Friday, January 25, 2013

Tipping My Hat on the 25th

What kind of a Scotsman am I anyway?

I awoke to the morning show folks on the radio discussing the fact that it was Robert Burns Day and that, of course, leads to the topic of haggis. Or is it 'Haggis' with a capital 'Haitch'?

This yummy visual courtesy of

As I was saying, the morning show crew surprised me by the announcement that it was Burns Day and one of the guys mentioned that haggis "looks like the kind of thing people ate before they invented food" ...I can't says as I can argue against that.

I was once visiting with my cousin as a boy and we were digging about in the kitchen cupboards, foraging for food, and came across a tin of haggis. I didn't know that haggis was tinned. I thought that it was one of those beasties that was freshly slain in the morning and served up at supper time with a wee dram (or four) of the hard stuff.

Regardless of what you are eating tonight, have a wee toast of your favourite beverage to remember Robert Burns on his 254th birthday. Unless you forget about the day. Like I did.

I will close with a quote that I believe is attributed to the great man...

"There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing".

Well said.

Monday, December 10, 2012

...and the Monkey is Included in the Price of the Benno?

photo courtesy of Bronwyn Page
 You kinda had to figure that it would take a monkey story to bring me out of my slumber.

Yes, the blogosphere has been positively electric the past 24hours with updates on Darwin, the 8 month old rhesus macaque that was found in the parking lot of a Toronto Ikea store yesterday. One's first thought is that the little bugger had escaped from the zoo. However, his diaperclad butt and his double-breasted shearling coat might be reason enough for one to speculate that he had fled from his style-conscious owners.

And yes...ownership of monkeys is illegal in Toronto. I'm sure that it's the same in pretty much all Canadian municipalities. You can link to the first story I found this morning here by the Toronto Sun. His condition was updated in the afternoon in a Globe and mail story found here. They indicated that he was, "...having a bad day" however they did locate a temporary home for him at a primate shelter NE of Toronto. A tough day, indeed. Way worse than mayor Rob Ford's situation of late.

I have already been reminded today by 'she who shall not be named' that I am in need of a new winter coat and even the monkey is better dressed than me. Don't get me wrong. I really feel for the little guy. Stolen from his mother in a foreign country, taken to Montreal and forced to learn French...OK, so I'm exaggerating a bit. I think that people who smuggle creatures like little Darwin should be locked up in jail. That's my political statement for the day.

On a more commercial note, there are probably thousands of children around the world today pleading with their parents..."If I can't have a pony then I want one of THOSE for Christmas!"

Perhaps somebody is already hard at work--marketing little Darwin dolls. Complete with interchangeable coats and tiny optional hats. And when you pull the string the little dear poops into its diaper.

Over and out. Hope that you all are having a better day than Darwin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Anthology Release

As my good friend Cathy Webster pointed out the other day, it's only a few sleeps until the release of The Best of Friday Flash (volume 2). Or BOFF2, as it is fondly referred to within the Friday family of writers. Forget the jokes...we've heard 'em before...

I was up early this morning to write create finely sculpt this blog post to announce that we both have stories that made the cut and will appear in that fine anthology. I am quietly celebrating...having added champagne to my morning orange juice. This is a grand substitute to the harsh-tasting vodka that normally flavours that beverage. I now hold the date of October 30th in as high regard as Christmas Day and that special day in May when my income tax return magically appears in the mail box. But enough about me, lets talk about BOFF2.

The Friday Flash family was created in 2009 by Jon Strother. It's an Internet meme designed to increase your visibility as a fiction writer. The idea is simple enough. Write a piece of flash fiction, defined as 1000 words or less, post it to your blog, and then on Friday announce it to the world via Twitter or some other social network along with the link to your post. If you use Twitter be sure to include the hash tag, #fridayflash. You can read more about Friday Flash here.

The Best of Friday Flash (volume 2) can be described as nothing less than an international affair. It is published by eMergent Publishing, an Anglo-Australian small press founded founded by Paul Anderson and Jodi Cleghorn in 2009. The anthology contains short stories by established and emerging writers from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Italy and a couple of other countries yet to be named.

I have enjoyed the work of many writers in this anthology for a long time through the Friday Flash group and am pleased to have my name in the table of contents with them. I am also pleased to see that Canada is so well represented in the Best of Friday Flash (volume 2).  Cathy Webster, that fine writer from Bracebridge, has two stories in this anthology. Other Canadians? You will also find the writing of T.S. Bazelli, Lauren Cude, and ex-pat Jen Brubacher who now lives in the U.K. (we won't hold that against her!). Please click on their names and check out their blogs.

