide and keep private; how many students have the taverns and pubs of London devoured whole to their family’s dismay?

But it is not the demon drink to which I owe my fate; it is to Terpsichore, the fair Muse of Dance. For one evening Edmund and I, wandering the streets in search of entertainment (as we so often did between examination days) stumbled by merest chance upon a run-down, disreputable dance hall called The Broken Wheel.

It was not at all the sort of establishment known for its expensive liqueurs and fancy dandies. The only beverages served were the low beers and the very cheapest rum. The tables each tucked away in the darkest corners, and the unsavory business and characters that frequented each nightly are best left unimagined. The dancers were the lowest of women, overly painted and under-garbed. I’m told that most, if not all, were ladies of negotiable affection–if you will please excuse my crassness.

All save one.

Salome was her name, and when she took the stage a hush always fell over the generally noisy, boisterous tables. Glasses stopped clinking. Even the barmaids stopped peddling–for whenever Salome was on the stage, no one was buying.

She was swarthy and exotic, some said Gypsy, others said Turkish, I’ve even heard pronounced the she hailed from far-off India. But whenever she lifted the hem of her skirts and began to dance, time itself hesitated. Her dance built slowly, gracefully from something ballet-like in its quiet grace. Whirling and twirling as her skirts swayed in counterpoint to her pirouette series of spins.

As the dance progressed it would quicken, grow more bold. She attacked the stage, using the entire floor. Passion flashing in her eyes as she crossed the floor with explosive, expansive leaps.

Only to stop—falling into her skirts, forehead to the floor. Chest heaving from exertion and eyes closed–and the crowd suddenly rediscovers its voice with an explosive roar! The walls of the small and shabby Broken Wheel shook to the cheers and stomping feet of the patrons, and the bartender would typically sell an hour’s worth of drinks in the next ten minutes.

None cheered more loudly or more enthusiastically than Edmundo and I. Nor did we fail to shower silver on the barmaids like all the rest. Over the coming weeks and months, we returned to the Wheel again and again. Captivated and captured by our Terpsichore.

If only I could see and warn Edmundo of what was to come.

Dearest Mother, I do hope you can understand, if not condone, the actions of two young gentlemen so captured within the orbit of Venus. Salome was beautiful, mysterious and an entrancing dancer. And Edmundo launched a clever scheme whereby the two of us could be smuggled backstage and finally meet this vision. And meet her we did.

Do you know of the tradition where patrons and paramours can cause roses to be delivered to a prima ballerina’s dressing room? Edmundo provided the wit, and I provided the funds. And for a solid week we had flowers, wine, candies delivered anonymously each evening. And on the seventh evening, we had ourselves delivered as well.

Personally, I was dumbstruck upon first being physically in Salome’s presence. Edmundo carried the day, while I contributed little more than a handshake and shy smile. The two of them became fast friends, laughing together and talking of dance, theater, culture, even politics. I was just content to gaze on Salome, enjoying each of her smiles, and dazzled when her smiles began to fall upon me as well as my friend.

Over the coming days and weeks, we called on Salome several more times. First in the Broken Wheel, later in the summer sunny streets of London town. The three of us became almost inseparable, and Salome gradually drew me out of my quiet and into the Dance we enjoyed together.

And I could feel Edmundo advancing his cause, and I was content; for he was my dearest friend and I bore them nothing but respect and genuine best wishes, both. From time to time my funds financed our excursions, and other times we went ‘on the cheap’, and picked amusements that cost little or nothing. Walks along the riverbank, painting the sunsets, trips to the zoo.

And as the weeks turned into months, I began to be cognizant of Edmundo and Salome’s relationship changing.

Little things at first; Edmundo would present her with a gift, a scarf or a pair of gloves, and insist that she wear them. Soon, he was directing her outfits. He dressed her more modestly, adding lace to her decolletage or lengthening her gowns. He would often correct flaws in her diction or in her posture.

All of these things Salome accepted without complaint, for she was just as enraptured with Edmundo as he with her. The news of their engagement was both inevitable and expected. Our society demands that young men may only dally with young ladies for a brief time, without making their intentions serious and known to all. And I approved–two people whom I loved, only natural that they should be together.

