Matters of Little Consequence

I think God created blogging when he had nothing else to talk about.

I had to admit Dan had gone bulls-eye with his little idea. The 800lb Gorilla was chugging along on nicotine, friendly drinks and unsympathetic satire that offered no quarter for sacred cows. The blogosphere had plugged me into a tantric remedy in which I was writing practically every day. Shop hours would vary depending on the day ahead. Sometimes I would go for an early morning run and then post something before heading out. On other days I would regale in the simple comfit fixtures of a laptop and a well armed Martini after hours. It was Zen capture inside the tear drops of a clock whose purpose now seemed to dovetail its method into my madness.

I was enjoying myself immensely, in spite of the detours that would crop up now that our elbow bending riffs were being held in a virtual forum. Like the time Dan called to tell me Google had taken a shit on our Blogger platform and he had moved us over to a place called WordPress. But just like all the other bumps in the road, this one proved to be quite fortuitous. Because whereas our former website behaved like a rural dirt road, the new digs were akin to an eight lane highway.

Everything was coming back peach as summer moved into fall. My kids were feeling good about how life was looking on the other side of the split. My soon to be ex-wife had met a man on a dating site and things were promising. And I had met a nice girl inside the same week, on the same site as the ex-wife and things were promising as well. For a couple months. After which I got back to dating and black book research.

As far as writing was concerned, I had unlocked a parallel of myself to which had always been a mystery before this time. It was a quicksilver reckoning in which my creative bones were shaking loose, as if pole vaulting over thunderheads.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

December 12th, 2006 is when push came to shove. It was some time in the middle of the night when Dan posted what would launch the Gorilla from obscurity into a grass roots movement that would end up getting play in a couple online magazines and local radio shows.

It was later that morning, I was doing a supply run when my phone came to life. It was Dan.

“Dude, you checking this shit out?”

“What shit?”

“The blog!”

“Oh, yeah . . the shot of Britney’s front yard. You know what you sonofabitch, next time give me a heads up when you post some shit like that,”

“Sorry to offend your delicate senses,”

“Dan, my daughter listens to Britney, okay? I don’t need to see her business is all I’m saying. I prefer to keep her in my sexy little Smurf collection where anatomy doesn’t exist. And where did you find that pic?”

“I hit on a website when I was surfing around last night for something to write about. We were one of the first sites to put it up,”

“Wow, I always wanted to run a porn site. I guess the degenerate blue ribbon goes to us, huh?”

“Marc, you see the hits?”

“I don’t look at hits, I look at writing. I’m the insufferable artist and you’re the soulless networking prick, remember?”

“We’re at 2,900 hits so far . . . I think we could hit 10 grand,”

“Jesus Christ, that Federline douchebag was right! She does have a magical vagina!” I exclaimed before I realized I was talking out loud in the middle of Staples.

“This is our hanging curve ball, it’s how we’re gonna get known for all the writing we’ve been doing in the dark,”

“As if Hemingway isn’t dead enough,” I whined.

“We have the eyeballs now is how I look at it. And I’ll tell you what man, we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Dan said before we hung up.

This should have been cause for celebration. But whereas Dan was sewing this latest turn of events into a Matterhorn applique, I was dubious. For fuck’s sake, we’d been writing our asses to the tune of a couple stray comments here and there; so stray were these comments that we should’ve tested them for rabies. It was that kind of virtual desert island shit. And that was fine by me, because the writing was keeping me upright.

If writing truly mattered, how was it that I could write madly for a year and elicit nothing more than a yawn? Meanwhile, Britney simply had to play 21 Jump Street with a mini-skirt to clobber the fuck out of me. I was thinking too hard, and I knew this. Dan was right. Eyeballs were the bottom line to any kind of future for the site, and now we had them. It was time to put on my big boy swimming trunks and pray at the altar of Mary Shelly.

We were looking straight into the eye of a storm, even if we didn’t know it yet.

