Sunday, May 29, 2011


This challenge was based on MacGyver.  These were our instructions:

In this story, your protagonist – who is not MacGyver – is MacGyvering out of a situation in which he or she feels trapped. Whether the trapping is literal or they’re just trapped in a bad situation is your business.
Your character is assumed to have duct tape and a Swiss army knife. It is not required that they be used, but your character has them.
At least three of the following items, though, must be used by the character to solve the problem:
Clothesline, Rubber Ducky, Pizza Box, Hard Candy, Moisturizing Cream, Calculator, Gold Ring, and a Fedora.

My entry:

Fred and Nancy never went to cocktail parties. Their marriage never would have survived 30 years if they hadn’t stopped partying long ago.  As it was, they had barely managed to deliver their relationship from its infancy.  To do it Fred had finally agreed to give up partying, which he loved; he’d chosen Nancy instead.  And Nancy had given up drinking anywhere but home, where the horribly offensive, unlike-anything-she-even-believed-sober shit she was bound to say would fall on knowing ears and could do no harm. 

Tonight’s party was one they could not skip though.  Their son had recently become engaged, and his fiancĂ©e’s parents were throwing the young couple a party.  Fred had been nervous since the day he’d seen the invitation. He had a lot to lose if Nancy couldn’t control herself. There would be the personal, familial disasters, naturally, but Fred also stood to suffer financially as well. His son’s future father-in-law, Eli Abramson, was the biggest client of the law firm Fred started ten years ago.  It was not hyperbole to say that Fred could not afford to lose him as a client.   He shared all of this with Nancy, who loved money as much as Fred loved being well-connected.

“Please don’t drink tonight,” he had begged Nancy as they got ready.

“Well, I’m not going to raise a glass of water.”

“Fine. One glass of champagne.  Then stop. ”

As he worked the room, Fred kept an eye on his wife.  He was relieved to see that she had switched to seltzer after the toast.  When he saw her chatting up the Abramsons, he made his way over to her.  He was relaxed, having fun. He wanted to be with his wife.

“Let me tell you this:  the fucking Holocaust never happened.” he heard Nancy say just as he joined the group, “I don’t hold any of it against you, mind you. It’s not your fault.  Hell, you weren’t even born yet.”

“Well…” Eli began to say something.

“You are obviously nice people. It must make you mad, too, all these people running around, ‘Holocaust this, Holocaust that! Wah, wah, wah! Feel sorry for me! Give me your money! I need money!’“

Fred knew a few things instantly. First of all…fuck.  And he knew that his son was fucked, his family was fucked and his business was fucked.  But, more important to the immediate situation, he knew that he had to get out of this house. Now.  With or without his wife, preferably without, he had to leave.  He was so humiliated, so conflict-avoidant, so mad, so many things that made any minimal damage control he may have been able to do impossible, that walking, no running, away was his only possible choice.  He looked around the room for a way out. He saw:  a pizza box (which immediately registered as odd), a bowl of hard candy, and a calculator.  He had a small tube of moisturizing cream and a Swiss Army knife in his pocket. In addition to his suit and tie he was wearing a watch, gold ring and a fedora.  He guessed that he could also count on there being a clothesline, rubber ducky and duct tape somewhere in the house, though he doubted he would need them.

Thinking quickly, though admittedly not well, he walked calmly to the candy dish, tipping his cap to the ladies he passed along the way. He picked out a piece of butterscotch, unwrapped it, and put it in his mouth.  As he did he looked around the room. The uneasy situation from which he had just walked away was beginning to turn heads. He smiled at a man who stood next to him at the candy dish.

“What’s going on over there?”  The man asked.

“Yeah, I don’ know.”  Fred replied as he pulled the moisturizing hand cream out of his pocket. “Want some?”

“Oh, uh, no thanks,” the man said before walking nervously away.

Fred struggled to maintain an outward appearance of calm as he applied the moisturizing hand cream, but the odd looks he was now getting told him he wasn’t succeeding.

