Friday, February 24, 2017

That's Not Peanuts!

Thought for the day:  Don't take life too seriously and always remember: it is just a passing fad. [Mick Jagger]

[Mick Jagger 2013- wikipedia]
Whatever Jagger's opinions may be about life, it's probably a safe bet that he's gotten more than a little satisfaction over the fact that the Rolling Stones proved to be a whole lot more than a passing fad.

Nope, not gonna be writing about the Stones today, although I did amuse myself for a few minutes by jotting down a bunch of their song titles, and wondering how many of them I could slip into this post without anyone noticing. I dunno why. Just for kicks? A challenge? Because I'm listening to one of their CDs right now? Take your pick. But as fun as that idea might be, I'm going to let it loose for  now, so I'm free, instead, to shine a light on kicks, challenges and wagers, and some of the crazy things ordinary salt of the earth people are willing to do on the basis of a drawn card, a pair of tumbling dice, or a simple handshake.

In some areas of our country, bizarre stunts are often predicated by a guy telling his buddies, Here, hold my beer. But sometimes, people... usually of the male persuasion... are simply daredevils looking for a blast of adrenaline. Okay, I get that. A whole team of wild horses couldn't convince me to pull any of those boneheaded antics, but still, I get it. Sorta.

Ormer Locklear- 1920 [wikipedia]

Then again, I wasn't around in the 1920s. Back then, thrill-seeking was practically a national pastime. No wonder the decade was dubbed the Roaring Twenties.

Last month, I did a post about a guy who, as the result of a drunken bet, stole an airplane and landed it on a New York street right in front of the bar where he left his buddies. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) But in the '20s, people got their kicks out of walking on the wings of airplanes... and hanging from them... and doing all kinds of other nutso stunts. And not usually because of a bet, either... because they wanted to do it! It was a fad, as was swallowing live goldfish, walking on tightropes, and sitting atop flagpoles for prolonged periods of time. I can understand sittin' on a fence, within a nice safe hopping-off distance from the ground, but a way-up-there flagpole? For days and days and days on end? Um, no thanks. Ditto the live fish-eating and the tightrope walking. Heck, I have no self-expectations about walking safely across a perfectly flat piece of land without tripping over an errant blade of grass, so no way I'd have any interest in trying to walk over a canyon on a lousy piece of wire...

[Herbert Hoover -wikipedia]
Anyhow, today's story is about another bet, although this one doesn't involve anything illegal, or particularly dangerous. A little on the wacky side, perhaps, but it was the '20s...

In 1928, a Texan named Bill Williams made a wager with his father-in-law over the upcoming presidential election. (There's no indication whether or not adult beverages were involved in said transaction, but come on... I think it's a fairly safe bet they were.)

Anyway, Bill bet that Al Smith would be elected, and his father-in-law picked Hoover. The stakes? If Smith won, the father-in-law would have to stand on his head in the middle of the Rio Hondo bridge for an HOUR. If Hoover won, Bill had to push a peanut over that same bridge with his NOSE... and keep on a-pushin' until he reached the next town... eleven miles away. It took the poor schnook nine days to complete his crazy peanut-pushing trip, at which time, I'm sure he had one mighty sore schnoz and was plenty torn and frayed at the end, but he did it. (His father-in-law must have had a heart of stone to make him follow through... I mean, couldn't he have ended the ordeal after, I dunno, five or six days... or better yet, after a few hours?)


Never mind. Bill probably wouldn't have backed down from the challenge, even if his father-in-law offered, because evi-damned-dently, he wanted to do it. Know how I know? Because after meeting that challenge, he made a new peanut-pushing bet with his buddies. According to the Mysteries of the Museum website, the stakes were five hundred dollars, and some other accounts claim it was fifty bucks. Either amount of money wasn't exactly peanuts  in 1929. But all accounts agree on what Williams had to do to win the bet...
[Pikes Peak- wikipedia]

Most people are enthralled with Pikes Peak because of the glorious views. In fact, in 1893, the view inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write American the Beautiful.

Apparently, Bill Williams had other thoughts when he looked at the picturesque mountain. He thought it'd be a grand place to push a peanut with his nose, and he bet he could make the 22-mile trip all the way up Pikes Peak Highway to the top of the mountain in 22 days. This time, however, he made sure he was better prepared than he was for his initial peanut-pushing adventure. He brought extra peanuts, wore leather pads on his knees, and brought multiple pairs of shoes and canvas gloves. Oh yeah, he did a better job protecting his poor schnoz this time, too. He wore a face mask with a two-foot metal extension attached to his nose. Bottom line? He did it, and it took him 21 days, so he won the bet. He was the first Pikes Peak peanut pusher, but he wasn't the last. In 1963, a rock 'n' roll musician named Ulysses Baxter accomplished the same feat in 8 days, and in 1976, a college student pared the time down to an astonishing 4 days, 23 hours, and 47 minutes.

