Where there is SMOKE there is usually FIRE. Believe NONE of what you hear and HALF of what you SEE!
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Where there is SMOKE there is usually FIRE. Believe NONE of what you hear and HALF of what you SEE!

-L. Michelle

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Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer's love.Look at it now, plump and glossy, floating across Idaho as if it were a mammoth, mutated seed pod. Hear how it backfires as it passes the silver mines, perhaps in tribute to the origin of the knives and forks of splendid sterling that a roast turkey and a roast turkey alone possesses the charisma to draw forth into festivity from dark cupboards.See how it glides through the potato fields, familiarly at home among potatoes but with an air of expectation, as if waiting for the flood of gravy.The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion of our primitive and pagan luggage.Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of the Union Theological Seminary and Time magazine? Of course. At least twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony that takes place around a large dead bird?And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed, and to petition for blessings coveted?The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our tribe together.And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs, two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the gathering.Consider that the legs of this bird are called 'drumsticks,' after the ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and sacred of instruments. Our ancestors, kept their drums in public, but the sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, of the Wise Old Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with the drumstick is evoked the best of the pulse of the heart of the universe.Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys, flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill, achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause, great young hungers from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to the table, where we, pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder.Was Boomer Petaway aware of the totemic implications when, to impress his beloved, he fabricated an outsize Thanksgiving centerpiece? No, not consciously. If and when the last veil dropped, he might comprehend what he had wrought. For the present, however, he was as ignorant as Can o' Beans, Spoon, and Dirty Sock were, before Painted Stick and Conch Shell drew their attention to similar affairs.Nevertheless, it was Boomer who piloted the gobble-stilled butterball across Idaho, who negotiated it through the natural carving knives of the Sawtooth Mountains, who once or twice parked it in wilderness rest stops, causing adjacent flora to assume the appearance of parsley.

-Tom Robbins

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A man worth being with is one…That never lies to youIs kind to people that have hurt himA person that respects another’s lifeThat has manners and shows people respectThat goes out of his way to help peopleThat feels every person, no matter how difficult, deserves compassionWho believes you are the most beautiful person he has ever metWho brags about your accomplishments with prideWho talks to you about anything and everything because no bad news will make him love you lessThat is a peacemakerThat will see you through illnessWho keeps his promisesWho doesn’t blame others, but finds the good in them That raises you up and motivates you to reach for the starsThat doesn’t need fame, money or anything materialistic to be happyThat is gentle and patient with childrenWho won’t let you lie to yourself; he tells you what you need to hear, in order to help you growWho lives what he says he believes inWho doesn’t hold a grudge or hold onto the past Who doesn’t ask his family members to deliberately hurt people that have hurt himWho will run with your dreamsThat makes you laugh at the world and yourselfWho forgives and is quick to apologizeWho doesn’t betray you by having inappropriate conversations with other womenWho doesn’t react when he is angry, decides when he is sad or keep promises he doesn’t plan to keepWho takes his children’s spiritual life very seriously and teaches by exampleWho never seeks revenge or would ever put another person downWho communicates to solve problemsWho doesn’t play games or passive aggressively ignores people to hurt themWho is real and doesn’t pretend to be something he is notWho has the power to free you from yourself through his positive outlookWho has a deep respect for women and treats them like a daughter of GodWho doesn’t have an ego or believes he is better than anyoneWho is labeled constantly by people as the nicest person they have ever metWho works hard to provide for the familyWho doesn’t feel the need to drink alcohol to have a good time, smoke or do drugsWho doesn't have to hang out a bar with his friends, but would rather spend his time with his familyWho is morally free from sinWho sees your potential to be greatWho doesn't think a woman's place has to be in the home; he supports your life mission, where ever that takes youWho is a gentlemanWho is honest and lives with integrityWho never discusses your private business with anyoneWho will protect his familyWho forgives, forgets, repairs and restoresWhen you find a man that possesses these traits then all the little things you don’t have in common don’t matter. This is the type of man worth being grateful for.

-Shannon L.

