Thursday, April 28, 2016

In the Moment (FF)

copyright - Mary Shipman
FF- Friday Fictioneers

Why it happened or how it happened nobody knows, but on May 9th, 2013 at exactly 12:00 P.M. time stopped.

It simply stopped dead and refused to advance. Wherever an individual was at that moment was where he or she stayed.

The most unlucky among us were those who were taking inventory in a store, getting fired, or on a blind date.  The luckiest among us were those who were with family, friends, or Scarlett Johansson.

But luckiest of all was the United States of America. Because on May 9th, 2013 at exactly 12:00 P.M., one billionaire businessman named Donald Trump was in the bathroom and the door was jammed shut.


Now I realize there are logical inconsistencies with the post above. If time stops, it doesn't really matter where Donald Trump is as of three years ago because nothing further is going to happen with him or anyone else anyway.  

And even if I'm with Scarlett Johansson (just to pick me at random for this example), I'll probably be sick of her after 10 billion of the same moments with her. And it's remotely possible she might be slightly sick of me too.

But my artistic license is all paid up, so let's go with it. And if you click here, you can also go with the responses of the other Friday Fictioneers to the picture prompt above. That is, once time starts up again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016



As of April 25th of this year, my son Brandon is 21 years old. I'm proud that he is turning into a happy, healthy, and intelligent young man with a wide variety of interests and a well-adjusted and positive outlook on life and the future.

Just one thing.

Why can't he still be eleven?!

Though I do miss the days gone by, as a hardcore realist I must accept the fact that children grow up and move on and that life is a constantly changing enterprise. Also I must accept the fact that I don’t for a minute believe that nonsense I just wrote in the last sentence.

“Happy Birthday, Brandon!” I said via Facetime on the special day.

“Thanks, Dad,” Brandon replied.  “I was just on my way out.”

“Bet I know what you’re going,” I said with a knowing grin.  “Now that you’re 21 years old, you’re headed out to try drinking alcohol for the first time.”

“Umm … yeah … yeah, Dad.  That’s exactly it.”

“I knew it! I was just the same way when I turned 16 … I mean, turned 21!”

“Sorry I can’t talk longer, Dad. I’ve got some people waiting for me.”

“Sure, sure, go be with your little friends. But let me make a suggestion: Start your drinking experiences with something simple and basic, like the drink they call beer.  Do you want me to spell it for you?”

“Is it b-i-e-r, Dad?”

“No, it’s not,” I laughed.  “I’ll text you the proper spelling.  In six months or so we’ll step up to vodka. That’s spelled v-o-d…”

“Thanks, Dad.  I’ll look forward to it. Gotta go!”

“One more thing, Bran.  Though it's over a year away, I’d like to talk to you about where you’re going to live when college is over.”

“Oh, I don’t know yet.  I’ll have a job of some kind and a place of my own, I guess.”

“That’s just it.  A place of your own is very expensive. I know of a place that’s very inexpensive.  In fact, it’s free.”

“What kind of a place is free?”

“Our basement!  And utilities are included too.”

“Dad, a basement is a last resort if a kid doesn’t have a job.”

“Well, I’m going to encourage you to think of it as your first resort! With pool table, vintage TV that works if you kick it, and close proximity to a laundromat that doesn’t require coinage.”

"Well, Dad, we’ll see."

"Okay. I'll throw in a Jacuzzi. I'll call the contractor right now.”

“I hope he shows up before I'm married with children.”

“One more thing, Bran.  I’m looking at a picture of you when you were about 5, the one where you’re sitting in the green chair. Here I’ll show it to you.”

“Sure, I remember that one. So?”

"Be HIM!"

"Excuse me?"

"Be HIM!  The Brandon in the picture."  

"Oh, I see.  You asked me that once before."

"Be HIM again! I miss him." 

“I’m sorry, Dad. I don’t think I can actually become him again." 

“I didn’t really think you could. No harm asking."  

"Talk to you soon, Dad.”

