Wednesday, December 19

Fun With The News

I used to enjoy doing this until Tiff started doing it better, but just too much good stuff lately.

R. Kelly Misses Court Date in Chicago
Shocking. Next you'll tell me Pam is getting divorced.

Pamela Anderson Files for Divorce
Shocking. Next you'll tell me Amy Winehouse got arrested.

Amy Winehouse Arrested in Husband Case
Shocking. Next you'll tell me a Spears family member is an idiot.

Jamie Lynn Spears Pregnant at 16
Oh, I give up.

Swiss, EBay Stop Sale of Iraqi Treasure
Overestimated the value of scrap metal and camel dung.

Congress Challenges Bush Over CIA Tapes
Protests erasure of money shot.

Romney Aligns Himself With Bush in Iowa
In preparation for make-up money shot.

Giant Rat Discovered in Indonesia Jungle
Later identified as Jerry Falwell in hiding.

T.O. to Jessica Simpson: Stay Away
Apparently, T.O. is unable to tolerate anyone prettier than him.

Tequila Finds Love on MTV Dating Show
Conversely, MTV dating show contestants find love on tequila.

Osborne to Remain Nebraska AD Until 2010
Sharon blames Ozzie's extended attention-deficit on retarded kids.

WHO Urges Vigilance As Bird Flu Spreads
Recent study finding: no one.

NY Banks Robbed 4 Times in a Week
One less than their customers.

Morgan Stanley, Hovnanian Big Movers
Cite Feen-A-Mint as cause.

Judge: White House Logs Are Public
Cites 1964 Feen-A-Mint precedent.

Al-Qaida Offers 'Interview' With No. 2
Expresses interest in Feen-A-Mint.

Bush to Visit Israel, West Bank
"I hope it accepts my ATM card," sez Prez.

China Not Cited As Currency Manipulator
Upgraded to "ethics abuser."

NASA Ties Shuttle Gauge Woes to Bad Part
WAMU Wires Butter Gouged Nose to Brad Pitt.

Iraq Complains over Turkey Bombing
Admits that the chicken bazooka is pretty cool, however.

Knicks Fans Rally for Isiah to Be Fired
Please let it be from a chicken bazooka.

Whales May Have Come From Deer-Like Animal
Which explains why whales were almost hunted to extinction for their antlers.

Man Wrestles, Subdues Deer at Maryland Home
Found smothered in baleen.

Tuesday, December 18

9 Little Known Christmas Facts

Every kid knows all the items in his stocking came from the $.99 Store, and doesn't want any of it.

No one really knows what Kwanza Kwaanzaa Quonza Kiwanis that stupid made-up holiday is.

By the age of three months, the average American child has seen "A Christmas Story" 47 times.

You will never find the perfect Christmas card, but at least you won't be torturing loved ones with the generic "what we did this year" letter from the family dog.

If you count all the crazed idiot shoppers at the mall, you're one of them.

New Christmas carols suck.

The word marzipan Comes from the German martz, meaning "sweet," and the Danish zippan, meaning "horse turd."

One pound of fruitcake weighs three pounds.

As soon as you pay your Christmas bills, it's Christmas again.

Friday, December 14

Unfair

All these random shootings lately, at schools, at malls, at a school bus stop here in Sin City. So many innocent people harmed for no good reason. So many diseased individuals with guns.

And they keep missing Oprah!

Saturday, December 8

Self Analysis Through Movies

The Ten Commandments (1956)
A prince of privilege discovers the plight of those less worthy. In sympathy and political downfall, he learns a man is defined by simple things, his worth measured by his relationships with others. Slave by birth, leader by upbringing, he finds the true measure of a man is acknowledgement of himself and belief in things greater than himself.

Logan's Run (1976)
A policeman of the state, drenched in power and excess, questions his existence and the culture that bore him. Through defiance and treachery, and with a strong woman at his side, he discovers the uncomfortable and delicious dangers of freedom.

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Men skilled in gunplay and strategy, outcasts all, band together in a hopeless cause. In doing so, they learn the value of friendship, family, and community.

Spartacus (1960)
A victim of Roman imperialism, a man refuses to be subdued, eventually leading a strong revolutionary army. A life of extreme passions, lust, hatred, and violence are tempered by his leadership and compassion of others. His life ends in unjust persecution. His unbreakable independence succeeds him.

A River Runs Through It (1992)
In a place of astounding natural beauty and raw human emotion, an eldest son measures himself against his father and his younger brother. Living by paternal code and a sense of what is right, he is overshadowed by his younger brother's charisma and larger-than-life persona. After carrying on the traditions of marriage and children, his brother's death by gambling and bravado are revered by his ministerial father.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney 1996)
A hated and ugly man discovers the source of his torment is not God, but the evil of men. His spirit conquers all but the woman he desires. He finds his goodness and optimism are enough after all.

Casablanca (1942)
A man is jaded by a woman who left him and world events turning sour. When the love of his life crosses his path on the arm of another man, he finds the strength and love to help in her happiness. He discovers a friend he did not know he had, gives up all he owns, and devotes himself to the future.

King Kong (1933)
A misunderstood creature tries to reach out, but is reviled. His attempts at tenderness are misunderstood, his lonely bravado mistaken for aggression. Finally, a victim of his desires, he succumbs to powers that he does not understand, and which will not understand him.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
A man learns his worth, however insignificant it may seem. The lesson is uplifting, if bittersweet.

How I Chose
I listed my favorite movies, and whittled the list down to nine. I ranked them in terms of themes that spoke most clearly to me, not necessarily by which I would choose to watch over any other. It was a difficult task.

The result is not a hierarchy of my favorites, but a snapshot of who I am right now. My cursory descriptions of the films give insight to who I think I am. It might be interesting to see what others think.

I invite you to do the same. You might be surprised by what you find.

Sunday, December 2

Breathing Room

I write this with a head full of ideas while drinking beer and watching football at my favorite watering hole. So 'scuse me if it doesn't meet the accepted definitions of coherence or sense. I believe the truth of it will come through, misspellings, excessive punctuation, drifting thought and all.

It seems to me that all good life-changes take a year to absorb. Bad life-changes either dog you forever, or you slice them off as quickly as possible.

The weekly meetings with my boss used to take an hour and a half. Now it's down to 30 minutes. Ten minutes of work/strategy/problem talk, and twenty minutes of two men talking about sports, family, staff, whatever. We both had a great deal invested in my hiring. Now it's proven and successful, so the "imminent danger" mentality is gone. The mental resources invested in worry is now available for more productive things.

I can breathe now. Maybe it's a male thing, but until my breadwinner status is assured, I cannot find the energy needed to completely devote my self to the day-to-day activities of the family, or other pursuits I might enjoy. It's not that I'm distant, it's just that the foundation isn't as strong as it could be. It is unfair to both sexes, and seemingly out of favor now, but if I cannot provide food, shelter, and security to my mate and our offspring, I should not progress to other endeavours. Perhaps this is why fathers are perceived as more distant than mothers. I firmly believe it is my lot, my role, my responsibility, my place.

