Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Confessions of a (minor) Earthquake Survivor

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This has been the world for the past few weeks, then we had to up the ante here in Utah.

If you live near a fault, perhaps you’ve heard that there is a “big one” coming, meaning an earthquake. I’m located near Salt Lake City, Utah, and have been told my entire life that the “big one” is coming.

My father-in-law is a geologist, and loves to tell people all about how a twenty foot chasm will appear when the fault goes, and the mountains above it will slide down to fill the gap, causing even more shaking.

Trust me, don’t ask him unless you want to know a whole lot of stuff you probably don’t want to know.

Anyway, I’ve never been afraid of earthquakes. It’s always been tornadoes that scare the crap out of me. After seeing a few when I lived in Colorado, and even seeing the one that hit Salt Lake City a few decades ago, the stupid things give me nighmares.

Last Wednesday, right around 7:10am, we experienced a 5.7 earthquake with the epicenter about five miles from our house.

Last week was the first week in a month that I’ve gotten up on time, which is 7am for me. I’d been sick with a chest cold, but had finally gotten back to my normal routine.

So there I was, sitting on the toilet (besides being in the shower, there aren’t many less desirable places to be), when the room rattled once.

My mind flew into action.

Earthquake!

I did distract from the pandemic…

Then the room really started to shake. I was surprised how loud it was. I watched the pictures on the wall, thinking I was glad most of them were Velcroed in place.

Then I started screaming. Well, more of yell, like “Ahhhh!”

The first panic thought was, “Is this the big one?”

The second thought was, “Well, this is the hubby’s fault.” Just a few days before he’d been laughing and saying the worst thing that could happen right now would be an earthquake that wiped out a good chunk of the valley, forcing the survivors to live in rescue camps where Covid19 would then run rampant.

The third thought was, “On the toilet? Really?”

About that time, it shook my husband awake. By the time he got out of bed and ran down the hall, the shaking had stopped.

The shaking lasted 30 to 45 seconds. Tops.

And what did I do?

I froze! I didn’t think about getting off the toilet, or diving for cover, or anything like that. Nope. I froze.

Once the shaking stopped I did ask myself if I should fill the bathtub with water, in case everything was broken, but the hubby ran downstairs and verified that all the pipes were fine.

This is the first earthquake over maybe a 3.5 that I’ve ever felt. My heart was racing the whole day, and I swear I felt every single aftershock. One was in the 4.0 -4,5 range, and it totally freaked me out. At least that time I grabbed my phone and ran for a doorway.

I haven’t dealt with a fear response like that in a long time, if ever! Elevated heart rate. Anxiety every time the furnace came on or a car drove by. The muscles in my body would not relax. I was wound as tight as a drum. Now I know how that feels!

It’s almost been a week, and the aftershocks are still going on. I felt one yesterday, and went into a mini-version of freaking out again.

If this is how it feels to have anxiety, I’m REALLY sorry for all those who have to deal with it. My brain knows I’m fine, but something, somewhere isn’t convinced.

They say people who get motion sickness often experience after-earthquake anxiety. I guess that’s me.

On top of the Covid19 madness going on around us, this wasn’t a thing any of us wanted to deal with. Especially as we called our neighbors and made sure everyone was okay, but we weren’t really supposed to go visit anyone because of social distancing.

Talk about strange times.

I do think I have a better idea of how people will respond in an emergency, so that’s good, right? That’s a writing thing.

So, if you’ve been freaking out lately, you’re not alone. Just take a few deep breaths, find something that makes you laugh, and then get to work.

Caveat: I don’t have kids, just the hubby and I, so there’s much less stress in this house than many around me. Good luck people! May the odds ever be in your favor!


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20-Mar-2020

The Purple Man is Creepy.

I don’t like him.

Long ago, when the world was dark, someone invented light.

Not the sun and the moon in the sky. Not even the glow that came from fire. No. This light was different.

It was contained in a small, glass orb, and could bring illumination to a place without gas or fire or the sun.

The light spread quickly, giving safety and peace wherever it went.

During this time, the Purple Man lived.

Neither his hair nor his skin was purple. No, he liked to wear purple.

Purple waist coat. Purple trousers. Purple shirt. Purple cravat or tie. Purple buttons. Even purple socks.

All different shades of purple.

But his shoes he left white. So white that they gleamed in any light, but most especially in the globes of light. And with such hard soles that they clicked wherever he walked.