"Yep. Enjoy the bier!”

My son Brandon is now 21 years old. I must accept the fact that children grow up and move on and life is a constantly changing enterprise.

And frankly, it’s enough to drive me to drink!


If you liked this post, you may also like Bedtime Story,  Why Can't He Be Seven?, and Brandon Block IS The Graduate.

If you hated this post, I hope whenever you order a beer they always serve you bier!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What's It All About, Afikomen?

  I would have helped her look.

The Passover holiday which begins this year on the eve of Friday, April 22 is a truly magical time.  

Jewish families gather together to enjoy a lovely and traditional evening meal known as a Seder while recounting the ages old story of the very first Passover which celebrates freedom and features the needless deaths of thousands of people, including children, at the hands of pestilence, plagues, and the arbitrary whim of an often tyrannical and brutal Old Testament God.

Looks like somebody got up on the wrong side of the cloud!

But despite all this, Passover is probably the most fun of all the Jewish holidays, and one of the traditions that makes it so is the hiding of the Afikomen.

So, what's it all about, Afikomen? 

The Afikomen is half of a piece of matzo which has been broken in two early in the Seder and set aside to be eaten as a dessert after the meal. The name "Afikomen" comes from the ancient Hebrew and means "that which makes a dry and shitty dessert." 

The procedure is as follows: The leader of the Seder, known alternately as the Trebek or the Sajak, takes the middle piece of matzo out from a stack of three matzos and breaks it in half.  Nobody yells at him for this because the matzo is supposed to be broken, but his wife may yell at him later about other stuff. (Optional).

The Trebek or the Sajak then wraps the larger piece of matzo in a napkin, teaches it to answer to the name “Afikomen” and leaves the table to hide the Afikomen somewhere in the home. This enables the children, who may have become restless during the Seder, to engage in a little harmless fun ransacking the house.  It also provides the adults the opportunity to talk dirty.

To find the Afikomen, the children will search high and low, over and under, and to and fro.  They may also search hither and yon, but only if the house is zoned for it. They will empty cabinets, turn over lamps, and smash fine glassware. They will sack the house in the same manner as Alaric sacked Rome, and some may even bring in Alaric to consult. 
Here are some great places to hide the Afikomen:

1) Inside a book, especially if the Kardashians are your Seder guests.

2) Between the living room sofa cushions. Even the most intrepid youngster fears thrusting his or her hands into the change, chapsticks, combs, dentures, and whatever manner of man or beast is already lodged within. Frankly so do I.
3) In the sock drawer, where the socks may educate the Afikomen as to how to mysteriously vanish and turn up six months later wedged between the washer and dryer and covered with dust.

4)  Under the hood of the car. What Jewish person, adult or child, is ever going to look there?

When at long last one of the children locates and retrieves the Afikomen, he or presents it to the Trebek or the Sajak and in return receives a present, traditionally the tidy sum of one dollar.  With the changing times, however, that traditional present has changed. It is now a blender.

There's nothing like the delight in an 8 year old's eyes when he or she snags a four speed Waring blender!

Much as I enjoy the customs of Passover, there is a tinge of sadness of days of Afikomens gone by.  I'm no longer the child scrambling eagerly through my parents' house seeking the elusive matzo nor am I any longer the Trebek or Sajak -- or even the dad --- seeking the perfect hiding place for the next generation of Afikomens for my own kids. 

So, what's it all about, Afikomen? 

It's about memories, family, and tradition.  And for most of us, a hell of a lot better and sweeter desert at the end of the Seder than the Afikomen!


 If you liked this post you may also like It's a Miracle!, In Search of Big Eli , and The Year We Built The Sukkah. 

If you hated this post, I hope you find yourself crossing the Red Sea, and just as you are almost fully across you hear a thundering voice echoing from on high majestically intoning "looks like you're shit out of luck, dude!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Behind Barbed Wire (FF)

FF- Friday Fictioneers
copyright - Madison Woods

"If only I could tear it down and free myself!" shouted Anatole.

