Gripe #2

March 22, 2012

Since my last post was so successful I’m going to point out a few things that really stick in my craw…

Now, as a note about my previous post, I was serious. Most of the time they are just sad attempts at reaching out. But in some cases they are quite funny. Some of the pun work are pretty good. Everybody who speaks English should at least respect that. It may not bring them in through the door, but at least they may give a little chuckle. And that’s not a bad thing.

Now here is a short(er) list of gripes I have about some not-so-serious topics:

1. Moisture – Come on…when I’m in my house all you do is cause my pages in my books/magazines to wrinkle and help mold to grow in my windows.

Now that I think about it…

2. Mold – Freaking mold…I have that stuff show up in my window at least once a month. It’s like I live in a horror house. My luck I will get a serious disease thanks to this secretive pain…

(Que up the spam folder to fill up with “Prevent Mold in your Home!” messages.)

3. Poptart instructions – Three seconds in the microwave? Three? Are you kidding me? That doesn’t even do anything. Ten seconds minimum.

Now that I think about it…

4. Molten lava from over heated Poptarts – Why must you burn me so?

5. Feral cats –You don’t do anybody any good…You know who you are feral cats…

:::Looks in backyard and shakes fist with rage:::

6.  Slow mail delivery – I gots things to dos. Deliver my mail faster. Like my credit card statement which is strangely not showing up…

7. Fast food – If you advertise to be “fast” with the food you’re delivering…You should, in fact, be fast about it. I live in a town where there is a locally owned fast food restaurant. It’s delicious. It’s delightful. It’s amazingly fattening. It’s also a 20 minute wait at the drive through. Seriously… advertise yourself as “Diner style southern food”. Stop calling yourself fast food.

(Still worth the wait)

8. My own laziness – For obvious reasons. (This explains why I still haven’t earned that doctorate in Quantum Field Theory…)

9. My lack of understanding of Quantum Field Theory – For obvious reasons.

In a totally unrelated note, I may have something super-cool to share with you tomorrow. Maybe.

You have to finish your dinner first though…

D.A.

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A Letter (if you will)

March 21, 2012

I live in the southeastern U.S. 

When you’re driving down the road you can really tell. Not only are we incredibly flat and chock full of pines/oaks/and scrub brush (I speak for Florida), but we have some common roadside attractions. You can’t really go by many major intersections where you don’t find somebody trying to sell something (beef jerky is very common). You also find a Publix grocery store on most corners. BBQ restaurants are a common (and delicious) site. One may also noticed that they will drive by a huge number of churches.

All the church denominations are represented, but Baptist/Southern Baptist/Church of God are usually the most common.

Many of them share something else in common.

The signs out front.

As a Christian I see what they’re trying to do. Reach out to anybody who just manages to pass by. If you see something funny written (or an attempt at humor) then maybe you’ll think they’re a church full of funny people who will make you feel welcome if you walk in through the doors on Sunday morning. Or maybe you’ll scare people into thinking that they need to consider where they’re going to go when they die.

This is advertising. And I have a problem with advertising church. Not because I think it’s a crime against what God wants for us to do. Advertising isn’t inherently a bad thing. I just think it’s so ineffective that it ends up hurting a church more times than not.

But we live in a culture where advertising is so common place it rarely fails to make any clear impact on people who view it.

Some churches have the mindset of “Let’s reach out to the non-Christians and show them the way.”

This is the group of people that will put up a sign that says, “Live this day as if it were your last.” or “The end is nigh.” (I’ve never seen that last one, but you get my point). This group believes that they will only reach out to people if they point out that they are sinners and should be inside this church getting saved. (Ironically enough there is nobody inside the church at the time you pass this place by because it’s not Sunday or Wednesday, so good luck getting help with that)

The people who put up this sign probably think they are making an impact in the world. They’re not. I think they have the same mindset as the soapbox preacher.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that churches that advertise like this are only reaching out in this way because they didn’t have a congregation member brave enough to stand on the street corner.

It all boils down to the idea of preaching hell fire and brimstone, of which I’m a staunch opponent.

I always thought that the bible tells us to share the gospel to those who don’t believe. The “good news”. Nobody wants to here that they’re going to die and then be tormented for eternity. And they especially don’t want to hear anything about this if they don’t believe it to be true anyway.

What’s the solution? Well I’ll tell you.

Try actually talking to people.

Getting to know them.

Advertising on a sign isn’t the way to spread the Word of God. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get.

Do good things church. Just go out there and do good things. Lots of them. Not enough to stretch out everybody’s ability to do them. Do enough to make an impact.

