Uncle Bardie’s World Famous School of Celebritology

BE FAMOUS FOR BEING FAMOUS

Do you have an inner Snooki trying to get out? Do you think that your inner Kim Kardashian hasn’t had a chance to shine? Do you think that the world is ready for another Paris Hilton and that Paris is you? Is your Justin Bieber wanting to come out and make a fool of himself? Well, guess what?

Uncle Bardie has News for you. He has decided to bring back his School of Celebritology. Over the years, there have been so many graduates, who have become world class celebrities, Uncle Bardie can’t name them. If he left one out, that person might feel slighted. Just take Uncle Bardie’s word for it. There have been many.

QUALIFICATIONS

Do you need to be talented? Absolutely not. In fact, talent could very well be your worst enemy to becoming a successful celebrity. Do you need to be rich? No, you do not. You could very well have learned all the wrong things if you grew up rich. Only one rich person has become successful as a celebrity and that’s Paris Hilton. And she had to earn her celebrity status the same way as all celebrities do. She had that moment in the sun. That fifteen minutes of fame.

So what qualifications do you need to attend Uncle Bardie’s World Famous School of Celebritology. None really. In fact, any qualification you might have could very well be a detriment.

WHAT YOU GET

All you need is $50 grand to attend. Then a degree from Uncle Bardie’s World Famous School of Celebritology is yours. With that degree comes with a Money Back Guarantee. You will get your Fifteen Minutes of Fame or you will get your money back. What you do with that fame is up to you. We can’t promise you more than fifteen minutes. But most of our alumni have taken their Fifteen Minutes and run with it. Only you can make it happen. But You Can Make It Happen.

COURSES

Here are some of the Courses you will take.

Paparazzi 101. Taught by Mister Paparazzi himself.

How Not To Be Invisible 101. Taught by The Show Offy Crowd

How to Make the Right Connections. Taught by Shirley Congeniality.

What To Wear And When To Wear It. Taught by P. J. Fashion.

How To Be The Center of Attention. (How Not To Be Invisible 201). Taught by Mister Ostentatious.

How To Appear Rich, No Matter How Poor You Are. Taught by More Money Than God

Interview 101: How to be interviewed and say absolutely nothing. Taught by the Interview Meister.

How To Comb Your Hair In Public. Taught by Mister Comb.

How To Get “It”. Taught by It.

As you progress through these courses, you will get opportunities to meet the famous and the near famous.

Uncle Bardie’s School of Celebritology School Song

Plus you could be one of those chosen to join Uncle Bardie’s School of Celebritology Chorale. Then you will get to sing our School Song at all kinds of events and award ceremonies.

Chorus:

Join us at Uncle Bardie’s

School of Celebritology

Soon you will have a Master

Degree in Super Star-ology

1.You won’t have to be talented

You don’t have to be good

You can be trailer trash

Or an old chunk of wood

2.Anything is possible

If you think you can

Just look at Forrest Gump

And the walk that he ran

3.You don’t have to have brains

The less you have the better

Just look at the Scarecrow

He never learned his letters

4.You will go anywhere

And stand out in that crowd

Your fans will ooh and ahh

You will be the Big Wow.

So give us a call at Uncle Bardie’s School of Celebritology. The first one hundred to call will get a tote bag with the faces of Kim and Snooki and Paris right on it.

The Battle of As Samawah

Don Royster:

Today I am re-posting a fellow blogger’s post called “The Battle of As Samawah”. It is long piece based on his experiences in Iraq. Don Gomez is an Iraq war veteran and member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He blogs at “Carrying the Gun”. Here’s what it is like to be at the front lines in a war where there are no front lines.

Originally posted on Carrying the Gun:

March 28, 2003. Night time. Warm air. Kuwait International Airport. The screaming roar of engines disorients as we hobble towards the anxious planes sitting in the dark. Distant city lights twinkle in the gaseous exhaust. I imagine a Kuwaiti family, somewhere out there, sitting down for dinner.

Fuck. I’m already sweating in my brand new camouflage chemical suit. It’s bulky, hot, and scratchy.

We waddle forward. I’m upset that I’m not wearing a parachute. For months, we trained to parachute into Baghdad airport commando-style in what would later become the greatest-mission-that-never-happened. Now, our commanders tell us we are going to instead simply land on some captured airfield in southern Iraq. The details are unclear. Were we going to roll out of the back of the aircraft, guns blazing? Would the enemy be there, or was the airfield secure?

I shuffle up the ramp and drop my heavy rucksack filled…

View original 9,423 more words

Short Story Wednesday: The Blue Coat

Short Story Prompt: “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J. D. Salinger

It took her exactly three hours to get through to the FBI. She knew the length of time because she had a prepaid cell phone that ticked off the minutes.

“FBI,” the agent at the other end of the line said. “Carpenter here. How may I help you?”

“I know where Seymour is.”

“Everybody knows where Seymour is.” There was frustration and lack of sleep in the agent’s voice.

“Look,” she said, “if you want Seymour, you’ll listen.”

