Tag Archives: humor

Support for a LEGO Wall

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook depicting President Trump building his proposed border wall from a box of Legos.  Other than a brief laugh, I scrolled down the page giving it little thought, but then it hit me like a Lego brick upside the head.  It could work!  Not only could it work, but a Lego wall would be a cost-effective way to get hog-tied American citizens and laughing Mexican leaders off the hook for funding the wall.  A Lego wall stretching the length of the border between the United States and Mexico would still be expensive, but the cost could be reduced drastically from billions to millions by taking advantage of America’s greatest untapped building material resource – old Lego sets and Lego pieces collecting dust under sofas and in toy closets in homes across America.     

Putting a plan to build a Lego wall in action would not be difficult.  Most American families would be overjoyed to donate their old Lego sets and partial sets that no longer interest their children or grandchildren to the wall.  A network of Lego Drop Boxes in malls, Walmart, churches, and government buildings could be set up across the nation to collect Lego pieces for The Great Wall of America.  Legos make sense as a money saver as well as a building material.  By using Legos – new or donated – to build the wall, money for mortar, adhesives, rivets, welding, etc. to hold the wall together would not be necessary since Legos interlock.  Donated Legos would be especially useful to the construction of the wall.  Used Legos not only interlock but are covered with a thin gooey film from sticky little fingers that once played with them.  Try prying apart two interlocked Legos sealed by peanut butter and jelly or banana pudding taffy?  It is almost impossible.  Nuking might do the job, but it’s doubtful.

Labor is the second area in which a Lego wall would save the country money.  Let’s assume every Congressman can assemble Legos (A stretch, but for now please humor me).  Why not put them to work building the Lego wall?  They receive a paycheck for doing little to nothing, so why not put them to work earning their pay for a change?  Of course, such a work force of limited skill sets and questionable work ethics would require constant supervision and mentoring, and that is where pre-school and kindergarten children come into play.  Children are Lego experts, and through their expertise and guidance, the construction of the wall would flow smoothly from beginning to end.  Now, before someone starts shouting about child labor violations, please, listen closely.  Under the Lego plan, communities would organize pre-school and kindergarten field trips to allow children to travel to the wall and spend a day eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mentoring the Congressmen stacking Legos for the wall, and teaching them how to work and play nicely together.  If nothing else, children mentoring Congressmen on how to get along, share, and work together would be a patriotic service sorely needed in America. 

Finally, maintenance for the wall would be easier and cheaper if Legos were used.  Billions of dollars would be saved on maintenance since cumbersome and expensive steel and concrete would not be needed.  When a section of the Lego wall needed repairs, Congressmen would simply pop out the worn piece and fit a donated Lego piece in its place.  There would be no long delays waiting for replacement materials since America’s Donate a Lego campaign would produce an endless stream of Legos for repairs and additional tower construction.  This would especially be true in March and April when most children lose interest in the Legos they received for Christmas and put them aside.  That interest lull is the perfect time for patriotic parents and grandparents, tired of losing their religion and speaking in obscene tongues when they step on a Lego piece buried in the carpet, to scoop up all Legos laying around the house and drop them in the nearest Lego Drop Box.  The beauty of this process is it comes at no cost to the to the citizens of the United States or Mexico.

If you stop to think about it, a Lego wall makes as much sense as anything else happening in Washington these days, so why not give it a chance?  Who knows, it might give us a reason to smile, be nice to each other, and be proud of our country’s leadership once again.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 19, 2019

New Year Resolutions: Fun or Serious

Making New Year resolutions is a time-honored tradition.  It is a time when many people jokingly make self-improvement goals they have no intention to honor.  Year after year, people from presidents to school teachers engage in making such resolutions in the name of harmless fun.  However, there are those of us who take such traditions seriously.  We would never think about lying, even in fun, about anything as serious as how we intend to face a new beginning.  No one is perfect in this world!  All of us have certain undesired traits and behaviors that could stand improvement, and as a Believer in the Sanctity of New Year Resolutions (BSNYR), I – along with mega tens of like believers – am thankful for the chance to address my shortcomings and improve as a human being.  Unfortunately, there are those who have no qualms wasting this valuable opportunity, and they readily show their irreverence for the occasion through their tongue-in-cheek approach.

The news media is a prime example!  They go out of their way to support the ridiculous and embrace the New Year with a facetious simplistic approach.  These perpetrators of fake news wallow in laughable self-indulging septic resolutions that cast a shadow over the first serious event/tradition of the new year.  Sadly, such a mindless jocular beginning sets the tone for the rest of the year.  The remaining 364 days never fully recover from the year’s raucous upside-down beginning.  As dubious as that may sound, the recurring lunacy that follows throughout the year – year after year – is a testament to what happens when people do not take their New Year resolutions to heart.

