Monday, April 02, 2012

New Beginning 936

"We are gathered here today to view the last will and testament Pieter Uitgeverij, beloved captain of the Nishimi Maru." Clint Slee intoned the words like a demented Colin Clive proeclaiming his newly created homunculus, his imitation of life lived. Slee waved his hands and made imaginary flashes and noises of lightning and thunder.

Their rented helicopter lifted off the dock at the Port of Prince Rupert and Schuyler Klock buzz-killed Slee's happy-who-hah idiocy.

"If that's the way you behaved in the law firm, no wonder you got fired. Just cut through the horseshit and tell me, how big an estate did Uncle Pieter leave me?" Schuyler said. Slee's smile plunged faster than a ball of blue snow from the back end of an Airbus at 30,000 feet.

"Bitch! Having been through his legal papers, I can definitively tell you that your Uncle's vast estate consists of the Nishimi Maru and that ugly-assed khaki green duffle bag he always carried. It's not my fault your Uncle tried to ride out the Tsunami," Slee said as he folded his arms over his chest and turned away from Schuyler. They flew over Prince Rupert Airport and the Haida Gwaii archipelago towards the Pacific Ocean.

* * *

Meanwhile, Duffy sat expectantly by the door bulging, his zipper frowning like a Pagliaccian clown watching Les Miserables. Full of all the things needed for an island holiday, he had waited for his owner, the ever-adventurous Pieter, to return and take him to the sun.

"Fucking cock-balls!" Duffy exclaimed, for he had started his career in the army and never lost its fruity vernacular.

The cock-balls separated and shrugged. "We prefer to call it making love," said one.

"This story isn't really going anywhere, is it?" the other suggested.

And on that, they could all agree.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Suddenly, a poorly drawn cartoon helicopter flew up beside Slee and Schyler's helicopter.

"Analogy Police!" boomed a voice from a word ballon above the cartoon helicoper. "Pull over, please."

"By whose authority?" demanded Slee.

"Dilbert," replied the word in the word ballon above the cartoon helicopter.

"Dilbert! From the comic strip? What's that got to do with anything?"

"You've made a bad analogy, sir. I quote: 'Slee's smile plunged faster than a ball of blue snow from the back of an Airbus at 30,000 feet.'"

Schyler tapped Slee on the shoulder. Said, "Yeah, that was pretty bad. And, it does seem I remember a 'Dilbert' comic strip where the Pointy Haired Boss got arrested for bad analogies."

"You can't arrest me," Slee screamed, incensed. "You're not real!"

"Pardon, sir, but we're at least as real as you. Pull over, please."


Evil Editor said...

Sentence 1 is missing "of." Sentence 2 has "proclaimed" spelled wrong. Sentence 4 is hard to read as a sentence. A comma after "Rupert" would help. Also, Hoo-Hah is misspelled.

If you combine paragraphs 2 and 3 you won't need "Schuyler said" because you already said it was Schuyler buzz-killing whatever.

As a scientist, you should know that a blue snowball doesn't plunge any faster than a baseball or an anvil. It might plunge faster than a coyote due to air resistance, but then, there's not much air at 30,000 feet.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...


Listen, I'm sick, my neighbor is booming away on his stereo, and I'm trying to decipher this.

Meaning I don't have a whole lot of mental energy to devote to reading. (Most readers don't; if it's not the sick and the neighbor it's always something.) Writer, you gotta help us out here.

A Dutch guy is captain of a ship with a Japanese name-- a spaceship? I don't know at this point. For some reason the will's being read like a funeral service. Why? Who's Colin Clive? Homonculus-- okay, maybe it's fantasy, not sf. Lightning? Thunder? What?


Dave Fragments said...

Things that vanish like ghost ships in a night fog:
i) Colin Clive (the only English name in sight)...
ii) that ugly-assed khaki green duffle bag...
iii) Cheetos because I was hungry
iv) Dilbert, anvils and cockballs...

And let me say this:
A "Pagliaccian clown" is redundant. I Pagliacci in English became Punch and Judy. In Italy they were Pagliacco, Columbina and Arlecchino (Harlequin), Pantalone of the Commedia Del'arte. Here is a Commedia Del'Arte version of Taming of the Shrew:

However, there aren't any cuckolds in this story. Nor are there zombies and homonculi.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal on vocabulary: what you really need is something to say. Once you've got that, say it with clarity. If you enlarge an empty paragraph with fancy-pants words, it still says nothing.

