Friday, May 30, 2008

What's That I Smell?

I went outside on my lunch today to run a couple errands, and...oh my...*sniff sniff* couldn't be...*sniff sniff* smells like summer! And not just any summer smell, but the smell of summer after a powerful storm. The kind of dark cloud, doom-baring storm that makes you oogle at the raw power of nature. The kind of storm that saturates the ground so that the grass grows ten inches over night.

Doesn't quite feel like summer yet (although the rain did bring the humidity with it). Doesn't quite look like it. But it's starting to smell that way: green and warm and damp with fresh rain.

Havign Porbelms

This monrign I sseem to be hvaing porblems typing. My flingers don't want to cooperat.

Friday Funtastic Follies: It Only Takes One

My god, is it really Friday already? The week has just kind of flown by and I feel like I haven't really gotten much done even though I have gotten some stuff done. Part of that is because I was at home yesterday taking care of my son who was sick and giving my wife a break since she didn't feel good. I hope he's feeling better today, both of them really. Couldn't take another day off work though. Anyway, on with the fun!

It Only Takes One

It only takes one marmoset to ruin a party.

It only takes one dinosaur to tackle Paul Bunion.

It only takes one thief to catch a daisy.

It only takes one doctor to drive a subway train.

It only takes one bottle of shampoo to lubricate a shampoo gun.

It only takes one moose to carry a bus to the Sahara.

It only takes one blog to drive people up the wall.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday Monotany Meltdown: Monster Encounter

Monster Encounter

The monsters in the sewers kept bugging me for pocket lint, and you come to a point where 1) you run out of lint, and 2) you're just sick of being pestered by these pathetic creatures. They are refered to as monsters, and they could be scary if they'd flash some claws once in a while and switch their diet to something more shocking than pocket lint.

Well I got fed up, and told one off. I mean really laid into the little bugger. I think I even scared it some.

"How can you call yourself a monster," I said. "The only thing you've got going for you is that you live in the sewer. My cocker spaniel is scarier than you!"

On and on I went, until my throat was cracked and dry and the so-called monster was looking pretty defeated. When people would walk by and see me berating the sewer grate I would just smile and nod, and they would walk by a little faster.

Well, I didn't hear from them for a while, at least not directly. I'd hear it and it's companions shuffeling around, muttering amonst themselves.

Finally, the day came when the gravely voice from the sewer drain called to me. I approached and a hand black as tar, scaly and hairy at the same time, reached out for me. I'll admit, for a moment I was taken aback. Then it spoke.

"Give me your shoe laces," it hissed.

I tried to hold back the laughter, for about a second. I nearly fell over I was laughing so hard. I stopped laughing long enough to shout "ooga booga!" at it, at which point it started and ran away.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Aint Craigslist Fun?

So in an effort to get rid of some of the junk we didn't get rid of at the garage sale and to sell my wife's old guitars, all for the Brandi wants a new refrigerator fund, I put a couple of listings on Craigslist. One for the furniture items that were left over and two for the two guitars. Within minutes I had received a flurry of emails about the guitars. Apparently on Craigslist people like guitars. I then found out that I really didn't know a lot about what I was selling or I could have saved myself some email trouble by putting some vital info on there, such as where the guitar was made and what specific series it was. One guy even chastised me because I didn't put exactly what I was selling up. Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!

The other thing about Craigslist was I took a tour around the rants section, and boy oh boy are there some weird people posting some weird shit out there. And having little Internet spats through Craigslist with people you'll never meet? What's up with that? It kind of makes my brain hurt.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Funtastic Friday Follies: The Wombat's Return

The Wombat's Return

This time, when the wombat came in I could tell something was seriously wrong. Last time he was a mess from his fight with the space monkeys. It had been par for the course. This time, he was limping severely and a deep wound by his rib cage was oozing blood. He grumbled angrily as he came around to my desk. I looked at him for a minute, eyeing up his condition, and I was worried that I might have to call maintenance to pick up a wombat carcass from my cube. Unfortunately, my super spatula was in the shop for a recharge and repairs due to an incident at a high-speed flapjack flipping contest.

"What are you looking at," he said.

"You don't look good," I replied and eyed the puddle of blood soaking into the carpet.

"I thought you had the space monkeys taken care of."

"I did, but they came back, in greater numbers, and this time they brought a GSM."

"What's a GSM?"

He looked at me like I was stupid. I gave him a penetrating glare that said I wasn't in the mood, I had deadlines after all, and he explained. "A GSM is a Giant Snake Monster. They come from one of the first planets that the monkeys took over. Their heads are the size of a Volkswagen van and their scaled bodies stretch on seemingly forever. Their reptilian minds are as cold as any machine and they have a nearly unquenchable thirst for blood."


