Monday, September 27, 2010

Ugly Thoughts

The following is a recent effort inspired by a prompt over to Thinking Ten.  It was a Three-Rules Challenge:

Rule #1: Incorporate the word "newspaper" into your story

Rule #2: Include a character named Rose

Rule #3: Include a character named Bud

Ugly Thoughts

Rose and Bud had been married for years. Years that began to be counted in decades. Live this long with someone and duties became routines that just happened without anyone thinking about them. Rose and Bud’s mornings became those kind of routines. Not a word passed between them most days until after the second cup of coffee had been poured and the paper retrieved off the front porch, the lawn, or where ever that lazy little SOB decided to toss it.


Rose was in charge of coffee and cigarettes. Bud was in charge of toast and retrieving the paper. Once the first cup of coffee, the toast and the first cigarette had been consumed, they would each take turns commenting about what might be of interest in the section of the paper each had in their hands. Bud might mention the Pats, the Celtics, or some stat Rose had little interest in.

“That’s nice dear.” Moments of silence followed until she spotted something that might be of mutual interest.

“Those damn fools down in DC are at it again.” *

Bud might perk up or he might not. A grunt told her he was not listening, If a word passed his lips, she knew she had his attention and a few moments of actual interaction might ensue. Thus their morning routine would pass in relative calm as the newspaper was consumed from end to end.

One morning began as the thousands of mornings had over their previous years of domestic bliss. Rose on one side of the kitchen table, Bud across from her. Both engrossed in touching base with their favorite parts of the World. Bud had worked through his sports section and was reading Art Buchwald’s column. Rose had finished the National and World news and was just getting into the society section, specifically the who is marrying who section.

“Bud, guess who’s getting married? You’ll never guess in a million years.”

Bud dropped his paper far enough to look at his wife over the flipped down page. “You know I hate that. I don’t guess. Just tell me for Christ’ sake.”

Rose just smiled. “Yes dear, I know.”

Silence. Bud continued to look at her over his glasses and his paper. Rose’s grin just hung on her face. She loved playing with Bud’s head like this.

“Well, who the Hell is getting married?”

Rose hesitated just long enough so Bud became disgusted and went back to reading his paper. Then she spoke. “You remember Melinda Jenkins?”

Bud flipped down the page again and looked at her.

“Uh, no. Don’t recall a Melinda Jenkins.”

“Come on Bud. You remember that young girl who used to help Nancy back when we could afford a Nancy to help clean. I remember her because of what you said.”

“What did I say?”

“You said, ‘she looks like she was pulled through a knothole backwards.’ “

Bud dropped his paper. “ I said that? ………Yeah I seem to remember her. About as ugly a child as ever came down the pike. So she’s getting married. To who, a blind man?”

Rose smiled. “No Bud, she’s hooking up with Willie Benton.”

Bud began to laugh. “Willie “bucktooth” Benton? Oh god, I can only imagine the litter she’s going to drop. Bud laughed and chuckled as he considered the potential for ugly that this union might spring upon the World. The more he fantasized, the harder he laughed.

Suddenly he stopped. His eyes grew large. He crumpled his section of the paper hard in both hands. He tried to stand but could not. He keeled over dead before he hit the floor.

Rose looked down at him. She knew he was dead. He looked dead with his eyes all bulged out, his mouth open and stuck in mid laugh.

“Bud, this is what happens to people who think ugly thoughts.”

She finished her coffee before she dialed 9-1-1.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

This story was inspired by the death of my father. He died laughing at the kitchen table after some snarky comment my mom made over something on the "Today Show".

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shot Time

Some evenings after days of fruitful and profitable endeavor I am inclined to act up some,  kick the daily routine in the ass, and celebrate just having had a good day.  These evenings do not vist as often as they used to.  But tonight that doesn't matter.  Tonight the good times they stopped by for a moment or so.

Shot Time.  Drop in the slot time.  Tip the cup and tip my hat to the great day I just had.

Nothing particular stands out.  A day like any other flipped and flopped it's way out of the rut that constitutes most of my days.  Certainly a day not planned, contemplated, wished for, or even resembling considered.   Daily events and common everyday situations ended up blending and bending in positive ways.

I pour the third shot and consider just where to start.  Replay the day as it worked it's way by me.  And again, any explanation worth listening too is absent without leave.  Sometimes a good day just happens.

All I know is whenever I pull out the shot glass, something noteworthy has just stopped by.   More often good than not.  Now I pay my respects with another shot.

As I sip America's finest intoxicating elixir, I run through the moments that have just passed.  The day's instants rush by as scattered and out of sync flashbacks. Each one growing, glowing as more brown liquid is tossed down.  A busy day topped off with a ride once again in the night.  Something special when the shadows  flow and the spot lit trails show me the the easiest and kindest way.  Later building a set of beautiful wheels and the lace is on target.  I just know this wheelset will come out just fine.  Sharing with friends the pleasure of working in my bike shop.  Sharing with friends the special moments we often miss because we generally, more often than not and predictably pay no attention.

Finally, to top off the best day in several months I  head home to tunes, some sour mash and to drunkemly attempt to write what's on my mind.  But I can't focus, pull off any hocus pocus.  My mind is grinning so hard it can't even think.  It was that good of a day.  24 hours set apart from the thousands of hours I just marked time.  24 hours worth mentioning, worth noting.

I will probably look at this narrartive in a few hours when the brown liquid has been purged and some sleep has been had.  I will read the inebriated musings of a mediocre life that has spiked briefly, recently enjoyed an uptick.  And hopeully somewhere, sometime in the previous drivel some sense, something entertaining was tossed out to the internet ether.  Others stopping by for a taste will nod and say, "Yeah, sometimes a good day just happens."

If you can't keep it 'tween the ditches................pull over and take a break.  Ain't none of this shit worth getting your panties in bunch over.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Especially in My Sleep

What follows is one of my Thinking Ten efforts.  Thinking Ten is a blog created for wannabe fiction writers like me to get a daily fix.  Every day there are new prompts.  The only rule is to write for ten minutes only and then polish and edit as needed.

I have participated in a few.  The ten minute limit pops up very quickly and almost always I need more minutes to find some kind of finishing point.  What follows is a ten minute effort that oddly finished at ten minutes.  I was sure I would need some more time to gussey it up and make it at least readable.  But when I re-read my effort, I decided to let it stand just as I wrote it in the ten minute time frame. 

Words, Inc - Wednesday  - (1) moment, (2) stone, and (3) voices

Especially in My Sleep


Moments come, moments go. Stones last forever. So the voices tell me anyway.

It was not until a few years ago I noticed the voices. They told me they had always been with me. They told me they were part of everyone. But only a selected few were graced with the knowledge of their existence.

When I asked why had I become one of the chosen few, their answer was less than complete. They told me, "We chose you because you are special."

"Special?"

"Yes, you are special."

"What is so special about me?"

"You can hear us."

I thought about this. I guess it made sense, but I failed to see the logic.

"But what if I choose to not listen to you?"

There was some murmuring, the sounds that come from hushed voices in a huddle.

One voice began, "Well......" Then more murmuring.

Finally a deep voice said, "You can choose to not listen, but you will always hear us."

I would have walked away, but what would be the point? They followed me wherever I went. I tried to not listen to them, but the big guy with the deep voice was right. I always heard them. Even in my sleep.

Especially in my sleep.
__________________________________

(ten minutes) - I did cut out a couple of words for this post


Artwork - Acrylic by Jessica Derleth

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Night Ride

Post ride mainlining Gatorade hoping that last punishing uphill grunt doesn't come back to haunt me at dark thirty with legs bound up in painful knots.   Dash Jim and Young Jim team up on Young Jim's Single Speed comversion to to a 1x6 mutant shifting system on his 29er "Dillinger".  Serious discussions are enthusiastically engaged in regarding  gear displays, cable left hanging from derailleurs, while both Jims including myself keep a sharp eye on high-low adjustments. 

