Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Making a Wish

Posted: April 14, 2015 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
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I’ve been trying to explain this to family and friends but nobody seems to get it. I hope that you do.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to get “dragged” into being a stage hand on a community theater production of “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim. I say “dragged” because they didn’t know they needed help until last week, and I’ve never been into musicals. I grew up rolling my eyes every time someone broke into song in old movies. Real life isn’t like that! People are awkward, not beautiful! You get the idea. Well, even if it’s not my thing, I support the arts and artists, and I was happy to help.

Well, I’m hooked now.

I’m sure that there are theater companies where the actors don’t like each other, where the directors are mean, where dueling egos and deadlines drive everyone to the verge of stabbing each other to death with anything they could grab off the prop tables. I was brought in too late to get to know everyone, but I can tell you that the performers were wonderful, dedicated, friendly, and talented beyond belief. I knew that people in theater worked hard, but I didn’t know how hard.

For three nights, I helped move Rapunzel’s tower on and off stage, including a gaffe on the first night where we started pulling it off too soon. I could barely watch the show because it was obscured by curtains and actors running on and off, but I could listen, I could look at their faces and feel the energy that they brought to the show. I feel… tremendously… lucky, and blessed, to have been there. For three nights in a row I shed tears during “Children Will Listen” and “No More.” You have to understand, for the past twelve years I’ve worked on various projects in my day job that have involved hard work and teams coming together on their best days. They didn’t involve singing, and music, and people putting their hearts out there and creating something beautiful. Even if it was just for three nights.

At 46 and never having been on a stage in my life, not to mention having a serious writing addiction, I don’t know where I’ll find the time to make it on stage, even as Villager #4 or Spear Carrier on the Left. But I want to.

Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take,
Wishes come true, not free.

Into the Woods, “Children Will Listen”

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Fear Helps

Posted: March 28, 2015 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
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fear will find you

“Why do we write?”

* * *

“You do not fear writing. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.”

“Why?”

“How can you write more than possible, imagine more than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of writer’s block.”

“I do fear writer’s block. I fear that my stories will never be written, while I stare at the page every day, and my voice will never be heard.”

“Then write your story.”

“How?”

“Pour the words onto the page. Then fear will find you again.”


1,366 words today: an argument, a revelation, and a touching family moment. Also some scenery and a little bit of jumping ahead as a seed for a scene in the future. Fear helps.

It’s funny, I feel a little guilty having success while writing several days ahead of the official start date. I do this to make it easy on myself. I started last November’s Nano several days ahead, too. If this was a competition I’d certainly wait until Wednesday to get started, but it’s not. This is all about the writing and encouraging people to write. Writing is hard enough without deliberately making it harder. I’m going to pour it on.

And thank you, Batman.

Only She Told Him That She Loved Him

Posted: October 8, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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glass of wineI found this writing exercise on Pinterest: write a scene revolving around the sentence, “She told him that she loved him,” adding the word “only” before different words. I’m started with “only” as the first word. A lonely man thinks back on the one woman who told him that she loved him.

This inspired me to write about a nicer, modern-day Ebeneezer Scrooge pining for Belle, the girl he loved as a young man.


I love you, Ben, she’d said.

Ben Marley poured himself a glass of wine as the clock struck midnight. He never drank wine except at business meetings where his guests demanded it. Ben Marley preferred vodka martinis. But not tonight.

“Will there be anything else, Mr. Marley?” Robert, his butler, asked.

“No, Robert, that’ll be fine. I’m sorry I’ve kept you so late. You and Higgins go get trashed. Grab a cab or stay in a hotel and charge it to the expense account.”

“Thank you. Good night, sir.” Robert started for the door. He reached for the doorknob, then stopped.

“What is it, Robert?”

“Sir, would you care to join us?”

Marley laughed. “These old bones, out drinking with you and Higgins? Are you wanting your cut of the inheritance money that fast?”

Robert looked stung. “No, sir!”

“I’m sorry, Robert. The weather’s making my arthritis act up. I’m getting cranky.”

“Can I fix you some tea or draw you a bath?”

“For God’s sake, go have fun. I’ve kept you too long already.”

“I just thought… that you looked awfully lonely, sitting there, sir.”

Marley was about to wave Robert off. Then he heard himself say, “I am, Robert.” Marley blinked. What make him say that? He’d never confided in Robert before.

Robert stepped back into the living room. He took off his gloves. “Well… what is it, sir? Can I help?”

