Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Angel of Death

My son was visited by the Angel of Death last week.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that Rick Daley can be funny sometimes, and right now he's grasping at straws for material. That may be the case, but it doesn't negate the truth of the statement. My seven-year-old son was visited by the Angel of Death last week. Luckily he marked his door with lamb's blood so he survived the incident.

The AoD visited him at Bible school. Now regular followers of this blog may ask, "What the hell was your son doing at Bible school? Aren't you the one who's writing a blasphemous novel about God coming down to earth and hiring a consultant to help Him figure out how to destroy the world?"

In regard to the latter part of your question, yes, but I consider it funny, not blasphemous. My God has a great sense of humor and appreciates my efforts. But as to the first part, I am not opposed to my children being exposed to different religions and cultures. They need to learn about them at some point. However, the specifics of the subject matter can sometimes be called into question.

After he got back from Bible school last Wednesday, he told us that he didn't like it. We asked what he didn't like.

"Well, at first they told us all about Jesus, and that was kind of interesting..." He started, but we could tell he was holding back.

"What else did you do?"

"We had to go into this room where there were all these houses. And we had to paint marks on the doors with lamb's blood and go inside. Then there were loud noises outside, they said it was the Angel of Death. As along as we painted our doors with lamb's blood we would be alright, but if we didn't then we would die."

"Wow," I said, and I meant every word.

"That was just weird," he confided.

I couldn't agree more.

He didn't want to go back and we didn't make him. For all I know he missed out on a re-enactment of the time David had to kill 100 Philistines AND collect their foreskins for Saul. Or the time Lot's two daughters got him drunk and had sex with him. Yep, some parts of the Bible aren't written for children.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fate or Free Will?

Do you believe in fate, or free will? Is it possible to live a life governed by both?

Imagine this scenario. A reincarnating soul, preparing to begin its next life, has a clarity of thought and vision our limited senses cannot fathom. The soul is able to choose the course its life will take, like the expert marksman who knows where his bullet will hit before he squeezes the trigger.

When the soul pulls the trigger, it begins a life it chose for itself. But once it is born, the trajectory cannot be altered. Fate, chosen of one's own free will.

I like this thought. It gives a sense of ownership over one's past and future without having to write off tragedy to the incomprehensible mind of a deity.

Why, then, would anyone choose to suffer in life? Well, if the choice to suffer is made by a soul between stages of reincarnation, a soul who knows that each life is temporary, a soul that has lived many lives and is ready for a new experience, then suffering starts to make more sense. It is not a lesson taught by God, it is a lesson taught by ourselves.

To me, God is bigger than a single life. God is the universe in its entirety, "all that is seen and unseen." There is nothing that is not part of God; indeed, "nothing" itself is also part of God.

So if you look at yourself, you are made up entirely of God. You are 100% God, as am I. The earth, the sun, the distant quasar...everything has equal divinity: 100%.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When you gotta go...

I was in Chicago this week for a quarterly sales meeting. Wednesday's agenda started at 8:30am, went straight through the working lunch, and was scheduled to go until 5pm with no breaks.

At one stage, one of our salespeople quietly got up and left the room. He came back a few minutes later. "Sorry, I couldn't hang on any longer," he informed us.

"That's TMI," someone said.

"No," I corrected. "It was TMP."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time Management

I've been doing my best to manage the split between work, family, and writing. I think I'm making progress. This is the routine:

- Wake up really early, between 5am and 6am. This morning I woke up around 5:30 but stayed in bed until my alarm went off at 6am because I knew that coffee wouldn't be ready. I'm stubborn that way. I am not a morning person unless I force myself.

- Hit the computer. Check email and the weather while sipping coffee and letting my eyes adjust to the light. This is the Danger Zone of Potential Distraction, and sometimes I forego it and leap right into my manuscript for FATE'S GUARDIAN.

- Write until 8am, refilling coffee cup frequently. The IV drip is still on backorder.

- I work from home, so when eight o'clock rolls around I save my work and rotate my chair ninety degrees counter-clockwise and hit the other laptop.

- Work all day. Run or exercise around lunchtime, shower, eat and get back to work.

- After work, spend time with the family and get dinner ready. I worked in restaurants for many years so I'm the resident chef.

- Tell the kids to get their pajamas on seven thousand times. If the tub is also involved, then the count doubles. My firstborn is a better listener and usually complies after the initial request, but my other son (who turned five yesterday!) needs the extra goading.

- Talk to my wife, sip wine, and work on the manuscript for EARTH'S END. Thankfully TV season is in a lull (LOST, DEXTER, and AMERICAN IDOL are the primary distractions; WEEDS is losing my interest, it's water-skiing toward the shark but hasn't officially jumped it yet).

