Thursday, June 22, 2017

#TrueFacts 23

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Did you know that in 1857 five states went missing? Michconsin, North Michigan, South Ontario, Old York, and Pennsylvania's Hat all vanished one day, leaving nothing behind but the ocean they were floating on. The locals didn't want to alarm anyone, so they just pretended they'd never been there at all, and called the leftover ocean holes the Great Lakes. #TrueFact

Did you know that there is a man in Idaho that grows parsley instead of hair? #TrueFact

Did you know that a cat named Prrbld outlawed the use of vowels in Brazil? It didn't do any good, Prrbld holds no positions of authority and everyone ignored him. #TrueFact

Did you know that bagpipe dubstep is the single-most hated genre of music in the entire history of ever? In fact, it is currently illegal in almost every country except Scotland and Germany. #TrueFact

Did you know that the vacuum of space is a Dyson? It was a Kirby, but after about a million years, God got tired of lugging that heavy thing out of the closet every time, and replaced it with a far lighter, and far superior, Dyson Upright. #TrueFact

Did you know that the world has ended 6 times in the past? The most recent was the great donut apocalypse of 3400 BC. A giant bismark comet collided with a caramel pecan asteroid, just a few miles west of the moon, shooting creme filling all over the earth. The few who survived said it was the most delicious apocalypse they had ever experienced. It was way better than that time it rained fiery Brussels sprouts from the heavens in 3456. #TrueFact
P.S. Yes it is spelled with a capital B, and yes it does end with an S. It was named after the Brussels region of Belgium. Boom. You just learned something actually real from this blog post of facts that is anything but. #ActualTrueFact

Did you know that Charles Darwin's luxurious beard was not real? He lost his original facial hair in a tragic bearding accident and was forced to wear a prosthetic beard for the rest of his life. #TrueFact

Did you know that in 1991 it happened? It's true! I saw it! #TrueFact

Did you know that everyone mispronounces Babylon? It's actually pronounced Baby-Lawn. #TrueFact

Did you know that some 5 dollar bills are purple because Abraham Lincoln is holding his breath? #TrueFact

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Twist Ending 12

I haven't done one of these since 2014. I suppose I could have, but most of my "bad" experiences are usually just minor annoyances. Ames is generally such a friendly city, I never have any encounters with people mean enough to immortalize in fiction. I probably see hundreds, if not thousands of people a day, as opposed to the maybe a couple hundred, at the very most, that I see at home, and I really can't complain because most everyone in Ames is just super nice.

Sadly, this story happened at home. Literally my second day back. Not even kidding. My cousin even joked about me being inspired to write another story as soon as I got back to work. We laughed, but little did I know that her joke was practically a prophecy. Why is my small town so much grumpier than a big city?

Since I haven't written one of these in so long, I haven't even created a logo for the series. I think I started doing logos for my different series after I'd written the last one. Anyway, since I like my stuff to have images,  I decided to quickly whip one up. I really hope I never have anything worth turning into one of these stories again, but just in case...


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"Give me a pack of Pall Mall Blue 100's," the elderly man demanded.

"Sure thing. Do you have an ID I can scan?"

"F@&#! Why the h@% don't you type in a birthdate like everyone else?"

"We're not allowed to, we have to scan everyone's ID."

"Don't give me that $#!!, you could skip it if you wanted to!"

"I'm sorry, only the managers can skip the ID, I'm not a manager."

"Yeah, I can see why!"

"I'm sorry, but unless I call a manager to override the system, I have to scan an ID."

"Yeah, you just wait until I get this whole place shut down!" He exclaimed angrily.

~

That night, as the man sat in front of his flickering, 12 channel television set from 1975, eating a lukewarm, Swanson's frozen dinner, his doorbell rang.

"Who the #@&% is it at this hour! It's 6:30 at night! Why aren't you people in bed!?"

He hobbled over to the door and swung it open angrily. Outside there was a pale man in a black suit, holding a legal pad on a clipboard. On his lapel was a tiny pin shaped like a scythe.

"I was told you had a complaint?"

"What? What are you talking about? I have a complaint about you interrupting my dinner!"

"My records indicate that you had a complaint regarding the way an employee was following his company's policies. Do you care to elaborate?"

"Yeah, can you get that place shut down? Can you fire that guy?"

"No, that's not really my area. My area has more to do with karmic justice." The pale man began scribbling on his clipboard.

