On a Dark And Stormy

Joe Van Cleave put out the challenge:  write a piece based on A Dark and Stormy Night…

Why this instantly brought Raymond Queneau and his Exercises in Style to mind I do not know. But it did.  Quickly I had three pages of small paragrahs. Rather than exercises in style my writing explored characters and scenes.  For the Van Cleave exercise the limit is one page so an exercise in editing followed.  A few of the entries that did not make the cut follow the image.

Dark and Stormy Characters
Dark and Stormy Characters

For additional fun you might try to guess the literary influences I followed in several of these.

“Another game? Certainly.” We were safe and snug in the solarium. It would have provided a nice view of the night’s storm, had it not been so dark. Never the less the sound and fury was evident. Our only light was the reflection from the red brick fireplace. I looked across the chess table at my host. His eyes were so sad. Surprisingly so in light of his fine gentle demeanor. The grandfather clock interrupted this amusing as it rang too. So late. “It is later than I thought.” “Perhaps a nightcap instead? I have an aperitif well suited to this stormy night. You may find it interesting, called Queneau.”

What did one expect this time of year? Sunshine and cool breezes? Not in these parts. Nah, we got the dark and stormy night. Draws the tourists to the coast, to just sit and watch the storms. One should know not to go out walking on such a night. You can barely see your hand in front of your face. My flashlight was down to a dim, red glow. “Hey, you lost?” I was in fact, or so I thought. I was behind the bar on the beachfront. A woman out on the smoking porch invited me to get out of the cold. The clock inside showed 2:00. “Are you required to close at two?” “Sure, but I doubt the cops will be out to enforce that tonight. Besides, we’re closed except for friends. Here, have this new stuff. It’s a real warmer, called Queneau.”

Under the bridge, nice to be here where I like it. This night! Christ what a stormy night! So dark it’d be useless to forage food from dumpsters. Here I can stay dry and … what the … oh. Red lights flashing meant the do gooders were here to pack us all off to shelters. I’m fine here. I refused. I refused everything until they left, even the sad eyed one who almost convinced me. I’m gonna be fine here. This night I’ve got a new bottle stolen from the liquor store. It’s called Queneau.

“I like storms. I like darkness, you know? This night, I’ve longed for it my whole life. It’s a perfect dark and stormy night …” Jesus. How did I end up on a date with this thinks he’s really goth cool romantic weirdo? There doesn’t seem to be any escape from this cheesy place. At least the storm is outside. Electric faux fire place, red lanterns on the tables. Yuk. A sad eyed waiter came by the table “Your fiest digestif my good sir,” the bore ordered. The waiter tilted his head, “certainly.” He returned with two snifters. “A very unusual item. I’m sure you’ll find it agreeable. It is called Queneau.” The bore bolted half down, then slumped, passing out. “Miss, shall I call a cab for you?” He winked and added “roofie for him, road for you.”

Arrgh! Another wave broke over the bowspirit. It truth, it made no difference. I’d been soaked through on this vile dark and stormy night since my watch started. What a useless watch. Can’t see a thing in this weather. Even the red glow from the steam stacks amidships were hidden by this blasted storm. Striding about to try and keep warm I almost knocked over the watch relief. Tow bells at last! Davey looked sad and I couldn’t blame him. A quick trot and I was soon in the mess. The cook handed me a grog mug. “Ship doctor’s orders. Drink this right up. It’s to keep you from getting sick, something called Queneau.”

The Lazy Dog

If you type at all, you’ve typed it, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”  People with typewriters use it to test them and to quickly fill a page when one can’t think of something else. It’s less threatening to onlookers than “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” running down the page.

Joe Van Cleave made the panagram the subject of this week’s typing assignment.” We were encouraged to write about the dog, the fox, or whatever came up around this sentence. A story of the dog came to my mind.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

On The Edge of the Future

Joe Van Cleave moved away from typewriters this week. For the assignment he requested we write about a special place we had when we were young. This presented a challenge. There was no single spot, no gathering point, for friends and me. We did live in a changing place that is prominent in mid-century America – the suburban development. Being one of the first families in our area I was steeped in the change sweeping America.

On the Edge of the Future
On the Edge of the Future


Typewriter Takeover

Before typewriters many jobs required a fine “hand.” A hand in this context meant the quality of one’s writing. Clerks, certainly, required this skill. Their function was to create legible records.  Professionals such as lawyers also required a fine hand. With the introduction of typewriters a fine hand became less important and speed and accuracy with the machine became the skill needed.

At some point this extended to resumes and job applications.  When did the hand written resume die out? Certainly before I entered the job market in the 1970s.  I have memories of my mom typing dad’s resume in the early 1960s. A typewritten resume was required as much as descring the family status. “Married with three children” was included with job history and military discharge status. My wife reports that in the 1980s there were still some ads that requested hand written resumes – oddly these were for laboring, physical effort jobs, not office positions.

Now resumes are expected in electronic form. The frequent requirement is a Word document or PDF file. Paper is not appreciated.

When might we return to handwritten resumes? I suspect a candidate for some creative position in advertising or gallery work or perhaps someone wishing to be a personal assistant will lead the way. The word of their hand written application and resume will spread and be emulated.

I’m not holding my breath.

Typewriting vs Other Ways

Last week Joe Van Cleave’s writing group anthropormophized their typewriters. This week we compare using a typewriter vs other ways of writing. How does the physical experience affect your writing? I reflected on this during the entire week.

Music and memories from a writing machine
How does using a typewriter affect your writing? What makes it special?