First Place in #ThursThreads (Probably The Grossest Piece I've written This Year)

This piece is a little, um, gross. I entered it in the #ThursThreads flash fiction contest hosted by Siobhan Muir. If you're prone to squeamishness, do yourself a favor and ... read it. You only live once. :) The prompt was: Experiencing new cultures can be weird.

  

thrus-threads-winnerAccording to the Brochure

The winsome, long-haired native girl shoving shaved, locally grown, organic palm fronds into my anus was an expert. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't say I was enjoying the experience as much as the brochure implied I might, but, as a craftsman myself, I recognize skill and appreciate a deft touch.

And the overstuffed vinyl massage table I laid face down on turned out quite comfortable. Although I admit, I was initially intimidated by the set of leather, aftermarket ankle stirrups attached at its foot. Necessary for safety, according to the brochure.

Fresh cut, bendy green palm fronds

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Inspired By Reddit Image Prompt: Blood Train (by Matt Lashley)

Inspired by Reddit image prompt "Tickets Please" (image credit: Joel Kilpatrick)

tickets-please-joel-kilpatrick

Blood Train

by Matt Lashley

The recirculated air on the night train was tangy. The metal in it gritted between your clenched molars, coated the tip of your tongue, brushed against the roof of your mouth. Smelled like hot iron. Tasted like blood. Young mothers, old women and smart men don't go out on nights that taste like this.

Nobody ever called me smart.

"Today is your lucky day old man", the lanky, twenty-something blonde guy in the shiny maroon windbreaker holding the six inch Bowie knife said.

I pressed my lips together, sat still and looked away from the blonde standing over me. I slightly tilted my head down like an old wolf. A wolf not looking for a fight, willing to wait his turn. Willing to let the younger, stronger wolves eat first. A psychological trick they

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Running Notes On A Series Of Philosophy Lectures Given By Peter Millican Published By University Of Oxford: 1.3 From Aristotle to Galileo

Just for fun I'm watching a series of lectures given by Peter Millican in 2009. The lectures are published on YouTube by University of Oxford. 

aristotle quote 3(Sidebar: What a fascinating time we live in. The Internet, still in the infantile stages of its role in the technological extension of the human mind, serves up crunchy bits of knowledge to patrons like plates of calamari from the local crab shack. Had such a resource existed during my high school years, my grades may have been slightly less dismal. Ah, yes. The qualifying helping verb "may"-- the lament and soft security blanket of classic underachievers, dreamily upstaged only by the as oft employed hypothetically trance inducing "if only".)

I'm excited to hear the lectures.

I'll warn you ahead of time, my worldview specifies humans are, at their cores, consumed by self-interests at the expenses of other entities and, by nature, slouch toward less than

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The Ol' Switcheroo Writing Prompt: Tell A Story That Seems Like Horror, But Shift the Genre With the Last Sentence of the Story

chsarlie-brown-lucy-footballMark's legs felt wobbly, unsteady, as if all the cartilage connecting his tendons and bones had been replaced by strands of silly string. His heart beat hard and fast at an uneven tempo, like a first year band student was banging on a base drum embedded in his chest. And he was hot. Really hot. Sickly hot. The streams of sweat running down his forehead, over his cheeks and into the corners of his mouth tasted like a mixture of pretzel salt and lukewarm tequila shooters.

Mark wiped the beads of perspiration from his brow with the sleeve of his jacket. He was nervous. Really nervous. Sickly nervous. And why shouldn't he be? It's not every day a man knows his life will end.

The robed man standing above Mark intoned instructions in a calm, self-possessed voice that reminded Mark of the hum of an electric power station. Mark barely

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Enamored With Hardboiled Detective Noir Flash Fiction

phillipmarloweIf I had to pick a genre to write, it'd be hardboiled detective fiction. I'm not exactly sure when I fell in love with this style of writing, but I know it had something to do with Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, James CrumleyPhillip Kerr and evenings spent in front of a 19 inch television (with a broken dial that clicked through 12 channels) watching The Rockford Files and Magnum P.I.

And if I had to pin down why I love this genre more than any other, I'd say it's because of the similes. The similes, the heroes and the humor.

Here's my attempt at something hardboiled-ish submitted to a Siobhan Muir's flash fiction contest (slightly edited).

----------

Lifting my head to look around wasn't the grand success I imagined it would be. The room spun and I felt like I'd just gone twelve rounds on the Tilt-O-Whirl at the county fair. But I

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If You Write 450+ Words for a Weekly Flash Fiction Contest and No One Is In the Comment Section to Read it ...

Last night I entered a piece in Alissa Leonard's #FinishThatThought weekly flash fiction contest.oops-def-matt-lashley

I never feel 100%, alpha-male confident in the pieces I submit to contests--this submission was no different.

