Prompt Series #9 – If you had an extra room in your house, what would you use it for?

QuestionIf you had an extra room in your house, what would you use it for?

This may be the easiest and shortest prompt yet. I have always wanted a game room / activity space. We are talking about that room with the pool table, ping pong table, and some other activities.  I cannot claim to be particularly good at these activities, but it would be great to have them.  If the room was large enough, I’d have a basic TV setup. I would definitely have some sort of sound system, or very nice Bluetooth speaker to place music.

If the extra room would be outdoors, I’d love to have a large enough yard to have a half-court with basketball hoop. The space would need to be big enough and distant enough to not have to deal with traffic, like when I shot hoops in front of the house in middle and high school. If I were beyond wealthy, I’d go for a half-court gym.

Why would I want these spaces? I like to think when I do activities alone. Shooting hoops, for example, was more than just shooting hoops. It was thinking about life. Praying to God. Letting frustrations seep out into the air. Occasionally you’d visualize you winning the game at the last second. But for me, it became later in life about helping clear the mind to think about life while exercising the body.

I’d love to have these spaces. I may never get them, but they would let me have a place to retreat and do things for mind, body, and soul.

Prompt Series #8 – When you think of California, what comes to mind?

Question: When you think of California, what comes to mind?

I lived in southern California for over seven years. In that span, I lived in four houses and went to three schools.  On an old New York Times or USA Today dialect test, my dialect was clearly Californian.  Others, including my parents who grew up in slightly different regions of the country, showed their dialect closely tied to where they grew up as well. The test seemed accurate and tied to our childhoods. So my time in California was probably  during what I’d consider my core formative years. Though psychologists would probably debate exactly when formative years take place for a person.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of images that come to mind. Probably the most striking are the San Gabriel mountains. We lived fairly close to their base, in the foothills I suppose. In the winter, you’d occasionally see the snow lining the top. When the wild fires came, you’d see them ablaze in the dark of night, flickering in shades of yellow, orange, and red.  Always you could see the trees, tiny as if stubble on  one’s chin toward the top. They always pointed the way north. It was hard to get lost with the mountains in view, even when you’d fly into the valley and see it bathed in dense, brown smog from your birds eye view.

Another striking thing I recall is the flooding of the road my final elementary school was on when it would rain hard in the winter. Being a constant slope down toward the valley, all the mountain trapped rain would flow south, gaining momentum as if an avalanche propelled by gravity. The rapids raged, sometimes knee deep. I recall some making paper boats, which would usually get thrashed in the waves upon launch. If they floated, they would travel too fast to keep up with. At least too fast for the small legs of the elementary school child. The rain would eventually find its way into the aqueduct system. I recall exploring that area once near one of our houses during a summer day. It was a graveyard of debris. The half broken toys always drew my attention.

A thing that has become even more distinct to me is the architecture of the suburbs. Watching a lot of TV programs and films that were filmed in the greater Los Angeles area today reminds me of great times with friends in the neighborhoods. I am instantly warmed with the nostalgia of a more innocent time. A time that may no longer exist, given we played safely in the streets daily and had many unsupervised adventures.

I never had the same friends for more than a couple of years, due in large part to moving so much. I was never lonely as I recall, as being taller than everyone else must have made me a protective magnet in some more instinctual sense. I don’t ever recall being bullied and always had a good group of friends. I like to think I was generally a well balanced young person in emotion and behavior, though I was not perfect, I was also never cruel as far as I remember. I never felt disliked. More mature than those my age may have also played a roll in all these things. It is probably why I spent 5th grade in a hybrid 5th + 6th grade experimental course, with the more mature, self-sufficient 5th graders having half a 5th and 6th grade curriculum.

I remember a sense of community. Unlike where I live in Florida, it felt like the town cared about itself. It had a history longer than Disney and its own traditions to bring people together. It had organized sports and opportunity. Myself playing  baseball, soccer, and football at every possible opportunity. Parents playing in tennis leagues and taking me to parks while they dueled across the net on courts of colored concrete. The only downside was the smog, high cost of living, and general boom of population. Let alone, if you ever had to actually traverse west, you’d get stuck in traffic for days. I didn’t understand those factors as much then, but I did later in life. Other than those rather negative factors, it was not a bad place to grow up at all. I certainly cherish the memories that come back to me from California.


Prompt Series #7 – Write about a song and the memories or feelings it evokes in you.

