Category Archives: Fiction

As We Return to the Story

I mentioned that I might not blog as often because I plan on devoting more of my time to finishing a story I began almost a year ago. The characters from that story were most unhappy at being constantly ignored. I agreed to a meeting.

I was afraid that it was going to be ugly –after all I’m dealing with R. Jonathon Wilkinson, whose pretty much dead and doesn’t like being left in limbo–if you’ll excuse the pun.

Rene and Sally are both accomplished professionals who rank somewhere above the top of the genius scale; their attitude is, “Play me or trade me!” which is quite understandable.

Then there’s Zaznoz (the closest I can come to spelling the name in English) who’s eccentric, but extremely powerful. Fortunately, he/it is not prone to using, much less abusing his power, due to the fact that he’s a good person entity. Zaznoz is definitely a human-like life form, but his/its kind do not identify in terms of sex. However, he’s brash, sometimes acts before thinking, and is a bit rough arund the edges, like a guy, so I tend to refer to him/it as him. Since he doesn’t mind, I shall continue to do so.

The meeting started out awkwardly. I let them speak first, and they made a number of reasonable observations and suggestions.

  1. “We are all too talented to spend our time in the literary equivalent of a waiting room reading outdated magazines.”
  2. “We just want to work and tdo the best job we can.
  3. “Working on our story is infinitely better than wasting time watching television–especially the news.”

They summed it up quite neatly and honestly, although it stung just a bit. “This isjust one more case in which management (me) does not have a clear focus on where we need to go and what we need to do. Therefore, there has been no plan and no progress.”

Sally, who is a lawyer by profession, told me straight, “You might as well be any one of the businesses and organizations out in the real world. You don’t know where we’re going, you aren’t sure where we are, and you have a piss-poor understanding as to from whence we came.”

Zaznoz added, “The only thing worse you could do is to reorganize, with the possible exception of reorganizing and downsizing. See how well you can develop a story with any of us gone.”

Rene pointed out, “Characters can’t just quit and go to another author. It’s been tried and the only place it succeeds is with young people–hence Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. On the other hand, look at Jack Ryan. He’s not the same as when Tom Clancy was alive and actually writing his own material.”

They’re right, you know, so I need to work with them. I’ll try to blog as I can.

 

 

Mystery!

 

1891 Sidney Paget Strand portrait of Holmes for "The Man with the Twisted Lip"

1891 Sidney Paget Strand portrait of Holmes for “The Man with the Twisted Lip”

I don’t watch a lot of television—the news and weather, NCIS, and Elementary. At least two are mysteries. The weather is usally a mystery, and the news—well, to be a real mystery, you need clues, and most newscasters are clueless.

Elementary, BBC’s Sherlock Holmes, and House, MD are all essentially the same genre with the same skeletal structure. The hero is a brilliant man, addicted to opioids, who is able to quickly solve mysteries, but only takes on cases that interest him. His roommate is a doctor who served in Afghanistan, but was wounded. Dr. Watson is an intelligent and educated man, but is amazed at Holmes’s powers of deduction.

Holmes originally appeared in installments as a column, to use the modern vernacular, in The Strand, a monthly magazine. Having written monthly articles, I can understand Conan-Doyle’s fascination, and the dread of dealing with recurring deadlines. He eventually tried killing Holmes off—plunging to his death over a waterfall along with his arch-rival Moriarty—but the public wouldn’t stand for it. With a lame excuse of Jiu-Jitsu, Homes reappeared, to Conan-Doyle’s displeasure, but the approval of the readers who didn’t care HOW Holmes escaped–just that he did.

As a writer, I’m intrigued by such circumstance: a great lead character, a narrator who’s also part of the story, and an ensemble from poor Inspector Lestrade to Holmes’s smarter brother, Mycroft. And, yes, “The Woman,” Irene Adler.

I was going to write more, but instead I’m going to go and re-read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes yet again.

 

Not Quite Dead

You may know my name—J. Parrington Morrison, but I tended to mingle only with business associates who could in some way support my goals and objectives. I was always quite focused, which is how I flipped businesses the way others flip houses. I’d convince a venture capital group to buy into a business, kill off any long term efforts like research and development, training, and a lot of marketing. I’d pump what was left into current sales so that the quarterly financial statements looked good, then use a little creative accounting on the balance sheets. It’s the business equivalent of painting and putting in new carpeting—it looks better, but it’s still the same old house underneath.

