Monthly Archives: June 2011

Which would you like first?

The good news is it feels much cooler inside our bedroom than it does outside; I saw a woman staring out her window, chin in hands, while a baby pointed and babbled next to her; I am reading two books at once; I have experimented and succeeded at creating a cobbler recipe that your father enjoys (the secret is butter, I should have known); the apple tree is finally fruitful.

The bad news is my hip joints do not have nifty little holes like my sewing machine where I can drip oil as needed; all of the other fruit trees we’ve planted were uprooted in last week’s hurricane; I forgot to buy milk and eggs during my grocery store trip this morning (and now what I actually did buy escapes me. I spent two hours in Kroger that felt more like five minutes); the carburetor is on its last leg, daddy says (and he didn’t laugh when I asked, “No other limbs left to prop it up?” so I know he’s worried); Amy Beth, the girl I was always trying to get you to meet, has died of a swollen heart and now you will never get to meet her (I made her parents a chicken casserole, but they don’t eat meat so your father and I have been eating on it all week and he hasn’t quit griping); I’m reading two books at once and I keep getting the characters and story lines confused.

Write me a letter for once. I’m your mother.

Shameless plug! Check my story “Mother Knows Best” at fwriction:review tomorrow!

Haiku Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, part 2

This book might as well have been titled The Boy Who Cried “Draco.”

Chapter 16: A Very Frosty Christmas

Minister Scrimgeour
wishes for Harry’s aid v.
Voldy for Christmas.

Chapter 17: A Sluggish Memory

Harry gets homework
from Dumbledore: get Slughorn’s
Voldy memories.

Chapter 18: Birthday Surprises

Cheating, vanishing
classes, love potions, and Ron
gets poisoned. Good month.

Chapter 19: Elf Tails

Harry hires house-elves
to spy on Draco after
big Gryffindor loss.

Chapter 20: Lord Voldemort’s Request

More pensieve action:
Voldy kills fat old lady,
applies for a job.

Chapter 21: The Unknowable Room

Dobby finds Draco
using the old Dumbledore’s
Army room. Why, though?

Chapter 22: After the Burial

Luck potion helps when
trying to steal memories
from drunk professors.

Chapter 23: Horcruxes

Voldy hid his soul
in six magical objects:
two down, four to go.

Chapter 24: Sectumsempra

Untested spell use,
hospital stays, detention,
Quidditch, making out.

Chapter 25: The Seer Overheard

Psychic prof. proclaims
Draco triumphant, reveals
Snape betrayed Potters.

Harry gives friends luck
potion to defend castle,
leaves to find Horcrux.

Chapter 26: The Cave

Dumbledore, Harry
explore cave for Voldy’s soul
and fight off zombies.

Chapter 27: The Lightning-Struck Tower

Back at school, Dark Mark
shines (Draco’s doing). Snape kills
Dumbledore… wait, what?!?

Chapter 28: The Flight of the Prince

Battle rages while
Harry chases Snape, revealed
to be Half-Blood Prince!

Chapter 29: The Phoenix Lament

Night’s events explained:
Bill Weasley mauled by werewolf
(in human form—phew!);

luck potion saved lives;
Neville, Flitwick hurt; after
song, Fawkes gone for good.

Chapter 30: The White Tomb

A funeral for
Dumbledore; Harry, Ginny
break up; plans are made.

Storytime Dreams

I told Mother this morning that when I grow up, I want to be a protagonist in my own story. She just laughed as she set a plate down in front of me with two strips of bacon, two slices of toast, and two eggs over easy. “When I was your age, it was every boy wanted to grow up to be a firefighter, or astronaut,” she said. “Now everyone wants to be the protagonist in their own story. If everyone was a protagonist, then who would do the work that makes the world go ‘around, huh?”

She always delivered the guilt trip over things like this. “Can you imagine if Ms. Mott wanted to be a protagonist? Who would be left to teach you about reading and arithmetic? If everyone was a protagonist, there’d be no one left to teach you how to be a protagonist!” Ms. Mott was my second grade teacher. She was beautiful, blonde, and buxom, and she was very understanding and patient when I needed help on my math homework.

Mother sat down at the table across from me in our tiny, cramped kitchenette and looked at the eggs on her plate. She sliced cleanly through one of them with the edge of fork; the yolk didn’t run, meaning she’d left them on the stove for too long. Mother always hated when the yolk was too hard. It reminded her of my father. That was why she was so sensitive about my dream of being my own protagonist — father had left her for the exact same reason. “I’m tired of living my life for the betterment of someone else’s story!” I heard him yelling angrily through the wallpaper of our rent-controlled apartment. “My father worked for the union for 55 years, and all he had to show for it was a boring old pension and some ungrateful kids. He would have been happier if he just had his own story. I’m not going to make the same mistakes as my old man.”

