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.

SDC10136

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

SDC10135

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.’

the-fold

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.

A Humor Test—See How You Do

Divorces………………..Not yet….
Children………………….2
Surgeries………………..I didn’t know there was going to be a test. I didn’t study. Let’s see…. Tonsils, hernia, shoulder, same eye twice…. Makes 5 – so far, with one little laser touch-up to come.
Piercings………………..1, an ear stud, that a dog pulled out, and has now grown over
Tattoos………………….0 – chicken-shit procrastinating
Shot a gun………………yes – Hell Yes, rifles, shotguns, pistols – May I have some more please?
Quit a job………………..yes, 18 months after I didn’t get my 3-month probationary raise
Ever been on TV………..no – well, maybe CCTV, but I was never identified. I’ve been mentioned on radio several times.
Been in a fist fight……No! Getting in a fist-fight just proves how stupid, unprepared, drunk, and/or testosterone-fuelled you are.
Hit a deer………………..No. I fed a few deer that almost climbed into the back seat of the car, in a Provincial Park.
Watched someone give birth……..I barely showed up for the conception. That’s someone else’s job.
Watched someone die……not quite – recently visited a sister-in-law in a hospice – she died the next day.
Ridden in an ambulance……….yes, the day I fell off my motorcycle and smashed my shoulder
Visited Las Vegas……no – I’m poor, and Canadian. I’ve visited Niagara Falls, it’s kinda Vegas-Lite
Sang karaoke………….no – I don’t frequent bars, especially karaoke bars.
Rode a Jet Ski…………no – I was young and stupid daring before jet skis were invented. I have walked on water with 2 large Styrofoam ‘boots.’ I’ve run an 8-foot hydroplane boat up and down a river. I’ve helmed a 22-foot catamaran for 5 minutes in calm, lake water, and piloted a 4-seater plane for 15 minutes, managing to keep it in a clear sky. I’ve also piloted several snowmobiles, both in virgin snow, and on hard-packed trails.
Ice skating……………..yes, of course. This is Canada. We’re born with skates on.
Surfing…………………… yes and no – Never with a surfboard, but I’ve body-surfed 8-foot rollers coming in off Lake Huron after a big storm.
Ridden on a motorcycle…………yes, a dozen or more, both as a passenger, and as the rider, including 5 of my own.
Stayed in a hospital…… yes – The visit after I fell off my motorcycle and had my bionic shoulder installed.   It was supposed to be a quick three-day stay. I was trying to man through the pain, but my wife and daughter both urged me to use the pain-pump, because they thought that it held Demerol. It didn’t! It was morphine sulphate, which lowered my normally low blood pressure even farther. After three days on my back, I crawled out of the bed to get dressed, and sank to the floor. I was sentenced to another three days, while they subjected me to every test to find out why.
Ridden in back of police car ……………no – I have voluntarily entered police cars, both in the front, and the back, but was always allowed to walk away. One night, I sat in the back with a cat-and-dog (him/her) team, giving a report about a theft from a car in a hotel parking structure. I was offered a beer from a six-pack on the floor in the front.

Now u know everything – or as much as I’m willing to fabricate admit.

Copy & paste, then change with your own answers.

This was interesting, nosy, and a better way to get to know a blogger on a personal basis than most of the other lists. This is more like an eye test after my second eye operation. If it was a test to find the humor in it, then I have failed. C’mon, have a go! I’m particularly interested in the responses to ‘Ridden in the back of a police car.’   🙄

 

Buy And Sell

CB750K

My first motorcycle was little more than a scooter, an anemic little, 450 CC ‘learner bike.’ After I’d got a year’s safe riding experience, and resisted the impulse to let’er rip, I decided to trade up to something a bit bigger, more powerful, and able to carry my fat ass adult frame.

I saw a 750 CC model that I liked, advertised in the newspaper. It said, “Available to view any time” so I rode over. Somebody’s wife let me have a look at it. He had removed part of the front fairing, and dismantled the air-intake system. “Are you interested?” It seemed that she was interested in getting rid of it.

When I jostled it, there was no slosh from the gas tank, and it had sat so long that the tires were soft. It had been ignored, perhaps neglected, for some time. Probably the battery needed a charge. I told her that I wanted to know for sure that it would start, first time – every time. I wanted to hear it run, and I’d like to take it out for a short test ride. It seemed in good shape basically, with low mileage (Canadian kilometrage).