This seems like author's homework. Like you don't know what your story's about yet, so your characters are dialoguing about the as-yet-uncertain plot & backstory etc., using a lot of fancy-pants words, imagery, & metaphors, etc. We think that when you have a clear idea what the story's about and how it begins, you'll dispense with the distracting literary technique and get straight to the story.

PLaF said...

Pieter Uitgeverij – Ok, I struggled through it with a reasonable pronunciation
Nishimi Maru – is this Star Trek?
Clint Slee – I wish I hadn’t
Colin Clive – I latch on to this tiny bit of familiarity
Schuyler Klock – Skooler, Skyler, Shooler…Klock? Now I’m really losing patience.
Haida Gwaii archipelago – my tongue is tired and I have a headache.
As for the story:
How does one make imaginary flashes and noises?
Klock buzz-killed Slee’s happy-who-hah idiocy – this is an awkward way of telling something that should be shown.
A ball of blue snow – the color makes a difference?
If you’re trying for a blend of funny and absurd storytelling (i.e. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), you’re a bit off target here. However, after stumbling through the opening the third time, I did see an element of the chaos experienced by Arthur and Ford with the uncle, the storm, and the ship:
Uncle Pieter met his demise while riding out a tsunami in the Nishimi’s that for an opening?

Dave Fragments said...

Good heavens, AlaskaRavenclaw, a Dutch captain of a Japanese-based freighter sailing the Pacific? It might even be crewed by Indonesians and registered in Liberia for all we know with the maritime laws as crazy as they are today...

And for those who are deprived of nautical news, a 120 foot Japanese fishing boat was observed in the Canadian Pacific wrecked and abandoned in the events of last years Earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disaster.

And I can change the name "Nishimi Maru" to something else. How about naming the ship Der Fliegende Holländer ? Would that be obvious enough for your music-tortured brain?

I knew something wasn't working about this opening but these were the words that kick-started a story and ended a case of month long writer's block. So the bad analogies are gone and the opening is more focused on the ghostly theme.

It seems Captain Pieter Uitgeverij swore more than an oath to sail forever if he survived the storm. He cursed the gods of the sea and called them impotent.

And so the legend is reborn. The lore of the sea preserved.

Dave Fragments said...


Those are all real names for people. Mostly Dutch names, except for Clint. The port of Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii archipelago are on the west coast of Canada.

Colin Clive played Dr Frankenstein to Karloff's monster in the original movie.

"Blue snow" or "blue ice" is the name of what falls out of an airplane when someone mis-flushes the watercloset at 30,000 feet.

It's not a parody opening so I've chopped it up even more than before. I got rid of Colin. Clint is afraid of flying and his behavior is now pedestrian white knuckles instead of colorful nervous babbling.

"Uncle Pieter met his demise while riding out a tsunami in the Nishimi Maru" in my opinion is too bland.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

And you hope I feel better. But really, you're getting a fairly unanimous reaction here.

PLaF said...

Hi Dave,
Real names for real people.
That's fine, but when you give them to me all at once I feel like I've been hit in the eyeballs with a hammer.
Then my survival instinct kicks in and I stop reading.
The opening was very chaotic but I did not get the sense of colorful nervous babbling. It came across as fast-talking info dump. And please remember I read it three times just trying to make sense of it.
I'm glad you've kicked the case of writer's block. Will you be submitting the updated version?

Laurie said...

Yeah, this opening is all over the place. I was expecting this to be at a funeral or in a lawyer's office based on the opening. But no, next paragraph, we're in a helicopter. With tsunami references. And yeah, the analogies were hard for me to follow - I didn't get any of the references.

Totally understand about it getting you out of a block, and I hope you've continued on with it, because the voice sounds fun. But I need to get more settled into the world at the beginning.

And yes, "Maru" did make me think Star Trek, and even though it is a perfectly legitimate name, it knocked me out out of the narrative when I was already having difficulty following things. A Japanese name does connect with the tsunami, assuming that's the tsunami you're referencing. But the ship's name might be used to say something about the former owner, too.

Dave Fragments said...

Will you be submitting the updated version?

Possibly. I'm in a linear edit with these change. Once I start changing things from the opening of the story, I keep moving down to the end of the story with the changes. Schuyler's turning a little meaner and nastier and Clint suddenly has lots of fears and anxieties. I might not finish today.

khazar-khum said...