His short, pointed goatee matched his shoes, as did his white hair that sat under his, you guessed it, purple hat.

The Purple Man—no one called him anything different—bought an old courthouse. He hired men and machine to tear it down to the foundation and build it again. Only instead of using bricks, he used metal.

He called it the Heavy Metal Theater, because the whole place was made of, well, metal.

People are curious, so they flocked to the theater to see the spectacles that the Purple Man promised: musicians, freaks of nature, astounding acrobatics, and the lights.

Each night the crowds would file into the metal lobby, follow the long red rug to the theater, then be escorted to their cold, metal seats that creaked when the bottom hinged down so they could sit.

The Purple Man rented purple cushions for the seats for a mere penny a piece.

Once the crowd settled, the Purple Man would welcome them. Pacing across the stage, clicking his shoes on the metal surface, and introducing the act for the evening.

As he did so, he looked at his guests. Met each of their eyes. As if extending them a very personal welcome.

Instead, he was looking for a certain someone.

A certain someone who had swindled him out of an arm.

Not his own arm. Certainly not, they were still quite attached.

No, this was a fake arm that his grandmother, Dorothy, had procured during a séance. Someone had stolen it from her, and the Purple Man wanted it back.

Needed it back.

Whomever had taken a fake arm would be drawn to the unusual, the Purple Man had mused, which is why he had started the Heavy Metal Theater. Everything about it was unusual. People loved what made them a little uncomfortable.

After almost a year of shows, the thief finally appeared.

She wore a beautiful red dress and held the arm of a man in stylish clothing that was usually seen on the very rich. One of her arms was very stiff, and covered to the tips of her fingers.

The Purple Man went through his routine, meeting everyone’s gaze, and marking where the couple sat. He made certain the won a contest for a free show the next week, and began to plan.

He needed to get that arm back, and couldn’t get caught in the act of stealing it. So he came up with a plan so dastardly that the devil himself would be green with envy.

When the couple returned the next week, the Purple Man was ready. He gave them front row seats and instructed the magicians to use her in their tricks.

A slight panic filled him when at first she refused, but the magician gallantly entreated her, and her companion urged her to participate. The Purple Man breathed a sigh of relief as she walked up on stage.

The trick was simple. Hypnotize her, levitate her, put her back down, and wake her up.

She would never know the arm had been switched.

The Purple Man waited under the stage, and the moment a dummy replaced the woman, he rushed to her prone form. His assistants helped get the old arm off and the new arm on.

The woman groaned in pain, but did not wake up.

The Purple Man held the arm close to his chest until she was once again raised back onto the stage.

His assistants looked at him with hope-filed eyes.

The arm, on sensing him, had warmed, and he could feel the power thrumming through it.

He gave his minions a nod. “We have it.”

They smiled.

Now they could go home.

***

This one is a stretch, but it’s all I could come up with! It’s more like a Doctor Who Episode than a Fairy Tale Retelling. Oops.

Genre – Fairy Tale Retelling in the Early 1900s

Character – The Purple Man

Setting – Courthouse Converted into a Heavy Metal Venue

Random Object – Prosthetic Arm Dorothy Won Off Another Resident in a Poker Game


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The Bones of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

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We’ve finally arrived at the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga!

Considering the rocky road we’ve been down, I’m pleased the movies got this far.

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V
Episode VI
Episode VII
Episode VIII

Let’s get to it!

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Click HERE to see my initial review of the film.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed this film, but it was forced to cover too much ground to undo the dumb things that happened in Episode 8.

The Bones:
Reveal the big bad.
Resolve the conflict between Rey and Kylo.
Have the good guys win.
If this is the Skywalker Saga, which Skywalker is Rising?
Is there balance in the Force?

Reveal the Big Bad

This happened in the first trailer for the movie, long before it came out. Palpatine’s laughter clearly echoed in the background. Somehow Darth Sidious is still around.

Personally, I think they did this so the fans wouldn’t think the filmmakers were trying to shoehorn in a new big bad.

After watching the entire series from start to finish again, I have to say that it wasn’t a terrible choice. Palpatine (Sidious’ clone) had been meddling since Episode I. Why not have the real Sith Lord manipulating things for longer than that?

