Ducks, Explosions, and Ducking Explosions – TCWT

So in fact I was just about ready to write an apologetic post about how I couldn’t fulfill my promise for a TCWT July blog chain post, when suddenly I realized that the time I spent writing that post could actually be used to write the promised post and none would be the wiser (except that I’m writing this introduction).  Truth be told, I hadn’t given this post a thought since I signed up, except for a few moments of heart-stopping panic when I thought I had already missed the date.  I thought I had no characters to use; I thought I had no ideas for it.  Then I remembered my cardinal rule.  The cardinal rule of writing is this: when you can’t think of anything to do next, add a duck or some explosions.  Preferably both.  Following that logic, I wrote my therapy session with the one duck character I have, who coincidentally also explodes from time to time.  Allow me to introduce the stellar, the scintillating, the slightly bald Mack! (more…)

Guest Post: Reasons to Include a Dog in Your Story

The author of our 800oth comment, or thereabouts, was imnotthatgeeky, a new follower and commenter who told me, in that 8000th comment, that he wanted to be one of my top five commenters.  He’s going to start his rather long journey with this spectacular guest post.  Enjoy.

Hello, followers of Liam’s blog. I was so surprised when I won the honor of writing a guest post. When it comes to anything lottery-like such as this, I don’t think I’ve ever won in my life. I’ve never won a single game of Bingo in my life, and I never even got to be the goose in Duck-Duck-Goose. Yet here I am, writing a guest post because I was lucky enough to write the 8,000th comment on this blog! (Technically I didn’t, but I was close enough.)

Also, I’m planning on using sneaky subliminal messages to trick you into subscribing to my blog. I’m so subtle you won’t even [subscribe] see it coming. [now] (more…)

Incoming Avocados!

The lights came up with the remains of the music last played.  Liam sat on a stool wearing a silver suit with a large blue handkerchief peeking out of the pocket.  He waited for the applause to die down.

“I have a couple things to announce,” he said, tapping a stale baguette against his leg.  “First of all, due to popular request, the ‘penguin scene’ Percival had me burn a few days before has been reconsidered as a part of the Phil Phorce episode.  Due to the tireless efforts of a persistent penguin-lover, Percival has been persuaded to revise his opinions, if I will revise the scene.  His terms are simple:  1) He wants to be part of the scene, 2) he wants the penguins to be replaced by hedgehogs (which was also available as a choice, and which will be much easier to write about than penguins), and 3) he wants to kill at least one hedgehog within the episode.  Some of these criteria are more easily stated than met, but I am confident that I can turn this into an advantageous circumstance.  I have already planned the scene, and once I get to writing it, I believe it will be satisfactory to all.

“Now, some of you may be raising hue and cry against Percival for his claim on the poor rodent’s life.  Let me just say this:  Percival was once terribly wronged by a wild gopher.  As hedgehogs seem to be related, however distantly, Percival would like to wreak his revenge at last.  It will only be one animal he harms, no more.  If we all remember that we’re supposed to be having fun, I think we’ll get along fine, don’t you?”  A masked man leaped out from behind a curtain, intent on fatal decapitation.  Liam ducked and the man went flying into another curtain.

“Who was that masked man, anyway?” Liam asked absently.  “Well, another thing I wanted to say was also about the Phil Phorce.  I’ve written the first one-and-a-half scenes.  That might not seem like much, but it’s a start, and a better one than I’ve had for a while now.  Some good characters will be appearing soon, and I think things will pick up.

“Now, I have a very important question for you to help me answer.”  Liam leaned forward and looked closely at the crowd.  Everyone held their breath, but one person broke out into applause, sparking a round of applause which had to die down before Liam could continue.  Making a face from the pain in his back from holding his position so long, Liam said, “The question is this…”

Silence.

“Do you…”

The audience leaned forward.

“…wish I would stop delaying the question?”

A round of applause ran from one corner of the audience to the other, where it committed suicide on a marlin-spike.

“Okay, then,” said Liam, looking distastefully at the body.  “I suppose that counts as an answer.  To be or not to be?  That is the question.  And with that, good night!”  Liam stepped off the stool and bowed.  Pieces of fruit were flung onto the stage by an angry crowd.  Liam picked up a squished avocado and sniffed it, then wrinkled his nose.  He gathered up a bouquet of colorful fruits and waved it at the crowd, touched his forehead with the stale baguette, then walked offstage.