"Karmic? What's that? Are you some kind of freak? Get off my property before I call the cops!"

The old man slammed the door in the pale man's face and turned around to go back to his chair, but the pale man was suddenly inside, right in front of him, holding his clipboard.

"What!? Get out of my house!!!" the old man yelled.

The pale man tore the top sheet off his legal pad, handed it to the old man, and tucked the clipboard under his arm.

"You are hereby ordered to cease and desist from all temporal operations, both present and future. From this moment on, you are being reassigned to a new plane of existence. In the meantime, you will be required to complete a standard metaphysical training seminar to help you deal with the issues that brought you to the point of cosmic intervention. Someone will be along shortly to escort you to your next destination. Thank you for your cooperation, and I look forward to our next meeting. Good luck on your journey."

And with that, the pale man was gone, and the house was silent, save for the television, still flickering in the corner.

"I'd like to solve the puzzle Pat!"

"Go right ahead, Stever!"

"'Don't Fear the Reaper By Blue Oyster Cult!'"

"You are correct!" Pat exclaimed, and the audience burst into wild, cheering applause.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Nishna Valley Bakery Project

As most of you probably know, my family used to run a bakery. That ended a few years back, even though my parents can't seem to give it up, and are still constantly baking for people. :p

Anyway, last semester, our final project for one of my advertising classes was to create a logo, an advertisement, and a menu for any restaurant or bakery, real or fictional. So I decided to resurrect Nishna Valley Bakery. It turned out better than I thought it would, and now I wish it still existed so they could use my stuff. :p




I did two variations for the logo, even though I only used one in the final material.


This was the ad. I decided to imagine an alternate reality where NVB never ended, and we opened up a physical location.


And this was the menu. It's probably one of the most complicated things I've put together from nothing. Everything, even the woodgrain on the plaque behind the logo, I created from nothing. I had to follow a tutorial for the woodgrain, but everything else I just made up as I went. I even drew all the pictures freehand with my mouse.

So that was the project. Do you own a bakery and need some menus? As you can see, I have baked-good-drawing-skillz to spare, so feel free to hire me for all your pie drawing needs. :p

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The REAL Story of Little Red Riding Hood


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The last time I worked on this story was May 11th, 2014. I had written a few other "Real" fairy tales around that time, and I had planned for this one to be a sequel to my Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. You can find that HERE if you're curious. But after writing the first act, I kind of got lost.  I always planned to get back to it, but I'd never found the right way to continue the story.

Last semester I took another fiction writing class. I needed to write a story approximately twenty pages long in order to pass the class, and I had no idea what to write about. A few other people were talking about finally finishing stories they'd worked on a long time ago, and then I remembered this one. I thought about revisiting it, but didn't make my mind up until some of the other finished stories started coming in.

No one else in the class had anything like this story. Almost every story that was turned in was some kind of a romantic tragedy or story about suicide. They were all mostly dark, violent, and depressing. There were a few exceptions here and there, and some people did actually have some great stuff, but no one else was writing any comedy. After a while I really wanted some levity in that class, so eventually I decided, that the way that was going to happen, was for me to open this story back up.

I procrastinated, like I usually do, until about three weeks before it was due. I really had no idea how to pick it back up. I loved my first act, but I didn't know where to take it after that. When I finally had an idea, I worked on it straight for hours. Every day I spent at least a minimum of two hours, sometimes far longer, writing and rewriting the story until I was finally happy with it.

When I finally turned it in, it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it, multiple people told me it was their favorite story of the semester, and one guy, on the day of the critique, walked into class, dropped all of his stuff dramatically, spun around, pointed at me and exclaimed, "You! Thank you! You turned my whole f$@#!%g day around!!!" It was the nicest expletive that's ever been directed at me. :p

There were still issues with it of course, but after the critique day, I had a ton of pointers from the class, so I knew how it needed to be improved. By the end of the semester I had finished it, and it was probably the longest peice of fiction I'd done so far. It's probably not perfect, but I am still quite happy with it. I hope you'll enjoy it too. :)

Red & Gold

(The REAL Story of Little Red Riding Hood)
Jonathan North

Sirens screamed and spotlights scoured the edge of the woods as Goldilocks ran into the darkness. She had been a prisoner at Emerald City Juvenile Corrections for a year and a half on multiple charges, breaking and entering, destruction of property, assault; and those were just the charges in the Three Bears’ case. Who knows what else she might have done that she was never charged with.

