Sunday, January 17, 2016

Star Wars: The Forces Awakens, a movie review on The Saturday Evening Blog Post, Edition #20


At the same time brilliant and very average, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a difficult movie to watch. Immensely enjoyable and also sorely disappointing, the most recent edition of the Star Wars saga is an even harder movie to review. No one wants to hear anything but glowing reviews of the movie that brought back the entire cast from the original--blockbuster--movie: but I would be lying if I said they didn't leave a lot on the table. The Force Awakens was a good movie--no question about it--but it wasn't great, not by a long margin, despite every opportunity to be great.

 
 So the question is: Where did it go wrong? Why did its tremendous potential go unfulfilled? The simple answer is the screenplay. When you watch VII, it becomes very obvious early that a remake of the original Star Wars was at hand. And there's nothing wrong with that, especially when you add in a stellar new cast of characters intended to be the new face of the series.


Add that to the return of the big three, Han, Luke and Leia, and it's a lead-pipe cinch, right? Sorry, but no--this was a case of resting on your laurels in the extreme. The original Star Wars was an epic movie in every respect, yes, but that doesn't mean using essentially the same script is going to be epic again. Far from it: entertaining, yes; worth the price of admission, yes; epic, no. 

  

In addition to the lack of original plotting, I thought the dialogue was stilted as well, especially in the exchanges between Han and Leia, where approximately no chemistry was exhibited. Any watcher of the first three episodes (IV-VI) will tell you that the chemistry between Han and Leia made the film. Opportunity missed. I was also underwhelmed by the villains, both Kylo Ren and the Supreme Leader Snoke, who disappointed. Kylo Ren is a far cry from Lord Vader, and the Supreme Leader Snoke is not the Emperor, not at all.


But don't get me wrong, I would go see it again. And I will see it again--Daisy Ridley's performance as Rey left me wanting to see the next movie without delay.


It's four stars, then, for The Force Awakens, with great hopes for a better screenplay for Episode VIII. 

Cheers, peter
:) 


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Movie review: Spectre, on the Saturday Evening Blog Post, Edition #18



James Bond is more than a character in film and literature. James Bond is an icon, a fact that makes it exponentially more difficult for the directors, producers and actors of any given Bond film, who have--in addition to everything else--posterity to face. Bond films endure; Bond films collect on shelves and cases; Bond films are a genre of their own. And so I am sure that it was not without some trepidation that director Sam Mendes set about making Spectre, the 24th Bond film in a 52-year era.



As any Bond fan can tell you, the opening scene from a Bond film sets the stage for the movie--in dramatic fashion--and the opening scene in Spectre sets the stage in classic Bond style, brash and spectacular, leaving your mouth watering for more. The cinematography is consistent and excellent, subtle in places and over the top in the others, another trademark of the genre. The locations are everything you have come to expect; splashy, historic, and exotic. 

Action scenes and gadgetry have been a staple of Bond films since Bond was attacked by a flame-throwing tractor in Dr. No, and Spectre continues the evolution of the craft. That said, Producer Barbara Broccoli--daughter of the original producer, Albert Broccoli--does a masterful job not letting the action and the special effects steal the show, incorporating them seamlessly into the movie. 



What sets Bond apart, however, is style. No one has style like Bond; style is the reason why Bond is an icon. Anyone can escape an exploding fortress filled with armed mercenaries; Bond does it with his French cuff links still polished. But Bond's style goes way beyond his pressed tuxedo and perfect bow-tie.  Bond's style is an amalgam of bravado, hyperbolized English reserve, and his trademark witty ripostes. 

Daniel Craig elevates Bond's style to new and dizzying heights. If Bond is the very the essence of cool, then Daniel Craig's Bond is still cooler, and Daniel Craig's Spectre Bond is Bond at his completion. In Spectre, Bond's style reaches a new zenith--and I wish luck to the next actor who tries to match it. 




For every Bond, there is a Bond girl, and Léa Seydoux plays the part to perfection. Bond girls are smart, resilient, and--it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway--sexy, and Seydoux hits the trifecta with a fabulous performance. There is also a Bond car for every Bond, and Bond's sleek Aston Martin sets a new standard.


Add to all this a fantastic supporting cast (Ralph Fiennes really shines as M) and you have a Bond classic which will keep my BluRay player busy for a long time. 

It's five stars for Spectre.

