A short story book is on its way to entertain you.
On writing stories: I came to the conclusion several years ago that the best way to learn the craft is to start writing short stories. Short stories like novels must have a beginning, a middle and an end, the end usually following shortly after the middle. I composed Some Woman I Have Known (Koehler Books 2015/Sun Hill Books 2018) from memoir-short stories about my diddle daddling in love until I married, and some outstanding women I met. It got me a PAN membership at Romance Writers of America. An honorary spot for a guy among all the famous and good women-writers.
Now I am launching a short storybook, entitled Shiver, Snicker, Schmooze, which contains 12 short stories in various genres, some short-short, others somewhat longer, which my muse bubbled up for me and got my fingers hitting the keyboard. Some based on real-life, others on the after-life, brought forward to the present time, spawning a smile, a tear, a shiver, or a schmooze. To entertain you during a boring train ride, that awful waiting in the airport lounge or sitting comfortably by the fireplace.
Soon to come:
ENCHANTÉ will announce when the Short Story Book is available on Amazon.com.
COVER DESIGN BY MELANIE STEPHENS OF MS Illustrations (Frederiksburg VA)
I finally got to writing my Memoirs. In the process, I remembered my many cultural shocks. If you traveled the world over as I did, you may recognize some of your own experiences.
THE “WEST” AND “SORT OF WEST”
- USA: Americans think only they are sane. The rest of the world thinks Americans are insane and they are sane. And everything in America looks and tastes the same, and their girls are xenophobic.
- Russia: Taking a bath is against the rules unless you do it in vodka.
- Holland: Bikers don’t look right or left and run you over, yelling YOU are stupid. Plus ample dog poop and the only place where I got robbed three times over the years by the same people. Guess once: Starts with an “M”, Holland’s most popular ethnic Moroccan invaders.
- Belgium: Toilet paper cut from old newspapers and no sinks to wash your hands. Language either Flemish or Walloon, either way unintelligible. Breakfast: French fries, mussels, and beer (or “rouge”, red wine). Lots of smokers.
- France: Toilets with black holes, no seats, and pissed-over footsteps and no sinks to wash your hands. Plus subway stink is the world’s worst. And heaps of dog and pigeon poop. Food is way too expensive and waiters are rude. And French love is a myth. Americans in Paris made that up because they don’t know what love is either, only in the movies. But I made some very good friends and had lovely moments.
- Spain: Males can’t leave a girl alone. Females are locked up 24/7. And I can’t sing serenades in Spanish.
- Portugal: As many windmills as in Holland. They look spooky. Don Quixote traveled from Spain to Portugal to fight them.
- Italy: Males can’t leave a girl alone. And females eat too much pasta. And there’s too much pigeon poop, too.
- Germany: One menu only: bier, wurst, und sauerkraut. And too much hoompa hoompa.
- England: no menu at all, only rain, and after joining the EU they still drive on the wrong side of the road. Maybe that will change after Brexit.
- Ireland: All Irish have gone to New York to join the Democratic Party. Only Poles and Romanian pickpockets are left.
- Scotland: Rain, cold weather, smoking chimneys, and nobody speaks English.
- Switzerland: Swiss-French unintelligible; Swiss-German unintelligible, Swiss Italian, well, who knows; I don’t speak Italian. Traffic priority signs for frogs, cows, and turtles. The Swiss put holes in their cheese to attract American off-shore money. Raclette sits in your stomach for two weeks and causes terrible farts that kill your co-worker in seconds.
- Rwanda: Twice destroyed in thirty years with old colonial help.
- Burundi: Twice destroyed in twenty years with old colonial help.
- Central African Republic: snakes in and/or under your bed, wasps in your toilet, and pygmies running between your legs.
- Cameroon: The food looks great but you can’t eat it.
- Congo-Kinshasa: Everybody cheats.
- Congo-Brazaville: Nobody cheats. It’s forbidden by law.
- South Africa: Go visit a shopping mall to get shot at and run for your life.
- Tanzania: Dar es Salaam has too many SUVs and nobody knows how they were paid for.
- Kenya: Wildlife is for tourists and the airport road is to kill the tourists.
- Ethiopia: The table cloth is edible but you wouldn’t think that when you go to bed.
- Mali: That’s where Timbuktu is and when I got there I finally understood why everybody says it’s nowhere.
- Guinea: Why for heaven’s sake did the colonialists put that country on the map?
- Ivory Coast: Must be called Côte d’Ivoire to show it was once French and that’s why it is what it is.
- Ghana: The only place in Africa on the West Coast that seemed to work because it had a direct KLM flight from Amsterdam.
- Nigeria: The one place in Africa that should work but doesn’t. Night flight out to safety.
- Bangladesh: Delicacy: cockroached curry. Eating with your fingers; spit reservoirs in every corner of every corridor; toilets are bastions of urine, providing the main perfume in office buildings; and beware of the Dhaka “run” if you want to survive.
