Friday, November 30, 2012


“What is that bright light? Why is it so hot in here? Sheesh”, I thought. I had just entered the world. It was December 1976 and I found myself in a hospital incubator.

“Doesn’t that beat all”, I thought, “Here I am, just minutes into this new world and I’m away from that lady that drank all that Coca-Cola. And I’m hot.”

I tried to say something about how uncomfortable I was in this little oven but all that came out were annoying screaming peals. It seemed I had lost the ability to talk or at least the ability to make myself understood. Perhaps these people were stupid and my level of communication had surpassed their comprehension. Yes, that certainly had to be it. I mean, come on, I’m just trying to explain that it’s very warm in here and I’d like to see that Coca-Cola lady.

I’m not sure how I knew what the year was; I’m guessing it was based on the clothing trends of the time. That and all the brown and rust colored furniture. I couldn’t wait to upchuck on that stuff. Although, I’m not sure anyone would notice. I tried to stand up and get my bearings but it seemed my legs wouldn’t cooperate with me. I seemed to be wrapped very tightly in some blankets. I tried to kick at them but they would not loosen. I tried again to express my discomfort but my pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears. Clearly these animals were too primitive to get me.

“Not even a damn magazine to read”, I thought. I tried to scan the room around me, to see if there were any signs or indications as to where I was, or even who I was. I did find a small blue index card above my head; however it seemed I had also lost the ability to read for some reason. That was just frustrating.

I had nothing to do but look worried. I was able to get my arms up and I could see that they were quite small. This was also frustrating as I wasn’t sure how anyone could accomplish anything with such small arms and hands. I could make a fist however, so I shook it as hard as I could to try and get some attention. It was the wrong attention though because a giant monster with a camera for a face loomed over me and snapped the first picture of me. I did my best to convey a look of quiet dignity, but I fear I might have just resembled a cranky old man.

“Great, a mug shot already”, I thought. I must have committed some crime. Some heinous act to be in this swaddled position. “Curses”, I thought.

A lady in white entered the room. She lifted me from the incubator and I felt myself rising up to a great height. This was intolerable. I tried to fight her but my flailing was calmed with a soothing voice and some nice patting on the back. I was placed in a rolling jail cell complete with thick bars and I was moved through a busy and noisy hallway.  I was reminded of some southern spiritual as I rolled along, sweet chariot, and then I wasn’t quite sure how or why I was reminded of a southern spiritual song. What’s a song?
I was wheeled into a smaller room and I heard a familiar sound. It was that Coca-Cola lady’s voice. I recognized it instantly. She was very happy to see me and I must be honest, it was nice to see her too. She told me that she was my mother and that my name was Michael.

“Michael”, I thought, “I can get used to that.”

I fell asleep quite quickly and happily. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What if there’s no Chimney?

Zuzu poked at the dry savannah with a stick. A little cloud of reddish dirt was swept up in the hot air and blown out toward the edges of her village. The drought was bad this year and the ground was parched. Zuzu shooed a cloud of flies away and continued poking at the dry Earth. She was feeling sad after hearing the Christian missionary teacher talk about someone named Santa.

She was with the other eight year old girls by the church earlier that day. They were making friendship bracelets like Miss Karen had shown them in art class. She was also waiting for her little brother who was in class with Miss Nancy. It was her job to make sure her bother went to class twice a week. She decided to peek in through the door to see how much longer they would be, she still had chores to do at home. That was when she heard Miss Nancy mention how this Santa man would bring presents to all the world’s children if they were good. Miss Nancy was talking to the six year olds, telling them that if they followed God’s word and were good or did good deeds then Santa would put their name on the nice list and come December 25th, they would have presents from Santa. But if they were naughty and did bad things in the eyes of God, then Santa would not bring them anything but a black rock.

This was a revelation. This Santa man could know if children all over the world were being good or bad and had the power to bring presents or not. Apparently this Santa man lived up north and rode some thing called a sleigh and was magic. Zuzu didn’t know what a sleigh was but she imagined it was something like the chariots she had seen painted on her father’s ceremonial shield. It was simply too good to be believed.

She quickly told the other girls what she had just overheard and they laughed at her. The other girls had heard of this Santa man and they had never seen him before. It was just another story the missionaries told to scare the children. Zuzu wanted to believe though. She was so good, taking care of her brother and cleaning for her mother and getting food for her ailing father. She was a very good girl and she was certain she would be on the nice list that Miss Nancy had described.

When her brother got out of class she asked him what else Miss Nancy had told them about the Santa man. Adame said the Santa man would come during the night when everyone was asleep and come down the chimney and put toys made by little elf monsters under a tree that was growing inside the house. She asked if Adame was sure about that since they had neither a chimney nor a tree growing in the house. Adame said that was Miss Nancy had told his class.

Zuzu walked her brother home without asking anymore about the Santa man. She thought she would ask her mother why they never heard of this before and why they didn’t have a chimney or a tree in the house. When they got home though her mother was too busy making dinner and couldn’t be bothered with Zuzu’s silly questions. She had water to fetch from the pump and that line would be long.

Zuzu continued poking at the dirt with a stick while waiting for her turn at the water pump. She was trying not to be upset about the Santa man. Why hadn’t he visited them before? Why wasn’t she on the nice list? Why was she just hearing about this? She sat there for a long while until her father came along looking for her.

“What is taking so long with the water”, asked Zuzu’s father.
“There is a line”, she replied.

Zuzu’s father looked over at the pump and there was no line. He looked back at Zuzu as she sat on the ground, still poking at the dirt. He sat down next to her and asked her if she was alright.

“Yes father”, she said with a slight sniffle.
“Adame told us of his day in class today”, said her father.

Zuzu shrugged and wiped her nose on her arm.

“I had heard of the Santa Claus too”, said her father.

Zuzu looked up at her father and met his sparkling eyes. His eyes were always so bright, twinkling in the late dusky sun.