The next morning, my father was gone. By the end of the weekend, Mother had cleared out everything that reminded her of him. Well, except for me. I’d always had his pale blue eyes and moppy brownish hair — and now I had his foolish dreams as well.

“Well…maybe I can be an astronaut, and a protagonist!” I tried telling her before biting into my first slice of bacon. The crunching reverberated all throughout the empty hollow of my young head. I waited for the echo to die down before swallowing; there was still no response from Mother. I looked back down at the food in front of me, the food that she had so lovingly prepared for me, and I tried to appreciate each bite as I forced it down. The only other sound was that of Mother trying to fold the newspaper in order to read it properly — our kitchen table was too small these days to rest the pages on.

As I finished up my breakfast, all she said was, “Hurry up. You don’t want to miss the bus.”

Haiku Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, part 1

The much-anticipated continuation: Book 6!

Chapter 1: The Other Minister

Muggle PM—and
readers—brought to speed by new
Minister, Scrimgeour.

Chapter 2: Spinner’s End

Snape’s a Death Eater!
He vows to aid Draco in
some sinister plot.

Chapter 3: Will and Won’t

Harry leaves Dursleys
early with Dumbledore, owns
Kreacher and Black’s house.

Chapter 4: Horace Slughorn

Dumbledore uses
Harry to convince an old
chair to teach again.

Chapter 5: An Excess of Phlegm

Fleur’s back! and engaged
to Ron’s brother Bill. Harry’s
back at the Burrow.

He tells Ron, Hermy
’bout prophecy and gets O. W. L. S.
grades; Auror is out.

Chapter 6: Draco’s Detour

Twins’ store huge success.
Harry, Weasleys visit, meet
muy shady Draco.

Chapter 7: The Slug Club

Harry, Ginny, and
Neville are invited to
special Slughorn lunch.

Then, stupid Harry
tries to spy on Malfoy, gets
beat up, left on train.

Chapter 8: Snape Victorious

Tonks rescues Harry.
Snape finally gets dream job.
Grawp upgrades housing.

Chapter 9: The Half-Blood Prince

Potions not so bad
without Snape: Harry wins luck
potion (with some help).

Chapter 10: The House of Gaunt

Private lessons with
Dumbledore! Voldy’s inbred
family researched.

Chapter 11: Hermione’s Helping Hand

Hermy cheats, helps Ron
keep Keeper spot. Hagrid’s sad;
his spider’s dying.

Chapter 12: Silver and Opals

Hogsmeade trip horror:
Chaser Katie Bell jinxed by
shady green necklace.

Chapter 13: The Secret Riddle

Stroll down Memory
Lane; Dumbledore lectures on
Voldy’s orphan past.

Chapter 14: Felix Felicis

Ron and Lavender
sitting in a tree, K-I-
S-S-I-N-G.

Chapter 15: The Unbreakable Vow

Snap, yo! Draco IS
up to something! And Prof. Snape
has some secrets, too!

Cheap Shot

Sorrow hangs like a pall on this moonlit night.
We emerge in a rage from the bar.
Our team has lost! We must set things aright!
So let’s go turn over that car.

We’ll show those upstarts from Boston who’s boss!
To greatness our team must aspire!
We represent them! We shall avenge their loss!
So let’s go light shit on fire.

Our honor is stained; there’s no time to ask why.
Hockey is no mere sport; it’s a WAR.
We are on the frontlines! It is now do or die!
So let’s go ransack that store.

Imagine the chaos if your team had WON.
There were other ways to have your say.
Not much left to do, for the damage is done.
So let’s just call it a day.

Haiku Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, part 2

Harry is seriously so annoying in this book.

<em>Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Chapter 20: Hagrid’s Tale

What I Did On My
Summer Vacation, Hagrid
Edition: Giants

Chapter 21: The Eye of the Snake

Prof. Umbridge audits
Hagrid’s class. Harry kisses
Cho and bites Ron’s dad.

Chapter 22: St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

Weasleys and Harry
head to hospital, visit
snake-bitten Arthur.

Harry overhears
adult conversation: he’s
possessed by Voldy!

Chapter 23: Christmas on the Closed Ward

Harry is angsty
until Ginny sets him straight.
Hermy ditches ‘rents.

Back at hospital,
Harry and co meet Neville’s
gran and addled mom.

Chapter 24: Occlumency

Snape and Harry start
anti-mind-reading lessons
(Dumbledore’s orders).

Chapter 25: The Beetle at Bay

Death Eaters escape
from Azkaban. Harry and
Cho go on bad date.

