Archive for August, 2007

Happy Independance Day Tobago!!!

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I feel so embarassed, every year I promise myself that I’m going to remember Tobago Independance day, but every year I forget to send them a card. This year was no exception.

I felt bad enough about it, but when I was researching Tobago on the web, I realized that they don’t even have a national anthem with which to honor their Independance Day.

To kill two birds with one stone, in honor of T.I.D., I have written them a National Anthem. I call it “Oh Tobago”

Oh Tobago! Tobago!

We so proudly sing your name!

Though you were found many years ago

You’re still basically the same.


Your nearest neighbor’s Trinidad

Down in the Caribbean Sea

You may get a great deal of rainfall

But that’s OK by me!


Your chief export is coral

Even though nobody cares

You may have your share of troubles

But you don’t have to worry about bears.


Oh, Tobago! Tobago!

Let’s raise our voices and sing!
While other countries all start wars

That’s not your kind of thing!


Your Chief Secretary’s Orville London

A noble man and true!

Of all the island nations

Tobago we love you!


Oh Tobago! Tobago!

We so proudly sing your name!

No matter how much time passes
We hope you’ll stay the same!

This Week’s Word: Alphabets

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Alphabets is a hard word to write about. I came up with a unique solution. Its not a perfect solution, but its as close as I’m going to come, I think. It was fun to write and let me explore the genre of crime noir, which I have always liked. That being said, settle down now for…

The Case of the Missing Heir
A Dick Lamont Mystery

Part 1

A cool breeze blew across the city. It was the first cool air people had felt all summer. You could judge its effects all over town. On the upper west side, people, trapped in their air conditioned rooms for the last two months actually poked their heads outside, you could see some of them heading down to the park for a stroll or a picnic lunch.

But down south, past the dye works, the people weren’t so lucky. The breeze died out before it got to them, like so many other promises made by the city – it was good for the folks with money, but tended to run out of steam when it got down to the less privileged.

Come around my neighborhood, you won’t see the privileged few, guys in three piece suits being driven to their brokerage firms. My upstairs neighbor is a retired prize fighter, took one too many blows to the head, now he works as a pipe fitter. Next door, there’s a lady who makes a good living being “friendly” to people, if you know what I mean. Most people from uptown wouldn’t be caught dead coming to my office, but, apparently, the woman sitting across from me was different. That’s the thing about being a private detective, people may not invite you to the posh parties, but they’re always glad to see you when the chips are down.

“Doll” wouldn’t even begin to describe her. Her name was Roberta Greenmount and she was quality all the way from her custom tailor suit-dress all the was down to her silk stockings and direct-from-Paris heels. She sat across the desk from me, looking me over like I was something she found in her toilet. I didn’t mind, though. You don’t hire a private eye for his looks, you hire him for results, and I was the best in the business.

“Everyone else has told me its nothing,” she said, “but I know something’s wrong. Deep down, I can tell,” her voice choked a bit, as she spoke. She was either sincere, or a better actress than Helen Hayes. I was voting for sincere.

“Freddy’s been missing for longer than this before,” she went on, after staunch a few sniffles on a handkerchief, “He’s a bit of a wild child. Father always insisted on spoiling him when he was younger. Freddy has a self-destructive streak. There are binges, you know, women, gambling, even some drugs, but deep down…deep down he’s a….” she started sobbing.

“Good kid,” I finished for her. She nodded.

How do you tell somebody that their brother is a louse? I’d given up trying. They could have stolen the family silver, hocked grandma’s wedding ring and spent the whole was on booze and hookers, but he’s still a “good kid” deep down, underneath. It always seemed to be the sisters that came after them too. Families are funny that way.

“I get $150 a day plus expenses,” I said to her. I tried to be gruff, but when I said it she broke into a million dollar smile. After a smile like that, I would have done the case for nothing.

“Just so we’re clear,” I say to her, to try to bring us both back down to Earth, “I get my money no matter what. Even if he’s been killed, arrested or what have you. You get me?”

“K-killed? Oh, Mr. Lamont, you don’t think….”

“Look at it from my position,” I say, “You say your brother has been missing for a week. You tell me he gets wild, goes on binges. A man like that can make a lot of enemies.” I’m trying to prepare her for the worst, but I guess, I’m too much of a gentleman, because I smile and try to soften the pill a little bit, “Of course, that’s probably not what happened, but you have to be prepared for anything.”

