Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Here’s Looking At You, Kid

 

IT MAY HAVE SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, but who would want to get a tattoo on their face? It seems to be a permanent response to a temporary thought. And its gotta hurt.

Getting tattooed, at least in Western cultures, used to be solely in the realm of sailors and cheap crooks. Not any more. These days millions of people get a little butterfly or whatever inked on their body usually in a location where only a lover or a doctor would ever see it. However, there are people who just don’t know when to say “Enough.”

The idea of getting facial tattoos still remains largely in the prison/criminal gang subculture. There are others who get facial “tats” who are not criminals. I would put them in the file drawer under “I didn’t know I could drink that much” or just plain “Nuts.”

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Where Can I Get Some 3000 Year Old Pants?

 

MY BACK IS UP AGAINST THE WALL. It is the Christmas Season and everyone will be in a cheerful mood and dressed for the occasion. You know – family and all that. I am being given subtle signals that I will need to dress more like a mature man. A man who isn’t still dressing like he did in 1969.

And I hate going out shopping for clothing. Going into a store and having to deal with some clerk who asks me the one question I really hate to answer: “What is your size?”

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Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Four

 

Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Four

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

 

“Mr. Walker? You’re bleeding.”

“Yeah, I know, Einstein. My arm. I need to see Doc. Can you drive?”

“Sure. Keys?”

“In my left coat pocket. You’ll have to get them. I’m parked in back – dark green Cadillac. Let’s go.”

“What about them?” Terry asked, pointing with the baseball bat at the two men on the floor.

“Later. They don’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. C’mon, help me up.”

Terry picked up the dead man’s pistol and set it on the desk. Walker slipped it into his right coat pocket.

 

“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”  — Al Capone

 

Doc shook his head. “I can’t do that. Not here. You need to go to the hospital.” He looked pale and hung over. That explained again why he never finished medical school.

“Doc, you gotta do something for him. He’s been bleeding all over the place. He passed out on the way over here.”

“Oh, Jesus, Terry, I can maybe try to stop the bleeding, but that’s about it.” Doc gave the unconscious man a quick eyeball check. “That slug is still in him. Probably stuck in a bone. I can’t deal with that here.”

“Do what you can, Doc. I’ll take him to the clinic, I promise.”

“No hospital. No hospital.” Walker had stirred. He was awake enough to hear what was being said. “No hospital. They’ll call the Police.

“Mr. Walker.” Terry wiped his hands on his pant leg. He was sweating like he had gone fifteen rounds. “Mr. Walker, Doc says that the bullet is still in your arm up by your shoulder. No offense, Doc, but Mr. Walker, you need a real doctor.”

Walker was barely able to stay awake. He shook his head. His eyes were only half open. “No hospital. I’ve got two dead bodies in my office. How do I explain that?”

“What?” Doc took a step back from both men. “What? You two have to get out of here. If the police bust me I’ll die in prison. You have to go. Now. Get out.”

“Terry, he’s right. In my wallet there’s a card…a card. Dr. Wycoff. Call him. Take me there.”

“Wycoff? He’s a Veterinarian,” half shouted Doc, “A horse doctor.”

“Terry, do what I tell you. Call him. Call him and then I’ll…” He passed out again.

“Doc, what should I do? He’s my Boss. If he dies I’m out of work, but if I take him to the hospital we’re both in hot water. Doc?

Doc opened a cupboard and took down a box of latex gloves. “He needs a real doctor, but that Wycoff is an old drunk who’d kill him for sure – if he wasn’t dead by the time you got him there. Damn it. Let me see what I can do.”

The two men lifted the unconscious and bleeding man up onto Doc’s kitchen table. Doc took some scissors and started cutting off Walker’s coat and shirt. Terry moved back and stood there watching and worrying.

“I’ll try to stop the bleeding. That’s first, and then we’ll see if I can at least find that bullet. It’d be a snap if I had an X-Ray.”

Ten minutes later Doc had stopped the bleeding, and after poking around he could tell that the bullet fired by the dead man, the very dead man, still in Walker’s office looking for his face, was lodged in the joint where the upper arm connects into the shoulder.

“Well, Terry, that’s about all I can do. I can see where the bullet is, but…”

“Can you get it out, Doc? That would help him a lot wouldn’t it?”

“I said I know where it is, but it might as well be on the moon. No, I’ve done what I can here, Terry. Thanks to you he is still alive, but he needs more than either of us can do.”

“I think I’d make a good Corner Man, Doc.”

“Yeah, but nobody ever got shot at in the Boxing ring.”

Doc stripped off his latex gloves and tossed them into a wastebasket half filled with empty bottles. He looked at his unconscious patient and at Terry. Standing next to his Boss Terry looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

“What to do now, Doc? My Boss needs an X-Ray and there’s two stiffs in his office.”

“Not good, Terry.”

