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Friday, September 10, 2010

An Excerpt from "Speaking of Michelangelo"


The Death of Basie

Dinsdale Carruthers was in a particularly foul mood. It was hot, as it was every day in July and for that matter, most of the Goddamned year, and Dinsdale hated the heat. He hated the heat only slightly less than he hated his wife, Doreen, and that was a pocketful. He sat on the porch, even though it was cooler inside the trailer, because at least out on the porch he wasn’t badgered by his wife’s constant yammering.
Dinsdale watched as Basie sniffed around the gazanias, as he always did when he searched for a suitable place to piss. It wasn’t a big yard, but it was fenced in and over the years, Dinsdale was certain that Basie, even though he weighed only three and a half pounds, had probably pissed on every square inch of it at least once, more than likely twice. The dog was nearly ten years old and his eyes were going bad and his legs were stiff—but he sure could piss.
Basie went about his business—the gazanias had proved unsuitable—and Dinsdale wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. He looked at the trailers that surrounded him. Most of the residents didn’t come out much in the heat of the day. Mountain Palms was a retirement “village” located on the outskirts of Mesa, Arizona, and not many of the old folks could stomach the heat. Dinsdale didn’t care much for it, but by all rights watching a dog piss in the heat still beat Doreen’s yammering. He didn’t talk much to his neighbors and didn’t much care what they thought about him sitting outside in the heat. In a village full of senile, grumpy, overheated retirees, Dinsdale was among the most obstinate of them all—a “King Prick”, as Harry Collins used to say, back in the days when Dinsdale blew lead alto sax in the Collins band during the war.
Now, nearing sixty-eight, he was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis and cataracts—he had more in common with his surly little dog than Doreen—and saddled with a wife he couldn’t stand and hadn’t been able to stand for most of the years they had been married. Dinsdale, or Denny as his pals used to call him back when he was a hepcat, had given up life on the road, living out of a smelly trailer with twelve other men, to settle down and marry. The Collins band had been based out of Lincoln, Nebraska and the travel had been brutal and the pay meager, but those years on the road had been the happiest in Dinsdale’s life. That’s how it had been. Playing dance halls at night, then grabbing a post-gig meal at a local greasy spoon—if they could find one that was still open, before piling into the trailer and sleeping the miles away. If you were lucky, maybe some Betty would come back to the bus with you for a few minutes of the Cha Cha Cha while the other musicians ate.
Basie pissed on the hibiscus and Dinsdale smiled as he thought of the signal used by the bandmates—hanging a white towel on the doorknob of the band’s bus let the others know to clear off for a bit while the Cha Cha Cha was danced in the bunks inside.
Dinsdale often thought of the good times. Blowing sax in the Collins band for $9.00 a night and travelling around the Midwest—it beat trimming back the honeysuckle and picking up dog shit while Doreen sat in the trailer reading her trashy romance novels. His world had come crashing down on him that day in 1950 when Doreen had tracked him down at a barn dance in Omaha to tell him that she was “in the family way”. Then a pleasant, mousy old maid of twenty-seven, she had matured into a hateful, cold woman as the years went by, no doubt spurred by Dinsdale’s indifference to her and their daughter. Doing the honorable thing, Dinsdale had quit the band, married Doreen went to work for her father at his farm-supply store, selling tractors and plows and settled down for a life of Midwestern convention.
The years went by slowly at first, as Doreen raised their colicky, irritable baby and Dinsdale worked seventeen hours a day to try and make ends meet. Eventually, Dinsdale became the store manager, and when the old man died, Dinsdale took over completely. The child grew up, went to school and moved away, as children sometimes do. Without their daughter to raise, Doreen had become sullen and mean-tempered. She had constantly badgered Dinsdale about the long hours he put in at the store, and he reminded her often that he had given up the only thing he had truly loved—his music—to run the Goddamned store in the first place. She had driven him to the arms and beds of other women and he was sure she had done the same, the hateful bitch.
Glen Miller. When Dinsdale needed peace, he would pull out his hi-fi albums and play the music of the big bands. Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” was his favorite and he wore the record out. It drove his wife and daughter nuts over the years, and that in itself made it worth the price of a new record. The years gained steam as Dinsdale approached his fifties—he battled a drinking problem and tried to gain a handle on his extra-marital dalliances, all the while attempting to keep the store in the black. Every problem had seemed so important then, and even thoughts of forming his own swing band had eventually evaporated. Eventually, his hi-fi records were his only link to the past, his glory days.
His fifties had come and gone, then his sixties and suddenly, it was all over. All the work, all the troubles. His drinking, the affairs, the countless hours worrying over money all seemed like a bad dream, someone else’s life. Now there was only arthritis and bad eyes. And the dog. He sold the store, invested the profits and moved with his wife to the endless sunshine of the great West—Arizona. He lived in a hot little tin can in the middle of the desert, surrounded by other bad-tempered retirees, all waiting to get in the box. For Dinsdale, given the hibiscus, the dogshit and Doreen’s sour disposition, the outlook was bleak. But there was Basie—a Yorkshire terrier and the pride of Dinsdale’s baleful existence.
Named after Count Basie, the little dog had been given to Dinsdale by Doreen on his fifty-eighth birthday and Dinsdale had taken immediately to the little critter. At times it seemed that he and Basie were soulmates. The dog had little use for humans in general and barely tolerated Doreen. Dinsdale felt much the same way. When Basie felt like it, he would hop into Dinsdale’s lap and breathe a heavy sigh before lying down in the comfortable hollow between Dinsdale’s legs. But more often than not, he preferred to prowl the yard, peering through the chain link fence that surrounded it and barking at the passersby.
This day was hotter than most and Dinsdale regretted, as he often did, the decision to move to Mesa year-round. It was a hot, dry, miserable desert populated by snotty-assed, horn-blowing nincompoops for whom Dinsdale had no use. It’s not that he had any desire to return to the muggy, mosquito haven of the Midwest, he just didn’t particularly care for Arizona, or its people.
Basie moved slowly about the yard, his stiff, ten year-old legs shuffling beneath him, his tongue hanging from his mouth, nose to the sky, searching the airstream for strangers at whom to yap. Dinsdale, still grumpy and hot, saw the mailman approaching and got up to fetch the stack of bills he had prepared for mailing the previous evening. He shook his head as he turned the doorknob, once again briefly thinking of the old white towel signal of the Cha Cha Cha. How things had turned out, he thought. Sixty-eight and still paying a stack of bills every two weeks, trying to stretch every penny to it’s fullest. The screen door slammed behind him and he heard Doreen stir in the living room—the hateful bitch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"No Problem."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010
"No Problem."
Current mood: Argumentative
Category: Blogging

You know what I really hate? I really hate when I thank someone for something – anything, really – and they respond with “no problem”. I don’t know why this bugs me as much as it does, but it seems snarky and dismissive. I would rather hear the classic “you’re welcome”, or my personal favorite – “my pleasure”, which provides the same closure to the thanks, only with a colorful flourish.

“No problem” should only be used in instances where strength, cunning or loyalty is involved.

Example 1: “Can you lift that boulder, Hercules?” “No problem…”

Example 2: “Do you think you can defuse the bomb before the orphanage is destroyed?” “No problem.”

Example 3: “That sonofabitch put me here – if only he would have a tragic accident, he couldn’t give testimony – you think you can take care of that, Chicky?” Chicky: “No problem.”

Used in these contexts, “no problem” is comforting; heroic, even. No longer the dismissive response that alludes that one hasn’t wasted too much of the thankee’s time, it becomes a strong, positive phrase – “you betcha– can-do. I got this one…”

Other acceptable means as a response to “thank you” could be “not at all”, which is breezy and courteous; and “it was nothing…”, which comes off as self-deprecating and humble. On the other hand, one sprightly offshoot of “no problem” can be perfectly acceptable as a response as well. An offhanded “no-problemo” is infectious and cute, especially when used with the forefinger/thumb circle “okay” hand gesture.

I’m not trying to be sensitive, here – but it seems a crime with all the delightful options open to us along these lines, that we should settle for a lumbering phrase such as “no problem” to respond to the simple words “thank you”. Let’s get back some of our grammatical class – first of all, stop abbreviating every goddamn word in your text messages – it gives me a headache to try and decipher all the “How R U” and “LOL” and “ROFLOL” and “OMG” messages that are sent. I can figure them out with enough time and some of the biggies have been committed to memory, but for Chrissakes, if there is a bomb that is going to go off in the orphanage that I might have to heroically disarm, the last thing I need to get is this: “OMG F’ng TNT BAM 2 scared 2 move – pls SOS.”


Okay, that’s another battle, but for now, can we at least consider putting a little bit of thought and feeling into responding to someone who has taken the time to appreciate our solid efforts and offer up a “thank you”? Let’s give them a heady “Not At All!”, and add a jaunty wave if you like. Save the “No problem” for when you have to move a boulder, Hercules.

Watch Jerry bitch about stuff in his video blog at:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oui, Oui, Jerry Lewis!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Oui, Oui, Jerry Lewis!
Current mood:Wistful
Category: Blogging

Not a Labor Day goes by that I don’t at least think about Jerry Lewis. Not only because of all the wonderful work the comedian has done for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but also because of the memories I have of being a kid and staying up late into the night to watch the Telethon every year. I remember watching all the acts in their tuxedos, performing song, dance and schtick through the wee hours and waking up to Jerry Lewis, bowtie now loosened, of course - still carrying the show.

I rarely get the chance to watch the Telethon anymore and when I do happen to tune in, I rarely see the comic. However, this weekend, one of the movie channels made a brilliant move – they had a Jerry Lewis marathon over the holiday. As difficult as it may be to sit through an Jerry Lewis film in its entirety, it is almost necessary to do so to catch all the phenomenal bits of comedy that are gently (and some would say, too rarely)woven throughout. For instance, in the film “The Patsy”, where Jerry plays a busboy who is groomed to be a mega-star comedian, there is a flashback to some sort of high-school dance (again, I was surfing, the television viewing equivalent to skimming) and Jerry is tripped by one of the bully classmates who has been chiding him. CUT TO: A DOORWAY – the camera is focused on the lower half of the door and the three feet of linoleum floor leading offscreen. Jerry comes sliiiiiiiding into the scene and thumps into the door, his body curled, arms and legs akimbo. It is only a brief shot, but one of sheer genius. The timing that went into the editing of the shot, the slide and the position of his body would be not only impossible to replicate, but could have only been pulled off by Jerry Lewis. The scene in the same movie where Jerry nearly breaks a half-dozen vases and artifacts by bumping them off tables only to catch them an instant before they hit the floor is worthy of Chaplin or Keaton.

