Friday, 19 May 2017

Natural homes for the unnatural

There has been some discussion, publicly and privately, in which discomfort about critique was expressed. For the record, Prediction exists, and has always existed, primarily for the mutual enjoyment of making natural homes for an unnatural selection of words. While appreciation of well-worked pieces is desirable – we all like to know we have been read – it is hoped that  those with sensitivity enough to know their limits will appreciate and learn by observing the skills of others.

And last week’s words were no exception – were, in fact, exceptionally good – providing a very strong shortlist of more than half a dozen. Reasoning that by choosing little pieces I can get away with naming three, I selected John for his ‘Blue Wisdom’, Patricia for ‘Lights Out’ and Ghostrunner for her untitled tale of calligraphic error, and I urge you all to go read Rosie’s most wonderfully-titled ‘Deadly, but Obviously Well Balanced’.

Thank you all for contributing to a thoroughly entertaining week.   

Words for next week: flaccid  lullaby  sack

Entries by midnight Thursday 25th May, words and winners posted on Friday 26th

Usual rules: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. Serialised fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media you prefer.

104 comments:

  1. For John, Patricia, and Ghostrunner, cheers for your excellent submissions this week.
    The rest of you were all pretty darn good as well.

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  2. Well done John, Patricia & Ghostrunner! & thanks to everyone for an entertaining week.

    And now, pondering lullabies...

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  3. What a lovely surprise. Thank you! I certainly never expected to rise to the top among such a magnificent crop of submissions last week. Now I wish my mind would travel down a different path other than where "flaccid" and "sack" want to take me. Erotica is simply way too far out of my comfort zone. (...mind out of the gutter, por favor...)

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    1. As long as it's only the sack...

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    2. Congratulations to winners!
      Interesting words... especially as I am sure everyone (most) will read sack for sac and so go the wrong route with the flaccid word...

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  4. I've a few things 'stewing' in my mind, horror, my series and some poety. We'll see what comes to fruition, though those are rather unusual words to connect.

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  5. Well, as of right now, I've got nothing but here's hoping that inspiration will strike 'ere the deadline is upon us.

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    1. Lately that's how it is with me, but managed to just get something in! :)

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  6. A form of salutation [Threshold 163]

    The horses stilled. A slithered, leather-creaked dismounting, foot-shuffling assembly. A single voice, raised in unctuous exhortation followed by an in-breath pause and then a droning sound: some large animal in desperate agony. Succeeded by a screech of some intensity.
    Raven’s face, bright-eyed, disbelieving, turned to mine. ‘Come see!’
    I peeped.
    An orange-bearded man held a flaccid tartan bag beneath his elbow; his attempting to inflate it causing pain. Another blew and slid a sackbut and a third banged on a drum so feeble t’would better suit a lullaby.
    ‘Who?’ I asked.
    ‘The local church. They’ve come to convert us heathens.’

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    1. hooray for the salvation army band :D

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    2. Bravo! Especially for "unctuous exhortation" on top of the prompt words!

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    3. What a brilliant use of t'would to get your word count to 100 on the nose. You're very skilled with this language of ours (well, mine for the last couple of centuries or so).

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    4. tis a good instalment and a very good use of flaccid, congratulations, Sandra!!!!

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    5. A lovely installment with a lighter touch than what we're normally used to. I believe the "large animal in desperate agony" can only be referencing the bagpipes. Perfect description. Personally, I adore bagpipe music but I believe for the most part, people either love it or hate it. Had to chuckle at the thought of heathens being converted. Great continuation!

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    6. Loved the description of bagpipes, and the sense of stillness and slow movement in the beginning is perfection! Excellent phrasing throughout.

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  7. What a lovely use of sounds to drive the visual story. This being the first of imaginative and impressive prompt use.
    Maybe I might get a nasty case of something because I put the lime in the coconut and drank it all up.

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    1. been putting the lime in the cocoanut since high school :D

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  8. Roger and Leanne were close to being the worst couple in history. The only words he ever paid attention to from a woman was "I made you dinner." and "Here's my vagina." She was just as bad as just the mention of his flaccid sack was better than a lullaby for her narcolepsy.
    The fact they have five kids is beyond me.

