Tag Archives: Humour

A few poetic laughs by Micki Peluso

abcd

I)
There was an old house in Kentucky
That neighbors considered unlucky
When it kept falling apart
Its owners soon lost heart
And moved to a tent in the park

2)
An Eagle Named Eddy

There was a young eagle named Eddy
Who loved to soar by the jetty
He made a dive a little too wide
Nearly got swept by a rip-tide
Yet his dynamics kept him steady
His endurance filled Eddy with pride
Childlike, he threw caution aside
Happiness faded quickly away
As a huge trash can got in his way
Poor Eddy had a really rough ride

bcde

3)
The Web of Lust

Tarantino the tarantula, so greedy
Felt pangs of arousal, so needy
Amorously peeked through the web
Of Tabitha, the tawny beauty
Emitting her sensual musk

“Might I enter?” He implored; bowed head
“Most certainly, my love, come test my bed.”
Tarantino’s hormones leaped for joy!
He followed Tabitha, so sweet, so coy
His eight legs(maybe nine:) trembled with lust

“So sorry, I can offer you no flies,
To please your palate, my handsome dear
But I offer other pleasures, never fear”
Tarantino thought he would surely die
Foolish male, his brain had turned to dust

Tabitha smiled a secret smile
Enticing him with all her wiles
She contemplated many eggs, his spawn
To be conceived well before dawn
Tarantino spent—fell asleep before dusk

She wrapped him tight within her silk
Proudly surveyed the tomb she’d built
By sunrise, Tarantino was quite dead
Tabitha sighed; her babies would be fed
Tarantino filled his needs at great cost

A word to male spiders everywhere
When crawling past a silken lair
Keep right on going or end up dead
One might hope his babes, well fed
Revered their father, at the very least

Sadly, this never crossed their tiny minds
In spider life, survival is all that binds
Tabitha played her part as host
Poor Tarantino lived, lusted and lost
Tabitha layed in wait for next time

4)
There was a lass named Purella
Who bedded a very odd fella
But when he refused to wed her
She locked him in his own cellar
He wished then he’d never met her

If you enjoy Micki Peluso’s humor, you can find her work on Amazon.

Down From Oz by John B. Rosenman

John down2

[I’ve always loved used bookstores. How about you? I love their towering stacks, their musty shadows, the constant hope of discovering a treasure in some hidden nook. Here’s a tale about a writer facing discouragement and endless rejections (remind you of anyone?) and his visit to a used bookstore where he finds a treasure unlike any other.]

 

DOWN FROM OZ*

That did it: yesterday’s rejection was the last straw!  Halting on the sidewalk, Jason Creed raised the sheets of paper he’d clutched almost constantly since the day before and read them again.

“Dear Mr. Creed:

Thank you for allowing us to see your novel, Down From Oz. Now, allow me to share with you my thoughts. I have never seen such a hopeless, poorly conceived plot in all my life. Cliches, inconsistencies, and clumsy dialogue abound, and if there’s a guiding purpose, I am unable to see it.”

The letter went on for two full, single-spaced pages, taking up specific scenes and passages only to rip them apart. Like a masochistic lamb to the slaughter, he let himself be led down its sentences to the final, killing blow: a suggestion that he find something more suitable to his talents.

Clenching his teeth, Jason squeezed the sheets into a tight ball and thrust them in his pocket.

          That’s it! I finally, at long last, get the point! I have no talent as a writer and I’m never going to write again!

Breathing deeply, he struggled for calm, but the heartbreak he had endured since receiving the letter yesterday let him climb no higher than a dull despair. God, it hurt!  Of all the rejections, cruel and otherwise, which he had received down through the years, this was the absolute worst. It was the critical coup de grace, the death knell of all his hopes.

Jesus, he thought, I even think in third-rate purple prose. I must stop feeling sorry for myself and find something else to do with my life!

The trouble was, there was absolutely nothing else he wanted to do as much as write. His job at the post office was a paycheck, and except for reading he had no hobbies, unless he counted writing, which he had always considered his life.

What could he do that was meaningful to fill the endless void ahead of him? Go fishing? Watch sports?

He shook his head and continued along the street, then paused when he saw a yellow brick building with ornate letters stenciled on a window: Book World.

Oh yes. His wife, knowing he was addicted to old bookstores, had mentioned there was a new one on their street. He sighed, remembering how she had tried to comfort him when she learned about the rejection letter, only to have him shut her out.

Hunching his shoulders, he walked past, determined to make things up with his wife and to have nothing to do with books and writing ever again. But after only a few steps, his pace slowed. He turned back and studied the shop.

What the hell?

Above Book World‘s door, an elaborate wood sign displayed a globe whose continents were pages filled with fancy cursive writing. Quills, suspended above the globe, dripped ink into its oceans.

God, it’s pretentious. Just another crummy hole-in-the-wall. But he found himself going back anyway, eyes fastened on the sign.

A bell tinkled quaintly as he entered. He closed the door behind him, inhaling the beloved dusty smell of old books and old wood floors. A stack of ancient tomes with moldy leather covers sat on the floor nearby, waiting for shelving. On top of them stood an imposing hourglass like the one the witch had used in The Wizard of Oz.

Well, he thought, the name might be pompous, but this place is real. It isn’t Barnes & Noble, and there ain’t a Kindle or e-book in sight.

A bald, slender man in his mid-thirties puttered behind the counter to his right, looking as used and obsolete as the wares he handled. Jason gave him a nod and headed toward the back, passing an old-style sewing press used for binding books.

He found the familiar, nicked and dented wood shelves holding tattered books packed cheek by jowl, some piled high overhead in towers that threatened to topple. Moving around a small platform ladder customers could use to reach loftier treasures, he peered at handwritten labels on the shelves. Mystery. Science Fiction. Biology. Occult.

He himself was a fantasy writer, with three unsold novels. Fantasy—it was appropriate, wasn’t it? What else was his whole life but fantasy? As a writer he was a brainless scarecrow, and the earthly Oz he had created was no more than a cheap, uninspired ripoff. He deserved that editor’s contempt for presuming to think he was anything else but a hack!

Suddenly, as he reached the back, a weird, ghostly green light flashed on. Blinded, he shielded his eyes. What the hell—?

The light faded. Lowering his hand, he blinked spots and after-glare away. Where had that damned light come from? He peered about, but could see only a cabinet before him.

It was a nice cabinet too, the kind with old, rich, polished wood and handsome, glass-paneled doors you opened with a key, though there didn’t seem to be one. He stepped close and squinted at the books displayed. On the middle shelf he saw Twain and Walter de la Mare, a copy of Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. The leather-bound volumes all looked costly and impressive. First editions, perhaps?

He checked the shelf above it, and saw other beautiful volumes. Edgar Allan Poe. Harlan Ellison. Albert Finney . . .

Looking still higher, he scrutinized the top shelf. Ah. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin. And what was that almost folio-sized one in the center? He leaned close. Let’s see. Jason Creed’s Down From . . .

He blinked, rubbed his eyes. Looked again.

Jason Creed’s Down From Oz.

He stepped back. Was he dreaming? Having an hallucination?  Surely, it couldn’t . .

