Tag Archives: humor

Motley Microfiction: Abode of the Darned!

“Our unique corner of the afterlife was once part of our larger neighbor,” explained Damon, steering the New Arrivals Bus through Heck. “At first they considered the darnations typos, but over time we distinguished ourselves through mildly unpleasant torture of our clientele: rappists and pedophobes mostly, with your occasional grammar Nazi.

“Across our heckscape, the darned endure an eternity of daytime TV, Taco Bell, and N*Sync.”

Suddenly, a tire blew. “Dang it to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks! Fu–” shouted Damon. He clapped his hands over his mouth.

Too late. A maw opened beneath the bus, and from it, the smell of fudge…

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The road to Heck is paved with good intentions…

It’s been a while since my last microfiction, huh? Well, here’s something a bit goofy to start off your week!

Language and linguistics is an area of special interest to me, as both a writer and a professional in the world of literacy. One thing I find particularly interesting is the way “bad words”– that is, profanity or taboo words — operate in cultures around the world.

For example, I remember when I was learning my first non-native language, and how much we children loooooved learning all the naughty words in Italian. We would spend whole lunch breaks with our Italian-to-English dictionaries hunting down all the words we weren’t supposed to say in English, but were somehow okay in Italian because no one knew what we were saying.

There is something about separating the sounds and meanings that takes the sting out of those words.

I rather wonder if that’s why we have words like “darn” and “heck”, surrogate words that let us communicate frustration and anger without the full extent of the ill-will behind the words. After all, it’s not a very nice thing to wish hell or damnation on anyone.

But what if the intention carried over, anyway? What if all we’ve done is to wish a place called Heck into existence, and proceeded to darn everyone to it? And what if it’s filled with Grammar Nazis? Oh, the horrors!

What is your opinion on taboo words, and the funny things we say to avoid them? Got a favorite example?

Medical Microfiction: Vomeronasal organ

“Darling, I’m afraid I’ve made a terrible mistake,” said James in a strangled voice.

Cynthia set down her purse on the kitchen table between two adders and a rattlesnake, taking care not to disturb the squirming mass covering the floor. “So I see. Care to explain?”

James colored pink. “Ordered something homeopathic online. For our anniversary. Something to bring a little… spice into the bedroom.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Such as?”

He winced. “Pheromones. Must’ve broken in the mail. I took a nap and woke up as you’ve found me.” James jerked his chin toward the python encircling his body.

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An Indian cobra in a basket with a snake charm...
He’s a snake, but I hear he’s a real charmer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also called Jacobsen’s Organ (stop snickering!), the vomeronasal organ (a.k.a. the VNO) is a primitive and perhaps vestigial scent organ located at the base of the nasal cavity. In other animals, its primary purpose is to detect pheromones. Evidence is shaky on whether we humans get much use out of ours. Compared to other mammals that rely on scent much more strongly than us, ours is underdeveloped, and tends to shrink while we’re still in fetal development.

Snakes, however, undoubtedly get a lot of use out of their VNOs. You know that whole tongue-flickering thing they do? That’s part of their pheromone-sensing system. When they retract their tongues, they touch it to their VNOs, thus transferring the tasty, tasty hormones to their nervous system for sampling. Deeelicious! Moral of the story: you may not want to buy products with pheromones in them. You might attract the wrong kind of attention!

In writing-related news, I have been participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, since the start of November, which has led to a drop in my blogging. I try to get at least one post out a week, but keeping pace with my word count quota has taken up all the writing time I can usually find in a day. The good news is that in December, I should be able to catch up on a ton of posts that I’m excited to share with you, so stay tuned!

Motley Microfiction: Girls With Guns

The night’s broken by frenzied clack-clack-clacking. French Couture Barbie leads the charge, flanked by her lieutenants, Lifeguard Barbie and Olympic Skater Barbie.

And they’re all clutching little pink assault rifles in perfectly manicured hands.

They cover ground on painfully long legs, running on heels and tippy-toes. Long hair snaps like flags. Those eyes never blink, those smiles harden at the corners.

Schoolteacher Barbie floors the Dream Car. Riding shotgun, Astronaut Barbie operates the turret. Wheelchair Barbie lobs grenade after grenade from the periphery.

Stewardess Barbie, old and worn, hops along one-legged with a flamethrower and dares anyone to disrespect her.

