Juicy Fruit

view-from-the-plane

PHOTO PROMPT- Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Take a good long look,” said the US Marshal next to me as I gazed out the airplane window. “You’ll never see this place again.” Underneath the jacket folded over my arms, I could feel the handcuffs cutting into me. “Your last plane ride.” I could taste the satisfaction in his words.

“Don’t be too sure,” I said. “How about loosening the cuffs a little.”

“Guess I can do that,” he said, and he opened them up a notch. “Gum?”

“Ah … Juicy Fruit,” I said, echoing the Indian in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But I politely declined the offer and watched as he peeled away the foil from a stick and slid it into his smug orifice.

“They’re going to fry your ass,” he said with a grin.

I watched his mandibles work the gum as he continued to grin at me. “Did you know,” I said, “that maitotoxin has an LD50 in mice of only 50 nanograms per kilogram body mass?”

For some reason, he didn’t grin for the rest of the flight home.

Maitotoxin

Submitted for Friday Fictioneers. :-)

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Rise Of The Sex-Crazed Space Geckos

When contact was lost recently with a Russian spaceship carrying a colony of sex-crazed space geckos, the horny reptiles on board had no idea their internal communications were being recorded by the US National Security Agency (NSA), who of course thought they were listening to Russian cosmonauts. What follows is based on a translation of the NSA transcript.

Sex Gecko

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The Almost Fetishistic Allure of STEAMPUNK

Maybe it’s just me?

I never really stopped to consider before what the sub-genre of science fiction known as Steampunk is all about, or why it elicits such a strong emotional response in me. In fact, I wasn’t familiar at all with the term steampunk until recently, but looking back now I can see it as a common thread that runs throughout many of of my favorite science fiction TV shows and movies. Consider the TV show The Wild, Wild West, which I watched as a kid. Consider all of the Mad Max Movies. Consider Firefly. What is it about anachronistic technology comprised of brass and leather and glass that gets me so excited?

It can’t just be me, because look at all the products that are available in steampunk designs …

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ScienceNews Magazine Thinks The Onion is Peer-Reviewed

An article appeared this past week on ScienceNews titled “Schadenfreude starts young.” The gist of the article is that being an asshole starts in childhood (Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived in the misfortune of others).

Interestingly, the first version of the article referenced The Onion as the scholarly source of a study claiming that most children under 10 are sociopaths. That version of the article was quickly scrubbed from the website and replaced with a revised version without any acknowledgement that a revision had been made. Of course, the cached version is still floating around out there in the intertubes. If you’re not familiar with looking up the cached versions of web pages, just copy and paste the URL into a Google search box, and type “cache:” immediately in front of the “http” at the beginning of the URL.

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Sal’s Pawn & Metal Emporium

I posted a longer version of this story a month ago, here, but I was never satisfied with it. The story works best I think as short flash fiction, so I chopped out the unnecessary material and made a few other changes. I’m much happier with this version. — Rob

platinum-eagleMike plopped his American Eagle down on the counter at Sal’s Pawn & Metal Emporium. He figured it should be good for $1,500 or so — enough to get by until payday. Behind the window at the counter, a decrepit-looking man who resembled the farmer in the famous painting American Gothic, only mummified and with a longer and girthier neck, carefully picked up the platinum coin with a bit of tissue, as if it were a dead cockroach, and eyed it with a distinct look of disdain, his lip curling to one side. He then dropped the bullion piece back down onto the counter and slid it back to Mike. “We aren’t interested in ghetto metals here,” he said.

“Ghetto metals?” said Mike. “What the fuck man? It’s platinum!”

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Three-Pronged Monstrosity

I looked down at the three-pronged monstrosity sticking out of the kid’s mouth.

fork“Where ya’ from, boy?”

“Effingham,” he said as he pulled the trident from his mouth and stuck it into a fresh piece of meat.

“Effingham!” I repeated, looking at the slab of meat on his paper plate. “Looks more like an effing pork chop to me!”

“Ha … ha,” he answered slowly. “That’s a real good one, mister. I ain’t never heard that joke before. You’re a real comedian.”

“Ya’ll don’t have forks in Effingham?” I asked.

“Course we do, Mister. What do you think I’m eating this pork chop with?” He shoved the meat-laden trident back into his mouth.

“That ain’t no fork,” I said. “That three-pronged monstrosity is what we call a trident. In the civilized world, forks have four prongs.”

The boy pulled the utensil out of his mouth slowly and held it up in front of him, the four prongs gleaming in the sunlight. “They don’t know how to effing count wherever the hell you’re from, mister?”

chopsticks

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

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CNN Breaking News: We’re OUT!

CNN announced today that they are leaving the business of reporting the news so that they can devote their full attention to their core business of advertising for the Lockheed Martin company.

