Build It To The Sun: A Short Story

I wrote this story a number of years ago when my daughter was quite a bit younger than she is now. I quite like this story, actually. To be honest, I’m surprised at the quality. Doesn’t seem much like me. Anyway, I thought I’d share it here because I think it deserves some more views.

Build It To The Sun

“What are you building there, honey?”  said Ashley, raising her eyes from her smart phone just enough to verify her daughter was still in the room and that she was playing with something that was neither breakable nor lethal. The prior night had been such a trying one, again, and all she wanted to do was veg. At least her Facebook friends would provide her some sympathy.

“I’m building a ladder to the Sun, Mumma,” answered Sam, a pink spoke amidst a colorful loop of Duplo bricks.  “I’m makin’ it real high.”

“That’s nice honey,” Ashley answered. “You do know you can’t really build a ladder all the way to the Sun, though, don’t you?”  She was all for imagination, of course. However, preschool was less than a year away and theirs was a house of science, not fancy.

“Yes I can do it,” cried Sam, squeezing a brick with all her strength. “I’m doing it right now.”

“You don’t have enough bricks to build all the way to the Sun sweetie,” said Ashley. Why did they make the keys on phones so tiny anyway, she thought. And were the letters getting smaller and smaller, or had her eyes begun to age like the rest of her body?

“We could buy some more,” said Sam. “I don’t need much more.”

Ashley hit the send button on her status update, waited a moment, and then refreshed the screen, hopeful for the oncoming parade of comments and likes. She skimmed her friend’s status updates, clicking Like here and typing LOL there. “And how would you breathe when your ladder exited the Earth’s atmosphere? There is no air in space, you know.  You would need a helmet and oxygen.”

“I have my Dora helmet,” said Sam. “But I don’t wanna wear it.” Now on her tip-toes, she placed a blue block on top of the stack. The blues ones always went on top of the stack.

“Mmm hmm”.  Ashley  launched her phone’s web browser because Facebook was so dead. Her status update had received just a single Like. Everybody was probably eating breakfast, she figured.  She and Sam had done that hours ago, early as always.

This conversation was definitely post-worthy anyway. She contemplated putting away her phone and walking to the office to get the laptop, but she was just… so… tired.  The thumb pain would be worth it.  She logged into her blogging dashboard.

“Mumma,” said Sam, her voice loud with excitement.  “I’m really very close to the Sun now, Mumma.”

“Sammy,” said Ashley, typing a title to her post as fast as she could. “I’m sure you tried very hard but it just isn’t possible. The Sun is just too far away.”

“I know, Mumma,” said Sam. “You said.”  She turned the remaining blue brick in her tiny soft left hand. “But could you help me please Mumma?”

“Fine,” Ashley said. Come to think of it she was too tired to write anyway. She would blog later.

Placing her phone in her pocket, Ashley lifted herself off the couch. Stretching her arms, then her legs, she cracked her neck.  Then, finally, she looked up at her daughter’s creation. For the first time that morning, she saw.

A winding, mish mashed tower of blocks, thin in some areas and thick in others, was balanced just so against the living room wall. The ladder stretched ever onward to the ceiling ending just below the Sun-patterned border at the top of the wall.

“You were right Sam,” said Ashley with a whisper, kneeling down to kiss the top of her daughter’s head. “You really are close.”

Ashley reached in her pocket and for a moment considered taking a picture, but instead walked to the kitchen and placed her phone in the top drawer. The junk drawer.  “Why don’t we finish this up and then get out the play-doh,” she said, dabbing away the tear from the corner of her eye.  “Would that be fun?”

“Yes!” replied Sam, clapping her hands.  “I’m gonna make a car that can fly to the Moon.”

“That sounds brilliant,” answered Ashley.

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Women of Harry Potter: Luna Lovegood’s Relentless Optimism | Tor.com

 has written several outstanding pieces on the Women of Harry Potter, but this one might be my favorite. Luna Lovegood has always been one of my favorite characters. She is considered weird (like I always considered myself) but she is also brave in her weirdness (which I never was).

Here is a tiny excerpt, but go over there and read it all. And like, print it out and stick it up on your wall.

Cynicism is tempting. It hovers constantly at the edge of every hopeful moment, whispering “it will never happen.” It looks intelligent. It looks wry and elegant and worldly.

And it has never managed to ensnare Luna Lovegood.

Luna has spent years being told to give up. She has spent years being told that if she doesn’t give up, she’ll be left alone, barefoot and reviled. She has spent years among the Ravenclaws, being treated as stupid because she will not bend to cynicism.

She is precisely what the rebellion needs.

Source: Women of Harry Potter: Luna Lovegood’s Relentless Optimism | Tor.com

Finding North America’s lost medieval city | Ars Technica

This is fascinating. It feels like so much of what happened in North America is lost to time.

A thousand years ago, huge pyramids and earthen mounds stood where East St. Louis sprawls today in Southern Illinois. This majestic urban architecture towered over the swampy Mississippi River floodplains, blotting out the region’s tiny villages. Beginning in the late 900s, word about the city spread throughout the southeast. Thousands of people visited for feasts and rituals, lured by the promise of a new kind of civilization. Many decided to stay.