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    1. And 'bravo' to you for getting that combination out of the way, in particularly nasty fashion.

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    2. A short well done story. You made the prompts the pillars of the story.

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    3. Narcolepsy can be the only reason for the kids! A twisted little tale :)

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    4. Very enjoyable, ghostrunner. A lullaby for narcolepsy - loved it.

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    5. sharply observed, which I like.

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    6. Short, sharp and to the point...not to mention incorporation of the prompt words in an efficient manner. Nicely done.

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    7. Sharp and short, to be sure, and I loved the final line.

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  9. Change of focus [236]

    ‘Bekim?’
    He another once-fellow schoolmate who’d preferred low profile, emulating flaccid-brained loon convincingly enough to create uncertainty about his true character. Pettinger still didn’t know.

    To a cry of token protest from Aleks, Bekim seized the laptop. Took it across the corridor into another room.
    ‘Bekim, what’s going on? Why are you here?‘
    ‘To make sure she doesn’t sing. And I ain’t talking lullabies –‘
    Valdeta? Who’s she going to – ? What does she –?’ Pettinger gave up, asked the more important question. ‘Aleks? Is he safe?’
    Smile indecipherable, ‘He’s yours? Heard you’d had her in the sack – Yeah, probably.‘

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    1. Interesting channel to follow

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    2. Asylum

      Discovered along the perimeter of a remote outpost, she is but one of many who manage to exist below the radar. Unregistered, uncatalogued and therefore, not in our system, she is nonetheless instantly recognizable.

      From the infirmary, we hear her crooning constant lullabies, fingers hopefully exploring the flaccid sack of her abdomen which recently held the developing fetus. Sterilization has eliminated any such future occurrences.

      If only these undesirables would report upon arrival and be dealt with according to the elected administration, such anguish could so easily be avoided.

      The law is the law.

      Inferiors cannot be allowed to procreate.

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    3. What a cliff hangar; Yeah, probably. I had to read this several times to find the prompts, very well done.

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    4. Patricia, well it's not erotica.It is a well written story and a rather scary one and all narration to boot.

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    5. Patricia this reads like the opening episode of an icy-voiced dark story. Like vodka, smoothly told and very, very chilling.

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    6. Sandra,there you go with those effective pauses in the dialog. I like how you do that. Cool interactions among the characters.

      Patricia, this is really good. I detect a slight hesitation from your narrator, a contrived coldness maybe. Well done.

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    7. another excellent read, thanks!

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    8. Don't like that ambiguous answer regarding Aleks' safety. "Probably..."??? I'm sure that doesn't sit well with Pettinger either. These episodes always propel the story forward with seemingly little effort but I know that's not easy to achieve.

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    9. reminds me of the stories of the atrocities visited on the Abernaqui Indians over here in new england

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    10. @Sandra John mentioned your use of effective pauses in the dialogue, and that's what I enjoyed as well. Their conversations are always so full and quick.

      @Patricia Truly a dark, fascinating story, giving us a fascinating sci-fi world - where my mind goes to. :)

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  10. Gostegodd

    Stonesblood. Mark didn’t know how old it was, but it had that preserved look of planetbound cities. Of course, there were towers, with cracked bells clanging out sonorous lullabies. Flaccid socks of gaudy materials designed to flap when the atmosphere span at a different speed to the rock. A whole language built up around those.
    Rock everywhere.
    The walls, rock dozens of hands thick, conjuring up armies camped outside, waiting for their opportunity to sack and loot the riches inside.
    Stealing money was very different these days.
    He passed through the scanners; and let his breath slide between his teeth.

    (100 words excluding title)
    https://jkdavies-dailywritingpractice.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Gostegodd

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    1. oops - should be titled Gostegodd 006!

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    2. That it was only episode 006 allowed me to re-read the rest before enjoying again the delicious description of a heavily-fortressed city. The language built up around the flaccid socks particularly beguiling.

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    3. Your description is very well done, evoking an old place with security upgrades, somewhat computer like. Prompts well used and placed.

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    4. JK, I read the first five installments and I'm glad I did. You build a melancholy scene with actions and the perfect amount of description. Nice writing.