He leaned closer. Down From Oz by Jason Creed. Yes, that’s what it said all right. It WAS Down From Oz, which a haughty New York editor had just crapped on at close range. He choked off a laugh, then gasped as he saw the title beside it. The Master of Marisol by Jason Creed. Christ, that was his first book, the vacuous, relentlessly spurned piece of garbage he had once foolishly thought might one day rival Lord of the Rings. And beside it, Oh Jesus, Oh My God, was The Time Merchants, his one foray into soft science fiction which fifty-two publishers, including the smallest of small presses, had unanimously used for toilet paper.

They—all three—stood right there before him, occupying the same shelf as the works of masters.

I’d better sit down, he thought. All this depression—it must have unhinged me. But that weird, blinding light . . .

Footsteps, coming his way. Dazed and confused, he peered into the gloom between the tall bookcases, half-expecting to see a row of Munchkins appear.

A crown of pure white hair materialized, accompanied by an equally white mustache. Both seemed suspended in air, but as they moved directly toward him between the stacks of books, Jason saw that they belonged to a man in a black cloak.

The man stopped a few feet away. His narrow face smiled, and he nodded at the cabinet. “Are you surprised, Mr. Creed?”

“What . . .” Jason stopped. “How do you know my name?”

The old man chuckled. “They’re your books, Mr. Creed, some of the classics that the whole world will one day read. Just a few of the things that are to come.”

Jason felt as if he had been hit by a cyclone. That weird ghostly light . . . this strange old man who spoke such impossible words and seemed to know him. He rubbed his eyes, hoping it would make the stranger vanish, but he remained right where he was.

“What are you talking about?” Jason finally managed to bring out. “Do you have a crystal ball, or have I gone mad?”

“I assure you, you’re completely sane, and what I’ve said is perfectly true,” the man said. “That’s why you must not even think of giving up writing. It would be a tragic loss to posterity.”

Jason’s head spun. Could this creature read his mind? His confused thoughts fixed on one word. “Posterity? How could you know what’s going to happen?”

“Because I come from the future!” The old man glided forward, turning Jason gently toward the cabinet. “Consider me a fan who, uh, just hasn’t been born yet. A lover of your work who doesn’t want it lost.”

Jason gazed at two large, exquisitely-bound volumes he hadn’t noticed before. Dreamfarer and The Eagle and the Sun, both by Jason Creed. Oh Christ, he thought, I haven’t even written them yet!

“T-Time travel,” he whispered. “You expect me to believe . . .”

“Do you mind if I call you Jason, Mr. Creed?” the old man interrupted. “I assure you, it would be a great honor!”

He blinked. “M-Mind? No. But . . .”

“Fine! Now . . . Jason, is time travel so hard to believe? After all,

Dreamfarer explores that very possibility. You are a master of the realms of fantasy and magical realism, not to mention some truly cosmic, mind-stretching concepts.”

“But it’s fiction. I made it up.”

“Are you sure, Jason? Remember how you felt when you wrote The Master of Marisol? The words just poured out of you and you felt like all your readers will one day—alive and filled with magic! Don’t tell me it’s just make-believe, that it’s only fiction. You have actually lived it in your mind! You have actually breathed the fragrant and magical air of Marisol, walked its myriad, labyrinthine streets!”

How does this man know that? How does he know what I’m feeling when I write? Unless—Oh my God, could it be true?

But just as he felt hope stir, Jason remembered the vicious rejection letter he had received, the letter which had been the latest of so many.

He stepped back to get some space, and as he did, his head cleared a little. He heard the floor creak, smelled the faint bite of Lysol. And the dim, looming shelves of books, however haunting, did not belong in a fantasy. They were real, he could touch them. Just as he could touch that damned letter.

He reached in his pocket, brought it out. “Look,” he said hoarsely, “I don’t know what this is all about, whether I’m confused or you are.”  He unfolded the crumpled sheets. “Whoever you are, though, you’ve got the wrong guy. This witch of an editor says—”

“I know what she says, Jason,” the man said. He raised a slender finger and smoothed his white mustache. “Your readers, those who are to come, are intimately familiar with it.”

Jason gaped. “They are?”

“Yes, because you will take care to preserve that letter. You will publish it someday as an inspiration to other writers never to give up!

Suddenly, his black cloak swirling, the man moved forward and seized Jason’s forearm in a powerful grip. “Don’t you realize it was just a slush reader, a witch on a broomstick who read Down From Oz and wrote that piece of garbage? It wasn’t the editor, just an underpaid, semi-literate fool jealous of your genius and vision. Check her letter again, Jason.”

Jason obeyed, squinting at the signature as his mind babbled that he wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Yes, the man was right. He had forgotten about that. Still . . .

“What difference does it make?” he said. “I’ve had plenty of real editors trash my work. Hell, I could wallpaper my room with rejection slips. They can’t all be wrong, can they?”

The man leaned closer. “Yes, they can. They can be just as wrong as they’ve been about so many other geniuses. Don’t you know that Dune, one of science fiction’s supreme masterpieces, was rejected over twenty times before it was accepted? That John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces was endlessly turned down before he took his life, and then it won the Pulitzer Prize? Hell, man, don’t let them beat you!  Don’t give up!”

“But . . . Herbert and Toole were great writers.”

“So are you!” The man was right in his face now, his breath hot, his expression fanatical. “In times to come, you will be recognized by many as the greatest fantasist and stylist of your age! The author of dozens of books, most of them masterpieces!” He gripped Jason’s arm harder. “Listen to me! I consider it a great, great honor for me to meet you! Your works have inspired and delighted me, and I assure you they will do the same for generations of readers. Why, the streets and towers of your Marisol chronicles alone will be as familiar to readers as those of their own neighborhoods. Marisol’s geography and terrain will be mapped and charted and labeled in separate best sellers just as the realms of Tolkien and McCaffrey are in your own time! You cannot— you must not— stop writing!”

Jason trembled in the blasts of the man’s passion. Was it possible . . . could it be?  He lurched away and found himself staring again at the books he hadn’t even written yet. Dreamfarer. The Eagle and the Sun.

“Could . . . could I look at them?” he whispered, pointing through the glass door.

The man sighed. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. If you read even a little of these works, it could affect the whole course of your career. It’s even possible that you might become so confused that some of these treasures might never be published.”

“Well, what about those books I’ve already written, like Down From Oz?”

The old man shook his head. “No, Jason, you will extensively revise those too. I’m sorry, but we simply cannot take the chance.”

“But . . . ” Jason moaned, filled by intense yearning. “Could I at least hold one of them in my hands?  Feel it?”

“I’m sorry. Even that would entail a risk.”

Swallowing, Jason ran his fingers along the cool glass of the cabinet. He wanted to smash it, reach in and seize his books, experience the wonder of actually reading his own words in such luxurious volumes. The need to feel their pages, smell their scent rose till his whole body trembled with it. Then he felt the stranger press his arm and reluctantly turned away.

“Listen,” Jason said, “I have to know. This isn’t an illusion?  It’s all actually going to come true? I’m not like Dorothy who knocked her head and only dreamed she wore magic slippers? I—I’m actually a good writer?”

The man stroked his white mustache. “Trust me, Jason Creed, and have courage. You are the best, the King of the Forest. Now, why don’t you go and start revising your old books and writing new ones so that one day, we can all read them?”

Jason straightened, the man’s words filling him like fire. His heart began pounding with excitement. Suddenly he wanted to dance, sing, but most important, write all the books this man had praised. Never before had he felt so wonderful, so inspired, so truly and completely alive! Dreamfarer, he thought, already making plans. Yes, I know exactly what I’ll do with that!

