Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The Force is with me, found this test on Utah Savages' site that "determines" what science fiction character I am and it turns out I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi. That is the freaking best news I have had in a couple of weeks. Got to admit though that I answered my questions on a fairly high New Age psycho-babble level since while I don't really follow any organized religion, I don't believe humans have discovered all that makes up reality and the universe. Now please understand that my sanity, while out in interstellar space, does exist although I admit it's true shape is yet to be determined. There is no ghost in my house for me to talk with other than my sex life. I don't go around tracking Bigfoot where I live for the simple matter the first time he pooped in someone's yard in all these subdivisions he would be hunted down and killed. The only UFO's I believe in are the ones that stole Saddam's weapons of mass destruction just to make Bush look bad. And I only wear my aluminum foil hat when my in-laws come over. But I do have evidence of the la Chupacabra since I dated her once....or twice, and no, I didn't marry her. Thats is a whole other story.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Chimpanzees are not the nice cute creatures some believe or others would like to make us think. It has been fairly well documented that our closest cousins can easily display some of the worst aspects of homo sapien behavior. Jane Goodall's research has gone as far as describing chimpanzees practicing cannibalism, petty power struggles, and war. But like us they have also shown the other side practicing altruism, compassion, and reassurance.
When all things are generally considered though while we have created great works of art and literature, explored the reaches of both the sub-atomic and the intergalactic, built great cities and civilizations,and are trying to come to grips some of the worse aspects of our species. They at least don't have the ability to destroy the world and exclaim it is all worth it in the name of God, democracy, or free markets. And despite the following article I have this strange idea that if they were confronted with their version of our outgoing president they would recognize him for his true nature. Instead of electing him in the first place their basic instinct would probably have been to collect a hand full of poop and throw it at him, or a shoe if they had one close by.
Humans And Chimps Register Faces By Using Similar Brain Regions
ScienceDaily (Dec. 27, 2008) — Chimpanzees recognize their pals by using some of the same brain regions that switch on when humans register a familiar face, according to a report published online on December 18th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The study—the first to examine brain activity in chimpanzees after they attempt to match fellow chimps' faces—offers new insight into the origin of face recognition in humans, the researchers said.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
My greatest Christmas wish is for a fallout shelter that I can shut myself in and not come out of until after New Year's Day. The simplest way to explain my total and unabashed embrace of Scrooge-ism is that while some still find joy in the celebration of religious holidays or reconnecting with family and friends I find this season to be awash in hyper-commercialism and corporate induced anxiety.
A much to recent visit to the true local place of worship, the mall, resulted in the observation of various individuals barely able to cope with factors such as child expectations and financial realities. Little Johnny, standing defiantly in the electronics department clutching a Playstation 3, just didn't have a clue why mommy's credit card was a molten puddle in her pocketbook. While such events have been common for decades I have personally reached the age that I increasingly want to disconnect totally from the "holiday season". Instead of sugar plums dancing in my head I have visions of a peaceful quiet place cut off from this joyous time.
A better and less claustrophobic Christmas wish would be a sailboat that I could cruise around the Caribbean in until such time people are talking about Valentine's Day. Spending Christmas Day on some secluded beach away from the greater mass of civilization could, in theory at least, spark a small rebirth of holiday spirit. Especially if there is a nice jerk chicken stand nearby with cold beer. If anyone out there can help a suffering Beach Bum please contact me. I swear these damn Christmas carols and television specials, overdone holiday decorations, mall zombies, spoiled brats, in-laws, and holiday traffic are going to send me into a coma. Wasn't the Recession suppose to put a damper on all this shit?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Randal did his part and then tagged me, along with several others. So if this doesn't make any sense drift over to his excellent place and see the beginning. I hope Randal is cool with what I have done and I hope I followed the rules. But here it goes. As for tagging someone else the only person that might come close to wanting to do this I know,and hasn't already been tagged, is Zombieslayer.
Entering Arkham the banner overhead told of the annual Vegetarian Zombies Association convention with the group's motto underneath, “The living are friends not food.” Somewhere underneath the Disneyworld castle I figured the frost burned body of old Walt was spinning in his frozen capsule with the living dead so obliviously stealing something, however obliquely, from one of his movies and his incestuous domain that his acolytes protected so feverishly. The villainous corporate rat versus the living dead, the zombies just don’t know what they may gotten themselves into. However, happily it wasn’t my fight and I soon saw the bus approaching my destination.