“I was about Adame’s age when the missionaries told us about the magical Santa Claus and Christmas. A day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with gifts from a jolly fat white man”, said Zuzu’s father.

“Why haven’t we seen the Santa man? Why has he never been to visit us”, asked Zuzu.

Zuzu’s father took a deep breath and put his arm around his small daughter and pulled her closer.

“The world is a very large place. There are many people that live on the world and they all believe in things that cannot be seen with the eye. We believe that your ancestors fought the great lion and tamed the wild dog but none of us were there to see it. It is a legend that gives us strength in the present to carry on and do the best we can with what we have”, said Zuzu’s father.  

Zuzu looked at her father, not understanding what he was trying to say. He cleared his throat and continued.

“This Santa, he is legend. He was made to encourage people to be nice and good in honor of Jesus’ birthday. You are a good girl and you do not need a fat white man to bring you presents to prove it. You’re mama and I love you very much and you and your brother were the best presents we could have ever received. No jolly fat white man brought you to us”, he said.

Zuzu looked at her father and dropped the stick to the ground, threw her arms around his neck and hugged him

“Now, let’s get the water before your mama gets mad”, smiled her father.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Okay Christmas

I'm concerned for Christmas this year. This time of amity and peace on Earth and goodwill seems to have been brushed aside in favor of ringing cash registers instead of sleigh bells. I like giving and getting presents but the madness has seemed to reach ever higher peaks. The appearance of Christmas music and decorations before the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are even finished has me miffed.

I understand the wanting to get a jump on holiday shopping, but does it have to be so commercialized? I can barely watch TV due to the intensity of Christmas advertising smearing its way across the screen. I like Christmas things, like lights and cozy fireplace mantles strung with jaunty stockings and a little garland. I like a good Nativity scene and maybe a little caroling, but not until December at least. And then, only for two weeks before the actual event.

I'm no fool and I am aware of the storied history of the Commercialization of Christmas. Heck, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is not a beloved children's classic but a marketing ploy by Montgomery Ward from 1939. (Although it may be beloved) So there's been no shortage of using Christmas to sell things. It's just this current marketing blitz that is getting to me. It seems it's impossible to go less than two minutes without seeing something Christmas related.

Work has not made it any easier as they have now switched from the smooth jazz overhead to 24 hours of Christmas music. It's enough to make a man want to take a hostage. I had a job many years ago where some of the employees and I started a revolution to escape the constant barrage of Christmas music. We were swiftly defeated and told to leave the radio alone. It was a sad day. The constant music makes enjoying the holiday very difficult. Even though today appears to be the first full day of Christmas music, I'm already sick of Cindy Lauper explaining to me why it feels like Christmas, even though I seriously do not feel like it's Christmas at all. A rhythmic guitar solo hardly ever makes me feel like Christmas.

I've also been very jaded by the numerous Christmas miracle movies I've seen throughout my life. The last minute perfect gift, the realization that greatest gift of all is family or that Santa is in fact, real and will help me get that book published because of my unfailing belief that all men are indeed capable of good deeds.  It often makes me wonder when my Christmas miracle will arrive. I think at this point, my Christmas miracle would be meeting a girl that wants to hang around with me at least through the New Years Eve kiss and maybe longer.

So everybody take it easy regarding Christmas and remember that ultimately, it is about loving each other, even when there's no room at the Inn and we have to sleep in the barn just so we can be present for the Roman census.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Colder Heart

Charlie shivered in his unmarked police car and checked his watch. The crime scene guys were running late. He chalked it up to the poor winter weather. Winter had set in faster that most wanted to believe. Everyone knew that it was coming but no one really wanted it to come. Winter is like that really annoying guy you just have to invite to parties just because he was your mother’s best friend’s kid that you’ve just known all your life but honestly can’t stand. He double dips in the salsa and tells stories about his dry scalp medicine. He has moments of brilliance and is good for an occasional laugh but is usually about as charming as a mallet to the head.

A light frost was covering the ground and Charlie dreaded getting out of the car to stalk around the body of the poor guy that seemed to have met his untimely end in this dead end alley. It was cold and blustery, a hard silvery gray sky blocking out any sunshine. Charlie had eight other cases on his desk at the moment that also needed his attention and sitting in his car wasn’t exactly the best use of his time. He checked his watch again and sighed. A light snow started to float down.

The crime scene van finally pulled up into the alley behind Charlie and the techs got out. Charlie put his hat on and stepped out of his car.

“Took you guys long enough”, said Charlie.
“Sorry, we couldn’t find this alley and traffic was just terrible”, said one of the Techs.
“What have we got here”, asked the other.

Charlie looked over at the body on the hard alley ground. He didn’t want to imagine the gruesomeness of this guy’s death. It was something he was very good at however. He was amazingly cursed at imagining the particular details of a person’s demise. It came to him like a series of still photos. He could see the deceased, once alive, standing hearty and hale involved in what looked to be a physical dispute. One that turned incredibly violent.

“Let me show you”, said Charlie.

The techs moved over toward the body, careful to watch their steps so as to not disturb any part of the scene. Charlie moved slightly behind them describing what details they had so far, but they hadn’t moved the body yet because of the weather. They didn’t want any evidence that might have landed under the body to get lost to the cold winter wind or this freshly falling snow.

They began their examination of the scene, taking photos and documenting every inch around the body. Then they got to the body itself. By then, Charlie’s partner Nathan had returned with hot coffee from the donut shop and his usual morbid sense of humor.

“How long is it going to take to defrost this stiff”, asked Nathan.

Charlie just gave him a short but intense stare and that quieted Nathan. Nathan looked away toward the street and Charlie returned his attention to the techs as they started to turn the body over.

“I can’t believe it; this guy is frozen to the alley. He’s stuck”, said one tech.