PromptWrite about a song and the memories or feelings it evokes in you.

This is going to be a very different answer than most would give. The song: “Carbon Freeze; Darth Vader’s Trap; Departure of Boba Fett” from The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack release in 1997 alongside the special editions coming to theatres.

Up until middle school, I wasn’t much of a music listener.  The first album I ever had was a cassette of Bobby McFerrin’s Simple Pleasures, which featured his award winning and  iconic song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. There are other songs I like better on that album… as well as McFerrin’s overall body of work. I think my second album was the soundtrack to the Lion King. Due in large part to my love of the Star Wars movies, and playing the Shadows of the Empire video game, I was drawn to get this music. I believe it was sometime during 7th grade when I landed this soundtrack, perhaps for my birthday.  The other Star Wars soundtracks followed, with A New Hope and Return of the Jedi during 8th grade. Shadows of the Empire was sometime toward the end of 8th grade at a Borders bookstore, around the time The Phantom Menace came out which I got immediately after seeing the movie at FYE.

The point of that narrative is to explain how I became obsessed with this music during a rather interesting time in my life. I took songs from all the Star Wars movies and eventually arranged them to fit story points in my own life. It was a way of connecting the amazing music and emotion of my life and give it some kind of soundtrack. Middle school was a turbulent time for most, and it wasn’t any different for me. Star Wars themes of heroism, struggle, darkness, and light all fit nicely for the seven years ending with high school graduation.

The song I listed is  the portion of The Empire Strikes Back where Luke lands on Bespin,  Leia watches Han get frozen, Luke starts to wander the halls of Bespin, followed by the start of his duel with Vader while Leia, Chewie, Lando, and C-3PO make a break to find Boba Fett, albeit, unsuccessfully. This is essentially the beginning of the climax of the movie. This track ultimately played overlay in my own personal soundtrack to a certain week in 8th grade.

I am not going to go into great detail, but the week in question involved my interest in a girl, how others decided to pry that secret out of me and then spill the beans very loudly before a class began to the entire class, in which she was also present. I was awkward throughout the situation and helped contribute to the rumor mill to some degree. I ultimately became deeply depressed for several days. Not because interest wasn’t mutual, but more so because I wasn’t the one to convey my own feelings. I felt somewhat violated in a way, cheated by friends and acquaintances, from going on my own path to success or failure. The piece of music conveys intense dramatic elements, shattered love, dark themes, and Boba Fett’s motif plays three times which I always paralleled to me walking down the halls for the three days during that short week in school trying not to attract attention to myself since I felt eyes burning through my soul. The track ends with a heroic piece, signifying the end of the dark three days, as I eventually came out of my broken mood. The entire event was probably absorbed too seriously on my part, but middle school is that kind of era in the heart, soul, and emotions of a  young teen.

I could probably write an entry like this for nearly every Star Wars soundtrack released through 2005, conveying how I associated a musical element from John Williams’s master pieces as a backdrop to my own life and key events throughout. This one stands out though, because it was really at the start of my intense obsession with all things Star Wars, especially with a new movie coming out  in a couple of months. The music helped me absorb the emotion of the time and make sense of the cruel worlds of middle and high school, while also cheering me on to victory in many other ways along the way.

The last thing I will say is that it is a real shame that The Empire Strikes Back didn’t win the Oscar for best original music/soundtrack. The music is the pinnacle  achievement (I think) for Williams with Star Wars overall. I still rank that score as my favorite of all time and could listen to it in full endlessly. I am kind of bummed that iTunes and iPod’s didn’t exist back then. I’d love to know just how many times I actually listened to that soundtrack. Especially on my old CD player as I sat in the backseat of my parents car, trekking to basketball games or weekend shopping experiences.  The music got me pumped for those basketball games too… so many stories for other times, and   a Star Wars track to accompany it.

Prompt Series #6 – What is your favorite TV series?

Question: What is your favorite TV series?

It really depends on the era of my life. I will write about each era briefly. I am answering the question  of each era respective to what was aired during that time period live. See honorable mentions for some others I loved outside of eras because they were already fully produced shows.

Elementary School Era

Nickelodeon was  the channel. There are so many great programs to pick from as a 90s kid. I would probably gravitate toward Doug or The Secret World of Alex Mack. Rugrats was fun for a time, but something about it bothered me as the show went along. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a good anthology series, and was one of the first “ooh, kids are encouraged to stay up late” to watch something maybe a little darker and edgier than daytime TV.