“Thank you!” he said, seizing the man’s hand and shaking it in both of his. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Laughing, shouting for joy, Jason Creed left the bookstore and ran all the way home, bursting with the need to shape new worlds.

# # #

The next day Angela Creed entered the store, beaming at her old friend.

“Isaac, can I talk to you?”

The owner glanced at browsing customers, then led her to the storeroom in back. There, Angela clapped her hands. “Isaac, it worked!”

“It did? Jason still believes? Man, for a failed actor, I did all right. I thought I was waaay over the top!”

“Well, those blank books you bound must have convinced him. Isaac, he’s never been so happy! He came home and started a new novel. And this morning he went off to work whistling! He didn’t mention you, but you must have been a wizard.”

“In a way I was. Turn ’round and close your eyes.”

When she did, he busied himself behind a curtain. “Okay,” he said.

Turning, she stared. “Isaac, is that you?”

He swirled his cloak, patted his white hair, twisted his mustache. “The Wizard of Oz, at your service!”

*Originally published in Brutarian, 1998.

 

A retired English professor from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., John has published three hundred stories in The Speed of Dark, Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, and elsewhere. He is the author of The Turtan Trilogy, the first three novels of his Scifi-Adventure series, available at lrd.to/Turtan-Trilogy/

Website: http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog: http://johnrosenman.blogspot.com/

 

A Siren’s Guide to Puberty by Cody Wagner

 sirens-2-meme-come-back-cropped
My humongous boobs appeared from out of nowhere the morning of December 1st.  Sure, Mom had been saying, “My little Coriander is becoming a woman,” for months. But I didn’t think it would happen so fast. The night before, I had mosquito bites where my chest should have been. Suddenly, and from out of nowhere, I sprouted giant handfuls of breasts.

 

I also woke with a funny warmth in my throat. It didn’t hurt, but my voice definitely didn’t feel “normal”. It’s like someone had wrapped a heating pad around my tonsils. I didn’t think much about it, though, at least not yet. A minor tingling in my larynx took a definite backseat to the emergence of chesticles.

 

OK enough about my boobs. That has nothing to do with what happened. But puberty did, so it’s all connected.

 

I walked to class at Sam Houston Middle School that morning, a little disappointed no one was staring at my chest. It shouldn’t have been a surprise; I was the resident nobody. I’d have given weeks of lunch money for a bully to knock me around. Invisibility was my superpower.

 

I doodled my morning classes away, oblivious to the tingling in my throat. The vertical symmetry of hearts coupled with their horizontal asymmetry intrigued me, so they littered my notebook. It had nothing to do with love, trust me. The boys in my grade were nasty. Besides, they didn’t even know I existed. I didn’t care. Art was more important. And choir.

 

Believe it or not, singing ruled my life more than hearts. I wouldn’t listen to music I couldn’t mimic. No rap or guy singers or sopranos. Only deeper rich altos. I belted Etta James for hours. Maybe some gene lying dormant in my cells and knowing what I would become spawned this love of music. Or maybe I was a bona fide choir nerd of my own choosing.

 

Either way, I sprinted into the choir room right after lunch. Pretending I hadn’t run myself out of breath to be the first one in, I made my way to the boxes.

 

Each of us had a neatly labeled wooden box containing our music. December had arrived and it was Christmastime. Panting, I reached inside to see what we’d be learning for the holidays.

 

The box held two pieces: Everyone Bow Down and Silent Night. Everyone knew Silent Night, so I shoved it back in and walked to the risers holding the other piece. Mrs. Addison, our music teacher, played something on a grand piano and didn’t acknowledge me. I flopped down and pored over the music.

 

By the time everyone had arrived, I knew most of the song. My jaw clenched with determination. I would be the most prepared singer. I would stand out.

 

“Let’s warmup.” Mrs. Addison stretched her abnormally long fingers and played various scales. I used my diaphragm support and tried putting vibrato into my voice, just like I’d been practicing for weeks.

 

We finished without incident (meaning no one commented on my mature sound) and Mrs. Addison said, “Did everyone get the new songs?” When we nodded, she continued, “Good. Let’s open Everyone Bow Down.”

 

I shot to my feet. Oblivious to my enthusiasm, she said, “Let’s practice just the first page.”

 

At that, she stood, lifted a thin baton, and conducted as we sang:

 

The King, The King is Coming,
To Bring Peace, To Bring Peace,
Everyone Bow Down.

 

Suddenly, all the guys except for two fell to their knees and reverently placed their heads on their thighs. The two boys left standing – both unpopular and nerdy – stared awkwardly around the room. I’m sure they felt utterly singled out again, as if everyone deemed “cool enough” was let in on surprise choreography.

 

A few of the cool girls giggled.

 

I rolled my eyes and thought, Very mature. How was I going to get noticed with the guys being stupid? However, I didn’t focus on that for long because the warmth in my throat erupted. I gripped my neck. The sensation didn’t hurt, but it was intense and foreign. Stiffening my legs, I mentally shook the feeling away; I needed to wow everyone, not obsess over warm tonsils.

 

Mrs. Addison smiled. “It’s great to see how much you love Jesus, but I want to make it through the song before my eighty cats starve to death.” OK that’s not what she said. But if Mrs. Addison could always ignore me, I could call her out on being the school’s cat lady.

 

The kneeling guys jerked up and began to look around, confused. One rubbed his head and said, “What happened?”

 

Mrs. Addison shook her head. “Very funny. Let’s sing.”

 

They glanced at each other and a few shrugged. I didn’t buy their little amnesia routine and ignored them until they grabbed their music and we all sang again:

 

The King, The King is Coming,
To Bring Peace, To Bring Peace,
Everyone Bow Down.

 

The same guys shot to their knees again. This time, the other girls about fell over laughing. I grabbed my throat. The warmth was more intense. The two boys still standing peeked at each other. I’m sure they were wondering if they should pretend to kneel. Anything to fit in with the stupid jocks.

 

 

Mrs. Addison clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “Enough. That’s the last time, OK?”

 

Only it wasn’t the last time.

 

We tried singing the song five more times. Five! Each time, the same guys fell to their knees. And each time, they acted all groggy after.

 

Mrs. Addison’s hands shook with rage. It was obvious the boys were showing off for the girls, but even Miss Popular Lindsay Thomas (or “MPLT” as I called her) threw her music and screamed, “Come on!”

 

Mrs. Addison slammed a hand on the piano and everyone jumped.

 

“That is IT.” She snapped her baton in half and pointed both pieces at us. “We’re singing solos until this stops.”

 

The class froze. Girls’ voices were young and wispy. Guys’ notes cracked all over the place. Being self-conscious tweens, everyone hated singing alone.

 

Except me. I sat up, excited. Finally. My chance to show how hard I’d worked.
“Lindsay, you go first.”

 

I guess it made sense for MPLT to start. If the boys were acting up for anyone, it was her. Still, I exhaled loudly, letting everyone know I wanted to go.

 

Lindsay stood up, trying to look cool. But her paper shook, betraying her nerves. Mrs. Addison raised a hand and Lindsay began to sing. When she made it to Everyone Bow Down, everyone froze and turned to the guys. Nothing happened.

 

“Finally,” Mrs. Addison said.

 

I stuck my tongue out at no one and pouted, figuring we were done with the solos.

 

But Mrs. Addison was still so pissed, she made the next girl stand up and sing. Again, the boys behaved. I didn’t care about that. I just wanted the chance to wow everyone. I imagined finishing my solo and everyone staring, mouth open. Mrs. Addison would clap and everyone would raise me up on their arms.

