Saturday, March 29, 2014

Summer Says Let's Not Divide Up The CD Collection Just Yet

It started early, this year, and it didn't surprise me at all.  

Okay, it surprised me a little, but only because I hadn't heard it in four years.  Here in the Mid-Atlantic, after three consecutive mild and relatively snow-free winters, our comeuppance came up, with a vengeance.  Worse than the winter weather itself has been its extended duration, its mule-headed refusal to go away.  

Foo Dog, Failing.

So, what started early?  The protestations started early, and right on their heels came the reflexive anti-complainer complaints.  "You'll be whining about the summer heat in no time," and "You'll be missing winter by June," and so on.

I will not.  I promise.  There are some things I need to tell you about Summer.

Summer is the first girl who ever holds your hand, and you instantly get drunk on it.

Summer whispers things in your ear - exciting, confusing, innocent and racy and dangerous things.  Coming from Summer, they all make perfect sense.

Summer says yes, it's hot.  You've spent months all covered up, bundled in layer upon layer, as if you're being shipped cross-country.  It's unnatural.  Now, let's have a look at you.

Summer sings to you at night, replacing the dead silence of winter with a sweet, invisible symphony.  

She wraps herself around you every time you step outside, and when she refuses to let go, it is out of love, not desperation.  She adores you, but if you leave her, she'll remind herself that life is short, and simply wrap herself around someone else.  Everyone else, actually.  Her willingness to love others leaves you desiring her even more.

Sometimes, Summer falls down, but she always thinks it's funny.

If Spring is the chase, Summer is the conquest.  And it's a mutual conquest - the very best kind.

Summer is comfortable in her skin, whether she's sleeping by the pool all day, or howling, thundering, and storming all night.  She is who she is.

Summer doesn't mind making you uncomfortable.  She'll bite you, sting you, make you sweaty, even lightheaded, and give you poison ivy - all of which remind you that you're alive.

Summer doesn't need to drink; she wants to drink.

She doesn't care where you've been - she's happy that now, you're here instead of there.  

Summer doesn't watch the news.  She loves baseball, but has no idea where her team is in the standings, and she doesn't care.

Summer says come sail away with me.

Summer Sails

She makes you stare, catches you staring, and smiles at you when she does.  If you don''t stare, that's okay, too - she knows she's hot.

She's a smiling stranger in an open car, peering mischievously over shiny sunglasses, tempting you to climb inside and take off into the still warm air, where you entertain thoughts of never going home.  Summer has nowhere to be, and everywhere to go.

As August becomes September, Summer kisses you with strawberry-stained lips, says she loves you, and promises to return.  Hers is one of the few promises that, over your lifetime, will never be broken.

She is the rarest of first-loves - the one that never dies.

Another post prompted by the words of a fellow blogger, this one springs forth from "strawberry stained lips," which can be found in Theinnerzone's post NUCLEUS, on the blog A Beetle with Earrings.  There are over five hundred bloggers at Studio 30 Plus - check us out...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick's Search for Love

Dewy White Flower, by [Maris] - Louisa, KY 1997

"What about Knee-Brace Kenny," Laura Delite suggested.  "He seems positively smitten with you, Barb."

Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick scoffed.  "I don't even want to dignify that with a response.  You're lucky I don't--"

"Stab me?" Laura said.  "I mean, stab me again?"

"You know me so well.  Look - Kenny's very sweet, but he's just a boy.  I need a man.  A real man.  Plus, knee braces give me the willies something awful."

"Well, how about Magnetized James?  He's a man's man.  All the lady hoboes think he's a dream."

"Oh Laura, be serious," Barb groaned.  

"I am being serious," she insisted.  "You two made a swell couple.  Everyone said so."

"Oh, I know," Barb admitted, "but we had no future together.  The man is magnetized, you know.  Anything I had that was metal - my fork, my cans, my knives - they all stuck to him.  Once, I was about to stab this yard cop, and James got too close to me and ZAP!  There went my trusty stabbin' knife.  Cut him pretty bad.  Again."  She shook her head.  "No.  No future."

"Yes, I remember that story.  I felt bad.  If he weren't magnetic, it might have worked out."

"And don't even say Ironbelly Norton," Barb cautioned.

Laura Delite laughed.  "Oh, I wasn't going to bring him up, honey.  'Yes, Norton - you can eat gravel and newspapers and dead frogs, and not even throw up or anything.  We're all very impressed.  Isn't there anything else you can talk about?'"