Having re-watched chunks of these programs though in the last decade to indulge nostalgia, I feel Doug probably holds up the best. I can definitely identify with Doug’s constant catastrophizing at every small event, blowing it up bigger than it would be. The array of characters and interesting storylines simply made it one of the most relatable cartoons of the 90s. The art style was also fun, much in the vein of the Simpsons, but even more extreme given the varying skin tones and outfits. It basically is a garish mish mash of colors that only the 90s can appreciate.  I should qualify that once Disney acquired Doug and made more episodes, the show was very different and not my cup of tea. I was older, so I didn’t really engage with it anyway.

The Secret World of Alex Mack was just an incredibly entertaining live action show, and one of the few serialized (sort of) shows I watched growing up. For its time, you hadn’t seen special effects presented in a kid’s show like it was here, as Alex’s powers made for a unique visual experience.  You can identify with Alex as she and her close friends go through the usual awkward middle school years and trying to figure one’s self out. Alex is being hunted down by the chemical plant that gave her the powers in an accident. So there is a whole dynamic of trying to use the powers for good while not getting caught and turned into a lab experiment.  It all plays well into the mindset of the middle schooler, unsure what to be truthful about or not with others. Can you be real to who you are?

Either way, it was great to grow up in what I suppose would be the golden age of Nickelodeon. Before Sponge Bob was basically their whole shtick.

Middle and High School Era

There is a clear cut winner here: The Pretender.

The Pretender was very  engrossing for its protagonist, the bad guys chasing him, and the ever complex and deepening mythology that stitched it all together. Jarod was a boy, a genius, taken from his parents as a child by an evil think tank known as The Centre. He has the ability to learn things rapidly, thus he can take on a role in almost any profession or scenario after some study.  The Centre had him do various “pretends” during their research. He thought it was being used for good, but almost always, The Centre used his research for ill.  Some thirty years after he was abducted, he escapes, after he learned the truth of his existence.  Thus he begins to live his life on the run, searching for his past and answers to his identity.

Every episode  features Jarod in one or more professions and jobs. He seeks to help those wronged by society. So one week, he is a doctor. The next a racecar driver. How about a stunt man? A safe cracker? A photographer? A firefighter? Jarod did it all. Jarod displays the naïve innocence as he discovers something new each week, be it ice cream, Spider-Man, fake dog poop, silly putty, etc. But he also displays a dark vengeance, usually bringing the bad guys of the week to justice in an ironic way, which parallels exactly how they wronged the victim originally.

Jarod is chased though each episode. A team from The Centre are tasked with capturing him. They are hot on his trail every episode. The show follows this formula for most of its run, but the 20% serialized part of the show mostly revolved around Jarod trying to find out who he was. As a parallel to Jarod, Ms. Parker, in charge of capturing him, learns about all sorts of things at The Centre and her own complicated past. Her key partners in Sydney and Broots are always there, but often don’t feel like bad guys as they help or heavily sympathize with Jarod. Let alone, The Centre doesn’t let you leave their employment alive, so they have no choice but to walk narrow lines at times. The leadership of The Centre, run by Ms. Parker’s father and the evil Mr. Raines, constantly put pressure on them to find Jarod. But more and more of the Parker’s story evolves throughout the show along with Jarod, and it deepens their connection and the entire mythology of the show. There are twists and turns here, and the season finales are some of the best TV I’ve ever watched.

Essentially, you can dive into this late 90s / early 00s to get a feel for the culture at the time. You can enjoy the incredible performance by Michael T. Weiss as Jarod  as he becomes someone new every episode. And you can get lost in the overarching mythology about Jarod, and especially The Centre itself. The show has no true ending, but it is a wild ride between the four seasons and two TV movies that heavily influenced me during this key stage of life. I just wish it had a proper ending.

I’d also say, the music in this show is among my favorites for any media. It is very hard to acquire this soundtrack, but it is an incredibly diverse musical treat that really made the show special to me.

College Era

College is hard to pick a show. I got heavily reinvested in The Pretender thanks to re-runs and DVD releases. A friend and I showed each other shows we liked, as a lot of things had started to get released to DVD. I introduced him to The Pretender, The Dead Zone, 24, and others. He showed me Smallville, The A-Team, and others.  I picked up on Smallville and got hooked the summer of my junior  (or was it senior?) year of college. 24 was also must watch television for most of college. Outside of that, I was mostly watching a lot of procedural crime dramas as I wasted time on reruns.  All flavors of Law and Order, CSI, etc. USA Network was a good source for original programming, as The Dead Zone, Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice were all solid.