By the time she’d come up with a plan of escape, she could not take one more day in this hellish green prison. She was sick of the food, she was sick of the emerald jumpsuits, she was sick of this hideous prison haircut that made her look like a Munchkin, but most of all, she was sick of being told what to do.

Goldilocks was used to being able to do pretty much whatever she wanted. She was only twelve, but for all intents and purposes, she was on her own. She had never known her father, and her mother was always off somewhere drinking, or gambling, or doing yoga with her girlfriends. Sometimes all three at once.

A few months ago Goldilocks had made friends with one of the wardens, a wolf who was sympathetic to her story. He too had had a rough childhood, and told her he saw a lot of himself in her. He’d purposely looked the other way as she made her escape, and made sure to give her a head start before pulling the alarm.

Goldilocks was not heading home. Her mother had been out betting on the gnome fights, gambling away her last unemployment check the day Goldilocks was arrested, so they got her on charges of child neglect. She’d been in prison for as long as Goldilocks had, so going home wasn’t even an option, even if she’d wanted to.

~

The only member of her family that Goldilocks could ever count on, and the only one she even liked, was her grandmother. Her grandmother was her idol. She’d been an assassin in her day, going by the name "The Red Shawl," she had done plenty of things that would make the most hardened criminals whimper in fear, crying and sucking their thumbs.

A few years earlier, a number of particularly nasty jobs had taken their toll on her, and The Red Shawl had decided to retire. She had emerged from those final battles victorious of course, that pack of wolves, Biff the Giant, the two-headed dragon of Gelth, not to mention that ogress and her seven husbands, they were all deader than doornails. But that had been such a stressful day that she’d had to stay in bed recovering for almost a week, and she just hated having to miss her Zumba and water aerobics classes. So at the age of 72, she’d decided it was time to hang up her shawl, and she moved into a little cabin in the forest.

~

Goldilocks fled over the river and through the woods until she could no longer hear the sirens behind her. She had no idea how far it was to her grandmother’s house, so when she came upon an old shack that seemed to have no one home, she broke the door in, climbed into the bed, and immediately fell asleep.

~

The next morning, she awoke to the glorious smell of gingerbread wafting through the entire house. She sat up in the bed and saw a little old lady hunched over a fancy new Maytag brand cauldron.

"Who are you?" Goldilocks asked nervously, not sure whether or not the old woman would be upset about the door she had broken, or the fact that she had spent the night in her bed.

"Well, my name is Grunhildabeth, but I think a better question is, who are you?" the old lady asked, a slight smile playing at the corner of her mouth. "Why are you here?"

"My name is... Pollyanna..." Goldilocks lied, thinking it would be best to keep her identity a secret. Pollyanna had been this extremely annoying little girl that Goldilocks had met in Emerald City. The girl would NOT shut up about how glad, Glad, GLAD! she had been that she had been caught in the middle of her candy spree because this would give her a chance to turn her life around.

"Oh, really?" Grunhildabeth asked, hobbling over to her on a gnarled looking walking stick. "THE Pollyanna? The infamous tri-county candy thief?"

"Um... Yes?"

"Because I’ve met Pollyanna." the old woman continued, shaking her stick in Goldilocks’ direction. "I caught her tearing the shingles off my garage last year. I forgave her and offered her a place to stay while she hid from the police, but after a couple of days she just up and bashed me over the head with a lamp and fled! For no reason!” She shook her head sadly. “I have no idea why; I'm such a sweet little old lady.”

Suddenly she perked up. “Care for a doorknob?” she asked cheerfully. “It's dark chocolate coconut truffle!" She bent over and pulled the knob off the door that Goldilocks had broken down. "It's ok, I'm baking up a fresh door right now."

"Your door is edible?" Asked Goldilocks, taking a bite from the doorknob.

"Oh, yes." Grunhildabeth replied. "My whole house is. I just love children so much; my house is specially made for any who might happen to wander by. Help yourself to any furniture or appliances if you like. I can always make more. Care for a hunk of ceiling fan?”

The old woman reached up with her walking stick and knocked down a large slab of chocolate. Unfortunately, the fan was still on, and the missing blade set it off balance. The whole thing rocked back and forth a few times before it snapped off the ceiling, flew across the room, and took out a huge plate glass window.

