Prompt: A Bartender’s Best Night Ever
Words: airport, appreciate, curve, grumpy, ruthless, record, nerve, acoustics, alarm, expert
“You could make a whole lot more money elsewhere, you know that, right, Nikki?” The patron slurred his words.
“I appreciate your concern, but I do just fine right here.” Nikki smiled tightly as she wiped the curve of a glass. “Besides, the acoustics in this place are a lot more soothing than a downtown club.”
“If I hit a nerve, I apologize.”
Nikki continued smiling. She never thought she’d end up as an airport bartender, but here she was, an expert in calming grumpy travelers with the liberal dosing of alcohol. But she hadn’t lied. She did prefer the overhead Musak and even CNN headlines to bass-heavy techno beats, and belligerent drunks tended to be flight attendants’ problem.
“Help! Stop! Security!” The alarm raised, and everyone leapt to their feet. “Help!”
Nikki saw the blur of movement, and without realizing it began to move. She shouted for everyone to stay where they were as she leapt into action. As the fleeing perpetrator approached checking behind him, she crouched, planted, and lashed out with the heavy vodka bottle. She took the person out at the ankles, ruthlessly sacrificing the bottle. Security and airport police descended in seconds followed by the victim.
“OMG! It’s…” The name was lost in delighted squeals and screams. Nikki melted back into the bar.
Later, when the furor died down and her bar empty, she heard her name. She pulled up the photo. Recording artist, movie star, and celebrity draped across her in the selfie. A wad of cash as a thank you.
Not bad for a typical day at the office.
Word Count: 266
Since I’ve been kicking deadline behinds but not taking names, I’m going to get a blog post in today – before Wednesday is completely over. I finished an essay due on Halloween and got it turned in. Don’t know if it’ll suit, but it’s done 0 to 1600 words start to finish. That’s something right there. It’s a major step in the correct direction – onwards and upwards.
Some of the distractions that I’ve probably over-indulged in includes Murdoch Mysteries which is a lovely indulgement (Go, Team George!) of a world where one Canadian police detective in 1895-1905 (ish) invented everything around forensic science. But one of the things I love a lot about it is that the writers bring in real Candanian historical figures (and US ones as well), like LM Montgomery – the author of Anne of Green Gables, or Clara Brett Martin – first female lawyer in the British Empire. I only know about some of these figures, like Carrie A. Nations, because of the other indulgement…
Stuff You Missed in History Class and Stuff You Should Know both are amazing podcasts that have been giving me all kinds of interesting tidbits and plot bunnies. They’re very entertaining and educational podcasts, which doesn’t immediately help with the distractions – plot bunnies are both useful and an annoyance when there are other things to be done.
But the podcasts have made my commutes and some of my afternoon walks more interesting. I’m unsubscribing from one of the podcasts I listen to because I’m finding topics and guests hosts less than gripping (and in some ways annoying). So I’m open to suggestions for a new podcast. I already listen to Writing Excuses, Talk Nerdy, and LeVar Burton Reads — all so so good. So what do you find distracting? It’s okay, a distraction can also be an inspiration.
It’s been a weird day – both busy yet unproductive – and it’s yoga night AND I have an essay to submit tomorrow (written just needs a quick editing pass) so little to no time today. So I picked an older pen review of a Halloween Themed novelty pen (that I should see if I can dig out of the Pit of Desk-pair). There’s a whole lot of getting back on track that I need to do now that I no longer have excuses, but for now… A repeat performance…
This Halloween Season, I’m featuring a novelty pen I found at Walgreens. This one is a “Broom Pen”. It’s a plastic body that looks like wood with the old fashioned broom end. It called to me from the seasonal aisle.
This inexpensive pen is too much fun. For a ballpoint, it actually writes pretty well. It’s longer than your typical ballpoint. It’s probably 8” long with the broom end, but it isn’t overbalanced that much. It can be a bit unwieldy if you’re not careful, but for a silly pen, it’s darned functional.
