If Stanley Kubrick Did The Dark Knight Returns

Stanley kubrick

Growing up, I had a couple of really great loves in entertainment. One was comic books and another would be the cinema of Stanley Kubrick. Of comic books, I considered one of the greatest and most influential to be Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I could go on and on about Kubrick’s movies. My ultimate geek fantasy growing up was that Kubrick would some how direct a Batman movie, specifically an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns. Of course, Stanley is no longer with us. That leads me to the question of populating a Dark Knight Returns movie mostly with actors who worked with Kubrick. The notable exception would be the Robin done by a teenage Carrie Kelly. Although, a living Kubrick would probably have a good time discovering a young Lolita-esque ingenue to play her. What follows are just purely my suggestions.

jack nicolson bruce wayne

Freakish as it may seem to fans of 1989’s Batman, Jack Nicholson would not b occupying his familiar role as the Joker in this version of The Dark Knight Returns. Rather, this time the aging Jack would play the aging, challenged, and haunted Bruce Wayne. Done correctly, Nicholson’s Wayne would be a tour de force and the coda on  a magnificient career. Literally, Bruce Wayne and Nicholson have grown into each other at this point of both their careers.

superman cruise

Before you dimiss the notion completely of Tom Cruise playing Superman, remember that Cruise did his best work when paired with Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Nicholson’s Batman still can’t handle the truth. As a matter of fact, Rob Reiner might be an excellent director to pull of this particular version of Batman. Even if you can’t stand Tom Cruise, that may actually improve his ability to perform a “Big Blue Boy Scout” who does not quite get it either.

vincent donoforio two face

Vincent D’Onofrio would make a brillaint Harvey Dent under any circumstances, however the Dark Knight Returns Two-Face who is fully healed and fully evil would be just the sort of showcase to highlight what a great actor D’Onofrio is. D’Onofrio would also provide a beefier Dent with the physicality to match Wayne. That was a dimension severely lacking in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight. 

matthew modine joker

Admittedly, the original thought came because Matthew Modine’s character was nicknamed Joker in Full Metal Jacket. However, the middle aged Joker is better served in the Dark Knight Returns story line by Modine than much anyone else. Not only is Modine a wonderful actor, he is also a great physical match for the role.

malcolm mcdowell jim gordon

One of the truly great parts of The Dark Knight Returns is Jim Gordon’s speech about Franklin Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor. This would require an actor with not only a distinctive voice but also a sense of veritas. Assuming that the movie was properly set in the 1980s, Malcolm McDowell is the proper age and has the distinctive voice to provide a dramatic reading of the speech in a way that no other actor doing it would ever consider to be justice. The hardened look in the eyes as well perfectly matches Gordon.

 

Those are my suggestions. Of course, half the fun is filling in the others. Remember, they have to have worked on a Kubrick production with the exception of the Carrie Kelly Robin or a few of the younger characters.

The Multiverse Is Laughing At You

( the following needs a little clarification. this story was nearly included in the upcoming anthology So It Goes which is a tribute to the writing of the late Kurt Vonnegut. As a matter of fact, it was one of the last cuts made. So, since I was proud of it, I am going to go ahead and share it on here. )

 

fat clown

The Multiverse Is Laughing At You

Emmitt Bloom is dead. This simply means that his day is about to get interesting. In the area of North East Mississippi, Bloom was an eccentric curiosity. Then again, anywhere else, you would have been able to say the same thing.

When Bloom was discovered as being dead, he was found in his trailer. Bloom had a double wide trailer. Of course, most anything about Bloom was double wide. Though he had not been weighed in some time, rumors about Bloom’s actual weight were legendary. The coroner ended up putting the official weight as 556 pounds. Some would have been surprised that Bloom was not actually heavier. Popular legend would have put Bloom at closer to a ton than merely a quarter ton. Local men who topped 300 pounds would delight in talking about Bloom being a raging fat ass.

They tended to only start at Bloom’s weight when talking about him. It was rather common knowledge throughout most of the county that Bloom was in fact a raging homosexual. This fact was rather verified by the Police when they searched Bloom’s trailer. There was a fair bit of gay pornography in both print as well as video form. However, this would only qualify as a small part of Bloom’s video collection. In life, Bloom was an obsessive watcher of the Cartoon Network. Truly, Bloom had a collection of small toys from fast food joints all based on Cartoon Network series. Bloom was a connoisseur of such artifacts. Bloom was an extensive buyer of them on Ebay and had written quite a bit of internet literature on detecting fakes.

Of course, in Gothic Mississippi, you have to work for eccentric recognition. Bloom had nothing but eccentric recognition. Bloom had exactly two types of outfits. First, Bloom would normally wear sweat pants and T-shirts. The next form of outfit was a constant point of discussion among the Bible Belt locals. Bloom, in his private as well as spare time, loved to dress in any one of several custom made clown outfits. Bloom would do his own make-up and loved to  sport different multi-colored wigs.  When Bloom was not wearing a clown wig, he would dye his hair wildly bright colors. Bloom was the only local clown working. Despite it all, Bloom was known to be generally harmless as well as having a genuine love of children. Aside from other men, Bloom loved being a clown, children, Cartoon Network, toys, and of course Subway restaurants. There were two Subway restaurants in Bloom’s town. Bloom could easily give a thirty minute diatribe in going to the ‘good’ one as well as the ‘bad’ one.

When Bloom was found dead in his trailer, they actually had to cut open the trailer and use a crane to get him out. Naturally, he was relaxing in his clown suit wearing full make-up. Bloom was watching a taped episode of Teen Titans and halfway through a signature meatball sub with Swiss cheese. He would have probably wanted to go half way through a foot long of something. His sister carefully wrapped each and every plastic figurine from fast food places as if they were precious jewels. Well, she did it with most of them. Bloom always wanted to be buried with Johnny Bravo in his right hand. Bloom suspected that life for him would not be forever. As such, Bloom had given very specific instructions about he was to be buried. There was an entire document on the subject that Bloom had prepared and given to every single one of his family members. It detailed the orange satin clown suit with yellow polka dots and red clown shoes Bloom was to be buried in. The document also detailed that Bloom should be buried in a rainbow clown wig. The trick of it was that Bloom had actually done the wig himself. This particular wig was actually a direct reverse of the actual spectrum of a real rainbow. Bloom had never worn the wig in his real life. Bloom wanted the ‘death wig’ to always be just that. Bloom would never guess how acquainted he would eventually have to become with that wig. The document on how to bury Bloom included four pages typed in ten point Times New Roman on how to apply his facial make-up. Bloom had rather meticulously researched how to apply post-mortem make-up to clowns.