- India: more of the same, but a little bit more sophisticated and the best food in the world. And heavenly Kashmir should be declared neutral territory for everyone to enjoy, not just Islamists, not just Hindus, not just Pakistanis. Just let it be.
- Malaysia: A mushroom garden with millions of multicolored edible mushrooms and a McDonald’s in Kuala Lumpur. What a place to live.
- Singapore: The country that everyone wants to ape but only Singaporeans know how to run.
- Taiwan: The only place where China is not China but everyone speaks Chinese and a tree you can slide through to become rich if you don’t fear getting stuck in the middle for the rest of your life.
- Philippines: Manila TV is like American TV – just as awful. In the countryside you find its beauty, but you may get struck by a typhoon.
- Indonesia and Bali: Djakarta is like Lagos, but outside the city, Java is a jewel. And on Bali, they serve the best suckling pig on earth. Go visit Bali’s interior to see the real Indonesia and its terraced rice fields. Heaven on earth. But the hotel bills are hellish.
- Hong Kong: British geniality mixed with Chinese Confucianism. Foremost a good cuisine, especially on the street, but everyone wondered how long the good life of one country two systems would last when the Brits handed it over to Communist China. The day of reckoning has come.
- China: More bikers than in Holland, and I never had real Chinese food before, not even in Amsterdam or NY China Town.
- Macao: Beware! Bought my wife a sapphire ring that turned out a piece of colored glass.
- Japan: Plastic food in the window is for show and not for eating. You must bow when meeting people in the elevator. And even a GPS can’t find where you’re going.
- Hawaii: advertised as little Asia but no, it’s pure America.
- Saudi-Arabia: The place where beautiful women are kept in hiding and your head gets cut off if you dare looking at them when they come strolling out after 11 p.m., or for saying something about their beauty.
- Lebanon: A Falafel tastes as good as a bomb.
- Jordan: An oasis in the desert and the only place in the Middle-East where I could ride a horse, have dinner in the open with a lovely woman, and feel at home, and where I might have stayed if she had said “yes.”
- Guyana: Loud. Loud dogs, loud crickets, loud vehicles, loud music, loud people but great curry and the best rum in the world. Drives on the wrong side of the road because the British stole Guyana from the Dutch in the 100-year European wars. Beautiful and savvy women, always showing a pleasant smile; and everything stays the same.
- Surinam: Neighbor of Guyana and awfully isolated but Surinamers don’t mind. People speak fluent Dutch (the only country outside Holland and Flemish Belgium that does) as Surinam was a Dutch colony until 1975. My greatest shock was that while speaking Dutch they are not Dutch at all, and their beautiful women bite.
- Curacao: The place to live but too expensive to retire.
- Bonaire: For scuba divers and iguana lovers only.
- Jamaica: The place where I spent my Millennial and tore both of my shoulder tendons when climbing back into my capsized sailing boat, leaving me burdened with lifelong Jamaicanitis.
The Friends are back in the Hullahoo bar talking about the events of the day. Lots of yelling.
Tom: “I think Stone Sour should be impeached!”
Frank: “Yeah, impeach, impeach! I believe they performed it first in Moskou, ha!”
Melissa: “Yeah, ‘So Do Me A Favor, There is no Savior,’ or something like that, and that in Russia Russia, highly impeachable!”
Maria: “And what about the Arctic Monkeys, ‘Do me a favor, and ask me if you need some help!'”
Cindy: “I have a better one from the Riverdale Cast, ‘Do me a favor, say Okay, do me a favor, make them pay!'”
Ted: “And then to think we pay those people in Congress who have nothing else to do but impeach. At least those bands earn their own money.”
Fred: “Do me a favor, Melissa, and hand me that pepper mill for my Bloody Mary, please.”
Melissa: “Any ulterior motives if I don’t? You won’t pay for my drink?”
Fred: “Like that Fats Waller song, ‘Do me a favor, marry me, share my lot.’
Melissa: “You see, you’re a savage, Fred!”
Fred: “Oh, come on, Melissa, even Paul McCartney sang, ‘Somebody’s knocking on the door, so do me a favor and let them in’.”
Ted: “Sounds like the left-wing immigration policy.”
Tom: “Do me a favor, guys, and ask the Treasury to stop paying congressional salaries until they do some work!”
Frank: “That’s quid pro quo, buddy, and you’ll be impeached for that!”
Cindy: “No, Tom is right. I will ask Pelosi, ‘Do me a favor and send people to remove that poop from my doorstep!'”
Fred: “Do me a favor, Cindy, let’s keep this civil. I’m having a Frankfurter with my drink.”
Marlene: “I’m sure everybody in Russia, China, Ukraine, Iran, and whatever dictatorship is having a good laugh about the stupid American democracy.”