Hermione has
Rita Skeeter write Harry’s
story for Quibbler.

Chapter 26: Seen and Unforseen

Tabloid star Harry
sucks at Occlumency and
sees Voldy’s bedroom.

Meanwhile, Umbridge sacks
Divination prof. Sibyl;
Dumbledore hires horse.

Chapter 27: The Centaur and the Sneak

Centaur Firenze—new
Divination professor—
says war is coming.

Cho’s friend snitches so
D.A. disbands. Dumbledore
evades Fudge, arrest.

Chapter 28: Snape’s Worst Memory

With Dumbledore gone,
the twins take their mayhem to
a whole new level.

Then, Harry sneaks peek
at Snape’s worst memory: picked
on by Harry’s dad!

Chapter 29: Career Advice

Despite Umbridge’s
protests, Prof. McG vows to
help Harry find job.

Harry talks through fire.
Twins build portable swamp, fly
off into sunset.

Chapter 30: Grawp

Hagrid’s bro-giant
is hidden in the forest.
Weasley is our King.

Chapter 31: O. W. L. S.

Fifth years take tests. Fang,
McG knocked out. Hagrid sacked.
Sirius tortured?

Chapter 32: Out of the Fire

Harry’s annoying;
he won’t listen to reason
about Sirius.

Rescue plan devised
but thwarted by Umbridge,
who Hermy then deceives.

Chapter 33: Fight and Flight

Umbridge abducted
by centaurs. Then Grawp rescues
Hermy and Harry.

Ginny, Neville, Ron,
and Luna duel Slytherins;
all mount bat-horses.

Chapter 34: The Department of Mysteries

Flight to Ministry:
Harry and friends search for Black,
find only weird rooms.

Chapter 35: Beyond the Veil

Harry finds glass orb;
Death Eaters arrive, chase kids,
try to steal the orb.

The Order joins in.
Dumbledore to the rescue!
Black killed by cousin 😥

Chapter 36: The Only One He Ever Feared

Dumbledore! Voldy!
Duel of the Century! With
help from some statues!

Defeated, Voldy
retreats. Fudge finally sees
Dumbledore was right.

Chapter 37: The Lost Prophecy

Harry learns truth ’bout
Voldy: neither can live while
the other survives.

Chapter 38: The Second War Begins

The Wizarding World
now knows Voldemort is back.
Dark times lie ahead.

Harry heads back home.
The Order inform the Dursleys
they better be nice.

I guess Hogwarts needs
a new Defense Against the
Dark Arts professor…

My First Bar Friend

Sometimes I see him on the street, and our eyes will meet briefly before darting away, the way you look at that girl you hooked up with that one time and it was totally weird and you never talked to her again. “Do I say something? Do I wave?” you wonder. “Does he even remember me? Does he know my name?”

I think of all times we spent on barstools at the local pub. He was always there when I was, and one day, we just struck up a conversation. I think he asked about the book that was I reading, then he bought me a round, and we started talking about girls and bands and everything else that guys talk about once they’ve had a couple beers. It’s not all that unusual, at a bar like that. His name was Paul, and at the time, he had just recently moved to the neighborhood. A former Navy SEAL, he was going back to UMass Boston to finish his degree in Anthropology. Said he was part of the team that took down those Somali pirates. I told him I was impressed with the shot they made over alternating waves; he said the shot was easy, anyone could have done it, and he was a little irked that he was on the shift before the one got the shot, because those guys got all the glory.

I don’t know why I remember that. I don’t even know if he was telling me the truth. I’m not even sure what I might have told him about myself, or what he remembers of it. Other times, we’d both be at the bar with our friends. We’d shout “Hey!” and high five, introduced our friends to one another in hopes of triggering the other one to remind of his name: “Hey, this is my buddy Chris” “How’s it goin’, I’m Paul” and so on. We’d get excited every time the blonde behind the bar would put on London Calling — as if it was such a rare coincidence that we both liked The Clash — then we’d turn and watch the Sox game in silence, only turning to each other to say obligatory things like, “Youk was in a funk, but man, he’s got it back,” or “Beckett’s gotta sit for a few more games, they should pull him out and get Papelbon back out there,” and of course, “Let’s go, Papi!” If the game went well, then he might buy a round of PBRs for my friends as well as his. We’d shoot the shit some more, then say good night like we’d been bros for the longest time.

I don’t even think we’re Facebook friends.

But in those hazy, drunken moments in the low, musty lighting of the bar, you’d swear we were the best of friends, and at the time, perhaps we were. So when I see him now, I can’t help but feel some strange sense of camaraderie, fueled by nostalgia for nights that I hardly can remember.