"That's all you can say? 'Oh?' If you saw one you wouldn't have any clean underwear I can just about guarantee that. Besides that, the GSM plays host to any number of smaller but no less vicious creatures from the depth of space that possess the same hunger. I was one of the few that made it back."

At this he slumped down on the floor and I was really starting to worry about the stain, and the smell that wasn't getting any better. His eyes drifted closed and for a minute his breathing stopped. Then, raggedly he sucked in a great lungful and began to snore. How I wished I had that spatula so that I could at least get him outside. Fortunately I still had my Port-o-Genie 3000. I conjured up the fiery demon and told him to send the wombat back to his domicile and clean up the mess. After all, if the wombat was here reporting all this to me, he must have saved the day.

The wombat woke as his form faded away. Panic settled on his face quickly.

"You stupid human! The threat is still hovering above the planet! We got the snake, but its parasites float up there now, and without my help you are doomed."

Then it disappeared and the Port-O-Genie with it since I had just used up the 3,000th order.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No Deadline = No Good

Actually, I should qualify that headline: No Imminent Deadline = No Good. At least lately, it seems like I’m the kind of writer that needs an approaching deadline to really finish something. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t always like it, but that’s just how it’s worked out.

Even now, right now, I have an article that needs to be completed so the subject can see a proof, but I’m having a hard time buckling down to finish it. I have a self-imposed deadline, but those are just BS, and my brain does not respect them.

NaNoWriMo was great, because if I wanted to be a “winner” (which I am thank you very much), I had to get the minimum word count in every day. I had to keep on task. Granted, there may have been times that I lagged a little, there were times I wanted to just stop, there were times that I wanted to switch to another project, but the deadline and the goal helped me pull through. Although I really don’t care for the story, and I don’t know if I’m ever going to go back to it.

Case in point, I started a short story the other day, one that I’m excited about and I think could be really funny, but now after about the third day of working on it — a few hundred words a day — my output is starting to wan. I want to work on it during the day, but the pesky day job gets in the way. I wanted to do some work on it at night, but the pesky night job and/or responsibilities at home get in the way.

Another example is the Writers’ Digest Short Story Competition. I entered, but it took a long-ass time for me to finish the story. I knew about the competition months ago. I even started the story months ago, but it wasn’t until I had a couple weeks to deadline that I really buckled down to write it all. And then I was pressing the deadline to reread and get my changes made.

I know it’s a discipline thing, and right now I just don’t seem to have any. This bothers me immensely, but in my mind I’m automatically coming up with excuses as to why I’m not getting work done. I’ve thought about getting up an hour or half hour earlier every day and getting some writing done then, but usually I feel like I’m running on little enough sleep as it is. I don’t know. What do you suggest?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Garage Sale Part Deux

So I know it’s Wednesday and the Great Garage Sale of ‘08 ended Sunday, but what can I say, I’m busy, so lay off. All in all, we made a good haul and I got rid of some of the big items that we don’t have a place for anymore. We totalled about $250ish. There’s still plenty to sell I’m sure, but I didn’t have time to go through and find it all. We’re pondering having another garage sale later this summer. We’ll see how it goes.

We had this old couch that we wanted to get rid of, and even at $5 no one would buy it. Some guy, mid 20’s I’d say, pulled up in an El Camino, backed up onto the curtain of the driveway actually, and went straight to it. He really liked it, and said he had one just like it but a little larger. He wanted it, but said he would come back because he wasn’t sure if he should take it or not. I got the impression he’d get in trouble with a girlfriend. He never did come back, and in the end we ended up putting it on the curb Sunday night (Monday is garbage day). It was still there when I left for work in the morning, but our neighbor said he was pretty sure he saw an El Camino come by and someone take it before the garbage came. Oh well, if it was him, the guy probably spent $5 in gas just to come by twice to get it.

There were some price negotiations, and by Sunday, I just wanted to get rid of the stuff, so I was taking just about anything. Some people were annoying at how low they went, but oh well.
Throughout the weekend, I tried to create a confined area where the garage sale ended by making a U at the end of the stuff, so people wouldn’t go back to the rest of the driveway. This didn’t work, and people still walked past to look at what we had closer to the garage, like we were hiding the really good stuff back there.

On Sunday, I was only open about half the day since traffic was slow and I didn’t feel like being out there any more, but as soon as I started to pack up, then people started coming, so I packed up really slowly. All in all we only ended up doing about $30 worth of business on Sunday, but then the weather was too good that day and it didn’t appear there were any other garage sales going on as there had been the previous two days.