The two techs pulled and shoved the body until he finally came loose with a crunch and fell over onto its back. The techs recoiled and slipped slightly on the frosty ground. Charlie stepped forward to get a better look. The body’s chest was frozen solid with hardened blood. The clothes were shredded and his chest cavity was wide open, but frozen solid. The rib cage looked like it had been torn open. The lungs were gone and it looked like the heart was missing.

“Did it just tear out when you flipped it”, asked Nathan to the cowering techs.
“No, it’s just not there”, said Charlie.

Snow started to fall thicker and faster. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Things I’m Thankful For

With Thanksgiving set for tomorrow I decided I should try and describe the things I am thankful for. First and foremost I am thankful for an understanding employer who has wished me nothing but the best regarding my recent dental difficulties. I was terribly nervous they would come down on me for taking so much time off just a little over 30 days within their employ. They have been really great about it and I appreciate it.

Secondly, I am thankful for a great dentist who fit me in quickly and took care of me and will continue to take care of me. I know these two things seem a bit odd to be number one and two on my thankful list but considering the incredible pain and discomfort I have been in the last few days my appreciation for them runs quite deep.

Thirdly I am thankful for my mother and sister. They both expressed the appropriate amount of familial care. I know they would have done anything for me if I had asked and I love them for it. I truly appreciate them. I’m nearly 36 years old and there’s still something quite comforting about a mother’s voice while one is in pain.

I’m of course thankful for my friends who reached out to me and offered me encouragement and wishes of well being while I’ve been dealing with this discomfort. It’s really very nice of them. None of their well wishes included a back rub or some heavy cuddling, but that’s not what friendship is all about.
Damn it.
(Clearly, only women friends reached out to me personally).
Thanks ladies. You’re the best.

I am also thankful for this gift of writing. It’s the thing I know best and love most and I consider it an honor to write these pieces on a near daily basis. Although, I’m often quite surprised by which pieces do get a reaction and which don’t. Either way, I am happy to write and very thankful I have the time and ability. Or at least what I consider to be the ability.

I’m thankful for catharsis. This recent incident with my rotting, disgusting teeth has given me a great deal of pause and time to think about the way I take care of myself. I realized that I drink too much Coca-Cola and that isn’t healthy. I also realized that too much whiskey is dangerous for your health, as is the heroic amounts of beer I tend to drink. Thinking that drinking a 12 pack on a Friday and Saturday night is somehow acceptable behavior and would have no ill effects to my overall health is completely absurd. There is always a cost and this time it was just my teeth. My consumption will have to be tempered considerably.

I’m thankful for this tooth incident oddly enough. It’s given me the courage and determination to try and stop smoking for good this time. I do enjoy smoking a lot and it’ll be tough to stop but for the sake of my continued health I just think it’s time. It’s the birthday present I’ll give myself. I’ll just have to find new excuses to remove myself from boring and ridiculous conversations or situations.

So it seems I’m thankful for quite a bit this Thanksgiving. I hope that you have the opportunity to figure out what you’re thankful for without the excruciating pain of a giant abscess on your upper gum and the discovery of a dead tooth. I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. 

For my overseas readers (if any) I'm sure your familiar with the American Thanksgiving tradition. But if you'd like to know more please see: 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Our Bodies Try to Murder Us

Over the weekend a major revolt occurred in my body. Specifically in my mouth as half of my teeth simply decided that they no longer wished to be part of the whole, chewing and smiling thing. Instead they wanted to cause me pain. Immobilizing pain to which I was regulated to my couch yesterday. My teeth throbbed and pulsed with each heartbeat and there was no relief. I brush, I floss, I see the dentist, and yet genetics still wins out and my teeth will win their painful revolution.

I’m on so much Ibuprofen that I can barely feel a thing. My head is cloudy and I’m sleepy. I’m hungry because I can’t chew. I haven’t had anything but mashed potatoes yesterday afternoon. It’s hell. But I do have an emergency dentist appointment set for tomorrow morning so hopefully I can regain some mouth related dignity. I’m sure there will be drilling and blood and stern looks from my dentist. But I don’t seem to have any choice in the matter. Through the magic of genetics, my whole family, mother’s side and father’s side all have cursed teeth. I’m lucky I don’t have a tooth growing through my damn cheek.

I’m sure the Whiskey doesn’t help. I think I’ll have to quit whiskey. Saddest of all though is I’ll probably have to quit drinking Coca-Cola. A drink I’ve loved since my first sip. I drink way too much of it on a daily basis and I’m sure its sugary hell completely contributed to the rapid decline of the state of my teeth. I do love it so. 

Yesterday was probably the first day is years that I didn’t have a Coca-Cola. It wasn’t all that hard to not have one considering the immense pain I was constantly in. Right now in fact I’m having a black coffee to avoid any possibility of sugar. It’s terrible. I do like my sugar. It is odd because I don’t eat any sugary snacks, save the occasional chocolate chip cookie, or even more rarely, cheesecake. I don’t eat candy bars or suck on candy snacks. So I always found my rapid tooth decay rather baffling.

I’m in my cubicle, counting the hours until I’m in that dentist’s chair, looking for the sweet relief a dentist can provide. It would happen right before the eating-est holiday of the year too. I’ll be lucky if I have the tooth capacity to have some corn and cranberries. I might end up with a turkey smoothie or perhaps some stuffing soup.

I think it’s pretty clear that my body is trying to kill me. I’ve got bad teeth, gout, broken toes and fingers, cysts, bad eye sight, and chronic bronchitis. I’m pretty surprised I don’t have diabetes or jaundice. I’m Frankenstein’s Monster without the having to have died and be reassembled. I’m a mess. 

Luckily though, it seems the majority of my ailments are fixable. Or at least fixable enough that I can cease the constant throbbing pain in my mouth. Time for more pills. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Desire Disease

I want to reach out to her,
to touch her, physically
and emotionally. I want
her fingers to linger
on my arm for just a
while longer than would
normally be appropriate.

