Category Archives: Calvin Davis

Don’t Read This Blog by Calvin Davis

 Stop! Don’t read this blog!

Wait! Didn’t you see the second sentence? It plainly instructed, “Don’t read this blog.” And, here you are perusing sentence number six.  So, you’ve failed that part of the quiz.

How about this? Part two: Do not think of the words “lemon juice.” Did you pucker a little? What did your saliva glands do? Ah, you thought of them, didn’t you? You failed the little quiz.

It’s amazing how words can manipulate your thinking. It was impossible for you  to heed my order not to read farther or not to think of the taste of lemon juice and its effects on your mouth. Because those words were embedded in the instructions and already in your brain, doing their thing. For as soon as I told you not to read this, your innate curiosity took over. Well, why not? Does the blog contain something someone does not want me to see? Information government censored? The power of a few words and my order gain strength like the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. Because it was taboo, you must see it. Correct? Like Chaucer wrote in the Canterbury Tales, “We weep and clamour for that which we cannot have.” We’ve been alike for centuries, all over the world.

What does all of this have to do with writing novels or plays, etc. Everything. Novelists write about people, and the nature of people doesn’t seem to change. Shakespeare’s plays were written around four-hundred years ago. They are as up to date now as they were in the 1600’s. Why? Because people are still spiteful, magnanimous, egotistical, humble, loyal, back-stabbing, loving, hateful, jealous, and vain as they were when The Bard lived.

With all of the above in mind, maybe the title of your next novel should be Revealed At Last: the Novel the Government Did Not Want You to Read. And when your novel tops the New York Times Best Sellers List, show modesty and humility with such a remark–“Oh, I’m so shocked I topped the list.” Don’t worry, your secret will be safe. I won’t tell anyone that you are a smiling liar. As Shakespeare wrote, “False smile must hide what false heart doth know.”

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When We Demand Better by Calvin Davis

Want to hear some pessimistic news? The latest buzz about the bad guys, folks who blackmail, assassinate, murder, con old people, blow themselves up – along with scores of other people – liars, cheats, hedge fund swindlers, Ponzi scheme manipulators, the whole gory gamut? When and where do you hear such stories? The answer is simple: on any network evening news report.

newsman

Anyone who relies solely on the evening news roundup for a picture of the world, and humanity, is someone who will end up with a distorted view of the world and a twisted understanding of people. Then, why so much bad news? Is it true that most of humanity is corrupt? Money hungry liars and cheats? You’ll end up thinking they are if you get a steady diet of network news. So why so much bad news? To answer that question, you have to look at the economics of news gathering and distribution.

Doing both is not a public service, but a business. And in that business, it has long been known that bad news sells.

With this simple fact in mind, one must view evening news with a critical eye, realizing that all of humanity is not the way it is portrayed by the news reports.

My formula for looking at network news is this: remember that for every report about a beheading, a robbery, rape, etc., there are hundreds of altruistic people who perform charitable and benevolent deeds every day, but who will NEVER make the evening newscast – that is, unless they rob a bank or stab a nun in the eye with an icepick. familyExamples: there is a mother in Kansas or Virginia who goes without the fancy coat and food so her son or daughter can remain in college. There is a father in Indiana who postpones the operation his doctor insists he needs so his little girl can have the operation she needs. Neither parent will become “breaking news” reports on CNN or Fox.

In summary, the next time you view the evening news report, don’t say to yourself, “So, this is the way the world is today.” Why not? Because what you have seen is not the way the world is today. However, you can safely say, “This is the way the bad side of the world is today.” In the future perhaps we will, one day, have the evening news cover the good side of the news. When will that be possible? When we, as viewers DEMAND that the good side of the world and mankind be given equal coverage?

When will that day come? It’s up to us, when we demand better.

Calvin Davis is the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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TJ’s Freshman Orientation

cell“Has he called?” Hawk Man sounded more nervous than usual.

TJ sat on the edge of his worn sofa, his fingers wrapped around a cold one. “Not yet, man.” He took a long sip, the icy brew soothing his own nervous throat. It had been a stressful if not a profitable night.

“But…but he’ll call, right?”

He set the bottle on the scarred coffee table and rolled his eyes. “Of course he’ll call, Hawk Man. The three of us is runnin’ buddies. He said he’d get in touch as soon as he ditched the cops that was followin’ him. We just gotta give him a chance, is all.” He upended the pack of Camels and tipped one into his hand. A flick of the lighter, a deep drag and he felt his knot of nerves unwind. “Now would ya relax? He’ll call.” He blew smoke toward the ceiling.

