Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Does It All Mean?

So here we are.

Hmm.

The end of another calendar year and what have I to say?

Usually an urge to wax philosophically will take root and I end up drawing on recent history to find messages and meanings in the way I stumbled and tripped my way through this past year. As hard as I try, today I am having no luck finding answers or for that matter even questions. What does this mean?

I will often finish a year counting my blessings. Certainly there are many I ignore most of the year, just taking them for granted as my due. But let's be fair. Blessings often go unnoticed because that which curses us is more insistent on our attention. Blessings go about their business whether I pay them any mind or not.

I am not ungrateful for the positive aspects of my Life. More often than not, it is just me being unmindful of them. The immediate needs of any given day, week, or season often take all the concentration I am still able to muster. This leaves precious little brain matter to the joy of positive contemplation.

If I was a religious man, I guess I should be thanking the Lord for what I have but not blaming him for what I don't have. Seems kind of unfair to me. If my blessings come on his whims, then so should not he be held responsible for the curses? In my mind, I have no one to thank or curse for the reality that surrounds me. Any pluses are most likely the luck of the draw. Any negatives probably have my fingerprints all over them. Seems to work out that way anyway.

I could go global on you all and condemn us collectively for the mess we have gotten ourselves in. Point out our human faults, our specie specific failings and lay into us like I somehow have a leg to stand on. But I won't. Because I don't........ Have a leg to stand on.

So what does it all come down to? This final day of 2009?

I made it through one more year. I beat someones odds somewhere one more time. Life is a bonus I shouldn't waste on anguishing and agonizing. Yet I cannot seem to help it. Whining is what I do best.

Ya'll Have a great time tonight. Just try to not end up like this guy..........


Image passed onto me courtesy of David Barber

Sculpture image from Julia Hyman Studio - "Contemplation"

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fair & Balanced

I know this is serious business - This terrorist who had a mind to set off his whitey tighties and take out another Jet here in America. And I have tried my damnedest to take it so very seriously as the terror alert aficionados would have me take it. But I am sorry, this picture of shorts packed to explode but didn't is funny. And I feel guilty about it too. What if they had exploded? Would I feel or even know the comedy that laid in wait inside this guys britches? No I most likely would be pissed off and angry all over again at an enemy that has no reason to exist than to destroy the life I have.

So as I work through this war of emotions inside, I noticed on Fox Spews this morning (Yes, I am guilty of tuning into Fox Spews on occasion. Just to be fair and balanced you know) Anyway, so I am watching the vacuous cast of Fox & Friends take on this aborted terrorist attack in the skies over Detroit. Well, they were all over it like stink on shit. In their Fair & Balanced way of course, they brought on the one expert who would offer the most objective take on this issue based on the question, "Is Al Qaeda stepping up attacks because we have a new president?" This former CIA clown immediately tee-d off on "the new president", squarely placing the blame for this attack and the recent shootings at Ft Hood on Obama Man's shoulders. According to him Obama has muzzled the worldwide efforts of the terrorist hunters. If this is the case, then why has Al Qaeda apparently moved to Yemen?

Hmm. Seems to me whatever network we have working in the background, no matter how flawed, must be doing something right if these guys are resorting to wearing bombs inside their shorts. And was not the response on the plane exactly what we would have hoped for? Passengers did not sit idle and allow this clown to complete his mission. Several jumped him.

What struck me though was during the Q&A of this talking head, Yemen was an obvious talking point that popped up. How Yemen may now be the new Al Qaeda central. Lost in, or was it just brushed over, was the fact that two of the primary Al Qaeda leaders that have emerged in Yemen were once detained at Gitmo. Their release in 2007 happened during Dubya's reign was not given more than a cursory mention. That their release to Saudi Arabia for "rehabilitation" was mentioned and focused on some but not condemned outright was interesting also. Obama is the man we should blame. Believe it.

Damn, I just love the irony of Fox Spews and their "fair and balanced" take on things.

What fries my ass about the crap surrounding current terrorist madness is this country's insistence on wasting time trying to place blame on one side of the aisle or the other. Al Qaeda does not care what party we belong to. Al Qaeda does not even care if their efforts fail. They care about terror, creating internal divisiveness and making us afraid. They are the enemy. Not the Democrats. Not the Republicans. They are. Any blame for a rise in their terrorist activities is on them and their backers. Anyone who considers Obama "soft" on terrorism should be ashamed of themselves for playing into Al Qaeda's hands so easily.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My First & Maybe Only Movie Review

Well last night my wife, daughter and I went to see "Avatar". Figuring that the special effects would be better in the 3-D Imax rendition, we traveled an hour to a spanking new Imax theater they pasted on the side of some theater down to the coast. Cost us $15 per ticket.

So what did I think?

First lets get through the Imax thing. I had never seen anything but a couple of museum movies twenty years ago. One at the Smithsonian and one in Philly. Love the Imax. It is definitely cool. Like sex, as far as I am concerned there is no such thing as bad Imax. But like sex, I have not enjoyed all of it there is to enjoy. So let's just say, Imax is very cool in my book.

The 3-D experience? The last time I saw a 3-D movie was back in the 1970s. It was Andy Warhol's "Frankenstein" and I was tripping hard on orange barrels. 3-D in 2009 was a bit of a let down without any chemical enhancement. It was okay, but the sound from the two million jillion speakers was better.

So that leaves the movie. I can think of no Cameron movie I have ever seen that really did much for me. Yeah he is a master of special effects, but I am a story guy first and foremost. The imagery and effects were excellent in this movie. But like his other movies, they are not enough to carry a weak standard SciFi pulp type story. Which when it comes down to it, this was.

