Flash Fiction # 168

Ali Baba

PHOTO PROMPT © Nathan Sowers grandson of our own Dawn M. Miller

UPON FURTHER REFLECTION

I won’t tell how I came into possession of Ali Baba’s magic lamp.  Let’s just say that I found it before it got lost.

“Oh great, another master, and what will you want?”  Where was the respectful genie from the stories?

First of all, I want a grand mansion.

“Never fear, Master.  I will provide everything you deserve.”

While it appeared spacious, it always felt claustrophobic.  I preferred being outside.  I was doing some decorating.  As I knelt to pick up the new bathroom mirror, I caught the reflection of the real ‘Emperor’s new mansion’ that he felt I deserved.

***

This fanciful Fairy Tale retelling is all the fault of Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site.  Visit there, and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

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2017 Books Read

That title is a calendar reference, not mathematical. I did not read two thousand and seventeen books – I’ve probably read twice that many in my lifetime – just not all last year.

With the daughter’s power wheel chair missing, the wife’s two knee replacement surgeries, more visits to more doctors, and the discovery of yet another crossword puzzle site, my book reading fell off significantly. From 51 books in last year’s post, I was down to about 25 in 2017.

I also reread a few old sci-fi books that I didn’t count, and a few on the list are 700/800 page – one even 1200 page – super-books, the equivalent of 2 or 3 books each. Here’s what occupied some of my time

Charles E. Gannon -Commander Cantrell In The West Indies

1636 Commander Cantrell in the West Indies

Another in the ‘1632’ series about a modern Tennessee town transported back in time, and how the inhabitants struggle to survive, both politically and literally.  Sadly, it’s all alternate history, and no real action, just a reason to sell another 800-page blah book.

Mark Greany – The Grey Man – On TargetOn Target

The Gray Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the ghost writers for the now-deceased Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Jr. series, this author has one of his own action series about an ex-CIA assassin, forced to go independent.

Tom Clancy’s – Full Force And Effect – On Target

Full Force And EffectUnder Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Clancy’s name is the one that still attracts readers, but Mark Greaney and Grant Blackwood are two of 3 or 4 contract writers who pump them out.

Lee Child – Night School

Night School

After four years, I’m caught up.  It has been a most enjoyable series.  There will be one more Jack Reacher book this year, one more Dan Brown novel, and one more Ilona Andrews ‘Magic’ book in 2018.

Ilona Andrews – Magic Binds

Magic Binds

I got out of ‘Magic’ Sci-Fi about 30 years ago, but this series has lots of diverse character and plot development, thought and planning, and action.

Steve Perry – Patriot Threat

The Patriot Threat

A Dan Brown type of author, with a wide range of plot ideas, very enjoyable, but with just not quite the same OOMPH.

James Rollins – Blood Line – The Eye Of God

Blood Line

The Eye Of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Steve Perry, above, a good, solid action/adventure author.

Clive Cussler – Plague Ship

Plague Ship

While not dead, like Clancy, Cussler is old enough that he is co-writing with his son Dirk, and a couple of other commercial writers, as well as establishing the story arc and parameters, and letting them loose.

Will Adams – The Lost Labyrinth

The Lost Labyrinth

A fresh young writer who isn’t likely to die before I do.  His books (so far) are about action and intrigue around Middle Eastern archeological sites.

E.E. (Doc) Smith – Subspace Encounter

Subspace Encounter

A re-read that I downloaded a cover for.  I also re-read his ‘Skylark’ series, The Skylark of Space, Skylark Three, Skylark of Valeron, and Skylark Duquesne.  This year I hope to re-read all 12 of his ‘Family D’Alembert’ series.  While not as prolific as Isaac Asimov, Doc still pumped out almost 50 novels in four different series.

E.C. Tubb – Earth Is Heaven – Melome – Angado – Symbol Of Terra

Earth Is HeavenMelome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AngadoSymbol of Terra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost this series about 20 years ago, after reading the first 26 episodes.  I recently thought of it again, and found that there were seven more available on Kindle.  The original author wrote to number 31 before he died.  He left notes for novel number 32, which his estate hired another commercial writer to assemble.  The story arc almost got the hero home to Earth, so he wrote a happily-ever-after finale to this epic tale.  I read four of them in 2017, and plan to finish the other three this year.

James S. A. Corey – Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes

Recommended by BrainRants, this is the first of five books, being made into a television series on SYFY, which I can’t get here in Canada.  The hero ‘acquires’ a slightly outdated destroyer spaceship, and renames it Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, establishing the whole ’tilting at windmills’ flavor of the story.

