Short Fiction

Week 382: Good Old Days on Viagra; Five Stories That Do Not Need Enhancement, and a Salute to 90’s Cinema

As I sit here at five o’clock on a June Wednesday morning, wakeful aphids zooming through my open window from the garden and gathering on my screen, and as I unsteadily wait for the coffee, nicotine and little pill I took to kick in, I reach into my mind and pull out the first thing I find: Let’s go with The Good Old Days–when all was great and there were fewer aphids.

Everyone needs Good Old Days to fondly recall and inflate with virtues not evident until a minimum of one generation has passed. The constantly under construction present and a future whose only certainty is our eventual permanent disappearance often conjure the Ghosts of the Good Old Days; those shades of What Never Really Was, whose remember when voices speak sweetly of yesterday.

Our increasingly labeling society tends to measure out The Good Old Days by the decade. All a time gone by needs to ascend to Good Oldayian status is a decade to call home. I believe that this is a 20th century thing–for I’ve never read olde literature in which someone in 1202 pines for the 1170’s. How else to explain the 1990’s ascension to old times not forgotten? (I’m certain there are many “elses”–but the desired effects of my addictions remain tardy.)

Along with The X-Files, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the dying twitches of rock music at the start of the decade, I recall the American 90’s as being mostly the Decade of the Inappropriate Penis. Bill Clinton got his “serviced” in the White House; Michael Jackson had his photographed by the cops, Woody Allen shared his with his step daughter, Mike Tyson forced his on a beauty pageant contestant and Lorena Bobbit tossed her husband’s into a field.

It was also the decade of tribal tattoos, the mushroom hairstyle, the mean IQ drifting low enough to include a large number of people who actually thought that O.J. Simpson was innocent, dicey dial up connections, Kevin Costner’s retreating hairline, Napster, the dawn of texting, way too many magazine covers featuring the cast of Friends, goddam Cher just having to discover goddam auto tune and Sonny a tree.

But worst of all it was the final complete decade in which you could smoke in taverns. And it was the era in which espresso stands broke out like warts. Thus towns began to lose their souls; for how can you possibly trust a place that has more Starbucks than bars?

The preceding is indicative of the Good Old Days’ prejudices of a person who knows that the 80’s were the Good Old Days, and that the prolonged losing season that was the Decade of the Infamous Penis was accurately presented on The Jerry Springer Show. The sweet 80’s. The music was better, SNL was funnier, beer colder, smiles warmer, and, of course, as always, fewer aphids. Back when Mike Tyson was a fearsome warrior, Woody Allen a genius, OJ a legend, Michael Jackson was the harmlessly eccentric King of Pop, and no one had ever heard of the Bobbits or Clintons.

And yet, like people, no decade is completely bad or good. So for those of you whose idea of high comedy was Tim Allen making stupid grunting noises, or believe that Slick Willie “didn’t have sex with that woman,” or who equate Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey with Olivier and Geilgud, I will close this post with a list of films from the 90’s that made up for Waterworld. Rocky V, Independence Day (I don’t care if I’m the only person on the planet who hates that turkey), Godfather III and the ceaseless conversion of bad TV shows from the past to film.

Now that I’ve exhausted the content of my mind (yet continue to see plenty of aphids) let’s move on to five elevating items from the recent past.

Lately, there’s been a recurring situation in which the five authors of the week have a combined sum of nearly two hundred appearances. Mainly, this is due to four writers new to the site and Tom Sheehan, who usually appears every week. It would be odd for the previous sentence to exist if the event described hadn’t happened again. Well, it has–and, incredibly, there is a nearly an eighty year age difference between the week’s youngest and eldest contributors. A fact that validates the past and gives hope for the future, and covers a tremendous swath of Good Old Days.

There are ghosts and regrets, hope, acts that warrant damnation, and sadness and humour in this collection. All in all they are human stories written by persons who are able to create vivid emotions with twenty-six symbols and a smattering of punctuation marks (maybe a stray number or two–but hardly any math).

Ella Paul kicked off the week with Room For the Dead, Room For the Damned. I’m guessing that Ella didn’t watch a lot of Barney the Purple Dinosaur while growing up. Or–at least she saw through the bullshit pretty clearly. This is an amazingly dark bit of work about a terrible situation. One character fails (for the moment) to victimize herself and the other the type of hero that no one deserves. Ella stands back and neither raises her voice nor does she offer an explanation. Things happen, and they aren’t always pretty things.

Sarah Jackson debuted Tuesday with The Photographer’s House. We see lots of ghost stories in submissions, but few as well done as this–and certainly none are better. The denouement is brilliantly handled and comes to “life” guided by Sarah’s remarkably clear and restrained hand.