I want to taste her kiss
and feel her body up
against mine as we stand
in a doorway on a rainy
summer night.

I want to listen to her
voice as she tells me about
the time she was in
college and they got into
so much trouble for that thing
they did with shaving cream.

I want her to tell me
that everything will be
alright and I want it to
be true.

I want her to count the
minutes till she can see me
I want her to be real.

It's desire. Burning within,
making these long days
even longer than they should

It's cliche to sit sadly at the
window and look out at a world
so in love and not feel a part of it.
Reality won't convince anyone to
do anything they don't think is
right and no matter my desires,
neither can I.

It's fun to try though.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It’s Sometimes So Unreal

There are mornings in this life that can leave one baffled about the peculiar nature of the universe and why it’s constantly trying to destroy us. I had a rough night, tossing and turning in my bed. I was frustrated with thoughts of my future and embarrassed by things in my past and it prevented me from getting any decent sleep. Plus, the unregulated radiators in my apartment seem to feel that Sahara hot is the appropriate setting for the evenings. I’ve got my pan of water on one radiator to try and cut some of the dryness but frankly that looks so prehistoric. I may have to invest in a humidifier.

But back to the universe trying to destroy us; it seems that in physics, positive and negative forces are constantly smashing into each other essentially creating the fabric of time as it is destroyed and re-made every single nanosecond. Among this beyond microscopic universe is how we perceive time and reality, and it just tries to screw us.

I woke up a little late this morning, which as my loyal readers know, is a terrible curse for me. I sleep like the dead wish they could sleep. I hear nothing, two alarm clocks and nothing. I live just off a very busy street with trucks and fire engines constantly rattling and wailing by, and I don’t hear a thing. The universe thinks it’s hilarious to speed time up in the mornings so when I do finally wake up I have precious little time to get myself together and get out the door so I can make it to my train on time. I often think I can hear the universe laughing at me. 

As I rush through my “S’s” (shit, shave, shower) I make bumbling mistakes that the universe thinks is mildly amusing. I somehow turn into Jerry Lewis and I fumble with the water temperature in the shower, my towel, and then my shoes won’t cooperate while getting dressed, then I have to hunt for my keys, or change for the bus, or forget that I wanted to charge my phone. Perhaps the universe is French.

This morning I rushed through my progressions still wondering why it takes three whole minutes to put my shoes on. I mean, three minutes, why does it take three minutes? From putting socks on till tying up the laces takes three minutes? Why does the universe think that’s funny? I suppose if I were watching from the comfort of the vastness of space, I might think it was funny too. I’m sure I make some incredibly funny faces.

In my haste however, it seems I forgot my work key card somewhere on my dining room table. This is quite rare for me because I don’t lose things like that. I never lose lighters or pens. I still have an expired gift card in my wallet for some reason. When I got to work and went to slide my card through the little card reader, my card was not to be found. This sent me into a panic because, as I said, I don’t lose these types of things. I could have sworn I heard childlike chuckling from somewhere as I searched through my wallet. The universe had managed to find a new way to screw me over and it was having a great time with it.

So as I finally sit in my cubicle, still steaming about my missing key card, I wonder about the unreality of reality. Nothing I write seems all that far fetched in comparison to the crazy things that can happen to the average person on any given average day. In the individual scheme of things, the minor transgressions and practical jokes of the universe seem monumental, but when compared to the mass of humanity, it’s very petty and small.

Still, I’m pretty annoyed at the universe right now. Although the universe keeps reminding me, much like Family Circus the universe is always “Not Me”, and I can’t blame the universe for not sleeping well, waking up late, forgetting my key card and keeping me perpetually single. Which I find evermore annoying.

The universe has seemed very unreal to me lately. As I ride the train and the bus or in this cubicle; I feel so disconnected to the people around me. I sit in my apartment at night and the loneliness of the universe seems to sneak in through the nooks and crannies of my drafty windows. I’m distracted by reality and its gravity but detached from it, as if it wasn't really there at all.  It's like when you look into the eyes of a cat. You're not sure if the cat is actually looking back at you or just through you and thinking about ways to make you misplace things. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Call me Michael. It wasn't education that I sought but rather to live. I wanted to suck the very marrow out of the bones of life and slather myself in experience. I was hoping to make my mark in the history books like Lord Nelson, maybe lose an eye or an arm in the heat of some raging sea battle versus pirates or criminals or maybe the French.

It just so happened that I fell in with a right surly lot on the whaling vessel the S.S. Insurance Adjuster. It was populated with a mean and odorous crew of thieves and beggars. There was a giant tattooed woman named Girlguay that carried a giant ivory spear and if you so much as brought her flowers and tried to ask her out for a spot of tea she’d run you through and leave your bloated bleeding corpse to bake in the New England sunshine. She had a bone through her nose and her face was tattooed in insurance acronyms. Her growl was as fierce as any thunderclap in the sky overhead. It’s rumored she was cannibal, which only makes her more attractive.

Upon my arrival aboard the S.S. Insurance Adjuster I was met by the young chief mate, Deniedbuck. He is a righteous man of worthy build, but yet somehow always suspicious of everyone. He was instrumental in my education aboard this whaling vessel and if it weren’t for his tutelage I surely would have perished.  He is the voice of reason and sensibility among the raging torrents of greedy self entitlement that fills the very waters we sail. It was he who introduced me to the Captain.

The Captain was Mehab. He was quick to tell their purpose and to assign me my whaling skiff. He was of deep voice and unbridled, seething hate for one particular whale. His eyes were twitchy and scanned me up and down. He was a curious man in his stovepipe hat and thick black bearded chin. He told me we were setting sail after a particular whale. A whale named Roger Cock.

It took all my metal not to laugh out loud when I heard the Captain mention his name. Apparently he was a very vicious and devious claimant, who had stolen the Captain’s right leg and replaced it with an elm tree branch while the Captain was napping. It was the Captain’s only motivation for this journey.  I began to wonder if this marrow sucking voyage would just suck.