We pulled into the bus station with an ease that seemed bizarre for the pretty young maniac that had piloted this contraption that was probably held together just with good intentions, duct tape, and maybe some sticky slime if the condition of the bus floor was any example. She collected her jacket as she adjusted her miniskirt that had ridden further up her thigh exposing a tattoo of some cute teddy bear eating the remains of a small child, the symbol of an old rock band whose music now was standard on the oldies and easy listening stations these days. I felt the old stirrings of youth and lust just under the surface of my ancient and stoic exterior, so much so that I focused my electric eye ever closer on the near busting cleavage her blouse barely contained. My mind began wandering and for someone like me that is always a mistake.
“So how about asking me about Dagon?” I heard her say which brought me back quickly to this particular reality. I looked up refocusing my eye to see her standing right next to me, her face cold and so lovely inhuman with her black hair flowing off the side of one shoulder.
“Excuse me miss?” I coughed out startled and embarrassed.
“If you want to do more than just look at the goods you have to come to our seminar. Dagon will not only show you the path to eternal glory and power but we have timeshares on the coast that frankly only foolish mortals would pass up.”
The vision before me now seemed tainted and spoiled. Dagon was nothing but a minor real estate deity hawking cheap condos and low financing, such a waste. After disengaging myself from her the best I could I made my way off the bus careful not to forget the small leather bag I was carrying and began walking through the bus station looking for the entity that I had to give the bag.
The whole spectrum of living, living dead, undead, possessed, phantoms, and spirits mingled in the dirty environment of Arkham’s bus station. My electric eye caught sight of some poor zombie, apparently here for the convention, on his cell phone trying to explain to his wife how he fell off the wagon and ate some living person. The sadness I saw in his eyes was awful, even the one hanging out the socket dangling by the crusty remains of his optic nerve. However, sitting off away from all the rest was some very pale fellow dressed in nice black slacks, white oxford shirt, black jacket and shoes holding a sign that said: Winford Picklesworth, the entity I was suppose to meet.
Walking up to him I quickly realized that Winford was a vampire. We exchanged greetings with me careful not to expose my neck and tempt the undead creature with my old but still valuable blood.
“Not to worry sir,” he politely said. “I’m just here to get my package from you.” Instantly I felt at ease with this creature of the night and didn’t know why. While for mortal appearances he looked around his late twenties to early thirties my experienced guess was that he had to be closer to three hundred.
“Well young man,” taking into account what I thought his true age was, “here you go. “I must say that while professionally I shouldn’t ask I’m curious to why so much would be spent to pay for an in person delivery?” As soon as the words left my mouth I figured the good undead man would go all vampire and do something like rip my head off.
“I’m so glad you asked.” Winford said as he took possession of the leather bag and opened it. “Because when I get a chance to praise the Lord to the unsaved I feel it is my duty to spread his word.”
In shock I recoiled to see him pull out a specially crafted cross and bible from the bag. It was then I realized that I had run across the strangest thing in at least three parallel universes. He was a member of “Vampires for Jesus” and the cross and bible I brought for him and been specially blessed by none other than big dude in Rome. Needless to say I got the hell out of there claiming that my electric eye was about to die out. As I walked away I couldn’t help but wonder where in the world did freaks like him come from?
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Holy warp drive, phasers, and antimatter! The Hollywood establishment might have made a Star Trek movie that may actually be worth the eight dollar ticket. Getting seriously Trek nerdy here but for years I lived off the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty. Rerun after freaking rerun I gladly watched Kirk bag the hot alien chick, Spock deal with his interstellar mother issues, McCoy tell everyone time and time again that he was a doctor damn it, and Scotty rig up the warp drive like a Christmas tree to get just a little more warp power. Of course I lusted after Uhura like you wouldn't believe, but I just will not go into that.
Then Roddenberry had to bring in the Next Generation crew and while they were good for a few laughs I just couldn't feel the same about them since Picard had to have a staff meeting to discuss implications for the Federation if he took a crap while on patrol next the neutral zone, and turning over the Enterprise to Riker was sure fire way to get the ship blown up or at least taken over by hostile aliens. I swear there were times I wished Worf would have gone all Klingon on them sometimes. Especially after the last three Next Generation movies that frankly I wish someone could tell me didn't seriously suck on all counts. And don't get me started on Wesley Crusher, if that character wasn't a reason to root for the Borg to collectivize the whole lot then I'm a primate's uncle.
