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Welcome! Here you will find my fictional, slice-of-life short stories and art. Take a look around. I'm adding new stories and art all the time. Stories are in written and spoken forms. In addition to this website, I have two books available on Amazon. My book of short stories, The Fiction Of Marlon, as well as Miguel and the Devil's Mouth, are available on Amazon. You can reach me here (marlon@tfom.net). Stories one through thirty are here.

Last few updates;

83: Talkes From The Pine - Episode Three 82: Tales From The Pine - Episode Two 81: Tales From The Pine - Episode One 80: Sci Fi 79: May he Fourth Be With You 78: April is Poetry Month 77: Food Court 76: Quail, Banana, Orange 75: Bingo 74: I Saw The Madness 73: Tourettes 22 72: Shanghai 71: Mac and Cheese 70: My Policy 69: Valentine 68: Two Vowels 67: Big Slots 66: My Iron Chef 65: The Beatles 64: What the Rain Taught Me 63: Movie TReviews 62: Way Back Target 61: Trainer 60: Snippet 2 from Miguel and the Devil's Mouth 59: Snippet 1 from Miguel and the Devil's Mouth 58: On The Edge 57: Hug Maga 56: The Big Ape 55: What I've seen 54: Commando Line 53: What's My Number? 52: The Vegas Line 51: Weight For It 50: In The Desert 49: Curves 48: Guardian Angel 47: Otter Butt 46: The Remainders 45: Evil Cornbread 44: Talk To Me 43: Easy Broccoli Stew 42: The E and the D 41: Irish Parenting Advice 40: On Roller Skates 39: Dive Bar 38: Valentine's Day Adoption 37: The Clerk's Story 36: Like An Astronaut 35: Wingland 34: Inventions 33: Bad Poetry Thursday 32: The Wrong Move 31: Hong Kong 30: Gas Station Education 29: Netflix 28: My Phone Policy 27: Train to LA 26: Mr. Barker 25: Friday Shoe Bank, Saturday Staples Sling 24: Hoover Dam 23: The Parenting Opportunity 22: It could have been Xena 21: Crossroads 20: Do two 19: Earthbound No More 18: A Dozen Eggs 17: The Plaque Asserts 16: Maraschino Cherry 15: Louie 14:Kids Dinner 13: It Rained 12: Chimes 11: What I said 10: The Russian Motorcyclist 9: An Almost Brilliant Idea 8: Argentina 7: Biscuits 6: Doorbell Remote 5: Have You Ever...Moses 4: Jimmy Buffet Saved My Life 3: The Rocky Run 2: Saving The Earth 1: When Donuts Appear

83: Tales From The Pine - Episode Three: The Gray Ghost Dog
I've been going to The Pine for a few years now. It's a fun place, but sometimes there are troublemakers. Also, I've never seen anything, but the place has a reputation of being haunted, so much so that some national TV shows have come by to film stuff. The Pine's owner freely admits things happen he can't explain, even with his 23 cameras around the place. One recent example, caught on one of his cameras, is a lonely shot glass of Gray Goose mysteriously sliding off the bar top and then falling on the floor. It is a bit spooky. Why would anyone order a shot of Gray Goose?

So this afternoon, I'm there, talking with the owner and having a bud light, when I hear someone to my right bark out "Gray Goose". I hadn't seen anyone new walk in and none of the existing patrons had stepped up to order so I was unsure where the request came from. When the bartender started pouring the shot, I knew I hadn't imagined the order. When she finishes pouring it, she motions with a downward nod and she asks "Marlon, can you give this to the little wiener down there?" I hear the owner laugh, but I am confused by her ask until I looked down and see the little ghost dog. Not knowing what else to do, I set the shot on the floor, right in front of the wiener dog. Both the Pine owner and the bartender, along with me, watch as the ghost dog laps up the crappy vodka. As the shot disappears, the dog fades away. By the dog's last lick, the pooch has completely disappeared. I'm stunned by what I've just seen, a ghost dog drinking a shot of vodka, but the owner just scoffs and says "If only I could get the troublemakers to drink that stuff."

82: Tales From The Pine - Episode Two: That Queen Song
I think some people go to Pine to relax and have a drink. Some people go to Pine to talk and have a drink. I'm in the first group, but sometimes I end up next to someone in the second group. That's okay. I can listen for a while. When this lady sat down next to me I did my silent ask "Let her be in group one"...but she wasn't. Half way through her Corona Light I knew more about her than I could possibly remember. She did eventually ask what do I do. I told her, then asked her what she does. She told me she is a traveling phlebotomist. I had no idea what that was so I quickly made something up. I said "Oh, like in that Queen song." She looked confused so I explained. "You know...it goes like this, Phlebotomists girls, you make the rocking world go round." Then I waited for a laugh. All I got was a scowl and "Do you even know what a phlebotomist does?" Again, thinking quickly, I said "Don't you play the little triangle thing in orchestras?" I guess that wasn't right because she looked angry enough to draw blood. I decided to go with my appeasement move. I asked her if I could play something on the jukebox for her. Her expression softened as she thought about it. I wondered if she'd pick that Queen song. She picked a Weezer song and an Offspring song. I went over to the jukebox and punched them in. As "Beverly Hills" starts up, I asked her "Anything else?" She laughs, finally, and says "Okay, play that Queen song."

81: Tales From The Pine - Episode One: Where'd My Songs Go?
I had just put a couple bucks in the jukebox and picked some songs, then sat down to enjoy Suds In A Bucket, Am I The Only One, and Fast As You. Just as Sara gets to singing in her lovely voice, this nice young lady starts talking to me. Earlier in the day she had taken a final exam and was anxious to get the results. She's going to college with the aim of going into the medical field. That's cool. It's a good goal, but Sara's done by now and I really didn't get to hear her sing. Dierks is musically asking if he's the only one who wants to have fun, at least that's what he should be asking, but I can't really tell since the young lady is sharing more about her world. She's interesting, but my songs... When Dwight wraps up my playlist is, coincidentally, when her story ends. Now the only sound at the bar is the bartender asking an arrival "What'll it be, son?" Soon the karaokedude starts setting up. The evening rolls on.

I didn't get to hear my songs, so I have a reason to go back, plus next time I see the young lady there, I'll ask her about her exam results..after my songs have played.

80: Sci Fi
I am a classic sci fi fan. The Thing...so awesome. We fried you, buddy. Now you ain't so scary. War of the Worlds...we won. Enough said. Forbidden Planet...until we brought the party to your house. Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman...if only I'd been there for her. It could of had a happy ending.

I'm checking Amazon Prime for others and I see The Monster That Challenged The World (made in 1957 so it can't be about Putin). The synopsis says "A Navy commander leads a desert search-and-destroy mission (the best kind in sci-fi) for prehistoric....sea snails" I already have questions. First off, what's a Navy commander doing in the desert? Second off, snails? Did we not know of the power of salt in 1957? Come on, prehistoric sea horses would be more interesting. I'm going to do some more perusing because sea snails ...mmmeah

79: May The Fourth Be With You
Today, May 4th, is a good day to show some appreciation for Star Wars and Van Gogh. Both are favorites of mine. I've got me shirt and my garage door to show it.

78: April is Poetry Month
Poetry can be awesome. Even better, today is emu poetry day, so here you go.

There once was a pirate named Bates
Who feed his parrot just dates.
That bird got so huge
When they raided a cruise
Frightened passengers thought it was an emu.

