Six Sentence Story: Press Gang for a Bull

Press Gang for a Bull. Drawing by Ford Waight. February 2021.


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given. This week’s cue word is Rodeo


Press Gang for a Bull

The rodeo clown chased me through town, his oversize clothes flapping in the wind, his shrieking laughter echoing about the deserted streets.

What a fool I was to get so drunk while on shore leave, to abandon my crew mates and walk alone in a strange town in search of adventure; yet, Lord, how could I have imagined to be so cursed as to cross that rodeo clown.

Finally he cornered me in a dark alley, and I bunched my fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips… but the last thing I remember was him clubbing my head with an iron bar.

Next thing I knew, I’m waking up at the rodeo, can feel syringes pulling out from my arm, and that clown telling me “Fella, all ya gotta do from now on is throw them skinny cowboys in the air and put on a show – who knows, maybe one day we’ll make ya champion.”

And as he led me out into the arena, I caught my reflection in the mirror of a Ford pickup truck, and, Lord, I was a bull – eighteen-hundred pounds of muscle and hide on four legs ready to buck, and that sonofabitch clown still telling me “Yes sir, you’re our prize Brahma now, and will go by the name of Lone Sailor.”

These days I’m treated like a star, and I put on a real good show for the folks who pay their dollars to come watch me throw cowboys in the air; though, Lord, I must confess, when I see that clown distracting me from making good a gore, I hunger for my old sailor fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips.

***


Words and drawing by Ford Waight.


Editor’s note

My story Press gang for a Bull concerns just one of the many events featured at a typical American style professional rodeo – namely bull riding, which has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”

In Press gang for a Bull I wanted to explore the idea of a sailor transformed into a prize rodeo bull by the will of a magical clown. I was also interested in turning on its head the idea of someone in naval service being ‘press ganged’ into an alternative service. To press gang is to take men into a military or naval force by compulsion, with or without notice, and was a practice used by European navies between the 17th and 19th centuries as a means of crewing warships.

1780 caricature of a press gang. Scanned from Vaisseau de Ligne, Time Life, 1979.

In this instance, my unfortunate sailor is press ganged into ‘becoming a bull’ and is renamed the ‘Lone Sailor’. He must now endure the rest of his days as a revered creature to the crowds, the judges, and the cowboys who try to ride him at the rodeo.

The rodeo clown

I based the clown of my story on the original rodeo clowns who back in the day were crowd entertainers who wore makeup and oversize clothing. As bull riding became more dangerous with the introduction of Brahma bulls in the early 20th century, the need for someone to act as distraction for a bull attacking a fallen rider fell to the rodeo clown. In the late 20th century, the term bullfighter began to replace the name rodeo clown, and in 2003 bullfighters in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) organization traded their traditional rodeo clown makeup and outfits for sport gear with corporate sponsor logos.

The job of the modern day bullfighter involves bravery and strategic team working to place themselves in the path of a dangerous animal to protect the rodeo rider. The valour of famous modern day bullfighters like Frank Newsom, Shorty Gorham and Jesse Byrne was something for me to behold while I was studying video clips when making research for my story.

My drawing

I made it in pencils based on a photo of the bull rider Antonio Aguilars Charros riding a Brahma bull in Mexico circa 1975, although my story is set earlier than this.

Here are two digital renders of my original, as I wanted to see some colour  and texture ‘popping’ in the scene.

Press Gang for a Bull. Digital render in colour by Ford Waight. February 2021. Version 1.

Press Gang for a Bull. Digital render in colour by Ford Waight. February 2021. Version 2.

Thanks for bucking with us 🙂

Micro Machines dealer catalogue by Ideal Toys

Cover. Micro Machines 1991/92 Ideal/Lewis Galoob Toys catalogue. France.

Produced by Galoob Toys in 1987 and currently owned by Hasbro, Micro Machines is a line of miniature scale vehicles and play sets. As well as producing their own vehicles Galoob held licenses for well-known TV and film franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bond, Power Rangers and MIB, as well as producing a series of Rockin’ Wheels sets that featured the touring vehicles of famous bands such as AC/DC, Deep Purple and others.

