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That’s The Sound…of a Man Milking On The Chain Gang

That’s The Sound…of a Man Milking On The Chain Gang

Chain Gang. The word conjures up visions of prisons in the deep south marching out their population into the hot sun to toil on the sizzling blacktop or in the scorching fields . These days the words conjure up a different scene.

The sun beat down on the prison yard demanding submission but the yard nor the prisoners working in it would yield. Occasionally a complaint would echo across the yard. Something about their hands were getting tired or they needed some water and a guard would come by with a ladle of water to quench their thirst.

They would love nothing more than to sing the hours away but that would disturb the goats. Goats?

Today , somewhere in Colorado, a prison farms out some of its population to milk goats. This isn’t your grandpa’s chain gang. There is no repairing roads or working the fields in stifling heat for these convicts.

The prisoners are hired by a small company that produces craft goat cheese. Yes, you read that correctly. Craft goat cheese. The State that gave us the Home Brewers Association and sparked the micro-brew/craft beer phenomenon now gives us prisoner assisted Craft Goat Cheese.

The company that hires them says that they cannot find enough workers other wise and that they are providing the prisoners with a work skill they can use after prison.

I guess it beats the default vocational plan of turning first time rookie offenders into more skilled future offenders.

One can’t help but wonder if the craft craze will influence the convicts towards other vocational pursuits in the future.

“So Vincent, You are here for some career advice?”

“That is true Mr. Delaney”

“Please call me Nuckles”

“Ok Mr. Nuckles”

“Just Nuckles. So what is it you want?”

“Nuckles, I’m getting out soon and I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do on the outside.”

“What are you good at? I’m assuming what got you in here is not on the list.”

“Yea, I wasn’t much of a boost, I had no effect on theft rates in my neighborhood.
The vandalism rate was another story. I did a lot of damages to those cars before I gave up. “

“Well, that’s something.”

“While I was in here I got pretty good at icing guys.”

“Really? How many?”

“About eight.”

“About?”

“Well, one guy slipped on some soap in the shower before I had a chance to do anything but I took the credit.”

“You must have been good since I didn’t hear nuthin about it. It sounds like you have a vocation already.”

“I’m thinking about it but there are so many guys in here that will get out and do the same thing. I’m not sure I can make a go at it.”

“What you need is a hook. Does the term craft killer mean any thing to you.”

“Sounds like a murderer with a cheese fetish.”

“No, but I think there are some of those out there too. The kind of guy I’m talking about
is a killer that cares about the quality of his work. A guy who uses the finest weapons, high grade chloroform and duct tape to get the job done. A guy who you would be proud to have kill your best friend.”

“Wow, I’d like to be that guy.”

“You could and I’ll show you how. It will only cost you a carton of cigarettes a week and not those cheap generic ones. I want top shelf quality.”

“Ok, I can’t wait to start.”

“You already did.”

“Huh?”

“Top shelf quality is lesson one.”

Modern Chain Gang picture by Patrick Denker.

The Fading Echoes of ’69

The Fading Echoes of ’69

Most of my memories of the summer of 1969 are composed of the sounds of the crack of a bat and the calls of the Wrigley Field venders. I was a seven year old living on the Northwest side of Chicago. Naturally, I was* a Cub fan.

1969 is remembered as the one that got away from the Cubs. They were 9 games up in their division going into September before going on a disastrous road trip.

Some say they should have just thrown away their return tickets and kept on going.

1969 never got away from me. The bus extravaganzas my friends and I took to Wrigley. The contests to see who could eat the most 50 cent pizzas. The beautiful ‘lets play two’ days spent in the bleachers of the friendly confines are events deeply embedded in the joyous memories of my youth.

One by one the heroes of my youth are passing from this world but the joyous memories from that magical summer only gain strength.

The voice of Ron Santo no longer echoes the joy and sorrow of the days game on the radio but my mind continues to replay the image of his heal click celebration of another win.

