Monday, October 31, 2005


Tomorrow I will begin posting excerpts from my new novel Handmade Heart. In the meantime I am displaying selected parts of my first two novels. The following is the final post from The Limits of Respectability. The first excerpt, if you haven’t yet read it, is here, the second here, the third here, and the fourth here.

Synopsis: It is the pretentious mid-eighties and a make or break tour for Bitter Romance, a small time rock band trying to find a place in the competitive music industry. We meet bass guitarist John ‘Sparky’ Malveen, the pragmatic, practical joker, more adept at getting himself into trouble, than out of it. Doc Barlow the quick witted comedic know-it-all pianist. Thumper, the diminutive lead-guitarist who pines for his domestic home-life. Wally, a single-minded guy with an appetite for women and food over playing guitar. Bronson the light-man/ martial arts expert and the egotistical drummer, Space the self-proclaimed leader of the group. Then there’s Wires Whitmire, the quiet, chain smoking sound-man who has a way of getting his band out of the trouble that always seems too find them. His only creative outlet, are the caricatures he draws. A picturesque comedy of life on the road in a rock band.

Blueberry, blueberry

Wires tossed me a baseball cap, sunglasses and a scarf, "Here," he said. "Wear this tonight and keep your distance. You’ll be fine."

I thanked Wires profusely and quickly ornamented myself with the camouflage.

"You look like Space did back in . . ."

"– Don’t say it! I’ve had quite enough of that place. Thank you very much."

"Look on the bright side Sparky. It’s not so far to drop from a trailer window."

"Very funny Doc."

Wires spoke, "You only have to worry about tonight. Space had the whole week. Just act cool and nothing will happen. Oh and don’t let Wally do your laundry."

"You guys are soooo compassionate." I mumbled through the laughter. An empty, crushed, beer can tumbled into our little group, and landed at my feet.

Doc spoke, "I’d try not to take that as a sign, Sparky."

I stayed out of sight until the twilight took the last of the day and the mosquito like buzz of ghostly motorbikes continued their dance, primally circling two newly lit crackling bonfires in the center of the field. The area in front of the stage had filled in nicely with the constant arrival of bikers throughout the afternoon, and I felt that it was reasonably safe to make my way from hiding. Badd Kredytz had set up and conducted a sound-check and were currently nowhere to be seen. They were probably in their bus applying their make-up and teasing their hair for that night’s performance. I now found myself at our sound console, pulling my scarf tight around my neck and face. I discovered Wires there, with a logic probe testing a few cables. "What’s the word, Wires?"

"We do the first set. They go on at ten."

"You know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I talked with Kenny their sound guy. It was bad Sparky. Their drummer looks like a racoon with his two black eyes and busted nose. Benton still has his left hand bandaged and his arm in a sling and Vier Derhaus, you know him?"

"He’s their guitarist."

" . . . well, Kenny has to sing Vier’s backups from the soundboard because he has his mouth wired shut. They had to cancel their gig the following week just to heal a little, laid up in that bus of theirs. They got messed-up huge, and they’re pretty pissed about it."

"Hey Wires, I’m the first to admit when my practical jokes go too far. But they had it coming to them, right? – They’re so full of themselves." Wires just shrugged his shoulders. "Wires! Help me out. I need some justification here."

"We won’t let you stand alone, that’s a given. But let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that. Besides Sparky, take comfort in the fact that one band is always playing. The chance of a confrontation with them is highly unlikely even if they do realize who you are. We finish playing before them so we can get you out of here quickly, if need be."

"I hope you’re right but I don’t feel comforted, Wires."

Bronson came to the sound console and took his place behind the light board. Spike was close behind grumbling, "When do we go on?"

Wires looked at his watch, "Ten minutes, give or take."

"I don’t think Wally’s going to make it that long," He pointed to our rhythm guitarist next to the stage. Wally was pacing in tight circles. Doc was trying to catch him to calm him down.

"Did he have a reaction to the turkey legs?" I inquired, "I mean, man, he ate four of them."

"No. He took more of those drugs we were given and he’s hyper as hell. He’s tried to
hump my wife three times. He’s lucky I didn’t break his legs."

"Easy Spike, it’s Wally, he doesn’t mean any harm, I’m sure," Wires comforted.

I was starting to lose it again, "Wires, what were you saying about not bringing attention to myself? We don’t need this.– I don’t need this!"

"Yeah," Bronson said, "That boy looks like he could run rectangles in a round room."

"Don’t panic, Sparky."

" . . . not . . . panicking!" I said, beginning to hyperventilate.

Space met us at the side of the stage as we tried to hold our guitarist still, "Everyone ready?...What the hell is wrong with Wally?"

"Took too many magic beans," Doc offered.

"Damn it Wally! Those were for everyone later on tonight. How many did you take?"

"Looks like all of them," Spike growled, holding up an empty roll of duct tape and
peering through the circle of it.

Wally hopped up and down nervously and mouthed the words, "Blueberry," over and over.

"Je-sus! He’s in 3/4 time," Doc laughed. Wally used the word blueberry, to correct his metre when we switched to time signatures that involved the waltz-like rhythms.

"Well that’s just great Doc, except we’re not playing anything in 3/4. Get him on stage and plug him in. Wires if he’s fucking up, shut him down and pull him out of the mix."

Wires blinked and drew on his cigarette. He nodded knowingly and returned to the mixing board, leaving behind a trail of smoke. He took his place alongside Bronson as we
shuffled Wally onto the stage, "Blueberry, blueberry, blueberry . . ."

"Christ Doc! Listen to him. If I wasn’t so worried about getting my ass kicked, I’d be hungry."

We plugged him in and took our places, as the intro tape played, and the clamor from the crowd increased to a boisterous din. We started into our first song, Rebel Yell, by Billy Idol, a song that I sang lead on. Wally was still hopping up and down like a bird. He was moving all over the stage. He hopped by me on his way to Doc’s keyboards, "Blueberry, blueberry, blueberry . . ." He was up on the drum riser. He was behind Spike. He even left the stage at one point, and reemerged as he climbed back on from the front. His guitar was hanging off his waist and scraping against the wood. Three of his strings had snapped and now flailed around wildly. Still Wally’s mouth flapped away, "Blueberry, blueberry, blueberry . . ."

I yelled at Doc, during the middle-eight of the song, "Good thing he’s got a wireless!"

Through the scarf my words were garbled and Doc yelled back, "Well you’ll have to hold your piss til after the set Sparky!"

Wally was back on stage hopping around like a madman. He approached the microphone and began singing into it, "Blueberry, blueberry, blueberry . . . ," The audience looked at him confused. Some glanced at one another and twisted their faces as Wally continued, "Blueberry!..."

Doc yelled, "Sparky, do something! Get him off the microphone!"

I ran to the front of the stage and shoved Wally out of the way as I sang the chorus, "In
the midnight hour she cried more, more, more . . . ,"
I could hear Wally coming back at me from behind, "Blueberry!..."

"With a rebel yell hugh!..." He knocked my baseball hat off with the stock of his guitar and pulled the scarf right off my face as he bumped me aside and continued to blabber, "Blueberry," through the P.A. system. Everyone was looking at this crazy buffoon running amuck and butchering Billy Idol. They must have been wondering what kind of half-baked band had been hired. Everyone, that is, except Badd Kredytz. They were watching all that transpired from their side of the stage, and were now focused squarely on my naked face, first, with realization and then with anger. It was an anger tinted with a seed of vengeance.

Tomorrow excerpts begin from: Handmade Heart

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Down 2 it

In two days I will begin posting excerpts from my new novel Handmade Heart. In the meantime I am displaying selected parts of my first two novels. The following is the fourth post from The Limits of Respectability. The first excerpt, if you haven’t yet read it, is here, the second here, and the third here.

Synopsis: It is the pretentious mid-eighties and a make or break tour for Bitter Romance, a small time rock band trying to find a place in the competitive music industry. We meet bass guitarist John ‘Sparky’ Malveen, the pragmatic, practical joker, more adept at getting himself into trouble, than out of it. Doc Barlow the quick witted comedic know-it-all pianist. Thumper, the diminutive lead-guitarist who pines for his domestic home-life. Wally, a single-minded guy with an appetite for women and food over playing guitar. Bronson the light-man/ martial arts expert and the egotistical drummer, Space the self-proclaimed leader of the group. Then there’s Wires Whitmire, the quiet, chain smoking sound-man who has a way of getting his band out of the trouble that always seems too find them. His only creative outlet, are the caricatures he draws. A picturesque comedy of life on the road in a rock band.

Corned beef and ass cabbage

Doc and I strolled out to the road just as an old Greyhound pulled into the stop and up to the pumps. It was an older model bus with curtains on all the windows and blue flames stretching the length of the body. The word, Chartered, was displayed across the front above the wind screen. I recognized it right away.

"Oh great Doc Badd Kredytz."


"It’s a band that I auditioned for once. They said I was too portly . . . well actually, I think they used the word rotund, but either way I didn’t fit their image. That’s their bus. Fuck I hate these guys. They’re such pompous assholes."

Badd Kredytz was one of those big hair bands that were full of themselves, more concerned with an image than whether the music they played sucked or not. They were an amalgamation of power ballads and pretentious struts with the obligatory double D, misspell, and Z’s replacing S’s that all bands of their genre seemed to have in their name.

