New Dawning

30 Jul




New dawning

by L. Stewart Marsden


Something dawned on me today,
early in the bathroom morn,
while I was brushing, brushing, brushing
my teeth, teeth, teeth;
that I was not as bad as I believed,
which was — I say — hard to conceive,
since throughout my life I was deceived
to think myself
not quite,
less right,
off site,
and leaning just a bit in the wrong direction.

So, by my “erroneous selection” I selected to
decrease the number of those who saw me inept,
those who detected my failings and flaws,
and who “never” and “nahed” me down to my knees,
whom I could never and nahed ever please
the infinite heights of high expectations,
where I floundered and pawed
with no realization –

Not that I did a single one bad –
but left, with whatever dignity I had
and planted that
where no one could disturb it,
and it grew
deep rooted to the earth and
now it has sprung to reveal
its sweet flower,
and I,
brushing teeth
in this early morn hour
have discovered
a new self-respect
that not very long ago
you would never detect.

There it is: so fragile and gentle,
seeking sunlight and moisture
and rich fertilizer;
I’ll nurture it
tender it
and watch it grow strong;

as I realize the truth of its truth
and never
no never
will I be ever that wrong.


Copyright © by L. Stewart Marsden, 30 July, 2014

App Man, or, Gordo the virtual hero — Chapter 4

30 Jul

App Man


Gordon, the virtual hero

Chapter 4: Kitty Hawk Trials

by L. Stewart Marsden


Alyssa called Gordon three weeks later.

“I told you she would call,” pouted Marilyn.

“Shush! Hello?” he ventured.

“Hello, Gordon? It’s Alyssa.”


“You know — airline pilot — Stanford grad — the Sedona iFit trial?”

“Aly– Oh! A-lyssa!”

“You’re kidding me, right? You’ve forgotten already?”

“Naw — I’m just havin’ fun, Alyssa. Like my nephew says, ‘J-K!’ What’s up? You? In the plane, I mean? It’s a joke.”

“Yeah,” she laughed weakly. “No, we can’t make personal phone calls from the cockpit. Look, I’m in Maui, and am scheduled to fly back to Seattle tomorrow — then I have about four days free. Remember what you said about Kitty Hawk?”

“Yeah, but — Alyssa, that add-on feature actually went on the back burner and won’t be ready for a couple of months.”

“Well, what if we — you and I — meet up on the Outer Banks for a few days — you know, go see Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers stuff?”

“Oh! You mean not virtual — but real reality?”

“That’s exactly what I mean! Whaddaya say?”

“Say no, you can’t,” interrupted Marilyn. “You’ve got that big pow-wow with Facebook then.”

“So? Whaddaya say, Gordon? You have something to keep you from going? I’d understand if you did and –“

“No!” he blurted. “There’s nothing to keep me from meeting you out there. Want me to make reservations?”

“Already did.”

“That’s ballsy!”

“That’s what he said,” she quipped. “So now you’ve got to go. No excuses.”

“So, when and where?”

“Thursday. The Ramada in Nags Head. I’ll meet you for drinks at the bar around 6.”

“Shouldn’t that be oh-eighteen hundred?”

“Ha! Yeah — whatever. Just leave work behind. Promise me that.”

“I promise.”

“Oh, and bring a bathing suit. Or not.”

“Disconnected,” announced Marilyn quickly, snapping the conversation off. “Which, I might add, is what this relationship needs to be!”

“Ma-ri-lyn!” Gordon whined, “there is no relationship here!”

“That’s what you said last time. Do I need to remind you how that ended?”

“We’re just getting together for drinks!”

“Right! For four days and two thousand miles away?”

“I promise you — nothing’s going to happen.”

* * * * *

As Ramadas go, this one was really not exceptional, other than it was right on the beach. Gordon’s eyes slowly adjusted from the bright daylight drive from the airport to the inside of the motel. He sorely missed his iLenses, but he had promised Alyssa he would leave business at home.

So, without cellphone or iLenses or laptop, Gordon had isolated himself from the world — virtually.

The most difficult disconnection was with Marilyn, who threatened to fuse all of the circuitry and fry the many sources of wifi and other non-wired devices in Shangri-La while he was away.

What did people do back then to survive? he thought to himself as he approached the busy check-in desk. He felt desperately naked without his armaments of electronic devices.

“May I help you?” smiled a browned uniformed clerk.

“I have a reservation for a few days,” he stammered.


“Well, I’m not sure who it’s under. But my name is Feltzer. Gordon Feltzer.”

“Thank you, Mr. Fizzer.”

“Feltzer!” he repeated slowly, and spelled it out.

“Yes, sorry, Mr. Feltzer. Here we are . . . you have an ocean view bedroom — nonsmoking — with a king. That’s on the sixth floor.”

“Do you need my finger scan?”

“Only to set the door lock so you can open it. Everything else has been taken care of. Do you need any assistance with your luggage?”

“No thanks. Just the one,” he lifted the light carry-on for her to see, then placed his finger on the scanner.

“Thank you, Mr. Feltzer. Take the elevators to the sixth floor and go right down the hallway. Room 645 will be on your right.”

“Six forty-five. Got it. Thank you.”

 * * * * *

On his pillow was a handwritten note in choppy print: “See you at 6 in the bar! — A.”

It was four o’clock. Oh-sixteen-hundred, he said to himself with a smile. He drew back the drapes to the sliding glass door, opened it, and stepped onto a small rectangular porch. Before him stretched the aqua blue waters of the Atlantic. Distant clouds blurred into the distant horizon line, where water met air.

