Daily Prompt

Inside the Blogger’s Studio

A recent daily writing prompt asked folks to pretend to be guests on Bravo’s Inside the Actors’ Studio, an interview show where host James Lipton would ask each guest the same ten questions.

I’ll admit to having never watched a complete episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio*, but I’m not going to let that stop me.

*But I am familiar with the classic Will Ferrell spoofs of Actor’s Studio on SNL.  Close enough?

Your moderator for the evening.

I am a sucker for these types of questionnaires, be it in a blog prompt chain email, or Facebook meme.  Besides, who doesn’t love the opportunity to talk about themselves?

  • What is your favorite word?

Onomatopoeia.  Aside from it being a beautiful word to say, I love the irony that a word meaning “The formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to” sounds nothing like the act of forming words.

  • What is your least favorite word?

Lots of options here.  “Moist” was one of the first to come to mind, but I feel like that is a clichéd response.  Besides, when used correctly (such as an adjective for cake), moist is wonderfully descriptive word.  My choice would probably be “panties”.  It is damn near impossible for a grown man to utter that word without sounding like a creepy perv.

  • What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

When an idea sparks in my head – a line that I think is clever, an opinion or insight that I must share, or I hear/read something that causes me to react strong (or with an excess of sarcastic snark) – it is amazing.  When that happens, I simply MUST write it down – even if it is just jotting a quick note in the electronic notebook I keep.

  • What turns you off?

I assume we’re still talking about creatively.  Otherwise, this is going to get uncomfortable for everybody.

My creative turn offs are a lack of time/energy to write; and dealing with stress zaps my creativity.  Frankly, I’d love to know what I could produce if I didn’t have to worry about / focus on silly things like work and paying bills.

  • What is your favorite curse word?

I’m going to give two answers here –  a PG and non-PG answer.  Why?  I feel that for the most part, “curse” words have lost their meaning.  An F-bomb in public, during a movie, or from your parent doesn’t have the same punch as it did 20, 30, or 40 years ago.  Shit, damn, bitch, and a host of other words practically feel conversational nowadays.  If you want shock value – which, lets face it, is a big reason why people swear in the first place – you need to go atomic by stringing together multiple curses into a Clark Griswold Christmas Vacation type rant.  Or you need to go to race or sexual orientation, which is not advised for day to day use.

My non-PG answer would be the f-bomb.  It is simple, classic, and timeless.  As others have noted, it can be a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and so much more.  It can express frustration, fear, disappointment, hurt, and a whole host of other emotions.

But since I have three kids under the age of five, I need some good PG alternatives.  As much as I believe traditional curse words are losing their meaning and power, they are plenty potent (and pretty damn funny) when they come from a little kid.  Therefore, when I need to express frustration, I go with one of three child-friendly standbys:  “Biscuits and gravy!!”  “God Bless America!” or “Sons of guns!”

  • What sound or noise do you love?

Absolutely, and without a doubt, the giggles and laughter of my children.

  • What sound or noise do you hate?

I can deal with screaming, whining, crying kids, fingernails on blackboards*, squeaking Styrofoam (my wife’s nemesis), and a ton of other noises, but I simply cannot stand a dentist’s drill.

*I’m realizing what a dated reference that is.  Also, fingernails on a whiteboard makes no discernible sound.

  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would love to be professionally retired.

  • What profession would you not like to do?

If my job involved selling stuff or contractor type duties, my family would starve.

  • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Trust me, this is most definitely NOT Iowa.”


Back to School

August already?

Boy, how the summer flew by.  Clearly, many of those well-intended plans would have to be scrapped – or significantly reduced.

Diet?  Er…that didn’t happen.

Finish that class for her Master’s?  Good intentions, but sleep and afternoons at the pool won out.

Having a garden full of vegetables and herbs?  Is crabgrass edible?

Janie hated the pressure she put on herself – the big expectations only led to big disappointment.

Kindergarteners – a whole new class of ’em would be starting their scholastic journey in a few short weeks.  Little faces full of fear, hope, and potential.

(Maybe there was still time for another weekend getaway before the reality of another school year set in….)

Nope, her principal kept nagging her for the list of required school supplies.  Only seems to get earlier every year.  Probably they’ll start back to school shopping for the 2014-15 school year in October….

Quit bitching, there were plenty of chances to do the things she wanted to do.  Really, Janie knew she had chosen to put off her responsibilities.  Stupid, selfish, and shortsighted?  True, but deep down Janie knew she was okay with it.  Understood that being a teacher is hard, underappreciated work for paltry wages.

Very soon she would be back in that classroom, teaching 26 letters to 26 kids.  Worrying that her failures could impact the rest of their lives.

(Xmas break was just over 100 days away, Janie reminded herself…)

Yet, as Janie hung the oversized letters above the pristine whiteboard, she knew it would all work out fine.

