Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

“So…wait. I’m confused. Say that one more time.”

“I said ‘you slice the bread.’ See? Like this.”

“Mmm…no. Sorry, I’m still confused man. I just don’t get it. Why would you slice your bread? It’s perfectly fine as a loaf!”

sigh “Yeah, loaves are great. But don’t you dream of something more.”

“What more is there dude? Bread in a loaf form is as far as we can take the technology. There’s just nowhere else for bread to go.”

“But look, can’t you see the possibilities? You slice it like this and then you put your mutton in between the slices. It’s easier to eat your mutton, bro. See?”

“…..”

“………”

“……holy shit dude……I see now. It’s so clear. It’s so beautiful. I’m sorry I ever doubted you. This….this is the best thing since….well…since…..this is the BEST THING EVER!”

That’s how I imagine in my mind how the invention of sliced bread came to be. You see, with the best inventions– the greatest inventions of all time– most people just don’t see it coming. Then, like a brick wrapped in lemon, it hits you smack in the face and changes the entire world.

Take the alphabet for instance. One day, all these people somewhere got so sick and tired of being limited by communication through speaking, waving their arms around, or stabbing each other that they came up with a standardized set of symbols that they could mix and match to create different spellings and meanings of words and ideas. They woke up the next morning and boom, life had changed. Now they could start writing about their lives, sending mail, writing sacred books, passing on beautiful pieces of poetry and prose, and most importantly: start talking shit through written form and incessantly correcting each other’s poor grammar and punctuation choices. Life was better.

Or let’s look at the telephone. That was a game changer for sure. We can thank Mr. Alexander Graham Bell for allowing us to speak with distant relatives while chilaxin’ poolside in sunny California, and feel less guilty for failing to visit them in the middle of the frozen tundra that is the mid-west even one time in the last eight years. Nowadays we take it for granted that we pretty much all have small miniature computers that we carry around in our pockets and can call anyone at anytime, so long as you haven’t yet drained your smartphone’s battery from trying to load porn GIFs. But, there was a time when the world did not have the technology to directly and immediately communicate with each other over long distances. Think about that. Think about how different the world would be without telephones. The telephone was a big deal. But was it the best deal since sliced bread?

Maybe so, maybe not. Perhaps that title goes to the internet itself. I mean, the internet was such a big deal that it has pretty much single-handedly changed how we do everything. Have you finally worked up the nerve to tell your entire office that you think Tracy is a huge slut and you are done working for this god-damn company? No sweat. We’ve got email for that kind of thing. You want to send money overseas to your buddy who really wants to try skydiving but can’t afford it and he promises he’ll pay you back dude really I promise it won’t be like last time? Here you go friend. And thanks, internet! With the invention of the internet came a surge of information being transmitted nearly instantaneously over the entire world. We’ve got a HUGE library of Wiki pages, forums, videos, music, games, and abandoned Geocities websites. You can sell your used underwear, right now, to someone on the other side of the globe. Seriously. I’ve done it. Ok not really but it is amazing that if I wanted to, I could. And that’s just scratching the surface of what is available because of this crazy thing called the world wide web. And it’s all for free. Well, kind of. I mean you still have to pay for it. So I guess it’s not free at all. It’s the opposite of free. BUT it’s a really good bargain don’t you think? It’s 2015, and after more than three decades of the internet being around, it’s hard to think of one facet of life that has not been effected by it. And that’s the mark of a great invention.

There are just too many inventions out there to mention. I feel like a list is in order. Some “runner-ups” for some of my personal favorite inventions include:

  • metal detectors
  • dynamite
  • skateboards
  • cheddar cheese
  • large wigs
  • Ninja Warrior
  • electric guitar
  • toilet paper
  • Prozac

In conclusion, I’m hungry and I’m going to stop writing now to go get a tasty meal from another of my favorite inventions: Subway. I only eat the flatbread because of its superior taste and texture, and its much more forgiving disposition towards my digestive system, but if I ordered some Oats and Honey or Parmesian bread I would take a minute to give thanks to sliced bread and the countless men and women who put together all of the amazing inventions that have come before it and after it and changed life for the better. There are some really big ones out there that deserve our respect. Well that about does it. What are your favorite inventions?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sliced Bread.”

