Monday, January 28, 2013

Lonely (GBE 89)

A lonely existence
Shut away 
From hate
From love
From touch
From life
Only to ponder
Clouds shutting away
From you.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Punk (Blogophilia 49.5)

Punk and anger
Go together,
As it were
A generations rebellion
Against all that
Had come before.

Jello, Siouxie, and Serj
Yelling and screaming
What is wrong
With the world.

Bob, Joan and Pete
Still said it better
With more passion
And fewer decibels.

But the rebellion
Is a phase
We all become parodies
Satire doesn't effect change.
Only time does. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Graduation Hijinks (GBE 88)

When I saw Music was the assignment, I thought about being lazy and recycling Fur Elise.  But when I opened it, I realized everybody had seen that story.  So, I went back and thought it might be better if I did something from scratch.  Like a true story from my days in the high school band...

The bus pulled into the space across from the Municipal Auditorium about 9:45. Mr. Cox, the band director, stood up and told everybody to grab their gear and get into place as quickly as possible.  They wanted to keep the graduation rehearsal to ninety minutes so we would get back to the school in time for lunch.  It didn't matter to me.  I spent my lunch hour back in the band room with our pick up band.  It wasn't a bad arrangement.  There were six or seven of us that would jam to whatever we wanted to, from Broadway to Hendrix.  Anyway, I was a Junior and this

I picked up my sax case and music folder and followed the herd down the left hand stairs.  The chairs were set in the proper performance semi circle.  Mine was third row and two in from state right.  Scott, Tom and Ginny made up the rest the sax brigade  I had a crush on Ginny forever, but she never really spoke.  Tom was the leader of our section. Whenever there was a need for a bit of brass, He would get us together.

As I went through the stage door and up the stairs to get to my seat, I noticed the console of the house pipe organ stuck over in a corner. The little red light was on and Rick who played in percussion and was part of our pick up band was standing next to it. That's strange, I thought.  But I didn't pay it any attention.  I trudged out to my chair and started setting up. I look at my reed. No splits, good. Slipping the mouthpiece on to the cork neck, the attaching the neck to the body, I was ready to go. The brass felt warm today, almost as if the spirit of the instrument knew something was up.

As I was warming up, I felt an odd rumble in the floor. Eh, it's an old building. Must be the creaky air conditioner.  My instrument began to smooth out it's sound and my lungs opened up. Mr. Cox was talking to one of the English teachers who was coordinating the ceremony, working out some detail or another.  Apparently, he was satisfied and stepped on stage and up to the podium.  He tapped on his stand to get our attention, which had no effect. This irritated him no end. Finally, he gave a loud whistle and then there was silence. He stared at us for a moment just to make sure we were ready, the raised his hands to begin the opening piece when the opening bars of  The Phantom Of The Opera began to play.

Mr. Cox dropped his baton and looked at who might be missing. Everyone in the band and all the teachers were doubled over laughing.  Nobody had pranked him this bad, ever.

Finally, he screamed "Rick Tulisalo.  Get your ass out here now!".

We all gave him a standing ovation. Any detention we risked was going worth it.

After that, we settled down and finished the rehearsal. 

New Years Eve

A blast from the past and it had caught her completely off guard.  He had looked so cute the last time, splayed on the bar floor, olives and orange slices in his hair. He thought she was going to be easy since he was the boss. The date and the job were left behind in a cloud of VW minibus smoke. Life went on.

And now two years later he wanted to go down to see the Big Peach for New Years.  What did he really want?

Kari still wasn’t sure she wanted to go.  New Year’s Eve had no appeal.  It was just a reason to get wasted, a celebration without a purpose. Oh, there was the pretense of faking atonement of the past. But hideous dates and worse hangovers made self improvement difficult.  No, impossible. It was a wasted day.
A curly haired image smiled back as she brushed her hair.  Vanity never was her thing.  Aging was a beautiful process and gray was normal. Only a cut to even the ends was necessary. Why did other women obsess so much over a color? Gray didn’t make them any less of a person. It was just another waste of energy.  

Kari held the brush in front of her, entranced by the inlaid Cherokee rose on top. It had been her Maternal Grandmother’s.  She had found it going through her Mother’s things after she had died.  The silver frame glowed and the soft bristles seemed to bring life to whatever it touched.   It was the only thing she had left from her family.

