’20 A To Z Challenge – X

 

How do you catch a bear??  You dig a hole in the forest, and build a big fire in it until it burns down to ashes.  Then you place frozen peas around the rim of the hole.  When the bear stops for a pea, you kick him in the ash-hole.

All of which is easier than catching a theme for the letter X.  I recently published a post with references to Utopia, Brigadoon, and Shangri-La.  Since I did not include it there, and with inspiration (and words that begin with X) so thin on the ground, I’ve decided to feature the word

XANADU

a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.

Xanadu – the movie – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu_(film)

Xanadu – the poem (part of it) – By Samuel Taylor Coleridge – actually titled

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

The Xanadu in the poem was inspired by Shang-tu, the summer residence of Mongolian general and statesman Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan). You might also recognize “Xanadu” as the name of the fantastic estate in Orson Welles’s 1941 film Citizen Kane.  Coleridge’s fantastic description of an exotic utopia fired public imagination and ultimately contributed to the transition of “Xanadu” from a name to a generalized term for an idyllic place.

There’s everything that you never wanted to know about Xanadu.  After (almost) completing this post, I decided on a likely suspect for next year.  After that, you’re on your own.  The alphabet will only contain 25 letters.  Any suggestions or requests will be gratefully accepted, unless you want an exciting and extended treatise on the development and use of the cedilla.   😳

Flash Fiction #249

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

RELATIVE RELATIVES

Hi Daddy!  When are ya comin’ home??

My business deal’s almost finished.  I’ll be home on Friday.  Anything interesting happen?

The roses died.

Oh…. why?

The heat from the fire.

Fire??!  What fire?

When the garage burned.

The garage burned!!? How?

The firemen said that it was sparks from the house that set it on fire.

The house was on fire!??  What happened?

Mommy says that it happened when the furnace exploded.

Furnace exploded!??  Was anybody injured?

No Daddy, but we’re gonna hafta get some new roses when we get out of this motel.

MOTEL!!??

Here’s Mommy.  She can ‘splain.  😳

***

Aah – the innocence of childhood.  Everybody’s got their own priorities.  Daddy’s may be home-owners’ insurance.

***

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

True Colors

Ladies and gentlemen, this is where a Christian/Atheist religious discussion goes, when it doesn’t go where an evangelical apologist wants it to go.  Sooner or later they show their true colors.

I love when you write about religion and faith because this is my favorite topic. However, it seems like you only want to engage in discussing the worst ideas that Christians present, rather than actually dealing with the difficult questions. Of course it is true that as an atheist you are capable of making moral choices. And I accept that if evolution were true, you would be capable of caring for others through an evolved empathy. However, what if my evolutionary pathway didn’t cause me to have empathy? What if my evolution led me toward conquering others by any means necessary in order to survive? What if I sincerely believed that killing you and stealing your stuff was a moral choice? If you are a cosmic accident, and I am a cosmic accident, then you have no standing on which to claim that anything at all is good or bad. There is no such thing as good or bad. It doesn’t matter if 7 billion cosmic accidents decide that killing is bad. You could put me in jail and stop me from stealing and killing, but you couldn’t actually call my actions bad. There is no one on earth who could say anything is good or bad if we are all cosmic accidents. You put up a meme that says, “Not wanting to know the truth is what makes you stupid.” I completely agree. So, where do you stand on that? If you really want the truth, then why do you tear down stupid arguments and avoid answering real questions? Thanks!

I tear down stupid arguments, because they are stupid arguments. Like assembling car models or collecting coins, it is a retirement hobby that fills some spare time, and gives me a pleasant feeling of accomplishment. What are some real questions that you feel need answering, and why do you think that it is incumbent upon me to answer them??

I accept a wide array of ‘facts’ and opinions which I believe to be the truth, because I have been presented with what I feel is, sufficiently convincing evidence. It is likely that some of my beliefs are false, because of incomplete or incorrect information, but if someone presents me with new evidence, I am open to changing my mind. What ’Truth’ do you think exists, that I am not accepting? I do not discover truth by telling others what I believe, but by asking my own questions, and listening to others.

You are correct that there is no good or bad, and you are also wrong! Good and bad do not exist as concrete, clearly-defined, unchanging, imposed-from-without, terms. They exist because we – individuals and societies – say they do. Good is what increases my well-being. Bad is what decreases my well-being – and my family’s – and my city’s – and my country’s – and Humanity’s. They are amorphous, constantly changing, constantly being negotiated. They require continuous thought and consideration. We need to be responsible for our own actions and attitudes.