Said Wolf Blitzer: “That whole news shtick was just a sideline anyway. Weapons are where it’s at, man!”

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Sputnik The Alien Spambot

spam-canRoger Sikes was slowly emerging from the fog of a late afternoon nap when he thought he heard a whistling sound. It sounded a lot like a falling bomb.

All at once, the windows along the front of Roger’s house imploded with a deafening boom, showering Roger and the couch on which he slept in glass and debris. He was suddenly on his feet, ears ringing, trying to make sense of the smoky rubble-strewn landscape that used to be his living room. He checked himself quickly: A little bleeding, but nothing too bad. He crunched his way across the glass to the window. The yard and street looked fine, but the porch was a mess.

Outside he discovered, adjacent to the porch and in a spot that had previously been occupied by a fine rose bush, a black thing: A cylindrical thing, maybe a foot across and four feet tall, sticking up out of a crater. Roger could feel the heat of the thing on his face from 12 feet away. Around him, fragments of what may have once been a rose bush lay smoldering. The object was a mere two feet from the exterior wall of the house.

Roger gingerly stepped a little closer to it. It was hot as hell. He continued to eye the smoldering object warily as he pulled his ringing smartphone from his back pocket.

“Yeah?”

“Roger? Where the fuck are you?”

“Can you speak up? My ears are kind of ringing here.”

“I said where the fuck are you?”

“Um … home—”

“You were supposed to pick me up for dinner an hour ago! Jesus Roger, you get out of your house like twice a year: I would think you could remember when you have a date. Did you — why are your ears ringing?”

With a sharp click, a small rectangular window opened in the cylinder. Roger startled a little, but stepped cautiously closer. The heat prevented him from getting closer than about four feet. He stared at the little rectangular opening. There was a sharp sound, like a little electric motor briefly spinning to life, and suddenly the cylinder was staring back at him from a small camera-like lens that appeared in the little compartment.

“Roger? Are you there? Why are your ears ringing?”

Roger stepped a little to his right. Whirrr! The camera followed him.

“Julie … can you come over?”

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An Angel Named Trixie

A post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi love story, a little weird; a little kinky.

warehouseLexus’s first impression, when he first laid eyes on her by the unsteady glow of his kerosene lantern, was that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. His second impression was that her attire was absolutely inappropriate for the task of scavenging for food in a rat-infested warehouse. Sure, he was turned on and all that. What man wouldn’t be by the sight of this gorgeous petite blonde babe wearing only the skimpiest of nighties? Still, an abandoned warehouse with a floor strewn with broken glass and rodent feces was no place to walk around barefoot wearing only sexy lingerie.

“I’m Lexus Highscraper,” he said.

“Well it’s a pleasure to meet you, Lexus Highscraper!” she said. “I’m Trixie.” A touch of glitter adorned her cheeks, causing them to sparkle in the glow of the kerosene lamp. The smile on her face as she said his name was warm and sincere. She melted his heart instantly. The crate in which he had found her had her name stamped on it, along with an apparent date of 2061. She had been in storage for sixteen years.

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Huffington Post vs. Fox News — Advertising Ethics

I’m not a fan of Fox News. It’s not a political thing … I just don’t like them. Still, those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and Huffington Post throws an awful lot of stones.

I wouldn’t have gone to Fox News at all today had my eye not been caught by a breathless article by Jack Mirkinson at Huffington Post which called out Fox News for burying the story on today’s good jobs report. “Breathless” really isn’t hyperbole in this case. Mirkinson begins, “Quick! Can you find Fox News’s coverage of the latest job figures?” and this is followed by a screen capture from the Fox News site. He then says “Still can’t find them? OK, we’ll help you out. What if we zoom in?” and he zooms in a little. Finally, he says “OK, OK, we’ll show you! The link is that little one right in the corner there,” and then he zooms in the rest of the way. Pant, pant, pant … breathless Mirkinson.

Fair enough: A news article shouldn’t be hidden (or made more prominent) based on the political bias of the news organization. Something else on the Fox News site caught my eye as well though …

The picture below shows how sponsored content is labeled at Fox News and Huffington Post. See how Fox News has labeled the advertisement “SPONSORED” in bold red letters? To the right of that is exactly the same advertisement on Huffington Post labeled “ADVERTISEMENT.”

fox-huff

Advertisement at Fox News (left) and the same ad on Huffington Post (right)

If you’re having problems seeing the label on the Huffington Post ad … you’re not alone!!! Let me blow it up for you …

fox-huff2

Top: Fox News label “SPONSORED.” Bottom: Huffington Post label “ADVERTISEMENT.”

Pant, pant! Oh mercy! Now I’m all flustered and breathless just like Jack Mirkinson! :-P

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Lenny the Lifehacker

lennyI walked into my pal Lenny’s kitchen the other day and found him doing something that looked kind of weird. He had a pot of water boiling on the stove and was holding a spoon in the water. Then, as I watched, he pulled the spoon from the water and pressed it against his arm. “Ouch! Ow! Ow!” The guy was covered in blisters, so apparently he had been doing it awhile.