For those wondering no, I do not have a stash of Star Trek toys, I got rid of them a few years ago but I do still have my plastic Vulcan ears. Long live and prosper, y'all.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The Place: On the road in central eastern Virginia
Believe it or not it was a dark and stormy night as I drove the starship (the family CR-V) up I-95 trying to find our way to some place called Sandbridge Beach, Virginia for my brother-in-law's wedding. Past military training for me has that when driving the guy or gal riding in the front passenger seat not only is the navigator but carries the job of making sure the driver, that was me, stays alert. Much to my dissatisfaction as I was driving I would repeatedly find Dragonwife reading some culinary magazine using a small book light. Normally keeping my wife preoccupied on long trips is a good thing but since this area was terra incognito for me I would have greatly appreciated her attention due to the severe rain, blasting winds, and heavy traffic I was driving through was seriously freaking me out. Instead I was periodically getting shown glossy pictures of various entrees that strangely reminded me of what the occupants of automobiles looked like in the aftermath of terrible car crashes. At least the kids were quiet with my son, Darth Spoilboy, and daughter, Miss Wiggles, being entertained. The former with his iPod and the latter watching a "Bratzs" movie on the portable DVD player. This was a good thing since I started to see in the rain this looming concrete octopus of several highway overpasses stacked on top of each over with the arms being roads moving off if different directions. In a rush Dragonwife dropped the magazine she was reading and began trying to tell me which of the many series of exits I would soon have to take. I in turn was careening across lanes while praying that we all didn't end up a sticky paste on the wet road because my brother-in-law had to be married in some out of the way romantic place. The MapQuest directions were saying something on the order of five separate exits all less than a mile apart. As usual for the Beach Bum/Dragonwife navigation team we missed one of the exits which I thought would soon have us replaying the old Bugs Bunny cartoon of him tunneling through the ground on a trip, coming up to the surface realizing he was very off course, in some sort of cartoon adventure, and that he should have taken a left turn at Abuquerque. At this point we tried to loop back around but due to rain, unfamiliar territory, and general grumpiness of both pilot and navigator we ended up on some county road which at least had the benefit of being out of traffic. Now I know guys are suppose to be the ones that don't want to ask for directions but I did stopping at several convenience stores hoping that someone would actually know where their store was in relation to the rest of the world. After hitting one in which the store clerk actually admitted to being a local and knowing something about the area we wandered around until we figured he was back at the store snickering about the tourists he sent on a wild goose chase. But since God looks after children and fools we came to a stop at an intersection and accidentally noticed a landmark that matched one on the poorly printed map we got from MapQuest. Back on track we made our way finally to the Sandbridge Beach area stopping at a fantastic seaside restaurant. It was still raining heavily as we tried to enter the restaurant with the hostess telling us that the area all the way toward Virginia Beach was experiencing a tropical storm that suddenly formed that day.
The restaurant was awesome, it was locally owned and operated and not some crappy national chain with mass produced pop culture stuff hanging from every space inside. Surfboards of various styles and lengths hug from the walls, a sign on the door assured us the seafood was locally caught, and the waitress was wearing a tight t-shirt. I don't know who was happier, Darth Spoilboy or myself, since he actually removed his iPod and talked to the young lady serving us along with openly staring at her nicely shaped assets. Anyone who reads me even a little will easily understand I was doing the same thing.
While our travels had been hard the delay its caused was beginning to be welcomed since had we arrive earlier we would have been drawn into Dragonwife's sister cooking dinner for the entire clan. Past history has Dragonwife's sister, Lady Trump, being large and in charge of the kitchen and freely drafting anyone into her service. Past history in such events have Dragonwife and me doing kitchen cleanup with Dragonwife going AWOL soon into the assignment. She would explain that her family doesn't get together all that often and she wanted some time to catch up with them. But since we ended up so late getting in having to stop for dinner we arrived at the house with dinner and cleanup done. I never asked who got saddled with cleanup but several disgruntled looks from the extended family sitting in the living room gave me a undue satisfaction and a general idea of who it was as we came in.
The rental house we were in for the weekend was beyond huge bordering on enormous. It has TWELVE bedrooms with four of them having two sets of bunk beds. Two fully furnished living rooms on the second and third floors, five bathrooms, and two decks again on the second and third floors with a deck area on ground level around the small swimming pool. Since the house was on stilts beside the pool area was a relatively sheltered space for parties that was going to be put to use Friday night. Now some might think we would have most in not the entire Dragonwife clan staying in such a place but it was only my immediate family, Dragonwife's parents, and Dragonwife's sister Lady Trump and her daughter. Mrs. Sunshine, my mother-in-law had some of her family (about six people) in another rental. Warren Beatty Sunshine, my brother-in-law had one for him and his fiancee. His fiancee, the soon to be Beautiful Gorgeous-Sunshine had her family in another house nearby as well. Mr. Sunshine, my father-in-law, couldn't get any of his people to break away from their jobs in Hell or from causing world-wide chaos but had they came I'm sure they would rented another beach house as well. All told I'm sure the wedding was a boost to the local economy.
