This is day two of Blogdramedy’s BlogShorts, a short-story writing challenge. It spans ten days, includes ten short stories, each a mere 110 words. This year’s theme: The Dog Days of Summer. The hound-du-jour is Toto from the Wizard of Oz.
Those little people creeped me out – big time.
Every chance they got, they were picking me up with their stubby little hands, petting me and tugging on my ears. I was trying to focus on my lines and motivation for a supporting role in what was going to be a classic film, and these weird little gnomes kept touching me.
I finally reached my limit and nipped at one of them. The cretin dropped me like a bad habit. Luckily it was a short trip to the ground and I was uninjured. I caught a glimpse of my understudy, a Dachshund named Angus, licking his chops, hoping for his big break.
The following blogs have also pledged to participate – hopefully none of them have injured themselves by falling off the couch while trying to lick their own private parts.
This is day one of Blogdramedy’s BlogShorts, a short-story writing challenge. It spans ten days, includes ten short stories, each a mere 110 words. This year’s theme: The Dog Days of Summer. Today’s subject is none other than Stephen King’s loveable scamp, Cujo.
Books don’t tell the whole story.
Lotta people thought it was a bite from a rabid raccoon, maybe a fox. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t rabies. Rabies is just a cop out, like PMS for the ladies, know what I mean?
It seems trivial looking back, but at the time, it was maddening. The collar wasn’t too bad, fit okay, but the license! That shitty little piece of tin hung there, jingling against the ring on the collar if I so much as blinked my eye. I couldn’t cut a fart without that fucker making a sound.
One day, I heard that sound one time too many and I snapped.
The following blogs have also vowed to participate. Time will tell if they actually run with the big dogs, or stay on their porches.
I was glancing through my abysmal stats and realized with a dull surprise that I haven’t posted jack-squat in twelve days.
It’s not as if the world hasn’t been providing me with more than enough fodder to ridicule or outlandish news to leave me gob-smacked. The fault is not the world’s, it’s entirely mine. I’ve let life get in the way of writing about life and you, my loyal readers have suffered for it. I apologize.
Installing Vine on my not-so-smart phone certainly hasn’t helped my productivity. I’ve been snacking on 6 second videos which make Tweets from B-list celebrities look like James Michener novels.
I’ve also been on a diet. While hopefully easing my waistline back away from triple digits, it’s been fairly miserable. I don’t how I can possibly be expected to write when my stomach is desperately crying out for food and booze. On one occasion my keyboard started looking like a deluxe assortment of licorice and dark chocolates decorated with letters and numbers.
Then the other day I was knocked out of my stupor. The talented Andrew of Shut Up Dad posted a blog letting us all know he’d published his first e-book. After 1.4 seconds of being impressed and happy for his accomplishment, I moved into a state of seething jealousy. I decided right then that I’m going to get one of my works published (I’m sure someone will do it if I pay them enough).
I’ve been gradually adding to a short story I posted around the holidays which four or five of you might recall reading, called “Christmas Greetings From The Zombie Apocalypse“. As you might gather from the title, it’s a light-hearted romp filled with tender moments and wholesome family values. Actually, it’s not. Feel free to see for yourself.
I was considering trying my hand at presenting CGFTZA as a graphic novel. For those of you in the dark about the format, “graphic novels” may also be referred to as “expensive comic books“. After careful consideration of the graphic novel idea, I had to admit to myself that my drawing style is not really along the lines of the comic book art, or at least not what I would want. More importantly, I draw even slower than I write, so it would likely take decades to accomplish.
So anyway, now I’ve really done it. I’ve promised myself to get something finished and published (e or otherwise) here in this most public of venues. Crap! Now I have to do it.
The hallway serves its purpose. People walk through the brightness of the large windows on both sides. Some glance out to see what the weather is like or take a quick scan of the lot to see which of the powerful have filled their reserved parking spots. Others walk through so wrapped up in their days that they fail to notice the world beyond the glass at all.