The bus halted and the door swooshed open. A tall guy with big hair, spandex zebra pants, green high-tops, and a black blazer with padded shoulders emerged. Behind him the rest of the band filed out, equally overdressed and took to posing next to the bus. After all, someone with a camera, perhaps the mechanic, might want to snap a few shots.

Big-hair-spandex-guy paused to adjust his dark shades and toss a fuzzy green boa over
his shoulder before heading our way. It was like one of those sure things in life, the rule of avoidance, that little two-step from side to side, where despite your best effort to get out of the
way of the person you’re approaching you still manage to come face to face.

"Hey man great to see you. How are you?" I said, trying to be pleasant.

The guy looked confused. Then he snapped his fingers, "Oh you’re the bouncer from that club in that town . . . uh . . . where we played . . ."

– "I auditioned for you once. Johnny Malveen. You were looking for a bass player."

"Oh right. Yeah cool. Malvin." He was smiling and nodding like he knew all along, when he still had absolutely no clue who I was. In all fairness I had dropped quite a bit of weight since I’d been performing every night. That combined with not getting paid enough to eat, made for an effective little diet.

"So ugh– Malvin . . ."

"Malveen," I corrected.

"Right! What brings you here? You pumpin’ gas? If so, we need diesel."

"No. I’m on tour with a band. – Oh forgive me. This is Doc Barlow our keyboard player. Doc this is Benton."

"Benton D. Struction." Benton offered his hand and Doc took it.

"So are you guys like Christian Rock fags or something?"

"Woe, Doc, buddy, hey," Benton laughed as he rubbed his heavy metal bracelet, "Easy
on the religious music, guy. I mean that’s like me askin’ where’s Sneezy, Sleazy and your other
dwarf chums?"

"I just thought with a name like that . . . there’s a lot of biblical reference going on. I mean which one of your band is Fire and which one’s Brimstone?" Doc thumbed to the rest of
the band, now adjusting their crotches to achieve maximum bulges before settling into new poses.

"Benton and his band play lighter anthems, Doc, that kind of thing."

"As in cigarette lighters, Doc old boy."

"The scars on my frontal lobe are still healing, but yeah Benton I managed to figure that one out."

–"And heavy rockin’ that the chicks dig." He did a small pirouette and let out a , "yeow!"

"Cool dude, you guys rock."

"You know it."

The truth was they sucked. But it was the standard musician to musician praise. Even if he was an ass. I could slag him later and I was sure at this point Doc would be a willing participant.

"You guys getting juice for your ride too?"

"No. Our, ride, is being repaired at the moment," Doc pointed to the Ghost next to the garage. Wires was sitting with his back to the wheel watching our conversation from afar.

"You guys travel in that thing? Man that’s brave. Where’s the band sit, in the trailer? You need to get yourselves a cool ride like ours. Used to belong to Loverboy. Got it for a song."

"Power ballad I’m bettin’," Doc said.

"You know it! Beds in the back for the ladies, bitchin’ sound system, TV and Atari fuckin’ computer dudes, one hundred and twenty-eight K of memory. Luxury and comfort from mile one, only way to go."

Doc rolled his eyes. We were both a little envious. How did such a lame ass band with such an idiot for a leader deserve to ride in the lap of opulence? "Where ya headed Benton?"

"Oasis, Dude."

"Cool that club rocks," Doc gave me a sideways glance. The one that I’d seen from him before that said, "Sparky are you nuts?" We’d nearly come out of there one drummer short and here I’m tellin’ Benton that the club rocks. I could almost read Doc’s thoughts, "Sparky! You didn’t get the audition OK. No need to suck his dick!"

"You guys ever been there Malvinni, To The Oasis?"

"Malveen– Yeah a few years back. It’s the last date for us on this tour. Can’t wait to get there. How bout you?"

"Cherry poppin’ dude. First time and we’re gonna rock that joint and tweak those nipples and make ‘em red. That town will be walkin’ bowl-legged for weeks after we rock it."

"What ya down for?"

"Five more gigs guy, then home to the old lady."

"Better lay some heavy pipe in the next few weeks to tie you over huh?"

"You know it dude."

"Hey Benton. There’s this chick that hangs at The Oasis. She’s hot. Does all the bands that play there. She's a tag team player for sure. You should look her up."

"Really what’s her name?"

"I can’t remember. She’s like incognito or somethin’. I think she went by one of those stripper names like . . . oh! What was it Doc? Help me out."

"Sherif’s Daughter?"

"That’s it! Sherif’s Daughter. Doc’s got a better memory than I do. Less fat I guess? Anyway you gotta look for a guy name Bruiser."


"Yeah you’ll recognize him, tall guy with a mullet, a real clumsy gimp. He hangs at The
Oasis. He’s always got a broken nose or cuts on his face and bruises on his eyes. Probably be walkin’ with a limp."

"Bruiser! I get it. Cool dude."

"Tell him you’re a friend of our drummer Space and you want to get down and dirty with the Sherif’s daughter. He’ll understand and set you right up. But talk slowly because Bruiser’s a little retarded. He had some-kind-of disease when he was a kid. Tic-tal-aroo or Diffugus of the hole. Whatever it was, it messed him up."

"Right on! Thanks Melvin."


"Right guy. You know it! We’ll look the limp Gimp up, when we get into town. I know
all the boys are hungry for a little ugh!" He trust his hips outward into an imaginary girl. "You know a little corned beef and ass cabbage!"

"You won’t be disappointed Benton."

"Yeah– hey we’re gassed and ready to gun so . . ." Benton pointed at us with both fingers and made a couple of clicking noises with his tongue. "On the flip side dudes."

"I hope those fingers are the first things broken," Doc whispered out the side of his mouth.

I responded, "You know it guy!"

Doc left me standing by the pumps as he headed into the restaurant. I watched Benton and the boys peel out, with the blaring thunder thud of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, rumbling from within. I watched them roll out of sight. I smiled to myself and walked over to where Wires still sat. His greasy hands held a lit cigarette.

"Friends of yours Sparky?"

"Certainly not after today Wires. Remember the old Klingon proverb that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’? It doesn’t get any colder."

"Hmm," he responded, "Well to see eternity in a seed, one needs vision rather than eyesight. Let’s hope the vision’s not too eye opening for you Sparky."

Tomorrow excerpt from: Blueberry, blueberry


I had intentions of putting up this next link today, way back in May when I got it, but the Mayor posted it in July on his site. However I thought that by this time, enough days have passed and I could probably get away with posting it now. For those of you who haven't seen this footage, check it lulls you into a false sense of security and then it makes you shit was just a little, I swear.

Just click the link in the "Cool shit" post when you get there.

Thanks to Death's door via Mitchieville.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

3 is the magic number

In three days I will begin posting excerpts from my new novel Handmade Heart. In the meantime I am displaying selected parts of my first two novels. The following is the third post from The Limits of Respectability. The first excerpt, if you haven’t yet read it, is here and the second here.

Synopsis: It is the pretentious mid-eighties and a make or break tour for Bitter Romance, a small time rock band trying to find a place in the competitive music industry. We meet bass guitarist John ‘Sparky’ Malveen, the pragmatic, practical joker, more adept at getting himself into trouble, than out of it. Doc Barlow the quick witted comedic know-it-all pianist. Thumper, the diminutive lead-guitarist who pines for his domestic home-life. Wally, a single-minded guy with an appetite for women and food over playing guitar. Bronson the light-man/ martial arts expert and the egotistical drummer, Space the self-proclaimed leader of the group. Then there’s Wires Whitmire, the quiet, chain smoking sound-man who has a way of getting his band out of the trouble that always seems too find them. His only creative outlet, are the caricatures he draws. A picturesque comedy of life on the road in a rock band.

The Space between us

Everyone had temporarily dismissed the heroic deeds of our new light guy and now gasped in horror as we realized our self-proclaimed leader was not among us. Even Wires’ brow furrowed at this realization. I could see it in the rear view mirror.

"Hang on!" Wires yelled as he twisted the wheel hard to the left, spinning the Ghost around in a cloud of dust and spitting gravel.

"Wires, careful. The trailer!" Doc checked the side mirror. The trailer was still following us. A good sign. We peeled back toward Nasty Tree. Despite being armed with Bronson, our martial-arts secret weapon, I felt sick and once again my bowels tightened. It seemed to take us longer to return than it did to leave.

"Wires, you have to step on it. Space is gonna get a little visit. He said . . ."

"– I’ve got it floored Wally. You want to get out and push?"

"We may be too late already. The Sherif might be there waiting for us."

"Let’s get there first Wally and then we’ll deal with whatever," Doc retorted, "Besides we have Billy Jack here," he motioned to Bronson.

"No. I don’t do cops."

"Yeah Doc. I think that would be a bad idea," I stated, "Bronson’s probably in enough shit when the Sherif hears from his brother-in-law Bruiser."

The bar was in sight now, but so was the police car that pulled up and four dark figures
emerged and entered the building. One appeared to be Bruiser, a tall shape who hobbled, favoring his left leg.

"Oh great Bronson. Looks like they have Mr. Revenge with them. Things just got a hell-of-lot worse."

"Shut it Wally. Wires! Go to the side where Spaces’ room is," Doc ordered.

