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Moving from Chicago to Kansas at the age of ten is bound to have some affect on a kid. I was a Polish/Irish boy in the land of Smith/Jones(s) . Humor became my go to coping mechanism and reading/science became my refuge. That is the recipe that created the person that I am today, an engineer who, um, shall we say “sees the world differently”. I am no longer in Kansas. They were done with me quite a while ago. I am currently roaming the wilds of Colorado but where ever I go people always tell me I’m “unique”. I am sure they mean it as a compliment.

Beatdown In Vegas

This is part of a story started here->

After further inspection, he decided the back of his eyelids had not changed since the last time he visited them.

He came to in what he assumed was the back room of his last known location, a Vegas pawn shop. If not, it should be. The essence of nicotine was strong here. So was the pain.

“I told you your lifespan had a limit and there is no aftermarket warranty,” said Ivan.

He didn’t know his name, “Ivan” just fit.

He also had no idea what this man was saying. Oh, he understood the man’s English, it had no problem cutting through the fog that currently enveloped his mind.
He just didn’t know the reason for the beatdown.

“May I trouble you with a question oh kind sir?”

Immediate pain to the back of his head rudely suggested that sarcasm was not the proper tact to take with this individual.”

“I told you to knock it off with the noir crap.”

His original opinion on the man’s English changed. He wanted to give him a dictionary with the word “noir” hi-lighted but two other thoughts convinced him it was not a good idea; 1) He was plumb out of dictionaries, 2) He was averse to continual pain.

“I apologize, I may have misunderstood your use of the word but how did I get here?”

“You walked in here you fool.”

“Yes, but why am I duct-taped to this chair?”

“Really? Is that your only question?”

“Is asking “Who is your decorator?” out of the question?”
Again, pain danced on the back of the head.

“Ok you want to keep the style to yourself I get it.”

“I told you that you had one week to pick up the package and two weeks to turn that into the two hundred big ones for me.”

His first reaction was to come back with a remark about keeping his private life private but decided the ensuing beatdown was not worth it.

“Who am I, David Copperfield?”

Head meet your new friend pain.

“I apologize, I should have gone with someone less dated. Chris Angel perhaps?
Cue the lights….


Vegas, Most Dreams Die Here.

Vegas, most dreams died here. His came alive.

Vegas, he anticipated his return. His last visit tantalized the possibilities. It wasn’t so much what had consciously happened, it was what he couldn’t control.

Gravity boots supported by the broken nose union.                             Blood rushing to his head, vivid dreams indeed.

He awoke to a nightstand holding a pawn ticket for something he never owned. He began to revisit the concept of vivid.

A few years passed. He still had the pawn ticket and he found himself back in Vegas. He checked out the address of the pawnshop. It was not far from the hotel. What harm could it do? Well, to be honest, a few broken bones and multiple contusions but that was an afterthought.

It was dark, it was seedy, it was a pawnshop. It met his expectations for what a pawnshop could and would ever be. From a writers perspective it was perfect.

The moment he entered the establishment he knew he made a grave mistake.

The man behind the counter was the proprietor he assumed because in his limited experiences pawnshop proprietors always looked like they could do with an ironing and extra starch.

He also did not look happy to see him.

“Do you have the ticket,” asked the man in a thick accent. He had seen enough bad television shows to recognize an eastern European accent when he heard one.

“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it.”

“Enough with your noir bullshit,” he said.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Then there was pain and darkness.

Night Of The Pompadour

In a nondescript bar not far from Capitol Hill ceiling fans were blowing away the last few days of August.

The nondescript bartender had been polishing the same glass for 20 minutes.  Convinced he had removed any spots and a few layers of history he placed the glass on a shelf and sighed. He was somewhat depressed that he was wasting  energy displaying his professionalism to an empty bar. He picked up another glass in hopes it would trigger some patronage.

Hell, he’d welcome a stray lobbyist if it broke up the monotony.

What he really could use was a visit from Mr. Panama or The Bearded One but they had not made their shadowy presence known at the bar since “The night of The Pompadour.”

He shivered at the thought.

The front door opened blasting away his chills with warm rays of sunshine.

“Your rang,” asked the silhouette of Mr. Panama in the door frame.

“Not really, but I was wondering what you have been up to.”

“Trying to lie low since the night of the Pompadour.”

“I know the feeling. I can’t sleep because of it.”

“Really, That disturbing?”

“I keep having these dreams about that hair coming to life and taking over the country. It’s a bit like that movie The Blob.”

“In a way that kind of came true.”

