Flash Fiction #165

Nostalgia

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

Perhaps the loss and blurring of memories from old age isn’t entirely a bad thing.  We can look back on our lives through the filter of contentment for a life well lived.

We can remember the happy birthdays, the important anniversaries, the great grandkids, and forget the nosy, incompetent co-workers, the uncaring, slave-driver bosses, the crazy neighbors, and the arrogant politicians.

They say that ignorance is bliss, and it can be – in a way.  Just remember that living well is the best revenge.  Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.  Don’t worry.  Be happy!

***

Click above to hear the great Ella Fitzgerald tell you how to do it.

***

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

Advertisements

You’re Pulling My Leg….Off

Pirate

A man is walking down by the docks, and sees an old man standing at the end of the pier with an eye-patch, peg-leg, and a hook for a hand. He figures this guy’s got some good stories, so he wanders over and asks the man, “Excuse me, but do you mind my asking where you got your peg-leg?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. I was climbin’ up the rigging, and a rogue wave came along and smashed into the boat. I lost me footing and fell in the water, when a shark came along and bit off me leg.”
“Wow, that’s terrifying! What about your hook?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. We were sailin’ along when we were boarded by a band of marauders! I got in a sword fight with one of ’em and he cut off me hand, so I had a hook put on.”
“Jeez, that’s horrible! Alright, how about the eye-patch?”
“Arr, ’tis a good story, matey. I was out on the deck one day, with clear blue skies all around. I looked up in the sky, and a seagull came along and he pooped in me eye!”
“So, you lost your eye because a seagull pooped in it?”
“Well, ’twas the first day I had me hook.”

=====*=====

Man goes to the library and approaches the front desk. He asks the librarian: “I was wondering if you had the book I ordered? It’s for men with small penises.”

She replies: “I don’t know if it’s in yet.”

He says: “Yeah, that’s the one.”

=====*=====

If trees screamed, would we be so willing to cut them down?
Maybe, if they screamed all the time.

=====*=====

A man walks into the street and hails a passing taxi. “Perfect timing,” he tells the driver. “You’re just like Frank.”
”Who?” asks the cabbie.
“Frank Fielding. He did everything right. Great tennis player, wonderful golfer, sang like Pavarotti.”
“Sounds like quite a guy.”
“Not only that, he remembered everyone’s birthday, was a wine connoisseur, and could fix anything. And his wardrobe – immaculate! He was the perfect man. No one could measure up to Frank.”
“Amazing. How’d you meet him?”
“Oh, I never met Frank.”
“How do you know so much about him?”
“I married his widow.”

 

Ars Est Celare Artes

olympic-rings

The above title is a Latin motto which means ‘The Art Is To Conceal The Arts’. To properly awe an audience with the performance of a difficult task, it is often necessary to make it appear easy.

A comedian, commenting about the Olympics, said that all he understands about gymnastics is this; he hopped into the air, and landed on his feet, perfectly erect, and said, “That’s good!”  He hopped into the air again, and landed leaning slightly backward, so that he had to put a foot back to keep from falling over, and said, “That’s bad!”  To win gold, you have to make it look easy.

I recently had the chance to read the beginning of an online novel by a writer who, like many of us, hopes to be a published author. He’s a member of a highly respected profession.  He’s intelligent and well educated.  He has a (reasonably) good vocabulary and grasp of grammar and composition.  What he is not, is an author – or writer.

I only managed to read the first three paragraphs, before I had to stop, or suffer nausea and vertigo. Here are the three paragraphs.  Remember to take Gravol. (Americans may take Dramamine.)

You are on the beach, watching the swaying of the waves. The waves sweep across the steeps like a flock of stampeding sheep speeding over the steppes, the snaking waves hissing over the driftwood steeped in the sandy wrack.

A squadron of gulls lifts uneasily into the air and then dissipates against the grey sky. You look meaningly at the gulls. They hover, the flurry of gulls. The gulls lull heavily in the air, squealing their dull squeals.

You incline your head downward and stare at the inrushing waves, each one a hungry-mouthed sheep, coming toward you ravenously. The water is deliquescent twenty feet from the shore. Beyond the shoal the surface seems lacquered, solid, unbreachable, enameled, brackish, thick, as if it were a spreading mass of viscous aquatic jelly. From the shore you cannot fathom, through the spume lid, the pelagic fathoms. The lake’s lid is swarming with wavelets, each one undulant and alive—afroth, the lake’s lip, frosting wisps.

That opening is almost as bad as, “It was a dark and stormy night.” This thing has more verbiage slathered on than icing on a Wal-Mart birthday cake.  This is like the parlor of a Nevada brothel – cheap, gaudy and ostentatious.  Typos, overdone alliteration, excess words, redundant words, repetitive words, overly ornate words, eight-dollar words, employed to seem interesting and impressive, but used incorrectly.   Steppes, and steeps, and stampeding sheeps – oh my.

