Friday, September 05, 2008

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition

So I entered this writing competition. First time for this particular competition, but not the first time I entered a writing competition with them. First time: won my heat, got honorable mention in finals. Second time: nothing.

This time, I'm it's Flash Fiction, meaning I have to write a story under 1,000 words. That's not the only bit. Entrants are given a genre, a place, an object to use in their stories, and 48 hours to compose and submit it.

My bit? Genre: historical fiction; Place: subway; Object: pencil.

First Round: 2nd place, 22/25 points in one of four rounds.

The next story guidelines drop at midnight tonight. Wish me good writing. Here's the story I took 2nd place with:


[descriptive intro]
In June of 1927, Jimmy McMurphy lost his job, along with hundreds of others, when the Cincinnati Subway project shut down forever. His closest friend, Henry Amato, shows up to deliver a message that will change his life even more than the closing of the tunnels.


Jimmy rubbed his pencil sideways on the concrete, more concerned about working it to a point than the mark he was leaving on the floor. Satisfied, he shifted on the stairs, and wrote on a defunct work order: Talk to Margaret.

Yep. That would have to be first.


The word cracked like a bullwhip through the bare bones of Liberty Station and the adjoining tunnels. But Jimmy had been on for years and was used to the noises in the tunnels. He looked towards the source and was not surprised to see Henry Amato emerge into the din of the remaining lights.

Jimmy looked back at his list. “Heya, Henry.”

“What’s eating you, McMurphy?” he asked “We all took off hours ago.”

“I don’t know. Thinkin’ things through, what to do next.” He looked up at Henry. “You got a ciggy?”

Henry pulled one out, handed it over, and flicked his Zippo.

“Don’t worry. They’re short on cash. They’ll get it together and we’ll be back up before you know it.”

Jimmy took a puff and looked up. “You really believe that?”

Henry shifted his gaze.

“Don’t be a sap,” said Jimmy. “It’s 1927. It’s hard everywhere. You don’t send hundreds of guys packin’ because you’re a little short on dough.” He rested his elbows on his knees. “Foreman said so: ‘Nobody’s coming back.’”

“Yeah,” said Henry, his mind elsewhere, and snapped back. “So what you thinkin’ of doing now?”

“I don’t know,” said Jimmy, grabbing a handkerchief to mop his sweating head. “I guess they’re still building in New York. Have an in here in Cinci packing pigs.”

“Yeah,” said Henry, and smacked Jimmy in the shoulder, laughing. “You in a slaughterhouse. Don’t razz me.”

Jimmy chuckled, picked up his pencil again, and wrote one word – Orient – as the second item on his list. He rolled the paper like a scroll between his hands and looked up at the dark ceiling. “You know anything about the Orient?”

“What, like Chinks and shit?”

“Yeah – I guess – but the Far East. Mystery. Unknown. Maybe danger?

“Been at this gig six years, Henry. Never had less than one job all my life. Now I’m dropped and it’s scary, exciting.” Jimmy’s eyes lit up. “We could start again. Anywhere. It doesn’t have to be Cincinnati.”

Henry stepped back from Jimmy and turned away.

“McMurphy, you really are a damn earful.”

“I just have to figure things out with Margaret.”

Henry’s shoulders slumped. “About that,” he said.

Immediate panic wrenched Jimmy from his glowing state and cranked his head towards Henry.

A sigh escaped Henry’s lips and for the first time in years, Jimmy noticed how empty an echo the tunnel produced.

He turned. “She’s gone, Jimmy. She – she sent me to tell you.”

Jimmy jumped, his hands fists, his breath short, his eyes burning. They’d had problems, but Gone? Why?

He took two steps towards Henry, pointed at him. “You’re lying,” was all he could choke out.

“No.” Henry stepped back.

“If you’re makin’ this up, I will plant one on your kisser so damn hard.”

“Jimmy. No.”

He could tell by the look on Henry’s face he was telling the truth. Jimmy moved back and slumped down on the steps, burying his head in his hands. “Where?”

“Her mom’s in Cleveland”

Jimmy looked up. “But how? I haven’t even been –”

“C’mon, McMurphy, you’ve been stewing in this hole almost four hours. All the guys are home. We live in the same neighborhood, for Chrissakes. You don’t think word would travel?”

“Has it been that long?”


Jimmy’s eyes shut of their own accord and in that darkness, he saw red, saw Margaret and her parents in Cleveland. Orange was his own home. Alone. Breathing and breathing all the way to New York. Blue. The mysterious Orient was somehow washed in a purple white.

