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A Word About My Name

Daily Prompt again – Say My Name, in which we are supposed to tell a story about our names.

Elmer FuddCool. I was named directly after my father’s brother, and not because of any pride of lineage or anything like that. Apparently, Mad Men-style, they had a little trouble locating my dad at my birth. He was on a bit of a bender.

It was 1971, so the dads didn’t do anything but smoke cigars and pace around anyway, so it’s not like I’m asking for a violinist. That’s just the fact. It always seemed sort of lazy, just picking the nearest guy and slapping his name on my head. But no, it was more a function of irritation I think.

For this reason, I often refer to my uncle as the Experimental, Government-Funded Prototype. Usually good for a laugh.

Then there’s my last name – Chalfant. It’s actually my father’s stepdad’s last name. Mr. Chalfant adopted my father and the Experimental Government-Funded Prototype when they were about 2 and 4, and then promptly skipped town. It was the forties, and I guess the guy was a rolling stone. That’s how it goes.

Here’s something odd. My mother first married my father – Dave. He had a brother named Tom. So she had two sons, Tom and Dave. Meanwhile, my uncle had a son named Thomas Scott, who goes by Scott for obvious reasons.

So then my mom divorced my dad, and married a guy named Dave. He had a son named David Shawn. That guy went by Shawn, but he’s not the Shawn you see hanging around here.

Then she divorced Dave and married a guy named Tom. Keepin’ it simple.

Guess what my last name would have been if the Mr. Chalfant hadn’t adopted my dad? BUTY!

Buty!

Close call, I agree.

All right then. Good thing it was a short prompt, cause I got to go.

Booty Sweat

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in writing, Writing/blogging

 

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Switch Places With Another Blogger?

Today the Daily Prompt is Switcharoo, and I’m supposed to tell them which blogger I’d like to switch places with for a week, and I hate to constantly be the wise ass, but this one is easy, too.

Freaky FridayFirst of all, I don’t know that many bloggers. I vowed several weeks ago to read and post about other bloggers twice a week, and then I cheerfully forgot about it. That’s because I’m selfish and lazy, and it turned out that I was too busy to always go around reading everybody else’s blogs. I have to write and work and drink beer and watch television shows and read paperbacks. Also my bartenders need me – some of them have children.

Which blogger would I switch place with? The only one I can think of right off the top of my head is robaker, the guy with all the airplane-flying stories, and that’s mainly because he’s THE ONLY ONE WHO LIKED MY PARKER POST YESTERDAY YOU BUNCH OF SQUARES. But you have to remember, if I’m robaker, then he’s me, and it gets pretty quickly weird. I’m sure we’re both fine without switching places.

The whole idea is creepy. What if I pick a female blogger? Is your husband going to know there’s a dude Freaky Friday-ed into his wife? I certainly hope he would know.

What if I switch with Arianna Huffington Herself? Which one of us would get the accent?

To me it’s like this – Imagine that you decided to communicate using only a squeaky horn and a kazoo. Or imagine that you purchased a large, pink bunny suit and then became addicted to wearing it no matter how many problems it caused. That’s pretty much blogging, right there.

lazyIf I could switch places with someone, let me tell you – it would be anyone but a blogger. I’d use it as a loophole around the Curse, because again, I am a deeply, deeply lazy man. I just – I just can’t stress that enough.

I guess a better answer would be, I’d switch places with just about any blogger, and then that person would be taking the week off blogging, while he or she blogged for me.

Do you have a blog, whoever you are reading this? Then you. I’d switch places with you, and then I’d be quitting your job and going camping for a week without your phone.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 27, 2013 in blogging, postaday, Writing/blogging

 

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The Next Big Thing – Emailing Your Stuff

Hula hoopToday the WordPress daily prompt is, What will the next technological innovation be? Since they use the phrase, “The Next Big Thing” I am assuming they mean something that’s going to be new and then omnipresent, like wheels and soap and smartphones.

Emailing your stuff. That’s clearly what’s next. You don’t drag your suitcase to the airport anymore, you pack it, scan it in, and then you use a 3-D printer somewhere at your destination to make a you a copy of that.

3-D printers aren’t quite there yet, I know – but this guy has one that prints clothing. And this guy can print you a gun. And this guy is building a house with them.

But 3-D printers are just technology, and technology always improves until it looks like magic. I’m sure the Wright Brothers would be shocked at the flying hotels we buzz around in now. Charlie Chaplin, meet James Cameron. It’s inevitable, like pushing a boulder a few inches and then wondering if you could push it to Cleveland.

Of course you can. It’s just a bunch of inches.

The price will go down, and the quality will go up. Radio waves, vacuum tubes, VHS players, CDs, BluRay – 3D Printers will be no different until pretty soon, we’ll all have a decent one, and that’s where we’ll keep a lot of our stuff.

It’ll be cool, too. Want to go on a trip? Pull up your laptop, click the bathroom file, and copies of all of your typical bathroom accessories are uploaded to your Virtual Suitcase. Click on some outfits, a bathing suit, maybe your freaking bicycle. Enter your destination, click send and then you’re off to the airport, step on the plane with no luggage.

Once you get to your hotel, all of your stuff has been 3D printed from the Virtual Suitcase you sent along with your reservation and payment method, and it’s sitting there in your room waiting for you. If you spill anything on your favorite dress – no problem. They can print you one downstairs, and you just hand the old one back in and it gets recycled into the Printer Substance Buffer.

Like everything, at first it will be very expensive and a sort of novelty – you’ll have to put up with imperfections, like people will start to notice that their hair dryers stop working a few months after they’ve been printed. Maybe you’ll print a whole suitcase, and six months later the handle falls off. It won’t matter though, you just print yourself a new hair dryer and a new suitcase. A mere nuisance til you get back to the house.

ReplicatorIt will be irritating magic, that’s all – like everything around us. Argh – why is this microwave taking so long?

What’s the matter, Sam? Oh, nothing Bill. I just had my jacket teleported here and it smells like cheese for no reason. They’re printing me a new one, but I’m going to be ten minutes later to dinner now!

In the end, I’m not talking about the Next Big Thing so much as the Last Big Thing. The Next Big Thing will be the end of Things as we know them – the complete, free access to whatever Things we want, whenever we want them.

 
 

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The Elevator Trap

elevatorToday the Daily Prompt is “Elevator.” They actually have a more specific approach to elevators in mind, but they’re not the boss of me. One time I got caught in an elevator trap, and possibly a psychological experiment, parallel dimension, or both. You be the judge:

The reason we were driving to Cincinnati was that Rob’s sister was down there with a couple of friends of hers. At eighteen years of age or so, they were a couple years younger than us, and Rob got it into his head that we should drive down there and make sure they didn’t have any dudes in there with them, because that was obviously some of our business. Did it occur to us that once we got down there, they’d have some dudes with them? I don’t know, but we got a case of beer, and piled into DJ’s car.

In a very nice nod to responsibility, DJ drank zero beers on the way down there, while Rob and I pretended his car was our own personal cocktail lounge. His sister was down there for some kind of mind-bogglingly elaborate shopping trip, which okay, they were girls. Shopping was an acceptable motivation for pretty much anything. We drove straight into downtown Cincinnati using only information from Rob’s brain to arrive at the proper hotel, then we stumbled into the front door thinking, man, sure could use a bathroom about now.

Well, let’s get up to the room, use that one. Our experiences as knucklehead twenty year-olds had taught us that people in hotels – or nice places in general – had not much patience for us, usually identifying us as knuckleheads with a single glance.

It was a big hotel, with a lot of polished marble and high ceilings and plush carpets. This notion of driving two hours away to pay what must have been a chunk of change for an overnight room, all so one could go shopping at different stores – this was baffling to us. Nonetheless, Big Brother Protocol was in effect; we kept moving.

Elevator2Rob had the room number written down but I don’t remember it. But it was on the 14th floor. I remember that because we found a long, quiet hallway and followed it to an elevator, and once we boarded the elevator, and the doors closed, I said, “Isn’t the 14th floor really the 13th floor? For triskadekaphobic reasons?”

Yes. We checked, and the numbers went straight from 12 to 14. Good lord – awfully superstitious for 1992, which seemed at the time of course, very modern.

Ah well, 14 it is. We hit the button and did potty dances while the elevator rose silently, then the doors opened and the three of us strode confidently off the elevator, and then we all produced frowns as the doors slid shut behind us.

This wasn’t a hotel. We were in some kind of vestibule with four elevators in it, including the one behind us. To our right and to our left were offices – an architectural firm and a law firm – with heavy oak doors lined by vertical windows. Next to the elevator behind us, a metal ashtray was mounted to the wall, and along the architect’s doors sat a potted plant about the size and shape of R2D2, but it looked nothing like him.

We all put our hands on our hips and Rob, the tallest and shaggiest of the three of us said, “Huh.”

