Category Archives: Just For Fun

Making Up Horoscopes

I discovered the other day an assignment I had done for a poetry class. The assignment was to create a new Zodiac sign and write a horoscope for it. I present to you, Arugula.

Leafy green aruglua plant

Photo by Eric Bear Albrecht [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Characteristics of an Arugula:

Arugulas are healthy, earthy, and have a strong will to do what is right. They love the natural world and strive for harmony in their lives and actions. Arugulas love strongly and seek to better the lives of those around them, often with great success.

On the other hand, arugulas’ strong will often puts them at odds with others, and their desire to do the right thing can lead to a false sense of superiority. Arugulas are often tasteless to the point of boorishness, and though they naturally exert a strong influence on those around them, they can be heavy handed and overbearing. In addition, arugulas’ earthy nature may lend them a pleasant odor on first contact, but can quickly grow stale and moldy.

Horoscope:

Storms darken the horizon and may easily overwhelm you. Remember, snow is a natural part of the Earth. However, just because your life is drenched and stormy, it does not excuse you from bathing. A sudden frost is about to ruin your love life. My advice: Try adding some croutons to your salad, preferably garlic. Newly single people can afford to have horrendous breath. Maybe go watch The Hobbit and root for Smaug this time.

Watch for shooting stars. If you see one, run. Run far far away and contemplate the nature of a vast universe that is constantly trying to destroy you. Pray, if it makes you feel better. Nothing can save you in the end.

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Not Quite Christmas (The Real Best Time of Year)

The Holiday Season is almost upon us. I personally really like this time of year, from September all the way through the New Year. I like the creepy Halloween stuff, but I like the time after Halloween just as much, and I’m referring to more than just the traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff. These few weeks between Halloween and Turkey Fever get short shrift usually. At best they’re ignored. But I like it. I like the days getting shorter and the air getting colder. I like the hints of snow and promise of misery. Of course, by the second week of January the magic has worn off and it’s all dirty slush and inconvenient ice. For now though, it’s a time of constant change, and I like that.

For me, this time of year is a promise of things to come. My life is in that weird place after adolescence but before ‘real’ adulthood. (Of course, I’m developing a sneaking suspicion that ‘real’ adulthood never really arrives until you’re the oldest person alive and no one is around to tell you how young you still are.) I haven’t got a solid career yet, or children. I still have friends that like to go out at 11pm on Friday night. I still join them occasionally, though I usually regret it. I’m living the life of a full grown-up without all the resources. I don’t have to live on ramen noodles, but I still can’t afford health insurance. Basically, things are unsettled, much like the early November season that can’t decide if it’s Winter or Fall or how long either will last.

The promise, though, is there. The promise that soon all the trees will be lit with twinkling, artificial life and the snow will be soft and cold but not freezing as it falls. The promise that comfort is only a steaming mug away. It’s that promise I cling to. It’s honestly the best part of life. Anticipation is often greater than the reward, though I don’t think that diminishes the rewards. I’m still young enough that I can anticipate my life ahead. I can plan for better things, though I’ll have to slog through some blackened slush to get there. And when I do reach things like stability and regular dental visits, I’m sure it won’t be nearly as lovely as I have it in my head. Not that healthy teeth are a bad thing, but I’m sure I’ll still have unattained desires and worrisome trivialities and the kids will be sending the world to hell with their darned techno-folk music and silver jumpsuits and AI partners. Of course, that means I also get to have my anticipation of better things to come.

The lovely thing about this time of year is that it goes by so quickly. Soon it will be the Holiday Season for real with its Christmas Wars and Hobbitses and travel plans. Then we’ll have piles of dirty ice in all the parking lots and then the lovely green of Spring. Soon, the anticipation will be gone, but for a few brief days I get the thrill of imagining all the fun and joy laid out ahead of me. And I’m okay with that.

