Why Won’t The Aliens Come For Me?

humor, aliens, Modern PhilosopherDo you ever feel like you just don’t fit in, Modern Philosophers?

That’s such a recurring sensation for me, that I actually panic if I ever begin to feel like I’m part of the crowd.  If I’m not on the outside looking in, then something has gone dreadfully wrong.

When you suffer from social anxiety, and you are socially awkward, it seems the logical thing to do is to accept a lifetime membership in the International Introverts Society.  The best thing, by far, about that group is that they NEVER have any meetings.

Of course, when you’re a writer with an overactive imagination, you might cling to some sensational reasons for why you always feel like an outsider.

I blame Star Wars.

Star Wars gets all the credit for being the movie that inspired me to become a writer.  Of course, it first inspired me to run away to join the Rebel Alliance, but my overly strict stepmother would not allow me to follow that path.

Who cares if I was only 7 when I announced I was leaving home to enlist in the fight against the Empire?  What kind of parent crushes a child’s dream like that?

Star Wars, humor, aliens, Modern PhilosopherSince I couldn’t join the Rebels in person, I did so in my mind.  Writing became my escape, and my first stories were all about hanging out with Luke, Leia, and the rest of the gang to defeat Darth Vader and the Emperor.

What I rarely ever blame Star Wars for, however, was giving me hope.  Ironic that a movie subtitled “A New Hope” would do that, right?

I always felt like an outsider in my family, and the flick planted this seed that maybe I was just left with this group of people by my real parents to protect me from Vader and the Empire.

I was certain that I was a Jedi, and when the time was right, my real family would come back for me.  Sure, this meant I was an Alien, but that didn’t freak me out in the least.  In fact, it made sense.  That’s why I didn’t fit in.  That’s why I was so awkward.  That’s why none of the humans understood me.

I wasn’t one of them.

Occam’s Razor and all.

Over time, I came to realize that I probably wasn’t an Alien left on this planet with a group of people I didn’t relate to well, but the theory was never definitively proven wrong.

Both my parents died before I could ever confront them about it.

My Jedi powers never materialized.

Yet, I still never felt like I fit in. 

humor, aliens, Modern PhilosopherLately, I’ve gotten that Alien origin story feeling again.  Not quite sure why, but it’s just been right there at the front of my mind, in that place I really can’t ignore.

The last few nights, I’ve noticed these brilliant bursts of light on the horizon as I was on my after work walk.

The light seemed to be following me, and every time I turned to it, it brightened, changed shape, and appeared to pulsate as if trying to send me a message.

Since I don’t understand the language of my actual home planet, I couldn’t decipher it, but I had a gut feeling (or was it my Jedi powers awakening?) that it was a message of hope.

My true family members wanted me to know they were on their way for me.  That once they were sure they were protected against COVID-19, they would arrive in Maine to rescue me.

That’s when I realized, I had no way of ever letting my real family know that I had moved from that neighborhood in Brooklyn where they’d left me a long time ago.  They’ve probably been searching for me every since.

Which would explain the numerous UFO sightings across the country over the years.  Other people had seen the search parties sent by my people to bring me home.

Rey, humor, aliens, Modern PhilosopherI really hope I’m right about this.  I mean, I’d totally miss you guys, but I’m excited to learn about my ancestry, visit my home world, and see what the future holds for me.

Maybe my special someone is waiting for me in a galaxy far, far, away…


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Don’t Ruin The Fairy Tale

short story, Easter, Modern PhilosopherAaron and Holly sat on benches on opposite side of the path that ran along the river.  They both wore masks, and they each had their beverage of choice handy.

It was Easter Sunday, so it was quieter than normal for their weekly gathering.

“Do you think your Easter gift to me could be to allow me to sit on the same bench as you just this one time?” she asked mischievously before taking a sip of coffee.

He shook his head in disappointment.  “Dr. Fauci would not approve.  As Moses once parted the Red Sea, this path shall part us until it is safe to be together again.”

“That was beyond cheesy,” Holly reprimanded him as she returned her mask to the ready position.  “Don’t blame Dr. Fauci for your hang ups about catching the virus from me.  I assure you I don’t have it.”

“Remind me again what kind of doctor you are, and where you earned your medical degree,” he countered with a sly smile as he pulled down his mask.

Holly responded by giving him the finger.

Aaron took a gulp of Snapple and put his mask on again.

“My favorite part of Easter was waking up that morning, and seeing my Easter basket waiting on my desk,” he launched into a story much to his best friend’s delight.  “The Easter Bunny was cool in that he brought the basket right to my room, and I appreciated that he managed to do it without waking me.”

short story, Easter, Modern Philosopher“Why did you get the special treatment?” Holly wondered.  “He always left my basket down on the dining room table.”

