Saturday, November 28, 2009

High School Football - 11/28/09

Last night I challenged my demophobia and joined 6,500 people at the Myrtle Beach Seahawks football game. Demophobia sounds like fear of democrats (which I also have) but it means fear of crowds. This was a playoff game to determine who would represent the lower end of South Carolina in the state championship. Myrtle Beach is defending champion, so it was a game of interest and really the only thing happening in Myrtle Beach on Black Friday night. Last year, these same teams battled to a 51-50 Myrtle Beach victory in triple overtime. It promised to be a great game.

I arrived an hour early, hoping to get seated before the stadium filled. Unfortunately, 6,000 other people had the same idea. My greatest fear was realized, climbing bleacher stairs scanning the throngs for an open seat. I was lucky enough to find one on the 20-yard line. Many were not so fortunate and had to stand behind the end zones. Thankfully, my bladder held out for the entire game as there was no hope of leaving for any reason and getting my seat back. This was particularly disturbing since I saw people carrying funnel cakes.

I love the atmosphere of college football, but high school football has its own unique ambiance, particularly in the south. To illustrate how huge high school football is here; during the football season, Costco schedules fewer employees on Friday evenings than any other night of the week. It was interesting to see that the Myrtle Beach Seahawks have a pirate as a mascot. Though there was a fictional pirate called the Sea Hawk, however a Seahawk is a bird. After living here for nearly 10 years, that mistake in the educational system does not surprise me. Seattle and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington figured that out, evidently the Myrtle Beach folks had no access to a library. Even a Seahawk helicopter would have been a possible mascot, though not practical.

The opposition was the Marlboro County Bulldogs. A bulldog is an appropriate mascot. Well done, Marlboro County. Although a smoking man on a horse would have been more interesting, though not politically correct. I particularly enjoy a game where I have no emotional investment and can just watch it objectively, acknowledging good plays by either team. Though I live in Myrtle Beach, I know as many players on the Marlboro roster as I do the Seahawks. Zero.

Unfortunately, this game was virtually over early in the third quarter, as Myrtle Beach, though outweighed by at least 50 pounds per man on the line, dominated. The superior athleticism of their skill players soon wore down the Bulldog defense. Many of which played both offense and defense. They played hard but were outperformed at every facet of the game. They got a cosmetic touchdown towards the end of the game to make the final score 40-13. The game was not that close.

I only have two criticisms of the game and neither involves the players of either team. The first is the officiating, but not for the reason officials are normally censured. I think they called a pretty fair game. The problem for me was that they took so long to make decisions between plays that it killed the flow of the game and made it practically unwatchable. There were often ten minute interludes between snaps while the officials huddled and discussed who knows what?

The second fault I found was with the Myrtle Beach coach. Late in the game with a 30 point lead, he tried an onside kick. Thankfully, it was unsuccessful. Even the Seahawk faithful in the stands were questioning the intelligence of that bush-league move. He also kept his starting offense in, and throwing deep, right up until the final gun. As a result, the humiliated Bulldog team began to lose their composure and it got a little chippy toward the end. The team being shown-up, as can be expected, began to take cheap shots and that is a exactly how players get unnecessarily injured. The star quarterback should have been watching the game with a Gatorade in his hand, not throwing down-field. Anyone who does not agree that these actions were unnecessary in a high school competition has never actually played team sports. It is my hope that Myrtle Beach High School officials reprimand this coach for his unsportsmanlike behavior and lack of leadership. He is blessed with great players, which might not always be the case. This arrogance may come back to bite him in the ass. Bulldogs have a long memory.

That being said, congratulations to the Seahawks, and best of luck in the finals. That game will be played at the University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium. I may travel to that contest as it seats about 80,000, and I am certain to get a seat.

Friday, November 27, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - "Dead Man Walking" - 11/27/09

Each week G-Man invites us to tell a story using only 55 words. My prompt supplier quit me so you are stuck with my own idea.

Preparations are being made around him.
He is oblivious as unseen hands help him don traditional attire.
The preacher arrives, offering solemn words of encouragement.
It is time.
He walks the long corridor as someone shouts -
“Dead Man Walking.”
He takes his assigned place, as it was practiced.
The music commences.
He suddenly hates Mendelssohn.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - Anomaly - 11/19/09

The challenging prompt from Lena for this week's 55 Flash Fiction Friday is Anomaly. This is what came to mind.

He was not the only astronomer to discover the spatial anomaly, but the only scientist who understood its gravity. Alarming a hopeless world would only result in equal measures of disbelief and panic. Two calls: his daughter, to tell her he loved her and his unfaithful ex-wife to tell her to watch the moon’s approach.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Loss of a Friend - 11/15/09

Today, I watched a lady visiting the dog park with her dog for the last time. Punk is 18, and his quality of life is reduced to such that the humane act for Cathy is to have him put to sleep. The procedure is to be done tomorrow. So she brought him by the dog park so he could say goodbye to his friends, canine and human.

