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IMG_1832My childhood days were back in the days when a technological phenomenon forever made its mark on human history.  Both the engineering sector and the entertainment world were ecstatic about the invention and development of this game-changing industry.  It was dubbed television.

Now, the world of media could beam actual images into the homes around the world.  People could have their imaginations stirred, stimulated and manipulated.  Human creativity was unleashed on the fertile imaginations of the public.

Brilliant minds began to create stories to accomplish those purposes.  They invented characters and scenarios in the world of fiction that terrified the minds of any who saw their show.  Even in black and white, one of those movies left a lasting impression on my mind.

The title to this story was simply The Birds.  Alfred Hitchcock was the creator.  His stories etched their presence in my mind and in the memories of so many.

In a small town a weird phenomenon occurred.  For some bizarre reason the birds began to attack humans.  They were countless in number and relentless in their pursuit.

Terrified people ran for cover.  They took shelter in cars, shops and telephone booths.  If you do not know what the last place is, ask your grandparents.

Birds smashed windows, sacrificed their lives to break into havens of safety sought by people in order to give their counterparts access to wreak havoc on the town’s population. In one horrific scene the birds attacked one of their victims and gouged out his eyes.  That was shocking TV back in its day.

Now, I arrive in the parking lot of a neighborhood store.  When I step out my mind is reliving that movie in real life.  The IMG_1833trees that line the parking lot are alive.

No it is not just that they are green and growing. Rather, they serve as a perch for hundreds of birds.  These large black birds with long tails have gathered.

These feathered animals are not quiet.  Instead, they fill the evening air with a cacophony of their calling, chirping and cawing.  It is loud, nearly deafening and reminiscent of The Birds.

A small chill races down my spine.  It is a momentary remembering of the scenes still so vivid in a child’s mind now toying with the reality of a real moment.  Time to shake it off and find safety in a building with few glass windows and solid brick walls.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_1408A sickening killing melee opens the movie.  Some nut-case unloads a half a dozen rounds from a parking structure on the citizens of Pittsburgh.  He is shooting across the river to people enjoying the day.

It is disturbing to be peering through the scope of an assassins rifle, watching as he sets the crosshairs on unsuspecting, innocent civilians.  This normal reaction by law-abiding people is the basis for a story that digs up our national desire to see justice meted out on those who are wicked.  Now, we want the story on the screen to give us a solution to the tension that has been generated in our minds.

This is the heart of good story telling.  Raise a need in the minds of those who hear a story and give them a reason to expect a solution that will be satisfying to them.  Race from option to option, tantalize their appetite for a quick resolve with misdirection.  

Most importantly, as a villain is taking shape on the silver screen, be sure to bring a hero who will save the day.  Make him bright, capable, clever and vulnerable at the same time.  Throw in some swashbuckling action and you have a story that will bring some good entertainment to the audience who has paid for an enjoyable matinée.

The tragic shooting of five seemingly random innocents impassioned the city to demand that city law enforcement find the killer.  Swiftly and methodically, the detective in charge of the investigation has an arrest in record time, a mere 18 hours a prime suspect is in custody.  Watching the collection of evidence  and the detective work unfold is impressive.

A city is relieved and the police are heralded as heroes.  But, the suspect injects a twist into the story.  There is no confession just a handwritten note for outside help, a stranger, a mysterious individual who is not even a friend: Jack Reacher.

His background, training, skills, mysterious episodes as intrigue to the solution of the case.  There is seemingly betrayal, tempting romance, swashbuckling action, novel twists, suspicions that prove false and a surprise ending that begs for a sequel if not a series.

It is comic-bookish invention of a near superhero.  Mental acumen is his superpower.  The story is entertaining, the movie is worth a look, I enjoyed it with my family during our holiday ventures.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_1283In the past three days I have been on the road for a total of ten driving hours.  For professional drivers that’s nothing.  But, for a guy like me, it’s bizarre. 

Today I’m sore in places that I didn’t even know that I had nerve endings.  Flying by plane just isn’t cost-effective.  Afterall, once you get someplace by plane, how are you going to get around?

Necessity and a busy schedule jammed several appointments into a small window of time.  I am not a road warrior.  In fact I would rather not drive if other options were available.

But, as the old saying goes, “You gotta do what you gotta do.”  That is some sort of Chinese saying, I’m sure.  We who are committed to our promises keep them and do whatever it takes to fulfill them.

For me the driving was a simply a means to a great end.  Getting there was an opportunity to do what builds integrity, keeping my word.  Neither circumstances nor opposition will prevent me from making good on my promises.

But, no one ever said that the journey has to be boring or painful.  Resourceful minds can make the drudgery of driving a pleasant experience.  For me one of the creative additions is music.

My rig is equipped with satellite radio, a 6 CD player, external port for an iPod.  We have a long list of favorite songs that we have purchased on i-tunes.  My Country with my brides’ Pop makes for a splendid combination.

But, for this special time of the year, it’s Christmas music that we line up in our sound system to float the hours of travel away.  Carried in the air of snow, tinsel and family we sing-a-long with classic favorites.  Some are funny like “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” that is always a smile endorser.

Of course there are moving ones like “Christmas Shoes” that I posted a few days back.  But, our most favorite Christmas songs of all tell the real story of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus born in a manger.  That story gives real meaning to the celebration around the world.

I have my favorite artists from years-gone-by as well as modern composers and musicians.  But, the ancient story is the true story and never gets old.  Christmas is my favorite time of the year and the genuine story makes it so.  Merry Christmas! 

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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