Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - "Aging" - 3/29/09

The first thing that came to mind when I saw the Sunday Scribblings prompt of “Aging” is a line from Jeff Dunham’s very funny ventriloquist act: Jeff: “Women age like fine wine.” Walter (dummy): “She ages like milk.”

I think that 2008 was the year that I became aware I was curdling. I have always been reluctantly aware of aging, but last year it became impossible to remain in denial. If I were an automobile, every warning light would be illuminated and all gauges would be pegged to the minimum values. My doctor started using words like biopsy, nodule, mass, cyst, polyps, etc. And what is up with skin tags? I am getting so many of them I am starting to look like a Trill. I had x-rays, cat scans, and MRIs of body parts that doctors had never had any interest in before. Every time they ask my family history my response is met with a slight grimace and a worrisome amount of medical transcription. Both my parents died of metastatic cancer, origin unknown, at a fairly young age. I am careening towards that age.

The older that I get, the faster the months of the calendar tear off. Years, sometimes decades, pass without me really noticing. I have been divorced for over 22 years, much longer than I was married. I have been retired from the Air Force for over 16 years. I still have nightmares about both tours of duty. But most shocking to me is that the final episode of Seinfeld was broadcast 11 years ago. Of course that doesn’t stop me from watching reruns every day. I am certain that when the poet, Virgil, coined the phrase “tempus fugit” he was in my demographic.

Some of the aging signs are physical and some are mental. Some are subtle and some are dramatic and undeniable. As a very corporeal person, who considers himself ten feet tall and bullet proof, physical corrosions are the most obvious.

Not long ago, Skooter and I were walking on the beach. Some guys were tossing a football and it got loose near us. I picked it up and elected to throw it back to the guy who was about 30 yards down the beach. One thing I was blessed with was a very strong throwing arm. So I gauged the effort required to complete this pass with a tight spiral would be little more than a flick of the wrist. I cocked and fired and it flew like a duck that had been hit by anti-aircraft fire. Not only did it not make the 30 yards, it went end over end and did not fly out of my shadow. I think, even my dog was embarrassed by my futility. The only thing that could have been worse would have been an attempt to kick the ball and add a groin pull to my damaged pride. There was a similar event featuring an alligator and a golf ball that my son, Josh, revels in witnessing but I will not detail here.

My golf game has lost 50 yards of driving distance in recent years but I have not yet achieved the “old man” accuracy that usually replaces it.

There has been an irrefutable loss of mental acuity. I often enter a room without any knowledge of a reason for being there. I have often read several chapters of a book before realizing I had read it before. These small, seemingly insignificant, lapses are actually more disturbing than the expected physical deterioration. How close am I to being the guy who forgets to put his pants on before leaving the house?

But the most disconcerting indication of my aging is that I have reached that magical point in my life that a woman I find attractive and desirable may be interested in me as a dating possibility…………….for her mother. Stop laughing!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - Test Results - 3/26/09

The doctor gave him the results, casually, as if he had done it many times before. Perhaps he had. What remained of his stomach tumbled and he suddenly retasted his breakfast. A second opinion? This was the third opinion. They didn’t necessarily agree on the unpronounceable name, but they were unanimous as to the prognosis.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - David and Goliath - 3/25/09

This photo was taken by Brianna at the Myrtle Beach Bark Park. The little fellow is Shooter and the big guy is ShoDon. Shooter does not know he is the little guy. As Mark Twain once observed: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sunday Scribbling - "Where are you from?" - 3/21/09

I have traveled to quite a large portion of the world and met a lot of people. One of the first things I am asked when I meet someone new is “where are you from?” When someone asks that, I don’t respond immediately. I hesitate in order to assess whether they can relate to a response of “near Spokane” or “west of Missoula”. Sometimes it is enough to say, "out west."

Most people take pride in where they come from: “Don’t Mess with Texas.” Those from a complete shithole like Oklahoma beam with pleasure at the mention of their home state. It was even celebrated In a fantastic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. No one is more fiercely loyal to their home than a New Yorker. "Forget about it." Even the most inbred proclaim their pride in being from Tenne-damn-see or West-by God-Virginia. North and South Carolina combine to become the Carolinas. Carolina is revered in many great songs. A Carolinian radiates with pride when they tell you where they are from. They could be living in a camp trailer and dining on roadkill, but they love Carolina. I cannot conjure up that feeling for my home state of Idaho. The only song I know about Idaho is “And Here we have Idaho.” The chorus is:

And here we have Idaho
Winning her way to fame.
Silver and gold in the sunlight blaze,
and romance lies in her name.

