Monday, August 31, 2015

Please Don't Ask Me

The common insults
of innocuous interrogatories.
Are the burden of the polite
for the sake of politeness.

Truly polite people remember
things about you, your family,
your life and don’t quiz you
absently about the state of
your dead parents, (still dead)
that person you dated 15 years
ago (Moved on), if
you still live in that place
by the thing, (you don’t.)

The faux polite are a bane on
the genuine polite person.
The faux polite ruin small
talk, ruin morning coffee,
a nice Sunday walk, or
even the surprise twist ending
to a popular film.

We’re raised to be polite at the
sake of honesty and earnestness.
We’re told to be polite so we don’t
hurt someone’s feelings.
I understand. It’s one of the complications
of being a human being.

For the sake of St. Pete, let’s
try to remember that an innocuous
question might be a bigger issue
for the person you’re annoying and
it’s best to stick with a head nod, a
hello, or the simple, “How ya doin’?”,
followed by the ultra-casual lie, “Fine.”

And we can all go on our merry way.
And no one is better or worse off than if
you’d never run into each other at all.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Minute in Love

“Have you ever been in love,” she asked.
“Yes. Twice,” he replied.
“Only twice,” she asked.
“Well, twice and then a million times
every day,” he replied.

“How’s that work,” she asked.
“Well, I was really in love
twice. With the most
wonderful of women.
And I also fall in love with every
lovely woman I see on the train,
or the bus,
or at a stop light,
or tending bar,” he replied.

“Doesn’t that cheapen your love,” she asked.
“No. Not at all. I think it only
makes it stronger and more
available when needed. I know I’m
capable of love and being loved,” he replied.

“What do you do about all your
loves,” she asked.
“Well, two got away and I’ll always
miss them. I know I’ll never have
that sort of love again and it’s tough
and it hurts. But it’ll eventually hurt
less over time and I’ll be okay. But
the others, the train riders and bus
passengers and bar maids, the stop light love
affairs,  the constant falling in love,
I do next to nothing about,” he replied.

“Why don’t you do anything about them,” she asked.
“Because I know it’s just a fleeting, passing fancy. I know it
isn’t real love. It’s probably just desire that I slap a
fancier label on to make myself feel better,” he replied.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really been in love,” she said.
“That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said.
“Do you love me,” she asked.
“Of course I do,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said.

She rose from her bus seat and moved
to the door. The bus stopped and she
exited to the street. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Conversation To Be Had

When a car careens off the road and crashes into, I don’t know, a nunnery, because the driver was drunk, we do not blame the car manufacturer. We blame the driver for not operating the vehicle in a safe fashion. Unless of course there is technology available that would inhibit a drunk driver from even turning that vehicle on. Oh, wait, they did invent that. They have Car Breathalyzers.  But car manufacturers don’t install it on every car because they still believe in the “Social Contract”.

 The Social Contract means that in a civilized society there is an expectation that companies,  individuals or groups will behave responsibly with goods or services designed and manufactured for the masses.  Manufacturers or the courts don’t install breathalyzers in every single car on the road, but they do when an individual gets into trouble with the law for alcohol related charges. They hook that breathalyzer up right away in order to protect the public from the potential menace this troubled person might have with alcohol and driving. Hopefully this act will keep the drunk off the road and keep people safe.  They also launch huge Public Relations campaigns to raise public awareness about the real dangers of Drunk Driving in an effort to show the public that they do care about the safe use of their product. Even if the cynics say they are only doing it to protect their bottom line, which is likely true but that’s everyone’s rule, a.k.a.  C.Y.A.

If a car is having regular ignition problems and starts or dies suddenly on its own, through some electrical or software problem, and it is causing accidents on the roads or even deaths.  The auto manufacturer will launch a massive recall because it knows that public safety is the cornerstone of their business.  They will find a way to fix the problem and return it to service and maintain that public trust.

An automobile is a tonnage of killing power in the hands of ordinary citizens doing their best to be responsible with their personal killing machine.  The ordinary person wants to operate their vehicle safely so they take Driver’s Education classes, have field training on the use of their vehicle and are then tested by their States to receive permission to operate a vehicle. There are even different levels of classifications for drivers of certain vehicles that require even more classes, licensing or testing.

                If you fail any part of those classes, testing or basic skills, the State doesn’t even allow you to obtain a license.  You are prohibited by law from operating a vehicle and if you are caught without the proper licenses, you can face very stiff charges in the courts and a permanent mark goes on your record. And yet, with all that testing and State licensing, people still drive cars illegally. It’s a relatively small number of people in the grand scheme of things, but they are out there. This small number doesn’t believe in or understand the “Social Contract” to behave responsibly with our gas powered killing machines.