I liked it okay, but I know I'll reread it today and smack my forehead while thinking of all the mistakes I made in it.

Then I'll reread it tomorrow and see the illogical flow I'd somehow managed to weave in and asked readers to follow and smack my forehead wondering how I could have been so dumb. And then, forgetting my own strength and that a propensity for genetically weak neck muscles run in my family tree, I'll smack my forehead again and my head will pop back, tilt up and expose the giant slot in my throat where I hide all my PEZ candy.

pez-candy-ad-matt-lashleyAnyway, I submitted the piece an entire day late. An. Entire. Day. And didn't

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Flash!Friday Submissions For May 1, 2015

flash-friday-prompt-matt-lashleyLast week's "Catch 22" prompt made me think. Hard. Which made me cry. Thanks Flash!Friday.

Two submissions:

@MattLashley_

Existentialism Isn’t For Everyone

The woman bound in the backseat of Albert's Nova looked peaceful, cherub-like. A fat snoring cherub snoring deep and throaty snores that reminded Albert of the night spent camping by the swamp with his sadistic uncles during bullfrog mating season.

“It means you exist to exist, dumbass,” said an uncle as he used a pair of pliers to pinch of a wiggling frog's left rear leg.
“I don't think so,” replied Albert.
“And that right there is the plum beauty of it, ignorant wretch.”
“Huh?”
“He means you can think what you want and it don't matter because existence is accidental. As a result, nothing we do or think matters. That defines truth. You tally whackin', peter pipin', bushel peckin' idjit.”
“How can nothing define anything?”
“Nothing don't. You do. You are one

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Publishing A Satirical News Website, It's A Milestone Sorta Like Publishing A NaNoWriMo Novel No One Will Ever Read ... Sorta

I did it. No, not that. No, not that either. I mean I did it. The big one. You know ...

I finally did something with badthinker.com.

It's a satirical news site that no one will ever read. But that's okay. Writing stuff that no one will ever read has never stopped most poets.

  • It gives me a place to write. Short pieces. Fast. 
  • It gives me a place to tinker with code, like adding subtitles to my Joomla articles. Joomla is PHP driven. I don't write code in PHP. I'm more of a Python guy.

Don't let anyone tell you writing code is too hard for you to do. About 7 years ago, back when Silverlight was a thing, I taught myself XAML and C# and wrote an entire project for a major company in it in about 2 months. Silverlight was/is awesome. I even used Silverlight to develop a

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Two Flash! Friday Entries for Dec 12, 2014 -- And One Did Alright -- Yeehaw!

Competing in Flash! Friday is more than a job (actually it's not a job at all) it's an adventure!

There's a great group of folks that create short fiction every Friday. I believe somewhere between 65 and 100 (the number varies depending on the weather) people write stories every week. Reading their stories is a quick way to get a fiction fix. This week marked the first week of the new year of competition.

 

flash-friday-wine-glass@MattLashley_
141 words

Results: 1st runner up

Internet Dating Makes Me Nervous

Quarter 'til eight.

The naked woman reflected in the entryway mirror holding the hammer and a glass of fine, grocery store box wine has a pale, squishy belly that looks like a thick slice of Wonder Bread dipped in milk. I pretend she's not me. She smiles. Her teeth are nice. Probably uses whitestrips.

Ten 'til eight.

A stoned marching band bass drummer has

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Struck Down But Not Destroyed

Entered: https://christianflashweekly.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/cfw-event-34/

Results: Runner up

@MattLashley_

962 words

Struck Down But Not Destroyed

The preacher watched as the bright red stream from his left nostril snaked the grooves between the beveled aqua blue tiles and puddled at the hair clogged drain. He struggled to stay conscious. Lying there, sucking wind and bleeding in the shower room at the 52nd Street Y, he questioned his instincts, his path, and, God forgive him, his faith. Even still, he prayed. Prayed the two young men would leave, prayed someone would help, prayed this cup would be removed.

“Stomp him again Bart!”

Bart obliged his cheerleader and, for a fifth or sixth time, slammed his size twelve work boot into the fallen preacher’s unguarded midsection. For good measure, he put all his weight on it, compressing it, and performed a crude, grinding Chubby Checker twist. The preacher lay on his back helpless, pinned.

Bart

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The Hush of The Waves

Entered: https://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/flash-friday-vol-2-51/#comments

Results: Did not place

@MattLashley_
158 words

The Hush of the Waves

I walked the shoreline for an hour, though I knew it would do no good. The tide was going out. Wet sand squished between my toes, softening the callouses. The salty breeze invigorated me and I inhaled it like an addict taking one last drag on the pipe before rehab. Crashing shore breakers plugged my ears with white noise and, for a while, the world around me disappeared, or maybe I disappeared from the world.

At the lifeguard’s tower, I turned and walked back the way I’d came. Back towards the ugly truth, hers and mine. Mostly hers.

