Friday, June 15, 2018

Swab the poop-deck! I mean, literally...

Dear bird:

Why do you hate me?

First, you dive-bomb my car. Three times. Then my house, because the car wasn't enough.

I've never, EVER, hurt one of you avian fiends.

Just look at my deck. Those spatters hardly evoke relaxation.

Well, I thought I'd show you! I rented a three ton power washer. Painstakingly washed every inch of the deck, a back-breaking ordeal. It looked great!

Until an hour later when you unloaded again.

But this time, you changed up your diet. You discovered berries of some sort, some exotic fruit that apparently doesn't agree with your intestinal tract. Seriously, bird, you've got some messed up bowels.

Which leaves permanent purple stains no matter how hard I scrub.

Perhaps you discovered the dumpster behind Taco Bell?
I needed to seal the deck, but I couldn't until 48 hours. Out of options, low on patience, we put down a tarp. Ten minutes later...
Next, we planted a fake, scary owl. The fright made you unleash your pestilence even more.
We even tried balloons! With faces on them! While we look like neighborhood maniacs, you've found new friends.
Bird, do you guys have doctors? I mean, come on. Get some help. Just because you have irritable birdy bowel syndrome doesn't entitle you to take it out on me.

Speaking of irritants, have you heard about the supremely annoying demon with a comb-over? No? What're you waiting for? Click here by cracky for laughs with your scares!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Writing a police procedural made E-Z!

That’s right! For a limited time only, I’m divulging the secrets to writing a successful police procedural for only ten—that’s right, ten!—easy installment payments (which we’ll discuss later)!

(Disclaimer: Although I’ve not written a true police procedural, I’ve had quite a few cops and detectives tumble in and out of my books. Besides, I’ve seen enough TV procedurals to qualify as an expert.)

Ready? Let's go!

Step #1) Pick Your Lead.
This is the biggest choice you’ll face as a writer: what gender to make your lead. Once you clear that hurdle, the rest of the book will flow naturally. It doesn’t truly matter if your lead detective is male or female because they’re going to share the same traits: hard-edged as granite, muscular, no-nonsense, tough-talking, swagger walking, alcohol-pounding, quip-dropping tough gals and guys. Note that it’s no longer politically correct to have your protagonist chain smoke, so don't even think about it.

Step #2) Pack Your Baggage.
Your protagonist needs baggage, HAS to have baggage. Lots and lots of emotional baggage, so much baggage, it’d put an airport baggage handler into traction. Said baggage may be due to a series of lousy, failed relationships (usually due to a combination of drink, infidelity, and the stress of being On The Job). Or maybe there's the unfortunate passing of a loved one. Maybe your hero has had too many bad encounters with cable guys and has snapped. It doesn't really matter as long as he or she is damaged as tornado debris.

Step #3) Choose Your Lead’s Police Partner.
Another simple step, really, because there can only be two choices. Your protagonist’s work partner is either a newbie, eager-to-please, green-around-the-ears rookie cop; or a slovenly, donut-eating, burned out cop just days away from retirement. There are no other choices. And it doesn’t matter because the partner’s doomed within the opening pages. He may as well wear a sign on his back reading “Dead Cop Walking.” For he will be shot early on, oh, yes he will. And prepare for your hero to raise his/her hands to the sky over the late partner’s corpse and scream, “Nooooooooo!” Bonus points if it takes place in the rain.

(Note: A lot of writers choose to have a man and woman, both from the hard-boiled school, as partners. Naturally while chasing the bad guy, they'll fall into bed. Should you choose to go down that path, it’s fine, but don’t forget to add a little Yin to Yang.)

Step #4) Position Your Police Captain (and Immediately Disrespect Him).
This is the guy in charge. Invariably, he's always bald, short-fused, sick and tired of your protagonist’s lone wolf ways, and one step away from a heart attack. His coloring tends to run stroke-red. It’s a must that your protagonist never shows the least amount of respect for the boss, treating him with cool disdain and quippy one-liners. And it’s important to remember your protagonist should only address the captain by his last name or a colorful nick-name.

Whether you choose to make your captain crooked is entirely up to you. It's a popular choice these days.

Step #5) Master the Maniacal Laugh.
Your good guys are in place. The stage is set. Now things get tricky.

Bad guys are tough to do on paper. The Maniacal Laugh is particularly tough to express in words.

