Clam Eating a Lolipop

1 Oct

One-hundred words for Friday Fictioneers based on this week’s photo prompt, shown below, graciously supplied by Kent Bonham.  Titles are an art form, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and agents are a necessary evil. Don’t neglect the former, remember the middle and never antagonize the latter.


Ick on a Stick

Clam Eating a Lolipop


“Don’t demean yourself. In our world there are certain things one just does not do. I refuse to be a party to it.”

I stare at my latest piece of pretentious bullshit, nicely framed on the gallery wall, and try to think of something that will satisfy my agent. Soliloquy in Sand 47, perhaps?

“I think my choice of title is rather distinctive.”

“My dear, I make my living, and yours too, I might add, by elevating art and artists. Don’t throw away your present success on such frivolity.”


“How about Ick on a Stick?”


64 Responses to “Clam Eating a Lolipop”

  1. rochellewisoff October 1, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Dear Doug,

    I had an art teacher in high school who told us that no one could define art. Then, less than a week later he looked over a student’s shoulder at his painting and said, “That’s not art.” Go figure.

    It seems that the “artist” in your story has a pretty good handle on who he is and what he’s really about. It’s all about marketing, isn’t it?

    Ick on a stick? My thoughts exactly. What is that thing really?

    As always, your writing is concise, sharply honest and entertaining. When you choose to write humor, you do it well.



    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Dear Rochelle,

      I’m with that art teacher every time someone tries to tell me about the redeeming features of rap ‘music’. Marketing, you’re right. There’s a career I might have flourished in. What is a commercial other than really good (or bad) flash fiction.

      Humor? That’s not humor.

      Thank you for your thoughts. They are always welcome and I appreciate you taking the time to share them.



  2. Snow's Fissures and Fractures October 1, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Well written story, great flow of words and a very nice rhythm. As for the “pretentious bullshit”, I would say it’s overflowing. But I suspect that’s what many people said when describing contemporary art. Even Monet was considered a “pretentious bullshit”, so there’s hope yet for Ick on da stick.

    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      Dear Lore,

      Thanks for the kind comments re flow and rhythm. I dislike serving up stories that go clank, clank as the clatter to their conclusion. I think my artist was having an attack of conscience…and you’re right about art. IN one season, out the next, but the real cream always seems to rise to the top over the years.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  3. The Writer's Village October 1, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I like your choice of subject matter, sir.
    It seems that great artistic minds have painted flourishing but measured strokes in similar directions as you will see in my entry this week.

    Fun piece. Randy

    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      Dear Randy,

      A case of great minds thinning alike? Can’t wait to weigh in on your canvas. Thanks for doing the same for mine.



  4. Claire Fuller October 1, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Sounds to me that the agent has an English accent, I don’t know why. But this was a great little story, and a perfect last line. I wonder if Kent will tell us what it really is.

    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

      Dear Claire,

      I hadn’t thought of a nationality, but wherever the agent is from, they are defending their turf. Thank you for telling me that you liked the story. I’m willing to bet that whatever Kent tells us that thing is, he’s making it up. Great fodder for flash fiction, wasn’t it?



      • wmqcolby October 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

        I just take ’em, I don’t make ’em.

  5. Sandra October 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Ick on a stick, yuck in a book. There’ll always be someone willing to elevate it to an art form, sadly. And no end of willing contenders … I like the sound of your artist. Not his agent though… Good stuff.

    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Still and all, I think I want an agent like that. At least until all of my books can be picked up at swap meets for a song. Thanks for dropping by.



  6. wmqcolby October 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Ick On A Stick?

    Behold! The Queen approacheth with her spanking spoon for misappropriation of her term! RUNNETH!

    I’d have called it “Oyster in Marlboro Country.” All that’s missing is the cowboy hat and the horse.

    I have a feeling you and Russell will be channeling each other this week. We’ll see.

    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Dear Kent,

      I think your picture was perfect and I did hijack the queen’s description…for the good, I hope. Thanks for the prompt and for reading and commenting.



      • rochellewisoff October 2, 2014 at 12:44 am #

        The queen is amused. Glop in the sidewalk? Yucker sucker? You have my blessings and I dub thee Sir Douglas of the Writing Table.