“Yeah, Mr. Walker took out the one that shot him – with his sawed-off. It’s a mess. I got the other one, a big fat guy, with a baseball bat.”

“Oh, Terry, this is getting worse by the minute.’

“Could I just leave, Mr. Walker here for a while, you know…?”

“No. No way you can leave him here. Where does he live? Does he have a family?”

“Jeez, Doc, I don’t know where he lives. I’ve only seen him at his office or at ringside. Family? I don’t know that either.”

Lying on the table, Walker was coming to a bit. He was moaning. His arm and shoulder were heavily bandaged. He was drooling.

“Terry, you have to go, both of you. I’ll help you get him out to your car.”

 

A View From The Corner

 

WHO NEEDS TELEVISION? Who needs movies? Who needs any form of traditional entertainment when you’ve got people walking around? Every day, free of charge, there is a non-stop parade of the Human Animal passing by in all its variety. I almost said, “Passing by in all its Glory,” but Glory is rare in humanity. Variety is a better word to describe the people I see every day.

People Watching is more fun than Movies or TV. With the actors on the screen, who are always good looking and mouthing someone else’s words, they are following a Director’s commands. Their moves are predictable and rarely surprising. However, the folks wandering in front of my astigmatic eyeballs are anything but predictable and continue to surprise me on a daily basis.

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Throwback Thursday -From Dec. 2015 -“The Worst Show I was Ever In”

Throwback Thursday!!

 

AH, THE THEATER. A place where magic can happen. bad-acting-death-sceneA place where the Muses join to bring light, sound, and poetry together.

Unfortunately, it is also a place where disasters can happen. A place where the gremlins join to bring darkness, silence, and confusion together. When that takes place you can send audiences away into the night feeling lost, numb, and regretting the cost of both dinner and tickets.

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Finger Lickin’ Good

 

I JUST READ THE DARNDEST THING – a restaurant review that made me lose my appetite.

Straight from the home town of Godzilla and Hello Kitty comes a story that, under other circumstances would probably reconvene the courtrooms of Nuremberg. (Under 40? Look it up.)

The restaurant named “Resoto Ototo No Shoky Ryohin” has opened its doors in Tokyo and somehow gotten all of the usual permits and government approval to become the first eatery in the world to legally serve (Brace Yourself) Human meat. The name of the restaurant translates into English as “Edible Brother.”

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I’m Not Good At Shopping

BLACK FRIDAY HAS PASSED and the Christmas Shopping Season has begun for most people. I try to hold off until December. I don’t like to do all of that while I’m still dealing with the effects of all that turkey.

“SUI” – Shopping Under the Influence SUI – it also sounds like somebody is calling the hogs. Disturbingly appropriate.

Like gazillions of other people I have started doing most of my Christmas shopping online. It’s easy. It’s economical – no driving all over town. And I can do while sitting there in my underwear. That is something I would never do while at the Mall – again. (Just kidding there)

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A Reblog: “Why Reading Aloud Made Cuban Cigars Great”

Today I have the pleasure of reblogging a most fascinating posting about the joys and impact of reading aloud.

New post on “A Teacher’s Reflections”

Why Reading Aloud Made Cuban Cigars Great

by Jennie

While reading aloud is my passion and what I do- because it makes a marked difference in learning- I always write about reading aloud to children.

Well, there’s more.  Adults.  The proof of reading aloud making a difference is in the high quality of Cuban cigars.  It’s a great story, one of my favorites.

Reading aloud never gets old.  It weathers time and generations.  For adults, when we are read to, we listen, think and feel.  And, we have to stretch our brain.  When we only hear the words it sharpens our mind, and our performance is much better.

The Cuban cigar industry understood this.  That’s why they make the finest cigars.

They have la lectura, who reads aloud for up to four hours to the factory workers, from the daily news to Shakespeare to current books.  This is both brilliant and common sense; the workers are entertained, happy and productive.

Jim Trelease writes about this in his million-copy bestseller book, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  He is a master writer and has it nailed on reading aloud.  Here is an excerpt from the chapter about the history of reading aloud and its proof:

Then there is the history of the reader-aloud in the labor force.  When the cigar industry blossomed in the mid-1800’s, supposedly the best tobacco came from Cuba (although much of the industry later moved to Tampa, Florida area).  These cigars were hand-rolled by workers who became artisans in the delicate craft, producing hundreds of perfectly rolled specimens daily.  Artistic as it may have been, it was still repetitious labor done in stifling factories.  To break the monotony, workers hit upon the idea of having someone read aloud to them while they worked, known in the trade as ‘la lectura’.

The reader usually sat on an elevated platform or podium in the middle of the room and read aloud for four hours, covering newspapers, classics, and even Shakespeare.

