Tag Archives | humor

Feeding the Beast

This is a script for a piece I read on CBC Radio (Ontario Morning) way back in 2006, when some people still didn’t know what a blog was.

Feeding the Beast

by Mark A. Rayner

Hi, my name is Mark, and I am a writer with a problem. There is a monster eating my novel.

It is an insatiable beast. A slobbery demon that greets me every day with an obscene wink, and asks:

“What are you going to feed me this morning, Mark?”

It’s my weblog. Or blog for short.

#

Blogs are the latest version of the personal web page. (You know, the kind of website that has lots of cat pictures on it.) But blogs are used for a wider variety of things than that. There are blogs about technology, history, books, politics, bat-grooming. You name it and there’s probably a blog about it.

Some people treat their blogs like a diary, except instead of writing in a book with a lock on it, they’re posted online for everyone in the world to read. Many of these blog-writers — or bloggers — get fired from their jobs for revealing wildly inappropriate things about their workplace. I’d say that happens to about half of them. The other half thinks its cool.

But the one thing all of them have in common is that to be successful, blogs must be updated on a pretty regular basis. The more often, the better.

They must be fed.

#

“Skwib requires sustenance Mark. Must have copy.”

My Beast is called The Skwib. I feed it short fiction, satire and the occasional bit of humorous commentary.

It likes the short fiction and the satire the best, which figures… That also takes the most time to write.

And so, part of my morning writing time — time I should be devoting to my new novel — is taken up by the Beast.

This would be fine if I was some kind of genius, a prolific scribbler. But I’m in the Thomas Mann school of writing. He’s the German dude who wrote The Magic Mountain, and said:

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Though I imagine he said it in German.

So why start and feed a blog? I don’t know. It’s kind of like asking me why I used to wear a leather tie, or rugby pants. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, I’m not so sure, but the act of feeding it does keep me writing, no matter what.

#

“Feeeed me.”

The Fatness

Click on the image to check out an excerpt.

Okay, gotta go, I think it’s started snacking on my short stories now.

The End

Update, 2017: I’ve been starving the beast of late, which I why I have a new book coming in November, called The Fatness:

A satire about concentration camps for fat people and bureaucracy gone mad. (A love story.)

You can check out an excerpt here.

Originally published August 2006. Photo by Danielle Blumenthal, via Flickr.

Lucidiva™ — Side effects

close up of big bird -- freakyCommon side effects include heavy breathing, panting, hyperventilation, lack of peripheral vision, excessive screaming, painful hearing and nasal discharge that may look like rice pudding. Sorry, but it happens.

You should probably enjoy flatulence if you want to take this drug, unless you live at an even-numbered address, in which case, expect projectile vomiting on an hourly basis. Married men can expect long periods of impotence, though we have not conclusively proved this is because of the drug.

Single men in the company of nuns should be ready for painful, humiliating bouts of extreme priapism. Women will want to have a razor handy. (For the excessive hair growth, not for dealing with priapism.)

If you’re thinking about taking this drug while driving, just stop right there. Also, most people taking this drug find themselves incapable of walking, crawling or singing the works of Cole Porter. Gershwin is ok.

Rare side effects include basket weaving, syncopated urination, frequent urination, explosive urination and occasionally, urination. We recommend you set up an IV of saline solution BEFORE you take your first dose.

Speaking of your first dose, when you begin taking Lucidiva™, you will experience a clarity of thought and eloquence of speech that makes President Obama look like his Donald Trump. We apologize to everyone trying to take an MBA, but clearly Lucidiva™ is not for you.

If your skin begins to strobe, consult your physician. If you fingernails burst into flame, put them out, but not with water. That will not work. Trust us on this. Use baking powder, or some kind of halon system. Just hold your breath. If you happen to inhale halon while taking Lucidiva™ we cannot be held responsible. Just make sure your will is up to date.

Very rarely, patients experience visions of aliens, talking monkeys and sometimes, angels. If the latter, it is acceptable to consult a priest.

Finally, if you see the bird, don’t try to talk to it. Don’t even look —

Alltop has heard the bird is the word.

Originally appeared on Grasping for the Wind on October 8, 2010.

Pozo and Mr. Savage

Pozo and Mr. Savage, waiting for a train with Ivanka

They lived on the margins of society as a travelling entertainment act. A classic clown-and-baboon show, in the old Czech style.

They had terrorized a generation of Eastern European children.

Pozo the Clown (once known to his family and a series of bemused teachers, as Jirka Zdenec) found his lifelong companion and colleague at the German customs house, in Dresden. (Some years before it was firebombed.) It turned out that the young baboon, of the Red-Assed Dorling family, had been abandoned by a teenage Canadian singing sensation just weeks before. Pozo fell in love with the manic little primate immediately, and agreed to adopt him, and to pay for all the medical bills of the customs agents who had been caring for him.

Their career became the stuff of legend. Their stock-in-trade was children’s parties, but they’d also perform at conventions, trade shows, and if they were unable to book a gig when they rolled into town, they’d do a little bit of busking too. Mr. Savage was an accomplished pick-pocket, so when they ran into hard times – as they often did – they could still pay for Pozo’s heroin habit and Mr. Savage’s expensive tastes in raw flesh. (He preferred macaque heart whenever he could get it.)

Most days, they were just one step ahead of the law.

Today was no different, though they found themselves at a train station, practically deserted between the morning rush hours and the 13:04 express from Praha to Brno.

The train that Ivanka had fallen asleep waiting for – a nap that one day, she would tell her therapist, changed her life.

The End

Change your life with some satirical fiction …

Alltop doesn’t have coulrophobia, but monkeys do freak it out a bit. Amazing photo Daughter of the Circus by Michael Garlington. Get his book here.