Marley didn’t want to admit weakness. He stared at the glass of wine. He hadn’t even drunk any! But it wasn’t the alcohol that was doing it. Not with drunkenness, anyway. “There was a girl, named Belle. The only woman I ever loved. The only one who ever said to me, ‘I love you.’” He rubbed his forehead. Marley gestured to his tablet computer, left within his reach on the coffee table. “A man with my… resources… has access to better things than Facebook to check up on his old acquaintances.”

Robert looked sick. “You were spying on a girl you loved?”

“Not spying! No. It’s a… program… that compiles publicly available data from all available sources. We use it for executive profiles…”

“You spied on her.”

Marley looked away. The richest man in the world felt abashed by his own butler. “I suppose I did. I don’t even know what prompted me to look her up. But I found something terrible.”

“What is it?”

“She has skin cancer. She can’t afford treatment. But I know, and I can help.” He gestured at the wine glass. “Belle always drank wine. I never drank it again after I walked away from her.”

“So… will you help her?”

“I don’t know. Do I have the right to be such a busybody to barge in and ‘save her’? How do I explain that I was snooping like this?”

Robert folded his arms. “Do you still love her, sir?”

“I…” Ben knew the answer was yes. He nodded.

“Then be a man about it. Pick up your phone, start with an apology, and beg to help her.”

“I don’t beg!”

“Would you for her?”

“They’ll throw me off the board if I embarrass the company like this.”

“Is she worth it to you?”

Marley wrapped his fingers around the wine glass. He squinted his eyes tight. He couldn’t bear the idea of Belle dying anything less than an old woman surrounded by great-grandchildren and comforted by a life of happy memories. “Yes. A thousand times.”

“Then call and flip the bird to the board as you walk out.”

“Thank you, Robert.” Marley picked up his phone and began dialing. Robert started tapping his phone. “What are you doing?”

“I’m telling Higgins I’ll meet him at the bar. I’m staying here to make sure you don’t chicken out.”

Marley laughed. It wasn’t familiar sound. He liked it. “Since when have you been my conscience?”

“Longer than you realize… sir. And I’m not stopping now.”

Marley kept dialing. He just hoped Belle would be willing to listen to him.

Photo credit: “Finishing off a long weekend” by fringley at Flickr
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Hand-Me-Downs

Posted: September 11, 2014 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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zebra station wagon

My favorite hand-me-down was my older brother’s car. I bought it from him in 1991, after I came home from college. At the time I could barely stomach handing him the money: his car was a 1986 Chevy Cavalier wagon, a car that would guarantee that I wouldn’t be getting laid anywhere near it. I think that was why my mom and dad encouraged him to sell it to me.

I’ll tell you what, though: that car had personality. I’ll never forget the first time I drove it. I was on my way to the beer distributor to get a case of MGD. Someone pulled up alongside me in a Camaro wearing sunglasses with slicked-back hair. He revved his engine twice. I just waved at him. He stared me down, hit the gas when the light turned green, then something in his engine blew out and he rolled to a stop in the middle of the intersection. I made to the other side before he did. I pet my dashboard and said, “Attaboy.”

I swear, it liked me after that. Every time a car crept into my blind spot, I knew it was there before I looked. It was like the car was telling me. Rental cars didn’t give me the same luck. Even though it was a lightweight, the only skidding I ever did on ice was in an empty parking lot.

The first bumper sticker said “what if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?” followed by “kill your television” and “do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.” I took it on road trips to the Jersey shore and the Poconos. The cargo space was big enough for skis, a surfboard, or one bike if you wrestled with it for a few minutes. I drove it all the way to California when I moved to LA. There’s a picture of me leaning on the hood with the world’s largest ball of twine in the background. After that trip, I might add, I finally did get laid in that car.

It took me ten years before I needed a major repair. The catalytic converter went. For about a week it sounded like I had popcorn popping in my muffler.

I finally gave it up for auction in 2002, when it became old enough to drive. By then the upholstery was held up with enough thumbtacks to look like the night sky over Lake Winnipesaukee. To my knowledge my old buddy is still rolling somewhere in Tijuana. Vaya con Dios, my friend.

I really did own a Chevy Cavalier station wagon for my first car. Most of the rest is a tall tale, inspired by the daily prompt “hand-me-downs.”

Photo credit: “Zebra Chevrolet Cavalier station wagon” by dave_7 at Flickr
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Wring Me Out Like a Wash Cloth

Posted: July 29, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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At first you feel like you're dying, then you feel reborn.

