Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: Short Story


With Christmas right around the corner I felt like changing the atmosphere here.
I got red and gold balls.
I got snow.
I even have ‘Merry Christmas’ in the header.
Something Christmas.
I found this video floating around on youtube.
I found it interesting for a variety of reasons.
Santa is not the only Whitelighter.
Leo on Charmed was an awesome Whitelighter. Yes?
But the greatest Whitelighter?
I have a favorite.
This video has echoes of the Polar Express in many ways but subtly veers off on a
tangent all its own.
Check it out.
It’s short but sweet.
Draw your own conclusions.
Lord knows, I have mine.
Mine is the best.

The October Game

It is that time of year.
This short story by Ray Bradbury was written in 1948.
Oddly enough, it seems like something you would see gracing the front pages of today’s morning paper.
I’ve decided to re-post this perennial favorite simply because it is horrifying.
Just to warn you, it’s a fairly gruesome tale.
Bradbury was so far ahead of his time.
If you haven’t read The October Game and would like to,
click on the picture above.
(or HERE)

Ghost in Love

This post is approximately 5 years in the making . . .
I’ve been an avid fan of writer Jonathan Carroll for the better part of ten years and have read almost everything the man has written. Although he’s relatively unknown in some literary circles he possesses an almost cult following for many readers, like me.
It was January 10, 2004 (my birthday) that I happened to find a rare book by Carroll floating about on Ebay.
It was called ‘The Panic Hand’, a collection of short fiction.
The item on Ebay was listed as ‘first edition, hardback, excellent condition’.
For whatever the reason, I had to have this book.
If you’re a reader, you understand the desire and obsession.
I began bidding and got into a war with someone that wanted the book almost as much as I did.
As I said, almost.
I was working that night and gave my wife instructions to place a bid of $60.00 about 30 seconds before the auction ended. If the book was destined to be mine, then so be it.
I ended up winning the auction and the book was mine.
I’m looking at it as I type this.
‘The Panic Hand’ has some of the best short fiction I think I’ve ever read especially a story called, ‘The Sadness of Detail’, my personal favorite.
Seeing that it was a first edition book, I wanted to have it signed and began looking for the next time Carroll would be in the states.
Sadly, I came up empty-handed and sent him an email inquiring about his schedule (and the fact that I had just purchased a first edition of said book and would love to have it signed).
To my surprise, I received a reply back from him that same afternoon.
He thanked me for writing and said that he didn’t get over to ‘this side of the pond’ too often seeing that he lives in Austria but suggested I keep an eye on his website for future visits.
In my email, I also mentioned how much I loved his story, ‘The Sadness of Detail’ asking where the inspiration came from. He wrote that the story was a ‘very old friend’ and one of his favorites but the inspiration for it escaped him at that time . . . but that he would be happy to sign the book should we ever meet.
Well, folks, next Tuesday night I’ll be going to Cambridge to the incredible Harvard Bookstore to listen to Carroll read from his new book, ‘The Ghost in Love’.
He’s doing a short Q&A session and a signing after that.
And yes, I plan on asking him about how he deals with ‘Writer’s Block’.
I will happily buy a copy of his new book and have it signed and hopefully be able to tell him just how much he’s inspired me in my own writing, although I write in a very different genre.
Then I will plead with him ask him to sign ‘The Panic Hand’ and hope he smiles.
Judging from the tone in his email, I should be one damn happy writer this time next Tuesday night.
Look for a follow up post.
If you haven’t read anything by this brilliant man, at least visit your local library and take something out.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Don’t sound too excited, do I?

Lit meme

This was a great meme I saw posted at Interstellar Adventures.
I’m a bit ashamed I haven’t read more of these.
I also feel that Raymond Carver, Ray Bradbury, Russell Banks and Tobias Wolff (for starters) should have been included.
That being said here’s my whimpy list.

Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read
*Italicize the ones you want to read
*Leave the ones that you aren’t interested in alone.

1.The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2.Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3.To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) (alright, slap me for this one)
4.Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5.The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6.The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7.The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10.A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12.Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21.The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22.The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23.Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26.The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) (Gone way too soon)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck) (I love Steinbeck, cryptic as he is)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32.The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) (AKA, the story of my mom and dad. mucho tears)
33.Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34.1984 (Orwell) (Slap me again)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)(Lamb is totally underrated)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40.The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)(Too sappy for me)
45. Bible (parts only)(The book of Job)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47.The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48.Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49.The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50.She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51.The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54.Great Expectations (Dickens)
55.The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62.The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73.Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75.The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78.The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100.Ulysses (James Joyce)

I’m pathetic.


Bad Day


There was a story I used to like to read to my girls when they were small.
It was called, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”.
The story chronicled a day in the life of a little boy named Alexander.
As you may have already figured out, he was experiencing a really rotten day.
He would say to his mother, “This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I think I’ll move to Australia.”

I tell you this for one very simple reason; I can really relate to Alexander today.
Though I can’t figure out exactly when the day entered the ‘suck zone’.
I’ll just say that it did and there was nothing I could do about it.
As adults, we put up with so much Rhinoshit (much larger and exceedingly rank than the traditional bullshit) in our daily lives that I am amazed that more of us aren’t in strait jackets boned up on Oxycontin and drooling at the mouth.
Ah, better living through pharmaceuticals, yes?

It’s a wonder people don’t ‘snap’ more than they already do.
From an angst-filled ride to work and numerous automated phone solicitations (Viva! Las Vegas!) to a bad night’s sleep and a poorly made cup of coffee, our little brains are constantly invaded by a perpetual wave of negativity that has a cumulative effect on the brain—well, my brain anyway.

I’m cynical by nature and have always seen the glass as half empty; it’s just my internal nuts and bolts, I guess. I chalk it up to my “creativity issues“.

I hear you say, “Oh, Michael, you’ve got to be more positive.”

It’s hard, if not impossible, to feel positive when you just feel invisible.
Nothing seems to matter.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s Friday the 13th and my bio-rhythms have gone on vacation to Rio.

I’ll end up like I always do waiting the day out like a bad haircut and go to bed hoping that tomorrow things will look better.
And maybe they will…

At the end of Alexander’s story he finds himself at the end of his rope and says one more time to his mother, “I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and no one seems to care. I think I’ll move to Australia.”

His mother gives him a hug and says, “Somedays are like that…even in Australia.”

Sounds like a smart lady to me.


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