So, all in all, it went well. We made a little more money than I would have anticipated, which is going into the wife wants a new refrigerator fund. Now I just have to get rid of a glass display case, a butcher’s block and a student desk that used to be my wife’s and I think was stolen from the set of Full House. Any takers?

Dealin with them crazies

So as I’ve said here before, I’ve got this part-time job at a library now. It’s a good job, you know, nice people, low stress, nice environment, etc. etc.

It’s all good, but there’s this woman that is there literally every day that is a The person that trained me said that this woman is mentally out of alignment (to put it nicely) but she doesn’t really bother anyone, and everyone just laughs off what she says. The first day I worked there she was nice and seemed to be in a good mood; last night, not so much. She came up to the counter, and this is how our interaction went:

Me: Hello. How are you today

Crazy Lady (in a frustrated tone of voice): Fine. Is that the end of the questions?

Me: *checks out DVD and hands it back to her* There you go. Have a good night.

Crazy Lady: I wish you wouldn’t tell me what to do.

Me: Awkward silence

Then she proceeded to have a conversation with the other circulation clerk about the clerks recent hair cut, which boiled down to Crazy Lady telling the other clerk she needed to grow her hair out, that it was too short.

Who would have thought a library would be so interesting?

Monday, May 19, 2008

You Don't Want to Know

Go ahead, ask me what I've been doing for the last two hours. Well? Ok, I've been cleaning the fridge and freezer, a task that hasn't been done in only God knows how long. I scrubbed and scraped goop of many colors, consistencies and textures. Part of the goop was a nice red mess from when the dufus who's been putting in our new bathroom left his can of Rockstar Energy Drink in the freezer for too long and it exploded. Gross. Now, I've got to make a lunch for tomorrow, and of course, nothing really sounds appetizing right now.

Monday Monotony Meltdown: The Wombat's Visit

Already I have let a Funtastic Friday Follies pass me by, and I nearly forgot about the Monday Monotony Meltdown, but I have just remembered. Bad Matt, bad. You should be more responsible with your blogging. Anyway, here is is:

The Wombat's Visit

Today of all days the wombat had to come. It waddled into the office, sniffing tentatively and going on and on about how the universe was such a safe place because of its efforts. Already having a hard time concentrating, I tried to just ignore it, but its bulk and the stench of many dead space monkeys that followed it around as a puppy follows a steak made this impossible. A fresh cut was just above his right shoulder and the wound was oozing.

"I go to all this trouble of eliminating the space monkeys from this sector," he said, "and I can't even get a mention in your silly mag. "I tried to explain once again that our mag has no place for wombats, but it was to no avail.

By this time, his stench was bothering everyone in the room, especially after he shook himself to try and dislodge some of the space monkeys' blood. A wad of green monkey hair stuck to my copy stand and I had to get a scraper and use nearly half a bottle of Goo Gone to get it off. I was getting angry, and my boss wanted the creature gone, so with a flick of my wrist I deployed my automatic, levitating, Teflon-coated, gargantuan spatula and scooped him up. With the use of my containment field in a box it was no problem to keep him in place on the floating slab of metal and hustle him outside, where I deposited him at the back of the parking lot. I set the containment field to dissolve in two minutes, giving me plenty of time to get back inside and not worry about him slinking in the open door after me.

I was walking down the final hall to my cube, passing the windows, when a movement caused me to look up and out. The wombat flew past, his chrome-plated ionic jetpack carrying him ever skyward. In his right hand he carried his MB (monkey blaster) 55+. With his left he was flicking me off. I waved the spatula at him, realizing that we'd just play this game again in the weeks to come, just like we've done so many times before.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Garage Sale Weekend

We're having a garage sale this weekend. We got a decent turn out. Made a nice little bundle of cash. Two more days to go. Day 1 included getting sunburn on the back of my neck, an old polish woman trying to get what we were selling for a fraction of what I had it priced at (not that we were selling stuff for that high anyway. I though we were lowballing everything), the same woman wanted to know if she could bring her own stuff to sell at our sale on Sunday, a bunch of people looking at our cabinets for sale and saying hmmmmm and then not buying, and a host of others. Back at it tomorrow I guess.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"God Speed Little Doodle"

I just sent off my story for the 77th Annual Writers' Digest Short Story Competition. It's called "Scratching The Itch" and it's a funny little story, although I feel, and one of the other peope that have read it said I could do funnier. But still, I'm pretty satisfied with the effort and we'll just have to wait and see what's going to happen.