“I’ll get my husband to put it all back together and get it running some night this week, or on the weekend. Come back in a week, and it will be ready.” I didn’t get back for almost two weeks, and thought it might already be sold. No worries, it was still in parts.

“Would you like to take it?” I don’t take any pig in a poke – “I don’t think so.” “Well, I know my husband wants to sell it.” I said, “No he doesn’t. If he did, it would be ready to ride away. He wants somebody to just come along and buy it. That’s a very different thing.”

Which brings us, by motorcycle, to a recent blog-post, titled, I’m 34 And Never Been Kissed. I’d like to feel sorry for this gal, I really would. Heaven knows, she started out in life with several strikes against her. She was born and raised in a Fundamentalist Christian small town near Waco, TX. She was home-schooled by her mother, and not allowed to date, or use makeup, till she was 16.

By the time she entered the social swirl, the gals who’d been ridin’ herd on the guys, since they were 11 and 12, had them all roped in and hogtied. She saw some fellas that she was interested in, but didn’t know how to show enough interest in them, to get them interested in trading up.

It only got worse when she went to University. Her girlfriends and fellow-students were all too busy with boyfriends, and fiancés, and engagements, and weddings, and careers and/or families to even pass along some rejects.

She studied hard at school, got great marks, and got a fantastic job with a generous salary. She has a BMW, and a well-furnished condo in an upscale, security building. She has female friends that she socializes with. What she doesn’t have….is a man.

She says that she doesn’t even want a man, just for the sex. She would like someone to talk to about their life, someone to kiss her, and hold her hand, and pat her back and maybe rub her feet, and cuddle with on the couch, while they watch TV.

Her female friends tell her that to get a man, she’s going to have to put some work into it. She dismisses that suggestion by saying that she’s not going to change who and what she really is, just to trap a guy. I believe that she is mistaken, and misinformed.

There is no need to make any basic changes. She may have a wonderful product, but it needs to be marketed. She doesn’t want to leave her comfortable rut to sell herself. She just wants someone to come along and buy. Without some advertising, any suitable guys won’t even know that the product is available. 😛

 

Flash Fiction #184

Pizza

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER

His mother ruined his lazy summer by insisting he help his cousin Roberto open a pizza shop??! Yet another pizza shop in Florence – the home of pizza? But Roberto had an idea….

BOB’S
AMERICAN PIZZA
FINEST INGREDIENTS
FAST DELIVERY

Delivery?? We stay at home; hot food comes to us?? Great idea!!

An idea whose time had come. They did a landslide business from day one!

He had spent a glorious summer, riding up and down the winding streets of this magnificent city – and received enough tips to be able to buy his own motorcycle.

Molto grazie, cousin “Bob” – and Maman.

pizza

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

Olio Humor

Margarine

Little Johnny asks his mom, “Mom, do all fairy tales begin with ‘Once upon a time in a faraway land’?”
“No darling,” says his mother, somewhat distressed, “Sometimes, they can begin with ‘I’ve got too much work in the office tonight, I’ll be home late’.

***

If you go get yourself a cup of coffee, your boss will ask you to do something that will take just long enough for the coffee to get cold.

***

My therapist told me to finish things that I started.

Today I finished two bottles of wine and a cake.

I feel better already.

***

Mother: “How was school today, Patrick?”

Patrick: “It was really great mom! Today we made explosives!”

Mother: “Ooh, they do very fancy stuff with you these days. And what will you do at school tomorrow?”

Patrick: “What school?”

***

Marriage is a relationship where one person is always right, and the other is a husband.

***

An Englishman, a Frenchman, a ravishing blonde, and an old lady are sharing a compartment in a train, as it winds its way through the Alps.

On one such occasion, a ringing slap is heard and, as the train passes back into daylight, the Frenchman is rubbing his sore, red cheek.

The old lady thinks, “I bet that dirty Frenchman fondled the blonde and she struck the pervert.”

The blonde thinks, “I bet that filthy Frenchman was looking to grope me in the dark, mistook the old lady for me and she slapped him.”

The Frenchman thinks, “I bet that perfidious Englishman touched up the blonde in the dark and she slapped me by mistake.”

The Englishman thinks, “I can’t wait for another tunnel so I can slap that French twit again.”

***

129% of people exaggerate.

***

The nurse said to me, “We need a stool, urine and semen sample.”
I turned to the wife and said, “Ehh??!  What did she say?”
She replied, “They want your underwear.”

***

Restaurant Sign
We serve vegetarians.  Please tell us how you’d like them cooked.

