An Un-fairy Tale

It was a party, that wedding reception. Half the kingdom showed up to eat, dance and be merry. The couple was extremely popular and well-loved. That was why it was such a surprise when they started in a marital train wreck It had been such a fairy-tale, their romance.

As disappointed as everybody was, they all knew that happily-ever-afters were not to be. Marriage took a lot of work. Charming and Beauty might have been up to the work. They were not committed to it. Sure they liked the glow of it all. They had both gone to see “Romeo and Juliet” a dozen or more times. They had binged on “Outlander” on tv. And they were smitten by “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

The real test was when he farted at an inappropriate moment and when she belched when they were visiting his parents. Most couples let the body functions pass with, “I’ve heard worse” or “I’ve smelled worse.”

The real trouble nobody spoke about was that Beauty wasn’t Cinderella or Snow White. And Charming wasn’t the Woodsman or the Big Bad Wolf.

The parents of the couple suggested counselling. It had helped them through their troubled times. Beauty. But that didn’t help. It made matters worse. Now they spelled out loud the issues. After the third session, the Royal Marriage Counsellor shook his head and gave up.

“He’s been biting the apple with Snow White and she’s had a real howl-in with Big Bad. Let’s face it. It’s a case of ‘the grass is greener on the other side of the fence’. Nothing can save this marriage.”

Now it just so happened that it was that time of year. Early autumn. As usual Merlin was taking his stroll through the kingdom. After the fiasco with King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, he didn’t show his face much anymore. He’d failed Camelot, and that was that. Fortunately he had been taking lessors from Gandalf. Since Gandalf had gotten Aragorn and Eowyn together, he was considered Matchmaker to the Stars.

It was hard to miss the news about Charm and Beauty. There were posters on just about every tree in the forest and photograms all over Instagram of the fights. Merlin saw his chance to get back into everybody’s good graces. If he could fix the couple’s marriage and give the kingdom a happily-ever-after, he would be the superstar he’d always seen himself as.

He pulled out his smartphone and started taking pictures of the unhappiness that had hit the kingdom like the ten plagues of Egypt. Humpty Dumpty’s fall was the first. Then there was Little Red Riding Hood’s granny and the Billy Goat Gruff taking out the Troll. There was the two little pigs’s houses the wolf had blown to smithereens. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Repunzel’s hair all fell out.

Merlin put together his powerpoint presentation of the destruction Charm and Beauty’s marriage was doing to the kingdom. Then he buckled up his bucklet and went up to the Castle. He knocked on the giant wooden door. When the porter asked what he wanted, he answered, “I’m here to see the Prince and  Princess.”

“I’m sorry but no can do. Lady Macbeth went chasing Spot the Dog and fell off the castle wall. And Lord Macbeth’s got Macduff’s sword stuck up his tushy.”

“Not that couple,” Merlin said angrily. “The Prince and the Princess, you goof.”

“Don’t get yourself in a tizzy. I’m sorry your gps isn’t up to snuff. Their castle is the one on the hill. If you had put The Castle on the Hill into it, it would have taken you to their front door step. But be forewarned. That place has gone to quackers.”

Merlin’s eyes followed the porter’s finger as it showed the way. There must have been more steps to the Castle on the Hill than there was to the top of the Great Pyramid. For a second the old wizard choked. This was not going to be easy. Then he buckled himself up for the climb and determined that a wizard’s got to do what a wizard’s got to do. If it was easy, everybody would have the job.

It was a long, arduous climb that took a fortnight. For you readers who don’t know what a fortnight is, it’s two weeks.

He came to the door of the Castle on the Hill. Before knocking, he sat down on the stone walkway and had himself a rest. He dumped the pebbles out of his shoes and saw the holes in their soles. If he pulled off his goal, there would be a reward of new shoes.

Then he stood up straight and rang the giant bell.

“Who’s there?” the guard at his post asked from the other side of the door.

“It’s Merlin, the Magician. Let me in.”

“State your business.”

“Marriage counselling.”

From the other side of the door, there were guffaws galore. Finally, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Merlin was not used to being challenged when he was determined to do a thing. So he said, “Let me in or I will huff and puff and blow your house down.”

More laughter. Then, “We’ve heard that before. You gotta do better than that.”

