Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ"...A Book Review


There's a scene in the 1959 movie Ben-Hur that I think I'll never forget. In the movie Judah Ben-Hur is at the Sermon on the Mount while people are gathering to hear from Jesus. Ben-Hur had met Christ before as a slave being led to Rome, but a lot had changed from that time to when the two men were together again. The scene is filmed so we see the back of Christ's head (if I remember, we never actually see Jesus's face in the film...) and as Ben-Hur walks around the outer edge of the gathering crowd, Christ turns, as if he's following Judah as he's leaving.

There's many people on the hill, but Christ focuses on the one man who's leaving. For some reason, the scene was powerful to me. To me, it showed that Christ knows all of us, even when we're walking away from him.

This week I finished the very long audiobook of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. A couple of weeks ago I finished The Robe. I guess I'm prepping for Easter. These are two books I probably should have read years ago. "Better late than ever," as some say. Even though both books center on Christ and his mission, the one begins with Christ's death, the other ends with it.

The book had a few things different from the film. In the book Judah is a teenager when he's accused of trying to kill the Roman representative and he meets Christ on the trail as a young man. Also the Three Wise Men actually arrive when the Baby Jesus is born--on the 25th of December. I'm not a bible scholar by any stretch, but I believe that Christ was born in the spring and I heard that it took years for the Wise Men to find Christ. 

The book expounded on much of why I loved the story. A poor boy is wrongly accused, saves the life of a Roman who adopts him as his own. He enacts revenge against his boyhood friend in the famous chariot race, returns to his home and finds his mother and sister who are lepers. Then, since this is a book about Jesus Christ, Judah witnesses Christ's crucifixion. Judah is us, we see it all through his eyes.

I'm glad I finally read the book. It is a classic. We know the story and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ allows us to live it with him.

* Photo used without permission from:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The List...A Short Dystopian Story

I thought, maybe…maybe it would be there. I mean, the law of averages must catch up with me at some point. I know my luck’s lousy, but come on! I entered the bookstore that was once a 7-Eleven at the end of an abandoned strip mall and hoped.

Some, well…most would disagree with me but the smell of an old used bookstore is one of the best smells in the world. Pages upon pages of slowly deteriorating paper colored with script waiting to be either read or left to decay and meet an end that befalls all physical things. I tell you, I can never get enough of that smell.

But was it there? Each day and I searched for it at the various kiosks and shops that still sold physical books. I looked for the book that my father first told me about, the book that—as a teenager—changed my life. My logical mind knew that these antique books were becoming rarer and rarer. For once a book was destroyed or used up or fallen apart so it could no longer be read it was not being replaced. It was illegal, after all.

But only certain books were destroyed. If a book was deemed “indecent,” or “not politically correct,” or in any way offensive it went on The List, and once it went on The List, it signaled a slow death knell of the work, regardless of its current or past importance. I knew I (or anyone else for that matter…) would never see a copy of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, or Catcher in the Rye, or Lord of the Flies again. They even hated The Count of Monte Cristo for some strange reason. And forget finding a copy of anything written by Ayn Rand. Funny, I keep seeing copies of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto translated into every language imaginable.

I knew as I walked down the various aisles that I’d probably end up with nothing, again. As I passed book after book of bland, non-offensive titles I smile. Only books not on The List were republished, all in digital form. They knew that, after enough years, all those awful books would disappear and if you were found in possession of “a bady,” they just upped your individual tax rate or threatened to take away your family’s healthcare until you turned it in. It wasn’t illegal to own a book on The List, just expensive. Something I had thought many times before returned to my mind. The Nazi’s burned books…now we just let them disintegrate—same result, just a slower process and without that pesky “book burner” label to deal with.

I pulled out a book that I thought it was it, but nope—disappointed again. Maybe at the next store I'd find it because one of these days, it’s going to be gone forever.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Times Two...Finished Books, New Books

I am so lucky.

I feel I'm lucky in a lot of ways, but I'm especially lucky when it comes to reading. There are people who love to read but don't have the time. There are people who don't like to read who have a lot of time.


Well, I have time and I love to read. 

Over the past couple of years I've had a job where I don't take a lot of calls, and because of this, I can listen to things. I listen to podcasts, the radio, and many times, audiobooks. I've written a lot of blog posts about audiobooks that I've "read." Even though I'm listening, I count it as reading. 

Last year I made it a point to do more actual reading and not just listening. I'm lucky enough to have someone drive me to and from work. Yes, it's with 40-60 other people also being driven to work--it's all how you see it. I have about an hour to an hour and a half of time on the bus each day I work and it's an excellent opportunity to read. I've been able to read all those books my friends have written and others I've had on my nightstand for years, waiting to be read.

Today I finished two books, one audio and one made of trees. I'll be blogging about each of them soon. And by finishing two books that means I can start two new books. Once I'm done with those, I'll blog about them then start two more.

See? I am so lucky.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ever Seen A Fire Rainbow?

Yesterday morning I stepped outside and saw a Fire Rainbow. This year marks half a century that I've been on the planet and I've never seen anything like it. I didn't even know what it was. My wife googled it and found out what it's called.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a clear picture of the event. Basically the sunlight was shining through a very small cloud above the mountains and the precipitation in the air split the light as it passed through the prisms in the water and allowed us to see the different colors.

