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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guns vs. Dogs vs. North Carolina

North Carolina is a funny state... nice place to live, for sure. It's busy, industrious and scenic, with lots of great visits within a 300-mile radius--from Washington, DC to Atlanta... the mountains to the ocean--and people are nice too.

But NC, like others, is completely crazy when it comes to some things. Take the proposed laws now working their way through its legislature:

One proposed law (State vs. dogs) would restrict ownership of six dog breeds that are 'deemed aggressive.' Before anyone can have a pit bull, Rottweiler, mastiff, chow or Presa Canario... don't look at me, I never heard of it either, the owner would have to undergo a criminal background check, apply and pay for a special state permit, notify the property insurer and take a four-hour education course prior to adopting, buying or otherwise taking possession of one of these potential killer dogs.

A second proposed law (NRA vs. common sense) would allow students who can legally have guns (meaning almost everyone and anyone--crazy people need not apply) to bring their guns to school. Of course, they would have to lock them in the car where they would be perfectly safe when class is in session. (Note, no self-respecting crook would ever think of looking in a car that might have a gun in it... oops, have I let the cat out of the bag?)

The possible upside--in the sad event of a school situation, everyone could have a gun to shoot at everyone else with a gun. Remember when there were airline hijackings? One comedic proposal was to supply everyone a gun along with a boarding pass... what hijacker would be crazy enough to go against those odds?

 Kinda reminds me of the old Johnny Cash song, Don't take your guns to town--lyrics repeated here because they are fun to sing to:

A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm
A boy filled with wonderlust who really meant no harm
He changed his clothes and shined his boots
And combed his dark hair down
And his mother cried as he walked out

[Chorus]
Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

He laughed and kissed his mom
And said your Billy Joe's a man
I can shoot as quick and straight as anybody can
But I wouldn't shoot without a cause
I'd gun nobody down
But she cried again as he rode away

[Chorus]
Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

He sang a song as on he rode
His guns hung at his hips
He rode into a cattle town
A smile upon his lips
He stopped and walked into a bar
And laid his money down
But his mother's words echoed again

[Chorus]
Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

He drank his first strong liquor then to calm his shaking hand
And tried to tell himself he had become a man
A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down
And he heard again his mothers words

[Chorus]
Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

Filled with rage then
Billy Joe reached for his gun to draw
But the stranger drew his gun and fired
Before he even saw
As Billy Joe fell to the floor
The crowd all gathered 'round
And wondered at his final words

[Chorus]
Don't take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don't take your guns to town

Now here is the crazy part: With mandatory background checks for gun purchases rejected flat-out by NC and DC, theoretically anyone can buy a gun (or 30-round clip) at any gun show by proving only two things... that they are breathing and that they have the cash. BUT, that person better not even think about getting a certain kind of dog without a thorough background check, taking a four-hour education course, paying for a special permit and notifying the property insurer because that dog may be dangerous.

Just one more kicker: The given gun logic of the reason mandatory background checks won't work... and impose undue hardship on anyone wanting a gun, is that criminals would never comply... are they dumb or what? If they are criminals, they wouldn't obey the law anyway.

And if that makes sense, then why do we have any laws... since criminals don't pay attention to them anyway?

Meanwhile, pit bull owner, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court... " and this goes double if you fail to pick up the poop.

I guess that blows that bumper sticker opportunity:
People don't bite people...  dogs bite people.

Friday, April 19, 2013

And A Child Shall Lead Them


This is a short (1800 words) story for the second leg of the Midnight Fiction writing competition. The given genre is Sci-Fi. The story must include these elements: Olympics and personal trainer. I am now one of 125. The contest had 650 to start. If this story is in the top five against 25 others in my genre, Sci-Fi, then I will compete against 25 for the title. Fingers crossed! --Dedicated to the victims of craziness at this year's Boston Marathon


 Synopsis:

Before the disappearance of the ozone layer, before the first atomic skirmish and before the Age of Chaos, there was a world we knew. Can the New Humankind find a path back to a civilization when time, genetics and life made sense?  



AND A CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM

“Look Addie!” Liam said turning the poster toward her. “They are actually going to revive the competition. I guess they think it is time. They’re calling it The New Olympics, probably because they want to convey new hope. Listen to this… “

CALL FOR ENTRIES

The World Federation hereby announces
THE NEW OLYMPICS

A grand competition, open to
all with skills and talents
to amaze and offer
a token of togetherness
to the new world order
for all humankind.