I did not mean to say that you have an obligation to answer any argument. I only wondered why you seem to avoid addressing good Christian arguments, and only pick on the stupid ones. You asked which truth I think exists…and I think you know the answer. God exists and there is plenty of evidence for his existence. I have offered to take the time to show you the evidence, but you did not respond to my offer. I’m glad that you at least admit in this comment that good and bad do not exist in a concrete way, since that is consistent with your worldview. But you said that good is what increases your well-being and that of your family, city, etc. You also said that good and bad exist because we say they do. What if my society decides that what is best is to kill millions of Jews, because our race is superior? Does that make it good? And what if I personally decide that what is best for me and my family is to kill you and take your stuff? What if my city decides that what is best for our city is to take over your city and make you our slaves? Is there anyone in the world who could say that would be morally wrong? In your world, no there isn’t. Would you disagree? And on what basis would you disagree?

I pick on stupid Christian arguments, and ignore good ones for a couple of reasons. One is that I don’t seem to ever find good arguments, just ‘less dumb’ ones. Another is that this blog-site is an outlet for my creativity. It is for education, entertainment and amusement. It is not a Theological debate site, and I am not a theologian or trained debater. I am, however, capable of holding foolish claims and statements up to ridicule. I do it with social, political, legal, logic, and linguistics. If you don’t want to see your ox gored, don’t watch. It’s like news services; they don’t run ’Dog bites man’ stories. They run MAN BITES DOG. So do I.

I have not accepted your kind offer for various reasons also. First, better men than you have tried and failed. Second, you don’t seem to be offering anything new, only a protracted brainwashing program that will eat my time, and benefit only you. It will not lead me to the truth, only an attempt to convince me that what is offered is true. Lastly, if the Christian God exists, the Bible says that He hardens the hearts of many people, making them unable to see the truth. All your hopes and prayers are ineffective against His plan.

Your questions indicate that you still view Good and Bad as concrete entities. What is good for you (and yours) is bad for me. We each need to consider what will produce The Greatest Good For The Greatest Number. The victors get to write the history. That’s what the Holy Inquisition was all about. If only Nazi Germans had survived, strong and prosperous, then killing Jews would have been good – for them – but each city and nation must live with, and get along with, the rest of mankind. I don’t steal, because I do not want anyone to steal from me – or kill, or rape, or enslave, or invade, or destroy – Do Unto Others. What would the world be like if everyone did that??

At the end, you slide into ‘morally wrong.’ I would disagree, because this is an entirely different concept from ‘Good and Bad.’ If God does not exist, then “Morals” do not exist, only the evolutionary empathetic urge to assist and improve the lot of individuals, and Humanity in general, so that our lot will also be improved. Be good, for goodness’ sake.

You said that “we each need to consider what will produce the greatest good for the greatest number.” But if I follow your worldview to its logical conclusion, then it doesn’t matter whether I shoot up a school full of children or bake them all cookies. Those are moral equivalents, because we live a meaningless existence. You atheists want to play pretend that things actually matter, while holding a worldview where things don’t matter. And then you cry when someone shoot (sic) schoolkids (sic). Why be upset just because a cosmic accident decided not to play your game of pretend? Your worldview is completely inconsistent with your actions. I suspect that you know God is there, you just don’t want him to tell you to stop looking at porn. Enjoy it while you can, Archon! Thanks for your response. I won’t bother you anymore since you are not interested in spending your time this way.   (My emphasis)

Five minutes after I got the above comment, I got a frantic email – not apologizing, (s)he still stood by all the claims, but was worried about how it would make this ‘loving Christian’ appear to the public.

I will totally understand if you delete it

No, no! Just the opposite. Not that anyone will come back to this post and read it, but I am leaving it up as a cautionary tale, and an object lesson.  Congratulations!  You get to be the star of one of Archon’s ‘Christians vs. Atheists’ posts.  Your date with infamy will be Feb. 24/21 if morbid curiosity drives you to investigate.

Two weeks later: I guess it is just going to be another post where you congratulate yourself for being such a good and intelligent person.

More interested in winning than engaging in a discussion, when it became obvious that they were not going to be taken seriously and agreed with, it quickly devolved into insults, personal attacks, strawman arguments, claims to be able to read my mind and insist on what I ‘knew’, calling me a liar, and accusations of my immoral behavior.  For those who have waded through this saga, what are your thoughts??  😕

Down-To-Earth Comedy

Every year, Fred and Ethel would spend a day at the State Fair. Every year, Fred would say, “Ethel, I’d like to ride in that airplane.”