Cheers, peter
:) 


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fifty is the New Fifty: The Saturday Evening Blog Post, Edition#17




We have all heard it before, Sixty is the new Forty, and now, the recent corollary, Fifty is the new thirty. Well, having turned 51 this past March, I am taking objection. Yes, that's right, you heard me: I am fifty, dammit, and I don't want to be thirty again. Being thirty again would mean I would have to give away 20 years of hard-earned experience, and I am not willing to do that. Being 30 again would also mean I have to: Throw out two decades of learning and knowledge. Hell NO! Wipe clean nearly a quarter century of memories, both good and bad. Nahhhh. I earned every grey hair and wrinkle, and I am going to keep them. There is a greater point here, though, (and sooner or later I am going to get around to making it.)

 
We live in a culture that is dominated by youth. If you need evidence of this, just turn on the TV. In less than one program, you will be assaulted by advertisements promising you that you can look younger, feel younger, and, yes, even be younger. (Just order before midnight tonight.) Not convinced? Try checking out of the grocery store. Look ten years younger in just a week! Who do you see on the cover of those glossy magazines?


Yup, you guessed it, a half-dozen supermodels and actresses, all in their teens or twenties. Still not convinced? Turn on your computer, switch on your radio, read the paper, and think younger, dress younger, act younger.

The question is: Why? Why are we so obsessed with youth? I have my guesses, as I am sure you do as well, but I wanted to focus on something else, namely, what we are giving up on when we focus so much on youth. There is a sacrifice inherent in our culture's youth obsession, and that sacrifice is that we don't rely on experience, wisdom, and knowledge as much as we should. This is a steep price to pay, and the sad fact is that many people don't even realize we are paying it.




I could go on, but the soap box I am standing on is teetering, so I will make just one last point. I am fifty-one, and I want to be fifty-one (until next March when I turn fifty-two.) I had less grey hair and fewer wrinkles when I was thirty, but I had less perspective, and I find the added perspective lends itself to being more content in my own (more wrinkled) skin. 

 
Cheers, peter
:) 


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The #MINI Book Review: The Girl on the Train


There is a trick to reviewing a book. The trick is this: don't lose sight of the forest through the trees. It's hard to do, I have to admit, but you have to remember that a novel is a story, and while it is intellectually satisfying to judge the plotting and the pacing and the characterization etc, a novel lives and dies by the story it tells. I tell you this because I just finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and there were several times I lost sight of the forest through the trees, several times I forgot that a good story was being told because I was too concerned about flaws in the writing, the multiple Point of View issues, the problems with voice etc. But there is a reason I couldn't do anything (including basic hygiene) except flip the pages as I neared the conclusion: I wanted to get to the end of the story, to see what happened. The Girl on the Train is a good, suspenseful read, and if that is your cup of tea, then click on the link below and get right after it.

The Girl on the Train, Amazon Link


In the interests of fairness and professionalism, I will say that the writing--while not an outright weakness--was not the strength of the book. Having said that, my wife, who bought the book and recommended it to me, said I was being a "nit-picky author" and that the "writing was just fine." The book is told from three points of view, and it was impossible for me to distinguish one POV from the next by the voice of the narrator. And speaking of narrator issues, all three are unreliable; as a reader, I find this to be a bit gimmicky. There is also too much telling in The Girl on the Train, and little showing. I prefer the author show me what she wants me to see, and let me draw my own conclusions, but there is not much of that.



Three stars it is, then, for The Girl on the Train, based on a compelling story told in an intriguing way. As always with the #MINI, I have posted a few other reviews if you are interested:

NYT Book Review:
NPR Book Review

Cheers, peter

:) 


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.





Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Good Health, Longevity and the Hunter-Gatherer Diet

It's so easy, even a Caveman can do it, and, no, I am not talking about saving fifteen per cent with Geico. I refer to the #paleo diet, of course, which I like to call the Hunter-Gatherer Diet. If you: need to lose some weight; have sugars on the high side; can't see your toes. The H/G diet (or lifestyle) is for you!

Wait a second! How is it (you ask) that I am extolling the virtues of the Hunter-Gatherer Diet when the average life expectancy of a Hunter-Gatherer was 25 years of age?