Then we spent ten minutes pressing the button to call the elevator, but the elevator would not respond. It was very, very quiet in the vestibule.

DJ was a skinny little guy like me, except he cared how he looked so he had some product in his hair and was wearing a non-hobo shirt and had shaved. He said, “I guess since it’s after business hours, maybe they lock the elevators, so you can’t call them?”

“They should maybe lock the number 14 button then,” I suggested. “This is a problem.”

We all had beers in our pockets, so we popped them open and sat down for a minute. I looked at the potted plant and said, “I’m going to stand up in about two minutes and pee in that potted plant right there, if you guys want to think about what else to look at.”

We didn’t have phones to look at, so that was something to mull over.

“Huh.” Rob said again.

A half an hour later, all of us had peed in the plant, and I imagine there was an odor. Next to one of the elevators was an emergency panel which would only open if you broke the emergency glass. It was either hang around there all night – or possibly all weekend since it was Friday night – or break the glass, so we crushed our beer cans, stuffed them in the butt compartment of the wall-mounted ash tray, and then I broke the glass with my elbow and opened the panel.

Phone 2Ah – an emergency phone inside. I picked it up and said, “I’m terribly sorry, but we’ve selected the wrong elevator and now we’re trapped on the 14th floor of the business side of your hotel. Can someone..”

But the line was dead. Of course the line was dead.

One more beer each apiece, and the rest was still out in the car. We sat on the floor like you see people doing at the airport when their flight’s delayed, killing our beers and alternating between frowning at each other and cracking up.

“You’d think if you break the emergency glass there’d be some kind of alarm somewhere,” DJ mused. “You’d think that would do something, rather than just being glass.”

I said, “I would think you would turn off the elevator if it went to Weekend Business Limbo.”

Rob said, “Still, my sister is on this floor of this building, just waaaaaaaay around the other side.”

“Close,” I agreed. “We came very close.”

It all became surreal, like a Twilight Zone episode. Was this some kind of experiment? Were we being watched to see how we’d handle the situation? Were we really dolls in a Salvation Army barrel?

Twiligh zone2Suddenly I found myself staring at the door of the law office. We had been sitting in the vestibule for an hour and a half, and not long before, I’d realized that the hinges to the law office doors were on our side.

I said, “I vote we take one of those doors off its hinges.”

Getting up to look through the window next to them, I could clearly see an “”Exit” sign, above another door in there among the desks and cubicles, with the word “STAIRS” on it.

DJ had a pocket knife. We used it to pop the pins out of the hinges, and pulled the heavy door right out of the deadbolt locking mechanism, and leaned it against the wall. Aware that we were officially breaking into a law office, I hit the stairs running, down several flights of stairs before finding an unlocked door. I blasted through it to a short hallway, which led to another vestibule, same layout, similar plant, similar ash tray.

Tapping the call button made a pleasant chiming sound, and the elevator arrived in seconds. I jumped on it, hit 14, and the doors opened up to DJ and Rob standing there, blithely wondering if I was going to be me or a carload of cops. I said, “Hold the door.”

So DJ propped the door open while Rob and I fit the heavy law office door back onto its deadbolt, then into its hinges. We tapped the pins down easily, and I had to use my heel for the bottom one, then we bumbled back into the elevator, hit the button for the ground floor, and down we went the way we came. When the doors opened, we blarneyed past a guy in a black suit speaking into a radio, but he said nothing to us and we located the correct elevator, found his sister, confirmed there were no dudes there, just shopping bags, and got diagnosed as idiots by the three people we’d come here to check on.

They might have been right, and they might have been wrong – it sure felt like a psychological experiment to us, and it was a full day before we shook the surreal feeling – but we never heard a word about the elevator or the break-in, and if Rob’s sister had any unsavory dude-related plans, well, we took care of that.

Brady Bunch 2

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Writing/blogging

 

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Daily Prompt: The Very, Very Long Awkward Phase

Going with the old WordPress Daily Prompt here, which is:

You receive a gift that is bittersweet and makes you nostalgic. What is it?

Photographers, show us GIFT.

And this one’s easy, because I really did get a gift today that was bittersweet and made me nostalgic. Want to see it?

South of the Border 

Yes. I received this gift on Facebook today, although it was really a gift from the guy on the far left to the guy in the white shirt. We were all 17 in the photo except one of us, which makes this photo twenty-five years old. As you probably guessed, I am the one wearing the stolen hat.

Here’s what happened. For some reason, despite being all children, all of our parents allowed us to take a five-day trip down to Myrtle Beach. I forget which one of us was 18, but that was the reason we were able to rent a motel room. Please bear in mind that six years before, my mom wouldn’t let my sister go to Grad Night at Kings Island overnight. At the time this photo was taken, me and basically the same crew had already been on a weekend trip to New York City, where we ran afoul of stolen merchandise vendors, and were nearly arrested in Chinatown.

Napoleon Dynamite and PedroYes, a bit of a parental double standard, but that’s cause I was a big strong guy, right? Who’s going to mess around with a man with his middle school pants still strapped on over tiny, chicken legs, wearing a baggy sweater in May? You should have seen my arms – like bones with panty hose on them.

Who cares. We drove down, checked in, and there was actually a fifth guy with us at first named Jeremy, who went sort of crazy after drinking a ton of alcohol, and brought a strange, self-proclaimed beach bum back to our room. He was an African-American male with long, tightly braided hair who was in his thirties, told us his name was St. George, and who – although ostensibly there because he had promised for no reason to buy Jeremy more alcohol – kept telling us that he could really use some marijuana.

None of us had any marijuana. It’s unlikely any of us had cigarettes. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing down there, but we had just been talking about the urban legend regarding cops, and how they had to say “yes” if you asked if that’s what they were.

Now, I’m not saying that’s a true urban legend, but I am saying that when I asked St. George finally, after he hung around our room for twenty minutes, if he was a cop, he said, “Yeah. I’m a cop. Psshhh.”

Rolling his eyes. Too early, culturally, for him to make a “W” with his hands, but I’m sure he would have.

That’s odd, I thought. A couple of us froze, exchanging looks. I said, “No seriously, say ‘no’ if you’re not a cop. I’m asking you if you’re a cop.”

Undercover Brother SolidSame answer. “Yeah – I’m a cop. Pshhh.”

And Monte and I freaked.

“Hold on,” Monte repeated. “St. George, we’re asking if you are a law enforcement officer. If you are, would you please identify yourself?”

“Pssshhh. Yeah – I’m a cop.”

Like a recording. Holy. Donkey shit.

So we all leapt to our feet and told him, sir, we do not want you in our motel room anymore. Please leave. We have no marijuana, nor any interest in any alcoholic beverages. We are but pilgrims traveling to learn the complex ways of this world, etc. etc. etc.

And St. George left, with Jeremy trailing him and telling him, come on, man, those guys are dicks. You’re not a cop, you’re my new beach bum pal. Let’s go to the liquor store, forget those guys. But alas, St. George was offended, and left.

Well, not completely. A half hour later, we spied him behind the front desk of the motel, making a phone call. That’s what you had to do in 1989, actually find a phone, and do you suppose the motel made a habit of letting beach bums use the phone whenever they wanted?

It didn’t take Jeremy long to find a couple of dudes who were willing to take him to the liquor store and buy him some much-needed liquor in exchange for paying for an extra bottle for them. Awesome – so off they went, and when they came out of the liquor store, there were cops waiting for them, nice and conveniently. Off to jail for Jeremy!

Now, it may alarm you to learn that we did basically nothing to bail him out. I’m not saying we were intoxicated teenage children who had no interest in going near a jail, but let’s just say it didn’t seem like a good idea to go poking around the police station, and let’s just say it seemed to us Jeremy had basically called a cab and asked to be taken there.

Dazed and ConfusedSo – off to the beach. We screwed around for four more hours, and then all crashed back at the room.

Jeremy arrived not long after, very upset. For a moment, I thought he was going to kick my skinny ass, but Mike explained to him that he would be doing no such thing – thanks, Mike! And then we all slept, and Jeremy slipped out in the wee hours of the morning, leaving a note explaining that he was pissed at us (!), that he owed some guys money (!!), and that they would probably be around looking for it and to “deal with them(!!!)”

Actually, it turns out, Mike has been walking around with the Actual Note From This Story in his wallet this whole time. I know, because he scanned it and sent it to me:

Awesome Curse of Future Tom Letter

So, we all sprang into action. The universe began playing hilarious banjo music while we threw all of our crap into the only car we had left, trashed the room like rock stars for no reason other than being idiots (and now that I think about it, that might have been Jeremy’s credit card), and then we screeched out of the parking lot without so much as checking out.

We got lost on the way home – again, we were jackasses, and there were no magic map phones, there were just maps and eyeballs and signs – and at some point we ended up at a tourist trap called South of the Border, which is where the picture up there was taken. Who took the picture? So far, none of us has any idea.

