Tag: 5wordchallenge

5 Word Challenge: Only a Game

The drawstring pouch hangs off his hip
         like a holster,
filled with glittering gold, shining silver
     and iridescent, opalescent

He reaches within, selecting carefully
         amongst his hard-earned treasures,
      the clicks and clatters music to his ears
             as he selects his most precious marble
                     by the eyes in his fingertips.

Chilled from its time in his desk drawer,
    his prize possession grows warm between his palms as
he rolls it

He readies the hazy bronze-colored glass, shot through
with sparks of
     amethyst and jade.


and smiles at the noise of his efforts,
     the clacks from the circle that provide
the soundtrack of his bliss,
the joy of success when playing for keepsies.

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5 Word Challenge: On Being Twelve

"Man, am I starched!" Brian exclaimed, collapsing against the concrete divider that separated our basketball court from the one next to it.  "Can we stop by 7-11 on the way back?  I need to get a coke or something."

"Uh…" I was still trying to figure out exactly what I had just heard.  "Did you just say you were starched?"

"Yeah, why?  Don't tell me you aren't thirsty after playing one-on-one for so long!"

"No, I'm thirsty…but I'm not starched.  I might be PARCHED though….you doofus."  I couldn't help but grin at his choice of words.  Brian might be able to beat me on the court, but a vocabulary whiz he was not.  "I think my Mom has a can of that spray starch though, if you really wanna get starched…"

"Shut up, Andrew!  Quit making fun of me!"  He punched me in the arm, and hard.  I noticed he made certain to keep the prominent knuckles of his first two fingers angled directly into the meat of my bicep, the better to inflict pain into my skinny arm.  Not that he needed to make any special effort to hurt me if he had really wanted to.  At 5'8" and 175 pounds, Brian was the biggest twelve-year-old on our block, and could be quick to give you a beating if he thought you were making a joke at his expense.  "Just because I'm not in that nerd school of yours doesn't mean you can make fun of me!"

"OK OK," I said quickly, backing away to get out of the range of any further punches.  I tried to get his mind off the exchange with a change of subject.  "Let's go hit the Philips station and get a soda.  Billy Mooresby told me that the new Playboy magazine came in, and there's a copy there without a cover that you can flip through if the guy behind the counter isn't looking!"

Suitably placated, Brian scooped up the worn basketball and trailed after me off the court.  He was more than happy to hang out with me, as I always seemed to be the one coming up with cool things to do.  I just had to remember not to insult his intelligence, and we got along pretty well.  My neighbor, Mr. Delacour, calls us Lenny and George, but I'm not sure why.  My Mom said I'll find out when I get into high school, if I really want to know.  Bugging her about it just brought that look to her face though, so I let it go.  Maybe sometime I'll go ask the lady at the information desk at the library – she'd probably be able to tell me why, if I asked nicely.

As Brian pushed open the door to the service station's little snack shop, a tiny little bell attached to the inside handle tinkled a couple times before it smacked against the glass of the door with a dull *tink* sound.  The cool, air-conditioned breeze that blew against my face as I stepped inside felt like heaven…no…it felt like that first jump into the swimming pool on a hot day – a little bit TOO cold, and TOO fast, but carrying the promise of continued delicious coolness to come with it.

The counter with the register on it was old, lined with polished chrome along the top edge all the way from end to end.  It gleamed so brightly in the afternoon sun that I couldn't look straight at it – instead I glanced up from the glare and directly into the suspicious eyes of the guy behind the register.  His gaze flicked over me dismissively and settled back on Brian, assuming that any problems he might face from a couple of kids would stem from THIS source.

I could use this to my advantage.  While the shopkeeper was busy eagle-eying Brian, I slipped back between two aisles, around a corner, and back towards the far end of the store.  This was what we had come for…the small rack of adult magazines in the corner, all wrapped snugly in their opaque covers to prevent peeking before purchasing.  All, I hoped, except for a single issue of Playboy…

My heart racing, I twisted the rotating rack around, cringing a little at the squeak it gave as it started to move.  Glancing quickly around and not seeing any change to the locations of Brian or the guy behind the counter, I focused again on what I thought I had seen….THERE….yes!

Trembling with excitement, I slipped the flimsy magazine out of the rack and held it in my hands.  Here I was, about to flip through another Playboy magazine….prime lunchtime gossip material to talk about for at least a week with the guys at school.  I flipped open the cover and had just focused on a beautiful, rosy nipple when


Did you ever get that feeling where your skin crawls and your blood curdles and your feet scrunch up in your shoes until you don't know how you even stayed standing?  Hearing the shopkeeper clear his throat right behind me did all that and more.  I don't remember exactly what happened after that, but the next thing I know, I was out in the heat and the sun and the muggy, moist air, gasping for breath with nothing in my hands.  Brian was sitting on the nearby curb, drinking a coke.  I now realized that I have never actually TOLD Brian what I needed him to do, much to my dismay.  I started trying to figure out whether I'd even be able to show my face in the store ever again, or whether I'd be stuck walking clear across the neighborhood every time I wanted a coke.

"Hey Andrew, aren't you gonna get a coke?"  Brian dusted himself off as he scrambled up off the concrete.  He towered over me, providing partial shade as he got close enough to blot the sun's glare out of my eyes.

"Nah, I'll just get a drink when I get home.  Let's go check out the creek behind Mark's house.  I hear he built a dam there yesterday.  Oh, and did I mention that I saw a nipple on the Playboy in the store before I left?"

"A real nipple? MAN, you are so lucky.  One time I thought I saw a nipple, but it turned out to be just a birthmark on this girl.  She was wearing one of those bathing suits where you can't be sure what you're seeing and…"

As I tuned out Brian's rambling, suddenly content in the heat and haze and companionship of a good friend, I realized that everything was a close to perfect as I had ever known.  I hope I stay 12 forever, I thought to myself.