***

Ex: You’re fucking stupid
Me: You’re fucking proof

***

Do clouds ever look down and say, “That one looks like an idiot?”

***

I looked out of my window in horror yesterday as a crowd gathered around a crashed motorcyclist with minor injuries. I rushed outside yelling, “Let me through, let me through.” A man at the front said, “Thank God for that, are you a Doctor?”…………..

………..I said, “No, that’s my fucking Pizza.”

 

Off-Beat Challenge – Piercings And/Or Tattoos?

Tattoo

The son’s tattoo – all designed and ready to go, but not installed.

I have never got a tattoo because I have absolutely no imagination – and I got my ear pierced for exactly the same reason.

I have not wanted to be part of the madding crowd, but I never wanted to be too far away, for protective camouflage. I don’t want to be one of the flock, but I don’t mind grazing in the same meadow.  Any wolves are more likely to take down a fat young sheep, than a grumpy old goat like me.

I’ve worn cowboy-type boots for almost 50 years, since I found a pair on sale at K-Mart, the first year we were married. In the 1980s, when I was having my mid-life crisis, I didn’t buy a red sports car.  I got the first of a series of second-hand motorcycles, and a black leather jacket to go with it.

The wife and son and I went to an evening movie when there were still theaters downtown. When we came out and headed home, we were confronted with a gaggle of 6 or 8 Goths with a blaring boom-box the size of a VW van, randomly sprawled across the sidewalk.

The wife said later that she was a bit worried about this bunch. Then she looked at me on one side, with my motorcycle boots and leather jacket. On the other side was 6’-2”, hairy, Grizzly Adams-like son, wearing a sort-of sombrero, an ankle-length oilskin duster out of a spaghetti western, and steel-toed work boots.

When it became obvious that we weren’t going to step out into the street to go around this puddle of anti-societal slush, legs and feet were quickly withdrawn into standing or lotus positions.

I went with a co-worker after an 11 PM shift-end, to an upscale roadhouse/bar. The fussy little hostess wanted me to remove my jacket before he’d seat us.  When I asked why, he replied that it looked very much like a motorcycle jacket.  “What a coincidence!  My bike is parked right outside.”  Well, some of the other patrons might feel intimidated, and would I please take it off.

During my change-of–life rebellious period, even before I got my bike and jacket, I thought that I might like to get a tattoo and/or an ear stud. I recently saw a photo of a pretty, young female custom-cake maker in New York, sporting two forearms covered in tattoos.  Back in the ‘80s, tattoos were transgressive and subversive.  She’d have been a professional wrestler, a biker chick, or a stripper.  They have gone from being questionable, to de rigueur.

I had a gold, eagle necklace pendant. Did I want an eagle tattoo??  I had a sweatshirt, a slab of slate, hand-painted by the daughter, and a light switch plate with wolves on them.  Did I want a wolf??  I didn’t want to be identified as either a Star Trek, or a Star Wars nerd.  What else?  What else??!

I’d like to claim that I had decision paralysis, where I couldn’t choose among so many options, but the sad truth is that I just wanted to seem to be a bad boy, but didn’t have enough imagination to know how.

During a discussion while I was composing this post, the loving son helpfully suggested that I have D N R (do not resuscitate) tattooed across my chest.  Like a dead child, dark humor never grows old.

A younger female co-worker asked me if I would give her a ride home, and stop at a nearby mall, so that she could quickly pick up a couple of things. On the drive, she told me that she’d got her second tattoo, but she couldn’t show it to me – right then – because it was inside her bikini line.

Poor tattoo artists. They see it all – even if they don’t want to.  They wear rubber gloves while they work, to prevent infection in either direction, but I’ll bet that a lot of them wish that they could wear a blindfold sometimes, while they work.

As we went from one store to another, she told me that she intended to add a piercing. She didn’t volunteer the location, and I valiantly refrained from asking, or even showing any interest.  I mentioned that, along with the absent tattoo, I’d often thought about getting my ear pierced.  Suddenly, she literally grabbed me by the earlobe, swung me around, and pushed me toward a jewelry store whose window ad read, “Ears Pierced – $10.”

Within a minute – ZAP – I had a cheap piece of glass-chip and plated wire installed in the side of my head.  I objected that, since I only got one piercing and one stud, the price should only be $5.  The clerk insisted that there were no reductions….but she did add the other one as a third stud in my friend’s left ear.

Surprisingly, the wife didn’t make a fuss about it – although she did insist that we visit a reputable jeweller as soon as was convenient, and swapped it out for a $80 gold and sapphire (my birthstone) version.