Signs on churches should read: “Free dinner every weeknight from 5 – 7 p.m.” or “Food bank open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Everyday.” and maybe “Need somebody to talk to? Somebody is here from 1 – 3 p.m. every day.”

Somebody may actually read that and put themselves in hands and care of a church. Then the church can do exactly what it was ordained to do. Help those in need. Reach out and care.

Like I mentioned above, I have a problem with people advertising church. I don’t have a problem with people advertising what a church can do to help you out. It’s advertising a real service the church is providing for the community around it. Something anybody could be interested in, even if they don’t believe. Even if they’ve already been burned by a church before.

Now all we have to do is make sure churches are healthy enough on the inside so they can be capable of doing these things to edify the Church….

I’m done ranting,

D.A.

P.S. – I probably misspelled “churches” every time I tried spelling it. Today I learned that I have a problem of putting “r’s” before “u’s”.

The Man in Blue

March 20, 2012

(Author’s Note: This story is just a shell of what it should be. I completed the story parts…but decided I would save a much better edit until later. That means this is a very rough cut of the story I’ve been working on. Sorry it’s not more polished. I’m just a little too excited to share it I guess.)

The storm outside was relentless. The drops sounded like they were the size of quarters banging against the side of the once beautiful home. Now the unkempt home’s missing shingles allowed for a stain to grow in the northeast corner of the ceiling in the living room. James stared up at it as it grew during the duration of the storm.

He had been squatting in this house for the past four months. James did his best to hide from the neighbors but he was sure they knew. He didn’t speak to anybody and only stayed inside at night. One of his safe moves was to make sure he never used lights at night. It was a lonely place at night.

He only left during the early morning hours. During the day he would hang around the back of a Lowe’s closer to town hoping to get picked up by somebody for a day’s worth of work at a construction site. It usually didn’t work out. But the little money he did earn was usually in sweaty dollar bills and rolled up in a rubber band. Today was a wash out, so no work.

That’s why he had been sitting in his borrowed living room all morning trying to cook some Ramen Noodles on a small camping stove. It wasn’t working out too well. The last flavor packet had gone missing. How do you lose something when you hardly have anything to lose? James thought to himself. Today he would just have to settle with the flavor of hose water and plain noodle.

The little money he did earn was quickly sent off the pay for his growing alimony debt. He kept 50 bucks for himself when he could so he could scrape up some non-perishables from the store every couple of weeks, sometimes some propane cans when he was filling selfish.

If I only had more money. This was his daily mantra. He lived and died by these words, not that he had anybody to say these words to.

Thunder shook the house and made the windows rattle. James never liked thunder. When there was thunder there was lightning. He was terrified of lightning. It always brought up bad memories from his childhood.

As his pot of water started hissing, a knocking came form the front door. James passed it off as hail banging against the door.

James didn’t stop trying to stir his uncooked noodles. He looked back up at the stain on the ceiling. It had grown considerably in the past couple of hours. He thought about the idea that may need to ditch this place for another one soon. A different neighborhood always presented more problems. Maybe his future neighbors wouldn’t take kindly to the homeless moving in.

The knocks came again. This time they were much more rhythmic. James knew a person had to have done that. He left his noodles and snuck around the corner into the foyer. He tried peeking through a window for a car but didn’t see one.

Probably the police. I guess I overstayed my welcome. He pondered to himself.

“Mr. Harris?” came the muffled voice from outside.

A man in a blue suit stood under his porch. He had a weak smile and a fedora pulled across his brow hiding his eyes. The stranger looked like he was pulled out of the advertisement for cigarettes in the 1950’s. He was holding a briefcase that was handcuffed to his wrist.

This is weird. James thought to himself.

James opened the door timidly. “Yes. I’m here. What do you want?”

“I have something that was determined to be given to you.” said the man in a routine manner. He punctuated his sentence with the same passive smile that he wore before.

“What is it?” demanded James.

“Money. And lots of it.” the man stated with casual ease. He looked up to meet James’s gaze. He had dark eyes.

Bull. That was James Harris’s first thought.

“Bull.”That was also James Harris’s first reaction. He immediately felt like recanting his statement but he didn’t have a choice.

The man in blue shook his head. “You tell me.” The smile never left his face.

He pulled up the briefcase and unlocked it with a key he pulled from his breast pocket. When he opened his jacket James saw the holstered polished steel beneath it. The man in blue continued to open the briefcase displayed it packed neatly with stacks of 100 dollar bills.

“Holy-” James put his hand over his mouth the way an elderly woman shows shock at the sight of women in pants.