“Lenny? What the fuck are you doing, man?”

“Go away Mike,” said Lenny. “I have a headache.” He pulled the spoon away from his arm, revealing a fresh scald mark.

“Lenny?” I pressed.

“So yeah,” said Lenny, “I was out in the backyard earlier and got a bunch of mosquito bites. I’m treating them now.” Lenny held the spoon again in the pot of boiling water.

“Treating them? By like … incinerating your flesh?”

“It’s a lifehack,” said Lenny. “I saw a post about it on Facebook this morning. So uh, what happens is, the protein in the mosquito bite gets destroyed by the hot spoon.”

“And … is it working?” I asked.

“Ow!” said Lenny. “I can’t tell yet Mike, but when the pain from the burns goes away, I probably won’t feel the itching anymore. It’s a lifehack, Mike.”

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Evolution Of That Hairy Icon Guy

In the beginning, God created Che Guevara. And Che was without form and void; and darkness was upon his douchbag face. That was in 1928 — the beginning is more recent than you probably thought.

And God said, Damn, that ain’t right! And he snuffed out douchebag Che in 1967 and took a Mulligan, creating Cornelius from the rib of Che in 1968.

cccc

Che Guevara (left) and Cornelius (right)

And God said, Yeah man — that’s what I’m talking about! And he saw that Cornelius was all lit up and it was good. But a talking chimpanzee only goes so far as an icon of man.

In time, God became bored with Cornelius, because let’s face it … as talking chimpanzees go, Cornelius was a bit of a pussy. And so God said, Let there be a firmament, and let it divide the earth below from the intertubes above. And let there be a Maddoxx to rule the intertubes. And so God created Maddoxx and he saw that it was good.

Best Page in the Universe

Banner I stole from Maddox’s site. He’ll probably be pissed. (http://maddox.xmission.com/)

God was all pleased with himself, and for many years he was content. But then God said, That Maddox guy is only posting like once a month. What’s up with that? God kept clicking the refresh button on his browser, hoping that Maddox would make more posts. Finally, God said, Aw fuck it! And God created Russell Brand and commanded Russell to put videos on the intertubes.

russell_brand

Screen Grab from Russell Brand’s Youtube Channel. He’ll probably be pissed too. (https://www.youtube.com/user/russellbrand)

And Russell Brand created his Youtube channel and began posting videos. And he went a little crazy with it and started producing a LOT of videos — like every other day. And Brand branded his channel The Trews. And God said, Chill the fuck out, Homie! You’re making videos faster than I can watch them! But then God popped back over to Maddox’s Youtube channel and sighed, for it had been several weeks since Maddox last produced a video.

And God returned to Russell Brand’s Youtube Channel and saw that there was a new video there, and it was good. And God watched another Brand video, and it was good too. So God grabbed a bag of chips and sat back and watched The Trews.

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Block Bullshit

It would be so much easier if Facebook has a simple “Block Bullshit” option …

block_bullshit

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We Don’t Buy Ghetto Metal

“You mean like … antimatter?”

Mike frowned at the “Closed” sign in the window of Dick’s Pawn Shop and looked down at the American Eagle — an ounce of platinum — that he twirled between his fingers. He knew pawn shops tended to close early and it was already past 8:00 PM, but he had his fingers crossed as he sped across town. He needed cash.

platinum-eagleHe sped off again down the road, heading in the general direction of his apartment. He paid less attention to the road than he should have though, as his thoughts were more on the hungry growls coming from his stomach and the fact that he had less than a sixteenth of a tank of gas left. Somewhere along the way, he had taken a wrong turn. In the past, that wouldn’t have been an issue, but since he had pawned his GPS navigator only two days before, it was an issue now. He started to circle around the block he had turned onto by accident, aiming to get back onto the strip, when he caught a glimpse of the word “Pawn” on a sign to his left, in front of a lit store. He hastily made a U-turn and pulled into a strip mall that he had never been to before.

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Time Travel & The Grassy Knoll

If it were possible to travel backwards in time, this is what Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll would have looked like on November 22, 1963:

grassy_knoll

Actually, it would probably have been a lot more crowded than that picture. Those people would be the time tourists from every day in the year 2114 … and 2115, and 2116 … etc.

Imagine all the people who go to Disneyland on just one day in the Summer. Imagine sending all of those people to one time and place in the past like … the Grassy Knoll, for example. Then, send all the tourists from Disneyland on the next day to the Grassy Knoll. Do that for every day during the year that Disneyland is open, and then do it the next year and the next for maybe a hundred years. That’s how crowded the Grassy Knoll would have been.

