We have long enjoyed Chef!, Lenny Henry's hysterical BBC short-lived series. I was looking for the series - sadly, it is no longer broadcast and one must find a DVD or a site that carries the video online - when I came across this fabulous interview he did some time ago.
Moogie and I had to listen to this several times to understand all of the words. We were laughing too hard to hear it!
I will never attend a funeral with quite the same expectations again...
Not only that, I've joined a group of fabulous authors and we're dedicating our time to providing a series of weekly free reads! Every Saturday morning, look for another short story to be released on our blog.
Eventually, there will be 26 of us, each contributing two stories a year. That's manageable for us and wonderful for you. You'll have the opportunity to sample prose and storytelling styles across a wide range.
The first series of stories is required to have a song title. I had a lot of mental angst over mine. I really, really, really wanted to do "It's Hard to Kiss The Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)". Of course, once I had given the song another listen, I couldn't get away from it!
This presented a number of problems. First of all, I tend to write dark stories. A dark story with that song title is not only just wrong, it would betray reader expectations because with that title, who would expect a dark tale? I did come up with a short story premise but...it was dark. Very dark. As in, a futuristic slave/overseer kind of dark. Not what I needed.
After I got the Notorious Cherry Bombs out of my head, I went back to my shelf of CDs.
Years ago I got the album dwightyoakamacoustic.net for Christmas. It has a lot of songs that stayed with me, and I have thought that it would be a fun project to write a story for each song. Maybe not to be published with that association and not sharing titles, but for my own interest. I'd keep that secret, while using the songs as the basis for plots and characters.
So which song would work for this project? I listened to the album a few times and afterward, Two Doors Down was the one that lingered. I'm not good at constructing short stories featuring drunks. I thought and thought about what a neighborhood bar provides and represents. Comfort, the reassurance of the predictable. But what if that is changed suddenly? When the outside intrudes, it's a wake-up call and shakes up everything. Like a kaleidoscope, then the colorful shards settle, it can well be a very different world.
Different worlds are good. I write most of my stories in different worlds. Different worlds offer a lot of opportunities to shake things up, make things up to suit my needs.
So who should be shaken up? Someone with something to hide...or to fear. It's very difficult to build a world, introduce at least two characters, throw them a curve ball to complicate their lives and resolve it all in less than 5,000 words. The reader needs to know enough to understand how much this event is pivotal, and how desperately the main character needs to maintain her equilibrium. That requires space on the page.
If the fear--and the intrusive element that complicates things--comes from the past, it can be introduced with hints and a bit of introspection from one character rather than having to be explained as it unfolds. So, the main character needs something fearful in her past that will send her into a tailspin. It's even better if at first she thinks it might be the answer to questions she has had that no one else can answer...
And thus was Two Doors Down born. It departs from the song in many ways. I couldn't redeem a drunk in that short a story, much as I'd like to. I hope it's not a betrayal of reader expectations but I KNOW it's not as much as it would have been if I'd posted a dark story with the title, "It's Hard to Kiss The Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)".
Several years ago, we moved to a larger house in a wonderful neighborhood. My elderly mother moved in with us (yes, I am old, older than you can imagine).
I have never been big on buying convenience foods, that are prepared in some factory by someone else's mother. However, running 3 small businesses, caring for her, running the household and over the past year, caring for Mistah Midnight, who has had some pretty serious health scares, has made me more open to buying prepared foods.
Periodically I will post here with the results of our forays into packaged, ready-to-eat stuff.
This week, in Pathmark, a dump display (that is what the industry calls the big heavy cardboard stand-alone racks) caught Moogie's eye. The dump contained a variety of SimplyAsia noodle bowls, labeled "premium natural". She loves Chinese food and is always on the lookout for a good deal. These were on sale, plus there was a $1 coupon taped to the front of the box.
She picked her flavor, spicy kung pao. It comes in a nice reusable/recyclable bowl with a lid. Inside were four packets: a large one with the noodles, one of freeze-dried vegetables, a medium packet of sauce, and another small one containing crunchy topping. The instructions are simple. Merely place the noodles in the bowl with the veggies and sauce on top. Zap it for a minute and a half, followed by standing time of another minute.
This had no protein and Moogie wanted it for dinner, so I dug some cooked shrimp out of the freezer, thawed them, heated them by pouring water over them from the InstaHot dispenser in our sink, and stirred them in when the noodle bowl was done.
Wowza, was that sauce HOT! Moogie ferreted out most of the shrimp and came looking for something else to eat. She couldn't take the heat. I ate the rest of it and it was tasty but quite spicy. (She missed three shrimp.) I liked the burn but I do like spicy foods.
Our verdict: RECOMMENDED, with high quality noodles, tasty sauce, good if you like really spicy dishes. We consider it to be FAR above Ramen but also much higher in price. I'm not sure I would pay up for this on a regular basis but then, I'm not drawing a reliable salary and I'm a penny-pincher to start with.