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My Back Pages - November

I read five books last month bringing my year to date total to 61, well past the 50 I estimated at the beginning of the year. And I've yet to get through December.

The month started out with The Nix, the debut novel by Nathan Hill which has been receiving a lot off positive reviews. In it Hill flips back and fourth from the 1968 Chicago protests and 2011 in a desperate search for the truth behind why his mother abandoned him at an early age. In between Hill takes on politics, the media and addiction as well as other aspects of society. It's a well-spun tale and I quite enjoyed reading it.

Next up was the auto-biographical I Am Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. This was somewhat of a scattered affair but an interesting read nonetheless. Wilson - or his ghostwriter - however is no Hemingway.

Then it was on to one of my favourite authors, Ian Rankin and his latest tale of now retired Inspector John Rebus, Rather Be The Devil. I never tire of these stories and this is the 21st in …

Aw Nuts

This week's prompt is scurrilous/defamatory.



Sammy the squirrel was tired. It was Thanksgiving and he was ready for a rest. He'd been busy since April gathering nuts. Most squirrels start gathering nuts in May but Sammy liked to get a leg up on his fellow members of the Scoriae family. Not a literal leg up, you understand. That sounds kinda pornographic. But a leg up in the sense of getting an added advantage over the other squirrels. Sammy worked hard to have the biggest nuts in t

The Bromance

This week the prompt is atelier/studio. Here's how I used the prompt.

Iggy and Pete were the best of friends. They spent a lot of time together. Be it with their wives and families or just hanging out together. A couple of guys.

Sometimes they played golf together. Other time they played board games. They even did jigsaw puzzles together. Of course the ones with plenty of sky were the toughest and usually took the longest to complete. They played video games and loved to watch football on television.

In all these endeavours they never really competed with each other. Their temperaments were similar and so they simply enjoyed whatever they undertook together. No pressure. They truly were buddies. Real man-men, whatever that means. Manly men doing manly things. Together. They really had a bromance going.

One day Pete and Iggy played poker. For money. And Iggy was losing. Big time. The more hands Pete won the cockier he got. For instance he told his friend he was bound to lose with a…

I Am Torn

The prompt this week is ignominy/embarrassment. I humbly submit the following interpretation.

I've always loved this song and I'm happy this post allows me to share it with you...




That's the official video. Now here's the "interpretive" one:




Sorry? What? You say the prompt wasn't Imbruglia? It was ignominy?

Well, this is an embarrassment.

The prompt people are Our Write Side and you can find other posts on their site at Two Word Tuesday

The Big Move

Most of Bob and Betty's friends found the couple engaging. Which was a good thing after a three year betrothal but no firm date set for the happy day. Not that the engagement day hadn't been happy. Nor the days since. But three years, thought Betty, this was pushing the limit. She wanted to buy a house with Bob, settle down, and have kids.

And then, without warning, Bob said they should set a date. Betty didn't have to be asked twice. So they set a date, sent invitations to family and friends, got married and set about finding a home together.

They used to laugh at all the couples on HGTV's House Hunters thumbing their noses at houses that weren't suitable or that were the wrong colour, or needed renovation work in the kitchen or bathrooms. They used to laugh. But now that it was their turn they weren't laughing.

Their agent took them to house after house at this end of town and that end of town and even out of town. Betty was moved to tears and Bob was grumpy…

My Back Pages - October

Well I hit my projected 50 books this year, and then some. Having read 46 by the end of September, another 10 during October brought me to 56 books read this year. And there's still November and December to take into account. It's been quite a year when it comes to me and the printed page.

October was as eclectic as ever with some music industry books, some old favourite detective tales and a little something new and different.

In the music category Pigs Might Fly, titled for a possible Pink Floyd reunion, was a great read. As was Bruce Springsteen's autobiography. This guy can really write and his story is full of great anecdotes. Also interesting but to a lesser extent were Apathy For The Devil by former British rock writer Nick Kent and Never Say No To A Rock Star by former record engineer Glenn Berger.

But I have to say the month was special in terms of returning to some of my favourite authors and a great collection of detective and investigative characters. Michael …

You Know You're Getting Old When...