I’d probably throw Smallville up there with Psych in the end. 24 would be up there too, but it seemed to have less compelling content after season 5, which is why I’d drop it. Psych got a lot better as it progressed. Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster (not Bruton Gaster) made for a wild comedic experience, throwing in nostalgia and parody of much of the programming on at that time. Fake psychic detective and a reluctant partner with lots of hijinks? Doesn’t sound like it would work, but it is great.  It was almost a parody of Law and Order, Monk, and The Dead Zone all in one. The most important thing is both Smallville and Psych ended well in their original runs. Cannot say the same for most of the others.

Early Career Era

This is another era with a clear cut winner: Person of Interest.

As an IT person, technology fascinates me. Security and AI is a growing in interest as well. Person of Interest has a potentially realistic look at where our technology and security are leading us. Both for the good it can do, and the abject horror it could produce.

Person of Interest starts out fairly formulaic.  A surveillance system, known as The Machine, was created by a reclusive tech genius billionaire. This system helps prevent terrorist attacks with its intelligence gathering by all means of cameras, microphones, etc. The Machine doesn’t get help from law enforcement to stop the lesser crimes and events though, even though it is keenly aware that something is about to happen. Instead, it sends a social security number to our tech genius, Harold Finch, when it detects something is about to happen that revolves around the weekly person of interest. Harold recruits in the first episode a down, depressed, and homeless ex-special forces operative named John Reese. Together, they look into the social security number received to stop whatever is going to happen. You don’t know if you are dealing with a victim or perpetrator. So the show naturally has twists and turns within each story as they unravel the mystery.

Person of Interest had a little bit of The Pretender’s flare for unique stories, as John and Harold frequently have to insinuate themselves into other roles, jobs, professions, etc. as part of unraveling the weekly mystery. But the thing that drew me to this show was just how serious it generally took itself. There were very few filler episodes and the stories were almost always engaging. The series also becomes far more serialized by its third season, and is almost exclusively serialized by its end. There are other supporting and main cast characters as the show advances and it had some incredibly intelligent writing. There are recurring story arcs  and villains which gives the show a lot of depth. I think the show ended itself pretty well. If you are fascinated by the duality of technology’s impact on society, privacy, safety, and behaviors, this show is a good one to get lost in for five solid seasons.

I’d also like to add, the music for this show was incredible. Pick it up and give it a go with the three releases. covering the first four seasons.

The Middle Career Era?

I’ve really wandered away from the TV in recent years. Since Person of Interest concluded, I really am not watching much programming now. When the Big Bang Theory ends, there really isn’t going to be anything I watch regularly. I’d say YouTube videos are taking up a lot more of my time. Some are educational and theological in nature. Others are all over Star Wars. The point being, I don’t know what is going to catch my eye. I like serialized stories more than anything, and I like serious stories that are well written and produced. The push to reality TV and bland binge programming from streaming services isn’t doing it for me.

Other Honorable Mention

I basically just want to show some love to the original Twilight Zone. The incredible anthology series from the  1950s and 60s is as thought provoking and timeless as anything produced in this media. I didn’t really get introduced to this in earnest until the late 1990s. You’d think a teenager 40 years after the fact wouldn’t care about black and white programs from years gone by, but this is some of the best television ever produced. The current modernization of the concept pales in comparison and lacks the subtly and timelessness that the original possessed. Let alone, all the other prior remakes that didn’t last very long are not worth much by comparison either. It really took me about 20 years to fully get through this whole series, between the marathons each year on New Years and then finally buying the entire series on DVD a decade ago. So of all the shows, this one is the one that spans time and eras.

Prompt Series #5 – You have magic soap. What does it wash away?

QuestionYou have magic soap. What does it wash away?

For the purposes of illustrating the magic soap in this ridiculous prompt, as an actual object I’ve seen, we will call it the Christmas gift found in a grocery store titled “Irish Soap on a Rope”. More specifically, it was a go-back item that kept returning itself to the go-backs. What is a go-back? A product a customer decided to not purchase, or, something found out of place. The lowly bagger, or courtesy clerk, will then be tasked with  putting it back where it belongs. That magic soap on a rope must have returned to the go-backs a dozen times. However, because it kept manifesting itself to me, I will only assume it is the magic soap of which this prompt speaks.