Therefore, please forgive me if I proclaim my resolutions with a bit more “ump” than the average Joe.  Resolutions are the yearly life blood that spurs me to continuous improvement as a human being, and folks I don’t take that lightly.  But, if your approach to New Year resolutions is little more than fun and games, I say kudos if that tickles your pickle, but for me, I choose to be a bit more impish in my annual reproach to the New Year.  However, regardless of where you stand on this issue, have a joyous and happy New Year, and above all, give your family a hug and a kiss.  That is truly the best way to start the New Year with or without resolutions!  

2019 New Year Resolutions:

1.     I will never walk when I can ride (It doesn’t make sense);

2.     I will buy new underwear (A year is about the limit for Fruit of the Loom);

3.     I will answer my cell phone when I can find it;

4.     I will go to the gym.  (I try to visit at least once a year);

5.     I will travel, travel, travel (Have I said it’s good to be retired);

6.     I will keep my opinions to myself about self-serving meathead politicians;

7.     I will give up uncooked bread and pasta;

8.     I will remember to zip my pants when I leave the restroom (At my age, there is little cause for alarm, but the draft is not good for old folks during flu season);

9.     I will be more assertive if no one is opposed;

10.  I will spend less time listening to FOX NEWS, CNN, FACEBOOK, CONSERVATIVES, LIBERALS, DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, and CRACKPOTS IN GENERAL; and

11.  I will make breakable or adjustable New Year resolutions (It’s more truthful and less stressful).

This article has been approved by the 2019 Believers in the Sanctity of New Year Resolutions (BSNYR) membership board.  All lies and responsibility for belief, disbelief, offense, feelings of betrayal, shock, and repulsiveness in the content is a figment of the imagination and squarely rests on the shoulders of the believer, disbeliever, offended, betrayed, shocked, and repulsed. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR ya’ll!

JL

©Jack Linton, January 1, 2019

How to Deal with Harassing Phone Calls

One of the most annoying things about modern day life is the constant bombardment of unwanted calls to our cell and home telephones.  Telephone solicitors call day and night.  They have little, if any regard, for personal privacy, but in today’s world, that is not surprising.  Our lives are anything but private.  In fact, most of us are guilty of privacy suicide.  Daily, we toss intimate details about ourselves to the wind via social media windows such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  As a society, we readily lay our lives open to the world, so why should a few invasive telephone calls bother us?  It’s simple – it is one thing to open your front door of your own free will and invite someone inside, but it is entirely different when someone uninvited tries to slip in your backdoor by hook, crook, sham, or scam.  When the phone rings at 8:00 p.m. and it is John from The Save a Duck Foundation, how do we know John is who he says he is or if he is just another jerk trying to separate us from our hard-earned money?

On average, I receive at least ten to twelve unsolicited phone calls daily.  Callers have informed me my home computer is sending malicious code, I have been threatened the IRS will arrest me for delinquent taxes if I do not go immediately to my bank and forward money to the caller, callers have asked for donations for WOWA (Worn Out Wrestlers of America) as well as every other charitable organization known to mankind, and it doesn’t stop there!  I cannot count the number of unsolicited calls I have received for insurance, medical relief, political surveys, and save the squirrel campaigns.  It is mind boggling the schemes these modern-day bandits devise to get my personal information or inside my pocketbook.  I have placed my name on a “No Call” list more than once, but I have come to believe the service is little more than a cruel hoax.   It does not provide relief!  If anything, the harassing calls seem to increase after I place my name on the list, so what is the use!  As a result, like so many people, I am terrified to answer my phone for fear of another dip wad scam. sales pitch, petition for donations to help aging poodles, or a thinly veiled political survey.  However, lately, I have started answering my phone again, especially if I am in the mood for a little fun.  Believe me, there is fun to be had if you know how to deal with telephone solicitors.