There once was a man from Nantucket
He lived life out of a bucket.
Then he took a cruise
Thinking "What can I lose?"
Only to be attacked by a colorful emu.

Annette was a surfer with a long board
She hung out with an interesting hoard.
The day she got that board so new
She paddled way out into the blue.
On the wave back in, she picked up an emu. Who knew?

77: Food Court
Not all my stories start with "I was in a bar..." Last night I had a dream. I wasn't in a bar. I was in a mall's food court. I was watching a chef make sushi. He was working behind the counter. He had already made some tuna samples and somehow put them inside inflated balloons. They were setting on top of the counter. You would have to pop the ballon to get the sample. I didn't try them. Sushi is so neat and clean. Having to pop a balloon to get to it would make it just the opposite. While I'm at the counter, this guy comes up and starts talking to me. He's telling me obvious things like "Your stock isn't worth anything until you actually sell it." He is slightly annoying, but he means well. Then something happens to him. He's down on the floor and looking pale. I'm not sure how to help him. He holds up what looks like a big bandaid wrapper and manages to say "I need a shot". Just then someone else comes by and takes the wrapper. This person opens the wrapper. Inside is a syringe and a vial. The person quickly fills the syringe from the vial, but before he can administer it to the downed guy, downed guy, through clenched teeth says "It needs to be sterilized." Even though it just came out of a sealed wrapper, he still wants it sterilized. I start asking around for an alcohol wipe. No one, not the chef, not the other people who have gather around, has one. The downed guy is looking worse. His eyes are closed when he says "This is getting serious". I realize that in order to help this guy I'm going to have to find alcohol. The next scene in the dream we are drinking beers at a bar, talking with a couple ladies, and laughing about how he would of died if I hadn't found this bar. Sometimes things work out.

On my run this morning I saw quail, a banana, and some oranges slices so I wrote this poem about them.

A flock of quail,
They ran so well
Till they stepped on a banana.
Down they fell.

They went slipping and sliding,
Careening and colliding
Till they plowed into a stack of orange wedges.
Juicy in their sudden halting.

After just a step or two
Away they flew
Till they shook off the pulp from their flapping wings.
Landing again, running anew.

Oranges, banana, and quail
Made up this short little poetic tale
Till they appear on another morning run.
Next time out, maybe a whale.

75: Bingo
I've lived all my life in California (always as a minority, aka a conservative. lol) so lots of times I've heard people say something like "This is earthquake weather". Usually it's when it's overcast and a little more humid than normal. I doubt there is any science to support the claim, but there's no harm in it either. Using that as role model, I profess that it is bingo weather today. Yes, bingo! I feel like later today, here in this hip town, bingo will breakout. Localized and concentrated within an area that offers outdoor food and beverage service, I believe various forms of bingo (five in a row, diagonal only, no free space, top row, etc) will land here with the required shout of Bingo! It's bingo weather.

74: I Saw The Madness
I don't watch a lot of basketball, but I got my Sunday todo list done after lunch and decided to go watch a college game at the local chilled-pint-glasses place. Shortly after I sat down, a lady sat next to me. That's never a good sign. Lol. She starts asking all kinds of questions about the game. I take some long sips of my beer, thinking i wouldn't have to answer, but it just gave her more time to tell me about herself. Turns out she is a sports psychologist. Aren't we all? Anyway, she orders a salad and tells me what her team, down by 20 without even scoring 20, should do. She may have quoted the Godfather, "Act like a man". By the time her salad arrives, her team has totally wilted and she's not happy. She's taking her frustration out on the lettuce, stabbing it like Norman through the shower curtain. During one of the timeouts she sets her fork down, checks her phone, then asks me "Would you like some of my sweet potato fries? I can't have them because they upset me." Oh, her fries upset her. I thought my most difficult choice was whether to have the Nitro Stout or the Oatmeal Stout. Now I have a real conundrum. I don't want her to get more upset, yet if I reach for her fries at the wrong time I could get forked over. I do what any sane man would do, I go get another beer, Nitro, for the record. Thankfully, when I return she has given up her plate so no life changing decision for me to make. A few minutes later it's clear her team isn't coming back. She gets her bill, pays it, puts the Pez dispenser back in her purse, says good bye and exits. I know it was only one game, but sitting next to that lady...I saw the madness!

73: Tourettes 22
Not all my stories start with "I was in a bar..." but this one does. A few weeks back I was in my local bar. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon. There was the bartender, a couple regulars and a group of four. One of the women from that group would shout out an expletive ladden phrase. Her friends didn't react to her outbursts. Even as they walked out, the woman let fly the phrase another time or two. Unbeknownst to me, at some point the woman's boyfriend told the bartender she had Tourettes. The bartender later told me. Until today that was my only exposure to Tourettes. I was at the gas station, taking out a second mortgage (lol) when three different people holding petroleum hoses, suddenly, uncontrollably, yelled out "F... Joe Biden". OMG. Gas Station Tourettes! It's the 2022 version of Tourettes.

72: Shanghai
Just got a call from Shanghai. Didn't answer it so I got a voice mail. Even though I don't speak chinese, when I listened to the message I was sure it was a courtesy call telling me my car'ss warranty is about to expire.

71: Mac and Cheese
Saturday afternoon and I'm walking around down town, with the plan to say 'Hi' to some friends who have a gallery there. As I'm headed to the gallery two ladies, obviously in conversation, are walking towards me. Just as they go past me I hear Mabel say to Marge "You're not the only one who keeps mac and cheese in her purse." Now that's a quote! It stirred up so many questions in my mind. What kind of mac and cheese? Kraft, Kirkland? Basic or fancy? Was Marge bragging about her mac and cheese? What about utensils? If you are packing mac and cheese, seems you should also carry utensils. If I were more of a mac and cheese fan I'm sure I'd have asked these ladies some questions, but I was more interested in seeing my friends so I carried on my way. Now if Mabel had said to Marge "You're not the only one who carries a pastrami sandwich in her purse" I might not have made it to the gallery.

70: My Policy
My policy when I am walking around town is to wave to any police, fire, or ambulance personnel who I see. I support them. A refinement to that policy is that I say "I love you" to any of the women I see in uniform. They find it entertaining, I'm sure. On today's walk I was waiting at a traffic light when local engine 8192 pulled up. 92 has got it going on. I've seen it before and I guess they've seen me before, too. When the light turns green, I go and so does 92. I wave to them and see "Ginger" (I don't actually know her name..just yet) so I yell I love you to her. She, in her snappy uniform, yells back I'm off .. duty .. at (siren kicks in). Dang it. Looks like I may need to put one of my neighbor's cat in a tree.

69: Valentine
I'm in line early this morning at the grocery store. The clerk tells the story about how a couple years ago she wanted to get a Valentine card for her husband. She had a long work day, but still wanted to get him something. She finds a card that looks nice, glances at the outside and the inside. Looks good, buys it. Gets home and reads it a little closer. Yes, it's a Valentine card, but it's a man-to-man card. Lol. It's late, she is tired, plus the sentiments of the card are mostly applicable. So, rather than going back to the store, she strategically writes in 'wo' in front of the first 'man' and crosses out the non-applicables and gives the card to her husband. She told us shoppers that he liked the card, but was curious about the redacted parts. She told him he didn't need to know. Sometimes being left in the dark can be a good thing.