The gorgeous summer days in Wrigley that inspires ones thoughts to “lets play two” will still occur with regularity but Ernie Banks, the author of that sentiment, will no longer express that desire. My soul however will continue to do just that.

The authors of that wonderful summer in Chicago may pass but the chapter they wrote will continue to contain memories that live in my heart until I too fade into echoes.

My sincere thanks to Ernie and Ron for being a wonderful part of my childhood.

*I only use the term ‘was’ because of grammatical correctness. Outside the realm of grammar the past tense of ‘to be’ does not make sense when paired with any form of the term ‘Cub fan’.

A Catharsis Is Required (cont) : Twas The Night Before Christmas

A Catharsis Is Required (cont) : Twas The Night Before Christmas

Well , I thought I was on the brink of a holiday epiphany but it hasn’t quite happened yet.

Perhaps it is  because the temperature in the land of Oz approached 40 degrees and the chance of snowflakes looks to be nil.  I thought perhaps since my drive last night was a bit treacherous due to wind, snow and ice that holiday weather may make its way a bit more east but that was not to be.  The next and final installment of my Black Friday series and the accompanying mountain snow image  should push me over the edge and into holiday-palooza-land.   Three hyphens there folks so that word is totally legit.

“Black Friday: Twas The Night Before Christmas”……ooh I can feel the joy already…or perhaps its the rum…..

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
were toys on display including a vintage Mickey Mouse.
There were games, there were gadgets, displayed in glass cases.
The collector was wary and kept his guests at fifteen paces.

The collector had food and drink to serve in his lair.
He would bring out his Pong to show off with fanfare.
The party was happening and many carols they did sing.
Until a band of toys appeared and a door bell they did ring.

The collector opened his door and failed to see
a band of toys underfoot as they scurried with glee.
With a major their leader so authoritative and quick
I knew it was Matt Mason, gosh he was slick.

More rapid than beagles his bandits they came
He whistled and ordered and called them by name.
On, Jan! On, Stosh! The Robots there were two.
On Yo!, On Larry, and perhaps a cow who did moo.

On Major! On Batman, who joined in the fun.
To rescue their friend, a brand new Xbox one.
To the top of the shelf and back towards the wall
Steal away! Steal away! Steal away all!

There was noise, there was chaos as the the batman yelled things not so holy.
He had a right to be upset for he landed in the guacamole.
When their friend was collected and their mission near over.
They all made a getaway in Major Mason’s moon rover.

The party lay in ruins, guacamole tracked across the floor.
The collector was convinced he would collect toys no more.
The band was merry and oh such a sight
as they danced and they darted off into the night.

So let that be a lesson to toy collectors all
prepare for uninvited guests at your next christmas eve ball.

So I in my kerchief all snug in my bed
decided my vision was just a dream in my head.

I finished off my Scotch and curled up in a ball.
With thoughts of good cheer and a Merry Christmas for all!

A Catharsis is Required (cont): The Gathering

A Catharsis is Required (cont): The Gathering

Doing some holiday shopping seemed to set me on the road to non-humbugery. There is a high probability that is not a word but if there is one thing I have learned is that a hyphen heals all.

The snow falling on me while shopping didn’t hurt either and  discovering some new restaurants and coffee shoppes certainly helped. Who knew Boulder could support a few more. With the micro brew industry and the coffee cabal this town has cornered the market on depressants and stimulates.  So before I wander over to my espresso maker I will post the next installment of my Black Friday series. It seems to be uplifting my mood and I believe it’s attracting new fans,   people who are too exhausted to click on the remote and whose browser just happened to stumble by this blog.

Without further ado I give you  “Black Friday: The Gathering (Vintage Vendetta)”

Larry had been moping all afternoon. Xena was gone and he could not fill the void left behind. No matter how he reconnected his pieces he still had a big gap somewhere.

Yo had to listen to Larry whine all afternoon and it was killing him. It was time for some action, besides the only lubricant he had only worked on Yo-Yo(s).