Matters of Little Consequence

Vegas, May 2005:

In Vegas, everyone enjoys home field advantage, even if they hail from Connecticut. Everything is up for grabs and the rest of it is available for a price. I didn’t bother with the alias you’re supposed to wear once you arrive in Sin City. I went with my real name since the scene of any crime begins with a lie, and so it stood to reason that telling the truth was like hiding in plain sight.

A cross country jet ride is an experiment in the absurdities of time traveling, and no amount of preparation ever seems to emulsify the oil and vinegar composition of jet lag. I dozed in and out as the scenery flickered in piecemeal arrangements; from the dark green steeples of mountain ranges to vast plains which resembled oceans riding along with the top down, and then canyons and then dust, where the terrain can best be described as postcards from Jupiter. It’s a ghostly descent into what feels like the edge of the world, until you spot the flash of apocalyptic neon that lets you know you have arrived at the intersection of Christmas and Hell. Because this is the place Mr. Potter would’ve built if Quentin Tarantino had written It’s a Wonderful Life.

I was one hundred and eighty minutes in the black when my flight touched down at McCarran. I sliced through the slot machine cricket song and shit fashion sense of Sugar Daddies on loan. After checking into my hotel, I grabbed lunch and game planned the next few days: Hoover Dam, Gladys Knight at the Tropicana, the Bellagio Buffet, Gilley’s Honky Tonk, the Guggenheim exhibit of Egyptian antiquities and a dead president parade in honor of Bugsy Siegel. I hate giving my money away to worthwhile pursuits, much less a smarmy looking dealer who’s hopped up on Starbucks and reeks of menthol. But I had given myself a kitschy stipend for the toga party that is new age Rome. No camping out at tables or slots, no getting to know the waitress’s family history. Get in, win or lose twenty bucks and get out. If nothing else, I’d know what it felt like to rob convenience stores for a living.

I tugged on a Marlboro, sipped at my frosty hops and picked on a roast beef sandwich as my mind poured wicked intentions as if sugar on a spinning wheel. Life on the other side of marriage had proven less daunting than I’d feared before my separation. Online dating was a nice supplement to my old school sensibilities, where black books and long time female friends imbued my reconstructive efforts. Vegas would be a celebration of life on the B side, sans the rose garden and white picket fence existence.

A blog isn’t an STD

And in much the same way my eleven years of marriage had flown by as if it had been fitted with rocket boosters, my Vegas jaunt crushed hours into minutes and days into the rear view. Before I could get the cosmic license plate number, I was contemplating my last full day in town. I’d saved Gladys Knight for my going away song, because she was going to make me cry when she lit the fuse on “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and I couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye.

It was the crack of noon when I arrived poolside with a mimosa in tow. The afterglow of a one night stand was laying siege to my senses as I dialed up the mystery girl. I’d invited her to brunch, in spite of the fact it was an outdated gesture inside the age of hit and run.

We connected in Gilley’s the night before, when our eyes kept running into each other as some clueless young pup in a baseball cap fed her drinks. Until then, I was contenting myself just fine with a steady diet of beer whilst enjoying the mud wrestling contests and bikini clad bartenders. And then the baseball cap went to relieve himself and then I swooped in and bought her next round- Absolut and Red Bull- and when our verbs began moving horizontally, we followed.

Wrong number.

The girl wasn’t the least bit interested in getting anything more substantial than the hustle and flow of a Vegas tryst. I respected the hell out of her game, which never would’ve culminated in a score if she hadn’t been packing the Trojans this discount Romeo had somehow left off his checklist. All that and she saved me the brunch tab.

I ordered another mimosa and contemplated whether I wanted to eat something or just nap by the pool when my phone chimed to life. It was Dan, my sometimes pal ever since he married my former jogging partner Emie. Me and Dan were polar opposites who shared an affinity for beer, and that’s really all that matters.

“How’s Vegas?”

“It’s like the garden inside Hunter S. Thompson’s head,” I replied.

