Flash Fiction: Through the Door

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Before I turned on the light, I couldn’t tell the depth or width of the room, minus a few hints from previous conversations.  How does one prepare for this type of thing?  It goes beyond stepping on the metal strip that covers the ugly transition between carpet and linoleum.  My eyes adjusted and my suspicions were correct.  The room was deep and wide.  It was gigantic.  If compared to a dinosaur, it would’ve had a long tail to support its massive body.  The areas where the light didn’t reach screamed at me to stay away, but this was a journey one shouldn’t shy away.

I was barely into the room when I heard a noise.  I wasn’t sure from which direction it came.  It was soft enough, but loud enough to know it wasn’t part of my imagination.  Lately, it had seized control of my brain, hijacked it if you will, and nothing seemed to make it go away.  It wasn’t that I disliked having an imagination, but my current circumstances permitted me to shut it out of my life for the rest of the year.  Yet, the more I took action to ignore it, the more my imagination played tricks on me.  I felt like a deck of cards being shuffled unnecessarily.

When I located the general direction of the noise, it stopped short of me choosing the picnic basket or copper tub with a blanket half draped over it.  If I went to one but the other had whatever was hiding in it, then I would lose the chance to capture this nuisance.  Standing still in the hopes it would make that gurgling sound, it remained quiet.  It must’ve known I was close.  I envisioned it peering through the tiny holes of the basket.  I thought what was the better place to hide.  Both provided cover and while you could make a quicker getaway in the tub, there was a greater sense of false safety in the basket.  I kneeled down, holding my breath and slowly tugged on the blanket while watching for any motion from the basket.  Friend or foe, I was going to find out.

2019

 

TV Show Recommendation: Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012-)

Quote from Finding Your Roots by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“Every family has untold stories buried in the fog of the past.”
findingyourroots

Executive Producers: Peter W. Kunhardt, Henry Louis Gates, Dyllan McGee, Dalton Delan, Stephen Segaller, Anna Harrington, Anne Harrington, Julie Anderson,

Directors: Hazel Gurland, Jesse Sweet, Sabin Streeter, Josh Gleason, Muriel Soenens, Jamila Wignot, Phil Bertelsen, Hannah Olson, Krista Whetstone, and Lindsey Megrue

Writer: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Host: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Number of Seasons so far: Currently in the 6th

Episodes in each Season: Ten

TV Rating: TV-PG

Running Time of Each Episode: 51-53 minutes

*******
Even with the Ben Affleck snafu of hiding his less favorable ancestral members, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr, is a good show.  The most recent ones I’ve seen is from season four with Fred Armisen and season five with George R.R. Martin.  Sometimes they uncover unsavory parts of the family while other discoveries point to the positive.  Fred Armisen thought he was part Japanese, but his grandfather turned out to be a Korean dancer who took a Japanese name.  George R.R. Martin held the belief he was part Italian from a grandfather who left his grandmother.  When his DNA was tested, he had not a drop of Italian blood in him, but found out he was 22.4% Ashkenazi Jew.  In other words, the grandfather he figured that left his family for another woman turned out not the be the case.  The guests from the episodes travel within and outside the U.S. to find their ancestral historical lineage and the secrets of their family, often having them rethink their long-held beliefs.  This type of show outweighs its criticism because while there are similarities among us with DNA, knowing one’s personal history should be viewed as good even when it includes the bad.

I rate Finding Your Roots GOOD at 80%.

It gets THREE FINGERS.

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2019

 

Movie Recommendation: Nightingale (2018)

Quote from Nightingale by Lieutenant Hawkins

“That’s just the way isn’t it? You don’t want trouble but sometimes trouble wants you.”

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Executive Producers: Ben Browning, Jason Cloth, Aaron L. Gilbert, Brenda Gilbert, and Andrew Pollack

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent

Major Cast: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie, Charlie Shotwell, Michael Sheasby, Matthew Sunderland, Magnoolia Maymuru, Christopher Stollery, Nathaniel Dean, Claire Jones, Luke Carroll, and Dallas Mugarra

MMPA Rating: R for strong violent and disturbing content including rape, language throughout, and brief sexuality

Running Time: 2 hours and 16 minutes

*******

Nightingale has the same pacing of The Piano by Jane Campion, but unlike the character of Ada McGrath, Clare Carroll has some major bones to pick with a few soldiers who left her with nothing to live for except revenge.  The movie begins with Clare, a young Irish woman married to a man named Aidan, trying to set herself free from the grips of a British lieutenant, Hawkins.  The lieutenant along with his sergeant, Ruse, and private, Jago, make it clear to Clare she will not be freed despite finishing her seven year sentence.  She continues to plead for her freedom so she can move with her family.  This only angers Hawkins, punishes her, and leaves for his post in Launceston.  It sets off a chain of events and after being regarded as a liar, Clare follows the soldiers with an Aborginal tracker named Billy.  As they make their way across the harsh lands of Tasmania, Clare and Billy learn about each other, the reasons for risking their lives, and the lengths each will go to get what they think will bring them justice.  Besides being beautifully shot and the friendship that evolves between Clare and Billy, there is a brutal rawness of the whole story.  For all the heavy subject matter, it’s captivating and liberating as well. 

