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Week 386: What’s It All About, Five, No Four Works of High Fiction and the A to Z of Buying a Round For the Unsteady Jukebox

What’s It All About?

I’ve begun my fifth year of feeding the little gray menace in the header–Misster Andy Hisster. Andy is in fine health and continues to live the pirate life even though I constantly offer him different situations. Off and on for the last few months, Andy has had a sidekick; a young Tuxedo Cat (also pictured–goody, I see he was photobombed by my device) first named Patch, but after an exchange of enlightening interoffice communications with Diane, I now call him “Alfie”–as in the ne’er do well portrayed by Michael Caine.

I’ve always been suspicious about Alfie during the six months or so he’s tagged along with Andy, for me to feed under the hedge. Alfie never shows up when the weather is bad nor does he ever appear to have slept under the building, covered in cobwebs like Andy often is. Andy is indifferent to personal grooming, which is unusual for a House Cat, but not unseen in the ferals. Alfie is a dandy. Never a hair out of place. Fop.

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Week 376: The Eldritch Horror, The Week That Still Is and a Saturday Special

The Eldritch Horror

I’m an insomniac. I do not claim to “suffer” from it because it is a consequence of my ridiculous daily intake of cigarettes and coffee. I suppose I could drink myself unconscious every night, but that will have to wait until retirement.

I often lie awake and watch beautiful fancies flee my mind–up to heaven they go, without me. Yet my ugly chimeras are made of fulsome stuff. They linger like the afterdream of boiled cabbage in a poorly ventilated room; and I eventually find myself examining the left behind junk for something to think about other than that jug of Crown Royal in the pantry.

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374- Dear Daisy, The Week That Still Is, And Nine New Ways To Avoid Heaven

Dear Daisy


Leila caught a cold while composing this weekly update and claimed that she was only worth “two-thirds of my usual genius” (a statement which proves that the common cold has no ill effects on the ego). Instead of calling out sick and thrusting her duty on her fellow Editors, she asked that I, Daisy Cloverleaf, write the introduction to this week’s wrap and that she would handle the middle and end. Which is precisely what has happened.

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Week 372: Family Circus of the Damned, Five Points of Light and Making Sad Amends

The Nobel Prize For Being a Corporate Tool Goes To…

Almost everything we read online is either a blatant lie or plain wrong. (Forget the “fake news” euphemism–for a kiss is but a kiss and a con is but a con.) For instance, I recall intelligent sources telling me that we use something like ten percent of our brains, and the rest may as well be cornbread stuffing until enough evolution goes by. Although this “fact” (like countless others) is certainly nonsense, someone smart started that misconception, which I bet more people believe than do not.

I’ve finally reached the point where I no longer blindly accept “facts” minus proof. I probably would be better off if I had arrived at this point sooner, but, maybe, “better late than never” is, at times, a valid sentiment–though still not much use in situations when the pardon arrives after the gallows has dropped.

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Week 366: Interstellar Demands, The Week That Was and the A to Z of Soul Crushing Coworkers

Interstellar Demands

The ten billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope began its journey on Christmas Day. The Webb is reputedly a hundred times more powerful than the Hubble– a garage sale find, costing a mere billion and change. The giant eye is scheduled to get down to serious peering by “mid year”–which I call June. Considering how it goes with NASA and associates, I think we can safely assume that June will happen no sooner than September–or at a time when I do not start three consecutive sentences with “The.”

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Week 362: A Brief History of Criticism and the Glorious Girl Groups of My Unsteady Jukebox

Brief Introduction

Hugh graciously gave me three weeks off from this task. His latest inspired me to create today’s post .

A Brief History of Art Criticism

According to an ancient scroll in my possession, a splintered human-like skull of an ungodly age, found in a French cave, was none other than that of the art world’s first critic, Ug-Pierre. Ug-Pierre had shared his thoughts on the quality of Ug-Jean Luc’s (he being the first temperamental artiste) cave painting Mob, Antelope and Spears. In the challenged lingo of the prehistoric French, Ug-Pierre had opined that Ug-Jean’s effort made no use of the prehensile thumb, lacked proto-humanity and that the last hunter looked more like a pile of mammoth dung than a cave dweller. Since murder was still legal at that time, one has to wonder if Ug-Pierre was suicidal or just an uncommonly stupid cave dweller.