From his spot next to the candy dish Fred could see the front door. Freedom!  He ambled in that direction, careful not to walk straight to it, afraid someone might stop him.  He saw the pizza box sitting on a table.  He bent down and pretended to read the preheating instructions. He was closer to the door now.  The calculator, on the back of a chair very near the door, was his next stop.  He picked it up, bit his lip and squinted his eyes.  Looking around the room he saw that this wasn’t drawing anyone’s attention.  Yes!  They all think I’m over here working a problem. No big deal.  

He made for the door. Just as he put his hand on the doorknob, he heard his wife.

“Fred, stop!”

He did, and slowly turned around.  Nancy and the Abramsons approached him, smiling.  Smiling?

“Why didn’t you introduce us to your wife sooner, Fred?”  Eli asked, “She is damn funny.  And I was more than glad to help make my lawyer squirm!  Nancy told us to expect an awkward exit from you, but the calculator?  Ha, ha! No one saw that coming.”

“My knight in shining armor!  I know I can always count on you, honey.”  Nancy smiled at him and put her arm around his neck, pulling him away from the door.  “Come on, join the party.”

Judges reaction:  They thought it was okay, didn't love the joke of having all the items in the story. (If I would have thought I had a chance at winning immunity last week, I probably wouldn't have gone for those cheap laughs.  This is the type of challenge at which one of the other competitors is usually unbeatable.  And he was, luckily, so I don't regret the gag.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I'm really getting sick of this weather.  Every time I look to the sky it's cloudier than a prostitute's pap smear.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


People who write "first" when they have the first post in comment sections are also going to be the first people I punch in the mouth when I finally snap.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Word Problem

This morning, I filled a little sandbox with 100 pounds of rice.  So far my son has thrown 40 pounds off the deck, 28 pounds onto the deck, filled his pockets with 19 pounds and has eaten another 99 pounds. How is this possible?  Show your work.

Today's WTF Moment

Newt Gingrich, long time United States Representative and former Speaker of the House, is campaigning as a Washington outsider, and promises to go in there and shake things up if elected.  How stupid does he think people are?  Don't answer that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

So Long, Suckers!

Here's the plan:  Tonight I'm going to build a huge slingshot. At 5:59:59 P.M CDT tomorrow I will use it to shoot myself into the air, where I will soon be joined by all the Righteous on their way to Heaven.  Then, in the mad confusion, I'll grab onto one of them and sneak through the Pearly Gates!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Goddamn People!

More fun in the comment section. I shouldn't let these people get to me, but I can't seem to help it.  I ran into a guy who was mocking people who didn't want to see the constitution changed to ban same-sex marriage. I'll copy and paste our conversation:

Asshole:  Why not bring it to a vote? Is democracy getting in the way of your liberal agenda? I bet all of you liberals would be singing a different tune if we were going to have a vote on an issue that would be voted in your favor. There is no chance of gay marriage being sanctioned if it goes to the poles. In a true democracy majority rules. Sorry about your luck!

The Good Guys:  Okay, Jim. I propose we vote on whether we should amend the constitution to take away people named Jim's rights to free speech. Remember that in a true democracy majority rules! Sorry about your luck!!

Asshole #2:  in every society where moral decay becomes rampant, the society crumbles at about the 50 year mark. Research it, look at when the moral decline in this country started - in the '60's with "if it feels good, do it". Do the math. This nation was founded on Christian principles; our currency says, "In God We Trust" - not "In Our Own Feelings and Desires We Trust". Those who are saying we shouldn't be talking about this are correct. It's not about hating those who identify themselves as gay, it's about loving them like God loves them, with his ways and his wisdom!

The Good Guys: And as he has made them! (also I'd like some historical examples of the 50-year-mark-crumbling. And moral decline didn't begin in the 60's. People have been using drugs and screwing out of wedlock since time began. Also...oh never mind.)