I’d take my profit and move on while the new CEO, left with hollow company, would take the blame for the company’s demise two or three years later. I figured one good short term deal after another was every bit as good as a long term focus. I lived well, especially since I could write so much off my taxes, but there was one long term project. I invested some money in long term, extremely safe government bonds and treasury notes; I even spread it around different countries since you never know which country will prosper and which one won’t even be in the history books. Given time, it will put a king’s ransom to shame.

Then I bought time. Within seconds of my “death” at a ripe old age, a special team whisked my body away and carefully prepared me for cryogenic storage. Somewhere in a stainless steel tube, my body is now bathed in liquid helium or nitrogen or something, waiting for the day when medical science can bring me back and fix me. I have no idea how long it’s been, but I certainly didn’t expect to be aware while my body is waiting to be repaired.

The best way I can describe myself is “transparent.” It’s like I’m not all here physically, but I’m also very different mentally–transparent. It’s not like being a ghost—I don’t see places or anything living—but I sort of get glimpses of the dead. They also seem faint or transparent, but I only get a glimpse from time to time, almost like seeing something reflected in rippling water at twilight.

I never believed in an afterlife or heaven or anything, but the dead seem to be enjoying whatever they’re experiencing, and they certainly seem to enjoy one another since I never see any of them alone. They’re always together with someone or part of a crowd, and I can tell they are smiling, laughing, and sharing. Sharing is big with them; they share food and drink and who knows what all.

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to think—years? Decades? Centuries? Who knows? I’ve decided that I would be better off dead. Don’t forget—I should be. I should be long dead and forgotten by the world. My plan to be restored seems so pathetic now; why would I want to live in a world that will no doubt be totally different from anything I ever knew? Do I really want to grow old and “die” a second time, or a third? It was a great short term plan, but sucks as a long term plan—as in eternity.

I think what I get glimpses of is heaven, and if there is a heaven, then there must be a God. I never thought I’d ever say that; there must be a God. If God is everything I’ve heard, but always denied, He must know. He must know where I am, what has happened, and what I need. If I pray, maybe He’ll hear me.

God, uh I’m not too sure as to how to pray, but I guess You know that. What I’m praying for is to be set free from my attempt to bind myself to life. Let my frozen body release its hold on me.

He prayed for what seemed an eternity, his prayers eventually showing a bit of wisdom. He began to figure out what should have been important while he had been fully alive. He decided to accept whatever fate God had planned for him.

In a long abandoned laboratory, somewhere in what had once been called “Wyoming,” one of the stainless steel cylinders sprung a pinhole leak and vented the last of its liquid nitrogen. The cylinder began to warm, its contents, the body of someone once named J. Parrington Morrison began to thaw and go the way of all flesh.

Foreverness*

I know where I am, or perhaps it’s better to say I know where I’m not. I know I’m not dead.

Being not-dead is not all it’s cracked up to be. It was my choice, but I can’t say that it was a wise one.

When I was alive, I paid a lot of money to have my body cryogenically preserved so that when science figured out how to cure whatever it was that killed me, I could be brought back to life. I even careful financial investments to ensure that upon my return I would live in a grand style–an obscenely grand style.

I can’t see back to where the living are, so I have no idea how science is advancing, or how well my investments are compounding. Even though I can’t see the living I can see the dead.    They look translucent–not faded–kind of like they’re here and somewhere else  at the same time. Occasionally I feel that one of them senses me, or even almost sees me, but is not able to figure out just what that something–me is. Now I know how ghosts in all those horror stories supposedly feel.

The dead are happy—very happy. It’s like they’ve finally gotten to where they want to be. They smile. The laugh. They’re always in groups sharing something or another. I can even see the dead celebrating the various religious holidays.

I envy them.

I remember being taught to live like a spiritual being passing through a material world. I remember in Sunday School being told that Jesus said that there were many mansions in his Father’s house. As near as I can tell, what’s supposed to happen is that each of us lives our life on earth and then moves on. All of the dead that I see appear to have done just that.

