Monday, November 26, 2012

It does NOT taste like chicken

Just a quick, cautionary tale for y'all.

Over Thanksgiving, I discovered lady-bugs have a very distinct, bitter chemical taste.

It's complicated.

Thought I'd share my scientific findings (and always, ALWAYS look before you eat).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Socks Friday

I'm in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, visiting my inlaws over Thanksgiving when I realize I forgot to pack socks. Someone suggested I could borrow socks. Well, no. Thanks, anyway, but, um, no.

Socks are important. They're a crucial component of life. I mean, really, without socks, society would break down. Into violence.

So, I ventured out, looking for socks on Thanksgiving night. The worst possible time to go sock shopping. Because "Black Friday" has now turned into "Deep, Dark, Blacker Then Black Week," a week long orgy of  no holds barred, sometimes violent, shopping free-for-alls.

At Walmart, folks scrabbled, pushed, screamed and raced toward what they perceived as good deals. The sock aisle was relatively barren, yet the over-all ambience of the store was one of menace. Agonized howls rang through the aisles--not children, but older folks who should know better. Lines were longer than the wait at the driver's license bureau. Menacing glares were exchanged over the last video game available. Eyes were void of hope and full of greed. Sam Walton won this round.

It got me thinking about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It's an American holiday based on how the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Native-Americans for basically saving their lives. And, of course, we know how well that turned out for the Native-Americans. Greeting card companies and big business want us to forget that little tid-bit. From the depths of a wiped out culture rose a Hallmark moment. Thanksgiving now means familial togetherness and love. We get together with our families for one day, get it all over in one fell swoop and move on with our lives.'s come around again. Thanks to Corporate America, Thanksgiving's returned to its roots. Once again, it's about violence and survival of the fittest. Weak shoppers will be trammeled over and forgotten. Those with the strongest stamina, pocketbooks and pepper-spray will persevere, no matter who has squatter rights.

I did come away from my Black Friday experience with socks. It took a helluva' long time. My feet stink less, yet I feel like a pawn in the Big Plan Of Things. Next Thanksgiving to protest, I'm going to defiantly wear dirty socks. Join me if you will.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Dreaded Husband Bench

I mentioned the "husband bench" in my last post. Now every guy knows what I'm talking about. But since I have very few male followers, I thought I'd clue women in. (And, yeah, I'll be giving out lots of secret guy things in the future, ladies. Just consider it a bonus for reading my blog).

The "husband bench" is always a very uncomfortable piece of plastic situated near the exit of department stores. Cold and sterile, the architects were no fools when they built it. The intention is to get the non-shopper out of the way so the shopper of the couple--straight, gay, doesn't matter--can do loads of shopping, unimpeded by the whining other half.

I imagine in the department store board-room meetings, Mr. Big-Time Department Store Magnate screams to his lackeys, "Make the bench as uncomfortable as possible! We need to keep shoppers moving in and out like cattle to the slaughter-house!" It's what makes America great.

My last visit to the "husband bench" was an eye-opening, yet soul-deadening experience. I took my seat, my back cold against the wall. Next to me, a tired looking man in a ball-cap eyeballed me, nodded, and we both went back to studying our feet. Soon, Ball-Cap's eyes lit up. His time in purgatory was over as his significant other approached, bags in hands. I gave him a farewell smile (but not too big, because I knew my tenure in tedium had just begun). It was time for a changing of the guard. The torch had been passed to me.

A young guy strutted up, full of energy and cockiness, and plopped down next to me. Didn't take long for his youthful vigour to slip into anguished mental pleas to the unfair gods to deliver him from this cruel fate. It was like watching air slip out of a balloon. He looked at me--the elder statesman of the bench--and I gave him a knowing nod, signifying that yes, this his hell, but soon it would all be over. Unless, there was a sudden announced blue-light special in aisle four or something.

After an eternity, celestial trumpets sounded! A glorious spotlight framed my wife, rounding the corner! I turned to the young guy and said, "now, you're in charge." He understood.

Later, I thought about this. And from my simple, yet agonizing, visit to the husband bench, my future series of suspense thrillers was born. It's too early to talk about it much, but the books begin with the meeting of two men on a "husband bench." But more about that later.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The OxyMORONISM of Fantasy Football

I'm not a sports guy. Never have been, never will. My idea of a sport is sitting on the "husband chair" at the local department store and counting the mullets that go in and out (here in the midwest, the count is astronomical).

So, when my friends asked me to join them in this pointless excursion, I scoffed. I said, "You know, my idea of fantasy doesn't involve football players. My fantasies are more along the lines of being shipwrecked on an island with a secretly unknown tribe of exotic super-models." They guffawed at my logic. Guffawed. I mean, really, would YOU want to be shipwrecked on an island with a league of football players? Yeah, me neither. The smell alone would destroy any of my earlier conceived fantasies. (And I better stop here about my fantasies, because my wife reads my blog).

But I caved to peer pressure. Not knowing what I was doing, I decided on a strategy. I picked players with the names of cars. I had a "Mercedes" and a "Cadillac" on my team. Maybe even a "Mustang." Good enough for me. Needless to say, I'm not doing so well. And I don't care.

Fantasy Football is the dodgeball of armchair sports. Bullies, who know much more about the game than I do, pummel me with verbal assaults, stinging me with blistering tosses of their well-armed football knowledge. I attempt to laugh it off, while soothing my wounded male ego behind closed doors with mental salves and bandages.

Really, what's the point? Has the Fantasy Football league bettered mankind? Does the winner walk away to his fantasy shower stall, patting himself on the back, believing he played a good game?

