Monthly Archives: April 2013

If It’s A Sermon I Want, I Know Where To Go

Churches aren't the only places you'll be preached at.

Churches aren’t the only places you’ll be preached at.

Daily Prompt: Art Appreciation

Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?

The answer to this question is easy. Nearly everyone who responds to this prompt mentally or by posting will say they can put a person’s lifestyle and political views aside and enjoy that person’s art regardless of what the artist does or believes.

Yet the truth is that we all have a line in the sand somewhere. I do.

I will offer an example without using a name. There is a singer with an absolutely wonderful and flawless voice. I’ve seen clips of his on stage performances and read about his lifestyle. It is repugnant to me. I will not buy his music, never consider going to his concerts, or watch him on TV – period. I don’t hate the person and will never hurt him. I choose just to ignore him. If he had a flat tire along the road I’d give him a lift or fix it – you get my point.

When ever an artist’s art becomes political, religious, or lifestyle oriented to the point of campaigning, proselytizing, or recruiting, that crosses the line. I don’t want to be preached at, I want entertained.

Entertainment TV programming will become so heavily political I will stop watching them. Many times I feel as though there is an effort to covertly convert me to something or manipulate my thinking.

The vast array of awards shows have become little more than an opportunity for entertainers to express a personally held point of view. That view may even be one held by me or the majority. Nevertheless, when I see one of them accept an award, step to the lectern, and express one of their views about the problems of the world I immediately try to find a station that has a commercial because they have now become the problem.

That said, I know it is near impossible for an artist to shy from their personal point of view, yet it does not have to be exploited and revered as the only point of view. If I go to a performance and the entertainer I’m there to see speaks badly about a political figure, whether they be liberal of conservative, they are disrespecting me – the guy who came to be entertained.

But what about me? Isn’t my point of view or lifestyle reveled by what I write? Certainly it is and for that reason everyone has a choice. I can’t please everyone, only myself. My point of view can’t help but raise its head. Sometimes one is pushed into a corner and must express their point of view to be honest to themselves. In my view there is nothing wrong with that.

Tolerance is the word most often used, yet misunderstood. Tolerance is often used to beat somebody over the head because they won’t change a point of view or accept another’s. When used in the world of manufacturing there comes a time when something becomes so far beyond tolerance it is no longer useful. It is measured by a standard. People who proclaim the loudest they are tolerant often times are the least intolerant of others. As convoluted as this is to express they become intolerant with people who don’t share their tolerance.

That said, I try not to know anything about an artist’s personal life. Yet if it is pushed on me; “hasta la vista, baby.”

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Essays

Lulu Leroy

imagesCA41MSYDDaily Prompt: Unleash Your Inner Dickinson

National Poetry Writing Month is nearly at at end. To celebrate it, try your hand at some verse.

He was twenty miles from Mobile

Trudging up a big hill

Growing to man from a boy

Saw a dirty faced beauty

Walkin’ free bound to no duty

Introduced herself as Lulu Leroy

 

She carried an old six string

Showed him how she could sing

Said she wanted to be a star

He said, “sister if ya will

Let’s both hitchhike to Nashville

Show them how you sing and play that guitar”

 

Every honky-tonk and dive in town

She laid her music down

And nobody seemed to catch on

Producers didn’t like her music

Weren’t crazy for acoustics

After six weeks they was gone

 

Hopped a train north to Chicago

Slept with tramps, bums, and hobos

Tried her style in bars and clubs

Got paid nothin’ but chicken feed

And hand outs on corners and streets

Not enough for rent or grub

 

They slept in the tall grass

West of Topeka Kansas

Her love brought him such joy

She sung a song about him

He was one of many men

Who had the love of Lulu Leroy

 

She had an Uncle Jim in Fresno

At least that’s what she said so

She was getting itchy and restless

Gave her money to go westbound

She got aboard the next Greyhound

Waved good bye from the back of the bus

 

He headed on north to Fargo

Worked fields where the wind blows

Couldn’t get that girl out of his mind

Cut timber in the Yukon

Oil rigs in Saskatchewan

Looking for something he couldn’t find

 

After five years he went to Fresno

To find Uncle Jim cause she said so

Found him with a little boy

His hair was black and wild

The way he looked as a little child

This was his son and Lulu Leroy’s

 

Uncle Jim took him on a short ride

To grave upon the hillside

Where there was no tears of joy

He stood broken and alone

And read from the simple headstone

“Here lies Lulu Leroy”

 

He raised me not to wander

Be afraid of wind and thunder

To build on life and not destroy

Three graves upon a hillside

That’s where they all reside

Uncle Jim, Daddy, and Lulu Leroy

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Poems

Madelyn Laughs

Daily Prompt: Cringe-Worthy

Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?

Madelyn was as cruel as she was beautiful, but seductively so.

Kyle was a weird sort of kid, innocent as he was common. Perhaps beyond the stringy hair, dark rim glasses, and the teeth he had not grown into was a prince in the making. Yet for most of his academic career he had been ignored by students and teachers alike.

