Category Archives: quickies

Out, out, damned line


The more I write, the more I think about the craft of writing, and the more I think about the craft of writing, the more I think about how badly I screwed up by not thinking about it more when I was just starting.

Of course, when I was just starting, I hadn’t thought about it all that much, so I couldn’t have done otherwise… and yeah, thoughts like that are ultimately pretty useless.

The point of this is that I’ve got this story idea that I’ve been kicking around for a few years now and I’ve just started actually putting words to paper (or, y’know, words to pixels or whatever, you know what I mean) on it, and … I mean, the idea is nifty and all, but… okay, I have to digress further.

With my other stories, it sort of felt like, from the premise, the story just wanted to get up and go. Like the conflict started up and took off immediately, like a cat startled out of slumber by a zucchini squash.

netflix and chill GIF

With this one, there’s less of that immediate impulse to action. So it feels like the story needs something. It needs guidance. Or, I dunno, maybe it’s not fully formed yet and it needs more time to incubate.

So I spent my session today doing something I’ve never done — in advance, anyway — for a story: outlining it.

That’s right, I went back to high school and I made an outline.

The outline sucks, it’s vague as heck and it reads like every action / spy / thriller movie you’ve ever heard of, but y’know, it’s an outline. And once I had it down, I started fleshing it out with possibilities.

And man, it’s weird. Because in my other work, I usually don’t plan all that much. I just strap a lead on the story and try to hold on while it rushes off to wherever it’s gonna rush off to. But what I noticed is that, in my other stories, they end up wandering around, feeling lost in the middle.

I don’t want to get lost on this one. So I’m trying something new.

Will it work? I don’t have a clue.

Anyway, here’s another cat gif, because cat gifs are awesome and it’s Friday and that’s awesome.

cat attack GIF


Triskaidekaphobia


I know this will offend somebody out there, but I think — maybe — if it’s not possible for an animal to share your phobia, then your phobia is basically not a real thing.

Like, fear of the dark. Okay, it’s reasonable for an animal to be afraid of the dark — could be danger out there in the night, or down in that cave, and I, an animal, don’t want to get eaten — so I’d be dark-averse.

Likewise, claustrophobia. Yeah, what I want to do is break out and run free, so being unable to do exactly that thing, especially in a space that’s close and cramped and that I can see no way out of — that would be a detriment to my feelings of well-being.

Or heights. Animals seem to know that a fall from a great height would be bad for them and hence you don’t see a lot of them leaping off tall buildings or cliffs. Heck, my dog is ginger even getting down from the couch.

But triskaidekaphobia? Fear of the number 13? Impossible for an animal to be scared of 13 because they have no concept of 13, so they can’t have any baggage or lore associated with 13.

Same thing tells you why hating Monday is not a real thing. (I mean, it is in that we all hate Mondays, but only because of our sociological construct around Monday being the beginning of the working week for most of us.) Monday isn’t a thing if you’re an animal. You either woke up this morning or you didn’t, and if you did, then it’s a good day.

Anyway, today is Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th is dumb, so I hope yours is perfectly ordinary.

Also, triskaidekaphobia is really hard to type.


Germans Probably Have a Word for This


We need words for some of the various social discomforts that arise around public restrooms.

Like, how about that feeling when you walk into a public bathroom, and it’s just … horrific. Like it smells like a decomposing roadside deer crossed with a wretched witches’ brew and a healthy dose of eau de dumpster. And you handle your business in the fog of it, but then as you’re walking out, somebody else walks in, and they can only assume you’re responsible for the atrocity besetting their nostrils. This feeling — that panic where in your head you say hey this isn’t my fault, I did not do this thing, please don’t judge me but in reality you say nothing because to say something about it would be weirder and worse than being judged?

This feeling needs a name.

Or that feeling when you go into a public stall and have to sit down, and there’s no immediate sign that anybody else has been there recently, but when you sit down, the seat is warm. I mean, bathrooms are kinda like hotel rooms, right? You know other people use them — that’s kinda the whole point — but while you’re in there? That space is yours, and the thought of somebody else’s butt on your seat? It feels like a crime against decency.

This feeling needs a name.

Here’s another one: you go into the restroom, not to do business, but for something else. Like you had to check your face to make sure your co-workers haven’t failed to notify you that you have shaving cream on your ear. But on the way in, you pass by somebody just hanging in the hall outside, in a way that kinda says yeah, I’m gonna be here for a few minutes, on their phone, or chatting with a friend or whatever. So you go in there and you do whatever you need to. But this isn’t a hand-washing visit; you just had to pop in. But now you think, shoot, that person out there is gonna think I did my business and didn’t wash my hands. So you think about washing your hands, but then another part of your brain says, no, that’s stupid, nobody’s paying attention to whether you had enough time to wash your hands. But then you say to yourself maybe you should just wash them anyway, but then no, this was not a hand-washing operation, I’m not gonna be pressured to wash my hands just because somebody might notice that I didn’t. So you stand there staring yourself down in the mirror like a maniac because you won’t be self-pressured into washing your hands but you also won’t be socially shamed for not washing them.