The instructions were also uploaded into Bloom’s personal website just in case the existing hard copies were some how destroyed in fire or willfully by their protectors. The only thing that Bloom did not script about his funeral were the comments by the Baptist Minister. Bloom insisted that those be ‘genuine.’ Of course, Bloom had no idea that the last thing he truly wanted was a genuinely ‘genuine’ comment about Bloom coming out of the mouth of a North East Mississippi Baptist minister.

Bloom’s sister was still alive. This means that she was still available to sing a stirring rendition of Send in The Clowns. Bloom had assigned the task to three different alternates in descending order. The youngest alternate was technically fourth in line to sing the song. She was eleven years old. As a cousin of Bloom’s, she was appointed anticipating that Bloom had an unnaturally long life for someone of his size and habits. Bloom also factored in the possible untimely or unnatural death of one or more the original singers. None of it was necessary but Bloom always planned on having three different alternates and a main singer throughout the entire time frame of his life.

Everything up until the last moment that Bloom had drawn his last breath and the immediate aftermath had been planned. The second after Bloom died was a completely unanticipated event. There Bloom was, standing in his funeral outfit looking at himself naked on a slab. An elderly coroner and his youthful assistant were preparing to do the autopsy. The coroner looked at his young assistant and said “Cause of death…”

The youthful assistant got a smirk on his face and said “We believe it to be a heart attack. I am guessing that I would go to jail if I marked it down officially as a sky diving accident.”

The elderly coroner simply raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know if I would tell to get you in trouble, but I also don’t think I could stop repeating it.”

Bloom could not help but smile. Bloom always appreciated a good joke, even if it was at his won expense. Bloom had honestly heard most of them. Bloom realized that he was a spirit now, but had no idea where to go to from here. On the bright side, this was the first time he had seen his own scrotum without benefit of a reflecting mirror in nearly twenty years. After about four hundred found or so, he actually did stop shaving his scrotum. The joy of a well shorn scrotum (as described in Austin Powers ) was first done as a joke and then became an indispensable part of Bloom’s week. That would be until it was no longer feasible to do it any more. Beyond that, just try and find some one local who would help him along. As much as Bloom enjoyed a good waxing and as much as it was probably against the law for them to deny the service, just try and get a cop or judge to understand. Looking into the mirror, Bloom finally saw himself in his funeral clown outfit. Bloom saw himself perfectly as he should be. Bloom honestly doubted that the undertaker would manage to get it just as exact. At the very least, he had finally managed to see it. The coroner and his assistant walked out of the room. The older gentleman muttered something about no one paying him enough for what he was about to agree.

Bloom was alone with his own thoughts as well as his own naked body. The body stilll had some unscrubbed make-up. All of the sudden, a gravely voice barely above a whisper said “A little disconcerting, would you not say Mr. Bloom?”

Bloom spun around. Up until this very moment, Bloom had thought that there was nothing more odd than the sight of himself. Bloom was about to find he was wrong about a great many things. Standing before him was a rather imposing figure, even if you happed to believe yourself to be the spirit of a quarter ton gay clown wearing a full clown suit in the afterlife. That was at least a sight that Bloom was used to.

Bloom saw the form of Zedekiah James. Truth be told, James was in no way an unimposing figure when he was alive. James was a minister in Puritanical New England in life. In death, his sprit was bound to a well which served as sort of a ferry for lost souls. The chamber where James generally dwelt was full of mirrors and doors. James, as a spirit, emoted as being ghostly white with red eyes. He wore a wide brow black hat as well as a black suit. In his left hand was a weathered old King James Bible. Bloom could not help but wonder if it was an original edition. Of course, this is not an immediate inquiry when the being standing in front of you might well be perfectly capable of giving you directions to Heaven or Hell. For all Bloom knew, James had the power to send him to either direction. The odd part was that Bloom seemed to instinctively know that the name of the being in front of him was Zedekiah James.

On this point, Bloom was a rather quizzical clown with a furrowed eyebrow “Is your name Zedekiah, Zedekiah James?”

James smiled. “Why Mr. Bloom, while I could never forget you, I am rather surprised that you would remember me?”
Bloom was honestly distressed. This was not exactly something Bloom had believed possible in a spectral form. “Mr. James, this may sound odd, but have I died before?”
James laughed heartily. “Why my dear Mr. Bloom, do you think you are dead?”

Bloom smiled through the red clown lips. “Well, the body on the slab was rather convincing.”

James demurred “Well, of course, that body is quite dead. If it was not for the heart, then by now it would be the cold. I am guessing your memory of our previous meetings is not as good as I had been led to believe. In front of you is merely one outcome in a variety of different … universe in which you died on this day of a heart attack. Granted, this does take the number of universes available to you now down considerably. After all, you did have that heart attack in nearly all of them. Every time an event like this happens, there are fewer and fewer places to go until there are none at all. No one lives forever Mr. Bloom. Likewise, no one had infinite possibilities. As a matter of fact, there are several different places in which you were found and will be in a coma for a few days until we have this discussion all over again. Generally, I do not allow people to travel to those because of the quite frankly wasted time.”

Bloom squinted his eyes trying to comprehend a single word that James had just said. Bloom took a moment and stated the obvious. “I really have no idea at all what you are talking about.”

James smiled and said “Few do. Will you accompany me to my office Mr. Bloom? Thank you.”

Suddenly, Bloom’s rainbow hair wig shook. Bloom was surrounded by mirrors of all shapes on all sides. He was a clown in a perpetually infinite fun house. James voice crackled with delight. “Mr. Bloom, would you believe a Mr. Charles Dodgson remembered every last detail of this place once he passed over. I swear that man kept putting himself in situations just to come back?”
Bloom stuttered “Who?”

James smiled in the rather thin yet subtly horrifying way that he would do. James exposed yellowed teeth which seem to have been each filed to a vampiric point. Bloom believed now that there was nothing about Zedekiah James which was not actually terrifying. James continued “Mr. Bloom, given your love of shiny pictures and children, I would have guessed you to be more familiar with Mr. Lewis Carroll and this place he would become fond of calling Wonderland. Trust me, I was glad to be rid of his annoying ruinance of my time.”

Bloom stammered in more than a little legitimate fear, “Mr. James, what is this place?”