Terry’s legs felt like jello as he stepped off the elliptical machine. He took a swig of Gatorade, then started wiping down the machine with the antiseptic towels that the gym kept nearby. He’d always been sweaty when he worked out, even as a teenager. It looked less flattering on him now.

His trainer, Felicia, grinned at him. “How do you feel?”

“Better. Still crappy.”

“That was 45 minutes. You must have had one hell of a week.”

“The worst.”

“Well, now you’re nice and warmed up. What would you rather do, power yoga or boxing?”

Terry gave Felicia a cockeyed look. Her smile grew wider. He said, “You know, you really could be a movie star with that smile of yours, if you’d stop killing people.”

“Come on, wuss. Pick one.”

“How about Zumba?”

“I’m really not trying to kill you, Terry. Let’s bring your heart rate down a bit.”

It wasn’t a great choice. Terry had the balance of a whale on land, but he didn’t want to box. He’d spent his entire week fighting office battles. He wanted to flush that energy out of his system. “Power yoga. With weights.”

Felicia clapped. “Now you’re speaking my language!”

Normally Felicia would join in and do the workout with him, but this time she kept her full attention on making sure he did the poses safely. He worked out to hip hop music that she liked. He’d never really liked it until today.

Thirty minutes into the workout, the one-kilo hand weight felt like it weight five. Terry moved from front plank to side plank. He lifted up the weight. He thought he could feel each muscle moving separately. Terry closed his eyes. A drop of sweat ran over his eyelid. It felt cool. He felt exhausted. Finally.

“How are we doing, sport?” Felicia asked.

Terry nodded. “Good.”

“That’s what I want to hear. Return to plank, and do the other side.”

Terry did as she said. It felt like he had thirty minutes to go. He loved the contrast of his cool breath with the heat in his body. He moved from side plank back to regular plank, then into down dog. Felicia started wrapping an exercise band around his foot. He wondered what kind of mischief she had in mind next.

Terry smiled. He didn’t care. She could have walked him into a gym machine store and made him demonstrate every function of every machine. It would all feel good to him now.

Today’s post was inspired by the Daily Prompt “Back to Life“: After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again? Myself, I like to exercise myself silly, preferably something fun. Either that or play with dogs.

Live with Flavor

Posted: June 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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follow your taste budsToday’s post is inspired by the Daily Prompt “Picky Tongues“: If you had to lose part of your sense of taste, which would it be?

Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami. I would choose to lose salty. Sweet is too much fun, sour is good too, bitter is sometimes good when you contrast it with spicy, and umami is… I don’t know what umami is, but the definition says it’s a pleasant, savory flavor, so I’ll keep it. Too much salt is bad for you anyway. The one reason I can see keeping your salt sense is so that you can tell something’s too salty so that you won’t eat it. Too much sugar is bad for you too, at least sweet things like fruit are still good for you.

Emily woke up. Which would it be today?

Her coffee still tasted deep, dark and bitter, just how she liked it. Her orange juice still tasted like a ray of sunshine. Emily smiled at that. She’d make sure to have a brownie at lunch to celebrate.

Every morning, a different flavor sense vanished. While she slept, it came back and another one went away. The doctors said it was a side effect of the car accident. The blood loss from her injuries had caused such a drain from her head that neural pathways had fallen asleep to keep her from dying. Now they were waking up again, but her brain seemed to have forgotten how to have all of them running at once.

She took a bite of some string cheese while she made scrambled eggs for breakfast. The cheese still tasted cheesy, so it wasn’t umami. Once the eggs were ready, she put on a dash of ground sea salt and black pepper. She waited before putting the ketchup on. There were three senses to go.

Her eggs tasted like eggs. The pepper tasted pungent. She wondered what the fields in India where they were grown smelled like. She didn’t taste salt.

Emily dabbed her finger on her tongue and picked up a few stray grains of salt from the edge of the plate. She tasted nothing.

Oh well. Chips wouldn’t be any fun today. Soup and other foods from the cafeteria at her job would taste funny, too. At least it wasn’t sweetness. There was nothing more sad than biting into a nice, crisp apple and just tasting mush.

Emily enjoyed some key lime yogurt—nice and tart—to round out breakfast, then started getting ready for work. They were taking her friend Lisa out to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory tomorrow. Emily hoped she’d still have her sweet tooth.

