Super short story

“Impossible” invention. Secrecy, chaos, then pursuit.

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Short Story Written, Submitted

I did take the time over vacation at the end of June to write a short story. It depicts an adventure I had a long time ago that involved trying to get out of Mexico after some misadventures with a friend from school. I entered it into a contest that is due to announce the winners sometime in late summer. If I snag a prize I’ll be happy and will blush with humility. If I lose I’ll lash out at the judges for their incompetence and inability to recognize genius. And then I’ll write some more, because I’m driven by failure and anger. I get lazy with success. So I deliberately fail in order to stay creative. Am I sick? I took an online quiz to see if I was insane. They said I was borderline. Not borderline personality, but borderline insane.

When I was in college I took a creative writing class that turned out to be mostly about how to get published in those fucking magazines that pay you two cents per word for crap poety and predictable fiction. It kind of sucked. The format of the class was that we’d all write something, make copies of it for everyone else to read, and then critique each other’s work. I’ll never forget the pride I felt when, after writing a story about a one-armed guy who wore a reindeer puppet as a mitten, half the class loved it and half the class hated it. I got a couple of comments in which people said I should be evaluated by a professional or put away. I loved this. Talk about people not understanding the difference between an author and the story. Sheesh!

I’m about due for a super short story on this site soon. Perhaps later this week. I should make a habit of it.

Rita and I have been making and eating a lot of Korean food lately. It is the new obsession. She is going to make a batch of kimchi this month. I bet it will be excellent!

– Phil Reebius

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Okay, I’m Pissed

The past month has gone by too fast. And everything I read about social media says you’re supposed to create content, content and even more content. I’ve always wondered who has the time to take all the selfies and spend time posting to Facebook and Twitter and all the other channels. When do they get any work done? Am I so inefficient that I have no time for all this self-promotion? I don’t get it.

At any rate, I’ve got a simmering issue and I just have to get it off my chest.

I used to shop all the time at a large photographic supply place that had two locations in the Chicago area. They had other locations as well. I spent thousands of dollars at this place. I bought my Nikon D-700 there, some lenses, lighting equipment, and an awesome printer for about $1,000. I bought all my paper from this place, as well as my printer ink. My wife Rita got me a great tripod and ball-head there too. So we’ve made more than a modest investment in them and they’ve received, in return, several thousand dollars from us.

So it made sense then, for birthdays and such, that my mother-in-law would get me a gift card from this place. I could get more paper, camera bags, or whatever I wanted. She knew I’d be happy getting things I could actually use. So I had a gift card from this place.

Well, this company went through a spectacular bankruptcy. Spectacular in that they didn’t notify their own employees about it, there was no warning. One morning, they just didn’t open up. I had noticed that the shelves had become a bit more sparsely stocked, yes, but there was no speculation, at least among the general public, that there was an impending bankruptcy. It does seem that there is an unfortunately close connection and similar history among several of the camera places that buy each other up, close, etc. Some weird cycle.

Well this store reopened. Same name. Same location. Same signs. Same products on the shelves. Same everything except for the employees. Since they now are closed on Saturdays (the only real visible change except for the employees) it was tough to get in there. Saturday is my day to go out and play and do things I need to get done. I figured a month ago that I had better get in there with the gift card and spend it while they were still in business. We went in, found something we liked, and when I tried to pay with the gift card, was told, “oh, that’s for the old Calumet; we can’t honor this.”

Seriously? I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars with you, and all you’d have to do (even if you are now the ‘new’ Calumet) to keep me as a customer, would be to honor the gift card. You have my mother-in-law’s money (super fixed income); you have the name and reputation of the company, and you have their mailing list (which you liberally use). But you’ve lost me as a customer. Goodbye Calumet. I’ll buy from B&H Photo.

On the upside, Rita and I released another episode of The Prehensile and Gretel Show last week, which celebrates in part, our survival of the July 4th festivities in our neighborhood. And our schnauzer got a bath today, so he’s now all fresh and huggable. He likes to play in the ferns and comes in the house with slugs all over him, which drive him nuts and frankly, it twists our sensibilities as well.

– Phil Reebius


Filed under Complaints, Photography

Missing In Action

Well the past month has been insane. Trying to prepare for vacation that I must take or lose it. This means trying to clear as much work as you can by either delegating to someone else or doing the work in advance. So in short, not much time for adding posts here. At the same time, we’ve been putting together a podcast for ourselves. Rita and I have always enjoyed goofing around and a podcast is an easy way to break out of the writing only world and get some audio in place. We created The Prehensile and Gretel Show because we just want to have fun. And if you have no place to blow off some steam, you end up in deep shit over the long run. We’re just starting out, so we’ll see how it goes!

Bittersweet days the past week as we learned our friend Jenny Seay would be leaving the Chicago area to head West for a new job. Jenny created and has been the force behind the Tamale Hut Cafe Presents reading series. This series has been well-attended and loved for over 8 years. Jenny you will be missed! Sheila Johnson has accepted the challenge (and the Picard figure), taking over as creative director. After a month off in July, it’s more reading in August. August already?

Here’s the problem with summer: you wait so damn long for it to arrive that you cannot possibly fit in all the things you want to do. I should write, work in the garden, wash the car, fix shit up, hang out, relax, learn to cook some new things, write another book, make some guitars…you know. Too many interests and not enough time.

Check out the podcast. I’m sure I’ll get around to discussing The Randy Scuffle Papers on a future episode, so watch for that.


-Phil Reebius


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