“How much loot do ya think we got?”

TJ drained the rest of the bottle and stretched out on the sofa. “We got three bags filled with dough. My guess is each one had close to a quarter mil in it.”

Hawk Man whistled low. “Three-quarter million. That’s a big haul.”

A slow smile spread. “Yup, we’ll be livin’ high.”

cigarettesFour hours later, Hawk Man lay face down on his bed, deep in slumber. And TJ sat staring at a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a phone that would not ring. His first serious lesson in life well and truly earned.

Calvin Davis is also author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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LIfe, Love and Loss in a Tattoo by Calvin Davis

receptionistI sat at the desk fronting the doctor’s receptionist. She passed me several papers she requested I sign. After signing them I gave the stack of forms to her. Glancing down, I noticed a tattoo on the arch of her right foot. It read “Papa.” The letters, in a fancy scroll, were about two inches tall.

Pointing to her body art, I said, “I hope Papa is not a boyfriend.”

She smiled. “Why do you hope that?”

“Because boyfriends come, and boyfriends go. Some enter and exist with the season. Many don’t even last a season.”

“You don’t have to remind me of that,” she sighed, a hint of sadness in her voice. “I’ve experienced the kind you speak of. In fact a couple, truth be told.”

Sensing her many regrets, I shared too. “If it makes you feel any better, most people have had such experiences, including me.”

papa“Thanks for the boost, but no, my tattoo refers to my father. He,” she said and hesitated, “…he died last spring.” Her eyes turned glassy and she blinked several times, as if to force away the tears. She slipped off her shoe to gaze at the entire tattoo.

“I see. And judging from the distress in your voice, I’d say you don’t need that tattoo to remind you of him. My guess is that he’s tattooed in your mind and heart.”

She beamed a smile. “Yes, he is. But there are days when the sky is overcast and it rains, I need to glance at my tattoo, and when I do, I see Papa’s face, and in spite of the clouds overhead, the sun comes out again, bright and clear.”

“Miss Tobias,” said the voice over the intercom, “send in the next patient.”

“That’s you,” she said.

“Thanks.” I rose. “Miss Tobias, do me a favor.”

“What?”

“Never remove your tattoo.”

“There aren’t enough barrels of ink remover on this planet to erase the art I have on my foot.”

“Nor, I hope, the one in your heart.”

Following my visit with the doctor, I entered the waiting room. I smiled at the receptionist. She smiled at me. Neither said anything more. We didn’t have to. We had said all that needed shared…about life, death…and love.

— Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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Trying to Do the Impossible by Calvin Davis

How does one capture, in a couple of short paragraphs, the essence and life of a woman who lived to be a hundred years old? To encapsulate her core in five volumes, each as long as War and Peace, would be simple, but to do this task in a few short paragraphs was all but impossible.

Really, I tried this difficult task of writing a two-paragraph tribute for my mother for the local newspaper recently. If she had been a queen or a superstar, she would have made my job easier, but she wasn’t. She was a maid.

Here is what I wrote…

angel1

A MEMORIAL FOR A MAID
As if emerging from the shadows of a dream,
She descended into The City of Hills, Lynchburg.
Her employers called her “the maid.”
Her sons called her “Mother.”
God called her “Angelic,”
And on November 16, 2004,
He called His angel home.
———-
Residing in His Divine Palace,
Mrs. Oleatha White Davis, “the maid,” scrubs no more,
Cooks no more, vacuums no more.
Now enshrined in the Heavenly Hall of Holies,
She is never again labeled “the maid,”
But is now known by her rightful title: “Saint.”
——————————-
A tribute from the sons of The Angelic Maid, Willis and Calvin Davis.
Though she had no college degree, “the maid” taught them that the greatest of earthly
Powers is neither a bomb nor an army, but love…simple, unadorned, and true.
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One of the World’s Shortest Short Stories

classifiedLiza’s Classified Ad

gown

For Sale —  One white wedding dress, size 8, never used. One engagement ring, beautiful, worn two months. Two hundred wedding invitations: backs are blank; make excellent scratch pads. Interested party call 555-6759 and leave a message. Will return call tomorrow…if I make it through the night. Liza

 

Calvin Davis is also the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris, a love story set in the City of Light during the turbulent late 1960’s.

