Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where'd You Come Up With That?! Wednesdays "Viral Smiles"

The short story "Viral Smiles" is about a young lady who reads an article about how contagious smiles can be, so she decides to put that theory to the test. The results of her experiment are not what she expects. Her entire day goes horribly wrong, which makes for a humorous read. 

I come up with this story after the big swine flu outbreak in 2009. I read how some people just seem to have immunity to certain viruses. My daughter is actually one of them. She is almost 21 years old and has been exposed to chicken pox several times during her childhood and never got them. So, it seems that there are always some people who just don't get certain viruses. 

This is what started my imagination stirring. Maybe smiles are contagious and maybe they're not. It all depends on the person you're trying to infect. And for pessimistic people, smiles don't seem to change their attitude at all. 

Here's an excerpt:

Smiles, according to an article I read entitle, Viral Smiles, smiling is supposed to be contagious. A smile sends out little contagions that attack a grouch and infect them with happiness and understanding, at least in theory, but I have to disagree after putting that theory to a test.
It all started on a beautiful Friday morning. The sun was glowing orange against a clear sky. The birds outside were singing and the tree limbs were waving as if inviting me to come out and enjoy the day. The view outside my window was lovely, until I saw Mr. Grammar, the neighborhood grouch. He always wore the same gray wool sweater over a white wife-beater shirt. And ironically, his nose hairs were the same dusty gray as his sweater. His scalp was dotted with age spots that dodged a white hair here and there, and I argued with him daily about his scruffy little poodle leaving presents in my yard. If I didn’t complain, he’d never pick up the dog’s pooh.
I decided to try infecting him with a lethal dose of viral smile. On my way out to the car, I checked to make sure my front door was locked securely before turning toward the steps. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mr. Grammar watching me. I walked down the steps to the driveway before I saw it. A tiny turd lay by my car. I waved at Mr. Grammar, “Hello, nice morning, isn’t it?” I proceeded to bend down, tissue in hand, and remove the brown squiggle without complaint.
The old grouch lumber up to me. “What are you going to do with that?”
I stretched my lips back into a cheerful smile. “I’m going to throw it right over there in the trashcans.”
“You don’t fool me, Miss. You’re up to something.” He snatched the little poop from my hand. “Give me that.” As he walked away he mumbled, “I know a mischievous smile when I see one, that girl’s up to something.”
 I stood stunned for a moment before getting into the car. On the drive to work the more I thought about his behavior, the angrier I got. What did he think I was going to do with dog feces?  Does he own the poodle that secretes golden turds?  I was fuming by the time I got to work, but I decided to take a few deep breaths and enjoy the rest of the day.

"Viral Smiles" was first published in The Other Herald in the April 2011 Volume 5, Issue 2. 

You can read in now in Flashes of Fiction: Volume 1.  

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Classic Movie Mondays--Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

Where do I start with Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? First, it stars Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and George Segal (from the sitcom Just Shoot Me!).

The first thing I noticed was that Elizabeth Taylor didn't look like her usual glamorous self in this picture. And second, she does a great impression of Bette Davis at the beginning of the film. I loved it!  Here are clips of Taylor's parody and the actual clip of Davis from Beyond the Forest courtesy of  YouTube.

So, what's it about. Well if you haven't seen it, an older couple, George and Martha, invite a young couple over  early one Saturday morning after a party. And let's just say things get weird. While I was watching I keep thinking if I was invited to their house, I would have come up with an excuse to leave. But later I found out that the younger couple, Nick and Honey, are pretty darn crazy, too.

Images courtesy of
In my opinion, it's a really strange movie, but as the secrets of both couples slowly start to leak out,  I couldn't stop watching it. The bickering between them all and strange behavior kept me hooked. And in some ways I felt sorry for all them at some point, especially for George and Martha when I learned that their son was not real. They were so desperate to have a son that they made him up. 

I know the title has some significance to the play that become a movie, but the real hook is watching the train wreck of lives taking place on the screen.

Elizabeth Taylor was very good in the movie and it was interesting. There were also some funny parts, but I don't think it's one I'd watch again. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Classic Movie Monday--Tomorrow Is Forever

Tomorrow Is Forever stars Orson Wells, Claudette Colbert, and George Bent. The movie is about a married couple, Elizabeth McDonald (Colbert) and her husband John (Wells) who are separated when the husband goes off to war. But he promises her he won't be in combat and he'll return. 

Before John's expected return, Elizabeth receives a telegram that John has been killed. He hasn't. He's in an Austrian hospital begging the doctors to let him die, but the doctor refuses. John lives, but he is disfigured and disabled. No one knows he is, so he sort of adopts another identity. I think injuries cause him to lose his mind in a way and his memories.

Actor George Bent plays Larry Hamilton, a guy who has loved Elizabeth from afar. After John dies, Larry takes Elizabeth in and cares of her and her unborn child. After the child is born, they marry. And even though the child (Drew) is John's, Larry raises him as his own. 

Cut to 20 years in the future, John aka Erich Kessler returns to work for Larry as a chemist.He has a young girl with him. He is caring for because her parents were killed by the Nazis.  The story really picks up when John is invited to Larry's home and he sees Elizabeth. 

Okay, it's at this point that you can tell that John recognizes and remembers Elizabeth, but she doesn't seem to react to John.  This is where I'm sitting on the coach saying, "Don't you recognize your own husband!" I know it's 20 years and she thinks he's dead, but I would think you'd at least think, "Hey, this guy looks  a lot like my dead husband."

Elizabeth does finally start to realize who he is, but not before he makes several visits to her home and meets his son. 

During the movie, John does remember things, like their old home, Elizabeth and you can tell he knows that Drew is his son. 

But there is a conflict between Elizabeth and John because Drew wants to join the fight in WW II against the Nazis. John seems to encourage it while Elizabeth doesn't want to lose another loved one to war. Drew even tries to sneak away and enlist, but John goes after him and brings him back home. 

Photo courtesy of
My favorite part of the movie is when John brings Drew home to Elizabeth. Then is when she confronts John about his identity. He won't admit to being the man she once loved, but he does tell her that even if he was, they can't go back to what once was. She has to let go of the past. What she has now is good and she shouldn't ruin it by chasing what one was or what might have been. 

I get the feeling that it is difficult for John to remain silent about his true identity, but he does it because it's what's best for Elizabeth and Drew. 

I think that scene could have been a good ending to the movie, but it doesn't end there. Maybe because it might have left some unanswered questions. 

John's death at the end did bring closure, and we did see the note that proved he knew who he was, but it was a tear jerker for sure.

Overall, it is a good move, and one I'd watch again.