The manufacturer of the cars doesn’t control licensing but they encourage the State governments to have strong automobile related laws on the books to not only protect their own corporate image, but to protect the public; one hand washing the other as it were.  Manufacturers have a duty to the public as part of the Social Contract to make sure the products they make are operated safely and used appropriately. When an individual alters a car for felonious purposes, manufacturers are encouraged to come up with ways to keep criminals from using their products in illegal ways. Car alarms, anti-theft devices, Lo-jack, Remote ignition kills, pass codes, and so on and so on, were all developed because some criminal element was trying to use their product in a way in which it was not intended. The Auto industry, in keeping up with its end of the Social Contract developed ways to keep people and their possessions a little bit safer.

The car makers show some real responsibility for their products and understand that operating a vehicle, in highly congested cities or on winding country roads, can be dangerous and they develop ways to keep their buyers safe. Crash testing, air bags, seat belts, high beam head lights, blind spot warnings, anti-lock brakes, break away glass, all came from the Auto industries concern for their consumers and their reputations. Even if that consumer activism comes from an outside source like Underwriter’s Laboratory or other safety organization, the auto industry must respond to it. 

If an auto manufacturer denies any issue with a vehicle after testing, or independent testing, or are confronted with overwhelming evidence that their product in in breach of the Social Contract, they can be sued and possibly risk losing the public trust and ultimately going out of business. (I know that seems like a far-fetched idea, but it’s possible under the right circumstances.) Public trust is just about everything with a major corporation. If a company doesn’t have the public trust to maintain or ensure the safe use of their product they risk financial ruin.

When Target was hit with that huge cyber hack and tons of personal information about its consumers was stolen, the backlash against Target was momentous.  Target’s honchos and CEO’s realized they had failed the public and would do anything they could to restore their good name. They invested in tighter security and access to records, they invested millions of dollars into restoring the trust they need to survive in the marketplace.  It was simply the right thing to do, for their customers and their own bottom line.

The Chicago Tylenol murders were a series of poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area in 1982. The victims had all taken Tylenol-branded acetaminophen capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide. James William Lewis was convicted of extortion for sending a letter taking credit for the deaths and demanding $1 million to stop them. The incidents led to reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter substances and to federal anti-tampering laws.

So from the acts of a madman, a company fundamentally changed how they packaged medical supplies and how the law should react to such tampering. A company felt the pressure of a very concerned populace and took appropriate action with their product to maintain their Social Contract.

So, I guess my point is, after a long and winding road of case building, why don’t we as the public hold the gun manufacturer’s responsible for the use of their products in the same way we hold other companies responsible for the use of theirs? Do gun manufacturers have such a hold on the hearts of the public that they do not feel the need to uphold their end of the Social Contract by finding safe ways for their products to be on the marketplace? How about bio-metrics on guns so they won’t fire unless the registered and formally licensed owner is in operation of the weapon? How about a fingerprint scan on gun locks? How about smart targeting systems? How about smart bullets? What about the use of more non-lethal ammunition availability?   Why can’t we hold the gun manufacturer responsible the same way the public would hold Ford, or Costco or Apple for a faulty or illegal use of their products?

I’ll tell you why. Because, “In 2005, when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, granting the gun industry immunity in state and federal court from civil liability in most negligence and products liability actions, the National Rifle Assn. called passage "vitally important" and fought hard for it. Although there are exceptions in the law, it has been broadly interpreted to preclude most negligence lawsuits. The result is that — unlike the makers of chain saws, knives, automobiles, drugs, alcohol or even cigarettes — gun manufacturers and sellers have a lesser obligation to act with reasonable care for public safety.” [1]

That’s right, gun manufacturers can operate without having to worry about the Social Contract most other companies have to, and even want to, abide by. So they don’t care how many of their products are used, legally or illegally. They can just keep churning weapons out and hide behind their Congressionally awarded immunity from any repercussions for the use of their products. Gun makers have no motivation to make their products any safer. They face no consequences from the public or the government.   

No wonder it’s madness out there. No wonder no one can stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” All I want is responsible gun ownership and responsible corporations holding up their end of the Social Contract. I don’t want your guns. I want there to be repercussions for the firearms industry and any company that does business with them. Maybe then, we might be able to change the culture of gun violence that plagues us. If there was more public pressure to change the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, we might not have had the tragedy of live TV murder, or school shootings, or theater shootings, or train shootings, or street shootings or the poor guy who probably got shot right while you were reading this.