“I’m afraid to ask,” Dan laughs.

“Oh yeah, and that jazz about dry heat is bullshit. It’s a fucking industrial microwave is what it is, which is why you have to be soaking in a pool or an adult beverage at all times. And really . . you should be doing both,”

“Hey, I’d like to get together when you’re back in town and toss around some ideas I’ve got about a blog,” Dan said.

“What’s a blog?”

“It’s a website where you write whatever the fuck you feel like writing and people comment on it. You read their shit and comment back, it’s kind of like a community of storytellers,” He explained.

“And you’re asking me what?”

“To write with me,”

“How much is this blog?”

“It’s free,”

“Free is good,”

“I’m surprised you never heard of blogging before,” Dan said.

“Dude, if a woman told me she had a blog, I’d be getting tested. That’s how much I know about a blog,”

“So you interested?” Dan asked.

“I don’t know, you do your research and as long as it keeps coming back free . . then  maybe,” I said reluctantly.

“Did you get married for the hell of it?” Dan laughed.

“Because downsizing the hell out of my shit after one marriage wasn’t enough? Nah  . . you know who gets married for fun? Psychos, that’s who. And there’s the whole I’m still legally married detail to consider. And oh yeah . .  even amicable divorces ask for shit you didn’t know you even fucking had. So umm, no Chachi. But hey! I did bump into Andie MacDowell at Mandalay Bay and I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant now,”

“Dinner when we get back, on me. I want you to be in on this with me,” Dan said.

“You buying dinner means you really want me,” I laughed.

“I’m serious about this. Come on dude, what’s the worst that could happen?” Dan replied.

Famous last words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Zen of Katharine Hepburn, Dragons and Tigers and Canada’s Best

I was watching Bringing Up Baby earlier today and thinking to myself that Katharine Hepburn possessed the rare ability to play opposite any leading man. No matter how aloof (Cary Grant), scene stealing (Jimmy Stewart) intense (Bogart) or intimidating (Spencer Tracy) the personality, Kate made ’em look like pups once the director yelled ‘Action!’ and the match got lit.

For some . . it be that way.

It got me thinking about how damned comfortable some people can be in their own skin, while others spend a lifetime searching for that precious real estate. We’re adaptations whose chapters are constantly being written and re-written. Here on solid ground, we’re graded on the shit. But I like to think the cosmic plan is a tad bit more understanding. As I watched her nail the landing in scene after scene, chasing her pet leopard as well as the man of her dreams, it felt as if Kate and the Universe were on a first name basis. Handling her lines the way Ted Williams used to hug a curve ball. Smiling in a way that made you wish you were the reason for it. As if the secret to life truly was black and white.

Those thoughts of mine begat more thoughts . . .

  • Like, I plum forgot what last season’s Game of Thrones was all about, so it was a good thing I watched the two minute catch-up before tonight’s season premiere.
  • It was an ayt first inning, with plenty of table setting shit happening. And even still, I was literally gawking as I watched the first few minutes with the gang all there. It was like a class re-union, if my class was full of really cool ass kids whose drug of choice was Valyrian steel.
  • The best part is, I didn’t even need my special edition Oreos to enjoy it.

GOT Oreos

  • Just a couple, three fingers of Knob Creek and cold Sams on demand.
  • Oh . . what? Like you don’t treat a season premiere as if it’s a sporting event too? Puhleeze!

Sansa Stark: What do dragons eat anyway? 

Daenerys Targaryen: Whatever they want . . .

