The Actors’ Club


“This is an actors’ club, and I must admit that actors are far superior to writers when it comes to public speaking. They have somebody else write whatever it is they’re going to say, and then they memorize it. This is a club for memorize® and I think it’s nice that they have a club. Everybody who wants a club should have one. That’s what America is all about. That, and fighting different diseases, and so on.”

Kurt Vonnegut ~ Palm Sunday

I could never be in an actors’ club, a memorize® club, because I am not skilled at memorizing things. Also, I seem to remember what I need to know anyway. When I read something significant in a book, it sticks somewhere in my memory.

As a result, all of Life reminds me of a book I’ve read, which could mean one of two things. Either I have read a lot of books, or I don’t get out much.

Daily Prompt:Memorize



Chapter Five: In Which Skandar Becomes Enamored of Amalia


Then the great old, young, beautiful princess turned to Curdie.

“Now, Curdie, are you ready?” she said.

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Curdie.

“You do not know what for.”

“You do ma’am. That is enough.”

George MacDonald ~ The Princess and Curdie

The morning after his mishap, a servant helped Skandar to dress and guided him to the common room for breakfast. Sitting at one of the tables was a girl about his age. Also at the table was the innkeeper Virgil.

“Good morning, my lord,” Virgil greeted him. “This is my daughter Amalia. If it pleases you, she will be your companion.”

Amalia smiled and Skandar found he was very well pleased. He noticed that she had placed a large serving of sausages, bread, and jam on her plate and he followed suit. Virgil left the young people to their occupation. It was several minutes before either spoke. At length Amalia set down her knife.

“I heard about what happened. I am very sorry for you. I fell into a bush of nettles once when I was five years old. I will never forget how much it itched. I thought I would die.”

“How did you happen to fall into the nettles?” asked Skandar.

“I was climbing a tree trying to catch caterpillars. There was one beautiful caterpillar just out of my reach. I stretched out as far as I could to seize it and lost my balance and fell. It wasn’t very far to the ground and fortunately, there was a bush to break my fall; unfortunately, the bush was a nettle bush.”

Skandar was duly impressed. She was a person after his own heart.

“What would you like to do today?” asked Amalia.

“Whatever you would like,” answered Skandar.

“Well, then, shall we go?”

Amalia took Skandar’s hand and led him through the common room, into the kitchen, and out the back door of the inn.

As they walked, Amalia pointed out the various sights such as the large oak by the riverbank, the blacksmith’s pet rooster, and the village green. The shops were open for business and the shopkeepers were glad to share samples of their wares with the innkeeper’s daughter and her guest. Amalia told Skandar about her brother, Cyril, her sister, Anna, and her cousins Finn and Bethna. Skandar longed to tell Amalia about his brother, Alanar, but he had strict instructions to no longer speak of him. Instead, he told Amalia that he would reach his twelfth year on the twenty-first of October. She promptly shared that she would be twelve years of age in August, which was in two months time.

Presently, Amalia turned to Skandar and said, “Most people here call me ‘Mole’, it’s short for ‘Amalia.’ You may do the same, if you like.”

Skandar nodded his acquiescence. His companion could have been called anything for all he cared. In his eyes, no name could diminish the sparkle in her grey eyes or the sheen of her glossy brown hair. He considered telling her his nickname; he wondered if she would laugh.

After some hesitation, Skandar cleared his throat.

“I have a nickname, too. It was given me by my bro – by someone at my father’s house.”

Amalia looked at him expectantly.

“It’s ‘Skunk.’” Skandar’s heart pounded. His rash covered the deep blush that crept from his neck to the crown of his head.

“‘Skunk?’ Why are you called ‘Skunk?’”

Skandar pulled his hair back from his face, exposing the two golden stripes of color in his hair.

Amalia’s face lit up.

“How wonderful! Of course, now that you’ve shown me, ‘Skunk’ is a very fitting name.”

Amalia continued. “I have always thought that skunks were some of the world’s most beautiful creatures and were most unfairly misunderstood. Aunt Beryl says that a skunk’s odor is the best cure for a head cold, so whenever I smell one, I breathe deep. ‘Skunk!’ That is a wonderful name! Does everyone call you that? May I call you ‘Skunk?’”

Again Skandar nodded. You can call me anything you like, he thought. Having spent most of his life in the company of his brother, Skandar had never considered that he would encounter another person whose tastes were so similar to his own. And to think that she was a girl!

Daily Prompt:Enamored


Parrish-Pierrots Lanterns

“Once in a while, without rhyme or reason, I am cast in a supporting role in someone else’s drama. I wouldn’t mind so much if they would at least tell me about it and supply me with a script. If I have to improvise, I much prefer a comedy.”

Amalia ~ The Book of Rhino (Between the Lines)

Daily Prompt:Rhyme

The Ripper


Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Oscar Wilde

My husband and I got married when we were eighteen years old, having decided it would be an interesting thing to do. A few weeks after we were married, Jack asked me to do an errand for him. Being newly married, I was happy to oblige. His exact words were, “Go…and sin no more.” Right then, I knew I was married to a ripper.

