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
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
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
Manslaughter for FREE! July 7, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Bulletin Board, Fiction, Humor.
Tags: Amazon Kindle, Fiction, Humor, Laughter, Short Story
The first story I read, Hot Dog Stand, is the funniest tragedy I’ve ever had the pleasure to inhale in a single gulp.
Dianne has a way of twisting tearful situations into humorous anecdotes that are full of joy to counterbalance the pathos.
You’ll want to read more.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Moment of Truth April 30, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, People, Writing & Writers.
Tags: Books, Edgar Award, Fiction, Legal Thriller, Lisa Scottoline
Don’t be surprised if you can’t put it back down.
Despite pot holes in the plot (and a few sheer impossibilities to steer around), this story gives readers an insider’s view at how police officers and district attorneys put cases together ~ piece by piece.
We also see how legal theories fall apart and collapse like a house of cards when constructed on an unstable foundation.
Nothing is certain until that final moment of truth . . . when the last piece of puzzle snaps into place.
I never noticed the puppeteer pulling strings.
From the book jacket:
Attorney Jack Newlin comes home one evening to find his wife, Honor, dead on the floor of their elegant dining room. Convinced that he knows who killed her ~ and determined to hide the truth ~ Jack decides to make it look as though he did it. Staging the crime scene so that the evidence incriminates him, he then calls the police. And to hammer the final nail in his own coffin, he hires the most inexperienced lawyer he can find, a reluctant rookie by the name of Mary DiNunzio, employed at the hot Philadelphia firm of Rosato & Associates.
Though inexperienced, Mary doubts Jack’s confession and begins to investigate the crime. She find that instead of having a guilty client who is falsely proclaiming his innocence, she as an innocent client who is falsely proclaiming his guilt.
With help from the most unexpected sources, she sets out to prove what really happened ~ because, as any lawyer knows, a case is never as simple as it seems.
From the author’s bio on Amazon:
Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author of seventeen novels including her most recent, THINK TWICE, and also writes a weekly column, called Chick Wit, for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has won many honors and awards, notably the Edgar Award, given for excellence in crime fiction, and the Fun Fearless Female Award from Cosmopolitan Magazine. She also teaches a course she created, called Justice and Fiction at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and regularly does speaking engagements.
There are twenty-five million copies of her books in print, and she is published in over thirty other countries.Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and her concentration was Contemporary American Fiction, taught by Philip Roth and others. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She remains a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area, where she lives with her array of disobedient pets.
I would love to meet Lisa for lunch in Philly some day, perhaps at Dickens Inn (now Cavanaugh’s in Headhouse Square) . . . just after sitting in on her Justice and Fiction class at the law school.
Aah . . . that’s better!
A Peculiar Party ~ Part Eleven April 1, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Synchronicity & Mystery, Word Play.
Tags: Fiction, Humor, Joke, Magic, Mystery, Word Play
“Isn’t that obvious? If I hadn’t sent the necklace, Betty wouldn’t have gone to the beach, she wouldn’t have gotten sand in her shoes, she wouldn’t have entered the alley to sit on the bench, and . . .”
“. . . Freddie wouldn’t have found the totem pole.”
“Quite right. It’s all connected. There are no inconsequential choices.”
“What’s to be done now? How can I find the spell-weaver?”
“You won’t. He will find you when the time is right.” With that, Madame Frieda stood. “Let’s go out to the garden. I have something to show you.”
The first, shaped like a toadstool, stood to my left. A small protected opening graced its front. I tried to peer inside the tiny portal, but my eyes couldn’t penetrate the darkness.
Madame Frieda shifted her weight. Her silk skirts rustling.
Eddie whispered. “That one doesn’t have anything to do with anything.”
Echoes of Star Wars. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
I whispered back. “You read Claire’s mind?” Eddie nodded.
And a plaque.
Drawn to the monument, I wondered about possible repercussions.
To read, or not to read.
That is the question.
I leaned forward. And stopped. There are no insignificant choices.
