What’s Your Favorite Halloween Candy?

Halloween, candy, Modern PhilosopherThe calendar clearly states that Halloween is quickly approaching, Modern Philosophers, but I just don’t feel the Halloween Season vibe like I normally do.

This blog usually revels in the holiday with a month’s worth of posts about The Pumpkin King’s favorite day, but not this year.

I blame it on the pandemic, which has taken all the joy out of getting to wear a mask around for a day.  Now that a mask is perpetually plastered to my face, Halloween has lost one of the traits that made it so unique.

Of course, the other big draw of October 31 is the free candy.  It’s the one day of the year you can ignore the Nuns’ sage advice and actually take candy from strangers.  On the flip side, it’s the one day of the year that you don’t freak out when masked strangers pound on your door and demand you hand over your property.

It does not look like Trick or Treating is on the agenda at The House on the Hill this year.  While I’ve seen a few posts in a neighborhood Facebook group stating that some folks are willing to pass out candy like normal, the general consensus seems to be that it’s in everyone’s best interest to discourage such activity while the virus runs unchecked through our communities, egging our lives with sickness and death.

Halloween, candy, Modern PhilosopherI’m bummed, but if you are a regular follower of my blog, you know the checkered past of Halloween at The House on the Hill.  Every year, I buy a ton of candy and get pumped up for all the trick or treat visits, and then I end up bringing the candy to work because I get like six kids at the door.

And when I say “I end up bringing the candy to work”, what I actually mean is that I eat a large portion of it myself as I glumly wait for goblins and ghouls who never end up haunting my front porch, and then bring to work whatever survives the candy purge.

Even though Halloween might not be out in full force this year, I still wanted to keep the spirit of the holiday alive.  When I went for my run this morning, I cut through different parts of the neighborhood to check out the decorations.

Halloween, candy, Modern PhilosopherThere was still a hint of Jack Skellington in the air, so that lifted my spirits.  I thought I’d pay it forward with a post about the Halloween topic nearest and dearest to all our hearts.  So in this, the year when the Great Virus is displacing the Great Pumpkin on our social calendars, I ask you:

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

I had to give that one some Deep Thought to be honest.  There wasn’t a slam dunk winner like I’d thought there would be.  And that might have been simply because I wanted to distract myself with as many Deep Thoughts about candy as possible.

As a kid, I would have answered that question with candy corn.  For some reason, I really used to love the stuff.  I’d eat it slowly, chomping off one layer of color at a time.  For some reason, it didn’t bother me that it was ridiculously sweet and disgusting.

As an adult, my taste buds have become much more sophisticated.  Which is probably because I’ve done so much eating in my life.  And you wonder why I run so much!

My popular vote went to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because of my love of anything chocolate and peanut butter.

However, my inner Electoral College went in another direction and named Mounds as my Favorite Halloween Candy.

I know that decision is going to lead to some hurt feelings and discontent, but we have to trust that our forefathers set up the Electoral College for a reason.

Halloween, candy, Modern PhilosopherAfter reflecting on it for a while, I’m at peace with Mounds being the winner.  After all, it’s a candy that I really only eat during the Halloween Season.  Even though it’s available to me all year, I ignore the chocolate coconut deliciousness until the Witches and Ghosts are roaming the streets.

I’m glad I took the time to really ponder this one, Modern Philosophers.  Not only did it give my grey matter an excellent workout, but it also led to an uptick in Halloween Spirit according to my latest polling.

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

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All Tricks, No Treats

Flash fiction, short story, Halloween, Modern Philosopher“It’s less than two weeks until Halloween, and I couldn’t help but notice that you had no decorations out on your porch,” Holly commented from the bench on her side of the running path as she sipped her coffee.

“That struck me as odd since Halloween is your favorite holiday.  In fact, I’d say I’m way more in the Halloween Spirit than you.”

To emphasize her point, she motioned to her mask, which was adorned with Jack and Sally from A Nightmare Christmas.

Aaron sighed and nodded sheepishly.

“I’m not doing Halloween this year,” he announced from his side of the path.  “2020 has already been frightening enough that I don’t need to add to it by turning my porch into something out of a horror flick.”

Holly nodded in understanding.

“Besides, there’s no way you’re going to top the scariest haunted house in the country this year,” she informed him.  “The White House has that honor locked up.”

Aaron chuckled, sipped his Snapple, then returned his Yankees mask to its rightful place over his mouth and nose.

Flash fiction, short story, Halloween, Modern Philosopher“Hope no one tries to trick or treat there,” he replied.  “All they’re giving out is King Size Coronavirus!”

“So does no Halloween mean you’re not even going to pass out candy?” she asked with a tinge of sadness in her query.