Flounder hour on the other repair stand makes me grin, makes me chuckle as I lace up some Atom Lab hubs to Pimplite rims and toss obnoxious conversation and insults their way.  Young Jim takes my obnoxious commentary in good humor.  I wonder though about Dash Jim.  Is he annoyed?  Hope so.  He is too damn serious.  We had a great ride in the dark tonight.

The night's frolic on bikes in the woods with bouncing lights runs through my mind.  I smile when that technical section I cleaned like it didn't exist comes to mind.  I grimace when that face plant replays reminding me of my freshly bunged up wrist.  Still I smile.  Still I remember fondly the moments when shadows came and went, ducking back into the dark pockets of the woods when my light tries to catch out in the open.   The Burnt Car loop flew by.  The gravestones before the Cemetery Trail tried to warn me I better watch out.  I didn't think about it until I was face down in the dirt a few turns later.

 Dash Jim and I give Jim's bike the thumb's up for test ride time.  Young Jim heads out into the dark of the parking lot.  Dash Jim leans hard on the counter and we talk about what an animal Young Jim has become.  Young, strong and he is beginning to learn how to float.  He flies by us like we're standing still.  I smile remembering when I was like that.  Numb, dumb, and full of Cum.

Which soon brings to mind what I am like now.  Still Numb, Dumb but slightly less than full of Cum .

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Just Don't Care

A customer/friend brought his bike into the shop earlier today.  There were issues with the rear wheel and the bottom bracket.  As I addressed both of them on the repair stand, we talked.   At some point the upcoming gubernatorial election here in Maine popped up.  Actually I brought it up.  I asked him what he thought of the Democratic and Republican challengers.

"I don't watch news.  Who should I vote for?"

He was serious.  He went on to explain that he never paid attention to politics.  Who was in charge didn't matter to him and had no effect on his life.

I guess this is what is called being apolitical.  I prefer to call it apathetic.   And I told him as much.  He was not moved. 

He grinned.  "Whatever Mike, I just don't care."

At first I was miffed at his ambivalence so I went on a mini tear.  I shared what my parents pounded into me as a child about the responsibilities of being a citizen.   Then I moved from angry to righteously indignant and tossed out my tried and true "we get what we deserve" notion.

And still all he did was grin.  "You really take this shit seriously don't you?  Nothing changes, so why waste my time?  But you go ahead and get all fired up.  I love listening to you rave."

That shut me up.  I finished fixing his bike and he left.

The more I thought about his responses, the more envious I became.  My life would be so much more uncluttered if I didn't take politics, religion, and such so seriously.  Not being opinionated would make Life an easier flow for sure.  I began to harbor notions of actively being apathetic.  Scheming to train myself off the soapbox mentality I inherited from my very opinionated family.

I projected into the future what this might do for me.  And it was not pretty.  Bottling up my inclinations would create untenable pressures inside my gulliwots.  Who knows what I might turn to for release of that pressure.  All sorts of ridiculous and ugly possibilities crossed my mind.  From wearing women's underwear to stalking local cattle in hopes of ....................... Well anyway, the variety of activities I might use to channel my anger were a lot of fun to think about but not one felt right. 

Some of us are able to live our lives wihtout concern for what is happening around them.  Others like myself are not happy unless we concern ourselves with the events unfolding around us.  In the scheme of things neither mentality has much effect on things individually, but when millions of us harbor the same outlooks, our country heads in directions no one could have predicted.   The recent Tea Party madness is a perfect example.  What happens now is anyone's guess.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blueberry Boy

I never wanted to weigh in like that again.  I think it was 3 years ago.  Mud Season was beginning and I had just crawled out of my cave after a winter of  doing absolutely nothing but sleeping and eating.  I tipped the scales at 240 pounds.  At 5'8" tall on a good day, I was looking every bit like a blueberry with legs.

What the Hell had happened I wondered?  How did I ever allow my gut to expand beyond the healthy love handle stage into beach ball bingo mode?  Seems like I went to sleep a svelte 190 or so and one day out of the blue, I woke up and those handles now started just below my tits.  Wow.

So I promised myself I would lose 50 pounds and at least drop back into human form before I kicked the bucket.  As I said, I think that was 3 years ago.  That first Spring and Summer I managed to greet October weighing about 211.  By March of the next year, I ballooned again but kept it down to around 230.   I hit October last year a little closer to my target weight by dropping down to 206, but lost ground again once the snow covered everything up.  This past March I greeted Spring at 217.  Finally I thought, this is the season I ride myself back to 190 pounds.

I can smell 190.  I have been hovering around 192 -193 for a month now.  I have what? - less than 2 weeks to drop 3 more pounds?  Certainly seems to be a reasonable expectation to think I can lose a paltry 3 pounds before October 1st.  Yeah,  well it ain't I guess.  I have been trying now for over a month and it seems as if my body is now rebelling with everything it has.  Barring some self amputation for that quick victory, I sit here frustrated as my previous attempts to breach the last wall have been turned back.

Ten days actually.  Ten days to reach a goal I have thought about for three years.  Anyone know how much an arm weighs?

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

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Nut Lover - A Very Late FFF #27 Entry

This is a piece I wrote for FFF #27  back in April of this year.  Not sure what happened, but I never finished it   So being lazy and generally an all around reprobate, I finished it off and here it is.  I wonder what Cormac will think?

The challenge was  Four Words that had to be incorporated into the body of the story-

Cache  ~  Cashew  ~  Eschew  ~  Through


The Nut Lover

Wilbur Pettigrew rifled through his stash of gourmet nuts.  He was looking for that unopened bag of Premium grade cashew nuts. He eschewed the new jar of grade A Almonds, shoved aside his bag of unshelled and undyed pistachios.  Wilbur ignored his can of mixed nuts from Brazil. Cashews were what he wanted, but no cashews were in his cache. Fondling the bag of Pistachios, Wilbur contemplated the gastronomical pleasure of pistachios this evening for dessert. No. He had been jonesing all day for cashews.

"Mom!.....MOM! Where's my goddamned cashews?" Wilbur stomped into the living room.

Mrs. Pettigrew slumped semi comatose in her usual Post dinner position on the couch, her second pint of Mad Dog 20/20 half gone sitting with the top off on the end table next to her. Clutched to her bosom was Wilbur's now opened bag of special order cashews.

To Wilbur's horror, Mrs Pettigrew had slumped just right so that from her gaping drunken mouth, a string of drool hung down into the center of the bag of those special ordered cashews. It was as if she had staked her claim and she had deployed the drool as a kind of tether or leash to make sure those cashews stayed in her possesion even if she dropped her guard.

For the millionth time Wilbur stood over her with clenched fists vowing silently that this was the last time she stepped over the line. For thirty years he had put up with her obnoxious drunken ways. No longer. He had been put on a waiting list for those cashews. They came from genetically superior Cashew trees in Panama. The nuts were beyond category and their taste was famous and sought out by nut lovers around the globe. His mother had finally pushed him over the edge. Tonight he would have to kill her.

~*~

"So doc, what did her son use to kill her? We figure from the ligature marks it was his hands. But I don't know. If you took a look at this guy, you'd never believe he had the strength to crush her windpipe like that. And then look at her. She has to out weigh her son by 50 pounds at least. No way he would have over powered her. Musta caught her when she was out.  From what the neighbors say, she was out quite often."

The medical examiner looked up from the cadaver he had splayed open on the slab. He gazed at the young detective standing near the foot of the autopsy table. Taking his scalpel he pointed it towards Mrs Pettigrew's liver. "Oh Yeah, she was out quite a bit. Advanced Cirrhosis here." Moving the scalpel up to her heart, he said, "And if that didn't kill her soon, this little beauty was a heartbeat away from blowing up. This lady liked her alcohol cheap and her tobacco in heavy doses."

"Doc, I don't care what was going to kill her. I just want to confirm what did kill her." The cop moved closer to the table. Leaning in, he stared at Mrs Pettigrew's insides like he was perusing a newspaper.

The forensic expert walked to the lab counter upon which sat a very expensive microscope.   "Well you will most likely have to let her son go I think. He didn't kill her."

"What do you mean he didn't kill her?  He admitted it."

The Medical examiner peered into the microscope and then stepped back.  "Take a look.  This is what killed her."