68: Two Vowels
One of the things I learned in school is that when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking. Think boat, goat, or even tea, as in Long Island ice tea. There's a place I hang out where it seems like sometimes I am the second vowel, at least in the sense that whatever "vowel" is sitting next to me does all the talking. I really don't mind. I can pretend to listen as good as anyone. And sometimes the stories are entertaining. It's a fun place and I have no complaints, but I now realize being the second vowel is a bit like being a silent therapist.

67: Big Slots
Have you ever found yourself standing in front of one of those really big slot machines with a silver dollar in hand and a slight trepidation to use it and as you look up at the oversized cherries and the big sevens in reds, whites and blues, you feel your indecision is making you smaller and smaller until you're the size of Tattoo and when you finally decide to step forward you find the coin slot is so high up that when you reach for it, your arm is stretched upward like Tattoo pointing to the sky, saying "Da plane, da plane" and just as you drop the coin into the slot, some drunk woman dressed like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever leans on the slot's arm and causes the reels to start spinning and while you watch her with an eye of frustration, you watch the spinning reels with an eye of anticipation until you see sevens across the payline and you hear the coins falling into the tray but you also hear the woman sick up as she loses her balance again and she fills the coin tray with her de-buffet heave and her falls continues until she is sprawled on the floor, between you and the big machine and she looks up at you all starry eyed and you look down at her all stunned faced when just then the machine's attendant says "Do not worry, my friend. This happens all the time." and he pulls out a shop vac thingy from a cabinent beside the behemoth and as he starts to suck up the coin tray slop he says "I'll have your winnings to you in no time." as his shop vac begins to separate out the coins from chunk and in 'no time' he hands you a bucket of the shiny silver dollars such that when you try to step towards him your foot bumps into Ms Whitesuit and after you take the bucket and take a step back you hear Ms. Whitesuit, from her ground level perspective, assert "Saaaay, yer kind a tall n sort a handsome, too. Help me up, Handsome." and you think to yourself "Maybe this is Fantasy Island"

66: My Iron Chef

Twenty-plus years ago, when my kids were pre-teen, we greatly enjoyed watching Iron Chef (the original from Japan...go Morimoto). The cooking, the presentations, and the judging all made for a fun and interesting hour. Sometimes they had a crazy main ingredient, like chicken tentacles or octopus feet, but then sometimes they had mundane mains, like artichokes or green beans. Whatever was being prepared, the judges always had interesting and personal comments to make. Here's my Iron Chef entry, with judges comments.
< ... fade in ...>
Me: Judges, may I present to you my pan-fried steak, topped with fork-spooned creamy horseradish, along with lumpy mashed potatoes bombarded with cracked pepper over an indifferent slice of butter, and green beans sauteed with strips of belly meat from an out of shape curly tail.
Judge Ishisarto tastes the tubers then she comments. "These lumpy potatoes...they remind me of my childhood, when my mother would try to hide bits of cauliflower in our mashed potatoes. So disturbing. Often times, when my parents weren't looking, I'd give those disgusting chunks to our dog, Buddy. What you've done here...it's much better. Sorry, mom."
I bow in appreciation.
Judge Fuji tries the green beans then he comments. "When I was in the army we had green beans twelve times a week. For sixteen years I had green beans. On all of my first three honeymoons my new bride and I went to Green Bean Island. Then the fourth time, right after I got out of the army, my newest bride and I honeymooned in Vegas. After six weeks, we are still happily married, but I had no idea how much I missed green beans until tonight."
Again, I bow in appreciation.
Judge Kobi tries the streak (uh oh) and comments. "It is my understanding that in America, when an animal is killed by a vehicle it is called roadkill. And furthermore, I understand sometimes Americans will...what's the word..harvest the dead animal and serve it." Audience gasps. "Here, we take a different approach. We mix the pavement-tenderized meat with some stinky kelp, flatten it paper thin, dry it, and then send it to America as nigiri seaweed. Haha. Americans love it. This beef you have served us, with the white wasabi sauce, is, I must say, a little better than the roadkill seaweed that is so popular in the San Francisco Bay Area."
Such praise from Judge Kobi makes me very happy. I bow twice to him, then to the other judges, too.
< ... fade out ... >
The real show was about the competition, winning and losing, as it should be, but for me tonight it's just the fun of thinking about back then and having a laugh.

65: The Beatles
I've been watching the Beatles documentary on Disney+. It's interesting to watch their creative process and see how songs are developed. If I was in their film and they happened to asked me to write a song for them, here's what I would say.

Well, lads, I went to Switzerland recently and on my walk home I wrote these lyrics for a song called I Need More Cheese. It goes like this.

I saw a flamboyant duck holding a tangerine.
It was riding in a Jeep, stuck in between
A zebra with a eye patch and a rabid hare, punching the gasoline

Without a care. Every single speed bump, they blissfully ignored 
And across the railroad tracks they certainly roared
But at the flashing crosswalk the hare, he floored

The brake so they stopped and watched a double stroller
Roll between the stripes, pushed by a left handed bowler.
The twins, they heard tires squeal, sat up and looked over

At the zebra, the duck, and hare all piled in the halted, exasperated Jeep
Then after a shrug, they grabbed their bottles, fell back and went to sleep
Until the hare, in his mischievous way, bumped the horn and let out a beep

The Swiss are so nice and ready to please
They love to say gesundheit to all who sneeze.
But can you believe, they make a ham sandwich without any cheese?

The startled babies let out big city cries and the angry bowler shook his clenched fist.
All of us eating at the outdoor cafe glared at the hare. We were clearly pissed.
And to make matters worse, I just noticed my Alpine sandwich inadequate, missed

Slices of cheese. Who constructs a sandwich without any cheese
Probably puts on handcuffs right around their own boney knees
And then realizes they don't have a clue where they left the keys.

The Swiss are so nice and ready to please
They love to say gesundheit to all who sneeze.
But can you believe, they make a ham sandwich without any cheese?
And that's it, guys. That's it so far. What do you think?
Paul: It makes me hungry.
John: Yea. It's a bit wordy, but it makes me hungry, too.
George: Should we take lunch?
Ringo: I could go for Fish and Chips...and a pint.
Paul: Yea, I like the sound of that.
George: Ringo, would you like some cheese with your Chips?

64: What the Rain Taught Me
It's been raining here for more than 24 hours. That's good. We need it. But I'm an outside guy. I need to get outside and see the world so when there was a break in the clouds I went for a walk. At that point it was a little more humid than normal, but I was happy to get out anyway. Since it was still cloudy I really wasn't expecting to encounter any other walkers, especially when it started to drizzle later in my walk. I was on my usual trek, which takes me about 25 minutes. I was quickly heading home when I came around this corner and nearly ran into this couple. Surprised as I was, I tried to find something nice to say to them. I asked "Is your little dog naturally that fluffy, or is it the rain and humidity?" They both looked down, where I was just looking. Then the guy looks up and says "Dude, that's just a styrofoam cup!" I put on my glasses and take a closer look. Oh, he's right. And then the woman says "Plus, our dog is home and, anyway, is much fluffier than that thing." Bam! Given her tone, I'm sure she's completely right. They must have a fluffy dog, maybe two, safely back at home, warm and content. So, on this rainy, cloudy day, while on my walk, I learned that some dogs, especially fluffy ones, are way too smart to go walking in the rain or humidity.

