Tag Archives: collaboration

The Melancholy Robot and Art

The robot walked through the art museum trying to understand the why behind art. Lots of small dots created a pond scene. A bronze statue of a ballerina. A can of soup. It could not fathom why humans created it. They should focus on needs: food, drink, clean air and water. As it walked, it failed to notice the child sitting on the floor finger painting as his mother copied a nearby Van Gogh. The kid looked up at it and said, “Hey!” forcing the mechanical man to look down at the marble flooring. It had stepped in the kid’s red paint and tracked its footprint onto a clean sheet of paper.
“Sorry,” it said to the child. As it tried to leave, the boy tapped the robot’s shoulder and handed over the sheet with the red footprint.
“You made it. You should keep it,” the kid said.

Today’s artwork is created by the talented Richard Holt. Click on the image for his blog.

Be sure to follow the rest of The Melancholy Robot story from last week. It continues this week as well.

Upcoming Feature!

I’m introducing my upcoming series of flash fiction pieces titled The Melancholy Robot for a reason. I’ve written a bunch of very short stories about a sad robot and asked for volunteers in the artistic community, mostly in the Philadelphia area, but also with a little help from some friends from afar. So far I’ve gotten a good response from people, so I’m excited to tell you that coming on Monday will be the first installment of

If you are an artist who would like to get in on this, please comment here with your email and I will gladly get back to you. Otherwise, I hope everyone enjoys the new short series. Each artist volunteer is given a vss (very short story) about the robot and is given creative freedom to draw, paint, illustrate, or whatever a scene or variety of scenes from the vss. It’s been REALLY fun so far, seeing what people come up with. So obviously, each robot will look different and they could be all kinds of different mediums, but hey, that’s part of what makes it fun!

Stay tuned, readers! Should be a blast. First story is coming on Monday.

-Den

The Best Burger

Photograph by Gina Esguerra. Click the photograph for her amazing blog.

He opened the car door as if to get out when she stopped him,

“We drove an extra hour for this?”

“Trust me…best burger and fries I have ever had.”

“Where are we, anyway?” she said as she gathered her giant sunglasses and wallet and placed them into her Coach purse.

“Rosie’s Den. Arizona. Look, it’s on the steps!”

“Grand,” she said as she got out of the car. “Wait, where are my sunglasses?”

“You just put them in your bag. Look at these windows! Can you believe this?”

“You can’t even see inside there’s so much shit hanging in them.”

“Hmm, I was actually going to say there’s less stuff than I remember.”

She walked to the door and waited for him to catch up and open the door for her.

“Since when do you wait for me to hold the door?”

“It’s filthy…I didn’t want to touch it.”

He placed his hand on the small of her back as she passed him, then followed her inside.

The fluorescent lights by the door flickered as they entered, buzzed a bit and she turned in an attempt to leave, but he stopped her. “Trust me,” he said to her as an old woman with an obvious mustache in a vintage waitress outfit which was too small for her age approached them, her short skirt revealing antique, wrinkly legs with more varicose veins than either had ever seen.

“Hi! Two, please,” he told her in a cheery voice as his girlfriend shuddered. She clutched her purse tight against her chest as they were led to a booth right next to a bright Arizona Lottery sign in the window.

“Ugh, these windows are filthy! Don’t they ever wash them?”

“How could they with all that stuff on them?” he asked.

She shrugged as the waitress brought them menus. “I’m Flo,” she said.

“Really?” he asked.

“Yes, really,” she said with a bitter tone. “Do you want to hear the specials? Because I’m not wasting my breath if you already know what you want.” She took a cigarette out and lit it.

“Um…you know that’s illegal these days, right?” she asked the waitress.

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”

“We already know what we want,” he said, picking up both menus and handing them back to Flo. “We’ll each have a burger and fries with a chocolate milkshake.”

Flo took both menus from his hand and practically stomped off as if this weren’t part of her job.

“There are things hanging from the ceiling back there covered in flies. This table looks as if it hasn’t been washed in ages. And did you see the cook back there?” She nodded toward the kitchen, which they could see through an order counter. Flo brought a burly balding man their order. He wore a filthy wifebeater covered in what could be years of spills, his hairy chest sticking out of it. “He is disgusting.”

“Just you wait. This burger is the best thing you’ve ever eaten. I guarantee it.”

A loud sizzling noise emitted from the kitchen as he said that as if to support his point.

She started rooting through her purse for something and started pulling out objects as she searched. Hair brush. Makeup. Birth control pills. Wallet. Finally she found what she was looking for, a wet-nap.

