August 25, 2014


We have all worked in some unusual situations with some unusual people, right?
Well I have every one of you beat.
Until I become a bazillionaire from my writing(and hoping that there is a deity listening now who happens to give a crap), I must have…fade in ominous chord…the day job.
In my not inconsiderable time on this planet, I’ve done all manner of non-creative day jobs to support my writing, from scooping ice cream to hotel maintenance to selling jewelry and back again. The jobs are easy and not mentally taxing, so that when I get home, I’m good to switch over from physical to mental activities without feeling drained.
That being said, I came home from my latest day job, shelf-stocking at a company that will not be named, since I prefer to keep this job until my books sell well enough to enable me to write full-time or I throw myself under a semi—whichever comes first.
I was innocently stocking my employer’s dairy section when I felt a tap on the shoulder.
A tap on the shoulder is never a good thing.
I turned to find one of the department managers standing behind me with another employee in tow.
“Debbie (name is changed to protect me from lawsuits) is here to help you.”
Now, understand, I really don’t like to work closely with other folks.  I like to be given an area of responsibility and then go away and handle it.  I am good at this.
Now I have “help.” 
Department manager walks away.
“Okay, Debbie.  There are just a few things to keep in mind over here.  Please don’t break up cases.  The whole case goes up, or none of it does.  And please remember to rotate the stock so the closest to expiration is at the front of the shelf.”
“I know, I know.”
“That’s good.  But I don’t know what you know.  I just met you.”
“I know what I am doing, and if I do something wrong, management will correct me, not you.”
“Ohhhhhhkaaaaaay.  Then let’s get to work,” I said, making a mental note the size of Ohio to discuss this little chin wag with the big cheeses later.
She goes to get some stock out of the cooler, I return to my work.
Another tap on the shoulder.
Help me, Jesus.
It was the same department manager.  “You’ll need to keep an eye on Debbie,” he said.  “She stocks by matching up the pictures on the labels.”
“What--she can’t read?  Mother Mary shits a bunny!”
“Just do the best you can.”
“I’d love for you to tell me how.  She won’t take direction.  As a matter of fact, she told me off.”
“Yeah, well, she’s a thorn in everybody’s side.”
“Why does she even still have a job?”
“We didn’t hire her.  She’s a transfer.”
I failed to understand what this had to do with the price of a hooker in Las Vegas when it came to this kind of gross incompetence, but I didn’t ask.  I was afraid he’d explain.
I went back to work, finished stocking the items on my cart, and returned to the cooler to get more.
I passed Debbie on the way.
She had broken at least a dozen cases, and put all the coffee creamers (and we have 143 different kinds) in the wrong places because the labels had been changed. She had rotated nothing.
I went up front to speak to the Assistant Store Manager, and once I told him of my troubles, he said, “We didn’t hire her.  She’s a transfer.”
By the end of the day, there would not be a hair left in my head.
He then excused himself to go deal with a dust-up on register five.
The cashier is blind, and was cussing out a customer.
“Do we have the Braille system in this store?”
“Nope.  Too expensive to install for just one person.”
“Let me hazard a guess here—she’s a transfer?”
I subsequently discovered that the person fielding store phone calls is deaf, the fellow who unloads the trucks is a quadriplegic, and the store greeter is a nasty little guy with no legs who gets around on an extra-wide skateboard. He spreads his strange brand of sunshine beneath the sign over the front of the store which reads, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
And now, we have a vacancy in the deli department.  Evidently, the fellow who used to work over there got his prosthesis caught in the slicer. All vegans who refuse to even look at meat are encouraged to transfer.

August 18, 2014

NOTE:  The Weekly Rant:  Bread, Hospitals & Army Surplus is directly below this announcement.

GOTHIC REVIVAL, my paranormal thriller, is NOW AVAILABLE, worldwide, on Kindle and in PAPERBACK.
Here's the USA link for Kindle:
Please scroll down for BREAD, HOSPITALS & ARMY SURPLUS, The Weekly Rant.


Being the self-sufficient person that I am, when I ran out of bread this week, I thought I’d just whip up a loaf in my kitchen.

It is to laugh.

Apparently, in order to make a warm loaf of beautiful bready goodness, you must belong to some sort of secret society—whereabouts unknown.  There is a secret handshake, and I understand the meetings include a great deal of levity over photos of bread that failed to rise.

