Musings from the basement...

14 Seconds: Short Fiction

14 seconds of oxygen left. She pulled at the airlock handle again. It wouldn’t budge. She could feel the heat of the flames behind her and the ringing of the damned klaxon was boring into her skull and the handle wouldn’t budge, because of course it wouldn’t, and the klaxon wouldn’t shup up. 13 seconds of oxygen left. When she was 12, she wanted to ride horses. She knew it was a cliché even then, but it didn’t deter her. She wasn’t the princess type, she didn’t dream of elegant gowns and fancy ballrooms and Prince Charmings, but horses? Absolutely. The more horses the better. Not riding side saddle with a stiff back and “proper” air, though. That wasn’t her. She wanted to ride horses…
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The Girl and the Dog: Fiction Fragment

She reached down for the water bottle at her side, remembered it was empty only when she brought to her lips, sighed, and hung her head. “I should have stayed in the city.” She knew she was wrong about that, of course. The city is where it all started. Things were still bad there. And the smell? She didn’t want to think about the smell. But at least she knew what to do in the city. What abandoned stores to search, which apartments had storerooms others might now know about, what neighborhoods were left at least somewhat intact after the Event. She could find something to eat there. Something to drink. A place to sleep. Hell is other people, though, as someone once said. However…
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Sign me up for this Father’s Day beer box, please!

I’ve followed the craft beer world for a lot of years, as a former beer columnist for the Philadelphia Weekly, a writer for HomeBrew Talk, and just plain as an enthusiast for varied taste experiences. Over the years, I’ve encountered many beer gift boxes and/or monthly beer clubs. You know the ones I’m talking about. Seemingly random mix packs at your local beer shop, or Beer of the Month clubs that send you an array of beers in the mail each month. To be frank, most of the time these mix packs are kind of awful. The beers are often old, the selections are lousy (and are likely made up of overstock rather than by choice made by discerning craft beer geeks), and they’re just…
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28 Songs that Changed My Life: Aretha Franklin, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (10 of 28)

Penned by the incredible Carole King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, this is one of those old classics that I’d have scoffed at in my youth. Too much shmaltz, too much romance, too much like the music my mother liked. I wanted something edgy and challenging, right? But a funny thing happened on the way to adulthood: One day I found a cassette of Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits. I have no recollection of where it came from or where I got it, but in a fit of boredom and curiosity, I gave it a spin and decided to pretend I was into it. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: That voice. That voice. WOW. How had I not sat up and paid…
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28 Songs that Changed My Life: Miles Davis, “So What” (9 of 28)

It would be hard to overstate the impact Miles Davis has had on me, my taste in music, and how I approach music in general. His relentless experimentation, his drive to forge his own path, and the plain ol’ fact that his work is FANTASTIC have ingrained themselves into my life in a deep way. It all started with “So What,” the opening track from his legendary Kind of Blue record, arguably the greatest jazz record of all time. When someone wants to get into instrumental jazz, I always recommend they start here. Listen for the aspects you like — the tinkling piano, the roaring sax solos, the meandering pace — then go check out the artists responsible for those elements (Bill Evans, John Coltrane,…
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