And speaking of the silent clowns, some of Jerry Lewis’s best work in film is performed with no dialogue. The “Typewriter” scene in “Who’s Minding the Store” comes to mind, as does the pantomime scene in “The Errand Boy”, where Jerry pretends he’s the boss behind the desk to Count Basie’s “Blues in Hoss Flat”. “The Bellboy” has an excellent scene where Jerry conducts a non-existent orchestra and his tennis lesson from “The Big Mouth” is priceless. Look them up on YouTube – it’s worth your time and they will make your day.

Lots of things have been said about Jerry Lewis – he is an arrogant prick, he is overindulgent in his filmmaking and gives a heavy hand to the pathos. He is self-serving, self-righteous and self-aggrandizing. These may be indisputable facts, but I think that the French may be on to something when they give him medals and honors and free rooms at the best hotels. Maybe one day Jerry Lewis will be regarded as less of a punchline in his own country and more of the icon he probably deserves to be. His work with Muscular Dystrophy notwithstanding, the comedian has done some brilliant work that should be remembered, first in his nightclub years with Dean Martin (a tantalizing taste of which is available on their “Colgate Comedy Hour” clips), and then on his own – at one point being top box office draw in the country. He was an innovative director that changed the way comedy films were made, even pioneering the practice of shooting a scene on video as well as film, to get an instant view of the work as it was shot.

You can say a lot of things about Jerry Lewis, some of them disparaging, some admiring, but as Jerry would humbly insist, “please judge the whole fucking pie, Chicky, not just a slice…”

Friday, September 3, 2010

"A Bunny Screaming" Chapter 2 Excerpt

For your Labor Day weekend enjoyment - somewhere in Chapter 2, we meet "Harve".

Harve must have been a young man when the Awful Bee Sting-Thing happened to him. From family photos, I saw Harve on the porch from the time my father was young and even before he was born. Harve was never the focus of these photos, mind you, but he was always there, like a chair or a dog, in the background, while others posed and frolicked and acted the fool in front of the camera.
Harve always looked sixty years old. In the pictures when my dad was a boy, Harve looked sixty. In pictures when I was a tot, Harve looked sixty. My grandmother even shied away from the camera in one photo taken when she was a young woman, holding a hand-rolled cigarette, and there was a sixty-year-old Harve sitting on the porch.
From what I put together over the years, Harve had been walking home to the old family place on his way home from work. Harve, like most able-bodied men in Fairmont, West Virginia, worked at the coalmines. He repaired equipment above ground. It was the only job he had ever had. Somehow, on that walk, along the tree-lined dirt road that led to Monkeywrench Holler, Harve kicked up a hornet nest. Harve ran and rolled, but the hornets followed.
By the time Digger Reynolds found Harve on the side of the road, the hornets had finished the major part of their work. There were a few hornets hovering around Harve’s unconscious form and digger shooed them and rolled Harve over. He didn’t even recognize the bloody, swollen face as that of Harve. He got Harve into the back of his truck and took him to the hospital, where he lingered close to death for four days. They gave him ice baths and swabbed his face and hands, the areas where most of the stings had occurred, with salves and balms. Harve had sustained over two hundred hornet stings. They had gotten up his nose, in his eyes and ears and in his mouth. His tongue had been so swollen that even breathing had become a concern. Thanks to the hornets, Harve was mostly blind and deaf for the rest of his life.
When he came home, my great grandmother and her daughters applied poultices for weeks. Eventually, Harve was able to get around, albeit with great difficulty and humiliation. His breathing was labored and there had been neurological damage as well. I once heard my Grandpa Sam tell my dad that Harve would have been better off if the hornets had just finished him.
Harve had never touched a drop of alcohol before the accident and never really acquired a taste for it, even later on in his life. But Harve drank. Every day, all day long as long as he lived, Harve would sit on the porch and drink whiskey. It didn’t matter what kind, if it was made local, by a neighbor, or store-bought, Harve would drink it. All day, every day. Grandma said it killed the pain. I think it helped kill the loneliness.
One morning, Harve didn’t make it to the porch. My grandmother walked out to the shack behind the home place, where Harve lived, and found him dead, lying peacefully on his little pallet. Grandma said that Harve was smiling. I always found that hard to believe, given the life he had led, but perhaps he knew something I didn’t. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t have to be lonely anymore.

Rick Friggin' Springfield

Friday, September 03, 2010
Rick Friggin' Springfield
Current mood: Animated
Category: Blogging

I first became aware of Rick Springfield like most of the young adults in the mid-1980s – via the television screen in the persona of Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital and through his music video and top-selling single “Jesse’sGirl”. And I dismissed him as a pretty boy-teen idol, as did most young men my age. Especially those of us who were jealous of his good looks, singing talent and ability to strum the living shit out of an electric guitar. I will also grant that no one rocked the Don Johnson cream-colored leisure jacket with its sleeves jacked up to the elbows like Rick – god knows we tried. I looked like a third-rate Phil Collins when I made the effort.

I sang “I’ve Done Everything For You” with The Hired Help throughout most of the eighties, not even realizing that it was written by Sammy Hagar and not Rick Springfield, who had taken it to the top of the charts. I once seduced a young maiden by luring her back to my apartment to listen to “What Kind of Fool Am I” and later drove to Tucson in my friend Dewey’s brand new Toyota pickup truck, with its state of the art sound system and the stern warning to “bring some Kotex pads to put on your shoulders for when your ears start bleeding…” listening to “Calling All Girls” six hundred times – rewinding the cassette to the back to the start over and over again, until we arrived - ears ringing, at our hotel.

Gradually, Rick Springfield faded from the public eye, as I in turn grew older and put whatever memories I might have had of the singer into the dusty, shady trunk of my mind where my thoughts retired to die. My daughters were born in the early 90s and in those days, I often made “mix-tapes” to listen to the car in the cassette player. I usually included “Jesse’s Girl”, “Calling All Girls” (out of a grinning respect for Dewey) and “State of the Heart” from Springfield’s “Tao” album. Not a big chart success, “State of the Heart” was a huuuuuuge success in the Ford-Family Caravan. The twins in their car seats would stare ahead as if blinded by science when the spooky intro began. “It’s juuust a staaate of the heart… Waiting here for…youuu… in the state I’m in…” Then the music would begin and they would bob their little heads to the beat the whole way through. Always a crowd favorite.

I finally got to see Rick Springfield perform live in Chicago at a place called “Joe’s”, in the mid-1990s, with my friend Steve Waste near the place where Dillenger got shot down by G-Men in the thirties. It was shortly after the release of his CD, “Karma”. It was a small club and Rick rocked the place as if it were a 60,000 seat arena. I sweated and sang along with every song, including the new stuff, which I had faithfully committed to memory. It’s not that I was adoring or anything, I simply appreciated the music. Seriously. A younger girl stood next to me and I did my best to explain the songs and their history to her and she bobbed her head along and eventually asked me if she could lay her head on my shoulder. “Sure,” I said. It was no big deal to me – I was having a fan-tas-tic time. After the show, Steve-O asked me if I had gotten the young lady’s number. “No…” I said, smiling at him dumbly. “She was all over you, man,” he told me, shaking his head. I looked around for her and she was nowhere to be found. I have kicked myself firmly in the ass ever since. I have never had a strong radar when it came to the ladies coming on to me – it’s a curse.

I moved to Phoenix and some years later and Springfield eventually came to town and played at the Celebrity Theater. I talked Taggart into going and we turned out to be the only two fellows in the entire venue that weren’t accompanied by a gal who had dragged them to the show. I sang along like a champion to every song and Taggart ran back and forth bringing us fresh rounds of beer. We each had our priorities. There were two young ladies that sat next to us the entire time and appreciated my enthusiasm. “I took pictures,” one of them told me. “You want me to e-mail you copies?” “No,” I said, smiling and trying to finish the last of my beer before we made our way out of the theater. “I’ll be happy to,” she insisted. “No thanks,” I said. “No one will think you’re gay,” she said. “Well, good,” I said. “Because I’M NOT…” She turned away as if I had swatted her in the mouth with a Brill-o pad and I thought for a moment about how it looked – Taggart and I being there like that.

“You think we look gay?” I asked him as the venue emptied. “Oh, fuck yeah,” he nodded, finishing his beer.

Since then I have not attended a Rick Springfield concert, but I have learned that he is coming – soon – to the Talking Stick Casino in Scottsdale. I think I’m going to go… I texted my daughters to rub it in and it appears that he is giving a show nearby to where they live as well. I have offered to pay half of their admittance fee, leaving it to the 2nd ex-Mrs. Ford to foot the rest of the bill, in order that they should attend. I have decided that it is worth the price of admission simply to allow my children to witness the man in concert. They may not get the opportunity to see McCartney, but they need to see where Fallout Boy and the rest get their moves. I will enjoy going to Talking Stick to take in the show. If I look gay, so be it. At least I’ll know all the words.

For Jerry's video blog, go to:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Xeryus - A Musing on Fragrance

Thursday, September 02, 2010
Xeryus - A Musing on Fragrance
Current mood: Appreciative
Category: Blogging

I recently purchased a bottle of my favorite cologne, Givenchy Xeryus, online for something like thirty dollars. I have been wearing this cologne since the mid-1980s and as those who know me are well aware, I am not one to give up on a style just because it has some age to it. It was “a signature fragrance. Xeryus hits all the right notes and does so with terrific aplomb. It is masculine but delicately so, complex but accessible, announces presence but never offputting”, as one reviewer noted. I had always aspired to be present but never offputting, so it seemed the perfect choice for me. Imagine my disheartenment when, in the middle of the 1990s, the cologne simply disappeared. It was no longer available, nowhere to be found. I scoured the earth in search of the scent and found that there was some left in France, but it was no longer available in the United States. Well, rubbish, I thought. I was not about to call France, or even write them a letter simply to try and procure some eu de toilet.