James began again “These mirrors represent the possibilities left to you. All I can tell you about any of them is that they each represent what you might call a parallel universe in which you live. Behind you is a door. If you go through that door, then you are denying yourself access to all of these looking glasses and we never have the pleasure of meeting again. If you go through one of the mirrors, all I can tell you is that life awaits. When you had your heart attack, a multitude of options happened. Eventually for anyone, there dwindles down to only the option of the door. These mirrors are created every day. Once a decision is made, it cannot be unmade. Time does progress in every universe Mr. Bloom. There are even ones that were rather desolate after wars. You were not born into any of those and will not continue in one. Eventually, every shred of every Bloom in every universe will cease to exist.”

Bloom looked around. One of the mirrors directly in front of him disappeared.

James noticed Bloom’s reaction. James explained “Yes, Mr. Bloom. That is a window no longer available to you. It was one in which you waited to long to go through. So, you see that you have only the options of the mirrors and the door. Once you put your hand in one of the mirrors, then your spirit will follow. You will have life. It might be in some sort of permanent vegetative state. I will make no guarantees about the relative quality of the life you will receive. Even if I wanted to, I could not. I am merely here to give you a choice.”

Another mirror disappeared. Bloom asked “What happens if there is a fire or something down those lines? Lets say that you explode. The explosion occurred and you were part of it. There is no possibility of survival.”

James seemed almost legitimately impressed. “Very good, Mr. Bloom. You are catching on. If there are no mirrors, then there is only the door. You will not even perceive an option of opening the door. You will simply be on the other side of the door. However, lets say that a gun is fired at you. That could open a world of possibilities including injuries, death, or simply not being hit.”

Bloom smiled through his clownish make-up. “Like in Pulp Fiction?”

James smiled, but only slightly “Now, you have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Bloom, I am unfamiliar with the reference.”

Bloom said “There is what would be referred to as a hit man or a killer in the movie. A man shoots at him six times. By all rights, he and his partner should be dead. However, all of the bullets at point blank range miss their target. So, each bullet would represent a mirror. Any one of them could have done anything. In this one and only universe in which was continued in in the movie, every last bullet missed its target and they continued on. They killed the shooter. One of the hitmen ended up dead anyway and the other presumably had a long life.”

James perked up “Like Caine in Kung Fu?”

Bloom was astonished “You are familiar with Kung Fu?”

James slanted his glance a bit looking down “David Carradine was actually a rather frequent …guest.”

More mirrors started to disappear. James grew serious. “As enjoyable as all this is Mr. Bloom, fairly soon you are going to be left with only the door. It would more than likely behoove you make a choice. What will you decide Mr. Bloom?”

Bloom felt the need to dust himself off, even though there seemed no possibility of there being any actual dust on him. “I have already made my choice, Mr. James.”

James appeared astonished. “You have done nothing Mr. Bloom.”

Bloom stated “It only appears that way Mr. Bloom. I have made my choice.”

Bloom had done nothing. In all of James’ conversations with expectant spirits, this was a refreshing change of pace. James said “And what pray tell would be your decision Mr. Bloom?”:

Bloom laughed a little and said “I have chosen to continue our conversation. Maybe one day I can figure out how a raven is like a writing desk.”

James was quizzical “What do you really mean Mr. Bloom?”

Bloom chuckled a bit. “You never do give the third option do you, Mr. James. It is so unthinkable that you know no one would probably not take it understanding the full implications. Eventually, if you wait long enough, then the mirrors will all disappear. Desperate for any type of escape, the door is the only way out. What if you waited and never took the door? What if you did not want to see what was on the other side of that door even if it was always an option for you. Given enough time, this room collapses doesn’t it? Its not your room. However, you yourself always have the option of the door. Don’t you Mr. James? To you, all of those mirrors are solid, but the door is an option. When the room collapses, there is a brief moment of a lost soul and then you guide them though. Sometimes, they are quick. Sometimes, they linger. Either way, you are alone until the next soul comes along. So, I choose the third option. I am going to wait with you. The room will collapse and then we can all sit and enjoy someone elses company for a few moments. We’ll have an eternity of meeting souls over and over again. That is our mirror Mr. James. You just had yet to encounter someone who considered you as a soul that needed to be guided. You do not have a function in the universe other than the one you choose Mr. James. You chose to give voice to a choice you could not initially comprehend. Now, I choose to give companionship to that voice. You ask my choice, Mr. James. I choose to continue our conversation until one of us goes through the door.”

Zedekiah James slaps himself on his own right knee. “Very well, Mr. Bloom. As they say, I believe that this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

After some time, the room collapsed.

 

When The Giant Fell

Andre Hands

Now that we have reached 2013, we are about twenty seven days till the anniversary of Andre ‘The Giant’ Roussimoff passing away. At the time that Andre died, I was 18 years old and I was a senior in high school I had been a fan of wrestling since a young age and particularly the WWF brand of Superstars of Wrestling. I was a fan of the early Wrestlemanias as well as the greatest show of all time Saturday Night’s Main Event. It was about that same time in which WWF Primetime Wrestling started to become WWF Raw which is now known as WWE RAW. To some of us, it was all a seismic as well as palatable shift which was simply marked by Andre’s passing. At the time, I had subscriptions to Pro Wrestling Illustrated. The Wrestler,  and Inside Wrestling. I remember seeing the pictures of Andre’s funeral in which 300 plus pound men were struggling to be pall bearers and lift his casket. The wrestling era I was watching was larger than life primarily because He was larger than life. Wrestling was a lot of good fun family entertainment. Even in 1993, it was starting to get more violent and more sexual in content. I found myself being increasingly turned off by the entertainment of my youth. I could not bring myself to watch beyond one episode of RAW. I was brought up with Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby The Brain Heenan bickering back and forth whether or not there was a Santa Claus. I watched Wrestlemania 2 when it debuted on HBO. Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant in Wrestlemania III in the Pontiac Silverdome was a seismic event of my youth.