Original Asshole: Tom your example makes as much sense as your point of view. Do you really believe your analogy holds any water?? That is the problem with you liberals, your argument is at best elementary. I don't care if you love your pet rabbit so much you'd marry it, just don't expect normal people to condone your perversion. BTW do you really believe we are on a moral incline? Have you ever looked at divorce statistics, or murder rates etc... Or maybe you are so morally corrupt that you don't think any of it is a problem. Maybe you just don't care as long as you can marry your boyfriend. Tom in my mind you are exhibit "A" on what is ruining this country.

The Good Guys:  Jim- I don't have a boyfriend. You available? By the way, I looked into the murder rates, etc. of the Wild West and they were higher than today. And the divorce rate was lower, but only because women were forced to stay with the men of strong morals who abused them and/or cheated on them with hookers. And then I watched the Untouchables, and remembered the Roaring Twenties. So I suppose one could make the argument that we are on a moral incline, especially if you consider letting black people vote/ride busses/drink out of fountains, and letting women work and vote, moral issues ( I know you don't but most normal, patriotic people do). Many people, myself included, love the constitution. And if you really believe that people who love the constitution are ruining America, well, that says more about you than it does about me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That'll Teach Ya

Some of you may recognize the characters in this challenge. I changed/misspelled a couple names to protect the not-so-innocent.
These were our instructions:  

"In this challenge, two people are having some sort of scene. There can be other people involved, but the main conflict or story has to involve these two characters. At the end of the story, one character’s life, or situation (the scope of the scene is up to you) will be better. The other’s will be worse. Also, the two characters can’t talk. They will be silent for the entire scene."

My Entry:
Sitting next to the bed, alone with his wife for the first time, Tim realized that a hospital room is never quiet. But the rhythm and beeps of the various pumps and monitors allowed him to begin unwinding and provided the beat with which he unraveled his emotions. The nurse had told him that his wife was lucky to survive the accident. It was true that her life would never be like it was, but intense rehab should allow her to regain some semblance of normalcy.  And when she told him that the man who was driving Sara’s car had not been so lucky, the nurse had also confirmed to Tim, without realizing it, what he had long suspected:  Sara had been having an affair. 

Tim looked at the white board on the table next to the bed. Because Sara’s many injuries included severe lacerations on her face and head and the bandages made it impossible for her to open her mouth and difficult for her to hear, the doctors and nurses had been communicating with her by writing yes/no questions and watching as Sara lifted her fingers, one for “yes” and two for “no”.  Reading only half of these conversations did not answer too many questions for Tim; he wondered if he could correctly guess how his wife had answered. Six months ago he would have been confident-now he felt like the woman sleeping in the bed next to him was a stranger.

He had known for months that something was not right. Instead of staying in with him, Sara was spending most evenings after supper out. At first he believed her when she told him she was bowling, shopping or at the movies. Eventually, though, he mustered the courage to see all the lies.  When he told Sara he was done and had given her permission to tell anyone she wanted that it was Tim who abandoned the marriage if she would just, please, tell him the truth, Sara had begged him to stay. She swore up and down that she was not lying, that Tim was her soul mate.  Her pleas were so convincing, and he wanted to believe her so badly, that he stayed. And the next few weeks were the happiest of their marriage.  Sara was with him nearly every night. She looked him in the eyes; she smiled.

Tim was calmly watching the I.V. drip when he felt Sara wake up.  An accomplished actress couldn’t say as much with her eyes as Sara did in the seconds after she awoke. Joy, recognition, and sorrow flashed over her face.

Tim had been waiting a long time for this and he wasted little time picking up the white board.

“You weren’t at the casino with Sherry were you?”  He wrote.

Tim watched her fingers. Finally, she raised two. No.

“You know Jarrod died?”

Another long pause. One finger. Yes

“You never quit seeing him?”

Sara thought a long time about how to answer. It amused Tim that she seemed to think there was something she could “say” that would affect his decision. “Maybe,” she seemed to be thinking, “if I tell him I did quit seeing Jared, that this was a one-time relapse, he’ll forgive me. Or maybe if I’m honest he’ll forgive me.”


