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 – 2019

Archive for the month “May, 2018”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “Baaad, Baaad, LeeRoy Brown”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

 

Baaad, Baaad, LeeRoy Brown

manandgoat1WE HAD A VISITOR TO TERRE HAUTE (That’s French for “Care for a donut?”) a few days ago. Actually, it was two visitors – a fellow named Steve Westcott and LeeRoy (His spelling, not mine) Brown, his goat.

Mr. Westcott is from Seattle, undoubtedly heavily caffeinated and trying raise money to help build an orphanage in Kenya. He has the goal of walking all the way to Times Square in New York City. Why he is taking the goat with him remains unclear.

Making these treks across country to raise money for various charitable causes is not new. Taking a goat with you is a unique twist, however.

Mr. Westcott has a webpage about all of this:

http://www.needle2square.com/

He even has a blog running about it, but it looks like he hasn’t added to it for several months. The goat hasn’t said much either.

I looked at a number of his blog entries and my first reaction was, “Who’s crazier, the guy with the goat or the people he meets along the way?”

Blog date: 9/1/2014

Place: Denver, Co.

“Now, as I am walking down 16th Street about five blocks I was surrounded by four motorcycle cops.  No joke!  The first thing they said to me was, “Hey man you were told not to bring your llama down here.”  I said, “I am sorry, I don’t have a llama.” 

“You can’t walk on 16th Street.  You need to go over to 15th Street.”  

Now, I get towards the edge of 15th Street. There is a 7-11 and I want to get myself something to drink.  I tie LeeRoy to a flag pole out front, I come out and there are people all around. This lady comes out of nowhere in a full head to toe peach pant suit. She is yelling, walking up to me screaming about llamas.  She says, “You were told by the police not to bring your llamas down here!”

I start yelling back.  I say, “LADY, IT’S NOT A LLAMA!” I tell her, “I am trying to leave!  You are in my way! I am trying to leave!  It’s not a llama!”  I finally just start yelling, “IT’S NOT A LLAMA, IT’S A GOAT!  IT’S NOT A LLAMA!”

I would have thought that the people of Denver would have a better understanding of what a goat looks like. Obviously not.

Mr. Westcott has reported that he and the goat can cover anywhere from four to twenty miles a day – depending on the attitude of the goat.

What must the goat think of all this? They have been walking for more than two years. LeeRoy has to be wondering about Mr. Westcott’s sanity.

I really do doubt that the goat appreciates the goal of building an orphanage in Kenya. After walking across country for two years I doubt that I would appreciate anything but a hot tub and a cold drink. I know that I would NOT appreciate Mr. Westcott and as far as LeeRoy Brown is concerned – I’ve eaten goat before.

I do wish them both well on their journey. I am concerned that when they get to New York City things might get dicey for LeeRoy. The coyotes that live in Central Park might see Mr. Westcott leading LeeRoy up the street and say to themselves, “I didn’t know that we could get food delivered here.”

Well, Mr. Westcott and LeeRoy – Bon Voyage, bon appetite, and, remember, New York doesn’t want you bringing in any llamas either.

UPDATE

To bring everyone up to date on this saga – I have learned that the goat “LeeRoy” died before they got to New York. The cause of his death wasn’t reported, but I suspect it may have been a suicide.

John

When It’s Time To Go

“RING AROUND THE ROSEY, A POCKETFUL OF POSEY

ASHES, ASHES, ALL FALL DOWN.”

According to some sources this old nursery rhyme has come down to us from the time when The Plague – The Black Death – swept through Europe killing millions.

“OK, kiddies, let’s all sing about contagious diseases and mass cremations. Ashes, Ashes – All fall down!”

What brought this to mind was a story in the local newspaper.

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The Wall

 

I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to be on the campus of Indiana State University. I was lost. The campus is a mish mash of one way streets, dead ends, and lots of “No Parking” signs. A great place to get an education if you are on foot.

After what seemed like my freshman year all over again I saw a legal parking space and I couldn’t let it go. It’s like stooping over to pick up that dime you see on the sidewalk – you don’t really need that dime, but you can’t pass it up. I hadn’t planned on stopping, but what the heck.

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The Early Worm

THE TIME BETWEEN 6 AM AND 8:30 AM IS MY MOST PRODUCTIVE time of day. Before 6 AM I am asleep and after 8:30 the rest of the day intrudes and calls the shots. Those 2 ½ hours are when I get 90% of my writing accomplished. The other 10% comes when I type it up and try to have it all make some sort of sense.

Quite a chore, that last part.

I try to get my writing time every morning. It’s important to me. I can knock out this daily blog in that time and maybe get some work in on my longer fiction pieces – the things that nag at me to finish them off.

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Nineteen

 

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Nineteen

 

In The Haight it is only the early morning hours that belong to the Locals. After 10 AM it is the Tourists who fuel life on the street.

Throughout the day, tour buses pull up and disgorge the packaged groups that move like vacuum cleaners up and down from Central Street to Stanyan, sucking up T-shirts, jewelry and pizza slices, seeing all of the people as a tableau. The tourists stay until the clock dictates a mass migration to Chinatown, North Beach, or Fisherman’s Wharf, where it all begins again.