Andre Vs Hulk

I had gone to a Wrestlemania for my 17th birthday. By 18, Hulk Hogan had becomed embroiled in a steroid scandal and Andre was dead. There started to be new stars on the horizon. They were stars in which I did not identify with and had no affinity before. In time, the WWF and wrestling stars of the 1980s would start to have more in common with a 1980s comic book phenomenon which I also loved. In the mid-1980s , Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore released the groundbreaking mini-series The Watchmen. The basic plot (which eventually was translated into the 2009 movie of the same name) was that older superheroes who had seen hero activity criminalized were now being bumped off by a mysterious villain. Increasingly, after that any discussion of the WWF Superstars started to be accompanied by the question in my mind of ‘quis custiodiet ipsos cusdodies?” Loosely translated, it means “Who watches the watchmen?” Literally translated, it means “Who guards the guardsmen?”

watchmen comic

After the lights faded, no one watched the WWF superstars. They seemed to disappear. Many many of them did not live to be 50 years old. I was personally never big enough to become a wrestler, however I had always dreamed of going in the middle of the squared circle myself. I had all of the figures. But when Andre the Giant died, it just seemed to be the time in order to get off the train. In a lot of ways, professional wrestling had left me before I left it. I read an interview with Vince McMahon after what became an explosion of popularity for the brand in the 1990s. McMahon was asked speciifically about criticisms of the increasingly non-family nature of the sport. McMahon responded that if you did not like it, essentially don’ty watch it. For me, that tended to cut a lot of ties and a lot of guilt about missing my regular weekly watching of the programs, buying of the pay per views, and general daily participation in the culture. Vince McMahon had granted me my release from fandom in his brand. It was not his any more and it was not mine. The magazine subscriptions were eventually dropped and I went off to college. About May of 1993, I watched a match that absolutely impressed me and reignited some of my old love for wrestling and the matches and storylines I had seen in the past. I was so inspired that I wrote a letter to Pro Wrestling Illustrated. The letter, to my knowledge, was never published. The letter was in praise of a young wrestler whom I believed might one day save the sport and entertainment I loved. That did not end well either. That young man’s name was Chris Benoit.

chris benoit

The Day The Funny Died

Chris Farley

Recently, I realized that the anniversary had passed. Then, when I did the math, I realized this had been a real anniversary. The actual date was December 18th, 1997. That means that this would be fifteen years. The internet was not quite advanced or as prevelant as it is today. Now, you hear about some one famous drying practically before they die. Everyone is trying to get the jump. It seems unthinkable that you would not realize that a celebrity is dead until after they are already buried. So, it was actually nine days afetr a celebrity died. People tend to think of me as being a guy that is pretty up on things. But, honestly, I did not know that Chris Farley had died for nine days. The circumstances of me finding out was pretty unusual as well. Ole Miss had gone to a bowl game that year. They were playing Marshall University (featuring quarterback Chad Pennington and wide receiver Randy Moss.) It was called the Motor City Bowl. I was visiting a friend of mine in North Little Rock named James Bodine.

Chad Pennington

The next day, the Minnesota Vikings were facing the New York Giants in a playoff game. I received the call in the middle of the game. The plane was leaving Detroit for Memphis. I would practically have to leave immeadiately and try to get to Memphis in a few hours to pick up my wife from the airport. It was a really good game so I started listen to it on radio driving essentially the straight shot from Little Rock to Memphis. That was when they started talking about the shock of the news. Chris Farley had died and been buried. I was kind of on a Christmas break. Literally, the news struck me so hard that I had to pull over on the side of a freeway for about ten minutes to absorb it. Seemingly by a miracle, the Giants ended up beating the heavily favored Vikings by one point in those playoffs. I had a myriad of thoughts about the death. I remembered reading a piece he had done for Sports Illustrated talking about growing up going to Badgers games in the University of Wisconsin. I remember him talking about how big his Dad was and how much trouble they had lifting the casket. I remember an especially sad Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher in which Merv Griffin asked Fraley “Are you alright young man?” The lgitimate concern on the face of Griffin was heart breaking.

Shrek 2

I remember I had read about a project that Farley was attached to. I only really remembered it because the name was so odd. The name of the movie was called Shrek. I remembering wondering what a movie called Shrek could possibly be about. I remember thinking that an animated movie with Chris Farley would be kind of a kick. The project that I was really sad about was one that I read about in Entertainment Weekly. Chris Farley wanted to do a serious biopic of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. He described it as a dream project. I remember that as being a movie I wanted to see. I had high hopes for Farley. I was hoping that he would escape a seemingly inevitable fate. Later on, I would see a Saturday Night Live skit in which Farley would put his head on Phil Hartman’s shoulder. Later on, that clip would be nearly impossible to watch because it was so sad to me.

Chris Farley And Phil Hartman

I often think of when I was growing up. I had two favorite shows (for lack of a better word). I loved Saturday Night Live and I loved WWF wrestling. I really wanted to grow up to either be a wrestler or to be on Saturday Night Live. It is one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ things. WWF wrestlers in the 1980s and Saturday Night Live performers are some of the most high risk and cursed in their respective industries. Many don’t live to be fifty. My dream was always to sat “live from New York..” I learned when I studied the lives of wrestlers and SNL performers that I wasn’t able to devote my life completely to those pursuits. It is people like Farley who gave their lives to those dreams. Farley loved Saturday Night Live more than anyone. Farley loved the era that I loved. Farley loved the original raw 1970s crowd. The not ready for prime time players that I saw only on reruns on MTV and cherished and imitated. Now, there are people that would call me a humorist. There are people that read my words and see them as funny. I have spent my life studying comedy. I had spent my life studying lives. I can run with a joke. I also know that comedy comes from a deep place that can occassionally destroy you like it did with Farley or Belushi. I also know that I do not have it in me to give completely on that level. There are times in which I did.

Me Fester

In this world of the internet, I am allowed to have a daily audience. I am allowed to write for humor sites and make people laugh. My nearly constant stream of ideas that I always seemed to have in me now has an outlet. I like to think of it as being part of the Comedy rebels back in the seventies trying to master the new medium and the comedy outlets they provide. I have a real dedication to writing and real dedication to comedy. It comes from a place I cannot describe. It comes from a need. I just hope that it does not overtake me. I can’t really stop it in any way. I don’t know where it is all going but it is anniversaries like this that really make me think, in a good way.

 

Ridiculously Long Projects I Have Taken On

Tim Robbins Shawshank

In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, there is a voiceover quote that goes ” Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time.” I have thought long and hard about that. I have thought about how Andy would dig a tunnell a little each night. I have thought about how he would deposit the minor bits of dirt for his tunnell in the yeard every morning. As long as you make slow daily progress till something, you can accomplish it. Tell me something will take ten years, that is fine as long as it will actually happen and I will be here to see it. I have found that quite a bit can be accomplished with “pressure and time.” The following are a few examples.

1. 1oo Handwritten Letters

Handwritten Letter

In 2010, I spoke up in the middle of an evening and said the following “This year and I am going to hand write and send at least a hundred letters through the mail.” It was an odd inspiration. My dad said that people never really wrote letters anymore. He talked about how at on point people would study letters that people had written and copy them. You can stuill read the letters of Benjamin Franklin. So, I started with buying paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. I started a Facebook group asking friends if they wanted a letter. Isent them in the order that I got the request. The letters averaged about 7-10 pages. I had some people already in mind that would get letters regardless. Each letter took a couple to a few hours to write. I mailed the letters once a week and numbered them. The whole project took roughly six months of faily work. Just a few hours a day. My kids got used to the sight of me sitting down and writing letters. I went past a hundred letters all the way to about 120. When I was done, I was done. People still comment on how much they treasure them. People still comment on sleeping with the letters as a reminder or putting them  in a special drawer. I feel like after I am gone, those letters in some form will remain.