“He probably understood that I had a much shittier childhood than you did, so just for once, I got to feel special,” he explained without hesitation.

Holly shrugged.  The logic checked out with her.

“I’d stare at it for the longest time,” he continued.  “It was always wrapped in colorful cellophane, and if the sun hit it just right through the window, it made my entire bedroom glow in that same color.  I thought that was the coolest thing.”

Holly smiled and hung on every word.  Aaron rarely talked about his childhood, and when he did, it was never in a positive way, so this was a story she didn’t want to miss.

“You see, over the years, I learned my lesson.  I used to tear that cellophane right off and dig into the candy immediately, but then I realized that the best part of Easter is an Easter basket in pristine condition.  Once I opened it, the fairy tale was gone, and reality and disappointment set in.”

“Why were you disappointed?” Holly asked with concern.  “Wasn’t it filled with candy?”

Aaron nodded and then stared off at the river for a moment before he answered.

“In that time before I opened it, I could allow my imagination to run wild,” he explained.  “Maybe this was the year it was filled with a giant bunny made of solid chocolate.  Perhaps there would be enough peanut butter eggs to keep my tummy filled for a month.  And if I was really lucky, maybe there would be some gifts in there like a book, a movie, or tickets to a Yankees game…”

His voice trailed off, which made it clear to Holly that the basket never lived up to Aaron’s hopes and dreams.

“Once I removed the cellophane, and broke the spell, the chocolate bunny was always hollow, and seemed to get smaller every year.  Even though I made it clear that peanut butter eggs were my absolute favorite, the Easter Bunny kept forgetting.  I was told that they were very expensive, and the Easter Bunny was on a tight budget because he had to afford baskets for every kid in the world.  I was also reminded that an ungrateful boy could be left off the Easter Bunny’s delivery list the following year.”

Holly lowered her mask to take another sip of coffee, but also to let her best friend see her frown.  This story made her sad, and she really wished she could run across the path and hug Aaron.  But she knew that Dr. Fauci would not approve of such behavior.

“There were never any books, movies, or tickets,” he clarified.  “The basket was mostly grass, which I couldn’t eat, and jellybeans, which I refused to eat because they always got stuck in my teeth.  But for that magic time after I first woke up, that Easter basket had the potential to be the most amazing gift I’d ever been given.”

short story, Easter, Modern PhilosopherWhat do you say to that?  Holly had absolutely no idea. 

“Which reminds me, the Easter Bunny accidentally left something for you at my place,” he announced and then took an item out of his jacket pocket, and tossed it across the chasm between them.

Holly was completely caught off guard, but still managed to catch the object.  It was a bunny wrapped in gold foil.  And it was damn heavy.

“That’s solid milk chocolate,” he informed her with a wink.  “The Easter Bunny must really like you.”

“He must like you, too,” she responded, “because he left a giant bag of peanut butter eggs for you at my place.  Don’t worry, they’ve been quarantining in my spare bedroom since Wednesday, and they are triple wrapped in plastic bags to keep out the germs.”

“They’re in my car.  I’ll give them to you when we get back to the street,” she promised.

Aaron lowered his mask to reveal a glowing smile.  “Happy Easter, Holly.”

“Happy Easter, Aaron,” she replied with an even brighter smile that he could probably see even though she was still wearing her mask…

Happy Easter, Modern Philosophers!

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A Sobering Day In The Neighborhood

Maine, guns, Modern PhilosopherOne of the things I most love about living in Maine, Modern Philosophers, is that life here is nothing like it used to be in New York and Los Angeles.

In the 18 years I’ve lived here, I’ve felt relieved to get away from the crime and violence that were an everyday part of big city life.

Just the other day, after the mass shooting in Boulder, I remarked to a coworker that I loved that those incidents didn’t happen in Maine.

It’s not that I was scared of living in those big cities, I just hated that I had to factor in the potential for so many bad things to happen.  I took the subway to high school, back when the Guardian Angels would ride the cars to help make them safer for passengers.  My first job out of college was in the Empire State Building, a building which always had the potential to become a high profile terrorist target.

When I moved to Maine, I left so much stress behind.  I’m totally high strung and plagued by anxieties, so it was nice to be able to lop a few off the list.

Today, though, those old fears and anxieties returned.

It all started around 10:00 when I went upstairs to gather the laundry.  From my view in the master bedroom, I could see a police car parked at the end of my block.

Police cars are a rare sight in my neighborhood.  Seeing one caught my attention, but I didn’t think much of it.

The next time I looked out the window, though, there was a second police car a little further down the block.  This set off internal alarms, and caused me to start texting neighbors.

Maine, guns, Modern PhilosopherOver the next half hour, the situation intensified.  Police and Sheriff’s Department vehicles blocked off my street.  Law enforcement officers were everywhere.

The leader of the group was parked in front of my house, and my neighbor was able to question him quickly.  He told her we were safe, but they were interested in someone down the street.

Via texts with my neighbors, we pieced together that there had been shouting from a house down the street last night and this morning.  The police had arrived to investigate the disturbance.

The next time I looked out the front window, that head officer had a large assault weapon in his hand, and appeared to be checking it for readiness.

Shortly thereafter, officers told everyone to go inside.  I noticed people being evacuated from two houses down the street.  My neighbor, who is a reporter for the local news, overheard officers talking about a possible hostage situation.

At this point, there were about a dozen law enforcement vehicles visible from my house.

The neighbors kept in touch via text, and I did my best to update my neighborhood’s Facebook page, as other residents saw the police presence, and wanted to know what was happening.

I wasn’t scared, but I was definitely tense and anxious.  I did a lot of pacing from room to room to check the street.  I got out the laptop and worked on my novel.  Once the Yankees game started, I was better distracted.

Then my friend Joy, who lives down the block, texted that about 10 officers in full tactical gear were in front of her house.  I went to my bathroom window, which looks out on the side street where the “problem house” was located, and could see three officers in tactical gear in the ready position on the corner.

Maine, guns, Modern PhilosopherThat heightened my anxiety a bit, but ironically, it helped that Joy sent this photo, which she had taken from her front door.

As you can see, three officers in tactical gear stand at the ready by the corner of the brown house.  Another officer stands next to his car, weapon at the ready.

Meanwhile, our neighbor is in his driveway, loading his dirty laundry into his car so he can make a trip to the laundromat.

Something about the juxtaposition in the photo made me laugh, and caused my anxiety levels to abate.

I mean, I totally get it.  I was doing laundry, too.  It’s a great distraction during a time of crisis.  Then again, I’ve got a washer and dryer in my basement, which means I didn’t have to carry my dirty undies past the heavily armed tactical team to get the job done.

This standoff went on almost all afternoon.  I tried to lose myself in the Yankees game, but it was hard to ignore the fact that so much firepower was visible from pretty much any window in my house.

Then about 3:00, I checked the bathroom window.  To my relief, dozens of tactical officers were pouring out of the “problem house”.  I hadn’t heard any gunfire or seen any ambulance speeding away from the scene.

The tactical officers soon departed, and regular officers entered the building.  Years of watching police procedurals had taught me that this meant the big trouble was over, and the investigation was underway.

I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but I just know it’s over now.

Maine, guns, Modern PhilosopherTexts were exchanged that confirmed all was well.  For the first time all day, I was able to stop thinking like a New Yorker, and go back to thinking like a Mainer.

I went outside an hour later to take a few photos.  As you can see, there was no sign that anything out of the ordinary had darkened the doorstep of my neighborhood for five excruciating hours.

I was grateful that law enforcement had been there to keep me safe, but I was quite thrilled that they were nowhere to be seen on a quiet Spring afternoon.

It was a sobering day in the neighborhood.  Clearly, nowhere is immune from crime and violence, but I do count myself lucky that I’ve found a place that makes me feel much less anxious about what’s out there in the world.

Stay safe out there, Modern Philosophers!

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Why Not Make It A Great Friday?

Good Friday, humor, Modern PhilosopherHappy Good Friday, Modern Philosophers!

Growing up Catholic, this was a day that always confused me.  Even back then, dressed in my Catholic school boy uniform, I was still metaphorically wearing the toga of the Modern Philosopher.

The thing was, I just couldn’t understand why the Church had decided to go with “Good Friday” as the name for the day.

After all, this was the day when Jesus had been crucified.  Doesn’t sound like a good day to me at all.  In fact, it sounds like a downright sad and depressing day.  The kind of day that would really rile up those who opposed the death penalty.  So why call it Good Friday?

I think over the years I heard murmurs that the name was symbolic, if not ironic.  It was a good day for us because Jesus had died for our sins, thereby saving us and such.  The Church wanted to celebrate the day so that it didn’t seem like the “bad guys” had defeated us when they killed Jesus.

Those explanations never really made sense to me, and I have to admit that it took absolutely every bit of my self control to not raise my hand every year to ask the Nuns why it was called Good Friday.

I especially had to bite my tongue because I really wanted to add something like, “I bet Jesus doesn’t remember anything good about that day!”.