After the sun goes down the whole vibration of the street changes. The young music-seeking crowd hikes, bikes or drives up the hill and gathers at the clubs and bars. They come also to see and be seen, all the while actively pretending not to care about either.

The Locals and the ambulatory drug slaves also appear after dark. The Locals come out for a nice dinner and to toss back a few drinks. The druggies come out because they think it’s safer. They’re wrong.

It is also in the chilly evening that the costume party begins. After sundown, the hair gel and steel-studded wardrobes make an entrance. On a Saturday night on Haight there will be legions of “Blade Runner” fashion extras on the move. You might also meet several reincarnations of “Marilyn” and even a “Travis Bickel” or two.

In San Francisco the under 30 population is divided, roughly, into two groups. There are those who sashay through the city screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!” while the other half struts around snarling, “What are you looking at?”

The folks over 30 tend to just go on with their lives, occasionally snickering to themselves. They already understood that, “If you dress up like a monkey, please don’t pretend to be surprised when people throw peanuts at you.”

Clothes are very important on Haight Street. Going all the way back to the blood and guts days of the late 1960s how you dressed determined who you were, your philosophy and how you were expected to behave. The Haight has always followed along with an “Us vs. Them” school of fashion.

Still today the younger visitors to the area feel obligated to dress up in a way designed, they think, to piss off the Old Man and reduce Momma to tears. Of course, at the end of their evening of being “Us” they will safely return to the fashionable bosom of an Old Navy focused “Them.”

There is, and always has been, a sliver of the Society that is actively outside the widespread embrace of both “Us” and “Them.”

Weaving in and out between the bulk of the population are the true Outlaws. In The Haight these people are the drug suppliers and their customers. It is a very short and brutish food chain. One feeds upon the other without mercy, on a strict cash and carry basis.

The dealers tend to costume themselves like the club crowd. The users rapidly get to the point where their wardrobe selection gives way to the more basic choices of life or death. With rare exceptions, they choose death, by their own hand or by the actions of someone else.

Set in the middle of the hectic bustle of Haight Street, leafy shadows played upon the dark green exterior of Martin Macks Irish Bar and Restaurant. It seemed out of place. It was not there to attract the young hipster crowd or the tourist throngs. It welcomed whoever grabbed the sturdy brass door pulls and ventured into the dimly lit space beyond. One’s social group was never a matter of concern at Martin Macks.

The long bar was always crowded. Some were there for a taste of their favorite brew. Others, intent upon the several European soccer matches being played out on the large televisions placed high on the walls around the pub.

There is a special bar menu that allows a hungry patron to sit on a barstool and select a variety of fried and crunchy items, barbequed spare ribs or a traditional Irish breakfast of Irish bacon, two types of sausage, eggs, tomatoes and Irish soda Bread.

 The breakfast is served until 3:30 in the afternoon in deference to late risers and the survivors of last night.

Luco, along with a fair number of people who work on the street, often dropped into Martin Macks for a quick lunch or a midafternoon pick-me-up.

At the far end of the bar, through a small latticework arch is the dining area. It holds a half dozen semicircular wooden booths and a handful of intimate tables.

The clever chef working in the open kitchen always offers an eclectic menu of Irish, English and American favorites. At night, when the bar is crowded to overflowing, diners in the back can escape the noise and enjoy quiet conversation and some of the best food in San Francisco.

Martin Macks was a popular place for dinner dates. They had good food, generous drinks and waitresses who let couples linger over coffee.

Luco was not used to shaving twice in one day. The skin on his neck was complaining loudly. In the six years he had worked at the People’s Cafe he had gone out with very few women. Some were co-workers, most were customers. All of them felt that he was “the stuff that dreams are made of.” They were right, at least for a night or two. Most of them were looking for “Mr. Right,” but he was only interested in being their “Mr. Right Now.” Their fantasies dried faster than the sheets.

While they were wanting more, Luco was unable to give it to them. Fleeting pleasure was all he could offer or accept. The depth of his ability to commit could be measured in their throaty prayers to a temporary heaven.

Most of the women could live with that. Some could not and so there were mornings when the corner tables at the cafe were taken by women whose eyes followed Luco from across the room and in whose hearts they nursed a barren hope.

This night, however, it was Luco who was feeling the gnawing of lost love. There was, as well, a fresh anticipation. He was nervous about a simple dinner date.

He wondered out loud why tonight felt different. What was it that was making him feel on edge? Was it the word “date” that set off the warning flares?

“I haven’t felt like this in years. For crying out loud, why am I sweating like this?” He took a towel and wiped his forehead and hands again.

What was it about this woman? Attractive? That she was, pretty even, very pretty in her own way. But there had been prettier.

Sexy? She was that, in a relaxed way. It was like she knew that she had the goods, but didn’t feel the need to hang it out like an ad. She had the indefinable “It” that sent out the message. The man in her bed would be in no hurry to roll over and go to sleep.