2. Tweeting Genesis

Genesis

A couple of years ago, I started a Twitter account @onetrueciscell . I was told by one of my friends that with all of the other projects that I did, I would never have time to keep up a twitter account as well. It was about that time that I read about a man in England who was trying to tweet the Bible. Then, I saw what he was doing. He would write something like “Gen 1:1” and then paraphrase the Bible. He was also updating it several times a day. This thing had thousands of followers. Personally, I thought that it was rather disingenuous, So, I decided to use my twitter account to actually somewhat deliver on the promise that he had made. It has been a couple of years now. I have done over 800 tweets. I update it once a day usually around midnight. At the moment, I am up to Genesis Chapter 21. There are fifty some chapters in Genesis so I figure that it will take me around five years to just complete the first book. It will be interesting to see how far I do end up getting on it until my life time is complete or until twitter is gone. There is the interesting speculation of what mhy eventual ‘death verse’ might be. Of course, I am willing to stay on Earth until the whole thing is done.

3. Meet My Friends

Facrbook Friend Request

A few years back, a friend of mine named Jeremy Justice dared me to tag all of my friends in a post. I got to thinking about the challenge and how people had remarked that they did not believe that I actually knew a thousand plus people. The insinuation was that I was merely adding for the sake of adding because I wanted to make it seem like I had a lot of friends or people that knew me or that the friends weren’t ‘real.’ So, every night I started tagging a person before I went to bed. I did it in alphabetical order so I would not lose my place. I never firgured that it would be read by anyone other than the person that was targeted. I found that people were really reading them. I found that people started to look forward to the nightly post. That was roughly three years ago. People have come and gone. I have just continued down the list. At the moment, I am less than a month away from actually completing what has really become a quest.

4. Mafia Wars Nest Egg

Mafia Wars Acheivement

The Mafia Wars Nest Egg achievement is achieved when you have ten trillion dollars in your bank account in the area of New York. In order to do that, I worked building up properties to the point at which I would get one billion dollars an hour from the properties. You have to actually go onto the game to deposit the money or it will stop collecting. On January 1st 2012, I started depositing daily with the intention of not taking any out or using any until I had gotten to the 10 trillion mark in the game. After daily work and depositing for nearly a year, I have almost five trillion in the bank. I anticipate that the achievement will be done around the time that 2014 starts. Again, it is done about twice a day or so.

5. 100,000 views on CRACKED Topic Pages

CRACKED.COM Logo

I have three goals going into the CRACKED forums. My first goal was to get an article published on the site. My second goal was to become what was known as a “veteran writer” which means that you have five articles published on the website. My third goal was a little more difficult. CRACKED.COM has what is known as ‘topic pages.’ A topic page is when you claim a topic and make a page out of it. Now, the topic pages (with few exceptions) are not put on the front page. People actually have to search for them and click on them. That means that a topic page will succeed or fail completly on their merits as well as a pre-existing level of interest in the topic. As my number of paid sites started to increase, every idea became a potential article and topics were generally frree. The challenge is that I wanted to see if I could get a hundred thousand views merely on CRACKED topic… because that is just how I roll. I stopped really putting out topic pages at the number 52. I figured the number of weeks in a year sounded about right. Currently, there are over 96 thousand views on those 52 pages. My anticipation is that I should have over a hundred thousand views on those pages by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

6. The Highest Level on SoulXChange

SoulXchange

In 2008, the source of nearly every ridiculous online game I play as well as my descension into Fantasy Football ( Alex Dawley) was chatting with me on Yahoo Instant Messenger. He said that he was playing a game called SoulXChange in which you ascend through Dante’s levels of Hell. Dawley asked if I would play the game. I said “Sure, whatever..” I had no real intention of playing in but the point is to create a buyable soul. So, I started playing just so that he would have another soul to buy. Eventually, he actually stopped playing the game for all intents and purposes and I had decided to see if I could make it all the way to the highest level. After a few…years.. I finally had descended to level 9. At that point, the creator of the game said that there would be a level 10 and 11. The level 10 materialized but the requirements for level 11 were never actually released in game. So, I figured I would fullfill my vow and go for level 11, A soul’s value in the game is determined by what is known as soulbux. Level 10 took 50 million soulbux. To get to level 10 on the game? I played steadily for over four years.

7. Watching All of The Original Twilight Zone and Outer Limits Episodes With My Children

Twilight Zone Logo

I decided in the way that I generally do that it was important for my children to have a working knowledge of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. So for Christmas of 2010, I purchased all the episodes to both shows on DVD. At the beginning of January 2011, I started watching the episodes with my children on my days off. We would watch two hours a day, twice a week. To clear through all of them in both DVD sets took the whole year (almost exactly). In 2012, they started to have their own activities and it was harder to schedule the viewings. It was simply a new year and everything had moved on. However, we did make it through both sets and the children now have a working knowledge of both,

I have now taken to putting my list of things that I want to do in an email that I send to myself. I will then delete one when it is done. I start each year with fifty things on the list. Sometimes, there will be something that simply loses its meaning at the end of year. Sometimes, it will be time sensitive and I will have missed it. At the beginning of the year, I try to move the list back up to fifty things to do. Many of them fall under the auspice of ridiculously long projects. These are but seven that I am proud to share with you.

October 1st, 1968

(I wrote this for a proposed anthology of stories about the movie Night of the Living Dead. The book never came to fruition, but I figured I would share.)

October 1st, 1968

 

 

Dear Diary,

 

I am writing to you. I don’t know if this will be my last time or not. I guess that every time might be the last time. I am just trying to calm my nerves a little bit. I want to put my thoughts down on paper. Well, I always put my thoughts down on paper. It might seem silly, but there is also a chance that it might be important. I don’t know if anyone thinks that anything a 12 year old girl writes is important, but …well… I’m scared and I write to you when I am scared as well. In case this is the only page they find, my name is Karen Cooper. I am 12 years old. I live in Pennsylvania. I am in the sixth grade.