Quite a feat, eh? As for me, if I'm ever there, I'd rather use my God-given feet to hike up that road, (Oh, who am I trying to kid? I'd be in a CAR.) and if someone ever gave me a fistful of peanuts, my first inclination wouldn't be to push them anywhere, especially with my nose. Nope, give me peanuts, and they're going into that orifice under my nose. I'm jolly well  gonna eat 'em.

Well, it looks like I'm running out of time to be on the computer for now, so I'd better run. (Okay, walk slowly...) As for this post? It's all over now.

                      Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. In case you were counting, I used thirteen song titles in this post. (What??? So I fibbed a little. You can't always get what you want.) Oops... make that fourteen.

The most dangerous risk of all: the risk of spending your life not doing what you want to do on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. [author unknown]

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oopsie Moments Gone Bad

Thought for the day:  Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. [Janet Lane]

 Have you ever done something so bone-headed, you would've liked to hide your head in a bag for a while? Or to crawl in a hole and lie low until things blew over?

Nowadays, that's easier said than done. Now that every Tom, Dick, and Mary seem to carry a phone capable of taking photos, and then they immediately post said pics on the Internet for all the world to see, doing something idiotic has never been more open to public scrutiny.

When out on a group date many years ago... in the good old days... after we all gorged ourselves on pizza, I was trying to be as fast as possible in the rest room, because I didn't want to keep everyone waiting. In my haste, I obviously didn't pull my red-and-white striped petti-pants (WITH a spiffy white fringe!) all the way up, because as we were walking to our cars, they, um... fell down! (Leading my date to refer to me as Droopy Drawers for some months afterwards.) It was hilariously embarrassing, but the other giggling gals very kindly shielded me from view while I yanked them back up again. Nowadays, something like that would have (shudder) been immortalized on the Internet forever. One moment of embarrassments turned into a lifetime's embarrassment... UGH!

Anyhow, what follows is a post that originally appeared on March 29, 2011 with the title Under the Looking Glass? It didn't get many visitors back then, so it will be new to almost all of you.


Thought for the dayNo matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

Ever have one of those great big oopsie moments? You know, where you do something unbelievably stupid and just pray nobody's watching? Or if they are, you hope they have a really crappy memory?

One of my stupid moments was caught under a brilliant spotlight. Lucky me, huh?

I was a senior in high school at the time, and was selected by my drama teacher to perform a scene from  Tea and Sympathy for a big PTSA open house. Now, I was a bit of a nerd, meaning I was all about the academics, and drama was an elective course for me. I enjoyed it, and was okay at it, but Meryl Streep I wasn't. Still, I was pretty excited at the idea of showing my stuff.

Unfortunately, my friend and fellow nerd Robby, who happened to be manning the spotlight, was also interested in showing my stuff...

In the scene, I was an "older woman" who was about to (ahem) get up-close and personal, shall we say, with a younger man. My closing line was, Years from now... when you talk about this... and you will... be kind. While delivering the line, I was also slowly unbuttoning my blouse. And oh man, I really nailed that line, if I must say so myself. That line was supposed to be the cue for my smart-ass buddy to fade the spotlight to darkness.

It would've been oh-so-dramatic.

Was supposed to be dramatic, damn it.

My "buddy" thought it'd be great fun to leave the light on to see what I would do. Oh yeah, it was hysterical.

So what did I, the academic nerd, do? I looked straight at the spotlight and snarled, "LIGHTS!"

Kinda spoiled the effect, ya know? (But he DID douse the light.)

OK, you got me. This isn't me, but it's pretty much how I FELT, only with a little more hair ...

Anyhow, what made me think about all this was the incredible train wreck I observed on the internet yesterday. A self-published writer from England committed an enormous oopsie. She had what amounted to an emotional melt-down over a review of her book. The funny thing was, the review wasn't even all that bad. The reviewer said that her story was quite good, actually, but because of the plentiful spelling and grammatical errors, he gave her a two-star rating. That should've been the end of it. But it wasn't. Her subsequent postings, which by the way, were chock full of misspellings, grammatical errors, and tortuously convoluted syntax, were laced with profanities. Dropped the f-bomb a couple times. Snarled at anyone and everyone who tried to soothe her anger or offer guidance. Insisted that there was nothing wrong with her writing, although, clearly, there was. All of this, mind you, on a website frequented by other writers, agents, and publishers. More and more people joined the fray, as news of the "happening" spread through Twitter and other websites.

She single-handedly put herself in the spotlight, and then committed professional suicide. It's a shame, really, but I suppose she could always ... change her name.

