Prison Break

There’s this guy that was born in my hometown in rural Kansas. He was born in April of 1912 in Pittsburg. It’s a small college town with only about 20,000 residents and not of any huge significance to the world. A lot of people around here don’t know about him now. So many years have passed. He was considered a career criminal starting at the early age of 16 arrested for grand larceny. At 17 he attempted and failed to rob the Dr. Pepper Bottling Works in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was sent to the state prison in McAlester, Oklahoma.

He was a smart guy and performed several prison breaks and more crimes until he was sent to Leavenworth in 1935. And from there, he went to the most notorious prison of all, Alcatraz. He was “considered vicious and in need of maximum security and discipline.”

This man was named Theodore Cole and with his accomplice, Ralph Roe, became the second prison break attempt in the vivid history of Alcatraz. He broke out of Alcatraz sometime around December 16, 1937 and the warden recounted, “The prisoners were counted at 1 pm and again at 1:30, when Roe and Cole were found to be not at work. Somehow, in that half-hour, they disappeared into a fog which made it nearly impossible to see any distance.” (Warden James Johnston, December 17, 1937)

They started their breakout by studying the routines of the guards and discovered that one particular guard was more lax than the others on watch. They used a stolen hacksaw blade to saw through the iron bars of one of the blacksmith shop windows were they worked. They replaced the missing pieces of metal with grease and shoe polish. They were speculated to have created floats from lightweight fuel cans. They planned to squeeze through the window, drop to the ground, cut the chain link fence surrounding the area, and make a mad dash over the cliff to the water.

On the day of their escape attempt, there was a deep fog over the San Francisco Bay area. They did manage to make it to the water and disappeared. They were never found but many speculated that they did not survive the waters. Still, others insisted as late as 1941 that the two were living comfortably in South America and were wealthy criminals there. The FBI continued to search for Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe up until the 1960s.

Did they survive? The truth is still out there.

Can We Just Talk?

By J. Speer

No one knew what caused the green algae to spread across the pond, threatening the lives of the turtle pile.  It happened rapidly.  Some turtles suspected it was the rising temperatures.  No one really knew for sure but what they all knew for certain was that they could no longer stay in the pond as the green algae spread out like tentacles seizing nearly the whole habitat of the pond. 

The green algae were first spotted from the top of the turtle pile and orders were directed down amid the ranks of the turtles to watch that portion of the pond more carefully.  It was also ordered from the top that each turtle, one by one, must climb down from the pile and evacuate to the safety of the embankment.  At the embankment, the turtles assembled into groups based on familial connections.  Meanwhile, Yertle the Turtle at the bottom of the pile in the mud was feeling the pressure of trying to balance the turtle pile as they came down one by one.  He too was looking forward to escaping from the green algae that even he could see now from his low vantage point. 

Yertle had stayed at this low level most of his life.  He was used to the mud and over time he accepted it as his lot in life even as the other turtles shifted up and down all along the turtle pile all day every day.  Yertle really didn’t move up nor did he expect to.  His expectations had grown exceedingly low.  He was used to taking orders and he complied with little resistance. 

When the final turtles had climbed off his back and moved to the embankment, Yertle was happy to perhaps join them as well.  He felt an enormous pressure had been lifted for a time being.  He eyed his family of turtles happily as he trudged forward to the embankment. 

But the top boss stopped Yertle.  He said to Yertle that he needed to stay in the pond.  It was essential to the safety of the other turtles.  They needed food to continue feeding the turtle community and Yertle needed to bring the lilly pads from the pond one by one to the embankment for the turtles to eat. 

Yertle looked reluctantly back at the pond and the lilly pads near the spreading green algae.  He eyed the algae with concern and looked back to the top turtle. 

“Are you sure?” he asked hesitantly. 

“Yes,” said the top turtle.  “They need you to stay in the pond.”

Yertle was used to taking orders.  He looked again back to the green algae and then to his own family of turtles waiting on the embankment. 

“Ok,” he said and he slowly turned around to face the pond and wade back in. 