  • Yup . . they still got it.
  • Hey, Tiger won a major for the first time since Trump was bossing around interns and not an entire country.
  • I don’t watch much golf, but when my son texted me that Tiger had won the Masters, my official reply was Holy fucking shit!! I missed it??? I mean, I behaved as if I had a set of golf clubs. Imagine that.
  • Oh, and do yourself a favor? Don’t be like me and go chasing Gypsy Blanchard documentaries with Chris Watts documentaries on YouTube. Lest you find yourself watching Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem at one o’clock in the morning whilst taking communion with an Italian sub. I do not recommend it . . .
  • Of course, that YouTube spell also introduced me to Billie Eilish, whose wicked hatchet of a voice sings songs of death. Gloriously.
  • And Pluto TV should be called Satan Woo. Which is my way of saying I likey.
  • Every time I see someone vaping, I feel as if I should tell them to donate their lungs while they still got ’em.
  • So the lesson for all the kids out there is to stay in school, and if you’re gonna smoke . . go with nicotine. At least you know how that’s going to work on your insides.
  • I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know that vines were a big deal until they were no longer a big deal.
  • I had a sausage McGriddle sammy for breakfast last week, and as far as best inventions of all time go . . it’s right up there with the wheel and the light bulb in my book.
  • As you can probably tell, I’m not a tough grader.
  • My new running playlist includes Grandmaster Flash, Salt ‘N Pepa, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, the Sugarhill Gang, N.W.A, Dr. Dre, and MC Lyte. Its like I’m pumping morphine into my dogs whilst French kissing a turbine. Chill fixed, plunge ready . . coo.

And last but most certainly not least, is a shout out to my blog pal Dale Rogerson over at A Dalectable Life. I call her Q, and she calls me all sorts of names. But I leave her to that, because she’s usually spot on in the doing. And while she doesn’t have maple syrup running through her veins- that’s an urban legend- she is still plenty sweet. And totally real.

She happens to think Les Habitants will one day rule the hockey world again (I hope she’s right), and that George Ezra can sing the daylights out of a full moon and that every kitchen has a soul and that the Universe believes in her, most days. Which gives me a leg up on the great big forever, because I believe in her . . like, all the time.

Today marks the birthday of our Queen to the North. Who celebrates her life, one cup of Joe at a time. With a smile that lingers, and a laugh that prospers and a heart that beats to a rhythm that is contagious and true.

Here’s to Canada.

Sorryless Sunday Morning

I am proclaiming this Sunday to be the intermezzo of my Woodstock series of posts. So in lieu of flower power, Imma post the first in a brand new series that will show up on the regular once I’m finished spilling on my three days of peace and music in the Catskills with the lovely Q.

I used to do a “Sunday Morning Coffee Love” post on my old blog. I don’t want to steal that title, so I came up with Sorryless Sunday Morning because it had a Lionel Richie groove to it. I may change up that title in future posts, but the vibe will remain the same.

Sorryless Sunday Morning posts will feature blog shout outs, quick hits on whatever is dancing in ‘me noggin and a music video that brings the requisite chill to my Sunday morning. I hope you enjoy.

  • My son’s first week of teaching is in the books and it frazzled him. He’s in that new teacher zone where he’s gonna have to learn his rhythm. As with anything else an individual does that is worth doing, he’ll figure it out. A shout out to Frank at A Frank Angle for dishing up some pieces he wrote on teaching for me to give to my son. Frank is a scholar and a gentleman, and I’m blessed to call him my blog neighbor.
  • Speaking of blessed, the lovely Q wrote a beautiful piece at A Dalectable Life about love and friendship- and how it endures. Later on, we had a rather involved discussion about writing and published works, to which I’ve been stewing on ever since. I feel sometimes that I am hopeless in my take on the matter, so her nudging means more than she will ever know.
  • As for published authors, John Howell at Fiction Favorites is back in the lineup after his surgery a couple weeks ago. He’s the Mike Trout of the blogosphere in that he comes to play (write) every single day, and he brings it. Whether he’s writing his weekly mystery series, a prompt challenge or his haiku . . he engages you with his wit and his clever wordplay. Blog life is always sweet when he’s in the room.
  • As far as good tunes go, tune into Tara’s sizzle over at Daisy Smiley Face if you’re looking to vibe on some musical goodness. Tara operates on the same wavelength as yours truly as far as her musical tastes go, but every once in a while she’ll introduce a singer or group I’ve not heard of. And it’s always a slam dunk.
  • And to round out my top five blog shout outs for this week, Imma mention a chica who tells terrific tales about tails. Monika at Tails Around the Ranch also speaks gardening and Colorado and hockey, fluently. And she just started up a new online business called Sam’s K9 Kreations, so make sure to check it out!

