Thursday, September 13, 2007


by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Vinnie figured if V-8 was so great and everybody coulda had one, then V-9 had to be better. Trouble was, there was no V-9. Vinnie set about to create one.


"Jesus, Vinnie!" Frankie sputtered between his coughing fits, "What the hell is in that? There's stuff in it!"

"Well, there's V-8, of course, and potato chips," Vinnie said.

"Potato chips? You can't put potato chips in juice." He propped himself against Vinnie's kitchen counter while his face dripped into the wastebasket.

"Sure you can. I just did. Everybody likes potato chips. Look, don't you love chocolate chips in your ice cream?"

"Aw, man, you're not gonna put chocolate chips in this shit too, are you?"

"Now that would be silly. I'm saying you like the mix, right? You got the melty stuff and you got the chewy stuff. Same thing here." He held up the bottle. It had plain white paper taped around it with "V-9" written on it with a permanent marker.

"You don't want chewy stuff in your juice, you crazy asshole. V-8 is juice, V-9's gotta be juice too."

"The "V" stands for "vegetable," not "juice." Otherwise it would be called J-8, wouldn't it? And potato chips is a vegetable."

"Potato chips are junk food. They're processed. With oil." Vinnie considered this a moment, then he jumped up.

"Not just oil, my friend! Vegetable oil! Do you understand what we've got here? It's V-10! That's two better!"

"Why stop there?" Frankie said. "Why not three or four better? It's not like anybody's gonna drink it."

"See this is why I come to you, Frankie. You're a freakin' genius."

Vinnie's up to V-163 now.

Don't drink it.

Inspiration: A stroll through the grocery store the other day gave me a few ideas. Sometimes you're just in the right frame of mind.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Double Duty

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

My husband, George, had just gone to bed and the little grey kitten rubbed against my foot.

"You’re right," I said, "Even though you don’t know it. I should shower first." I picked up the kitten and unfolded her into a grey washcloth before she knew what was happening. After my shower, I let the washcloth fall to the floor and it collapsed back into the kitten. She was pissed. Soaking wet and having just had intimate knowledge of my every bit and piece, she bolted off to hide from her evil human mistress. Dogs don’t mind nearly as much as cats, but I’d never use Ruby as a washcloth. I needed her to dry off.

"C’mere, Ruby," I called. Ruby came, because she’s a dog. A beautiful golden retriever. "That’s a good girl, Ruby. I gave her a good head scratching before grabbing her front paws and stretching her out into a luxurious bath towel. I love it when the towel just comes from the dog. It’s so warm. I wrapped myself in the towel and found George still up, stark naked on the bed.

"Hows about a little lovin’ baby?" he said. I laughed.

"You must have read my mind," I said. I stood next to him and let my towel drop to the floor. Ruby shook herself off and walked circles at the foot of the bed. George wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me down on top of him.

"Gimmie some sugar," he said. I kissed him hard on the lips and grabbed his thingie. "Mmmmm," he said. My hand squirmed beneath his armpit and I snapped him firmly into a king-sized mattress pad.

I put on my pajamas and got a decent night’s sleep.

Inspiration: I just took a shower and looked at my grey washcloth. At the same time, an image of a curled up kitten popped into my head.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Surge

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

When the guy from USC said drinking piss gives you superpowers, well we knew he was full of shit. Another intellectual elitist – “Worse than that,” Bob said, “An elitist intellectual!” – Thanks, Bob, but anyway you get the picture, some bastard who got educated and goes on TV instead of working on new cell phone features like he’s supposed to.

When the President said that drinking piss gives you super powers, well, we had to admit she had a good point. We all drank piss. She’s the President and she has God on her side. She’s
practically the Pharaoh. Right away, people started speaking up and saying things like, “My friends and I have been drinking piss for years and we don’t have super powers.” We’d come right back at them and say, “You and your friends are all just a bunch of perverts and perverts don’t get powers. They don’t have the moral fortitude!”

When people started falling off of roofs and getting squashed by cars we knew where we had gone wrong. We weren’t drinking enough piss! Up to that point we’d been drinking our own, but really, what kind of sense does that make? We started in on each other’s, and by the way Bob, I think you need to drink more water. I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that.

