American Caricature

Yesterday I wrote a great story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. It was funny. Very funny. It was a really, really great story. And so funny. Taking my writing cues from the new leader of the free world, I can say that readers everywhere would have thought “Campfire Girls All Grown Up” was a great title for my great story about old childhood friends who had met life’s challenges head on with the support of their group which they now called The Drunken Poets Society. This great, really great, story takes place at the twenty-second annual Drunken Poets Campout. I was all set to hit publish. Then last night something happened. I went with my son to see John Cleese and Eric Idle in their Together Again At Last…For The Very First Time North American Tour.

If you don’t know who these guys are, what cave have you been living in?

The two comic giants played to a sold out house at the Majestic Theater in Dallas. The first act got off to a slow start. What else would you expect from two old farts? Still, it was entertaining and informative. For instance, I did not know that the first PBS station to broadcast episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the U.S. was KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Two red armchairs cushioned the iconic, and well-worn, actors as they reminisced about the good old days of Monty Python. Name dropping mixed with comedy sketches and songs, it was like sitting at the knee of a profane uncle and loving every minute of it.

What this has to do with my Friday Fictioneers story, you may be wondering. Or not. Well, last night in my sleep, Eric Idle came to me and said, “Campfire Girls All Grown Up isn’t funny. In fact, Honie, it stinks. Then he sang me a song he’d written just for me. I can’t share it here due to copyrights, quid pro quo trade negotiations, Brexit ex post facto, ipso facto e pluribus unum and all that, but suffice to say, it was really, really, great. Really.

So, this morning I woke up a little hung over curiously sober, and in the light of day I decided to embrace the absurdity of being American. Here’s my new and improved story.

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Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

 Isolationism

I read the news today. Oh boy! Frackers and hackers have surrounded the backpackers. Obese schizophrenics protest en masse. No one knows for sure what has offended them today, but they are armed with selfie sticks, free with every purchase at Starbucks.

I experience fever then chills then uncontrollable laughter. Nausea follows. I want to run, sleep, and vomit all at once. I call my doctor’s office, calming down on hold while I sing along, “Billie Jean is not my lover.” The virtual nurse comes on the line.

“If this is an emergency, please hang up and call 911. Goodbye.”

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Thanks to Rochelle and her trusty companion, Jan, for this week’s prompt. Check out more FF stories here. Thanks for reading.

Once Upon A Mistake

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Copyright Björn Rudberg

Julianna’s big sister had entertained her with bedtime stories for as long as she could remember.

“Is this going to be one of your ‘he sold his car to buy strings for her cello and she sold her cello to buy snow tires for his car’ stories?”

“My god, JuJu, how much do you think cello strings cost? No. Just listen. You haven’t heard this one; I promise,” Marie whispered. “Devon was a handsome cellist. He played here with a chamber orchestra before you were born.”

Marie closed her eyes, summoning her courage.

“Nine months to be exact.”

 

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Well, there you have it. My 100 word story prompted by the genius, the poet, Björn Rudberg. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is the name of the dame who keeps Friday Fictioneers rockin’ and rollin’. Check out more FF stories here.

A Long Overdue Book Review

This time last year I was in the grips of some extraordinarily difficult subjects. Human trafficking, child soldiers, the prospect of accepting a less than stellar grade in forensic anthropology (I don’t know how I managed a B). The 2016 spring semester, now a distant memory, loomed large with its 15 credit hours including another round of statistics. So, when the holiday break rolled around I decided to enjoy a little “lite reading,” and treated myself to Carrie Rubin’s medical thriller, Eating Bull.

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Carrie is fearless in her use of fiction to drive home the very real epidemic of obesity in America. Her characters are ordinary people, doing ordinary things, but forget slice of life; Eating Bull is a big ol’ slab of reality. Jeremy, the teen aged protagonist’s struggle tugs at your heartstrings, but the circumstances that contribute to his family’s dysfunction are only part of the story. Murder most foul and its sadistic motivations pierce theme after difficult theme and provoke the reader to examine the medical establishment, bigotry, and a society poisoned by consumerism. Eating Bull is available here. Find out for yourself what happens in this award winning novel chock-full of suspense!

 

 

 

Trouble At The Lollipop Guild

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Copyright Sandra Crook

“Gumdrops?!” The line foreman’s voice reverberated into the rafters.

“Yes, it’s our only option,” replied the union rep.

Just last month the members had agreed to a pay cut in order to afford roof repairs before winter. Some of them even volunteered to haul materials from the shipyard on their days off. Now they were expected to retool before Christmas for a new confection just because the president demanded they increase production or shut down permanently.

“You’ve ruined us,” said the foreman.

“The output of suckers is only one every minute. Gumdrops will make you great again,” promised the rep.