Don't get me wrong. I almost always enjoy his movies the first time. As I did this one. I would say go see it in the theater because that is where you will get the most out of it. Imax rocks!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God's Country

A blurb on a local news show caught my eye tonight. A woman author was being interviewed about her recent book. I have no clue what the book is called or what it is about, but it is set in Wiscasset, Maine. What caught my attention was when the host of the show asked her why she set her story in Wiscasset. I assume this woman was from away. Her answer gave me that impression.

"I had heard there was a village in Maine on the coast that had a sign at the town limits that said "The prettiest village in Maine." So she visited Wiscasset and yes, she has determined by this one visit to this one town in Maine that it is indeed the "prettiest village in Maine"

Hmm. I have been to Wiscasset many times. I have been through Wiscasset many times. I never gave much thought about how pretty it was. Just another Coastal Town in Maine that unfortunately sandwiches the hated and deservedly maligned US Route One. Route One in the Summer is the Tourist Road from Hell at least 4 months of the years. The rest of the time it is just a pain in the ass. So in my humble opinion, Wiscasset is not anything special. But then I don't live there. I have not set a story there. I have nothing invested there other than the hours wasted in bumper to bumper traffic, all of us just trying to get through it,past it, see it in our rear view mirrors.

Yeah, the coast is pretty I guess and many of the towns sitting on the Atlantic are classic old villages with crusty lobster boats in the harbors. Old Farts in foul weather gear hang out and look cool. Low tide smells like low tides most everywhere. But the best thing I like about the towns on the coast is they keep most of the flounders from away, away from my part of Maine.

Where I live has a sizable summer population, but the folks who come here from away are usually old timer visitors. Been coming here for years. I don't have to answer dumb questions that tourists over to the Coast ask. Most folks visiting the Acton area know where they are going, where they are staying and who they need to know to make their visit trouble free. I can't remember the last time I had to say, "Ayuh, you just can't get there from here."

All of this reminded me of a tee shirt the Acton Trading Post sold for some years to folks from away who were va-kaying on the numerous lakes in the area. The Tee Shirt sold for $10. Silk screened on the front in an arc - " Acton, Maine" and then in a reverse arc under it - "God's Country". For some reason that Tee shirt always tickled me.

The image to the left is a post card once sold locally back in the day. This church is now known as the Covenant Baptist Church. When I played softball for them in the 1980s, it was simply the Acton Baptist Church. Regardless, this image is from around 1920. It is a view as seen from across the Maine, New Hampshire border looking over the Salmon Falls River in Milton Mills, New Hampshire. This view is now blocked by trees, but the church looks the same.

Idyllic, with classic New England looks, Acton is as nice a town as any in the state. But hardly anything special. It is no more God's Country than Wiscasset is the prettiest village in Maine. But if meaningless claims bring in more dollars, hey, I say go for it.

In case I don't post til after Xmas, please have yourself a Merry one......

Monday, December 21, 2009

FFF #14 - The Bar at the End of the Road

Cormac gave us no options this week. We had no poll of starting sentences to vote on. He provided us with the starter sentence. In addition, he laid down some rather severe ground rules I thought when I first read them. Though now that I have followed those ground rules, I am happy he did. I pushed myself further than I have so far.

The rules this week

"The story cannot center around a crime and it cannot be set in a post-apocalyptic world. It also cannot be a pseudo-existentialist piece. The starting line is - "Well, how did I get here" "

Here goes-

" Well, how did I get here? Funny you should ask. I have been wondering the same thing. I started out this journey to find myself. Instead, I found you and this bar at the end of the road."

Berto leaned on the worn and dented planking that served as the bar top. One hand fondled an empty shot glass. The other hand was busy reaching for bar nuts.

Jackson, the barkeep repeated, "Well you haven't answered my question. How did you get here?"

"I rode my bike."

"From where?"

Berto held up his empty glass. "Fill this again, toss a draft on the side and I'll tell you the whole story."

Jackson was mildly interested. The bar had only been open for an hour. The rush of sun burned tourists would not start until sometime after they had scarfed down their complimentary breakfasts and sobered up from their previous nights drinking and debauchery. This crusty old fart leaning on his bar had the possibility of making his morning. He filled the shot glass with four fingers of the stock whiskey and yanked a draft into a scratched and chipped lager glass.

Setting the beer and the shot on the bar, Jackson spoke. "Got any money?"

Berto grinned. Almost like he expected this question, a crumpled fifty dollar bill fell from his hand onto the bar. Jackson grunted and pushed the drinks over to Berto. "You said you have a story?"

Berto grabbed the shot glass and tossed the whiskey back with one gulp. His face contorted as he slammed the glass upside down on the bar. "Whew-ee, that's tasty! He turned his attention to the draft. Picking it up with both hands he tipped it back and drained it. "Thirsty work, pedaling a bike in this heat." Shoving the glasses back at Jackson, Berto demanded, "Another round my good man and pour yourself a glass of your favorite liquid refreshment. On me of course."

"I don't drink alcohol. I just serve it."

Berto looked at Jackson with slitted eyes. "Of course you don't. But pour yourself something. If I expect a man to listen to my tale of woe, I should at least keep him well hydrated."

While Jackson set him up with another draft and a shot, Berto began his story.

"Typical tale you know. Broken marriage, broken career, broken life." Berto took a small sip from the shot glass. Tipping his head back with his eyes closed, he let the whiskey linger in his mouth before he swallowed.


