Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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18-Oct-2019

What if you put Snape and Hagrid together and then had that guy do a potion-making show?

“Hello all you aspiring potion masters. Welcome back. Today, as you can see, we’re in the equatorial rainforests of Yucwer, or Sumatra as the human population calls it. As I promised last week, we’re going to gather the last of the ingredients for our fear potion, which has been brewing for the past eighteen and a half days.”

“Oh look at that. I’ve not seen one of those in ages. A teal anaphalis javanica. The humans can only see the white and purple ones, but these are blooming and in rare form at the moment. I’m just going to nick a quick sample from the lower stem, because we can use that later in the month for our human repellent potion.”

“Alright. On to our destination. You can see the normal corpse flowers around us. The largest is over two meters tall, and they are just beginning to open up. The smell is pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as where we’re going. I’d have to say that on a scale from one dead body to ten, this one is about a four. Give this place a couple of days and it might ratchet up to a six.”

“The last time I was here we were hunting for a rare form of Teak, which we make items that can fly out of. Remember that? I almost got spirited away by an entire plant of the stuff before I realized that I was no longer tethered to the ground. Good times.”

“Oh my goodness. What a treat. If you look through the trees right over there, you can see a unicorn standing by the lake. Now, the creatures have come off of the endangered species list, but each one is protected by a tracking spell. If anyone besides a natural predator attacks one—and we all know what that is—they are instantly transported into a zoo and made to look like a monkey for the humans. The sentence lasts for six months, in which time you won’t see real food and will likely have poo thrown your way. See there? She’s headed away from where we’re going. Smart lass.”

“Alright, I knew I should have brought my flying soles, but instead decided to take the natural route. Mental note to me, next time I shall forego the natural experience.”

“Almost there. These things hide in the crags of these hillsides, which as I’ve mentioned before, look like a much larger mountain to the humans. I see several specimens that will work for our purposes. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?”

“As you can see, this first one is a monster. Over three meters tall, and the flower is wide enough to swallow me whole. They shoot this large, white tongue, disguised as a normal pistil, toward the sky in an attempt to entice insects and birds down into its petals. This one hasn’t started to smell too much. I’d give it a six out of ten dead bodies. We’re looking for at least an eight, so let’s carry on, shall we?”

“I’ve passed three more, and now stand before a full corpse flower. The pistil towers well more than a meter over my head, and I can clearly see several large birds being slowly digested through the stalk. I’ve used a swipe of smelling salve under my nose to keep the stench at bay. Before I used it, this thing was at a nine out of ten dead and rotting corpses. The excrement smell is also very strong, and that’s how we can tell we have a winner.”

“Notice how I’ve gone to the uphill side of the flower? While it is rare for even these true corpse flowers to attack a full-sized human, if it is feeling that it hasn’t stored enough for its hibernation phase, it will gladly digest a man or woman. Especially since the scent keeps most mammals away.”

“The next part is going to be tricky. We need a bit of the pistil for our potion. It won’t take much, but we’re going to have to be quick. I’ve brought a long rod complete with a set of jaws at the end and a little pouch that will store what I take. Once the flower finds that what has attacked it is inanimate, it should let the rod go. Let’s have a go, shall we?”

“Hold it steady. There we go. Now bite!”

“Oh, see? The pistil has retracted, and the petals sealed up. It’s spewing juices on the rod right now, but in a moment it will figure out that the rod won’t digest, so it will spit it out. Hopefully. Stay tuned.

“Ah ha! That took longer than I expected, but as you can see, I have the rod back and if we just…sure enough. There’s what I took with the jaws. This much of the pistil should make twenty or so batches of our fear potion, especially since I have a suspend potion that will keep it from rotting while I travel back.”

“If you’ve enjoyed today’s presentation, join my potions channel, The Most Sinister Potions in the Land and How to Make Them, and find out next week how to finish this project.”

“For now, cheers, happy potion making. Do dark things.”

***

Okay, so I pushed the crafting/cooking show a bit, but hey, I like it!

Genre – Cooking / Crafting Show

Random Object – Man-Eating Flower

Setting – Lake in the Mountains


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Top Ten Movie Musicals

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Movie Musicals have been around for a long time.