Phil Phorce: Not Living, Not Dead

It’s about time I started on the rest of this Phil Phorce episode, so here you are.

“What are you doing with those mice in the Elimination room downstairs?” yelled Phume, getting right into Ralph’s face.  Ralph was tied to a sofa in his sitting room, his sister sitting in an easy chair opposite him.

“Should be obvious,” said Ralph.

“We’re taking control and shutting your operations down,” said Phoenix matter-of-factly.  “Those mice will be set free, no thanks to you.”

Ralph shrugged.  “Makes no difference.  I didn’t need them anyway.” (more…)

Phil Phorce: Giants in the Elevator

The phone rang.  After the third ring, Percival said, “Whose phone is that?”

Phume and the old lady, the only Phils in the elevator with Percival, chorused “I don’t have a phone!”

“Ah.  Mea culpa.”

“Forgive those of us who haven’t studied exotic languages,” said Phume, “and tell us what that means.”

“It means my fault, basically,” said Percival as he took out his phone.

“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” remarked Phume.

Percival held up a hand.  “Hi, Liam.  Yes, we’re inside the castle.  We’re actually in the elevator, on our way up the tower.  Um, yes, we’re following Quirk.  Yes, we’re obeying his orders.  Unfortunately, he can’t talk at the moment.  He’s occupied in seeing how many times in a minute he can press the close doors button.  He says he can’t be disturbed.  Well, yes, he already is disturbed but—Perhaps a little later, after he—“  Percival took the phone away from his ear and grimaced.  “So impatient, Liam is.”

“Who are you, Yoda?” asked the old lady good-naturedly. (more…)

Phil Phorce: Into the Tower

Well, good news.  I just finished writing the current Phil Phorce episode yesterday, but I think I need to rewrite the end because it doesn’t have the feeling I want.  That should go up eventually… maybe.  In order to speed that event, here is the next installment of the Phil Phorce.

Weaving through the crowds of sleeping children, Phoenix looked around.  “Weird,” she said to Steve, who was perched with Sam on her shoulder.

“I know,” the ping pong ball said.  “You could kill one of these people and they probably wouldn’t notice it.”

“That isn’t what I meant.”

“Well, it’s what I meant, and that’s what matters.”

Percival held up a fist, the sign for a sudden and noiseless halt.  In doing so, he punched Quirk in the face.  “Sorry,” he said, grinning.

The Vice-Phil held his nose, scowling at Percival, but he didn’t say anything.

The tower was just in front of them, soaring up toward the earth above them.  There was one sliding door that they could see, and it didn’t look like it was guarded.  It had a large symbol on it, an arrangement of four vertical jagged lines, each parallel and terminating in a fifth, wavy line.

Percival turned to the group.  “See the guards there?”  Everyone shook their heads, Steve and Sam just wiggling their mouths.  Percival turned back to the tower and pointed at either side of the sliding door, where it met the ground.  When she looked closely, Phoenix could see a little brown thing there.  “Mice,” said Percival in a scary whisper.  “We probably won’t get past them unless we have a distraction.  Sebase can do that.  Phoenix, I want you to try to burn through the wall.  If you can’t get through, then I want you to climb it and get in.”

“Why Phoenix?” asked Quirk.  “And why are you giving orders?”

“Phoenix, because she can melt handholds in the wall to climb with, which is more than any of us could do, looking at the surface.”  Percival was right; the tower was a strange kind of material, perfectly smooth.  “And I’m giving orders because you aren’t capable to do so yourself.  Sebase, you can start when you want.”

Immediately Sebase ran away.  Minutes later, they heard a scream.  “Go,” whispered Percival, shoving Phoenix in the opposite direction.  She ran to the wall once she saw the mice go to investigate and began burning through.  When she thought she was going to make it through she encountered a hard substance that didn’t want to melt.  She looked at Percival and shook her head, then began climbing.

Percival, backed by the rest of the Phils, ran to the door.  When they stood in front of it, the door slid open.  They walked into a slightly off-white hallway, empty.

Percival turned to the group again in front of a pair of elevator doors decorated with the symbol from outside.  “The lord of this place will probably be at the top of the tower, so we’ll take the elevator.”