Wires deftly maneuvered the Ghost up the alley next to the club and stopped below the third story window of Spaces’ room. He beeped the horn, three short blasts. Wally hung out the side of the van, and the rest of us pressed our faces to the windshield. Space appeared at the window still in his pink stage clothes and peered out.

We honked again. He opened the window. "I said to come up and tell me when you were ready to leave, not honk below my window. Are you guys fuckin’ deaf?"

"Bronson I don’t suppose you play drums too? Do you?" I inquired.

"No. No cops and no drums."

Wally yelled, "Space you have to get out of your room now and meet us down stairs!"

"What? I don’t have a broom."

" Room!– Room!" Wally turned to us, "He thinks – we’re deaf?" Wally repeated his message again but threw the word Sherif, into the mix. The panic was evident, even looking up
from where we were, as Space quickly vanished inside.

Moments later he reappeared at the window, "I can’t get out! They’re comin’ up the stairs! What do I do? God! What do I do?"

"He’ll have to jump," Wires said calmly as he lit up a smoke.

"He’ll break his legs from that distance Wires. What are you going to do get on you hands and knees and push the pedals for him the rest of the tour? Bronson can’t do it."

"No cops, no drums," Bronson repeated.

"He’ll have to jump onto the roof of the truck."

Wally leaned out again. "Space you have to jump onto the truck!"

"Are you fuckin’ nuts!? I can’t do that. Jesus! There’s a knock! They’re at my fuckin’ door!"

"Space! We’re right below you for God’s sake! Just hang and drop."

"OK! Wally catch me!"

"I ain’t catchin’ nothin’ sept maybe a cold," Wally huffed as he crawled back inside. There was a tremendous thud on the top of the van.

"Shit!" Doc moaned, "That sounds like a dislocated shoulder to be sure."

Wally thrust his body out the side again. We could hear his muffled voice from the Ghost’s exterior, "No that was his luggage."

Space was still above us, screaming, frightened, pink. He slipped a leg out over the ledge and then another as he lowered himself as far as he could. "They’re unlocking my door! Fuck!"

"Let go Space! LET GO!" Wally hollered.

"Jump now!" Wires demanded with authority through a smokey halo.

There was another thud heavier this time. It was Space, as first his legs, then his hands hit the roof and there was a discernable, Ugh, as his stomach made contact with the metal. The roof dented slightly.

"Hang on up there!" Wires shouted as he punched the gas and the truck lurched forward.

"Wires!" Space hollered from above as his palm appeared on the windshield, tightly pressed to the glass, trying to hang on.

Above and behind us, four unhappy vigilantes appeared at the window. They had been out smarted. The Sherif stopping to pick up his angry brother-in-law had cost them precious minutes and had allowed us to rescue our drummer. Bruiser now had a mental ass kicking to go with his physical one Bronson had given him. I wondered how we looked from their view point speeding off with the frosty pink image of Space, his legs splayed, clutching on to the roof of the truck with one hand and his suit case in the other. We left Nasty Tree in our dust and none of us would be coming back.

Tomorrow excerpt from: Corned beef and ass-cabbage

Hurricanes get Greeked

There have been so many tropical storms this year, there are no more letters left in the Alphabet. Thus the Greek Alphabet has been dusted off and put into the game. Better watch out, Hurricane Epsilon is headed your way.

Micheal Jackson is still working on his song for Katrina. Who's going to care when the season's over?

Best movie ever?

According to some British rag, that movie would be Goodfellas. Movies were judged in all areas best story, best acting, best dialogue, best everything really....and Goodfellas was determined to have it all.

Other notables in the top 10.....#3 Jaws, #4 Fightclub, #6 LOTR trilogy, (take that Mayor), #8 The Empire Strikes Back

Paper beats rock

A Canadian has won a major championship. We rule!

As you scratch your head trying to figure out which member of the Chicago White Sox is Canadian, let me say that it wasn't the World Series. It was the International Rock, Paper, Scissors Championship held right here in the Big Smoke.

Congratulations to....what was his name?....doesn't

Michael Jackson will be writing a song to commemorate the triumph.

Ho,ho,ho...he's dead

Len Dresser who did the voice of the Jolly Green Giant died this week. He was pushing 80 so ya can't really complain. Although he did voiceovers for other companys like Kelloggs, he'll be remember for voicing the green behemoth most with his jovial "Ho, ho, ho".

Since these deaths usually happen in threes...better watch out Santa. Also a warning to any one currently involved in prostitution.

Give peas a chance

What?....Oh peace....give peace a chance.....sorry. I blame my years in the produce industry.

Maybe I should have used the title on me previous post?

The original lyrics of John Lennon's famed song, Give Peace a Chance, will be auctioned off next month. It was scrawled across an envelope from the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal. Lennon wrote the song when he and Yoko were staging their famous bed-in there, back in the 70's.

Excuse me, but why an envelope? Shouldn't the Q.E. have some sort of paper pad by the side of the phone, even back then?

In the immortal words of John Lennon:

"Yoko ya stupid twit, yer supposed to use the toilet paper ta wipe! Jesus! Paul was right."

Boyfriend gives her the finger

Tonya Harding was in the news again this week, when she called 911 to report an assault. what she failed to tell Police was, she was the assailant. When they responded to a domestic dispute they found sweet, skanky,Tonya had pushed her boyfriend to the floor and bit his finger in the scuffle.

Michael Jackson is currently working on a tribute song to help the two resolve their differences.


George Takai has come out of the closet with his homosexuality. That's right. There's no, "fuck the green bitch," for Mr. Sulu. He’d rather be at warp factor 9 with a male lover (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

However, my question is what took the guy so long? He’s got to be 70 or so. Must have been the geek testosterone at one too many Trek conventions that finally pushed him over the edge huh?

Anyway, Michael Jackson will be writing a song to support Sulu in his quest for happiness or some kind of penis anyway.

Good luck with all that George, it could be worse. You could be Janet Jackson’s love child.

Twas the nightmare before Christmas

Let me ask you something. Don’t you just hate those fucks who have their christmas decorations up already? I'm not talking about your lazy neighbor who has had them up all year anyway, I'm talking about retailers. We’re not even out of Halloween yet and the carols are starting and the decorations are up.

Makes me want to punch them in the head with that toaster they're sellin'.

With the night of a gazillion demons fast approaching on Monday, a recent study concluded what scares people the most.

Fear of heights was #1. No surprise there. I get freaked out when I put my shoes on. Needless to say the platform 70's were the worst years of my life.

#2 germs/disease. Ok I guess with all this talk about a pandemic and Bird flu, people are a little on the edge. I find the best way to show someone you are pissed off at them these days is just to sneeze in their general direction.

#3 spiders. Hey as long as there's a tissue close by, no problem, but some members of the populace are still in a tizzy over these little arachnids.

#4 needles. Pesonally I don't have a problem with this either. In fact the Doctor can just leave the damn thing dangling there scraping bone for all I care....I just made you squirm didn't I?

#5 flying. I thought this would've ranked higher given the world we now live in, but what do I know.

I was a little disappointed that my #1 fear was not listed....the fear of intimacy, It's right up there with fear of having my dick cut off with a pair of scissors as I sleep, but that's another post.

Friday, October 28, 2005

4 shopping days left

In four days I will begin posting excerpts from my new novel Handmade Heart. In the meantime I am displaying selected parts of my other manuscripts. The following is the second post from The Limits of Respectability. The first excerpt, if you haven’t yet read it, is here.

Synopsis: It is the pretentious mid-eighties and a make or break tour for Bitter Romance, a small time rock band trying to find a place in the competitive music industry. We meet bass guitarist John ‘Sparky’ Malveen, the pragmatic, practical joker, more adept at getting himself into trouble, than out of it. Doc Barlow the quick witted comedic know-it-all pianist. Thumper, the diminutive lead-guitarist who pines for his domestic home-life. Wally, a single-minded guy with an appetite for women and food over playing guitar. Bronson the light-man/ martial arts expert and the egotistical drummer, Space the self-proclaimed leader of the group. Then there’s Wires Whitmire, the quiet, chain smoking sound-man who has a way of getting his band out of the trouble that always seems too find them. His only creative outlet, are the caricatures he draws. A picturesque comedy of life on the road in a rock band.

Tip-toe through the two-twenty

"God damn it, Thumper! Give the 2x4 to Sparky! If this had been real, I could die before you ever swing that thing!"

I grabbed the wood from Thumper, "Shit, Wires, don’t do that! I should hit you with it now for pulling a stunt like that."

"This isn’t play time Sparky. I want you guys to realize that this is serious business and I need you to focus your attention here. I haven’t had to do this for a long time. This was Magic’s job remember? Talk later when the work is done."

We helped Wires set up and test the last of the lights before Thumper and I left Wires behind. As we went upstairs to our rooms, I related the rest of the Space manage est trois story.

"So eventually things cool down. Well . . . enough for Space to get them to leave and continue their ruckus elsewhere. But the Sherif catches wind of the incident from the hotel manager and, as you can imagine Thumper, he is far from pleased that not only his wife, but his
precious little daughter has been defiled by an out-of-town Svengali. One might say he wants to take his gun out and empty his chamber into Spaces’ left nut. In a small town like this one, he’s not exactly worried about repercussions of the law. Bodies can always disappear without a trace."

