Murphy and Associates

Gregory sat alone in the offices of ‘Murphy and Associates’. A dilapidated building in as great a ruin as the law firm it housed. Gregory Murphy had no associates. Nor did he have any clients. Someone had once tried to console him, “You may not be the best lawyer, but if they were handing out prizes for the worst you’d defiantly win!”

“I wish,” Gregory thought to himself, “if they did hand out prizes at least I’d have something to show for 20 years in the legal game.”

Gregory had been a lawyer for little over 20 years and in that time had never won a case. He was without a doubt the greatest bungler in legal history. Once in a cross examination of a confessed thief he managed to instil such doubt in the juries mind that the criminal was released! He’d lost count of the number of times he’d arrived at the wrong court room or brought the wrong papers with him. He knew it himself, he simply wasn’t cut out for law. It was time to give up.

Gregory stood up from behind his clumsily organised desk and walked towards the door. The sign which was to welcome folks in read ‘closed’ from his side of the door. He took it in order to turn it but it came off in his hand. The suction cup which kept it attached to the glass had come unstuck. Dejected, Gregory simply tossed it aside towards a near by waste paper basket. He missed.

Gregory slouched so heavily that his head was almost lost inside his chest. He opened the door and walked out, never to return.

***

Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Write about a time everything did — fiction encouraged here, too!

Daily Prompt: In defence of Clichés!

Clichés become clichés for a reason. Tell us about the last time a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush for you.

I think people give clichés a hard time. Seriously, lighten up. We love to say, “Oh that’s such a cliché.” without realising that in complaining about clichés we are becoming the monster we bemoan.

But that’s not my point. My point is this:

Clichés are clichés for a reason.

Generally clichés have become clichés for one of two reasons; both are reason enough to stop giving them such a hard time.

Man holding Tower of Pisa up.

This is a cliché. It’s still fun to do though!

Reason numero uno: Because they are true. Take the cliché that comes in the prompt. Is a bird in hand worth two in the bush? Well, yes. It’s great advice because it carries a weight of truth.

Raison d’être part de second: Over usage. Is this really a reason to run a cliché down? For starters, clichés that are over used tend to be overused because the work well. Aside from that, when can we really say too much is too much? Perhaps for someone it isn’t overused. Is it still a cliché for them?

So stop complaining about clichés, let them slide, perhaps learn from their ability to withstand the test of time.

People who use clichés on the other hand, now that’s a different story.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward (an Up)

20130222-222001.jpg
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. For me it represents mankind’s constant pursuit of going further and higher. It’s the next step forward.

Remarkably it is nearly 300meters taller than the previous record holder which was an incredible jump, far beyond simple incremental growth.

This photograph was taken by a friend of mine who lives in Dubai during a thunder storm.

Part of DailyPost’s Weekly Photo Challenge

Daily Bread: Seconds

Describe the most satisfying meal you’ve ever eaten in glorious detail.

sgt pepper millAnything with Jalapeños in it. Seriously. I’m contemplating finely chopping them and drizzling them over my cornflakes of a morning. Is there anything they can’t improve?

Perhaps I’m on to something here…we seem to have developed a taste for salt and pepper to such an extent that we assume they should be on the table to accompany every meal, why not a little ‘Jalapeño Pepper Mill’?

Here are two suggested recipes for using Jalapeños in meals you might not think:

Cheese and Jalapeños on toast – Simply intersperse your usual ‘grilled cheese’ with delicious Jalapeños. My favourite is mature cheddar on white bread. Toast the bread lightly before applying the cheese evenly. Grill until the cheese begins to melt then add the Jalapeños. When the cheese begins to brown you’re good to go!

Spicy Bolognese – Simply make (or purchase) your standard bolognese and add truck loads of Jalapeños from a jar. I suggest using jar Jalapeños for this recipe as the water they are stored in adds a little something to the recipe too. Perhaps make it for a friend who doesn’t like spice in their food but don’t tell them! It will at least give you something to laugh about later.

Does anyone else use Jalapeños in everything they cook? What’s the weirdest place you’ve used (and enjoyed!) them?

Daily Prompt: InstaScam [Undo]

If you could un-invent something, what would it be? Discuss why, potential repercussions, or a possible alternative.

This is an easy one, an opportunity to wax lyrical about a pet hate of mine. Instagram.

