Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Than A Muffin

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

We shook the trees until muffins fell out.

“These are stinky blueberry!” Horatio cried.

“Shake harder,” I said. We shook harder. We were after corn muffins because we liked the feel of the grit on our teeth. The shade was magnifico, it being so wicked hot out this time of day. Mornings are a good time to eat muffins, but if you can hold out until mid-afternoon, you’ll get them hot because they’ll have been baking in the high sun. Pancho had a pocketful of butter that was just begging to be spread.

Eventually, a whole bushel of golden corn muffins pummeled our skulls. We sat at the base of the trees and stuffed our guts. We barely had time to lick our teeth before Suzy came running up the hill.

“Mambi’s house is on fire! Momma wants you to get a firetruck!” We groaned but got to our feet.

“Start shaking!” I hollered. We shook the hell out of the big oak. I put my hand over my head for protection when the hook and ladder came crashing through the branches.

Anna's Memory Book

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

Anna met a nice lady named Jane at the park on Thursday. They sat on the grass and staged an impromptu picnic with the things they found in their bags: Three sticks of gum, half a bottle of fruit punch and a linty peanut. It was a magical afternoon that Anna cherished and she wanted to ensure that she’d remember her new friend forever.

She took Jane home with her and taped Jane into her memory book. Jane took issue with this so Anna re-taped her next to George Hamilton, whom Anna had met at a party in Malibu last year. Jane quieted down after that. Anna turned the pages until she came to her childhood home taped to page two. She went in and said hello to her parents who were securely taped to the kitchen. Then she went to her old room for a nap. Her parents had kept it just as it was when she’d moved out. They really had no choice. They were stuck in the kitchen.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Huntress

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

Her wooden bones creaked as she made her way through the eternal night. Her sap burned with hunger and her grassy stomach lining rumbled as she chased the glow on the horizon. She stuck her snout in the fresh earth below, taking a mouthful to stave off her pangs. Dirt was plentiful on the hunting grounds. But dirt would only go so far.

By the time she came upon the herd, cold rains drove down hard upon her bark-skin. Rootlings extended from her paws and sipped, though her legs shook almost to collapse. To lie down now meant death. She didn’t comprehend her own mortality, however. She knew only hunger. The desperate need to feed drove her on where a more sentient being might have faltered.

The herd had emerged from a nearby forest to graze on lightning bolts, oblivious to any predator in the noise of the wind and the rain. She saw it there, the small one in the back. A malnourished runt, but enough to fill her stomach. She tore through the muddy fields and pounced upon her prey. Jaws unhinged and she swallowed the little will-o’-the-wisp while the rest of the herd scattered back into the forest.

She had no desire to give chase, but followed to get out of the rain and digest the life-giving light within her bloated, glowing belly. Time enough for the others when the hunger came again.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Season For All Seasonings

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

That winter was the worst we’d ever seen. Constant blizzards, we even had two blizzards at the same time. Sure, some people thought it was just one big one, but they were a bunch of crackheads. Any fool could tell those snowflakes were from two distinct social circles. Halfway into the season, supplies ran low. When we ran out of salt for the icy roads, we turned to the next best thing: paprika.

“The roads are too spicy now!” some bitches at the town hall meeting complained. And when I say bitches, I want you to know I’m referring to both genders of human and no gender of dog.

“How ‘bout oregano?” I screamed. “Huh? How ‘bout that? Let’s see your goddamned cars get traction on oregano. It’ll be like dying at the Olive Garden.”

“Hey, hey! Take it easy,” they said. I told them they wouldn’t like it when I got riled.

“Don’t make me pull out my jerk spice,” I added, just to let them know I wasn’t rolling over.

“What if we peppered the roads with garlic salt?’ they offered, much more conciliatory now.

“You idiots!” I shouted. You pepper the streets with pepper, you don’t pepper the streets with garlic salt! You’ll get us all killed!”

A guy in the back raised his hand. “No pepper!” I said. His hand went down.

“Howsabout we garlic salt the streets with garlic salt?” someone asked.

“Now that there just might work,” I said. “Everybody?”