Early Friday morning Wiggles came and got me out of bed wanting to walk on the beach and watch the sun rise. Since I had about nothing to say in the matter as far as my daughter was concerned I did whatever good dad did in such situations. I put on my shoes and went walking on the cold beach. After everyone finally went to bed the night before leaving the house quiet I swear I could feel the house swaying in the wind and hear more than the usual noise of creaks and groans. The truth to the matter was that as I strolled the beach with my daughter I started talking with another couple also walking around who were old time locals to the area near Sandbridge Beach. What they told me was that when the rental houses were built certain corners were cut in their construction. In a conspiratorial tone I was told that since the rental houses were never built to be family homes the roof trusses and rafters along with the floor joists were spaced farther apart to lessen construction costs. The husband of the couple also floated the idea that if a hurricane ever tore the place up he figured the rental agencies would clean up nicely having the federal government help pay for rebuilding the area . Of course as our conversation moved on to different subjects this couple began expressing their belief in UFO's and how Christ was going to return to Earth in one.
After our walk Wiggles and I returned to the house for breakfast. Lady Trump was once again cooking which brought me a sudden desire to go and find a McDonald's but once I found out it was simply scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes and not some sort of exotic breakfast recipe like the cauliflower spaghetti aglio olio, grilled lamb shoulder chop or salmon mango bango she made for breakfast at my house on several of her past Christmas visits. All I'm sure are fine meals for the most discriminating connoisseur but just don't figure in my menu.
Of course everyone should know Miss Wiggles in the picture and the other pretty little girl is Lady Trump's daughter the delightful Miss Giggles. Giggles gave me a new nickname on this visit and as far as she is concerned I'm not, or ever have been Uncle Beach, I am "Big Tummy." Sadly you can't fight the truth.
I figured I would get saddled with clean up since I was able to avoid it the night before but Darth Spoilboy, never a morning person, really ticked off Dragonwife that morning and ended up having kitchen cleanup much to my satisfaction.
As Friday progressed the various actors and actress in this drama began getting ready for the party that would take place that evening on the pool deck and the space under the beach house we were staying at. One time I described my in-laws as structured, controlled, and deliberate people taking nothing for granted or doing anything without a plan. The one thing I left out was that in such a situation as a wedding my in-laws each want to have the others to follow their plan.
As tables were erected, sound systems installed and checked, and the pool areas cleaned everything was going okay. When it came time for decorating Dragonwife, Warren Beatty Sunshine, Lady Trump, and Mrs. Sunshine each had their own ideas of what to be done. Mrs. Sunshine started out decorating the party area with beach/jungle style garland that looked like jungle vines, seashells and starfish made out of tissue paper hanging from the garland, admittedly obtrusive looking fake palm trees, and my favorite colorful parrots also made out of tissue paper. For my taste I thought it was perfectly fitting for a wedding in which the sounds of the ocean surf was clearly heard, plus I admit I thought it was cool stuff. Once Lady Trump, Dragonwife, Warren, and Beautiful Gorgeous' uncle arrived on the scene a shriek of such decorative distaste erupted I thought someone had died. They each sprung into action ripping all the stuff down giving Mrs. Sunshine such a case of the "vapors" that a normally very socially accepting lady couldn't help but point out in a very sarcastic way that she admitted she was out of her league in decorating since Beautiful Gorgeous' uncle was not only a professional designer but gay. In short, my mother-in-law was rather crabby the rest of the night and beyond which is the reason behind the picture I chose for this segment.
My initial concern on this whole matter was how Miss Wiggles would act at a very structured event on a beach in which her usual behavior at such a place was to run absolutely wild. Happily, her behavior was excellent except for the fact that the one duty she and Miss Giggles were assigned was to hand out small sea shells to all the beautiful people assembled so they in turn could drop them in some seriously expensive large crystal vase signifying the joining of two people and unity of marriage or some other symbolic verbal crap that I tuned out after about a minute wishing there was a tiki bar somewhere nearby. While the very long winded pastor rambled on who was in turned replaced by Warren and Beautiful Gorgeous who wrote long poetic vows for each other Wiggles and Giggles at some point decided to bury all the shells they had in their baskets. About ten minutes away from having the girls hand out the shells Dragonwife and Lady Trump had to quickly dig up or find more so the girls could hand them out. At this point I tried to slip away but my wife caught me (Spoilboy snitched) and dragged me back by the ear. Yes, Wiggles is annoyed in this picture because she was blowing bubbles with her bubble gum during the vows and had just had it taken away.