So what does the magic soap on a rope  wash away? Love bugs from the face of existence.

I woke up early Saturday, got the hot water running with the soap for the car. Got the hose connected. Scrubbed down the car with two different sponges.  Then dried it off with rather ineffective towels. It looked great. The splattered remains of the insects were gone. Then I take mom to lunch and shopping. The insects brothers and sisters, in the course of their never ending mating flight, exploded all over the front of the car again. Drive to church and then home today, realize the horror of the murders I had committed with the charred remains of even more conjoined lovers.

Love Bugs
The twice a year terror of conjoined lovers.

The magic soap would be very helpful in cleaning up the vehicular slaughter. Could save me the trouble of having to wash the car so intently next week. Save me a couple of hours.  But I’d rather the magic soap inflict genocide on the population of annoying 12 legged, two headed, four winged demons. Perhaps that is cruel. Perhaps we should just relocate them  north a thousand miles. But anyone who has driven through the everglades or other heavy bush areas with an interstate bisecting the wild would tell you these are a true villain to Florida, and maybe some other southern states. Once you’ve gone through the swarm, you may as well buy a new car. They have won their war against the machines driven by the bipeds.  They are legion. Save us magic soap on a rope.

Prompt Series #4 – Do you like or have facial hair?

Question: Do you like or have facial hair?

In general concept, my whole persona may have been defined by facial hair throughout my middle and high school years. So I would say I absolutely like facial hair and change up my face at least a couple of times per year.

The thing you’d have noticed about me as I grew up was that I was taller than everyone. My personality was more mature as well. I appeared perhaps 5 years older than I really was much of my life. Such as a realtor who asked, when I was age 11, what high school I was attending. I hadn’t even started middle school yet.

This translated to an early start with facial hair for me. I actually had to start shaving in 6th grade. My sideburns were starting to grow and I was getting some random hairs in the neck area. Jump ahead to 8th grade, and the goatee was born upon my chin and the sideburns had fully matured.

The goatee was the most prominent feature on my visible exterior the second half of 8th grade. This wasn’t a messy patchwork of a few hairs. This wasn’t a particularly thin and see through area of growth. My entire chin sprouted its thick, dark brown, coarse hair.  The amount of attention this garnered led me to steal, or finesse, a phrase a friend stated when I decried that all people saw of me was my goatee. I was the floating goatee. The floating mass of hair absent a body.

8th grade also happened to be the moment I reached my final height. Everyone would soon catch up to me over the first couple of years of high school. But for a time,  people thought I was an adult at age 14.The school resource officer challenged my presence on campus one day, thinking I was a high schooler there to pick up the middle school girls. I was polite and respectful in my rebuttle and it became a joke between us the rest of the year. In the basketball league, parents thought I was a ringer. The president of the league though was close to our team, so he knew who I was. When I entered 9th grade, students older than me assumed I was a senior. A girl in a class thought I was an undercover cop. People asked if I could get alcohol, as if I wouldn’t get carded. I never cared to try, nor partook in such activity.

High school advanced along and the rest of the beard was able to be grown. By 12th grade, it reached completion. The mustache area still doesn’t grow in as fully as I’d like, but I can grow a full beard. Given I worked at a grocery store with some limitations through college, the beard was mostly limited to a goatee, if I had it at all.  When I got into my career, everyone was fine with all sorts of facial hair assuming it was well kept. So for the last decade plus I’ve rotated around from a goatee, van dyke, full beard, and clean shaven. I will never go with just a mustache, as it is a bit scary and it just doesn’t grow as well as I’d like to make it work on its own.

I personally think the facial hair makes me more distinct. My face is a bit round and the beard elongates my appearance somewhat to what I think is better looking. I have had people say that I look better with the beard. At this point, I don’t have any firm advice or preference from females, so  I don’t know how it would be received if I get married.  I eventually get tired of staying clean shaved and let it grow back out. I’ve never gone with the epic long look, as I’ve always kept it at probably 2 or 3 inches or shorter. The one element though that pretty much never goes away are the sideburns. I’ve pretty much had them since 8th grade and haven’t looked back.

I am clean shaven as of this post. However, it will not be too long until I probably change that up again. Especially as the next Star Wars movie gets closer. Something about the beard also makes me feel more Jedi-like.

Prompt Series #3 – What is the best present you’ve ever been given?

QuestionWhat is the best present you’ve ever been given? Who gave it to you and what  made it the best?