Source: Finding North America’s lost medieval city | Ars Technica

The Movie “Miracle” And President Carter’s Confidence Speech

So I was watching the movie Miracle (the story of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team) right after the election, because I like hockey and I like that movie. And maybe I needed a little something to help me feel slightly better about my country.

But this scene in the movie with a scene of the guys having fun at a team Christmas party, overlaid with the “Crisis of Confidence” speech President Carter gave in 1979 really struck me.

Here is but a small excerpt from Crisis of Confidence:

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don’t like it, and neither do I. What can we do?

First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.

One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: “We’ve got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America.”

We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.

We ourselves are the same Americans who just ten years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

Seems like much of this can be applied to today. And yeah, the special interests won. Reagan won. Trump won. America lost but hopefully isn’t lost.

Article on NPR: Kids On Bikes: The Sci-Fi Nostalgia Of ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Paper Girls’ & ‘Super 8’

First of all, can you all tell I’m obsessed with this show, Stranger Things?

I came across this article today on NPR and it seemed written for me specifically. I adore ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Paper Girls’ & ‘Super 8’. In fact, I still consider ‘Super 8’ to be 2/3 of a really really good movie.

Anyhow, NPR explains in this article some of the similar themes in these three things.

Autumn 1979. Ohio. Five kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

Autumn 1983. Indiana. Four kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

Autumn 1988. Ohio. Four kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

These are the setups of three recent pop culture offerings: respectively, the 2011 filmSuper 8, the new Netflix series Stranger Things, and the Image Comics series Paper Girls, which launched last year.

The article goes on to list the core tenets of what they call the “kids on bikes” genre: The Bikes, The Time, The Place, The Adults, The Authority Figures, and The Monster.

This interests me greatly as I look for patterns in entertainment that I like in the hopes of recreating it with my own spin in my own stories.

Moon Shot: Pittsburgh

Legendary roboticist Red Whittaker is a professor who splits his time between teaching future engineers at Carnegie Mellon and owning/operating a working cattle farm in rural Pennsylvania. With a crack team of former students, he co-founded Astrobotic because he believes robots are the best solution for exploring remote, harsh environments — from nuclear disaster zones to the moon.

This is so cool. And mad respect to this dude and his team.

New Nerf Herder Album is FAN-tastic

We Opened for Weezer – Nerf Herder

Nerf Herder has been one of my favorite bands since, well, since I first heard their first single Van Halen on MTV. You might not have heard of Nerf Herder. However, they did the theme song to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. And their lead singer, Parry Gripp, writes a mean jingle.

Anyway, a few years back they launched a new album project on PledgeMusic. I jumped on that SOB right away and it got funded right quick. They put the thing out to pledgers last month and now it is open to buy for the general public.  And it is great.

My favorite, though, is the song titled “We Opened for Weezer”. Weezer fans will recognize all the little Weezer references in the song as well as song’s early Weezer style.

“Pinkerton was getting Some bad reviews The guy from Rolling Stone Didn’t like the songs The guy from Rolling Stone Was totally wrong ”

Indeed.

PS I’ve been gone a week because my first kid got sick. Then my second kid got sick. Then I barfed my stomach out an entire night and it took my body 4 days to like food again. And I think my brain is starting to reboot finally. Of course this happened as I was starting to feel some writing momentum.

“Leap Day”

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I think we can all agree that Facebook is a pretty brutal and terrible place, especially if you don’t use the “unfollow” feature on certain friends and family. It is what it is, I guess. Every once in a while, though, it posts some interesting stuff from the “On this day feature”. Such as the one below. Past me was way funnier than current me.

Last night I hastily captured in my iPod some notes on a novel I’m planning, from an idea that came to me in a dream. Here’s one of them: “Each family gets a bare-bones dork room”.

Nobody steal that one from me, okay?

I never did write that novel about the “bare bones dork room”. Interesting enough (debatable, I know) I am currently planning a novel. Seems like I was doing the same on the last leap day.  May I not, however, waste the next 4 years not writing.

Thousand Eyes by Of Monsters and Men

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I find this song, Thousand Eyes by Of Monsters and Men, haunting. It recently played at the end of Episode 5 of Season 3 of The Hundred. It also happens to be the background music of the “Jessica Jones” theme on my Playstation 4. I love all those things.

Anyway, the song is cool and you should listen.

Here Come The Low Gas Prices Are Bad Articles

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Here it comes. After years and years of telling us that the cost of goods have gone up due to gas prices rising they are now telling us that lower gas prices are bad: NPR: Why Cheap Gas Might Not Be Good For The U.S. Economy. You know what? I’ll take something that is not great for “the economy” but that will help the poor and middle class save a little money on their drive to their job every morning, keeping “the economy” running.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. I predict more and more articles like this, especially from corporate news sources. Once they get us all worried about how bad cheap gas is, then the President will be blamed for it, just as he was blamed for higher gas prices. And certainly don’t hold your breath waiting for cheaper bread and milk prices. Money rarely trickles down in that direction.

But whatever. It’s Friday and payday, which means I get to head out to my huge money bin for a nice little swim.