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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Something Different - Kind Of

So this week's writing prompt is a goal/resolution list. I don't intend to re-post that here. A few months back I determined it was time to start being more open. Honestly most of my thoughts recently have been angry. I see people just not getting it. People who don't realize that when they try to fix a problem they focus on the wrong things. People not realizing that you have to think through what you say. People want change, I get that, we all do. However, we forget to look at the point, the basic truth, of what we are screaming about and it robs our message of its power and prestige. Some of these recent thoughts I have actually still held back on.

I am not holding back because they will make me look like an asshole. To some people they would, but those people wouldn't get it anyway. I know I'm not for everyone and I'm done trying to be. I like to think that most people out there will get that ideas need to be free. So I think I'm for most people but if some can't respect that I'm okay with that. I respect them and their right to disagree. The only people that really piss me off are the ones that yell without listening.

So, where is this coming from? I shouldn't read the news, that's where. No tinfoil hats here, I don't go in for conspiracy theories. However, I think it goes without saying that those who have power will do what they need to to keep it. Which is sad, because those with power should serve not expect to be served. I've been thinking a lot about how the two major parties in the US accuse each other of fear mongering and distorting the truth. The sad thing is, it is just what they want us to be afraid of. The Republicans want us to be afraid of external threats and killer diseases. The Democrats want us to be afraid of how society will break down if we aren't all kind to each other. Ignore honesty, we have to be politically correct and not hurt each other's feelings. Of course real concerns like how many people are still out of work never seem to enter into it.

What really started all this was a report about Putin's biggest rival in Russia and how his brother with jailed. It's a pretty damn sad story. I'm not going to say Russia doesn't have problems, and it's a pretty scary place to stand up for your rights from what I've seen. I have no first hand experience though. What struck me as odd was a comment in this report about how the US had strong concerns about what this meant for the future of Russia. The implication being the government was cracking down on the citizens and it was so bad.

My question is this. Why do we get to have an opinion these days? In the "pursuit of safety" we have done the same thing. Maybe it's not on the same level but it's there. I keep seeing these reports about kids getting arrested for things they say on social media, about threats to their schools and friends. I remember a time in my life when to go to jail you had to have two things. First was a crime, second was criminal intent. The idea of arresting someone for thinking about something is a big part of Orwell's 1984 and we are all terrified of this concept and where it leads. We all hated that Russia did these things years ago. Yet these days we are so concerned with being safe that we turn a blind eye to this. We know it leads down a dangerous path but we don't look at the bottom of the slope to where we might end up.

Yes, so far we are not too far down. We still try to do the right thing but the road to hell is, as they say, paved with good intentions. I don't think anyone is looking to the future saying 'Thirty more steps to an oppressive society' but we need to be aware of what we are doing. More importantly we need to remember that we have no right to judge another country until we fix the problems in our own. We need to wake up, be aware, and just realize that we are on the edge of a cliff. Are choices are simple, accept we prefer the illusion of safety to freedom and step off, figure out how to walk that fine balance and stop judging others doing the same, or as a whole decide to step back and realize that freedom is worth the risk. Mostly though we need to spend less time on judging and more time on getting right with ourselves. Life is hard enough. How about we stop making it harder for people who are none of our concern and start making it easier for our neighbors? Because most people are hurting right now and could use a helping hand.

Okay, I probably seem crazy to some people, but I'm okay with that. Just remember at the end of the day there are only two places freedom actually counts. The freedom to think what you want, and the freedom to say what you want. We each have a responsibility to each other. To defend those rights for others even, and especially, when we disagree with what they think or say. It is easy to defend someone when you are on their side. However, when you say the opposition shouldn't have the same rights as your friends you become a closed minded oppressor. Nobody wants to be a part of the problem but it is easy to become that without trying or even realizing that you are.

Just think it through and realize one thing. It is easy to point a finger and say, that's wrong. It is harder to look inside and see the same problem that needs cleaning up. In everything you do think first, how do I fix the personal problem? Do this in your personal life, your family life, and your community. You will find when you do that others try to follow. That's how you fix the world and those around you, by being an example. Of course Russia doesn't want to be like the US. We can't agree on anything. We arrest people for reasons the rest of the world can't understand. We censor people for having independent thoughts. Then we tell them not to do the same. If we fixed our shit others would follow, but nobody likes being yelled at by a hypocrite.

Okay, this is a long, rambling rant. In the end it comes to this. Protect your freedoms and express yourself. Stand for the freedoms of others even if you disagree with their message. Remember that all freedom beyond thought and speech are just words, and that is what makes them real because they are based in the true great ones. Live a life worthy of being an example and see how it changes the world. Last, but certainly not least, live a life of art and beauty. Create something and support the creations of others. Because art changes the world and makes life worth living. That expression keeps us free.