Smart? No doubt. Spend five minutes with her and you knew that she was educated and as sharp as they come.

Marlee had all of these things, he recognized, but there was also something else that set her apart. A something that was making him sweat.

When he was with her he felt a resonance, a faint emotional echo. There was something about her that played a responsive string in him. Time with her had an almost musical quality.

A quick glance at his wristwatch told him that it was time to stop daydreaming and get moving.

He used the straight razor to deftly finish shaving the hilly contours of his face and cut the few whiskers that always hid out in the cleft on his chin. A few quick strokes and he wiped the last few bits of foam from his face. With a sour look he bit the bullet and splashed on a few drops of Lagerfeld lemon scented aftershave lotion. “Something this expensive shouldn’t hurt so much,” he thought, as every nerve on his face swore revenge.

He riffed through his small closet and decided that basic black was always good. He chose a black ribbed mock turtleneck sweater and black slacks. It would be comfortable and, while complimenting his complexion and eyes, it would not compete with whatever Marlee would be wearing. He knew that the man is really just background for the woman. He trimmed a wayward eyebrow hair.

Less than a mile away Marlee was standing in front of her closet weighing the pros and cons of each item. The silk from Nordstrom was too dressy, the black suit was too “widow.” She decided that the double-breasted blazer made her look like a prison guard at Disneyland. It was hopeless she concluded.

“What does he really mean by “casual” anyway?” “Casual” in Cleveland was apparently different from “casual” in California. If she was to judge by what she had seen walking down Haight Street, “casual” might mean a tie-dye halter top and chrome plated tool belt.

She sat down on her bed and stared at the closet. “I have nothing to wear.”

After 10 minutes of mental mixing and matching she selected a turquoise knit top, a matching linen jacket and white slacks. “This is my idea of ‘casual’ for a dinner date. Let’s hope for the best.”

There was that word again: date. It was a date, no matter what else she called it. She was looking forward to it, but underneath there was a faint shadow of guilt.

It had been almost exactly two years since she became a widow and more than six since she had been on any kind of date. She still saw herself, emotionally, as a married woman and there was a nagging voice saying that she was cheating on her husband. It was her own voice she knew, and that she was wrong. It was time, coldly put, to get over it.

Intellectually as well, she knew that it was time. Her family had told her so. Her friends had also told her the same thing. Hadn’t she uprooted herself and moved across the continent to begin again? She also believed that her dream of the mirror on the beach was Phillip’s way of telling her to throw off her widow’s weeds and get on with her life.

“This is stupid. I’m young, talented, not hard on the eyes, and a very nice and very handsome man has asked me out to dinner. Screw the guilt.”

She opened the closet door again, took the black suit off the hanger, brushed a bit of lint from the lapel, walked into the kitchen and stuffed it into the trash container under the sink. There would be no more funerals.

”Now, let’s just see what ‘casual’ means to this man.”

Listen To The Coffee

SOME DAYS I WONDER ABOUT OUR SPECIES. Not that we are inherently stupid – No, but rather I worry that we are too smart for our own good.

This afternoon I stumbled into St. Arbucks. I had finished running errands and I was looking for a cool drink and maybe a cookie. It was quite crowded when I went in so I was forced to actually share a table with another person. I hate that.

I managed to squeeze my svelte self into a seat at a table that was covered with new store merchandise waiting to be shelved and offered to the Hyper-Caffeinated customer base.

One item caught my attention: A Combination Coffee Tumbler/Wireless Bluetooth Audio Speaker.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “The Cake That Wouldn’t Die”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

The Cake That Wouldn’t Die

Circus cake

IF YOU RECALL, about two weeks ago there was a posting here called

“Now THAT Was A Surprise Party”

https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/now-that-was-a-surprise-party/

It all had to do with an effort to do something nice for someone. We should have known better.

For Newcomers and Amnesiacs I will give a brief reminder of the circumstances.

One of the baristas at our local Chapel of St. Arbucks was leaving to go be a circus performer – flying on the high trapeze to be exact. A few of us regulars here (AKA “The Usual Suspects”) decided it would be nice get her a cake for her last day on the job. One Suspect volunteered to assume the task of getting the cake from the nearby Kroger’s Supermarket. This is where it all began to fall apart.

He ordered a cake that was to be decorated with little plastic figures giving it a circus motif. He was to pick it up at 7:30 AM and bring it to the party.

At 7:30 AM he went to the Kroger’s and they told him it wasn’t going to be ready until 7:30 PM. Major Snafu. He showed them the receipt saying clearly “7:30 AM.” They panicked and told him to come back in 30 minutes.

Snafu Number Two

When I arrived at St. Arbucks I was informed that the young lady had decided to blow off her last day on the job. No cake, now no Guest of Honor.

Great. Just great.

Fast forward a few days. Kroger calls our Cake Orderer and says, “Come get your cake, Bucko!” He goes to the store and a confrontation ensues that results in the Bakery Manager chewing out the clerk, the clerk being upset, and Kroger tearing up our bill for the cake. Now the circus cake is THEIR PROBLEM.