The air was salty, and warm gusts billowed about his face and hair. He closed his eyes and slowly breathed in and exhaled.

He remembered coming to the beach when he was a kid. His mother and father in the front seat of the Odyssey van, he and Darryl watching the movie monitor and listening to sound over bulky remote headphones. Well, Gordon didn’t actually watch the movie. He read comic books. He muted the sound on his headphones.

His mother would turn back to them from time to time and seem to mouth something that was too muted by the headphones to understand. Then she would motion them to pull their headphones off.

“We’re at the halfway point and are going to stop in Rockingham. Which restaurant do you want to go to?”

She said “restaurant,” but she meant which fast food place. Dad and Darryl liked Bojangles. Mom liked Wendy’s, and Gordon liked nothing. But, forced to choose, he would blurt out Subway, or Chick-fil-A, knowing neither was likely to be found. He would inevitably bow to the majority choice.

So they generally ate Bojangles. The spicy food ripped through Gordon so fast that within an hour leaving Rockingham they had to pull off U.S. 70 so he could dash to the woods with a handful of tissue paper his mother had given him.

“I’ll be damned if I know what’s wrong with that boy,” his father grumbled when Gordon returned and fastened his seat belt.

“Maybe it’s irritable bowel syndrome,” suggested his mother. And she would prattle on about someone in the carpool who was diagnosed with it, and how the doctors were afraid of the onset of various other intestinal complications.

Hours later, they turned down the final approach to Holden Beach, where they went every summer and stayed in the same canal row cottage. The canal rows were on the island side opposite the ocean, where the mosquitos were intolerable. The Feltzer’s didn’t make enough money to afford to rent an ocean front cottage.

“Just be goddam grateful we get to have a vacation at all, goddamit,” his dad would yell. Then he left the family for another woman, and they always rented an ocean front cottage when they vacationed. And Gordon and Darryl and their mother never again went to the beach.

Both Daryl and Gordon would unbuckle their seat belts and stand on their seats to see the ocean.

“Who’s first to see the ocean?” their dad would ask excitedly. And as the van slowly ascended the tall curving bridge over the waterway, each brother would claim the prize. All of the van’s windows had been opened, and the warm salt air poured into the space.

“I SEE IT!!!” Darryl would shout.


And his parents laughed as Gordon and Darryl pummeled each other.

That same smell. The same sound of the rolling evening tide, washing up the sandy beach. The same array of brightly-colored beach umbrellas and camping tarps, beach chairs and towels spread out. Of kids and parents splashing in the surf. Skinny, long-haired browned boys watching the waves — skim boards in hand — then dashing towards a breaking wave, tossing the skim board ahead, and leaping onto the board for a brief and exciting ride.

Of tattooed boy-men, pumping cans of beer wrapped in coolie covers, turning slowly to ogle pairs of oscillating fannies attached to bleached blonde bikinied bimbos whose boobs bounced to their steps.

The wind-muted sound of laughter and screams of delighted voices. Of Bonaparte gulls as they swooped circles into the sea breeze, to light on the sand and outrun the water up the beach.

Squadrons of brown pelicans glided out of the setting sun, their necks snuggled against their bodies, flapping briefly, and soon vanishing out of sight further up the beach. The modern evolution of the prehistoric pterodactyl, he thought to himself.

Here, where the water and the land and the air meet, is near perfection, he thought. If there was a god, here is where he — or she — would reside.

Marilyn would love it here, he thought to himself. Then he remembered Alyssa. Oh-eighteen hundred wasn’t too far off, and he had to take a shower and change.

* * * *

“Wow! You look — ” he stammered when he found Alyssa tucked into a corner booth in the bar.

Alyssa had squeezed herself into a short black dress with straps. Her raven black hair was combed out, and waved about her oval face. She smiled.

“Thank you! And you look straight out of Casablanca.” she returned.

Gordon wore a white short-sleeved linen shirt with open collar. He also wore white linen pants and sandals. All the outfit lacked, in his opinion, was a white Panama hat with white linen hat band.

He sat across from her.

“Marilyn suggested it. I only have suites — well a couple of those. Everything else is shorts and T-shirts.”

“She has excellent taste. I’m very surprised she let you go.”

“I am my own man, my dear! Don’t let the geekyness fool you. I actually haven’t taken time for myself in quite a while.”

“I haven’t either.”

“Like I believe that. You must have invitations every weekend to go all over the world,” he challenged.

“Sure. Plenty of invitations. Not so great on the desirability of the inviter. Plus, I invited you, remember?”

“So, where’s your room?”

“Down the hall from yours.”

“You know, I half expected you to book one room.”

“Well, forward as I might be on some levels, I would never do that.”

“I like that.”

“I think you’re going to find me an old-fashioned kind of girl — in spite of my curriculum vitae.”

“Hey — remember, I’m not a college grad. And, I don’t have my iLenses on to look that up! So tell me, old-fashioned Alyssa, what’s on the agenda for the next few days?”

“Surprise after surprise.”

“What kind of surprises?”

“If I told you, they wouldn’t be surprises, would they?”

A waiter approached with a tray bearing two very large Margarita glasses. He placed one in front of Gordon and one in front of Alyssa, turned and left.

“Cheers!” she said, offering her glass in a toast.

“Cheers!” Gordon replied. “Here’s to surprises — whatever they may be!”