I take that back. It's not a male thing. It's a good man thing.

With all my flaws, mistakes, errors in judgment, I am a good man. My children love me. My wife loves me. My children have tough shells and smarts and tools to survive their own flaws, mistakes, errors in judgment.

I love my children. I love my wife. And they love me, because I have provided for them. I have fulfilled every primate male's duty as described by
Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a duty that has no end, nor option to resign. I am a good man.

- - - - -

Princefisher I will fly away from the nest in about six weeks. Sure, he will live with relatives, but he won't be here. Truth be known, Queenfisher and I shoved him out. We would not be good parents if we didn't make him test his wings. Sometimes the lessons of youth are harder on the parents. But I am excited. And proud. He will attend my Alma Mater, a beautiful place rich with my family's history. I envy his future experience, the insatiable curiosity, the invulnerable beliefs, the incalcuble losses, the invaluable wins. But I will miss him terribly.

- - - - -

Princefisher II underwent surgery 4 days ago. It was necessary, and simple by today's standards, but it drained me. Having never been in a hospital before, my 16-year-old son was unfamiliar with the bastard show-everyhting-robe he was required to wear. But he allowed me to help him, sarcastically assuming the "against the wall" position of an arrestee so I could tie up the robe's inscrutible laces. For an instant, I saw the young supple beauty I used to possess, which was irresistable to the girls who brought him home-made cup cakes during his recovery. His male friends visited in droves, tender and understanding, allowing him to rest his legs across their laps, telling him they would leave when he needed rest. When he needed rest, they quietly covered him with a blanket and left.

I never had friends like that.

- - - - -

Princessfisher. I don't know how to describe my daughter, or my love for her. So here's a picture of her and my mother. On vacation I took them to San Francisco. We walked and drove the Presidio, had lunch at an outside table at Fisherman's Wharf, and rode the cable cars. How do you explain a good man's feelings about a day with females that define him? You can't.

- - - - -

So you see the important things by which I perceive my identity. But there are insignificant things that are important as well. Things without which life is just existence. Things which make existence life. Things which, important people and required duty aside, speak to us and make life wondrous, beautiful, inexpressable. All you can do is relate them, and hope others understand.

- - - - -

All marriages go through times of difficulty. Fortunately for the wife and I, serious relationship issues have occurred once, maybe twice, in 23 years. Unfortunately, right now we are in a bit of financial difficulty. Christmas is a bad time for that, especially with college bills coming up, but we seem strangely calm about it. Sure, we worry, but maybe it's because we've been through so much already that we are reinforced and comforted by each other and fight on. Little things seem to mean so much more right now.

- - - - -

Driving to San Franciso on vacation I saw flocks of migrating birds. In wedges and polygons and riots and weavings they executed random patterns against the sky, the reasons unknown to me, but gorgeous and perfect.

- - - - -

Two days ago we had a 24 hour rain. In the desert this is rare and precious. The steady light kisses of the sky caused Mt. Charleston to hide behind veils of white.

- - - - -

I arrived home after a hard day and a harder commute. My kids had rimmed the front windows in Christmas lights, bought light-up candy canes and placed them on the lawn, and put together our fake Christmas tree. Fake? Fuggit. It was my home, and my family made it for me to see.

- - - - -

We had to put Pupfish to sleep for the winter. Our last voyage was perfect. It was too cold to swim, but the sunlight fairies danced on the waves. Soda and beer and cheese and bread and salami was never so good. It was just us: Kingfisher, Queenfisher, Princefisher I, Princefisher II, and Princessfisher. As a bonus, wild burros came to visit! The lead male threatened us, probably because there were more females than males, but moreso because there was a baby burrito. We anchored the boat and watched him lead his tiny herd to somewhere else.

- - - - -

Like that burro, I am an alpha male. My workmates may not see it. My offspring may rebel against it. But after one year, I accept that which makes me. I cannot speak for females, but as a leader I have learned how to be the manager, the protector, the provider, the patriarch of a little piece of humanity. I am steadfast in uncertain battles. I am malleable in uncertain debate. I am confident in uncertain times, even if I am uncertain.

Life continues to change, but at least I can breathe a little slower now. Until the next task, whatever it may be. Now on to all those things I've wanted to do for a year but didn't have the energy for!

2008 is gonna be great.

p.s. The 49ers suck.


Friday, November 30

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up


I want to be the man who takes care of the aquarium. It would be fun to scuba dive in the giant tanks and feed the fish. I would have a trained octopus who would eat out of my hand. There would be a big laboratory where I could learn all about fish when I wasn't taking care of them.


Clopin is cool. He's the smartest guy in all Paris and leader of the bad guys who are really good guys. He knows ventriloquism and does puppet shows. He has cool clown clothes. Plus he sings really high at the beginning of Hunchback of Notre Dame. And he knows magic.



I'd like to be an astronaut. You can jump real high on the moon. You might even be able to go to Mars. It would be super cool to ride in a rocket and watch Earth get real small. I would eat my dinner through a straw. Then I would fart and laugh at the other astronauts because they can't get away. I'd bring back some moon rocks for my Mom.




If you had gorillas for friends you would be awesome. Tarzan is awesome. He can kill a huge snake underwater with a knife. He lives in a tree and swings on vines and yells a lot. He plays with grown-up girls in leopard bikinis. All the jungle animals do what he says. Awesome.



Being a writer would be fun. You could write stories about robots and lasers. Or you could write about animals that talk. You can write about anything in your imagination! Then people would see your book in the store and you would be famous. Or maybe I would write for TV. I would write cartoons and then me and my friends could watch them after school. That would be fun, too.




Mr. Spock. He's a Vulcan. They don't feel stuff. He's really strong and smarter than anybody, even Captain Kirk. He gets to fly around in outer space and meet neat looking aliens and stuff. If I was Mr. Spock I would probably get all A's in math and science. And he does that cool neck pinch thing that can put bullies to sleep.



A bear is the baddest animal ever. He's so mean that none of the other animals will mess with him, even the girl bears. But he is also nice sometimes. He gets to eat salmon and berries and ants and gets to sleep all winter when it's cold. Bears live in a forest in the mountains where I went camping one time. Except polar bears. I don't want to be a polar bear.




Paleontologists look for dinosaur bones. I would like to find a dinosaur nobody ever saw before. Maybe even the biggest dinosaur ever! This guy named Jack Horner found a lady T-rex. I think her name was Susan. He also found some other mother dinosaurs and their eggs with babies inside. I wish I could go back and see real dinosaurs. Stegosaurus is my favorite.


