Flash Fiction: Pumpkins Need to Eat Too

(Believe it or not, I started this as a short story in 2016.  My goal was to write about human eating pumpkins in a sort of Grimm’s fairy tale kind of way.  It never got to that point, but here it is as flash fiction.)

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I know what you’re thinking.  It’s something along the line of “no way, there are not human eating pumpkins.  They don’t exist.  Quite fooling around.”  Trust me when I say they do exist.  You don’t have to believe me.  I don’t really care.  I know what I saw.  I know what I heard.  I know what I felt.  I know what I smelled long after the pumpkins banded together and left the remaining victims to die.  There were few survivors, and if  you haven’t figured it out already, you can lump me into that pile. 

My name is not important. I’m not handing it out so you can’t stop wondering if I will say it.  I’m never giving it to you no matter how much you beg either.  All you need to know is there are some pumpkin patches that like the taste of flesh.  I’m not going to say they prefer one type of skin over the other.  They are equal opportunists.  They don’t care what color you are.  They don’t care how tall you are.  They don’t care how heavy you are.  They only care about catching someone and like it when you hear your own bones crunching between their large teeth.

If you live anywhere near a tiny town called True Wisdom, start being afraid.  This is where my parents were born, where I was born, where my siblings were born, and where my children will be born if I ever make it through another year.  You ask yourself why I don’t move.  Tell me where?  How?  When?  With who?  Besides, I’m too comfortable here despite having to fight to stay alive during the last day of October.  You see this is the time when pumpkins are given free rein to eat as many humans as possible.  Call it a compromise.  Call it weeding out the weak so the strong get stronger.

Some pumpkins die every year, but the survivors come back with a vengeance.  The one that chased me was about at big as I’ve ever seen and it moved faster than the previous year.  Luck was on my side when it didn’t see the pitch fork.  It ran right into it at such a high-speed that surviving it wasn’t going to happen.  I watched its insides spill out, and as it was moaning I gave it a good kick in the head.  A dead pumpkin makes this town a little safer.  Only followers want leaders, and I’m their new leader now.  It’s always been that same.  You either live or die.  There is no middle ground.

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Spritz Cookies

This is a little random, but here is a picture of my cookies I made this year.  This will probably be the last year I make these.  I spent way too much time on them.  They are basically a butter cookie with a German name and popular in Scandinavian countries, but are a global kind of cookie.  And yes, I’ve eaten way too many of them.

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Olympic Figure Skating from 1992-2018

I’ve been on a major streak of watching past Olympic ice skating performances.  It made me realize how the skating world has changed.  We now have skaters attempting and accomplishing quads and jumps with one or both arms above their heads.  The lift combinations of pairs skaters have gotten bigger and more powerful.  The choreography of today has brought originality and passion to the next level.  Here are some of my favorite performances from the past Olympics and narrowing it down when I was alive and remember watching.  I’m also including the recent performance by Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès from the Grand Prix Final 2018-2019 because it was definitely a milestone for them in their skating career and hopefully will be able to keep this momentum and participate at the 2022 Olympics at Beijing.

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Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko (Unified Team) in 1992 at Albertville.

Ice Dance Free Dance Program who won GOLD.

Philippe Candeloro from FRA (France) in 1994 at Lillehammer.

Single Men’s Short Program who won BRONZE.

Michelle Kwan from USA (United States) in 1998 at Nagano.

Single Women’s Free Skate Program who won SILVER.

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier CAN (Canada) in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

Pairs Short Program who won GOLD.  They tied with Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze RUS (Russia).

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo CHN (China) in 2006 at Torino.

Pair Free Skate Program who won BRONZE.

Evan Lysacek USA (United States) in 2010 at Vancouver.

Single Men’s Free Skate Program who won GOLD.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White USA (United States) in 2014 at Sochi.

Ice Dance Free Skate Program who won GOLD.

Alina Zagitova EUN (Unified Team) in 2018 at Pyeongchang.

Single Women’s Short Program who won GOLD.

Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès FRA (France) in 2018 at Vancouver.

Pair Free Skate at Grand Prix Final (2018-2019) who won GOLD.

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Poem: Predictable

I wonder why you called me.

It was only for a few seconds, but long enough to know

I didn’t like you or care for you.

Your foul words and your ugliness,

these are the things that make me angry,

that send me into battle.

I know a fighter’s words.

You think you’re entitled when you’re not.

It isn’t funny or clever.  You aren’t the miracle people want. 

You’re the rotting fruit hanging from a tree.

You’re the thing people kick out-of-the-way to get to the good stuff.

I will never take your lousy demands and make them my own.

I won’t justify your needs, your views, or your sickness. 

I won’t twist it for your benefit. 

It was the bitterness underneath your words,

it was your unwillingness to recognize you’re touchable that created this space.

Quite shocking to you, but all too familiar for me.

I’ve done this before. 

It’s what I call predictable, but you call it something else.

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Book Recommendation: Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir

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Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date: 1st Touchstone Edition (May 25, 1999)

Page Number: 368

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir is written by Frank McCourt about his alcoholic father, Malachy, and music loving mother, Angela.  They immigrated to the United States from Ireland for a new beginning.  They had a son while living in New York.  His name was Frank, but Malachy’s inability to keep a job forces the family back to Limerick.  Their outlook is not much better in their “new” home, and the McCourts survive off welfare and begging much to Malachy’s disapproval.  Yet, the couple continue to have more children despite having trouble to adequately care for the ones already born including Frank.  He finds enjoyment in school, which reinforces his desire to one day move back to the United States.  Things begin to look up for Malachy when he finds a job in England at the start of WWII, but leaves his family when it ends once and for all.  This leaves Frank and his siblings to fend for themselves and needing to rely on other family members for shelter.  As you can guess, things don’t get any better either, and Frank breaks from his family to join the military.  He gets a job delivering telegrams and saves money for his future move.  Frank finds himself the “man” of the family when his mother and siblings come to live with him.  Dependent on his income, they are able to eat and sleep in relative peace.  He eventually comes into enough money and at the age of nineteen fulfills his dream of returning to the country where he was born.

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Angela’s Ashes won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1997. 

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Movie Recommendation: The Basketball Diaries (1995)

Quote from The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll: “You’re growing up.  And rain sort of remains on the branches of a tree that will someday rule the Earth.  And it’s good that here is rain.  It clears the month of your sorry rainbow expressions, and it clears the streets of the silent armies… so we can dance.”

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Producers: Chris Blackwell, Dan Genetti, Liz Heller, Kathie Hersch, and John Bard Manulis

Director: Scott Kalvert

Writers: novel by Jim Caroll and adapted screenplay by Bryan Goluboff

Major Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jim Carroll, Lorraine Bracco as Jim’s Mother, Mark Wahlberg as Mickey, Bruno Kirby as Swifty, Juliette Lewis as Diane Moody, Michael Imperioli as Bobby, Ernie Hudson as Reggie, James Madio as Pedro, Patrick McGaw as Neutron, Michael Rapaport as Skinhead, and John Hoyt as Billy the Bartender

Rating: R for graphic depiction of drug addiction with related strong violence, sexuality, and language

Running Time: 1 hour and 42 minutes

The Basketball Diaries is drama biography about Jim Carroll’s years as a drug addicted teenager in New York.  Jim is surrounded by students who have a love for basketball as much as him, but this leads to experimentation with drugs and sex in all the wrong places.  Peer pressure will forever be a mainstay in high schools and while this is nothing new, it isn’t something to disregard.   Jim eventually gets sucked further into the trap called heroin where he spends time more time on the streets than at home.  He flirts with crime when he’s not high and has not a care in his world besides supplying his addiction in any way possible. It is finally with the help of a neighbor Jim finds himself on the path to mild redemption, but it isn’t until he is forced to give up heroin does his life turn around.  When The Basketball Diaries ends, he is now older and wiser with things to say.  There are mixed reviews concerning this movie, but I liked it.  The soundtrack is good and the story of teenage angst is still relevant.  I saw this movie quite some time ago, and wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

I rate The Basketball Diaries GOOD at 80%.

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TV Recommendation: Killing Eve (2018-)

Quote from Killing Eve by Villanelle: “Letting yourself into my apartment and drinking from a tiny cup doesn’t make you intimidating, by the way.  It’s just rude.”

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Creator: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Writers: Luke Jennings, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emerald Fennell, George Kay, Vicky Jones, and Rob Williams

Directors: Damon Thomas, Jon East, Harry Bradbeer, and Lisa Brühlmann 

Cast: Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, Darren Boyd as Frank Haleton, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Elena Felton, Owen McDonnell as Niko Polastri, Sean Delaney as Kenny Stowton, David Haig as Bill Pargrave, and Kim Bodnia as Konstantin Vasiliev

Rating: TV-14 for Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore, and Profanity