 

I like to drink Pepsi out of bottles. I do not like cans. My favorite television show is That Girl starring Marlo Thomas. The last movie that I saw in the theaters was Funny Girl. It starred Barbara Streisand and I love the sound track. It was on in the local theater last month. Funny Girl cost two dollars to go to because it was a matinee. I went with my friend Crissy. Mom dropped us off because she didn’t want to see it. Crissy has golden hair with pig tails in it. She wore a green gingham dress to the movie. I wore a t-shirt and dungarees. I also wore bobby socks. My shoes were a little too tight and they hurt really bad. They are ald but they are so pretty and went well with my outfit. It did not seem to matter that they hurt, but they did. I don’t know where Crissy is right now. I hope that she is ok. Mom and Dad are really scared. I am really scared.

 

There are all these people in my house. I wet myself. I don’t have time to change. It still feels really icky.  You know what song I like? I really like Happy Together. It is sung by the Turtles. It always makes me happy when I hear it. We listen to it in the car when my Mom drives me to school if I oversleep. Happy Together came out last year. I really wish that it was playing right now. I wish any music was playing right now. I’m so scared. I don’t want to think about being scared right now. Just anything other than being scared.

 

Mommy and Daddy says that there are dead people walking outside. If you read this, did you go to Sunday School. Mommy and Daddy and me… We’re Presbyterians. That means that we are Christians. I never really understood how that is different than being a Baptist or Methodist or any of the others. I go to Sunday School every Sunday. We also go to church every Sunday night. We go on Wednesday nights too. Momma says that we should go more often. I think now that I should have paid a bit more attention when I went. I think that the Bible says something about the dead walking in the end. I never read it. I was supposed too. It was a Sunday School assignment. But, I didn’t read it. It was Emily’s turn to read. Emily gave me the answers that Sunday. It was not like it was a real test. They give you something to read over the week and then ask you questions about the verse the next Sunday. If you get the answers right, then you get cookies. The cookies are baked by Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty is a very nice old woman. She bakes the best cookies in all the world.

 

Miss Kitty’s daddy fought in Gettysburg. She once told me that her daddy fought for Virginia but he didn’t really understand what he was doing. She said that she was proud of him for fighting. She didn’t care what side. Her daddy fought in the Civil War and she was proud. That’s the end of it. Its right to be proud of your Daddy. I’m proud of my Daddy right now. My Daddy is taking in all of these people that he doesn’t know.  He wants them to live. Just up and took them into our house. I am so proud. I love Daddy. I love Mommy. I loved my dog Spots. Spots was a golden retriever. She was old when I was born. Spots died three or four years back. I really should pay more attention. I just don’t think I could take it if Spots was out there. You know, with the dead people walking. I wish that I had paid more attention in Church. When we did Sunday School about the end of the world, Miss Kitty made sugar cookies. I wasn’t supposed to really ear one. The Doctor says that I have borderline diabetes. That means I have to really watch what I eat. I don’t really like eating meat. I don’t think that its wrong to eat meat like some people. I just don’t like the taste of it. Well, that is not entirely true. I don’t like how pork tastes.

 

When I was nine, I had lamb. Lamb was really good. That sugar cookie was really good. Miss Kitty makes the best cookies and that was an extra special good one. I want a cookie. I don’t know if we have any or not. It just feels wrong to ask. You know what else I like?

 

There is a boy at school named Johnny Williams. He’s a quarterback. Well, he’s a back-up quarterback but that is only because Kyle Thurston’s Daddy has lost more money than the Williams family. Johnny can throw the ball way farther than Kyle. Kyle’s Daddy was frat brothers with Coach Hairston at Penn State and that makes Kyle a starting quarterback. Its not right, but that’s how things are sometimes. Last summer, Johnny threw a ball at least thirty yards away right through a tire swing. I was so excited when I saw him throw like that. I jumped up and down and clapped. I kissed Johnny on the cheek. I know that I shouldn’t or ought not to. It was just a little peck and I don’t think that anyone told. I was wearing a yellow dress at the time. I wore my hair in a pony tail that day. I had this bright blue bow that Momma tied into a ribbon for me. Well, it was more of an azure type blue and not really a sky blue or a dark blue. Colors are some of my favorite things in the world. Every Christmas, Momma always gets me Crayolas and lots of coloring books. I know it might seems like a little girlish and I am growing, but I love coloring.

 

Anyway, after I pecked Johnny on the cheek, he held my hand as we walked home. My hand was all sweaty. I was scared that he would not keep holding it because my hand was sweaty. Johnny held my hand all the way home. That made my hand more sweaty. I wrote all about it in this Diary. When I am done here, I am going to go back and re-read that one. I really like to read that one. Sometimes, I will read that entry and then not right. I don’t know if I love Johnny or not. I think I do. I also think that I might be too young. I might not know what love feels like. I hope that it feels like you are walking home holding hands with a cute boy all the time. I hope that being in love means that you have sweaty palms all the time and no one ever cares that you have sweaty palms. Maybe, that is just what love means to me. Maybe that is all I will ever understand of love.

 

Its kind of like your chest only growing at night and feeling itchy. You can never really be sure if being itchy means that your chest is growing. It might just mean that you are itchy. Maybe, it is only at night when it happens or maybe it is just only itchy at night. Anyway,  my chest gets itchy at night and my chest has grown. I don’t know if the two things are related or if it is just a coincidence. What I am saying is that when my chest is itchy, I think that its growing. When I think of love, I think of walking home with a boy and having sweaty palms when I did it.

 

Johnny is a tall boy with sandy blonde hair. His hair is like the sands on a beach in the fall. I saw the sand on a beach once. My Mom and Dad took me to Rehoboth Beach when I was 9. it’s a beach in Delaware. Johnny’s hair is like the sands on that beach. He has really strong hands. I don’t know if his hands are strong cause he is a quarterback or that they made him a quarterback because he is strong. Johnny has a letter jacket. The letter jacket is crimson and maize. Those are our school colors. I wanted to be a cheerleader, but I didn’t make the team. I didn’t really want to be a cheerleader, but I wanted to root for Johnny on the sidelines at games. Also, they get to go on trips with the team. I could have ridden on the busy with Johnny. I don’t really like the girls that made the team. I don’t think that they really like each other either. I think that all of their parents had money and their parents kind of always forced them to hang out and be friends. They talk bad about each other all the time, but they never admit that they talk bad about each other.