"I started this latest and final journey of mine in Vermont up in the States. I left my family, my home, and everything that was my previous life three years ago. I had a contracting business. I had a partner. My partner started diddlin my wife, diddlin the books, and one day I find there is no business left and my wife has moved in with him. And can you believe this Bitch? She emptied the house but left me the bike that now leans up against the front of your bar. Taped to the bike were some of those legal papers suing me for divorce. I said screw that. Dropped the papers on the floor of the garage, got on the bike and well, here I am three years later drinking your whiskey at the end of the road."

Jackson stopped his busy work and looked at Berto. He had dealt with others who had found his bar "at the end of the road". Usually just down on their luck US citizens who had run out of money and time. Seems this guy was no different. "So what did you do the three years it took you to end up here?"

Berto sipped some more whiskey. He did not speak right away. It seemed he was trying to figure out just what he had done for three years.

"You know, I am not sure. I rode my bike. I worked when I needed money. And I rode my bike some more." Berto swung around on the bar stool and looked out of the smoke encrusted windows. "I guess all I did these last three years was exist. Take up space. Riding a bike thousands of miles somehow doesn't mean much if there was no point in the first place."

Berto swung back around to face Jackson and the unfinished drinks still there leaving rings on the stained and tired bar top. Carefully Berto smoothed out the fifty dollar bill, taking pains to unfold each folded corner. When he had finished, he grabbed the shot glass and tossed back what whiskey was left. He grabbed the draft and drained it one more time. "Son, I guess there is no point. We live and we die. And that's about the size of it." Berto climbed off the bar stool, stretched, and turned to Jackson.

"Keep the change." And Berto walked out.

Jackson had been keeping bar here long enough to know what came next. He waited ten minutes and then called the police. "Looks like we have another jumper...... What's that? Oh, this is Jackson.......... Yeah, last bar before the wharf........What?......Oh, he just left a minute ago. .........Yeah, I seem to get all the winners don't I?"

His obligations to Berto and the police now met, Jackson hung up and went back to prepping the bar for the afternoon losers visiting here for the weather and beer with lemons stuffed in them. He noticed the fifty dollar bill still laid out on the bar. Looking at it, he realized this was the last fifty Berto would ever spend. He put it in his pocket.
____________________________

I must have started six or seven different tales spun off the opening line. Each one hit a snag early on. I tried to force something out of each until frustration made me start a new one. I am reminded of something I think Mark Twain said about writing stories. I am not quoting his words but his sentiment as I remember it - "You can't force a story. A good story writes itself."

Now, I am in no way even considering what I just wrote as "good" in the sense of literary achievement. What makes this story good for me is I finally found something that evolved of it's own accord. What you just read took me only an hour to write before editing. Some of the others I spent several hours wrestling with before I shit-canned them.

Until next time......................

Five Years Ago Today

It was five years ago today I wrote my first blog post. I am not sure why making note of this date is important, but I guess we humans cannot resist the urge to mark our territory, whether it be by a fence, a wall, pissing on trees, or creating markers on calendars.

In December, 2004 I had no clue about blogs. A woman on a forum that shall remain anonymous turned me onto them. She had recently started an exercise blog to help the obese of the World get a handle on their misery by showing them how skinny people stayed skinny. She posted for a couple of months and then her blog died. It just stopped.

My blog, well, it didn't amount to much. Disjointed ramblings of an aging hippy redneck wannabe. Hell, I couldn't even perform the most basic of blogging skills I now take for granted. It was at least two years before I even turned on the comments or learned how to post images and links. All the original blog did was supply me with a place to vent neatly.

It would have been so easy to to blow it off. But I didn't. And five years later I have hundreds of thousands of words archived somewhere deep in a cave in Greenland, South Dakota, or maybe just down the road. Who knows where this shit goes when it is not on the screen?

Stick with something long enough and I guess that something gets better or at least easier to do. My writing is better now and I actually have figured out how to add things like images, links, and other blogging fun stuff.

So in the best traditions laid down by forebears I never knew, I officially and with great flourish do now hereby declare this a day of extreme local celebration. I would petition Obama Man to have this day forever a day of national remembrance. Unfortunately for the country and me, the man has way too much on his plate what with his current efforts to save the planet.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weather Report

I just finished commenting on Billy's Blog about how it was not snowing. Now it is. To make it more interesting, the weather forecast calls for light snow the next three or four days.

Light snow? Over the years I have learned to be suspicious of this term. I have also learned to not trust those weather maps they punch up with snow fall amounts for the different areas. Especially for my area. Acton is right on the line time after time for not so much snow and snow up to our keisters. If they call for 4 inches in our area, we can assume we will get double that amount. We are considered "coastal" by those smart guys who consider such things. But our weather emulates the weather coming in from the foothills of the White Mountains. More often than not we wake up to many inches of snow and eight miles away, they get a dusting.

I'm not complaining mind you. Live here long enough and you learn to turn a deaf ear to anything beyond the prediction of snow, rain, or sun. What we end up with is usually what they claimed, just not even close to the amounts they claimed we would get.

I just got off the phone with my daughter who lives in Richmond, Virginia. They got walloped with 14" of snow. Being born and bred in Maine, my kid is playing it safe and not venturing out today. She knows now how badly folks in the South handle snow. From my memories of living in the DC area, I know it also. Anyway, as much as I would have loved to share in this recent snow, I am just as glad we are only getting a brush by. I have all Winter to accumulate more snow than they will ever see.

Later..............

