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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Window

Flash Fiction/Short poetry originally written for my parents

Once upon a time
Wind sparkled in the tree tops
Footsteps, light on the roof
Dirty with island muck
Sabre dangling
Shirtless
A defeated pirate's hat
Pearl, from a tamed mermaid, on leather string
Hunting a shadow
You left the window open.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Now mermaids are not like they are in the storybooks..."

Fantasy flash fiction tale

The moment she grabbed my butt I knew it was over.

I knew it was over, because she had ten-inch-long claws, and ten feet under the murky water I couldn't scream. I kicked; silt filtered around my ears, in my nose, scratching my skin. Another set of claws caught my shoulder, and the sting in my spine told me she had sharp teeth, too.

Mama had warned me not to go looking for mermaids. "They're not like in the storybooks," she'd said, her eyes distant. But with that smile tickling the corner of her mouth, of course I'd go looking! If she REALLY didn't want me to find her map of "second star to the right, and straight on til morning," she shouldn't have left it just lying around in that padlocked safe in the secret cave under her bedroom floor.

Maybe that wasn't really "just lying around."

Still, what with the slippery hands gripping my forearms and my lungs burning for lack of air, I had to blame someone. Another solid kick--my bare foot hit a scaly, slimy thing. Like a giant snake? I yelped, and mud and water flooded my throat, and my eyes jerked open. The light of the moon above me looked even further away than I'd remembered, and for a second, before I closed my eyes again, I saw the pale, toothy face, and the huge blank lidless fish eyes, just staring at me.

Okay, now I was freaked out. I thrashed, and my fist hit the creature's face--"bop them on the nose to establish dominance," Mom had said. She said that about sharks, not mermaids, but who can tell the difference, anyway? It released me, and I shot towards the surface.

I got one gulp of air before it grabbed my foot again. My fingers scraped against the rock on the shore. I heaved myself up, slipping on the algae, and bashing my knee against an underwater stone. A rough tongue scraped my knee. Oh gosh oh gosh...

Just as I got half my torso onto shore, the mermaid rocketed out of the water, grabbed the back of my head, and tried to slam my skull against the rock. A violent push-up on my part protected my sweet tender brainmeats--and knocked me back into the water.

Holy COW this was ridiculous! I squealed with repressed rage--I don't know why I bothered to repress it--

And for a second the mermaid backed off. I treaded water as she stared at me from a few feet away. The moon reflected off her heavy, seaweed-mat of black hair as I heaved. The gills in her neck flared, and blew steam. We looked at each other for a terrifying, beautiful second, just breathing, me with my lungs, her with her gills. When I blinked, she blinked, her eyelid transparent like an amphibian's. Blink. Breathe. Holy crap, this was happening. Two living creatures, connected by water, and air.

Okay, so high pitched sounds got to her! Communication, like a whale. I did it again.

She dove.

Uh-oh, I messed up. I didn't want her down there. Something brushed against my leg. Hooo boy okay I couldn't see...my heart thudded a mile a minute in my chest. I tried to control my breathing, in case she decided to yank me under again. Slowly, slowly, I treaded my way back towards the rock...

And made it to shore.

I got out, dripping, and backed away from the water's edge. There, on the sand, far behind the rocks, lay the pan-pipe I'd pinched from Mama's safe. It used to belong to a child who never grew up. Mama always said she never grew up, but I always thought she was talking about someone else...

I thought about playing it again, to see if the mermaid would come back. I liked her. It wasn't her fault she tried to drown me. It was like that otter that loved the baby duckling, and tucked it under its armpit to swim around with it, until the poor little baby duck drowned. It was ignorance, and violent love. Very violent love.

A dark cloud blotted out the stars above me as the sea breeze puffed in gusts, gusts slamming the water against the rocks. It was a bit of a stormy night, wasn't it? A night for good boys and girls, fresh from a bath, to curl up under soft, downy sheets with a book and a warm glass of milk as the rain tickled the windowpanes outside. I'd had my adventure. Time to pocket the pan-pipe and head home.

You know, Mama didn't get to have a secret cave under her bedroom floor by playing it safe.

I grinned like the mermaid, put the pan-pipe to my lips, and blew.


The End.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Parable of the Gooberlator -- with apologies to Jesus

The kingdom of atheism is like a man who took his spaceship in for repairs and began to argue with the mechanic about the part he needed.

"I've never heard of a Gooberlator," he said. "I think you're putting me on."

Because there were no gooberlators in the shop, and because gooberlators are highly sensitive, tiny, and explosive nano tech nuclear fusion generators, neither the mechanic nor the owner of the spaceship could actually see a gooberlator. However, the mechanic had installed hundreds in the past using precision instruments and the Gooberlator Instruction Manual, and he'd also experienced the effect of The Gooberlator in his own life.

"How do I know you're not crazy?" The spaceship owner went on. "I'm just supposed to listen to your testimony of something I can't see?"

"You can read the Gooberlator Manual if you like…" said the mechanic, scratching his simple head.

"Written by men! Pah," said the spaceship owner.