Jump ahead to this past Wednesday when our innocent Cake Orderer goes into the Kroger to do his shopping. As he walks past the Bakery counter he clearly hears the same chewed out clerk tell a fellow clerk, “There’s that guy.”

He is now officially, “That guy.”

Unable to resist the chance to throw kerosene on a fire I went into the store yesterday afternoon. I browsed the cakes on display. The aforementioned clerk asks if she can be of assistance.

“Yes, thank you. Do you have any cakes with a circus theme?”

Her back got stiff and her eyes got skinny.

“Who is this for?” she asked.

I gave her a cock and bull story about a coworker leaving. It made no sense, but it seemed to satisfy her.

“”Well, we had a circus cake last week, but not anymore.”

“Can you make another one for me?”

“No.”

I didn’t push the issue. I never argue with someone who is skilled in using kitchen knives.

Last night our original Cake Orderer went back into the store. He spoke with someone else at the Bakery who gave him a behind the scenes glimpse at what had gone down.

It seems that this cake fiasco caused quite a furor inside their little frosting covered world. There is bad blood behind the counter now. I advised my fellow Suspect to do his shopping elsewhere.

All we wanted to do was to have a little going away party for a nice young lady who likes to hang upside down thirty feet in the air and who can make a good cup of coffee. What was wrong with that?

I guess this goes to prove that no good deed goes unpunished.

I Been Sick. Play Ball!

I HAVE BEEN SICK FOR THE LAST TEN DAYS with some low grade bug that has had me coughing like an out of tune Pontiac. I’m better today than I was last week and I am confident that I will be completely well by this coming Monday. Why so confident? Because that is when I have a scheduled Doctor appointment.

That’s just the way things work out. It’s like when your car is making that funny noise that hints at demonic possession. When you finally get it into the shop the engine is purring like a kitten.

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King Tut’s Lawn Chair

WE HUMANS ARE, TO PUT IT GENTLY, PACK RATS. We are loath to throw away anything. How many of us have an attic, basement or garage filled to the rafters with stuff we haven’t used, or even looked at, in years. Even King Tut took a ton and a half of junk with him when he set off for the Afterlife. Over three thousand years later his tomb looked like a garage sale run amok.

Some things we hold onto because there is a sentimental attachment – a piece of jewelry worn by a beloved member of the family or a favorite hat from when you played on a team, but what about that broken lawn chair that you’ve been meaning to fix since 1971?

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The Royal Wedding

DID YOU STAY UP ALL NIGHT TO WATCH THE ROYAL WEDDING? I didn’t, but it was close. My wife, the lovely and seriously Royal Wedding-a-phile, Dawn, planned it all out. Up at 4 AM, a pot of tea, and comfortable chair. That and the TV and she was set. I was set too. At about 11 PM I was in my Lou Ferrigno Onesies and checking out for the duration. I was asleep before the first Fascinator showed up.

It’s not that I don’t care about the lovely couple and the wedding.

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Eighteen

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Eighteen

Moving is an exhausting exercise, no matter how little you have and boxes of books always seem to be the last things put away. Now the books were on the shelves. For Marlee, there was only one more thing that needed seeing to: her music.

Music had always been her special, personal refuge. As a child it hid the sound of her parents arguing. As a teen it allowed her to wallow in the lush angst of adolescence. Later it was a way to express her loves and losses. The fact that she had a gift for it made it a pleasure for everyone around her.

When she was a child she had first studied the piano, but it seemed rigid and dwarfed her at the bench. Then came the violin, clarinet and for a few months in Middle School, the alto saxophone. She was taken with its quality, so much like the human voice.

It wasn’t until “band camp” in the summer before 10th grade that she was introduced to the cello. The first time she embraced the honey-colored wood and inhaled the aroma of the sweat and tears left there by those who had held it before, she knew that she was in love and ready to commit.

It was during high school that the extent of her talent became apparent and the encouragement and excitement of her teacher lit the fire in her belly, Music grew from a private hideaway into a transmitter for her creative thought. Her hopes, fears, loves and hates radiated from her fingertips in a melodic frenzy.

The sophomore year flew by in a blur of overheated practice rooms, rehearsals and string quartets. Her talent had found a home and she, a faithful lover who never disappointed. She soon left the quartets behind, as her skills demanded the soloist’s chair.

It wasn’t long before magazines and newspapers discovered the pretty young demon that seemed to wrestle the music from wood and string. They ran stories calling her a “Genius” and “The next Pablo Casals.”

One piece in a Sunday supplement magazine dubbed her the “Concert Hall Barbie.” That offensive diminutive earned a letter demanding an apology. It never came.

Marlee understood the flattering hyperbole and the nonsense of publicity. With the ego-bubble bursting help of her family and her teacher, she learned to keep her perspective and her focus. At her age, that focus was on honing her skills and on selecting the right college.

Universities and colleges around the country always send out small armies of talent scouts, crisscrossing the map. They are looking for more than Quarterbacks and Power Forwards. They also try to uncover and woo young actors, computer whizzes, and promising musicians.