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My Christmases Past–On My Desk–Lives On by Calvin Davis

To recall my Christmases past, I have only to glance to my right as I sit at my desk, for there rests an eight inch tall decorative container. When I see it, memories of the Yuletides I have known flood my thoughts, filling them with delightful recollections.

What is so magical about the container that it can call forth such profound memories? Let me explain. My mother died several years ago. I did not bury her body. I abhorred the thought of such a loving person lying in the detached and cold earth, alone, forsaken, except for worms that would feast upon her and convert the one who gave birth to me into fertilizer. So did she. So, no burial for my mother. According to her wishes, I had her cremated. Her aches rest in what the undertaker called an “urn.” A plastic container is more expensive if you label it something fancier: ah, the power of words.

At Yuletide I never have any trouble recalling the good times of my Christmases past. I merely have to glance at the enchanted urn. Seeing it, I envision my mother and the love she lent to all my Christmases. I see myself, a youngster, eyes wide, trembling with anticipation as she smiles. ”This is for you,” and hands me a neatly wrapped present, sprinkled with sparkles that twinkled almost as brightly as those in my eyes. I remember, I remember.

fruit

I remember the Christmas tree she decorated each year, the abundance of fruit, candy canes, chestnuts and tangerines she worked hard to provide. I remember the Christmas meals she prepared as if for a royal family. And always her feasts were crammed with calories, but with more love and warmth than carbs or calories. I recall Daddy saying grace over the Christmas repast with everyone holding hands.

candleAnd I remember the Christmas light in the living room window that burned brightly, announcing to all who passed that the glow of Christmas love could be found inside, a love produced by the nuclear generator of love, the woman now in a decorative urn on my desk – my mother.

Merry Christmas, Mother. And Merry Christmas to you all. May your season be filled with love, joy, hope and peace.

Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris. http://tinyurl.com/mdku2ja

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Second Wind now at Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Today, along the banks of the Seine, on a tiny street called Rue de la Bûcherie, sits a literary institution: Shakespeare and Company.

9425782709_7f65b8d096_nIn more historical times, the original bookstore by this name occupied a different spot from 1921 until the Nazi invasion of Paris. This creative haven was owned and operated by Sylvia Beach, supporter for the arts and artists of The Lost Generation. She encouraged Hemingway and Picasso, just to name a few, and also published James Joyce’s Ulysses, at a great personal expense to her financial funds.

In 1952, American George Whitman opened an English speaking bookstore along the Seine, catty-cornered from the Notre Dame Cathedral on the opposite side of the river. In honor of Sylvia Beach, he used her bookstore’s name…and, years later, named his newborn daughter Sylvia, too.

As a young lad, George Whitman backpacked over Central and South America long before the activity was as popular as it is now. He was deeply impressed by natives who opened their homes to him, giving him a dry, warm spot to sleep and a nourishing meal. After opening his bookstore, he started the same tradition. Over the years, he provided lodging (a cot stuck in an out of the way spot) and free meals to struggling artists and writers. In return they had to read a book a day and work two hours in the store. It’s reported he helped over 40,000 would-be authors, poets and artists before he died at the age of 91. He called these guests “tumbleweeds.”

Paris-Day 7 026Today, his daughter runs the bookstore, carrying on her father’s legacy. Shakespeare and Company is known worldwide. And I’m proud to say Second Wind has a tiny spot there. My PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS is now part of their inventory and is also included in their lending library on the second floor.  My book. like all those purchased at this Paris institution, will bear the famous stamp of this bookstore visited by travelers from across the globe.

Shakespeare stamp

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Do You Speak French: Parlez-vous francais? By Calvin Davis

After studying French in high school, in college, and Graduate school before taking French lessons at private workshops, I landed in Paris prepared to speak French. Yet upon hearing Parisian natives converse for several days, I was convinced my plane had somehow landed in the wrong country.

I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. I was prepared to call the airline and complain about their pilot’s directional error. In fact, I wanted to demand the refund of my money, explaining that the pilot had taken the passengers to some God forsaken land whose inhabitants spoke only gibberish. While contemplating this move, I was reminded of what Mark Twain once said, declaring he had gone to France and spoken to the natives in French, and was greatly surprised the Frenchmen didn’t know how to speak their own language.

