Flashback Friday/New Year

Having mentioned an old, old post while commenting yesterday, and since it is after all Flashback Friday, and at the suggestion of JYP, here is that aforementioned post. (I may edit a little as I go). The post, a very short story, was, informally, the result of a prompt. Not the kind we see on WordPress. In an earlier post, a conversation had developed in the comment thread and somehow the subject of Dorothy’s ruby slippers came up. At the same time, and don’t ask me how, peanut brittle. Someone suggested, actually dared me, that I write a post about ruby slippers and peanut brittle. This was the result.



When I was eighteen I moved out of my sister’s house and set out from California to Missouri. I’m gonna blow this town, I said, about the time Alice Cooper said, “I’m eighteen and I li-iiiike it!” It was not an original idea, I know now. Before I left I bought a girl I had just met a pair of shoes because she always joked about her old flip-flops. She said because her family didn’t have much money, she never had any cool looking shoes, and she would prop her feet up on the dash of my ’57 Chevy and joke about her flip-flops. They were the rubber ones that cost maybe a dollar ninety-eight, and lasted about one summer. Hers were light blue with dark blue rubber straps. Her feet and legs were darkly tanned.

“What you need is a pair of ruby slippers, like Dorothy,” I said.

“Is that where you’re going? Kansas?”

“City,” I said. “Kansas City. In Missouri.”

She shuddered.


“I hate those flying monkeys.”

We were parked in the driveway in front of her house. The sun had gone down while we were talking. The porch light came on, then flickered off, on, off, on. “That’s my mom,” she said. “I gotta go inside.”

Before she let herself out of my car, she leaned over and kissed me. It happened so fast I was still thinking about it when I saw the front door of her house close behind her and the porch light go off. It had gotten cold. I rolled my car windows up before I drove home.

After that, she was never home when I called. Halloween was just two weeks away, and in a gift shop that sold costumes I bought a pair of ruby slippers like Dorothy’s in the movie. The day before I left, I went to her house and left them on the front porch in their box.

Outwardly, I thought it might be funny, but inwardly I hoped she understood they meant I wanted her to have a nice life.

The next day, I left for Missouri. I drove south along a route I knew would lead to Barstow and U.S. Route 66. In some small town I stopped for gas and after I paid for it I went rummaging around in the back seat of my car for something. I found a small box with a note taped to it that read, “Bye.”

It was peanut brittle. I set the box next to me as I drove off, and when I got on the highway I got me a big piece and bit off half of it and ate it. It was sweet; so sweet it made my jaws ache.


That’s my Friday Flashback. There it is, and I won’t ever preemptively defend it, as it is far too late.

Chances are this will be my last post of 2022. Happy New Year to you all. This time around it seems kind of anti-climactic, and it’s hard to be optimistic. But hope springs eternal–there is always something around the corner.

What? You wanna die of boredom?

Christmas Looms

I think I should wish everyone a very merry, happy, peaceful Christmas and/or Hanukkah while there’s still time. Who knows what catastrophe will strike tomorrow, what last minute shopping, perhaps? (Though I like to think I’m done.) We watched a documentary about the history of Christmas and I’d say all the explanations of trees and gifts and jolly old men on carts or sleighs with one reindeer, eight reindeer, dates and pagan solstice celebrations and etc. are almost as mythical as the stories they are said to refer to. It is what it is, is my conclusion. It’s cold, the nights are long, couple of three-day weekends ahead, if not the entire week. Take a break, relax. We made it. There is hope. The days are lengthening, spring is coming, 2023 is around the corner and surely it will be better.

Meanwhile the dreaded polar vortex lingers here in our neck o’ the woods. Temperatures have soared to plus 5 today, so that’s fun. It was 7 below when I got up this morning. As mentioned elsewhere, the furnace in the apartment is running 7/8 of the time, as Stephen King once put it, gobbling up dollars. I had to go to the store earlier today and decided to walk. It’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s five blocks and on weekdays enough buildings and sky walks between them are open. The whole trip to the store only involved being outside long enough to cross two streets, before ducking back into another building. When I first move downtown, I spent several days discovering this route. It’s also great when it’s raining, or when it’s ridiculously hot and humid outside.