What to do When a Marketer or Scam Artist Calls:

  1. Answer the phone and get sucked into the sales pitch or scam: If you are this gullible, you are probably the benefactor of millions of dollars that a Nigerian prince reserved in your name in a bank vault off the coast of a lost South Pacific island, and you are too busy counting your money to be concerned about harassing phone calls;
  2. Rip out all telephone landlines, and drown cell phones in the toilet: This is probably the best solution of all, but few people in today’s world can survive without a phone glued to their ear;
  3. Don’t answer: Not a bad idea but be sure to change your ringtones to something you can tolerate since whatever ringtone you choose will be perpetually ringing, singing, and hooting.  In a “no answer home,” earplugs should be mandatory for all family members;
  4. Pick up the ringing phone, and if you do not recognize the number hang up: There is a bit of satisfaction and pleasure in doing this, but it doesn’t seem to reduce the number of harassing calls at all.  If anything, now that the caller knows you are home, he often calls back within minutes.  Also, any time you answer and hang-up, your phone number is placed on a “This is a Live One” list for eternity;
  5. Pick up the phone and start breathing heavily, make clucking sounds, or yell, “Mom, we are out of toilet paper! This is the third time we have used this roll!”  The unwanted caller usually hangs up immediately, but if not, add, “Can you hold a moment while I wipe?”
  6. Answer the phone and have a little fun by wasting the caller’s time. [SEE conversations at end of blog]: This is one of my favorites.  It seems to slow down the number of harassing calls, but more important, it is heart warming to know you have wasted the time of a shameless phone solicitor.  I encourage everyone to tape a list of worthless questions to ask phone marketers to your landline or to the back of your cell phone.  The goal is to make the call as unpleasant and unproductive for the caller as possible.  Waste the caller’s time like he is wasting yours.  Strive to make the time-bandit hang up first, which he will most certainly do if you follow these three simple guidelines:  (1) Answer anything a phone marketer says with a question, (2) Never give a straight answer or confirm anything, and (3) interrupt the marketer every chance you get.  Follow these simple guidelines, and you will be amazed at how fast you begin to look forward to answering harassing phone calls, so you can harass the caller; and
  7. Always play by these five rules:
    • Do NOT play the caller’s game – control the conversation;
    • Do NOT cooperate with the caller.  Remember, the caller is not your friend;
    • Do NOT lose your temper or curse. Losing your temper and/or cursing does nothing but raise your blood pressure.  If you get so annoyed or frustrated you must curse, hang up – you have lost control of the game;
    • Remember, they called you – you did not call them!  Your space has been invaded to enable a stranger to make a buck off you or manipulate your time.  Time is money for these people, so waste as much of it as possible; and
    • Never agree to payments of any kind over the phone. With charities, you never know who you are talking to, so ask them to mail you information if you are interested.  If they are legit, they will do so.  Even if a solicitor and his cause sounds legit, the chances are good he is a fraud, so beware.

I hope you find a way to turn the tables on the phone pests.  Better yet, I hope you have a little fun at their expense.  You might as well since it is doubtful they are going away anytime soon.  Give them hell but be nice!

JL

©Jack Linton, August 18, 2018

 

The following conversations are examples of what a conversation with a phone solicitor might sound like if you decide to have some fun.  Ninety-percent of the times I engaged a phone solicitor in one these conversations, the caller hung up on me, and one-hundred percent of the time, I had a blast doing it:

CONVERSATION #1:           [Pretend you are a two-year-old, and ask “WHY?”]

Caller:             I call for Mr. Jack.

Me:                 This is he.

Caller:             Mr. Jack, can confirm you live at _________________?

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Uh . . . Sir, I need confirm I talk to Mr. Jack.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Must confirm for security.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Both our security, Sir.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Must confirm. Law require.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Sir, must you say why?

Me:                 No.

Caller:             Thank you.  May we continue?

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Uh . . . Sir, your computer send malicious signal.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Uh . . . uh . . . We identify malicious content.  If open computer and follow my instruction can correct problem.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Mr. Jack, you not cooperate?

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             Do you wish to speak to supervisor?

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             We may report to Microsoft authorities.

Me:                 Why?

Caller:             [muffled voices]

CLICK and dial tone  – YOU WIN!

 

CONVERSATION #2:           [Be uncooperative!]

Caller:             I call for Mr. Jack.

Me:                 This a Mr. Jack.

Caller:             Can confirm you live at _________________?

Me:                 No.

Caller:             Uh . . . Sir, I need confirm I talk to Mr. Jack.

Me:                 Who did you call?

Caller:             Mr. Jack.

Me:                 I answered, so you have confirmation.

Caller:             Uh . . . okay . . . Sir, your computer send malicious signal.

Me:                 Really!?  What kind of malicious signal?

Caller:             That why I call.  We identify malicious content.  Will correct if open                                         computer and follow instructions.

Me:                 I don’t have a computer.

Caller:             Uh . . . Yes Sir, you do.  We receive signal.

Me:                 Are you calling me a liar?

Caller:             No . . . no . . . I need fix computer.

Me:                 I don’t have a computer.

Caller:             You have computer.  We receive signal.

Me:                 You can’t.  I don’t have a computer.

Caller:             Sir, I try to help.

