Friday, November 25, 2022

Yanker Blanky, It's a Freezy

Lately, my wife has been mad at me for taking the blankets off her in the night.

She said, "You are a yanker! You're constantly yanking the blankets off me! We have a bedspread with about two feet overhang, yet you keep yanking it off me through the night, leaving me with virtually nothing! Yank, yank, yank! And the yanking produces a cold breeze every time you yank."

I thought about this. And marveled at the possible record she set for using the word "yank" in a single diatribe.

So, of course I had to try and defend myself. "I don't yank." Even then, I knew it was a very lame rebuttal, but I never like to back down from a challenge. (And being called a "yanker" just somehow seems kinda obscene.)

"Do too! Yanker!"

"You make it sound like all I do is yank! That I'm a first-class yanker! I do not yank, yank, yank!"

"Hah! Every time you turn over, you yank the covers with you and wrap yourself up like a burrito! If the shoe fits...yanker!"

Okay, clearly I was losing this battle (as usual). Ever able to think fast on my feet, I attempted a new tactic. "Hey...last night why did you keep shoving the heavy bedspread over onto me? I was smoldering!"

It didn't work.

But I started to wonder about this. Why--after many years of not yanking--have I suddenly started to yank? 

Professor Google wasn't much help, but did provide me with an interesting study. The Best Mattress Brand conducted a recent study of over 2,000 people. The findings found that habitual cover stealers who grew up with a bedtime companion (we're talking dolls, blankies, teddy bears, or pets) were more likely to yank the covers off a partner than those who slept solo as children.

Huh. Weird. The results showed that about 75% of the respondents fit this model. Of course, it didn't explain why. But I'm here to give you my theories...

(Dons professorial garb...) If you held onto something as a child while going to sleep, you're still doing it, i.e., clutching the blankets. I grew up with a rag-tag teddy bear named "T. T. George (I know, I was a weird kid.)," holding onto him at night for dear life. He protected me from the monsters under the bed and the bullies in the school hallways. Now, the bedspread has become my surrogate teddy bear.

But...that theory doesn't explain why I didn't "yank" the covers for many, many years, but have just now developed this habit. Perhaps it's the frightening state of affairs of the world we live in. Much, much, much worse now than it's ever been. And ever since my wife chastised me about not paying attention to the news, I've become a "Doom Scroller." Which freaks the eff outta me. So I'm covering up from all the bad stuff in the world right now by yanking the blanky.

So, class...it's my wife's fault. So THERE.

While we're on the topic of spooky things lurking beneath beds and elsewhere, you'll find a plethora of eerie, creepy, scary monsters (both of human and supernatural form) in my short story collection, Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley. You know...just like the title of this blog! Synchronicity! Or vanity, maybe. YOU be the judge. Doesn't matter as long as you go here to check it out.


 



Friday, November 18, 2022

"World's Dirtiest Man Dies!"

Well, hell yes, I'm gonna be interested in a news article with a headline like that! My wife found the article and we read it. But, alas, it seemed to bring up more questions than it did answers.

First of all, a little background about the "world's dirtiest man." Amou Haji, from Iran, refused to use soap and water for over half a century(!) because he thought it'd make him sick. His favorite meal was porcupine (yum!), rotten meat (scrumptious!), and he drank rancid water. He split his time between living in a hole in the ground and a brick shack built by his concerned neighbors. Years of living in filth left his skin covered in pus and soot. Finally, he was fond of smoking and just couldn't get enough cigarettes apparently since he enjoyed smoking four at once! (Kids, don't try this at home.) When asked about his odd lifestyle choices, he explained that it was due to "emotional setbacks" when he was younger.

Here's the kicker: At long last, he grew sick and tired of neighbors badgering him to take a bath so gave into peer pressure a couple of months ago, took a bath, and promptly died! At the age of 94! Yow! The guy must've been doing something right. I suppose my takeaway is don't bathe and be sure and smoke. A lot.

Hmm. Let's take all this in for a moment...

But let's get back to my nagging questions... First of all, for the luvva God, WHY?

I mean, did Amou set out to break a world record? Sure, he said he had "emotional setbacks (code-speak for "damaged goods")," but really, I'd like to know his motivation. Half a century ago, did he wake up, flip through his dog-eared copy of Ripley's Believe it or Not, and say, "Hey, I betcha I can beat the current champ for being the world's dirtiest man! Here I go! Wheeee!"