Robert Asprin/Linda Evans – Tales Of The Time Scouts II

Tales of the Time Scouts II

Another adventure into the paradoxes of time travel.  This is actually 800 pages of two related stories in one (large) book.

Thomas Cathcart/Daniel Klein – Plato And A Platypus Walk Into A Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar

Another recommended book, although, with apologies, I can’t remember the nice gentleman’s name.  (Stand up Sign in and take a bow.)  This one explores the philosophy and psychology of jokes and humor.  I can’t find its companion, ‘Aristotle And An Aardvark Go To Washington’ in Canada.  I’ll wait till the next time we order something from Amazon, and add it to the order to get free shipping.

Well, that’s (more than) enough about me.  Besides my output, what did you read last year??

A To Z Challenge – W

april-challenge

Whoo-whoo, you’re almost eligible for parole from this letter-perfect piffle.  But first, a word from – my dictionary, starting with

letter-w

Too many Fundamentalist (with the accent on mental) Christians play the definition game, whereby they decide what a word or name means, and use it as justification for hatred and harassment of those who don’t precisely agree with them.

One of the words that sets many of them off, is ‘Witch.’  Their infallible Bible tells them, “Suffer not a witch to live.”  They all know what a witch is, what they look like, how they act, and what they do. (Evil, evil evil!)  Ignoring Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, they focus on the ugly hag, the crone, who is stirring up a batch of bats’ brain, newts’ eyes and frog warts, to cast evil, harmful spells.

My daughter is a witch, and I’m proud of it.  Actually, she’s only kinda, sorta, Wiccan – but there’s many a Good Christian who’s only prevented from having her burned at the stake by strong, secular laws.  She believes in a unifying force of the universe, only she doesn’t believe that ‘It’ is male, and she doesn’t call it ‘God.’

If you’ve read my Rylah Reblog, you know that she’s as loving and caring a person as any judgmental Christian. She gets her morals and ethics from her heart and her mind, not from some list drawn up by a bunch of frightened old men, also listing what you can wear, what you can eat, and who you have to hate, because they’re different.

The witches that ‘they’ believe in, didn’t really exist in the past, and they don’t exist now.  Any witch that I know now, is usually a better, kinder, nicer person, and productive, loving, accepting member of society, than most of these superstitious buffoons.

It’s All Newton’s Fault

I’m not talking about Sir Isaac Newton. I’m referring to Newton Minow, an American who was Director of the FCC during the Kennedy Era.  In 1961, he declared television to be a vast wasteland.  This irritated many within the industry, to the point that, the SS Minnow that washed up on Gilligan’s Island was named after him.

The cost of accessing this wasteland by cable continued to increase. About 12 years ago, we dumped cable, and went with satellite TV.  Satellite rates soon followed Cable rates.  Two years ago, when the wife’s mobility problems meant that she had trouble going down to the basement rec room to watch TV, we cut the satellite cable also.

Almost 50 years of marriage means that we have little new to talk about, so we relied on books to fill the excess time. OH!  WOW!  Last year’s list of 51 books, has increased this year to 57.

Jim Wheeler’s question about rereading books had me going back to reread some old Sci-Fi. I have quite an interest in time travel and temporal paradoxes. Note toward the bottom of the reread section, the time travel group.

pebble-in-the-sky

nemesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tunnel-in-the-sky

spacehounds-of-ipc

the-far-traveller

to-conquer-chaos

the-world-swappers

the-super-barbarians

 

armageddon-2419

the-outposter

starlight

the-dark-light-years

i-aleppo

the-world-at-the-end-of-time

renegade-of-time

serving-in-time

masters-of-time

time-raider-1-wartide

Continuing with the time travel theme, I recently bought and read

tales-of-the-time-scouts

I also purchased Book II, and will read it this year.

a-wanted-man

never-go-back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

personal                                                                                                        make-me

skeleton-coastghost-ship

treasure-of-khan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-judas-strainaltar-of-eden  the-last-oracle

devil-colony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-doomsday-key

the-emperors-tomb  the-jefferson-key

the-kings-deception

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-lincoln-myth

the-alexander-cipher the-exodus-quest

magic-breaks magic-shifts

all-the-rage hosts

fire-with-fire

crazy-english

And a couple from an up and coming author – not published yet, but look forward to them.
He’s Will Greany.