Good Friday, humor, Modern PhilosopherBut I feared the Nuns, so I never asked my question.

They probably would have thrown me out of Catholic school had I dared posed that one and then made my follow up comment.

To this day, though, I still don’t understand why it’s called Good Friday.

The Church is all about solemnity, so why not give it a more mournful and serious name?

Maybe I’ll tweet the Pope and see what he has to say about it.

Of course, whenever The Nite Show airs around Easter, I write a few jokes about Good Friday, and there is inevitably one in there about the name of the day.  This year, I submitted this…

Yesterday was Good Friday, although something tells me Jesus never refers to it that way.

For some reason, Danny didn’t pick that one for the monologue.  I bet the Nuns pressured him not to use it.  Their reach knows no bounds, obviously.

I also had another one I really liked, but figured Danny wouldn’t use…

Yesterday was Good Friday.  I tried to make it a great Friday, but my wife said she had a headache.

You have to admit that’s funny, but I get it.  Danny doesn’t likes to keep it clean, and that one implies naughty behavior, which the Nuns would definitely frown upon given it was Good Friday.

I also thought this one was worthy of a chuckle…

Yesterday was Good Friday.  Based upon how the monologue has gone so far, I’d say today is About Average Saturday.

Good Friday, humor, Modern PhilosopherThat one pokes fun at the writers, which means I was basically making fun of myself.  They all can’t be winners, but when you have to stand for three hours under the hot stage lights holding the cue cards, you kind of hope some of your favorite jokes will be written on them.

As for me, I’m having a great Friday.  I took the day off, so I slept in, and now I get to relax, write all day, and feast on Easter candy that I bought for myself.

Was there ever something you really wanted to ask about when you were in school, but didn’t because you were afraid of how the teacher would react?

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Sunrise, Sunset

The Nite Show, humor, Modern PhilosopherYesterday was a very long day, Modern Philosophers.

It started off with a morning run, during which I got to witness the gorgeous sunrise depicted in this photo.

After that, it was off to my desk job, which was busy as always.  But I got to leave there early and head off for my four day weekend.

With one catch.

There’s always a catch, right?

I had to go to my second job.

My second job is very cool, though.  I’m a writer for The Nite Show with Danny Cashman, and last night was out first taping in over a year with a studio audience.  Thanks, COVID!

So I was very excited to be back in the Gracie Theater for that.

With one catch.

Please see my statement above about there always being a catch.

The Nite Show, humor, Modern PhilosopherDanny asked me to fill in as cue card guy for the taping.

I wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to do that, but Danny asks so little of the writers (other than to make him appear to be hilarious, which I suppose is no small task…HA!), so I agreed to do it.

It’s not that I’m not a team player, and eager to be up on stage and (quite literally!) in the spotlight.  It’s just that I was looking forward to relaxing and taking in this important moment.

The fact that we’d gotten to the point in the pandemic that an audience was allowed to gather for the taping of a television show was a huge step.  I hoped to soak it all in, along with all the applause and laughter we’ve been longing to hear from a live audience for so long.  It was a little eerie doing the show in the theater and hearing nothing in response.

Since we tape three shows a night, that meant three hours on my feet, under the bright stage lights, trying not to screw up the cards, while also avoiding stepping into the shot.

It was definitely work, but I am so grateful to be a part of The Nite Show team and have a chance to entertain people during trying times, so I told myself to suck it up and power through it.

Well, it was a great night, but also a long one.  Due to some unforeseen technical issues (are technical issues ever foreseen???), it was longer than expected.

The Nite Show, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs you can see from this photo, taken after the second show, I wasn’t as chipper as I was in the previous photo, which was taken before the taping began.

And keep in mind, as you stare into my tired eyes, that I still had another hour to go.

But the audience laughed.  I got to hold up cue cards with my jokes written on them, and watch Danny do the monologue from only a few feet away.

I somehow managed to never drop the cards, or get them out of order.  The miracle of television!

When I got home, my legs, back, and arms were sore.  I popped a few ibuprofen, and crashed on the couch.  Then I slept in this morning since I had wisely taken the day off.

I woke up to a long message from Danny thanking me for championing my way through the long, tedious cue card holding process, and that made it all worth it.

With one catch.

The Nite Show, humor, Modern PhilosopherWhat if he asks me to do the cue cards again???


I managed to snap a few candids from the stage during commercial breaks and between shows.  I really like this one of Christie, Danny’s new announcer and partner in crime, as she listens to the band entertain the audience during a particularly long technical stoppage.

This was Christie’s first show with an audience, so she was super excited.  I’m glad she finally got to experience the joy of playing to the fabulous Nite Show crowd.

