April 11, 2014

Nespresso: The Creme de la Creme

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Are you a Nespresso fan? I just became one. The Nespresso Aeroccino3 is now standing tall on my home coffee bar, all beautiful red and chrome, just waiting to whip up a frothy cream to top my coffee. It couldn’t be easier: Pour whole milk, half and half or Coffeemate liquid up to the measuring line, hit the button, and in less than 60 seconds you have hot, frothed creme de la creme. At $99 it’s a little pricey, but I love it and use it practically every morning for my first cuppa. It’s one of those gadgets that you wonder how you ever got along without. Nespresso is a Swiss company, part of Nestle, and a purveyor of all kinds of glamorous and expensive coffee devices you members of the Fictional Café will be eager…

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April 7, 2014

“Before We Met” by Lucie Whitehouse

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I loved “Gone Girl” and I like unconventional thrillers regardless of the writer’s gender. Gillian Flynn is clearly an accomplished writer who knows how to design or orchestrate, if you will, her novel. That is less obvious in Lucie Whitehouse’s “Before We Met.” The setting is a dull as a box of rocks, and the main characters are right out of [what I imagine to be] a soap opera. I won’t say they’re stick figures, but they are clearly being manipulated into their character traits and behavior by the author, and it shows. Hannah marries a guy without knowing a thing about him or his family beyond what he has told her; now, does that sound like a woman who has deep-seated trust issues? I shall not belabor this point, because I don’t want to…

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April 7, 2014

Gregg Rochester’s New “Pucci” Bike Art

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We featured Gregg Rochester’s bicycle painting a few months ago. Recently, he was commissioned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art to paint a one-of-a-kind bike for their latest exhibition, “Italian Style,” which was on display at the Institute in early 2015. It’s called the Pucci Bike because it is using the fabric designs of famed Italian clothing designer, Emilio Pucci. Here are the left and right views of Gregg’s Pucci Bike. Please click on the images for a larger, more detailed view. You can see more closeup details, along with a list of the components he used to build the Pucci bike, at Gregg’s bike art site, as well as many of the other bikes he’s painted. He assembles the components and builds each bike himself. Where in the heck did he find a blue chain?

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April 6, 2014

“Remedium” a Novel by Caitlin M. Park

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“Remedium” a Novel by Caitlin M. Park

Editor’s note: This excerpt is from Remedium, a novel-in-progress.  Hot white light reflected off Noah’s irises. A beam of sunshine illuminated the corner where she slept in a cot. Her room was the size of a closet. She curled her body in a transparent sheet, soaking in the last comforts of sleep. Her thoughts lingered on the pills stashed underneath her cot. The bones of her arms and legs, all the way up her spine, ached for the Remedine. “These will help a little,” she whispered to herself with a sleepy smile. She reached under the creaking bed, searching for a metal lipstick case. Grasping it, she popped off the lid and shook two round purple pills into her palm. She chewed and swallowed them without water, savoring even the bitter taste, feeling them slide…

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April 6, 2014

Arecibo, a Poem by Jack B. Rochester

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Arecibo, a Poem by Jack B. Rochester

Arecibo Observatory photography by Stephen Alvarez There were others, of course, But I will never forget you and how we met At the farmer’s market, Oranges and cantaloupes and figs all around us, The hot sun catching the color of your cheeks, your hair, Your olive-black Spanish eyes smiling up at me, Your lips ripe and luscious as the fruits And how we walked through San Juan, Laughing at the children dancing for money in the street;   As night fell we stood on the edge of Aricebo And you took my hand and held it tight and I swear I could hear the voices of the stars as they fell to the coil; We ate crab legs and drank dark, syrupy rum At a shack on the beach until our mouths buzzed Then we…

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April 6, 2014

“I Survived the End of the World Last Night.” by Shari J. Ryan

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“I Survived the End of the World Last Night.” by Shari J. Ryan

                      Photo credit: newyearseve.nyc I don’t know why I agreed to this. I could be sitting at home on my couch, watching the ball drop in Times Square. That would have been so much better. I wouldn’t have to try to keep my eyes open all night. Yet, here I am. 2014—two hours away. Just another year. I jab the pad of my thumb into the elevator button, watching the numbers ascend until the thirteenth floor approaches. Thirteenth floor? I don’t know why the number didn’t dawn on me before, but thinking about it now, buildings don’t have a thirteenth floor. I shrug it off, forcing myself to care as little about that as I care about enduring this party tonight. The metal doors part and I step out…

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April 6, 2014

“Home,” from “Ivy’s Island” a Novel by Laurie Skiba

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“Home,” from “Ivy’s Island” a Novel by Laurie Skiba

Editor’s note: This is Chapter 3, “Home,” an excerpt from a novel-in-progress. I found my mother sleeping under the bridge, her arm slung over her eyes, the flies buzzing so loud I couldn’t believe she could sleep. The fact that she had tired herself out swimming across the sound the previous night, and had slept on the beach while I had spent the night in the car awake and smacking mosquitoes, spoke volumes about who was an island girl and who was not. No matter how much I wanted it, clearly I was the non-native species. “Mama,” I tried softly before she woke up, and then, “Ellen,” and nudged her. She groaned and turned over, got a mouthful of sand, spat, and sat up. Her hair was sticking up in clumps, her face smudged with…

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April 6, 2014

“The Max Farkas Chronicles” a Screenplay by Brick Andrews

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Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a screenplay in development, based on the short story collection, Five Days of Farkas, by Jake F. Simons. EXT. GRINDHOUSE PARKING LOT – NIGHT Luie’s car whips into the parking lot and screeches to a halt across three spaces. Max gets out of the car and Luie opens his door, pokes his head out looking like he’s going to vomit. MAX Uh, maybe we should get a cab on the way out of here.   LUIE (clearly sick) Nah man. I’m good. Just need a little air. Luie drops his keys on the ground. He gets out of the car and tries to pick them up, accidentally kicking and fumbling them into a nearby drainage ditch.   MAX (laughing) Dumbass!   LUIE Damnit! Well I guess we are taking a…

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April 4, 2014

“All Things Buried” by Jenny Cokeley

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It was the hottest day in July when the first puppy died.  Sweat poured over Braylee’s eyebrows and trickled down her chin.  Her blonde hair stuck to the back of her neck and her bangs fell into her eyes as she tried to force the shovel into the concrete-hard desert dirt.  Despite her best efforts, she could only scrape away the top layer of rock and dead fluff grass.  With each blow to the ground, fatigue and frustration gripped her arms and back. “Come on! Come on!” she groaned. She used the force of her scrubby fifteen-year-old frame to finally slip the point of the shovel into the stubborn dirt and pushed with all her might until flesh rubbed away from the palm of her hand when the ground finally broke. Braylee removed the last shovelful…

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March 11, 2014

A Night at Rodeo Houston

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March 5, 2013. I’m attending the School of Energy conference, learning about drill-bit hydrocarbons and the shale revolution here in Houston, the energy capital of America. A conference perk last night was Rodeo Houston. Around a hundred and fifty of us attendees piled into two big buses and went to Reliant Stadium, where we had our own box replete with food and drink. The view of the rodeo arena was awesome (see photo to the left), and the place is as huge as you’d expect of Texas. Above the arena was a display device with half a dozen high-def screens pointing every direction for closeup views of the action: saddleback bronc-riding, calf-roping, barrel racing in four-horse wagons…and death-defying bull-riding. A bull rider grips a a bull rope with one hand and has to stay astride the bucking beast…

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