Archive for the ‘Pikers Stories’ Category

The Intervue

June 27, 2016

After the American Revolution, the northern sliver of what would be the State of Ohio was parceled off as the Connecticut Western Reserve, where residents of that state, largely veterans, could set up a homestead.  This gave the local architecture a mixture of the prevalent “Federal” style and that of New England.  Many businesses moved from the population centers of Cleveland and Toledo to more small-town areas like Medina and Middlefield.

Running a business is difficult and occasionally businesses will cut corners to make do.  Changes in social attitudes add to the complexity.  This is neither a condemnation of these business practices, nor the regulations, just a realistic look at things.

“The Intervue” deals with a reasonably honest, hard-working CEO who also happens to be a lecher.  He realizes the legal issues this raises and seeks to hire an assistant who is not offended by his behavior and able to slap him back into place when necessary.  Neither character is either a saint nor the devil, just two human beings with the flaws and their strengths.

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Schoolday Memories

December 1, 2015

Framed with a fictional story about a child swallowing chewing gum, this is a fictitious look at my high school days.  The events may be fiction, but the attitudes are those I’ve formed over the years.

Gym class was a waste.  Thousands of dollars worth of equipment, more than adequate in helping an obese, uncoordinated kid get in better shape.  Instead it was all the same old routine of football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball.

English:  There is no better way to turn a teenager away from literature than to make reading novels mandatory.  But having some writing ability, I did become curious about “the masters” well after graduation, and have read my fair share of books I avoided back then.

Science was okay until they mixed math into it.  Math was okay until they started using letters without really explaining the concept of variables.

I knew enough history that I never needed the textbook.  Unlike in most matters, I actually have a rather conservative attitude about history.  Columbus, Jefferson, Wilson were simply men of their times.  They all had their flaws but also were capable of great things.

But the biggest lesson the developed over the years is that the duty of a teacher is not to the present student but to the person that student will be 5-10 years after graduation.  Here there are still many improvements to be made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dangerous Man?

August 12, 2015

As a writer, I have always felt that freedom of speech is important–even if that speech upsets some people. I am also a fan of actual content–books, CDs, DVDs, and the like (to say nothing of LPs, Zip Disks, and QIC-20 tapes.). “A Dangerous Man?” is a merging of those two things. A dedicated collector of actual content and something of a curmudgeon, facing a not-to-distant future where everything is “in the cloud” and anything as passé as a DVD frowned upon–and often outlawed.

The point being that a “Gone With The Wind”, or even a “Birth of a Nation”, need not be polarizing, but rather a conduit for conversation, where opinions can be calmly discussed–rather than the typical Internet shouting-matches that are all-too-common. Disagreement does not mean disrespect–a lesson badly needed in today’s collegiate/Internet environment.

Naked in the Freakshow

June 4, 2015

Growing up  in the ’60s, and ’70s, I lived through the civil rights movement, the flowering of modern feminism, the genesis of the LGBT movement, a loosening of movie, music, and TV censorship, acceptance of minority religions.  Free speech was central to all this.  The freedom to criticize, debate, and argue–even if feelings were hurt in the exchange.

A lot of this has changed since those heady days.  Now, on one hand, every word must be guarded, lest someone be offended.  On the other, those who feel “butt-hurt” are free to say anything, including making death threats against those with an “ignorant” viewpoint.

“Naked in the Freakshow” satirizes such implacable political correctness.  Rob is a well-meaning enough person.  But one who has lost all objectivity and sense of humor.  Marci sees the absurdity of the world and takes things with a large grain of salt (apologies to those with high blood pressure who consider that expression a trigger).

Honest debate must be open to differing viewpoints, not an echo chamber.  Satire should be encouraged, regardless of who it offends.  Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, North Korea, Dirty War/Operation Condor-era South America, and much of the contemporary Islamic world ban satire.  PC-folks might like to ban it too, especially when they disagree with it’s message.  That is not a group I’d care to be associated with.

Not the Same

September 25, 2013

Shortly after WWI, the United States began Prohibition. a long, pointless example of the errors in attempting to legislate morality.  It might be nice to think we’ve learned from that experience and would no longer ban relatively benign substances.  Of course, that is not true, and “Not the Same” is an analogy of that fact.  Like the bootleggers in the story, most people breaking todays cannabis laws are not vicious thugs, but small groups of friends who enjoy both the substance and the camaraderie that substance brings.  And we can look back at movies from 1930 and see the casual attitude people had about the still-illegal liquors back then and see how much they are like todays attitudes regarding cannabis.  So, yes, I am on a soapbox in this story, but hopefully it is a small soapbox.

The Lita Poems

August 23, 2012

“TO MY MUSE”, “THIS IS NOT THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE”, AND “EARLY MORNING WALK” Make up a series of three poems inspired by the same person.  Lita is the assistant manager at a nearby 7 eleven whom I met late October 2011.  She is a woman of tremendous work ethic and drive.  See her push herself every morning after an all-night shift caused me to have something of an epiphany.

Agoraphobia is no picnic.  But with SSI and MedicAid, and considering that I have the time to follow my interests (writing being an important one).  Seeing how she pushes herself and how determined she is at her job, made me realize and appreciate how good I actually have it.  In time this led to infatuation, and with spring, I found myself experiencing a wonderful boost in creativity, creating some very good writing.

The story “Thirty Months On,” can now be looked at as wishful thinking.  But for a while there, this past May, much of it seemed to be happening.  Old interests were gone, replaced by something I thought more promising.  “For My Muse,” was the first poem on the topic.

Yet a convenience store is not the best place to learn about someone, and very abruptly I learned not only is she married, but has two very young children. No, that was not “…the worst day of my life,” but it sure as hell felt like it at the time.

Life returned to normal and the emotions diminished over the next several weeks. I still admire her  greatly and hold the utmost respect for her, but I realized her and I were never to happen. She likely doesn’t even know about my writing. I’m not sure if it’s better or not that way.

 

A Quick Trip

April 13, 2012

One Monday in June of 2011, I needed to go to the BMV (DMV in most states) to get a state ID card.  When I got there, I learned my birth certificate was invalid for this purpose–being a “long form” where they demanded the “short form” which I did not possess.  This led to a merry chase around Cuyahoga County in a fruitless effort to obtain the required certification.

The concept of a bureaucratic nightmare came to mind, a catch-22 situation where regulations became so mangled that getting a necessary item became impossible.

In any case, after arriving home that day, I found I could order the required birth certificate on the Internet (for a sum of $53).  I immediately ordered one.  It arrived that Wednesday, and Thursday I was back at the BMV, this time welcomed with open arms.  Minutes later, I left with an ID containing a not-too-bad mugshot.  I guess in some ways bureaucracies are getting better.

Bigger

April 13, 2012

This was a fun one.  The Editor decided to make Spam the theme for an issue of the Press.  I harkened back to my days on AOL, clearly remembering the sort of unsolicited advertising that filled my inbox.  Given free rein to indulge in my love of puns and being only 5’4″ myself, I wrote about a man of similar stature who things there’s some magic pill that is going to make him 5″6, 5’8, maybe even a whopping 5’10”.  But unlike the email ads, this pill actually works–but not in the way he was hoping for.

There is probably a little Monty Python influence in this story.  But mostly it comments on how words can have more than one meaning and this can lead to misunderstandings, sometimes very funny ones.

I Was Just the Sequel

April 13, 2012

This is a story that shows how things can change between the time the first word to a story and its last words are written.  Word one, the protagonist was going to be killed.  But as the writing progressed, I saw letting her live gave me far more latitude to explore the central themes to the story–how politicized the justice system is, and the bizarre inequity present in our current drug laws.

I was reminded of the first version of the TV movie Helter Skelter, how the prosecutor was willing to let the secondary defendants go if they would testify against Manson.  But when they refused he was willing to send them to the California gas chamber.  “Play ball and go free or die.”?  And it is true in today’s justice system, where someone well-off and able to afford an expensive attorney will serve far less time (if any) than a poor person using a Public Defender for the very same crime.

This is not an objective piece as it also shows my opinion the marijuana should be legal and that the War on Drugs has destroyed far more lives than it has saved.  Given all that, and the protagonist’s nudity in the first scenes, I’m a bit surprised–and pleased–that Pikers published it without a peep from the Editor.  But of all the stories I’ve written over the past few years, it is the one I’m the most happy with.

Uncle Mort’s Funeral

April 13, 2012

Growing up, weddings and funerals had to have been the most unpleasant things my parents dragged me to (possible excluding dentist appointments and confession).  Uncle Mort’s Funeral is based largely on two funerals I had to attend in my adolescence.

This was written for the roundtables I moderated on IRC between 2003-2010, more towards the end.   It was revised using suggestions from the esteemed Piker’s Editor.  Sadly one error got through–one which the Editor pointed out to me, but being too familiar with the piece, I missed (and which makes the last sentence rather incomprehensible–oops!)

While aspects of the story were based on my real life, the events that took place in the car were strictly fictional.  Not that there weren’t some very attractive female family members, however my family is not so large that anyone would forget who and how different family members are related.