This project came out of one of the more challenging prompts from my Advanced Dramatic Writing class at Portland State:

Put no more than four characters in one of the following settings (note the theme here: small spaces): a closet, restaurant booth, bathroom, cockpit, confessional, elevator, hunting blind, cave, submarine, office cubicle, ferris wheel, tunnel, jail cell, bed, … you get the idea. The scene must additionally contain the following ingredients: A blind date, 3 days without sleep, a phobia, and a man covered in tattoos.

Stage reading of The Long Blink, performed (L-to-R) by Nick Nolan, Taryn Judah, Madison Shanley, and Drew Pierce. Filmed by Jerry Rous.

The cool thing is: the more limiting a prompt is, the easier it seems to be to come up with ideas for it. I suppose this is because when you’re asked to “write something,” the entire universe of possibilities rushes in and you end up staring at a blank page too small to fit anything that comes to mind. But with limitation comes innovation!

For some reason this prompt wasn’t enough punishment, so I added a couple of limitations of my own:

  • I would try to use most, if not all of the settings given, and
  • I would do so without any narration–it would all be in the dialogue.

The class really rocked this prompt. The best part was the collaboration: the writers were teamed up with other students who would take on the roles of director and voice actors, so we could see and hear how the piece works for an audience. During rehearsals these collaborators helped workshop the piece from their perspective, as director, actors, as well as a volunteer dramaturge (someone who makes sure the piece holds together in its own universe).

This collaboration not only helped me craft the work so that the story in my head actually made it to the audience, but to find amazing connections, ideas and perspective from the mouths of my own characters, told through the people acting them out. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. I am humbled by how much this improved what I started with.

As a mid-term project, we had our scripts read on stage in front of an audience–and a video camera. Although it would have been awesome to see it acted out, there were too many constantly evolving scripts and too little time to block, act and memorize them all. But as voice actors, these performers made this silly story truly come to life for me.

It is still a work in progress, of course (especially the new ending), but we had a lot of fun getting it this far. I hope you enjoyed it.

Hopefully more soon!! ^_^

2015.03.21 037So, turns out the pterodactyl was a darling.

She called a family of brontosaurs she knew who run the Pangean Towing Cooperative, who came out and towed my defunct way-back machine to their cave garage. I’m still not sure when this is, but the natives here have been quite accommodating.

Of course there’s always a fly in the ointment amber, or an unexpected dinosaur in the tar pit . . .

We were having a lovely dinner at Laughing Planet (who knew they’ve been around since the dawn of time?), only to find there are small happy dinosaurs running about the place stealing peoples’ side dishes.

This critter for example (Exhibit A, right), took a serious liking to my guacamole. I mean, yes, I did mention earlier that I can’t really taste guacamole, but jeez, the little raptor could at least have asked before it grabbed my spoon and started snarfing it up.

So, I’m thinking about making my blog a little less blog-a-day-zical. Eeek! I know right!?

I mean, frankly who wants to read this much of my silly ramblings every single day? Well, other than my cats, and the other small rodents they have over when I’m not around (really guys, the tiny beer cans so give it away).

Perhaps if I post 3 or 4 times a week, that will suffice to get my blog fix. I can last that long between ramblings, right?

Well, uhm, okay . . .

tumblr_m17tguFPbu1qiq0tko1_500The actual truth is: I think I broke my Way-Back Machine from using it too much.

I was sitting here pulling buttons and twisting levers and pushing knobs . . . wait, that doesn’t sound right. And then the cat sneezed (I so don’t want to talk about that mess) and the next thing I know I’m way outside of my “normal” blog zone. I have no idea when I am now . . . or then . . . or . . .

OMG . . . is that a pterodactyl??

Cool!!

I’ll get back to you.

One of the many seemingly random “Bits” I hope to explore in this space–my final frontier . . . is my fiction work. As if reality wasn’t suffering enough here already, hmm?

By fiction I mean both screenplays and novels, perhaps even some short pieces.

Like everything else that spews from my fingers, like Mork from Ork in reverse, my fiction also verges on weirdness . . . or hadn’t you noticed? I kinda like throwing normal present day people in normal settings into something a little unusual and watch what happens.

Kind of like what I do with you here. ~giggle~

Here’s one short example that randomly landed on me in a Creative Writing/Fiction class a few college terms ago. Don’t ask me what I was on at the time . . . I don’t want to talk about it.

It goes something like this . . .

Ms. Amoeba, P.I.