“All right Larry quit your belly aching. It’s clear you are not going along with my ‘there is another XBox just around the corner’ philosophy. Besides I admit you were right,  Xena had that certain whatever the French say she had.”

“A certain I don’t know,” replied Larry.

“Yea I don’t know either but you know what I mean,” said Yo.

“Um, sure.”

“My point is we need to go get her. You’re not the only one who had a narrow escape from that vintage collector Larry.”

“If I recall correctly his name is Vince,” said Larry.

“Vince? Like short for Vintage? Your kidding me,” exclaimed Yo.

“Hey I don’t make these names up . That’s some other guys job,” replied Larry.

“Well this Vince guy has put the fear of Mattel in a lot of old toys I know and quite a few would be willing to help,” said Yo.

“You don’t say. And you can round them up in a moment’s notice?” asked Larry.

“Yep,” said Yo as he winked. “They’re also living here on the down low.”

“How come I don’t know them?”

“ Because as a box Larry you tend to be, um how do I put this, mobility challenged.”

“Fair enough. So who are these toys?”

“I’ll tell you what. I will go round them up and introduce you to them,” replied Yo.

“Ok Yo. I’ll be here moping.”
 said Larry.

“Ok, but you better snap out of this funk by the time I get back or you won’t be able to inspire the other toys to march into the mouth of danger.”

“Mouth of danger?” asked Larry.

“Hey I don’t make up these metaphors. That’s some other guys job.” laughed Yo and added “I’ll be back.”

“Was that an Austrian accent?” asked Larry. But Yo was gone. I could have sworn that was an Austrian accent.

Yo soon returned leading a parade of refugee toys. Larry took one look and thought he was suffering from flashbacks. If he listened carefully he could have sworn he heard either Wagner or maybe the theme to the three stooges playing in the background.

“Form up on me everyone.” ordered Yo.

It was clear he was either getting into the proper spirit of the moment or suffering from delusions of grandeur. Larry was voting for the latter.

There was a clatter of chaos and then from under a pile of what appeared to be every popular toy of the 70’s the voice of Yo could be heard screaming “I meant literally folks.”

“I think that’s figuratively Yo,” shouted Larry.

“Yea, they know what I mean.”

“No, it’s obvious they don’t. That’s why you are currently buried by them.” replied Larry.

A few moments later the pile had broken up and had formed a nice neat line.
Strutting in front of the line, as much as a Yo-Yo can strut, was Yo.

“Alright Larry, let me introduce our volunteer army or what I like to refer to a Yo-Yo’s little helpers.”

“Yo, you are starting to suffer delusions of grandeur.”

“What? Grand Illusion?” I didn’t know you were a Styx fan?” asked Yo.

“Um, up until they became a love ballad smorgasbord but I meant that you are starting to let your ego run away with you. Besides, you make them sound like elves and that is not going to inspire fear in anyone let alone Vince the collector”.

“Vince the collector. Sounds like a hit man.” laughed Yo.

“Well it’s definitely scarier than Yo-Yo’s little helpers.”

“Ill give you that. We can come up with a name later. Let me introduce them to you. Starting from your left and proceeding to your right…”

“Yo, I’m a box of legos I have no hands.” interrupted Larry.

“Yea, but you know what I mean. This here is Major Matt Mason. He is an astronaut toy from the 60’s. 1966 I believe. “

“He looks to be in good shape considering his age,” stated Larry.

“Larry, may I remind you that your shape is a box and you don’t have a right to comment on the shape of others”.

“Yea, that’s fair Yo.  So what can he contribute to the effort?” asked Larry.

“Ahem, Let me answer that,” replied the Major as he step forward and saluted.

“I have years of space training at the Mattel Space Camp.” stated the Major.

“Well that’s nice Major but we won’t be going into to space,” replied Larry.

“Well I have a moon rover and a really cool Jet Pack that can move us along a zip line,” added the Major.