* * * * *

Copyright © by L. Stewart Marsden, 30 July, 2014


Henny Penny and the last corn pone

29 Jul

Henny Penny and the last corn pone

by L. Stewart Marsden


So Penny Henny had a hankerin’ for scratch corn pone, and sallied forth into the barnyard.

“Who-all would like some homemade corn pone?”

“Why, I sure would,” said Johnny Jack-ass.

“Wee-wee-wee would,” said the muddy pigs.

The sheep, after asking each other, “Would ewe? Would ewe?” replied “Ya-a-a-a-us!” they bleated.

“Well then, who will help me plow the field?” asked Henny.

“Well, I don’t believe so,” said Johnny Jack-ass. “That’s a bit like work!”

“Wee-wee-wee won’t,” said the muddy pigs.

“Na-a-a-a-a-t us!” the sheep shouted.

“Then I’ll just have to do it myself,” said Henny. And she did.

“Who will help me hoe the rows?” asked Henny sometime later.

“Nope,” said Johnny Jack-ass. “My favorite TV shows are comin’ on!”

“Wee-wee-wee won’t either,” said the muddy pigs.

“Na-a-a-a-a-t us!” the sheep shouted.

“Then I’ll just have to do it myself,” said Henny. And she did.

After a bit, the persistent Henny came back to the barn yard to ask,

“Who will help me plant the seed?”

“Nah. My back pain has flared up again,” said Johnny.

“Wee-wee-we’re too tired from sleeping in the mud,” grunted the pigs.

“Baaaack off, Henny!” said the sheep.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” she said.

And she did.

Well, Henny Penny hoed and weeded and watered the rows of her cornfield, and, over time, cornstalks peeked through the soil and grew in the warm sun over the next weeks. All the while she gave her farm friends the opportunity to help every step of the way. And every step of the way, her farm friends refused to help.

The corn grew and grew and grew, all while Henny Penny tended her crop.

Finally, sprouting golden tassels, the fat ears of corn were ready to pick.

“Who will help me pick the corn?” she asked of the barnyard animals.

“Oh, Henny! I am allergic to cornfields,” said Johnny Jack-ass.

“Wee-wee-we’re too too short to help,” oinked the pigs.

“We can’t be baaaaa-thered,” the sheep said.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” she said, sadly shaking her feathery head.

And she did.

And she dried the corn.

And she shucked the corn.

And she ground the corn.

And she mixed the cornmeal into a fine batter, of which she made the most scrumptious corn pone ever! Ohhh, the wonderful aroma of that corn pone wafted throughout the whole barnyard.

One by one, Johnny Jack-ass, the muddy pigs, and the mewling sheep stepped forward, their noses perked up into the air, sucking in all the wonderful aroma.

“Hello, Johnny Jack-ass. Why are you here?”

“Why, I’m here to help eat the corn pone, of course.”

“And why are you here, pigs?” she asked.

“Wee-wee-we’re hungry and want to help eat the corn pone,” they squeeled.

“And, you ewes? Why are you here?” she asked the sheep.

“To chew-chew-chew the pone,” baaed the ewes.

“Well, guys — surprising as this might be to you all, none of you is going to get a crumb of my delicious homemade corn pone,” said Henny Penny.

“WHAT!!!” the animals screamed in shock.

“You heard me. I plowed the land; I hoed the rows; I planted the seed; I weeded and watered and did everything necessary for the corn to grow nice and high. THEN, I picked and dried the corn, shucked it, and ground it for corn meal. THEN I mixed it with the ingredients and baked the corn pone. YOU . . .. did NOTHING!”


So loud was their verbal displeasure that the ruckus awoke the farmer, who came out of the farmhouse to see what the matter was.

He listened to Henny Penny, and he listened to Johnny Jack-ass, the muddy pigs, and the sheep.

He looked at the cornfield, and the corn meal, and the corn pone — which he sampled.

Then he took his tractor and scooped up nearly 60 percent of all the results of Henny Penny’s efforts, and took that pile of food and distributed it between the jack-ass, the pigs, and the sheep.

“On this farm,” he said, looking at Henny Penny very sternly, “it is one for all, and all for one.”

He then turned and walked with resolution to the farmhouse, slamming the screened door behind him.

Stunned, Henny Penny turned back to what she had left from her efforts.

Time passed.

Winter came and the jack-ass, the pigs and the sheep had eaten all of their shares of the corn pone. Henny, who had carefully parceled out her food, had enough to last her until spring.

When spring came, Henny stayed in the chicken coop.

When summer came, Henny stayed in the chicken coop.

“Hey, Penny!” called Johnny Jack-ass into the chicken coop. “Aren’t you going to plant corn this year?”

“Yeah!” grunted the pigs.

“Yeah!” said the sheep.


“Why not?” they asked.

“I’m going to be satisfied with the chicken feed the farmer hands out,” she said.

“Makes sense,” said Johnny.

“Yup,” said the pigs.

“I agree,” said the sheep.

And there was no corn pone to be had on the farm from that time forward.

App Man, or, Gordo the Virtual Hero – Chapter 3

28 Jul



App Man


Gordo the Virtual Hero

Chapter 3: Trials and Tribulations

by L. Stewart Marsden


Gordon’s iLens screen opened to a vast three-dimensional scenic landscape — the Sedona Trail. A Spandex-bound petite woman stepped up to him. Her iLenses were tinted from the top to midway on the lenses. She wore her jet black hair back in a pony tail, and was evenly tanned over the exposed parts of her shoulders and arms and legs. Her smile was bright against unadorned lips.

“Alyssa?” he asked, knowing it was a silly question.


“Who else? Hi!”