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Last week, the Barbies descended on the Jones household.

It started when a friend of mine asked to leave something at our house for a mutual friend to pick up later. Much to my amusement, she carried in a couple large boxes full of Barbie dolls, still in their packaging.

So tell me, what would YOU do in a situation like this?

Jason’s approach was to build a tower of sparkly princess goodness out of them, which you can see on his blog here.

Me? I chose to write a commemorative drabble, of course!

While I find Barbies inherently funny as an adult (French Couture Barbie – LOL!), I wanted to capture a sense of dignity for the poor things in today’s story. They’re condemned to a frozen existence, always poised and smiling no matter what may really be going on beneath the surface.

I think they’re ripe for a revolution.

GI Joe better watch his back.

Motley Microfiction: Canny Maggie

Nessie’d goon belly-up in the Loch.

“Nessie’s deid!” cried the seven Alisdair lads.

“Dunderheids, haud yer wheesht!” said canny Maggie. “The tourists gonny be here soon. Take ‘er oot o’ the Loch.”

Malcom, nae one to footer about, flayed Nessie’s hide clear off. The Alisdair lads formed the lang neck while their seven sisters sewed them in. Maggie clouted ‘em, arse-first, into the watter, where they bobbed about like blootered choobs.

The lads took a maddy, neck and limbs flailin’ about. The bus arrived. The tourists, none th’wiser, took pictures o’ Malcom’s arse.

All’s fish that comes to the net!

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English: Apparently a sighting of the Loch Nes...
Nessie. The middle lump is Malcom’s arse! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Call this story the Loch Ness Monster meets Voltron: “I’ll form the long, skinny neck!” It pays when people work together for the common good, even if that good is duping tourists out of their money. They paid to see Nessie, dangit, so Nessie’d better make an appearance!

Really, though, this was just my excuse to browse websites chock full of Scottish dialect words. Can you figure them out without looking them up? Like every good dialect, there were a plethora of, well, “colorful” terms of a rude nature that I wish I could’ve found an excuse to use. Instead, though, you’re stuck with a tame rendition!

I do apologize to Scotland, however, for what is probably terrible usage of the words I did include. It’s so hard to write accurate dialogue for a dialect that I don’t already speak. I always love reading well-written regional accents, but I worry about being disrespectful if I try to recreate them myself.

For today’s piece, in addition to referencing some dialect dictionaries and checking on how the words are used in context, I spent some time reading the poems of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns to get the feel. Check out “Tam O’Shanter”, one of my personal favorites, if you enjoy poetry.

Do any of you writers out there like to write in a dialect from time to time? What do you do to ensure accuracy, and more importantly, what’s your favorite strategy for dealing with dead Loch Ness Monsters when YOU run across ’em?

Motley Microfiction: Smonday

I slipped sideways into the space between Saturday and Sunday.

That’s where you can pawn away your weekend goals for extra time: your three-quarters-finished steampunk novel (stalled at Chapter 13), blueprints for the shed (mouldering since Christmas), a sincere apology to Sarah (drafted but undelivered), the ‘64 Barracuda you mean to restore (running to rust in the driveway).

Things you’d do if you could find the time.

“Buying time?” asked the pawnbroker.

“Nope. Redeeming.” I flourished my Z’s, a chainsaw orchestra’s worth, scraped together from a lifetime of mortgaged hobbies.

If you play your hand right, Monday will never come.

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Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, also known as Leadb...
Cockatoo: a self-portrait of myself before I started reading Eric’s blog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ah, unfortunately for me, Monday did come, because here we are. But what a great Monday! I had an awesome weekend as things stand. Got to spend time with some wonderful friends, work on my writing projects, and had an unexpected encounter with internet awesomeness (long story there).

To top it all off, I wake up this morning and see this post on my friend Eric Alagan’s blog naming Medical Microfiction as his blog pick of the month! Just… wow! I admit it: I got all teary-eyed. Eric is a writer himself, and a gifted one to boot, with a range that spans from deep and contemplative to silly and hilarious. You’re already following his blog, right? …Right? Because, if you’re not, I should warn you that not-following-Eric’s-blog can cause Vitamin D deficiency, and may lead to delusions that you’re a cockatoo. Just sayin’.

I’m headed out the door now, but later today I’ve got plans to finally put together a “Best-Of” list of posts for anyone who’s new to these here parts and wants to get a sample of what we’re all about, and for longtime readers who’d like to revisit some old favorites.