Me:                 If you want to help, hang up.

Caller:             First, we fix computer.

Me:                 I don’t have a computer.

Caller:             We get signal.

Me:                 Have you checked your computer?

Caller:             No.

Me:                 Maybe you should.  I don’t have a computer.

Caller:             Sir, would you like speak to supervisor?

Me:                 Yes, put him on.

Caller:             One moment please. [muffled voices]

                        CLICK and dial tone

[A couple of times a supervisor or someone playing the role of a supervisor has picked up the call]

Supervisor:     This is Bombo Ahlalli.  Mr. Jack, I understand you have problems.

Me:                    I don’t have problems.  You called me.

Supervisor:     Sir, your computer in violation of Microsoft policy.

Me:                    What policy is that?

Supervisor:     Policy against malicious virus or malware threats.

Me:                    Does that cover malicious phone calls as well?

Supervisor:     Sir, we are most legit.

Me:                    No, you are not.

Supervisor:     Yes, we are.

Me:                    Not.

Supervisor:     We are!

Me:                    Not.

Supervisor:     Why not cooperate?

Me:                    Why not hang up?

Supervisor:     Why not you hang up?

Me:                    You called me.  It would be rude if I hung up.

Supervisor:     Sir, you waste time.

Me:                   I am lonely.  I have plenty of time.

Supervisor:     [muffled voices]

Me:                   What would you like to talk about?  I have all day.

CLICK and dial tone   – YOU WIN!

 

PHONE CONVERSATION #3:        [Interrupt, Interrupt, Interrupt!]

Caller:             I call for Mr. Jack.

Me:                 This is he.

Caller:             Sir, I am . . . .

Me:                 I hate to interrupt, but how is the weather where you are?

Caller:             Sir?

Me:                 The weather.  It is hotter than Hades here.

Caller:             The weather hot here as well.  I would . . . .

Me:                 I feel your pain.  Have you seen any good movies lately?  That is a good way                          to stay out of the heat.

Caller:             No.  I call to . . . .

Me:                 I hate interrupting, but I am so glad you called.  My wife is shopping, and I                            don’t have a soul to talk to today.  I bet you make a million calls a day and                              don’t have that problem.

Caller:             Sir, may I say why call?

Me:                 You like harassing people.  That’s why you call.

Caller:             I no harass people.

Me:                 Is this the best job you can find?  I bet your mama is so proud.

Caller:             Sir?  [muffled voices]

Supervisor:     Mr. Jack, so sorry.  Our agent seems to have problem communicating.  We                           call about your computer?

Me:                   I bet you are calling on behalf of Microsoft?

Supervisor:     Yes, we . . . .

Me:                   I really appreciate the way you guys keep calling to remind me my                                          computer is doing awful things.  One of these days, I might have to take                                  you up on your offer, and I’d do it today, if I wasn’t so absolutely sure you                              are running a scam.

Supervisor:     This no scam.

Me:                    Sure, it is, and you should be ashamed.

Supervisor:     I may notify Microsoft authorities if no cooperation.

Me:                     Report away, but in the meantime, do you mind if we talk sports?  What                                do you know about sumo wrestling?

CLICK and dial tone – YOU WIN!

Choose a conversation and put it into action the next time you receive an unwanted telephone call.  It is time we start taking back our homes!

Top 12 Attractions for Naps in Disney World

My wife and I are Disney World fanatics!  We go at every opportunity.  Although I have ridden Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain numerous times, we usually avoid the roller coaster type rides.  Low key attractions such as the Disney atmosphere and watching the magical expressions of awe on the faces of children when they meet the Disney characters are more our cup of tea.  However, recently, my oldest granddaughter and grandson, coaxed me – my wife is smarter – into riding two of Disney’s newest rides, Everest and Pandora.  OMG! I loved both!  Everest was a blast, and the exhilaration of Pandora is the epitome of the Disney ride experience.  Pandora completely blew me away, and almost justified the two-hour wait in line.

I felt like a kid riding Everest and Pandora – on top of the mountain; however, in Disney World you must literally be a kid if you hope to stay on top of the mountain, which unfortunately, I am not.  Disney boasts their parks are for the young and the young at heart.  Hogwash!  Physically young, absolutely!  Young at heart?  Not so much!  By the time my sixty plus year old heart spends a half day standing hours in line to ride a couple of gut wrenching heart attack inducing thrill rides and trekking an ungodly number of miles across sun baked bubbling asphalt between rides and shows, I am literally pooped – exhausted!  By midday, I could care less about Star War laser sword enactments, Mickie and Minnie song and dance routines, or surviving a dwarf driven runaway mine train.  I am interested in two things and two things only:  one, getting off my feet, and two, finding a place that is cool and dark to take a NAP!

