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

Archive for the category “Writing”

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 in a gravel parking lot 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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I Think I’ll Take The Bus

 

“HOLY LIABILITIES, BATMAN!” Yet another reason to stay off of Interstate 70 has just reared its ugly head. The first “Driverless Car” has come to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Who is your insurance agent?”).

Maybe it is a coincidence or someone is making a sly statement, but the headline on the story in the local fish-wrap reads thusly: “First Driverless Car Hits the Market in Terre Haute.” Given the recent problems with this new technology “Hits the Market” may be more prescient than they think.

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“A Blowtorch In The Wind”

WHAT IS GOING ON IN SEATTLE? It is still the middle of the night out there, but I’m sure that somebody must be at the St. Arbucks corporate wheel. For three days now they have been piping in almost non-stop Elton John songs into this store in Indiana.

Three days of an Elton John-a-thon and as soon as I mentioned it to the Barista here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “I’m Still Standing.”) the Elton John music came to a screeching halt and was replaced by something for your “Pickin’ and Grinnin’ Pleasure” – some serious country music with banjos and such. That lasted for all of ten minutes and then “Tiny Dancer” signaled a return to the Elton John Extravaganza. My guess is that whoever is the big Reggie Dwight fan had to go to the bathroom and his Cousin Lemuel, visiting from Grinders Switch, Tennessee changed the playlist. When Lemuel’s cousin returned from the Euphemism so did Mr. John.

After three days I felt that I had to take action. I was going to be Proactive! When it comes to music I’m not fussy, but still…three days?

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Sixteen

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Sixteen

“Luco. Hi. What a nice surprise. What’s that man doing up on that pole?”

Without taking his eyes from hers, he answered.

“I’d say he’s about to do a half-gainer into the sidewalk.”

“I don’t think I want to see that.”

“No. Let’s not watch. Let me buy you a cool drink. It’s hot out here.”

Marlee had just finished an iced tea, but she didn’t decline his offer.

As they walked they alternated between long minutes of silence and moments when they talked on top of each other.

“Marlee, have you enjoyed the street fair, so far?”

“Yes, I have. I’m not sure that I quite understand it all, but it has been… fun.”

“Good. It can be a bit daunting the first time you experience it. Actually, this year’s fair is rather calm.”

“A man hanging from a light pole, ready to fall into the street, is calm?”

“Well…he hasn’t fallen yet.”

“That’s the standard measurement? If he doesn’t fall to his death, things are calm?”

“Pretty much, but this is The Haight, so the calibration may be a bit screwed to the weird side of the scale.”

“I’m picking up on that.”

Sensing that Marlee wasn’t sharing his blasé acceptance of The Haight’s laissez-faire attitude toward life and death, Luco changed the subject.

“Tell me, Marlee. Just about everyone in San Francisco is into the Arts: Music, Acting, Painting, and so on. What is your Art?”

“I’m a musician. I play the cello.”

“Really? Professionally or just for the beauty of it?”

“Both. I was with the Cleveland Chamber Music Orchestra. I haven’t really played since my move here. I miss it.”

“Have you auditioned anywhere yet? There must be someplace that can use a talented cellist?”

“I need to get back in shape before I audition for anything. The cello can sound really awful if you’re not in top form. I need a place to practice.”

“Hmmm…I know that there are spaces over here on Page Street, at the old Gumption Theater space. I know that they have practice rooms. A lot of rock and rollers use them.”

I wasn’t aware of that, thank you. It would be convenient.”

“I’m a good man to know in The Haight.”

“So I gather.”

“And, I know that Pete, the owner of the People’s Café wants to put on some live music a couple nights a week. Interested?”

“Sure. Why not? It might be fun. Thanks, Luco.”

They shared a relaxed smile.

“Marlee, have you had anything to eat yet?”

“No. Any recommendations for a newcomer like me?”

Actually Yes, Mike Koberski’s ‘Flame Kielbasa’ is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

“Dreams or heartburn nightmares?”

“He’s right over there.”

Luco lifted his hand, using the book of poetry as a pointer. Marlee recognized the cover.

“‘Sonnets From The Portuguese?’ I would never have guessed you to be a fan of Browning.”

“What? Oh, this? I bought this for a friend. It’s not really my style.”

“A friend? I’m sure she is.”

“Actually…,” started Luco, but a sharply accented voice cut him off.

“Luco, my old friend!”

Through a thick pall of white smoke arising from the collection of barbeque grills, Marlee could make out the portly figure of a man, red-faced and sweating.

“Luco, come here,” called out the smoky-eyed chef.

Cutting through the frenetic crowd, Luco, taking Marlee by the hand, guided them over to the busy food stand. They went around to the side, close to where Mike Koberski was keeping tabs on dozens of spicy sausages as they popped and hissed in the flames. Mike waved a large stainless steel barbecue fork in greeting.

“Hiya, Mike. How’s business?”

“Today will be a great day, nice and warm.” He eyed Marlee through the smoke. “How’s your day, Luco?”

“Just fine. Mike, This is Marlee Owens, a newcomer to the street and to the Fair.”