"You've got to get a hold of yourself," Francois shot back. "Accept what is!"

"I'll never accept it!  I am tormented by this barbed wire fence all around us!"

“I knew things would eventually come to this, Anatole. The way you’re always questioning, always doubting, always mouthing off.”  

“How do you stand it, Francois?"   

“I accept things as is.”

Anatole and Francois packed up their gear and climbed into the Francois and Anatole’s Fence Company truck.

"Look, Anatole, it's a good fence and the customer was satisfied," said Francois. "You've got to stop being such a perfectionist!" 


Well, did I fool ya into thinking these guys were some kind of political prisoners in the old Soviet Union, some third world country, or Texas?  No?  You were onto me all the time?  Well, serves me right for not being a perfectionist!

If you want to check out the work of the other Friday Fictioneers relative to the picture prompt above, please click here.  Every one is a perfectionist in his or her own way but always in a good way.

As for Anatole, he is imprisoned not by a fence but by his own mind. And that may be the worst imprisonment of all.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Release the Bar Mitzvah Pictures!

In the style of the Onion.
(I didn't say as good as the Onion.)

Claiming that "alleged progressive" candidate for President U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders may well be a fraud, a charlatan, or even worse, a businessman!, former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has challenged Senator Sanders to release the pictures from his niece Shelly's son Joel's Bar Mitzvah, celebrated on March 14, 2016. 

"Senator Sanders tries to pose as an authentic progressive by wearing shabby wrinkled suits and leaving his thin gray hairs uncombed," Clinton charged, "but the truth is that at his nephew Joel's Bar Mitzvah, Senator Sanders was well-groomed!" 

“He combed and sprayed his hair!  He had a well-pressed Brooks Brothers suit on! He wore wingtips which were immaculately shined!"

Secretary Clinton's vehement demand that Sanders release the Bar Mitzvah pictures is seen as a powerful counter punch to Sanders' demand that Clinton release transcripts of speeches she has given to Wall Street bigwigs. A clearly flustered Senator Sanders yesterday dodged the issue by asserting that Joel's Bar Mitzvah pictures are not yet back from the photographer. 

"What can I do?" Sanders shrugged " For all I know Shelly hasn't even picked out the proofs yet!"

But even some of his supporters aren’t buying this.  Bernie supporter actress Susan Sarandon has announced that if Joel's Bar Mitzvah pictures show Sanders dancing the hora with his hair unmussed, she may hora over to John Kasich.

Additionally Secretary Clinton has released the pictures to every Bar Mitzvah she has ever attended.  "I have nothing to hide," exulted Clinton," I always wear my characteristically frumpy pants suit and I plan to do the same at my granddaughter Charlotte's Bas Mitzvah ten years from now."

"When,  of course, I'll still be president," she added.


If you liked this post you might also like Trump Stung by Mosquito, Lashes Out at Bug ChicksSelf-Deprecating Man May Really Be As Incompetent As He Says, and The Great Youth Serum Scam

If you hated this post, I hope Hillary Clinton forces you to release the pictures from your Bar Mitzvah and it turns out your fly is down in every damn one of them!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Brace Yourself, Perry!

 This is the brace I wear.
Otherwise, that ain't me.

As those of you who regularly read this column are well aware, there is virtually no one who regularly reads this column. But if such a person did exist, he or she would invariably be familiar with the fact that for the last several years:
I've Been Melting!

That is, I'm shrinking away before your very eyes.  Where I was once five foot ten, not tall enough for the NBA but tall enough to reach everything in the cabinets atop the refrigerator, now to reach over top of the freezer is tantamount to reaching the summit of Everest. 

Both Daniel Radcliffe and Kevin Hart call me "shrimp-ass."

The culprit is scoliosis, the condition that renders my spine a human-scale replica of Lombard Street in San Francisco.  And though scoliosis is not reversible,  Dr. Kropotkin has prescribed a back brace to help me stand up straighter and provide a much-needed boost to my posture and self-esteem.