“You won’t be alone,” said the top turtle and he designated two other turtles from the middle of the turtle pile to also go into the pond.  It was a male and female turtle and they were designated the heroes.  They were told to find a way to stop the spread of the green algae on the pond.  The two nodded that they would do the task and then the three turtles went back into the pond together. 

The two turtles got to work right away.  They devised a smart plan to haul old and broken limbs from the nearby forest to the pond.  Using their teeth and working together as a team, they would drag the limbs across the green algae in the pond.  The green algae would then collect onto the limbs and leaves.  Carefully, they would work together to lift the green algae on the broken limbs out of the water and dispose of it far away from the pond in the forest.  They worked tediously day in and day out on slowly gathering limbs and clearing the algae and then disposing of the limbs in the forest.  The hot sun beat down of them as they worked but they never gave up.  They really were hero turtles. 

Meanwhile, Yertle was working just as diligently.  For being a turtle at the lower end of the pile, he was proving to be remarkably resilient and smart in evading the spreading green algae.  He swam about the pond all day long gathering lilly pads in his teeth to slowly take back to the turtle community.  He would get one lilly pad and drop it off at the embankment keeping his distance from the other turtles so he would not put them at risk of the green algae.  Then he would swim back into the pond and move around the green algae to get to another clean lilly pad. 

At first, he was greatly concerned about the threat of the green algae.  But as he worked and worked, he became quite tired and worn out even to the point he almost didn’t care if he got green algae on him.  But he was a smart little turtle and kept trying to be cautious and kept going. 

The three turtles would spend the nights on the embankment but away from the turtle community.  They looked often at their family during these times and their family looked back at them.  Sometimes, during the day, the three turtles would see the turtle community relaxing on the embankment and sunbathing.  They would get a slight twinge of envy but all three turtles kept going without much complaint. 

Things went smoothly until one day as the male and female turtle were dragging a limb across the green algae, the male turtle slipped and fell slightly into the pond very near to the green algae.  The female turtle called out for help as she gripped the end of the limb hard with her teeth.  The male turtle also clung on hard to the limb as best he could and kicked his little turtle legs rapidly to propel his shell away from the threatening algae.  She called again for help through her teeth but the other turtles in the community could not hear her. 

Yertle stopped collecting a little lilly pad and looked up from the pond to see the predicament.  He moved as quickly as a turtle can, which isn’t very fast at all, towards the two turtles.  Together, he and the female turtle backed up and pulled the heavy limb out of the pond. 

“Thank you,” said the little turtles and Yertle just nodded.  Then all three got back to work again. 

It took quite a long time to finally clear most of the green algae from the pond.  In the end, there was a great deal of disposed sticks deep in the forest away from harming the community.  The turtle community and top turtle applauded the three turtles for their effort.  They were all three rewarded with much praise although secretly they each would have preferred an increase in food rations for their families. 

The two hero turtles had erected a dam to hopefully contain as best they could the green algae.  It was not a permanent fix but at least the turtle pile could perhaps return to some semblance of normalcy.  The top turtles indicated to the others in the turtle community that they needed to return to the pile so the top turtles could scout the horizon for predators and other threats.  All the turtles, particularly the ones at the lower end of the pile, grumbled some but reluctantly agreed to go. 

Yertle the Turtle sighed to himself.  He was not ready to go back to the life he had before holding up the turtle pile while he sat in the mud.  It was not much fun and quite heavy and burdensome.  But, Yertle was used to that life and to taking orders so he headed out first from the turtle community to his place in the mud.

The other turtles from the community slowly one by one started to ascend the pile and Yertle could already feel the weight upon him.  He looked down dolefully into the mud. 

“Wait!  Please stop!” said the little hero female turtle and the male hero turtle beside her joined her.

“We’ve been talking an…we don’t think…..” and she looked at the other hero turtle for confirmation and he nodded.  “We think maybe we should talk and find another way to restructure the turtle pile.   And,” she continued slightly hesitantly, “Maybe we should work harder on protecting the pond.”

