On Thanksgiving (Alternative titles: Grouchy and Stuffed, We Are The Turkey, How to Violate a Turkey, Beware the Bad Puns and the Food Baby)

I realized I was trying to be nice, but not nice. That’s what the holidays are like around here. I offended all when I cancelled the party. But to me, it seemed like the proverbial cart before the horse scenario. Didn’t you have to have the family first, and then the holiday? Wasn’t there something wrong, that it took all that effort to corral everybody. And what about the people you missed? Maybe I was with them. Maybe I was a missed person.

Here’s the key to the Turkey, violate it. Make it the thing that it’s not. It gobbles (fuck yeah) up all flavor, a willing dry, white drawing board of the proteins. I filled it with a spiraled and squeezed lemon (zested as well), apples, celery, carrots, onions, rubbed it with chunky lard, spices, poured a beer on it, one in me for the effort. Kept a gravy pot going the whole day with its neck, heart, liver slowly boiling, would pour the juices from the roasting pan in all day, letting it cool a bit, and then starting it again. Then baste the whole thing with this concoction. Poured a fresh pan of beacon grease on it, added that subsequently to the looping gravy pot.

I was sick by midday, soured mood.  Felt tricked and weak, gluttony had snuck in the back door. It’s the rolls that get you. Sliced into acceptable portions they easily mislead. Beware the rolls. Tortilla roll-ups, creams cheese, sour cream, black olives, green onions, jalapenos, shredded Colby-Jack. Began the feast the night before, the chef’s delight; you must try the food to make sure it is good. Company was spare, burned bridges make it hard for people to get to you. Those that arrived were agreeable, admittedly reserved. Felt Step-Dad Joe was brought as back up for two younger sisters. Maybe not. He was welcoming and kind, offered me more bacon. Gave me a dignified hand shake, pat on the back as he left. It felt okay.

Sigh. I can feel it sitting there in my gut, like the stuffing sat in the bird. We are the bird. We are stuffed in sweaters, sweetened, marinated propped up to one another as sign of our continued thanks, our self. I’m not buying it. Feel like I’m carrying old, dusty sumer-camp props, and its sort of embarrassing everyone, embarrassing me. And I try to change it, but that only means I’m the one holding the hot potato (it just comes naturally). Key to mashed-potatoes is to forget the boil. Steam them in hole chunks, get some melted, real butter, in your mixing bowl, add sour cream and chive chip dip, salt/pepper, use a fork or knife and you can just broad chop/mash the spuds with the butter and dip, garnish with roasted garlic and herbs, and slow roast for a second time.

Food coma, four to five. It was a beautiful day though. Sunny, clear skies, forties. I managed to carry my bowl movement around the large yard a couple times. Zombie like, watched a 6 month old Daphne punk our 12 weeks old Cash. Wanted to stop it, better to work the two young beasts properly, but the food baby wouldn’t allow that. The year was at peak gestation. I had to sit in it and let the chips fall (purposeful and terrible double puns there) where they may. All you could do was suffer under it. I apologized repeatedly for my lack of social skills, energy, overeating, like I was injured or elderly.

After the swim in the darkness, things got back on course. Bowel movement, shower, some crying, yelling at my wife for her culinary arts, a Dr. Phil session, a walk under a brilliant full moon (it was like the moon was its own street light, painting everything with its white-ish blue) and I was basically back to normal. Going to do push-ups the rest of the night. NO FOOD WILL TOUCH MY LIPS UNTIL TOMORROW, AFTER 10ish, WHERE I WILL LIKELY OVER-EAT AGAIN…Leftovers come on! I’m going full ninja-mood on Monday, full ketosis diet, no carbs for month, my wife gets to knee me two times in the crotch a day, and I have to shove Jerusalem Artichokes up my glory hole or something , so don’t be judgemental And think what it could do for the writing!

These holiday are fucked, reconsider. Alternative suggestion, be thankful everyday.

 

 

Snippets 80

Neil Gaiman-Trigger Warning-From Short Story “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”

I learned your books. Burned them into my mind. In case the firemen come to town.

But who you are is gone. I wait for it to return to me. Just as I waited for my dictionary or for my radio, or for my boots, and with as meager a result.

All I have left is the space in my mind where you used to be.

