WHILE THE CALENDAR SAYS THAT IT IS NOVEMBER 12 we in this country are thinking of today to honor and remember November 11th.
November 11, 1918 at 11 AM – that was when the fighting stopped by the terms of the “Armistice” marking the end of World War One.
I WANT TO WRITE ANOTHER NOVEL, but right now I don’t have an idea what kind of story to write. I will though.
It’s a strange thing about ideas. They come by the millions. Some are better than others, but they all are viable to one degree or another. It just depends on the skill of the writer. There are some ideas that could easily be turned into a decent story and there are others that would take a hundred years to open up.
TOO EARLY THE OTHER MORNING I was up and scampering about, unable to sleep. I had the TV tuned to TCM and watched a movie made back in 1979 – “Time After Time.”
“Time After Time” came out shortly after I’d moved to San Francisco. The movie was filmed there and it was fun to see places in town that I knew.
The storyline was about H.G. Wells, the author of “The Time Machine,” using his invention to chase after Jack the Ripper who had used Wells’ Time Machine to leap ahead in Time to modern day (1979) San Francisco. It was a fun little thriller of a movie, but I bring it up today because it got me to thinking – a dangerous activity even on a good and well rested day for me.
MY MIND IS IN JAIL. At least that is how it feels. Right now, with one cataract gone and one still to be dealt with, I have two totally different eyes with totally different focus points and even totally different color perceptions. That all makes reading very difficult.
Taking away my ability to pick up a book or my Kindle and comfortably read is like lashing me to a chair, putting a paper bag over my head, and closing all the drapes. The World has disappeared.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I DON’T NEED RIGHT NOW. I may be wrong, but given the fact that I feel like crap right now, I think that I have a bit of a cold. My nose is running more than the Olympic track team, my head hurts, and my stomach is upset to the point of making me want to skip eating until further notice.
I’m hoping that I can shake this quickly because I have to be flying in a few days and I don’t think anyone on the airplane will want to see me galumphing down the aisle with a handkerchief pressed over my nose and mouth. I know that I wouldn’t want to see someone like me coming in my direction.
I want my day to begin softly with a coffee or two and not much in the way of conversation. To do this I will have to visit St. Arbucks early, do a little writing, and then leave before the influx of Usual Suspects filter in. If I don’t I know what will happen. There will be anger and high blood pressure all around me. Not today, my friends. Not today.
Most people are creatures of habit, like cats, they like to follow predictable patterns. Knowing what to expect gives people comfort and lowers anxiety. That doesn’t work in fiction. There we have to continually throw banana peels in our characters way. The expected has to fail to appear and one roadblock after another has to necessitate countless detours and perils.
Throwback Thursday – from 2015
SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANYWHERE NEAR A MANUFACTURING PLANT. They have an idea and they find some stooge to put up some cash, backing their endeavor. The end result is a product that, in a civilized society, would be outlawed immediately.
Case in Point –
Recently, my wife, the lovely and temporarily monoplaned, Dawn, and I stayed in someone’s home for a few days and they insisted on showing us their latest purchase – a “Massage Chair” that was guaranteed to relieve all your aches and pains leaving you refreshed, invigorated, and halfway on the road to being the next Dalai Lama.
Our hosts raved about the chair to the point that I thought they were going to consider adoption.
They finally talked me into giving a try.
Big mistake, bordering on criminal. I should have followed my instincts and not gotten within ten feet of The Chair, let alone into it.
First of all it looked like a Modern, Hipster, Steampunk version of something left over from the Spanish Inquisition. One should never trust a chair that has control buttons, dials and flashing lights. The only thing missing was a telephone on a nearby wall in case the Governor called with a last minute reprieve.
Sitting on a chair should be a relatively easy thing to do, since our knees control which direction our legs fold, chairs should be an object where form follows function. You stand up. You sit down. Easy. Not with this “Massage Chair.” It took me three minutes to be “properly seated” according to the instruction book.
A chair with an instruction book.
