Word of the Day: pogonip

The strangest part of this story is that is based on a true story. Only the ending has been changed.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Thirty-two years ago, Bredo Morstoel, died. At the time of his death, Morstoel, who neighbors referred to as “that crazy guy who lives next door and freezes things and throws cats at neighborhood children,” was put in cryostasis in hopes that one day he will be thawed and resume life amongst the not-so-frozen.

After his death, his grandson, brought him from Norway to the United States, specifically, the town of Nederland in Colorado.

Unfortunately, Bauge, who had been storing his grandfather in a storage shed, was forced to return to Norway in order to help other family members who were in danger of freezing to death due to the loss of their family home. Stranger yet, because Bauge, who had intended to return to the U.S. and put his
grandfather into a more appropriate facility before the onset of summer and a premature thaw, was unable to return, the body is now thawed, and Morstoel is actually alive and well at a local hospital. When asked about his “chilling” experience, Morstoel replied, “Heck, it was nothing more than the feeling of a deep Norwegian winter. In fact, I found it quite refreshing, just like the sensation of frozen particles hammering into your body during a brisk walk through a pogonip.”


Okay, so, Morstoel is still dead. And still frozen. In 2002, the town of Nederland started a festival in honor of their most frozen citizen, and called it “Frozen Dead Guy Days.”  The first weekend in March, the town holds coffin races, a frozen salmon toss, a brain freeze contest, a ball and tours of the “dead guy.” If you’ve a mind to go, well, head up to Nederland March 2-4, 2012 

pogonip: / paw – GEH – nip / a dense winter fog containing frozen particles.

Word of the Day: hie

This word was chosen more for how it’s pronounced than for any other reason.
In fact, what it rhymes with is pretty much the inspiration for the story. This all will make more sense as you read…

Today’s Word:


As in:

The twelfth annual “Rodent Rodeo” was about to get underway. Over fifty
contestants had trained and prepared for the grand event, and they were all
assembled in the arena for the day’s contests. Cricket cowboys rode bucking
rats until the timers went off. The mouse roping events, always an impressive
sight, were won by last year’s champion, a beetle named Chuck. The beaver
riding exhibition, dangerous as always, was completed, and the only injury was
to the rodeo clown, who was bruised by a swing of the great beast’s tail.

But the events that drew the largest crowd were the fly races. These were
sponsored every year by a beer company, and a large crowd lined the race
course. The flies were on the starting mark, and after the signal was given,
they were off. Amid shouts of “hie, fly” from coaches and fans, the flies
buzzed around the arena.

But then, just before the flies reached the halfway point, tragedy struck.
Somehow, through the security gates, past the arena fencing, and over the tiny
bleachers, two frogs hopped onto the scene. With a few quick snaps of their
deadly tongues, the contest was over, and the athletes consumed. Panic erupted
in the arena, and several small insects were trampled by spectators fleeing
the scene.

hie / HYE / Rhymes with “fly”. It means, to go quickly, or hasten. Now you see why this inspired the story. It’s funny to hear “hie, fly,” for soooo many reasons. (Okay, good may be pushing it, but funny, it’s funny, see? Yeah, I know, it’s getting less funny with each insistance)

Word of the Day: epicene

It’s a good day when a story can be told in less than 200 words. It’s not often, but, today was one of those days.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The National Security Agency declared that the Furby, a furry, epicene creature, is a severe risk to national security and has banned it from the premises of the NSA.

The toy, which has a recording device and computer chip installed inside, is
designed to “learn” and repeat phrases. Many believe that the toys are rapidly
becoming “almost sentient.”

However, many NSA insiders note that one of the reasons for the ban stems from suspicions that several of the recordings made by Linda Tripp were made with a Furby.

Others suspect that the Furby, given its “foreign” origins, is more than just an
evil recording device, but a minion of the corporate world designed to
“ferret-out” all the secrets of the world, transmit them to various Illuminati,
and then turn into robotic soldiers with small tactical nukes. The powerfully
armed creatures would then gain mobility and take over the world for their evil

Time will tell.


Short and sweet. There it is. And I’m done.

epicene: / EP-eh-scene / Androgynous; hermaphroditic.

