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Copyright © 2004 Coltrane Productions.
All rights reserved.
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Mona Lisa's 1,000 Words
Three friends, and an old car.
Loose Ends captures the teenage years not as a remembrance of times past but rather in the raw: a collection of one teen's essays, papers, short stories, and other writings.
Youth. Adventure. Life.
Loose Ends captures it as it was -- the tedious and the exciting, the silliness and the seriousness.
Growing up, unedited by the fog of distant memory.
Take a look back. Laugh, cringe, roll your eyes.
Take a look back through these Loose Ends.
We asked the author of Loose Ends to explain what the heck it is. His response:
At last, it's here!
I know my fans have been waiting on the edge of their seats for a compilation
of my pre-college work. Just dying to get a glimpse of this writer's foundations.
Hoping to scrutinize the formative years.
Ha ha! Whatever.
I can't think of anyone who looks back at their high school papers and
says, "Boy, I sure wish I could write like that again." No. Doesn't happen.
Writing is one of the few skills in life which is virtually certain to improve with
practice. A really prolific writer can look at something from two years ago and
mutter, "What the heck was that all about?" Going back 10 years can be almost
painful to read.
Nevertheless, I am glad I kept most of my stuff (mainly thanks to the wizardry
of computers). It's been quite amusing to sift through old file folders,
notebooks, and computer data, seeing what made the cut for the "keeper" pile
and guessing at what may have fallen through the cracks. I know there is more
material out there somewhere. I haven't found everything —- I probably never
Brian F. Schreurs
Front and back cover art by Eric Cheng
When you read papers long since written and forgotten, you are prone to
reminisce a little. I got to thinking about what I learned in high school about
writing. Some of these lessons included:
- "Freedom of Speech" does not mean that you can write about anything
you want in your homework.
- Never write anything in an essay that you don't want to share with
the assistant principal.
- Everything worth writing about can be summed up in an intro, a
conclusion, and three body paragraphs. If you need more space, make
really big paragraphs.
My parents got to read a lot of my papers back then. I often expressed
discontent with my assignments by subtly ridiculing the subject even as I wrote
about it. It was rarely subtle enough, though, so often a quick parent-teacher
phone call would have me rewriting essays again.
I don't know what they were so bent out of shape about. At least I wrote
one. When a close friend of mine didn't like an assignment, he didn't do it. On
at least one occasion not only did he not do the assignment, but instead he
wrote a lengthy poem bemoaning the stupidity of making the assignment to
begin with. To this gentleman, now successfully milking Silicon Valley, I tip
Rereading this body of work also reveals how much I have personally
changed. I disagree with the views in many of these papers. I laugh at a few of
them. But by saving them, I have captured a moment of my youth. Whether
insightful or naïve, there it is, and no rose-colored glasses or 20/20 hindsight
can change the way I was or what I said.
That's what really makes this compilation so special.
Annotated Table of Contents
- "Mr. Perry and Dr. Freddy"
- A story about a man, his cat, and the calamities that ensue.
- "Treaty of Peace and Goodwill"
- Apparently, two Legoland kingdoms required a peace treaty. Sigh.
- Most people tend to assume that alligators and crocodiles are the only types of crocodilians still alive. That's not true. There are several varieties, and this little report addressed the habitat and habits of them all.
- "The Wizard"
- A script to a humorous stand-up sketch for a talent show, involving a bumbling wizard and his magical pot.
- "Simulating a Chemical Reaction"
- Proving, as science projects for generations have proven, that if you have to do a science project, it pays to have an engineer for a dad. This one involved making some sort of chemical reaction simulator for the computer, and frankly, I still don't completely understand it. Dad thinks it's great though.
- "Khisanth's View of the Conquer of the Mayans"
- The Mayan Indians got clobbered when the Spanish invaded. This research paper takes a look at the process of the conquest from the point of view of a third-party observer: a jaguar that had been enjoying the fruits of human sacrifice. EXCERPT
- "Fenceball Rules"
- My friends and I invented a new sport called fenceball. It's derived from playing a sort of soccer-kickball-dodgeball thing in a fenced-in tennis court. Its most important rule is a prohibition on elephant jokes. I'm still waiting for a pro league to form.
- "Energizing Competition Between Batteries"
- Everybody knows the kid who tested batteries for his science project. But this kid, remember, has an engineer-dad, and we set up a slow-discharge circuit with a voltmeter and a timer wired in and a camcorder with extended-record mode to tape the entire discharge. Then we made graphs and stuff. This is the definitive report on late-1980s battery technology.
- "A Friendly Little War"
- A friend and I declared war on each other, with treaties and everything. It was weird.
- "Examination Day"
- This script is an adaptation for television of a short science fiction story about a child faced with his government screening.
- "Does Maryland Murder?"
- I take a stab at the thorny issue of capital punishment.