Maria: “Right. I don’t think Democratic Party is synonymous with Democracy. Like Russia, they want to jail everybody.”
Marlene: “Is the Republican Party any better? They impeached Clinton.”
Cindy: “Clinton committed felonies and lied under oath, and lost his license to practice law.”
Frank: “And what did Trump do? Asking help to disguise the culprits of the 2016 election Russia Hoax in Ukraine, cough up the secret Hillary server and open up on the Biden corruption, all things that are already under investigation. There was no quid pro quo like with Biden.”
Maria: “And that’s what he said he’d do if he was elected, and he was. He got a mandate for that.”
Frank: “The Democrats only want payback. Tit for Tat, simple as that!”
Tom: “The whole matter sounds like ‘J’accuse‘ in that Dreyfuss affair in France, which started with a spy rummaging through a wastebasket and proved unfounded after years of turmoil. History repeats itself.”
Maria: “That whistleblower does not seem to be a whistleblower at all but an orchestrated internal Whitehouse trap set by people who hate Trump. It’s CIA stuff, by those dejected old spies that have now CNN jobs.”
Cindy: “I remember from my history class that the Dreyfuss affair caused major damage to the French justice system, and I bet this impeachment case would damage our justice system too.”
Tom: “It already has. That German wisecrack Otto von Bismarck said ‘Politics is the Art of the Possible,” but there’s nothing artful in this impeachment thing. It’s undermining America. Let we the people vote these nincompoops out in a year from now.”
“Hear, hear!” everybody yells and lifts their glasses.
Credits on Lyrics: www.Lyrics.com
Francine: Dazzling Daughter of the Mountain State 1st Edition
The Hullahoo Bar friends are reuniting after the holidays for their Labor Day Drink, starting with the hottest subject of the day.
“I say ‘No to Climate Change’ but ‘Change the Climate,’ Frank starts. “I want to stop the sun from turning back on June 21. Already it’s going dark.”
“And stop the hurricanes,” Fred adds. “They all come from Africa. Terrorists must be brewing them in the Sahara.”
“The President was overheard saying ‘Nuke them’,” Melissa says, smirking.
“That’s been tried before,” Tom says. “Navy planes started it in the 1950s. As of the sixties they flew into hurricane eyes and spread the walls with silver iodide. They called it ‘Project Stormfury’.”
Credits: Photo: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Photo Library – Text Project Stormfury: Richard Schwartz – “Great Hurricanes of the South East Coast” – work in progress. See also Rick Schwartz https://www.amazon.com/Hurricanes-Middle-Atlantic-States-Schwartz/dp/0978628004 –
“Sorry, Tom,” Mary interjects, “but I wasn’t good at chemistry in high school. What’s that stuff?”
“A yellow powder that makes rain,” Tom explains. “They did it with Hurricane Beula in 1963. The eyewalls began to fall apart and the winds fell by twenty percent.”
“So why aren’t they doing that today?” Cindy asked.
“Because Cuba’s Fidel Castro complained in 1963 that the U.S. weaponized the hurricanes to hit them,” Tom says. “And when they tried it in the Pacific in the seventies, China made a similar complaint. So ‘Project Stormfury’ ended in the eighties after millions spent. But the Hurricane Research Division in Miami is continuing research with planes that fly into the eyes, as they did with ‘Katrina’.”
“At what cost?” Cindy asked.
“In the order of twelve million a year,” Tom answers. “But that may also include other things. I’m sure they’re in Dorian already.”
“Well, given today’s billions of trade wars with China, they should start that again in the Pacific. Cheaper than fighting with tariffs,” Fred opines.
“But what help is this research?” wonders Ted. “It still doesn’t stop these hurricanes once they’re in the air. We must stop them from flying off in the Sahara. It’s terrorism, stupid.”
“Plant trees in the Sahara,” Melissa suggests. “Trees make clouds and rain. Drill for water in those dried-up lake beds they discovered instead of oil.”
“Who owns the Sahara?” Mary asks, scoffing. “Some eight countries if I remember well, all troublesome and full of terrorists. Good luck with your project.”
“Suppose we send Bernie and Pocahontas with their climate plans to the terrorists?” Fred offers. “Maybe they can persuade them with Democrat money to plant trees instead of bombing us.”
“It’s that copper bully in the sky that pulls earth’s orbit closer to its chest,” Frank claims. “Ever had a sunburn at the beach? Well, in a few years we’ll all get scorched. We must steer Mother Earth away from Bully The Sun.”
“Do these Green Deal people know who steers Earth?” Cindy asks. “It looks we’re heading for a big collision the way you describe it. The Bible says somewhere that the elements of earth will be destroyed by fire.”
“Right, we better find out how to steer Earth,” Mary says. “You see what happens with these driverless cars. They run into people and street lights, causing fire.”