We left harbor and set out for the Sea of Chicago intent on a course for the damnation of us all. I had stowed my meager gear below and was on deck when the madness began with the Cook and the second mate, Stubby. It seems they were engaged in a spirited debate regarding the statute of limitations of deep resentment and hatred toward the elusive whale claimants. I chimed in with a hopeful note of sympathy for these beleaguered sea creatures only to be rebuked and shamed for having any compassion at all.

 “You’re weak and small”, said Stubby.
“I’m just optimistic, that doesn't make me weak”, I said.
“Swab the deck you scurvy sea dog”, said Stubby.
It was then we heard that familiar call from the crow’s nest.

“Whale! I see its breaching claimant’s back! Whale!”

The sailors scattered to their skiffs, harpoons at the ready and launched from the S.S. Insurance Adjuster, hell bent on the end of Roger Cock. The Captain himself, in his luscious hate, was the first to launch after the beast as it dove and surfaced across the monochromatic waters.

“…to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee,”, called the Captain as he lined up his harpoon at the groaning and complaining beast.

The Captain hurled his harpoon, only too late to realize the rope it was attached was wrapped around his good leg. The harpoon stuck in the beast and as it dove, pulled the Captain from his skiff and into the cold, deadly waters. The beast, now enraged, filed a complaint with the Department of Insurance and completely obliterated the S.S. Insurance Adjuster. I was lucky to survive when the ship was capsized and it was only through my love of words was I able to survive to now tell this tale.

“On this day in 1851, Harper & Brothers in New York published Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville. The book flopped, and it was many years before the book was recognized as an American classic.” – This Day in History – The History Channel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What it Takes

With his laser now fully re-charged, Gary could return fire against the advancing Killocon infantry. He popped up from behind his stone embankment and started picking off the Killocons as they marched in nearly classic 1700’s British Military style. It was dumb.

Of course there was an enemy named the Killocons, why wouldn’t there be. The universe was just as vast and strange as every historical science fiction show ever predicted, maybe even stranger. The Killocons were of course bent on the destruction of all Earthlings so they could harvest the planet’s resources blah, blah, blah. Gary blasted through at least 30 Killocons before his laser rifle needed another re-charge. He thought that he should have got the upgraded laser rifle after the last invasion but Apple wanted way too much for it.

Ever since the Mars missions there had been interested off-world eyes on Earth, waiting for the right moment to strike. Earth had beaten them all through sheer resistance. Usually the alien weapons and technology was far more advanced than Earth’s but with patience and time we’ve come out on top. Like we would against the Killocons; they lacked any imagination and couldn’t think creatively enough to defeat the free thinking Earthlings. “Another few months”, thought Gary, “and things will be back to normal.”

Gary hurried back to base to get a better charge on his rifle. He ran past Mary who was sitting smoking her e-cigar. Her face was dirty and her blonde hair was mashed up from being under her helmet. Gary still thought she was beautiful.

“Hey Mary”, he shouted to her.
“Hey Gary”, she replied.

Gary ran toward her as a Killocon laser catapult exploded in the distance. He plopped down next to her and smiled.

“So, I was wondering if you were going to the USO dance later tonight”, asked Gary.
“Are you asking if I’ll be your date you worthless maggot”, said Mary.
“Gosh you talk pretty. But yeah, you wanna be my date”, asked Gary.

Part of the wall behind Mary and Gary exploded and covered them both in concrete dust.

“Sure. I’d love to be your date” said Mary.
“Awesome. Awesome. So I’ll pick you up at your barracks at what? 19:00 hours”, asked Gary.
“Sounds good. I’ll wear that dress you like”, shouted Mary over the Killocon Hoverwrecker that drifted overhead.
“The what”, asked Gary.
“That slutty dress you like, I’ll wear it”, shouted Mary.
“Not for long”, shouted Gary.

He winked at her and took off back toward base as the Killocon Hoverwrecker burst into green flames and went crashing down toward the ground.   Gary wondered if he ever would have had a chance with a girl like Mary if it weren't for the constant alien attacks. He dreaded the thought that he could have wound up as an insurance adjuster like his father. The thought of spending every day in a cardboard and carpet cubicle made Gary shudder.

He tossed a pulse grenade over his shoulder at a Killocon Infantry carrier and then dove toward the command center entrance just as the vaporizer activated and the carrier imploded with a strange pop, which was far more common now then when Gary first heard them.

“Nice throw solider”, said Commander Addison.
“Thank you sir”, said Gary.

Gary continued into the command center wondering what he should wear to the dance and if he needed a shave.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Falcon and the Pigeon

I was walking toward my train station this morning at my usual hurried pace when I saw a guy stopped in the middle of the sidewalk ahead of me doing something on his phone. I was about to be irritated with this guy for stopping on the sidewalk for no apparent reason. I stepped around him and kept moving.

“Holy shnit”, I said startled.

A giant falcon was proudly perched on the grass less than a foot from where I stepped. It was sitting in the morning sun, majestically golden and serious with a pigeon clasped in its deadly talons. I did a double take at this giant predatory bird. I had to convince myself that I was actually that close. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a falcon, but it may have been the first time I ever saw one with a fresh kill and so very close.

I understood why that guy was stopped now. He was clearly taking a photo of this falcon to eventually post on Twitter or Facebook or Pintrest or maybe even Myspace because he’s all retro and doesn’t get sucked into the latest fad. So his stoppage on the sidewalk made sense to me. I looked back again as I walked just in time to see the falcon take off skyward with the fresh dead pigeon dangling from its claws.

I thought about as I walked, rode the train, the bus and eventually got to work and parked myself in this cube where I’ll while away the next seven and a half hours. I’ll get focused on the tasks I have before me and complete them with all the diligence they deserve, but in the back of my mind I’ll still be thinking about this falcon and the pigeon.

