Monday, December 28, 2009


Ahoy Mateys!!


(Channeling Robert Newton as he played Long John Silver ... he says ...)
'Tis I, yourrrrr Captain speakin'. (Don't you love the way he rolls his R's?) We're sailin' through the Winter Ocean, bound, for sure, into the Sea of January. Halfway through our trip through that cold and bitter, stormy sea, we will happen upon the Challenge called "Turbulence". We'll be alongside her pier on the 16th of the month at 1900 hours CST.

So get your pens, pencils, keyboards and quills ready. Sharpen your wits. Invent your stories and prepare to board the Challenge called Turbulence. Lay below and get busy!!! ARRRRRR.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Is Whispering Nothing?

AHOY MATES!!! ALL HANDS ON DECK and Welcome! - as we explore the responses to the current challenge "Is Whispering Nothing?". All Hands!! Man the lifeboats and explore each of these little 'islands' and we'll all come back to sail on to other stuff next time.

We have entries today from Zorlone, Mary H Warren, Rusty Harden and Lou Lohman.

Away All Boats!!!

Please feel free to read through the stories and poems submitted, and comment if you so chose. Each piece has it’s own comment section, and they are open to everyone. Comments will display in a pop up window, so be sure to disable your popup blocker if you have one.

Click here to see all entries displayed at the same time.

Is Whispering Nothing? - Mary H. Warren

Mary Warren is new to our crew, but she earns her creds with this one:

A Time I Had Magic
Mary H Warren

I saved a life once.
On a Nebraska Reservation
a baby boy was born
blue, limp, silent.

The doctor, a stranger
to these people said:
"Leave him,
he will die."

His mother, young,
refused to hold him,
said: "Take him away,
he has eleven fingers."

I was his nurse.
I focused on him,
massaged his feet,
stroked his still chest.

Life loitered,
crept in slowly.
He breathed,
he moved,
turned pink.

Connected to life,
I fed it to him
like milk.
Whispered: "Welcome, little boy."

It was that kind of magic.

Is Whispering Nothing? - Rusty Harden

Crewperson Rusty illustrates her own story with her own art. ARRRR. It's illuminatin', it is.

Coffee Break drawing by Rusty Harden

An Opened Secret

The aroma of the dark brew led me to the warm kitchen. It’s kind of a shame to take that first sip as it often breaks the spell. Speaking of spells, I wonder what came over me last night that I would share my secret with the likes of Petra. She’s only worked with us for a couple of months. I know she promised to never repeat it but if I can’t keep my own secret then why would I believe she could. What if she tells the others at the office? No, she doesn’t seem like the type....

Its nearly break time, so far so good. No ones seems to be any different towards...did Casey just give me a odd look as she came out of Petra’s office? Why was she in there anyway? Oh come on, don’t be silly, there could be any number of reasons for Casey to be in that office. I’ll just ask her if she wants to have lunch together and then I’ll see that all is fine....

Casey loves the Greek restaurant and I don’t remember her ever turning down a lunch invitation to go there. I’ve had to come here alone just so that she and Petra wouldn’t know that I suspect they’ve talked about me. Why did I tell Petra? Okay, I’ll just go back to the office and act like nothing is wrong. Maybe nothing is wrong and I am imagining things....

Somebody has moved things around on my desk. What were they looking for, evidence? Like there would be something to find here. They must be kidding. Norma and Val are watching me. I bet while I was at lunch alone, Casey took that opportunity to tell everybody. Casey would. She would think it was her obligation to inform the others so they’d be able to “watch their backs” . She’s the Great Office Guardian!

I’ve tried so hard to get a fresh start, to move on, to leave the past in the past. Is that too much to ask? I’ve been leading a good life, not hurting anybody. Doesn’t a girl deserve a chance? Why couldn’t Casey just understand that and LEAVE ME ALONE. Oh great, now Casey is talking to my supervisor. I know she’s telling her, she’s always wanted my job. That’s why she can’t leave me alone, SHE WANTS MY JOB. Well, she won’t get it. I will stop her before I let her ruin me. Oh, I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

Rusty Harden
A Brush With Rusty

Is Whispering Nothing? - Zorlone

Zorlone spins a tale in verse of one sailor's desperation:

A Lost Sailor

The smell of breeze from the seven sad seas,

delivered the weight of his intentions.

Oscillating canvass of mysteries,

that defined a man's dense misdirections.

A wave of murmured gossip in the air,

brought by temptresses of unnamed islands.

This sailor's heart, burdened with despair,

from the lure of their delicate garlands.

One ship set sail, this storm cast devotion,

like Odysseus in plight without fear.

A journey called a suicide mission,

with calls that fell numb on beguiled deaf ears.

When the calm finally set its true face,

on a lone man in a deserted shore.

Hearing nil whispers of a transfixed gaze,

he traded his ship, men, and faith for lore.


Is Whispering Nothing? - Lou Lohman

The Captain tells a story full of whispered conversation:

The Visitor
Louis Charles Lohman

"How much these places have changed," Ellen thought to herself as she walked down the hall. "When I was a little girl, when his Granny died, these were linoleum floors, all bright and shiny and the whole place was full of echoes and smells. Oh yes, smells. Especially that slightly sick smell under the overpowering antiseptics. Full of smells. And white uniforms. Yes, things have changed."

