Friday, April 21, 2017

Behold the beauty of CHILI RUN!

Not a hoax! Not a prank! Not a bad dream brought on by lousy nachos!


About that last part... My newest book, Chili Run, was actually based on a nightmare I had.
A really, really dumb nightmare. I started thinking about it (never a good idea).

In my dream, for some reason I was forced to run across downtown Kansas City in my tighty-whities to get a bowl of chili. Running against the clock or face severe consequences.

As dreams go, it made perfect sense at the time. They usually do. Very intense actually. Sure, sure, there's the usual dream dealio about being in your underwear in front of people. But this was the ultimate in underwear dreams. The idea stuck with me like...well, like three-day-old bad chili.

I just had to come up with a reason behind it, see if I could sustain the idea for a novel. Make it interesting, hopefully entertaining. Logical.


Whether I succeeded or not of course is in your hands/minds.

And just like a dream, just like my protagonists' run, the story kept going. Before I knew it, the damn book became a comedy-thriller-suspense-love story with lofty themes such as racism, bullying and writing.

I know, right?

But don't let the pretentiousness shove you off. It's really just a high-concept, low-brow shaggy dog tale about a guy running through town to get a bowl of chili. In his tighty-whities. Or his brother dies.

It made me laugh and I was kinda on the edge of my seat while writing it. Hope it puts you there, too. In a good kinda' way, I mean. While wearing pants so you don't get chafed.

(And yes, I'm aware of the bad connotation/pseudo pun of the title and a little bit of the kid in me giggles over it! That's kinda what you're in for.)

Chili Run: The perfect thriller for the reader on the go! 

Um, in case you didn't get it, CLICK HERE.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hippity hoppity, here comes Trumpity!

Honestly, the state of America right now's so depressing and ludicrous, the only way I'm able to handle it without a nervous breakdown is to envision our orange president as something benign, something friendly.

Behold the Easter Trumpy!

You feel it?

That nice, calming mood... The mood the friendly Easter Bunny evokes when it drops off eggs (and for God's sake, why does the Easter Bunny do that anyway? Wait! There I go again, getting upset...calm...find my center...). But do kids really like eggs all that much, consider them yummy?

Speaking of dropping off things, Trump recently made the decision to drop some bombs on Syria. To tell you the truth, for once he may've made the right decision. The gassing needed some sort of retaliation, the Trumpster Bunny was caught between a rock and a hard place. Still...that fear of another impending war causes me anxiety!

Okay, I'm back. Relaxed. I'm swinging with that groovy Easter Bunny now, the most benevolent creature on the planet. Hell, I'm sweating unicorns of peace and farting haloes!

Then again, I'm gonna' wake outta my temporary tranquility and realize that no matter how many Easter eggs I color, it's not gonna tie a pretty bonnet upon the sad state of America.

Dang it!

Sorry. No more digressions...

The world's a lovely, pastel colored place. The Easter Bunny is a beautiful sentiment. Kinda' disturbing, though, if you get right down to it--I mean, what's the reason behind a giant, creepy bunny delivering chocolate? And who likes marshmallow eggs anyway? And the Bunny, like Santa Claus, breaks into people's houses! (Agh, I'm getting sideswiped again!).

Alright. Peaceful. Cool. Finding my core. (And what does that mean anyway? Only core I'm worried about right now is the nuclear core which is minutes away from going full-on inferno!)

Be good people. Tolerate others' opinions. It's what the Easter Bunny would want.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 7, 2017

When Cats Talk, Worlds Collide!

My cat's been long gone for many years.

Yet the other night, I had a dream. He and I were back at my parent's house in my bedroom. A tough "teddy" gang of Latino cats started hooting from the street. I whipped up the blinds, saw all kinds of bling and attitude. Cats weren't just frontin'. Truth up, yo.
"C'mon, Tiger, come out and play-ay-ay!" the cats said, evoking that annoying guy from the movie, The Warriors. "Run with us!"

My cat, Tiger, turned to me, said, "Stuart, can I go out with them?"

In astonishment, I replied, "I didn't know you could talk!"

"You never asked me."

You know, some of my dreams just shouldn't be turned into books. Unlike the upcoming Chili Run, a true Freudian nightmare.