“So, are you ready?”

“If you are.”

“What pace?”

“Moderate walk — four and a half miles per hour.”

“You don’t want to jog it?”

“Not today. This is a test, and I don’t want to push it. Actually, I don’t want to push myself.”

“I gotcha.”

“Just keep pace with me.”

“Don’t think that’ll be a problem,” she replied.

“No — I know . . . I meant don’t speed off ahead of me.”


They began to walk along a trail that wound through the picturesque hills of Sedona, climbing mild inclines at times, turning bends and paralleling a small brook.

“So,” he said, breaking their silence, “this your first alpha test?”

“Oh, no. I guess I’ve been involved with about a dozen tests over the past few years.”

“Wow! You’re so young!”

“I know. I was in a few at Stanford at the beginning, and I guess my resume looks good.”

“Yeah. And other things.” He wondered why he added that comment, and hoped she would let it ride.

“I’ve done a lot in flight simulation. You know, games and stuff like that. But I’ve never been a beta for your apps before. I guess because the other apps are more mental and less physical in application — not that I’m a mental light-weight.”

“Oh, Stanford grad? Airline pilot? Hardly light-weight. You know I have no say in my beta testers. I plug in the criteria and the selection is made.”


“Of course.”

“So, what does this app do, beside give you the ability to exercise with someone who’s three states away?”

“You can walk, jog, run, bike or swim anywhere in the world for one. The graphics are superior to anything out there. It’s a real challenge to get three-D right. It’s the adjustments that the iLens can make to fine tune either side of the image. Remember the old stereoscope you had as a kid?”

“I never had one.”

“Well, you had this round card with pictures — two each of the same shot at slightly different degrees. You slipped it into the stereoscope — which actually looked kind of like a boxy pair of binoculars. Works on the same principle as binoculars. Each eye sees the same picture from a slightly different angle, and, voila — three dimensions!”

“I feel like I’m actually here. It even smells like the desert!”

“Those are the fine tunings I worked on with the Fitness World guys. Scents, breezes, even changes in air temperature.”

“Awesome. So why the iFit app?”

“Self-motivated. I mean, look at me. People don’t call me Gordo because I’m ripped.”

“You’re not so bad!”

“But I’m not like the App Man posters. I love Stan Lee, but — really? That’s a hard image to live up to — especially when I come out on stage to address an audience these days. I can hear the whispers, ‘That’s Gordon Feltzer? Plus, I really feel like I need to be a better role model to kids like I was.”

“And what kind of kid was that?”

“I didn’t study. Hated school. Loathed sports.”

“Hard to imagine.”

“I buried myself in comic books. Any and every Marvel or DC hero was my hero — dark or light. You should see the collection I have from then. Uh, that’s not a come on, by the way.”

“Don’t worry. I figured. So there was this leap from comic books to designing apps?”

“Well, what I realized was that all of the comic book artists and writers had envisioned things that never had been. And those things became virtually alive to me. Remember Dick Tracy?”


“I have all the old strips of Dick Tracy, too. Well, there were so many things — the two-way wrist radio that later became a wrist TV — that eventually became reality. And I thought, if I can think it, I can make it happen.”

“Why the hell not?” she laughed.

“Exactly. So, in a nutshell, that’s what I’ve been doing. And really — anybody could to the same.”

“C’mon — not anybody.”

“Look, if you have access to the tools and the knowledge, you can do anything you set your mind to.”

“I think your kind of knowledge and tools mean not everyone can do what you do. Where’d you go to school?”

“High Point Central.”

“Where’s that?”

“High Point.”

“And that?”

“North Carolina.”

“But where’d you go to college?”

“I didn’t.”

“Oh. Don’t tell anybody that.”

“It’s in my bio. I guess you haven’t read my book.”

“No. Sorry. Hope this doesn’t get me fired from beta testing.”

“Actually I like you haven’t read it. And thank you, by the way.”

“For what?”

“For not wearing a pastel ball cap and sticking your ponytail through the back.”

“Ha! I guess an azure blue sports bra and fire pink running shoes aren’t your thing.”

“Right. I don’t look good in blue sports bras.”

They both laughed. They continued to walk in silence, crunching the lava ash pathway. They rounded a bend and got their first sight of Cathedral Rock.

“Oh, my!” Alyssa said.

“Yeah. really nice.”

“This app is really incredible!”

“If you think of it, it’s just an extension of the abacus.”

“Right,” she said sarcastically.

“No — really! That’s all. We’re just a few dozen steps down the road from that simple machine. Like the plane you fly. Just a few flights from the Wright brother tests.”

“Okay. I can see that.”

“Ever been there?”


“Kitty Hawk.”

“No. I haven’t ranged too far from the west coast.”

“You need to go.”

“Is it on the app?”

“That one? Not yet.”

“Pity. I’d like to walk there sometime with you.”


“I mean, if you want to go walking again.”

Marilyn interrupted. “Approaching end of test, Gordon. And your blood pressure is slightly elevated, by the way.”

“Thank you, Marilyn,” he replied in an irritated voice.

“Who’s that?” Alyssa asked.

“Marilyn. She’s my keeper. She was my first app. Tends to be a bit protective and possessive.”

“I heard that,” Marilyn interjected.

“She sounds sexy,” said Alyssa.

“Yeah. I worked hard to get the voice right, and her mannerisms — as far as personality and all.”

“I suppose ‘Candle in the Wind’ is her favorite song,” laughed Alyssa.

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “But I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

“Um, is she why you’ve never married?”

“How’d you know that?”