“That’s got to be close to a million dollars…” he finished his thought.

“Actually it’s 17.3 million.” piped the man in blue.

“Wow.” James continued.

“So are you interested in what I have to say?” chuckled the mysterious man.

“You may be my new best friend.” said James. I must be crazy. This can’t be happening.

“Fine then.” he gave a slight pause. “Would you mind if I stepped inside briefly?”

“Oh, yes.” said James, seemingly forgetting common courtesy. This guy must be soaked.

The man looked behind him at the storm with indifference as if taking notice of it for the first time. He turned back and smiled wryly. “That would be lovely. Thank you.”

They walked into the living room ignoring the storm outside. The man in blue stepped into the foyer without wiping his shoes on the old floor mat. James even noticed that the man didn’t appear to be wet at all. His shoes didn’t squeak on the marble floor. The man in blue turned and extended his unoccupied hand to James.

James returned motion and shook the man’s hand. Feels like this guy has had his hand in ice water.

The man in blue held the grip for longer than normal. “You’ve got a good grip there. You must work in construction.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks?” James stammered out. “So, what can I help you with?” he eyed the side of the man’s jacket with the gun.

“I’m sorry to intrude like this but I was told that you would be here at this time. Your place of residence looks…lovely.” said the man in blue.

“Oh, yeah, well…” James tried a little humor. “My place in the Hampton’s is still being renovated. So I just pitched my tent here, for now.” James never took his eyes away from the holstered pistol.

“I don’t have much time, so if it’s not a bother to you, I would like to get straight down to business. I think that’s the phrase.” stated the stranger.

“Yes, I think that’s the phrase.” James agreed sardonically. The storm outside was picking up. The thunder really made James feel the uneasiness in his stomach. He felt like something bad was going to happen.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be brief.” the man in blue unbutton his coat jacket, the gun now in plain sight.

“I’m going to ask you if you wish to participate or not. If you agree, you will get this briefcase and you can do whatever your little heart desires with it’s contents. If you disagree-” the man thought seemed to trail off. “Well, let’s just say you’re going to participate.”

James’ heard the threat clearly. He swallowed and responded. “Free money sounds like a good idea.”

“Great.”

The man in blue uncuffed himself from the money and latched it onto James. James contemplated objecting be decided it was in his best interests to cooperate fully. He also couldn’t stop salivating at the idea of all that money on his wrist.

Heck, if this guys going to kill me, I might as well die rich.

“There is, of course, one catch.” said the stranger. His eyes narrowed. “You will have six days to spend all of this money. You are expected to spend it correctly. If you fail to do so within the assigned time period-” the man opened his coat jacket to reveal the gun fully. “I’ll kill you.”

James swallowed hard.

“That’s it.” The man buttoned his jacket again and started toward the door.

“W-wait. You’ll just kill me if I don’t spend the money? And you’ll kill me if I spend it wrong?” he waited for a response from the man.

“Yes. You have six days as well. Don’t forget the six days part.”

James was trying his hardest to not evacuate his bowels in front of this mysterious stranger.

“How am I supposed to spend it the right way? You want me to give it to a charity or something? Why not do it yourself. Why am I being … chosen for this whole crazy scheme.” whimpered James.

“You said you wanted more money. Here’s your chance.” stated the stranger.

Can this guy read thoughts or something?  James wondered to himself.

“Actually, I can.” said the man in blue.

“You can what?” queried James. He felt like he was going to throw up.

“I can read your thoughts. I can also tell a lot of things about you James Allen Harris.”

Woah.

“Woah, indeed. I can also tell you that were the person I picked for reasons you can’t see right now. You’re just going to have to trust me. I haven’t picked a winner yet, but you might be the lucky one.” the man finished. He started walking toward the door.

“You mean everybody who’s done this has failed?” said James.

“It’s a shame to say it. But yes. They have all failed.” The man reached into his pocket and tossed the keys at James. “Catch.”

James didn’t move and the keys hit his chest and fall to the floor.

As the man in blue opened the door the wind from the storm kicked some rain into the foyer. The splashing from the eve above made it sound like a waterfall outside.

“Oh, and I’d hate put you out like this, but you should probably use some of that money to replace these windows.” said the man ignoring the torrent outside.

James looked like a bewildered owl. “Windows?” he inquired.

His question was ignored and the man in blue stepped outside and closed the door behind him. No less than than 3 seconds later lightning crashed just outside of the same door.

Glass shattered and the windows blew inward. James thought a bomb had went off and threw himself down to the ground covering his head with the briefcase.