The young detective bent down and gazed at the specimen under the lenses.  "Okay Doc, what am I looking at?'

"Son, that is a Cashew nut morsel.  See the darkened edges?"

"Yeah I see it."

That's a mycotoxin.  And not just any mycotoxin.  These cashews I fetched out of her guts are some kind of hybridized nut I have never seen before.   The cashew tree this nut came from has been manipulated to produce nuts that are larger and more flavorful.  Unfortunately, the mycotoxin density increased when larger nuts were grown.   I did some research and it looks like your killer lives in Central America. 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Better late, uh, being late does not make it better.  It just means I finally showed up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Good Night Irene

The pressure is on.  I sat down here tonight with hopes of actually coming up with something new to write instead of the looking on the dusty shelves where the previous almost made it but for one thing or another didn't make it to the bigs.  The posts that when I first read them looked like they couldn't swing the bat, never mind hit one past first base.

I had a notion to write 250 words about this or maybe that.  It quickly dissolved into nothing but a hint of what I might have done had I been more than just semi conscious and not semi comatose.  Then I figured some pithy commentary on the latest insanity on the media carousel.  But as usual, Reality as reported to me by untrustworthy mouthpieces and shameless hacks becomes such a parody of itself, that not much more can be said to soften the blows of stupidity they spoon feed us as long as the cable bill is paid up.

I have finally rounded another homeowner corner.  Instead of talking about it like I have these past many years, in less than 10 days, I will begin to replace my roof.  Should I actually begin the process of ripping old roofing off, I think my wife will ...........never mind what my wife might do.  It's none of your business.  Jeez, what a bunch of nosy pokers.

There are not many construction type duties I dislike more than roofing.  Painting comes to mind, laying tongue and groove flooring maybe, and of course Insulating sucks pretty hard also.  Okay, so there are many construction type duties I dislike.  When faced with one or the other, that duty becomes the one I dislike participating in the most.  This year, it's the roof.  I cannot avoid, walk around, sidestep it any longer.   So of course roofing now tops the I hate it the most list.

The bike shop continues to bring in more jingle than I have become used to for this time of the year.  The residual benefit is I continue to be entertained at least once a day with varieties of consuming arrogance, naivety, and downright bust your gut comedy.   And though I usually have begun nursing a fairly sour attitude about bicycle retail in September, I am still looking forward to opening up every day.  Being busy does seem to make me happier than not being busy.

So I guess tonight I don't have much to write about, but I figured out how to get some words down.  Mission accomplished.

Good Night Irene....................................

Friday, September 17, 2010

Filler


Teaching myself new tricks and habits is always a source of new surprise for me. I am not sure why. I have gone through the motions of picking up new routines many times in the last 58 years. Each time I become comfortable with some new personal tendency or habit, I enjoy the warm feeling of a new pleasure I had not thought of when I embarked on the new path.

A prime example was my involvement in the NaBloPoMo challenge to post every day for a month. I did it without thinking of the residuals I might be rewarded with. It seems I have developed a need to post more consistently. Not better, but with more consistency.  I have even begun to write posts ahead of time. I kind of made a rule that I would start a post and if it did not go anywhere, then I let it sit for a day or two and come back to it. If it still stunk, I would shitcan it. But if I could, I would finish my thought and save it to post later.

At one point last week I had 5 posts saved up. One I just had to delete. It was even worse than my usual drivel. And it was truly obnoxious. Way beyond even bad taste. The other four I have either used or will use on those days I can think of nothing other than hitting the "publish it" button on one of them. I even think this post may end up as a "filler" post. We'll see.

Update

As it turns out, yes, this post is being used as filler, chaff, gild on the lily if one can even presume this blog does not stink most of the time.  Only I wrote this post originally 2 years ago and stashed it among the many "drafts" still on the boards.  While I was not especially desperate this AM for something to put out there, I decided to post it.  I have another long day at the bike shop staring me in the face and if I am going to post every day this month, I needed something waiting to publish for when I get home later tonight.

I did glance at the news for some inspiration.  All I ame up with was more political stupidity that always gets my bowels in an uproar.  So I stopped before that happened and punched up Pro Football and read as much as I could regarding the upcoming game on Sunday between the Pats and the Jets.  Knowing how much the readers who stop by here love Sports, I decided to not reward any of you with my take on the Loser Jets and the exalted Pats lead by Prince Brady. 

I even responded to an email poll.  I thought that might get my creative juices at least wiggling some.  But it was a poll about celebrities, most of whom I do not know, care to know, or would ever contemplate sharing time with.  I answered most of the questions with "don't know", "don't care", or "who the Hell is ........?"  I am sure my responses caused some tick in the results, but not in any way helpful to those wishing to know how America really feels about the relative attractiveness of the beautiful folks who grace our media outlets. 

So I found this old draft and finished it to this point and now I am off to battle the bike shop demons.

See Ya.........................................
____________________________________________

Image - Dali"s "Women Skull"  (at least that is what I think it is called - doesn't matter, it is damn clever)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Myth of Mickey

His reputation preceded him. I can remember being nervous that first day of lacrosse practice. Mickey was a bad ass they said. Mickey didn't take any shit. One tale had him breaking a kids arm once when he went here to school back in the day. The myth of Mickey had started when he was a student and had now grown far beyond his physical reality.  When I first laid eyes on him, I was immediately disappointed.

5"6" and weighing in at maybe 145, Mickey was hardly the stuff boogey men were made of.   They said he was an All American who played Middie at Washington College.  I looked at this shrimp and decided it had to be another Mickey DiMaggio everyone was talking about.  It was when he smacked Henson up side his head with a goalie stick, I decided maybe it was indeed this Mickey who carried the awesome rep.  Henson was a bruiser.  Six foot and pushing 200 pounds.  All he said was, "Sorry Cap.  Yeah I'll pay attention."

My first lacrosse season I spent on the Junior Varsity squad.  I had never seen lacrosse before, never mind actually played it.  But I was a jock and determined to learn.  The idea of physical contact with a weapon in hand appealed to my 15 year old male sensibilities.  

That first season, I worked hard.  Learned to play from both sides. I became a pretty good face off middie.  I seemed to have a knack for defense also.  Mickey took notice.  One day I was asked to practice with the varsity squad.

Yeah, my ego soared.  Strutting around like I was someone important, I showed up on the varsity side of the field all full of myself.   Looking around at the older players and smirking that Yeah I'm cool kind of look.  Mickey sees me and beckons me up in front of the varsity squad.

"Gentlemen, today I am going to show you how to deal with a defense that will not go away.  "Macrum here thinks he's pretty hot on defense.  Let's see if he can stop me."

Benton of the first middie unit spoke up, "Uh cap, I'd take you on, why this loser from JV?"

"Watch and learn.  I need a goalie.  You're it Benton.  Macrum, you and me.  Try to keep me from scoring.  Feel like a little one on one?"  And he smiled.  An evil smile if memory serves.

I gave up counting his goals around eleven or twelve.  I stopped breathing around fourteen, maybe fifteen.  I collapsed after he stuck his stick between my legs and I fell into a shameful sad heap at his feet.  This aging man in his mid 30s or so schooled me hard.  He scored whenever he decided to.  He left me checking air whenever he wanted as he spun around me and put the ball in upper corners, lower corners, right down the goalies throat.  His shot was so hard it was hard to follow.   Mickey could score from the attack restraining line ten times out of nine.

The entire time, Mickey kept up a coaching banter, filling the team in, filling me in , filling anyone in within earshot of what I was doing wrong.  I was schooled.  I was embarrassed.  I was crushed.  I left the field that day knowing why he was a First Team All American in 1959 and would later be inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1993.

I learned many things from Mickey DiMaggio.  How to play solid lacrosse.  How to take out players twice my size.  And probably the most important thing, attitude trumps size almost every time.   Toughness can come in any size.

I got booted back down to the JV squad after that.  But the next year I made varsity and took Mickey on again.  He only scored on me maybe ten times and I actually scored on him once.  He made me pay though when he opened up the soft part of my right arm as I brought the stick through with a shot on goal.  He knew just where the pads stopped and the skin began. 