“Doesn’t seem like the safest time to be taking candy from strangers, or to be opening my door to strangers who come calling in the night,” he answered.

“But they are wearing masks,” she added hopefully.

“Not if Trump and his Covid cult members have their way,” he countered with his famous snark.  “They’ll be out on the street, armed to the teeth, screaming at the poor kids that they’re sheep for wearing masks.”

“All while they’re wearing their Klan hoods,” she grumbled.  “What a bunch of dimwitted hypocrites.”

Aaron nodded his assent and took another slug of Snapple.

Flash fiction, short story, Halloween, Modern Philosopher“Trust me, I’m not happy about reining in my inner Skeleton King this year, but it just doesn’t seem right to celebrate the holiday when our government is already overrun by ghouls and goblins,” he admitted.  “The world is scary enough right now, and adding free candy to the mix is only going to give everyone a wild sugar high that makes them feel as invincible as the President on his Coronavirus steroids.”

“I think you have convinced me to follow your lead,” Holly surrendered to her best friend’s logic.  “I still might buy a bag of candy and eat it myself, though.”

“Oh, I’m totally going to do that,” Aaron agreed.  “In fact, I’m going to buy the usual six or seven bags, and just slowly empty them as I watch horror movies alone in the dark.”

“And by horror movies, do you mean the news channels along with all the political attack ads that will run during the commercial breaks?” she asked with a smile.

“You get me,” Aaron answered with a wink.  “This is why we’re best friends.  I’d invite you over so we could suffer through the agony of it all together, but Covid is totally going to be on the prowl for people stupid enough to gather in groups on Halloween.”

“Don’t lie,” she scolded him from her side of the path.  “The real reason you’re not inviting me is because you don’t want to share your candy!”

Flash fiction, short story, Halloween, Modern Philosopher“No one knows me better than you,” Aaron complimented her with a sly grin, which she was able to see because he had pulled down his mask for her benefit.  “I just hope that the Tuesday after Halloween isn’t an even scarier holiday.  If everything goes as planned that day, maybe the most horrific four years in history will come to a merciful end.”

“And then we can celebrate and put up decorations?” she asked hopefully.

“I guess that all depends on how President Elect Biden handles the pandemic,” he replied and then said a silent prayer that help was on the way…

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I Voted! Did It Work???

Vote, Joe Biden, humor, Modern PhilosopherI haven’t been this enthusiastic about voting since my Residence Hall Government Election during my Junior year of college, Modern Philosophers.

Back then, I was a first time candidate running for President, and I didn’t think I had much of a shot at winning.

I also didn’t want it to be a unanimous vote in my opponent’s favor, so I was very eager to cast a vote for Austin.

Somehow, I managed to win the election and get re-elected in my Senior year.  If colleges didn’t have term limits on how long you could live in a dorm, I might still be President to this day.

But I’m getting really off topic here, so let me rein myself in before this post goes completely off the rails.  Kind of like our country has in the last four years…

(Great segue!)

I vote every year, but this election seems to be more important than any in recent history.  I’m not proud of what my country has become under its current President, and I’m not the kind of person to complain about a problem, but not do anything about it.

I share my views on this blog, but that doesn’t mean anything if I don’t cast my vote for change.  So I did my research to figure out how to get an absentee ballot.

Vote, Joe Biden, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’ve always voted in person, but there’s no way I want to wait in line indoors during a pandemic.  Not that I don’t enjoy the company of my neighbors, but these are extraordinary times and I’m all about taking precautions.

Getting an absentee ballot proved to be extremely simple.  I made my request on the State of Maine site, quickly received a reply by email, and then got a follow up email from my city stating that my request had been approved.  That email told me when I should expect to receive my ballot.

The ballot arrived last week, I filled it out, and then brought it to City Hall on Wednesday because I got off work early.  I didn’t want to risk putting it in the mail to allow for any shenanigans to occur, and I wanted the peace of mind of knowing that my ballot had been officially received and would be counted.

When I showed up at City Hall at 3:15 on Wednesday, I was thrilled to see that there were four people ahead of me to turn in ballots.  I figured the place would be dead at that time, so that was very encouraging.

The City Clerk took care of business very quickly.  I was in and out of City Hall in five minutes.  In 2016, it took me an hour and a half to vote and then wait in line to get to the machine where I actually turned in my ballot.  That was a very frustrating process, but I wanted to do my civic duty and exercise my right to vote.

But I’ll take 5 minutes over 90 any Election Day, pandemic or not.

So I guess my question now is: Did it work?

Vote, Joe Biden, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’ve cast my vote.  I’ve made my voice heard.  I didn’t just sit back and complain about the state of my nation.