Why I Believe in Santa Claus

Yes, I believe in Santa Claus. Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I know Santa isn’t real. And Yes, all those statements are true. Mostly. I had a conversation about Santa Claus  with a friend the other day, and in this conversation we discussed belief in said magical Arctic dwelling whatever he is. Is he a person? I suppose person and human aren’t necessarily the same thing, so fine: Santa is a person. Anyway, in this discussion we talked about the different reasons and arguments for telling children that Santa Claus is real or just being open with them or whatever. I don’t mean to get into that too much. Suffice it to say that if I ever become a father I will be the kind of  parent who is going to lie his ass off to his kids about probably almost everything. But in a nice way. The better discussion, I believe, isn’t about lying to children. It’s about lying to yourself. I believe in Santa Claus, and I will defend that belief forever. (I was going to say to the death, but if we’re believing in Santa Claus, we’re going for an afterlife too.) Now, I know there’s no Santa Claus, just as I know there’s probably not an afterlife. The evidence simply suggests otherwise. But just because I know something isn’t real, doesn’t mean I can’t believe in it. This all started when I was fourteen years old. I was in junior high school, and it was near Christmas time. Somehow my friends got into a discussion about Santa Clause. When someone casually mentioned that Santa wasn’t real, I flipped out. “What do you mean? Of course Santa’s real!” I said. “If he’s not real, then how do you explain all the presents you get on Christmas morning?” They responded with mixtures of confusion and pity and arrogance. “Umm, your parents put the presents there.” “And I suppose you think your parents fill your stockings too,” I shot back. “Yeah. Of course.” The most confusing part of this exchange for those poor, brave teenage souls was that I was not speaking in a sarcastic tone, but rather as one who really believed and stood by these convictions. Now, by this point I had known for some years that Santa wasn’t real, and I assumed my friends would take my joke for what it was. What I have never realized is that when you act serious, people will assume you are serious. It makes the joke better, but also harder to perceive as a joke. Alas, against my better judgment I was drawn into a debate about the reality of a supernatural character, and I was supposed to argue the losing side. I couldn’t just give in to reality. That would have been too easy. So I played it out. And I discovered something in the process: It’s more fun to believe. There is a terrific scene in the terrific movie “Secondhand Lions” wherein a boy tells his uncle he needs to know if the stories he’s been hearing about his two uncles’ youthful adventures are true. The uncle responds with a short speech about belief:

Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.

A false notion is that belief and knowledge have anything to do with each other. They don’t. Belief is in fact the very antithesis of knowledge. It is impossible to both know and believe something at the same time. But far from destroying the foundations of belief, this thrusts belief into a very special realm all its own, where it’s possible to both know something isn’t true but believe it all the same. I choose to believe in Santa Clause because the world seems a more magical place that way. And no I will never allow that belief to cloud my judgment regarding whether or not I need to fill my possible future children’s stockings. That would just be irresponsible. And I will never trust magic or crystals or prayer to heal me when medicine has been proven to do the trick far better and more reliably. But I will continue to believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny and magic and The Doctor because even though reality is pretty awesome, a little magic still goes a long way.

Doctor Santa

Pictures by a 26-year-old

I’ve gotten into the habit of writing letters with a few people lately. Some out of pleasure, and some out of necessity. One thing that’s been fun is to include little drawings with each letter. I am intensely proud of these drawings, in the way only someone acutely aware of their own lack of talent can be. And because I’m proud of these, and because they are hilarious and awesome, I decided to share them with you.

Pro tip: You might enjoy these more if you just pretend they were drawn by a 6-year-old instead of a 26-year-old full grown man.

This one is a black unicorn. Because unicorns are awesome, and I didn’t have any other colors. Black Unicorn

I wrote this letter on Halloween, so here’s a ghost and a pumpkin and a bloody sign.Happy Halloween

Then I realized, if I wrote it on Halloween, the recipient wouldn’t get it until it was Thanksgiving season. So I compensated.Happy Thanksgiving

Finally, because The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is coming out soon, and because I’m a fantasy nerd, I’ve had dragons on the brain lately. But because I got tired of drawing legs, this one turned into Homer the bisexual, avidly anti-tobacco chickendragon.Dragon's Are Awesome

You’re welcome.

All Hallow’s Read

Hey everybody! It’s October now, and you know what that means. It’s time for All Hallow’s Read! (Hooray!!!!!! Cheers!!!!! What in the hell is All Hallow’s Read?!)

I’m glad you asked Mr. Pessimist who hates fun. All Hallow’s Read is a holiday tradition thought up by Neil Gaiman in 2010. Basically the idea is, you know what? I’ll just let him explain it.

 

If that doesn’t get you excited, check out this year’s posters from Introverted Wife:

allhallowsread2

allhallowsread1

allhallowsread32

allhallowread4

So get your bookshopping done and find someone you love to scare the pants off of this year. Happy Hallowe’en!

