What is it you do best? Ever thought of that? A fellow wrote asking why I write. It's what I do best, I responded. But then I wondered how many people know what they do best? So I asked a bunch of strangers. Some said they were best at sex or eating, giggle giggle, but most shrugged and said they didn't have a clue. That's a crying shame. Say, what about you? What you do best?
Look at him, proudly standing there in his shorts. But how? How did Sgt. Alistair ever get High Command to approve fighting a war in shorts? As he tells the story, he went in and told them he saw no reason why they couldn't be stylish and comfortably cool while they killed their enemies. High Command couldn't argue with that. Unfortunately, they went on to a draw in that war and some critics tried to blame the shorts, with Sgt. Alistair taking a lot of heat for those suntanned knees, until it was announced that the next war would be held in colder climes, in December, where no one's going to be wearing any shorts. Now they only had to decide, Canada or Sweden?
July 3, 2015
The phone rings.
It's an animation company.
Am I interested in writing a pilot script for a new superhero.
This is their pitch:
He is called Captain Semen and his goal is to impregnate as many Earth women as possible. He wants lots of offspring to take back to his planet which had been devastated by a semen virus, that luckily, he managed to escape when he somehow goes through (we haven't figured this part out yet) a pulsar beam or something and he becomes Captain Semen! We figured you could give him a back story with maybe a frustrated wife who is always getting mad at him because he is too tired to have sex with her after having sex with all the other women he is impregnating, and he says stuff to her like, Honey, it's my job! As you can see, we're pretty stoked on Captain Semen. So, you interested?
No, I said.
The phone is returned to its cradle.
July 4, 2015
Know a guy in Oregon who has smoked dope all his life. But now that Oregon has legalized marijuana, he says he has quit pot because he doesn't want to be "a card carrying conformist with all the other sheep." Once an iconoclast, always an iconoclast, eh.
July 6, 2015
I leave today for an out of country trip and will not be back until either the 12th or 13th. That's about a week. So the site will be static, e-mails will go unanswered and book orders will not be fulfilled until my return. I hope you have a perfectly lovely week. Later, my pretties.
July 12, 2015
I was travelling and stopped to ask someone directions. The person looked at me and said, "You're the most interesting man in the world." Uh, what? He repeated that I was the most interesting man in the world, as in, you know, the guy who does the Dos Equis beer commercials. When I denied it, he said he understood, I was just trying to remain incognito. I don't always deny who I am, but when I do, I make sure everyone knows it. Stay thirsty, my friends.
These guys used to be young, vibrant men. Along the way, old age overtook them and now they are living lives they never contemplated. Are we unprepared for old age because youth is so compelling, so visceral, so exciting that sitting on a bench with nothing to do when you're old is unfathomable? Is retirement from work really retirement from life? Is there a bench like this in everyone's future?
July 14, 2015
On the plane.
-- That baby's so cute! What's its name?
-- Yes, Jesus.
-- You can't name your baby Jesus! That's blasphemous!
-- It's pronounced Hey-zus.
-- But it still means Jesus! Hell and damnation will befall you and your devil spawn! I don't want to sit next to you anymore.
-- Suits me.
-- I can't reach that stewardess button. Will you press it?
-- No. Hey, did I tell you his middle name? I didn't? It's Christ. Jesus Christ, meet Evil Lady.
July 15, 2015
FIRST PARAGRAPHS WE'D LIKE TO SEE
Her perfume smelled like a just opened can of peaches. I turned to her to say something, anything, just to see more than her profile, smell more than her syrup. We were in the crowd in front of the stage, shoulder to shoulder, I turned and asked her if what I was hearing was not the result of her intoxicating perfume clouding my ears, but was indeed a terrible tribute band playing Born To Run in front of some crazy old man up on the stage. She laughed a dainty laugh and then excused herself so as to not be there moments later when the marshals approached and demanded my presence in a back room. OMG, she was a spy! And the old man on stage turned out to be The President! And it was his son's lousy tribute band! I was about to be tortured but it was nothing compared to the torture I was already feeling. Yes, tortured by her betrayal when I was sure we had an unspoken thing going on back there standing next to each other listening to those idiots mangle Springsteen. How wrong can a guy be? I don't remember what happened next. Oh yes I do, the electrodes, the sound of my own bones breaking. But no one heard my heart, for it too was breaking, not like my femur and all my digits, but still...
July 16, 2015
Standing off to the side with the other husbands waiting to pick up take-out orders that weren't ready, this guy starts describing his life as "being caught in a blender with razor sharp blades slicing every bit of my life into thinner and thinner pieces until it's all a mush of me. A gross mush of me. Even I'm disgusted by it." He turns to me. "Shall I tell you of my troubles?"
-- My wife is a cheating, lying, manipulative, grade A, class one whore. She has taken every dime out of our account and is now living with Rocco Hepple, a guy I used to dominate. They're both losers. My oldest daughter is in a biker gang. Jesus Christ, a biker gang. What is wrong with her? Her younger sister is a stripper. I myself am having health problems. I make 12 dollars an hour, smoke crack and drink pretty good if the money's there. I drive a '86 beat up piece of shit Tercel. Overall, I pretty much hate my freakin' life.
-- Ryan? Order's ready.
-- Anyway, that's just some of my troubles.
Other people's lives.