She thought about her father. Mother never did say how he had died, even on her death bed.  All she had known, was Daddy went away when she was little, maybe when she was three or four.  She had no brothers or sisters and she never did know any of the other family.  A space opened in her never to be filled, even with a scar.  She put down the brush and picked up the mascara and began the process.  

Why dwell on the past?  That was a waste of time. With a pointed nose and receding forehead, she resembled an overgrown rat. She lived like a rat with a string of bar and waitress jobs, usually losing them in a blaze of anger over trivial insults.  Nights were spent with joints and one night stands.  More often than not, she woke up alone in strange houses, not really remembering where she had been.   Satisfied with her eyes, she put down the mascara.  

The clock read 8:45. He said to be ready at 9:00.  

Reaching over to the end of the dresser, Kari picked up the pipe. There should be enough time. Looking in, she realized there was just enough for one or two good tokes, enough to take the edge off.  Inhaling deeply from the spark of the lighter, she leaned back a bit in the chair and let the smoke do its work.  The focus softened and she began to relax.  

But the call still nagged at her.  She had heard Charlie was angry about how she wouldn’t submit.  But he should have known better.  Was there going to be revenge?   She couldn’t put it completely past him.  A sudden chill came across her and the sweater closer wasn’t helping.  A shadow across her window caught her attention. What was that?  Picking up the hairbrush, she moved stealthily toward the frame of the window.  

The door bell rang.  Not thinking, she raised the hairbrush as she flung the door open. 

Only to find Charlie, with a dozen long stem roses and a bottle of Chianti.  

“Hey, Babe.  Happy to see me?”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feet of Clay (Blogophilia 48.5)

He came with feet of clay
Another claiming he's the next coming
Circumstances horrific
Turning golden,
Shining in the sun
Trumpets and pipes
Heralding triumph
Celebrating victory
Like all the others
Triumph is hollow
Victory is false
As he falls under the weight
Of betrayal and lies
But when faith dies,
There is always hope
He came with feet of clay

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ready, Set, Go (GBE 87)

It's 9:37 and it the goal is fifteen minutes of free writing.  I should mention it is Sunday, January 13, 2013.  It's been a busy day with church, Falcon's gam (win!) and many more things.

Sunday is when I usually get my group writing assignments.  If you read the blog, I am in several groups.  Groups that have helped me define who I am during a period that most people refer to as a midlife crisis.  It's funny, since I started writing seriously again about four years ago, with the original GBE group, I have managed to greatly improve the way that I communicate with my world. And I have met some amazing people, both here in the ether and "In Real Life".

I guess you would call what I am going through a crisis.  But I don't.  I just call it a transition to a new phase.  I have left my job of fourteen years.  But I don't miss it much all.  And while it would be nice to get some money going in addition to my pension, I am beyond the need for huge amounts of material possession.  I think this does come out in my characters.  They tend to be broken types for the most part.  Some are successful and others are not.  But all have a cynical distrust of the media herd.

At church, I have been attending a class that sort of points to the end of life and its decisions.  While this does not appear to be in my immediate future, I am of an age where funerals are becoming a more common occurrence.   I lost a brother a few months ago and I have a sister who is on the down hill slide from cancer.  And a few of my contemporaries are beginning to show up in the obituaries.

It begs the question, am I one who just dismisses death and something to get through quickly?  Maybe so.  I have never been a particularly sentimental person.  With my brother, we had been estranged for more than 25 years.  The fact he died pretty much alone didn't surprise me at all.  Nobody really knew what he was running from, just that he was running.  And with my sister, it really isn't shocking since she is a long time smoker.

Ok.  9:52.

Kind of like going to the bathroom.

Where is the paper dispenser?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cell (GBE 86)

Cell vibrates
Uh, oh.
Not again
Come down
Still in one piece
Only by
The grace
Of God

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Still Life

The tomatoes were beautiful.

The piece itself was a rather stark, consisting of only a wicker basket on plank with dark gradient background. But, tomatoes were the color of arterial blood.  They looked like Easter eggs that had been set out for Good Friday.  The time and care the artist used in selecting the palette was obvious.  It was almost unworldly. In all her years studying and teaching painting, Mary had never seen an image quite like it.  And it was making her hungry.   Food, wine and celebration shouted from the walls of every building in the village.    Mangia!   Mangia!

