The Weird Week in Writing: Crashing Stephen King's place, Star Trek zombies, and dictionary drama

Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird and wonderful world of writing this week (followed, as always, by a prompt). Happy weekend!

Crashing King: Sure, you feel bad enough when you have a minor fender bender or when you accidentally reverse into your neighbor’s mailbox. But what if you swerved to avoid an oncoming car and caused $100,000 in damage to Stephen King’s custom fence—the one adorned with gargoyles and spiders? (Insert Christine joke here.)

RIP, OED: Although it still needs about 10 years of work, the hulking third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary—the one that a team of 80 lexicographers has been working on for more than two decades—isn’t likely to ever see print. Other nerds and I can now sneak off to consult how “heartbroken” is properly formatted and phonetically annotated in our 1989 editions.

Sarah Palin—One-Shot Wonder? A new single-issue comic book features the former Alaska governor saving the world from oil spills and nuclear meltdowns using … steam. That’s right: It’s Steampunk Palin time.

The Final (Mashup) Frontier: A new book features a Star Trek convention overrun by zombies who, apropos, happen to be undead Klingons and other Trek villains (and not wily antagonizing Star Wars fans). Hero Complex has the scoop on Night of the Living Trekkies.

HULK SPAWN! The last time I wrote about Drunk Hunk, the awesome inebriated superhero literary critic on Twitter, he had been unmasked. Curiously, a handful of other publishing-minded tweeting Hulks have sprung up, from Editor Hulk to Grammar Hulk to Franzen Hulk. And Bookstore Hulk: “BSHULK BELIEVE BOOKS MAKE EXCELLENT GIFTS. DESPITE LARGE GREEN FINGERS, HULK DEFT GIFTWRAPPER.”

Terribly Awkward Texting: Courtesy of Textees, a new finger-cap thing ($13) that helps you text better, and provides valuable lessons on the dark side of text errors with the following rap-infused commercial.

(Image of King’s house: Via)

* * *

WRITING PROMPT: You can’t handle the truth.
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

It was a longshot, but your agent sold your memoir.
Now, meeting with your new publisher, you’re beginning to think the whole thing might have been a mistake.
“It’s incredible,” the publisher says. “And, I assume it’s all 100 percent true?”
You pause.


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8 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: Crashing Stephen King's place, Star Trek zombies, and dictionary drama

  1. Nathan Honore

    “Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent,” I replied with a slight grin. The face opposite mine lost its grin. How could he not know that I changed a few details? Doesn’t everyone do that?

    “Mr. H, allow me to explain something. We have chosen to publish your memoir because of the attention to detail, real detail. The way you write about your relationships, social interactions, etc.” Our eyes locked for a good five seconds of awkward silence. “There is nothing else overtly spectacular or ground-breaking in this book.”

    My heart broke a little.

    “Now, if we were to discover that those precious words were works of fiction, our future together would be very short.” Another five seconds of staring and silence. My mouth grew dry, which inevitably meant that my breath would stink very soon. Deciding to let him keep talking, I nodded slowly, keeping my hands and feet still.

    “We like you. We talk about your book constantly and have had these discussions on what you would look like.”

    This was beginning to sound like the Borg from Star Trek. Was I about to be assimilated?

    “Needless to say, you did not disappoint. Your style and facial hair is exactly how you described in the memoir. This only added to your credibility when you showed up today.”

    My hands were now swamps. What happens if I have to shake his hand? I’ll have bad breath and gross hands. This is a disaster.

    “Again, how much of this is true?”

    Looking down, I inhaled sharply through my nose. I couldn’t change everything back to its pure, unadulterated, true state. I must protect my family, friends…even enemies. But then again, I do need money. My Catholic upbringing really failed me. The Biblical trivia did nothing to help me weigh my morals against my greed. Damn it Sister Rita!

    He began tapping his fingers on his mahogany desk, sensing my internal struggle. A few of my beard hairs may have turned grey right there. I opened my mouth, ready for whatever came out, for better or worse.

    Something stopped me. What was that noise? Am I really losing it? Those sweet sounds of an acoustic guitar accompaniment and whistling melody are so familiar! Oh shit, my phone! I quickly reached in my left jacket pocket and pressed the appropriate button to answer, which is actually “Send.”

    “Hello?” I answered, stinky breath streaming forth.

    “On Rye, get out of that office. I just got a better deal for you. They have agreed to leave all content as is and not ask questions. More money, more problems. Just kidding, but seriously, more money. Meet me in half an hour at the bar. Later buddy.”

    My mouth still open and stinking, I pushed the “End” button. Slowly I returned the phone to my pocket and looked at the extremely annoyed man across from me. I grinned, stood up, grabbed a butterscotch candy from his candy dish, tipped my hat, and left.

  2. Mark James

    Okay Zac . . . I couldn’t resist.

    Headline inspired by today’s Week In Weird:

    Woman Using Controversial Textee Crashes Horror Author’s Gate, Eaten By Trekkie Zombies.

    Cal crossed his legs, shook out the crease in his pants. “True? That’s a pretty narrow word, isn’t it?”

    “Mr. Black, I’m simply asking you to tell me the truth percentage.”

    Percentages. Yeah. That was something Cal understood. “Pretty high,” he said.

    Crosby, head of maybe the oldest publishing house on the island of Manhattan, raised his grey eyebrows. “Pardon me?”

    “The percentage of truth,” Cal said. “It’s high.”

    Beyond the window, grey with dirt, the sun was going down over tall buildings. On the street, thirteen stories down, midtown traffic was kicking into high gear. The publisher turned his back on Cal, rolled his wooden chair to the wall, wiped a clean spot on the smudged glass. “Do you understand the word ‘empire’, Mr. Black?”

    “I failed history.”

    “All of this,” he gestured out the window, like a game show girl showing off a washing machine, “is part of something much bigger than itself. Shall we say, as a leaf on a tree is part of a much bigger thing. My father built part of this city. But he was a romantic. He believed in truth and morality and other propaganda fairytales.”

    Streaks of blood red light fell across the wooden floor. Cal sank deeper into his chair. “What do you believe in?”

    “Very little. “ Crosby turned back to his desk, folded his hands like he was ready to talk business. “I accepted your book because I don’t believe you solved those murders with,” he squinted at the floor, “what was the phrase you used, ‘gut hunches and whiskey dreams?’”

    “How do you think I did it?” Cal said.

    “I’m not sure,” Crosby said. “The first girl, I think you may have simply waited in the back of her car, then strangled her from behind.” He took off his glasses, wiped the lenses on the sleeve of his jacket. “The second one, you were probably in her house, waiting. When she came home, you gagged her, dragged her up to her bedroom, and spent the night doing things that – – ”

    Renee had scratched Cal’s face twice on the way upstairs. He’d made her pay for hurting him. “What do you want?” he said.

    “It’s fortunate that Mr. Harper, the man you caught, has already been put to death.” Shadows were stretching across the small office. “He may not have agreed with your account of things.”

    In the settling darkness, Cal said, “I asked you a question.”

    “What else would I want, Mr. Black? I publish books. I’m going to make you a bestseller, hold you up as a shining example of truth and justice.” He settled his glasses over his eyes. “Forgive the question. In my service to the Empire, I sometimes become curious about a man such as yourself. I wonder if he might be suited to join us.”

    “What do you pay?”

    “In the wider world, Mr. Black, money ceases to be an issue.”

    “I’m in the part of the globe where it still matters,” Cal said.

    “Of course you are.” Crosby nearly smiled. “Shall we make a deal, then?”

    Deals. That was something else Cal knew about. “Start talking to me.”


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