WOW #61

Syzygy

The planets have aligned, so it’s a propitious time for me to tell you that we Virgos are very skeptical, and don’t believe in all that Astrology BS.  Rochelle’s weekly FF picture didn’t provide me with any inspiration or creativity, but she did donate a lovely word for a WOW post.

SYZYGY

an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet:

A, I, and O (like O Canada, or O beautiful for spacious skies, in America The Beautiful – not Oh!), are the only words in the English language with no consonants in them – although U, in text-speak seems to be coming on strong.

SYZYGY is the longest word with no true vowels.  It is followed by slyly, and the kids, shy, sly, spy, sty, sky, try, fly, fry, why, cry, by, archaic thy, nymph, and lymph, as well as the crafty lynx. (Have I forgotten any?)  For many years, I thought – and I still wish – that it was pronounced sigh-zih-gee, so that it would demonstrate all three possible sound options for the almost-vowel, Y.  Sadly, it utters the more prosaic, sih-zih-gee.

It has a couple of other, even less common meanings:
Classical Prosody. a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
any two related things, either alike or opposite.

Does this mean that an ash tray, and a frying pan, somehow have a SYZYGY, because they are both objects in my house that people put something into??!  😯

Ahh, English; that beautiful, yet bizarre language.  You don’t have to be crazy to want to try to learn how to speak/write it.  We will train you.  😳  I am also trying to train you to stop back again next week.  Whoever finds and drags back Erato, my muse, before I need her for next week’s Flash Fiction, receives a complementary serving of French toast.  😀

Flash Fiction #229

Hot Air

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

THE WIND’S WILL

He and his wife ran Sundance Balloons for years, offering riders magnificent views of Southern Ontario scenery. They’d booked an African vacation…. because Kenya also had great scenery. They arrived just as COVID19 did.

Because @BlackLivesMatter to them also, officials quickly shut the country tight. He was pleased to discover that Kenyan telecommunications services were better than at his Canadian office. Trapped in an albeit luxurious tent, with his laptop and cell phone he could book rides, schedule employees to provide services, and do the banking.

By the time lockdown was released, he’d have Sunrise Air Safaris organized and operating.

***

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

***

Another feel-good, ripped from the headlines, more-fact-than-fiction story, showing what Canadian, or anybody’s, tenacity and imagination can accomplish.

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Flash Fiction #228

Foreign Food

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

FOREIGN FOOD

Eat healthy they say. You’ll live longer.
Nah…. It just seems like it.

Back in the Dark Ages – pre-Golden Arches – he’d had to satisfy his fat and carb cravings at Canadian-born Harvey’s, and A & W. Finally, Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell oozed north.

Eventually, do-gooder gastro-snobs ruined fast food. Eat Light, add a salad. Salad is a promise that real food will appear later.

Then he drove to Florida, and discovered Checkers. Ah, burger bliss! No sit-down, long before COVID – just two drive-thru cholesterol lanes. Free heart attack with every meal – but what a tasty way to go!! 😎

***

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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Adaptation/Evolution

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When the cats say that it’s time for a nap – IT’S TIME FOR A NAP!

Puppy Litter

When puppies or kittens are born, they quickly learn to huddle together in a ball, especially if Momma’s not there. This behavior seems to come from adaptive evolution. It makes the pile look like a single, larger animal to any potential passing predator. The puppy-pile, or kitten-clowder often has the strongest, alpha, animal at its center, and the runt exiled to the edge.

The greatest benefit of these mounds, is the conservation of body heat. This is particularly important for feral animals which are born outside. Every once in a while – not every litter – a puppy or kitten leaves the safety of the group, adventuresome, daring, brave, inquisitive – to explore its world. This is not a safe or good thing to do. Research shows that any young animal that does this has a 75% of dying. They achieve the label of ‘maverick’, whose origins are explained here. https://atkinsbookshelf.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/the-person-behind-the-word-maverick/

THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL YOU, MAKES YOU STRONGER.

Oh, the vistas to be seen! The world to be explored. The things to be learned. The empires to be seized.

Excess Canadian grey wolves were trapped, and transported to Yellowstone Park, to repopulate the area, after an unusual die-off. Included was a young omega male, a runt which all the other wolves harassed or ignored. Early his first winter there, he disappeared. Park Ranger observers thought that he had starved to death, or been killed.

The next spring, it was discovered that he had crossed over the nearby mountain pass. He had defeated an older alpha male, taken over a pack, and proceeded to mate with the females and produce litters of strong pups to follow him.