But more on that soon... 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Pay Attention!

This weekend I went on a wife-commissioned emergency egg purchase to the grocery store.

In front of me stood a huge massive slab of man (twice as large as I am and I'm pretty big). The manager/stock-boy made the mistake of asking Sasquatch how he was doing.

"Well, my back hurts," he says.

"That's great," the stock-boy replies.

Clearly, neither one was engaged in the conversation. They didn't hear each other, communication nil and rote. But I was there, Johnny-On-The-Spot, so you don't miss a scintillating moment.

Communication is important. Often, I see people--couples--sitting at a restaurant, not chatting. Tap-tap-tapping away on their phones as if they can't tolerate one another's company. Sad and silent.

I have an old-fashioned flip-phone. Texting is a tedious nightmare (tap, tap, tap...crap!...start over...tap, tap, tap...). But the stone-age phone helps me communicate, engaged with my wife when we go out.

I'm there.

If I see you in public engaging in such activity, I'll be forced to make a citizen's arrest. "Public Rudeness." You've been duly warned.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Some things just don't jell well with testicles...

Testicles are an important topic, one overlooked by many people. Others would rather just skirt the issue entirely. In this day and age where every Terribly Important Issue has a cable "news" show devoted to it, it's about time testicles came out of the shadows and thrust into the open.
If I have to be the brave journalist (everyone else is one these days, so I'm tossing my hat into the ring) to cast the much needed spotlight on testicles, so be it.

They're here, not very pretty, get used to it!

Sadly, testicles have been reduced to a comic device in films, the (literal) punchline in crappy comedies (see the unfortunate Home Alone series). In what world is groin damage considered comical? Apparently many people find blows to the junk the height of hilarity. YouTube and America's Home Videos are living proof of this sadistic anomaly.

But any guy who's ever suffered testicular embarrassment or irritation, not to mention full-on injury, will testify there's nothing funny about such shenanigans

For example... 

Not too long ago, I developed "jock itch."

I said, "But, doc, I'm not a jock. I don't even watch sports! My idea of sports is gambling!"

My doctor shook her head, wrote me a scrip. Couldn't wait to get me out of her office.

Even with the prescription filled, I couldn't scratch that itch. It kinda' scared me. I became desperate: cooking home remedies, sacrificing kittens, studying Scientology, watching late night infomercials. Anything.

One day I found a tube of ointment in the medicine cabinet, a sample my wife, a knowledgeable medical professional, brought home from a conference. I found the timing fortuitous.

"Soothes skin itching and burning," the label proudly proclaimed.

Hoo-hah! Celestial trumpets! (Just as long as it's not that "wah-wah-wahhhh" insulting, cartoon trombone). A dream come true! I couldn't wait to apply the miracle salve!

After I lathered it on my testicles, my wife says, "Wait! It's not for that! Don't--"

Too late. Fire ripped through my nether regions. I jerked, shimmied, frugged like I was in one of those stupid '60's beach movies ("Hey, Moondoggy, my 'nads are wayyy gone, baby!"). Fanning the area for all the good it did me.
Photos to follow...

Whoever thought it was a good idea to apply menthol to testicles needs to seriously do some reexamining. (It's kinda' like "Ben-Gay." Why in hell the ubiquitous "Ben" is so gay--as in "happy"--is beyond me.)

Frankly, America needs to hear more about testicles. I'm thinking of doing a pod-cast.

"You're on the air with Testicle Talk..." 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Smush-faced, violent kissing on screen!

This goes out to all the ladies. Looks painful, doesn't it?

The '50's and early '60's presented a line of cinematic leading men who really threw themselves into their kissing scenes. What gusto!

I'm talking smashed face, violent, lips out of whack, full-on kissing that didn't look comfortable at all. The man would just thrust his lips and mouth all over his poor unsuspecting costar and hold her tight, captive, by the shoulders. Painful.

Was this considered romantic back then?