This is a
PEACEFUL COMPETITION
to promote a coming together
of all people
as ONE WORLD,
at last, united again.



“Do you think that Jacob could… ”

“STOP LIAM! Don’t you believe that Jacob has suffered far too much already? Genetic mutations have blinded him and he has felt our trauma. He is only six and he has… ”

“But he is special, Addie. We’ve talked about that. He has a remarkable tenderness… and compassion… something these catastrophic days have taken from us. The boy has qualities for good that our new world has rarely seen. He is bright and old enough to share… and we are needing to care.”



The Aussies hosted the last ‘old style’ Olympic games before the world went mad. Things were certainly different then. Swimming and track and field… that’s what they did. Certainly, there would be no swimming now since clean water has become too precious to spoil with thick-skinned, scaly bodies that shade us from the merciless sky. And today’s people were not made to run and jump as in past days. Shorter legs to better steady the body on an unstable soil is the new ‘six-pack.’ This ‘Super Olympics’ will be far, far different. Has the world got talent other than hiding and killing? God only knows.

Centuries ago Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, alit from his ship, the Beagle, onto the Islas Galapagos and formulated the most accepted theory of evolution of that time. His book, The Origin of Species, still stands as the definitive text in understanding the adaptation of man and monkey alike in a changing world.

What Darwin could not fathom at the time, nor could anyone until after the change, was how evolution could proceed at such a break-neck pace. If a Galapagos tortoise could live 170 years, how could one adapt faster than at turtle-pace?

That was before the disappearance of the ozone layer, before the first atomic skirmish and before the Age of Chaos when the world held 9 billion souls. That was before the advent of New Humankind. While even the earth beneath our feet quivered and half of its land mass became uninhabitable, there has been but one constant: Man is resilient.

In the mere 500 years since Darwin’s revelation, man is back and there is a new spring in his step. There have been 30 years of peace and man is giddy. It has been a slow movement to this point but the New World sees it as a time to breathe once again.

Jacob was excited to learn that he would participate in the upcoming New Olympics. Of all within Liam and Addie’s realm, Jacob was the one who most carried in him the hope of a different future. He possessed the innocence and qualities that once filled the civilized world before being buried by fear, loss, hate and revenge. That he was blind was of no consequence. He was simply one of millions who had no sight. He blessedly escaped a deaf birth in an age where many children are born without ears.

Jacob had a tenderness that seemed rarer yet.

“But what will I do?” Jacob asked. “What is my skill?”

“Do not worry, Jacob. Grandmother will teach you. She will show you the path. You will spend the months remaining before the contest with Grandmother,” Liam told him. “She will show you.”

“But Grandmother is very old…”

“She is well over 100 years… perhaps the oldest still on earth… and she is rich in her memories and stories passed down from her grandmother. She knows much of the past… much that has been lost in our struggles.”

“But dad, mom… I want to be with you.”

“It is only until the competition. Then we will all be together again. Grandmother is expecting you. We will take you to her tomorrow.”


“Welcome Jacob. “ Grandmother greeted him with a hug. “I have longed for someone wanting to share my stories. I am very happy you are with me. Now it is late. Get ready for bed and I will be in to say good night.”



“Are you ready, Jacob?”

“Yes, Grandmother. Please come tuck me in.”

With a smile, Grandmother settled into her rocker beside Jacob’s bed. “Jacob,” she said, “I am going to tell you a story my grandmother told me… one she learned from her grandmother who learned it from hers. It is called Sleeping Beauty.”

            Once upon a time…

… A few days later, the castle that only a short time before had lain in silence, now rang with the sound of singing, music and happy laughter at the great party given in honour of the Prince and Princess, who were getting married…

… And they lived happily ever after.

“Oh Grandmother… I really liked that story. Is it true?”

“Well, some say it is true in your heart… and that is the best place.”

The next night, Jacob could hardly wait for his story.

“Now I shall tell you the story of a girl named Cinderella,” Grandmother said.

            “Once upon a time… ”

And for many evenings to come, Grandmother told Jacob about a man named Aesop who lived a very long time ago. “He had wonderful stories and I shall tell you all I remember.”

And so it went… every night at bedtime… and sometimes after lunch… and whenever the time seemed right. Grandmother told Jacob many tales.