I, on the other hand, by choosing to be cryogenically preserved, never completely died, and am held to my past life by the thinnest of threads. Maybe someday science will bring me back; but it’ll be to a world in which I have no friends or family—to world into which I will not fit. A world to which I do not belong. It’s like a fourth dimensional and near-eternal Man Without a Country.

The best I can hope for is a cataclysmic disaster or an unscrupulous worker to disconnect my cryogenic pod so my body can thaw and finally die. Until then, I just wait.

*Since I’m on vacation, I pulled up the unpublished drafts I had written (turns out there were 30 of them) and decided to make life easy and use one of them.

My New Patient, the Terrorist

As a psychiatrist, I see all kinds of people; couples trying to communicate, Woody-Allenish-neurotics, and the occasional psychotic with delusions of grandeur. Some of my patients are folks for whom La-La Land is Home Sweet Home.

One of my newest patients has occasionally been in the news. Operating under the code name of “The Fruit Fly,” Whoopee bin Yowhzah was apprehended for an attempted act of terrorism on a flight. Although he did not, in fact, have a bomb, he nevertheless set his (rather soiled) underwear on fire. When the smell of his own scorched skivvies did not achieve the desired effect, he then attempted to set fire to the underwear of the other passengers.

When the plane landed in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he was arrested. He proudly announced to anyone who would listen that he was sure he would sent to Guantanamo, but was instead held in the Laramie County Jail. He demanded to be water boarded, which was ignored by the staff, so he stuck his head in the cell toilet and repeatedly flushed it until deputies restrained him.

It was decided that instead of communing a military tribunal, he would be tried before a judge and jury in New York. He was, quite understandably, found “Not guilty by reason of insanity” and committed to a psychiatric hospital.

I first met him as he sat on the edge of his bed. We started out with some small talk, and I asked him to tell me about himself.

“Me? I am a terrorist!” he replied enthusiastically.

“I see,” I replied, “and why did you become a terrorist?” He looked at me as though I was clueless.

“Being a terrorist is a religious calling!” he explained. “God, Himself, called me to be a holy warrior!”

The patient in the next bed sat bolt upright and glared at both of us. “I most certainly did not!” he replied.

 

It’s War! War I Tell You!

war

 

That’s right, it’s war – war against all the negativity that permeates the world.

All the media shows us are evil people, diseases and nut cases.

There have always been evil hordes – if it’s not the Islamists, it’s the Nazis, or the Mongols or the Peloponnesians.

At least we never have to yell, “Help! Help! It’s the Peloponnesians!”

There have always been diseases – especially back when everybody threw their trash and fecal matter into the street.

And there have always been nut cases who have this tendency to go into politics. Dueling tended to thin the herd, but unfortunately that’s no longer encouraged.

It’s up to us.

Now it’s true that we’ve already suffered some heavy casualties. John Belushi and Gilda Radner – gone. Same with Richie Pryor, George Carlin and now Robin Williams. We owe it to them as well as to Charlie Chaplin and Peter Bergman to close ranks and carry on the fight.

I’ll do more humor columns.

As for you? Find your weapon of choice, whether it be a whoopee cushion or the old arrow-through-the-head gag. If you have to resort to limericks or Weird Al Yankovic, you’re helping the cause.

Do whatever it takes to make someone laugh.

When we laugh they (and you know who THEY are) think we’re up to something.

Dear Answer Man

Washington Post

Washington Post

Dear Answer Man, I’m pretty much an all-round loser. I did the bare minimum in school, leading to a dead-end job, which doesn’t matter, because I’m not into hard work, anyway. Is there anything I can do that requires little or no effort to become rich or famous? Couch Potato

Dear Potato: Getting rich is out of your reach; even being a thief often requires some degree of effort. On the other hand, becoming famous is easy these days. First, write a few sentences – one per page is okay – as to who you hate and why. Leave these lying around the place where you live (probably in your mother’s basement.) Next choose the weapon of your choice – rifle, knives, toe nail clippers, pointy stick – whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Pick a target that will get a lot of attention; schools are popular, but attacks at schools are so passé. Pick something else – preferably a place where there are no guards or police officers such as a pedicure salon. If it’s not too much effort, just before you get there, call a local television station to tell them where you’re headed and why. Run into the building and poke everyone you can with your pointed stick and scream. If you don’t have a favorite saying, you can use one or more of these:

“Dennis Rodman is the prophet!”

