Happy Birthday

A policeman was patrolling near midnight at a
local parking spot, overlooking a golf course.
He drove by a car and saw a couple inside with
the dome light on.

Inside there was a young man in the driver’s seat
reading a computer magazine and a young lady in
the back seat calmly knitting.

He stopped to investigate. He walked up to the
driver’s window and knocked. The young man looked
up, obligingly cranked the window down, and said,

‘Yes, Officer?’

‘What are you doing?’ the policeman asked.
‘What does it look like?’ answered the young man.
‘I’m reading this magazine.’

Pointing towards the young lady in the back seat,
the officer then asked, ‘And what is she doing?’

The young man looked over his shoulder and replied,

‘I think she’s knitting a sweater.’

Confused, the officer asked, ‘How old are you,
young man?’

‘I’m nineteen,’ he replied.

‘And how old is she?’ asked the officer.

The young man looked at his watch and said,
‘Well, in about twelve minutes she’ll be
eighteen.’

***

A Scotsman and an Englishman lived next door to
each other. The Scotsman owned a hen and each
morning would look in his garden and pick up one
of his hen’s eggs for breakfast. One day he
looked into his garden and saw that the hen had
laid an egg in the Englishman’s garden.

He was about to go next door when he saw the
Englishman pick up the egg. The Scotsman ran up
to the Englishman and told him that the egg
belonged to him because he owned the hen. The
Englishman disagreed because the egg was laid
on his property.

They argued for a while until finally the
Scotsman said, ‘In my family we normally solve
disputes by the following actions: I kick you in
the groin and time how long it takes you to get
back up, then you kick me in the groin and time
how long it takes for me to get up. Whoever gets
up quicker wins the egg.’

The Englishman agreed to this and so the Scotsman
found his heaviest pair of boots and put them on,
he took a few steps back, then ran toward the
Englishman and kicked as hard as he could in the
balls.

The Englishman fell to the floor clutching his
nuts, howling in agony for 30 minutes. Eventually
the Englishman stood up and said, ‘Now it’s my
turn to kick you.’

The Scotsman said, ‘Keep the damned egg.’

***

A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor’s
office for his checkup.

Afterwards, the doctor took his wife aside and
said, “Unless you do the following things, your
husband will surely die.” The doctor then went
on to say, “Here’s what you need to do. Every
morning make sure you serve him a good healthy
breakfast. Meet him at home each day for lunch
so that you can serve him a well balanced meal.

Make sure that you feed him a good hot meal each
evening and don’t overburden him with any
stressful conversation, nor ask him to perform
any household chores. Also, keep the house
spotless and clean so that he doesn’t get exposed
to any threatening germs.”

On the way home, the husband asked his wife what
the doctor said. She replied, “He said that
you’re going to die.”

Flash Fiction #39

Old Shep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Had A Little – Fright

They asked, “Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
‘Tis that Mary loves the lamb, you know.

Mary didn’t have a lamb.  She had an old dog named Shep.  She could not bring herself to tie Shep up, but he followed her everywhere.

“I won’t fall down a well, Lassie.  I won’t crash through the floor of an old barn.  I’m just going to walk to school beside the tracks, like I do safely, every day.”

Until the day old Shep rushed at her, barking furiously, just in time for her to see the unscheduled freight, with the extra-wide load.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday picture as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

 

Newfound Friendliness

newfoundland-map

 

 

<-  Ted’s house!

 

 

 

Monday Feb 16, 2015 was a statutory holiday in Ontario, called Family Day.  It’s relatively new, but long overdue.  Finally, something to get us from Christmas/New Years, through to Easter.  On Tuesday the 17th I went to my favorite nearby supermarket to pick up a copy of the Toronto Sun.

Dear Lord, have people forgotten how to shop ahead??  The store was only closed for one day.  I almost had to bring my own parking space.  Quite often I make 25¢ or 50¢ by neatening up the parking lot, putting away carts with quarters in them.  Not that day!  No carts in either of the cart corrals, but people lurking near them.  No carts in the entryway either, so I grabbed a basket.

Most of the shoppers were white-, or blue-haired.  Do they not remember back in the ‘80s, before we had Sunday opening?  Was toilet paper being rationed, or was there a sale on Polident and Depends?

This place was stuffed – just crammed with shoppers.  Folks were bumping into each other and edging carts past.  It was so full, that people going up the aisles could inhale, while those going down the aisles exhaled.

Besides the paper, I also wanted a small bag of fine sugar, and two dozen eggs.  With the help of a little fairy-dust, and my fancy dancing slippers, I circumnavigated the store in less than three minutes, and only got groped once.  Then I got around to the checkouts….backed up like an old guy eating cheese.  The waits were so long, I hope no-one ‘checked out’ before they checked out.