Birds are sometimes fooled by the reflective glass on bright days or the illusion of a clear path to the other side at twilight; their moments of impact seldom seen or heard by the people inside. The images are left, in the oils and dust each bird carries on its wings – pressed suddenly onto the glass in fine detail. An instant of flight and graceful freedom captured in the faintest of prints. The image of the bird held in suspended animation until the next rainstorm or custodian’s rag.
Blogging has been a part of my exciting life now for about a year and a half. Like life itself, blogging has had its ups and downs. I’ve been Freshly Pegged and Freshly Pressed. I’ve drawn pictures of pigs in dresses and smoking rabbits in dive bars. I’ve been shut down and resurrected. I’ve had a few likes, and more than a few comment streams which took on lives of their own.
One of the biggest thrills I get is when the plus sign lights up telling me about the addition of another follower. The thought that someone out there enjoyed my writing so much that they clicked the “follow” button is a big reinforcer. For a moment, I can convince myself that I’m doing something right.
I often feel like I should write a quick thank-you note to new followers. I picture a brief, personalized message on that fancy handmade stationary with the deckled edge. Alas, I’ve been so busy watching early German fetish porn and trying to come up with new posts, I never get around to sending the notes. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t even gotten around to buying the stationary yet.
I’ve decided instead to spotlight a couple of lucky followers as a gesture of gratitude to you all. If it’s not you, I’m hopeful you’ll understand. Perhaps I’ll do it again in a few months, and you’ll have another chance then. Don’t act so petty about it – we both know that pouting’s not a good look for you.
The first follower I’d like to profile is none other than ibshealthteam.
ibshealthteam is a blog devoted to providing support to the thousands of women and handful of men who suffer from the dark, shameful secret of IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I tip my hat to this courageous blogger, who’s single-handedly taking on this embarrassing, often malodorous syndrome. The author appears to be a beautiful woman who posed for her Gravatar photo on a beach with her arms outstretched and the wind in her hair. It’s hard to imagine such a lovely creature could know anything about the constipation and flatulance related to IBS, but maybe the seabreeze is helping matters. She is truly devoted to getting the message out to as many people as she can. In fact, virtually every blogger I know has been followed by this brave beauty of the bowels. There is a rumor that she has followed every single blog on the WordPress site. I’m sure a few of us who suffer from over-active imaginations may have come to believe that we too suffer from IBS, forgetting for the moment that we hit the all-you-can-eat buffet at El Sombrero over by the mall last night.
The second new follower I’m going to profile is acvhub. The acv in acvhub stands for apple cider vinegar. I’m pretty sure hub part stands for “hub”. This exciting blog showcases the myriad of healthy uses for, you guessed it, apple cider vinegar. Careful readers/viewers will notice that the posts specify Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar above all others. I say readers/viewers because the blog posts are created using a unique formula; Each one is actually just the written transcript of the accompanying video. It’s kind of like going to a meeting and having that chucklehead from marketing read his Power-Point presentation to you verbatim. Pairing the videos with the text is a great idea, because let’s face it, not all blog readers can actually read. I don’t know if the makers of Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar are aware of the blitzkrieg of free publicity they’re getting or not. Obviously the good people at WordPress are oblivious to it.
Since both of these bloggers appear to be prolific, if indescriminate followers, I’m secretly hoping that they cross paths and join forces. I’m certain that Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar can be used to effectively treat and cure irritable bowel syndrome. The Bragg company will be able to use the resulting profits to give up living like parasites on blogs and start advertising during the Super Bowl like everyone else. The IBS people can move on to another cause. They could even use the same initials to represent another group of sufferers. Of course, I’m referring to Irritating Blog Sycophants, wherein people who actually write are followed by people who aren’t even people, who use the creative efforts of others to selfishly plug their products and causes.
Tune in next time, when I profile several followers who don’t appear to write anything whatsoever or speak English, yet follow my blog. I’m guessing they are just tagging along for the centerfolds and off-color cartoons.
There’s an old saying which goes something like this: Even the sun shines on a dog’s ass somedays. Essentially it means that everyone gets lucky at some point or another. Well guess who’s lucky today? That’s right people – today is my day! The blog-goddess Peg has bestowed the highest of honors upon yours truly!
She created a weekly feature on her blog which highlights a post that should have been Freshly Pressed on the front page of WordPress but was somehow overlooked. Her weekly spotlight is shining on this dog’s ass today and my tail is wagging proudly. After pressure from legions of followers, Peg has christened these snubbed gems as “Freshly Pegged”. To the best of my knowledge, she has yet to receive any cease-and-desist notices from the corporate boys up at WordPress HQ.
If you’re not following Peg over at Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, there’s a good chance that your diet is lacking lierary fiber and the kind of homespun midwestern humor that’ll stick to your ribs. In any case, as loyal lemmings of good old 1 Point himself, you are commanded to click on the link above to Peg’s place to see my post – that’s an order. Wipe your feet and mind your manners while you’re there – don’t embarrass me, dammit!
The post of mine which Peg is featuring is my initial entry in The 7 Deadly Sins contest, hosted by the one and only k8edid. Entries could be no more than 600 words, and had to include death and/or the threat thereof as well as a connection to the deadly sin of the week. The deadly sin for this particular post was “gluttony”. The title is “Willie Prader, Private Eye – Deadly Sin Series – A Glutton For Punishment“. I drew the illustration in a pathetic attempt to improve my chances at winning and to distract readers from typos and holes in the plot. While I did manage to win gluttony plus one more sin, I missed out on the Freshly Pressed brass ring.
k8edid’s blog is always packed with great writing; for example, she recently revealed that she’s not dead! Please click on Peg’s link before k8edid’s – there are rules of etiquette which must be maintained. We simply can’t have you people flitting around WordPress all willy-nilly.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put on some Coppertone on my tail.
Black stared out the window at Arnie’s house next door. Nothing had changed since the last time, but he looked anyway. The caution tape twisted in the gentle morning breeze. Black’s gaze followed the yellow stripe from the chain link fence to the scrub palmetto in the back of Arnie’s yard, then to where it disappeared on the far side of the house.
He pulled a grapefruit from the mesh bag on the counter and twisted half on the dull spike of the old Pyrex juicer. The cigarette smoke curled past his ear on its way to the ceiling. He scooped two seeds and tossed them in the sink on his way to the freezer.
Liana had harped at him about smoking in the new house. It was funny; she’d smoked like Chernobyl when he’d first brought her over from Belarus, twelve years earlier. Black could still see her in his mind, sitting on the sofa in the old house chain smoking and learning English from watching the soaps. She said if she enjoyed shivering, she could have stayed in Belarus. Eventually Liana convinced Black to take the early retirement package. They sold the house in Bloomfield and moved to Florida. Now she was gone.
Black sat in the silence, drinking his breakfast of vodka and grapefruit juice. The sinkhole had swallowed the back half of the place next door, taking Arnie’s wife and her beloved Pomeranian, Buttons, to their deaths.
From his screened porch, Black could see into Arnie’s living room and what remained of the bath. There were hand towels hanging on the rack next to the sink and half a roll of toilet paper still on the spindle. He felt like a voyeur staring into the empty house. He regarded his ice cubes – already fading in the early heat of the day. He took a swallow and felt the cool burn of acid and alcohol. Black chased the mouthful of cocktail with a long pull on his cigarette and gazed back out at the hole.
As some of you know, I had a traumatic experience last Sunday. I wrote another one of my typical posts, whining about this or that. I plugged in a few internet-scavenged photos to keep it sexy. I didn’t use actual sexy pictures, I just know that a page full of nothing but words can be scary to some people. A couple of pictures with snappy captions may keep them from switching over to travel blogs composed of nothing but snap-shots of someone’s trip to Italy last year. As is my habit, I included the source of each photo in parentheses after my caption.
