Christmas Songs That Should Be Banned.

First of all, we need to stop calling them “Christmas” songs. Despite being about the Christmas, it ignores the other yearend celebrations and shows bias toward this blatantly Christian holiday. I suggest  “Popular Non-Religious,” “Holiday,” or “Winter Solstice” songs. To my knowledge, nobody has any objections to “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem (unless it has to do with contested borders or population counts in zero BC and what constitutes a “little town” … ie does that make it a “village?”)

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WDOK radio in Ohio, USA, started this debate by deciding to pull “Baby it’s Cold Outside” from its playlist because a listener was offended by the lyric “say, what’s in this drink?” It could be nutmeg, but we should assume it is some type of drug, especially in the version where a woman is singing to a man.

Another writer, I’m not sure of the source, has begun a list of other songs of the season that should also be banned from the airways or if not, whenever you hear them you should put a finger in each ear and very loudly say “na na na na na na na” until the tune is over.

Here is what he/she suggested (with some editing by me) of which songs should be banned and why…

1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Exposes a young child to adultery and PDA
2. The Christmas Song: “Folks dressed up like Eskimos?” Stereotyping Native Americans and making fun of their traditional clothing.
3. Holly Jolly Christmas: “Kiss her once for me?” Promotes unwanted advances
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town: “Sees you when you’re sleeping? Knows when you’re awake?” The entire song encourages becoming a peeping tom and a stalker
5. Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Demands you “be of good cheer.” What about my right to be depressed during the holidays?
6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Another sad tale of bullying in school with no punishment for the offenders.
7. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: Forced gender-specific gifts: dolls for Janice and Jen and boots and pistols for Barney and Ben. Why should Janice be denied an uzi for home defense if she really wants one?
8. Santa Baby: Paints a sexist picture of a woman as a gold digger and “Come and trim my Christmas tree” lyric…we all know what she is really suggesting.
9. Frosty the Snowman: Sexist…should be Frosty the “Snowperson.”
10. Do You Hear What I Hear?: totally ignores the deaf community
11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: “Make the yuletide gay?” Just because this time of year we like to dress up, decorate, and host fabulous parties…there is no need for labels…and they repeat it several times.
12. Jingle Bell Rock: “Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet Jingle around the clock” Animal abuse!!!…forcing this poor horse to run for 24 hours without rest or food and in winter, yet. “Rocking around the Chrismas Tree?” Very dangerous and gets the kids all riled up when they are already too excited.
13. Winter Wonderland: Parson Brown asking if they are married…what business is it of his?  Invasion of your personal space. And “We’ll have lots of fun with mister snowman until the other kids knock him down.” Vandalism!

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Maybe if we changed the lyrics of these songs to more politically correct verbiage they would be more acceptable (and many more…probably all of them… need to be rewritten to the new standards).

Or we could just stop listening to popular Christmas songs and turn to Gregorian chants in Latin so we can’t understand the lyrics.

Or we could stop whining, evaluating, and assuming every word is sinister and just enjoy the music as we sit by the open fire (hopefully in a safe firepit on a non-windy day), roasting our chestnuts (is that dirty?), and toasting the new year (which has to be better than 2018) while enjoying our Hanukkah bush, Kwanzaa candles, and Christmas wreath, after donning our gay apparel (blame Deck the Halls).

In closing, Happy Holidays, May the Force Be With You, and finally, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Writing a Novel

quill (2)You have to be crazy to write a novel…and I’ve done it twice, so I should know. So why did I decide to start a new series of mystery books after fifteen frustrating years with the first two — writing, proofing, re-writing, proofing, looking for an agent/publisher, proofing, giving up on finding an agent/publisher, and agonizing over the need for never ending promotion? (Assuming you want somebody to read what you wrote).

The flip answer might be I write because I’m lousy at tap dancing, but the real answer is I like to tell stories.

I’ve been making up scenes and characters for as long as I remember, as well as reading books since I got my first library card at eight years old. I like to make people laugh too, so no matter how serious the story, you will find a lot of humor sprinkled into the action.

Example from Identity Check:  “Okay,” she said, “It’s your turn. Strip for me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Don’t tell me you’re shy. I could put on some music and whistle loudly.”

“To be fair, I never got to see your act,” he said, throwing the clothes in his arms onto a nearby chair, “just the remnants.”

“All right, I’ll let you look, but only a peek. Normal men have been known to lose their sight at such a vision.”

“Have you been flashing down at the blind school again? That’s just mean-spirited.”