As for my quick hit thoughts? I gots a few . . . .

  • I’m cutting ties with Walking Dead after this coming season. Like the old Carole King song goes, the feeling has died (for me) and I just can’t hide, and I won’t fake it.
  • Urban Meyer has been exposed for the phony he is, but winning will prove to be the deodorant of his odorous tenure. So here’s hoping he gets a clue before someone else becomes a victim.
  • One of my favorite Clint Eastwood lines, in an endless sea of ’em . . .
  • Jacob DeGrom of the Mets probably ain’t winning the Cy Young, but I happen to think he’s the best pitcher going this season. And if I’m a Mets fan, I’m pissed that ownership is wasting his immense talent.
  • In response to the peeps who call him overpaid, Raiders coach Jon Gruden threw shade at Tom Cruise; basically saying that no one complains about how much Cruise makes in a movie. Well . .having just seen the latest installment of Mission Impossible, I can tell you that Cruise is the only thing that drew me to the franchise. And if I’m laying down money, Imma go with Cruise over Gruden . . every day, and yes, twice on Sunday.
  • Going to see Crazy Rich Asians with the girl. Yes, the rumors are true. I am all about the rom-com.
  • Going to see The Nun when it comes out in a couple weeks. And no, the rumors are not true. I will not be wearing diapers. I also won’t drink any beverages beforehand . . .
  • I don’t think peeps understand that impeachment does not mean the removal of the President.
  • Braciole, like my lechon, is a dish best served in variations. The stand alone opening night dish is pure gumba-licious. The next day sammy is slamming. And every day thereafter . . it’s the dish that keeps on giving.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Sunday. Be sure to tune in next week for my next installment in the Woodstock series. Have a wonderful Sunday, and an even better week.

Peace, love and music

To err is human, to blog is . . even more human

I was recently asked by a friend what this whole blogging business is about. I replied with something to the effect of it being a place where I can write whatever the hell I feel like writing whenever the hell I feel like writing it.

This dude is way more social media savvy than yours truly, and yet, the blogosphere pretty much escaped him. And he ain’t alone. In spite of the fact that every news agency worth its circulation has its mitts in blogging to some extent, along with most major celebrities and a shit ton of brand businesses, blogs remain a curiosity.

I’ve listed a few reasons for this, completely unsubstantiated and totally unverifiable. Which makes me overqualified for a cable news position.

1. Fucking People- We have something like 7.5 billion people who call planet earth home. Way too many fucking people. Especially when you consider that only a couple hundred million of ’em are blogging. Imagine a banquet facility that can seat 750 people and then imagine a small table in the corner. The blogosphere would be the waiter who serves that table.

2. Content- This blog post is the perfect example of what my friend Bill likes to call “fluff”. In a newspaper article, I wouldn’t be able to say shit like “Fuck Wolf Blitzer’s talking beard,” and “Grade A Kardashian Ass!”. But on my blog, I can say whatever in the blessed fuck I want to say. This freedom is both defining and problematic. As I’ll explain . . .

3. Perspective- This freedom is defining in that blogs are living, breathing platforms for the freedoms we hold truest. But the very thing that makes it great, also mitigates its strength. The vast majority of the world ain’t blogging, and in a great many instances, this is because they’ve got more pressing matters to attend to. Like finding food, water and shelter. Their stories would be fascinating reads if they weren’t so preoccupied with remaining upright to tell ’em. Instead, we get Bill’s search for the perfect Reuben, and Jane’s “fat day”, and “How to order at Applebees”. Don’t get me wrong, there’s great content on here. But the reputation still precedes . .