Happy Monday, all, and may you redeem those weekend goals with extra time you didn’t know you had.

Motley Microfiction: Catastrophe

Everyone’s gotta die somehow. Umet died flinging cat food at strays at 2AM, which isn’t a safe thing to do in your car while topping 90.

Welcome, thrummed a thousand purring voices. Last thing Umet remembered was faceplanting the telephone pole. Now it was a swarm of cats.

“Where am I?” he asked. “What happened?”

It not total useless. We has accept its worships. Seize action of divert from traditioning sapiens afterlife.

“I don’t understand.”

The cat swarm parted, and Umet noticed the lounge chair.

It sittings. Pleasures cat forevers. Welcome!

Claws plucked at his pant leg. Like licking flames.

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Cats Eyes
That wide-eyed innocence hides an evil plan to rule your lap for all eternity. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I wrote this piece after hearing a friend’s story of someone who drives around at night feeding stray cats. I love the fact that someone like this really exists, don’t you? He strikes me as a sort of cat Batman (Catman?), champion of the strays, and I’m sure that powerful forces of karmic feline alignment are taking note.

But that raises another question: if cats have their own afterlife, and their gods decided to reward you, how would these rewards stack up to what the human afterlife has to offer? Every cat I’ve met leads me to believe that for cats, Heaven would be a weird and wacky place, dominated by strings and laser pointers and nice, warm laps.

Someone’s got to provide that lap, y’know. Poor Umet. Let’s all thank him for taking one for the team.

Want more cat stories? Check these out:

Medical Microfiction: Diaphragmatic Aponeurosis

Making New Friends

Nolan had friends. Nolan had loads of friends. 1,224, to be exact.

Whenever he threw parties, he invited all 1,224 of them and received 1,224 RSVPs.

Of course, this always meant one hell of a grocery run. It took Nolan three trips to schlep all the 2-liters of Shasta, cocktail wieners, and pizza bites home in his hatchback.

8PM came and went, but nobody showed.

Later, Nolan brooded over his Facebook list of 1,224 disappointments.

Oh, well. Time to make new friends.

He clicked the “new account” button and got to work on Friend# 1,225. Maybe this one wouldn’t disappoint.

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I’m very excited about today’s medical term, because it’s an anatomical feature I learned about in my Anatomy of Speech class fairly recently. The diaphragmatic aponeurosis, also known as the central tendon, is a strong band of material located in the center of the diaphragm muscle. Together with the rest of the diaphragm, it forms a floor upon which your lungs and heart sit inside your rib cage, and plays a major role in pumping air into and out of your lungs.

The diaphragm. Under surface. Quadratus lumbor...
The diaphragm. The white part’s the aponeurosis. Not pictured: Nolan’s 1,224 friends. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While most other tendons in the body connect muscle to bone, the diaphragmatic is unique in that it connects a muscle (the diaphragm) to itself, allowing it to form a roundish shape while still allowing for several large passageways through the middle, so that you can both eat and breathe without the two interfering with one another.

Have you figured out how Nolan factors into this picture?

Much like the diaphragmatic aponeurosis: he only connects with himself.

*Rimshot*

Get it? Get it…? Hey, why aren’t you laughing?!

I hope this finds you better connected than the central tendon, and without a car filled with Shasta. Later this week I’m hoping to have another “Anatomy of a Sentence” feature out, so keep your eyes peeled!

Medical Microfiction: Terminologia Anatomica

Dr. Howell tapped twice on a white band of ligament, directing his students’ attention to the cadaver’s belly. “The abdominal aponeurosis. Covers the rectus abdominis and compresses the viscera.”

Pencils scribbled. Heads bobbed.

“Moving on… Larry, switch to a deep view, please.”

“Sure thing, Doc!” With both hands the cadaver wrenched back another layer of muscle, exposing his innards.

“Note the positions of the internal viscera,” Dr. Howell continued. “The large intestine is especially good eating on a live human. People make a big deal out of the brains, but I say go straight for the guts. Less competition.’

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Steaks on a grill
Your organs from a zombie’s perspective.

I think lots of people could benefit from learning more about human anatomy – I’m writing this blog, after all! – but no one could benefit more than our friends the zombies. I mean, if you’re going to spend your days hunting down tasty, tasty humans, you could save yourself a lot of time and effort on the eating if you know how to bypass that pesky ribcage to get to the tasty bits within.

