12-Minute Tales – Endgame

“It’s round 3 of the international chess global world cup. My name is Stu Heyguy and I will be your commentator for today, just like I was yesterday. Oh, looks like the game is about to start. Yes, two of the world’s greatest grandmasters. From Switzerland we have Josef Guldana and our reigning world champ, 28 year-old Kip Huegell. Kip has been world champion for 15 years now, making him history’s longest reigning world champ, but let’s see if Josef will knock King Kip off his perch. Alright, game’s about to start. They shake hands. And, whoa, look at them go! Moving pieces onto black and white squares! With their hands! Look at the focus. The concentration. Josef is already sweating bullets. He’s already lost both knights, a bishop, and three pawns. But then there’s Kip. He’s in deep focus. I wonder what he’s thinking…”

Tuna salad. No. I should probably use the rest of the chicken up first. Maybe I can, oh he’s moving his queen there? Interesting. Anyway, maybe I can just make a chicken barbecue salad. That sounds like it could be good. Use up the rest of the lettuce. Check. But do I have any corn? Hm, God, this guy seems worried. Well, I am up two games, about to be three. This guy is not a good player. But they’re all good players. Anyone who faces me has to be, but, it’s almost like it’s nothing. I might as well be fighting an empty chair. Maybe I should retire. I mean, I love the game, but the game is only as fun as your opponent. Geez, look at him. Hands shaking. Left eye twitching. He’s probably been training for months, years for this moment. Maybe I should make it look like I’m struggling. But it’s probably already too late for that. And I don’t want to insult the guy…but what would I do if I stopped playing chess. I mean, I’m sure I would find something. I have other interests, like stenciling. But, man, none of it even compares. Like, what am I without–check…maybe I should lose this one. Make things more interesting. No, I can’t do that. God…

“And, oof! There goes Josef’s queen! And he resigns. What a stunning endgame. Two titans struggling for supremacy, but only one can win. I’m sure tomorrow will be just as exciting. But I am 100 percent certain Kip is just going to win again, because that’s just what he does. But Josef is one heck of a player, and nothing can take that away from him.”


Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

 

12-Minute Tales – Mission Zero, Part I

Captain’s Log…heh, I’ve always wanted to say that. I mean, Captain’s Log, Space Time 27002: our deployment from the station went as expected. No hiccups though there seems to be some minor malfunctions with the food generators. The engineers, however, are hard at work in abating the issue. We are now headed to our destination, planet Yora, which is approximately 67 light-years away in the Ploraxis galactic system. Before I go, I should say that…this will be the Eagle’s first mission and, as its first captain, it is an honor to be at the helm of this historic moment. The crew is diverse, both in race, experience, and skill-level, but they are all equally passionate and loyal. I can tell that this will be a truly successful mission. Anyway, Captain Hubert signing-off.

Captain’s Log, Space Time 27015: As captain one is bound to make mistakes, but what matters is how one deals with those mistakes. At least, that was what I was taught at the academy. When we finally arrived at Yora no one told me that the atmosphere would be as thick and, well, deadly, as it was. But, apparently, as my first officer was quick to point out, it was all laid out in the brief which, admittedly, I skimmed. As captain, one cannot spend too much time on any particular task, especially those of the mundane quality. Though, I do feel some regret for those two recon officers whose lives were lost in the thick yellow clouds hovering above the planet. Their loss will not be in vain. This mission will be a success. Hubert signing-off.

Captain’s Log, Space Time 27099: Using proper procedures we were able to obtain what was needed from the planet for experimentation, we are now en route to the station. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what these samples are meant for or what the station exactly needs from them, but, as captain, what matters is completing the mission, not questioning it. On a side-note, the crew have been complaining of a foul and unusual smell in the lower quarters. Our engineers are addressing the issue as we speak. Hubert signing-off.


Well, my 12 minute writing session is done so I definitely have to continue this story for next time. 

 

Human Creativity and the Stone Age of Art

Another week, another set of questions where I can showcase my expertise. This week, Fandango has decided to ask some pretty provocative questions about one of my favorite topics:

Are there limits to human creativity? Is it be possible for humans to create something completely novel and new that is based on nothing that previously existed? Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?

Something can’t come out of nothing, and this is true even for creative endeavors. Art that is seemingly original is always inspired by something else. Nothing is made within a vacuum. However, what’s interesting about these questions is that they almost imply that this is a negative.

“Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?” Yes, human creativity is just that, the building and reconfiguration of other things, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor a good thing. It’s just a fact. However, expansions and rearrangements of older ideas can lead to some truly great and, well, creative results.

Sometimes, creative ideas are only slightly more different or better than its precursors. However, a person may have a “leap” where they think or create something that takes previous ideas and launches them into space:

  • The film 2001: A Space Odyssey obviously takes ideas from previous science fiction films, but it still represents a creative leap forward for cinema and science fiction as a whole.
  • Citizen Kane: On the surface, not that original, yet it was still a highly innovative work of art with its nonlinear narrative and the use of focus, shadows, and character placement to convey a large amount of information.
  • Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow: Again, on the surface, the story doesn’t seem all that original, but it’s told in a completely unique way that represents a leap: its lack of close-ups emphasizes how insignificant the characters are in comparison to the world moving around them. Not only is this novel in comparison to other films, but it actually makes the movie more effective and moving as we understand, on a deeper level, the struggle and plight of its characters.

However, such works are scarce. Most works of art, whether it’s music or film or literature, are not really creative. Sure, they may take previous ideas and change them slightly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is any sort of “leap” or, at the very least, a re-invigoration. This is because most humans are not creative.

But, I’m optimistic. While human creativity, overall, might be limited, I think we’re still in the stone age of art. While there are some truly great and creative works out there, 99% of art just isn’t very good. This shows that we still have a long way to go before truly understanding what art is capable of and how we can comprehend and expand its potential. But, this is going to involve people looking backward and understanding what works, what doesn’t, and going from there.


Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

 

12-Minute Tales – A Strange Dominion, Part I

The mist came and swept over the mountain then descended toward the village below. It swarmed over the buildings, and the road started to fade underneath its pale hand.

“Mom?”

“Yes dear?”

“What’s going on outside?” Sally asked as she watched the world outside disappear into fog.

“Nothing dear. Now eat your Burger King.”

Sally turned away from the window and picked at her fries, her eyes occasionally looking over to watch the mist unfurl itself within the glass. “It’s not going to rain is it? I was going to go to Tammy’s tonight. She found a giant frog and–”

“Mommy’s watching Jeopardy dear.” Sally forgot she wasn’t supposed to ask so many questions what Mommy was watching her game shows. Sally soon finished dinner and ran into her room. She stopped. Her window was completely white. No sun. No buildings or cars or trees. It was almost like staring into a void. Sally had never seen anything like it. Her heart froze.

“Mommy!” But her mom just grunted and continued watching the brainiacs on Jeopardy answer questions about modern linguistics.

Soon, the mist started slipping underneath their door, slowly traveling across the floor. Sally entered and saw this. Her eyes were red as she watched her mother sit there as the whiteness rolled over her, turning her into shadow. Sally let out a scream and bolted for her room, slamming the door behind her. She grabbed her pillows and tried her best to cover the crack underneath her door before hiding away in the closet.

It was dark in her closet. Completely black. Then she realized something. She had heard no screams, no alarms. Why was she freaking out? For all she knew everything was fine. So, what made her so scared?

After what seemed like an eternity she slowly opened her closet and her eyes widened.


Welp. My 12 minutes of writing are up and that’s the last sentence I was able to finish. I may have to do a second part, but we’ll see.

The Internal Thirst

sand…

sand…

dust…

The sun hangs over
As I ride my steed
Deeper into the valley
Hungry eyes lingering
On my head, wishin’
I was dead

sand…

sand…

so much sand…

This is the life
Of a desperado, an
Outlaw, a man without
Name or country, all i have
Is my horse, Larry, and the
Birds that fly over, taking
Bites out the sky, all because
I forgot to pay my tab

sand…

sand…

too much sand…

I’m no drunkard though,
I’m a free spirit, but sometimes
I gets a bit thirsty is all, not always
Sure for what though. A pain that
you can’t lasso or shoot at sundown
or avoid like Injuns in the night…
Maybe one day I will finds out
What this thing inside wants, maybe
Out here in the dreaded beige yonder…

sand…

sand…

more sand…

sand…


Written for The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.

12-Minute Tales – 5,000 Words

“Remember: you have to write everyday. At least 5,000 words a day. So, get typing…NOW!”