63: Movie Reviews
It's been a while since I did a movie review here so how about three...well 2.37, movie reviews? Shadow in the Clouds, on Hulu, is a sci-fi thriller about a woman catching a ride on a WWII airplane. It's her, the all-male crew of the plane, and one or more mysterious riders. The men give her all kinds of sh*t from the time she gets on the plane. She endures all of it, and when she sees some strange things, they just turn up their contempt for her. Ultimately, it's about her being completely committed to her mission and showing strength beyond her physical appearance. Overall, I liked the movie and her character. Ripley, from Aliens, would appreciate the way she takes care of business.

Journey to the West, on Amazon, is a Stephen Chow movie. If you like his Kung Fu Hustle, you will probably like this one. It has lots of outrageous, funny scenes. It's light humor that goes nicely with a glass of chardonnay or a shot of Cuervo. I watched it with subtitles on. I don't know if there is a dubbed version.

I tried to watch Pig, also on Hulu. I don't have any problem with Nicholas Cage, but this movie didn't work for me, even though it has an interesting story line. I found the continuity to be too disjointed to stick with it. I made it about .37 of the way through it and then bailed out. I know people who like the movie. That's fine, but no es bueno para mi.

62: Way Back Target
The Way Back Target Way back, I used to watch pro football. Not only did I watch the games (go Steelers), but I felt a connection with the Ads, too. Promotions of beer, trucks, and pepperoni pizza took up most of the game breaks. I could totally relate to those Ads. I felt I was part of the target audience. I could see myself driving my Silverado through the mud, past the galloping mustangs, into town to the Papa Murphy's for a pie, and picking up some silver bullets on the way home. To me, the games and the Ads fit together. Now I don't watch much football. Instead, I watch #futurama, on Hulu. I greatly enjoy the ridiculous, outrageous humor of the show, but I don't feel the connection to the advertisements. Versace cologne and plant-based "eggs". What the hell? Especially the "eggs" advertisement. In my world, plants don't lay eggs. Plants' only job is to keep the sandwich bread from getting soggy. Maybe I'm out of it. Is the typical modern-day fan of Fry wearing high class men's perfume and diving of a cliff in a speedo? Do Bender aficionados drink their holiday eggnog or sip on their Prairie Oysters beverages made with plant-based eggs? These Ads keep playing, so much so I wonder if I'm not the typical Futurama viewer. I am starting to feel like maybe I should spritz on some Signature, put on a speedo and order a pineapple pizza with an egg on top..not that there's anything wrong with that. Ok, maybe something there is wrong there, but my point is Good News Everyone.

61: Trainer
When I was a kid and when my kids were teens and younger there have been dogs in my life. All of them were good pets. Family pets. But all of them were more undisciplined than ideal. So during the drive home tonight I hear a radio ad for guy who trains dogs. He claims that after one of his sessions an off leash dog will always return to his master. That seems like a pretty big claim, but maybe the trainer knows some good technics. Okay, I'll sort of believe what he says. The ad continues. Next he claims that after a few more of his sessions my dog will no longer have those really annoying habits. I no longer have a dog, but this second claim...I'm really skeptical about. The guy has no idea what my dog's most annoying habit is so to just flat out say he can fix it seems preposterous. Begging, scratching, jumping on the furniture. All my dogs did those to some degree and I'm sure those behaviors could be trained away. But the most annoying habit of all my dogs...well I don't believe that kind of control can be taught to a dog, or even some people. However, if the guy really is good enough to train that kind of control, he should be training humans and cow, along with dogs.

60: Snippet 2 from Miguel and the Devil's Mouth

That gave him the confidence to go talk with the farmer about the truck. 
Miguel picked the Sunday that was his 21st birthday to visit the farmer. 
Not knowing the farmer and not thinking to ask around in town about him, 
Miguel walked to the farmer's place hoping to meet him and ask him about 
the never used blue truck.

After Miguel knocked on the front door frame and before it was answered he
suddenly realized he didn't know what to say or do. In a bit of a panic, he almost
turned around to leave but paused long enough for a woman to open the door. 
In a friendly voice, she says "Yes, young man. May I help you?"
Miguel blurts out "I'd like to buy the truck...the blue one by the barn. It never moves." 
The woman looks confused. She asks "The barn?"
"No, ma'am. The truck. The truck never moves."
"Yes, yes, of course." 
As she pushes open the screen door she continues 
"You better come on in and talk with Pa about it."
When Miguel is inside, she lets go of the screen door and it swings shut. 
In a louder voice, directed towards the back of the house, she says "Pa. Papa Joe! Husband!" 
From another room there comes a warm reply of "Yes, my wife." 
"There's a young man here says he wants to buy your truck. It's the blue 
one parked by the barn. He says it never moves."
"The barn?"
"No, the truck. The truck never moves." She glances at Miguel and rolls her eyes.
"Neither does the barn. Bring him on back."

59: Snippet 1 from Miguel and the Devil's Mouth

Miguel wants to help her anyway, plus he wants more time to think about George's offer. Adel sees he wants to help so she gives him the plate. He takes it to the kitchen counter. He asks "Are you making nopales?"
"Yes. You don't mind, do you?" 
Now she is standing next to him, at the kitchen counter.
"Can you show me how?"
"Sure, but are you guys done talking?"
"I think we are done for now" George says. 
He goes to the kitchen, takes a look at the cactus pads and says "Those look good" then he pours himself a little more wine and returns to the table.
Adel says to Miguel "Get a pot and fill it half way with water, then set it on a medium flame. Oh, and do you have a dish towel and a cutting board?"
"Towels are in the drawer next to the sink. I don't think we...I mean I don't think I have a cutting board."
Adel puts all the pads in the sink, then takes out a towel and wipes the counter top where she is standing.
As Miguel gets the pot, fills it and sets it on the stove he also watches her pick a pad and set it on the counter. She uses the knife to scrape off the thorns and blemishes from a pad. She uses the towel to hold the pad down while she scrapes it. Then she cuts off about a quarter inch of the pad’s perimeter and sets that aside. Next, she rinses the pad and dices it into half inch squares. She moves the squares onto the serving dish.
"Do you want to try?" she asks.
"Okay, but I'll use my knife."
"Okay, good. Grab another towel and we can both work on them."
Miguel gets a towel from the same drawer and lays it on the counter, then he opens the drawer next to it and gets a carving knife. Adel uses her knife to stab one of the pads in the sink. She sets the pad on the towel in front of Miguel. 
"Let's see what you got' she says playfully.
He quickly gets to work. He trims off the edge of the pad, then scraps off the thorns and removes blemishes. He flips over the pad and does the same thing. Then he moves it off the towel, dices it up and puts the pieces on the serving tray. Afterwards, he looks at Adel with a questioning smile. She says "Not bad, but are you ready?"
"Ready for what?"
"The first annual Nopales De Tocacito competition. You get two pads.  I get two pads. First one with all their cactus diced and on the plate, wins. Go!" 
She quickly stabs one of the pads in the sink and gets to work on it. Miguel watches her for a second or two, then he grabs two of the remaining pads, stacks them on the counter in front of himself. He is trimming both pads at the same time. Adel sees this and says "No fair! You can't do two at once!"
"Oh, but I can. There are no rules prohibiting the stacking of pads."
"George, he's cheating."
George had been quietly watching them and enjoying it, says "I take no sides in these kind of arguments."
Miguel has finished trimming both his pads and has started scraping one. Adel has trimmed her first one and is scraping the second side of it. As she finishes scraping and dicing it, Miguel finishes scraping both sides of his first one. He begins to dice his while Adel puts her pieces on the serving plate. She asks Miguel to see if the water is boiling in the pot. When he looks, she deftly knocks one of his cactus pieces on the floor. George sees this and lets out a little laugh. Miguel reports the water is nearly boiling, then he gets back to dicing. Adel is trimming her last pad. Miguel finishes dicing his first one and puts in on the plate. He starts scraping his second one. He is ahead of Adel. He’s is done scraping both sides and is dicing. She is just starting to scrape the second side of hers. He puts all his nopales on the plate and then raises his hands in victory.
"Yes! Winner!" he exclaims.
Adel ignores him and keeps going until she gets all hers on the plate, too. She looks at him and says "Hmmm, are you sure you got all your nopales on the plate?"
"Yes, of course."
Adel steps back from the counter and looks at the floor. She points at the little green square on the floor and asks "What about that one. Seems you missed it."
Miguel looks down, too. Then he looks at her and asks "So...how do you know it's mine? How can you tell?"
Adel flushes a little bit as she replies "Well...I..." She knows she's been caught, but she knows how to get out of it, too.
"Okay, winner, here's your prize" and she steps to Miguel and gives him a kiss. George sees enough and interrupts with "I think the water is boiling."