If this is trying for a sense of the absurd, it fails spectacularly. In fact, it reads much like the novels the immortal Snoopy used to write, where each sentence was a non-sequiter to the other. It's just a string of names that are apparently related to someone or something who wasn't on a helicopter because he was surfing a tsunami in Canada. I think.

Rashad Pharaon said...

Is this an April Fool's prank story? I'm not falling for it lol.

batgirl said...

Idle curiosity here - whose pov are we in?

Anonymous said...

What's really "funny" is Dave probably has a better record of actually getting stuff published than a lot of the other commenters here...

Paul Penna said...

The "Maru" controversy must be a generational thing. Though familiar with Star Trek from watching many of them in original broadcast and thereafter, I didn't make that association first. Rather, I thought "Ah, another Japanese ship with "Maru," just like all those zillions of others I've heard of. I guess they don't do that any more. Same-same with Colin Clive.

Paul Penna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chicory said...

I'm sorry, but I couldn't understand this at all. Is the homunculus a robot? Are Colin Clive and his robot characters, or just an example? If they're just an example I'd cut the sentence right after the word `intoned' and pick up with the next paragraph about the helicopter. I think that would help clarify the opening a lot.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm just over half through the revisions as they propagate down the story. As the middle and late dialog changes, the tone of the opening statements changes. This is the way I write.

I said above that this wasn't a parody or comedy. It's horror.

Also, I got tired of writing stories about Bill, Joe, Jim, Bob, Willy, Justin, Tiffany, Muffy, Mary, Jane, Rick, and all the usual names. This story got Dutch names because of the Legend of the ghost ship.

The POV will be Clint's POV but this will be third person, not first.

Dave Fragments said...

A homunculus is what Dr Frankenstein created and it would have been a good image if this was a zombie story. But I sent it to EE last Friday before I was finished with the story. It is a ghost story. There is a ship of legend and lore that rises from the sea because it is cursed to sail forever.

And before you ask - YES - that picture of the Japanese fishing ship drifting into Canadian and Alaskan waters is the image that prompted this story. It's haunting and sad.

I might still write a story about a ship floating at sea manned by zombies and dealing death to all who dare to step on deck but not today. maybe in a month. It's a current idea.

Back to the story for me...

Evil Editor said...

Most people have heard the term Maru not from Star Trek, but from this:

Anonymous said...

Or, most people have heard the term Maru not from Star Trek, but from this:

Dave Fragments said...

That youtube woke half my household up at 1:00 am... They screamed at me in terror, fear and mostly loathing. pout, pout..

I remember that "daidanna-dankenka-Maru" query. It was one of your best classic queries. GTP #2 was Shakespearean in scope and Cookie Monster in execution. Two of my literary favorites.

I would suggest that anyone wondering of the origins of "maru" go to Wikipedia and enter "Japanese ship-naming conventions"

I might be ready to post the revision tomorrow.

BuffySquirrel said...

The question isn't who's published more than whom, although how anyone can know the publication histories of so many anonymice is beyond me anyway.

The question posed right from the inauguration of the New Beginnings is, would you read on? Pretty obvious from many of the responses here that people commenting wouldn't. You do with that information what you will.

Dave Fragments said...

And this "new beginning" did what it was supposed to do - kick start a revision for me.

I'm still worried about the names and I think there is a way to use the first and last names to advance the story rather than land like a lump in the opening but that's going to wait for another day because I had a bad night and someone is coming this morning to replace a light fixture in my house. Life intrudes.

Here is the revision so far:

"We are gathered here today to view the estate of Pieter Uitgeverij, beloved captain of the Nishimi Maru." Clint Slee said. He grimaced and white knuckled anything sturdy as the rented helicopter lifted off from the Port of Prince Rupert. His fear of flying delighted Schuyler Klock, his employer and soon to be captain. It was time for more verbal abuse.

"Oh I just love legalese dripping from your scummy lips my darling prince of precedents. Tell me, how big an estate did Uncle Pieter leave me?" Schuyler Klock's words buzz-killed Clint's fears.

"Having been through his legal papers, I can definitively tell you that your Uncle's estate consists of the Nishimi Maru and his duffel," Clint said as he alternated hugging the bulkheads and the crate. The helicopter made good time crossing the nearly one hundred nautical miles of ocean separating the Haida Gwaii archipelago from the abandoned and derelict Nishimi Maru. The pilot's voice crackled over the intercom.

"I've never seen an abandoned freighter before. It looks desolate," the pilot said, circling the Nishimi Maru. Orange rust streaked the ship. Windows and portholes were blown. Hatches flapped. Seaweed clung to the spars and antennas. A cargo container protruded from the middle of the helipad. Clint stared at the wreckage, impressed that the freighter was still afloat after a year.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Didn't mean to touch a raw nerve there...