I headed for the express lane.  It was so busy that they had two of them open.  I entered the first line, and was ninth or tenth.  The curve of the lines put me beside a lady about my age, third from the front, in line number two.  Looking in my basket, she saw only the eggs, and insisted that I get in line in front of her.  I mentioned the paper and the sugar.  “Go ahead, go ahead!”  I don’t know what the nine or ten people behind her thought, but I snuggled in quickly, before anyone objected.

Her thoughtful niceness, along with her strong accent, suggested that she was from Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost, island province, and just full of kind, helpful people.  When I asked, she confirmed my suspicion.  Then I got nosy and asked specifically where she was from.  “Stephenville.”  Newfoundlanders are generally open, friendly people.  They don’t mind when you ask questions and engage them in casual conversation.

I said, “Oh, I’ve got a blog-friend from Stephenville.”  I don’t think she quite caught, or grasped, the blog-friend’ concept, and seemed to think that I’d driven 1700 miles and taken a two-hour ferry ride, to drink ‘screech’ (high-alcohol, reclaimed rum).  The Rock, as it’s known, is a bit behind, technologically.  They didn’t get World-Standard 60 Hz electricity until the late 1950s, and their Internet is a large ball of twine and several empty tin cans.

To give credence to the rumor that “every Newfie knows every other Newfie”, she asked who he was.  “I might knows ‘im.”  I explained that “he” was Ted White from SightsNBytes, a highly proficient and entertaining writer.  “I knows a lotta Whites, but I don’t t’ink I knows a Ted White.”  Ted has explained that, in Newfoundland, or at least in his home town of Stephenville, (Pop. 6193) there are as many, or more, of ‘his’ Whites, as there are of ‘my’ Smiths.  His family inflated the numbers by changing their French name, LeBlanc, to the English, White.

My Newfie tour-guide, whose married name was Green, went on to tell me that, “D’ere’s even a street called Whites Avenue.  Fer a coupla blocks, d’ere’s nuttin’ but Whites, an’ d’ey’s all related ta each udder.”  Ted’s bunch are not related to that lot, because his group ate croissants and snails, before they sailed west to eat cod tongues and mussels.

This 60ish woman has been in Ontario for 20 years, but hasn’t lost that ‘Down Home’ sound and style of speech, because she spent her formative years, and more, down home on The Rock.  I find these speakers a delight to be around, much like the ”y’all” Southern speakers.  They are the salt of the Earth, possibly because they live surrounded by the salty ocean.  They would give the shirt off their back to a perfect stranger, if he needed it – or go next door and borrow one from the neighbor.

I would have loved to have partaken of more of her friendly sociability.  Because she put me ahead of herself, and several other shoppers, I was soon through the checkout and free to proceed with my errands.  Thanks Mrs. Green!  You were a delight.   :D

Book Review #9

 

inferno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be a review of Dan Brown’s most recent book, Inferno – but first, a word from our author – as usual.

I am always leery of “Best Sellers.”  That just means that marketing has appealed to the lowest common denominator, including people who write things that I rant about and make fun of in my usage blogs.  Take out the prurient porn, and Fifty Shades of Grey is really just a shit piece of prose.

So, when The DaVinci Code burst on the scene, I waited till I got a few actual readers and professional reviewers who said it was worth the read, before I dived in.  Lots of action and suspense, it all took place in one, 24-hour period (cute gimmick, that).  I caught many of the background references, but felt there must be more.

A book-reading co-worker lent me his copy of The DaVinci Code Decoded, an explanatory companion volume.  Sure enough, page by page, hundreds of little details turned a rock concert poster into the Bayeux Tapestry.  For example, if you spoke Italian, you would know that Bishop Aringarosa’s last name translated into “red herring.”

I went back, and read his Digital Fortress, and Deception Point.  Not as frenetic as The Code, these were still good solid books.  Later, Angels and Demons had that “many things happening” feeling, while The Lost Symbol was less so, but very enjoyable.

The Book – Inferno

The Author – Dan Brown

The Review

This is another Carnival ride novel, beginning with that reliable old cliché, amnesia.  It all occurs in a couple of days, until returning memory flashes and characters’ comments show the hero (and us) how we got here over the previous three days.

As with The DaVinci Code, I felt that I could use a lot of explanation.  The bad guy is six foot–five, with vivid green eyes.  I thought Brown might be referring to Osama bin Laden, but he was long dead before this book was written, and he personally did not possess bio-engineering abilities.

The plot turns on overpopulation, and how society must collapse if we don’t control it.  It took until 1820, for the world population to reach one billion. In a hundred years, by 1920, the numbers had doubled, to two billion.  In only fifty years, by 1970, the numbers doubled again.  Not merely “added another billion”, but doubled, to four billion, and it appears that, after only another fifty years, 2020, we’ll be hip deep in eight billion of our “loving neighbors.”