After killing Snoke in Episode 8, I wasn’t sure what they’d do. It’s hard to say if this was their plan from the beginning of the sequels. If so, they could have given us a few clues throughout episodes 7 and 8. If not, where were they going with the big bad?

Resolve the Conflict Between Rey and Kylo

These two looked like they were heading straight for the typical light side vs. dark side conflict. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that wasn’t the case.

Rey
Kylo spills the beans (again) on Rey’s heritage, this time revealing that she’s a Palpatine. Naturally this hits Rey hard, especially after she rips a ship apart when she loses control and thinks she’s killed Chewie.

Kylo asks her to stay be his side and together kill the Emperor, er, Sidious. Like Luke before her, she refuses, and jumps.

Even through her little excursion through Palpatine’s chambers on the Death Star, Rey never really wavers. She sticks to her guns, so to speak, and makes it her goal to help Kylo see he’s better as Ben Solo.

Kylo
Between Rey and his mother, Leia, Kylo doesn’t have a chance.

Okay, he chooses to turn from his dark ways, but the people in his life are very…persuasive. I loved seeing Han again, even just for a second.

Kylo and Rey finally have it out on the remains of the Death Star, and Rey prevails, stabbing Kylo!

But wait, Leia uses that last of her life force to send her son one last push to come back to the light. Leia had been training Rey, so Rey feels the woman’s death as well.

In that moment of pain, Rey comforts Kylo, and heals his wounds, basically bringing him back from the dead. Kylo gets a ghost visit from his father, and finally decides to turn away from the whisperings of Sidious and once again be Ben Solo. (Did anyone else notice that Rey healed his scar?)

I am not going to lie to you, the scene when Ben comes to Rey’s rescue on Palpatine’s planet may be one of my favorite Star Wars scenes ever.

The bonding between the two force users was sometimes clumsy, but it was there. Him running recklessly in to help her is what Star Wars, and heroes, and friendship is all about.

I didn’t love Kylo’s end. I found him easily the most interesting character in this film, and was sad they gave him the easy way out. I’m a jerk. I know it.

Who is the big bad guy?
Can Rey defeat Kylo and the big bad guy? Even if she’s “no one?”

Have the Good Guys Win

Of course the good guys are going to win. This is Star Wars, for crying out loud! And the third film in the trilogy, to be exact.

Poe, Finn, and Chewie spend a lot of time running around the galaxy trying to keep this film moving. And it moves. Much to fast in some places, but that’s the product of having to not only pack so much in, but also fixing the mistakes of the past.

Lando is a pleasant addition to the finale.

The battle over the Sith planet is impressive. I thought the horse-things on the hull of the Star Destroyers was a bit much, but it did look cool. I loved the new characters, and hope to see them again soon.

Episode 8 left the rebels with no friends. Episode 9 brings them all back and then some.

For me this is actually a plot hole. Their arrival is timely, and awesome, but as a watcher, I had no idea people would come. Why would they? We have no indication that anyone supports Leia or the rebellion.

Sidious’ force lightning attack on the fleet was amazing! My inner fan girl squeed, and my writing brain said, “good show of just how much more powerful he is than anyone else.”

In the end the rebels finally get the control tower (why did they need the horses for that again?) and Rey bests Sidious. Not without sacrifice on all fronts.

If this is the Skywalker Saga, which Skywalker is Rising?

Uh, Rey adopts herself into the Skywalker family at the end. So it could be her. It could also be Ben, because he’s a Skywalker too.

I actually feel like the name doesn’t connect well to the movie, but that’s probably just me.

Is there balance in the Force?

This is the question they presented to us way back in Episode 1. The force is out of balance. Why?

I don’t think they actually addressed this in the film, but I could speculate that Sidious had been keeping things out of balance by being alive for so long and pulling so many strings. However, Rey is still around, and her powers seem to go both ways, so who knows?

As usual, I think this is the biggest thing they left hanging.

Maybe it’s in the comics.

As far as bones go, this film had more to do with covering the old bones than making new ones. Which works for the end of a nine film saga. I’m still disappointed that the final Star Wars film had to shoehorn in so much stuff, but they did a decent job.

I might have to watch this one again soon.

What about you? Did you like the end to the Skywalker Saga?


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13-Mar-2020

When old people get bored, find a spell book, and use it.

You’ve never seen comedy until you’ve seen an entire busload of assisted living gamblers trying to get off of their bus, find their luggage and get inside the casino.