I passed the landlocked fish again, still alive, still struggling. The opening and shutting of its gills, much slower now, seemed in sync with my own heartbeats. If fish could scream for help, I imagined this one would.

Before

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And Just Like That She Was Nineteen ...

 

taylor-lashley-2014

And just like that she was nineteen. He was sure when she went to bed the night before, she was seven.

He remembers kissing her, tucking her in and saying I love you.

He remembers turning out her light, standing in her doorway and watching her eyes, those big brown eyes, gently close.

He remembers the odd rush of feelings she inspired -- peace love, tranquility and the primal rage he would unleash on anyone who tried to hurt her.

Yes, he was sure about it, she was seven the night before. And just like that, she was nineteen.

 

Happy birthday my beautiful little princess. I can't believe you're nineteen. I love you forever plus one.

 

 

 

 

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There's A World ... Where People Create For The Sake Of Creating ... And I'm Stumbling Across It

For me, it started at Flash!Fiction then Micro Bookends and spiraled. What I'm experiencing is like going to Paris or Italy or anywhere I haven't been and moving from destination to destination simply on the word of the people I meet.

I did this during a trip to Santa Cruz, CA last summer: I got a morning coffee, chatted with the baristas, was joined in conversation by another coffee-seeking patron and before I knew it, I'm watching a surfing contest at Steamer Lane and eating Thai food for lunch at the best beach front Thai place (steering clear of the worst). Now I'm doing something similar through Twitter.

So far, every person represented in my anemic Twitter follower/followee count has given me somewhere new to go. Some awesome. neat-o place I'd have never found on my own. It's pretty great.red rose silver spoon

It's not all red roses and silver spoons. I've added a few

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Forgetting The "t" In Several Words Looses The Venom Of A Villainous Grammarian Sparking An Untoward Retort From A Guy Stuck In Pseudo Late 19th Century Writing Mode

image2993The following is a paraphrased retelling of a (not so) heated exchange between an anonymous male and an anonymous female in a community forum. To the best of my recollection this story is both true and accurate (and I may have been one of the participants.)

The setup: Someone (maybe me) posted a comment in which two consecutive words were missing their lower case "t's".

Caused by a sticky key? Perhaps.

An unintentional bungling by a typist who singularly prefers fingering keyboard keys with a single finger? Probably.

In retrospect, a minuscule pea of a mistake bobbing in such a thick porridge of mistakes as to reduce it to largely unworthy of any attention much less a random opining and judgment? Definitely.  

Providing entertainment to break life's daily monotony? Well, yeah.

The exchange:

"Such sloppily edited comments lead one to assume the other cares little about reputation, propriety and, frankly,

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A Friday Flash Fiction Submission (And A Rhyme In This Inscription)

flash friday oct 24 2014 promptWriting good fiction takes a lot of hard work. Writing great fiction takes a minor miracle. I don't write good fiction or miracles, but I enjoy participating in a micro fiction contest named Flash! Friday from time to time. Like last time, I allocated a time box of thirty minutes. 

This time the words came fast and I was done in ten minutes. A feat owing, in large part, to the interesting prompt and to the local public library.

Yesterday the local library held a book sale. At this book sale, on a folding formica table, I found a worn paperback copy of The Unabridged Mark Twain for which I exchanged a jovial librarian's assistant a slightly less than shiny quarter.

mr goodbar king sizeAt three pounds, the book is by far one of the two pound for pound best purchases I've made. (The other was a king size Mr. Goodbar which I purchased on

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"Watts Up With That" Brings the Hammer Down on Trolls, Crushing Numerous Fictitious, Rabble-Rousing Skulls with One Mighty Blow ... Sort of

Some trolls are funny. Those are the trolls I can put up with (or up with put?).orange-hair-troll-image

It's the hate filled trolls with little white bits of saliva gummed up in the corners of their mouths I skip over (as opposed to skip under?). As you read the posts of these folks, you almost feel the flecks of body temperature spittle propelled by blasts of hot, garlic-infused bad breath flying at you as fast as simulated rocks in a Windows 98 Starfield screen saver.

Trolls are like MSNBC's Chris Matthews or John McLaughlin or anyone in the McLaughlin Group ranting six inches from your face. I like Chris Matthews ... sometimes. Just like I like Rush Limbaugh ... sometimes. I like the McLaughlin group ... all the time. I listen to all of them much less than ten years ago; mostly a clip here or there when someone posts some irresistible link bait or

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Is It November Yet? I Can Hardly Wait For Christmas (And Dunne)

I publicly confessed my affection for the movie Dumb & Dumber and its two main characters, Lloyd Christmas & Harry Dunne, way back in the year two thousand and something. I don't remember the exact year, but I do remember putting it on my MySpace page way back when Facebook was primarily used by Ivy League undergrads to play Am I Hot or Not with other Ivy League undergrads.