“My word’s my bond, Mr Lamont,” she says, the determined look on her face just makes me fall in love with her that much more, “You’ll be paid no matter what.” She reaches across the desk to give me her hand.

“Nice to have an understanding,” I say, shaking her hand, “Now when did you last see your brother?”

“Our family owns a ranch, about ten miles outside of town. Freddy has a room there, he usually stays there when he’s on the outs with father – which is most of the time,” she adds with a smile, “I saw him when I stopped by there last Sunday. I can take you out there, if you like.”

“Probably as good a place to start as any,” I say with a shrug, and I get up and grab my hat.

“Quite a place,” I say to Roberta, when we get to to the ranch.

“Really, Mr Lamont, you flatter us,” she says, flashing me another award winning smile, “Its just a ranch house.”

“Sure,” I say, because I don’t want to embarrass her, but most people on the south side would have called her simple little “ranch house” a mansion. Then there was the land, it was on a twenty acres lot if it was on an inch. Money is a funny thing. A guy might get a $20 bonus in his paycheck and flaunt it like he was the King of Egypt. Other people might be rich as Creosus, but actually seemed embarassed by it. Roberta was definitely one of those.

The inside of the house was dark and musty. I could tell nobody lived here on a permanent, at least for very long. We walked into the den. On one wall was a TV set that was bigger than my entire office. There was a door to the left that looked like it opened into some kind of office. There was a staircase that led to the second floor.

Up the steps I could here the sound of water running. Roberta told me that it was probably Zachariah. She didn’t call him such he sounded like the old family retainer. They let him live here, in exchange for him taking care of the house and grounds. Sounded like a good deal to me.

“Vera, my little sister, doesn’t like this place much,” said Roberta, “Mostly its just Freddy and my father who come out here, and father just comes out to do work for the environmental group he chairs.”

While she’s talking, I take a stroll into her dad’s office.

Xeroxes were stacked all around the room. There’s a small copier in the corner. They’re the cheap kind of fliers that you see hippies hand out at Anti-Nuke rallies. They all seem to be protesting something called the Cedar Hill Development Group.

“You wouldn’t think to look at him,” said Roberta, “But my father is quite the activist.” The pride she feels is obvious in her voice, “I remember, once…” but the words die in her throat, and instead of singing some more of her old man’s praises, she screams, and points to a dark figure in the corner of the room. For a minute, I thought it was a pile of laundry, but it was too wet, too shiny.

“Zachariah!” Roberta screams, “He’s been murdered!”

To be continued (or not)…..


Friday, August 17th, 2007

Illustration Friday’s word for this week (well last week, sorry, I was feeling poorly) is “emergency.” This naturally suggested a topic which is near and dear to my heart, namely, total effing paranoia and blind terror about almost every aspect of life. Hope you enjoy it!