It’s not about getting bogged down in blame, liberals or conservative, white or black, it’s about the responsibility a company has to its consumers and their part in upholding the Social Contract. That’s where focus should be. That’s where any real change has to take place.

                It's a conversation worth having I think.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coffee, Infatuations, and Nightmares

                “I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately,” said Andy.
                “Really? Why do you think that is,” said Carmen.
                “I don’t know. They’ve just been really weird dreams. Like, aggressive and full of pretty disturbing imagery,” said Andy.

                Carmen put her coffee cup on the wire metal table and brushed her long black hair off her face and up into a casual Sunday style pony-tail.  Andy admired the ease with which she did this. It was something girls just seemed to know how to do without getting their fingers stuck or knotting their hair.

                “Like what kind of disturbing imagery,” asked Carmen.
                “It’s a dream, so it’s sort of hard to describe, but,” Andy paused. He wasn’t sure how much he wanted to tell Carmen about his recent nightmare. It was not very pleasant at all, “I really don’t know where it’s coming from but it’s… bad. I don’t want you to judge me.”
                “Oh I won’t judge you. I already think you’re a lunatic so it shouldn’t be an issue. Really,” assured Carmen as she smiled.

                She had pulled her knee up to her chest and was holding her leg up against her body. It was a just a very casual day for her yet she looked lovely. It made Andy feel a little embarrassed about his own, un-showered, unkempt Sunday look. She had called Andy out of the blue to grab a Sunday coffee with her. It was something Andy certainly never expected. Carmen smiled at him patiently. Andy put down his own coffee cup and took a short deep breath.

                “Last night I dreamed I was beating up a little kid. Like a pre-teen kid. Like, hurting him,” confessed Andy.
                “What? Like how,” asked Carmen.
                Andy looked over the small Sunday morning coffee café crowd. He wanted to make sure no one else was listening to what could, if taken out of context, amount to child abuse. He felt that they were isolated enough that he could continue with his dream confession.

                “I was at some party, some kind of big cook-out and there were all these kids and people all over the house, in the kitchen, in the yard, just people all over. I really didn’t recognize any of them at all. But I was in the kitchen and there were all these kids around and what seemed to start with some joking around, rough housing, turned very serious. I found that I was furious at one kid in particular. He was just a kid, that long bushy hair crowning his head. He was skinny and wearing an orange shirt that seemed to change to black and then back to orange. I suppose that’s not important though,” said Andy.

                The waitress came over to the table of the coffee shop and asked if Andy or Carmen wanted to try one of their fresh Biscotti. She had a small tray of them held out in front of her, almost daring a person to take one off the tray.  Carmen politely declined and encouraged Andy to continue.

                “This is great, go on. It’s just fascinating,” said Carmen.

                Andy smiled and wondered if it was great to tell a pretty girl about his dreams of beating up children. He continued despite his worries.

                “So anyway, this kid, he was just so annoying. He was actually getting in my face. Like being a real rotten, psycho douche-y kid. He was trying to, I don’t know, bully me? The dream sort of changed then where I now somehow had to help this kid out with a project in his bedroom. It was one of those cool kid bedrooms you see in catalogues or movies. Like cool dressers and bunk-beds and a really neat desk area, painted really nice. I think I was trying to fix the kid’s dresser drawer or something and he kept needling me about something. Telling me that I was wrong and that I didn’t know what I was talking about and he was just pushing all my buttons,” said Andy.

                He felt a little uncomfortable now. He felt the intensity of Carmen’s gaze as she listened to his story. He wasn’t sure about this girl. She was so sweet to him and friendly but often times a bit aloof and distant. He wasn’t sure how much of himself he wanted to open up to her, even though deep inside, he knew that he really wanted to be open with her.  He sighed.

                “So this kid, this little rat-faced pain in the ass kid just wouldn’t stop needling me so I grabbed him by the throat and pushed him up against the wall over his bunk-bed, over the top bunk. Like the kid was dangling by my grasp on his little throat. It was just weird, like I could feel the kid’s weight, even though it was just a dream.  And I yelled at this kid. I yelled something about how I was sick of his bullshit and I would kill him if he said another word to me. I let go of the kid and he seemed unharmed, like, unfazed by the throat grabbing incident,” said Andy.
                “Oh my god. That’s so crazy,” said Carmen.
                “Hey, I thought we weren’t judging here,” said Andy.
                “I’m not judging you, I mean, I’m just saying that’s a crazy dream situation,” said Carmen.

                Carmen took a sip from her coffee cup. Her eyes were wide with interest and Andy could see that she wasn’t judging. Although a certain twinkle in her eye did betray some train of thought Andy couldn’t quite figure.