- Go to bed.

- Rinse and repeat.

This morning I hit 20,000 words in my re-write of FATE'S GUARDIAN. My goal is 80,000, so I'm a quarter of the way through. I really like this version of it. As I read back and reflect on the prior drafts, I think it's amazing how much I have grown as a writer.

I swear to you I will find success if it doesn't find me first.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Chilling Thought

Short post, not much time. We're about to leave for Dayton to see the air show. The Thunderbirds will be flying, as well as a stealth bomber, Apache helicopters, and other things that, until I know the names of them, will be formally considered UFO's.

The issue: right now it's 59 degrees outside. It's freaking July!!!! Our high isn't even going to reach 70. WTF?

If you happen to run see Mother Nature today, please tell her she is a whore.

That's all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tongue Twister

Try to say this out loud as fast as you can:

A skunk sat on a stump. The stump thought the skunk stunk, the skunk thought the stump stunk. Who stunk, the skunk or the stump?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Earth's End- Post 5

(You really need to start at the beginning. Click here to get there. Or click here to revisit Post 4)

God stepped off the subway and onto the platform. It reminded him of hell, it just smelled worse. He worked his way through the crowd, careful not to get any muck on his suit.
He went up the stairs and onto the streets of Manhattan. As He walked toward Central Park He noticed His reflection in a window. He admired himself in his fine gray suit, custom fitted and made from a material He just created. It resembled silk, but it was softer and stronger. Too bad the world would be gone before everyone had the chance to admire the genius of His latest creation.

The exhaust from a bus tried to muss his white hair but failed. God smiled, fascinated by the prefect form of his mustache and beard as his cheeks reached their peak.

Damn I look good, He thought. I am who AM!

God was going to go straight to the park and meet Joshua, but He passed a pizzeria and couldn’t resist going in for a couple slices and a beer. If the Earth was to be destroyed soon - and it was, He knew that because He was the destroyer - He thought it wise to take in one last gulp of all it had to offer.

The pizza was like manna from Heaven. Its crust was crisp, and the fluorescent lights made shiny rainbows appear in the grease on top of the pepperoni. For his second bite he sprinkled on some crushed red pepper and chewed slowly, letting the heat spread evenly across his tongue. Then he bit his tongue. Hard.

No one knows the mind of God but God. Whether or not he bit his tongue on purpose will remain forever a mystery. What is undisputed is that in his frustration from feeling the extra burn of pepper on his newly chewed tongue, God smote a bus full of nuns in Peru. Lightning hit the bus and it exploded as it tumbled down the mountainside. God loved a good explosion.

The nuns died instantly and were transported to heaven. God may have lost his temper and hurled brimstone once or twice when it really wasn’t called for, but at least those unfortunate victims got a free pass to Heaven.

He finished His pizza and beer and went back out toward the park. He saw Joshua with his shirt off, washing his armpits in a drinking fountain.

“You missed a spot,” He said.

Joshua didn’t look up. He just kept washing.

“You need some soap.”

Joshua stopped and gripped the basin at its sides, arms shaking. “You come down here in a suit, with money for food and drink, looking respectable, but You send me here like this?”

“Quite an experience, isn’t it?” God smiled.

“Not really, no. Want to trade places and see for Yourself?”

“Ha ha! No, that’s not necessary. I already know what it’s like. I’m God, remember? Whatever you know, I knew beforehand. That’s how you can know it in the first place.”

“Thanks for the reminder. Can You answer one question for me?”

“I can answer any question for anybody. Do you mean will I answer one question for you?”

“When are You going to pull the trigger?”

“Three-hundred and sixty-four days from today.”

“Earth Days or Creation Days?”

“That’s two questions.” God held two fingers up to illustrate his point.

“Humor me.”

“Earth Days.”

"How are you going to do it?”

“To be honest with you, I still don’t know. Got any ideas?”

“No, but I know someone who might.”

God sat down on the bench and Joshua finished washing his torso and face.

“Aren’t you going to tell me?” God asked.

“What about ‘whatever you know, I knew beforehand’?” Joshua said as he put his shirt back on.

“I can make your situation worse, you know.”

“Whatever,” Joshua scoffed. Then he went blind. “OK, you got me. His name is Greg Simon.
He’s a consultant. I read his mind this morning and he had some interesting ideas for a client, I think he may be able to help you brainstorm. Now give me my sight back.”

The world remained dark.

“Please,” he added.

Joshua’s vision returned. “Why did you do that? Do you have any idea what it’s like to be blind?”

God just stared at him.