As labor became more organized in the United States, the readings kept workers informed of progressive ideas throughout the world  as well as entertained.  When factory owners realized the enlightening impact of the readings, they tried to stop them but met stiff resistance from the workers, each of whom was paying the readers as much as twenty-five cents per week out of pocket.

The daily readings added to the workers’ intellect and general awareness while civilizing the atmosphere of the workplace.  By the 1930’s, however, with cigar sales slumping due to the Great Depression and unions growing restive with mechanization on the horizon, the owners declared that the reader-aloud had to go.  Protest strikes followed but to no avail, and eventually readers were replaced by radio.  But not in Cuba.

The Cuban novelist Miguel Barnet reports, “Today, all over Cuba, this tradition is alive and well.  Readers are in all the factories, from Santiago to Havana to Pinar del Rio.  The readings have specific timetables and generally begin with the headlines of the day’s newspapers.  After reading the newspaper, the readers take a break and then begin reading the unfinished book from the day before.  Most are women.”

Used by permission of the author, Jim Trelease, 2013, The Read-Aloud Handbook (Penguin)

No wonder Cuban cigars are among the finest.  This story is one of my favorites and illustrates the effect reading aloud has on people.  Thank goodness I get to do this multiple times every day with children.

Jennie

Thank You, Jennie for your work and your delightful outlook on the world.

John

Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Three

 

Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Three

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

“Now I know why tigers eat their young.”  —  Al Capone

 

Once the night faded away the streets were wet and the sky promised more. Terry Jarosz was at his Boss’s office at 8:30. He had slept on Gloria’s couch for a few hours using the three grand as a pillow. He dreamed that the money was his, but he knew it wasn’t and now he was at the office to turn it in and get his cut – five percent. The Boss was waiting for him.

“Did you get it all, Terry? Three grand?”

Terry nodded and emptied his pockets out onto the desk.  The last two dollars was in quarters. “I got it all, Mr. Walker.”

“Good job, Terry.” He looked at the Boxer’s bandaged fists. “Jesus H. Christ, what happened to your hands? Was he hiding the money in a meat grinder?”

Terry looked at his bandages. They were feeling tight. He was swelling.

“No. He got physical with me, him and one of his boys. I’m OK. I’ll take it easy for a day or two and I’ll be OK.”

“I hope so. You look like you went twelve rounds with the Marines.”

“I’m OK, Mr. Walker. A hundred-fifty dollars?”

Walker peeled off a couple of wrinkled Fifties and the rest in Twenties and Sawbucks.

“Five percent of three thousand – a hundred-fifty dollars.” He threw in an extra Twenty. “A bonus – to cover the cost of your bandages, Terry. Take your girl out for a nice dinner.”

“OK. Thanks Mr. Walker. I’ll do that. I’ll be ready to go again in no time.”

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Life Happens On The Road

 

BACK TO TEXAS – FOR THE TIME BEING. We have been home for Thanksgiving, but we will be lining up for flights heading south again for Christmas.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

As anyone over the age of 12 can tell you, family trips are no vacation. That’s just a law of Nature. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and being with the fine members of the family. It is that “grown-up matters are the primary function of such trips. Life.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2014 – The Morning After The Day Before

Throwback Thursday 

The Morning After The Day Before

A lot of people are calling today “Black Friday,” a piece of accounting slang indicating cornish hen dinnerthat today is the day when their sales ledgers go from Red Ink to Black Ink. Many retail concerns realize the majority of their sales for the year in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What a way to live.

For me today is “The Morning After the Day Before.” It really doesn’t have a color. Everything is shrouded in an L-Tryptophan cloud. Rather than go battle the hordes of shoppers at The Mall I am spending this day fighting the urge to go back to bed or to catch a nap standing up as I wait for my coffee.

If I were to go shopping I’m sure that I would come home with – stuff. I don’t need any more stuff. My wife doesn’t need any more stuff. We really don’t need half of the stuff we have right now.

I’m just glad that I don’t have a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” store nearby. Whenever I go into that store I become enraptured by all of the “Beyond” stuff. It is like finding myself trapped inside every Infomercial extant on TV. I see piles of microwave cooking gizmos and various adhesives (in a selection of colors) that would enable me to drill holes in my boat without fear. But I don’t have a boat.

In a way it all takes me back and makes me feel young again. Strolling through a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” is like preparing to furnish a college dorm room with a wide range of stuff prohibited by the school in addition to things your mother insists that you actually need.

No, today is the day when I sit quietly in a stupor and let other people move the economy forward. I’m just not capable of being a cog in the commercial engine – tomorrow maybe, but not today. Today I am content to be little more than organic matter in size 10 shoes. I can and will respond to basic stimuli, but little more. Cogent thought and critical thinking will have to wait until the fog lifts. My wife has confirmed that I am quasi-capable of forming simple sentences aloud, but she doesn’t think I’ll be going much beyond that until Sunday. It sounds like today may be the perfect day for me to ensconce myself in ‘The Rip Van Winkle Memorial Chair’ and stumble through Netflix. Oh, look! Six thousand movies I’ve never heard of.

