The Plastic Static



Damn. How did so much time get away from us?

It’s like one minute you are standing in the middle of a warehouse in the early nineties, high on cheap beer, brown weed, teenage freedom and rock and roll; next thing you know it’s a different century and a different world, and everyone is compartmentalized and plastic and isolated.

Yes, we are getting older. Some of us, not all of us survived.

And one has to wonder sometimes, who is the winner in this game? The ones who checked out early? The ones who missed so many years? Those of us left behind? To carry on, to trudge forth even as we see everyone and everything around us crumbling.

These days I’m not so sure.

I crawled out of a cave. I fell asleep sometime in the last century and woke up here. In a museum, in a cheap science fiction movie. Here, we are both the spectators and the spectacle.

This hallway is black. Not dark. Black. Light doesn’t dare traverse it’s expanse. There are glimpses of neon here and there, but it’s impossible to tell if they are real or hallucination. The absence of light makes the hallway feel immense, long, possibly unending. That’s another scary notion. Eternity. The thought that there may be no end to this.

And then we must ask ourselves again, which is worse? The eternal shuffling toward nothing, or the exit too early; the ones we have lost, who have fallen along the way. Are we sad they have gone? Or is it only us growing ever lonelier as they one by one depart?

I looked for you. I looked forward to reconnecting.

You wouldn’t recognize the place. Everything has changed since you left.

We’ve torn down nature and put up a plastic nature replica. It will last forever, and it doesn’t get messy like the real thing. We still aren’t sure if the birth defects are a direct result of the synthetic natural plastic alloy or merely a coincidence, but we aren’t letting it slow us down either way.

The streets are emptier too. You would get along a little better with less traffic, fewer distractions to fight for your attention. You see that’s where there was a bookshop. That used to be a record store. This was a Wags before it was a Perkins before it was a Bakers Square before it was the Sunshine Breakfast Club before it was finally abandoned and left to rot away.

This used to be the beach. Our beach. I wish I could say they left this one alone.

It almost feels the same, the yellow moon peeking down through slivers of cloud. That breeze that always hints of winter, even in August, always reminds you of how cold it could be.

As if it had any idea.

Nothing that lives or breaths or moves really knows anything of the true cold. The freezing. The motionless waiting, staring. Stuck in your tracks. So cold you can’t even feel it anymore.

It doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t recognize this anyway. It is not ours. This is no longer the world we knew.

This. You see this? This passes for sand. I know. It is cleaner. It doesn’t get in your shoes and stuck in every crevice. This is static. This is electronic noise, pixels, bits of information formed to resemble the granules we knew growing up but without all the mess.

Maybe that’s how they’ve done it. Maybe that’s how the rug was pulled out from under us. Maybe they filled up all the hourglasses with this synthetic sand. It bought them all the time in the world.

There was a point I was trying to make. There was something I wanted to say to you, but I seem to be only rambling. I’m sorry to waste your time. You would have laughed at that one. The idea of wasting time. Maybe you had it right all along, you and the Mad Hatter.

Maybe yours was the right move. Maybe I’m worse off for witnessing this. Maybe it is you who escaped and I who am trapped. Imprisoned in black iron, indeed the empire never ended.

Still, I thought there would be more time. I thought we would meet again. Even if it was out here in the fringes of reality. This crumbling pier hanging precariously over the edge, over nothing, a bottomless pit of black frozen emptiness.

©Robert Emmett McWhorter

Introducing the Stem-Cellphone. Sampling your DNA, it becomes any phone you like, or a unique, custom dream device. Also, you can use it to grow extra limbs and spare organs.


Introducing the Stem-Cellphone. Sampling your DNA, it becomes any phone you like,  or a unique, custom dream device. Also, you can use it to grow  extra limbs and spare organs.

Introducing the Stem-Cellphone. Sampling your DNA, it becomes any phone you like,
or a unique, custom dream device. Also, you can use it to grow
extra limbs and spare organs.

21 Dodge Ball Salute

21 Dodge Ball Salute

21 Dodge Ball Salute

Everyone waved goodbye as the gym teacher ran off, struck and tumbling, in a twenty-one dodge ball salute.

Install Your Own Flip Top Head™






One of my common themes, the Flip Top Head™, so you can take your brain out for a drag. This is part one of an extensive, easy to read guide to installing your own hinge and hasp and making the most out of the skull space by keep your mind externally.


The less it takes to make you happy, the happier you’ll be.REGRAPE

Johnson & Grandparents

New Story Now Featured at Eat, Sleep, Write!

A tale regaling the early hey-day, the golden age of Time Travel.

It’s tough to find a good time time-travel provider these days, someone reliable and affordable. The commercialization of the Time Line brought the usual lazy capitalists into the arena, companies that built their fortune by billing for weight and distance in years of the destination. All of known history was soon cluttered and muddled, and it is impossible anymore to discern how long this has been going on or exactly when it started.

Some will say it was a mistake for Abraham Lincoln to make such wide and lasting declarations, praising the temporal transportation industry. Some of the older citizens among us still swear they remember a version of the Gettysburg Address without many of the paragraphs about time travel. It’s no longer possible to prove one way or the other. Anyone with the latest version of LinearShop Pro can go back and redraw it for all of us to recall any way they choose.