Terminologia Anatomica, which literally means “Anatomical Terminology,” is the book that sets the international standards for medical terminology. It’s where many of the definitions on this blog came from. This illustrious volume was published in 1998, and has allowed countless students, medical professionals, and amateur writers to confuse the general public when we say things like, “Serratus anterior’s assisting the external intercostals in respiration by forcing air through the larynx and causing the vocal folds to oscillate, producing phonation.”

Yeah. We talk real good.

Happy Friday, wherever and whenever this finds you! It’s been a good week here in the Jones household, as my mother-in-law received a long-awaited kidney transplant just two days ago and is recovering nicely. Organ donation saves lives, folks, and if you’re not already a donor, I’d encourage you to join up.

Otherwise, the zombies’ll get you.

Motley Microfiction: Revision History

When Danny turned eight, reality warped. All the dinosaurs un-extincted, schools imploded, and broccoli went AWOL, preserved in our minds only as a sense of relief at its absence.

By 2018, the year of his surprise World Cup victory, Danny’s army of naked babes overran everything: Hogwarts, Asgard, Gondor, Irkutsk, Canada, and Narnia. Even the Jedi Council obeyed him.

As we hated him, so we loved our god-king.

We know how he did it, of course. The problem’s the anonymity. Without knowing which Wikipedia articles he edited, we can’t be sure what changed, or even who existed before his coming.

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Fifa world cup org
Don’t YOU remember when Danny won the World Cup? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love Wikipedia. It’s one of the best worldwide collaborations to arise from the internet. By allowing anyone to edit while simultaneously enforcing and rewarding proper research and adherence to an academic standard, the Wikipedia has put together a body of knowledge that covers a breadth and depth that no single encyclopedia to date has managed.

Of course, the downside to  Wikipedia is how much we come to rely upon it for quick answers. It’s only a problem when we read an article that’s not so rigorously put together, and come to accept things that are either untrue or biased. Such implicit trust is not a wise habit, but it’s hard to resist when Wikipedia is just so dang convenient.

In today’s story, Danny literally has the ability to bend reality by editing Wikipedia articles. What lazy teen wouldn’t love that superpower? Of course, the world would look much weirder if shaped by the whims of a child in this way. We’d definitely have more awesome dinosaurs, and I’d imagine the plots of several movies and books would come true. Oh, well! Best to pack our bags for Hogwarts and enjoy the ride!

So you tell me: what would the world look like if you could change it by editing Wikipedia? What fictions would become fact, and what facts fiction? How would the past and future change? And what role would you write for yourself?

Motley Microfiction: Truth in Avatar-zing

They met on the forum as Stasis17 and ScaryBearyGurl. In time, they found common ground: their corporate wage-slave jobs, their bad luck with relationships, an irrational proclivity for Nic Cage movies.

Let’s meet, ScaryBearyGurl wrote one day. I’m Kiley.

Name’s Bruce, he replied. I hope you’re not disappointed. I haven’t been completely honest with you. His tour in Iraq, he explained, had taken both legs.

The next day, she spotted his wheelchair in the coffee shop. He was handsome. “Bruce,” she called, but when he saw her, he screamed.

Kiley looked exactly like her avatar: a monstrous zombie Care Bear.

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Scary bear wear
And sometimes, you make friends with one very scary bear. (Photo credit: wili_hybrid)

I’m crawling out of study-hibernation this afternoon to bring you this little story, my own send-up to that wonderful and strange phenomenon I like to call “internet friendships”.

The first real friendships I formed with people on the ‘net came about during my MMO phase years and years ago. I remember fondly the novelty of talking with people from around the world and gradually to share in each other’s daily struggles and triumphs, all mediated through a common hobby. While internet friends will never replace face-to-face friendships, this special category of relationship made possible through technological advances is still worth celebrating.

The thing I love most about the friends I’ve made on the internet is how geographical location doesn’t matter. As a person who’s moved quite a bit in my short life, it’s amazing to live in an age where distance doesn’t have to be a factor anymore. If you move lots, you don’t have to say goodbye to everyone. When you arrive in a new town, your social circle may even precede you.

How about you? Do you enjoy friendships with people you meet online? Have any of ’em resembled their avatars in unfortunate ways?