TVTA is pleased to present selected new scans from an interesting Micro Machines catalogue I recently acquired: a 1990/91 unstamped dealer catalogue. It’s licensed to Ideal Toys from Lewis Galoob Toys, and was aimed at the French-speaking market. (This is my earliest so far catalogue for Micro Machines; the others can be seen in my post here)

Enjoy the images 😎

Micro Machines Motors. Ideal Toys. France. 1990/91.

Micro Machines X Rays. Ideal Toys. France. 1990/91.

Micro Machines Micro Vision. Ideal Toys. France. 1990.

Micro Machines Mega Monsters. Ideal Toys. France. 1990/91.


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Six Sentence Stories: Eject! Eject! Eject!

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a prompt word given.

This week’s prompt word is Kaleidoscope


Eject! Eject! Eject!

(a DC Comics Watchmen fan fiction Six Sentence Story)

President of the United States of America Jane Fonda is currently holding a press conference on French TV, and I will translate: “Citizens of the Republic, our Thermosphere Interception and Mass Engagement programme is now installed at several locations throughout your great land, and you may have full confidence that any further (squid) attacks upon your nation at the hands of the evil Adrian Veidt will be swiftly dealt with by the brave men and women Collider pilots at your service.”

“But the survival rate of your pilots… these so-called Colliders, is only 50 percent,” said a journalist, “and those who do survive the escape pod ejection risk multiple injuries.”

“Indeed,” said another journalist, “with this knowledge, how do the brave Collider’s cope?”

“Quite simply, by being brave,” said President Fonda, “and being armed not only with the most sophisticated thermosphere attack weapons ever developed, but knowledge; yes, knowledge, that they might die to protect others, and avenge the three million souls murdered by Veidt in 1985.”

Meanwhile, on Mars, or perhaps not, Doctor Manhattan observes the daily spectacle of Collider pilots ejecting over earth, as their interceptor ships explode head-on against Veidt’s squid cruisers; and as usual, there is not much he can do but watch these distant space fireworks with a blank stare, and sometimes a rock skimmed petulantly across the surface of a Martian lake.

While somewhere else, Adrian Veidt has quite literally lost his head, and he must use mind-control to replace his squid cruisers as fast as they are destroyed by Colliders, while his angry speech booms across the somewhere else and shakes his servants to their knees: “Look at those fools! Mere bees pitifully protecting a doomed nest against the might of murder hornets, ah, prevail they might – yet only for precious minutes on the clock face of time, for I have great pesticides to sweep and perish them on that blue disc of Earth they call their home, yes, I, Ozymandias, king of kings: look on my illusions, ye Mighty, and despair!”


Eject! Eject! Eject! written by Ford Waight

All images from watchmen.fandom.com and are property of DC Comics; HBO; Warner Bros. Pictures.



Editor’s note:

My story Eject! Eject! Eject! is a fan fiction Six Sentence Story based on the 1986/87 critically acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins; and the also acclaimed 2019 HBO limited TV series Watchmen created by Damon Lindelof.

Eject! Eject! Eject! makes a play on the Six Sentence Stories prompt word kaleidoscope with an imaginary force of TIME (Thermosphere Interception and Mass Engagement) ships piloted by Colliders to counter frequent squid attacks believed to be deployed by the world’s smartest man super-genius Adrian Veidt aka ex-Watchman member Ozymandias. In my tale, Jane Fonda is the current President of the USA, and presides over the TIME counter attacks with full knowledge of the fifty percent survival rate among its Collider pilots.

If you haven’t yet read the Watchmen graphic novel (recognised in TimeList of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923) then what are you waiting for! Likewise, the HBO limited TV series Watchmen is outstanding viewing and was nominated for eleven Emmy awards. As well, the 2009 Zack Snyder film adaptation of the novel is a must-see.

Dear vintage mates, who watches the Watchmen?

PS. There is no irony lost on me that one of the major themes of Watchmen is masks, as I use my ‘enforced week off work’ to rewatch epsiodes of the HBO series, while at the same time writing this post, when wearing a mask myself during a period of positive infection for me in this – year 2021 of our dear Covid-19.

Ford.


Playmobil catalogues 1980 – 2008

Currently nursing a mild case of Covid-19, TVTA is pleased to present a selection of recently acquired Playmobil catalogue covers and pages.

The print dates are from 1980s West Germany; 1990 Federal Republic of Germany; and 2008 Malta. 