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another Dumb & Dumber Moment




" Your Hose is too short
Your Pump is too weak
Stand closer to the seat dude
Or you'll Piss on Your Feet"









The words scrawled on the wall above the stand up toilet caused me to laugh out loud. A generous and boisterous laugh. Immediately I tried to stop, but the damage was done. I could feel the eyes of others turning my way. One did not interrupt the solitude and false perception of being alone in a men's bathroom. These guys were concentrating and now I just broke the mood. Way to go. Laughing out loud in a public toilet can bring down the wrong kind of attention.

Totally embarrassed now, I go to zip up. Shit! Seems I didn't pack it all in and now I have my business pinched hard in the zipper. I begin to double over like my butt is somehow trying to run away from the pain. I want to scream. It hurts oh so ........... If I scream now on the heels of the belly laugh, someones going to beat on me, I just know it. But damn it hurts.

It will hurt more when I unzip that which I have stupidly zipped up. Holding back the tears and the screams of agony, I yank hard and yes,...............It hurts even worse this time. And still I dare not make a sound. These clowns already think I am odd.

Trying to regain my composure, I think I am acting cool as I stiff leg it over to the sink to wash up. All I can think about is the pain while frantically waving my hand under the stupid sensor to get some flippin water going. Nothing. No water.

I look up into the mirror over the sink. My face is all red and that vein on my forehead is pulsing hard enough I think it's gonna blow. Again I begin frantic hand waving trying to get some water to flow. A hand reaches over and hits the top of the faucet head. "Bub, you have to hit it. Waving ain't gonna cut it."

I look over and this huge guy is standing there. The look on his face tells me I am not acting cool. He is doing his best to not laugh. "Uh, Thanks." I turn back, wash my hands and move on to the blow dryer.

I find the door and leave. The sound of several male voices laughing follow me out into the daylight. I return to the car and the journey with wounded pride and wounded body. My darling wife asks me what's wrong. "Nothing", I say, preferring to not have more salt poured on my wounds.
__________________________________

This happened to me on one of my trips south some years ago. The tale speaks for itself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Eureka Moment #33

Seems I have temporarily misplaced my ability to sit down and empty whatever is in my head in whatever manner I feel the urge to use. Lately I have become obsessed cursed with the need to actually think about what I want to write about. In an effort to write better I have stopped firing from the hip. Must be all this fiction I have been fooling around with lately.

I usually go free range when I am in an up mood. My up moods in recent days have been few and far between. I want to blame Winter, my shop on the brink of closing, and the generally shitty attitude I see all around me. It certainly cannot be anything I have done, not done, or undone.

I partially blame "Pop Culture" and the fact they even use the word "Culture" in a term that describes human activities that most days do not even creep up on the notion of "Cultured". The rest of the blame obviously lays on the shoulders of Obama Man. He is our president and therefore anything that goes wrong, will go wrong, might go wrong, or won't go wrong but we think it will go wrong is his fault.

So I will gladly take what small upticks in attitude and small successes as may fall in my general vicinity. Today I am mildly happy to announce a new gadget or technique has been added to my blog. This addition is something I have been puzzling over for a long time. I could have taken the slow but sure route to securing this new tool of writing wizardry by taking the time to learn how to do it. But like most things I have done in Life, I obviously preferred to stumble across the answer solution after more than a few years of saying, "Oh you think you're so cool with that...." "I wish I could do that."

Because I seemed to have consumed a silly pill at breakfast, or maybe it was one of Stubby's righteous farts overwhelming my brain.......Anyway it would appear massive and possibly fatal meltdowns have occurred in the precious small amount paltry and insignificant pile of common sense I up to now had stored safely away in my cranial coffers. As I cast an eye across the barren landscape inside, there is nothing but smoke this AM. I figured I would share my excitement at learning something new, but not tell fill you in on what it is was I finally figured out. Why? Hell Shit, I don't know why. Does anyone ever really know why they do everything they do?

Let's Just say Whatever it was that caused my latest moment of mania does not matter. What matters is not Health Care, Obama or the latest stupidity coming from Rupert's Network. What matters is are we having a good time? Well are ya punk?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Cook - 100 words

It seems I need to edit this. So here goes

The secret to cooking was patience. Don knew this, but time was not on his side here. Outside forces Unexpected company had forced his hand. Company They would be dropping by arriving in less than three hours. Here he was cleaver in hand trying to figure which appendage body part to chop up first. The 20 gallon pot was just starting to warm. There would be no time to offer up a proper feast. A quick stew comprised of smaller cuts would have to do. First he needed to remove the rings and that watch. Metal never added much to the taste of a good stew.
___________________________

I kept seeing these 100 word challenges so I thought some practice was in order. Show some "patience" if you will while I cooked up something that was 100 words long, yet still conveyed a complete meal, uh I mean story.

After the comments, I realized this effort was not even close to my usual mediocre attempts. Taking everyone's comments to mind, I have redone it. Makes more sense now I think.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cold

It's cold out there. Damn cold. It has been colder, but this year it seems colder. Maybe it was the almost summer like November we had. And maybe one more winter has dug deeper into my bones sooner than expected. Regardless, it's damn cold out there.

Entering my 29th straight Winter here in Maine, I wonder why I always have to reacquaint myself with the cold. You'd think that after all this time, it would be like slipping into some old shoes that immediately make me feel at home. But no. Every winter I suffer this tough but brief period to acclimate my body and hopefully my mind to the next three months of snow blowing, ice scrapping, and shivering in the car for fives miles before it warms up.

