Her June 18, 2014Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.
Tags: Fiction, Her, Mindfulness, Movies, People
In the Spike Jonze movie, Her, Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson are perfect for each other . . . if you’re willing to overlook the fact that Samantha is the Operating System of Theodore Twombly’s computer.
The new wave of artificial intelligence packaged with a sexy voice.
Her, a quirky, amusing, and thought-provoking film, reminds me of issues raised in Robot & Frank, when Frank Langella, a retired cat burglar who’s tired of retirement, befriends a robot and creates a shared history.
In these days of cyber friendships, when gadgets and apps connect us via screens around the globe, the criteria we use to evaluate relationships is changing.
Someday, perhaps, dating an Operating System will be commonplace.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Have you seen the film? What’d you think?
Related post: The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Häagen-Dazs & Pretzel: A Fairy Tale March 22, 2014Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: Contest, Fractured Fairy Tale, Humor, Writers, Writing
Once upon a time, an extremely unattractive and petulant misanthrope grew tired of living in close proximity to a bunch of Nosy Parkers.
“Hell is other people,” Mizzie Borden muttered while stirring a cauldron of Cream of Newt Soup. “Always butting in where they don’t belong.”
She decided to follow Thoreau’s footsteps into the woods. She surfed MAXEDOUT.com and found a small cottage with a large oven and great curb appeal. Real eye candy.
Mizzie purchased the cottage without requesting a home inspection. An army of ants nibbling the gingerbread siding wasn’t the worst of it.
Walden Township raised property taxes, FEMA hiked flood insurance premiums, and subsidies under the Unaffordable Health Care Act never materialized.
Desperate to make ends meet, Mizzie advertised on Angie’s List as an unlicensed child care provider (a/k/a “a babysitter”).
The next day, a woodcutter left Häagen-Dazs and Pretzel in Mizzie’s care.
“I’m off to protest mountaintop removal by short-sighted privateers intent on raping the earth of its coal. Soon, there won’t be any trees left for me to cut. I’ll be back at 5.”
Häagen-Dazs and Pretzel proved to be both crude and rude.
Impatient for lunch, they pulled the gingerbread siding off her cottage and ate it. Ants and all.
When the woodcutter didn’t show on time, Mizzie shoved Häagen-Dazs and Pretzel into the oven for a “time out.”
Unbeknownst to Mizzie, the oven was blazing.
“Oh, well. I warned Häagen-Dazs not to play with matches.”
Following a half-hearted investigation plagued with bureaucratic foul ups, bribery, and corruption, the police dropped all charges. Mizzie returned home and became a writer (the best occupation for misanthropes).
Unable to find a publisher for her horror stories and fractured fairy tales, Mizzie self-published. Fueled by her recent notoriety, Eat Mor’ Children took off in a blaze of tweets.
Paparazzi became a nuisance, sitting in trees with long lenses.
“Every blessing is cursed!”
Mizzie stormed the glade, “Get off, the lot of you! Go shoot Cumberbatch’s bitches!”
When entreaties failed, Mizzie invited them for lunch. As lunch.
If not for government-sanctioned invasions of privacy, Mizzie would have lived happily-ever-after.
“No one’s gonna miss a few pesky paparazzi.”
Except for other Nosy Parkers.
NSA (National Screening Agents) intercepted Mizzie’s e-mails, including her recipes for “Paparazzi Primavera” and “Children Cacciatore.”
“Hell is other people,” Mizzie muttered, when arrested. ”Always poking about where they don’t belong.”
* * *
Join the fun ~> Susanna’s March Madness Writing Contest is Here!
Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. ~ Lawrence Clark Powell
Related post: A Fairy Tale Tribunal
Illustrations: Wikipedia ~ Hansel & Gretel (in Public Domain)
No Regrets January 28, 2014Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness.
Tags: Anger, Fiction, Happiness, Health, Pain, Wellness
David, hat in hand, stood framed in the doorway.
“David! Come in . . . it’s so good to see you.”
He hung back. “I figured you’d never want to see me again.”
“I do want to see you. Very much. Please come in.”
He looked at Barb and frowned, “This is all my fault. You’re stuck in here because of me. If I hadn’t dropped you . . . “
“It was an accident.”
“You make it sound like I spilled a glass of milk.” He nodded at the chart at the foot of the bed. “What do the doctor’s say?“
“Well . . . the psychiatrist is frustrated. He’s waiting for me to be angry. Or sad. Or angry. Angry would make him happy. He wants me to grieve. To rail against fate.”
“Why don’t you?”
“Besides the fact that I’m getting a kick out of doing the unexpected?”
“Yeah, besides that.”