Whether you believe that we are merely animals like the rest, or divinely created by a God, human beings would do well to take note of this type of situation. In social, political, or religious situations, great insights are obtained, great things are learned, and great advancements are made, by those who step outside their comfort zone – who leave the warm security of the puppy pile. It’s worth the risk. Be brave! Learn or create something new.

Of course, I want you to continue to do the same old thing, and stop back here again in a couple of days, when my mind wanders off over a mental mountain pass, and breeds a completely different post.

They Don’t Speak English

Canadian Flag

One winter day at the JFK airport in New York, a couple waiting for their flight home to Texas noticed a strange pair of folks all bundled up in parkas, fur hats, heavy gloves and boots.

The Texan Lady, musing over where these strangely dressed people could be from, troubled her husband to the point he responded, ”I have no idea…why don’t you go ask them.”

We all know how curiosity can get the better of someone.

Boldly, she strolled up to the Odd Couple, and with all the charm of Texas, introduced herself:

“Hi, Where ya-all from?”

The heavily clad woman responded: “Saskatoon Saskatchewan.”

Smiling, the Texan replied: “That’s nice.”

As she returned to her husband, he asked: “Well, where they from?”

“Don’t know” she replied, “They don’t speak English.”

Saskatoon Saskatchewan is a city in Canada, and yes, the majority of Canadians speak English.

***

This Man’s Wife Wouldn’t Let Him Go With His Friends, So He Does This.

Four guys have been going on the same fishing trip for many years.

A few days before the group’s annual departure date, John’s wife puts her foot down and tells him he isn’t going. John’s fishing buddies are very upset that he can’t go, but what can they do?

Two days later the three get to the camping site to find John sitting there with his tent set up, firewood gathered, and dinner cooking on the fire, drinking a cold beer.

“Heck John, how long you been here, and how did you talk your missus into letting you go?”

“Well, I’ve been here since last night. Yesterday evening, I was sitting in my recliner when my wife came up behind me, put her hands over my eyes, and asked, ‘Guess who?” I pulled her hands off, and there she was, wearing a nightie.

She took my hand and pulled me into the bedroom, where she’d lit candles and put rose petals all over the place. Well, she’s been reading 50 Shades of Grey.

On the bed she had handcuffs, and ropes! She told me to tie her up and cuff her to the bed, so I did.

And then she said, ‘Do whatever you want.

So, boys, here I am!

***

Orange Juice

A man comes home early from his job at the Orange Juice Factory.  “What’s wrong?” his wife asks.  “Why are you home so early?”  The man shakes his head and looks sad.  “I got canned this morning,” he admits.  His wife asks “Why?”  The husband shrugs and says.  “I just couldn’t concentrate.”

Pickle Jar

A man comes home early from his job at the pickle factory. “What’s wrong?” his wife asks. “Why are you home so early?” The man shakes his head and looks sad. “I did something stupid at work and got fired. I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I stuck my penis in the pickle slicer.” “Oh my God, let me see it.” She examines it closely, but can find no injury or damage. “What happened to the pickle slicer?” “Oh, she got fired too.”

***

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl to marry him. She said no. The guy lived happily ever after.

Flash Fiction #219

High

PHOTO PROMPT © Dawn Miller

IT’S HIGH TIME

So, Canada had legalized marijuana, and he had wound up getting a job with one of the legal grow-ops after graduating from Agricultural College. Given the ‘entertainment’ habits of some of his dorm-mates, it was a surprise that it was him, rather than one of the 4:20 cadre.

He was pleased with the safety equipment his employer provided – gloves, coveralls, respirator masks. His hometown had once been the center of a tobacco-growing area. Each year there had been at least one case of death from nicotine poisoning. Here, about the worst thing that happened, was a nice contact high buzz.

***

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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It’s a good thing that I went back to proof-read one more time. Spell-Check didn’t catch that I had titled this Flesh” Fiction. That’s a whole different genre!   😳 🙄

WOW #52

Dictionary

The United States, and Canada – two counties, separated by a single language.
If you think that’s a problem, compare either country’s speech/writing, with Britain’s. If only they’d all speak the Mother Tongue. Instead, most of them speak in some Motherf**king tongue. It’s like the bloody tower of Babel.

I recently had my ears assaulted from the TV, by the word

MANKY

It was used by the narrator on a (Would you believe it?) BBC archeology show. From context, I knew what he meant – scanty, paltry, mere. It’s a very British, English word. Since I live as near to (almost)French-speaking people, as they do there, I thought that it came from the French word, manqué – lacking, or needing. When I checked, I found
slang:  worthless, rotten, or in bad taste

dirty, filthy, or bad

Word Origin for manky

via Polari from Italian mancare to be lacking

So, I got the lacking, or needing right, but not from French. Polari??! What in Hell is Polari??