“Yea, and there’s no Steve McQueen to save the day. That’s why I’m scared to fall asleep. I’m wondering what it’s going to do next.“

“And it has a twitter account. Don’t forget that.”

“Thanks, got any Ambien?”

“None to spare. I need all the help I can get.”

Mr. Panama took a seat at his usual table and ordered a beer.

“Have you seen the Bearded One lately,” asked Mr. Panama.

“No, the both of you pulled a disappearing act.”

The front door opened casting a shadow of the Bearded One across the floor.

“You rang,” he asked.

“How do you guys do that,” asked the bartender.

“Do what,” replied Mr. Panama and the Bearded One in unison.

“Never mind. So where have you two been?

I haven’t seen you around here in months.”

“Lying low trying to disassociate myself from The Pompadour,” replied Mr Panama.

“I followed suit,” said The Bearded One.

“What’s going on with the Penny Cabal,” asked the bartender.

“The what,” replied the Bearded One.

“You know the conspiracy to keep the penny in circulation.”

“Oh, that,” replied Mr. Panama. It no longer amuses me.”

“Amuse you?” exclaimed the bartender.

“It’s not longer fun for me either,” said the Bearded One.

“The Pompadour has turned the conspiracy into something pedestrian,” injected Mr. Panama.

“Yes,the thrill has gone,” added the Bearded One.

“So it was just amusement for you two. There was no real effort to keep the penny in circulation,” asked the bartender.

“Nothing we were involved in,” replied Mr Panama.

“No one cares about the penny,” added The Bearded One.

“You could have told me,” said the Bartender.

“And ruin the fun?” replied The Bearded One.

“So now what I do for amusement” asked The Bartender.

“Get a life,” replied Mr. Panama.
Truer words have not been said, thought the bartender.

Below The Shimmer

Fall leaves captured by a lonesome wind danced  above the ripples of the clear mountain lake.
He had been poised by the edge for some time now.
When it was warmer and he was younger, he could stand here spellbound for hours.
It had been enough to be near the lake’s beauty.
He was always attracted to the sun rays bouncing off the surface.
He was always attracted to the shimmer.
Every so often, he had summoned his courage to wade out and dip below the surface.
The experience always left him wanting. The shimmer never greeted him among the depths.

The edge of an inbound wind bit into his cheeks snapping him out of days gone by, reminding him of past disappointments.                                It would be easy to turn his back and return to his car with the promise of his warm home that lay just around the bend.
Sunset was just hours away.                                                                                   The window to yield to temptation, to take a risk  once again was closing as quickly as the falling temperature.
“I am not old yet he thought.”
He let his cloths drop at the edge of the lake and stepped forward.

An exercise in writing inspired by the Daily Post.

Age Gracefully or You Do What You Want

This particular posting is contrary to my usual style.  I tend to fictionalize most of my rants but in this particular case it was difficult to channel my ranting into a more creative form.

Sometimes the rant must be set free to do what it does.

A headline caught my eye the other day.  It read  “Ten Things Men Over 50 Should Never Do.” I usually skip by such articles.  They seem to be in infinite supply. “ Things Men Shouldn’t own over 40,” “Clothes Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Wear.”

These lists are subjective although I think we can all agree that men over 40 should not own a speedo. Can I get an amen?

Now, given that the article appeared online on a website called ExecutiveStyle, I expected something stodgy and soul crushing and I was not disappointed.

I casually read the list, without pen or notepad , and chuckled my way through it .

You may be surprised to find that I did not take it seriously . If so , you must be new to this site.

I laughed, maybe even giggled , along until I arrived at # 7. “Wear A BaseBall Cap”

Excuse me Joseph Stalin. Does the Department of HomeLand Security know about you?

Apparently a Fedora , Panama Hat or in some cases a Top Hat are acceptable but nothing else.

Listen pal, just because your little polo helmet isn’t popular, or comfortable in the heat, doesn’t mean you can throw shade at the chapeau of our national pastime.

Number seven had actually changed my mind as to the flavor of the article. Initially, I was skimming the article with the idea that the author had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

I decided to go back over the previous points with a new belief about what orifice the author had his tongue planted in.

The first item was “Ride a Scooter”, the foot propelled type.  You should’t do it , not because you could fall and brake your hip , but because you would look either poor or silly.

I am not sure for him what would be more embarrassing He also lumps in riding a recumbent bicycle by the same rule.

 Hey I live in Boulder. We all look silly here for many reasons and we like it that way. SometimesI get up in the morning, look in the mirror and ask myself “How can I look silly today?” Not surprisingly, I succeed quite often.

