WordPress announced this week that they will be offering bloggers a new challenge during January. Evidently every day in January, they will post a topic, and we are invited to post something in keeping with that subject matter. We can post an article, a photo, some artwork, or even music. I think I’ll take advantage of the challenge to force myself to get back to writing more regularly. I thought some of my visitors might have missed the announcement, so I’m passing along the news. You can find out more at this link.
Today’s Daily Post prompt: tide brought back memories of a popular singing duo from the 1960’s and early ’70’s. The Righteous Brothers (actually two unrelated young men: Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield) topped the music charts a number of times. One of their well-remembered songs was “Ebb Tide”. It never rose to the heights that two of their other hits did, but it was quite successful both in the States and in the UK.
The two songs the duo is best remembered for are “Unchained Melody,” which came into a second round of popularity after being used in the 1990 movie Ghost, and “You’ve Lost That Loving’ Feelin’,” which is credited by some music historians as being the most played song in the history of radio. They had a uniquely emotive sound all their own — often referred to in music jargon as “blue-eyed soul” — and its almost impossible to listen to most of their music without feeling it strongly.
Video posted by Tommy 194070 on YouTube
There is a theory espoused by some that there is actually a parallel/alternate experience of life that is running concurrently with the one we are aware of, and that if we could become aware of it as well, it would give us the experiences to which our alternate choices had opened the door. Of course, I realize, according to the Word of God, that concept is not a reality, but I am still aware that had I made just one or two choices differently – even the choice of what street to walk down, or what restaurant to visit, or what time of day I went to the library – a hundred things in my life might be completely different.
The reality of this truth came home to me quite unexpectedly, and quite dramatically, one day a few years ago, while standing in a fast food restaurant. I’ve been fleetingly aware of other such experiences during my life, but this particular time, I was so touched by it, and my life so affected by it, that I immediately wrote it down and saved it, so that it would remain a part of who I am from that moment on. I shared it on this site at the time it happened, but it seems appropriate to give it a fresh airing in light of today’s prompt.
WHERE DID I MISS YOU?
I didn’t notice him as I entered the fast-food restaurant. His table was to my right as I entered the door. And he wasn’t in my line of vision as I stood in line at the counter, so I don’t know if he had noticed me as I came in or not. But as I carried my sack over to the end of the shelf where the napkins were located, I glanced up and met his eyes. It was for only the briefest second, because it was one of those situations where you know you’ve made contact, but you don’t know why and aren’t sure how to react. So you swiftly shift your eyes to the side, pretending to look at other things — as if you had just been letting your eyes sweep the area in general.
Why we do that, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a reaction only in those of us who have a measurable lack of self-confidence. Whatever the reason, though, I knew I had reacted that way when I really hadn’t wanted to do so.
But I felt the pull of his personality so strongly that I almost felt as if I’d insulted him by not smiling at him when our eyes had touched so fleetingly. Thinking it may have been just my imagination, I glanced his way again and found him looking at me again as well. But, again, I broke contact within mere seconds. And, once again, I was sorry. I now felt the pull of him so strongly that I knew I had to do something to connect with him, if only for one smile.
It was easier than I had expected, because at the table closest to his sat an old friend of mine. I usually tried to speak briefly to her whenever I saw her anywhere, so I decided I’d walk over to her table now, necessarily passing by his.
As I stepped past his table, my eyes still wouldn’t connect with his. So I just looked right at my friend and spoke. “How are you doing, Betty?”
“I’m doing fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine too. I’ll be even better after I eat this,” I added whimsically, holding up my sack. I glanced his way, and he was looking at me. He smiled. I smiled. He could hear every word I said clearly. I looked back to Betty, still holding my sack out in front of me. Then facing Betty, but letting my eyes drift in his direction, I focused on his left hand. He did have on a gold ring, but whether it was actually a wedding band or not I couldn’t tell. It was best if I didn’t know for sure anyway, but … disappointment pierced through me. It was a brief, stabbing feeling, and then sort of a dull resignation took its place.
But somehow, I just couldn’t quite let go of him yet. I held up my sack again – in Betty’s direction: “I don’t really need this … but … then again, I guess I do need it” was my next inane addition to the conversation. I glanced at him again, as if to include him in this “high-level” discussion. He understood. So I took advantage of that moment to look at him more closely.
There was nothing extraordinarily attractive about him. I mean he wasn’t the kind of man you’d naturally notice because he was gorgeous or was dressed in the height of fashion. His African-American complexion wasn’t ebony, but it was darker than brown. He had on a kind of knit cap that covered most of his short-cropped hair. His beard was mostly gray and extremely neat, but even though the beard was gray, the face was young. He was obviously overweight. Not fat, but certainly not sporting the kind of physique that normally caught a woman’s attention.
But it was his eyes and his smile. Or maybe it was his smile and his eyes. It doesn’t matter which, because his smile was so warm and genuine that it filled his eyes as well as his mouth. And it was that smile that made him really attractive — not the physical smile — the part of it that came from his soul. It was his soul that was in his eyes, and there was an invitation there: “I could sit and talk to you and understand you,” it said. “And you would understand me. We’d be friends.”
By that time (barely seconds) Betty was responding to my convoluted statement about the need for food, and she answered, “Yeah … you have to eat to live.” Brilliant answer!
“Right,” I said, looking back at my new friend. His smile was even sweeter — and even more inviting. He knew I wouldn’t — and couldn’t — sit down and talk to him. Why not? Because we had no connector. We had no tiny moment from our past that could have provided even the thinnest thread of oneness. We had just this one minuscule moment — taken out of time — to recognize, to dream, to wish. But he let me know that he had enjoyed talking to me vicariously and hoped that I had felt the same.
I smiled at him as generously as I knew how, hoping my message was in my own eyes: “I wish things were different. I wish I could sit down at your table and get to know you. Yes, we’d be friends; I’m sure of it. … Have a good day. Have a good life. … Bye.”
I walked out the door — sadder than when I’d walked in — poorer because of knowing there was a rich friendship out there that I would never own. Where in my life did I choose a path that put me in the position of never meeting him until today? Where did I miss finding him at a time when I could have known him, owned him as a friend, and had my life woven in with his? I wish I knew. No … I wish I’d known then … and I would have chosen differently.
The Daily Post Prompt today is the word inchoate. It’s a word I never use. In fact, I consider it a rather worthless word. But when I saw it, I was consumed with a sudden desire to see just how many useful words I could make from it. So here goes. If you readers find some I’ve missed, feel free to post them in the ‘Comments’ window below.
in, inch, it, hi, hie, ate, at, an, ha, hot, hat, hate, hen, oh, ah, heat, hint, hon, con, coat, cot, cat, can, chin, ten, tan, ton, tone, teach, the, than, then, thin, nich, oat, hone, cone, cane, note, not, net, neat, chant, can’t, echo, ice, nice, taco, nacho, cinco.
(That makes 50 regular words.)
And then there are proper names:
Enoch, Nate, Nat, Theo, Thane, Cane, Chet
The lecture finally came to an end about 9:20 p.m. That was almost an hour longer than it should have lasted. I hadn’t realized that there would be so much time in which to carry out my plan, or I would have gone about things much more leisurely.
Professor Thomas Crenshaw was known for being windy, of course, but I didn’t want to count on that fact, so after I’d slipped unobtrusively from my seat on the last row and exited the lecture hall, I literally ran to my car and changed into my disguise.
Black is so non-committal, isn’t it? Especially at night. One can sneak between parked cars and through alleys and even private yards without being noticed.
I didn’t have to drive, since Farnesley lived just a block off campus. I slipped into the alley that ran behind his house, making my way silently. I guess I wasn’t completely silent — or else my human scent caused an alarm — because a dog sent up some noisy yapping as I passed one residence, but as soon as I was twenty feet way, he want back to his normal nightly business.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself for executing this little maneuver so well. I’d even played the good neighbor and offered to bring over my WD40 and oil his back gate that squeaked. When I’d been there for the staff barbecue last week and realized how it squeaked, I knew I’d have to take care of that little problem before I could carry out my plan successfully. But a few little squirts, and problem solved. I have to laugh now when I think how profusely Smith thanked me for being so thoughtful.