The bullet holes were gone. I felt around my chest and abdomen, but they were nowhere to be found. Maybe I’d imagined the whole thing and simply fainted, like women are always doing in old movies. Twits. But the memory of the bullets tearing into me was painfully clear. The two goons with the semi-automatics had fired at least a dozen rounds into me and left me for dead in this trash-strewn alley.

Or so I thought. Even my dress was unscathed.

I got up, shook it off, and made my way to Tony Desilio’s lounge, determined to find the answers to my first mystery. The second would have to wait, the one with the tiny saucer that had landed in the street in front of me and gone squish. I wasn’t sure I saw that either, especially the weird ooze that leaked out. I know I shouldn’t have touched it. The blur of memories that hit me at that point don’t bear thinking about, at least until I got a drink in me. The thugs dragged me into the alley while I was distracted with that.

Or so they thought.

When I arrived at Tony’s, I expected more trouble, but the goon at the door that looked like a meat locker just gave me the hairy eyeball and let me in. The weasel that shot me first was waiting in the wide foyer. I could tell they both sported big revolvers under sweaty armpits.

“Sid, the broad’s still alive,” said the bouncer .

“Shut up, Dob, and check her for a vest,” said Sid, eyeballing me. He looked less cool than he acted.

The bouncer, as chivalrous as a hockey player, bounced me against the wall—hard—to make me more cooperative, but the effect was anticlimactic. My back seemed to flatten against the cheap paneling, then bounce back.

Weird was not the word.

With his other meaty paw, Dob reached toward my blouse, a flicker of something unsavory in his eyes as his fingers hovered over my cleavage. I felt that helpless thing women hate so much, for about three seconds. This truly pissed me off.

I shifted and something went squish. The arm that was wrenched behind my back melted away–and reconstitute in front of me. I didn’t have time to freak out about it. Maybe later.

All I knew was they were trying to do to me what they already did to my family. I could feel my anger focusing into the clenching of my relatively small fist, becoming a rock-hard ball of hate, a fist-sized boulder of it. Without thinking, I swung it up, striking Dob hard enough to send him flying off his feet. Everyone in the room was shocked, including me.

Sid brought his gun up, but the big one rolled over and jumped me first, pinning me to the floor under 400 pounds of smelly flesh.

The next thing I knew I was on my feet again, slapping away Sid’s pistol, then Sid, who hit the far wall, then folded onto the floor. The bouncer hoisted himself off the floor staring at his hands.

“What the hell are you lady?” he said, “You melted. Slipped away like Jello.”

I stepped toward him and he backed away.

“Shoo!” I said and he disappeared out the front door under his own steam.

I stepped past Sid’s limp form and headed for Tony’s office, my mind reeling with what just happened. Whatever it was, it didn’t stop me from my original goal. Nothing could stop me from that. Tony was going to pay. I entered and closed the door behind me. Tony swiveled his chair toward me and smiled.

“Hey, Babe. Nice to see you. Still looking good despite reports from my guys.” he was a cool customer right to the end. “You’re really starting to annoy me.”

“I’m just getting started.”

He didn’t seem impressed. I’d left my gun back at the office, I wouldn’t have been impressed either. I was about the same shape as a cocktail waitress. A smart one.

Tony stood up from his desk and came toward me. I decide to meet him halfway.

“You killed my family,” I said through my teeth. “Burned them alive in a fireball. Got anything to say for yourself?”

“Only that my boys are getting clumsy. They were just supposed to get you. I don’t like nosy women in my business. Here, let me get the boys in here so we can tie up this loose end.”

He went to whistle and I caught his hand. He looked down, mesmerized as my hand melted and flowed over his. The look of terror came when I pulled him to me and his body became engulfed in parts of me, as well. I didn’t know what I was doing, but my body did. He dissolved quickly, thousands of horrible deeds flashing into my mind as his skull was digested into me. When it was done, there wasn’t a cell of him left and I knew his every secret.

Half disgusted, half vindicated, I dropped into his chair and stared at my hands. They looked completely normal. I had become some kind of human-amoeba thing, and I’d just digested someone alive. How do I deal with that?

I was a PI, not a late night cinema monster. What do I do with this?

The tiny UFO came to mind, squashed under the tire of that checkered cab. The answers had to be there. No sooner had a I thought the thought, than memories flooded in. Memories that weren’t mine.

Frantic fighting to get control of my ship. Strange buildings falshing past, then asphalt racing up. There was an awful crash. Then a close-up of a zigzagged Michelin putting out my lights, before I could react. All I felt then on were memories of memories–also not mine. Seems aliens’ lives flashed in front of them at death, too.