Being restrained and “civilized” is all very nice but, if we don’t have a good war or two soon, we’re going to have a bad plague.  As I finished this book, the news spoke of 20,000 dead to Ebola.  You may not get to read this review.

Although Professor Langdon doesn’t remember it, he traveled without a passport from Boston to Florence, Italy.  He goes by train to Venice, and is flown to Istanbul for the grand finale.  The world-travelling author provides great descriptions of many beautiful buildings and locations.

Brown always keeps our mind spun around.  The hero’s amnesia – isn’t.  The “good guys” aren’t always good.  The “bad guys” aren’t really bad.  The perils are only imagined, and the quiet, safe periods often have an avalanche bearing down on them.

one shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concurrent with this book, I was simultaneously reading Lee Child’s, One Shot, and remarked upon the difference of construction.  While far from plodding, Child’s books move in one direction till that plot point is achieved.  Chapters end on one page, and a new one begins on the next page.  They can be 30, 40, 50 pages long, taxing my attention span.

Dan Brown flits and flutters from thought to thought to thought – the hero, the villains, the damsel, the cavalry, the Blue Mosque, and then back around again, perfect for my Adult ADD.  Chapters end where they end – and the next one begins two lines below.  They are often only a few pages in length.  One chapter began on line 40 of the left-hand page, and ended on line 20 of the right-hand page, an entire chapter, less than a complete page long.

The plot-line centers around Dante’s Inferno trilogy poem, and a couple of well-known paintings which illustrate it.  The action and suspense are well built.  While nothing in the book is really what it seems, it still feels believable.  As many good books do, it describes a social problem, and causes the reader to think about both large-scale, and personal solutions to it.

If you haven’t read it already – and this literary Smoothie hasn’t ruined it for you – I suggest you give this book a try.

Flash Fiction #38

Broken window

 

 

 

 

© Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Breaking Bad

Now, we’d rehearsed for days and days,
A smash-and-grab to do.
You throw da brick,” one bloke said,
“And I’ll leave da grab to you.”

The brick went through the window,
“Now grab,” they cried, “and quick!”
It wasn’t till we’d got away,
I found I’d grabbed our brick.

I stared and stared over another big pile of writer’s block, at Rochelle’s weekly photo prompt.  Suddenly, like a brick through a plate glass window, I had a flash of inspiration.  Tripping over the mixed metaphor, I saw it was only an anemic firefly.  “I know; I’ll resuscitate Lonny Donegan’s humor!”

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

 

Pros And Cons

There have always been ways to separate the gullible from their money, but the internet has provided the pros with a method to practice their cons, quicker, easier, more anonymously, and over a much wider scope.

I resentfully awoke the other day, 2 hours before my much-needed beauty sleep normally ended, to a ringing telephone.  Sullenly answering it, I was assailed by a too-perky, recorded female voice informing me that her corporation was aware that I was paying too high an interest rate on my credit card (How?), and this was my last chance….Yadda, Yadda, Yadda!  Bottom line – pay money.

At the end of the recording, the voice said, “If you no longer wish to receive these notifications, press 2 now.”  If this was my last chance, why do I continue to receive 2 or 3 of these calls every week?  And you can push that number 2 till it falls off the phone, the wife has stabbed it dozens of times, yet the calls persist.

We used to get about the same number of calls from some Paki, who told us that he was from Microsoft, and they had noticed that we had problems with our computer (again, how?!  hundreds of millions of computers, and you noticed a problem, on mine?).  Even many users with MSN.com as their home page, didn’t recognize a Microsoft connection.

Perhaps Microsoft threatened legal action of some sort.  Now they tell you that they are from “the Word Program Department,” and if you’ll just perform their electronic voodoo, and let them take over your computer, they’ll fix it all better – right after they empty your bank accounts and max out your credit cards.

When the wife has the time and patience, she lets them babble their spiel, and then acts all confused, “because we only have Macs in the house, and we don’t use a Word program on them.”

Despite the Do Not Call List, which they can’t read in Pakistan, we continue to get calls for various duct-cleaning services.  The disabled daughter lives in a one-floor housing unit with no basement.  She recently told us how she stopped all these calls.  Quite truthfully, she told them all that her unit is heated with electric baseboard heaters – no ducts!  The wife had a chance to use that line on Sunday morning.  Feel free to try it yourself.

While I was out running a few errands the other day, the doorbell rang.  Since the wife wasn’t feeling well, she didn’t go downstairs to answer it.  When I returned home, there was a brightly-printed flyer hanging from the mailbox.  It was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Apparently, if they don’t get the chance to personally beat you with a copy of The Watchtower, like a dog shitting on your lawn, they leave this crap behind.