Mickey played college lacrosse against Jim Brown, who would later make a slight ripple playing pro football for, believe it or not, the original Cleveland Browns.  His tales of those meetings were awesome.  He said he never played anyone who could run as fast as Jim Brown could.  Said his stick work was only average, but he didn't need stick work.  He ran over anyone in the way.  And he threw the ball hard.

Mickey was a cadet at Charlotte Hall like I was.  He came up in an environment that rewarded the strong and penalized the weak.  Disagreements more often ended in violence of some kind.  And Like I said, Mickey earned his reputation by being more violent than the next guy.  He was a tough little bastard.  Fair, but do not cross him.

The first few weeks of lacrosse practice were always the worst.  Not one ball was tossed, not a single scrimmage played.  All we did the first few weeks was run, do some wind sprints, some push ups, pull ups, throw up, and then run some more.  Often with all our equipment on.  Mickey had a 7 mile run we all called predictably, "Mickey's Run".   Once we had been out there awhile, here would come Mickey in his little compact whatever it was.  He had the equipment manager driving while he hung out of the passenger window, lacrosse stick in hand and beating the last runner in line on the ass.  I learned quickly to not be last guy.  The one time I was first, I had to run it all over again.  Mickey figured I needed some more.

One early afternoon, Snake came to me before practice as I was changing into gym clothes and cleats.

"Mike,I know how we can beat Mickey and duck out on the run."

I hated that run.  Everyone hated that run.  I was certainly interested in how Snake was going to pull it off.

His plan was almost too simple.  As it turned out, it was too simple.  We would start the run but when the group turned left to head off campus, we'd turn right and hide in the New Barracks.  Okay, let's do it.

We did.  We got caught.  We got booted off the team.  I was devastated.  I went to Mickey and asked to be let back on.  After much consideration and verbal abuse aimed at Snake and myself, he said we could come back if the team said it was okay.  What we had done was not hurting him.  It hurt the team.  It was their decision, but he would take his pound of flesh anyway.

Okay with us.  The team voted us back on.  If I thought running Mickey's Run with the others was Hell, I did not know Hell yet.  I was a kind of whipping boy for the next two weeks as I ran next to Mickey's car and took every whack he felt like tossing my way.  He was not a gentle man.

Mickey's strict and ruthless coaching style served me well in college my freshman year.  I played for Towson State.  We once played Hopkins and their superstar middie who had made the cover of Sports Illustrated as best high school player in the land the year before.  He was a center middie.  I was a center middie.  His style was all Mickey.  Attackmen and  middies would clear out the center and let the two of us go one on one.  I held him to one goal and took away the ball twice.  He scored a total of 6 goals that game.  Probably the best game of lacrosse I ever played.  And it was the lesson of tenacity and toughness Mickey beat into me that made it possible.

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mohawk Gang

In lieu of children, friends, or not so favorite relatives, pets of different kinds will often fill those companionship voids.  Cats are cool, but totally undependable.  Fish, well, it there's nothing on TV I guess.  Hamsters are too small.  And Dogs, well, dogs can be everything you wanted out of a chum but would often like to drop off at the Bangor exit on your way to Canada. 

Bless her heart, I do love Stubby's brainless soul.  Stubeetchka is a sweet tempered canine.  But she is a dog.  Prone to mind numbing dog routines no one and in particular Stub herself understand why she does what she does.  It's as if she can't help herself.  When certain things happen, critters showing up on her radar, or a sound she may take a shine to, she goes crazy.  Breaking ice cubes out of the trays will send her into a manic barking jag no sharp word or threat will dampen until that last cube has been deposited safely into it's bin ready to be enjoyed in whatever cool drink comes to mind.

She gets along with the cats.  Even plays around with them some.  But they better not compromise her space on the bed or even hint at tasting her food when her head's in it.  A sharp snarl and a nip of usually air will keep the little feline bastids at paws length.

It's the semi wild friends outside that really switch on her mindless brain dead focus.  Specifically the Mohawk Gang.  A tough gang of red squirrels who take turns torturing her and teasing her by being just out of reach.  The fool dog will spend hours and hours trying to dig one out of the wood pile.  She'll park at the base of a tree and ten feet up one of the Mohawk Gang will scold her while casually munching on some nut, berry, or tasty bit of grain.

It's funny though.  The little reprobates are nowhere to be seen when one of the cats is sniffing around.  The Mohawk Gang know who's dangerous in our home who's the joke.  Stub's their patsy.  They work her for all she's worth.

See Ya...........................................

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

High Top Chuck Taylors


As out of it as I have been these last 30 years or so, even I have taken notice of the Phoenix like rise from the fashion ashes of Converse's bedrock product, Chuck Taylor sneakers.   Millions of hip young folk are once again wearing the sneakers I wore probably at the same age.

I lived in Chucks for 10 years or so.  To say I know them well would be an understatement.  Unfortunately what is being foisted upon the public today are not Chucks in the pure form God meant them to be. The only decent Chuck is Black or White and high top.  Anything else is, well, not a real Chuck. I know some people think low tops are cool. But Chuck Taylor wore high tops. That's good enough for me. And he didn't cotten no red, blue, or yellow ones neither.


In Oxon Hill, Maryland in 1964 or 65, John Hanson Jr High was controlled by the "Blocks". Dudes with greased back hair, Ban Lon Shirts, and Big Mac Pants w/skinny or no belts. And what did these teen towers of Tough Guy fashion wear on their feet? That's right. High Top Chuck Taylors. They knew Hip like they were born to it.

Moving over from Virginia, I fancied the "Click" look. Button down shirts w/fruit loops, khakis or peg-legged Levis, wool sox to match the shirt and Weejuns on my feet. Needless to say, I was not immediately accepted by the Blocks in Maryland. After some rough re-education sessions, I conceded to some of their demands. I bought some high top Chucks and a Ban Lon or two. But I could never bring myself to put on those damn Big Macs or let a dollop of grease touch my hair. They dropped the hair and pant demands when I made the basket ball team and was suspended a couple of times for unruliness. Since I was a jock, and a troublemaker to boot, I was ok in a token sort of way.

The chicks who hung with the Blocks were bad ass also.  Big hair on top and quite often low top Chucks on the ground.  The real nasty ones wore high tops.   I took a shapely Block chick to my very first dance ever.  Besides the trauma of dealing with a female so close in proximty to my burgeoning libido, I had to deal with the Big Hair , and a Chucks attitude more macho than mine.   We had a great time once she took over control.

I often think about that year at John Hansen.  Another transient stop among the many I made as the son of a military man.  Maybe it was my age.  Maybe it was the circumstances.  But that year changed me.  I emerged from the experience with a chip on my shoulder I have been trying to whittle down ever since. 
__________________

Keep it 'tween the ditches...........................

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Hate Grocery Stores

Five minutes before I close my shop, the phone rings. I dread these last minute phone calls for advice or worse, last minute favors. I am tempted to let the machine pick up. But I am still open for 5 more minutes.

"Good evening, CRUM Cycles."

Most of the time these calls are last minute requests for a tube, information on a ride, etc. But tonight it is the dreaded "wife wants something from the grocery store" call. As soon as I hear her voice, I know my simple commute home to a warm hearth and fuzzy slippers has now become another foraging mission. Sometimes it's but a simple trip to 7/11 for a quart of milk. But tonight's mission is a dangerous excursion to the grocery store. That 40,000 sq foot battleground surrounded by a 10 acre minefield they call a parking lot.

She never asks me to pick up something easy either. It's always something obscure that we do not have at home in the standard bulk containers she favors. A specific type of baking powder, a certain yeast, or odd healthy tidbit bound to taste as bad as it sounds.

Resigned to a dangerous mission, I pump myself up on the way. " I am the hunter in this clan. It is my duty to drop the carcass at her feet. I will not fail." These words still echoing in my mind, I plan my approach. Having done battle here before, the lay of the land is all too familar. A full on frontal assault is out of the question. In order to accomplish my mission and still be home for Jeopardy, I must be elusive and fluid. I plan a flanking maneuver that will safely land me in the side lot where the loading dock is. If there is a spot within 100 yards of the front door, it will be here. Securing my assault vehicle, I reveiw the mission's objectives and realize I have forgotten the list. That itemized set of objectives I will now have to hope I remember. This throws my plan out of whack and with a sinking feeling in my gut I deploy anyway.