I’ve seen many, many musicals on stage, but if I haven’t seen (and liked) the movie version, you won’t find it on this list.

Also, there are no animated musicals on this list. Most of those ended up on the Top Ten Animated films.

There are a few where I like the movie version better than the stage version.

Movie Musicals!

10) My Fair Lady

The ending of this one has always rubbed me a little the wrong way, especially on stage where they have interpreted it many different ways, but there’s no getting around the stellar acting and stick-in-your-head songs!

9) Into the Woods

Not going to lie, the first time I saw this on stage I was mortified! What had they done to my beloved classics? Then I got a little older, learned more about life, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie version. The agony song is probably my favorite, although The Last Midnight is awesome.

8) White Christmas

This one is a classic for me. The hubby actually hates it, but I watched it growing up, and pull it out about once a year. Great songs, wonderful dancing and the sisters song is classic.

7) Enchanted

Just thinking about this one makes me smile. The rats cleaning her apartment. The huge dance number in the park. And the awesome twists and turns it takes to subvert the usual tropes. Love this one.

6) Newsies

The movie. Not the stage production. I like both, but I still like the movie better. I was pretty much in love with the entire cast of boys when I was in high school. Even now the Santa Fe song can get stuck in my head at random moments. Like now, for instance…

5) Phantom of the Opera

Yes, the stage production is generally better than the movie, but this movie really impressed me. First off, Minnie Driver’s diva scene is hilarious, and this show used the medium of film to improve on the original.  Unlike the Les Mis film that came out a few years ago. Plus, there’s not much that can beat the music.

4) The Greatest Showman

I still cry when I listen to most of the songs on this soundtrack. Awesome music. Great dancing. A modern masterpiece! Also, Hugh Jackman…

3) Mamma Mia

This one is just silly fun. Half of the men can’t even sing, but I don’t care because the show is so dang fun to watch and, I must admit, sing along to. I can’t pick a favorite song, because there are at least four.

2) Mary Poppins

Come on, what could beat the cartoon bits of this thirty years ago? Hmm? Nothing, that’s what. Plus, I love Julie Andrews. That woman can pretty much do anything.

1) The Sound of Music

See, Julie Andrews again! As a kid I remember watching this over two nights on television. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember they would cut it right after they got married, and then you had to wait a whole day to see the rest! I love the music and the story and the cast and everything. I’ve heard Christopher Plummer hated filming this movie, but he’s delightful.

Honorable Mentions:

The King and I

Love the music, the story is heart wrenching

Pitch Perfect

Not really a musical, but it’s close enough. This one can brighten my darkest days.

What did I miss?

What are your favorite movie musicals?


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11-Oct-2019

This is what big brothers are for.

“Do you want to see it?” Bobby asked.

Bobby’s little brother, Kyle, gave him a skeptical look and shook his head.

A quick look at the front seat showed that his parents were still talking to one another and not paying attention to the two boys. Bobby reached across the seat and held out a single, red, twenty-sided die. “It’s not going to hurt you. See?”

Kyle leaned away. “Mom!”

Bobby scowled and turned forward.

“What is it?” their mom asked as her eyes appeared in the mirror in the flap on the window. She looked at Bobby, expecting him to be torturing his little brother.

Before Kyle could spoil his plan, Bobby spoke. “It’s kind of hot back here. Can you open the windows?” He made his hand into a fist below the seat where his mom couldn’t see it and pounded it into his other palm.

Kyle gulped, then nodded. “Yeah. It’s hot.”

“You got it, guys,” their dad said in his usual, chipper tone.

The van windows cracked a few inches each, and suddenly Bobby’s shaggy, blond hair was whipping everywhere. “Thank you,” he said. When his parents went back to talking, he turned to Kyle. Apparently he was going to have to be more drastic. “You’re such a chicken.”

“Am not.” Kyle pouted.

“Are so. You won’t even touch this.” Bobby rolled the die around in his fingers. The light glinted off the surface and seemed to make the inside glow.

“I don’t want to.” Kyle folded his arms across his chest.

He wanted to. Bobby could tell, because Kyle’s eyes kept drifting to his hand.