“Welcome aboard Major,” said a smiling Larry.

“Next we have Betsy Wetsy,” said Yo pointing to a baby.

“But Yo ,” whispered Larry. “She’s a baby and need we go into whether her name is literal or figurative?”

“Hmm, you have a point,” said Yo and added “Sorry Betsy. I think you could help us better on the home front.”

“Our next volunteers are brothers Jan and Stosh the Rock’em Sock’em Robots.
They’re Polish and they claim to have inspired a generation of Polish boxers. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m not going to question them. I think they will come in handy if we get in a bind and need some muscle.”

“That’s a good point Yo. Welcome aboard gentlemen.” Larry did a double take and asked Yo.” “Is it me or is his neck unusually long?”

Yo looked at the robots and said “Hey Stosh, or Jan, whichever; Please re-engage your neck spring. It’s freaking Larry out. Don’t worry Larry it goes back down. It’s part of their design.”

“Yo, who is that box there,” whispered Larry.

“Oh that there is Spirograph. He’s an artist.”

“We will not have time for art on this mission Yo,” stated Larry.

“Yea, I knew you would say something like that.” interrupted Spirograph. “No body appreciates art.”

“That’s not true,” uttered Larry. “I would love it if you could whip something up to inspire the troops.”

“You got it,” replied the Spirograph. “Do you have any drawing paper?”

“We’ll find you some in a moment,” replied Yo

The introductions carried on for a while and when they were done they had assembled a nice unit of specialists ready to mount an assault on Vince the collector and take back Xena.

“Larry I think you left out Mr. Potato Dude over there,” whispered Yo.

“Yes on purpose. We can’t afford the law suit that would entail,” replied Larry.

“Oh yea. I see your point.”

“Yo. You mentioned that several of these toys had some problems with Vince. Do they know where he lives?” asked Larry.

“You mean his lair,” replied a Batman action figure (of the Adam West variety).

“Um, yes I guess you could call it that.” replied Larry.

“Robin and I were once a captive of the one you call Vince the collector. I can lead you to his lair in the dark if I have to”.

“Yo, Who is this Robin that he speaks of?” asked Larry.

“Keep it down will you. That is a sore subject. They parted ways and it wasn’t pretty.”

“Oops, my bad,” said Larry and then added “That would be great Mr., um, Batman.”

“It’s just Batman my boxlike friend.” replied Batman.

“Very well, Batman. You will lead us to the collector’s lair.”

Larry looked upon the rag tag group of toys that represented his last hope of seeing Xena again and shuddered. They’re not the dirty dozen but their all I have, he thought.

Will Spirograph finally be recognized as a true artist?                                                              Can Batman find Vince’s lair and if so will Xena trust her future to this collection of stooges?                                                                                                                                                  Do Jan and Stosh speak english or will the author have to translate?*                                 What will Vince do when he finds out that Xena is not a vintage Pong game?These answers and what ever the author dreams up after a late night snack to follow.

* He can if they just want to order lunch in a diner with soda water and/or beer.

A Catharsis is Required (cont): Living On The Down Low

A Catharsis is Required (cont): Living On The Down Low

     Well I seem to be comfortably ensconced in stage two of the Holiday Blues (Cynicism). The lack of fresh snow doesn’t help. Christmas music is providing some relief but I will admit that sometimes traditional christmas carols, as well as classic holiday movies, have the power to inflame the condition.

“Christmas in Hollis” works much better.

I expect to break out of my festive funk today with some holiday shopping. It usually does the trick. I am not a shopping kind of guy but the holidays are different. While I continue to work out of my funk enjoy episode two of my Black Friday Series.


 

Black Friday: Living On The Down Low
A week had gone by at the local Big Box and Xena had managed to avoid being sold. They had been lucky, thought Larry. Their luck would run out soon. He was getting nervous.

