I am taking this opportunity, while the Man is out doing whatever He does when he gets in that noisy CAR machine, to issue an appeal to all my fellow Felines for advice concerning a DOG that has taken up residence here.  As I have lived with the Man and man since kittenhood and have only been able to sneak out of the house on a couple of occasions, my knowledge of Canines is next to nothing, having only seen them from the window as they stumble and swagger about the neighborhood.  When I told the Man a few months ago that I would very much like some companionship, I had no idea that He would soon bring Home a BARBARIC CURSE to plague my life.  Now I long for those splendid days of solitude, basking on the floor from the sun shining through the open windows.  The BEAST has been encamped here for over two months, and I have not had a moment of peace. I am issuing this appeal in the hopes that a wise Cat might present me with ideas for either TERMINATING the DOG, or at least ways of inciting disfavor among the Man and Woman against this PESTILENCE that has descended upon our household.

When IT first bumbled ITS way into my Home IT was not any bigger than my water ish.  IT had, and still has, a bulbous head, round, vacant, beady eyes that do not reflect a speck of intelligence, hair the color and consistency of my litter and the grace of a wounded Yak, whatever that is. When I approached IT for the first time, IT began slobbering all over me and bouncing around like a proper MORON. IT made some HORRIFIC sound similar to that of a toaster being pushed off the kitchen counter and striking the floor. I have since learned that this is called a BARK, and IT makes this sound whenever IT blinks ITS eyes, it seems.  My very first encounter with the CREATURE resulted in IT latching hold of my precious tail with ITS fangy MAW, and it was only after I caterwauled at IT and batted ITS MUTANT skull that I was able to free myself and climb to safety on the back of the couch.  IT proceeded to SQUAT at the foot of the couch and fired a barrage of noises at me, perhaps thinking I might be persuaded to sink to ITS level.  From that moment on, my life has consisted of running from one high spot to another because IT relentlessly CHASES me.  Sometimes I stand my ground and pummel IT into greater depths of STUPIDITY, but IT keeps coming, hopping around and yapping incessantly, too DENSE to know that I am bashing ITS pea-sized brain in.

The DOG has systematically drooled over and taken as ITS own ALL of my playtoys.  The MONSTROSITY is not satisfied covering my possessions in ITS GOO – IT CHEWS and GNAWS everything into oblivion.  I have seen IT completely DESTROY one of the Man’s shoes in the matter of a couple of minutes.  Over the course of ITS stay here, it has chewed on EVERYTHING: table legs, carpeting, music discs, the furniture, bookshelves – the list is endless. Just yesterday I saw the THING trying to gnaw on the TOILET for goodness sake!  But this is not the most HORRIFIC thing IT does.  The DOG has yet to learn that a litterbox is where to do ITS BUSINESS. IT poops and pees all over the House. When the Man and Woman scold IT, the DOG pretends to be contrite, wags ITS scrawny tail and rolls over onto ITS back. The next few times IT has to GO, IT will then sidle up to the door and make the most pathetic WHINING sounds until IT is actually LET OUT!  I cannot BELIEVE the Man and Woman actually allow the IDIOT OUTSIDE!  I have been crying at that very door for THREE YEARS and have NEVER been allowed out!  The two times I did manage to slip out, the Man and Woman called and cried for me until I decided to return.  This, this MONSTER is allowed out ALL THE TIME!  If I could kill IT, I would.

I do not understand what power the DOG has over everyone.  They fawn over IT all the time, crawling around on the floor with IT, playing tug-of-war with MY TOYS and laughing every time IT falls over ITS bumbling paws.  IT possesses some sort of je ne sais quoi over which the Man and Woman are helpless against.  IT STINKS, IT is completely NASTY – I even saw IT EAT OUT OF MY LITTERBOX once!!  Worst of all IT is GROWING!  Before too long IT will be able to climb upon the furniture, and then all is lost for me.  Please, if there is a compassionate Feline out there that can give me tips on how to DESTROY the
DEMON DOG, or at least live with IT, I will be forever grateful. 
I am including a recent photograph of IT so you will be able to judge for
yourself how PATHETIC this BEAST is.


Jack the Cat

(Originally published August-21-09 in the Free Ads Weekly, Florence, AL)

I’m always on the lookout for unusual and interesting studies, and was not disappointed upon reading some professors’ finding explaining why we humans swing our arms when we walk.  Now why didn’t I think of that first?  Perhaps I was too busy trying to get a grant to determine the percentage of peacock feathers being used as ceremonial headpiece accessories in lower New Guinea to catch that one.  In case the reading public had any doubts about the importance of this study, the author says that arm-swinging has ‘long piqued scientific curiosity’.  This means somewhere in the Netherlands an egg head was going nuts trying to figure out why his arms seemed to have a life of their own when he walked.  I know how he feels.  My arms are always trying to force my hands to pick up things I can’t afford, or scratch myself in public, or constantly checking to make sure I haven’t forgotten my wallet or key or socks.