If you are a fan of short, crisp stores pick up a copy of the Best of Friday Flash (volume 2) by ordering online. You can order this publication in paperback or you can download it in various formats. Click here to order and see a full table of contents for this anthology.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#Fridayflash~ Thor's Hammer


The three children floated on their raft in Diablo’s pond. Meaghan, usually boisterous, was quiet today. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and she stared into the murky water.
Luthor nudged her with his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

She shrugged in response.

“Holy crap! Did you see that trout jump?” Dickie shouted.

“Shut up, I’m talking to Megs,” Luthor shouted, swatting him with a rolled up horror magazine.

“Jeez, sor-ree!”

“We’re your friends, right?” Luthor continued. Meaghan stared ahead, nodding slightly. “Tell us. Maybe we can help.”

“It’s just…I’d really miss you guys if we moved.” she said.

“But you told us your mom wouldn’t move again until you finished school. That’s still four years away,” Dickie said.

“Yeah…,” Meaghan answered, tears tracked down her pale cheeks.

“…it’s really got to do with that man—“

“What man?” Luthor said.

“You’ve seen him around. That creepy, bald guy at the end of Cochrane Street?”

“I know him. He hardly ever goes out.”

“I’ve seen him too. He jogs every day. Just before dark,” Dickie added.

“Tell us…,” Luthor whispered.

“He’s talked rude to me. Dirty stuff. “He also touched me…,” she added, glancing at Luthor through reddened eyes.

Luthor grasped the edge of the raft, his knuckles white. “Did you tell your mom?”

“She wouldn’t do nothing. The same thing happened in Jersey three years ago.”

“What did she say then?” Dickie asked.

“She told me it was all a misunderstanding. A week later she had us packed and moved here.”

“I know you’re worried,” Luthor said. “But this is wrong and we’re going to fix it.” Dickie nodded in agreement.


“Don’t you worry about it, Megs.”

* * * * *

photo courtesy of
The boys had found a large, moss-covered boulder on a hillside far from the path. Luthor’s grandpa called it an erratic and said they were scattered all over New Hampshire during the last ice age. For three days they removed dirt from beneath the rock, propping it up with long bits of wood wedged into the dark soil.

On the Friday evening before Labor Day, Luthor stayed in the woods while Dickie waited near the jogging trail. As the bald man neared, the boy, frantically waving his arms, jumped into his path.

“Please help, mister—my friend’s hurt!”

“What happened?”

“I think he broke his leg. Come quick!” Dickie said, and dashed through the trees. The man hesitated for a moment and then followed the boy. They ran far into the woods, eventually stopping at the boulder.

Dickie was breathless. “Down there, mister,” he said, pointing under the erratic.

The man bent over the moaning boy. “Are you hurt?”

Dickie snatched the hammer that lay against the base of the rock and struck the man in the temple. Luthor scampered from the hole as his friend swung again, sinking the claw into the base of the man’s skull. He screamed, clutching at the hammer as Dickie shoved him into the void.

Luthor grabbed a shovel and rammed the blade into the man’s throat, unleashing a gush of blood. “That’s for Meaghan, you perv!” he hissed.

The boys removed the wooden supports, causing the boulder to list forward. They shoveled the excess dirt around the edges of the rock and covered the soil with moss, leaves and branches.

* * * * *

Luthor watched the grey clouds from his office; the rain pelted the window and wound down the glass in sparkling tears.

The intercom voice startled him. “Dr. Guttormson, your patient is in exam two.”

Luthor strode down the sterile hall, rapped the door and entered the exam room. A thin, vaguely familiar woman sat on the bench. She smiled and offered her hand. “I’m Meaghan King. You probably don’t remember me, but my name was Murphy when we were in junior high.”

Luthor chuckled and squeezed her hand.” Of course I remember you, Megs. How did you end up in sunny Seattle?”

“I’m in computer sales and my work transferred me here. Dickie Stein said I should look you up.”

“Dickie? We haven’t talked in years. When did you see him?”

“Years ago, after we moved back to New Hampshire. He showed up at my door one day selling life insurance. What a grand chat we had.”

“That’s great,” Luthor said. He swallowed and leaned closer to Meaghan. “Didn’t you and your mom leave town because of that bald guy…on Cochrane Street?”

She thought for a moment and laughed. “Oh that! Mom got another job in Boston and moved us away. Practically overnight. What I told you guys was a huge pile of crap. He never touched me—he never even talked to me.”

* * * * *  

Forgive me readers, as I haven't submitted a #Fridayflash story in over 22 months! The days leading up to Halloween seemed like a good time to throw a horror story out there, so I dusted off this one from 2010. My story, Thor's Hammer, previously appeared in 52 Stitches-Horror Stories (vol. 2), edited by Aaron Polson and published by his Strange Publications. A scary little gem to pick up before Halloween. Aaron is a horror writer second-to-none and you can follow him at his blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mushrooms and Fancy Hats

As with most conversations, I will start off by observing the weather...