But the bottom line here is: remember, on the internet, you're more than in a spotlight.

                                                You're under the looking glass.

And it doesn't matter if the people watching you screw up have a crappy memory, either. Once it's on the internet, it STAYS on the internet... providing a potential eternity of shame. Thank God YouTube wasn't around when I was a teenager. For that, I am eternally grateful. (I'll bet YOU are, too!)

                                    Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, February 10, 2017

In Search of Love

Thought for the day: Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running and you will be found. [Lao Tze]

Valentine's Day is next Tuesday. Whether you love that holiday or hate it doesn't amount to a hill of M&Ms; it's still gonna happen... so I'm gonna share another (kinda, sorta) love story today.

Last year, in conjunction with a blog hop, I posted a rejected-by-a-magazine unabashedly sentimental piece called A Bouquet of Joy If there's a similar blog hop going on this year, I missed it, but I'm gonna post another short story reject anyway. This one is more smart-assy than sentimental, but I hope you still enjoy it.

       Jeremy Love scowled at himself in the mirror, and for the umpteenth time, considered filing a court petition to change his name. Love??? What a colossal joke! More like Loser or Loner, because as far as women were concerned, he might as well be invisible. “Where's Cupid when you need him?” he muttered.

       Pink smoke, scented with roses and cheap cigars, suddenly filled the room. “Right behind you,” said a deep gravelly voice. A diminutive, bow-legged, diaper-clad Danny Devito look-alike waggled his fingers in greeting, and then popped a well-chewed stogie back into his mouth.
     Jeremy stared at him, slack-jawed. “You don’t look anything like your pictures.”
     “Yeah, yeah, I know. So I need a shave. Bite me. You need help or not?”
     “I hate to admit it, but I do. I haven't been able to find love anywhere.”
     “Find it?” Cupid said with a harrumph. “What makes you think it’s lost, mortal? It’s all around you.” He regarded Jeremy through a haze of smoke, while shaking his head. “My guess is you’re one of those boneheads who won’t recognize love unless it plows right into you…  but what the hay? Business is slow, so I’ll see what I can do.”
     “Thanks, Cupid… er, Mister Cupid. What I'm looking for is a kind-hearted woman who sees and appreciates the real me.”
     Cupid nodded. “We should be able to pull that off, especially if I blast ‘em with my new gonzo love gun.” 
     “Gun? What… no golden arrow?”
     “Au contraire. My invention unleashes a hundred arrows at once.” He shrugged with false humility. “Brilliant move, I know, but I didn’t have much choice. Mortals aren’t as open to love as they used to be, so a single arrow rarely does the trick. Most of the time, they ignore my arrow when it strikes them, and instead of accepting the love connection I offer, they trust some stupid Internet site to make a match for them.” He snorted, and shook his head. “Anyways, with my shotgun-like approach, we’ll bombard multiple targets at once and increase the odds of hitting a good match.”  
      Jeremy grinned. “Just like an Internet dating site.”
     Cupid blew out a smoke ring. “I’m trying to help you, bonehead, and you’re gonna insult me?”
     “Sorry. I’m ready when you are...”
     The next thing Jeremy knew, he and Cupid were standing in the middle of a milling Central Park crowd, which included a bevy of beautiful women. He was accustomed to women looking through him, but evidently, they couldn’t see Cupid, either. No way they could’ve ignored a diaper-wearing cigar-chomping dude toting a humongous bow. Then again, this was New York…
     Cupid lifted his bow. “Ready?” Jeremy nodded, and a multitude of golden streaks shot through the air. Must not have hurt any of those lovely ladies. No flinches. In fact, most of them didn’t even lift their eyes from their cellphones and tablets.
     “Well, I did my part,” Cupid said. “The rest is up to you. Open your heart… and your eyes… and you’ll run into love today.” He waggled his fingers again. “It’s your destiny. Blah, blah, blah.”
      With that, he disappeared, leaving Jeremy standing alone in the crowd. Alone. Just like always. With hope in his heart and a tentative smile on his face, he looked at each woman who passed.
     Nothing happened. No one paused. No one looked his way. Nothing changed. Feeling like the world’s biggest fool, he finally started walking toward home. The more he walked, the faster he moved, with his head down, and the mantra, loser, loser, loser sounding in his head. By the time he made the last turn onto his street, he was all but running.
    In his defense, he didn’t notice the freckle-faced brunette coming his way, so he was just as surprised as she was when he plowed into her. “I’m so sorry,” he said, as he reached down to help her back onto her feet. “Are you okay? I didn’t see you.”
     When their hands touched, her face blushed a lovely shade of pink. “I know you,” she said. “You’re Jeremy Love. We live in the same apartment building. I’ve seen you around plenty, but at last, we finally... meet.”
     He smiled, temporarily lost in her eyes. “Really?” he said. “I’m sorry. I don’t know your name…”
     “It’s Wright. Miss Wright.”
     He laughed. “Of course it is. Would you like to go out for coffee sometime, Miss Right?”
     “How about now? And you can call me Destiny.”
     Jeremy’s nose tingled with the scent of roses and cheap cigar. Cupid, standing beside him once again, pulled out his cigar, and said, “Don’t mess it up, bonehead.”  Then he winked, and disappeared in a puff of pink smoke.
                                                       *      *      *      *
If you're looking for the love of your life, stop. He will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. [Dave Radparvar]

They say love hides behind every corner. I must be walking in circles. 