Episode Number: Eight

Episode Length: 42 minutes

Killing Eve is an BBC America adaptation from Luke Jennings novella series called Codename Villanelle.  This show is about a cat and mouse game played out beautifully between Eve Polastri (Oh) and Villanelle (Comer).  It begins with Eve and her superior, Bill, being recruited by Carolyn Martens to find the assassin going by the name of Villanelle.  As more bodies pile up, Eve and Bill feels the pressure but more desire to get closer to this assassin in order to stop her.  Villanelle seems to be a few paces ahead of Eve whether in a spacious apartment, sprawling grassy fields, or Russian prison grounds.  While things may seem to come a little too easily for Villanelle, it is the way Comer portrays her that makes it believable.  She is the type of character where it is a fool to call her “crazy” or “psycho.”  She is methodical and her tenacity is what drives Eve on her quest to destroy Villanelle.  Oh’s performance as Eve is the other strong point of this show.  Their need to play mind games with each other is the dysfunctional relationship they crave.  The necessary questions are answered by the final episode to bring you back for season 2 (coming out in Spring of 2019), but whether the puddle of blood on the floor will lead to something Eve can’t even predict remains to be seen.

Pisaries Creator rates Killing Eve at 98%

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Today is Bryan Cranston Day

Quote from Trumbo by Dalton Trumbo: (challenging John Wayne) “If you’re gonna talk about World War II as if you personally won it, let’s be clear where you were stationed – on a film set, shooting blanks, wearing makeup, and if you’re going to hit me, I’d like to take off my glasses.”

Quote from The Infiltrator by Robert Mazur: “Roberto, I am glad you are here.  But there is a part of me that wishes you hadn’t taken that risk.”

The first thing I actually remember Bryan Cranston starring in was an X-Files episode called “Drive” where he played Patrick Crump although is most known for his role as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle and Walter White in Breaking Bad.  Trumbo and The Infiltrator are based on true stories, which lends itself to interesting subject matter.  There were more opportunities to inject humor into the dialogue in Trumbo versus The Infiltrator, but Trumbo didn’t have the opportunity for the tension you’d find in crime drama.  I put them pretty much neck and neck in terms of production value.  Below are short descriptions and ratings for both.

Trumbo (2015) is a drama about the screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted in Hollywood during the late 1940s, and the result of it impacted his family, friends, and most of all himself.  His story is adapted from the book by Bruce Cook and the screenplay is written by John McNamara.  It is directed by Jay Roach and stars Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo and Diane Lane as Cleo Trumbo.  In addition to Cranston and Lane, David Maldonado plays Rocco, Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper,  Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson, Alan Tudyk as Ian McLellan Hunter, and Louis C.K. as Arlen Hird.  It has a MPAA rating of R for language including some sexual references and is 2 hours and 4 minutes long. 

The film opens with Trumbo being a top screenwriter for the studios until his Communist Party alignment comes under the spotlight by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  He is forced to serve eleven months in a federal prison and when he gets out, as the saying goes, he’s a changed man.  He now has to write under the radar and does so with the help of his family and screenwriters who weren’t blacklisted.  This lead to him not being able to accept the Academy Awards for Roman Holiday (1953) and The Brave One (1956), but also lead to hardships on a personal level.  He was contacted to write Spartacus (1960) and because of the change in political climate including the election of a new President, the power of Hedda Hopper and anti-Communist Hollywood elites lost their traction.  Trumbo and the other blacklisted writers were no longer seen as villains, and his family was able to resume to more of a level of normalcy.  I give Trumbo a rating of 90%.

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The Infiltrator (2016) is a crime drama about a U.S. Customs Service agent, Robert Mazur, who infiltrates the drug underworld using the alias Bob Musella.  It leads him to the key players under Pablo Escobar and their money laundering schemes.  This adaptation is based from Mazur’s own book and the screenplay is written by Ellen Sue Brown.  It is directed by Brad Furman and stars Bryan Cranston as Bob Musella, John Leguizamo as Emir Abreu, Diane Kruger as Kathy Ertz.  Other cast include Juliet Aubrey as Evelyn Mazur, Joseph Gilgun as Dominic, Yul Vazquez as Javier Ospina, Michael Paré as Barry Seal, Benjamin Bratt as Roberto Alcaino, and Elena Anaya as Gloria Alcaino, and Carsten Hayes as Rudy Armbrecht.  It has a MPAA rating of R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material.  It is 2 hours and 7 minutes long. 

The film opens with Mazur finishing an undercover operation, only to be sucked into another one after some convincing by Emir Abreu.  With the help of Abreu and Dominic, Bob Musella takes shape and works his way up the underworld food chain where he goes through a series of tests.  Operation C-Chase would last two years, which proved hard on himself, but he eventually finds himself where he wants to be.  He is now near the top of the food chain and befriends Robert Alcaino and his wife, Gloria.  Mazur likes to work alone, but is given no choice to work with another undercover agent named Kathy Ertz.  She plays his fun-loving fiancée who has an eye for finer things, but as they continue to work as a team, Ertz becomes even more of a vital part of their undercover operation.  Using the backdrop of a wedding as the operation comes to a close, it is clear to Mazur and Ertz that even though you are paid to bring down the “bad guys” it doesn’t mean relationships aren’t formed.  By the end of Operation C-Chase, these were broken as well as the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) members arrested and charged.  I give The Infiltrator a rating of 90%.