Here is a picture I took looking out from one of the sky walks. You see the blue sky. Whenever it gets this cold, it is almost always sunny and very clear with nothing to hold or trap what little heat there might be. I don’t really mind winter anymore, now that I don’t work outdoors, and because I’m retired I seldom feel that I must absolutely go outside and get wet/hot/cold for any reason. Anyway, it’s a psychological thing, but after so many years, one learns to “tune out” the discomfort in whatever form it takes, if you have to. It’s not really a matter of getting tougher. Just more stubborn.

the rogue glass bird

Flashback Friday

So, Fandango’s Flashback Friday ( here ) and my response is as follows. It is my last post of 2016, posted on blogger.com.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

WWWW16: What Was Wrong With ’16

Remember Disco?  Remember how it was around for awhile and then the grown-ups thought it was cool and started doing it and then it died? Why CAN’T THAT HAPPEN TO TWEETING!!??

[Editor’s note: hmm, just six years later, there is now a glimmer of hope.]

Astronomical “events” that are not really events, but just juxtapositions of some sort that happen regularly, but no so often that we remember it, like “super moons” and various alignments, are not really events. A comet crashing into a planet would be an event, but a full moon that happened to occur when the moon was at one of its closest cycles to Earth is really not. Also, the fact that something is not going to happen again for 87 years does not make it important. If you think about it, something that happens every two hours or once a day, or whatever, is actually much more important to us. Because, duh. Like, hey, the sun is going to come up tomorrow!! Yay! This is important.

[Editor’s note: I bitch about this all the time. It’s a bit self-righteous, like my frequent tirades concerning high-dynamic-range, over-Photoshopped pictures.]

You know how when you think you’re a nice person but you’re rude to clerks in stores actually makes you an asshole, even though you don’t really think you are?  Stupid misleading headlines designed to get your attention and click on something are actually part of the story, so if they are lies, then the article is untrue, and the publication should issue a retraction and an apology.

[Editor’s note: I stand by this.]

CNN crawl still riddled with grammatical and spelling errors.

[Editor’s note: this is slowly being replaced by AI, so now it’s even worse, in its own way.]

I will give 2016 credit, though, for some things. For example, I think people have finally quit worrying about how many spaces other people leave after periods.

[editor’s note: at this late date, I still go back and forth on this without actually being conscious of it.]

Posted by Roy at December 31, 2016 

Life in the Fast Lane

We attended our building’s “Friendsgiving” dinner last night. Jo made scalloped potatoes, and there was turkey, stuffing, something green, and some desserts. Five people showed up, counting us. I have to say, it wasn’t bad. I took a slice of the turkey home and had a turkey sandwich for lunch today.

The “do” was actually quite pleasant. We like Amber, the girl who works at the lobby desk and usually arranges these little events. There was a bucket of soda pop, but no diet varieties, so I drank a tiny portion of a bottle of room-temperature water. Mmm. There was sparkling conversation. I told a story about a Mexican restaurant I ate at on Route 66 in New Mexico in 1969. The three Millennials there did not understand certain elements of the story: Route 66, the year 1969, and, I think, seemed preoccupied trying to work out if a story with a Mexican restaurant in it was politically correct, or incorrect. (It was about the very hot chili I ordered, and I did not use fake accents.)

It’s cold today. Wind chill is 27 right now, which I find unpleasant. We had dinner tonight at Anthony’s Restaurant that is on the north end of downtown. It cost too much. There was also a “customer service fee” on the check, which mystified me. Service charge for the debit card? Who knows. I don’t trust “fees.” I put them in the same category as “non-refundable deposits.” Which translated, means “money you give us and we won’t give it back.”

Must choose, now, among three possible TV shows to watch, each one the latest episode of our binge watching program.


This picture was taken (windshield shot) around three blocks from my apartment. As I mentioned, I dropped Instagram, so I will inflict pictures on you all instead. This is photoshopped somewhat. Nothing drastic. Nowadays it could have a fake sky, fake anything. All I did was adjust the colors and contrast and stuff like that a bit. They just put in a bike lane on Grand, indicated by the green blocks painted on the pavement, right to left. The bike lane reduced the car lanes from four to two, and I have to say, traffic is a lot calmer, and moves along at the same speed it always has. I think what happens is when there is only the one lane in one’s direction, one tends to stop driving aggressively, lane changing, passing, etc., and resigns one’s self to “going with the flow” of traffic. The result is no congestion, for some odd reason. Other major arteries around her have had this treatment, and it is obvious that they are easier to drive along, and take up no additional time.

