Flash Fiction #183

Retirement Village

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

RETIREMENT VILLAGE

Wuz anybody famous ever born here? Y’alls gotta be jokin’! We wuz gonna have Thoreau Theodore, thuh weather-forecastin’ prairie-dog, but thuh little varmint wouldn’t come outta hiz hole. Wouldn’t matter if’n he seen hiz shadow or not, we’d jest git ‘nother six weeks of whatever’s outside.

Some Eastern dude retired here. Place useta be called Nowheresville – motto, “Civilization’s Thataway ->”. Folks renamed the town after him. Think he wrote a book – sumpin’ about fishin’ at some pond, ah think. Doan know why ennybuddy with a pond ta fish in, would come to a place like this, drier than a popcorn fart.

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Click to hear ‘Wild Horses,’ Canadian Gino Vanelli singing about parts of the US where the population density is so low, that you can be, “a hundred miles out of town.”

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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

’17 A To Z Challenge – S

Challenge2017

ALONE AT LAST

For the letter

letter-s

I’m going to talk about Solitude

Maybe because most of the gregarious masses can’t handle it and I can, I like to think of myself as possessing greater moral and mental strength. Of course, that may be because just about everybody wants to be the hero of his own life’s story, even as I bashfully, humbly, insist that I would willingly be second banana, a supporting player – perhaps the third spear carrier on the left.

Most people, especially in the civilized areas of the planet, can’t handle solitude – are frightened by it. Lenin once said that, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”  He wasn’t referring to ‘God, and Jesus as Savior,’ he was talking about the sheep who huddled together in churches, to reassure each other that they were all the same.  If everybody thinks the same, somebody isn’t thinking.  He wanted them all thinking about him, and the new Russian nation.

When Jesse, The Body, Ventura was Governor of Minnesota, he cynically (but accurately, truthfully) stated that, “Christianity is a crutch.”  Of course it is, even if the faithful don’t want to hear that.  Like Lenin, he wasn’t talking about salvation or belief, but about the need of most people to be connected to ‘The Group.’  No independent action or thoughts allowed.

Archon says that smart phones are an affliction and an addiction. I’ve listened to some of the conversations in stores, and on the street – and they’re about less than nothing!  How strong, and pitiful, the urge is to be constantly connected.  It seems that nobody but me – and you – are capable of living inside their own head for any amount of time.

Before the alleged birth of Christ, Jewish men were alone much of the time – farming, hunting, herding sheep – in solitude.  When they went to the Temple, they wanted to be alone with their God.  It is small wonder that the women, used to nattering at children, and each other, were told that, “Women should not speak in the Temple.”  Silence!  Blessed silence!  🙂

Recently, a young man on a cave tour, was accidently locked in for 60 hours – from Friday afternoon, to Monday morning. He had a bit of food, and got water from seepage – but he couldn’t get any cell phone reception! He was SO happy to be back among his friends.  I’ll bet he didn’t develop or invent anything during that time.  Albert Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity because he was alone much of the time in a German patent office.

(Some) people are nice. I just don’t want to be hip-deep in them all the time.  I want/need a little alone time, even if all I develop is a desire for French toast for lunch.  I have fallen out of my mind head and onto this blog-post.  You can welcome me back.  Comment away.  😀

Book Review #9

 

inferno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be a review of Dan Brown’s most recent book, Inferno – but first, a word from our author – as usual.

I am always leery of “Best Sellers.”  That just means that marketing has appealed to the lowest common denominator, including people who write things that I rant about and make fun of in my usage blogs.  Take out the prurient porn, and Fifty Shades of Grey is really just a shit piece of prose.

So, when The DaVinci Code burst on the scene, I waited till I got a few actual readers and professional reviewers who said it was worth the read, before I dived in.  Lots of action and suspense, it all took place in one, 24-hour period (cute gimmick, that).  I caught many of the background references, but felt there must be more.

A book-reading co-worker lent me his copy of The DaVinci Code Decoded, an explanatory companion volume.  Sure enough, page by page, hundreds of little details turned a rock concert poster into the Bayeux Tapestry.  For example, if you spoke Italian, you would know that Bishop Aringarosa’s last name translated into “red herring.”

I went back, and read his Digital Fortress, and Deception Point.  Not as frenetic as The Code, these were still good solid books.  Later, Angels and Demons had that “many things happening” feeling, while The Lost Symbol was less so, but very enjoyable.

The Book – Inferno

The Author – Dan Brown

The Review

This is another Carnival ride novel, beginning with that reliable old cliché, amnesia.  It all occurs in a couple of days, until returning memory flashes and characters’ comments show the hero (and us) how we got here over the previous three days.

As with The DaVinci Code, I felt that I could use a lot of explanation.  The bad guy is six foot–five, with vivid green eyes.  I thought Brown might be referring to Osama bin Laden, but he was long dead before this book was written, and he personally did not possess bio-engineering abilities.

The plot turns on overpopulation, and how society must collapse if we don’t control it.  It took until 1820, for the world population to reach one billion. In a hundred years, by 1920, the numbers had doubled, to two billion.  In only fifty years, by 1970, the numbers doubled again.  Not merely “added another billion”, but doubled, to four billion, and it appears that, after only another fifty years, 2020, we’ll be hip deep in eight billion of our “loving neighbors.”

Being restrained and “civilized” is all very nice but, if we don’t have a good war or two soon, we’re going to have a bad plague.  As I finished this book, the news spoke of 20,000 dead to Ebola.  You may not get to read this review.

Although Professor Langdon doesn’t remember it, he traveled without a passport from Boston to Florence, Italy.  He goes by train to Venice, and is flown to Istanbul for the grand finale.  The world-travelling author provides great descriptions of many beautiful buildings and locations.

Brown always keeps our mind spun around.  The hero’s amnesia – isn’t.  The “good guys” aren’t always good.  The “bad guys” aren’t really bad.  The perils are only imagined, and the quiet, safe periods often have an avalanche bearing down on them.

one shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concurrent with this book, I was simultaneously reading Lee Child’s, One Shot, and remarked upon the difference of construction.  While far from plodding, Child’s books move in one direction till that plot point is achieved.  Chapters end on one page, and a new one begins on the next page.  They can be 30, 40, 50 pages long, taxing my attention span.

Dan Brown flits and flutters from thought to thought to thought – the hero, the villains, the damsel, the cavalry, the Blue Mosque, and then back around again, perfect for my Adult ADD.  Chapters end where they end – and the next one begins two lines below.  They are often only a few pages in length.  One chapter began on line 40 of the left-hand page, and ended on line 20 of the right-hand page, an entire chapter, less than a complete page long.

The plot-line centers around Dante’s Inferno trilogy poem, and a couple of well-known paintings which illustrate it.  The action and suspense are well built.  While nothing in the book is really what it seems, it still feels believable.  As many good books do, it describes a social problem, and causes the reader to think about both large-scale, and personal solutions to it.

If you haven’t read it already – and this literary Smoothie hasn’t ruined it for you – I suggest you give this book a try.