“There’s a bathroom.”

“I am not finding out what the bathrooms look like here. I’d rather use a port-a-potty.”

“You won’t use those when we go to football games.”

“Exactly.”

He started to look around at the many items hanging in the old diner. Random papers hung next to the register on the window; a few were bad checks while others seemed to be orders from companies they were awaiting. The open sign flickered a bit as Flo was suddenly next to them with their meals, which she slammed down in front of them a little too hard, throwing a few fries off each plate.

“Anything else?”

“No, I think we’re good,” he said with a huge smile.

He waited.

“What?”

“I want to see you try this.”

She sighed and picked up the burger. A quick turn showed the cheese sliding down the edges, a thick burger and a roll that had seen better days. As she sunk her teeth into it a pickle started to escape from the other side, but that didn’t matter. Her eyes widened as she savored the bite. She chewed with precision and finally swallowed the bite.

“Well?”

She smiled. “I hate when you’re right.” She sunk her teeth into another chunk of the burger as he picked his up.

“See? Told you.”

“Oh my God, it is SO good.”

He took a bite and did the same, except he frowned at the burger and looked at it as he chewed.

“What is it, hun?”

He put it down.

“Hmm. It’s not as good as I remembered.”

 

Lunch in the Park

Photographs (besides the typewriter and note) by the amazing and talented Sandra Markovic, whose work can be seen here.

Lunch in the park was Trevor’s daily ritual. He needed the break from his job at the library, even though it was fairly peaceful. He was a lover of the outdoors and it called to him, so every day he stopped at the café, ordered the same meal (mozzarella and tomato Panini, chips and an unsweetened iced tea) and ventured to the park.

It wasn’t until about a week ago that he first saw her. As he watched her pass, he couldn’t believe that the world failed to stop and take notice of her beauty. Nobody seemed to notice this perfect being as she passed; children continued to play, an old man kept feeding the pigeons, cars passed by as if nothing were happening, and only he seemed to notice this absolutely remarkable girl, a miracle, really, making her way past him through the park. She was wearing a flowing vintage yellow dress, and she carried a heavy looking suitcase that she carefully placed on the grass. The lid came off to expose a typewriter, of all things. Trevor hadn’t seen one since, well he hadn’t ever seen one in real life. He was drawn to her immediately. She sat and looked at it, marveling at its structure, but didn’t type a word.  She played with her long brown hair, feigned pushing a key or two, but no actual typing commenced.

It was another day or two before she showed up again, this time in jeans and a vintage Rolling Stones t-shirt, again with the typewriter. She placed it in the grass, opened it, and this time loaded it with paper and began to type. She was slow at first, as if she were just learning how to use it. Her long blonde hair glimmered in the bright sun, and he spent his whole lunch break looking at her and eating his meal.

Today was the third time she showed up, and Trevor’s heart sped up a bit, his pulse quickened as he saw her approaching yet again. Today, a plaid dress was her outfit of choice, and simple black flip flops. Her figure was perfectly visible in the tight dress, and he gasped a bit at the sight of her beauty. Again, she sat in the grass, same spot, and began her slow, methodic typing. She put in a piece of green paper, browning at the edges from age, and punched key after key as she worked hard on something. Trevor, on a nearby bench, was close enough to hear her make a tiny growl as she grasped the top of the paper and yanked it out of the typewriter, making the fast clicking sound as she pulled. She crumpled it up and started at it again.

After a few tries, all ending in a balled up piece of old green paper, she looked at her watch, closed the typewriter and gathered the balls of paper. As she walked by the trashcan right next to Trevor, so close that he could smell the flowery perfume she wore, she threw the failures into the trashcan, continuing on without so much as a glance towards the receptacle, the bench, or Trevor. If she had, she would have noticed one of the wads hit the rim of the trashcan and bounced onto Trevor’s lap. He waited until she was out of sight, picked it up, and opened it with great care. It said:

Trevor gasped a bit. He knew what he had to do.

The next day, as the mysterious typewriter girl walked towards her usual spot, Trevor was already there, a blanket covering the area where she always sat. She stopped and he sensed her behind him looking at him, so he turned to face her, noticing a fitted striped tee shirt dress with black leggings and a black cardigan.

“Hi. I’m Trevor,” his voice shaking a bit.

“Hello. I’m Victoria. But my friends call me Tor.”

He stood up and put out his hand. She took it and he held it a bit too long as he shook it. She smiled.

“Would you care to join me? I have a picnic lunch.” He smiled his biggest, warmest smile, and she felt a little tingle run up the back of her neck.