She was recruited by a number of large and prestigious schools, known for producing successful concert musicians. Scholarships were dangled like golden carrots in front of her eyes. The lures of bright lights and faraway places pulled at her.

In the end, she opted to stay in Cleveland, at home, and she accepted the offer of a small Methodist college in the city’s western suburbs.

The school was well respected nationally for its academic standards as well as for the vitality of the under-funded, but first-rate Conservatory of Music.

For all her abilities, drive and onstage self-assurance, she was still a seventeen year old girl who never found the time to develop adolescent crushes and who performed brilliantly at her senior prom, but went home alone when the dancing began.

She had heard an ancient Chinese proverb from her High School band teacher. He was aware that he was passing a real talent on to other teachers at the college level. He knew that there was more for her to learn than he could teach her. Marlee was sad to be leaving his tutelage, but she was feeling the hunger for the next step and was comforted by the relevance of the proverb.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Life at the small college was comfortable, yet challenging. She was thrown together with the best of the best and a scintillating mixture of people from around the country and from overseas. She learned to make friends with people so different from herself that she sometimes felt like she was spending her days on another planet. New social expectations, languages, and points of view were in her face everyday. She quickly got past the culture shock of it all and realized that her new teacher had, indeed, appeared, in the form of the college experience.

This new spice in her life made itself known in her music as well. The other students were her equals, or betters and the Instructors made no allowance for pretty blonde teenagers. She was forced to work hard to keep up. The Music had become difficult.

New techniques, new music and new demands on her time and body made her think of quitting, but the thought of leaving her cello behind ended that afternoon of self-pity.

There was a growing sense of domination in her playing. She no longer forced the music from the cello. Instead she commanded it to, “Arise and walk!” It took her took another level, where she was again moving toward center stage.

Her parents noticed the growth in their daughter. They could see her becoming more confident, daring even, in the pursuit of her goals. In High School she had led an insulated life, buffered by her music. In college, that buffer didn’t work and she had to learn about real life and people. Dead composers and musicians could no longer be her only friends.

Her mother and father also saw their only child becoming a grown woman with a delicate beauty and an effortless sensuality. It was a part of life that Marlee had yet to discover.

Marlee’s allure may have been transparent to her, but there were a lot of testosterone fueled college boys who had watched her walking across campus, moving to the music in her head. The tall, quiet blonde was high on the list of favorite topics among the junior varsity football squad, and a staple in the fantasy life of more than a few of the boys in the brass section.

During her junior year, the same year that she was named to “Who’s Who In America’s Universities And Colleges”, Marlee was attacked, just short of rape, by a boy who played the English Horn. He had seen Marlee working late in the practice rooms in the basement of the Student Union building.

The only thing that saved her from more serious harm was the intervention of several boys from the football team who were on their way to a basement screening room to watch a video of their last game. They saw what was happening and stopped the attack. In doing so they may have saved Marlee’s life. An Exacto knife was found in the horn player’s pocket.

Though traumatized and bruised, she was saved. Her attacker was brutally beaten. His hopes of a musical career were shattered, along with almost every bone in both hands and several others throughout his body.

In the aftermath, Marlee received counseling and signed up for a self-defense course. She was determined to not let this take away her dreams. The English Horn player was expelled from the school and involuntarily committed by his parents. Marlee was advised poorly by the family attorney and did not press charges. The basement practice rooms were put under video surveillance.

In the following academic quarter, one of the rescuing football players enrolled for a class in Music Appreciation in an effort to help his drooping Grade Point Average. At a mandatory recital he saw Marlee onstage and was enchanted, not only by her virtuosity.

After the recital he introduced himself and offered to escort her to her car. In the wake of Marlee’s assault, dozens of school athletes organized an informal escort program, protecting both male and female students at night.

“I appreciate this. I am still a bit nervous walking on campus after dark.”

“Well, people need to feel safe. I’m glad I can help.

“If…if you’re not in a rush or anything, would you like to stop by the Rathskeller for a Coke or something?” He blushed.

Over Coca-Cola and French fries in the campus snack bar Marlee and a young man named Phillip took the first tenuous steps toward a shared fate. He thought that she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen and she thought that he was big…and cute, especially when he blushed and fumbled as he asked her out on a real date.

Her parents approved of Marlee’s beau. He was polite, thoughtful, hardworking to a fault, and it was evident, from the start, that he adored their daughter. At 6’5” tall and 270 pounds, he was the gentle giant who had saved their baby’s life.

Marlee’s senior year was another defining time. The other seniors were sending out audition tapes to orchestras around the world. Marlee was not. She was conflicted.

The thought of going off to Boston, Lisbon or Sydney to play the cello was exciting, but it would mean leaving behind her home, family and the strapping young man with whom she felt safe and truly loved. That she could not do.

So, she sent out one resume and tape to a local Post Office box in reply to an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

An enthusiastic letter in response to her tape and a perfunctory audition won her the lead chair position with a new organization: The Cleveland Chamber Music Orchestra. There was no assurance that there would ever be a second season for the group, but while it was there, she was their Star and she was able to be with Phillip.