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Five Random Quotes

smithquoterollinsquotegoldblumquotedarwinquotemurdockquote

 

 

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Poem: Connection

Connection

When I finally got the courage to look, she was pressed against the bench.

Her flesh had become the color of wood, and was now disappearing.

I knew my brain had been altered by drugs from the past,

but I never considered myself unable to

control my mind.

I wanted to ask someone around me if they noticed anything,

but no one would make eye contact with me. 

It’s not easy being a person with many needs in an unforgiving world.

Her lack of being drew me to her where she sat. 

She had unnerved me, but still I searched in between the slats for her.

She could’ve been stuck or might have fallen through.

I sniffed the air.  She was definitely gone.

Her absence hadn’t taken my problems away.

In fact, they were sitting on the bench she once sat, begging me to pick them up.

They must’ve fallen when I bent over. 

They eventually would find their way back to me so best to pick them up now.

I shuffled back, past the bench I sat, and made my way to the door.

This is when I saw her again. 

She was in different clothes now, less gloomy and more colorful.

I wiped my eyes with my finger to see if she was really there.

She was still there. 

I closed my eyes for a few seconds and when I opened them,

she was no longer there.

I wasn’t so confident in this vision anymore.

I could’ve created it to combat my loneliness for being an outsider.

I wanted connection, but I wasn’t willing to lose myself in the process.

As my body braced for the change in temperature, for a brief moment, I wondered

if she was an angel.

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Netflix TV Mini-Series Recommendation: Godless (2017)

Quote from Godless by Mary Agnes McNue: “Safe is one of those funny words.  Sometimes means something different to the person who says it and the person who hears it.”

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Producers: Mick Aniceto, Scott Frank, Jessica Levin, Michael J. Malone, Mimi Munson, Casey Silver, and Steven Soderbergh

Director: Scott Frank

Writer: Scott Frank

Major Cast: Jack O’Connell as Roy Goode, Michelle Dockery as Alice Fletcher, Scoot McNairy as Bill McNue, Merritt Wever as Mary Agnes, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Whitey Winn, Tantoo Cardinal as Iyovi, Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin, Adam David Thompson as Gatz Brown, Samantha Soule as Charlotte Temple, Kayli Carter as Sadie Rose, Keith Jardine as Dyer Howe, Rio Alexander as Bud Ledbetter, Samuel Marty as Truckee, Justin Welborn as Floyd Wilson, Luke Robertson as Bill Chick, Tess Frazier as Callie Dunne, Joe Pingue as Alonzo Bunker, Russell Dennis Lewis as Daryl Devlin, Matthew Dennis Lewis as Donnie Devlin, Travis Hammer as John Doe, Marie Wagenman as Trudy McNue, Kim Coates as Ed Logan, and Duane Howard as Shoshone Brave

Rating: TV-MA

Episodes: 7

Running Time: 60 minutes

Godless is a seven episode western drama mini-series about a town called La Belle, New Mexico during the pioneering days.  It is in this town, primarily made up of women due to an earlier mining explosion that wiped out their husbands, where power and revenge is sought.  Three major stories play out.  The first is Frank Griffin and his gang seeking revenge on Roy Goode.  You learn how Roy came into Griffin’s life and his supposed wrongdoing.  While Frank’s only mission is to find Roy, more than one person has eyes on Frank.  The second is the sheriff of La Belle, Bill McNue.  He is dealing with his own personal issues and searching for answers on the road when he should be staying put.  His sister, Mary Agnes, has become a pseudo mother for his children when he is away and is a voice of reason for the women of La Belle.  The third is Alice Fletcher and her family including her son, Truckee, and mother-in-law, Iyovi.  There are two minor stories involving men offering their services to the women of La Belle and the outsiders who have built up a community of their own.  The reason for liking Godless besides it being a western was the overall production value.  There was enough realistic dialogue to tell the audience what was happening without overly stating the obvious.  Some of the cinematography shots, especially of the horse riding, were first rate.  The main cast including the supporting cast had a complete naturalness to their acting.  I know these are general things to like about a TV show, but watching this was like eating a four course meal where the dessert tasted just as great as the appetizer.

I rate Godless GREAT at 90%.

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Hardest Damn Puzzle So Far

This 1000 piece puzzle was more difficult than anticipated.  It took way too long, but finally I’m done with it  The next one is going to be just as challenging.  Bring it on.

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