“Selkirk may have believed that a passing ship would pick him up in a matter of weeks, but he would eventually spend more than four years and four months alone on the island. He passed the time by notching the days and months on a tree, reading his Bible and chasing goats—first for food, and then merely to have something to do. All the while, he kept his eyes peeled for signs of rescue, but the few ships he saw flew the Spanish flag. On one occasion, he was even forced to hide in a tree when Spanish mariners landed on the island to resupply. Selkirk was finally rescued in February 1709, when a band of privateers … Read the rest
I returned the following morning. I always do, or try to, after a night like last night. Sometimes I leave something behind.
Once I found my shirt hanging from a tree. I asked some local boys to throw rocks at it to knock it loose. They happily obliged.
Another time I left behind the smashed window in the door of a butcher’s shop. The next morning, the owner was taking inventory and I offered to help sweep up. He shrugged and turned away. I whispered an apology and then bought the last fresh ham from his wife. I had a bit of a stomachache, but knew I would eat it later.
But this morning at the gas station, I couldn’t find any evidence of misbehavior. In … Read the rest
I was reduced to crawling through the dirt. My legs and back were done. On the upside, being near the ground meant I could better see any movement among the leaves and trash. Movement meant something living, and that meant food.
I inched along toward a wooded area and my hope grew as I neared a rotting log. I struggled to flip it and saw dozens of larvae and some larger bugs scurrying around. I gleefully reached in and got a fistfull of rotting wood and grubs and picked out the larvae one by one with my lips, as though kissing them. I didn’t chew – just let them slide down my throat.
This was the biggest meal I had had in days, but I suddenly … Read the rest
The speaker crackles and a voice says, “Hello Finn. Apologies for the circumstances. You understand how privacy is paramount. Your past assignments have shown you have the skill to erase digital histories and now I need you to erase some… for me. This job will require more… delicacy. I’m prepared to triple your rate.”
Finn smiles. “I’m all yours.”
Big Eddie finishes a call with his wife and waves Henry in. “Everything changes when you have kids. So… A very private individual we’ve worked with before asked for you. Said you were discreet.”
Eddie gives an address and another for the dropoff point.
“Don’t write it down. Remember it. They’re paranoid; I don’t care. It’s not my job to care. In fact, it’s … Read the rest
A rewarding interview with one of the writers of the ‘Alien’ prequel, ‘Prometheus’, Jon Spaihts:
His bit about the central predicament defining the protagonist is obvious, yet insightful.
And he goes on about making narratives compeling:
“There are three motives of story that matter: having something that you hope for, having something that you fear, or having a burning question that you need answered. Any one of them is sufficient. If you can have more than one of them running at one time, or all three—you can be afraid of one thing and fearful of another and desperate to understand some mystery that’s been dangled in front of you, then you are maximally engaged, all three motors running.”… Read the rest
A ChoiceScript game I wrote in November 2010 has been ported to an app!
iTunes customers have given it 4.5 stars!
“Brings back good memories!… Back before computers and video games were common place, these books were such a fun way to spend time. Decent writing and lots of fun choices to make, about to read it again and see how it ends this time.”
“Fun adventure… Good story, a number of different choices with consequences, and a chance to name your own starship – goldfish not included. Thanks for creating a fun app!”
“Really good… I really enjoyed this adventure! It’s absolutely one of the best … Read the rest
This was entered into the 9th Casual Gameplay Design Competition where it lost the 3rd-place slot by something like 1/100 of a point.
There are no graphics, but there is no typing either, as there was in Zork and those other classic Infocom games. Instead, every few paragraphs the reader is presented with a multiple choice about how the plot should unfold. It’s a fascinating and unique genre.
The prior examples of ChoiceScript games I had seen were quite dramatic, so I wanted to do something more whimsical. With the 1980s … Read the rest
Game of Thrones has captured a lot of attention. I’ve seen a few episodes and wonder if it’s not just Mad Men meets Lord of the Rings – a very slick and polished period soap opera set in Middle Earth.
But the intro is gorgeous. It is reminiscent of Tolkien’s books, with a map at the very beginning to show you the world the characters inhabit. Supposedly it will change over the course of the show to reflect the changes to the world.
I’ve been having trouble keeping track of all the characters, but their animal representatives help keep them in order in my head
Stark = Wolf
Targaryen = Dragon
Lannister = Lion
Baratheon = Stag
Arryn = Eagle
Greyjoy = Squid
Tully = Fish… Read the rest
I entered NPR’s 5th three-minute fiction contest, where you have to write a “flash fiction” story in 600 words or less. The constraints were that the stories had to begin with the line, “Some people swore that the house was haunted,” and end with the line, “Nothing was ever the same again after that.”
I didn’t win, or even get into the final round, which is fine because the winning story was quite good. The winning stories in these contests tend to be more “literature” and less “popular”, which is more my style.
Regardless, here’s mine.
“A New Man”
Some people swore that the house was haunted. That didn’t bother me – it meant I was left alone.
Someone knocked at the door … Read the rest
NPR has a ‘3-minute fiction’ contest, which puts a word count limit at 600.
In the field, this is known as ‘flash fiction.’
The even briefer version is called ‘hint fiction’ and has a word limit of around 25.
“Blind Date,” by Max Barry.
She walks in and heads turn. I’m stunned. This is my setup? She looks sixteen. Course, it’s hard to tell, through the scope.
“Houston, We Have a Problem,” by J. Matthew Zoss.
I’m sorry, but there’s not enough air in here for everyone. I’ll tell them you were a hero.… Read the rest
Conversations with My Mailman III
It was a warm afternoon; the rain was ending and the Sun was coming out.
My mailman was under an awning with one bare foot on the pavement and his shoe on the mailbag. He was wringing out his sock.
I slowed when I got near him. “Step in a puddle?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He said without looking up.
After a moment he noticed I was still there and he looked up, then smiled. “Oh, Hey. I thought you was someone else. Yeah, these puddles’ll get ya. I was talking with a buddy of mine over there across the street and I stepped in the gutter when I was talking. He’s a new dad and trying to figure out what to … Read the rest
matchstick kidbooks: children’s literature, emphasizing books that promote child development
This is a list I began compiling years ago, when I knew several families with children ranging in age from 2 through mid-adolescence.
It’s essentially all the books that won at least one award.
The categories correspond to a range of children’s ages.
For younger ages, the higher number is the average age of child who would enjoy reading the book, while the lower number is the age of the child who would enjoy listening to the book being read.
Reading level is different for every child, so the numbers given for each category may be above or below your child’s level.
Book recommendations for 3 to 5 year olds
I ate shit once. I literally had a piece of a turd in my mouth and I chewed and swallowed it.
Brian and I were upstairs in my room. We could hear our parents laughing and talking downstairs; I shut the door as Brian positioned himself by the window. He had just returned from the bathroom with a big wad of toilet paper. I had a glass of water ready. He looked at me with eyes wide, waiting for me.
“Well?” I said. “Let’s get this over with.”
Brian handed me the wad. It was slightly warm in my hands. I slowly unwrapped the paper, not wanting to see that first peek of brown, but there it was: Brian’s turd. It was a good one, firm … Read the rest