"Whoops!” Grunhildabeth said cheerfully, handing the fan blade to Goldilocks. “Oh well, I’ll just add sugar glass to my to-do list! So, anyway, who are you really? And why exactly are you wearing that green jumpsuit?"

Goldilocks looked at the old woman like she was insane, but took a bite of the fan blade anyway. It was actually pretty amazing. "Okay, fine. I'm not Pollyanna," she admitted, taking another bite of the fan blade. "But I can't tell you who I am. Other than your awesome candy skills, I have no reason to trust you."

"Well, those green jumpsuits aren't exactly haute couture you know. It's obvious you’re here because you need a place to hide. But I really don’t mind, you can stay here with me. My home is your home. I LOVE children, and I really don’t care what you did. This is a 100% judgement free home. Judgement free, not sugar free!" She cackled to herself.

"I’m really sorry, but I can't stay," Goldilocks said, handing the fan blade back to the old woman. "As delicious as this place is, I really need to get to my grandmother's house. By now she’ll probably have heard what happened to me, and she’ll be worried."

"Please, at least just stay for a couple of days." the old woman pleaded. "I'll make you a cherry chocolate cheesecake filled marshmallow fondant throw pillow with licorice cross-stitch and fringe!"
"Sorry, I really need to go."

"No,” the old woman said, suddenly deadly serious. "You can never leave."

"What?"

"You heard me. You aren't leaving. Ever." Grunhildabeth pointed her walking stick at the oven which flew open, shooting out the new door which fixed itself in the doorway and locked into place. She turned and pointed her stick at Goldilocks, causing a huge cage made of thick candy canes to materialize around her. “You’re going to stay here, and you are going to eat my house, and you are going to get nice and fat, because I am sick of eating my own appliances, and I am starving for a fresh, juicy child!”

"Forget this, you frickin’ cannibal!" Goldilocks yelled, and grabbed the bars of the cage with all her might. She had spent the last year and a half doing almost nothing other than working out in the prison yard, and summoning all her strength, she snapped out two of the oversized peppermint sticks, and leapt out of the cage. "Take this, you witch!" she screamed, and cracked the old woman upside the head, knocking her backwards into the cauldron. She kicked open the freshly baked door, and ran for her life.

Ignoring the old woman’s shrieks and wails, Goldilocks ran back into the woods, and kept running until she could no longer hear the angry cursing in the distance.

~

Goldilocks walked in silence for a while until she eventually found the path again. At least she hoped it was the right path, they all look the same when you’re this deep in the forest. She followed the path until she came to an intersection, marked by a sign with a bunch of arrows, all pointing in different directions. One of them was pointing back in the direction of ‘Grunhildabeth’s Candy Cottage,’ and another arrow, pointing down an overgrown path, was marked ‘Mother Melgrid’s Tower Salon: We Don’t Do Haircuts!’ There were a seven small signs underneath those, all pointing in the same direction, marked with the names, Happy, Sappy, Grumpy, Dumpy, Sneezy, Wheezy, and Kevin, and below that was a small, obviously newer sign that simply read ‘Grandmother’s House.’

“Well, that’s convenient,” she said to herself, looking at the arrow that seemed to be pointing her toward her grandmother. “I hope it’s actually MY Grandmother, and not some random old lady.” She figured it probably was her grandmother. What other grandmother would want to live out in the middle of the forest? Besides that old witch of course. And the witch probably wasn’t even a grandmother. Who would have ever wanted to marry that ugly sack of wrinkles?

Just then, she got the distinct feeling that she was being watched. Afraid that Grunhildabeth might have followed her, she decided to go back through the forest and try to keep going in the general direction of the arrow, staying close enough to the path that she wouldn’t get lost, but far enough in that she could remain hidden.

As she was about to go back into the forest, two little children burst out of the trees and crashed into her, sending one of them, a little boy, tumbling to the ground. "Owie, mister!" he exclaimed, rubbing his rear end.

"I'm not a mister." Goldilocks sneered, "What’s wrong with you?”

"Well, you're wearing pants," the little boy said. "And you have short hair. Only boys wear pants and have short hair."

"Someone needs to let go of their antiquated gender stereotypes, little girl," Goldilocks glared at him.
"I’m not a little girl!”

“I’m the girl!” his sister exclaimed.

“See?” Goldilocks replied. “It doesn’t feel very nice to be misgendered, now does it?”

“What?” the little boy asked, totally confused.

