Show and Tell (Part 3)

The Nerdlettes begin their show-and-tell

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Having figured out the gimmick to make the secret panel close again, the two of them snuck the scrapbook into Maddie’s room, where the two of them pored over its contents carefully.

“I can’t believe it! Our parents were superheroes!” She squealed.

“I know! We gotta show our friends! They’re going to be so jelly!”

“Supa jelly!” Maddie nodded, closing it with finality and shoving it under her pillow.

“Tomorrow then?”

A car horn tooted twice in quick succession.

“Ah! Your mom’s here. Check your place to see if your parents have anything.” She spun Eddie around and shoved him out the door of her room.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m on it.” Eddie waved as he snagged his book bag from the couch and headed out.

***

“Hey Mad,” Eddie said as his best friend slid into the bench of the cafeteria table beside him, “You bring it?”

“You betcha,” she grinned, “Ready to get this show on the road?”

He grinned manically, mimicking her “You betcha.”

A few minutes later, the two of them had a large crowd of students around them jockeying for the best spot to see the scrapbook. Even before the first bell had rung, the entire school had heard about it, which suited Maddie just fine, because neither of them had ever really been the center of attention of anything.

“Hey, Maddie,” Julie whispered, “Are your parents still superheroes?”

Maddie shook her head, “I’m pretty sure they retired, my dad is an IT manager. I can’t really imagine him going out and fighting crime anymore. It’s a career for the young, you know. He’s almost thirty-five.”

“Wow, that’s old.”

“Yeah, but he’s still active.”

Julie nodded as if she had grasped something deep and wandered away.

“Ah, I’ll see you at lunch, Eddie. Gotta get to science class,” Maddie closed the notebook, and shoved it under her arm.

“OK, Mad. I have something to show you too.” Eddie held his fist out, and it was met with Maddie’s, “Later chick.”

***

Mr. Horowicz tapped the blackboard with his pointer.

“And if you move further into the solioquy, you’ll see more phrases that have been taken into common usage. For example, Here, where it says  ‘When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,’ and further down, ‘The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns’ Who can tell me how these were used in pop culture in the late twentieth century?”

Eddie had only been listening with half an ear, as he had been fiddling with a gadget that he had snuck off of the utility belt of the costume in Maddie’s closet.

“Mister Polowski!”

Eddie jumped up, the unknown gadget tumbling to the floor where it began to slowly unfold.

“Ah, yes. There’s a Star Trek reference there, sir.”

Mr. Horowicz glowered at Eddie for a moment, then glanced to the floor where the device had unfolded to reveal itself as some sort of a mini drone, “Yes, that’s right. Do I really have to tell you that we don’t allow toys in class?

The bell rang, and the class immediately began to leave, causing Eddie to snatch the drone up, to keep it from being trampled inadvertently by his classmates.

“S-sorry! I forgot I had it with me.”

His teacher grunted and dismissed him with a wave, which Eddie gratefully accepted, grabbed his things, and joined the press of bodies heading into the hall.

 

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On The NecroNomNomNomicon series

Rationalizing humor in a traditionally unfunny genre.

I was asked recently, “How can I call my series Lovecraftian, when the world is seemingly humor based?”

I admit, it was a good question, and although I know the answer, I never brought it up with anyone other than my brother Travis.

Here’s the f’real deal.

The original Lovecraftian world is dead serious. As well it should be. Folks don’t often get out alive or sane. And that’s kind of a problem.

A group of mages who were tasked to prevent Mythos type uprisings realized that the very nature of them tended to completely ruin a normal person’s life with just a glance. Sure they were usually fine themselves, but that’s what they’re trained for, but not the average guy.

What to do.

So they took it upon themselves to change the world in a very literal way. They molded pop culture, and guided technology to essentially jade the masses against what would make your 20’s era gumshoes lose their nuts. All the super HD horror movies, apps, television and other new and exciting things have gradually been desensitizing people against the reality-warping sanity-shredding nonsense from other universes.

Think about it. How many people do you know that would LOVE to see a zombie apocalypse? (raises hand)

Exactly.

The humor is a defense against the impossibleness of the Mythos.

But there’s more to the defense than that, but it’s a secret!

–Felix

 

Show and Tell (part 1)

A gaming group takes a long-game joke to the extreme.

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“OK, Jake. You gotta tell me, How did you know that that guy was the one we could trust?” Ned said, setting his half-finished can of cola on the table with a loud thump.

Jake’s face split with a wide grin. “Simple. When the lycanthropic change happens, it’s very high energy. That’s why most were-critters are super aggressive on the full moon they’re going through a super painful process.  The pain from having the change is mitigated when the body can use body fat as fuel. So the fat guy was the one we could bet on keeping his head.”

Tina slapped her forehead and groaned, “I thought he was fat from eating lotsa people!”

“One more pie, guys,” Susan deftly snagged the empty pizza box from the table, and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Thanks sweetie,” Ned patted her affectionately on the thigh as she took her place among the other gamers.

“You’re sometimes too predictable,” Jake said around a piece of pepperoni pizza. “Not that that’s a bad thing. It just means that  we can use your world rules effectively.”