She sounded serious, not like one of those crank calls the Agency had received in the past forty-eight hours. What would it hurt to listen? Carpenter asked himself.

“I only saw him three times,” she told Agent Carpenter and his partner, Agent Glass, sitting on the sofa across from her “He bought me a blue coat. Really nice. Would you like to see it?”

“Yes, please,” Agent Carpenter said. His partner didn’t say anything after he introduced himself. She couldn’t remember his name.

She modeled the coat for the two agents. It fit her snugly.

“Nice coat,” Carpenter said.

Glass studied her. Made her feel uncomfortable, like she had done something wrong.

“Why did you accept the coat?” Carpenter asked.

“He said I needed a new coat.”

“Did you?” Carpenter asked.

“Well, yes. My old one had holes in it. I never can afford one on my waitress’ salary. Tips ain’t that good either. He thought it brought out my figure. What do you think?”

The two agents nodded yes, it did.

She slipped out of the coat and laid it carefully across the back of an empty chair, then she sat back down.

“So what happened to Seymour?” Carpenter asked.

“We had our fling, then he left. Said he was going west. I tried to get him to take me but he wouldn’t.”

“So you called us.” Carpenter said in that relaxed way of his. Glass leaned forward.

“Yes,” she said.

“Know what I think?” Glass finally broke his silence. “I think you killed him. You called us so we’d catch you. That’s what I think.”

Her jaw dropped. “Why would I think that?”

“To assuage your guilt,” Glass accused. “Only question is. Where did you put the body?”

Carpenter said, “You want to show us where you put the body?”

“It’s in the basement. How did you know?”

Glass again, “You were putting in way too much effort. And you treated that blue coat way too nice. Like you were still trying to impress him.”

Finally Muriel would get the adventure she had longed for all her twenty-eight years. It might not be the one she had hoped for. But prison was better than nothing.

Next Wednesday’s Prompt: “The Red-Headed League” by Arthur Conan Doyle

Read a Good Story Lately?

William TrevorI am a sucker for short stories. Short stories by such amazing writers as Anton Chekhov, Ray Bradbury, Alice Munro, Kurt Vonnegut, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Lorrie Moore, Tim O’Brien and Kevin Brockmeier often blow me away. For my money though, the Irish writer William Trevor is one of the best, a real master of the craft. If you love short stories the way I do, you’ll enjoy his Selected Stories.

There’s nothing like a good start to a story. Here’s the opening sentence from Trevor’s “The Piano Tuner’s Wives”: Violet married the piano tuner when he was a young man, Belle married him when he was old. When a story gets off to a good start like that, I know I am in for a treat.

The story, “A Friendship”, opens with a practical joke two brothers play on their father. But soon the tale turns into the story of a slowly dissipating marriage. As is true for many of Trevor’s stories, it doesn’t take you where you thought you were going. When I finished the story, I could see the influence Trevor may have had on another writer, Alice Munro, and her “Runaway”. In “Child’s Play”, there is the story of two children. They use their imagination to create dramas to help them overcome the pain of separation from their divorced parents.

If you think Trevor only creates tragic stories, think again. For instance, there’s “A Bit of Business”. Two thieves see an ideal opportunity for burglary on the day the Pope visits Dublin. They’ve done their business for the day. It’s been a successful business. Then, on a whim, they decide to do one more house. One more house. That will always get you into trouble.

Trevor’s endings can be just as stunning as his beginnings. Such is the masterpiece of a story called “After Rain”. A woman entering her thirties finds herself ditched by her boyfriend. She returns to the Italian hotel where her parents took her when she was a girl. It concludes with this: She sees again the brown-and-green striped tie of the old man who talked about being on your own, and the freckles that are blotches on the forehead. She sees herself walking in the morning heat past the graveyard and the rusted petrol pumps. She sees herself seeking the shade of the chestnut trees in the park, and crossing the piazza to the trattoria when the first raindrops fell. She hears the swish of the cleaner’s mop in the church of Santa Fabiola, she hears the tourists’ whisper. The fingers of the praying woman flutter on her beads, the candles flare. The story of Santa Fabiola is lost in the shadows that were once the people of her life, the family tomb reeks odourlessly of death. Rain has sweetened the breathless air, the angel comes mysteriously also. These closing lines remind me of another Irish master of the short story, James Joyce, and the end of his most famous story, “The Dead”.

Trevor’s stories often have echoes of other great predecessors of the short story, most of all Anton Chekhov. Trevor does for Ireland what Chekhov did for Russia. He explores the landscape of a country and its people, giving each character her dignity. With a rich, lush language, he is as likely to offer the life of a woman as he is a man, of a Catholic or a Protestant, and to burrow in deep to find out what that character carries in his or her heart.

In his stories, there are priests, wives, businessmen, tramps, blind piano tuners, farmers, children, burglars, auto mechanics and dressmakers, people from many of the nooks and crannies of Irish society. And there is love, or the desire for love no matter the consequences. Trevor shows us that it’s the little things, the quiet moments that matter in a life, and that a life can mean so much.