Claire laughed. “Go ahead. Read it.”
Madame Frieda tapped my shoulder. “You may trust Claire on this.”
I crouched and read the plaque. Twice.
I stood and stuck my head into the hollow stone. I hummed. I played with notes. Finding one to my liking, I sustained it, and felt a gentle vibration.
I must have struck the right chord.
Oblivious to all, I hummed. The world fell away.
The white noise in my mind disappeared . . . clarity taking the reins.
The last piece of the puzzle clicked into place.
I laughed out loud. And heard the sound echo in the Eternal Now.
From behind Madame Frieda, a new voice emerged.
I pulled my head from the hollow stone and met his gaze.
He laughed, sounding like Rafiki. “And now you know all.”
He puffed his pipe. “Tell us what you have learned.”
“To follow my instincts. To listen to my impulses. To heed my inner voice.”
“Good. Good. And now?”
“What else? I’ll go back to Freddie’s.”
He clapped his hands in delight.
At Freddie’s, I smiled at the transformation.
They’d been busy. Beds weeded and trimmed.
The fountain splashed.
Teddy strolled through the guests with a tray of drinks. “Hoppy to see you made it back, Ms. McGee.”
“Wouldn’t have missed it for the world, Teddy.” I selected a glass of wine and took a sip. “Aah . . . nectar of the gods. Much better than a sludge smoothie.”
Teddy grinned. “Freddie’s outdone himself this time, eh?”
“He has, indeed. Where might I find my . . . Best Froggie Friend? I’d like to have a word or two with him.”
“I suspect so. You’ll find him near the musicians.”
“Thanks, Teddy.” I walked across the patio, following the notes carried on the whispering wind. Fairy lights created a twinkling canopy overhead.
On the edge of the patio, a trio of musicians tuned strings. I saw Freddie out of the corner of my eye.
The musicians stopped playing to watch.
I clapped Freddie on the back. “You old bastard. Is everyone in Naples in on it?”
Freddie chuckled. “Not everyone.” I searched his face. Not even a trace of apology.
“Let’s see,” I counted his co-conspirators on my fingers, “Teddy, Betty, Flipper, the Wind in the Willows chef, Al, Eddie, Claire, Frieda, and the musicians. Did I miss anyone?”
Relaxing into the evening, I smiled at my old friend. “I should have suspected you when Al presented the Anything Goes appetizer. How Al managed to avoid fits of convulsive laughter is beyond me.”
“He’s the consummate actor . . .”
“One needs a consummate actor to serve plates of previously consumed crustaceans!” I sipped my wine. “I also should have seen your stamp when I heard Anything Goes playing at the Wind in the Willows.”
“We worried that might be the tell. Any lingering questions?”
“Can I trust you for answers?”
“Eddie wasn’t really reading my mind. You’d coached him, Claire, and Frieda.”
“And I’m guessing you used nitrous oxide when I arrived to cause me to go dizzy. But how did you manage it?”
Freddie grinned and pointed to his top hat. I spied a small hole in its center. “Teddy and Betty also had canisters aimed at you. From under his tray and beneath her bonnet.”
“You’re an evil genius! Why didn’t it affect you?”
“Frogs are impervious to laughing gas.”
“So no Frog Fog for you. Good to know. The dolphin? Robotic?“
“My latest toy. I programmed Flipper to offer you a seat and encourage you to sit back down.”
“You couldn’t have Obi Wan Kenobi prowling inside for a non-existent bridge game.” I laughed. “Bet I made you nervous when I whispered in Flipper’s ear.”
“A bit. The only button left to push was Flipper’s trademark laugh . . . which might not have been appropriate.”
With that, Freddie motioned the musicians. The theme for his elaborate April Fool’s Day hoax (starring Nancy McGee as The Fool) swirled through the night air . . . Anything Goes.
Aah . . . that’s better!
If you missed any installments, the entire story can be found at the Short Stories tab . . . or just click HERE!