He opened his eyes and started – Henry was right in front of him, stooped so their eyes met. One of the two overhead strings of lights went out. They both looked up.

“You okay?” Henry asked. “Thought you went off your nut there for a minute.”

“No, I’m –”

SMACK! came Henry’s hand. “Then snap out of it, McMurphy. Come over to my place. Anna’s been saving some gin. We’re going to get an edge. It’ll be like a regular juice joint. To hell with the world.”

Jimmy stared at Henry’s brilliant grin with both amusement and sorrow. “Then you’d better go,” he said.

The remaining light glowed around Henry’s head as he stood. “Don’t be a wet blanket.”

“Just go.”

“McMurphy, I—”

“Henry? Scram. And I mean that.”

The last string of lights flickered – but remained lit – in Liberty Station.
“I’d better go then.”

Jimmy smiled. “Yeah, you’d better.”

Henry walked back into the darkness from whence he came. “See you later?”


Henry’s head turned back over his shoulder to see the man on the stairs. “Hey, don’t take any wooden nickels, you harp.”

“You neither, ya wop.”

And he was gone.

The scrolled-up paper lolled back and forth on the concrete, pushed by whisps and whirls of what would never become a real ventilation system. Jimmy picked up that paper and rolled it open.

On the top: Talk to Margaret

Below: Orient

And underlying it all, the orders and plans that had given his life structure for the last six years and now meant even less than the marks scrawled over them.

On the top: Talk to Margaret. She would need time. He would need time. Jimmy picked up the pencil once again and scratched out the first item.

Below: Orient

“Yep,” he said aloud. “That would have to be first.”

He leaned over and drew, again, on the concrete, in no discernable pattern. Loops and whirls gave way to crossovers and blank patches as the graphite wore away and the wood of the pencil folded over on itself and allowed not one more thing to be written.

UPDATE: Are they trying to kill me?

GENRE - Romance
LOCATION - A mountain summit
OBJECT - Nail clippers

I'll have more later.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin Baby Daddy a...Baby, Daddy - Updated

I'm looking for Levi Johnston's MySpace page, but until I find the link, here's the excerpts:
On his MySpace page, Johnston boasts, "I'm a f - - -in' redneck" who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes.

"But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some s- - - and just f - - -in' chillin' I guess."

"Ya f - - - with me I'll kick [your] ass," he added.

He also claims to be "in a relationship," but states, "I don't want kids."

Plays hockey? Sarah Palin coaches hockey. For the creepy folks out there: Mom does daughter's boyfriend, fakes daughter's pregnancy, mom ends up with daughter and grandchild from same father! Yay speculation!


It's obviously gone through a little refining, but obviously not at the hands of the McCain campaign, and it can be found here:

New insights? Of course:
I wont be run out of myspace just because of some fuckin newspaper people working for obama. What my future mother-in-law is doing has nothing to do with me or Bristol, but I want everyone who reads this to know, every time they attack us for being human, they show why America needs leaders like Sarah Palin.

If you came to my page just to be political, you are wasting your time. But if you came and want to throw a shout out for support, bring it on!

And setting the profile to private is apparently beyond his computer skills.
My girl is my life, for real. Bristol is what I live for, and now as everyone knows, I will be a father soon. Yea, I am young, but I still know what love and commitment mean, and love evry minute of my life.

Levi Johnston
Go Warriors! Yay hockee!

The New Folks - For Me

I'd be remiss if I didn't formally welcome Texas Oasis and all the way from oy to vey to my Linktastica!

Welcome! I look forward to being reminded to read your blogs, reading your blogs, and wondering why I don't visit more frequently.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

McCain's Chelsea Joke

McCain OMG emo

McCain reportedly told a "joke" about Chelsea Clinton in 1998, saying: "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."

So, who's saying "Yeah, we'd like more of this!"?

Oh, the Republicans.

Add it to the "cunt" comment. Square it by Palin. And see how many disgruntled Hillary-supporting women this posturing septuagenarian will gather.


Ramble: Grandpa, Hospice, Cleveland, Waiting

Peter, 2008

That was the last really good picture anyone was able to take of my grandfather.

Grandpa was brought to America as an infant aboard the Lusitania's sister ship, the Mauritania, so his father didn't have to give him or his older brothers up to mandatory military service in Europe. He subsequently volunteered for WWII and ended up flying with and repairing PBYs in lieu of a dream of war photography (he was promoted on his first day in the field because he could type).