No, really. Either they can’t hear or they can’t see. Or both. It’s inevitable that one of the men will be trying to impress one of the ladies by shouting at her to find out which bag is hers.

And why is it that except for the one suitcase that’s glittery red, they all have black bags? Not only that, they somehow all bought the same bright yellow luggage tags.

Usually I sit and watch them come in. The best are those who are return customers. They think they know what they’re doing, but they usually forget an important step. Like pants, or their oxygen tank.

I do have a favorite couple. He’s hunched over and walks with a cane. He always wears a different plaid suit. His wife of something like sixty-five years, holds on to his arm as they shuffle up the handicap ramp for ten minutes before reaching the hotel. She’s always got a huge hat on, that he makes fun of her for. She laughs, pats his hand and tells him someone has to compete with his suits.

They’re adorable.

Today’s bus pulls up, and the door pops open with a hiss. The assisted living center director jogs down the stairs and the driver follows. It will take another couple of minutes before the first patron makes it down.

I lick my lips, wiggle my whiskers, and shift my weight. It’s blazing hot out, and I’ve taken refuge under the steps to wait for my prey.

The last thing I thought would happen after I got squished by a farmer with his shovel was waking up again. Not only that, I was sentient.

I tell you what, old people have too much time on their hands. My masters—the Underground Geriatric Bingo Mobsters—had brought me back to life as a joke. Just to see if they could do it. The spell caster said she got the book for her granddaughter because it had pretty pictures in it, then realized it had spells in it, and she started to dabble.

I’m the only undead in their arsenal, but they’ve got plenty of other tricks up their sleeves. Or, more appropriately, in their walker pockets. One man has every single herb needed for ever spell in that book in little plastic bags in his walker.

Can he read the labels on them?

No.

Can he get them open?

No.

But he has them, which gives him some sort of power, and he really likes power.

The other men say he never wore the pants in his family, but not when he’s around.

I narrow my eyes and the bus empties, and droves of old people walk back and forth trying to remember what their luggage looks like.

There he is.

The man my masters had told me to trip up.

Apparently he’d somehow cheated their precious bingo game—not idea how anyone as idiotic as this guy could do that—and they wanted him gone.

If I don’t obey they’ll burn my heart and kill me…blah, blah, blah. I’m not sure that would actually work, but whatever. They feed me and I do what they say. Better than my first life.

I keep telling my masters that I’m a gopher. I dig holes. But the parking lot is solid asphalt. Sure, I could get under it and dig out, but it would take a while, and the hotel people keep it nice and smooth, to avoid something called getting sued.

So I have to improvise.

I wait until they’re all milling about and the director begins rubbing the bridge of her nose, before I slink out from below the stairs.

The sun is high, so I’m quite visible, but their blindness works against me, and most of them think I’m a cat.

“Oh, look at the kitty.”

“Good kitty, come here.”

Hands reach down to pet me.

Someone offers me a dog treat. I take it. Why not.

“What is that?” the director asks.

“The hotel’s cat.”

I stay near the middle of the pack, avoiding the director, until I reach my target. I rub up against his leg, pretending to care.

He wiggles his leg. An indication I should leave him alone.

As any self-respecting cat would, I go for his other leg.

“Get off,” the man says in a grouchy voice.

I grin and go between his legs, pushing him a little as I do so.

He leans, and stumbles a bit.

I press harder, and I’m about to go through his feet again when something hard and flat smacks me on the back.

“Get away!” a woman shrieks.

Pain doesn’t register like it used to, but I felt something. I turn to hiss at the woman, and find a blubbery arm holding a flat spatula with three lines cut out of it. The woman glares at me in righteous anger.

“He’s allergic to cats. Get back!”

Allergic? Seriously? The spatula comes at me again, but I dodge. And I hiss.

The man shrinks back.

I ram him with my head, taking a glancing blow from the spatula, and then dart off.

The man finally falls.

The woman glares at me.

I smell burning, and look at my back. My fur is charred in three perfect stripes. I glare back at the woman. Only magic can hurt me.

Looks like the Underground Geriatric Bingo Mobsters have some competition.

***

Seriously? Who came up with these entries???

Genre – Underground Geriatric Bingo Mobsters

Character – A Zombie Gopher

Setting – The Fun Bus to Wendover with a whole assisted living group of gamblers

Random Object – Spatula


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