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Updated: 2018-03-06T09:20:45.317-08:00


The Time Arnold Palmer Bought Me a Pint of Bass Ale


I have told this Arnold Palmer story before but after I found out about his death, I thought I should probably write it down, or it will be forgotten.  My family does not have much of an oral tradition.I was at the 1982 British Open at Royal Troon.  It is the one that Tom Watson won from the parking lot as Nick Price carved up the last few holes.  I think he was three over for final four holes.  Tom's acceptance speech was almost an apology.  Anyway, my British friend, Jeff Nash, was a member of the Royal and Ancient and he got me an "All Access Badge." And I do mean all access.  So I am sitting at the bar in the player's lounge and in walks Jack Nicholas and Arnold Palmer.  Arnie sits down on the stool immediately to my right with Jack on his right.  Arnie spoke first, "how ya doing?"  I tried to simultaneously form an answer and avoid shitting my pants.  I must have replied because he said, "oh, you're an American."   Then a conversation started that was all about me.  I am sitting with one of my all-time idols and he is asking about me.  Where I come from?  What I am doing in Scotland? My family?  Do I play golf?  The smart answer to that question when speaking to one of the greatest players in history is no.  But you can't lie to Arnie.  I couldn't even lie about my pathetic 15 handicap. I told him that we share a birthday (which is a fact that I knew but he seemed surprised by).  He even told Jack, who looked up from a paper he was reading and smiled in our general direction.  When Arnie found out I was in the military, he leaned over to Jack again (who he had pretty much ignored to talk to me) and said, "Rick is an American soldier stationed over here (close enough)."  Jack leaned across Arnie to shake my hand. He smiled and was cordial, but it was Arnie who took the time to honestly take an interest.  Maybe Jack would have if the seating had been reversed, but I somehow doubt it.  He asked me what I was drinking, motioning to the person behind the bar.  If it had been now, I would have said  an "Arnold Palmer," but they didn't exist yet.  "Bass, " I said, holding up my pint glass, "thanks Mr. Palmer."  I saw that calling him Mr. Palmer made him uncomfortable, so when the serving wench brought my fresh pint, I said, "Cheers Arnie."  I don't even remember what he was drinking but we clicked glasses.   We probably talked for 20 minutes before he was bothered by some official looking people in suits (suits at the freaking Open?) .   I had not realized that Jack had already left.   I like Jack, but this was Arnold Palmer.  The King.   He shook my hand as he left and told me to enjoy my week.  The rest of it was anticlimactic, I had sat at a bar with Arnold Palmer and he bought me a beer.   I managed to not shit my pants, but I think I may have peed a little.Here is the best part.  On the weekend I saw him again by the driving range and I had a program that I had been getting autographed.  I walked up and said, "could I get your Autograph Arnie?"  He replied, "sure Rick, have you been enjoying yourself?  When do you have to be back to Bentwaters? "  Are you freaking kidding me?  That is probably why he is one of the most beloved sports figures on the planet. RIP              [...]

Little Red Hoody - An Urban Fairy Tale


I was tasked to rewrite Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf's point of view.  This is what I came up with. Little Red Hoody             I was parked in a loading zone across the street from the 7th Street Terminal......watching.  I spend a lot of time watching and waiting.  Waiting and watching.  Usually from the shadows.  A good hunter is patient. And I am a great hunter.  It is winter, which I love because I have more hours under the cover of darkness.  The gloom is where all monsters thrive, and it is already getting dark.               And there it is, nearly on time:  The 6 PM Greyhound from somewhere in the Midwest.  Saint Something or Something City.  It doesn't  matter, they are all the same: a great source of quarry   In a few minutes passengers will have collected their belongings and begin to leave the station for the taxi stand or waiting friends and relatives.  Except for a few, who will enter Los Angeles for the first time with starry eyed wonder and no idea where they will go next.  I will have an answer for one of them.             Selecting a target is much like picking fruit. She can be neither too green nor overripe.  And I have no use for the decayed souls that have jumped or fallen to rock bottom.  And unfortunately most of the litters that are birthed from incoming Greyhounds are too putrefied for my tastes.  My perfect prey is................................there she is.  She has luggage, so she is not a runaway.  They travel light at the expense of their hygiene.  No, thank you.  She is ideal.  Attractive, though she doesn't know it.  Robust, however she probably considers herself fat.  As a skilled watcher, her entire deportment screams low self-esteem.  But the coup de  grace is the bright red hooded sweatshirt with a single word emblazoned, in white, across her ample chest: "Nebraska."   A corn fed, succulent, well-marbled college girl,  I had to purposefully keep myself from becoming one of Pavlov's dogs, right there in the squad car.  And it isn't even full moon until tomorrow.              This was going to be easy. My eternal 25 year-old good looks combined with an impeccable uniform,  tailored to accentuate my sculpted physique, hardly ever fails to mesmerize such a girl.  I will just drive across the street and she will be in the car in less than five minutes.  I will have that red hoody and whatever is under it on the floor of the cruiser by 8:00 and she will be dreadfully and fatally addicted to me by 8:15.  I do so love to play with my food.   I cranked the ignition and started idling across the street, when an old lady in an antique Cadillac convertible cuts me off and  comes screeching to a rusty stop at the curb.  Nebraska tosses her bags in the back seat and jumps in. They hug briefly and granny guns it and off they go cackling in a cloud of dust and burning oil. I am pissed but I resist the urge to pull her over and shoot her.  Patience.  I don't even need to follow her.  Patience.  I know where she is going.  Patience.  I can run her plate: name, address                       I pulled up to the address that came up on my screen and found a small, well kept, bungalow, overrun with flowers and vines that were still flourishing in late December.  Well, it is Los Angeles.  It was the kind of house you would expect a granny to live in if this were a fairy tale.    The only problem is that it is in one of the worst parts of Mar Vista, shrouded in poverty and circled by crack [...]