“For you see, Trina, I’ve been killing ice-cream vendors because of a tragic bomb-pop incident in my childhood years. I despise sprinkles. Mwah-hah-hah-hahhhhhhh!”

See? Doesn’t exactly sing in the written word, does it?

But, like it or not, you’ve set yourself up to write a police procedural, and you need an incredibly unhinged villain, lest your tough-as-nails protagonist comes off appearing uncouth, particularly in these sensitive and politically correct times. Maniacal laughter is a must. Please do approach with caution, though, and strive for a modicum of subtlety.

Step #6) Uncomfortable Sex Locales.
I don’t know what it is about these tough cops and detectives, but as a general rule, beds aren’t their number one location to have sex (NOT make love; tough gals and guys don’t go in for that sissy stuff). No, like everything your tough protagonist does in life, there's a tendency to take the road less traveled, a rocky road indeed. The love/lust scenes play out in alleyways (again, cue the rain, thus making it even more uncomfortable), cars, against walls, any place sure to put a cramp in the reader’s leg.

Not sure why, really. I don’t make the rules.

Step #7) Make It Personal.
Your protagonist has to have a personal gripe against your bad guy. It’s nice to tie this into the hero's baggage (see Step #2). Maybe the current serial killer was the hero’s scoutmaster or paper-boy. This will involve the reader in an entirely new level, pulling them in by the lapels (but since Casual Friday is the current popular mode of wardrobe, I suppose lapels are rather dated). Be creative. 

Ta-dahhhh! There you have it! Everything you need to know about writing a successful police procedural. Now all you need to do is go publish and make a kazillion dollars. It's that simple.
A different sort of procedural...CLICKETY for mystery and larfs!

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Child's-Eye View of President Trump


"What's up, big guy?" asked Dad.

"What's a golden shower?"

Dad peered over his glasses, sighed at his son. Folded his newspaper (not that anyone reads 'em anymore) over his knee. Took his sweet time, formulating an answer.

"Why do you ask, Cal?"

"At school, the boys say Prezdent Trumps likes golden showers. From Russians."

"Well...sometimes in Russia, um...the weather's different. Yeah... Sometimes it's so awful, the rain's golden there. I imagine our president was just remarking about how nice it felt when he visited."

"Oh." Cal scratched his bottom. Returned his thumb to his mouth. Clearly now wasn't the time to preach good hygiene. "But...the boys say girls like to wee-wee on our prezdent." Tears welled in Cal's eyes. Big, huge, dentist-office-painting-eyed tears. "That's not true, right Daddy?... Right?"

Absolutely at a loss, Dad gave Cal a hair-ruffle, signifying nothing. "Of course it's not true, Cal! Why...our president would never behave in such a manner."

"Kay. But..." Cal danced, a disturbing potty dance jig. Maybe a little too disturbing for a six-year-old. "...why does he hate cats?"

"Hmm? Whatever do you mean, little buddy?"

"Well, the prezdent says he likes to grab pussies. And he says it in a mean way."

"Uhhh... No, no, no. Nooooo. Absolutely not mean. Nuh-uh. President Trump, um, means it in a nice way. He's quite the animal lover."

"Really?" Cal's eyes glistened with hope.

"Oh, sure. He...ah..."

"Is Me... Mel...  Meliona his pet?"

"You got it, big guy! Sure! Say, isn't it about time for bed? Have you brushed--"

"What's Stormy Daniels?"

Mentally exhausted, Dad sat back. Took a big swig from his nightly companion, Mr. J. Daniels. "She's..." Another drink followed. "She's...a weatherperson. Yeah, that's what she is! Get it? Stormy? Just like her name. She...likes to predict weather for our president."

"You mean like golden showers?"

"Good night, son!"

"Night, Daddy." Cal ran up, gave Dad a needed hug. "You're the bestest."

"As you are, son."

"Some day I wanna be just like prezdent Trump."


(You guys need a laugh after this all-too-true presentation of the presidential worthiness of Trump? Look no further than NIGHTMARE OF NANNIES!)
Click for Trump free comedy and mystery!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Off to the Amazon!

I know it's kinda crazy, but my wife and I are off to the Amazon on June 22nd.
(I don't know what this creature is, but, dear God, don't let me run into it! It's Grandpa mated with a cannibalistic seal!)