And, of course, he thanked me profusely again when I presented him with that expensive bottle of burgundy today as a birthday gift. That’s the thing about old Farnesley. He did everything rather profusely — even his drinking. And that’s what I was counting on. The old sot! How anyone could believe he was fit to be made the Chair of our department was beyond me. The choices had come down to him and me, and I was positive I’d be their pick. But when the university President told me that the board was swinging heavily toward Farnesley instead, it was all I could do not to unload a torrent of curses right there in the hallway of the administration building.
No matter. My little maneuver tonight took care of everything. As I approached the back door, I was fully confident that the bottle of burgundy was empty and Smith snoring like the pig that he is — well — that he was. I’d been right, of course. I’m surprised his own snoring didn’t wake him up. The man was a disgrace to our university, and it was past time someone did something about it. One little jab of a needle, and the quick-acting poison I’d chosen took care of old Smith for good. And I quietly and sedately slipped back into my seat in the lecture hall in plenty of time to hear the last thirty minutes of Thomas’ mind-numbing lecture.
Now, as I sit here at my own desk, listening to the digital recorder I had left in my lecture seat — along with the reserved sign so no one else would sit there — I’m diligently making notes on the lecture. When the authorities question me — as they undoubtedly will — I’ll have my name on the sign-in sheet and the sign-out sheet for the lecture. And I’ll have the notes I’ve taken, proving that I heard every single word Professor Crenshaw spoke from 7:30 to 9:20 p.m.
What is it with WordPress’ sending readers to a page that is NOT OUR ACTUAL BLOG SITE? Have you noticed that when you see the posts in your Reader, and click on the post title, WP does NOT take you to the post on that person’s blog? They take you to a generic page that has the post you’re looking for — and even the blog owner’s gravatar — but it’s NOT their actual site.
If a blogger clicks on the words “Visit site,” they get taken to the site, but if they click on the post itself, they do not.
Why on earth do we put so much time and attention into making our sites look exactly like we want them to look, and have widgets set up a certain way, etc. so people will notice specific things on our site — and why choose a specific theme or particular colors, etc. — if readers ARE NOT GOING TO SEE THEM????? The logic is inscrutable.
You’ll notice the use of capital letters. It’s something I tell all my creative writing students to avoid doing. And the fact that I’ve used them is indicative of how aggravated I am. I asked WP about it in an e-mail, but no answer. So I decided to vent right here. Whew! I feel better. 🙂 🙂 🙂
“Remember, Ronnie. Don’t blink. If you blink, it’s all over.”
Those words pounded through my brain right before I took a seat in front of the webcam, preparing to look into the eyes of the most evil scientific mind on the planet. But I knew I had to cleanse those words from my brain. My expertise in the field of mind control and the organic manipulation that can emanate from it kept me from allowing those words to have power in my psyche. What I had to do instead was forget about the suggestion of blinking all together and focus on my opponent instead.
Liam Sigurdsson was well-known for his advanced studies and experimentation in mind control. But he hadn’t been heard from for three years. News media speculated about him, but the only thing anyone knew for sure was that he was holed up in a home he’d built for himself and his staff in Iceland.
Four days ago, all of that secrecy came to an end — a dramatic and terrorizing end. Sigurdsson suddenly came out of hibernation with the news that he had managed to plant powerful bombs in the capitals of six major western nations. He further stated that they were set to go off at exactly the same time unless he got complete cooperation from the UN, and each of those individual nations in making him supreme dictator over their entire geographic areas.
The President of the United States, as well as the leaders of the other five nations — Canada, England, France, Germany, and Italy — had all tried to reason with him. But to no avail. That’s when the President called me in.
I’m Ronald Bridgeport, American scientist and mind control expert. I’ve made some amazing discoveries concerning mind control and using the mind to manipulate the body. Those subjects used to be considered part of the paranormal fringes of science, but my work has proven that they may have some very genuine, solid scientific foundations. I’ve won my share of awards for my research and for being able to prove a good many of my theories over the years. I’m well known internationally, of course, but not held in the kind of scientific esteem that Sigurdsson has acquired over the past couple decades.