"Can you help us?" The little girl interrupted. "We're lost and we need food."

"Yeah! We're starving!" the boy agreed loudly.

"Oh, hey, yeah!" Goldilocks exclaimed, feigning excitement. "You kids should go that way." She pointed to the sign and motioned behind her, back in the direction she’d come from. "There's a huge house all made of candy and gingerbread and chocolate and junk!”

“Junk? It’s made of garbage?” the little boy asked.

“Not literal junk, geez!” she said, reverting back to annoyance. “It’s a figure of speech! The house is made of candy! You can eat it!” She switched back to faux enthusiasm. “Plus, there’s a nice lady who lives there who will give you all the food you want! And I think she’s magic!”

"Really? Awesome! Thanks mister!" the little boy exclaimed, and the children ran off in the direction of the witch’s cottage.

"Yay! Run! Go get that sugar!" she hollered after them. "Good riddance," she said to herself, and continued on her way, no longer worried that Grunhildabeth would come looking for her.

~

Goldilocks followed the path for a few more hours. Around three in the afternoon she found a small apple orchard and decided to stop to get something to eat. A sign on the fence around the orchard read, ‘Queen Grimillian’s Totally Not Poisoned Apples!’ “Hmm,” Goldilocks said to herself. “Sounds legit,” and she helped herself to a few of the biggest apples she could find.

As she ate, she thought she heard someone walking up the path outside the orchard, and instinctively she reached for the taser in her pocket. Unfortunately, it had been confiscated when she was arrested, so she shimmied up a tree and out of sight. She really needed to get a new weapon ASAP. As she watched from the branches, a wolf appeared around the corner and sniffed the air. Suddenly it looked directly up at her.

“My, my, my… What have we here?” asked the wolf, in a deep, powerful voice that sounded like a rich fusion of Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones. “A little girl like yourself should not be alone out here! What would your mother say?”

“Steppen?” Goldilocks asked. “Is that you? What are you doing out here?”

“I could ask you the same thing!” the wolf replied. It was the same wolf who’d helped her escape the Emerald. “Why are you out here? I thought you were going to your grandmother’s as soon as I’d gotten you out!”

“I’m on my way,” Goldilocks said, climbing down from the tree. “My grandmother lives out here somewhere, but I have no idea how far away she is.”

“Well, lucky for you, I was the one who found you, and not one of the other wardens. There have been people combing the woods for you since last night, you know.”

“Oh,” Goldilocks said. In all the excitement with the witch, she’d kind of forgotten that there might be a manhunt out looking for her.

“I have an idea on how to get them to call off the search,” the wolf told her, “But you’re going to need to change your clothes.”

“Oh, believe me, I’d love nothing more, but if you haven’t noticed, these woods seem to be rather lacking in Walmarts.”

“Okay, here’s what we’ll do. I’m pretty sure there’s a house not far from here, I can smell smoke from a wood burning stove. We’ll stop there and get you some clothes. Then you give me your jumpsuit, and I’ll tear it up, and take it back to Emerald. They’ll just assume you got eaten by a bear or something, and give up looking.”

“A bear, really? You realize I took down three of those on my own, they’ll never believe I let one get the drop on me!”

“Okay, fine, we’ll set it on fire and tell them a dragon got you!”

“Now that’s more like it!” Goldilocks exclaimed gleefully. “I’d never stand a chance against a dragon!”

“You’re a very odd little girl,” the wolf told her. “You know that, right?”

“I have been told that before,” she said, smiling.

“Okay, let’s get going,” he said. “We’ve got a death to fake.”

~

They set out on their way and after a while they came upon a small, brick house. Goldilocks knocked on the door and a moment later it opened a crack. A little pig poked its head out, but it took one look at the wolf and squealed, “Not again!” and slammed the door in their faces. From behind the door they heard several deadbolts click, and shortly they heard the sound of an engine roaring to life. They looked around to the back of the house and saw the pig fly out of the garage on a motorcycle as fast as it could go.

“Nice!” exclaimed Goldilocks, and picked up a rock, chucking it through a huge plate glass window.

“Well, that’s one way to do it,” the wolf said. “Or we could have just gone through the garage.”

“Yeah, but where’s the fun in that?” Goldilocks asked, carefully climbing over the glass.

Inside the house, they found some clothes that fit her. The pig was about her height, but he was much rounder, so she had to use a belt to keep the pants up.

