2016, the year that was

Well, it’s another year flushed away. Lots and lots of excitement has been going on here at Uncle Bardie’s Stories & Such. Uncle Bardie passed the 300th post.

Sundays continue to be a free-for-all with such insightful pieces as “The Beast That Ate America”, “The Neighborhood Lawn War” and “15 Reasons Why Uncle Bardie Is Old School”.

Early in 2015, Uncle Bardie began a series on creativity and creative artists each Friday. It was to encourage the Readers to find the creative gene in themselves. Mondays became movie day. Friday’s Creator Corner and Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week continues in 2016.

“Uncle Bardie Does ‘Hamlet'” replaced the Story Pompt posts on Wednesdays. Hamlet winds itself into 2016. Uncle Bardie has had a ball, reading between the Hamletian lines, calling attention to those items that inquiring minds want to know. Answering questions like: When does Hamlet do laundry? Sometime in March or April, the Hamlet series should be coming to an end.

It will be replaced by a weekly satire called “Politics in America”. Politicians and their ilk will get the full Uncle Bardie treatment, and in technicolor no less. That should be a hoot. It’s all here to entertain Uncle Bardie’s noble gang of happy followers.

I know there’s a lot of pressure to post a list of best posts for the year. Since all of Uncle Bardie’s posts are the best, I can’t choose just one. That would be like picking out one child over another. I might have a favorite but I don’t want to hurt all the other posts’ feelings. After all, how would you feel if you were left out?

So Happy New Year. 2016 is gonna be something else. May each of ye have a safe and hearty New Year’s Eve and wake up on the other side, ready for a myriad of possibilities.

I do have a question for my readers. In the past, all my post have been 2000 words or less. Except for one story. It is my intention to continue that tradition. However, occasionally I would like to post a long story of 5000 words or less. I would not post more than one every three months or so. And I would most likely post it on Sunday. Currently I have a story that I culled from my novel called “Patsy Finds Love”. Would you, my Readers, be interested in reading a longer piece of fiction?

Hamlet: Just a little bit of Poland

Fortinbras: “Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king
Tell him that, by his license, Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promised march
Over his kingdom.”
Hamlet Act 4 Scene 4.

Act 4 Scene 4. Macbeth had it in for the King of Scotland. Iago had it in for Othello. Shylock had it in for Antonio. Cassius had it in for Julius Caesar. Henry Bolingbroke had it in for Richard II. Richard III had it in for the Princes in the Tower. Hamlet had it in for Claudius. Claudius had it in for Hamlet. And Fortinbras had it in for the Poland.

Some years ago, before he was Norway and had the responsibilities of a future king, Fortinbras was a young rake, free and loose and on the prowl. He would have made a perfect student for Falstaff because he loved to carouse more than Hal ever did. Then he saw her, the Polish king’s daughter. She saw him. They were instant smitten with each other.

Fortinbras went to the king and pleaded for the girl’s hand. The king said no. “I’d rather she marry a bear than a Northman.”

Poland locked his daughter up in a tower, safely away from the riff-raff. He had a husband in mind for her. A man who would make a strong ally. Ivan the Terrible.  Mostly Poland wasn’t looking for Ivan as an ally. He was downright scared of the dude. He’d seen the heads hanging from the walls of Ivan’s castle and heard the screams from the Russian’s dungeons. So it sounded like a real good idea to keep Ivan on his good side.

The thing was that no ruler would last more than two weeks with a name like Ivan the Pussycat. And Ivan was a real pussycat. Scared of his own shadow.

Ivan had this henchman, Rasputin. Raspy convinced Ivan that he had to do something to scare the bejesus out of everybody. To do this, Raspy ordered some fake heads off Amazon and a sound effects record of lots of screaming. Raspy’s plan worked. Everybody thought the paraphernalia was real. Unfortunately they scared the you-know-what out of Ivan too.

Poland’s daughter was not happy at all about her daddy’s scheme. She did a Juliet and sent a note secretly to Fortinbras. “Spring me from the joint. This chastity belt daddy locked me up in itches like crazy.”

Fortinbras showed up at the tower at midnight. Being as good a climber as Spider-Man, he went up the wall like nobody’s business. Threw the future Mrs. Fortinbras across his broad shoulders. Then went back down the side of the tower in no time flat. He headed off to the Justice of the Peace and had the nuptials pronounced.