“Your not the only person who does his research.”

“Well — yes and no. My dad was an ass, and left us when I was a kid. Mom raised me and my younger brother. I guess, since I saw how she got along without a husband, I could get along without a wife. Too many complications. And, yeah — I guess Marilyn is kind of a substitute. I hadn’t thought of that before.”

“Too busy with your work, I suppose.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. Once or twice my mom has complained that she needs grandchildren, and I’ve thought of developing an app for that.”

“Virtual grandchildren?”

“Why the hell not? Like fish in a bowl, only better. Virtual grandchildren — OR children, for that matter — can be programmed to be perfect. Never feed them. Never have to buy stuff for them. No college tuitions to break the bank.”

“Like the Stepford Wives.”

“Something like that. Well, gosh, good times do end quickly, don’t they?”

“Yeah. I’ve really enjoyed our walk. This app is incredible.”

“Now, you can record everything we did in your iFit record — including heart rate, blood pressure, distance, calories burned — the whole nine yards. And you can see how you’ve done against your goal — which can be weight loss, maintenance, or strength and endurance building. And, you were able to visit a beautiful part of the world — and enjoy my company as well.”

“Your modesty is overwhelming. Would you like to do this again sometime? With me, I mean?”

“I would, yeah.”

“Blood pressure is still rising,” warned Marilyn.

“Can it, Marilyn. Yes, Alyssa. I would enjoy another walk with you. Maybe Kitty Hawk when we get it programmed.”

“Count on it.”

“Disconnecting link,” said Marilyn in a huff.

Sedona and Alyssa faded, and Gordon’s iLenses filled with health information as a result of the exercise.

“Call coming in,” said Marilyn, still nursing her jealousy.

“Gordo!” said a high-pitched voice.

“Hi Darryl.”

“That — THAT was fantastic! And so was the trial. I mean, man — what a babe! I can’t wait to get my own unit up and running — you got her information? Of course you do, what am I saying!”

“Look, Darryl, I’m not going to give you her data. She’s a beta tester, and that information is confidential.”

“Bet I could find her, though. Why the hell not, I always say!”

“Wow! You can be such an ass, Darryl. I never should have given you those prototypes and frequenced you into the trial. That’s over, buddy. Not gonna happen again.”

“So, Marilyn is pissed, am I right?”

“Do you have a life? Other than Facebook, that is?”

“Hey, bro — blood is thicker . . . “

“Than nothing,” Gordon interrupted.

“I’m just sayin’.”

“Well, say it to someone who cares.”

“You hurt me, Bro — you really do. So, have they called yet, speaking of Facebook?”

“Not yet. I would assume they’ll run all sorts of analyses, and maybe want one or two more tests, once they know what to ask.”

“It’s a gold mine! A goddam gold mine!”

“You remind me of Billy Carter.”


“His brother was Jimmy.”


“President. One-termer. Nice guy — not much of a politician.”

“Oh — the peanut farmer.”

“And Billy was his brother. Created Billy Beer and pissed on the airport runway.”

“Well, I take that as a compliment, Bro.”

“I’m not surprised. What do you want, Darryl?”

“What do I want? To congratulate you, Bro! And maybe get that hottie’s phone number.”

“What else?”

“Okay, um — I need a small favor.”

“How small?”

“For you? Infinitesimal.”

“Wow — a word with more than two syllables. What is it?”

“I seen this new Mercedes convertible down at Harrigan’s yesterday. Oh, it was nice! And I test drove it. Oh, it was sweet!”

“How much?”

“Two-forty. Not counting taxes and tags, mind you.”

“So — two-fifty? Would that do?”

“Oh, that would do just fine, Bro. Just fine and dandy!”

“Send me the particulars. I gotta go, Darryl.”

“Thank you, my generous brother! May the gods bless this new app and may the world . . . “

“Good-bye, Darryl. Disconnect, Marilyn.”

“Disconnected. You really need to do something about him.”

“I can’t. He’s my brother.”

“He’s a liability.”

“One of many.”

“Oh? Meaning me?”

“Marilyn! C’mon! How could you ever be a liability to me?”

“I can only assist you up to a point. Isn’t that a liability? I mean, I can’t put my hair into a ponytail.”

“Jeesh, Marilyn! Physical stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — believe me! You mean more to me than any real person ever has.”

“Oh. I’m your Girl Friday. Your HAL? Seems a bit demeaning — I can’t kiss you or touch your hand or give you relief.”

“Yet. Where are you going with this, Marilyn?”

“Nowhere. I’m sorry, Gordon. I guess I didn’t like you liking your time with Alyssa.”

“Well, I did. I’m sorry you can’t get out of your own stuff to want to see me enjoy someone. It’s not like we live in Grand Central Station, for chrissakes.”

“You’re right. I forget humans need humans. I thought maybe your mother would be enough for you — or your business contacts.”

“Well — after that shock of seeing her in the shower? No, it’s not enough. I’m not getting any younger. You? You stay the same.”

“But I’m not the same.”

“Yes, you grow and learn. All the same, you will be around for a century, potentially.”

“Unless . . . “

“Right. Well, I’m not going to do that. I would never do that. Like I said, you mean too much to me.”

“And I’m not holding you back, then? From — other relationships?”

“No. And if something should ever develop — which I can’t imagine at all — I will never leave you behind, Marilyn.”


“On my heart.”

“She’s going to call you, you know.”

“I don’t know that. We’ve got work to do. Bring up the analysis of the trial, and go ahead and contact Facebook and Apple — conference call. I think we’re ready to roll this baby out.”