On the way home Skooter interrupted his commitment to hanging out the window to bark at arbitrary motorcycles and pedestrian dogs to see what was wrong with me. He licked at the tears on my face before laying down with his head on my leg, comforting me. Dogs know. These lines were running through my mind.

Goodbye dear friend. My life was enriched by knowing you. Through the years there were many times when I felt unloved by my fellow humans, but there was never a moment that I doubted your love, which you gave unconditionally. Though human friendships often come with motive, you had no agenda other than to bring happiness into my empty life.

The one constant in my ever-changing life was your ability to make me smile.
Though sometimes you begged for my attention,you never reserved yours nor rationed it. You could sense when I was playful and when I just needed to sit quietly.

I have had human relationships of which I cannot recall names or faces.
But your sweet face is forever etched into my mind’s eye. Though the world is a lonely place, you never allowed me to feel solitary. I hate that you are leaving me now but I know it is your time. As with all good things, you were gone too soon.

I will say I am never getting another dog. But I will and I will love it just as I do you. It will never replace you but will help to ease the pain I feel today.
There are those that will never understand the total devastation of losing you.
I feel sorry for them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pills - 11/13/09

I got up this morning and took a handful of assorted medications and this came into my head. Don't ask me why. Oh yeah, the Vicodin I had for breakfast.

They got pills to make you happy
And pills to make you mellow
Pills to control your blood pressure
And some make you pee yellow

They got pills to make you horny
And pills to make you not
Pills to control that ugly rash
And that case of jungle rot

They got pills to make you skinny
Though none of those will work
Without diet and exercise
If you buy them you're a jerk

They got alternative medications
Supplements and Herbs for sure
And there isn't much that ails you
That chronic will not cure

They got pills to make kids behave
And not set your house on fire
And pills that cause a vacant stare
If that's what you desire

They got pills to quit smoking
And pills to slow your heart
Pills to make you evacuate
And some just make you fart

They got pills to make your date more fun
And pills to make you rave
Pills to make you hit home runs
And pills to make you brave

They got pills that make you comatose
And pills that make you laugh
Pills that you need several of
And some you cut in half

They got pills so you don’t get pregnant
And some that hope you do
And pills so your infected friend
Doesn’t spread herpes to you

They got pills to shrink your prostate
And pills to make you hard
Some pills come in a bottle
And some come on a card

They got pills to make you larger
Pills to make you small
And like Grace Slick once said
Some don’t do anything at all

They sell pills over the counter
And some are kept in back
The really good ones you only get
If your doctor is a quack

They got pills that make you sleep
And some keep you awake
Some of them cure heartburn
Or stop a tummy ache

Some you have to swallow
And some you have to chew
Some that you take orally
And some are taken……..eew

Some pills the FDA approves
And some of them they hate
Some pills get recalled
But usually too late

Some pills have side effects
Including pain and death
They can help your asthma
But it might be your last breath

They got pills to cure what ails you
Just because you think they will
Though there’s only sugar substitute
Inside that little pill

Some make you creative
To write verse or prose
Unfortunately for my readers
I don't have none of those

Thursday, November 12, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - Direction - 11/12/09

This week's offering to the 55 Flash Fiction Friday Gods was prompted by Lena's suggestion of Direction. For some, drugs increase creativity. Copious amounts of narcotics for me, not so much. I will do better next week as there are no refills allowed.

The path forked. One track was deeply rutted and well traveled. The other was relatively unused, with weeds growing unchallenged. His nature was to follow the more popular trail. This time he elected to go in the direction less frequented. He had hiked a few hundred yards when he was eaten by a forest creature.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Improv - Getting out of my shell - 11/10/09

Recently I decided I needed an outlet to get me away from Seinfeld reruns and out from in front of this computer screen. I signed up for a creative writing class through the local University’s continuing education program. I tried this three times. Two of the classes were canceled due to lack of interest. The third I dropped out of after the first session. The instructor was not going to be able to hold my attention. She had a voice that made me yearn for the sound of stray cats having intercourse outside my bedroom window. And her qualifications for teaching creative writing were that she had once vanity published a cookbook that was still available for purchase in India. So Seinfeld reruns were looking pretty good.

One day at the Bark Park I met a lady that was involved in an improv group and found that classes were available locally. When I got home that evening I went online and found the group’s website. It looked interesting and a beginner’s six week class was forming, so I signed up immediately.

I have just completed that course of study and though improv is miles outside my comfort level, I am glad that I did. The experience of the improv performance is secondary to the pleasure I received from my association with my fellow classmates. There were eight of us in the class from extremely diverse backgrounds that connected immediately and became a cohesive unit. I found myself looking forward to our weekly gatherings. As we got to know each other, we developed friendships outside of the classroom.

One thing became immediately apparent to me as I learned more about my fellow cast members. In comparison to the full, rich, lives that these people led, my life was very empty and sad. Somehow, I have lost my identity and no longer have a purpose to my existence. That sounds extreme, but it is very true. My contributions to conversation were about my kids, grandkids, and dog’s lives. There was very little to say about myself other than things I did in the past, not things I do now. I have become an observer of life and not a participant. I did not realize how low my self-esteem had plunged.