July 17, 2015
The trail is labyrinth and meandering and you're hot and dusty and it's easy to believe this path goes nowhere but you continue walking because you've been told that at some glorious point, it will open up to this:
A delivery truck comes down our long driveway and parks. Delivery guy shuts off the engine, gets our package, has me sign for it, climbs back into his truck and it won't start. He tries enough times to completely kill the battery. He starts to freak out. Seems he has some perishables on the truck and they had first priority on his delivery schedule but our place was on the way and he would have had to double back so he stopped here first and now the perishables might melt if he can't get them out of his hot truck. He calls dispatch. I can hear them arguing. Next thing I know delivery man has quit and is walking up our driveway, leaving the scene. Several hours later, a tow truck backs down our driveway and hooks onto the disabled vehicle. By now, the smell from the back of the delivery truck is killer.
July 20, 2015
He stood on a hill to survey the scene. Before him lay carnage and destruction on a super scale, the dead and dying spread 270 degrees in a panorama of horror, all of it wrought by this one man's hand. It was only now, after it was over, and it was quiet, that he could take in the utter wreckage of his war, see its cost, marvel at its scale. Satisfied with his gruesome handiwork, the director yelled, Cut, and the 15,000 extras got up and stood in line with their camels to be paid.
July 21, 2015
Overheard in a waiting room.
-- What are you in for?
-- Brain tumour. You?
-- Face cancer.
-- Jeez buddy, who got it worse, you or me?
-- Life sucks.
-- Tell me about it.
July 22, 2015
We have this young buck who has taken up residence in our field. His antlers are all soft and fuzzy. He will pretty much walk right up to Susan, and he seems to be aware of, but not wary of, Maddie. Right now he has a fenced 23 acre field and woods all to himself. If he sticks around much longer, we might have to name him.
July 23, 2015
Saw a grown man crying at a bus stop. Behind his bench two scruffy looking punks were talking conspiratorially. The bus was still a block away. I don't know what the guy was crying about or whether the punks acted on their secret plans or even whether the bus saved him from harm in the nick of time because the light turned green and I drove on, ready to witness even more real life tableaus on my way to the grocery store.
July 24, 2015
A real life couple named Jack and Jill dated for two years before Jill called it off, exhausted by everyone always referencing the nursery rhyme and saying how cute it was that they were a real life Jack and Jill and then asking where their pail was. Jack volunteered to change his name. Jill accepted. Jack became Caitlyn and they lived a fabulous life happily ever after. No wait, maybe I'm mixing up my stories.
July 25, 2015
Who do you think you are? Who is this being that thinks like you do, inhabits the body like you do, is the you that you think of when asked, Who do you think you are? No matter what happens in this reality, you are always you. You don't wake up one morning as someone else living a different life. You are you in the here and now and you will still be you in the great beyond. Given that, why in the world would you hate yourself? You're not going to go away. You will live many more lifetimes, but you're not going away, because eventually you are going to love yourself, and your life, and all that that implies. So you can start now or you can start later, but get to know yourself well, because you are here for the long haul. You are here for you.
July 27, 2015
We don't publish the work of other authors, but that doesn't always stop would be authors from sending in manuscripts, such as this one.
"How come you're not on Twitter," growled the Boss.
"I hate Twitter," replied the employee.
"Yeah, well we're a media company, see. And we require everybody to be on Twitter. You get a handle and participate."
"Then I'll fire you."
"And why is that."
"Because I already quit."
"Just before you fired me."
"Oh, a real smartass, eh?"
"Is it? Really? Well guess what? You're hired back, and you're going to run the company Twitter account. Yes, I hate you that much."
"I'll be subversive. You won't know what hit you."
"Oh come on. It's 140 characters. Who's ever ruined a company over a couple of sentences! Not even you could pull that off. Ha ha, ha ha ha."
They kill each other in the end.
July 28, 2015
You think you know somebody... There was a knock on the door. There stood a young girl of maybe 16. She was selling something which was of no interest to me so I didn't buy. We finished our exchange, I closed the door and seconds later a rock was thrown through a window. Through the busted glass I see the girl running up our driveway. She's on foot. No hurry. I measure the window, call a local glass company and ask how much a replacement piece is, then get in my truck and drive along the neighbourhood below until I see her at another front door. I go up to her and tell her that she owes me X amount of dollars for a replacement window. She starts to pout, I hand her back the rock she threw through my window, she starts to argue, I tell her she can argue with the cops and turn to walk away. She relents, pulls out a huge wad of cash and peels off the requisite amount. As I look closer, I can see that what I thought was a young girl of 16, is actually a rather hardened looking gal of maybe 26. As if I had nothing better to do, I spent the rest of the afternoon repairing the window.
July 29, 2015
Another writer told me that his uncle had just died and he couldn't believe his good fortune. He liked the uncle well enough and certainly didn't wish him ill will, but the last time he saw him was in 1998 as the uncle - who was loaded! - lived in Germany, always seemed to be in poor health and rarely travelled. As a freelance writer, his income has always been sporadic, hit or miss, mostly miss. His entire adult life has been a struggle with money. But now, his rich, sickly, German uncle left him the one thing he has always craved - an annuity. He now knows that a small but certain amount of money will come in each and every month for the rest of his life. He wakes up every day knowing that the rent, utilities and groceries are paid for. "It's the greatest thing that ever happened to me," he said with a tear in his eye. "My uncle dying is a dream come true."
July 30, 2015
I'm going to a party for the man who built the very desk I am writing this on. It's not a party for the desk, it's a party for the man. But he won't be there. Still, we will talk of him and remember him in ways that would have embarrassed him if he had (been there). We will raise a toast to his absence, and though he may well be there with us in spirit, we'll drink as if he is gone forever.
July 31, 2015
All morning I watched a spider repair a web outside my office window. By early afternoon it had finished its work and was sitting motionless on the edge. By five in the afternoon the web was shredded and the spider was gone. If you live in this reality, regardless of your species, it's always a matter of life and death.