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I have had so many Dwellings, Nat, that I know these Streets as well as a strowling Beggar: I was born in this Nest of Death and Contagion and now, as they say, I have learned to feather it. When first I was with Sir Chris. I found lodgings in Phenix Street off Hogg Lane, close by St Giles and Tottenham Fields, and then in later times I was lodged at the corner of Queen Street and Thames Street, next to the Blew Posts in Cheapside. (It is still there, said Nat stirring up from his Seat, I have passed it!) In the time before the Fire, Nat, most of the buildings in London were made of timber and plaister, and stones were so cheap that a man might have a cart-load of them for six-pence or seven-pence; but now, like the Aegyptians, we are all for Stone. (And Nat broke in, I am for Stone!) The common sort of People gawp at the prodigious Rate of Building and exclaim to each other London is now another City or that House was not there Yesterday or the Situacion of the Streets is quite Changd (I contemn them when they say such things! Nat adds). But this Capital City of the World of Affliction is still the Capitol of Darknesse, or the Dungeon of Man's Desires: still in the Centre are no proper Streets nor Houses but a Wilderness of dirty rotten Sheds, allways tumbling or takeing Fire, with winding crooked passages, lakes of Mire and rills of stinking Mud, as befits the smokey grove of Moloch. (I have heard of that Gentleman, says Nat all a quiver). It is true that in what we call the Out-parts there are numberless ranges of new Buildings: in my old Black-Eagle Street, Nat, tenements have been rais'd and where my Mother and Father stared without understanding at their Destroyer (Death! he cryed) new-built Chambers swarm with life. But what a Chaos and Confusion is there: meer fields of Grass give way to crooked Passages and quiet Lanes to smoking Factors, and these new Houses, commonly built by the London workmen, are often burning and frequently tumbling down (I saw one, says he, I saw one tumbling!). Thus London grows more Monstrous, Straggling and out of all Shape: in this Hive of Noise and Ignorance, Nat, we are tyed to the World as to a sensible Carcasse and as we cross the stinking Body we call out What News? or What's a clock? And thus do I pass my Days a stranger to mankind. I'll not be a Stander-by, but you will not see me pass among them in the World. (You will disquiet your self, Master, says Nat coming towards me). And what a World is it, of Tricking and Bartering, Buying and Selling, Borrowing and Lending, Paying and Receiving; when I walk among the Piss and Sir-reverence of the Streets I hear, Money makes the old Wife trot, Money makes the Mare to go (and Nat adds, What Words won't do, Gold will). What is their God but shineing Dirt and to sing its Devotions come the Westminster-Hall-whores, the Charing-cross whores, the Whitehall whores, the Channel-row whores, the Strand whores, the Fleet Street whores, the Temple-bar whores; and they are followed in the same Catch by the Riband weavers, the Silver-lace makers, the Upholsterers, the Cabinet-makers, Watermen, Carmen, Porters, Plaisterers, Lightemen, Footmen, Shopkeepers, Journey-men... and my Voice grew faint through the Curtain of my Pain.

-Peter Ackroyd

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Dear Neil Armstrong,I write this to you as she sleeps down the hall. I need answers I think only you might have. When you were a boy, and space was simple science fiction, when flying was merely a daydream between periods of History and Physics, when gifts of moon dust to the one you loved could only be wrapped in your imagination.. Before the world knew your name; before it was a destination in the sky.. What was the moon like from your back yard?Your arm, strong warm and wrapped under her hair both of you gazing up from your back porch summers before your distant journey. But upon landing on the moon, as the earth rose over the sea of tranquility, did you look for her? What was it like to see our planet, and know that everything, all you could be, all you could ever love and long for.. was just floating before you. Did you write her name in the dirt when the cameras weren't looking? Surrounding both your initials with a heart for alien life to study millions of years from now? What was it like to love something so distant? What words did you use to bring the moon back to her? And what did you promise in the moons ear, about that girl back home? Can you, teach me, how to fall from the sky?I ask you this, not because I doubt your feat, I just want to know what it's like to go somewhere no man had ever been, just to find that she wasn't there. To realize your moon walk could never compare to the steps that led to her. I now know that the flight home means more. Every July I think of you. I imagine the summer of 1969, how lonely she must have felt while you were gone.. You never went back to the moon. And I believe that's because it dosen't take rockets to get you where you belong. I see that in this woman down the hall, sometimes she seems so much further. But I'm ready for whatever steps I must take to get to her.I have seem SO MANY skies.. but the moon, well, it always looks the same. So I gotta say, Neil, that rock you landed on, has got NOTHING on the rock she's landed on. You walked around, took samples and left.. She's built a fire cleaned up the place and I hope she decides to stay.. because on this rock.. we can breath.Mr. Armstrong, I don't have much, many times have I been upside down with trauma, but with these empty hands, comes a heart that is often more full than the moon. She's becoming my world, pulling me into orbit, and I now know that I may never find life outside of hers. I want to give her EVERYTHING I don't have yet.. So YES, for her, I would go to the moon and back.... But not without her. We'd claim the moon for each other, with flags made from sheets down the hall. And I'd risk it ALL to kiss her under the light of the earth, the brightness of home... but I can do all of that and more right here, where she is..And when we gaze up, her arms around ME, I will NOT promise her gifts of moon dust, or flights of fancy. Instead I will gladly give her all the earth she wants, in return for all the earth she is. The sound of her heart beat and laughter, and all the time it takes to return to fall from the sky,down the hall, and right into love.God, I'd do it every day, if I could just land next to her.One small step for man, but she's one giant leap for my kind.