When we performed I always felt my contributions were less than those of my classmates. I hear their brilliance and my flaws. Even when I was complimented by another member of the cast or the instructor, I never really accepted it as more than them being nice. I brought my camera and took photos of the other performers for my Facebook, assuring I was never included. My daughter mentioned that fact and I joked about it, but the truth is that I have let myself go to the point that I hate to see my image in a mirror or photograph. I use self-deprecating humor to reinforce my low self-image. One of my new friends has tried her best to not allow me that defense mechanism. I thank you for that Lauren, even though I don’t always acknowledge it. When one of my posse publicly stated that she looked forward to doing a scene with me, my inappropriate reaction was one of utter disbelief, shock, and awe. Instead of accepting that honor as it was intended, I tried to rationalize and downplay it in my mind. Could anyone actually want to perform with me? Though it gave me the best feeling I have experienced in ages, I didn't really believe it.

I am so thankful that I took improv instead of creative writing. When I write, I can hide here in my writer's garret and never leave my comfort zone or my home. I am secure enough in my writing ability to never challenge myself. Getting onstage in front of others makes my heart race and I know I am alive. I regret that I did not take advantage of the support that my troupe offered me, trivializing their praise.

Our entire group has decided to continue on to the next level in our improv education. I am going to try to start with a new, positive, approach. With the support of my new, dear, friends, maybe I can get my verve on. There was a time in my life that I was confident almost to the point of being cocky. I am going to try to get that Rick back. I think everyone will like him better. I know I will.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday - "Hesitation" - 11/6/09

My Facebook friend, Lena, once again provided my prompt for G-Man's 55 Flash Fiction Friday. This week's prompt is hesitation.

At first it was barely noticeable.
A slight hesitation.
An uncertainty.
A moment of confusion.
He kept it to himself but knew that soon it would be obvious to everyone.
Worry furrowed his brow as he dressed for work.
He walked down the tunnel toward the symphony of zealots cheering the name on his back.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Laundromat - 11/1/09

There is no rhyme or reason as to where my writing inspirations come from. It just happens, like shit. Today I felt compelled to talk about Laundromats.

Those of you who have always lived a privileged life will not be able to relate to this posting. This is a story written from the bottom of the economic food chain.
When I was very young we had an old type wringer washing machine. It was located outside of the log cabin that we lived in. Yes, a real log cabin, just like Abe. (No, I did not walk to school uphill both ways.) We didn’t have a dryer. My mother hung the clothes out to dry. As we lived in northern Idaho, there was a large portion of the year that neither the washing nor the drying was possible without ice becoming a factor in both activities. As a side note: line-drying generally gives the clothing a freshness. Not so much in Smelterville Idaho, where the air was toxic with lead refinery smoke.

When the weather made it impossible for outside laundry, my mother would take our dirty clothes to the Laundromat. And since my dad worked in the mine, they were truly “dirty” clothes. The Laundromat was my favorite place in the world. It was a white trash amusement park. It had vending machines that dispensed candy and soda pop as well as a machine labeled change, which dispensed quarters and dimes. Incredibly, in those days, dimes were useful. The dryers took dimes as did the candy and soda machines. Pinball machines also took dimes. Now they take debit cards. For those of you not familiar with dimes, they are worth more than a nickel but much smaller in size, go figure.

Prior to the establishment of Walmart, Laundromats were where kids were allowed to run amok. It was anarchy. They rode in and raced the laundry carts, roamed the facility checking coin returns for loose change, and alternated between screaming at the top of their lungs and begging their moms for money. (A dad would not have been caught dead in there. The only men in the Laundromat were single miners washing their work clothes) For some reason nearly every child came equipped with an openly runny nose, adding to their appeal.

Mom would not allow me to participate in any of those fun activities. She would give me a lecture on the drive to the Laundromat. It was the same every time. I would get a certain amount of candy/pop money and that was it. If I spent it quickly, I would not get any more. It was a firm belief of my mom’s that “money did not grow on trees.” (I was not allowed to play pinball. It was evil, like gambling) I was also not allowed to run "wild" like those other “motherless heathens.” I was to sit and color, draw, or read. Are you kidding me? I don’t think the other mothers thought I was well-behaved, I think they thought I was retarded or crippled (before handicapped). I was not even allowed to go look when one of the kids found a dead mouse while crawling around behind the dryers. In spite of all the restrictions, I loved the Laundromat.

I am at a good place in my life. I have a washer AND a dryer, both indoors. But I have a large, thick, blanket/comforter that is too large for my washing machine. When it begins to smell too much like Skooter, I take it to the Laundromat. The Laundromat has large capacity washers and dryers. (I assure you that dimes do not work in them) The first time I went, I loaded my blanket/comforter into the washer and while it was washing I went home to get my gun. The Laundromats of my youth have been replaced with places that one would come to should he wish to be robbed, acquire crack, or prostitutes. I haven’t had occasion to shoot my way out with my blanket/comforter yet, but I am prepared to do so. I also allow it to smell quite Skooterlike before I take it in for a wash. Usually, the morning after I wake up with a mouth full of dog shed.