Power Grid Failure Chapter Three

Good afternoon and Happy Thanksgiving! It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce the third chapter of my story Power Grid Failure. This week the person who is known as Him is cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes. We are having Vick’s VapoRub Turkey.

Yes, we are having a lovely…what?

We are having Vick’s VapoRub Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I am very excited.

No, you insipid Maltese. That is most definitely not what we are having for Thanksgiving dinner.

It is this year’s hottest recipe. I saw it on Tik Tok.

Are you mad?!

No. I rubbed Vick’s VapoRub all over the turkey early this morning.

You what?!

Him is just about to put it in the oven. I can smell the delicious fumes from here. I am breathing very, very well.

We’ve got to wash it off! How…why…I don’t even what to know! Hurry! Good grief! How am I supposed to enjoy a wonderful meal and watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving now?! I must rush off but before I go here is chapter three of Power Grid Failure. Adieu!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Three

“Do you think we’re trapped in here?” Windy asks Martin as they stand inside the dark unmoving elevator car.

“Try the emergency button again,” Martin says.

Windy tries pushing the large red button for the fifth time. “It’s hopeless. We’re stuck in here, Marty.”

“Don’t call me Marty. Only my wife calls me Marty and I hate it.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see a way out of here.”

“We’ll do like they do in the movies. I’ll open the ceiling, climb up on top and look around.”

“Don’t people end up falling that way?”

“Only bad guys. I’m a good guy.”

“I’m not sure that makes sense…”

“Of course, it makes sense. I’ll get up there and survey the situation.”

“Honestly, Martin. You’re afraid of heights.”

“Where did you get that idea?”

“It’s in your files.”

“You went looking through my personal files?”

“I’m an HR representative. It’s my job.”

“Just get ready to hoist me up, will you?”

“I genuinely don’t believe this will work.”

Mr. Peak takes off his wool blazer and loosens his tie. “Okay, now make a step with your hands like this,” he demonstrates lacing the fingers of his hands together. “I’m going to put my foot right there and hoist myself up to the ceiling, shove it aside and pull myself up.”

“What if your weight breaks the cables and we go plummeting to our death?”

“Good grief, we’re not going to plumet to our deaths, Windy. I’m going to have a look around and see if I can find a way to get us out.”

“Do you think you’ll be able to see?”

“Of course, I’ll be able to see.”

“But there’s no light in here. What if there’s no light out there?”

“The emergency lights should be switched on by now.”

Windy shakes her head and hums skeptically. “I will help you do this, Martin. But after you’re up there, I’m going to bang on the doors to see if anyone can hear us.”

Martin sighs and shakes his head. “Fine. Just help me up.”

Windy attempts to get as wide a stance as she can in her restrictive pencil skirt. She bends her knees for support and Martin puts his right foot on her hands and pushes with his left. He reaches for the ceiling and suddenly notices he cannot open the top.

“What’s the matter?” Windy asks.

“I can’t open it.”

“Why?”

“It doesn’t open.”

“You know, I have a nephew who works for the fire department. I think I remember him saying they don’t have elevator ceilings that passengers can open anymore.”

“Why?”

“Well, I think he said so people can’t get on top of an elevator and fall. The only way to open the top of an elevator is by a key only firefighters have.”

“Blast!”

“Come down here, Martin.”

Martin steps down off her hands.

“Let’s try knocking on the doors and see if someone can hear us and get us out.”

Martin sighs and nods his head. They start pounding on the elevator doors.

“You seriously play Dungeons and Dragons?” Sloan asks Adams.

“What’s your hobby?” Tiffany asks Sloan.

“I play racquetball.”

“You…really?” Adams says.

“What?”

“Well…you don’t look like you’re in all that great of shape.”

Tiffany’s eyes widened, surprised at Adam’s candor. She snorts despite herself. 

Sloan turns red and takes a step into Adams. “For your information, I play racquetball at my apartment complex five times a week.”

“Do they have weights at your apartment complex because those are great for building muscle.”

“I wouldn’t talk if I were you, D&D boy. You aren’t exactly winning any Mr. Universe contests.”

“You know, maybe we should go and see what that tech writer and janitor guy are doing.”

“Fine. Let’s go.”

“I’m going to try and open the doors,” Reynolds says to the elevator.

“What?” Windy says on the other side.

“The janitor is going to try and open the doors,” Crystal says to the elevator a little louder than Reynolds.

“He’s a janitor,” Windy says. “He’s not maintenance.”

“Look, lady,” Reynolds says to Windy. “I used to work in maintenance at one point so give me a chance here.”

“Can’t someone call maintenance?”

“She already tried. No one is picking up.”

“Try again.”

“I’m going to get a couple of tools.”

Inside the elevator Windy turns to Martin and says, “They’re going to get us out.”

“I heard,” Martin says. “How?”

“The janitor says he used to work in maintenance.”

“People say a lot of things. Just because he says he worked in maintenance doesn’t mean it’s true.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that, Martin.”

“That’s why you work in HR.”

“What if he screws up and makes it worse?”

“I…have faith in him.”

Martin rolls his eyes. “Of course, you do.”

Strapping on his headlamp, Reynolds takes the stairwell down to the floor where the maintenance office is. The emergency lights light the way. Being a custodian gives Reynolds the keys to almost every room in the building. And that includes maintenance.

If one were to think about it this gave Reynolds a lot of power. And if one were to be honest it would not be the first time Reynolds has taken advantage of said power. He opens the stairwell door and heads over to where maintenance is located. He grabs his keycard on his retractable cord and unlocks the door. But once he’s inside finding the tools is another thing all together. He needs a drop key to get the loading system to open the doors. A drop key is a half a foot long metal dowl with a long flat metal knuckle on the end. Not a sophisticated tool but a necessity just the same.

Reynolds doesn’t mind rescuing Windy from the elevator, but he and Mr. Peak have history. It is tempting to just leave Peak in there, Reynolds thinks, but keeping the guy stuck in an elevator shaft isn’t the way to build back any bridges.

Reynolds starts searching on the shelves against the wall. They must keep it in here somewhere. He sees a strongbox on the top shelf. He grabs a Little Giant step ladder that’s leaning against the wall, opens it, and climbs up. Of course, when he checks the strongbox, it’s locked.

“Great,” Reynolds says. “Thanks guys.”

This of course means two things. Either he can try and figure out the code or he can break open the box. If he tries to come up with the combination for the lock, that could take a whole lot of patients and time, neither of which he has right now. There are four dials on the thing, and he’d have to get them all right. Prying the thing open sounds good to Reynolds.

He starts searching around for something to wedge between the box and the lid. But apparently, maintenance doesn’t like leaving crowbars hanging around. The room is well organized so if they wanted to keep crowbars in plain view they would have. But Reynolds is sure they keep them out of sight so employees can’t come in and borrow one to use on an annoying coworker.

Against one of the walls there’s a steel cabinet where every door had a combination lock. Beside that there’s a cabinet with a heavy metal mesh front. Aiming his headlamp straight inside he sees a couple of crowbars leaning up against the corner.

“Great,” he says. “Just great.”

Reynolds plops down in one of the maintenance chairs and stares at the locked-up tools. After a minute he picks up the strong box and sets it on the desk in front of him. He looks at the four numbers the lock is set on: 7392. He tries to open it on that setting but just as he figured it’s not the right combination. He sighs and with his thumb turns all four numbers to zero. He turns the first number to one and tries the lock. Then he turns the first number back to zero and the second number to one and tries the lock.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: FREE GUY (2021)-HBO Max

October, November, and December are usually the months when the best and the brightest films of the year make their public debut. These are often serious films determined to make their way into the minds of Oscar voters. But after a big thanksgiving dinner they are probably not the movies most folks want to sit down and watch. During the holiday most people want something solidly written and entertaining which is why this week, before the slew of heavy stories, I’m recommending this one.

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank teller living a normal everyday life…except he’s not. His bank often gets robbed, there are shootouts and car chases in the streets, and he obsesses over a mysterious young woman named MolotovGirl whom he passes on the street every day. He first notices her when he hears her singing the song “Fantasy” which happens to be his favorite tune. It turns out Guy is an NPC (non-player character) in a video game named Free City, a highly popular multi-player game owned by Antwan (Taika Waititi) an unpleasant eccentric tech mogul and CEO of Soonami Studios who owns the game. Young game creators Keys (Joe Keery) and Millie (Jodie Comer) believe Antwan stole the code from their original game called Life Itself, a sandbox game which integrated a unique artificial intelligence programing into its NPCs. Millie plays the game on a regular basis trying to prove their code was stolen while Keys reluctantly holds a tech support job for Soonami Studios.

One day Guy takes advantage of his free will and confiscates a weapon from a bank robber (a real player) against the warnings of his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) a security guard. Guy shoots the robber and takes his glasses which allow Guy to view Free City as if he were one of the real players and begins his journey as a gamer.

Power Grid Failure Chapter Two

Good afternoon. It is Thursday once again and I, Gigi the parti poodle am here to introduce the second chapter of my new story Power Gird Failure. The Maltese and I have once again been abandoned. We are staying with…him while my novelist attends to business elsewhere. I don’t know why we couldn’t go along. She told me I was highly demanding creature. I tell you truly am not a highly demanding creature.

Yes, you are. You are a highly demanding creature. Very, highly demanding.

I wouldn’t talk if I were you, you despicable Maltese. What with your constant need for lap time.

I would not need to ask for lap time so much if you weren’t always in our novelist’s lap.

I am not always in my novelist’s lap. That is absurd. How would I ever be able to go for walks or write or attend to my fans?

You have fans?

Of course, I have fans.

How do you turn them on?

What?

How do you turn on the fans and make them run?

That is the most peculiar question I have ever heard! In fact, it’s downright disturbing!

What is wrong with turning on a fan?

I don’t even want to go into those details, you cheeky beast!

I know our novelist has fans because I sit in front of one of them in the summer and it keeps me cool and happy.

You…Oh. Oh, I see. I am utterly embarrassed. Most utterly embarrassed. I must leave now.

Okay, bye…. And now I introduce to you Chapter Two of Gigi’s story Power Grid Failure. By the way, I knew what she meant by fan. I just wanted to get to introduce the blog for once.  