First thing people ask: "What, the internet stuperstore?"

Why, no, you silly millenials, we're off to the True Deal.

Second thing folks ask: "Why?"

Damn good question.

I'm thoroughly informed. I watch a lot of movies. Very, very bad movies. So bad I should be ashamed of myself. But they keep me up-to-date on reality.

Through my intensive cinematic research, I've learned that the Amazon is host to cannibals, pythons, cobras, tarantulas, strange voodoo cults, piranhas, zombies, bugs that fly in your ear and lay mind-dissolving larvae, and of course--my personal favorite--parasites that love to swim up penises ("peni?"). 

No problem on that last item. My bro-in-law wisely told me to wear a condom all the time.

Guy's a genius.

However, strange thing is my wife absolutely hates spiders.  So we're heading off to the Amazon (sigh...not the superstore), home of tarantulas. Even my doctor recently told me, "Good luck with that, man." Not extremely comforting in his sarcasm. (Forthcoming blog post about THAT guy). I digress. My wife wants me to protect her from tarantulas. They're not exactly my favorite critter either. I imagine we'll both be shrieking like monkeys in the rain forest, possibly causing an unnatural disruption of the order of things.

Preparation for this trip has been hellish. I never knew so many vaccinations existed. Yellow fever? Don't know what it is, but I don't wanna turn yellow. Rabies? Good God, you mean an angry monkey may bite me?

Anyway, if I should get eaten (inside or out) via animals/parasites/zombies/cannibals or die in a nasty helicopter crash, I've chosen this blog post as the perfect venue for my last will and testament.

Everything that's worth a hang should go to my daughter. But ignore the third drawer in the dresser upstairs. I repeat, ignore! Burn it, all contents complete and get rid of my murder suit.


Oh, you're still here? Hey, if you'd like a kinder, yet scarier (if possible) vacation trip, check into the Dandy Drop Inn: 
Checking out will kill you!

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Most Neglected Color: Deep Urine

"Stuart," people often ask me at cocktail parties, "what's your favorite color?"

Immediately, with a well-packed can of confidence and an extended sophisticated pinky, I fire back, "Why, Deep Urine, of course."

Probably why we don't get invited to too many cocktail parties.

But, as a former artist, I feel the need to defend my aesthetic choice.

Deep Urine is rich, very much so.  A luxurious, welcoming yellow so deep it's almost orange. There's nothing quite like Deep Urine.

Deep Urine is an enticing color, very open in its texture, inviting it its warmth, and sophisticated in its sumptuousness.

I'm so taken by the color that during the holidays, when everyone else dons reds and greens, I'm proudly flying my urine-splashed sweater.

Clearly, Deep Urine's the color to paint a nursery for any parents-to-be who wish to be surprised by their baby's gender. I mean, in this day and age, what speaks more of anti-sexism than the color of Deep Urine?

Ladies and gents, fly your Deep Urine flag high! Let it rip! Splash it everywhere! Make your choice obvious! The world is counting on you.

Allow me to make a splash with my dark suspense thriller, Dread and Breakfast. While the interiors of the titular bread and breakfast aren't painted in my much-loved Deep Urine, it is a cozy place it's not so cozy, after all.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Remember when comic-book geeks WEREN'T cool?

I sure do! As a kid, I lived through the disdain, the bullying, the ridicule of being a comic-book kid.

A shove off my bike because I was thumbing through a much-valued issue of Spiderman? A hard-earned, four-color badge of honor. The mockery and laughter when I was caught buying the latest issue of X-Men at the local drug store? Just part of the price to enjoy my fantastical dream worlds, true believer! Punched in the school hallway because I had Wolverine stickers emblazoned all over my notebook? No pain, no gain! (Although to have Wolverine's adamantium claws at that moment would've been helpful. *Snikt.*)


My torment didn't stop with the school bullies either. My two brothers--one younger, one older--ridiculed me at every opportunity while they pursued worthless pursuits like football. Matter of fact, my nieces make fun of me now, because their dad tells them all I used to do was sit in my bedroom and read comic books. (Soooo not true...I used to watch a lot of old movies, too.)

Honestly, as a loner, at the time I didn't think much of the fallout. Just knew I enjoyed comic books. But to everyone else, I was a superhero-reading outcast. Oh, the shame. Even my parents were all, "What's wrong with Stuart?"