State of Emergency

Have you ever lost a sock when you wash a load of clothes?
It almost always seems to happen, doesn’t it? You wash a load of clothes and you wind up short by one sock. Where does it go? Most people think they just fall down behind the washer, but that can’t be what happens, because you lose so many socks, that if they were all behind the washer, you’d have noticed by now. You’d have seen them stick out from behind the washer, and that would be that.
It must mean that someone is stealing the socks. I believe that they are being stolen for “nefareous purposes.” Most people don’t seem bothered by this. They don’t seem to care about someone breaking into their homes and stealing articles of clothing from them. I called 9-1-1 about it, but they said not to worry, that everybody loses socks. I think that’s precisely why we should worry about it. They could be stealing our socks to use in some strange Voodoo ritual. Or, perhaps they want to harvest skin cells from out of the socks, to make clones of all of us. It could even be something more unpleasent than that. There are all sorts of nasty things living on people’s feet.
Did you know that there are over a million tiny organisms living on your body? That’s another thing people don’t seem to be worried about.
There are millions of microscopic creatures living all over your body. From dust mites and bacteria, all the way up to tiny little parasites, invisible to the naked eye, they are all living on you, feeding on you, slowly eating you away, bit by bit. It doesn’t matter how much you wash, either, you’re just clearing the way for new things to move in. You can’t get rid of them, believe me, I tired. It makes me all itchy, just thinking about them.
I called 9-1-1 about it. I told the operator there were millions of tiny organisms living all over me, eating me away. She told me that wasn’t a real emergency. I told her, it may not seem like a real emergency to her, but if being slowly eaten away by a million microscopic organisms wasn’t an emergency, then I’d like to know what was. She said something very rude and then hung up.
I think that they are hiring ruder telephone operators than they used to. It concerns me. I called up 9-1-1 to report it, but they did not wish to discuss it. That made me quite angry. Suppose a man’s head exploded, I asked them, and he called up 9-1-1 to ask for an ambulance, and they were rude to him. That man would be denied important life-saving treatment, I told them. It wasn’t any good, though, the operator wouldn’t listen to me. She sounded like a very “nefarious” sort of person. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was in league with the sock thieves. I was so insulted, that I almost didn’t call them back to warn them about the air.
Over the last one-hundred years, through the use of the internal-combustion engine, we human beings have so poisoned the environment that the air we breathe is practically poisonous. You can see it in photographs of big cities in the summer-time, a nasty brown layer of smog hanging over the cities. That’s the air that people breathe and its practically toxic! I felt that it was my duty to warn someone. The 9-1-1 operator didn’t seem to agree with me, though.
Walk down the street of any big city. Not only is the air unsafe to breathe, and the water unsafe to drink, but there are people who actually try to hurt you. There are people with guns and knives waiting to rob you. The 9-1-1 operator says that people like that aren’t everywhere, but that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? If you knew where they were, you could avoid them, but they could be anywhere. Nasty, evil people looking to rob you or do Lord knows what could be lurking around every corner. I just felt that people should be told about it, that’s all, they go about their lives not seeming to notice at all. I’ve seen people walking down the street laughing – they actually laughed, even though large unpleasent men with guns could be waiting for them around every corner. The 9-1-1 operator warned me that if I kept calling, she would have me arrested.
There are dangers everywhere you look. If you get in the car to drive somewhere, it could explode, or swerve and crash into a truck. If you walk down the street, you could be mugged, or there could be a gas-line explosion, or anything. Why can’t people understand how dangerous things are. Life is so good, life is so sweet, why aren’t people more worried about losing it!
That got me thinking about people. It doesn’t seem right that people aren’t more worried about the hazards all around them, so I started thinking, what if they weren’t really people? What if they were clones made from all the stolen socks. What if they were sent to this planet off all the real people, by poisoning the air, and attacking them in the street and putting millions of microscopic organisms all over their bodies. What if the real people were the ones who were still worried about things like that?
I was very upset. If alien clones had invaded the Earth, I felt that somebody ought to know. So I called 9-1-1.
That was when the police came. At first I was happy, at first I thought, “Ah ha! About time they finally did something!” All they did, though, was to put me in a hospital. I know they must think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I’m just concerned. Its not so bad in here, though. There’s a guard at my door, to protect me in case anyone should try and break in. There’s foam padding on all the walls, which is there to cushion me in case I fall over. They have me in a harness, too, which they say is to prevent me from hurting myself. I don’t think that I ever would hurt myself, but better safe than sorry, I suppose.
For a while, I felt really happy, because, after all those years of worry, I finally felt safe. Then I got to thinking, all these things wouldn’t protect me if the ceiling caved in. Its funny, isn’t it, how no one ever thought of that before. We all just go about our lives blithely walking into buildings, without worrying that the ceilings might cave in on us. People should be warned, I’m surprised that no one thought of it before.
I wonder who I can tell?

French Teen Posts His Own Translation of Harry Potter, Is Arrested

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

OK, if you haven’t heard about this yet, here’s the story

The short form is that a high school kid from France, impatient that the French translation of Harry Potter won’t be released until October decided to do his own translation of the first three chapters, and post them on his web-site. Shortly after he did this, the police came and arrested him for copyright violation.

Now, I love the Harry Potter books. I think J.K. Rowling is richly deserving of every success she has had heaped upon her — but come on. Defending a copyright is one thing, but I think it should stop short of sending impatient teenagers to jail. For one thing, he seems to be a much more able translator than the one who was officially hired — he certainly seems to work faster. Perhaps Scholastic should have offered him a job (or maybe just sent him a nasty letter telling him to take his translation down) before siccing the gendarmes on him.