It's a good question: Here's my answer: Hunter-Gatherer's died of three things: a)infection, b) infant mortality, and c) their environment. a) Hunter-Gatherers didn't have ready access to antibiotics. Remember that penicillin was discovered less than 100 years ago. Infections, especially respiratory infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infections such as amoebic and parasitic infections as well as dysentery, were usually lethal to the H/G. b) Estimates of the Infant Mortality Rate of the Hunter-Gathers vary, but it is safe to say that the infant mortality rate (the percent of children who survive to their first birthday) was well over 100 times higher for H/G infants than it is for an infant born today. For the Hunter-Gatherers, surviving to one year of age was a big deal, (and was often marked by a party featuring roast mastodon.)  c) Hunter-Gathers had no: central heating, A/C, insulation, grocery stores (what? No Whole Foods?) or modern weapons. They froze to death, starved, were eaten by Saber-Tooth Tigers, were trampled by Mastodons, fell off cliffs trying to collect blueberries, etc.



When you factor out infection, infant mortality and the lethal environment, the H/G enjoyed the same life expectancy we do in our modern times. Why is this? Simple. Hunter-Gatherers didn't have diabetes (there is, in fact, good evidence that Type 2 diabetes didn't develop until the potato was cultivated.) Hunter-Gathers had extremely low rates of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (strokes) and cancer. High blood pressure and high cholesterol were unheard of (with the exception of Barney Rubble, who was on Crestor.)

In other words, the prevalence of the our modern top killers was, in the Hunter-Gatherer era, slim to none. The 64K dollar question is: Why? Why did the H/G have so little heart disease? Why so few strokes? Why was cancer so uncommon? The answer, of course, is that they ate the Hunter-Gatherer Diet. And so can you.



There are many variations of the Hunter-Gatherer Diet, but this is the one I give to my patients: Your nutrition should consist of meats, including beef, pork, mutton, venison, moose, elk, etc; poultry including chicken, turkey, duck, emu, grouse, pheasant, etc; fish; nuts; eggs; berries, fruit, and vegetables. You should NOT have any sugars, sweets, starches (like potatoes, squashes, rice, cereals, pastas, and breads) and you should be careful about eating too much fruit--because there is a ton of sugar in it--and, honestly, do you think the caveman had easy access to Mangoes? (I'd like the roast duck please, with the mango salsa.)

Is this diet easy to stay on? Consider this: The Hunter-Gatherer had to slay his meat, catch his fish, find his eggs, harvest his nuts, gather his veggies, and pick his berries. All we have to do is head down to our local Whole Foods (ok, so I am a little obsessed with Whole Foods. Can you blame me?) and pick up whatever we need (their emu steak is to live for). If you really want to get into the Paleo thing, try gathering these things for yourself, something I love doing, especially when my neighbor leaves the house (you can't believe the Swiss chard that grows in his garden.) At least consider walking to the store, because there is no doubt that the exercise required to hunt and gather his food played a big role in the Hunter-Gatherer's outstanding cardiovascular health.



A few asides before I go:

The meat that the H/G ate was hormone and antibiotic free, and his eggs were laid by birds not cooped up, meaning that I advocate organic meats (and organic everything for that matter) and free range chicken and eggs. I realize these things are expensive, but do you know how much bypass surgery costs? (Answer: About 120,000$ on average, which pays for a lot of native salmon.) Better even than Whole Foods (am I really saying this?) is the large range of organic and locally-produced products you can buy at your local farm stand or farmer's market.This link will locate the farmer's market nearest you: Local Farmer's Market.

Don't think the Hunter-Gatherer diet works? Think again. Consider this:


The above is a summary of the metabolic parameters of a real patent. Note that in August 2013, she was on the cusp of having diabetes (her A1c was 6.4, meaning her average blood sugar reading is about 130), and her bad cholesterol (LDL) and Triglycerides were significantly elevated. After a year of the Hunter-Gatherer Diet, blood sugar dropped 30 point from 115 to 82, A1c dropped from 6.4 to 5.4 (one point of the A1c equals 30 mg/dl of sugar), the LDL dropped over 70 points, and the TG fell 250 points. Even better, her good cholesterol (or HDL) went up ten points at the same time. Holy freakin' Cow! In layman's terms, she went from being a cardiac time bomb to healthy. It isn't listed
here, but her blood pressure normalized and her weight slid over 40 pounds.

Her only complaint: She got tired of people telling her how good she looked. Now that is a problem I have never had.