Blue On Blue

blue-on-blue

Domestic

Tank

locked-on threat-vector

command-authoritysupport-and-defend

guns-germs-and-steel  This one came highly recommended by BrainRants.

flesh-and-blood

the-crusades-from-beginning-to-end  Not what was promised.  Quite disappointing!

the-tau-ceti-agenda

hell-hath-no-fury

the-fold

robert-a-heinlein

free-short-stories-2013free-short-stories-2014

Now that you’ve spent all that time lookin’ at the pretty pitchurs, you won’t have time fer yer own readin’.  Sorry!

 

Flash Fiction #115

lanterns

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Light was the first thing to be lost when “The Wave” rolled through. Electricity stopped flowing, technology disappeared and we reverted to the lives our ancestors had endured, hundreds of years ago.

No-one knew what had caused it, but it was the end of civilization as we knew it. The superstitious called it ‘Magic.’  The religious claimed that it was the wrath of God.  Who knew what scientists called it?  All media, including the internet, had winked out of existence!

The Third World countries scarcely noticed it, and Survivalists suddenly had more friends and followers than any Kardashian ever had.

***

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

Criminal Assholed

Grammar Nazi

Alas, poor English language, so assaulted and insulted. You are misspoken, misheard, mispronounced, misunderstood, misspelled, miswritten, misprinted, misrepresented, misused, abused, confused.

The following are only a few of the ways that the more (or less) erudite have mangled the mother tongue recently, some of them professionally. We start with a couple of bloggers who felt the need to include their own definitions.

may the peace of the garden bewith you – Bewith, a word meaning – enchant, enlighten curiously

I think she was trying to define bewitch. Be with is two words, which mean ‘to enter your heart, soul or mind, and remain there.”  The next blogger defined….

gomble – a large risk with no guarantee of success  I’ll gamble that his Spellchecker doesn’t work.  Then on to….

My brain shut down oredi this week – and I’m already pissed that you mumble when you listen.

a still toddering child – toddling? tottering? They’re just making these up as they go.

we are directed, neigh commanded – A horse’s mouth neighs.  A horse’s ass doesn’t know that it’s nay.

My friend became a little two comfortable – because it takes more than one to make that mistake.

an interesting little trieste – in a treatise by a pretentious writer

Jack DeBrul, writing as Clive Cussler – was an instant from firing, before adjusting his site picture.  Stop web-surfing Jack, and see the sights.  He had an old fishing boat – held together with duct tape and bailing wire.  When bailing boats, use a bucket.  Only use wire when baling hay . Later in the story, he had a character ride a motorcycle and – swiftly turn the wheel to avoid a collision.  A steering wheel – on a motorcycle??  Maybe he needs to do that computer research!

choose to lye with the same sex – Ow!  That would smart – If only the writer was.

I remember when Cypress was ‘The War of the Week’ – I remember when Cypress was a large tree, and Cyprus was where Canadian peacekeeping troops went.

The Toronto Sun says ‘Toronto Mayor is not board at council meetings.’ – He looks more like a brick, but I’m bored.

They alluded authorities for weeks – and the correct word eluded the writer.

Dictionary

It never seizes to amaze me – that people don’t know that it’s “ceases to amaze me.”

A Toronto bus driver was punched in the face – over a fair dispute.  I wonder how hard he’d have been punched if it were a serious dispute – over a fare?

I corrected a blogger who published ‘low and behold.’  Damn you Autocorrect, which doesn’t know about ‘lo and behold.’

swallowed chick eyed as slight-of-hand trick – You made a slight mistake!  The phrase is, sleight-of-hand.

Serena ‘pushes the envelope’ with bare midriff, naval ring, – Hello sailor, new in town? – and then wore it in her navel.

Russian fishermen rescued from broken ice float – I’ll float the idea that it was a floe (not a flow).

the likely hood of a revolution – There’s a likelihood SpellCheck didn’t catch this.

Christmas is passed – No, no, laws are passed.  Christmas is past.

an undo emphasis on building walls – Undo your dictionary, and look up undue.

a homeless guy was stabbed in the juggler – by who, a Clown?

murder in disabaled daughter’s death – Another newspaper headline typo that proves that the last proof-reader, like the last dinosaur, is long extinct.

I think I’m ovary acting about this – Then you can’t be Chris/Caitlyn Jenner.

We find are selves back at square one – We should find ourselves back at that dictionary.

A Cambodian student has invented a robot to diffuse landmines.  With 10 million of them in his country, I think they’re diffused enough.  It stabilises the detonator and cuts it out….oh, it defuses landmines.