To a ripper, everything is grist for the humor mill. A new work uniform, the red light on a telephone, or even a banana (don’t ask) are all deadly fun in the hands of a ripper.

The problem is that after so many years of living with this man, I have been infected with rippery. Now if I had remained quietly at home, minding my own business, and had avoided public gatherings, the rip syndrome could have been managed and gone largely unnoticed. However, I have somehow always been in the public eye.

For over twenty years, I was a high school mathematics teacher, which is a magnet for rippery if there ever was one. Now I am on social media, which only intensifies the desire to rip.

I write a blog—a mostly non-serious blog that has attracted a few followers. It makes me wonder why they follow me? I feel like I have nothing to offer, just “nonsense, whims, and follies”, to borrow from Jane Austen.

I am serious about social justice and will not hesitate to call out injustice, abuse, misogyny, racism, sexism, ageism, and ableism. But I just don’t have the chops to write about Sturm und Drang sorts of things. I blame Jack for that.

As I said, my husband gave me the ripper virus soon after we were married, and I have never recovered. For example, the other day at El Patron, we ordered two bean burritos. I searched through my coins for the exact change and thought I was one penny short. Then I found it hidden under the other coins. I told the girl at the counter, “Here is the other penny; it was just shy.”

Jack said, “So you were shy a penny.” We both cracked up and repeated the joke to ourselves, you know, to get another laugh. The girl at the counter merely smiled.

Jack said, “It’s an old-people joke.” And then we laughed again.

So I ask you, coming from this sort of home environment, how am I to handle all of the serious stuff I read on social media? If someone posts a serious blog, I do not want to disrespect him or her by responding with levity in the Comment section.

So if you other bloggers out there think that I am ignoring you, I’m not. I respect your writing; I enjoy reading what you write. It’s just that I cannot think of something serious in response. I am under the influence of Jack the Ripper.

Daily Prompt:Magnetic

Rhino Between the Lines


You are what you create. Or do you create what you are? Or do you become what you create? Malcolm the bard

“That is some picture, Elbert,” said Wilfred admiringly. “I don’t know how you do it.”

The others crowded around the table where Elbert was seated.

“May I?” asked Rhino.

Elbert nodded, and Rhino held the picture aloft.

“This is great,” he said. “It’s like you, and yet it isn’t. There is something different about it—something that is not you.”

“Come on, Elbert, confess,” Skandar teased. “What inspired this picture? Do you have a secret self that none of us know about?”

They all laughed except Rhino.

“What if we could find out?” he asked. “What if we could visit and see for ourselves Elbert’s source of inspiration? Wouldn’t that be interesting?”

There was silence in the room. Elbert looked scandalized.

“I’m serious,” said Rhino. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could communicate with each other through our thoughts and inhabit each other’s inner worlds?”

“NO!” said the others in unison.

“Rhino, you can’t be serious,” said Skandar, laughing. “Imagine what a disaster that would be. Wilfred would probably break something.”

(“Hey, I heard that.”)

“Trevor would wander off, never to be heard from again, and I would find any and all accidents waiting to happen.”

“And what about Rhino?” Wilfred asked.

Skandar thought for a moment.

“Rhino? Hmm…I think that Rhino would find whatever is wrong and would fix it—make it perfect.”

“I don’t want Elbert to be perfect,” Wilfred protested. “I love him the way he is.”

Elbert leaned over and patted Wilfred on the shoulder.

“Thank you, brother,” he said. “Your point, however insulting, is well put.”

He then addressed the others.

“Wilfred is right. Even if we could acquire the ability to walk in the inner worlds, that doesn’t mean that we should. If there is a mystery about myself, I prefer to let my artwork reveal what it is.”

“Right,” said Trevor. “Whoever I am is expressed in my music; I am content to keep it that way.”

At first, Rhino made no answer. It was apparent to him that his brothers did not share his desire. For now, it didn’t matter. He would eventually persuade them to his way of thinking. That Rhino did not know himself what he thought was no deterrent.

“Of course,” he said. “So true. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Daily Prompt:Inhabit


Denatured Nature



Among the forces which sweep and play through the universe, untutored man is but a wisp in the wind. Our civilization is still in a middle stage, scarcely beast, in that it is no longer wholly guided by instinct; scarcely human, in that it is not yet wholly guided by reason. On the tiger no responsibility rests.

Theodore Dreiser ~ Sister Carrie

Here come the tourists. They truck in by the busload, hundreds of them, to stare at us, and let us stare at them in turn.

It’s a shame really that our visceral fear of humans kept us away from them. We never knew how interesting they are as a species. Instead of getting to know them, we fled from them whenever they came around. They had to drag us kicking and screaming into a relationship with them.