Z…where the hell was the Z?

*   *   *

Author’s note – The preceding was in response to a WordPress Daily Prompt entitled “Orderly”.  On the off chance you didn’t catch it, the goal was to start each sentence with a different letter of the alphabet.  I’d like to apologize to any teachers reading this for all of the grammatical and punctuation rules I broke.

Weaving Old Hickory

Author’s note:  This post is part of a WordPress Daily Writing Prompt, about weaving an object or symbol through three unrelated stories.

Don’t worry if this isn’t your cup of tea – there is another snarky Rejects list coming soon!

*   *   *

“Happy birthday, Andrew!”

Andy opened up the blue envelope and pulled out the birthday card his Grandpa had purchased.  He suppressed the urge to roll his eyes when he saw Snoopy staring at him from the front of the card.  Snoopy was for kids.  Andy was 13 now.  Practically grown up, in his mind.  Besides, Grandpa meant well.

Andy opened the card and found the jackpot:  a twenty.  “I’d much rather stare at President Jackson than Snoopy,” Andy thought to himself.  Andy lifted up the twenty for the room to see and thanked Grandpa for the gift.

As he held the twenty dollar bill, he was struck by the crispness, the rigidity of it.  This was a brand new bill.  Andy pictured Grandpa waiting in line at the bank, his gold Buick parked right next to the drive-thru lanes, asking for the newest twenty they had.

The bill was so new and perfect it almost felt fake.  Andy grinned slightly as he pictured Grandpa puttering around the back room of his apartment, counterfeiting twenties.  The perfect crime.  Who would suspect an 84-year-old man?

“What are you going to buy, Andrew my boy?” Grandpa asked.  “Something good, I hope.”

Andy thought about it.  He was going to meet his buddies at the mall later today, and there was a good chance President Jackson would not be coming home.

“Beats me, Grandpa.  But I’ll put it to good use.  Thanks again!”

*   *   *

Rachel wriggled free of the cramped dance floor and into the relatively peaceful bathroom.  You could still hear the house electronica, although it was muffled; the raw, thumping bass was the primary noise.

Rachel let out a relaxing sigh and sat down in an empty stall.  As she peed, she had the sort of epiphanies that seem to only come while on the toilet.

Her life was like this club – chaotic, packed, almost unbearably noisy, and far too expensive, but at same time fun, exciting, and full of people she knew – or would like to know.  She knew that there would be a time where she could no longer stand to go this club and wondered if there would be a time where she could longer stand her life.

Oy, that was depressing.  Rachel shook her head violently to clear out the dark thoughts and opened her small clutch purse.  No new messages on her iPhone.  “I’m like this club,” she thought, “No one will miss us when we’re gone.”

She laid the iPhone on her thigh and pulled the baggie from her purse.  She placed a small line of coke on the phone’s glass face and moved it around with her credit card.  She grabbed a twenty from her purse, rolled it into a tight tube and snorted the coke deep into her body.

As she left the bathroom, the wall of noise, bodies, and sweat hitting her like a ton of bricks, she spied her friends at a table in the corner.  Rachel headed to the bar, twenty in her hand, to buy some shots.  Before they drank the cheap vodka, they toasted with their favorite expression:  “YOLO, bitches!”

*   *   *

As far as class projects went, this one was at least somewhat interesting.  They were to use five pieces of paper money and enter their serial numbers on the Where’s George? website.

Jack was game for this.  Their Economics teacher had told them that you could track the movements of money – dollar bills mostly – as they were used to buy and sell goods, bouncing across the country through businesses, banks, and consumers.  Jack was hopeful that his bills had some good history – or at least some funny comments.

He opened his brown leather wallet.  He only found four one dollar bills.  He plugged their serial numbers into the site and clicked Continue.

Each time, his pulse quickened a little bit, he wanted something interesting, something unique, to feel more connected to the world outside of Waxhas County.

Jack still remembered the times in elementary school when released balloons, always with a note to call or write when they were found.  Jack dreamt of his balloons soaring across the sky, flying farther than everybody else’s, and being found by a famous celebrity who would not only write a letter, but would come of Jack’s town and shake hands with him in front of the whole school.

But Jack’s balloons did not have that destiny.  Only one was ever returned, and it was fished off of an electric line three blocks from school.  The power company raised a big stink and they stopped letting balloons go after that.

Four times Jack entered the serial number, hoping for excitement.  Four times he got next to nothing – a couple of random trips through the local Fed Reserve.  Jack was bummed.  What a stupid assignment.

Jack asked his dad if he could get the serial number of a dollar bill for a project.  Dad only had a wrinkled and worn twenty, and suggested he use that instead.

Jack entered the numbers and clicked Continue.  Out of habit, his adrenaline shot up, even as he mentally prepared himself for another letdown.

As the screen refreshed, Jack’s eyes lit up…

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