Did it work?  Did my vote bring about the changes we need so that I’ll no longer be embarrassed by my country’s government?

I’ve got to be honest, Modern Philosophers, if it didn’t work, I’m not sure how I’m going to survive the next four years.  I do not like what’s going on in my country, and if we continue even further down this dimly lit path, following the light of the tiki torches in the distance, I’m afraid we’ll find ourselves in one of those dystopian future movies that are suppose to frighten us from ever allowing things to get so out of hand.

So I urge you to vote, Modern Philosophers.  Be the change that will prevent me from ever knowing if I could survive Purge Night of The Hunger Games!

Posted in Humor, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Long Distance Relationship

short story, flash fiction, relationships, humor, Modern PhilosopherThey sat on his front porch and enjoyed the gorgeous Autumn weather in Maine.  Aaron had his legs up on the front porch railing and sipped his Snapple.  Holly wrapped her hands tightly around her coffee cup in hopes of getting warm.

Their chairs were ten feet apart, so neither wore a mask, but they were close at hand should an emergency arise.  And with Aaron, who was paranoid about being infected, anything could be considered an emergency.

“You’re awfully quiet today,” Holly spoke up because the silence was driving her mad.

Aaron gave a weak shrug.  “I’m just thinking.”

Holly raised an eyebrow.  She wanted to be let in on whatever was banging around inside her best friend’s head.  After all, his wild rants and crazy stories were the only thing keeping her sane during these challenging times.

“Care to share?”

He let out a deep sigh.  “I think it’s time to start dating again, but just saying that out loud makes me anxious.”

Holly nodded in understanding.  He certainly had a checkered past when it came to relationships.  He always fell in love so hard, which meant that when things didn’t work out, it took Holly months to drag him out of the abyss of despair.

“They say the first step is admitting you have a problem,” she offered with a chuckle in hopes of keeping things light.

Romantic conversations, or to be more precise, conversations about romance, tended to get intense and heated, and then usually led to a very dark place.  Holly needed to be the beacon that kept the discussion on a well lit path.

“I mean, I know I’m a card carrying introvert, and now isn’t exactly the time to be leaving my bubble of security,” he stated and motioned towards the house with his left arm, “but I’m lonely, I’m bored, and I think it would be easier to handle this pandemic if there was someone around to lighten the load of my anxiety.”

He saw the hurt look on his best friend’s face, so he quickly added, “Not that you don’t already do that, Holly, but you have your own life and relationships.  I’m talking about someone who wants to be a true partner, not a best friend who I overwhelm with too much of my bullshit and unpredictable mood swings.”

short story, flash fiction, relationships, humor, Modern Philosopher“If I knew it wouldn’t certainly lead to your trying to punch me, and then subjecting yourself to a lengthy decontamination shower, I’d give you a big hug right now, you bonehead,” she admonished him with a warm smile. “You’re not a burden.  I’m always here for you. And I never feel overwhelmed.”

“I know.  You’re awesome, and I would be a mess without you, but I think all this isolation has left me missing the touch of another human, and various activities that work wonders for my anxiety, but can’t be done with one’s bestie.”

Holly blushed, and took a long sip of her coffee to try to hide how red her cheeks were becoming.

“Message received, Commander,” she announced with an odd salute, which only made the situation more awkward.

“The big problem here is, I’m not sure if I can handle a long distance relationship,” he admitted and simultaneously steered the conversation back to a less awkward topic.

“Then don’t start chatting up someone who lives far away,” she advised.  “Remember that time you fell for the writer from Ireland?  She was pretty cool, but I told you the distance was going to be a problem.”

Aaron grinned as his thoughts drifted back to the ex-girlfriend in question.

“Her accent, though…” he said dreamily.  “I could have listened to her brogue for hours.  It was like she had me under a spell, and I fell deeper until its power with every sentence out of her mouth.”

Holly snapped her fingers to break him out of his trance.

“I know you loved her voice, and you guys were a cute couple when she came to visit, but having an ocean between you was too much,” she reminded him.

short story, flash fiction, relationships, humor, Modern Philosopher“I learned my lesson from that,” he admitted sheepishly.  “But that’s not the type of long distance I was referencing.  I’m talking about this whole six feet, social distancing thing.”

Holly looked at him in confusion.  After all these years, he could still catch her off guard with the way his mind worked.

“That’s not a long distance relationship,” she corrected.

He shook his head in vehement disagreement.

“Of course it is,” he insisted.  “There’s no way I’m letting some stranger get within six feet of me, and certainly not without a mask, until she’s been fully vetted and I’ve had a chance to peruse her medical history and recent contact tracing.”