“Major league sports are all fake!”

“They lied to us about Betty Crocker!”

Soon, you’ll be surrounded by the media, so explain yourself to them.

Oh, don’t be surprised if police respond as well, but ignore them. It’s the media that you need.

Good luck!

Science FICTION vs. SCIENCE Fiction

The_Martian_2014

My older son dislikes the reboot of Star Trek because of some of the liberties they take with the laws of physics. I on the other hand am happy to allow artistic license in order to have a good story.

Of course, I grew up on the notoriously under-budgeted original Star Trek, while he grew up on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. The original couldn’t afford the sets and models for a different planet each week, so they created the now ubiquitous transporter. Considering that this was in the days before the first real world moon landing, that was a leap of faith (or a tweak of physics) in its own right.

On the other hand, there are some great stories that take great care in ensuring that the science is reasonably well adhered to. I just finished The Martian by Andy Weir.

There have been marooned stories from before Robinson Crusoe to the recent movie Gravity. The trick is to tell it in a way that’s reasonably plausible. Mark Watney is part of a team of astronauts on Mars that is devastated by a dust storm. His team mates see him impaled on a metal rod and blown away, but can’t recover his body because their launch vehicle is rapidly succumbing to the same storm. Recover one dead astronaut and they’ll add the whole team to the killed in action list.

Of course, Mark didn’t die, but to survive he has to figure out certain things.

How do I get water on Mars?

How do I find some way to grow some kind of food in something?

Like a detective novel, it’s the “how does he figure this one out” factor that makes this book fun, and there are many things to be figured out.

The Persecuted Rich

$$$$$

CNN reported today that multi-billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins feels threatened. Previously, he had compared the poor to Nazis conducting a holocaust against the wealthy.

Wow.

I believe that Jesus said, “The worker is due his wages.”

Likewise, that St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians said, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

I also believe that someone who studies hard, prepares and invests in his or her own future and produces more than others should be rewarded.

However, I really have difficulty believing that the 1% are “threatened.”

Where?

At the supermarket? Oh, they have people for that.

At Wal-Mart?

While pumping gas at the 7-11?

Picking their kids up from public school?

In my humble opinion (and feel free to flame away) here’s what we ALL should do:

  1. Be thankful to God for what we’ve got.
  2. Be grateful for the true treasures – faith, family and, love.
  3. Realize that we came into this world with nothing and will leave the same way. Your parents’ wealth, grandma’s trust, etc. don’t count.
  4. Those to whom much is given, much will be required. We are all stewards, not masters.

I know where my heart and my treasure are. I am blessed with a family and a home where God is center. We are happy. That is our wealth.

Eat your heart out (you know who you are)!

I’m Not Paranoid, But…

I thought it was bad enough that governmental agencies were spying on us. I mean, the Chinese, Russians and North Koreans were no surprise, but when you have to worry about Luxemburg and Monaco, it’s a different story.

In any case, I read the other day that a software guru checked his LG television and found it was tracking his viewing habits and sending the information back to the company.

I can’t say I’m surprised.

I’ve been suspicious of my coffee pot for some time.

I know it’s watching me.

SONY DSC

 

Goodbye, Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy (with hat) Source: www.cnn.com

Tom Clancy (with hat)
Source: http://www.cnn.com

As you probably know, Tom Clancy the author who invented the techno thriller died yesterday. I always enjoyed his books – simultaneously wanting to know how the story ends and wanting the story to continue.

Clancy was supposed to speak at a Navy Supply Corps Workshop back in the 1980s. He was working on a book, and the story went 300+ pages longer than he had anticipated, so he sent a videotape instead. The book was “Clear and Present Danger.”

In the videotape, he commented how people asked his advice, so “as a best-selling author,” he advised this, and “as a best-selling author” he recommended that. I was a bit put off.

He then pointed out how he kept referring to himself as a “best-selling author.” He related how in the past he had sold insurance and people would cross the street so they wouldn’t have to talk with him. Now, everybody liked to talk with him.