I knew something was fishy when I read that ‘some experts’ (the definition of an expert is someone who acts like they possess knowledge about something the rest of us aren’t supposed to know, as if we cared) contend that arm-swinging is a left over trait from when we walked on all fours.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember ever walking with my hands, unless you count the times I played horsey when the kids were just kids.  Well, there were those college parties, but that’s a different story.  Even if we pretend our ancestors used to run around on all fours, why in the world did we hang on to this behavior?  I mean, we managed to get rid of our tails and fur, but for some reason the whole arm-swinging thing stuck around.  Puleeze.

The swinging study even built a mechanical model! Imagine a pile of engineers trying to make a robot that swings its arms.  “Tighten that elbow a little bit.  It’s slapping its own face.”  “No, let the shoulders rotate freely.  We don’t want it to look too much like a helicopter.”  “Hey, who put a robotic finger in my egg salad sandwich?”  “Man, that’s the third pelvis we’ve broken this week.”  Evidently the robot didn’t meet their expectations, or they ran out of AA batteries, or one of them got smacked in the head and came to their senses, because the scientists decided to turn their attention to real life arm-swinging people.

What a concept.  I’m so relieved universities hire the most competent and cost efficient help.  Now I know why it costs roughly half a million dollars a semester to attend college. Somewhere a swinging robot is sitting in the corner gathering dust, hoping it gets picked for Herbie Hancock’s next music video.  So these scientists go out into the real world and pick out test subjects for their study. I’m curious how they predetermined who their guinea pigs would be.  Ok, first they should have arms.  Next, they have to be swinging them.  Then . . .ok, they should have arms.  That must have been a grueling selection process.  Hope they paced themselves.

Now here’s where it gets sticky.  These scientists somehow figured out on their abacus that there must be a metabolic cost to arm-swinging.  This is a no-brainer, as nothing is free in today’s economy.  They had a third of the subjects walk normally, a third had to walk what they called an ‘opposite-to-normal’ swing (such genius!) and a third were to walk with their arms straight down without swinging.  This must have loked like a scene from either ‘Night of the Living Dead’ or ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’.  Too bad they didn’t get the Bushwackers to participate.  Now, those guys knew how to swing!

If there’s a question to beg, this is it: how in name of sweet Aunt Julia did those scientists determine the metabolic cost to all this sauntering?  The study says they measured the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide the different groups used, but what is that other than breathing?  “Ok, Joe, you watch the backward swingers, and if they stop inhaling, make a note.”  Please tell me the scientists made a video.

After watching people walk for awhile, the scientists determined that our natural way of walking is best in the long run. Thank goodness!  I was starting to get worried that we might have to start sticking our hands in our shirt pockets when we get around.  These big brains said, “The arm’s pendulum swing helps dampen the bobbly up-and-down motion of walking.”  These guys insult our intelligence and then call us bobble-heads. Where’s that robot?  I want to study how far it can boot a

(originally published in the 7-24-09 edition of Free Ads Weekly, Florence, Alabama)

      There was an article in the news recently that said a study was done which proved that cats are in control of their owners. This causes me to wonder if there’s a gaggle of scientists somewhere who sit around all day thinking of ways to spend money on obvious things.  I could speculate on a wide variety of subjects that would make for easy studies, such as finding out if the sun really does rise in the east, but my cat wants me to stay on topic.

     The study says felines have a particular way of mixing a purr with a cry when they want something like food or your favorite shoes, and this somehow reminds their owner of a hungry baby, causing the human to stop whatever they’re doing and look for a bottle and diaper.  I’m not smart enough to make this stuff up.  My cat, Jack, makes this precise sound whenever I get up in the morning, and it works like a charm.  I toss him one of my favorite shoes so he’ll shut up and let me have a peaceful cup of coffee.  I think he’s got me trained well, because I know what will happen if I don’t give into his demands: he waits for me to get comfortable and then pounces out of thin air to use my leg as a scratching post.  I’ve tried tricking Jack by putting scratching posts where my legs should be, but it’s hard to get comfortable when you’re hiding your legs behind your back, all the while trying to cross your scratching posts.  In times like this Jack looks at me as if I’m brain damaged then sneaks around behind and shreds my bent, folded and spindled legs.