Cheers, paleo peter
:) 


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Mia Thompson Interview


Today, I have the great privilege to announce something new and exciting on PeterHogenkampWrites: the AuthorInterview series, because if you know what an author's favorite cookie is (see question #9) you are much more likely to buy her books. My daughter Abby's favorite author, Mia Thompson, is in the spotlight today, and I have to say that Mia did a masterful job of answering the questions. Thanks, Mia. Before we begin, a quick bit about Mia:



Mia Thompson was born in Sweden and moved to the United States at the age of 19 to attend the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. She graduated with a degree in screenwriting in 2007 and has since become the author of a bestselling New Adult Thriller series about Beverly Hills heiress and vigilante, Sapphire Dubois. The series’ first two novels, STALKING SAPPHIRE and SILENCING SAPPHIRE, were published by Diversion Books in 2013.



Q#1: If you could rewrite one of the scenes from Game of Thrones, which scene would you choose and how would you change it?

Mia: Sadly, I’ve already thought of this, the same way I rewrote the God forsaking ending of Dexter in my mind. The Jon Snow death scene (the TV show’s death, not the book’s.) However, instead of saving poor Jon Snow, I’d have it play out exactly as it did. Then, in the last frame as he’s laying there, his blood spreading in the snow, we’d see the back of a red haired woman as she looks down on him; Ygritte has come to collect him.


Is it GOT-y? No, but I’d be happier.
 


Q#2: HBO wants to make a series out of your life: Who would play Mia Thompson?


Mia: The only person in Hollywood who’d even accept this role would be Christopher Walken, because he’ll play anything. (Sorry, Christopher.)


Q#3: What is the title of your Autobiography? Why did you choose that title?

Mia: A Series of Peculiar Events. After many years of denial, I’ve come to accept that I’m peculiar. And the series of events that have been caused by that peculiar-ness is what brought me where I am today, somewhere I’m happy to be.   


Q#4: Ten years from now, where are you and what are you doing?

Mia: Besides from the obvious NY Times best-seller goals every author has, I would also love to have started working with my secondary passion at that point, animal rescue.


Q#5: Aside from reading and writing, what are your favorite pastimes?

Mia: I really, really wish I’d have an answer for this, but as my life is right now, I don’t have any other pastimes. Excessive coffee drinking and binge watching Netflix, are those pastimes?


Q#6: You've been selected to have dinner with the author of your choice: Who would you choose and why?

Mia: Keeping with the GOT theme here, I’d pick George R.R Martin. If nothing, just to psychoanalyze his childhood. The man has been traumatized by something.


Q#7: You get the opportunity to travel through time and space for one day. What day in the history of the world do you experience first hand?


Mia: I’ve actually had to think about this a lot lately since I’m working on a novel (not the Sapphire Dubois series) where this comes up.


It’s a tossup between two days. One: the day of the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, if we’re correct about that. Simply because I’d love to see every detail of how it all came about. Two: August 2, 1934, when Hitler declared himself Führer. With the dangers of the butterfly effect, I wouldn’t change anything, but I would love to go back to that day just so I could slap Hitler across the face. One fat slap for humanity.


Q8: You're in college, and you have to take one of the four following courses to meet graduation requirements. Which course do you choose and why? 1) The evolution of birds  2) Accounting 101 3) Nietzsche and the Advent of Existentialism 4) Religious Themes in 20th Century Literature.

Mia: Nietzsche and Existentialism. Not because I necessarily dispute that there’s a force higher than ourselves like he did, but because I’m a sucker for Philosophy.  


Q9: What is your favorite cookie?

Mia: My grandmother’s Swedish raisin cookies. After she passed, one of my relatives found the recipe and gave it to me. I’ve made them since, and they taste good, but never as good as hers.



Q10: Cake v. Pie. You can have one piece of either cake or pie. Which do you choose and what kind? (I am a blackberry pie man myself.)

Mia: Being born in Sweden, a country whose signature desserts include strawberry and princess cake, I feel slightly traitorous saying this, but pecan pie and I have become very tight over the past few years and I don’t know if I could live without it.


Q11: Professor Xavier wants to make you one of the X-Men. Which one would you choose to be and why?

Mia: If Xavier came up to me and asked me to join them, I’d say “Listen, Charles. Can I call you Charles? Ok, Professor. Unfortunately I don’t have time to join the X-Men right now; I’m on a deadline....Of course, you’re right; saving the world is more important than writing a mildly-liked series, but... (defeated sigh) Ok, is there the possibility of a part-time position?