She told Jacob about the stories of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis and Maurice Sendak and Hans Christian Andersen and E.B.White… and all the others her mind and her notes kept fresh to pass along. And Jacob ended every story with a plea: “Tell me more Grandmother. Just one more please.”

Finally, it was the last night before the competition and Jacob had become so rich with Grandmother’s stories that he didn’t want to leave.

“Grandmother, please. I am not ready. All this time and I haven’t learned anything for the contest. Grandmother, I am frightened. What will I do? What shall I say?

“Why Jacob,” said Grandmother, stroking his head that last bedtime, “just tell them a story… and if they like that, tell them another.



The big day of the start of the New Olympics was at hand. Mom and dad had dressed Jacob in new clothes and told him how proud they were that he would be performing at the competition.  Frightened but courageous, Jacob gave them each a hug and was escorted down the long hallway to wait his turn.

The arena, which was filled with more than 100,000 people, was decorated in colorful ribbons and an abundance of flowers and banners with slogans of the new togetherness. People of the world were very anxious to watch and participate in something that had meaning other than war… something where all could cheer and yell for the same good reason. It had been so very long…

After what seemed like hours of festivities… bands playing, girls and boys dancing in rhythm and soldiers from all lands leading a large parade to throw their weapons of death into a large fire pit as a token of a new time, the announcer said, “Let the games begin!”

The multitude stood and roared its approval.

The first competitor was a tall, other world man with clawed hands and very short legs. The crowd cheered as he ran around the track as fast as he could. The people were amazed that such a simple skill could be so overwhelming. Next was a group of 100 blind women and men who demonstrated how they could knit and crochet… a forgotten art in these days… and the crowd approved. It had truly been that long.

The third, the fourth and the fifth and onward showed various forgotten skills as tricks with ropes, lifting very heavy objects, dancing on ones toes and the like. How utterly refreshing! The crowd enjoyed the show and all its pomp and ceremony. But the day was long and the applause began to wane.

Finally, the announcer introduced the day’s last competitor most simply… “Ladies and gentlemen, the child Jacob.”

The tiny figure was lead down the long path to the center of the arena. He was dwarfed by its enormity.  Jacob sat quietly in a simple chair, tailored to his size. Some in the crowd yawned as others rose to leave. A blind child offered no promise. A murmur ran through the impatient mass. That was quite enough excitement for the day.

The announcer sternly rebuked them. “STOP! Listen to this last contestant.” And being used to taking orders from others, the crowd stopped and sat.

When all was quiet and dusk was near, a microphone was adjusted to Jacob’s small stature and he began to speak in his soft, child’s voice.

“Once upon a time… ”


Jacob told story after story since no one told him to stop. There was no applause. There was no rise to leave. There was nothing… except listening, which makes no noise at all.

When Jacob was finally done, no one moved. No one spoke. No one applauded. Everyone just sat.

They sat and cried. They sat and hugged. They sat and remembered what their world was like at some time very long ago… a time of reflection… a time of love… a time of anything other than war. A wonderful time. A wonderful time.



Somewhere, at Eden Hospital in a large city, a child was born to a blind mother and a father with scaled skin and short, stocky legs. The child had ears. The child saw. The child’s skin was smooth and soft. The child was free of every genetic symbol of the world of today and reminiscent of what came before. The child carried the promise for all humankind that life is good and love is forever important… and living can begin again.

The child cried and stretched its tiny arms to be wanted.


“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Dr. Seuss

Thursday, April 11, 2013

128 and counting

In my last post, The milk of human kindness,  (scroll down one post and you will see it),  I received 128 comments (honest--count 'em) saying things like "great post... keep up the good work... check out my blog, xxxyyy.com, etc."

ALL of the 128 automatically generated responses had the same reference to a specific web site redirection... something about Viagra, whatever that is. 

It is as if a robot is responding to me with intelligence, guile and wit. Yes, I am offended... unless, of course, it is a very attractive robot who I turn on by my charm and suaveness. Then that, my friends, is a different story.

So maybe, I am a big star of a robot responder Ajax 2398*&% (or whatever). He/she/it/thing must secretly love me. Non human species have always been attracted to me. So, as the National Rifle Assn. says, you will never pry me away from her cold dead hands... or something like that.

So, Ajax 2398*&%,  call me.