Thursday, April 14, 2005

This is 15-Minutes: The Mightier Pen

A friend of mine wrote about writing stories based on our friends. The catch is that it has to be written in fifteen minutes or less. Why not?

For this one, the rules followed were:
The basic plot was thought of beforehand.
Spelling and basic grammar was corrected after.
No rephrasing or rewording.

Fred awoke to the needles of morning light piercing into his eyelids. He took a deep breath and groaned out his futile denial of the day’s arrival.

He sat up on the bed and reached for his pack of cigarettes on the window sill. He lit up, took a long drag, and watched the smoke snake its way through his exhausted vision.

He felt so tired. What time did he go to bed, he unsuccessfully tried to
recall. It wasn’t like he was out all night. Not last night at any rate. He just dropped of his girlfriend Shannon at her place then went on home.

He had a deadline to meet today with his editor. The old man was waiting for a chapter on mysterious deaths. Fred just wrote something about a couple found dead after watching a complete Star Trek series. One of his friends, Chris, a real Trekie, just got a batch of DVDs. So Fred just wrote off that.

He winced as his phone rang. He felt numb shortly after. Chris and his wife were found barely alive in their den, almost dead from asphyxiation.

The cigarette dropped to the floor unnoticed.

Not at all original, but I think I'll do this more often.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Child's Eyes

Last weekend, I went to a mall close to my apartment. I meant to just get lunch and a haircut but I found myself in a small music store. This store is one of a rare breed here. Bins full of pirated music and movies crowd the floors of a mall just next door. It's no wonder at all that stores selling original music get crowded out.

The ones that do survive are quite selective in their merchandise. They can't hope to break even on sales of original Avril Lavigne and Jennifer Lopez albums.

I was in no hurry, so I decided to stay and look over all the albums they had for sale. It was a small store, with only a couple of small racks for CDs. It was then that I noticed something odd about how the items were arranged.

Elvis, Eminem, and Enya.

George Thorogood, Fleetwood Mac, and Hoobastank.

The other rack was for live recordings. I noticed some of Peter Frampton albums mingled with a couple from Portishead.

Yes, they were all arranged alphabetically by artist.

There were more that a few that I wasn't familiar with. But for the ones I was familiar with, I knew that in their own time and in their own niche, they stood out.

It was truly amazing to see them all together. It's not a sight I would have seen if the store had a larger collection and, consequently, its items were arranged by genre.

I managed to pick out what I wanted, Joni Mitchell's Hits and Paul Simon's Graceland.

I may just go back for George Thorogood and Pink Floyd.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A nationally stereotypical scene at a bar with an international crowd could go this way.

A group of friends are sitting around a table, trading tales over mugs of cold beer.

It's the Australian's turn, and he starts out with One time, my mates and I went out drinking.... The word pints, plural and never ever singular, and the statement We're not sure how we got there, really. would be somewhere in the story. Possibly more than once.

The Italian, just back from the men's room after fixing his hair, finds himself without a seat. It had been taken without a word by the Chinese guy over in the next table.

The Englishman checks his watch and decides it's time to get a curry. He calls over the Filipino waiter.

The American asks for a cheeseburger and is apologetically told that this establishment does not have cheeseburgers in its menu. Aggravated by the Indonesians chain-smoking behind him, he bitterly questions the place's legitimacy and decency.

The Egyptian didn't make it to the bar. He got delayed getting out of the airport due to some very thorough questioning by Immigration.

The friends pile into a cab later in the evening. Thankfully, one of them manages to give intelligible, if alcohol-tinged, directions to the Indian driver.

No thinking individual should stand by stereotypes. On the other side, it's easy enough to see how they can be sustained. Just try keeping up with Aussies in any bar in all the world or watching the Italian national soccer team during the World Cup qualifiers. And there's always Lucky Plaza.

I've managed not to have been recognized as a Filipino. I was in a suit and tie and I wasn't serving the drinks and appetizers. The ideal would be if we can be equally known for manning desks and cleaning toilets, with both diligence and dignity.

Well, there is no reason to abandon all hope. It was fish and chips before curry, and convicts before alcoholics.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Interesting Stories 1

One of the more unique dazed and confused stories I've heard:

A friend of mine used to work with a mining company. They had a project in a remote location in Laos, fairly close to the Thai border.

While their living conditions were comfortable, the only available comforts that didn't involve driving several dozen kilometers through dense vegetation were what could be had in the camp. After-work activities settled into a routine of gathering together with his mates and applying generous volumes of alcohol to numb their sense of boredom.

One evening, one of the guys whipped out a batch of cookies. These were goodies he baked himself, and liberally laced with weed he likewise hand-picked.

My friend decided to play safe and only consumed half a cookie. Within the half hour, he thought it prudent to lock himself in his room. He spent the rest of the evening trying to convince himself that all those shifting colors and sliding movements weren't all that bad.

He managed to stagger out into the fresh air the next morning. He spied the camp medic, one of his companions the previous evening, hooking himself up to a bag of IV fluid. It was an effective way to quickly rid yourself of a hangover.

As it turned out, the two of them got off comparatively lightly. A bit later in the day, they watched as another of their companions shuffled back into camp, half-dressed but fully-packed. He thought, the previous night, that the bad men were attacking and out to get all of them. His immediate thought was of escape. He awoke in the sunshine, alone and out in the jungle, with a backpack worth of canned beans and tools.