Now, as a fan, I certainly respect the rights of fans not to receive any spoilers before reading the book. Ms Rowling herself feels so strongly about this that she waited until several days after the book was published before going on national television and revealing spoilers. Still, perhaps I am an anarchist at heart, but I really don’t think that Harry Potter sales are going to plummet in France just because of this kid’s website — or, at least, not to the extent that the kid should be arrested for his enthusiasm over this series.

Maybe the folks at Scholastic never had to take a foreign language in High School, but I can guarantee that a High School language student’s translation of ANYTHING will not affect sales of a professionally published translation. I translated an essay or two during my tenure in High School and if they ever resembled, either in meaning or in spirit, the original work, it was a quirk of fate so far-fetched that it could be considered a miracle.

By way of demonstrating this, I would like to present a brief excerpt of how I believe this French teen’s translation would read if it were translated back into English. I would like to stress that I am making this up entirely. Nothing I write is based on the new Harry Potter book, its illicit translation, or anything else. There are no spoilers/copyright infringements here. Please, please do not arrest me.


Harry the Jar-Maker and the Halls of Death

It was to be a day of great auspiciousness/lucky joy for Harry the Jar-Maker. For being today the day of the anniversary of his being born.

“May luck shine down upon you,” was saying the friend Hermione of Harry, “You are greatly to be forunate.”

“Indeed,” quoted friend Ron, “much happiness be with you on today.”

“Yes,” was saying Harry, “Thanks are given to you he she. If only fears (or possibly dreads/longing) of Voldemort were not being present. I long that he does not take a life of perhaps ours.”

“Do not worry of this?” declaimed friend Ron with laughter, “Is it not so? Will we need him now? Enjoy of the Bertram Boat’s Multi-Flavored Legumes which is being my surprise towards you.”

And Harry did this but it was the flavor of ear-candles. The multitude of friends gave great laughter


And on, and on, and on…Scholastic has nothing to worry about.

Illustration Friday: Well, wait and see…

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

I’m not telling what the Illustration Friday word of the week is this week, since it will ruin the end of my story. I will say that this week’s word is the last word in my story. Of course, if you came here from the Illustration Friday website, then my vain bid at secrecy is useless, but oh well, them’s the breaks.

My offering for this week is a gripping drama which I have entitled “No Stone Unturned”. Enjoy


No Stone Unturned

It had all come down to this…
    Dr. Merkatur sipped his brandy while the great white persian cat purred contentedly on his lap. To think, he had been so close, so many times before without success.
    In Marekesh he would have captured him, if it hadn’t been for that freak rainstorm. In Hong Kong he was within a hair’s breadth of capturing the infuriating man, but he had escaped, as always, with a wry remark and a curt nod of the head. In Bangladesh, the story had been the same.
    Berlin, though, had been a different matter. In Berlin he had finally caught the great secret agent, Edward Stone.
    Merkatur had overseen Stone’s imprisonment himself. The chains that bound his wrists and ankles were pure titanium. He had been drugged with morphine, to make sure he was placid and disoriented. Stone had been stripped naked, and his hair and teeth had been checked thoroughly for concealed weapons. The bunker they were in was located ten miles underground, and Stone now occupied the only room in its lower level. The walls of the room were reinforced concrete over two feet thick. The room’s only feature was the hook where Stone was chained to the floor. The room had been soundproofed so the spy’s cries for help could not be heard by any of his underlings. The only door to the room was of the same design as those Lloyd’s of London used for its high security vaults, for which Merkatur had the only key.
    By now, the cyanide gas should have been released, rendering Stone quite dead. Just to make sure, though, a series of industrial lasers then fired into the room, followed by a shower of hydrochloric acid.
    The Doctor bit his lip in impatience. With a wave of his hand, he summoned two henchmen, and the three of them went to Stone’s death chamber.
    A cruel smile playing about his lips, the evil genius pulled out the key to the door, and slowly, savoring every moment turned it gently in the lock, like a lover.
    He leapt out of the way as the door swung open and the two henchmen aimed machine guns into the room, releasing a spray of bullets. Better to be safe than sorry, thought Merkatur.
    After the noise had died down, the malicious dwarf got up from off of the floor, dusted himself off and went to inspect the room. He peered through the smoke, and saw the titanium chains lying open on the floor in a pool of acid. It was impossible. It was too horrible to even believe. Stone was missing….