Earlier this week the book I was reading wasn't doing it for me and as I sat there on the couch staring off into space my mind started to wander. I started thinking about how old I was and the life I've lived and how it all seemed to pass so fast over the last 64 years. Don't get me wrong. It's been a great life and there's very little I'd change but I was starting to think about my mortality and how my cancer over the last ten years had kind of put a crimp in things.

Remember the Who singing "I hope I die before I get old"? There was a time, years ago, I believed that. Not so much anymore.

And who can forget that line from the aging, tossed-aside film star Nora Desmond in one of my favourite films Sunset Boulevard; "I am big. It's the pictures that got small".

But like Desmond I'm not fooling anyone. Not even myself. I am old.

Like when I go to bed. Geez, I'm under the covers, hearing aids removed by 8:30pm. Good thing there…

Sounds Like...

Tom and Jerry were the best of friends. But their fellow Grade sixers were always making fun of them asking where their friends Tweety and Sylvester were. It really riled them that their so-called friends bullied them and referred to them as an animated cat and mouse.  They were;t cartoon characters. Or even folksingers. They were anything but. One day in the cafeteria they discussed the problem.

"I'd really like to squish those guy" moaned Tom to Jerry one day.

"Squish?" said Jerry. "That's a funny word."

"It's an onomatopoeia" replied Tom.

"On-a what?" said Jerry. "Sounds like something the dog did."

"Huh?" said Tom.

"You know, 'Spot, on the mat he pee, uh'" blurted Jerry laughing and blowing milk out his left nostril at the lunch table.

"No silly, it's a term for a word that imitates a sound."

"Burp" said Jerry after a long draw on his milk straw.

"Exact…

When You Gotta Go

It was embarrassing. Conrad hadn't had a poop in a week. No matter how hard he tried; no matter how long he sat it just wasn't happening. And he'd eaten enough prunes and ingested enough Benifiber to last a lifetime. After the third day his wife had jokingly started calling him Constipated Conrad. But to Conrad it was no joke. He needed to do something to rid himself of this accursed dilemma.

Then in the middle of the night Conrad had awoken doubled over in pain. The build up of bile was becoming unmanageable as was evident in what was happening in his stomach. His wife called 911 and an ambulance was dispatched.

Conrad didn't find it nearly as humorous as the ambulance attendants and he suffered through their questions of what he'd eaten and what he'd taken in an effort to break the dam, as it were. (Their words, not mine.) Wheeled into Emergency, Conrad suffered further indignation as the nurse asked him many of the same questions posed by the first responde…

My Back Pages - September

Damn, October already. And I'm not ready. Not for the cold, the snow, the sleet. None of it. Maybe I'm rushing things, but fall is definitely in the air as the leaves are starting to turn. So September's come and gone and I'm another 9 books under my belt since August. This brings my total reading this year to 46 books, four shy of my projected 50 for 2016.

It was an interesting month for reading, as eclectic as ever. I started out with a four-book bundle under the rubric of Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. This was recommended to me sometime ago by a good friend and I just never got to it until recently. It was a sprawling, science-fiction fantasy and while it took half th month to read was nevertheless quite enjoyable.

Next up was the new Ian McEwan novel Nutshell, a fascinating tale told by the fetus in his mother's stomach. I also read Emma Donoghue's latest, The Wonder. She wrote Room, if you'll recall. This one ws very different about a pre-teen in 18…

WTF?

Fiona and Frank Fiddler are in love. Fully. Completely. They must be. Fiona and Frank Fiddler have 14 children, all whose names begin with the letter "F". You know how parents with just a few children mix them up and run through their names until they hit on the right one?  One can just imagine the scene at the Fiddler dinner table. "Fred, Francis, Frank Jr. get your elbows off the table." "Fatima, Faith, Fannie stop picking your nose." "Farah, Fawn, Fay...which effin one are you again? Never mind, just pass the fish."

Before I forget I should share how this all began. Fiona and Frank met in Fiji, each while on vacation. Over a chance encounter and a fruity drink at the Hotel Fairmont bar they fell hopelessly in love. As the Beatles would say 'It would be a love that would last forever'.

Back home in Fredericksburg, Texas Fiona and Frank quickly became Mr and Mrs Fiddler. And while neither of them were musicians, it soon became obvious …

I Fought The Law and the Law Won

One day Robert and I were walking downtown when we came upon a burning building. It was sheer mayhem with tons of people watching the goings on. I turned to Robert and our conversation went like this:

Robert: Oh my God. What should we call this then?