"He was such a braggart," Barb nodded, looking down at the Louisville and Nashville trackbed as she walked.

"Say, how about Huge Crybaby McWeepy?" Laura proposed.  "He took a shine to you the minute he saw you."

Ol' Barb laughed loudly.

"What?  So he cried.  Most fellas cry when they get stabbed by a gorgeous blue-eyed dame from the road - or by anyone, for that matter."

"It's not just that he cried," Barb countered.  "But he's an ugly crier."

"An ugly crier?  Oh come now - who's not just a little bit ugly when they cry?"

"He looks like a circus clown when he cries.  So, no ma'am.  I think I'll pass on Mr. McWeepy."

"You're impossible," Laura said.  "You can't be so choosy, out here.  How about Stool-Sample Frank?  He's nice.  Tall, handsome, great smile, seems strong and kind."

"He's always trying to sell me a stool.  I'm a hobo.  What am I going to do with a stool, for goodness' sake?  And if I could afford a stool, would I be out here walking from town to town looking for work picking crops and cleaning stables?  No.  You're welcome to him."

Laura thought for a moment.  "No, you're right.  I forgot how hard he tried to sell those stools.  You'd be better off marrying No-Banjo Burnes."

"Ha!  The only man I ever failed to stab, and dare I say, he scared me, just a little.  I had nightmares of being beaten in my sleep with that rusty old banjo."

"If only you hadn't--"

"Don't."  Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick stopped in her tracks.  More accurately, she stopped in the L&N's tracks.  Either way, she stopped.  "Don't say his name."

His name was Shane Stoopback, and Barb had loved him, once.  He didn't love her back, and it made her as irrational as a schoolgirl with her first crush.  He ran from her, he hid from her, he begged her to leave him alone.  One night, she saw him sitting by his fire, singing a soft, pretty song to some woman she didn't know.  In a blind, jealous rage, she stabbed him to death.  The other woman ran off and hadn't been seen since.

"Have you ever considered trying not stabbing people?  It might help..."

"Never mind, Laura.  Some gals just ain't meant to find love.  I'm coming around to it.  I'm learning that it's not in the cards, for me.  I'll never find love, and that's just how it's going to be.  Thank God I have you, though."  She took her best friend's hand, and they continued west toward Memphis, into a hazy orange setting sun.

You silly woman, Laura thought.  Love has already found you.  You just don't see it, yet.  But so help me, you will.

Once again, I wrote in response to a wonderful prompt, "He's an ugly crier," excerpted from fellow STUDIO 30-PLUS blogger LM Leffew's elegant post THE KING IS DEAD.  Check it out.  She's really good!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pineneedle-Jacket Jericho Fop and The Tournament of Roses

"Grandpa, is Jericho Fop your real name?"  The child had been warned repeatedly not to ask her grandfather about his name or his past, but with her mother out for the evening and Grandpa babysitting, she decided it was time to know.

"Of course Fop isn't my real name!  What kind of a name is Fop?  No, I was born Jericho Sanford.  Well, technically, I was born with no name, but my parents - your great-grandparents - bestowed upon me the name Jericho Sanford, the day after I was born, back in 1909."

"Wow - you sure are old," she marveled, quickly trying to subtract 1909 from 1978, and wishing she had pencil and paper because it was too hard to do in her nine-year old head.

"Yes," he admitted, "I am.  Feel even older than that, sometimes."

"So, why are we the Sanfords, but you're a Fop?"

"When I was a hobo, they called me Pineneedle-Jacket Jericho Fop.  Hoboes liked to give each other funny names."

"Mama says I'm not supposed to ask about when you were a hobo..."  She was too young to know it, but she was giving her grandfather an out.  To her delight, he failed to take it.

"I'll give you the short version of the story, for now.  Don't tell your mother," he winked.

"I won't," she assured him.  "Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye."  She pantomimed stabbing herself in the face with what seemed to be a large, invisible knitting needle.  

"Don't hurt yourself, kid!  Now, let's see... I had a normal childhood in the very normal town of Kansas City, Missouri.  When my parents moved us to California, we took the train, and even though I was only twelve at the time, I fell head-over-heels in love with the railroad.  I knew that whatever I did in life, it was gonna have to involve trains."

The girl looked around her grandfather's study.  "That explains all the train stuff in here, huh?"

"That it does, that it does."  He took a moment to join her in a brief admiration of his collection of Santa Fe and Union Pacific memorabilia.  "So, when my folks were killed-- I mean, when they passed away..."