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    5. such evocative images here, I especially like the breath sliding between his teeth.., very different and observant.

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    6. Magnificent writing and such well-evoked images. Innovative use of the prompts, especially "sack." I'd forgotten the word also carried that meaning. I am so enjoying this serialization.

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    7. Fascinating and descriptive. I really loved the world you described here, and the imagery of the final line 'let his breath slide between his teeth'.

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  11. Cripplegate Junction/Part 97-Perchance To Dream

    George watched Hamnet stumble through the Sanitarium's privet hedge. He considered assisting, but Matron was already on her way.

    Strains of "Brahms' Lullaby" escaped from an open window. His sister had attempted to teach him that piece when they were younger. He was hopeless. Couldn't even master "Chopsticks."

    "Sad sack!" Constance had teased.

    Such, thought George, applied to his entire life, but at least that had been a happier time.

    Limbs flaccid and eyelids heavy, he sank to the ground. He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept. His lips moved in silent refrain.

    "Lay thee down now and rest..."

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/cripplegate.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. Your unique style in describing a death scene, I didn't notice the prompts. Being one who barely mastered "Chopsticks" I sympathized with George.

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    2. Cleverly-used prompts and, as ever, the evocation of faint menace and dislocation while apparently describing a simple scene. I've learnt much from your writing.

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    3. This had a simplistic quality but also a complex reaction to his younger days as a 'sad sack.'
      Really good.

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    4. strong visualisation in this, drawing the reader in.

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    5. methinks nothing good is about to happen to this sleep deprived man

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  12. found these prompts very difficult for a story, the I read the previous submissions. They're all so excellent, prompt use, prose, and on Friday I had little but drafts. Advice was to let my drafts stew-disconnect from them, totally, for a period of time. My problem is Monday -Friday I've little time to work on writing. I did as best as I could. I found poetry the easiest for me, yet here is the one I finished first. Hope I'm able to keep my B status in the Honors Class.

    A Vision

    I’ve had a vision for two nights, haven’t slept for three. Pills are my friend. It’s so real, the winding road in the woods, the car being rear ended and thrust violently into the air, the sparks and flames from the fuel tank. Then it smashed into some trees and hung there like a red sack, my mom’s arm, flaccidly swing against the side of the car above the sign: Lodge, Next Right.
    I hear the music, Lullaby and Goodnight, as a text arrives.
    “Meet me for lunch- the lodge in the woods- I've great news; luv Mom.”

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    1. This suspenseful in more ways than one! Not least because in my experience texts too often arrive days after they're sent.

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    2. The delayed text... great way to build the tension in an already tense situation. Good one.

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    3. this is good, builds up to the final line, liked it.

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    4. Nice use of tension and a well thought-out final line. One of your best to date, Jeffrey.

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  13. Acquiescence

    In a voice soft as a lullaby, sung by a mother tip-toeing from the pastel-painted room wherein, spread-eagled, lay her sleeping babe, tiny fingers folded and sucking blister still anointed with a gleaming drop of bluish milk, he said, ‘You will.’
    I too spread-eagled, but not from choice: wrists and ankles tethered with coarse strips of chemical-impregnated sacking which irritated my already-chafed-to-rawness tender skin.
    My voice just as muted. My screams had been silenced with breath-taking brutality, as evidenced from the grape-sized bruises to my throat, if not my now fear-flaccid lungs.
    And because I knew I had no choice.

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    1. Wow, really chilling. This is a great piece. This reads like a stand-alone story and not a continuation of something else. So, either way, you nailed it.

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    2. Macabre is the best I can come up with. Exceedingly well written.

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    3. again, strong visualisation bringing the desired impact to the reader.

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    4. Good heavens, this was chilling. I was so engrossed, I forgot to even look for the prompts. As Antonia mentioned, the visuals were strong and shockingly stunning.

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  14. He loved Alison Krauss. Adored her sweet voice; even before the stint in Afghanistan.

    Whiskey Lullaby never failed to raise those flaccid eyelids a fraction, even on his bad days. It took me too long to finally pay attention to the lyrics. The day after his 21 gun salute, I downloaded the song and listened.

    He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.