My Folk Group - Resistant Elders


            I belong to many groups.  Some of the groups that I am a member of are by choice, such as living in a condo development and having to suffer the fresh hell of the Homeowners Association routinely.  Other groups I have no say in whether to join, such as the  family unit I was born into.  One group that I am a member of totally against my will are the Senior Citizens.  I have chosen to pick and choose which elements of this group I wish to be a part of.  I resist many common stereotypical sacraments and customs of the elderly.  Many of these cliches are accurate founded.              While I will accept a reduced price at the movie theater, I refuse to eat my dinner at 4:00 P.M. to save a dollar.   I will gratefully take a seat offered up out of respect and courtesy on the subway or a door held open for me but I will not enter the gate of a retirement village, regardless of who is holding the door and pushing me inside.  Those are the Grim Reaper's  anterooms.              Seniors normally enjoy the company of other blue hairs over decaffeinated, artificially sweetened, coffee, conversing through dentures about grandchildren, hip replacement surgery, and difficulty peeing.  I prefer the company and vitality of young people, which is one reason I began attending Coastal.  Sometimes, I actually forget I am old until I look with horror into the mirror.  But I still have my teeth.....most of them.              I have not, nor will I ever join AARP, which seems to be a rite of passage for codgers like myself.  Triple A, another group I voluntarily belong to, gives a better discount at hotels and restaurants than AARP and they will tow my car.  AARP will not.              Get caught in a conversation with an elderly person and you will get a better weather report than Al Roker can provide.  I don't understand the fixation on the weather that my contemporaries have. Are they preparing to sail to England on a raft?  They stay mostly indoors, so it is the same weather year round.  I have feigned deafness and unfamiliarity with English just to avoid these exchanges.                 Because I was a career military person I am eligible to join other groups that I choose not to, such as the VFW and American Legion. Though they have cheap alcohol, the price you must pay is listening to old farts tell war stories that never happened about places they have never been, all claiming to be Special Forces or Green Beret, when they were actually cooks and clerks, that no one ever admits to being. No thank you.              Upon reaching geezerhood, it is a custom for many northern people to migrate to the south.  I guess southern geriatrics stay where they are.  Defying convention, I moved from Wyoming to Myrtle Beach at the age of 48, while I still had most of my faculties and some of my hope.  I love to fish and play golf but I have been doing both for my entire life, so they are not something I picked up since moving here to help me enjoy in my "golden years."             I have to accept growing older,  but rather than sitting around waiting for more body parts to fall off and eventually to die I prefer Dylan Thomas' approach.  "Old age should burn and rave at close of day,"  and not leave their turn signal on for ten miles.    [...]

Dr. Strangelove - A Review


 This blog has been like a neglected child.  Abandoned to Facebook.  Here is a movie review that I wrote for film class.  A Review of Dr. Strangelove (1964)May Contain Spoilers            This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a chuckle.  That is certainly what Stanley Kubrick, Director of  Dr. Strangelove, would have us believe.  And there is plenty to chuckle about, even with the dark cloud of  imminent thermonuclear war hovering over the proceedings.  This British production of a screenplay Kubrick co-wrote, based on the novel, "Red Alert," never disappoints or becomes tedious.  On the contrary, Kubrick bombards us with   so much sexual and political innuendo, zany characters, and absurd situations that we can't take our eyes off the screen, not even to text.  It is a dark comedy.  To make that extremely clear, Kubrick films in black and white at a time when color was all the rage.  But monochrome photography was not enough, he extensively uses darkness, effectively keeping the situation gloomy and the characters dimly lit.  Even the weak attempt at special effects with an obvious model of a B-52 is droll.  Kubrick seems to be winking at the audience throughout the film.                     It is a relatively simple and, sadly, somewhat plausible premise that insane and paranoid General Jack Ripper (Sterling Haden)  launches 34 nuclear laden B-52s at the Soviet Union.  And that is where the hilarity begins.  He can't do that?  Oh, yes he can because there is an emergency war pan, called "Plan R," which gives the lower level of command presidential authority to do so in time of emergency."  Ripper is so bat-guano (also a character) crazy that he claims the Red Menace is poisoning our water with Fluoride (a real mania at that time) and even blames his own post-coital tristesse on a "communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."    Ripper has also isolated his planes and the base he commands, Burpelson AFB, from contact with anyone, even President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers).  Doesn't sound funny yet?  There is more.  The Russians have a "Doomsday Device" that will eradicate all life on earth should the Soviet Union be attacked.  But, the truth is that Dr. Strangelove is uproariously funny.            Much of the  humor is that the cast is deadly serious while delivering to us inane lines:  "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" and the difficulty of President Muffley to communicate via telephone with assumed intoxicated, Soviet Premier Kissoff is Bob Newhartish buttoned-down comic genius.  .                      Peter Sellers masterful performance as three separate and diverse characters led to a well-earned 1965 Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor.  One of four nominations, including Best Picture.  But alas, that year brought us Rex Harrison and My Fair Lady, winner of eight Oscars, including both of those mentioned.  In addition to the title role, Sellers also played President of the United States, Merkin Muffley, and British RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (the only rational character in the movie).  Well, it is a British production.               Seller's performance somewhat overshadows an amazing turn by George C. Scott as the hawkish General  Buck' Turgidson: "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks." &nb[...]

No One Would Believe Him Anyway - A short story


I was assigned to write a short story for my Creative Writing Workshop.  I took a flash fiction idea I had abandoned some time ago and revised it. This is what I came up with:  No One Would Believe Him Anyway            Jacob was ten when he realized that not everyone could see the future.  He had known that he had that ability ever since he could remember, but didn’t think much about it until that fateful year.  He had thought his ability to know the future was like his sense of smell or taste; the capability always existed but he only noticed it when something smelled or tasted really good or really bad.  He simply knew things that were going to occur.  He could not control when it happened.  It just happened.  But it always happened.  Sometimes it was just a little thing, like knowing the phone was going to ring and who was going to be calling or that his mom would break a glass in the kitchen.   Other times it was a more meaningful event, like a neighbor’s dog getting run over by a garbage truck, what he was getting for Christmas, or an earthquake in India.  Though he didn’t know exactly where India was, other than far away, he could feel the terror and see the destruction of the quake as if it was in his Brooklyn neighborhood             The mistake he made was telling someone.  One evening, just before bedtime, he frantically warned his dad not to drive to the 7-Eleven for a pack of Marlboro's.  "You can't go dad! The man is going to rob it.  He has a gun. He will shoot you.  Please, don't go!" Jacob screamed.                His dad laughed and as he grabbed his car keys from the cluttered breakfast bar and was walking out the door he said, "you have a great imagination, Jake.  I will be fine. You can stay up until I get back.  I'll bring you some ice cream, chocolate chip?"    The door slammed before Jacob could answer.              Less than an hour later the Korean store clerk's body was encircled with a chalk outline  and  his dad was in an ambulance with a bullet wound in his shoulder and a confused look on his face.  The police were equally baffled when they apprehended the shooter the next day based entirely on Jacob’s detailed description; including the license plate number of the getaway car and the scorpion tattoo on the robber's neck.  His dad, being in shock, much of which was not gunshot induced,  could provide little information to the authorities, but could clearly identify the culprit from a police lineup.              From that moment on, everything was different.  Jacob was talked about on the news.  They used his soccer team picture in the broadcast.   He hated that picture.   It looked like  he was picking his nose.  Maybe he was.   People were calling his house day and night, wanting to know who would win a ball game or what numbers to pick.  No one understood that it didn’t work that way.  Random Images would just appear to him, as real as life.  He had no control over when or where.  It could happen in a dream, at the dinner table, or in the classroom.  Sometimes he would go weeks without a premonition.  Other times they would come so fast and frequently that it gave him a headache.              The kids at St. Rita's  suddenly noticed him, where before he had been happily invisible.  They called him a freak and a weirdo.  One kid, Evan, that he had thought was his friend stole his Han Solo lunchbox a[...]