This feeling needs a name.

Or, what about — and I’m a guy, so I grant that girls may play by different rules here — what about that feeling when you’re in a public restroom — doing anything, be it your business, washing up, checking your watch, whatever — and another guy in the restroom says literally anything to you? This is an egregious violation of the social contract, but this jerk has done it, so now, what do you do? Ignore the joker who has so little sense of the social order that he wants to open his mouth and say a single solitary word in this sacred profane place? But to do so seems to violate the other social contract which dictates that you speak and respond when spoken to. So do you break the unwritten laws of the restroom and respond, opening yourself up to the possibility of having an actual conversation with a stranger in the last place you want to have a conversation? No, you chuckle awkwardly and double-time it away from the weirdo.

This feeling needs a name.

I dunno. What are some others? Or better yet, some names for these feelings? I am desperate.

Bathroom, Toilet, Wc, Restroom, Outdoor, Forest, Autumn
A socially isolated toilet, the way nature intended. Sure there’s no plumbing, but thank heck there are no awkward interactions.

This post brought to you out of sheer bloody-minded determination to write something not even vaguely related to current events.


Poor Iago


Remember at the end of Aladdin?

Jafar finally gets the lamp and stuff goes downhill real quick. He goes from super-creepy dude with a mild hypnotic power to being a sultan to being a sorceror to being an all-powerful genie in the space of, I dunno, five minutes of movie time? And it’s like, quickly apparent to everybody that he’s overstepped, got in over his head in his race and rage for power, and just like that, it’s over?

I keep thinking about that moment lately.

Not because of Jafar, in particular — although Jafar is interesting enough as a comparison to *ahem* certain figures in current events. (Lies a lot, power-hungry, more than a little skeevy, more focused on having power than actually wielding it.)

No, I keep thinking about Iago.

Iago (Parrot) - Mrs. Root's Music Room

Jafar’s accomplice, Iago. His parrot. You know, voiced — annoyingly, yet somehow, iconically — by Gilbert Gottfried? (Yes, obviously, I’m talking about the animated version, but honestly, this little detour works just as well in the live-action remake.)

Jafar gets sucked into the lamp at the end — rightfully so, as anybody in the audience would conclude — and out of, what? Spite? Rage? An unwillingness to go down alone? He drags Iago into the lamp with him.

Poor Iago.

I’m not arguing Iago did no wrong. He did. He was Jafar’s accomplice throughout the whole thing; he even — if I’m remembering rightly (though it’s been a while) — helps to sabotage Aladdin and Jasmine at a few points. And he is certainly happy to avail himself of Jafar’s status and power along the way.

But Iago is not, in and of himself, evil. And certainly not as evil as Jafar. And certainly certainly not doomed to a practical eternity in a lamp with the now power-mad and raging Jafar evil.

Iago was a patsy. A henchman. He was the tool of Jafar, not because he wanted to do evil himself, but by dint of being slave to an evil master.

Had Iago belonged to another master, he would almost certainly have turned out differently. Iago didn’t choose his evil, he was driven to it, and would as easily be driven to good, had things gone differently for him.

So Iago being dragged into the lamp to suffer for millenia just because Jafar is a sore loser?

Doesn’t quite sit right.

But Jafar is who he is, and he can’t stomach losing alone, so he’s determined to drag somebody — anybody — down with him.

So, obviously, the parallel I’m making here is between Jafar — who is beaten and he knows it, and drags down his loyal henchman into the abyss with him — and a certain somebody in American politics — who is beaten and he knows it, and is stubbornly allowing his henchmen to self-immolate in the national media on his behalf, because he can’t stand the truth.

The difference, of course, is that Iago tries to flee in the end — he just can’t escape Jafar’s grasp.

The Iagos of the current day do not seem to be fleeing all that hard.


We Got Some ‘Splainin To Do


I just got done speaking to a couple of students.

Things are a little … tumultuous right now; in this country, in our school, shoot… in *life generally*. They hung around after the bell just to talk, to ask some questions, to vent… and I’m happy to be that for them. They obviously needed to talk to somebody. Heck, *I* needed to talk to somebody.

I came away from that conversation shaking my head. The older generation has so much to answer for with these kids. They have been robbed of so much, and yet they’re weathering the storm with so much more resolve and level-headedness than so many of the adults in their lives.

I often joke with them about how I’m glad I’m not a kid like them in the world we’re living in (even though it’s not actually a joke).

But the truth is, many of them don’t even get to be kids anymore. They got yanked out of that and plopped straight into adult problems, starting a few years ago, but especially here in 2020.

And even adults don’t know how to deal with 2020.

These kids have it worse.


%d bloggers like this: