Category Archives: murder

Loss of a Fine Crime Novelist: age 94

Standard

Famed detective crime novelist, P. D. James passed away peacefully

in Oxford, England on Thursday. This was in America, Thanksgiving

Day- Phyllis Dorothy James White lived from August 3, 1920 until

November 27, 2014. I had always been fascinated by Phyllis’ personal

life details. She had some similar paths which I had taken, eldest of

three children and having been on her own for quite some time. Her

husband, Ernest C.B. White and she had married while she was 22

years’ old, so had I.

From her father’s civil servant position, to my father’s government

job, the differences became much more apparent when she grew up

to age 16. Phyllis left school at the Cambridge High School for Girls,

choosing jobs at hospitals. When her husband went off to join the

war, (WW II) she had children. The obituary says she had two girls

along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I had just mentioned to someone in my comments’ section that P.D.

James had re-imagined a sequel to the wonderful “Pride and Prejudice,”

with Jane Austen’s characters, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, having become

estranged from her sister and husband, they were arriving through the

woods to a Ball planned. Murder in the forest, led her sister’s husband

to be accused while Elizabeth worked on solving the mystery. This

was on PBS “Masterpiece Theater,” in October, I believe.

While Phyllis’ husband was a doctor, Phyllis became a medical

administrator with the National Health Services in England. Phyllis

took three years to write her first book, “Cover Her Face,” which may

make some take comfort in their own writing and publication pursuits.

Her next three crime novels, focused in on medical terminology, hospital

setting and procedures.  In 1963, “A Mind to Murder” had these medical

details, along with 1971, “Shroud for a Nightingale,” which had realistic

plot line, and the last medically based novel, “The Black Tower,” included

the hospital setting. Certainly, Phyllis D. James White utilized her 19

years of being an administrator to her advantage in crime-solving.

 

P.D. James wrote thirteen novels about murder and mystery, seven of

those books became part of “Mystery!” series episodes on PBS. Adam

Dalgliesh, her most familiar character, was a Detective of Scotland Yard.

His introspection and inner poet made this him a complex and intriguing

man.

When her husband, Ernest, died, she was only 44 years old and she spent

the next 50 years beloved by family but never remarrying.

 

We shall all be mourning the loss of P.D. James. We may be happy that

her life was filled with many years of successful parenting, writing along

with contributing to England’s National Health Service with her fine

even-handed administration.

 

A life well led, she included a sense of humor in her personal interviews.

P.D. James’ favorite line was that from childhood on, after hearing the

old Nursery Rhyme of,  “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty

had a great fall. . .” Phyllis said, “When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty

fell off the wall, I immediately wondered, ‘Did he fall or was he pushed?'”

 

How fortuitous, or showing quite some premonition, to the craft of her

morbid story-telling. P.D. James was one of my favorite female authors

who could draw me into her webs of complex characters and dynamic actions.

Her ability to continue pursuing learning, outside of schools, along with her

accomplishing so much after leaving academia at age 16, all make P.D. James

a fascinating woman who should motivate us all.

 

Murder with No Remains

Standard

Sometimes, despite all the pleasant thoughts of the day, we find ourselves contemplating

some dark and dangerous ones. I was so intrigued at work, watching my good friend and

coworker, Mark C. emptying the combustibles into certain designated large metal barrels.

These containers are sometimes full of gasoline type liquids, never to be mixed with other

ones. He wears a rather strange goggles contraption (a mask with a filter in place), helping

protect his lungs from gaseous vapors. Other containers have fluids taken from a variety of

damaged containers. Liquids that remove dirt and stains, flammable cleaning components,

along with others which are oil based. I have written a rather awful, atrocious story here.

In all fairness, “Sweeney Todd” and “The Little Shop of Horrors,” along with many other

gruesome tales have rumbled around my mind. Setting my story partially in the warehouse

where I daily work, along with the rural country areas, is what textbooks for writing say,

“Use what you know.”

 

I used to travel down roads to remote homes, with my teaching assistant, Karen, for our

bi-annual visits with families. I hope these elements help to make my story seem ‘real.’

 

One eerie and chilling day, we went to a one-main-street (if it had been out West, you

could have called it a “one horse”) town. This was a small blink of a place, where no one

appeared to be home.

On her home visit form, the mother had suggested if she and her child weren’t in their

trailer, to venture down the lane to another location. When a hound dog howled, into the

soundless air, just as we both noticed someone peeking out from behind their curtains,

we both jumped! We each exclaimed the feeling of the town being “haunted” (her reaction)

or “This could be a Stephen King setting” (my reaction).

This may be the ‘seed’ that was planted, as part of my ‘inspiration’ which germinated into

the following macabre story.