58: On The Edge

When I worked in the bay area I had all kinds of lunch choices within a short drive. Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Armenian, Greek, Malaysian, American, Thai, and more, were possibilities. I tried, and liked, all of them. A lot of them were new, and on the culinary edge, for me. There's not so many choices for me where I live now, and I've adjusted. The other day I was hankering for a rueben sandwich. I told one of my coworkers and he had a recommendation for the best one in the area. Not only did he endorse the deli's sandwich, but he said I should try their duck fat fries! Whaaaa? Duck fat fries? He then explained their fries are cooked in duck fat. Whaaaa? Duck fat? Does Guy Fieri know about this, and if so, is that what he uses on his hair? The place is a little beyond my usual dining zone, but it's been a while since I went to the culinary edge. I'm going to make a drive there and give it a try. I just hope it's all it's quacked up to be.

57: Hug Maga

I'm going to take a personal problem and generalize it out to the whole world. I'm talking about the awkward hug. Men know how to hug men. If we do this thing, we do it with both of us standing up. That's the only way we hug. Women hug all over the place. Both standing, both sitting, one standing and one sitting. Both holding babies and cups of coffee. It's all so confusing, even just to watch. So when a woman sitting on a barstool calls my name and throws open her arms as I walk into the place I am suddenly out of my element. It feels like I'm over dressed for a version of Let's Make Deal. How the heck do I hug some one sitting down? Dad never taught me that! Is there an awkward hug society I could join? I'd never go to the meetings, but at least I'd know I wasn't alone.

Okay, I don't want to be just a complainer. I want to offer a possible solution. I've seen the advertisements for classes on Krav Maga, grappling, and other self defense technics. That's good stuff, but maybe there should be classes on the other side, too. Something that is about different ways of embracing. Maybe a Hug Maga class or something like that.

56: The Big Ape

If I were a 1933 pilot and someone told me to get into my bi-plane and go shoot down a giant ape on top of the Empire State building, I'd have to say "That's ridiculous. He just needs some attention. Give him a bunch of bananas and a Hooters gift certificate. He'll be fine."

55: What I've seen

I've seen a purple horse two stepping out a trailer.
I've seen a  chartreuse kangaroo dress like a sailor.
I've seen a zebra with horizontal stripes
And once, in Big Sur,  I saw an otter playing bagpipes.

Outside of Vegas, I saw a pink roadrunner
And then on The Strip, brochures for an easy lover.
In the Indian Ocean, with an orange peel sky
I saw a big horned dolphin eating rhubarb pie.

I've seen ZZ Top at Pine Street Saloon
And on the back patio, a chihuahua break dancing with a baboon.
In the Grand Canyon, on a river rafting kick
I saw a giggling velociraptor on a pogo stick 

I've seen some things, here on earth
Where I've been looking around since birth.
It'a been sixty trips around the sun
In every one there's been some fun.

More trips to take and stories to be told
More places to visit and sights to behold
I've seen some things on our beautiful planet
I've seen some things on our wonderful planet

54: Commando Line

There is a nice grocery store within walking distance of work so it is super easy to pop over there to grab breakfast, lunch or snack stuff. Not only that, but the people who work there are helpful and friendly. I like the 'helpful and friendly' when I'm walking the aisles, but once I get in the check out line I am in commando mode (no, not that 'commando') I mean I'm just focused on getting the mission (checking out) completed quickly and efficiently. I'm in line today and the clerk and the front customer are just gabbing away like it's a Sunday at Starbucks. Neither one of them seems to notice, but a couple of us in line are giving them the 'move it, move it' look. Eventually I move over to another line that is actually progressing. I'm done before Ms. Gabby's credit charge has cleared. But this little bit of frustration produces an idea that would make my life easier. Picasso said 'Inspiration exists, it just has to find you working.' I really like that quote. For me, it's more along the lines of inspiration comes from not accepting frustration. We all know that grocery stores have the express, 15 items or less, checkout line. I think they should get rid of those lines and replace them with the 'no talking' line. Get a surly clerk, think like The Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. People getting in that line follow the rules or it's No Checkout For YOU! Think of the efficiency! You'd never get stuck listening to the clerk and a customer talking about the nacho flavored tatter tots and how they compare with the Dorito flavored hot pockets. Nice, right? If the local store has a suggestion box I may just offer this idea. I won't suggest they call it the Commando line because then there'd just be a bunch of guys in cargo shorts. Maybe the Silent Line is a better name for it.

53: What's My Number?

Today (August 1st, 2021) is the last day of the Mid-State fair. I won't make it, but I was there yesterday. Corn dogs, shaved ice, and cheese on a stick all were in attendance. Additionally, some actual rodeo stuff went on. There was an event I hadn't seen before, but got my interest. It involved two riders and ten cows. Each cow had a unique number, between 0 and 9, painted on its body. A judge would call out a number, say 6, and then the riders would have to get the cows to go through a shoot in order. So 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, and so on. Pretty cool stuff. The one I watched had two very capable female riders. As these ladies were skillfully working the cows, I suddenly got the urge to put a number in my back and go run around the arena. I've only got two legs, but herd me in the right direction and things could work out. Lol

52: The Vegas Line

Fifteen years ago I was leaving Las Vegas with a couple friends. Somehow one of my buddies got behind the rest of us in the departure line. All of a sudden there were these two ladies between us and one of my friends. Everyone already had their passes and seat assignments, but for some unknown reason my straggler friend panicked and cut in front of those two ladies so he could join us. The ladies saw him sneak by. One of them, in a soft, friendly, southern accented voice said to my buddy "Why if you weren't so cute I send you back." My friend apologized, then explained himself. While we stood in line we had a fun conversation with these ladies from Georgia. They were really nice, polite, and funny. They seemed like they'd never speed or tell an offensive joke. But who knows?

Not too long ago I started a new job. I inherited a desk and office phone. I'm not in my office much, but when I was there today I got a collect call from a female inmate at the Georgia state penitentiary. I know it's unlikely either of those ladies got into trouble. And it's even less likely they would know my work number, but I said yes to the collect call and now I've got a date in five to seven years. Sometimes things just work out.