Photo credit: “Follow Your Taste Buds” by Marsmettnn Tallahassee at Flickr
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The Book Blogger Test

Posted: June 13, 2014 by writingsprint in Essay, My two cents
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books-that-is-exactly-how-they-workA fun little survey about books and you. Special thanks to Jodie Llewellyn for posting this on her blog and Brin Guivera, from whom Jodie found it in the first place.

What are your top three book pet hates?

1. Information dumps. I appreciate all the research that you did and all the planning that you did, Mr. or Ms. Author, but only tell as me as much as I need, when I need it. Take me away from the action with a page of exposition and all I’ll do is skip past it.

2. Characters who are idiots. I can live with characters undone by their egos, but even then, they should have good ideas that are undone by better ideas.

3. Rambling plots. That’s why I never started reading some fantasy series, when other readers told me that they just wouldn’t end. I’ll read a long series if I know that the author has an end game, but if they’re just picking my pocket to sell books, that’s disrespecting me as a reader.

Describe your perfect reading spot.

My favorite, ever, was sitting on a porch back in college, in a house at the top of a hill where I could watch the sun set. I sat there every night, reading and writing until the sun went down.

Tell us three book confessions.

Three? I have no idea. You already know that I write fan fictions, which means I’m a sucker for good stuff that other people write. Let’s see…

Here’s a good one. The first story that I ever wrote was a fan fiction about the original miniseries V. I put myself into the story, of course. I was so afraid that someone would read it that I threw out each page as I wrote it.

The first young adult book I ever read was Henry Reed’s Journey, and to this day I don’t know whether my sense of humor was already there or whether I adopted Henry’s as I read the book.

I’m a book hoarder. Letting me walk into a book store with cash is a very dangerous thing. I probably have thirty books waiting to be read.

When was the last time you cried during a book?

I haven’t when I’ve read them. I cried while writing this scene a few months ago.

How many books are on your bedside table?

One. There are four or five on my Kindle app, too.

What is your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?

I don’t snack while reading. I usually read right before bed.

Name three books you would recommend to everyone

Fahrenheit 451. My favorite book of all time. It’s intense, passionate, vivid, mind-blowing, sincere, and close to the heart. You’ll want to read or write after it’s done.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. A delight. You’ll remember how it feels to be a child who believes in magic — which is even more rich than being an adult who believes in magic.

The Old Man and the Sea. An intimate portrayal a man as he faces himself and nature. I like to imagine that Hemingway had a close friend like the old man and wanted to write a story that was a love note to their friendship. I’m not even a Hemingway fan — I didn’t like A Farewell to Arms — but I love this book.

Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase.

Here you go.

bookcase

From left to right:
Shadow of a Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist
Timeline by Michael Crichton
Spooky Maryland by S.E. Schlosser
Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil and Katja Foglio
Haunts by Stephen Jones
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
Secret Go the Wolves by R.D. Lawrence
The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z by Max Brooks
The Last Apocalypse and Warriors of God by James Reston
Life in a Medieval City by Joseph and Frances Gies
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Paranormal by David Borgensicht and Ben H. Winters
The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose by Glen Cook
V by A.C. Crispin
Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back sketchbooks by Joe Johnston
The Art of Star Wars by Jonathan Bresman
Anomaly by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin
The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Superstitions by The Diagram Group

Write how much books mean to you in just three words.

Living other lives.

What is your biggest reading secret?

I want to read more poetry. This is new, and I haven’t had a chance to move on it yet with all the other reading I need to catch up on. Poets capture passion and life in a tiny space of words. I would love to write moments that make readers’ eyes pop.

Because prose makes an impression, but it doesn’t sound as good as this!


“Books: that is exactly how they work” used without permission.

Shy Guy

Posted: May 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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treadmillJohn met his workout partner Suzanne at the gym the morning after New Year’s. “That was a fun time last night. Your cousin’s a good kisser.”

She hit him on the arm. “Hey. Off limits, buster!” Then she smiled. “Actually, that’s what she said about you.”

John ducked his head, smiling back. “Really?”

Suzanne folded her arms. “You are so full of it. I thought I had you pegged, but the way you two warmed up? Lizzy doesn’t warm up like that to anybody.” They started for the cardio machines to warm up.

“I… I don’t know. We had chemistry?”

“Tell me the truth. Sometimes you play up how shy you are, because you know girls think it’s cute.”

John bit his lip. “Sometimes.”

“I knew it!”

“I swear I don’t do it on purpose. You do it enough times, it becomes a habit. It’s not like it’s ever gotten me a date or anything.” He smiled. “But it does score points.” His smile faded. “Are you mad?”