4. Elliot Gould- Okay, I can’t blame Gould. It was his character (Dr. Ian Sussman) in the crap film Contagion who threw the entire blogosphere under the bus with a single line-  “A blog is not writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation,”. It’s the only memorable line to come out of that flick and it spawned more shade than E.L. James.

5. The Term- What in the blessed fig of Newton’s apple were the creators thinking when they had the gravitas to coin the term “weblog” and then condense it into “blog”? Its economy ain’t a sexy looking thing. There’s zero romance to the word. Which isn’t to say you have to be sexy sounding to be appealing, but still. A ‘blog’ sounds like something you contract when eating shellfish. If I didn’t know anything about it, I wouldn’t want to know anything about it.

Add in the fact that other social media platforms (most notably Facebook) get lumped in with the term ‘blogging’, causing even further confusion. And speaking of confusion . . shit, I’ve had blogs on and off for more than a decade and even get confused as fuck when someone says they wrote a blog. Some peeps use blog as a verb, for whatever the hell reason. As far as I’m concerned, this ain’t helping matters any, if a blogger doesn’t even know how to describe the shit they’re putting out there. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t like “Yo peeps! We wrote a Washington Post about this Dick in the White House!”. Credibility comes with being consistent. Reference the New England Patriots . . Amazon . . a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

All that said, I think I’ll stick it out on WordPress for a while longer. It’s the only social media site I truly believe in, and I still dig the efficacy of having a blog. No deadlines and no rules. Just writing, whatever I wish.

The hell with Dr. Sussman.

 

 

Like Rocks For Chocolate

I ain’t much for popular opinion.

I can’t remember the last time I fully trusted the tally of a widely held opinion. This isn’t a contrarian gallivant, myopic bent or some degenerative condition that rhymes with Larry King. Nah, it’s just the truth in my lovely bones. A truth that cannot shut up, even when it really . . really should.

Every now and then, I say something that perturbs the proclivities of a heretofore popular vote gone final. Like . . for instance, when I suggest that I ain’t down with the idea that Forrest Gump is a great movie.

I discussed this opinion with a friend of mine recently, and the results . . they were predictable. And shit! If it ain’t safer to stand in the middle of Pyongang and call Kim Jong Un a cocksucker than it is to suggest that Forrest Gump isn’t the greatest story ever told. Because her response was uglier than a Charles Manson welcoming committee. More inhospitable than Elton John after a bad spa day. It was meaner than a shit faced Bethany Frankel, a sober Tucker Carlson . . more hell bent than Trump in a KFC drive-thru whilst waiting on a big vote.

So if you have a problem with it, you ain’t telling me anything I ain’t heard already. But please notice I make a point to say Gump ain’t great, I’m not saying it’s not good. Maybe even really good. Not that it matters to Gump Nation.

The IMDB 100 Greatest Movies of All Time lists Forrest Gump at Number 16 . . . of all time. Take it for what it’s worth, considering they put Gladiator at 34- a flick which is basically the cinematic equivalent of a bacon cheeseburger; easy to love, but not to be mistaken with a filet mignon. The American Film Institute is a tad more realistic in their top 100 ranking, listing Gump at 71.

There is alchemy to ranking systems, in that they are able to transform the factual into something much sexier than that. Forrest Gump happened into the right time and the right place. America was in a funky place in 1994, having hired a President it wasn’t fully sold on to make good on a Kennedy myth that we knew was never present. We were struggling through a racial divide that was only getting more complicated with the arrest of O.J. Simpson. Terrorists had bombed the Trade Center the year before and taken down the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City only months earlier.