51: Weight For It

Before I tell this story to someone in person I always start off with "I have two questions for you to answer after I tell you this story. First, is it funny? Second, do you think it is true?" Of course if they laugh then I already know the first answer. It's their second answer that I am more curious about. Here's the story.

I have a funny "date" story. I went out with a lady that I had known casually for a while. We went out once to a local burger place. That was fun so we went out a second time. On the second time she said that because of covid her gym had been closed for over nine months and she had gained over twenty pounds. I asked her if any of it went to her boobs. That's a normal question, right? We haven't talked since. Clearly she has no sense of humor.

Funny? True?

50: In The Desert

The only time I watch broadcast TV is when I am out among the beautiful people of this amazing planet. I don't have broadcast TV at home and I'm okay with that. The other day I was at a place where the beautiful people hang out. On the TV was a current reality show called An Animal Saved My Life. They had some video clips of just such things, mostly about dogs, which was nice, but it got me to thinking about my own experience. It's a non-dog experience, and I don't have any video of it, so I will just tell you about it.

It happened when I was driving across the Mojave desert late one Tuesday night. I had stopped at a burger place in Barstow and got their very last cheeseburger that night. The meat, the cheese, the bun, all was good, but for some reason they had put triple the lettuce on mine. That's too much lettuce for me, but it took me a couple bites to identify the issue.

By then I was approaching the abandoned water park, the one that was never open, but had free parking. Even in the daylight that placed seemed inappropriate and questionable. Where the hell was the water supposed to be coming from for a water park in the desert? But free parking is free parking, and I had an issue to deal with.

I pulled over and parked. I got out of my car, burger in hand. Opened it up and went to work de-leafing it. The first couple leafs I flung at the water park attractions, with comments like "Here's your ride" and "Slide on this". As I was getting ready for a third toss a bright light suddenly appeared right over me. I have no idea where it came from, but as soon as I noticed it I felt being pulled upward, towards the source of the light. Even as this extreme strangeness was happening I kept hold of my cheeseburger. I was hungry and I had no idea what they had on board. However, the third piece of extra lettuce has unimportant to me so I let it slip from my hand.

I had been lifted just an inch or two off the ground. Of course as this is happening I was looking skyward so I didn't notice the lettuce leaf I just dropped had gotten stuck to the bottom of my pants leg.

As we all know, food in the desert is scarce, but it didn't occur to me until just then how significant a simple piece of lettuce could be. I really didn't want to go for another abduction, but as I was going up I didn't see a way out, until I felt the tug on my pants leg. I took a bite of my cheeseburger, then looked down to see what was tugging on me. Oh my gosh, it was the largest desert tortoise I had ever seen! It must have weighed at least 75 pounds...and it was eating the lettuce stuck to my pant's cuff.

If we know anything from TV it's that space aliens are impatient and turtles are lethargic. The added weight of my hard shelled friend slowed down my rise to such a degree that the galactic travels gave up on me and went on their merry way. The light shut off and I safely dropped the ground. I have always wanted to see a desert tortoise, but I never thought one would save my life or share a cheese burger with me.

49: Curves

When I drive my personal vehicle I'm a very helpful driver. I often have suggestions for my fellow motorists. I say things like "Find the gas pedal, grandpa" or "Hang up and drive, missy." These are wonderful suggestions to improve the flow of traffic. Even so, the other drivers never hear me. Saying these suggestions out loud, but to myself, is a nice emotional release. Now when I'm driving the company van, with the business logo painted on the sides, I try to not even say such helpful things. I want to be a good representative of the company. It's not been too difficult to keep quiet, but once in a while I speak out. Part of my courier job takes me along a twisting, turning stretch of road. The road is a bit narrow, and there is no shoulder. The speed limit is 45mph. The road goes by vineyards and walnut orchards, working farms and open land. There's not a lot of traffic, but some of the traffic makes it a challenge for me to keep quiet. There are bicyclists on this road with no shoulder and blind turns. Why do they ride this road? Seems kind of crazy-dangerous to me, but I've stopped asking that question and decided to accept their presences. Just means I have to pay attention and be ready for them. Once in a while farmers will decide to drive their slow-going ATVs on this road. Same thing, I don't understand this, but I drive prepared for it. I've gotten to where I can quietly wait behind them until it is safe to pass. I also see crows and vultures dining on the asphalt offerings. They always fly off to safety on their own accord.

There is one right-hand turn that is sharp enough I slow down for it. I usually drop down to about 40mph when I go around it. I was doing just that today when I encountered an unexpected challenge. As I made my way through the turn I suddenly saw about six big, dark birds in the road. My immediate thought was "Take off, vultures", but as I got closer they didn't take off. I recognized that these were not vultures, but the reluctant-to-fly turkeys. Just as I was contemplating hitting the brakes, they must have seen me. They all made a mad dash for the safety of the walnut orchard. As they bird-sprinted out of my way I couldn't help myself, I automatically yelled "Get off the road, you stupid turkeys!" Man, did that feel good!! A little yelling can be a good thing. Now I am back to silent mode as a courier, and I hope to be disciplined enough to maintain it, but part of me secretly hopes I encounter those turkeys every once in a while.

48: Guardian Angel

I'm just about convinced my Guardian Angel is an elderly lady I see most every morning. Every morning I either go for a run or ride my bike to the nearby health club to work out. My start time can be anywhere between 5:45am and 6:15am, but regardless of when I'm out in the fresh air, I see her. Even when I take different routes, I see her. She's always walking on the opposite side of the street. She's always using her cane and taking small, but not frail steps. She wears slightly tinted glasses so I can't tell for sure, but I think she sees me. Yet she never says "hi" and she rarely waves to me. I know, you are probably thinking "Oh Marlon, most women treat you that way." Ha Ha, you are so funny. They don't, okay. So why do I think she could be my G.A. A couple reasons. She acts more like she thinks she is invisible to me, like I'm not supposed to be able to see her. She mysteriously shows up wherever I'm running or riding. She's always close, but never intrusive. She is there to make sure I'm on the right path. She's older than me. I know, that's a very earthly observation but if I'm going to have a Guardian Angel, I want her to look respectable, wise and even motherly. I know I'm working on shaky ground here. I guess I could just go up to her and ask her straight out, but I'm not ready for that. I'm intrigued by the possibility of having a Guardian Angel and I'm in no hurry to determine if she's mine or not. In fact, leaving it a mystery, a riddle, which I can continue to observe and ruminate on, makes life a bit richer for me. And that's cool, regardless of the final truth.

47: Otter Butt

Went to Moss Landing this morning and saw some otters. A couple of them were chattering away. I think one asked the other "Does that sign make my butt look big?" I don't know what the other replied, but yes, it does.

46: The Remainders

I go to this local place where apparently people leave stuff behind. I have never done this, but I guess people leave their glasses; cheaters, prescriptions, and sun. They all get corralled (it's a Cowboy place) and put on display. When things get slow there is an opportunity to try on the remainders. This is me, looking so cool in these Christian Dior beauties the place almost froze. After this photo I gave them back so no one got frost bite.

45: Evil Cornbread
When I was a kid I was okay most of the time. Ask my mom. Lol. But once in a while I would go ornery. I'd find a way to be a bit too "grrrr" towards someone or something. It wasn't during a full moon, but it did happen now and then. I've wonder why I was that way every so often.