I had hoped the back brace would be undetectable when worn under clothing, but unfortunately it produces a sizable bulge in the back. The net effect is that I look like a hunchback with very good posture.  So it was with trepidation and uncertainty that I, bound-up in my bulging back brace, ventured forth into the world for the first time. 

In the Wawa convenience store, my first stop, I felt that all eyes were upon me, generally at a rate of two per person.

"What happened, fella?" asked a 20-ish guy. 

"I have scoliosis. You know, curvature of the spine."

"That's tough, friend.  Must hurt bad. Here let me get you some coffee!"

Well, free stuff!  That's not so bad. Even though the scoliosis really doesn't hurt, it seemed the brace served as a conversation piece that had its inherent benefits.

A bit later, I was in a deli.

"Are you in much pain, sir?" asked a woman older than I am, if such even exists anymore.

Why not up the ante a bit, I thought?  Let's see what kind of prize in the Cracker Jack box I can wangle out of this one.

"It only hurts when I laugh," I replied, "which the doctor has ordered me to discontinue doing."

"Poor dear!" she said. "Would you like a corned beef sandwich?"

I sure would! I wouldn't have minded some coleslaw and Russian dressing too.

"What happened to you, mister?" asked an eight year old boy when I was food shopping several hours later.

I wasn't going to get much out of the little tyke, I realized, but let's practice taking it to the next level anyway. 

"It's a very painful football injury, son.  Years ago when I was quarterback for my college team I was running into the end zone for the game winning touchdown when I was flattened by a 350 pound linebacker."

"Don't bother the nice man, Johnny," came a nearby voice emanating from a quite attractive middle-aged woman.   

"He was a football hero, Mom-Mom," said Little Johnny.

"Oh, really!" replied the woman. "My ex-husband played football too." 

"Is that so?" I said, adjusting the brace. "I wonder if he ... OOOHHH!" 

"Oh, sorry you hurt so bad!" said Mom-Mom empathetically. "Maybe after I drop Johnny off at his mom's you and I can have some coffee and get acquainted?"

Well, what do you know? The back brace is helping me after all.

Too bad it isn't doing anything for my back.


If you liked this post, you might also like I'm Melting!,  Vitilago Whoah-oh!, and The Incredible Shrinking JewIf you hated this post, I hope you begin dating the woman wearing the back brace above,
and it turns out the brace doubles as a chastity belt!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Book of Norman (FF)

FF - Friday Fictioneers
Copyright Kent Bonham

"This is it, Maya!" exclaimed Professor Lance Lewitsky to his young assistant, Maya Majoun. "At long last we have found the fabled Book of Norman!"

"Professor!" Maya shouted triumphantly, "this is wonderful!"

"Yes, Maya!  Those who hold this book in their hands will be granted great bounty!"

"So I have heard," said Maya.  "But how do you know possession of the Book of Norman has such power?

"Because Norman said so. He said he'd give us somethin' nice if we found the book he left on the bus." 

"Amazing!" exclaimed Maya.

"Yep," said Lewitsky. "We might even get Flyers tickets." 


The fabled Book of Norman is not to be confused with the Book of Mormon because it doesn't have any songs and it hasn't won any Tonys. It does, however, have the power to get you Flyers Tickets and/or the best cheese steak in town, whatever your preference and the state of Norman's generosity at the time.

The other Friday Fictioneers all have different interpretations of the picture prompt above, and Maya Majoun and I hereby jointly bade you undertake an epic exploration of each one of them by clicking here.

I am frankly a bit behind in reading the stories of other Fictioneers and that may persist for a few weeks.  I beg your indulgence, I beg your pardon, and I beg whatever spare change you got rattling around in your pockets. And Norman begs you too.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Resignation

"And we have Breaking News here on CNN! The knife that was found at the former OJ Simpson Property several months ago that was determined not to be the murder weapon has now been determined to be the dinner knife that OJ used to eat peas!"  