Furthermore, who's the judge? Who'd want to be? What's the qualitative data to be scientifically collected, compared and analyzed?  "Let's see here," says Judge Harry Squalls of the United Filth Bureau, "according to the Body-Odor-Meter, Amou is pulling in a rank rating of 179% compared to Bob down in Tulsa's lackluster showing of 132%. And his pus level is off the charts! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new champion!"

Who coined him "the world's dirtiest man?" The article claims the catch-all "media" did. But...can they be certain? Have they looked in lately on Bob down in Tulsa? Also, the news article noted that there had been reports of an Indian man who hadn't washed or brushed his teeth in 35 years! (I'm smelling a sit-com--and I do mean "smelling"--about two very different men who become roommates based on their similar lack of hygiene. Call it...wait for it..."The ODDor Couple.")

While it's a very nice thing for Amou's neighbors to build him a shack, my suspicious, cynical nature makes me go "Hmmmmm. What were they really after?" I have a theory: Amou's hole in the ground was upwind to where the neighbors lived. Better to invest in a brick shack to enclose his odor within. And I imagined when it came time to tell Amou what they'd done for him, they drew straws, and the unlucky winner had to use a megaphone at a distance to relay the good news. (Which makes me wonder how Amou would've made out on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.")

I said to my wife, "Well...Amou must've been doing something right, because he lived to be 94! Maybe there's something to be said for being too clean."

She responded, "Now, that's true! If you clean and scrub too much, you're likely to get rid of helpful bacteria on the skin."

So...now I gotta worry about being too clean. Thanks a lot, Amou. You've just given me a new phobia.

So, the story raised more questions then it did in supplying information. I have a feeling we've only just scratched the surface of Amou's odd story and it would make a delightful fun film for the entire family. Filmed in "Odorama!"

Speaking of world records, meet Zach, the world's greatest male entertainment dancer (code-speak for "stripper"). At least in his own lil' delusional mind. That's the least of Zach's problems, though. He wakes up in a strange bed with no clothes and no memory. Next to a dead, naked man! Natch, Zach's horrified. Not so much about the dead body, but rather he's got a strong ladies man reputation to uphold. Time to call in his ever-suffering, often-pregnant, highly irritable detective sister, Zora. And the wacky, suspenseful antics are off! This is all just in the first couple of pages of my comical murder mystery, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, the first in a series of books. Check it out! 



Friday, November 11, 2022

Diva Civil War Reenactors

Well. It appears there's a new threat to our country, our way of life, and the basic tenet of democracy upon which our country was built. What? No, I'm not talking about the gung-ho craziness and racism of the far, far out there MAGA extremists (although, hmm, it certainly does pertain to them as well). Nope, the new threat is...diva Civil War reenactors.

Let me explain. Then YOU make up your mind about the immediate danger of these "deep state" bad actors.

My daughter lives in a small town in Kansas, known for being John Brown's stomping grounds. (Now if you don't know who John Brown was, look him up. I'm not your Mr. Google. But I will say although the results he sought in ending slavery were admirable, he chose a bloody path getting there!) Every year the town throws a Pride festival honoring their history. It's a big to-do, complete with civil war reenactments, and the whole nine yards. This year my daughter volunteered. Not to get shot by a grey coat, mind you, but to push kettle corn or something or whatever.

The guy who puts the festival on had a hush-hush chat with his volunteers. "And whatever you do," he said, "don't insult the reenactors. Try and make them happy. Don't cross them. They're a bunch of divas."

Whaaaaaaat?

First of all, how can anyone whose claim to fame as being a civil war reenactor have earned the right to be a diva? You, sir, are not Cher. You're an adult man who plays dress-up and bang-bang with toy guns and I imagine you speak in a fake Southern dialect that comes across more like Foghorn Leghorn chewing out his nephew chicken. ("I say, I say, son, you bother me.")

The festival manager elaborated further. "These guys do this all over the country. And they always stay in character."

Pretty much what I expected. But I still don't get their snooty, diva-like entitlement. I mean, are they gonna blast a poor festival worker full of buckshot for offering them a modern amenity such as a diet soda? And from what this festival guy said, it seems like they feel like they're stars. At least in their own eyes. And maybe their mothers'. I imagine they practice quite a bit in their mothers' basements.

So the first day of the festival goes off without a hitch. When it ended for the day, the reenactors pooh-poohed hotel accommodations. "No suh! How dare you, suh? Our founding forefathahs never indulged in the luxuries of modern hotels! What's good enough for them is good enough for us, by Ulysses S. Grant's beard!"