“You’re a lunatic who’s going to die alone,” she warned with a frustrated sigh.

“Think about it, Holly,” he pleaded.  “You are my closest friend in the world, and the only person I’ve allowed inside my house since March.  Even then, I won’t allow you within six feet of me, I throw cold water on you if you take off your mask when you’re too close, and I won’t let you hug me or even give me a comforting squeeze on the arm.”

short story, flash fiction, relationships, humor, Modern Philosopher“That being said, how the hell am I going to let someone new into my life, and engage in the intimate part of a relationship that I’m missing so badly?  You’re right, I am a lunatic, and I am going to die alone.”

She felt completely helpless.  She so badly wanted to say the right thing and make him feel better, but everything he’d said was the spot on truth.  How do you let someone get close to you during a pandemic when proximity could lead to death?

“Well, the President did promise that the virus was going to just disappear, and he did emphasize the we shouldn’t let it dominate our lives,” she offered.

Aaron stared at her for a moment, and she feared that she’d said the wrong thing.

Then he burst out laughing.

“You always know how to crack me up,” he told her with a chuckle.  “Thanks for letting me vent and feel sorry for myself.  If Trump can make the virus disappear simply by wiling it to be gone, I can find a girlfriend.”

“Miracles do happen,” she added with a smile.

And with that, they went back to their drinks and enjoying the silence.

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CDC Adds Sunday Joyride to Approved Coronavirus Treatments

Coronavirus, Trump, CDC, humor, Modern PhilosopherModern Philosophers, are you tired of waiting around for a Coronavirus vaccine? Are you sick of wearing a mask? Are you done letting the Coronavirus dominate you?

Well, there might finally be some good news for you.

According to the White House, the CDC has officially added “Sunday Joyride” to the list of approved treatments for COVID-19.

Keep in mind that anything coming out of the White House needs to be taken with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to President Trump’s pet project, Coronavirus.

This announcement came in the form of a typed statement, on CDC letterhead, that was emailed to the Press Corps by the White House.

Normally, such important news would be sent out into the world via a press conference that would eventually be hijacked by the President and turned into a rambling, de facto pep/campaign rally.  However, there’s no one healthy enough in the White House to lead a press conference these days.  Plus, no reporter is insane enough to enter the White House for any reason…even if wearing a full HazMat suit.

White House, Trump, CDC, humor, Modern PhilosopherIt was a short statement, that was even shorter on facts. 

It did, however, use a sentence to clarify that the joyride did not actually have to be taken on a Sunday, but was given that title to honor President Trump’s heroic drive around Walter Reed Hospital to greet his supporters during his “recent COVID scare”.

While everything about the announcement seemed fishy, what made members of the Press Corps most suspicious was that the seven-three word press release was signed “The Doctor in Charge of The CDC”.

Apparently, whoever has been left in charge of The White House Propaganda Office during the building’s Coronavirus outbreak was too weak/lazy to Google the name of the person who runs the agency heading up the fight against the pandemic.

No one at the CDC could be reached for comment.  Well, to be completely honest, someone did answer the phone when I called to ask about the announcement, but he never identified himself, and just laughed hysterically at my question before finally hanging up on me.  And, truth be told, I did think I heard a slight bit of crying mixed in with the laughter.

COVID, Trump, CDC, humor, Modern PhilosopherOne White House source, who refused to go on the record, pointed out that President Trump learned a lot about the Coronavirus during his recent hospitalization, and really believes that the drugs he’s taken to fight the virus have given him superpowers to fight the pandemic.

Take a moment to absorb all that.

In totally unrelated news, don’t forgot that Election Day is on November 3…

Posted in Humor, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trump’s Not So Wise Guys

short story, flash fiction, Trump, humor, Modern Philosopher“Do you ever feel like our country is being run by the most inept organized crime family in history?” Aaron asked from where he sat on his side of the running path.

Holly lowered her mask, over on her side of the path, so that he could see her huge smile.

“Oh, I’ve got to hear this,” she replied.  “Lay it out for me, Scorsese.”

“You’re seriously going with Scorsese over Coppola here?” he asked with obvious disapproval in his voice.

“It’s a free country,” she reminded him smugly.  “Even if it is run by organized crime.”

Aaron shrugged, pull down his mask so it hung around his neck, and took a long sip of his Snapple.  Since they were on opposite sides of the path, well more than six feet apart, he considered leaving off his mask.  Then he remembered how paranoid he was about catching the virus, and put his mask back where it belonged.

“The President is in the hospital suffering from the very virus that he said wasn’t that dangerous, would quickly go away, and didn’t require strict masking protocols, and yet the code of silence from his underlings continues,” he explained with a knowing nod.