                “Anyway, after I let the kid go I continue fixing whatever I’m supposed to be fixing and I feel this sense of urgency about getting out of this kid’s room. This kid just won’t stop hassling me. He keeps going and it’s just making me more and more angry. I don’t remember what he said to me but I remember finally snapping, full blown crazy I’ll kill you all crazy, and grabbed his hand and bent it back so far that I broke his wrist and hand. I said to him, ‘You don’t know what hard is you little shit! You don’t know what poor is! You have no idea what I’ve been through!’ And I let the kid go. He’s screaming about his broken arm but also out of fear at what I had just done to him. I woke up at that point. Really rather freaked out,” said Andy.

                Carmen sat quietly for a moment. She was absorbing the details that she could.

                “Was the little kid you? Like a younger, inner child version of you,” asked Carmen.
                “No. At least I don’t think so. He didn’t look like me. He was like a Hipster’s kid. All cool substance but soulless. If that’s an image you can understand,” said Andy.
                “I get it. I do. That’s certainly a disturbing dream.  Do you know what it means,” she asked.

                Andy looked out at the traffic on the street and could only remember waking up feeling angry. He remembered feeling stressed and disconnected.

                “I don’t know really. It’s probably just stress,” said Andy dismissively.
                “Sounds more like real rage, or frustration to me. Rather than just plain old stress,” said Carmen.

                Andy shrugged a little and played with the paper napkin on the table.

                “I guess I could really use a good night’s sleep, unterrified by my own nightmares,” said Andy.
                “Yes. I would love a good night’s sleep for once. I’m like always so stressed out these days,” said Carmen.

                Carmen took a final swig from her cup of coffee and pushed it to the middle of the little café table.

                “Well, thanks for meeting me for a quick Sunday coffee. I have to get some stuff ready for work and get some shopping done,” she said as she rose from her seat and put her small purse over her shoulder.
                “Oh, so soon,” asked Andy.
                “Yeah. Just got lots of things to do. Ha-ha, talk about stress,” she joked, “But I’ll see you during the week.”
                “Well, alright. I will see you during the week then,” said Andy.

                Carmen awkwardly hugged Andy as he stood from his seat. It was that aloof hug; the dreaded non-committal half-hug. The hug that says, I enjoy you and maybe like you but I don’t know if that’s really what it is so here’s the bare minimum of human contact hug.  She thanked Andy again for being so nice and meeting her and she left the small café.  Andy sat back down and watched Carmen cross the street outside and out of view.  He looked back in toward a new group of Sunday morning coffee drinkers. Now he was one guy, taking up a whole table. He felt awkward about it. He got up and threw the coffee cups in the trash and headed for the door.

                “Damn it,” he said as he crossed the street, “that was the dumbest story to tell her. Idiot,” mumbled Andy to himself.

                He walked back to his apartment, shaming himself for being too open with Carmen. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Wondering Electric Ramblings of the Heart

She’s like a great cup of
coffee. She’s dark and
hot, sweet and bitter,
brewed and stirred up.
She makes me nervous
and jittery, but in the best
way. Awake, alert and ready.

She’s like music, like jazz,
but the good jazz that
people actually know,
that flows and swings, and
not that free form craziness
no one is sure about but try to dig
anyway even though it was just
the trumpeter clearing the
spit valve.  She’s the good
music. The groove. The nod.
The dance.

She has a thunderstorm in
her soul and lightening in
her eyes and I feel the rumbling
every time I’m near her. It makes
me want to take shelter but watch
the storm from my front porch.
It’s dangerous and exciting.

She’s windy but cooling, breezy
but not blustery, cool when too hot,
hot when too cool. At your back,
through your hair, not wanting to
blow you over or knock you about,
but just enough to rattle the sashes
and shutters to let you know she’s there.

She’s the straight from the oven smell,
the newly made, the unspoiled by
that awful cheese someone brought
to the party because they heard in a
fancy magazine to bring smelly cheese
to parties. She’s the comforting warmth
of freshness tinged with familiarity.

She makes me fall, every time, with a
glance, with a smile, with a kind word,
with a laugh, with a frown, with a casual
touch. She makes me sound like a love
sick teenager, which we all are at heart, but try
to deny because we’re grown-ups and
not supposed to act that way now.  

I just don’t know if she knows
how she curls my toes.
She’s makes me a mewling,
terrified wreck of a man, and yet,
I suppose, that’s more than most folks
make me feel about anything.
That’s got to count for something.

She's Electricity, I'm hoping to
get shocked by.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Some of them sound
very angry,
Some sound very

Some sound like a
hic-up attack,
still others sound
like a plane taking off.