It's not that I am especially sensitive to the cold. Actually it is more the opposite. I will wear shorts and flip flops in 30 degree weather if the Sun's out and there is no wind. My wife and I keep our house thermostat set at 60'F. On occasion, we will bump it up to 65'F. But then once we have warmed up, it quickly gets reset to 60'F. We don't do this out of any notion of conserving, saving the planet, or saving us money. We just like a cool house.

Many old farts from Maine move South in the Winter. The annual migration is now well under way. Too many tough Winters piled up I guess. I always said I would never do that. I lived in the South as a boy and hated it. Hot sticky weather sucks in my opinion. More so than bone chilling cold. This tough guy attitude of mine was fine when all my limbs were still somewhat limber. But now that my appendages are starting to rebel, I can relate to the desire to spend Winter in more friendly climates. Today anyway. That's for sure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

FFF #13 - Ten Percent

The starter sentence this week from Friday Flash Fiction is an odd beginning for a story. But a story has to begin somewhere. Without any more fanfare - "Ten Percent"

As the rumble receded westward, a fine layer of dust settled on the tall stack of vintage condom boxes. Wilky sat there in the gathering dust looking at the box of rubbers. He had spotted them under that bar top when he dove for cover after that first 85mm round from the Bolshi T34 hit the far wall.

Wilky had gone into the burned out bar for some swag like he always did when out on a scavenger patrol. There was always some undiscovered treasure out there in the devastated wasteland that had some value. Not this time. Condoms were the last thing on Earth anyone needed or wanted. With so many dead, thoughts of population control were the furthest thing from people's minds. Wilky grabbed them anyway. You never know.

To make sure the fading rumble was really the T34 moving on to find new targets, Wilky waited a few more moments before popping out of the now flattened building. The acrid smell of explosives, diesel fumes and his lung full of dust caused Wilky to cough and hack as he stepped out into the hazy daylight. He called out for Adams, the guy he had gone on patrol with. Nothing. Adams and the thrashed 350 Honda motorcycle that brought them both here were gone as if they never existed. Must have taken a direct hit. Bits and pieces were all he could find. Wilky was on his own.

Wilky did not grieve for his companion. Adams was dead. He was not. The chaos of the last 12 years had knocked such useless sentiments out of the Human Race. Humanity had managed to reduce itself to the basics again. This time, the transformation might just be their last hurrah. Only ten percent or so of the six billion souls jamming the planet still drew a breath. Wilky was one of the unlucky ten percent. He started to hoof it east. Maybe he would make camp before they moved on.

"Charlie? Charlie! Where's Wilky and Adams ferchrisakes?"

Charlie was busy with a spoon chasing the last remnants of the beans left in a blackened can. He looked up. "Wilky's the only one who made it back. Lost the Honda also. Said they got 'bushed. Never knew the Bolshis were holed up there waiting."

"Dammit, dammit, dammit. That means we're down to two Bradleys and what, one moped. Well this trip's been a bust. Tomorrow we head back to the Enclave."

Measured against the immediate drama of bombings, murders, and regional scandals occurring on a certain day twelve years previous, the incident that marked the tipping point from which Mankind might not recover was hardly noticed. It was reported that the American DOD had been hacked into. The worm left sat dormant inside the system for another six months before it began to download NSA files onto the Internet. Across the planet government secrets were being exposed to the light of day. No country was spared. Accusations flew. Already tense nations became more tense. Eventually someone fired off a nuke. And New Delhi disappeared. Then Pakistan disappeared. China began expanding it's borders and territorial waters to include all of southern Asia and a sizable chunk of Siberia. Russia and then the USA pushed back.

Surprisingly, not many nuclear weapons were used in the following 4 years. The attacks and counter attacks came in through back doors as biological weapons, dirty bombs, terrorist attacks, and sabotage. Then a new bug, a super bug no one had control of blanketed the planet with bodies in a little less than six months. Suddenly there were no countries to speak of. There was no manufacturing to speak of. There was no agriculture on a large enough scale to support the remaining population. Anarchy swept over the land. Humanity broke into packs fighting over scraps.

Wilky had been an accountant in a high end firm in the financial district of New York City. It was on his annual hunting trip in Maine when New York City got hit. He lost his wife in the initial attack and he never found his kids. He wandered up and down Ninth Avenue for days until he was swept up in one of the many refugee sweeps the military performed after the attack. He was pressed into service. More because of the hunting rifle he carried and his potential ability to use it than any possible worth he might have as an accomplished and previously successful accountant.

And now here he was seven years later somewhere in what used to be Pennsylvania trying to explain why he had not been blown up with Adams and the 350 Honda.

"Lucky I guess", was all he could come up with.

******

"Godfrey, your chosen species is certainly tenacious. I will give you that. It has taken much longer to wipe them off the planet than it did those slow lumbering creatures you created for the last game."

"Well, the rule change helped this time. I always thought that meteor gambit of yours was a cheap shot. It appears the judges agreed. Um, it looks like you have played your last card. What say you concede this one? I still have over ten percent of my pieces in place and left on their own, they will rebuild. You can't win."

With his chin on his clasped hands, Santanx perused the game board. He knew all he could do was delay the inevitable. Godfrey had indeed won this round. "Done. Until our next match then. Same time next week?" Santanx tossed back that last shot and flipped off his control player. Godfrey reciprocated. The board went dark.

The two ancient souls reached across the table, shook hands and went their separate ways.

Thanks again to Cormac for sponsoring this.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Exercising Our Right To Be Stupid


My good friend Utah Savage posted yesterday about what our national identity is. "Who Are We" , she asks. And then as many others have done, she blames GW Bush and his band of clowns for the mess we are in now.