-Mike McGee

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The plane banked, and he pressed his face against the cold window. The ocean tilted up to meet him, its dark surface studded with points of light that looked like constellations, fallen stars. The tourist sitting next to him asked him what they were. Nathan explained that the bright lights marked the boundaries of the ocean cemeteries. The lights that were fainter were memory buoys. They were the equivalent of tombstones on land: they marked the actual graves. While he was talking he noticed scratch-marks on the water, hundreds of white gashes, and suddenly the captain's voice, crackling over the intercom, interrupted him. The ships they could see on the right side of the aircraft were returning from a rehearsal for the service of remembrance that was held on the ocean every year. Towards the end of the week, in case they hadn't realised, a unique festival was due to take place in Moon Beach. It was known as the Day of the Dead......When he was young, it had been one of the days he most looked forward to. Yvonne would come and stay, and she'd always bring a fish with her, a huge fish freshly caught on the ocean, and she'd gut it on the kitchen table. Fish should be eaten, she'd said, because fish were the guardians of the soul, and she was so powerful in her belief that nobody dared to disagree. He remembered how the fish lay gaping on its bed of newspaper, the flesh dark-red and subtly ribbed where it was split in half, and Yvonne with her sleeves rolled back and her wrists dipped in blood that smelt of tin.It was a day that abounded in peculiar traditions. Pass any candy store in the city and there'd be marzipan skulls and sugar fish and little white chocolate bones for 5 cents each. Pass any bakery and you'd see cakes slathered in blue icing, cakes sprinkled with sea-salt.If you made a Day of the Dead cake at home you always hid a coin in it, and the person who found it was supposed to live forever. Once, when she was four, Georgia had swallowed the coin and almost choked. It was still one of her favourite stories about herself. In the afternoon, there'd be costume parties. You dressed up as Lazarus or Frankenstein, or you went as one of your dead relations. Or, if you couldn't think of anything else, you just wore something blue because that was the colour you went when you were buried at the bottom of the ocean. And everywhere there were bowls of candy and slices of special home-made Day of the Dead cake. Nobody's mother ever got it right. You always had to spit it out and shove it down the back of some chair. Later, when it grew dark, a fleet of ships would set sail for the ocean cemeteries, and the remembrance service would be held. Lying awake in his room, he'd imagine the boats rocking the the priest's voice pushed and pulled by the wind. And then, later still, after the boats had gone, the dead would rise from the ocean bed and walk on the water. They gathered the flowers that had been left as offerings, they blew the floating candles out. Smoke that smelt of churches poured from the wicks, drifted over the slowly heaving ocean, hid their feet. It was a night of strange occurrences. It was the night that everyone was Jesus......Thousands drove in for the celebrations. All Friday night the streets would be packed with people dressed head to toe in blue. Sometimes they painted their hands and faces too. Sometimes they dyed their hair. That was what you did in Moon Beach. Turned blue once a year. And then, sooner or later, you turned blue forever.