I am convinced if Disney opened a NAP TIME themed park it would be filled 365 days a year to capacity.  It is truly discrimination against geriatrics that such a theme park does not exist in Disney.  To their credit, Disney provides for the needs of youngsters, teens, young adults, families, and service animals, but there is little to no attention given old people.  Where are the oxygen stations?  Where are the cots?

How hard would it be for a company with the resources of Disney to set up a park for exhausted adults – especially seniors and couch potatoes.  What would be so difficult about developing a park complete with air-conditioned MASH (Military Army Surgical Hospital) style tents and military barracks equipped with air condition, oxygen, and cots.  For added realism, medivac helicopters could be used to fly collapsing and delusional exhausted adults from other theme parks to the new park where they could recharge their batteries.  Now, that is a ride this old geezer could get behind!  If Disney truly wanted to show its humanity, this is the direction they would venture next.  It makes sense!

Unfortunately, such a park is not likely to be built any time soon, but during my many visits, I have discovered there can be relief when your feet hurt, the sun has zapped your last bit of energy, and your eyelids are dragging two feet behind you if you know where to look.  There was a time when I sat or curled on curbs in the various Disney World parks breathing laboriously while the little moisture remaining in my body gurgled and bubbled under the intensity of the Florida sun.  No more!  In every Disney park there are certain attractions that offer the weary a chance to get out of the sun, off their feet, and even time to catch a few Zzzzs.  The chart below offers twelve Disney attractions/sanctuaries the weary can seek out when they find themselves miserably exhausted on the streets of Disney World.  Visitors to Disney world, especially older ones, deserve a break or two, and this chart is the ticket.

Top 12 Attractions for Naps at Disney World

No.

Ride Location Length of Ride Air Cond. Dim Light Soft Seats Slow Moving
12 Pirates of the Caribbean

Magic Kingdom

8   minutes Yes Yes No

Yes

  POSTIVE:  The ride is out of the sun, slow moving, and dark!  Perfect for catching a few Zzzzs!

NEGATIVE:  The seat is hard and without a Fast Pass it can be a long wait to ride.

11 Beauty & the Beast Live

Epcot

25 minutes No No No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  This is a great place to get off your feet under a canopy that blocks the sun.

NEGATIVE:  The canopy blocks the sun, but it still gets very hot, but I dare you not to nod.

10 It’s a Small World

Magic Kingdom

14 minutes No No No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  289 animated dolls sing “It’s a small world” over and over; who can stay awake?

NEGATIVE:  The boat seats are hard, and without a Fast Pass the wait to ride can be very long.

9 Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Magic Kingdom

12 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  Air condition and cushioned seats on a hot Florida day is all that needs to be said.

NEGATIVE:  The only negative is the wait to get in can be very long without a Fast Pass!

8 Tomorrowland People Mover

Magic Kingdom

16 minutes No Slight No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  There is almost no wait, and you can stretch out and relax during this rolling tour!

NEGATIVE:  No negatives!  This is sort of a “mercy” ride created for bone weary adults.

7 County Bear Jamboree

Magic Kingdom

10 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIIVE:  Short lines, air condition, cushioned seats, and dim lighting – everything you need!

NEGATIVE:  The show is too short, but in Disney be thankful for any nap time you find.

6 Disney/Pixar Film Festival

Epcot

18 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  Short lines, air condition, cushioned seats, and dim lighting equals a great nap!

NEGATIVE:  If 15 minutes longer, it would be the perfect nap attraction, but no such luck.

5 Carousel of Progress

Magic Kingdom

21 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  No lines – walk in and find a cushioned chair to your liking!

NEGATIVE:  I feel bad when I wake up, and I have missed the show.  Oh well, maybe next time.

4 Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Magic Kingdom

No Limit Yes Slight No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  There is an air-conditioned activity room while you wait.  Smart adults stretch out on the benches for a short or even long nap!  If someone gets ahead of you in line, who cares!  Your nap time can be virtually unlimited!  I would have rated this ride higher, but I wasn’t sure if at some point you might get chased out.

NEGATIVE:  Honestly, I can’t think of a negative unless the loud squeals of children bother you.

3 The Hall of Presidents

Magic Kingdom

23 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  This attraction is a favorite for a nap.  It meets all the napping criteria plus it is dark!

NEGATIVE:  No negatives!  When it comes to a nap, the Hall of Presidents is a 5 Star Attraction!

2 The American Adventure

Epcot

29 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  The reason this attraction rates higher that the previous one is it is 6 minutes longer.