*******

I rate Nightingale PERFECT with FOUR FINGERS AND ONE THUMB at 100%.

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2019

Netflix Movie Recommendation: Spectral (2016)

Quote from Spectral by Dr. Mark Clyne

“My business requires us to prove them. Your technician’s job is to find glitches, so, he sees glitches. Your job is to find the enemy, so, you see the enemy. Locals believe in spirits, so they see spirits. Everyone is biased in one way or another. So, my answer to you right now is that we lack data to support any theory.”

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Executive Producers: Guy Riedel

Directors: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Writers: Ian Fried and Nic Mathieu (story) and George Nolfi (written by)

Major Cast: James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, Bruce Greenwood, Max Martini, Cory Hardict, Clayne Crawford, Gonzalo Menendez, Ursula Parker, Aaron Serban, and Stephen Root

MMPA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi combat action

Running Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes

*******

Spectral is an action, mystery, and sci-fi movie about mysterious human like creatures that disappear and appear, making them hard to outrun and kill them.  The U.S. military seeks the help of Mark Clyne, a researcher and doctor.  After he arrives on the base, he watches camera footage of the mysterious creatures from the hyper spectral goggles he designed.  To get a closer look at these creatures to form a sound opinion, Clyne and CIA officer, Fran Madison, with a Delta Force team leave the base.  They find the remaining Utah team members and the use of a hyper spectral camera locates these hidden creatures.  Many are killed but they chase after them at a rapid pace, making the team Delta Force team smaller and having to defend themselves with little resources.  The survivors find shelter in a factory where two children are found.  The girl helps unravel the mystery of the creatures.  After they leave for a civilian bunker, it is here Clyne works on the weapons necessary to kill the creatures based on a hunch.  Along with the remaining soldiers, Clyne and Madison head to the power plant most capable of creating these human like creatures and the battle starts.  The reveal of the creatures origins is the best part and while the movie is slow to start, it picks up and by the middle of it, you want to know how it is going to end.

*******

I rate Spectral GREAT with FOUR FINGERS at 85%.

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2019

 

TV Show Recommendation: The Misery Index (2019-)

 

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Creators: Andy Breckman, Ben Newmark, and Dan Newmark

Executive Producers: Michael Lopez, Adam Bold, Andy Breckman, Daniel Calin, Howard Klein, Jason Mauro, Ben Newmark, and Dan Newmark

Director: Ryan Polito

Writers: Scotty Landes, Andy Breckman, Ben Newmark, Dan Newmark, and Mason Steinberg

Cast: Jameela Jamil, Brian Quinn, James Murray, Joe Gatto, and Sal Vulcano

Episodes: 5 so far

Running Time of Each Episode: 21 minutes

*******
For all the dangling of the carrot before the show premiered, I was excited for the first episode.  I watched it and while it isn’t as funny as Impractical Jokers, it has enough miserableness and suspense to keep your attention. This game show has two teams competing against each other.  The four friends (Q, Murray, Joe, and Sal) are paired with two contestants who have done something embarrassing in their own lives (who hasn’t done this) and are introduced to the audience and viewers.  They watch real-life events and based on a scale from 1 to 100 and scored by the experts.  The contestant who advances to the final round gets the chance to win $30,000.  It reminds me of Hollywood Game Night a little bit, but The Misery Index has something it doesn’t and that is the antics of the four life long friends and the facial expressions of Jameela Jamil.  It airs on Tuesday on TBS and has a rating of TV-14.

I rate The Misery Index GOOD at 80%.

It gets THREE FINGERS.

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2019

 

Journal Entry Type #24: It’s Been a Good 1.5 Years California, but I Miss You!

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I talk a lot about Los Angeles and missing California, but it’s because I do miss it in some respects.  It’s a great place to live for the weather minus the fires (those also set intentionally by arsonists).  The weather is nice because who doesn’t like the sun and despite “the valley” getting hotter, it’s still tolerable.  I can say that now even more since I moved to an even hotter place.  You’re not too far away from the ocean either.  I guess having the option to visit the ocean when it’s an hour or two away, depending on which beach you want to see is what I miss the most.  My next step in life involved moving and moving I did.  I’ve made tentative plans to go back to LA for a few days in 2020, call it mini vacation if you will, and visit some of the areas I’ve missed.  I also would like to visit some destinations I never did when I lived there.  I suppose it will make it all the sweeter in 2020.  The other reason of posting this is to comment that more people moved out of California in 2018 than moved into the state according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.  People don’t seem to be persuaded to stay in a state where many cities have a high cost of living.  Yet, there are others who want the California lifestyle and can afford it.  Approximately 691,000 people moved out of CA and 501,000 people moved into CA in 2018.  Where did the people who moved out of CA relocate to?  Look below and I promise this is the last blog about CA and LA this year.  I also included the top 10 most expensive U.S. cities to live in from Kiplinger in 2019.  Los Angeles was ranked 12th, behind Orange County at 11th and above San Diego at 13th.  If you want to see all the Kiplinger statistics, click on the the words MORE STATS below.