My friend says ninjas are way cooler than pirates. As if. Pirates would sail their ship and blow up the ninja village with a cannon before the ninjas knew they were coming. Ninjas don't have parrots or treasure. They wear black pajamas. Pirates wear big boots and big hats with feathers in they took from some dead guy. Pirates get to live on the ocean and drink rum and climb ropes. Pirates have gnarly beards and bigger swords.


Let's play tag!
- Tiff
- Rennratt
- Shari
- Wordnerd

Tuesday, November 27

Listen Close

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.


Listen Close



That fucker, he’s always watching.

Doctor LaSalle the pusface tries to tell me what’s right, but she’s a philistine. She never listens. She talks and talks but never expresses a coherent thought. How many times do I have to point out the obvious?

Fluoxetine? Please. I eat that shit like candy. Lithium? Might as well swallow the powdered exhaust from a ‘57 Ford. That stuff’ll kill you for sure. Haloperidol? Might work on an earthworm, but not a crocodile like me. Clozapine? Ain’t gonna do it, hombre. I hide it in my corn. Can’t trust corn either. Kernels or pills, what’s the difference? They will both kill you if you aren’t careful.

No one learns any more, that’s the problem. No one really reads a book or feels the hum of the planets or thinks in the darkest safety of the night. There is everything there, more than your mind can hold. But not me. I keep my mind pure and alert and open to everything. That’s why I am free. Intelligence is not bound by ideas others have thought before. You’ve got to go and make reality for yourself.

Listen close: Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Cleopatra’s Needles. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Lawrence Welk. Aluminum nitrate. Jesus turding Christ! It’s all right there! One day they’ll stop cleaning these walls and look at the stuff I’ve written there. Then they’ll see.

The New York Times, Il Papa, Commandant Pusface, my father. They all think they know, but they don’t. They think I don’t know, but I do. I KNOW. I know i know i know i know i know. It’s that knowledge that keeps me safe.

If you’re smart, you’ll listen, and listen close. Pay attention. Beware. Don’t trust anything. Don’t trust anybody.

Because that fucker? He’s always watching.


Thursday, November 1

Exchange Rate

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.


Exchange Rate


¡Sangre de Cristo!” Villareal almost tripped over his mop in his haste to leave the room. He crossed himself twice, intricate tattoos emblazoned on his forearms, the left a glowing Virgin Mary, the right a somber crucifix.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Ladrón de almas: the thief of souls!” The mummy I was studying, had been studying for a week, stared without eyes. I forgot Villareal was rarely down in the basement, so had never seen our current project.

“Oh, him? He was found in the mountains east of town. He can’t hurt anyone now.” Villereal crossed himself again, grabbed his tools, and fled up the stairs.

I spent the day examining the body and taking notes. The forgotten town in the arid Mexican hills had yielded a wealth of treasures from the nineteenth century, including 23 mummies. For some reason we could not determine, all had been found unburied in a cave, unusual for the time and place in which they had lived. Some were found with thick paper cards embellished in strong, flowing Latin script. Such was the case with Castro, our current project, so named for his card. We called them “inventory tags,” a ghoulish joke that no doubt would have offended our poor beloved janitor.

After bending over the table and peering through magnifying lenses all day, I was ready for a hot meal, a cold drink, and lively music at the cantina. Villareal met me at the top of the stairs.

“Please jefe,” he pleaded, “do not leave me here alone.”

“There is nothing to be afraid of, my friend. Nothing can hurt you here.” I laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Besides, the night crew will be here soon. Buenos noches.” I left the building, feeling guilty in the frightened gaze of the superstitious Villareal.

The next morning, the janitor greeted me as I opened the museum’s heavy doors. I didn’t recognize him.

“Where is Villareal this morning?” I asked.

Buenos dias, señora. He is not here. I take his place.” A glance at his nametag betrayed his lie. It said Castro. An expanding pool of sickness threatened to rise from my gut. I ran down the stairs to the basement lab. The corpse was still on the examining table, covered in the same dingy cloth.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” my assistant said. “We got another one today.” He pulled back the cloth to reveal a dried, papery face. The features were a grotesque contortion, as if the person had been frozen in panic at the moment of death. “Looks like the night guys moved ol’ Castro.”

My skin went numb. My bones turned cold. My eyes turned the room into stark colors and lines, dark and menacing. I pulled the cloth farther. There, on the parchment-like skin of mummified arms, were the faded representations of the Blessed Virgin and her Son.

I didn’t need to see the old inventory tag to know what it read now.


Saturday, October 6

Hands

Look at my hands
They grow older than I
Grip span diminishes
Life span increases

Flesh grows thin above
Joints grow wide within
A caress means more
Even if touch means less

Scars of invincible youth
Creases of skills learned
Pains of injury and repetition
Wonders of newborns held

Father did you ever
See me in your hands?


Friday, October 5

Maybe It's Fun, But What Does It Mean?

Memes bug me. Partly because it seems so teenagery, partly because it smacks of geek techspeak snobbery, partly because it's a lazy way of putting some tepid ideas or opinions out in public without any real thought or originality, but mostly because the word "meme" is so damned stupid. It's a made up pretentious cutesy bastardette of a word that makes me think of an opera singer's warm up routine: "Me-me-me-me!"

I've been tagged (I think) for a meme by my friend Tiff*. I don't quite understand it, but here's what I think it's all about.

It sounds like a blog pyramid scheme. The theory is that links to your blog from another blog are more important than the existence of your blog. That is, links drive traffic more than content, and allow your e-fart to climb the search engine hierarchy. Or something like that.

Did that sound sarcastic? Yes? Good.

As I understand the rules, I am to tag 5 blogs, four from the list of the the person who tagged me, which includes the tagger's own blog, then add my blog, creating a list of five reading destinations, composed of three entries each. Then I am to tag five more who will continue the chain meme. If you don't you will have bad luck for 3 years. A pastor in Tulsa broke the chain and he lost his congregation, his dog, and his prostate. Sorry, I made that last part up.

So far, it seems most people have asked for votes on which of their posts to include. Screw that. I know which of mine are my favorites, which took the most time and effort, which I believe were most successful in communicating what I intended, or which I just plain enjoyed writing. I chose my own; one philosphical, one personal, and one humorous. I tag the following five people who have not already, to my knowledge, been tagged and who will most likely not care/participate: Bebti, Kom, Shari, Wordnerd, and the blogger formerly known as Nilo.

Here's the pyramid:

I do this for fun. Yes, ego is a very large part of why I put the pen to the electronic page (did any one EVER write anything without the hope that someone else would read it?), but the gossip rag Q quotient Hollywoodesque rules of of insular popularity contests ceased to impress me by about age 20.

Did that sound caustic? Yes? Good.

So read the stuff linked here. Especially mine, because it's really great. You might even say legendary. With luck, Fishing In A Dry Wash will become more popular than ever, with at least 26 daily hits and 14 comments from 3 countries. That would make me happy.

Did that sound contradictory? Yes? Good.