NEGATIVE:  No negatives!  This is another 5 Star Nap Attraction!

1 Finding Nemo – The Musical

Animal Kingdom

35 minutes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

POSITIVE:  It is a shame to doze in such a great show, but this attraction has 35 minutes of air conditioning, soft seats, and complete darkness.  What else does a napper need other than a cot?

NEGATIVE:  If you are late, you get locked out until the next show – bummer.

I am confident you will find this list helpful, regardless if you are an old geezer, or by the middle of a long Disney day, an old geezer at heart.  For my wife and I, these twelve attractions are always at the top of our list.  Over the years, we have logged many hours of Z time on these attractions, which helps keep our passion for Disney World alive.  We always feel rested and alert when we get our nap time.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 31, 2018

My Wife and I Shacked Up

This past week my wife and I did something we have never done – we shacked up!  We have been married forty-four years, so in a sense, we are old timer shacker uppers, but this time it was different.  We drove to North Mississippi and spent five nights at the Shack Up Inn located on the Hopson Plantation outside of Clarksdale on Highway 49.  The rustic stopover with authentic renovated tin roofed, rough wood-sided sharecropper houses as well as a cotton gin and grain bins reimagined and converted to overnight hotel apartments may not be for everyone, but it is certainly unique, and for us, a perfect getaway.  The whole complex is a historical marvel to behold, but at the same time, it is one of the most ironic places I have ever visited.  Over seventy-five years ago, families scrapping out a meager living farming another man’s land lived in these two maybe three-room shotgun style houses.  They spent their lives struggling, working from first light to sunset, to have a better life than living in a shack.  In contrast, today, people pay more money for a night’s stay in one of the shacks than most poor sharecroppers made in a year.  It is also sobering to think there are families across Mississippi still living in such poverty.

We stayed in the Crossroad Shack, relocated to the Inn from nearby Duncan, Mississippi.  The shack, although weathered and worn both inside and out was clean, warm on the cool nights we encountered, free of leaks from the rain that came later in the week, and peaceful and relaxing for a good night’s rest.  It would have been difficult to find a speck of paint anywhere, but it had all we needed for an enjoyable and comfortable stay.  The little two room building had indoor plumbing complete with a flushable toilet and hot water for a shower.  There was also a piano, a microwave oven, a coffee pot, a refrigerator, a gas wall heater, adequate lighting, and glory of glories NO TELEVISION!  The Internet was a bit sketchy, but that was okay.  Few people go to the Shack Up Inn to watch television or roam the Internet, but if that is your thing, some of the bins are equipped with television.  Like my wife and I, most people go to the Shack Up Inn to escape the everyday hustle of life, and relax away from Facebook, CNN, and Fox News.  The Inn is a place to put worries and trouble on hold and relax in a rocker on the screened back porch, read a book, take leisurely strolls around the grounds, and in the evenings kick back with a cold drink of choice and listen to the best Mississippi Blues you will find anywhere.  Of course, you can always jump in your car and head into Clarksdale to visit Ground Zero, The Blues Museum, Hambone’s, and Reds Lounge as well as many other local establishments and landmarks.  Despite being off the beaten path, there is no shortage of things to do at the Shack up Inn and in Clarksdale.

While at the Shack Up Inn, I attended a songwriting workshop I have been wanting to attend for some time.  Songwriting is a passion of mine regardless of success or lack of it, and by writing my own stuff, I don’t mess up anyone else’s music.  The workshop exceeded all expectations!  I have never been made to feel more at ease and appreciated in a workshop, and I have attended many.  Songwriters from all over the country were there, and I can truthfully say, I learned something from each of them.  If you are a songwriter or would like to be, and you are interested in learning the nuts and bolts of the songwriting craft, Ralph Carter’s “Songs at the Shacks” workshop is a no brainer.  However, don’t go if you are not serious about your craft!  You will work your butt off writing and performing, but by the end of the week, you will be thankful of the blessings that allowed you to attend.  I found the workshop well worth the money, time, and effort.  Thank you, Ralph, I can’t wait to be a part of another of your workshops.  I left the Shacks, tired, renewed, and for the first time ever with confidence I am headed in the right direction.  As an important bonus, the friendships made during the week were worth the price of admission alone.

To say, we had a wonderful week at the Shacks would be a huge understatement.  We had a super week!  How can shacking up with a beautiful woman, writing music, singing your songs, listening to great music, and being around friends be anything but fantastic?  We will certainly do it again soon, but for now it is back to writing songs, writing my blog, and writing short stories.  I hear a song, “Mama, Take Your Teeth Out,” calling.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 16, 2018

First Love

“I remember my first love,” the man said, closed his eyes and sighed deeply.  “She was as sweet as dew at first light.  I have never met another like her.”  He knelt before the altar and worshiped First Love.