Might as well kick off with the medical one then 😀

Playmobil catalogue. 1990. Federal Republic of Germany.

Playmobil mini catalogue. 1980s West Germany.

Playmobil catalogue. 1990. Federal Republic of Germany.

Playmobil catalogue. 1990. Federal Republic of Germany.

Playmobil catalogue. 2008. Malta.

Playmobil catalogue. 2008. Malta.

Playmobil catalogue. 1990. Federal Republic of Germany.

Playmobil mini catalogue N°2. 1980s. West Germany.

Playmobil mini catalogue N°2. 1980s. West Germany.

Playmobil mini catalogue N°2. 1980s. West Germany.

Thanks for looking 🙂

Coming soon to TVTA… a splendiferous and spiffing spotlight on Spawn 😎

The Pandemic and I (16) – testing positive

Meh. I am now Covid-19 positive.

Yesterday morning I was sent home from work after getting my results from a weekly PCR test. Luckily I have no symptoms apart from a slight loss of taste and smell. No temperature, no aches, no tiredness. I saw my doctor for blood pressure, breathing etc – all normal. I need to go for a new PCR test next Tuesday, and if negative can return to work.

Honestly, I’m not that surprised I have it, and had already mentally prepared for such a situation. Currently we have four resident positive cases at work, plus in the region I live in the infection rate is super mega high. I had the 1st dose Pfizer vaccine on 29 January, and while I was under no illusion the vaccine would prevent me from ever catching it, I think having it has (thus far) helped keep the symptoms at bay (fingers crossed).

Okay, so a bit of a mashup for today’s post, pandemic meets Six Sentence Stories and my contribution is dedicated to dear Covid-19, with the prompt word being: Plow (a somewhat apt word right now, lol😏 )

Ode to Covid

Covid, dear Covid, I know you so well, how you cause merry hell in your search for kicks and spats and brawls, how you make us redesign our daily routines, rewrite our blueprints and protocols. I know you so well; the clang of your bell, the rap of your fingers on the doors at work, your spiriting away of the seniors and an ex-colleague of mine, the vicious spells and altered states you leave behind. I know you well through masks and gloves and disposable fatigues, have seen you in action through the misty lens of a medical visor, tried to counter you by offering my arm to a needle full of Pfizer. Week-on-week tested negative, negative, negative, as you wormed your way into our lives with nothing more to give than fear and sickness, isolation, and now me – made positive. Nice work, you did it, you plowed my defences – mon gestes barrières – and though our personal war has just begun, I am yet unwounded and happily breath the air you propose me to quit. Covid, dear Covid – old friend now – I aim to persist on whichever battlefield you decide to see fit.

***


Funny, how in my last pandemic post I wrote this:

“Maybe the vaccine will help me, maybe not. Maybe if I catch Covid-19 the symptoms won’t be as bad as my body is now currently learning to recognise it and remember it for future combat.”

Go body!

Body-Rap. France. 1988.

Staying in?

LOL. I have no choice now.

TVTA, it’s time for your next round of injections. Ouch!

Airgam toys catalogue page. Spain. 1977.

Staying upbeat? 

You betcha! The TVTA scanning room is already abuzz with new materials waiting to go, go, go! Our intrepid office cat Wooof has chosen this time of infection to break out his special gold-edition Hello Kitty mask. And I will use my time off to laze in bed in between bouts of copious alcohol drinking catch up on projects. 

Upbeat idioms!

See you later!

Another popular English expression heard among my French colleagues (such as “What the fuck!” and “Good job” and “Let’s Go!”) is…

“See you later!”

So, vintage mates, see you later!

Stay safe and healthy out there everyone!

[edit 19/02/21 : I saw the copy of my positive result and they state now the results of any variant detection. Luckily I didn’t get a variant, though I trust they would have told me if I had. My test on 16/02/21 came back as ‘Weak Positive’, so still some work to do yet before I get back to negative. Will add here a HUGE thank you to everyone who sent well wishes – it’s really appreciated and really helped cheer me up 😎 you guys rock!]


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given. Some of the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


Dinner with Diana – Chapter 6/6


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Mark


 

Editor’s note: This is the final chapter of a 6 part story started by fellow SSS writer Reena Saxena and continued by myself. Today’s chapter may be read as a standalone, or if you would prefer to read the entire story then chapters 1 to 5 are reprinted at the end of this post.