The ‘Ayes’ had it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Night And Day

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

Everybody said they were like night and day. In fact, they weren’t merely like night and day, they were night and day. And they were in love. And like most others who were in love, they were completely miserable. They touched at the edges always, and nothing more. They wanted to embrace each other, but as he moved west to reach her, she moved west to reach him. Always. Always. Always. Perhaps they thought if they did it long enough, one would finally catch the other.

Day longed for their union, a burning purple dawn/dusk everywhere at once. If only. He cursed the damned world for forever being in their way, for coming between them. He scorched the land, wanted to punish it simply for existing, but Night took pity on the poor world, and cooled it with black salve and gentle wind. This enraged the jealous Day. He unleashed all of his light and heat and vaporized the world in a mindless nuclear fury. Not a scrap of it survived.

“Finally,” Day said. “Nothing can come between us ever again.” But even as he spoke the words he realized she had left him. “Come back,” he pleaded. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!” But what was he to do? He had destroyed the world. There was no bringing it back. Would she ever forgive him?

He left a light on, hoping she’d come back one day.

Friday, July 27, 2007

They Call Me Mr. Stinkypants

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

Sally always made too much for supper and they were never in the mood for leftovers. Food piled up in the fridge and spilled out onto the floor. One morning Bob moaned about his fraying cuffs.

“If we didn’t spend so much money on food we don’t eat, I could afford some new suits!” That’s when inspiration dropped from the ceiling and squatted on his head.

Bob strutted into work that day in a suit made of steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli. He seemed as pleased with his ingenuity as with all the attention he received. It was a hit! And the dogs loved him! And birds! And insects! He felt like Snow White, walking home from work as all of God’s creatures tore his clothes down to their constituent atoms.

He arrived home naked. Sally hosed him off and found herself overcome by his pasty white body, all glistening in the late afternoon sunlight. They humped like dogs, right there in the front yard.

“I should have thought of this years ago!” Bob thought, as he drove it home.

At work the next day, Bob sported a stylish three piece made from jumbo ravioli. Mr. Hamara approached Bob’s desk.

“Bob, I’m afraid you’ll have to stop wearing your food around the office.”

“Why do you say that, Mr. Hamara?”

“To be frank, Bob, you smell.”

“Sir, climate control keeps the office at a crisp forty-two degrees. That’s nearly as good as my refrigerator.”

“I didn’t mean to imply that you stink of rancid food, Bob. The problem is you smell quite tasty.”

“Well, Sally is a great cook, sir.”

“Too great, I’d say. It’s an incredible distraction for everyone in the building. Since you pulled your little stunt yesterday, production has been down .004 percent. We just can’t have that.”

“How ‘bout I work extra to make up the difference?”

“The more you work, the more production will drop! You’re just not doing the math here, Bob, which is a shame since you were hired on as Head Math Guy. The smell is even affecting you. Lose the food suits, Bob.”

“I can’t! I won’t!” Bob ran screaming from the office like a madman. He had his hands waving in the air above his head and everything.

Out on the street, Bob wandered aimlessly. Everything had been going so well. Why did that big stupid-head, Mr. Hamara, have to spoil it all? Where else could he go? Who else needed a Head Math Guy? No one, that’s who else! He’d have to suck it up and go back there, in a suit made of frayed and neutral-smelling fabric. He headed home to change. On the way a man stopped him on the street and asked:

“Mind if I take a bite of your pants, mister.”

“Yes I mind!” Bob answered. “What will God’s creatures eat?”

“What would you say to President Lincoln?” the man asked, brandishing a crisp five. Bob looked around, a crowd of people had gathered, their wallets and purses at the ready, waiting on his decision.

“I’d say, ‘To hell with God’s creatures, Mr. Lincoln!’”

A roar went up and his hands and mouth were stuffed with money as people of all walks of life ate Bob naked. Wait that doesn’t sound right. As people of all walks of life ate Bob’s suit until he was naked. Yes, he had done ravioli underwear as well. He hobbled home to Sally’s waiting hose. Even with money taken out for the shots he’d need (He had more than a few bite marks on him) he had more cash than he’d get at his old job in two days.

“Honey,” he said, as they lay naked and wet in the front yard. “I’ve decided to go into the catering business.”