Number two on the list I could not fault him for and it’s the item that convinced me he was absolutely serious.

2. “Take Ecstasy” I am not going to fault him for that. I agree it’s not a good idea. Purely for health reasons. It’s just not good for you. Not much to debate. I would contend no matter what your age you should never do it.  That was the only salient point on his list.

Number three was do not wear shorts in the city. I am assuming that the author believes he looks silly in shorts. Maybe he does. Why he limits his short’s enabled jaunts to non metropolitan areas is beyond me. If it is to limit the amount of citizens exposed to his silly appearance I can understand it but usually embarrassment is caused by being seen by people you know. In that sense I think you would need to be more specific on what you mean by city.

In his case, maybe it should be “do not wear shorts in a section of the city where the ratio of people you know vs those that you don’t are greater than 1 in 100.” One of his alternatives was linen trousers so perhaps the rule should be tweaked to read “in a section of the city where the average dry cleaning bill is less than $1000 per week”
or “The ratio of Miami Vice fans to those who never heard of the show is 1 in 1000.”

Hey I don’t think I look particularly stunning in shorts but when its 95 degrees it’s the best alternative to going naked. Trust me, no one wins in that scenario. If I have to worry about dry cleaning the clothes I am wearing on the weekend then I might as well be working.

Only one other item on his list was worth mentioning. “5. Vote Green.” His reasoning was that everything is hopeless and voting green was for the young and deluded. Spoken like an old fart who’s contributed to the problem and is quite happy with leaving his children and grandchildren with a cesspool to clean up. We’ve all contributed.

When it comes to voting green your either part of the solution or its time to throw yourself into the recycling bin. Cremation is a nice way to return yourself to mother earth.

At some point, the article mentions we should age gracefully. You know what grace is? It’s a girls name popular in 1901.

The hell with grace. Do what you want.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light and then bury me in my Cubs hat. Thank you Dylan Thomas.

Hey, he would have been a Cubs fan if they had cable in Wales, in the early 20th century. His poetry would have still been just as dark. Maybe darker.

Marge 3.0 Has Arrived

The Marge 3.0 Has Arrived. TVParent has announced the latest update to it’s Alexa like product the Marge 2.0.

The new version of the Marge 2.0 cleverly named the Marge 3.0 will have the ability to see and is specifically designed to give fashion advice. I spoke to company president Irwin Mainway about their new product.

“Mr. Mainway, Isn’t your product the same as the new Alexa?”

“Call me Irwin and no. Other than video capability  that’s where the similarity ends.”

“But the new Alexa gives fashion advice and so does the Marge 3.0, does it not ?”

“Yes, but the approach is totally different.”

“How so Mr. , Um , Irwin.”

“The target demographic we have in mind for Margie is totally different “


“Yea, that’s our pet name for her around our office.”

“O-K-A-Y. “

“Anyway the target market we have in mind is skewed more to a male population lacking in significant others with which to guide them concerning fashion advice. “

“And that manifests itself differently how Irwin?”

“Well, for one Margie doesn’t use such big words like manifest. We try to be more direct with the customer. Perhaps an audio demonstration would make it more clear.”

“Yes, that is certainly , shall we say, more direct.”

“Oh I can say it. It’s more direct. The other product is going to dance around the issue and say things like “Sir, the color of that shirt is the wrong choice. It does not make your eyes pop.”Margie on the other hand will say “Sir, Are you color blind ? The color of that shirt in no way goes with those pants”

“You do realize many men are color blind. That could turn them off to Marge”.

“First of all, I don’t really want them to be turned on to Margie if you know what I mean. What are you some kind of freak. “

“Second of all, they know they’re color blind. That’s no frickin surprise to them but why should they announce that to the world from ten blocks away.”

“Good point and a good time to wrap up my discussion with Irwin Mainway about the upcoming release of Marge 3.0”

“You forgot to say it’s being released in two weeks at the very competitive price of $250.”

“Ok. Well there…”

“Say it. “

“TVParent will be releasing Marge 3.0 in 2 weeks at the very competitive price of $250”

“Nicely done.”


“You know your company name doesn’t really make sense unless you make TV’s.”

“Yea, we’re working on a name change.”

Thoughts For Today

The pain has interrupted another lucid and perhaps amusing thought. Time to put aside the current work in progress with a promise I will get back to it. I probably should just keep writing and while the cloud parked between my ears reminds me of some times I had in the eighties, the occasional sparks of lightning remind me it is not really a fertile planting ground for creativity.
It may be fortuitous that I find myself writing this on the cusp of Father’s day.  A day that reminds me of a man that was the king of “Bucking Up.”