Me: A herd of heroes?

Robert: Not quite.

Me: An army of ambulance drivers?

Robert: Good guess.

Me: A mob of medics?

Robert: Not what I was going for.

Me: A flange of firefighters.

Robert: That too.

Me: A  flock of fuzz?

Robert: Close.

Me:A band of men and women in blue?

Robert: You're getting warm.

Me: Not a parliament of police?

Robert: No.

Me: a draft of detectives?

Robert: Warmer.

Me: And their congregation of cars?

Robert: What?

Me: Okay, okay, how about a litter of lieutenants?

Robert: Nope.

Me: Okay, then a scattering of sergeants.

Robert: Sorry.

Me: Okay my last guess: A pack of privates?

Robert You're way off.

Me: Okay smart guy, what then?

Robert: Why it's a copse of cops!


The prompt from the people at Sudio30+ was co…

How Big Bob Met His Maker

If Big Bob Stiff had a weakness it was cheese. He loved the stuff. All kinds. Even blue cheese. If Bob had a second weakness it was fish. All kinds. But particularly sole. He loved it. The one drawback from eating all this cheese was that Bob was in a state of near constant constipation. But he didn't let it deter him. As a result Bob ballooned to 400 lbs. His wife left him. He got fired from his job. He was shunned by his friends.

One day, while surfing the internet, (Do we still say that?) Bob came across an ad for a tourist destination. It was a small, until now secret, island chain called Gouda and Filet. He read on. He was  enamoured by this perfectly named place in the Pacific Ocean and learned the spot was abundant in cheese and fish. Bob wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. For him it was a match made in heaven. After all, while cheese was available in Denver, it wasn't exactly a hotspot for fresh fish.

There was only one thing for Bob to do. He sold h…

Now That's Colourful

Giuseppe was from the old country. He himself was old. But he was reasonably well off, able to have provided nicely for his wife Roberta and his seven children Alberto, Bianca, Carlotta, Donato, Ernesto, and twins Francesca and Francesco. Giuseppe thought it was a good idea to stop at seven children because he realized there were 26 letters in the alphabet. Best to stop at F.

That many children in the house meant his days were filled with joy. Well, as much joy as possible after working ten to twelve hours in his workshop creating new colours that first his wife, then eventually a factory full of workers could use to dye the clothes they made for the family firm, Lululampone.

Giuseppe was quite famous for both the soft pastel shades of pink, mauve and baby blue he had created and later, by contrast, when he had grown tired of that the bright shades for the younger set of neon pink, fluorescent green and shocking purple.

One day a sports store company called Giuseppe and asked if he w…

Lonely

Brian fell into a deep dream-filled unconscious state. At least for several hours he could escape the pain. The pain of losing her.

But he dreamt of her. Of the life they had shared. Of the love they had lived. And a smile spread across his face.

But when he awoke his pillow was wet and the tears still ran down his cheeks. It was dark. It was still the middle of the night.

He slipped from beneath the covers and got up to pee. Returning to bed he noticed the lump on the other side of the mattress, that he'd grown so accustomed to over the years, was no longer there. The covers were flat. He'd have to get used to that.

And he'd have to get used to many a restless night, not to mention lonely days, without her. And he'd forever wonder why she did it.  The overdose of sleeping pills she'd taken had proven effective.


This week's prompt from Studio30+ was efficacious/effective. 

My Back Pages - August

Are you ready for this? I ripped through 12 books in August. Everything from detective novels, to fantasy fiction to a couple of autobiographies, including - believe it or not - Willie Nelson.

I've yet to come across a detective yarn I haven't liked and that includes the three-book bundle by Janet Ivanovich featuring a woman FBI agent and a high-prize con man who team up to catch the bad guys using elaborate deceptions.

The Two Minute Rule is the first Robert Crais novel I've read not featuring Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. It was enjoyable too.

The rest was quite an eclectic collection of hard-cover and e-book tales but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out two highlights in particular.

The first was the Neil Gaiman collection of essays, addresses and book introductions called The View From the Cheap Seats. This man clearly loves literature; reading it and writing it and it comes through clearly between the covers of this book.