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Friday Fictioneers are here again. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is the boss and Sandra Crook supplied this week’s prompt. Thanks, Ladies! **Late addition** I just realized that Sandra provides the prompts that prompt me the most to speak my mind and try to use humor to make a point. For that, Sandra, I am truly grateful.

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It’s Veterans’ Day here in the good ol’ U.S.A. and as a veteran, a woman, a person of conscience, hell, just a human with a pulse, I would be remiss if I did not remark on the bizarre events that occurred this week here in the land of the free. Politics is not my thing. I abhor fakes, frauds, predators, and provocateurs. Who gets what and how much, that’s what politics means to me. I have been unrepresented for so long that I have learned how to get by (with a little help from my friends, of course). It occurs to me that we’ve been looking for leaders in all the wrong places. Many people work diligently every day to serve their families, communities, and the greater good in the world at large. It is these servant leaders who deserve our respect, but even more, they deserve our cooperation and participation in the business at hand. What is that? The business at hand is this:

Talk to your kids about civility. Talk to them about sex and sexual predators. Listen to your kids. Model the admirable qualities that you want them to demonstrate, because you can be damn sure if you rely on government to foster civil behavior, well, prepare to remain dysfunctional. Too many children have no idea that they matter to anyone. Too many children operate in survival mode and become adults who struggle with chronic crisis.

There are no words of dismay or disgust that have not already been written or shouted about American politics. So, I cannot see the point of regurgitating vitriol for the sake of having my say. What I can tell you is this: Be encouraged by the fact that there are plenty of people who share your pain. Lead by example. Do not relinquish your self-respect. Ever.

 

Concerning A Visit To The Pacific Northwest

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Like Lewis and Clark, only with internet access, my Loyal Follower and I investigate places we want to explore when we have the opportunity to travel for pleasure. It’s important to us to jam as much fun as we can into a long weekend make the most of our time. Travel sites are great for getting a general idea of what to see and where to stay, but if you want to know what the locals know, it’s best to go to the source. A few years ago blogger Allan Smorra helped us discover the wondrous world beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and we had the good fortune to meet Allan in San Francisco.

We recently ventured west again for a getaway, this time to Oregon, and once again a blogger provided the inside scoop that made our trip extra special. It was a pleasure to meet Mark Petruska and his charming wife, Tara. They treated us to a taste of Portland I will not soon forget. Funky, and more than a little freaky, Rimsky-Korsakoffee House was the perfect ending to our Pacific Northwest adventure. Thanks, Mark & Tara!

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I emailed Mr. Petruska with a vague request and he replied promptly with generosity above and beyond the call of a virtual friend, proving bloggers truly are the salt of the earth. Speaking of salt, Jacobsen Salt was on our list of stops. It was not meant to be.

TRAVEL HINT: Do Not Rent A Vehicle From Budget. (Possible future rant including pics.)

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San Francisco is where clouds are born, but the Oregon Coast is where they are conceived. That’s right; Highway 101 between Astoria and Tillamook is where the action is. There were many, many photo ops along this route. I could have spent weeks capturing the scenery. This, too, was not meant to be. I only had four days. Of 200+ shots, only fifteen made this post. There are more to come. We packed a lot into our short stay.

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My impression of the Oregon Coast: go for the view, stay for the food.

Dynamic duo Bob Neroni and Lenore Emery, owners of EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School, lovingly prepared pumpkin squash risotto hugged by sesame seared chanterelle mushrooms and kissed with a fresh Pecorino and beet tangerine slaw. This divinely inspired first course was paired with Neroni’s Chef’s Blend Oregon White. Ordinarily white wine is not my go to, but the crisp citrus notes and fresh peach finish was the perfect contrast to the velvety rich risotto.

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Next we enjoyed pan-seared rockfish topped with puttanesca & aioli sauce served with hand cut buttered linguini and lemon zested arugula salad. It was paired with Pete’s Mountain 2014 Haley’s Block Pinot Noir. 

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Just when I thought I could not eat another bite, a cast iron grilled NY striploin with pomegranate wine reduction was served with potatoes, carrots & Brussel sprouts. This taste of heaven was accompanied by J.Scott Cellars 2014 Petite Verdot.

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No gastronomic excess is complete without dessert, and right on schedule a warm gingerbread spice-chocolate soufflé dressed in white chocolate sauce cozied up next to orange sorbet and salted candied orange peel & nut brittle for the big finish. This sweet shot is a bit out of focus as I was feeling quite dizzy by this point in the meal.

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While in Cannon Beach we also ate at Sweet Basil’s Café twice. It was that good. Insomnia Coffee and Sea Level Bakery and Coffee gave us scrumptious sustenance between feedings.

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Note: No calories were counted during this trip.

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