"Wait - 'killed?'  What do you mean, they were killed?"

Jericho Fop hesitated.  "I'm going to be in so much trouble with your mother, if she finds out I told you about this..."

"I won't tell.  I promise."

"Okay, then.  I was fifteen years old, and I was in the junior rodeo.  I wasn't the best rider, but I was real good at roping, so I got to compete.  Ma and Pa came to see me, of course.  At the junior rodeos, they didn't let us kids anywhere near the big steers, but they had one full-grown longhorn tied up out front, just for people to look at.  I didn't actually see what happened, but I guess that old bull got lose and went on a rampage.  My event was a few minutes off, so my parents were behind the grandstand, looking for some shade."

"Oh, no!  Did the bull get them?"

"No, the bull just ran off into a nearby field.  My parents were trampled to death by a bunch of rodeo clowns in hot pursuit of it."

"That's terrible!"

"It wasn't pretty.  Anyway, there was no way I was gonna stand for living in some orphanage, so I packed what I could carry and set out - following the rails, hopping trains, finding work where I could, and never looking back.  Listen, it's getting late - I better save some of the story for another time."

"No!  I wanna hear all about it.  What was it like being a hobo?  Were you always dirty?  Were people mean to you?  Did you have a dog?" the girl was determined to get more out of her grandpa, because who knew when she'd get another shot at one-on-one time with him?

"Okay, real quick.  I promise to tell you more, one day, but for now, I can tell you that being a hobo was very, very hard, but it was also the best twenty-two years of my life.  It was freedom, above all else.  And yes, I was dirty most of the time, but I didn't mind.  Yes, some folks were very mean to me and my friends, but most people were surprisingly kind.  What else?  Oh - dogs.  We didn't exactly have dogs, but it seemed they were always just sort of around.  There.  How's that?  There's your introduction to the story of my hobo life."

"One more thing - why did they call you Pine... Was it Pinecone-Jacket Jericho Fop?"

"Oh, that.  It was Pineneedle-Jacket, because the flower petal jacket I made for the Tournament of Roses parade fell apart in the rain, and I had to make a new one out of pine needles.  Don't make a face.  It was really warm, completely waterproof, and it smelled wonderful.  I thought I looked very dapper in it, and I guess I talked it up too much, 'cause the boys put Fop at the end of my name.  They said I was a dandy when I wore my coat.  I didn't care.  I love that coat.  I still have it, in a trunk in the basement.  I'll get it out and show it to you tomorrow.  But it's almost ten o'clock.  You were supposed to be in bed by nine.  Your mother is going to have my head..."

"Okay, okay.  Two minutes - I promise.  First, I have to know..."

"About the flower petal jacket?" he smiled.


"I was the victim of a prank.  My buddies and I got jobs gluing flowers to parade floats.  The guys who had worked on parade before told me that the only way I'd be allowed to walk in the parade was to make sure I was covered in flowers, just like the floats were.  So, I made this ridiculous coat of white rose petals, and darned if I didn't show up wearing it, only to find my friends in normal clothes, and just howling with laughter at my expense.  It was warm that morning, so I didn't have a shirt on underneath, so I had to wear the stupid thing.  That is - until it started raining, and my jacket began to dissolve.  They said all the fallen petals looked like wet confetti at a New Year's Day parade.  I'm sure that's exactly how it looked, and I was embarrassed, for sure."

"Wow - they were mean to you, Grandpa."

"Oh, they were just being boys.  You know, when you're making a group of boys, you subtract ten I.Q. points for every additional boy, until you reach zero.  It's okay, though.  I applied what I learned making that coat to the construction of my pine needle jacket, and I headed north toward Seattle, made some new friends, and lived happily ever after.  The end."

"Not 'the end,'" she corrected him, "just the end for now, right?"

"You bet.  Now, run upstairs and get ready for bed, kiddo.  I'll be up in a minute to tuck you in."  The child scampered off, and the old hobo pulled himself from his easy chair and stood, admiring the mementos of his glory years.  "Huh," he chortled quietly.  "Pineneedle-Jacket Jericho Fop.  What a life..."

Today's post was prompted by fellow blogger KG Waite.  I had to use "like wet confetti at a New Year's Day parade," from her post Hung In Tatters.  I also picked another one of the BRILLIANT John Hodgman's 700 hobo names, and boom.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Game Show

Skip Winkledale:  Alright, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for Jim and Becky to go for the ten thousand-dollar jackpot, in the final round.  Today, we're looking for a phrase.  Jim will be giving the clues.  Becky will try to guess the phrase.  Jim - you know the rules.  You cannot use any part of the phrase in your clues, and Becky must say the correct phrase in its entirety, before the buzzer sounds.  Are you ready?