Let's see...we had George Peppard. Man, he liked to really get in there, smash, wiggle about, do some serious lip damage. Bogart always looked like a very uncomfortable kisser, but Lauren Bacall apparently disagreed. Gregory Peck, stalwart that he was, always looked ill at ease making out. Sure, his characters were always supposed to be rock solid moral, but his kissing scenes appeared just as wooden. James Dean always looked like he was kissing himself. Anthony Quinn and Ernest Borgnine are probably better left unmentioned (but some time look up how Ernest used to torture his wife with a "dutch oven." The horror, the horror!).
Movies taught me how to romance women. So I smooshed my way through high school, into early college. Sorry for the bruised lips, girls.

Probably shoulda' watched different movies.

Friday, March 10, 2017

My great (maybe not so "great") grandparents owned slaves!

I come from a long line of racists. Most in denial, yet oddly proud of it.
First of all...apologies for my ancestors' past transgressions.

My dad stuck by his convictions. I didn't agree, didn't like it, but at least he was honest about where he stood.

"I'm racist, son," he'd say, "and I don't mean maybe."

I'm not really sure what prompted his racism. He'd hinted at his past, some bathroom incident when he was in the army. I never pushed too far. Didn't want to. Some things are better off buried.

But as an impressionable young child, I couldn't understand why my parents disliked everyone un-WASPy.

"Why do you hate black people, Mom?" I'd asked.

"Me?" she said. "I don't hate colored people. There's some good dark boys out there."

"What about Jewish people? Wasn't Jesus Jewish?"

"Jews! Jews killed Jesus!"

"Hm. What about Catholics? What's wrong with Catholics?"

"Mercy sakes. They worship Mary!"

End of discussion. No insight gained.

With age (and I hope enlightenment), I discovered how ludicrous all of that nonsense was.

I spent years and years fighting my parents on this, trying to change their minds, to look at things differently, more accurately and humanely. Pointless as battling a tornado with a fly-swatter. Best I could hope for is not to get sucked into the crazy.

My mom's still a hard-charging, practicing bigot. Not too long ago, she dropped a shocking racist slur.

"Mom," I screamed, oh so righteously (probably more than was merited, but such is the cross to bear when you're a white, guilt-stricken liberal), "that's racist and ugly!"

"Me?" Her eyes batted, vacant, innocent. "I'm not racist. Just as long as the darkies know their place."

Yow. Spoken like a slave-owner.

Speaking of which, I found out my great grandparents owned slaves, for Gawd's sake. (Sorry, sorry, sorry...)

My dad once told me, "Son, you come from good stock." Regardless of Dad's simile to cattle, there's nothing really tasty about racism.

Recently, I couldn't help myself. Fun where you can get it.

"Mom," I said, "you know a lot of historians say Jesus was black, right?"

Silence. A long, interminable silence. Zillions of crickets. Finally, "Bah. What do historians know?"

Ladies and gentlemen, my mom! She'll be here all weekend!

One of my parents is still on earth, one passed. They taught me many great things. But my disagreement with them over racial issues is set in stone. Weird thing, though, is my love for my folks is oddly, humanly intact. Ugly warts and all.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The mad (boy) scientist!

Not a hyperbolic '50's sci-fi film! Not a cautionary tale ripped from today's headlines about a meth-cooking tweaker in the Midwest!
This is an autobiographical tale of scientific discovery and ensuing tragedy.

In the '70's, I asked "Santa Claus" for a chemistry set. He delivered.

Hunkered in the basement, the first thing I tackled was an experiment involving sulfur, wax and flame. (If you're wondering what a kid was doing playing with fire in the basement, that was par for the course in the late '60's and early '70's. All the cool toys involved an element of danger. Miniature hot plates that could set houses on fire! Dangerous electrical devices that produced sun-like heat! Red hot iron plates. Sure you suffered burns from time to time. Part of the cool allure. Nothing like the namby-pamby, politically correct and all-too-boring toys made nowadays.) Anyway, my first experiment produced a rotten egg smell. Awesome!

It worked so well, the entire house reeked and my parents confiscated my chemistry set. Man! Parents are such a drag!
Two years later...

"But, Mom and Dad," I whined, "I love science..."

Shamelessly, I played to my parents' wish (hope?) that an intelligent person resided somewhere in my juvenile delinquent body.

Ta daaa! That Christmas, I got another chemistry set! Beautiful! 

Immediately, I retreated to my basement lab. And commenced with the rotten egg smell again.

Thirty minutes later, my second chemistry set was confiscated.

Parents just don't get it! Sooo uncool!

I think they pretty much gave up on me at that point.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Home Invasion!

Our home has been taken over. It's full of intruders, strangers, and people who don't have my best interests at heart.

The bathroom's being redone.
This means: I can't shower; I can't urinate; I can't wash my face or hands.

I smell like Ernest Borgnine's underwear.

Reduced to the most base behavior, I wait until nightfall to go to the bathroom outside. I'm using "baby-wipes" to clean myself which produces that weird baby diaper odor: not fresh, not clean, just chemically altered. My dog wants to eat the bathroom workers' faces off.

The absolute worst part? I've been forced to take showers at my mom's apartment. Nothing's changed since high school, pure hell. ("Whatever, Mom! Get off my back! Gawd!") To achieve the full effect, I should sneak cigarettes and listen to awful '70's arena rock (outside of country music, the only option growing up in '70's Kansas City).

Home contractors are a strange lot. They don't like to work more than a couple of hours a day. Communication is an alien concept to them as is a full day's work.

Yet, here I am, keeping hope alive, believing these yahoos. Each day I'm told, "Oh, yeah, we'll be finished tomorrow." Each day, a little bit of hope dies. And I smell a lot worse.

Sigh. Back to Mom's apartment. ("I already told you, Mom! Gah!")

Friday, February 17, 2017

The six million dollar dog!

That's my boy! A very expensive boy!

Recently, Zak blew out his knee. Irreparably damaged. One extremely costly operation later, he's home. Drugged out of his furry mind and stuck in the Cone of Shame.

The vet tells us Zak needs six months of recovery time. 

Six months???

That entails keeping him on a leash always, confining him to small quarters, watching him, doting on him, giving him massages and physical therapy for God's sake. It's up to me to take care of him 24-7 and make sure "he doesn't get excited." I said to the vet, "You're kidding, right?" Zak's a force of nature, as out of control as a tornado. He practically destroys the house trying to get to the mailman.

Now, I have to sleep downstairs because Zak can't handle the stairs to go up to our bedroom where he usually sleeps. We have a special harness to lift his back end up so he can take the two steps down off the deck into the yard. He can't be left alone and I can't go anywhere. Much to my mom's disgust, I can't take her on her weekly shopping and yelling sprees ("Huh. I guess your dog's more important than me.")

I feel like I'm under house arrest. A full-time job.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did. In one of those quirky moments that fate seems to love to toss my way, I fell off a stepladder in the garage. Now Zak and I hobble together up and down the street in painful, short walks. (It's funny how pet owners begin to resemble their pets: I have a limp, arthritis and gray whiskers! So does Zak!).

Seriously...if you're reading this, send help!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Welcome to my recurring (bathroom) nightmare!

Okay, armchair psychiatrists, get ready to analyze!

There I am, usually either at high school or Burger King (two places I haven't set foot inside of in decades, so make of that what you will). I'm heading for the public bathroom. When I open the door...
It's a vast room, jam-packed with people, both men and women. Everyone jockeying for a position to relieve themselves in a dizzying array of strange devices: there's the chin-high banana (your aim would have to be pretty astounding to use it); there are the usual urinals, of course, but the toilets are scattered all over the room with no privacy stalls; how about the elaborate playground jungle gym devices that people have to climb to rain down their business upon the poor people beneath them? And no one in there cares! Business as usual! Unzip, drop, laters.

The absolute worst part, though--the part that brings me to a sweating, gasping, waking state night after night--is the grotesque hygiene . All the toilets overflow with foul liquid. The walls are smeared with unspeakable waste. The smell could send a skunk running. And everyone drops their business willy-nilly.
And, without fail, I'm always in socks. Desperately trying to hopscotch over the spreading tides of waste. The filthy floods chase me across the tiled floor. A monstrously loud toilet whoosh signifies the newest approaching tsunami

My bladder's full. My stomach wants to expel. My socks and feet are soaked with vile, awful...

That's usually when I wake.

I used to worry about my mental state of health regarding this recurring nightmare. Until recently, that is, when I found hope in the oddest of places. With great relief--a wonderful feeling--I found out "Lorelei Gilmore" suffers from this recurring nightmare, too.