Fast forward several millennia, and we meet Arduth Rameses-Bey, who went to Pharaoh and claimed he could secure his highness’ legacy by building a bigger, better Sphinx. After emptying the treasury and relieving the population of thousands of its strongest members, the project was accomplished twenty years later. Unfortunately, at the grand opening, the most favored of the hundreds of Mrs. Pharaohs said, loudly, and to anyone who’d listen, that it looked more like a sphincter* than a Sphinx–and the only way to fix that was through a human sacrifice. Well, of course, someone had to die, and since that particular Mrs. Pharaoh was better connected, old Arduth Rameses-Bey (whom the aging Pharaoh owed money) was selected for the honor. Sadly, a small comet appeared and detonated over the crowd and the bigger, better Sphinx, obliterating all from history, save for the account in the ancient scroll in my possession.

(*Why yes, the ancient Egyption word was the same as ours. Hardly a coincidence on the level of the sun and moon appearing the same size because the sun is four-hundred times larger, yet four-hundred times farther away–but it rates.)

You’d be amazed by the stuff I have on my desk. Right now the only surviving entry from the hitherto unknown Shakespeare diary lies next to my Chromebook.

23 April 1601

“Dark regret hath cast a shadow on mine soul. Out offending whimsy! that caused me to teach Second Best Anne to read: ‘Wot is this “to be nor not to be” tripe, Will. Why can’t you be plain spoken like that Ben Jonson?’”

The cliche is true: “Everyone’s a critic.” But critics don’t need to be trolls. And yet some are downright nasty. The late Harold Bloom was a well respected literary critic, but the way he went to town on Stephen King after King’s inclusion in a secret writer society of some fancy stripe was flat out vicious. I used to never think much about critics, because I’ve never been the object of such in print. But nowadays, I realize the awful power of being in a place (however humble) where my word counts for something, as a yay or nay regarding the works of others. I’ve also discovered that the only thing worse than getting a rejection is sending one. I feel like I enter a room, uninvited, where someone is whistling and smiling, while I tick off the seconds before the person sees me and I say something that ends all innocent happiness.

Then again it might either concern you or confirm a suspicion to know that this so-called evaluator of other writers’ work just lit the wrong end of her cigarette and is struggling to drink coffee due to the recent installation of a device in her mouth designed to ease TMJ. Oh, no, with me submissions are not evaluated in a paneled study like those you see in movies–in this case think of a dimly lit room where the cats take turns yarking on the carpet. Still, I am certain that things are classier at both my colleagues’ work spaces.

A Brief Epiphany of the Soul

Wow! That feels better! Confession, however insincere, is good for the soul! Now I can get on with rejecting folks with the spotless heart of a sociopath! Thank you for listening!

Now For the Object of the Post

Yet it remains better to salute hard won success than it is to dwell on our own little personality issues, or say shitty stuff about the work of other people in public; so let us get on with this week’s recap of top notch tales.

This week’s authorship has a combined total of five site appearances. Yes, all the writers this week made his/her LS debut.

Victor Kreuiter opened the week with Family and Friends. This is as fine a story set on Death Row as I’ve ever read. The focus of the piece is brilliant; it proves there is much of the unexpected to still be expressed in the time honored tale of a condemned soul.

Natasha Dalley made her site debut with Suffocating Half Truths. We see a lot of pieces that attempt what Natasha accomplished beautifully. Stories that present a possibly imagined person that intrudes on a “real” person’s mind; a shadow personality who is real enough for the one who experiences, in this case, her.

Tripp Watson’s ironically titled The Devil in Detail is most definitely a case of OCD gone awry–to put it gently. What happens in the basement stays in the basement until the coast is clear. Evil fun.

Thursday saw the first appearance of Grace Larson on the site. Three Headed Monster is something that anyone who has a soul can relate to. It is the right way to present the affection we have for those much loved creatures in our lives who have horribly short life spans. Grace is young and talented, and a much better writer at her age than I was. I should hate her a little for that–instead I am grateful that the future of storytelling is in good hands.

Dead Socks Do Count by Salini Vineeth closed the classy week. This is a knowing look into the minds of children. Not all writers are able to carry the actual perceptions of childhood into adulthood. Most usually relate the current feelings they have toward an old situation–yet Salini nailed the way kids really are. Quirky and funny, I hope that everyone reading has had a peek under the lid–so to speak.

There we are, our five new authors. Let’s give each one the praise that is well earned. For maybe that will encourage each one to come back as well and often.