As an only child, I feel I was spoiled quite often. The magnitude of toys, games, cheap little trinkets, etc. that piled up in my possession is somewhat embarrassing at times. By no means did I have more than many in my classes, but I had plenty to spare. I have no shortage of gifts, at least from parents, as candidates. I really only had one birthday party as a child, and given I was born in great proximity to Christmas, much of the year would be barren, save for my nagging about something at the store. Yet one gift above all others sticks out as the best. A study Bible, given Christmas 1997 by my mom.

Christmas 1997 was a unique Christmas. My grandpa, uncle, and sister came down to visit us. We spent some time with grandpa’s siblings in the Tampa/Clearwater area. The gift giving portion of Christmas was split in three segments: a couple on Christmas eve, a few Christmas morning, and the big gift in the evening. The Bible was part of Christmas eve’s unveiled items. We had to leave early Christmas morning to spend most of the daylight hours in Tampa. The  big gift that evening was a Nintendo 64 console, with Madden 64. As a kid who loved his NES and Super Nintendo, getting the N64 was a big deal. But yet, that Bible still overshadowed it in the end.

What makes it the best gift takes some explaining. After a rough time in our family several years earlier, my mom started to go to church again. She brought me along, and while sermons were unintelligibly boring to my 1st grade mind, it was a seed. As time progressed, my mom took me to other churches and the youth programs planted more seeds. My 5th grade mind was starting to truly grasp who God was and why Jesus was important. I knew I wanted to follow God, I felt the call, but I didn’t truly understand it until the summer of 1997 between 6th and 7th grade. During that span, as I grew to understand the world and its darkness and my need for the light of salvation only God could provide. I embraced God’s call that summer.

I had made the commitment to be  baptized sometime after Thanksgiving. We wanted to time it around the family being in town for Christmas.  I believe it was going to be the evening service the Sunday before Christmas when a children’s performance with music would be held. Ultimately I got very sick the weekend prior to Christmas. I remember waking, walking into the bathroom, and fainting. I had a high fever and was sick a few days, through Christmas. My baptism was delayed until January, namely on Super Bowl Sunday in 1998. That was also the first time my dad went to church with mom and me.

It was really around this time that the Bible I had been given that Christmas started to be utilized. I was reading nightly. The first book I truly read with any kind of personal, private understanding was Ecclesiastes. I simply opened the Bible and that was the book I had landed on. I moved on to the New Testament and continued to dive deeper into God’s word as years progressed. That Bible was my primary source for reading scripture, with its study sections and other augmented learning sections, up until college.

I am certainly no perfect individual. I would say  in many ways I am still guilty of drinking milk when I should be devouring steak in my life with Christ. I didn’t always read scripture with such  consistency, fervor, or reverence. There have been mountains and valleys along the way. But certainly no gift meant more to helping grow the seeds that were planted than that Bible.

While the Nintendo 64 was fun and I had great times with friends, I eventually sold it. I regret that somewhat now, given the retro craze the last decade, but I still have that study Bible. I’ve moved on to other translations and more robust study content, but it is always there on one of my bookshelves as a reminder of the days when I felt the most alive and newly inspired by the creator of the universe.

Student's Life Applicable Study Bible
The Bible gift of Christmas 1997. The Student’s Life Application Study Bible.


Prompt Series #2b – If you were trapped in an elevator with a stranger, what would you do?

QuestionIf you were trapped in an elevator with a stranger, what would you do?

If we were stuck long enough, I would probably regale them with the story of Prompt Series #2, which I spent an hour writing and then decided to keep private.  The unfortunate timing of the prompt in question showing up as I skimmed the pages of  my prompt book and the specific date of today, May 2nd, struck maybe too much of a cord.  I don’t want to become overly personal here. If you like my writing, maybe I will share some form of it in the future.

In reality though, I would spend the first few moments working with the person to determine just how stuck we were in this elevator. What floor are we on, or between? Does the callbox for emergency services work? Let’s give it a try if it does. I’d probably then sit quietly on the floor with my back in the corner waiting for help to arrive. I’d let any ensuing conversation be somewhat simplistic, but knowing me, if my emotions get pumped up, I’d probably talk a lot more than my usual stoic character could produce.

