Tag Archives: tornado

The Force Awakens (with tornadoes thrown in for excitement)


At long last I got to see it, another thrilling Star Wars movie.  I couldn’t wait for it to reach the dollar movie theater where I could actually afford it, so I saved up my money to take the family to the theater in Valley View Mall off LBJ in Dallas. (This is a doomed and dying mall that no one ever goes to, so the tickets cost only half as much as elsewhere… but it was still necessary to go an hour early to get tickets before it sold out.)  I have seen every single Star Wars movie within the first two weeks of its run, dating back to the original Star Wars which I saw in college at Ames, Iowa in 1977.  And I confess to loving every minute of every one of the movies.  I even like Jar Jar Binks as a character, which gets me kicked out of the Serious Star Wars Aficionado Club for reasons I still don’t understand.

I was predisposed to passionately love this movie.  And I understand why the critics are saying that it is the exact same plot as the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV; A New Hope.   I am not going to review this movie here because I could not do it without those dreadful spoilers that I had to duck for weeks in everything I read about the movie.  Things happen in this movie that directly parallel the first movie, and that means an unexpected death that tore my heart out as much as when Vader kills Obi Wan Kenobi in the original.  Over time, through movies and books and role-playing games, these characters have become real people to me.  I care deeply about what happens to them.  I almost had to care deeply about what happened to us as well.


Yesterday was a bad-weather day in Texas.  Tornadoes ripped through the Dallas area  last night.  Eight people were killed as three different funnel clouds touched down and did damage in the area.  As we left the theater and started out for the restaurant where we would get a meal, a tornado warning started ringing on our cell phones and the tornado siren started blaring.  My sister-in-law and her family, visiting from San Antonio, took refuge in the mall we had just left.  They told us that the theaters on the top floor of the mall were evacuated as they sheltered there.  If we hadn’t gone to a matinee, we would’ve been interrupted during the movie.  As it was, we made it to Chili’s Restaurant just ahead of the wind and rain.  We had dinner while the rain poured down, and the Independence Bowl on the restaurant televisions kept getting interrupted by weather coverage like you see above.  We watched the danger zones creep by on three sides of us as we ate burgers and tilapia  in a glassed-in restaurant.  Needless to say, our relatives were unable to join us as they cowered back at Valley View Mall.  The after-movie party and discussion proved to be almost as thrilling an adventure as the movie itself.


But I simply can’t help myself.  No line or threat of sell-out or adverse weather condition is going to come between me and a Star Wars Movie.  I loved it.  And if I’m still alive when the next one comes out, I’m watching that one too… no matter what.  I love Star Wars!

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Filed under humor, movie review, science fiction

Tornado Dreaming


This post won’t be funny.  So if you come seeking humor, be warned, every writer has a dark side, and this is about mine.

I have learned the hard way that there is a very special power to be gained from the Dreamlands.  But it is a dark and ominous power.  When H.P. Lovecraft wrote his nightmare horror stories about the Cthulhu Mythos and journeys in the Dreamlands seeking Unknown Kadath and other forbidden horrors, he may have been writing from real experience.  While dreams are couched in metaphor and must be interpreted, they also touch the physical contours of our reality.  And not just a light touch, either.  Dreams can be made of concrete and stone.  Further, I believe the dreaming mind is no longer bound by perceptual tricks we identify as “present time” in our waking lives.  The existence of every man is eternal.  Existence is beyond the control of the relative dimension in space we know as “time”.  In dreams you can actually reach out and touch both the distant past and the future.  Does this mean  I think I can foretell the future?  Of course not.  Are you daft?  If I could I would be a millionaire and far removed from health problems and dark depressions that define my inner, darker self.

But dreams shape and define my actual day-to-day existence, and not always for the better.

1966 was the year I turned ten, and the year the skies of my dreams turned dark.  My best friend at the time lived next door.  My best friend had an older brother who was five years older than me.  One day that older brother trapped me behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbors’ back yard.  He pulled off my pants and my underpants.  He wasn’t gentle.  He twisted my most sensitive parts and forbid me to scream by threatening worse torture.  He introduced me to pain I never knew could exist before that day.  He forced me to endure torture for his personal pleasure.  He told me the incident was my own fault and he made me believe it.  I lost a part of my soul that day, and I would not remember what had happened for another twelve years, two-and-a-half emotional breakdowns later that school counselors and parents could never explain.  I never told anybody about it for years.  I could not have even written this paragraph until the summer before last… when he died of a heart attack.  He had power over me until I was 56 years old.

1966 was also the year of the tornado in Belmond, Iowa.  Both of my parents worked in Belmond.  When we were in school that day, we were studying weather in science.  The topic of nimbus clouds and storms came up.  Mrs, Mennenga, our teacher, pointed out the north window of the 4th grade classroom and said a cumulonimbus cloud was just like the one we could all see in the sky over Belmond, ten miles to the north.  She said that was the kind of cloud from which tornadoes would form.  It was ironic that that was exactly what was happening.  I spent that night at Uncle Larry’s farm knowing that a tornado had devastated Belmond, and not knowing if my mother and father were alive or dead.  (My father’s business was leveled, but he made it to the basement just as the building exploded and only had a deep scalp laceration.  My mother was a nurse at the hospital, and she, along with the rest of the hospital were miraculously spared.  Only six people were killed in the devastation.)  Needless to say, I know where my tornado nightmares come from.

So what is the real meaning behind Tornado Dreaming?  I firmly believe nightmares auger something in real life.  Granted it may be past as well as future, but dreams can come true for good or ill.  While I was in college, I dreamed one of my childhood friends was riding in a pickup truck in the back, where no one should ever ride, but farm kids always do.  A black tornado dropped out of the sky and knocked him out of the pickup and split open his head.  Only a week later, in real life, that same friend fell out of the back of a pickup and nearly died.  I had a tornado dream at age twenty-two that preceded remembering the sexual assault by two days.  It all came back to me and floored me like being stepped on by the boot of horrendous Cthulhu.  As a sophomore in high school I had a tornado dream that found me running for shelter into a house I had only entered twice in my life.  It was the house of another of my friends, and everyone there, many of whom were people I didn’t know, were crying over the death of someone.  My friend was there.  His twin brothers and little sister were there.  A woman that I later learned was his aunt was there.  His mother was there too.  Who were they all weeping for?  The following Monday I found out that my friend’s stepfather had been killed on his motorcycle by a drunk driver the same night that I had the dream.  Dreams can warn what the future holds.  But you cannot do anything to change the outcome.  Any attempts I made to change anything may have done more to cause the event than prevent it.  So, I am left wondering if this “gift of prophecy” is not merely a curse.

I have a novel or two to write about this if God grants me enough time to write them.  I am burdened by the very insight I am sharing with you here.  Why am I even talking about it at all, you ask?  Especially when I warned you from the start this wouldn’t be funny and practically no one will actually read this far?  I must confess.  Friday night I had another tornado dream.  In the dream, I was in Grandpa Aldrich’s farmhouse, the place where my mother and father now live.  My mother and I looked out the south window on the back porch.  There, swirling in dark gray-green, was a funnel cloud dancing against an ominous electric-green sky.  We were only steps away from the door to the storm cellar.  But before we reached safety, the dream ended.  What is about to happen?  Will talking about it cause something to happen?  Is Cthulhu knocking at the door?  Only time will tell.

Leap of Faith


Filed under artwork, horror writing, Paffooney