 

I shook away the fantasy and watched the procession of singers. As each girl stood, terrified, I drew a tiny heart with my finger, counting the people until it was my turn.

 

Finally, after six girls, Mrs. Addison said, “OK Coriander, your turn.”

 

I smiled and said, “I’m ready.” Then I held out my paper, on purpose, to show everyone my hands weren’t shaking.

 

She nodded at me. I felt the heat build, embraced it, and began singing in my smooth alto.

 

The King, The King is Coming,
To Bring Peace, To Bring Peace,
Everyone Bow Down.

 

The guys flew to their knees. This time, they moved so fast, I heard banging as their legs hit the risers.

 

A few girls covered their mouths. I jerked in surprise and, oblivious to the heat in my throat, started to seethe. Every single stupid shot I had to stand out was somehow ruined. I glared at the guys then turned to Mrs. Addison for help.

 

She looked at me, pure confusion on her face. Apparently, I was such a nobody, she didn’t think the guys would do this for me. After staring a few seconds, she composed herself and said, “It seems as if our boys aren’t mature enough to respect people.” She folded her hands. “Coriander, please go again.”
My heart bounced; I was getting another chance. And this time would be my best. I glared at the stupid boys, took my deepest breath ever, and began to sing.

 

The King, The King is Coming,
To Bring Peace, To Bring Peace,
Everyone Bow Down.

 

Knees hit risers again. Mrs. Addison growled in frustration.

 

Furious, I threw down my music and sang, “Leave me alone!”

 

That’s when my world blew up.

 

Every guy – except the same two nerds who hadn’t kneeled – took off. Most of them went for the door, crashing into each other in desperation to leave. Four eighth-graders raced to the windows. A heard creaks as the windowpane flew open. One-by-one they jumped.

 

A couple girls screamed. It was stupid because we were on the first floor and the windows were like five feet off the ground. Still, I admit my hands trembled. I had no idea what was going on but finally realized it had something to do with me.

 

Sweat running down my back, I put a hand over my vocal cords and turned to the front.
Mrs. Addison stood there, glaring at me. “Office. Now. And you better hope the boys return.”

 

The rest of the class stood paralyzed.

 

My brain was in another world and I didn’t even argue with her. Nodding absently, I shuffled out the door.

 

Tears should have flowed as I trundled to the office. Every scenario I’d ever imagined about being sent to the principal included mountains of tears. But I was so confused, I couldn’t cry. My subconscious knew singing the words, “Leave me alone!” would work. I don’t know how it knew, but it did. And the idea terrified me. I admit it excited me, too. I had done something straight out of X-Men comics. Talk about insane.

 

Stopping, I put a hand on my heart. The feeling in my throat seemed to reach out and grab my chest. I didn’t know what had caused all this, but I involuntarily looked down at my boobs. In that moment, I knew my invisibility cloak was gone forever.

 

About the Author

Cody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and create. He writes about topics ranging from superpowers to literate trees (really). His debut novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, “came out” on October 27th. See what he did there? Cody dealt with bullying as a teen and wanted to provide a fun escape for all the underdogs out there. He’s also handing out cookie dough to everyone who grabs a copy. Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at www.wagner-writer.com or find him on Twitter @cfjwagner, Goodreads at www.goodreads.com/wagner_writer, and Amazon at www.amazon.com/Cody-Wagner/e/B016NYGV40.

DO YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY? by John B. Rosenman

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Okay, folks, here is a test. Leave a comment after you’ve read this post and tell me which of these five jokes are funny and humorous, and which are not. If you want to keep it simple, just write the number of the joke and Yes or No. If you want, you can explain your answer. Hey, here we go.

1. What has four legs and an arm? Answer: A happy pit bull.

2. A family of mice were surprised by a big cat. Father Mouse jumped and said, Bow-wow!” The cat ran away. “What was that, Father?” asked Baby Mouse. “Well, son, that’s why it’s important to learn a second language.” Submitted by BH LEE

3. Want to get people excited? Just put Alka-Seltzer in your mouth and pretend you’re  possessed by the devil.

4. Whoever invented “Knock-Knock” jokes should get a no-bell prize.

5. A man walks into a bar with a small dog under his arm and sits down at the counter, placing the dog on the stool next to him. The bartender says, “Sorry, pal. No dogs allowed.” The man says, “But this is a special dog – he talks!” “Yeah, right,” says the bartender. “Now get out of here before I throw you out.” “No, wait,” says the man. “I’ll prove it.” He turns to the dog and asks, “What do you normally find on top of a house?” “Roof!” says the dog, wagging his tail. “Listen, pal…” says the bartender.” Wait,” says the man, “I’ll ask another question.” He turns to the dog again and asks, “What’s the opposite of soft?” “Ruff!” exclaims the dog. “Quit wasting my time and get out of here,” says the bartender. “One more chance,” pleads the man. Turning to the dog again, he asks, “Who was the greatest baseball player that ever lived?” “Ruth!” barks the dog. “Okay, that’s it!” says the bartender, and physically throws both man and dog out the door and onto the street. Turning to the man, the dogs shrugs and says, “Maybe I should have said Dimaggio?”

What are the correct answers? The point of course is that it’s hard to say because humor is often subjective, and we don’t agree on what’s funny. What’s a knee-snapper to one person is stupid, offensive, or simply pointless to another. What doubles up your Aunt Matilda in helpless mirth leaves your Uncle Walt unfazed. Whatever you do, though, be careful joking about politics or religion. I once pissed off a friend by telling a brief Mitt Romney joke.

What about dirty jokes—do you like them? Say, have you heard the one about the travelling salesman and the one-eyed whore? She… Naw, I better not tell it. Okay, do you know how to tell who’s a virgin in Virginia? (or supply your own state name). The answer: By her out-of-state license plate.

You don’t think the last joke is funny? In addition to it being flat, dumb, and in bad taste, it’s sexist, discriminatory against women. Perhaps you believe that jokes which offend people shouldn’t be published.

Well, I think people should be offended sometimes. Their feathers should be ruffled and even plucked clean off on occasion. I for one love some dirty jokes and those which are often politically incorrect. I love Aristophanes’ classic sexual comedy Lysistrata in which Grecian women go on a sex strike to stop the Peloponnesian War. However, there is a limit. For example, I just checked some jokes online about Jews, Blacks, and Catholics, and they are REALLY offensive, so you won’t see them here.

You see, I do have some taste.
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What about your writing? Your short stories and your novels, your biographies, essays, and poems? How far are you willing to go in using humor? What chances are you willing to take? Do all your jokes have to be “clean”? Perhaps if you write a book which doesn’t offend anyone, which only supports what is safe and acceptable, your book wasn’t worth writing in the first place.

Do you like jokes at your own expense? I do, as long as they aren’t mean-spirited and go too far. I like to poke fun at my unique dancing style, which causes my partners to duck and run for cover. We know that comedians sometimes deride themselves and find humor in their personal and painful experiences. If they came up the hard way in poverty, they may work it into their routines. As a comedian, Jack Benny depended largely on three self-deprecatory jokes: (1), he was always thirty-nine years old, (2) he was a notorious tightwad, and (3) he was a terrible violin player. I believe the last two are false.