Mike smiled and nodded. A large drop of sweat fell from his chin and sizzled on the grill.

“Welcome, Marlee. I see you’ve already met the most eligible bachelor in The Haight.”

Marlee smiled back and shot a quick glance at Luco, who looked a bit embarrassed, even though he was laughing.

“Nice to meet you, Mike and I don’t think that Luco is all that eligible. I hear he’s going steady with himself.”

Mike roared.

“You’re OK, girl. Have a ‘basa, on me.”

One bite of Mike Koberski’s ‘Flame Kielbasa’ and Marlee felt homesick for Cleveland. Both Mike and Luco were taken aback watching Marlee down the sausage without blinking an eye. Most people had a cold beer on the side to douse the fiery spices.

“Mike,” said Marlee, wiping her mouth daintily, enjoying the astonished looks on the men’s faces. “That was great, but Luco said you had a ‘Flaming’ kielbasa that is supposed to be really hot.”

“That was it,” stammered Mike.

“Oh? Well…it was very nice. I’m from Cleveland and we’d call that a ‘mild’ kielbasa. Very nice. I’m sure the little kids love them.”

Mike and Luco looked at each other, not quite knowing what to say. Marlee stood there, smiling sweetly at them, enjoying their confusion.

“One more thing, Mike. Give me a beer. My mouth is on fire.”

He handed her a cup of Bud Light and she poured it down her throat, not stopping to breathe. Both men started to laugh. After finishing the beer Marlee coughed and wiped her eyes.

“I had you two guys going there for a minute, didn’t I? Jesus H., Mike. What do you put in those things, napalm?”

“Yep,” said Mike. “Not far from it. Old family recipe. A fine mix of spices that will make the kielbasa nice and hot or take the rust off of any chrome surface.”

Marlee took a paper napkin from the counter and wiped at her eyes.

“Well, Mike, if I can’t sleep tonight I’ll know who to blame.”

“No matter how chilly it gets tonight when the fog comes in, you’ll be warm and comfortable,” added Luco.

Mike reached out and grabbed Luco’s arm.

“Christ, I almost forgot. Luco, I was hoping I’d see you today. I need your help.”

“You got it. What can I do, Mike?”

Mike turned to Marlee who was beginning to lose the flush from her cheeks as the fiery spices subsided.

“Marlee, you like sports? Baseball?”

“Sure. Baseball is life. The rest is details.”

“Great. Luco, I got two tickets to the Giants game next Saturday. I can’t go. Some family thing my wife forgot to tell me about until last night, but maybe you and Marlee might like to go?”

He looked at Luco and then at Marlee, and back again at Luco. Feeling a bit cornered, Luco finally spoke.

“Well…it sounds good to me. What about it, Marlee? Care to see our beautiful ballpark?”

Her initial reaction was negative. She didn’t relish the idea of spending a whole afternoon with a man she perceived as a depressed lothario, but it was a public place and it had been quite a while since she had been to a big league game.

“Who are they playing?”

“The Cardinals. It’ll be a great game,” said Mike, reaching into his shirt pocket for the tickets.

Marlee let a smile out for some fresh air.

“All right, Luco. If you promise to be a gentleman, I’ll go with you to the game.”

Luco bowed to Marlee. “I will be such a gentleman that you won’t even recognize me.”

Mike handed a slim white envelope to Luco as he winked flirtatiously at Marlee.

“Here you go. Enjoy the game for me. I’ll be sitting in a lawn chair in San Jose, sweating like a pig and eating birthday cake.”

“Thank you, Mike,” said Luco, “And I promise to behave myself, Marlee. I won’t climb any light poles while we’re together.”

“You better not, Bucko, because I won’t catch you if you fall.”

“’Bucko?’” Luco looked at Mike who was trying to not laugh as he turned a grill full of sausages.

Despite all of her misgivings and alarm bells, Marlee had to admit that she was attracted to the dark-haired barista. There was something about him. Several somethings, in fact, that had her emotions caught in a small tug-of-war between her mind and her heart. She was drawn to him on a very basic, physical level, while at the same time there were things about him that told her to walk the other way.

That book of sonnets in his hand was obviously for some other woman. His glibness with female customers and their intimations of breathless, passionate liaisons bothered her.
But, she thought, nothing could be safer and noncommittal than a few hours inside a stadium filled with 40,000 screaming baseball fans. Any smooth moves there would be easily deflected amid the chaos and Cracker Jack.

After a Day to Remember, one filled with music, colors and new friends Marlee walked with the flow of people heading home. Her trek was thankfully only one block. The sensory indulgence was exhausting and she was grateful that her apartment was so close.

She checked her mailbox and slowly climbed the stairs up to her door…which was standing wide open. Her heart skipped a beat as she hurried up from the landing. There was no sound coming from inside the apartment. She moved slowly through the open door straining to hear anything or anyone. She had her keys bristling in her clenched fist. There was no one in her bathroom. A quick glance said the same for the kitchen. She could see that the living room was empty. That left just her bedroom and its closed door. The only sound she could hear were those rising up from the street just outside her windows. She rested her hand on the doorknob. On Haight Street a Diesel bus roared away from the bus stop as Marlee turned the knob and pushed open the door.

