Flash Fiction # 78

Coffee

Copyright Jean L. Hays

CARNIVAL

It might have been a mistake to book an entire week in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The volume of water, the height it plunged, the roar it made, the mist it produced, were awe-inspiring – for about an hour. Two hours, if you went back at night to see the colored lights.

The second day we discovered Clifton Hill, three blocks of pavement rapidly ascending from the edge of the gorge. Its sides were lined with dozens of shops whose sole purpose was to relieve tourists of their money.

Not Starbucks, Henry’s Coffee Emporium – lovely stained glass, wish we lived at 708 Fulton.

***

To begin: In reverse, on the banner outside the window, are the words ‘Clifton Hill.’ I’m not crazy(er than usual).  There may be a Clifton Hill somewhere else, but I thought of Niagara Falls, since we’ve been there several times.  There is no ‘Fulton’, St., Ave., etc. in Niagara.  Don’t let my slightly dystopian tale affect any plans.  The place is well worth visiting.

The Falls are magnificent, from either side of the border. The city is clean and well-run, and has much to offer.  Clifton Hill is like a little microcosm of Las Vegas, or a permanent carnival set-up.  It has wax museums; the Ripley’s Believe It or Not, museums of the strange, shops offering kitschy mementos.  It has a small Ferris Wheel, perched halfway up the hill.  It has candy shops and purveyors of all types of food, some of it fried, which is good, but not necessarily good for you.

***

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

 

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Twisted, Sister

I am attracted by clever twists in the way words are used. Here are some examples.

  • Atheists can’t solve exponential problems because they do not believe in higher powers.
  • An invisible man married an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
  • Alcohol and calculus don’t mix. Don’t drive and derive.
  • A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to hospital. His grandmother telephoned to ask how he was. A nurse said ‘No change yet.’
  • A noun and a verb were dating, but they broke up because the noun was too possessive.
  • A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
  • A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

***

Speech pathologists do it orally.
Flutists do it sideways.
Electrical Engineers do it in parallel.
Mathematicians can do it at any angle.
Potato farmers do it with appeal.
Computer scientists simulate it.
Hackers do it when the system goes down.
Submariners do it deeper.

***

Helping your father

A clergyman walking down a country lane and sees a young farmer struggling to load hay back onto a cart after it had fallen off.

“You look hot, my son.” said the cleric. “Why don’t you rest a moment, and I’ll give you a hand.”

“No thanks,” said the young man.  “My father wouldn’t like it.”

“Don’t be silly,” the minister said.  “Everyone is entitled to a break. Come and have a drink of water.”

Again the young man protested that his father would be upset.

Losing his patience, the clergyman said, “Your father must be a real slave driver. Tell me where I can find him and I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”

“Well,” replied the young farmer, “he’s under the load of hay.”

***

Nonconformists are all alike

***

We have enough youth,
how about a fountain of smart?

***

WARNING – You are about to exceed the limit of my medication!

***

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country
are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s
the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity.
But then … we elected them.

***

A Texas girl and a woman from New York meet at a
party. The Texas gal says, “Hi! Where y’all from?”

The New Yorker sticks her nose in the air like
she’s checking for rain, and replies, “Where I
come from, we don’t end our sentences with a
preposition.”

Texas gal says, “Fine. Where y’all from…bitch!”

***

Thank God for the IRS. Without them I’d be
stinking rich!

***

Why were there only 49 contestants for the “Miss
Ebonics U.S.A.” Pageant?

No contestant wanted to wear the banner that
said “Idaho!”

***

If at first you do succeed, try not to look astonished.

***

Horrible Example

Priest

I recently came upon a totally-expected Christmas-time rant from a ‘good Catholic’. It opened with the question, “after all, aren’t these Holidays solely and specifically about the birth of Jesus Christ?”

I commented: “In a word, NO! While it might be the most important for you – the Muslims celebrate Ramadan, the Jews have Chanukah, the Wiccans observe Solstice, the blacks celebrate Kwanzaa, Pagans have Yule, Hindus observe Diwali, Japanese have Bonen Kai….. and many more, all at the end of the year. Do as Christ would, and include them all, not with a bragging, exclusionary Merry Christmas, but with a ‘Happy Holidays’ to one and all.”

I got back: “This is exactly what I mean… There has never been a time anywhere except in the last 10 years where people like you, have imbibed this political correctness crap and pretend that this season is anything but Christmas in countries which have a strong Christian heritage. So get back to work and Merry Christmas.

