Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Quick One (Blogophilia 40.10)

“He’s mad, don’t you know?”
Yes...I have been accused of that. Of being an overfed, long haired leaping gnome starring in his own Hollywood movie. But that was after I spilled the wine and told my stories.
I never really had long hair, though. Instead of it cascading down my shoulders, it would grow into a Dorothy Hamill wedge. It added to the sumo wrestler view a lot of people had of me. It wasn’t I was fat, just awkward and bumbling. I was jealous a bit of John Schneider and his bodacious curls (which were straightened for Dukes of Hazzard), but that wasn’t really for me anyway. I was more of a sloppy schlub, high on wit and satire and low on style.
My true heroes were MAD magazine’s original usual gang of idiots, who taught me nothing is what it seems, and what sounds like a weird concept can work out.
Therein is the “Method to the Madness.” Find a concept and run with it. Maybe it will work out for you, too.
Pic guesses: Sumo Wrestler (in blog), Sloppy schlubs (in blog), awkward (in blog), In this corner, atomic wedgie, half moon, Sunday sport,

Monday, November 27, 2017

Backyard Sky (Blogophilia 39.10)

Camping on a starlit night in the back yard for her birthday was Daddy's idea. Emily and her best friend Maddie were sleeping in a tent Emily's mom helped put up. And it wasn't one of those Disney Princess tents, either. They were for babies. This tent was the one Daddy used when they went camping out in the woods. Emily loved when they did. She and Daddy would look at sticks and bugs and stuff. But Mommy would get cold and complain, then they would pack up and go home.
Kind of like what Maddie was doing now.

"When is your mom coming out with the choc'lit. I'm cold." Dark bangs shaking under the cap of her jacket. "I wish we had a fire.

Emily shrugged. "Mommy said we would set the whole neighborhood on fire. We have a blanket. "
A small camouflage blanket was sitting on the ground outside the tent. Emily picked it up and they huddled together underneath it. Their breath reflected in the porch light.

Emily giggled. "A cloud came out of your mouth."

Maddie's dark eyes twinkled as she pulled her friend closer. Without thinking, she began to play with Emily's blond curls. Leaning up to her ear, she whispered.

"That's how you know it's cold."

Cold was forgotten. They took turns making clouds, trying to outdo each other. Maddie made fun of her Uncle Earl, making smoking motions with her hands, then coughing wildly . Emily tried to make rings with hers, but they wouldn't stay together. Long flumes were followed by short burst, each breath turned into yellow tinted rainbows. They put their faces together and made one that looked like a tangerine tree against the blackberry marmalade sky.

A small hand slipped around her friend's waist, smooth surface of the jacket tickling the skin. Smiling, they looked up at the sky. Just over the back fence, a streak of light ran across the darkness.
"Oooh. Emmy! A slootin' star!"Maddie pointed at the faint line across the sky. "My mommy said you should make a wish."

Emily thought about it for a minute.

"I wish for hot choc'lit and s'mores."


As soon as the words were out, The screen door slammed. Kathy, Emily's mom walked across they yard with a basket. The smell said it was had was 'zackly what was wished for. They each took a small thermal cup, while Kathy kept the larger one. Sitting down, she gasped.

"Let me in that blanket. It's cold."

The girls quickly snuggled under her sweater covered arms. Maddie grabbed the edge of her scarf and put it across her face. It smelled like firewood.

"So, are you having fun?"

Maddie almost shrieked.

"Yeah! We made a wish on a slootin' star and it came true!"


Emily laughed.

"I said I wanted hot choc'lit and s'mores."

Kathy couldn't help giggling. Simple and straightforward, just like her Daddy. Too bad he had to go out of town. He'd love this. It reminded her of the night he came to my birthday. A warm feeling came over her. Jimmy was the one who saw the shooting star. His hand was so warm as he held hers as they wished. And it came true, they had been together ever since.

"Mrs. Morris, my mommy taught me a song for nights like this."

"Really, Maddie?" Kathy smiled.

"Yeah. I think it is 'Roosy is the sky like diamonds."

Emily squawked.

"Maddie! The girl's name is Lucy, not Roosy."

Kathy held up her hand.

"If you two will be quiet, I'll sing it"

In a soft contralto, the story of the dreamy world of colorful tree and a special little girl filled the tent, words floating along the river of their dreams. And in that moment they all had the wonder of kaleidoscope eyes. Excitement began to wane. As the final chorus ended, the sound of crickets and snoring could be heard. One by one, the girls were tucked into their sleeping bags. It was a great adventure.

Pic guess- Kaleidescope eyes (in blog) Twinkled (In blog), Peg of my eye. Wish upon a star (in blog), Blue eyes in the rain.

Friday, November 17, 2017

It's All Annoying

One of the older websites out there is  Am I Annoying.

It's pretty simple. Instead of saying whether the person, place or thing is hot or not, you determine is it annoying or not.

