Saturday, December 21, 2013

20 Cool Abandoned Places in the World - Imgur

 Photo: Imgur. The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. Started in the late 80s, it now has a plated glass exterior and looks finished from the outside, but apparently work has pretty much halted. Not sure it's been "abandoned"...maybe just frozen in time?

While I'm writing over the holidays, I'll try and post some interesting tidbits from elsewhere.  Thanks to StuStoryteller for bringing this site to my attention.

From an album of 20 photos of abandoned places all over the world.  I have always been fascinated by abandoned/decaying structures.  The majority of places like these that I've explored  have been posted with "No Trespassing" signs, and so if you want to play intrepid adventurer then you usually have to break the law. There is also an inherent risk of injury, since buildings can be unsafe structurally, be inhabited by crack dealers or criminals, full of vermin like rats and snakes, or littered with rusting wire, broken glass, etc. Having said all of that, there's no feeling quite like entering a place like an amusement park, a station, a hospital that's now empty of life but had been left just as it was.  It's sad and creepy and exciting and...

....well, you get the idea.

These images would provide some great stories.  Who lived here? Worked here?  Where did everyone go? 

Think. Dream. Enjoy.

20 Cool Abandoned Places in the World - Imgur

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Five Worst Christmas Gifts I Ever Received

I know, I know, it's the thought that counts, right?  But admit it - you've gotten at least one gift, at some point, which either made you cringe, or left you scratching your head and wondering what the heck the giver was thinking.  And while some of mine might have been suitable for someone else - well, they just weren't right for me.

1. Cactus.  Since my house is Death Row for plants, I suppose this person thought that they'd enrich my environment with greenery which needs almost no care.  Unfortunately, I also tend to be clumsy. I managed to stick myself with cactus spines not once, but three times.  The third incident necessitated a visit to the doctor to address an infection.  Perhaps it was an Avenging Cactus secretly sent by the god of dead houseplants to make me pay.

2. Vacuum cleaner. Thanks honey, how thoughtful.  Expect some of your expensive cuff links to disappear up the new vortex suctioning system and be converted to cold hard cash.

3. Blanket with your ex's initials instead of mine.  After being presented with the order slip to prove that it was a new purchase, and the wrong initials a mere sign of senility, I chose to forgive.

4. 100% Wool socks. Thanks for the itchy feet.

5. The Obligatory Ugly Sweater. Actually, it wasn't that ugly.  More like...inappropriate, as the reindeer's red nose ended up strategically placed in an awkward area of my chest.  I always wondered if it was a miscalculation, or some designer's idea of a practical joke.

So that's my list.  And, looking it over, not too bad I guess.

What's on yours?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Meeting the "Real Santa" and Other News - Personal Post

   First off, if you came here to read a story follow the link below.  A Christmas story was accepted by the local newspaper for their "I Know A Story" column.  (Actually, it's a true story for once.)

                                            The link is broken so I've opted to reprint the story here.

The Little Red Santa House

      Growing up in Lancaster, there were two things which heralded the Christmas season; the trees

on the Watt and Shand building downtown, and the appearance of the little red Santa house at the

Lancaster Shopping Center.

      One particular year, I stood on that cusp of disbelief which comes to every child. There were

rumors circulating that Santa wasn't real, that parents bought the gifts, and that the “naughty or

nice" list was a ploy to get us to behave. I desperately wanted to believe, especially since I held out 

hope that Santa would deliver a much-longed-for pony one of these years. So I was quite torn when I

entered the red house and climbed up on Santa's lap.

      “Merrrrry Christmas Lisa! You've been in some trouble lately, haven't you?”

      I was absolutely floored. Obviously this was the real Santa; how else would he know my name

and my criminal record? There would be no pony this year, and as that particular dream

flew out the window I racked my brain trying to figure out which dastardly deed he was referring to.

Tearing down the clothesline by playing Tarzan and swinging on it? Secretly sweeping my sister's

room for contraband? Eating the candy canes off of the tree?

      In spite of my horror, I felt excitement as well. Santa was real, and there was still time to

be a good girl and try to win back Santa's approval. I vowed to not do a single thing wrong until

Christmas. I accepted a candy cane and ran over to Mom to tell her the good news, while Dad had a

word with Santa.

      So I was a believer for another year, and even after that I wondered how a man dressed as Santa

knew my personal information. As you may have guessed, my parents told me later that Dad knew

“Santa” from work.