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Buffalo Nickel: 1971

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

The nearest coin to me is the fifty-cent piece that has been living in my pocket for the last several days. On it is the face of John F. Kennedy, proudly looking eastwards from where I am oriented in the library. The date on the coin is 1971.

This coin, which I use as a kind of comfort stone (I also like to flip it– fifty-cent coins are the best for flipping), was in circulation 15 years before I was born. So at that time I was….well…I didn’t exist. Wait. So what exactly was “I” doing? Was I floating around as separate little pieces of star bits spread throughout the galaxy? Was I simply a part of the collective consciousness? Take a quick scan through the 1970s Wiki page and one can see how revolutionary this decade was. Woman rights movements, the Cold War, Vietnam, Stephen Hawking coming up with his crazy shit about black holes. Not to mention the GREATEST ROCK MUSIC OF ALL TIME. Damn, now that I really think about it I really missed out.

Since it first came off the press and into circulation, this coin– with its wonderful weight and now dulled luster– has been around for 44 years! When 2015 is over the coin will have existed for about 385,000 hours. Over 3 and a half billion people have been born since its creation, according to some website I just googled. Tupac has came and gone. The internet was invented along with the term “googled.” I wonder where this coin has been? Has it passed through many casinos, ruining the lives of some or granting huge fortune to another? Has it gathered the oils from the hands of greasy mob bosses? I wonder if it has been flipped by any famous rock stars– perhaps to settle some kind of mischievous bet? What has it purchased? Perhaps some rolling papers? Candy bars? Movie tickets? Has it been gifted to a child? How many times was it lost in the seat of a couch cushion during a makeout session?

Check out your pockets right now or find the nearest coin. What is it’s story?

This post in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Buffalo Nickel.”

Race the Clock

Here’s the prompt “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse.”

Set a timer for ten minutes and write. Go!

I poked my head around the corner of the brick building for what seemed like the fifteenth time and peered down the endless street. A streetlight’s soft yellow glow shined down defiantly against the blackness, illuminating a gutter filled with trash and a moving stream of city stink. God fucking damn it, I thought to myself. Where the fuck is he? The blue glowing of my watch lit up my face under the protection of the soaking hood of my coat. I wiped the screen free from water. 12:46. He was over half an hour late. And this man, known as the Vendor of Time to many in The Circle, placed a supreme value on every minute. He was known to drag a dull knife clear across a man’s throat as a “payment”, as he called it, for them being only moments shy of arriving on time for a scheduled trade. It wasn’t like him to be late.

I’ve never met him–the Vendor– but my business partner and good friend, Chris, has, and on more than one occasion. Some nights, after a bit too much to drink at the local dive ‘The Genie’, Chris would describe the man by saying “the Vendor is the palest, skinniest, sickest mother-fucker I’ve ever seen.” Normally, this kind of talk, aimed towards the wrong kind of individual, would grant him a certain kind of death. But The Vendor didn’t care one bit about reputation. To the Vendor, or so I was told, the ego and pride were trivial specks of dust in comparison to his one and only concern: the collection of time.

Chris is the one who got me into the trade when I was just seventeen and living on the streets. Those were messy days–days when I thought it was fun to occasionally pick up shards of glass I found sidewalk and then drag them across my wrists. Once I found Chris, or he found me–truthfully I don’t remember, this trade has a funny way of bending your memory–I started rewinding. At first it was just recreational, going back a few minutes or even seconds and having a good laugh, or causing some mayhem with the tourists downtown, knowing full well we could just take a hit and it’d be like it never happened. Sometimes we’d have a little too much fun and we’d wake up a day or two earlier with our heads throbbing in pain and our memory an inky mess. We more than once got into quite a bit of trouble in those day. Eventually I was addicted. A user tends to want to go further and further back, redoing all the wrongs they have ever done, trying to iron out their past. But it doesn’t work like that. Rewinding causes its own problems, not to mention heavy damage on the body, and eventually you get the past mixed up with the present and you’re in a whole world of mess that no amount of rewinding can fix.

After years of using, I decided to kick the habit and finally listen to what my mentor had been telling me all along. I stopped rewinding, I stopped selling, and I decided to work towards getting a masters degree in organic chemistry. My days of hurt and confusion–days of youth and stupidity–were eventually replaced with something more predictable and esteemed. Yes, I was still breaking the law occasionaly–it just kind of came with the territory of being friends with Chris, but it didn’t seem like I needed–like I wanted–to rewind anymore. I was happy. My life was going in the direction a life is supposed to go: forward.