*Tiff: Thank you. I really do appreciate it, and value your opinion very much. I also know that you understand the nice guy that hides behind the curmudgeon persona. Just don't tell anybody.


Sunday, September 30

Stars Of Fear, Skies Of Hope

“Mama?” The only reply was the rhythmic metallic squeaking of an electric fan. Sarah set her schoolbooks on the dinette table, knocked over a vase of plastic flowers. “Mama?” she repeated, not without a little fear.

The tiny kitchen was as she had left it this morning: breakfast bowl and juice glass in the sink, cherry print tea towel draped over the faucet to dry. She made her way to the back of their home, through the cramped living room where she slept, down the narrow hallway past the bathroom with immaculate linoleum tile. She paused in the doorway to the bedroom, praying for sound. It was only after she heard a papery sough of breath that she realized she was holding her own.

“Mama? Are you awake?” The woman on the bed didn’t respond. Her chest rose and fell like an irregular tide, an ebbing and flowing of life. Sarah crept to the side of the bed, felt a damp cheek. Her mother stirred and opened her eyes. For a moment there was nothing, then: “Sarah, child.” A weak smile.

“How are you? Do you need anything?”

“Just make me some nettle tea. Then I will be fine.” The eyes closed.

“It doesn’t help, Mama. But don’t worry. If we can’t pay the doctor my friends will help.” There was no response. “Mama?” Silence except for a stuttering breath.

The mixing bowl next to the bed was dirty again. Sarah dumped the blood and sputum in the toilet, rinsed the bowl in the tub, and placed it back on the nightstand. She shut the windows halfway against the coming night’s chill. In the doorway she watched the chintz curtain’s lively flutter, watched the thin quilt’s quaking rise and fall.

She prepared for the evening. She made herself dinner of macaroni and cheese, washed the dishes, setting them to dry in the wooden rack. She did her homework at the dinette table, putting the flower vase in it proper place when she had finished. Toward sunset she laid out her clothes for school, scooped up a blanket from the sofa, and went outside, careful not to slam the screen door.

She unfolded a lawn chair and hugged the blanket close The wait would be long. The sycamore leaves were trimmed in yellow, swaying in the cool breath of approaching autumn. To the north, stars presented themselves in purple velvet twilight. Sarah stared at them, only a little afraid now. They always came from the north. In her mind she pictured her friends floating down from the sky, bringing miracles and hope with them. They would come. They had to.

Saturday, September 29

The Weave Of Esteem

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.


The Weave of Esteem


Meeting the boss every Tuesday was like lying on a blanket infested with fleas. Richard sat in an uncomfortable trendy chair. Across the desk Drew scrabbled on a tablet with a gold pen. The computer screen beside him glowed, awaiting use. It would glow and wait all day, because the boss had a secretary. Richard waited, patience wrestling with the desire to be elsewhere. After a few minutes, the boss folded his hands on the exotic wood, showing the sleeves of his tailored and pressed shirt. Silver cufflinks winked in a shaft of sunlight.

“I don’t have anything this week. Whatcha got?”

“I called the Temecula office. No one in town will extend credit to Wagner Promotions.”

“Yeah, I heard about that. The manager there was pretty pissed at you. He said the client was insulted by your phone message.” Richard stared, determined not to show any trace of insecurity.

“I decided based solely on the facts. I already said no to the account executive and the sales rep. Wagner still wouldn’t accept it, so I explained my reasons.”

“A sales guy like me and the rep would have handled it different. But that’s how you accounting guys are, and you do it well. I support your decision. I’ll handle damage control. What else?” Humility burned Richard’s skin. Drew’s monogrammed collar burned his sight.

“I thought about your advice over the weekend. I don’t like the way Bill treated me, but I don’t want to damage our relationship. I’ll let it go.”

“You might have screwed up on that one. You could have called him on it. But I support your decision. Anything else?”

“No.” The meeting was over.

“Wait.” Drew tossed a pale blue rectangle. Richard caught it, recognized a finely woven dress shirt, company logo embroidered over the breast pocket.

“That should look better with your tie.” Richard thanked his boss and withdrew.

The evening commute was punctuated by an accident, a construction zone, and aggravation. The feeling didn’t diminish when he arrived at the rental he called home since he moved into town. He undressed, news mumbling on the television and dinner sissing in the microwave.

He stared in the mirror. It was a nice tie, colorful yet understated. The haircut was decent, if inexpensive. The shirt had a coarse weave, but it kept him warm under the air conditioning vent in his office. A bare light bulb glared, highlighted his efforts as cheap imitations. He unbundled Drew’s gift and put it on.

The tie did look better. Everything about him looked better. He removed the shirt, trying to reconcile worth with shame. The top button popped, bounced off the mirror, and hit him in the eye. Anger filled his arms, ripping the shirt from his chest. In seconds the offense lay in shreds at his feet.

Questions would come, but Richard would never explain. His shirts might come from JC Penney, but he was still the best damned accountant Drew would ever see.

Friday, September 28

Kingfisher The Schmuck


There's no two ways about it. Firing someone sucks. Even if they deserve it. Whether or not they grasp the fact that performance, or lack of, is their fault, you will always be "the schmuck who fired me." But beyond that, for a moment, you have control over a part of someone's life, and you are responsible for pulling the rug from under them. I always feel rotten for hours after doing it.

Time for a beer. And a Cazadores. And a Jamesons. And a Goldschlager. And a wuttuvyagot, bartender.

I'll forget for a while, but I will still feel rotten tomorrow for something that isn't my fault.

Saturday, September 22

Kingfisher The Awesome

My brother and I talked last night over beer, Jameson's, and trivia games about the states of our respective lives. We came to the conclusion, as evidenced by recent posts, that we are in the middle of a high douchebag tide. The moon's pull seems to have collected all manner of boors and idiots, various and sundry irritants, and piled them against us like so much driftwood. So it's no wonder I have been in a FOUL mood lately.

Then comes this post on Berate My Blog, which proves how totally freaking awesome I am. It makes me want to slap myself, say "get over it!" and take up the e-pen more often.

Sometimes the universe does love you (even if you do have neuroses.)

I feel so much better.

Big Thanks to Unica and Fiona, two ladies of exceptional taste, brilliant insight, and refined beauty.