-Rupert Thomson

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The Loneliness of the Military HistorianConfess: it's my professionthat alarms you.This is why few people ask me to dinner,though Lord knows I don't go out of my way to be scary.I wear dresses of sensible cutand unalarming shades of beige,I smell of lavender and go to the hairdresser's:no prophetess mane of mine,complete with snakes, will frighten the youngsters.If I roll my eyes and mutter,if I clutch at my heart and scream in horrorlike a third-rate actress chewing up a mad scene,I do it in private and nobody seesbut the bathroom mirror.In general I might agree with you:women should not contemplate war,should not weigh tactics impartially,or evade the word enemy,or view both sides and denounce nothing.Women should march for peace,or hand out white feathers to arouse bravery,spit themselves on bayonetsto protect their babies,whose skulls will be split anyway,or,having been raped repeatedly,hang themselves with their own hair.There are the functions that inspire general comfort.That, and the knitting of socks for the troopsand a sort of moral cheerleading.Also: mourning the dead.Sons,lovers and so forth.All the killed children.Instead of this, I tellwhat I hope will pass as truth.A blunt thing, not lovely.The truth is seldom welcome,especially at dinner,though I am good at what I do.My trade is courage and atrocities.I look at them and do not condemn.I write things down the way they happened,as near as can be remembered.I don't ask why, because it is mostly the same.Wars happen because the ones who start themthink they can win.In my dreams there is glamour.The Vikings leave their fieldseach year for a few months of killing and plunder,much as the boys go hunting.In real life they were farmers.The come back loaded with splendour.The Arabs ride against Crusaderswith scimitars that could seversilk in the air.A swift cut to the horse's neckand a hunk of armour crashes downlike a tower. Fire against metal.A poet might say: romance against banality.When awake, I know better.Despite the propaganda, there are no monsters,or none that could be finally buried.Finish one off, and circumstancesand the radio create another.Believe me: whole armies have prayed ferventlyto God all night and meant it,and been slaughtered anyway.Brutality wins frequently,and large outcomes have turned on the inventionof a mechanical device, viz. radar.True, valour sometimes counts for something,as at Thermopylae. Sometimes being right -though ultimate virtue, by agreed tradition,is decided by the winner.Sometimes men throw themselves on grenadesand burst like paper bags of gutsto save their comrades.I can admire that.But rats and cholera have won many wars.Those, and potatoes,or the absence of them.It's no use pinning all those medalsacross the chests of the dead.Impressive, but I know too much.Grand exploits merely depress me.In the interests of researchI have walked on many battlefieldsthat once were liquid with pulpedmen's bodies and spangled with explodedshells and splayed bone.All of them have been green againby the time I got there.Each has inspired a few good quotes in its day.Sad marble angels brood like hensover the grassy nests where nothing hatches.(The angels could just as well be described as vulgaror pitiless, depending on camera angle.)The word glory figures a lot on gateways.Of course I pick a flower or twofrom each, and press it in the hotel Biblefor a souvenir.I'm just as human as you. But it's no use asking me for a final statement.As I say, I deal in tactics.Also statistics:for every year of peace there have been four hundredyears of war.

-Margaret Atwood

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Loftus grew up with a cold father who taught her nothing about love but everything about angles. A mathematician, he showed her the beauty of the triangle's strong tip, the circumference of the circle, the rigorous mission of calculus. Her mother was softer, more dramatic, prone to deep depressions. Loftus tells all this to me with little feeling "I have no feelings about this right now," she says, "but when I'm in the right space I could cry." I somehow don't believe her; she seems so far from real tears, from the original griefs, so immersed in the immersed in the operas of others. Loftus recalls her father asking her out to see a play, and in the car, coming home at night, the moon hanging above them like a stopwatch, tick tick, her father saying to her, "You know, there's something wrong with your mother. She'll never be well again. Her father was right. When Loftus was fourteen, her mother drowned in the family swimming pool. She was found floating face down in the deep end, in the summer. The sun was just coming up, the sky a mess of reds and bruise. Loftus recalls the shock, the siren, an oxygen mask clamped over her mouth as she screamed, "Mother mother mother," hysteria. That is a kind of drowning. "I loved her," Loftus says. "Was it suicide?" I ask. She says, "My father thinks so. Every year when I go home for Christmas, my brothers and I think about it, but we'll never know," she says. Then she says, "It doesn't matter." "What doesn't matter?" I ask. "Whether it was or it wasn't," she says. "It doesn't matter because it's all going to be okay." Then I hear nothing on the line but some static. on the line but some static. "You there?" I say. "Oh I'm here," she says. "Tomorrow I'm going to Chicago, some guy on death row, I'm gonna save him. I gotta I gotta testify. Thank God I have my work," she says. "You've always had your work," I say. "Without it," she says, "Where would I be?