      Of course there never was a pony, but there was a chemistry set (a gift that my parents would

soon regret) and a Black Stallion book signed by the Black Stallion himself and author Walter Farley.

     One day I would meet Mr. Farley, but that's another story.

      Eventually I had a son, and I took him to the Santa house as well. The Lancaster Shopping

Center has undergone dramatic changes over the years, but as I drive by today I can still visualize the

way it was, with the magical little house that meant Christmas.

   In other news (if you haven't read the previous post) I've decided to expand what originated as a steampunk flash into a novelette or even a novel.  I've got 10 chapters, 12000 words total so far as a rough draft.  I have to admit, I'm having more fun researching than actually writing.  I'm also combating the usual tendency to edit and perfect as I go, without much luck. I am getting better at just leaping over problem areas and continuing the story line.  I can always go back and rewrite sections later.
    Hope everyone else's writing is going well and that you are all ready for the holidays.  It's snowing here, and quite cozy with the Christmas lights and all.
    Until next time....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Instauration Of An Age - Pt 3 (Steampunk) An Apparition Appears

 Author note - I've decided to attempt to turn this series into a novella.  Therefore, I've taken down parts 1 and 2 for revision (and so as not to give the store away).  Sorry! But hey, if you enjoyed it, I might be looking for a few readers in January for feedback on the rough draft.

     "Tomorrow night then," Percy called cheerfully while I made my way to the door.  As I was girding myself against the raw night I heard an odd set of sounds. Scratch...scratch...scratch...thump. 
      Must be the cat I thought reassuringly to myself.
     Scratch...scratch...scratch...and then the most dismal, the most eerie, the most despairing call from the depths of what hell I knew not.
     "...for the love of God..." scratch...scratch...scratch...
     My bowels threatening to turn to water, I snatched an umbrella from the stand, took a deep breath and flung open the door to confront whatever apparition was on the other side.
     A thin figure in flapping tails unbent and stood up, weaving slightly and making a great effort to focus bloodshot eyes on mine. The almost perfect replica of Sir Percy Harrington held out what appeared to be part of a woman's brooch.
     "Bloody key won't fit," he said blearily.
     I sighed, envisioning the scene which was about to take place. My own bed was obviously not going to be an option after all. "Hullo Thorny. You know, Percy really is going to kill you this time."
     "Death seems rather inviting right now," he agreed, wobbling through the entry and into the room beyond.

     "APPALLING. Absolutely appalling. You REEK of gin and trollops. You appear as though you've had a roll in the street offal like a common cur. I would imagine you've gambled away EVERY SHILLING YOU LEFT WITH."  Percy seemed dangerously close to apoplexy, while his younger brother swayed and smiled benignly, punctuating the proceedings with an occasional hiccup.
     "Just...just...oh, get out of my sight. I can't bear it, I simply CANNOT bear it. Tomorrow I intend to go around to the barrister's and you shall be DISINHERITED. It gives me great pain to do so, but you leave me NO CHOICE. GET OUT."
      And Thornton William Harrington did so, drawing himself up with an injured air and exiting the room with only the slightest hint of a sideways list.
      Percy flung himself into a chair which promptly collapsed under the violence of his action. (I suddenly sympathized with the cat. No wonder it behaved as it did; life in the Harrington household seemed rather a risky business.)  I braced myself for another stream of oaths, but it appeared that Percy had vented his large supply of bile.  He merely sighed, an unconscious mirroring of his younger brother's long-suffering exhalation, and remained where he was, stretched out on the Persian rug.
     "David, as you know I am generally the most elegant and agreeable of hosts. However, I feel positively drained at the moment. Could you possibly find your own way to one of the guestrooms upstairs? Rummage about for whatever you might need. I'm sure we can find you some fresh attire in the morning. There's a good fellow."  And he wearily threw an arm over his eyes.
     I felt "rather drained" myself and so I stepped outside, dismissed the coachman, and quietly made my way back inside and up the stairs. There was really no need for the new electric lights; one only had to follow the wall-rattling snores already emanating from the first bedroom. I chose the room down the hall furthest from the racket. It was freezing, but I didn't have the energy to either lay a fire or summon someone to do it. In fact, I hadn't seen a single servant during the evening. And so I climbed into bed, still wearing my coat and muffler, and fell into a dream filled with men shouting, devilish felines, and fire.