And I am not so certain about even that. (139)

Morning Musings

Saw a bus advertisement yesterday said, “Blankety Blank Investment Firm: Not Run by Robots”, and had a picture of a cartoonish, 50’s robot on it. I pinched myself. Was this real life? Had I crossed over into a 1980s Sci-Fi movie? I’m well aware that stocks and all that sort of thing are largely, mostly, ran by computers, with artificial intelligence. So I also couldn’t help but ask, would I really want to go with the people on something like that? I mean the machines had to have the edge. Right?

Summer, popped up from the grave, grabbed our collective wrists yesterday. It was over 80 degrees out. People sported shorts, grabbed another tank of propane. We have had half a dozen viewing of our house in its first month. A little slow, but we also just got it listed as FHA available so I think that should pick things up. Also got an open house tomorrow. The house has never looked so clean. So yesterday evening the whole gang went up to the park. Me in truck with Dante and Cujo. Mom driving the three boys in the Honda.

The park is idyllic. My gang and the other kids at the park incorporate effortlessly under the warm night sky. I do laps with Cujo at the park. Coen, two years old, walks next to me giggling the whole time. He loves dogs. Loves seeing the dog at the park. The park is next to a the community center. While walking, I notice someone getting out of the car with a giant Amish hat. Sort of like a pilgrim hat, but wider brim, dome on top. I love it. The anachronism, the symbol. The other-worldliness of beliefs like that. I like to imagine that person staring at a purple haired punked teenager with a can of Four Loko. Lock them in a giant garage together, feed her hospital grade amphetamines and give him endless woodworking projects. See who changes who, you know?

Driving later, windows down, fresh air mixing with hot dog slobber, and Sam Bush on the radio. I see a lady, wearing the same hat. I get a nice long look at the stout and dignified optics. The hat fills the car, it fills everything, a blackness. Her tight white mug rolls under it, squished down until she’s nothing but a mouth, dense, bone, uncracking, never hitting a Coca-Cola in her life. She’s tougher then me, could probably take me. Knows more about living and life, then I could ever know. But there’s that blackness filling the car. I heard somewhere those hats symbolize the planet Saturn. That with many the Judeo-Christian and other religious sects, it’s all one big ode to Saturn. The little black boxes on the center of the foreheads. The Kaaba itself. The Kaaba is wild. So are the hats.

8:02AM I go upstairs, look out our freshly cleaned window. Do you know how big a difference a freshly cleaned window makes? Winters coming so it was dark well into seven o clock in the morning. I look out and everything has a pink Polaroid feeling. We eat our breakfast together. At one point, Coen, does one of his new bits were he takes juice in his mouth, parades it around, building dramatic tension, and then spits it on the ground. We are working on cultivating positivism, so Mom tries to manage the situation calmly. Ultimately, she’s forced to put the cup in the fridge. Then, and note the cosmic nudge of fuckery, she knocks last night’s chocolate-milk cup out, spilling. The forces work for the children. She grunts, shakes a fist. I call to her through the deep. Don’t do it. Turn back. Stress. Remember what we said.

She sits down on the table. The fuzz clears. We start to breathe. Coen smiles. Equilibrium achieved. He continues, ornery, until we find a bit we can all get into. Enter the Man-Eating Table. More like Toddler eating table. It begins as Coen stars to slide under the table, from the big chair. I start to feign terror. “On no! The table is eating Coen! Somebody helps him!” He take the cue, continues to slide under. Britney joins in tries to save him. Chay runs around the table tries to help, but it doesn’t work. Then the next thing you know the table eats him too. Thing have reached a critical mass. We’ve been halved. Mom goes next. Kein rushes to save her, but fails. We stare at each other over the warn eatery expanse. I feel one of its tentacles grab my ankle. “On no, my boy,” I yell to him. “It’s got me too! Save your self!”

Five of us pack in under there, like Jonah in the belly of leviathan. It feels like that, dark, warm, damp. Everyone sort of scared, but happy too. We realize the only solution is for Kein to slap the belly of the whale. To for it to throw us up. Keep it simple. We spill out. Saved in the nick of time. 8:30AM

Morning View

6:00AM It all streams together, days, weeks, and I imagine soon years. 6AM Coen, almost 2, a monkey in the bed. He pats us both, “nice, nice, nice.” Then he tries to scare me with a boo, but he hasn’t quite mastered the technique to it. I give him the zombie moan and he dives into bed next to Mom, then sits up waits to hear it again, I oblige, he dives back down. We snuggle, smooch, try to steal a little more rest from the bed. The sheets were all clean last night, and the bed was quickly made up, so no little feet could track dirt or crumbs into it during their movie night.