I've been trying to get some other people in the office to do a story too. Of the 5, two submitted stories and the other 3 are opting for the late deadline of June 2. I wish them luck, and anyone who has submitted a story for that matter. However, I rather see my story do better, so everyone just get out of my way.

So to send off my story, in the words of Mr. Ned Flanders, "God speed little doodle."

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Sound at the End of the World

The sound that heralded the end of the world was the most annoying thing ever heard. A high pitched warbling that repeated the same handful of notes over and over, it cut through the thoughts of everyone, jack hammering into their brains. The sound that came before that was rather more interesting. And the sound that came after was easily a million times more interesting. But then compared to the sound at the end of the world, just about anything would be.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Monotany Meltdown: The Greatest Super Power That Never Was

For an explanation of the Monday Monotany Meltdown, click here. And now, on with the show...

The Greatest Super Power That Never Was

The greatest super power that never was is the power to blink truly annoying people into an alternate dimension. In this alternate universe, these people would sit in a kind of purgatory, trapped with other truly annoying individuals. The hero would have to make periodic visits to this other place to determine which of the inhabitants have changed their ways so that they may return to the true world.

Of course, a hero of this nature would have to be totally just and righteous and good to determine fairly and accurately who would need to go to that dimension. That person wouldn't ever really exist. And that is why this is the greatest power that never was. Of course, one day this ability may very well manifest in a retail setting, in which case no one would be safe.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day to all those mothers out there! I celebrated with my mother yesterday. We went simple with some flowers and a new photo of Logan. Today my wife, a very wonderful mother, had a relaxing day, and my mother-in-law came over for a little cook out. I hope my wife had a great day, and I hope that all mothers out there did as well. Where would the world be without mothers?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Funtastic Friday Follies! The Great Muppet Caper

If you're looking for an explanation of the what and why of Funtastic Friday Follies, click here. Otherwise, here we go! (I'm so excited.)

The Great Muppet Caper

Had Kermit the Frog known just how dangerous this mission would be from the beginning, he might have told The Puppet Master to eff off. Then again, he never felt more alive than when he was in the thick of a mission and the shit was about to hit the fan.

Kermit inched his way forward through the duct work and came to another vent. Peering down into the room, he saw Rowlf tied to a chair in the middle of the small space. Blood soaked the shaggy fur in his neck and chest, and it flowed freely from his nose. The dog was looking at a man turned to a small table, on which rested a small torch, pliers, a hammer, a bolt cutter, and several other small metallic objects.

The frog saw green skin as the man dropped a bloody pair of brass knuckles on the table. The man’s hand swayed over the other implements, undecided as to what to choose, and settled on the torch. As he turned and smiled, Kermit saw a glint of gold in the man’s mouth.

“Wha-What’s that,” Rowlf asked.

Dr. Teeth didn’t say anything. Instead, he sparked the torch to life. Rowlf looked around nervously as Dr. Teeth approached.

“Now listen, man,” Dr. Teeth said in his ruff, deep voice. “I don’t want to be a total drag or anything, but I need that intel.”

He waved the torch casually over Rowlf’s arm and Kermit could smell the foul odor of burnt fur a moment later. Rowlf gritted his teeth, but did not cry out.

Kermit flipped open his wrist communicator and tapped off a quick message to Miss Piggy at central command. ::Found the pooch and the good doctor. They aren’t playing nice.::

“Where are your operatives hiding,” asked Dr. Teeth.

“Go to Hell,” spat Rowlf.

Kermit closed the communicator and looked down to see the torch being applied to the dog’s stomach. Rowlf cried out, but clamped his mouth shut quickly. The stench got much worse, and underneath, the frog could smell burning flesh. The doctor pulled the torch away, and his eyes lit up as an idea blossomed in his head.

“You’re a piano player, right?” Dr. Teeth said this as he extinguished the torch and walked back to the table. “It would be a shame is something were to happen to your fingers.”

When he turned back, he was the carrying the bolt cutter. He took a handle in each hand and snapped it menacingly a few times.

“Hey, be cool,” said Rowlf. Dr. Teeth snapped the bolt cutter again, just above the first finger on Rowlf’s left hand. “Look, uh, you don’t want to do anything that might get you in serious trouble later.” The doctor opened the bolt cutter and placed the blades on either side of Rowlf’s finger. “Uh, ok, you know I can’t tell you anything. If I talk, then M.U.P.P.E.T. will just have me killed anyway.”

“That’s not my problem, man. I just want some info.” He began to bring his hands together.