-Lauren Slater

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I smiled sweetly at his embarressment, beginning to walk again, kicking up golden leaves. I heard him scuffling leaves behind me. "And what was the point of this again?" Forget it!" Sam said. "Do you you like this place or not?"I stoped in my tracks, spinning to face him. "Hey." I pointed at him; he raised his eyebrows and stopped in his tracks. "You didn't think Jack would be here at all, did you?"His thick black eyebrows went up even farther. Did you evan intend to look for him at all?"He held his hands up as if a surrender. "What do you want me to say?"You were trying to see if I would reconize it, wern't you?" I took anouther step, colsing the distance between us. I could feel the heat of his body, even without touching him, in the increasing cold of the day. "YOU told me about this wood somehow. How did you show it to me?"I keep trying to tell you. You wont listen. Because you're stubbon. It's how we speek- it's the only words we have. Just pictures. Just simple little picters. You HAVE changed Grace. Just not your skin. I want you to believe me." His hands were still raise, but he was starting to grin at me in the failing light.So you brought me here to see this." I stepped forward again, and he stepped back.Do you like it?"Under false pretence." Anouther step forward; anouther back. The grine widenedSo do you like it?"When you knew we wouldn't come across anybody else."His teeth flashed in his grin. "Do you like it?"I punched my hands into his chest. "You know I love it. You knew I would." I went to punch him, and he grabed my wrists. For a moment we stood there like that, him looking down at me with a grin half-caught on his face, and me lookingup at him: Still Life with Boy and Girl. It would've been the perfect moment to kiss me, but he didn't. He just looked at me and looked at me, and by the time I relizeed I could just as easily kiss him, I noticed that his grin was slipping away. Sam slowly lowered my wrists and relesed them. "I'm glad." he said very quietly.My arms still hung by my sides, right where Sam had put them. I frowned at him. "You were supposed to kiss me."I thought about it."I just kept looking at the soft, sad shape of his lips, looking just like his voice sounded. I was probably staring, but I couldn't stop thinking about how much I wanted him to kiss me and how stupide it was to want it so badly. "Why don't you?" He leaned over and gave mr the lightest of kisses. His lips, cool and dry, ever so polite and incredibly maddening. "I have to get inside soon," he whispered "It's getting cold

-Maggie Stiefvater

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Yes, Phebe was herself now, and it showed in the change that came over her at the first note of music. No longer shy and silent, no longer the image of a handsome girl, but a blooming woman, alive and full of the eloquence her art gave her, as she laid her hands softly together, fixed her eye on the light, and just poured out her song as simply and joyfully as the lark does soaring toward the sun. "My faith, Alec! that's the sort of voice that wins a man's heart out of his breast!" exclaimed Uncle Mac, wiping his eyes after one of the plaintive ballads that never grow old. "So it would!" answered Dr. Alec, delightedly. "So it has," added Archie to himself; and he was right: for just at that moment he fell in love with Phebe. He actually did, and could fix the time almost to a second: for at a quarter past nine, he thought merely thought her a very charming young person; at twenty minutes past, he considered her the loveliest woman he ever beheld; at five and twenty minutes past, she was an angel singing his soul away; and at half after nine he was a lost man, floating over a delicious sea to that temporary heaven on earth where lovers usually land after the first rapturous plunge. If anyone had mentioned this astonishing fact, nobody would have believed it; nevertheless, it was quite true: and sober, business-like Archie suddenly discovered a fund of romance at the bottom of his hitherto well-conducted heart that amazed him. He was not quite clear what had happened to him at first, and sat about in a dazed sort of way; seeing, hearing, knowing nothing but Phebe: while the unconscious idol found something wanting in the cordial praise so modestly received, because Mr. Archie never said a word.