We often use humor in satirical works to ridicule and correct human vices and follies. Vices are much worse than follies. They include such sins as greed, hypocrisy, and cruelty. Plus corrupt political and social systems. Think of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal. Orwell’s Animal Farm. The humor is sometimes biting and laser-sharp, as well as deliciously delicate, capable of eviscerating its targets without mussing their hair. In a presidential debate, Ronald Reagan once used a critical question concerning his advanced age to demolish his opponent. He said, “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” When Megyn Kelly recently said Donald Trump called women derogatory names like “fat pig” and “dog,” did he go too far when he said, “Only Rosie O’Donnell”? Bad taste or not, his interruption received the biggest laugh of the first Republican debate.

Have you ever watched the skits on Saturday Night Live which lampoon political and entertainment leaders? C’mon, you know you’ve howled at some of them, ignoring your better (and less interesting) nature. A guilty pleasure is still a pleasure, right?

Many jokes and cracks will offend somebody. Hell, they are meant to. As for you, Dear Reader, use your own judgment but be willing to take chances now and then. And if you are personally offended or attacked, try to live and let live. Above all, remember what Geoffrey Chaucer wrote concerning the brilliant but outrageous Miller’s narrative in The Canterbury Tales. Whatever you do, do not “maken earnest out of game.”

End

 

John B. Rosenman, a retired English professor from Norfolk State University, has published over 300 stories and 20 books. His work includes science fiction and dark erotic fiction. “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes won the 2011 annual readers’ poll from “Preditors and Editors.” In 2013, Musa Publishing awarded his time travel story “Killers” their Top Pick. He is the former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and the previous editor of Horror Magazine.

A Day In The Life of a Writer 

 

coffeecup

The rain beats furiously against the window, interrupting a restful, dream-filled sleep, in which I am floating in a sea of acceptance slips, signing book contracts, and arranging to fly to California for the Letterman show. The menacing buzz of the radio alarm clock goes off every ten minutes, the exact time it takes to drift back to sleep. At 7 A.M., there is no good reason to be awake. I don’t have to attend school; nor do I have to leave for work, a bone of contention among those in my family who fervently believe that I should make them a hot breakfast before sending them out into the real world.

Misery, the fifteen-year-old dog who has lived up to her name, lays her large, shaggy head on my pillow, and pants morning breath into my face. The bluish glare of her cataract-coated eyes warns me that she will not be held accountable for what may happen if I don’t let her outside immediately; a realistic deterrent to further lazing in bed.

By 8 a.m., the house is quiet once again. Even the pounding rain has tapered to a fine drizzle. My four-year-old grandson Ian, dropped off by my daughter, walks into the kitchen to announce that he is “here”, as his eleven-month-old brother, Jesse, babbles nonsense from the playpen. The baby’s voice has the penetration of a well-known grease-cutter.

It’s Monday morning and another non-work week is about to begin, during which time I will babysit two lovable, but precocious boys, run business inventories on two computers, manage a three story home, do freelance writing and count my blessings that I don’t have to go to work.

By the time I gulp two cups of coffee, and complete three fourths of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, Jesse’s insistent soprano voice is reaching high C. I consider doing a warm, grandmotherly article on minding toddlers, but when Jesse leans over the playpen and spits up on the dog, my enthusiasm wanes.

The next hour consists of what my “new age” daughter calls creative playtime. That translates into letting the children do whatever they please. I am as modern as the next person, but after Ian poster paints the white Formica countertop in black stripes, insisting it’s his pet zebra, free expression ends. Jesse’s creativity is limited to the realization that his diaper is detachable, presenting endless possibilities. By noon, I’ve put the house back together, made lunch for the boys, driven Ian to nursery school, and tucked the pit baby (so nicknamed for his tenacious grip on breakables) into bed for his one treasured nap.

Two hours later, I’ve compiled inventory, mailed overdue bills, and sent manuscripts off to the literary meat market, while the Apple works its internal magic with the numbers I’ve posted into it. I’ve hung up three times on a telephone computer robot, who wants to know my vital statistics, and tried to convince another telemarketer that I did not want to win a cruise to Tahiti.

While the Apple is printing out evaluation reports, I type a short story into the Dell, inspired by the momentary peace and solitude. Engrossed in my work, I don’t realize that Ian has been dropped off from nursery school, until he plops a hideous (I never said that) green lump of clay sculpture on my keyboard. Seven pages of manuscript disappear, lost forever in that mysterious story-eating gray box–just when Mary was lusting after John.

The type of calmness that sometimes precedes insanity washes over me. I make Ian a healthy snack, and even manage to tell him how much I missed him.

“You didn’t miss me, Grandma,” he says. “You’re the one who took me there and left me.”

I’m tempted to say, “You’re right,” but I hug him instead. Ian settles in for some violent cartoons, and the siren-like wail of the pit baby marks the end of creative writing.

The teenager, made into an only child by the absence of five grown brothers and sisters, storms into the house. She throws her books on the table, raids the refrigerator, and gives me a twenty minute discourse on her first day of high school; heavy on boys, light on scholastics. She informs me  that much as she would love to watch her nephews for me, she must get to the Mall at once. Owning only four new outfits, she doesn’t want to repeat herself in a five-day school week. Everyone (related to the infamous “they”) will notice.

By now it’s 4 P.M., and my manuscripts are still in the mailbox, soggy from the misty rain. The mail carrier, over five hours late, neither knows, nor cares that I wait anxiously each day for acceptance/rejection slips. An hour later, I spot him running down the street, new on the job and obviously frightened. Misery, in a rare moment of bravado, must have given him a toothless, raspy snarl, for now the mail dropped in haste on the unprotected porch stoop is as wet as the outgoing mail. It’s mostly brown envelopes, signifying returned manuscripts, and I’m in no mood for rejection. I’ll open them later.

As Jesse methodically empties all the kitchen cabinets and drawers, I concoct a simple dinner of chili with beans and brown bread. Dining with small children will either cause compulsive eating or pseudo anorexia. Ian detests all healthy food, and Jesse concentrates on feeding his supper to Misery, whose sense of smell has deteriorated to the point where she indiscriminately devours scraps of bread and shredded napkins.

The last hour before my daughter comes to collect her sons is spent re-stocking the cabinets, brushing crumbs out of the dog’s eyes, picking up the fifty or more toys that Jesse has hurled from his playpen, and bathing the boys. Ian has an inborn aversion to having his hair washed, and Jesse likes to scuba-dive, giving me heart failure and more gray hair. By the time their bath is completed, the bathroom is under water and smells like wet dog. Misery, in her senility, refuses to relinquish her spot on the soft rug next to the bathtub.

Their mother arrives and asks the same daily question, “Were they good?” I give the same answer, “Perfect!”, and she carts them off to her car. I am alone; at least for another twenty minutes when the breadwinner comes home. My husband walks in the door with that “don’t even ask me about my day,” look on his face, and heads for his recliner. The pile of damp, warped mail catches his eye, and he rummages through it.

“Hey, I think you might have sold something,” he says. “Don’t you want to open it?”

I move in slow-motion, back pain radiating down my legs from constantly plucking Jesse off the staircase, and listlessly open the SASE. (self-addressed stamped envelope)

“Look at that,” my husband says, glancing over my shoulder. “You just sold another article, made $100.00, and you never had to leave the house.” He grabs his paper and settles into his chair with the martyred look of a man who has battled rain, fog, and bumper to bumper traffic to provide for a wife who sits home and nonchalantly collects honorariums and checks. I hate that look. After a full ten minutes of savoring my sale, I trudge back to the Dell, free to write for three more hours. But by now Mary is no longer lusting after John.