On my walk tonight I saw a SUV's rear window with this "Eat cornbread and raise some hell". Cornbread and raise hell.. Oh boy, now I am trying to remember if my ornery behavior was cornbread induced. We had chile beans and cornbread for dinner once in a while back then. Did cornbread make me pick on my little brother and make fun of the goofy girls across the street? Did it make me ornery? Yes, I think it did. And I'm not saying this just because of my bad behavior back then. Last year I had a cornbread muffin and later that same day I told my neighbor's chickens they were ugly and their eggs were round. So mean! I don’t know, maybe it's just me and cornbread that clash, but I thought I'd share this in case others are looking at cornbread and trying to make sense of its impact.

44: Talk To Me
I used to do Bad Poetry Thursday. It's been a while, but here goes anyway. Bad Poetry! Yea, baby!

Sometimes I come here
Just to have a beer.
I want to enjoy a relaxing drink
I don't want to listen to what you think.

Let me have a sip or two
Before you speak all your poo.
An ice cold beverage, maybe in a koozy
That's my combo, you Gary Busey.

Hamlet had his famous soliloquy 
But he didn't say it while sitting next to me.
It's okay if you want to go on and on and on
Just know, king or queen, I am not your pawn.

Tell me your story once or twice,
But more than that and you're boring as rice.
Buy me a shot and play your flute
But once it's gone you'll be on mute.

I go to this place, it's a nice hangout
But some of the people like to shout
That's okay, there is no fee
Just don't always sit next to me.

43: Easy Broccoli Stew
I'm having a cheeseburger and tater tots for dinner tonight. I'm having a cheeseburger and tater tots for dinner tomorrow night. I like traditional American food, but once in a while I mix it up. Recently I made "Easy Broccoli Stew". The recipe called for a cup of carrot juice and a pound of broccoli. That didn't sound right to me so I made it with eight ounces of oatmeal stout and four links of spicy bratwurst. It was so good. The recipe recommended pairing my stew with brown rice so I used a bag of Fritos, the big scoop kind, of course, to go with my broccoli stew. Oh man, I love eating healthy.

42: The E and the D
Monday through Friday, on my way to work, I drive by a farm that has an emu and a donkey. There's a stream that passes through the farm's pasture. Throughout my +55 years I have watched lots of nature shows, including ones on the Nile river, so I know when a bird wants to get across some flowing water, it hops on the back of a four-legged animal, a hippo for example. That's just part of the wild kingdom. It might not rain here for a while, but I am really looking forward to the soggy day when I see the emu riding on the back of the donkey as they trek to the other side of the pasture's stream.That's going to be better than the day I saw a turtle break dancing.

41: Irish Parenting Advice
For the Saint Patrick's Day I offer my Irish parenting advice. Guinness is one of my all time favorite beers. The thick, rich favor is like a most excellent hug from a beautiful full figured woman. So tasty! Oh yeah, the parenting part... one evening, when my kids were about 11 and 12 I was having a Guinness with my dinner. The kids asked if they could taste it. They had no idea what they were asking for, but I let both of them try it. Oh man, their expressions of disgust were beautiful. They both hated it so much. It's been about twenty years since they took their first sips of alcohol and they've not had a drop since. Because they first tried an Irish stout they have shunned all alcohol. I'm not sure about all my parenting decisions, but letting them taste a bit of the darkness has kept them away from it since. It could work for other parents, too.

40: On Roller Skates
Went downtown to do some birthday shopping for a friend. Parked on a slight incline so I set the car's parking brake. Got out of my car and started to walk towards the curb. On my first step my foot nearly slides out from under me, but it slides uphill. That's strange, right ? I manage to catch myself and stay on my feet, but I have to see what would cause my foot to slip uphill. Would you believe it was a banana peel ? At first I didn't recognize it because it had turned black and being on asphalt had made it difficult to see. I had to laugh at the idea of slipping and falling on a banana peel. Very cartoonish. Shortly after that I am on the sidewalk and a lady coming towards me catches her heel on a crack. She stumbles, but catches herself. I tell her "Hey, I just slipped on a banana peel." She quickly responds "Maybe we should dance together." And I reply with "On roller skates!" We both laugh as we kept going our own way.

39: Dive Bar
I like my local "dive bar". It has plenty of outside seating so people can play it safe. I call it a dive bar because there's lots of country music played on the jukebox. Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" and Chris Stapleton's "Tennessee Whiskey" get played about 10,000 times a day. Both good songs. Something that doesn't happen very often, but is always amusing, is when someone comes in and asks for a glass of sauvignon blanc or petite syrah. It's a dive bar, people! It has a white wine and a red wine and only one type of wine glass. Do these people go to Arby's and try to order a T-bone? Oh well, it's harmless entertainment. And who knows...if they do stay for a glass of wine, maybe they will pick something different, like a James Taylor song, from the jukebox.

38: Valentine's Day Adoption
According to the local online newspaper, our local zoo is offering something very unique as a Valentine's Day gift. They say for a five dollar donation to the zoo you can give that someone special in your life their very own adopted cockroach. Yes, cockroach, and not just a common roach, but the extremely disturbing Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. Wow, what an idea!

I can imagine how the conversation would go. "Hi honey. For Valentine's Day this year I got you a cockroach." "Get out!" "But...but it's a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach" "Get the hell out!!" OMG. That was my initial reaction to the article. Then I started thinking about the meaning of 'special'. It really is up to interpretation. I quickly realized that there are a few 'special' someones in my life. I could see myself spending a few bucks to give hissing cockroaches to some of my very 'special' politicians. "This is for you, Governor." Now that's a Valentine's Day gift I can support.

The Clerk's Story
Netflix has a series, hosted by Nicholas Cage, called The History of Swear Words. I haven't watched it, but based on a recent experience I have an idea for a similar series. I was in line at the grocery store. The clerk, who is always friendly to customers, was talking about having to deal with a very rude person the previous day. She said the customer complained about everything and was nasty to the clerk, too. When the customer left, she made a strange gesture at the clerk. The clerk described it as a backwards peace sign. The normal peace sign is with index and second fingers straight up and the palm is towards the recipient. The rude customer had her fingers the same way, but she turned her hand so the back of her hand was towards the clerk. The clerk had never seen that before, and neither had I. The clerk said when she got home that day she asked her grandson to look it up on the internet. Given she didn't know the meaning, asking her grandson to look it up seemed like a risky choice. Never the less, he found out it is an English gesture that essentially means "up yours". How nice. However, it did get me to thinking how many other rude gestures are out there, not just in America, but world wide, and what's their history. So...Netflix, if you are reading this, consider a History of Rude Gestures series, maybe hosted by Samuel L Jackson. Oh, and Netflix, if you don't like my idea I got two fingers for you. Lol

Like An Astronaut
It's pretty cool we have so many "TV" options these days. Broadcast, streaming, and internet all provide lots of content. Drama, humor, reality, nature, sports and more are available. Recently I was checking content on a free streaming service. I was surprised to see the original Lost In Space series was a choice. I had to check it out. Most of the episodes take place on an unknown planet, but the first couple shows are about their preparation and flight into space. I had forgotten about this part of the storyline. During the flight the crew was in some deep sleep state when their ship was damaged by asteroids. The crew is woken up by the ship's alarm system. The captain quickly assesses the situation and decides to take a look at the exterior of the ship. He jumps into his space suit and heads out the airlock. Once he is outside the ship he suddenly goes into slow motion. All his movements are half the speed they normally are. He slowly bends down to inspect the hull. When he stand back up it's like his space suit is being inflated by an under powered hair dyer. After he is back inside the ship and moving at normal speed it dawned on me that his spacewalk made no sense. He's outside the ship, with no gravity and no friction..and he moves slower? I think "Oh well, that's TV."