-Louisa May

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I come to call you Home.Those who resonate with my words and follow them internally, will find that place and know It's completeness, its joy and fullness.I have come to call you away from suffering, from fear and from a life of sorrow and into your own, divine Being.I did not come here to give you decorative stories, to excite your imagination, or sign you up for some long program but to show you how available Truth is, and to remind you that you are never separate from It.No person on this planet is apart from the Truth in the Heart and yet the world is so vast and varied in expression.The greatest good and greatest evil is here.In this forest of duality and complexity you must find your way Home.You must win your Self back. Wisdom and trust will be your compass.Many voices came to call us but we are here today because we are freshly called by the voice of God, Love, Truth.Do not come half way home, but fully home.I know the voice that called you is true and Truth and that where you are being called to is also Real.It is inside your own Heart.It is what gives me the strength to be here.I love to see the beings being set free from the hypnosis of conditioning; from fears, false projection and the grip of ego.And I know that to be liberated is not difficult.It requires only openness and the sincere desire to be free.I don't need to hear anything about your past.Your stories are of no interest to me.That is not how I know you.I know you only through your Heart.That is my true connection with you -the living power of God.It is That which I respond to in youand it is only This that I know.I can only keep reminding you of It by pointing you again and again to the obvious in yourself.Now you must respond to my pointing.This will complete this yoga of seeing.Find and be one with That which is imperishable.Be merged in the Absolute.Don't go to sleep.

-Mooji

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It was getting difficult to see exactly what was going on in the pool and a fourth officer jumped in as one came up with the unconscious form of the first cop. While others pulled the half-drowned man from the pool, three more wrestled Skorzeny to the surface and dragged him to the steps at the shallow end of the pool. He wasn't struggling any longer. Nor was he breathing with any apparent difficulty. The biggest of the three cops later admitted to punching him as hard as he could in the stomach and Skorzey doubled over. Another half-dragged him, still on his feet, shirt torn, jacket ripped, out of the pool and put a handcuff on his left wrist.Skorzeny pulled his arm away from the cop and, suddenly straightening, elbow-jabbed him in the gut, sending him sprawling and rolling back into the pool. Skorzeny turned toward the back fence and was now between the pool and a small palm tree. Before him were two advancing officers, pistols leveled. Behind him two more circled the pool. Skorzeny lunged forward and all fired simultaneously. The noise was deafening. Lights in neighboring houses began to go on.Skorzeny's body twitched and bucked as the heavy slugs ripped through his body. His forward momentum carried him into the officers ahead of him and he half-crawled, half-staggered to the southeast corner of the yard where another gate was set into the fiberglass fencing. Two more officers, across the pool, cut loose with their pistols, emptying them into this writing body which danced like a puppet. Another cop fired two shots from his pump-action shotgun and Skorzeny was lifted clean off his feet and slammed against the gate, sagging to the ground.En masse from both ends of the pool they advanced, when he gave out with a terrible hissing snarl and started to rise once more. All movement ceased as the cops, to a man, stood frozen in their tracks. Skorzeny stood there like some hideous caricature, his shredding clothing and skin hanging like limp rags from his scarecrow form. His flesh was ripped in several places and he was oozing something that looked like watered-down blood. It was pinkish and transparent. He stood there like a living nightmare. Then he straightened and raised his fist with the cuff still dangling from it like a charm bracelet.'Fools!' he shrieked. 'You can't kill me. You can't even hurt me.'Overhead, the copter hovered, the copilot giving a blow-by-blow description of the fight over the radio. The police on the ground were paralyzed. Nearly thirty shots had been fired (the bullets later tallied in reports turned in by the participating officers) and their quarry was still as strong as ever. He'd been hit repeatedly in the head and legs, so a bulletproof vest wasn't the answer. And at distances sometimes as little as five feet, they could hardly have missed. They'd seen him hit.They stood frozen in an eerie tableau as the still roiling pool water threw weird reflections all over the yard.Then Skorzeny did the most frightening thing of all. He smiled. A red-rimmed, hideous grin revealing fangs that 'would have done justice to a Doberman Pinscher.