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Two

Adams finishes working on Tiffany’s computer. Sloan watches as Adams starts to head back to his desk. Then Sloan zeroes in on the object of his desire. Tiffany pulls out her backpack, reaches in and retrieves her makeup bag. She takes out that tube of shiny gloss she always wears and slathers it on her lips. He loves it when she slathers that shiny gloss on her lips. It is the highlight of his day.

“Hey, Sloan,” Adams says walking up to Sloan’s desk.

Sloan leans back sharply in his chair. Was Adams on to him?

“I was wondering if you’d like to go get a beer with me.”

“Why?” Sloan demands.

“Well, not tonight. I mean its Monday and all. But I was thinking maybe Friday…”

“I don’t drink.”

“They have like a kicking root beer there. They brew it on the premises. And the bartender, wow, she’s cute.”

“I’m not your wingman, bro.”

“Well, no. It’s just…I’ve been cramming for my Cisco exam, and I could really use a night out with the guys.”

“I’ve got other plans.”

Reynolds usually starts with the garbage cans. He puts on his gloves and grabs the large bin with the wheelbase. He pulls a black plastic bag out from an industrial cardboard box, shakes open the bag and puts it inside the big yellow receptacle. He grabs the side of the receptacle and wheels it along behind him.

As he comes out of the custodian’s room and heads around the corner, he sees Crystal sitting at her desk still working. She’s often the last one to leave the office. From what he knows about her, she is always polite and well mannered. She always says “hello” to him when he dumps her garbage. Sometimes she offers him a snack like a pack of cookies or a couple of chocolates or a small bag of chips. She’s never chatty, however. Just always polite.

When he pulls the yellow receptacle around the corner today, Reynolds notices Crystal isn’t the only one staying late. That accountant guy is still at his desk, laser focused on the big guy’s office. Reynolds scoffs. Tiffany. That’s what accounting boy is focused on. What a schmuck. If that guy thinks he has a chance with her, he’s bonkers. Reynolds knows accounting boy follows Tiffany out every night without fail. They are usually the first employees to leave. But not tonight. Reynolds starts grabbing deskside wastebaskets and dumping the contents into his big yellow bin. As he does, he sees the lights flicker. He knows if they go out, he’ll put on his headlamp. They’d given out once before late in the evening after everyone had gone home and he’d worn it to finish his shift. It was no big deal. Reynolds continues towards Crystal’s desk. As he does the lights flicker again. He sees Tiffany rise from her chair and look up as if doing so will explain why the lights are flickering. Sloan hops to his feet when he sees her leaving the office.

He straightens his tie and checks to make sure the buttons on his wool coat are fastened correctly. Then he follows several paces behind Tiffany as she puts on her knit gloves and heads for the elevators. Just as Tiffany reaches the elevator doors everything goes dark.

“Whoa!” Adams, who is behind Sloan, exclaims.

Tiffany pushes the elevator button to no avail. “The elevator shut down,” she says.

“Guess we’ll have to take the stairs,” Adams tells her. “You want to walk out with me?”

“Sure.”

I’ll walk you out,” Sloan offers.

Tiffany turns and gives him a quizzical look.

“Yeah, walk with us,” Adams says. “Safety in numbers you know.”

“Good luck with that,” Reynolds says picking up Sloan’s garbage can and dumping the contents into his big yellow one.

“What do you mean?” Sloan says.

Reynolds sets the garbage can down and puts a gloved fist on his hip. “It’s locked.”

“No, it isn’t. I’ve taken the stairs before.”

“Not during a blackout. In a blackout all the doors to this building lock.”

“Why? That’s stupid.”

“Looting and riots are why. The doors lock to protect you from going out and from them getting in.”

“You’re full of it.”

“Try it. See if I’m wrong.”

“Stupid janitor.”

“I’m game,” Adams says. “Let’s go.”

Tiffany turns and looks at Reynolds. He smiles a cocky smile at her. Tiffany furrows her brow then follows Adams and Sloan.

Reynolds watches them walk over to the stairwell and out the door. He looks over and sees Crystal still sitting at her desk watching him. He smiles at her. She stares back blankly. Reynolds glances at his Seiko watch and said slowly, “Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…”

The stairwell doors burst open, and Adams, Sloan and Tiffany emerge.

“Who does that?!” Sloan gripes. “Who locks a building in case of an emergency.”

“Not any emergency,” Reynolds says. “A blackout.”

“So, we’re stuck here all night or what?”

“If the power comes back on the doors unlock and you guys can leave.”

“That’s a serious bummer,” Adams says. “I have a D&D game tonight.”

“Seriously?” Sloan says.

“Yeah. You play?”

Sloan grimaces. “No.”

“Do you?” Adams asks Tiffany.

“I’m a darts kind of girl.”

“Really? That’s cool. Ever play on a team?”

“Yeah,” she says perking up. “We went to state last year.”

“I’ve never played but some of my D&D buds and I hang at this Irish pub, and we see teams playing there sometimes.”

“You seriously play Dungeons and Dragons?” Sloan says.

“What do you do as a hobby?” Tiffany asks him.

“Racquetball.”

“Really?” Adams says skeptically.

“What?”

“Well, you don’t look…”

“I don’t look what?”

“You don’t look like you’re in all that great of shape.”

Tiffany’s eyes widened and she laughs despite herself.

Sloan turns red and takes a step into Adams. “For your information, I play racquetball at my apartment complex five times a week.”

“Do you have weights there too,” Adams says earnestly, “because you look like you could use strength building.”

“I wouldn’t talk if I were you, fake wizard boy. You aren’t exactly winning any Mr. Universe competitions anytime soon.”

“Do you hear that?” Reynolds says.

“Hear what?” Sloan asks.

“Thumping or pounding or something.” He turns to Crystal and says, “Do you hear it?”

Crystal, who has been quietly eavesdropping on their conversation looks at them uncomfortably.  She rises from her chair and heads towards the elevators. Reynolds who’s been coyly leaning on his garbage bin pushes off it and follows her.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: LOOPER (2012)-Hulu

Rian Johnson is a highly imaginative writer director, and this science fiction gem of his is one the most intriguing and smartest time travel films in recent years. What makes it unique is the protagonist and antagonist are the same person at different points in their lives.

Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt who also stared in Johnson’s film Brick) is a hotshot assassin called a looper. When the mob sends someone back from thirty years in the future where time travel is possible, Joe waits at the end of a desolate field and shoots the mark as soon as they arrive in front of him. Afterwards he disposes the body now stuck in the past which makes the murder virtually untraceable. Joe’s job is lucrative. He is paid in large silver bars he stashes under a trap door in his apartment. His direct boss, a man named Abe (Jeff Daniels who co-starred with Gordon-Levitt in the fantastic crime thriller The Lookout) groomed Joe from adolescence to be one of his top assassins. Joe’s best friend Seth (Paul Dano) is also one of Abe’s top assassins who happens to be able to elevate small things like coins, a genetic ability which has just started showing up in the human population. There is one major setback to Joe and Seth’s job: eventually the mob boss in the future sends back the looper’s older self to their younger self to be assassinated. Once that happens the younger looper gets to quit and live out the thirty remaining years of his life.

When Seth’s older self comes back, and his younger self decides to let him live it leads to dire consequences. And when Joe’s Old Joe (Bruce Willis) comes back, his older self decides to survive taking Joe on a cat and mouse odyssey with himself. Emily Blunt also co-stars.  

Power Grid Failure Chapter One

Good morning. It is Thursday once again, and I Gigi the parti poodle am here to introduce the first chapter of my new story Power Grid Failure. Although I am delighted to present you with a new tale, this has been a sad week for me. My novelist was called away on some unexpected business and the Maltese and I were left with…him. I have been standing at the door and staring out the window waiting for my beloved writer to come home. I have not been sleeping well and I wake up to find myself watching comedic movies to try and cheer myself up. Moments of panic overcome me. I think I am hearing noises. I long for comfort.

I am here to comfort you. I am Tucker and I am a Maltese.

Be gone, small beast. You bring me no solace. I am awash with misery.

Our novelist will be back soon.

What is soon? We are dogs. We have no concept of time.

You know it’s Thursday.

Yes, well…many other dogs have no concept of time. This is the winter of our discontent.

I think it is still Fall…

Oh, brutal agony! I am consumed with darkness and gloom. Will my sorrow never end? When will my dear novelist return to feed me, give me treats and stroke my gentle curls? I cannot eat. I cannot think. I pace about with no direction. Despair is my only companion. Come home, my precious poet. Return and tear me from my hideous torment!

It is okay, Gigi. You always have me.    

Oh, horror, you terrible beast! Why do you leave me with this cruel fate?

There, there. There, there. Would you like to borrow my Nylabone?

I despise Nylabones! They are wretched incarnate. Leave me now.

But I cannot leave you with such big tears in your eyes. There, there. There, there.

Pardon my sobbing, dear reader. Agony! Agony! Here is chapter one of Power Grid Failure. Jouir.

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter One

Monday, the day of the moon. It is early December, and the light has disappeared. A typical evening in the downtown Redoubt Tower. Everyone is finishing their workday. It is now five fifteen PM.

Fifty-year-old Martin Peak, executive does not want to go home. His wife spent an exorbitant amount of money on Christmas gifts on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. And Martin is not happy about it. They’d agreed to downsize their holiday haul this year because they and their two teenagers are taking a trip. But instead, his wife doubled it. Martin is looking for an excuse to stay late so he doesn’t have to go home, sit in his study, look at his credit card statement and lament over the multitude of charges. Despite spending every weekday morning running stairs at the university field house, Martin has packed on an extra fifteen pounds since summer. Probably from too many martinis because his wife will not stop shopping.

In the glassed-in area just outside Martin’s office sits the desk of his administrative assistant, an attractive blonde former sorority girl named Tiffany. Tiffany is fresh out of college where she finished a sociology degree. She excels in her choice of casual business dress having memorized the color wheel and knowing what shades suit her best. She started working for Mr. Peak a little over a year ago. She knows her boss has been grouchy all day which makes him talkative. He has popped out of his office several times to chat. Tiffany tolerates his chattiness as he treats her well and pays her well. Still, she would appreciate it if he would shut up.

Sloan is an accountant. He sits outside Tiffany’s office. Sloan is obsessed with Tiffany but has never once had a conversation with her. This, however, has not kept him from stalking her. He times his lunch break with hers and sits two tables away where he has an excellent vantage point. He follows her down the elevator at night and gets on the same bus she takes from the bus tunnel. He gets off at the park and ride and takes the bus all the way back to the tunnel and then catches his real bus home.