Friday, September 21

The Score of Revenge

Kingfisher 3
Backstabbers 0

3 down, 3 to go
Will definitely lose one

Final record: Kingfisher 5-1, 83%

Bet on me at the Sportsbook

Tuesday, September 18

Douchance

Sounds enticing, doesn't it? Like bon jour or bonne chance or Champs Elysees. Sorry. Nothing that exotic. It's Kingfisher shorthand for the chance you are a douche. To wit, the following douche/chance ratios:

Your name is Toby - 2%
Your name is Keith - 2%
Your name is Toby Keith - 98%

Wrestling fan - 67%
NASCAR fan - 87%
Raiders fan - 97%

Favorite movie is anime - 24%
Favorite movie directed by Quentin Tarantino - 64%
Favorite movie stars Chris Tucker - 84%

Jewish - 49%
Christian - 50%
Muslim - 51%

You live on the West Bank - 10%
You distrust banks - 12%
You are Tyra Banks - 92%

Hetero - 80%
Gay - 80%
Celebate - 81%

Chocoholic - 5%
Alcoholic - 79%
Workaholic - 94%

Dog lover - 11%
Cat lover - 21%
Goat lover - 95%

Bilingual - 5%
Bisexual - 69%
Bipolar - 0% or 100%

Goth - 99.7%
Emo - 99.8%
Performance artist - 99.9%

You have a blog - 64%
You post daily on your blog because you think people really care - 65%
You rate people with douchance on your blog - 101%

Friday, August 31

DO NOT Fuck With The Nice Guy

"They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers"


You have no idea what what personal Pandora's box you have opened.
Your life is about to resemble a piece of hell.
I will stare you right in the face as I unleash misery upon you.
God help me refrain from using my most lethal weapons.
But most of all, God help you, you unworthy coward.

Sunday, August 26

The Meaning Of Life

- or -
The Myth of Individual Importance


The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can change forms.

You are not important. This is the harshest reality, the most difficult to accept, and the reason God was invented.

Existence is all that matters. No philosophy of good versus evil , no definition of being can change that. We are important because we believe ourselves to be. To believe otherwise is antithetical to the progression of our generation, the acceptance that something other is worthy to replace us. We must believe the ineffectual scrabbling of our lives has some value, otherwise there is nothing to promise our progeny, nothing to to help us carve out our territory against the unending armies of other life forms, known or unforeseen, that seek to overwhelm us with their own insatiable claim of supremacy.

To paraphrase Carl Sagan, there are those who ask where the universe came from. There are those who reply the universe came from God. Where did God come from? God always was. Why not save a step and say the Universe always was? I interpret this to mean: Why must existence hinge on something we can identify? Why must we understand everything? Can we not use our intelligence to say some things are beyond the grasp of that intelligence? Is it not hubris and conceit and defeat to demand otherwise?

Is it so horribly inconceivable to be unimportant? Is it not beautiful and natural to be a link in the Universe's undefined, unyielding, and unfathomable chain? Can we not accept that all things, from individuals to species to stars, die? Can we not accept that those deaths are transformations separate from our miniscule beliefs and attempts to assign meaning?

I return to the physical "law" described at the start. Just as with the death of a tree in the forest, our world and our sun will fall to nourish that which comes after. In this way we are immortal. We have no say in what we may bring about. We are unimportant, but that does not detract from the grandeur of continuance, of our place in it. This is the acknowledgment of things greater than ourselves. It is our evolution. It is our salvation.

After his death Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, was asked: "Didn't (he) want to believe?" She responded, "He didn't want to believe. He wanted to know." *

What benevolent deity would deny us knowledge? It is like a dessert promised after a meal we can't eat. Why would s/he impart that knowledge only after we are dead? Wouldn't that knowledge be best put to use while we are alive? If the answer is "Yes," than God, whatever you perceive it to be, is be a cruel and sadistic taskmaster. If we cannot believe the latter, then the former must also be disbelieved. This is the atheist's denial of the existence of God. It is not disbelief, it is acknowledgement of the fundamental workings of the universe independent of belief.

What comes after? What will happen tomorrow? How long will we be remembered? It does not matter. We cannot control the answers to these questions, so the weaker of us devise scenarios that please them, that placate the deep but distasteful knowledge that we will be forgotten.

The meaning of life is simply this: There is no meaning. We are infinitely unimportant. Everything just is.

Everything, of which we are part, exists and continues.


* Some will question my references to Carl Sagan. What makes my respect for his thoughts different from Biblical quotes? Each of us finds truth expressed in another great thinker's words. One invites acceptance, rejection, or revision. The other demands adherence or refutation of any other claim as false or suspect. Which is more reasonable?

Friday, August 24

9.0807b *

9 Places With An Attitude
That No One Gives A Crap About
If They Are Not From There
And That's Why They Have An Attitude
To Try And Prove Otherwise
So The Rest Of Us Continue To Despise Them
And That's Why They Have An Attitude

9. Sicily

8. Pick a NYC burrough

7. Hong Kong

6. Israel

5. New Jersey

4. Florida

3. Quebec

2. France

1. Texas



The Flip Side 9:
No One Not From There Has Anything Bad To Say About You

9. Costa Rica

8. Hawaii

7. Kenya

6. Bermuda

5. Alaska

4. Sweden

3. Australia

2. Iceland

1. Antarctica


* Has anyone else noticed how many place-names start and/or end with "a?"

Sunday, August 19

9.0807a

9 Unpopular Sports Truths

Part I…Dumbass Pseudo-Sport Crap Competitions
- 9. Synchronized swimming
- 8. Motocross
- 7. Figure skating
- 6. NASCAR
- 5. Kickboxing
- 4. Arm wrestling
- 3. Skateboarding
- 2. Cheerleading
- 1. Xtreme anything

Part II…Mildly Entertaining But Really zzzzz Or meh
- 9. Curling
- 8. Billiards
- 7. Televised fishing
- 6. Strong Man competitions
- 5. Golf
- 4. Basketball
- 3. Hockey
- 2. Bowling
- 1. Arena football

Part III…Sports Deserving More Recognition
- 9. Lumberjack competitions
- 8. Horse racing
- 7. Australian Rules Football
- 6. Track and field
- 5. Iditarod
- 4. Archery
- 3. Diving
- 2. Women’s fast-pitch softball
- 1. Sumo

Tuesday, August 14

The Pull Forward

On the first night without her the moon was hidden. It slipped into the darkness that covers us all. It showed itself later, swollen and dull, ignoring the laments of the world below. Last night it was a hungry crescent, a weak promise of return. The changing moods of the moon remind me of what I do not want to believe. Ruthie is dead.

My sadness refuses to fade despite the daily care and kindness of visitors. My friend Samuel, anticipating simple things I didn’t know myself, bought me new shoes. He took me for walks over fields, beside the stream, under the comforting canopy of the apple orchard, saying nothing, requiring nothing in return. Other friends brought me chocolates, trying to lure my thoughts away from myself and the grief that threatened to swallow me. I accepted their gifts without grace, gratitude overwhelmed by a sense of loss.

This morning, as Ruthie used to do, I stand by the fence to watch the day unfold. Beyond are the scents of new mown hay, the flicker of bluebird wings, and the clanking cow bells of my farm. Samuel pokes me in the ribs. It startles me with its rudeness. I want to kick him, but he is insistent. Wallowing is over, he seems to say. Work awaits.