Ned nodded, pursing his lips as he ruminated on Jake’s retort. “Well, I can’t even be mad. That’s the point of the world rules, I just never thought you were paying attention.”

“So, Ned and I thought of a great prank,” Susan said, pulling a slice from the box.

Ned grinned and blew her a kiss, “Yeah we did, but all the credit goes to miss Suzy-q.”

“But we’re playing the long game here guys. And all of us are going to participate, no arguing.”

“Get to the deets, Q” Tina said, gathering her polyhedral dice back into the tattered felt crown royal bag that she had been using as a coaster.

“OK, so you know that Ned and I are trying to have a baby, and since you guys,” She nodded at Jake and Tina, “Are a few months into the oven, we thought that since we are a group of nerd-positive and higher-than-the-mean intelligence groups, we would play a trick on our future nerdlettes.”

Tina sat up straight, her errant dice forgotten, “You has my attention. Tell me more.”

“Well,” Susan began, setting her pizza down, and licking the tips of her fingers, “Remember that year we went to SuperCon in full costume?”

“Hell yes, I do. That’s where I met Jake!” Tina winked at her husband with a leer.

“Great, so here’s the dealio. We all remake our costumes. Really pour the effort and time into it. Spare no expense.”

Jake furrowed his brow, “I don’t know if I like where this is going…”

“Shut it, Jake. Let the woman talk.” Tina elbowed him roughly, “Please continue.”

Susan grinned, “Well I have a friend in the office who was a art major, and he posted a bunch of really cool looking newspaper articles in his cube. But the thing is, they’re all fake. So I thought, What if we make scrapbooks of news clippings that make it look like we’re all superheroes and hide them with the costumes in our closets where our kids will find them? How cool would that be?”

Tina bounced in her seat, “Yes. So much yes!”

Jake sighed and mumbled into the rum and coke that he had been nursing for the last hour.

“Why are you being such a negative Nancy? You don’t even have to work on your costume, yours is still in perfect shape.”

“Yeah,” Jake said, tossing back the remainder of his drink, “perfect shape…”

 

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Let’s keep this real

All writers know that they could edit their works forever. Picking at nits for eternity.

This happens for a few reasons, but the most common are:

  1. Insecurity
  2. Error blindness

Most authors are at least somewhat neurotic when it comes to their work, I know I am! After four or five really hard passes, just let it go into the wild. If an agent or publisher thinks you have what it takes, they’ll let you know, even if what you’re peddling isn’t what they’re buying, they know what good writing looks like.

But the main reason I made this post is that pesky second reason, error blindness.

We know our stories inside and out.

They are our children.

This is why we don’t see the flaws.

We know what the story is supposed to be saying. But that’s not always what it IS saying. our minds gloss over the mistakes/problems and we think it’s all good.

**Cue dramatic music**

I found out something amazingly helpful. And it’s at zero cost. …Well, time invested. that’s a cost, I suppose.

What is this miraculous thing, you ask?

Macros

**Dum dum dum!**

So, Word and most other text editors have the ability to use macros. and Modern text editors are pretty damned smart. They can predict what you’re going to write, can recognize mistakes in grammar and useage!

So when you tell your text editor to have a look at your document for you…  the results can be pretty amazing.

Here is an example of one I use a lot. It’s called Needless Words:

Sub NeedlessWords()

‘ Highlights unnecessary words

‘ Written by Roger Mortis, revised by subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod; word list by Janice Hardy

Dim range As range

Dim i As Long

Dim TargetList

TargetList = Array(“then”, “almost”, “about”, “begin”, “start”, “decided”, “planned”, “very”, “sat”, “truly”, “rather”, “fairly”, “really”, “somewhat”, “up”, “down”, “over”, “together”, “behind”, “out”, “in order”, “around”, “only”, “just”, “even”, “gave”)

For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)

Set range = ActiveDocument.range

With range.Find

.Text = TargetList(i)

.Format = True

.MatchCase = False

.MatchWholeWord = True

.MatchWildcards = False

.MatchSoundsLike = False

.MatchAllWordForms = False

Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True

range.HighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise

Loop

End With

Next

End Sub

SO. Don’t be scared by the wall of code. Just make note of that target list. Those words are often times unneeded (thus the name). So what the macro does, is search the document and highlight all of them. So you then go through it and determine if each instance is indeed useless.   An example, is  When you say:

Janice sat down at the table

The macro says:

Janice sat down at the table

because  “Janice sat at the table” is a stronger sentence, you can remove down with confidence.

**Do look for a ‘turn highlight off’ macro as well, for when you’re done.**

But you can’t be lazy!

You must still do the work, because all this does is highlight suspect words. It’s up to you to recognize what makes a sentence stronger. For example, I generally ignore suggestions that appear in dialog, because that would strip out that character’s personality from it.

You can add words or phrases to that list too.  I like to add in long form contractions, because when I write, often I forget to use contractions, and my writing looks pretentious because of it. Shapow! contractions!

So, flex your Google-Fu and research macros for writers. Your work will thank you for it.

**EDIT**

Hey, if this has been helpful to you at all, please comment and share!