Monday, December 19, 2011

Caberet Lobstah Stew

Hunny's gone. No, not permanently. But she is out in Vegas this week, cavorting around with a couple of old chums and leaving me here all alone. By myself. You know what that means, don't you? Yep. Wet towels on the bathroom floor, dirty underwear hanging from the chandelier, beer cans strewn helter skelter and most importantly, raised toilet seats. I'll tell you what else it means. Lobstah stew for me and one of my buddies.

My regular readers, those two of you who may have read part of one of my blog posts, might remember Hunny as the person who made me kill the lust-filled cricket under therefrigerator, and as the one who likes to keep her garbage in the refrigerator. There's another thing about her that you probably don't know. She hates seafood. If Hunny had her way there would be no seafood. No shrimp cocktail, no oysters on the half shell, no fish and chips, no fish sticks, no McFish sandwiches. But there would be chicken. Lots and lots of chicken. This is a problem for me. It's not that I don't like chicken, but I never signed on for 24/7 chicken. I like some variety in my food. Fortunately, last Sunday, I got to have it.

On Saturday, I went to the grocery store hungry, in hopes I'd overspend on seafood. I did. I bought enough shrimp and scallops to kill a horse, and the two lobsters were a nice touch too. I did a little prep work that evening by cooking and shelling the lobster. Here's the procedure:

First, name your lobsters as you get your pot of salted water boiling.

Next, thrust the little buggers into the rapidly boiling water head first. No, it's not that it's more merciful that way, it's just so you don't have to hear them scream.

Cook them briefly just enough so that they've stopped struggling and that they've begun to turn a lovely shade of red-green. It's important not to overcook them because they'll cook more when they're added to the stew. You're looking for a color like this:

Here's Artee on the left and cray on the right. See how Artee's trying to struggle to the surface? He almost made it, crying like a schoolgirl all the way, but I pushed his head back underwater and he eventually gave up the ghost.

Remove the lobsters from the water let sit until they're cool enough to handle.

Crack the shells, remove the meat from the tail, claws, body (yes there's body meat) and legs. It's work but it's worth it.

Refrigerate the lobster meat; retain the shells.

Chop finely one bunch of green onions and one shallot. Saute the shallot and onions in butter. Retain the chopped green onion tops for garnish.

When the shallots and onions are soft, toss in the lobster shells. If you have any other seafood shells (I had shrimp shells) add them too.

Pour in three cups of milk and three cups of half and half. I used more because I needed extra stock for the seafood linguine I was making.

Simmer on low for an hour or until Hell freezes over I've simmered for up to 2 ½ hours before and it only made the stock better.

Strain the stock and discard the veggies and shells.

Return the stock to the stove, add in the chopped and/or torn lobster and bring up to temperature.

Add one teaspoon of paprika for color; salt and pepper to taste.

Add one to two ounces of dry sherry, if desired. I desired.

Finally, add in a schlop of butter and stir in.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with the onion greens and serve.

You'll notice there are no potatoes in this stew. There are no carrots. The onions (except for the garnish) have been strained out. There is only one star, and it is the lobster. Lobster needs little help to shine. In fact, too many ingredients would only take away from what this dish has to offer. So keep it simple and remember to take your gout medicine.

By the way, we also had seafood linguine. Here's a pic. Be jealous.

And I have leftovers.

And you don't.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sleep Study, Part the Second

Suppose you were a dog, and suppose somebody grabbed your snout, stuck it in their mouth and then blew a continuous stream of warm, fetid air into your nostrils for the next eight hours. That's pretty much what happened to me last Thursday night, except for the dog and snout part. Yes, that's right. Five months after I had Sleep Study,  Part the First, I finally got around to Sleep Study, Part the Second.

If you read the earlier post, you'll remember I promised a follow up report. The thing is, I hated the first part of the test so much that I did everything I could to avoid setting up the second part. But my daughters were not amused, and my doctor was not amused, and especially the people who stand to make money by renting me their equipment were not amused, so I finally bit the bullet and went in for the rest of it.

The preparation was much the same. It started in a small torture chamber where they loaded me up with twenty pounds of wires and electrodes placed every few inches all over my body, with the technicians taking special pains to both glue and duct tape them to the hairiest parts. Yeah, that included my lower legs. How electrodes attached to my lower legs can help them detect sleep apnea, a breathing issue, is beyond me, but what do I know? I wasn't complaining. At least they didn't use pop rivets this time.

Once they got me all wired up we returned to my room for the mask fitting. The bed had already been turned down, but, sadly, there was no chocolate mint on the pillow. I blew off the poor service and allowed the tech to stick the mask onto my face and adjust the straps to the point that they dug into my skin deep enough to cause gangrene. The seal would be better that way, he told me. I'm pretty sure he expected me to believe that.

"You'll feel a slight rush of air when I turn the machine on," the guy said. Right. And I'm sure when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were strapped into their respective electric chairs, somebody told them, " You'll feel a slight tingle."

He flipped the switch. Hurricane Katrina blew up my nose and out my mouth.

"You've got to keep your mouth closed," he said.

I closed my mouth. My head asploded.

Ten minutes later, I finally figured out how to breathe with the gear on. The technician turned out the light, and wished me a good night's sleep. He retired to his SEEKRUT HIED OWT where he proceeded to watch me all night when he wasn't videotaping me for whatever kinky website they sell those things to.

