Fiction in 50: The Darker Side of…

the darker side of

It wasn’t enough that she had tried all manner of sweet: no amount of nice seemed to do the trick. Teeth clenched at every turn, the darker side of a genetic legacy ached to claw its way out. You might want to listen to that voice telling you to run…

The Bookshelf Gargoyle curates a Fiction in 50 mini-narrative challenge – this month’s prompt is The Darker Side of….! Come out of the shadows, see the light and get cracking on writing a piece of short, short fiction: send it in and then go have a peek at the other entries – GargoyleBruce writes wonderful reviews on all sorts of kid lit (big and small) with a cheeky tone guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Wander through the stacks, you are sure to find something you’ll like.

Click on the icon in the sidebar for previous entries…

The Big 5 – What do you do?

innovation-poster atb

please make our oscar chewable

It’s not often that we mix church and state but we have, in the recent past, alluded to real-world activities that have been gobbling up our time. When we haven’t got our mitre on, the hard hat is busy protecting us; in an ideal life we would presume and postulate to our heart’s content but when the sun rises each morning we are, sadly, reminded that the rent still needs to be paid.

Alot of what we experience on a daily basis is last minute, due yesterday, just got this great idea to add to those hundred other things you’re doing right now and must be bigger, better, more exciting in full-colour, glossy bus-sized incredibilitude. As much as we love pushing the envelope and repeat (often) that work is a good thing (sorry Martha), we’d give our eye teeth for another head and an extra set of hands. With our luck, we’d always be arguing…

As an aspiring optimist, we say that when we are given yet another task to check off on an already long to-do list that it make us think outside the box but sometimes we just come up empty. Nothing but biodegradable peanuts and shredded packing tape. It can take a stressful toll in one way or another and our biggest fear is just running out of time before we can get all those ideas swirling around in our head out. Concretized for someone else to take pleasure in, be inspired by, be educated about, get a laugh from and hopefully start some sort of dialogue over. That is, perhaps, why many of us blog.

Seems like this century everyone is busier than ever and the Big 5 Challenge is awfully curious to know the reason. What do you do?” – enigma or electrician, caregiver or taker, just starting out or enjoying the fruit of your labours, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief …

We would love to know what takes up most of your time.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge: HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary such as the above on one of the five Ws (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN or WHY and sometimes HOW) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Your point of view on the current week’s challenge can take any form: a reply in the comment box, in a new post with a quote, a motto or saying, an essay, poem or opinion of yours or attributed to someone else, a piece of music, a song, a video, a work of art, photograph, graffiti, drawing or scribble – but it has to be about the topic!
  3. Challenge yourself to dig deep for an answer.
  4. The Challenge will be open for 14 days (there will be a reminder post at the 7 day mark) after which I will post another.
  5. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

SO – Create your Big 5 Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “The Big 5 Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. If you would like your reader to see what others are presenting for the same challenge, add a link to the “Big 5” challenge on your own blog.
  4. Feel free to pick up your badge on The Big 5 Challenge page.
  5. Remember to Follow to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Dirty

dirty puppy2

snoofing is a full-time job

Seems like it was just a week ago that the weather was warm enough to zip around the back yard in a t-shirt yanking out by the roots those nasty burr things that get stuck in our dog’s tangled coat. Then the cool air crept in wilting what was left of the foliage, turning limp and pale what had once been crisp and green.  A few cloudy days and autumn weather finished off what was left but did prompt one brilliant purple flower to bloom two months after its due date. On a mission in the garden once again to clear what is left of our procrastination, our assistant ensures that we don’t miss a spot, probing his nose into the earth, paws flipping the weeds up with great abandon. White fur, brackish black soil: doggie heaven.

Our puppy has no reservations about lying down in the muck. He must have been a socialite in another life for he is keenly aware of its cool, soothing properties and knows that no matter how caked he gets, there is bound to be someone at the door with a soft towel to wipe his paws or – worst case scenario – a trip to the shower for a fast hose down. It’s all part of a day’s work.

