Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Harborside Hero (FF)

"Perry, do something!" my date Janet shouted as the two of us saw a man slip and fall in the harbor where we were having drinks at a waterside cafe.

"Me?  Why me?"  I gasped. "What about everyone else?"

"Do you see anyone else going in?  Help him, for god sakes!”

"But I'm not that good swimmer! I wore a Mae West Jacket until I was 27.  I always get severe water in the ear.  I'm a sinker, not a floater!” 

“But he's floundering!"

“Umm... do you think the water in the harbor is heated?”

“Never mind!  I’ll do it.”

And Janet dove in. Last thing I saw of her, she and the drowning man were having dinner together.

Maybe I’ll just throw myself in the harbor next.


I thought it might be time for a tale of heroism and bravery featuring me, and ... ahem ... here it is!  Only thing is, the heroism and bravery belongs 100% to Janet, zero to me. 

Well, at least I'm here today to chronicle her valiant story as my entry in this week's Friday Fictioneers' happenings and events.  Further happenings and events as chronicled by the other Fictioneers are available by clicking here.

Hey, stop splashing me!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Caribbean Cruise Call

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

I frequently receive that phone call with the recorded female voice telling me I have just won a fantastic prize.

You’ve probably received it also.

"Hello!  I am 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! 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 the Wreck of the Hesperus.

Do they think I was born yesterday?  Not that I wouldn't prefer to have been born yesterday, I'd still have puberty to look forward to.

"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. 

If I'd really won such a prize like this, 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 nude beaches, favorite playgrounds of supermodels from around the world.
That's when I always slam the phone down in disgust.

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! You look great!"

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

"Wait ... you mean ... the all-expenses paid trip 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 listen to the message right up to the part about supermodels, a live person comes on and signs you right up!"   

"But that's the point when I cut off!"

"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.  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 with overly flowery opening and closing plus prodigious 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 Thursday night bowling team scorecard than a term paper. 

Done! Usually five minutes before due.

But then PCs were invented.  Though too late for my college experience and too many other experiences beyond then, 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 45 page legal brief for the Supreme Court 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 Heck Is It Called?

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

I just did that thing again, this time in the supermarket. Except for the extra added attraction of shopping carts, it was the same bizarre maneuver as always, the one in which we all participate from time to time all throughout our lives. 

But what the heck 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 essential and inherent when suddenly facing you and approaching in the opposite direction is another individual of the self-same 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, then to the right, then to the left; he or she moves to the left, then to the right, then to the left (take a breath, Perry!) ... and so on and so forth!

You have never been so in sync with another human being's instincts and movements without having sex with them. For a moment you contemplate spending the rest of your life here, locked in perpetual back and forth motion.

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 heck 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.  

We have all executed this maneuver on multiple occasions.  It is performed millions of times each year all throughout the world, even if we don't count the red states.  It doesn't matter if you are an oafish clod or the most coordinated athlete in the world. If you've ever seen two gymnasts execute the act, they usually wind up screwing themselves half 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; I fear not having it!), 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 ever had, 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 apparently no name for the unintentionally synchronized maneuver in which two people routinely indulge in an ineffectual effort to get themselves out of each other's way.  

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 heck is it called?" 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Ridin' Them Rails (FF)

copyright Jennifer Pendergast

From the time he was young, Vladimir Prohofsky Jr. loved to ride the rails. He'd hop a train and ride in the cattle car, freight car, or empty boxcar all the way to the end of line and then hop another.

Over the many long years he rode this country from Maine to California and Canada to the Rio Grande.

One day in a box car to St. Louis, Vladimir awoke with a start.  "I must be less forgetful," he thought.

That evening Vladimir checked into the Four Seasons, ordered a $5,000 bottle of wine, and was seen arm in arm with doubtless the most beautiful woman in St. Louis. Vladimir was heir to the Vladimir Prohofsky Sr. fortune, estimated at 75 million dollars.

Vladimir was not an eccentric.

He just had a very poor memory.


I'm hoping that Vladimir Prohofsky Jr.'s  poor memory may distract you from my poor word counting abilities, this piece coming in at over 120 words.  At least you and I and Vladimir got to travel the country for the extra few words in this, my weekly Friday Fictioneers entry based on the picture prompt above.

If you feel like heading to the end of line yourself, click below to hop aboard the entries of the other Friday Fictioneers.

All aboard!  Watch out for that poop in the cattle car.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Welcome to Bizarro World (FF)

Lauren Moscato
copyright Lauren Moscato

"Welcome to Bizarro World, friends my! I am Zontar."

"Thanks, Zontar. Gee, this place is odd!”

"How so odd is?"

"Trees grow upside down, the sky is green and the grass is blue, and Donald Trump is a pleasure to be around."

"Normal seem to us, friends my!"

"And then there's the height of the doors. How do you get into your houses?"

“Into your houses get?  Why?  No one into their houses get.”

"Well, where do you sleep? How do you keep warm?" 

“Sleep in street.  Freezing cold year most of. Most brilliant leaders never been solve able to.”

“Well, Zontar, friend ours: Looks like we picked the right planet to invade after all!”


At first I toyed with the idea that the door 15 feet above the ground was installed by skilled Jewish craft persons, but I finally decided not to pick on my own people in favor of picking on the residents of the mythical Bizarro World in this, my weekly Friday Fictioneers story in response to the picture prompt above.

I can't wait to see what other explanations the other Friday Fictioneers have for the incredible door from up on high, and you can see them too by clicking here.

See you in Bizarro World, friends my!