I did my usual bit of half-assed proof reading, then hit “Publish”
I hadn’t fully taken my finger off the computer key when the giant pink box with red lettering took over my screen. WordPress had “deactivated” me, effectively shutting me out of my own blog – my online home of the past 11 months. All 124 of my posts were gone from me, including the one I’d tried to post merely seconds before. Anyone trying to look at my stuff got a message saying my blog was deactivated and no longer available.
The pink box described people who would violate the terms of the website, using WordPress for ulterior motives; spammers and slicksters trying to sneak advertising into posts and comments. It was made clear that these sorts of people are not welcome at WordPress. It was implied that if my blog had been deactivated, then I had likely proven myself to be just such a piece of vermin.
There was a link I could click to report that my deactivation was in error. I clicked it frantically, pleading my case wherever I could. I tried to identify myself as a good blogger, not some spam-planting reprobate. Sure I make poop jokes and I once wrote a post all about a professional athlete’s urine, but I’m generally a good person. I’ve got followers to think about, for heaven’s sake!
I sent the request for reinstatement. As the minutes dragged by, I started to panic. I Tweeted a few of my WordPress cohorts. Then I wrote emails to a couple of them who had foolishly let me know their online addresses. I got some helpful support from them, but as the time dragged on with no word from WordPress, I started to accept that my blog was gone. My many posts, strings of comments back and forth with blogging chums, pages and pages of unbridled goofiness, all vanished forever into the black hole of “Crap-that-disappears-from-the-computer-without-warning”. Despondent that my blog was gone, I even tried to send farewell messages to a few people telling them my actual name and asking them to watch out for my novel, which I would surely finish and publish with all this newly available time-not-spent-blogging. I’m hoping that not too many of those tearful goodbyes made it through.
I finally gave up on staring at my in-box and got cracking on my non-blog chores for the day. As I strolled the aisles of the supermarket, I pondered life without a blog. I couldn’t even consider going and starting a new one. Putting in that amount of work and time to build a new audience and community for something so fleeting seemed like an idiotic idea. By the same token, I couldn’t imagine how I’d go on without this forum. Blogging is the creative outlet which I’d been seeking for so many years.
On the other hand, I felt pathetic. How had I become one of “those people” who write blogs and then insist on trying to get everyone I meet to read them? Worse yet, what kind of odd nonsense would I move onto next? Maybe I could get a clip-board and go door to door getting signatures for or against some cause or other. I could just start hanging around the local coffee joint and talk about the weather or “kids today”. I could become one of those doomsday preppers who I made fun of in several posts – without a blog I’d be well on my way to a life without technology, living off the land and shooting anyone who got too close to my bean field.
One of the free-sample people at the store gave me a nibble to try and asked how my day was going. I hesitated, trying to figure out how to begin to tell this guy how my world had been shattered. Before I could put it into words, he gave a piece of cheese on a cracker to the lady next to me and asked how her day was going. I turned and walked off toward the paper products, relieved I hadn’t been midway into my story of blog-love and blog-loss when he turned to the lady. No one would understand except my fellow bloggers, and I’d lost them.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I got an email from someone at WordPress whose job title was “happiness engineer”. The last time I dealt with someone whose job title was happiness engineer, they were trying to sell me a latex-free marital aide which ran at several speeds and had “life-like” features. The batteries weren’t included. The WordPress happiness engineer asked me to please remove the reference to a certain website from my blog. The website was where I got one of my aforementioned photos. I had typed in the web address in an effort to give credit where credit was due. As it happened, the website was on some WordPress no-fly list and had triggered the shut down. One stupid little web address in a photo caption had caused all this turmoil?
Obviously my scrape with near deletion has had an effect on me. Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to get my old swagger back and start posting poop stories and making adult-diaper jokes. For now though, I’ve got to take baby steps and work my way back into blogging in tentative little strides. I hope my readers can understand how difficult that time was, and how deeply I missed each and every one of you, for every minute of those several hours away in deactivation limbo.
There is a phrase I dread hearing at work. It’s not the scariest one, but it’s never good news either.
“The folks down in IT have a new upgrade to install.”