“What does dirty look like to you?” – mud or mould, dingy or dim, greasy, creasy or caked on, rated X, fair or foul – We would love to see your vision…

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge: HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary on a random topic that pops into my head (such as the above) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Your point of view on the current week’s challenge can take any form: a quote, a motto or saying, an essay, poem or opinion of yours or attributed to someone else, a piece of music, a song, a video, a work of art, photograph, graffiti, drawing or scribble – but it has to be about the topic!
  3. Please, don’t just link to an old post… challenge yourself.
  4. The Challenge will be open for 14 days (there will be a reminder post at the 7 day mark) after which I will post another.
  5. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

 SO – Create your Two Cents Tuesday Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “Two Cents Tuesday Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. If you would like your reader to see what others are presenting for the same challenge, add a link to the “Two Cents Tuesday” challenge on your own blog.
  4. Feel free to pick up your badge on the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge page
  5. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

cover art

I keep telling myself
that maybe it’s an oversight
but that lump
in my throat
tells me
that if you really wanted to
talk to me
you would have found a way
long ago

Put a spin on the entries in the Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art.

The Big 5 – “Who” do you resemble? – Week 2

Dog-snarlingit’s not always pretty

Funny how the complete draft of a post can be so clear right before one falls asleep and then the next morning we find ourselves trying to pick up the rather frayed thread to weave it all back together… Some things set us off easily perhaps more than they should and with that being said, it is a good thing that we have the sense to value sleep more than firing off email responses at 12:30 am. In the light of day they make much better copy and transform us from snarling hell-hound to obstinate rat-catcher with a mission.

It all started with a simple message – “No notifications yet“. Perhaps some of you have also seen it recently on your mobile WP apps, maybe we’re the only lucky soul. In any event, we had been otherwise occupied with real-life stuff over the last few weeks and didn’t pay it much mind, but then it started to be a ridiculous reminder that something evidently wasn’t right and so we emailed Tech support with a query. Before we launch into this lengthy tirade, let it be known that we have had some amazing help in the past from people at WP who actually did get it and this whole incident unfortunately fell at the tail end of a series of less than inspiring customer-service encounters. Run-ins that left us wanting to shred something to bits and shake it ’til it gave up.

One would have thought that having a WP.com blog meant getting a simple, direct answer from our loving host but that would have been too easy: in order to find some resolution we were requested to open a new account at WP.org (oh joy, another password to keep track of) and repost the same query all over again. Now, being one who can appreciate the finer points of “staying organized” (.com’s  answer) we went through the motions. A day later we were asked whether we were actually logged into the right account and that’s where we almost lost it. Logged in? To the mobile app on our home screen that stays open all the time so we don’t have to clumsily type our lengthy coordinates into the tiny log-in window while we are being jostled on the bus or playing co-pilot in the car. Logged in to the one account that we’ve been logged into since we downloaded the app onto our mobile devices who knows how long ago? We guess the answer to that would be, well ya…. “Try logging in and then out again” was the stellar follow-up: sounds like someone has been taking lessons from tech support at our internet provider – should we try kicking it also?

We do realize that a lot of questions sent to tech support are inane and it must be frustrating to be on the receiving end of such silliness all day long but it really rankles when we’re lumped into a group that hasn’t even developed opposable thumbs. We don’t ask for help unless we’ve googled the problem, looked through all the forums, help centers, articles, yadda yadda and basically exhausted all our own resources. God forbid tech support should and not just assume we’re logged into the wrong account – we would know if we were and that’s not even the problem anyways.
So we went back into the app, without having to log in, and lo and behold the notifications had miraculously appeared. Basically the same but somehow… Different.