I'll give you a hint.

It's all annoying.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Still Life (Blogophilia 38.10)

As Mary made her way down the cobblestone streets, she could help but notice how Sienna was so different than Upper Saddle River. At home, everyone locked themselves in their faux French chateaus inside gated communities. Neighbors were tolerated at best, with almost no eye contact. Here the streets were narrow and the building ancient, but there was an openness. People here went out of their way to socialize and make people welcome. 
The art festival was a lucky find. The villa, as beautiful as it was, was boring. Michael was going to be tied up all day and she needed to get some air. The cobblestone streets in the city center felt like the past calling to her, memories of Shabbat. Arguments put to the side while thanks for the bounty to was raised to Adonnai. The smell of challah filled the senses and she could almost hear Grampy reciting the Kadesh, the low, guttural words booming from his flowing beard. Warmth and nostalgia were good things sometimes.
So many years have passed since then. The old fables she left behind to make her way in the world. She met Michael at a cousin’s wedding and they married. Moving from Bayonne to Orange, then to Upper Saddle River as the business flourished. Shabbat became a memory and Temple was only for the holidays. Little of the tradition remained. It took too much time. Time needed to live the life they had chosen. Oh, it wasn’t a bad life. Michael had his tennis and he didn’t mind her painting and museum trips. But there was emptiness to it all. 
The tomatoes were beautiful.
She had never seen an image like it in all her years studying art. It was a small, simple still life, oil on plank surrounded by a simple frame. But it wasn’t so simple. Splashes of arterial blood seemed to flow down the skin of the fruit and across the straw basket, almost like perverse Easter eggs. Small bits of the effluvia marked the knife on the table, almost as if the cook had stepped away to tend to something else. It was realism at its finest. You could almost reach in and touch the basket. 
Too bad Michael wasn’t here to enjoy it. No, his meetings were so much more important. Maybe he would let her buy it? Mary could hear him now. “We too much art on our walls, already.” Bah, all he knew was selling and money. But he was right. If she had her way, she would be Peggy Guggenheim, collecting art and artists. Except she didn’t sleep with the artists, too squirrelly for her taste. 
An old man with a broken smile whistled and called her beautiful. The grin couldn’t be suppressed. It had been a long time since that had happened. Sighing, she moved down the wall. The next painting was a bottle of Chianti rendered in a similar style, oil on wood. Definitely no cubist modernism in the place. Glancing at the signature, she confirmed it was the same artist. These food themes were making her hungry. Her ears began to ring with invitations in the odd Tuscan accent. “Mangia! Eat! You don’t have enough on your bones to feed a cat.” Was that Mama? 
A produce truck rumbled by, rattling the display walls. The wine began to ripple in the glass. Without thinking, her hand reached to keep it from spilling. It didn’t hurt as she passed through the wall. 
It was an old kitchen. Warm, welcoming smells wafting from the edges of an old stove. A skillet and pot of water were heating on top. A setting sun dappled the table, chairs flanking either side. On top was the basket of tomatoes next to the bottle of wine. A piece of parchment stuck out to the side. Mary picked up the glass and took a sip as she read the words, In Vino Veritas
“Humph”. She thought aloud, “Wine doesn’t give truth. It only makes men fools.”
She shuddered. Michael before rehab. Anger and violence followed by periods of temperance and atonement. The vicious cycle worsening over time, ending with the huge fight where they both were arrested. She had a black eye. Never one to back down, she broke his nose with the right jab Grampy had taught to her when she was little. 
The meeting at the lawyer was a blur. She agreed not to divorce him if he did get clean. The process took the first time, which she was thankful for. But trauma takes time to heal. Scar over is more like it. She wasn’t scared of him, but they hadn’t slept in the same room since he had gotten home. Did he still care? For that matter, did she?
She turned the paper over. In flowery script, was “Spaghetti Alla Carbonara”. The rest of script was in Tuscan. She was fluent in Italian, but the local argle-bargle was confusing. The fading light wasn’t helping. Should she make it? It’s vacation. It’s Friday. Let’s make it Shabbat. Slipping on the apron, she began to make out the ingredients. 
The first word appeared to be Guanicale. Bacon? Looking to her left, a ham hock rested on a hook in the wall. Grammy wouldn’t be happy, but the rules were in the way of remembrance. A prayer of forgiveness was uttered as the meat turned into julienne. 
A tomato popped from the basket and soon it was diced. An onion, two cloves of garlic and a carrot met the same fate. The skillet was already hot and as the pieces meet the hot metal, the symphony of smells rose forth. Mary was more of a conductor than chef. The vegetables were woodwinds and the meat the brass. The sprints in the room rose higher. In a pleasing, off-key contralto, a melody floated along with the aroma.
From a distance we are instruments
Marching in a common band  
Playing songs of hope  
Playing songs of peace  
They are the songs of every man
So, what would be the strings?
The next ingredient listed Vino Blanco.
“Hmm…The only thing I have is the Chianti and we are breaking rules here, so….”
The cork lifted easily. She topped of her glass and added a good measure to the pan. Sizzling liquid swelled up, as she scraped the bits from the bottom of the skillet as magic continued. Opening the pot, the al dente pasta sat, ready to be used. The crescendo continued. Bass tones began to appear, and an egg was cracked over the whole. Laughing, she thought it was the fitting climax to a meal of love.
Doubling a towel to protect her hands, she took the skillet off the heat. Turning back toward the table, she recited the old prayer.
“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Amen.”
Michael was standing at the head of the table, smiling and sipping his own glass of wine. Shocked, it was all Mary could do to set the heavy pot down without spilling. His arms opened in invitation, which was accepted. Smiling into the stubble lined face, the dance continued as day faded into dusk. 
“Signora?” The docent put the smelling salts under her nose. “Signora, are you alright?”
The sound was muffled to her. Slowly, the eyes fluttered open, but everything is out of focus. Her hand touched the edge of the divan. Her blouse was loosened, and the air is chill against the bare skin. As her wits slowly come back, she looks up and sees a small Picasso behind the administrator’s desk. It was the replaced by Michael’s worried face. 
“What a day. When I got back to the villa, I saw you hadn’t got back.” He knelt and took her hand. “I was worried something had happened. A taxi was waiting across the street, I took it down here. The staff was carrying here into the office…”
As her vision blurred again, she gave a prayer of thanks. He does care. Let the celebration begin.