Fortinbras was prepared. He had brought a big set of pliers and off came the chastity belt. Nothing was going to stop him from her treasure chest. But first she had to go pee and she had to go pee bad. She came back to their hotel room and got into bed. There was a knock on the door. It wasn’t the big bad wolf. It was Raspy. Fortie went out the window first. On the ground three stories below, he whispered, “Jump. I’ll catch you.” She jumped. He missed. She died right there in his arms. Needless to say, Fortie had to get out of town and he had to do it fast. But he would never forget his true love. And he would never forget Poland.

Now he is marching through Denmark to get to Poland. He is out to get even for the loss of his lady love. He had something like twenty thousand men behind him. Actually it was not something like twenty thousand. It was exactly twenty thousand. He could have chosen Sweden but the Swedes didn’t like Norway none too much.

“Captain, go and ask the king of Denmark if we can cross. Tell him we won’t rape and loot and plunder. We just need to get across.”

“Okay dookay.”

Hamlet sees the army and he is impressed. “Just look at those uniforms. Aren’t they mahvelous? Simply mahvelous.”

Rosencrantz agreed. Guildenstern agreed.

Right then and there, Hamlet decided that he had to go back, take out the king and get an army with uniforms just like Norway’s. After all, military strategists the world over know that it is the army with the best uniforms that won the wars. Just look at how well the British did in that little skirmish called the American Revolution. All ‘cause they had such great looking uniforms.

What army do you think has the best looking uniforms?


Chester (A Dog With Issues) Endorses Donald Trump

This one is a big Wow. Uncle Bardie was on the floor, absolutely in histerics.

Almost Iowa

dogI arrived home to a pitiful scene. A panic stricken Scooter had taken refuge on the roof of his doghouse.

Below him, a furry tempest raged. 

It attacked his dog dish, instantly shredding it into a scattering of twisted metal shavings – then it peeled chunks of plywood off his house and reduced them to sawdust. Finally, as I watched in amazement, it ripped shingles from under Scooter’s paws as he danced madly about in despair.

I called my buddy Stan.

What did you toss into Scooter’s kennel?” I shouted into the phone.

Are we talking about Chester?”

Chester is Stan’t psychotic dog.

“Yes… why is he here?”

“Daphne and I are on vacation and you have DirectTV.”

It made perfect Stan-sense.

Chester may be profoundly disturbed but there is one thing that keeps him emotionally stable – subscription television.  Specifically, the dog loves the Home Shopping Network.

So to rescue Scooter, I rushed into the house and cranked…

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The Passing of Peaches and Buster



I would like to begin this post by saying that I am not a cat person. But sometimes you have no choice. An animal comes into your life and you have to take that animal in. This was Peaches some thirteen years ago. She came to us, hungry, almost starving. We fed her and she led us to her litter. Two small kittens.

We took the three of them in. We knew, that if we didn’t, the mother might not make it. We were sure the kittens wouldn’t. From the beginning, we decided that they were to go and come as they pleased. Since we have a large back yard, they would have the run of it. We named the kittens Buster and Princess. Not unique names, but they seemed to fit.

Oh, sure. We knew that outdoor cats might not live as long as an indoor cat. I asked myself, “If I were a cat, which would I want to be?” The answer was that I would much prefer the outdoors. In the meantime, they got the run of the house. When we thought they were ready, we took them to the vet’s and got them all shotted up, and spayed and neutered as well. It was the right thing to do.

When we thought they were ready for the world outside, we gave them the run of the yard. Each day they came in for their feeding. Most times Peaches and Princess stayed inside at night while Buster went outside to do his Buster thing.

Buster the Easter Cat


Some nights he stayed inside until three o’clock in the morning. Then he would get me up, wanting to go out. Half asleep, I followed him into the kitchen and to the back door. We always kept their food dishes in our kitchen. He went to the kitchen door, then he slightly turned his head and thought, “Oh, I need a snack.” Then he went for his food dish. I complained, “Buster, couldn’t you get your snack before you woke me up?” As he chowed down, I imagined that he said,”Oh, I could. But I have something to prove here. I am cat. Here me roar.”



It became a ritual that the cats met me on the front porch when I arrived home from work. Peaches rolled on the grass, showing off. I petted her for just a few minutes. Buster demanded to go inside for his food. Then I opened the door to let them in. Buster went in first, then he turned and waited on his sister. Having them meet me at the door, then spending time with them that first little while when I got home, it became a way to release the stress I might have had with work. It became a way to relax.



In 2014, Buster got to the point where he wouldn’t eat. He lost a lot of weight and was pretty close to leaving us. We took him to three different vets before we finally figured out what the problem was. He was clogged up in his intestines. The vet gave him an enema. We brought him home and put him on a wet diet. For a while, we had to force feed him. Finally he got better and mostly went back to the same old Buster he had always been.