“No, we won’t, we’ll take the stairs,” said Quirk, trying to get his control back.

“Elevator is quicker and easier,” argued Percival.

“Stairs.”

Percival sighed.  “Anyone who wants stairs, go with Quirk.  Those who want the elevator, go with me.”  He pushed the button.  When the doors opened, the remaining Phils (the old lady and Phume) moved inside, all except Quirk.  “Somebody push the highest number.  See you at the top, eventually,” he said to Quirk as the doors closed.

.

Once she found a window, Phoenix burnt through it and entered the tower.  Making fire gave her headaches, slight ones if she was careful, but bigger ones as she used fire more.  And melting handholds in a wall wasn’t exactly light work.

She found herself in what looked like a dormitory full of tiny beds.  Those were the only things smaller than normal, thankfully; the ceiling was human height.  In some of the beds were the brown mice alluded to in the angry letter Liam had received.  But no… These weren’t completely brown.  Some were dappled, some had barely discernible patches of creamy fur, but none were completely brown.  At one end of the room were two doors, one large and one mouse-sized.

Phoenix heard noises outside the miniature door, and hurriedly crouched against one wall, away from many of the full beds.  “Keep quiet,” she whispered to Sam and Steve, on her shoulder.

The door opened to admit two mice, both completely brown.  The one walking in front was clad in a white coat reaching to his mousy feet, and the other carried a clipboard, mouse-sized, of course.  Both, contrary to the beliefs of many animal fiction stories written around mice, were on all fours, causing the second mouse to have to carry walk with three feet while balancing the clipboard with the other.  Phoenix couldn’t understand what they were saying, due to mice not being able to speak any human language (also a common animal fiction misconception), so it sounded like a bunch of squeaks to her.  The pair slowly made their way down the rows of beds, making coming ever closer to Phoenix’s “hiding place”.  She buried her head in her knees just before they reached her.

“Squeak, squeak,” said the coated mouse.  “Squee-squeak squeak.”

Peeking her head out far enough to see them, Phoenix saw the other mouse nod his head and write something down on a clipboard.

One who understood basic mouse would have heard the following: “It looks like Bernie’s mutated.  Speed up his elimination process.”

After that, the mice left through the smaller door.  Phoenix waited a minute or two, then followed out the large door.  The handle was strangely high on the door, but the door was regularly sized.  It seemed almost as though someone didn’t want the mice inside to get out, especially since the small door didn’t have a handle inside.  On the outside of the door was a sign in English, since mice don’t have a written language, reading: “The Useless—For Elimination”, along with a five-lined symbol like the one outside.  Though Phoenix hadn’t understood the previous conversation, she realized that the mice inside were to be killed.  It didn’t seem too fair.

She walked down the hallway toward the sign marking the stairs.

Tips on How to Name Your Cat

Let’s say you’re part of a small family that wants a pet, something condescending and aloof that destroys furniture with the air of doing you a favor. The thought strikes you: Hey, a cat would be great! You go out to your local pet store or adoption thingimajig place and order a cat. You bring him or her home and you realize that it doesn’t have a name! What should you do? Well, my friends, just follow the tips below and you’ll have a name even before you decide that you actually didn’t want a cat in the first place!

  1. Name it after some other, bigger and more powerful, feline, like a tiger. This especially works if your cat has stripes, but doesn’t have anything else in common with its namesake.
  2. If that doesn’t work, name it something soft-sounding, something that’s at odds with it’s actual character, like Bubbles or Cuddly, or Fluffy. Chances are that you’ll eventually want to add a “Mister” to the beginning to make the animal seem cuter than you’ve found it to be.
  3. If you don’t like those names, try naming it after your grandfather or something. Thus you might have a Bob in the family again, or a Sedgewick.
  4. Try naming the feline after its favorite place, or better yet, make it a duke or something! Lord of the Litter Box… That has a nice ring to it. Duke of the Dusty Cupboard. Earl of the Trash Can.
  5. You can also name your pet after the things it’s destroyed. Living Room Chair, perhaps.
  6. Try giving it a descriptive name, something like “Streak”, in honor of the way it runs around your house all day wearing nothing. Or “Stupidity Incarnate”.
  7. Try what it eats most, like “Kitty Chow”. Or Mac’n’cheese! Or just Mac. All of these are good.
  8. If you get too angry with it, just call it by your favorite swear word.
  9. Compound words are good, like Bluntclaw, or Greeneye. Just stay away from meshing words that are too long, like “Malodorous-snout”.