To ‘look meaningly’ is to use a facial expression to convey information to another person. You cannot look meaningly at seagulls, because their tiny bird-brains don’t get it. And speaking of seagulls, I can think of five verbs to describe the noise they make.  ‘Dull squeals’ is not on the list.

Deliquescent means; The process of a solid dissolving or becoming liquid through the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere. That obviously is not happening here. It’s a good, solid, proud word.  It’s just hanging out in the wrong neighborhood.

Instead of smooth, clear, economical communication, this writer seems to have gone out of his way to confuse and impress, and say, ‘Look how much work I went to, to attract and hold your attention.’ It is not concealed. (But it should be!)

spacehounds-of-ipc

I recently re-read E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Subspace Encounter. Doc was the mentor who taught Robert Heinlein much about writing.  An engineer by trade, Doc always used the exactly correct word, and the exactly correct number of words.

In this book, he has Mankind meet another galactic civilization. Physically, they are Human, but their society is vastly different.  Not cruel, but they are pragmatic to the point of making the Spartans look like soft amateurs.

To identify their empire, he coins the word ‘Justiciate.’ This is literary irony.  It is like referring to The People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.  It is not ‘for or by the people.’  It is not a democracy, and it is not a Republic.  There is little ‘justice’ in a society, where the ruler of 180 planets is identified as the Supreme Tyrant.  And the supreme ruler of the red-skinned sect, who wants to kill 90% of those of other skin colors and keep the rest as slaves – identifies himself as The Grand Justice.

Having invented the Justiciate, Doc went on to invent an interplanetary monetary unit for them – the Junex, meaning the Justiciate Unit of Exchange.  For an imaginary empire, he created imaginary money to give believability.  No sheeps or steeps or gulls were needed.

As a young adult, I missed much of his precision. Re-reading it now, with life experience, I have a greater appreciation.  He made it look easy, when it really wasn’t.  I’m glad Jim Wheeler made me do it.  😀

(ARCH)ON The Road Again

SDC10992

SDC10991

WARNING, Long involved DMV bureaucratic rant.
Proceed at your own boredom.

After almost 30 years, my ARCHON vanity plates, first acquired here, are back on the road.  The wife and I bought our last car.  It’s actually a rice-burning, Kia Sorento SUV, which sits high enough that the semi-disabled wife and daughter don’t have to fight to get down into, and up out of.  Properly maintained, it should last 10/15 years, perhaps longer than us.  In any case, the next one’s up to son Shimoniac to buy.

This is the first NEW car we’ve owned in almost 50 years of marriage. We purchased two that were less than a year old, taking advantage of the 30% depreciation in value, but were still new enough to be reliable.

SDC10986

For years, we’ve had the wife’s 3 TEASE plates on our cars, because they were registered in her name, and we’d been told by the DMV that that was necessary. It was all a Lie.

I’ve used the term, ‘DMV’ mostly for my American readers. Here in Ontario, we have the oxymoronically named “Service Ontario.”  That’s where you have to go, for aggravation, incompetence, poverty, hunting and fishing licenses, drivers’ licenses, licence plates, birth certificates, and certified ID cards for people like the daughter, LadyRyl, who can’t drive.

After the heart-stopping negotiation of financing this beast, yea, verily, unto the second and third generations, the first problem came when we had the salesman (try to) put my old plates on my new car.

I gave him my old plates, along with the plate ownership form, and the transfer form. The last sticker was applied in 1987.  When we went back the next day to pick the car up, he handed me back my plates (but not the two forms), and said that the licence bureau wouldn’t let him use my plates because they were registered in the wrong name. We had to take generic plates, and arrange to apply the ARCHON plates ourselves.

A couple of weeks later, we were ready to try. The first thing that the user-(un)friendly Service Ontario did, was ensure that the relatively handy, downtown branch, only 4.2 Km away, DIDN’T PROVIDE AUTO-LICENCE SERVICE.  Instead, we got to drive 9.7 Km to a branch on the other side of town.  We chose a quiet Wednesday afternoon, when the lineup was only 45 minutes long.

The first time we went, we exchanged the generic plates for the old ARCHON plates.  Having a brand-new car, the wife wondered, for a niggling fee of $93.20, if I’d like a brand-new set of plates.  It seems a good idea, except….new plates are no longer paint, baked onto steel.  They are now printed plastic, laminated on, and there have been many cases of them delaminating, costing drivers $55 to replace faulty Chinese manufacturing.  We’ll see how these ones last.

Six weeks later, my new set arrived by mail, and off we set once more, to surrender the old set, and validate the new ones. The clerk picked up each set, and found she had to struggle with the old ones.  They weighed twice what the new ones do.  She’d never seen a set that old.  She wondered why we’d gone from generic to vanity, and then to a new set.