“OK!” Berenice slapped her fingers against the keyboard. As she typed she asked, “so, this will make me a better writer, right?”

“NO!”

“Oh.”

“But you need to keep typing so you can tell your writer friends that you wrote today even though no one is ever going to read what you wrote because you don’t have much talent or creativity. And plus, we need to test out this keyboard to see how long it lasts. Now. KEEP TYPING!”

“Ok!” Berenice’s fingers continued their panicked assault against the keys, and words hurried themselves onto the screen. Stupid, meaningless words.

“But, practice makes perfect right? Like, maybe I’ll be good one day right, and people will want to read my stuff, right?”

“Maybe, but that’s not the POINT! The point is to tell everyone that you hit your mark and then everyone else can say how great that is.”

“But why?”

“What? KEEP TYPING!” The slavemaster cracked his whip and honked his tiny horn in Berenice’s ear.

“Ow! Why?”

“You need to be able to keep typing no matter what distract–HONK!”

“Why are you saying ‘honk’? Just use your–”

The horn blasted into Berenice’s ear and she flew across the room, her head slamming against the drywall. “Oh shit!” The slavemaster ran over. Berenice was unconscious. “Come on.” He dragged her body over and propped it against the computer. “Come on. Keep typing. We haven’t even met our goal yet. We’re at let’s see here…word 264. We’ve got a ways to go. Come on!”

Berenice’s eyes slowly opened. “Wha…”

“Oh good, you’re awake.”

“What happened?”

“You fell asleep. Yes. Because you’re lazy. Now, the only way you can feel fulfilled is if you KEEP TYPING! Because if you don’t you will feel like A FAILURE!”

“But, I’m hun–”

“HONK!”

Berenice sighed and continued typing, blood racing from her head and dousing the computer screen. But, by some miracle, after 3 weeks of non-stop typing she ended-up with a New York Times Bestseller. Her book, about a robot that learns the power of friendship after turning into a mushroom, was well-received and won many awards. It was read by 6 people.

“Hey Sasha, I’m back!” Berenice sauntered in with her sunglasses and fur coat. Sasha, the slave driver, lept from his beanbag chair and rushed over to the bestselling author. “Oh God. I’m so glad you’re back! There was nothing to do so–”

“Enough. I have typing to do.”

“Right, of course mistress.”

“And make sure that horn is in tune.”

“Yes. I’ve kept it in tune. Just for you. Oh, please don’t leave me again.”

“We’ll see.” And Berenice kept typing into the night while Sasha cracked his whip and blasted his tiny little horn.


Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

12-Minute Tales – A Minor Gift

“Don’t you like it?”

“Yes, of course…what is it?”

“It’s a garden gnome!”

Cassie examined the sculpture.

“It’s our anniversary so I wanted to get you something special. Don’t you like it?”

Cassie squinted at the garden gnome’s face. “But I don’t have a garden. Or a front lawn.”

“Well, I thought you can just stick him inside. You’re in need of some good artwork in here.”

Cassie’s apartment was bare, to say the least, and there was hardly any furniture. “Oh. Um…thanks.”

“You don’t like it.”

Cassie sighed. “I mean, I just like to keep things simple, you know?” But Jenny’s lips started to quiver. “But I’m sure I will find a good spot for this little guy.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“No, no. Come here.” They hugged. Jenny was a bit odd, but, at least so far, it was the best relationship Cassie had ever been in. No one had ever given her a 2 month anniversary gift before.

But Cassie did not like Frederick, the garden gnome. Whenever Jenny wasn’t around, Cassie would shove him in the closet. At night, his dead-eyed stare were like two glowing orbs floating in the dark. And his smile…she just couldn’t get over it. But, of course, she couldn’t just toss it.

Months had passed and eventually Jenny and Cassie broke-up. After a couple of days of grief, Cassie opened her closet to find Frederick’s red hat sticking out of a pile of clothes. She pulled away the clothing and grabbed the gnome. She stared at it for a few moments and sighed. It was such a stupid gift. But, at least Jenny tried…And Cassie tossed the garden gnome right into the trash where it ended-up in a landfill, its smile half-buried under the rubbish of others.


So, this one didn’t end-up very well either. Oh well. At least I managed to incorporate the Word of the Day: Anniversary.