At the risk of sounding like an old codger irrevocably set in our ways, we are absolutely not thrilled with the new, improved WP mobile notifications. Now we have little stars (ooh, just what I need – another gold star for my collection) and word bubbles that (take a few clicks to) change colour to prompt us that this is what the attached content is about because no one knows how to read anymore. Sadly, the cross-platform links have not quite gotten the kinks ironed out so if you have read, answered, approved or commented on any of the notifications on, god forbid, your big clunker of a monitor that you can’t carry around in your pocket, the mobile versions haven’t gotten the memo: you’ll just have to read it again to change the colour of that nifty star/bubble – because you just have that much time. We always thought the point of mobile was to make life easier, simpler, less time-consuming, to let us get from A to Z in as few steps as possible. Apparently not, and that’s just the start….

Click on your notification and what do we find? Gravatars and relevant info on who liked what, ok, that looks good; what we commented and the reply – uh oh, there’s a star prompting us like the ghost of Facebook to attach significance to “Thanks for the info…” – really? Now we have this added feature to further an already overburdened sense of guilt that we’re not engaging enough as it is?  Aaaacccckkkk….. What happened to being able to click on the link in a notification to actually see what we are being prompted to approve? Not there anymore. It means we have to go back to the monitor, sometime later, today or tomorrow, and wonder what or who we are forgetting and why we need to do this all over – again. Why is the spam flag now hidden under “more” and why should we have to go through extra steps to get to something that used to be right there under our noses? What does “edit comment” mean? Are we censoring our reader’s replies now on top of everything else? Isn’t that rude and a bit pompous? If we don’t like what people have to say about us or what we’ve posted can’t we just not approve them, ignore them and eventually they’ll disappear like in the good old passive-aggressive days of yore?  It all smacks of the mega-corporation malaise, the one where someone in the back room is trying to justify their paycheque by tweaking things that don’t need to be fixed and taking away features that were actually useful and worked properly in the first place. Upgrades don’t always mean better, lately they seem to mean guess what’s gone. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a whole lot we can do about it but foam at the mouth like some rabid dog. Not nice at all. And it’s really not a good look for us.

Do we really need all this aggravation or should we just roll over onto our backs like an unconcerned puppy waiting for a scritch and something better to come along? It’s been exhausting and so we will follow our dog’s lead and go and lie down until we’ve forgotten about it and it’s time for dinner…

This fortnight the Big 5 Challenge asked – “Who do you resemble?” – mom or pop, lion or lemur, celebrity or saint…

We would love to know who is on your list.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this challenge can be found here: Need more info, want to browse past themes or get the badge for your blog? See HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Culture – Week 2

brekkie

 generic airport brekkie fills a need

In another lifetime morning used to find us in some sort of airline mode. Bleary from having hot-foot it onto the red-eye or woken at some ungodly hour and barely coherent in the lounge, breakfast was never a sure thing. Now, most times, we have the luxury to pick and choose departure times and destination. Somewhat more in control of being able to plan things out in advance and convinced of the benefits of foresight, we have become keenly aware of how to eliminate those little disruptions that can have unpleasant after-effects.

Thirty years ago we could stomach cold soba while gazing at Mount Fuji from cruising altitude or dig into a dish of kippers at the Park Lane but now we can’t even do an 8AM donut in Chicago. Our kingdom for a bowl of granola….

It certainly can be said that the first (and don’t forget, kids, the most important) meal of the day depends on what one is used to and what we find palatable. Depending on the company kept and where in the world one finds oneself, it can vary wildly. From the hair of the dog that bit the night before to huevos rancheros, everything is relative: we’ll stick to what we know won’t come back to haunt us later in the day.

“What does your culture look like?” – costumes and customs, meals and milestones, a country or county, monument or monolith, a pantheon of people or singular person – We would love to see your vision…

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

refractiondo not be so bold
as to question faith
while your feet
are so firmly rooted
in the ground
rather
pierce the universe
by looking outwards
and find
what has been missing

⟪⟫

Perceive the entries of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction in a different light.

The Big 5 – Who do you resemble?

article-0-19AA650200000578-331_306x371

at least it’s not the postman’s….