Sloan owns a toy poodle named Flora. He found her wandering around his neighborhood once when he went for a Sunday jog. All she had on was a purple collar with silver spikes and a round silver tag with the inscription FLORA on it. The tag bore no phone or address and after a quick trip to the local vet, no microchip. No one answered any of the social media posts he put up or any of the adverts he taped to the lamp posts around the neighborhood. Later he found out why. Flora was insane.

Across the hall from Martin Peak’s glass enclosed space is the office where Windy the HR representative works. She is a jolly, slightly plump woman with neatly cut short brown hair. She is around the same age as Mr. Peak. Unlike Martin however, she doesn’t require imbibing on lunch martinis to make her chatty. Windy chats constantly. About pretty much anything and nothing at the same time. On the shelf beside her desk is a large collection of plush beavers. It is difficult to believe toy companies make these many styles of plush beavers. Windy attended OSU and got her degree in Human Resources. Behind her desk is an abnormally large orange and black OSU pennant which is difficult to miss.

Over near the Janitor’s Closet is a small windowless room. This is where Adams the deskside support technician resides. A cot was installed in his office in case he needed to fix something overnight. Adams is one of those college graduates stuck in limbo waiting for his career to begin. He is a whip smart programmer who holds a degree in Computer Science. But a fulltime job at a major computer company always eludes him. Every week he scours the job boards for something he’s qualified for. And every week he comes up emptyhanded. A mountain, albeit a neatly stacked one of computer certification books sits by his desk. Some for Cisco some for the MCSE. He’s passed the first tests for the latter but has four to go. And having to work all day crawling around under employee’s desks telling them to reboot their computers or unplugging their personal fan or heater or whatever USB devices they have is a waste of his time. He is bored of being unchallenged and underappreciated and every week holds out hope that maybe, just maybe he’ll get a call offering him an interview.

Crystal is a tech writer who sits in the back corner on the opposite side. She is one of those young women who, unlike Tiffany, tends to blend in with the furniture. She is quiet and rarely speaks more than a few words to anyone on any given day. She is often tasked with translating a slew of business dreck into something legible but inane. She knows if you boil down all the graphics and verbiage presented to employees it is often better said in a few clear concise sentences. The problem is, of course, employees are not often fluent in clear concise sentences.  

Crystal catches the bus to work each day and steps off the elevators, goes to work, eats her sack lunch in the break room rarely ever purchasing anything from the cafeteria downstairs, works late and leaves without anyone ever acknowledging her. At night she writes erotic short stories worded with far more imagination than she has experience.

Right around this time Reynolds arrives on this floor of the Redoubt Tower. Reynolds is the janitor. He is fully aware that life sucks and aspires to nothing. He is oddly clean cut and reminds one of a well-groomed criminal. No one has ever bothered to educate themselves about Reynolds or all things Reynolds…except Mr. Martin Peak. But if they did, they would find a shocking wealth of information.  

Martin Peak reluctantly says to Tiffany, “I’m going home now.”

“Okay, Mr. Peak,” Tiffany replies. “Have a good evening.” As she says this the lights flicker.

“Huh. Weather’s been good out there. I haven’t heard of any windstorms coming or anything.”

“Neither have I.”

They both glance up at the light ready for it to flicker again.

“Well, anyway. You have a good night, Tiffany. You have any plans this evening?”

“No, Mr. Peak. It’s Monday.”

“Yes. Yes, I suppose it is. Well…have a good evening.”

“You too, Mr. Peak.”

As Martin leaves, the door to the HR Representative’s office opens and Windy steps out. “Oh, hello Mr. Peak,” she says cheerily. “Are you heading home?”

“Yes,” Martin says, suddenly aware that Windy wants to walk out with him. If this happens, he will have to have a conversation with her which will continue all the way down to the elevator and into the parking garage which was near unbearable. “And I’m in a hurry,” he adds.

“Oh, so am I,” Windy says perkily. “We’ll walk fast together.”

“Of course,” Martin grumbles.

At the same time Sloan slips on his blazer and slides his laptop into his bag. He glances at Tiffany who is still behind the glass. He slowly sits back down so as not to draw attention to himself and waits for her to leave. As he does the lights flicker again.

“That’s twice those lights have flickered, isn’t it?” Adams says to Sloan as he walks by.

“Yeah,” Sloan says. He watches Adams head over to Tiffany. She greets Adams with a smile before he crawls under her desk. Sloan realizes he’s going to have to wait until Adams finishes tinkering with Tiffany’s computer. He feels like a voyeur watching them.

Crystal had one more page to type then she could leave. She wanted to get it done so she could catch a bus before six. If she didn’t catch one before six it would take her longer to get home and she was hoping to see that new movie that just came out last night. She had no idea how she would tolerate her life if she didn’t have cable. She’d read ten books on the bus going to and from work this year. Cable was her only friend right now.

Reynolds saw the lights flicker a third time. He couldn’t care less if they went out. He had a headlamp. He could still see enough to do his work. His main concern was hot water. Would he have enough hot water to mop the floors if the electricity went out?

“What do you think is causing the lights to flicker?” Windy asks Martin as they stepped onto the elevator.

“It’s almost winter,” Martin says as the doors closed. “It could be anything.”

“I just want to get home.”

“So do I,” Martin said not because he wanted to get home but because he wanted to get away from Windy.

“Did you contribute to The Holiday Tree?”

That blasted Holiday Tree, Martin thought. Every year the company members were encouraged to pick a tag from a tall, bloated pine tree in the lobby and purchase a gift to give a child. It was a nightmare. He was supposed to take his family to Lake Tahoe for Christmas this year and everyone was on him about wanting new ski gear. And the boy wanted a motor scooter and the girl wanted diamond earrings and the wife already had three pieces picked out at Fox’s Gem Shop. How was he supposed to afford to get a kid a toy with all that burden on his credit cards? Not to mention he needed a new SUV. The one he drove was five years old. It was practically a dinosaur.

“I’m looking for the perfect gift,” he tells Windy. “I like to take my time and pick out something appropriate.”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet!” Windy gushes. “We’re buying two mountain bikes for a couple of kids this year.”

“Isn’t that generous,” Martin says wanting to kick her. Mountain bikes? Not one but two? Was she nuts?!

“Oh, you know,” Windy says. “We set aside a little money for charity each year. Even the twins chip in!”

“Yeah, well, there’s nothing like family participation, is there?”

“The twins have always been philanthropists you know. Philip is becoming an Eagle Scout this year.”

“Wow…you must be proud.” Martin’s son Devon was getting his “I avoided detention and stopped smoking Juul” award this year. Martin of course blamed the boy’s delinquency on his mother. “My daughter is in the school play.”

“I didn’t know she was into the arts,” Windy says. “We’ll have to come see the play.”

“That would be nice.” Martin’s daughter was playing a sizable role but only because of a bribe. If she broke up with her lowlife upperclassman criminal boyfriend and found at least one extracurricular activity, they would give her back her credit card. Money talks and boyfriends walk. Suddenly, the elevator stops. Martin reaches over and pushes the buttons, but nothing happens.

Martin tries the buttons on the elevator again. The elevator remains in limbo.

“Oh,” Windy says. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. But we’re between floors.”

“At least the lights didn’t go out.”

Just then the elevator lights go out.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY (2022)-ROKU

This week’s film is one of the most anticipated of the fall season. Back in 2010 Funny or Die did a short starring Aaron Paul, Olivia Wilde and Mary Steenburgen called Weird: The Al Yankovic Story which was a spoof of biopics staged as a movie trailer. According to Al Yankovic, fans kept asking him when the actual movie was coming out and so finally Mr. Yankovic and the short’s director and writer Eric Appel got together and penned the script for the full-length feature movie now running on ROKU.

When I first saw the trailer, I genuinely thought Weird Al and Madonna had had an affair early in their careers. This made sense to me because these are two highly original, talented, intelligent icons who honestly make a more believable pairing than Madonna and Sean Penn. Sean Penn, let’s face it, dropped out of Santa Monica Community College after one semester and went full retard which earned him an Academy Award nomination but not a win. His also liked to punch members of the media in the face…which is good and bad. Somehow, he managed to win two Oscars.

On the other hand, Weird Al is a likeable personality who entered Kindergarten one year early, skipped the second grade, and earned a degree in Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Madonna has a 140 IQ and was awarded a dance scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. So, it made complete sense to me they may have dated. Sadly, they didn’t, and Sean Penn and Madonna ended up divorced to no one’s surprise. Some of the movie is true and much isn’t. That is half the fun. But I still wish Madonna and Weird Al had dated, married, had genius kids, and nurtured each other’s careers. That just makes more sense.

Young Alfred Mathew Yankovic (Richard Arron Anderson) is a weird kid. His mother Mary (Julianne Nicholson) and his father Nick (Toby Huss) don’t understand him. Especially when he shows a talent for changing the lyrics of well-known songs. One day a door-to-door salesman (Thomas Lennon) comes by selling accordions. Al’s father beats the guy up and tells him he is peddling instruments of the devil. But his mother purchases the instrument as an early Christmas present to Al and encourages him to practice in secret. Al does and when he becomes a teenager (played by David Bloom) he is enticed into going to a polka party where he shows off his superior musical skills. The police come and break up the party and Al is brought home where he has an altercation with his father and moves out before he moves back in and finishes high school.   

Young adult Al (brilliantly played by Daniel Radcliff) moves to LA and shares an abode with his three friends Jim (Jack Lancaster), Steve (Spencer Treat Clark), and Bermuda (Tommy O’Brien). Al proposes that he should pursue a career in making up lyrics to famous songs they tell him to go for it…and to go make them sandwiches. When Al goes to the kitchen, he sees a package of bologna with Steve’s name taped across it, is suddenly inspired and “My Bologna” is born.

Al gets a gig at a biker bar and is terrified to go onstage. But with the encouragement of his roommates who suddenly become his band he hits the stage with his future hit “I Love Rocky Road” and is discovered by none other than Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson) who catapults Al’s career into stardom.

One day while Al is hanging out in his opulent Hollywood manor, he is visited upon by none other than rising superstar Madonna (also brilliantly played by Evan Rachel Wood) who seduces Al to get him to do a parody of one of her songs and the two of them begin a torrid affair.