I'll say this. The experience wasn't particularly pleasant, but I was somehow able to sleep all the way through with that stuff covering my nose except for one interruption when the tech guy had to come in and retighten the mask. He didn't re-tuck me in and he didn't give me a good night kiss, which was, I believe, best for both of us.

He woke me up about 6:30 and, after de-masking, de-wiring, de-hairing my body and making me fill out thirty seven forms in three different languages (French, Italian and Hebrew) they sent me on my way.

So now I'm waiting for the insurance company to approve the system the doctor ordered. Like all insurance companies, they are in no hurry to comply, but I expect they will eventually. When they do, I'll have to use the system all the time or they'll take it away. They'll check. I know they will.

The good news is that I've talked to a number of people who are wired into a CPAP machine every night. They tell me that 1) you do get used to it, and 2) I should expect to have weird, bizarre dreams. As a writer of horror stories, I'm all about weird and bizarre dreams. So I'll let you know if I get any good stories out of it.


The machine arrives Friday. Pray for me.


Sunday, August 7, 2011


I'm a wee bit unhappy with some of my neighbors. They're not close by neighbors, living as they do in a more affluent section of town, but they're close enough that if they played golf at the public course where I play, had a beer at the local gin mill, or picked up chicken at the local KFC like I sometimes do, I'd run into them from time to time. But, of course, they do none of those things. They can afford better.

Now, before you think this is going to be a slam against rich people, think again. The ability to go from poor to rich has always been one of the Great American Dreams and I will never fault anyone for having achieved it. Nor am I envious. I like my public golf course. They know me at my local pub and treat me just fine so I'm happy when I go there. And I really enjoy KFC. Honest.

Okay. Okay, KFC is crap. But the rest of it is true enough. Mostly.

So, why am I perturbed with my almost neighbors? I'ma tell you.

There's a VA hospital not far from where I live (for those of you non-'Mericans, that's a Veterans Administration Hospital). The hospital's even closer to where my well-to-do friends live. The hospital and the upscale neighborhood existed side by each without incident for years. And then the Vietnam vets started getting old. And the Iraq and Afghanistan vets came home needing medical care. The hospital census exploded. With inpatient and outpatient counts through the roof, hospital parking was at a premium. The VA had no choice but to build another parking structure. But, of course, it takes time to build a parking structure and their need was immediate.

Enter the Huron Hills Church. They were only a mile down the road from the hospital, had extra parking space available and were happy to lease it to the government as a temporary staff parking lot. The hospital purchased two vans and arranged a shuttle service, ferrying workers back and forth between the church and the hospital. And everybody was happy.

Well, not quite.

Much like Ted Kennedy objected to the proposed energy-efficient windmill farm in Nantucket Sound that would have obstructed the scenic view from his Hyannis Port compound, the residents of Glazier Way in Ann Arbor have objected to the "howling, screeching shuttle buses" that pass through their otherwise serene neighborhood ruining their reverie. The noise is apparently more than the residents can bear.

"We and our neighbors are the victims of the noise and traffic generated by this commercial enterprise," said the president of the neighborhood association in an article in Ann "The buses literally wake us up every morning and annoy us all day long."

Well, boo fricken hoo. Excuse me while I shed a tear for the "victims."

Then there was the woman who, in a comment appended to the story, objected to the look of the vans. "That paint job is pretty 'loud' too, "she said. "Maybe something less obtrusive?"

The paint job she objected to can be seen in the top picture in this post. Those "obtrusive colors," are contained in a representation of a red, white and blue American flag. Having served under those colors for three years, I can't quite find it in my heart to agree with her, and I expect the patients of a Veterans Hospital might have the same problem.

But that's not important. What's important is the serenity of the residents--the victims of Glazier Way. Never mind that these shuttle buses are only a temporary inconvenience. Never mind that these shuttle busses are using a public road. Never mind that these shuttle busses transport staff who take care of sick and injured veterans--perhaps preparing their meals or cleaning their treatment rooms or checking vital signs or changing their IV bags. Perhaps they're there just to hold a veteran's hand as he dies. None of that matters. To them.

But like I said, I have nothing against these folks just because they're affluent. In other circumstances a poor person might act this way I suppose. But poor or rich, I do have something against dickwads. And now I know that some of them live on Glazier Way.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

One Guy's Perspective: Book Comments - Dustin Time - Part II, a Guy Friendly Chick Book

Special thanks to Kay Theodoratus, from whom I have stolen the term "book comments."

As you may recall, in the previous blog post (Why I Wasn't an English Major, AKA Dustin Time Part I) I mentioned the title of a book, Dustin Time, and named the author, June "Bug" Kramin. And that's pretty much all I had to say about it. The past couple of weeks my life has been a living hell because of that, what with June Bug plotting my death and all, so I decided I'd better take the time to write out a few book comments to go along with that sterling introduction. I'm writing book comments because I never do book reviews. Never.

Here we go.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I should admit I know June Bug personally. We have had more than one cocktail together and several meals too. I have introduced her to probably the best deli in the world inside of which sits the best cheese shop in the world. At least the best cheese shop in Ann Arbor. She could have shared a piece of the cheese she bought there had she been the kind of person willing to share her cheese which she is not.