Some sound sweet
and round,
and some are terse
and square.

Some are clicks and
others are rhythmic
and musical.

Some are enthusiastic
and high pitched,
others are mellow
and filled with bass.

They all are trying
to say the same thing,
I love you…

Je t’aime, Je t’adore,
Kocham Ciebie,
Te quiero / Te amo,
Ya tebya liubliu,
Ich liebe dich,
Aishiteru or Anata ga daisuki desu,
Wo ai ni,
Ngo oiy ney a,
Ana behibek.

There’s so many
ways to say it,
so many ways to show it,
and always a chance to
do it, no matter the tongue. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Creature Feature

                The Sun set. Darkness fell over the warehouse. A rat scurried across the thick gray ash on the floor.  Professor Talbert turned on his flash light and scanned the blind darkness. The light flickered in the eyes of the wall rats and they darted from view. Professor Talbert moved forward into the expansive warehouse. He stopped at the main entrance and turned back toward his students.
                “I want you all to be very careful in here. There’s a lot of broken glass and sharp objects,” he said, “especially you Donny.”
                Donny was at the back of the four students selected to join Professor Talbert for his research into the paranormal.
                “Jeeze Prof. Take it easy man. I got this,” said Donny.
                “Just be careful. All of you, Jenny, Carol, Huk-Cho. No screwing around either,” said Professor Talbert.

                “Yes sir,” said all three.

                Professor Talbert considered his four volunteers for a moment; one slut, one hot nerd, one Asian kid who clearly skipped a few grades and the school jerk-off. Professor Talbert shook his head and actually hoped the stereotypical psychopath was inside the abandoned warehouse. It would only be fitting that these kids get super-murdered in the most horrific way possible, if not incredibly cliché.

                He started walking into the old auto repair parts ware house and the students were right on his heels. There was an old hand painted sign over the service garage doors, warning people of the dangers of oily rags and open chemical containers. There was also a newer spray-painted picture of a giant penis next to the old sign.

                “Boner alert,” said Donny.
                “Oh my god Donny, don’t be gross,” said Jenny.
                “You know you want it babe,” said Donny.
                “As if,” said Jenny.

                Jenny did want it. She wanted it so bad. She wanted to be liberated sexually and maybe get out of this University town. She could maybe even become a model in London or something and have swinging sex parties all night long with rock stars and drugs and aging hipsters that are trying desperately to still be part of the ‘scene’. She was tired of acting like a prude. She probably would do it with Donny if he wasn’t such an immature lunk head.

                “Shhhh…,” said Carol, “I don’t want you guys screwing this up for me. I need Professor’s Talbert’s recommendation to get into my Master’s program. So quit it!”
                Jenny and Donny sneered at Carol and caught up to Professor Talbert who was struggling with a set of metal doors that led into the warehouse’s factory floor. He had been through those double doors several times but now they seemed to be stuck on something. He hoped part of the old ceiling hadn’t collapsed since the last time he was here. It would be such a costly issue if there were debris in front of the doors on the other side. He hated the idea the equipment he left running over the last two nights might be damaged.

                “Let me Prof.,” said Donny.

                Professor stepped back from the doors and shook his head. Donny was totally going to be the first one murdered.
                “Just takes a little youth and muscle, right Prof.,” Donny winked at Jenny and pushed against the doors. They didn’t budge.

                “Youth and muscle,” scoffed Jenny, “Right. Whatevs.”

                Donny spit into his hands and rubbed them together and threw all his weight against the doors. He shoved and he pushed and he put his shoulder into it but the door would not open. Donny slumped against the door, out of breath.

                “Sorry Prof. These doors must be welded shut,” said Donny.

                Professor Talbert looked at Carol and Huk-Cho. Huk-Cho nodded and stepped up to the doors.

                “Excuse me. My apologies,” said Huk-Cho.

                Donny got up from in front of the doors and stood next to Jenny, blocking Carol’s view, because Donny is an inconsiderate asshole.  Huk-Cho grabbed the handle of the metal doors and gave it a hard pull and the door popped right open.

                “Thanks Huk-Cho, I forgot they pulled open at this entrance,” said Professor Talbert.
                “No problem,” bowed Huk-Cho.

                Professor Talbert stepped through the door followed by Carol who haughtily cut in front of Donny. She was still a virgin so she was quite sure no matter what happened in this warehouse, she’d come out okay because the virgin always survived.  Jenny followed her, followed by Donny who was massaging his shoulder.
                “That wasn’t cool bro,” said Donny.
                “Yes. Yes it was,” said Huk-Cho.

                He followed them into the dark factory area and saw where Professor Talbert had set up an evidence review station with all kinds of TV monitors, motion sensors, laser grids, and thermal cameras.