The other great read this month was The Il…

Double Your Pleasure

Mary and Bob were doubly blessed. They were the parents of twin boys. But maybe blessed was a bit of an overstatement. Oh they loved their two children, to be sure. But they were a bit of a challenge. Right from the moment they were born they demanded a lot of attention. Waking during the night. Demanding to be fed. Not napping during the day. Poor Bob and Mary barely got a moment to themselves.

First came nursery school and then grade school and you'd think they'd have a moment's rest while they went to class, but shopping, errands and chauffeuring took considerable time out of each day. And the two boys loved sports. Soccer, baseball, football, hockey, basketball. You name it, they wanted to play it. They often were on different teams playing at different venues. But Mary and Bob were devoted to the two and gave them every opportunity.

Now many little boys are full of energy. it was the same with the twins. They'd run around the house, yelling, teasing one another. …

About Donna

Did you ever experience something, well, inexplicable? I have. And this is one such tale.

I was on my way to work. I'd left my car in the public parking lot and was walking the remaining several blocks to the office. It was a cool October morning. So much so I could see my breath. The sidewalk was crisp and a little slippery with frost. And the leaves on the trees, where else, were a cavalcade of fall colours.

My fellow commuting pedestrians rushed by, their noses deep in their smart phones. I wondered to myself how they avoided bumping into each other. I laughingly thought maybe those things had guidance systems that warned them of oncoming people.

Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye that didn't fit with this picture. It was a ragamuffin of a little girl sitting on the sidewalk, her back pressed up the wall of an office building for support. I stopped and stared at the girl who couldn't be any more than ten years old and wondered what she was doing out on th…

Wow, I Coulda Had a...

I remember in high school some buddies and I took our lunches across the street from the school grounds so that we could all smoke while we ate our lunch.

One thing led to another and we started telling jokes and acting silly until one of us, Pete Nolan as I recall, laughed so hard he blew his chocolate milk out of his nose.

Well, that was it. The rest of us, mouths empty of such liquid, laughed our heads off as we rolled around on the ground. Back then we didn't have the pretend ROTFL, let alone computers, hand-held phones and the like. Nope. We had the real thing. And we put it to good use that day.

Later on in life I experienced the real thing blowing such things as milk, juice and Coke out one or both nostrils. Messy stuff that. Now that I'm older I don't blow stuff out my nose anymore.  I'm too old for that. And I guess I don't find things as funny as I once did.

I think the last thing I blew out my nose was beer. Everything seems funnier with beer.

But you k…

The Not So Long Goodbye

Meet my friend Doug. Well, my former friend. See, Doug's a dialysis machine and he was my good buddy for the last six weeks. Six weeks, three times a week, 4 hours each session.

The good thing about Doug was he never once complained throughout those four hours when I'd read and not talk to him. Or when I drank my morning coffee without buying hime one. Nope. And he still supported me.

But all that changed today and it's a day I'm gonna remember for a long time. See, today Doug and I parted ways. Yep. That's right. I stopped needing Doug or any of his many friends because today I stopped needing dialysis.

Many of the nurses dropped by today to express their best wishes and some told me it was rare for people to come off dialysis. So Doug, you done good. And I'm sorry if I rushed out after my blood work without saying goodbye. But once the doctor pulled that line out of my chest I wasn't gonna stick around and press my luck.

So, fewer trips to the hospital. …

EE-I-EE-I-OH!

Betty and Barb were quite pleased with themselves. After three years of Agriculture College they were ready to put their studies to the test. Who said blondes weren't smart.

They first applied to a pineapple farm but thought the work was too prickly.

Then they tried working on a vineyard but quit expressing sour grapes.

Two openings were found on a vegetable farm but after a while they felt they'd bean there done that.

They then went to work on a banana plantation but soon felt it didn't have enough appeal.

They got really excited when they learned of jobs on a fig farm but then got disappointed they couldn't get any dates.

They placed ads for a job harvesting corn but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Then Barb told Betty of jobs she'd come across that she was sure they'd succeed at. Betty wasn't so sure.

"These jobs are tailor made for us" she said. There's a couple of sweet openings on a sugar beet farm."