So today’s Mike’s birthday – he’s the actual first kid I met in Kindergarten, and we lived together in college, and the last time I saw him was a couple years ago, when his wife was frowning at me for stomping around their house in bare, filthy, Huckleberry Finn feet – and because I’m so sentimental, I put up a hilarious photo on his timeline from Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Monte followed suit with this one, and so there I was, looking at my own unbelievably awkward, jackass self from the past.

Wasn’t easy walking around high school looking like some kind of Third World freedom fighter, but it could have been worse and as you can probably guess, I’m like, Super Cool now. Note the blogging and the Star Trek knowledge and the long, bald guy hair – Cool City. Ah yes, we all go through an awkward phase, just for some of us, it lasts decades.

Stand By MeVery Stand By Me. Very nostalgic and bittersweet. Normally what I’d say, if I were in a country song or if I were an introspective writer returning to Castle Rock, is something like, “Man, what I wouldn’t give to go back and do that again.”

No thank you, though. It was fun fellas, but let’s go do something in our forties, with our brains working, and preferably, without our old pal Jeremy. Or I guess if he’s also in his forties and not a jackass anymore, Jeremy can come too.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Knuckleheads, Writing/blogging

 

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Blog Morphing For Hire

As you may or may not have guessed, I am not the only one blogging every day on WordPress. There are so many people doing it, that the new WordPress site (new to me at least) has a Daily Prompt post they put up every day, that way if you’ve been cursed to blog every day, and you’re sitting there wanting to go drink a beer but unable to because you haven’t blogged yet, you can go and stare at the Daily Prompt until you think of something completely unrelated to blog about.

At least that’s been my experience so far. Today is going to be different. Here’s their prompt:

“Language evolves. The meaning of a word can shift over time as we use it differently — think of “cool,” “heavy,” or even “literally.”

Today, give a word an evolutionary push: give a common word a new meaning, explain it to us, and use it in the title of your post.”

So my first thought was the word “blogsturbation” which would be the act of sitting around reading your own blog. I thought that might be kind of seedy for a classy joint like the WordPress Main Blogging Room or whatever that is over there. Certainly let’s keep that out of the title, yes?

Also, not a very long post. Pretty much one sentence, then joke’s over.

No, they want an existing word, and they want you to then show how it can and possibly is used in a new, different way. They want you to morph it. Then I realized I had just done it the other day. And then I was sort of shocked when I realized that the world that I had morphed was “blog.”

Blogging, actually. I’ll explain, and I’ll alter names and details so that the person I was sort of insulting won’t know it’s him or her.

I was talking to a guy. We’ll call him Andy. I was telling Andy about a work-related situation, one which he was very familiar with. It was a very common situation, one which I have dealt with literally thousands of times, and  as always, it required the coordination of a half-dozen people. So in these situations, whenever someone – anyone – in the group turns out to be slacking, at least one of the other people feels it, ends up having to work harder or longer or angrier.

In this case, I was the one who was feeling the slack, and it wasn’t one person, it was several. And since folks are sensitive and we all have to work together, I had to hold in my irritation/disappointment/boiling rage. It’s not like I never slack, so it’s good to just cover each other.

SamThen after we cover each other, and all’s well, we each return to wherever we came from, and there’s always someone there whose job is to listen to us vent about it. That’s Andy – I was pacing around in his office muttering like you know how Yosemite Sam mutters, when he’s getting really frustrated about the recent string of explosions he’s been in? Like that, and then also like when he’s yelling and shooting the floor and throwing his hat around.

Okay. One of the things that flew out of my mouth was to describe a person who had been talking too much. I mean, explaining and re-explaining and overexplaining, and all of the relevant people had already accepted the explanation. Time to stop explaining, Explainer. Beat it.

And what flew out of my mouth in describing it to Andy was, “And then meanwhile, Charlie’s standing there blogging about it…”

Talking too much. I used the word “blogging” to describe “talking too much.”

Sometimes I go to the grocery store, and the cashier just says the basic stuff he or she has to say, and sometimes I get the guy who wants to be my pal and chat the whole time. Blogging. The cashier is blogging about my groceries while he rings them up.

The neighbor, blogging out by the mail box about other neighbors. The three drunk guys on the train, blogging about their romantic interests and sexual escapades. The crazy guy at the bar, blogging to the air about Obama.

Blogging. There you go, fellow bloggers. Don’t get mad at me either, because really the only thing you could do if you didn’t agree is blog about it. See the problem there?

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Writing/blogging

 

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