No, I have not born any of Bug's children, but it's safe to say we're friends. So you might think I'd let our friendship get in the way of a fair and accurate review of her book. Perhaps it is possible I might overlook glaringly purple prose, as-you-know-Bobisms or even excessive adjectivitis. Because we're buds it's conceivable I might avoid commenting on two-dimensional characters, poor plotting or ghastly grammar. Because we're pals, I might just ignore seriously bad writing and give her great props, just because.


If Bug's book sucked, I'd tell you so. Okay, maybe not. More likely, I wouldn't write about it in the first place in order to spare her feelings. She'd do the same for me too, I know. That's why I know when she finally blogs about any of my stories, I'm sure it will be a good review. That is, when she reviews anything of mine. Which she hasn't yet but will, I'm sure.

Some day.

Any day now.


So, here's the thing. You have to understand that Dustin Time is a chick book. I mean, all you gotta do is look at the cover to figure that out. I knew that going in, and the last time I checked I'm not a chick. So I wasn't quite sure what I'd be getting myself into when I started reading. I did know Bug is insane and that she's funny as sin. I hoped some of that would come through in the story to help get me over the hump of all the "relationship" crapola that would of necessity also be there in a chick book, draining my man-energy and forcing me to take periodic breaks flipping through chain saw catalogs in order to set my head straight. As it turns out, I didn't have to do that. Bug fixed it for me. How, you ask? Shower scenes.

I'll explain. But first you need to know a few things about the story.

See, there's this chick, Kaitlyn who's seeing this guy Dustin. There's not a thing wrong with Dustin. He's handsome, clever, funny, employed... But Kaitlyn, being a chick, has to find something wrong with him (if you're a guy you'll understand what I'm talking about here). Dustin's younger than her, and in Kaitlyn's mind this justifies ending the relationship--notice I just used the dreaded "R" word. So Kaitlyn's thinking about all of this when she steps into the shower. She stops thinking about it when Dustin lets himself into her house (she gave him a key) and joins her in the shower, which is sort where I started paying attention to the story. And it's that kind of thing which is repeated enough in the story so that it kept my attention from cover to cover. In other words, Dustin Time may be a chick book, but Bug wrote it with enough bait so a guy could enjoy it as well.

There are other things that make this novel guy-friendly. Kaitlyn travels back and forth in time repeatedly which is a kind of science fictiony thing which guys dig. Especially when you throw in the occasional grope, which Bug does. That is to say Bug writes about the gropes. She doesn't grope herself. It's Kaitlyn who does the groping. Well, Dustin too, but you know how guys are. Anyhow, there's lots of groping. There's an old janitor too, but I'm not going to talk about him, except to say he doesn't grope. He might have when he was younger.

Don’t get me wrong. This book is certainly not pRon, nor is it erotica--not that there's anything wrong with that. But there is enough sexual tension in it to maintain a guy'

It has an ending too. A good ending. But I'm not going to tell you what it is because if I did there'd be no reason for you go out and buy this book, which you should. While you're doing it, keep in mind that there will be a sequel too. And you'll really like the sequel. I know, because I've been privy to some of the plot points. And you haven't. Pbthhhht.

So guys, go ahead and get out your credit card and go here to order your copy of Dustin Time. If you don't want the other guys to know you've ordered it, use your first initial on the order form. No one will be the wiser, and I won't report you for any man-card violation. By the time you're halfway through the first shower scene you'll thank me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why I Wasn't an English Major

Do you wanna know why I wasn't an English major?

Do ya, punk? Huh?

Do ya?

You don't?

Well, Ima tell you anyhow.

One word. "Book reviews."

I hated book reviews with a passion in high school, and the first few English and/or Literature classes I took in college gave me more of the same. No, it wasn't exactly like High School book reviews, but it wasn't all that different either:

"Describe the theme in this book."

"Characterize the relationship between the protagonist and her siblings.

"Discuss the reason the author chose purple as the color of Matt's bedroom wallpaper."

"Why did the vulture land on Mrs. Winkle's veranda, and what, if anything, did it portend?"

"What did Bob mean when he said 'Ma, I killed the cat?'"


I came to writing later in life largely because in my youth I believed that, in order to be a writer, I had to start with a theme, develop an outline, have a reason for everything that happened in the story, and, when one of my characters killed a cat, there had to be some reason for it other than "I just wanted to kill the damn cat."

But I did start writing eventually, and found that I didn't need a theme, I didn't have to write an outline, and my characters can sometimes kill cats just because they're sociopathic dickwads. The characters, not the cats.

I still don't do book reviews though. Why? Because I refuse to look for themes. I will not characterize relationships. I won't try to get inside the head of the author and pretentiously assume that I might understand why he did "a" in a story rather than "b."  And if Bobby Jim kills the cat, I'm not going to look for any special reason why. I'm simply going to assume that's part of Bobby Jim's character, and that it's important to the story or the author wouldn't have written it like he did, and then I'll go on from there.

So that's why I don't do book reviews.

Except that I'm going to start doing book reviews. But I'll be doing them on my terms. There will be no discussion of themes, no pretending I actually know what I'm talking about (because I most assuredly do not), but I will tell you what I like and what I don't like and why.