The female branch manager was sitting at the next service wicket, and overheard our conversation. Every time I described what happened, or what I was told, she shook her head.  I explained how I was not allowed to put my plates on a car registered to the wife.  ‘No, you can do that.’ (With the proper, paid-for form)

I bitched that I wasn’t allowed to transfer the ownership of the plates to the wife, without surrendering them to the Provincial Government. ‘No, you don’t have to surrender them.  You can transfer them to your wife.’  (With the proper, paid-for form)  My clerk looked up, surprised.  “They’re registered in your wife’s name now.”  Wait, what??!  After telling me that they couldn’t do it, they changed the plate registration – but didn’t tell me they had??  And we paid to buy the wife her own set, and mine languished for decades??!  So that explains the dealer’s problem. I can’t put her plates on my car.  ‘No, no, I told you that they should have done that.  (With the proper, paid-for forms)

So we transferred plate ownership back to me – for $20. Then the clerk wanted to know where the plate ownership and vehicle transfer forms were.  “I gave them to the dealer, and I never got them back.  I assume that the clerk at the office that they use, kept them.”  Manager is shaking her head again.  ‘They should have been returned.  We’ll have to generate new ones.’

The clerk then charged me $20 to use information that’s already on their computer, to print out an ownership form, and another $20 for the same computer information to print a transfer form, for their own paper files.  The plate licence expires on my birthday, late in September.  Should we renew for just one year – or two??  The manager piped up, ‘The yearly fee is increasing from $100/year, to $120/year, starting September 1.  Why don’t you pre-pay for three years and save?’

I begin to understand why Canada has such restrictions on gun ownership. Do any of you have bureaucratic duel stories (shorter than this) that you want to share??   😯

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRAINRANTS!

Birthday Cake

I sent BrainRants a birthday present!

From comments on previous years’ posts, I knew that BrainRants’ birthday was some time late in January. Using stalker senses honed by sticking my nose into Cordelia’s Mom’s business, I found a link to the employment consultant who was aiding him in obtaining suitable civilian employment.

She’s a lovely lady. Wanting to surprise Rants, I sent her a package, along with a note, asking if she could discreetly forward it to Mrs. BrainRants.  No black helicopters came winging north over the border, only an email saying, “Can do, and did!”

Rants’ new bride doesn’t know me from Santa Claus.  Inside the shipping envelope I included another note, asking if she could hand him the final package on the fateful day.  She obviously knows of his blogging, and coterie of blog-friends.

Perhaps the arrival of strange bundles, delivered in odd ways, isn’t all that unusual. All I know is that the FBI didn’t ask the RCMP to stop around and ask some pointed questions.

SDC10927

SDC10931

During my ongoing housecleaning, I realised that I possessed two commemorative medallions, one bronze, the other aluminum, honoring astronauts, and the Apollo 11 and 12, 1960s Moon Missions. Knowing of Rants’ interest in science, NASA and the moon, I wondered if he might have any interest in them.

SDC10936

I included a shield-shaped Canada shoulder patch which I picked up the day I went to photograph the tank and Spitfire.  I doubt that he has uniforms anymore.  The army made him turn all his stuff in.  He would only wear one for a special occasion, and the Maple Leaf patch would not be allowed because it is non-regulation.

SDC10932

No cost was spared when I packaged his coins in the Costco box I received my membership-renewal Christmas gift card in.

While not ‘strange’, my plan was unexpected and unannounced. Mrs. Rants was apparently willing to go along with it.  She sneaked out an email to confirm that she had received his gift, and presented it to him.  I received another, from him, thanking me for my little piece of thoughtfulness.

This sending of physical packages and actual printed letters seems almost outdated in today’s electronic society. I couldn’t use a drone, because the DC area is a no-fly zone.  Somebody, perhaps Rants himself, would have shot it down.

If you haven’t already, drop in to his site, wish him a Happy Belated Birthday, and really make him feel old. I had hoped that another gift might be the ability to announce that he has secured gainful and productive employment.  We waited – but none of us as hard as him, and now everyone’s wish has been granted.  He scored a job – cube-drone trainee, working under Dilbert.  Still got the training wheels on. Good Luck, Rants, and thanx.  😎

20160207_091955

The presents, as they sit proudly in Rants’ house, at an undisclosed location in the Eastern USA.   😆

 

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Birthday Cake

As threatened promised last week, this is my birthday-blog roast-post. What have you got to say about it?

71 years ago today, I burst upon the scene in a small Ontario town, and I haven’t stopped talking since. Today, I promise to keep it down to just my Elvis impression – Thenk yoo! Thenk yoo vurry much! This is your day to make any and all comments, suggestions, and (humorous) insults.

Do I feel lucky, punk?? Well, do I? Go ahead – make my day!

I hope I enjoy this as much as you.

Lay on MacDuff,
and cursed be he
who first cries,
Enough!

Welcome, and thank you to all my visitors!

 

ARCHON

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.”