“Do you want me to stay?”

Yes.  And her eyes added an exclamation mark.  Yes!

“Do you miss him?”


“I need to know.”


“Thank you. I love you. “


“Goodbye, Sara.”

Tim passed the nurse’s station on his way out. One of the nurses looked up and said, “We’ll take good care of her.”  Tim smiled and gave her a brief nod. He hoped so, for her sake.  He looked down the hallway at the sunlight pouring through the hospital’s front doors and walked away.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Say What?

The challenge was called "I Said Lunch, Not Launch."  The task was to write a story in which a slight misunderstanding leads to different than expected results.  This was my entry:

“Amber is probably graduating from high school this month,” Eric said.

“Yeah. I think my little Stevie did last year,” Mark replied.

“Stevie? I doubt it.”

“What the fuck?”

“I’m just saying.  Wasn’t he a little…”

“A late-bloomer?”

“I was going to say retarded.”

“Of course you were.  And I wasn’t going to say, but will now, that if Amber is graduating, it is from one of those special schools for pregnant girls.”

Eight years ago

Exploring the islands of the South Pacific by sailboat was an almost life-long dream fulfilled for Eric and Mark.  The two friends had kissed their wives and kids goodbye at LAX, flown to Australia, rented a boat and sailed off into their fantasy.  And it was fantastic.  

After a couple stops at ports, Eric and Mark realized that they preferred to be on the boat. Whether Bliss was underway or at rest, bobbing on the long, gentle swell, she was fast becoming home and they hated to leave her.  Because they were spending much less time exploring the islands and more time sailing, they were able to cover much more of the sea than they had planned.

“I’ve spent my whole life in California,” Eric said as he gazed to the east, “and now I hardly believe that it exists. Doesn’t it feel like the ocean is all there is?”

“Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but yes, it is surprising how endless it feels.”

Eric couldn’t have been bothered less by his friend’s inability to match his enthusiasm. That was who he was. “Solidly grounded even in the middle of the ocean,” Eric thought.  

“How far are we from the nearest land do you ‘spose. I’m talking island, continent, whatever?” Eric asked.

Mark studied the chart. “Something like 250 miles.”

“Hmm.” Eric chuckled.

“Nancy will kill you if she finds out how far we strayed.”

“Well then, let’s not tell her.”  Mark smiled.

Mark had always been conservative, and his wife made him much more so, but Eric was glad to see that he was still willing to bend a few rules.  Eric got up to take his usual spot on the front deck. He still had the fantasies of a young boy and sitting on the bow, looking forward, made him feel like the last man on earth. From that spot he could also keep a lookout for reefs and other potential hazards.

“Do you think dolphins fantasize about fucking on land?”  Eric called back to the helm.

“What? What is wrong with you?”  Mark laughed.

“Do you not enjoy taking your wife to the beach and screwing in the ocean? Seems to me dolphins would get sick of the water is all. They are warm-blooded mammals you know.”

“Really?! I didn’t know that.”

“No sense of humor! Poor Mark.”

Eric felt Bliss veer slightly to port and figured Mark must have spotted something he hadn’t.  With Mark watching the sea, Eric felt free to lay back and relax. He had just nodded off when he heard about the last sound a sailor wants to hear--the high-pitched squeal of Bliss rubbing over coral. The pitch lowered and became a crunching, grinding, grating sound from hell.  And then Bliss stopped.

“Get back here. Now!” Mark yelled from the helm. “The cabin’s filling up. We’ve got to get off!”

Eric looked around. There was a small atoll not far off. They were fucked for sure but he didn’t feel the urgency Mark did to abandon ship. Bliss was high up on a reef and he doubted it was coming off anytime soon.  Still water pouring into the cabin was certainly cause for a quickening of one’s pace.

“What the hell happened?” Eric asked when he met Mark at the cabin door.

