Deconstructing “A Day Ruined”

February 9, 2017

“A Day Ruined” is a new, very short story posted at the end of 2016, inspired by a recent, dispiriting set of stamps from the Postal Service that sends the wrong message about pets and exotics.

Pet Stamps - Side 1 of USPS stamps Side 2 of USPS Stamps

Once you get beyond the dogs and cats/puppies and kittens, the pictured animals are less and less appropriate as companions. Many are routinely removed from their native habitats and shipped in poor conditions, only to be abandoned by irresponsible owners.

In any event, many people are concerned about issues of animal suffering, and the day-to-day life of people who care about such things, or who care about anything, is getting difficult in today’s America, where the loudest voices dominate current political discussions by venting their inner asshole. And all this noise covers up actions like the USDA’s, which recently pulled public information about animal abuse from its site.

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The Star Wars Name Blender

January 29, 2017

Jyn, Cassian, Baze Malbus, Bistan, Chirrut – these are just a few of the Rogue One characters, an unmemorable blitz of names that reads like the fevered output of the Star Wars Galaxies random name generator. They just don’t have the iconic flavor of Han Solo, Princess Leia, or Obi Wan Kenobi. The easiest name to remember, Saw Gerrara, is due mainly to its simplicity.

Saw Gerrera

But that name presents its own challenges, especially if Saw were a Space Catholic. Probably one reason he kept his inner circle so small was to avoid confusing interchanges like the following:

“Have you seen Saw?”

“I saw Saw on Saturday. He didn’t look good.”

“Why? Where did you see Saw?”

“I saw Saw at the Holy See.”

“Who did Saw see at the See?”

“I don’t know. I’m worried he might be having a personal crisis.”

“He’s probably despondent. The Sith got a seventh seat during a secret Senate session.”

“You’d despair too, if you were seven-eighths machine. Yesterday I had to saw Saw’s seventh finger out of a sewing machine. He was trying to sew his seersucker suit.”

“I’ll bet Saw saw someone at the See to make his peace. He might be looking to the end. I just hope he can fulfill his final wishes.”

“What’s that?”

“Saw wants to see the sea before he dies.”

“I thought you saw Saw at the See on Saturday?”

“… I gotta be honest. I don’t know what we are talking about anymore…”

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Dispatches – Get Ready…

January 20, 2017

This recent conversation was overheard at the Braindead Megaphone Cafe:

“I read a story about a story about Trump? That he paid some Russian to pee on him…?”

“I heard that. But you have to call that ‘fake news.'”

“Yeah, I knew it’s a lie…”

“Say it.”

“Say what?”

“Say ‘fake news.'”

“…Fake news.”

“You’re damn right it’s fake news.”

“Awesome. Gotta remember that: fake new, fake news, fake news…”

“You know how you know? The media made one big mistake when they were making up this story. You see, they couldn’t help themselves. They hate Trump so much, they had to make him the pissee. That’s how you know it’s fake. Because if there’s pissing to be done, Trump’s gonna do it.”

“Yeah yeah. Trump’s the pisser. We voted for a pisser.”

“Damn right. If you get in bed with Trump, you know he’s gonna be on top, and you better get ready to get pissed on.”

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Graham Greene awesomeness (again…)

January 13, 2017

“Hate was just a failure of imagination.” (The Power and the Glory, Penguin ed. pg. 131) – only slightly more inspiring than the words of Dr. Ben Carson:

“It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American.” – Dr. Ben Carson

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Dispatches – Save a Job, Save the World

December 24, 2016

The Braindead Megaphone Cafe has gone nationwide, so there are many new opportunities to overhear new conversations on the state of the nation and the world. The following exchange was between a man and woman after Christmas shopping:

“I been out shopping for the kids. I got lightsabers for all of ’em because Walmart had them in this giant bucket for 4 bucks.”

“That’s ’cause everything’s made in China now.”

“It’s a damn shame. We invented lightsabers. If anyone should be making ’em, it’s us.”

“Trump’s gonna stop all that. He’s bringing back the jobs, and four years from now we’ll all be buying American lightsabers.”

“He can do it in three.”

“Maybe. But all those liberals are gonna try to stop him. Remember the owls?”

“Yeah, yeah… Which owls?”

“The owls of Oregon. The greenies put the lumber industry out of business to save an owl. Now we have to import our wood from China.”

“Trump’ll fix that. Hell, if it saves one job, I’d shoot all the owls in Oregon.”

“We could pay a guy to go out and shoot all the owls in the woods. That’s one new job right there.”

“I know a guy who would do it for free.”

“I know a guy who would pay to shoot owls.”

“Then we’d have to pay someone to collect his money.”

“We just made a job.”

“We just saved the whole damn economy. More than Obama bin Lyin’ ever did.”

Think about it, AJ

December 9, 2016

Of course Alex Jones was titillated by the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory—it is exactly the type of lascivious fiction that draws him in for a wallow. By comparison, the 9/11 conspiracies are rote, with nary a salacious angle, unless you count the virgins promised to the suicidal terrorists, which you do not because, according to the Truthers, they don’t exist (the terrorists, not the virgins).