I wore it proudly, and rebelliously, for over 20 years, until one day I stopped in to see the daughter. She had acquired a frisky young, female German shepherd, who insisted that I kneel or bend down so that she could lick my entire face.

One day, as she put a paw up on my shoulder, she must have caught it with a toenail. Fortunately, she only popped the back off, and didn’t rip it from my earlobe.  Assuming that it was still there, I went about a week before I noticed that it was missing.  By then, it was too late to search for it, and the hole had started to heal closed.

Society, and its norms, has greatly changed since the ‘80s. Neither tattoos nor piercings have the cachet they did back then.  At 73, I don’t plan to add either.  It’s just as well.  With all the old folks medical procedures I’ve had, and presumably will have – the clinics and the hospitals have signs that insist that ALL jewelry and piercings must be removed or treatment will not be given.   😳

2017 A To Z Challenge – N

*Challenge2017

Our Canadian Postal Code is N2N 3B4.  When asked for it, to prevent mistakes due to misheard pronunciation, we tell people that it is, “Not too new, three before.”

For the letter

letter-n

I downloaded these prompts;
negotiate, no, new, news(papers), notes, not my problem, Niagara, night, name, nothing

In no particular order;                   

I have already composed and published a post about ‘It’s Not My Problem’ here, for anyone who wants to (re)read it.

I live about an hour and a half drive from Niagara Falls, Ontario.  It’s an unusual year that I don’t take the wife, the son, or both, for a day or a weekend there.  I published a 100-word Flash Fiction about it here,  including a great photo of the night-time colored lights on the American side, buried in the comments.

I’m so old that nothing is new anymore.  I’ve seen it all, done most of it, forgotten a bunch, and been caught at very little.

I’ve written about my lack of memory, a problem that I partially solve with copious notes.  See – prompts, above.

I’m sure like many others, my wife is addicted to the word no, and doesn’t even realize it.  (and I’m not gonna mention it)  The first word of response to any question or request, is likely to be, “No.”  Maybe it comes from raising children or grandkids. “Do you want me to put the rest of this stew in a Tupperware container, and put it in the fridge?  We could have it for lunch one day next week.” “No.  I want to save it for a lunch next week.  Put it in a Tupperware container and put it in the fridge.”

For no reason, other than that I never have, I continue not to reveal my first name on my blog-site.  I kinda discussed this back on M’s misidentification post.  Call me Ishmael Archon.

Several years ago, the Waterloo Region Record newspaper switched to being a ‘morning’ paper, guaranteed to be to your house by 5:30 AM.  When it was an afternoon paper, it was delivered by reliable school-kids after class.  Now, it is delivered to me by a Jamaican Negro in an old truck.  Since the son works midnights, he has the car, and the driveway is empty.

Rasta-Man rolls down the hill in neutral, rolls up our slanted driveway and puts the brakes on, flings the paper out the driver’s window left-handed, and rolls back out of the driveway. He’s only touched the house with the paper twice in that time.  Once, it landed on my porch roof, and the other time he pitched the heavy Saturday edition through the porch railing, snapping one of the support spindles.  I have found it in two different gardens, stuck up in our magnolia bush and so far under it that, like the porch roof delivery, I had to use a broom to get it.  Often it lands at the garage corner – right where the eave drips after a rain, or a snow melt.  Fortunately, they come in a plastic bag, although I’ve had to defrost an ice-coated paper.

Last summer, he must have taken vacation. On the first Monday, I called circulation because I didn’t get my copy.   Someone drove one out to me.  We don’t get mail home delivery, but I have a mailbox for things like newspapers.  Tuesday, as I went out to look, something made me look in the box.  Sure enough, there were Monday, and Tuesday’s papers, and so it continued for two weeks.

One time, at the auto-parts plant, I was invited to join the Labor team who would negotiate a new contract.  I politely declined.  It takes a particular type of person, and my boredom level is quickly reached.  Diplomacy is also defined as tact, or restraint, or good manners.  Like diplomats, people who negotiate Labor contracts have to get used to repeatedly saying ‘nothing’, for days, weeks, even months, until finally someone cracks.

One year, we mistakenly elected a big ‘Buffalo Biker’ as union president, to lead the team. We thought that he would frighten the opposition.  He screamed and yelled and stomped around the room, and pounded on tables….but, that’s not the way you successfully negotiate.  It was the worst contract we ever attained.  😳