                “Here we are guys. This is the research station or ‘Base’ as we’ll call it. While we’re moving through the building we’ll be in teams of two at all times. No one goes wandering off by themselves.  We need to do real science here people. This isn’t some TV show ghost chaser thing. This will be tedious. This will likely be boring. This will likely be… Donny are you smoking?”
                “Huh, mmm, yeah. Sorry. Left my dip in the car,” said Donny.    
                “Put that cigarette out. There’s no smoking in here,” said the Professor.
                “Man, sorrrr-ry.”

                Professor Talbert was just shocked that a kid in college would think it was okay to just smoke wherever. It wasn’t the god damn 70’s.
                “Anyway, I will be here at Base reviewing the live... I mean really Donny? Smoking? C’mon. Really,” said the Professor.
                “What? I said I was sorry,” said Donny.
                “Just… grow up. You know, I mean, c’mon man, just… it’s time Don. Just c’mon,” said the Professor.
                “Yeah Don. Smoking is so like 1997,” said Jenny.
                “You’re going to get lung cancer,” said Carol.

                Huk-Cho didn’t say anything.  Donny put his hands in his pockets. He was only doing this stupid thing for the extra science credits he needed to get back on the football cheer squad. He loved being on the cheer squad and he really wanted to get back to it. No one knew he smoked on the cheer squad though. It was just that his parents both smoked so he just sort of always had it around.  Donny coughed a little.

                “Okay, Jenny and Carol. You’ll be team one. DON and Huk-Cho will be team two. Neither team will be active at the same time to avoid any contamination. Jenny and Carol, go to that back wall, switch on the light there and put on the camera harnesses and your hard hats.”
                “Wait, I have to go with her,” said both Jenny and Carol as they pointed at each other in mutual dissatisfaction and disgust.

But they didn’t know that in their short time together they would forge a bond of friendship unmatched by any two other women in history.

“Yes. God, that’s creepy. I don’t want any sexual harassment issues like those kids in Florida had, so same sex teams. Got it,” said the Professor.

Jenny and Carol tsked and they went to where the professor had directed them. Professor Talbert turned to Don and Huk-Cho.

“You two will monitor the TV screens with me while they inspect the first floor. You will note in these log book anything that seems odd or out of place or if it’s very compelling, you’ll show it to me. Got it?”
“Yeah,” said Don.
“Yes Professor,” said Huk-Cho.

The three men moved to the table with the TV monitors as the young ladies strapped on the super science-y gear, most of it the Professor’s own design. He’d fantasized about these girls wearing these harnesses, without anything else, since they signed up for his class. He felt a little stirring in his nether-regions so he sat down behind the main monitoring desk. He knew he shouldn’t feel that way but it was a damn compulsion.  

“Ok professor, I think we’re ready for you,” said Jenny with a giggle.
“Riiight,” said the Professor.

The harnesses were fairly simple straps and laces to hold a shoulder mounded camera and a light. There was also a thin belt for holding EMF detectors and a flash light.
“Why do these harnesses look like Victora’s Secret underwear,” asked Carol.
“Hm? What? No. That’s just the way they came,” said the professor, “Anyway, here’s the route you two will be taking. Up those stairs to the left and then into the machine shop area, from there you will begin your investigation and start moving through the whole machine shop floor. It should take about half an hour or so if you’re doing it right.”
“A half hour,” pouted Jenny as she struggled to find a comfortable space for the harness straps over her ample breasts.
“Yes….  A half hour.”

Carol just sighed and blew a few strands of hair that had gotten loose of her bun off her face. She fixed her glasses on her nose and dreamed of Laser vision corrective surgery.

“Okay girls, let’s get a move on. We’re now recording,” said the Professor.

The professor turned around at his desk now that his growing embarrassment had retreated and looked at the evidence table.
“Don, where’s Huk-Cho,” asked the Professor.

Don looked to his left and right. He shrugged and looked back at the TV screen.

“He was the last one I expected to be slacking off. Damn it! Huk-CHO! Huk-CHO! Where are you,” shouted the professor.

The girls screamed as a giant axe swung down through Professor Talbert’s neck, removing his head from his body and squirting gallons of blood up into the air. Huk-Cho quickly turned the silvery axe over in his hands and swung it again at the screaming girls, loping off their heads before the professor’s headless body hit the ground.  The screaming was ended, only to be followed by the thud of their body’s hitting the hard floor.

“Wicked,” said Don.
“Yes. Yes it is,” said Huk-Cho.

The bloody axe swung through the air one last time and Don/Donny’s days of re-joining the cheer squad were ended.