Grandma and Grandpa (right couple), 1945

After the war, he became a Cleveland firefighter, then fire inspector, raised a family of three kids who brought him 10 grandchildren, half a dozen great-grandchildren to date.

Grandma passed away in '96, but he lived strong, independently, taking up woodcarving and pursuing his love of photography in a world that was turning dauntingly digital in front of his eyes.

A few months ago, circulation issues suddenly decided to reveal themselves, and his leg was amputated below the knee. Then above the knee. Then his "good" foot didn't look good, but he was getting around. And diagnosed congestive heart failure kicked in. That's what sent him to hospice.

And now we wait. For anyone who has not been in a hospice situation with a loved one: that's what you do. Hospice is there to make dying as comfortable as possible. I'm glad to report that he is comfortable.

Doctors have told us everything from "it could be hours" to "he's doing well" and back again. For those not initiated, that is also normal.

I was very lucky on the two trips I took to see him lucid for much of the visit; other family reported hours of sleeping, raspy breathing, and terrifying apnea. It was foggy, iffy, and it could be funny ("Have the children been gathered and locked in the basement?" WTF?), but it could also be deep, meaningful ("See, we belong here, but we also belong to the infinite. Sometimes you just don't know where you should be.").

Methadone will do that to you. But the worst thing is to dismiss it as I heard so many times: "He's on medication." Yes, he is. But he's trying to talk through that filter right now. I've taken 15 bong rips and been in a similar state, grasping for words, cognizant of the mistakes I was making, employing self-deprecation and reminding folks I'm fucked up.

My grandfather is the most principled, relaxed, wise, and truly Christian man I know. He is the closest thing I've ever met to what is said about Jesus.

About 8 years ago, I spent many an evening for hours at a time with a Digital Audio Tape Recorder, Grandpa, and some coffee. I gathered his story from when he came over, and his life and times and stories and wisdom. I edited the audio, burned it to CD, transcribed it, added pictures, and bound copies for my entire family. None of that NPR 3 minute BS, this was 3 hours of awesome, of geopolitical European history, of Ellis Island immigration and quarantine, of taking railroad coal and your own piece of America, of defending America and raising an amazing family. And of solicited wisdom. Full-on, audio-lovin', war and wisdom.

Back to reality: My father had some great conversations with him, some candid ones too: he understands he's going; he wants to go; and superhero/super-American/super-Christian doesn't find himself worthy. Which, of course, proves his worthiness. He literally told my father he didn't know how to let go, should he be taken.

So we pray, send thoughts, try to help him beyond the veil.

So I've rambled enough and if you've read this far, thank you. We wait because it could be hours, it could be days. We don't know, so we wait.

And I'll leave you with the words of a very wise man I never would have guessed had it in him: "Only his spirit knows when it's time. And when it happens - it'll be perfect."

I've volunteered: I just hope I can make it through a eulogy.


Now let's get back to diggin' up Palin trash!

Palin Loves on Bridge to Nowhere

Great job to The Real News on this research:

The Palin Question(s)/Comments

Okay, so there are many questions about the beauty queen, anti-feminist, pro-lobbyist, newly-minted veep candidate. I've been preoccupied all weekend (more later), but in my couple hours of catch-up, I've got a question. Or two. Or a comment. Or something.

For as much as parental responsibility and "control of your kids" is touted by the right wing, the radio freakies are treating Bristol's pregnancy as though it makes her more "common folk" where if it were a Democrat's daughter it would be "they can't control their kids; how will they control a country?" The real question is: did Sarah Palin, like a good conservative Christian and denier of reality, preach the failing Bush gospel of abstinence-only, which resulted in a first hand account of exactly how well it works?

And "common folk?" I'm guessing Gov. Palin will probably hire a nanny for her kid's kid, and Bristol will continue on to a high-end college and promising career, whereas single mothers all over America every day are not so lucky.

Comment: If Sarah Palin can use the fact that she chose to have a Down's Syndrome child (why was there even a test done?) to establish her anti-choice, conservative cred, then her minor child's out-of-wedlock pregnancy is fair game as an example to take it away.

(sidenote: The story of Palin covering up for her daughter's [potentially "first"] pregnancy is an intriguing read. Coming out with Bristol's pregnancy to refute rumors when it does no such thing smells of my daughter's ability to readjust the story to let out just a bit more truth. And now comes the pause where she waits to see if we like to drink hogwash.)

{Alternet's Top Ten Most Disturbing Facts and Impressions of Sarah Palin

Last thing, for real but not really for real: Isn't a meteoric rise from obscurity one of the signs of the Antichrist? Is there anything directly that says it has to be a He?