Self Sustaining

The good thing about blogging here is if you run out of ideas, you can always start griping about WordPress. For myself, I find it remarkable that an operation like WordPress–you might say a PROFESSIONAL blogging company–and as such very involved in the act of writing words, has such a clunky, unintuitive editing screen. I refer to the “block editor.” It’s a word processor, folks, one of the simplest and most straightforward applications ever. I had a KayPro portable with an Intel 8088 chip that operated at 4.77 MHz and had 640K of RAM and it had a dandy word processor that worked flawless with pretty much the exact same basic abilities as the WP block editor. (That is, it ultimately resulted in rows of text one after another.) What is WordPress trying to do here?

Maybe I’m just a simple thawed out frozen cave man who is frightened and confused by your “block editors” but I can’t seem to find a single thing about them that has any advantage whatsoever over even the simplest text editor or memo pad. So I am gleefully using YOUR resources, WordPress people, to complain about YOU.

This doesn’t help.

Meanwhile, you probably don’t remember that I stopped using Facebook. I actually “paused” it, so I’m not sure what actually happened, or even if my page is indeed not visible anymore. But I only remembered that I did that just this morning. It’s been weeks and I DO NOT MISS IT. I expect that I will not ever miss it. Again, as most people who drop Facebook will attest, none of my FB friends has emailed me asking what happened to me. Actually, no one cares. I mean, why should they? It’s just a stupid web page with ads all over it. The funny thing is, I’m starting to think of the whole entire Internet that way. We joked about people who said it was “just a fad,” and of course it’s more than that, but do I see a glimmer of light? Will humans inflicted with all the BS that chokes the Internet one day push back? Can we do that and keep the two or three good things it offers?

Well, of course not. This doesn’t help either.

I dropped Instagram, just because I was on a roll. It was freeing to not have to “check in” on Facebook, and it’s equally freeing with Instagram as well. I enjoyed posting pictures there, but to be honest, it was only a handful of people who seemed to look at them anyway–one blogger and about six other total strangers. I don’t know. I just started feeling silly.

A little later today we’re going out to buy a curtain rod. That’s right, you heard me. So with my life full near to bursting, I exit stage left (screen left?) and leave the Internet to its own devices for awhile, anyway. Those of you who are wrong about something but don’t have me to correct you or to give some testosterone infused advice, please be patient.


I know the rows of boxes beneath most internet articles containing really stupid ads are not worth thinking about, but this one tickled me:

It is for a New SUV for Seniors that are Cheaper than You Might Imagine, but my initial reaction was, oh, they are making SUVs for seniors. Like, yeah it’s about time. We’re not getting any younger. I eagerly anticipate the features the manufacturer has built into this SUV for the edification of the snow white sneaker set.

A small thing, but still a nice touch: the chrome ends of the seatbelts are coated with a teflon material to mitigate sparking on the asphalt when the door gets slammed on the belt. But there’s more: a radio tuned to one station (at the dealership) and operated by a button three inches in diameter, sporting a big, high-contrast musical note painted on it. I like that, because the current icon for the radio button in my car is, I think, but I can’t be sure, the symbol for boron, and it is 5 microns across. The button itself is the size of a fleck of ground pepper, and grouped with six other buttons which, combined, form an array the length of the diameter of my fingertip. For this senior iteration, I’m happy to see something more fist-sized, as well as the optional voice command triggered by the single, easy to remember word, “GOTTDAMMIT”

And no stupid “rear view” camera. Instead, no reverse gear. It’s just safer that way. Under “tech” we’re talking advanced circuitry that detects the speed of surrounding traffic and limits the car’s speed to 10 MPH below that. Similarly, there is a “curve ahead” sensor that slows the car down to 3MPH, with an after-market option that will also activate the emergency flashers. And lastly, another nice touch, a floating aircraft style rotating compass on the dash because some things are just classic.


Season’s Greetings

It’s time for all good Druids to sneak out at night and roam the snowy woods to find suitable trees to cut down and transfer indoors to their hovels. Not near the hearth, please. The trees of choice are generally full of sap and will go up like a matchstick if you’re not careful.

