Category: Comic PIeces

Non-book related posts.

The Unbearable Secrecy of Blowdryers

The Unbearable Secrecy of Blowdryers

The Scavenger Hunt in Good Hotels

On a business trip a few years ago, I checked into a very nice hotel in Manhattan. Having experienced the myriad ways that hotels typically hide the loathsome blowdryer from our sensitive eyes, I searched the room up and down in the usual places. The dreaded object was not to be found. I surrendered to their deviousness, and called Housekeeping. This is what I was told:

“On the upper shelf of the closet, next to the blankets, is a brown wicker box. Inside the box is a quadratic equation. The solution to the equation is a four-digit number. This number opens up a safe underneath the picture above the desk. Inside the safe is a single sheet of paper with two riddles; each riddle has a one-word answer.

Either word will, when spoken aloud, open a secret compartment in the bathroom that contains the blowdryer.” I followed these instructions to the letter. Having failed algebra, I called a friend who solved the equation in five minutes. Anticipating a quick victory, I opened the safe to find the paper with the riddles. 

Both riddles, however, were written in a language I assumed to be Welsh, since the only letters that appeared were “w”, “l”, “y”, “c” and “h”. I DID NOT admit defeat. I spun up the Google “Welsh to English” translator and typed in the first riddle. At this point, Google spun for a while and then told me to go f–k myself.

That night, I air dried my hair. You win this time, Luxury Hotel!

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My Atlas Obscura Writing Challenge Entry:

My Atlas Obscura Writing Challenge Entry:

Pen a Story Based on an Intriguing First Line

I chose the first line from “Cat Island“, a story about Japan’s Tashirojima Island, where cats are king. 


On the island of Tashirojima in the Miyagi Prefecture, the cats outnumber people, and the people like it that way. But on the other side of the world, there’s a small village where the people are outnumbered by a herd of vicious, bloodthirsty alpacas, and no one goes outside during the new moon.

On a small island in the Pacific Ocean, the residents cower in fear as massive casts of crabs take over their dwellings twice a month. The crabs lie in bed, waiting for the people to bring them large baskets of fish, barnacles, plants, snails, shrimp, and worms. Only after they are satiated do the invaders return to the sea.

In a part of one of Switzerland’s cantons, which I have agreed not to name, the population stays at home every other Tuesday between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. when the marmots and snow voles invade the town and devour everything in their path.

It’s hard to estimate the number of places where the people are outnumbered by local fauna; and there are those who swear that revealing the secret will bring on further attacks. I talked to a man would not reveal his birthplace, but shared the terrifying story of the dingoes who…well, it’s safe to say you’ve seen the movie and according to him “Doesn’t know it by ‘arf”.

No one knows why these people suffer such tribulations, while others get along famously with their resident species. Scientists have been studying them for years, and some have also fallen victim to this phenomenon. A graduate student on one of the south Antarctic islands disappeared, having ignored his team’s warnings about the massive waddles of bitter, vengeful penguins who emerge when the temperature hits 11°C and take their toll.

On the island of Tashirojima in the Miyagi Prefecture, the cats outnumber people, and the people like it that way. I hope this continues, but to prepare for the inevitable day when the cats turn on them would not go amiss.

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