He was railing about the use of the inclusive ‘Happy Holidays’, instead of his exclusionary favorite, ‘Merry Christmas.’ He seemed most piqued about Muslims, and their growing acceptance in the USA.  (but not Islamic religious terms of course, those are acceptable). Well, we will have none of that in our household!

Ignoring the fact that I had just shown him that dozens of cultures and religions have some sort of year-end celebration, he was convinced that none but the anointed Christians should partake. “you should tell them that they should stop benefitting from this holiday and be made to go to work instead. Perhaps if they are to be totally honest with themselves, they should also shun the revelry that goes with it, but out of the Christmas spirit, do so after, perhaps during lent when you’re fasting.”

A subsequent reply to my comment from another of his narrow-minded regulars asked, “How is it exclusionary?  I say Merry Christmas to my Jewish landlady, and she doesn’t mind.”

You may think that yours is the Rolls-Royce of religions, but you don’t include anyone by insisting that they share a ride in it to YOUR CHURCH.  Exclusion is not allowing me to drive my crappy Chevy to my religious services – or to none at all.

I know there are worse examples of religious intolerance, but I don’t know how to access ISIS or Boko Haram’s websites. I think that there are many, I hope a majority of, Christians and Catholics who are more loving and acceptant than this.

His snotty reply incited me to publish yet another example of narrow-minded entitlement. He must have smelled me coming.  When I tried to access his site to copy quotes, I found that he had deleted my comment and his reply, and turned off all comments – but we know that NOTHING is ever really erased from the internet, don’t we?

If you’d like a look at the original, click here https://astrugglingdad.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/merry-christmas-there-i-said-it/comment-page-1/#comment-883 .  Take backup, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you, whichever Holiday you wish to celebrate. Bah, Humbug to Bob Cratchit Catholic, and all his head-in-the-sand, Trump-supporting buddies.

Pint Sized

Pint

Always fascinated with the details of English word usage, I recently read a post titled Euphemisms. In it, a young female explained how the seemingly innocent words of many of the nursery rhymes we tell our children, had a much darker meaning when they were first composed.

She apparently had a real vendetta against royalty and religion. Her first story was about “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”, who was Queen “Bloody” Mary, trying to return now-Protestant England to the Catholic Church.  Her garden grew well, because it was fertilized with the corpses of the many that she had tortured and executed.

The writer claimed that “Three Blind Mice” were three noble men(sic) who plotted against Mary. She didn’t have them blinded, or mutilated (their ‘tails’ cut off), merely burned at the stake.  But, in reality, there were only two who plotted, and only one was a noble, the other, an Anglican Bishop.

“Goosey, Goosey, Gander” is about Catholic sympathisers hiding priests from Protestant torture and death squads. The line about grabbing them by their left leg was because priests were identified when they put their left foot forward as they genuflected.

Already cynical, she lost my belief when her mix of fact to fiction became too thin on the “Jack And Jill” story. This is word history, not political history, and something I’ve researched.

She stated that it referred to the execution of Louis XIII and Marie Antoinette. When Louis (not Jack – or even Jacques) was beheaded, he lost his ‘Crown.’  When Marie was guillotined, her head ‘came tumbling after.’  She didn’t explain why English commoners would make up rhymes about French monarchs.

This little rhyme is all about governments getting more tax income by screwing with sizes. It was something citizens were complaining about 400 years ago, and they’re still screwing us today.

A “Jack” was a leather mug, in which inns and taverns served 12 ounces of beer or cheap wine. Taxes were paid on how many ‘Jacks’ were dispensed. Suddenly, by Royal decree, the size of a Jack was reduced to 10 ounces, and taxes on beer and wine went up by 20%.

Crown

Taxes were often paid in ‘Crowns’, silver English coins. Soon both barkeeps and the drinking working man were going bankrupt (broke).  When the Jack fell down, he/it broke his ‘Crown’.

The Gill – or Jill – was a quarter of a pint, the amount of a shot of harder liquor. The Incredible Shrinking Jack trick had worked so well that the government tried it again.  A gallon had been 160 ounces, therefore a quart (quarter gallon) was 40 ounces, a pint was 20….and a quarter-pint Gill, was 5.

The gallon was reduced to 128 ounces, a quart to 32, a pint to 16. The 5 ounce Gill became 4 ounces, the tax on liquor went up 25% with the stroke of a pen, “and Jill came tumbling after.”