“Sure,” as she fumbled with the typewriter and her bag, trying to put both on the ground without making a scene. She sat and he did as well, facing her from across the basket.

“I have paninis,” he said.

“I love those, especially tomato and mozzarella.” His eyes widened, but he tried to play it cool.

“Oh, good. That’s what I brought,” a simple, nervous smile. He passed her a wrapped parcel, which she opened with great care. He did the same, then held out a diet cola and a tea, and she pointed to the cola.

“Thanks, this is so nice of you Trevor. But why?”

He froze for a second or two, then responded. “I come here every day, see you here a lot lately, and thought I would say hi. I love your typewriter,” he said, nodding towards her suitcase.

“Thanks,” she said, blushing a bit. “It was my grandmother’s, and I found it and thought it might inspire me. She always said she’d met my grandfather because of it, but I never really heard the full story. All I know is how it ended.”

He smiled. “Wow, that’s pretty neat. What are you trying to do with it?”

“I’m a writer. Or I want to be. I thought, maybe, that it would inspire a great novel. So far, it’s only created junk that I’ve thrown out.”

“Maybe you should keep trying,” he replied. She smiled.

“With the typewriter?”

“Well, however you can. You’re a great writer. You can do it, I’ll bet.”

She raised an eyebrow, and he realized he slipped up. “Er, I mean, I’m sure you’re a great writer. I mean, I can tell, you know? You seem pretty amazing, from where I’m sitting.”

Her smile returned. “You’re sweet, Trevor.” Hearing her say his name kept made his heart jump, and he reacted a bit. “What?”

He blushed. “Nothing. How’s the sandwich?” She smiled and nodded, her mouth full when he asked.

They continued eating a bit, chatting until the sandwiches were done and his lunch break was almost over. He looked at his watch, and in doing so caused her eyes to widen and grow sad.

“Do you have to go?”

“I’m on my lunch break, so yes, in a few. Why?”

She shifted her weight and smiled, looking down at the blanket.

“Will I see you again?”

“Of course, if you want to,” he said with a huge smile.

She looked up and whispered, “I like you, Trevor.”

He turned and saw that she was looking down at the blanket, so he leaned towards her and rested his weight on one hand. “Hey Tor?”

She looked up, and her eyes looked at him as if he were far, far away and she couldn’t wait to see him again, except that he wasn’t, he was right there, and he was leaning in towards her, bringing his lips towards hers, and as her eyes grew even wider, excited, her upper lip quivered just the tiniest bit in anticipation as he came closer and closer until-

Sunglasses and Rubber Boots

I sat on the park bench reading, and she came up and sat next to me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed her if it were not for the rubber boots shooting into my peripheral view as I looked down at the novel.

They were bright blue, but that wasn’t what attracted my attention. I looked up at the shining sun and had to shield my eyes from it, even with my dark sunglasses on. It was a scorcher, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I looked over at her and smiled, she smiled back, but I couldn’t see her eyes through her dark aviators. She looked to be about twenty, wore a bright white and blue print dress and had nice legs. She had a vintage umbrella propped up against the bench next to her, and a little plaid satchel out of which she pulled a sandwich and an apple.

I tried to focus on my book but could not. Why the rubber boots? It was a perfect day, a bright blue cloudless sky backing up my thoughts as I looked around to see the other people in the park going about their busy lives. Not a single one carried an umbrella or wore boots; as a matter of fact none were prepared for any sort of rain at all.

I wanted to ask her, and was about to when a ringing came from her pocket and she pulled out a cell phone.

“Hello?” she said in a Danish accent, and I decided this was fate, I was not meant to inquire about her footwear. Instead I placed my book back into my messenger bag and went on my way, only to find that five minutes later, a sudden darkened sky opened up and rained down on me and the many other unprepared people on the streets. I pulled into a coffee shop for shelter, and before a minute passed the girl skipped by, dry under her umbrella, her boots protecting her feet from the massive flooding that was taking place, and her sunglasses nowhere to be seen.

Words sunglasses and rubber boots and photograph by Christina  Mølholm of And the Monsters fame.

Here Comes A Caavy, A Mønster!

Tandfe, created by Christina Mølhom

Tandfe, created by Christina Mølhom

The caavy, commonly known and often mistaken as a tooth fairy, lives in the mouths of human beings, finding nourishment from small chunks of tooth (usually slathered in sugar) that they dig out using their small claws, of which they have one on each hand. Caavies are known for violent territoriality and an obsession with sugar.