We hitch up the wagon and begin our familiar route. At the green house we deliver two quarts of milk. We deliver a half-pound of butter at the blue house. The brown house wants nothing. The grey house is the liveliest one on the street, its sagging porch filled with the laughter of boys. It needs four gallons of milk, two dozen eggs, a pint of cream, a pound of butter, and a gallon of ice cream.

“Hi, George!” Alex hollers out to me. He throws a ball to Samuel, with the obvious expectation of it not being returned. I have never seen Alex without a ball in his hand. He is always in motion, always shouting or laughing. My world has changed, but his has not. I nod my head in his direction.

Alex runs to me and pats my shoulder, then runs across the street, falling into a tumble of other boys on the lawn. Tonight they will sleep the exhaustion of innocence spent under a summer sun. Tonight the deliveries of Samuel and I will fuel the escapades of their tomorrow. Tonight the moon, reveling in the sweetness of caprice and new mown hay, will shine bright with promise. Ruthie is gone, but my work is here. It will fill the empty spaces between questions until answers can be found.

I set my hooves to the street and pull the wagon forward.

Sunday, August 5

9.0807

9 Favorite Advertising Friends

9. Michelin Man

8. Mrs. Butterworth

7. Elmer the Bull

6. Jolly Green Giant

5. Bazooka Joe

4. Kool Aid Man

3. Bob's Big Boy

2. Mr. Peanut

1. Tony the Tiger

Sunday, July 29

Shutting Down

-blink-

A grid flashes across his vision.

-blink-

The afterimage lingers like the ghost of an executioner. It fades from sight, replaced by the teasing blue sun sparkles of Hanauma Bay.

“Honey? Are you okay?” He shakes his head, aware now that the blip in his sensory perception had affected his hearing as well. He turns to her and pats her hand.

“Yes. Just a little pause in the implant. Nothing to worry about.” He smiles. She smiles back, shining brighter than the Hawaiian sea. She reaches across the arm of his beach chair and kisses him.

“Go slow. The doctor said not to push yourself.” She smells of salt, coconut oil, perspiration, and the singular scent of a woman who has agreed to be his for a quarter of a century. She pushes his hair back with a small hand. The butterfly sweetness of the touch arouses a primal feeling of possession, wonder, and contentment.

“Really. It is nothing. Shall we go snorkeling?” he says. Before he can stand, she grabs his mask with an impish grin and runs to the gentle surf. Puffs of sand play tag in her wake in apparent delight of her beauty. With a chuckling sigh, he picks up her mask and follows.

Despite the tropical warmth, the water stings. It infuses him with its vigor, charging his very bones with life and desire. Donning the snorkeling gear, he plunges headlong into the life and death world of the reef. It doesn’t take long before he is surrounded by swirling, glinting clouds of fish, grey and purple and yellow and blue. Next to him she floats like a mermaid. He reaches for her hand, feels the laugh of the young girl he knew vibrating in her fingertips.

-blink-

The fish dissolve into a mass of nonsensical shapes.

-blink-

She becomes a blur of conflicting colors.

-blink-

The grid appears again. In its unnatural regularity he sees a mocking smile, hears an empty laugh, feels an icy uncaring of all ending.

It is as the physicians had warned. Despite all the knowledge, all the skill, and all the miracles, chance would play its final card. The languishing disease would win, slowly at first, but with inexorable stealth. The technological marvel of the implant that promised to keep his brain connected to the rest of him would fail. In bytes and pieces he would lapse into a mind trapped in an unresponsive shell.

-blink-

He treads water. She holds his hands, pulls him close, and throws her face to the sky, giggling and precious.

He blinks, capturing a picture he will hold, and hold, and hold tighter, and never let go.

Saturday, July 28

Score Bored

Challenge courtesy of Wordsmiths Unlimited.

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

Score Bored

“God damn it!” Eddie had cursed both the offending scoreboard and me in the same breath. “This is the second time! San Antonio is in town again. I’ll never live it down. Fix the fucking thing or find a new job!”

I stand at the pitcher’s mound. Looming over center field is a $100,000 hunk of technology that refuses to work. No numbers, no letters, no nothing, just a matrix of squares flashing multicolored jibberish. Every random twinkle is a dart in my confidence, a refutation of my assurances that Boulder Field is now part of the twenty-first century. Eddie, the owner of our minor league Mountaineers, is furious. I can’t blame him.

Beside me Gus the groundskeeper spits. His expectoration describes a glistening arc under the late spring sun, ending with a muffled splat on the grass near first base. “It was better when we turned the score tiles by hand,” he says.

“Maybe,” I say. “But Eddie will have my head if I don’t fix this before the Generals game.” Gus spits again.

“Screw the Generals. Nuthin’ good ever came outta San Antonio. Eddie can suck my balls.” Gus folds his thin creaking frame behind the wheel of his handyman’s golf cart. The wheels leave barely perceptible tracks in the diamond’s clay. Tools clatter in the handmade wooden totes.

I have checked every wire and every bulb. I have discussed problems of timing, compatibility, and reliability with our vendors. I have made lists of connections and fuses and transformers. I run them all through my mind. I must have missed something, but standing in the middle of Boulder Field brings no answers.

I hike the stairs to my office. The bunker-like quality of concrete and overhead conduits always makes me smile. The fans know the grand green view and hot dog smells of the stands. They would never guess the bland and boring everydayness of operations. It is part of my job to perpetuate that illusion.

In my office I check the scoreboard software for the hundredth time and find nothing again. After two hours of pondering, my stomach reminds me it is time to eat. I munch a bland sandwich in the employee lounge. It is located high above third plate, affording a view of the entire stadium. I watch the sprinklers make their familiar chk-chk-chk sound as they water the outfield. The answer hits me like a bump to the funny bone, both painful and obvious, and I laugh out loud.

I will talk to Gus, the old cuss, and tell him I know about his irrigation patterns. I will talk to Eddie, the owner, and describe the solution. Gus will keep his job, Eddie will keep his pride, and I will keep my reputation. We will all win.

Go Mountaineers!

Thursday, July 12

Bzzzzzzzzzt

I heard the familiar alien sound yesterday for the first time this year.

There are hundreds of species of cicada. I don't know one from another. I do know they are big noisy bugs, scary to some, beautiful to others, loud in their proclamations of six-legged love. I am fascinated by them, not only because they are delicate and strong, but because they are an annual miracle. They are a reminder of the world's incomparable wonder and delight, if one uses the gift to see glory in small things.

I have often wondered why life is so prevalent, so tenacious, on this little ball of mud we call home. I believe the question answers itself; life is prevalent because it is tenacious. However life came about, a conundrum I will not debate here, it is everywhere because those aggressive in their perpetuation have dominated those lackadaisical in their amorous pursuits. In other words, it is not dog eat dog. It is breed or disappear.

Nature doesn't care about the individual, only its ability to contribute to its species. Many species risk predatory attention and death in their reproductive displays, all to prove skill and persistence in the continuation of their kind. The bird's feathers, the frog's voice, the deer's antlers, the signal scents, the obvious calls, the gaudy floral excesses all blare two messages: 1) I can do this and still survive so I am worthy of your time and energy, and 2) Time for sex!

