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Friday, February 13, 2009
by Blob

Either you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks or you're familiar with the "25 Things" meme. I refuse to use Facebook and I'm aware of it. Well apparently, Rachel, of Glimmerville fame, came up with the brilliant idea of inventing 25 "facts" about yourself. My friend Kris ran with it and came up with this post. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and I commented (before I learned that Rachel was involved) that I was tempted to copyemulate1 him, but that I would refrain from doing so for a change.

However, the two protagonists both encouraged me to do so, so here they are, twenty-five spectacularly untrue facts about Blob, the Cynical Optimist-in-Chief.

  1. I spent three years in a Tibetan monastery meditating and doing little else. It was during this time that I learned how to harness and manipulate the power of beans. Sadly, my return to the western world with its pressures and its deadlines has left me with little time for meditation and led to the loss of most of my powers. Not all, however, as my wife will attest in displeasure after a trip to Chipotle.
  2. Like most kids, I played doctor with childhood female acquaintances. Unfortunately my specialty, psychiatry, was not particularly conducive to me getting to see their naughty bits. On the other hand, I was able to buy my first Jaguar before graduating high school.
  3. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Waste Management. Fortunately, my career went in a different direction.
  4. On my first attempt at passing my driver's exam, I set a testing center record by running over seven different traffic cones during the maneuverability test. Two of them were intended for another kid's test.
  5. I have never been on an aircraft that did not experience engine failure on a later flight. To the best of my knowledge, no one has perished in any of these incidents, nor is there any correlation between my presence and the various engine problems. Still, it's a weird fucking coincidence, and I'm on the no-fly list.
  6. My Confirmation name is Isidore, for St. Isidore of Seville, the patron saint of computer programmers.2
  7. A friend and I worked out a new graphical display system over dinner one evening which would have scaled to any desired resolution and would have been more efficient than CRTs, LCDs, DLPs, and plasma. We made copious notes on the back of a napkin. Contrary to what TV and the movies would have you believe, this is no way to record important discoveries. While we weren't looking, a waitress cleaned up the table. We've been unable to duplicate the brainstorm.
  8. For a time, I was convinced that I was adopted, the child of a visitor from an alien race and a girl from Albuquerque. This is because my parents told me that was the case. Years of therapy have helped me become the productive member of society you know now.
  9. I'm told that my first word was "interstitial".
  10. I did a brief stint as a car salesman.3 I once made a really, absurdly great deal, taking in a trade and cash for a new Mercury Grand Marquis well above MSRP. The sales manager revoked my commission after discovering a body in the trunk of the traded-in car.
  11. I believe the staple to be the most honorable of office supplies.
  12. For the first twenty years of my life, I twirled my spaghetti noodles clockwise on the fork; for the second twenty, counterclockwise. One of the few things I'm looking forward to on my rapidly approaching 40th birthday is switching back.
  13. At least once a month I get confused for Chris Elliott. By his aunt Harriet.
  14. I was a foreign exchange student in Germany for my junior year of high school. My host family's custom was to be nude indoors at pretty much all times. Unfortunately, I was an adolescent boy and they had a hot German daughter. I thought for a while that puberty meant "permanent erection". They politely never mentioned it, however. Even when I inadvertently poked Frau Gerber in the butt while passing her in the kitchen. With my penis. Which was erect.
  15. I served two tours in Iraq during the first Gulf War. Thankfully, my unit never saw any action. My Army nickname was "Fodder" due to my consistently poor marksmanship scores.
  16. My brother and I ran with the bulls in Pamploma in 1997.
  17. I was the first person to suggest using platinum as a catalyst for converting internal combustion engine exhaust into slightly less nasty stuff. This provided a market for the previously worthless metal. It really was just a coincidence that my grandfather owned an old platinum mine.
  18. I DVR Oprah. Even the reruns.
  19. When frightened, like most people, I want to go to my happy place. Unfortunately, the restraining order that bitch took out makes that impossible. I don't understand the problem; she doesn't even use her hamper most of the time.
  20. I can't cry. Doctors have told me there's some rare deformation of my tear ducts. I keep several bottles of Visine on my person at all times. I'm almost glad I can't fly any more, with just three ounces and the dry, rarefied air, I'd almost certainly have serious eye problems on a flight of any length.
  21. I spent seven years in a federal prison for wire fraud in connection with an unfortunate incident involving my Commodore 64 and a 1200 baud modem. I'm not permitted to discuss the specifics, but I can tell you that the "official" Enron story is not true.
  22. I did a brief stint performing in adult films. Embarrassingly brief, if you take my meaning.
  23. My best childhood friend was tragically killed in a freak food processor accident. I graduated culinary school without ever having chopped a vegetable thanks to a note from my therapist, help from my fellow students, and some very understanding instructors. Turns out, restaurateurs don't really have much patience for my problem and I was forced to seek other employment options.
  24. I have six toes on my left foot. I had my right small toe removed so that I could still be strange, but have ten toes.
  25. While in prison, I did a correspondence course in Psychiatry. Turns out, I had it seriously wrong when I was playing with the neighbor girls. If I'd done Psychiatry correctly, I'd have been swimming in naughty bits.