Merlin sunk his head into his hands and said mostly to himself, “Oh, what to do. What to do.”

At that, his staff whispered in his ear. He called out the offer the staff offered, “A flagon of ale for every member of the staff.”

From the other side of the door, “What’s a flagon?”

“It’s a lot. Now let me in.”

“Well, if you insist, but we want the good stuff.”

The door creaked open. Merlin strode in, lifted his wand, and said loudly, “Let the booze flow.”

The Castle-on-the-Hill tour guide walked out of his cottage. “May I help you, sir.”

“The couple?” Merlin said huffing and puffing, not from exhaustion, but from frustration. “Where’s Prince and Princess?”

The tour guide pointed at the two lights at opposite ends of the castle. “There.”

At that, Merlin did what any self-respecting wizard would do. He gathered himself up, then he thought, “Geez, more stairs.” That was followed by, “I guess a wizard got to do what a wizard’s got to do.” And up the stairs he went.

First he showed his powerpoint to Beauty, then he went down to the other end of the Castle and showed Charm. They both laughed him out of their rooms.

This was Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot all over again. What to do? What to do?

Merlin, never being a quitter, was not about to take this lying down. There was only one magic spell left in his ye-olde-spellbag. So he pulled it out and said the magic words, “Jimmy Stewart.” Then he grabbed up the royal couple as fast as you can say, “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle” and took them down to the Royal Movie Theater and showed them “It’s a wonderful life”. By the end of the movie, Charm and Beauty were in each other’s arms. bawling their eyes out. Jimmy Stewart had done what Jimmy Stewart always did. He did that old Jimmy Stewart magic.

From that moment on, there was no more complaining about the farting or the belching. Twenty years and three kids later, they found those activities endearing in each other. And there was rejoicing and happily-ever-after-ing throughout the land. On top of that, Merlin’s Matchmaking Business went into franchising. Now the kingdom has one on every corner.

The business has prospered so much so that Merlin is taking it public next week. You can buy shares under the ticker name of MMBz.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A bull in a china shop

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Ferdinand” (2017):

Beginning with movies like “Toy Story” and “Lion KIng”, animated films stepped into a new golden age. Great animation, great stories and movies that could be appreciated by both children and adults are some of the qualities found in these movies.

Even though Pixar and Disney led the way, other studios like Blue Sky Studios, Nikelodeon, Dream  Works and Laika have stepped in and given us “Ice Age”, “Rango”, “Shrek” and “Kubo and the Two Strings”. When there are so many studios producing so many great features, that is a healthy sign. It means we will continue to get great animated features.

And now “Ferdinand” joins these first rate animated films. It is based on the book, “The Story of Ferdinand” (1936), written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson.

What happens when a bull is a bull but does not want to be a bull? And not just any bull. A Spanish fighting bull.

Ferdinand is a calf being raised on a bull training ranch, Casa del Toro. His dad is a Spanish fighting bull. His friends are fighting bulls. Who knows? Maybe his mother was a Spanish fighting bull. All they live for is to get into the bull ring and charge. But not Ferdinand. All he wants to do is smell flowers.

So what does a bull with this particular dilemma do? He escapes. And finds a home with a young girl and her father. They raise flowers. Ferdinand grows up to be giganenormous bull. Despite following the directions of the father and girl, he follows them to the local village flower festival. And unleashes pandemonium and chaos. He is caught and taken back to Casa del Toro.

“Ferdinand” may be a bull in a china shop. But he is also a bull with a destiny. Folllow “Ferdinand” and watch him on his journey to reach that destiny. It will put a smile on your face.

Home by Nick Jonas

Near 500 words: The Wisdom of Solomon

Boy stared at the photographs of the two women. One was a woman with nobility in everything he saw in the painting. The other was a peasant woman, the colors bright that she wore. They were his aunts. And they had been at war with one another.

Aunt Gwen was the noble one. Aunt Pan was the peasant one. Each wanted to offer him a life. Since his parents were dead, they went after each other like two generals fighting a war, planning their strategies.

Aunt Gwen brought in the troops by the hundreds, marching in battle formation. Her generals were veterans of the battlefields that were the courts. They knew all the ifs, ands, and buts, all the wherefores and whatevers. They brought in the tanks of the injunctions and the bombs that were the subpoenas.