“For that cruel comment, you’ve forfeited your shot at a piece of heaven.”

“Okay, I’m taking off my clothes, but, I don’t want to hear any crude remarks from you.”

“Me? Never. Whoa–somebody let the stallion out of the barn.”

“That’s it. I’m turning off the lights.”

My new fictional YA series features a private investigator, nicknamed “Tracker,” that uses his Native American skills to solve mysteries (aided by his teenage nephew). I’m about 25,000 words into the first book about a murder that happens in Crater Lake National Park…and the suspected killer is Sasquatch!

People ask me, “How do you get your story ideas?” My first novel, “Drafted,” drew heavily on my personal experience of being drafted into the US Army during Vietnam…an adventure filled with terror and humor.

I can’t wait to see how it all gets resolved. I don’t do an outline when I write, although I have a vague idea of the direction the story is headed. My technique is to create characters, put them into a situation, and see how they handle it. I’m also big on action and stingy on description. I hate writers that spend three pages describing the wallpaper (unless it is smeared with blood).

Well, back to the computer…another 75,000 words to go…maybe I’ll write a few pages describing the wallpaper.

Menehune Twins – “Day at the Beach”

 

I’ve never done this before, my friends (no, not that), but I need your help/opinion. I have drafted a children’s story to be read by parents to kids age 6 and under as a fun, exotic adventure to amuse the little ankle bitters and maybe share interesting facts and stories about a mix between an ancient Hawaiian legend and a Road Runner cartoon. I would compare this story to the popular children’s book, “But, No Elephants” (although I have been delusional before). I have no one to illustrate the story yet, so fill in with your imagination.

What I need from you is an honest opinion (You are my writers’ feedback group):

  1. Is it an interesting story kids would enjoy hearing?
  2. Does it in any way insult, denigrate, or appear offensive to the Hawaiian people or their culture?

Okay, enough setup here’s the story…

The Menehune Twins

“Day at the Beach”

by Rich Allan

Jake Menehune woke early, leaned over from his top bunk, and yelled at his six-year-old twin sister, Jessie. “Wake up sleepy head. It’s Saturday morning.”

“I’m already awake, goofball,” she said, standing on her bed, pushing up with both hands, launching her brother’s tiny body in a high arc where he bounced off the ceiling, landed on the overhead fan, swung around until he got dizzy, laughing like crazy, shouting “Whee-e-e!” before falling to the floor.

He stood up, shook his head and checked over his body. “Head okay, arms okay, fingers okay, chest okay, legs okay, feet okay, toes okay…” He looked over his shoulder and said, “Uh-Oh, no-o-o-o butt.”

Jessie Menehune giggled as she watched Jake hold his nose, stick his thumb in his mouth, and blow hard enough until his flattened butt popped out to its normal bubble shape.

The twins, shoulder to shoulder, rushed the three-foot round opening to their room, barely squeezing through at the same time. They then raced out to the water-filled Kikiaola ditch in front of their home and in perfect sync, leaped into the air and splashed down in matching cannonballs. Dunking their head and body in the cool water, they rinsed off, climbed out and shook off the excess water like a dog who has just finished a bath.

Mother Kiana called from the kitchen, “Breakfast!”

Arriving at the table, Father Kane sat in front of a stalk of apple bananas. “Dig in, kids!” he said. Jake and Jessie climbed up into their chairs and started stuffing the bananas into their mouths…skin and all! Mother Kiana smiled, sat down and joined in the feast.

Some important information about the Menehune…who are a bit different than you and me. They are little people, only three feet tall when fully grown, living in the Hawaiian Islands, mainly on the island of Kauai. They are busy, happy people, building dams, ditches, fish ponds and stone temples.

Not only are Menehune small and magical, they are good at hiding, living in out of the way places and rarely seen by full-sized folks. They love to dance, sing, cliff-dive and shoot their little bows and arrows. Some say one arrow can change an angry man’s heart to love.

Oh, they are full of mischief, especially with the other islanders, like moving things around when people aren’t looking and trading lava rocks for necessities.

The Menehune wear only a loin cloth, although some of the older folks have flip-flops. On special occasions, the women put on colorful feathered Hawaiian headbands and the men may grow mustaches or beards. They cover up when they sleep with their thick, black, waist-long, curly hair or when the trade winds turn chilly.

Nobody knows how long the Menehune live, but the twins’ grandfather, Kamaka, recently celebrated his 200th birthday. As the Menehune grow older they tend to grow a pot belly, their hair turns gray and is reduced to a strip on the crown of their heads and fringe over each ear.