Rowlf yelped and shouted for Dr. Teeth to stop. There was desperation in his voice. The gold tooth glinted again, as Dr. Teeth smiled wide.

“You tell me what I want to know and maybe you can join the Electric Mayhem,” he said.

I don’t believe it, Kermit thought. That son of a bitch is gonna talk. He tapped out another message to Miss Piggy, ::The piano player’s going to sing.::

Thursday, May 8, 2008


For nearly the past 7 years I've been working at the OfficeMax in West Dundee. For a while it was OK. There are nice people who work there. I was part-time, then full-time, then I got a full-time office job and quit for a couple months. However, this didn't work with the family I was starting, so I had to go back on a part-time basis. It's not something that I wanted to do, but I swallowed my pride and went back. I've been working two (or 1.5) jobs for the last three and a half years.

People at the store have come and gone, and things change. The manager that was there when I was hired quit a few months ago, and she took any real allegiance I had to the store with her. Now, it's a little ridiculous for me to be going all the way out there, especially considering the cost of gas and the fact that when I go out there during the week it's 30 miles from the office. Compound that with working with people I couldn't stand, poor management, and dealing with the same crappy customers day after day. Needless to say, it was time to find something else.

So I began looking for something else, but I didn't want just anything. I wanted out of retail. Forever. I waited and waited, because at least I had a job right? And finally, I found it. So I applied. And then I didn't hear anything. And then I heard from them, and I got an interview and they said they'd let me know. And then I didn't hear anything. And finally, they did call me and they offered me the job. And it was glorious!

Instandly, I began to think of all the things I wouldn't have to do again: taking furniture out to customers' cars, selling add ons, selling warranties, having to worry about sales, plan-o-grams, straightening a store, dealing with the stupid managers at OfficeMax...the list goes on an on.

So this week I got to start at the library. I've only had one shift so far, but there's a lot more to it than I would have though. I know, I know. It's a library, everyone says, how hard can it be? Well there's more to it than I would have thought. I can't wait until Saturday, my last day at the Max, when I can say 'see ya' and be on my merry way. Until then, well, I've got my dreams.

New Features!!!

In an effort to keep the blog machine rolling, consolidate blogs, and be more creative more frequently, I’m introducing two new features to Trying To Be Clever. Are you ready for it? Are you sure? If you’re not ready for it, just take a breather and then come back, I’ll still be here. Ok. Better now?

Announcing…Monday Monotony Meltdown and Funtastic Friday Follies! *applause*

A while back (last year in those innocent days of 2007), new to the whole blogging thing, I decided to start up a blog where every day I would post something that was just off the wall and completely out there. It went pretty good for a while, but then I discovered it’s hard to keep up a steady pace of craziness when you’re working two jobs, trying to spend time with your wife, trying to spend time with/raise a child, do what needs to be done in the house, not have a mental meltdown, etc. So the crazy blogging slowed down, then picked up a little (I think) and then stopped. Then I started up this blog, one that I would talk about anything that came to mind and put up some fun/creative stuff too. Hopefully I would build up some readership and everyone would be pleased with the result.

Well now I’ve started to get into the same cycle, where I’m not blogging as much as I’d like to (at least three times a week), mainly for the reasons that I listed above. Plus, after being on a computer all day for work, who wants to go home and be on a computer all night? Not me. So anyway, what is a guy to do? Consolidate and move forward. (seems logical to me at this point)

By the Power of Grayskull, from here on out, Mondays and Fridays will feature something from the fun/goofy/crazy/creative side of life. The MMM and triple F will be spectacular (maybe). In the beginning I will be able to pull posts from the previous blog to fill in, once they’re used up, the old blog will be gone, and someone else can take the address if they so choose (nothing irked me so much when I was trying to figure out where this blog would be as when I’d try an address and see the person using it hadn’t touched it in years or signed up for it and then never did anything with it). I’ll also intersperse other fictions and things that I’ve done.

I want to use this space not only as an outlet for myself, but also as a place where people might like to come and hang out from time to time. But to do that, I have to make the place inviting for others. Slowly but surely it will happen. As the wise-beyond-his-years Wayne Campbell would say, “It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.”

Tomorrow I think I’ll start out with a real whiz-banger of an idea. Tune in. I’m sure you’ll be pleased.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blog Neglegence

Was April 29 the last time I updated? Really? That's terrible. Bad Matt! Bad!

I should really update more frequently (ideally once a day at least). I do have some exciting news to share, but no time to do it right now. I'll have to do it later, but as a little teaser, I will soon no longer be tied to a soul-sucking retail job. Yay me!