 

By pressing “Publish,” this holds my own original thoughts and I would appreciate if you

would contact me, before you re-blog this. Here is a piece of my own wicked mind.

 

“Murder with No Remains”

Weary from working with the various poisonous smells, pouring different liquids into

the huge funnel, Mark got into his truck. He had a lot of responsibility facing him upon

his return to his home. He turned on the radio station to Mansfield’s 93.3 which plays

mostly ‘easy listening’ music.

He was trying to drown out the demons in his head. He was slightly irritated by the

incessant chattering of the girl that works above him in the Aerosol Room. The Bomb

Shelter was a dark and cold dungeon of a place, where there was little warmth to comfort

him. Mark was trying to figure out why that woman even bothered to talk to him.

 

His train of thoughts had been keeping him company all day,

“I mean, she gave me her phone number almost a year ago. When I didn’t use it to call

her, couldn’t she get the hint?”

She was not his type. . . Too talkative and self-centered.

” I think she should just walk out on me, like the other women in my life. I just wish she

would walk on by me, like the people usually do.”

His further thoughts remembered her recent comment to him,

“‘You represent the Gold Standard for me to hold men up to.'”

“Ha! I am sure this is not what most people would think if they were to read my mind. . .

Strange, but most people thought he gave off such a trusting ‘vibe.’ It has not gotten me

very far in this world, me with the boy next door look,” his thoughts smoldering in embers.

 

Then, his thoughts transferred to another subject. A regular occurrence that may have

come today; the wonderful Schwan truck. Oh, how he loved entering the freezing cold

garage to find his designated location for Schwan food products to be stored- filled with

his favorite foods. On the cooler he left a check taped to the top, to cover the amount for

the products that he and Mother would consume.

 

“I hope they had enough of the Peanut Butter Crackle ice cream and did I order two or

three boxes with fried chicken breast strips? I will get the fire started in the fireplace,

go get my shower and hopefully, Mother will hold off on her wanting something. That is

what I hate about going home. The first bell I bought for her. It should have been ‘good

enough’ for her. But, no, she insisted that it was too ‘tinkly-sounding’ and ‘more like one

rung in children’s church school.’ So, she made me go purchase a large cow bell, which is

most annoying. I feel like she overdoes her bell ringing and wish she would realize how

hard my days are.”

 

“I have the edges of a migraine headache coming on,” Mark thought. He turned the silly

song with Tony Orlando and Dawn singing, “Knock Three Times on the Ceiling,” off.

 

“Ah-h-h! Peace and quiet.”

 

Suddenly, a deer ran out in front of Mark’s truck, which caused him to squeal his

skidding tires, along with sliding on the icy road. Dodging the path of the deer, he

stopped on the precipice of a large ditch.  Mark watched the deer gracefully bound

over the snow fence that ran along the other side of the ditch.

 

“Good thing I got those new tires at Goodyear,” Mark sighed in relief.

 

Then his mind wandered off to Mother again. He smiled a kind of sickly smile, he

was a little amused with the thought of ‘poor helpless Mother,’ lying there ringing

her big, old cow bell and no one to answer her frantically, desperate clangs.

 

“Wonder how long it would have taken for someone to go to the house, after

my death, if the deer had impaled me, through the truck’s windshield?”

 

Sometimes, after four hours of having to run up the stairs to help her, getting her

things, Mark felt like he could strangle her.

 

Mark’s guilty conscience brought him up short, out of the gloomy thoughts that

often accompanied any thoughts of work or home. The migraine’s pain throbbed

his head and he was nearly nauseous,

 

“Not sure if I am about to throw up because of the near death experience or

because of the thoughts of Mother being left alone. . . no one to bring her food,

no one to change her Depends, no one to clean her body and turn her in the

middle of the night so she would not have any bed sores.”

 

It would be days before his sister would come by, since she had given up helping,

never able to fulfill Mother’s request to the perfection that Mark had gotten her

accustomed to.

 

If there were a song playing and his head didn’t hurt too much, he felt that the

one which encompassed his caregiving skills would be,

“Nobody Does It Better.”

 

“Hmm… what is that James Bond song?” As Mark drove down the country lane,

with the rocks making abrupt bumps pounding into his brain, he pondered on

what the movie where James Bond had had this in the beginning.

Later, while he had completed all of his household duties, Mark sat by the fire and

opened up the last book of a trilogy he was reading. When the first clang of the cow

bell of the night came, he knew what it meant. He went into the kitchen and scooped

up one scoop of ice cream into a bowl. He grabbed the little spoon he used to feed

Mother. This was one he had bought for his nephew who used to visit. Then, later,

his grandnephew had used it. This was the best one to feed his Mother. Nothing

fell out of her mouth this way. Mark hated to have to change her clothes again, so he

grabbed a new bib to put on her.