First, a few things I do like…

  • Sharing photos – anyone who is friends with me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter will know that I’m constantly posting pictures of my family, events I attend or things that amuse me.
  • Twitter – yep, it’s my favourite social network, it’s where I interact with people I care most about, find news items that might interest me and generally spend my social networking time. Facebook is more a place for me to store photos and organise events.
  • Filters – I’m no idiot. I know your toast looks more delicious with a bit of vintage grunge applied.

So why do I hate Instagram? Why do I wish that it was un-invented? Well there’s a historic reason and there’s a more up-to-date reason too…

Toast

Toast captured in an Instagram Square Filter of Doom – from katiedeaves

Historic – I’ve never been able to figure out why Instagram insists on squaring off all your photos? What’s the deal? Who’s ever heard of square photographs? Certainly not the good people who print photographs in 6×4 or alike. Certainly not the people who developed the portrait vs. landscape screen I view the pictures on. Why, oh why must all Instagram pictures be squared off!?!

This is even more mind-boggling when you consider that for quite some time it was a iPhone only app. Are there people walking around with square iPhones I don’t know about?

Up-to-date – One of the features I love about Twitter is when links (such as WordPress blog posts or YouTube videos) preview at the bottom of the tweet. It helps to decide whether you’re going to click-through or not. In the case of pictures displayed using something like pic.twitter.com url’s it negates having to click-through at all! So when a service like Instagram decides to rescind that function I get, “like totz annoyed.”

So what would happen if it got ‘un-invented’? Well, to pay Instagram it’s dues, it did pave the way for the photo filter craze. Some may see that as a bad thing but as I’ve already said I quite like it. If Instagram hadn’t taken off as it did I doubt Twitter would have filter integration and the Facebook camera app wouldn’t exist. Both those things would be a real shame.

But as an alternative here’s what I’d recommend. Firstly, if you use an iPhone and Facebook, get the Facebook camera app. It’s as good as all the actual Facebook apps have been bad. In my book it’s the best designed app on the iPhone. If I then want to post those pictures on Twitter to then they are right there in my camera roll (in their original aspect ratio!) for me to post. Simple.

If you don’t use Facebook, then why not just stick to the filters bundled with the Twitter app? Okay, they aren’t the best, but neither is your photography. Seriously, it just isn’t that good. The benefit is I can recognize that without having to click-through some links.

If you do either of these things I’ll be eternally grateful 🙂

A Word Paints a Thousand Pictures: Image vs. Text

They say a picture paints a thousand words. There’s plenty to be said on that front. But it’s true also to say that:

a word paints a thousand pictures.

Do you know what I mean? When I say winter, a picture (or pictures) immediately jump into my mind. They’re probably totally different to the pictures that jump into your mind.

In this post I want to share 5 images/thoughts that spring to my mind when I hear the word,  ‘Chicago.’

delicious deep pan Chicago pizza

all rights reserved aymane.hamahmy – flickr

Firstly, it has to be the pizza. Chicago town pizza is brand that is pretty successful in the UK. Their microwavable mini-pizza’s kept me going through university so I think I’ll always feel a debt of gratitude to the great city of Chicago for giving us great pizzas.

Confession time: I’m actually a bigger fan of thin Italian bases than I am of the deep dish 😮

Al Capone Portrait

all rights reserved che1899 – flickr

Secondly, I think of Al Capone the infamous gangster. He was from Chicago right? Specifically I think about the Valentines Day massacre that I learnt about in school. In my mind’s eye he’s the quintessential gangster, setting the standard for all others to adhere to. The Valentines Day massacre particularly sticks in my mind because of the juxtaposition of emotions that the event conjures.

I was also fascinated to find out that Capone was finally arrested and convicted not for bootlegging, murder, or anything of that nature. Instead he was finally brought to justice for…tax evasion.

Album art from Sufjan Stevens'

Chicago is in Illinois right?

Thirdly, I think of the Sufjan Stevens song (and the album artwork from Come on Feel the Illinoise). Interestingly the album art includes I figure I’ve  always assumed to be Al Capone. I’m happy to be corrected on that one.

