3SP: In Passing

2015/08/13 // 6 Comments

At the end of April this year my father had his aortic valve replaced. In mid-May we celebrated his 90th birthday. In mid-June we celebrated his and Mom’s 68th wedding anniversary. In mid-July we traveled to Springfield, VA for a family reunion. The last week of July he returned to the hospital with hemorrhaging, and on 1 August he passed away. Here’s a 3-song playlist in his honor — by three of my favorite singer/songwriters. This first is by Townes Van Zandt. I don’t think he was directly related to us, but it’s always interesting to me to see other branches on the Van Zandt/Van Sant family tree. While Dar Williams is a terrific songwriter, this one was written by Pierce Pettis. I think Dar recorded the definitive version of it though. Steve Goodman wrote what may be the best paternal tribute song ever. There are a lot of differences [Read more…]

The Gift of Laughter

2015/08/07 // 8 Comments

My father had a reputation for creatively wrapping gifts. There was the always classic big box that held a smaller box that held a smaller box that held a smaller box… till you finally got down to a tiny box that held the gift. A couple other notable examples were a pair of jeans rolled up and stuffed into a coffee can and a tiki torch in a mailing tube decorated like a barber pole. One year he requested cash on his Christmas wish list and his oldest grand-daughter drew his name for the gift exchange. We had a $25 limit on exchange gifts so she went to the bank and got a $25 brick of pennies. The bank teller enjoyed hearing about why she needed so many pennies. We all got a good laugh when Dad opened his gift. (Do you have any idea how heavy 2500 pennies is?) [Read more…]

RRR: Family Values

2015/07/10 // 8 Comments

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I’m attending a family reunion this weekend — lots of distractions to keep me from finishing anything new. Please enjoy this little piece I first posted in December 2011. “I hate you, Daddy!” Christie glared at her father, tears streaking mascara down her face. Danny shook his head. He looked at the girl — all black clothing, dyed black hair, black nail polish, black lipstick, and now those tragic black rivers coursing down her too pale face. He could still see traces of his pretty little daughter underneath all that, but she seemed further away every day. She wants to be a vampire? Could that be right? “Later, old man.” Doug brushed past, ignoring the drama playing out between his father and sister. He shook back a shaggy mane on his way out the front door. “Full moon tonight!” Danny and Christie stared after him through the [Read more…]

Distant Thunder

2015/07/03 // 4 Comments

Do I want to watch the fireworks? You know, it would have been our 50 year anniversary today, your Grandma and me — God rest her soul. We met on the fourth of July the year before and got married one year to the day after we met. She and three of her girlfriends were all at the town picnic together. Your Grandma though, she was the prettiest of the bunch. First time I saw her I knew. I said right out loud, “I’m gonna marry that one.” Your uncle Billy was there. “Which one?” he asked me. “That one,” I nodded my head in their direction, “the one with the pony tail in the dress and cowboy boots.” Billy just laughed because that’s how all of them was dressed. Later on I told your Grandma it was because since the second I saw her there weren’t no other women [Read more…]

RRR: Satan at the Poetry Slam

2015/06/26 // 4 Comments

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Due to circumstances I won’t bore you with I don’t have a new flash ready this week. This, though, is one of my favorite pieces that I first posted in April 2012. I also posted the, um, genesis of this story which you can find here. The last person — is he a person? — I expected to see performing poetry in a coffee house was Satan. Yet there he was, that old devil, taking the stage with a poem he called Critical Mass. I am the serpent in the garden I brought you knowledge of good and evil and for that I was cast down to crawl upon my belly I am the morning star bringing light to mankind and for that my name is cursed with fire and brimstone At that point I pretty much tuned him out because… well, it kinda sucked, right? I [Read more…]

Glad Max, Furry Rogue

2015/06/19 // 4 Comments

“Sit!” I gave the verbal command with as much authority as I could muster along with a hand signal and then blew a corresponding code on the whistle. Max stood and wagged his tail while expressing great interest in the treats I had cribbed in my left hand. “How am I supposed to know whether this whistle even works if you can hear it and I can’t?” The beagle offered no explanation, but placed his front paws on my knees in an effort to get closer to those treats. “Off!” I commanded. I couldn’t remember the code for that command and gave one long blow on the whistle in frustration. “What’s with all the noise?” the wife howled from the other room. “I’m training the dog,” I hollered back. “That’ll be the day. That dog is dumber that a bag of hammers.” “He’s a good boy.” Max sat with an [Read more…]