For most people, first love is a careless delicious surplus of sugary puffs of nostalgia.  They swoon in memories of white lace, tender moonlight strolls, skin as soft as silk floating on feather down, and a touch so smooth and delicate it speaks of a refreshing summer lemonade or a delicate red wine with floral undertones.  Over time, first love has a way of growing into a whimsical dream-like longing that paints it as more than a simple charity of nature.  For many, it morphs into a cosmic life event colored by all that is innocent, sweet, and righteous in the world – a lavish desert and entitlement of youth.

If man could negotiate time and the universe in a single breath and look upon the original blueprints for his existence, he would find first love was a gift, a charity, orchestrated by gods with nothing better to do.  They were spirits with no motive other than creating a smile and a warm place in the heart, who, to this day, toast one another with each first kiss of starry eyed first loves.  We should also toast first love and fall in love over and over with the honey scented nostalgia that cloaks it.  Yet, unlike those candied memories, we must take care not to place our first love on a wistful pedestal like a trophy.

First love is not an altar to kneel before.  It is not a stuffed panda, or fine wine to share openly as a prize, but a keepsake to fold into your wallet for safe keeping for fear it might sour with overexposure.  Like a mother’s womb, it is not intended as a warm cubby hole to hibernate forever.  Its sole purpose is to prepare for what is to come – to open eyes to the truth that two are better than one.  First love is training wheels on your first bicycle; the first cross you bear; the first callous on your heart.

Sweet as cherry blossoms in spring as it may be, nuzzling the fuzz on that first peach is meant as a personal curio to be placed on a sheltered shelf out of the way when done.  After all, it is charity, a gift, not intended for flaunting.  Unfortunately, human nature does not always allow first love to be treated as such; it will not permit it to be dignified by fading softly until vanquished respectfully and honestly.  No, we dig up the bones, cover them with wisps of Camelot and roses, regurgitate a surreal fleeting experience that never was as we wish to remember it.

Those first palpable pricks of the heart linger in a shadowy recess of the brain reserved for what might have been, what never was, and what we wish, want, and believe to be.  Its memory is the byproduct of an underdeveloped flap of grey tissue that utilizes spotting sparks of corkscrewed energy spitting from a humping brain stem to fabricate superficial intrigue and horny syrupy sweetness for a fleeting delusional moment in our lives.  We hold to that moment with a fondness reserved for high school pranks and fetching our own switch for Mama to tan our backside.  Those good old days and memories we sweeten with saccharin.

That most people are indebted to a name they only speak in moral seriousness is without question.  That they are ensnared deep within a constantly gentrifying lair of sugarcoated indulgence of half-truths is also without question.  In the name of first love, they allow themselves to be imprisoned by plain prose exuding romantic mediocrity blinded by sunlight caught in crystal windows.   Their reason is intermittently waxed incomprehensible; they are blinded or at least enveloped by a fantasy shrouded in essentialist qualities of love – a fantasy inseparable from reality.

A charity of nature designed to unlock hearts and open souls to the beauty of the human bond, first love should be smiled upon and thought of tenderly for its intended good.  It should not be allowed to fester into a gauzy distraction or a model holding all future love accountable.  It was never intended to be idolized or placed on a pedestal that might bring the adoration of future love into question, nor was it ever intended as a gauge for future romantic relationships.  First love is a foyer to a greater room; it is simply the beginning of the grandest adventure of all – love.  It is practice for the real thing to come; it was never intended as a prototype of the real game.

JL

©Jack Linton, February 9, 2018

Henny Chicken’s Escort Service:  A Story with a Moral

Henny Chicken left her job after working nineteen years for KFC corporate.  She had thought of leaving many times, but each time she was about to pull the plug, she moved up the pecking order, and edged a little closer to the proverbial wire ceiling.  It was different this time though!  She had endured her tail feathers being stroked for the last time, and hush promotions to ease her squawking no longer mattered.  Just once, she would like to move up the corporate ladder for what happened from the neck up, rather than the neck down.  The paper promotions resulted in slight improvement, but in some ways set her up for even more harassment.  The bosses looked at her as willing to do whatever to get a promotion, and the rest of the employees looked at her as a chicken lipped Jezebel sleeping her way to the top.  She loved her job, and did not want to leave, but what else could a hen do?  Being treated and thought of as less than a chicken stuck in her craw, and made her miserable.  All she wanted was to work and live in a place where a chick could cross the road and not have her motives or gender questioned.

