Friday, January 25, 2013

Flash Fiction Fridays, #3

5 words picked by a random word generator, 100 words or fewer.  We have: golf, river, chicken, spar, danger. Please send in one of your own, due by midnight, Monday, New York time. Winner gets a critique of the first chapter of their WIP or poem.

“You have a golf scholarship?”
“Had. Dropped out. Partied too much.”
He laughed. “Good for business. The river is 250 meters wide. You can do it?”
“Sure. Where’s the balls?”
“Hidden under the chickens, in case anybody comes sniffing around.”
“I’m not into danger, I just need some cash. My girlfriend’s in a no-holds-barred bare-knuckle sparring match. I need betting money.”
“Impressive. Maybe I should hire her too.”
I cracked him with the club the second he turned around. Hire my girlfriend? She planned this whole thing.
Fox in the hen house, Colombia pure in the balls.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Handwriting!

Today is National Handwriting Day.

 I write like the would-be chicken sacrifice from a B-movie voodoo ritual that tripped on a bowl of blood as it bolted for the door, little claws scraping out a frantic, "I hear the fish is much better here, why don't you try that instead?" as it fled, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate beautiful penmanship.

I used to enjoy getting letters from my aunt Kathryn in particular, just so I could look at the graceful swirls of her writing.

If I slow down to a snail's crawl, I can produce something the approaches legibility, but at even half of my normal speed, everything disintegrates. Maybe it's a left-handed thing, maybe it's a sign I shouldn't have bailed on med school, as I do have the stereotypical doctor's scrawl.

Anyway, to those practitioners of a perhaps dying art, seize the pen! Your clumsy fans will tap out their applause on the nearest user-friendly keyboard.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Flash Fiction Fridays, #2

It’s Flash Fiction Fridays again. 

5 words picked by a random word generator, 100 words or fewer story.  We have:  bacon, immigrant, mustard, colony, tax.

Please send in one of your own, due by midnight, Monday, New York time. Winner gets a critique of the first chapter of their WIP or poem.

     Darkness spread over the colony. The only light a gray moon and the immigrant asteroid it snared. Six months black wait for the binary suns. 

  Until then, want. Mustard sandwiches on coarse-grained bread. Gathering firewood while icewolves howl. Tornados of snow roar past, ice fields calve and shatter.

  Weddings postponed. The dead stacked in caves. Babies muffled in sooty shawls. Trapdoors readied under the hearth, families hiding from the collector’s knock. The bacon tax raised again. 

  If we couldn’t pay in kind, we’d have to pay in kin. A sow for the larders or a son for the mines.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Maha Kumbh Mela begins

The Maha Kumbh Mela (Grand Pitcher Festival), believed to be the largest religious gathering on Earth began today. Held every twelve years on the banks of the Sangam River, the confluence of three holy rivers--the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati, the festival celebrates a victory of gods over demons in a battle for the nectar of immortality. It begins with a ritual bath in the river's chilly waters.

During the battle four drops fell to Earth in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujain. Every three years a Kumbh Mela in held of one of the cities, but the one in Allahabad is the most revered. As many as 100 million pilgrims are expected to pass through in the next two months; 1.5 million have already gathered.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Flash Fiction Fridays, #1

After enjoying Janet Reid’s flash fiction contest, I’ve decide to give Flash Fiction Fridays a try. 

5 words picked by a random word generator, 100 words or fewer story.  We have:  minute, quarry, cowboy, union, angle. 

Please send in one of your own, due by midnight, Monday, New York time. Winner gets a critique of the first chapter of their WIP or poem.

“Your cowboy minute’s stretched into a week. Ever heard, ‘if the horse is dead, get off it?’”
“When she returns I’ll be right here. Our love is an indissoluble union.”
“That sounds like bad chemistry.”
“What’s your angle? Want her for yourself?”
“Not me. But if you discover she’s getting her rocks off with that huge dude from the quarry, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
He didn’t like that much. Maybe I earned the fist in my face.
Maybe he didn’t deserve to lose the girl, and four of his teeth, but that’s the way some stories end.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

the blog comes on little rat feet

Janet Reid, literary agent and blogger extraordinaire, recently held a flash fiction contest. The contest was in honor of the book Ratlines, by Stuart Neville. The requirements were: 100 words or fewer, using the words ratline, asylum, lodger, swords, bond.

Here's what I came up with:

     Tap. Tap-tap. Morse code spreads through the cellblock. The ratline opens tonight. 

     The rogue lab assistant crossed swords again with the Mengelean research director. The director activated the Brazil protocol. Now they’re trying to grow blue human eyes on our shaved backs. 

     The pierced assistant, the artful lodger, is granting us asylum at her Loisaida squat. We have a bond of shared sympathy. The cage doors slide open at three a.m., and a rope of braided lab coats leads to a waiting van. 

     The herpetofauna are on their own, but tonight the mice run free.

The winning submission by Michael Seese was great, and I really liked the one by eclectophlia that won the "left me hungry for more" honorable mention.  Mine was mentioned in the "just creepy as hell-I'm a tad worried about you guys" category, which seems about right.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A day of pigskin and roses, or perhaps tobacco and rum

Happy New Year's day to all!

If you're an American, you may have spent the day watching the Tournament of Roses parade or catching a football game.

Other people might have gone in for a visit to Maximom, a Mayan-Catholic syncretism.

I'd love to hear anyone else's New Year's Day customs.

Here's some Wikipedia info on Maximon:

The origins of his cult are not very well understood by outsiders to the different Mayan religions, but Maximón is believed to be a form of the pre-Columbian Maya god Mam, blended with influences from Catholicism. Maximón may also be called San Simón. It has been suggested that the name Maximón is a combination of Simón and Max, the Mam word for tobacco. The legend has it that one day while the village men were off working in the fields, Maximón slept with all of their wives. When they returned, they became so enraged they cut off his arms and legs (this is why most effigies of Maximón are short, often without arms). Somehow he became a god following this, perhaps he was possessed by the god prior. Later, with the introduction of Christianity, Maximón's effigy replaced one of Judas Iscariot in Christian Holy Week carnival rituals. 

Where Maximón is venerated, he is represented by an effigy which resides in a different house each year, being moved in a procession during Holy Week. During the rest of the year, devotees visit Maximón in his chosen residence, where his shrine is usually attended by two people from the representing Cofradia who keep the shrine in order and pass offerings from visitors to the effigy. Worshippers offer money, spirits, and cigars or cigarettes to gain his favour in exchange for good health, good crops, and marriage counseling, amongst other favours. The effigy invariably has a lit cigarette or cigar in its mouth, and in some places, it will have a hole in its mouth to allow the attendants to give it spirits to drink.

Maximón is generally dressed in European 18th century style, although with many local variations. In Santiago Atitlán he is adorned with many colourful garlands, while in Zunil (where he is known as San Simón) he has a much more intimidating style, with his face obscured by dark sunglasses and a bandanna.

The worship of Maximón treats him not so much as a benevolent deity but rather as a bully whom one does not want to anger. He is also known to be a link between Xibalbá The Underworld and Bitol heart of heaven (Corazón del Cielo). His expensive tastes in alcohol and cigarettes indicate that he is a very human character, very different from the ascetic ideals of Christian sainthood. Devotees believe that prayers for revenge, or success at the expense of others, are likely to be granted by Maximón.