“Like a little bird,” Mark thought of the way her old, wrinkled and puckered mouth

opened up for her bites.

By the time the migraine pain pills were working on his headache, he had heard

the bell’s ring 8 times. Something shifted in Mark’s mind, something creeped into

his thoughts. The fire had made him think of the leaves piled up outside, where

he could add a few pieces of lumber to them. He could make a huge bonfire.

As he walked up the steps, Mark plodded slowly.

“If someone could read my mind now, they would not believe what this quiet

man holds inside himself. I have thought of times where I could use the rat

poison from the barn in Mother’s food. I have thought of an easier way, I could

let her slide down under the water, looking away and ‘accidentally’ she might

drown. I imagine a phone call diverting my attention from her, explaining this

was all an accident.”

Oh, there is one other way I contemplate all day long. It would be the best way.

I have this planned out in details.”

 

Mark felt a lift in his mood, jubilant that the release would be in less than an

hour.

 

Mark’s step was lighter and he started to almost run up the stairs to Mother’s

bedroom. The time flew quickly by, as he smothered her with the pillow. He

counted the allotted time which he had studied and practiced in his mind. He

wrapped her up in the blanket. Such a tiny package and light weight to carry. Then,

once again he made sure she was not moving, unrolled the bundle to check. He

decided to kiss her one more time on her cool, papery cheek.

 

The body was light as a feather, as he ran down the stairs.

When he got to the bottom, he unwrapped her one more time, took her dental

plate out of her mouth. He stopped to think about what he could do with it.

He scolded himself for not figuring out this detail ahead of time,

“Would it melt?”

Then, Mark got his coat, gloves, hat and scarf on. He was ready for this, it was

long overdue.

 

He picked her up roughly, “After all, she can’t feel a thing now.”

 

As he hurried out the door, he started to whistle. It was strange but not one bit

of guilt slipped through his mind. His mood was lifting, part of his daily torture

was over.

Mark built the bonfire, stacking tinder under the logs, since he was uncertain if

the leaves were dry enough to ignite.

 

Everything fell into place, not one bad move. The rest was a ‘piece of cake.’

In the later hours of the night, he would get up. Mark had set his alarm clock. He

knew how long the fire would rage, how long it would take till the bones would

snap and become mere splinters, ashes and soot.

 

He had ‘cremated’ his dog, when Buddy had passed away. He remembered how

long it had taken him to get over the death of his faithful hunting hound dog.

Somehow, he didn’t feel he would have any problems getting over the death of

Mother.

 

Sifting through the ashes, he found little bits of bones, he put these into the first

large freezer ziplock bag. The burnt chips were easily gathered, using his gardening

spade and put into bags. He had barely one and a half bags full of her remains.

He laid down to sleep a restful couple of hours more, jumping up when the alarm

went off. Made his toast and coffee, packed his lunch box and left on time. There

was blissful silence in the house.

 

Mark turned on the rock and roll station while he drove into work, tapping his hand

to the driving beat of AC/DC and feeling quite rejuvenated.

 

At the security check point,  he opened his lunch box to show Len, the Security Guard,

the top layer of his lunch box. He did not bother lifting the sandwich, apple and chips.

Instead of his food items lying upon his usual blue freezer pack,  they rested on top of

Mother.

 

When the Aerosol Girl went to her first break, he walked over to his lunch box, took

out his drink and opened it. He rustled around his lunch box to find his straw. He took

a long draw through the straw of Coca Cola. He then took the can, along with the two

ziplock bags over to the large drum of  most toxic chemicals. He had left the large

funnel set carefully on top. He put the pop down and opened the first bag, the ashes

drained easily through the funnel, siphoning down smoothly. When the little brittle

pieces of bones came, he grabbed the straw and poked them through the hole in the

funnel. He had chosen the barrel with full contents, took the lid and screwed it shut.

He hammered it a bit to make it ‘secure.’

Mark  went over to his desk, grabbed the labels that indicated both “Toxic” and

“Flammable” with its skull and crossbones image.

Mark plastered the two large stickers on the blue metal barrel.

“All that is left of Mother is ‘goo,’ he thought.

He went back to work in his small area of the warehouse, whistling.

Tomorrow, since it was a longer day. . .

He would come home and report Mother wandering and missing.

 

He imagined his sincere, most innocent expression on his face as he would

pronounce the words,

“I don’t have a clue where she may have gone off to.”

 

From his pocket, as an after thought, he went to a second big container,

unscrewed the lid and shoved her dental plate into it.

After that, he dumped a few extra jugs of the oily solution into it.

 

With a resounding thump of his hand, not unlike a pat on the top of his coon

dog’s head after he chewed up one of Mother’s slippers, he finally went back

to his daily procedures.