More information at http://www.allhallowsread.com/

Short and Sweet

I want to post my new short story soon. I finished writing it, and I sent it to a few people to read. I’ve gotten some good feedback so far, but I’m still waiting for a couple people to get back to me. Then it’s just editing then posting. Anyway, this post isn’t about that story. This post is about another very short thing I wrote and want to share with you. I like it a lot, and I hope you do too.

 

Water, the Fish

Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello?

WELCOME, MY CHILD.

Thank you.

HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

Fine I guess.

WHAT HAPPENED?

What?

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?

Nothing.

I MEAN, HOW DID YOU GET HERE?

Oh. I’m not sure. I was swimming around and then I felt hot and then I woke up here.

I SEE. AND WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Beg your pardon?

WHICH ONE ARE YOU? WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

Shouldn’t YOU know?

I SHOULD, YES, BUT I’M GETTING OLD AND THERE ARE SO MANY OF YOU AND YOU ALL LOOK SO MUCH ALIKE. IT WOULD REALLY BE A WONDERFUL HELP IF YOU COULD TELL ME YOUR NAME.

I’m sorry. I haven’t got a name.

HAVEN’T GOT ONE?! BUT DIDN’T A FAMILY HAVE YOU?

Oh yes. They did.

WHAT DID THEY CALL YOU?

The little one called me Water.

WATER! A FINE NAME! WELCOME!

Thank you. Can I ask you a question?

OF COURSE.

Who are you?

I AM YOUR FATHER.

You don’t look like me.

WELL WE’RE NOT RELATED. TECHNICALLY.

But you’re my father?

YES.

I am really confused.

I’M NOT YOUR PROGENITOR. I’M YOUR CREATOR.

Okay. So, where am I?

YOU ARE IN MY HOUSE.

Am I going to stay here forever?

MAYBE. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIFE.

It was hot then I woke up here.

THAT’S ALL?

I think so.

CAN’T YOU TELL ME ANY MORE?

No.

YOU’RE NOT DOING VERY WELL SO FAR. I DON’T LIKE OBSTINATE FISH!

Sorry Mac, but you’re the one who gave me a five-second memory. Obviously you could have done better because here we are having a real conversation longer than ‘Hello.’ The way I see it, this is your fault.

I DON’T LIKE YOU ANYMORE, WATER. I’M SENDING YOU AWAY.

You’re the Big Cheese.

ABRACADABRA!

Abra——— Are you kidding me? Hello? Hello! Where am I? And why is the water steaming?

In the Shadow of the Gods (working title)

The sun shone brightly through cracks between tall buildings as a town car made its way through the city. It wasn’t a particularly noticeable vehicle. It was hardly the only gentleman’s wagon on the street, but it was clean and respectable with no scratches or blemishes. The body was waxed and polished until the green paint, dark enough to be almost black, shone with a respectable lustre.  The man sitting in the back fit the car perfectly. The consummate gentleman, he wore a respectable suit with a plain, clean tie of modest design bearing the family colors; green for the eyes and red for the hair. He kept his dark, rusty brown hair long enough to toy with if the occasion called for it, but short enough to be manageable. Today it hung loose except for two braids over his forehead to match the braids of his moustache. A cane of dark rosewood lay on the seat next to him, and his gloved hands lay clasped in his lap. Today was a special day.

Months of planning and negotiations were coming to a head today. Jacob, the man in the car was nervous about the meeting. It was an uncomfortable feeling and one with which he wasn’t familiar. He’d been to many business meetings before, and each was the same as the next. But today was different. It felt like his first time. Butterflies churned in his stomach, his breath was short and small beads of perspiration broke on his forehead. For all that, he kept his features smooth. It wouldn’t do to show weakness today.

The town car stopped in front of a café on 7th Street. The street of the Gods, they called it, though nobody understood why. Stories abounded verifying some reason or other why the street deserved the name. In Jacob’s mind the street bore the name because of the attention the city’s industry captains lavished upon it. There were no businesses, in the pure sense of the word, on 7th. It was made up entirely of entertainments: restaurants, cafés, parks, sport halls and other establishments providing physical recreation. There was a minor temple in the middle of the street which all the captains blessed when they passed it, but that was just good business. It wouldn’t do to be seen not respecting the traditions, even if the gods themselves were no longer bound to humanity. Even so, Jacob whispered a quiet prayer as he entered the café.