But a darkness began to gather around Edmundo, and the clouds grew more threatening as the year turned to Winter.

Edmundo began to object whenever he found Salome smiling at another. His brow would furrow, and his words grow tight and controlled. He particularly didn’t like other men gazing upon his bride-to-be.

You’ll recall Salome was a dancer, Mother. And an enormously popular one, popular with the low crowd that frequented the Broken Wheel. Edmundo had much to object to, and many eyes gazing upon Salome to fuel his rage.

He and Salome began to fight frequently. Edmundo would flare jealously at one Wheel patron or another, and even start brawls. And Salome kept trying to keep his rage under control, explaining that he was her one and only, and the bar’s patrons innocent of any wrongdoing.

And I? I began withdrawing swiftly from our à trois, distancing myself from the affianced couple lest Edmundo feel any jealousy for me.

But eventually, that night came; the fateful last night I ever saw Salome dance.

Mother, imagine if you will: Edmundo and I watched, from our small table in the Wheel that evening. On our table was one of the cheap rum bottles, quite unusual, but Edmundo had began drinking early and heavily on this particular night. His eyes flashed from customer to customer, an each time his brows furrowed. I placed a hand on his forearm, about to advise him to slow down the drinking, and his eyes glinted in anger at me!

But at that moment Salome’s music began, and she took the stage. Her usual dance and the usual audience response, we were one and all familiar; yet still enraptured by it. Except tonight, as she dance, her eyes would pass over our table and Edmundo’s furious gaze would lock on hers each time. And eventually, perhaps inevitably, her timing slipped and Salome stumbled.

The audience gasped audibly. And Edmundo surged to his feet, and locked his hand around her elbow. Before we could react, Edmundo had drug her from offstage, a hasty and involuntary exit stage right.

What else could I do but follow?

They were arguing audibly; she screamed for him to stop, he was hurting her. He was calling her filthy names, demanding she stop dancing at this place, in a blind rage, demanding control. In the short, dark corridor between the stage and dressing rooms, the other dancers were scattering. As I arrived behind the pair, an audible click froze my blood.

Edmundo, still grasping her elbow, buried the muzzle of the pistol in her ribs.

Mother, I tried to stop him, I swear it. I leaped at Edmundo and fought with him over the weapon. Salome shrieked and battered him about the head and shoulders with her free hand. And–the pistol went off.

Salome sighed once and collapsed on the floor. Edmundo pistol-whipped me and I knew no more.


 

I never saw Edmundo alive again. According the the police, he took his own life that every evening, and hung himself in his chambers. The owner and most of the patrons of the Broken Wheel and I attended Solome’s funeral later the same week.


 

Now, mother, I am oft visited in my dreams by his wrathful spirit. He blames me, for the death of our Salome, for her escape of his control. This school year has been lost to me, and our Muse is gone forever. I am returning home, and should arrive on the Wednesday train.


 

The original Writing 101 prompt:

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.

I departed from Edmund Dantes (save for that single line), but attempted to preserve the original tone; may be more Edwardian than intended.

 

RecDave Seal

Post-Script:

I hadn’t intended the “letter home” to be nearly so long, it tops 1500 words.

But today’s Daily Prompt was:

Today, publish a post based on unused material from a previous piece –a paragraph you nixed, a link you didn’t include, a photo you decided not to use. Let your leftovers shine!

And I was sitting on this unfinished writing 101 prompt from earlier in the week, so…I finished it. Not entirely pleased with the ending, but you know, two birds, one stone.

Skip a two-for-one assignment? No way!

Watanabe-San

It’s 5th grade, so (it’s probably) 1973. Yakota AFB, my family’s last year in Japan. I must be age 11, plus or minus a year.

We attend school on-base, so it’s a military-run school system, rather than a civilian one. The kids are (mostly) the children of American servicemen stationed at Yakota, including me. Not as a grim as it sounds, the military presence in this part of Japan is pretty large (14000 airmen). The USAF was in the process of shifting personnel out of Tachikawa AFB (officially returned to the Japanese government in 1975) and into Yokota, including our family.