I wonder if there was a sort of epic air battle between them; something akin to the German WWI ace, Baron Von Richthofen (also known as The Red Baron), and everybody else in the air at the time. I wonder if there was swooping and diving and chasing all over the sky between this predator and prey. Or was it far stealthier I wonder? Could the pigeon have just been minding its own business, looking for something to poop on, when the falcon dove in from above and snatched it's life away?

I was impressed with nature in a more personal way than if I had seen this falcon on a TV nature program. If time had permitted I would have stopped right next the other guy and watched with great interest. Of course I didn’t have that opportunity because I had to get to work. It’s not as if I could tell my bosses, “Yeah, sorry I’m late, I was watching a falcon”, or, “Yeah, I was Falcon late ‘cause I was watching dis falcon falcon”.
I don’t think that would go over very well.

As a lifelong city dweller it’s rare that I get to see the larger predators of nature just out and about on a shopping trip. The larger animals I’ve seen have always been in a zoo and I’ve not been up close with anything that could tear my face off in any real way. I did think about my walking cap as it is gray and I think could easily be mistaken for a pigeon. I started to worry that a falcon might snatch the cap from off my head, discover that it was not a pigeon, and turn around to kick my ass.

I mean I imagined the falcon turning around mid flight, realizing the hat it grabbed was empty, then curling back around in the sky, landing, walking up to me, lighting a cigarette, rolling up it’s winged arm to reveal a “MOM” tattoo and then proceed to beat me up for faking him out with my gray hat. I mean, I don’t think I could take him.

So now I’m sitting in my cube, writing this, wondering if I’m more pigeon than man. Frankly, if you want to get metaphoric, I would say that at times, I’m very much the pigeon, caught in the talons of streaking death from above. Then again, I would think that we all are at some point, both predator and prey. Today I’m prey, tomorrow, maybe I’ll be predator. I just hope no one stops on the sidewalk to take a picture of it to post on some social web site.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Late last night I sat
smoking and stewing on
my sofa, suffering through
the solitude and singleness
of three times ten plus five.
Almost six.

Another poem about the longing
and the wishful thinking I
torment myself with every
single, single day.

I woke this morning still
smoldering with thoughts
of my situation and a helpless
sense of unstirred attraction.

It’s maddening to be lonely.
Even while surrounded with
caring eyes. But they've got their
own business and it seems it’s
none of mine.

So a late night sofa sitting is
set and a dreamy, unsolid
smokiness falls upon the room
and all the cries and whys echo
off uncaring, unseeing walls
to fall deafly to the floor.

I’m not so bad.
I’m not super awesome.
I’m me.

Its intimacy and secrets,
a cabal of soul and mind
chuckling in the corner
where the lovers sit that
I long for.

The alone here. The lonely now.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

So you're busy....

Thursdays are not normally high intensity days. They usually roll about like a baby seal on a cold shoreline waiting for the sun to warm their ever expanding fat bodies. However, today they've been on alert since the killer whale sightings in the area. There's been a lot of seal bellowing and barking and clapping as the waves curled and peeled up and down the shoreline. It's been a busy day.

I usually find the time in the morning to scratch out something for you all to read. I hope it's usually a little something that helps your day go faster, or makes you realize that my life is more depressing than yours so you have something to be cheerful about. Either way, when I don't get that chance I feel like I'm letting my loyal reader down. (Yes. I know. I wrote "reader").

It's not that I'm worried about my readership, I'm obsessed with it. I check my reader statistics at least 25 times a day. It's actually become quite a sickness. It's something I think all writers have deep inside. They have a burning desire to know who is reading what they write and often, what they think of it. It's something that actors and painters and musicians all seem to share. This desire to entertain while also expressing themselves. With all entertainment of course comes the desire for acknowledgement.

I can't imagine Shakespeare was so confident that he never asked some poor friend of his, "So, whatd'ya think?"
"I don't get it? Everybody dies at the end", the friend might ask.
"Totes. Everybody. But do you like it?"
"Yeah, yeah, it's good Bill. Really good".

So much like that nervous William Shakespeare, I'm very curious about your thoughts on what I write. Feedback is essential in order to get any better.  Even if the blog isn't completed until late in the afternoon because my "real" job makes me do stuff like go to client meetings and talk and be knowledgeable about stuff. I still like to know that I'm making, if not a difference, then... perhaps touching you in some way. (No, not that way... unless you're a beautiful woman, then yes, that way...)

I'm not overly worried about writing this so late or over the top worried about what you might think about it, but I do like to know and grow if I can. If I learned anything about the meetings I've been in for the last two days is that feedback is essential in presenting a good product.

(Psssssttt... beautiful woman, I'll be at the bar tonight, come say hello)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


“I don’t think he’ll make it”, said Jay.
“Don’t be daft”, said Red, “he’ll make it”.
"Daft", asked Jay, "is that like, a boating term?"
"It mean shut up and keep your eyes open", said Red.

Red leaned over the railing and looked down toward the pier. A late night mist had started rolling in from the sea and it was clouding his view of the wood pier below. Jay leaned next to him and spit over the side of the ship.

“That’s sick”, said Red.
“What is”, asked Jay.
“Spitting. It’s a disgusting habit”, said Red.
“Whatever”, snorted Jay.
“No. Not ‘whatever’. If I catch you spitting again I’ll cut your tongue out”, said Red.

Jay leaned over the rail and pretended that he was going to spit. Red pulled out a long, jagged Bowie knife from his vest pocket.

“Do it”, said Red.

The blade of Red’s knife shined and flickered in the waning moonlight. The glare flashed across Jay’s eyes. Jay pulled away from the rail and stood up straight. Red slid the knife back into his vest pocket. A fog horn blared in the distance. Red looked out from the deck and tried to make the outline of the shore against this thickening mist. He was searching for the headlights of Dante’s car coming over the road.

Dante was indeed late. He was supposed to make the deal and get back to the Carpathian so they could set sail before morning. Now he was a little less than an hour late and Red was getting anxious.