A small sampling of the "beautiful people" at the wedding right before the ceremony started which was done Saturday afternoon. I could point out many of the people I have written about but to prevent my life from becoming endangered I will leave it to y'alls imagination which person goes with the names I have created.
After the ceremony was over my father-in-law wanted to quickly retreat back to the house so he could watch some golfing tournament but Mrs. Sunshine, still irked about her choice in decorating being rejected from the day before, was not in the mood and kept his leash very short.
The newly married couple Warren Beatty Sunshine and Beautiful Gorgeous-Sunshine. I wish them all the best for a happy future. After the ceremony both rushed off and reappeared thirty minutes later having changed clothes with an airy rosy glow emanating from Beautiful Gorgeous and a telling shit eating smile coming from Warren. At that point I was at the beer table draining a third or fourth glass from the keg hearing some of the older guys making snarky comments about the couple "sealing the deal". I don't know whether Warren heard this stuff, I actually doubt it, but he yelled something out about never needing Viagra which shut several of the older farts up very quickly.
All told, I still hold to my belief that when the urge to marry comes up between two people regardless of any factor both should go lay down, take a nap and let the urge pass like bad gas.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
There is much in this world that I admit is over my head. How Bush got reelected in 2004, how that expert in the Constitution and geography Sara Palin still has people that want her to run in 2012, and perhaps strangest of all how Joe Lieberman can get on television and say he is still popular with Democrats after repeatedly stabbing President-elect Obama in the back. But as I was waiting in the theater parking lot for my son, Darth Spoilboy, to break his lip lock on his girlfriend ending their date the NPR game show "Wait...wait don't tell me!" was playing on the radio and they mentioned the item in the above video. I really didn't believe what they were describing so when I got home and after forcing Spoilboy into a cold shower I looked up the video.
Now I understand the concept of a treadmill and how it has certain advantages because I have always preferred running on them than running outside. Running outside in bad weather can really suck and I have an understanding that running on a treadmill is actually easier on the knees but combining a treadmill with running outside just doesn't make any sense to me. After seeing this video somewhere I imagine PT Barnum is laughing his ass off.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
On the surface everything about them looked perfect as they crossed the street into the park. The young, highly attractive couple walked down Meeting Street on a hot and humid Charleston day dressed in matching clothes holding each other tightly and intimately silently announcing to the world they were lovers. The man was in a flowery Hawaiian shirt with a black background overlaid with various tropical flowers that suggested style without looking like he was trying to be stylish. Blinding white slacks that had to be brand new, expensive leather belt and some of sort of leather loafers for shoes just oozed privilege and money. Despite the weather the man showed no sign of it affecting him to the point his hair being blown in the hot breeze returned to its exact position looking like he had just left the stylist. The lady was wearing a matching tube top with the same Hawaiian design that was cut low exposing more than a little cleavage. Perspiration from the Southern heat and humidity had left a glossy sheen on the upper portion of her exposed cleavage that if anything added to her grace and sensuality. Her long skirt was the same blinding white as the slacks her lover was wearing but tight enough to show off her legs.
The young lovers moved as if in slow motion oblivious to all the other tourists and residents around them and every now and then would move their hands touching each other in a new even more intimate way momentarily looking into each other eyes reconfirming their love for each other. Passion burned in those looks and before a statue of some Civil War era politician erected in the center of the park they embraced and in the fervor of the moment unable to contain themselves and fierily began kissing and exploring each other’s body. While the world during that time didn’t exist for them the spectacle of what amounted to making love in public did shortly begin to draw the attention of all the others in the park. Old men smiled in envy, old ladies in pastel hats and dresses waving fans as if to cool down their own fantasies looked on prudishly in disapproval. Various reactions could be found in the married couples strolling through the park at that time. Some husbands and wives made attempts not to make eye contact with their spouses as they jealously watched on wishing for all the world that they could experience again just for one moment the same fire. Other married couples saw the young lovers next the statue and looked into the eyes of their spouses and began smiling quietly making a wordless promise that once the kids were asleep they too would reach for each other.
The sounds of city traffic, children playing in the park, municipal workmen tearing up the street nearby, and passing planes on approach to the airport didn’t faze the lovers as they continued to ignore the world and explore their feeling for each other but what did draw them back was the sound of sirens. Their separation from reality ended and what had once been the look of burning passion in each other’s eyes now became fear and worry. For an instant their look changed and they both glanced around like cornered animals looking for some avenue of escape or someplace to hide. But the attention they had drawn had not ended with their display of affection. The onlookers still watched on which brought a hint of redness in the cheeks of the lady and a slightly embarrassed smile in the man he tried to hide.