So that night they bunked down in John Brown Park. Then a Midwest wind storm whipped across the grounds taking many of their tents with it.  (I kinda think it was the civil war ghosts telling them what they thought of their little play-acting, but I'm gettin' kinda digressy.)

What did the Civil War reenactors do? They hissed, spat, threw a hissy fit and a half. Then they packed up their toys and went home, leaving the festival manager and workers at a loss. Everyone was coming to see the reenactors, then left disappointed when told at the gate there were none. A total bust.

Wow. Even Cher would carry on a show if her tour bus were whipped off by a tornado. "Diva" doesn't even begin to describe their poor behavior. These clowns didn't uphold their end of the bargain. I'm not sure how litigious people were during the Civil War, but I doubt a defense of "Suh, you offend me! Back in the day, people didn't sue one anothah! I do declare!" would hold up in today's courts.

Oh, well. Back to their mothers' basements they go, where they'll be safe from such awful elements as the wind (which I'm pretty sure their founding forefathers dealt with on a daily basis.).

Speaking of delusional adults, Zach isn't a Civil War reenactor, but that might be a step up from what he does for a living. You see, he's a "male entertainment dancer (NEVER a stripper)," in his own mind the world's best gift to the stage. Except for his uncanny knack for constantly falling over dead bodies, always in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it's always up to his long-suffering, usually pregnant detective sister, Zora, to bail him out of trouble. There are three books in the Zach and Zora comical mystery series (so far?), so you may as well start with the first, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock. Get to reading, suh!


 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Hey! Vote Next Tuesday!

I know, I know, you're probably sick of all the so-called "political" endorsements, advertisements, and all-around despicable behavior from all of our "law-makers" by now. I know I am. And you're probably also thinking "why should I vote, when these idiots running are cretins who care nothing about their constituents and only care about power, power, power?" Why...thank you, sir, you took the words right out of my mouth! And you may be feeling helpless, figuring your lone vote won't matter in the big picture, and why not just remain on the sofa this coming November 8th for all the good your voting would do.

Wake up, Mr. and Mrs. America! Time to get up off that sofa!

Why should you vote this upcoming midterm election day? Because as bad as things are now, they could become much worse.

I mean, really... The last thing our country needs are these incredibly blunt and obvious election deniers and liars running our country. Running it directly into the ground, six feet under, and sticking a stake into the heart of democracy to top it off.

Yay, politicians!

Good Gawd, there's even talk about Marjorie Taylor Greene running as Trump's vice-president in 2024. This is the crazy lady who blamed Jewish people for setting off space lasers to burn our forests. You really want THAT for your vice president? 

But what else could I expect from Trump with all of his antisemitic rhetoric? He's become so emboldened that he doesn't even try to hide his racism and hatred for anyone not rich, male and white any longer, making his ties to racist hate groups upfront and obvious. And, hey, let's not forget all of the legal troubles the Orange One is facing, including rape allegations, tax evasion, espionage, and conspiracy to overthrow the government. (C'mon, even you hardcore Trump thumpers might have to be questioning his "morals" at this point, right? RIGHT?)

Hooray!

Trump's been running around the country, holding KKK "political" rallies, handing out his endorsements like candy (and not the good kind of candy, either. More like the creepy old neighborhood lady who always hands out one piece of candy corn at Halloween.). And what are Trump's prerequisites for a candidate to earn his hallowed orange endorsement? Simple! You're golden (or orange) as long as you agree with his Big Lie about his winning the election! That's it! That's why Herschel Walker and Kari Lake are there! (Because everyone knows that a football player and a weather lady are stellar political candidates.)

So, yeah, I get it. I'm burned out from all of the terrible, childish behavior and lies from both sides of the political spectrum, too. And I'm not a fan of inflation either. But just remember...as terrible as things have been over the last six years, things will definitely get much worse if all the crazies get into office. Our country will become built on hate and violence and racism and lies and abuse of power rather than democratic ideals. 

I don't want to see our country go that way. So, please, get out and vote on November 8th!

Alright, alright, alright, I'm getting off my soap-box now. Or I would, but I'm so pissed off, I kicked it into splinters.

Friday, October 28, 2022

My Deepest, Darkest (Probably Unfounded) Fear

Recently my daughter and I were discussing mortality. Okay, so it's not your typical father/daughter pow-wow, but our conversations rarely are. (Plus, in keeping with my highest standard of honest journalistic integrity, beers may have been involved. Perhaps lots of beers. But let's stop this digressing already!)

I said, "You know, funerals are awful. I loathe them."

"Dad, I don't think anyone loves 'em. It's not like people are doing cartwheels graveside," she replied.