It's a sickness. And it needs to stop. It's too late for the election this time. But, next election, I'm going to lobby for an amendment abolishing Fantasy Football on the grounds that it', dumb. Please do the right thing and vote.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Men Can't Clean Toilets

It's an age-old mystery, one passed down through the centuries, and one that hasn't been solved. Until now. I know why men can't clean toilets. Brethren, I've found the answer.

Call me the Indiana Jones of toiletry, the debunker of false porcelain myths, what have you. But I've uncovered some shocking evidence (I hope) that will unite the world over the on-going rift between men and women about toilet bowl cleaning.

I pulled the unfortunate short straw regarding household duties. It's my responsibility to keep the toilets clean. Not too happy about it, but I agreed. I hold up my end of the bargain.

However, my due dilligence at cleaning doesn't meet up to my wife's exacting standards. I thought, WHA?

Not too long ago, my wife dragged me into the bathroom. She strapped on blue, plastic gloves (looking like a distaff member of the Blue Man Group) and ordered me to put my head into the toilet. Being no dummy, I obeyed. I didn't see the point, but that's neither here, nor there. She went into full-on lecture mode, explaining the difference between liquid and friction cleansers. I kinda' zoned out on that part. But what I sorta' retained is "liquid" is spray, "friction" is powder. Okay, I'm good with that.

After this, I pondered. A lot. Through my scientific research (polling, asking the mailman, watching TV), I found that men and women differ greatly regarding what constitutes a clean toilet and what doesn't. Women like toilets to be sparkling clean, a damn near museum piece. But, here's the deal. Men see toilets as a functional hole, centered appropriately in the middle of the house. It's where dirty things go. You can clean it, wipe it, put a sheen on it. But it gets dirty again. The circle of life. Ultimately, an excercise in futility.

That's science and research for you. My wife's still not buying it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tag! Looks Like I've Been Tagged For The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Hey, everyone! I've been tagged by the awesome writer, Gail Roughton ( to join in "The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!" It's a game put into play to talk about what book you're working on and share with other writers. The idea is to leave your thoughts to ten questions and pass it onto The Next Big Thing! And, ahem, not saying I'm The Next Big Thing! That's just the title of the blog-hop (I'd settle for being "The Next Small Thing!"). are the questions, with my answers:

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

Tex, The Witch Boy.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I suppose it's something that's been percolating in my mind since my high school days (lo, those many years ago!).  The book's about bullying and I've utilized my personal experiences to tell the tale. Combined with my daughter's recent nightmarish tenure in the hellish halls of high school, the story was in play. I just needed a hook. I wanted an ordinary kid in an extraordinary situation, so I came up with a male witch.

What genre does your book fall under?It's a mash-up of genres, stirred (not shaken) in my mind's blender. I guess you'd call it a young adult, murder mystery, suspense thriller, comedy, drama, social issue, paranormal, romance "thang." And did I mention it's about bullying?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?Oh, good grief! It might be easier listing who I DON'T want playing my characters! First of all, I'm aware how the Hollywood mind-set works. What sells. So...I'd probably be cursed by having Justin Bieber, in his acting debut, play my protagonist, Tex.  Or Robert Pattinson (you can't escape him). And, of course, my lead female hellion would no doubt be Lindsay Lohan's comeback role. And since Nicholas Cage is in every other movie made (he's currently vying with Liam Neeson for that dubious honor), the role of my gay homicide detective, Cowlings, is his to lose. Mickey, the wizened witch, would be shuffled off to Sally Field, hoping for awards credibility. Gah! The stuff of nightmares! Honestly, though? Maybe the kid who played the most recent Spiderman--Andrew Garfield--might be good as Tex. He's a little old, but he brought vulnerability, sensitivity and ordinary charm to the Spiderman role that'd be perfect for Tex. Emma Watson might be good as Olivia, if we could "punk" her up and bring out her agressive side.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Tex McKenna, Kansas high school sophomore, uses his new-found witch powers to keep his friends alive and discover who's murdering the school bullies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?Tex, The Witch Boy will be coming out in January from Muse-It-Up Publishing!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?I knocked out the first draft in about two-and-a-half months! That was the easy part. Then came the endless revisions and rewriting. After a year, I thought it was a finely-tuned, polished book. Man, was I mistaken! I've been through it several more times since!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?I can't really say, because it's such a mish-mash of genres, I may've created some sorta' new mutant genre strain! But, as far as "feeling" and "atmosphere" goes, I think To Kill A Mockingbird is close to what I was shooting for. Now before you scoff and think I'm off my rocker, y'all simmah' down and let me explain! No, my book's not a classic like Harper Lee's masterpiece. But, she wrote a social issue tale, rife with local color and detail, a mystery driving it, some spooky moments (the movie was the first thing that scared me as a kid!) and noble characters doing the right thing. That's what I hope I've captured in my tale.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to get my anti-bullying statement out there and if I can help make some poor bullied kid's life a little more understandable and tolerable, that's all the inspiration I need. But I also couldn't've done it without the support of my loving wife and daughter. And I didn't want to go back to the corporate rat-race. Lots of inspiration!

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It's more or less a true story. Well, okay, I didn't deal with a serial killer and I'm not a witch, but a lot of the details, incidents and characters are based in reality. Oh, and hey! It's the first of a trilogy! The second two books are written (first drafts). Now, I need to rewrite those suckers!

Okay! The book'll be available in January at Muse-It-Up Publishing:

Now, for next week, I've tagged some writer friends of mine to carry the torch, so come check out:

Ashley Heckman:
Jim Henry:
Cyndi Williams Barnier:

These folks couldn't be more different from one another and all are worth checking out. Done! You're tagged!