"So what happened next?"

"There’s a knock at our door at 4:00 A.M. It wakes us all up, me, Doc and Wires. Wires was rooming with Space but got kicked out for the three-way so he ended up with Barlow and me. It’s weird I know, but that’s the only time Wires and I ever roomed together....Huh."

"Sparky! Get on with the story."

"Anyway, it’s the police and they’ve got the little bastard of a hotel manager who used to own this place with them. Doc answers the door. They ask for Space, and Doc tells them, ‘he isn’t here.’ They want to search the room but Doc insists, ‘Look,’ he says, pointing to our disheveled heads peeking above the covers, ‘Me, Wires, Sparky! No Space.’ The Little Bastard concurs what Doc has told them, since he can easily identify the culprit. Doc tells them that Space is staying at the end of the hall which is really Wally and Magic’s room. Satisfied they leave. Wires is on the phone calling Spaces’ room as soon as the door is shut and tells him he better haul his ass out of there before they find him. We can hear them pounding on the door down the hall and Space doesn’t have much time until they discover he isn’t there either. We’ve got eight weeks of touring to do and we kind of need a drummer no matter how much of a dick he is. It’s a little difficult to play drums with busted arms, you know what I mean? Now— This is where things get really strange Thumper."

"You mean more than they are?"

"Yeah if you can believe it? Wally has a little personal amount of pot on him that he purchased after the show that night. He hears the pounding at the door and that it’s the police. He freaks. He thinks it’s because of his pot and starts to climb out the window in just his undies and a T-shirt. Eventually since there is no answer, they have the door opened by the Little Bastard and his master key. All they see is the back of this blonde guy with plumber’s butt as he disappears through the window and drops to the street below. Thankfully it was only from the second floor. They think this is the guy they’re looking for, and race down the hall and out the hotel after him. So with Wally running amuck down the streets of Nasty Tree with nothing but a little cotton between him and the wind, the rest of us get our shit together and head out to the truck. Fortunately we had packed the gear after the show. Just had to toss in the personal stuff. Space is shakin’ more than I’d ever seen him, fearing for his life. Doc Barlow and I are glancin’ around like we’re going to be assailed at any moment by a mob of the town’s people. I don’t know what we expected, maybe all of them to be carrying pitchforks and lit torches like out of a horror movie? But we all made it and got the hell out of Dodge. Wires was the only one who was remotely calm, like it was just another day at the office. He even paused to light a cigarette before he started the ignition. You know Thumper? That’s the image that stays with me the most, Wires lighting up like he’s Clint fuckin’ Eastwood, while the rest of us are scampering about like scared rabbits. Funny huh?"

"What about Wally? What happened to him?"

"Christ Thumper! You make it sound like it was the last time we ever saw him. That we read about his tragic end in some local newspaper of how he was found skinned alive and swinging from an oak tree with his undies down around his ankles. He’s still in the band isn’t he?— Initially we had planned to come back in the morning with an emissary that didn’t include Space to pick him up. What could the police do? He wasn’t the guy they were looking for. Besides he’d left in such a hurry he hadn’t even taken the pot with him to get rid of it. But we were lucky. We managed to pick Wally up on our way out of town. There he was bare feet, ripped T and underwear, standing next to the road side, shivering, with his thumb out. All red faced and wind-blown like he’d just walked out of a Winston cigarette ad. The important thing was we were all accounted for and got out of this town in one piece."

Thumper had listened intently but was now worried. "God! What if someone recognizes us? I have a wife . . . a. . .. a. . . daughter to think about. I can’t take a chance on being lynched."

"Look Thumper I’m worried too, but that was eight months ago. I don’t think the attention span of this town goes beyond two weeks. Shit even the Aqua Velva and rubbing alcohol are kept behind the counter here because of the vast drinking problem. The bar has a new owner, so there’s no one to rat us out, and we are not that band anymore. That’s why we changed the name. They won’t be looking for Bitter Romance and especially won’t be looking for Bitter Romaine."

Tomorrow excerpt from: The Space between us

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Meeting me halfway there

In five days I will begin posting excerpts from my new novel, Handmade Heart. In the meantime I am displaying selected parts of my first two novels. Center of the Universe concluded yesterday and The Limits of Respectability begins today.

previous Limits posts:
The cat box
The cockroach
The agent
The ninja

Synopsis: It is the pretentious mid-eighties and a make or break tour for Bitter Romance, a small time rock band trying to find a place in the competitive music industry. We meet bass guitarist John ‘Sparky’ Malveen, the pragmatic, practical joker, more adept at getting himself into trouble, than out of it. Doc Barlow the quick witted comedic know-it-all pianist. Thumper, the diminutive lead-guitarist who pines for his domestic home-life. Wally, a single-minded guy with an appetite for women and food over playing guitar. Bronson the light-man/ martial arts expert and the egotistical drummer, Space the self-proclaimed leader of the group. Then there’s Wires Whitmire, the quiet, chain smoking sound-man who has a way of getting his band out of the trouble that always seems to find them. His only creative outlet, are the caricatures he draws, a picturesque comedy of life on the road in a rock band.

The Limits of Respectability

There it was suddenly, at the end of the road, Nasty Tree, its one main street, with its one grocery store and coffee shop. Its strip mall with the video, convenience store, laundry and barbershop. Its only public and high schools, its Department store, Bingo hall, and its local Legion all flying old glory. The colonial town hall, the rustic Inn, the police station, the cheesy restaurant, and the beauty salon with its exterior of bubble gum pink.

Behind the hedge of the main street buildings were the gardens of houses. Row upon row of wooden structures decorating the horizontal offshoots of the main drag in various shades of peeling paint and well-worn grays. Houses inhabited by the town’s citizens, merchants, loggers, welfare cases, and the hopeless youth with no future but the bleak horizon disappearing behind the expansive pines.

At the end of the main street, we could now see a crumbling red brick building. It was the stop sign, ceasing our forward motion, a dead end marking the termination of our road, the bar called, The Oasis Hotel. The name was proudly displayed in neon, atop a marquee with two green palm trees on either side of a double door entrance. The building and bar were so far away from being tropical, it made one laugh, even if it was nervous laughter.

The club seemed to be coming at us instead of the other way around. It loomed before our vehicle called the Ghost, as we passed down the main drag. All that we traveled by somehow appeared to close in behind us, as if the buildings were alive, a living entity full of awareness, malice and loathing, cutting off any chance of retreat.

Thumper cried in dismay, "Oh no! Guys, look at the marquee!" The reader board above the club had us listed, This week: Bitter Romaine.

"Is that supposed to be for us or are they warning people about the salad bar?"

"Maybe it’s better that they think it’s about food," I concluded.

We pulled the Ghost around back and parked. Next to our truck, were angled, horizontal, basement doors that led down into the club. They reminded me of the cellar doors that people barely got closed in time before the tornado hit and took their crops, their house and their livelihood.

Wires walked with an incognito Space around to the front of the building to make the bar owner aware of our arrival. After several minutes the doors swung outward and Space appeared. He looked the same as when he’d left us, just like Claude Raines I thought. With dark shades, fedora and scarf pulled tightly around his mouth and neck, he was an invisible man.

"Let’s get the gear in guys. Quickly," he said and then returned to the recesses of the protective darkness deep in the club.

We loaded the equipment in. The bar was just as I remembered it, dark and dank with the smell of stale beer and a stained carpet, a little squishy in places from a spilled pitcher or two. Most of the tables were round and surrounded with cheap uncomfortable chairs, of which some were ripped and repaired with duct tape. I used to pass by places like this with my grandfather when I was young, never seeing the inside. But it looked now much as it had smelled and
sounded then. The warm alcohol odor, the chatting voices of despair and the occasional smack of billiard balls.

Space was talking to the new owner conveying the error in the spelling on the marquee. The man apologized and agreed he would have it taken care of. It appeared that the kid who put up the letters didn’t understand English having just moved here from the Middle East. probably fast-tracked through immigration if he agreed to live in this remote locale.

We set up the rest of the gear and even had a decent sound check. As per Spaces’ instructions the lights had been diverted from the drums to other places on the stage and his cymbals had been set up in such a way that they created a small fortress of brass around the kit. Even when the lights were eventually hooked up, it would be hard to determine if there was anyone back there.

Wires called me over to a small cul-de-sac next to the stage and handed me a 2x4.

"What’s this for?"

"I have to hook up the 220 feed for the lights. If I make a mistake and it looks like I’m frying I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

"Why don’t you get Wally to help you? He used to be an electrician."

"I don’t know where he is. He went off to eat."

"Wires, I agreed to help you with lights but there’s no fuckin’ way I’m smacking you with a hunk of wood."

"Sparky it’s 220 volts of electric current. I won’t be tiptoeing . . ."

I cut in, " — ‘Tiptoe through the two-twenty’– Good name for an album. Remind me to write that down."

"... besides I don’t want you to smash me in the melon. Just a good hard shot in the abs to get me away from the electrical feed."

I had damn near been electrocuted once on stage. There had been a bad ground on the
plug for my amp and I had been shocked when I grabbed the microphone stand. I certainly
understood Wires’ paranoia on the subject. I had been unable to let go of the stand and my wrist had been welded across my bass strings. All I could do was stand there and feel the surge of electricity coursing through my arms and across my shoulders in a tingling paralysis as I weekly whispered for help with widened eyes until someone pulled the plug.