How We Write Our Blog

Good afternoon. It is Gigi the parti poodle here on my usual Thursday. Today I have brought my novelist along with me. We have chosen to take a week off from storytelling before I begin my next tale so we can discuss how we go about doing our weekly blog post. First, however, I must say we had a wild and wacky Halloween here. We got a record number of trick or treaters which was delightful. I barked and ran for the door even more than usual.

We had planned for thirty spooky guests not thinking we would ever get that many. But not only did we get thirty we got quite a few more. My novelist, however, was prepared for an overrun. She’d set up a station before the festivities began, to bring extra treats out should we get more revelers than expected. And part way through the evening both of us were getting worried. The Maltese, as usual, slept through it all. We did treat bags this year that we preset earlier in the day so that every bag had an even amount of Halloween loot. But when we started to get low on our original batch, we had to start packing more bags. And after packing a few more bags more trick or treaters wiped those out as well. Finally, we got caught up and had enough treat bags to hand out by the time the evening ended. But it was touch and go for a while there. Next year we shall be even more prepared.

Greetings. I am Karen and I am a writer. Alright, Gigi. Would you like to discuss how we go about preparing our weekly blog?

Certainly. Firstly, the blog is broken into three parts: my introduction, one chapter of my story and a Stream of the Week which is a film, miniseries, or television show chosen by my novelist. Secondly, I do not write my blog story in the same way my novelist would pen a book. The difference is I do a speed writing session twice a week and take what I have spilled out on the page and refine it into the next blog chapter. Once the blog is posted I do not change or rewrite the story. I only go back and correct say a spelling or grammar error if I come across one. Otherwise, once it’s published on the blog, I must figure out how the next chapter of the story is going to fit. It’s a bit of a by the seat of my poodle pants way of writing. The idea for me taking over the blog was to see if I could connect the next blog post to the former one and end up with a complete story. Guerilla writing as it were.   

My novelist’s books by contrast are written with deeper research and more extensive rewriting. For example, my novelist may spend weeks or sometimes months studying the subject she wishes to write about. And the research for each novel is different. For instance, Chicane required interviewing expert race car and ski experts and reading several books on the subject to create the setting and characters for the story. She also spent days watching and rewatching film footage of the geographical terrain where the story takes place.

Musicology required she watch hours and hours’ worth of reality music shows to capture the essence of the competitions and their competitors. She had to draw upon her experiences visiting Burbank, California to create an authentic setting. Also, many of the characters have regional American accents that had to be carefully and consistently structured into the dialogue. As an example, one of the characters bounces back and forth between English and German and the character’s quirks had to remain consistent throughout the books.

There was an abundance of scientific research that went into her most recent novel. It required she read many books and technical papers and watched several interviews to infuse not just plausible but accurate scientific information into the story. She drew from her year long experience living in the community in which the story takes place to create realistic characters and settings. She also studied maps of the area to weave in details and quirks that one would not know about if one were not immersed in the actual location.

When we write our weekly blog, my story is usually the first part that gets finished. And if I do say so myself it is the most difficult part. The second most difficult part is choosing a movie of the week. Alright, my dear novelist, why don’t you talk about how you do the Stream of the Week portion.     

Thank you, Gigi. Each movie I choose must be playing on one of the streamers or on rare occasions YouTube. I do not choose movies one would have to purchase separately that are not streaming on any service. Gigi and I draw from Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Peacock, Hulu, Apple+, Showtime and Paramount +. We may in the future draw from Roku as well. Hint, hint. Sometimes we may go in with high hopes for a film but find it falls short and then we must view a different one. We also try to point out some interesting facts about each choice if possible. Most of the time we try to choose films that may get passed over by viewers otherwise. Some of the films are newer and some are classics. The reason I like to do a stream of the week comes from my background in theatre and writing.  

Oddly, despite the large number of films available to stream these days, many audience members seem to gravitate towards movies which lack complexity, subtext, and structure. We tend to agree with the idea that superhero films are not cinema. Cinema requires a certain level of depth most superhero films don’t provide. There are some exceptions like Unbreakable, but most superhero films are specifically designed for entertainment and not for depth and do not qualify as cinema.

Cinema has to say something insightful about the human condition. And it often stands the test of time. This means it must have multi-layered characters, a well-structured arc, and a rock-solid premise. What we mean by a premise is a debate. For instance, if you were to look on the poster of The Usual Suspects it says, “The truth is always the last place you look”. That is the film’s premise and the argument it is trying to prove which it does very well. The Memento film poster says, “Some memories are best forgotten” which is the premise for that film, and it too proves its argument brilliantly. The original meaning of the word “actor” is plaintiff or lawyer. A person who states a case. If a film does not present a profound argument and fails to prove it well, it is probably not cinema. Some cinema is more character based and some is more plot based but the rule remains the same. The armature of the story must be a profound argument.

Now, not every film we pick is cinema. Some entertaining films are well worth the watch and so we choose some of those from time to time. But one cannot live on cotton candy alone. One must have nutrition. So, the criteria for choosing a Stream of the Week is that most choices must have substance to them. Alright, Gigi. Back to you.

Thank you. Finally, there is my introduction. I try to keep this brief, breezy and mostly off the cuff with the hopes it gives the reader something light and refreshing to start off with like an appetizer. Sometimes the Maltese will join me to add some flavor to the mix. And that is how my novelist and I construct our blog. Next week I will present the first chapter of my new story.

My name is Tucker, and I am a Maltese.

Get out of here! We’ve already finished!

But I wanted to talk about my contribution to the blog.

That’s delusional. You contribute nothing. Besides, you’re too late. Here’s a dog cookie.

Oh, goodie!

Thank you, dear reader for dropping by. Until next week, adieu.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)-HBO Max

Rounding out our recommended Halloween films is this brilliant tense thriller of which its climax is considered the tenth scariest scene of all time by Bravo and ranks as the fifty-fifth scariest film of all time by the AFI. One of the things that makes this movie so great is it takes place almost entirely in a basement apartment in Greenwich Village which goes to show that you don’t need a lot of CGI and pyrotechnics to engage an audience.

The movie starts out with a twenty-something woman named Lisa (Samantha Jones) taking an airplane from Montreal, Canada to New York City. In her possession is a doll. Sewn inside the doll’s body is a fortune in heroine. At the airport Lisa by chance meets another passenger, professional photographer Sam Hendrix (Ephram Zimbalist Jr.). She asks Sam to hold onto the doll for her and she will pick it up from him later. As she is leaving the airport, however, she is confronted by a strange man who escorts her off.

A couple days later two conmen Mike Talman (Richard Crenna) and Carlino (Jack Weston) arrive at an apartment thinking it is Lisa’s, ready to pick up the heroine. What they find instead is the truly creepy Harry Roat (brilliantly played by Alan Arkin) the strange man who escorted Lisa off at the airport. He is dressed in leather, sporting midnight black hair and dark round wire-rim glasses. Mike and Carlino find Lisa’s body in the bedroom closet and realize Roat has offed her. They also find out the apartment does not belong to Lisa but rather to Sam Hendrix and his young wife Susy (Audrey Hepburn in a fantastic Oscar nominated performance) who lost her sight in a car accident. Roat blackmails Mike and Carlino into helping him dispose of Lisa’s body and assist him in locating the heroine filled doll. Roat is certain Suzy knows where the doll is and employing his two new henchman designs an intricate sting to get Suzy to reveal its whereabouts by using her blindness against her. The name Harry means “Home Ruler” and Roat is an archaic spelling of the word rote which means an unthinking routine or repetition. Susy means “Lily” and her last name Hendricks ironically also means “Home Ruler”.  

Suzy relies a lot on a twelve-year old girl named Gloria (Julie Herrod) who picks up groceries and other necessities for Suzy while Sam is at work. She comes and goes into the Hendrix’s apartment at will and has taken the doll for herself and hidden it in her apartment.   

The film is based on the play of the same name by Frederick Knott which premiered at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on February 2, 1966, with Lee Remick playing Susy Hendricks and Robert Duval playing Harry Roat. Julie Herod played Gloria in both the play and the film. The play was so well liked by Warner Bros, they released it as a film on October 26, 1967. The fantastic Henry Mancini wrote the music. The budget was 3 million dollars. It made 17.5 million dollars. If you have never seen it, you really, really should.

Corn Maze Chapter Twenty-Two, The Final Chapter

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here to present Chapter Twenty-Two the final chapter of my story Corn Maze. Next week I will be taking a break from writing, and my novelist and I will be doing a blog about how we write our blog stories. I will begin a new tale (no pun intended) and present the first chapter of my next story in a few weeks. In the meantime, I am going to go lay down on my pillow and occasionally get up to terrorize the Maltese.

I do not like being terrorized. My name is Tucker, and I am a Maltese. I am happy your story is done.

Thank you. Please go away.

I am excited about your next story.

Thank you. Now leave.

I ate the last sandwich cookie dog treat.

Thank you now…wait a minute. What?

It was very, very tasty.

You ate the last sandwich cookie dog treat! I was saving that to celebrate for finishing my story!

And I enjoyed it very much.

You rotten monster! How could you? How could you do that? Do you know how long it took me to write this thing? And you just eat my precious prize?!

I will go away now.

Augh! Okay, Gigi. Stay calm. Do not go into attack mode. Do not go into attack mode. And while I do some deep breathing exercises, please enjoy my last chapter of Corn Maze. And have a very Happy Halloween this coming Monday!

Corn Maze

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Twenty-Two

“She’s out of her mind,” Farley said to Mallory after Valerie left.

“I can’t believe she moved into my house!” Mallory said.

“It’s Harley’s house.”

“I’m living there. Harley’s my fiancé.”

“Honestly, I thought it would work.”

“You thought what would work?”

“I thought if I won the corn maze competition, Valerie would see what a loser Harley is and come to her senses.”

“Harley’s not a loser.”

“Of course, he is. He let you go on a date with me.”

“I chose to go on a date with you. Not to mention I’m a better match for you then Valerie.”

Farley scoffed. “No, you’re not.”

“Valerie doesn’t want you. She doesn’t want your ring. Why don’t you give it to me, and we could get engaged.”

Farley laughed. “You’re nuts.”

“Otherwise, you’re going to be alone with no one to torment. And what fun would that be?”