Mark had already begun throwing whatever he could up from the cabin. “Inflate the life raft and load it up! What happened? You tell me!”

“We ran aground on a fucking reef! What I want to know is, why?”

“Again, you tell me.  You were on the bow. You told me to steer to port. Ten minutes later, we’re fucked!”

“I didn’t…” Eric thought back to his last words. “Oh for fuck’s sake! I said ‘Poor Mark’ Poor! Poor! Not, ‘Port.”

It had taken them several days, but they managed to paddle most of the Bliss over (once they had concluded that it would never be sea-worthy again) and had used it to erect a sufficient shelter. Even though the seawater had killed the boat’s power and they couldn’t radio for help, the men were confident at first that they would be rescued. After a few weeks, though, they began to worry that they had sailed too far off their planned route. And when months went by, they gave up all hope. 

Neither man would have used the word, but they were lucky that the atoll on which they were now marooned had proven hospitable. The reef was home to plenty of fish and enough rain fell that the men were never without fresh water. 

The men’s bickering rarely ceased.  “You know who else is pregnant?  Your wife. I wonder how long it took her to find another man?” Eric chided, before landing the final blow, “Poor Mark.”   

Monday, May 16, 2011

Where I Have Been

You may have noticed that I haven't posted much lately.  There are a couple reasons for this:  My baby is no longer a baby; he is a rifle-through-the-junk-drawer, toilet-paper-unraveling, everything-eating, naughty toddler and for me to write something I have to ignore the damage he's doing and that's not easy; and also, the writing contest I've been in for the last several months is really heating up and I'm spending more time thinking about what to write so I don't look like a talentless hack.

The contest  has been a great experience- I've been forced out of my comfort zone, and gotten great feedback, read some awesome stuff, and simply had fun. Anyway, since I haven't been posting much but have been writing, I'll start posting some of my entries here.

The challenge last week was to take two popular stories and mash them together. For example, one might have Romeo and Juliet riding along with Dirty Harry. Hilarity would ensue, no?

"Romeo, Romeo where for art thou Magnum? And yes, Harry, I do feel lucky, stop asking!"

Or one could mash up Forrest Gump and Silence of the Lambs, as I chose to do:

                                                        Forrest of the Lambs

Clarice walked down the long hall towards the most evil man she knew.  To get to him she first had to pass several other sociopathic men.  She steadied her gaze on the far wall and concentrated on walking confidently.

“MMM…I can smell your shrimp,” whispered a black man in the first cell.

Clarice stared straight ahead and picked up her pace.  Someone had placed a chair in front of the last cell.  Her hands began sweating as she neared the end of the hall. She was going to be mere feet away from a man who ate humans, a monster. When she reached the chair she looked at the floor and sat down. She took a deep breath and looked up.

“Hello, Clarice.”

The man was standing in the middle of his cell, hands behind his back, smiling eerily.

“Hello, Forrest.”

“You met Bubba.”


“He is my best good friend.”

“Okay.”  The hair on the back of Clarice’s neck stood up. Here was a notoriously cunning criminal yet he looked and sounded like a common idiot.

“You didn’t come here to talk about Bubba, Clarice. Ask me the question.”

“Where is Lieutenant Dan, Forrest?”


The house was small and plain, its tidy exterior keeping the hideous acts within a secret.  A woman crouched at the bottom of a deep pit in the basement. She pleaded with her captor.

“Please, please, let me out,” she cried, “I have a son who needs me. I won’t tell anyone where I was.”

“Jenny puts the lotion in the fucking basket!”

“Please, no.”


“I don’t know where he is, Clarice. The better question is:  Why is he doing what he is doing?  Why amputate his victims’ legs?”

“I don’t know. It thrills him?”

“Stupid is as stupid does, Clarice.”

“They are his trophies?”


“Why do you think he does it?”

“Quid pro quo, Clarice.  Do you like chocolates?”


“Do you…”

“Quid pro quo, Forrest.  Why amputate the legs?”