 

Bio: Micki Peluso writes humorous slice of life stories based mostly on her family and friends. No lawsuits yet but she has been removed from several wills. These stories, published in various newspapers and magazines led to her first non-fiction story, . . .And the Whippoorwill Sang, and will be published in 2015 in a collection called, “Don’t Pluck the Duck.”

https://pixabay.com/go/?t=list-shutterstock&id=111044285

Finding Inspiration in the Every Day by Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes glasses in hand

My kids are weird. I say that with the most love possible. They are funny, unique endearing and strange. Just now, I was sitting in my office and I heard beat box noises and laughter, so I wandered out to see what was going on.

My eldest son was sitting on the arm of the couch, improvising lyrics to a song, while one of the neighbor boys played guitar and did a beat box. The closest example I can give is Alice’s Restaurant. One played and the other came up with lyrics, with a smattering of harmonica thrown in for spice.

All I can say is, I wish we’d recorded it. I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile. My son is one of the best at improvising lyrics. When his brothers were younger, he would play guitar and tell tales to put them to sleep. They loved it. Of course, he couldn’t always remember it later, but they always begged for particular songs every night.

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My children have been a constant source of material. I don’t often write about them, because I don’t want to embarrass them, but I frequently use things they’ve said or done, in my books.

A prime example, also from my eldest son. His friend had been visiting and was heading home. They exchanged insults, as they often did. (Male bonding, I’ll never understand it.) The exchange stuck with me and I ended up using it in one of my sci-fi novels, Shakazhan. The last exchange between the men is the quote. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (Me) from being sued:

 

Ben chuckled, winking at Matilda. “Yes, Ma’am. Duty would work.” He risked a wicked glance at Wil. “The fact that you’re beautiful and desirable, and the sexiest woman I’ve ever met would have nothing whatever to do with it.”

Wil was furious until he recognized the subtleties of the remark. He chuckled. “Ben, you know what you can kiss.”

“Yeah, Wil, and you know what you can blow.”

 

I don’t always copy exactly what they say, but more the way they say things. Their mode of expression is unique and it fascinates me. Laced with sarcasm and double meanings, they communicate on an entirely different level from other people their age. I have to wonder how much of this my husband and I are responsible for, and how much is simply from them. Their friends have picked up on it, too, so our influence spreads.

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Anyone who has read my books, knows that I use a lot of humor in them. I don’t purposely try to be funny, because that’s hard. Instead, I involve myself in the conversation and let the characters find their own humor. I’m not the one being funny, they are. They also have running jokes throughout a story, something that others don’t know about, but always makes them laugh.

In Conduct Unbecoming, the men are always twitting Joel about his bright blue Civic named Bluebell. Though I didn’t borrow any exact conversations, the way that the men comment and tease Joel is so like my sons and their friends, I have to give credit to them for it:

 

“Boys, enough,” Vivica said. “Joel, your car is cute—just like you.”

They moved toward the back door together.

Joel crossed his arms, frowning. “Why do women always tell me I’m cute? Men don’t want to be cute.”

“Then don’t drive a car that looks like it should be covered in Hello Kitty stickers,” Teague remarked, dodging out of his cousin’s way as Joel took a swing at him.

“My car is not gay!” Joel yelled as he flung open the door.

“Okay. . . .” Jasper held up his hands. “It’s not gay. It’s bi-curious.”

“You can ride in the Pinto O’Death,” Joel said.

“I’ll ride with Joel,” Aileen said. “Shotgun,” she called as she walked out the door.

Nadeya followed her. Teague and Vivica walked toward the truck, bypassing the Pinto. Disgusted, Jasper followed them.

“Okay, I know it’s lame,” he grumbled, “But it was all I could get my hands on.”

“That car’s almost as embarrassing as Joel’s,” Teague said as his truck motor roared to life.

Joel started his car and purple neon lights flickered underneath.

“Jesus,” Jasper remarked. “There is no expression sorry enough to describe that.”

 

In my historical novel, Indian Summer, there are continuous comments about Manuel’s well appointed pants, because of a remark some old lady made at a party:

 

“Your young man there.” She pointed with her cane somewhere below Manuel’s waist. “He’s well appointed, indeed he is.”

She smiled toothlessly, cackling happily and hobbled off to sit beside Manuel’s aunt on the settee. I looked over at Manuel, finding him scarlet faced. I couldn’t imagine what had made him blush. I leaned toward him a little whispering to him.

“What did she mean well appointed?”

He reddened even more deeply and moved nervously from foot to foot. Dropping his head and his voice to a whisper, he turned slightly away from my parents to answer me. “Well, it’s not really polite for me to repeat its exact meaning. But it means….” He looked around to make sure we were not overheard. “It means that I fill out these pants well—in the front.”

He looked at his feet and turned as red as the roses in my hair. I’m sure I did too.

“Oh,” was all I could manage. “Oh, indeed.” I giggled nervously and couldn’t help adding. “Well, she’s right.”

 

I should add that the character of Gabriella, who tells Indian Summer, is patterned after my daughter. Though she is only fifteen, Gabriella has core of strength and determination is patterned after my only girl. She was, and is, a formidable opponent and I wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side. Nor would I want to get on the wrong side of Gabriella.

My point throughout this piece is that inspiration can come from anywhere. It might be a conversation overheard in the grocery store, or between friends and family members. It can hit like a lightning bolt from the clear, blue sky, knocking an author on her backside. Or, it might drift in through an open window like a spring breeze.

Let life influence your writing. It’s there and a part of you. Don’t separate yourself from it, embrace it and allow it to flavor your words. Make it part of your imaginary world. Doing so will make your characters more real. I don’t mean that you should simply write what you know. That’s some of the most foolish advice ever given. Instead, write what entertains you. Use what you know to bring it alive.

 

joe and joseph 1996

 

Dellani Oakes is an author who currently lives with her husband, Joe, her three sons & the eldest son’s fiancée. It’s a crowded house! In order to retain some semblance of sanity, she writes. The above is something she wrote for the Fun in Writing class she leads through the local Council on Aging several years ago, but still holds true today. Her friends and family are a constant source of inspiration.

Look for Dellani:

On Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/mv8j2km

Smashwords: Second Wind http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dellanioakes

Smashwords: Tirgearr http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Dellani

 

Life as a Writer…

I kind of chuckle to myself now when people “ooh” and “ahh” over my life as a writer. If they only knew what it entailed I think that they might idolize it a bit less.

Being a writer is most definitely not your usual 8:00 – 5:00 (or 9:00 – 5:00) job. Nope. There’s no clocking out; no truly free weekends and no ‘normal’ night’s sleep. Creativity seems to be synonymous with spontaneity – this means that inspiration can (and will) make an appearance at any time of the day (or night).

Oh, I’m sorry – you’re not a morning person? Well, guess what? Your muse doesn’t care…

When my inspiration strikes at 3:00 A.M. (whether I’m already in bed, or just about to retire for the night) I’m faced with the choice of either getting up or staying up until I’ve committed the words to paper or computer; otherwise they will be gone with no intent to ever return.

Oh, I’m so sorry – you’re friend or significant other is at the door waiting for you so you can go to the movies? Well, that’s too bad because this is the precise moment when the light bulb of epiphany sparks. Running through your mind in its entirety now is the article (or chapter) that you’ve been trying to cohesively formulate for the entire prior week…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all writers experience these things, but I’d be willing to bet that most can relate to some.