No one but IT themselves is ever aware that an upgrade’s needed in the first place. Oftentimes, they don’t bother letting anyone know it’s even coming. I plod along doing my jobs oblivious that there’s something wrong. Then I walk into work on Tuesday, all set to do what I did on Monday, turn on the pc and Bam!
While I was sleeping, those techy gnomes came in and changed everything! The little icon-boxes I’d so neatly organized on my screen weren’t where I’d left them. The home webpage which I never really liked has been replaced by a new one, which I like even less. As unsightly and dysfunctional as the old one was, I have to admit to growing comfortable with it, and now it’s gone forever. The replacement version is awkward, cryptic and unsightly. Sign-in boxes vanished to different pages and links don’t link like they used to. Great…just great.
There’s no use complaining to my boss about the changes, she’s too busy rifling through her file cabinet looking for the scrap of paper that she wrote all of her passwords on. The IT staff are more invisible than ever. My colleagues were in a lather, as they gradually realized that it wasn’t just their computer which was now disorganized and foreign.
We struggled through a couple of days, gradually figuring out how to find things and get our documentation done. The always-rare glimpses of IT staff were fewer still as they seem to have hunkered down under bridges and toadstools to weather the storm of frustrated employees who were just about to take up pitchforks and torches.
At home, tired and ready to unwind, I opened my laptop to visit WordPress and bond with the intellectual set. I kicked off my shoes and was ready to engulf myself in the creative genius of others. I clicked to open the site, but it looked slightly different. After my trials at work, I thought perhaps it was my imagination. I found no comments, likes or new followers, which wasn’t surprising, but it’s my habit to check. I clicked “Freshly Pressed” to see the chosen few who had achieved being featured on the showcase page of WordPress. My creeping suspicions were confirmed; WordPress had snuck in an update of their own! The Freshly Pressed page was totally different. Gone was the old FP page, with its thumbnail sized offerings of 8 or 10 posts, replaced by one giant post, which required users to scroll and scroll to find the next one. Gone too was the ability to hit the option beneath my name to return to my dashboard. In fact, the only way to get off this page was to either click the back button on my browser, or leave the site altogether and sign back in. The Freshly Pressed page had become a dead-end site page.
The old FP page was great. The multiple offerings were spread out like magazines on a really nice waiting-room coffee table. It was easy to scan the titles, photos and topics and pick up whichever one struck my fancy. I longed for the day when one of my posts would make the cut and be there among the glossy covers and great reads.
Now the coffee table is more like the one at the eye doctor in the room where I’m told to sit after having those goofy dilation drops. My tweaked vision requires picking up a magazine and staring at it for a minute at arm’s length before seeing what it actually is. Embarrassed to realize that I’m a middle-aged man looking at a withered copy of “Modern Bride”, I drop the magazine and pray no one saw me. I grab another one and hope like hell it’s not “Pedophilia Monthly“. The only saving grace is that everyone else in the room has had the same drops and they’re all sitting there looking like those paintings of big-eyed children which graced the walls of cheap motels back in the 70’s. After a few futile attempts, we all just realize that looking through magazines is a wasted effort, so we don’t bother.
I’ve written about the IT department at WordPress screwing up perfectly fine pages before, so this exercise is not as much fun as it should be. As I hit the publish button, which is blissfully right where it was before, I’ll say a silent prayer that my loyal readers will be able to find this latest rant.
My dreams of one day being Freshly Pressed have been tempered by the fact that in it’s current state, no one will see my stuff even if I do get there, thanks to IT.
I just read a fairly preachy post on Facebook. It was written by a “friend”. I would not have classified him as a friend in the traditional sense of the word, but in Facebook parlance, people are either your friend or they aren’t.
In any case, the guy wrote about how putting armed police in every school could be an expensive option, and offered the alternative prospect of arming teachers.
I prefaced where I read the post, because I don’t want anyone to think that I got started on this thought process by going to the websites of political parties or special interest groups. I certainly did not find this topic by reading the news, which I can’t really bear to do lately. I make no apologies for not keeping abreast of a nation’s heartache; as a rational adult, I know all I need to right now and choose not to saturate my brain with the minutiae of every sickeningly painful detail, as reported ad nauseum by each and every news outlet.