A distinctive English argot in use since at least the 18th century among groups of theatrical and circus performers and in certain homosexual communities, derived largely from Italian, directly or through Lingua Franca.

The show I was watching was called Time Team. When the wife first found it, I hoped that it was a paradox-laden Sci-Fi program. Only the Brits could make a series about archeology, interesting. Using actual archeologists to explain what was going on, would be as dull as the dirt they were excavating.

To make it interesting, they added a perky little narrator who runs his own little production company, doing little historical satire films. Suddenly, I understood the homosexual reference.

There is a core group of 10 or 12 experts. They are each the best in their respective fields. Some of them are professors at prestigious universities, with doctorates, and letters after their names. They are not all archeologists. Some are historians, or geophysical investigators, or pottery experts, or a landscape analyst, who knows how the presence of humans alters the scene over centuries, or eons. They all have their regular “day-jobs.” The show began when BBC convinced a bunch of them to rush away from those jobs on long weekends, or what the English call Bank Holidays, and spend three days digging at various sites.

There are only 8 or 9 ‘Bank Holidays’ per year in England, but the series increased to 12 or 13 episodes a year. They did this for 20 years, stopping in 2014, but there have been several ‘Making Of….’ specials produced since. 20 Years??! This show lasted as long as Gunsmoke.

They dug mostly in England and Scotland, with a couple of trips over to Ireland. They did a dig in the Channel Islands, the only portion of Britain that the Nazis invaded and occupied. They did one in France, one in southern Spain, and managed to get all the way to the Caribbean island of Nevis, to investigate 400 years of British sugar plantations.

Check it out! Give it a try. It’s a great idea in the spring, when regular network shows all become reruns – of reruns – of reruns. Caution – you may learn something interesting.

11/11 Remember! Redux

With the exception of a little explanation here at the top, and some added notes at the bottom, this will be a republication of 2016’s, and 2017’s November 11th post. I may not have said it the best that it can be said, but I’ve said it as well as I can say it.

remembrance

No matter what you call it, this is a little reminder that Monday is Remembrance/Veterans Day. Take two minutes at 11:00 AM to stand quietly and remember, respect and honor those in the Armed Services, past and present, who have given so much, so that we can have peace and security.

Take some time Monday – Hell, take all day if you want, and take a bit of time any other day, whenever it’s possible – to shake the hand of a veteran, or current Serviceman. Smile, and say, “Thanks!”

Canadian Flag

veterans

Times, and social situations change. Wars are no longer fought by going to the other guy’s country and shooting him, or just blowing up his shit till he stops being an asshole. In addition to the Vets and current Armed Services personnel, mentioned above, we should also remember to thank and think of (because of the job they do, and the way they must do it, they’re invisible, but invaluable) Intelligence and Internal Security Officers, as well as the folks building SkyNet, who feed info to them, so that they can keep us safe from gas attacks, poison and biological assaults. They also prevent attacks and loss of service to our increasingly technologically-dependent Internet lifestyle, with their Ninja-like handling of all those little 1s and 0s.

I think that it would be nice to see more people wearing poppies, to pay respect for the veterans who fought for us, and fewer people with their heads down, and a cell phone  in their hands.

I want to express my frustration and moral sadness at our skewed priorities regarding the calendar.  Dec. 25 receives far more attention than Nov. 11!  Could we please postpone the Christmas activities and surrounding pageantry, until at least Nov. 12, out of common decency, respect, and gratitude for those who fought and died for the freedoms that we enjoy today??

Book Review #19

Paradox Bound

Paradox Bound

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. Oh, wait – I already published that, here.

Are you folks ready for some social and political commentary and satire?? Well, seat belt in. Here we go.

The book – Paradox Bound

The author – Peter Clines

The review – IN THE BEGINNING, was the United States of America. The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of what they had created, a dream of what it could be, a dream of what they wanted it to be. They wanted their dream to be real, solid, physical. Being (mostly) good Christians, they prayed to the Egyptian god Ptah.

Ptah’s father was an older, greater god. Ptah was a carpenter. He died, and came back to life after three days. Maybe they never noticed the difference – or the similarities. Ptah created a real, physical dream for them. It was stored in a safe place…. then one day, the dream was gone – Lost? Stolen? Went to North Korea with some crazy basketball player and forgot to come back?

Most Americans didn’t notice, or didn’t care, but there were many who did care, and they became the Searchers. 48 men had been created with no faces, only plastic Halloween masks. The faceless men’s mission had been to protect the Dream, but when it disappeared, they only protected their own existence. Their greatest strength was “Certainty.” They knew everything around them. They mined the almost 250 years of records of the entire United States. They hunted down and killed any Searcher who might re-establish the old status quo. These faceless bookkeepers were The Bureaucrats.