Now back to our story…

After they finished off all the bananas, Mother Kiana said, “Today, we are going to the beach.”

“Right,” said Father Kane, “…and we are stopping by the fish pond on the way back to gather more food before the winter monsoons.”

“Can we go cliff diving, father?” asked Jake Menehune.

“And swim in the ocean?” said Jessie Menehune.

“Yes,” said Mother Kiana, “but only if the waves aren’t too big or the cliff too high.”

“YAY!!” The twins shouted.

(Remember,  Jake and Jessie are only 18 inches tall, so what seems like a small ocean ripple is a giant wave to them and jumping off a five-foot pile of rocks would be so scary!)

The Kane and Kiana Menehune family live on Kauai with twelve other extended Menehune families deep in the forest near Nawiliwili Harbor and the Alekoko fish pond. Because they are so small, today’s trip to the beach will take them a long time, even though it isn’t that far.

When they reached the shore, Jake and Jessie were tired but excited. The waves appeared mild, so with Mother’s approval, Jessie threw off her loin cloth, ran across the sand, and plunged into the ocean, with brother Jake close behind.

Mother and Father watched as the twins body surfed and paddled about in the blue water inside the protected reef.

When Jake first spotted ‘Opelu Mama or what most Hawaiians call The Great Barracuda, he shouted “Kaku” to his sister. They immediately started swimming as fast as they could toward the shore with the silver submarine-shaped fish with two rows of razor sharp teeth close behind.

“Swim, kids, swim!” yelled Father.

“Snap,” the barracuda bit down. “Snap” the barracuda stuck a second time.

The twins flew out of the surf, big grins on their faces, landing with a thud on the sand. They looked at each other, shook off the sea water, and in unison said, “Let’s do it again!” followed by “Head okay, arms okay, fingers okay, chest okay, legs okay, feet okay, toes okay…” Looking behind, they smiled…”Uh-Oh, no-o-o-o butt.”

Jake and Jessie giggled as they held their nose, put their thumb in their mouth, and blew hard enough until magically their bit off butt resumed its normal shape.

Kane and Kiana Menehune chuckled and Mother said, “Well that’s enough fun at the beach for one day, let’s go to the fish pond.”

Arriving, Father Kane said with some pride, “Legend has it our ancestors overnight built the Alekoko fish pond over 1000 years ago by passing stones hand-by-hand from the village of Makaweli, 25 miles away, and damming up the Hulei’a Stream with a 900-foot long by five-feet high lava rock wall, so the Menehune people would never go hungry.”

Father then pulled a lasso from his pocket and looking deep into the clear water spied a thirty-inch Ono just below the surface. Carefully dropping the loop down, he slipped it over the fish’s head until the strong fiber caught on the top dorsal fin, and then Kane jumped on the back of the Ono and pulled the loop tight.

“Ride ’em, Daddy,” said Jake, as the startled fish took off at full speed. The Kane Menehune family cheered him on as he tightened the loop to keep the Ono from doing a deep dive. The fight between Father and fish went on for so long, the twins got bored and asked if they could do at least one jump while they waited and Mother agreed.

Jake and Jessie climbed the nearby giant pile of rocks and stared down at the pond far below. Father was still racing back and forth across the five-acre pond, but the Ono appeared to be tiring.

“Ready?” Jake asked his sister.

“Ready,” said Jessie.

The twins joined hands and leaped off the rocks aiming for the pond. Unfortunately, they lost their grip with Jake reaching the water, but Jessie falling short, bouncing across the stone rocks until she finally skidded to a halt.

Jake watched as Jessie got up, shook herself off and announced, “Head okay, arms okay, fingers okay, chest okay, legs okay, feet okay, toes okay…but, Uh-Oh, no-o-o-o butt.” She grinned, held her nose, blew hard on her thumb and returned to her normal self.

Meanwhile, Kane Menehune was making one final run across the fish pond aiming for the stone wall, waiting until the very last moment to pull up hard on the lasso, causing the fish to clear the edge and flop onto the bank.

The family joined together to lift the large fish onto a skateboard, a useful tool the Menehune village had acquired for this very purpose from nearby Lihue by trading lava rocks for it (at night and unseen, of course).

Once loaded, the family rolled their Father’s catch all the way back home, safely arriving as the sun set with enough food to last them through the winter.

The twins, Jake and Jessie, exhausted, fell asleep in their daddy’s arms, as Father Kane Menehune carried them to their room and tucked them into bed, the day’s adventure complete.