We had a sub-tropical day yesterday with a high of about 20C (70F). It was mainly overcast so it didn't feel as warm as it could have. That's a far cry from the hint of snow that were observed on the rooftops of some parts of town on the weekend. I'm no weather man, nor do I play one on TV, but I believe that this spike has to do with the tropical storm Raphael headed in our direction. They are predicting it will pass us somewhere to the east so we won't be battered as we were by Leslie about three weeks ago.

The warm summer and comfortable fall have the grass growing like prairie wheat. I'm soon going to have to order ask bribe the boy to leave the cavernous depths of the basement to go out and mow the lawn.

Upon closer observation, I noticed a dark-coloured mushroom growing in the grass(ignore the weeds). This blackish (blue-ish?) nasty looking thing had me wondering if our front garden had been hijacked by  psilocybin (magic) mushrooms 'farmers' looking for a safe place to grow their crop. After a few minutes of internet research--Google images--I managed to find several photos of magic mushrooms.

photo courtesy of
 The one pictured to the right certainly does NOT look like the fungus growing in the lawn. It's a good thing that I didn't add that to last night's pasta...whoa, just had a flash back to an old Cheech & Chong skit from the 70' remember that old shtick, don't you? I shall paraphrase...

"Looks like dog shit, smells like dog shit, feels like dog shit, tastes like dog shit. Must be dog shit. Good thing we didn't step in it!".

All that aside, supposing that it WAS psilocybin and I HAD added it to last nights linguine then perhaps I would have given up my trusty fez for some new head-gear. Something a little reminiscent of the old propeller beanies (see below). Were they from the 50's? Don't ask me...I wasn't around in those days. Perhaps, though, if I had some 'special' mushrooms I could be magically transported back...

"You want me to fly where...?"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Michael, Kerry and Dora

I started typing this blog post with the idea that it would be titled 'Thirty Days Hath September' because it reminded me of the promise I made to myself (weeks ago) that I would post at least once this month. Talk about getting in under the wire...

The three names in the post title seemed to be more topical to the last couple of weeks.

I have been on 'vacation' the past week. Partly because my sister, Kerry, was visiting from Edmonton and partly because it was my 50th birthday during the week (and Kerry flew in to help talk me off the ledge). She had a lovely visit with our parents up the shore and then she spent a few days here in town to catch up on current events with us and with old friends. Kerry enjoyed kayaking in Cape Broyle, hiking at Cape Spear and generally browsing the downtown shops.

It was on one of these walks that she stumbled upon the legendary Dora, who had obviously hit upon hard times (see photo below).

Dora is down on the mean streets of St. John's

Dora had dried leaves stuck in her hair, was clad only in a pink bikini, and was lying on the steps of what had once been a popular strip joint (or so I am told) on the east end of Duckworth Street.

Almost forgot...her feet had been chewed off as well...

The scene of the crime
Kerry documented the sad scene with a photo (no doubt to sell to the scandal mags) and we went on our way, trying to forget that this young tart woman had once been a legendary explorer who had won the hearts of young girls (and 10% of the boys) around the world. Two days later we again passed by the building and found that Dora had crawled down the side alley (left) of the same boarded up building. My sister, used to seeing other sad souls on the mean streets of Edmonton, was moved nearly to tears and felt that Dora needed a helping hand (and prosthetic feet also).

Dora became our travelling companion for the rest of the day. I tried several times to engage the young woman in conversation but sadly my Spanish is lacking. The only understandable thing she muttered was, "Ola buy me rum, si?"  My sister insisted I pose with Dora to prove to my blogger friends that I had met a bona fide celebrity (below).

Am a bit embarrassed here because as I reached for Dora's arm I accidentally grabbed her left breast (not the reason I am smiling)

Kerry tried fruitfully to take several photos of Dora with scenes of the city in background. The young star had obviously 'gone Hollywood' and was very difficult to work with. The only usable photo (all the others had her showing 'too much skin' or flipping us the bird) I will display below.

Dora, with Cabot Tower in the background, did the splits (we had her readjust her bikini bottom in an attempt at modesty)

Kerry soon tired of the scene and was quickly over Dora. She posed for a photo with her new friend Schooner the Newfoundland dog on Signal Hill (below).

Kerry, her new BFF Schooner and the vast Atlantic beyond
 Also on the agenda this week was when V and myself got together with writing buddy Laurita Miller and met up with cyber-friend Michael Solender and his wife 'sweetie' in a downtown coffee shop. They had travelled from North Carolina to spend two weeks here at various locations on 'The Rock' and seemed to have had a lovely time. I think that it's great to finally meet writing buddies in person but sadly the opportunities are so few and far between (yeah, I know...tres cliche).