And every year, Ethel would say, “I know, Fred, but that airplane ride cost ten dollars, and ten dollars is ten dollars.”

One year, while they were at the fair, Fred said, “Ethel, I’m 74 years old. If I don’t have a ride in that airplane this year, I may never get another chance.”

“Fred, that airplane ride cost ten dollars, and ten dollars is ten dollars,” Ethel replied.

The pilot happened to overhear them and said, “Listen folks, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take you both up for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word, I won’t charge you anything. But, if you say one word, then you’ll have to pay the ten dollars.”

Fred and Ethel agreed, so up they went. The pilot did all kinds of rolls and dives, twists and turns, but not a word was heard. He did all his fancy maneuvers again, but still not a word.

When they finally landed, the pilot turned to Fred and said, “Gosh, I did everything I could think of to get you to yell out, and yet you never said a word.”

“Well,” Fred replied, “I was going to say something when Ethel fell out, but ten dollars is ten dollars.”

*******

During the wedding rehearsal, the groom approached the pastor with an unusual offer:

“Look, I’ll give you $100 if you’ll change the wedding vows. When you get to the part where I’m supposed to promise to ‘love, honor and obey’ and ‘be faithful to her forever,’ I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave that out.”

He passed the minister a $100 bill and walked away satisfied.

On the day of the wedding, when it came time for the groom’s vows, the pastor looked the young man in the eye and said: “Will you promise to prostrate yourself before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life, and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will not ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall live?”

The groom gulped and looked around, and said in a tiny voice, “Yes,” then leaned toward the pastor and hissed: “I thought we had a deal.”

The pastor put a $100 bill into the groom’s hand and whispered: “She made me a better offer.”

***

“Has your son decided what he wants to be when he grows up?” I asked my friend. “He wants to be a garbage man,” she replied. “That’s an unusual ambition to have at such a young age.” “Not really. He thinks that garbage men work only on Tuesdays.”
***

A man was stopped by the police around 2 am. The officer asked him where he was going at that time of night. The man replied, “I’m on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late.” The officer then asked, “Really? Who’s giving that lecture at this time of night?” The man replied, “That would be my wife.”

***

I was devastated this afternoon when my wife told me my 5 year old son wasn’t actually mine.

She then said I need to pay more attention at school pick up.

***

A young lady visited a computer dating service and requested, “I’m looking for a spouse. Can you please help me to find a suitable one?”

The matchmaker said, “What exactly are you looking for?”

“Well, let me see. Needs to be good looking, polite, humorous, sporty, knowledgeable, good at singing and dancing. Willing to accompany me the whole day at home during my leisure time if I don’t go out. Be able to tell me interesting stories when I need a companion for conversation and be silent when I want to rest.”

The matchmaker entered the information into the computer and, in a matter of moments, handed the results to the woman:

 “Buy a television.”

***

THEATER LIGHT BULB JOKES

How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
Three.  One to actually do it, and two more to discuss how they would have done it.

How many directors does it take to change a light bulb?
“Interesting….  Why does it want to change?  What is its motivation?”

How many playwrights does it take to change a light bulb?
“I ain’t changing anything!”

How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
“Why do we need another light bulb?”

How many theater publishers does it take to change a light bulb?
“We don’t actually change light bulbs.  We just tell you how somebody else did it earlier.”

How many stage managers does it….
“Done!”

Flash Fiction #248

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

THE MALE MUST GO THROUGH

The late, great, Bob Bryant.

Well, the only thing he was great at, was being late.  He was born almost two weeks after his due date, and never caught up.

He was late for breakfast, late for classes, late to get his drivers’ licence, and late for his senior prom.  His Mother told him that he’d be late for his own funeral.  If he’d shuffled his feet faster, he’d have been on the sidewalk, instead of shuffling off to Buffalo, in front of that bus.

Here he was, returning from the crematorium.  With COVID-delayed postal delivery, Mom would be right.

***

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

Just Say No To – Jail!

Poor Chastity Eugina Hopson was so worried about her possibly-tainted meth that she actually contacted the police about it. Officers at the Granite Shoals Police Department in Texas were trying to catch the county’s dumbest drug users when they posted a fake Facebook story about Ebola-tainted meth. The post said, “If you have recently purchased meth or heroin in Central Texas, please take it to the local police or sheriff department so it can be screened with a special device. DO NOT use it until it has been properly checked for possible Ebola contamination!””