    I always thought the .32 revolver in my nightstand drawer was a secret. Now I’m the one walking around with a fifth of Jim Beam in a sack.

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    1. I greatly enjoyed this story and I think this is from Alison's POV. Her grieving, remorse and downward spiral, all nicely portrayed.

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    2. One round of applause for putting 'Whisky Lullaby' in my head; a second for the hard-hitting but poignant tale and the telling of it. Superb writing.

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    3. SUCCESS

      Why is having you on my shoulder,
      Worse than seeing you from a far?
      You’re neither the light nor train, at the end of my tunnel
      But a carrot hanging just out of reach.
      Why use illusion to spur me on?
      Why retreat when I approach?
      Who really measures your validity?
      Respect, isn’t your middle name,
      Is comeuppance your cousin?
      You soothe me with your lullaby
      You are desire; you are instinct; you are luck’s hacky sack.
      Moral standards you laugh at, rules are for others.
      Machiavelli is your hero, no flaccidity here.
      Are you truly the forbidden fruit?

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    4. Hmm, it almost seems as if you have someone in mind here... but maybe you're just a good writer and can create the feeling of one torn between desire and reality. Either way works for me. Nicely done.

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    5. intense sadness in this, beautifully done.

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    6. I know nothing about Alison Krauss or "Whiskey Lullaby," but don't need to in order to appreciate this beautifully composed piece. As John mentioned, this does have the feel of a personal observation. A moving story with, to me, a hint of possible pending tragedy.

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    7. Re: SUCCESS by Jeffrey. Somehow, I was unable to respond to Jeffrey's poem directly, but anyway... Once again, unfortunately, I think this went over my head. As always, the composition is put together with an expert pen, but I wish I understood more of the substance.

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  15. Kursaal (Episode Seventy One) -- "Send In The Clowns"

    Cinders found Capers, flaccid and unmoving. A marionette with severed strings.

    She had failed him. Not kept her promise as the protective big sister.

    Years before, she carted the sprog in a knapsack as the family moved venues, repeatedly warbling "Send In The Clowns" until the lyrics were forever etched in her brain. Not exactly a lullaby, it had nonetheless brought a crooked smile to that tiny disfigured face.

    She gathered him into her arms. "And where are the clowns?"
    Held him closer. "There ought to be clowns."

    How would she tell Cobbles and Crow their little brother was gone?

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale, please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/kursaal.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. I'm trying to wipe the goose bumps off my arms. As soon as you said 'marionette with severed strings', I shivered. Very well done. I like Bernadette Peters' version of 'Send in the Clowns' the best. Though Frank wasn't bad either.

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    2. John has it aright - goosebumps and shivers, both for the words and the poignancy of the song evoked. Excellent.

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    3. Sorry but no goosebumps here. That said a realistic and forbodeing story. Her singing like that to Capers. The story drew me very subtly. As expected, wonderful prompt use.

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    4. very nice use of the prompts, delicate little scene, good one.

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  16. Congrats John, Patricia & Ghostrunner!

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  17. Kandar 11: Games People Play

    I knock on the door.
    “Pelwrath, I am Uxator.”
    “Enter.”
    He’s writing at a desk.
    “Master Uxator.” He had a brief surprised look.
    “I didn’t expect a half breed that all. I’m the Necromancer Pelwrath.”
    A bat flies in through the window, lands on his shoulder, holding a small red stained sack.
    “This is Papa.” Papa, bowed.
    “You sent me an invitation.”
    “I want you to get into Lord Commander Galiel’s, Tower of the Centaur for me, interested?”
    “Is your brain flaccid! Everyone knows the tower is enchanted against thieves; all who’ve tried, have heard their last lullaby,”
    Pelwrath chuckled.

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    1. A confrontation full of possibilities.

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    2. To me, these dialogue-driven tales are where you excel. Some nice little visuals here and I look forward to the continuation.

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  18. To Spice a Sauce

    To make a sauce taste to your satisfaction,
    Add the right amount of spices.
    Hang it’s container in a ripening sack
    Unless you eat it fresh,
    A Pinot Grigio then is best.
    Fear is smoky and bold
    Anger is sickly sweet.
    Sadness is dreary and flaccid.
    Happy is apple-cinnamon and great,
    It you'll never regurgitate.
    Sex is sugar sweet, like bee's honey,
    Regret is tangy and tart, with a hint of citrus.
    Love is grand, love is fine,
    Love is a salty-sweet lullaby.
    Depression is dry and bland
    Now create your own rub.
    After all;
    It’s your grub.