Immediately upon entering Jacob was greeted by Lawrence Courney, the café’s owner. After exchanging pleasantries, Lawrence led Jacob to the back of the establishment. This was highly irregular. It was customary for captains to meet in the sunlight near the broad windows which decorated the front of every business along the street of the Gods. After all, there was an image to be maintained. Jacob would have been incredibly insulted had he not seen his associate already seated. Evidently, she had asked for privacy. That or Lawrence was retiring from the life business, but either way it was Alicia’s responsibility to deal with any perceived slight. Jacob eyed her as they walked to the table. Alicia was a pretty woman, not beautiful, but pleasantly attractive for a woman in her late forties with long honey colored hair and striking eyes. Her eyes were the first thing people noticed about her not because of their color, a dull green, but because of their intensity. One look at Alicia’s eyes and anybody worth their salt knew they were not dealing with an average woman, even for the nobility. She was clever and ruthless, and she reportedly took great pleasure in manipulating those who were supposed to be her betters. Jacob had avoided business with her for just such reasons, but in her line of work she was absolutely the best and he needed the best.

Arriving at the table, Jacob thanked Lawrence for his service and gave him a generous tip before seating himself and propping his cane on his leg. He and Alicia refrained from speaking until their cakes and coffee arrived. The server wouldn’t come back unless they called. This was why they had chosen the Café de Lune; the staff understood propriety. Once they had tested the coffee, perfect as always, and each taken a bite or two of cake the meeting officially began.

“So,” Alicia’s voice came out smooth and confident, “I understand you have a proposal for me.”

“Indeed Madame. I believe you understand the basic terms of the deal. Am I correct?”

“Yes, but I am told you want something special. Special orders always contain inconsistencies with the paperwork. I’d like to hear straight from your mouth exactly what you want.”

“Green eyes. I need green eyes to match the family, and she needs to be well bred.”

“Green eyes I have aplenty, but define for me ‘well bred.’”

“Oh, you know. Finest stock. First class. Proper training. All that.”

Alicia shook her head slightly and fixed Jacob with her intense gaze. “Maestro Goosebaum, I am a very busy woman, so I will only say this once. When I say I want to hear exactly what you want, I mean exactly. No games. No suppositions. I don’t know what your twisted little mind considers proper training. Do you want a musician? Bodyguard? Dancer? Lover? Daughter? All of the above? These things matter in selection. So I will ask you one more time, what exactly what do you want?”

Jacob felt the sweat bead on his forehead and his voice shook as he answered. “I want a female. Solidly muscled, but still able to properly wear a suit. She should have green eyes, as I stated, and a full head of hair. She should dislike onions. I want her to dance adequately, not well. She should have a menacing glare, but no combat training. She is to be an ornament, not a thug. She must be plain looking for a noble, but not so ugly as a peasant. I wish to pass her off as family, but not close family. She should not embarrass me, but neither need she impress. If you can fulfill these conditions I am willing to offer you one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.”

“Pounds of what?”

“I would not like to say out loud. I understood you read the proposal?”

“Oh I am aware of your documents, but as you well know writing is fluid. I want assurance. I need to hear it from your mouth with your word attached to it.”

Jacob gulped nervously. He had hoped he wouldn’t have to give such assurances. Not that he was a liar, even on paper, but still once a word was given it couldn’t be rescinded for anything. He had never given his in public. Too much chance of someone overhearing. Still, if she could provide, he would pay the price, but not without assurances of his own. “Very well Madame Bartlett. I will give my word, but before I do, I wish to hear from your mouth that you can provide what I need.”

“Ha. You wish a word from me in return? Do you take me for a fool? I will not be so easily manipulated, my dear, sweet man. I am sorry, but you must try harder than that.”

“I believe, Madame,” Jacob said stiffly, “that your cleverness is leading you to gold. Shiny and smart, but ultimately worthless.” Alicia recoiled at the insult. Good, that should teach her. “If you had listened carefully, you would have noted that I did not ask for your word. I simply wished an assurance from your own mouth.”

“Very, very clever Maestro Goosebaum. I see now why your family elected you Captain. Very well, you have my assurance. I tell you with my own mouth: I will provide for you exactly as you desire, and I will be held to the Laws of Confirmation in this matter.”

“Very good. Now then, I propose to offer you payment of one hundred thousand pounds of green plants and fifty thousand pounds of eatable meats, from animals of my own making. As assurance and sealant of this bargain I offer you my word: Barnyard. Is it acceptable?”

“A powerful word. You will have what you need Jacob.”

With that Jacob drained his coffee and left the Café de Lune, nodding to Lawrence as he passed. He stepped into his town car, and hoped he had made a wise choice. At the table, Alicia smiled.