–The End–

Looking forward to your slings and arrows….Rich Allan

My First Ride-Share

Most of you by now are familiar with the new “civilian” ride sharing services across the country, where average guys or gals come pick you up and drive you to your destination in their own personal car. The cost is less than a traditional taxi and is negotiated up front. Friends tell me they have been chauffeured in some very classy cars like BMW and Mercedes. This concept, however, goes against everything our mothers ever told us, “Never get in a car with a stranger.”

Nevertheless, the last time I had to schlep down to LAX, I called a new cut-rate ride service. In anticipation, I waited at the curb in front of my abode. Right on time, an unmarked white van pulled up. The muscular driver rolled down the passenger window and called out, “Get in the back.”

I hesitated when the side door slid open and a second man said, “if you come voluntarily, I won’t have to put on the blindfold.”

I replied, “I think I’ve changed my mind.”

The second man, the one wearing a ski mask, said, “I’ve got candy,”

I couldn’t help but notice as I climbed in and the door slammed shut that there was no window or door handle next to my seat. I tried to ignore my predicament while I unwrapped my chocolates as we sped away.

The driver barked out, “You are a rich American, yes?”

“No,” I replied, licking the candy wrappers. “In fact, I’m barely existing on social security.”

The van stopped so suddenly I almost got brained with an Uzi flying past me from the very back. The two men started arguing in a foreign language and slapping each other around. The argument stopped almost as suddenly as it started, and the driver once again headed the van down the road.

“Would you like some music,” the driver asked, turning on some high-pitched warbling. “Now, where did you wish to go?” He smiled at me in a creepy more than friendly way.

I replied, “How about the nearest police station.”

Minutes later I found myself on a street corner watching the van speed away after tossing out my luggage. My first ride-share experience now nothing but a bad memory.

Next time, I vowed, I would take the bus unless Sandra Bullock is driving.

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “DRAFTED,” and the soon to be published suspense thriller, “IDENTITY CHECK.”

New Watch for Seniors

watchI always wanted to be an inventor. Finally I have come up with an idea that is bound to make me a fortune.

As you get older and eventually retire, most folks develop what I call “Some-timer’s Disease,” a common ailment where “some times” you remember, and “some times” you forget. Could be a birthday, an anniversary, or to put on your pants before you walk outside for the newspaper…you know, stuff like that.

So, wouldn’t it be handy to have a gadget to remind you of all those things?

I know you can program your cell phone for reminders–but not every senior carries a smart phone or any cell phone for that matter. But they do wear a watch. And as you get older, you have less and less need for the second hand, the minute hand, the hour hand, or to know what time it is in Bangkok (well, maybe the second hand to track how long it’s been since your heart stopped).

But the day and the date are more important than ever.  You could have a short message appear: Monday: Take trash to the curb/nap; Tuesday: Take your heart pill/nap; Wednesday: Go to the grocery/nap; Thursday: Poker night!; Friday: Go to the mailbox for a week’s worth of ads and throw them away/really long nap; Saturday: pay the neighbor kid to mow the lawn/nap; and Sunday: Go to church and lay the groundwork for a successful entry into heaven/cut coupons out of the newspaper.

You would only have to enter the important dates once (if you can find where you originally wrote them down); such as birthdays, holidays, anniversaries & mahjong tournaments. Special occasions could be marked in flashing red, like Social Security check deposited every 10th of the month, or “HAVE SEX” FEB. 29th!!!

So, what do you think? Is this a great idea, or what? Any suggestions on where I could get funding and find the technical expertise to develop this watch?

Excuse me? Apple has already created such a watch? A mini-computer on your wrist? Makes video phone calls like Dick Tracy? It monitors your heartbeat too? Only a couple hundred dollars?

Oh well, back to writing it down, and sticking the note in my pants. That should work, unless, of course, I forget to put them on.

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of “Drafted,” a comic/adventure novel, and the upcoming “Identity Check.”  richallan-300dpi-3125x4167 - Copy

Congratulations, You’ve Won a Million Dollars!!

cell phonesEvery time I answer the phone, it’s an adventure. Who will it be on the other end?  The solar people are regular callers, as well as the contractors who just happen to be in my neighborhood this week, or the professional fundraisers who kindly ask for me by name and wonder if a $100 donation to save pygmy anteaters would fit my budget. Sure every once & awhile a friend calls, or a receptionist confirming an appointment, but those are rare.