Michael Solender, Alan Davidson and Laurita Miller strike a pose for the paparazzi

Thanks all for dropping by...I shall post an undisclosed time, on an undisclosed date.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Money for Consumables

When one I was younger, one of those products was very popular with me...

OK, maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself but my opening remark will make more sense by the end of this post. Honest.

Myself and V recently spent a few days in the Gros Morne area. A little getaway while the boy is attending sea cadet camp in Nova Scotia. We again vacationed  'in country'  this year because  a) it's way too expensive to get off of this island and  b) we are saving our money because we'd like to do some home renovations in the spring.

I will eventually get around to posting a few photos of the Northern and Baie Verte Peninsulas. However, I am at the mercy of my technical wizard who has not yet magically moved the photos from the camera/Playbook to the computer.

Our hotel in Cow Head (for some reason, a place name that always gets me thinking about "The Godfather") surprised us by giving us a room key to a cabin instead of a hotel room. This cabin, in fact, was a bungalow with five rooms. The front two rooms had unimpressive views of the gravel parking lot but the three rooms at the back had back doors that opened on to small decks with a fantastic view of Shallow Bay. We could throw a rock and hit the water. Nice.

We had to walk a couple of minutes to get to the hotel for meals and to attend the plays performed nightly in the theatre next door to the hotel. We also made several pilgrimages to the hotel for ice to keep our beverages cool. It was on one of these runs that I noticed all of the items for sale in the vending machine that shared the same alcove as the ice dispenser. Chocolate bars and chips aplenty. They even had the foresight to put in little bags with shaving stuff and toothpaste and other toiletries that may have been forgotten at home.

In the bottom left hand corner of the vending machine (behind the grubby, fingerprint-smeared glass) I spied two items that made me laugh. Let me wasn't the items as much as their juxtaposition that was the source of amusement. To the right was a small packet of Fritos BBQ Hoops for $1.50 and to the left was a single Trojan condom in a shiny blue wrapper for $3.50.

Alan's disclaimer...I am not officially endorsing either of these products even though in my youth one of them was very popular with me.

While V hunched over the ice machine, coaxing out its semi-solid contents, I gazed at the two items in the dimly lit corner of the vending machine and wondered how many men over the years have laboured over the choice of which 'RING' to spend their limited vacation dollars on. Or how many kids have thought, "That's WAY too much money for a water balloon!"

Remember: get the one that gives you the most happiness.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Upon closer examination, isn't life really a series of firsts?

The forming years...your first step, first day at school, first time riding a bike.

Your coming of age...your first date, first time driving a car, first time having sex (with someone else).

I have of course driven a car but have not ridden a motorcycle. I did ride on the back of one driven by a male college classmate of mine. High speed and a late spring snow storm made the two hour trip a special experience. I clutched him from behind in a most un-manly fashion. I hope that I didn't leave scars (either physical or psychological). The motorcycle fiasco was both a first and a last for me. Though one day I still hope to attend the Friday the 13th bike rally that occurs in Port Dover, Ontario. Every Friday the 13th, the population of that quiet, Lake Erie town of 6400 rises by tens of thousands.

The firsts continue in the adult years. The job, the first marriage (I say first because some people treat marriage as sport that should be indulged in with semi-regularity like mud wrestling or bowling) and the birth of the first child.

I experienced another first on Friday. I had booked the day off work as a technician was coming over to wire up the house with FibreOp that is now the new rage. V and I drove to the office of 'the competition' to return their cable box. The run around that we received from them only reinforced the notion that we had made the right decision in switching companies. Anyway...after that stop, V wanted to stop at a public park where she knew that a co-worker was getting married. This woman has only been with the them for three weeks so none of the staff were invited to the wedding. As we walked past the park the bride recognized V and waved her over and invited us to witness the ceremony.

I have driven past that park many times before and have never noticed the stand of pine trees in the north-west corner...past the public swimming pool and just east of the ball diamond. The trees formed a tight oval and the group of 30 or so family and other witnesses stood on top of the small, grassy mound within the stand of trees.

The wedding was the first that I have attended in my six years here in Newfoundland. The day was sunny and warm and the two women held hands as the vows were read and the marriage was made official and binding. The wording struck us as similar to our own wedding. Simple vows and one reading by a guest and the ceremony was done in about 15 minutes. The wedding was obviously a low-budget affair, yet its simplicity was charming and easily one of the nicest weddings that I've ever attended (and the first I attended that I was NOT invited to).

When I got up yesterday morning I didn't think that I would be 'crashing' my first gay wedding.

I should try that again some time. I wonder what tomorrow has in store...