Pony Tale - Lyrical Poem


I was required to compose a lyrical poem for English 301.  I wrote this piece for my personal trainer. Pony TaleShe steps onto the belt activates and adjusts  speed and incline,as Pink implores her through her earbuds to "Try." She does.  A few nonrhythmic steps,then the perfect cadence, as her sorrel ponytail becomes a pendulous windshield wiper, brushing unseen schmutz from her shoulders.A silken metronome,now keeping time, As Eminem urges her   to "Lose Herself." She does.Flowing freeRestrained onlyBy a satin scrunchie and four-four time,  swaying smoothly as the plait of a championDressage horse.  [...]

"The War That I'm Waging" - A Villanelle


I was tasked to write a Villanelle for creative writing class.  Through the years I have met a lot of Vietnam vets who  returned damaged.  I decided to write this poem as  a tribute to those soldiers.  Though I tell the story here of a Vietnam vet, the wars are interchangeable.  The one constant is the warrior.    .   The War That I'm WagingWhen I close my eyes I can still seeCan't shake the memories that my mind embracesThe war that I'm waging is inside of meSleepless nights, husband, father,  in absenteeUnable to forget unforgettable placesWhen I close my eyes I can still seeTwo tours of changing good men to debris Through the crosshairs, exploding yellow facesThe war that I'm waging is inside of meMekong flowed red to the North China SeaFiligrees of horrors that no time erasesWhen I close my eyes I can still seeA long ago war that  I can never break  free Jack Daniels and VA meds temporarily displacesThe war that I'm waging is inside of meThe hell that I'm living forever will be  No Lord's Prayer can earn me God's graces When I close my eyes I can still seeThe war that I'm waging is inside of me by Rick Wainright [...]

History 361 - Antebellum 1820-1860 Opinion Piece #3 - Slavery


 Slavery            Though we examined a lot of the dynamics of the Antebellum period, the crux of the sectional differences that led to the Civil War, was slavery.  As a result, my final essay will deal with my own revisionist interpretation of that issue.              There are several points that I feel are critical when examining slavery in the southern section.  The fact that slaves were only held by the aristocracy or planter class is revealing.   Most accounts that I have seen put that group at less than five percent of the population.  It is my belief that solely on the issue of slavery, the majority of southerners would not have been willing to secede from the union and/or go to war with the north.  The promoters of secession would have sold it by instilling fear of northern aggression and an us against them mentality.  There was a rallying of support based on "southern pride," which still exists today.  Also, I suppose, as long as the blacks were enslaved, the poor, uneducated, white people felt farther up the pecking order.  Maintaining the status quo allayed their fears, that they too could be enslaved by the rich and powerful.   Additionally, there was a trepidation that several million newly freed blacks might seek revenge against southern whites, slaveholders and  non-slaveholders alike.   Of course, this didn't happen when emancipation did come.            I found it interesting that politicians and newspaper scribes of the day wrote in elevated language that the largely illiterate southerner rabble could not possibly have understood.   In comparison, today's print journalists write in very basic language and we have limitless "news" sources that further simplify and skew it.  The antebellum southerner trusted the more learned among them to make their choices for them.              In the north, though the rhetoric was "all men are created equal," and sounded good to gain momentum for the abolitionist movement, did they really believe that?  If so, why did it take 100 years for blacks to have an unrestricted right to vote and to fully be integrated in the  public education system?  Many of those who abhorred the idea of slavery did not consider any people of color their equal, and still don't.  A lot of the opposition to slavery was dread that the expansion to the  territories would create more slave states and weaken their clout in Congress.    In addition, the economic impact of losing the agricultural production of the south was worrisome, as I have seen it estimated at up to three-quarters of the entire national export.              Both northerners and southerners believed they had the Bible and the Constitution on their side with regards to the issue of slavery.  The question divided the Christian churches sectionally.    Baptist and Methodist ministers in the south, split from their northern brothers, and changed their doctrine to accommodate the institution of their members and contributors. White southerners, knowing in their heart that subjugation of another human being was evil, insisted that the slaves were no more than property, much like livestock.  This belief allowed them to sleep at night.  They argued for the compatibility of Christianity and slavery,  citing scripture to justify the evil.                  It is my opinion that if the north had a viable and profitable use o[...]

History 361 - Antebellum 1820-1860 Opinion Piece #2 - The Texas Revolution


The Texas Revolution            As I am a veteran of twenty years in the military, I am often drawn to historical accounts of military engagements.  As a result, the Texas Revolution became an obvious choice for my second response essay.              There are several factors that come to mind when examining Texas Revolution combatants and warfare with the eyes of a modern armed forces veteran.  It is hard not to contrast military actions of two centuries ago with those with which I am familiar.               During the fight with Mexico in 1835-36, the majority of the Texas fighting force were not professional soldiers.  It was largely composed of a militia of volunteers, colonists, and farmers.  The actual numbers of the small force varied drastically since members were not conscripted and virtually came and went as they pleased.   Soldiers went on furlough, deserted, changed units, or simply went home, at their own discretion.   In addition, the leaders of the Revolutionary Army were elected by the units and the democratic nature of these components did  not lend itself to organization or discipline.  Failure to obey orders  to the point of actual mutiny ran rampant among its ranks.  A revolving door of commanders did not improve the effectiveness.  Any efforts to organize a professional military organization met with funding inadequacies.                   The only way this small, ragtag group was able to defeat the much more powerful Mexican Army is that the latter was in similar disarray.  Though better equipped and trained, fundamental political differences in Mexico between the Centralists and Federalists continued to take focus away from quelling the Texas revolt.  Allegiances were divided between the  population, military and civilian leadership, and the troops, reducing their capabilities in the north against an inferior force.   Mexico had its own instability of leadership.  The Texas Revolution was the beneficiary of a perfect storm.              Another element that piqued my interest was the brutality with reference to prisoners of war.  It seemed the Texas policy towards them was at the discretion of the local commander.  Some were released, others held captive, and still others executed.   The Mexicans appeared to have had orders from the highest authority to execute detainees.  These directives were not always carried out, but more often than not they were.    I believe this might have been due to the Mexican government treating the Texans more as terrorists than with the deference afforded a respected military force.  The Texans sometimes put to death surrendered Mexican soldiers in retaliation from the murder of their own.              We have a similar modern argument as to whether captured terrorists are to be treated as prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva Convention.  Though we do not execute them, we have tortured and humiliated them, using the distinction between a criminal and a soldier as justification.                     As with most nineteenth century warfare, much of the fighting in the Texas Revolution was boots on the ground, face to face and hand to hand combat.  Today's warfare can be conducted by piloting drones from the safety of a command [...]