The honest part? The broom end sheds. So you’ll get stuff everywhere. But this isn’t about long-term use. It’s about giggling when you use a novelty. It can also be a fun threat. “Don’t make me get out the witch pen!” I’m actually thinking about picking up a couple of more so I still have one or three when they start looking ragged.
For a novelty pen, I really do like this one. It actually has a pretty smooth ink and line. It’s probably a 1.0mm but doesn’t glop much to make it seem like a bigger tip. If you like this kind of thing, it’s fun. And it doesn’t have to be for Halloween, it can be simply an “Autumn” pen. But, yeah…
Now to the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 0.5 It’s decent. For the length and price point, it works pretty well. It’s a ballpoint. It’s a cheap ballpoint. And it is what it is.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, no grip pen. Like the platypus, it doesn’t do much. Because it’s longer than normal, it can overbalance and probably fatigue some for long use..
3. Material – 1 For an inexpensive plastic pen, it’s solidly built. The broomstick end sheds, but come on, to be expected since it’ll get beaten up.
4. Overall Design – 1 -I’m giving it a high mark because it’s the most fun novelty pen I’ve found in a while, and I want more of them. That makes me think it’s got a pretty good overall design.
5. Price Point – .1 – It’s 99 cents at Walgreens. That might be a little high for someone buying something as a novelty for a few weeks. But I don’t think so. I’m willing to pay a buck for something that makes me giggle.
4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Prompt: Circus Performers are People, Too
Words: confrontation, clap, coach, zoom, lumber, clumsy, digestion, letter, giant, whip
“This case is going to mess with my digestion, isn’t it, Clay?” Judge Ines Neal rubbed her eyes and closed the file.
“I couldn’t say, your honor.”
Ines couldn’t hide a smile. Clay Page, her stalwart bailiff, never offered an opinion on her mini-rants or complaints, but he could whip a courtroom in shape with a clap of his hands and a stern look.
“We might as well get this over with. Ines had no idea what to expect when she entered the courtroom. The giant sitting just behind the defendant’s table was new. The defendant was clean and well-dressed even if vivid tattoos flickered out of her collar. She’d obviously had a good image coach.
Ines tried to zoom through the complaint and opening arguments. She wanted to get to the witness testimony. IF there was going to be any heated confrontations that would be the time. The first witness was a clown, clumsy in large shoes but not in his impassioned pleas. The tumbler’s testimony erupted in an avalanche of words. Then after a series of more mundane experts and arguments, it was time.
“I appreciate the time and effort everyone has put into this,” she said. “But the letter of the law is clear. Though contracts are binding for terms of employment, they’re not meant to restrict personal freedom. And make no mistake, these are people not property. Find for the defendants. If they want to terminate their employment, they can. They’re not owned by the show. Damages to be determines tomorrow.”
Word Count: 235
After a brief “vacation” – as in four days of recharging by unplugging – I’m getting my rhythm back. It’s still a little syncopated, but it’s getting there. Which is good because I have a deadline rapidly approaching. I’ve been working on it, but it needs to be finished and submitted. We’ll see how things go.
This is coming a bit late today because after taking four days off, my days are all askew. Yesterday was a Big Ole Stinky Monday for me. Today had the early leanings that I kinda forgot it was Wednesday (and a lunch meeting threw me off a bit as well). But here we are, figuring out if there’s anything pithy to say.
And while I try to come up with that pithy…something or other…our dogs are rampaging about the house in the cutest manor. Which is quite distracting and a bit loud but adorable. But distractions like this are fleeting because the rampaging only happens for like 5 minutes before they’re crashed out tired.
One of the cool things about one of the tasks I’m working on at the Day Job is seeing what people’s names – and I kid you not, some of them sound very, very alien. Whether it’s from other cultures or just creative spellings, I keep meaning (and need to not have good intentions) to write some of them down for future character names because that’s my biggest weakness – naming things and people.
Such a weakness that I’ve had stories stall out on me because I don’t know what to call a person, place, or thing. I don’t think I’m alone in that. It too a while (and sometimes it’s still a struggle) to be able to draw a line or leave a space and continue on with the story and not let myself get bogged down by something that may or may not be consequential.