For a moment the shock took away all memories of the man in blue. James opened his eyes half expecting this whole ordeal to be a hallucination but he felt the cold handcuffs around his wrist. When he picked himself up he raced to the door and threw it open. The rain persisted but the man was gone. Vanished into thin air. It smelled like flowers.

Only a small piece of paper lay on his porch. James picked up the sopping wet rag.

It read:

June 9th at 9:00 p.m. I’ll see you then.

P.S. – Sorry about the mess.

James forgot his fear of lightning and stood outside as more arcs bolted across the sky. He ran down the street not caring if the neighbors saw him.

Six days. 

The Man in Blue.

D.A. Bancroft

Sad Face…

March 19, 2012

Tomorrow…

For real…

Tomorrow…

D.A.

No Regrets

March 18, 2012

I have been very busy today. This means that story I mentioned will not be published today.

Sorry about that. Thing just happen sometimes. Sometimes those things work out to be pretty entertaining.

In terms of writing, the day wasn’t a total loss.

Yes, I did work on that story. Yes, I’m still very excited about it. I plan on waking up in the morning and finishing it.

But right now I need to watch the second showing of The Walking Dead finale because I missed the first…

Tomorrow…It’ll be done. Mainly because I am so amped up about it. Secondly, because I don’t have work…so I will be bored.

D.A.

Ideas

March 17, 2012

I got another short story coming. 

I didn’t plan it. It just showed up like an unexpected visit from an uncle that has that funny smell. Don’t get me wrong, you love him, he’s your uncle…but that smell. You know what I mean.

It’s one of those moments of Writer’s Non-block. If that’s a thing.

As a matter of fact the idea came to me at about 1 a.m. this morning. Like lightning….

Oh…you’ll see what I did there soon enough…

::Rubs hands together menacingly:::

So yes, this is a short post now telling you that I will have a longer (and hopefully a better) post tomorrow. I could have just surprised you with some productivity by displaying a new short story tomorrow. You would have made a double take. But I’m not going to use too much energy for this post. I’m in the writing mood. I’ve got the basic story down…now I just need to edit and make it better.

This additional brain usage will prevent me from making much more than that awesome pun you read above.

And a few notes: (in convenient listy goodness)

1. This will be more of a shorter story but it won’t be a flash fiction.

2. The reasoning behind this story is something I heard about writing. I’m not sure where I heard this but this is the idea.

There are two kinds of stories. One is a story of ‘The hero goes on a journey’. The second is ‘A stranger comes to town’. 

I like the idea of “a stranger comes to town”. It’s so mysterious. So cool. So here’s my take on that. A stranger comes to town.

3. It’s not going to be the most original idea ever…you’ve probably heard of a variation of it. But this one will be distinctly mine.

It’ll be called The Man in Blue.

For the Doubters

March 16, 2012

The fruits of my labor.

:::Takes deep and satisfying breath:::

The marble I have sent to Sweden has officially made it’s debut. The photos you see are courtesy of a Swede named Alba. (I think this would make a very good band name). She’s both a Viking and a ninja. That mixture means she is capable of a lot.

As a matter of fact, you should check out her site at http://elarra.tumblr.com/.

She has sent me some photos that I am allowed to share with you.

Check it out.

And another.

Yeah. That’s a marble on a frozen lake. And yeah, it’s thousands of miles away from where I live.

And just in case you are still doubting. I live in Florida. We don’t have many frozen lakes. So there.

:::Sticks out tongue:::

I’m so proud of this little marble. When he was growing up he was always talking about “making something of himself.” His father, the Marble King, had always treated him poorly. Even in front of distinguished guests.

Well I guess he finally got up the courage to take flight and leave the nest. He now resides under that very bridge in Sweden. (Only rarely does he complain of the troll neighbor).

Okay, none of that is true. Really though. Look at that. I sent a marble to Sweden and it actually made it.

I’ve sent out a number of marbles as of today and I hope I get photos that are half as awesome as these two.

Thanks again to Alba for allowing me to show the photos of my first marble to the European continent!

I guess this is as good of a time as any to inform you of the new page I’ve added to the side bar thingy over there —–>

It’s called “Marbles”, appropriately enough, and it will keep a running tab of the marbles I sent around the world. (As I get more pictures and goodies I’ll share those with you on that part as well.)

I should also mention that I am currently on Spring Break. And we all know what that means.

NAKED. ALL. THE. TIME.

Just kidding.