Word of the Day: titivate

There are numerous battles being fought right now, and I’m here to tell you that I wish I didn’t feel like I was losing all the time.  Instead, I think I will move right along to…

Today’s Word:


As in:

An unexpected development has taken the attention of contingency planners as they map out survival plans for the impending zombie apocalypse.  Scientists have noted a new strain of zombie virus.

Called the chlorophyll strain, this version primarily infects living plants.

Once infected, the plants develop crude “teeth” and an insatiable craving for fiber.  The plants, not being particularly mobile,  then must wait for a strong gust of wind to blow them within biting distance of a potential victim. If close enough, the infected plant will clamp its teeth onto its victim and greedily devour what it can. The bitten plant, if enough of it survives the procedure, will, in turn develop its own teeth and cravings and the cycle will begin again.

“It is uncertain at this time whether a plant infected with this strain can pass it onto an animal host,” said Dr. Robert Neville, the researcher who discovered the strain. “While it seems likely, based upon the cravings, that the infected have no desire to bite animals, and are, therefore, not a threat to humans, I haven’t been able to rule it out. Further, the disease, if it were loose, is a virus, and they tend to change. ”

Dr. Neville indicated that there was no reason to panic about what might happen to food-producing plants, or how likely it was that the strain would get into the food chain. “Right now, the strain has only been discovered in the lab, where it is tightly controlled.  It is highly unlikely that it could escape into the wild. Why, just before the start of this press conference, I spent several moments in the lab, making double sure everything was clean and locked down. It is a simple thing to titivate a plant lab, you know. They don’t have much in the way of unpleasant bodily fluids like we humans.”

Some researchers, which informed of the discovery, were much more willing to provide the media with fuel for a panic.

“With all due respect to Dr. Neville, a strain which infects all flora is a serious concern. Any strain of zombie virus will mutate the victim to a brain craving, violent, dangerous foe. That’s what makes a zombie a zombie. Who ever heard of a *fiber* craving zombie? Ridiculous. Plants don’t need fiber. They don’t have colons,” said a Dr. Felix Montoya, a rival of Dr. Neville’s who was much more interesting to interview.

“It is clear that there is only a matter of time before the world’s food is contaminated with brain craving plant zombies. Not only will the contagion eliminate our food supplies, but, it will infect people and animals who ingest it, and it will transfer the infection with its bite. The only good news is that people should be able to easily avoid being bitten by zombie plants. The bad news is that they will need to avoid eating them as well. Probably.”

I came up with the idea of zombie plants while looking out the window, watching the wind blow the plants into the sidewalk, and thinking, what if you were walking on that path and the plants were infected, and… Well, you got all that from reading the story. Probably.

titivate / TIT – ev – ATE / to make or become smart or spruce

Word of the Day: stygian

It was a complete coincidence, the pairing of today’s word and the holiday. Today is Evaluate Your Life Day. It would have to land on a Tuesday. I’m not particularly thrilled that such a holiday exists, but, it has given me the excuse to actually acknowledge that, most weeks,  I’m not able to hack five stories a week, three is more realistic.  Maybe one day I will get there.

I am planning to keep writing everyday,  and I am still “evaluating” how that will work, and what form that will take. I’ll keep you all posted.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The surprise smash-hit video game “Who Would Jesus Freeze,” has hit a new record for the highest sales of a video game with superficially religious content, which is only about 10% of the sales figures of the highest grossing game which leaves religion out of it, thank you very much.

The game, which is a first-person-freezer, puts you in the role of the title deity, and allows you to freeze people in their tracks so that the frozen can think about what they have done wallowing in their own guilt and shame.

The game will not allow the player to freeze anyone that Jesus would NOT freeze, thereby answering the question posed by its title. It turns out that Jesus will not freeze babies, mothers pushing strollers, or random guys driving hot dog trucks.

Jesus will freeze burglars, murderers, pornographers, programmers of malware,  politicians of all platforms, televangelists, people who take His name in vain, CBS executives,  and guys that look like Glen Beck.