I called for Thumper. When he arrived, I handed him the board as Wires began to hook up the 220. "Here. You’re the new guy. Wires looks like he’s being electrocuted hit him with this."

Thumper looked at the plank, "OK . . . Sparky. Hey, you guys played here last tour right?"


"Well, how come no one has said anything about that gig. You're all quick to add your two cents about other places you played, women to watch out for, places to eat, but no one’s said word one about this town."

"What do you want to know Thumper? That we had a bad experience when we were here last time. That this gig is the reason we changed the name of the band to Bitter Romance? That the rationale behind the band rule that, no one goes anywhere alone when we leave the hotel, is because of this gig?"

"Wha’ happened?"

Wires had stopped to grab a wrench and light a smoke as I spoke. "Space. Somehow it always begins and ends with him. He was screwin’ around with two chicks last time we were here. One was an older woman, attractive for here age, fairly adventurous, nice bod, huge . . ." I brought my hands up and cupped them, ". . . Space’s type, you know. . . But the younger chick was an absolute knockout, wavy, golden blonde hair, beautiful smile, a really sweet girl, yet with a nasty, kinky side to her or so we heard . . ."

"Right through the walls," Wires added as he popped his cigarette back into his mouth and resumed hooking up the light feed.

"....anyway . . . Space alternated them for the first part of the week. Monday . . . older. Tuesday . . . younger. Saturday they both show up to the gig. They’re in different areas of the club but they both have designs on seeing him after the show. Now! Most guys would choose one and lie to the other. Not Space. With his ego, he tells me he’s just going to invite the two of them up to his room and suggest a little three-way action."

"No way?"

"Yup! Every living breathing male’s desire, When I get tired, I can watch."

"Better watch Thumper, Sparky. He’s got wood."

"...So after the gig Space goes up to his room. He’s spraying cologne on. He’s got candles burning, soft music, the bed turned down, wearing nothing but his boxers and waiting for the knock. The young one arrives first. Space tells her the plan. She’s all for it. ‘Bring it on,’ she says. In fact, they start to get into it a little before the older chick gets there. When the older one finally arrives and knocks on the door, Space just tells her to come on in. She opens the door and starts screamin’ and yellin’ at Space and the younger chick. So the younger chick starts yellin’ and screamin’ right back. She jumps out of bed in nothing more than what she came into this
world with and the two start pushing each other. Space is sittin there gap jawed, he can’t believe this is all going down and getting out of control."

"I guess the older one wasn’t too keen on the idea of having a three-way?"

"No. Especially when it’s a three-way with your own daughter."

Thumper almost dropped the 2x4, "No fuckin’ way?"

"Focus! Focus!" Wires scolded. Thumper raised the hunk of wood while listening to me further.

"Oh yeah. But that’s not the best part Thumper. Not only is she the mother of the girl who had shared her lover all week, she’s the wife of this town’s sheriff."

Wires let out a terrible screech, "AHHHHHH!!!!" His hands knotted into clenched fists
grabbing the light cable that jutted from the power box. His face twisted, his body convulsing.

Thumper began to freak out, "WHAT DO I DO?! WHAT DO I DO?!"

Tomorrow excerpt from: Tip-toe through the two-twenty

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Today is the last excerpt from Center of the Universe, in my countdown to snippets from my newest manuscript, Handmade Heart. Previous excerpts for Center are here, #1 #2 #3 here and #4.

Synopsis: Johnny Malveen is an average guy working for a small produce market in a strip plaza in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. Chapter one introduces us to his environment, the plaza, the characters, the humorous situations and Ultimate Produce his place of employment for the past seventeen years. We learn of a feud between Malveen’s boss Jacob Simon and the convenience store owner Gumonshoe. The revolving door of owners at the Kosher Grocery two doors down, with the imminent return of the notorious con-man Uzi Blaustein, as the new owner. We are also privy to the notion that something catastrophic will happen at the days conclusion.

We are introduced to Johnny’s co-workers, The Greek Hulk George Kostopoulos. The newly hired, child-like, Davy Goodman. The chronic masturbator Ellis Adler, and the psychopathic, highly volatile, foul-mouthed, Bubba Burlock, and how Johnny deals with it all, with his own unique droll vision from the center.

Excerpt from: End of days

Herschel’s strip club, is called Diamond Lust. It isn’t considered one of the most prestigious clubs in the city. It’s more of a hole actually. There is a central stage with two poles, surrounded by wagon train of chairs, we affectionately refer to as depravity row. The club is poorly lit at the best of times, with rope lights and black lights and the occasional blinking strobe. There are various tables outside the stage’s circumference and we sit in the protected cul-de-sac of pervert’s cubbyhole, a table that is unobtrusive but close enough to the action to get an eye-full.
Bubba and Ellis made this place their second home. In fact, once the two had spent all their entire pay on lap dances. Ellis, afraid to confess to his mother that he had blown all his money on strippers, had to fake a mugging. He had walked around for a week with a vicious black eye from the fist of Bubba Burlock in order to give his story validity. His mother believed him and the eye eventually healed.

We ordered a round of beer and shots.

Looking down and shaking my head slowly from side to side, I said, “God---did you ever fuck up tonight Bubba,”

“Yeah but Jacob hired him,” Ellis defended. “So ultimately isn’t it Jacobs fault for what happened?”

Bubba gave no response to either of us. He just looked blank. It was as if he had withdrawn into his own little world. He was probably shell shocked from Jacob’s reading of the riot act. His gaze hardened as he lay in that festering wound of his subconscious and Ellis and I decided to let him be.

Herschel saw us and came over to extend a hand of hello. He constantly complained about his business and the strip club destroying his life and finances, sucking the money from his other business, a small produce store like Jacob's. “Hey guys.” He spoke in his usual raspy tone. “Glad you could make it. ---Off work huh?”

“Yeah Herschel. How’s business?” Ellis said with a sly smirk. He just couldn’t resist.

“Bad. Really bad. Nobody spends money. They just sit there for hours nursing one beer. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should?. . .” and we clued him out until he was finished bitching.

The DJ announced, “Gentlemen put your hands together for Sunshine. Now we had something to focus our attention on.

“....and the hooter shooter girl told me to stick it up my ass just before she walked out. Hey you guys want me to get Wang to whip up some chicken wings?”

“Shit Herschel! You’ve got Wang working here now?” I inquired.

Wang was one of Herschel’s long time employees. He practically ran the store since Herschel was there only to bring the product in from the market. I didn’t know what bugged me more. The fact that Herschel had Wang working here, or the fact that a guy named Wang was doing the chicken wings.

“Yeah that bastard cook was ripping me off. You know he tried to . . .,” and we faded Herschel out again.

Ellis was playing with the wet circle where his beer had been as he gazed at the dancer on stage. Bubba was just looking down into his brew, like it was a magic 8-ball, and would give him some sign as to what he should do next. “Magic 8-ball will I find another job?”
Prospects look highly unlikely.
“Magic 8-ball do I have a future where I am now?”
The future seems cloudy ask again later.
“Magic 8-ball will you shatter into a million pieces when I through you against the fuckin’ wall?”
I still had my mind on Wang. Next thing you know Herschel would have him up on the stage. Wang with his coke bottle glasses sliding down his nose, and a G-string barely concealing his package. Sliding around that pole. Shaking his booty to Shania Twain’s, Man I Feel Like a Woman.

Herschel's voice began to invade our stupor once again, “.....and I’m sure he urinated in the deep fryer. That filthy bastard!” (Herschel said ‘bastard’ frequently.)

“You don’t say?” I put in, like I’d been listening all along, “Hey that’s swell, Herschel. Good luck with all that . . . stuff there.”

“Enjoy guys,” Herschel said and got up to leave.

“No thanks,” Ellis added as the offer for Wang’s chicken wings finally registered.

“What did he say about enjoying guys?” Bubba questioned, as he looked up from his beer. “Fuckin’ fag ass!”

The DJ spoke again, “Oh Yeah Gentlemen, Sunshine’s got two more for you and then she’ll be down table-side for a little private one on one action . . . Candi to the DJ booth, Candi to the DJ booth.”

“I’ve had an epiphany guys,” Bubba said.

“Well go the washroom and clean it up,” Ellis kidded playfully. “I don’t want to smell it here.”

Bubba just looked at Ellis with a gaze that said, Fuck You!

I didn’t think Bubba could even say epiphany, let alone use it in a sentence. “I’m gonna do it guys. I swear to God I’m gonna fuck that mother fucker up good,” Bubba warned.

“Oooo careful with the double entendres,” Ellis mused, “We might get the wrong impression.”

“I’m fuckin’ serious, you fuck!” Bubba, gritted his teeth. The color was now back in his face and a deep anger was percolating.

“Can’t you stop saying, fuck all the time? I feel like I’m in a Scorcese film” I felt that, any minute, Joe Pesci was going to come out of the kitchen a plate of Wang’s steaming chicken wings in one hand and a baseball bat in the other, charging at us to beat us all to a bloody pulp. “Who ordered the suicide wings mutha fucka,” he’d scream over and over amid the carnage of busted skulls.