Jim and Becky:  Ready, Skip!

Skip:  Sixty seconds on the clock, please.  And... go!

Jim:  Oh boy.  Okay, um... You can say this to get out of a traffic ticket.

Becky:  Diplomatic immunity?  I'm a celebrity?  I'm a Senator!

Jim:  It's your excuse for being a royal pain.

Becky:  I'm tired.  I'm hungry?  I'm a celebrity?  I'm rich?

Jim:  People bow to you...

Becky:  People totally should bow to me.  Don't they know who I am?

Jim:  No, Becks.  Listen to the clue.  Finish this sentence.  People bow to me because...

Becky:  I AM listening to the clue.  People bow to me because I am awesome.  I am the Queen of Everything.  I rule.  I am a princess?  I am royalty?  Pass!

Jim:  There is no "pass."  This is the only one we get...

Skip:  Thirty seconds...

Jim:  Ack!  Okay... It's the reason you can't marry a commoner.

Becky:  Oh!  Because I'm a princess!  

Jim:  Yes...

Becky:  Because I have royal blood?  Because I'm a prince?

Jim:  We got this, Becks.  Okay, this is something Prince William and Prince Harry will someday say.

Becky:  Our dad is dead?  Our dad has big ears.  Now that dad's, gone, we'd just like to say we never liked Camilla!

Jim:  A lion cub would say this.

Becky:  Meow?  Rawr?  OH!  I'm king of the jungle!

Jim:  No - the cub says it.

Becky:  My dad is king of the jungle?

Jim:  So close.  Lisa Marie Presley can say this.

Becky:  My dad was ELVIS!  I married Nicolas Cage, once!  I was supposedly married to Michael Jackson for about five minutes!  I'm dark and brooding!  Look how dark and brooding I am!

Jim:  Well, speaking of Michael Jackson - this is something one of his supposed children can say, too.

Becky:  Our dad was weird?  Our dad was misunderstood?  Our dad invented the moonwalk!

Jim:  He didn't invent moonwalking, Becks.

Becky:  He didn't?

Jim:  No.  It's been around since at least the 1930s.  He probably picked it up from one of those old movies he supposedly liked so much.  Either that, or he saw kids doing it as part of their breakdancing routines in the early 80s. 

Becky:  I'll bet one of the dancers in his videos showed it to him.  I heard he picked up a lot of his moves from them.

Jim:  'Cause he was a DANCER.  Dancers are always stealing moves from each other.

Becky:  Comedians do that, too.  Remember that show "Last Comic Standing?"  In the initial auditions, one of the judges accused a contestant of lifting a bit from some established comic...

Jim:  I remember that!  He got all pissy about it, too.  And the contestant looked genuinely flummoxed, like he had no idea who or what the judge was talking about.

Becky:  Flummoxed?  What kind of a word is flummoxed?  Who talks like that?

Jim:  I say flummoxed all the time.  It's an awesome word.  That's what kind of word it is.  I thought you married me for my wonderful vocabulary, and my interesting turns of phrase.

Becky:  "Turns of phrase?"

Jim:  No?

Becky:  I married you 'cause you were a good kisser, and because you tolerate my bizarre and violent mood swings.

Jim:  Okay, now.  You absolutely stole that last part from a movie.

Becky:  I did, but only you and maybe the writers of that movie would know that.  And that's the other reason I married you.

Jim:  That's sweet.  You're nice  I like you.

Becky:  I like you, too.

Skip:  Ten seconds...

Jim:  Is it just me, or did time slow way down, over the last 20 seconds or so?

Becky:  Well, we do talk awfully fast.

Jim:  Huh.  Anyway, where were we?  Oh yeah.  Why didn't I think of this before?  This is something that Kyle Petty probably says all the time...

Becky:  Oh, well, why didn't you say so?  The phrase is "My father is the king."

Jim:  Ding, ding, ding, ding!!

Skip:  Congratulations - you did it!!

Really?  THAT'S the clue that did it?

Yet another prompted bit of mostly harmless drivel.  This time, the prompt, as you might have guessed, was MY FATHER IS THE KING.  It comes from the serialized science fiction of fellow Studio 30+ blogger SAM, from her post The Elven Games 22.  She's got skills - check her out at From My Write Side.