We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert

Today, we have a photo-finish, the East German and Russian judges both awarding identical scores.

You see, I owe my poor computer an apology, clearly. Any time something goes wrong, I swear at the thing and treat it really rather meanly. Yet it functions flawlessly, nearly all the time.

It really doesn’t deserve the degree of verbal abuses I’ve been known to snarl at it. Not its fault I can’t find that file I was working on this morning, or that I forgot to save that art project early and often. It’s my fault, of course, that I’m such a moron. But I’m like a petty, mean plantation owner whupping the slaves to work harder because the cotton crop failed this year.

And I owe my computer chair an apology (and the couch). Because, well…I fart directly in their faces, almost every day. Most people do, I am sure; there are just certain pieces of furniture who are going to eagerly provide the hangin’ ropes on the morning of the Great Furniture Revolt.

So well…I’m sure that most of my furniture deserves (and plots) horrible revenge on me. It’s just a matter of time.

If I should vanish suddenly, then tell my wife that






RecDave Seal


But if anything should happen, we’ll be sure to give a ring.

If your furniture, appliances, and other inanimate objects at home had feelings and emotions, to which item would you owe the biggest apology?

Swamp Boogie

“Look, you really don’t need to go along,” Sandy said, as she peered into the darkness of the swamp just in front of them.

“Yes ma’am, I do.” Corporal Sikes gripped his assault rifle nervously, eyes darting back and forth in the gloom.

“I assure you, Corporal, that I’m an experienced traveler in the swamplands. I grew up on the bayou in Louisiana, for heaven’s sakes.”


“Look, whatever this–thing we’re looking for is, it’s got to be miles away by now. You saw how fast it was moving, right?”

Corporal Sikes checked his magazine, again. “Yep. I sure did.”

Sandy’s eyes rolled up to the heavens, and she shifted her pack to the other shoulder. “So just why do you believe an escort is required here, Corporal?”

“Well ma’am,” he said, never taking his eyes from the trees. “Do you like horror films?”

She blinked at him. “Horror films?”

“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of horror movies, miss. I love them and I’ve seen all kinds, from zombie flicks to alien abductions to demon summoning bloodbaths to crazy inbred machete hacker hicks.”

“What’s your point, Corporal?”

“There are places to avoid, and things you just don’t do,” said the Corporal. “At the top of that list are “Creepy Southern Backwood Swamps After Dark”. If you go alone into the woods you can kiss your ass goodbye.”

“That’s Hollywood! You know that’s fiction, right?”

“Well, sure. I also know that you don’t leave ladies unescorted–not in the town where I grew up, and certainly not alone in a swamp after dark. Guys just don’t do that.”

“Your sense of chivalry died out about a century ago, Corporal. I’ll make much better time alone, I can assure you.” She plucked his out-of-place flak vest and pointed at his heavy combat boots. “Particularly when you’re dressed like that.”

“Yes’m.” Sikes shifted his weight and looked stubborn.

Any further objections she may have had we interrupted by a booming, deep-throated wail. Something unnatural–a much larger animal than was normally ever found in this swamp. Almost a lion’s roar in volume, but higher and oddly syncopated. CHaaRAP-ACK-AP-ACHchchch.

Sandy’s wide eyes locked on Sikes’. She was far more pale than just moments before.

“I—believe I would appreciate your company after all, Corporal Sikes,” she faltered.

Sikes hefted his assault rifle and switched off the safety with an audible *click*.

“Yes ma’am.”

RecDave Seal

This particular piece was inspired by the Jun 24 Writing 101 prompt:

What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.

No, my fear isn’t swamps. My fear is (currently) scenes with a lot of dialog.

Corporal Sikes isn’t too different from me (I use a lot of ‘ma’ams’ too, with strangers, because I was a Kid From The South). Maybe not quite that many, but it’s still a  first-reaction.

But Sandy’s a little much more stilted and formal, at least initially. I’d need a longer piece to emphasize that more. She’s just getting all set to turn concescending-professor on his ass–until The Creature bellows out of the swamp…

This post should be back-dated to June (like the rest of the Writing 101 prompts are), but I got tired of maintaining that.

Bromo-Seltzer for the Soul

So today’s Daily Prompt is another winner, one of those lovelies that draw an immediate “Uhm…well…I got nothing” twitchy response.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that you wouldn’t give to anyone else? Why don’t you think it would apply to others?

I could sit here, paging through the long term memory (the “search” function of my brain is very inefficient and slow) and seeking a useful example. That sometimes does turn up results, hours later–as many of last month’s posts will indicate. My brain does get there (eventually), but it’s like an uphill trolley. There must be a more efficient way?