Forrest Gump was a simple piece of American pie served to the hungry masses. The first weekend’s box office bite quenched a hunger, after which the film’s producers upped the marketing ante and every other fucking commercial and movie ad was Forrest Fucking Gump . . and I know because I was there. Sooooo . . . good became something else entirely, in an Andy Warhol manner of artful speak. You can win a pot with an okay hand but it requires selling the table, and man . . did they sell the table. After which it had everything movie goers pined for. It offered big names, a popular director, simple dialogue, kitschy catchphrases, paint by the numbers history lessons and a killer soundtrack. It was a political movie that wasn’t political, and who doesn’t love that?

My top 5 reasons why Forrest Gump Love bugs the shit out of me? Sure . . .

5- Too Much Information- You know those restaurants where the menu is a novel, featuring everything from chicken pot pie to paella so you always end up ordering an omelette or a burger? Yep, that’s Forrest Gump. It’s too much, without really being enough of anything.

4- People Love The Every Man- In movies. Everybody loves Forrest Gump when he’s a fictional character. But in real life . . ain’t nobody showing a dude with a crew cut and an IQ of 75 much love. Especially not Robin Wright.

3- Peeps Even Get The Lines Wrong– People are always plugging Gump lines into every day conversations, but when pressed for the best of ’em . . they can’t get it right. It ain’t “a box of chocolates” or “stupid is as stupid does” or even “run Forrest run!”. It’s “sometimes, there just aren’t enough rocks”. And it’s not even close!

2- Musical Seduction- The soundtrack seduced those peeps who were on the fence into going along with those peeps who were head over heels for the movie. Because really . . you can close your eyes and just listen.

1- Tom Hanks Did A Job . . But . . Just ThatNever mind that, because back in the day, he was the silver screen’s sultan. There’s a reason why Hollywood has an A-list. Those peeps bat four in the lineup and yes . . they are expected to clean up. Hanks did his job . . but that doesn’t mean this was a great job!

It’s funny, because when I had this ‘disagreement’ with my otherwise agreeable pal, she had to pull the Fargo card on me. As in “You love Fargo . . so what do you know?”. And it’s funny because she was trashing my opinion in order to make hers. Which isn’t the same thing . . at all. I mean . . I didn’t trash her sports teams or her choice in a husband (who happens to be a Red Sox fan), and I didn’t even trash her love for the sitcom Roseanne, which is a show whose popularity I will never understand.

Oops.

 

 

Re-purposing the ‘stragglers’ in my draft folder- A Writing Challenge

We all have them. Stragglers. Those loose thoughts we jot down and store in our draft folders for future reference. It could be a word, a line, a paragraph that just hits us in a given moment.

Problem with yours truly, is that I oftentimes forget what in the hell I was thinking in that given moment when I go back later and read it. Sooo . . . Karen Craven had this pretty cool idea about how we, as writers might find some value in the stragglers-her term. And then I came up with a method for my madness, and it goes something like this.

I’ve created a short story using a straggler from my draft folder. And since I forgot what its original intent was, I re-purposed it. And so for this post, my straggler is the will abides to its ransom demands. I hope you enjoy, and thank you Karen for the idea!

Ghost Story

Jasmine Savoy was looking right into the eyes of a real life ghost . . and it was calling to her.

Savoy had become a national phenomenon in quicksilver fashion. But she was still that little girl from Porter Street. Her friends called her Jazz because she always had a song in her voice and a shimmy to her walk. She was born to a drug addicted mother who, she was told, died before she was old enough to walk. Her Aunt Tere stole her away from that death sentence in Fort Wayne Indiana; she moved her to New Orleans where Jazz learned to read and write by memorizing the songs of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday, Sara Vaughn and Nat King Cole. She learned math by helping out her Uncle Desmond at his bakery on Magazine Street. She was reading Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath when her friends were learning Dr. Seuss. Aunt Tere taught her Spanish, French and Italian while showing her how to cook dishes from around the world without need for recipes. Her cousin George taught her how to play poker, and she knew how to spot a sucker when she was still in elementary school.