Thursday, July 26, 2007


It’s back, folks! The story-a-day blog that you’ve all missed so much. The first time around, I started on July Twenty-seventh of last year, so it seems appropriate to start season two tomorrow. This comes about because I’ve been twiddling my twiddling parts for many days now, wondering what I want to write next and coming up with a whole lot of diddly. The two stories that I’ve most recently finished were born of season one (And I’m quite happy with how they turned out), so maybe this will help with my writing stuckedness.

True, this may only last a day or it may last as many as three days. Who knows? Although consistency wasn’t perfect last time around, it was pretty good, but what helped me there was a fair sized backlog of stories that I could post when I couldn’t think of one or didn’t have time on a given day. I don’t have a backlog anymore. But there’s only one way to find out how this or anything else goes. I’ll see you on the other side of the future.

Saturday, July 14, 2007



I’ve been struck by a couple of exposures to emergence this week, a newish field that explores how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, it’s bottom-up organization of large systems as opposed to the top-down systems that we humans have preferred during most of our existence. First I saw this:

Thanks to Cory Doctorow’s blog entry on Boingboing:

Then I saw this on Nova scienceNow the other night:

This is fascinating stuff and I’ve thought for years that we’re not ever going to create real robotic intelligence from programming it into a central brain with a bazillion lines of code, but from simple responses tied into sensory input. That’s how little bug-like bots work, your sensors bump into something, you move around it, that’s it. On a more complex scale (helluva lot more sensors and responses), we could achieve something that mimics intelligence very well, if it’s not actual intelligence (but it might be).

Maybe sometime in the next hundred years, when we’ve mastered the complexities, we can institute human emergent systems. Imagine a modern industrialized nation running smoothly without the need for leaders. An anarchist’s dream.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sugar, Sugar


My daughter had yet another birthday the other day. She wanted one of those super cookie things instead of a birthday cake. Mrs. Fields(among other places) makes this thing that consists of a sixteen inch chocolate chip cookie stacked upon another sixteen inch chocolate chip cookie with a layer of buttercream frosting between them and more buttercream frosting on top. Now, those who know me know that my body consists primarily of fat, flour and sugar, but I have to say, maybe this cookie is a little too sweet. The good people in the Mrs. Fields labs have seem to have discovered a way to gain access to the space in between the cookie’s sugar molecules and somehow stick more sugar in there. I’m saying that eating a pound of confectioner’s sugar straight might seem kind of bland after you’ve had a piece of this cookie. For those of you who don’t know me, this is a recommendation.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Little Known Medical Fact

By Matthew Sanborn Smith

Babies have about three-hundred bones when they pop out. Adults have about two-hundred and six. The obvious question, and the one I’m most often asked (Even though I’m a plumber and not a boneologist, but, hey, life is funny sometimes) is, “What becomes of all those excess bones?” The truth is, a variety of things.

Firstly, the two big stomach bones are vomited up within the first three months. It’s not widely known, because when people see two big bile-soaked bones on the floor near the crib, the last thing anyone thinks is, “That must have come from the baby.”

Bone pickers come at night, creeping in through bedroom windows across America to remove the ear bones while our babies are sleeping. They then sell them to restaurants which use them for soup. This explains the redness in the morning and why foreigners have such bony ears.

The nostril bones are generally sneezed out by the end of the first year and often find a second life as fairy anklets. The brain bones dissolve in the elementary years, when cursive writing is learned. This extra space is needed though, for driver’s education. It is a documented fact that no human being was able to drive a car before cursive writing was invented.

The liver bone never goes anywhere special, a fact her husband is reminded of on a weekly basis. She’s simply forgotten. Ask your doctor if he’s ever checked a liver for a bone. See if you don’t get a funny look.

I’m sure you think I’m making this up, but let me ask you, how could your heart break if there wasn’t a bone in it? I’m sorry I had to bring that up, I know you don’t like to talk about it. You wouldn’t be able to cry like that either, if the doctor hadn’t shattered your eye bones with the first slap. You bawled them out and there was so much general muck coming off of you at the time, no one noticed a little more. Stop it already. Come here.

Give me a hug.