Got in over a a thousand words on work on progress tentatively titled WK. Before that yesterday, same 6AM, I was able to edit the last several pages of Draft 2 of Kill The Television. Draft 2 saw plenty of chopping and rearranging. I have this thing, over-attachment issues I guess you’d call them. It makes me do things the hardest way possible. Like in High School, I almost didn’t graduate, it was half way through senior year I was behind two or three whole courses. My Mom had married this douchebag and moved us forty-five minutes away from my school. A newly received drivers license brought that extra boost of freedom, so senior year was spent in a abominable haze.

One day I was sleeping it off in the basement in Winterset. The door opened and down the steps came real Dad. I don’t remember what he said. It was something about school and how there was a possibility I wouldn’t graduate. I remember I cried. Still like a kid I tried to mount some muddled defense. I’m sure I didn’t communicate the why very well, and oddly enough I realized as my tears dried, and my heart slowed down, he was embarrassed too, by making me cry, everything. A double frustration being misunderstood and embarrassed. Point of the wander is I ended up taking several community college courses, along with a full load through regular high school. During lunch I would have to go in do all these assignments and readings at once. And since I felt like I was being challenged, that the tempo was finally turned up, I tore through the material. I remember the counselor, how she felt like a breath of fresh air, looked and talked to me like a human being. Smiling, teasing me that I was too smart to be in this position.

I think I’m doing the same thing with my writing. I feel very little impetus, outside perhaps this blog, and a few of the other things that have come up, to actually distribute what I am working on. I’m becoming a hoarder of words and novels. I have hard time objectively evaluating whether or not they are any good, a feeling which grows as they reach a stage of completion. I feel like I’m achieving some balance in the editing and writing question, but the retail end still doesn’t seem clear or obvious. It sounds corny, but its true, I don’t work well with others. I started with a writing group, attended a meeting. Was invited back to submit my work, did, read and prepared comments for all the other members, but then when the day the second meeting came, I cancelled like a dickhead. I don’t even know why. I liked all the other authors. They were friendly and entertaining. I liked the meetings too, enjoyed myself, enjoyed reading their stories. That Wednesday I was tired from the routine, and noise, and other things, and I just bailed out. I sent an email apologizing, mea culpa. The response was beyond understanding, so not a huge deal, but I’m just noting the self-sabotaging aspect of my personality.

Writing is my goal and dream and I think I shouldn’t be waiting for the real Dad to come stomping down the stairs telling me to get my shit together. That’s my point. You got to be great for yourself, in whatever way fits you. That’s the lesson. Be a hard case if you got to be, just don’t lie about it, to yourself or others. 7:36AM

9:52AM Breakfast sausage, eggs, hot coffee, doughnut bites Britney made last night. Me and the gang wrestle. My kids learn to take bumps at twelve months. They play there part well. I’ll be Apocalypto or whoever, get one, rassle him down. Then bro comes flying in with an elbow drop, freeing the other guy. They battle in combo. I teach them the art of fake wrestling, just real enough to make it work, but not real enough to hurt. They do pretty good at it, most the time. Eventually someone will get hurt, a missed grabbed, twisted up in some legs. We stop the show, dust off, and usually go back to it. Mom likes it but doesn’t quite get it. I snatched her exposed leg at one point, go zombie. It inflames the pirate gang. The kick, and smack trying to save Mommy from the Zombie Daddy, to no avail…

Reading: Robert Galbraith Career of Evil

This great song….

Led me to this great song…

Morning Stream

Middle of the night Kein, 4 yrs old, made a run for Mom and Dad’s bed, because it was “so comfortable” The several attempts included a potty break and snuggles from Mom. He does the stiff hand on the bed karate chop, his face coming through the shadows, “I just want to sleep in your bed.” Cute, infuriating. Parenthood.

Woke up to this article, from New York Post titled “Cops arrest knife-wielding clown who chased teen on subway.” I suggest you read it. Take a good look at the picture of the guy. Think about It for a second. Seems to be three options, all of which make me uncomfortable. First one, the money motive. Someone is paying these people to do these pranks, which are actually crimes. The second the perpetrators themselves get off on the act of scaring other people, and the attention, maybe like veteran-clowns down on their luck (the guy was 53).  A version of number two, these people are attentions seeking individuals and really, really, stupid. Or lastly these may just be demon infested, killers clowns from outer space. The second seems the most likely  one and scariest of all. The perpetrators are just like fractured, arrested-development weirdos who don’t get that they’re endangering themselves and others.