“That’s exactly what that Green Deal does,” says Frank. “And they’re not insured.”
“I have a better idea,” Fred says. “Let’s turn these hurricanes back to Africa. That’s what those Green Deal people should put their trillions on. Let them drop all that water on the Sahara instead and plant trees.”
“AOC!” Mary suggests. “Stands for ‘Assault Our Climate.’ Let’s start breezing hard to blow Dorian away from the coast and back to where it came from.”
“That’s racist!” Melissa hollered.
“So is my Bourbon,” yells Frank. “Cheers!”
Francine: Dazzling Daughter of the Mountain State 1st Edition
Mars Man is back on Mother Earth on vacation with Kathryn and they use the opportunity to interview Joe Biden for Mars City TV. The interview is posted here.
Mars: “Helloo Joe, nice to meet you again. You know Kathryn, don’t you? It’s good to see you’re holding strong in your campaign despite the onslaught of bad media coverage.”
Joe: “Thanks, Mars and Kathryn. Well, you know that Joe Biden chooses truth over facts, ha, ha, ha.”
Mars: “Yes, we heard. You must be relieved that China’s Province America locked Mr. Trump and his consorts up in Guantanamo Bay.”
Joe: “I worked hard on that when I was Vice President with Barack America. They don’t call me ‘Joe China’ for nothing. Barack wanted to close it, but the Republicans did not. Now they taste the bitter fruits of their utter partisanship.”
Mars: “Lu Kung Si, the Chinese Governor of Province America, told us they allow local politicians to run for office. But what can you do if China mends the store?”
Joe: “Let’s just be smart this time. I’m looking for smart.”
Kathryn: “I’m from Nebraska, the only American free state left after China turned the U.S. into Province America. All your contestants for President are running to the left, some even more left than China’s Communist Party.”
Joe: “But at least there’s some civility now.”
Kathryn: “What would you do as President of China’s Province America if China invades Nebraska and commits another Tiananmen square bloodbath in Omaha?”
Joe: “China has taken America back to normal. We are no longer chest-thumping and doing twitter tantrums. China will treat Nebraska like Hongkong, one country two systems.”
Mars: “But you had considerable financial interests in China and the Bank of China invested a billion dollars in a fund set up by your son and a son of the Heinz fortune while you were Vice President. How much of that went into your own bank account?”
Joe: “I am not responsible for what others do. I thought the deal was when you went to work for the Government, you weren’t supposed to make money! I was kind of secretly hoping one of my kids would go out and make a million bucks, so that when they put me in a home, at least I’ll have a window with a view.”
Mars: “But how can you then be neutral in what China does with Province America?”
Joe: “I won’t, but Trump undermined our democratic alliances while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity. The world sees Trump for what he was – insincere, ill-informed, impulsive, and corrupt.”
Kathryn: “But is that not exactly what you were with China, corrupt? Is that not the reason why China lets you run for President of Province America?”
Joe: “It proves that I know how to deal with China. China is now eating our lunch, and we work for them. Nowhere it is written there must be a conflict between what was the United States of America and China.”
Kathryn: “You said in the past that China was not our competitor and see now what happened. How can Nebraska be assured that China will apply the same ‘one country two systems’ policy for Hongkong to Nebraska?”
Joe: “As President of Province America I won’t be responsible for foreign policy. President Ping is. In my heart I know Ping’s a good President. No nation should stoke instability in its neighbor’s country.”
Mars: “Don’t you feel disappointed that Province America is destroying the individual freedom and innovation that made America great?”
Joe: “For too long in this society, we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community.”
Mars: “There are reports that President Trump is buying Greenland from Denmark to establish a U.S. Government in exile and win America back. Have you heard about that?”
Joe: “Look folks, we know who built this country and we know who’s going to rebuild it. It’s China. Instead of vilifying China we should be thanking China. We owe China.”
Kathryn: “One last question: Did you ever inappropriately touch Chinese women?”
Joe: “Who said that women always want to have the last word? I only want to connect with people!”
Credits: Many websites with Joe Biden Gaffes and Quotes.
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“A beautiful story — full of suspense, drama, and enduring love centered around music. John Schwartz has created a whole world and a wonderful escape. The characters jump off the page with such personality and imagery that this book could make a great movie. Enchanting the Swan is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly.” Neal Cary (Cellist -Professor – William&Mary)
“Enjoyed the book. Well written book. A very heartbreaking love story.” Vera Wilson
“Enchanting the Swan was a nice read, and a deviation from the predictable boy meets girl and falls in love formula. There were many turns in the book that are reminiscent of life in that they were off the path to the end result. The writing was very image evoking and it all made for a good story that kept me reading until the end. Looking forward to more from this author!” Amy
“A lively composition! The various moneyed people, their elaborately appointed living quarters, and their high-wheeling lifestyle add a dash of pizzazz.” Kirkus Reviews