Dodging carts and harried women with kids in tow, I weave my way through the entrance and into the too bright foyer. Stopping a second to collect myself, I begin to run the layout through my mind. A cart hits me from behind, knocking me to the side. "Please do not block the entrance", a friendly voice reminds me. I turn and realize that I was lucky. A train of 30 or so empty carts is being rammed into this throng by some kid barely able to peek over the top of the carts. I wonder at how someone so small can be so nonchclant in an enviroment so dangerous. But then I realize they are part of the danger. One of the many traps and hazards known to exist in this no man's land.

I look around for one of the Hubby buckets. Those little baskets with 2 flip metal handles all the husbands use for these last minute supply runs. Big enough to hold a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs and maybe some cold cuts. I grab one and enter the traffic flow into the depths of this beast.

Knowing I only have to actually hit the baking section, I head right to it. Going against the flow of right to left, I encounter and disrupt several cart folks. One wheels around the end of an aisle on 2 wheels and I have to jump out of the way as the little woman glares at me for obviously being a bonehead with no sense of direction. Whew! That was close. I peek around the end of the aisle and take a quick look and then duck back. No, not that one. Again, a quick look to see if it's clear and I jump to the end of the next aisle. A peek assures me this is my aisle. I make sure no carts or bands of lady thugs engrossed in coupon swapping are hanging out or on the move. It is clear, so I head down the aisle looking for something baking related to key in on. So many things to look at, my eyes do not see any of it. Like the picture of a mob scene, picking out one face you recognize is near impossible.

It is on my second pass, that I find the baking section. Now I have to rely on my memory of the quickly written list to pick the right product. Uh, she wanted baking something. Baking powder? Baking Soda? And which type? I can't remember which, but I know there is a big difference. One is for smells in the fridge and the other is for baking. I grab one of each. She had also mentioned yeast. Damn! Must be 10 different kinds. My body language must be broadcasting my distress. I hear a voice behind me say, "What kind of baking are you doing dear?" I turn around to a kindly wrinkled face wrapped in tight blue hair.

"I dunno. I wrote down what she wanted and,"

"Forgot the list," she finished for me with a twinkle in her eye. She continues, " Do you know what she is baking?"

Instead of putting on the gruff exterior, I immediately cave to her obvious superior knowledge regarding things baked. She has the uniform, the years of wrinkles acquired in a lifetime of bake sales, church socials, and keeping many rugrats happy with baked goodies from her oven. And from the look on her face, I am sure she has had a dummy or two like me in her life before.

"I forgot. But I assume it is something sweet. My kid is coming home from college this weekend and my wife always does some baking when that happens."

She gently grabs the box of baking soda out of my basket and puts it back. "You won't need this".

Then she reaches for some yeast and says this is her favorite. Always a dependable rise when she uses it. I throw it in the basket. "To be safe, since you say it is something sweet, pick up some of this." She grabs some baking sugar and gently places it in my basket.

I am trying to form words of gratitude, but she just smiles, turns back to her cart and throws her shoulder into it to continue on her own mission. "Thanks", I manage. She gives me a smile over her shoulder and continues on her way.

Standing there, relieved this part of the trip seems successful, I try to visualize that damn list I left on the counter next to the register at the shop. Hmm. Was there anything else on it? I figure a quick run through most of the aisles might be wise. Some can good or bright package could jog my memory. As I carefully peak out of the end of an aisle to see if the coast is clear, my eyes settle on this humoungous bag of Beef Jerky. Not the puny sized tease you see at 7-11, but a bag that would surely hurt you if you attempted to consume it in one sitting. My mouth waters and I am under it's spell. I grab it and run.

I hurry through several more aisles and then decide that, since I cannot remember anything else, there must not be anything else. I head to the front of the store to check out. As I approach the cashiers, I count the items in the basket. Way under 11 items. I confidently stroll towards the express check out. Just before I get there, I am rudely brushed aside by that crazed woman who almost took me out earlier. Busting in front of me, she starts unloading a cart of 1000 items on the express belt. I stand there amazed and awestruck. First of all, her attack was flawless, she swooped in like a running back finding the crease. Second, the cashier doesn't even blink an eye. She just starts scanning everything like nothing unusual is happening.

"Uh, Maam", I begin, "shouldn't you be using another cashier?"

Both the evil woman and the cashier look up and 4 eyes bore into me. I refrain from further comment and quietly wait for my chance to pay for my paltry 3 or 4 items. As the woman stuggles to get her overloaded cart moving, the cashier says, "See ya at home 'bout 9:30, okay Mom?"

I smile at the unfairness of Life as the woman rings me up. She asks me what's so funny, I just keep smiling.  As I leave the safety of the check out aisle, I am leveled by a fully loaded cart hurrying to the parking lot. Not just a brush by or a riccochet, but a full tilt, high impact knockdown. The affair with the cashier had caused me to let my guard down. And now I was down, crushed beneath the wirecaged monster and in severe pain. " You oughta look where you're going, son." I look up. Smiling down is that kind ole lady who helped me in aisle 8 with my baking problem. Through the pain all I could do was smile too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Oubliette - 250 words

The "I Dare You" challenge this week is being offered up at JM Prescott's blog by guest challenger, Julia Archer.  Write about an Oubliette -  a place to that is forgotten or I might go to forget.  Used mostly to describe dungeon like spaces, it can be almost any refuge from the world one might come up with.  Anyway without any more fanfare -

My Oubliette


“So, you’re the new kid.”

I looked up from my book. Standing over me, a kid twice my size with a buzz cut stared at me hard. “Uh, guess so. Who are you?”

“I’m your worst nightmare.”

Here we go again. Give a beating or take one. What is it with these jerks anyway? Every bully is the same. I went back to my book and ignored him.

“Hey man, I’m talking to you.” Buzz Cut pulled the book out from in front of me.

I looked up at Buzz Cut. “Okay jerkwad, but not here. Not in the library.” I stood up. “Where is it you want to go?”

Buzz Cut looks confused and has no immediate reply. I start walking to the front door of the library. He follows me. “Hey buttface, you don’t turn your back on me.”

“Yeah, yeah, right. Why is that?” I leave the library and walk quickly towards the parking lot. Buzz Cut struggles to keep up. He finally grabs me by my shoulder and turns me around.

I was ready. My right foot found his crotch as soft as his belly looked. Buzz Cut collapses on the pavement. He clutches his tender bits as I stand over him.

“Don’t you ever bother me in the library again. The library is my Oubliette. Got it?”

Between tears and gasping for breath he nods and manages to squeak, “Your Oh bee let? What’s that?

“Look it up asshole”. I walk back into the library.
______________________________________________

This is loosely based on an incident from my youth.  Tallahassee, Florida actually.  Fall 1963.  Just started sixth grade and another new school - my seventh school since kindergarten.  A tale enhanced tremendously through rose colored glasses remembering what I wanted to do but didn't.  It would be a couple of weeks later when I finally manned up and took Buzz Cut on.  He was surprised.  I held my own.

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Triple Double Big Gulp Day

I had every intention of visiting other blogs and writing pithy and meaningful comments tonight instead of tossing another blog post out into the public arena.   But I didn't.

I can't remember why I didn't because well, my brain is fried.  Once I had my belly filled with a healthy 4 or 5 slices of bacon/pineapple pizza, I went into a kind of heroin nod.  Bacon and pineapple pizza will do that to me.  I can barely keep my eyes open. 

Of course this health conscious meal with good stuff from the Food Triangle came on top of a Triple Double Big Gulp Day.

Let me back up some.

I knew about Big Gulps.  They have been around forever.  But I had never had one until a month ago.  Not once.  Ever.  Today I drank three.

I drank three Double Big Gulps full of Gatorade and ice because it was either that or four 20 ounce coffees.  Since Caffeine is on my recently "cut it back" list, I had to find artificial stimulation somewhere else. 