There was something about how well that guy was put together that makes me think it’s not number two though. I know crazy people can dress snappy, but its the subtlety of the outfit that gets me. Perfect clown get-up, but blended with the large coat into a grey-man everyday look. Allowing him to get to his stage, before his mission was blown. It’s not over the top. It seems attention seeking, thrill seekers, would want to go for a little more flair in the act.

Couple kids put a school on lock down in my city a couple weeks back dressing up as clowns. My six year old came home talking about the clowns which were scaring everybody. The neighbor kids had been hyping them up. I wanted to write this Literary Theory type of Essay, in the draft I started I titled it The Thin-Line Between Fact & Fiction”. The basic premise was because of how much artificial entertainment the average person ingested in a day through TV and computers, that they now spent more time in that artificial environment then the real, natural world. But further, that if we could sort of transport ourselves over there, what was to say those things couldn’t, and didn’t push back. Stephen King who has made several of these meta-moves in his own work is an interesting way to look at this. The merger of literature and film itself seems to be one of these processes of manifesting the imagination, and he definitely played a role there as well.

The point of all of it was to suggest maybe we need to sober up, dry out. Give our legs a stretch. Get out of the frontal lobe. Dive down into our bones, our heels. That we were losing something, merging with something else. Something that would dehumanize us. The clowns are scary. I also saw this video the other day, about this even more real knife attack in a New York subway. Someone had videoed it on their phone. The men wrestle and then one of them beings stabbing. People clear out, except for the random straggler who tries to scoot passed the scene. The guy who is stabbing has an accomplice, who tells the people who half try to intervene to “keep moving”.

Well, that’s all before the coffee. Take away point, watch your back! Think about things. I think they call it “situational awareness”. See subtle signs of clown gear, make sure you smile at the guy , and look him in the eye. Make sure he’s one of the good ones. And like the guy in other video said, “keep moving”, everything is okay. Not really. That came off a little menacing. I apologize.

Sumer, Chapter Two

 

Image

 

Echo. Seven.  They’re running their morning laps. Helen and her like to run towards the back of the pack. The boys always rush to the front and try to lap them. It’s not until they get close that the two girls will really start trying. The boys haven’t lapped them yet. 

Frank and Paul were halfway to their goal today. They were in rooms two and three. 

Paul she didn’t care for at all. He hadn’t said more then ten words to her in two years. He was serious about his studies. Every day at the end of class he would run back to his room and not be seen again until dinner. 

Echo liked this morning run too. It was better than everything that would come next. All the information. All the drilling. It was lessons for four or five hours and then it was practical mechanics, learning about the ship and traveling. It was all very intense, she didn’t know what she would do without Helen. Today Helen was turned all the way up. 

“The electrons in non polar covalent bonds are…” 

“Shared equally,” Echo answered, gasping. 

“Great, and what is the charge on the ions formed by the alkaline earth metals?”

“+1” 

“No, +2. That was an easy one Echo. All alkaline metals are in group 2a of the periodic table, meaning they have two electrons. This is what I am telling you, it all goes back to the periodic tables. You’re reviewing the material every night before bed right?”

“Of course,” she answered, dying. She wasn’t. 

She hadn’t been for a while. She was worn out. She didn’t want to disappoint her friends or anyone else, but this all seemed so boring to her. 

She wanted to go to New Plymouth, or Washington, Jerusalem, or Shanghai, any of Earth’s mega cities would be fine. 

“You better be Echo,” Helen said. “The Nanny has a big announcement today.”

“What’s that?” 

“I can’t tell you really, but you are going to love it! It is so exciting. Oh jeez we better hurry up.”

The two boys were gaining on them. Frank had a wild sloppy grin on his face. It made Echo want to burst out with laughter. Paul, on the other hand, looked mean and determined.  

A small tone pulsed through the large room, indicating the group was now on their final lap.

A large ding indicated each person’s completion of the morning run. 

Bent over, Frank and Paul congratulated themselves on being first. Paul had won this time, beating Frank by just a second. His winning picture flashed on a their large window, which would also display images during the lessons. 