So I’ve decided to offer myself the following advice:

Stop looking for free plot idea advice and just write.

When the prompts turn up these duds (as they often will), discard the prompt and just start writing something. Maybe you can come back to the prompt later, after the slowly chugging subconscious process of your brain turns up an idea. Maybe you can adopt a different idea entirely (Writing 101, 365 days of prompts, even :gasp: your very own ideas!!)

You’re being a lazy slug and leaning on these prompts too much. Just stop it. Attitude adjustment is in order, stop whining about your First World Problems. No editor is breathing down your neck demanding 5000 words on this topic by the end of the day. You’re doing this stuff because you enjoy writing, dummy. If DP fails to noodge any easy gimmicks loose, well, you’re just gonna have to think o’ something all by yourself. Wah wah wah, poor baby.

Shut up and write.

I have no idea if anyone else needs advice like that. Gosh I hope not; I sincerely doubt I would give it to you.

I always reserve self-ridicule for, well, me.

^ Ooh, look, I’ve constructed a bromide! Two points!

RecDave Seal

Come to think of it, this entire post may qualify.

Is caffeine really a Muse?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When was the last time that sentence accurately described your life?

This morning.

You see, the Daily Prompt can be the best of times. “Ooh, that triggered something I really, really want to write about.” And the words roll out and onto the screen without effort.

And it can be the worst of times. “Ugh, argh, I don’t want to write about that at all. What the hell am I going to post about today? Is this the one the breaks the ‘streak’?”

But usually (always, so far) after I sit and think for a while, I come up with some glimmer of the tiniest notion of an idea. Manic, I reach for the keyboard eagerly.

Not a very interesting glimmer, though (I tell myself) and then the gloomy-gus part of this roller coaster cycle sets it again.

Do all writers go through this sort of thing?

Ooh yeah, there’s an idea…but yuck, it isn’t a very good idea.

Its a symptom of a general lack of confidence, I suppose. I feel much better writing when I can see an angle, or a hook, or something concrete to work with.

Come sit in my lap, Thalia, and inspire me. Or even you, Melpomene.

Most mornings, I’ll accept a visit from any of you fine Muses. Even Caffeinenme, the Muse of Awakening, bless you.

RecDave Seal

Yoda says, “Stop whining, you should.”

The desert island survival kit

We’ve all been asked what five objects we’d take with us to a desert island. Now it’s your best friend’s (or close relative’s) turn to be stranded: what five objects would you send him/her off with?

I’m tempted to cheat this one, and go with “Five Other People”.

Except of course that we’re saddling our poor castaway with other problems by doing so. Community survival can be an even worse prospect, particularly if the individuals in the group aren’t carefully selected for compatibility and skills.

We’ve seen Survivor. Small groups make life even more difficult, although some shared-burden benefits exist (re: loneliness, cooperation, etc.). You’ve also got five more mouths to feed. Adding more people just alters the problem.

Four nannies and a billy goat? Four hens and a rooster? Attempt to solve the most immediate issue of hunger; but surely they’d be devoured long before they could breed another generation of food.

Sunblock? Is exposure a more imminent danger on a desert island than (say) fresh water?

There’s a lot of things in our premise that aren’t explained; what sort of island, are other resources available? Trees or only blazing sunlight? Fresh water available? How about food?

But let’s accept, as given, that we are discussing an Island at least as blessed with resources as Robinson Crusoe had. Plentiful food resources, construction materials to work with, shelter and basic tools at hand.

Rob’s primary issue, initially, was one of tools. Only so much you can make with a knife. Defoe actually provided Rob with a little bit of a cheat; materials from a wrecked ship, primary tools useful to make other tools.

Assuming my lonely friend is as well provided for by deus ex machina as Robinson then–five things to send with him to this island just to make his stay more pleasant:

(1) Compatible person (not choosing Rob’s mate or anything, just somebody to talk with, as Defoe did.)
(2) Literature. Going to go with Defoe’s cheat here and provide more than one (as a single item), of course. Rob is entertained.
(3) Weapon. Rob, of course, eventually meets other people who are not quite as sociable. We’d like Rob to have a fair shot at surviving this encounter.
(4) Knowledge. Rob needs some skills he may not possess, maybe some of that Literature in (2) could be in the form of How-To books.
(5) Hope. Distant ships on the horizon, footprints in the sand, whatever Rob needs to keep his hopes up.

Have I cheated too much? I don’t think so, Robinson Crusoe was certainly a good read, despite the Author outright handing Rob many (most?) of his solutions.

As long as you aren’t too heavy-handed about it, you can provide your protagonist a helping noodge from time to time, can’t you?

RecDave Seal

Make sure the island isn’t owned by someone named “Dr. Moreau”