 

Lou Anne thinks that she is Johnny’s girlfriend. It kind of hurts cause I see her walking around holding Johnny’s hand. I wonder if her palm got as sweaty as mine did. I wonder if Johnny’s jacket fits her as well as it fits me. Its not Christian, but I would not really mind if the dead people got into Lou Anne’s house. I just want Johnny to be safe. I want Momma to be safe. I want Daddy to be safe. There are teenagers in this house. I wonder if they are really in love. I wonder if they hold hands lots. I wonder is they kiss. I am sure they do. They look like older teenagers. I have seen how older teenagers kiss. I kind of want to kiss like that one day. I really kind of want to kiss Johnny like that one day. I hope that he wants to kiss me. Maybe, he is only with Lou Anne because his parents and her parents are friends. I hope that one day that won’t all matter as much. I think it might matter more when you get older. It didn’t matter much last summer. I hope Johnny is OK. Maybe after all of this is over, they might need another cheerleader or two. I didn’t miss by much. I don’t know if anyone is going to make it through this. I am pretty sure that not everyone is going to make it through this.

 

I can hear them out there. I wonder if Grandpa is out there. I miss Grandpa. I don’t think I would want to see him like this though. I don’t know if they are really the people or just the bodies walking around. As a Presbyterian, I believe that Grandpa’s soul went to Heaven. I think that once you are in Heaven, then they can’t take you out. I don’t think your body can get your soul back. I think that they are like you diary, you know if all of the pages had been ripped clean out. It would still look like the book but there wouldn’t be anything in it. You could hold you Diary, but no one could read you. I feel like that’s how I am some days even when I am here. I can’t read me. I want to but there is so much going on that I don’t really know where to start. It might be because I am a girl. Guys just seem to be simple. Well, I don’t think guys are simple because they are hard to figure out. I think guys think that they are simple. No, that doesn’t sound quite right either. I think that guys are simple to themselves but difficult to everyone else. Momma says that we think that there is more to guys than there actually is. It is like we want them to have feelings that aren’t actually there or want there to be more to them than is actually there.

 

I wonder what Johnny is thinking about right now. I wonder if he is thinking about me. I wonder if he is thinking about Lou Anne. When you’re scared, they say that you can only think about what is really important. I’m thinking about Johnny right now. I hope that means that Johnny is thinking about me. Maybe, one day when all of this is over, we can talk about what we thought about when all of this is going on. Maybe, we can one day say that we thought about each other. Maybe, that will lead to another kiss. Maybe that one will be on the lips. I would like that. I would like that very much. I have practiced kissing. Its kind of weird but I have.

 

One night, I was about ten years old and I was staying over at Crissy’s house. We got into her Momma’s make up and ended up looking like clowns in the morning. Actually, we ended up looking like those women that stand around on the corner at West Main and Allegheny Street. Of course, our night gowns were way long than those girls dresses. I think they must get kind of cold standing out there in short skirts. They always have running or torn hose as well. Anyway, it was like two in the morning and Crissy’s Momma thought that we were asleep. We got to talking about kissing. Neither of us had done it with a boy before. Well, Crissy said that she had kissed Jake Turlington, but I never really believed that one. At the very least, I don’t think that Crissy kissed Jake on the lips. We were like ‘Well, maybe we should practice.’ So, it was just us and we practiced.

 

I don’t like to think about it or talk about it because kissing another girl, even in practice, might make you kind of weird. Momma says that girls that kiss other girls and boys that kiss other boys are not in line with God’s teachings. Its almost like Momma doesn’t believe that they are Christian. I don’t know what I believe about that. I mean, as long as they are in love, and God makes love, then… well I don’t really understand it all. Anyway, I kissed Crissy. I am not in love with Crissy. We were just practicing so we would not seem so stupid when we kissed boys. I don’t mean that I don’t love Crissy. I do love Crissy. She is my bestest friend in all of the world. Of course, I love Crissy. I just don’t love Crissy in what you would call a kissing kind of way to love Crissy. I have kissed Crissy but that was only practicing and not a loving real kissing kind of way. It was kind of like a homework assignment. Its not like Crissy was a science experiment. She is my friend and I kissed her.

 

I don’t think kissing Crissy is like kissing a boy though. I think that the lips are different. Most boys have thin lips. Crissy’s lips were more full and tasted like cherries. Of course, that might have just been all of the makeup that we were wearing. We maybe kissed three times. We were scared that Crissy’s momma would find us and find out. Then, Crissy’s momma might tell my momma and that might not be Christian. Momma is very concerned that I always remain a good Christian. Its hard to know some days what a Christian does. Let me tell you though, there is a whole list of things that good Christians don’t do. Maybe one day, when  this is all over, Momma can tell me what a good Christian does do. I just want to know what is OK. I want to know if holding hands are ok. I want to know when kissing a boy would be ok. Momma always says that I am too young whenever I ask her what is ok. I need to know what Christian girls can do, and I need to know what age they can starting doing it at. I have to remind myself to ask Momma that when all of this is over.

Diary, I gotta go now. Momma says that I will be safe in the basement. I don’t know what is going to happen. If you find this and read it, please don’t tell Johnny what I said. Johnny might still be with Lou Anne and even if I am not here I would still be really embarrassed. I really don’t feel like eating meat. I hope there is something else in the pantry to eat.

 

I have to go. I have to go to the basement like Momma says. Wish me luck. I am going to say my prayers now, before I go to the basement.

 

Good Bye Diary

All Love

Karen Cooper.

 

 

Top Ten Stories My Dad Used To Tell

My father, Jerry Allen Ciscell, passed away in 2008. I get a lot of exposure as a writer. Sometimes, I even get a few accolades. However, my Dad was one of the greatest oral storytellers that you would ever want to listen to. If it was a Sunday and Dad had some coffee, he could spin a yarn like he was Homer telling the Odyssey. Dad would tell stories about jobs he had. Dad would tell stories about being a soldier during the Vietnam War era. He would tell stories about his own family. I miss the stories. I miss his hearty laughter at the end. They usually were told the same way. They were like recitations of famous skits by the likes of Andy Griffith or Bill Cosby. Here are ten that you hopefully heard but quite possibly may have missed…

10. “I’m Going To Kill Your Car.”

My Dad spent some time being a security officer late night for a local plant in Indiana. There was a guy who did nightly deliveries. He was pretty rude to the employees and would not go to the right dock. Finally, they got my Dad over to the situation to try and settle the dispute. Dad told the delivery guy that Dad was going to beat him up if he continued acting this way. The delivery guy then said “Oh yeah, and after you do that – What are you going to do?” All Dad could think to say at the moment was “I’m going to kill your car.” Dad didn’t see the guy again for three months. One night, Dad’s manager came out to him on his shift and said “Jerry, its cold and we are tired of coming out to the parking lot to pay this guy.” My Dad asked what was going on. The manager responded that the delivery guy was getting paid out in his car because he was scared Dad going to kill his car while he was inside collecting payment. The threat of physical violence to his own person did not bother him at all. As a matter of fact, that was probably a fairly regular thing. However,  the threat to ‘kill his car’ the guy took kind of serious.