Madelyn saw him as a project to introduce to the world.

She pretended to like him and eventually exchanged text messages. From a casual observer it would be apparent they were to the point of being in love, but no such word existed in Madelyn’s vocabulary.

After three weeks of texts with Kyle she had enough material to share Kyle’s most personal thoughts and fantasies. Madelyn posted them on here Facebook account and quickly and cruelly Kyle was the object of ridicule.

Deep inside he knew it was a hoax all along, but he wanted it to be true. And for a brief interlude the imaginary text affair with Madelyn were the finest weeks of his life. In his heart he had loved.

Kyle sat in front of Madelyn in English Literature. Just before the sound of the bell to end class Kyle leaned over the side of his seat to gather his books beneath. That’s when it happened. The muscles used to hold in the gas had been reassigned to maintain his balance in order for him not to fall to the floor. The gas sprung past the cheeks of his buttocks and through the fabric of his clothing like the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It was immediately met with an equal force of laughter from the class.

Kyle had already endured the most humiliating and torturous week of his life. This outburst was nothing in comparison.

He turned to Madelyn, beautiful, cruel, and heartless Madelyn. Her laugh was the most hideous of the others.

If anyone had ever doubted why she played the hoax on Kyle it was now quickly erased, for it was now apparent to all that Kyle was meant to be an object of jokes and focal point of ridicule. He was born and bred to be such. He was to be the burden of everybody else’s shame. Everybody would now place their own insecurities on Kyle’s shoulders so no one would find fault with them.

Madelyn’s guffawing became so vigorous she snorted. Each snort became progressively louder. Before long the whole class took great delight in her painful, hideous, and nauseating performance.

Kyle said, as though he wanted no one else to hear – but everyone did, “That’s okay, my dear, keep it up and I’ll pretend I was the one who farted.”

Her embarrassing, disturbing, and bizarre style of laughter was picked up by five students’ phone recorders and before the school day was over Madelyn was a YouTube wonder.

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

Enemies To Best Friends In A Flash

images[3]Daily Prompt: Your Time to Shine

Early bird, or night owl?

The Daily Prompt today is as challenging as:

Chelsea Gibson and Rochelle Morgan never met until October 21st, 2012. Their meeting was all by chance because their lives to this point had ran counter to one another. One had first period history while the other had algebra. One was fitted for braces at ten-thirty the other had the eleven-fifteen appointment. Their lives had been laid out as if fate were keeping them apart. And likely it would have gone on that way until something happened the night of October 20th, 2012.

Neither could sleep.

The next day they went to school with one eye closed and no eye shadow. They drug themselves through every class. Shortly after lunch neither was able to stay awake. Chelsea was sent to office for sleeping in study hall and Rochelle fell asleep in Spanish.

There they sat together for the first times in their lives in spite of the fact they lived two blocks from each other and attended the same school since kindergarten.

“Who are you?” Chelsea said.

“Who are you?” Rochelle said.

“I asked first,” Chelsea said.

“It’s Rochelle,” Rochelle said. “Now what’s yours?”

“Well it’s not Rochelle,” Chelsea said. “But if you must know it’s Chelsea.”

“Everybody has that name,” Rochelle said. “I’m the only Rochelle in school.”

“I hate Rochelle,” Chelsea said.

“I hate Chelsea,” Rochelle said.

“I hate your hair,” Chelsea said.

“Your hair was popular…” Rochelle said. “Come to think of it, it was never popular.”

“Where’d you buy your cloths, at K-Mart?” Chelsea said.

“You’re wearing the cloths I wore last year,” Rochelle said. “You find them on the curb in front of my house?”

“Is that your perfume or is your dad an auto mechanic?” Chelsea said.

“I think somebody left the door to the boys bathroom open,” Rochelle said.

Both girls eyes started to drift shut.

The school principal appeared in the doorway of his office. “Let’s see,” he said. “It seems like we have two young ladies who can’t go to sleep at night, a couple of night owls.”

“I’ve never been a morning person,” Rochelle offered as an excuse.

“Me neither,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea and Rochelle looked at each other and said, “Wow!”

“Best friends forever,” Rochelle said.

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

The Wall Of Silence.

It's better to have a blank wall that says nothing the a full wall that says nothing.

It’s better to have a blank wall that says nothing the a full wall that says nothing.

Daily Prompt: Wall to Wall

What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?

A number of years ago my wife and I were invited to some friends’ home along with several other couples. The folks hosting the gathering were childless and lived a carefree life of travel when not working. The rest of us had children and when receiving the invitation asked to find a babysitter.

As I look back on that evening I think that in a subtle way our hosts were letting everyone know how good they had it by being childless and how exceptional they were to have the ability to enjoy the finer things.

They had a private bar that equaled or exceeded many commercial establishments. The food that was served were recipes from places they had traveled. All of us in one form or another were farm folks. We were a meat and potatoes crowd. To us escargot was a clumsy way of saying snails and Lambrusco was the best wine we’d ever had.