"Well, you can't go into space without this part," shrugged the mechanic. "I don't know what else to tell you, feller--you'll blow up in a fiery inferno if you try. The quantum engine of your ship'll trap you in a horrific time paradox where your consciousness lives forever in the moment of the explosion."

"You'd damn me to eternal torment for not believing in your Gooberlator?" the spaceship owner gasped. "How cruel! How evil, to punish someone for what they don't have enough evidence to believe!"

"It's not…I mean…" The mechanic scratched his head. "What?"

"I shouldn't be punished for not believing in something I can't see!"

"But…with all due respect sir, innit your own fault if you go to space with the wrong equipment? I can't see gravity, Imma still goin' die if I jump off a cliff."

"I have experience with gravity. Everyone has. I've never experienced this gooberlator, and for all I know you're selling me something for no reason!"

"The Gooberlator is very expensive," the mechanic sighed. He'd spent nearly his whole life savings on his. "But no one's making you go to space."

The spaceship owner pointed out the window, enraged. "Yes they are! You know as well as I do all humanity's being forced to space after the Groknak accords!"

The mechanic looked outside at the destroyed planet earth, crawling with zombies, aliens, man-eating plants and such. Somewhere in the distance a harpy ate a guy, and a volcano erupted. "Oh, yeah, I forgot." He realized the spaceship owner was right, that truly in this world the only certainties are space and taxes. Space, with her scythe and hood, comes to us all. Space waits for no man. Oh space, where is your sting…

"Well, if you have to go to space, you have to have a gooberlator," said the mechanic.

"Look, there are as many spaceship parts and parts-sellers as there are world religions. How do I know your Gooberlator is the right one?"

"Well, I reckon you can do what I did and research them all. You'll have to buy a catalog about each part, and study it, and learn its function and the reasons it ultimately doesn't work as a life-saving nuclear stabilizer combo power-generator. You'll read a lot of debate, and you're right, there are liars out there who try to sell fake parts. That's why you do your homework, and find a trusted mechanic."

The spaceship owner honestly paused for a moment. He didn't need to tell the other what they both already knew: because of Earth's electro-pollution dome, there was no way to get communication from the refugees currently in space to find out how their ships had turned out. People were fleeing the planet almost as fast as they were being born, and they never came back. So all the research was very model-based, and even thinking about trying to do that much research made the space owner clearly dizzy.

The mechanic looked at the owner with kind eyes, and said, gently, "You know, you can sometimes tell how well these ships work by running them here in the atmosphere. It's not foolproof, but you could buy a gooberlator, and see how much better your ship holds up in storms, and how its glow lights up the night sky, and keeps you on a straight course when you don't know where to go. I love my Gooberlator. 'Course the experience is different for errybody. You can always return it later."

"I'm not gonna let you take my money and mess with my ship for anything that's not certain," said the owner. "And nobody like me has time for all that silly reading you're talking about--the Gooberlator Manual, plus all the other major texts in the world? My time is money!"

"I reckon if you take the time just to read the Gooberlator manual with an open mind, that'll be enough…"

"And if it's not?" the wanna-be spaceman scoffed. "I'd have to become a full-on mechanic to really know for sure!"

"You could just talk to your friends who got gooberlators, and see how they like 'em so far..."

"But anecdote means nothing!" The owner shouted.

The mechanic squinted. "Isn't that the way you pick most things, though? Your doctor, your lawyer, your lamp on Amazon Space Prime, even your vote for Evil Dictator Space President--don't you usually read some reviews, look up some tech specs, and talk to people who've experienced it to make the choice?"

The owner blinked. For a second, he realized his hypocrisy, but that made him uncomfortable so he quickly quoted something he'd seen once in an angry youtube rant: "Improbable claims require extraordinary evidence. Hmpf!"

The mechanic scratched his head again. "Who's deciding what's improbable, here? We live in a world where they're all growing pancreases in peetree dishes, talking to each other long-distance on little hand boxes, riding flying machines, building computers that almost act like people, and swapping their organs around between bodies. All of those things got called improbable at one time or another, so what makes the Gooberlator more improbable than the Higgs Boson?"

"People have seen the Higgs Boson!"

The mechanic rubbed his mustache, thoughtfully. "Are you sure? With their eyes?"

"Yes!"

"I…don't think that's true, and if it is, more people than've seen the Higgs Boson claim to have seen God--I mean, the Gooberlator. I reckon most of us don't have the eyes for that, though." The mechanic saw the spaceship owner about to open his mouth again, and it was way past lunchtime, and the mechanic had a long line of people waiting who did want gooberlators, so he decided to end the conversation. "I'm sorry, sir," he said. "I gotta get back to work."

"By all means, go! Don't try to sell me any more crap!"

The mechanic began to walk away, to take the grimy tunnel from the shop out to the garage. He paused at the magnetic door to look back over his shoulder. "You know, you will go to space one day, whether you're ready or not. Wouldn't it be better to do all that hard research now, and find the Gooberlator before it's too late?

Or do you really plan on coasting your whole life, and then taking off into the unknown without making sure you're truly prepared?"