The French painters who peddled their talents in the French Quarter taught Jazz painting and poetry. The lovely ladies who worked in the brothel on Oliver Street taught her all about fashion and etiquette and the mysteries of the opposite sex. The musicians who played the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street taught her how to play piano, guitar, violin, harmonica, drums and the saxophone. The gift of song . . . well, that was something she brought with her from the cosmos. She was a crazy diamond who spun lyrics borne from the Godless places. Her voice was like a velvet rainstorm, bathing every soul within its reach in the ethereal cradle of Higgs boson. It was a purr delivered from the ancients, a roar proclaimed by kingdoms . . it was moonshine in the blessed middle of the brightest day.

And all that talent, it swirled into a full out bloom whose fingertips painted moments, inspired the hopeless and provided heavenly testimonials to all her many teachers in a life whose schooling was equal parts textbook and street savvy. At the tender age of twenty one, Jasmine Savoy was saying hello to the great big world.

She attended Juilliard School for two years, after which she scored a record deal that put her on the map, officially. Everyone who knew her understood it was only a matter of time for Jazz. Some lights shine on a patch of grass, and then there are the ones that light up a sky. That was Jazz.

Her record deal was only the beginning. Within months she was performing at Radio City Music Hall. She had bookings at the Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, The Kennedy Center and the Royal Albert Hall in London, among others. She was a natural in her guest appearances on the Jimmy Fallon Show and SNL. So much so that she was rumored to be close to signing on to appear in a romantic comedy starring Bradley Cooper. Jasmine Savoy no longer pondered the future, she was the future.

And then the shadows spoke. And the one shadow, it came thanklessly and specifically and dead center with Jasmine Savoy now. This shadow became less blurry with each relentless step, until finally . . it became known. In a much too late kind of way, because the clock was busy striking midnight before Jazz realized what was happening.

Jasmine had been receiving hand written letters for months, from a woman who insisted she was her mother and that Tere had stolen her away and had been feeding her lies all along. These correspondences were dismissed outright by Jazz, who never even bothered her Aunt with the details because it was all just too ridiculous.

Until now.

Now, she was learning, how the will abides to its ransom demands. She was learning it firsthand. Jazz watched the world go small, slow and black and white. Small to the touchstone of Hemingway’s writ. Slow to the pace of a Peter Paul Rubens brushstroke. Black and white to a world that was losing its color inside the horrible moment.

The shadow was standing in front of her when a revolver appeared.

‘Quaint shit’ Jazz thought to herself. Funny, the things that flood your brain at the end. Funny like sunflowers in winter. Funny like knowing what comes next before the lights go out.

This shadow had broken free of the paparazzi and all her many adoring fans and was standing right in front of Jasmine Savoy as she was being interviewed outside Rockefeller Center for a morning show segment. And that’s when Jasmine knew. Everything.

That face, it was her face . . twenty years older but her face in every single way. And now that gun . . quaint shit as it was, showing up and doing its business for all the world to see. Delivering Jasmine Savoy back to the cosmos from whence she had been delivered. Savaging a lazy Wednesday morning into a mercurial tale of heartbreak and loss. Winning the angels another round.

Jasmine Savoy was buried on her twenty second birthday. Musical dignitaries from around the world came. The Governor of Louisiana too. A billion fans from around the world mourned for a talent whose legs were full of marathons, but whose victories would never come.

Gloria Savoy was charged with first degree murder. The breaking news pursued the entrails of this story like locusts, feasting on every detail. How Gloria had gotten clean after more than a decade of addiction. How she divorced herself from her previous life for another decade, until the need to reconcile with her estranged daughter became too much to bear. They told the story of Tere Savoy, who had rescued her niece from the depths of hell, only to return to that very place twenty years later.

It was a tragic ending to a brilliant ribbon of times and people, places and things. All those many wishes, gone to the ashes. All those many dreams, stolen away.

At the end of the service for Jasmine Savoy, a Monarch butterfly nestled on her casket. Its wings burned bright colors into the gray afternoon sky.

And then it flew away.