Read the Full Story Now!

An Exercise to Get Out of Exercising


Today’s lesson in my writing group was posed like it was a way out for the day, ‘we will forego today’s challenge if you can write a thousand words, any topic. It’s easier than you think.’

At first I asked if we could submit a photo instead of a thousand words, since a picture is worth…

Ah, don’t make me finish the joke, you know where I was headed.

It’s been a few weeks since I made the pledge to write a thousand words a day everyday. I made it public in the writing group to keep myself accountable. I know I can get lazy if there’s no recourse or consequences. It’s not like anyone is going to scold me if I slack off, but I feel more obligated when my word depends on it.

The first few days were tough. I hadn’t written much in the past few years, nothing substantial anyway. Facebook comments and reddit arguments do not count. But really, that is the only writing I have done in a while, stumping and posting and cracking wise where I can. Most of the time when I make a comment or trade quips, I don’t pay much attention to the rules, my main concern is getting the idea typed out before it dissipates from my brain.

So, at first, it was a struggle to get a thousand words out of me. A lot of the words I would normally use were tucked in some dark corner for safe keeping. I would come to the middle of a sentence and freeze. I knew the word I wanted but couldn’t quite pry it from its hiding place in my brain.

I’ve always heard and often said that the brain itself is just another muscle. This experience has reinforced the notion. My brain was so out of shape, my head felt flabby. Not quite literally, but close, a thousand words left me winded, dehydrated and dizzy enough to fall on my ass if someone looked at me wrong.

The puzzle pieces of sentence structure confused me, I sat in front of the screen looking at all the words I’ve gathered but I can’t make them sit in any order that seems to make sense.

My typing as well had suffered, I still typed proficiently, but I couldn’t get that nice galloping pace we sometimes get when the ideas seem to be directly attached to my fingertips and fall down onto the page as quick as I can think them. It also meant my fingers quite often stabbed at the wrong letters, I would get stuck in a loop, typing the wrong letter and deleting it, sometimes multiple times as my finger kept poking the wrong key.

My mind is clearing up though I still struggle to grasp at vocabulary. Grammar and structure don’t seem the impenetrable secrets they had been two weeks ago. Even my typing has improved, accuracy and speed. Sometimes I get into the groove and hypnotize myself with the constant clinking sound of the little plastic buttons pressing and releasing.

I can work myself into a nice trot, and I forgot how much I love this feeling, fingers typing at a frantic pace, I always think it must be the way horses feel when they are dismounted and unsaddled and let free to run through the fields, as fast as their feet will take them.

I can attest that we can relearn our skills after a considerable time away, it’s just like falling off a bicycle. But don’t take this as approval or encouragement for anyone to stop writing or whatever creative or mental hobby they have chosen for themselves. We can recover, but had I not taken a break I imagine my abilities would be even further along than they are.

It feels refreshing and energizing to be getting back into mental shape. My thinking is more clear and focused. And where a few weeks ago I would struggle to find a topic to write about, fiction or otherwise, I’m now pulling ideas out of the air once more, and can turn almost any offhanded remark or comment into an idea for a story or essay.

And a thousand words really is not that much, as you said. I’ve noticed it since I started keeping track of word counts on everything I write. I can easily lay out a few hundred words, at least, on just about any subject thrown at me. Not that this is always a good thing. I see I may have become more verbose than I ever wanted to be.

Last night I wrote what I thought would be maybe three or four hundred words for my blog on the idea I had of changing Columbus Day to Neil Armstrong Day, the piece ended up coming in just over twelve hundred words. Today in the writing exercise I pounded out a little scenario that flashed in my head, I ended up pouring almost eight hundred words into that one.

But I’ve always prided myself on the idea of ‘less is more’. Just because I can write a thousand words on any given subject, doesn’t mean I should. But that is another issue I will address on its own.

In one of the other writing groups where I lurk, the question is often raised how people are able to write a thousand or more words a day, it gets asked more frequently now that November is creeping upon us, the annual writing event,, and all the participants are stretching and sprinting in preparation to write a thirty-day novel.

I answer the question saying a thousand words really is not that much. But, I add, a marathon runner would likely tell me that running a mile is not that much. From my point of view or point of reference, a mile would leave me doubled over and covered in cold sweat on the side of the road.

I could start today, run as far as I could make it, probably not too far down my street, and repeat it tomorrow and every day, slowly adding a little distance to my sprints. I would soon be able to make it to the end of the block. If I continued, and kept consistent about it, in a little while I could make it to 95th street a few blocks south of me.

Then I could tackle a half mile, and then the mile. If I kept working at it, and kept the routine, I would get to the point where I could run a marathon, not like now where the mere idea of twenty-six miles makes me nauseous and gives me dry mouth.

Writing like running is an endurance sport as well as everything else. The mind is another muscle that requires exercise to keep in shape. I don’t want to get down on myself for ‘letting myself go’ and getting flabby in the brain. But I am very glad, I feel like it is where I’m supposed to be, back up that horse, riding once again.