- "Love and Ale: An Adaptation"
- A script adapting most of a short story to be performed as a play. In it, a magical beverage causes the patrons of an inn to fall in love with one another.
- "The Heroics of Odysseus"
- This essay examines how Homer's Odysseus represents the "hero".
- "The Automobile Duesie: The Duesenberg"
- Through a narrative, this research piece examines life in the early days of the automobile. EXCERPT
- "Archmage, New York"
- A jumping-off story, where one takes familiar characters and places them in an unfamiliar environment. In this case, I transport an evil sorceror to New York City.
- "Ze Zience Pakket"
- We had to do these stupid papers where, basically we summarized the textbook. In this one, I attempt to inject some humor in the otherwise odious reading.
- "The Automobile Effect of the Transportation System"
- The concept of transportation and the size of our world changed forever with the advent of mass-produced automobiles. This research paper examines some of the long-lasting effects on the modern transportation system.
- "A Day in the Life of Two Vietnam Soldiers"
- Sometimes the young mind wanders to strange places.
- "A Group Psychosis"
- Sorry, this TV sketch is brilliant, and if you can't appreciate this Falk/Schreurs/Scott collaborative effort, then you suck. EXCERPT
- "A Proposal for the Superlicense"
- Not all drivers are equal. Not all cars are equal. Not all roads are equal. Why are all driver's licenses equal? This essay examines the criteria that could be established to allow a high-speed driver's license.
- "A Page About the Library"
- My first job with a paycheck was to shelve library books. As a book relocation engineer -- a.k.a. library page -- I accumulated a few odd stories. This piece is an attempt to relate some of them.
- "City School"
- The town I lived in, now a cookie-cutter suburb, was once mostly still farms. This essay addresses some of the differences between where I lived and where I went to school.
- "Test for the Citizenship of the United States of America"
- Think of this as the precursor to all those silly internet quizzes you see these days.
- "White Lightning"
- So I wrote an essay in praise of my 1970 Dodge Charger. They make whole magazines full of this stuff.
- Imagine a powerful sports car turned intelligent through a freakishly powerful engine computer, and that the car as an insatiable appetite for racing. Imagine being the driver of that car... EXCERPT
- "Ye Olde Honorable Lordly Package of Sciences"
- Another attempt at lightening up a dreary textbook summary.
- This is a short piece speculating on the evolution of a fictitious animal.
- Impossible to summarize really.
- "The Mark"
- Another short piece reflecting on the burden of a physical scar.
- "Holy Joe's Wilderness Safari"
- A lighthearted attempt at a dormitory inspection report.
- "A Question of Sorts"
- When are living things property?
- "Thirty Years"
- This short story takes perhaps a slightly extreme look at the problems of urban sprawl.
- "Nerkweed Slaves"
- Answering the question of what alien tourists might think of our tobacco habit.
- "A Word Problem"
- I always hated math. Still do. This little number pokes fun at the dread word problem.
- "The Stamix Carburetor"
- For a science fair project I devised (with the help of Engineer Dad) an attachment for a single-barrel carburetor that markedly improved fuel economy. I would have kept developing it too, but budget cuts turned science fair projects into optional assignments instead of mandatory work. This is the final report on my design.
- "One Fine Millennium in the Astral Plane"
- Answering once and for all the origins of poison ivy and grape gelatin.
- "The Plague: A Most Absurd Man"
- In this essay I draw parallels between Albert Camus' The Plague and the myth of Sisyphus.
- "Why Do We Always Insist on Keeping Memoirs?"
- An inveterate pack rat muses briefly on the nature of the breed.
- "The Crab and the Starfish"
- Using seafood as an allegory for the Cold War! Of course! It was strange times.
- "Chapter One Hundred Eleven"
- This bit of satire uses a chapter from Winnie the Pooh to skewer the Bush/Quayle administration. EXCERPT
- "The Pantheon of Randiss"
- For fantasy gamers, here's a ready-made set of false gods for you.
- "Henry Lancaster for President"
- Suppose kings had to run for office. What would that be like?
- "No Bounds to Love"
- Cheesy, cheesy, a silly little allegory about people in love. Pass the cheese.
- "The Fiery Reign of Quench"
- This is a ready-made adventure for fantasy gamers, featuring a fire giant named Quench. My favorite bit is the Kool Golem. You don't get that in Third Edition!
- "The Greatest Modest Proposal In the World"
- In the tradition of James Joyce's "Modest Proposal", I outline the benefits of cutting down all the trees on the planet. EXCERPT
- "Lifestyles in Nazi Germany"
- This essay attempts to piece together what life might have been like during the Third Reich.
- "The Black Knight of Drekmoor"
- Printed for the first time, this epic story of swords and sorcery and feminine charm is sure to leave the reader clamoring for more. EXCERPT
- "The Navy Blue Knight of Drekmoor"
- Couldn't resist. Wrote a parody of my own stuff.