Things had changed between the Nanny and Echo. The relationship had never been that warm, but for those few years she had been all Echo had known. She had grown attached to the weird, dominating woman. She had made a “mother” out of her, but two years of lesson and training had eliminated that. Her Nanny was a vast source of information and power, and most of the time she had very little patience for Echo, especially when she was making mistakes, which was often. 

They were all seated around the table, same as their first meeting. 

“Well done Paul. This is your first win in the morning race,” the Nanny said. “It was the slowest win of the week of course, but still a win is a win, so congratulations.” 

The group applauded him for a moment and the Nanny continued. 

“Today is a very special day Echo in your training. For the last two years we have been gathering information. Gathering data is a very important component of making good decisions, but it is not the only skill a person needs to survive. 

“We must also be able to apply our knowledge, and that is what I am going to introduce you to today. For millennia our forebears back on Earth used to engage in games of strength and intellect.” 

A scene exploded on the projection above them all. It was of the Roman Coliseum. Gladiators were displayed in combat with great lions and tigers, and each other. 

“These games were often savage,” the nanny continued. “They were also primitively heroic too. Ironically, in their brutality they became a civilizing tool for the government. A focal point for the innate rage of the beasts, these contests allowed many men to sublimate their own carnal urges to the game and thus the space for peace and civilization was established.

“These great games of contest morphed and changed.” The Roman scene gave way to scenes from different Olympics through history, and then it showed modern sports, soccer and football, basketball and baseball. Then it rested on a chess board. 

There were two days of chess at the end of every week. They were all quite proficient players. No one could ever beat the nanny. “Chess is another example of this ancient, primeval need for battle and competition. With all this in mind Echo, I come to tell you about the next step in your training. We will call this portion of your training, A.C.T., or academic challenge training.””

Echo didn’t like the sound of this for some reason. 

“In the A.C.T. portion of your training you will be pitted against any one of your ten classmates in a series of challenges which will both engage you mentally and physically. These challenges can ran range from trivia contests to more elaborate trials like construction of complex machines or dangerous combat gauntlets.”

“Combat gauntlets?” Echo asked, horrified by the idea. 

The projection flashed a scene of two teenagers circling each other in a ring. They had strong lean limbs. They moved quickly, keeping their hands covering their faces. In a flash one of them swung out with a kick, catching his opponent perfectly on the chin. The opponent crumpled to the ground. 

“Worry not Echo,” the Nanny instructed. “Combat challenges will not become a part of you A.C.T training for three years, until that time all challenges will be non-combat, I refer to the Section 233S of the ACT handbook for more elaboration, but most importantly pay attention Echo; do not think yourself free from challenge before then. Remember as Captain of this ship you must set the example for your subordinates. You must be a leader.

“We will not throw you to the wolves without proper training. You will have access to whatever information you find necessary in your studies. You also may get help from any member of the team that offers it. Minus of course those competitive souls who may be among the crew and any cohorts they can bring to their cause.

“This is an important point Echo. You must understand. In the A.C.T. challenge the normal procedures of this mission will be abandoned. Your subordinates may work against you in the process.” 

“I’ll never do that,” Helen said, grabbing her hand.

“This brings us to our next important point,” the Nanny said. “Your first contest. The first challenge in your A.C.T section is a trivia challenge, first person to answer a hundred questions right wins, and your first challenger will be Paul Finis!” There was applause from everyone in the room, except from Paul and Echo. Even Helen clapped wrapped up in the excitement. 

“All right everyone,” the Nanny said, “let’s quiet down now and return to our lessons. Echo if you have any questions on the A.C.T. system I direct you to the B.R.A.I.N as usual, where you can search a digital copy of the A.C.T. handbook as well.” 

The broad ranging aggregate of information networks, or B.R.A.I.N, was the computer system which ran everything in the ship. It was essential to Echo when it came to doing the Nanny’s complicated homework assignments. It also had become a bit of a problem as of late. 

It had began in researching lyrics from the songs she had heard as a kid. This lead down a delightful rabbit hole of distractions. The Nanny was not at all pleased by these developments. She had threatened to limit what Echo had access to if her efforts began to slip. “Remember Echo,” she warned, “we know everything you search. There are records.”

The strangeness of her situation constantly swirled around her. Filtered information. Unreal digital bites. A massive history which she only was getting glimpses of. 

She couldn’t concentrate on the lesson the rest of the day. It was algebra. Echo hated all the math subjects. It was all so dry and concrete. Helen was great at math, and she took extensive notes all class. They would have to go over it later.