History 361 - Antebellum 1820-1860 Opinion Piece #1 - Indian Removal


Indian Removal            I chose Jackson's Indian Removal as the subject of my first Response Essay.  I think that while most Americans are fairly knowledgeable about the evil of slavery, few are cognizant of the near extinction of an entire race of people. The Native American people still suffer from treatment  that began with the landing of the white man in the Caribbeanin 1492.  Most Americans have not even heard of the Indian Removal and few of those that have realize that it was conducted for nearly the entire decade of the 1830s.    It was not just a single march of 80 miles, like the brutal Bataan Death March.   The Trail of Tears, the final portion of the Cherokee removal, was arguably  the most barbaric of the atrocities visited on the tribes in our history.  It crossed nine states and hundreds of miles.  This dark period was certainly not taught in the history classes of my youth.               I am in no way saying that slavery was not an abomination, but I believe that the Native Americans that were uprooted and moved west across the Mississippi River experienced an even  more horrific existence.  Slaves were considered  a valuable commodity so they were housed, fed, and clothed.  They were provided medical  care.  Many slaveholders were cruel, but they valued their slaves as they did their livestock.  Also, many slaves lived on the same land for generations and as a result had some stability in their wretched lives.                These tribes were forcibly removed from their land and everything they knew. Thousands died from disease, starvation, and exposure to the elements. These "savages" were not even valued as highly as slaves.  The government just wanted them to go away and they nearly did.                The United  States has never been the melting pot that it advertises itself as.  Throughout our history, each ethnic group, nationality, and race has been victimized and exploited by the white, primarily British, male, "ruling" class.  While it is mainly people of color that experienced the most prejudicial treatment, "lesser" white people, such as Irish, Polish, and Italian immigrants have been victims.  The Americans, following the British imperialist model, have colonized and exploited many other countries, expanding the reach of political and military power and desire for resources.  But none of this even approaches the evil it has  exercised  on the Native Americans.  Most immigrant groups have eventually been accepted, if not welcomed, and allowed to share in the quality of life afforded an American citizen   The "American Dream" has  been primarily a nightmare to the American Indian.               My mother's grandfather was a full-blooded Native American.  He died long before I was born, and was never talked about.  My mother's grandmother was disgraced by having "been with" an Indian.  I only found out about him by accident.  That is a part of my ancestry that I will never know about.  A philosophy lost to me.                 I lived in Wyoming for six years in the town of Riverton, in the middle of the Wind River Reservation.  I got a firsthand look at the hopelessness of these people.  I even substitute taught in one of the Indian schools.  Abject poverty; alcohol, dru[...]

The Beatles Come To America - "A Really Big Show".


The second of my pieces for my CCU Music course.  Other geezers will get it.             I was 11 years old in February of 1964 when the Beatles were introduced  to me and the rest of America on the Ed Sullivan Show.  I knew they were something special because the girls were screaming so loudly that I could hardly hear their music and my Southern Baptist mother thought they were the devil incarnate.  I had to throw a mini-tantrum for her to allow me to watch.  I had never seen anything like them.  To a blue-jeaned boy with a flat-top haircut these four guys in Edwardian suits and bowl haircuts were as alien as if they had arrived  in a spaceship.  If not for the assassination of President Kennedy a few months earlier, this would have been the most memorable event of my youth.  It turned out to be one of the most significant in my life.             The arrival  of the Beatles gave the nation a much needed diversion  from  the grim  realities of the previous year:  the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination.  It could not have come at a better time and timing is everything.  They made four appearances that month, but none had the impact on the world, or me, that the first one did.  It is estimated that 40% of the population of the United States watched that program.   They performed five songs:  "All My Loving", 'Till There Was You", "She Loves You", "I Saw Her Standing There", and "I Want To Hold Your Hand."  Using my paper route money I purchased Meet The Beatles the very next day from a local drug store.  I was disappointed that only four of the songs I had heard were included, but still excited.  "She Loves You" came in the second of many Beatles albums that I subsequently purchased.                       My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Wakefield, was young and beautiful (to a boy entering puberty) and had already become a Beatles' fan.  She used to post the Billboard Top 10 on our bulletin board and each week at least half of those songs belonged to  the Beatles.  She brought in fan magazines and was my source of all things Beatles for the remainder of that school year.  I remember being amazed that though I could sing along with all the song lyrics I could not understand a word they said during interviews.  It was as if Liverpudlian English was a foreign language.            The Beatles stayed together throughout my Junior and Senior High years until my graduation in 1970.  In just six years they produced more memorable music than any of the flood of British bands that followed in their wake.  Like great composers throughout history, much of Lennon/McCartney music was timeless.  The songs I heard in that first televised performance were nowhere near their best compositions.  They continued to evolve.  Unprecedented success allowed them to continuously experiment and creative genius insured those endeavors were nearly always fresh and interesting.  It seemed to me that every new release ventured into unexplored musical territory, borrowing from many genres of music.  Early in their careers, they covered songs from a variety of artists from R&B to Country.  They were inspired by such artists as Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, Carole King, and Little Richard.  Their initial  influences  of American Folk, Rockabilly, Skiffle, Ragtime, and Motown, eventually expanded to [...]

My Indoctrination To Classical Music or "What's Up Doc?"


In my Music class I was assigned to write two pieces about how music relates to me.  This is the first of the two:            I was exposed to classical music at a very young age  and  did not realize it until many years later.  The soundtracks of nearly all of my childhood cartoons were orchestrations of classic compositions by many of the greatest composers of all time.  This is probably a combination of the ease with which cartoon action can be coupled with classical movements and the fact that much of this music is public domain and no royalties needed to be paid.              Cartoons of that period tend to have a fluidity that lends  itself to the various crescendos and diminuendos that are present in  classical symphonies.   I did not realize it at the time but the background music revealed to me when Bugs Bunny was outsmarting the hunter, Elmer Fudd, was often Beethoven.  Pastoral serenity before the encounter might be" Moonlight Sonata" followed by the inevitable chase  and resulting violence fueled by his "Fifth Symphony".  And when Buggs eventually knocked Elmer unconscious  we would hear the soothing refrain of Brahms' "Lullaby vocalized by Elmer's rhythmic snoring.   I have long since forgotten individual episodes of these programs but the music stayed in my head and eventually I identified it and learned to appreciate and enjoy it for what it is.                  Even one of my favorite childhood  westerns, The Lone Ranger, opened and closed  with Rossini's "William Tell Overture".  Once again, the title and composer realized many years later.  Even though it has been well over 50 years since that program aired, I cannot hear that particular piece without thinking of a hearty "Hi Ho Silver".  Rossini shows up again in a number of cartoons and it was not uncommon for eight year  old boys to be singing "Figaro,  Figaro," though we had no idea that it was from  a famous opera, "Barber of Seville" .                     Of course in the feature animated film, "Fantasia", the music was more important than the animation and I never really appreciated it until I was an adult.  It is probably the all-time classic marriage of cartoon and  classical music artistry.  I still enjoy seeing it today.  Probably even more than I did as a child.                 A cereal commercial from my youth featured Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" complete with canon  fire.  I  had no idea  until much later that this piece  was  written to commemorate Russia's defeat of Napoleon.   It has  become a popular companion  to Independence Day fireworks displays.  I do not remember the name of the cereal but I will never forget the vibrant music.   I was in my twenties when  I first heard Dan Fogelberg's "Same Auld Lang  Syne"  and there it was again, slowed down and subdued, but unmistakably Tchaikovsky.                   Who could have imagined that my introduction to what my mother would call "high brow music" would come from such sources?  I think subsequent generations were robbed of that  enriching experience.  Though classical music still appears in today's culture through comm[...]