Yo had the job of finding a suitable disguise for Xena. He was not exactly the brightest Yo- Yo on the planet, ok his string didn’t spin very fast on his hub if you know what I mean, but he could move around the store much faster than Larry and time was of the essence.

Larry was grateful that Yo was willing to take the risk of being out in the open during prime buying season. He could no longer move like, well, lets face he could never really move all that fast.

It was probably because he was big boxed.

Yo had come back with several potential disguises but for one reason or another they all turned out to be bad ideas. The one idea that had come closest to solving their problem was when Yo discovered  a box containing Hug Me Elmo.

It wouldn’t take much to take out Elmo and dispose of the body. They also thought that he would not be in high demand given the scandal surrounding the Elmo puppeteer but Larry was worried the buying public had a short memory and since the Hug Me version did not sound as suspicious as the Tickle Me edition he did not want to take a chance on its marketability.

Larry was beginning to think it was time to think outside his box when Yo swung back from his latest expedition sounding triumphant.

“You sound exuberant. You had some luck I take it?” asked Larry.

“Huh, no I don’t need any lubricant. What are you talking about?” replied Yo.

“I said exuberant, it means excited.”

“Oh yea. I am exited. I found a perfect disguise for Xena.” replied Yo.

“Well, where is it?” asked Larry.

“After the last couple of failures I was not going to go swinging halfway across the store with it. Its a box of some kind of ping-pong things.”

“Ping-Pong Paddles?” queried Larry.

“Yea, that it.” answered a proud Yo.

“So, no batteries required?”

“Nope,” answered Yo.

“Nothing to plugin?”

“Nope again,”replied Yo.

“So its something they could play in a power outage or the coming apocalypse?” asked Larry.

“The alpaca what?”, replied Yo.

“When the stuff hits the fan.” answered Larry.

“Oh. Yea, light a few candles and I suspect there wouldn’t be a problem.” said Yo.

“It’s perfect. They’ll never buy it.” said Larry with a big grin on his box and added “Will you need help getting the box over to Xena in the gadget section?”

“No, in the time it would take you to get there someone could take out your insides and put them together.” laughed Yo.

“You do know that this box is a disguise and inside I am legos and not a 10,000 piece mercator puzzle of the world don’t you?”

“Uh, yeah. Hey, it could take a while to put legos together.” “I’ll be fine,” he said as he swung away toward the electronics department.

Sometime later Yo returned. “You can relax now Larry. Looking at Xena you would have no idea she’s the latest Xbox.”

“Just in the nick of time too. I just heard the manager saying they were going to put them on sale before we open today.” stated Larry. Just then the door chimed and signaled the store opening. The stampede had begun.

Having looped his string to the shelf unit Yo whispered “Quick Larry, toss me down behind the shelf”*. Larry did as he was told and then stayed in the back. His disguise had worked well but he wasn’t going to push his luck.

The sound of footsteps was soon accompanied by voices and the carnage began. Both Yo and Larry were sweating it out, well as much as toys could sweat, and the hours ticked by.

Larry was about to fall asleep when he heard a familiar voice in the electronic section say “Come here honey. Get a load of this.”

“What is it Harold?” replied a woman.

“I do believe it’s an old electronic Pong game Marge.”

“Yikes,” gasped Larry.

Now he recognized that voice. It was the vintage toy collector that he barely escaped from a few years back. “Yo, you said you found a box of Ping Pong paddles.”

“Well it had the word pong on the box so I just figured that’s what it was.” replied Yo rather sheepishly.

“Swell, remind me to rewind your string extra tight.”

Larry and Yo listen as Harold and Marge excitedly carried away their find to the front desk. Soon they exited the store with a big bag containing Xena.

“We’ll never see Xena again Yo.” said a sad Larry.

“Don’t worry Larry, another sexy gadget is just around the corner.” replied Yo trying to comfort him.

“You don’t understand Yo. She was just my type.”

“Oh Larry, all big boxes are your type.”