Wednesday jumped out from behind the bushes with a welcomed surprise called The Executor by Barb Lundy. This is a brilliant bit of misdirection that gets you thinking one way before deftly springing a wow finish. In fact all the tales this week climax brilliantly, thus preventing me from saying too much due to the fact that I know some of you have yet to read them. But I am certain that is an oversight, perhaps caused by your own aphid troubles

Just when I think I’ve said all the good things I can about the prolific genius of Tom Sheehan, he does something that requires me to say more. His poetic yet plain spoken touch and his singular style of phrasing continue to grow, as evident in Thursday’s Whispers in the Grass. Tom has yet to show any indication of self satisfaction in his work. It continues forever young, like the author.

E.P. Lande closed the week with his look at a setting mind with The Outsider. This is another topic we see plenty of, but rarely is it done with such taste and finesse. I must also praise E.P. for his hard work. For some time he was like one of those footballers who make excellent moves but the shot hits the woodwork. This time, to squeeze the metaphor for all she’s worth, he found the back of the net.

I close with a list that says “Sorry, 90’s, kinda, sorta.” I hope that it doesn’t keep the some of you who have yet to read all the week’s stories away from your happy task.

Top 90’s films

(Note: I have omitted what I feel is the most important film of the decade, Schindler’s List, from this list because I consider it to be more of a historical document than just a movie. LA)

Pulp Fiction

Boogie Nights

Trainspotting

Se7en

Tombstone

Unforgiven

Babe (yes, the Sheep Pig)

Ed Wood

Goodfellas

Leila

10 thoughts on “Week 382: Good Old Days on Viagra; Five Stories That Do Not Need Enhancement, and a Salute to 90’s Cinema”

    1. David,
      I forgot about Fargo. I love that movie. Also forgot Jackie Brown, now that I think of it. Wish I could forget the jury movie with Paulie Shore in it.
      The Deer have pretty much plundered the roses. It leaves the aphids fewer options.
      Thank you,
      Leila

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As most of you know I’m an old man. My 1960s –
    Insanely attractive and bright female friend (never sure about our status) who was deeply troubled and I was and am completely socially incompetent – a wild ride. She as well as an earlier something has inspired a lot of my stories
    Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in increasing order of my activity. First weed and finding the British invasion as American Rock and blues diministhed.
    The freedom of an urban college after the strait jacket of high school. followed by misery at Eugene OR in mathematics.
    Rolling Stones, Beatles, Doors, Beach Boys.
    Reading serious books that I can’t remember now. John Barth, J. D. Salenger (but never finished “Catcher” – HATED Holden), Konstanzkis.
    Beginning of Bond movies, Michael Caine, Peter Sellers (saw lots of his early stuff), the introduction of “dirty movies” as the the Hayes office was scrapped.
    Driving from Oregon to Georgia to start my teaching gig at Morehouse College.

    Thinking on this, if fiction dies out, I’ll return to bio “Cities”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Doug.

    The 60’s is the biggest decade warts and all. And movies–2001, Lawrence of Arabia, Once Upon a Time in the West–but I never “got” Jerry Lewis. No decade since has surpassed it. Certainly not the 90’s.
    Leila

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah yes the sixties. Even more than that Sixties Liverpool I was a young and naive teen but rescued from total boredom by – believe it or not – the St John’s Ambulance Brigade. As a St John’s nurse I was able to go to places my dad would never have approved of. Football victory parades. Wrestling matches, various gatherings around ‘pop groups’ protest rallies. I went to The Cavern when it was really in Matthew Street and then as the decade came to an end I married and went on an airplane for the first time on my honeymoon. I’ve been and seen and done much since then but The Sixties in Liverpool were really excellent. Music – The Beatles all the way though I do now appreciate The Stones as well. Gerry, Freddy (and his dreamers not the one with Bohemians – rest in peace excellent person) and I have to admit to Cliff Richards – hides head under cushion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Leila,
    Brilliant as always.
    Your mind is keen, your perception is acute and your intellect is exceptional!!
    I agree with every film mentioned, they are exceptional, except one….
    …But ‘Babe’…Really!!!
    Regarding films, there are a few of Quentin’s that could be there – ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and my favourite ‘True Romance’, I think he also had something to do with ‘Dusk Till Dawn’. (He is the only guy that excites me when he has a film coming out!!!)
    I’d also throw in, if I haven’t got the dates wrong, ‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Midnight Sting’ and the film that the fucking writers of ‘Forrest Gump’ ripped off, ‘Bad Boy Bubby’!!
    Anyone reading this, if you haven’t seen any of Leila’s list then have a look!!
    Hugh

    Like

    1. Thank you Hugh–
      I only include Babe because I used to watch my nieces when they were small, thus I have Babe and Aladdin memorized. I later saw an episode of the X Files (The brilliant “Home”) in which Scully had the same thing happen to her for the same reason.
      Shawshank is very good as was Dusk Til Dawn. Quentin wanted Travolta originally for the Clooney part. (I was set to include R. Dogs but wanted to go with one Q.T. film)
      Leila

      Like

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