Two days after Sigurdsson’s brutal announcement, I found myself sitting at a conference table across from several leading congressmen and two of the most celebrated scientists of our day, with the President just to my right at the end of the table. The heaviness in the atmosphere of the room when I’d entered had caused me to take a seat without saying a word. There was a bottle of water in front of me, and I reached for it because my nerves were so stressed that my mouth was already dry. As I swallowed a couple mouthfuls of water, the President cleared his throat and spoke.
“Ronnie, I’ve known you for years now, and I can say without reservation that you’re one of the coolest men in a crisis that I’ve ever met. We need that cool head today.”
I looked at him as he spoke, and I could see the tension in every fiber of his body. “What can I do for you, Mr. President,” I asked.
“You’re aware of the world-wide threat coming from Liam Sigurdsson,” he said in a half question.
“Yes, sir. I’ve been following the news coverage of the whole thing. Is there more to it?”
“Well, for the most part, the news media have let it all out of the bag, but the one thing we know that the news boys don’t seem to is that you and Liam Sigurdsson have a long history.”
I nodded. I wasn’t sure how much the President knew, but I was willing to bet he had all the data at his fingertips. Such was the nature of our government surveillance and investigative forces.
He continued: “I understand that the two of you competed in a number of scientific projects during graduate school and then competed for two prestigious international awards in later years.” He looked at me with a question in his eyes.
“That’s correct. He won exactly half of those competitions in our school years, and he won one of the awards after we were both in our professional careers.”
“But you won the other award, which he coveted very badly, and you went on to be selected for the position as head of the Bon Homme Mind Manipulation Project that got world-wide acclaim.”
“Yes, sir, but I don’t see what that has to do with this situation,” I said, honestly confused.
“We know from dealing with the man that Sigurdsson — although a genius in his field — is also mentally deranged. And he has the largest ego the world has ever known. He doesn’t believe he can be defeated — well — let’s say he’s evidently convinced himself that he cannot be defeated — ever again. The only competition he’s ever had that brought him defeat has been with you.”
The President looked me in the eye, and I did the same to him, but I didn’t speak. He continued: “So, playing on that theme, we’ve managed to infiltrate Sigurdsson’s privacy enough to suggest to him that if he wants the whole word to believe that he’s worthy to rule the six major nations in the world that have been the bastions of freedom and democracy until now, he needs to be able to defeat his greatest peer once and for all.”
My mouth fell open slightly, and I’m sure my eyes must have bugged out, because the congressmen and scientists across from me — who had remained totally silent up to that point — began to shift in their seats. I could literally feel them holding their breaths.
Finally, I found my voice. “I still don’t understand. You want me to do some kind of combat with Sigurdsson? Something physical or scientific or what?”
“We’ve offered him a challenge in his field of expertise,” the President answered. “We’ve challenged him to pit his mind-control and biokinetic abilities that he’s so proud of against yours. And whoever wins that battle will determine what happens with the bombs.”
I just looked at him. Looked him in the eye. I couldn’t look away. Inside my head, I could hear myself screaming “What! Are you crazy!” But I couldn’t speak a word out loud. I just looked at him. And the other people in the room held themselves so rigid waiting for my answer that I could feel the tension from the other side of the table.
I finally spoke — in a surprisingly quiet voice: “And what did he say to your challenge?”
Again, I could hear shocked questions pounding through my head, but I didn’t speak them out. As I sat there silent for a few moments, I realized that I wasn’t really surprised at all. Liam Sigurdsson was deranged. It’s true he was a genius. So was I for that matter. In fact, we had exactly the same IQ. But the man could not live with a challenge to his ego. He felt compelled to rise to such a challenge, and he wouldn’t even think beyond that feat to what the possible repercussions might me. Of course, he was not even entertaining the idea of failure on his part.
“And you think you can actually believe a man who is so deranged, Mr. President?”
He nodded his head. “We’ve secured a mediator that is acceptable to both Sigurdsson and to us. Sigurdsson will give him the details concerning the bombs, and the mediator will be locked away in a secure place until the contest is over. When he’s notified of the winner, he’ll either turn the information over to us … or … in the event … ” He stopped and took a deep breath. “In the event that Sigurdsson wins, the mediator will simply hand the information back to him.”
I took a deep breath as well. And the men and women on the other side of the table finally took one too. A few of them leaned back in their chairs, obviously glad the worst of the story had been related. I glanced at them and then back to the President.