        Yay verily and shalometh.

  7. Sorchia D October 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    “Eye of the beholder” and all that. Your artist seems self aware though the agent does have a point. This prompt is certainly a weird one.

    • dmmacilroy October 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      Dear Sorchia,

      Definitely! Both of my characters have good points of view. And yes to weird, but that’s what makes it so challenging, right. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  8. lingeringvisions by Dawn October 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    Ick on a Stick is an awesome title but perhaps more-so for a modern art gallery 😉

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 2, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Dear Dawn,

      I should have been a gallery owner. Titles come easily to me. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  9. aliciajamtaas October 1, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Thanks for the smile! I love both titles for a piece of (questionable) art. Well done, Doug, well done.

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 2, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Dear Alicia,

      I loved your story this week. Thanks for stopping by mine.



  10. elmowrites October 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Love the artist’s self-awareness and sense of humour; and how you contrast it with the stuffy agent. Good stuff with a hard prompt!

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 2, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Dear Jennifer,

      The harder ones usually elicit humor from me, probably because I’m laughing at myself and saying, “What the heck am I going to write for this one?”

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  11. waitingforaname October 1, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Thanks for the smile. I got a sense of the artist’s weariness with the agent’s pretentiousness – and maybe the agent is a little weary of it, too?

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 2, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Dear Lisa,

      And you’re either on one side of it or the other, right? Thanks for reading and commenting. I loved your story this week. You have quite a voice.



      • waitingforaname October 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

        Thanks, Doug. As for being on one side or the other, there seems to be the third option of being in the middle – aware of the game, but playing all the same.

  12. i b arora October 2, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    good, witty too

  13. margirene October 2, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    A good story, Doug. I like the dynamics beetween the two characters. I’ve wondered why visual art seems to engender such pretentiousness and snobbery. Your story gets to the heart of this really well.

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 2, 2014 at 11:08 am #

      Dear Marg,

      It’s probably that some ‘art’ really is just bunch of crap in a good frame and of course the galleries have a vested interest in convincing the public otherwise. Like Haute Couture. Some of it is just garbage, but because the price tag is ten thousand dollars, some knucklehead is going to buy it and brag about it. Not my world, but it’s fun to watch. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  14. El Guapo October 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Having gone to exhibits where Clam Eating Lollipop would have been a featured piece, I thoroughly enjoyed their conversation.

    (I think I’ll name my next bar Ick on a Stick.)

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      Dear Handsome One,

      You sound like Ben or Jerry thinking up their next creation. How many bars do you have?



  15. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) October 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Ha.. indeed the title is part of the art.. (that’s what so great with it).. but it can seem pretentious from time to time… Ick on a stick will probably not take you to the highest price range.. 🙂

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      Dear Bjorn,

      I think they’ll end up settling for the Soliloquy tag. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  16. draliman October 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Brilliant, very amusing!
    Sometimes the choice of title for my FF submission takes longer to think up than the actual story 🙂

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Dear Draliman,

      I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for perusing my story.



  17. shanx October 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Liked the title and the views. Great take on prompt 🙂

  18. plaridel October 2, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    i agree that naming a painting is in itself an art form. it should be chosen with care as the tints and colors used in the painting. that being said, love on the stick maybe a better sell. 🙂

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:08 am #

      Dear Plaridel,

      Kent might want to consider framing a large format version of his photo and calling it several of the names we’ve seen in all of the stories and then try to sell it to some Kansas City art galleries. He could blog about the response he gets. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  19. wildbilbo October 3, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    ‘Soliloquy in Sand 47’ is a great name for art by the way.

    Nicely done.

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      Dear Sir,

      I thought so, too. Too bad its Kent’s picture. i could make a fortune.



  20. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) October 3, 2014 at 4:39 am #

    Ick on a stick – I like that! Yes, it’s pretentious bullshit, but I do like the background. Maybe it is art!

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      Dear Perry,

      Eye of the ick-holder, I suppose. Thanks for dropping by.



  21. Bastet October 3, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    Loved your story … and couldn’t decide if I favoured the agent or the artist as I’m not overly fond of “Ick on the Stick” art 🙂 but I loved how you wrote the story and in the end could sympathize with both.

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Dear Bastet,

      They each had their points, didn’t they. I did try to make sure that each POV came through without an apparent bias. Thanks for noticing.



      • Bastet October 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

        Dear Doug … you got both across very well, I do admire how you were able to do this in just 100 words making the story so convincing and unbiased. Ciao, Georgia.

  22. Sarah Potter Writes October 3, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Great dig at pretension there. Well written.
    I never take part in a guided tour of art galleries or museums, because I prefer to make my own interpretations of the art, although some of it is lost on me as I’ve seen better art from six-year-olds.

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Dear Sarah,

      You are wise beyond your years. So are some six-year-olds. I’ll look for you next time I’m in the museum. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  23. patrickprinsloo October 3, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    That’s the (f)art world in a nutshell. Great comment.

  24. rgayer55 October 3, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    I once visited the museum of modern art in Chicago. It amazes me the “ick” that passes for art. The people who fall for that marketing are the real suckers. I wish I could figure out how to get them all to buy a copy of my book 🙂

    • Douglas MacIlroy October 3, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Dear Russell,

      Jump the White House fence with a couple of copies and knock over a few secret service agents on your way to that press conference room in the East Wing. CNN will take it from there.



  25. Alice Audrey October 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    But I LIKE Clam Eating Lollipop. Then again, Ick on a Stick is pretty good, too.

  26. K.Z. October 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    lol “Ick on a stick” exactly. but “Soliloquy in Sand 47”, ah, i bet people would purchase that nasty thing simply because the title’s just too damn good. clever piece.

  27. MissTiffany October 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    I have to say, Clam Eating A Lollipop speaks to me. And I have to wonder: is he enjoying it?
    People will be some strange things if you call it “art.” I think this artist has no worries. Especially if he’s well enough off to have to worry about his agent…

  28. storydivamg October 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    “Clam on a Stick” actually popped into my mind as I was working on a story to tell this week. I’m with the agent on this one though–a title like that isn’t going to excite the art collectors. Personally, I love Kent’s photo this week. I’m sure we’re going to be treated to plenty of tasty lollies!

    Good story, good advice. Keep up the good work.

    All my best,
    MG (not Morris’ Garage–at least not this week–so, guess again)

  29. Nan Falkner October 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Dear Doug, Fantastic humor in this. I have never understood how 3 Campbell Soup Cans could be art – are they crazy or what? But, Art is in the Eyes of the Beholder for sure! Just as music is to the ears. Great story and I love “Ick on a Stick” You are so very, very clever!

  30. Amy Reese October 4, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    I loved the titles he came up with. Who knows? His piece could have been a top seller with that branding. The agent high sounds pretty high and mighty, and probably difficult to please no matter what. Ingenious take as we’re all guessing what the heck this thing is. Let’s just call it art.

  31. MythRider October 4, 2014 at 2:49 pm #


    Sometimes the creative one must follow their heart to get at the genius of their talent.
    I like the conflict of the two.


  32. hafong October 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    I nominate you for the best lollypop story. 🙂


  33. talesfromthemotherland October 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    The dialogue here is so sharp and clever, Doug. I love that this artist knows his own groove, knows his worth, but the banter adds a wonderful layer of color to the story. Nice job!

  34. Dreamer of Dreams October 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    Loved it, just loved it! The comments were brilliant, too.
    You are spot on with “Ick on a stick,” and “Clam eating a Lollipop.”
    I offer you these Wildean pearls of wisdom about art:

    “The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

    All art is quite useless.”


  35. Sarah Ann October 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Ick on a Stick is a fabulous title, but Soliloquy in Sand is something I’d expect to see. I am one of those old-fashioned types that likes art to speak for itself – title or no. I’m inclined to say if the agent doesn’t like it, then she should do a bit more work and come up with one herself. (I might be wrong in sensing she’s a woman of course, but there’s something in her voice pushing me that way.)

  36. kirizar October 12, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    HAH. I just came from the somewhat pretentious Art Prize exhibition in my hometown. Yours is a refreshing take on that sometimes overwrought subject.

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