Sufjan’s song is a favourite of mine and it’s one that I often share with friends I’m trying to turn onto Steven’s as it’s one of his more accessible tracks.

two men kayaking on the green Chicago river

all rights reserved Jonathan Wood – flickr

Fourthly, I think of the Chicago river running green every March 17th. It seems from a distant observer that St.Patrick’s Day is of far more significance on the US side of the Atlantic than the British.

St. Patrick’s Day tends to be around the same time of year that we in the UK celebrate Comic Relief. So I’ve got some fun associations with this in my mind.

Barack Obama on the Cover of Time Magazine

all rights reserved Tony Fischer – flickr

Fifthly, and finally, I can but think of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. The little that we learn of him this side of the pond includes the fact that he was Senator for Illinois before running for President.

It’s funny that in the UK Obama is considered nothing short of a hero yet I guess no-one could tell you why that is. I think he’s so well loved over here not for who he is but for who he’s not. George W. Bush.

#Part of the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge#

Daily Prompt: Plain Old Gio…as Odd as the Next Guy

…tell us at least six unique, exciting, or just plain odd things about yourself.

[Note this isn’t about me, the blog author, this is about Gio, a character in a novel I’m writing who I previously wrote about for another daily prompt here]

I guess other people view me in one of 3 ways. Either they think I’m a freak who they want to belittle, or I’m a celebrity they want to rub shoulders with, or I’m just another guy like one of them. The thing that makes them view me like that has very little to do with my life or who I really am, it’s all down to the fact that I’m a special and I have an ability.

Other specials just see me as plain old Gio…as odd as the next guy. But people without abilities either hold us up or want to smash us down. I guess that’s the way it’s going to be for a while until everyone uncovers a special in their family tree.

So here’s 6 things that people looking in from the outside probably don’t realise:

  1. My ability to ‘see’ smells is a blessing and a curse. It means that smells are twice as strong for me as the rest of you. Too much even of a good thing can make you feel queasy.
  2. Smells I end up liking tend to be greenish in colour while smells I dislike appear more of a redish brown.
  3. All smells are a mixture of colours…a bit like a tie-dye shirt.
  4. I don’t want to take over the world. People always assume that specials want to get together so they can take over. Half the specials in your street don’t even want you to know about their abilities let alone use them to enslave you. In any case  have you ever met a special with an ability that was actually useful?!
  5. My real name is Glenn.
  6. I have webbed toes (not really :p  )

Daily Prompt: Mmmm, Mento’s

Have you ever had a mentor? What was the greatest lesson you learned from him or her?

men·tor  – /ˈmenˌtôr/
Noun: An adviser.
Verb: To advice or train (someone).
Synonyms: adviser, preceptor, monitor, counsellor, tutor.

The best advice I’ve ever been given was from my father. To put it in context my father has given me a lot of advice, as have numerous other people, but for the most part it’s ‘in one ear and out the other’ with me. So much so that I’d struggle to list 10 pieces of advice I’ve previously been given. This means the advice I do remember, vividly, must be the best I’ve heard. Or at least it’s the advice I’ve taken most to heart.

It goes a little something like this:

If you don’t ask you don’t get.

The fact that this, above all other pearls of wisdom, has stayed with me probably says more about me than the advice itself. Nonetheless it’s great advice. Often we’re too afraid to simply ask for something; help, directions, a second helping, advice! If we’re not careful we can go through life without ever asking for anything. Some might say that’s a good thing, to be self sufficient.  I say we all need others and when we neglect to ask others we’re the ones who miss out.

Thanks dad, I’ll always ask. Sometimes people will say no. Too bad. But sometimes I’ll get that bigger potion, sometimes I’ll carry a lighter load, sometimes I’ll live a fuller life. All because you advised me too, because you’ve been a mentor.

The Clock – (150 Words or Less)

Write about anything you’d like. Somewhere in your post, include the sentence, “I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock.” 

Time was running out. Hell, I didn’t even know how much I had to begin with, but I was sure by now my hourglass was empty.

It’s funny how we’re content to let time tick by, hour by hour, day by day. We’re careful with money, which comes and goes, but our precious time we treat far too loosely.

Now my time was gone. I was on borrowed time and I was just waiting for someone to come collect.

Another car drove by and I twitched at the curtains again. Not this time.

If I knew what it would cost I never would have gotten in so deep. But that’s how some people make a living and how some people end up dead, we forget to count the cost.

I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. Time up.