That all took place, of course, before everything in my life went to shit. That was before Chris died.

“Fuck!” I said again, this time out loud, breaking the monotonous drone of rainfall. A puff of breath reluctantly left its place of warmth and performed its final dance in front of me. Suddenly the sound of rolling tires splashing through water grabbed my attention from behind. I spun around. A black car pulled up against the curb and I squinted my eyes in protest to the headlights. I wasted no time in placing one foot in front of the other until I was at the side of the vehicle, the hum of the car engine in my ear. The tinted, drivers side window rolled down and behind it was the gruff face and strong jaw of a man, his eyes dark as pitch, piercing directly into mine.

“Money,” he said flatly. It wasn’t a question. I reached into my coat pocket and pulled from it a water-tight bag. In it was every penny that I had to my name, and a few million pennies more that I had come across through other means. I handed it to the man and soon I was staring at the reflection of my unshaven face in the car window. My eyes were supported by two dark sockets. The rain had ceased to fall.Moments later the window again rolled down with a buzz. I held out my hand and watched it fill with the mixture of rain and city smog.

“He says you won’t be coming back,” the man behind the wheel said to me.
“I know,” I said.
The man nodded. He placed the cylindrical tube into my hand, rolled up the car window, and sped away.

I was back to being alone on the empty street. I tilted my head back and looked up above me. The smog was there, the city always made sure of that, but I could tell that behind it hung a clear sky, and with it all of the unfamiliar constellations that I had never taken the time to get to know. This city has a way of doing that to its captives–a way of keeping your eyes pointed down. It has a way of keeping your mind in the past and your feet always aching.

I popped off the cap to the pointy end of the tube. Time is clear and I could see my hand straight through it. The last time I chose to rewind my hands looked smoother, even through the filth of the street. Now they looked overrun with long, deep trenches, as if they were carved into hard dirt and beginning to collapse on themselves. I looked at my life line on my wet palm. It was covered in scar tissue from years of rewinding. This would be the last time I ever used. Sure, I would be back. Back here on Earth, somewhere, living with the body and mind of someone else, but it’d be so far in the past that time wouldn’t be available to be used like this anymore. Someone else could have this body, this mind. And I didn’t care. I wouldn’t care. My days of trying to rewind–and to redo, and to fix–were over.

I looked again at my calloused hands. I could see the story they told. I pricked the point of the tube into my palm. I thought of Chris. He always told me he’d be my friend at any point in time, and he always meant it literally. We shared more than one good laugh about that particular thought. My eyes narrowed. I breathed in the city air deeply. I thought I heard the sound of a garbage truck in the distance fighting his endless battle, moving through the wet and the cold.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Race the Clock.”

Do or Die: Phish

You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

Phish shows are a musical mix of funk, rock, and psychedelic, uplifting swells. The four guys from Vermont that make up the band strike a perfect balance of everything I enjoy about music and live performance.

Most Phish songs start off composed, such as their 15 minute epic “Fluffhead,” to the more simple but beautiful pop songs such as “Farmhouse.” Phish has over 250 original songs and cover many more of all different genres. As far as variety of music goes, Phish has you covered. After most songs there is a jam section where the band begins improvising their music.

Improvised music is a sacred thing and Phish does it well. It speaks the present moment. It is the present moment in musical form. Mike, the bass player, might lay down a nasty bass-line that is in perfect synchronicity with Fishman, the drummer, causing the entire room to vibrate. Page, on keyboards, comes in with his crunchy clavinete sounds. You can almost taste the crunchiness. Trey, the guitar player, locks in a few moments later, timing his guitar chords with perfection, hitting the notes of funk, or swinging in with a guitar solo that shreds the room apart and sends the audience soaring. Soon, the entire room is moving together, including the band, all inspired by the music being made in the now. The jam is entirely unique to your show.

Their music can be highly dissonant, bizarre, ambient, or psychedelic because Phish is letting the music go where the music wants to go. The music extends beyond the music to something you can’t see or hear, something that just doesn’t seem to translate when coming out of your speakers in your living room. But when you are there it is magic.

And that is why Phish is my favorite thing.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Do or Die.”