A later government restored the gallon/quart, etc. sizes, but the results can still be seen. The UK has ‘Imperial’, 40 ounce quarts, but the US never changed back, keeping their 32 oz. version.  The US has a Fifth (of a 128 oz. gallon = 25.6 oz.) of booze, where Canada insists that it’s a 26er.

When I was but a mere child, dairies delivered 40 oz. quart glass bottles of milk to the house. When glass yielded to cardboard cartons, the international conglomerates who now provided cow juice, did so in 32 oz. American quarts, without changing our cost.

In 1971, when Canada went metric, no-one really knew anything about metric sizes. Containers were now (34oz. approx.) liters.  Cost went up, but uncertainty kept complaints down.  40 oz. glass pop bottles became 1-liter plastic containers – at the same price.

To lull the population into happily accepting metrification, the Canadian government actually solicited poems from citizens, extolling the beauty and benefits of the Metric System. They were disappointed by the low turnout, and definitely did not publish the one that said;

When things go Metric,
Prices rise!
Surprise, surprise,
Surprise, surprise!

The Portuguese lady selling bread at the Market continues to shout, “Three bags for $5.” The old loaves of bread suitable for making trencherman farmers’ sandwiches are now so small that they’re barely big enough to make petit-fours.  The hamburger and hot-dog buns remain the same size, but the bags which used to contain a dozen buns, first slipped to 10, slid to 9, fell to 8, and, hopefully, have bottomed out at a ridiculous 7 per pack.

The only thing that I have as much left in my wallet as I used to, is lint.

DIZZY – MY HEAD IS SPINNING

Grammar Nazi

Oh dear, gentle readers, the decline and fall of proper English usage continues apace. There are more people who know less about the language, and prove it, by writing and publishing their errors.

When I began blogging, lo these many (4) years ago, I had to click to get my output Spellchecked. Now, I don’t even have my fingers raised from the keys, before that dreaded wavy red underline tells me I’ve Miss Spelled mispilled somehow erred – which would be great, if the program actually spelled the correct word.

When I enter text into a translation program, it even tells me that my foreign language words are not spelled ‘correctly’ in English. GrammarCheck is just as bad.  It’s more powerful now, but the code-writers could have used GrammarCheck themselves.

I wrote ‘The Beatles – Let It Be’, and was ‘corrected’ to – let it is.  I typed ‘lay it down’ – and was ‘corrected’ to lie it down.  It wanted me to revise one line to – ‘any idea we were coming had’.  That program may have been upgraded by a Squarehead Kraut, because only the Germans the verb at the end of the sentence put.

Other official, commercial headshakers include:
MSN’s headline that –Seattle sets record four loudest stadium.
a Wikipedia photo, captioned ‘The Chicago L’  It’s an elevated train, Loser!
a crossword puzzle where the clue ‘Classic Chevy’ – equaled ‘TBird’, apparently built by Henry and Edsel Chevrolet.

it hardens back to a time – Only between your ears. I harken (or hearken) back to archaic usage.

beer-swaling hockey nuts – So many illiterate, bladder-emptying jokes…they’re swilling.

Rule could effect record company profits – What is the affect of incorrect usage?

I could really careless about a number – I couldn’t care less about your careless misusage.

She clamored up the stairs – making a lot of noise, as she clambered up the stairs.

Bare with me a while, seems to be an invitation to a party I can’t bear to miss.

warned of their want to cross the road – I want them to know that the correct word is wont. (not won’t)

the couple had a relationship, but only plutonic – Wow, that’s out of this world.

sense you left….your English doesn’t make any since

I’d bend over back words – Like ‘Asshole’? That’s a ‘back word’ for backwards writers.

Toe-headed people like me – More like ass-headed. tow-headed = sandy-colored hair.

I studied Shakespeare and Julia’s Cesar – You just want to pound your head, or a teacher’s.

eats chutes and leaves – Without understanding the joke – or Botany.

a bowl haircut, like Moe from the Three Stugges – A fourth stugge stooge wrote this crap.

a quilt made from old flower sacks – Filled with roses and crysanth krisan more roses. Does anybody besides me remember when flour came in sacks?

They’re being terrorists shouldn’t bother anyone. – Their being a professional writer, should!

a tee-shirt bearing her mid drift – I bear a mid-drift; she was baring her midriff.

did the ice-bucket challenge with a pale of cold milk – Well, a pail of it is white.

Farmers’ Market vendors sell beefstake tomatoes – To vampire killers?