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5 Word Challenge: What’s in a Name?

Barnabus Bainbridge the Sixth was not a happy man.  Then again, not many individuals saddled with such a name would be jovial, even under the best of circumstances.

Coming from a long line of Bainbridges, Barnabus could not even resort to shortening his moniker or adopting a nickname for fear of the scandal it would create in the old-money community.  It was hard to believe that they could be so concerned over something as little as a name, but had he introduced himself, even once, as Barney, all idle chat at the country club for the next six weeks would have revolved around his "uncouth nature".  The gossip circuit was the least of the problems he would face, however; his business connections would disappear into smoke, the light of his life would leave him for a Rufus Vanderbilt or a Matthias Perriwinkle, and even his lawyers – yes, the ones he himself employed! – would be whipped into a frenzy over his outrageous insult to the ancient family name.

So night after night, Barnabus Bainbridge the Sixth would recline in his king-sized bed, one small pillow propped under his left side to aid his body in the digestion of the sumptuous dinner he had just supped upon.  He would stare at the ceiling, fervently praying for a solution to his unhappiness, freedom from the chains he had been born into.  "If only…," he murmured. "If only…I was poor…..things would be so…different…."

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5 Word Challenge: Spam Message

I noticed this morning that this week's 5 word challenge required the use of the words coax, abnegate, strawberry, euphony, and feral.  Normally I'd look at a challenge like this and put it off until later, letting the thoughts percolate in my head until I either came up with something good or took a pass on the challenge.  HOWEVER, as I was checking over my spam folder this morning to make sure no emails were erroneously routed there by Google's magic spam-checker, something caught my eye.  Imagine my surprise when I found the following emailed to me last Thursday, on June 28th… Thank goodness for spam mail – another challenge completed!

Subject: jerome's feral strawberry
From: Vanessa Ravala <eugorlbjexv@jtmbi.com>
Reply-To: Vanessa Ravala <eugorlbjexv@jtmbi.com>

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I want to say adios

Marvin loves to build soapbox racers with twelve speeds.  It wasn't until three o'clock that I wanted to abnegate the decision.  The geese filled the pond until only a speck of the blue green water could be seen amidst the masses of angry white feathers.  You coax Michelle with your words to no avail.  Seven pails of sand will fill the pool without problems.  The mirror often shows the truth to the steady observer.  Dragons bite the euphony that taunts them.  The morning stars shine brightest on the desert flowers.

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5 Word Challenge: Irresistible Bliss, A Review

(This has also been a 5 Word Challenge entry)

Album Review: Soul Coughing – Irresistible Bliss

Soul Coughing's 1996 creation may be known best for the first track on the album, "Super Bon Bon", but a few of the other songs on the album have also received some notoriety, including "Soundtrack to Mary", "Soft Serve" and "Disseminated".

Nothing on this album, not even the keyboard samplings, is perfunctory.  Everything is intended to throw you further into the groove, from the intuitive lyrics sung/spoken by lyricist/lead M. (Mike) Doughty to the precision drums by Yuval Gabay.  A conglomerate of emotions is expressed through the often repetitive but never stale voice and sampler work that haunts the songs.  Inane observations mixed with a hint of the sardonic draw the listener in and seem to burn on in the head long after the songs are over.

I think this is probably Soul Coughing's best album.  Unfortunately, due in part to his flagitious addiction to heroin, Mike Doughty broke up the band in 2000, or else we might have seen influences from today's hip-hop/jazz/rock scene create an even more engaging album.  

Mike Doughty has since beat his addiction and produced a couple of solo albums (Skittish/Rockity Roll and Haughty Melodic), both of which possess the same intensity and hypnoticism of Soul Coughing's earlier work, but lack some of the rounded feel the band provided.  They are definitely a must-listen, but Irresistable Bliss still is my number one recommendation to anyone who wants to get familiar with the band, or rediscover Mike Doughty's melodic roots.

05-Soul Coughing-Lazybones 06-Soul Coughing-4 Out of 5 08-Soul Coughing-Disseminated

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5 Word Challenge: Drive Safe…Please!

This is a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by the good folks at 5 Word Challenge:

There is an emergent trend amongst drivers today…many of them are using their cell phones while driving, sometimes with disastrous results.  You've all seen it, Ms. Chatty Cathy or Mr. Talkative Ted steering with one hand while the other is in possession of that devilish device that allows them to not only take their conversation on the road with them, but results in most of them taking some or all of their concentration off road.  This behavior causes thousands of accidents each year, and the number of incidences of cell-phone related accidents is only increasing.  

A recent study has shown that driving while using a cell phone is at least as dangerous as driving under the influence with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of 0.08 (legal limit in most U.S. states).  In fact, three of the participants on cell phones in the study rear-ended the pace car they were following, turning their mobile phones into immobile phones, so to speak (none of these three were drunk).  Furthermore, the study shows that it is the very ACT of the conversation that seems to cause the impairment in driving, so even using a hands-free set does not always remedy the danger.

It's generally thought that hands-free kits make calling-while-driving safer, but that to be truly safe and responsible, you should pull over to the side of the road to take a call, or ask if you can call the individual back.  Unfortunately, there are always going to be people, too phobic about missing that key business discussion or too addicted to talking to their friend/spouse/lover, that will continue to gab away on their phones while on the road.  

These people can't be helped, but you can do your part by taking up the challenge to save your calls for when you're stopped.  Drive defensively, and look out for these drivers and their swerving, late-stopping, slow-accelerating, aggressive behavior.  If we all do our part, we can reduce the incidences of cell-phone related accidents, and hopefully the finger of shame pointed at those recalcitrant individuals will force them to follow suit.  Hey, we can always dream, right?

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