So the search was on – I needed to find a new aroma and I needed to do it quickly. My final bottle of Xeryus was getting down to its last squeezins. Not an easy task. I went back to the cologne I had worn just out of my teens – Halston (Z-14), but found its smell too strong, too sweet. I had apparently outgrown the Halston, which I had used for five or six productive years. It went on the shelf as an emergency backup. I visited makeup counters in low-end shops and fancy stores where the lovely salesladies wore smocks. I squirted and sniffed and took home countless packets of samples, none of which made me feel comfortable as my courtly gray bottle of Xeryus had done for lo, these many years. Some made me nauseous, others made me cry; most required an immediate shower, with a hardy, lye-based soap. “Who cares,” one of my friends said when I was weeping about it over a cold tall and frosty. “It’s just cologne… Pick up a bottle of Aramis - chicks love the Aramis.” “But chicks reeeeally love the Xeryus,” I muttered. He shrugged and left me to my tears.

I found some sample bottles of Xeryus on sale and bought some – they were exact teeny replicas of the stately gray bottles in which the magical concoction was bottled and sold. It was if the Givenchy corporation was trying to erase the fragrance from history – they were throwing the last of the survivors into the discount bin. These lasted awhile and there followed a blue period when my medicine cabinet was littered with various bottles for which I had neither affinity nor loyalty. At one point, I even found that I could buy Woohue online - the cologne that Sinatra and Dean Martin had worn in the 60's that had been off the market for thirty years. It didn't live up to its ratpackuous reputation. I was underwhelmed. It was a dark time.

When I broke up with the second ex-Mrs. Ford, the twins stayed with Mom to live – I lived close by, so I could have them with me on certain days of the week. I’m sure some of you know the routine. Allison, it seemed, had a particularly hard time with the separation and it was suggested by a grandmother in the business that I should spritz a favorite stuffed animal (of the little girl, not mine) with my cologne. I took one of the mini-bottles out of the heavy-duty home safe that protected my valuables against theft, fire and witchcraft and dashed some of the precious fluid onto a small stuffed bear. It worked wonders and helped the child with her separation anxiety. It made the cologne even more valuable – it was magic.

I stumbled through the next few years in an odoriferous haze- functional, but never efficient; aware, but never attentive. I grew weary with those around me. Tasks meant nothing, other than to get to the end of another sepia-toned day. I was nearing the end of my rope – had another year passed in this indecisive quagmire of fragrance-limbo, I cannot imagine the horrors that might have erupted. Then, one typically depressing sunny day, on a random shopping expedition, a weekly task that I shuffled through, mostly moaning and erupting in vicious jags of weeping while picking through the chips and the onions, I glanced as I always did – with a short, static burst of hopefulness – at the men’s fragrances on the makeup aisle. Not only did this keep me updated on the latest disappointing fragrances, it camouflaged my taste for the occasional colorful rouge.

And there it was.

It was in a short box, which contained a small, stumpy, etched-glass bottle – “Xeryus”, the label read; “By Givenchy”. My heart skipped a beat and I fell to my knees weeping. Security was called and I was escorted from the premises. Once I had regained my questionable composure, I dashed to a nearby Target and fast-walked to the cosmetic counter. “XERYUS” – right next to the other men’s colognes. IT WAS BACK! I immediately purchased a bottle and tore open the box on my way out of the store, spraying myself liberally as I walked. “YES!” I shouted. The bottle was different – gone was the stately gray, faux-art deco bottle with its daring lines and elegant script – but there was no denying that the fragrance was the same.

The world came into focus and for the first time in years, I felt alive. I cleaned my house and ridded myself of all the other fragrances cluttering the medicine cabinet. They were dead to me now. Xeryus had come home. I am still in recovery, but each day gets a little easier. The fragrance, it seems, relaxes me and brings me comfort that helps center my universe. Retrieving that which has been absent brings a new respect and appreciation for everything around one and every morning when I spritz, I find myself appreciating the new day that is upon me. It is truly a gift.

For Jerry's video blog, go to:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Dogs Go a Ramblin'

Date: Aug 31, 2010
When Dogs Go a Ramblin'
Current mood: argumentative
Category: Blogging
A facsimile of Mandy, the Ugliest Dog Alive

As I have stated many times in the past, I am not a big animal-person. I enjoy petting a loyal hound as much as the next guy, or watching the fish make their endless way around the 10-gallon aquarium, but the shine pretty much wore off the nickel as far as owning and maintaining pets around the time I discovered girls and dating and music and baseball and other things that would make much better use of my time than picking up scat that I had not personally put somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be.

Regardless, I am the owner of the ugliest dog alive, a sprightly mix of Chihuahua and poodle that came out with a wiry, pig-hair that covers most of its body. It is small, it is sneaky and it doesn’t respond to commands unless there is some sort of treat in return. I offered to take the animal from my sister, who had raised the dog from the time it was a pup and in the interim had picked up a Rottweiler and a Doberman, which the little dog – we’ll call her Mandy ( I did not name the animal, as I have stated before, had it been left up to me, I would have named it “Hagrid”) – grew weary of in short order. Mandy began pissing where she shouldn’t and turned into a crabby curmudgeon around the house. I felt a kinship with the dog, given that I am of similar temperament, and since I had taken over stewardship of my two daughters, thought it would be a welcomed addition to our household and I would not be responsible for its upkeep – that’s what the daughters were for.

That being said, when my daughters mended fences with their mother three years later and went back to live with her, I was left with the ugly little dog. Apparently, Mom had two large dogs which would eat Mandy in short order given the opportunity. So, I was stuck with the beast and we have struck a comfortable relationship. I call her, she doesn’t come. I feed her, she goes outside to do her business. Everyone is happy.

So it was surprising last week when I let her out to do her morning business and she disappeared. I whistled to no response – not surprising, and I drove around the neighborhood for a half-hour before I had to leave for work and the dog was nowhere to be found. I assumed that she had been hit by a car or devoured by coyotes and went on my way to work. Two days later, on a random drive around my neighborhood – I was not looking for the dog, for your information – I often drive around my neighborhood in 100+ degree heat with no air conditioning. I find it builds character.

There she was. Wandering the street in the sun, tongue out, a defiant spring in her step. I pulled over to the side of the street and opened my door. “Mandy! Get in the car, dammit!” She trotted over and hopped in under my legs and up onto the passenger seat as if we had just come from the park. “And where in the hell have you been?" I shouted. She held up her paw. “I will not talk to you about this,” she answered, giving me every bit as much attitude as any teenager – she must have been watching.

“I have a right to know,” I yelled. She looked out the window, sniffing the air as I drove. “I am too tired for this conversation,” she said. And that’s the last she has spoken. She refuses to talk to me now – she will howl now and again if there are treats involved, but that’s it. That night, she threw up some God-awful mess and shat on my kitchen floor, but then living on the streets as a canine hobo will do that to a dog’s constitution, I suppose. I had to clean it up the next morning. Apparently, she wasn’t going to help out around the house, either. I nearly gagged while cleaning up the mess. She looked at me with what appeared to be a grin on her mangy face as I barely contained my own stomach, but I withered her with a stare.

Things have returned mostly to normal. I call her, she doesn’t come. She saves her poop and whatever else for the out of doors and we keep to ourselves. The dog is too prideful to admit she was wrong in running away and I will not take total responsibilities for her actions. But I am there if she wants to apologize and she is welcome to help out around the house once in awhile. Until then, we agree to disagree.

For Jerry's video blog, go to:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Man Mauled and Killed By Bear - A Brief Lesson in Common Sense

Thursday, August 26, 2010
Man Mauled and Killed By Bear - A Brief Lesson in Common Sense
Current mood: Bewildered
Category: Blogging

As I was skimming the news last week, I saw an article about a man in Ohio who had been mauled and killed by a black bear. Not surprising – bears have been killing folks for years. The surprising thing was that the bear was owned along with eight other bears in an apparent menagerie outside Cleveland that also included some tigers and a lion and about twenty wolves. The man who was killed had been employed by the guy who owned all the creatures, as much as any man can own a wild, carnivorous animal that can maul you, bite you or tear you to death and have you for dinner at its whim. Perhaps a better phrase would be “caged all the creatures”. And as we have seen time and time again, caged animals really don’t enjoy it all that much. That’s why monkeys fling their excrement and various circus and zoo personnel have been dispatched in bloody fashion over the years when their bloodthirsty charges have finally had enough.

The man who was killed – we’ll let him remain nameless out of respect for the deceased – had chosen to work with the menagerie, which consisted of mostly animals who avoid mankind overall and generally kill them in the wild when humans are forced upon them. Heck, even the Grizzly Man, who lived among the creatures in the wild for extended periods of time ended up becoming simply a part of the food chain when vittles became scarce. Not a big animal fan anyhow, I do believe that given the choice, I would rather assist in the management of a more peaceful menagerie – perhaps some cows, or sheep. Not birds – I hate those things. Sloths would be good – I could always outrun a sloth. The only way a sloth could be dangerous would be if it fell directly on you from the tree branch from which it hung. And those Goddamn claws would have your breakfast on the ground for you if one sliced you in a freak sloth-fall. So keep the sloths, too. So, let’s recap – cows or sheep –that’s about it. No birds, or reptiles. Or wolverines at any cost. I would not tend to any animal that would have the means to throw me into the air, either. That includes elephants, rhinos, angry bulls and the larger primates. And nothing that could tear me apart – no big cats, hyenas, schools of piranha, or Javelina.

So if it came down to basic animal management, I would feel comfortable with herding cattle or sheep, if I didn’t have to mount a horse to do so. Once mounted on the horse, it becomes a beast that can throw me into the air, which would immediately disqualify it from the proceedings. That limits me to sheepherding. Or feeding non-aggressive fish that live in an aquarium, or a small pond. I don’t trust water much when push comes to shove and don’t even eat fish, so I may just be limited to herding the docile sheep. I don’t want any of those fucking rams with the curly horns, either. Keep them up on the dangerous slopes if they’re so sure-footed, not near my herd – we are a peaceful group and prefer to keep it that way.

But the fact of the matter is that I would prefer to work in a potato chip factory, or someplace where they bake cookies, as long as I could work around those savory aromas, yet still be comfortably air-conditioned. Animals are unpredictable and working with them little more than yelling and stomping, I imagine. On the other hand, the delicate cooking of the potato chip or the baking of a perfect cookie, generously festooned with sizeable chocolate chips would be almost an art. I could work with my hands, which have proven to be quite dexterous over the years, if it didn’t involve too much activity that would bruise or blister them. Assembling scale models of buildings, boats or airplanes is a possibility.