I am sure if cell phone signals are active, we end up staring at things on our phone. Posting a selfie with a big smile of us stuck in the death box. Maybe we can talk to people on the outside while we wait. I mean, isn’t that what we do when we are not trapped? Sit within inches of each other in real life and get lost in another world on a four to five inch screen? Or have pointless conversations with others we cannot see for hours on end about nothing? Unless we use facetime. Or those weird animal emoji things. Battery may get eaten up too fast then. Better hope we have Samsung phones with inductive charging so we can just sit them on each other to share battery. Unless those Samsung phone batteries are prone to exploding. Or the screens are prone to breaking when folded. But what am I saying, I have an iPhone. I have tons of movie soundtracks to entertain us. Let’s fire up Die Hard since it fits the moment of being in a perilous situation in a building.

Now let’s say the John McClane scenarios start once Ode to Joy blares from the soundtrack. The elevator starts to slip. Perhaps flames can be felt , if not seen. We need to get out of the death trap before we are cooked or plummet to a very hard landing. Perhaps the bad guys are coming with their guns. We must escape now before we are riddled with holes. My present state of being will probably only get me so far. Being heavy, on a diet, lacking energy and stamina will require my adrenaline to really save the day. Unless the other person happens to be John McClane.  I’d probably find myself standing on top of the elevator looking for a way to climb up. Hope there is a ladder, because wire cabling isn’t going to get me going. Not with my upper body strength, or lack thereof.

I don’t know, somehow I feel this got off track somewhere… that is what happens when you write a  poignant summary in the real Prompt #2 but then decide to not share the lessons learned and instead pick the nonsensical prompt instead.


Prompt Series #1 – What is the nicest restaurant you’ve ever been to?

QuestionWhat is the nicest restaurant you’ve ever been to? Where was it? What did you order?

I’ve eaten at a lot of places. Having lived in five states and traveled to at least 20, I’ve had my share of adventures. I’ve eaten the absolutely common fast food. I’ve eaten the high end at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The most important place with some of the best food though may be  Taliano’s Italian Restaurant.

Taliano’s is in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This is a border city in western Arkansas within sight of Oklahoma across the river. As a city, it features maybe 90,000 people today. It is where my parents met on the tennis courts at Ben Geren. It has a history as a gateway to the west and Indian Territory, as one of the last locations along the Trail of Tears. A location of discipline, law, order, and hangings in the wild west.

Taliano’s is where my dad proposed to my mom. The Italian restaurant itself is fairly close to my mom’s old home. A few streets over in the older part of town with plenty of houses pushing near100 years old. The building is an old house, converted into a very unique dining establishment. I’ve eaten there twice as far as I can remember. Once in 2001 on a vacation trip. Again in 2017 on a vacation to let my mom see her home town for perhaps the last time.

Taliano's Sign
Taliano’s Italian Restaurant Sign

Lots of people flock to a simple place like an Olive Garden. Taliano’s has them beat by miles.  The food is fresher, the atmosphere even more intimate and unique, and the memories fonder than any chain could hope to garner. Open mainly for dinner hours, it never seems to be empty.  They prefer that you have a reservation, but we got in just fine without one for my mom, her sister, her sister’s husband, and myself.  It seemed our visit must have corresponded with prom, or some formal event, as a table of eight high school aged kids was nearby. Their behavior was exemplary.

There is a lot of standard Italian fare on the menu. I have no idea what I ate in 2001, but in 2017 I had fettuccini alfredo.  The pre-meal salad was incredibly fresh too. I believe there may have been some bread or other pre-meal items, but ultimately I enjoyed the main course. Taliano’s is not an inexpensive restaurant, but it sits up there with other higher end casual dining, such as any primary Darden entity or steak house.  It was about $25 a head I think as I paid the bill after tip. Though I believe I ate all my food, the others had leftovers to enjoy later.

Fort Smith is somewhere I lived for six months in the middle of my single digit years. Both sets of grandparents lived here. As mentioned, my parents met here, and the restaurant played a role in their relationship. Fort Smith is not the biggest town, it doesn’t have all the attractions of a major city, but it has its culture and special places. Taliano’s is one of those places. Unlike the bland suburban and urban environments somewhere like Orlando has, with all its attractions and famous destinations, Fort Smith has something special to it. Houses have character, national historic locations have presence, and the people seem to have a relaxed kindness. While the world gravitates the population back to the mega cities and builds new mega cities, lets pray somewhere like Fort Smith can still exist with its special places like Taliano’s tucked away in the neighborhoods of old. It was here before I was born, lets hope it is still there when I die for the next generations to enjoy.