My favorite calls are from strangers telling me I’ve won something; a three-day Bahama cruise, a hundred-dollar gift card, a free wireless alarm system, a lawsuit from the IRS, and so forth. But recently I hit the jackpot, when a couple of good old boys rang me up and announced, “Congratulations, you have won $1,000,000!!” Here’s the way the conversation went:

Me: Hello?

Them: (in unison, almost a scream) Congratulations, you have won $1,000,000!!

Me: This must be a mistake, somebody called yesterday and told me I just won a million dollars.

Them:  (silence, then rattling of a call list)  ah…ahem…wait a minute…

Me:  Nah, fellas, I’m only kidding. You’re the first. Will it be cash or check?

Them: (a little rattled)  Aren’t you just thrilled to win?

Me: Overjoyed. Yahoo! Okay, what’s the pitch?

Them: Great. You have won an opportunity to get up to a 30-year million dollar home variable loan from the ABC Company at the unbelievable rate of 1%. What do you think about that?

Me: Wow, you are right. That is unbelievable.

Them: And what’s more, we don’t care about your poor credit rating, there is no paperwork to fill out, no closing costs, no pesky appraisals…we only require 1% fee to get this great deal, and then we send you the million.

Me: So I send you $10,000 and you send me $1,000,000, no strings?

Them: That’s right. We don’t even care if buy a home with this loan. We prefer a cashier’s check made out to Billy Bob Smith and mailed to P.O. Box 6969, Decatur, Georgia 67845.

Me: Why don’t you just deduct the 1% and send me a check for $990,000?

Them: (awkward silence)…uhh, no that’s against company policy.

Me: I kind of expected it would be. Are you calling me from a pickup truck by any chance?

Them: Damn it, Darrell, I told you to turn off the engine!

Me: Look, boys, this has been entertaining, but I have important things to do….like rotating the coasters on my coffee table.

Them: So you’re not going to send us the money?

Me: What do you think?

Them:  How about $5,000? $1,000 $50 bucks??

Me: You’re going to have to find your beer money some other way, because I’m turning your name, cell phone number, and P.O. box over to the police.

Them: (in unison) Damn!

Me: You all have a nice day now.

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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “Drafted” and the upcoming thriller, “Identity Check.”     richallan-300dpi-3125x4167 - Copy

 

Alms For An Ex-Leper?

Monty-Pythons-The-Life-of-Brian-The-ex-leperA writer is suppose to write every day, right? But I have to be motivated by a topic to feel it is worth my time and yours. Do you care about which cereal I ate for breakfast this morning…I don’t and I was there. At the same time, I need to write on this blog more often to develop my writing skills, and give you, the readers, something interesting to peruse when the boss isn’t watching, or you are tired of looking at clips of cats doing silly things.

With that in mind, I’m sharing the headline from today’s paper where the L.A. City Council has passed a resolution to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2020. Some 80,000 worker are impacted by this decision.

This is amazing to me on several levels. First, that the minimum wage is only $10 now. That barely buys you a happy meal, even with an employee discount. Secondly, that 2020 is only five years away. Who knew that I would live that long…the 21st century…era of Buck Rogers…and where the hell are all the flying cars. And finally, when I was earning minimum wage, back in the 60’s, they paid me a whooping $1.25 hour.

I know, inflation; the sixties were 50 years ago; new cars only cost $3,000; a cheeseburger at the golden arches was $.25, fries $.15, and the ketchup free.golden arches

But still…did I really work an eight-hour day and get paid only ten bucks…before deductions!  Was I insane or just didn’t know any better?  Some of my jobs were considered “fun” — like being a lifeguard or working as a DJ at a radio station, but seventy dollars for a seven-day week! …social security and medicare got more money a week than I did!

Back to our minimum wages in 2015…$400 bucks for a five-day week seems like a lot; but new cars cost $30,000; a hamburger at a west Hollywood restaurant runs $14 (with fries), although the ketchup is still free. These folks have to be thinking the same thing I did back in the 60s…am I insane? No wonder it is so hard to get people to drag themselves out of bed, face a hellish commute, and come home exhausted every night. Forget trying to save for retirement. money

So, Mr. Government Official, I say get these cheap corporations to pony up a decent wage that keeps up with inflation…don’t wait another five years to make this right.

As for me, I’ve picked out my corner, got a nice tin cup, a set of slightly soiled rags to wear, and a legible sign that reads, “Alms for an ex-leper.”

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Rich Allan is the author of the comedy/adventure “Drafted” now available on kindle at amazon.com, as well as the soon to be released thriller, “Identity Check.”