“Well, this’ll have to do,” Goldilocks said, stepping out of the bathroom and handing the jumpsuit to Steppen. “Not sure about the smell though.” The clothes smelled like mud and old ham, with a hint of… taco seasoning? Whatever it was it was gross.

“You’ll just have to put up with it I’m afraid,” the wolf said. “This is the only way to get them off your scent.”

Goldilocks gave him a look, and he laughed.

“Thanks so much for that,” she said sarcastically.

“Don’t mention it,” The wolf said, ripping a leg off the jumpsuit.

“Wait!” Goldilocks exclaimed. “I thought we were going to set it on fire!”

“Oh, right.” The wolf spit out the leg and found a lighter next to the pig’s stove.

Outside, they burned away about half the material, but made sure that the prisoner ID number was left intact.

“Why don’t you stay the night here,” the wolf said. “It’ll be getting dark soon, and I doubt that pig’ll be back. I’ll take the jumpsuit back to Emerald, hopefully they’ll call back the search party right away, and you should be good to go in the morning.”

“Thank you so much, Steppen,” Goldilocks said. “If I was that kind of person, I would hug you right now.”

“Please don’t,” the wolf said, smiling slightly. “Goodbye now. Good luck.”

“Thank you! I hope I’ll see you again someday!”

“Definitely!”

~

The next day Goldilocks set out again. She walked for a few hours before she finally spotted a small house off in the distance. Grandmother’s cottage! She’d finally made it! She knocked on the door, but no one answered, and the door creaked open slightly as it had not been latched. She pushed it open and found the whole place was a mess. Chairs upside down, the bedclothes were everywhere, the nightstand and mirror were both overturned and broken, and there were gouges in the floors and walls, like someone had gone crazy with an axe. An axe which was now lying in pieces on the ground outside, next to the back door, which had been broken out of its frame. Upon closer inspection, Goldilocks realized the the axe looked like it had been bitten in half, bitten in half by something with very sharp teeth. There was no blood though, so maybe her grandmother was still okay? She was a trained assassin after all.

Goldilocks ran out the back door. “Grandmother?” she called. “Grandmother!?” There was no answer. “GRANDMOTHER!?” This was pointless. If her grandmother was still alive she was going to have to find her herself. But first she would need a change of clothes and a weapon. The little pig’s clothes were rank, and she was even more eager to get rid of them than she had been the jumpsuit.

She went back inside and opened the closet, glad that she and her grandmother were roughly the same size. She pulled out a dark colored dress, and then she saw it. There, inside the closet, was her grandmother’s infamous red cloak. “Perfect,” she said to herself, and put it on over the dress. If her grandmother was dead, she was sure she would have wanted her to take it, and if she was alive, she could return it when she found her.

Glad to finally be out of the smelly clothes, Goldilocks began searching the house for a weapon. Obviously the axe was out, but there had to be something else around here. Her grandmother would not have become one of the most feared assassins without a collection of weapons.

She looked in all the kitchen cupboards, under the bed, even in the bathroom. Finally she began pulling books off the bookshelf, hoping to find a hollowed-out book hiding a gun, but when she pulled out the Encyclopedia of Cupcakes, the bookshelf shuddered. Creaking and groaning, it pulled away from the wall and slid to the side, revealing a staircase leading down to an armory, almost the same size as the main room of the house!

The armory was absolutely FULL of weapons. There were swords and daggers, guns and crossbows, maces and mace, there was even a large selection of tasers! Her favorite! Goldilocks grabbed a taser that looked a lot like the one she’d used to take down the Papa Bear, and a can of mace, like the one she’d used on the Mamma Bear. Knowing that her grandmother was probably unarmed, she grabbed a huge sword, her grandmother’s weapon of choice. She thought about grabbing a gun too, just in case, but none of them were loaded, and she didn’t know how to load them. Oh well, three weapons should be plenty. Goldilocks found a sheath and strapped the sword to her side, and set out with the cloak covering her and the weapon completely.

~

Goldilocks followed the trail as best as she could for about a half mile before she came to a clearing with a pond and cave on its shore. She thought she heard noises coming from the cave, so she crept closer.

“I’ll never give up, you murderer!” a familiar deep voice shouted. “I know you killed my parents! You will pay!”

“Steppen?” Goldilocks asked aloud.