 

“The End”

 

 

 

Accolades for Malala

Standard

There is something to be said about letting words speak for themselves.

Andrea Levy, Cleveland Plain Dealer journalist and artist, blends these

two skills into incredible stories. The whole page is filled with lines,

varied from gray, black and red bold strokes. These represent all those

unknown faces in a large crowd.

All of us.

I return to her words, transfixed.

 

This has been on my refrigerator for some time now, about Malala

Yousafzai. She is indomitable, showed nerves of steel, faced her death

undaunted and walked away. She is not unscathed, but she overcame

her enemies, endured suffering and lived.

 

If each of us had only 1/100th of Malala’s humble spirit and strength

of convictions, just imagine how changed the world would become.

 

Please read this:

 

“A Face in the Crowd

She’s young, but her scars are not. At 17, she seems to be going on 5,000.

Utterly mesmerizing. In fact, if you look closely, she’ll capture you, and

against your wishes just might awaken memories of your other long-

buried lifetimes. For oppression is an ancient story.

However, I think hers is a face we might rather ignore. A face that looked

directly into the Taliban gun that shot her. A gun that shot her in the face,

on her school bus in Pakistan. A face shot for demanding education for

girls. A child bloodied for daring to have a voice. Shot for speaking

empowering words that seem to leap from the same river from which

other peacemakers have drunk:

‘I believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only

educating our minds but our hearts and souls.’

Malala Yousafzai stands up in our landscape of terrorism.

I can feel her courage pushing at my own inaction.

She makes me wonder what I might be willing to die for.

The child claimed the fight and acted.

She has held her head high for all to see.

And, at 17, she now holds the Nobel Peace Prize as well.”

 

by Andrea Levy

(Opinion Art Journalist)

If you are interested in following her Opinion Art blog, you may go to

Cleveland.com/andrea.levy or find Andrea’s page on FB: Levyart.

 

Musical note suggestions for the Nobel Peace Prize winner and for

our own hearts to rejoice in Malala’s becoming a survivor:

1. If you wish to listen to “Peace Train,” by Cat Stevens, it may just complete

your day.

2. “From a Distance,” I like the Nanci Griffith version (1987), as well as

Bette Midler’s.

3. “Imagine,” John Lennon’s song embraced the world with its pure message.

 

 

Tony Came and Left Me Breathless

Standard

The 68th Tony Award Ceremony held plenty of outstanding, shining exhibits

that were thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Some name-dropping and

my overall impressions will ensue, if this is not your ‘cup of tea,’ don’t worry,

skipping this is totally understandable!

Hugh Jackman utilized comedy and hopped, literally, from one famous person

to another, on his path into the auditorium. He passed, “Sting” along the way.

He was one of a few that got singled out, in performances, since he ended up

sitting in the front row.

The scene shown from the musical, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,”

was exhilarating and you would have enjoyed this trio. The man caught between

a blonde haired woman, who he would like to marry, and a brunette he enjoys her

company, standing in a hallway, leaning into one room to sing and then the other,

was quite amusing. Juggling two women, reminded me of the way Shakespeare’s

“Comedy of Errors, ” can bring the audience to roaring laughter.

From the audience, Tyne Daly, never looked more radiant. She has chin length

blonde toned white hair with her smile lighting up the room along with her golden

dress.

Set designs and costumes were all presented beautifully.

The man who played, “Genie” character in the musical, “Aladdin,” won and his

show-stopping performance on stage showed he truly earned “Best Supporting

Actor” in a musical production. He had the audience clapping to the song, giving

the rhythm and capturing the man’s enthusiastic energy.

The scene from “Cabaret,” was bawdy and well-choreographed. The image of Joel

Grey’s portrayal of the “Host” that ‘welcomes you’ to “Cabaret,” floats into my mind.

The actual line is done in German, so it is “Wilcommen…” In the reprisal of this

musical, Allan Cummings performed in the position of “Host,” on Broadway.

“Best Supporting Actress” was earned by an actress portraying a character in “The

Raisin in the Sun.” Sophie Okonedo made a joke about her cultural heritage and ‘the

chance’ the director took on her being able to play an American woman in that

period. I have seen the movie and also, the play on stage. It was remade recently,

for a television version. Always a thought-provoking period piece that depicts a part

of American history.

The “Best Actress” Tony was given for the sixth time to the same woman, making

Audra McDonald a ‘record breaker.’ She was playing Billie Holliday, in “Lady Day

at Emerson’s Bar and Grille.” Her singing is effervescent and gives me chills. After

I listened to her singing, I feel she certainly deserved to take home “Tony.” I loved

the credits she gave to her family and the memorable female singers, actresses, and

poetess who came before her. This is the essence of Audra McDonald’s speech:

“Thank you to my parents who did not medicate me for being hyperactive, but

instead persuaded me to explore acting in the theatre. I give honor to the women

who I am standing on their shoulders: Lena Horne, Maya Angelou, Dionne

Carrole, Ruby Dee and of course, the legend I was fortunate to portray, Billie

Holliday.”

The competition was thick for both the best actor and actress roles. The “Best

Actor in a Dramatic Play” went to Bryan Cranston. I predicted this one! So far,

this is the only one that I felt I knew ahead of time, I just ‘knew’ he would win,

if you have not seen a clip of his portrayal of LBJ in the play, “All the Way,” please

check him out! Awesome job and it is a fascinating piece of history, where he

had to take the Presidency, immediately after JFK was shot. He was the one

who should get a lot of credit, for getting the Civil Rights Bill passed, among

other great accomplishments. That Texan drawl that Bryan Cranston does

is very similar to the original.

Ru Paul, as a man, introduced “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” scene. He looks

great these days, he is one of the most famous trans-gender, cross-dressing

men in theater. Ru Paul says the play encompasses ‘love and acceptance’

for all choices in lifestyles. He has probably won a few awards in his lifetime.

This scene incorporated a pulsing, fast-paced rock ‘n roll beat, “Sugar Daddy,”

sung by Neil Patrick Harris, looking unrecognizable in his long blonde wig, his

short skirt, hose and tall pump shoes. N.P. Harris engaged actively with the

front row audience, taking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses off and leaning into

Sting and then, bouncing on his lap!

Kenneth Brannaugh, the fine British Shakespearean actor, announced the

nominees for “Best Playwrights.” I liked Kenneth Brannaugh in the movie

leading role in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

The dramatic play, “All the Way,” won for “Best Playwright.” The actual

play writer was not there to accept the award, so the two producers, including

Robert Shanken accepted it. He reminded the audience of the tense political

atmosphere in 1964. He called passing Civil Rights bill,” seemingly impossible”

and  gave his own personal summary of the way he felt about class structure:

“Those people who have more money take, at the expense of those who have

nothing and feel good about it.”

There was humor shown in the two plays that showed scenes from, “Casa

Valentina,” and “Mothers and Sons.”

Wayne Brady, comedian and also, improvisational artist, introduced, “Violet,”

with a riveting and rhythmic song, “As I Travel On.” It had the pulse and

emotions of the “Gone, gone, gone” song and the “Cups” song sung by Anna

Kendricks. This had a really ‘current’ sound to it, which would carry over

well on the radio. This led into a revival and rousing gospel song. The story

line is intriguing about a young woman, Violet, who has a disfigured face,

due to an accident, seeking a ‘miracle’ to help her with her face and life.

The scene from “Wicked,” which has the two sisters, Glinda the Good Witch

and the Wicked Witch singing a duet was quite touching. I had seen some

clips of the musical but truly had never heard the entire song before. It

is the ending song, “Because I Knew You,” which includes the line,

“I have been changed for the better”…. then after it has been sung several

verses later…”I have been changed for good.”

I read that huge volume called, “Wicked,” which I passed on to my oldest

daughter and she still takes it out and reads a chapter or two. It is longer

than almost any book that I have read, including, Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace.”

Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. But there is a LOT of story about the two

sisters, years in the making, until the happily ever after conclusion that has

this lovely song, with two excellent women singing it. The musical, “Wicked,”

celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Carole King came out and joined the singer, Jessie Mueller, who portrays her

younger self. I am very pleased to tell you that Carole King impressed me with

her “natural woman” look; her curly, blondish-white hair, her medium build

in a white silk blouse with black trim and black slacks. No plastic surgery, not

even sure her hair has dye in it. She looked amazing for her age! The musical

play, “Beautiful” incorporates Carole King’s life and her music.

She mentioned before her performance, that she did not go to the opening

nor was she ‘too crazy’ about seeing someone portray her.  She says the story

has heartbreak in it, which she was uncertain she wanted to ‘relive this.’She

finally did go to the theater and expressed gratitude for the way the play was

written, her character was portrayed and the presentation of the songs, too.

She highly recommends the musical, of course!

The best performance of the night, for me, was Carole King with Jessica

Mueller singing, “I Feel the Earth Move…(under my feet)” The audience all

stood up, clapped to the rhythm and several famous people were singing

along, their lips moving and showing smiling faces, too. Loved this so much!

(I still have my “Tapestry” music engraved in my head, too!)

A clever and playful rap from the revival of “The Music Man,” was first

introduced by Hugh Jackman. He could do it all from memory, he said and

it is to a fast beat, too. Then, out came LL Cool J and “T. I.” to join him,

turning it easily into a very groovy rap song. This was another timeless

musical, many high schools, across the country, Hugh Jackman reminded

us, put this play on their stages. It is the song about “River City.”