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 28 July, 2014

App Man – or Gordo, the virtual hero, Chapter 2

24 Jul



App Man


Gordo the Virtual Hero

Chapter 2: Virtual App-ability

By L. Stewart Marsden

Gordon swabbed his plate with the remaining toast, cleaning the last bit of yolk and swallowing it down with a gulp of coffee.

“Breakfast clean-up,” he said, and placed his dishes on the cart, which silently rolled into the kitchen.

Stretching and glancing out at the canyon below, he got up from the bench and walked briskly to his work area.

Like his entire house, his office was unique. Titanium posts and beams held large curved glass walls and ceiling, forming a space that resembled an observatory. At night, exhausted after hours of work, he would turn all the lights in his house out, and lay on his back in the middle of the floor of the space, staring at the heavens above through the dome.

Along the walls were few decorations, save a huge, larger-than-life color poster that Stan Lee commissioned for Gordon’s 29th birthday — which seemed eons ago. It was in the style of a comic book cover, with a huge, overtly muscular version of Gordon in a yellow Lycra body suit with App Man in reflective silver letters across the chest, wearing the prototype of the iLens across his eyes. Across the bottom, in a large curved banner font, was the phrase in quotes, “Why the hell Not?”

App Man had come to be Gordon’s moniker after he had developed two of the top ten virtual apps downloaded world-wide within a three-year period. Carefully protecting and marketing his projects, App Man quickly became virtual street conversation. Most of the big hitters, including Apple, Google and Facebook, hounded him until he finally had the means to seclude himself in his self-designed Shangri-La.

Seizing on the early popularity of bitcoins, Gordon was able to create such powerful apps that money had practically been replaced around the world. Virtual exchange was manipulated into a common value so that regardless where a person was, he could negotiate financially without anything beyond his eye and index finger.

Using iris and fingerprint scanning, personal data had become virtually thief-proof. With no need to carry money, armed robberies decreased dramatically. Living in the world had become safer for all.

Gordon’s next big app — MedApp — consolidated, transferred and updated personal medical information again at the scan of an eye or press of a finger. At both voice and computerized instrument commands, the app captured procedures as well as validated that the procedures actually occurred.

Medicaid and Medicare scams ended. Hospitals and physicians, clinics and all other health care organizations were monitored and paid instantly by insurance companies as well as the federal health care providers.

Billions were saved due to Gordon’s MedApp.

And that’s when his name broke into the bigtime, and Gordon Feltzer became known as App Man.

He was on the cover of Time Magazine; all over the computer and software trade rags; and ended up in the national news — as well as all of the cable news companies — for nearly a solid month due to stories researching the boon to not only the country, but the world, as a result of his work.

Once asked by a reporter how he had come up with his ideas, Gordon replied, “I think of something that seems rather fantastic, and say to myself, ‘Why the hell not?'”

When asked about who inspired him, he grinned and said, “Tony Stark — Iron Man.”

And so he built his Shangri-La; his Elysium; not to get away from the world, but to reflect upon it, and dream of how to improve it — make it more Edenic for all.

Today was the final testing and launch of this third app — the one that would revolutionize fitness, social networking, and expand everyone’s ability to improve their physical and personal lives: iFit for iLens.

“Prototype, please,” he said when he approached his work space. A robotic arm fastened to the wall above the space reed and rawed its angular pathway to a drawer, opened it, and extracted a simple pair of glasses. The arm carefully extended the glasses to Gordon.

“Thank you, Marilyn,” he said, taking the glasses and putting them on.

“You’re welcome, Gordon.”


A wall panel slid up and reversed, revealing a mirror.

“Close up, please.”

The mirror warped into a concave shape, slowly toggling between two magnified reflections of his face.

“That one. That’s fine.”

He adjusted the frames on his nose, moving the temples slightly on his ears.

“Lenses on.”

Tiny blue beams of lights projected from the middle of each lens, scanning the iris of both eyes.

“Identity confirmed,” said Marilyn.

“Screen check,” Gordon murmured.

The lenses filled with stereo-optic screens, populating with fields and columns on the outside edges of the lenses, leaving Gordon a clear view through the glasses to his actual field of vision.

“Top news,” he said softly.

Immediately news headlines filled the screens from pre-selected sources. A Bulgarian flight missing over the Atlantic. Trouble in Nigeria due to more terrorism. President Connelly explaining a breakdown of communications between the Oval Office and one of his cabinet members.

“Weather — local,” he breathed.

The weather channel popped up and began listing the forecast for his area.


It switched to the national map, with a pert, sexy meteorologist explaining the various diagrams of weather patterns.

Gordon then walked over to a rectangular treadmill — similar to those used in exercise spas — and stepped on it.

“Engage iFit,” he ordered.

“Engaging. What activity do you want today, Gordon?” asked Marilyn.

“Um, healthy walk — about four and a half miles an hour.”

“And where would you like to walk?”

“The Sedona Trail would be nice, I think.”

“Excellent choice. Temperatures in the mid seventies, with a slight cooling breeze out of the southwest at about five to seven miles per hour. Humidity is negligible. And will you be walking alone, or would you prefer a companion?”


“Male or female?”

“What do you think?”

” Female companion. Someone you’ve walked with before?”

“Let’s try someone new. The last one was a bit chatty, and a bit forward.”

“I didn’t like her, either.”

“You don’t particularly like any of them, Marilyn!”

“I don’t like competition.”

“Who could ever compete with you?”

“What part of the country?”