But my preferences of career choice are not why I am writing.

I am writing to ponder why a man would own such a dangerous menagerie of beasts in the first place. It would seem that a person would always have to be on alert when strolling the property, simply waiting for the day when the gate is left open and he is attacked by twenty angry, vicious, hungry wolves. And why would another simpleton hire on to feed and wrestle with them, as the article stated. I don’t mean to disparage the dead, but Jesus Christ, man – what were you thinking??? Buy some peacocks, or some llamas. I would not venture near either on a dare, but compared to wrestling with bear or chucking raw meat to a lion, caring for a llama would be a walk in the park.

All I’m saying is – by all means, follow your dream - do something you love. That’s what makes life worthwhile. Unless it involves wild, bloodthirsty beasts that will eventually eat you alive when you let your guard down. And if you must tend them, do it sober, please.

Jerry Ford – here with another public service announcement.

For Jerry's video blog, go to:

My BEST Job Ever

Thursday, August 26, 2010
My BEST Job Ever
Current mood: Nostalgic
Category: Blogging

The best job I ever had came after a series of disappointing endeavors, up to and including the unfortunate plumbing episode. Once I had sworn never to work in the dastardly world of human waste, it didn’t take long for me to stumble into the equally filthy world of retail. Long known as a money-grubbing, profit-only enterprise, selling goods of popular need to the public at a profitable margin, retailers have long been considered the bottom-feeders of the business world. I tend to disagree.

The best job I ever had came to me through my friend Raoul, who worked at a hardware store called Handyman – nowadays, it would be called a “home improvement center”, selling a variety of hardware, lumber, electrical, plumbing and garden center items. Handyman was the precursor to the Home Depots and Lowes that are now sprinkled in every neighborhood in the country. Not quite as big as these warehouses, Handyman was larger than your Ace locations – in fact, one of the stores I worked at on 7th street and Camelback was home for a ToysRUs for many years.

I worked with Raoul in the building materials department, selling 2x4s and lengths of carpet from rolls, measured with a hand-held tape measure and cut with a box cutter using an eight-foot 2x4 as a straight edge. We sold sand and mortar and floor tiles and chicken wire – I once sold a section of chicken wire to a polite elderly gentleman. Being a film buff, I recognized him as Buster Crabbe, the former Olympic swimmer who had played Flash Gordon and Tarzan in the 1940s. He didn’t really resemble the Buster Crabbe of the 40s, but I had seen him on Merv Griffin or something. “You look just like Buster Crabbe,” I said. The man’s face lit up like a Christmas tree – for a moment I thought he was having a stroke. Being only nineteen years old, I was not trained for that eventuality. “I am Buster Crabbe,” he said, shaking my hand and taking the chicken wire I had cut. It was my first run-in with celebrity. I told my co-workers and no one knew who Buster Crabbe was. Raoul said he did, but I thought then and still figure that he was bluffing.

We once made a blow-gun out of a six-foot length of aluminum tubing, using a finishing nail, wound with a cone of masking tape as the dart. We practiced shooting at the rolls of carpet we stored on-end, which were wrapped in brown paper and looked like massive upright cigars. Eventually, I shot Raoul in the thigh and we were called to the office and lectured by Sam Cassius, our manager, who stood about five-foot three and was often under the knife for some heart ailment or another. We wore nametags that were issued with the Dyna-mo tape labels that were fashioned in the gun with the rotary wheel that lined up the letters and numbers. You pulled the trigger and the pressure of the mechanism stamped the tape with the letters. I often got ahold of the label-gun and made my own name tags: Ernest T. Bass, Seymore Butts, Buckwheat, Jonny Quest, Gepetto and Officer Friendly made brief appearances, but whenever I was spotted by management wearing the tags with the fake names, I was forced to retire the tape and replace it with my own proper name, which varied from J. Ford to Jerald L. Ford to JLFord, esq., depending on my mood. The fake name tags ended up stuck to the inside of the door to my locker.

The cashiers that were hired by Handyman were even younger than me and no smarter. I once told the cashier up front that Mrs. Hunt was looking for her husband and would she please page him to the garden shop. His name was Mike. “MIKE HUNT TO THE GARDEN SHOP, PLEASE – MIKE HUNT…” There was a couple of moments pause as laughter trickled from various aisles of the store, then another announcement: “JERRY TO THE OFFICE, PLEASE – JERRY TO THE OFFICE…”

Around 1983 or 1984, our band The Hired Help was playing at a little club across the street called “Lonnegan’s”. We knew all the staff there and it had become our regular hangout, even on the nights we weren’t playing. My birthday came one July and Mike Taggart, keyboard player, high-school buddy and rogue-at-large showed up at Handyman to take me to lunch to celebrate. Never big on celebrating my birthday, I reluctantly accompanied Taggart to Lonnegan’s and consumed lunch, which consisted of three bottled beers and several Kamikazees. I went back to work and my manager took one look at my flushed, smiling face – me with my vest buttoned all crooked – and grabbed me by the arm and dragged me up the stairs to the office. “You’re drunk,” she said. Her name was Jamie and she stood maybe five-foot two and weighed 80 pounds if you counted her attitude. “Nuh-uh,” I replied, stumbling up the stairs as she shoveled me along. She took me into the big office – Sam’s office and closed the door. I figured my hardware career had come to a drunken, screeching halt. “I’m going to put in some videos and I want you to sit in here until it’s time for you to go home.” I nodded dumbly, wondering just when that would be – I rarely wore a watch. She put in a video and I stretched out on the little sofa and went to sleep. My job had been saved.

I worked at Handyman for six or seven years and had many adventures, none of which featured deadly swordplay, spies, zombies or boll-weevils. I was bit behind the ear by a black widow once, which caused blinding headaches, double-vision and nausea, but that was the closest I ever came to real danger – even though I was permitted to work the table saw, cutting lumber and carried a really sharp box-cutter at all times. It wasn’t Hollywood, I wasn’t auditioning exotic strippers and I wasn't making a living writing - which to this day I have yet to figure out how to do. I didn’t make much money and was constantly in trouble with the powers that be, but these things considered, they were a lenient lot and laughed with me even as they put on their “boss” faces. I think they appreciated my moxie. I made lots of friends – my buddies in the warehouse and “Woody” Page. For these reasons and many others, I have to rank Handyman as the best job I ever had.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Worst Job Ever

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
My worst job ever...
Current mood: amused
Category: Blogging

The worst job I ever had, I worked for one day. Didn’t even wait to get paid. I had begun my equitable employment when I was nine years old, working for my father. Every summer, I scraped windows, cleaned paintbrushes, hauled roofing shingles up ladders – sometimes more than one story, which is something akin to jumping off a ledge at the Grand Canyon for someone with my fear of heights – mixed mud, hauled hod, stacked brick, cleaned up, set up, tore up and filled up every manner of construction job imaginable. I did this for seven years, until I was old enough to get another job – any job, anywhere. I made two dollars per hour every year, which was one reason I wanted to find another job as soon as possible. I made a hundred dollars a week most weeks, which was the other reason I wanted to seek other employment as soon as humanly possible. This meant that the old man had worked me for fifty hours per week, which I would not dream of working today, unless the work involved processing high-grade cocaine or auditioning world-class strippers. The fact that my father bought my morning chocolate milk and mini-powdered donuts and hot lunch did not dissuade me from searching out another means of earning.

This was not the worst job I ever had, however. I learned a lot by working for my father – I learned a bunch of salty language and more importantly, I cultivated a strong work ethic, which has rightfully diminished over the years, but still managed to stain my character. The first job I found outside the family was being a busboy at the Scottsdale Hilton, located at Lincoln and Scottsdale Roads, the highlight of which was assisting the regular waitress to Forrest Tucker, to whom she would serve vodka on the rocks in a water glass, lest his wife and handlers find out he was imbibing. Apparently, he was not supposed to be boozing. To me, he was a legend for his work in “F-Troop” and I found it acceptable to serve up his hooch in a plastic cup and listen to his tales of the Golden Age of Hollywood as his speech began to slur in direct proportion to the vicious squeezins he was surreptitiously consuming. Looking back, I was amazed that he was never found out – at least not that I knew. Then again, who knew what happened in the penthouse of the Hilton in the Desert once they had left the dining hall. The only other memorable incident that summer was that Elvis died. It was odd to me to lose an icon – I hadn’t had the experience up to that point, but it would not be the last time, as it turned out. Still, I always connect the death of the King to the Scottsdale Hilton, right or wrong. Oh – and a lady answered the door in her lingerie when I went to deliver room service one time and asked me to come in and set the tray on the bed. I stammered, handed her the tray and bolted down the hall, not waiting for a tip, not looking back. I was seventeen. I have relived this memory countless times in the past, duly kicking myself in the figurative ass, wondering just what might have happened had I set the tray on the bed. Had this delivery been made properly, I have concluded, it would warrant more space in this writing. What a puss.

The worst job I ever had came shortly thereafter. I was recommended by my father – no doubt because it was known I would work cheap – and hired by one of Dad’s drinking buddies to work as a plumber’s apprentice. I was not adverse to hard work and the pay was decent – especially compared to that of the elder Ford character – so I drove to the office and hopped into a plumber’s van with Dad’s buddy Arnie, who was going to show me the ropes. I was put to the task of digging a trench in a yard of a home in the desert and I set about digging and wondering when we would break for lunch – all at the same time – even then a classic multi-tasker. I dug down to the PVC pipe that had been laid at some point in history, from which the problem apparently generated. At this point, Arnie donned his work gloves and knelt over the ditch I had dug and brought forth a coping saw, with which he began to cut through the pipe. I watched with eager anticipation, ever the learner, still wondering when lunch would come and whether I had packed enough sandwiches. It was hot and I was hungry – digging trenches had proven to be hard work. Arnie had cut through the pipe and separated the pieces and begun to assemble the replacement workings when there was a sudden rumbling. Arnie backed away from the trench and motioned for me to retreat. “Get back!” he warned, and I did. Water began to flow out of the pipe, followed by a couple of good-sized, praise-worthy turds and a lump of toilet paper for my viewing enjoyment. I nearly vomited and quit right on the spot, never being the possessor of a strong stomach – a curse of my hill lineage. This is no knock against those who toil in feces - more power to you. But given my delicate constitution and unrivaled sensibilities, I could tell immediately that this was not the career path I would be pursuing for the long-term. Nor the short-term. I don’t even remember how I made it back to the office, or my car. I never sought out Arnie again for payment, or further employment. In fact, when I saw him on the street, I usually crossed to the other side and sprinted for cover. I spoke poorly of him whenever given the opportunity – he and his family, with whom I had no acquaintance. That was my worst job ever.

