Dad Reflexes

At last, it can be revealed! My entry in the Ulysses writing contest was a short story titled, “Dad Reflexes.” It, along with several other winners, was published on the Ulysses blog yesterday. They also included a brief summary of their thoughts on each entry. Here’s what they said about mine:

The premise of this story intrigued us immediately: a superhero who has no idea that he has super powers. How cool is that? The tight dialogues bring in a thrilling speed. Although this is only a short story, the hero’s »Dad Reflexes« seem to be just the first episode in a series of heroic events. We are curious what might happen next in the life of our »oblivious« superhero Del.

“Tight dialogues?” I’ll take it.


Name Drop!

More to come later, but here’s the short version of last week’s excitement. The fine folks at Ulysses recently sponsored a writing contest to celebrate Disney’s Flora & Ulysses. I entered, and was one of ten finalists in the shh…not telling yet group. The winning entries are available now on their blog, and if you’re the kind who needs proof, you can see my name at that same address. They should be publishing the remainder of the entries in the next month or two, and I’ll provide an update when mine is available.


Good Riddance

There was an article in The Atlantic recently titled, “Trump’s Presidency Is Over. So Are Many Relationships.” There’s a lot in it that resonated with me, in particular the following:

“If we fundamentally can’t agree that Black lives matter or that people have human rights to be protected and respected…that is a very different divide than, ‘We can’t agree about trickle-down economics.’”

Unfortunately, that’s as hard-hitting as the article gets. For the most part it takes the tack of “why can’t we all get along,” and “should who you voted for matter so much?”

Yes, it should. And it does.

These relationships are not falling apart because Republicans lowered taxes on the rich. They’re falling apart because Republicans have become a fundamentally bigoted, authoritarian cult. Look at the GOP’s 2020 platform, which boils down to “Whatever Trump says! 👍 Do I need to trot out the “fine people on both sides” thing again? Or sharpie gate? Or the half a million dead people from COVID? Or gassing people for a photo op? Or the January 6 invasion of the capitol? Or Qanon? The revival of Jim Crow laws? What they’re doing to trans people? The list is horrific and seemingly endless.

I would argue that as painful as it might be, it’s good that these relationships are ending. Think of it in terms of Karl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance. There are beliefs that should be considered beyond the pale, and if friend or family espouse them, cutting them out is the only moral thing to do. They are not “people you disagree with.” They are bad people.


I got jibber jabbered

(No, this is not the thing I hinted at earlier in the week. That’s still coming.)

Got my COVID vaccine shot this morning, thanks to Chandra. Let’s be honest, left to my own devices I probably wouldn’t have gotten the vaccine until it was required for work. Not because I don’t think it’s important, but because adulting…is not my strong suit. Plus the whole needle thing, about which I remain a big baby. True fact: as the nurse was preparing the injection, she remarked on how they kept the room on the cold side, while all I could think was, “Man, is it hot in here?”

Anyway, Chandra got her jab a couple days ago, and we both got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so we’re done except for the waiting. It’s only been an hour & a half, so I haven’t been hit with any side effects yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that whatever I get will be mild…and in a couple weeks, game night!



More later. Shh-hh…secrets.



Looking forward to the “who cares about COVID”/”OMG WHY DON’T THEY DO SOMETHING ABOUT COVID” version of this that we all know is coming. 🙄


So How Was YOUR Friday?

A rough approximation of Friday's path of destruction

I was still working through my morning email when there was a loud “BANG” in the house. Thinking the cats had done something spectacular, I ran upstairs to find Chandra already on the phone to 911, and a flatbed truck smooshed up against the house. The path above is not 100% accurate, but it’s as close as I can gather. In particular, the first couple vehicular hits are probably not in the right place, and Chandra says the dude plowed through our yard twice. There’s more about the incident on the Fall River Reporter.

We’re fine, the cats are fine, as far as I know all the vehicle occupants are fine, and the house should be easily enough repaired. Our Friday was pretty much shot, though.