I saw the history of a world far from our own, familiar weirdness filling my human side with awe. This creature was not a monster. It had been an emissary of peace, a critter with an important mission. And as it died it came to a desperate decision. I came to my senses realizing a dead alien emissary somehow passed something of itself into a skirt-wearing P.I., who could suddenly do things to bad guys that would put her off her grain for weeks.

Lucky me.

Excerpt of Ms. Amoeba, by Miki Marshall

Not my usual cup of bananas, this anti-heroine thing. At the time I thought it might have some promise as a possible prelude to a series of stories. I’m not sure of the gruesome ending though. ~shiver~

I’m kinda wondering what you think. (No, really!) I mean, if you’re weird enough to still be reading my blog, I might as well put you to work. You my kinda people!*

[ * i.e., weird. ]

It has been brought to my attention that I introduced the idea of writing memoir in my blog . . .  without actually writing any. Uhm . . . Busted!!

Geez, you guys. Make me write, whydon’tcha! ~sigh~

Okay, here goes  . . .

I was born in the mythical kingdom of Koozbeen, the only child of a badly rescued princess and a recently kissed frog, both on their second marriage. Life was good until the Bugblatter Beast of Traal arrived and ate the townsfolk . . .

No, that’s not right. Ugh. You all don’t really want to hear the whole genealogical regurgitation, do you? Yeah, neither do I. We’ll get to that later, when I can think of a way to put a better spin on it. Believe me, it’s not what you think. Unfortunately no townsfolk get eaten in that version–I’m sorry to get your hopes up on that part.

Instead, let’s be all random and start out with a piece I wrote about <sarcasm>my most favorite thing, sports, . . . during my most favorite part of life: high school.</sarcasm>

This was written for a creative writing class and actually read on stage in front of people. I don’t want to talk about it. It goes something like this . . .

Poor Sport

I have a confession to make: I’m a poor sport. It’s not that I lack sportsmanship—winning or losing isn’t a big deal for me.

I just don’t get it. Grown people running back and forth, killing themselves over a round orange or white ball, or a misshapen brown ball, or placing themselves in the path of a hard threaded Frankenstein ball someone just whacked with a big stick. All this excitement and injury over who gets the ball. It’s just silly. And people pay big bucks to watch them do this. It seems to me if they just gave everyone their own ball—whichever color or shape that works for them—they’d all be happy and stop running around jumping on each other.

Of course, my confusion about playing sports may stem from how badly I suck at it—that’s what I meant about being a “poor sport.” It’s not that I didn’t try. Each time I was conscripted to play one of these competitive games in Phys. Ed. class, I’d give it my best. But—except for running—I’m just not built for that sort of thing. Thanks to several bullies I’ve had the enormous pleasure to meet in my life, I can usually outrun most anything. But make me kick or catch a ball along the way and I’m liable to make a dramatic face-plant on the turf, or knock over my fellow players like bowling pins.

20070812-02-01There is one sport I suck at in a particularly awesome way though:

Dodgeball…

Yet another silly game with balls, which I find ironic; but this one involves the biggest, strongest kids throwing stinging hard rubber projectiles at each other, but especially the easily-bruised geeky ones—like me. Someone was feeling particularly sadistic when they came up with this game.

I’m usually the last one picked for any team; but in this game, once I’m out on the polished gym floor, they get a surprise: If there’s one thing about me and pain, I’m good at getting out of its way. I can move! With a dozen of these hard rubber horrors whipping around at once, I can duck, jump, run or simply turn sideways and disappear.

Yes, sometimes that joke is true—at least back in my pre-college days.

Unfortunately, that’s where my talents end. If my team was winning, it was not due to any help from me. My throwing ability then was despicable, and catching a ball to get someone out was not an option.

If my team was losing, my evasive talents simply drew out their imminent death. At this point, the teacher would become impatient, watching my macabre survival dance, and dissolve the “do-not-cross” line between the teams. My assailants would then amass and move in for the kill. All my hard work would lead to circular bruises all over my body, rather than the expected one. You would think I’d figure this out and sacrifice myself early on … but apparently, I don’t have a mind for sports either; and survival is a hard habit to break.

In the end, with all such sports, my performance would amount to a spastic effort to avail, but end in a letdown to beat the lowest of expectations. Looking back now, it seems to make more sense to me, that if the team captains don’t really want to pick the geeky kid—the one trying to make herself invisible behind the climbing rope—and the invisible one doesn’t want to be picked—why not just let them sit out all the silliness and read a book, or play with their new calculator.

If exercise truly is mandatory, then they could be made to run laps around the field. This would’ve worked for me. I could say I ran circles around them all.