At any rate, I went to the store to purchase a book on bread making.  I cannot explain what possessed me to spend forty dollars on this book when, as long as I was out, I could have picked up about twenty-five loaves of bread for the same price.  In my defense, I failed economics.

I opened my book to what was supposed to be a basic white bread recipe, and gathered ingredients.  I already had everything but the active dry yeast, so off to the store I skipped.

I looked everywhere, but the yeast they had didn’t look too active to me.  I bought it anyway, and hoped for the best.

I mixed the required ingredients and then the recipe instructed me to proof the yeast.  I checked it over and there were no typos or style errors, outside of the misrepresentation of activity, so I corrected the empty packet, considered it proofed and moved on to the next step.

I poured the slop, along with the rest of the ingredients, into a huge bowl and stirred it until my wrist snapped.

Upon my return from the hospital, the dough had set like lead and looked a little like Mt. Rushmore.  I chain-sawed it out of the bowl and set to once more. 

On the way home from the hospital, I had purchased a heavy duty, heavy weight (50 lbs.)bread mixer for the sum of $800.00.  I set it up and threw in all the ingredients (that yeast was still just lying around), and revved up the mixer.

I had no idea that milk could be flung that far.

After I scraped off the walls, I re-read the directions and realized that I could only put dough in there, not unmixed ingredients.

I started over a third time.  Bear in mind, that between wasted ingredients, book and mixer purchases, and a hospital visit, I am now approximately $3700 into this project.


Everything was going pretty well this time, and before long, the mixer was kneading away, after which I put the dough into a bowl to rise, covered the bowl, and went off to do something else, happy and secure in the knowledge that I’d have fresh bread later that day, and impress the hell out of my husband, Stij.

When I came back two hours later, the entire kitchen was engulfed in dough.  It looked like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man’s cousin had dropped in, and I briefly wondered if Dan Ackroyd would consider making a house call.

As I said before, that yeast seemed pretty inactive, so I had added a dozen packets to my bread dough, just to make sure.

Evidently, it is pretty damned active under the right conditions.

And it was getting even bigger as I watched.

I needed to cook it—it was the only way.

I escaped out the back door before it noticed me and drove to the nearest army surplus store, purchased a flame thrower for a mere $1500, and sped back.

It had swollen to ten feet high, and had stretched into the living room, where it was watching TV and eating the couch.  I flipped on the flame thrower and let ‘er rip.

Did you know that those things aren’t nearly as easy to control as the movies make them look?

I sprayed not only Breadzilla, but also the walls of the house.  The whole thing went up in conflagration heretofore unseen by any human being…anywhere.

But it smelled great!

When Stij came home about an hour later, he was treated to a pile of smoldering rubble and a three-storey loaf of now perfectly cooked white bread.  The final price tag on this loaf of bread was now $5200, plus the cost of a place to live.

He didn’t bat an eye.  He didn’t say a word.  He just pulled a hunk of bread off and popped it into his mouth.

“Pretty good,” he said, chewing. “Don’t do it again.”

By the time we got the house rebuilt (we moved into the bread until then) and moved back in, I noticed that the kitchen didn’t have an oven in it.

“Why no oven?” I asked.

Stij just stared at me.  It was THE LOOK.

I stared back at him.  “How am I supposed to make meals?”

“I bought you a restaurant—it’s cheaper than letting you cook.”

I was going to ask which restaurant, but that probably would have pushed THE LOOK right into THE REMINGTON, and I’d really had enough for a while.

As it turned out, it was a pizza place, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a pizza from scratch…