Tomorrow – my BEST job ever.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things That Eat My Flesh

The hideous and nightmarish Crane Fly

I am being devoured while I sleep. Not by a sultry vixen with a striking resemblance to Raquel Welch as you might imagine, or I might wish – nay, pray – for. Not by nightmares of world Armageddon triggered by great swarms of deadly jellyfish, or reading from the good book in front of the congregation wearing nothing but my drawers. Not by a stomach disorder, insomnia or bed-wetting.

This is much more serious.

I am being devoured by creatures of the night – unseen biters that make me welt up and itch. I would assume mosquito, but I have not noted these nasty little predators flying around my dwelling. I have seen the great, terrifying crane-fly lumbering through the air and killed as many as my deft hands and limited constitution would endure. It’s not that the deft hands really had anything to do with the dispatching of these winged monsters (Google them – it’s a fright); they float with the dexterity of a misshapen balloon, which only makes them more frightening, if easier to kill. Unlike the mosquito, which are more stealth-like and vicious and harder to spot, especially without my glasses on.

Regardless of my still-keen dexterity and the ease with which the crane-flies allow themselves to be dashed from the sky, the nocturnal nibbling of my flesh continues unabated. This is not acceptable – those who know me are aware of my many phobias, including my well-documented fear of birds, wolverines, circus clowns and certain types of wood. Most of these irrational fears could probably be controlled, if not cured by years of therapy or medication, neither of which I have the patience to indulge in. Except for circus clowns – no amount of drugs or soft, wheedling talk could ever cure my disdain for these evil, devilish fuckers. We can now add “things that feed on my flesh” to the list. This would include the aforementioned mosquitoes, zombies, leeches, vampires and carrion such as hyenas and coyotes. Flying carrion, like vultures and buzzards are already included because they are birds.

But I am not writing to whine about my various and powerful phobias. I am writing because I think I may be victim to bedbug infestation. From articles I have looked at – again, I mostly skim – it appears that there is a plague of these little bastards sweeping the East coast. Even the iconic Empire State Building has not been able to escape the ravages of the bedbug and I fear that I may be the one who has carried the epidemic to my beloved desert.

It all started with my trip to Iowa to visit my daughters and my sister, who ironically has also chosen to live in Iowa. Ironic because I don’t think I have met anyone in my entire life who has made the deliberate choice to move themselves and all their stuff to Iowa, now I know half a dozen if I include my sister’s husband and daughter (who really had no say in the operation) and my daughter’s mother. Iowa to me is just West Virginia with corn. But again, I digress. I sat out on the porch at my sister’s house and was nearly eaten alive by what I assumed were mosquitoes – again, the dastardly little monsters were hard to spot; I saw nothing. I got back home and the itching and welting began in earnest, keeping me awake at night digging at the wounds and making up new curse words to adequately describe my agony.

Then, once the Iowa Bites (as I have named them) began to heal and stop itching, new ones began to appear. Not just on my calves and feet – no, not this time. Whatever little carnivore is choosing to eat me alive is moving around , catching me on my arm, my neck, my chest. At first I blamed it on the crane-fly, the idea of which was almost too hideous to bear, but after careful research found that they didn’t prey on flesh at all. I still kill them when I can, as I would any invading wolverine, zombie or circus clown. I fear that I have been infested with the bed-bug. I will continue to fight and search out any hidden predators of the night that may linger in the shadows of my darkened room, but have no fear – if this constant attack continues, I will not hesitate to burn my sheets, my bed, my clothing, an ugly dog and my apartment to spare those around me. I will set myself aflame in a blaze of sweet-smelling oils if that’s what it takes to keep the epidemic contained. Or it could be spiders – could anything be worse?

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"A Bunny Screaming" Chapter 1 Excerpt

Somewhere in Chapter One...

My parents had broken up when I was 15. This caused me no great shakes at the time—I was old enough to appreciate only having one parent with whom to fight and agonize over all trivial matters. Also, when Mom left, I knew Dad well enough to know that it was going to be an open road, as long as the dishes were done and the lawns were mowed. He would now be free to carouse and chase skirts like any forty year-old man in his position. And his grass would be well manicured and there would be no unsightly bacteria growing in his kitchen sink.
The irony is not lost on me that both my father and I went through our little epiphany at the same age. But my epiphany had come to an entirely different type of man. For one thing, I did not have my father’s capacity for random cruelty.
“I can tell by your face,” Dad would sing at the dining room table when I was a toddler. “That you’re a member of the monkey race—you’re bound to look like a monkey when you grow old…” Since I was a boy, the picture of Dad at the table, drinking his coffee before work, guitar in hand, is as vivid as any memory I have. The fact that he would sing songs about my resemblance to the simian only furthers my opinion that my father was not overly fond of me.


There is snow on the ground. Toddler Jerry plays with his pet Beagle, Cleo. His father, obviously nursing a killer hangover, loads construction supplies into the back of his Studebaker. He runs a sliver into his hand.

God damn it!

Jerry continues to play with Cleo. Playful, the puppy nips his finger. Startled, Jerry begins to cry. Father strides over, still trying to pull the splinter out of his hand.

God damn it—stop that crying! What the hell is the matter with you?

(Points at the dog) Cleo bit me!

Father picks up the puppy by the scruff of the neck and hurls the squealing dog over the small house. Jerry bawls.

There, God damn it…

Father walks away, gets in his car and never thinks about the issue again. As far as Father is concerned, the problem has been solved.

I thought about that moment the morning of my fortieth birthday as I stood in front of the mirror, with my face covered in shaving cream. I now noticed wrinkles and even the dark circles under my eyes. And those little skin-tags that had begun to take root in my armpits, buried in the tangle of middle-aged hair there. The cycle had begun when my Dad threw the puppy over the house. Perhaps that day, perhaps later, on the porch with Uncle Harve, perhaps on one of any number of days—who knows. The cycle of the quick temper and petty intolerance, which is the breeding ground of the mid-life surliness, I’m nearly certain.
I shaved my face and thought about Cleo, and Dad, and my mom and Uncle Harve, and all the dark, sexy women I had known, and all the blondes I had tolerated and even married, and that morning, began the Great Search—we all have one, sooner or later—the Great Search For Meaning. I was now middle-aged, I had turned into my father, and I needed to know why.
I drove to work that day, as every day, and parked my car, as I always parked my car. “How are you, this morning, Jerry?” Phil the parking attendant asked as I strolled into the office complex that served as the epicenter of my daily life.
“Forty,” I replied.
“Right,” Phil said, his gaze returning to his Enquirer.
I made my way to my cubicle and sat down in front of the computer monitor. The lazy manatee that served as my screen saver floated listlessly on the screen and suddenly, it reminded me, in form and action, of Wife #2. I touched a key on the keypad and the image vanished, revealing the desktop beneath. “Another day at the salt-mines,” I mumbled to myself.

When I was eight and my little sister was four, we were on a trip from Ohio to West Virginia. It was a trip of about four hours and we had made it many times. Dad’s family was from Fairmont and we often went there so he could get drunk at my grandmother’s little house, instead of our little house.
Dad and Mom had been arguing over something. We children had been pacified with a bag of potato chips. The bag was a shiny, aluminum foil-type with blue writing—this much I remember. We were enjoying the chips despite the goings-on in the front seat. “Eat those God-damned chips a little quieter, would you?” Dad groused over his shoulder.
“Don’t take it out on the kids,” Mom countered. We ate—much quieter, we thought. Somehow, though, we must have gotten carried away with the chips’ deliciousness…
Dad: “Chew with your God-damned mouths shut, God damn it!”
Mom: “Ronnie…”
Suddenly, with the wiliness that can only be attributed to those who are thin and wiry, like my dad, his arm reached almost nearly behind him and yanked the bag of chips from my hand. In one, smooth, fluid motion the chips were out of the car and onto the highway. I turned my head quickly and in the glow of the taillights, I saw the foil chip bag and the chips tumbling in the snow.
My sister cried for a few minutes and fell asleep. I smiled in the darkness, the magical image of the shiny bag and the chips flying through the air in the red darkness replaying in my mind like a movie. I suppose my mother and father were enjoying the newfound silence, because neither spoke until we got to my grandmother’s house, some three hours later.

I couldn’t bear to sit at my cubicle. There was no focus—I simply stared into space through the newly-epiphanated air. I wasn’t used to the new haze that lingered over my life, so it was nearly impossible to function in a normal manner. I walked to the coffee machine—I never drank coffee, didn’t like the taste. Toad was at the machine, filling a cup. “Morning, Jer.”
“Toad,” I said, plucking a Styrofoam cup from the upside down stack. I thought that maybe coffee was what was missing in my life—after all, I hadn’t drunk it for forty years, and I didn’t seem to be doing that great. What the hell, maybe I would try it for the next forty and see if it made a difference.
Toad was an on-air personality at the radio station where I worked. I sold airtime. I assumed that his job was much more interesting than mine. Toad poured coffee into my cup. I sipped. “I didn’t think you drank coffee, Jerry…”
The coffee tasted horrible—bitter and hot. “I don’t,” I shrugged.
“Right,” Toad said. “Well, have a good one, man…”
I broke open a couple of pink packets of sweetener and dumped it into the cup. “See ya, Toad.” I sipped again. Mary, who worked in accounting, came by to fill a cup. I could see that I had been missing not only coffee, but also a golden social opportunity for all these years. “Morning, Mary,” I said, adding creamer to my Java.
“Hi, Jerry,” Mary said. Mary was very tall and unpeasant-like, but still struck me as a viable candidate for the next ex-Mrs. Jerry. She had long, black hair and long, long legs. She was a little light in the chest department, but was blessed with a great set of teeth that was usually framed nicely by a tasteful shade of crimson lipstick. Hubba-hubba. “How’s the coffee?”
“Great,” I said, sipping from the cup. Rumor had it that Mary had gotten lit at the company Christmas party two years earlier and banged three guys in a conference room. I had heard the rumor third-hand, and had yet to get any first-hand confirmation. I didn’t suppose now was the right time to bring it up.
Mary sipped, and winked. “Have a great day, Jer.”
“Sure thing,” I said. Even if the rumor was completely fabricated, it sure gave a guy something to think about over his cup of Joe. I added six ice cubes and stirred the coffee. Then I drank it like a shot of whiskey. Fast and hard. I grimaced and crushed the cup in my hand, then threw it into the garbage can. I walked back to my cubicle, wondering how long it would be before I could legitimately consider going to lunch.