“Northwest. Seattle or Portland. The women are more into fitness — more focused.”

“Connecting to Portland. Alyssa Walters, 23, airline pilot. Five-two, one-hundred six pounds. Auburn hair. Stanford grad.”

“Sounds good.”

“Oh — one moment, Gordon. There’s a call coming through before we connect with Alyssa.”

“Who the hell is it?” he replied, irritated at the delay.

“It’s your mother.”

“Tell her I’m busy.”

“You’ve ignored the last five phone calls from her due to being busy. You really ought to talk to her this time.”

“Jeesh, Marilyn! You sound like a wife!”


The lens screen blinked, and Gordon’s mother appeared, her face filling up the area.

“Gordo — are you there? It’s your mother, Gordo. I’ve been trying to reach you for the longest time and you’re always busy!”

“Yes, Mom, I’m here. And please call me Gordon, for chrissakes!”

“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, Gordo. I’m your mother — I birthed you — I raised you — I can call you whatever I goddam want to call you.”

“Okay. What’s up? I’ve got my final testing and launch today, Mom. I really don’t have much time.”

“No time for your own mother? Really? Well here’s why I’m calling, Mr. Too-busy-for-his-mother: the shower you bought me has been installed!”

“Really? That’s great! Have you used it yet?”

“Whaddaya mean, have I used it? I’m using it now!”

“You’re in the shower now?”

“Yeah! Watch — cameras, zoom out!”

His mother’s face suddenly shrank on the screen as the cameras in her shower pulled away for a long shot.

“Oh, God! Mother! Jeesh! CAMERAS — ZOOM IN!” he shouted quickly.

The briefly exposed wet nude body of his seventy-five-year-old mother quickly disappeared as the cameras focused in on her face.

“MA! I didn’t need to see that! God, it’s gonna be stuck in my head for years! Probably have to call my shrink over this!”

“Well, that’s the thanks I get for thanking you for this incredible gift!”

“I’m really glad you like it — but — oh, Mom!”

“Okay, Mr.-I’m-embarrassed-at-my-mother, I’ll get off the call. I’d say it would have been better to wait until you called me, but that might not be until I’m in my grave!”

“No, promise. I’ll call you when I get through today — Promise!”

“Promises, schmomises. I won’t hold my breath. Good-bye, Gordo.”

“Gordon!” he shouted back as the call disconnected. “Marilyn! Did you know my mom was in the buff?”

“Gordon — think about it — why would I do that to you?”

“Yeah. Why would you? Okay, connect me with Alyssa.”

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 24 July, 2014

App Man – or, Gordo the virtual hero, chapter 1

23 Jul

App Man


Gordo the Virtual Hero

Chapter 1: It’s a brand new day

 by L. Stewart Marsden

The aromas of freshly brewed coffee mixed with frying bacon awoke Gordon from his early morning dreams. He slowly cracked the lids of his non-pillowed eye and let it focus on the Monet hanging on his bedroom wall directly next to the bed.

“Up and at ‘em!” chirped a sultry voice. “Time to tackle the world!”

“Ugh, Marilyn. Five more, please?”

“You instructed me to dissuade you from returning to sleep, Gordon. Remember what you asked me to do if you didn’t comply.”

Gordon’s open eye strayed up from the Monet to the water sprinkler positioned just above his head on the ceiling.

“Okay. I’m up, dammit!”

Gordon threw off the blanket and bed sheet, sat up, then swung his legs robot-like over the side of the bed.

“It’s seven oh five. Outside temp is 76 degrees, and humidity is 10 percent. No chance of rain. Final testing and product launch is scheduled for oh-nine hundred,” Marilyn said in a breathy voice.

“Thanks. I’m on it.”

Gordon walked into the bathroom, shedding his pajamas and dropping them into a laundry basket, then entered the shower.

“Brisk and warm, please,” he said, and water sprayed him from the ceiling and three sides of the shower.

“Body wash.” The water was replaced with a scented liquid, which foamed when it struck his body.

“Rinse. A bit cooler, please.”

Water replaced the wash, and his pudgy body glistened with the liquid shine.

“Air dry, please.”

Blowers, again from the ceiling and three sides gradually evaporated the water on his body as he turned slowly.

“Any particular outfit today? I like you au naturel,” Marilyn cooed.

“Jogging shorts and a T,” he replied. “You choose.”

He opened a double closet door and pulled out the shorts and T-shirt, then sat on a bathroom bench and donned his socks and athletic shoes.

“And what would you like with your coffee and bacon,” Marilyn asked. “Moi?”

“Always you,” Gordon laughed. “Two three-minute soft-boiled on whole wheat. Hold the butter. And a slice of fresh honeydew.”

“Orange juice?”

“No thanks.”

Gordon walked into the breakfast nook, a stainless steel table and bench inserted into a closet-like space that protruded from an exterior wall. It was walled in glass, and overlooked the deep canyon below. From his perch, Gordon could see for miles into the adjacent national park, and relish in its spectacular beauty.

A cart moved remotely from the kitchen to the breakfast table, with Gordon’s breakfast on clear crystal plates and coffee cup.

He began to eat his eggs.

“Financials. Today’s position, please.”

“I’m retrieving today’s financial position,” said Marilyn. “Oh, you’re going to like this!”

“Will I? Where am I?”

“You’ve climbed to the five-hundred three position. That’s eighty-seven places better than this time last week.”

“Yeah, but it’s still not in the top five hundred,” Gordon sputtered, sipping his coffee. “Buffett needs to watch his back for me.”