Some cicadas, as I understand it, spend seventeen years underground until they become adults. That's a long time. What do they do? Sit and turn and pupate and whatever cicada kids do. Meanwhile we humans, for our first seventeen years, create aggravation and confusion and waste.

On this day in July, when cloud barges navigate the currents of an impossibly blue sky, when desert rains announce their maybe arrival with ancient aromatic resin smells, when the temperature hovers between one-hundred-and-hot and unbearable, on this one day perfect for creatures more adapted than we, the male cicada emerges from his dirt nest, climbs the gnarled arthtritic branches of a mesquite tree dangling its succulent seed pods, and screams his lust.

Go horny little cicada! Bzzzzzzzzzt for the mate you so desperately need, giving the insectoid middle finger to your enemies, and proclaim your desire and ability to procreate, fulfilling the millions-year premise and promise of your forebears. Remind us of these most important lessons, these realities, these truths, that we may share them with our children and our fellows, thereby increasing the chances for our kind.


Wednesday, June 27

N Word Redux

I wanted to comment on a dear friend's blog about his/her use of the word "tard." I realized it wasn't my place to clutter his/her space with my inflammatory opinion, so I'll do it here. If you haven't read my pissed offedness at PC censoring, go here.

To the offended commentor: Who are you to cast aspersions on someone else's words? By your own admission "mentally retarded" is okay, but "tard" is not. Fuck you. You are playing with semantics in an effort to erase something that is offensive to YOU. Thicken your skin a little, for whining out loud, and stop the hypocrisy.

I take Prozac. I freely admit it, although the admission elicits negative presumptions in many quarters. Unlike retards, cripples, PMSers, or fags, my perceived affliction/impairment/abnormality is fair game. You can call me nuts, fruitcake, whackjob, whatever you want. Why? Because I know the truth. I spread that truth by living my life and ignoring John Q. Retard, and by not jamming my my sensibilities down somone's throat.

I don't know the relationship between the parties in question. To me it doesn't matter. I saw past the perceived insult to the story and joke within the experience retold. Anyone who reads my friend's blog with any regularity knows his/her innate goodness and gentleness. He/She can use whatever words he/she wants to make a point. If it offends me, I don't deserve to read it.

You, my blog friend, showed the caring sweetness that is your soul by apologizing, but it was wholly unnecessary.

You, the offended commentor, are a miltant do-gooder pussy. Just to be fair, I visited your blog. I found it trite, syrupy, and mildly offensive to some of MY sensibilities. But it's YOUR space and YOUR words. I would not dare leave my comment advocating my opinions to the contrary, because whatever you espouse is important to you.

Give the rest of us the same courtesy.

I gotcher insult right here.

Monday, June 25

Trust Kingfisher

Never trust:
- a man with a handlebar mustache
- a confused card dealer
- a person who never wears anything other than black
- a young person ordering Jager Bombs
- a barfly with implants
- a male over 12 wearing his baseball cap backwards
- a financially successful pastor
- a cocky cop
- a handsome college professsor
- the person everyone else says is really smart
- a woman who won't tell you her age
- a businessman with a giant cowboy hat
- that jerk with a high clearance 4WD truck, doors 3 feet off the ground, but no mud stains
- a chick with a pierced eyebrow
- anyone with more than 4 tattooes
- that S.O.B. you just don't trust for no specific reason, especially if he has a big truck, 5 tattooes, a backwards baseball cap, a handlebar mustache, and drinks Jager Bombs

Sometimes trust:
- your gut
- your mother
- your dog
- a child's answer
- Grandpa's advice
- your barber
- the bartender
- your enemy
- probability
- a stripper

Always trust:
-
-
-

Saturday, June 23

9 Reincarnated

It used to be called The Nine. Yahoo and others stole my idea, but they got law talkin' guys, I don't.

I like the number 9. Why?

- 10 is so 1990's Letterman.
- 3 is a lucky number. 3 x 3 = 9. Triple lucky.
- 9 is the first odd non-prime.
- I grew up in a family of 6. 6 upside down is 9.
- 9 / 3 = 3. I am first born. 3 + 1 = 4. 4 petals on the California poppy. The California poppy is orange. Orange is my favorite color.
- Three nines downside up is 666, the sign of my Master.
- There are 5 people in my household. I am the oldest of 4 brothers. 5 + 4 = 9.
- Okay, it's all bullshit. I like 9. No reason. Bite me.

Therefore, I present the reincarnation of my favorite number.



9 Bad Things About Me

9. I am not sure that protecting the mentally, physically, or socially impaired is in the best interest of our species.

8. I wish there was a monthly mandatory All Women Go Topless day.

7. Driver's license. Business license. Medical license. Where is the Parenting license?

6. I judge people by a combination of their courtesy, affability, ethnicity, and command of the English language.

5. I'd rather talk my way out of a fight. But push me too far, and I am capable of teaching you the meaning of "seeing red." I have no reservations about wounding, maiming, or killing, including myself, when my rage is unduly provoked.

4. I say I don't care, but I really do.

3. I have had the hots for female cartoon characters. See: Jessica Rabbit and the e-surance chick.

2. I can hold a grudge for a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

1. If a weapon existed that would erase humans, and any trace of their existence, without harming anything else, I would use it. Without thought. Without hesitation.


Obligatory tags: my Favorite Fishing Holes at the left.
You may not change the subject, for 9 is sacred. Or profane. I'm not sure which.

Tuesday, June 19

The Answers None Of Us Have

I went to a funeral today.

My new (seven months) job has placed me smack in the middle of a business family, some with very tight relationships going back 15 years or so. My skills, personality, and outsider status have, so far, proven to be a catalyst for change this company needs. I am respected, I think, despite my "new" ideas, unintended faux pas, and have become an accepted member of this culture. When a long-time employee and respected sales person's spouse died a rather untimely, but not unexpected, death from cancer, the passionate and compassionate circle that is my workplace surrounded the widow. I have not made friends with, nor do I care for, the surviving employee in question. I do not know, have never met, her late husband.

I am, according to our social chieftan and progressive boss, a member of an elite managerial team, the missing leg of a table that has been heretofore unstable. Therefore, despite my begrudged respect in some quarters, I was expected to attend one of the most important and sacred events of someone's life, and by extension, his family, in-laws, and others with whom I am not worthy to participate. To not attend the service would be political suicide.

It was an ignoble endeavor on my part, in what should be a man's most noble day.

I am ashamed.