“In other words,” he said, “the cure for leprosy is to write a book.”

Just one more story from a great storyteller.

Phone Transcript from the NSA

tapping

 

(Ring) “Hello?”

“Bob, it’s Sam. How are you enjoying your vacation?”

“Sam! My esteemed colleague and fellow member of Congress. Good to hear from you.”

“Thanks, Bob. Before I forget, I need a little favor from you. If you should happen to speak with my wife, you and I were fishing yesterday.”

“Sam, you dog. What did you catch? A blonde?”

“Actually a redhead, Bob. She was wild! She had tattoos in places I didn’t know they could put tattoos.”

“Whoa, Sam! No details! If I don’t know nothin’, I can’t spill nothin’! However, we do need to talk business. You got any hot issues we need to look at when we get back in session?”

“Nothing major, Bob. I owe the environmental lobbyists a bill to celebrate ‘National Snail Darter Day.’ The bankers want another bailout so they can give each other big bonuses. Just the usual.”

“Now tell me honestly, Sam, are you planning on doing anything about the budget?”

“Hahahaha! Bob, you slay me. Why in hell would I want to do that? The stalemate has made my base solid. You’ve never seen a happier bunch of cranky old white guys. The campaign contributions are rolling in and the PACS are already working on new issue ads. I sure don’t want to derail that gravy train.”

“I hear you, Sam, but my party needs to make it look like we’re really trying to solve the financial crisis. I going to have to lay it on thick that your party is only capable of saying,’No!'”

“Bob, we’re big boys. We both know how the game is played. I don’t take it personal any more than you do when I accuse you of being a ‘Tax and Spend’ advocate. The battles aren’t important. It’s the war we want to win and when both sides are after the same end, it’s a wonderful thing. Everything else is just showmanship!”

“Great, Sam. I hate to see my vacation come to an end, but I guess that’s the way it is.”

“And don’t forget that we were fishing yesterday.”

“Right, Sam. I won’t tell your wife what you caught – only the one that got away.”

(Connection terminated)

Celebrity

sac

 

And, ye’ verily, they prayed to the god “Celebrity” and asked for its favor. Sacrifices offered in the first half of the twentieth century included the swallowing of goldfish and the sitting upon of flagpoles for many days. And the god Celebrity was pleased and sent his minions from the newspapers and the newsreel photographers to minister to the faithful. And, lo, this begot flappers, wingtip shoes and rumble seats, and they gathered at places called “Speakeasies,” dancing the Charleston with wild abandon to loud Jazz music. So, the god Celebrity gave them radio.

The faithful faced hard times with many economic hardships, and they turned to their radios and their moving pictures for comfort, and with Prohibition gone, they communed with the spirits of Gin and Whiskey. The girt their loins in zoot suits and wore saddle shoes, dancing the Jitterbug with wild abandon to Big Band music. The god Celebrity was pleased and gave them television.

Celebrity grew in his hunger and his demand for sacrifice, so in the latter part of the twentieth century it caused the faithful to burn weeds and inhale the aroma, causing the people to giggle uncontrollably and crave sweet morsels to satisfy the “munchies.” The faithful bedecked themselves in tie dyed shirts, bell bottomed jeans and love beads and gathered at places like “Woodstock,” dancing with wild abandon to loud rock and roll music. Still Celebrity demanded more.

The faithful then donned clothing of polyester double-knit and shoes with high platforms and heels. They coated the inside of their nose with white powder, which made them feel small, and gathered at places like “Studio 54,” dancing with wild abandon to loud disco music. Celebrity then gave them cable, with 24 hour coverage of things both great and small.

And lo today, many people still seek the favor of the god “Celebrity” doing all manner of things to please him. They perform various intimate acts and post them to YouTube. They send pictures of themselves unclothed through their cell phones. They dress with their pants around their knees and their boxer shorts displayed and dance with wild abandon to hip hop music.

And their god, Celebrity laughs. And it demands more.

Random Musings on Reincarnation

I really, really looked

for an appropriate illustration

but none of them were funny!

 

 

I don’t happen to believe in reincarnation, but the concept presents some interesting situations.

If you’re reincarnated, does deja vu feel different?