"I know, but... I just hate how expensive they are. I mean, it's bad enough people are grieving their loved ones, but then to have some vulture of a funeral director glad hand you and talk you through his various kazillion dollar packages, and then sock you with a $15,000 bill during your time of grief is really kinda despicable. And why? To put your remains in the ground. It's all kinda ridiculous. I sure wouldn't want to leave you that kinda financial burden."

"That's why I want to donate my body to help people," she said. "But...I want my parts to go to as many people as possible. To help as many people as I can."

"Yeah, I've also thought about donating my body to science, but..." I paused, deep in morbid, half-drunk reflection. "It's also my deepest fear."

"What? What,what,what?"

"You know... I don't want to be on display naked in a glass cage and have some intern roll me out into a packed medical school classroom and have a professor point at me with his teaching stick and say, 'Class, this is a naked dead fat man. Don't turn into this!' And my eyes would be all bug-eyed and glassy and frozen open because it's my final thought before I kick the bucket!"

"Yeah, I don't really think that's how that would go down, but--"

"And then...and then...gasps and cries of revulsion would wave around the classroom and one student would even pass out!"

"Dad, I really, really don't think that--"

"Then they'd roll me back out until the next class. Nightmarish!"

"Hmm."

We discussed other ways to go. My wife had once suggested using her remains as compost or something to help plants grow. Which is an interesting idea even though I'm not sure I'd want to eat the resulting vegetable or whatever. Then she had once toyed with the notion of having her remains shot into space. Which is kinda cool, where no (wo)man has gone before and all that, but if a lousy burial is so expensive, Elon Musk is probably the only guy who can afford to blast his ashes into space.

I suppose cremation might be a relatively cheaper option, but I dunno. Having your body incinerated is still cringey to me, even though I'd have long left the building, so to speak.

Mummification might be kinda cool, but um...is it even legal? Furthermore, I've seen way too many mummy movies. It's bad enough I'm going to be on display, let alone slumping around in some pyramid wearing tattered cloths.

Cryonics might be kinda neat because I'd be frozen next to Walt Disney's head and Elvis Presley. But again, it's a rich dead man's game.

A tree burial is sorta nice. But really, once you're buried inside a tree, it's the same as being buried underground, but maybe a little scarier. And if you think a funeral director is outrageously overpricing his work, wait until an arborist gets involved!

There's aquamation where your body is "bathed" until it breaks down. I wonder how long that would take. Furthermore, who's gonna volunteer their bathtub? "I don't know," my daughter would say, "but Dad's been in the bathtub for about three months now and doesn't seem to be in any hurry to go down the drain."

Dissolution has gotta be the Mafia's favorite way to dispose of a body by dumping it into strong chemicals and turning it into soup. Expediency is key here, which is nice. But then again, I can't see Johnny Law looking kindly on someone melting down Grandpa in a barrel in the backyard.

I found about a dozen other ways to sail away, each more gruesome than the other. And expensive. No, I'm beginning to think my display case idea would be the cheapest and least burdensome for my loved ones. Unless, of course, they end up in that particular classroom.

Next week...puppies! (I kid, I kid...) And Happy Halloween, boo!

But I'm not kidding about the many creative ways of body disposal to be found at the Dandy Drop Inn where it's elevated to an art form. C'mon over and check in! Just make sure you'll be able to check out, if you know what I mean. That's the fun to be had in Dread and Breakfast! Make your vacation (and burial) plans now!


 


Friday, October 21, 2022

How Does "Woke Math" Add Up?

Okay, this is getting ridiculous.

I know a lot of people in our country are afraid of anything "woke." (For those of you who've been locked in a kidnapper's basement for the last several years, "woke" is defined as an alert to injustice in society, particularly racism. I don't know why this concept scares those on the far, far--so far, they may as well be in space--right contingent, but it does. Seems like a fine concept to me, but I'm digressing.)

But how in the world can something like math be considered "woke?" Honestly, all through school, I thought math sucked, but not because it presented a threat to society. No, it merely presented a threat to my graduating school.

In fact, math is right up there with toenails as being the least politicized thing I can think of. (At first, I compared it to "buttons," but then I remembered the Amish aren't allowed to use buttons on their clothing because they're pacifists and the military loves their buttons. So, hence, buttons are woke! You read it here first!) (Triple digression time! I just read that Taylor Swift got a pedicure and painted her toenails red, white and blue to tell people to vote. So...my argument for toenails not being politicized just went out the window, too. Dammit!)