Wow…that’s almost LIFE ADVICE right there. Don’t let yourself (myself, whatever) get bogged down by something that may or may not be consequential. As someone who dwells (okay, wallows) in stuff and finds it hard to sometimes let things go…that’s MY “life lesson” to start practicing.
So… let’s get back to writing and not getting bogged down. (If I make it a mantra maybe my psyche will stop laughing when I say/type that line).
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Star Trek girl. I grew up on it. I learned storytelling from it. My first FanGirl crush was on DeForest Kelly as Dr. McCoy. BUT…BUT…I have a lot more Star Wars STUFF. I like Star Wars, I do. It’s mindblowing what it’s been able to accomplish and invent, and since the beginning, George Lucas (and now Disney) has seen the giant cash register that is merchandising. Star Trek and Paramount NEVER did get that concept. At least not to the level that Star Wars did, or this would be a much different blog post.
Today’s review is on the BIC Star Wars Collection. I saw the press release – like a month ago – that was sent out, then was patient until this weekend when I found a still-open Office Max in Tyler, TX that not only had the upper scale Shaeffer Star Wars merchandise (a future blog post) AND the newly arrived BIC line (so new that Russell, one of the gentlemen working there didn’t know they’d been put out – like within the hour we got there). I did buy one of everything – still debating keeping them in packaging or busting them open. Oh, who are we kidding. I might end up getting a second set to leave in packaging, but we all know I’m busting into these.
BIC has put out a basic line of pens, pencils, and highlighters in the theme. The four-pack of black ballpoint pens are designed with both Alliance and Empire logos in a medium (likely 1.0mm) point. The four-pack of 0.7mm mechanical pencils are two Empire, two Alliance with characters and symbols. The two-pack of highlighters are yellow with Chewbacca on them. The only design with one offs are the four-color multi-pens. One design is Darth Vader; one is Yoda – both are medium point.
So..whether you are Dark Side or Jedi, there’s something in this collection for everyone – and being classic BIC, they’re not overly expensive (more than your typical BIC sticks). The four packs were about $4 each as were the highlighters. The four-color were $5.99? You can keep or share.
1. How does it work? – 1 – I am going to say these are typical BIC pens and pencils, they will work the way the BIC pens and pencils work.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – There are no ergonomics. There are no grips. They are what they are.
3. Material – 1 They’re basic plastic with cool designs.
4. Overall Design – 1 – They’re fun, functional, and if you’re a fan, or a kid or kid-at-heart, it won’t matter.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – For basic BIC, they’re not the cheapest, but they’re not overpriced for being themed for Star Wars. Between $4-$6 for whichever one you get. I don’t believe the whole set cost more than $25-$30 – which is cheaper than a lot of potentially collectable things.
4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Prompt: First Love
Words: Dog walker, observe, frightful, broken, curvy, wooden, violet, rabbit, stamp, maze
“What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I show you these?” Dr. Bennett held a stack of cards in her lap.
“Maze. Rabbits running. Aww, a broken squeaky toy.”
Dr. Bennett put down the cards with a heavy sigh. “I can’t continue with this. You’re hopeless.”
Violet gazed at Dr. Bennett with large, soulful brown eyes. “But…but I thought we were making progress.”
“We were, but I can’t put a stamp of approval on your evaluation unless we can achieve a breakthrough.”
“What’s the problem?” Violet jumped to her feet, planting fists on hips, pulling her “Dog Walkers Do It With A Leash” shirt tighter across her curvy frame. “Why not?”
“From what I observe you have a frightfully close connection with your dogs.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Violet paced the wooden-paneled office. She pointed to frames. “You have dogs. You know that connection.”
“I do.” Bennett’s tone was guarded. “But this isn’t about me and my dogs. It’s about you.”
“Spit it out, Doc. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is you want me to clear you for space travel, but you’ll have to choose space or dogs. And deep down we both know your first love.”
Word Count: 204
Oh, hey, look. It’s Wednesday. I’m taking some time off this weekend to unplug and recharge (long overdue). Actual time off not just go from one high energy event to another – again LONG overdue. I was one of those people who thought “self-care” was one of those “selfish” new agey concepts that wasn’t a “proper” use of time.