I won't be doing reviews on famous writers. They have enough reviewers to keep them unhappy. I'll concentrate on not-or-almost-ready-for-prime-time-writers--many of whom will be peeps I've come across since I've involved myself in the writing world.

I'll be looking at stories that are way outside my comfort zone too--romance, fantasy, erotica and, yes, even literary. But I'll review them my way. Not Miss Webster's* way, may she Rest In Peace.

And I'm not going to do this all the time either. I'll do it to fill in from time to time in between my normal meaningless drivel. And only when I feel like it. So there.

So I'll be starting today with my first review: Dustin Time by June Kramin.

*checks watch*

Oops, sorry Bug. Out of time. Too bad it was such a short review. Maybe I might get the chance to post a little more about it next time.

And, Bug? One more thing. Please don't hurt me.

*Miss Webster was my English teacher in Middle School for two years running. She pounded a great deal of grammar into my head and some of it even stuck. She taught me that "not is always an adverb." And, Dog bless her heart, she taught me to hate outlining, even as she loved it so.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Birds of a Feather--Fathers' Day Edition

Do you remember the Mourning Dove that had her nest in a little alcove above the door to my apartment building last year? No? Well, maybe you would have if I'd bothered to post anything about it. Anyhow, that's her in the picture to the left. She had one chick and they both stayed vewy, vewy quiet, afraid as they must have been of all the screaming little kids who live in my building and are in and out of that door dozens of times during the day.

Alas, the dove decided not to join us this year. I can't say that I blame her. In addition to the mob of overly loud children in the building, there's now a pack of teenage boys. I refer to them as "The Gang of Four." Hunny simply calls them "The Hoodlums."

As a former teenage boy, I am acutely aware of how evil teenage boys can be, and it wouldn't surprise me if one or more of them decided they'd like to find out if eggs bounced or if newly hatched chicks fly when tossed into the air. Mark Twain once said, "When a boy turns thirteen, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hold. When he turns sixteen, plug up the knot hole." Then, as now, that is good, practical advice.

But like I said, that Mourning Dove outsmarted the teenagers by not showing up this spring. So instead of Mourning Dove babies outside our front door, this year we had Robin babies outside our bedroom window.

I'll explain.

We'd been watching since the day an enterprising male dragged the first twig into the bushes by the side of our building. Apparently nobody told him about the kids or the hoodlums who live here, because he built that nest at eye level, way too close to the ground. But nobody touched it.

Through all the wind and rain we had this spring, that nest stayed in place, as did Momma, plopped protectively on her eggs. We never knew exactly when the eggs hatched, but one mrning I awoke to much bird screeching. I peeked out the window and saw two gaping mouths poking up out of the nest, and they were making a whole heck of a lot of noise.

The chicks grew quickly as children are wont to do, and pretty soon the first chick took off, leaving her brother behind. No, I never actually checked their respective sexes, but girls always develop before boys and I saw no reason to believe it would be any different with birds. We figured that in a day or two he'd join his sister and we'd have nothing to watch out the window any more. But the little fellow stayed. And then he stayed some more. Oh, sure, he'd venture out into the bushes occasionally, but never far from the nest. And there's no question he was too frightened to try to actually, you know, fly.

It finally hit the fan one day. As Junior inched along some branches a good foot from the nest, Dad came by with breakfast. As the sight of his father, Junior opened his beak and demanded his Happy Meal. That's when Dad snapped.

Did you ever hear a Robin swear? Well, this one did. I'm sure of it. And he swore in spite of the mouth full of worms he'd been carrying. He screamed back at Junior. Then he screamed some more. And Junior retreated further and further away from the nest until we could no longer see him in the bushes.

It was tough love, is what it was, or maybe Dad had simply had enough. But Dad kicked Junior out of the house that day. Told him to go get a job. Of that I'm certain, because we never saw that little bird again.

So let that be a lesson to all you fathers out there this Fathers' Day. There may come a time when it's past time for your kids to leave the nest. Don't be afraid to scream at them through a mouth full of worms, and don't be afraid to show them the door either. And whatever you do, once they're gone, don't forget to change the lock.
*actual pics of Momma Dove and Junior Robin*

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Magic Finger

So the world's still here, and Teh Rapture that Harold Camping predicted didn't happen after all. I don't know about you, but I was sorely disappointed. I'd spent a ton of money on a good pair of binoculars just so I could watch naked people float up to Heaven. Now they're only good for bird watching or checking out my neighbor half a block away.

I got to thinking about it and I'm pretty well convinced Mr. Camping was funning with us--giving us the finger, so to speak. Then I saw a picture of the fellow and it pretty much confirmed it.

Take a look and see what you think.

Now, when I saw that picture, right away it reminded me of another religious leader who also liked to give us the finger. I'm not saying Camping is as bad as that guy, but you've got to admit the two pictures are eerily similar.


Of course, this is nothing new. So-called religious leaders have been giving people the finger for a very long time. Surely that first Neanderthal who drew a mystical picture on a cave wall or placed a flower on a grave while making strange grunts exercised some kind of power over his brethren. And if he was anything like most of the people who find themselves in positions of power, he took advantage of it too.

Later on in human history, the Crusades, as we know, pitted Christians against Muslims, for God's sake. And today, nearly 1000 years later, it seems as though that particular war is not over. Imagine, 1000 years of war just to prove that my God is better than your God. It's particularly ironic when you realize both religions share the same God.