Even worse, when I more closely examined it, I found that they have their own website, JW.com, and a QR code printed on the corner of the sheet.  You can find everything you wanted to know about the Jovies by scanning this with your Smartphone.  I learned everything I wanted to know about them from the fact that they come around, uninvited and unwanted, disturb your life, and leave shit behind.  These Children of God have become Children of the Information Age.  Thanx Internet.  :(

Early on an autumn Sunday afternoon, the doorbell rang.  Cracking the front door so that a yapping dog wouldn’t leak out, I saw a clean-looking, 20ish male, dressed in (a uniform?) a light-blue, long-sleeved cotton shirt, dark blue, neatly-creased slacks, with a black nylon lanyard around his neck.  He held up a laminated plastic ID with his picture and name (maybe), but no corporation name.

What I have to believe was a fine line of bullshit, was beautifully crafted.  “I’m from the Home Inspection Department, (Of what company, or Government level?) I’m here to check the integrity of your house. (What integrity?)  I’ll just leave my shoes out here”….and actually looked puzzled, as I closed the door on him.  Phone me, or email me, or even write me, and we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time.

Who comes around, unannounced, and unidentified, on a Sunday?  And yet, he and his patter looked and sounded so good, that I’m sure many home-owners unquestioningly opened their houses to him – and then later, wondered where the laptop or the jewelry went to.  I suppose I should have reported him to the Fraud Squad, even tried to get a picture of him, but I am not my neighbor’s keeper.  Caveat Emptor!

Big Talk

Stool

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two little kids, aged six and eight, decide it’s
time to learn how to swear. So, the eight year
old says to the six year old, “Okay, you say
`ass’ and I’ll say `hell'”.

All excited about their plan, they troop
downstairs, where their mother asks them what
they’d like for breakfast. “Aw, hell,” says the
eight-year-old, “gimme some Cheerios.” His mother
backhands him off the stool, sending him bawling
out of the room, and turns to the younger
brother. “What’ll you have?”

“I dunno,” quavers the six-year-old, “but you
can bet your ass it ain’t gonna be Cheerios.”

***

Is there life before coffee?

***

Fu, Bu and Chu immigrated to the US from China.
They decided to become American Citizens, and
“Americanize” their names.

Bu called himself “Buck”
Chu called himself “Chuck”
and Fu had to go back to China

***

There is a new statute in Pennsylvania that all
lawyers must be buried 20 feet under.

You see, they’ve found out that deep down all
lawyers are really good.

***

Smartness runs in my family. When I went to school
I was so smart my teacher was in my class for five years.

***

If you put the federal government in charge of the
Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.

***

After God had created Adam he noticed that he
looked very lonely. He decided to help. He said
“Adam, I’ve decided to make you a woman. She’ll
love you, cook for you, be sweet to you, and
understand you.” Adam said “Great! How much will
she cost me?” The answer came back, “An arm and
a leg.”

“Well,” said Adam “what can I get for a rib?”

***

How many mystery writers does it take
to screw in a light bulb?

Two: One to screw it almost all the way in and
the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

***

The kindergarten class had a homework assignment
to find out about something exciting and relate
it to the class the next day. When the time came
for the little kids to give their reports, the
teacher was calling on them one at a time.

The teacher was reluctant to call upon little
Johnnie, knowing that he sometimes could be a bit
crude. But eventually his turn came. Little
Johnnie walked up to the front of the class, and
with a piece of chalk, made a small white dot on
the blackboard, then sat back down.

Well the teacher couldn’t figure out what Johnnie
had in mind for his report on something exciting,
so she asked him just what that was. ‘It’s a
period’, Johnnie explained.

‘Well I can see that,’ she said, ‘but what is so
exciting about a period?’

‘Damned if I know,’ said Johnnie, ‘but this
morning my sister said she missed one. Then Daddy
had a heart attack and Mommy fainted.’

***

An Army sentry had been posted at a base road gate, with the firm instructions that no vehicle was to be allowed on base without a special pre-authorized sticker.

A large car rolled up with no sticker, but a military driver and an officer in the back.  “Halt.  Who goes there?” he said.  The driver replied, “It’s General Wheeler.”  “I’m sorry; you can’t enter without a sticker.”  The General says, “Nonsense son, drive on.”

The sentry stepped out to block the car and repeated, “You can’t enter the base without a sticker for your car.”  The General said, “I’m a General.  I don’t wait.  Drive on son!”

The sentry pointed his rifle at the driver’s window, leaned forward and said, “I’m new at this sir.  Do I shoot you, or the driver??”   :?