Tried to sneak in with iced coffee.  But as I explained the rules one more time  to myself, I had to agree that the exact wording was "cutting back on caffeine", not cutting back on coffee.   So Ice coffee was out.  And since soda pop has been on the list of banned substances for quite awhile, I had to find something that would quench my thirst and not leave my mouth bored. 

Water  is without interest.  It sustains but has no style.  It does the job of hydration just fine and there are moments when a cool drink from the jug in the fridge is exactly what I want.  But when I drink water, there is no thrill, no pick me up for the taste buds. 

So a month ago I approached the Big Gulp machine at my local 7eleven.  It is not really a machine, but more of a complex.  At one end there are rows of flip tabs next to nozzles with little images above them informing the potential consumer of what they might be getting into should they fill their cup with the elixir within.  Must be 10 or 12 choices to pick from.  Right in the middle is the ice dispenser.  Next would be a bank of rugged plastic cups, the smallest of which could hold enough water for a day in the desert.  Next to that is  Slurpee World.  It was too strange, I could not get past the idea of a straw and a spoon combined.  It twisted my mind into small knots, so I concentrated on the Big Gulp area.

I figured out that first I must pick a vessel to hold my liquid.  With a couple of 10 year olds eyeing me , I figured I had to step up.  So I picked the big cup.  The Double Big Gulp cup.  A nod from one of the little punks told me he approved.   He frowned though when I filled the cup 3/4 up with ice and then walked away in disgust mumbling when I hit the Gatorade button filling my cup with almost but not quite healthy orange liquid.   His buddy looked at me and said, "Gatorade sucks man."  and then joined his bud over at the bank of candy bars.

Hell, I knew Gatorade sucked.  But what's an old fart to do when he jones for junk food yet knows all it does is make him buy larger clothes?  At least the artificial color gives an impression of sinful libation even if the taste does not.  As long as I know I am at least pumping some Orange Dye number 56 into my system, I rest at night knowing I have given Health at least some token resistance.  Better Health is going to have to sneak up on me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Self Interest

Okay, I am biased. Yes, a lifetime of watching hypocrites pretend to be something less than they claim has created in me a jaundiced view of organizations in general. I feel I have good reason to be such a sourpuss. Lord knows the negative vibes and negative results of supposed good intentions based on holier than thou opinions are more than just an occasional hiccup we barely notice. And besides if I am going to be honest, it is this tendency I find within myself that really drives my anger when others fail to admit their own tendency to  preach above their personal ethics and climb up on some pedestal.

We are all individuals.  Independent entities forced to co-exist with other independent entities.  If self interest was not a key motivator and stimulus for survival, we could all live together without the need for any organization looking out for our varied interests, political, economic, religious.  But we are at our core selfish.  We seem hardwired that way.  So, to protect ourselves from encroachments, physical and emotional, we form groups to create barriers so we can feel safe or aspire to goals that we would not be able to attain as loose dog individuals.

Self interest then becomes group interest.   We fool ourselves that giving up some of our individuality to the group, somehow we become less selfish.  But do we?   I contend that organizing into groups often increases self serving tendencies rather than the opposite.   Within the group, we feel good about ourselves and our efforts in the name of the group.  We begin to feel noble and altruistic. 

The insular aspects of a group builds barriers to anyone not in the flock.  And often the organization will develop a group mindset that harbors no tolerance for anything but total loyalty within the group.  This rigid code of behaviour will then be projected outward to other groups causing them to feel threatened or because of their own selfish set of rules, insecurities, etc - they will consider another group as attackers or invaders trying to take over their turf.  Instead of leaving each other alone, these groups will find or manufacture reasons to engage the other in some type of conflict, using the excuse that the other is in the wrong somehow and that "their" group is not only right, it is their duty to set the other group straight.

When all it really is about is selfishness.  High falutin notions and ideals are nothing but excuses for bad behaviour.  No higher calling from any idol, physical or otherwise, can justify the encroachments we humans have visited upon our fellows throughout recorded time.  At it's core, the reason we intrude and force our way into other's lives is because we are selfish.  Being selfish is a major tool for survival.  What we should be ashamed of though is our need to coat that selfishness with some kind of moral imperative to justify our bad acting. 

This is why I distrust organizations that pretend to be on some higher calling.   This is why I cringe when I listen to leaders contend that what they are engaged in are missions of national security or they are doing's God's work.  Bullshit.  They are working for their group, not their country or mankind. Yet somehow invoking God or country as an excuse makes it all okay. 

Okay, I'm done.  Not sure I feel any better, but at least there's been a pressure drop.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mild Abandon

I told myself I would post every day this month.  I didn't believe me.  I always blow it.  And I know it.  So why do I make promises to myself I cannot keep?

I guess it must be easier to fool myself than anyone else.  Maybe I just need the practice.

OR

If I cannot fool myself, how can I even think of fooling anyone else?

All of which brings up a real stewpot, a hobo pie comprised of multiple odd and irritating human behaviours with a tossed salad of bad habits on the side.  So many tendencies, proclivities and routines that step on other toes.   Obstacles we place in front of ourselves or leave behind for someone else to stumble into.

We don't often discuss our idiosincracies,  the unpleasant edges of character we pick up along the way.  We just live with ours, let others live with theirs, and somehow we all still wake up to a new day.

Ain't that odd?
__________________________

Showing My Age

Delicate, delectable, reflectable
Something so fragile, less than agile
Is bound for trouble

Something so special
So fine and unique
More often too quick to peak

Leaves brown regrets, frets
The what could have been
The what should have been
If only we had been in
_____________________________

Okay so I am mangling bytes with more mild abandon than my usual tripe.  I'd apologize but what would be the point?  You are either still with me or you never stopped by.  If you got this far, you deserve what you got.  If you never stopped by, well, I guess you dodged a bullet you lucky bastard.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Of Doves and God - Enabling the Fringes

It is 5:10 AM and someone has already managed to wind me up for the day.  My internet friend Utah Savage posted some U-Tube video about "Burn the Quran" day that will be held on the upcoming ninth anniversary of 9/11.  I don't blame her for me being wound up.  Hell, I bet she's wound up also. 

Seems Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida is inviting everyone to come by for a good ole book burning in a few days.  While this public display of religious stupidity is one thing, I wanted to know what rationale this man of the cloth was using to justify burning another religion's book of holy words.  Was it just to piss a billion Muslims off?  Or did he have a logical and convincing argument that might make me want to buy a plane ticket to Florida?

So I visited his web site.  Very slick, hip, it has all the spiffy gadgets.   The site does a wonderful job of focusing on all the current hotbed issues every Christian should be worrying about.  Homosexuality, Abortion,  and of course the Muslims.  According to what I left with, we take care of these three things and God will love us again.  I will have to say, unlike his cohort in arms, the gay bashing Rev. Phelps, at least the Rev Jones is not a one trick pony.  He is able to juggle three evils at one time.  Right on Rev!

I noticed in a sidebar some links to pages that offered up the logic for hating and defeating Islam.  Obviously, the Rev and his flock have not yet made it past the Old Testament.   The ten reasons lose their logic before the first one runs out.  And by reason # 9, I was laughing so hard I almost........well I found his reasoning a tad humorous.

Reason Number Nine (to burn the Quran)

"Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West."

Okay Rev. if any Muslim is hitting your website or listening to your radio show, maybe their fear is not so irrational.  Certainly no less irrational than your fear of them. 

And as if Ten reasons to burn the Quran was not enough, he has supplied us with an addendum of five more reasons to burn the Quran.  That makes 15 reasons to burn the Quran.  I tell you what, if he comes up with another 5 or 6, he might just convince me.

A deeply or at least honestly faithful internet buddy from Canada often reminds me that the lunatic fringe of the Christian side of things does not speak for all Christians.  Christ, I know that.  He knows I know that.  Yet, it seems the good Christians need to remind me they are made of more reasonable and tolerant stuff.   And I also know that the extremists of Islam do not speak for all Muslims.  Most are peace loving just want to get on with their lives in their own way type average joes. 