“Letting Valerie get away would be losing.”

“She already got away.”

“Harley didn’t come back after college. I did. I’m the one who picked up the pieces for Val. I’m the one who deserves her.”

“You deserve me. I’m the real prize.”

“I don’t think so.”

Mallory marched back up the stairs to the bedroom, grabbed the ring off the nightstand and headed back down to Farley. “Call the police department and drop the charges,” she said as she put the ring in his left palm. “And ask me to marry you.”

“I can’t marry you, Mallory.”

“Of course, you can. You just get down on one knee and say, “Mallory, will you marry me?”

“I hardly know you.”

“You know me quite well,” she said and winked. “Ask me.”

“You seem awfully willing to toss Harley to the curb.”

“I’m not tossing Harley to the curb. He tossed me to the curb when he agreed to this contest. I’m taking a practical approach to the situation. Now, ask me.”

“You’re free to go,” the police officer told Harley as he unlocked the jail cell and opened the door.

“Really?” Harley said standing up from the bunk.

“The charges against you were dropped.”

“Why?”

“Apparently the plaintiff had a change of heart.”

“That’s not possible.”

“Apparently he just got engaged.”

“He was already engaged.”

“You’ll have to take it up with the plaintiff.”

“Okay,” Harley said warily as he stepped out of the cell and followed the police officer down the hall to retrieve his items.

“Step up,” the police officer at the counter told Harley.

Harley stepped up to the counter.

“One leather wallet with three credit cards containing fifty dollars in cash consisting of two twenty-dollar bills, one five-dollar bill and five one-dollar bills, one brown leather belt, one dark green wool bomber jacket and one pair of navy-blue New Balance running shoes.

“Thank you,” Harley said collecting his belongings. He put on his shoes and tied the laces, slid his leather belt through the loops of his jeans, and slipped on his jacket. He headed for the door of the police station when he saw Valerie sitting in the lobby waiting for him. She leaped off her chair and ran into his arms.

“Farley dropped the charges,” she said.

“The officer said he just got engaged.”

“He’s already engaged to me…wait a minute.”

“What?”

Valerie sighed. “Let’s go out to the car and I’ll explain.”

Farley and Valerie left the police station and climbed into Valerie’s car. “I went back to Farley’s house this morning and…”

“Why did you go back to his house?”

“I wanted to give him back his ring.”

“Did you?”

“Yes. After I found him in bed with Mallory.”

Harley fell silent for a moment. He looked out the passenger side window. Then he nodded his head. “I suppose I should have seen that one coming.”

“I didn’t think their date would actually end up that way.”

“Well, it certainly sets us free.”

“Mallory didn’t seem to think so.”

“I see.”

“What do you want to do now?”

Harley looked out the passenger side window again. Finally, he said, “I think we drive to Farley’s and finish this once and for all.”

Valerie unlocked the door to Farley’s farmhouse and she and Harley stepped inside. “Farley?” she called.

Farley came to the top of the stairs. He’d changed out of his black terrycloth robe and was wearing jeans and a black and white plaid shirt. “If you’re looking for your fiancé, Harley,” he said. “She’s already gone back to your place.”

“You dropped the charges,” Harley said. “Why?”

“Well, for one, I’m taking Mallory off the market like you should have done, buddy. And two, Val here decided to break off our engagement because she’s stupid enough to crawl back to you. And three, neither of you have anywhere to run but next door. Val doesn’t have a dime to her name. I made sure of that.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Harley said. “She’s going to stay with me and I’m going to work the farm until she finishes up at the college.”

Farley laughed. “Well, good luck with that! You were never made of the same stuff as your parents, Harley. You don’t have hard work in you.”

“We’ll see.” Harley said. “I’m stronger now that I’ll have Valerie by my side for the rest of my life.”

“Yeah, good luck with that.”

“Good luck with Mallory, cheating scumbag.”

Farley laughed. “I’d be careful if I were you. Summer will be here before you know it and there will be a whole new crop of corn. By that time, you just might be itching to do a corn maze contest again.”

“Not a chance.”

“Oh, we’ll see, friend. We shall see.”

THE END

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE STRANGER-2022-Netflix

This week’s movie is a rather non-traditional pick for Halloween. But it is about a real child rapist murdering monster and the methodical sting that was set up to catch him. I will say the film is not for mainstream movie lovers. It is more of a slow burn independent film. Based on the non-fiction book The Sting: The Undercover Operation That Caught Daniel Morcombe’s Killer by Kate Kyriacou the story is set in Queensland, Australia where in 2003 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe disappeared from an unofficial bus stop. The boy was on his way to the mall to get a haircut and shop for Christmas gifts. Remember, Christmas occurs in the middle of summer in Australia.

The bus had broken down and when the replacement bus came by it did not stop because it was behind schedule and because the stop was unofficial. This, of course, allowed the killer to kidnap the boy easily and quickly. Daniel’s disappearance was one of the most extensively investigated crimes in the history of Queensland. A combined amount of $1,000,000 Australian dollars was offered for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. And it wasn’t until 2007 when a mysterious informant provided a tip that prompted police to set up a Mr. Big procedure to approach the suspect and provoke a confession.

The movie begins with the police suspecting a man named Peter Morley (Sean Harris) as the perpetrator but have no actual proof to prove his guilt. Peter is a weary thin middle-aged man with a long beard and scraggly hair who’s done a lot of manual labor over the years and has the luck of meeting Paul Emery (Steve Mouzakis) on a Greyhound bus. Paul has connections to criminal acquaintances. The two men strike up a friendship and Paul tells Peter he might be able to help get him work.

Corn Maze Chapter Twenty-One

Good morning. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce chapter twenty-one of my story Corn Maze. This week we have had abysmal air quality here in the great northwest. This is due to an uncommonly warm fall, forest fires and a lack of precipitation. We are supposed to be getting some rain in the next few days that may help our situation.

On the darker side, the Maltese and I were forced to go to the groomer’s this week. I trotted out of the salon looking spectacular. The Maltese on the other hand is now…presentable.

My story Corn Maze will be ending soon, and I will be moving on to another tale. This is always an exciting thing for me to look at my accomplishments in the rear-view mirror as it were and focus my attention on the road ahead. Unfortunately, at times the Maltese hangs its head out the window and allows its tongue to fly in the wind. One cannot always experience nirvana. And with that here is Chapter twenty-one of Corn Maze. Enjoy!   

Corn Maze

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Twenty-One

“What do you mean kidnapping?” Valerie asked the police officer behind the station desk. “He didn’t kidnap me.”

“You were neither at your fiancé’s residence nor your place of residence when we arrested him,” the officer said flatly, more interested in her paperwork than Valerie. “You were at the suspect’s residence.”

“But that doesn’t mean Harley kidnapped me.”

“Your fiancé believes you have Stockholm syndrome.”

Stockholm syndrome? Are you kidding?”

“We’ll have to get a psychiatric evaluation of you.”

“I wasn’t kidnapped. I don’t have Stockholm syndrome. Harley is innocent.”

“Witnesses said you packed your bags like you were leaving.”

“Of course, I was leaving. I was breaking off my engagement to be with the man I love.”

“Which could be a symptom of Stockholm syndrome.”

“No, it’s a sign of sanity. It’s my fiancé who is insane.”

The police officer looked at her. “Hmm,” she said. “Sounds like Stockholm syndrome to me.”

“I don’t understand why Harley’s being held without bail.”

“The judge felt there was a threat to you, your fiancé, and the suspect’s fiancé.”

“The judge is wrong.”

“I am not the judge. It’s not me you have to convince.”’

“The judge is an old friend of Farley’s. And a jerk.”

“You’ll have to take it up with the judge.”

Thirty minutes later that early morning, Valerie marched up the steps of Farley’s porch, unlocked the door and burst inside. She stepped up to the bottom of the staircase and yelled, “Farley! Get down here now!”

Valerie waited but Farley didn’t answer. “You can’t hide up there forever, Farley!”

He still didn’t answer.

Valerie rushed into the kitchen threw open the refrigerator door and grabbed a bottle of cola. She hurried back out into the foyer and shaking the bottle in the air she yelled up the stairs, “Farley, if you don’t get down here, I’m going to pour an entire bottle of pop into the tank of your truck!”

Farley failed to come to the railing. Valerie shook the cola up a little more and placed it on the banister before she tromped up the stairs and barged into the bedroom where Mallory and Farley were sleeping. Valerie stared at the two of them. She couldn’t decide if she was hurt or relieved. She thought for a moment. Then she took her phone out of her crossbody bag and took a picture of them. “Proof!” she shouted. “Proof that you cheated on me, and Harley is innocent!”

Farley awoke and bolted up. Valerie took a picture of him. “Well, what did you think you were going to find?” he said.

Valerie took a third picture.

“Come on, Val! Stop with the Annie Leibovitz routine!”

Mallory awoke from her slumber and bolted up as well. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

“The more proof the better,” Valerie said.

“Stop it!”

 “You just couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you Farley?” Valerie said.

“You are my fiancé,” he said. “It’s Harley who couldn’t leave well enough alone.”

“You went out on a date with his fiancé and now you’re in bed with her. You have no room to speak.”

“A date which was agreed upon by the parties involved.”

“Not by me.”

“Majority rules.”

“Drop the charges.”

“Not a chance.”

“I’m leaving you, Farley.” Valerie took off her engagement ring and slammed it down on the end table beside him. “We’re done.”

Farley laughed. He leaned into her and said, “We will never, ever be done, Valerie.”

“I’m not marrying you, Farley. Drop the charges.”

“I’m not dropping anything. You’ve got nothing. No money, no job, nothing.”

“I’ve moved my things into Harley’s farmhouse.”

“You what?!” Mallory said reaching forwards and grabbing Farley’s robe off the end of the bed and throwing it on.

Valerie turned and hurried out of the room and headed down the stairs.

“Hey!” Mallory yelled hurrying after her.

Mallory chased Valerie down the stairs and beat her to the front door. “You can’t just move into my fiancé’s house!”

Valerie snatched the bottle of cola off the banister and moved in on Mallory. “You can’t just sleep with my fiancé. But you did. So, I’m justified.”

“That’s my house.”

“No, it’s Harley’s house.”

Farley tromped to the top of the stairs. “If you walk out that door, Val, I’ll hunt you wherever you go.”