When she was bored in moments like this, when the Nanny was dragging on with the lesson, she liked to imagine Earth in her mind. She would draw the whole thing in there, filling in and identifying the major features. They had learned all the continents and oceans last year. She would think about where she would want her home to be. She would think about her dream Mom being there, tucking her in each night and reading her stories. 

“Echo,” the Nanny called, interrupting the daydream. “I can sense you’re not with us today. Are you consumed by the news of the ACT challenge or has my algebra lesson bored you?”

“No Nanny,” she answered, “I will try harder. Sorry.”

“No Echo,” the Nanny said. Her large square faced was framed with hard edges. Her hair hang in its rigid plastic way. “I must insist. You are obviously bored, should we switch the subject matter? To something more of your interest?”

“Like what?” Echo asked. Instantly regretting it. 

“Oh Echo, that is just hilarious. Your preference right? This is all for you. Let’s see you like music. Let’s talk about music? You enjoy rock music right?”

Her head dropped in shame. “Yes, nanny, but it’s fine I’d prefer to continue with the algebra lesson.”

“Don’t be difficult now Echo. I could use a little break myself. Let’s take a look at some of the legends of the Rock and Roll shall we class? Let’s start with one of Echo’s early favorites. Robert Johnson.

“Born on the 8th of May 1911 in Mississippi. His family had been run off their land by an angry white mob. Cursed land we might note at this point. American colonists tragically had built their new cities on the remains of the ancient ancestors of the place, perhaps this explains the macabre history of it all.

“He landed in Arkansas, attended school and was studious. He played a Jew’s harp at this early age. This and his harmonica playing got noted by musicians Son House and Willie Brown, but what was also noted was his horrible guitar playing. 

“One of these musicians, Ike Zinnerman, was rumored to go to cemeteries in the dead of the night to learn his instrument. It is rumored that perhaps Johnson had done a similar thing, because one day he arrives in Robinsonville a thrilling guitar strummer. BRAIN, play Robert Johnson.”

The moody notes of the guitar filled the classroom. The Nanny continued speaking over it. “Consider this class, people like Robert Johnson invented an art form. A new art form which captured the minds of the whole world in the century to come. An art form, which would create vast amounts of wealth, which horrifically would be hijacked by the same principalities which had enslaved Mr. Johnson ancestors a century before.

“What’s worse, class, is that despite having done this miraculous thing. Mr. Johnson would not even be able to enjoy the fruits of his labors. More proof of some strange curse, he would be dead at 27. The theories are varied on how this happened, but horrifically the story does not stop here.”

“Please Nanny,” Echo interrupted.

“This started the curse of the 27. Some of the most talented musicians and artists of all time. All ripped from this earth in their 27 year. All dead under suspicious circumstances. Jesse Belvin of hits “Earth Angel” and “Goodnight My Love”, Brian Jones co-founder of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Pigpen McKernan, Killer Miller, D. Boon, Mia Zapata, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and the list goes on and on.

“Now what can we conclude from all this? We should see the cost of greatness. We should see the mortal peril of explosive imaginations. What if there is a more mundane answer? Can someone tell me what the word mundane means?”

Margaret’s hand was the first one up. “Mundane refers to the world.”

“That right Margaret,” the Nanny said. “Very good. The more reasonable answer, the one science came to prove definitively in the twenty-first century was that creativity and mental illness went hand in hand. This changed the framework of our entertainment. No longer could we all just sit by and watch insane people destroy themselves. 

“Unfortunately, we must acknowledge too that the quality of the art took a hit at first. It was centuries until a relative stability could be established that the great experiment of artistic creation could begin to be expressed again.

“Post humanity, and under controlled training and supervision, we have just begun to establish a musical culture, and it’s future looks promising. I encourage you all to look into the work of the New Plymouth orchestra, maybe you can listen to it as you work tonight? 

“Okay? I want you all to take the rest of the day and write a three thousand word essay reflecting on some of the things we just discussed. I’ll also have a series of algebra problem for you to finish too. I believe that will be all today.”

There were no groans or moans. Echo wanted to groan. There was so much work. It never seemed to end. That’s all they did was learn, study, and assignments. Echo burned with anger at the nanny. She had mocked her in front of the crew with the curse of the 27 business. It was insulting.  

The torture with Helen that night was worse than usual. She bickered at Echo the whole time working on their essays. Helen was a stickler for details. Sometimes Echo couldn’t tell if her friend cared more about her, or making the nanny happy. 