“I don’t know. I’m just not angry. The psychiatrist is sure I’m in denial. He scowls when I smile and shakes his head when I laugh and tell him about my day. He scribbles madly on my chart when I say anything positive.”
“So you’re driving him crazy.”
Barb grinned. “Yes. And I take great pleasure and pride in that.”
“Maybe you are in denial. Maybe it just hasn’t caught up to you yet.”
“Maybe. But I don’t think so. I think I’m in a state of acceptance. At peace with the “what is.” Any day could be my last. If this is my last day, why would I want to spend it crying over spilled milk?”
“This is NOT spilled milk, Barb. You’re paralyzed from the waist down. I ruined your life. Forever.”
Barb reached out and touched the back of David’s hand, “No, you didn’t.”
“How can you say that?”
“Easy. Even in a wheelchair, I’m not as crippled as those who allow emotional scars to eat them alive. People like that walk through life without seeing the good. They are blind to the present moment. Being paralyzed may keep me from walking, but it’s not going to blind me to the wonder and delights of life.”
“I just want those 5 minutes back. If I hadn’t been showing off . . . “
“Let it go, David. I forgive you. Forgive yourself. Let go of the guilt. Let go of regret. You’re my best friend. I don’t want you to destroy your life.”
“You mean like I destroyed yours?”
“Shall I be honest?”
“Yes. Give it to me. I can take it.”
“I would not choose to be in a wheelchair. But I don’t get a choice in that right now. It is the “what is.” How I relate to that issue is the issue. I can crawl into a ball and cry . . . or I can look for opportunities to laugh and smile. I can hang on to anger . . . or I can embrace peace. I can choose to be sad . . . or choose to be happy. I choose happy.”
Barb reached out again and covered David’s hand with hers. “I want you to do the same. For me. Be happy. Live life with no regrets. Find whatever joy you can. Don’t take life for granted. Life is good, but life is short. Bad things happen. Laugh when you can.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
Is happiness an inside job? Are we buoyed up or dragged down by the thoughts we choose to think?
Is Barb right? Does hanging on to pain, regret, guilt, fear, anger, and sadness weigh us down more than losing the ability to walk?
Quote to Ponder: How refreshing the whinny of a pack horse fully unloaded! ~ Classic Haiku
Just Cause January 27, 2014Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Life Lessons, People.
Tags: Fiction, Jury, Justice, Life, People, Trial
“I don’t care what the judge said. No way am I going to convict him. He and his family have been through enough already.”
Charlie grabbed the pitcher and poured a glass of water, sloshing some over the side of the glass.
Swiping the water off the conference table with his hand, he continued, “I would do exactly the same thing if anyone did that to my wife. That animal deserved to die.”
Joe jumped in. “Even if the guy deserved it, that’s not a defense. We can’t continue to exist as a civilized society if everyone who has a gripe against someone takes the law into his own hands . . . “
“A gripe?!” said Allison. “Give me a break! That fucker raped and tortured the defendant’s wife for hours while the defendant was forced to watch. As long as animals like that are roaming the streets, we cannot claim to be civilized. Sam did what any decent husband would have done. Not Guilty.”
“We can’t do that,” Steve said. “We took an oath. We agreed to follow the law. You heard the judge. We have no choice. He’s guilty.”
“Yeah, I heard him . . . and you heard me,” said Charlie. “I am NOT going to convict him of murder. I don’t care if we sit in this room deliberating for the next 12 months. You will NEVER get me to change my mind. That fucker, as Allison put it so well, deserved to die. That’s a sufficient defense for me. I vote to let Sam walk out of here a free man.”
Other jurors sounded in on one side of the debate or the other. Then Sue turned the tables by asking, “What about the psychiatric testimony?”
“What about it?”
“Well, the psychiatrist said that people can *snap* with less provocation than this, right?”
“Well, if Sam *snapped* that’s temporary insanity. We could find him not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.”
“We could . . . except that Sam testified that he knew what he was doing, he knew that it was against the law, and he did it any way.”
“Yeah, Sam didn’t leave us much wiggle room. It’s almost like he wants us to find him guilty.”
“You’ve got a point. Maybe he feels guilty about mowing the guy down with his car as the bastard left church.”
Cal snickered, “Perfect timing for a hypocrite like that.”
“Wait. Back up. Didn’t the judge say we could accept or reject ANY of the testimony?”
“He sure did.”
“Even undisputed testimony?”
“Yup. Hey . . . I see where you’re going. If we reject Sam’s testimony that he understood what he was doing, we can conclude that he was temporarily insane at the time of the accident.”
“Exactly! He’s not a psychiatrist . . . what does he know?”