Allow me to preface a point or so, I really like peoples’ stories. I like people. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to hear a person who thinks their life has nothing and is uneventful go on for hours about the stories that make up their live.

But the couple that hosted our party lived, what some might call, an adventuresome life with absolutely nothing to show or say for it in the way of experiences. It was painful for all of us.

On one wall of their eclectic designed apartment was a clarinet, a violin, and cornet. To me what people hang on the wall is sort of a focal point for possible conversation. Here is how it went as I tried to elicit some sort of interesting or amusing story from them:

“Ah, I see one of you plays music?” I said.

“No,” he said.

“You must be referring to the clarinet, violin, and horn,” she said.

“Actually it’s a cornet,” I said.

“Oh,” he said as if I had now spoiled the entire wall and years of living with the illusion it was a horn.

“So tell us about them?” I said. “They appear interesting.”

They looked at each other like two convicts trying to get their stories straight through mental telepathy.

At last with their stories synchronized through a series of twitches and facial tics he said, “We actually found them on the curb about to be picked up by the trash.”

“Yes,” she said. “We know nothing about them except they came from 820 East Benton.”

There was a painful silence. No one had the audacity to breathe let alone clear their throat.

Finally I suggested, “Next time invite those folks. I’m sure they’ll have something interesting to pass on about the clarinet, violin and horn.”

Everybody looked at me with near disdain. I outed them for the bores that they were.

“What!” I said to those looks of disdain. “It’s a good thing those folks at 820 Benton didn’t toss out a calliope, it would have taken up the whole room.”

Thank goodness somebody had the courtesy to spill a drink at that moment.

If you have something on the wall it should mean something and have some sort of story.

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Essays

A Blog I Follow

Ah, the good old days when they said, "Let me look up your file and I'll get back with you." Now it's "Our computers are down, you'll have to call back tomorrow.

Ah, the good old days when they said, “Let me look up your file and I’ll get back with you.” Now it’s “Our computers are down, you’ll have to call back tomorrow.

No Daily Prompt for me today. I’m thinking on my own for a change. I don’t need the Daily Crutch. I’m going to write what I want to write about.

It’s been a couple of years sense I started following a blog named Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy. It is the most clever, diverse, and humorous blog I’ve come across.

I wrote about it a few weeks ago, but never featured it.

It is difficult for me to believe one person writes it. It is a blog full of humorous and interesting facts taken from every one of life’s endeavors; many things we allow to pass without notice.

The blog has a day for puns. They are amusing and thought provoking.

On another day there is nothing except typos from newspaper ads. This has me laughing so hard I spray my computer’s monitor.

At times useless facts are featured. Who doesn’t like a useless fact. They’re great conversation starters. Did you know…

I never fail to leave one his posts without laughing.

Pay my friend a visit.

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Filed under Essays

The Book of Life, Lessons, and Love

The Prodigal Son, one of many stories from the Bible that is timeless and never loses its appeal.

The Prodigal Son, one of many stories from the Bible that is timeless and never looses its appeal.

Daily Prompt: Second Time Around

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

I read someplace the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke chapter 15: 11-32 of the Bible was the greatest short story ever written. Who am I to argue?

A father has two sons. They become aware that upon the father’s death they stand to inherit his belongings. The younger son ask for his inheritance now. The younger son takes the inheritance and squanders it. He is ashamed and too proud to return to his father. He finds employment at the worst job possible to support himself; in other words he hits rock bottom. He decides to swallow his pride and return to his father’s household. While he is a long way off, yet father catches sight of him and runs out to greet his son. The occasion brings them tearful joy. The father arranges a large banquet to celebrate the return of the son. The older son becomes jealous. He feels his brother’s life turned out the way it should have. He got what was coming to him. The father points out that the son was lost and now was found. He tells the older son that in the time your brother had left you had all the good things that were missed by the younger. The older son does not appreciate a father’s love or mercy.

There are emotional parts of the story; mercy, jealousy, joy, and love. Likewise there is intrigue, suspense, pathos; and told with brevity and clarity.

The Bible gives a little more detail. When reading the account myself, I fill in some of the possible conversations, odors, sights, sounds, and background. Short stories offer the reader that option without losing the impact of the writer’s intent.

When reading the Bible account of David and Goliath at First Samuel chapter 17 I imagine David trying to put on the armor of the much taller King Saul. It’s too big. He staggers around clumsily. Those watching him chuckle. When the actual battle between David and Goliath takes place I hear the pounding of David’s small but determined feet against the solid earth as he runs toward Goliath. Goliath laughs and stomps his feet to mock David. As David runs toward Goliath I hear the whirl of his sling around and around and around. I hear the smooth stone whiz to its target. All are silent. There is a crack like the sound of a bat hitting a baseball. Everyone hears it. They are puzzled. It sounds decisive. It is followed by a thud as Goliath collapses to the ground.

Both stories have meaning and impact if chosen to use them as such. And those are just two stories that I can read over and over and feel the same intellectual. emotional, and spiritual impact each time they are read.

There are hundreds of such stories in the Bible. And they never get old.

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Essays