So that just leaves math as being the only thing not politicized on earth these days. Except the far right fringe wants to take that away, too.

Back to the beginning...how can math be woke? Apparently, it's all tied into critical race theory, particularly as it's taught in schools. This so-called "theory" has been kicking around for some time, but now is being tossed around like sticks of gum. Once again, the far right fringe feels threatened by it, as they believe it will further divide and pit people of color against the privileged white folks (yeah, right...like the white supremacists aren't doing a good enough job of their own on that front). The far left feel it's a way of understanding how racism has shaped public policy. I dunno...I kinda think it's a good thing to try and learn from our past mistakes and not sweep them under the rug. You know, learn from the past so as not repeat it? Whoops! Too late for that!

"Good ol'" Ron DeSantis down in Florida is leading the "let's clean up the woke math book problem." This year, the state rejected 54 of 132 proposed math books because DeSantis and crew claimed they promoted math problems that featured racial prejudice. (And everyone knows that in the "New Amurica," racial prejudice is only cool if it comes from white supremacists. Like the banning of these books.) From what I could tell, the math problems in question performed a multi-function task: they applied real world problems and situations such as racism charts amongst age groups to further educate and prepare children for the world they'd be facing. Oh yeah...and they taught math, too. Clearly, these math problems were tailored to children of color, which if it helps them learn, how can it be a bad thing? Kinda important, I think.

But DeSantis and klan crew doesn't see it that way. Apparently, only "white math" should be taught.

Now, if the problematic books featured a problem like "If six Ku Klux Klan members are riding by horseback to a Trump rally ten miles to the North at 20 miles an hour, and the Proud Boys are riding in a pick 'em up truck at 80 miles per hour starting at 60 miles South, who would arrive at the Trump rally first?" I might be shocked. Nah. I'd probably frame the book.

I don't know. It just seems perverse that politicians are going after school math books now. Shouldn't they be doing something more time-worthy, like helping their constituents instead of creativing more divisiveness and problems than are necessary?

Leave my math alone! (Don't get me wrong, math, I still hate you. We broke up a long time ago. But, you don't deserve this.)

Speaking of school problems, poor Tex McKenna has got a ton of 'em in high school: bullying, fledgling love, clueless adults, homework, um...a serial killer and the fact he's just learned he's a witch. But, whew...woke math doesn't seem to be an issue here! Read all about it in Tex, the Witch Boy, available here!



 


Friday, October 14, 2022

The Best Weapon For a Serial Killer

You know it takes a very peculiar couple to argue the merits of what would make a serial killer's most optimal weapon.

Go on, take me and my wife. (I dare you.)

There we were, recently lounging on our "love seat (a very peculiar name in itself because of the mayhem we view on TV while lovingly lounging on it)," and a hooded killer was going after people with a hook during one of our "stories."

"I dunno, honey," I said, while affecting a very authoritative voice while stroking my beard, "if I were a serial killer, I wouldn't think a hook would be the most effective choice."

"Au contraire," she says, with much more authority than I could muster. "With a hook you could swing down, up, stick it straight in, and give it an extra twist, thus making it the perfect serial killer weapon."

"But...but...you would have to have much power behind your upward swing, not to mention the downward motion, to be able to get the hook into the body. Remember, it's called a 'hook' for a reason. See my point?" (And yes, the pun was intended.)

"Nope. I'm sticking with a hook. You can do much more damage, especially with a finishing twist."

"But it wouldn't go in straight, I tell ya! A knife would go in straight! You could slip it right inside the rib-cage, whereas a hook would be bouncing off of bones left and right, thus rendering the would-be killer off balance!"

"It's the hook for me, all the way."

We discussed the finer points of a serial killer's arsenal into the night, with neither of us conceding to the other (you know...like modern "politics!")

By the way, it turns out that on this particular program, both of our arguments were moot, because the killer double-dipped, tipping his hook with poison, but that's besides the point.

So, what's it gonna be, folks? Chime in on the great debate! Hook or knife as your preferred serial killer weapon? Later, we can have a fun contest to see how many government watch lists we land on!

Speaking of all things "peculiar," thing don't get much more peculiar than they do in Peculiar County. My book details a young teen tomboy girl coming of age in a small Kansas town in the '60's. A young girl's life is plenty peculiar in itself, but when you factor in a ghost in a corn-field, a mysterious murderer, a slew of creepy witches, the haunted funeral home she resides in, and a mysterious creature that takes flight in the night, well, yes indeedy, things get mighty peculiar. This October, drop in on Peculiar County for some Halloween fun!