Final Draft - Creative Writing Flash Fiction Piece - Norma


Please excuse typos.  I have not finalized the edit yet.                                                                Norma             The curvy, platinum blonde flounced into room 228.  She had forgotten how to walk without swinging her hips provocatively, as if to primal music.  Her essence filled the chamber, but did nothing to brighten it. She immediately drew the dingy drapes, though the universe she wished to escape was also inside this dreary hotel room.  She tossed her purse and a brown paper bag onto the bed.              She stripped off her tawdry clothes, again to the silent beat of the music in her head, until she was down to a lacy bra and sheer,  matching, panties.  Still wearing her 6 inch stiletto heels, she flopped gracelessly onto the bed, and began the familiar, mindless, ritual of rummaging in her fake Prada bag, seeking the soothing, hollow, rattle that had forever transformed her into one of Pavlov's drooling dogs.              As she lined up the pill bottles on the nightstand, like empty red solo cups at a frat house kegger, she was surprised  by how many there were. Some were uppers that brought her down and some were downers that made her fly.  There were anti-depressants that made her so very sad.  Some were for pain, others for sleep, and she thought one was actually for either a sore throat or the clap.   She couldn't remember which was supposed to do what as none really seemed to work anymore, unless she washed them down with a pint of vodka.  Gin would do nicely in the absence of vodka, as would rum.  She called them out by name, like a day one teacher mistaking her way through the roll, as she pulled them one by one from the cavernous bag. There was just enough light coming from the bathroom to read the labels:     "Nembutal, Seconal, Chloral Hydrate, Librium, Valmid, Perco----dan, Parvate, Lomotil, Dexedrine, Redisol, Darvon, Hydrozeta, Sulfa ----thal----lidine, Phenergan," and a couple of bottles with no label at all.  It took two rows, looked like some kind of  prescription Phalanx formation. "Yes I know that word," her voice echoing in the empty cubicle.  Though no one was listening, she needed to say  it aloud.  They all thought she was dumb blonde. To them it was sexier.   She never got that and she loved to celebrate that she was neither.             She could actually feel the oppressive weight of the darkness, but still preferred it to the revealing glare of stage lights.  The unflattering light detailed the toll that chronic insomnia and 15 years of  displaying a narcotically induced smile can take on a body racing willy-nilly towards 40.  She  tossed  a wadded up handful of singles on the  bed.   There  was a time,  she thought grimly, when  these bills would have been in much larger denominations.  Just like with Elvis, the demand was for the young Marilyn.  The fantasy that even the shadows of seedy, dimly lit, rooms could no longer sustain.                 She tho[...]

Creative Writing Flash Fiction Final Draft - Final Approach


Final Approach            Slouched in the bar in Concourse B, in the midst of strangers speaking a Babel of indecipherable languages, my mind drifted back twenty years:"Daddy, there is a monster under my bed.""Let me have a look.  Nope, nothing there.""I'm 'fraid of the dark""Everyone is afraid of the dark.""Even you, daddy?""Even me."            Unsurprisingly, the connecting flight that would eventually take me to Dulles International was delayed, leaving me alone with my misery among throngs of travelers.   Memories, flushed by the three $11.00 bourbons that I had swigged down,  swirled, engulfing me:"You have to step towards the pitcher, son.  If you pull back you take your eye off the ball.""Dad, I'm no good at baseball.  I can't hit."  "Don't give up.  Everything is hard in the beginning.  You are ten, you will get better.""I am afraid of the ball.""Everyone who plays baseball is afraid of the ball.""Even you, dad?""Even me."            Snippets and snapshots of time that passes exponentially faster, accelerating towards the end, like a stable horse heading back to  the  barn.  "Dad, is grandma in heaven?""I don't know, son.  I hope if there is such a place, she would be there.""Am I gonna die?""Not for a long, long time.""I am afraid of dying.""Everyone is afraid of dying.""Even you, dad?""Even me."            The flight was finally called to board by someone much too close to the microphone, reminding me of the baffling bus station destination announcements.  I erratically staggered up the jetway, boarded the flight, not acknowledging the vacant, spurious, smile of the flight attendant. She had  obviously been practicing that simper since she was referred to as a stewardess.  I plopped down in 18F.  I was oblivious to the cacophony of the preflight ritual:  ceremonial storing of items in the overhead bins and the obligatory emergency instructions should our pilot choose an unlikely water landing in the heartlands.  My mind continued to relive our too  few precious moments together."Dad, I just got called up to the majors.""Fantastic!" "There is something I need to tell you." "You got me season tickets?" " I am joining the Marines at the end of the season.""Why?"   "It is something I need to do. Only for a couple of years.  Baseball will still be here when I get back."            I am not sure if the haze that partially obscured the skyline silhouetted against the Rocky Mountains was due to the perpetual Denver smog or Jack Daniels. I dozed off or passed out after the drink cart purposely passed me by, the cheery flight attendant micromanaging my methomania.                Sober now, though a state trooper would not agree, I trudged down an identical jet bridge, skipping baggage claim as I had hand carried the few things I had hurriedly gathered for the trip.   The middle man in a trio of uniformed men was holding a small sign with my surname on it.  Uncomfortable, but sincere, pleasantries  were exchanged and I was led to a spotless and shiny navy blue Crown Victoria with a placard containing  four stars.  It is my experience that a Crown Vic never brings good news.  It was a quiet ride to Arlington, as I was hung-over, and suffering from a time  lag of years, rather than h[...]