“And when is this challenge supposed to take place?”
“Tomorrow at noon.”
“And how long does it last?”
“Until one of you blinks.”
“What?” I shook my head to clear it, certain I’d heard wrong. I glanced at the people across the table, saw shock on their faces as well, and realized they hadn’t been told the details yet either. So I looked back at the President. “What did you say?”
“The contest will last until one of you blinks. That’s the challenge. Both you and Sigurdsson have developed a large following for your research and proven theories in the areas of mind control and organic manipulation. That’s the arena he wants to defeat you in. To prove that he has developed in those areas to a much higher degree than you have. So that’s the challenge he has chosen to accept. You’ll sit and stare at each other via webcam, and whoever blinks first … loses.”
As wild and off-the-wall as the whole strategy sounded, I couldn’t refuse my commander-in-chief. Besides, what other option did we have? We could send in military power and annihilate Sigurdsson, but we couldn’t shut off the bombs. So I went home to “get some rest” — the President’s words — not mine. That was about 7:00 last night.
As I prepared for bed, I found myself going over in my mind the Bible story I’d known from childhood about David and Goliath. I picked up my Bible and began reading the story again. It was inspiring, to say the least: a young, apparently defenseless, youth standing up to the biggest bully of his day — and winning. To be sure, there had to have been some supernatural help involved.
So as I lay my head on my pillow, I whispered, with all the vulnerability of a child, “Lord, it seems the fate of the whole free world is resting on my shoulders — or rather on my eyelids — tomorrow. Sir … I’d just like to say … I could sure use some of the same kind of help that You gave that shepherd boy.”
That brings us to this morning, 11:50 eastern time, when I took a seat in front of the webcam set up at the White House. I had requested that I be left in the room alone once the camera came on. So everyone else began filing out, and that’s when the President leaned over to me, gripped me by the shoulder and whispered, “Remember, Ronnie. Don’t blink. If you blink, it’s all over.”
Bane of winter.
Each time I take off coat
Or hat. Or slide across car seat.
A mile out from shore, the ocean was a vast, undulating, lead-gray blanket. But as the currents approached the beach that held them in check by the decree of God, the waves became gentle, but persistent swirls of iridescent silver. As they washed against the land, their substance danced high into the air as if a huge bottle of champagne had been poured out into a giant punch bowl.
The dramatic change in the water’s color resulted from the fact that a lighthouse stood atop a modest knoll whose base stretched across the beach almost to the very edge of the water at high tide. The arm of light rushed out to meet the darkness, which was made more intense because of heavy clouds that almost rested on the surface of the water a couple miles out and covered most of the sky over the coast.
So the only radiance came from the beam that swept its ruling arc across its vast domain every fifteen seconds. But the beacon was so intense that it forced, not only the ocean, but even those heavy clouds to reflect its light into the atmosphere. It was in the brilliance of that light that the caps of the waves became like silver lace, and the hundreds of water droplets like sparkling diamonds ….
She had a winsome smile and quite a winsome way.
Her voice so musical refreshed the air.
Her winsome little dimple and her twinkling eyes of blue
Caught all the young and callow fellows unaware.
She’d capture their attention neatly, one by one.
And beckon each to step within her door
And sample tastes of tea and pastries rich and sweet —
Then promised good behavior would earn something more.
So each one stepped inside, expecting much delight,
And ate his fill at ample table spread.
And while each gazed and swooned over her winsome ways,
Her poison worked its magic until each was dead.
Calling? Did you say create a post about “Calling”??? Well, that is absolutely perfect timing, because it just so happens that my Christmas website: Merry Christmas World!, is located at a domain address with the words “christmas is calling” as the main part of the address.
So —— my post today is to provide a link to that Christmas website and hope that all my readers enjoy their visit to MERRY CHRISTMAS WORLD!
I enjoyed doing the coffee quotes so much in October that I decided to take Christmas week to focus on chocolate in a similar way. So here’s my offering for Day 1: a chocolate cinquain.
To think about.
Even more bliss to taste.
I just can’t seem to get enough:
photo: courtesy of Alexas_Fotos @ pixabay.com