Hopson, 29, saw the post and was understandably afraid that her meth could be… wait for it… dangerous. She responded to the department’s post on Facebook, and they gladly took her sample in for “testing.” Hobson was charged with possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance.

***

18 year old Ruben Zarate wanted to rob a muffler shop in Chicago and demanded money. Unfortunately it was mostly in the safe. Zarate decided that he would try again later. To save himself some time, he left his cell phone number with the store employees. That way, they could call him when the manager returned.

***

Police had an easy time tracking down Floridian Mack Yearwood, wanted in connection with an assault that took place over Labor Day weekend 2016, after he used his own wanted poster as his Facebook profile picture. One of Yearwood’s friends commented “Nice mug shot,” to which Yearwood responded “Thanks buddy!” Another friend expressed more concern: “Holy sh*t ding-dong, are you planning on getting this sh*t squared away? I’d like to see you again at least before they find you.”

Cops in Stuart, FL, north of Miami, used Yearwood’s FB to track him to his brother’s house, where he was arrested. According to the arresting officers, a bag of weed tumbled out of Yearwood’s pocket as he was cuffed, and he politely asked the cops not to charge him for possession.

Writing on the Stuart Police Department Facebook page, Cpl. Brian Bossio noted “Facebook is a great way to communicate and connect with old friends and family… If you are wanted by the police, it’s probably not a good idea to use the ‘Wanted of the Week’ poster of yourself as your profile pic.”

***

Demetrius Robinson, 28, wanted to rob a Golden Pantry store late one night, but he needed to pass the time as naturally as possible until he and the clerk were alone, so he decided to fill out a job application. Not a bad idea, except he left his real name on the application, along with his uncle’s phone number. After he robbed the store, it didn’t take long for police to track him down. He didn’t get the job.

***

Eoise Reaves stretched the limits of “to serve and protect” when she approached a policeman and asked him to help her get her money back for the poor-quality crack cocaine she’d just purchased. She showed him the crack, which she had tucked away in her mouth, and he placed her under arrest. How does one know when crack has gone bad?

***

Amateur criminal and professional dumb-dumb Christopher Kron made every mistake possible in robbery history when he tried to rob a restaurant after it closed one night. Not only did he trip the silent alarm, but when ADT called the restaurant after being notified, Kron answered the phone and gave them his REAL NAME. He returned to the restaurant the next day and was recognized by an employee who had seen the surveillance video. Kron was arrested on the spot.

***

A man in Stockholm, Sweden was a bit upset when the 13-year-old girl he’d been courting didn’t show up for an arranged sex meeting. When the teen stood him up, the man found her home phone number and called her father to demand a refund. Obviously things didn’t end well.

***

Two men arrested in Houston were accused of stealing an iPad and using it to take selfies that they unknowingly uploaded to the owner’s iCloud account. The men appeared in the photos displaying money they were also accused of taking from the victim.

’20 A to Z Challenge – W

 

 

 

I recently told a reader that I spoke/wrote all my Scottish Gaelic in English.  I told another that I did the same thing with the Spanish that he contributed.  It seems so simple, yet it’s harder than it seems, because there is no English language.  Every word in the language came from somewhere – everywhere – else.

The English language imports words from other languages wholesale, and then claims them as its own.  Some words are ‘naturalized’ – accepted and commonly used – more, and more quickly than others.  Then there are words that only pretentious wordnuts (with the accent on Nuts) like me, are even aware of, much less occasionally use.  This brings us to today’s (and yesteryear’s) social-commentary word

WEISSNICHTWO

wise-nicked-woe

Its meaning in the original German was, not clear where.  It came into English with the more substantial, definitive meaning of know not where.  In almost two-hundred years, I’m sure it must have been used a few times.  It was dragged, kicking and screaming, into English in 1833 by the British writer, Thomas Carlyle.  It was made famous – or infamous – by its use in his Latin-titled book, Sartor Resartus.

Even back then, he used it to describe a First-World problem.  World cities, especially those in Europe, were losing their visual culture, and were becoming homogeneous, indistinguishable, one from another.  There were Jews in Belgrade, Arabs in Marseilles, and Irish in London.  If you roused from a drunken stupor and wandered into the streets, you wouldn’t know where you were, until you fell into the Thames, or the Seine, or the Moscow River – and with the state, or lack of, municipal sanitation, even not then.