One of my favorite things about tapings is watching the interaction between Danny and the audience.  Even though he is extremely busy hosting the show and keeping things running, he always finds the time to chat up the crowd and take questions.

The Nite Show, humor, Modern PhilosopherEven though last night’s audience size was severely limited due to Coronavirus restrictions, Danny still took the time to talk to his fans.

Sorry that this photo is blurry, but I was tired, the lights blinded me, and it’s just a cell phone camera, so cut me some slack!

Anyway, it was a long day, but well worth it.  Wish you all lived in Maine so you could come hang out with me at a taping.  You know, because if I had guests, there’s no way Danny to make me do the cue cards again…

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Not So Gifted

short story, relationships, Modern Philosopher“Do you agree that some people have an unfair advantage in life because they’ve been blessed with certain gifts that others haven’t?” Aaron asked in all seriousness from his bench on his side of the river path.

Holly, who sat on a bench on the opposite side of the same path, took a long sip of her coffee as she pondered her best friend’s question.  She took a little extra time returning her mask to the ready position before she replied.

“Feeling philosophical today?” she teased.

“It’s more like I’m feeling life isn’t fair,” he admitted begrudgingly.

Holly studied him as he lowered his mask, took a long sip of his Snapple, and stared out at the river for the longest time before finally replacing his mask.

It wasn’t like Aaron to dawdle with Coronavirus safety precautions, so there was clearly something distracting him today.

“Why don’t you give me some specifics so I better understand,” she suggested.

short story, relationships, Modern PhilosopherHe shrugged like he didn’t care, but he was never one to shy away from a conversation.  Especially not one that was burning a hole in the portion of his brain where the Deep Thoughts resided.

“Some people are clearly more attractive than others, so dating is simple for them.  Other people are confident and outgoing, so they are able to get the things they want in life, while surrounding themselves with friends.  Then there are the athletes, who make everything look simple as they play a game for a living and cash massive paychecks for their troubles.  And let’s not forget the people who are born into money, so they live a pampered life and get everything they want.”

Holly allowed the words to hang in the air for a moment before trying to address them.

There was so much information there, and it was going to take her some time to figure out the root of what was eating at him on this overcast Sunday morning.  She hated to see Aaron upset, but she knew she risked irritating him even more if she asked too many questions, or worse yet, acted like she was trying to take care of him.

She was basically walking a tightrope without a net, but she had to do something.

“You have plenty of gifts,” she pointed out.  “You’re the best writer I know.”

short story, relationships, Modern PhilosopherAaron snorted.  “Writing, the gift that keeps giving.  And by giving, I mean it always gives me reason to need another job to pay my bills and keep a roof over my head.”

“And there’s also my brilliant sense of humor that usually pisses off people either because they’re not smart enough to get the joke, or they can figure it out, and realize they are the butt of it.  Not exactly a gift that helps me become the social butterfly I so badly want to be.”

So this was the way it was going to be.  Holly took another sip of coffee in an attempt to control the rage that wanted to rise up inside her.  But she never could get angry at Aaron when he went into self-destruct mode.  That was when he needed her most.

In fact, she smiled because she realized that his little outburst was his way of reaching out and asking her for help.

“I suppose one could say that these gifted folks are a bunch of cheaters,” Holly told him.

Aaron raised an eyebrow.  This was a good sign that meant she had pushed aside the dark clouds enough to get his attention.

short story, relationships, Modern Philosopher“I’m listening…”

“Isn’t it obvious?” she challenged.  “The deck is stacked in their favor.  Of course they’re going to win.  The might have more than the rest of us, but at least we all know they didn’t earn it.”

The eyebrow returned to its proper place on Aaron’s face, and his expression to turned to something much more cynical.

“No offense, but I don’t think the chosen ones are losing any sleep over the moral conundrums of how they came to obtain their bounties.  All they know if that they have it better than the rest of us, and always will.”

Well that hadn’t gone the way Holly had hoped it would when she drew up the play on her mental chalkboard.  Damn Aaron’s gift of quick wit!

“That’s it!” she shouted and leapt up off her bench.

They was a momentary look of panic on Aaron’s face when he thought his best friend was going to violate the six foot social distancing zone between them, but that quickly vanished when Holly made no move in his direction.

“What’s got you all excited?” he asked calmly once assured she was no threat to his bubble.

“Your wit is your true gift,” she explained.  “It makes you unlike any other person I know, prevents you from wallowing in self-pity for too long, keeps away the pretentious morons that would make both our lives a living hell, and it gives you that edge that will eventually lead to your success in your chosen field.”

Aaron smiled.  He knew he kept Holly around for a reason, and pep talks like this one might very well be it.

Okay, he would stop being a cynical prick for just a millisecond and acknowledge that Holly was a very important part of his life.

short story, relationships, Modern PhilosopherGod no, he wasn’t going to say that to her.  This was just an internal moment.  He couldn’t risk her getting a big head or something.

“And now we know what your gift is,” Aaron announced with a sly grin.  “You’re the world’s greatest bullshitter.”

They both had a good laugh at that one…

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Do You Ever Shower With Your Characters?

writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherI don’t want to get too personal, Modern Philosophers, but do you ever shower with your characters?

I should probably clarify that the question is aimed at my fellow writers, and I’m talking about plotting out story lines and writing dialogue in your head while showering.

If you’re not a writer, and you’re bringing fictional characters into the shower with you, I’m not looking to hear those stories.  What you do on your own time is up to you, but this is a family friendly blog, so please do not share those anecdotes here.

I don’t give the shower enough credit as a place for inspiration.  That praise normally is bestowed upon runs or long walks.  While those activities are perfect for getting some mental writing done, let’s not forget the shower.

Normally, I sing in the shower.  Lately, my tune of choice has been “The Ties That Bind” by Springsteen.  I’m finding the lyrics really speak to me at the moment, and this is a song that I have the vocal range to belt out very well.

But let’s get back to the creative process.  The other morning, I hit the shower after a run, and I had a conversation between Aaron and Holly going on in my head.  For those of you not in the know, those are the best friends from my regular Sunday short story.  The ideas for those posts will usually pop into my head as a line of dialogue, most of the time from Aaron, and then snowball into a full blown conversation after my mind comes up with Holly’s reply.

writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs I recently shared with a writer friend, I’ve been using those Sunday posts to hone my dialogue writing skills for my novel.

The novel is based on a short story from the blog, and my strategy has been to tackle the project like one long blog post.

As a result, it made sense to use my blog to try out various writing styles and conversation ideas for the book.

So I hit the shower mentally writing what should become this Sunday’s blog post, but somewhere along the line, I segued into a conversation between Sebastian and Nicki, the leads from the novel.

I wasn’t really sure where to begin Chapter 18, but by the time I’d turned off the water, I knew exactly where to go.  It’s amazing how active the mind can be when a little soap and hot water is added to the equation.

writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherIf you are not taking your characters into the shower with you, I highly recommend you give it a shot.

After all, they’re in close quarters in the pages of your work in progress, so why not give them some time to freshen up while you get creative?

Do you have a go to activity when you need to do some mental writing?

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Stop The March Madness

humor, March Madness, Modern Philosopher“Now that there are several vaccines for the Coronavirus, do you think scientists could come up with something to get rid of March Madness?” Aaron asked.

Holly laughed so hard that she had to fight to keep coffee from shooting out her nose.

Instead, she placed her coffee cup next to her on the bench where it could not cause any trouble, and laughed at her best friend, who was across the path on his own bench.

“I take it you’re not a fan of college basketball?”

“Why would I be?” he snapped in reply.  “This tournament is on every channel.  I don’t have anyone to root for since my alma mater is Division III, so I have no reason to care.”

“My college isn’t in the tourney, either, but I still enjoy watching it,” she countered.

“The only was the Maine Black Bears will ever be in the March Madness tournament is if they change the sport from basketball to hockey.”

Holly shrugged, took a sip of her coffee, and then returned her mask to the ready position.  There was no sense in arguing with Aaron on that one because he was absolutely correct.  The University of Maine’s Men’s Basketball Team had never made the big dance, and probably never would.

humor, March Madness, Modern Philosopher“The Black Bears and the tournament are like the Jets and the Super Bowl,” she quipped.

Aaron visibly cringed on his side of the path.

“That’s a bit of a low blow, don’t you think?” he asked through clenched teeth. “It’s not like you even care about UMaine Basketball.”

Then he took a long sip of his Snapple to wash the bad taste of his best friend’s comment from his mouth.  Before replacing his mask, he stuck out his tongue at her to both show his disdain, and to remind her of his maturity level on this sunny Sunday morning.

“I couldn’t exactly pick on the NYU Violets!” Holly countered.  “Only a horrible person trash talks a flower.  Then again, what kind of school chooses a plant as a mascot?”

“Hey, this was supposed to be a rant about my hatred of college basketball, not a defense of those things I hold dear,” Aaron complained.

“I’m sorry,” she replied sincerely. “I don’t know why I get so defensive when you pick on my college.  I guess I’m jealous I didn’t get to go someplace cool like NYU.”

Aaron nodded like he understood.  “That makes sense.  You are forgiven.”