It was no secret that the Less than Dean’s List accounting majors didn’t enjoy the mobility and caché of a cello virtuoso.

Phillip sent out more than 300 resumes. Four drew hopeful responses. He blushed and sputtered his way through the interviews. The lone job offer came from a Cleveland company owned by an alumnus of the college and a football fan. Phillip, desperate to not look desperate accepted the offer and became the new “Junior Assistant Accounts Payable Clerk” at the Borkovic Tool And Die Company.

They had waited until after graduation to talk marriage. He tried to bring it up, but he couldn’t locate the words. Sensing his discomfort, Marlee did it for him.

It was an early autumn afternoon, while her parents were at a Harvest Festival by the Lakeshore, that Marlee discovered something else for which she possessed center stage talent.

Marlee unleashed the erotic desires that made her thank the gods for the elastic thighs of a cellist.

They both knew the importance of practice and lost no opportunity. She brought home Ravel and, on the living room floor, Phillip finally learned the true meaning of Music Appreciation.

Their wedding was small, money was an issue, and they honeymooned at a Bed and Breakfast on Catawba Island in the middle of Lake Erie. It was enough.

Things went well for the young couple. She had her music and a microscopic salary from the Orchestra. Her husband was becoming a competent number cruncher and it looked like he might have an actual future at Borkovic Tool And Die.

She took on a few students to perk up the ledger page. She actually enjoyed tutoring young musicians. It made her appreciate the precision and reliability of a great composition.

Marlee and Phillip knew that they would never be rich, but that was all right, as long as they had each other. They held each other at night and dreamed the same dreams.

Life in Cleveland was happy. They made the plans of young people in love. Their families and friends said that they were a “perfect couple.” Imperfection seeks out perfection.

It was hot and muggy on the night of August the third, but the recital would be in an air-conditioned hall. One of Marlee’s students was doing his first solo and she had to be there. Phillip always accompanied her to her musical events and she went with him to the Browns games. They each shared in what was important to the other. On the night of August the third it all ended on a shady street in a “very good neighborhood” when a young lost and bewildered addict stepped out of the darkness and tore the world apart.

What’s Shakin’?

 

I DON’T KNOW WHAT POSSESSED ME, but this morning I took a few minutes to look at The New York Times. I have been feeling rather feverish so I will attribute it to that.

A large photo that looked vaguely familiar took up a lot of the front page above the fold. It was an aerial photograph of downtown San Francisco – my old stomping grounds.

I lived in San Francisco from 1978 until 2002 and I saw a great deal of transformation in The City during that time. Looking at that photo in The Times I could scarcely recognize it as the city where I had lived. Their transformation continues.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “I’ve Never Had That Happen – Exactly”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

 

I’ve Never Had That Happen – Exactly

PerkinsLAST NIGHT, MY WIFE, the charming and lovely Dawn, and I were watching a show on Netflix where the two main characters in the story were thrown out of a bar. Dawn turned to me and asked, “Have you ever been thrown out of a bar?”

I quickly thought back over the decades of my life and answered her truthfully, “A bar? No, I’ve never been thrown out of a bar – exactly.”

That answer did, as you might expect, elicit a call for my definition of the word “Exactly” in this context.

Have I ever been thrown out of a bar? No.

Have I ever been asked to consider my continued presence an unsafe extension of privilege? Yes.

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Low Tech Usage For A High Tech Creation

I HAVE TO ADMIT IT. I am finding having the “Alexa” technology in the house both helpful and entertaining. It can also be a bit perplexing at times, but we confuse it just as often.

“Alexa” is the attempt to make our home a “Smart Home.” in contrast to what it has always been – a “Smarty Pants House.”

We have that little hockey puck size device hooked up to the Internet so that we can get information by voice command. Quite nifty, but not as simple as it sounds. “Alexa” might be an example of “Artificial Intelligence”, but that doesn’t mean that she is all that smart. It doesn’t take much to stump her.

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Reblog From – The Bluebird of Bitterness – “Bar Jokes For English Majors”

Today we take Extreme Pleasure to post a hilarious Reblog from the unique point of view that is: THE BLUEBIRD OF BITTERNESShttps://bluebirdofbitterness.com/2018/02/20/bar-jokes-for-english-majors/

 

“The Opinions expressed are those of the Author. You go get your own opinions.”

“When I read this I just laughed out loud. People stared.” – Krafty

 

Bar jokes for English majors

A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

A question mark walks into a bar?

A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a war. The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”

A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart. 

A synonym strolls into a tavern.

At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles’ heel.

The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

A dyslexic walks into a bra.

A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines. 

An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars.

A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony. 

 

Rock On

I SAW THIS PICTURE POSTED ON FACEBOOK the other day – Bill Murray and Keith Richards. My first reaction was, “Dang, these guys have gotten old.” Then reality slapped me a good one right across my face. I am four years older than Bill Murray. At least Keith Richards is older than me. Of course, in that three year head start on me he has crammed in about 700 years of hard living.