“That hardly makes our government the Mafia,” Holly countered.

short story, flash fiction, Trump, humor, Modern PhilosopherShe knew there had to be more to his argument, but she was also aware she’d get it out of him in a more animated and entertaining manner if she pretended his thesis was flawed.

“Give a guy a chance to build up to the good stuff,” he scolded.

“Hey, this is a park bench on a chilly Autumn morning, not your bedroom on one of the rare occasions you get a woman in there,” she taunted.  “Cut to the chase.”

Aaron smiled at the comeback, and was glad that his mask kept his best friend from seeing that reaction.  She didn’t deserve the satisfaction for mocking his non-existent dating life.

“Everything Trump and his cronies do is like a crime family,” he insisted.  “They’re only out for themselves, they deal with some particularly shady characters, laws are constantly being broken, there’s lots of strong arming and intimidating going on, and everything is kept secret.”

“Don’t forget the rampant sexism and racism,” she added after she took a sip of her coffee to warm up.

“Plus you got that whole concept of people really adoring them despite all the bad things they do,” he continued.  “Just like in the mob movies.  The people turn a blind eye to the violence and the lawbreaking just as long as they keep the neighborhood safe, and pay to keep the playgrounds open for the kids.”

“And whenever someone pisses off the Don, who is conveniently named Don, that person gets whacked from the family.  Only instead of being killed, they’re banished from the White House, and the family members act like they are dead to them.”

Holly nodded like this was all beginning to make sense.

“You could also say that when someone manages to get out, they end up turning state’s evidence against the family,” she theorized.  “Except in this case, instead of testifying in court against Don Trump and his associates, they write a tell all book about all the horrible things they witnessed as part of the family.”

short story, flash fiction, Trump, humor, Modern Philosopher“And maybe like Al Capone, Trump will finally be taken down because of his taxes,” Aaron threw in excitedly.  “Even though Eliot Ness isn’t still around to lead him off in handcuffs, maybe they could get Kevin Costner to do it.”

“For all Trump knows, Costner is Ness,” Holly quipped and they both laughed.

“So my theory is pretty much on the money, don’t you agree?” he asked.

“Definitely,” she agreed with a shake of the head.  “So much so, that I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.  Vote on Election Day, and let’s get these not so wise guys out of the White House.”

Under his mask, Aaron smiled slyly.  Making her watch all those movies over the years had finally paid off…

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The Week That Wasn’t

blogging, Modern PhilosopherThis was a very confusing and stressful week, Modern Philosophers.

I’ve made it a point to not watch the news anymore, but I’ve had CNN and MSNBC on all day to keep tabs on what is going on with the President and his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Generally, I get my news from Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers, but neither of them had a new show last night.  So I’ve had to resort to listening to the real newscasters deliver their bleak outlook on the world without jokes or funny voices.

It’s a bit difficult to swallow.

Thankfully, I’ve had plenty of Snapple to wash it down.

I know some of you are itching for me to write a post about Trump and his coming down with Coronavirus, but the nuns raised me not to kick a man when he’s down.

Plus, it’s just bad juju to mess with karma.  I don’t want anything bad to happen to me, so I’m going to steer clear of trying to make humor out of such a serious situation.

I will, however, deflect from the seriousness of the situation with some writing.  That’s always been my escape, and I think it’s time to jettison the escape pod to get the hell aware from the dumpster fire that is the world outside The House on the Hill.

distractions, escapeI went for a long run this morning when I realized that watching the news wasn’t going to get me anywhere other than depressed and despondent.  I needed to get outside and feel alive.  If I could sweat a little and get my heart pumping, at the very least, I wouldn’t feel as guilty about eating the waffles and sausages I had planned for breakfast.

Plus, running has always been my escape from the perils of the pandemic.  I keep telling myself that the best way to fend off a virus that attacks the respiratory system is to get my heart and lungs into great shape.

It really looked gorgeous out on the road.  Yes, I passed a plethora of political signs along my route, but I put all thoughts of the election out of my mind.

Instead, I focused on the beautiful colors all around me.  Maine does look pretty snazzy once the leaves begin to turn.

Maine, fall foliage, Modern PhilosopherThis morning, the trees weren’t yet in full Fall Foliage mode, but they were definitely on their way.

I kept myself further distracted by thinking about the Yankees’ big playoff win this week.

My beloved Bronx Bombers swept the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the playoffs to advance to the next round against the Tampa Bay Rays.  And the clincher was a real classic as they fell behind 4-0 in the first inning, and then scored 2 in the top of the ninth to win 10-9.