It sounds like it was written as a fifth grade class project. It is a dreadful song. Idaho evokes neither fame nor romance. Idaho has no native sons like James Taylor or Charlie Daniel to glorify it. I think I have found a song more representative of Idaho. Here it is. If you listen closely, it is supportive of Idaho, trying to keep the developers out. Perhaps there will be a grass roots movement to adopt this as the state song.

I try to avoid claiming Idaho, as one of two things occurs when I have slipped up and admitted my association: If they are familiar with Idaho, their first response is “oh potatoes”. That is infuriating to anyone from the part of Idaho that I grew up in. To me it is no less offensive than someone saying they are from Nevada and the response is “oh whorehouses.” Potatoes are not grown in northern Idaho. In fact the part of Idaho that I grew up in, nothing grew, not even grass. But I have already talked about that in a previous post. The second common response (particularly by the aforementioned inbreds) is a blank look while they call up images of the Midwest, where all of the other “I” states are located. I just noticed this: check this out
How sad to be from Iowa that is so obscure it doesn’t even get recognized as a state by the source of all knowledge, wiki.answers.

Idaho has become a punch line. I remember when Al Bundy said that they should send all pregnant women to a state no one cares about and call it Pregaho. The only notoriety it received was from an excellent documentary on Idaho life called Napoleon Dynamite. Any national news article about Idaho is always about the capture of some miscreant, white supremacy group, serial murderer, a senator performing reach-arounds in public toilets, or some other negative imagery.

I have recently reconnected with several of my classmates from high school through Facebook. I have found very few who still live in Idaho. It is a good place to be from. Far from.

Jeff, I am not implying that everyone in Tennessee is inbred, but some of them are.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - 55 Chevy - 3/19/09

There is a classic car show in Myrtle Beach this weekend and seeing those old cars and their owners made good fodder for my 55 Flash Fiction Friday. I think G-Man can relate.

They call it vintage so they can charge more

Same car he cruised in
When Buddy Holly "Raved On" the AM dial
Getting to second base was something special

Before he’d ever heard of cholesterol
Or erectile dysfunction

They are both antiques
But he just felt vital behind the wheel
He had to have her

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - A day late - 3/14/09

My 55 Flash Fiction Friday has turned into a Sad Saturday Soliloquy.

He snickered at the beer commercial promising drinkability
He would drink yak urine to erase the pain
Flavor was not an issue
Booze was now just a means to an end
But they are correct; it won’t get better than this
He knew he was on a down-hill spiral
like a turd in a Kohler

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - The Disciple - 3/11/09

My son, Josh, took this photo of his niece, Kendall, and his monster Lab, Bob. It looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. I entitled it "The Disciple".

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Heads or Tails - "Springtime Memory" - 3/10/09

Today's Heads or Tails prompt is "Springtime Memory." I grew up in northern Idaho and the first sign of spring was always a joy after a long, cold winter. I also lived in Wyoming for about ten years (seemed like longer), where winter is even more relentless and severe. I wrote down a few thoughts about early spring in the mountains. If you are curious as to how this piece sounds in guttural monotone, you can hear me read it by clicking here.

Springtime in the Rockies

Vernal sun erases winter frowns as surely as a drug expunges pain
Hearts encumbered by cabin fever released into the warmth
Optimistic blades of grass poke through stubborn snow remaining
Children kicking through the slush, parkas retired for at least today
Skinny deer seeking feed long buried, nourished and hopeful

Garages reorganized, snowmobiles for motorcycles and skis for golf clubs
Windows opened that had been frozen shut, fresh air in, stale air out
Birds arriving from their hibernal roost, voice their delight in song
Their melodies bring welcomed joy to the tomb like silence of arctic cold

Squirrel gangs emerge from their winter hole in the wall hideout

A single flower risking exposure, banking that it is truly spring

A wire brush to the Weber grill, search for “Kiss the Cook” apron
The marshmallow world becomes colorized in growing earth tone plots
Dry creek beds overflow with runoff, water much colder than the springtime air
Audible crazing as ice gives way, the sound of winter retreating
Budding renewal as life emerges from winter kill, a rebirth
Ecstasy in the mountains as survivors gambol in the healing balm
Hibernation ends jubilation begins, forest families take roll
Natural adversaries postpone conflict to revel in resurrection

Before hunger and temperament set Darwin’s laws into motion
All life that lay dormant, rekindled by nature’s new beginning

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sunday Scribbling - Listen up because this is important - 3/6/09

The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "Listen up because this is important!" This gives me an opportunity to climb on the soapbox a bit.