And now, here we are, as curious about them as they are about us. We can stare at each other all day long without fear. We are in a safe place.

Daily Prompt:



He oozed himself into the pew next to her, taking care not to frighten her away. Once she tolerated his physical proximity, he could then seep into her mind, her heart, her soul. He would mold himself into whatever she desired until she was his.

Father Caril ~ The Book of Rhino

Daily Prompt:Ooze

Leaving the Lurch Behind


“A huge, living, daily increasing grievance that does one no palpable harm, is the happiest possession that a man can have.”

Anthony Trollope ~ The Eustace Diamonds

I associate the word “lurch” with the phrase “leave someone in a lurch”, which means to abandon someone abruptly without assistance or support in a difficult situation. Leaving someone in a lurch—the real thing, not just an inconvenience posing as a lurch—should not be approached lightly. A successful lurch requires careful planning and front-loading.

First, the lurcher must have something that the lurchee needs, some service that only the lurcher can perform. Second, there must be a relationship between the lurcher and lurchee that puts the lurcher in a position of leaving the lurchee in a lurch. Otherwise the lurchee walks away lurchless.

Third, the lurcher must be aware of what the lurchee requires of him or her, otherwise, a lurch is a mere shadow of its potential.

As a rule, I never leave people in a lurch. If someone is depending on me to perform a service, I make sure I do it. For this reason, I say no to many things on other people’s agendas. I prefer to be thought ungenerous rather than undependable.

Now here’s the irony: If someone wants me to leave them in a lurch, my refusal to do so will, in fact, leave them in a lurch. Can one be forced to be a lurcher against one’s will? I think the answer is yes, if the desire to have a grievance is strong enough. When it comes to lurching, anything is possible.

Daily Prompt:Lurch

How Deepeeboo


“Alright, Wilfred, it’s your turn to recite,” said Rhino. “What masterpiece have you created?”

“Hullo!” said Wilfred. “Master Altman said nothing about a masterpiece. He only said we have to write something worth sayin’ out loud. Well, I got my somethin’ and I’m sayin’ it out loud.”

Wilfred stood in front of the group with his hands behind his back.

“This must be serious,” said Trevor. “He has assumed the position.”

Ignoring Trevor, Wilfred began to speak.

“What did you learn today, my son?

I learned five things and remembered none.

And what five things did you forget?

That dust is dry, and water’s wet.

The moon is cold, the sun is hot;

There’s one more thing, but I forgot.”


“Wilfred,” said Skandar. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s because it is deep,” said Wilfred.

Daily Prompt:Recite

Solitary Characters

Korin-Underground Man

It is not only true that humility is a much wiser and more vigorous thing than pride. It is also true that vanity is a much wiser and more vigorous thing than pride. Vanity is social—it is almost a kind of comradeship; pride is solitary and uncivilized. Vanity is active; it desires the applause of infinite multitudes; pride is passive, desiring the applause of only one person, which it has. Vanity is humorous, and can enjoy the joke even of itself; pride is dull and cannot even smile.

G. K. Chesterton ~ Heretics

I equate the novels of Ayn Rand with the word “solitary.” The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged both have as their central character a solitary man, a rugged individualist, who stands alone against the tide of popular opinion.

(Note to self: Are all individualists necessarily rugged? Could other adjectives also apply? John Galt, fluffy individualist. Howard Roark, simpering individualist. Not quite the same magic. No, I think that if a character insists on being an individualist, he (rarely she), must be rugged.)

Solitary characters populate the landscape of Rand’s novels—they are her heroes and heroine’s. One knows they are because (1) only the bad guys travel in packs and (2) the heroes couldn’t tell a joke if their lives depended on it.

(Note to self: Remember that scene where John Galt is tortured by electrical currents? His tormentors want to know where his secret hideout is located. Wouldn’t it be funny if they were trying to force a joke out of him? They would have a better chance of getting him to disclose the hole-in-the-wall gang.)

“What is the joke about a skunk, a mole, and a rabbit who all walk into a bar? Say it, or you’ll get another jolt. Say it! Say it!”

Stubborn—make that rugged—silence.

“Alright, boys, give him another!”

“Wait! The coordinates are 39.1911 degrees north by 106.8175 west. Now may I be excused please?”

Actually, I am not quite correct in stating that Randy characters cannot tell a joke. Sometimes they are the joke. In one scene, Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon are sitting in a restaurant having a decidedly unsolitary dinner. Their conversation includes comments on how self-conscious all the other diners are. If these two rugged (and apparently hungry) individuals are so hell-bent on being solitary, then why do they even notice the other people in the room? I’m sure their fellow diners did not give Dagny and Henry a second thought.

(Note to self: Don’t tell Dagny and Henry. I mean, what is the good of being a solitary character if your efforts go unnoticed? To stand out in a crowd, one not only needs the crowd, but the crowd must acknowledge one’s solitariness)

Daily Prompt:Solitary