“He got pinched. I know it. I know he got pinched. Any second now a zillion cops will come roaring over the hill man. Helicopters and speed boats will roll up on us. I don’t want to go to jail Red”, said Jay.

Jay tucked his hands the pockets of his track suit and bounced on his heels trying to shake the late night chill that the mist brought. 'Jay', thought Red 'was always wearing the wrong thing for the task at hand.' Red ignored Jay’s comment about the cops. He knew that they were clean for the moment. Even if Dante talked, there was still nothing they could do until morning. The cops still had to get a judge to sign a search warrant and Red was pretty sure that would take time.

“We wait”, said Red.

Jay made an audible noise of condescending disappointment.

“That’s stupid man. We’re gonna get pinched if we stay out here much longer. Plus I’m cold, man”, said Jay.
“Shut your mouth and hold still”, said Red.

Squealing tires shattered the undulating silence of the docks as Dante’s car came tearing around some storage trailers stacked along the pier. He slammed on the breaks and the car came to a hard stop in front of the gangplank of the Carpathian. Dante threw open the drivers door and stumbled out.

“Dante”, shouted Red.

Dante looked up towards Red and Jay. Red was moving toward the gangplank. Dante waved subtly and tried to step forwards and away from his car. He fell forward and cried out.

“Red! It’s a double Cross”, said Dante as he dropped onto the wooden pier.

Red couldn't see him from the gangplank. Dante had disappeared below the thickening fog when he fell. Red certainly didn't hear what Dante had said.

“Dante”, called Red, “where are you, man?”

Red heard the rumble of another car approaching. It sounded big, like a large SUV. He turned to see fog lights penetrating through the mist as the first shots rang out, chewing up the wooden pier below Red’s feet. He sprinted back toward the ship and looked up the gangplank just in time to see Jay take fire to the chest and fall backwards onto the deck.

Red considered Jay’s sudden end faster than he thought he could. He thought, ‘kid shouldn't have worn a white track suit’, and continued to sprint up the gangplank as bullets whizzed and ricocheted around him. Red knew running onto the boat was a dead end. There was no escape route with the sea on one side and the gunmen on the other.

The boat’s captain came out onto the deck from the bridge and was immediately cut down by strafing gun fire. Red was lucky to get past him and into the bridge and then made his way down below. He could hear the voices of the gunmen hot on his heels. They sounded Russian or Eastern European which was no real surprise to Red. It seemed they were always involved these days. He’d warned Dante not to get involved with them.

Red pulled his pistol and stood near the only doorway down below. They’d have to come this way to get him, but he’d be sure to get them first. He glanced out the nearby porthole and tried to catch his breath. Instead it was taken when he saw Dante, stand up, dust himself off, light a cigarette and lean against his still running car.

“Son of a….”, said Red. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting, Catch the Fever!

I am a big fan of representational government. I’m very proud to live in a Republic and I was very happy to flex my power as a citizen in this 2012 Presidential Election. I hope each of you did as well, or if you are barred from voting due to your criminal record or citizenship status at least encouraged others you know to participate in this peaceful election process.

I try not to let my own political leanings temper what I write in these pieces. I wouldn't want anyone thrusting their belief system on me so I try not to throw it on you. I just hope that each of you voted with your head. That is to say I hope that you evaluated the values and standards of the person running for office and weighed them against your beliefs. It is an honor to be elected as a representative of the people in this country and I hope we've honored the right kind of people.

I am a believer in social reform and I agree with the current administration’s position on the importance of education being the basis for future life success. An educated, informed populace is the basis for a successful city, state and nation. When people don’t have the ability or access to education the whole system suffers. Thomas Jefferson recognized this very early in our nation and heartily encouraged the creation of public schools. An informed citizenry is often open to big ideas.

With a better educated population the country can emphasize the need for repairs to the crumbling infrastructure of America. Roads, bridges, tunnels, trains, electrical grids, water usage are all areas that need serious attention. An America well aware of these problems can open the doors to job creation to start making repairs and rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure.  

I like to point to Mike Judge’s ground breaking, yet under-watched film, Idiocracy. That is the nightmare scenario for me and I certainly hope the Country and the world never turn into something like that.

If I ever have the opportunity to run for political office, which I've always considered, I’d only want to encourage programs that would benefit the people in the long term. When you take care of those that are the most hard off you can see it start to shore up the rest of the societal structure. Opportunity is created through grand ideas and those willing to work for it. I’m not a fan of handouts, but I am all for creating the possibilities of opportunity.

Part of being an American is our freedom of choice, (or at least as George Carlin said, the illusion of free choice). We have the choice to seek opportunity and do what we think is best for ourselves, our families and our neighborhoods. When we have access to the tools to make better choices, we all win. So, I hope that as voters, Americans can see that someone interested in the availability of educated choices is someone thinking about a grand future for this Country. And I hope you voted for him. And maybe for me someday. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sick is Orange

Did you ever notice how crazy
your hair looks when you're sick?

My hair is clearly as twisted as the
congestion in my chest and the
sniffling snot stuffing my

There's a looking out the window
like a hermited Dickinson seeing
the gray world and feeling the
next cough bubbling at the
fringe of your throat.

There's an ache in the fingers
and a thud in the head, a slowness
to the world out the window and a
confusion of it all going on
without you.

Tea, water, coffee, soup, sleep,
sweat, silence for a healing head.
Heat and a slight chill mashed together
under a blanket and a sweater.

There's an orange car outside, car alarm
blaring, like the bells and whistles of
my body. There's a war going on in me
and I hope I win soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Same Old, Same Old.....

"What the Ra is wrong with kids today", shouted Pharaoh.
"What's that my most honorable husband God-King", asked Pharaoh's wife.
"These kids, running all over Thebes in those new center axle chariots, scaring the brick makers half to the afterlife", said Pharaoh.

Pharaoh's wife, Shisi, nodded and returned her attention to her papyrus fashion magazine.

"See, you're 18 years old now and all you care about is those silly fashion pictographs, next thing you know you'll be 20 and those fashions will have passed you by", said Pharaoh.

Shisi rolled the papyrus up and looked at the Pharaoh. He was standing on the balcony, twirling his curved Ankh on his finger and biting his lower lip.

"Okay my Pharaoh, what's really bothering you", asked Shisi.
"Oh, no, just go back to your fashions", muttered Pharaoh.

Shisi sighed and stood from her golden throne and moved towards Pharaoh and put her hands around his waist. His tanned skin smelled of sweet oils and the morning's religious incense. She gently kissed the back of his neck.

"My darling, please, tell me what is troubling you, really", she cooed in his ear.

Pharaoh's posture relaxed as he felt his wife's hands around his midsection. He felt a warmth for her and decided he wasn't going to send her to the salt mines today after all.

"Wife, I have been troubled by my age", said Pharaoh.
"You are as constant as Osiris my husband", said Shisi.
"I know. I mean. I'm aware of my almighty power, but when I woke up this morning I felt something. My back hurt in a way I had never experienced. The healers said it was just soreness from archery, but I've never been sore a day in my life", said Pharaoh.

Shisi stepped in front of Pharaoh and looked up into his proud face. He looked down at her and she could see he had a small smile tickling the corner of his mouth.

"My Pharaoh, you are magnificence incarnate. You have pleased me many times with your virility and we've produced many strong children. You have vanquished your enemies and have protected the people. You are not old", said Shisi.
"You're just saying that because you're afraid I'll banish you to the salt mines", said Pharaoh.
"I mean it my Pharaoh. You are the very pictograph of youth", smiled Shisi.

Pharaoh considered his wife for a moment. She was lovely. He was glad he picked her for first wife.

"So you really think I'm well", Pharaoh asked.
"I do my Pharaoh. You are my everything", said Shisi.

Pharaoh bent down and gave her a quick kiss on her cheek.

"Return to your fashions, perhaps later I will have the royal tailors make you something from that scroll", said Pharaoh.
"No need my Pharaoh, I have you to clothe me in love", said Shisi.

Pharaoh chuckled.

"You're crazy you know that", said Pharaoh.
"I know you are, but what am I", said Shisi.

Pharaoh laughed again and led her back into the throne chamber.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Always There

It's another Thursday morning and my mind is reeling with thoughts of women. This is no shock to anyone who knows me. I'm constantly thinking about women. I love women. You might say that, much like a grammar school boy, I'm girl crazy. I think they're neat.

I've always been this way. I had a cute little girlfriend in kindergarten. (We met later in life, things didn't go so well). But I've always been crazy about girls. I'm mad for their softness, toughness and everything in between. So you can imagine my constant torment when I'm surrounded by them, all chatting and drinking and smiling and flirting. It's my hell.

I am enamored by the way they smell, the watery quality their eyes have, the way their skin is somehow always so soft. I'm amazed by their leaps in reasoning and logic and I'm always impressed by their accomplishments. I'm sort of an old soul when it comes to women. I'm generation Mark One from women's liberation so I can still say that I'm impressed with them. It makes me hot.

I can't tell you how often I fall in love. It probably happens at least once every fifteen minutes. On the train, on the bus, on the sidewalk, at the bar, online, looking out the window, I'm always imagining myself in the their presence. I can see myself there, sitting at a table, patiently smiling as they describe to me how their day was.  I offer some comfort, maybe a joke, maybe we get into an argument, but I still imagine myself as a part of their world. It's something I want.

These days though, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. It's probably because I reek of desperation and loneliness. I'm not the cool guy. The motorcycle type. I don't sky dive or zip line or surf. I don't like boats. I don't like traveling too much. I don't care for close guy friends. I'm jealous. I'm envious. I'm critical. I'm judgmental. I'm often oblivious to the feelings of others. I mean, what kind of woman would pass all that up?

There's no reason to believe that I'm perfect. I'm just as flawed as the next guy. But what I can't seem to figure out is how that fat, bald, annoying laugh guy is with the woman of my dreams and she seems to really love him. Did she help him through some terrible addiction? Did she comfort him as his father passed away? Did he make her a dinner once and she thinks it was the nicest thing any man has ever done for her because she had such a crap lousy father of her own?

I'm picky too. If she doesn't have the right shaped face, body type, sense of humor, voice, eyes, hair, brains, and an ability to look good in sweat pants, I'm just not interested. I'm quite particular about the women I want. Which makes it all the more baffling to me since I shouldn't be so choosy. I just don't want to settle. It's not that I have a "dream girl" and I'm holding out for her. I do seem to have a "dream type" though. But that's not unrealistic is it?

Everybody is attracted to certain character traits, things that make the heart and head swoon with delight. Each woman I fall in love with on the train, bus, on the sidewalk, online, etc., has the right look about her, but I can't seem to get their attention. I'm not buff (Do people still say that?), or wealthy. I do my laundry at a laundromat. I have a four year old car. The hairstyle I have now is the hairstyle I'll have in my coffin. I just don't know what these obviously bright, attractive women are looking for. And don't say confidence and someone who makes them laugh. I make every girl I know laugh and I project a great deal of confidence, so that old hat is a total fabrication.

This loneliness is vicious. It's a predator that slowly consumes you. It doesn't chomp down and swallow you whole. It takes little nips at you with each rejection or emotional snub. Until you wake up in a cocoon of silk made from your own disappointments.

I may sound a bit morbid. I'm not though. I am not a hopeless romantic. I am the consummate hopeful romantic. There is always hope that even a complete fuck up like me will be found by the right girl. She'll hose me off, shine up the parts she likes most and everything will be good as gold. In the mean time, if you catch me staring at you briefly on the bus, don't freak out, I'm just thinking about our kids.