“That’s not true Yo. There was something about Xena. No matter what box she was in she had a certain ju ne se qua.” lamented Larry.

“A june bug what?” asked Larry.

“It’s French. A certain I don’t know what.” replied Larry

Yo shook his head and replied “Yea I don’t know what those French are trying to say either.”

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Black Friday Adventures. Will Larry be convinced that all sexy gadgets are alike and a replacement for Xena is just around the corner?

Will Larry try to rescue Xena?

Will Yo get an French-English dictionary?

Answers to these questions and those being asked by the voices in the authors head are coming to this blog soon.

*Sure Yo could swing himself across the store but his fear of the dark prevented him from hiding behind the shelf without a little push.

A Catharsis Is Required: The Return of Black Friday, A Different Perspective

A Catharsis Is Required: The Return of Black Friday, A Different Perspective

The pursuit of creative activities are often affected by the mindset of the individual involved. My writing is no exception.

This time of the year has an especially strong influence on my moods and I tend to go  through three stages.

Stage 1) Awareness:  This stage is marked by the thoughts. Well, I’ve gotten through Halloween and Thanksgiving without going into a diabetic coma so what’s next? Oh yea, Christmas.

Stage 2) Trepidation bordering on cynicism. This stage usually sets in just after ThanksGiving, Black Friday to be precise. This stage usually requires a bit of time to work through to get to the next stage. During this period last year I worked through it by posting a four part story about the travails of toys  during this time of the year.

Stage 3) Anticipation: The transition to this stage is marked when cynicism fades and has been  replaced by a feeling of excitement for the approach of Christmas Eve.

This year is turning out to be no different than the last as I am still in stage 2. To help me move on to the next stage I am reposting that same four part series from last year. In addition to the cathartic reasons I am also taking the opportunity to introduce the story to the thousands of new fans that have discovered this blog over the past year. Hey it’s past noon hear so having a little egg nog with my rum and topping it off with delusions is acceptable.

I will be posting each installment starting today and concluding on Christmas Eve. I have allowed an extra day because , well, life happens. So without further delay I give you the first entry in the Black Friday Series: Black Friday, A Different Perspective.

A truck rolled up to the delivery entrance of the local Big Box store. The temperature was a balmy 40 degrees. This was somewhat normal for the first monday after thanksgiving.

Larry the box of legos had positioned himself at the end of the rear shelf to get the first look at the incoming newbies. At the other end of the shelf was his buddy Yo , the Yo Yo. “Yo , Yo get over here you’ll miss al the action”, shouted Larry. “Hold on to your bricks I’m rolling as fast as I can.”, shouted Yo.

Workers began wheeling in carts piled with boxes. From the looks of it they appeared to be all of the hottest new gadgets for the holidays.

“It looks like were in luck Yo. People will definitely be passing us by again this year.”

“Yep Larry but all the same I will be asking you for help to pull me by my string again.”

Every year around the holidays Yo had attached his string to the back of a shelf and thrown himself down between the wall until the holidays passed and counted on a friend to pull him back up afterwords. This method of hiding was so successful Yo had managed to avoid being bought since 1972 and had even been passed around a few stores. As far as Larry was concerned this was a record. Yo was kind of a legend in the world of toys.

“Yea, I got your back again Yo. No worries there.”

Larry’s next thought was interrupted by the arrival of one of the new potential christmas presents. Out of the box it was easy to see it was a brand new Xbox One that would be making some child or more than likely some adult a very happy kid this year.

“Will you get a load of that ,” exclaimed Yo.

“Yea , kinda perty” said Larry.

“Thanks for the compliment big boy,” exclaimed a women’s voice. “I’m Xena, what do they call you?”

Larry blushed a bit and said “They call me Larry and this hear is Yo.”

“Please to meet you Xena,” said Yo.

“Nice to meet both of you,” said Xena.

“What does Xena mean?” asked Yo.

“It’s Greek for hospitable or guest. Take your pick.” replied Xena.