As much as it would suit my mood to blame Bushco for what we are experiencing now, I cannot do that. They certainly own a sizable chunk of the blame. But in my opinion, much of what we are experiencing now has it's roots in events and policies from over forty years ago. And if we really want the blame to find all those involved, we might as well go back as far as President Monroe. Many administrations and Congresses have their hand in the stupidity Obama is dealing with now. And so far, he seems content to continue the stupidity.

America came of age during the Imperialistic age of a Europe intent on exploiting anything they could for their own interests. Our geopolitical roots date back to this idea that the World is our oyster. Economic power backed by military muscle.

Rather than take to heart the failures of the Euro Imperialism, we stepped up when it was our turn and repackaged the policy mistakes the Europeans made and went down the same path. While our approach was maybe less severe and was wrapped with false good intentions, when we didn't get what we wanted, we fell back on the tried and true methods of military intervention.

This mentality or should I say this geopolitical approach has a finite shelf life. History has proven it time and time again starting back as far as recorded history records. The predictable cycle is now turning a corner for the United States. Just as Europe had to adjust to the US shoving it's way into the top tier, the US needs to come to grips with the idea that we need to make room at the top for others.

As much as I would like to think that the times we live in are somehow different than the times experienced in the past, the scenarios remain the same even though the riches being sought and coveted are different. Our world seems to be set up on the idea that power flows to those who control the most people, land, resources. The US no longer enjoys even controlling one of these vital things. We have become the 21st century version of 19th century Great Britain. A nation that consumes the most but produces almost none of it. We have created our own decline.

The sooner we accept this notion, the sooner we will begin the right kind of recovery. But nothing nurses a grudge harder than a nation realizing it is falling by the wayside. We are a wounded animal and I fear that rather than think our way through the upcoming shuffling of power, we will strike out and try to retain or regain what we have lost. These are very dangerous times. And so far, I am not pleased with how we are handling it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Meme

What follows is a meme of a kind I have yet to participate in. Awarded to yours truly because I know he secretly hates me, Cormac has cursed me with this story I am expected to continue for a time and then pass on to five other unlucky souls to keep it going. This meme was started by I, Splotchy. Head there or over to Cormac Writes who tagged me for a better explanation.

Without further adieu - Cormac wrote

The glass landed on the main concourse floor and the strung Christmas lights around the mall made the floor glitter like a field of glittering gems. Out of Hot Topic came a huge tasseled-shod foot and the glass cracked like ice under the foot's immense weight. Above that antiquated shoe was a massive muscular leg, clad in green tights.

The elder Mrs. Hajba knows what this creature is and she screams out its name, yet no one understands her. Mostly because everyone else is too busy screaming, but also because the only person would understand, her daughter Anastasia, is across the mall at T.G. McFunster's...trying to find husband number four, lest her, and her mother be deported.

This being that apparently is unknown to America, stands some sixteen feet tall in bright green and red clothing that would be more suitable to the Renaissance. The brute is muscular and misshapen, with veins that bulge and throb at a preternaturally speed. Its skin is bright white, and its teeth silver and black like tinsel. The eyes of the beast have no pupils or irises to speak of. They could best be described as giant red, opaque Christmas ball ornaments.

Mrs. Hajba summons every brain cell that American TV soaps haven't manged to destroy yet and she yells at the security guard, "It's Ghost of Kreestmass Disappoint-ted!"


**** My contribution

Christmas was especially hectic here at the largest Mall in the Universe. Jenkins had been temporarily transferred over from his normal eight hours of checking doors at the local high school to double shifts here at the mall. On any given day starting in November, as many as 1,ooo,ooo shoppers a day flocked here to drop their credits in one or more of the 3000 shop til you drop stores found inside it's ten story 5000 acre complex. Increased traffic meant more shoplifting, assaults, and an uptick in the usual run of the mill bag thefts and purse snatchings. Jenkins definitely did not consider the quarter an hour raise to be enough compensation for what he had to put up with here. Nodding off sitting on a hard chair at the high school seemed like heaven about now.

"Base. Come in Base."

"Jenkins, that you? What's the problem? Jeezus guy, hold the mic away from your mouth some. I thought we went over that. The feed back is terrible."

"Uh, well okay, gotcha Base. Seems one of those new Tron androids got loose. Looks like the big one in the window display as a matter of fact. He's headed for food court 23."

"Jenkins, that display cannot move. They promised us that it was completely non-functional. Get your shit together and check it out."

"Base, that display maybe is supposed to be inoperative, but I tell you something big has just made a helluva mess from Hot Topic to the big tree display here on floor five. I see some woman up ahead waving at me. Maybe she has a clue. Jenkins out."

"Lady, lady." Jenkins shook the woman on the floor. She turned her head in Jenkins' direction. Panicked shoppers continued streaming by them in the opposite direction of the commotion closing in on food court 23.

"It's Ghost of Kreestmass Disappoint-ted!" That's all she said.

"What's that mean lady? Tell me."

Her eyes suddenly fixed on something over Jenkins shoulder. Jenkins turned........
**********

And that's it for me.

I tag

Alan Griffiths

Beach Bum

The Frumpy Professor

David Barber

I only tagged four folks. Why? Because Splotchy bogarted so many when he tagged basically the whole blogosphere, I did not want to do a repeat tagging. That would be so gauche.

Later.................

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Uncomfortably Numb

Well we're on the home stretch. The last month of the year. If we had goals we haven't met yet, there's less than a month now to get it right. Kick it through the uprights. Whatever it might be.