Pic Guesses- Cubist (in blog), Picasso (in blog), Sketch, Dada, Deranged, Menage a trois, The Maddening Crowd, Bohemian.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tiny House (Blogophilia 38.10)

I want a tiny house
On tiny wheels
With dollhouse furniture
To escape the world

I want to pack up an old, beat up suitcase
Take a bus and look out over the Mississippi
Then look down and see the suitcase missing

Eat Red Beans and Rice
With Beignets and Coffee for desert
Listening to old buskers
Sing from their soul

To be lost in the maze until the swamp runs out
Where the hurricanes thrash hardy inhabitants
Flipping middle fingers in response.

The edge of America.
Is where I want to be.

Topic (lost in the maze)-Rutger Siskens
Pic guesses: Dollhouse (in blog), Tiny house (in blog), suitcase (in blog), On the go, well traveled, tiny town, small flat.
The full quote is from the movie Tightrope (1984) (courtesy IMDB.com):
Wes Block: Twenty-eight years ago I borrowed 40 dollars from my father, packed up an old, beat up suitcase, took a bus and came here. I was seventeen at the time. While I walked through the French Quarter, I looked out over the Mississippi and swore I'd never leave.
Beryl Thibodeaux: Ever come close?
Wes Block: Only once. When I looked down and saw that the suitcase was missing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Anathema (Blogophilia 36.10)

  • Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive him and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.[1]
The canticle above (translated from the Latin) is the end of the “Anathema Formulae”, the original Bell, Book and Candle rite. It is not a long piece, maybe 15 or 20 minutes in length. Like the gallows, it has the finality of the Grim Reaper. It was a public litany, designed to be performed in conspicuous places, such as the town square, for maximum effect, scaring anyone wasn’t toeing the religious party line. Like parents warning their offspring: “Listen you two, I’m against promoting romance. It will only lead to no good.” Rumors of other unrelated character assassinations often circulated through the crowd beforehand to hype the spectacle. Jeers would be hurled at the miscreant, while the crowd silently reminded themselves they easily could be up there.
The local Bishop, along with twelve priests carrying candles would recite the words from the missal book, with the sinner’s accusations and attempts at reconciliation brought to the light of day. The chancel bell would be rung at the beginning and a appropriate times during the process. At then end, the twelve would extinguish the candles against the ground while chanting “So be it” three times. The book would then be closed, with an assumption that it never would open again. The sinner was incorrigible, irredeemable and unworthy, excluded (often permanently) from all communion and fellowship of the faith. 
Because of the severity of the discipline, Papal approval was often required. The most common reasons were heretical thought, such as doubting Clerical authority, witchcraft, or similar temptations. Was it abused? Of course. The Spanish Inquisition took it to extremes with Auto De Fé’s and other tortures separating parts from the body of any who the powers deemed heretical. Protestant sects have used versions of this to rid their flocks of trouble makers (up to and including the gallows). 
The formal rite was dropped officially with the Second Vatican Council (although it hadn’t been performed in at least 100 years). These days, the offender is brought into the office and kicked out without fanfare. Or with a splashy social media campaign, if circumstances require. But we still find people worthy of exclusion. 
Who have you deemed unworthy in your life? Do they feel the same way about you?
Pic Guesses: Witchcraft (in blog), Cauldrons of trouble, Pumpkin Spice, Temptation (in blog), Spellbound, Enchanted, Sin with me,