The Spanish Inquisition was a fun time in the history of religion too. Friar Tomas de Torquemada and his buds gave more than the finger to the heretics. They also gave them the pear, the cage, the strappado and the aselli. Of course there are no photographs from that time, but there sure are a whole lot of neat drawings and etchings that point the finger at the true perpetrators.


Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, the Mad Monk, was Russian mystic and faith healer brought into the royal household by Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra to tend to their son, Alexei. In his spare time, he ate and drank to excess and ravished pretty much any woman he could get his hands on. He kind of reminds me of a late 18th Century, early 19th Century Jim Bakker. But at least Rasputin was an interesting guy. If you haven't read any stories about his murder you should. It's a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction.


Aimee Semple McPhereson and Father Charles Coughlin are two shining examples of finger-giving religious leaders from the 1920s and 1930s. McPhereson preached a conservative, evangelical brand of Christianity, yet managed to divorce and remarry (something she taught others was sinful), and allegedly, eventually staged her own kidnapping so she could spend quality time with her lover.

Father Coughlin preached his own peculiar combination of anti-Semitic, pro Fascist hate from Detroit, Michigan across the airways in the 1930s. His millions of followers, unable to see him giving them the finger over the radio, bought into his message.


The advent of television gave our religions friends yet another way to spread the love of God. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy (ah hayuv sinned) Swaggart along with Bakker immediately come to mind.

Check out the pictures below. Jimmy appears to be pointing out either original sin or his hooker, while Robertson tries to give his audience the finger but, instead, summons the Devil.

This picture shows Jerry Falwell performing the most important act of his ministry--outing the children's television cartoon character Tinky Winky.


Rev. Jim Jones gave his followers the finger along with the Kool Aid. Then he put that same finger on the trigger and blew his brains out. It's a shame he didn't pull the trigger first.


Marshall Applegate--remember him?--of the Heaven's Gate cult believed a space ship was trailing the comet, Hale-Bopp, so in the late 1990s, he and many of his fellow travelers donned new Nike's, fresh jumpsuits, ingested cyanide and tied plastic bags over their heads so they could join up with the space ship. Applegate was probably sincere in his beliefs, so I suppose you can't really accuse him of giving his followers the finger. He did, however, take their testicles.


Rev. Jeremiah Wright came into the public eye with Barack Obama's run for the White House. As Obama's minister for 20 years, it is fair to say the good Reverend might have had some influence on him over those years. That's why when some of Wright's less than stellar pronouncements came to light, Obama was forced to distance himself from the man who had performed his wedding ceremony or suffer damage to his own credibility. So in an unintended way, Rev. Wright wound up giving Barack Obama the finger. And I guess I'll take the opportunity to give him the finger here for saying "God bless America? God damn America."


Fred Phelps. What can I say about Fred Phelps. Well, I know what I'd like to say to him, and what with him being such a proponent of freedom of speech, I know he'd just sit back and smile while I said it. Either that or sick his lawyers on me.

Phelps, of course, is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kansas-based sect of inbred--wait, did I say "inbred?" I have no way of knowing that. Scratch that. Let's just say this sect is ... different. It seems to me they pretty much hate everyone. We know for a fact they hate gays and Jews. They're happy when an American soldier dies and take great pains to attend the funeral whenever possible, spreading their message in the meantime.

Fred has given so many fingers to so many groups and individuals that they appear to be gnawed off at the knuckle as can be clearly seen in the picture.


The latest champion of the lunatic religious community is one Rev. Terry Jones (no relation to Jim Jones, I expect). Terry likes to burn books, disrespect the religion of millions, and put American soldiers at risk, thereby giving them the finger. He obviously has been watching Fred Phelps, because he too wraps himself in the United States Constitution.My best guess is that this guy's ego is every bit as large as those of the other "clergy" on this page, and that he's started having a little trouble distinguishing between "Terry" and "God." He does have a pretty neat 'stache, though.


Finally, we have--

Wait. How did he get in here?

You know, I don't agree with our President on much. But if he's expressing his opinion on religious leaders who are in it for the money, their ego, or the sheer power over others, I'm with him on this one.


Now it's time for a brief homily from Father Haggis:

There are many, many wonderful religious leaders in the world, just as there are honest politicians and non-greedy business people. But as I told my kids years ago, if you happen to be in the same room with any of them, it's always a good idea to keep your eyes open, keep your senses sharp and keep a death grip on your wallet.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dear Osama bin Laden,

So, I hear you're dead, huh? No, no, don't worry. I don't expect you to answer, what with you being dead and all. I mean, if you were Sarah Palin, you probably already would have jumped in with a "you betcha, by golly," but you're Osama bin Laden--or were, that is--and, well, Sarah Palin is still alive. Like you're not.

Okay, that was wrong of me. One person shouldn't make fun of the fact another person is dead. I'm so ashamed of myself.

Okay, I'm not really ashamed at all. But I had you going for a minute, didn't I?