The song that Sting sang, “The Last Ship,” was eerie and haunting, with an

Irish melody. It is telling a mournful tale that includes these snippets of

words, “dark, unholy sight,’ ‘halo of light,’ ‘Calgary Hill,’ and ‘May angels

protect me when the last ship sails.’ Also, describing the ship, ‘mountains

of steel makes its way to the sea.’

This was one of my top three favorite performances. Sting’s ship song was my

second favorite and my third would have to be the rap between LL Cool J,

Hugh Jackman and “T. I.” playing “The Music Man.”

The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama awarded it first Tony for an Arts educator.

This seemed appropriate since many of the acceptance speeches recalled the

teachers in drama, arts and music that had led them to seek their calling in

musical or dramatic theatre. One who had done this, Neil Patrick Harris said,

“When most people in my high school thought that sports were the way to

become popular, I had a special theater teacher, in New Mexico. For her, I

will always owe an extreme debt for her love of teaching and her love of drama.”

(He listed her name, if you look up speeches, I am sure you will find it out.)

Rosie O’ Donnell was recognized for her philanthropic donations to the Arts.

Best choreography went to “After Midnight.”

Best Orchestration went to “Bridges of Madison County.”

I enjoyed the scene with fighting from “Rocky” and the way, the actor yelled

out for “Adriane!” It was a very pleasant evening with the best times being when

I knew the songs and recognized the famous people in the audience.

Did anyone see the Tony’s Award Show?

What were some of your favorite moments?

 

 

 

Short Stories: Capsulized Life Images

Standard

When people get together in a school, with their class

led by a staff member or teacher, they sometimes collect

thoughts on paper, items that represent that time in space,

and store them in a nearly indestructible container. They

call these, “Time Capsules.”

I think when we read a good short story, fellow blogger’s

post or a short book, we are reading something, I just

gave a title to, “Capsulized Life Images.”

I wonder if it also, could be called, “Encapsulated Life

Images?”

I enjoy reading compilations of short stories by famous

authors. I recently completed Stephen King’s newer book

with his collection of four harrowing and creepy stories.

It is called, “Full Dark, No Stars,” (2010). It is not as

good as some of my favorites, like the one that inspired

“Green Mile,” and “Shawshank Redemption,” movies.

The first story, let me tell you, had me dreaming, in

nightmare form, about rats! Thanks, Stephen King!

The scary ‘classics,’ to me include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Edgar Allen Poe and Agatha Christie.

I have been thinking about the other genres of short stories,

which include family stories and humorous forays into

everyday life situations and how the author uses his or her

own perspective.

When I was reading short stories, in high school, I really

enjoyed our World Literature book. Someone had taken the

time, a team of staff, I suppose, to compile some of the

most unusual and interesting stories. One that ‘sticks’

in my mind, was titled, “The Scarlet Ibis.” This story was

written and published in the magazine, “The Atlanta Monthly,”

in 1960, by James Hurst. It is considered ‘rich in symbolism’

and it has a metaphor of the majestic yet fragile bird,

compared to a weak, sickly child. The one who is telling the

story, calls himself, “Brother,” and his younger, more fragile

brother is called, “Doodle.” Apparently my memory served me

very well, in this instance, since the story is included in

many compilations of short stories. It is a sad one, but well

worthy of reading (or re-reading) for its simple but memorable

style.

Humor, as a different genre, captures relatable stories of

family. Such as odd occurrences like in, “The Night The Bed Fell,”

by James Thurber. Thurber’s stories were expanded into a likable

television show, “My World… and Welcome to It.” I liked this

show, although they only had 26 episodes of it, starring the

fun loving, William Windom. He was a daydreamer, as some writers

seem to be, visualizing ways to make life better, or imagining

a whole different world.

Hey, have you ever read, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?” This

was released in movie form, in October, 2013. The movie is based

on a short story with the same name. Check out the story or the

movie to find out how an author transcends his time period of

his writing.

The short book, “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” by Jean Kerr,

contains images that capture your “Aha!” moments. Sometimes this

helps you to relate, despite the contrast between your life and

the one of being a career parent, (Jean Kerr was a playwright)

with rampant children loose in your New York apartment suite. This

became a television show, a song sung by Doris Day and a movie.

I like P.G. Wodehouse’s sense of humor, sometimes at the ‘expense’

of the upper class in England. Once you read his biography, you

realize why this is true. He was only three years old, a son of a

British judge in Hong Kong, when he was sent back to England to be

raised by a nanny. His dependence on servants, helped him to

develop a deep affection and respect for them.