Crossword clue, cul-de-sac = alley.  No, no!  Alley narrow, open at both ends.  Cul-de-sac wide, closed at one end.  Crossword editor lazy – stupid – pissing me off!

Not an error, but in a recent post I wrote Superbowl as one word, instead of Super Bowl. SpellCheck offered me ‘Superb owl’ as an alternative.  I wish I owned a superb owl.  It could have watched me laugh till I almost peed myself in the dark.

 

Religious Addiction

Bible

A letter came to a pastor recently, from a middle-aged woman determined to take her own life. She has already made an attempt.  She suffers from extremely low self-esteem, depression and other afflictions.

She feels desperate, “cut off from God” and beyond divine forgiveness. Certain readers will already be saying to themselves that she needs to be “saved,” to be “born again,” and to join a church where they “preach the Gospel.”

However, this woman has already been through all that. A Theologian read her letter and felt it was quite obvious that she suffered from far too much literalistic fundamentalism already.  Like hundreds of similar others over the years, she is being tormented by the very religion she once turned to for comfort and “salvation.”

Briefly stated, she is suffering from a form of religion that is ‘bad religion.’ It’s growing and becoming very powerful in some quarters today.  It can look successful on the outside, even imparting a glazed but glowing countenance, but it can tear apart people’s souls.

This form of ‘addictive’ religiosity is not confined to circles dominated by TV evangelists or excessively zealous priests. It cuts across all Christian denominations and, in varying degrees, all other faiths.

Here are some of its major characteristics. It touts black and white answers to every problem – from hormone issues (sex), to when and how the universe was formed.  It encourages passive dependence on a host of authorities, from sacred texts, to faith leaders at every level.  It fosters simplistic, ‘magical’ thinking.  It diminishes one’s autonomy, self-reliance, confidence in one’s own inner voice and ability to grow either emotionally or intellectually.

It views all other faith stances as wrong – or even Satanic, leading to “Hell.”  Such a system whines a lot about what “miserable sinners” we all are and yet never asks itself why it leaves such incredible guilt, anxiety and loss of self-esteem in its wake.

Priest

Yes, it can produce an overinflated ‘high’ at being on the “winning side,” as “God’s elect,” but at a terrible price. This is referred to as loss of authenticity and of one’s inner convictions.  The God being served is too often a narrow, small, vengeful, tribal deity, who is nonetheless supposedly loving.

The Churchman reflected on this phenomenon as he worked on answering the suicide note. Suddenly, with a genuine synchronicity, his mail arrived with a copy of an article from Pastoral Psychology, a magazine dedicated to learned articles on various aspects of soul-care – mainly for clergy, psychotherapists and other counsellors.

It was titled “Religious Addiction, The Subtle Destruction Of The Soul.” It was written by Patricia Anne Venderheyden, a psychotherapist in private practice in London, Ontario.  Her Master’s thesis is from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, and was focused on this same issue: religious addiction.

As she told him in an interview, this isn’t a subject that has received much attention in the past. It certainly deserves it today!  She had pondered for many years, beginning with her own experiences of certain faith groups, why it is that so many in every religion gravitate to authoritarian cliques with such alacrity and yet, in the end, with such disastrous results.

She wrote: “I observed how people’s inner authority was compromised in order to fit in with a system of belief whose standards were impeccable – and unattainable. I saw people accepted into groups only if they ‘jumped through the right hoops’, dotted their i’s and watched their p’s and q’s.” The ‘addicts’ had a show of freedom, yet their proclamations seemed ‘hollow and empty.’

She saw many such persons blindly accepting the words and advice of religious elders. All critical awareness and thinking for themselves had long since been suppressed.  “The addicts wanted to be told that he or she was absolutely right, and that any form of questioning is evil.” she said.

Certainly, authorities can help someone at first, but if they are compulsively used ‘as a way of avoiding one’s own reality,’ they ruin one’s hopes of ever becoming mature in either mind or spirit. The addicts she describes are ‘religious junkies,’ obsessed with mood alteration and a quick fix to face life.

There’s no need to assign blame. Religious leaders can nurture an addictive faith unwittingly by never stopping to ask questions of the style and content of their ministry, such as: To whom does it cater, and why?  With what results?

Believers who are really avoiding the shame and pain within by refusing to tackle it, and by ‘leaving it all to God,’ need to stop and realize that the rigidity and exclusivity of addictive religion can one day leave you empty, out of touch with your real self and, hence, engulfed by fear and despair.   😦