That night I was slicing some onion for dinner when a couple pieces fell off the cutting board and onto the kitchen floor. My 59 year old body doesn't move or bend like it used to. As I bend down to get the wayward onion pieces I feel myself go into slow motion. I move cautiously as I find the onion pieces and when I go to stand back up..my internal pulleys and levers are, for some strange reason, working at half speed. Of course this could be due to my age, but given what TV taught me earlier in the day I prefer to think it's because I move like an astronaut. Yes, that's it, an astronaut, I'm sure.

In 1971, at Wingland Elementary (Go Wildcats) on Mondays we would get the cafeteria lunch menu for the week. I don't remember all the options, but I very clearly remember the good, the bad and the ugly. Hint, the bad and ugly were one in the same. But let's start with the good. Oh wait, there's more set up to explain. Our lunches came on a beige plastic tray that had compartments for each of; the main course, a vegetable, a fruit, a dessert and a cartoon of whole milk. On any given school day, if there were left overs after all us kids got served, anyone who had cleaned their...tray ..could go back for seconds. On fish stick days (with carrots and applesauce) it was a race to get in line for seconds. Who could quickly inhale their firsts so they could get another three crunchy, tasty fish sticks for their seconds. In the big cafeteria we were all heads down, trying to clean our trays so we could get seconds. Whenever someone stood up, we all noticed because it meant one more second serving of fish sticks and tartar sauce was gone. Seemed like everyone wanted to get seconds. Everyone wanted more of the good.

In contrast, once in a while, we would be served something that was more foul than the creature from the black lagoon. Oh, and that's not just my opinion. I have evidence to support this claim. Remember, that in order to get seconds we had to completely clean our tray. Main dish, fruit, vegetable, and dessert compartments needed to be void of their initial contents in order to get seconds.

I am still not a green vegetable fan, and maybe it's because of back then. I've learned to like peas and even Brussel sprouts, but some scars never heal. I don't remember the main dish, fruit or dessert that accompanied this slimy green punishment. Whenever this vampire appeared on the lunch menu we all knew, no matter how good anything else was, none of us had the needed cross to banish it. Creamed spinach! Its fangs sank deep into all our hopes for seconds. As it was served to us on our trays, we all became paler and more lugubrious. Kids sat down at their table with a resolution of never getting up again. Creamed spinach! No seconds ever again.

As we all ate with the enthusiasm of molasses, suddenly a kid stood up. He held his tray over his head, empty and upside down. No way! No one could choke down that swamp sludge. Yet somehow, some way he had done it. He was the only one going back for seconds. He had defeated the bad, the ugly.

He got his seconds, and that's good for him, but this is where the story gets bigger and better. When he sat down, he had his seconds, but before digging in, he ate the disgusting creamed spinach off the trays of both his skinny neighbors. Both neighbors looked at their now empty trays in shock. Then they looked at the kid. He nodded to them as if saying "Go". They both jumped up and quickly walked back to the serving line. Thanks to the kid's effort, the skinny kids got seconds that day. That's taking a bad/ugly thing and making something good come of it and that rocks.

The inventions people come up with can be entertaining. I was hanging out at my place with a jukebox and neon lights, when a lady next to me ordered a special drink..meaning not a 12 oz. bottle or shot. She wanted a little of this in the glass and then a mix of these two things shaken together. Then the two had to be slowly added to the one already in the main glass. It was fun chemistry in action. She, the inventor of this drink, invited people to try it via a straw. Someone said it tasted like Disneyland, which I found both accurate and hilarious. The inventor said the drink was named after her in Texas and California. Sure, why not. Picking up on that self-named beverage theme, when it was my turn to order I told the lovely and talented bartender that I'd have a Marlon. She laughed and brought me a Sierra Nevada. I may never make it big in Texas, but I am known here at my hangout and that's inventive enough for me.

Is it Bad Poetry Thursday or Thursday Art review? You decide.

The stars smile and the crescent moon salutes. 
The feral cat crouches and the night owl hoots.
Happy crickets chirp and our favorite planets appear.
I've written this poem and now I'm off to have a beer

The Wrong Move
Last Tuesday I was in my front yard, doing some cleanup, when a dove quietly landed on a branch of my neighbor's tree. I heard her coo a few times as I continued to rake up leaves. Then a second, much noisier, dove landed right next to the quiet one. As close as he lands to her it is obvious he is going to try to win her over. Okay, maybe I can learn something from his technic so I stop raking to watch. After he is silent for a second he starts bobbing his head up and down like an excited cockatoo. As he keeps doing this he lets out three loud squawks that sound like blasts from a crow with laryngitis. Really, dude? When he's done he turns and looks at her. She doesn't even look back at him. She just quietly flies off. I shake my head in disappointment and then tell him "Dude, even I could of told that wasn't going to work." He shrugs and then takes off to continue his pursuit. I wish him good luck and then get back to my yard work.

Hong Kong Fui
Have you ever been at a bar or a bar or a bar and a woman walks in with hair that reminds you of the first time your parents took you to Red Lobster and you saw that tank of lobsters and crabs and there was that one upside down crab with its legs pumping frantically and it claws pinching out question marks and the woman orders a hamburger with hummus and some steak fries and you look at her hair again because you want to remember the fuzzy, frantic futility of that one crab from your youth and then you yell to the bartender you'd like a chicken quesadilla and a refill of your feta martini and the woman says "Hey" to you but you can't get that image of the disoriented crab out of your mind because you've just recently broken up with a girl who's last name, sadly, is Dungess, and you don't want to be rude to anyone so you mumble "feta garlic hummus tuna gelato yankee stadium" in a hope that at least one of those words will distract her, take her back in time and remind her of the old blind man she married and his old blind Hong Kong Fui dog in the fedora and dark sunglasses that was the best man at their wedding so she doesn't notice your sexy feta martini mustache and all you want to do is watch Una Familia Con Suerte on the bar's big HDTV and daydream of that kind of novella drama for your life.

Audio versions of short stories.
Mac and Cheese, My Policy, and Two Vowels
54: Commando Line
52: The Vegas Line
51: Weight For It
49: Curves
44: Talk To Me
43: Easy Broccoli Stew
42: The E and the D
41: Irish Parenting Advice
37: The Clerk's Story
36: Like An Astronaut
35: Wingland
15 Louie
14: Kids Dinner
13: It Rained
12: Chimes

11: What I Said
10: The Russian Motorcyclist
9: An Almost Brilliant Idea
8: Argentina
7: Biscuits

6: Doorbell Remote

5: Have You Ever...Moses

4: Jimmy Buffet Saved My Life

3: Rocky Run
2: Saving The Earth
1: When Donuts Appear

More audio stories on the way. Check back soon.

I'm no great artist, but art and painting have had a very positive impact on me. I paint for the passion and fun of it. I hope you enjoy these images.
11: Collection of wine barrels I have painted 10: Roots on Railroad Wine Barrels 9: Garage Mural 8: Two Painted Wine Barrels. 7: Outside 6: My Garage Door 5: Painted Wine Barrel 4: Tropical Jungle 3: Tequila Bottles 2: On Canvas, Set 1 1: On Canvas, Set 2 Here's a couple paintings I've done.

Jace, our family dog.

Wine barrel for Roots On Railroad.

Mural I painted for mom.