I hoped that my “friend” was a lone voice and that he wasn’t just echoing the thoughts of someone with a broader audience than Facebook. Somehow I doubted it. A quick Google search proved my instincts correct. An elected official in Washington State is pushing for teachers to have the right to carry weapons into the classroom. Where would we be without some lawmaker telling us how to fight fire with firepower, or as I like to put it, fight crazy with insanity?
I feel I have a fair amount of first hand experience with schools and with teachers. I attended public schools for kindergarten then twelve more years before moving on to several universities where I earned multiple degrees. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked in schools. I’ve dealt with every type of school employee from custodians to superintendents and many, many teachers in between. I’ve dealt with new-graduate teachers and tenured, published PhD’s. I’ve dealt with a lot of students as well. My exposure to homicidal maniacs has been much more limited.
I am not a teacher. I am not in the teachers’ union. My father was a teacher, as were some of the most influential, important people in my life. I admit that I’ve also dealt with a few teachers who were inept, sad examples of their profession. Sitting here in my kitchen, I can’t think of a single one of those educators who I could imagine carrying a gun in the classroom.
In recent years, public school teachers in many states have wrestled with taxpayers and politicians over merit-based pay, benefits and tenure. Apparently in the halls of power of at least one state, the argument has now switched as to whether or not to arm teachers.
Let’s take a moment to review: Elected officials and taxpayers can’t decide what a teacher’s work is worth, or how to determine if they are even effective at performing their jobs, but you’d like them to carry firearms?! OK, just wanted to make sure I heard that right.
On a side note, law enforcement professionals routinely carry guns. In many states they face the same scrutiny of pay and benefit issues which teachers do. Unlike teachers, they enter their chosen profession knowing their duties may invlove the use of deadly force. As a profession which has a fair amount of power in its armed authority, police training is designed to help weed out candidates who are unsuitable for the responsibilities of the job. Despite the careful screening, history has shown us that sometimes the wrong people get badges and guns anyway.
Teachers’ challenges managing kids are pretty well documented. In addition to teaching the three R’s, they are often called upon to teach kids things which would traditionally be taught at home and only reinforced in school. Things like respect, being able to tell right from wrong and the basics of ethical behavior. There have also been more than a few complaints about children in the U.S. falling behind their counterparts elsewhere in the world. Tacking on the additional responsibility of acting as an armed guard just doesn’t strike me as a particularly effective way of improving overall job performance.
Owning and being capable of using a firearm is strong stuff. Despite walking this planet for over 50 years, I have yet to find it necessary to even hold a gun, let alone carry one to work. The first part of my personal rationale for not owning a firearm is that I don’t think I need one. I believe, perhaps foolishly, that I can use other personal attributes to avoid gunplay. Like a teacher, I’m convinced that I can use my knowledge and ability to communicate. The other part of my rationale is that owning a gun would somehow reduce my belief in the first part of my rationale.
In my opinion, a teacher who wants to bring a gun to school, has to accept the same thought, on some level.
The horror in Connecticut has dominated the news, but it is not an isolated case of senseless violence. Two innocent people were killed by a shooter in a mall near Portland, Oregon. Two volunteer firefighters were killed and others seriously injured by a sniper in New York who set fire to his home and car strictly to draw the firemen into his line of fire.
If the logic for arming teachers holds water, then it’s only fair that Foot Locker employees and firefighters are also encouraged to pack heat. I’m sure that if one analyzed the data for victims of gun violence nationwide, it would be difficult to find a demographic which wouldn’t qualify for carrying a gun.
I know Facebook is filled with people who pop in photos of puppies or little quips about how annoyed they are with the weather without giving it a second thought. One would hope they would stop and think before proposing something as controversial and fundamentally absurd as arming teachers. As for state lawmakers making the same proposals, I’m at a loss for words, finally.