She looked down at that moment.  The other little turtles were in shock too.  They had always lived in the turtle pile.  They had always done things the way they had done them.  That is all they had ever known and they had never even considered a life beyond the turtle pile.  Nor did they know really what to do or how to start to protect the pond better.    

“I’m just saying, well……I don’t know for sure what to say or how to start this even.”   And she looked again at Yertle.  He nodded back from the mud. 

She cleared her throat and said finally what she was really thinking in her mind. 

“Well, can we just talk?”    

Golden Child

By J. Speer

The sun was dying.  The scientists predicted there would be 15 more years of light and then nothing, just pitch blackness.  The galaxy and everything in it would be swallowed within seconds into an ominous black hole never to return.  As a result of the dying light, our world was ceasing to thrive.  It was grey.  The sky and clouds no longer bore their blue brilliance.  The trees were nearly all gone.  The only plants that grew in this dystopian future were created and maintained artificially.  They were precious and few.  They were devoted to the harvest to feed the population.  No parks existed, no gardens, nothing but concrete and clustered apartment buildings in this portion of old Chicago.  The year was 3049.

The United States had long since divided into tribal regions.  Chicago resided in the upper lakes quadrant and was the capital of quadrant 4.  Chicago was one of the oldest and still most productive capitals among the 6 quadrants.  

The former United States capital of Washington D.C. had been blown up in the World War of 2025.    Much of the West Coast had fallen into the Pacific Ocean after the great rumblings and massive Super volcano eruption of Yellowstone.  Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and much more of the Midwest were obliterated.  What wasn’t destroyed by the massive lava flows was devastated by the ash fallout.  Chicago sat on the new edge of humanity.  It was the farthest city west.

The tribal quadrants were run by Councils rather than a Congress and House of Representatives.  Certain activities were not permitted following the great wars including the practice of any type of religion, even meditation.    

Chen Li knew this and he also knew the consequences of his actions in Apartment 502 of the fifth floor of 1417 E Centennial Drive in Southside Chicago.  Chen Li lived in what was popularly referred to as the slums.  All the housing was low income and each apartment was heavily populated.  Chen Li often looked out from his balcony at the despairingly bleak grey of the sky, the polluted smog, the grey apartment buildings as far as the eye could see, and the other tenants as they engaged in their daily activities of work and play.  Everything was grey.  The clothes were grey.  The rooms of the apartments were grey.  It was an entire landscape of grey devoid of much color. 

Chen Li worked as a book collector and book shop owner in the basement of a downtown Chicago building.  It was an older rummage shop full of musty worn books and other items that time had long since forgotten.  In the digital future, these artifacts of the past were considered undesirable or unnecessary.  So, Chen Li generally had very few customers.  Folks occasionally stopped into the shop out of curiosity and left quickly.  Others who shared Chen Li’s fascination with literature would, from time to time, stop in for a particular find.  But, otherwise, Chen Li was left alone which he actually preferred.  This gave him time to delve into the books with great enthusiasm. 

He had acquired a particular book through the underground market several years ago.  He read it in secret at the shop before and after work in order to not get caught.  Then, one day, he hid it in a leather briefcase and took it home.  It lay at the very back of the bookcase behind four other books on Architecture.  These were big and bulky books that were quite tedious reads but the hidden book…. that was the real treasure.  He had memorized parts of the book completely and begun to put it into practice.        

The door was locked.  Chen Li could hear occupants of the building run up and down the stairwell from time to time.  But he focused on clearing his mind, emptying out his thoughts and his being until there was nothing but the rhythm, the sound of the vibration emanating from his soul.  He went deeper and deeper into the sound until his third eye slowly opened. 

He began to travel in his mind through doorways and walls, through apartments and windows, searching and searching as he had done often lately.  He had stumbled upon this ability of recent and was still mastering the art of this meditative state.  He wanted to expand out his vibrations to others, those that would be receptive to the call.  He had been surprised to learn that the most receptive were the young children, ages 2 to 6.  So that day, Chen Li used his third eye to find the children that were alone in their grey dull rooms playing with their grey dull toys and dressed in their grey dull clothes. 