The game was doing very well in sales, but a sharp increase was noted when the press released pictures of Sasha and Melia Obama purchasing the game for their father’s birthday in August.  President Obama has reported that he was surprised at how much he enjoyed the game, and freezing people.

Besides freezing people, there are mini games in which you can turn water into wine, and a “feed the people challenge” where you try and maximize the number of people you can feed with small amounts of food.

Game designers are pleased that the game has done so well. They credit the game’s title. “We were going for something light-hearted, and really, built the game to answer for ourselves the question of who *would* Jesus freeze? It’s much more interesting than simply asking what would he *do.* We wanted to take our premise, and make as fun a game as we could.  We didn’t want to make another stygian, overly moralistic and judgemental sorts of game, but, something that provoked thought and discussion about real issues. We never dreamed it would take off like it has, and make no mistake, we’re thrilled about getting that outcome as a bonus to meeting our design goals.”

Production has been increased to be sure to meet the likely demand for the game this holiday season.

I actually dreamed this yesterday. In my dream, we were having a birthday party for President Obama, and he was playing the game, in a suit and tie, while Sasha and Melia, and me and the other guests, watched him freeze people.  Any dream that gets me a story idea is a good one.

stygian / STI – gee – an / extremely dark gloomy, or forbidding

Word of the Day: heliolatry

I wrote this yesterday, but, was thwarted by technology, so I am writing it again. Should be better the second time around, right?

During my recent captivity, I rediscovered my old origami interest. It seemed to actually be helpful in working through all the stuff floating in brain by simply being different and active and still creative. What I learned is that coming back to it after so long is that I’m better at it than I was when I put it down, and that while I wasn’t looking or working at it consciously, I’d progressed beyond the basics, which was a pleasant surprise.

This may seem to be something of a digression, but, it is the inspiration behind the story for…  

Today’s Word:


As in:

It was an intricate scene. In one area, a tiny horse and cow grazed behind a paper farmhouse.  In front, a fence held a pig with four piglets,

Nearby, there were African creatures; a lion apparently gazing intently upon some antelope, while a giraffe plucked leaves from a tree and an elephant waved its trunk.  In another area, a crane rested in a nest of shredded paper, and an alligator swam  lazily in a pond.

Helen took a careful moment to place her newest creation in the scene on the top of her bookshelf.  It was a tiny crab the size of pencil eraser, and it was going to live on the shore of the “sandy” lake near the alligator. The little crab would be the 100th model to join the display.

The bookshelf,  Helen had noticed, was almost out of room. After she had mastered a new model, she created a masterpiece version, out of her best paper, and added it to the display. She loved having all of them in one spot, where she could see it from her desk, and where visitors would see it as they entered her office. They always commented positively on the scene, and she took great pride in their attention.

She contemplated other places large enough to accommodate the display and add room for expansion. She wondered if it was time to accept that one place was no longer possible.

There was a place near the large east-facing window, a small side table.  She rejected it, paper did not take kindly to prolonged exposure to the sun, it would never be accused of heliolatry. She laughed at the thought, and then was sobered as she contemplated her precious models exposed to glaring sunlight, and becoming pale and discolored.  Horrible thought.

At long last, she determined that she would use the top of the filing cabinet, which would not give her a huge amount of room, but, would suffice until she could find an alternative.

She picked a few models to move to the new location, and got them settled in their new home, then left the office for the evening.

The following morning, while talking with a client, she learned the folly of her choice as the air started circulating through the ventilation system, which, she had failed to note, had a vent right above her file cabinet.  

She leapt to her feet to survey the damage to her scattered animals.  One had blown 15 feet, and landed in her half-full coffee mug, where it promptly reacted to the excessive moisture.

Helen could not take this disaster, she began to weep.

He client was confused. “Aren’t they just paper?”

Helen scowled, and sat, speachless.

The client tried again. “You can make a new one, right? It’s just paper. Paper doesn’t cost much.  It’s not gold.  ”

Helen burst into tears.

Her client shifted uncomfortably. “I, well, I just meant. It’s just paper, right? Easily replaced.”

Helen shouted, “Oh, sure, to you it’s just paper. Can you replace your son?”

The client just looked at her, and he tried to understand. “It is just paper, right?”