I drove, alone, to the service. I stood in the long line of friends, family, coworkers, and other well wishers. All of them knew the deceased, or the persons "he is survived by." The congregation was composed of so many, from so many parts of the world he so obviously loved. His grieving widow. His proud younger brother. His in-laws. Step relatives. Black friends. Hispanic friends. Jewish friends. Gay and lesbian friends. Workaday folks dressed in dirty construction uniforms, taking a rare unpaid half day to show their respects. A young man in an ill-fitting suit. A pregnant woman days away from delivery. Like Joseph's coat, the congregation was a beautiful mishmash of everything under God's benevolent gaze.

Except for me. I listened to the simple hymns, simple so that everyone could participate, but I did not know the melodies. I longed to recite the simple prayers, simple so that everyone could participate, but I did not know the words. I stumbled through the congregation's responses to the priest, murmured The Lord's Prayer, the only one I knew by heart. But I did not belong, did not know the Communion of Faith.

Throughout the Catholic funeral mass and Eucharist I did not fully understand, I was the outsider. As an atheist, I could not comprehend the community, the surety, the comfort of faith. I wondered why they believed. I wondered why it was important. I wondered why we fight over it. I marvelled; I cried. I saw comfort in the sharing of belief, of solace in knowing a truth I don't understand. I am ignorant, jealous, unworthy. I am a sinner, if there is such a thing.

I have no answers. I ask for none, for none will suffice. I know only that I am somehow adrift, pondering eternal problems for which my belief, or lack thereof, has no solution. My belief, my understanding, my spririt, are unshaken, yet I find no solace. And I ask and ask and ask and ask, forgetting that is not about me, but about a man I don't know, who has left this world sure in his belief.

I went to a funeral today, and I am ashamed.

Sunday, June 17

Pruning

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the family and I did some late spring cleaning. My wife and daughter worked on cleaning the garage. My younger son and his friend worked on raking up unwanted gravel, weeds, and lumber from the side yard. I worked on pruning two overgrown trees in the front yard. During our respective assignments we sometimes met at the huge dumpster we rented for the occasion, grousing about our chores, or helping one another, or joining together for a ten minute break of cool water and air conditioning.

At the end of the day we were sore, overheated, tired, slightly scratched and bruised. We spent the evening with hot showers, grilled burgers, video games, television, and lounging with iced soft drinks. My daughter, my son, and his friend were well compensated for their efforts, but the true reward was hard work, discipline, and the sharing of jobs well done with family in our home under our big desert sky. It was the wrong time of year for pruning, but mesquites are hardy and defiant trees. In the weeks since, the open crowns reach upward with renewed vigor, the gardens below bounce toward new sunshine.

No matter the time of year, it is always good to cut away unproductive growth. It makes us hardy and defiant, especially if those who share our lives also share in discarding dead wood.

Wednesday, June 13

The Return

Wordsmiths Unlimited is back. Please visit and contribute. You never know what wonderful thing might jump out of your head until you try. Our first assignment isn't due until June 30, but I just had to get this one out of the way so I can concentrate on my next piece(s).

I found this one quite difficult. I don't like the result, although I would like to explore the theme further at some point. (I tried and rejected half a dozen titles. When I was finished I realized that "The Return" could also apply to Wordsmiths. Weird.) After too much tinkering it's best to put it down. Time either brings new ideas, or allows you to put it down in the veterinary sense.


This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.


The Return


“Look, Mom! They’re hatching!” Manuel tugged at her grip.

“Hush, Manny. Stay close. Don’t interfere.”

“Why?”

“Remember what Abuelo says. We can’t help.”

Teresa looked down at the eager little boy clutching her hand, so much like Abuelo, her father. Both of them had the same childlike joy of wild places and wild creatures. She was between the two of them, taught by the elder, teaching the younger.

In her own youth, she had begged Papa to take her on his scheduled excursions to monitor the sea turtles. On successive nights they would sit in silence under a gravid yellow moon as female turtles emerged from the surf. They watched the clumsy mothers heave their tired bodies beyond the tide line. Limbs used for swimming were employed in moving sand against unfamiliar gravity. With grunts and eyes dull from arduous labor the females deposited eggs in shallow pits and gently covered them, their maternal duty done. Papa told her that in the ocean they were friendly and graceful. She tried to imagine them under water, free and happy, as she watched them lumber back to the sea.

“Look, Teresa.” Papa whispered. “Look carefully. This is where the beach of the turtles meets the land of our people. We are their brothers and sisters.” Papa said many others had worked hard to make Playa de las Tortugas a refuge, a place where hotels and nightclubs were forbidden. Because of him, she and everyone who visited could witness the return of the sea turtles answering their ancestral call.

In the days following she felt she would burst from waiting. She pestered Papa with questions of how and when. She would ask “Today?” and he would reply “Perhaps.” Weeks after the nesting, on a summer day of wide skies and glistening sands, she and Papa ambled beneath the tropical sun. Waves had long since erased the zig-zag trails of the nesting mothers. Teresa squeezed Papa’s hand, full of wonder and anticipation.

“Are they going to hatch?” she asked Papa.

Si. Stay still. Let them be.”

Teresa obeyed. By dozens, then hundreds, turtle hatchlings tottered toward the ocean. She watched one wriggle from the sand and pause blinking against the new sun. After a brief rest it wobbled with alternating sweeps of its flippers toward the surf. Before it could reach home, a gull snatched it from the sand and swallowed it whole. The bird’s meal was quick and without mercy.

“Papa!”

“No, pequeña. It is the way of things.” Horrified, Teresa cried and hated her father.

Now, looking out on the brilliant deep blue, she thought of Papa’s gentle hand. She held Manny’s tiny fingers. A piece of her son was about to be lost to her, a piece of her lost to him. Abuelo would take possession of both.

“Go, little turtles!” Manuel squealed. She hoped he would not hate her for too long. She hoped he would return, like the turtles, to Playa de las Tortugas.


Saturday, June 9

Put Up Or Shut Up

Stick to your guns, even if you are wrong. Apologize if necessary, learn from your mistake, and make amends, but never say you are sorry for being what you are. Be maligned, ridiculed, questioned, but live with passion and you will never be ignored. Say it. Mean it. Fuck it. Hate yourself later.

I have seen a steady decline in my written ouput, with a corresponding decrease in visitors and my creative self esteem. I didn't know what it was. Possibly it was due to a number of factors. But I do know that without passion all is naught.

Then, thanks to my friend
Tiff, I realized that a workout regimen doesn't work out without a partner. You won't commit to it unless you feel you are letting someone down, or you need to do better than them, or they are kicking your lazy ass off the couch.

Hence, the relaunch of
Wordsmiths Unlimited. Go there. Now.

It is scary to expose your spirit, or air your thoughts, or expose something you think. Contentment is sometimes stagnant. Opinion is sometimes blind. To DARE is, I will argue, the only state worth living. Life is not a trivial exercise. Played right, the minutiae of it can be a lesson and an affirmation. It will be good for me. It could be good for you.

Forward and onward, armed with intellect, fear, and a cautious disregard for the unknown.

Join me. Go there. Now.

Refuse to shut up.