August 10, 2014


         In eight days, I will be turning 60.  Though not so different from 59, things change when 60 rolls around.
“What are you thinking about, honey?” my husband, Stij asks.
“Ohhhhkay.  Are you going to make lunch sometime soon?”
“What for?  We eat the food, it turns to shit and goes down the toilet, just like everything else.”
“Have you been watching 21 Grams again?”
“Nope.  Million Dollar Baby.”
Stij casts about for something to cheer me up.  “I know.  Let’s go out for lunch.  How about it?”
“Oh, outside?  Into the smog and the dust and the filth?”
“Exactly when was it that you morphed into Dostoyevsky?” he asks.
“It’s more of a Kafka thing.”
“Shall I get the bug spray?”
“Very funny.”
“Is the idea of pushing 60 bothering you?”
“No, it’s the companion idea of pushing up daisies that bothers me.”
Stij sighs loud enough to be heard on the fifty yard line of the nearest football field.  “Okay, Sylvia Plath, let’s examine the issue.  Sixty is not that old.”
“I can prove to you that it is.”
“How?” he asked foolishly.
“Come with me.”  We walked together to the bathroom, and, with difficulty, I pulled open a drawer.  “Ta da!”
The drawer was crammed full of tubes of various sizes.  “I didn’t even know the word ‘ointment’ until last week, and have come to the conclusion that the more ointments you have, the older you are.  At this rate, by next year we’re going to have to build on a spare room for this stuff.”
“Okay, I’ll grant you that point.”
“Oh, I have more.”
“Lead on.”
I opened the lower door of the vanity.
So!  That’s all makeup in there!”
“Let me put it this way: when I was 25 all my makeup would fit in a small makeup bag.”
“You couldn’t fit this in a mail bag!”
“Okay, another point granted.”
“There’s more.”
“What time do we go to bed at night?”
“Around eight, but that’s so we can read for a few hours.”
“We are both asleep over our books at 8:05, so that’s a pants on fire situation there, sweetie.”
“All right, you’ve made your point.  But I have a few for you that might put things back into perspective.  Number one, I love you, no matter what age you are.  Number two, any day you wake up is a good day.  Number three, getting old is always better than the alternative.  And finally, though you can’t do everything you used to be able to do, and there is more behind you than in front of you, be grateful and focus on doing what you are still able to do and enjoy that.  Slowing down a bit isn’t necessarily a horrible thing.  If you were still keeping up the same pace you lived at when you were 25, you’d be dead in a week.”
“Hey, you’re talking like I’m ancient!  While it’s true that I don’t skydive anymore and I sold my motorcycle, I can still do pretty much everything I used to.”
“See?  I knew you’d figure that out.”
So, dear readers, I will be turning 60 in eight days.  But I will be living 25 . . . just in slow motion.

August 4, 2014


        I had the rare privilege of flying across the country recently.

I boarded The Flight Brothers Airlines flight 1313 (great number) at JFK (assassinated President) from gate 666 (I knew I was doomed).  Immediately upon taking my seat, I pulled out a map to find out where 13 Lat. and 13 Long. intersected so I would know approximately where I would be dying.

The takeoff was fine.  Understand, I am not a good flyer.  I am a skydiver, and I like that sport because I am always jumping out of planes.  I hate being trapped inside one for long.  I actually enjoy takeoffs.  It’s the landings I can’t deal with, because I so rarely land in a plane.

Anyhow, I had brought seven paperbacks along with me to help with distraction.  Wherever I go, I’m always afraid I’ll run out of reading material, so I pack the public library before I leave.  My carry-on usually has to be brought round with a hand truck.

So I’m settled in my seat, ready to go. 

I think it was when the flight attendants passed the hat for fuel donations that I began to become somewhat concerned.  I parted with whatever change I had and my Bvlgari watch, and after fifteen minutes or so, we were airborne.

Upon reaching our cruising altitude, the pilot regaled us with his post-takeoff commentary.

“This is the captain speaking.  We will be landing at LA-X in approximately three hours and 20 minutes, give or take a week (laughter in the cockpit).  The weather today is right outside your window, so take a look.  You may now unfasten your seat belts and move about the cabin, dance in the aisles, or play ping pong . . . I don’t give a rat’s ass what the hell you do (more laughter in the cockpit)!  In the event that we are hijacked to Cuba, I understand the weather there is beautiful this time of year and the drinks are cheap, so under no circumstances should you interfere with the hijackers, if Cuba is their destination.  If they want to go to Beirut, however, you may feel free to beat the crap out of them.  We will be flying over water today, so I hope you all brought life vests.  Thank you for flying The Flight Brothers Airlines.”

I should have known better than to book a “no frills” flight.  I really should have.

The flight attendant (there was only one) passed by just then and asked me if I wanted a drink.

“I want several drinks . . . and Quaaludes, if you have them!” I replied.