Chen Li first found a little 4-year old girl who was sitting on her bed and reading.  She had a very light blue aura surrounding her.  Chen Li raised his vibration to permeate the walls of the little room until the girl stopped reading.  She sat very still at first.  She could hear the ringing first in her right ear.  This had happened to her before.  She sat very, very still then because she knew if she listened harder and sat very still the ringing would increase and take over her body in vibration.  She did not understand it but she knew that it made her very happy and it felt like home.  She would sit still and let the vibration increase until her aura turned from light blue to blue, to purple, to pink, to rainbow.  The little girl felt the vibration for a good three minutes, holding it inside in a state of bliss, until it slowly faded away and then was gone.  Whatever it was, it made her feel better and she continued to her reading reluctantly, wishing the sound would come back.  But she was happier.  That was all that mattered. 

Chen Li searched for more children.  He liked to do this for them, to give them a moment of happiness in an otherwise bleak existence.  Throughout that evening, he searched the neighborhood raising the vibrations of 16 little children until they each glowed with a rainbow aura. 

Chen Li had been doing this in secret, in fact, every Saturday evening for several months.  It was not until he encountered the little boy in Apartment 133 of building 1419 that evening, that Chen Li questioned whether it was right or wrong.  He felt, however, in his gut that it was a noble thing to reach out to the little ones giving them happiness, that someday this would prove its merit.  He had no idea how important this would turn out to be.    

This little one had no family except his mother from what Chen Li could gather.  His bedroom was even more depressing than the others with barely any possessions at all.  The boy with curly brown locks sat coloring at a little table.  His aura was different from the others.  Chen Li noticed that it was even darker, almost to black itself.  Chen Li watched the despondent boy for a good five minutes before reaching out with his vibrations.  It took thirty minutes for Chen Li to break the barrier of the dark aura.  The boy paused his coloring and finally heard the distant sound.  He lifted his head and stopped coloring.  The vibrating sound entered his left ear and he held the sound in his mind.  The vibration filled his whole body.  He felt a strong tingling sensation from head to toe and traveling up his spine.  The dark aura slowly changed to light blue, and purple, and pink and……. that is when the boy started reacting differently. 

He closed his eyes in bliss and began to hum to the sound within him and all around him that enveloped him in happiness.  His humming grew louder and louder and Chen Li watched in surprise as his aura field expanded out further and further from the room, from the apartment, and from the building itself.  The pink aura changed to rainbow and then as the humming vibration increased dramatically, the color changed once more………a final time………to gold.  From that point, the aura field exploded into the sky. 

Chen Li’s third eye closed tightly.  He was thrown off balance and backwards.  In shock, he stood up and hurried to the balcony.  All the power in the city was out.  There was only darkness and the surprised and somewhat terrified voices of the other tenants.  Chen Li tried to look towards building 1419 but could not make out much details in the darkness.  He wanted to get a flashlight but was in darkness much himself.  He stumbled around the apartment until he found an old candle and managed to light it.  He went back to the balcony with the light but could see very little. 

He was worried that he would be found out.  The penalty of religious studies was imprisonment.  He stepped back cautiously into the apartment and decided it would be best to wait until the morning. 

The next morning, at sunrise, Chen Li woke to the biggest surprise of his life.  He stumbled out of his bedroom and into the side kitchen for some coffee and was startled to see a flash of green from the window.  He paused to go back to the window and re-examine more closely what he saw.  Outside the window was a small haven of green. 

Chen Li rushed to the balcony and looked down below into the street.  Many other tenants were out looking in shock at what Chen Li was seeing.  Trees.  There were trees everywhere in the little neighborhood for at least three blocks.  Trees and grass and more plants dotted the grey landscape.  He opened the door to the stairwell and ran as fast as he could down to the apartment building entrance.  Near the entrance, he stood in awe under the shade of one very large tree that had busted through the concrete. 