Once P.G. or Pelham Grenville, also known as “Plum,” reached

school age, he was sent off to boarding school, where all his

holidays were spent with his two brothers and a series of aunts.

“Plum” developed a rather devoted habit of writing short stories

and essays. One biographer said he wrote ‘relentlessly’ in his

spare time. Good thing to remember, as we have heard this before,

great artists, craftsmen, musicians and authors, practice their

craft.

Writing and being a ‘cricketer’ (one who plays cricket) were his

only passions. He had a sharp tongue, got himself in serious

trouble while in Germany, on a radio show, making light-hearted

jabs at the ‘regime.’ Can you imagine ‘giving lip’ while WWII was

going on? Since this was during Hitler’s time of control, Wodehouse

was placed in an internment camp for over a year.

If you are trying to place P.G. Wodehouse, his books include the

character of “Jeeves.” There is a series of books and movies that

were taken from the books. The pictures he shows of servants are

smart and clever, able to manage households and help with his

character’s detective work, too.

The main character in his “Jeeve’s” series of books is Bertie

Wooster. He is a rather ‘spoiled’ rich young man, but tries to

be kind, helpful and be counted on, by his ‘pals,’ and women

who say they are engaged to him, he won’t confront them and

deny this! Lots of fun, some drunken incidents, and reminds me

of the impetus for the character,

In another book P.G. Wodehouse wrote, “Blandings Castle,” again

the servants are friends of the ones who are head of household,

the main characters are upper crust, who sometimes aren’t quite

as important as they think they are. He liked to ‘make fun’ of

the rich, along with business men and persons in the law. His

father being a judge didn’t prevent his getting into and out of

trouble. Reminds me of the stories of ‘preacher’s kids’ or P.K.’s,

who were the rabble rousers in our small town, growing up and in

Delaware, I knew one, too!

The subject being short stories, I would like to recommend the one

called, “Strychnine in the Soup.” He incorporates another kind of

interesting character, the strong-willed, independent, sometimes

older woman. These women can be sometimes, ‘troublemakers.’ In this

short story, Archibald Mulliner is the detective from a wealthy

family and Lady Bassett is the older woman.

Interestingly enough, A. A. Milne did not respect Wodehouse’s escape

from the internment, feeling that his wealth had bought him out

of it. There is a rather silly poem, where P.G. Wodehouse imitates

Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” style, but it is meant to be satirical.

I was excited to know many authors respect Wodehouse and that

Agatha Christie dedicated her book, “Halloween Party” to him.

In 1975, due to the WWII internment and his body of work,

Wodehouse was knighted, Sir Pelham Greenville Wodehouse. He

had written 15 plays, numerous books and collaborations for

250 songs in 30 musical comedies, with Jerome Kern and Guy

Bolton. Wodehouse died in that year of his knighthood, at age

93. A life well-lived, indeed. To me, his stories gave me a

‘window’ into a world I will never inhabit and made it quite

enjoyable.

The final thought I wished to impart is that when we speak of

writing, we include the hope for longevity. The writers of short

stories, listed here, and others you may already know and love,

all have captured our hearts by breathing life into their

characters.

ABC Award Post

Standard

Thanks to Mark B., I have another awards post to write!

I appreciate when my fellow bloggers give me nominations

for such great awards. I am one who likes the extra ‘pats

on the back,’ along with the evidence that someone, out

there, finds something in my writings.

You may check Mark’s blog for his well written movie

reviews, personal stories and a fine post for the

“ABC Award.” This stands for Awesome Blog Content.

http://markbialczak.wordpress.com

I have been working on my list of ABC’s that were supposed

to reveal even more about myself than anyone would ever

wish to know.

Instead, I am going to list using the alphabet, the names

of authors that I have read, enjoy reading and have interest

in their styles, genres, information and fictional stories.

If you survive my convoluted way of accepting my Award,

through my own way of following rules, you will find some

people’s blogs to read that I highly recommend and have

not included in any of my recent awards’ posts. Some are

almost ‘brand new’ to me, too!

Robin’s Recommendations of Authors in ABC Order:

A is for Alcott, Austen and Angelou.

B is for Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert

Browning and Frank Browning.

C is for Catherine Cookson, Stephen Crane and Lewis Carroll.

D is for Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

E is for Janet Evanovich.

F is for F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Ian Fleming.

G is for Paul Gallico and John Grisham.

I enjoy Sue Grafton’s books, that coincidentally are written

according to the alphabet! She started with “A is for Alibi,”

and I am a big Kinsey Milhone (her protagonist character) fan!

H is for Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dashiell Hammett, Alex Haley,

Langston Hughes and Joseph Heller.

I is for John Irving, Washington Irving and Henrik Ibsen.

J is for Erica Jong.

K is for Ken Kesey and Stephen King.