Joe looked around the room, “You’re all determined to let this guy walk?”
Everyone nodded, except Steve.
Joe nodded in Steve’s direction, “What say you?”
“I’m not sure. The judge expects us to find him Guilty based on the law he gave us. But . . . “
* * *
The Courtroom stood at silent attention as the jurors filed into the jury box.
Barney O’Grady sat at the prosecutor’s table chewing on a pencil. Sam Williams, the defendant, stared down at his hands. His attorney, Jack Riley, attempted to read the jurors faces.
Several jurors glanced Sam’s way. Usually a good sign. Not always.
After the preliminaries, the Judge looked at the foreman, “Has the jury reached a verdict?”
“We have, Your Honor.”
“What say you?”
“We, the jury, find the defendant Not Guilty.”
“So say you all?”
“So say us all.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
What say you? Did the defendant have “Just Cause” to do what he did? Did the Jury?
Halloween Horror House October 30, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: Costume, Death, Fiction, Halloween, Haunted House, Murder
“Nah. Let’s ride the Ferris Wheel, Brad. It’s more my speed.”
“I thought you said you wanted to try new things.”
“I did, I do, but . . . “
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you. Just think how romantic it will be. The two of us, wandering through the dark, with only ghosts and ghouls for company.”
“I don’t know . . . “
“It’ll be fun. I promise!”
“OK. OK. Fine. Let’s go before I change my mind.”
Hand-in-hand, Karen and Brad groped through the dark doorway . Spider webs brushed Karen’s cheek, “Eeek!”
“It’s nothing, just some silly string.”
Unable to see, Karen slid her feet across the planked floor, straining to hear amid the screams that filled the house with decibels of surround sound.
The noise creeped her out. As did the dark. She let go of Brad’s hand to scratch her leg, then held her hand up in front of her nose. Nothing.
“I can’t even see my hand, Brad. Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough.”
Karen swung her arm out to reconnect with Brad, finding nothing but chill air.
“Stop playing around, Brad. It isn’t funny. Where are you?”
“I mean it, Brad. Answer me!”
Just ahead, Karen heard a gasp, followed by a scream, then laughter.
“Oh, my god! I think I stepped on a bloody corpse! Eww!”
Nervous laughter erupted from the group.
Karen inched forward in the dark. Being with a group of strangers would be better than being alone. Right?
Where the hell is Brad?
As she reached the group in front of her, a beam of light flashed over the bloody corpse splayed across the wooden floor.
Karen rolled her eyes in disgust, “Very funny, Brad! Get up now. I’ve had enough Halloween Horror for one night.”
The girl holding the flashlight pointed it straight at Karen. “You know this guy?”
Karen held a hand up to shield her eyes, “Yeah. That’s my on again, off again boyfriend. Soon to be ex-boyfriend if he doesn’t stop playing games.”
The girl aimed the flashlight at Brad, sprawled motionless in the middle of the dark corridor. She nudged the body with the tip of a black boot.
Karen stepped forward, “Brad, if you don’t get up right now, I’m going to kill you.”
“I don’t think he can hear you . . . he’s dead to the world.”
Karen noticed blood pooling under Brad’s head and started to scream.
She didn’t stop until the lights came on. By then, a flood of mummies and ghoulish figures surrounded Brad’s lifeless body.
Karen took in the surreal scene, transfixed by the blood. The girl with the flashlight touched her arm, causing Karen to flinch.
“We called the police. They’re on the way. I’ll stay with you until they arrive. They’re going to want to question you. I’m Rachel, by the way.”
Karen nodded, “I told Brad I didn’t want to come in here. I told him the Ferris Wheel was more my speed. He didn’t bloody listen. That’s always been his problem. He’s doesn’t bloody listen.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
Want more? For a True Ghost Story ~ When The Dead Refuse To Leave (Living on the Edge of the Wild)
Cackle . . . the Spooky Black Cat October 28, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: Black cat, Contest, Fiction, Halloween, Short Story, Witch
On a dark gloomy night in a gloomy dark wood
A black cat rapped as he prowled his hood
“Don’t mess wit me . . . cuz I’m all that!”
“They call me Cackle . . . the Spooky Black Cat!”
Trolling the corner of Cauldron and Newt
Cackle bumped into a chick in a witch’s suit
Raising one finger to the wart on her nose
Winnie applauded with glee, as Cackle froze
Cackle hissed and growled, arching his back
Winnie laughed at his antics, “Enough of that!”
She waved her wand with a “Zim Zither Zee”
Cackle’s hackles melted, “You’re THE witch for me!”
Join Susanna Hill’s 3rd Annual Halloweensie Contest ~> No tricks. Just treats.