It means I will start to go stir crazy as I try to figure out what I’m going to do over the vacation period. Unlike most people, I don’t make plans too often, so I just end up doing whatever pops up. I will start to lose it when I realize I have nothing planned…and…I will get bored…

This brings up an odd point about vacation, but I’ll speak on that at a different time. For now I just want you to bask in the fruits of my labor. (That labor includes writing emails/letters/buying envelopes. Not much work really).

Still, it’s so cool.

I should also mention that the ramblings on this site should be picking up in quality and topic over the next…9 days…Because my job will become doing this. I will be living off of my laptop for social interaction.

Which brings up another topic about me being a introvert… but that’ll likely be another post sometime…

Maybe I’ll finish that lamp…Or that explanation of my views of religion and science…or that choose your own adventure novel…

Oh yeah…I guess I could write for my own book as well…

I guess we’ll just see what actually happens around here.

Now continue basking!

D.A.

As Ricky Would Say…

March 15, 2012

I got some ‘splainin’ to do.

So my short story (flash fiction) fell short of what I was hoping for. And that’s okay. It’s not good but at least I tried. I’ll get better.

It was rushed and put together poorly. Maybe I was trying to do too much in such a short space. Maybe I didn’t do enough. I’m not really sure, but I’m open to your opinion.

In my own defense I should say that this is not the story I intended to share with you yesterday. Yesterday’s story was … wow… I didn’t even know what I was thinking. So I bailed and gave you what you saw. And what you saw yesterday was just 10 times better than what you could have got.

At least I learned the wonderful skill of knowing when to bail. And I learned that it doesn’t bother you as much to throw away a shorter work than a little longer one.

Tomorrow will be a better day. Spring break begins here. A precious week of no work that I WILL waste away. But tomorrow I will post something breathtaking.

Really.

You’ll be flabbergasted.

D.A.

Bottoms Up

March 14, 2012

In the summer of 1974 I was in love.

Her name was Cynthia Herron. She had braces, red hair, and a slight overbite. A consummate beauty.

I jumped at the opportunity when she invited me to a party.

It was a pool party for her 11th birthday.

Everything would have gone according to plan had it not been for that diving contest.

I hardly knew how to swim, let alone dive, but if I wanted to win her hand (and I did) I knew I would have to meet any challenge.

We formed a line behind the board. All the girls watched us guys. They whispered their picks for winners. I was third in the queue.

First up was Tommy. He was built like a can of sausages. He flew like one too. A cannonball resulted in a big splash. Cynthia was not impressed.

The second was Aaron. He was shaped like a pencil that had been broken and taped back together. He went for the jacknife. There was a loud pop as his belly hit the water. It barely pequed her interest.

Finally I was up. My heart raced. If I wanted to win I needed to make sure that I won on perfect form. that would impress her.

So I went for the perfect dive.

I put my ten-year-old toes up to the edge of the board. It felt like I were staring down the side of a building. My head was dizzy. Time slowed to a hazy ripple.

I took a breath and closed my eyes. With a bend of the knees and a hop from my heels I went floating through the air. I felt ecstasy on my dismount. The tuning fork in my mind rang with peace. I knew I was going to slide right into that pool and come out to applause.

The perfect dive.

As I entered the water I could feel total freedom. The water rushed past my ears. The cold water gripped my body. I swam out a few strokes while under before I let buoyancy release me back to the surface.

I felt so confident.

Until I realized my swim trunks were floating next to me.

 

Bottoms Up – D.A. Bancroft

Been Writing a Little

March 13, 2012

Actually, it’s very little. But that’s the intention. I’m going to try my hand at a little “flash fiction”.

Why?

Well, why not? It seems like it would be a fun little exercise. Convey much with very little. That’s a concept I really enjoy. So I’m going to take my time with it and see if I can edit it into something that makes sense.

I don’t want it to be more than 300 words. And I think that’s about right.

So why don’t I go ahead a post it instead of talking about it? One simple reason. I’m very tired. I used up the last of my constructive capabilities just coming up with the tiny thing. Now, my brain (which looks more like an old prune you would find under a couch after you lost it there for a few years) is depleted. So I will edit that tiny thing tomorrow and maybe post it then.

That’s fair I think.

As a side note I should mention that I’m getting a little too regimented in how I write. When I write for you on this blog, I write in the first person. When I write a story I write in the third person. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to write a story in the first person. So I’m going to try and write this “flash fiction” in the first person.

We should always push ourselves right? Even if it is in very tiny and seemingly annoying for no reason at all.

As a matter of fact, If you have an example of excellent writing in the first person, point me toward it. I’m very interested in seeing how a master works in that medium.

Beddy Bye,

D.A.