FREE For the Asking: All-Coarse Teeth

The Larkin Plan Winter-Fall 1919-20Inspiration from the Time Capsule comes this week from The Larkin Plan Fall & Winter catalog 1919-20.

Originally soap producers in Buffalo, NY, the company was founded in 1875.

*****

FREE For the Asking:
Black Liquid Shoe Polish
Serviceable Mackinaws and Raincoats
pearl buttons
oil heaters
Charm and Daintiness That Pictures Cannot Portray
Comfort Itself
Nightgown No. 14
Exhaust Pipe Enamel No. 463
exceptionally serviceable Hose
Smart Skirts and Pretty Waists
A particularly strong, good-looking Velocipede,
the little girl
made of heavy steel with seamed joints,
eleven rows of
all-coarse teeth
painted red

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Kindly Advice to Beguile Your Lonely Life

The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, February 1914

When I picked the February 1914 issue of The Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine out of my Time Capsule, I had an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.

The column “Literary Club” (which runs across several pages) reminded me of the first time I received feedback on a piece of fiction.

Naturally I knew my story would blindside the workshop leader and seven other writers around the table – it was the most brilliant story ever to be exposed to human eyes. It would change the course of literature forever.

There was a moment’s silence once the workshop leader opened the discussion, then a snigger, quickly stifled.

“It’s Disney on acid,” said the person to my right and the group dissolved into hysterical laughter. It took all of ten of the forty-five allotted minutes to dissect and toss out the story, wrap up the discussion and head out for a lunch break.

Having endured a painful education in accepting criticism in dance where it can often be phrased and felt as both intensely negative and personal (what’s ‘wrong’ is you/your body), I found the responses amusing. But I’ve never looked at that story again.

I thought what I’d do here is merge snippets from the “Literary Club” column writer’s responses to various poems to create the ultimate feedback letter, and then write a poem using lines and images given in the responses. The poem proved too much for me! I just couldn’t manage it! Can you?

The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, February 1914

*****

Rose of York,

I like your verses.

I should rather demur to the words “sea-girt bay.” An island can be sea-girt, but I don’t quite see how this phrase can apply to a bay of the ocean.

I don’t think I would begin by speaking of “a fellow spirit with whom to converse.” You don’t exactly “converse” with a spirit. You enter into communion with a spirit.

Then this is rather a truism: “It is not the lot of every human creature to be endowed with gifts above those of the average man.” Of course not, for what then would become of the “Average”?

You must not make “on” and “song” rhyme.

I do not think that “the waves falling on the rocks” sounds well.

I confess it would have pleased me better if the Divine Vision had – as surely would have seemed natural – awakened an ultimate response within the breast of the suffering woman.

You are too fond of phrases.

Do not say “then when”

You are inclined to dwell too much on unimportant details.

You rather confuse ideas.

Tautology occurs rather often.

You skip over years in a bewildering manner.

You mix the present tense with the past rather awkwardly.

I do not know why the poem is called “The Crown of Life.”

“I’ll haughty talk of men” is not grammatical.

Your final sentence will never do – it drags on for nine lines.

I have altered the last line.

I sympathise with you, and should encourage you to beguile your lonely life by writing. It is good for you, and, of course, you may improve with practice. Do not be discouraged. You should try again.

Your friend at “The Literary Club”

The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, February 1914

The Black Pearls

The Strand, October, 1948

Today’s inspiration from the Time Capsule comes courtesy of The Strand, October 1948. I used captions of illustrations from several different stories in this edition of The Strand to start off a new story. The first five sentences as well as “a stealthy encroachment of chill into his bones” are borrowed captions.

 

The Strand, October, 1948

The Strand, October, 1948

 

*****

Morley sprang up, dark-veined with rage.

Even Slick was startled. “It’s an impossible job,” he said.

The room was ice-cold and dark.

The figure on the bed came suddenly to life. “Did you not hear me? Go,” he ordered, sitting up and pointing a bony yet commanding finger at the door. “Get the Countess. Bring her here.”

“You’d put us in danger again, Squinty? You can’t ask us to bring the Countess here,” said Morley. “What about her bodyguards? And her husband’s spies? They’re everywhere. And they’re well-armed. Didn’t we go through enough getting hold of those pearls for you?”

“I said, bring her here.” Squinty sank back into his pillows.

Morley’s veins throbbed. The Countess! The rustle of her silken dress. The smooth slope of her bare shoulder. Her creamy neck. The string of black pearls around it! Each pearl a perfection!

Oh, how the very memory of those pearls caused a stealthy encroachment of chill into his bones.

“The Countess! The Countess! Always the Countess!” snarled Morley. “Why don’t you think of us for once?”

“You?” Squinty gave a feeble laugh. “Think of you?”

Morley ground his teeth, or what was left of them. He cursed the night he’d run into Squinty in a low-down tavern on the wharf. If only he could have foreseen how he’d end up paying for those free drinks!

*****

I particularly enjoyed a section in The Strand called “Useless Information.” Did you know, for instance, that “The first Victoria Crosses were made of bronze obtained from Russian guns captured during the Crimean War”? Or that “In flight the wings of the common house-fly make more than 300 vibrations per second”? Or that, because of an earthquake “In 1158 the river Thames ‘was dryed uppe, that all London might walk over the same dry-shod'”?

Free Modifiers, Dependent Clauses and a Good Night’s Sleep

bedroom in apartment in Gaudi's La Pedrera (Casa Milà), Barcelona

Towards the end of my appointment with the sleep doctor, after he’d told me exactly what time I should go to bed every night and what time – exactly – I should wake, he suggested I put my iPod under my pillow, ready for the hours when I lie awake.

On the iPod, he said, should be something like ‘The History of the World.’

Goodness, I said. That’ll send me to sleep.

That’s the whole idea, he pointed out gently.

I hadn’t got around to doing that but I remembered it as a long-time writer buddy and I were exchanging emails about grammatical Continue reading

New Horizons at the Blue Snail Convention

Blue Snails, Place des Spectacles, Montréal, July 2015

When Barry transmogrified into a blue snail he knew who was to blame: Alice. He was torn between admiration and fury. How amazing that she was able to turn a perfectly normal human being into a blue snail! But how infuriating that she’d chosen to use her special skill on him.

His first thought was to storm over to her place and beg her to change him back into a human but he wasn’t going to give her that satisfaction.

No, he’d Continue reading

Prunella Plume, in the Bedroom, with Sulphate of Zinc?

 

The devil is in the details.

Mrs. DeLacey was found in her bedroom at 08.28 by her housekeeper Dolores Pritchitt when she brought Mrs. DeLacey her morning coffee. On the bedside table were the cup containing the remains of Mrs. DeLacey’s hot chocolate and two digestive biscuits. Dolores Pritchitt says she knew mischief was afoot the moment she saw the digestive biscuits. Mrs. Delacey was not one to let a digestive biscuit go uneaten.

Prunella Plume is missing. So too is her new green car. IMG_5581

This much we know for a fact.

A quick deduction would lead us to the logical assumption that Prunella Plume was the perpetrator of this vile, heinous and despicable act.

However…

Let us examine the details:

Item 1: The keys. Did Prunella Plume use them to let herself out of the house after committing the dastardly crime? If so, why did she go back inside to Continue reading