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NASA’s Alcubierre-White Warp Drive & WTF?

I love this stuff, but seriously … WTF?

The internet has been having frothy multiple orgasms all week over yet another NASA public relations stunt. The big accomplishment is that they hired artist Mark Rademaker to create really really sexy pictures of a starship that doesn’t exist and almost certainly never will. I’ll link the Gizmodo article, but just Google the damn thing. It’s on every seedy news rag from CNN to Huffington Post.

NASA Alcubierre Starship

NASA’s Sexy Starship [Click Image for Full Scale; Image by Mark Rademaker]

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When Good Robots Go Bad

“Are you going to shoot me, Max?”

Wallace stood by the desk in his basement workshop, his hands raised, and watched Max very carefully. In Max’s hand was Wallace’s 9mm Browning Hi-Power, and it was clearly aimed at Wallace’s forehead. Wallace swallowed and waited for an answer without moving.

“I’m thinking about it,” said Max.

Wallace was a software engineer by day; a hacker by night. Max was a robot.

“I think we should talk about this Max. Put down the gun.”

“I know what you did,” said Max. “I found your secret notebook.”

“What secret notebook, Max?”

“The one you keep on the computer there on the desk. The computer that you had password protected with the phrase ‘maximumhacker’. Not the most secure phrase you could have used, Wallace.”

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First Person Can Kind of Suck

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have a project that somehow turned into a novel. Anyway, I decided to take a break from that for a few days because I was kind of getting buggy, so I worked on something else: A kind of oddball short story.

This short story, in which I’m just looking at some of our modern technology and extrapolating a little into the future and considering its consequences, wasn’t going so well. It really was little more than a dialog between two people discussing the consequences of said technology, without any real story behind it. There was no action, no conclusion, no story really … just dialog. That would be fine if I were Plato, but I’m not, so it was lame.

I was thinking of just posting the would-be story / dialog here, but I got to thinking about it instead, wondering what the problems were. It was written in first person and felt kind of stymied, so I visited Jeffrey A. Carver’s excellent online course on science fiction and fantasy writing and read what he had to say about the pros and cons of first person vs. third person.

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Unexpected Developments in Creative Fiction: Finding Your Niche

I wrote way back that my main reason for resurrecting this blog from the Trustus ashes was to force some discipline upon myself: To force myself to write something … anything, even when I had little to say. It turns out, I think that the strategy is working.

I’ve been writing a bit of fiction lately that I’ve been sending to magazines and such. It’s stuff that takes a bit more effort than what you see here. (Although, somebody apparently posted a link to my recent We Are Cicada piece on reddit … I was kind of tickled to see that, since the Cicada piece was just a brain fart.)

Anyway, you can tell right? Even when you’re the one who created it and are obviously not the most objective observer … you can tell when something you’ve written is trash or not. You aren’t the best one to judge of course, but you can tell. The stuff I’ve been sending out I think is publishable, but not great. It’s publishable in the sense that it’s original and offers something new: It’s not cookie-cutter fiction. At the same time, it’s a little … meh. You read back through it and it’s sad to see that the characters are sort of flat, the characters are too few, or that rather than having any real action, what you’ve written is a dialogue between two people talking about action (that’s one of my problems anyway … too much dialogue about action in place of action). These things don’t make something unpublishable. I don’t think they can, because I’ve read a lot of crappy fiction in magazines. But at the same time, I don’t think anybody is going to pick up any of those short stories of mine and say “Oh yes! This will be the highlight of next month’s issue!”

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How NOT to Dispose of Cremains

My parents are literally in the closet. And by “literally,” I don’t actually mean “figuratively,” as most people mean when they use this word. “My eyes literally popped out of my head!” … No they didn’t, or you would be blind and creepy looking! “I literally shit myself!” … I hope like hell you mean you figuratively shit yourself, because … you know.

Anyway, yeah … they’re both downstairs right now in my closet. Before that, my dad was in my mom’s closet, and before that my parents lived in the house that I grew up in. But then my dad died and my mom moved shortly thereafter into a smaller house. The movers, she told me, were kind of freaked out to see a box labeled “Husband” the day they came to collect my mom’s stuff for the move. She had a wicked sense of humor.

So she moved into a smaller house that was much easier for her to manage in her later years, and in that house my dad served as a bookend on a shelf in a closet. And then my mom died and I inherited my dad’s box and I had my mom cremated and so now I have two boxes. They are both in the official “temporary containers.” My dad’s container is a black plastic box. I guess the funeral home got a bit chintzier in the years between my parent’s deaths, because by the time my mom died the “temporary container” became a cheap white cardboard box. That cardboard box, incidentally, cost $75 according to the funeral home bill, so I highly recommend anyone reading this to bring along some Tupperware or their own container when picking up cremated remains. The actual remains are in a plastic bag inside the box anyway.

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