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Make Mine Wry September 7, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Life Balance, People.

Brian-with-coffee-and-newspaper“My parents are driving me crazy. Every time they need a light bulb changed, they call me.  Every time the power goes out, they call me.”

“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?”

“And omnipresent?”

“Yes.  That too.  They believe I can be two places at one time.”

Fly“So, you’re their Super Hero.”

“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.”

“That’s funny.”

“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.”

Wikipedia ~ Insomnia

“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.”

Fred-'n-Barney“How did we manage without Smart Phones and iPods and Facebook when we were growing up?”

“Face time.”

“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.”

Tigger-Bouncing“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.”

“Sure does.”

“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, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Poetry, Word Play.

Digital-WorldWhat?  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.

Sad-TigerHmm . . . I’m not sure.
Something catchy.

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, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction.

Spoiler Alert:  This movie is best watched “in the dark.”  Avoid spoilers.

From Netflix:

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 enough.

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!

Thanks to Shree Jacobs for the recommendation!

An Open & Shut “A to Z” Caper July 29, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Life Balance, Word Play.

Attic Rat sniffed around the corners of the trap.  Baited with banana and Snickers, the trap beckoned.  Cautious by nature, Rat sat, wondering why he smelled a rat.

Downstairs, Two-Legger got up to feed hungry Cat.

Enticed by fragrant banana and chocolate, Rat decided to follow Nike’s advice, “Just Do It.”  Front paws with leggy claws stepped from the foamy insulation onto the trap’s smooth hard surface.  Grinning at the aromatic prize, Rat leaned further forward.

Hunched over his food bowl in the kitchen, pampered Cat inhaled breakfast.


Inching forward, Rat reached for the baited breakfast with bated breath. Just a bit more and he’d take a big bite of banana.  “Kind of Two-Legger to think of Rat up here in my humble attic domain.”

Licking his paws and rubbing his face and ears, Cat gave himself a quick bath.

Motionless, Rat sniffed the redolent air.  No danger apparent.  Only a hint of something pricked the edge of Rat’s consciousness ~ an intuitive warning?

Paws curled under his chin, Cat readied for morning nap . . . number one.


Quiet as a mouse and quick as a flash, Rat craned his neck to snatch the bait with sharp pointed teeth.  Rats!  Steel jaws clamped down, trapping him with a SNAP!

Tense Cat, startled from slumber, ears alert, heard trap snap Rat’s neck.

Unseeing, Rat breathed his last.  Vaulting up the ladder, Two-Legger peered into the stuffy attic and spied Rat, dead in the trap.  “Well, that’s that.”

Xenophobia had attempted to save Rattus Rattus from the baited banana trap, but Rat failed to heed the whispers within.  Yawning, heavy head on soft paws, Cat returned to morning nap . . . number one, determined to stay on schedule.

Picture 002c

“Zip-lock bags,” thought Two-Legger, “are perfect for disposing of long-clawed Rats caught in steel traps with a resounding snap.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  WP Daily Prompt ~ A to Z (Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.)

Manslaughter for FREE! July 7, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Humor.

Dianne has put her book of short stories on Kindle for FREE this week!

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.

And now you can . . . for FREE!
Snag your copy today.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Don’t Panic! July 6, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Humor.

Always on the cutting edge of science, art, literature, and technology, and determined to remain there, we watched The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy last night.

Just 42 days (and 8 years) after it’s release in theaters.

But time is nothing if not relative.

And it’s certainly not the only yardstick for a life well lived.

If you’ve seen the movie, which character did you like best?

I rather enjoyed Marvin, that perpetual naysayer of doom and gloom voiced by Alan Rickman.  Imagine Eeyore as an paranoid Android and you’ve got the general idea.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, here’s a trailer that might (or might not) pique your interest:

Aah . . . that’s better!

Illustration:  Wikipedia ~ Marvin the Paranoid Android (Fair Use)

Silver Linings Playbook May 2, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Health & Wellness.

On Tuesday night, we watched Silver Linings Playbook.

In it, a just released mental patient is reading through novels discussed in the HS English class his estranged wife teaches.

When Pat finishes Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, he throws it out the window in disgust and wakes his parents to express outrage that so many “must reads” have twisted unhappy endings instead of “silver linings.”  I share his wrath.