Insentient Sentinel - a poem by me


This is the final revision of a poem I wrote from the following prompt in my creative writing course at Coastal Carolina University.  Your comments/criticism are invited:Write a poem, unrhymed, about a real object –one that exists in the physical world. As much as possible, limit yourself to concrete detail, physical description. In fact, try to include a sense (a sensory detail) at least every other line. Tryto make the object seeable, tactile, physical. As seen fit, bring in background to help characterize the object.                            Insentient SentinelThe street light's realm is shrouded in a saffron miasma. A swath of opaque light carved from darkness.A safe harbor from unseen fiendsThat slither in the sinister shadows. Luminosity filtered through the carcassesOf generations of nocturnal fliers,Doomed to photocell hell, Fusedto the frosted glass of a man-made moon. Casting ethereal radiance on illicit transactions.Thrown away women selling their soul.The vacant gawp of crack head zombies Fighting another battle in an undeclared war.The lamppost bejeweled by the psychedelic remnantsOf a duct-taped flyer for a rave years past.Partially obscured by a dog-eared wanted posterFor a lost puppy that no longer answers to Sparky.Unable to either bear warning or witnessThe jaundice-eyed Cyclops's unblinking, sightless, oculus could But afford a sanguine oasis.A young girl bustling home after curfew.Sharing Taylor Swift's heartbreak Through awareness canceling headphones,Oblivious to the footfalls of imminent danger.Snatched from the blacknessBefore she could reach the genial  dartle of her neighborhood night light, onlyA furlong from the sanctuary of home.An amber alert bulletin, hastily affixed. Hanging haphazardly, akimbo, hopeless,Whispering in the gossamer wind.  Covering the futile cold  case of Sparky.[...]

Creative Writing Poetry Assignment - "Grateful Blue Heron"


I haven't written a blog in a long time.  It was a combination of laziness, not writing anything worth sharing, and not being able to access this blog-site.  This a the poem that I wrote for an assignment for Creative Writing class at Coastal Carolina University.  It received mixed reviews.  I had a hard time deciding between the title I used and "My Blue Heron".  Did I pick the right one? This poem was written in response to the following prompt:"Write a poem, 20-30 lines and unrhymed, using one of the following options:Animal – The basic elements of Malamud’s ecocritical aesthetic are: seeinganimals without hurting them; seeing them in their contexts; teaching aboutanimals; advocating respect for them; and finally knowing them, richly but alsoincompletely. With this in mind, as well as the poems discussed in class, write apoem about a specific animal. As much as possible, limit yourself to concretedetail and physical description. Try to include a sensory detail at least every thirdline. As seen fit, bring in background to help characterize the animal."                                     Grateful Blue HeronMy arrival disturbed the tranquility of the pond,shattering the stillness with my human gracelessness. Lesser birds scattered, fleeing for safer waters,but one denizen of the marsh simply changed focus.Across  the mirrored  pool, solo fishing interrupted,the heron turned his cold gold eyes to me.Balanced on stilted legs, the magnificent creature curiously watched me prepare to join the piscary.A blue-gray statue frozen between fish or flight, camouflaged by a bank of marsh elder and spartina.The heron flinched when I broke the glass of the surface,casting my worm-threaded hook halfway towards him.A small hapless bream immediately fell victim to my subterfuge.  The heron  observed, mesmerized by my success. With a few graceful flaps he propelled his hollow-boned body,racing his shadow across the water, legs trailing,to a less than elegant landing on the bank next to me.   He stared me down like a dog for bacon, eternal hunger trumping instinctive wariness.  I threw him the non-keeper that I had just reeled in.He accepted it with silent gratitude and guzzled it down his long thin neck.The heron became a cautious confederate, edging closer, his unblinking eyes never straying.Waiting patiently as only a shorebird can. [...]

Creative Writing Assignment 2 -Narrative Poem


I was assigned the task  to write a narrative poem and by accident wrote a dramatic monologue that my professor actually liked:               Swamp RoseOld Tony Todd wanted to find a woman of quality, who at least didn't have the clapSo he got him one of them mail-order brides.Rose  was  from Ireland as I recollect.I don't remember her last name, Mc somethin'.He had  to go all the way to Wilmington to pick her up from the docks.When she arrived at the logging campshe caused quite a hubbub,we all wanted to get a look at 'er. She weren't near as purty as Old Tony and us had  hopedand she was a bit long at the tooth,but Tony weren't exactly no Gary Cooper,and there ain't much in a loggin' campto compare her to. She was friendly enough, but  I couldn't hardly understand  a thing she said,but I doubt she could understand us  either.She was a big strappin' girlwith curly red hair and green eyes,and took  to  loggin' right away,so I reckon Old Tony was pretty happy.She had only been here about a yearwhen Old Tony up and died, right there in his cabin.You can imagine there was a lot of joking in campabout what actually killed him.She mourned  for a little whileand then went right back  to work.She stayed in their cabin, minded her own business and didn't look to have any intentionof going back to Ireland on no boat.A few guys tried  to court herand had nothin' but bruises to show.One of them Johnson boys,they are always up to no good,tried to break into the cabin and climb in bed  with herShe cut his pecker  clean offwith a buck skinner knife.After more pain than I can imagine, and more blood  than I thought a man held,he finally died, which is just as well, as it ain't much worth livin' without a pecker.Rose disappeared into thin air. We all think the Johnson boys kilt her.It is easy to dump a body in the river.It has been done before.But that is another tale. Lots of people claim to have seen herthrough the many years since,hauntin' the banks of the Waccamaw.I don't know who started calling herSwamp Rose, or when, but it stuck.And  you know what? All them mean oldJohnson boys is dead.  And not fall asleep, peaceful like, deaths.  They was all kilt outright.  Weren't pretty.Sometimes at night there are sounds,I have heard 'em.Sounds that ain't natural.  That don't come from no animal or birdI ever heard of.  Human like:Wails and howls, moans  and screams.The kind that make the hairon  the back  of your neck stand up.  I have no doubt that she is out thereNow my beer is empty and I talk betterwhen  my  tongue is wet.  And I think better when my memory is greased.After all,  some of this tale is 60 years  ago.A feller can fergit.  [...]