Invitations to dinner were shouted from house to house in that odd Tuscan accent.  Everyone was family and they embraced every night, unlike Upper Saddle River where other people looked like threats. Romantic warmth rose in her for the first time in years.  Too bad Michael wasn’t with her to enjoy it.  His meetings were so much more important.   Bah!  All he knew was selling and money.  He never once took the time to notice the simple beauty of a tomato, or the delightful fragrance of basil foliage.  His world was computer screens and numbers that were of no use to anyone.  

The next painting was a bottle of Chianti rendered in a very similar style.  Mary glanced at the signature.  Yes, it was the same artist.  The straw bottle had been decanted and a freshly poured glass sat next to it.  She silently recited the Kadeish, thanking Adonai for the luscious gift from the vine.  The smell of baking Challah seemed to fill her nostrils. A vision of Grampy, with his long flowing beard, appeared behind the table. Mama bustling in the kitchen preparing the evening meal seemed to come from the wall. The celebration of family and rest floated blissfully in her mind.   

So many years have passed since then. The old fables she left behind to make her way in this world.  Michael came and they married.  Children and business followed.  Shabbat was only a memory.  It took too much time.  Time they need to live the life they had chosen.  It wasn’t a bad life.  But there was emptiness.  They only returned to synagogue for the holidays and even then not every year.  Of course, they did send in their contributions to keep up appearances.  But little of the tradition remained.  

 A lorry rumbled past and the wine began to ripple.  Without thinking, Mary reached for the glass and fell inward through the wall.  

When she turned around, she found herself facing a sunny window.  The basket of tomatoes from the other painting sat on the table, along with the bottle of wine and glass.  A gingham apron was draped over the chair.   The smell of a fresh loaf of bread came out from the old wood stove. A large pot of water slowly coming to a boil sat on top.  She had landed in an old kitchen.

Picking up the glass, she sees a piece of paper next to the tomatoes.   Sipping the wine, Mary read slowly.  On one side was written “In Vino,Veritas”.  Mary mused.  “In wine, there is truth." She thought, “Ha! Wine only made men fools.” Memories of Michael’s drinking began rising in her mind, days of anger and rage, followed by temperance and atonement.  It made such a lie of the ancient prayer.  Things were better now, but the fear of the darker side always seemed to be on the other side of the door.  She turned over the piece of paper.  Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.”   Should she make it?  It’s vacation, why not?  Putting on the apron that was in the chair, she tried to read the recipe.  

 Guanicale?  Isn’t that bacon?”   A piece of meat like a ham hock sat on the table.  “I guess so.  Mama, may she rest, wouldn’t be happy about this.  But it seems so right.”  Picking up a knife, she slices the pork into julienne strips.   Oiling a large skillet, she tosses the pieces in.  Slowly, they begin to sizzle and the aroma fills the room.  Onion and garlic are quickly subdued and added.  Looking down at the recipe, she reads the next ingredient.  

“Vino Blanco?”   Mary looks around.  The only wine is the Chianti.  “Just have to work with what I’ve got.”  She pours a bit in and scrapes the bits off the bottom of the pan.  In the large pot, the spaghetti magically appears.  Grabbing a large fork, she fishes out a huge blob and throws it in.  Tossing the pasta, she cracks two eggs and a bit of cheese to finish the meal.  A huge smile comes across her face as she takes another sip from the glass.  Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.  Amen.”   She pulls the finished dish off the fire and turns towards the table.  

Mary stops short.  Michael is at the head of the table, smiling and sipping his own glass of Chianti.  He stands up still holding the glass and opens his arms.  Putting the hot Spaghetti down, she accepts his invitation and they begin to dance slowly across the small room…

Signora?  You all right?”   The docent put the smelling salts under Mary’s nose.  “Can we call someone for you?”

Mary looks around and sees she is on a sofa in an office.  As her wits slowly come around she notices Michael standing over her with a very worried expression on his face.  “Michael?”