1 Yeah, I do this a lot.
2 Part of this is true; St. Isidore really is the patron saint of Programmers. He lived in the seventh century. Which was even before the time of Charles Babbage.
3 I'm not proud of it, but this part is actually true. We all do foolish things in our youth, mine was just particularly foolish.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Blob

Her smile was genuine, completely care-free. Reginald marveled at it.

Since he'd gone off to war twenty years ago, he had never felt like that. Happy, calm, at peace. How marvelous he found it that she could be that way, and as she giggled as she twirled beneath his hand, how wonderful that she could almost make him feel it again.

She was younger than he was; not much older than he had been when they put a rifle in is hand at age seventeen and called him a man. He'd done his duty, aided his nation in her time of need. He'd killed young men who had never wronged him and he carried the guilt of it all these years. It's true that they would have—wronged him, that is—had they had the opportunity, but he knew that it was only because they, too, were doing their patriotic duty. In the intervening years, he had learned it could all have been avoided with just a bit more understanding and a little less posturing by politicians on all sides. That had made him angry and bitter, too. That was almost worse than the guilt.

She had never known war, though, so perhaps the innocent glee of it came naturally. Still, she was old enough to have her own share of burdens. At a mere twenty-two years of age, she'd already lost a husband to disease and a child to still birth. And yet, here she was, swaying to the blare of klaxon horns as though it was a symphony.

He'd enjoyed getting to know her. Grace was her name, he suddenly remembered. Fate had put them at a table together that evening, just as it had made sure their mutual affection and attraction could never blossom into something more. They'd exchanged tales, both happy and sad, talked at length about their triumphs and their fears. She had been working as a clerk since her husband died, but she was studying to become a nurse.

Grace had won her ticket through some sort of lottery. She said that she had spent a significant portion of her life savings on the dress she wore that night. It was simple, but effective. Bright red and delightfully clingy, yet with a flare at the hem that billowed with each twirl.

He hadn't had the heart to tell her that he had spent several times as much on mere sashes for the fashions he had tailored for the nobility and heiresses that comprised his clientele. Upon reflection, though, he realized that no amount of gold could bestow on the majority of them the simple, ethereal beauty that the Grace possessed that evening.

He pulled her tight to himself, draping her arm around his neck and placing his around her waist. The more enthusiastic portions of their dance had set her heart racing and he could feel it through her chest. She flashed that smile at him again and to his surprise he suddenly felt his own, cold, cynical heart flutter and leap.

His memory flashed, a feeling awakened something that had lain dormant for two decades. A girl that he had loved very much before the war, a girl not too different from Grace. He'd forgotten all about her and about who he was before. He'd felt this feeling then, too, before chaos took it all away.

In the space of an instant, the memory had passed and he was once again in the moment. Perhaps for the first time in twenty years he was truly in the moment. Impulsively, he leaned down to kiss her and as her smile parted for him, he closed his eyes.

They spent a lifetime in that kiss, they married, had children, grandchildren, they grew old together. When they stopped to catch their breath, he was surprised to find that only moments had passed.

When he opened his eyes and saw her smiling again, he smiled right back at her. He knew joy.

As they joined again in a different, more purposeful kiss, the asteroid the klaxons had been warning about smashed into their ship. Apparently, the crew had failed to revive the engines in time and no rescue ship had reached them.

Far better to die like this, he thought in that final moment, than to live like that.

Friday, October 14, 2005
by Blob

Last year, I attempted to write a novel in a month as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I didn't do very well. There are 2,123 of the required 50,000 words in my last file, but it seems to be missing a big chunk of something that I wrote shortly before giving up.

Well, the bug has bitten me and I'm getting excited about trying again. A title hit me like a bolt from the blue yesterday. Unchained. I don't know what it means yet. I don't have a plot, or characters, or even a general idea of what I want to say, but I have a title.

A large group (16ish) of Cleveland NaNo writers got together for a meeting yesterday evening. It was very cool to see old friends (and NaNo inspiration) Wesley and Kris and to meet a bunch of other crazy word-writing people.

During the meeting, I decided to write a short story, to kind of get the juices flowing. It's very short, I'm about to link to the second draft, so it's pretty rough, but I'm actually proud of it. If you'd like to read Olivia's Pet Project, it's here.