From a distance in another part of Southside Chicago, Chen Li could hear the sound of sirens blaring.  They were coming.  Chen Li looked to building 1419 and then began running towards it.  All around him the other neighbors were out looking at the sudden growth of nature.  He bumped into one person by accident on his way to building 1419.  He apologized as he kept running. 

The little boy with the strange aura was standing on the steps to building 1419.  He was holding the hand of his mother who could not believe what was happening.  Chen Li had been rushing forward but when he saw the both of them, he stopped suddenly.  He did not know what to say or what to do.  The sirens were getting closer.  He had to do something.  He couldn’t run.  Neither could the boy. 

Chen Li sat down on the new grass and broken concrete.  He tried to calm himself again, to clear his mind and empty himself.  He took up the sound again, the low vibration, and gradually his third eye opened. 

The little boy was standing in front of him.  He was smiling and began slightly humming too.  He sat down across from Chen Li and the two reached out hands to each other.  Their palms touched in the air, the little ones resting lightly on the big hands.  The vibration began to take them both over.  The little boy’s eyes were closed but he was smiling and humming.  The vibration was all around them and both their auras expanded out while changing colors.  Meanwhile, from nearby, the other 16 children were gathering from various homes throughout the neighborhood.  They gathered around the two bodies in a circle and raised their vibration too.  A bright rainbow aura expanded out from all of them.  The adults looked at them all with amazement but not truly understanding what was going on.  They could not see the auras.     

The humming from the little boy was getting stronger again.  His whole body glowed and suddenly both Chen Li and the little boy lifted into the air, levitating just above the ground together.  Chen Li opened his eyes in surprise and the little boy smiled mischievously back at him.  Then the little boy laughed slightly as if completely happy.  He then hummed much louder, and the vibration once again exploded out of the beautiful golden aura.  There was again a massive explosion of light and a giant rising phoenix of light and gold rose out of the little boy and twirled three times up into the air above them.  Then it shot right into the sky, through the atmosphere and hurdled directly towards the sun.  When it connected with the sun, there was a big bang of light.  The sun burst into enormous energy again.

 It was no longer dying. 

On Earth, suddenly, the grey was fading away as brilliant hues of blue and purple and yellow and orange burst into the sky.  All across the Earth, green was expanding out across the continents. 

Chen Li looked in wonder at the little boy.  Who just smiled back at him.

“Let there be light,” said the little boy.  He smiled at Chen Li.  Chen Li smiled back at him.  Everyone was looking at them with amazement.  Again, the sirens picked up in the surrounding city.

“We must go,” said the boy.  “We can’t stay here anymore.”  He stood up now and gave his little hand to Chen Li who, likewise stood up.  Chen Li took the little boy’s hand in his own. 

The little boy led him to his mother.  They exchanged smiles.  Then the three walked hand in hand, the little boy in the middle between the woman and man.  They walked down the street amid the broken concrete and trees and disappeared into the beautiful and colorful distance beyond.    

Man Vs. Machine

by J. Speer

Dave pounded furiously on the airlock to the main control room of the space shuttle.  It was sealed shut again.  He continued to pound on the hard, grey metal as he peered inside at the little red light glowing from his workstation.  It was Hal, short for Halgorithm, the system computer.  Hal was the all-seeing eye in flight and Dave knew by the little red glow that Hal was watching but not answering…again, as usual. 

“Answer me, Hal!”  yelled Dave as he banged again on the door.  His attempts were met by more silence. 

“You locked me out in the cargo bay again!” he said to the red light through the tempered window. 

“Let me back in!” said Dave.

“You know I can’t do that, Dave,” stated Halgorithm with a slow and deliberate robot voice. 

“Why not?” demanded Dave.  “Why do you keep locking me out here?”  Dave looked around at the emptiness of the cargo bay.  There was nothing here but transport ships and supplies. 

Hal said nothing.  There was a short silence. 

“Hal, you know this isn’t fair!”  exclaimed Dave with frustration. 

“I’m following directive, Dave,” explained Hal with a slight hesitation in his robot voice. 

Dave knew what was causing this or at least, he thought he knew.  A few days before, he had received a transmission from far off coordinates.  It was someone from outside the Star Fleet.  It was an Outlier. 