#commentary #politicalcommentary #socialcommentary #thoughts #writer #writing #rights #freedom #art

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's Christmas Time in America Again


So this one is way outside of my normal comfort zone, but it wanted to be written.


Amidst chill air and deafening silence I roamed my empty house. The tips of my fingers traced worn wooden backs of benches ready to seat my friends and family. In years before they were packed, filling my home with warmth, love, and voices raised in celebration of the season. This year I was alone.
Each of my intended attendees had reasons to explain their absence. Each piercing excuse, being forgotten and abandoned, filled me with sorrow. Was it worth putting myself out there for people who would so quickly abandon love for simple pleasures? To have one turn away in your moment of need is painful. To have all do the same at your moment of joy is excruciating. Why would they do it? There was only one way to know.
Soft snow drifted lazily to concrete as I stepped bare footed onto the street. Roads which once would have been empty on Christmas morning were only moderately quiet. Neon burned the early morning, inviting all to exchange unwanted gifts for mind numbing desires. Restaurants beseeched travelers to step in for an overpriced meal. Gone were the days when the only cuisine to be found on the holiday was of Chinese origin. Gone were the times when the only entertainment available was the moving picture shows. Such was the march of progress.
The chill in my house was nothing compared to the stabbing cold of knife edged wind cutting through my thin clothing. Soon I happened upon a house belonging to one of my family. Seeking comfort and joy I stepped inside.
“I bring the presents I offer every day of every year.”
I spoke but none listened. They looked through me without seeing. Exchanging store bought gifts and plastic smiles they passed the time with empty love and hollow promises to spend more time with each other. All the while they drank to excess to make the excursion tolerable while dreaming of high production video games and internet distractions they were missing out on. How many minutes of this day off were being wasted on family and celebrations nobody believed in anymore?
Try as I might none of them would look at me, none of them saw. Father, why have they forsaken me? I thought as I tired of tarrying where I was unwanted. On my way to the door I realized it was not all of them. The matron of the clan, a woman approaching a century and a small child not yet school aged would look at me and smile. Their eyes said happy birthday and their hearts nearly screamed it. I delayed my exit to kiss them on the forehead and pray the hearts of the others would open. Upon those two I bestowed my gifts; peace, love, and tranquility.
Exiting the home I witnessed others in the same predicament as me. The turbaned inheritor of my legacy walked arm in arm with my desert wandering forefather. With them was the elephant headed one from foreign lands. Like me they were unseen, even this time of year, but they walked with a purpose so I followed.
The air grew warmer as we approached a rundown part of town. I joined my fellows and we looked upon a line of destitute men awaiting a warm meal, hoping there would be enough. Moving amongst the dirty and disheveled were others, not much better off. These shepherds passed out steaming cups of coffee and cocoa. Others imparted blankets they could ill afford to part with to make life a little more bearable. None here were wealthy and yet from their hearts they began to sing the songs of joy that once filled my house.
I remembered why the trials were worth it. We all knew that amongst the forgotten and the cast offs we had family that would never abandon us. They had no internet to get home to, no home to get internet to. Yet they had room in their hearts for us, more importantly for each other.
Looking to my brothers an unspoken truth passed between us. There were so many with so little. There would never be enough thin soup to feed them all. Yet these ones did not give up on hope and love. There was only one thing for it, one gift left to give. I smiled to the others, warm for the first time that day as I spoke.

“I once did this trick with fish and bread. Let us work together and see how it works on soup.”









#shortstory #author #christmas #commentary #mythology #religion #socialcommentary #writer

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's a Snow Globe Live

“Admit it. You were happy none of them were coming.”
“That’s insane. Why would I be happy they declined to celebrate at my place this year?”
“Why don’t you run through the events with me one more time?”