Reason prevailed and I decided not to complain to the airline after all. Instead, I concluded it would be wiser to allow the French to teach me to speak their language. My classrooms?  Cafes on Boulevard Saint Germaine and Saint Micheal. Seats in Left Bank parks. Department stores as I eavesdropped on conversations of shoppers.

In spite of the fact I’d taken all these courses in French, I couldn’t, in an “embarrassing emergency,” ask a Parisian where the lavatory was. By the way, in Paris, it’s not “the lavatory.” It’s “the lavatories.” Saying “the lavatory,” the natives feel, is too crude and shows a lack of refinement and taste. One has to wonder if in an emergency one wishes to be refined or to be relieved. That, as the Bard would say, is the question. I vote for the latter.

I quickly learned certain things about French that I hadn’t learned during my “French education” in the States. One: in a restaurant, never call the waiter “garcon,” meaning “boy.” Doing so is an insult. Address him as “monsieur.” If a waitress serves you, call her “Madame” or “Mademoiselle.” As for giving the waiter a big tip, as many Yankees are prone to do, remember, usually the tip is included in the bill. If you wish to give an extra tip, do what the natives do: they sometimes leave a nominal one. A few centimes (cents) will do.

Internet Explorer Wallpaper (160x120)Also, don’t feel at a restaurant or café, you have to drink or eat and run. I’ve sat at a café or a restaurant for hours and nobody has asked me to move. To do so would be considered poor taste in France. In contrast, I’ve been asked to move on in a restaurant here in the States. The owner wanted to give my table to another paying customer. Such a request would never have happened in the City of Light. So much for “French crudeness and impoliteness.”

My free French lessons made me aware that what I’d learned about the language Stateside, I had to unlearn in Paris. I was taught “Comment allez vous,” is the way you ask how a person is feeling. Most Frenchmen don’t say that. Instead they say, “Ca va?” Pronounced “Sah, vah?” This means, “How are things going?”

I’m delighted to report that the tale of my French language adventures had a happy ending. After being in Paris about a year, I made an amazing discovery. French are smart people. During that time they’d learned to speak their own language properly. Amazing, isn’t it?.

Footnote: Don’t feel guilty if you slept half the time in your high school French class. That may be a blessing. If you slept half the time you’ll only have half as much to relearn if you go to Paris. I didn’t sleep in my French classes…sadly.

Anyway, Parlez vous Franciseplopfront-148x223

Fin. The End.

Au revoir.

 

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A Christmas Card From Paris by Calvin Davis

Nothing can compare with being in Paris during Christmas season.  Usually it’s a relatively mild time of year.  The temperature, energizing. Briskness tingles the air, but there are no freezing artic blasts or gusts that chill to the marrow. Snow? Seldom. But you can expect a frostiness that paint shop windows with coats of gray. It’s an excellent time for strolling while holding hands and observing other lover-strollers doing the same.

Along boulevards you whiff the scent of roasting chestnuts and crepes as you pass venders’ stands. “Crepe, monsieur. Une crêpe pour la dame, monsieur?” From cafés, the pungent and clean aroma of espresso coffee, rich and robust, pours across sidewalks in swells. The delicious aroma is spiced with the sound of café laughter and chatter.

And during noel, if you can visit Galerie Lafayette, the famed department store that’s topped by a dome which makes the structure seem more like a holy temple for worship than a center of commerce and fashion. Inside, the eyes feast on a delightful spectacle, for through the stained glass dome pours shafts of sunlight, painting the vast floor of merchandize with an impressionist’s palette rich in amber, scarlet and gold. Galerie Layfayette is a beehive of clerks, a sea of counters and display cases, plus row upon row of mannequins decked in the latest trendy fashions. Bottles of perfume are everywhere, and nearly as many clerks to sell them. “Perfume for your lady, sir. Perfume. Chanel, Dior, Hermes.” Amid this symphony of color, bustle and fragrances you’ll hear the hum of Christmas carols whispering from overhead speakers.

Meanwhile on the Left Bank, French families pack cafes, and amid lively conversation and laughter, sip bottle after bottle of vin rouge. And as the night ends they join voices in singing Yuletide songs, then toss their goblets over their shoulders and smile joyously as the glasses shatter.

Christmas in Paris? A banquet for the eyes. Bon appetite and joyeux Noel to all.

Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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