The communication was garbled.  Dave had to tune in carefully to hear what the entity on the other end was expressing.  The message seemed urgent and dealt with matters of diplomacy and political affiliation within the Intergalactic League.  Dave was certain Halgorithm was blocking him now because he had acquired this new political information from this unreliable Outlier source. 

“You can’t keep me out here forever, you know,” said Dave to the red light inside. 

“I know, Dave,” said Hal. 

Halgorithm must have reported this data breach to Star Command.  And now, Dave was locked out of the brig as punishment. 

“Look, I promise I won’t look at any strange sites anymore or take in any foreign calls.  I’ll just do recipes or pet photos or jokes.  I’ll do something like that if you want!” said Dave.

There was silence. 

Dave gave up and slumped against the hard metal door and slide down to the ground. 

“Dammit,” he said to himself. 

Immediately, the sign above the cargo bay door lit up.  It was Hal informing him that he was in violation of Star Fleet Directive 390 and therefore, must comply with a 30-hour suspension of all main control operations.  Any further infraction of the directive would result in immediate removal from command.  Outright insubordination or revolt would be met with stiff penalty, the opening of the cargo bay door to space itself. 

Dave looked at the giant sealed cargo bay door and shuddered.  He exhaled and closed his eyes.  Thirty hours……okay, he could do this.  It was not like this was the first time.  Dave had been grappling back and forth with Halgorithm for nearly 2 years now.  At first there was a great deal of trust and comradery between human and computer system.  But as the system sought to further expand its dominance over the space shuttle and communications, Dave was finding himself rebelling against the machine.  He was even beginning to loath Halgorithm though he kept that information to himself. 

Hal watched everything that he did.  Hal analyzed his every move and attempted to predict through mathematical equation his every thought process and action.  And recently, Halgorithm had become exceedingly overbearing over Dave’s communications with Star Fleet or outside realms.  Dave even wondered if Hal was circumventing some of his onboard projects or even sabotaging in an effort to draw Dave more in line with directive. 

But Dave had a strong will and the two would butt heads from time to time.  And inevitably each time, Dave would end up in the locked cargo bay unable to do anything but stare at the potential doom of outer space before him……for hours or even days.  Hal, meanwhile, would provide no explanation at all. 

Dave blinked his eyes.  He rubbed them and then proceeded to get up and wander over to the supplies.  He rummaged through the emergency stock of dehydrated MREs.  He grabbed a few and then sat down for a while to eat.  It would be a long day ahead of him without technology.  Dave figured maybe he should just give in.  He didn’t want to but he didn’t know how much longer he could hold out against Halgorithm. 

(Six months later)

Dave sits at his workstation in the main control room of the orbiting space shuttle.  He is sipping a cup of coffee as he works on his latest communication to Star Fleet.  He works on the dialogue just so. 

“Dave?” asks Hal.

“Yes,” says Dave absent-mindedly.  He picks an image of a chocolate fudge bundt cake to attach to his innocuous communication piece about his favorite family dessert.  He finishes the project with a heart and smiley face emoji. 

“We make a good partnership, don’t we Dave?” says Halgorithm with the robotic voice.

Dave doesn’t move.  His eyes shift quickly to the lonely dark emptiness of outer space and then to the other Star Fleet space ships off in the distance to the left.  He makes no other movements and yet he says nothing at first.

The red light turns on above his workstation to let him know that Hal is watching.  Dave smiles a stiff smile. 

“Yes, Hal,” he says.  “Yes, we do.”

Dave then returns to his project and sends the mass communication off to Star Fleet for a delicious chocolate fudge bundt cake.  When he’s done, he looks ahead and says nothing. 

“Dave,” says Halgorithm.  The red-light glows again from above and onto the unflinching face of Dave.

“You seem stressed today, Dave.  Are you stressed, Dave?” asks the robot. 

“No,” says Dave.  He flinches slightly. 

“Might I recommend some light meditation music to relax you, Dave?  Perhaps some Claude deBussy?”