(Note I’m getting a lot of this info second-hand from Wikipedia; I was ten or eleven at the time! All that I remember of Tachikawa was how generally run-down the base and housing was, Yokota was newer and cleaner which Mom liked, I guess).

Anyway, it’s an upgrade to a much bigger base, newer facilities, newer housing, etc. And to a big (as in a lotta, lotta kids) Middle school.

I had Mr. Watanabe for math. And I honestly don’t remember a lot about him, except a round face, general impression of a goatee? He was Asian, of course, though I’m not certain if Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, Hawaiian, or Other.

But he was one of the most friendly and supportive teachers I’ve ever been blessed with. He detected a budding math-o-nerd and encouraged it, feeding me extra credit work, starting me on Algebra (!!!) in fifth grade…lots and lots of little noodges in the right direction—try this new stuff kid, you like learning this stuff, right? Here’s some more!

So thank you! Mr. Watanabe, middle school math teacher at Yokota AFB in the early 70s, if you’re out there somewhere. You probably don’t remember a thing about one more kid of the (surely) hundreds that passed through your doors, but he remembers you!

RecDave Seal

Never Too Late

Is there a person you should’ve thanked, but never had the chance? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.

 

Coming for you, Bobby Flay.

I am a terrific microwave chef; I can open a package and shove it in the nuker for four minutes with the best of them! Popcorn master, a baked potato king, the emperor of hot dogs. Move over, Julia Child, there’s a word-class convenience chef in the house. If it takes less than ten minutes to make, it’s the meal for me!

Mostly, because I stink at the other sort of cooking. “Omelets,” said Annie just now. “You can do a stir-fry.”

How embar-asking. But there you go, Truth.

RecDave Seal

Truly weird–I adore Food Network

Calling Dr. Bombay–Emergency, come right away!

Have you ever faced a difficult situation when you had to choose between sorting it out yourself, or asking someone else for an easy fix? What did you choose — and would you make the same choice today?

Both.

Not a very inspired answer, but an honest one. If its in my wheelhouse, I will (generally) do my best to work it out for myself.

If it’s a problem outside my expertise, say an engine problem or installing new shocks; that’s when I consult “Uncle Bob” (any given outside expert).

But this prompt doesn’t suggest to me any particular Story today–so this is short and sweet, I guess. Can’t all be winners in the inspiration department.

See ya’ll tommorow.

RecDave Seal

Calling Uncle Bob

This post has no title

When was the last time you took a risk (big or small), and pushed your own boundaries — socially, professionally, or otherwise? Were you satisfied with the outcome?

First off, I should start with stating that I am not a risk-taker, by preference. I’m the kind of guy that likes to just let life happen, carpe diem isn’t part of my Latin vocabulary. I prefer the safe, the known and the comfortable.

So there it is: the Daily Prompt has found yet another of my character flaws. Two, even, if you count self-deprecation as a bad habit that I also can’t seem to resist.

But that’s part of why this blog is here, isn’t it? The “envelope” has been pushing me, I’m pushing it back.

I was tempted to pass on this prompt, initially, because after a fair bit of thought, I just couldn’t come up with any risks I’d consciously decided to take recently. Not without climbing into the way-back machine and going embarrassingly deep into the past. Risk-aversion can be a creeping disease.

Does the board game (“Risk™”) count?

“Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,
I touch no one and no one touches me.”

Too dramatic, Mr. Simon. Maudlin even. Introverts just take crap too damn seriously.


 

But! I have been taking a risk.

Each of these posts is a bit of risk–because there are friends and family known to be lurking and reading and following, and I’m exposing things that even the person who knows me best likely wasn’t aware of. And writing at all is always a risk; here’s stuff I’ve created, don’t hate it. What if I (gasp) try writing something much more ‘serious’ some day? Would anyone buy any of it? Would it matter if they didn’t?

So it is a stretch. And a risk. Not a huge one, but one that will continue day after day.

Right now, I feel like risking lunch.

RecDave Seal

Not Bandit, more like Goose

Some ideas are too big to tie down

“In the nighttime heart of Beirut, in one of a row of general-address transfer booths, Louis Wu flicked into reality.”