Once in the chair “properly” and with all of the buttons and dials set, we plugged it in and hit the Launch button. It took me about three seconds to realize that I had just made a major life error.
The first thing it did was deliver a punch to the back of my head. That hurts. I don’t know why the chairattacked, but after a nasty kidney punch it started pummeling my spine from top to bottom. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that I was being mugged.
“Isn’t that great? Can’t you just feel the tension slipping away?” asked the owner/keeper of The Chair.
Eventually my screaming and cursing convinced somebody to; literally, pull the plug on this adventure. They had to help me out of The Chair. I sank to the floor and kissed the ground. If they hadn’t rescued me when they did I would have followed through with my thought to file Assault and Battery charges against that piece of the Devil’s Furniture.
Our host swears by that thing – that it makes him feel like a million bucks. At that moment I felt like about $3.25 in coins. I checked my wallet just to make sure everything was still there. I was pretty sure that, at one point, I felt The Chair trying to pick my pocket.
After a mouthful of Excedrin and some time in an overstuffed chair I was able to calmly express myself about The Chair.
“I don’t like it. I don’t want one. I think it is a tool of Satan.”
I offered to get rid of it for them – if they didn’t mind their house being destroyed in the process. They declined my offer.
I don’t think I’ll be buying a Massage Chair any time soon.
I think that I would prefer a cushy recliner that comes with a cup holder, remote control rack, and a built-in refrigerator (with freezer). That kind of a chair makes me feel better just thinking about it.
Throwback Thursday – from 2015
I TURNED ON THE TV THIS MORNING looking for some mild entertainment. I usually fire up the Tube as background noise while writing. My hope was for an old musical – you know, a Fred and Ginger type of film.
I didn’t find it.
Instead I was treated to a “Dirty Harry Marathon.” A bit different than I had hoped for, but…I felt lucky and it made my day. After all, a man’s got to know his limitations – at that time of day.
So – I started to work on a piece about the arrival of all the colorful birds in our backyard – Hummingbirds, Cardinals, Finches, and even the big Redtail Hawks. I thought that a Fred and Ginger musical would help me rhapsodize about the songs I could hear drifting from the trees. That was my plan anyway, but Dirty Harry and The Dead Pool took me in a different direction.
Instead of something idyllic and suitable for reading over a glass of wine it came out reading like something from the first draft of “The Birds.” In real life I doubt that two Finches could take down a Condor and pluck him bare – and I’m not really sure that the Woodpecker in our backyard was strapped. It was perhaps the strangest 1500 words I’ve ever written.
After about three hours I just gave up on the writing part and moved from my office/kitchen table and moved to the Rip van Winkle Memorial Chair in front of the Big Screen TV. It was now me and Inspector Callahan taking care of business. Popcorn – I needed popcorn.
A minute and a half later I was back in my chair with a hot bag of popcorn and a Diet Somethingorother.
“Did I fire six shots or only five?”
“It was six you big dummy. Harry, munch, munch, gulp, bluffed you.”
Most of those movies (I can’t call them “films.”) were shot in San Francisco while I was living there and I knew a few comedians who got small parts in one flick or the other. They played punks/thugs or ambulance drivers – not exactly roles that win Oscars. Some of them didn’t even get their name in the credits, but they did get paid which is, of course, the most important part.
I was never in any of them. My film career was limited to two “Independent films.” That means that nobody in their right mind was willing to finance the project so it was shot in pieces as they could scrape together some money. I agreed to be in the movies as a favor to the director, but only if I got paid in cash – no checks. My Momma didn’t raise no fools (a couple of whining neurotics perhaps, but no fools.).
I sat there for three more hours watching David Soul be a vigilante cop and Tyne Daly getmachine gunned on Alcatraz. Luckily, they both went on to star in their own Cop Shows (“Starsky and Hutch” and “Cagney and Lacey”).
One of these days I’ll try the Singing Bird thing again, only I’ll check the listings first to see what movies will be running. I won’t even try if they are going to be doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger Marathon. I’ll wait until I see a Busby Berkeley mob of Bleach Blonde Chorines hoofing it across the screen.