9.  “I’m going to buy you a coke…”

My Dad’s security guard days led to some wild situations. At one point, there was a late night screaming match between a supervisor and his former employee. When Dad went into the office, Dad saw that the drunk former employee had actually pulled out a knife and was pointing it at his former supervisor. Dad asked him what he was going to do. The man responded “I’m going to kill him Jerry. I’m going to kill him.” At this point, Dad noticed that he had brought a stick to a knife fight. So, Dad did the only thing he knew to do. Dad said “No, your not going to kill him. Your going to put that knife away. Your going to walk down to the break room with me. I’m going to buy you a coke and your going to go home and sleep this off.” The guy turned to my Dad. All of the sudden, Dad noticed that the knife was now pointing at him. The guy said “Now, just you wait a minute Jerry… Your really going to buy me a Coke?” Dad said “I promise I’m going to buy you a coke. Just close the knife and we’ll walk down to the break room.” Apparently, this was a man who loved a good cold carbonated soda from the break room. So, in fact, Dad did take him down to the break room, bought him a Coke, talked to him. As the story goes, the man did in fact go home and sleep it off.

8. “Spoon That Garbage!!!”

At some point and time during Army Basic Training, my Dad became convinced that the Army was in fact going to kill him before he ever became officially in the Army. Dad was also convinced that part of the plan to kill him was gastro-intestinal. Not only did Dad consider the food to be horrible, he would have drill instructors screaming behind him throughout that entire meal “Spoon that garbage!!!” One day, Dad decided it was just better to throw away the whole meal that eat another bite. Dad took his food and walked over to the garbage can. One of the drill instructors stopped him and asked where he was going. Dad responded that he wanted a seat next to the window before he sat down to eat that fine garbage. Dad would generally also call it one of the worst meals he had had in his entire life. The drill instructor actually sat in the seat across from him just to make sure Dad ate the whole plate.

7. “I Would Wanna Split His Stash…”

Dad would often talk about a California “hippie” named Luckenbill that was in his missile control unit in Germany during the Vietnam Era. They were in classroom training together on gas attacks. The instructor asked the class what they would do if they saw a man down in convulsions on the ground. The intructor further went on to state that their eyes were clearly dialated and their mouth was foaming. Luckenbill was all over this answer. Luckenbill said “Man, I would try and talk to him and find out if he was willing to split his stash.” It just kind of makes you proud to be an American.

6. “What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate…”

When my Dad was in high school, he played saxophone in the marching band. This may kind of give you an idea how I thought on some level I could do it. It was the 1950s and apparently in northern Indiana, band uniforms were more of a dress code. My Dad was not paying particular attention when the dress code wass announced. Dad heard that there would be a black shirt with white pants. The rest of the band heard the instruction for a white shirt with black pants. By the time Dad showed up for the parade, it was really too late to change then. The band director even considered it to be a life lesson in paying attention. So, my Dad had to march that whole parade in front of the whole town with a clearly mismatched band uniform. To be fair, Dad did admit that it only happened once.

5. The German Hooker

This is a story my Dad only told me once and when I was over thirty. It was also about three in the morning. Dad was on leave in a German village and really just walking down the street. He comes across one of his fellow GIs arguing with hooker. The GI apparently did not have enough money to pay her rates. The hooker was apparently dressed in only lingerie ( in the middle of a busy street) and by Dad’s estimation not an unattractive woman at all. When the hooker had had enough of the present negotiations, she noticed that my Dad was there. She looked over at him and said in English “You Soldier? You have money?” Dad described it as the longest few seconds of his life. The then told the stacked German hooker in the middle of the road wearing lingerie that he did not have any money on that particular evening. Dad was positive that someone was going to take her up on her offer that night though.

4. “Turn Out That Light!!!”

When we moved to Waverly, Ohio in the late 1970’s, the first night was spent in a house full of boxes. As such, we all ended up sleeping on the living room floor. To this day, I have no idea where the hilarity erupted from. No one was going to sleep after a full day of moving. The light was still on. Dad said “I got just one last thing to say ‘Turn out that light!” The light was turned out but for some reason we all laughed. When we stopped laughing, either me, my brother, or my Dad would then say “I got just one last thing to say ‘Turn out that light!!!’ We had a giggle fit on that for some reason for what seemed like hours. I don’t even remember how we went to sleep that night. We must have repated that same phrase dozens of times that night. The story itself was repeated for literally decades after that.

3. “The same hands…”

Any one who has ever been in a church for any length of time has seen a time in which a new pastor was put in. These are not always times in which the old pastor retires and a new person comes in. Sometimes, the discussions get down right nasty about the future of the leadership. In the late 1980s, there was just such a situation that arose in the church we were attending. There was an emotional meeting after a church service. It was during that particular meeting that my father tried to calm the crowd with a statement that I did and still do consider to be a rare bit of absolute poetry. My Dad said “The same hands that can sling mud can also toss roses.” That one phrase has managed to inspire me… for life.

2. So This Is Christmas…

My Dad was stationed in West Germany during the Vietnam War era in a missile defense squad. Most of the missiles were apparently setup in mountains. One year while my Dad was over there, the Soviets moved an entire battallion westward. They did this on December 23rd. As a result, my Dad and his unit had to be moved directly to a mountain in West Germany in December. The Soviets simply moved their troops back to their former position on December 26th. It seemed to my Dad and everyone else involved that the entire exercise was done simply to completely ruin Christmas for a lot of troops out in the cold. To that end, my Dad would assure you… they were absolutely successful.

1. The Moon Landing

On the day that Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, my Dad was in a German pub. The TV was broadcasting the event. After Armstrong made his famous line “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…” a curious thing happened. Dad was in there drinking along with other GI’s as well as Germans. One of the Germans ( a large man by Dad’s memory) stood up. The German started singing. It was what he started singing that would forever make an impression on my Dad. The German started singing The Star Spangled Banner. The rest of the bar as well as my Dad’s unit started joining in. The entire bar was hoisting beer stein and loudly singing the American national anthem in Germany. Dad said that no moment in his entire life ever made him more proud to be a serviceman or more proud to just be an American. And he had to go to Germany to experience it….

 

If you never heard my Dad tell a story, I am truly sorry. You really missed out. Hopefully, my small watered down teases will give you just a taste of what you may have missed.