You can see some amazing photographs of Fire Rainbows--just google the term and you'll be amaze at their beauty. Mine was small and I couldn't really get a good shot of what we saw. But, since I now know what they look like, hopefully I'll be better prepared to see--and photograph--them in the future.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Faulkner Made More Sense...A Short Story

The Weekly Writing Prompt!

It's Sunday night, a good time to write a bit of flash fiction. If you'd like to give it a shot, too, it's easy! And fun! Basically, go to the sites listed below and check out the picture and write a short story about it. Here are the official rules:

1) Use the above photo and five randomly-chosen words in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 or less (or a few more words if they're needed...).
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your story.
4) Use the Blue Link to add your story at Leanne's or Tena's websites--follow the instructions.
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

 Here Are The Five Words:


Come on! Give it a try! Here's my attempt!

Faulkner Made More Sense

"Hey Chuck, what you watching?" Sean said as he entered the living room after spending the past two hours cramming for a American Lit final. His brain needed a rest and Sean figured some mindless TV just might do the trick.

"It's Eastern European football," Chuck said, his eyes never leaving the screen.

"Oh, you mean like rugby?"

"No," Chuck said. "Well, kind of. It's more like American football than Australian or New Zealand."
"Really, how so?" Sean said as he sat down on the second-hand couch the college roommates bought at a yard sale at the beginning of last year. "Do they score touchdowns?"

"Yeah," Chuck said and reached for a bowl semi-filled with pretzels on the coffee table. "They call them Pollydonks. They're worth three points, except if you cross the goal line upside down, it's worth nine and it's called a grasshopper."
"You serious, Chuck?"

"Oh yeah! It's so much fun to watch. Sometimes teammates will lift a player completely upside down and carry him across the goal while he's holding the fitzoiy."

"The what?" Sean asked.

"The fitzoiy. Oh, yeah...I forgot. It's what they call the ball, a fitzoiy--it's an Estonian word which means "pumpkin."

"Now I see it," Sean said as they showed a player running with a large orange pumpkin-resembling ball. "Oh, what just happened?" Sean pointed to the TV as players ran to the center of the field and formed a line. They then ran like a snake around the pitch.

"Oh, they're forming a sausage line."

"A what?"

"Yeah, it's a sausage line. They do this to try and psych out the other team."

"No way!"

"Way! Oh, man! Look at that! They're doing a milkshake! They're actually pulling off a milkshake!"

"What the frick's a milkshake?"

"That's when the sausage line forms a circle and completely surrounds four of the other team's players--that's called a button. But when the other team then forms their own sausage line and surrounded the button--as long as the fitzoiy's not involved, they call that a milkshake, and they just did it, see?"

Sean had no idea what was going on. "But, why do they call it a milkshake?"

"Just watch!" Sean leaned into the TV as something he'd never seen before occurred on screen. As soon as the larger sausage line completed their circle, everyone on both teams ran into the center of the field. The referee grabbed the pumpkin and hurled it into the center of the players. As soon as it was caught, everyone in the circle threw the player up in the air then each team tried to carry the player toward their own goal line.

"That's a milkshake!" Chuck said.

Sean stared, his mouth agape. "I think I'll go back to Faulkner...he made more sense."

Word Count: 471

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some Of Our Most Important Buildings...In Lego

"Have you heard about that Lego display at the mall? It's still going on this weekend. Would you like to do that?"

"Yeah--that'd be fun! I've got the matinee so I should be home around 5-ish." I thought. You know, around 6pm there shouldn't be a lot of people at the mall. People will be finishing eating and then headed to see a movie. I'll bet there won't be very many people at the mall at all, I thought.

I was pretty much wrong.

The place was packed! And for good reason. The Lego displays of important buildings in America's history was pretty darn cool! I snapped a lot of pictures. We ended up staying an hour or so and the mall had a lot fewer people when we left. I guess all the kids had gotten to their movies by then.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Having The Courage To Dream...

I think everyone who has ever thought about being a writer, or a painter, or a dancer, singer, photographer, sculptor, magician (mime...), have wondered what it would be like to do it full-time. I learned quickly when I first began attending writing conferences and symposiums that there's a difference between someone who creates art part-time and those who can do it as a full-time gig.

Those that can are revered, honored, even sometimes worshiped.

Because it's tough.

Being a full-time writer, painter, dancer, singer, photographer, sculptor, magician, and even mime is tough. If it weren't, everyone would do it. At least, I think so. I know I would. If I could feed, shelter and clothe my family by writing full-time, I would do it in a heartbeat.

That's why I have so much respect for a fellow writer, Aly Grauer. I've written about Aly before. A few weeks ago her father began cancer treatment and this week she announced on her blog that she quit her day job. 

Alyson Grauer

She's going to be a full-time writer. Comments from many friends offered support on her blog (me included...). Some even said they wished they could do the same. I hope she finds success. I've read some of her stuff--it's good! She can definitely write. She released a novel last fall (you can pick it up: HERE) and even though it's not burning up the Amazon charts, she's not letting that stop her from her dream.

So, here's to Aly! May all your sentences make sense and your submissions be picked up! Good luck! Oh, and happy birthday, too!