I’d even settle for an Abbott and Costello Festival. At least then I’d know who was on first.
I GET A LOT OF EMAIL EVERYDAY. Very little of it is worth the electrons it’s written with. A good portion of it all comes from people trying to sell me something; Sunglasses, Art of questionable quality, Books (lots of books), and classes and seminars. I guess that means that they feel I am in desperate need of education – a point hard to dispute.
I also receive a bunch of things about writing; classes, communities, and handy dandy tools to transform me into the next big whatever. I already have the tools – a pen, paper, and coffee that have catapulted me to the bottom rung of the ladder of commercial success.
This year promises to be more sedate, but hardly comatose. We’ve already done one trip to Texas with another booked for Mid-July. In between there will be another 10 day sojourn, this time to Georgia near Atlanta. After that the calendar looks empty as far as travel is concerned – until the Holidays late in the year.
According to the Weather Bunny on the TV today is supposed to be a dry day. I’m glad because later I’ll have to drag the recycling bin down to the curb for pickup later today.
A little piece of the jigsaw of my everyday life has fallen into place once more. About a month ago the Little Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood reopened and yesterday the Dollar Store right next to it has returned to active duty. Both places were hit by a pair of teenage arsonists last August. The little intestinal orifices were caught, but I was in Pot Sticker and Won Ton withdrawal for a long time. Now, praise to heaven above, both commercial spots are open again.
Throwback Thursday – Ireland
WHEN THEY SAY “CARRY-ON” LUGGAGE I don’t think that they mean luggage that has so much stuff in it that the Airline Cabin Crew, other passengers, Customs people, car rental people, and me start to carry on about it.
I must admit that my carry-on is just that, but in the same way that a 30 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer on wheels can be considered “portable.”
ONE OF THE THINGS I REALLY ENJOY about doing this blog is the freedom of expression it allows me. Monday through Friday is pretty much of a Nonsense Dance. I can let my “Silly Gene” run wild. Mutations happen.
Each week I know that I can come up with about five things that can make me, and hopefully a few readers, laugh – or at least giggle.
I’M NOT PICKY. REALLY, I’M NOT. I just like things done the way I want. Is that too much to ask? I think not. When things are not going the way I like, I tend to get cranky. This morning is a case in point.
The time: early this morning – about 6:45 AM. It is still dark outside. It is 30 degrees colder than it was yesterday at this time and I haven’t had my coffee yet.
When I stepped out into the cold the motion detector light mounted by the door does not go on so I have to inch my way to the car. It rained last night and there are patches of ice everywhere. Things are not going well and I am already starting to growl softly.
I made it to the car, turned the key to start it up and I am immediately blasted by 150 decibels of the Zak Brown Band. I must have not turned it off last night.
After putting my heart back in my chest I enjoyed the peaceful drive, all two blocks of it, to St. Arbucks – my oasis, my refuge, my aerie to let me observe the world below.
— Douglas Adams
I wish that more people would adopt that practice. As each day slops over into the next I become more and more exhausted by people who think that they have THE answer to, not only every question that people ask, but also to the questions that nobody bothers asking.
What is behind all of this? Lemme tell ya.
I LIKE THIS TIME OF DAY. The sun is not up yet. The only sounds I hear as I step outside are a few birds that are bothered by my presence as I bustle about opening and closing doors and starting the car. I try to be quiet. We do have neighbors after all.
“What do you think about the election?”
“What do you think about the Baseball Playoffs?”
“What do you think of this, that, and the other thing?”
I don’t answer those questions directly. I have become very adept at giving non-answer answers.
John Kraft is a writer living and working in Terre Haute, Indiana. He moved to the Midwest after 25 years in California where he worked as an actor, comedian, voice-over actor, as well as a writer. He now enjoys a saner pace of life with his wife, Dawn, who tries to keep him from embarrassing himself in public. Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog: Down the Hall on Your Left. My name is John. People are always asking where they can find "The John." My answer is: "Down the Hall on Your Left."