“I pick the latter.” replied Larry. “Because you are not going to be at
this store for long.”

“Oh really. Why is that ?” asked Xena.

“Because the sexy gadgets get snapped up for presents really quick,”
replied Larry.

“Do you always call someone a sexy gadget when you first meet them?”
asked a blushing Xena.

“I’m sorry but that is what your kind of toys are called around
here.” replied Larry.

“It true”, said Yo and laughed. “Larry has never called me a sexy gadget.
The only thing I have ever been called is ‘groovy and that was back in
the 70’s.”

“The 1970’s. You have been here the whole time?”, asked Xena.

“Yep. I have successfully managed to avoid being purchased every year
since 1972.”

“You say that like you’re happy about that . “Don’t you want to bought?”
asked Xena.

“Heck no,” replied Yo. “My natural color is blue but you start tossing me
up and down and I turn a nice shade of green. Sure it’s pretty to look at
until I toss my string. I have a bad case of vertigo. I don’t need a life
destined for ups and downs.”

“Wow, that is unfortunate.”, replied Xena. “What about you Larry?
Being a box of legos must make you a marked man around this time of year.
I am surprised you are still on the shelf. Aren’t you looking forward to
a new home?” she asked.

“Heck no,” replied Larry. “I am destined to sit on someones display
shelf and then dragged out once in a while to be shown off to party
guests. My parts will never make it out of my box.”

“So how do you manage to stay here?” asked Xena.

“With the help of my friend Yo here I disguise myself in a discarded
box.” answered Larry.

“Just a box?” asked Xena.

“No not just any box. Its a box from a 10,000 piece puzzle of a mercator map of the world. It’s geographically accurate. No one in this country will touch it,” replied Larry.

“Aren’t you the clever one,” replied Xena

“Um, yes, yes I am.” replied Larry.

“That was a statement Larry. She was not asking you,” replied Yo.

“Uh, yea I knew that.” maintained Larry

“ I would think in a store so empty some one would get curious and open
you up,” replied Xena.

“Oh it’s not always this empty. Black Friday cleaned this place out,”
explained Larry.

A puzzled Xena replied “Black Friday?”

“Oh yea, you’re a rookie. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving.
It’s the biggest shopping day of the year,” answered Larry.

“So they get a head start on what to give thanks for next year?” asked
Xena.

“Hmm, I suppose that is one way to look at it.” said Larry.
“I always thought they missed the point and focused on what they didn’t
have and were trying to rectify it.”

“So how about you Yo?” asked Xena. “How how have you managed to avoid
being bought all these years?”

“I may just be a round disk but I got some smarts.” said Yo.

“No Yo. You have smarts.” interjected Larry.

“Thats what I said,” replied Yo.

“He ties his string to the back of the shelf and tosses himself between
the shelf and the wall. I pull him back up when the coast is clear.”
explained Larry.

“Oh my. You are much brighter than you look.” exclaimed Xena

“Why thank you, I think,” replied a puzzled Yo.

“I think I am going to like it around here,” replied Xena.
“Its a shame I will not be here for long.”

Larry smiled and said “If you want to stay around here I am sure we can
think of something.”

“Yea, between the two of us we can think of something to keep you here.”
added Yo.

“I might just take you up on that Gentlemen.” replied an exited Xena.

“Gentle who?” asked Yo.

“She meant us you string operated boob,” replied Larry.

Stay tuned folks. Will Larry and Yo be able to combine intellects and come up with a plan to keep Xena on the shelf? Will the buying public suddenly decide enough is enough? *. Will a large movie company send a cease and desist order to the author? Come back next time for answers to these and other questions the author can dream up between now and then.

*Yea right.

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Fourteen degrees, that doesn’t sound too cold if you’re bundled up and you know your time in the elements will be short. If however you are in the shade, standing barefoot on concrete and tied to a post it’s a whole different reality.

I witnessed a dog in such a predicament when I stopped by the grocery store on the way to work.