Tandfe awoke from his slumber and emerged from behind the tonsil, stretching his arms as far as they would go and performing his evening breathing exercises. He knew from the breathing patterns of his host that it was asleep and the growl of Tandfe’s stomach reminded him it was time to eat. He sharpened the single claw on each hand against his pointy teeth and climbed up the soft cave to the mouth of his home.

Tonight would be a feast! Once again Tandfe’s host skipped the evening cleaning ritual of his oral cavity that it’s parental figure was always complaining about (Tandfe often woke up early enough to see his host simply wet his cleaning utensil, called a ‘toothbrush’, under a faucet and then place it on the counter). Tonight there was sugar a-plenty covering the chewing mechanisms that he feasted upon every evening. He smiled, showing off his full set of incisors as he scraped a tiny piece of enamel off a nearby tooth, tasted it and smiled with delight.

He scraped a bit more and sat down to reminisce, as he always did over dinner. He remembered growing up in the piles of crystallized sugar, being hatched and raised by his mama. He was taught to fend for himself and then was whisked off on a stick when the sugar was made into rock candy. Tandfe ended up going from there to this child’s mouth, where he made his home.

He got up and walked over to the nearest tooth and cut another chunk out, noticing that this one was starting to turn a little black around the edges. He knew this meant to leave it alone, or that horrible human they called dentist would come with all of the loud machinery and scraping tools, forcing Tandfe into hiding in that dark smelly spot to the south of the tonsil.

He also noticed another tooth was loose, and knew to dig into that one as much as possible. Humans, unlike caavies, lost some of their teeth as children; it wouldn’t matter how much he ate, so he attacked it. Soon, it would fall out, and he would eat the whole tooth in a night. He always loved those nights, stealing the baby tooth from under his host’s pillow – the only downside being that he had no pockets and always lost any loose change he was carrying.

As he reminisced and planned for his next out-of-body adventure, he noticed the breathing patterns of the host start to change, and knew it was time to go back into hiding, so he jumped up, scraped a little more food and shoved it into his mouth.  He ran back to the tonsil, climbing back up into his hiding place and closing his eyes for another day of rest.

Artwork by the amazing Christina Mølholm, whose blog can be seen here.

The Mønster Under My Søck Drawer…

A collaboration with Christina Mølholm of http://andthemonsters.wordpress.com

Captain Alfredø Søximus, just Søximus to his friends (if he had any) peers out from his dark home under the dresser and sees his prey slowly drop to the ground, one then the other, as the human climbs into bed. The lights go out, but that won’t stop a true animalistic predator like Søximus. His diminutive beady eyes peer left, then right, his skinny tail swishing back and forth in excitement, his red pointy claws retract as he crawls out a little, then more, bit by bit until his whole miniscule body fully emerges from his lair.

Tonight is his night. He will finish off the pair and achieve his greatest goal in life.

A noise! He lurches behind a pair of jeans, his eyes peering up at the bed from his new hiding place, but no, the human is not waking up, just snoring. He takes a closer look at his meal, sees the machine knitting and sighs a little, remembering back to those delicious hand-made meals he had when he was a young pup (Søximus considers himself a true connoisseur). He continues towards his prey, his enemy, his meal.

Closer…
Closer…

He can smell them now, their fear, their anticipation at being his dinner. He’s within jumping distance. He pounces! Using all of the tiny muscles in his little legs, he lands directly on top of the pair and starts ravaging, attacking, tearing away at the soft wool, starting with the yellow stripes at the top, refusing to stop as the middle reaches his mouth, his meal chewed and masticated into nothing but minute clusters of what used to be wool, he nears the softer middle of his silent enemy, until he gets to the heel, where a hole makes it a bit easier to get down, but now he’s slowing, trying to finish the arch, stuffing his gut all the way to the toe and finally finishing, then sucking down the small threads stuck in his claws. His monster instincts tell him he cannot possibly eat anymore, he picks up his meal’s twin, its best friend and comrade, the two yellow stripes teasing him, the mouth wide as if laughing at his failure, and he realizes that it has won, he just can’t do it. He hasn’t room for another bite. He looks down at his bloated stomach, knowing he has once again failed.

BLAST!!!

He slinks back towards his lair, leaving the solitary sock behind, alone, discarded on the floor. His tail, now limp, drags behind him, sharing in his failure. If only they were ankle length, he might have succeeded.

Søximus thinks about tomorrow night and the possibility of success and his tail twitches a little as he scurries back under the dresser and into his bed.

Please check out Christina’s blog for more of her monster art and stories, and watch for more collaborations!