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    1. I liked this. Some nice rhyming and it conjured a smile with many of the lines. Yep...liked this one!

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  19. Leonardo is brooding on things right now, revelations may come later but right now, it's his thoughts you're getting. Incidentally, I had a dentist appointment this morning and realised for the first time he has a framed set of five Leonardo sketches on his wall...

    The Mad Italian 6
    There seems to be a sense, a feeling of flaccidity amongst the people, no effort being made, no striving for that sack of gold, however it is dressed up. A national lullaby being sung and all are falling under its spell. It’s indifference and should be kicked out to sea but there is not enough energy to do that. I find you strange, no enthusiasm, no interest – but I shall not go on. If we were there now, those of us in the Illuminati, held the same views, nothing would have been created. Then where would you be?

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    1. Quietly despairing words, illuminated by a fierce glare of experience.

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    2. Well done and I see this a small rant about the good old days, could the national lullaby by due to Manchester?

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    3. This seems to be quite a reflective piece. The words were put together in an almost poetic fashion. I love this mode of writing.

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    4. reminds me of the broken drink glass scene from 5th element :)

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  20. And then there are these random thoughts...
    Musing over lunch...

    We are all part of the huge pattern that is our daily round in a material world. I sit in the local café awaiting a meal cooked by others, drinking coffee served by others, wondering if the salad will be flaccid and inedible, listening to the traffic singing its lullaby of commerce and transport and musing on our many roles.
    The waste removal people arrive, tossing cardboard and black sacks into the back of the lorry, destined for the tip. I trust the body parts I packed so carefully will survive the journey without escaping the double bagged sacks.

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    1. Such a well-observed and fully-sensed slice of the every-day, then WHAM!! which, currently, echoes loud.

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    2. I thought the same things as Sandra. The body part mention was so casual, which made it sting all the more.

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    3. There was a show, Dexter, that springs to mind as I read this. Yes a most intricately placed low ceiling for us to bump into.

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    4. Oh, nicely done. You don't present us with such stand-alone gems anywhere near often enough, Antonia. This ending punch was quite something.

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  21. Okay, there was a mention or two about the naughtier uses of the prompt words. I applaud everyone for avoiding the pitfall. However, this double limerick throws all that out the window.

    There once was a man, Chauncey Senior
    Whose son was in love with a wiener
    He said with a frown
    As he put his foot down
    Son, next time try a sausage, it’s leaner.

    With wiener you think words like flaccid
    Even when you try to be placid
    And words such as sack
    An incredible knack
    In a lullaby fit for the masses.

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    1. Uh ... thanks John. Now you've set possibilities spinning in my head!

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    2. Tsk...tsk. Wicked boy! Just couldn't resist could you, John? And I, for one, am delighted that you didn't.

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  22. Ack! This week is almost over. Checking in with Jaen & Callon again. :)

    Wait it Out [8]

    An expression of contentment tugged on the corners of Callon’s mouth, as he stared at the TV over Jaen’s shoulder.

    Growling, Jaen gave him a none-too-subtle jab in the ribs. “Here we are discussing Sirius’ skill with rib bones and ribboned muscle, and a damn hockey game turns out to be your lullaby. Wipe that flaccid look off your face, and focus.”

    Callon tapped his temple with a bottle of beer. “Multitasking, Jaen dear. So, perhaps we let Sirius complete the summoning. Give the Keldoor Brothers something to play with.”

    “And put our heads in a sack? No thank you.”

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    1. So easy to make this close-focus scene come alive from the particular details you've given here - a lesson for me, at least.

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  23. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #78
    Spiral Trees


    I really hope they sack that minister. His reporting is getting more flaccid every day. At this point he could just sing lullabies and convey the same amount of information. The perks of being a princess-princess. Oh well, at least I get to doodle.

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    1. Short and sweet as ever, Rosie - thank you.

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