Toothbrush

A fun exercise:

The Skeleton (from: What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers)

Write a ‘mini-story’ that features a character on a quest for something important or specific. On this quest, the character meets an obstacle. The character then triumphs or overcomes the obstacle by magic or supernatural means that comes from the outside. You can have minor characters, but never abandon the main character. The story should be told primarily in the form of action and dialogue. Limit to a page or two.

Here’s mine:

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Ghostbusters

Often when I’m driving here and there and a Taylor Swift song pops up on the radio (which, let’s face it, is often), I begin cataloguing all the visual gaffes that accompany her songs. The latest is the whitewashed “Africa” of her music video for “Wildest Dreams,” defended vigorously, and thereby made worse, by the video’s director on Twitter.

I ponder to myself: “Couldn’t that be a job? Just to review media before it gets released and let people know when they’re committing any number of egregious, indefensible faux pas that capitalize on the worst aspects of human history/present reality—colonialism, slavery, racism, sexism, etc.? You review the video concept and go, first things first, that sounds so great, but, and I’m just brainstorming here, maybe do a serious rethink on the whitewashing of whole continents.”

It can never be said that I don’t have the entrepreneurial instinct. But how strong is it? Perhaps if the most basic cultural sensitivity were at all necessary to drive a profit in the entertainment industry, then the position would have already given way to a business plan.

And so, inevitably, I give up on the idea. But the question remains: really?

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A Love Story*

The alarm began to sound on his Android just as the sun peered through the tattered blind into his face in a moment of curious synergy. The blind had been partially wrested from its perch atop the window in a drunken stupor, but hadn’t seemed like a significant domestic downgrade until the arrival of this inconvenient side effect.

Aware that he had five other alarms waiting in 10-minute intervals, he leapt his arm across the tattered bedspread, straining to swipe right on the frantic clock imagery now glaring in his face.

Somewhat awake, he peered at the popcorn ceiling and wafted malaise upward to greet every kernel. At first, he thought the position might be a satisfactory way to spend the rest of the day, but as the next alarm began to sound he remembered the date.

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Imprecise Art

On Jan 1, I engaged in some at-risk cliché behavior, scooping up three self-improvement volumes from my local Barnes & Noble:

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person (Shonda Rhimes)

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination (J.K. Rowling)

 What Color Is Your Parachute? 2016 (Richard N. Bolles)

I felt especially ashamed of that last one, save for its fabulous blue cover. The second isn’t even really a book, but rather a commencement speech printed in book form prolonged by half-hearted illustrations and designed to trick gullible customers such as, as it turns out, myself.

I devoured each, until I got to the petal activity in Parachute. Was the problem that it represented too much laborious introspection or that the book would not commit to the central metaphor suggested in its title?

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Rosie Reads Volume 1

Being in a new place seems to invite reading. You don’t yet know your daily rhythm, or where you want to go when that rhythm slows down without notice. There’s so much to do but then there’s down time not filled by a clearly established routine.

This is all a fancy way of saying: OMG I read two books!

The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan

Last Sunday, browsing Barnes & Noble with the full knowledge that I already had a pile of books at home waiting to be read, and that I always purchase too many books, I moved from the section marked “Gifts” into the dangerous territory of “New Arrivals.”

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it’s pretty hard to ignore the striking sartorial image of Marina Keegan on the face of The Opposite of Loneliness.

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Crafting

As he sat down, his trousers creased and called his attention to a rather insidious wrinkle in the brown cotton fabric. It had crawled over his thigh, and, as he followed its trajectory, he discovered that it had in fact branched out into three others toward the back of his leg.

Scaling back his perspective, it became evident that the pants were wrinkled to hell all over.

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The Internet’s Own Boy: Criminal or Just a Digital Humanist?

A few weeks ago, I went to see a documentary that dealt with themes that I considered largely foreign to me: coding, hacktivism, and, perhaps most broadly, The Internet as an entity that can be conceptualized as well as politicized (and not just roamed around upon until some pesky coffee shop time limit brings everything to a screeching halt).

The film was called “The Internet’s Own Boy,” directed by Brian Knappenberger. It follows the dually inspiring and heartbreaking story of Aaron Swartz, who tragically took his life amidst a federal investigation involving the mass downloading of academic articles from JSTOR.

If you’re in academia like me, that last part probably piqued your attention.

An investigation surrounding the massive downloading of papers from JSTOR?

JSTOR?

…..

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