Let’s go! Allons-y, Alonso! It’s time for…

DINNER WITH DIANA

CHAPTER 6

THE WOMAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (by Ford Waight)

Shhhhhh, and there fell a dreadful hush upon the world as every single one of Earth’s satellites ceased to signal – save for an unidentified sole transmission; and in state offices of the world’s presidents and prime ministers there fell the same hush; and the world media stared in shock at its screens usurped; and even Inspector Robert felt the same dreadful hush as he glared at his phone: the sole transmission… it was her! 

Inspector Robert listened as the transmission Shriek-Shriek-Shrieked like a screaming newborn baby clamouring for milk and oxygen, heralding its intent, clutching all potential in tiny balled fists.

TRANSMISSION: “People of the world. I am Dr. Diana. And you will bend to my will.”

And the world harkened with pulsating ears and dreamy eyes, and the continents glazed over, and oceans became still, and the clouds robbed the sun, and the stars above became slaves in the plotting of new constellations, and planets called in their moons to bed, and comets tucked in their tails, and auroras made marks of religious sentiment across their dusty multi-coloured heads, and the Milky Way wept and sent distress signals to the cosmos – who did scramble to assemble all armies and mercenaries to fight the mightiest campaign of its life, as Dr. Diana went on: “In a short moment you will hear a song. And you will begin to feel sleepy. And after, you will do every goddamn thing I tell you.”

Meanwhile, back at the asylum, the three political prisoners known as Mr Sapphire, Mr Opal and Miss Amethyst, were busy at work configuring the sound system freshly built into the warder’s office: a small but grand-looking machine, a 1920s gramophone of all things – its horn burnished and swirled like a magnificent sea shell washed up on a shore, gloriously trumpeting its melody wound forth and blasted from each window of the asylum for the whole world to hear.

And as the song played, Dr. Diana spoke directly to Mr Sapphire on his phone, and she said: “Plan Louis Armstrong is in full swing. Now get me the President of the United States of America on the line.” … and somewhere, in space, a rogue satellite twinkled into life, and a call exchange was made to the soundtrack of the end of the world as everyone once knew it, and it sang, sang, it sang, it sang: I see trees so green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

***

Fin?

Jacques Poirier journal and magazine illustrations.

Need to find out how this story ever got into its state of being? Then read the previous five chapters below…

As always, TVTA cannot promise answers, but will guarantee questions…

And, in the spirit of collaboration, if anyone else wishes to continue this tale…

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The Pandemic and I (15) – if you were offered the vaccine would you take it?

You don’t have to answer the question. I only pose it here because last Friday (29 janvier), after weeks of deliberation on my part, I agreed to have the vaccine.

Re-Animator. 1985. Image: Empire International Pictures.

As a health care worker I’m among the first in line to be offered it. And my main dilemma was: fear of importing a still largely unknown substance into my body VS the high risks of catching Covid-19 through my work. In the end, the latter won out.

So, come Friday, I was nervous but determined to get jabbed. A team of external doctors and nurses came in to administer the vaccine to approx 90% of consenting residents and approx 40% of consenting staff – a small staff percentage there, and for those who I spoke to who declined to have it the reasons ranged from ‘fear’ to ‘allergic to vaccines’ to ‘I’ll let my body fight it out naturally if need be’. Good reasons, and some that I also shared. For those who did accept, I was surprised by the age group; from early twenties to late fifties. Somehow I was expecting only the older staff to agree.

Before the jab, you had to:

  • Complete a simple medical questionnaire related to any previous vaccines and allergies.
  • Undergo some standard medical checks like blood pressure and temperature.
  • Then came the jab. Painless. Quick. A shot of first-dose Pfizer-BioNTech into the muscle of the upper arm.
  • After was a fifteen minute observation by a nurse to ensure no immediate adverse reactions.
  • Then you were ‘set free’ 🙂

I’d researched some of the common side effects:

  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever
  • injection site swelling
  • injection site redness
  • nausea
  • feeling unwell
  • swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)

And the less common + allergic reactions:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your body
  • Dizziness and weakness

So how did the vaccine go for me?

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