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Posts Tagged ‘humor’

keep-calm-and-sing-christmas-songs-3( Here’s a seasonal flash fiction piece I’m posting here as a gift. Well, it’s either that or a letter from the near future. You decide. )

Invasions come in two speeds: fast and slow. Fast invasions rely on surprise and a massive use of force. Think Normandy or presidential campaigns. Slow invasions rely on stealth and subversion. The opponent doesn’t notice until it’s too late. The Kringles, as I call them, chose the latter approach.

In the halcyon age of my parents’ youth, you didn’t hear “Jingle Bells” or see so much as a strand of tinsel until December 1st. Then it was the day after Thanksgiving, a day ominously dubbed Black Friday. Then it was mid-October while the Halloween rush was still in full swing. Then September right alongside the start of the Halloween season and two decisive fronts emerged. First, national department store chains added dedicated, year-round Christmas sections. Second, dedicated Christmas stores (or, more cleverly, ’boutiques’) popped up both as brick and mortar locations and online. Soon after that, Christmas in July parties became commonplace.

Even those who did notice the expansion of Christmas thought nothing of it. Capitalism had invaded first. Steadily growing revenues and entrepreneurial efforts were to be applauded, not feared. Nobody cared that the popular hues of paint and clothing colors all came from the Christmas palette. Nobody cared that people were humming “Here Comes Santa Claus” in May, in April, in March. Easter fell with little resistance because Christianity had run its course and fruit cake still seemed fresh that early in the year. Valentine’s Day was an even easier conquest because it shared the themes of love and over spending and sweets. It even dressed in red.

The Kringles were patient and devious. It was many years before Santa Claus served as Grand Marshall in the 4th of July parades and longer still before elves wearing red and white camo marched alongside his reindeer driven sleigh on Memorial Day. Thanksgiving, of course, had belonged to them for as long as anyone could remember.

I think the worst of it all, the most terrible thing, is that nobody seems to care. We just change the ornaments on our plastic trees, swap the strings of lights on the shrubs for a different color, and wrap the next round of gifts we can’t afford. We like not having quite so many colors to choose from. (Who has time for dozens of shades of white? Snow is beautiful.) We don’t care that our delivery people all wear pointed hats and shoes. We don’t worry that the most common boys name for years has been Chris and the most common name for girls is Kristine. People say it’s just a trend. But trends don’t last decades.

How did this happen? I think the answer is right there in the lyrics and the stories. We sing our conviction that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year” and Scrooge inspires us to “try to keep it all the year.” The lights, the parties, the joy, the smiles, the gifts, the food…we adore it all. The Kringles, whoever they really are, planned their campaign well. They found a weakness and exploited it. We handed our lives over without a shot.

image_by_projectowl-d8b4evk

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MiseryLoves - Small CoverI’m pleased to announce that the second release from Whistling Kettle Press is an eBook edition of my story, “Misery Loves.” When Misery’s roof is damaged by a storm she is forced to seek help from her unusual neighbors. Honesty advises her to approach the person she understands the least – Love.

“Patton makes his fantasy world glimmer…A well-told, unaffected tale…” – The Fix

“Misery Loves” is available for most reading devices. You can purchase it on Amazon or directly from Whistling Kettle Press via PayPal. More locations coming soon.

A bit of background. The story was originally published in Aeon Speculative Fiction #13 and is one of my personal favorites. It’s funny (sez me). It’s quirky (sez me). It’s quite different from most of my work. It was also a pure spontaneous joy to write.

I think most stories are labors of love with the emphasis on labor. Writers write because we must  and sometimes the work is painful and slow. But every once in a while a story comes along that reminds the writer that they are merely a conduit, a vessel, a voice for something greater and only partly understood. The story pours through them and out into our world. So it was for me with this tale. As I wrote in the introduction:

This story surprised me first by ambushing me, the first lines popping into my head from wherever they had been before. I had an immediate image of what Misery looked and sounded like. The fun, and the surprise, came from going along with her as she sought help from her unusual neighbors.