-Jeff Rice

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Telegraph RoadA long time ago came a man on a trackWalking thirty miles with a pack on his backAnd he put down his load where he thought it was the bestMade a home in the wildernessHe built a cabin and a winter storeAnd he ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shoreAnd the other travellers came riding down the trackAnd they never went further, no, they never went backThen came the churches, then came the schoolsThen came the lawyers, then came the rulesThen came the trains and the trucks with their loadsAnd the dirty old track was the telegraph roadThen came the mines - then came the oreThen there was the hard times, then there was a warTelegraph sang a song about the world outsideTelegraph road got so deep and so wideLike a rolling river ...And my radio says tonight it's gonna freezePeople driving home from the factoriesThere's six lanes of trafficThree lanes moving slow ...I used to like to go to work but they shut it downI got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be foundYes and they say we're gonna have to pay what's owedWe're gonna have to reap from some seed that's been sowedAnd the birds up on the wires and the telegraph polesThey can always fly away from this rain and this coldYou can hear them singing out their telegraph codeAll the way down the telegraph roadYou know I'd sooner forget but I remember those nightsWhen life was just a bet on a race between the lightsYou had your head on my shoulder, you had your hand in my hairNow you act a little colder like you don't seem to careBut believe in me baby and I'll take you awayFrom out of this darkness and into the dayFrom these rivers of headlights, these rivers of rainFrom the anger that lives on the streets with these names'Cos I've run every red light on memory laneI've seen desperation explode into flamesAnd I don't want to see it again ...From all of these signs saying sorry but we're closedAll the way down the telegraph road

-Mark Knopfler

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The Sun King had dinner each night alone. He chose from forty dishes, served on gold and silver plate. It took a staggering 498 people to prepare each meal. He was rich because he consumed the work of other people, mainly in the form of their services. He was rich because other people did things for him. At that time, the average French family would have prepared and consumed its own meals as well as paid tax to support his servants in the palace. So it is not hard to conclude that Louis XIV was rich because others were poor.But what about today? Consider that you are an average person, say a woman of 35, living in, for the sake of argument, Paris and earning the median wage, with a working husband and two children. You are far from poor, but in relative terms, you are immeasurably poorer than Louis was. Where he was the richest of the rich in the world’s richest city, you have no servants, no palace, no carriage, no kingdom. As you toil home from work on the crowded Metro, stopping at the shop on the way to buy a ready meal for four, you might be thinking that Louis XIV’s dining arrangements were way beyond your reach. And yet consider this. The cornucopia that greets you as you enter the supermarket dwarfs anything that Louis XIV ever experienced (and it is probably less likely to contain salmonella). You can buy a fresh, frozen, tinned, smoked or pre-prepared meal made with beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, prawns, scallops, eggs, potatoes, beans, carrots, cabbage, aubergine, kumquats, celeriac, okra, seven kinds of lettuce, cooked in olive, walnut, sunflower or peanut oil and flavoured with cilantro, turmeric, basil or rosemary … You may have no chefs, but you can decide on a whim to choose between scores of nearby bistros, or Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Indian restaurants, in each of which a team of skilled chefs is waiting to serve your family at less than an hour’s notice. Think of this: never before this generation has the average person been able to afford to have somebody else prepare his meals.You employ no tailor, but you can browse the internet and instantly order from an almost infinite range of excellent, affordable clothes of cotton, silk, linen, wool and nylon made up for you in factories all over Asia. You have no carriage, but you can buy a ticket which will summon the services of a skilled pilot of a budget airline to fly you to one of hundreds of destinations that Louis never dreamed of seeing. You have no woodcutters to bring you logs for the fire, but the operators of gas rigs in Russia are clamouring to bring you clean central heating. You have no wick-trimming footman, but your light switch gives you the instant and brilliant produce of hardworking people at a grid of distant nuclear power stations. You have no runner to send messages, but even now a repairman is climbing a mobile-phone mast somewhere in the world to make sure it is working properly just in case you need to call that cell. You have no private apothecary, but your local pharmacy supplies you with the handiwork of many thousands of chemists, engineers and logistics experts. You have no government ministers, but diligent reporters are even now standing ready to tell you about a film star’s divorce if you will only switch to their channel or log on to their blogs.My point is that you have far, far more than 498 servants at your immediate beck and call. Of course, unlike the Sun King’s servants, these people work for many other people too, but from your perspective what is the difference? That is the magic that exchange and specialisation have wrought for the human species.

