May 19, 2014

Bravery in a Windows 8 World

I don’t much care for television commercials. I mean, come on, “ask your doctor” if you need to take a placebo pill for your placebo-fantasy condition whose side effects will make you sick? But I don’t want to get started. Except my wife and I were watching “Big Bang Theory” and this Microsoft commercial comes on. Innocuous enough, but then at the end there’s some woman screeching something I cannot understand. It sounds like she’s having a bad-tattoo experience. Or maybe her phone just fell out of her back pocket and was run over by a truck. Or maybe it was a cry of frustration with trying to work a Windows 8 computer. I was curious enough to Google around to find out why she was in such pain. Turns out she’s singing something about being…

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May 7, 2014

Photography by Grant Kreinberg

Artist’s Statement: I did not start out to be an artist. My education and experience has been as a civil engineer. But I got my first camera when I was about 12 and never really put it down.  My photographic interests lean toward nature and the outdoors, probably as a result of my work. I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a camera with me wherever I go. When something catches my eye, I photograph it. Please click on each photo for a larger view.   This is a car roof, taken at a custom car show in Santa Maria, CA last year. I call it “A Different View of the Universe” because it reminds me of the rings of Saturn.   ***   Two Barn Abstracts. These were shot in an old barn at Point Reyes,…

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May 7, 2014

“Call Me Harry” a Novel by Randy Cade

Note: This is an excerpt from the novel, Call Me Harry: Murderer, Bank Robber or Mayor?, which is available as a Kindle book. It is Volume 1 in The Harry Parnes Series. A sequel will be published int Fall, 2014. Harold ”Harry” Parnes, 63 years old, has just been released (again) from a prison in New Mexico. He’s walking the dirt road from the prison toward the town of Mesa Rock. A car passes by. The Toyota Camry stopped and I was glad. I was parched, my forehead was blazing from sunburn, my knee was throbbing and I was closer to panic than I had been since my first seven years worrying about the cellmeat in prison. I heard music, a thunderous, monotonous, pulsing drop beat with angry Afro Americans mumbling rhythmic pornographic curses. Hip…

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May 7, 2014

Lucky, by Jason Brick

Good afternoon, y’all. First off, I really want to thank everybody for coming on out today and giving old Lawrence the sort of sendoff he deserves. I know if he was here to see it, our friend would be just beside himself with joy at all this. Except for the being dead part, I mean. I don’t suppose he’d be too thrilled about that. Well, when Lawrence’s ma asked me to say a few words today, I almost told her no. I’m not too great in front of crowds and all. But Lawrence, well, I know he’da been there for me. So here I am. And here’s what I have to say. I sure hope it’s okay enough. We called him Lucky, the boys and me did, even back when we were all kids. And…

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May 6, 2014

Shallow, by Benjamin J. Trosper

I. Late, as always, but I suppose specters have no clock. “Would you like another Coke?” My waitress, heavy enough to be a mother with a face twice as harsh, did not bother to catch my eye, but how could she when the shadows cast over the tables were deeper than those over the bar?  I looked down into my glass. Dark fizzy foam reminded me where I was, corner booth facing glass splintered with girls. Hot and hotter underneath their sweatshirts and sweat soaked into their hair. There she sits . . . and I softly whispered to myself, as I did on the landing between staircases at home and at school, “Hey . . . Nicole.” “Mr. King of. . .” My waitress blinked, as if tricked by the light. “King of Night-marez?”…

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May 4, 2014

Interview With Alex Hughes, Author of “Sharp” and “Clean”

Interview With Alex Hughes, Author of “Sharp” and “Clean”

I had a chance to meet Alex at last year’s Willamette Writers Conference — of which both I and Fictional Cafe founder Jack are on the presenters’ staff for this year — and she was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions both about her work and the work. 1. Let’s start with the numbers. How many books did you write before writing “Clean?” How many queries did you send for “Clean?” How long had you considered yourself a writer before making the sale? Clean was my third completed novel. Clean was also my learning novel, on which I learned revision, scene structure, story structure, description, pacing, and a whole mess of other lovely and difficult things. By the time the final revision was done for the publisher, I’d taken it through eight drafts. Only a…

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April 11, 2014

Nespresso: The Creme de la Creme

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

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

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

“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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