Since the Red Sox really sucked this year, the Rays have become the Yanks’ new rival in the division.  The team from Tampa kicked the Yankees’ butts during the regular season, but I’m hoping things change in the ALDS.

Because of the Coronavirus, these games will be played in San Diego without any fans in attendance.  This might actually benefit the Yankees because Tampa Bay’s ugly dome has been a house of horrors for them this year.

Maybe playing in sunny Southern California will give the Bombers a much needed psychological edge since they probably feel like they can’t win in dreary Tampa.

Maine, life, Modern PhilosopherI also got through this week by reaching out to a friend from my past.  I looked up someone who I was very close to at my first job after college, but haven’t seen since I left New York.

It has been cool catching up and reconnecting as we talk about the good old days.

Of course, any kind of reminiscing like that is going to get me questioning if I made some stupid life decisions in my twenties.  But I already know I did, so I guess all this did was drive home that point.

On the plus side, it has given me the motivation to get to work on my time machine again.  That project had basically come to a halt because it’s been next to impossible to get parts during the pandemic.  Plus, all the scientists that I pump for information on my time travel calculations have been so busy trying to either come up with a vaccine, or building their own time machine to get the hell out of 2020.

I’ve wasted part of my afternoon trying to figure out how the hell to use this new editor on WordPress.  I’ve started and deleted about half a dozen posts because I couldn’t insert photos and make the text look right.

Big shout out to my blogger buddy Bill, who saw my frustrated tweet about the changes to WordPress, and told me how to get back to the classic editor.

blogging, humor, Modern PhilosopherI don’t like change.  I hate it.  Thanks, Bill, for saving my blog because I was about to pull the plug on it.

Lastly, I got through the day by trying a different take on the blog.  I have a friend who enjoys my reading to her.  So I made a recording of my favorite short story on the blog.

What would you guys think of the occasional post that was a recording of me telling you a story, rather than my typing it up as a blog post?  Let me know if there would be any interest in that because that could be a way to inject some new life into this.

Hope you’re all well.  I know it’s been a rough week for me…

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Socially…Awkward!

flash fiction, short story, socially awkward, humor, Modern Philosopher“Do you want to hear something crazy?” Aaron asked from where he was seated at the far end of the bench on his side of the running path.

“Of course,” Holly yelled back from her side of the path.  “I grow deeply concerned when you only tell me about sane things.”

Aaron smiled, but Holly couldn’t see it because of his mask.  She could probably tell, however, because his eyes got all squinty when he smiled.

“Someone told me I was socially awkward like it was an insult,” he informed her.

“Then this person clearly didn’t know you,” she replied without hesitation.  “Obviously socially awkward is on brand for you.”

He nodded in agreement.  “I thanked her emphatically for the compliment, asked her if she’d like to grab a socially distanced Snapple some time, and then got the hell out of there before she breathed on me any further, or embarrassed me with more kind words.”

Holly snorted.  Then she pulled down her mask to take a sip of her coffee.

“Look at you making new friends.  Should I be jealous that my lofty position as best friend might be in jeopardy?”

flash fiction, short story, socially awkward, humor, Modern Philosopher“I know you’re poking fun, but it does bother me that people find the need to point out that I’m socially awkward,” he grumbled and let out a deep sigh that filled his mask with his frustrated breath.  “Do they think I’m not aware of it?  And what do they get out of giving me an unsolicited diagnosis?”

Holly shrugged.  She didn’t like seeing him upset like this, and she was well aware that his already shaky self-confidence took a hit anytime someone picked at this particular wound.

“Some people need the ego boost of kicking a guy below the belt,” she explained delicately.  “It’s like the only way they can feel good about themselves is by making other people feel miserable.”

“I’d rather be socially awkward than socially demeaning,” Aaron growled and then washed the bad taste out of his mouth with a long sip of Snapple.  “I’m not contagious, and it’s not like I’m going out of my way to interact and expose others to my horrible interpersonal skills.  Losers like her, though, seek out innocent targets to assault with their words without wisdom.”

“The world can be a miserable place,” she did her best to console him from across the way in a world where personal contact was not only frowned upon, but could also be seen as an act of aggression.  “I think you’re perfect just the way you are.”

“You only say that because I pay you extremely well to hang out with me and claim to be my best hand,” he waved off her kind words.

Holly shook her head and sipped her coffee.

flash fiction, short story, socially awkward, humor, Modern Philosopher“People told me I was stupid for signing such a long contract with you,” she played along because she was so good at it, “but not only have I made a ton of money off this arrangement, but I’ve also learned that socially awkward people deserve to be treated just like normal folk.  You’ve opened my heart and mind to so much!”