Um… yeah. I’m rethinking that. 😎 I’m also to a (new-to-me) point that I don’t have to hoard paid time off (or work extra hours in advance) in order to make sure I can get to conventions/events without getting dinged financially – and in a secure-enough feeling job that that stupid fear of “Oh, they’re going to figure out they don’t need me if I’m not there” is behind me after WAY, WAY too many years and experiences. I am going to take time off and ENJOY IT. Maybe one day take an ACTUAL VACATION (I’ve heard other people talk about this strange concept…time to experience it). We will start with time off – limited phones, no internet – pen and paper and a pile of reading material (hard copy and digital).
I have some writing projects that are niggling at my returning brainspace, so I’m taking some materials with me in case of Colossal Plot Bunny Rampage (next band name, you know it). But there’s no guilt. No pressure. When I get back to “normal life” I should be recharged, energized, and ready to tackle all the stuff waiting for me — Like WORLD FANTASY!
I have one panel at World Fantasy – plus the mass signing and Guest Liaison duties. Then there’s a comic con in Waxahachie, Texas that I have a table at – facing one of their media guests. Won’t know which one till I get there, I’m sure.
This one’s been a long time coming. I bought the Parker Urban in navy blue at Pen Place in Kansas City when we went in April for Spectrum. I did get this one on clearance, but it’s still really nice.
The Urban rollerball is an elegant design with an ergonomic, bullet-shaped barrel – which means wider at the grip and narrow where it hits the thumb webbing. This is a navy enameled barrel with bright chrome metal accents and the trademark arrow-fletched metal clip.
The barrel runs about 5.5″ long capped and nearly 6.5″ with the cap posted. The cap posts securely and is has a decent weight. There is a ridge where the smooth black grip meets the enameled barrel that can dig into the fingers if you grip it just right. The smooth grip could also become a bit tiresome.
The pen comes with a 0.7mm black gel ink refill – which is marked “M” for medium (which in my brain is the correct designation). The ink is dark, rich and dries quickly. The roller moves smoothly and is refillable. The pen is a professional and investment pen. It’s not cheap. But if you need a gift pen or a pen that looks really good for professional reasons, this one isn’t bad.
1. How does it work? – 1 – This is a decent pen. The ink works for me. Nice, rich, black.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – The grip is shiny black plastic that can be tiresome. It’s hard but well-balanced in the taper even with the ridge. The length and weight are good.
3. Material – 1 It’s a solid pen with a lot of metal. The refill lasts a goodly while.
4. Overall Design – 1 – It’s solid. It’s very good looking with an elegant feel.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s not cheap. These run easily $50 – $80 depending on where you get it or if it’s on sale. I wish I could remember how much I paid for it. It’s an investment that you want to refill and use for years.
4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Prompt: A Much Needed Vacation
Words: hair salon, burn, escape, waste, yesterday, quack, quaint, jittery, bob, expensive
“All I have to do is get through today, and then it’s two weeks of escape.” Jeannie watched the det cord burn through the metal around the lock. She kicked the door open. “Where did you say the safe was again, Dina?”
“Behind the duck painting on the west wall.” Dina was a British-accented voice in her ear. “Focus on now. Not tomorrow.”
“Or yesterday…thanks, Mom.” She crossed quickly to the realistic painting. She almost expected it to quack. But it fit in with the quaint, hunter’s décor. She set the digital device that ran the safe’s combination and tried not to give in to jittery nerves as it processed. The door popped open. She scooped out expensive jewelry and currency, as well as the documents she came for.
“Got it.” Jeannie paused only to lay waste to the papers and memorabilia on the desk and overturn books and furniture to make it look more like a garden variety robbery. She checked her watch. “I can still make my appointment at the hair salon. I’m thinking of going with the bob this time. Thoughts?”
“If this information saves the world? You deserve a bob – or a Frank, or a Kyle. Whatever you want. It’s your vacation after all.”
Jeannie fought laughter all the way back to the van. Sometimes saving humankind needed a good chuckle.
Word Count: 225