Huk-Cho laughed. He loved college. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Didja See?

Didja see?
Putin in a Submarine.
Ashley Madison’s laundry.
That new Ranger lady.
Jared’s trouble with the kiddie.

Didja see?
Certain lives matter.
LeBron’s expensive twitter.
Poor Jimmy’s Cancer.

That’s as far as I got
on today’s poem.

I think I was planning on
making a statement about
being overwhelmed with
crazy news.

But I got busy,
because real life,
(that has nothing to do with
sensational news),
got in the way.

So I had to stop
and work, and do
the things that we all
have to do.

So I’m just back at
it now,
and I sort of lost
my thought thread.

I’m sure it was good
and interesting and
maybe even a little
funny. Although I hate
that Jared line. Ew.

But it’s gone.

Didja see where?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Toe Gazing

Remember your toes,
but don’t get lost in them.
They carry you about
but don’t dwell.

Wiggle your toes when
you can, unless you can’t,
then just wiggle them in
your mind.

But don’t get obsessed
with the wiggling.
It’s only wiggling
after all.

Keep your toes clean,
is important an adage
as keeping your nose
clean, they both smell.

Take care of your toes
so they’ll take care of you
when you need them
to. They’re like teeth that way.

Toe wrestle with your lover,
toe wrestle with your kids,
but don’t take it too
personally if they beat you.

Look at your toes,
but don’t stare, otherwise
you’ll forget the road ahead
while thinking about the road

Dip ‘em in water,
dip ‘em in sand,
dip ‘em in dirt,
dip ‘em in living.

But again, don’t get
toe obsessed.

(Unless that’s your thing.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

You're Just Not Responsible Enough, Sorry.

                There’s an old rule I remember from childhood that I think has been sorely forgotten these days. The rule was, “if you can’t be responsible with your toys, then you don’t deserve to have them”, and the parent or other authoritative individual that said it, meant it. They would take whatever toy or game or other item away from you until you could show them that you were able to be responsible. It was also the same rule if one of your friends happened to be irresponsible with your toys. You were either not allowed to be friends with that person anymore and the toy was taken away or the toy in question was just taken away and you were grounded.  Even though you would plead and plead with tears in your eyes that, “it wasn’t my fault! It was Johnny who threw it! Not me!”  Boo-hoo-hoo, go to your room.  

                So I think in light of yet another random shooting in Chicago, this time on a Highway during the early morning commute, you have proven that you’re not responsible enough to have guns and we’re taking them away. That’s it. Zero tolerance because of this final straw, bad apple that ruined it for everyone else. Heck, we can’t go to the movies anymore because some people can’t be trusted with their toys. They aren’t responsible enough to have them and they don’t deserve access to them. Hey, we’re not the bad guys here. You didn’t encourage your buddy, or fellow gun aficionado to be responsible then hey, too bad.  Now, no one can play because you’ve shown that you can’t be trusted with these toys, these weapons.

                I know this seems like a harsh punishment, but you really brought it upon yourselves. We warned and cajoled and pleaded and put up posters of children that were murdered by random gun violence but you didn’t heed those warnings. So we’re left with no other choice. We’re just going to have to take your toys away. You really did it to yourselves. There’s no one else to blame.   

                So now I’m sure that I will be accused of being a gun hating liberal. Well, I don’t hate guns. I’m not a fan of them and I wouldn’t own one. I’m not a hunter nor am I worried about the Queen of England muscling her way into my house in the dead of night to try and reclaim my house in the name of England. I’m not even all that concerned about home defense. I’m just not keen on guns is all. I’d be totally fine with gun owners that were responsible and mature enough to handle weaponry on a regular basis. But I haven’t seen any evidence of that. “From my cold dead hands,” is the musings of a seven year old playing at war. That’s not how a mature adult should respond to someone trying to explain to them that they are not responsible enough to have such a toy.

 Of course, I’d be even less worried about it if we took all the guns away. Again, you weren’t collectively responsible with them so it’s your fault that we are forced to take them away from you. You don’t deserve them and haven’t shown the maturity to handle them appropriately.

What would a good parent do if they caught a child misusing a toy? If a child was bashing another child over the head with it or poking a woman in the ribs with it or throwing it at cars from the overpass? That parent would severely discipline that child and take that toy away. They might never let that child have that toy again and maybe in time, the child would forget all about that toy and go on to become an Astronaut on their way to Mars to make history.