“Well it’s a good thing I’m a patient woman!” she heard her grandmother yell. “As soon as I can get my hand on one of those cave spikes, you’ll be dead in a second!”

“Well, why don’t you let me go, so you can grab one?”

“Nice try, you smelly bathmat! I’m not going anywhere! As soon as I’ve finished with you, I’m going to dye you pink and turn you into a toilet seat cover!”

“You won’t live long enough to try!”

Goldilocks crept into the cave and saw something that was, quite frankly, pretty hilarious. Her grandmother, a woman in her 70’s, still in her nightgown, had apparently wrestled the wolf to the floor of the cave, and was sitting on his back, pulling his front paws up over his head so he couldn’t move.

“Grandmother!” she shouted.

“Goldilocks!” her grandmother cried in surprise.

“Steppen!?” Goldilocks shouted. “What are you doing!?”

“Wait,” Goldilocks’ grandmother said, “You two know each other!?”

“What do you mean, what am I doing!?” Steppen continued, ignoring her. “I’m getting my revenge! Your grandmother killed my parents!”

“What!?” Goldilocks exclaimed, thoroughly confused. “What do you mean? How do you know?”

“When I was just a pup, my parents disappeared without a trace. There were rumors that they had been slaughtered by an ancient evil cloaked in crimson! When you told me all about your grandmother’s “amazing exploits,” I knew she was the one who’d killed them! That cloak you’re wearing is proof enough! The Red Shawl!”

“You don’t know that! How could you know that?”

“Come on dear,” Goldilocks’ grandmother said, “Let’s be real. If his parents were wolves, I probably did kill them. Now will someone please tell me what’s going on?”

“He was one of the wardens at Emerald.” Goldilocks explained. “He helped me escape! I thought he was my friend!”

“We could never be friends after what your grandmother did to my parents! I was just a puppy! She murdered them!” He turned to her grandmother, “You murdered them!”

“I was hired to do a job,” Goldilocks’ grandmother said. “It wasn’t personal.”

“Yeah, well it is now!” The wolf thrashed with all his might and threw her across the room. She rolled into a row of stalagmites, breaking several of them off, and was still.

“Stop it!” Goldilocks shouted drawing the sword. “I don’t want to hurt you, but if you’ve hurt my grandmother I will! Why did you help me? If we weren’t friends, why would you go through all that trouble to help me escape?”

“I did like you at first, I wasn’t lying when I said you reminded me of myself, but once I figured out who your grandmother was, it didn’t matter. I helped you escape so you would lead me to her. I’ve been looking for her for years, I couldn’t let this opportunity to finally get my revenge pass me by. I’m sorry, Goldilocks, this was never about you. I wish you weren’t here to have to see this.”

The wolf leapt toward her grandmother with his teeth bared, but with one swift motion, Goldilocks’ grandmother leapt up, throwing one of the stalagmites with all her might, stabbing the wolf in the chest.

“Well it seems like luck is on your side, old woman,” gasped the wolf, staggering backwards.

“Yes, it would seem so.”

Goldilocks ran toward them.

“You know I’m not giving up, right?” he said weakly. “You’re just going to have to kill me.”

“Why, Steppen?” Goldilocks asked. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“Oh, but it does,’ the wolf replied. “All my life has been leading me to this moment. From the moment my parents died, I made it my mission to seek justice on their behalf. I can’t let their murders go unavenged.”

“Hand me my sword, dear,” her grandmother said, and Goldilocks passed her the blade.

The wolf looked at her pointedly. “I’m sorry, but if you’re going to stand in my way, you’re going to have to go too.”

Summoning the last of his strength, the wolf leapt towards Goldilocks, but she was prepared, and before his teeth could even brush her skin, he was on the ground, writhing with 50,000 volts. As he lay twitching on the floor of the cave, Goldilocks’ grandmother plunged her sword into the wolf, and he was dead.

“Grandmother!” Goldilocks cried, dropping the taser and running forward.

“Oh, Goldilocks,” she replied, as they fell into an embrace.

“I’m so sorry,” Goldilocks said. “I never should have told him about you!”

“Don’t worry about it dear, you didn’t know. Besides, I’ve been needing new carpets anyway. He’ll make some fine mats for the bathroom.”

Goldilocks laughed quietly.

“What are you doing here, anyway?” her grandmother asked, pulling the sword out of the wolf. Last I knew they’d sent you up the river!”