Bo Knows - A Follow-Up

Friday, August 20, 2010
Bo Knows - A Follow-Up
Current mood: blustery
Category: Blogging

I called it. I hate to toot my own horn or ring my own bell or pat my own back – you get the picture, but when the young lady got hit by the foul ball in Houston because her ne’er do-well boyfriend shot out of the way as if snakebit instead of catching the ball, I proceeded to outline the young lady’s entire future in a blog (see blog of August 11 – “Houston, Land of Chivalry – An American Fairy Tale”), detailing the events that were to follow without question should she not immediately put an end to their sham of a relationship. After all, self-preservation instinct notwithstanding, what is the upside of dating a guy who will sacrifice his girlfriend’s safety because he can’t catch a baseball? Well, apparently after several appearances on national television shows after the video of the episode went major viral, she did indeed put the ky-bosh on the ill-fated union.

But that is merely good common sense – here is where the story gets truly interesting… The boyfriend – let’s call him Bo, that’s his name – is a pouter. Hurt because he was dumped by the young lady, Bo has threatened to put out racy photos on the internet, a ploy to no-doubt humiliate the woman who had deemed him unworthy. Instead of humiliation, however, this threat merely served to propel this lady directly to step 3 or 4 of my blog – the one where she sells her body to a sleazy magazine. She stepped up and offered herself up in order to not only thwart Bo’s efforts to drag her through the mud, but to pick up a little easy lucre along the way.

Even though she has yet to murder Bo (don’t count it out), or throw herself down the hardwood spiral staircase of drug abuse, or meet and marry Todd Bridges on “Celebrity Rehab”, I have the feeling that she is only shuffling the deck. Give it some time and she will hunt that sonofabitch Bo down and snuff him like a Tiparello. Then she will fall into line and you can observe as my predictions indeed come to fruition. It’s only a matter of time… Next time you dodge out of the way of a baseball and let your lady take the shot, just beware and learn from Bo. Do the right thing: Don’t warn her – get those nudies out there before while there is still some easy jack to be made.

Jerry Ford – here to help.

Coming for the weekend – a sneak peak of “A Bunny Screaming”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Doomed and Alone - Jerry Goes "Survivorman"

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Doomed and Alone - Jerry Goes "Survivorman"
Current mood:Brave
Category: Blogging

We’ve all seen “Survivorman” and “Man vs. Wild” and we thrill as Bear and Les throw themselves into all sorts of survival situations, which most of us will never experience, or even have nightmares over. Just watching them exhausts me. A week’s worth of survival in deserts, rain forests and frozen tundra are overcome in an hour’s viewing time, though I am nearly certain it would take me far less than an hour to be devoured or perish in the wilderness if I should happen to be trapped or dropped off there by mistake by a drunken taxi driver unfamiliar with local terrain. I have long subscribed to the philosophy that one should never trust a taxi driver, especially one unfamiliar with the local terrain, but unfortunately by the time you realize you have been commandeered by a directionally-challenged simpleton with a vaguely indecipherable accent, it is usually too late. As you watch the taxi skitter off undoubtedly into the gaping maw of a bloody tragedy generally reserved for the weak of mind, you realize you are stranded in the desert, or the woods or the ice-nest – locations that any third-rate murder mystery worth its salt has ever dumped a still-warm carcass. Most of us, myself for sure, are more than likely doomed in such a situation. The most we can hope for is that we perish with dignity – though I am inclined to believe that I would no-doubt be found naked and covered in a pitiful cocoon of my own waste and tears.

It is with this thought that I came up with my most brilliant idea ever for a short video comedy. “Doomed and Alone” would feature Jean-Claude Vanderpoofe (played by yours truly) as an inept, chubby, middle-aged man, prone to panic and devoid of any survival skills whatsoever, dropped into the desert and forced to survive without supplies or support. He is the sort of man who would (and does) weep as the support vehicle drops him off in his remote desert locale and as he sorts through his meager provisions, smiles slyly and reveals that he has smuggled a box of Ding-Dongs along (“I have this pocketknife, thirty seven cents in small change and THEEEEESE…”).

A brief treatment:

VANDERPOOFE, while expounding sound survival techniques, wanders aimlessly in the desert, growing more and more desperate as he increases his pace and sheds valuable clothing and drinks all his water.

Near nightfall, Vanderpoofe tells us how important it is to create a solid base camp and fire and fails miserably at doing both and we FADE to him waking the next morning, sans fire, fire-making tools scattered uselessly about, curled on the desert floor, shivering and babbling about Hamburger Helper and Cutty Sark.

CUT TO: Midday. Vanderpoofe is sitting in the sun weeping, his face smeared with chocolate and the empty Ding-Dong box sitting beside him in the dirt, stuffing the last of the chocolate cake and cream goodness into his mouth.

CUT TO: Vanderpoofe swaying back and forth on his feet, his face still streaked with chocolate, telling us how important hydration is in the desert. “Sometimes it is necessary for one to drink his own urine.” Looks earnestly at camera. “Seriously.”

CUT TO: A variety of shots of Vanderpoofe attempting to drink his own urine. Including, but not limited to:

-Lying on his back, attempting to catch his stream as it cascades over his face like rainfall.

-Peeing into a sock, explaining how to strain the urine, only to stare forlornly at the wasted puddle in the dirt.

-Peeing into his shoe and savoring it like champagne from a prom slipper.

From then on, Vanderpoofe’s shoe squishes at each step, punctuating his worthless pronunciations on survival.

CUT TO: A desperate Vanderpoofe chews on the aluminum foil wrappers from the Ding-Dongs which hang from his lips, weeping in the shade of a mesquite bush. “Sometimes, you simply have to give in to the overwhelming and unconquerable will of the wild.”

He lays down to die and the camera pans back to reveal that Vanderpoofe has given up not ten feet from the “Welcome to Scottsdale” sign. Further panning reveals a busy thoroughfare and we:


Of course, this is only a rough treatment, with much comic potential, given my natural aptitude for physical comedy and uncanny knack for harvesting a deep-seated emotional attachment from the lady-folk in my audience. Any of my filmmaker friends want to have a go? I smell a YouTube viral blockbuster.

To purchase Jerry's third-rate murder/mysteries, go to:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

40 vs. 50 - A Parable

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
40 vs. 50 - A Parable
Current mood: Handsome
Category: Blogging

I recently turned 50. I have long held the position that a birthday is just another day. I felt so little for the celebration of the event that I once handed it over to my daughters, who had the misfortune of being born on December 23, which is simply unfair. With the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the Christmas holiday, a birthday in the vicinity is inevitably overlooked, leading to a dearth of gifts and attention beyond that wrapped in colorful paper decorated with holly. I figured we could celebrate the girls’ half-birthday in July, giving them a chance to recoup some valuable lucre and I would not have to age beyond 43. It has been a sporadic success at best, but this is not the point of this piece.

My fiftieth birthday came and went with little fanfare, just the way I like it. Friends who had recently gone through the same “milestone” had told me that this was the big one – the one I would really feel as it approached and feel even more as it passed. I found, however, that I had determined my fortieth to be the more significant event. I even had an epiphany that would lead me to write my book “A Bunny Screaming”. As I stepped over the threshold of my fortieth year, I realized that the older I got, the more it seemed that I was turning into my father. He was a curmudgeon of world-class standards and a recluse of note. I found myself following these same lines with an alarming sense of comfort. Once gnawing at the bit on any given Friday night to go and seize the weekend and shake it to a memorable and violent death, I now found myself looking forward to a good book or a long nap. And if anyone wanted to see me, they could stop by. I would let them in, but with a healthy dose of grumpy. Those that found this unacceptable could go on their way with my colorful blessing.

I thought this revelation might make a fine tale and began outlining my life to this point, with all the stories that had been passed my way through parents and aunts and uncles and memories I had managed to cultivate on my own. Rather than put them in a pure book form, I decided to incorporate a variety of styles with which to relay the story, which took the form of a middle-aged man named Jerry struggling with the fact that he was turning both into his father and forty years old with equal struggle. I managed to weave screenplay format, short story, essay and stage-play forms into the manuscript along with the straight narrative and came up with what I felt was an enjoyable reading experience. All of my real-life experiences were woven into a fictional storyline and when I struggled to find an ending, my real-life father died and provided me with not only a means to end the book, but a way to attempt to voice my need for closure. Writing had always been therapeutic for me and I have long used the line that writing books has actually helped keep me out of therapy. Not that I couldn’t still use some therapy, but a good line is a good line.

The cover of the book is a moose’s head, which makes little sense, given the title “A Bunny Screaming”. Perhaps a nice screaming bunny would have been more apt, but I had a hard time finding a photo of that on the internet. Google “screaming bunny” and you will be appalled, yet strangely intrigued by the glut of disturbing triple-X websites that might pop up. The moose-head was actually a part of the fictional storyline, while the title of the book had a more personal base. As I explain in the novel, I once heard a noise coming from beneath our porch as a boy in Ohio and when I looked through the latticework that framed our crawlspace, I saw that a cat had trapped a baby rabbit in a dark corner and was toying with the bunny, using its claws and teeth to torture the animal. I was appalled and screamed and cried and beat at the lattice with my fists to little effect. Before it died, the bunny screamed. Now, obviously, for a seven year-old boy, this was quite traumatic. I didn’t even know rabbits were capable such things. I managed to block the entire episode out of my mind for years, holding cats in contempt without a real plausible reason in my mind aside from their innate sneakiness and tendency to be lazy. In my thirties, I eventually dreamed of the episode and the memories all came flooding back to me. I now knew why I didn’t like cats. And that was nice. But more importantly, I felt the image of the trapped bunny screaming was an apt metaphor for a life stuck in a depressing transition, so I used it for the book.

By the time I finished the book and moved toward yet another decade, I found that I was content making it through my forties and looked forward to the years ahead. So, Bring It On, Bitch, I say. We’ll see how it all shakes out – maybe I’ll get another book out of it.

Purchase “A Bunny Screaming” at:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Current mood: adventurous
Category: Blogging

My daughter called me last night from Iowa to tell me that she and her friends were sitting on a bluff someplace at 10:30 at night watching a UFO – had been for fifteen or twenty minutes. Of course, I didn’t answer the call, so I missed all the real details, except for her disappointment that I hadn’t answered my phone. I no longer have a land-line and if I did, it would be one of the big, heavy Bakelite numbers from the forties with a rotary dial that clicked and clacked as you dialed and rang like the alarm at a fire station. Watch any Humphrey Bogart picture that wasn’t set on a boat or the desert and you will see the phone I’m talking about. Just don’t fixate on his lisp or the excess of saliva his mouth produces or you will get grossed out and miss the telephone altogether.

All I have is a cell-phone. I bought one for me and one for Allison when she lived with me (and one for Logan, too – which was eaten by a dog. No shit.) and once that was done, there was no real reason to hang onto a land-line. Now that I live alone, there is even less reason to have a home phone to remind me that no one calls. Especially if it is a forties Bakelite model. If your telephone never rings and some bill collector suddenly decides to call and that firehouse-alarm ring startles you into cardiac arrest and there is no one there to help you but an ugly little dog which doesn’t even have the physical wherewithal to dial 9-1-1, you can be truly fucked. And the last face you will ever see is that of the ugly little dog who is waiting patiently nearby to wait for you to stop breathing so it can eat your nose and all the goodies inside.

This Marie Provost death scenario is one of the reasons my cell phone is set to “vibrate”. Not only does it feel better in my pocket than the Bugs Bunny theme, it only startles me slightly and not nearly enough to cause heart failure. Anyhow, that’s why I didn’t answer my daughter’s call – my phone was on vibrate. And in the office charging. So there was no chance I was going to know about the call until this morning unless I checked it before I went to bed or did some writing after “American Pickers” and I am far too lazy to do either.

But the missed phone call is not really why I am writing today – I wanted to write about UFOs. While my daughter was gushing about the UFO she and her friends were tracking across and all around the Iowa skies, I couldn’t help but think about my own experiences with the great unknown lights in the night. I was dating a girl named Tammi back in 1980, who lived three houses down from my father. One summer night, we were sitting out on her flower box made of railroad ties at three in the morning, gazing upward at the sky. It was three in the morning and why we were gazing at the sky, I have no idea. Nor do I have a decent excuse. We must have just started dating… Anyway, as we were gazing upward into the brilliant desert sky, we saw a light speeding through the night, moving at a speed far too fast for that of a jet or a helicopter. The light was small and whenever I saw aircraft at a similar distance, they always appeared to be moving very slowly across the sky. This thing was hauling ass. “Do you see that?” Tammi asked. Before I could reply, the light did a loop-de-loop and shot out of sight, as if it were heading directly, with great purpose, the hell out of the atmosphere. “Whoa!!!” We both shouted, aware that we could possibly awaken her mother inside and face serious consequences for being out on the flower box at this hour.

We were discussing the light in great detail when another one came across the sky in the same fashion. It made the same trip, then did a gentle slalom before slingshotting out into space. We were speechless. I still recall it vividly, even thirty years later. I spoke to Tammi five or six years ago and she recalled it with equal detail. We had no doubt that we had seen something that was not of this world. It was a shared experience that will always bond us as friends.

And I think it’s pretty friggin’ cool that my daughter saw one, too. That will be one less thing that she will be able to throw in the “Dad’s just crazy” bucket.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Management Team Announced for The New Benjamin Button Traveling Sideshow

Monday, August 16, 2010
Management Team Announced for The New Benjamin Button Traveling Sideshow
Current mood: adventurous
Category: Blogging

Did you hear about the 19 year-old dude who got drunk at a party and asked a girl to drive him home? Not a joke – actually a pretty decent thing to do, what with DUI laws and all. Unless the girl is twelve years-old and also drunk. Turns out, she drove through a road sign and a yard. Then the drunk guy tried to help out and ran the car into a shed. Both were underage. I know what you’re thinking – those crazy Southerners… Wouldn’t doubt it if they were cousins as well… But you would be dead wrong – these two were from Minnesota, which is the Northern version of the South. The funniest part of the story, I thought – a kind of tasty glaze on the donut of news – was that police pulled over another drunk guy swerving around on a moped. In a wicked case of ironic coincidence, he was on his way to pick up the original drunk guy. So they arrested him, too and I don’t blame them – it’s bad form to pick up a drunk friend on a moped. In fact, arresting officers should have simply shot him on the spot – they would have in the real South.

I am not one to cast aspersions on those trying to make their drunken way home without incurring a DUI. I had my own run-in many years ago – thankfully before a stay in Sheriff Joe’s Canvas Hotel was part of the solution. I was inebriated, had to pee real bad and drove too fast. An evening in stir and a couple of thousand dollars later, it was all just a foul-tasting memory. My insurance rates didn’t even go up and the entire episode was wiped from my record. Ah, the good old days. I can remember even before the good old days – the better old days – when I got pulled over (shithammered) and was politely asked by the officer if I thought I could “get ‘er the rest of the way home okay?” I assured him I could and was sent on my way to weave the rest of the way home at a stately 15 mph.

I almost find it noble that the young man tried to find a ride when he was too drunk to drive. I question his judgment for using a drunk 12 year-old girl, but kudos for not just hopping behind the wheel and driving through the sign and the yard and the shed solo. I have never seen a twelve year-old drive, though I cannot imagine one to be very good at it – especially drunk. Most of them have a hard enough time managing their skateboards without knocking loose some gonads or busting up their grill. I can only imagine them with a half a bottle of Peach Schnapps and a gassed-up Volvo.

But drunk driving is not what I wanted to write about today. I wanted to talk about management potential. As many of you may well know, I have a dream to someday open a circus side-show on my own island in New Zealand, populated by a variety of youths with tremendous sideshow potential. Like the real-life Benjamin Button boy who is aging backward, according to the sports programs at two Universities who are claiming he has tried to swindle them by graduating from one then enrolling into the other as a freshman with a different age and birthdate. Where I see supreme divinity, the Universities see sour grapes. There is the chain-smoking toddler from Indonesia, the stoner baby who hits the bong like Tommy Chong and the little drunken toddler who hits the bottle at the ballgame. Throw in the residents of the town I will be buying, and I have a full program of carny variety acts. Now, I simply need management to hold it all together as I travel the globe in search of even newer and more exciting acts.

That’s where this drunken trio comes in. I think I can train them in rudimentary management techniques and keep them supplied with Schnapps and Jagermeister and wait for the fireworks. Sure, it will cost me a bit at first, with expenditures for assault lawsuits, public drunkenness and nudity, but I think long-term they will prove to be a valuable addition to The New Benjamin Button Traveling Sideshow. And at their age, I won’t have to worry about dental care for at least another decade. It’s worth pondering, once I have them sprung from the hoosegow.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Dark Bond of Sin - Prologue


He watched the Mustang pull out of the parking lot and weave onto the street, moving slowly as it headed on its way, the brake lights flickering every few feet and he imagined the driver trying to focus his bleary, drunken eyes. He smiled and fumbled in his trouser pockets for his keys. He dropped the keys and stooped to pick them up, nearly stumbling into the door. “Whoa,” he said to himself as he tried to clear his vision enough to guide the key to the lock.
He should have been dropped off at the rented house, where his wife waited and would clean him up and put him to bed, but he had the feeling that tonight was going to be a long one. That’s why he had the driver drop him here, at the “secret place”. He had rented this apartment as soon as he got to town, so he would have a place to carry on without having to deal with motels and such. After all, he was a famous man; he didn’t need rumors to begin flying about his off-duty escapades. He had been in the business too long—he knew how be discreet.
Sex had always been easy for him to procure, his deviant tastes a bit more difficult, but for a man in his position, certainly not impossible. He liked it rough and he liked it kinky. The advent of the home videotape cameras had been a Godsend—there was nothing he enjoyed more than viewing himself administering a brutal once-over to a helpless woman. If not him, then Pete. He had gone out and purchased one of the first home units on the market, paying far too much for the cumbersome machine. He had upgraded many times over the years, always buying top of the line—he craved quality. He loved to watch them squirm in discomfort on the screen as he stood over them, his famous face betraying no mercy—cold and unforgiving, the face that had made him one of the biggest box-office draws of the 80’s. Sometimes they cried, sometimes they begged and eventually they were allowed to go on their way, usually none worse for the wear, always captured on tape. Now there were computers, DVDs and high-definition televisions and cameras the size of a pack of cigarettes. There was no more hauling around of heavy, bulky equipment – he could fit everything he needed in a carry-on bag. Laptop, camera and accessories, all in a single, lightweight bag.
He let himself into the room—it was a studio apartment with a kitchenette—his needs here were very specific, and excess space was not one of them. He shuffled past a large flat screen high definition television and a small, expensive video camera mounted on a tripod and accidentally kicked over a stack of pornographic DVDs on the floor.
He sat on the bed and kicked off his shoes. He reached for the bottle of Chivas on the bedside table and poured himself a tall drink into a dirty glass that sat by the bottle. He drank half the scotch and removed his shirt and pants, throwing them on the chair in the corner. He stood up and weaved to the bathroom, nearly running into the digital camera and tripod on his way. “Careful,” he slurred to himself. “That would probably hurt…”
He giggled and made it to the bathroom and leaned over the toilet, one hand on the wall and tried to focus as he urinated, missing the bowl for the first two or three seconds, managing to soak his socks. “Fuck,” he muttered and tucked his meat back into his drawers, stroking it through the silk boxers out of sheer habit as he stumbled back into the bedroom. He sat on the edge of the bed like that for a few minutes, rubbing his dick, waiting for the spins to let up. He took a deep breath, then reached for the glass of scotch and the telephone. He dragged the phone onto the bed and drained the booze and tried to recall Pete’s number. “947…” He closed his eyes and didn’t like all the motion that was going on behind the lids. He fought off a sudden wave of nausea and set the glass down on the table by the bottle, where it had sat before.
He dialed a number on the phone and listened to it ring for a full minute before lying back on the covers, receiver to his ear. “Come on Petey,” he mumbled. “Goddamn it…” His eyes began to close and he was near passing out when a knock came to the door. He shot upright and nearly pitched forward. The room was spinning and he stood uncertainly and began to lurch toward the door. “That’s more like it,” he shouted, kicking the stack of DVDs once more with one piss-soaked sock. He opened the door and focused on the form before him. “Hey,” he said, breathing deeply, attempting to regain his equilibrium. The visitor swung a tire iron and too late, he raised his arm to defend himself. The metal bar caught him on the temple and he stumbled backward over the pile of DVDs, tripping over the camera and tripod on his way down. The next blow hit him in the mouth and he swallowed several teeth as he gasped for air. The third hit him over the eye and the room began to spin at a dizzying rate. The pain was tremendous and each swing of the tire iron felt like an explosion in his head. Again and again the iron came down, smashing his nose, then his finely-chiseled cheeks. At first, he was too shocked and drunk to resist, now he was simply battered beyond voluntary movement. The blood flowed down his face into his eyes and he choked on the blood running down his throat. The room grew quiet, save for the sound of his assailant’s heavy breathing. He coughed up blood and began to lose consciousness. His eyes tried to focus and he heard the door close and tried to scream, but only spit up more blood. Things went dark and within moments, Cash Decker was dead.

Armageddon, Part II - The Evil Deep

Friday, August 13, 2010
Armageddon, Part II - The Evil Deep
Current mood: Scared
Category: Blogging

I wrote yesterday about my fear of the coming Armageddon and I didn’t even mention the sea, aside from the great wall of ice that is moseying down from the Greenland Arctic to destroy the rainforests and everything in between. Forget about the fact that wildfires are stirring up the deadly ghosts of whatever radioactive nuclear nonsense is still idling in the Soviet dirt near Chernobyl. Forget about mudslides and volcanoes and AIDS. Forget about second-hand smoke and peanut allergies and methamphetamine. Cancer, mesothelioma and vast underwater lakes of oil can all be put on hold.

Let’s talk about jellyfish.

Hundreds of swimmers are being stung by swarms of jellyfish off the coast of Spanish beaches. I wasn’t aware that jellyfish could swarm. I thought they traveled in schools, or herds or packs. Swarm is a much more frightening word, however, invoking images of wasps, bees and hornets. Maybe all things that sting travel in a swarm. Does that mean scorpions gather in swarms? I would imagine scorpions travel alone anyhow, much preferring to savor their stinging pleasures alone – they look like loners. Mean little, angry loners. They freak me out – though not as much as the ocean freaks me out.

My friends know me to be a landlubber. I can go out on a boat fishing, or for a pleasure-cruise. I even got a DUI once in Wisconsin driving a boat too fast on a landlocked lake. I wasn’t aware of this particular regulation or I might have curtailed the speed a bit. Or my consumption of Old Style – live and learn. I prefer to swim, when wheedled into a swimming situation, in a swimming pool and if forced into a natural body of water, need constant, almost childlike assurances that sharks, piranha and manta rays are not indigenous. If they are, I will forgo my dip into the refreshing pool of danger and meet my companions at a nearby bar later, when their daredevilish need for danger has been sated.

The article I skimmed stated: “The jellyfish are tiny and invisible, meaning it is difficult to warn bathers of their presence.” And these tiny little invisible messengers of death are swarming – let’s not forget that part. They have somehow gathered together in a tiny invisible death squad and they are massacring the Spaniards! Trust me – I’m not that crazy about the Spaniards, either. I hear that they are not trustworthy and only care about gambling and fine cigars. But to read about them being attacked by swarms of angry little invisible, tentacled demonic minions of the deep chills my soul. I know that the Spaniards are just the beginning – an easy target, because they are a swarthy people and easily distracted by the sound of the waves. Soon it will be the French lollygaggers and the ponces along the Mediterranean – after that, it’s anybody’s guess where these poisonous assassins will turn up. But it is only a matter of time before they brave the tanning-oil slick of Mission Beach in our own San Diego, or the stench of the beaches of Atlantic City to begin their reign of terror on our own shores, mark my words.

Armageddon is coming for sure – but it may not be in the form of a rain of fire and brimstone. It may wash up from the evil deep. Just sayin’.

COMING FOR THE WEEKEND: An exerpt from the upcoming Brad Chambers novel "The Dark Bond of Sin"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Coming Armageddon

Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Coming Armageddon
Current mood: anxious
Category: Blogging

It seems that my attention span, like many things as I grow older, is not what it once was. I don’t read as much and the idea of watching a movie makes me feel as if I am going to be trapped for that two hours and will never get them back. I zone out halfway through conversations if they do not contain detailed descriptions of a shapely barmaid without any clothes on. I rarely make it to the seventh inning stretch when I watch a baseball game and I immediately turn the channel whenever I see Chris Berman. My attention wanes and I have no patience.

What this has done, is given me a “big picture” mentality. I skim the news, rarely reading enough to truly understand the issues at hand – and please understand that I am generally happier without total comprehension – just enough to panic. So when I read about a mudslide in China that has killed 700, or weather so hot in Russia that wildfires have threatened to release radioactive waste from Chernobyl into the air or that there is an oil leak spouting bazillions of gallons of toxins into our oceans, threatening to seriously unbalance our sea habitat and our worldwide ecosystem, I generally prefer to put my head firmly in the sand and listen to my Beatle albums. Huge slabs – islands – of ice four times the size of Manhattan shearing off of a glacier and making their way slowly through the sea, promising destruction on a massive scale? Simply put in Rubber Soul and have a peanut butter sandwich. Someone is bound to take care of this, right? Right?

But this is getting ridiculous. When a big-picture man such as myself sees all this stuff happening at one time, I cannot help but think that Armageddon is at hand. This is worse than any Bruce Willis thriller – Hollywood could not match this worldwide catastrophe with an entire pack of paranoid, nicotine-addled screenwriters. My question is this – what are we going to do? Should we wait for the politicians of our nation and the world to lead us as the skies rain fire and brimstone, or should we count on those in touch with God to point the way? I am at an impasse, because I trust neither fully and am a little uncomfortable with handholding in tight situations. I find it limits my abilities to bolt screaming in another direction when the shit really starts to fly.

I don’t know if I should start boning up (skimming, really) my history books to pick up handy hints from those who dealt with the plague and Noah’s flood and the business with Sodom and Gomorrah, or to begin preparing my Armageddon Kit and digging out a shelter, like the ones folks built in the fifties when the Russians were poised to send some nuclear bullshit our way.

I suppose I could write a letter to Al Gore – he seems to know what’s going on with the earth and all the global warming and stuff, or the people at Greenpeace – I just don’t know if a letter is going to do the trick and I’m nearly certain that if I receive a relpy, it won’t give me clear direction. I have found this to be true in the past when I have ordered manuals of instruction, I see no reason for this to be any different.

I’ll tell you what, though – if I see anyone turn into a pillar of salt right before my very eyes, I am going with the religious folks. Until then, I have Abbey Road locked and loaded on my IPod – everything is going to be okay, right? Right?

Read more:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Houston - Land of Chivalry (An American Fairy Tale)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Houston - Land of Chivalry (An American Fairy Tale)
Current mood: amused
Category: Blogging

I saw on the news that a brave young man chose to take his girlfriend to a baseball game and happened to finagle tickets that had them sitting in “Tornado Alley”, or one of the areas down the first base or third base lines where an inordinate amount of foul balls are sent screaming to die. Given the arc of a batter’s swing and the velocity of a pitch, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there is a defined area through which a solidly struck ball is to going fly. There are pop-fouls and foul tips, but these are poorly struck efforts that are generally hit off the hands, or the top or bottom of the barrel of the bat. The ones that are well hit and moving briskly will generally be base hits or end up in Tornado Alley.

There, now that the science lesson is over, let us get back to our lucky couple…

When we left off, the handsome twosome were taking their seats in Tornado Alley, where only the quick of hand and fleet of foot dare to roost. These are mostly the wily veteran fans, usually armed with gloves or mitts and a shortstop’s instinct for the sharply-struck ball. Our intrepid couple had no such equipment. Especially short on the instinct. Reading the article (well, more like skimming, really), it turns out the young lady had the good sense and fine nose for baseball to realize as she looked around, that danger could be imminent. “I am going to get hit,” she told her beau, with one of the more concise observations I have ever read in a news piece. And as it turns out, right on the money. “Don’t worry,” her Knight in Shining Armor assured her. “I’ll catch it…” Famous last words.

Watching the video, nothing could have been further from the truth. As fate would have it, a ball did come barreling down the third base line, straight through the heart of Tornado Alley. And our story would not be our story if the ball did not bear down with bad intentions on our lovebirds. Unarmed, as we have learned, without benefit of glove nor instinct, Captain Handsome did what any fan of the hapless Astros would do – he raised his hands in defense and darted out of the path of the leather-bound missile. He might have squealed in fear – the footage was too distant to tell. His girlfriend, who had earlier so unerringly predicted her own demise, much like President Lincoln before attending the show at Ford’s Theater, sat helpless as the ball caromed off her arm like a perfect bunt, into the waiting hands of her date, who proceeded to show off his trophy.

I am currently taking bets on the over/under for this relationship. I say one week. Her bruise will stiffen up and he will beg and plead and cry and this will put off the inevitable for maybe a few days. She will see the footage again and again, in super-slow motion on Sports Center and see the hits slide into the millions on You Tube – she will be shamed and humiliated and she will break it off, despite his disingenuous protests. But, if the nitwit doesn’t have the good sense to back off, she just may well end up in prison on a second-degree murder rap after murdering him, hopefully using the fateful baseball, a hall of fame grip and a heaping helping of hard-nosed irony. After again being forced to witness the video of her injury and his cowardice repeatedly at her nationally-covered murder trial, she will spend a minimum of time in prison and then be offered seven-figures to pose naked for Playboy – even more for Hustler. She will marry one of the junkies from Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab and be a fixture on the cover of the tabloids for five or so years, then drink herself into her own reality show, on which she will accidentally kill her husband, probably either Leif Garrett or Todd Bridges, with a scale model steel replica of the Andrea Dorea. More time in the hoosegow will follow and then a television movie based on her life. Her children will write tell-all books detailing her cruelty and she will take a fatal fall down the flight of stairs en route to her wine cellar for more claret and will lie dead for three days before she is discovered, her face and soft bits chewed off by her trio of Chihuahuas, one of which is ironically named “Chuy”.

Or they could get married and live happily ever after. I’m not sure.