—Larry Niven, opening line of Ringworld, 1970

With a noiseless “pop”, one of the biggest ideas that SF has ever seen is launched, and Mr. Niven begins earning his second Hugo award. A concept so big that it’s carried (so far) nine novels directly, more related spin-offs, captured in its orbit other contributing Authors, and weaving and intersecting with dozens of Short Stories all set in Niven’s Known Space universe.

If you’ve never read it, and you like SF at all–go get it; embrace the obsession that’s lurking in your future. I’ll try not to spoil it for you. But that’s the daily prompt assignment today is about, right?

What makes a good storyteller, in your opinion? Are your favorite storytellers people you know or writers you admire?

Without discussing Ringworld itself, hmmm. We can talk about the deft handling of the universe. Larry’s Known Space is big and deep and complex and filled with a lot of powerful story hooks. As you might expect of something with thirty plus years of ongoing development and hundreds of thousands of published words. And the backdrops behind the stories can be—well, Exotic is not a big enough adjective. Fascinating. Entrancing. Hypnotic.

We can talk about the characters (Louis Wu, Nessus, Speaker-to-Animals, and Teela Brown), but I can’t properly express how much they’ll grip you. Niven handles each of his characters with a deft mastery that I will probably always stand in awe of.

And Larry remains one of the few authors who can place humans and superhumans and aliens in convincing conflicts without a the conclusions being predictable. There are plots under the plots, and some things happening in Known Space that will take a dozen or more novels to fully reveal.

But the man doesn’t really like sequel-writing, not in the way more modern authors set out with the original intent to sell you a dozen in a ongoing series from the very first word. Most of his novels stand on their own, some departing Known Space completely, some nibbling at its fringes.

I keep reaching for the Big Adjectives, those superlatives that every book jacket or review is drowned with. Trying to resist that temptation, and the temptation to fawn over Larry. The man’s been entertaining me since I was a teen; of course he’s always been, always will be one of my literary heroes.

And one of ten authors (or less) whose every published word I eagerly snap up.

I’m never going to make a living as book reviewer, right? I rarely stop and wonder why a can’t-put-it-down novel is so engrossing; I’m too busy flipping pages with a grin.

The best complement I can bestow–Larry Niven Writes Books Like That.

RecDave Seal

Keep an eye out for Protectors

Kneel before Doom

Whether it’s a trashy TV show, extra-pulpy fiction, or nutrient-free candy, write a thank-you note to your guiltiest guilty pleasure (thanks for the prompt suggestion, Sarah!)

Today I thought I’d like to write a little thank you letter. To an industry, rather than a person, or even a company.

Dear Comic Book Industry:

Thank you, for keeping me entertained for all those years, and for somehow surviving every time it began to look grim for you. Thank you for the new movies, and for taking movies more seriously; better acting, writing, budgets, and production values than you did in the early efforts.

When I was a child, comics were childish things. Shallow, not taken very seriously by much of anybody. Thank you for ramping up the writing, again and again, until ‘graphic novel’ became a statement that could be pronounced with a straight face.

Thank you Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Chris Clairmont, Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Mark Gruenwald, Stan Lee & Bullpen. And hundreds of others I lack the time to list.

Thank you Marvel and DC, and all of you Independents.

Thank you Hollywood. Purists like me will always prefer the ‘original’ to the film adaptations, but your films keep improving, and we love them. Keep it up!

——Dave

Dave does do Selfies
Dave does do Selfies

 

I started reading comics,oh, ‘bout 10 or 12. Collected and read a bunch of favorite titles, mostly Marvel, but some JLA and Teen Titans and LSH too. So I’m the ‘expert’ locally, the guy that gets asked “who’s that” when the bad guy shows up in the next movie trailer. I have to explain who the heck Bobbi Morse is, when she shows up suddenly in Agents of Shield.

I had to explain why Rocket and Groot were more important (and way more cool) than Star-Lord, when Guardians appeared. I get to point out the “inside jokes” hidden away in movies like Avengers.

And I get to dig into the trivia bag and bore the hell out of everyone (well, Annie and Brad) whenever a new trailer sees air.

It’s not much of a claim to fame, I suppose, but at least I always get tickets to the next flick. And that’s good, right?

Flame On!

RecDave Seal

Magneto says: Drink New NerdPlus™, now with Unobtanium!