I am never ashamed to be an American, but I am often embarrassed by the stupidity and naivety of my fellow countrymen and women.

I am not going to address the crap the Merinos of America accept as truth from the evening news and their elected officials in Washington D.C.. I am going to discuss how easily they are duped by advertisements and swindled by flimflam.

There are currently commercials running where people are instructed to put all their “unwanted” gold into an envelope and mail it in. They will, in turn, send you a check. National ads would not continue to run if they were not successful. They are too expensive. That means that a lot of people are actually doing this. Does anyone really believe that they are going to receive fair market value, if anything, for this gold? Obviously some trusting souls do believe. If you want to get cheated, go to your local pawn shop and do it face to face. That way, if you don't like what they are offering, you can walk away.

Is there such a thing as “unwanted” gold? Hey, if you have any unwanted Krugerrands or Dubloons, I will take them off your hands. Send them to me and I will send you "cash". I would not want you to be burdened with them.

Oh yeah, and if you happen to have unwanted jewelry, here is a thought. Give it back to the poor bastard that bought it for you.

There exists a plethora of prescription drugs that instruct the viewer to “ask your doctor” about a particular course of treatment. Isn’t that exactly opposite of how the system should work? Shouldn’t the doctor diagnose the malady and prescribe the appropriate drug? Is it really good medicine for us to self-diagnose and then tell our physician which drug we think is best for us? “Doc, I think if you look at my chart you will clearly see that the Chemo and radiation therapy are not working. I would like to try 36 hour Cialis.”

I have been half-heartedly looking for employment. I made the mistake of listing my resume on some of the online job services; Career Builder, Monster, etc. I am contacted nearly every day by ridiculous scams promising a jillion dollars from working at home part-time. Evidently, I can earn thousands by being a “mystery shopper. “ There are also foreign companies looking to do business in the US and they have decided I am the perfect person to be their agent. How exciting. They are going to send me loads of money if I just provide them my bank account, social security number, and other personal information. Even AFLAC has a scam where you pay them several hundred dollars for insurance training and then you might qualify to be an “independent” agent, but you might not. Again, if these cons did not work, they would not continue to thrive. It is my opinion that anyone stupid enough to be victimized by any of these obvious frauds deserves what they get. Or rather lose.

There are a bunch of weight loss schemes and programs that all use a common method. It obviously works. They show before and after photos of prior “customers”. In the after photo, they not only appear to have lost weight, but they now have new hairstyles, a tan, and nicer clothing. Some actually have different color eyes, hair, and sometimes they actually appear to have altered their race. They even stand in front of a nicer home.

This promotion is obviously effective as they are all doing it. Not just weight loss but skin, hair, and teeth whitening products. Watching this type of advertising has given me an idea. I could be a “before” model for virtually any product. I need an agent.

The only true advertisement I have seen lately is for that weight loss product that makes you periodically crap your pants, Alli. Their spokesperson is Wynonna Judd. She talks about the product changing her life, but there is no evidence of any weight loss. If anything, she is heavier than ever. She makes no claims to having lost weight. But she speaks of Alli altering her life. I can only believe that she enjoys soiling her granny panties enough to recommend the product.

Again, I am available for endorsement. There is something intriguing about getting paid to shit myself. Again, I need an agent, stat. In just a few short years my marketability will be ruined when I fill my briefs naturally and involuntarily, sans Alli.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - Escape - 3/5/09

Check out 55 Flash Fiction Friday. The idea is to write a story in 55 words. Very fun and challenging. Give it a try and I guarantee you will get a visit from the G-Man. Here is mine for this week.

I escape to a simpler time on Walton Mountain, Mayberry, or Walnut Grove.
I escape to another galaxy aboard the Millennium Falcon, Starship Enterprise, or Battlestar Galactica.
I escape to adventures in Hogwarts, Gotham, or Camelot.
I escape to the friendship of Monk’s CafĂ©, Cheers, or Central Perk.
I escape from incessant reality.