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MORE STATS

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2019

Book Recommendations: First Seven of John Grisham

Quote by John Grisham

“In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.”

  1. The Firm was first released in 1991 hardcover by Random House.  The Mass Market Paperback is 544 pages.  The story is about a recent graduate of Harvard Law School who is offered a job at a small tax law firm in Tennessee.   He’s living the good life with his wife who is a teacher until an unexpected death occurs.
  2. The Pelican Brief was first released in 1992 hardcover by Doubleday.  The Mass Market Paperback is 436 pages.  The story is about uncovering the assassinations of two Supreme Court Justices after the fact by a Tulane University law student and a reporter for The Washington Post. 
  3. The Client was first released in 1993 hardcover by Doubleday.  The Mass Market Paperback is 556 pages.  The story is about a missing U.S. Senator from Louisiana and a United States Attorney hellbent on finding him even if it includes steamrolling over a young boy and his lawyer.
  4. A Time to Kill  was first released in 1992 hardcover by Doubleday.  The Mass Market Paperback is 672 pages.  The story is about a father seeking revenge on two men who kidnapped and assaulted his daughter in rural Mississippi during the 1980s.
  5. The Chamber was first released in 1992 hardcover by Doubleday.  The Mass Market Paperback is 688 pages.  The story is about a lawyer seeking to get a stay of execution for a client who is also his grandfather and doubts that he committed these murders even though he is tied to the KKK.
  6. The Rainmaker was first released in 1992 hardcover by Doubleday.  The Mass Market Paperback is 608 pages.  The story is about a young attorney taking on a case against a life insurance company that denies medical claims for profit.
  7. Runaway Jury was first released in 1992 hardcover by Doubleday.  The Mass Market Paperback is 560 pages.  The story is about the negligence of a gun manufacturing company and a jury consultant they hire to have a verdict in their favor. 

*******


The first seven of his books were all made into movies.  I listed them in the order they were released.  I’d say watch The Firm, The Client, A Time to Kill first, Runaway Jury and The Rainmaker second, and last The Pelican Brief and The Chamber.

  1. The Firm (1993) was directed by Sidney Pollack and stars Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Hal Holbrook, and David Strathairn.
  2. The Pelican Brief (1993) was directed by Alan Pakula and stars Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard, John Heard, Tony Goldwyn, James Sikking, John Lithgow, and Hume Cronyn.
  3. The Client (1994) was directed by Joel Schumacher and stars Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro, Mary-Louise Parker, J.T. Walsh, Anthony Edwards, Anthony LaPaglia, Bradley Whitford, and Kim Coates.
  4. A Time to Kill  (1996) was directed by Joel Schumacher and stars Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Ashley Judd, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Fricker, and Patrick McGoohan.
  5. The Chamber (1996) was directed by James Foley and stars Chris O’Donnell, Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Lela Rochon, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry, and DAvid Marshall Grant.
  6. The Rainmaker (1997) was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Danny DeVito, Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, and Mickey Rourke.
  7. Runaway Jury (2003) was directed by Gary Felder and stars John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, and Rachel Weisz.

2019

Mid-November Forbes Quotes

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Five Short Poems

Creaking Before the Chomping

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The creaking in the deep crake.
Where does it begin?
Deep from within, I think.
It stops when I do.
How soon to be you for a day?
Tell me with candy in your mouth.
Chomping and chomping,
until you stomp out the flavor.

Bursting

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Arrive in your best uniform,
ironed to be smooth,
much like your skirt pleats.
They accentuate your curves,
the way your hips sway.
I am bursting inside.
Happy like gum.

Pencils

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Blue, red, orange, purple and faded yellow ones
with teeth marks of kids no longer kids.
Some have money, some have none.
Some are alive, some are dead.
Some can run, some only walk.

We grow old and time stops for no one.

Errors Made

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Survey the land that your feet reside.
Don’t stretch your hand out too far,
for they will hear you,
and they know who you are.
No amount of politeness matters.
The water’s choppy and the coconuts have fallen.
Get back into your wooden boat,
but you can’t.

It has floated away.

Roller Coaster

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Jump inside, buckle up,
waiting to climb up and up,
above treetops and restaurants.
The anticipation as it chugs along.
On the top, getting ready for the descent.
Whee!  Hands in the air!
Screaming all around me!
Gaining speed to the top and plummeting,
my stomach twisting.
Whee!  Hands in the air! 
It’s going around again.
Eyes wide open now.

2019

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