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, February 3, 2017

One More Time!

Hi-ya. Nope, I'm not HERE today. For the last time this week, I'm guest blogging with the really real housewives HERE

Come on over! Today's an anything goes kinda day on that blog, so my post is about so-called mid-life crises, and how old age ain't all bad. (Really!)

Dudes, you come on over, too. This isn't an all-girls club, ya know.

Y'all have a fantastic weekend. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Oh yeah, and GO, FALCONS!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Higher Expectations

Thought for the day: A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.  [Thomas Mann]

I never thought about it before, but now I'm inclined to believe Thomas Mann's quote about writing  may very well be true.

It's kinda like when I was a child. Whenever I had the opportunity to play a piano, I'd sit there for glorious lost-to-the-world hours, pounding and teasing the keys, even though I'd never had a single lesson, and didn't have a clue about what I was doing. I didn't know how to play, and knew nothing about tempo or playing chords; I just poured myself into the experience with reckless abandon. No doubt, the noise I was creating was sheer torture for anyone within earshot, because I didn't give a good diddle about hitting the right notes. I wasn't thinking about the people who were subject to my senseless noise; I was thinking about my own enjoyment.

It's the same with writing. Those who know nothing or care nothing about the basics of writing scribble whatever comes to mind, regardless of spelling, grammar, or whoever might be subject to reading it.  But a writer? A writer expects much more of himself. He wants his words to create something wonderful and truly worthwhile. It isn't enough to use words; they've got to be the right words, and if he's very lucky, they strike the right chord with his readers. Writers don't want to make readers cringe like a certain little girl pounding out those sour notes used to do.

As you can probably tell by that badge up there, it is once again IWSG day, when writers all over the world are encouraged to share their ups and downs with each other. Thanks go out to Alex Cavanaugh, ninja captain extraordinaire, for coming up with this super idea. If you'd like to join this caring group or read the posts of other writers, please go here

Okeydoke. I don't have anything to complain or crow about this month. I'm looking forward to (gulp) being the guest speaker at a book club meeting later this month, and I'll let y'all know how it went next month.

So on to this month's question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

For life-long addicts to the written word, reading is a vital part of our existence. As a child, I consumed books indiscriminately like a plague of locusts leveling a wheat field. Some books I loved, some I liked, and others I liked less, but I always enjoyed the experience of reading, and never criticized the work. If I was reading, I was happy.


As an adult, I still read a lot of books. Our house is full of them. Bookshelves everywhere. Books in every room. Books in the attic. If I wanted to, I could build a wall with books. (But why would I want to do that? Then no one could read them.) When I was considering buying a book at a yard sale, Smarticus wanted to know why in the world I wanted another book. I already had hundreds of them. I said, "But I don't have this one." He couldn't argue with that, and neither could the gal selling it. She laughed and gave it to me for free.

But as a writer and an adult, my reading has become much more discriminating, and my reactions are much more critical. I notice misspellings. Bad grammar drives me up the wall. Poor plotting and cardboard characters annoy the stuffing out of me, and poorly constructed sentences... especially in the newspaper... are endlessly aggravating. Perhaps because I employ a pushy nit-picking internal editor when I'm writing, I can't shut her down when I'm reading someone else's work. I find myself judging what I read instead of simply enjoying it. In short, as a writer, I have an even greater appreciation and admiration for beautiful writing, and much less patience for sloppy writing.

I still crave... and sometimes find... books that are so beautifully written, they sweep me away and engulf me in a wondrous world populated by exciting ideas and characters, but it isn't as easy as it used to be. Darn it.

Are you more aware of errors in the things you read than you used to be, or is it just me? Or... are there simply more errors?

                             Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. I'm experiencing a bit of a split personality today. In addition to being HERE, I'm also guest blogging with the really real housewives HERE

How about popping in over there, too? And it'd be extra nice if you'd sign on as a follower while you're there. It's a super blog run by four super ladies, and they and their guest bloggers always come up with lots of interesting and helpful tips and advise. I'm offering some health tips today... and some of them might even be true!