A butcher sells male and peamale bacon

caught in the straight-jacket of social expectations – Go strait to the dictionary!

came to blows with eatchother – Please note the spacebar below

Gourmet salad dressings – tomatow and bealTomato, mixed with things like cranberry and mango. What in Hell is beal?

He wasn’t aloud to carry a gun – He had to keep quiet about what he was allowed to carry

He wrecked havoc – I hate it when someone wrecks my havoc. I just get the detritus and debris randomly distributed, only to find some OCD has wreaked order and neatness with a broom.

The hooker lifted her short skirt to display her wears – But she wears none, so bewares, don’t get caught unawares, in the warehouse, among the softwares and hardwares.

So I od not have to mention it again – It’s odd that they don’t know the correct word is ought.

Ball your eyes out – I would bawl, but at least it’s better than eyeing your balls out.

They’re just etching out a living – There’s no need for eking a living, when you can make etchings.

I’ll leave you with the tale of a reader who reached my site, riding on the search term “Archron, Ohio.” He may have found me, but he’ll never find Akron.

 

Flash Fiction #77

Smog

PHOTO PROMPT- © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

IN THE THICK OF THINGS

No wonder her husband’s company had been so generous to get him to move, and become the branch manager in China, the financial world’s new engine.

The company had arranged and paid for the move. The pay and perks were fabulous.  They had everything they needed – except clean air.  Hubby’s limo and office were both filtered, while she and the children didn’t dare to go outside.

This was the way the world would end, with neither a bang nor a whimper, but with a hack and gasp for breath.

***

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

Show Me The Money

American money

A student’s request for extra money

A student called up his Mom one evening from his college and asked her for some money, because he was broke.

His Mother said, “Sure, sweetie. I will send you some money. You also left your economics book here when you visited two weeks ago. Do you want me to send that up too?”

“Uhh, oh yeah, O.K.” responded the kid.

So his Mom wrapped the book along with the checks up in a package, kissed Dad goodbye, and went to the post office to mail the money and the book.

When she gets back, Dad asked, “Well how much did you give the boy this time?”

“Oh, I wrote two checks, one for $20, and the other for $1,000.”

“That’s $1020!!!” yelled Dad, “Are you going crazy???”

“Don’t worry hon,” Mom said, kissed Dad on the on top of his bald head, “I taped the $20 check to the cover of his book, but I put the $1,000 one somewhere among the pages in chapter 15!”

***

Who is the Winner?

The father of five children had won a toy at a raffle. He called his kids together to ask which one should have the present. “Who is the most obedient?” he asked. “Who never talks back to mother? and “Who does everything mother says?”
Five small voices replied in unison. “Okay daddy! You get the toy.”

***

The Joy Ride

Bob was 16 and finally got hold of his driver’s license. In order to celebrate the special day, the whole family went out to the driveway and climbed into the car to enjoy his first official drive. However, dad went to the back seat, where he sat right behind his boy.

When Bob saw his dad he said “Dad, you must be fed up of the front seat after teaching me how to drive all these days Right?”

“Nope!” came the quick reply from the dad. “I’m going to sit back here and kick the back of your seat while you drive, just like you’ve been doing to me for the last sixteen years!”

***

Magic Penny

After putting their three-year-old child Brian in bed, his parents heard muffled sobs coming from his room one night. Rushing back in, they found that the child was crying hysterically when he saw them. He told his parents that he had accidentally swallowed a penny and was sure that he would die now. The father, in an attempt to sober him down, took out a penny from his pocket and pretended to pull it out from Brian’s ear. The child was really thrilled and stopped crying at once.

In a flash, he snatched the penny from his dad’s hand, swallowed it, and then cheerfully demanded, “Do it again, Dad!”

***

CLINIC’S NAME

Two elderly couples, (I’m not saying that one of them wasn’t The Archon and Mrs G.O.D.) were enjoying friendly conversation, when one of the men asked the other, “Fred, how was that memory clinic you went to last month?”

“Outstanding!” Fred replied. “They taught us all the latest psychological techniques – visualization, association – it made a big difference for me.”

“That’s great. What was the name of the clinic?”

Fred went blank. He thought and thought, but couldn’t remember.  Then a smile broke across his face, and he asked, “What do you call that red flower with the long stem and thorns?”

“You mean a rose?”

“Yeah, that’s it!” He turned to his wife and said….”Rose, what was the name of that clinic???”

***

BTW!
This is the second time I’ve used this picture of American money, but the first time I’ve noticed that the photo includes a $2 bill in the lower left.  The featured President is Thomas Jefferson.