They both chuckled and enjoyed the silence for a moment.

humor, March Madness, Modern Philosopher“I still hate March Madness,” he finally broke the silence.  “I mean, these kids are supposed to be in college, right?  So how do they have all this time to travel around the country to play in these games?  Are they doing their homework?  Are they taking tests?  Something tells me they are not doing their required reading!”

“Only you wold think of such thing!” she accused.

“I will take that as the compliment I’m sure it was intended to be,” he shot back.  “There’s a pandemic going on.  Think of all the college students who aren’t allowed to attend classes in person, but these guys get to hang out and shoot hoops like life is normal.”

Holly rolled her eyes.  “You never cry pandemic when you’re watching your beloved Yankees.”

“That’s right,” he agreed.  “Because they Yankees are professional athletes, not college students.  They’re out there making a living, and spreading a little joy to those of us who have been housebound because of the killer virus.”

humor, March Madness, Modern Philosopher“And March Madness doesn’t spread a little joy?” Holly pushed.

“Not in my house!” Aaron declare angrily.  “All it brings is dismay and boredom.

“You really can rant and rave about anything,” Holly acknowledged with a hint of jealousy in her voice.

“I know,” he answered without a trace of humility.  “It’s a talent I’ve honed over the years after I realized I much prefer the sound of my own voice to that of others.  If I don’t shut up about something, it makes it impossible for anyone else to annoy me with their opinions.”

“I’ve never noticed,” she said without bothering to wipe away any of the sarcasm that was dripping from her words.

But she wasn’t really complaining.  Why else would she spend every Sunday with the guy if she didn’t enjoy listening to him ramble?

Breaking news from Twitter…

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Pray The Ice Can’t Climb

Spring, Maine, Modern PhilosopherI had a very intriguing Deep Thought during my run this morning, Modern Philosophers.

I’m very thankful that ice hasn’t evolved to a point where it can climb stairs.

Look at this photo.  All the giant chunks of ice in the Penobscot River have gathered at the foot of the steps that lead up to my running path.

Clearly, the ice has realized that the river is getting too warm for it to remain as its home for much longer.  It knows that it either has to find a new place to hang its frigid hat, or it will simply become part of the river.

And don’t laugh at me for thinking that ice can evolve.  We hear every day on the news that the Coronavirus is evolving and mutating into new strains that are more contagious and difficult for the vaccines to combat.

The virus has only been around since 2019 and it’s evolving.  Ice has been around for all eternity, so you’d better believe it knows a thing or two about taking whatever steps are necessary in order to survive.

Spring, Maine, Modern PhilosopherLook at this photo.

That was taken from the top of the steps.  Just look at the determination in that ice.  It knows it has to figure out a way to get out of the water, and it has correctly determined that the steps lead to salvation.

Winter in Maine is already overwhelming.  Imagine what life would be like here if the snow and ice evolved to a point where it never melted.  That would be my version of Hell, which is ironic given how snowy and icy it would be.

So I need for ice to not take this one small step for frozen water because it would be one giant leap into insanity for mankind.

After all, it’s the first day of Spring.  Time for the snow and ice to be replaced by green grass and sunshine.

I put the chairs back out on the porch today.  I don’t care what the temperature is, I’m acknowledging that Spring has sprung, and sitting out on my porch to enjoy it!

I even went for a walk to the library after my run because I wanted to be outside in the beautiful Spring sunshine.  It was definitely worth it.  Not only did I get some much needed fresh air, but I also got to visit all the books.

Spring, Maine, Modern PhilosopherAs you can see, I always wear my mask in the library.

We have to do everything we can to keep the books safe during a pandemic.  Most of them are very old, and since they’re made of paper, you really can’t inject them with a vaccine.  I’m pretty sure that would mess with the ink, and cause the words to smear and become impossible to read.

In the morning, I plan to run along the river walk again.  I just pray the ice hasn’t made any progress up the steps…

Happy Spring, Modern Philosophers!

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Leprechaun Portfolio Diversity

short story, St Patrick's Day, Modern Philosopher“Do you think leprechauns give any consideration to diversifying their portfolios?” Aaron asked shortly after he had settled in on his bench on his side of the river walk path.

On the other side of the path, Holly smiled brightly under her mask.

This was clearly the beginning one of her best friend’s classic silly rants, and it was even holiday themed!  She leaned back on her bench, and prepared to be entertained.

“Why would they?” she challenged knowing full well that it would just inspire him to leap full force over the ledge into ridiculousness.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he replied calmly.  “They’re magical creatures, so why would they care about the return on their investment?  But that is the kind of short-sighted thinking that leads to recessions and the top one percent gaining a stranglehold on the world’s economy.”