If you thought I was describing my situation than I think some inner reflection on your part is required.

If the breed had been bred for cold weather I wouldn’t have given it a moments thought but this was some kind of terrier and it wasn’t happy.

His barks were not ones that said, “Hey come play with me” rather they said,

“hey, a little help here. I have parts of me that are threatening to become frozen nuggets and I am a little less than happy about it.”

Now, there are two things you need to know about me at this point. The first is that I am a dog guy. I love dogs. When I come across a dog during my day the dog knows he/she has met a friend and the feeling is mutual. The second is that I can summon up righteous indignation and tilt at windmills at the drop of a hat. I’m convinced some long lost ancestor inspired Cervantes.

My first thought was that the dogs owner, sorry caretaker (it is Boulder), had just ducked into the store for a few items and hopefully treats for their dog . That thought temporarily assuaged my concerns and I popped into the store. Fifteen minutes later I exited the store and the dog was still there and it’s barking now said,

“Ok, I am now probably unable to sire pups and I can deal with that but I really would like to come in and warm the rest of my still functioning parts.”

Looking around I determined that the dogs caretaker was nowhere in sight.
From the depths of my soul I could feel the tides of righteous anger begin to rise. Since I still had one more stop before I left for work, I decided to give it a few more minutes and I walked over to Big Daddy Bagels*, my favorite bagel place, to grab a coffee and a breakfast bagel and perhaps to spy said caretaker.

Once at the bagel shoppe I looked around to see if I could spy the villain. I did not know exactly what to look for, perhaps a women with a Dalmatian coat or a man bearing a handlebar mustache and wearing a cape.

No one matching these characteristics popped out at me. I placed my order and twenty minutes later I was heading out towards my car with coffee and bagel in hand. Unhappy barks told me all I needed to know.

I sat in my car and pondered my next move. I had several options but I had left my lance at home so that ruled out one possibility .
I could let the dog warm up in my car until the villain returned whereupon I would confront the low-life or I could just call the humane society. Since I had to get to work the first option was the least likely.
Just as I was about to call the humane society, I spied the near-do-well leaving the grocery store and zipping up his coat. He looked quite toasty. My attitude was becoming the same and my course of action was clear. Confrontation was on the horizon.

I put my car in gear and slowly approached Mr. Whiplash.

As I got closer I wondered could I and should I say something.

A voice inside my head asked , if not me then who, if not now when. Apparently the little voice had worked with some presidential speech writers in the past.

Of course you should it continued. Your entire life you have had the personality of a cranky old man just dying to get out and express itself. Lets face it , you have had a cranky old man inside you since kindergarten. Who was it that proclaimed in first grade they were to old for milk and it was too late to do your bones any good. Who was it that at the age of ten took an entire carton of their parents cigarettes and using a sewing needle poked tiny holes spelling out death in each individual cigarette?

That is the act of one cranky little man my friends.

The little voice brought clarity to the situation. It was dead on. I had been preparing for this moment my entire life. Instead of being ignored or getting punished I now had the looks to go along with the attitude. The cranky old guy inside had sprouted grey hairs and had left its youthful skin behind and was ready to curse out the young punk. If only I had some front lawn to tell him to get off of.

“Excuse me. Excuse me.”

“Yes?”

“You know its fourteen degrees out here. This is not the kind of weather to leave your
dog out for ever.”

“I was only inside the store for a few minutes.”

Big mistake, I thought.

“It has been over a half hour by my calculations,” I said. “I was about to call the humane society.”

That was the coup de grace. Like all cranky old men before me I had let him know that I can tell time and count in one fell swoop. He was left with no alternative but to curse me under his breath.

Feeling satisfied that he would at least think long and hard about leaving his dog out in the cold, the cranky old man closed the window and crept back into my soul as I drove on.

I have got to get a front lawn, I thought.

*A totally unsolicited endorsement because the bagels and the staff rock.

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