"I'm Brooke Baldwin and these are my cheek bones." 

"Joining me now is our special OJ Dream Team panel composed of ...."

"Wait! We have further Breaking News! It has just been announced that the Lord God, King of the Universe, is stepping down from his position as God from on High effective May 1, 2016.  And with us now is .... the God of our Fathers!  Welcome to CNN, sir."

"Thank you, Brooke.  By the way, great cheekbones!  Some of my best work, if I do say so myself."

"I've been meaning to thank you for them, God."

"You're welcome.  You know, Brooke, I have a son just about your age.  Would you like to meet him?"

"Perhaps we could discuss that off the air.  First up,  I want to be clear right from the beginning. What do you prefer to be called?  Yahweh?  Elohim? Allah?"

"I have always preferred Kippy.  Don't ask."

"OK, Kippy.  So, I'd like to know what's prompted you to take this rather extreme action at this time?"

"Brooke, it's not extreme at all.  I never meant for this to be a full-time job."


"One afternoon I happened to look down and I noticed that the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and I figured WTF!  I ought to do something with that.  True story!"

"About how long did it take you to put all of Creation together?" 

"I dunno, a week maybe.  I could have done it a lot more quickly if I'd used a mix."

"So what you're telling me, Kippy, is that overseeing and controlling everything that is --- the entire universe and all living things within it --- was just a hobby for you? Sort of like golf?"

"Oh, my word, Brooke, no, not at all!  Golf is much harder."

"So why are you stepping down now as Lord of the Universe?"

"I don't think I like organized religion."

"How's that?”

"Well, millions of times a day I'm asked to bless someone for sneezing. What if I don't want to bless them?  What if I want to bless you but I don't want to bless Anderson Cooper? And why should I bless anybody for spreading snotty germs anyway?" 

"I thought you were  going to mention how organized religion has fomented bigotry, hatred, violence, and war all throughout history."

"Yeah, that too."

"Is there anything you do like about religion?  How about being omniscient?" 

"Oh my me, that's  the worst!"

"How so?"

"Ever see the movie The Sixth Sense, Brooke."


"Imagine you're just about to watch The Sixth Sense for the first time and someone tells you the ending.

"Yeah, that would be lousy."

"Well, imagine you had that same kind of thing going on from the time of the Big Bang to the end of the Universe and beyond!"

"I get it."

"There's not a lot of suspense for me, I'm tellin' ya." 

"Do you like the holidays that come from religion?"

"I can't make hide nor hair of most of them. What's the deal with Good Friday anyway? Why is it called Good Friday?  My son was there when it started and believe me, he doesn't think there was anything good about it!"

"Do you like Passover any better?"

"It's too violent. If I'd been more focused at the time I'd have made  Death of the First Born into something more like the Severely Scraped Knee of the First Born.  That would have been more than enough to get the job done."

"Okay, Kippy, I see why you're calling it quits.  Are you also retiring?”

“Of course not!  I’m only 14 billion and a half years old.  Just this past Thursday, in fact."  

"Happy Birthday!  What’s your secret?"

"Always take the stairs."

"Do you have any plans now that you're no longer going to be King of the Universe?"

"Yes, I have a number of other interests, most of which I can't explain intelligibly to human beings.  And, of course, lotsa golf.

"Best of luck to you, Kippy!  Our time is up, but I just wanted to add one more thing now that I've finally met you after all these years."

"Yes, Brooke?"

"Funny, you don’t look Jewish."

“Yeah, I get that all the time."


If you liked this post, you might also like And How Do You Take Your God,  Hello Yahweh!, and Go Down, Twitter. If you hated this post, I hope Elijah the Prophet comes to your house this Passover and NEVER leaves!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Three in One Hundred (FF)

FF-Friday Fictioneers
Copyright: J Hardy Carroll 

It was a cold and stormy night and although soaked to the bone, my spirits rose when I saw a light shining in the decayed castle ahead.