Looking back at last January, I actually made plans. That in itself was a milestone. Wrote down some things I wanted to accomplish, to change. More than just a token gesture, I started the year full of piss and vinegar. Each passing month wore me down. Each month nibbling away at what enthusiasm was left until there was no enthusiasm left. I maybe didn't do my best. I at least thought about doing my best anyway. That should count for something.

Each month ended and the list got shorter. Either I blew another unrealistic goal off, or I made progress. Seems blowing off the high expectations became easier as we worked our way from then to now. But there have been some high lights. A few things I can look myself in the eye and say, "Yeah dude, you da man."

Okay, so I can take a moment and be satisfied instead of the normal, "Oh Well, better luck next time you flounder". But the moments I have that make me grin with satisfaction dim when held up to the goals still gathering dust. Yeah, it is December and right now I am just happy to finish the day and say -

"Today was a good day."

The days, weeks of 2009 have taken their toll. For eight months I fought the good fight at the bike shop. I wanted to be in better shape financially and did not want to take on any new debt. I succeeded in both endeavors. I owe less than I did a year ago. The victory though rings a tad hollow given the sad prospects over the next few months. I seem to burn out sooner now than before. Loving what I do has transformed into doing what I have to. But -

"Today was a Good Day."

I hoped to ride more this year. I'll call it a wash. I at least rode as much as last year, so -

"Today was a Good Day".

I know I started this post as a filler post using that go to when nothing else comes to mind - Music. What it does for me and what it might do for you should you dare to listen to what I am hearing right now. In recognition of what got me started tonight I offer these two juicy tunes.





Image from Anna Bonnevier, a fashion designer - It has absolutely nothing to do with the post. I just liked the image.

Get out there and mix it up..................

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Last Call

Last Call and frantic drunken slobs grope, hoping to find someone warm to take home. Parked all night on stools too high to set their feet on the floor, they throw back shots, guzzle draft beers and eat what is offered in moldy pressed wooden bowls from Asian run slave labor factories. Sometimes peanuts. But usually just those damn Gold Fish that fill the void barely absorbing the sour liquids these lonely people have created in their guts over the last 3 hours perched on those wobbly bar stools.

The drunks who came to get wasted order double shots one last time. Alcohol addled minds peering through bleary eyes, they hope the misery they feel will disappear as their head falls to the bar and bouncers come by, shovel them up and toss them out the front door.

The ladies hang along walls covered in torn rock n roll posters still wishing to hook up with someone, anyone who might make them feel special if only for a minute or two before the sex juice runs down their legs.

"Darlin, that was wonderful. Got any beer?.....No? Well Sweet Thing, it's been fun. Gotta get up in the morning. I have your number. I'll give you a call."

Dude fades into the darkness while notching up another conquest. Sweet Thing lays in her bed sore and empty again. Later in the dark both will cry themselves to sleep. Both got what they came for. Fleeting encounters when they felt human again. In 16 hours Desperation returns and they do it all again.

Image by Dana Ellyn - Acrylic on Canvas

Tomorrow's another day................

Monday, December 07, 2009

Stormy Monday

Last night while seated here in front of this computer I was restless. I could tell I was antsy. I started three posts about this or that. None of them filled the need I apparently had. So I began to go through my music library looking for just the right sound that would mesh with the mood I was in. I tasted Rock. I dabbled in some Classical and a smidgen of Jazz. Even some Pop and believe it or not, some Hip Hop. Nothing worked.

"Okay asshole", I thought, "punch up some guaranteed to put a hitch in your britches mood enhancing music - Some Metal might just clear out the cobwebs."

Even turned up way past WOW, neither Metallica, Sabbath, Incubus or Evanscence did much for my frame of mind. Three hours of sampling and tasting and no relief. About midnight I gave up. I'd just have to let some sleep calm my unsettled mind.

Sleep was what I needed I guess. I slept late struggling to hold onto a very fine dream about which I can remember nothing now. I hit the ground running. Busy before that first cup of coffee had even perked. Yeah, sleep was the cure.

Now on break from what might finish as a rarely experienced productive day, I sit here once again looking to communicate something of interest. Something at least clever. And though I seem to be missing my target, I feel great.

I feel great because that nagging need I had last night for just the right sound finally hit me about fifteen minutes ago. Blues. Elmore James, BB King, and that dead before his time Stevie Ray Vaughn. Nothing settles frantic nerves like some straight up in my face Blues.

What the Hell was I thinking?





Later Gator......................

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Anger Bucket is Empty


There's 1001 things to get my bowels in an uproar over. Apparently though, I am all up-roared out. Righteous indignation of any kind is missing in action. The well of my discontent is currently dry. I'm pumping nothing but air.

There's the 30 Republican Senators who voted against Sen. Franken's anti-rape amendment. I could certainly waste a few words on their sorry butts. They are just asking for some good ole butt reaming by not leaving the stupidity of their vote alone. Now several have their nose out of joint because they were called out as stupid Legislators. So I can't get angry, I just have to laugh at these sorry representatives of American leadership.

Of course there's always Obama Man and his recent military strategy regarding Afghanistan to make the bile start to inch up my throat. Step up all the way or go home. 30,000 troops does not seem like enough. But you know what? The whole thing is such a cluster ......well, it is a mess over there. No way Obama comes out smelling like a rose. A military incursion destined to fail before it ever got started. Bush made sure of that. So again, all I can do is laugh. Even if it is a humorless dry laugh.

