micropoem for the day: birds in the back yard

On any particular day this early in the year, all I have to do is go and sit on my back porch. The birds do a good job of entertainment. Maybe I should call my back yard Entertainment Central. On any particular day, I never know what I’ll get. It could be vultures or hawks making their rounds above my house, looking for food. Or it could be a robin making for the bird bath. I just never know.

doves, blue jays, robins,
a woodpecker or two
a back yard community

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Sam and His Good Deeds

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 “Good Sam” (1948):

We’ve all heard that we should live by the Golden Rule. “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12). It is also called the Law of Reciprocity. It is a basic precept in all the major religions. Then again we’ve also heard the Oscar Wilde quote, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Leo McCarey’s comedy “Good Sam” takes those two seemingly contradictory statements on.

Sam Clayton (Gary Cooper) is a happily married man with three kids. His wife, Lu (Ann Sheridan), wants a home. Unfortunately Sam keeps helping people and that help ends up being expensive, so expensive that it costs them their down payment.

Sam lends the neighbors his car. He should have given the husband, the driver in the family, an eye test first.

Sam contacts the mechanic to come and fix the neighbor’s car. Sam ends up paying the bill.

The mechanic shows up with his wife at Sam’s door. Sam invites them in for dinner. They hadn’t eaten.

Sam lets his brother-in-law stay for two weeks. Sam’s hospitality is so good the brother-in-law is still living with them six months later.

One of his employees is about to commit suicide because the married man she was dating ditched her. You guessed it. She ends up at Sam’s house.

Sam’s previous neighbor has a wife who is pregnant. The man wants to buy a gas station. He is broke and can’t borrow the money from the bank. Sam loans him the five thousand dollars he has in savings.

Lu does want that house. Out of desperation, she goes to see her minister. The minister senses that Sam needs to exercise moderation. He discusses keeping the wife happy. Sam thinks the minister is having marriage problems.

Jesus cautioned about serving two masters. Sam must choose between his good deeds or his wife. Either way it looks like a lose-lose proposition for Sam.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Story Making

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 “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016).

While my guitar gently weeps, theme song for Kubo and the Two Strings.

The Making of Kubo and the Two Strings

For my two bits, movies succeed or fail because of one thing. The story. If the director has not honored the story or if he has decided not to have one, then, in my humble opinion, he has a lousy movie. Just look at two of the most successful movie series of all time, the Harry Potters and the Lord of the Rings. “Gone with the Wind” was a Margaret Mitchell family story.

As far as I can tell, few movies have delved into the art of storymaking and the storyteller. I am not referring to movies about writers like Wonder Boys or Adaptation. They are about writer’s block. The World According to Garp explores the relationships of a writer with women.

Unlike those movies, these explore the process of creation. Two of these movies have been directed by Marc Foster, Finding Neverland (2004) (about J M Barrie and his creation Peter Pan) and Stranger than Fiction (2006). Topsy Turvy (1999) explores the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan and The Mikado. Tim Burton’s most autobiographical movie, Big Fish (2003) is the big fish story and its relationship to the narrator’s father. With The Fall (2006), two patients in a hospital, a child and a stunt man encounter each other. The stunt man tells stories to the child to get her to steal drugs for him. In Inkheart (2008), the stories a man tells his daughter comes alive.

All these movies shine a light on just how magical stories can be and the relationship between the story and the story teller.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a wonderful addition to these films.

See this film and think about the stories in your life and what they mean to you.

Politics in America 21: The Great Muffin Attack

It wasn’t that the ingredients were not great. They were. It wasn’t that they weren’t good muffins. They were mmm-mmm-good. That was the problem. Nobody had paid much attention to muffins until…Well, let’s just say, the muffins were a problem.

Mrs. P F Sneeze was bored waiting out the election back home. She’d done a jim dandy job of campaign managing, but her husband’s election was a pretty well foregone conclusion. Big Al noticed the homesickness in the eyes of his partner-in-crime. So he packed her bags and sent her home with a “It’s in the bag.”

When Betty Sue got bored, she cooked. It was a good way to pass the time and to keep her man happy. P F Sneeze was the best fed man in Podunk County. On top of that, Bessie Mae was the best fed hog. Betty Sue’s cooking had turned a scrawny, itty bitty thang into the blue ribbon pig she was. In the cooking vocation, B S Pudding would have given Julia Child a run for her money Weazel Sneeze style. Guess you might say, Betty Sue Pudding was a great cook.

She came by it au naturel. She got it from her mama and her mama got it from her mama. The mamas went all the way back to the Mayflower. There had been one of her mamas at Plymouth Rock. There had been another at the Salem Witch Trials. That Puritan lady had handed out special treats to the judges to make sure they came to the right verdict. There had been still another, feeding George Washington on the day he licked the stuffing out of Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown. There had been one at the Constitutional Convention, serving up grits and jowls for the delegates. That was why it had taken all summer to knock that Constitution out. So you might say she got it the old fashioned way. Her mama taught Betty Sue good.

After hanging up the phone with Brandi Wine Moonglow, her old rival in high school, Betty Sue thought, “Now what?” After all, she knew that idle hands were the devil’s workshop and she wasn’t about to have none of that nonsense hanging around her neck. I know that is a mixed metaphor. But what are you going to do? After all, this is a Weazel Sneeze tale. Like all Weazel Sneeze stories there are bound to be a few mixed metaphors. It’s in the water, so to speak.

Betty Sue Elmora Doris Bobbie Jo Pudding-Sneeze, being Betty Sue Elmora Doris Bobbie Jo Pudding-Sneeze, was never one to leave well enough alone. She took herself a gander out the front window and saw the Secret Service guy just sitting there. He looked hungry. Betty Sue had a right neighborly solution to that. She made him up some of the best greens and hog jowls West of the Mississippi. And East too. She served that plate up hot with some nice cornbread and big glass of ice tea.