(SIDE BAR: If it pleases the court, I readily admit to enjoying the Gilmore Girls. I used to validate it by telling people it's a show I watch with my daughter {true}, but soon found myself drawn to the surrealistic whimsy and dialogue so funny, so furious, and so fast it'd give Aaron Sorkin whiplash. No guilt here! But I digress...)

I started wondering if maybe more people have this dream. According to my much valued research assistant, Ms. Google (I fired Mr. Bing last week), they do! Apparently it's pretty common.

No one's been bold enough to put a name to it yet, but armchair dream analysts (and have you ever wondered if the word "anal" in "analyst" is a snarky comment?) are sure giving it a go. I've read all sorts of nutty theories: people  are trying to work out their own "crap";  it goes back to how one was potty-trained; fear of public places; fear of urinating; bla, bla, bla.

All I know is I'd rather have ten boogeymen fully loaded with axes chasing after me than go back to this horrendous public bathroom of my dreams. Maybe it goes back to when I visited a Stuckey's bathroom and...and... Gah!

Never mind! It's just great to find out I'm not alone. Maybe I should start a support group or something. Anyone? (I see Lorelei's got her hand up).

Friday, February 3, 2017

Orange is the new Hate

Okay, okay, I'm sick of politics, too. Especially this new world order that makes no sense whatsoever.

Two weeks in, let's look at Trump's major accomplishments: low-income families can no longer afford to buy houses. The Trump immigration ban? Makes sound sense, right? What the United States is all about. Trump's ticked off China, numerous other countries. Shocker. But America's great again!  
No wonder 1984 is the best-selling novel now.

I'm absolutely terrified. Who's our new US president representing? And why are people buying into it?

Trump says he's giving America back to "the people." As long as "the people" are white, rich, male and orange, natch.

Here's what I don't get...white, rich, male, sexist, Eagles-listening, Fox News-watching, golfing people have ALWAYS been represented by the government. No matter the political denomination, Republicans or Democrats. The power's been in their hands, will continue to be. So why are white guys suddenly rising, like there's something to be angry about?

Orange is a new power group, but I thought the Oompa-Loompa Union had them covered.

Nothing's changing in the US regarding the power structure. Doesn't look like it will in the next four years.
Trump proclaims he wants to unite the country. Good luck, Orange One. Your hateful political campaign divided the country. (And, yes, Hillary had a hand in that as well).

We liberals aren't exempt from horrible behavior. I own up to that. Proponents on both sides have turned ugly, bitterly awful. I used to enjoy healthy political chats with friendly opponents. Not any longer. Not even with politically like-minded allies.
The so-called "leader of the free world" promotes hatred like a merit badge for scouts. Someone who's supposed to lead by example of exemplary behavior.

I feel like I'm following the biggest brat on the playground. One who likes molesting women and loves golden showers. 

Have you tried having a decent, intelligent, political chat these days?

Trump has unleashed a wave of hatred, anger and bigotry across the country, unrivaled since Hitler's reign. Now more than ever, people find it okay--even admirable--to bash people, verbally and physically.

Opinions that people have been harboring--festering away like cancer--are suddenly being unleashed with zeal. Thoughts that people knew were previously forbidden to share. But everything's changed. Our leader's made it clear it's okay to hate everyone different! Shout it from the rooftops, dammit! Our president does!

Couple days ago, I wrote this about my new book...

"Not Donald Trump's biography! But very close to it. From Riverdale Avenue Books, Demon with a Comb-Over (with a brand-spanking, sparkly new prequel) is out now!"

Just trying to find an amusing hook.

A woman responded, "Get over it! You're irritating me! We had 8 years of your idiot and he didn't do crap! Shut your mouth and deal with the future!"

Oof! Cyber-slapped! I "irritated" her. I live in her world and I'm just lucky to be sharing it. Whoops, my bad. Meanwhile, she's out there poking the bear.

 Welcome to the new world order. It's like we're living in "Celebrity Apprentice," praying we don't get fired from life.

America's always been about freedom of speech and healthy political debate.
Let's get back to that.
Help stomp out orange.