Osama, let me see if I can express myself a little bit better. But first, let me apologize for being happy. 'Cause, you know, it's not that I'm happy, really. I'm not happy like those folks in your neck of the woods who danced in the streets when you had your people fly our planes into buildings in September of 2001. And I'm not even happy like you seemed to be in those pictures you released of you and your buddies yucking it up after the buildings fell. What I am I guess is satisfied. Yes, that's it. Satisfied. And content that, though justice will never be completely done when it comes to you, at least it's been approached. And that's about all we could ask for.

You'll not find me out there dancing in the streets. Because, although I'm glad you are dead, you will not find me celebrating. Me and my countrymen and women--most of us anyhow--do not find your death a joyous occasion, but rather a somber one. One for reflection and remembrance. I think our younger folks might be a tad exuberant, but you know how young kids can be.

Osama, you should know that we are proud, so proud of those Navy Seals who took you out. We honor the service of the intelligence community who located you and patiently watched over you like a mother hen, waiting for just the right time to strike. We thank our National Security folks, and our President, who had to order the mission to go forward. And we saw that picture of all of them watching the mission go down live. You know, Osama, I think all Presidents and their advisors should be obligated to watch operations like this go down live. Because those folks are the ones in a position to order young men and women to do stuff that might kill them, and they damn well ought to have the cojones to sit there and watch the people die that they've ordered killed. And if the mission goes south, well, they damn well should be obligated to watch that too.

But none of that's important to you anymore because, as the saying goes, you sleep with the fishes now. Which brings me to my last point.

I want to apologize in advance to those fishes. Because the next time I'm by the ocean, and I hope it's soon, I intend to piss in it. I sincerely hope the fish understand.



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sleep Study, Part the First

I've been busy taking care of some health care related stuff recently, so I was pleased that I was about to be finally free and clear of doctors for the foreseeable future. I was about to leave my doc's office when he said, "One more thing. You need to get a sleep test."

"I already know how to sleep. You don't have to test me. SRSLY," I said.

"No, no, no," he said. "We need to test you for sleep apnea."

"Sleep apnea? But why?"

"Because you're old, fat and your family says you snore."

"They lie."

"You're avoiding the question."

"How about them Tigers?"

"So let's say next Tuesday? Be there at 8:00 PM.

Fortunately for me there was a sleep testing facility a mere five minutes away from my home. Unfortunately for me, my insurance company wouldn't pay for that one. Instead, they made me drive the 50 miles into Detroit, dodging bullets all the way, so I could try to fall asleep in one of their aging hospitals.

Somehow, I managed to find the hospital along with the last parking spot in their lot, which was about three time zones from the lobby. I still managed to report in by the appointed time. And it's a good thing I did, because I only had to wait an hour for them to get to me. Having dealt with too many hospitals in my life already, I had been prepared for the wait. I'd brought my book with me in order to pass the time. And of course it sat there on the front seat of my car, three time zones away, where I had forgotten it.

They finally put me in a room, where they let me wait another hour. Eventually, the technician came for me.

"Put on your PJs and meet me in the exam room next door," she said. "We've got to get you wired up."

If you check out the picture of the freaky looking guy at the beginning of this post (who is not me, BTW), you'll see what they meant by wiring. She stuck wires on my head, my chest, on my neck, behind my ears and on my lower legs. There were two straps around my upper body, and what felt like a thirty pound millstone-like machine hung around my neck, into which ran all the wires. She even wired a little microphone by my throat and topped it all off by shoving probes up my nose. Then she taped everything down. Tape. You know. That stuff that gives you a Brazilian wax job when you eventually remove it.

Anyhow, I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. I had more wires coming out of my head than Brent Spiner when he played Commander Data on Star Trek Next Gen. And I was starting to feel like John Coffey in the Green Mile. I swear, if that woman started praying over me or tried to stick a wet sponge on top of my head I was so out of there.

So she led me back to my room, rolled down the bed covers and I hopped in.

"Lay back and get comfortable," she said.

Right, I thought.

"You'll be hearing me on the speaker in a few minutes while we check out your connections. Do you have any questions?"

"Yes I do," I said. "What if I have to use the rest room in the middle of the night?"

"Just say something and I'll come in and disconnect you. I'll be watching you all night so you have nothing to worry about."

Great. She'd be playing Edward to my Bella.

By this time it was already an hour past my normal bed time, and though I normally fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, this night it took over a half hour. So naturally it didn't bother me at all when she came into the room and adjusted my wires three times during the middle of the night.

I won't belabor you with the horror story of my trying to sleep that night. Suffice it to say there wasn't much sleep, but apparently there was enough of it for them to collect their data. The tech woke me up about 6:30 and removed the wires, tape and most of my body hair. Then she started in on the questionnaire:

Do you feel rested? Sure. Never better.

Are you more tired than normal or less tired than normal? How about them Tigers?

Did you dream? Yes. I dreamed there was this angelic voice booming from the High Heavens telling me, "Do not lie on your stomach."

And then they let me go.

I made it home, showered, washed the gunk out of my hair and tried without success to scrape the tape residue off my various body parts. Just as I was getting ready to head into work, I got a call from the hospital. It was the resident doc who had just reviewed my results.

"Haggis," she said. "Sleep apnea. You haz it."