“Hell no. I wanted to make sure she had fun this weekend. I just didn’t think you’d be the entertainment.”

John got on a treadmill. Suzanne got on the elliptical machine next to him. They tried to gauge who was working out harder.

“So how long is she in town?”

Suzanne shook her head. “The shy guy’s looking for a date. I tell you what, you’re changing everything I thought I knew about you.” They started moving on their machines.

“Sue, come on!”

“’Til tomorrow night. She had a bad headache this morning, but I’ll ask her when I get back.”

John smiled. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“Tell you what. If I beat my personal best today…. you’ll put in a good word for me.”

Suzanne shook her head.

“No?”

“You don’t need it.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You really want to make it interesting?”

“Uh oh.”

“Personal best, across the board. I’ll set your goals.” She cranked up the speed on his treadmill. “Starting now.”

John starting pumping his arms to keep up. It wasn’t the fastest he’d ever gone, but he’d never held speed like this for the full 45 minutes. “You’d better make me sound great.”

Suzanne ticked the resistance up. “Great costs extra.”

“I’ll be too tired to—”

“To what, lover boy?”

John gave her his shy smile again. Suzanne shook her head. “And to think, I fell for that too.”

Photo credit: “Running on a treadmill” by E’lisa Campbell at Flickr
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Love, Like and Lust

Posted: March 27, 2014 by writingsprint in Essay
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cute coupleIt occurred to me that have a successful relationship there are three things that you need to have with them: you need to love them, you need to like them, and you need lust after them.

Now, the Beatles said that all you need is love. There’s merit to that. I would say that love, caring, is the most important of the three. If you don’t care about someone, you’re not going to like them, and you’re going to have a very cold sexual connection that isn’t any more fun than a porno magazine.

Liking someone means that you could hang out with them. It helps to have similar interests. It’s even better if your partner has different interests from you, that you normally wouldn’t be caught dead trying, but which you try because you’re with them. My wife hasn’t been to a comic book convention yet, but I think one of these years she may go with me. I normally wouldn’t have tried sushi, but just last week I did, because she enjoys it.

Lust gets a bad rep, and in my devout years growing up I would have kept my distance from it. I learned. A friend of mine once said to me, your brain is a three-pound organ in a 150-pound body. There’s more to you than your mind. We crave physical affection, and feeling sexy is a healthy part of who we are. The problem is it gets wrapped around media and expectations and outright bullshit. Accept your body and smile at the person you see in the mirror. That’s what sexy feels like. Find what you like and be passionate about it. That’s even sexier than how you look. If you love someone and like someone, they will become the sexiest person in your world. Listen to music that makes you feel good. Give your partner’s butt a squeeze when they’re not expecting it—as long as they’re not handling power tools or something, let’s be real. Dance when there’s no reason to. Some people say that’s romance, not lust. Not if you’re dancing the right way, it isn’t.

Check in with your partner and see how they’re doing, just because. Hang out in the ways that you both like doing, whether it’s grabbing a burger or heckling the evening news. And do things that your parents said you shouldn’t do, because, well, they were doing them too.

Nine Words: “The Ben Franklin Experiment”

Posted: February 21, 2014 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
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Benjamin Franklin lightning experimentThe thunder knocked me out me out of my chair. Our dog started barking, then power went out. I smelled smoke. I tried to get my shoes on but one of them just wouldn’t go. I got up with one shoe on, one shoe off.

“Is everybody okay?” I called.

My wife drew a beeline for the stairs. She heard our son Bobby crying before I did.

Our daughter was down in the basement. I didn’t hear anything there. “I’ll check on Leanne!” I called.

I should have gotten a flashlight. I started downstairs, dog tangling up my legs, and almost fell into Leanne. She was the first one smart enough to have a flashlight. “I heard the boom,” she said.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, fine.”

My wife sounded like she was laughing. “Honey, you have got to see this,” she called.

I shoved the dog upstairs ahead of us. Leanne handed me the flashlight and followed me.

Bobby had been working on his Benjamin Franklin lightning experiment. He was only supposed to build the kite, not fly it, but fly it he did. The end had been tied to a doll which was now melted. Bobby had to be the luckiest kid in the world.

“Oh, am I going to blog this,” Leanne said.

“How do I explain this to the insurance agent?” I wondered.

I belong to a local writers club. For fun, we all tried to write something based on a roll of Rory’s Story Cubes. I didn’t keep a picture of my roll, but the words I came up with from them were: house, lightning, footprint, chaos, key, bee, dice, letter, building.