Our connection to nature is impervious to the millennia that pass over us. We bring animals inside, too, and savor that connection. And plants. The columns of ancient Greece architecture are stylized trees. This is an old thing. It’s primordial. Probably no accident that nine out of ten X-Files episodes opens before backdrops of dark, star-lit forests, full of fear.

Anyway, regardless of any religious preferences you might have, this is a good time to consider the cyclical nature of, at least, our part of the world–the long black night and the hoped for revival of light and warmth–and the effect it has on our animal nature.

Our predicament is that we have the ability to watch ourselves and to wonder and to create our own hope. It all started with a tree, didn’t it? We partook of the fruit and found that despite the sweet taste, it was a curse.

Below is a nifty photoshopped tree–the only kind I have–superimposed on a scene of our apartment’s courtyard.


Fandango supplies a story starter which I have used in my story’s first sentence, below.

The somber mood in the studio was not surprising, given that the anchorman had just started crying in the middle of his segment on climbing divorce rates. He shook his head and looked into the camera. He apologized, lip quivering, and began to explain to the vast audience at home how his own separation and impending divorce from his wife of 27 years had “thrown him off his stride.”

In the control room, Ralph Buchanan, the news director stood like a statue in front of the on-air monitor. It was a little over 15 seconds before he shook off the paralyzing incredulity of it all and called for a cut to commercial. 

He had 70 seconds. He raced out of the control room and onto the set. “Lin, you OK? Can you finish?”

Linwood Hayes, “the Voice of Choice at HUMDTV, DeMoines,” looked up at his friend. His face was shiny in the bright studio lights. 

“Yeah, I’m finished.”

“No. No.” The director’s brow furrowed with empathy. “You’re not!  C’mon, Lin. You’re still a young man.”

Linwood scoffed at that with a curt “hmphh.” 

“No,” he said, calmer now. “I can finish.  I’m good. I’ll finish.”

A disembodied female voice crackled from an overhead speaker. “Fifteen seconds.” Still a little worried, the director backed away and returned to the control room. He counted off the last five seconds silently with hand signals. 

Linwood Hays, the Voice of Choice, sat upright, leaning forward a little, and stared at the unblinking eye of the television camera. “More on the shooting at the Wheel On Inn, a tavern on the west side, and the concerning, ready availability of handguns throughout the county. But first, this.” 

He lifted his right hand into view of the camera. It held a black Glock 43 handgun.  Linwood turned it slowly as if to reveal different perspective views of it, the heft of it, and the way it fit his hand.

Bird Parts

I live downtown amongst tall buildings that surround the courtyard that is attached to my apartment. There are pigeons by the hundreds and you can’t take a couple of steps anywhere without noticing dozens of them at a glance. There is a pair of falcons around as well, that you may see once in awhile if you’re paying attention. They soar around looking for prey, and they often find it in pigeons.

So this is why it is not uncommon for us to see the occasional dead pigeon, or parts of a dead pigeon, in our courtyard. It’s not “fun.” Someone has to grab a trash bag and put on gloves and go out there and retrieve it. And then take the bag to the trash cans beyond the elevator lobby. Because dead bird.

Kind of gross, I guess, but remarkable in some ways. A week ago there was a partial, dead pigeon out there. Both wings were still attached–I think it had no head. It lay flat, wings spread, on the concrete of the courtyard floor not too far from a window. It was windy and I watched the feathery carcass move around some. Then the wind caught the wings just right and for a moment, it flew. Just for a moment it lifted off the concrete maybe a foot or so before drifting back down. I imagined it to be like a miniature recreation of the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kittyhawk.

But unlike humans, birds are born to fly. They are meant to fly. They are designed to fly, and with just a tiny amount of will, that is what they do. This bird, no longer possessed of any will at all, was so well designed that just the wind over the miracle of its wings caused it to fly, briefly, if without intent. When scientists say that life is nothing but DNA evolved to reproduce itself in whatever fashion that works, in, it turns out, so many millions of ways, it is at once mundane and spectacularly beautiful. We are not much, in one sense, here on our little planet, but endlessly complex and mysterious in the ways we survive and live on.