Could you be charged for 300 years overdue fines on the library book you lost in a previous life?

If you’re married in this life and have an affair with your spouse from a previous life, is it wrong?

If in a previous life you left everything to yourself in a next life, would you have to pay tax on the inheritance?

The worst thing of all?

All through whichever life you’re living, you’d know that when you come back you’d have to eat those awful tasting baby foods and suffer from diaper rash, all over again.

Far Out Vacation

Cheech & Chong(Back in the Day)

Cheech & Chong
(Back in the Day)

Some friends of mine decided to take a vacation trip to one of the states that has recently legalized marijuana. Not exactly my cup of tea, but to each his own.  They’ve never entirely left the sixties.

However, curiosity got the best of me so I stopped over to see if their trip had met their expectations.

“So how was the vacation?” I asked.

“Ummmm. I’m not sure. I sort of can’t remember it,” he said.

“Well, where did you finally decide to go?” I continued.

“I think was either Washington or Colorado,” he answered somewhat vaguely.

“I wish we’d taken pictures,” added his wife. “All I know is it’s a week later and we’ve each gained 20 pounds.”

As for me, I think I’ll stick with Universal Studios and Disney.

Wednesday Night Prime Time TV

CC-logo [Converted]

6:00 NETWORK NEWS: The world on the brink of war! Threats from North Korea! Trouble in Syria! Palestine and Israel! Special report on how this affects Lindsay Lohan.

7:00 TRAILER TRASH: Cute little “Doggie Doo Doo” wants to go to school, but Big Fat Mama says, “No! You need to stay stupid, so we can keep having our own TV show!”

8:00 REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MOSCOW: Olga suspects husband Ivan of pursuing widow next door when she finds pictures of neighbor’s tractor in Ivan’s workshop. Meanwhile Alyona’s new job at the museum goes awry when she accidentally locks Lenin’s body in a closet and must convince Alexei to impersonate the dead Russian leader until the locksmith arrives.

9:00 SO YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT TALENT: Special Edition! A hilarious lineup of tone deaf musicians, uncoordinated dancers and a juggler with limited mobility due to an unfortunate accident with a chainsaw during his audition. Celebrity judges Nancy Grace, Lady GaGa, Paris Hilton and Kanye West all in particularly nasty moods.

10:00 SURVIVOR – HOLLYWOOD: NEW! Having eliminated the cost of writers, Survivor takes the next logical step and films on the streets of Hollywood. Contestants must face a series of challenges armed only with a Gucci bag and a Green American Express Card.

11:00 LOCAL NEWS: Someone went into a neighborhood bar but came out feet first. We’ll tell you who.

To Protect and To Serve

Swat

It was going to be another busy night. Too busy. Every night was too busy.

We were crammed shoulder to shoulder in the armored personnel carrier. Every one of us carried an M-16 with a combat load – 60 rounds of 5.56 mm full metal jacket ammunition. An M-9 semi-automatic pistol was within easy reach on a drop down holster to keep it clear of the body armor. Our Kevlar helmets and our backs were clearly marked in large reflective letters, “NYPD SWAT.” We want to make sure that citizens knew we are the good guys. We protect people from dangers of all kinds.

I’d wanted to be a cop as long as I could remember, and not just any cop. No suit and detective badge for me. I wanted to be among the elite, Special Weapons And Tactics – S.W.A.T. I’d taken a degree in Criminal Justice, paid my dues as a street cop, wrote thousands of traffic tickets and broke up countless domestic squabbles before I finally made it three years ago. I spent the better part of a year undergoing intensive physical, mental and weapons training before I was officially assigned to a team.

At first it was exciting, but over time, after seeing the gritty underbelly of the big city it lost its luster. I now looked forward to the end of the shift and my days off far more than working. But, I had taken an oath, and no matter how dangerous, I would carry out my duties.

“Everybody ready?” the captain asked. He was met with a dozen thumbs up. I felt the vehicle decelerate rapidly. The rear door popped up.

“Go! Go! Go!” she shouted.

I thumbed the safety on my M-16 to full automatic and raced up the steps of the aging brownstone, hitting the glass of the front door with the butt of my rifle. A blizzard of glass fell and one of the other guys reached through and turned the door handle. Once the door was open, we all raced up the stairs to the third floor.