Jen Finelli writes more offensive parables like this here and here. If you'd rather read horrorscience fiction, or literary flash, click on the word you prefer! Be warned that the horror is truly horrible, the science fiction is very nerdy, and the lit flash very experimental. This is the home of the weird. If you liked this story, please share! Wicked souls like Jen's feed off that kind of thing.



Friday, October 7, 2016

Flip Flap Floodle: A New "Classic" Nursery Tale

Hey guys! I just got finished reading Flip Flap Floodle by Joan Y. Edwards, a sweet little children's story for reading aloud to preschool/nursery age kids. It features a little duck who plays a flute, which is a pretty cute idea for a protagonist. The little duck meets many different kinds of people along his journey to musical greatness: those who are too busy with their own song to pay attention to him, those who recognize his talent and encourage him--and those who eat him.

"Wait, what?"

Yeah, no lie. That's one of the reasons I said this story would make a good addition to the classic repertoire of nursery rhymes. It's got that good old-fashioned scare you get from the three little pigs, or the original Red Riding Hood, and it's full of sweet little ditties and sounds that will make little kids laugh. It understands the consequence-free mentality of a child, while sharing the heartfelt themes parents might even need to hear again themselves (especially if you're a writer or an artist): never give up, and never stop playing your own little song.

Oh, and it's super-cute.

You can pick up Flip Flap Floodle on Amazon at the link above, and you should click on Joan's name to learn more about her! She's a very sweet, positive, and supportive person, and you can also read an interview with her here, where she shares some encouraging tips for burgeoning writers, and tells the story of how Flip Flap Floodle came to be. (Its origin is really sweet.)

Happy reading!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Artist Highlight: The artists of Oahu (My Travel Diary)

Hey there! Blog's been quiet for a bit, hasn't it?

Kewala Barim - Vida mia by Rebecca Snow


As you may have heard on twitter, I'm still pausing our Soul-Linker series to do some mental cleansing of the concept, but that will be back soon. In the meantime, I've been exploring some great art from across the USA (and the world), and I'd love to do a quick series celebrating artists!

For the first little highlight, I want to invite you to visit Hawaii through the images of Rebecca Snow and Patrice A. Federspiel. Both of these ladies immigrated to Hawaii from the mainland and fell so much in love with its colors and stories that they've dedicated their work to its beauties and become kama aina, or "of the land," which means they've completely adopted Hawaii as home over many years.

Rebecca specializes in tropical, multi-colored interpretations of the island's surfer girls, which are her most popular creations. She also enjoys translating views of her favorite spots on Oahu into splashes of orange, pinks, and all the other colors of laughter. Here are a few more of her pieces I have hanging in my home.

She labeled all the girls after ladies in our family!
These trees are my favorite.
You can buy Rebecca's art at several stores on the island--just ask the local art shop if they carry Rebecca Snow--or if you can find her online at rebeccasnowart.blogspot.com. On a personal note, Rebecca accomplishes her pieces despite fighting some tough medical battles, which makes the joy and exuberance in the images even more touching. It's much harder for self-employed artists to deal with things like health insurance, so whenever you purchase someone's art, you're contributing to their well-being, as well as your own.

Wellness and its association with color is a common thesis of Patrice's work. She sells most of her work with attached thoughts on personal well-being, occasionally sharing recipes as well, and in her personal life she gardens a portion of her own food. Her husband, Keanu, runs a tour guide service all around the island of Oahu, and I had the opportunity to enjoy some of his expertise and hospitality (for free? What?) while I was stationed there for military duty. Keanu's tours last the whole day, are fully customizable to riders' needs, and include literally any snacks and drinks (alcoholic or otherwise!) that riders request, at no extra charge. He's much more flexible (and his van can enter more hidden places) than any of the larger, more corporate tour services, which often only take you to a few scattered, well-known spots you could've found yourself. The best part of Keanu's tours? He gives away one of Patrice's prints to each rider. (Are you kidding me? Free art, yes please!) I picked up these little numbers on my trip.





These pictures, to me, really evoke feminine strength. I was really torn between the mountain-woman you see here and a glorious, sun-rise-evoking pineapple painting, which you can hopefully find online by visiting Patrice's website.

That brings me to another artist who celebrates female strength in Hawaii: Rose Adare. I didn't get to meet Rose, but I saw some of her pictures in an art gallery and I just wanted to share the find with you. You can see her art by clicking on the picture below!
At the same gallery I also got to see the work of Colin Redican. He's got some pictures with a slight Dali-esque surrealist quality, and his nudes are incredible and weird. You can find his work by clicking on his picture below:


And finally, I saw several pieces by Ed Furuike. His stunning landscapes are all done with a very impressionist-inspired style, and he's got one starry night that's really a Hawaiian-fusion Van Gogh. You can find him here:


Unfortunately, I lost the names of some of the other wonderful artists whose work I enjoyed, so you missed out there, but I'll try to collect more next time I go. In the meantime, check out Patrice and Rebecca, and let me know if you have some favorite Hawaiian artists you'd like me to highlight! Leave a note below!