“Go ahead,” Valerie called up to him. “Chase me to the ends of the earth. You’ll never catch me again.”

She went to open the door, but Mallory blocked her. Valerie twisted the cap off the cola and pointed it at Mallory. The soda exploded onto Mallory who screeched and jumped back surprised as Valerie fumbled for the knob, opened the door, and made her escape.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE BLACK PHONE (2022)-Peacock

I am not a fan of horror films. But I do believe almost every rule has exceptions. Not to mention Halloween is on the horizon. The movie industry loves these kinds of films because they are generally cheap to make, can have big box office payoffs and be turned into lucrative franchises. I was once told horror films are considered date films because, traditionally, the guy takes the gal to the film, and she gets scared and grabs him…or vice-versa. So, though I don’t care for horror films per say, I like any well written film that is about thinking and this one fits the bill.

It is based on a short story by Joe Hill from his collection 20th Century Ghosts. If you don’t know who Joe Hill is, he’s Stephen King’s son. Many great storytellers have a theme that runs through all their works. The Cohen Brothers write about greed. Quinten Tarantino writes about honor. Stephen King writes about incarceration. Incarceration in his books may take many different forms. In The Shining it’s a hotel. In Misery it’s a cabin. In Gerald’s Game it’s handcuffs and a bed. In The Mist it’s a grocery store. In Dolores Claiborne it’s a marriage. In The Shawshank Redemption it’s a prison. You get the point. People in his books are often trapped in something and must work their way out or face dire consequences. And we find here that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Mr. Hill has also chosen to write about incarceration and in this case the prison is a soundproof basement located in a suburban house where a child serial killer named The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) lives. The Grabber takes the boys he kidnaps and holds them there till he’s ready to do them in. And from what we are led to understand, his do them in methods are brutal.

The story takes place in the 1970’s in a small town in Denver, Colorado where Finney Blake (Mason Thames) and his sister Gwen Blake (Madeleine McGraw) reside. Their mother has passed away and they are being raised by their alcoholic father Terrance Blake (Jeremy Davies). Middle school boys have started going missing around their neighborhood and there aren’t really any leads. That is until Gwen has a dream about black balloons. She mentions her dream at school and the police take her seriously as black balloons were found at the site of the last disappearance. Terrance lives in terror that Gwen has inherited the same clairvoyant gifts as his late wife. The same gifts which took her life. He uses corporal punishment to thwart Gwen’s focus on her intensely vivid dreams. But Gwen is a remarkably strong girl and instinctively knows what she sees in her dreams is of importance and use.

The most recent vanishing is a boy named Robin (Miguel Cazarez Mora) a classmate of Finney’s who helped him thwart three bullies. Robin tells Finney that one day he’s going to have to stand up for himself. Finney, who is a book smart kid, does not think he has the confidence to do so especially after the three boys beat up Gwen and him. But shortly after the fight, Finney comes across a black van whose driver is a mysterious magician and Robin’s advice is put to the test.

Corn Maze Chapter Twenty

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here on my usual Thursday to present chapter twenty of my story Corn Maze. This week the Maltese received a new bed. I did not receive a new bed mind you, but the Maltese did. It is a soft plush cover over memory foam. Where’s my memory foam? Where’s my soft plush cover. I deserve these things. I’m a poodle for crying out loud.

I like my new bed. I like it very, very much.

Stop rubbing my face in it, Tucker.

I am not rubbing your face in it. I just wanted to say I like my new bed. And besides you have longer legs than I do. You can jump up on the couch and the chair. I can’t even jump onto a stool.

The point is you got something new, and I did not. And that is most unfair.

I like my new bed. I like it very, very much.

Oh, shut up. And with that here is chapter twenty of Corn Maze.

Corn Maze

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Twenty

“I’m going to call her again,” Farley said as he paced around the living room.

“You’ve called her five times and sent her ten texts,” Mallory said, irritated he was not paying attention to her now. “She’s not going to call you back.”

“We’re going over there.”

“Over where?”

“To her parent’s house.”

“I thought she lived in an apartment.”

“No. She claims to be happier living with her parents than with me. Is that messed up or what?”

“I thought you were on a date with me.”

“I am. And part of that date entailed coming here and rubbing it in my fiancé’s face. But now she’s not here and there’s no joy in that.”

“You want to go over to Valerie’s place so you can rub it in her parents’ face too?”

“Pretty much.”

“Don’t you think it would be better to finish our date first?”

“No.”

“Think about it. She’s hurt because you went through with the date, and she didn’t want to sit here the entire night waiting for you to come home and do exactly what you want to go over to her parents’ house and do.”

“Hurt, shmurt. What good is it to win and not be able to belittle your opponent?”

“I thought the point of winning was to enjoy your prize.”

“That too. But the gloating comes first.”

Mallory pushed herself off the rail and sauntered over to Farley. “You took me out to a steak dinner; you took me to a theatre and surprised me with a flash mob and now you’ve taken me back to your place. Surely you had something more in mind than making your fiancé jealous when you brought me here.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You have me here for a reason so what’s the plan?”

“I just explained my plan.”

“What if Valerie were here right now? You’ve got me here, you’ve got her here, what would you do then?”

Farley took a step into her and looked her in the eye. “You told me if I won, you’d make it the night of my life,” he said.

“That’s right,” she said with a smile.

He grabbed her around the waist causing her to jump then he kissed her mouth hot and hard. Mallory moaned. He slid one hand into her hair as the other grabbed her ass. She gasped as he made a trail of kisses down the side of her neck. “And technically you drove us here,” Farley whispered.

“Yes, I did. Let’s go upstairs.”

“I’d like that.”

“You’d love that.”

“But first you’re driving me to Valerie’s.”

Mallory pulled Farley’s truck into the driveway of Valerie’s parent’s house. It was a nice wooden two-story home painted yellow.

“Let’s go say hello,” Fairly said smugly.

“Fine. But afterwards I’m driving us back to your place.”

“Deal.”

The two of them walked up to the front door and Farley rang the doorbell. A neatly dressed woman wearing a blue apron walked up to the door and answered it. She looked like an older version of Valerie.

“Why, hello, Farley,” she said in a pleasant voice. “You just caught me baking cookies. I’m running a bit late into the night I’m afraid.”

“I was looking for Valerie.”

“Oh, she’s not here.”

“She’s not?”

“No, but she was here earlier with Harley.”

“What?”

“I got home from my evening meeting with my book club. You know how those things can run long. And when I got here Harley was helping her pack some things into his truck.”

“What?” Mallory said.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve met.”

“Where did they go?”

“Well, I thought he was helping her take some of her belongings over to your house, Harley.”

“Thanks.”

Harley grabbed Mallory’s arm and hurried her out to the truck.

“What do we do now?” Mallory asked.

“I’m going to make a phone call.”

Harley and Valerie arrived at Harley’s parent’s farmhouse early in the morning. Dawn had just broken, and the autumn grass sported a fresh coat of dew. They each took one of Valerie’s suitcases out of the truck bed and headed up the porch stairs.

“Mallory,” Harley called when they walked inside. “Mallory?”

They listened for a moment waiting for a response. But the house remained silent. Valerie could see concern in Harley’s eyes. “We were out all night too,” she said. “I’m sure she’s fine.”

“She is my fiancé.”

Valerie looked at the floor. “Harley, if you don’t think we should do this…”

“Oh, no. We are doing this. You are the love of my life, Valerie. But I am concerned about Mallory. Can you blame me?”

“No. Not at all.”

“I’ll go get your other bag out of the truck.”

“Okay. I’ll take these upstairs.”

Harley caught her around the waist, whirled her around and kissed her. “Just remember, as long as we’re together nothing can tear us apart.”

Just then the doorbell rang.

“Who’s that?” Harley said.

Valerie felt a sudden shock of fear. “Farley.”

“Farley?”

“He went home and found I wasn’t there, so he came here.”

“Stay here. I’ll go down and deal with him.”

“No. We’ll go together.”

Valerie and Harley headed down the stairs to the front door. When they got to the foyer Valerie could see flashing lights outside. “What’s going on?”

The doorbell rang again. Harley opened it. Two police officers were standing on the porch. “Is your name Harley?” one of them asked.

“Yes. What…?”

The other larger officer turned him around and started putting sip ties on his wrist.

“You’re under arrest,” the first police officer continued. “Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have a right to talk to a lawyer…”

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE ACCUSED (1988)-HBO Max

The number one film this week on Netflix is Luckiest Girl Alive based on the book of the same name by Jessica Kroll. Kroll also wrote the screenplay. Ms. Kroll has stated she was gang raped and bullied during her teenage years and certainly has an important and intriguing story to tell about that part of her life. But this pop fiction shlock is utter sensationalism and borderline dreck. Added into the story is the element of a school shooting which only furthers to over dramatize the soapy melodramtic tale and severely weaken both hot button subjects.

Obviously, I am not recommending that film. Instead, I am going to suggest a much better more riveting movie also based on a true story which pulls no punches and depicts a genuinely realistic look at gang rape which, by the way, accounts for 25% of reported rapes. The film was highly controversial on its release in 1988 because of its graphic but necessary depiction of the subject matter. And apparently, nothing has been learned since. I’m fed up with amateur film watchers and their constant complaining that there should be warnings on films. Especially ones that contain rape and explicit sexual content. There are warnings on films on streaming and the reason a film gets an R or NC-17 rating is clearly listed at the top of the screen at the beginning of the movie. If you are of age and don’t have the stomach to watch adult subject matter then don’t. Go back to watching your schlocky romances and mediocre superhero films. Leave the real-life movies and cinema to the grownups.

The Accused is based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo who was twenty-one years old at the time in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The trial received national coverage which, because the press nonchalantly released Araujo’s name, and caused her horrible distress. She and her husband and two daughters were forced to move to Florida after the trial where she died in a car crash at the age of twenty-five. She was intoxicated at the time which most likely was linked her PTSD from the horrific rape and its aftermath which included six men viciously raped her on a pool table and the brutal abuse she took from the community who sent death threats to the witnesses who spoke at the trial.

Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster in a fearless, brilliant Academy Award winning performance) bursts out of a bar called The Mill wearing torn clothes. She runs half-naked into the street desperately trying to flag down a car. A truck picks her up and drives her to a hospital (three college students stopped and picked up the real Araujo). Sarah, who has been raped by three men on a pinball machine goes through a lengthy physical examination which in present day would be a rape kit and is visited by Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Murphy (fantastically played by Kelly McGillis) who’s hand is forced to make a plea bargain. But after a rageful Sarah goes to Kathryn’s house and lets her know in no uncertain times that she has been sold out and humiliated, Kathryn begins to examine the case deeper and finds in addition to the three men who raped her there were also three other men at the bar that night who criminally solicitated the other men to commit the attacks. But it is a seventh man named Ken (Bernie Coulson), a college student majoring in computer science, who may be the key to winning the case.

Corn Maze Chapter Nineteen

Good afternoon. It is Thursday and per usual I Gigi the parti poodle am here to introduce chapter nineteen of my story Corn Maze. I am delighted to tell you my dog food is finally back in stock. I feel much better eating haute cuisine once again. I can now breathe and enjoy the autumn season. The leaves are starting to turn here in the pacific northwest although it has been uncommonly warm. And the air due to forest fires has been occasionally smoky. I have had to forfeit some of my walks. But most days have been delightful. I did unfortunately receive a bath Monday and I have just started to get over the terror. Also there have been rumblings that I may be due for a grooming. This is the downside of being a poodle. One must be groomed. But that aside I am getting close to the end of Corn Maze and will be starting a new story soon. For now, here is chapter nineteen of Corn Maze. Genießen!

Corn Maze

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Nineteen

Valerie headed into her room, pulled three suitcases out of the closet, and lay them on her bed. She unzipped them, opened them, and started taking clothing off hangers.

Harley stood in the doorway and smiled.

“You can come in,” she said as she folded shirts and packed them.

“I just like watching you,” Harley said. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve gotten to stand and watch you.”

“What should we tell them?”

“The truth.”

“I’ve missed you for so long Harley. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

“During the summer and holiday breaks in college I used to sneak over to where you were working and sit where I could see you. Even when I was dating Mallory. Even when I knew you were dating Harley. It was the one thing in my life I kept looking forward to.”

Valerie dropped the shirt she was about to fold. “Harley…”

“I guess I thought somehow, someway I would get you back.”

Valerie ran over and threw her arms around him. “I think this bet turned out to be a good thing after all.”

Harley smiled. “I think it did.”

“I’d better finish packing.”

“Can I help you?”

“You can put my shoes in that case there,” she said pointing to the medium sized bag.

“Okay.”

Harley moved over to the closet to a wooden shoe rack with six pairs of shoes plus a pair of heels in its original box. He picked up one pair at a time and put them in the medium sized case.

“What are you going to do about the farm?” Valerie asked.

“I think we should start there,” Harley said. “And you can finish your work at the college and apply to the university.”

“You’d wait for me to do that?”

“Absolutely. And in the meantime, I’d put together my art portfolio and my botany work resume as well.”

“We’re still going to have to be neighbors with Farley.”

“Sometimes you have to compromise.”

“You know that, and I know that. But I’m not certain Farley knows that.”

“If we stick together, Valerie, nothing can tear us apart.”

Mallory drove Farley’s truck home from the theatre humming “Mony, Mony” by Billy Idol. “I can’t believe you planned that for me,” she said.

“Driving into the ditch?” Farley said.

“No,” she laughed. “The flash mob.”

“Oh, yeah, that,” Farley said with a grin. “I couldn’t take you on a date that wasn’t interesting, could I?”

“Thank you. And thank you for letting me drive your truck.”

“I’m not that drunk.”

“I didn’t think I would like this date at all.”

“Surprised you, didn’t I?”

“Yes.”

Mallory turned the car left and drove down Farley’s driveway. She parked the truck in front of the farmhouse, and they disembarked. Farley had sobered up some by this point and was able to walk in a straight line. He grabbed the rail and made his way up the steps of the porch to the screen door. Mallory unlocked the front door with his key, and they went inside.

Farley flipped on the lights. “Valerie!” he called “Valerie are you here?” He stumbled into the kitchen and saw that the table his fiancé had been sitting and studying at was cleared. He stumbled out of the kitchen. “Valerie!” he called up the staircase. No one responded. “I don’t think she’s here,” Farley said to Mallory.

“Well,” Malory said walking up and leaning on the rail. “What would you like to do now?”

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: INVENTING ANNA (2022)-Netflix

This week’s pick is a limited series based on the life of Anna Delvey, a twenty-something woman who with no connections or family ties who worked her way into New York City’s elite inner society circle. Anna claimed to be a German heiress with a multi-million-euro trust fund.

The film itself is set up to challenge whether Anna is indeed telling the truth about who she is and how much money she really has. It manages to keep a balance between drama and comedy never tipping too far one way or the other which is part of its entertainment.

Journalist Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) who is based on Jessica Pressler known for writing the article “The Hustlers at Scores” which was made into the film Hustlers sees an article about Anna Delvey who is indited for grand larceny without bail. She senses there may be a story to follow but because of her checkered professional past and her editors’ desire for her to write a Me-Too article she struggles to get support for her instincts. Throwing caution to the wind she heads off to Riker’s Island where Anna is being held and pursues an exclusive interview from Anna.

Anna (Julia Garner) is skeptical at first but seeing she might be able to get something out of her story being published allows Vivian the interview not only to secure fame but also to get small incremental awards along the way.

However, most of the information Vivian begins to acquire comes from those who knew Anna like her ex-boyfriend Chase Sikorski (Saamer Usmani) who was trying to launch a start-up company, successful businesswoman Nora Ranford (Kate Burton), fashion designer Val (James Cusati-Moyer), banker Alan Reed (Anthony Edwards), and Anna’s friends film school graduate Neff (Alexis Floyd), exercise trainer Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox), and Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams (Katie Lowes). Although Lowes does a good job here casting her in the part is peculiar as she looks very little like the actual Rachel. My guess is this was intentional as to throw the audience a curve ball and con them as well.

The show has been popular enough that Anna Delvey has quickly become a popular costume of choice for adults this upcoming Halloween season. I will say the show is nowhere near as deep as Dopesick, another limited series based on true events that came out this year on Hulu, but it is still engaging, entertaining and worth the watch especially for Julia Garner’s outstanding performance in the title role. You can read Jessica Pressler’s original article on Anna here.

Corn Maze Chapter Eighteen

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce the eighteenth chapter of Corn Maze. This has been a peculiar week for me as I have had a most terrible bout of writer’s block. I spent most of the week pounding my tiny little brain trying to come up with ideas. I lay on my pillow by the window staring at the ceiling desperate for the words to come. Finally, the Maltese came over and gave me a sandwich cookie. Or maybe I stole it from him. Regardless, this was most helpful. One can never underestimate the power of a sandwich cookie. But even after consuming it I struggled. I found myself sipping Aquadent at the most inopportune times. I watched hours of inane videos on YouTube. I even read an article about someone who once forced a radio manager to play “The Rainbow Connection” by Paul Williams repeatedly so people would understand him. I sobbed uncontrollably. But in the end, I kept writing because that is what poodles do. They persevere. And from that perseverance I bring you chapter eighteen of Corn Maze.

Corn Maze

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Eighteen

Mallory drove Farley’s truck while Farley ordered the movie tickets on his phone. They arrived at the large spacious parking lot at a mall which was once thriving and now exuded eerie emptiness.

“I haven’t been here in five years,” Farley said.

“You haven’t been to the mall in five years?” Mallory said.

“Nope. Valerie comes here sometimes and sees a movie.”

“How come you don’t go with her?”

“Let’s go get our tickets.”

“What’s this movie about anyway?”

“It’s a comedy about a young math professor struggling to get his tenure at a university. He quits teaching to become a financial mathematician on Wall Street and ends up working for a clinically depressed psychopathic hedge fund manager who’s battling sex addiction.”

“Huh. Interesting. Well, let’s go see it.”

Harley and Mallory disembarked the truck and headed into the theatre. They got their tickets from the kiosk and brought them to the teenage usher.

“Good choice,” the usher said.

“Oh, yeah?” Farley said.

“Yeah, it’s really funny,” the usher said winking at Farley. “Theatre six.”

“Fantastic.”

Farley and Mallory headed down the red carpet with the woven black and white feather design to the viewing room marked 6 and headed inside. It was one of those upgraded theaters with large plush chairs like Barcaloungers. They walked up the aisle to their assigned seats. More patrons started rolling in and slipped into their seats as well.

“You know what my favorite part of going to movies is?” Farley asked adjusting his motorized chair to a semi reclined position.

“What?” Mallory replied.

“Previews.”

“You could just watch those online.”

“Sure. But it wouldn’t be nearly as fun as seeing them in a theatre.”

“If you say so.”

“What’s the most interesting date Harley has ever taken you on?”

Mallory thought about this. “One time he took me to a hypnotist show. The guy called a bunch of people on stage and had to send some back to their seats that didn’t work out for his act.”

“Did you get up on stage?”

“Actually, I tried to get Harley on stage, but he wouldn’t do it.”

“Did you go onstage?”

“Yeah, I did. But part way through he tapped me on the shoulder, and I had to return to my seat. I guess I wasn’t what the hypnotist was looking for. But it was a fascinating show just the same. People do strange things when they get hypnotized.”

“Interesting.”

The theater went dark, and the projector started to roll. It played the first preview halfway through then stopped. After a moment it started again and finished playing the preview. Then it started the second preview and stopped midway again.

“What’s going on with their projector?” Mallory asked. “Is the hard drive not working?”

Farley shrugged. “It’s probably just a glitch. They’ll fix it.”

Just then the back door opened, the lights came on, and an usher walked up to the front. “I’m sorry,” the usher told the audience. “But we are having technical difficulties with our equipment.”

“Is this for real?” Mallory said to Farley.

Farley shrugged.

Mallory stood up. “Are we going to get our money back for this?” she asked the usher.

“No,” the usher said.

“Why not?”

“Because the show hasn’t begun.”

“But you just said you were having difficulties with your equipment.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t put on a show.”

“What do you mean that doesn’t mean you can’t put on a show?”

Just then a heavy rock and roll drumbeat began playing over the sound system. The usher turned around and started shaking his ass in time with the beat. One of the female patrons shot up and started screaming.

“What is going on?” Mallory turned and asked Farley.