Everyone knows the old joke about if you want to know how your significant other is going to age (say 30 or 40 years down the line) take a look at their parents. Scary. From both sides. We often pore over pictures of our ancestors and can see how certain traits carry over in the gene pool: skipping a generation once in a while, with siblings sometimes resembling each other more than their parents, Uncle Ed’s mouth popping up here, Ma Tante’s pale complexion there…. A little bit of something from everyone all mixed up in one package.

Even if it’s not readily apparent that we do have the same DNA as our family, we can rest assured that the truth will out in other ways. Mannerisms, voice, small annoying idiosyncrasies, even knee-jerk reactions to external triggers are all packed into the genetic baggage that so many of us try to lose along the way.  On our journey, we choose partners and animals for a variety of reasons (just google people who look like their pets) and sooner or later we start to have more in common with them than we might desire…

The Big 5 Challenge has concluded that jowls may possibly be in our future. Such is life and if we don’t like it, at least we live in a time when we can do something about it.   Who do you resemble?” – mom or pop, lion or lemur, celebrity or saint…

We would love to know who is on your list.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge: HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary such as the above on one of the five Ws (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN or WHY and sometimes HOW) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Your point of view on the current week’s challenge can take any form: a reply in the comment box, in a new post with a quote, a motto or saying, an essay, poem or opinion of yours or attributed to someone else, a piece of music, a song, a video, a work of art, photograph, graffiti, drawing or scribble – but it has to be about the topic!
  3. Challenge yourself to dig deep for an answer.
  4. The Challenge will be open for 14 days (there will be a reminder post at the 7 day mark) after which I will post another.
  5. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

SO – Create your Big 5 Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “The Big 5 Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. If you would like your reader to see what others are presenting for the same challenge, add a link to the “Big 5” challenge on your own blog.
  4. Feel free to pick up your badge on The Big 5 Challenge page.
  5. Remember to Follow to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Culture

culture

wanting to know more

All that remains of the Thanksgiving turkey is sandwich-sized morsels and once again we are left wondering about what really happened when our ancestors got off the boat to build a new city in a new land.  Church and civic records don’t give much clue and most of the tales we hear about who married who and how they dispersed are just that: small bits and pieces that have great hunks worn away like the missing pediment on the facade of an old building. For whatever reason, the bloodline has been less than forthcoming in maintaining a rich oral tradition and so we attempt renovation, to shore up the foundation and paint a fresh identity upon the past.

Sadly, we are stuck having run out of the proverbial resources and energy to keep the project solvent: We are wedged between the genealogical rock we can’t dust off enough to see the beauty of its detail and the very hard place where an upcoming generation is unconcerned, uncaring and uninterested. Unwilling to make an effort to find out what connects them to their heritage, they seem more than eager to jump ship for greener pastures. Perhaps that could be defined as a pioneering spirit but more likely it is just running away from it all.

As much as we might cringe at chest-thumping nationalism, religious zeal or an adhesion to out-dated traditions just because that is always the way it has been done, there is something to be said for wanting to include, and being included. People with strong ties that have united them as family, as members of a community, as part of something greater than self are to be admired, for it means they are looking outward when they try to establish some sense of continuity. It isn’t only about now; it is about what happened before and understanding that helps make a small mark on history for future generations to be able to hold close in times of need and reflection.

“What does your culture look like?” – costumes and customs, meals and milestones, a country or county, monument or monolith, a pantheon of people or singular person – We would love to see your vision…

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

dreamy

i know for a fact
that you remember this day
completely differently
than I
those big holes in your memory
have erased
so much of the good
and left only a sour taste
unconditional love
like the last dregs of coffee
emptied into the dustbin
and
forgotten

Get carried away by the entries in the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Empty – Week 2

empty city

 having not played enough as children,
city officials create “recreational” installation in downtown core

All the action must have been on another street. Just a typical Saturday morning in the middle of town but there wasn’t even the blur of movement. It was as if, for just one moment, everyone had decided to sleep in, roll over, put it off, get just another five minutes before cramming in their weekend errands. That’s just the way we like it and one of the reasons we’re craving a return to the core of the city.