The 'Memory Care' unit was new, and smelled like it. The walls were clean and unmarked, the floors all carpeted with indoor-outdoor of good quality. Each 'Resident' was housed in a semi-private room, like a duplex, really, with a shared bathroom in the middle, and in each room were things that each Resident owned - pictures on the walls, furnishings from home or newly purchased for the stay at the facility, their own bed, and clothing in the closet. All that was missing were the people that fleshed out their lives and gave them meaning. The Residents were alone in the occupation of their rooms. Their children or spouses or other relations were now 'Visitors'. Which most people seemed to think was all they really needed. Visitors. And something to do.

Ellen stopped at the door to his room, which was open, as it always was during the day. He sat in his wheelchair, looking out the window into the little courtyard beyond. He seemed so small, now. He'd had a stroke and was partially paralyzed, and his short term memory had gone to hell. He'd lost so much weight and his skin was so translucent, he didn't seem at all like the robust man she'd known all her life. Her father had shrunk, and it was hard to see 'him' in that frail figure, with the rheumy blue eyes and wispy white hair, sitting in that wheelchair.

There was a young woman in the room, just finishing making his bed.

"He's having a bad day, today", whispered the CNA. "He's in a bad mood. He gets that way when he realizes where he is - or at least, that he's not at home. He never remembers just where he is - or what this place is - he just knows he's not home."

"I know", she whispered back. "It's been like that ever since we brought him here. But thanks. I'm Ellen, by the way. Jurgen is my Dad."

"I'm Doreen. I'm his CNA for today. I guess you know I'm new here - I've only been with your Dad for a few days, but he's so sweet. Most of the time."

"You two stop that whispering. I'm right here you know. If you're gonna talk about me, do it so's I can hear ya."

Doreen walked over to his chair and grabbed a folded blanket from the end of his bed on the way.

"Your daughter is here to see you, Jurgen", she said loudly. "Do you want to stay here in your room, or do you want to go down to the sun room?" Again, loudly.

"Why would I want to go to the sun room? There's no sun. It's just cold and white out there, and I'll be cold and white soon enough."

"Now, now, we don't want to hear that kind of talk in here. I'll just tuck this blanket over your lap so you don't get a chill and I'll leave you two alone. If you need me, you just press your button. Okay?" All of this was, again, said loudly. As if talking to a child, or someone who didn't understand English.

Jurgen waved his good left hand in a dismissive gesture. It said "leave me alone" in a language anyone could have understood.

"I'll be right down the hall", Doreen whispered, as she left the room.

"Thanks", whispered Ellen. She stepped into the room and sat down in the one small chair that was in the room, besides the wheelchair.

Her Dad had vascular dementia. His stroke had affected his short term memory and combined with his paralysis, made it impossible for him to live on his own. At least it wasn't Alzheimer's. Still, his memory was never going to get better and, over time, was only going to get worse. But at least he remembered who he was, and who she was, and he knew what had happened to him. He knew he'd had a stroke. He just didn't know - or refused to acknowledge - just what it had done to him.

"How are you, Daddy? I worry about you."

"I'm fine, I'm fine. My arm doesn't work yet, and the doctor keeps changing my medicine, but I'll be a lot better when I get out of here. Listen, when I go home I'm going to want to plant some fresh flowers in the big bed at the back of the yard. Pick up some seed, will ya? And make sure you spread some compost back there. You kids ... you're all so damn lazy and I ain't gettin' any younger, ya know? I'm gonna need some help if I'm gonna keep that place up like it's supposed to be."

"Now, Daddy, you know the house was sold. You're not going to go back to the house anymore. You're living here, now. This is your home."

"If this is my home, how come you never come to see me. Nobody ever comes to see me. And I want to go to church and nobody takes me. There's a chaplain here, but he's non-denominational, I think."

"I'll see if I can get someone to take you to church on Sunday."

"I gotta go to Confession."

"What? You got sins to confess? What are you doing in here, anyway?"

"I smoke dope and go out with loose women."

"Yes, of course you do."

Doreen walked back into the room.

She leaned over and whispered in Ellen's ear. "It's his lunchtime, Ellen. Do you want to take him down to the dining area? He still needs to be fed, you know?"

"Stop all that whispering!! I think that's rude."

"Oh, Jurgen, we're just talking about you. You know that." Loudly, as always. "It's time for lunch and we're just deciding who gets to go down there with you, that's all."

"You go on, Ellen. I still can't feed myself right. This girl here does a good job."

"Okay, Dad. I'll let her take you. I'll see you later in the week, okay?"

Ellen bent down to kiss her Dad and give him a hug.

He whispered, "Besides, sometimes I get to look down the front of her blouse."

Doreen said, chidingly, "Okay, what are you two whispering about? Huh?"

"Nothing!", said Ellen. "Nothing at all. Bye Dad."

She straightened up, a smile on her face. She laid a hand on Doreen's shoulder as she walked past her and out into the hall.