The bedroom was empty. There was nobody in her apartment, but she was cringing with the sensation that someone had been there. Nothing seemed to be missing. Everything was as she had left it just a few hours ago. It was all the same, but there was a difference. It wasn’t until two days later that she noticed that her copy of “Leaves of Grass,” the one she thought was missing, was in its place on her bookshelf.

Time After Time

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.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “Walk A Mile In Her…Nevermind”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015

 

Walk A Mile In Her…Nevermind

BET AWARDS '14 - Show

ONE OF THOSE TRULY GREAT MOMENTS in Television history happened the other day.

On “The Price is Right” game show with Drew Carey a contestant won a prize that, chances are, she will not be using.

About ten years ago Ms. Danielle Perez was in an accident and lost both legs. She has used a wheelchair since then and has continued on with her life.

When she attended the taping of the game show she was selected to be a contestant. If you look at the video at this link http://www.thewrap.com/the-price-is-right-awards-a-treadmill-to-a-wheelchair-bound-contestant-video/  you will see that she played the game and won! Her prizes were a sauna and a treadmill.

Immediately a large “hoo-haw” about this erupted on the internet, calling it a “Cringing moment,”  “Embarrassing,” and similar comments.

Cringing for whom? Embarrassing for whom? It wasn’t either for Ms. Perez. She seemed quite happy about it all.

Those “Cringing moment” comments come from those people who look at Ms. Perez and see only a wheelchair. They are “Embarrassed” for her. They think that Ms. Perez is the disability, not someone with a disability.

The Politically Correct Vultures began to circle overhead immediately making demands on the game show producers to give Ms. Perez special treatment. They demand that she be offered the value of the prize in cash, even though that is not a standard practice.

The “PC’ers” are “Outraged” about this whole thing, but they are always “Outraged” at everything. Some people collect stamps for a hobby, the PC’ers get “Outraged.”

I’ve read several stories about Ms. Perez and her new treadmill. She is a woman who has her head screwed on quite nicely. She thinks the whole thing is funny.

IT IS FUNNY!

Because Ms.Perez is not fitting into the PC Bigots stereotype I would expect that they will shortly turn on her and begin to call her names.

As you may have picked up by now: this posting is not so much about Ms. Perez and her new treadmill as it is about the twisted world of Political Correctness.

The acolytes on the PC altar pretend that they care more about people’s feelings than the rest of us. I suppose that in a way they do. Of course they care because they want to control how people feel and behave. For them it is all about power and control. PC is a weapon to be used to force their perceived enemies (anyone who isn’t them) to conform and act as they demand.

They are nothing more than the schoolyard bullies who want to dictate how you must live and think.

And if you don’t think they are in it to see what money they can extort, you are very much mistaken. It’s a Con Game.

Ms Perez ain’t buying into it. She is a thinking adult who refuses to be used as a crowbar to intimidate the PC’ers latest target.

Someone asked me, “What is she supposed to do with a treadmill?”

The basic answer is, of course, “Whatever she damn well pleases.”

She can refuse the prize. All prize winning contestants can do that.

She can take the treadmill and give it to a friend or family member.

She can sell the darned thing on Ebay if she wants.

She can donate the treadmill to the charity of her choice and get one very nice tax deduction because it would be valued at what the game show said – Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – which is usually higher than what it could be purchased for in a store.

Ms. Perez is going to do quite nicely, thank you.

I’m sorry if I come across as a bit caustic about this but I have had to deal with these idiots all my life. If it’s too much, don’t worry. You’ll get over it.

If you are “Outraged” – all I can say is

Bite Me.

***

Please tune in tomorrow for another chapter in our continuing soap opera, “Down The Hall On Your Left” brought to you by a couple cups of coffee and an attitude.

That’s No Way To Treat A Lady

Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

I don’t think so.

WHEN I WOKE UP THIS MORNING I staggered into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. After the initial shock wore off I noticed that there was a Ladybug clinging to the middle of the glass. At first I thought that I had grown a very colorful zit overnight. I realized that it was not a zit when it started to move across the mirror. My zits rarely do that.

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We Need The Real Thing

IN AN ACT OF SELF-PRESERVATION I have decided to start thinking about where, when, and how Dawn and I might squeeze out some vacation time this Summer.

It has been a while since our last true vacation. Our last vacation was a real doozy to be sure – seven weeks in Ireland, but that was then and this is now.

I know – it seems like we have been going to and from Texas every other day, but those trips don’t qualify as vacations. Those are family visits. I’m not complaining. They are all wonderful people, but visiting with Family is no vacation. We need the real thing.

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A Man, A Plan, A T-Shirt

THEY SAY THAT IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE. If you are selling cars or pizzas I can certainly agree. However, I’m not sure that this fellow has approached this in the right way.

He is obviously looking to find a young lady to spend some time with. He is lonely. He feels that advertising is a good way to answer his needs. His choice of media might be lacking in mass appeal, but he is trying.

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