Good luck naming your furry little furniture destroyer!

Sohfistikayshun and Suchlike

We almost ran over an opossum yesterday, which begs the question, why did the opossum cross the road? And what’s with all these little woodland creatures crawling to their deaths across this ten-foot-wide stretch of asphalt? Insights wanted.

On another note, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. Yes, I’m crazy, but no, not that crazy. For I have a plan. Multiple plans, in fact. If anyone needs a story idea for November, call the toll-free number at the bottom of your screen and be prepared to pay exorbitant fees. But seriously, I have extra, if you need one… Being homeschooled, I can have almost all the time I want writing. Being a fast writer, I don’t need all that much time. Being also a fast planner, I don’t need 10 more days to plan for NaNo. So I wait. And plot. And do almost nothing else about it.

On another note (I have many of these notes), I just realized that I’m probably the only blogger to capitalize my tags and categories. Well, some of my tags. And I also just realized that I am not the only person to have an LFP, though I am the first to call it an LFP. Most others just stick with imaginary friends. I, however, am sofisticated. And I spelled that wrong.

On the last note, this is my 50th post. First person to comment gets a surprise!

Squirrel Fatalities

In May of 2011, I wrote the following article for Lost in the Woods, the family newspaper I put out weekly.

Squirrel Epidemic

This is Liam Wood (again) reporting live (again) from five days ago this time (not again) from the Wood house (again). May 25th was strange, to say the least. Early in the school day our neighbor schooled us in the essential art of recognizing poison ivy. Then, after we had adjourned our botanical studies, we turned to the fine art of chopping down trees. Moore (or less) Trees Co. came over to exterminate some trees that were ‘sick’. Five trees were decapitated and shipped off next door for use as firewood. This was done in little over an hour. Now if you haven’t heard, the squirrels in our state are strange, like all the rest of the population (except some select individuals and one family: ours). The squirrels here fall out of trees. Now you might say they are only calculated jumps, but I have seen a few plummet from the heights, only saving themselves by a tail or a claw. These past few days, however, squirrels have been witnessed falling out of trees without any limbs to help them. It might be the trauma of losing their homes─ it might be the shock of losing favorite branches to land on, but the squirrels are definitely not themselves. Now this might be all right if we actually thought the falls were accidents (say, if they screamed on the way down), but instead they are silent as stones── stones falling from great heights as though they wished to die. Thankfully though, all squirrels have been accounted for, and the local squirrel police are on the job. Now to Liam for your local weather. Thanks, Liam! We have seen a few scattered thunderstorms moving across northern [your state here] . . .

Yes, this article was called for. And now one similar to it is called for again. Today I witnessed a squirrel fatality, a testimony to the recklessness of drivers today. Of course, it was also testimony to the stupidity of the squirrel itself, but that’s beside the point. Today, a squirrel dove out of cover on the side of the road and ran to cross the street in the middle of two-lane fast-moving traffic. Crossing its first lane, the little mammal saw its first obstacle, a speeding car. It chickened out and tried to run back to its safe haven of a bush, but once again saw an impediment: a car’s tire. At this point, the little rodent was scared like heck and out of his league, in this land of quickly-moving metal contraptions without any care for squirrel life or limb. It reversed direction again, thinking it might make it to the other side as it had first intended. But it was not to be, for then he was caught by rubber and spun backwards across the asphalt, dying immediately. Poor little squirrel. After that little mishap, I noticed many more casualties of the squirrel-automobile war. A squirrel here, a squirrel there, a squirrel dead everywhere! Actually, that last one was a boot. Finally, a hit for the squirrels! Now it’s 1/2-5783. The squirrels may have a chance! In fact, they’ve been waging their own guerrilla warfare at our house out in the woods: once the nuts on the trees reached full green hardness, they began falling without any apparent reason, straight onto our car. Soon, anyone at home could tell someone else had just arrived by the cracking of nuts under the tires. How I wish the squirrels and the cars could just get along. Maybe they need a little song– “mimimim–“

Obviously not. They just got a nut through the barely ripped screen door. Ow.