As I day dreamed Bubba went on. “It would be real easy. I could get him late at night after the store is closed and he’s leaving with all that money in his pocket. One shot into his brain pan and it would be all over. Or I could use a knife. Nice and quiet. Cut his throat without a sound . . .”

I was still with Joe Pesci dancing in my thoughts. Ellis’ attention was also focused elsewhere as he smiled coyly at Sunshine swinging around the pole as she backed up.

“...Fuck no one would even suspect me with all the enemies he has. That fuckin’ avocado eatin’ weirdo with the lazy eye for one.”

“Sully Goldstein? You’re not serious. No one would believe he’d do it Bubba. What’s his motive? ---the avocado’s too ripe--- Christ sake Bubba, he can’t even dress himself properly. Come on, I can’t believe I’m even discussing this with you.”

I could understand Bubba’s frustration I really could, but I didn’t agree with his
method of handling it. We had all fantasized about offing our boss, usually after he had done a triple gainer with a half twist off the deep end because someone had put up a bruised apple on display, but we would never do it. We all just fantasized about it in the same way you, as a child, you prayed for God to kill your parents after you felt you’d been unjustly punished. My dilemma was, should I take him seriously and say something?

The girl on stage removed her thong and tossed it to Ellis. The booze was beginning to take effect with the drugs he’d ingested on the way over and he began deeply inhaling the panties. With a silly grin on his face he began feeling around his pants for an errant $20 he could use for a more private viewing.

“Anyone’s capable of killing another human being if he’s pushed far enough . . . even you!” Bubba spat, “You take it up the butt for years and years and finally you snap and it’s always over something simple. But you snap none the less. Then you make them pay. He pushed me too far tonight Malveen. He humiliated me without any thought to my condition. You have no idea what I went through after Jacobs phone call. I’m absolutely sick. Sick physically and sick of everything that makes me that way and it’s time that I eliminated those things.”

Now I was really worried. This was the longest series of thoughts I’d ever heard Bubba construct without the use of colorful metaphors.

Tomorrow: The Limits of Respectability

I like dem odds

14,000,000 to 1? Where do I sign up?

I realize that I've got a better chance of being hit by lightning....twice....than winning tonights $40,000,000 jackpot in Canada's richest lottery ever. But for $2 a 649. It's worth it, to dream for a couple of hours, what I'd do with the money.

Hey I better win something, or the hookers and blow that I want to get for the Mayor's birthday this weekend comes off the list.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

on the 7th day he posted

Today is the fourth excerpt from Center of the Universe. Previous excerpt #1 is here and #2 here and #3 here.

Synopsis: Johnny Malveen is an average guy working for a small produce market in a strip plaza in a predominately Jewish neighborhood with his co-workers George, Ellis, Bubba and Davy. We find out about the endless parade of demanding customers, the dark comedic element of deliveries gone wrong, the sometimes confusing and obscure routines of the Orthodox community, and how Johnny deals with it all, with his own unique droll vision from the center.

Excerpt from: The events of last night

Thursday night was George's first time in charge. We thought we should do something to make his evening in the high command less labor intensive but memorable. He was doing a fine job. Greeting customers at the front door with a friendly hello as they walked in. The night was going smooth, perhaps a little too smooth.

"George," I said pulling him aside.
"Ah come on," George protested, noting I had been bugging him with trivial things all night. "What is it?"

"It’s Sully. He went down to use the washroom two hours ago and hasn’t come up yet."

"Are you sure? Maybe he’s trapped. You know that door handle."

"No I checked. The door is closed, but he wasn’t trying to get out. In fact there was no sound coming from inside at all."

"Did you try talking to him through the door?"

"Yes . . . no answer."

"Are you sure he’s still in there?"

"Yes I can see his shadow on the otherside from the floor."

George rubbed his face with his hands, "Why me? Why now on my first night in charge?"

George paused a moment to think, "Ok, get Ellis and meet me in the basement. Bubba can take over the cash til we get back. Just call Davy from the back if you need help."

Bubba gave a mock salute, "Yes sir!" he said, and then mumbled something inaudible.

Ellis and I met George downstairs at the washroom door. The light was on and shining under the gap. George knocked, "Sully, are you all right in there?" No answer. He knocked again, "Sully, do you need any assistance?" George cringed when he realized how awkward that statement had sounded. "How long has he been in there?"

"Two plus hours, at least" I said.

"This is not good." George continued to knock. "Sully are you OK?"

Ellis mused, "Shit, what if he’s dead in there? Sitting on a big pile of shiese."

"What the hell is shiese Ellis? Is that like shit?"

He pointed at me. "Precisely."

"Then just say 'shit' for Christ sake."

"This is not happening. This is not happening." George rocked slightly back and forth and repeated this mantra, while Ellis and I continued to joust at each other.

"Well I can’t say he’s sitting shiva for the last time can I?"

"I think in this case Ellis, you probably can."

"This is not happening. This--is--not---happening."

"I just don’t understand---," I continued. "---why, Ellis? Why can’t you talk like normal people? Just say defecated, or body expulsion, ---or--- or--- or firing a lower colon cruise missile. Christ! I would even accept sphincter vomiting. I can decipher all these. But shiese? You’ve been hanging with Bubba too long and now you’re getting Swedish on my ass."

"Actually I think I saw it on a German web-site."

"Can you guys stop?! You’re making me nauseous," George interrupted. He began to fidget nervously as the scenarios of dead customers on his watch danced through his consciousness. "Ok..." George grunted and got down on all fours to peer under the door.

"What do you see?"

"Can you smell moth balls?" Ellis needled.

George started to put his nose to the gap and then stopped and shot Ellis an angry glance. He lowered his head and peered under the door. "Well . . . he’s in there all right. I can see his shoes and his pants down around them."

"Ah fuck," Ellis gasped. "There’s a dead old guy, in mid ‘shit’---," he quoted the air as he looked at me. "--- on the can, on the first night Jacob leaves you to run the store George. It sucks to be you."

"This is not funny," George warned, and stopped for a moment to gather his courage. It seemed he stood there for hours pondering his options when in actuality it was only a few minutes. "So I guess we have to go in," George said triumphantly.

"We," Ellis and I said together. "Forget the, ‘we,’ George, you’re the boss here," I reminded him.

"Aw come on!"

"Who knows what we’re going to find when we open that door," I said.

"Or what Jacob’s going to say when he finds out one of his customers was so loyal he decided to die here," Ellis snickered.

George shot him another angry glance, "I’m warning you."

I slapped George on the back. "Someone has to open that door."

"Ok . . . Ellis, open the door!" George commanded.

"No way! I don’t even go in the washroom after Bubba, and this is just slightly worse."

"Awwwooue! I’m . . . in . . . charge!" George jiggled his body in a fake temper tantrum but I could see he really wanted someone else to do the deed. We all stood there looking at each other with no one anxious to grab the nob and expose the potentially lifeless corpse of former customer Sully Goldstein in whatever fashion contraption, in the early stages of decomposition and rigger mortis soon to follow.

"All right," I said, "I’ll do it! But you have to look in first George."

George nodded his agreement, although he probably didn’t like this option any better than performing the task himself.

"Sully," I said, tapping lightly on the door, "We’re coming in to help you." There was no answer. I looked at Ellis and George, "Are you guys ready?"

"No," George gulped. "But do we have any other option? Let’s do it."

George positioned himself in front of the door in a half-crouched stance like he was going to break through that offence and just cream the quarterback. Ellis and I pasted ourselves like wall paper to either side of the bathroom door. We must have looked as if we were about to bust in on a ring of drug dealers in a undercover Police raid.

Ellis giggled, "Christ George! You better hope you don’t have to give him the Hiemlich."

"I don’t believe you guys. This is fuckin’ serious and you are making jokes." We both apologized amid suppressed snickers. "Let’s just do this OK---on 3," George instructed, "1— 2------- 3"

I reached over and slowly turned the handle with the delicacy of someone trying to defuse a bomb. The latch popped with a little click and the door began to slowly creek open. The sliver of light along the crack of the door began to grow and illuminate George's horrified expression.

"You guys are such Assholes!" he screamed, as we burst into laughter.
There at the foot of the toilet were empty trousers hugging a pair of footless shoes. The lifeless corpse of Sully Goldstein was nowhere to be seen.

Tomorrow exceprt from: End of days

Monday, October 24, 2005

Then there was 8

Today is the third except from Center of the Universe. Yesterday's excerpt can be found here, and the 1st here

Synopsis: Johnny Malveen is an average guy working for a small produce market in a strip plaza in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. We find out about the endless parade of idiosyncratic past workers. The anal retentive demanding customers. The dark comedic element of deliveries gone wrong. The sometimes confusing and obscure routines of the Orthodox community. And how Johnny deals with it all, with his own unique droll vision from the center.

Excerpt from: Na,na, Hey Judaism

My first real encounter with Judaism, was when I moved to the big city to follow my aspirations in music. I rented a basement apartment from a couple, Simon and Susie Sidlebaulmn. It was a modest one bedroom basement apartment, with a small living room, kitchen and bathroom.
I was on the road with my band Bitter Romance much of the time and not privy to the daily workings of the religion. I would only get scraps of horror stories over the phone from my then live-in girlfriend Lorraine.

"Oh my God. They are chanting in the family room and they have these little black boxes on their arms, and foreheads."

"Like an airplane black box?" I inquired.