Through the years, Peaches got in the habit of leaving the yard and heading over to the park behind us. We weren’t sure where she went but usually she came back to us early in the evening. Buster stood guard, watching his territory, our yard, like a hawk. He came in and ate, then it was back out, making sure he was the king of the castle.

Last August I came home from work and Buster didn’t show up. Thinking that he wasn’t hungry, I didn’t make much of it. I figured he was hiding in the bushes after feasting on a mole or a rat. A second night he didn’t show. I began to walk the neighborhood and check with neighbors. Nope, they hadn’t seen him. I checked online and called to see if he had been picked up by animal control. Nope. Animal control had not been in our area recently. After two weeks, I had pretty well given up on him. Then Peaches didn’t show up either. I went through the same process. No Peaches.

We’ve come to the conclusion that both were either attacked by a coyote or a hawk got them. A neighbor said they had recently seen a hawk swoop down and pick up a cat. We don’t think Buster or Peaches will be back.



In the meantime, Princess has taken Buster’s place. But she seems sad. I think she is mourning for Buster. They were very close.

As I said at the beginning, I am not a cat person. But these cats have taught me a lot about our responsibility to animals and our need to be compassionate to them. I used to believe the myth that cats are independent creatures. They are not. Oh, sure. Unlike dogs, they need  their space. They are not mean, as one dog owner recently told me. It is in their nature to hunt. They wouldn’t be cats if they didn’t. They are perfectly built for hunting. I will tell you that they have the most beautiful eyes. They are so expressive. At least, our cats have.

I want you to know that I miss both Peaches and Buster very very much. So do me a favor. If you have a pet, give them a little extra special attention. If you see an animal in need, do as much as you can to help.

Anyway I miss my cats. And I just had to tell you about them.


Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: John Houston’s Last Movie

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Dead” (1987).

Like so many of you, I have a New Year’s Eve tradition. Come Thursday night this year, I plan on the same ritual I have performed the past ten years or so.

No, it’s not going out drinking with all the amateurs. I stay off the streets ’cause there’s danger out there, Will Robinson. If I am taking to the bottle on New Year’s Eve, I do it at home. But mostly I stay off the booze, except for a little of the bubbly.

I don’t sacrifice a chicken or howl at the moon either. Although the howling-at-the-moon has occurred to me. It would give some competition to those blasting firecrackers away all night because they can. They scare the whatchamacallit out of my cats. At least, my cats would appreciate the howling.

I am not into watching three hours of programming crawling up to the countdown to the ball dropping. (I kinda wonder what you do in that crowd when you have to pee, and you have to pee bad. Where do you go?)

All the twerking by artists, mouthing their latest fifteen-minutes-of-fame plastic, bores me. I’m not ever sure who they are, but they’re not for moi. They are not Dylan or Sinatra or Elvis or the Beatles or the Supremes. Those guys didn’t have to twerk their way to greatness. Well, maybe Elvis did.

If I hear Paul McCartney do one more performance of “Yesterday”, I think I’ll scream. You were great once, Sir Paul, but you’re beginning to wear out your welcome. Mostly I’m thinking it’s been a while since Guy Lombardi did the Auld Lang Syne thing, and I kinda miss it. Don’t worry I haven’t gone Lawrence Welk on you. Yet.

My tradition? I sit down and watch John Huston’s last movie, “The Dead”. And before you even think it, it’s not about zombies. Rather it is based on James Joyce’s great story. If the man wrote no other work, “The Dead” would establish him as one of the greats. It takes place in 1904 Dublin. A group of friends gather at the home of the Morkan sisters and their niece to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, that memorial to the Three Magi who came to visit the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Outside there is snow. Inside there is cheer and music and dinner and memories of the past. It is these memories of the dead that call to mind all who have passed my way. Old friends, childhood buddies, and family, Some passed on and some not, some nearby and some in faraway places, some in places known and some in places unknown.

Like the story, the final scene of the movie calls to mind the most bittersweet of memories. All those who left, leaving only their footprints in the snow behind. All those wayfarers who came my way and left their mark on my life in an unforgettable manner. For a moment, tears well up in my eyes and I raise a glass to the wonder of who they were.

Soon it will be time to move on, what with a new year coming. This brief time I give to those who have passed over to a new world. I miss their words. I miss their smiles. I miss their voices. I miss the music that was their lives. So I shed a few tears. Not for them, but for myself. That I could have been a better friend. A better brother. A better son.

For these few moments, I am thankful to James Joyce and to John Huston for their extraordinary works of art.

Where will you be this New Year’s Eve?