This is an “I Can Read” Post

Because this is about all I have the mental energy for today, for reasons big (that truck) and small (Tr***). Over the summer, I designed and printed a little paper holder for one of those tear-off paper cubes. It has a pen holder, and a slot where I can drop the slips of paper. I keep it on my nightstand, and use it to keep track of the books I’ve read…because why not. I’m sure somewhere out there, Mrs. Millen is thinking, “Great, Jason. Why didn’t you do this forty years ago?”

Anyway, it only covers the latter half of the year, so there’s a bunch of stuff not included in it. The first couple date ranges are estimates. I used orange for purely prose works, and green for graphic novels and comics. The items in red I couldn’t get through. Mr. Moore, if you’re out there, don’t take offense at how I got distracted from your novels. I just found Shakespeare for Squirrels hard to get into, and it was just bad luck that From a Certain Point of View arrived when it did. I’m a sucker for those collections.



Scary Dating Stories

It’s mid-morning on a Sunday, and a group of friends are having brunch at a popular spot downtown. The plates and bowls on the table haven’t been cleared yet, though they are mostly empty. Conversation has briefly paused while a waiter finishes topping off everyone’s drinks. Mimosas for the ladies, and a Bloody Mary for Doug. Mark has nothing.

Once the refills are done, Kate says, “In honor of Halloween, how about we share our scariest dating stories?”

Lauren shoots eye daggers across the table at Vanessa. “Did you put her up to this?”

Vanessa grins into her mimosa. “Maybe.”

Doug scoots his chair back and announces, “I think I’m going to get some fresh air. Mark, you want to join me?”

“Dude, it’s forty degrees outside.”

Doug gives him a look that says, do you really not see where this conversation is going? He gives Mark about a second and a half to register this, then says, “I’ll be out on the patio if you want to join me,” and leaves.

Vanessa is by now grinning from ear to ear. She says, “Okay, I’ll go first. Stalker, restraining order.”

Amanda and Tracy follow next:

“Attacked a work friend. Restraining order.”

“Roofied. Restraining order.”

Mark stands up abruptly. “You know what, I think I could use some fresh air, after all.”

The women at this point are in a groove, and barely acknowledge him. Heather chimes in next. “Told me I was the love of his life on our second date, blah blah blah… Restraining order.”

Kate looks around the table, confused. “These aren’t really stories. ‘Blah blah blah’?”

Vanessa dismisses her concerns with a wave. “Shhh, it’s okay. We’re getting to the good part. Lauren, I believe you were next?”

Lauren offers a feeble protest. “You’ve all heard this story multiple, multiple times. Do I really need to tell it again?”

Everyone around the table agrees that yes, she absolutely must tell this story again. 

“And no shortcuts,” orders Tracy.

Amanda chimes in, “Because we will know.”

Lauren takes a deep drink from her mimosa and begins. “Fine. So I had been seeing this guy for a while, nothing serious. We had come back to his place after an afternoon movie and dinner. I had parked my car there earlier and was going to go home, but he invited me inside first, and I figured it was still early, so why not. He pours us both a glass of wine, and then asks if I mind if he ‘takes off this monkey suit.’ I said, ‘Sure.’ I mean, he’s the one who decided to wear a coat and tie to see some old B-movie, but whatever.”

“What was the movie?” asks Heather.

“’Invaders from Mars.’ This guy was super into science fiction.”

Tracy snickers, “Ooh, foreshadowing.”

“Can I continue? So anyway, he’s gone for like, fifteen or twenty minutes. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s forgotten I’m there, when all of a sudden the lights go out. At first I think it’s a blackout, but then I see all the little red and green LED lights are still glowing on the TV and stereo. Some kind of whirring sound starts up down the hallway, and I’m like…what the hell? Then a super-bright light starts strobing out in the hallway, and I see fog billowing out of it. A shadow appears, and then there he is, dressed in costume. He’s got a fake head on that’s bald with giant black eyes, basically your classic grey alien look. He’s got weirdly long knobby fingers, and must be wearing platforms of some kind, because his head is practically scraping the ceiling.”