Aaron flipped her the bird with his free hand, and Holly laughed hysterically.  He really did adore her, and he sometimes wondered how she managed to put up with him when everyone else was so put off by him.

But he’d learned a long time ago not to waste precious brain cells trying to figure out the unpredictable behaviors of those with whom he was forced to share the world.

He was socially awkward and one of the coolest people he’d ever met chose to spend a good deal of time with him.  Maybe more people needed to be like him…

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Stress: The Final Frontier

Star Trek, stress, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe movie Alien taught me many things, Modern Philosophers, but one of my most important takeaways was that in space, no one can hear you scream.

I’ve often wondered if the same is true about stress and space.

Would anyone be able to tell if I was stressed out of my gourd?  Would the lack of gravity somehow also mean a lack of stress?

I always hoped they would tackle that question in the sequels, but all I really learned from those is to NEVER mess with Sigourney Weaver.

The reason I’m sharing these Deep Thoughts today is because it’s been a stressful weekend.  There was an issue with the house on Friday that bothered me all day, and didn’t get resolved until Friday night when several of my neighbors came over to help me conquer it with tool boxes and a little ingenuity.

Even though we tackled that, it’s been on my mind all weekend as I keep worrying that our fix wasn’t permanent.

In other words, I really let things get to me.  Once something fails, I’m constantly worried that it’s going to happen again.  Because my pipes froze one winter, I totally freak out that they’re going to freeze again anytime the temperature gets below zero.  Because a ton of snow and ice on the roof caused a leak in the bathroom ceiling one winter, I repeatedly check the bathroom ceiling for leaks anytime it snows.

Alien, stress, humor, Modern PhilosopherIt’s a never ending cycle of stress, and it’s truly exhausting.  It makes me want to hop in a spaceship, blast off into space where no one can hear me, and just scream until I get it all out of my system.

Sadly, I do not have access to any form of space travel.  In addition, space travel would probably stress me out beyond anything that’s ever freaked me out on Earth.

This morning, I woke up to a cold house.  It was 32 degrees outside, despite the fact that the calendar says it’s still Summer, so I turned on the heat for the first time.

All was well until one of the upstairs smoke alarms started screeching.  Side Deep Thought: In space can you hear smoke detectors screech?

I ran upstairs.  Nothing was on fire.  There was no smoke.  Everything seemed fine.  I took the battery out of the smoke alarm and silence returned.  None of the other smoke detectors went off, but that did nothing to lessen my stress.

So now a million thoughts are running through my head.  Why did it go off?  Is there something wrong with the furnace? Am I going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning in my sleep? Is the house going to burn down any time I turn on the heat?  The guy just serviced the furnace, so is this somehow related?  Is the smoke detector just too old, as none of the new ones sounded?

As you can imagine, being inside my head is no fun.  I can’t stop thinking about the smoke detector issue, even though the battery is out so it can’t screech again.

running, therapy, stress, humor, Modern PhilosopherI went for a run to clear my head, but all I could do was worry about why the alarm went off.  I went so far as to text a friend about it while on my run because I couldn’t focus on the activity that was supposed to take my mind off what was stressing me.

Part of what affects me the most in all this is having to deal with these annoying issues on my own.

While I don’t miss being married, I do miss having a partner to help me make decisions, to talk me down when my stress levels skyrocket, and to take on some of the stress burden.

Sometimes, I just need someone to talk a little sense into me.  There’s a good chance that turning on the heat for the first time set off the smoke detector because a Summer’s worth of dust, or some oil left behind by the service appointment, was burning off.

But since there’s no one here to interject some common sense into the equation, the inmate with the overactive imagination is running the asylum.

I’d like to be able to learn from my mistakes so that I don’t make them again, but I seem determined to dwell on them and fear that I will repeat them for all eternity.

stress, humor, Modern PhilosopherIt’s a heavy burden to bear, and one that’s getting heavier over the years.  I know I’m not normal in the way I handle stress, and while I know accepting what’s wrong with me is half the battle, I keep getting slain by this issue on the battlefield.

Writing this post has helped, as sending a problem out into the interwebs often clears it from my mind.

If anyone has some Deep Thoughts on conquering stress, I’d love to hear them.  Or if you know someone who’d like to be my partner in crime and shoulder some of the stress burden, that would be even better…

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How Would President Snow Handle The Coronavirus?

President Snow, The Hunger Games, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’ve been reading Suzanne Collins’ prequel to The Hunger Games, Modern Philosophers, and the book really has the Deep Thoughts flowing.

The novel follows the life of a young Coriolanus Snow during the tenth Hunger Games.  Remarkable, the author manages to make the evil protagonist of the series seem sympathetic.  So clearly, it was the power of the Presidency that turned him into the worst possible version of himself.