In the past I have strung together some decent sentences in a form that some may actually have termed prose*. In my current state of mind I will not taint any of those previous efforts. Instead I will leave you with a few thoughts that come to mind when I think of my Father.

Thoughts for today.

Buck up.
Tough As Nails.
Charles Bronson.
Sinusz. (Polish for Sonny).
Da Bears.
English Leather
Hunter Safety Instructor
Midnight Shift
Working Two Jobs
Taking the boys to work.
road flares
Hunting with Dad.
A Toast to Casey on Father’s Day.

Love Dan.

*Click on the Father’s Day Tag of the post to see those.

Marge 2.0 – The Alexa Your Parents Raised

High Tech Company TVParent announces the release of their new Alexa like product. The Marge 2.0.  Its being billed as the Alexa that your parents raised.

The companies makers are hoping to be the television for next millenial+ generation or whatever they’re calling kids these days.

Our interview with a company representative, who declined to be identified, revealed the companies vision.

“We hope to reach that section of parents out there that long for the days when they could set their kids in front of the television and forget them for hours, without the worry of which video games are teaching them to kill , curse or pop a cap in a ho.”

We’ve surveyed many of todays parents and we believe there is a large market for a product to keep their kids occupied without any parent participation. You know kind of like school but like when they get home.”

After being granted a court order, we were able to obtain some of the survey comments which showed that  participants  believe their lives would vastly improve with such a product.

Response #18 replied – “Wow it sounds like that Marge would change my life , my golf game would greatly improve.”

Response #11 – “Sure they have video games but it doesn’t talk long before they reach thermonuclear armageddon or level out or whatever the call it and I have to buy them a new game. This sounds like I could ignore them at least until dinnertime.”

Response #23  -“Oh, sorry we don’t have kids. What was that dear, three of them? Oh, I guess I don’t need this product. ”

#Response #42 – “Wow, this Marge 2.0 sounds like a Godsend. You say It would never get tired of answering the same old questions over and over again, and probably give them the right answer 9 times out of ten. Wow. I just make up shit and they don’t seem to know the difference. Where do I get it?”

The company representative also replied to many critics who say its just an excuse to ignore your children.

“Pish Posh. They have plenty of excuses to ignore their children but to reassure the skeptics we have build in many of the same responses your mother’s used on you to keep you in check.
I couldn’t do them justice here . The audio we sent you is a good example.”

When asked if there was a Marge 1.0  the company representative referred to their legal team. The only available quote from the legal team was “The reports of injuries are greatly exaggerated.”

Cubs Win World Series. For a Moment Therapists lose Millions of Clients.

Economic reports just in show that the many of the  nations therapists have suddenly lost millions of dollars.

One explanation favored by several economists is that this therapeutic downturn is a direct result of the Chicago Cubs winning the world series.

We have decided to investigate this particular angle and have sent our reporter in the street, Roy Hobbes, to investigate the possibility. Roy:

“Roy Hobbes here, I am on the streets of Chicago trying the get the pulse of the citizens in this city. I am particularly interested in the general mental well being of Chicago Cub fans. Here comes one now.”

“You sir are obviously a Cub fan can I ask you a question?”

“Uh, what makes you think I’m a Cubs fan?”

“Well, you’re wearing a Cubs hat.”

“Oh that, yea well I’m actually a White Sox fan but it’s more socially acceptable to be a Cubs fan.”

“Love the loyalty.”

“What was that Roy?”

“Nothing , have a nice day sir.”

“You young man, can I have a word with you .”


“Are you a Cub fan?”

“Uh, yea, I’m wearing  a Cubs cap, Cubs jacket and I have a Cubs tattoo on my face. What was your first clue?”

“Well, you just never know now do you? Can I ask you a few questions?”

“Why sure”

“So sir ..”

“You can call me Joe”

“Ok. Joe, how are you feeling these days?”

“Well , a little hung over and my knee is a little swollen from dancing but other than that I feel great.”

“Good but how about your psychological well being. Any anxiety these days/“

“Why no. Why would I? The future is looking bright and I feel I can tackle anything. I even threw away the number to my Psychiatrist.”

“How did you feel before baseball season?”

“Well, if I look back I have to admit I was full of anxiety like a beauty queen with Donald Trump hanging around. I was constantly on the phone with my therapist.”

“And what do you suppose is the reason for your new found tranquility?”

“Why the sudden loss of a 108 year old burden of course.”

“But sir, you can’t be a day over 50.”
“Ha, you flatter me but no I am talking about the number of years since the Cubs had won the world series don’t you know.”