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Dave, it doesn't matter if the names are English, Dutch, or Iñupiaq. What matters it there are far too many of them for an opening. At this point we need to know the first (or, if you're going machoprose, the last, but only the last) names of the two people in the helicopter. Anything else-- Uncle Pieter, the name of the ship, whatev-- should be allowed to come in naturally in its own time.

Anonymous said...

I knew the ship, noted it on my blog days before Dave's opening appeared. Suggested someone may want to pick it up before it broke up on the coast.

I'm fine with the names, enjoyed them. Refreshing and quirky. I want to know what is in the duffle bag. I'd read on. Zesty opening with energy. Go man go!

BuffySquirrel said...

Raw nerves are preferable to cooked ones. Ask anyone who's ever been hit by a lightning bolt.

Laurie said...

This is better, but it's still a lot of names. Maybe just stick with the main guys at first. Uncle Pieter might be okay, I'm not sure.

Instead of telling us the ship's name, perhaps just say the uncle left him a freighter in less than perfect condition? That gives me a picture in my head right off. We can learn the actual name when we see the ship close up, which will also connect it with the real image.

The story itself sounds quite promising. ^_^

Dave Fragments said...

Yeah, all those names stand out to me, too.

Anonymous said...

Way over-written. This is a joke, isn't it?

Please tell me this is a joke.


Anonymous said...

Way over-written. This is a joke, isn't it?

Please tell me this is a joke.


Do you feel smarter for having written that?

Well done. You've helped a lot.

BuffySquirrel said...

Somehow a cage war between two anonymice lacks something.

Chicory said...

The revision made a lot more sense to me. I like the way you used Slee's fear of flying to move the descriptions forward. I am also curious about what's in the duffel.

Anonymous said...

Cheese. It lacks cheese.

BuffySquirrel said...

Thanks Anon! I might've been awake all night wondering what was lacking XD.

Dave Fragments said...

I changed the duffel comment because there's only dirty clothing of a very personal nature in the duffel. If I don't do that, their search for whatever "riches" are found in the duffel distracts from the story.

In my effort to unload the profusion of names, I removed "Haida Gwaii" and made the helicopter pilot female and gave her a small part of being against merely leaving Schuyler and Clint alone on the derelict ship.

That helped expose Schuyler's faults and Clint's rather timid and un-shark-like lawyer skills. To say it another way, helped delineate their characters.

Now let me say this about
"Way over-written. This is a joke, isn't it?"

I published lots of scientific papers in my career as a chemical engineer. Practice was getting four internal and three external reviews and sometimes the papers got reviews like that. When it is delivered in front of the boss to your face, it hurts your feelings but then, it still is a bad review. That's why you get paid the big bucks, to figure out what the other guy is saying about your work.

The pettiness of that comment doesn't bother me anymore. The real trick is figuring out if the comment was truly serious or merely destructive.

First, the original opening was overwritten.
Second, I wanted it to become better.
Third, so what if the reviewer is lazy. That's not a reason for the author to be lazy or careless.
The consequence is that the comment does have meaning. IT has very little use in that other comments pointed out the faults of the opening where it doesn't but the comment didn't make my ears steam and Vesuvius blow up.
You take your lumps in a review and go make things better.

All in all, I"d rather have Chicory's comment than Anonymous's comment but both serve a purpose and both get listened to. I wouldn't dare say to the editor of a technical journal that a review was silly and useless. That would get a rejection almost automatically. I learned to take those ugly and terrible reviews, figure out what they really meant and use it to improve. That's work.

Rashad Pharaon said...

Obviously this is an early draft and Dave is looking for critical feedback. At first I thought it was a prank, but I guess now that you explain it is an early draft, I get it.

There are a lot of helpful comments here, good luck on the revisions and thank you for sharing Dave. I notice you share a lot of your work and take criticism VERY well. Hats off to you.

The Author said...

I thought of Star Trek also. The kobayashi maru is the no-win scenario test that Kirk is the only one to have beaten.

Since I don't speak Japanese, that was the only connection I had with the word maru.

I had no idea it was referring to a ship here. I was thinking a tribe of people, or a species on another planet.

in fact, I didn't even think that this was still present day earth until I hit 'pacific ocean'.

I suppose that's what I get for only getting third place in my middle school geography bee.