“So it’s like a full body suit then?” asks Vanessa.

Lauren shoots back, “Do you want to tell this?” 

“No, no. You’re doing fine. I’m just interested.”

Lauren spares a moment to impale her friend with a few more optical daggers, then continues. “No, not a full body suit. It had the head and arms, whatever he had on his feet, but the middle part…well, there was no middle part.”

The only person hearing this for the first time, Kate gasps, “He exposed himself?”

Tracy pantomimes a hand job and cackles, “Take me to your beater!”

Ignoring this, Lauren continues, “Yeah, so he shows up like, I don’t know, Gort or an extra from the X-Files, his junk completely hanging out. Which I should say, that part took me a while to realize with the lights and everything else. Anyway, he raises one of his weird alien hands and declares in a really loud voice, ‘Be not afraid, earthling. I mean you no harm. I merely wish to learn more about your strange ways.’“

“Oh my God, what did you do?” asks Kate.

“Well, at first I just stared. All my brain could muster was, ‘wha-at the fu-uck is happening.’ But he just stood there with the lights flashing, fog pouring into the room and his hand raised like I’m supposed to take it. I don’t know how long he stood there waiting, but eventually I just figured fuck it. My calendar’s clear tomorrow, let’s do some alien autopsy.”

Vanessa adds, “Plus, long knobby fingers.” Lauren shrugs.

Kate at this point is vigorously shaking her head. “Uh uh, nope. I would have run away so fast I would have punched an outline of my body in the door, like Wil E. Coyote.”

“Okay, so we go to his bedroom, which is thankfully not strobing like the hallway, but he’s got it lit in some sickly green color. He doesn’t lay on the bed, he just stands there. With the mask on, I can’t tell what he’s even looking at. I’m trying to figure out what to do next, when he points at my chest and says in that same loud voice, ‘The females on my planet have three breasts.’ All I can say to that is, ‘Yeah, I just have the two, sorry?’ Then he says, ‘Everything on my planet is in threes.’ At this point, I look him up and down trying to figure out what he’s talking about, because all I see is one head, two arms, two legs, his chest is covered in latex so who knows what’s going on there, and then the standard bait and tackle. I say, ‘You mean your internal organs?` So then he slowly moves his hand to his junk, and lifts up his pecker to expose his nuts and says, ‘You may inspect yourself, if you like.’”

Everyone watches with glee as Kate throws her hand over her mouth and whispers in horror, “No!”

“So I grab it, or them, and sure enough, there are three of the little buggers in there. I blurt out, ‘What the hell? Are these real?’ He’s so proud, he drops out of character and says, ‘I got an implant. It’s usually on the bottom, or in the back. It’ll be just like having sex with an alien. I even have mating jelly.’”

“Wait, ‘mating jelly’?” asks Kate.

“Yeah, I never did find out what he meant by that. So anyway, at this point I’m not even thinking sexy times, but I am definitely checking out what’s going on down there. I’m squeezing it trying to figure out if it’s plastic or silicone or what, when the thing pops out of my fingers.”

“You broke it?” asks Kate. 

“Not…exactly. As best as I can figure, it squirted free and pinballed around in there, punching his real testicles like speed bags. All I know is, all of a sudden he’s screaming, he takes a step kind of sideways and kind of backwards, loses his balance, falls over and smacks his head on the nightstand, which knocks him unconscious. That’s when I pretty much Wil E. Coyoted out of there. He never called me back.”

Vanessa raises her glass in salute and says, “God, I love that story.”

Lauren took a sip of her own mimosa and asks Kate, “So, what about you?”

Stunned, Kate says, “Oh, uh…my last date told me I reminded him of his mother.”

Everyone around the table shudders in horror as Vanessa signals the waiter for refills all around.