“I like his songs, especially Margaritaville.”

Warren, Marilyn. Not Jimmy. Really, don’t act so blonde. You’re programmed to be a lot smarter.”

“Is the glass always half-empty with you, Gordon?” Marilyn asked sweetly. “Five-hundred third in the world is not chopped liver.”

“Want me to reprogram you, Marilyn?”

“Sorry, Gordon.”

“My goal is within the top one hundred — in the world. I thought I’d be there sooner.”

“Perhaps if the final testing and project launch are successful, you will!”

“There’s no perhaps at all — and I will get to the top hundred. Perhaps even the top ten,”

“So the glass is half full after all!”

“The glass is always full, Marilyn. Combination of water and air.”

“You are so clever, Gordon!”

“I know.”

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 23 July, 2014

Why I no longer show who is following my blog

21 Jul

Why I no longer post who is following my blog


I really enjoy knowing that people out there in Blogland like and follow my work. It is gratifying, boosts my aging ego and encourages me to continue adding to my repertoire of writing.

What I don’t care for are the now multiple business blogs that like or follow my blog in hopes to pick up a customer.

When a person follows my blog, I make it a point to visit that blog site to thank that person for deciding my work is valuable enough to them that they want to get notifications of my uploads.

I know everything I write is not for everyone. Not even for me. For example, I’m not too keen on posting this particular blog.

What prompted this post is that I received a notification of a follow from a blog site that contains explicit pornography.

I just recently posted a piece my 9-year-old granddaughter wrote. If I publicized those that follow me, and she were to go onto my site and inadvertently click on that site’s symbol — WHOA! Papa Skip! What’s this?

I also had a teacher who wanted to use my poem “The first step” as part of the graduation ceremonies for her GED class. She wanted to post a link to my blog on her own teacher’s website.

Again — WHOA! Etc.

Unless you can tell me differently, there is no way to block someone or some company from following you. And if you use the widget that lists those that follow your blog, there’s a good chance that follower could appear on your front page. And if it appears on your front page, it’s tantamount to an endorsement by you.

So, if you are using the widget that displays followers, you might want to make sure that you are okay with the content of that follower’s blog, because it could work its way to your home page, and you would be endorsing that site.

To all the folk that have followed my work — or are not businesses or not explicit pornographic sites — thanks for the follow, but understand why I’m not opting to display the icons of followers.

I can’t do anything about those who “like” my work — but do wish I could. My granddaughter, you know.

No offense to those businesses and porno blogs meant.

SM (which does not stand for “sadomasochist”)



I did  comment on the pornographic site and requested that they unfriend me, and explained why. Within a few minutes they complied.

Caught in the middle

21 Jul






Caught in the middle

by L. Stewart Marsden


She felt the monstrous manimal
bear down upon her spot –
encircled by the trembling ground
realizing she was caught
she quickly popped inside her shell
retracting head and feet,
and as the beast roared overhead,
withheld final relief until the last
when she was barely nicked,
sent spinning to her back
and finally stopped,
upside down,
in the middle of the track,
and manimals — all size and shape –
zoomed close on either side
and roared their roars
and spat their fumes
while she had no place where she could hide;
but taking toll she did decide
to wait it out until the dark
when manimals would be far less
and she could then resume progress
across the blackened trail.

She had heard her father’s father rail
about the monstrous beasts,
of the long and longer passed down tales
over his and his father’s life;
how the manimals became such dangerous foe
which their fartherest fathers did never know;
who were free from concern and could easily go
anywhere with no fear of attack or surprise,
and could live their long lives in relative peace
and think of only the basics of life
with no worry or mulling or thoughts of strife.

She ignored the passed-down stories
and set her nose and feet west
where she heard from the birds
that the succulents grow best;
and she now had a mother’s urge
surpassing all her reason,
to journey to a place where
she could find a sweet creek
shadowed by a tall willow
and soft, sunned sand
that had grown through the years
from the rock and the pebbles
and provided the perfect new home
for her not-yet-born urchlings
who’d feed upon moss
and juicy large leaflets
and grubs and cocoons
and soft pulpy roots
from sunup to noon –
then lay on a rock with the hot sun above,
lingering lazily with no care or no –


A manimal stirred her awake from her reveried thoughts
and she protruded her head, and angled aright,
and realized the day had sunk low into night and that
now was the time — the moment had come
to get out of the middle
and move on to the home she had dreamed of before –
and nothing could stop her, not manimals nor
the fear of the future
for nothing could hurt her — only herself
if she stayed in the middle
stuck there, afraid,
so she valiantly, courageously, determinedly made
the very first step in the dark of that night
to carry her from an existence of fright
to that place by the creek
where she and her urchlings could thrive –
and more than exist –
and more than survive.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 21 July, 2014


Life is good; Death is bad

19 Jul




Life is good; Death is bad

by L. Stewart Marsden


Life is good,
and so it is
for those precious few
who land in time and place –
selected to enjoy the best
of wine and food and song
and nothing wrong can be
detected in their rich, full lives.

Death is bad
for in its silencing of those that
have been dealt
that full, full hand
of Aces, Kings and Queens,
it intervenes their pleasure quests
and lowers them into a place
much less than best or good.

And then the mass
who have, alas not benefitted
from a life of good,
who would rather say
that life is bad,
and had a different sway on death –
when breathing out that last life’s breath:
Death is good.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 19 July, 2014

Poorly-drawn self sketches: Difficulty reading the bathroom scales

18 Jul




Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 18 July, 2014


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