The young lovers looked to each other again and curiously resigned themselves to what fate the thought approached them. Moving over to an empty wrought iron park bench they sat close to each other finally whispering some words that to everyone else watching were overwhelmed by the normal sounds of a living city. Now like teenagers on a first date they nervously held hands and looked off into space.
The sirens came closer and more distinct separating into at least six to eight individual cars. For some in the park such sounds of approaching authority were a motivating factor to be someplace else even though their ultimate destination of the sirens could be miles away. But the sound of screeching tires and car doors being quickly opened and slammed signified that the park was the destination of whatever authority that had been racing the streets.
The small park was close to perfectly square with streets bordering it on all four sides. At each side of the park two unmarked cars with a flashing siren magnetically attached to roof had stopped with three deadly serious people in suits getting out and walking toward the young lovers. Even in the summer heat both the males and females of the group converging on the lovers carried themselves with an air of dark professionalism. Their eyes were hidden with midnight black sunglasses giving what some of the people still in the park hopefully thought was an unintended look of death stalking it’s next victim. Like wolves they surrounded the lovers still on the bench and with the little earbuds inserted in their ears and the occasional lifting of an arm to speak into some tiny device mounted inside the sleeve of their suit jacket like wolves they covered each other for any possible surprise. More than a few parents rushed to their children who out of curiosity began walking toward the well dressed wraiths. Instead of a reassuring smile or wave as the parents retreated with their children they received a cold appraisal that lacked all human spirit or feeling.
Within a minute the lovers were surrounded with some of the authority figures facing outward to block the view to those watching. Suit jackets were finally unbuttoned and one retired military man sitting on a nearby bench that had enjoyed watching the two lovers as they entered the park spotted a submachine gun holstered underneath the jacket with the authority figure’s hand on the pistol grip clearly scanning the surroundings for dangerous intent. The retired military man, a veteran of several wars, knew not to make any sudden moves and prayed that no civilian would either. He knew from experience that behind those sunglasses was not the mind of a human but at best a well trained machine and at worst a cold reptile that was looking for a reason to spill blood. Quietly the retired military man wondered what the two young people had done to draw such special attention to themselves.
The retired military man caught a glimpse of some sort of identification being shown and the complete lack of response from the lovers. Efficiently and quietly female personnel produced restraining devices and applied them to the feet and hands of the lady at the same time male personnel did the same to the man. Equally efficiently they lifted the two and even more quickly moved them in separate directions to cars on opposite ends of the park.
Most onlookers had long since either left the scene not wanting to possibly be draw into whatever was going on or made special effort to ignore it all but none could have mistaken or ignored the final words the two lovers spoke. As they were being carried away the authority figures had overlooked taping their mouths.
“I will always love you!” The man cried out. Clearly his choice of words and tone said that he knew he would never see the woman again in this life time. That whatever fate awaited him she would be someplace else.
“I will never forget you!” The woman cried back less than a second after the last word left the man’s mouth. Her words spoke of an equally sad fate with no hope of redemption.
Whatever authority that had taken them into custody quickly corrected the oversight of not preventing them from speaking with one person in each group producing a clear tape that was applied to the mouth of the person they carried.
The young lovers were placed inside cars, along with the authority personnel and instead of speeding off the drivers made a special effort to leave as quietly and as normally as they could. The flashing sirens were removed and within a mere two minutes the cars had each taken a different direction away from the park. Another minute later it was if nothing had ever happened. A few onlookers whispered questions to each other about what the two lovers might have done. But new people arrived in the park knowing nothing of the recent events, children began playing, old men took up seats and watched young lovers come strolling by, old women fanned themselves and wished they were home, parents watched children and wondered if excitement would ever return to their lives.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935
Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.
- Otto von Bismarck, 1815 - 1898
Lord, bid war's trumpet cease;
Fold the whole earth in peace.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them. Whether chance of birth or circumstance decides life’s big winners and losers, or whether we build a community where, at the very least, everyone has a chance to work hard, get ahead, and reach their dreams.
BARACK OBAMA, speech, Jun. 4, 2005
While it is still early McCain's path to victory is looking thinner by the minute. So forgive me if I start to get contemplative on what lays ahead. It's an old military adage that while winning the battle is hard, winning the peace is even harder. A nearly wrecked economy, a military spread desperately thin fighting two wars, a drug-like addiction to foreign oil, an education system that after decades still falls embarrassingly short of preparing children for the 21st century, and finally and perhaps worst of all an American people that has been polarized and fractured to the point that some people openly question who is "pro-American" and "anti-American".