Creative Writing assignment 1 - Short Story Fiction


This is the draft of my first fiction piece for my Creative Writing course: I can't remember how or why Jerry and I became such good friends.  It was like he was always there, a part of my life.  Often a sad part.  We met in Mrs. Johnson's 4th grade class.  My family had just relocated to Conway from Charlotte.  My dad was, as Jerry liked to say, "a  hot shot, big city lawyer".  The Davis family had a small truck farm out on Highway 90, just southeast of Conway.  Jerry was the oldest of, I never really figured out how many kids.  His dad was not a hot shot anything, but a very prolific inseminator.  I don't think I ever saw Jerry's mom without a baby in or on her.  Though not prosperous, they were hard  working people, eking out a living on the same piece of land that Davis kinfolk had occupied for generations.  Jerry's  dad  was mean as a snake and didn't care much for "city folk", like me.  Jerry, being the oldest was the focus of much of old Cletus Davis' wrath.  We never talked much about that. Jerry and I could not have been more polar opposites.  Where academics seemed to come easy to me, Jerry struggled through school, but what he lacked in "book learnin'", Jerry more than made up for in life skills.  While I could diagram a sentence or solve an equation for x, Jerry could rebuild a discarded outboard motor or rig a trotline that attracted the biggest catfish in the Waccamaw river.  I never acquired the skills that seemed to be imprinted in his DNA.  But we always had one thing in common;  our love of the river.Jerry was totally at home on the river.  We used to laugh that mosquitoes and noseeums would eat me like a gourmet meal, but not even land on him.  He knew more about snakes, cooters, and alligators than anyone I had ever met.  He had no fear of anything that inhabited the river.  He sometimes used my inherent fear to amuse himself.  But I also was certain that he would offer his life to save mine.   We did not have to talk about that.  Jerry also cherished bourbon, particularly Jack Daniels.  That love affair began sometime early in high school.  I would share a drink with Jerry, but never developed the penchant for it that he did.  That usually resulted in me being the designated driver and though I was nowhere nearly as skilled on the water as Jerry, designated boat captain.  Alcohol became the sad part of Jerry's life.  By the time I graduated from Conway High School and Jerry would have, had he not dropped out after our Sophomore year, it had totally taken him over.   We still enjoyed a great summer on the river before we went our separate ways.  Or rather, I went away.  "Some people are meant to stay put".All of my best memories of Jerry are on the river.  We spent a lot of time fishing, swimming, talking about girls who would have nothing to do with either  of us, and sometimes just floating and enjoying the serenity of a sheltered cove.  One of our favorite places was Pitch Lodge  Lake.  Jerry was particularly  fond of it because it was water that "went nowhere, just like me".  We laughed a  lot, though I could sometimes see pain in his eyes that betrayed  the joyfulness of the moment.    When I departed for Duke in the fall, we had a tearful goodbye.  Though I was only going to be a couple of hundred miles away, I might as well have moved to another planet.  Jerry would have been a[...]

Happy Mother's Day - 2013


I have written several articles  about my dad but have not given my mom equal time.  Today being Mother's Day I decided to share the two anecdotal memories that best describe my mom.  While my dad was a soft-spoken, highly functioning, alcoholic, my mom was exactly the polar opposite.  She was a tea-totaling "Christian" woman inclined to speak her mind at all times.  She was not a racist or bigot by choice, but by situation.  I think this may have been taken on their wedding day, though my dad had been there all my life.My dad definitely had as my mother would have said, "a snoot full."Mom was born in rural north Florida in 1917.  The south was  still reeling from the devastation of the Civil War and she was  not exactly raised in a nurturing and progressive environment.  I don't believe I could find her lineage with a free  weekend of  I have  had websites ask my mother's maiden name as an identity verification and I settled on Sanders. My parents' Marriage License (issued in 1960. I was born in 1952. Yeah  I know what that makes me) shows her father's name as  George  Sanders Sr.  I had never heard that name mentioned and judging by his being a senior,  my mother must have had a brother, who I have never heard of.   I believe that name was made up to fill out the form.  I believe her birth dad was Native American.  My mother was married previously to a man named Cosson and had two daughters, one of which I have never met.  The other I wish I never had.  My mom only attended school through grade nine.  My point in providing this back-story is that mom was pretty much a redneck.  She was a great and loving mother, who could cook her ass off, but a redneck just the same.  I hope that will mitigate the language that I am about to attribute to her.When I was about 12 we were traveling from to Jacksonville, Florida.  It was dark and we had stopped somewhere in southern Georgia for gas.  A car pulled up containing several black men and one of them asked my dad how to get to Brunswick, Georgia.  My dad told him and mom was very agitated.  "There ain't a nigger in the world that doesn't know where Brunswick is."  When we pulled  out of the station, the car pulled out behind us and followed closely behind.  "They are following us," mom whispered as if the  men in the car could hear her.  She never considered  that possibly they were following us because we were headed  on the same road that dad had pointed out to them.  She was convinced they were going to run us off the road and rob us.  This was unlikely too, as their car was much nicer than ours and they probably had  more money on them than we  did.  But mom took an immediate course  of action, as she was prone to do.  She pulled a broken down double barreled shotgun from underneath the seat and, rolling down the window, stuck the barrel menacingly out the window.  At the next crossroad the car pulled over and stopped, probably worried that this crazy, shotgun toting, white woman was going to rob them.  From that day on, my dad and I called her, "Gun Barrel Annie."  I was home on leave, on my way  to the Philippines and we were in K-Mart in Spokane, Washington.  My son, Rick, was a toddler and was decked out in a leisure suit.  A young, well-dressed, black man walked towards us and looking at Rick's outfit, poin[...]

A Scripted Life


I enjoyed the 100 Word Flash Fiction so much I thought I would try it again: Bill was going mad.  He could not get over the feeling that his every moment was scripted.  That he was being controlled like a Frank Oz Muppet.  He tried to explain to his friends and family, but they were as clueless as Ferris  Bueller's parents.  His life was spiraling downward faster than Harvey Keitel's in The Bad Lieutenant.  His  heart was racing.  He was sweating like Ted Striker on final approach.  He felt an excruciating pain in his chest, as he collapsed to the floor.  As his eyes closed he heard Quentin Tarantino's voice from the darkness, "that's a wrap." [...]

100 Word Flash Fiction


I was challenged to compose a fiction story using exactly 100 words. This is what I came up with:

Neal parked just out of view of the security cameras. He waited. He noted the time as she departed the supermarket. He did not need to follow her. He knew exactly where she lived. He was inside not an hour ago. He caressed her personal items and basked in her sweet aroma. He knew she desired him. She smiled and called him sweetie as she handed him his change. He felt the familiar excitement rise as he recalled her touch. He hoped she wasn't like the others. The lying, unfaithful, bitches. You should not lie if you are that fragile.



I usually primarily write humor (or what I perceive as humor). As a father and a grandfather no laughter is in my heart. These words came to me last night. Feel free to share or pass on by.

Satan's in the schoolhouse
The seraphs hear his roar
The sound of evil coming
A sound we've heard before

School was let out early
The devil's taking roll
He's hunting huddled angels
Stalking children's souls

Spitting his fiery venom
One bullet at a time
Random acts of violence
Hateful senseless crime

Christmas in Connecticut
Won't be the same this year
Instead of exchanging presents
We're exchanging tears