In fact, I suspect AJ doesn’t think much about those 9/11 conspiracies anymore, wherein Truthers believe a mix of U.S. government entities and New York commercial property owners conspired to blow up the Twin Towers through plane impact and controlled demolition. The latter part of the conspiracy is where the NY property owners necessarily get involved because how could they not know about construction workers deployed throughout the WTC buildings to plant explosive charges? Heck, Trump peer Larry Silverstein uttered the telling words “pull it” about his property WTC 7.

And therein lies the rub because, in AJ’s world, how could D- Trump not know about the 9/11 conspiracy? In fact, since D- Trump, for whom AJ campaigned, is the most prominent and hence most successful property owner in New York, he had to be part of the conspiracy, right? How could he not?

It is the question that should keep AJ and his Truther ditto heads up at night. But it doesn’t.

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What’s this about political butts?

November 17, 2016

Old and pulpy sci-fi often has some interesting ideas, but the words they used were often lacking in style and even coherence. Sometimes it is poor editing – a “where” for a “were” – but there are times when their words seem to be intentionally confusing.

Case in point: John Wyndham was correct that we are fucked as a species. The seas will rise, and plants will hunt us down. But I’ve read this sentence from his Out of the Deeps (the U.S. version of The Kraken Awakes) many times and I’m still in the dark:

“Almost every cartoonist discovered simultaneously why his favorite political butts had somehow never seemed quite human.” (pg. 106, Del Ray from 1977 edition)

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Don Quixote – 341 years into the future

September 29, 2016

Cervantes had Trump figured out over 300 years before that dofus was born:

“[T]he man who never intends to pay isn’t worried about any problems when he strikes his bargain.” (Don Quixote, pg. 255, Penguin Classics)

Isn’t that the subtitle for The Art of the Deal?

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Dispatches – Picking on VW

September 27, 2016

This particular discussion, overheard at the Braindead Megaphone Cafe between two males, inadvertently veered into insightful observations on a current event and its implications for modern society:

“You hear it’s been a year since Volkswagen got caught cheating on their gas mileage? And all those folks who got a VW got a billion dollars.”

“Damn. I shoulda bought one. I remember looking at those cars years ago, and I knew their mileage wasn’t right. I knew they was lying. And now, everyone who got suckered gets a big payout, and I get nothing for knowing my shit.”

“You know how Volkswagen got away with it?”

“How’s that?”

“Let’s just say, I ain’t never seen a man drive a Volkswagen.” [Both laugh.] “It’s a sad world today, when people get rewarded for their stupidity.”

“Hell, the only reason VW had to cheat was they had to get around the EPA. If it was up to tree huggers, we’d all be driving bicycles to work.”

“And you know those VW ladies went before the judge crying that this big corporation was picking on them. Hell, everybody gets picked on. The Irish. The Christians. The Italians. You gotta pull yourself up. Can’t live your life looking for handouts.”

“What’s your history?”



“We definitely got indentured servants in our history. And we ain’t whining about it.”

“Hell no. If someone picks on you, you stand up, you work harder, you prove yourself. You don’t go suing people.”

“Or making terrorist groups. What would we call our terrorist group? White Lives Matter?”

“That’s already taken. My cousin went to one of their mixers.”

“The best names are always taken.”

“That reminds me, I sent in a new nickname for Barry to the Trump website. I hope he uses it in the debates.”

“What is it?”

“Obama bin Lyin’.”

“…I don’t get it. But I like it.”

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Dispatches from the Braindead Megaphone Cafe – What Pootin Wants

July 7, 2016

We live in interesting political times. The discussions at the Braindead Megaphone Cafe have become particularly interesting. The following conversation between two males was recently overheard:

“These pretzels are making me thirsty.”

“You got half a beer in front of you.”

“I was thinking of getting orange juice. Like yours.”

“This? This is a screwdriver.”

“What are you? Some kinda damn Ruskie?”

“Hell no. I get my screwdriver with Wild Turkey. It’s called America.”

“Hell yea.” [Fingers bartender to order his own America.]

“We gotta do what we can till Barry Hussein’s outta there. Trump’ll handle that Pootin right.”

“Yeah.” [Sips drink ruminatively.] “Even Putin knows that. He said, you know, Trump’s talented. And real smart.”

“Pootin knows he’s met his match.”

“Yeah.” [Sip.] “Kinda makes you wonder, why would he say that?”

“‘Cause it’s true.”

“Yea, I know, but… Putin wants to keep beating us. He beats us with Barry. He beats us with Hillary. So he doesn’t want Trump to be president. Why would he say all that stuff?”

[With eyes askance] “You sayin’ it isn’t true?”

“Not that. It’s just, it’s like he’s saying we should vote for Trump. And we know he doesn’t want us to vote for Trump.”

“Well … he is Russian. They play mind games. Like them KGB guys in the Red Dawn.”

“Which part?”

“All of it. They can do their mind games and turn soldiers against their kin. He’s trying to turn us.”

“Yeah.” [Smiles] “Yeah. He knows we’ll do the opposite of what he says.”

“You mean the stupid ones’ll do that.”

“Hell yeah.” [Raises glass] “We’ll do exactly what Putin says. That’ll show him.”

[Both salute and finish their drinks with a flourish]

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