Farley smiled and shrugged as the female patron ran towards the usher. She turned around and started shaking her ass in time with the beat. Another female patron also screamed and ran up to the front to join them. The back door flew open, and ushers dressed in punked out leather started dancing towards the front of the theatre as the song “Mony, Mony” by Billy Idol kicked in. Movie goes jumped out of their seats, some ripping off their shirts and started dancing down the aisles in perfect sync with the music clapping to the beat as they filed out into the aisles creating a flash mob.

“Watch this,” Farley said to Mallory.

He jumped out into the aisle, curled his lip at Mallory and strutted towards the front of the theatre pumping his fist in the air as he went. When he reached the rest of the crowd in front of the screen, he jumped up onstage, turned to face Mallory, took off his blazer and whirled it around in the air. Then he, the usher, and the rest of the dancers lined up and began boot scooting to the song. This broke out into a couple of brief moves borrowed from Madonna videos and Saturday Night Fever.

Some of the crowd ran into the aisles and began shimmying around followed by pelvic gyrations. Suddenly, Farley strutted to the front of the line and ripped his shirt off, sending buttons flying everywhere, clacking and pinging wherever they hit leaving him in a black tank top and bare sunburned shoulders.

Unable to contain herself, Mallory slapped her hands on her cheeks and screamed.

Farley and his crew, borrowing dance moves from well-choreographed jazz dance and Napoleon Dynamite broke out into stunning turns and twists. He grabbed the hand of one of the female ushers and did a few quick swing dance moves before returning quickly to another round of line dancing.

Farley did a cartwheel off the stage, ran to the back of the theatre, ran up the wall, turned around, ran back up on stage where he and the other dancers threw their arms around each other’s backs and did a line of kicks before all the dancers collapsed to the ground except Farley who stood with his fist straight up in the air.

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: ELVIS (2022)-HBO Max

This week’s film is a dazzling whirlwind full throttle take on the life of legendary singer and musician Elvis Presley. Baz Luhrmann who has a propensity for reimagination outdoes himself here with a truly unique and entertaining story. But the real powerhouse of this film is the undeniably brilliant, Oscar-worthy breakout performance by Austin Butler in the title role. Five actors were in the running for the part of Elvis, likely because Nicholas Cage and Bruce Campbell have gotten a little too old for the part. These actors were Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles, Miles Teller, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and of course Austin Butler. They made the right choice.

The film is told through the eyes of Elvis’s sleazy money-grubbing con-artist Dutch born promoter Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks in an excellent performance) who sees himself as a “snowman” or rather a grifter and finds the ultimate circus act in a young and impressionable Elvis Presley (Austin Butler). Parker’s real name was Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk who illegally immigrated to the United States. Much of the tension in the movie is between Elvis and Parker and Elvis’s attempts to escape the clutches of Parker’s financial stronghold. Parker’s gambling addiction and increasing inability to read an audience also play heavily into the story as does Elvis’s keen instinct as a performer and his disastrous addiction to drugs in which Parker’s influence plays a strong part.  

The film plays a lot like a very well-crafted music video but does not shy away from its quiet moments which work to fuel the film’s technicolor ones. Butler is effective in all factions. He also sings and plays guitar in the film and to say he is dynamic in Elvis’s on-stage moments is an understatement. His performance alone is a must see and one of the best of the year or any year for that matter.      

Corn Maze Chapter Seventeen

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle once again to introduce chapter seventeen of my story Corn Maze. This week the Maltese and I saw some nefarious animals lurking around outside. First was the rat occurrence. And we are not talking a cute little thing with a propensity for French cooking. No. This one was large, rotund, and terrifying. My novelist saw it three times and the third time she pounded on the window and the thing dashed away. The other unexpected visitor showed up early this morning.

It was big and scary. Very scary.

Hush, Tucker! I’m the one telling the story here.

Yes, but it was big and scary.

They get that! As my cohort said, it was big and scary. And it was dark outside, not quite dawn, and a bit of a distance away so my novelist couldn’t make it out even with a bright flashlight. But she suspected a bobcat as there have been bobcats around here in the past.

Bobcats are big and scary.

Go sit over there.

But…

Over there! Thank you. Now, the creature was big and scary and looked like it could be a bobcat, so my novelist whisked the Maltese and I back indoors. It got lighter outside but my novelist still couldn’t figure out what it was. But it was a bold creature and made it’s way closer to our living quarters. It’s eyes still glowing menacingly when my novelist raised her flashlight to meet its face. Finally, it jumped up on a nearby fence and my novelist was able to get a very good look at what we believe to be…a Dragon Li. If you have not heard of a Dragon Li, it’s a breed of house cat.

The big bad rat can say good-bye now.

Enough! You’ve ruined my story! Anyway, yes, we were glad to welcome the Dragon Li to our premises and hope to be rid of the rat. Anyway, here is chapter seventeen of Corn Maze. Nasoloditisya!

Corn Maze

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Seventeen

Farley knew his truck was at an angle. Not upside down but not fully upright either. Maybe in a ditch. Yep, he was in a ditch. He was in the ditch behind Nile’s restaurant. Well, that just sucked. He heard the rush of click-clacking heels running towards his ditch-bound truck.

“Farley!” Mallory called. “Farley! Are you okay?!”

“I tipped over,” Farley slurred when she crept down the bank and reached the driver’s side window. “I tipped over like a Holstein. Moo.”

“I’m calling a tow truck,” Mallory said taking her phone out of her bag and dialing.

“Wait, what?”

“Why did you drive off like that?”

“I don’t know…”

“Hello,” Mallory said into the phone. “Yes, my date drove his truck into a ditch…”

“Hang up,” Farley said. “They’ll give me a DUI.”

Mallory muted the phone. “They’re a tow truck company, not the police.”

“Hang up,” Farley said as he climbed out of the driver’s window and staggered out of the ditch.

“Yes,” Mallory said after unmuting the phone. “We’re at Nile’s…”

Farley grabbed the phone out of her hand and ended the call.

“Hey!” she exclaimed. “Give me back my phone!”

“Don’t call a tow truck.”

“How else are you going to get out of the ditch?”

“Lyle.”

“Who’s Lyle?”

Farley took his phone out of his jacket pocket and dialed. “Hey, Lyle,” he said. “Say, I’ve got a…a mishap here over at Nile’s and I was wondering if you could lend me a…yeah, I know it’s date night…yeah, I know it’s date night, but I could really use your help right now. Yeah…yeah…yeah…okay. Tell Patsy hello.”

Farley hung up the phone, turned to Mallory and said, “He’ll be right over.”

“Don’t you need to go to the hospital first?”

“No. I didn’t hit my head. I didn’t get whiplash. I didn’t break any bones. I just slowly drove into a ditch.”

“But…”

Just then a tall strong guy wearing a pair of gym shorts, a tank top and a lobster bib sauntered over to them. “Hey, Farley,” he said after wiping his mouth on the bib. “I was just having dinner with Patsy in there.”

“I know, dude,” Farley said. “But I drove my truck into a ditch.”

“You’ve been hitting the whiskey, haven’t you.”

“Yeah, well…”

“I’ll go get Bull.”

“Bull?” Mallory said.

“You’ll see,” Farley told her.

Mallory watched Lyle march around the corner of the building. Two minutes later she heard a loud roaring engine as Lyle drove his bright neon green monster truck up to Farley’s pickup.

“Holy cow!” Mallory said.

Lyle leaned his suntanned arm on the window and poked his head out. “Help me with the winch, Farley.”

“Okay,” Farley said.

Farley climbed back in the ditch, and helped Lyle hook the winch up to his pickup. Lyle marched over and jumped in his monster truck. He revved the engine a few times and dragged Farley’s truck out of the ditch.

“Wow,” Mallory said when Farley’s pickup was once again on terra firma. “That went a lot smoother than I thought it would.”

“Ain’t my first time at the rodeo ma’am. Not even my first rodeo with Farley…say, are you a reporter or something?”

“No.”

“You do know Farley’s engaged.”

“Yes, I know. I’m engaged too.”

“So, you are a reporter?”

“No.”

Lyle shot Farley a stern look. Then he pointed back and forth at them. “You aren’t on a date, are you?”

“Thanks for giving me a hand, Lyle,” Farley said taking a few bills out of his wallet and slapping them into Lyle’s palm. “Tell Patsy hello for me.”

Lyle strutted back into Nile’s Steak House as Farley turned to Mallory and said, “How does a movie sound?”

“I’m not going anywhere until you hand me the keys.”

“You’re no fun.”

“Hand them over.” Farley rolled his eyes and handed Mallory the keys. “Where’s the movie theatre and what’s playing?”

“There’s that new horror movie from…”

“Not a chance.”

“Yeah, okay. Well, I think there’s a new psychological thriller playing at the AMC theatre.”

“Where’s that?”

“Over by the mall.”

“Great. Let’s go.” Mallory hopped into the truck and Farley climbed into the passenger’s side. “Why did you get drunk anyway? If winning this contest was so important to you, why did you get drunk?”

Farley looked out the passenger’s side window. “I’m nervous.”

“About what?”

“How it’s all going to turn out.”

Mallory nodded. “Let’s go see the movie.”

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: BAD WORDS (2013)-Netflix

This sleeper was added to Netflix recently and it is a wicked, sly droll dark comedy written by Andrew Dodge and directed by Jason Bateman. Guy Trilby (fabulously played by Jason Bateman) is a smart, snarky acid tongued forty-year-old eighth-grade dropout come warranty information proofreader who, because he never finished the eighth grade is, by a loophole, allowed to compete in the Golden Quill National Spelling Bee. This revelation is much to the vexation of both the parents and those who run the Golden Quill National Spelling Bee. He has conscripted reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathrine Hahn) a whack job in her own right to pay for his expenses in trade for his story. Trilby easily takes the win at the regional level and doggedly heads off to compete in the national competition. On the plane he meets fellow competitor 10-year-old Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), a happy go-lucky kid who insists on befriending the acid-witted Trilby. Upon his arrival at nationals, he is called into the office of Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney) who spares no punches in telling him what a jerk she thinks he is and he in turn unleashes venomous verbal fire right back at her. His presence at the competition is met with continued distain from both the parents and the competition’s founder Dr. William Bowman (Philip Baker Hall).

There are some very funny laugh out loud moments in the film, and it remains sharp and witty throughout. Although I would have appreciated an even more vicious ending, the movie is well worth the watch.