No one was flying or super-speeding or anything. A lot of people pointed to their projectile vomiting as evidence of a bona fide power. “We weren’t doing that before we started drinking
piss!” they said. The disbelievers couldn’t argue with that logic. One lady even said her crocheting had improved. So there you go. The White House said we were almost there. They advised us to buy more beer. We did. Talk about a surge!

Those of us whose crocheting hadn’t improved went on all-piss diets. It looked like some people were dying from piss-poisoning, until the news said that the powers that be (and the executive and legislative branches were as one on this) explained that those people weren’t really dead, they just had acquired super-hibernation powers. That was too much for the other guys. They pointed to the article on page H17 of the Times with the headline: “MIT Study: Morons Drink Piss.” And added that this whole thing was a conspiracy set in motion by the breath mint cartel.

Ridiculous! I stood up on the table (there was a table, did I mention that?) And shouted: Intellectual elitists! I’m going to hibernate all over you!” I took a swig from my glass. Nothing happened. “All right, maybe not today. But soon. We’ll show you all!”

Inspiration: Honestly, I just thought it was time we had a good piss-drinking story out there. The political bullshit is what happens when I watch Bill Maher right before writing.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

And Another Thing

You may have noticed that I noted the inspiration for The Angel Flies above the title. I’m going to go back through my posts little by little and mention the inspiration for each story, because the question every writer gets every time is: “Where do you get your ideas?” Well, look back at old posts over the coming weeks and I’ll tell you. I’ll probably mention them at the end of the story, because I don’t want to ruin anything.

This is a subject that I love. I love to learn about how the creative process works in other artists. My all-time favorite Beatles documentary was one on the making of each song on Sgt. Pepper. No, I don’t know the name of it. It may not even exist on DVD. Anyway, the glimpses I’ll give are tiny things, but maybe you’ll get something out of it and we’ll all be better people for it. All right, I know that’s not going to happen. I just wanted to end this thing on a pleasant note.

Ahhhh, That Feels Good!

So, I finally pulled myself out of this long non-writing funk after reading something some guy had posted on some website (how’s that for specificity?). It’s one of those things that you’ve known forever, but it’s not until someone reminds you of it that you put it to use once again.

As you may know (And may be sick of hearing), I had my first pro sale last April. The whole sophomore thing was hanging over my head and I wanted to follow it up quickly with a killer story or two to prove to myself that the sale hadn’t been luck, that I actually had a real skill for telling stories and maybe someday I could make a living at this. I wrote what I felt were two really good stories and they have been rejected and rejected and rejected some more. Needless to say, I felt like crap after about ten rejections between the two stories. No follow up there. More than that, I really busted my ass to make those stories good. Where could I go from there? And that’s where the freeze-up comes. What some people call writer’s block. It’s not that you can’t think of anything to write, it’s that you can’t think of anything good enough to write. And you are stuck like a Dodge Dart at the Mud Bog Spectacular.

That’s where this something something comes in (Okay, it’s here) and then I remember. If you want to write and you can’t, aim for crap. Don’t merely settle for crap, strive hard for crap. And the words will flow like your mind has swallowed a quart of castor oil (Now that’s some crap, my friend).

I have written today. More than a thousand words of brand new stuff and that is the best day I’ve had in weeks. Not coincidentally, I’m in the best mood I’ve been in for weeks, as you might expect.

I’m regular again.

The Angel Flies

This story was inspired by two photos on Flickr: Angel of the North and Smoke From a Rocket Launch.

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

When the Angel of the North uprooted itself and stretched its vast, rusty red and girded structure, the tourists didn't scream or run. They snapped shots with their phones and digicams. At worst, some cursed the light as dusk began to settle over the English highways. The people didn't fear it, they trusted it completely and they knew the angel moved for some higher purpose. Its now separated legs pounded the ground to tremors as it ran across the countryside and the angel lowered its torso to warp the wind around its aeroplane wings. The contrails of multiple rockets foamed the air and before anyone noticed, the angel's last foot had left the ground. It flew into the distant west, to right some unbearable wrong. The people stood silently, some within the open doors of their cars on the sides of the road. They had witnessed something that wasn't for the tabloids, wasn't for the BBC or any dry history book. They had witnessed something for themselves. Something that had changed them and would continue to change them for the rest of their long lives. Streaks of smokey icing smeared themselves across the sparse clouds in the darkening purple-orange sky. It would be dark before anyone headed for home.