“Because he lost his in the war. Just before something bit me.”

“I don’t understand. Is he jealous of people having legs?”

“No.  He’s trying to build magic legs, Clarice.”


Clarice left the prison relieved. She had stared evil in the eyes and not blinked.  And she had gained valuable insight into Lieutenant Dan’s motives. She crosschecked databases of men who had received prosthetic legs against a list of veterans, and was pleasantly surprised when her research produced only one address.

For reasons too lame to explain, Clarice found herself barging into Lieutenant Dan’s lair alone. Even though he was prepared for the possibility that the authorities may come pounding on his door one day, Lieutenant Dan went down pretty easily. Yes he had turned off the lights and wore night-vision goggles. But he had no legs and couldn’t reach his gun, so Clarice simply walked around behind him, grabbed his arms and put him in hand cuffs. She went to the pit and looked down at Jenny, who was reciting a prayer over and over.

“Please God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away…”

“You're safe, Jenny. Little Forrest is at the police station. I hope you use your second chance at life to quit stripping and get a real job.”

“I will, I will. But I have AIDS, so it doesn’t really matter.”


Clarice found Forrest standing in the same spot as before, as though he hadn’t moved.

“We got him.  Jenny is safe, though dying. Little Forrest is safe, too.”

“Is he, is he a, ah, a sociopath?”

“No, Forrest. He’s a healthy little boy.  I see the prison has a new warden?”

“Yes. I loved the last one.  I ate his liver with a box of chocolates and about 15 Dr. Peppers.”


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank You, Mama

I don’t tell my wife often enough how much I appreciate her.  My kids and I are going to start changing that now.  Call it a late Mother’s Day gift.

I am humbled by what an incredible woman, wife, and mother Stacy is. And I feel incredibly lucky to have her.  Here is a short list of things we love about her:

We love Mama on Valentine’s Day

We love Mama on Easter (here I stepped in. We’ll just say we love her everyday, holidays included.)

We love sending cards to Mama

We appreciate how hard she works.

We are very happy when she comes home.

We are thankful she cooks breakfast for us.

Daddy is thankful she pays all the bills and does most of the bookkeeping.

She is the toughest person we know.

Daddy is thankful that she would never kiss another boy (even Jon Bon Jovi).

We love watching birdies with Mama.

We love to play with baby brother and Mama.

Our oldest loves going to work with Mama because Mama prints coloring sheets and it’s fun to be with her.

We appreciate that Mama does most of the laundry.

We appreciate that Mama does the dishes.

We appreciate that Mama handles most of the evening parenting duties.

We appreciate that she vacuums.

(If you’re starting to wonder what daddy, the stay-at-home parent, does all day well, it’s a mystery.)

We love going on walks to see the horsies with Mama.

We love going to the beach by Disney World with Mama.

We love shopping for outfits with Mama.

We are thankful she makes scarves for us.

We love how much Mama hates bugs.

We love hugging Mama.

We love kissing Mama.

We are grateful that she takes such good care of us and we know that when we are with her, we will be okay.

We love Mama a lot, “five and one hundred”, to be exact.

Happy Movver’s Day, Mama!

More Fun With Cretins

The comment section of a recent news story about a Hmong group that was offended by a parody song aired on a local radio station was filled with such enlightened thoughts as:  "They'll be less offended when the win a settlement. They're just here for a free ride" and "People need to lighten up!" Forget about the "free ride" dope- he's a lost cause.  I actually agree that people would be well served by not taking life so seriously. But that goes for everyone, of course.  Especially those so fond of telling other people to lighten up. Thus my comment:

All you conservatives telling Hmongs to lighten up are stupid, hypocritical, pea-brained, baffoonish blow-hards who are only Americans because your ancestors skated over here for a free ride.  Normally I wouldn't dare write this but I know how much you all love an offensive joke that I thought, "Heck those rednecks will love it!"

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I think of all the things I learned in college, the most useful in the real world is that any bathroom that has a sink, has a urinal.