Yet all of them in both religions  put up with having their image sullied and smeared by losers from within their own folds.   They offer up weak and timid protests when one of their own steps across obvious sanity lines.  They look embarrassed, but do nothing to try to squelch or out shout their in house lunatics.  In current hip addiction circles, this would be considered a type of enabling. 

If either religion wants heathens like me to take them seriously or show them more respect, they need to step up and clean up their own mess.  Religion is the worst thing to fight over.  Yet it seems to be one of the most used and abused excuses we humans come up with time and time again.  Don't talk to me about how much Jesus loves us all.  Don't try to convince me Allah is great.  Not as long as you allow the violently prone fringes of your own religions to control your message.

And to Rev Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida - burning the Quran is about as stupid and useless a gesture as came down the pike.  That is of course unless your plan was to damage our efforts overseas.  Sir, you are a moron.  A dangerous moron.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

FFF #41 - Proof - 100 words

Friday Flash Fiction time again.  This week I was going to write a longer piece than my usual 250 words or so.  And I did.  But 1300 words into it, I hit a wall.  I walked away from it for several days hoping I would have a Eureka moment while going through the motions of my normal day.  Nope.  No Eureka moment.

So instead, I am going with the story I already had on the bench.  100 words and a tad political.  The starter sentence was provided by  The Professor  -  "He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk."

Proof

He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk. I glanced at it and slid it back.

"Yeah so?"

"Yeah so? You wanted proof. Here it is." Ralph shoved the Kodak moment back in my direction.

“Ralph, this is not what we are after. I can’t print this.”

Ralph stared at me. “But this will ruin him. Isn’t that what your crew wants?”

How could one of the sheep understand?

“Ralph, the fact that he howls at the moon once a month won’t ruin him. Proving he is a Muslim and was really born in Kenya will. Get it?”
______________________________________

Now I am off to tame the wild jungle.  See ya..................................

Monday, September 06, 2010

His Purpose - 100 Words - Lily's Friday Prediction

Lily over to her Feardom blog has posted her Friday Prediction words for last week.  100 words that use somewhere - Lunar, Bootlace (plural is OK), Voodoo

His Purpose - 100 words

He was born under a bright full moon. The exact date forgotten long ago. His soul, his essence bootlaced to tireless lunar cycles. Empty and apathetic, he took up space during the nights of no moon. Quarter moon evenings tortured him with promises of what would soon come. Like some Voodoo doll suffering new pins, each new phase made him weep pain he did not understand.

But when the moon was full he knew why he existed. His purpose became clear as he watched the fur grow near the tip of his nose and around his toes…………………

London was calling.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Keep it 'tween the ditches.........................

Sunday, September 05, 2010

At least I Wasn't Last.

I was properly spanked today.   Let there be no doubt, I deserved every punishing blow, every painful cramp, every bruise.  Struggling and bouncing from tree to rock off the back the last hour was my reward for having grown too large for my britches.   Yeah, I have been filling up with piss and vinegar lately.  Once again, Mt Agamenticus purged me of the worst of it.   I have not been this tired from a woods ride in more than a few years.   Four hours out there with probably 3 of them spent in the saddle.  3 hours at Mt A is more like 6 hours on most other trails.  Always in your face, dips, slips and butt puckering obstacles await around every turn.  You go down and it will hurt.

Fifteen riders went out today.  13 of them handed me my ass on a platter.  The last guy probably did too, but I have him convinced he didn't.  False bravado towards the end of a grueling dirt ride can shake the confidence of most new guys.  I am guessing he is still able to walk right now.  I am not.  But he does not know that.  In your face Pumpkin Boy.

Okay so what if I am taking credit for not being the last guy up the last hill to where we parked.  I needed some kind of victory.  I took what I could get.  And now I am bragging about it.  Puffing up my chest telling anyone who is even distantly interested, "At least I wasn't last."

It was gorgeous this morning.  Hurricane Earl breezed by but failed to hurl.  In the vacuum he left, some welcome Canadian air blew in behind him.  On the way to meet up at the bike shop this morning at 6:40 AM or so, I actually put the heat on in the truck.  

I had been hydrating since last evening.  I got plenty of sleep.  I even made it to the shop on time, not on CRUM time.  We left the parking lot to drive to Aggy only a few minutes past our planned departure time.  We were on bikes and screaming down 50/50 hill at 8:30AM.   Everything was in place for one of those special rides.

And it was a special ride.  We ran into Clem, a local rider who knows every rock and root on all 100 miles of trails in the Mt. A/water district acreage.  He took us on the trails not on any map.  Trails so secret, only the hardest core riders in that area know them.    Each trail had a name or sometimes two or three names, but to be honest, I stopped paying much attention after the first one, the Animal Trail.   I know we rode along Folly Pond (image at top courtesy of Water district folks) and we rode some of the Dam to Dam trail.  It was somewhere south of the Dam to Dam trail, I started to lose my mind.  I went on auto pilot and spent the following couple of hours just grinning, drooling and towards the end, whining.    Somewhere about an hour past my physical limit, every muscle still functioning and few that weren't revolted and my body became one big cramp.  My toes curled up inside my shoes, I had cramps in my hands and forearms, My quads were so bolloxed up, I am still walking stiff legged six hours later.

Damn, I had fun.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

While visiting a blog dedicated to our troops here and abroad, I noticed a little avatar on the sidebar - "I stand with Albert Snyder".  It is a site dedicated to securing support, moral and financial for the efforts of the Snyder family in their quest to stop Rev Phelps and his band of wacko parishoners of the Westboro Church from holding protests at funerals of troops killed in the line of duty.

I detest Rev. Phelps and his quest to purge homosexuality from our culture.  He and his band of clowns epitomize the worst of America.  Intolerant, ignorant and filled with hate for anything outside their narrow view of Life, these idiots are nothing but scum sucking assholes.  The fact they pretend to be following the word of God only reinforces my low opinion of organized religion.  Christians throughout this country should be appalled at how perverted their version of Christianity is.  Thankfully, his flock only numbers around 70.

So what has Albert Snyder have to do with the jerkwad Rev. Phelps?   Albert's son Mathew was killed in the line of duty while serving overseas.   At more than a few funerals of soldiers they have held up signs like  "God hates Fags".  They do this based on their twisted logic that the US government and it's population support homosexuality.  Everything is about homosexuality.  Every problem we have is based on our supposed love affair with gays.

Albert Snyder and his family decided to sue Phelps to make him stop the protests.  In other words, bring the weight of law into the situation.  The Snyder's suit has not gone well.  It has been shot down by the second circuit court.  But they plan to continue to do battle with Phelps.

Okay fine. 

At first I was ready and able to "stand with Albert Snyder".  Just mention Phelps in my presence and you better be ready for a tirade about how religion can become the force of evil.  But then I took a few moments to collect my temper.  I paused long enough to reconsider how I felt.

No matter how much I hate Rev Phelps - and let there be no doubt, I truly hate this man I have never met.....No matter how I feel about this low life, his rights are as important as the rights of anyone else.  As long as he adheres to the required local ordinances regarding protests, his protests should be allowed.  

There are any number of things US citizens do that piss me off.    Burn flags, make up lies about leaders origins or religious affiliation, try to limit where people can worship as they please, and yes stage protests at military funerals.  Sadly though I cannot stand with Albert Snyder.  Nor can I support his efforts through the legal network to curtail another citizen's right to protest, no matter how objectionable that protest is.  

The fact we live in a country that has the flexibility to accept loony tune activities should be championed not squelched.  We do not have to like some of the madness, but we should be willing to put up with it.  Our tolerance is our strength. 

But if Albert would like to toss some balloons filled with cow piss at Rev Phelps at his next demonstration, I just might step up to be his co-pilot.

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

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Boardwalk

The following is a fiction piece I wrote in response to the weekly "I Dare You" challenge over to JM Prescott, a writer's blog somewhere out there in the electronic hinterlands.  Ms Prescott is on vacation, taking a sabbatical, or just catching her breath.  Aussie Paul is baby sitting her blog this week.  He came up with the challenge - "Passages".  Write something in under 750 words about some kind of passage.  What follows is what I came up with.