Aunt Pan was a guerilla fighter, fighting on her home turf. She knew just how much she could get away with in the courts. She had only one lawyer but he was a good one. And he devoted his total attention to the war she fought. He was her son. And he became a lawyer for just this one thing. To win Boy’s custody.

The judge saw the women and realized there would be no end to this which would satisfy both women. He needed a solution that was best for the boy.

After a long, sleepless weekend, he finally saw his way through the haze. He walked into the court, rapped his gavel against the bench and ordered the two women to come forward. Not their lawyers but the two women.

“Ladies,” he said, as he glared down at the two aunts. “There is only one solution to this dilemma. This is my order. You will sell your two homes and buy a third. Then you will move into the new home. Once you have done this, you will receive the boy. Until you do this, the boy will be in my custody.”

Gwen had a well-I-never look on her face. Pan frowned.

“And you will live in that house with the boy until he turns eighteen. You can never take the boy to another country without the court’s permission. Anytime you wish to travel, you must travel together as a family. You will end this war or I will end it for you. Now, shake hands.”

He pounded the gavel on the bench. “It is so ordered.” Then Judge Solomon left his bench and went to his back office. There he called for the boy and took him home with him. Since he and his wife had no children of their own, they took much care of Boy. And they waited.

For two months, Aunt Gwen and Aunt Pan held their truce. They consulted with each other over the house they wanted. They found one. As they began the process to buy, they argued over who would sleep where and what furniture they would have and just about everything else.

They consulted their lawyers. The lawyers said the same thing. “Until you do this thing, the judge will not release the child to you. We have searched our law books and we have consulted about appeals. Nothing else will work. The judge giveth, the judge taketh away.”

So once a month the two women saw the boy. One could not see him without the other present.

So now Boy was eighteen. He was readying himself for college. And he was studying the two women on the wall of the judge’s hallway.

They were dead now. One night they had become so angry they crashed their cars into one another. Both were killed instantly.

Judge Solomon walked behind Boy, put both his hands on the Boy’s shoulders, and said, “Never forget these two women. They loved you so much they gave their lives for that love. In their own, strange ways. They were amazons and they fought fiercely for you. Would that they had laid down their war and declared a peace.”

Art Gallery Love

Despite a snowy day, most of the expected guests arrived at the gallery without an incident. Dagly’s exhibition was a hit. The important critics, whose pieces ran the next morning, were impressed. Especially with the sculpture he titled “Wall”.

It was a wall of skulls. Names of gunshot victims were on the skulls, each skull containing a name painted in gold. At the bottom was a quote from the Gospels, signifying that we should love one another.

“Fat chance,” said one of the critics who was overheard.

Still many were moved. They had put in an extra effort to get to the show. They were not disappointed. Dagly never disappointed.

A president of one of the universities bought another piece called “Potholes in the Ceiling”. It was a a painting of a sky with seven black spots on it. He knew just the place on his campus where it was to be displayed.

“You’ll never regret it,” the head of his art department encouraged.

“Of course, I won’t,” the president assented. He never regretted anything he did. Especially if it benefited the school. A man with a giant ego, he knew he was always right. No matter what. Well, he had made one bad decision. But he had patched up that decision by firing the s.o.b. who talked him into it.

Wilhelmina also knew she was always right. Even the affair with Dagly was one that had worked out to her advantage. She was invited to all his parties. At her arm, she had one of her new toys. A blond young thing who had given her the kind of pleasure she had not had in a long time. She turned and smiled her radiance upon him. She had decided to keep him. At least, until she was distracted. Eventually she always became distracted.

She leaned over and whispered to the blond young thing, “I’m going to have to get you a gift. Decide what you would like and tell me later.”

The blond young thing was pleased. His machinations in bed the night before had done their magic. That karma sutra stuff was just aces. And even though Wilhelmina was entering her old age, she was still hot stuff in the sack.

Emma Wardell spied the blond young thing across the room. A woman in her early fifties, she had slept with half the eligible bachelors in the City. She watched him whisper something in Wilhelmina’s ear. She nodded and he slipped away.