He used the word Weissnichtwo as the name of an indefinite, unknown, or imaginary place, like Utopia, Brigadoon, or Shangri-La.  The problem situation has only got worse over the years.  With the ubiquitous McDonalds, Domino’s, and Starbucks, and rampant, often war-driven immigration, a traveler might be anywhere.

I imagine that you’re just over there, shaking your head at this word.  You could be much closer to my next post soon, if you pop back in a couple of days.  I promise not to use any of those big, foreign words.  Might even offer up a few chuckles.   😀

Flash Fiction #247

PHOTO PROMPT © Alicia Jamtaas

LEFT HANGING

Ah, the joys of being a writer.  At least I’ve identified my Flash Fiction.
Big deal!  We’ve got your number,

I downloaded Rochelle’s photo.
Ho Hum!  After only eight years of practice.

I have a title.
Life imitating art – again.

I have a theme.
Your therapist will be intrigued.

I have a bright, colorful story arc.
Which will not end in a pot of gold!

All I need now is a great finish, a fascinating denouement.  Think, Archon!
We’re sorry!  The inspiration that you are trying to reach is currently binge-watching The Expanse, on Amazon.  Please try again later.

***

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

Piss-offily

If you are looking for a good chuckle, here are a few of the funniest quotes ever.

Crossing the road

“I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” —Stephen Hawking, physicist

Insurance gods

“The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist.

Open-minded

“By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” —Richard Dawkins, scientist

Narrow-minded

“He was so narrow-minded, he could see through a keyhole with both eyes.” —Molly Ivins, author

Family debate

“I’ve come to learn that the best time to debate family members is when they have food in their mouths.” —Kenneth Cole, fashion designer

Marriage from heaven

“They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.” —Clint Eastwood

Get married

“My advice to you is get married: If you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher.” —Socrates

Slow computer test

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet service to see who they really are.” —Will Ferrell

Someone you love

“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth, and you should save it for someone you love.” —Butch Hancock, country musician

Marriage gift

“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.” —Rod Stewart, rock star

Everything has a consequence

“All the things I like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.” —Alexander Woollcott, actor

Bacon is everything

“When you have bacon in your mouth, it doesn’t matter who’s president.” —Louis CK

Spending foolishly

“Part of [the $10 million] went for gambling, horses, and women. The rest I spent foolishly.” —George Raft, film star

No character

“I was going to sue for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character.” —Charles Barkley, TV basketball analyst

A Scrabble For One-Liners

I accidentally swallowed a bunch of Scrabble tiles….
….My next trip to the bathroom could spell disaster.

This is the first time I don’t go to Fiji due to the pandemic….
….I normally don’t go because I’m broke as fuck.

My friend drowned himself in a vat of varnish….
….He had a horrible end…. but a nice finish.

If we were on a sinking ship, and there was only one life-vest….
….I would miss you a lot.

You should not call someone a cannibal….
….Refer to them as Humanitarians.

I can’t believe I forgot to go to the gym today….
….That makes seven years in a row.

I told my wife that I have the body of a Greek god….
….She explained that Buddha is not Greek.

I donated my body to Science….
….Science donated my body to Goodwill

Is it irony when you pray to God to remove “your family’s problem”….
….And the next day, you’re in Heaven?

We wanted to be adults, so badly….
….Just f**king look at us now.

Constipated people are not trustworthy….
….They are full of shit.

I was invited to a party, and told to dress to kill….
….Apparently a turban, a beard and a backpack weren’t what they meant.

To err is human….
….To forgive is against company policy.

Why doesn’t room 404 exist?….
….There’s no room for error.

What is a fear of chainsaws called?….
….Common sense

I saw an ad in the paper, “Yacht for sale.”….
….As if people don’t know what a yacht is for.

It doesn’t matter if you’re tall, short, fat, thin, young, old, at the end of the day….
….It’s night.

One useless man is a shame….
….Two is a law firm.

I moved into an igloo, and my friends threw me a house-warming party….
….Now I’m homeless.

My mother told me I could be anyone I wanted….
….Turns out identity theft is illegal.

I needed to set a new password….
….I tried putting in ‘penis,’ but it told me it was too short.

I asked my wife what she was ‘burning for dinner.’….
….Turns out it was all my personal belongings.

My wife claims that I’m cheap….
….But I’m not buying it