Back in the day, as long as you were under the age of twelve, it was considered acceptable to read comic-books. But I carried the tradition on into my teens, even my college days. Along with reading Salinger, Hemingway, and Faulkner, I thrilled to the writings of Stan Lee and studied the artwork of Jack Kirby. 

But--shamefully, eventually--I bowed down to peer pressure. I kept my comic-book reading a deep, dark secret. While most guys my age were stashing away their porn collection, I hid comic-books under my bed. If I ever got so lucky as to invite a girl back to my room, I made sure comics weren't in evidence, hastily shoved into the closet.

Such was the shame my family and "friends" instilled in me.
Today, of course, it's an altogether different story.  No matter your age, it's absolutely cool to read comics. The geeks have inherited the earth. Hollywood banks on comic fans by plugging billions of dollars into superhero movies. Comicon has become one of the biggest, best, baddest commercial outlets for the entertainment industry. Commercials, clothing, food, for God's sake, are tailored around the comic industry! You can get a Thor taco!

Instead of a Thor taco, I used to eat a fist sandwich for my comic-book sensibilities. Me and my kind paved the way for you comic-reading hipster posers. You're welcome.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Naked? WHAT was God thinking?

"Do these clothes make me look fat?"

A question I asked my wife recently.

Of course the real answer would be, "No, your clothes don't make you look fat. You are fat." Thank God my wife knows how to choose her words carefully.

I don't know how it happened. Or when it happened. But, last year, I came across a photo that showed me stuffed into a sweater like a tightly packed sausage. Yow!
YAH! That CAN'T be me! Right? RIGHT?

The scales lied, claiming I rang in just under 300 pounds. No way! How come I never saw this in the mirror? Surely, we bought our mirror from the local carnival fun-house!

So, my wife stuck me on a hellish diet. Thus far I've lost sixty pounds with another twenty-five to go. Ye gads.

There's good news and there's bad news. 

I've been exercising like crazy. So crazy one of my knees wants to pack it in and my back hates the act of standing and walking now. 

Clothes no longer fit. "Look, honey," I said to my wife while parading around in an old sweater, "this sweater somehow got longer."

"Yeah, that's not what happened."  (Okay, sometimes my wife does ignore her inner censor.)

The other down side to losing weight is I have to go clothes shopping. I'd rather have root canal surgery than try on clothes. In the past, I'd just pick something up off the rack I thought might fit and go with it.

"And that's why none of your clothes fit right," says my wise wife. "Ever."

The problem is I'm still a work in progress. So we can't get a ton of clothes that currently fit. Which sucks because in three more months it's back to trying clothes on. Ugh. Still, it'll be nice to have jeans that don't, you know, fall down around my ankles when I walk.

So I've lost sixty pounds. That's good. The clothes we bought look pretty snazzy. That's great. When I get nekkid, though, I still look fat.

"Honey! I look fat when I'm nekkid!" I screamed to my wife. "I look better with clothes on!"

"We all do, dear. That's why clothes were invented."

"No, they were invented because Adam and Eve botched it. They really screwed the pooch on that one. Stupid Adam and Eve," I groused.

Which got me to thinking about the state of being clothed. If Adam and Eve had never taken a bite out of the infamous apple, would we be a civilization running around nekkid? I'm having a hard time thinking what public transit would be like. The health issues alone boggle, absolutely boggle!

What about restaurant servers? I'd probably rather not have soup brought out by some guy with his junk hanging out. 

In Winter, would coats be acceptable? Or would we be so accustomed to nudity, coat-wearers would be seen as aberrant streakers and we'd just accept freezing as natural. 

God's original plan for mankind's natural state of nudity definitely had some potholes in it.

On the other hand, if nudity was the norm, would there ever have been such a thing as body shaming? Would people even understand which bodies were pleasant to behold and which crossed the line? Would we be a nicer society, one where anorexic super models weren't the "norm" people aspire to?

Maybe. But every day I thank God for clothes. Um, even if that wasn't the original plan.

Speaking of nudity, pity poor Wendell, protagonist of my comic thriller, Chili Run. He spends the book in his tighty-whities due to an encounter with some bad hombres. It's too complicated to get into now so just read the book.

Clickety-click-click for nearly nekkid thrills and laughs.