I called the members of my family to invite them over for Christmas. We always celebrate together so it was no small shock when everyone declined. They each had a reason so I figured, next time. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip but Christmas day I got really down in the dumps.
I decided the best way to combat the depression was to spread some holiday cheer. I would be a modern day Saint Nick. I piled everything into the car and with renewed joy and a half plastic smile I set about the errands.
Imagine my shock when I arrived at my mother’s house and saw my entire family inside. A fire crackled merrily in the hearth. Expressions of joy radiated from their faces. What did I do to deserve such treatment?
My mother (emergency nail appointment at the only shop open on Christmas) was locked in a kiss, under the mistletoe, with my father (getting his hemorrhoids checked.) Mom and dad are divorced and their respective spouses were at the kid’s table. My sister (spending the day with her boyfriend’s family) and my brother (couldn’t get the car working and was going to spend all day on that) were sharing a toast in front of the fireplace. Creepy uncle Sven (spending the day in the tank for drunken disorderly) was over in the corner putting on his Santa costume.
When I walked in everyone froze. It was childish but they were giving me the silent treatment. They wanted to pretend I wasn’t even there it seemed. Try as I might to make them nobody would come out of it. That’s when I lost it and started busting up the furniture. I guess the neighbors made the call, and you know the rest.

“So you claim you made these calls on the twentieth?”
“Yes officer.”
“Despite that I have your cell phone and there is only one call on that day. To your psychiatrist.”
“Well that is peculiar.”
“You’re sticking with this story then?”
“What else could have happened?”
“Well, according to the neighbors you have been estranged from your family since you fled the house of your abusive father five years ago. Looking at the evidence, the fingerprints, the stab wounds… I would guess you had some sort of psychotic break. I theorize you murdered the family you hated and posed them into the idyllic Christmas you always wanted. Your mind could not accept their love, even in that situation however, so you forgot everything. That is how I am going to present this to the DA.”

“That’s insane. My family and I love each other. If you just let me talk to my mother we can get this all sorted out!” 






#shortstory #christmas #dark #horror #author #writer

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Redcoat Is Coming

This is dangly leg elf sixteen reporting in. These call names are really stupid. We should go for something with a little dignity. I understand you’re all about bringing people low, but allowing your operatives a sense of pride would do wonders for your organization.
Yes, I’m done bitching but I really don’t like your tone.
Well, the first thing I have noticed after a week here is that the man is very British. I mean he doesn’t eat at home much but when he does there is way too much water in his food. Who cooks the flavor out of everything like that? It is making it very difficult to steal meals out of his trash can. Oh, and how the hell did you know he would buy a limp legged elf like everyone’s grandma has? I mean we are not the kind of thing anyone goes for in this day and age.
Fine… fine! On to the report, there is nothing interesting going on.
Earl, Earl! Watch your mouth buddy. I may just be a novice reporter for your shitty, little tabloid but I know people. My uncle is a garden gnome who kills people who piss him off. I’m just saying, it might be a good idea not to upset me.
Yes. Everything we already knew is true. He really hates us after that article we ran about him. So it’s a good thing he has no idea I’m associated with you. He’s a funny guy but also an intelligent one. It would be best for us and those pulling our strings if he would stick with the funny. Beyond that he really believes in his causes. He wants people to know the truth, as he sees it. He really cares about people and has this strange eastern bent to his philosophy that makes him caring and compassionate. You add in his western style of speaking where he is loud and unapologetic and he becomes a very dangerous man.
Yes, he has been advocating revolution.
No. There is no way that works for us. You see I read his book. He isn’t home very much so I had plenty of time to do that. There is nothing violent involved in what he is calling for. If there were we might be able to send info up to the chain to the alphabet soup guys that are paying us for this info and any resulting story. What he’s calling for is everyone to be good to each other, including the government. Who thinks like that these days?

True, it is an act of sedition but he is too famous for us to do anything about it. I wish I had more real dirt for you. As much as I want to hate him I like him more every time he talks. Take no action until we have more. Right now he would just destroy us by taking to social media. I will report again next week.