After Absolut-ing myself into a more relaxed state, I realized I had to retire to the porcelain auditorium . . .badly.  I tottered down the aisle, with as much dignity as twelve shots of vodka would permit, and was rather proud of the fact that I only threw up on three passengers before rendering a “VACANT” lavatory “OCCUPIED.”

At that moment, of course, we hit a pocket of the permanent turbulence that resides over Chicago, and the last of my vodka, along with my head, became jammed in what is laughingly called “the toilet.”

Now, they don’t have a “Jaws of Life” on a plane.  They have something called “The Disengager.”  And considering the expertise with which this device was applied, I gathered that it was put to use quite a bit more often than occasionally.

I crawled back to my seat, my skull having assumed the cone-headed shape of that more commonly adorning the shoulders of Jane Curtain or Dan Ackroyd.  For the rest of the trip, I had this inexplicable urge consume mass quantities of beer and fried chicken embryos. I settled for a Mento, but is just wasn’t as satisfying, somehow.

As this was a night flight, the lights had been turned off, for the most part.  I tried to sleep, but just couldn’t get comfortable in my chair.  The flight attendant, noting my dissatisfaction, swept to the rescue with her in-flight panacea.

“Would you like another pillow?”

“No, I wouldn’t.  It’s not going to help.  You could put Sonny von Bulow in this seat and she’d wake up and say, “I can’t sleep like this!”

“Would you like another blanket, then?”

I gave up, switched on my light, and opened a book, entitled, Loch Oberlie Crash – The Real Story.  No, I don’t think so.  Since my carry-on was packed tight, and this was the only book I could pry out of it, I set it aside and donned the headphones for a musical interlude.  Richie Valens’ “La Bamba” blared out at me, followed by The Big Bopper, a medley of Buddy Holly hits, and Patsy Cline singing, “I Fall to Pieces.”

Okay.  That’s enough music for this lifetime . . . which I fully expected to end at any minute.

But, good news!  The movie was coming on!

It was “Airport.”  Great.

Then the flight attendant came back.  I couldn’t get any more booze, because the plane still reeked from my last foray into the alcohol arena.  No, now it was time for “snacks.”  She handed me a box of raisins that measured two inches square and one inch deep.

This is a snack?” I cried.  “Who’s running this airline?  Papa Smurf?”

She seemed annoyed, and walked away.

In a last-ditch effort for shut-eye, I reached into the envelope on the back of the seat in front of me, and forced myself to read the in-flight magazine.

In two minutes, I was fast asleep.

In five minutes, I was awakened by a Transformer action figure bouncing off my forehead. 

“I’m sorry,” the woman across the aisle said.  “It’s my son.  He’s very highly strung.”

“Yes, he should be,” I replied.

In the course of the next hour, her son (Davy was his name.  I know this because she said it so often, there was no way I could not know it) jumped on the seats, screamed, sang off-key, cried, threw things (mostly at me), stalked about the cabin waking up sleeping passengers, dumped food on the floor, and spilled everything that was spillable, as long as it was sure to leave indelible stains.

How I managed to survive this without giving Davy wing-walking lessons, I will never know.

“This is your captain speaking.”

Oh, God.

“We will be landing at LA-X in ten minutes.  Please be sure your table trays are in the upright position, and that somebody ties that little bastard, Davy, to his seat—preferably with barbed wire.”

I felt vindicated . . . except that I knew it would never hold the evil little monster.  You could use razors, barbed wire, and chains, and he’d be out of his seat faster than Houdini.  Silver bullets, a crucifix, and beheading were the only answer.

Finally, we touched down in LA and only lost one wing in the process, so I considered the landing a success.

I wobbled off the plane, in a state of mind which I don’t often find myself.  I thoroughly hated humanity.  Every last one of them.  As a matter of fact, I was considering turning in my membership card, when I was tapped on the shoulder.

 “Excuse me.”

“I stiffened and turned slowly, much like Jack the Ripper, upon sensing his next victim standing behind him.

It was a Hari Krishna, complete with tambourine.

“If you don’t leave me alone immediately, I’m going to disembowel you, right here in public, and rip your heart out and have it for lunch,” I chatted, pleasantly.

After my arraignment, I spent the rest of the trip in a lightly padded room.  But at least it was on the ground . . . and quiet!