Circle of Friends September 8, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Fun & Games, Humor, Music & Dance, Word Play.
Tags: Circle, Dance, Fiction, Friends, Humor, Sidey, Word Play
I scanned the room, wondering who had dredged the bottom of the gene pool to compile this motley mess.
Gyrating hips and hipsters occupied the dance floor.
Transfixed by the less-than-smooth moves of countless flailing limbs, I stood on the perimeter of the precipice, sipping a frozen margarita.
Is this what social gatherings had become in my absence?
A sea of misfits twitching and twisting and twerking around in a lawful, yet lewd, display of claimed carnality?
Satisfied this foray was not the way to expand my circle of friends, I fled the scene ~ claiming a pert and perky pink parasol as a suitable souvenir.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Jumble Prompt: Dredge, Occupy, Frozen, Social, Lawful, Entice . . . Circle of Friends
Related post: Sidey’s Weekend Theme ~ Circle
Make Mine Wry September 7, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Life Balance, People.
Tags: Family, Humor, Parents, Sandwich Generation
“They want you to restore the power?”
“No . . . they want to know how long it will be out.”
“How would you know that?”
“C’mon. Look at me. Can’t you see that I’m omniscient?”
“Yes. That too. They believe I can be two places at one time.”
“Yup. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. As soon as the power is back on, they need me to reset their cable box. Now. Running through the sequence takes no time at all, but driving 50 minutes round-trip is getting old.”
“Why don’t you write down the instructions for them?”
“I have. More than once. Each time they lose the list, they call me to ask me where they put it.”
“Sure it is . . . you’re not related to them. But they’re MY gene pool.”
“That’s a sobering thought.”
“One that keeps me awake at night.”
“Of course. Goes with the territory.”
“How about your kids?”
“Yes. They keep me awake at night too.”
“Sorry . . . I meant could your kids help with your parents?”
“Sure. If I could get them to put down their Smart Phones for 5 minutes to focus on the world around them.”
“What is the appeal of maintaining that constant cyber connection?”
“Beats me. The more plugged in they are, the more disconnected we become.”
“Right! How did we get from Point A to Point B without GPS?”
“It’s a mystery.”
“I guess we did a lot of re-calculating and re-positioning.”
“Using the stars to navigate.”
“Well, I don’t need a Smart Phone to tell me that caring for parents in their 80′s and kids in their 20′s is tough.”
“No wonder we’re called the Sandwich Generation ~ we’re the glue that holds it all together.”
“It pays to have a sense of humor.”
“Make mine wry.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
Here’s to maintaining a sense of humor whenever you’re caught between a rock and a hard place or just spread “too thin.”
Air Lock in Juneau September 5, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Fun & Games, Humor, Poetry, Word Play.
Tags: Air Lock, Alaska, Fiction, Jimmy Buffett, Juneau, Revue, Word Play
What? I’ve been transferred . . . to Juneau?!
Are you kidding me?
My wife will never agree to move to Alaska.
I’ll be single before the ink on the contract is dry.
I am being serious.
That crashing sound you hear is my impending divorce.
Believe me, I know.
Juneau is a “no go.”
When we tied the knot, I promised to love, honor, cherish, and . . . go where it’s warm.
Think Jimmy Buffet and his catchy rhapsody ‘neath swaying palms.
Yes, I know I’m up for review.
Yes, I realize the transfer might advance my career . . . but agreeing to go will mean the death of my marriage.
My wife will write, produce, and star in a one woman satirical stage revue about its (or my!) demise.
Perhaps “Air Lock in Juneau”?
I can’t go.
Aah . . . that’s better!
* * * * *
Prompt from Poets & Writers ~ Write a poem that incorporates the following words: transfer, single, impend, knot, rhapsody, revue, air lock.
Related post: An Appalachian Adventure
Side Effects August 31, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction.
Tags: Catherine Zeta Jones, Jude Law, Movies, Psychological thriller
Spoiler Alert: This movie is best watched “in the dark.” Avoid spoilers.
Emily copes with her depression by taking antidepressant medication. But when her dire state apparently spirals out of control due to her husband’s prison release, she turns to a new medication that alters her life forever.
That’s all you need to know about this fantastic film filled with twists and turns.
OK . . . you want a bit more?
This psychological thriller addresses the side effects of prescription medications, the introduction of experimental drugs to the marketplace, pharmaceutical payments to doctors, insider trading, and more, amid a story with a twisting plot line and a satisfactory conclusion.
The cast is perfect, from Rooney Mara as Emily to Jude Law and Catherine Zeta Jones as psychiatrists.
Aah . . . that’s better!