Monday, April 27, 2015

Caribbean Cruise Call

Plus exotic ports of call!  Yeah, sure ...

I frequently get that call you might have also have received, the one with the recorded female voice telling me I have just won a super fantastic prize.

"Hellooo!  I am very happy to tell you that you have been selected to receive an all-expenses paid two week cruise to the Caribbean!"

"Here we go again!" I always say under my breath. What's the catch?

"There is no catch.  You'll chart a course from New York City aboard a luxury liner that makes the Queen Mary 2 look like it belongs on the U.S. Navy target practice range.  You'll enjoy a private state room with Jacuzzi, fully stocked bar, and 3-D television with screen the size of actor Brad Garrett."

Do they think I was born yesterday?  Not that I wouldn't prefer to be born yesterday, as opposed to when I was born.

"We do not think you were born yesterday.  Aboard ship you'll enjoy four star dining, three Olympic size swimming pools, a Robert Trent Jones Championship Golf Course, and private Observatory with the ship's resident physicist Neil deGrassse Tyson. You will meet and greet members of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and another team to be announced, which we promise will be a contender." 

Hah, sure! If I'd really won such a fantastic prize, wouldn't an actual person be handling the call, not a programmed voice? I'll bet there's an ocean of hidden charges!

"There is no ocean of hidden charges. But there are exotic ports of call like the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, St. Martins, Barbados, and more, many featuring topless and nude beaches, favorite havens of supermodels from around the world.

That when I always slam the phone down in disgust. "Ought to be a law against this kind of thing!" I practically shout. Gotta get myself on the No-Call List.

A couple of weeks ago I ran into my friend Farbman at the bank.  He looked tanned and rested.

"Farbman!" I exclaimed. "You look great!"

"Well, I just got back from an all-expenses paid Caribbean cruise!"

"Wait ... you mean ... from the phone call?"

"Sure, got the call last month.  Fantastic food, great islands, met the Yankees. That Neil deGrasse Tyson is such a card!"

"But ... but it all sounds so bogus."

"It's made to sound that way. It's paid for by a billionaire who loves trusting, positive, non-judgmental people. If you're patient enough to listen to the message to the part about ports of call, a live person comes on and signs ya right up!"   

"But that's the point when I ... I mean that's when I … when I usually…,,"

"Yeah, he doesn't want any negative, doubting, impatient jerks ruining the trip."

“But, but, but ...”

"If you're lucky enough to get the call, Perry, hang on for dear life!! Oh, those topless beaches are incredible!"

Since then I haven't received the call.  Not even once. Though I pretty much don't leave the house waiting for it.

Is there such a thing as a "Please Call List?"


Thursday, April 16, 2015

How PCs Changed My Life

As is the case with many of you, PCs changed my life. 

Back in the day when I was in college, there was always someone around --- a friend, acquaintance, or someone's girlfriend --- who would be wont to say something like:

"Oh, I always wait before the night a term paper is due to start it.  Doesn't matter if it has to be 30 pages or more.  Drafts?  Nah, I can always type a paper straight out.  I usually get an A too." 

I would contrast this statement with my experience of writing a term paper, which required more drafts than you'd find in a Bavarian Beer hall during Oktoberfest. Banging away at my manual typewriter with invariably sticking keys, I'd produce a free-form first draft that unleashed half-baked ideas written in third grade language swirling from page to page like drunken sailors.

The second draft would assemble the more credible of the ideas into presentable but ungainly order and raise the level of writing to middle school remedial, and the third would laboriously finally give rise to hopefully coherent college-level content plus overly flowery opening, closing, and padding where needed, relevant, and warranted. 

But that still wasn't all. Draft Three could never be submitted for your approval until graced with extensive handwritten adjustments, insertions, cross-outs, and arrows until it came to more closely resemble a bowling scorecard than a term paper. 

Done! Usually five minutes before due.

But then PCs were invented.  Though too late for college and more than a bit beyond, writing at long last became enjoyable, relatively quick, and Oktoberfest-free.

And so it was at a college reunion a few years ago, I ran into one of those people who once so bedeviled me with their professions of term paper prowess.