The cutesy office breast and leg jokes grew old even if breasts were the foundation for the company and her pension.  She simply could not take being considered a piece of meat any longer.   Scratching out a living for chicken feed instead of living off her fluffy corporate paycheck would be difficult, but for a new life, she knew she was up to the challenge.  Besides, she couldn’t wait to see the company struggle without her; after all, the rooster may crow but the hen delivers the goods.  KFC would be a chicken with its head cut off without her.  So, Henny built up her nest egg, and flew the coop to set out on her own.

The first morning after leaving her job was the best.  She slept until noon, dressed like a stinking sloppy crow, and relaxed all day on her balcony.  Wrapped in the warmth of sunshine and her new life, she couldn’t believe how free and renewed she felt.  It was an incredible feeling!  No roosters interested more in what was under her feathers than what was between her ears; no obligatory seductive cackles to massage rooster egos; and no constant greasing the skillet to keep peace!  The only time her tail feathers were ruffled was when she scratched.  What more could she ask for; her new life was simply heaven.

Unfortunately, outside her modest coop, the same was not true.  To her surprise, the outside world was more twisted than the corporate world.  She could not walk past a street corner without hearing a breast, thigh, or leg joke.  Unlike the office, on the street there was no pretentious cutesiness, it was strictly hard core, and there was no promotion if she was offended, which of course she was.  At least the roosters at work engaged in a certain amount of quality control, and treated her to her beak like a real chicken.  All the cock-a-doodle-doos she met now were interested in was tenderness, juiciness, and flavor as if she was a USDA commodity.   Bottom line, they were only interested in the amount of usable lean meat on her carcass.  The cool cat raccoons and possums were the worst of the lot.

Her social life also suffered.  Engaging in hen parties with friends from her old job was not fun anymore since she was no longer privy to the latest greatest gossip from around the feeding and water troughs and had little to share.   Even the chick flicks she at first attended twice a week left her feeling violated and used since they were nothing more than a banty rooster on a June bug story.  She also found going to the Cock of the Walk with her girl-hens for cocktails was no longer as much fun.  She had nothing in common with her old friends, and new friends were as hard to find as hen teeth.  The only bright side was she no longer had to put up with the cock and bull of the workplace.

One morning, after a less than fun night out, Henny woke and went for a long walk.  She had to admit that her new life had turned out to be egg on her face, she was still miserable, and KFC was doing wonderfully without her, which left her with little to do but brood.  After a while, she noticed a possum and armadillo following her.  From the look in their eyes there was little doubt they thought she looked finger licking good, so Henny picked up her pace.  She walked around the block several times hoping to lose them, but with each lap they gained ground until they were virtually parting her back feathers with their breaths.  But, she was not hatched yesterday; she knew exactly what to do.  She crossed the street.  Not thinking, the possum and armadillo followed her, and were immediately flattened by a Sanderson Farms chicken truck, proving once again that unlike a chicken some creatures indeed cannot cross the road.

Roadkill always made her feel safe and at ease, but there was also a slight tinge of sadness.  She couldn’t imagine living a life confined to one side of the road.  Being so cooped up would have driven her crazy.  At that moment a light clicked on in her head.  There was no time draining incubation period; the most marvelous idea of her life merely hatched!  It was a made from scratch idea that would allow her to finally come home to roost.  Instead of being subjected to constant poppycock as she was in her old job, she would rule the roost.  She might have to wing it at first, but the more she thought about it, the better she liked her idea.

Two years later, Henny was the talk of Egg Street.  She not only manipulated her idea into a multibillion dollar enterprise, but she bought KFC and opened a line of fleece and feather lined lingerie as well.  However, the kingpin of her financial kingdom remained embedded in that one brilliant roadkill inspired idea known to investors as HES and globally as Henny’s Escort Service for Potential Road Kill Victims.  For the first time in the history of the world, raccoons, possums, and armadillos could travel anywhere they chose safely.  Henny’s only stipulation other than getting paid was raccoons, possums, and armadillos had to swear off ruffling tail feathers, breast and thigh jokes, and other obnoxious behavior toward hens.  As for, boastful strutting harassing roosters, the business world followed Henny’s lead and stripped them of their management positions and relegated them to assist at diaper changing stations in public restrooms.  As for Henny, she slept until noon every day, dressed like a stinking sloppy crow, and relaxed all day on her penthouse balcony reading, For Whom the Chicken Crows, which of course she wrote.

Moral of the Story:

With a cool head and imagination, it is possible to make chicken salad out of chicken poop.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 6, 2018