“Why of course I know. I meant you yourself..oh never mind. Don’t you have more important things to worry about.”

“Like what?”

“Oh you know the outcome of the recent election.”

“Oh, yea. Um, you do have a point. Excuse me….”

“Hey , Joe,” yelled Roy as Joe ran swiftly away.

“Where are you going?”

“To my garbage before its picked up. I think I can get my therapist’s number back!”

Ray watched as Joe became a small dot before he heard the screaming.

“Reminds me of an old party balloon,” thought Roy.

“Well, there you have it. Further proof that a career in therapy is recession proof. I am Roy Hobbes your reporter on the street signing off.”

“Thanks Roy. Great to hear that you’re making sure that people don’t forget to worry. I think he’s in some kind of referral program with the APA. That reminds me, I need to give my therapist a call.”

Black Friday: The Fun Room Revealed

“Oh my what? Let me see,” said Yo as he rolled in to the Fun Room.

“Wow, what a fun room,” said Yo.

“Hence the name ,” said Larry.

“Vow, that looks like quite a lot of fun,” smirked Jan peeking around the corner.

Sprawled before them lay a large room bounded by several chests of toys. At the center was a large, plush and inviting area rug. The wall at the far end was made up entirely of uniformly spaced book shelves. The uniformity was broken up by the center shelf which framed a large television.

“If Xena is here she may not want to leave,” said Yo.

“You think so?,” asked Larry.

“You think she would leave this room-o-fun to come to back to the Big Box. What do we have to offer,” asked Yo.

“Well, I’m part of the package,” replied a forlorn Larry.

It’s tough to tell when a box is forlorn but his corners were droopy and his cardboard top was a bit damp.

From out of the darkness the gang heard a sleepy voice mumble “Hey, could you newbies find a place to crash so I can get back to sleep.”

“Xena?,” exclaimed Larry.

Shining the bat utility light in the direction of the voice, Larry found himself looking at gleaming black box on a shelf below the big TV.

“Is that you Larry?”

“Yes, it’s me Xena but I don’t recognize you. If it wasn’t for the sweet voice of yours I wouldn’t know who I was talking to.”

“That’s right you’ve never seen me outside of a box.”

“Well, we’re here to rescue you from , um, what is this place?”

“It’s a homeless shelter for families Larry. Families stay here while we help them get back on their feet.”

“Oh. Sounds like a good place.”

“Oh it is.”

“So, you wouldn’t want to come back to the Big Box with me, or us ?”

“Which is it Larry? You, or us?”

“Well, I miss you, so me. They want you back also, so us too.”

“Larry, I’ve missed you and I’ve missed the rest of the gang too but I finally feel that I have a purpose here. The kids need me. I bring joy to them and I think they really need some of that in their lives right now.”

“Oh. Yea that sounds much more important than anything at the Big Box,” said Larry as his drooping corners became more noticeable.“

“Don’t be sad Larry. I have an idea. Why don’t you and the rest of the gang just stay here.”

“Is that possible?”

“Of course Larry. All kinds of things are always getting donated here, clothes , books and obviously toys. No one will be upset if more toys suddenly just show up.”

“Well, I would like to free my inner lego set and bring joy to some kids. This 10,000 piece puzzle box disguise is harshing my mellow,” said Larry as he
looked at Yo and winked.”

“Yea, I see what you did their said Yo.”

“What do think guys,” asked Larry.

“Well, I guess I can put up with tossing my string more often if I can bring some smiles to some kids,” said a smiling Yo.

“Why not my fine chums,” said Batman. ” The Batmobile needs a charge anyway.”

In unison they all nodded their heads and said yes.

Stosh was a little too vigorous in his head shaking but with a click Jan had his head popped back into place.

“Well it settled then,” stated Xena.

“Wait a minute,” said a new voice. “No one asked me.”

“Is that you Robin my fine feathered chum,” asked Batman.

“Holy short term memory loss, of course it is Batman.”

“Well is it ok with you chum?”

“Of course I can’t stay mad at you.”

“Well, I am glad that’s settled,” said Xena. ” Larry, when we get some alone time we should talk. I think we both have some unsaid things to be said.”

“Oh, yes I suppose we do.”

“Where has our coiled friend gone to,” asked Batman.

Yo rolled to the doorway, “He’s stuck to the carpet again. I think he’s going to need all of us with hands this time.”

Larry shrugged his corners and smiled, ”I guess that leaves me out.”
He shuffled over to Xena. “So, lets talk shall we.”

Xena looked down and smiled. “Yes, I would like that.”