Yeah, plenty to get on my high horse about. But I just can't. No enthusiasm for the good rant. No energy left to raise a clenched fist. You boneheads in charge have a "Get out of jail free card" for a few more days. It's gonna take at least that long to recharge my batteries.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

FFF #12 - Betty

She was always threatening to punch someone in the face, but this time she meant it. Who was she fooling? At 4 foot, 11 inches and packing barely 100 pounds soaking wet, certainly not the assholes she threatened. Not the many strangers who stepped in her way, slammed the occasional door in her face, or the unwashed clerks short changing her at the local bodega.

Betty had even once threatened Al, her on again off again drunk of a live in boyfriend. He didn't laugh, nor was he fooled. After she got back from the hospital this last time, she never threatened him again. Not to his face anyway.

"Betty! Get me a beer goddammit." Al sat on the stained couch with his feet propped up on the coffee table comprised of an old door set up on four stolen unmatched milk crates. Holding up his empty Papst bottle and shaking it impatiently, he roared again. "Dammit Betty, get me a fuckin beer here. I'm empty."

Still in her grimy Burger King uniform stinking of grease Betty sat at the kitchen table. In front of her, a local community college catalog open to pictures of smiling young adults pursuing goals and making something of themselves. Her shoulders slumped when Al placed his order. For a moment she hesitated. For a moment she considered doing nothing.

"Goddammit Betty! Beer! Now!"

Betty knew not to force it. She pushed her chair back and stood up. "Sure Al, be right there."

She opened the fridge and looked in. The four six packs she had seen before she went to sling burgers ten hours ago were mostly gone. Only three long necks left. He must be shit faced she thought. She grabbed a beer and slammed the door shut.

Betty delivered the beer to Al. "While you're up, take care of this." Al tossed the empty bottle at her. Betty moved out of the way. Flinging foam, the empty bottle sailed into the kitchen and crashed against the sink cabinet.

"Jesus Christ Al. Next time get your own fucking beer."

Al was just tipping up the beer to take that first belt. He stopped in mid tip. His eyes focused on her. "Now Darlin, you know I was just foolin around." Al smiled. His eyes did not.

Betty regarded him. For once she did not drop her eyes. Unconciously caressing her unhealed swollen cheek, Betty turned and headed to the bathroom. "Al, I'm taking a shower."

"Whatever." Al returned to trying to make sense of the next Ultimate Fight match on the TV.

Four days later, complaints of an awful smell brought local constables to 409 Chelsea. Officer Reed pounded on the door of Apt 3. Officer Reed knew right away, he was going to be calling in a stiff. The hall reeked of rotting flesh. From behind the scarred six panel door, "Yeah, Who is it?"

"Police! Is this the super's crib? Smells like you have a stinker."

"Yeah. Just a moment." Several deadlocks unlocked and the chain lock slid out of engagement. Eddie Larazco, the super, opened his door just enough for him to slide out into the hallway. "Uh, yeah officer. Upstairs." Eddie scooted up the hall towards the stairs fumbling with a huge collection of keys.

Officer Reed smiled. The cloud of pot smoke that fell out of Eddie's apartment was a welcome respite from the overwhelming stench of meat left out for too long. He pulled out a handkerchief.

Eddie opened the door of Apt 2A. The foul air that had previously just wafted out of cracks, under doors and through walls was but a tease. A putrid and fetid death musk rushed out into the hall. Immediately Eddie vomited. Officer Reed pushed past him just as Eddie got into a righteous round of dry heaving. One hand with the hankie over his face and the other resting on the grip of his Glock, Officer Reed cautiously worked his way towards the sound of a TV or stereo left on for four days.

In the living room, Officer Reed found Al sitting on the stained couch with his feet propped up on the coffee table comprised of an old door set up on four stolen unmatched milk crates. His head was tipped back. Protruding from his mouth was the last 2 inches of a Papst long neck. Tipped up against Al's leg, a bat leaned gently. Al's favorite Easton aluminum softball bat. Attached to the bat, stuck hard with some scotch tape a note declared, "I told you I meant it."


Maybe I should explain the spark for this piece. If not for you, then for myself, should I ever decide to revisit.

I took an incident of normal Mom payback and turned it ugly. My oldest brother had mouthed off to my mom. At over six feet and many years younger, he was able to avoid the weak swing of a mom 12 inches shorter and many years older. He should have known better. A week later she asked him to straighten a picture on the wall. Just as he stood up on the step stool, she cold cocked him and knocked him off that stool. Standing over him, "That's for giving me guff last week."

See ya............


(763 /

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again


Stay out of the blogging asylum for few days and what happens when I come back? It's the same old place, but I feel like a tourist again. Picking up where I left off just what, six days ago might as well have been a month or even longer. The eclectic group of bloggers I have chosen to make up the list of blogs I follow are all over the map with the same focus twisted slightly to reflect this week's mindset. My head swims as I try top play catch up and fall seamlessly back into the way things are here outside of the real world. It ain't working. The only thing that works is to blow off what I may have missed and jump back onto the carousel and hope I find a pole to hold onto while I get my bearings once again.

For those who care - Fernando is proving the old axiom about cats and the number of lives they seem to have. He is still wearing the cone head, but his drain was removed today and he seems on the road to recovery.

Thanksgiving alone was barely noticed as I had Fernando to keep me from dwelling on it. I had a wonderful left over meal of pork chops and whatever else was in the fridge. Thankful for the fact all I had to do was punch in some time on the microwave.

The Pats are quickly proving they are not what we had hoped for.

That pretty much covers the high spots of my last six days. Hope yours went as well as mine did.

Art by Reginald Marsh, 1930 -from this site