“Walk this way" said the hunchback greeting me at the door, and although it seemed silly I obliged, dragging my left leg in the self-same manner as the pitiable fellow.

We entered Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory.

“Fortuitous!” exclaimed Frankenstein. “I am just in need of a brain for the monster.”

How about that, folks? Three clich├ęs in 100 words.  Not bad for a guy who had no earthly idea what to do with the prompt!  


Yes, I certainly took the low road this week, slinging a ragtag bunch of cliches at you instead of coming up with a real story.  If I were you, I wouldn't even lower myself to read it! 

I just remembered how few of you ever do. 

You can read actual stories by the other Friday Fictioneers, however, by clicking here. They're all pretty good, but just try to find "a dark and stormy night" in the bunch!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Just What the Doctor Didn't Order

It's often been said that Pennsylvania is actually two states, not one. These two states are:

1) Philadelphia, and

2) All the rest of Pennsylvania that ain't Philadelphia.

For the most part, Philadelphia views all the rest of Pennsylvania that ain't Philadelphia as composed of hayseeds in romantic love with the Second Amendment, and all the rest of Pennsylvania that ain't Philadelphia views Philadelphia as the world's foremost hotbed of sin, wickedness, and depravity.

Notwithstanding the failure of Philadelphia to live anywhere near up to its reputation when it comes to me, however, it seems that the world’s foremost hotbed of sin, wickedness, and depravity is poised to score a major victory over the rest of Pennsylvania. That is, over the rest of Pennsylvania that ain't it.

Now my dope smoking days are rather solidly in the rear view mirror, but this bit of news coupled with the various aches, pains, and coronaries of modern Boomer life got me to thinking that it might not be half bad if certain objects in the rear view mirror turned out to be closer than they seem.

So I called my family doctor.

"Dr. Kropotkin!  I can't believe I got you on the phone."

"Well, you know I'm very busy. Who is this?"

"This is your longstanding patient, Perry Block."

"OMG, I’m really, really busy, gotta go!"

"You know, Dr. Kropotkin, sometimes I wonder if you actually are that busy or if it's me."

"Mostly it's you.  You have 30 seconds."

"Doctor, I understand medical marijuana may be coming to Pennsylvania soon."

"So they say.  Twenty-five seconds left."

"Well, I want to get on your radar for some dope --- I mean medical marijuana --- when the time comes."

"Perry, I can't prescribe medical marijuana for no reason at all."

"No reason at all?!! I'm a virtual walking ER of symptoms!"

"Such as?"

"My scoliosis.  You know my spine is shaped like the piping under your kitchen sink."

"Perry, medical marijuana is not going to straighten your spine."

"I know, but the more I sit around contemplating the universe the less likely I am to care about it." 

"Twenty seconds."  

"Don't forget I have vitiligo.  I have white patches all over my skin!"  

"Perry, your dermatologist Dr. Joy Davis has advised me your case of vitiligo is not that bad."

"Not that bad?  Cruella de Vil has been stalking me for my coat!"

"Fifteen seconds."

"Eye floaters."

"Everybody has eye floaters."

"Mine are the size of a Buick."

"Buicks are fashionable now.  Look, over there, that guy getting out of one outside the nightclub: that's not your grandpa!  Ten seconds."

"Very painful corns, Dr. Kropotkin."

"Go to the foot doctor and get them cut off."

"I'll never make it. You have to walk across a former Civil War battlefield to get to her office."

"Five seconds, and I'm free."

"Aren't you forgetting something very important, doctor?"

"For the sake of the medical profession, I hope not."

"My psychological problems:  Rampant insecurity, aging angst, and my desire to return to the womb provided they put in a wet bar."

"Oh, crap!  Okay, how many ounces do you need and what flavor do you prefer?"

"I'll leave that up to your professional judgment.  And oh, Dr. Kropotkin? 


"Could you also write me a script for a very nice bong and a psychedelic poster of Jimi Hendrix?"


If you hated this post, I hope your doctor writes you a script for Medical Marijuana and it turns out to be oregano!