Great. So now I have to schedule a second test wherein they blow air up my nose in an attempt to help me breathe better while I'm asleep. This should be fun. I sense another blog post in the making, don't you?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Conversation with my Father - a Ghost Story

I got to thinking about my father the other day. He's been gone for some time now, and as I sat there playing with my iPod, I wondered what he'd think about that amazing little gadget. I realized too that there are a slew of other things that would be new and different to him if he were only here to see them. And then I figured, I pretend to be a writer, right? Why don't I bring him back and have a conversation with him?

And so I did.

And here he is.

Folks, meet my dad.


It was Tuesday evening and I'd been feeling kind of off the whole day. Rather than stop in for Happy Hour, my usual Tuesday evening plan, I went straight home instead. As I unlocked the door and started inside, I could sense that something wasn't right. I turned on the lights and there was an old man, sitting on my sofa, staring up at me.

My jaw hit the floor, and I collapsed backward into a conveniently placed arm chair. Thank Dog I'm the one writing this piece or I might have fallen flat on my ass instead.

"What...who...Dad, is that you? But it can't be you. You're dead."

"You're ugly. What's your point?"

"You can't be here. It's impossible. You're dead."

"Yeah, and you're old. Judging by how you look, I'd rather be dead.

I stared at him for what seemed like forever but was, in reality, only a minute or so. He sure looked like my father did the last time I saw him alive.

"So, what's new?" he said.

"Wait a minute. You show up, unannounced after--what--almost forty years and ask me what's new?"

"It seemed like a good place to start."

"This is insane. I don't believe in ghosts. You can't be here."

"Why not? There's no sign. Besides, I won't stay long. I just thought I'd stop in and check up on you."

"I'm fine. Things are fine. But you're still dead."

"I thought we established that earlier."

"We did, but I still don't believe in ghosts."

"Okay, then. How about this instead? I'm not a ghost. And, see, I'm not your father either. I'm a violent, tiger blood drinking Torpedo of Truth. A warlock from Mars, flying the F-16 of Winning, while crushing my enemies with my flaming fists of fire."


"Okay, that's a lie. I saw some guy on your T V who spewed stupid like that. What an idiot. But I really am your father. Believe it or not, I don't care. Either way, I'd like to ask you some questions anyhow."

"I guess. Sure. Why not?"

"Okay. I was looking out your window and I saw a bunch of kids. They were wearing baseball caps. You know baseball caps?"

"I know baseball caps."

"See, they had them on backwards with the bill pointing behind them and off to the side. What's up with that?"

"That? That's just a style thing. All the kids do that nowadays."

"But it makes no sense. They can't keep the sun out of their eyes with the bill in the back. What are they trying to do, keep the sun off their asses?"

"Man, you've changed. I never heard you use the word 'ass' before."

"You loosen up once you're dead."


"But about those kids, there was this one kid. I swear, his trousers were down to his knees and his crotch was dragging on the ground. You could see they guy's underpants."

"Another style thing. Hip-Hop."

"Hip-Hop? What's that supposed to mean?"

'Beats me. Nobody ever explained it to me either."

"You're not much help, are you? Anyhow, you remember those kids with the baseball hats? They had wires in their ears."


"Yeah, wires. One on each side. "

"Oh. I get it. No, see, those are earbuds for their MP3 players."

"Thanks. That's clear as mud."

"They were listening to music. It's kind of like the old transistor radios were. Only smaller and a lot more efficient."

"Not all that efficient. One kid walked straight into a tree. In fairness, it might have been because of that thing he was holding. He kept tapping it with his thumbs."

"Ah. He was texting."


"Yeah. That was his phone. People can type messages into their phones now and send it to whoever they want."

"Why don't they call them instead?"

"I never understood that either."

"Maybe you're not as dumb as you look, but these kids today--"

"Hey! Lighten up on the kids. I've got grandchildren now, you know."

"They let you reproduce? What were they thinking?"

"Come on. You saw one of my daughters. Even got to hold her in your arms. That was a couple of weeks before you died."

"Yeah, I remember. She was a cutie. Didn't take after you at all."

"And I've got another daughter you never had the chance to meet. You'd like her too. And five grandspawn between the two of 'em."

"Five? Any of them smoke a pipe?"

"Nope. People don't smoke too much any more."

"Even you? I remember when you used to sneak those cigarettes on the back porch. You thought you were getting away with it."

"Nope. Even I don't smoke any more. And besides, I knew you knew. You just didn't want to get Mom all riled up is all."

"Trust me. It was better she didn't know."

"You're probably right."

"But enough of that. Tell me what else is new nowadays."

"Well, for one thing, pretty much every home has a computer now. We use them for everything--email, news, entertainment, paying bills, banking..."

"Is this your computer here?"


"Doesn't look like much more than a fancy typewriter. Besides, it's defective. It doesn't have a 'cents key.'"

"We don't need a 'cents key' any more. Stuff costs way more than you remember. When people get pennies back in change now, they leave them at the store. They don't want to bother with them."

"You're depressing me. Tell me something that will make me feel better."

"Well...we have a black President now."

"You're kidding."

"No, it's the truth. His father was born in Kenya."

"Well, I'll be. I never thought I'd live to see a black President."

"You didn't."

"You don't have to be so blunt about it."

I shrugged. He sighed. Then he checked his watch.

"Well, I guess I've taken up enough of your time. I should be getting back now."

"Wait. You can't go yet. I've got questions too. Lots of questions."

"Well, hurry up then. One question is all I have time for. Make it a good one."