I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

Blowing In The Wind

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT DINNERTIME CONVERSATIONS can sure get weird. The other night as the family was scarfing down some basic Comfort Food the flow of the conversation took a definite turn to the unusual.

“If you get cremated what do you want done with your ashes?

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Can Anyone Loan Me $450 Million?

WHERE DOES ONE GET THEIR FISTS ON HUGE SUMS OF MONEY? When I mean “huge” I’m talking about enough money to become “An avid Art collector.”

I bring this up because of a news item from a couple of weeks ago where a painting assumed to be by Leonardo Da Vinci was sold at auction for a whopping $450.3 million dollars. THAT is what I mean by “huge sums of money.” I can’t imagine how many lunches I would have to skip to get into that game. 

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Now He Belongs To The Ages

Pizza! Food of the gods! A seven course meal all on one slice! The Ultimate Survival food for when the Zombies attack!

But who can eat just one slice? Nobody I know.

Last night the whole Texas clan gathered around the dining room table and ate like there was no tomorrow. There was Meat Lovers Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, Pepperoni Lovers, and Chicken with Bacon and Buffalo Sauce Pizza.  That was good for starters. Along with the big square boxes there were other boxes filled with Garlic Breadsticks, Cinnamon Breadsticks, some rather odd Potato thingies, and some little apple pie-like pastries. Oh, yeah, and two gallons of iced tea.  Gotta love those “Meal-Deals.”

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Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Two

 

Boxer  —  Part Two

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

 

“You’re either at the table or on the menu.”  —  Al Capone

 

And that was where Mike Walker came in. He was a fan of The Sweet Science.  He’d liked watching Terry fight because he knew it wasn’t just “entertainment.” He respected Terry’s work as a boxer and rewarded him by throwing some jobs his way. Mike Walker had a “Private Security” business. He was an ex-cop, a bad one, who did background checks, provided an extra pair of eyes for shopkeepers when inventories grew legs, and he collected overdue debts. Terry Jarosz entered the picture when payments got slippery.

 With ninety-five out of a hundred people who missed a payment or two it was just one look at Terry and wallets opened up. With the other five per cent – they got stupid before their money finally came across the desk. Stupid is what sent Terry to see Doc. Doc never charged Terry for helping him. He knew that The Rules were never fair for either of them.

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Apple Valley, We have A Problem

IF ANY OF YOU KNOW A GUY NAMED MIKE HUGHES please do your best to convince him to either see a Doctor or buy a lot of insurance. If you don’t know a guy named Mike Hughes just consider yourself lucky.

A limousine driver by day the Mike Hughes I’m talking about lives in the idyllic sounding town of Apple Valley, California, but he has his head in the clouds – rather low clouds. If he is not really lucky he might be leaving it there even if his feet are on the solid ground.

You see… I don’t know quite how to phrase this without sounding like I’m… like I’m Mike Hughes. Mike has a plan to launch himself in a steam powered “rocket” up into the sky in order to prove, once and for all, that the Earth is flat. I think you can see now why I am skeptical about standing too close to Mr. Hughes.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – A Day For Thanksgiving

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015

A Day For Thanksgiving

Today is a day set aside for the giving of thanks. Thanks for all sorts of things.

For some of us those thanks are mighty and great, but for others they are small and personal. Both are equally valid.

Take this day to be with your friends and family.


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“Picture If You Will…”

THE EARTH IS A BUSY and often confusing planet and sometimes things just look out of place to me. It’s kind of like when you rearrange your furniture. Until you get used to the new configuration you’re likely to stub your toe on that chair that wasn’t sitting there last week. A few of these oddities came to mind recently.

We attended a funeral recently and as we were at the cemetery for the graveside service I looked down. There in the grass by several headstones was a golf ball. A golf ball? That just seemed to be terribly out of place. True, there was a hole nearby, but…

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I May Just Skip Lunch

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I WONDER why I get on to the internet at all. I am eternally hopeful that I will find something interesting and/or enlightening. I know that out there in the cyberworld there is something that will make me want to jump for joy and break into my happy dance. I want to be educated, inspired, entertained and feel that I am connecting with the finest fibers of the universe singing of the wisdom of humanity – and then, before I have even had my first sip of coffee, I run into this.

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You Are Getting Sleepy

I CAN AND WILL CONTINUE TO SLEEP just about anywhere. I can sleep on airplanes. I can sleep on a crowded bus. I even fell asleep on stage one time. I’m good at sleeping.

As I write this we are down in Texas once again. Family business brings us to the Corpus Christi area for the fifth month in a row and Christmas will send us south once again. This means a lot of sleeping in strange beds and some strange sleeping.

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