     Have you ever tried to get a cat to do anything? They know who rules the roost. Jack will toy with me by standing in front of any closed door and making that hungry baby sound, but when I run over to open it, he just stares at me as if he has no idea why I opened the door that he’s refusing to go through.  Whenever I call him by name he acts like I must be talking to the doorknob, so I have to resort to inhaling helium and yell “Here kitty kitty kitty!”  Usually by the time he saunters over to me, I’ve forgotten what I wanted him for.  It’s no fun getting old, especially if you’re slave to a cat.

     My son told me about this cartoon he saw once where this dog and cat were laying side by side and thinking.  First of all, I know it must be a cartoon, as any respectable cat will tell you that dogs don’t have the capacity to think because all they have in their cranial cavity is a huge drool gland.  Secondly, it is highly unlikely that a dog and cat would lay side by side.  The cat demands top billing and must be at least two feet in front of the dog in the event the dog’s drool gland activates.  Anyway, my son said that in the cartoon, the dog was thinking, “My human feeds me, brushes me, bathes me, plays with me.  He must be a god!”  The cat has similar thoughts.  “My human feeds me, brushes me, bathes me, plays with me.  I must be a god!”  Even though the cartoonist’s fundamental message is sound – that dogs looks up to us and cats look down on us – I would never have imagined a cat thinking such things. Instead of thinking “my human”, the typical cat regards us more like minions created to serve.  Finally, I’m not going to mention the obvious logical flaw that a cat would think his minion bathes him.  I’ve got permanent scars on my arms from the only time I attempted to bathe Jack.  A co-worker asked me once what was up with my arms, and instead of humiliating myself with the truth, I said I had been involved with an industrial paper shredder accident.  I still haven’t figured out what to say about my legs, though.  There’s no way a paper shredder could attack both my arms and legs, unless a couple of them ganged up on me.  Now that’s a disturbing image.

     The study quotes a Karen McComb of the University of Sussex who says, “Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom.” That’ a funny phrase, “solicitation purring”.  I can just imagine getting a knock on my front door and finding a cat there trying to sell me a magazine subscription.  I probably would but a subscription to Cat Fancy just to make the cat stop that sound.

     Any respectable cat slave will tell you that cats are just too smart to go around soliciting in public.  They get the humans to do that for them.  I bet behind any successful salesman sits a cat on his or her throne, pulling the strings.  Home is another matter altogether, though.  Jack does not hesitate doing his cry-purr thing whenever he wants the refrigerator door opened, for instance, or when he wants the toilet seat left up.  That reminds me of the time I found him squatting over my can of Mountain Dew one day, and when I confronted him about it, he answered with, “Well, you do that in my drink bowl.”  Since then I’ve switched to bottles.  I hope he doesn’t know how to unscrew a bottle cap.  On the other hand, any creature that can manipulate a human as much as cats do would find a bottle cap child’s play.

     Time to go.  Jack’s making that purr-cry sound again, and if I know what’s good for my legs, I’d better to attend to him quickly.

You've heard of the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it".  I used to scoff at that saying.  Seriously scoff, not that half-assed sighing scoff you see from the talking heads on TV.  I would say, "I've been wishing for a boatload of money for years, and where the hell is it?"  Little did I know I actually had to go where the boats were, you know, like, in the water?  I used to . . . no, I confess, I still do wish for the winning lottery numbers, but whenever I'm at that counter, stubby little pencil in hand, poised over the lottery ticket, the magic numbers that my brain sends up like flares turn out to be anything BUT the winning numbers.  Oh, yeah, I got the winning numbers all right.  In my sleep,  As soon as I wake up - poof! - the numbers fade away like an aging rock star.  Now, you can substitute the word "pray" for "wish", although the end result is the same.  Praying for something invokes a sort of Divine version of "Punk'd".  I've learned that God has an incredible sense of humor.  I can imagine what He was saying to the angels when He made Man.  "Let's start him out without any hair or teeth, make him completely ignorant of the world around him, give him poor eyesight and let him be unable to control his bladder and bowels.  Oh!  Almost forgot.  Instead of a brain, give him a big drool gland up there.  Now, after Man goes through his life and nears the end of it, let's grace him with all the same problems he had when he was a newborn.  Yes! Exactly the same, all the way down to putting his toes in his mouth.  Oh, Man will LOVE this!  Oh!  Oh!  I just thought of something brilliant, angels! (of course, He IS God - how much smarter can a guy get?)  Let's make a woman!  Man will never know what hit him.  Me!  I love my job!"  So, you see what you're up against with prayer.  Just forget about asking for anything.  After all, God does provide, doesn't He?  Personally, I just stick with either the Lord's Prayer or a simple Thank You when I can remember to.  I'd even be careful of the Serenity Prayer.  You don't want too much wisdom.  You'll end up naked in a cave somewhere contemplating the hair on your gonads.  Believe me.  I've been there.