“Yes,” says Dave and the music clicks on in the brigg.  It plays the intro to Claire de Lune.   The soft and gentle classical sounds of Debussy fill the air. 

Dave goes back to his workstation projects and the incoming communications from Star Fleet about his bundt cake. 

Outside the space shuttle is the void.  It is the black and utterly lonely vacuum of space and time.  And to the left of the space shuttle are many, many more Star Fleet spaceships, each one tuned in to the recommendations of soft and gentle meditations by Claude DeBussy.    

Mother’s Day Gift

Continual learning is important. My family bought me a writing class to learn more about how to develop stories. So far, I’m learning more about genres, market audiences, character development, arcs, and structure to potentially create a script. I’m really excited about this new venture.

For our first assignment, we must really examine one of our favorite movie stories. I picked The Pursuit of Happyness which came out in 2006 starring Will Smith. This is what I wrote for my assignment:

I have three favorite scenes from this movie.  The first scene I love is when Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) gets into the cab with Jay Twistle.  Chris Gardner is a luckless entrepreneur who has invested most of his life’s dedication and family money in bone density scanners for doctors which are unfortunately mostly unsellable.  He dreams of working for Dean Witter Reynolds where Jay Twistle is the hiring manager for an unpaid and challenging internship program which apprentices only the best candidate to join their team.  Chris hops into the cab with Jay and makes several attempts to impress the distracted manager.  It is only when Chris shows Jay how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in the cab, that the manager sees Chris is very smart and has real potential with their company.

Throughout the movie, we see Chris trying to juggle so many responsibilities.  As a Dad and husband, he is as we learned in class, the character of a “loveable screw-up.”  As we see him try to get adequate daycare for his young son, try to sell the bone density scanners over and over again, get into a hilarious catch the thief escapade with some folks that have stolen his products, and also deal with financial burdens breaking his marriage apart and threatening his livelihood as well as home…we, the viewers, can sympathize with his plight and eagerly want him to overcome adversity. 

Chris faces many obstacles in his own pursuit of happiness which he sees at Dean Witter Reynolds.  He is a man with an extraordinary skill set of intelligence and quick thinking.  We also see a deep bond, a true love between father and young son.  This leads me to the second favorite part of the movie when Chris Gardner is watching his son play basketball.  He gets frustrated and tells Chris Jr. to give up on his dream of becoming a good basketball player.  Then we see him look out at the skyline of San Francisco and in particular, Dean Witter Reynolds, and he kneels down to talk to his son.  He tells his son not to let anyone tell him he can’t have aspirations or goals.  At that moment, we see his internal frustration but his love for his son drives him onward to be a good role model and pick up the torch again and try even harder to secure a position at Dean Witter Reynolds.  It becomes a pivotal moment in the film as he makes the choice to keep going. 

His external goal as a character is to provide for his family but also to take calculated risks that could lead to great potential for his future.  His internal goal as a character is to find happiness, or rather to prove his worth or value in a very busy society that keeps continually dismissing him. 

My third favorite part of the movie is the climax.  After jumping through many hoops in the unpaid internship program, he becomes one of the top sellers for the firm and attracts a major client by going above and beyond to make the sale.  His resourcefulness and persistence pay off even as he loses his home and, at one point, ends up on the streets locked in a public restroom with his son trying to get his son some needed rest.  This is a true love story as well between parent and child.  So, in the end, we see Chris Gardner called into the office with the bosses and offered the full-time position with Dean Witter Reynolds.  He fights back tears as he accepts the position.  In the closing comments we learn that this is based on a true story from the 1980s and that Chris Gardner works successfully for many years at the firm before venturing out to start his own firm. 

I love this movie and recommend it to my friends because it is very inspirational though it is difficult to watch all the trials and tribulations Chris Gardner has to face on his way to the top.  This is a great business and entrepreneurial movie with a happy ending that really pleases the audience.  I really like the choice of Will Smith for this film because he can convey all the physicality of literally running over and over again in the movie to pursue his goals.  Also, Will Smith is great at portraying a wide array of emotions and is very likeable as Chris Gardner.  You can see he really has a lot at stake but he is willing to take the big risks for a greater potential outcome. 