"Okay. What's it like? Being dead, I mean. Is death a terrible place to be?"

"Well, let me put it this way. I've been in worse places. You ever been to Cleveland?"

I shuddered, he laughed.

"It's time now," he said.

"Are you coming back again?"

"No. One trip is all we get. Besides after all you told me, coming back would only mess with my head again. It's not worth it."

"Dad? Once I got over the shock, it was good to see you again."

"It was good to see you too, Son."

We shook hands, then he stepped back and waved good-bye. As I returned the wave, he slowly faded from view. "See you soon, Steve," he said, and then he was gone.

"Okay, Dad. Bye. I--



"Come back.

"What do you mean you'll see me soon? How soon?

"Do you know something I don’t know?


"Get back here.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Clean Garbage

I've always been an admirer of women. No, it's not just because they have breasts. That would make me a sexist at best and a misogynist at worst. So my admiration is about way more than that. It's about way more than those soft, conical, perky protuberances that drive men wild. Way more.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

It's not about breasts, and I am not a misogynist. I believe men and women are equal. In fact, I'm convinced that in many ways women are superior. Take the art of logic, for example. Women are logical in ways men can't possibly comprehend. I first learned this from my mother when I was just a young'n.

My mother worked full time midnights as a nurse, and of course in those days husbands did little to no housework, so my father was no help to her when she became ill. It was necessary, they decided, to hire a woman to help my mother with laundry, ironing and some general housecleaning.

The day arrived and I awoke to see my sickly mother furiously racing through the house cleaning everything in sight. The cleaning lady wasn't due for a couple of hours. "Mom," I said, "What are you doing? The cleaning lady's gonna be here soon."

"I don't want her to think we're not a clean family," she said.

Well, I couldn't wrap my head around that one. Neither could my father, apparently. The cleaning lady didn't last out the week.

My ex taught me an important logic lesson too. One day I noticed she washed the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Sensing redundancy, I jumped all over that.

"Why are you washing dishes before you wash them?" I asked her.

"You've got to clean the crud off before you put them in the dishwasher," she said.

It took a while for my mind to form the rebuttal. "Why do they call it a dishwasher rather than a dish rinser, then?"

"Take out the garbage," she said.

Which brings me to the purpose of today's post.

I first got an inkling about female logic, at least as it related to garbage, from my oldest daughter. I'd been invited over to dinner at her very first apartment. After the meal I decided I'd be a nice guy and help her clean up the table. I grabbed the dirty napkins, opened the cupboard under the sink, located the trash container and tossed the napkins inside.

"Not in the clean garbage!" my daughter shrieked.

"Clean garbage?" I asked.

"Yes. I just put on a new trash bag. I want it to stay clean," she said.

"Oh. Then...then where do I put the garbage?"

"In the dirty garbage."

"Wait. Are you telling me you keep two garbages?

"Of course."

"What? You mean you keep one just for display?"

"Take the dirty garbage outside, Dad."


I've learned more about female garbage logic from my girlfriend, Hunny. Our first ever argument was about the garbage disposal. I had the water running, the disposal turned on and I was scraping leftover food from the dinner plates into the swirling water.

"What do you think you're doing?" she said.

" off the dishes before I put them into the automatic dish rinser."

"No! Don't do that. The food will get caught in the disposal."

"Dear, it's called a garbage disposal. You're supposed to scrape food into it."

"No, no, no, no," she said, clearly frustrated with me. "Just put the dishes on the counter. I'll take care of them later."

Well, I never have to be told to not do something twice, so I set the plates down, popped a cold one and plopped myself in front of the TV where either the Lions or the Pistons--I don't remember which--were losing yet again. You see, I've learned that sometimes it's best we don't try to understand. Sometimes it's best to just go with the flow.

Much time has passed since that day, but in all the time I've known her, Hunny only used the disposal once. Even then all she was doing was cleaning the unit with baking soda and water, although why she needed to clean something she'd never used was beyond me.

Things got worse when we finally got into the real garbage issues. We'd had KFC for dinner and afterward I dumped all the bones into the bucket, popped on the lid and dumped it all into the trash.

"Don't do that," Hunny said. "It'll stink."

"Not for a few days," I said. "And besides, it's supposed to stink. That's why they call it garbage."

"Not in this house," she said. She pulled the container from the garbage and put it in the refrigerator. "It won't stink in there."

Call me silly, but it didn't seem right to me that we should keep our garbage in the refrigerator. Refrigerators were meant to be a cold storage place for beer. I thought everybody knew that. But as time went by I noticed other strange things happening. For example I found a Glad Bag full of banana peels, an empty tuna fish can and three French fries, probably leftovers from some grandspawn's Happy Meal.

I picked up the bag. "Why?" I cried plaintively, thrusting the bag accusingly toward her.


"Put the garbage back in the refrigerator where it belongs," she said.

It was time for me to give up the ghost. So now I've bought into the concepts myself. Women's logic has prevailed.

There's only one thing about female logic that troubles me at the moment--the fact that Hunny just cleaned the toilet. What that means is that I'm not allowed to use it. She's already nixed my using either the kitchen sink or the bathtub. And, you know, a guy can only keep his legs crossed for so long. So, if you've been reading this, please think nice, dry thoughts, and whatever you do, don't let the faucet drip.