“Well, that’s kind of the problem,” Goldilocks said. “I sort of need a place to stay. I may or may not have just escaped from prison and faked my own death.”

“Oh, that’s my little girl!” her grandmother exclaimed happily, putting an arm around her as they left the cave. “Of course you can stay with me! After what happened this morning, I’m pretty sure I’ll be needing help fixing my house anyway!”

“Thank you, grandmother! Oh, and I’m assuming you’ll be wanting this back.” Goldilocks began to take off the red cloak, but her grandmother stopped her.

“No dear, you keep it. After your amazing performance today, I think you deserve to keep it. Who knows. Maybe one day you can follow in my footsteps. Perhaps you could be the next Red Shawl.”

“Really? I know how much this cloak means to you.”

“Think nothing of it,” her grandmother said, stopping at the pond outside the cave to clean her sword. “I’ve lost count of how many of those things that I’ve owned. You really think that I’ve had the same cloak for 50 years of assassining? Those things wear out way too easily, especially when you fight things with claws!”

Goldilocks handed her the sheath.

“I can make myself another cloak,” her grandmother said, strapping the sword to her side. “You keep this one.”

“Thank you, Grandmother. I’ll wear it always.”

Her grandmother laughed. “Well, at least until it gets shredded in a bear fight or something.”

“Hey, I came out of that fight without a scratch! And there were three of them!”

“Of course, but I meant wild bears. Oatmeal eating, chair sitting, bed using, domesticated bears don’t count. Plus, one of those was a baby!” her grandmother said with a mischievous smile.

“Grandmother…” Goldilocks said, laughing.

“Goldilocks…” she replied, playfully mocking her tone, then stopped. “Goldilocks. Hmm… How would you like a nickname? If you’re going to follow in my footstep, you need an alias.”

“Really?” Goldilocks asked.

“Of course!” her grandmother exclaimed. “Goldilocks sounds too sweet. Too innocent. Why do you think I called myself The Red Shawl? I couldn’t go around killing monsters with a name like Rosemary, could I?”

“Well, I guess not,” Goldilocks replied. “But what do you think I should be called?”

“I think that cloak really suits you,” her grandmother said. “Let’s call you, Red.”

Friday, June 2, 2017

Umbrella Ave.


This summer I have been working on a ton of different projects, photography, graphic design, video editing, all with the end goal of making a well rounded portfolio that I can use to apply for internships and jobs. Now, I was planning on waiting until that site was live to share much of anything, but I have been working on something, literally all day, and it turned out so much better than I ever could have hoped, so I'm sharing it right now!

My sister-in-law, Alex, has a small business where she sells one-of-a-kind, handmade toys and art, called Umbrella Ave. Last year I filmed her and her creations for well over an hour, in the hopes of getting enough footage to make a commercial for her business. When I first went through the footage last year, I didn't really know how I was going to use it. There was a lot of bad lighting, poor sound, and long stretches of silence. At the time I didn't really have the time to dedicate myself to the project, so I put it away, and planned to get back to it when I had more time.

Well, this summer, I have forced myself to have time to work on this kind of stuff, and after starting a YouTube channel where I am reviewing movies and TV shows, (more on that later) I felt like I had gotten back into the editing groove, and gained enough new knowledge that I could finally tackle Alex's commercial. Plus, she has a big art show coming up this weekend, and I wanted to surprise her by finishing the video in time for her to play it at the show.

I started it this morning, and it was really slow going at first. I was really struggling to try to figure out how to turn around an hour's worth of semi-worthless footage into a commercial she could use to promote her business. I was clipping out some decent shots here and there, whittling away at some of the worst of it, when I started noticing that in our small talk while she worked, there was actually some good little anecdotes about her work and why she does what she does. So instead of just making a commercial, I switched gears and I decided to use the clips of her stories, overlaid with footage of her just working, along with some shots of her creations, and make them into a mini-documentary!

It is now well after one in the morning, I just finished uploading the video to YouTube, and I am as close to being thrilled with something I've created as I've ever been. I've done video editing before, and I'm not usually completely happy with it, but not this time! I am really shocked at how well this went together, so I had to make this post to share it right now, in the middle of the night. You can watch the video here!



If you liked what you've seen and you want to look into Alex's work some more, I'm including links below.

Alex's Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/UmbrellaAve
Alex's Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/umbrellaave
Watch another of Alex's creations come to life:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMiakfobPWE