Thursday, February 28, 2008

55 Flash Fiction Friday - 2/29/08

Another celebrity just died
They drop like flies it seems
Pills to wake up and pills to lie down
Drug induced sleep without dreams

It seems the life of the privileged
Is not much of a life at all
From a place at the top of the world
It is a long way to fall

Totally Optional Prompts - 2/28/08

I thought I would try this site once. This is the first thing that came to mind:

He lacks focus and direction
Inattentive and rebellious
Jumps from task to task
Rowdy and overzealous

He’s disruptive and nonconforming
Insubordinate and defiant
Fidgety and uncentered
Disobedient and noncompliant

There is nothing we can do
To make this boy behave
We’ve exhausted our resources
The situation’s grave

Fortunately Concerta and Prozac
Are available to prescribe
And Lithium and Adderall
May create a more positive vibe

How fortunate is the world
Panacea did not always exist
Or our entire human history
Would have a different twist

Had Da Vinci’s brilliance
Been stifled and denied
Or Edison drugged into a stupor
Constantly glassy-eyed

Had Einstein been blasted
Into a euphoric state
And Mozart over-medicated
With no desire to create

John Grisham was another
Who was hyperactive in school
And the great Sir Isaac Newton
Was thought to be a fool

I think that often genius
Is mistaken for ADHD
Different drummers are not allowed
In our structured society

And as a substitute for parenting
Tough love and discipline
We are too quick to label
And give a dose of Ritalin

I know that some kids suffer
And need help of a chemical sort
But zapping kids into zombies
Should not be a first resort

And if there existed Dexedrine
When I was just a lad
These words would not be written
That could be good or bad

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday 13 - Favorite Movies - 2/27/08

My thirteen favorite movies of all time or at least the first ones that come to mind. No particular order, just as I think about them: If a film has a sequel it will only be listed once even if I loved the sequels too, like Lethal Weapon. I am pretty much talking here about entertainment value, not masterpieces. I loved African Queen, Casablanca, and Citizen Kane, but they aren’t going to make the list. I am only going back a number of years. Hey, I gotta put limitations on this to get it down to 13. There are also no chick flicks here but I do like some of those too. I think that Love, Actually is one of the best ever. If that is truly a chick flick. I have also included a clip from each movie. If you want to view them hit pause on my jukebox or you will drive yourself nuts.

1) My Cousin Vinny

2) Field of Dreams

3) Shawshank Redemption

4) Silence of the Lambs

5) Fargo

6) Slingblade

7) A Fish Called Wanda

8) Jaws

9) Terminator

10) The Unforgiven

11) Rain Man

12) A Few Good Men

13) Pulp Fiction

Three Word Wednesday - distant apology consider - 2/27/08

The prompts this week were distant, apology, and consider. I have no idea why it led to this:

The two photos he could see from his recliner were taken fifty years apart. The first was of their wedding, shortly after he came back from the Pacific at the end of World War II. Every time he looked at it he was amazed at how young they were and particularly how beautiful she was.

It was such a distant memory that it almost seemed as though he was looking at someone else. Yet, in other ways it was only yesterday, the pages of the calendar falling off the wall much too fast and accelerating with age.

The second was taken several years ago at their 50th anniversary party. He thought, had it really been twelve years ago? She was still so beautiful and so happy.

It was shortly after that when the disease began. It came slowly at first. She would forget to turn the stove off, lose her purse, or make a wrong turn driving home. A wrong turn on a road she had driven nearly every day for over sixty years. At first he teased her about it but he could see the change in her. She would become preoccupied and confused. She had always been a shrewd and crafty opponent at Scrabble or gin rummy. But gradually they discontinued playing. He could see the fear in her eyes, followed by anger, that she could not focus.

Then the first real terror came the first time she did not recognize him. It began as a momentary lapse and became more frequent and of longer duration as the months passed. They went together to see a specialist. His diagnosis confirmed what they already knew. Treatment was available but ineffective in most cases. The deterioration would continue. The bottom line was that as the disease progressed, they should consider either in-home care or moving her to an “adult care facility”. At his age, he would not be able to provide the care that she would require. The doctor asked about children. They had two, both in their sixties. They both lived clear across the country and could really provide no help. They had their own lives, medical problems, children, and grandchildren. He knew, that their pensions and social security were sufficient to provide them a comfortable life, but there was no money for buying the kind of care she would need.

He had provided loving care for as long as he could. Through the heartbreak of watching his best friend become a stranger, he persevered. But, as promised, the symptoms of the illness continued to progress. It seemed like it was worse every day. Her once intelligent blue eyes were nearly colorless and vacant. It was not just her mind, but her body deteriorated to a shell. She could no longer control her bowels or emotions. He was not certain which left a bigger mess.

As he sat in the recliner, trying to summon the courage to dial 911, he could not bring himself to apologize for holding the pillow over her face as she slept. Perhaps realizing that her misery was at an end, there was only a feeble struggle as he heard the sounds of her last, labored breath. He kissed her a tender, final goodbye and as he stumbled through his tears into the living room, his pain was tempered by relief that their shared torment was at an end.

The smiles of the couple in the gold-framed photos were what he would remember. Of all the photos that adorned their home, of grandchildren and great grandchildren, of beloved pets……..these were her two favorites. And though he never admitted it to her, they were his favorites too.

This piece was rewritten  and entered  into the Coastal Carolina University creative writing contest where it took 3rd place.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - 2/27/08

Friday, February 22, 2008

Writer's Island and Sunday Scribblings - 2/23/08

Feeling lazy and not very creative. I decided to combine the Sunday Scribblings prompt of "Passion" and the Writer's Island of "Second Chance".

One of the most impressive events I have ever experienced is the Passion Play in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau in Southern Germany. It is a re-enactment of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, performed every 10 years.

It began in 1634 during the Thirty Years War. The bubonic plague was devastating the town and legend has it that a promise was made to God, that if they were spared, they would honor Christ with the performance of the “Greatest Story Ever Told.” They were spared and have honored that promise ever since. The entire village participates in this event, with a cast and crew of over 2,000. They spend years preparing, working countless hours rehearsing and designing elaborate sets and costumes. There are families that have participated since the beginning, 40 productions and nearly 350 years ago. It has become a huge tourist attraction and an economic cash cow for the community.

The Passion Play represents, for Christians, the second chance for mankind. This 6 hour production is an amazing spectacle and well worth seeing, for Christians and non-believers alike.

Though Passion Plays are performed all over the world, this is by far the most famous and most extravagant. The next memorable performance is in 2010.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

55 Flash Fiction Friday - 2/22/08

The Silent Killer

Bullets kill from the outside in
Often quick and humane
Cancer destroys from inside
With unnecessary pain

But the cruelest of all conditions
An agony Vicodin can’t touch
An overwhelming anguish
With no origin to clutch

Loneliness dispatches life slowly
From an unaccompanied heart
Of a solitary soul existing
Without a counterpart

Thursday Thirteen - My Favorite Cities- 2/21/07

The 13 best cities I have ever visited. These are all cities, no towns, burgs, or hamlets here. These are the first that came to mind. I am sure there are many others that deserve to be on my list if I gave it some thought. These are in no particular order. I liked them all for different reasons: history and culture, people, nightlife, simple beauty, atmosphere, and personal memories/events.

1) New York City, NY

2) Athens, Greece

3) Heidelberg, Germany

4) Taipei, Taiwan

5) Washington, DC

6) Dublin, Ireland

7) San Francisco, CA

8) Vancouver BC

9) Venice, Italy

10) London, England

11) Bangkok, Thailand

12) Miami, FL

13) Madrid, Spain

Those are places to visit. But I live in the best of all places. Myrtle Beach, SC. It has everything I need. I would love to hear which cities are your favorites.

A MEME From Gathering Round The Table - 6 Habits

The Rules:- Link to the person that tagged you.
I got this meme from Gathering Around the Table
Post the rules on your blog.
Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Let's go:

1. As soon as I wake up in the morning I turn on the TV for company. Usually it is just background noise and I am not paying attention to the programming. I live alone and really enjoy the company of television. But I cannot sleep with it on, so I let it rest through the night.

2. I pick at my fingernails. I don’t bite them, I just pick at them. Normally, when I am bored or driving. As a result I have never had any fingernails and they are always sore. I have done this my entire life and it will never change.

3. I constantly blaze a trail to my refrigerator. This is something else I have done my entire life. My mom used to scold me for “swinging on the refrigerator door.” Lately, I have cleaned my refrigerator out and eliminated most of the unhealthy items that I previously stocked. But that does not keep me from opening and hoping. I will wager that my fridge light has more on time than my reading light.

4. On my journey to the refrigerator, I almost always check my door locks. This is part of my OCD activities, of which there are many. I also find myself checking the switches on my range frequently. When I am driving, I constantly check the gauges and light switch. I also routinely pat my back pocket to check that my wallet is there. I realize I do all these things and often laugh at myself, but I still do them. I am like Monk without the deductive reasoning talents.

5. Like my TV, my computer is always on. Unlike my TV, I don’t turn it off at night. It is in my bedroom. My screen-saver displays a slide show of family photos. Unfortunately, I have found that women are not apt to engage in kinky sex in front of my grandchildren. I also check my email any time I have an idle moment. As a result, most of the people I correspond with think that I am on the computer all day. I guess they are right. Though I don’t sit in front of the screen all day, I am available if I am at home.

6. I am trying to cultivate new positive habits. The newest being that I try to write something every day. This is a difficult habit to incorporate into my life, as I had not really written much in years. I am almost certain that I would not do it without discovering sites such as Sunday Scribblings, Writer’s Island, 3 Word Wednesday, and 55 Friday. The feedback I receive from reader’s comments inspire and motivate me. I have met many “friends” through these contacts, and though we will never meet, we learn a lot about each other through our writing.

Feel free to do this meme, but I am tagging, Lucy, LittleWing, Giggles , Robin, and Heather.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

3 Word Wednesday - unravel - punch - t-shirt - 2/20/08

This week's words were t-shirt, unravel, and punch. I thought I would try to tell a story by a series of questions.


How was he to know that the holiday office party of 2007 was not going to be the benign gathering of past years? How was he to know that one single event would totally unravel his life? How was he to know that what seemed to be harmless punch was actually chemically enhanced? How was he to know she was the CEO’s underage daughter? How was he to know security cameras with sound were in place in the executive washroom? How was he to know he would be replacing ten years of trading on Wall Street for a return to Jump Street?

How was he to know that he would soon be exchanging his Armani suits for a Wendy’s t-shirt?

How was he to know he was destined to be the only person in the city with an MBA from Harvard for whom the words "Biggie Size" were part of his lexicon? How was he to know instead of the opening bell of the exchange, the clang of the drive-thru would now ring in his ears? How was he to know that subway tokens would fill his pocket instead of the keys of his recently repo’d BMW? How was he to know his Manhattan loft would be exchanged for a pest-infested efficiency in Brooklyn?

How was he to know that credit cards can be canceled so quickly? How was he to know that the answer to the question, "what's in your wallet", could be nothing? How was he to know how powerful the CEO of the second largest investment firm in the country actually was? As he took his seat on the subway that he now occupied daily instead of a seat on the exchange, the corners of his mouth curled up in a smile. The first genuine smile he had formed in memory. How was he to know he would be happier than he had been in years?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Writer's Island, Sunday Scribblings - Time Travel - 2/18/08 - 2/29/08

I thought a lot about this prompt and there were so many possibilities as to boggle my already cluttered mind. I could go forward and find out where we are going and come back and scare the crap out of everyone and probably win some Nobel Prizes. I could go back and change history. I could tell Lincoln, the Kennedys, and Martin Luther King to duck. I could push Yoko Ono in front of John Lennon and let her take some for mankind. I could create a diversion to cause air traffic in the northeast to be suspended on the morning of September 11, 2001. I could be selfish and go back and bet sporting events, pick lottery numbers, or buy worthless, desert land that later becomes Las Vegas. I could bankroll Bill Gates.

Then I considered the Prime Directive. If any of you were Star Trek fans, the crew of the Enterprise was were never supposed to interfere with cultures or alter history. It is more complicated than that, but that is it in a nutshell.

That was also a no-no according to Doc Brown in Back to the Future.

The premise is that by affecting one outcome, you affect many, many more. For example, if I prevented Pearl Harbor from happening, somebody important to mankind may not have been born after VJ day festivities.

Then there are those that believe that history is inevitable. For instance, if I went back killed an infant Hitler, someone else would have ascended to power in a 1939 Germany that was ripe for a dictator.

And if I went back and slapped the apple out of Eve’s hand, the human race would have found other ways to sin and defy God. We are good like that.

With all those things in mind, I elected to limit myself to one visit back in time. One single place and time in which to beam myself within all of history. After careful consideration, I came to one conclusion. I would journey back to northern Idaho in the late 1960’s. I would be in a little boat on Rose Lake fishing for crappie and bass with my dad. I didn’t do nearly enough of that as a teenager. I enjoyed that more than anything as a child,

but as I grew up I became busy with other things and forgot what was most important to me. Maybe we would catch fish and maybe not. But I would get to know him and he would get to know me. And there is no better place to do that than a little boat on a tiny lake in Kootenai County.

So the Titanic is going to hit the berg, Chernobyl is going to melt down, and Chicago is going to burn to the ground. Dictators are going to oppress, assassins are going to murder, and governments are going to continue to make mistakes. I am going to attend to my little part of the world and let someone else drive the DeLorean.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Teeth - 2/17/08

When the prompt of teeth came up it made me consider writing about something that has been bothering me for some time. My dentist is old. He bridges the gap between the time barbers performed dentistry (I am sure glad they broke those two professions out) and today’s modern procedures.

I am sure there are requirements for ongoing education for a dentist to keep up with modern technology, but I am in South Carolina. I am not certain there even exists state requirements for dentists to attend dental school in the first place.

My dentist does have a framed degree on the wall, which makes me feel a bit more confident in his qualifications. But I am not certain that just because he attended Colgate University, I should assume he received dental education. That could easily be a professional joke among dentists. Maybe this accounts for that one out of five dentists that doesn't recommend Crest. He is a Colgate alum.

I still miraculously have most of my own teeth, though I have some constant issues, having survived 20 years of military dentistry, where a temporary filling often lasts a lifetime. And due to funding, they sometimes share equipment with the motor pool.

Back to my dentist. I sometimes wonder as he or his assistant is rooting around inside my mouth with something sharp, if there is some young high-tech dental whiz kid that can just aim some kind of phaser in the direction of my mouth and all my dental problems are zapped away. Plaque – gone. Tartar – gone. Gingivitis – gone. Calculus – gone. Painless and quick.

It seems he uses the same procedures that dentists used when I was a kid. Brush and floss. Through the years they have changed brushing procedures many times. Around and round, back and forth, up and down, hard, soft. I wonder where they are at now with respect to my dentist’s instruction. Has the main stream gone to some newfangled super-effective move and he still has me brushing in circles?

And what is with the arsenal of metal probes that he still uses to explore and scrape?

And the huge syringe. Junkies and diabetics have small needles, why not my dentist? Do those tools need to be on display on that tray right in front of me. Couldn't he keep them hidden until he absolutely has to use them? The assistant makes a complete Broadway Show out of lining them all up like I am a POW awaiting interrogation. Then they always leave me alone for a while to study them and make sure my anxiety and blood pressure are both spiking. My heart is beating so fast that should he draw blood, I will bleed out in minutes.

And everything he puts in my mouth tastes horrible. The polish they use after a cleaning. Holy crap, is that foul? And whatever that is that he rubs on my gums that he claims to numb them a bit before he injects me: xylocaine, novacaine, lidocaine, procaine, septocaine, or marcaine. It sure isn’t sugar cane. And since it hurts like hell anyway, why the added discomfort of that nasty stuff? They can make bubblegum taste like fresh watermelon, can’t they do something to knock some of the funk off of that stuff.

And if you have ever had to have an impression. Not only is the unknown viscous liquid material that they use in the tray cold and disgusting, but as it hardens it grows and crawls down my throat. The dentist always calls for the largest tray every produced and has the assistant mix up a batch and a half of the goo. I think the plan is to give me enough that I will gag. They probably have some sort of lunch bet on how much I can take before I actually choke.

Another concern of mine, due to his advanced age, is what if he has an attack of dementia while knuckle-deep in my mouth? Does his assistant have instructions to relieve him if he suddenly forgets he is a dentist and thinks he is carving a pumpkin or gutting a trout?

Of course if your own dentist has twenty-first century knowledge and procedures, you probably don’t know what the hell I am talking about. Except those of you in England, where I believe the barber is still performing oral surgery. Hey, if the Prince of Wales or Hugh Grant can’t be provided a decent set of teeth, the general public has no chance.