Here’s to finding silver linings in the midst of cloudy days, to being better (not bitter), and to living happily-ever-after on a moment by moment basis.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Moment of Truth April 30, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, People, Writing & Writers.

If you’re in the mood for a legal thriller full of unexpected twists and turns, pick up Moment of Truth by 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, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Magick & Mystery, Word Play.

IMGP3537bI stared at Madame Frieda.  “What do you mean, you set the wheels in motion?”

“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.”

IMGP2507bIn the garden, I noticed a number of stone monuments.

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.

Claire coughed.

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.

IMGP2518bI turned to my right and saw a second monument.  Taller than the first, it boasted a larger opening.

And a plaque.
Another 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.

IMGP2495bThe spell-weaver!

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.

Et tu?

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?”

IMGP3553bFreddie pulled out a chair for me, and waved at Rafiki. “The spell-weaver.”

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?”

IMGP3544bFreddie laughed. “Perhaps.  Try me.”

“Eddie wasn’t really reading my mind.  You’d coached him, Claire, and Frieda.”

“Of course.”

“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!

A Peculiar Party ~ Part Ten March 31, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Magick & Mystery, Word Play.

IMGP2753c“So, Eddie, tell me about Madame Frieda and her thoughts.”

“I can’t.”

I frowned.  “Why not?”

“The Telepathic Creed.  I can’t divulge what I’ve overheard, except to save someone’s life.”

Frustrated, I glared at Eddie.

“I thought I heard YOU say that you could be of assistance.  Seems you’re just wasting my time.”  I stood up, tossed my napkin on the table, and turned to go.

“Wait!  I can’t tell you what she THOUGHT, but I can tell you where she lives.”

I turned back.  Ashamed of my outburst.  “Sorry.  I didn’t mean to jump down your throat.  It’s just that I’m worried about Freddie, Betty, and Teddy.”

“No need to apologize.  I heard you the first time.  Your mind said it all.”  Eddie hopped down from the wall and motioned me to follow him.  “Let’s go.”

“You’re going with me?”

“Of course.  Frieda lives close by.  And she never opens the door to strangers.”

Within moments, we came to a small cottage, two blocks north of Fifth Avenue. Eddie rang the bell.

IMGP3168cWhen the door opened, I gasped at the ghastly apparition.

Eddie smiled in greeting.  “Hey, Claire.  Is Madame Frieda around.”

“Yes.  She’s expecting you.”

Claire turned.  Eddie hopped over the threshold.  I shut the door and followed them down a short hallway.

Claire said nothing else.  I didn’t know whether to apologize for my audible gasp or not.

Eddie leaned over and whispered.  “You would only need to apologize if you hadn’t reacted to her stage make-up.  Claire is somewhat of a drama queen.”

Reassured, I nodded.

Claire walked into an expansive library and announced us to Madame Frieda.

IMGP3552bI surveyed the space.

Comfortable sofas and over-stuffed chairs filled the room.

Elaborate murals hung on the wall.

Curtains framed the windows.

Eddie hopped past the coffee table and sat in an arm chair next to a checked sofa.

I sunk into the seat opposite him. Exhausted. The day had taken its toll on me.


Madame Frieda’s voice boomed out. “Eddie!  It’s been too long.”

“Frieda!  You’re looking stoic.”

Turning to me, Frieda smiled a small smile, reminding me of the Mona Lisa.  “You must be Ms. McGee.”

“I am.  I’m here because . . . ”

“I know exactly why you’re here.  I’m clairvoyant.  As is Claire.”

My words rushed out in rapid stream.  “Can you help?  What can you tell me about the alleyway, the totem, the plaque, or the spell-weaver?”

“The totem is as old as time itself.  Intended to be eternal.  Sand ever-flowing.  A fountain of time.”

IMGP3541bShe stopped.
As if that explained the all.

“I’m sorry.  The day is catching up with me.  I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.”

Claire sneered.  “No.  You wouldn’t.”

Madame Frieda glared at Claire, then returned her impenetrable gaze to me.  “Who sent the necklace to Betty?”

“I don’t know.  I didn’t ask.  I just assumed that . . . ”

Madame Frieda held up her hand.  “I sent the necklace to Betty to protect her from the spell-weaver.  And, instead, I set the wheels in motion.”

To be continued . . . 

If you missed any installments, the entire story can be found at the Short Stories tab . . . or just click HERE!