"What makes you think we…

My Back Pages - June/July

I'm back! Miss me?
An extended illness and hospital stay prevented me from posting since the middle of June but I have nevertheless been reading up a storm. Four books in June and six in July puts me at 25 for the year - half way towards my end of year goal of 50.
I started June with Lust and Wonder(****) by Augusten Burrows, an author I've been reading since his Running With Scissors hilariously described his sorrowful childhood. This wasn't quite as good but nevertheless entertaining.
I then moved on to a trilogy recommended by a former colleague - the Lewis Trilogy(****) about a cop in northern Scotland. The Black House, The Lewis Man and The Chess Men filled the rest of my June's reading.
July saw me complete the the final volume of the Stephen King Trilogy, begun with Mr. Mercedes, titled appropriately enough End of Watch(****). As well, Jeffrey Archer's 6th instalment of the Clifton Chronicles - Cometh The Hour(*****) - came out and I devoured it too. Both b…

Traveling Along Singing A Song

Pete and Paulie were strolling along one day. The sun was bright, the air was cool, the birds chirped crazily in the trees and the squirrels  munched merrily on their nuts. Well not their nuts exactly. Nuts they found on the ground and in the gardens in the park.

Paulie felt so good he began to whistle. It wasn't any tune in particular, just one of those annoyingly tuneless whistles that wandered all over the place. Pete looked at Paulie and he squiggled up his nose and he said "What the hell is that?" Paulie replied "Oh nothing in particular. I'm just happy." "But you're not even whistling a tune" said Pete. Paulie replied "If you're so wise I'd like to see you do better, Pete."

Pete went silent for a moment and seemed to mumble to himself for a moment or two. Then he cleared his throat with a little cough, he opened his mouth and he began to sing.


"There once was a king very wise
Who spoke to his enemies in disguise
T…

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Two Jamaicans meet on the street and recognize each other. They fall into a little discussion.

#1: "Ya, mawn good to see you derr my friend."

#2: "Ya, mawn me too, derr. How ya been doin' mawn?"

#1: "It is what it is, mawn. Ya know? Been doin' not much. How 'bout you?"

#2 "Life be good ya know mawn? I been doin' not much neither my friend."

#1: "That be the life, mawn. You know?'

#2: "Oh, I know, my mawn. I know."

#1: "Say nice dreads my mawn. How long it take ya to grow dem?"

#2: "Oh, deese? About five years, mawn, yeah. But look at yours, dey be much longer dan mine, man. Ya might even say dey be more dreadful dan mine mawn."

#1: "Yeah, me mawn it take about seven years for deese dreads ."

#2: "Hey mawn ya got any ghanja? I been needin' me a good hit for some time now."

#1: "Ya know I do mawn. And I always got a bit to share with a brother. Let's just go a…

A Storm's A-Brewing

Junior: "Those clouds are getting dark."

Daddy: "Ya reckon?"

Junior: "Yep, and the wind's bound to pick up."

Daddy: "Ya reckon?"

Junior:  "Yep, and just look at the leaves on those trees inside out. It's bound to rain soon."

Daddy: "Ya reckon?"

Junior: "Yep, I think we ought to get the family down to the storm cellar."

Daddy: "Ya reckon?"

Junior: "Yep, cause storm winds can blow really strong and turn into twisters."

Daddy: "Ya reckon?"

Junior: "And the rain could cause a flood."

Daddy: "Ya reckon?"

Junior: "Yep, and if we don't do something soon that wind and rain will pulverize the house and barn on and on until little's left of them,"

Daddy: "Yeah, wreck on and on and on, I guess."


The prompt from the folks at Studio30+ this week was reckon/guess. And I reckon I pass the test. Click on the link to see how others treated the prom…

My Back Pages - May

My God how time flies. It's already June and I'm way behind being on track for fifty books this year. I read four in May bringing my year-to-date total to 15. What were the four?
Well, I started the month with a quick read titled George Harrison Reconsidered. The title itself appealed to me because I always felt Harrison was the overlooked Beatle; that he had a lot of talent that people never spoke about or gave him credit for. My only problem with this book was that it was far too short. (3 stars)
Book two was The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. Similar in feel to her recent MaddAddam Trilogy, the Guardian describes it as "a jubilant comedy of errors, bizarre bedroom farce. SF prison-break thriller, psychedelic 60s crime caper". Now I ask you how can you turn that down. I didn't and enjoyed it immensely. (4 stars)
My third book was Dropping The Needle - The Vinyl Dialogues Volume II. Not unlike volume one I found this disappointing. When you'e going beh…