Its enough to push someone already on the edge over it.  So as I fall to my doom here, I thought I'd lay a little wisdom on you.  Learn how to make a proper wish or prayer.

Be Specific!  This is where most people screw up.  Some schmuck (Pardon my Yiddish) will pray for patience, and then wonder why he always finds himself in the longest lines wherever he goes.  Even if he thinks he's going to get lucky sliding behind a woman with only one purchase, until he discovers she's got twelve different credit cards, all of which don't or won't work, and then tries to write a check using her last check and the pen breaks all over it, the customer and the clerk, who is just about to commit homicide, and then fumbles around her purse to collect twenty five dollars and fifteen cents in pennies.  By then the schmuck has gained a full beard, lost sixty pounds by just standing there, and will soon discover his wife left him for a race car driver, and he has eight grandchildren.  So, if you want to become a more patient person, you have to know exactly what you want.  Have others told you you're impatient?  Ignore them unless they are paid professional patiencologists.  Do you fidget and become irritable when a process like the microwave isn't happening fast enough?  That's why God made Taco Bell.  Do you hate grocery shopping because the check out experience is maddeningly slow?  What the hell are you doing in a grocery store anyway?  That's why God made Taco Bell!  Oh, so you think you need soap and shampoo?  They've got bathrooms in Taco Bell, and the soap they've got can do both head and body.  You'll find out sooner or later there is no need to worry about patience.  Yep.  FAST FOOD.  Since I started hanging out at Burger King my life has been wonderful.  I can't wear any of my old clothes any more, but who needs clothes when you can use napkins?
I must say from the onset that I normally do not read romance stories, but felt compelled to pick up Remembering Zane and read it. I immediately became captivated by the author's writing style: airy, sensual and detail oriented. I love details, and Remembering Zane did not disappoint. It is extremely difficult to write using an omniscient point-of-view (the writer getting into the thoughts and motivations of each character instead of the usual one person point-of-view), but Jamie Wilsoncroft pulled it off with flying colors, seamlessly moving through the minds of each of the story's characters and leaving you with a rich perspective of the entire plot, and masterfully spoon-feeding the sexual tension until it is as taut as a violin string. I was carried along by the heart and was completely unable to put the book down until it was finished, and was not wanting for more. Remembering Zane is a perfectly balanced tale, not too intricate or trite. I wholeheartedly recommend Remembering Zane. It will bring your blood to a feisty simmer and deliver you ready for dessert. If you read this story, you will be Remembering Zane for years to come!

You can find Remembering Zane at Goodreads!
Alright, today I'm going to give you fair warning about the topic about to be bloviated: poop.  So, if you aren't crazy about becoming more aware of my fascination with caca, or if you just finished a chocolate eclair, then you might want to turn on the Science channel and crank the volume up really loud.  I don't know how that will protect you from this blog post, but I really like the Science channel and can watch it as you pretend not to read.