-Matt Ridley

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I once wrote you a letter and you never replied, which makes me wonder if you ever received it. This time it's a more personal delivery - and I need a reply, even if it's not the one I want.I'm listening to you - I can hear every word, however softly you speak - and I'm half-agony, half-hope. You're saying that men are realists - that, when the woman they love is no longer available, they move on. Well, believe me, I tried - and I thought I had. But seeing you again, after so many years, just proved how little I knew...You told me to trust myself. So here I am back in Bath, putting everything on the line for a second chance with you. Is that what you want, too? Whatever your answer, remember this: I may not deserve you - when I think of how I've behaved, I know I've shown little self-control and even less forgiveness - but I've never stopped loving you.You're talking about heartless men... But I have a heart, and it's the same one you almost broke ten years ago, and it belongs to you, and only you, even more than it did then. And yes, I'm a realist: if you no longer love me, I will accept it. But don't say that only a woman can keep on loving someone who's no longer part of her life! Because I will keep on loving you until there are no stars in the sky.Tell me tonight how you feel. If there's any chance of you loving me back, then I'll wait for you as I should have waited before. If not, say the word and I'll leave you in peace. But I'll never forget you, or what we had, or what might have been. Rick

-Juliet Archer

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About his madmen Mr. Lecky was no more certain. He knew less than the little to be learned of the causes or even of the results of madness. Yet for practical purposes one can imagine all that is necessary. As long as maniacs walk like men, you must come close to them to penetrate so excellent a disguise. Once close, you have joined the true werewolf.Pick for your companion a manic-depressive, afflicted by any of the various degrees of mania - chronic, acute, delirious. Usually more man than wolf, he will be instructive. His disorder lies in the very process of his thinking, rather than in the content of his thought. He cannot wait a minute for the satisfaction of his fleeting desires or the fulfillment of his innumerable schemes. Nor can he, for two minutes, be certain of his intention or constant in any plan or agreement. Presently you may hear his failing made manifest in the crazy concatenation of his thinking aloud, which psychiatrists call "flight of ideas." Exhausted suddenly by this riotous expense of speech and spirit, he may subside in an apathy dangerous and morose, which you will be well advised not to disturb.Let the man you meet be, instead, a paretic. He has taken a secret departure from your world. He dwells amidst choicest, most dispendious superlatives. In his arm he has the strength to lift ten elephants. He is already two hundred years old. He is more than nine feet high; his chest is of iron, his right leg is silver, his incomparable head is one whole ruby. Husband of a thousand wives, he has begotten on them ten thousand children. Nothing is mean about him; his urine is white wine; his faeces are always soft gold. However, despite his splendor and his extraordinary attainments, he cannot successfully pronounce the words: electricity, Methodist Episcopal, organization, third cavalry brigade. Avoid them. Infuriated by your demonstration of any accomplishment not his, he may suddenly kill you.Now choose for your friend a paranoiac, and beware of the wolf! His back is to the wall, his implacable enemies are crowding on him. He gets no rest. He finds no starting hole to hide him. Ten times oftener than the Apostle, he has been, through the violence of the unswerving malice which pursues him, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of his own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Now that, face to face with him, you simulate innocence and come within his reach, what pity can you expect? You showed him none; he will certainly not show you any.Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, 0 Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all the perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.Mr. Lecky's maniacs lay in wait to slash a man's head half off, to perform some erotic atrocity of disembowelment on a woman. Here, they fed thoughtlessly on human flesh; there, wishing to play with him, they plucked the mangled Tybalt from his shroud. The beastly cunning of their approach, the fantastic capriciousness of their intention could not be very well met or provided for. In his makeshift fort everywhere encircled by darkness, Mr. Lecky did not care to meditate further on the subject.

-James Gould Cozzens

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