L is for Jack London, Harper Lee and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

M is for Margaret Mitchell, Margaret Mead, Herman Melville,

and Toni Morrison.

N is for Nietzsche, Robert Nathan and John Nichols.

O is for Edwin O’Connor and John O’Hara.

P is for Robert Parker, Edgar Allan Poe and Boris Pasternak.

The P Ladies I enjoy are Sara Paretsky an Jodi Picoult.

Q is for Anna Quindlen and books about Queen Elizabeth.

R is for Nora Roberts and Christina Rosetti.

S is for Shakespeare, Salinger and Steinbeck.

T is for Thoreau and Twain.

U is for Ulysses, Updike and Uris.

V is for Voltaire and Kurt Vonnegut.

W is for William Wadsworth and Alice Walker.

X is for Xeroxing the best of authors’ quotes.

There is an author named, Xu Xi, who wrote “Unwalled City.”

No, I did not read this person’s book.

Y is for Yeats and You.

Z is for Zelda Fitzgerald and Paul Zindel.

Here are the ‘new to me’ bloggers that you will enjoy

reading and finding out more about these folks:

1. Michael’s Poetry is interesting and varies daily

in subject matter. Originality is his forte!

http://purpleplatitudes.wordpress.com

2. It has been awhile, I think, since I have given

Marylin a nomination. As my mother grows more forgetful,

I search and find comfort in Marylin’s helpful articles

about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Her own personal letters

to her mother are very uplifting.

http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com

3. I have become closer acquainted with Cindy and really

wish you would go check out her beautiful sharing of her

trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The post I enjoyed was one

filled with gorgeous arches, called, “Los Hermosos Arcos

de San Juan.”

http://cindyknoke.com

4. For artistry, photography and splendid writing, please

check out Stacy Alexander:

http://artecalifornia.com

5. There is beauty in this country living blog, with spunk,

courage and the photography captures a friendly place to be:

http://hotrodcowgilr.com

6. Either she has re-vamped her blog, or I have not realized

that Soul Gatherings has been on my list of places I like to

read that long… for faith and ‘food for thought check this out:

http://soulgatherings.wordpress.com

7. Be With Us spreads joy and also, shares their handcrafts. I

enjoy when there is the puppy named Kerby, who is so sweet and

there are little captions of his thoughts. I have nominated this

blog, a long, long time ago. They are due for an update!

http://cloudsncups.wordpress.com

8. I have missed a few posts of this fine writer, but will

be checking her out more in the future…

http://waitingforthekarmatruck.com

9. Ajay, you have such wisdom and peace in your posts.

http://ajaytao2010.wordpress.com

10. Eda or Denisa Aricescu who shares poetry in another

language with photographs. You will find after translating

them, wondrous messages…

http://rosedeny.wordpress.com

Congratulations to the nominees of the ABC Award!

Hope you found an author or two that you have enjoyed in

my ABC list and also, find a current author and participant

in our blogging world!

Happy Reading!

Brief Ohio News Item

Standard

You may wonder why in the world is Robin writing a brief

Ohio news item? What is so important to break from the

heartwarming posts, stories and special finds to tell us

about a murder?

I wish to warn your family members to be extra cautious

if any should be in the profession of pizza delivery for

extra money. I have had many friends, of many different

ages and backgrounds, needing extra cash, and choosing to

deliver pizzas.

There was a 26 year old woman who may have been abducted

or had someone take her to a woods, there are not a lot of

facts about the reason for killing her, but she died last

night, Thursday December 26th. This was a young, friendly

single mother of two little children, a baby and a toddler.

This occurred in Muskingum County and her body was found in

Dillon State Park. State forensics team was there early this

morning and I am heartbroken, feeling sad for this young

mother who everyone has said, her photographs show a sunny

disposition and pretty girl face.

I hate to say this, but I would never want another woman to

take on this job! I think of endless creepy persons out there

who may choose to do awful things to the person, especially

in more desolate and remote areas.

They arrested her boyfriend as the alleged murderer, he is

“under suspicion.” I know it can happen to anyone, whether or

not they are driving up to stranger persons’ houses, and

like so many people who kill, the suspect is usually someone

you know. But, this story to me emphasized the danger in

this kind of position.

Those two precious children are now without a mother, just

one day after Christmas. It brings all of the other bad

things that happen in your own day, into perspective.

I do have many areas of the United States in my prayers

due to ice storms and other natural disasters. I still

continue to look at the horrible devastation in the

Philippines and keep them, also, in my prayers.

Over Christmas, a group of people in the Philippines, used

odds and ends, found in the rubble, to create a beautiful

Christmas tree. That made me think of how some people will

find the good in almost anything!

Leaving that small nugget to leave you hope…