She heard from the room behind her, as she moved away from the door, "Do you have to go to the bathroom before we go?" Loudly.

"Why, where're we goin'?"

"Oh, you know ... you're just playing with me, aren't you?"

"He would if he could", Ellen thought to herself.

As she walked down the hall, all the old memories, all the comparisons, vanished. All she saw was things as they were.

And they were fine. Just fine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Videos Amidships!!!

Now hear this!!

Now hear this!!

All Hands Listen Up!!!

There's a set of videos amidships by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

A while ago we had the chance to view the video produced for her book,"Love in the Present Tense". That video was professionally produced.

The videos we'll see now were actually completely done by Catherine Hyde. They are really well done and serve as excellent examples of the kind of work that can be done without the guidance of professional videographers. The books involved are: "The year of My Miraculous Reappearance", "Chasing Windmills", "The Day I Killed James" and "Becoming Chloe".

Right then. Click here to go to the video lounge.

Now - we have a challenge we'll be alongside in a week, so NO LOLLIGAGGING!! All Hands review those videos and lay to - we want to be shipshape by the time we pull alongside "Is Whispering Nothing?"

Fair winds, everyone.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interview - Catherine Ryan Hyde

Avast Ye Lubbers!! We'd captured this wench and tied her to the mast - at least long enough to poke and prod a few answers from her to questions yer Captain had been bold enough to ask her.

She answered those question well and true - so we had to let her go and if you look closely, abaft of leeward, you'll see her well away and under sail with a fair breeze at her back.

Over the next few weeks we may even be provided with access to her 'Video Excerpts' from recent works. All right, let me hear ye all say 'Oooooooo'.

Right then.

You'll find the questions and answers below. As soon as yer done, then, heave to and get the sails up - we've a Challenge up and comin'.

Transcript of the Interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde, authoress of 14 published books (including "Pay It Forward") and numerous short stories. She is also the winner of several prestigious awards for her short stories which have been published in many literary journals.

Question 1 - I've noticed your support for 'First Book' and 'Hopenhagen'. What are your favorite Charities and Causes?

I support First Book because I believe in literacy, and because I was asked to. Often someone will come to me with a small, reasonable request for a good charity, and if I have the time to help, I'll try.

Environmental issues are very high on my list. I'm a member of my local 350 group (for more info, and I'm working on several small, local-level contributions to the environment.

I'm also a big supporter of marriage equality. Actually, all kinds of equality. Say what you will about America, pro or con (and a genuine patriot questions, I truly believe) but "freedom and justice for all" is a good aim, yet one which we have never fully achieved.

And, by the way, I also support several animal-related charities, such as dog rescue groups. After all, the phrase is not "freedom and justice for all humans."

Then of course there's the Pay It Forward Foundation ( ).

Question 2 - Although your most popular book, to date, is "Pay It Forward" (Or at least, it has achieved the greatest name recognition), you have published several novels since and a number of books and short stories precede it. When did you start writing, and what, if anything, do you see as the thing that got you started?

Yes, Pay It Forward was number 3 in a string of published books that now stands at 14, if you count forthcoming works. I'm always trying to move the other titles out from under its shadow, but it's a big shadow.

I wrote a blog about what got me started writing. Is that okay, to refer to an already-written blog? It's at: "Reprint" of I Owe It All To Lenny.

Question 3 - When you write fiction, do you outline and write to that outline, or do you 'go with the flow'?

Somewhere in between. I don't outline, because I feel it nails the work down too tightly. But I don't just head off blithely hoping to be pleasantly surprised by where I end up. I liken it to a multi-day car trip. It helps a lot to know where you're going and how you plan to get there. Maps are good, and it pays to know your route numbers. But if you make a schedule, like: "Day 1, drive until noon, eat at roadside diner, drive until 5:00, stop at motel and sleep until 6:00 a.m.," you're going to blow right by the Carlsbad Caverns, because they weren't on your schedule.

Question 4 - I understand the reticence when it comes to 1st person narratives where YOU are the subject, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of information available about your formative years and early life. Is there anything you might care to share?

They were a bit of a mess, actually. Those who follow the link to the "Lenny" essay will find a small segment that sets the tone fairly well.

I would like to thank Catherine Ryan Hyde for taking the time to answer these questions. Her newest (and forthcoming) book is called "Jumpstart The World" and is tentatively scheduled for release in the Fall of 2010. Like any successful author, she has a full and busy schedule, and I feel it's a honor that she has taken the time to be with us, here, on "The Inferno".

To visit Catherine's blog- Click here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Challenge Dead Ahead





Yes, 'The Inferno' is still the only pirate ship with a public address system.

The lookout in the crows nest has spied a new challenge and she lies dead ahead. It's called "Is Whispering Nothing?" and we're due to engage her on December 17th at 1800 hours CST. (For all you non-pirates - or new pirates - or those who just don't get the lingo - that's 6PM, Central Standard Time). And, as your Captain, and still bein' in a Holiday mood and all, ARRRRGH, we'll not be throwin' anyone overboard that doesn't make the deadline - we might (just MIGHT, mind you) let ye slide all the way 'til midnight.

So draw your swords, gird your loins (?) and get ready to do battle.
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