"I don’t know," she said. Her voice was shaking, "It’s scaring me."

"No shit," I’d reply just as confounded, and wondering what she wanted me to do when I was a thousand miles from home. "Maybe they’re part of some demonic cult looking for a human sacrifice," I offered, making Lorraine burst into tears.

Of course, the boxes she spoke of are tefillin a leather pouch, which contain the scrolls of Torah passages and is bound to the hands and between the eyes for prayer.

A week later during my call home Lorraine was at it again. "She brought some sort of liquid down for me to eat. I think she’s trying to poison me?" Her terrified voice cracking over the phone.

Rather interested in this new development, I said, "What does it look like?"

"It has big blobs of some-sort-of dough . . . I think?" I could almost see her poking it with a stick from a distance.

"Is it ticking?"

"I don’t think so."

"Eat it, or call in the bomb squad," I said, becoming a little annoyed at these
constant intrusions. After all I had problems of my own. Like starving while our drummer embezzled money and ate in the finest restaurants and I shared peanut butter and mustard macaroni soup with two other band members.

Of course, what she was looking at, was matzah ball soup, although I didn’t know if she had, floaters and sinkers.

On our next conversation. "Oh my God. They’re building a large wooden structure out back. What should I do?"

Many thoughts went through my head. Was it an extension to the house? Was it a shed of some kind, to keep and butcher small animals? Eventually mind boggled, I said, "Does it look like it can float?"

She hesitated, obviously lifting the corner of a curtain to give it a further inspection. "I...I...I’m not sure."

"If they start collecting two of every animal, get the hell out of the basement!"

This of course was a Sukkah, built annually during the Holiday of Sukkot, a festive, Thanksgiving, Christmasy holiday. In later years, I would see these structures everywhere as summer gave way to the onslaught of Fall.

"Johnny this is the worst yet," an upset Lorraine whimpered over the phone.

I sighed, "What’s wrong now?"

"They’re doing something . . . something big."

"What, what!" Was it some sort of assassination attempt? Were they printing counterfeit $100's? My mind raced.

"I don’t know," she sobbed.

"Tell me what you see Lorraine."

"They are scrubbing and cleaning and wrapping everything in tinfoil. Is that normal?" She related this to me in hushed tones, as if she were in danger of being discovered that she knew too much. Lorraine was the epitome of the nosy neighbor. "They’re also burning things in the back yard like they’re getting rid of evidence. They’re cooking something too----I haven’t seen the mailman for a while---you don’t suppose---I’m scarred John."

After a long pause, I said, "I think, this has something to do with Passover if I’m not mistaken."


"It’s a dinner to commemorate the ahhh----Angel of Death or something."

"The Angel of Death is coming---here---to the house," Lorraine began to cry

(Did I mention Lorraine wasn’t very bright?)
"Do you know Charlton Heston?"

"Charlton Heston’s coming to dinner," she sobbed harder.

"The Ten Commandments! The Ten Commandments! Just watch the damn movie! It’s all in there! Mosses, locusts, death, Passover, GOODBYE!" I yelled and slammed the phone down.

Tomorrow excerpt from: The events of last night

Sunday, October 23, 2005

9 days

Today is the second except from Center of the Universe. Yesterday's excerpt can be found here.

Brief synopsis: What ends would you go to after seventeen years in the same dead-end job? Would you commit murder? Someone is trying to kill Jacob Simon and it could be anyone.

Johnny Malveen is an average guy working for a small produce market in a strip plaza in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. We are introduced to Jacob Simon the obsessive compulsive who seems to rub everyone the wrong way. And how Johnny deals with it all, with his own unique droll vision from the center.

Except from: Jacob's ladder

Jacob Simon. Owner, proprietor, businessman, husband,--- and master of mood swings. The man with two first names. Just don’t call him Jake.

Jake just sounded seedy. Jake sounded like a man with a gold tooth emanating from his salacious smile beneath a pencil thin moustache on his upper lip. Jake sounded like a man with no fashion sense, someone Sully would be proud of, a man dressed in a checkerboard sport coat, pink shirt and baby-blue tie, trying to sell you a lemon off the used car lot.

By contrast, Jacob sounded much better. It had more power, more prestige. It was a trustworthy name. It commanded control. Jacob was the name of a man who understood his customers, but catered to their needs in an effort to sell them that lemon from the reduced fruit display.

You really had to know his ways to understand the man. Then, and only then, could you accept, that’s just the way he is. Set in his ways. Unable or just unwilling to change. The steadfast breakwater pushing back the relentless sea if-you-will. However, the process to this realization, was long and agonizingly painful. Very few employees had made the pilgrimage.

You see---Jacob has a gift, a talent, an intangible quality, of rubbing people the wrong way, or perhaps shoving them the wrong way, would be more appropriate.

There are days, like everyone else, where I find it frustrating and maddening. There are days when the tension is so thick, you can cut it into pie wedges and serve it up to unsuspecting patrons and the timid punch-clockers. Then there are days when tongue lashings and criticism are so severe even the customers wince. Yeah----Jacob. It’s a strange statement to make about one of Jewish faith, but the man would have made a good Nazi. Sometimes he would treat you like one of the family and then turn around and make you feel like the redheaded stepchild who’d just farted in church.

I think the problem is, when Dr. Jekyll is slipping into Mr. Hyde’s skin, it’s because he feels the best way to gain respect is through intimidation. No use telling Jacob that respect is
earned, not given. Not beat into someone while they cower against the ring post in rope-a-dope fashion. He won’t listen. As I have said--- the man is a rock.

I am used to intimidation. When I was younger, working for the grocery chain as a part-timer, I had hid from one of the assistant managers. We affectionately referred to him as, The Boss Man With No Eyes. He looked like the guy, of the same name, from that old Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke. He even wore the mirrored shades. The only thing missing, in fact, was the sound of rattling shackles from our chain-gang of bag boys and the high piercing words of Struther Martin— "What we have here is failure to communicate."

The Boss Man With No Eyes, could reduce a part-timer to tears, with his stone-like expression, and the gentle down curve of his lip into a snarl to show displeasure. The terrified frozen gaze of his victims captured in the reflection of his Medusa mirrored sunglasses.
"Fillin’ the cereals up here Boss."
"Go ahead boy."
"Baggin groceries over here Boss."
"Hurry it up boy."
"Carrying out for Mrs. Putz Boss."
"Don’t you get rabbit in your blood and try to run boy."

The Boss Man With No Eyes was an expert in catching people in all forms of malaise and wrongful actions, from tomfoolery, to shop lifting, to just plain goofing off. He’d materialize suddenly in his bright red assistant manager’s jacket. You’d catch him out the corner of your eye, observing whatever misdeed you were currently active in.

Once, a fellow employee, had accidentally shut the washroom light off on him, when he had been on the toilet doing his business. I saw the blur of my unfortunate co-worker, aghast at his mistake, as he scurried past the lunch room with saucer-like eyes, panting while he ran in a horrified panic. He was followed by the blur of The Boss Man With No Eyes, his belt buckle still undone and clinking against his zipper. His cherry red jacket was like the flashing beacon of a police cruiser in hot pursuit. I thought, my poor fellow grocery clerk was going to end up in intensive care that day, when The Boss Man got his hands on him. Instead a three-day suspension from work was handed out as punishment. The employee needed at least that amount of time to get the pee stain out of his pants and had created a comparable puddle among the rows of feminine hygiene products.
"Cleanin’ up in aisle seven Boss."
"Go ahead boy."

If nothing else, that job taught me how to handle a constant barrage of criticism and intimidation, like a tennis pro firing volley after volley at my head from just beyond the net. Jacob, reminds me of The Boss Man. The intensity of his intimidation however, can be ten fold and much harder to adapt to. Eventually no matter how much you may be prepared, Jacob’s ebbing flow of criticism, (or what I like to call specific suggestions of perfectionism),will eventually break through your levee.

My thoughts turned to all the employees who had passed through our doors. Names and faces now faded and hardly distinguishable. It seemed like thousands. Legions upon legions of morons and malingerers. Buried deep under a mountain of old pay-slips. Resting in peace in a new vocation on the outer rim of our little galaxy, asteroids floating aimlessly, hunks of rock in various orbits occasionally colliding with other objects to obliterating ends.

There are, however, a few employees that escaped the verbal abuse and critiques. Employees that Jacob took a liking to and who could do no wrong. Giving them a job was his way of doing a mitzvah or good deed he’d tell people. I knew what I had to do to place myself in this category amidst the most revered, but I had to draw the line at the breast implants.

Then there were past employees like Bubba who must feel that their time at Ultimate Produce was like being a P.O.W. except you got a paycheck at the end of the week. Over time, some were released on their own recognizance. Some received a stay of execution with a last minute call from the Governor and some, I’m sure, just tunneled out. For those who couldn’t cut it and eventually left, it was like a scene from a trauma center. Can you show me using this doll how Jacob treated you?

I had lost count of how many must check the obituaries daily in hopes of seeing his name there and I was certain that I even worked with a few of them still.

tomorrow: Na,na, Judaism

Halloween costume ideas

It's coming boys and girls. I hope you're ready. If not, here are some last minute ideas for you to consider. Of course the above pic is not one of them. That costume obviously took time to construct and time is not exactly on our side at this point. Besides do you look like Matthew Broderick?....Well do ya punk!