“So you blame any economic downturns, and the subsequent amassing of wealth by the uber rich on the financial failures of mythical creatures?” she sought clarification before taking the first sip of her coffee.

Aaron nodded emphatically.  “Yes, I do.  Look, I don’t care if they want to spend their riches on sharp green suits, fancy derbies, and tiny walking sticks.  It’s great that they are supporting those very specific businesses.  I’m just saying they could be doing so much more to stimulate the economy at a very trying time in this planet’s history.”

short story, St Patrick's Day, Modern PhilosopherHe took a long sip of his Snapple, as if getting out that theory had left him completely parched.

Holly nodded in understanding, but there was no way she was letting this go.  She’d had a long week and this was exactly the kind of fun she needed on a chilly Sunday.

“But I thought gold was the best way to invest your money?”

Aaron rolled his eyes.  He loved Holly, but her naivete could be so frustrating.

“Putting it all in gold is stupid,” he insisted like the captain of finance he definitely was not.  “Especially gold coins that you keep in a pot at the end of a rainbow.  What kind of security is that?  Anyone who follows a rainbow could end up walking off with a leprechaun’s life savings.  You can’t tell me they spend every waking hour guarding that pot.  Even if they did, they’re not earning any interest in the middle of the woods.  And that pot of gold is not FDIC insured.”

“Aren’t gold prices on the rise?” she asked all innocently even though she was really just playing devil’s advocate to egg him on for her amusement.

“That’s another fairy tale,” Aaron growled from his bench.  “Gold is not as reliable as it once was.  Maybe because all the damn leprechauns are hoarding it in the woods.  Now is the time to turn that gold into stocks and cash.  Perhaps even invest in some real estate since mortgage rates are so low, and the housing market is going to boom soon.”

Holly took another sip of her coffee and nodded.  “And if they did buy real estate, it would give them a better place to hide their pots of gold.  Assuming, of course, that they keep some of the gold, if only for a memento of the good old days…”

short story, St Patrick's Day, Modern PhilosopherAaron shot her a look like he was very suspicious that she was mocking him.

He was very sensitive to mockery, and would shut down quickly if he thought he was the victim of it.  Holly was well aware of this, and knew she had to keep him talking.

“One would think that St. Patrick’s Day is an excellent time for leprechauns to turn their gold into something more,” she lobbed him a softball and prayed that he swung for the fences.

“That’s so right,” he agreed after the slightest pause.  “Hell, St Patrick’s Day would be perfect.  A bunch of drunk revelers, with $1400 stimulus checks burning a hole in their pockets, just looking for the opportunity to feel ‘even more Irish’ on the big day.”

Holly nodded excitedly.  “Who wouldn’t want to buy gold coins from a leprechaun on March 17th?  What could be a luckier way to spend your money?”

“And if the leprechauns were smart, and something tells me they are both wise and crafty, they’d know how to take advantage of the situation,” Aaron continued.  “They could sell their gold coins for way more than what they’re actually worth on St Patrick’s Day.  If Trump can jack up the rates on his DC hotel to take advantage of his own knucklehead followers longing for his true inauguration on March 4th, leprechauns can do the same to drunks who are looking to get even more in touch with their Irish roots.”

short story, St Patrick's Day, Modern Philosopher“Then they take that cash, and invest it in the market, right?” Holly asked, her smirk not visible under her mask.

“Exactly!” Aaron leapt up off his bench and paced excitedly along the path, making sure to never come within six feet of her.

“The Dow has never been trading higher,” he reported.  “Trump tried to scare people into thinking that voting for Biden would lead to the worst depression in history, but instead, the market is booming.  If leprechauns really wanted to secure their futures, now is the time.  They’ve got both the Luck of the Irish and Joe Biden on their side.”

“Sure, the market will ebb, and there will be some rough times, but it’s still a better investment than leaving everything you own in a pot that anyone could find after it rains.”

“If I were a leprechaun, I’d be Googling a broker right now,” Holly assured him.

Aaron sat down and just stared across the path at her for the longest time.

“What?” she asked, blushing under her mask.

“I just can’t picture you in a green suit,” he chuckled.  “Plus, whenever you try to do an Irish accent, you sound like you’re in horrific pain.”

“As if!” she laughed.  “You’re totally stereotyping leprechauns, by the way.  I’d be a modern leprechaun, more fashionable and well-spoken than the ones depicted in fiction.  And I’d be wise enough to go to you for financial advice.”

“Bless your wee heart,” he replied and raised his Snapple in a toast.

short story, St Patrick's Day, Modern Philosopher

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