Someone artsy, and definitely with connections to the adjoining culture museum, thought that it would be a brilliant idea to squeeze in a little play-space between some of the office towers. Accessible to the office drones for their smoke-breaks or to unwrap some fast-food during a too short 1/2 hour lunch, it seems contrived rather than spontaneous, synthetic and linear despite the half-hearted use of organic shapes. We couldn’t find that little white plastic sheet defining the area’s use but imagine it might have said something like

“So and So’s work discards the traditional to become the site of poetic transformation. Stopping to encounter each work, the viewer is obliged to reimagine the nature of the the city and its change from a passive to an active space.”

Yep. A bit barren that particular morning, we did like the orange astroturf carpet circles….

“How does empty look to you?” – the glass half-filled, a bathtub drained, a look that’s lost or filled with pain, crumbs of cake, that last bite, big blue skies over a big blue lake – We would love to see your vision…

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

signs

closed
nothing left
but  a few square feet
on the third floor of a museum
no more celebrities
no more labour disputes
no more long lines
waiting for a taste
of smoked meat and a coke
but perhaps
the straw that broke
the kravitz’ back
was just
that $5.50 super deluxe sundae

♨︎

Read all about it in the entries of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Empty

empty

what more could one wish for

There’s always that odd feeling when one gets into the cab after the bags are all packed and stowed, the checklists gone over for the fourth time, last minute instructions scribbled on bits of paper and left on the counter; that hollow gulping of yes, so glad to be on the way but oh no, how long is it going to take before all hell breaks loose and of course, it inevitably will.

Travelling is both pleasure and pain. Whether we are off to a vacation destination (ha ha – when was the last time anyone had a real getaway in some exotic location that didn’t involve sleeping on a relative’s fold-out) or on a job-related jaunt, just navigating through the airport can be exhausting. Electronic check-in, check-out, scan this document that body part, shoes on, shoes off, mobile devices on off in the bin in your carry-on: God forbid one has too many fillings as fluoride was unknown in your childhood because you will be promptly waved off to one side for closer examination….

We are learning, albeit late in the game, to travel light(er). With the emphasis on the er. Our carry-on departed at maximum weigh-in filled with promotional materials (the magnet give-aways going through the scanner twice but otherwise passed over) and returned home filled with dirty laundry. Alas, and much to Miss Z’s chagrin, there was no time this voyage to shop for snazzy souvenirs or even the tiniest twinkling trinket: better luck next time…

“How does empty look to you?” – the glass half-filled, a bathtub drained, a look that’s lost or filled with pain, crumbs of cake, that last bite, big blue skies over a big blue lake – We would love to see your vision…

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Fiction in 50: A Worthy Adversary

worthy

Don’t look at me like that: it’s just so difficult to bring you home and make you stay all safe and sound. Not easy to resist temptation and go wandering off with some cheap little thing or another, I’m sure you’re aware.  Listen to me now and believe me later…

The Bookshelf Gargoyle curates a Fiction in 50 mini-narrative challenge – this month’s prompt is A Worthy Adversary! Steel yourself, stick to your guns and take matters in hand by writing a piece of short, short fiction: send it in and then go have a peek at the other entries – GargoyleBruce writes wonderful reviews on all sorts of kid lit (big and small) with a cheeky tone guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Wander through the stacks, you are sure to find something you’ll like.

Click on the icon in the sidebar for previous entries…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

nighttime

on a thursday afternoon
they would wander
white-gloved
a few soda crackers and peppermints
wrapped carefully in a handkerchief
and tucked into pocketbooks
just in case
they would say
and nod agreement
to the happy collusion
spent lingering
by the perfume counter
but Friday
would always come
striding in on too-high heels
gin and tonic fueled
waiting to be dragged
onto the dance floor
cherries in the snow
smeared
on saturday’s collar

‼︎

See what’s lurking in the entries of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.