If Obama does end up winning the election the battle will be far from over. Expectations of a massive progressive agenda will have to be balanced with economic and political realities. Bridges will have to built with those on the other side who are willing to work together in good faith. Along with exposing and isolating those out to sabotage efforts to help the country from either side whether it be spiteful Republicans out for revenge or rogue Democrats out to score points for their own purposes.
A President Obama will still need our support even more then as he tries to knit a wounded country back together and sets it back on a road toward the principles it was founded on instead of a government that just craters to those with access to power and wealth. It will not be easy, success will not come overnight, and some might become impatient with pet issues that are not addressed as quickly or as intensively as they want. This is where we have to act with the same energy and motivation that carried Senator Obama through close to two years of hell to the White House. In other words instead of acting like spoiled children we will finally have to act like the Americans we claim to be. Lets hope we are up to this battle because it will be far harder than just getting Obama elected.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A work of fiction
She was suddenly gripped by the need to check her wallet for the lotto ticket. Almost in a panic she ran out of the tiny bedroom wearing only her panties into the equally tiny living room of her apartment. She grabbed her purse that had tipped over on the couch as she had come in minutes before spilling much of the detritus that anyone living in the modern world easily collected. Her panic only receded some after seeing the wallet still inside. Trembling fingers searched through compartments until she saw a sliver of the zip-lock sandwich bag she had stored the ticket in after not so casually looking up the winning lotto numbers during lunch. Still not quite believing the ticket was real she broke apart the seam and as deftly as a surgeon removing a heart pulled the ticket out to look at the numbers. Also in her wallet was the printout of the state lottery web page that she had covertly as possible printed out trying not to draw attention to herself. She matched the numbers from the printout to the ticket one by one staring at each trying to convince herself it was real.
It was on an utter whim that she had bought the thing to begin with a couple of days before, a quick stop at a convenience store to buy oil for the car. Standing in line at the checkout the flashing LED screen above the cash register displayed a standard list of lottery promotional messages that she knew by heart just because the things were above every cash register in every convenience store in the state. She looked up to see one message flash on the screen that said: “It’s your time.” Like some flash of unexpected lightening she only sees it briefly not really thinking much of it except that it was not part of the norm. But when the cashier handed her back a dollar saying she had overpaid for the oil she felt strongly drawn to buy one quick instant number pick. As she walked back to her car she felt foolish for wasting the dollar. Today as she sat in the break room eating lunch the local afternoon newscast reported the numbers and that one winning ticket had been sold. The bologna sandwich she had been eating almost was sprayed all over the back of one of her co-worker’s head as the numbers displayed on the screen had a strong resemblance to the ones on her ticket. After a very illegal personal use of the law firm’s internet access back at her cubicle she sat in stunned disbelief. Her numbers matched the ones on the lottery web site. Feeling like a spy she made sure that Alexandria, her work group’s snitch was no where around as she printed out the web page and stored the ticket in her sandwich bag to keep it safe.
Minutes slipped by in the apartment as she kept checking the numbers time and time again until she noticed how she was getting cold which was the result of the air conditioning being turned up so high. Her one luxury she allowed herself in an otherwise austere life which was dedicated to her two boys. The other thing she soon noticed was the shadow hovering over her; she turned her head to see eight year old Jimmy Thompson staring inside with his mouth open in shock. The world came back into focus as she stared back at the little boy who was best friends with her oldest son, Brian. Quickly she ran back into the bedroom, grabbed her worn and ragged robe and went back opening the door.
“Hey Mrs. Mitchell, is Brian home yet?” Jimmy asked still clearly aghast at what he accidently saw from the window.
“No Jimmy,” Donna Mitchell replied tiredly and slightly irritated, “Brian and Joe are still at their grandpa’s and will be back tomorrow.” She watched Jimmy turn and walk back down the second floor walkway to his apartment feeling upset with herself given how she must have sounded to the boy. It wasn’t his fault that his friend’s crazy mother had decided to perch herself on the couch naked checking a lotto ticket with the window open. Donna shivered to herself thinking it could have been worse.