"I remember you," I said. "You were George's roommate."

"Yes, I'm Jack."

"I remember you were always a very fast writer. Once I heard you say you could write a 30 page term paper in one night."

"Yes, I did have that skill."

"Well, Jack, now with PC's, I'm a really fast writer too.  I venture to say I'm probably ... um ... almost as fast as you are."

"Well, that may be true," said Jack, "if you can check your substantial holdings in the market, play Rise of Empires at the championship level, and write a detailed 30 page legal brief the night before it is due."

Yes, PCs did change my life. 

But damn it, not enough!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where There's Smoke (FF)

 © Roger Bultot

"It was an unintended consequence of the legalization of marijuana,"said Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado, “but house fires are up over 50% in the state, and most of them go unreported because when a fire breaks out, no one seems to care."

"What can be done, Governor?" asked Reporter Doyle of the Chronicle.
"I’m proud to announce we've developed a new fire alarm system to fully address the problem.  As soon as the system detects smoke, it issues a special chemical into the environment."

"What does the chemical do?"

"In induces the feeling that philosophical questions about life are boring, you've a European Civilization final tomorrow, and who the hell wants to eat Oreos anyway!"


Ironically I read that Governor Hickenlooper has come out against legalization of marijuana stating that he wished it had never passed. I'm not sure about that, but I do wish to come out against the name Governor Hickenlooper, because it makes me giggle.

To see what the other Friday Fictioneers feel about Governor Hickenlooper, the picture prompt above, Oreo Cookies, and more, please click here.

Damn, I forgot about that final!

Monday, April 13, 2015

But What The Hell Is It Called?

Yep, there's a word for this, all right.

It happened again today, this time in the supermarket. Except for the added attraction of shopping carts, it was the same maneuver as always, the one in which we all participate from time to time. 

But what the hell is it called?

You know how it goes.  

You're walking down a hallway, aisle, runway, or any space where the act of walking down is possible when suddenly facing you and approaching in the opposite direction is another individual of the human species. He or she is walking directly in line with your intended trajectory and is proceeding rapidly toward you.

Sensing that there is a conflict of time and space, you both stop. The two of you are now facing each other like gunfighters in the old West.  What now to do to avoid the approaching collision?  

You move to the right.  He or she moves to the right.  You move to the left. He or she moves to the left. You move to the right again.  He or she moves to the right again.  You move to the left ... and so forth, and so on.

You have never been so in sync with another human being since the last time you had sex with someone with whom you were fully compatible.  That is, for most us, never. 

At that moment the two of you look at each other and smile.  You both think:
"We just did that thing again , but what the hell is it called?"  Then the quickest and ablest of the two of you makes a split-second move to one side - right or left - secures right of way, and both of you are finally able to move on and out of each other's lives.  
You've done this multiple times.  It is performed millions of times each year all throughout the world, even if we don't count Indiana and Arkansas.  It doesn't matter if you are an uncoordinated schmo like me or the most coordinated athlete in the world. If you've ever seen two gymnasts execute the act, they usually wind up screwing themselves into the ground before they find a way to eventually get past one other.

But what is this maneuver called?  How could it not have a name? 

The English language has seen fit to bestow words upon almost everything on the planet. We have a name for the indentation below the nose and above the lip even though no one knows what it is (see above).  There are names for all kinds of obscure phobias, like Omphalophobia (fear of navels), Chaetophobia (fear of hair; go figure!), and Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (fear of the number 666) which by the time you pronounce it the Anti-Christ has already come.

And there are words to describe bizarre diseases that almost no one has, like Pica (a voracious appetite for paint, clay, plaster or dirt), Palastaie Limosae (mud wrestling disease), and Foreign Accent Syndrome (something all of us could have used in high school French.)

But there is no name for the unintentionally synchronized maneuver in which two people routinely indulge in an effort to get themselves out of each other'sway.  Can you suggest a name?  You may not think it's important today, but just wait another month or two.

"I just did that thing again," you'll be thinking.  "But what the hell is it called?"