“You’re not even curious if the legends are true?” Bobby glanced up to make sure his parents weren’t watching. They weren’t. Actually, opening the windows had provided enough background noise to keep his voice masked.

“I don’t care.” Kyle turned his head away this time to look out his side.

“Come on. I spent all summer looking for this, but you have to toss it out.”

“Do not.”

“If you don’t do it then it won’t work.”

Kyle finally turned back to Bobby. A hint of anger filled his voice. “I said I don’t care. It’s stupid. It probably wouldn’t work anyway.”

“We won’t know unless we try.”

Kyle glared. “I won’t do it.”

“Fine.” Bobby sighed. “I guess I’ll just keep this thing and always wonder that if we would have rolled a twenty if a dragon would have appeared.”

“Dragons aren’t real,” Kyle said.

“Who told you that?”

“Mom.”

“Grown-ups have to tell kids that. It’s like a law or something.” Bobby infused his voice with as much adult-ness as he could.

“You’re lying.”

“You’ll never find out.” Bobby tossed the die a few inches then caught it.

Kyle glanced at his mom then back to Bobby. “Why haven’t I ever seen one?”

“Because, you have to roll a twenty on a die just like this while you’re riding in a car on a road trip. That’s the only time the youngest member of a family can call a dragon, and the only time the dragon will bond with you.” They’d been watching dragon movies for a few weeks. He knew Kyle would try this, if he could convince his little brother that it would work.

“You’re making it up.”

“I tried once.”

That got Kyle’s attention.

“Uncle Drake told me about it, found a die and I rolled it out the window.”

“When?” Kyle scowled.

“On our way to grandma’s.”

“And?” Kyle couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice.

Bobby shrugged. “I must not have rolled a twenty, because nothing happened.”

“That’s because it’s dumb.” Kyle let out a huff.

This was Bobby’s chance. He leaned over and spoke so soft that Kyle had to lean in to hear him. “I probably rolled a nineteen, because I did see a dragon.”

Kyle’s eyes narrowed. “You didn’t.”

“I did. In the sky. Behind us. Mom and dad couldn’t see it, but Uncle Drake did.”

“He didn’t.”

Bobby folded his arms. “You ask him. He’ll tell you.” Then Bobby narrowed his eyes. “Then you were born and I wasn’t the youngest anymore.”

Kyle’s eyes were now wide.

“You sure you don’t want to try?” Bobby held up the die again.

Kyle tracked the object with his gaze. He licked his lips.

Bobby held it out, below the seat so his parents wouldn’t see. “It has to be a secret.”

Kyle looked at the die, licked his lips again, then slowly reached out and took it from Bobby’s fingers.

Bobby held his breath as Kyle studied the die.

“All you have to do is throw it out the window.” Bobby’s heart was beating fast. He tried very hard not to smile. “Do it.”

Kyle gathered his courage, sat up, glanced at his mom once, then threw the die through the opening at the top of the window.

“Wahoo!” Bobby let out a holler.

His dad’s eyes looked at them in the rear view mirror. “Did he do it?”

A grin tugged Kyle’s lips. “He totally did it.”

“I didn’t do anything!” Kyle shouted.

Bobby and his dad laughed. “Good job, Bobby.” He checked his watch. “That may be the fastest time ever.”

“Thanks.”

Kyle glared between them. “What is this?”

“Just a little thing we do on your first road trip after you turn seven.” Their dad smiled. “You owe me a new die.”

Red climbed up Kyle’s cheeks. “Do not.”

Bobby laughed. “Do too.”

***

That made me laugh. I don’t have brothers, but I can totally see this happening in my husband’s family.

Genre – Tall Tale

Random Object – Dice

Setting – Road Trip


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An Anthology of Cursed Antiques

Are you a fan of spooky stories?

What about antique shops?

Have you ever wondered about the story of the treasures you find?

You might wish you hadn’t!

This anthology of cursed objects will sent shivers up your spine while you chuckle to hide your discomfort.

Get into the Halloween spirit and order your copy today!

My story is about an antique Italian chair with some serious morality issues.

Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

If you’re an Audible fan, stay tuned. The audio book should be up soon!

If you’re looking for more horror, check out the other two anthologies I’m in!


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