Or maybe he was just a horrible human being all along, and it only became obvious once he was in the spotlight as the most power man in the country.

It got me to wondering how President Snow would have handled the Coronavirus.  After all, President Trump seems to adore tyrranical world leaders, and it would be intriguing to see if the two men would approach the crisis in a similar manner.

I bet if one of The Hunger Games movies was playing on a White House TV, Trump would sit down and watch it, totally mesmerized, believing it to be the offical State TV feed from Panem.  He’d then order his staff to arrange a meeting with President Snow, and wouldn’t relent until poor Donald Sutherland was brought to the Oval Office to explain that he’s not really the leader of America in the dystopian future.

Trump, President Snow, The Hunger Games, humor, Modern PhilosopherOh the tweet storm Trump would unleash after that fiasco!  He’d blame the fake news for making him believe Panem was a real country, but not until after he spent a night musing over the pros of holding his own version of The Hunger Games to teach those protestors in the Blue States who was really boss!  I bet Stephen Miller already has the blueprint for the arena on his laptop.

But I digress.  Back to President Snow and how he would handle the Coronavirus.

Coriolanus Snow does not mess around with anything that could interfere with his iron grip on power.  He would see the virus as a threat, a cause the Districts could unite behind and use as another excuse to rise up against the Capitol.

As a result, he would enforce mask wearing and social distancing laws to such an extreme extent that the punishment for not complying would be death.  After all, if the people in the Districts die, it cuts into his work force.  The Capitol needs the Districts to provide its residents with everything needed to lead the luxurious lives to which they are accustomed.

While the people in the Capitol would muse that it didn’t matter if the virus spread through the Districts and wiped out the entire population, Snow would know better.  He’d make sure every person in the Disctricts had an ample supply of masks, and he’d see to it that they were worn.  There would be no social gatherings other than to work.

Panem, The Hunger Games, poitics, humor, Modern PhilosopherSnow might be lax in enforcing the mask mandate in the Capitol, though.  While he would make sure that everyone around him was safe, so that he did not become infected, he might not mind if other members of Panem’s elite succombed to the virus.

He’d see those deaths as lessening the threats to his power, and more enemies eliminated without the need to be poisoned.  That’s less work for him and more time to tend to his rose garden, or to dream up ways to make Katniss’ life miserable.

Hell, he might even find a way to work the virus into The Hunger Games to keep them exciting and topical.  Knowing his twisted mind, he’d order the Head Gamemaker to test various Coronavirus vaccines on the tributes during the games.

And to make it seem like he was an adoring leader, perhaps Snow would promise the vaccine would be distributed first to the citizens living in the District of that year’s Hunger Games victor.  What better way to get the entire country interested in the Games?

Do I think President Snow would wear a mask?  Yes, I do because he wants to live and would understand the science behind the virus.  Besides, no one would dare refer to the leader of Panem as weak for wearing one.

The Hunger Games, President Snow, pandemic, Modern PhilosopherUnlike, Trump, Snow is not insecure in how the world sees him.  He would kill anyone who questioned his decision to wear a mask, and everyone in the Capitol would try to outdo each other to wear the most lavish mask in order to show their unwavering support for the President.

Snow understands the power of science, and uses it to create mutant weapons to destroy those who oppose him.  He certainly would trust his version of the CDC if its scientists told him how deadly the virus was.

As for playing down panic, Snow thrives on panic and fear.  He’s want the people of Panem to know that the Coronavirus would kill them all if he didn’t take steps to protect them.

I do believe the manipulative Snow, knowing full well that the virus was not created in a lab, would blame its creation on the rebels in the Districts, and then use it as an excuse to lash out and punish them as he saw fit.

Of course, I wouldn’t put it past Snow that the Coronavirus was created in a lab in the Capitol to be used against his enemies (both in the Capitol and the Districts).

What I am certain of, however, is that if the Coronavirus hit Panem, President Snow would very quickly have things under control.  “Under control” could mean any number of things depending on how he wanted to use the pandemic to ehance his power, eliminate his enemies, align the country behind him, and further disenfranchise the Districts.

President Snow, The Hunger Games, Coronavirus, humor, Modern PhilosopherCoriolanus Snow would be swift and deliberate in his actions.  Masks would be worn.  Social distancing would be enforced.  The Hunger Games would still go on with an audience in the stands if he deemed that should be an added feature.

President Snow might not be real, but his handling of the pandemic would prove he is more of a leader than our actual President could ever hope to be.

Do you think President Snow would handle the pandemic better than President Trump has?

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