Over the years, I've watched it from opening sequence to beginning credit roll at least twenty times. (Okay, probably more like thirty.) Why? Because I like it. I like it ahh lot.

In fact, I like ahh lot of movies and ahh lot of shows, but there are only a handful I would take with me if I were trapped alone on a desert island with a solar powered generator, a backup diesel generator, a flat screen TV, a TiVo and a

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The AdContrarian Humorously Debunks Perceived Successes of SocMed Complaining

The AdContrarian delivers a funny and insightful diatribe on the impact of social media (SocMed) complaining. The term Digital Graffiti is a clever, although slightly inaccurate metaphor (not to mention already used in a different hows-our-product-1-800-freecontext). I suppose its brick and mortar equivalent would be spray painting an overpass, abandoned house or temporarily stalled railway car with unflattering epithets about a business that "done you wrong".

As usual, The AdContrarian boils the soap of marketing down to its common liquified components. And I usually find his stuff 99.99% pure.

After reading the post, a thought on a different angle occurred to me: if every complaint about a company or brand on Twitter was rewarded by a $5 coupon, that's a pretty brilliant marketing strategy. It's like a next gen "How's my driving? Call 1-800-555-1234" bumper sticker. But with the coupon strategy, you let a customer vent AND you send him/her a coupon

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Beef. It's What's For Dinner. But Only If You Hate The Environment

Please. For the love of jeebus. Stop eating beef. It's killing the planet. I'll spare you the science, but it's out there and it's real and it's scary.

In Stanford, Ca., scientists discovered cattle produce gas. Lots of it. And that gas is warming the planet. Based on that revelation, I've just discovered that scientists are not immune to the law of "Every Generation Believes They Invented Sex".

The law of Every Generation Believes They Invented Sex:

"Young humans, saturated by a flood of hormones, write songs, make jokes and change fashion to cope with a rush of new sexual urges. The young humans believe older humans lack necessary capacity to understand the songs, jokes and fashion."

Before you scoff, there's proof the law is real. It's an easy experiment and you can do it right now. Ready? Okay ... 1 ... 2 ....  think of your parents having sex.

Can't

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Playing With Adobe Muse Turns Into Working With Adobe Muse

I heart Joomla! And always will. Lately I've been "playing" with Adobe Muse. (I'm already a huge fan of InDesign and Edge Animate. And I'm starting to use Illustrator and Photoshop more than I use GIMP and Inkscape.)

Joomla handles a different workload than Muse. If I ever put the effort into turning badthinker.com into the Onion-esque satirical destination I know it can be (in my head), then Joomla is by far and away the CMS de résistance. But for building simple, elegant web designs really fast -- Muse is fantastic. So far, it's the ultimate WYSIWYG++ editor.

Recently I built a Joomla! site. I tweaked the CSS and fonts as usual to get a certain look and feel, but I wan't satisfied with the result. (The site is essentially a souped-up landing page.) As an exercise, I decided to put the design and copy in Muse. Within two hours I

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Climate Science And Horse Racing -- Place Your Bets!

Climate change science debating is fun to watch. Scientists on all sides and flavors (the skeptics and the convinced) go at each other like Tyson and Hoyfield. No punches are pulled, thinly veiled insults are hurled without regret and the occasional ear is bitten. When it comes to verbal sparring, career-ending/making peer reviews and pound for pound ridicule, these guys and gals hold their own.

Some ear biting is cute ... some isn't.
Images: versedonline.com and pinkbluelovescute.com

Today's climate change hot topic is continual adjustments to historical temperature data. The issue moved into the spotlight a few weeks ago when national media reported on a post by Steven Goddard (aka Tony Heller). The post claims adjustments, including estimated data for up to 40% of the USHCN dataset, caused a fake warming trend in the USA by cooling the 1930s and warming the 1990s. 

There are three sides in this debate: adjustments are good, adjustments are bad, need more data

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All the kewl kids are doin' it! Flash Fiction Submission - June 13, 2014

Write 140-160 words  based on a pic and a prompt. It's easy. It's fun. It's flash fiction!

Several months ago, I discovered a site that puts on a weekly flash fiction contest. I competed that first time and again this week.

If you're like me (or like I was), you may not know flash fiction from Fred Flinstone. Here's a definition. It's darn fun. The contest starts every Friday and lasts for 24 hours. To make it (even) more fun and to reasonably cap my inevitable obsession over every word, I limit my time to a total of thirty minutes: 15 minutes writing and 15 obsessing. This type of pressure really wrings the juice outta the ol' creative sponge.

This week I read most of the entries and commented on a few. There were some great stories and lines. You can read them here: Flash! Friday

The image and my entry, inspired by

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Matt Writes Anything

"I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about."  - Oscar Wilde