Other writer ‘side’ effects?

  • The addiction to coffee (or some type of caffeinated/energy beverage).
  • The need for said item at any given hour of the day (or night).
  • The new love of any food(s) that provide a quick energy boost. (Hello candy! I’m certain my dentist will be happy that you’ve entered my life).
  • The ability to have multiple ‘open’ lines of chatting/dialogue. You know – there’s your real-life friend and/or family member, as well as all those characters from whatever novel or story you’re currently writing. It’s like Tourette’s for the writer’s brain – the person across from you says something and in your mind you can clearly hear a response from your novel’s leading protagonist.
  • And sleep? Pfft! Who needs it?! Apparently my characters sleep enough for all of us…

Regardless though, at the end of the day (when I finally put down my pen or close the keyboard) I’m glad to have the calling of a writer. Just like the bards of days long gone, we writers soothe the world with our voices; and for brief moments we bring peace and happiness to others.

Candy, Coffee, Sweets

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great rest of your day!

Charline

Charline Ratcliff

Author: The Curse of Nefertiti, The Princess, The Toad & The Whale, and The Further Adventures of The Princess, The Toad & The Whale

http://www.CharlineRatcliff.com

Turbulence

An excerpt from Trish Jackson’s upcoming unpredictable, eccentric, politically incorrect romantic comedy, Backwoods Boogie, the third in the Twila Taunton, Redneck P.I. Series.

airplane

“If someone had told me just a few months ago that soon I’d be sitting in a jumbo jet heading for England, I would have laughed. I mean, me, born and bred in the South and proud to be a redneck. And now here I am. The flight is not completely full and there’s an empty place between me and the weird looking woman on the aisle seat. I stare at her for a while until she gives me a look and I suddenly get interested in finding a movie on the viewer in front of me.

They don’t serve bourbon on this airline, so I drink a couple of beers instead and pour the contents of the miniature bag of pretzels into my mouth. The flight attendant must have noticed, because she brings me another two bags, which don’t stop me from being starved when dinner is served. The aircraft food is okay, but there isn’t enough of it. The dessert is in this little miniature bowl which I finish in one mouthful.

I consider asking if we can get seconds, but I figure we probably can’t, since just about everyone has started watching movies.

I stare at a few of the other passengers, who open out those little miniature blankets and place the tiny pillows under their heads. Do they actually think they’re gonna sleep?

I’ve watched two movies before I decide I’m gonna have to pee. I’ve been hoping I would be able to last the entire flight without going, but the beers probably did it. And when you gotta go, you gotta go.

It’s not that easy to get to the bathrooms. First, if you have a window seat like me, you have to wake the woman in the aisle seat. I tap her on the shoulder. She is snoring pretty well, so the people around us must be thankful even if she isn’t. “Gotta go pee,” I tell her.

“Wha…? Oh. Oh,” she says and pulls the blanket off her legs and slides out into the aisle. I squeeze past her just as the aircraft hits a bump. I don’t understand how air can be bumpy, but I fall face-first onto the dude in the next aisle seat along. I mean, my mouth is right over his privates and he’s just lucky I don’t bite down. When I come up for air he has both his hands up above his head, as if to show people he ain’t doing anything wrong. Just getting an impromptu blow job.

The PA system crackles and the captain’s voice comes over it.

“We’re experiencing a bit of turbulence. Please take your seats and put your seat belts on.”

I hold onto the back of the dude’s chair and haul myself off him. We hit another bump and I crash into a woman on my side of the aisle. She throws me a dirty look. I’m not making much progress and wonder if I’ll ever get to the restroom. It seems to be very far away all of a sudden.

“Sorry Ma’am,” a flight attendant bars my way. “Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt.”

The airplane is really bucking now, and it reminds me of the new mechanical bull Ricci and Tina put in the Hogs Waller. “I have to pee,” I say and crash into her, knocking her off her feet. I land on top of her in the aisle. It takes a while for me to untangle myself and scramble to my feet. Another flight attendant glares at me and helps her co-worker up. I try to push past them, but now there are two of them blocking me.

“Okay,” I say. “I’ll just pee right here then, if that’s the way you want it.” I unbutton my pants. That gets them moving and I walk-crash to the restroom, waking up anyone who wasn’t already awake on my way.

When I finally get there, I heave a sigh of relief that it isn’t occupied. There isn’t a lot of space in it and it takes me a while to figure out how to lock the door. The toilet smells bad. The blue water inside it is slopping around quite a lot and I wait until a bump throws me toward the seat and I manage to land sitting on it. I find myself hoping the water isn’t gonna slop up and wet my ass.

I don’t have much time to savor that feeling of relief though. I’m beginning to get a little worried about whether we’re gonna make it out of this storm or whatever it is.

The captain wasn’t kidding when he told us it was gonna get turbulent.

I flush and make my way back to my seat, getting quite personal with a number of passengers, and reminding myself never to sit in an aisle seat. I heave a big sigh of relief when I finally manage to get back into my own seat and buckle up. Rain is pelting the outside of the window.

The turbulence sticks around for a while, but finally things get smooth again and the fasten seat belt lights go off.

Phew.”

Backwoods Boogie is scheduled to be released on November 14th, 2014. Apart from the comedy aspect, it also has a serious message about animal abuse and puppy mills in the US, and 20% of all the author’s proceeds will be donated to the ASPCA to help them in their fight to save dogs that live their entire lives in squalor in small cages and without veterinary attention.

Trish Jackson also writes serious and emotive romantic suspense, focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

Way Back When by Sharla Lee Shults

 

Stepping back in time is so interesting . . . in fact, it is often just plain, simple fun! Whether you are a teenager wanting to learn about the eras in which your parents grew up or the adult who wants to relive the memories, the nostalgia is an alluring invitation for a trip down memory lane.

More than likely at one time or another you have said, or heard someone else say the phrase way back when. Its context could be in reference to good times or bad times but in either case reflects upon events of the distant past—a different year, decade or even a different era. Some folks refer to it as back in the day. But, whose day? Before indoor plumbing? Before electricity? Before the phonograph? Before the automobile? Before radio? Before television? Before the cellphone, iPhone, iPad?

Regardless of how you say it, distinctive spans of time become identifiers for each individual. There are countless, precious moments held dear to the heart before time erases all memory. Each footnote has its own unique melody playing out the music of life. Looking back provides reflections into who we are, how we have evolved and in some instances, where we are going [again]. Making comparisons of how things were ‘back in the day’ to present day is often hilarious. The changes in fashion, cars, appliances, entertainment and sayings about the future (which is now the present) can have one doubling over with laughter or simply smiling in amazement.

Conversations can quickly turn to making comparisons of the amenities that are commonplace today but totally void in the past. Such things as living in houses with dirt floors, having to complete private business in outhouses, boiling clothes to get them clean, bathing once a month with or without soap, etc. are considered primitive by today’s standards. Of course, we don’t have to step that far back in time. Simply disregard the cellphone, TV and Internet. Without those three, some people would not know how to survive.