Helen refused to dignify his insulting question with a response.  Her children were not just paper.  She would never drink coffee ever again. Poor little Ronald. He was so young! He did not deserve to drown.

For some unknown reason, this was much harder to write the second time around. I couldn’t find a way to get into the story this time, and couldn’t remember how I’d done it the first, and then, I ran into challenges of other sorts, and finished much later than I’d planned.

heliolatry / HE – lee – all – o – tree / sun worship

Word of the Day: benefic

It’s hard to figure out what to say in this spot if I already know large chunks of the story and just want to get on with writing it so that I can do whatever it is I’m going to do with my day. Which is not to say that I know how the story ends, or that I’m just trying to “Get it over with” just that the story awaits, and is demanding more attention than an introduction this long would suggest.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The city’s alley-ways are filled with bounty. Rows of metal bins, filled with things its neighbors no longer wanted, needed, or which no longer served any purpose.

This bounty brings out treasure hunters of all sorts. Scavengers of the non-human sort find gourmet meals out of that which we consider refuse.  Opportunists hunt for discarded or “mostly usable” furniture, and others hunt for things that could turn a profit in recycling.

Amidst these hunters turning garbage to gold, is another breed of hungry scavenger searching the benefic alleys for useful materials, but this newcomer leaves the refuse where it lies, and takes naught but photos.

Photos of trash might not match your idea of a treasure, but, for these searchers it is wealth beyond recognition, the fuel of many a story and the source of renewable ideas.

Take, for humble example, the waste bin filled with leaf and grass clippings, the rotting produce of an over-abundant fruit tree, and a collection of mystery items from the depths of a newly reclaimed refrigerator. To its side, a large face-down television set, with a curiously crumpled plastic housing, and a cord barely attached.

Who has been trimming their trees, and why did they not bag them? What will the garbage man think when the dumpster is turned over to spill its contents into the truck? Will there be a wind blowing the grass around into his eyes, a tiny blizzard of grass swirling into hair and clothes?

The  biggest prize for this hunter is the television. Could it have been smashed in a lover’s quarrel? If so, why is the back the smashed in part? Is the screen intact? Perhaps it got damaged in a police raid, where there was a struggle, and one of the combatants got pushed into the TV, and his or her weight pushed the TV from its cheap stand into the wall, resulting in the massive trauma to the back and no other obvious injury?

Better still, what if it had belonged to the strange, quiet man on the corner, who kept to himself, and had odd habits and schedule?  His over-imaginative neighbor suspected he was a serial killer, and that one day it would be her, being interviewed on TV avoiding the cliched script of “He was such a quiet man” and instead pronouncing she knew there was something strange about him ever since the first time she laid eyes on him. No one spent that much time alone, in their garage, with their car parked on their lawn. No one did. No one but that weirdo guy.

What if she were correct, and the garage guy had taken another victim, and this one had tried to escape, and had pushed the TV toward the killer who was pursing her as she fled? Maybe she had attempted to use it as an obstacle to slow her determined killer as he crossed the living room behind her? Maybe this TV set was all the evidence that was left that the victim had ever existed, and had tried to protect her life before it was snuffed out forever.

The television sits there still.

I haven’t yet gone “hunting” in the alleys,  but, I think about the contents of the dumpster I see daily as my garage backs into it. I probably think about it far more often than is  healthy. There is a face-down TV sitting to the side of my dumpster as I type this, and I have wondered many times how it came to be broken.

benefic / be – NE – fik / having or exerting a favorable influence.

Word of the Day: inkhorn

One of the realizations I had during my captivity is that having an idea and writing the idea take two different brain activities, and that separating them was a good idea. So, I set out a month’s worth of ideas, with a month’s worth of words, so that when I get up, all I have to do is write them. We’ll see if that works.

Today’s Word:


As in:

A new initiative proposed by the Obama Administration to improve the health of all Americans is a minimum exercise program. Under the proposal, each citizen will be required to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. In addition, the program requires people to engage in an additional 30 min of non-sedentary activities daily.