© Robert Emmett McWhorter

after wandering the desert forty years seeking medical attention…

In 1974 Richard Nixon (yes, that Richard Nixon) saw the need for Healthcare Reform. He saw the rising costs of medical care and the propensity for abuse and greed from the Insurance companies.

He proposed a plan similar to Obamacare- except it would be labeled by some as more ‘socialist’. The Nixon plan expanded Medicare to anyone and everyone, and also established State-Run Insurance Programs, where Obamacare still gives the business to private insurance companies (free market, private industry.)

When an uninsured American needs medical care or winds up in the hospital and is unable to pay, who do you think foots that bill? We do. You do, I do. It means higher medical costs, insurance premiums and taxes; as the hospitals, clinics, insurers, doctors and care providers attempt to recoup their loss.

Is this the plan you prefer?

For well over forty years this country,  the citizens and even our politicians have recognized a need for a change. It’s not a matter of the government becoming a babysitter so we no longer take care of ourselves, it is a matter of us standing together against an industry; the corporations and companies that have been gouging us, extorting our savings, and leaving us defenseless to fight, because individually we have no teeth against this Machine.

Very, very rarely in the last half century would you hear anyone defend the plan in place, or rather- lack of a plan. There weren’t many who would jump to defend the insurance industry’s greed or the practices of pharmaceutical manufacturers. It was generally understood across the board; we were being bent over by these institutions, and were powerless to do anything about it.

Finally, we have a defense. At long last a plan is put in place, and while it may not be perfect and may need adjusting and revision, it is a plan we have been waiting for, fighting for, and shouting for as long as I have been alive.

And it is very interesting to hear this argument come into play , that ‘we don’t need it, we don’t want it’. Ten years ago this would have attracted curious looks, and give people a reason to question your sanity and grasp on reality.

If you want to remain on that side, defending the practices of the greedy powers that have been sticking as many hands in our pockets as they can possibly fit; until one day they decides you have nothing left to offer, and dismisses you with a ‘preexisting condition’; I can’t stop you, and it is well within your rights. But please be aware, and honest about who you are actually supporting, defending and rooting for.

Something Walmart This Way Comes *

evilwalmartThe national conversation about employee benefits and fair compensation has turned into an argument. The minimum wage in the United States has not kept pace with our rising cost of living, nor has it kept pace with the increasing profits reported by many large corporations.

As far as benefits, many employers have long taken measures to keep from having to provide healthcare or other perks to their workers, usually keeping hours below the threshold that would legally require them to invest in their employees.

Walmart is not the only perpetrator of this injustice, it is certainly a widespread problem and many companies and corporations are complicit in such policies. But I use Walmart in my example, as the biggest retailer in the world, they make themselves an easy target.

I can’t believe how many middle class Americans will jump to the defense of these corporations, shouting down the employees asking for a living wage and benefits, they’re just looking for a ‘hand-out’.

“Its not supposed to be a career blah blah…, teenagers can do it blah blah blah…”

If this is you, it might be high time you turned off Fox News, stepped outside your house and saw that most the people working retail or fast food these days are adults. In their twenties through their seventies. And it’s not that they are unskilled, it is the fact that the jobs have left this country. Look at anything you buy at Walmart and tell me if you ever see a ‘Made in the USA’ sticker on it.

These companies are reporting billions in profit every year, some of them tens of billions, Record numbers. But the workers who are often the face of the business, assisting customers and collecting the money; paying them a living wage would be  a ‘hand-out’.

Employees are paid as little as legally possible. To make things right, some reatilers assist and instruct their employees on applying for SNAP, food stamps, public assistance, whatever is available to make up for the fact that the employees cannot live on what they earn. Fifty two percent of Americans who have a family member working in fast food receive food stamps and other government assistance.Why the hell doesn’t that piss you off?

Hours are kept just under the threshold for mandatory benefits, such as health care. If one of these employees needs medical assistance or goes to the hospital, and doesn’t have insurance and can’t pay; who do you think foots that bill? You do, and I do. It means higher medical costs and higher insurance premiums and sometimes higher taxes as the Hospital, Clinic or Medical Center tries to recoup that loss. Why the hell doesn’t that make you blood-spitting furious?

I’m not knocking anyone attempting to run a business and get rich, but these corporate entities take every step they can to pay for the minimum upkeep, as little as possible in taxes, and pay the workers the lowest legal wage; and we get  stuck paying for it, we’re expected to make up the difference.

We are paying for greed. We are paying Corporate America to bend us over and we smile as we’re violated. We are paying them to piss on America; our systems, our values, and our citizens. You’d call it a hand-out to pay an employee enough to survive, but you don’t mind throwing your legs in the air and spreading when the poor, little Multi-national needs you to pay for its business practices. If you are not already brain-dead, or don’t enjoy your corporate intrusion served up cold, dry and abrasive, Why in the hell aren’t you outraged?

Oh, but look at the low, low prices..

*with acknowledgements to Trey Parker and Matt Stone who named a South Park episode ‘Something Walmart This Way Comes’

© Robert E McWhorter