They started researching the trivia portion of the A.C.T. competition. 

Echo didn’t like what she was discovering. It sounded tough. They would exchange question until a person reached one hundred points. Each correct question was worth one point. Simple, but there was one hang up, the steals. There was a large red buzzer in front of each competitor, which the person could press if they knew the answer before the other person, if they got it right, not only did they gain the point, but a point was also subtracted from their opponents score, setting them up for a frustrating loop. 

Helen had shown her a video of a kid named, Beta at his first A.C.T. challenge. He had broken down crying on his tenth attempt at number 1. His opponent had been ruthless, smashing the buzzer each time with a gleeful wale. His opponent never let up beating him in the end 100-0, by the end the little brown haired Beta was lying on the ground crying. 

“We won’t let that happen to you,” Helen assured her. 

It didn’t help that Frank and Paul were doing their nightly sprints up and down the hall, why the girls watched all this. Neither of the boys had said a word to her. She was assuming this was a bad sign. 

She knew Margaret would be against her. She had made that clear after class. “Good luck, you’ll need it,” she taunted. 

This meant the Lana girls were probably against her too. 

This was all fine with Echo. She didn’t want all the attention. Helen was bad enough. She made an excuse of a head ache and went to bed early. Helen had conceded, only after she promised to watch some videos Helen was sending her, and to meet her before classes the next day to work on their plan for the challenge. Echo had agreed out of exhaustion and slumped off to her room. 

She had gotten in the bad habit, according to the Nanny of course, of falling asleep with the wall screen on. The background noise soothed her. She was watching the documentary Helen had sent her. It was on the history of cinema. It was describing the mechanics of film. She liked the classic films of the projector era. Charlie Chaplin, physical comedy. It made her giggle. She thought about herself moving like him, being silly.

Then there he was in her doorway. She hadn’t even hear it open. 

“Echo,” Frank said, “can I come in?”

“Oh, hi Frank,” she said, sitting up in the bed. “Sure you can come in I was just watching something Helen sent over.”

“Thanks.” He looked embarrassed and shy. Echo had never seen him like this. He had always been very out going and loud during the day. 

  “These old movies are the greatest. Have you seen any Buster Keaton stuff yet? His movie “One Week” is hilarious.”

“I haven’t,” 

“Gosh, you got to. Brain play movie, “One Week.”

A loud piano number burst filled the room, and her wall light up. It slipped into a ragtime, then there was a church bell, and then a newlywed couple. 

 

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“Frank I’m not in the mood to watch a whole movie. I was about to go to sleep, so,”

“That’s okay, sorry. I wasn’t trying to bother you. I just wanted to come wish you luck with your A.C.T. training. If there’s anything I can do to help you–”

“What about Paul? Wouldn’t he be mad?”

“Paul’s my friend, but you’re the Captain. Besides Paul doesn’t have to know I am secretly rooting for you.”

“You are?”

“Yeah, Paul get’s so serious about this sort of thing. It would just kill him to lose to you. You’re special Echo, I want you to win.  Anyway, sorry. I’ll let you get back to your rest. Goodnight, Echo.”

She watched him leave. She didn’t know how to feel about him. 

She watched the newlywed couple hilariously try build their house. Buster’s antics made her giggle. It was all so silly. She feel asleep easily. 

 

 

 

Second Chapter Posted (What Do I Expect)

 

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So I posted the second chapter of my book on to scribophile.com for review and I thought it would be interesting to critique myself before I get any reviews. 

I think that like the first chapter, there could be the accusation that things aren’t moving fast enough, and frankly looking further ahead things don’t really heat up action wise for two chapters. I’m still having a hard time imagining the story sped up. I have a sort of “Running Man”, “Hunger Games” thing going here and so that localizes a lot of action to those chapters. Working the story out, right now I feel it like its rhythm is a chapter on a chapter off, sort of thing. 

I don’t know. I think that’s the main criticism at this point is that it is just boring. There’s sort of a lot of information there, and the strangeness and tension is sort of subtle in the character’s experience. That’s what weirds me out too about the couple of reactions I have got is that it is sort of ho-hum nothing happening vibe, while the character is like locked up by freaking androids! 

The actual writing itself I think is getting tighter, but I still don’t know if we are going anywhere. I’m going to post the second chapter up here too, so maybe you all can let me know. Still desperately waiting for my first comment! 

 

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