She closed the door, locking all three of the big latches, closed the window curtains, and went back to her bedroom. She passed the boy’s room trying not to see the huge Disneyworld poster on the wall signifying the unfulfilled wish of both her boys. Donna gritted her teeth thinking how they were only days away from going to see Mickey when Thomas Mitchell, the boy’s father, up and disappeared taking the money, good car, and destroying the childhood of their oldest son Brian. In the years that have followed Brian’s childhood had quickly passed and when Donna looked into his eyes she saw the soul of a much older person. Brian had taken upon himself to be both a brother and father to his younger brother, Joe, trying to preserve his innocence. One time as she lay with her boys on the couch watching a Disney movie, she saw tears silently roll down Brian’s face. It was then she made an equally silent promise to Brian that one day she would get them to the Magic Kingdom.
Lying on her bed was the work clothes she had worn to the law office that day. Her usual habit upon returning home before her dad brought the boys back to the apartment was to strip off the expensive and slightly trendy business attire her job made her buy and wear so they could “keep appearance up with the clients.” At the end of the day she felt dirty and used having to smile and be polite to the multitude of high priced pigs and bottom feeding sharks she worked around.
Donna knew a little history and literature having finished three years of college before she screwed up her life by hooking up with the boy’s father who left her with nothing after the birth of Joe to run off so he could find himself. Her work place combined the worse traits of a ninetieth century sweatshop and Orwell’s Oceania. Everyone was to work their asses off with far from comparable pay for their efforts along with towing the party line to make the upper-end clients feel good thinking that the partners gave a damn about them. With scores of young and attractive staff running around all dressed as if they walked out of a respectable fashion magazine the partners that ran the firm seem to be able to get away with outrageous billing practices. Poor attitude, dissent, or what the partners felt was disloyalty was quickly squashed with the offender escorted out the building. Each day after she returned home she had to spend huge amounts of time taking care of her work clothes, time she would have rather spent with her boys. Making matters worse in the morning before her dad came to pick up the boys for school her heart sank seeing her children having to wear third hand castoffs. While their dad had been a disaster they were the light in her life. Even though they went without they none the less kept her from sinking into despair and hopelessness.
Since the boys were with her dad for a couple of days of “guy time” she knew she had plenty of time to get things organized but out of habit she inspected what she had worn that day, No spots, stains, or tears, and it actually still looked ironed. Feeling good she hung the outfit back up with the dozen other outfits neatly hanging in the closet and went to have a long shower. Her mind was a blissful blank as she dropped the robe and removed her underwear and stepped into the hot water. As her mind and body concentrated on the water flowing over and down her skin a sudden and jolting thought struck her. It was Wednesday and the pigs and sharks at the firm liked to have a mid-week golf tournament closing everything down early letting the staff leave early as well. The state lottery office was still open and would be open for at least two hours she figured. She almost slipped on the wet bathroom floor running to both dry off and get some clothes on.
The old Civic farted and belched as Donna drove to the local state lottery office. She could feel time slipping by, that it would have her arrive just a little late with the people gone and doors locked. But as she pulled up to the nondescript office park she looked at her watch and saw she still had a good hour and a half before they would have closed up for the day.
“Hello,” the receptionist said lazily clearly not expecting much in the way of excitement as Donna walked in. “How can I help you today?”
Water was still dripping down Donna’s hair which she had barely brushed in her rush to get out the apartment. She could feel how damp her skin was and strangely felt the need to be embarrassed that she had forgotten to put on a bra. The receptionist was looking at her strangely now and Donna struggled to get the words she was about to speak straight in her head.
“I’m Donna Mitchell,” she began, taking time to swallow, “and I have the winning lotto ticket for this week’s drawing.” As she made her statement watching the eyes of the receptionist begin to swell in surprise Donna fished the lotto ticket out of her purse still inside the used sandwich bag. Even though she had understood in a basic sense she had the winning ticket since lunch the final aspect in all this finally hit her. All her struggles were over, as soon as the money was deposited in her usually empty checking account the kids, her dad’s, and her life would change forever. She could tell the firm to go to hell, buy a house far in the country, buy her kids some decent clothes, and school be damned they would all see Disneyworld. Swarms of people came out of every office to greet her causing her head to spin. One gentleman made his way to her saying he was the manager of this office and saying something about an ungodly amount of money.
“How much was that again sir?” Donna asked knowing that winning the lottery meant millions but that number had to be wrong. Before her strange urge at the convenience store she had never paid much attention to the lottery. A caring and comforting smile crossed his face and he pointed to a board hanging on the wall showing the amount she had won. The cash jackpot for her drawing was one-hundred, seventy million dollars. Luckily, enough people had gathered around that when she fainted she was easily laid on the floor. Her last thought before her mind shut down briefly was that after the Disney trip she would look into going back to school.