I could hear the police helicopter hovering overhead, always a reassuring sound.

I pointed my flashlight at the number by the door. “3-C.” This was the right place. I waved and Charlie came to the front with the short steel battering ram. When it came to breaking down doors, Charlie was an artist, and with one powerful blow the handle and lock separated from the rest of the door which swung inward. We rushed in like we’d done a thousand times before, each cop knowing just where to go. As one we raised our weapons, and a dozen laser gun sights quivered like red fireflies on the center of mass on the suspect.

“Put down the large soda!” yelled the captain. “Put it down, step away and keep your hands where I can see them!”

Jeannie sneeze, accidentally squeezing off about five rounds that knocked the perpetrator on the floor. The captain came over to Jeannie.

“Hey, we’re going to lose a few. Don’t feel bad. At least we saved him from all that high calorie corn fructose.”

The World Ends! Again!

foxnews.com

foxnews.com

Like almost every other American, I have a smart phone, although I only use a few of its features. I do check e-mail, not so much to actually read all of it, but to skim through and see if there’s anything really interesting. The internet access is sometimes handy, although the slow speed and small screen are significant disincentives. The alarm clock comes in handy when I’m on the road.

When I access the phone, the home screen gives me the current weather – just basics like 23 degrees and clear or whatever. However, it has little gizmos to make the weather more entertaining. If it’s raining, a windshield wiper clears video raindrops off the screen, complete with wiper sounds. If it’s windy, I hear the sound of the wind and see clouds blow around the screen.

This morning, before the alarm went off I reached for my phone. The weather screen showed an asteroid streaking toward the earth accompanied by the sound of destruction and screaming.

I’d never known the smart phone to be wrong before, so I took immediate action. I’m a trained professional! I’ve dealt with all kinds of emergencies and disasters throughout my life, so I knew exactly how to handle this.

I immediately yanked the alarm clock power cord from the wall. I fluffed my pillow crawled back under my covers and reveled in the fact that the bed was so warm.

Rule #1: If the world is going to end, you might as well sleep in.

Turns out it was a glitch with the phone.

I still enjoyed the extra sleep.

W8A

 

duck“Hi, I’m Steve and I bought Windows 8.”

Hi, Steve

“I admit it. I fell for the hype. It wasn’t the touch screen, or the applications. I believed the stories that it was more stable and faster than Windows 7.”

How many copies of Windows 8 did you get?

“Well, my daughter’s computer was new enough that when we upgraded hers to Windows 8 it only cost $14.99.”

So only one copy? Come on, you can tell us.

“She seemed to like it, so I installed it on three other computers”

So you inflicted Windows 8 on four innocent computers?

“They had this great price! It was new technology!”

What happened next?

“Some of my hardware wasn’t compatible with Windows 8. Some of my programs wouldn’t work. I had to uninstall it from one computer.”

And did that work?

“{Sob} I couldn’t find the Vista reinstallation disk, so I had to go back to Windows XP! {Sob}”

And the other computers?

“I have to uninstall Windows 8 and reinstall Windows 7 on one computer. One is sort of kind of working.  My daughter won’t speak to me!  I don’t know if it’s because of her computer or just one of her mood swings!”

Well, don’t worry, you’re among friends. We’ll help you get through this.

“Thank you. I really needed that.”

Now let’s talk with this nice couple over here. Please introduce yourselves.

“Hi, I’m Bill, and this is my Melinda. We didn’t buy Windows 8 – the company I used to, uh, work for, sent us copies for free.”

Hi, Bill and Melinda.

Counterfeit

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You really have to be careful about counterfeit products these days. Naturally such big ticket items as Rolex watches and Coach Handbags have been targeted for many years. But today, cheap knockoffs are made to look like the elite brands at all product levels.

In some cases, the knockoffs are forgeries. In other cases, the con artists try to make just enough of a distinction to have semi-plausible deniability.

This morning I opened up the after shave that my wife had given me for Christmas- my usual brand. When I splashed some on, the smell was not at all what I expected.

I looked at the green bottle. Instead of “Polo” it said “Pollo.”

So all day long I had to listen to people say that I smell like a chicken burrito.