He’d pretend to accept the part-time deal, then he’d use his mind control powers to make me sign a full-time contract. So for that reason, I’d choose to be Rouge. This way, since touching her can be fatal, the others would stay clear of me when we weren’t out saving the world, and I’d have plenty of time to write. I win.

Thanks, Mia. For those of you who would like to learn more about my daughter's favorite author, here's the link to Mia's website. As a last thought: there is a reason Mia is my daughter's favorite author. If you haven't read Stalking Sapphire or Silencing Sapphire (the first two books of the Sapphire Dubois thriller series) give them a try. Sentencing Sapphire comes out October 6, 2015, and, yes, Abby has pre-ordered it (not that she wouldn't want a signed copy as well, Mia!)

Cheers, p 
:) 


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Rant of the Season: Pumpkin belongs in Pie. Period.



Pumpkin belongs in Pie. Period. (And maybe bisque, especially if its finished with sherry.) But there should be no Pumpkin flavoring in bagels, coffee, vodka (really?), tortilla chips and beer. Pumpkin flavored Pringles (no, I do not jest) are an abomination against natural law. Allow me to illustrate what happens when the epidemic of flavoring everything with pumpkin gets out of control:

I was in a hurry, trying to get a cup of coffee at the airport before my flight boarded. The line seemed pretty short at Starbucks, so I decided to brave it. And things started well--although I should have known that the lady in front of me carrying her dog was going to be a problem.

"How are you today?" the dog lady asked.

No answer from the barista, just a harried smirk.

"You got any specials today?"

The barista indicated the chalkboard, where a Pumpkin Spice Latte was featured. 

"Pumpkin Spice, eh? What does it taste like?"

(Editors Note: In the background of the security camera footage, I can be seen stuffing my neck pillow in my mouth.)

"Would you like to try a sample?"

"What do you think, Mary Alice?" This to her traveling companion, who is also carrying a dog in a small crate. "Should we try it?"

"I don't know, Mabel, do you think it's real pumpkin? You know how those imitation flavors don't agree with me?"

"Is it real pumpkin, miss? My sister gets really gassy if she eats anything artificial."

I glanced at my watch: boarding had started (and I am really hoping Mary Alice is going to foul the air on someone else's flight.) I try to sneak a peak at her boarding pass, but the large package of organic dog treats obscures the view.

"No, it's not real pumpkin ma'am. Is there something else you would like to try?"

"Ah, shucks, I kinda had my heart set on Pumpkin Spice."

"Maybe we should try it, Mabel. I brought some air freshener just in case my intestines started acting up."

Mabel turns to face her sister, and the boarding pass swings into my view. To my horror, they are on #369--my flight.

"Ok, what the heck. You only live once. One small pumpkin spice latte."

"Is that hot or iced?"

"Iced? Who in tarnation wants to have iced coffee?"

"Not so fast, Mabel! Maybe iced coffee is easier on the intestines?"

Mary Alice relays this question to the barista, who shrugs. A TSA agent gets into the back of the line, and I am hopeful the twins will be confused for a pair of terrorists. (It's even possible they really are terrorists--how do I know the matching toy poodles aren't filled with Semtex?) 

"Well, Mary Alice? Whadaya think? We can't take all day. I've got to take Peaches to the ladies room before we board."

"Is there a cost difference?"




"They are both 4.25$."

"4.25? For a cup of coffee? Are you out of your mind?"

The barista shook her head; no, she was not out of her mind. (Editor's note: I am now out of my mind, and am doubly glad that TSA regulations prevent the carrying of sharp objects.)

"You got anything cheaper than that?"

"A small cup of coffee is two dollars."

"But there's no pumpkin in it? Right?"

"That's correct. No pumpkin in the regular coffee."



Sadly, I couldn't stay for the ensuing discussion, because Peaches wasn't the only one who needed to go to the bathroom before boarding. There was a line to use the bathroom and I just barely made my flight, ducking inside the gate right behind--you guessed it--Mabel and Mary Alice and Peaches just before the gate was closed.

Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I considered asking them if they had gone with the pumpkin spiced coffee, but I didn't have to bother. Mary Alice had been dead on about the effect of artificial flavors on her intestines, and she evidently didn't have the air freshener handy.




If this true story (Ok, it's embellished, but still true) doesn't make my point, nothing will. I am calling for a ban on all pumpkin spice before Pumpkin Spice toothpaste appears. Ooooppppsss, it's too late:


Rant over. 
Cheers, p 
:)


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at peter@peterhogenkamp.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at liz@kimberleycameron.com.