I close on yet another musical note, inspired by Hugh’s latest wrap, courtesy of my Unsteady Jukebox. My grandmother was a big fan of girl groups of the sixties. The recent passings of Ronnie Spector and Rosa Lee Hawkins of the Dixie Cups has put me in a nostalgic mood for those melodic ladies of yore. In closing I present my top nine girl group songs of a time that managed to get along without me. Naturally, a tenth spot is left open for suggestions.

  • Soldier Boy Shirelles
  • Walking in the Rain Ronettes
  • People Say Dixie Cups
  • My Boyfriend’s Back Angels
  • The Happening Supremes
  • He’s So Fine Chiffons
  • Heat Wave Martha and the Vandellas
  • Foolish Little Girl Shirelles
  • Be My Baby Ronettes


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Week 352- Ch-Ch-Changes

Welcome to Year 8, L.S.E.!

I’ve never understood greeting a new year with changing your ways in mind. If you are doing something that needs to be departed from, why wait until the Earth is at a specific, artificially labeled point in its orbit to quit smoking crack or stealing purses? And if there’s some grand task you want to undertake, don’t wait for Nike to give you permission or inspiration. They don’t give a damn about you unless you buy their shoes. Stuff will always get in the way; Be Persistent and as Inevitable as Death may not be the cheeriest slogan, but I’m not trying to sell you something, either..

Yet there are times when even a lame concept makes a convincing argument. And, yes, there are even times when perhaps evacuating the contents of my mind every other Saturday fails to show keen respect for the tales presented during the week. But most often I usually disregard the negative thoughts I have for my activities and do something different because I consider it a Big Idea.

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Week 350- An Antisocial Experiment, Five Magi, A Special Announcement and Hell’s Jukebox: The Love Songs

An Antisocial Experiment

There are endless social movements dedicated to improving people by requiring them not to be like people. Depending on your point of view this activity lies somewhere between education and brainwashing. I am old fashioned to the degree that I believe a person is influenced by both her upbringing and whatever chemistry is peculiar to her. You do your best to raise a child and if she grows up to be a doctor or a teacher you share in the credit, if she turns out to be a Josephine Mengela or the incarnation of Lizzie Borden, you shoulder some of the blame.

A person can improve. But people, as a whole, seldom do because there are “leaders” who want you to do as they command and will reward “good behavior” with letting you spend your life gazing into your phone and punish “bad thoughts” with unsupported accusations and placing you under the spotlight on the scaffold for a good old fashioned cyberstoning. This has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the third person–the first child who decides that her parents should be severely sanctioned for bringing her into this overlighted, loud and dreary existence, as well as not allowing her to have a phone until she can use one responsibly.

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347: Mental Scar Tissue, Curtain Calls and Scares A to Z

I recently recalled a cherished Halloween memory from my childhood: I was in the living room watching a Casper the Friendly Ghost Halloween special on TV the Saturday morning prior to the big day. My monumentally hung over grandfather just came out of the kitchen, a glass of what surely held only healthy tomato juice in his unsteady hand. A great question had formed in my mind.

“Grandpa, how did Casper die?”

“He asked the wrong people a lot of stupid questions.”

By now it must be obvious that I have seized upon Halloween as the inspiration for this post. Since the Nobel prize for literature has already been passed out, I see no reason to introduce revolutionary literary techniques or topics until the next voting cycle begins.

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Week 341: Where Have All the Disposable Ensigns Gone and Results From the Great Cat Division of the Feline Olympics

Three or four years ago I gave up on network television for the sake of my safety. It doesn’t mean that I have departed from gazing glassy-eyed into a screen, but nowadays I feed the vacuum in my mind caused by a lifetime of watching TV with YouTube and NetFlix. The TV is still on, but in the other room, tuned to one of those retro-channels, to long since departed shows, which star dead actors who come back to life for twenty-three to forty-six minutes five days a week, in worlds where forever usually arrives no later than 1982.

The main reason for this involves the Discovery Channel and its spin-offs on basic cable. For years my general sense of fear and isolation was greatly enhanced by an endless succession of learned talking heads who glibly informed me what would happen to Earth if it wandered too close to a black hole or was bathed in a gamma ray burst or nailed by an asteroid the size of Cincinnati. And none of it was pretty. End of Days. Repent. I was more distrubed, however, by the smarmy attitude of the scientists who spoke of these possible calamities with twinkles in their eyes. Why were they so happy to suggest these things? Isn’t everyday living hard enough already? Are these people sociopaths? And how come they all wear khaki pants and blue shirts? Even Victor Frankenstien owned a tie.

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