Or do they let that child keep that toy? No, they would certainly take that toy away. So just like a good parent, I’m afraid you have left us no choice. I suggest you take your weapons to your local police department and turn them in and go home, go to your room and think about what you’ve done.  I don’t care if it was Johnny who did it, go to your room.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

By My Stars

                Kyle looked up at the night sky through his new telescope. He was hoping he’d be able to catch some of the meteor shower but he had his doubts. He lived in the city and thanks to the light pollution it was hard to see even a few stars, let alone a whole meteor shower. Kyle looked at his watch and then back through the lens of the telescope. He’d bought the telescope a week ago in anticipation of the celestial show. It was something he’d always wanted but never had the ability to afford. It was one of those nerdy luxuries he just didn’t think he’d ever be able to get. When he saw it on sale and realized he was a damn grown up with money that he could use to buy any damn thing he wanted he decided to take the leap.

                He looked through the eye piece again and could see an airplane gliding across the night sky. It was clear and visibility was very good. No clouds were blocking the stars. There was still some ambient light pollution but Kyle hoped it wouldn’t matter. He just wanted to see a meteor shower. He’d never seen one having grown up in the city. He’d had a few jaunts to the country, a few “camping” trips, but he hadn’t been lucky enough to experience the vastness of the cosmos first hand. It was just one of those things he just always wanted to do.

                Kyle sat back down in his folding chair next to the telescope. He’d set up on the roof of his apartment building, with the landlord’s permission, to view the celestial event. It was a lovely warm night. It wasn’t humid. It was very pleasant. It was a perfect night for sitting outside in a folding chair on a rooftop.  Kyle looked up at the sky overhead and wondered when it would start. He knew there was a general time for the shower to begin, but he wondered when he’d see his first one. He wondered what wish he would make.  

                He felt like part of his motivation for being up on the roof with his new telescope was greater than just wanting to see the shooting stars. He wanted to make a wish; a real, magical, cosmic wish that only a shooting star wish would be capable of granting. Kyle knew it was silly though. He knew that wishing on stars was childish and that there was no conjuring power of shooting stars. They weren’t even really stars, just hunks of rock and ice hurtling through the emptiness of space, skipping through the atmosphere.  But still, there was something powerful in the mythology of shooting star wishing.  

                Kyle opened a can of pop and took a sip. He had thought about taking a few beers up to the roof but then he didn’t want this experience tainted by alcohol. He wanted to remember it and be clear headed. Plus, if he did make his wish, he wanted it to be without ambiguity. He had a feeling that shooting star wishing required some level of clarity. Even though he knew, again, that it was silly to wish on space rocks.  He was too old to believe in such fairy tale nonsense, but something in him, just wouldn’t let him simply not believe.

                It seemed like a last hope. A last chance to finally get what he’d wanted for so long but never seemed able to find. It wasn’t for lack of trying, or capacity or that he was lazy. He just couldn’t seem to get it right. Plus there was the plain wonderfulness of the whole meteor shower experience. It was an experience that could make a man feel down right tiny in a universal sense. He was, after all, completely insignificant in the scope of things. So maybe that’s why he hoped his wish might come true, since in the end, it really wouldn’t have an effect on the spinning of worlds or the heavens. Why not grant it?

                A flicker in the sky caught Kyle’s attention and he leaned in to the eye-piece and tried to focus up at the night sky. He adjusted the nobs and leaned forward in his chair. He blinked several times and opened his eye wide.

                He saw it. The shimmering brilliance of it as it shot through Kyle’s area of focus. It was glorious and Kyle was unable to think. He wasn’t actually sure he saw it or not, it had happened so fast. He then remembered his wish and was about to say it, when a second and then a third star zoomed through his view.

                “Whoa,” said Kyle.

                He leaned in closer and watched as meteor after meteor streaked overhead. It was different than he imagined or had seen in the movies. It was delicate. It was like ballet. It was like seeing the brush strokes of some famous painter as they finished a masterpiece.  He smiled and took his eye from the eye-piece and looked skyward without the aid of the telescope.

                The sky was washed in streaks of glittering silver, rocketing by so quickly that Kyle wasn’t even positive it was happening. It was though. Kyle looked back through the lens and remembered his wish and wondered if it was too late. He couldn’t remember if you could only wish on the first shooting star you saw of if you could just make a wish on any old star as it went by.  Kyle decided it didn’t matter.

                “I wish… I wish she would know that, I’ve always loved her, in the best way I could and not a night goes by that I don’t think about her soft and sweet electric kisses. That when I dream, I dream of her, looking up at me, edged in soft beauty and her playful smile. I hope she knows that,” wished Kyle.

                Kyle kept looking through the telescope lens as space continued its show. An ambulance siren blared in the distance. A car alarm went off. A train’s rumbling echoed off the concrete buildings.