I’m delighted to have had the chance to work with Bridget McKenna at Zone1Design on this edition. She did great work designing the cover and interior art, formatting the layout, producing the final files and, most importantly, listening to my many comments, questions, and ideas. She cared about the story and how the final product served it. I would happily work with her again.

I hope you enjoy the eBook edition of “Misery Loves.”

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TheMostInterestingManInTheWorld_1426I often drink beer…but when I do I don’t prefer Dos Equis. That said, I like the whole “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign. I heard the current Halloween ad in the car yesterday and thought it was pretty funny. Can’t seem to find a video or audio file of it on short notice, so here is the script that precedes the standard ending. Stay thirsty my friends.

Even out of costume, he’s still the most mysterious person at the masquerade ball.
He has successfully grown candy corn.
His scarecrow also works on tax collectors and traveling salesmen.
The last time he bobbed for apples, he got a three pound lobster.
He can also scare the pants back on to you.
When he watches the cauldron, it boils faster.
His tricks are also treats.

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April is National Poetry Month. So, while on vacation in Tucson last week I decided to write some. Time was scarce, being all caught up in visiting family and going out and doing fun and interesting things, so I decided to see how many desert-themed haikus I could write in one short session on the back patio of my sister-in-law’s apartment. I wrote the five below, which I present along with an author’s note after each. Enjoy.

Tucson Desert 02

 

husky in desert
sniffing at a saguaro
all the news is bad

(My sister-in-law has a beautiful female husky that had just sat on my foot, so I decided to include her. I like the humor of the image, but the truth is also that much of the news last week was bad indeed.)

unfamiliar birds
sing while they pose for pictures
taunting the tourists

(I had been enjoying all the unfamiliar bird songs of the local species and was definitely doing the touristy thing of shooting many, many pictures. Locals, including my sister-in-law, tend to be amused.)

every patch of shade
is a fleeting oasis
like so much in life

(After that last lighthearted haiku, I decided to try a more philosophical angle and seek truth in nature. Change is constant. We cannot remain comfortable in one place or set of circumstances for long.)

two black feathered birds
perched in the desert sun
lamenting their clothes

(Two black feathered birds had just landed in the tree above me and were having quite a conversation. I wondered whether it’s hot being a black feathered bird in the desert.)

washing the sidewalk
on a desert city street
while others wake parched

(Earlier in the day while my sister-in-law was running an errand, the rest of us sat in the car watching a city worker power washing the sidewalk. It struck us as an odd, sort of wasteful thing to do. When my sister-in-law returned, he offered to power wash her car, which was pretty dusty. She accepted and we laughed as we watched our impromptu trip to the car wash unfold, but I kept thinking about people who don’t have enough water.)

Tucson Desert 01

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Happy Easter!

Regardless of whether you call yourself a Christian or not, may your day be happy and blessed…and may you find all the eggs and not wind up catatonic from the sugary treats.

Easter Island

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Tracking down the Oscar nominated animated short films has become something of an annual tradition in our family. The past two years, we went to a theater with another family and enjoyed them together. But we’ve moved and I haven’t looked yet to see if they are playing anywhere near Westport. (New Haven leaps to mind as a likely place.) So I was delighted to stumble across one of them in my Facebook news feed.

It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It reminds me of Chicago (automatic bonus points). And, best of all, just when I thought I knew how it would end and worried it might be a bit more conventional than I’d hoped…it lifts right up and soars. I don’t mind confessing I had a sappy smile on my face when it ended.

Enjoy.

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Photoshop is fun. I use it for this and that, although I am by no means an expert. Mistakes are part of the fun, unless you’re creating something for public use and your mistake winds up being viewed by the public. Then there are those who deliberately distort what real people look like. The website Photoshop Disasters posts a steady parade of both. Amusing, sometimes cringe inducing stuff.

They recently held a contest asking Photoshop users to come up with funny works based on the new (excellent) James Bond film, Skyfall. The winners are posted here. Many jump off from the same specific images in the film. I liked this one, created by James Rose, the best:

James Rose2

It’s not funny, of course. Not meant to be. But what it does very well is capture the film’s awareness of and affection for the long history of Bond films. Jolly good work, James.

 

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