The Boardwalk

The truck slammed into the loading dock at Thrasher's Fries with a bang. "Here ya go fellas, Ocean City."

Porko and Phil grinned. They had really lucked out. One ride from the Beltway all the way to OC was as good as it got. All they had to do now was help the driver unload 40,000 pounds of potatoes.

Three hours later Phil finally located the fifty pound bag of Idaho's finest they had been looking for. Of course it was the last one in the truck. Staggering some Phil muscled that last bag out to the pallet sitting on the dock. Porko was busy trying to figure how many fifty pound bags it took to total 40,000 pounds.

"Let's see.........10 bags is ...uh .... 500 pounds..... 20 bags would....................."

"Jesus Porko, you are such a dumass. 800 bags you bonehead. And since you are lazy to boot, that would mean you carried maybe 200. I carried the rest."

Porko sat on the last skid of potatoes and lit a cigarette. He tipped his head back and blew a large plume into the air. "Yeah, I'm a lazy bastard. Good thing I brought you along." He grinned at Phil.

The driver came through the dock doors with his pallet jack. "Last one guys." He jacked up the pallet and swung it around. "Give me a few minutes and I'll be back with fries and some pop. Thrasher's are the best there is you know. You guys did a great job. I'll make it back to B-more by dark." He yanked hard on the pallet jack and disappeared through the doors.

~*~

"You know the kid working the skinning machine at Thrashers told me he and his buddy usually get $40 each to help unload. We got $15. What a rip off."

Sitting on the boardwalk at Ninth Street with his bare feet in the sand, Phil looked at Porko and shook his head.

"The man gave us a ride. He paid us, fed us, and you complain? You aren’t just lazy, you're a whiner to boot."

"But $15 each? Slave wages. The sooner I find a rich woman ........."

"Can it Porko. You are so full of shit."

"Yeah well........at least I'm not still a cherry like you."

"Screwin your sister don't count."

Porko shoved Phil off the boardwalk onto the soft sand.

"You take that back. It was her buddy I nailed. You know that."

Phil was not smiling. His virginity hung heavy on his mind. Jeez, he was 17 and still seducing his hand. Phil stopped thinking about it. He was resigned to the notion of dying at age 80 unlaid and grumpy.

"You fellows want some weed?"

Porko jumped. "What the Hell man? Don't sneak up on us like that."

Still on the sand, Phil strained to see over the edge of the boardwalk. A scruffy hippy wearing blue tinted granny glasses was standing behind Porko. Phil hopped up on the boardwalk

"Uh, sure man, we’re always looking for weed. How much and what kind?" .

"Hold it Phil. We don't know this guy. He could be a narc."

"Porko, shut up. So what if he's a narc. It's just weed."

The hippy grimaced. “Man, if I was a narc would I be selling weed?

Porko considered this. “Uh, I guess not man. Whatja got?”

“ Nickel bags of Mersh or Sinse. Mersh is $10, $15 for the Sinse.”

Phil and Porko huddled. Pockets were checked. Mumbled words exchanged.

“Look fellas, I ain’t got all day. You want some weed or not?”

Phil turned. “ Two nickels of Sinse.” He reached in his pocket.

“Jesus guy, not here. Let’s take it over there.” The hippy nodded towards a narrow alley separating a couple of souvenir shops.

~*~

“Where the Hell did you get $50?” Porko studied Phil’s face.

“The truck driver gave it to me.”

“He gave you $50? What the Hell man? He gave me….”

Phil smiled. “Yeah, he gave you $15. Told me you weren’t worth even that much. But who cares anyway? We have weed, we’re baked and we can still eat tonight. This trip to OC without the parents is working out just great.”

Phil passed the joint to Porko and laid back on the sand. A wave broke over his legs. Who cared if school started in a couple of weeks? Who cared what happened tomorrow? Tonight he was free and stoned. Life did not get any better than this.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Svelte 396

Pictured to the left is Jason holding one of the two new wheels I built for him last week.  I have known and been friends with Jason since 1987.  He is now 36 almost 37.  It is gratifying to know that there are  people in my life other than family members who have a long term history with me.  I did not know anyone for long the first 28 years of my life.  So Jason's friendship is pretty special to me.

When I met him, Jason was 13 and weighed 350 pounds.  Over the years his weight has been a problem.  He has weighed as much as 475.  Right now, you are viewing the new svelte Jason.  He just weighed in over to the clinic at 396.  He has lost 63 pounds in the last 7 weeks.

How did he do it this time?  Like every other time.  He rode his bike.  The man rides his bike all day.  He is not fast.  He just rides all day. When he can't ride, he walks.   Jason has a whole slew of health issues besides his weight.  He is diabetic and needs insulin every day.  He has had his pancreas removed.  He has had other surgeries and logged more than a few nights in the local hospital.

I hate the term "special needs".  But unfortunately that is the label Jason is stuck with.  He is a ward of the state and lives on whatever paltry stipend the state comes up with.  That stipend is supposed to cover his rent, food, and clothing.  Whatever is left might mean a couple of bucks to blow every month.  And I mean just that, a couple of bucks.

Jason is probably the kindest soul I have ever met or will ever know.  My first encounter with him was when I stopped some bone head kids from continually teasing him with words like "Fatso", "Big dummy", blah, blah blah.  I remember asking him why he did not grab them and crush the life out of them.  He is strong like bull.  He only said that they were just being mean because they didn't know any better.  And he knew that hurting them would be the wrong thing to do.  I have always thought that was so very cool and an indication Jason was not "special", just different.  Very different. 

Jason's calm demeanor and simple view of Life has more than once brought me back from some edge I found myself too close to.  Case in point was this past Saturday.  This past Saturday that has to rate as one of my top ten worst days at the bike shop.

I am not used to dissatisfied customers.  Oh, I have had a fair share over the years, but I focus my business on customer satisfaction first, money in my pocket second.  Saturday, it seemed every consumer who crossed my threshold had a hair across their butt.  Must have been 4 or 5 in a row.  It was awful.  I actually left the store and took a walk.  Door hanging open, register right there to be picked, bikes left vulnerable.  I just had to escape for a few moments.

All the while Jason sat in his chair at the back of the work area and looked at his wheels.  When I came back in, "You can't please everyone Mike, and tomorrow is another day.  And tomorrow you get to go for a bike ride. "

I looked at him sitting there calmly studying one of his new wheels and I began to chuckle.  Here's a man whose life choices are severely limited and have been his whole life.  A man whose health situation may mean he never sees age 50. If anyone should have a shitty outlook on Life it should be Jason.  Yet he accepts things as they are.

 And here I was getting all pissy over anal retentive consumers.  What a flounder I am. 

Thank you Jason.  You are indeed my good friend.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Another Afternoon Tea

At least it bumped the mosque/community center in NYC down the target list of the brain dead fools who love to make something from nothing. 

The idiot with the chalkboard threw his party this past weekend.  Apparently many of his slack jawed minions showed up.  How many?  Depends on which politically biased news source you would care to believe.  Hell, even the Park Service chimed in, even though they have not offered official counts since 1997.  Havng participated in mass rallies back in the 60s and 70s on that same hallowed ground, I would say that taking the opinion of anyone on the ground is not even close to an accurate count.  There is no way to know for sure.

And who cares anyway?  Like any pissing contest or whose johnson is bigger comparison,  idiots are drawn to useless numbers like flies to shit.  The bottom line is was the event a success?  The idiots on both sides do not seem to care.  It's all about the numbers.

All will agree however it was an all white crowd for the most part.  And again most will agree there were not many Muslims in the crowd.  After all, it was not a political rally (snicker, snort, chortle), but a rally to bring God back into our lives.  Only belief in God the Christian way will save us from ourselves.

It really does not matter what fine speeches were sputtered.  The message is running second to the numbers game.   It is of no consequence that with the exception of a rally goer throwing a sandwich in the face of a deli employee, it was a relatively peaceful event.  What everyone is concentrating on is how many fools made the trip. 

Damn.  This country is really a sit-com on steroids.

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