I suggest perhaps choosing from the costumes below, most of which were sent to me courtesy of Babosa who lives on the otherside of Mitchieville.

There's someone in here

Now this is great. I went as this one year. The only problem?.....wait for it!....Everyone keeps shitting all over you. womb at the Inn?

Women always complain, men spend too much time trying to get back into the womb anyway. I think this is a great costume but deffinitely a team effort. If you are a loner then this costume is not for you and you should probably consider the previous one.

Hey Spider Guy your fly's open

Personally, I liked the last Spiderman better, but who am I to judge? Really, this is a great costume, mainly because you don't need one. Just a little paint from Uncle Jeb's shed will do apparently. As long as he only shoots web from his wrists, I don't have a problem with it. but I'll keep my distance all the same.

Wonder no more

How about Wonder Woman? Fighter of evil, upholder of justice, protector of Krispy Kremes.

Camel toe anyone?

If you find yourself rushing around at the last minute, I find the Camel-toed Fat Elvis costume is always a good standby and a real crowd pleaser. Now, for God sake, someone please let the small child out of that man's belly!!!

Retired Hooters

Actually I think it's meant to be the Spice Girls. The one on the far right is Baby Spice. Boy they didn't hold up well....yeah the breasts too.

Feeling sheepish?

Just another Halloween at the Corral. I don't think he's going to find anything better there anyway.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

10 days and counting

I know it’s not the beginning of the month but there is a method to the madness. Having finished my third novel I am ready to post excepts of it for you my fellow bloggers starting Nov 1.

I have always tried to Blog with the same tongue in cheek approach...well tongue in ass is probably more like it, that I use when writing my manuscripts. I feel that those of you who understand my dark, sometimes bizarre and twisted sense of humor might like to read some it.

But what does this have to do with Oct 22nd and the price of fish you say?

Leading up to the 1st I will be posting excepts from the first two books for your review for two reasons. One, so you can witness the emergence of style from when there was none, and two so hopefully you can laugh a little, at what you read.

Synopsis #1

Johnny Malveen is an average guy working for a small produce company in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. We are introduced to his co-workers, the Greek Hulk George Kostopoulos, the newly hired, child-like, Davy Goodman, the chronic masturbator Ellis Adler and the psychopathic, highly volatile, foul-mouthed, Bubba Burlock.

Previous excerpt posts and web page post 1 post 2 post 3 post 4 webpage

Excerpt from "Goys R Us"

The current crew of five employees consists of yours truly, George Kostopoulos, Bubba Burlock, Ellis Adler, and Davy Goodman. Ellis and Davy are the part-timers, but because it’s a busy time of year, the cusp of another Rosh Hashanah, (the Jewish New Year), their status has been elevated to a full-time position.

We have all been at Ultimate Produce long enough to understand what it takes to work here, physically and mentally, all except for Davy that is. Davy was hired two weeks ago, to replace the abruptly fired Little Pete, so he hasn’t had much time to acclimatize himself to the surroundings, but that aside, he doesn’t have an adequate grasp on things. Let’s just say his mental capacity, (if indeed it does exist), is a little weak. Think part Rainman, part Forrest Gump and you have Davy. What mad scientist was responsible for incorporating these two entities into his large framed body, I don’t know? I just know that somewhere in the creation of making Davy into a Goliath, Dr. Frankenstein had neglected to include a necessary brain in his monstrosity.

Another example of the various defects infecting Davy like a virus, is his voice. It has a warble in it when he speaks. It’s almost a gargling sound, actually. It surrounds each and every sentence, like he is constantly trying to repel morning breath with a swig of mouth wash.

He calls everyone by their correct name except George. On his first day here he had seen a pair of George’s work gloves, in the back room, that had George’s written on them. Davy, believing that was his name, began calling him Georges. The rest of us amused and trying desperately to stifle our laughs, never corrected him. Davy the harmless victim of a harmless oversight. That pretty much sums up his entire being as I see it.

I feel however, inside Davy there is a sleeping giant, dormant now, but unpredictable, insubordinate, with no prognostication as to what would happen if he ever awoke. None of us, accept maybe Bubba, seem too eager to set the alarm clock.

Ellis Adler is a naive boy going through a tough time in his late teens when everything revolves around sex. Asking about sex, thinking about sex, dreaming about sex. I won’t say he’s a chronic masturbator, but he sure spends a lot of time in the washroom during his shifts. --and then there are the questions. "Dude, what’s it feel like? Dude, is it true what they say about Oriental women? Dude, can I go blind if I do it too much?"

Ellis is an unusual name for anyone, even more so for a Jewish boy. Of course there is a story as to how Ellis got his name. He was named after his grandfather, Moshe Adler who immigrated to the States with his wife before the second world war. At that time immigration officials had a hard job understanding the refugees coming into the country, assigning names to them when they could not decipher the accents of broken English and foreign mother tongues. Moshe fell into this category and let his wife, who had a better command of the English language, do the talking.

Overwhelmed by her new surroundings and gazing about in excitement and awe, she could barely answer the questions she was asked.



"Your NAME?"

"Shoshuna Adler," She proclaimed still looking about with a gaping mouth of joy and wonder. She then touched her husband lovingly on the shoulder and said in her European whine, "So this is Ellis . . ," but before she could finish her statement . . . "Island." The immigration officer interrupted, "Shoshuna and Ellis Adler. Proceed to the next desk."

Proceed they did for years, with Moshe going to his grave believing that, Ellis was an ethnic slur that these crazy North Americans used to describe new immigrants.

"Hello Ellis." "What country are you from Ellis?" "Nice day today huh----Ellis?"

He would just grumble and mutter one of the few words he ever learned, "Bastards!"

"That Ellis isn’t a very friendly guy."

George Kostopoulos is a big guy, a more apt description would be built like a brick shit-house. Yet for his size, like Davy, he is timid and doesn't know his own strength. Once, he tried to help Sol Goldstein, a customer we all call Sully. Sully doesn’t see very well, having only one eye. The other is a glass one. He lost it sometime ago probably just after somebody said, It’s all fun and games until someone losses an eye. He also dresses like he has poor vision. How else would you explain the tight fitting bright cobalt-blue and mustard-yellow blazers that he wears over the bulging tartan pants, ripped at the crotch?

He is an older gentleman who is short and pudgy, smells of mothballs and reminds me of a garden gnome. He has a low sandpaper rumbling voice, and a pushy disposition. Always in a terrible hurry when he’s in, but likes to sample food before he purchases it, usually sticking to his favorite — avocados, which he devours on the premises.

One day Sully exclaimed in his distinct whispery rasp, as if requesting food from a short-order cook, "Avocado for here." "Go ahead," George said. He quickly stepped into the back room and began peeling his bumpy fruit over one of the sinks. In an effort to quickly ingest the light green flesh, he accidentally inhaled the pit and it became lodged in his throat.

Seeing that Sully was in obvious distress, choking and gagging as his face began to match the shade of his tight fitting electric blue blazer, George had quickly run to the back. He put his arms around the mothball emanating Sully, and gave him the Hiemlich maneuver. The rescue worked as the pit shot out of his guacamole-covered lips. Except, George’s strength had also broke two of the old fellow’s ribs, and popped his glass eye out of its socket.

The ocular projectile sailed out the backroom and whacked a small child, between the eyes and rendered him unconscious. I accidently stepped on and crushed the tiny, rolling, glass cue-ball as I ran to retrieve it and a woman close by had fainted at the sight, believing it had been a real eye that had been squashed with a crunch beneath my foot. The woman and the child never came in again.

Sully now wore glasses. Not to see better, but more-of-a lens barricade to keep his new eye canon ball from escaping again----and George was now more careful about whom he helped.

If you have something you want to eat, don’t leave it laying around. Bubba Burlock eats everything, chips, cookies, personal lunches, nothing is safe around this junk-food junkie and his vacuous black-hole-of-a-mouth. I find it hard to comprehend that he so callously shoves anything and everything into this orifice—you see— Bubba has Crohns disease. We know this, because I, and everyone else hear about it daily. He spends a considerable amount of time holed up in the washroom, even more than Ellis, and that’s a lot. He can fart on command and they are usually hideous and follow him around like a homeless guy looking for spare change.

It was hard to decide what everyone liked least, being the next one into the privy after Bubba, or listening to his play-by-play, after-the-fact descriptions, texture, consistency, blood loss. To him, it was like a treasure hunt. Guess what I found in my shit today? Ugh . . . I shudder as much as you must be and you only have to read about it.

For some reason that Bubba won’t explain, he hates Davy and pesters him constantly. Bubba also can’t stand our boss Jacob. With all the things on his hate list, I believe he loathes Jacob most of all. Although the run-ins had never led to fuck-you’s and a knife fight.

I can identify with each of my co-workers in some way. They all posses qualities that I find in myself. George’s compassion, Ellis’ dry sense of humor and lust for lesbians, Davy’s ability to clue out although mine’s by choice... ---and Bubba. My alter ego. My dark side. Bubba possessed all the death and darkness, venom and vitriol that I sometimes felt working at Ultimate Produce but—the one difference. I never acted on it, with Bubba you couldn’t be sure.

Tomorrow: Excerpt from "Jacob's Ladder"