I remember when the Rolling Stones first boogied into our collective consciousness – about 1963 or so – and back then Keith Richards was “The Cute One.” It didn’t take long for him to become “The Already Dead One.” At around that same time there was all sorts of hoo-haw that “Paul is Dead!” and a lot people believed that, but I’ll bet nobody ever bothered to check Keith Richards’ pulse.”

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Seventeen

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Seventeen

It was becoming a morning ritual for Marlee. She started off with a hot shower and dawdling through her ablutions, followed by the San Francisco Chronicle and coffee at The People’s Cafe. She was now a “regular.”

“Good morning, Marlee. Coffee?”

“Please, Luco and I think a scone this morning.”

Since that first day when Luco Reyes had flirted with her, they had developed a comfort zone. He still flirted a bit, but with more gentility and she let him. They both knew the unmarked boundaries.

If things weren’t busy in the cafe he would come and sit with her. She enjoyed his company and he found her both beautiful and interesting. Most of the women in his world were one or the other, but rarely both.

Marlee felt the same about him. Here was a man of obvious education and facility with people, yet he was spending fourteen hours a day pulling espressos in a neighborhood cafe. A cafe that he could run with his eyes shut, but where he was just another employee. There was more behind those gray eyes, a story worth telling. She was intrigued by this mysteriously secretive man. It had been a long time since she had felt anything for any man and now she found herself daydreaming about the man who made her coffee.

Marlee liked to leaf through the morning paper. She wanted to be informed and the crossword puzzle helped her get her brain in gear for the day.

On page two she saw an article that grabbed her eye.

“Serial Killer Stalks The Haight”

The story was that, over the last three months, six brutal murders had occurred in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The victims were all young male addicts living, and now dying on the streets.

She read the list of the dead young men, boys really. They were mostly 18 or 19 years old. The youngest was a 14-year-old runaway from Michigan.

“It’s a sad ending to lives unlived.”

“Yes it is.” He had her coffee and scone. “Do you have a minute, Luco?”

He sat down at the table. Let someone else make the coffee for a few minutes.

She looked very serious. This was not a time for flirtation. She waved her hand at the newspaper spread out in front of her.

“Who would do such a thing? It’s horrible. Doesn’t he know what something like this does to the families, the parents?” There were tears in the corners of her eyes.

“I don’t think the killer cares about the families of these kids. As to who would do this…?” His voice faded with a shrug of his shoulders.

Marlee took a sip of her coffee. Its steamy heat flushed her cheeks. “No matter what they do, the drugs, they don’t deserve to die like this – like animals on the street.”

“I have some friends who are cops, at the Park Station, just up the way. They’ve told me that this killer, this beast, did more than just kill these kids. He mutilated them, their faces.”

“Oh good Lord, they didn’t say anything about that in this article.”

“There is a lot that never makes it into the paper and I’m sure that some of the details from the other night won’t be made public either.”

“The other night?” She set down her cup.

“There was another one, number seven, right across the street from my place up on Stanyan, just inside the Park.”

“Can’t they catch this monster?”

“Good question. I hear that they really don’t have much to go on. He’s careful, quick and nobody can give them a description.”

“This is very scary. I guess there really is no such thing as a safe place.” She picked at the scone, but her appetite had been shoved aside.

“By and large, The Haight is pretty safe. The real residents don’t have too much serious trouble. Most of the bad stuff falls on the people wrapped up in the drug scene.

“Like any city, we have our share of hardcore drug users. They and the dealers seem to like this area. They tend to prey on each other and leave the bodies in the gutter. Then there are the ‘Narco-tourists’.”

“Narco-tourists?”

“That’s just my word for them – the people who come to The Haight looking for the drugs.

“The media keeps running quasi-fictional stories about the 1960’s and the ‘Summer of Love’. Some unhappy kid in Iowa watches his TV and sees a pretty girl dancing with flowers in her hair. He picks up and comes here looking for her and some adventure. It’s the kids from Iowa you see on the sidewalks looking like zombies. They’re also the people who end up surrounded by crime scene tape outside my window.”

Marlee nodded. The morning sun bounced off of her hair.

“My upstairs neighbor was saying pretty much the same thing to me. It’s so sad.”

One of the counter help, a tall girl with henna colored dreadlocks, called for Luco to pull two lattes and a Mocha Jolt. Someone needed extra caffeine this morning. She also wanted her morning whiff of Luco. She had her own needs.

He patted Marlee’s hand with an understanding affection and got up to leave her to think about what he had said and about the face behind the mask on Haight Street.

The carnage among the street kids was bringing back all of the stomach-wrenching memories of Phillip’s murder and how for two years she went through the motions of a normal life before making the move West.

The newspaper and Luco’s words made her feel that the horror had followed her from the elm tree lined streets of Cleveland all the way to the aromatic eucalyptus groves of San Francisco. She didn’t know if she could survive that again. She clutched her coffee cup with both hands and drank. The hot liquid warmed her chilled heart.

“You OK, Marlee?”

She looked up into Luco’s lovely eyes.