“Oh yeah. ‘Whatever I know’…I get it.”

“Let’s go meet your friend Peter.”

"Greg, not Peter. Greg Simon.”

“Oh, right. Don’t know what I was thinking.”

“No, you just know what everyone else is thinking.”

“That’s odd, isn’t it? As self-absorbed as I am, you would think me to be completely narcissistic. Go figure.”

They started walking toward mid-town. “I went to Hell this morning. You’ll never guess who I saw there.”

Joshua raised his eyebrows. “Um, let me guess. Moses?”

“How did you know?” God asked.

“Who do you think told him how to get in?”

“You’ve been going down there, too? Son of a bitch.”

“My mother is not-"

“It’s a euphemism, God-damnit.”

“Stop taking your name in vain. It’s one of your commandments; you’re setting a bad example.”

“I’m God, I can take my own name in vain if I want to. And don’t change the subject. When did you start sneaking into Hell?”

“During the Dark Ages. You and Satan were battling over the souls of plague victims, so neither of you noticed. Finding the way in was easy. Getting back out was the tricky part.”

“So what did you do down there?”

“I did that which was denied to me in the life I sacrificed for all the world.”

“And that is…”

“I sinned. Like you wouldn’t believe. It doesn’t matter if you sin once you’re already in hell, you know.”

“Who told you that?”

“Who needed to? It’s simple logic. You sin, you go to Hell. Once in Hell, you cannot get out. Therefore, if you sin after going to hell there is no longer a negative consequence for the action, so the point is moot. Hell’s entire existence is just a sin-avoidance policy between You and humanity. And sinning is just a heaven-avoidance policy between You and Satan.”

God scratched His head. He hated loopholes. “You know, sinning isn’t the only way to get into Hell. Satan is a good salesman, and his uses the direct approach quite often. In fact, he has 490 million active contracts with humanity as we speak. They go void when I end the world. As you can probably guess, he’s pretty pissed at me right now.”

“When has he not been?”

“Point taken. Nevertheless, we can expect Satan to try to kill as many people as he can over the next year.”

“How do you think he’ll do it?”

“By mistake,” God smiled. “Like he always does.”

“Does it matter how many people he kills? Everyone’s going to die anyway. Why do you want to save the souls that are pledged to Satan all of a sudden? You never cared about them before.”

“It’s kind of a professional courtesy. I owe it to humanity to let them know I’m pulling the plug. I always had someone try to warn them before. But they never listen.”

“Tell me about it.”

“You’ll do better this time than any prophet that has come before you. Don’t worry.”

“God tells me ‘don’t worry’? Why does that worry me most…”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Farewell to the King

Today is the memorial service for Michael Jackson. The King of Pop passed away on June 25 (in case you haven't heard) and will soon be interred, although the embalming process actually began in late 1988.

Jackson's career began as a child, where he upstaged all of his siblings in a vain attempt to escape his father's physical and mental abuse. With young Michael at the mike (of course the pun is intended, what a silly question) the Jackson 5 exploded onto the charts. Their talent was immense. So great, in fact, that I will forgive them from enabling follow-up child acts such as Hanson, The Jonas Brothers, New Kids on the Block, and all the other lame kid-bands that have had unfortunate influence over the nation's youth.

Jackson's success carried on to his young adult years, where he shattered numerous records with the release of "Thriller" and, among other things, he inspired yours truly to learn to moonwalk - a talent I retain to this very day.

Jackson's success helped him tear down racial barriers on MTV, and his string of music videos continued his path of wanton destruction of records (the Guinness kind, as opposed to the musical kind) as he solicited top filmmakers to the director's chair and drew millions of new viewers to the fledgling music video network to watch Beat It, Billie Jean, and that other one about the zombies, I forget the name. (NOTE TO YOUNGER READERS: The MTV network once played music videos. Really, they did!).

His collaborative efforts fused his genius with other artists, ranging from Eddie Van Halen's guitar work on "Beat it", to Paul McCartney's song about the dog-gone girl that was his, his, his. Michael's music gave us such hits as Eat It and Fat. Weird Al owes Jackson his career; without the aforementioned parodies, he would still be playing an accordion version of "My Bologna" on the Dr. Dimento show.

Jackson's new-found fame and fortune was not without its drawbacks, as he pretty much went insane in the decades that followed. But the depths of his madness will never overshadow his genius. He was a gifted singer, dancer, and songwriter, and it is clear that the world will always carry his tune.

May he rest now in the peace that avoided him in his latter years.

And may the TV networks eventually revert back to their regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Easy Listening Part II

Download Rick Daley - Just Jammin' Groove

You should be able to click the above link to access the audio...