Thursday 13 - Sexy Women of Television - 3/5/09

I have not done a Thursday 13 since it reemerged. Today, I decided to do one featuring 13 of the sexiest women from my life of television viewing. My image of them is frozen in time in a particular role. Some may not have aged as well as others, but I have noted the version of the star that put her on the list. This was hard to limit to 13, but I listed the first that came to mind. Victoria Principal – Dallas, Heather Locklear – TJ Hooker, and the woman that played the Borg on Star Trek nearly made the cut.

Marg Helgenberger – Still looks good on CSI, but most memorable on China Beach.

Linda Evans – Big Valley days, not Dynasty.

Kate Jackson – the most underrated angel.

Jenna Elfman – Dharma and Greg. Tall and sexy.

Adrienne Barbeau – Maude’s daughter and appeared on every game show on television due to her great assets.

Mitzi Kapture – Silk Stockings. Had the most beautiful mouth ever.

Linda Hamilton – the Beauty and the Beast. Long before Terminator.

Alyssa Milano – Charmed, not Who’s the Boss. I am not a pedophile.

Mariska Hargitay – Law and Order, daughter of Jayne Mansfield. Good genes.

Lynda Carter – Wonder Woman. Holy crap, she was beautiful.

Barbara Eden – caused a lot of boys my age to need glasses. "whatever you wish, Master."

Mary McCormack – Newest entry. Star of In Plain Site. Stunning and tough. The girl that plays her sister, Nichole Hiltz, is amazing too and worth a mention.

Baywatch Babes. Never actually watched the show, just watched them run during opening credits. Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra are the only names I know, but there were others. The most viewed television show in history in spite of the male lead being a dweeb.

Honorable mention:

Angela Cartwright – Penny from Lost in Space and The Sound of Music. She is one day older than me. I had a huge crush. Looking back, she was not so striking, but earned a mention for helping me through puberty. Her Lost in Space sister, Marta Kristen, was much hotter. I guess I figured she was too old and I didn't have a chance with her.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Heads or Tails - "Getting There" - 3/2/09

This week’s Heads or Tails prompt is “Getting There.” This presents a perfect opportunity for me to vent my disappointment in the rail system of the United States.

During the twelve years I lived in Europe, I used British Rail and Eurail extensively. They were economical, on time, and fast. They directly linked all of the major cities. One would expect to find a similar service from the country that drove the golden spike, linking both coasts, in 1869.

During my entire adult life. each time I have crossed the United States it has been by air or with me behind the wheel of various automobiles. Neither afforded me the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery. So I thought it would be pleasurable to take a trip late this summer on AMTRAK. I could use the time to unwind and write.

I was planning to travel from the nearest station to my home, in Myrtle Beach, SC, which I found to be Florence, SC. My destination is the Pacific Northwest and could be flexible; Spokane, Washington or Eugene, Oregon, as I have friends to visit in both cities. If you are not familiar with the Geography of the United States, I am in the extreme southeast and would be traveling to the extreme northwest (see map). I am blessed with a lot of foreign readers. If you draw a line along the projected path of my journey it takes me roughly through St Louis, Kansas City, and Denver (red line). I realize that due to the terrain, distance, and location of major cities, that AMTRAK cannot follow a totally direct route.

What I didn’t expect to find was that in order to travel to the Pacific Northwest, I have to route through New York City and Chicago (black line). What should have been a trip of less than 3,000 miles suddenly became a 4,000 mile excursion. And to go to Eugene, I have to take a bus from Portland, over 100 miles. The round trip cost = about $2,000, and that only gives me sleeping capabilities on the long leg, from Chicago heading west and to Chicago from the west.

As you can probably assume, if I do make this trip, it will be by air. I will see the scenery, once again, from 35,000 feet and saving about $1,500.

When stationed in Taiwan in 1974, I once rode a train from Taichung to Taipei, about 80 miles. Though I shared my rail car on the rickety old train with livestock and produce, it was reliable and direct. They have since introduced a 186 MPH train.

In those 35 years, the US has made no rail improvements. For a country that considers itself a major player, we are third world when it comes to public transportation. While most of the rest of the world embraces the train, we have fallen out of love with it. That is a real shame. Many of us might not clog our highways with gas-guzzling, carbon monoxide spewing, automobiles if we had any viable options.

I just checked with Eurail and I can travel unlimited in 21 countries for 3 months for less than $1200. That is their global pass. I could limit my travel for much less money. Maybe next year I will go back to Europe. Anyone want to come along?