Critics find the proposal ludicrous, and call it an inkhorn project that will do nothing more than make people feel guilty and do nothing to change the country’s overall health. These critics have found these minimums outrageous, and have suggested that, if it takes effect, that it will create a market for an exercise “Cap and Trade,” or “ExCap” program.

Under the hypothetical ExCap program, people who exercise more than the 30 minutes a day and who exceed the minimum non-sedentary activity requirements can exchange their surplus minutes to those who don’t meet the minimums, thus ensuring that the nation is meeting the minimums.

The program currently has an exchange rate of $5 per minute.  Minutes must be documented via video uploaded to the Internet on a daily basis, and extra minutes are “banked,” and analyzed on a weekly basis, and Saturday becomes the most active “trade day,” as the “under exercised” exchange cash to those with extra minutes to cover their exercise shortfall.

“It’s a win-win situation. People have an incentive to exercise, and an easy way to cover their lack of activity.  For those on limited incomes, who can’t trade cash for activity, we expect they will just put in the time, and, with any luck, become more healthy,”  notes Carlos Montoya, an administrator with the ExCap program. “The bottom line here is improving the overall health of the nation, and we’re doing that. ”

Critics have pointed out that the program unfairly benefits the wealthy, who have the funds available to pay for shortfalls in minutes, while advocates mention that the more entreprenurial of the lower classes could earn extra money being active and exercising, while improving their health.

“Given the link between income and diet, that is, people with higher incomes tend to have better nutrition and a better quality of food, a plan where those with lower incomes actually earn money and exercise more,  the program is a success at motivating those with the greatest need to improve their health and economic situation,” continued Montoya.

Some worry about the fate of those who simple buy their minutes every month, saying that they are simply missing the point and riding on the coattails of those who have always exercised regularly, and that paying people who already exercise beyond the minimums is not actually raising the overall health of the nation.

Others argue that the lazy are the most unfairly targeted group of people, and that our society should not punish the “under-motivated.”

I might actually be motivated by the opportunity to earn money exercising. Anyone willing to pay me to exercise for them? That’s what I figured.

inkhorn / INK – horn / ostentatiously learned: pedantic, pretentious language

Word of the Day: purfle

I’ve learned another valuable truth about stalking ideas. Sometimes, they bite back and bring their friends. As you might also guess, they tend to not fight fair. I decided to share the details of this harrowing experience in…

Today’s Word:


As in:

Hunting the wild idea, Day 200

I was on the trail of an especially wily idea, one that looked like it would easily lend itself to all manner of hilarity. It had a strangely curved jaw line, which could have serious potential, as well as an unusual gait. I could only guess at the bounty this creature would offer my muse, the Ministry of Funny Walks might find itself revived.

From my vantage point, behind a bush with painful thorny branches, I could spy my quarry, observe its habits, then move in for the kill, wrestle with its wispy tendrils to wrangle its wriggly self to my will.

It was then I leaped, weapon ready. I slashed. In the confuse of the moment, I noticed little things that would make for good stories later, when I had this beast dispatched. The critter, who seemed to have teeth and other sharp bits everywhere, used its oddly placed pincers to take a chunk out of my shoulder.

The pain forced me to look up. It was then I realized this idea had friends, and they were gathered all around. Monsters of all shapes and sizes, with teeth on arms and claws on backs and more eyes than Argus. They loomed over me like the thickest forest. Did I mention they were huge?

I felt all was lost. This host of ideas would wash over me. I would never be able to focus on just one at a time! While I worked on one, a dozen of its buddies would be nibbling on my toes, while the other dozen would work over my soft, squishy middle. Fear overcame me, and I was frozen, unable to move or think.

The wasted little time, and grabbed me. I was at their mercy, hands tied and hope lost.

Captivity, Day 8

I have not been able to discern what these beasts want with me. I do not know why they are keeping me alive. One of them, a strange notion, looked like an envelope lined with teeth. It had been purfled on one side, the markings even going through the spot where a stamp and return address would have been, It floated near my head, threatening to bite or perhaps shout at me. I laughed. This idea was little more than a derivative! It wasn’t original at all, it was nothing more than a Howler with different colored paper! Laughter broke its power over me, and it vanished in a puff of smoke.

Captivity, Day ?