His particular way of saying things often makes me stop in awe and question how I might write like that. Lines that soar. Lines that are more than lines. There never is fairness when vengeance is evoked or Their own way of life was so much debris all around them or This no-man’s land was where Gerard and Rebecca played their game of marriage and divorce or All the love there had been, all the love there still was–love that might have nourished Ellie’s child, that might have warmed her–was the deprivation the child suffered or gratitude was always expressed around this table. It’s a great writer working his magic and I am never disappointed with that magic. He always leaves me wanting more.

Short Story Wednesday: A Case of the Pauls

Short Story Prompt: “Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament” by Willa Cather

They were like bookends, the two Pauls. One on each end of my block.

Paul A. was a sixteen-year-old kid who lived with his single mother, Phyllis, in the red brick, two-bedroom house. This Paul never smiled. He wore a sullen look on his face like it was a suit of armor, his clothes rumpled as if no one in the house knew how to care for clothes. Not him. Not his mother. Most of the time he seemed angry. And there was a darkness about him.

Paul S. was at the other end of the block. He lived with both his parents and his three sisters in a two-story white house with a well trimmed lawn and a white picket fence. A curly blonde-haired kid, always smiling, eyes bluer than the sky on a clear blue sky day. A yes-sir or no-sir when I threw a question at him. Like playing catch with the kid, only with questions. Real polite, and likeable as the day is long.

Needless to say, the two Pauls did not run with each other. Paul A. was as much of a loner as anybody I have known in my seventy years. Only a couple of times did I see him with some boys. They had thug written all over them. Paul S. lived in a world where everybody was his friend.

Now the Good Book says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I try to follow that old saw best I can. It was hard though. If Paul A. passed my house, I would give the boy a smile and a good day. All he did was grunt and move on in a hurry like he had someplace to go.

It was a hot summer day. An August day I believe. My air conditioner had gone out early that morning. It would be the next afternoon before a technician could get over to check it out. It was ninety degrees outside, eighty-five inside and getting hotter. I had the windows open for what there was of a breeze and sat in my living room with the overhead fan on.

I went out to the kitchen and stuck my head in the freezer to cool off. How refreshing that was. I was giving a good amount of thought to running myself a cold bath and soaking. Then I thought that maybe I should drive down to the senior citizens’ center. Thing was that they closed at six and I would have to come back to the house and sweat.

Oh, what the hey. I’d gotten way to use to living with all these modern conveniences. Why when I was a kid, we had no air conditioner. And there’d been times when the weather was hotter than this. So what was it with this doing without. “C’mon, man up,” I said to myself. “You’ve gotten too too soft.”

I walked out on the backporch and grabbed the cat’s water bowl. Friskers needed some water so I took it inside and filled it, then back to the porch. I looked out in the back yard. Not a bird in sight. Even the birds were not happy about the heat.

There was a breeze on the back porch. Looked like we’d get some rain soon. Then we’d get more humidity and that would make the heat sticky. For the moment I settled into my lawn chair with a glass of ice tea. Before I knew it, I was dozing off.

I woke to a crash. Coming from inside the house. Had I let Friskers inside? Sneaky cat. He always got past me. I got up and headed inside.

“Friskers, what are you in to now?”

I walked into the living room. Before me stood one of Paul A’s thuggish friends.

“Now hold on here,” I challenged him. “What are you doing in my house?” He was bringing out the former cop in me. How dare this punk come into my house uninvited.

I turned and made for the kitchen. Before I could get to the drawer and my .38, this punk had his arms wrapped around me in a bear hug. He threw me to the ground and said, “Oh, no you don’t.”

Another beefier thug came out from my bedroom, rifling through my wallet. “Just a few bucks in here,” he said to his partner.

“You bastards,” I yelled, crumpled up on the floor. “Get the hell out of my house.”

The bear hugger kicked me in the gut. I went fetal, grasping my stomach.

“Find anything else?” hugger asked.

“Just a couple of rings and some credit cards.”

“Take them and let’s get out of here before this old codger recuperates.” Hugger kicked me again. It felt like he had broken my arm.

Beefy headed for the door. But he didn’t go no further. Before him stood the light Paul. “What the hell are you guys doing?” he demanded. Then he came through the door like he was a bull running down its prey. He hit the hugger in the gut with his fist and went to do it again. Beefy’s fist came down hard on his head.

Both Beefy and Hugger went through the front door, then I heard a noise like a two-by-four splitting. “I told you no. Leave Mr. Williams alone. But you didn’t listen.” It was the dark Paul’s voice.

Light Paul picked himself up. Dark Paul yelled, “Call the cops.”

When the police arrived, dark Paul had scooted away, melting into the night as if he had never been there. Light Paul told them what had happened, took credit for my rescue. As the paramedics loaded me into the ambulance, he said to me, “Paul told me not to tell about him and so I’m not.”

Several days later, the nurse brought me home. As she walked me out of the car and into the house, I saw the two Pauls. watching from across the street, smiling. It seemed that the light Paul was now a little darker and the dark Paul a little lighter.

Next Wednesday’s Prompt: “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J. D. Salinger