My uncle once owned a dog that did not love him. Despite his owner’s constant adoration, affection, and regular meal offerings, the mustard-colored mutt escaped the confine’s of both yard and house with a regularity that would have impressed Steve McQueen. Whenever my uncle arrived home from inspecting train wrecks — that was his job — he would discover the yard empty, his food untouched, or the window screen torn asunder. At such moment, my uncle would race down the street to our house, load my brothers into his truck, and slowly circle the neighborhood, shouting ‘Ralph! Ralph!” — for that was the dog’s name — ‘Godammit dog, where are you?”
Ralph would always emerge a day or two later from the woods, wet from a swim at the reservoir, or covered in briars. At which point, my uncle would hug and kiss the doe-eyed convict, while muttering in a sing-song baby voice “Such a goood dog! Such a goood doggie.” Ralph would be chained of course for another week or so, before his master would forgive his past transgressions. The dog, who knew nothing of redemption, gratitude or the human parole system, would immediately celebrate its freedom by running into the woods for another three or four days, chasing squirrels and sniffing deer pellets. Continue reading
I refuse to give in to the Twitter-machine. To me, the humorous, insightful, and sometimes insipid mini-comments that Twitter distributes to the world best serves . . . well, interesting people. I mean, if you’re going to follow the day-to-day goings-on of anyone, only scientists (“Hey I cured cancer!”), entertainers (“Hey, I have spoilers!”), or vain-glorious reality stars (“Hey, I have chemistry!”) could truly benefit. Lifestyles of the poor and unemployed simply cannot compete. Unless of course, they don’t feel particularly encumbered by ‘truth’ and ‘honesty.’ Then it’s a different story . . .
Left to my own devices while shopping with Mom and Katie, I occasionally shoot texts to my sister while stalking through the mall, watching people and staring into stores. In this post-Borders and -Waldenbooks dystopia, I am left to buying a fruit shakes and browsing the gadgets in Brookstone — one of the last monuments to disposable income, where even a tabletop billiards table seems impossible to live without.
The texts simultaneously offer a creative output for my energies, while annoying my little sister who’s eager to hear from Leo, her boyfriend, about dinner: Continue reading
Lately I’ve been immersing myself in the works of O. Henry so much so that I decided to write my own for geeks like me. Imitating another author’s writing style is not as easy as it first sounds — mostly because the gauge for success is rather ambiguous — but anything that helps me become a better writer . . . well, I’m not going to ignore.
Regrettably, the sibling response was decidedly mixed. Katie really enjoyed it, while my dearest brother after some consideration responded with a ‘meh.’ Needless to say, I’m anticipating proofreading his next law brief. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story — more than Sean, at least.
Luddites in Love
With the exception of honeybees, ants, and reality TV starlets, the modern American citizen communicates more than any other species on earth. Since the dawn of the iPod, it is said that the human species has stumbled upon the evolutionary fast-track to cyborg-ification. Cell phones strapped to our ears; fingers typing out ten texts per picosecond; cat videos by the billions streaming on YouTube. From dawn to dark, we expose our life’s tapestry of photos, quotes, and gossip before an expectant public like specimens in a digital zoo, to be ogled, examined, and meme-ed at the first opportunity. The sum total of pheromones exuded by the world’s ant population palls to a day’s worth of status updates from an average college sorority. Continue reading
By Thursday even I was tired of the rain. The storm continued its assault on the Maryland for the fifth day in a row; by Wednesday torrents of water formed rapids out of what were once community roadways. Old Ellicott City several miles away had nearly been washed clean, houses and all. The Murphey household suffered a few nights without any internet, crippling many of the kids’ online assignments. Katie swelled with anxiety at the lost of her Facebook, while Ryan scooped an extra pint of ice cream and flipped on a few Errol Flynn swashbucklers I had tucked away in the basement.
Typically, the sound of the rain pelting the roof, a cup of warm coffee and a few dozen books negated any impending disasters, but as flood water cascaded through the trees from neighboring plots flooding our small pond and plugging our sewage pump, I began to worry. Newly christened 4×4’s, stacked carefully some weeks prior near the barn, floated off into the mounting surge, never to be seen or heard from again.
If only the chicken coop would have made a similar escape, I thought to myself, pressing a handkerchief to my nose. God, I can smell them here! Actually, the stench from the sewage tank had already engulfed most of the basement and threatened to ruin lunch, when my cousin Paul woke from his mid-morning nap. While finding a new job, babysitting has become my new occupation of choice, and I agreed to watch Paul while his mother did some errands.
After an intense session of PB&J, we sat in an alcove in the family’s “Man Room” – our new addition that because of its beautiful wood flooring and dark mahogany cabinets was absconded by the house’s females, who replaced the sport’s memorabilia with baskets and ‘antique’ washboards (That’s right! You can make something too good!) – and watched the brown waters cascade down our neighbors hills. One of our boats slid from fence into the flood; skeletal tree limbs emerged from the depths of the pond scratched the boat’s hull like drowned corpses; the dog left its shelter and barked as the craft disappeared into the woods. Continue reading
Music possesses the innate ability to transport people to realms of their own imaginings. Enchanted snow-covered forests, gem-encrusted caves, sand-blasted temples, and bridge-linked villages roosting high among starlight-encrusted evergreens.
At least that’s where my music takes me. J.R.R. Tolkien poses in his essay on Fairy-Tales that we as humans possess deep within our blood primal yearnings for the impossible. Myth and fairy tales are the actualization of those desires. I do not presume to know much about this myself, yet how often sitting at my desk have I gazed outside and dreamt – for many several moments – to leap outside and take to the skies like Superman. How often do we yearn to converse with a Bengal tiger or coach a sapling into a mighty oak? Is it truly that odd to wish that you possessed the power to protect and save something precious? To lift up a sword and rescue a damsel, a kingdom, a brother or a sister?
Simply put, certain songs inspire the best from me. If everyone could imagine themselves a hero in a story for a moment say three minutes and forty-six seconds, consider the world we might create.