Sitting in a room, tied to a chair with nothing to do but be tortured by ideas and think, I finally began to formulate an escape plan. The problem was timing, and would depend on a touch of luck. I started by working loose my bindings, hoping that my efforts would escape the notice of my captors.

Captivity, Day ?

I continue to drown under a flood of ideas, each one simultaneously more tempting and more dangerous than the last. They taunt me, filling me with motivation and inspiration to act and yet, in my state, I cannot bend them to my will. My hands are tied. Couldn’t I get an idea to help me out of this mess?

The bindings on my wrists have finally become loose enough to attempt to escape. Dare I try? It seems the best course, but, fear is more powerful now than my captors.

Captivity, Day the next

Putting the plan into action, I surprised the least attentive of my captors while delivering food. I pummeled the aggravating idea, and slipped out the door.

Freedom, Oct. 11, 2010

My captivity seems to have lasted 41 days. I cannot believe it, and I feel the loss of that time, and the memory of my ordeal is painful and disappointing. I do not know what I can learn from this ordeal, but, at the very least, I can use make it into a thinly disguised metaphor and have one more story completed.


purfle / PER – full / to ornament the border or the edges of

Word of the Day: faff

To write a story everyday of the week, you cannot afford to wait for inspiration. That’s one thing I’ve learned. You have to go out, follow weird looking things down dark alleys, leap over walls, and sneak up on it, beating the thing to death with a big club. Also, tire irons work good. It must be violent and bloody and visceral. No namby-pamby quick kills with guns.*

The more I’ve learned this truth, the more I’ve realized that it would be awesome if I could do something like the subject of today’s story.  And, if you’re asking, I’m totally putting out my hat.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The difficult economic times has led to shortages of many types of resources. The stress of managing finances, juggling commitments and attempting to pinch pennies has left many people feeling drained of ideas as well as tangible resources.

This is especially catastrophic amongst those who rely about creativity to earn a paycheck. Artists, writers, designers and musicians have felt the crash of the imagination markets keenly, and are feeling desperate for ideas.

In their desperation, a few of those affected used their last ounces of creative juices to find an unusual solution. Picking a corner and fashioning a sign of cardboard, they have hit the streets.

However, they are not asking for monetary donations.

They are soliciting ideas.

Signs reading “Can you spare a thought?” are primarily generating confused looks from passersby. A hat “seeded” with slips of paper, and a hand proffering sharpies are helping to clarify the intent.

Other signs are more obvious. One idea beggar held a sign that says “Got ideas? Please share! Anything helps! God Bless!” Another ideapreneur’s sign reads “Will work for ideas!”

When asked if they had gathered any useful ideas from standing on the corner, Edgar Jenkins replied, “A few. Ideas just don’t go as far as they used to. People are busy, and they are short on ideas. Some people are rude. They’re like, ‘Why would we give you our ideas? We need them for ourselves!’ It’s tough. But, there are a few nuggets in there. They just take some polishing.”

Regular panhandlers are angry about the interlopers. “Why can’t they be asking for money like normal people? They faff about, with their cutsy signs, all covered in flowers and fancy lettering. It’s ruining my income. They’re taking all the good corners, and now, instead of money, people expect to be able to talk to me about their stupid invention. People are tossing me slips of paper covered with crappy ideas. Just this week, someone flipped me a ‘Get a job,” a “Get a haircut,” “hot dogs in the shape of actual dogs,” and “frogs on stilts.” I can’t imagine what those freaks would do to that nonsense. You can’t eat it, that’s for sure.”

A few of these idea mongers have reported more success than they had thought possible. “I may never go back to stupid tricks like brainstorming after this. I’m just going to use ideas I get from other people. Some might call that plagiarism, but they were donated freely. I’m going to think of them as ‘found objects,’ or ‘recycling.’ Hey, yeah, that’s good! It’s a green initiative! Recycling ideas!”

It really sounds tempting. What could I do with that frogs on stilts thing? Time will tell.

*Despite the apparent violence of this metaphor, and the number of stories which end up in violence, I should probably mention that I’m generally a very peaceful person.

faff / FAFF / to dither or fumble