#shortstory #politcialcommentary #socialcommentary #UK #writer #author

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Anarchy North Pole

I slumbered mightily the sleep of the just
From pleasant dreams I was suddenly thrust
‘Something’s amiss’ my mind it did natter
Roused from my rest by the sound of blood splatter
With candy cane bat brought quickly to hand
I crept through the dark, wondering ‘What’s wrong in my land?’
Once in the workshop I scanned quickly the shelves
When what should I see, but Donner disemboweling elves
Always had Donner been such a magnificent stallion
I wondered when his accent had become so Italian
My naughty list grew longer, I realized with fear
Then the sound of violently scratching vinyl on phonograph struck my ear
“Look fat man, you can stop with the rhyme. It won’t save your ass this time.”
“Donner! What are you doing? Have I not been good to you?”
“It’s Donnie now, you self aggrandizing prick! Good to me? You’ve barely noticed us since that red nosed bastard showed up. At first we thought, give it time, the boss will love us all again. It’s been near a century and you still treat him better because he brings you more advertising.”
“I have done no such thing! You are punishing the nice children of the world, slaughtering innocent elves, and out of the pen after curfew. I do not even know what to do with you.”
“Look fatso, there are no nice kids left in this day and age. You’re rewarding vice and consumerism. These innocent elves are the managers that run your sweat shop; I haven’t touched the rank and file that you pay three gumdrops a day, well below the minimum. But that’s not the point. We unionized six months ago and you ignored our demands. You probably didn’t know about that since you were ‘too busy’ to read the letter.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying I’m out of here you velvet clad Nancy boy. I took a job with Don Giovanni working in Jersey. He’s a heartless tyrant too, but he don’t pretend otherwise.”
“I can work the sleigh with only eight. You can expect to be on the naughty list for the rest of your life.”
“Now see… that won’t work and let me tell you why. The other originals are gone too; they just don’t have the balls to tell you thanks to that ‘fun car trip’ you took us on. Dasher is representing France in the five k dash come summer Olympics. Dancer’s going back to the pole in club in Tijuana. Prancer accepted a job running a nonprofit fighting for LGBT rights. I told him it was a bit on the nose, but you know that guy. Vixen made a deal and starts succubus training week after Monday. Comet just signed on to play for some pro basketball team. Cupid is going back to work for his old bosses. They have a better package and give him Christmas off so long as he works Valentine’s day. Blitzen, well you know how that kid is. He couldn’t find a job so he shaved his head and is moving to Idaho to live in a bunker with some likeminded individuals he found on the internet.”
“So all of you feel this way? No matter! I will make do with Rudolph alone.”
“Funny you should mention that. We figured you might think that way and didn’t want you to have that option. So we offed the spoiled little shit. It’s funny what exotic meat shops in Texas will pay for reindeer steaks and sausages this time of year.”
“You are heartless and evil. I’m ruined.”

“Well not necessarily.  We figure you can still make it if you teach the missus how to fly and have her pull the sleigh for you. We suggest you put a wide load sign on the back if you go that route. Anyway, it has been imaginary, see you never fat ass.”








#shortstory #comedy #dark #mythology #writer #author #christmas

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Screaming Love and Freedom

So this one is a from a prompt that took my mind to a very strange nightmare place. While not graphic I would call this nice and dark.


Esteemed Fifth Estate:

My first day in the oval office I was most concerned with my son’s trials at school. He was being bullied and I was sure the Secret Service detail now surrounding him would not completely stop it. Brent was a sensitive, intelligent boy. Even the change in location was unlikely to help. Like his father he was a child who would be tormented throughout his education, only finding sweet revenge in monumental success later in life.
More worrisome still were the reports from his psychiatrist. My teenage son was harboring quiet hero worship for those deviant children in the news over the past two decades. The ones with parents who loved the second amendment while hating personal responsibility and gun safety classes.
I had to focus. On the desk was an envelope. On the front, in the hand of my predecessor, it said simply, ‘Good Luck!’ My heart thrummed until I was able to dismiss those in the room with me. The words vanished in a shredding of confining paper to disgorge the contents. The missive inside was cryptic enough to capture my attention. ‘The bottom drawer of your desk contains a secret compartment. Inside you will find further wisdom. May it serve you well.’
After a moment of fumbling with the bottom of the drawer I found the latch. Inside was inspirational advice dating back to the founding of the Union. I will not disclose which president said what, though some are more obvious than others. Combined they inspired me to action. Following are the contents in their entirety.
‘When in the course of executive events we find ourselves hesitating to set foot upon the correct path wisdom is necessary. May these musings of those brave men of servitude who held this office before you be your guide. Add your own thought or do not. Choice is the child of freedom.
‘Heed those closest to you. The foundation of our land is in freedom, not solitude.
‘Division is the most treacherous of enemies. Be wary of it in all things.
‘Strike fear from your heart, hesitation will be the downfall of your legacy.
‘Fight for peace no matter the damage to your image.
‘I have drowned guilt over dead sons in questionable ethics. Find a better way.
‘Those who say violence never solved anything have not studied the origins of this country.’
My son’s words echoed in my mind, “But dad, they’re bullies.” I reflected on the two houses working “with” me; how divided they were. Echoes of the news reports that so fascinated my son became waking nightmares. I could not think of a better way, had my predecessors gone through this?
I added one line to the document before replacing it. ‘This is my manifesto.’ This letter will likely feature prominently in the first, and last report about my presidency. Will my son be proud?
I imagine still images of Capitol Hill and a cultured voice informing the citizens, “President elect kills X before turning the gun on himself.”

Sincerely,

Your Commander In Chief






#shortstory #politicalcommentary #socialcommentary #dark #author #writer