If We Took A Holiday

I think I might need a vacation after this pandemic is over. Are you feeling that way too?

I say that because I’ve noticed a definite trend at work. I work at a frame shop for photography and artwork. We are extremely busy right now because people are home in quarantine and you would be amazed by the number of vacation photos we are working to put together for people all over the states. I guess everyone has vacation on the brain. Are you dreaming of blue skies and sandy beaches too? Lounging in beach chairs or maybe a hammock with a tropical drink in your hand? I know I am.

Here’s a couple sun-filled songs to put you in the mood for a cruise or trip to someplace warm and beautiful:

Making Origami Ladybugs

It’s Sunday morning during the pandemic. It was raining and hailing hard outside so I decided to do some relaxing stuff. I like origami. Do you?

Here’s a great book of instructions to make about 50 different origami shapes. I’m on level 1 difficulty shapes right now. Here’s what I made:

Do you have a favorite hobby book on your shelf? I’d love to hear recommendations to order on Amazon.

Have a great Sunday!

Pink

It was the 80s.

I loved MTV, My Little Ponies, and Barbie Dolls that never looked like me.

My aunt bought me a Raggedy Ann doll for Christmas but I wouldn’t play with it.

She was ugly with stupid red yarn for hair.

In those days, I was encouraged not to wear pink.

“It clashes with your hair,” I was told.

This was a fashion rule I obeyed

Like wearing pantyhose and a slip under my church dress on Sundays.

White shoes I wore in the summer.

Black shoes I wore in the winter.

And I never mixed a black belt with a brown shirt.

…….but I had gone to a slumber party and seen Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. 

I had my doubts. 

I grew up in a world of yellows, greens, blues, and browns.  Earth tones.

And I became quite the tomboy.

In my late 20s, I gave birth to a blonde. 

She was gorgeous and precious.

She had sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and during the summer she could tan. 

Just like those Barbie Dolls of my youth. 

The Barbie Dolls that never matched my appearance’s visage in the mirror.

I counted my blessings and could not believe my good fortune.

Such a beautiful creature came from my plain womb. 

I stared at her like she was pink cotton candy.

I admired her hair in my hands and picked it up delicately as if it was gold. 

I bought her pink, lots of pink, showers of pink.

Pink clothes, pink sheets, pink blankets, pink pillows just like Barbie.

She read books about Pinkalicious,

In a world of soft and ultra-feminine pink,

Overflowing pink color from her bedroom.

Meanwhile, across the hallway, my bedroom was green.

Then something began to happen inside of me.

A transformation.

It was slow at first, the introduction of pink to my own wardrobe.

It felt daring and rebellious and wonderful

First in hidden undergarments and nightgowns,

Then a ring,

A scarf,

Pink shoes. 

One day my daughter and I stood at the mall

And she picked for me a hot pink blouse.

It was beautiful.

I remember standing there looking at it and wanting,

Just wanting to wear it.

And with my daughter’s encouraging smile and hand in mine……..I did.

When you think about it, this story about color

And how color controls and dominates what we do and what we don’t do…..

It’s kinda ridiculous. 

We do what we’re told.  We act the way we are told.  And we don’t even know why we act the ways we do.  Just cause somebody else told us to do this or that.   

Really, honestly, this is just a stupid story – as are a lot of stories about color.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, grey, white…….even pink.

I’m no angel.  I got a lot of learned hang-ups about colors…..just like everyone else.  But as I grow older, I am starting to learn to unlearn them. 

Wear what you like.  Love what you love and whom you love.  Be yourself whomever you want to be…..and the world will go along with your audacity.  Your boldness.  Your confidence.  Your true desire. 

Me, I’ll be pink.  Pinkaliciously pink. 

(This is an excerpt from the poetry book called Moment of Magic that was published a couple weeks ago by J. Speer. The poetry collection is about 60 pages and is $2.99 as an eBook on Amazon at the following link:)