Emma sat her drink down and walked across the room and headed to the ladies room. Then she switched her path and went into the men’s room. The blond young thing was alone. He was just zipping up. She stood and watched as he washed his hands. He turned and saw Emma.

“What’s a nice young man,” she said, “like yourself doing in a place like this.”

When the blond young thing saw opportunity, he never turned his back on it. Nothing said he couldn’t have his entrée and dessert as well. Emma looked like dessert. “Waiting on you,” he said.

She lifted her skirt and said, “You were waiting on this, weren’t you?”

Of course, he had been waiting on what was under the skirt. He unzipped and pushed Emma against the door.

“Now,” she said, “not so fast. Question is are you willing to pay the price.”

He kissed her on the neck.

“What’s the price?” he asked, then kissed her mouth.

“You leave with me.”

Suddenly he backed away. “I can’t do that,” he said. “Wilhelmina would kill me.”

She dropped her skirt. “That’s the deal. Take it or leave. You have to choose between paradise or hell.”

He stood in the middle of the bathroom, stunned.

“I’m leaving in fifteen minutes. If you don’t leave with me, you’ve missed the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“What are you saying?”

“Just that you’ll never have another chance like this.” She showed her nipple, then buttoned her blouse and was out the door.

A few minutes later, he left the bathroom. Dagly saw him and walked over. “So,” the artist said to the blond young thing, “you’ve been given the Wilhelmina-Emma treatment.”

“Treatment? What do you mean?”

“I’ve been where you are before. How do you think I got where I am?”

“What do I do?”

“You play them against each other.”

“If I leave with Emma, Wilhelmina will never speak to me again. If I stay with Wilhelmina, Emma will never speak to me again. I want them both.”

“Of course, you do,” Dagly said. “We all want them both.”

“So, what do I do?”

“Leave without either. Then they’ll both come after you. Plus half the other women in this place. You’ll make out like a bandit.”

“You mean I won’t lose them.”

“They won’t be able to let you go. They can’t take rejection. They’ll feel that everybody is laughing at them. All that money and they can’t get what they want. You’ll make out like crazy. I know I did.”

“You’re right,” the blond young thing said. He turned and headed toward Wilhelmina.

Dagly grabbed him by the shoulder. “What are doing?”

“I am saying good night to Wilhelmina.”

“You can’t do that,” Dagly insisted. “Emma sees you and she’s going to be mad. You have to leave without saying a word. Otherwise you’ll be showing favoritism. You do not want to show favoritism, do you?”

“You’re right,” the blond young thing said. “Thanks, Mr. Dagly.’

“Don’t mention it. I hate to see a young man like yourself being taken advantage of.”

The blond young thing sauntered over to the door and walked out of the gallery.

Emma and Wilhelmina watched. Then they both went over to Dagly. They each kissed him on the cheek.

Wilhelmina was first. “Another great show you put on tonight.

Emma then joined in. “Dagly, you’ve done it again.”

Wilhelmina said, “Too bad about him. Well, it was fun while it lasted.”

All three raised their champagne glasses and said, “Another one bites the dust.”

Then Emma said, “I think I’m going to buy that Wall thing and donate it.”

Wilhelmina said, “Whatever she’s paying, I’ll pay a dollar more.”

As the two women walked away, Dagly smiled. Some years earlier, he had come up with the game. Emma or Wilhelmina brought a young man to one of Dagly’s parties. When he separated from his host, the other cornered him. Once the young man was alone again, Dagly stepped in and tried to convince him to leave without either. If he left, the women bought a piece of art. If he went off with one of the women, Dagly lost a sale. Dagly never lost a sale.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Pure Boogie

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is no other than the boogiest, the woogiest of bands,  Little Feat:

Wanna boogie? Wanna get down? Well, I got the band for you. Little Feat, led by Lowell George, was one of those bands that made the seventies a fun place. They didn’t have an ounce of glamrock or disco in their bones. They just played the heck out of rock ‘n’ roll and stirred in some funk, some boogie, some blues, some gospel, some country and made it stand up on its head and rock. They might be an L.A. band but they could do Southern Rock as if they had drunk from the Mother of Rivers.

So check out and enjoy Lowell George and Little Feat. This is what boogie sounds like when it gets together with its old friend woogie.