“No, Luco, I’m not. This whole thing has me very upset. I’m wondering if I made a mistake coming here to San Francisco.”

He sat down again and leaned forward across the table to hear her soft, sad voice.

“I’m wondering if my coming here was just running away from things you can’t outrun.” She closed her eyes and turned her face away from Luco’s eyes.

“I don’t think so. You don’t strike me as the type to run away from things.

“Marlee, You and I don’t know each other very well. You’re new here and I’m looked upon as a superficial sort of man. I know that you’ve heard the gossip.”

She looked at him, her eyes widening.

“Luco, are you hitting on me? You tell me a grisly story and then move in to comfort me?” There was a hint of anger growing in her voice. She was on the verge of slapping his face, right there in front of everyone in the cafe.

“No. No, Marlee. I’m not ‘hitting on you’, I swear.” He was alarmed at her reaction. “I’m just trying to talk with you, one person to another, but I’d like to do it for more than two minutes at a time.

“Maybe my timing does stink here, but…I’d just like to talk with you, over dinner perhaps, on neutral ground and get to know you better. That’s all.” He wiped his hand over his face. He was sweating he noticed. She noticed it too.

She listened and looked at him. He was serious. He wasn’t playing the “Coffee House Romeo.”

“Luco, I’m sorry I snapped at you. Yes, I’ve heard the gossip and it bothers me a bit.”

“The truth be told, Marlee, I start most of the gossip myself. It gives me a bit of a mystique. I’m local color for the tourists to talk about when they go home.” He paused and took a deep breath.

“Let me do this over again.” He was actually close to stammering like a schoolboy. “Marlee, what about dinner? Have you been to ‘Martin Macks’ up the street? It’s an Irish pub, but they serve good food there. It’s not fancy, but where else can you get ‘Toad In The Hole’ in San Francisco?”

“‘Toad In The Hole?’ I don’t even know what that is. It sounds disgusting.”

“Its just meat in a crusty sort of batter, English, I think. They also have other things. What do you think?”

She was smiling again. This man had that effect on her, she realized, and that couldn’t be a bad thing.

“Alright, I’ll have dinner with you Luco and if you want to have ‘Toad In The Hole’, I won’t object.”

“Wonderful, and thank you. Would Friday night be good for you? I get off at six o’clock. I could come by your place at 7:30.”

I’ll tell you what, Luco. Let’s meet at the restaurant. I’d feel more comfortable and it wouldn’t seem so much like a date. At least until I can sort out which bits of gossip about you might be just your attempts to please the tourists.” She was only half teasing him.

“Of course, whatever you need.”

Feeling proud of himself for following through, Luco went back to the counter and pulled the lever on the espresso machine with a little extra fervor. The redhead who was slicing bagels noticed the slight smile on his face and put two and two together.

Marlee sat and zipped through the crossword puzzle in ten minutes. She got a refill on her coffee from the redhead and wondered why her saucer was now filled with hot coffee as well. The redhead was usually neater.

Sitting and just musing on the day and its possibilities, Marlee looked across the street. A young, heavily tattooed man was pulling back the security gate in front of “Mom’s Body Shop”, a tattoo and piercing parlor.

He had barely gotten the front door unlocked and the “open” sign turned on when the first customer walked in.

The business day was starting on Haight Street.

Marlee finished her coffee and bussed her table. She turned to wave to Luco as she headed toward the door.

“Oh, Marlee, one more thing about Friday night.”

“What’s that, Luco?”

“Martin Macks…its casual dress.”

“I’ll leave the mink at home.”

Pass Me The Crayon

 

THIS PAST TUESDAY was Election Day around here. All sorts of people running for all sorts of governmental offices. As usual, the voters stayed home in droves. Primary elections are really just political party love fests. The various party leaders decide who they want as a candidate for the November General Elections then they hold these Primaries to move the cards around on the table to let you try to pick the winner. It is sort of like a Three Card Monty game with lawn signs.

On Tuesday afternoon my wife, the lovely and politically enthusiastic, Dawn, and I went to vote. That is when the curtain slipped a bit and The Wizard became visible.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “Remember – You Called Me”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015  

 

Remember – You Called Me

Not againWE HAVE PUT our home phone number on those “No-Call” lists for years, but it doesn’t seem to work. We still get several calls a week from organizations begging for money, “Canadian pharmacies” selling pills, and a variety of computer scams both foreign and domestic.  Since they called me I consider them fair game for a little verbal knee to the groin retaliation.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to yank their telephonic chains. Feel free to use any of them or simply use them as inspiration to create your own.

Let The Games Begin!!

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Down, Boy! Down!

SOMEONE KINDLY INFORMED ME this morning that this month has been designated “National Dog Bite Prevention Month.”

Who knew? Nobody told me about it until today. More importantly, I’d like to know if anybody bothered to inform the dogs of the world about this.

I have never been bitten by a dog – other than the playful nips of puppies. To be truthful, I’ve suffered more bites from humans than I ever have from animals. I have been scratched by dogs, but that happened while the dogs were showing me how glad they were to see me. “

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