Red Sky at Mourning

2015/06/12 // 6 Comments

The sky was blood-red, tinting the faces of everyone in the crowd. It should have been beautiful. It should have felt warm. But those faces — cold, hard, sharp faces — sucked all the warmth from the air. Extinguished all beauty. They’d had a job, a duty. Some did it more enthusiastically than others, but we all did it. Thing is, some of us did nothing. And that was worst of all. He was already beat to hell the first time I saw his face, fear evident in his eyes even by the flickering torchlight. They asked me was he the guy. Was he the one that had attacked the lady? I shrugged. I never really saw the guy. I couldn’t say he was. I didn’t say he wasn’t. I want so much to believe I couldn’t have stopped them anyway. They were too angry, too hungry for blood, too [Read more…]

ZA!

2015/06/05 // 10 Comments

“Nuts?” I was confused and obviously looked it. “You ordered the Junkyard Special. That comes with gears, sprockets, springs, bolts, and nuts. Not everyone likes nuts on their pizza, so we always ask to make sure that’s what you really want.” I didn’t answer right away, so he repeated, “Nuts?” “Um, sure. And can I get extra sprockets?” “Well, we’re not supposed to put extra stuff on any of the specials. Then you’re getting into the build-your-own menu and those are priced differently.” “Oh.” “Tell you what, I’ll ask the cook. Okay? Not promising anything. Or I can figure out what the price would be for a build-you-own.” “No, keep it a special, but if you can ask the cook to slip on some extra sprockets that would be great.” “Sure. Anything else?” “To drink… what do you have on tap?” “We have a nice 10-W-40.” “Yeah, I’ll take a [Read more…]

Fowl Shots, Part 2

2015/06/02 // 0 Comments

Along with the Canada Geese who like to hang out in Brown Park are a lot of ducks — they all appear to be Mallards to me, but I’m no expert. I posted some photos of the geese in Part 1 (click here). In this post I have photos of the ducks. I wanted to get photos of the birds in motion. I know what a challenge that can be. I had several opportunities for some action shots as the fowl came and went or jockeyed for position around where a few people were feeding them. Unfortunately, while the geese would often honk while in flight or when preparing to take off, the ducks were less vociferous (quackiferous?). So there were lots of times when I just wasn’t able to get the camera aimed quickly enough to catch the action. All of the photos on this page are cropped and [Read more…]

Afraid of Nothing

2015/05/29 // 12 Comments

I am afraid of nothing. I volunteered for this voyage in the hopes of reaching “the promised land” — a new world, a new, unexplored planet, a new start. We all volunteered and I’m sure we all had similar hopes and dreams. While we couldn’t possibly know for sure what we would find out here, there were certain… expectations. But something seems to have gone horribly wrong. We don’t know yet whether it was a fault in the programming, some unknown variable that altered our trajectory, or simply a misinterpretation of the data used to select our destination. Not that it matters. We have awoken from our “sleep” in the depths of a great void. We have no bearings on where we ended up, but there is no planet here — hell, there is no solar system here. There’s nothing here. I am afraid of nothing.

The Paper Lie

2015/05/26 // 2 Comments

I like to call it the Paper Lie. It’s website sports the title, “Be a publisher.” But this is publishing in the feeblest sense of the word. Its users are supposedly the curators of the content. Computers scrape content — they call it “surfacing” content (isn’t that cute?) — from Twitter and other social media sites and repackage it. And let you put your name on it. Voilà! You are a publisher! They describe the process as: Online content curation is the organizing, filtering, presenting and sharing of the most relevant digital content for a specific audience. To surface content that means something to you, and your audience, requires both technology and people working together. A content curation platform can never replace the expertise of the human content curator, so we do our best to make the gathering part of curating content easy so you can filter and edit. We [Read more…]

Misdirection

2015/05/22 // 8 Comments

Assistant District Attorney Dan Nash shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but the evidence is all circumstantial. Even if we indict Joe Bonner there’s no way the case would go to trial. And even if by some miracle it did, there’s no way we could win.” I got red in the face and my hands trembled. “So it’s all about winning cases to you, not justice! Is that it?” “It’s not that simple –” “Do you believe Joe Bonner is guilty?” I interrupted. He sighed. “Yes, but without concrete evidence –” “And do the police believe Joe Bonner is guilty?” I turned to police captain Mike Sullivan who stood beside the ADA’s desk. He nodded. “So what are you doing to get more evidence?” “The case remains open,” he said, “but I’ll be honest with you, we’ve pretty much exhausted every lead. Short of a confession, which I don’t [Read more…]

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