“What a day.  When I got back to the hotel after my meeting, I saw you hadn’t got back.  I worried something had happened, so I took a taxi.  When I got to the village, I noticed the commotion here in the museum.  They were in the process of taking you to office. ..“

The room blurs out again.  No matter.  He does care.   Let the celebration begin. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Flipped (Blogophilia 46.5)

Walking along the Mall,
Cherry blossoms falling
In the brackish water.
Pondering a world

Flipped upside down
Bad is good
Ugliness is beauty
Until the turning 
Of the kaleidoscope.
Life is a gift
Riddle me this:
So why do we
Try to give it back?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Frdiay Night.

Friday night
Shot glass
Cures fright.

We are all
One or the other. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Weekend in the desert

It was a rainy December Sunday and my head felt like it was going to explode.  Stuck on Route 66 outside Azusa, the traffic was as clogged worse than the County Court on Monday morning.  And they said that Freeway thing was going to solve it.  Sure. All it did was line the pockets of Judge Doom's heirs.  I should know. I testified at the probate.   It had been a really strange weekend and I needed to get back to the office.  I had a report to write.

My name is Valiant.  Eddie Valiant.  I have a reputation as a "fixer" for showbiz types,  called on to fix things that are embarrassing or illegal.  All the studios use them to some extent, since actors can’t keep it in their pants or skirts as the case may be.  Some people call me the PI to the Toons, because of my involvement in the Acme case a few years back.  I really don't like them much, but I seem to always be drawn in by them.   That and they always pay on time. 

I got the call Wednesday from one of the suits at Warner Brothers.  Their newest Darling had some really dirty laundry and Hedda Hopper was ready to hang it in the breeze.  The rumor was he played for the other team and that wouldn’t look good for anybody.  My job was to confirm or deny source of the stink.   We agreed on a price and I loaded up for Palm Springs.

My target was smaller than I expected.  Maybe 5 foot tall.  He did have a debonair appearance until you got downwind of him, then you understood his stage name.  LePew.  Pepe LePew.  According to the dossier given to me by the studio, his real name Paul Linberger.  One of the few cases of both the stage name and real name worked.  Originally from a town in Northern Wisconsin, he had left after being caught milking a bull. There were odd jobs on farms and ranches from there to here, always ending with some kind of animal behavior and a quick exit.  He had signed to do a one off comedy of a middle aged husband flirting with a cat.  The short did well and they kept him on, pairing him with various female leads.   

LePew stayed mostly in ToonTown when he wasn't working.  But he liked the desert.  Once a month, he headed to the Palm Springs Inn for a few days R&R.  The rumors stated he wasn’t alone, but the guess was it wasn't his leading ladies.  Nobody at the studio particularly cared how he got his kicks.  The real problem was which leading man it was.  If it turned out to be a Disney or Ubwerks character, it could be rather dicey for the studio to keep in the closet.  But I knew it could be done.  Disney had done it for years with Mickey and Goofy. 

The house across the street from the Inn had been booked by J.L. using a shell company he controlled and he gave me the key.  It was a little adobe place that disappeared against the scenery.  It looked like it had been drawn by for a Toon.  It was perfect for watching and waiting. 
I got in town about 4:30.  I was setting up the camera in the living room when I saw LePew pull up in his Thunderbird.  He wasn't alone, a human was with him.  A tall, dark haired fellow that looked vaguely familiar.  They left the car with the Valet and went in.   I slipped out the side door and in to the hotel to check the registration.  A Mr. Pepe LePue and a Mr. Charles Montgomery, room 206.  Cute.  As if that was going to throw someone off.   I went back to the cottage.
I focused my attention on the window.  Soon the door opened.  I noticed the human had a clothespin on his nose, but otherwise was completely interested in the proceedings.  They were clawing and kissing at each other harder than any couple I had ever seen.  Then, something strange happened.  LePew turned around and pulled his tail between his legs.  The human pulled a hidden zipper.  Like a magic, Pepe disappeared and Alfred Hitchcock was in his place.  THIS was the dirty  laundry they were talking about.  And I thought Acme was weird.  I nearly dropped my camera, but I managed to shoot two rolls.

And now I have to explain to J.L. that not only is his new leading man funnier than a three dollar bill, he isn't even a real Toon. 

I need a drink.