Many comparisons to way back when or back in the day are derived from the changes in the state of the economy. For instance, think about the cost of gasoline. Today excitement abounds if to fill the car, truck, lawn mower or farm equipment with gas costs under $4.00 a gallon. Also, if a trip to the doctor’s office or a prescription is under $100, shouts of jubilation can be heard! It has not always been that way. Can you date either of these scenarios? Do you remember when…

Who would have thought gas would ever cost 25 cents a gallon? I hear it will soon go up to 26 cents. Up a penny now, another penny later. The rate it is going gasoline will reach a dollar a gallon before we know it. What’s the world coming to?

At $15.00 a day in the hospital, no one can afford to be sick anymore. All those doctors want to do is make their lives easier at our expense! Maw, what’s that home remedy for sore throat?

These are only a random sampling of conversations today that ultimately begin with I remember when or back in the day. These examples would place one’s when in the 50s.

Another inevitable change through the decades is the use of catch phrases. These are expressions used repeatedly until at some point in time they are replaced or simply have worn themselves out. See if you can date any of the following:

Look at that cat’s ‘zoot’ suit. It’s crazy, man.

You are ‘lighting up the tilt sign!’

‘Are we having fun yet?’

Can you dig it?

Say what?

Whatever!

Wassup!

If you recognize the ‘zoot’ suit, your memories have dated back to men’s fashion of the 40s, which consisted of a long jacket with wide shoulders and pants that were wide at the top but narrow at the bottom. ‘Lighting up the tilt sign’ was slang of the 50s when someone was not telling the truth. ‘Are we having fun yet?’ is the most famous quote by bizarre, non-sequitur-spouting comic strip character Zippy the Pinhead. This caught on quite rapidly with the general public in the 60s. The phrase ‘Can you dig it?’ was first used in the awesome cult classic “The Warriors.” It became synonymous with ‘groovy’ in the 70s. The wild and funky decade, the 80s, spawned ‘Say What’ and ‘Mikey Likes It,’ both of which ran the gamut. ‘Whatever!’ was made popular in the 90s and is the one that has been dubbed the most irritating in the English language. Then, there is ‘Wassup!’ stemming from a Budweiser commercial that definitely bludgeoned itself to death in the beginning of the new millennium. It thankfully died!

Movies are a great source of entertainment with certain movie lines sticking in our heads, much like the catch phrases, to be repeated just at the right place and time in real life. Here are but a few. See if you remember using them upon occasion, perhaps even recently.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Gone with the Wind (1939)

“Well, nobody’s perfect.” Some Like it Hot (1959)

“Bond. James Bond.” Dr. No (1962)

“May the force be with you.” Star Wars (1977)

“I’ll be back.” The Terminator (1984)

“Houston, we have a problem.” Apollo 13 (1995)

The memory triggers during a visit to the past vary greatly. Hopefully those shared here are ones that have brought on smiles, adding a bit of humor to the day. To end our trip down memory lane, do you recall who said…

“Love is being stupid together.”

“Ever notice how “what the hell” is always the right answer?”

Both are still very apropos in the 21st century. The first is credited to Paul Valéry but made popular by Lucille Ball in the I Love Lucy show. The second is said to be attributed to none other than Marilyn Monroe but not credited to her as an original.

And life goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times…


Way Back When

 

Way back when could be days gone by

When leisure reigned and time didn’t fly

Back in the day brought a blissful vision

Summer nights with no television

 

We’d play hide-n-seek way passed dark

When shadows played tricks as we embarked

Wearing socks emitted soundless steps

Muffled strides which slowly crept

 

Good ol’ days forged many a fable

When conversation ruled the dinner table

Freshly cooked chow incited a snicker

“Peas, please, and the pot liquor”

 

Way back when could be days gone by

When things remembered made you cry

Reminiscing brought an unwelcomed vision

Summer nights with no television

 

We’d play inside after Jack Frost

When darkness reigned and time was lost

Sounds of the night repeated all week

Rocking chairs that steadily creaked

 

Now the days pass much too fast

Memories still linger holding on to the past

Remembrances prompt the slyest grin

“A way of life, way back when!”

 

©2009 Remembering Sharla Lee Shults

 
“Let each day begin with happy thoughts that return to remember when.” ~SLS

 

Poem excepted from Remembering (http://goo.gl/C5PZcP) by Sharla Lee Shults. Sharla’s passion for writing is poetry: Historical and inspirational. Become acquainted with her writing by visiting http://sharlashults.com/ where links are accessible to her books, blogs and social networks. Sharla previously shared here at The Write Room:  A Woodsy Morning http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1060, A Day That Will Live in Infamy: December 7, 1941 http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1538, Why do you celebrate Memorial Day? http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2082 and joined Linda Hales in Turning Winter into Summer http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1695.

STELLA HAUNTS ME!

 

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I’m lying in bed next to my wife when Stella McMasters lifts the covers and slips in beside me.  She taps my chin.

“When are you going to do it?” she asks.

I glance over to see if Stella has awakened Jane.  My wife usually takes a dim view of me sleeping with two women at the same time.  Fortunately, she’s snoring.

I turn back.  “Going to do what?” I ask.

She snuggles closer.  “Tell the rest of my story.”

I sigh, for she’s asked this before.  Stella’s the cyborg heroine I created in Beyond Those Distant Stars, a SF action-adventure romance published by Mundania Press (http://tinyurl.com/74a6zqp).  Twice I’ve tried to write a sequel, Star Warrior, but I’ve been stymied each time by my friends’ substantial and valid criticisms.

I try to brazen it out.  “Listen, honey, you’re my creation, and it’s up to me to continue your story or not.”

This doesn’t fly.  Stella’s face hardens, and she raises a fist.  Two-thirds of her body is synthetic, and she could crush me with a single blow.  “I rule an empire of a thousand worlds,” she says, “and I’ve got enemies who want to destroy me.  Hell, there’s enough for a whole boatload of books.  I can be an even bigger hero than Miles.”

That’s Miles Vorkosigan, the creation of the multiple prize-winning SF author Lois McMaster Bujold, whose name inspired Stella McMasters’ name.  “Look,” I say, “I tried twice to continue your saga, but my writers’ group found too many implausibilities.”

Stella gives me a chaste kiss, which is unlike the passionate ones she gave her unfaithful lover in Beyond Those Distant Stars.  “Screw the implausibilities.  Just write it.”  She smiles.  “I feel great adventures ahead of me.  New challenges, new men, new triumphs and revelations.  Sweetie, my saga is just getting started.”

My name isn’t Sweetie, but I don’t tell her that.  “I can’t do it,” I say.  “I tried twice—”

Her hand squeezes me below the covers, but not as a lover.  I moan in pain.

“Do it,” she orders.  Seeing Jane roll over beside me, she taps my chin again and disappears.

Jane sighs.  “Stella again?” she asks.

Great.  My wife heard.  “Yes.”

She moves closer.  “It was worse this time, wasn’t it?”

I don’t need to answer.  Jane kisses me gently.

“Honey,” she says, “why don’t you do what she says.  Only in the sequel . . .”

“Yes?”

She giggles.  “In it, you kill the bitch off.”

* * *

Being haunted by your own character is no fun.  If Stella wants sequels, why doesn’t she take charge and sweep me along plot-wise like other authors’ characters do?  Doesn’t she recognize writer’s block when she sees it?

Two days later, I enter the shower to find Stella waiting there for me.

“Look,” I say, “we have to stop meeting like this.”

Nude, she taps my chin.  “Then you know what to do.”

* * *

After I dry off, I sit down and start Star Warrior again.

 

John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror Magazine and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens.

Web site: http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog site: http://www.johnrosenman.blogspot.com

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