Rick Wainright - 12/14/2012

Why I don't hate Justin Bieber


I haven't written anything in a long time.  That is not entirely true.  I haven't written anything I thought was blog-worthy in a long time.  I suppose it is time for me to change that.  I have several reasons which trump my other several reasons for NOT writing.  I noticed that my blog has received nearly 300,000 views.  I know many of those are my own visits to my blog.  Also, page views may be counted by the tracking service like Chicago tracks votes, and  the total may be skewed.  Regardless, even if actual views by different living and breathing people account for even a quarter of the total, I am humbled.Also, I recently received a personal email from a very famous writer (respecting his request for confidentiality I will not name him) essentially expounding on what a disappointment I am to him because he continually stops by to find no new entries.  He called me several names including selfish and said my self-effacing act is getting stale.  He recommends I post everything I write and let my readers decide if it is blog-worthy.  He has faith in me.  I suppose I should find a way to also find worth in my writing.This installment will be about something I have thought about for quite some time, yet have failed to document.   I didn't expect my reentry into writing would be about:Justin BieberI am not sure there has been anyone since Hitler as despised by so many people as Justin Bieber.  I will admit that I don't have a single song of his on my playlist, but I certainly don't hate him.  From what I can  see, he is a very intelligent, talented, attractive (not to me), charitable, and kind individual.  So why such venom directed at him?  There is a plethora (one of my favorite words) of "I hate Justin Bieber" social media sites, each containing hundreds of thousands of members.   I can  only assume that any stage entertainer that can cause so much animosity must be doing something right.  I have tried to figure out who comprises this body of haters.  I have come to the following conclusions:1)  Much less talented musicians and entertainers who are jealous of his meteoric success, when they know realistically that they will continue to deliver pizzas and teach piano to snotty-nosed kids.  The only Usher that will discover them is the one sweeping the theater after a movie.2)  Snotty-nosed  kids who are jealous that all of the tweener girls idolize Bieber and won't give their pimply faces a second look.  3)  Pimply faced kids that voice their hate for Bieber because it is fashionable to do so and to admit that they are closet fans would make them uncool.  Kind of like people my age that claimed to have hated Tony Orlando and Dawn but when no one else was around would sing "Knock Three Times" complete with sound effects.   When anyone else was around they would turn on Zeppelin or Black Sabbath.  4)  People my age that haven't listened to any music released since the 1970's and discount any "modern" music without even giving it a listen.  I think my parents did that with The Beatles.   They just didn't have the Internet to rant on and had to keep it to themselves.5)  Some people may hate him because he is Canadian.  I don't have a single Rush song on my rotation but I don't hate Geddy Lee.  I would just rather listen to[...]

Thank You - Mike Thorneburg


I have not visited my blog in quite some time.   In fact it has been so long that they have changed the format and I forgot how to log into it.  Except for small snippets on Facebook, my creativity repository had run dry.  I have not been inspired by anything worth sharing with my handful of readers.  That changed  today.When I checked my mail this morning, I found along with my daily Geico and heating and airconditioning offers, a greeting card  sized envelope.  I could not imagine what it could  be as my birthday passed two months ago without any such envelopes.  Upon examination, I found that it was from my friend, Mike Thorneburg (a real friend, not Facebook imaginary friend that I will never meet).  After Skooter drug me through the neighborhood ferreting out squirrels and a public works  crew (of  which one member mistakenly thought he could pet Skooter), I sat down on the couch and opened the card.  This is the card I received:   I hope Mike will forgive me for sharing his private message publicly.  Who am I kidding?  My blog is hardly in the public domain.  There is little chance of it going viral or even neighborhoodinal. I can imagine tears  welling up in Mike's eyes as  he thought of his dad  I am very proud that he put  me in the same paragraph as his dad and grateful that I am one of the people that comes to mind with the arrival of Veterans Day .That being said, I have never considered my twenty years of military service as a hardship or a sacrifice.  If it had not been for the military I would have probably never left my little northern Idaho village and would have spent my life taking my turn at town drunk and/or village idiot.  The Air Force allowed me the  chance to see much of the world and get paid for it.  My children benefited from their experiences in foreign lands and different cultures.  When I was in school a field trip meant going to the post office or fire station.  My kids  would  go to London, Berlin, or Paris.The Air Force paid for several useless college degrees and has provided me a pension and health care, so that I will probably never be homeless, not even during another Obama administration. I have now been retired for almost exactly 20 years.  My time in the Air Force was almost exactly one-third  of my life.  I have got to say that it was the best third of my life.  I am not one to sit around and tell stories of my exploits (much of which I can't talk about.  Not because of the secrecy, but I am not sure of the statute of limitations in foreign countries).  Some of the tamer events I have shared on this blog, but for some things it is better to just keep them to myself and smile.  What happens in Taiwan, Thailand, Britain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Korea, the Philippines, and elsewhere stays in Taiwan, Thailand, Britain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Korea, the Philippines and elsewhere.  Oh, the sacrifices I have made.  Sounds like a title of a Dr. Seuss book. I wanted to thank Mike semi-publicly for thinking of me.  I am not a greeting card guy but I can't express how receiving that envelope today brightened an otherwise dismal day.[...]

Mall Massage - Not For Pussies


I haven't written anything for quite a while.  The main reason is that I was not inspired to write.  Today I had an experience worth documenting:Today I  went to the mall for no apparent reason other than the fact I hadn't been there for at least a year and wanted to see if it had gained any character during my absence.    It had not.  But I did explore the entire reservation.  I was not tempted to enter any business establishments, but an attractive young Asian woman lured me to a kiosk where massages were offered at a very reasonable rate.  I was in the military for 20 years and have more than once succumbed to the siren song of a Thairean masseuse, though never in the thoroughfare of a mall.I selected the 30 minute body massage option, which seemed to be the best value.  The young lady arranged my mass on a very comfortable apparatus with my face positioned in the too small oval head-holder.  Then she proceeded to go at me like she was trying to get me to give up troop movements.  Holy crap!  Who would have thought that a 90 pound girl could inflict that much pain without us being in a relationship?  She didn't appear to speak any English, but there may have been a time while I was rendered unconscious that she asked me nonverbally if the pressure was OK.  I wasn't about to let her break me and I don't think she could hear me scream through the suffocating cradle my face was wedged into anyway.  I think my lack of response gave her the green light to step up the torture.  I don't think she was aware of the humanitarian protections of the Geneva Conventions.  Then I remembered that I had signed up for half an hour of this cruciation. To pass the 30 minutes, I began to silently recite an entire episode of Big Bang Theory from rote.  Then I realized that a half-hour episode only includes about 21 minutes of actual dialog.  There were 9 minutes that I had to silently endure without distraction.  Of course, I had no idea how long my periods of pain induced insentience lasted.At one point she had both of her knees in my back and my arms pulled back like a human knee board.   Then she didn't think she was getting enough leverage to adequately turn my internal organs to pulp, so she called over a colleague to assist in repositioning my spleen.  They must have found my kidneys to be particularly problematic areas as they began using them much like a boxer uses a speed bag.  I don't know what internal bleeding feels like but I would definitely not rule that out.There was a "happy ending" though.  That was the point at which the episode of the Big Bang Theory  in my head ended, she revived me, and  I stood up (with assistance of several  other Cambonese employees) and shambled over to the Orange Julius stand.  A search on Web MD gives me confidence that my urine will return to a more normal, less rainbow, color within a few days.   I could find no information as to how long it would be before my spine realigned and I could once again walk upright.  At least as upright as I  normally do.        [...]