Mr. Secret Service finished his plate clean. It was so clean it looked like a barrel of locusts went through Mormon territory. That plate was clean. He looked up from his plate and smiled that big Secret Service grin of his and said, “I haven’t had food like that since my mama’s cooking, Ma’am. Thank you kindly.”

Betty Sue was pleased as punch that he’d enjoyed her cooking so much. She could not quit there. She was like a drug addict in search of a new hit. Once she started, she could not stop. She had to keep on cooking. Like any alcoholic will tell you, “You just can’t stop with one.” Betty Sue was hooked and she was hooked big time. Her drug was cooking.

Betty Sue had never tried muffins before. Why not?” she surmised.She rambled through her “Joy of Cooking“, her “Betty Crocker” and a dozen or more cookbooks till she found the purrfect muffin recipe. It was in her “Sunday Go To Meetin’ and Have a Good Time, Y’all Extravaganzer”. Right there at the very center on page 451 of that guidebook for delicious Southern eats.

She headed out to the storehouse and collected the muffin fixin’s. Then it was back into the kitchen. I would tell you what Betty Sue Pudding put in those muffins. If I did that, I would have to kill you. Or rather Betty Sue would have to kill you, and we wouldn’t want that, now would we? Lets just say she put a little of this, a lot of that and a smidgen of the other, and she whipped up some fine-and-dandies. Then she slipped them muffin babies into the oven. She went into the living room and twiddled her thumbs waiting.

After a while, she was back in the kitchen, pulling those babies right out of the oven. Only now they were full grown adult muffins. She slipped her fork into one just for a taste. She let it cool, then slid it into her mouth. That muffin was so good she just about had an orgasm right there and then. It was like she’d died and gone to heaven. It was that good.

Now, for a person of the cooking vocation, no cooking is good until it is shared. She lovingly placed a pile of those muffins on a platter, poured a big glass of sweet milk and took it out to her Secret Service Guy. He took a bite out of a muffin and he was gone. He couldn’t stop himself even if he tried. That day he must have put on forty muffinized pounds.

Betty Sue could not quit there. It would have been an act of cowardice. The world wanted her muffins. The world needed her muffins. Pretty soon she had the kitchen stacked plumb full of muffins. Only one thing to do with all them baked goods. She had Corn Cob Jones bring the official Weazel Sneeze pickup truck over. She loaded its bed with boxes and boxes of muffins and gave instructions to pass out every last one to the citizens of Weazel Sneeze.

There was no stopping her. She continued her baking. She baked and baked and sent all those muffins off to campaign workers as a personal thank-you for all their hard work. They were UPSed and FedExed to campaign offices all over the country. The campaign workers loved them.

There was only one problem. Everyone who ate a muffin ended up stoned for five days. Tuesday morning of Election Day, not one Do Naughty Campaign worker showed up at their station. Not one campaign worker picked up voters. Not one campaign worker got out the vote. Not one campaign worker even voted.

Because of this, the vote for P F Sneeze and Little Twerp went neck and neck. It was about to be closest Presidential election in history. The Do Evies could not have done a better job of evening the odds than Betty Sue Pudding and her muffins did.

Next Week: Election Day Blues

Politics in America 20: Christmas in November

The trouble started five days before Election Day. It looked like there was going to be a huge turnout for the Pig Farmer from Weazel Sneeze. The sculptor at Mount Rushmore had already got out his chisel for an additional head on the great stone mountain.

Betty Sue, being Betty Sue Pudding, just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Things were going too well. That’s when you’ve got to be careful. Damned careful. Or the Grinch will come and steal all your toys. You’ve heard of pushing your luck too far. Betty Sue was about to push their luck over the cliff.

The week before the election Betty Sue went back home for a break. She had been working twenty-four seven and Big Al Fresco sent her home with, “There’s nothing else we can do. It looks like we’ve accomplished it.” He kissed her on the cheek, then watched her as she headed for the airplane, thinking, “Now there goes a woman.”

That Thursday Betty Sue woke up early like she always did. She woke up early. She was in her au naturel. She did a bit of stretching, then went into the living room and did her yoga. She was a happy camper. Soon she would be the First Lady.

She thought, “The First Lady. Can you imagine? Won’t all my high school friends be jealous?” Especially that Brandi Wine Moonglow. The bitch. Brandi Wine Moonglow had beat Betty Sue to become her high school’s head cheerleader. As we all know, there is nothing quite like high school jealousy. We carry it with us the rest of our lives. Losing to Brandi Wine had given Betty Sue a complex that ran all the way down to her toes.

Just as she went into her Salamba Sarvangasana, she started laughing. She couldn’t control her laughter. She laughed so hard she fell out of position and had to go to take a pee. It felt so good. Getting even. As she emptied her bladder, she emptied herself of all jealousy. She began to feel sorry for Brandi Wine. After all, it wasn’t her fault that Brandi Wine Moonglow was so dumb. At seventeen she got herself knocked up by the quarterback of the Weazel Sneeze Prunes. They got married. Now he’s lost his job at the factory and she weighs a good three hundred pounds. You never know how things are going to turn out, do you?

After her yoga was over, Betty Sue started twiddling her thumbs. She realized she had nothing to do. One of the Secret Service guys had fed Bessie Mae Hogg. She called Brandi Wine and reminisced about the old high school days. That took up all of fifteen minutes. Well, you’ve heard the old saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” The devil was about to getting a good workout. He must have been smiling when it all came down. He might even have been saying, “Thank you, Jesus.” Christmas was about to come early for Old Scratch. There was about to be a hot time in the old town Weazel Sneeze style.

Next Week The Muffin Parade