Is any of this roman a clé beginning to feel familiar? As a Canadian, it took me a few chapters.

Since this entire story is about the United States, there is no “Time” Travel, only about 250 years of History Travel. Like the Back To The Future movies, a vehicle is required. No speed is needed, only the ability to navigate the slick spaces on the roads and trails of America, to slide from one period or era, to another. Travel up-time beyond 2036 is impossible. If The Dream is not recovered and re-installed by then, American history will unravel, and the world will exist without all the wonderful things it has created.

Older vehicles were preferred, because they were stronger, and simpler, able to be repaired with a hammer, pliers and some string, if they broke down. Horse and wagons were mentioned, but usually early 20th century technology was chosen. The author mentions an Indian motorcycle, and apparently John Henry was a real person, riding the rails in a train he assembled himself.

The writer seems to love classic automobiles. He has different characters riding around in a 1929 Ford Model A Business Coupe, a 1940 Cadillac Sixty Special in factory Oxblood Maroon, a 1953 Hudson Hornet, a 1958 Edsel Corsair, a 1961 Ford Fairlane, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, a 1969 Ford Mustang, a 1970 Dodge Lancer, a 1975 Dodge Dart Sport, and a 1978 Chrysler Newport. Without specific dates, he also mentions ‘tail-finned‘ Cadillacs, which would be from about 1953 to 1960.

Tailfin Cadillac

Since Ptah’s spell only covers the USA, all vehicles must be “American steel.” As an ex-autoworker, I know of American workers, assembling cars in the U.S. with parts produced in Canada, made from German or Pakistani steel. I guess when they cross the border, and get paid for with greenbacks; they become “American.”

Our hero and heroine are the ones driving the ’29 Model A. The author doesn’t know as much about old cars as he lets on. At one point, they make a run for the car. She whips open the passenger door, and “slides across the rumble seat.” I had a mental image of Starsky (or was it Hutch?) sliding across a smooth hood. You don’t do that with a rumble seat! There’s a large, protruding, steel T-handle that could ruin your whole weekend.

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There’s the T-Handle that you wouldn’t”t want to slide across.

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This car had the ‘rumble seat’ removed, so that the space could be used as a small trunk.

After a few more pages, he began to use the terms ‘bench seat’ and ‘rumble seat’ interchangeably. (Click above) A rumble seat is exterior to the small, enclosed passenger compartment of a coupe. It’s like a small trunk, set on the sloping rear deck, that opens to an exposed, upholstered, double seat.

It must be confusing for the History Travelers, to have the paradox of speaking to a person that they have never met, yet who has known them for years of their time-line – to speak to someone they’ve watched die – to observe the same occurrence from two – or three – different perspectives – and get it.

The ultimate paradox was that, since the Searchers had been trying to find the American Dream through 250 years of history, chronologically, the Dream hid itself, in 1963, so that they could all achieve their dream of locating it. It was never really ‘lost.’

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I liked Cline’s The Fold novel last year, about parallel time-lines. Despite its ‘Made In America’ plot line, I really liked this one too. I rate it two cheeseburgers. I’d give it three, but I’m trying to lose some weight again (still). 🌯 Tell me what you’re reading.

High Drama – Low Comedy

Trudeau

Okay! Move along, move along! Nothin’ to see here. Just another Canadian political rant.

I got another Op-Ed letter published. I shouldn’t phrase it like that. I get almost all my submitted letters published. With print newspapers dying, and readers going to social media, the papers are grateful for any Op-Ed letters. It used to be a contest, and the local paper published 4 -6 letters every day. Now, there’s only 2 letters per issue, and often none.

Blackface

Still…. I had this to say about our pretty, young (and pretty young) Prime Minister.

Many people, probably Liberal party supporters, want to excuse Justin Trudeau’s Blackface incident, saying that he did not mean to insult anyone. This is true, because Trudeau is far too narcissistic to care about insulting other races.

If it were an isolated incident, performed by an adolescent, it might be understandable, but it’s only one in a string of bad social choices – a blackface, two brownfaces, and his Mr. Dressup tour of India.

At 29, well beyond adolescence, he attended a black-tie society dinner. 500 guests, 249 men dressed in tuxedos, and Ali Baba Justin showed up – poorly.

We don’t need a drama student, or teacher. We need a mature statesman to lead the country, not an entitled rich kid, leading a high school musical!

India

This is our Prime Minister, Canada. Ain’tcha glad??! This makes Trump look good. Remember this on our upcoming Election Day.