I haven't always been a connoisseur of dung - a scatologist, to be precise - but having owned cats most of my adult life, I've managed to find myself face to face with the feces of the species on a regular basis.  Speaking of regular, let me pass on a little advice to my older readers: mineral oil.  Just a teaspoon a day and you will have no, I repeat NO more problems with contipation.  Now, getting back to the main theme of this post - crap - I realized one day, while watching my leashed dog hump and pump out a couple of caramel-colored logs, that I have had an intimate relationship with my own guano as long as I can remember.  As a matter of fact, I can't think of a period in my life when I didn't have to drop the children off at the pool, unless you count that time I duct taped my external sphincter for a week on a dare.  Ah, the stupidity of youth.  If I had kept my butthole taped much longer I would have had to go into public service.  But that's beside the point.  In addition to my own personal experience with toilet muffins, and the daily rendezvous with my kitty's egesta, I have, on occasion, had to tread carefully in certain public places just to avoid marrying the soles of my shoes with another animal's excrement.  There is nothing fun about scraping some german shepard's fresh tootsie rolls off my Reeboks.  Yet, even while cleaning out the hills and valleys of my sneakers with my fingernails, I still find stool wonderfully captivating.  Now, don't get judgemental on me.  I know for a fact that as soon as you pinch off a few loaves into the pot, you turn around and look at them just before sending them to the nearest fresh water supply.  Yes, you MUST examine it, mustn't you?  If you find yourself staring down at an obsidian sample floating in the loo, you call your doctor immediately and share with whomever answers the phone every last detail of that mutant turd that had just been squeezed out of your colon.  Oh, yes, you will take pictures, too, and will not hesitate scooping the specimen into an empty toilet paper roll and then dropping it into the nearest sandwich bag before screaming to the nearest medical facility, and then almost fainting in gratitude when a tepid technician slices it, smears it on a slide and stares at it through his microscope then tells you it was caused by your eating those three bags of licorice the day before.  I know, oh, yes I do, that time you pushed one out so long that it circled the circumfrence of the bowl twice and had the overwhelming urge to call all your family members together to witness your glory.  Oh, indeed I do.  But unlike you, amateur poopy-dooper, I acknowledge my ongoing awe with manure of all shapes, sizes and smells.  I could tell you stories that would make your anus stand on its own, but I won't, because I know you won't appreciate the time I found a completely intact Baby Ruth bar encased in a thin layer of excreta, somehow swallowed whole and still as wonderfully nutty and chewy at the end as it was from the beginning.  You would never fully comprehend the physics of corn kernal preservation, or the beautiful dookie art found on the wall of a local McDonald's bathroom.  No, I will save and savor my observations and memories in the hope that someday a University may find my research worthy of Grant monies, and then I'll be sitting on top of the pile looking down on all you dung haters.  Then I'll be the shit.  Just wait and see.  And don't forget "mineral oil'.
My neice Danielle Chamberlin from Houston recently took a college course in poetry, and was tasked withhaving to write a sonnet.  With syllabus in hand, she called me and asked for my help, knowing I've written dozens of them over the years.  As I told her, there is more to a sonnet than just cranking out iambic pentameter; it is an art that involves reaching down into the pit of your soul and searching for just the right notes that resonate with intensity and truth.  In order to give birth to a sonnet, you have to have a pretty good understanding of the rhythm of words; in the English language, every multi-syllable word contains certain stressors, or emphasis on specific syllables within the word.  For instance, the word 'before' is spoken giving the second syllable the accent, as in 'be-FORE'.  Once you begin to see the way words flow, you can step into the making of a sonnet and stand a fighting chance.  Now, I like to tell student sonneteers that imabic pentameter, the classic rhythm of a sonnet's line, means that there are ten syllables per line and that the stressors need to belong in every even numbered syllable, or as I call it, the "DUM".  Here is an example of a line of iambic pentameter: da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM.  Read the following iambic pentameter sentence outloud and hear where the stressors are: "Sublimely shifts the length of night and day".  Did you notice the rhythm of that line?  Here's another: "I hear you cry for me and scream my name".  Do you hear it?  Iambic pentameter forces the poet to find words that feed into the rhythm of the line.  Read this sonnet I wrote and find yourself being lead from one line to the next:

Sublimely shifts the length of night and day
Until the journey home from work is dark;
Meanders forth a hint that sparrows hark,
Migration soon must take the place of play.
Ebullient children once, they now dismay
Returning back to school to ere embark;
'Sent on to worlds of high remark,
Considering their minds don't stray away.
Like leaves that turn from green to brown and gold
Our lives so much like summer's changing time
Soon bring us from the days of young to old.
Unbroken by the chilling, changing clime
Remains the oak, though still in winter's cold
Emerges in the spring as truth sublime.

Now, this sonnet is far from perfect, and if you have a keen ear you'll find the places that stray from the strict rhyth.  Not only does a sonnet need to stay within imabic pentameter for each of it's fourteen lines, it must try to conform to certain rhyming schemes, and also consist of four movements within the poem.  Expert sonneteers will toss a lazy attempt back in your face.  If you are interested in this form of poetry, there are dozens upon dozens of websites out there than can help you.  If you want to read the very best, look no further than William Shakespeare.  Now, before I let your eyes rest from this lesson, notice that the above sonnet is not only done in iambic pentameter and consists of the standard fourteen lines and leads the reader through varying themes of the subject, if you look at the first letter of each line and then read downward, you will discover the sonnet's title.  This is called acrostic poetry, and if you want me to jump into that subject you'll hav

It is ironic that my first success as a writer on the international theater is through a novel containing the most vile and visceral material to ever be published, considering that were you to know me on a personal level you would discover that I am perhaps the most non-violent human being on the planet.  I have studied and practiced the art and science of OOBEs (out-of-body experiences), Astral and Etheric travel for over twenty five years and have come away from it with a deep and abiding respect and love for the experiences I've had.  There exists on the Inner Planes a host of great spiritual beings whose sole purpose is to assist soul on its journey Home, and while there are indeed also malignant entities which seek to dominate and desecrate, a student of inner travel is completely safe if they are under the wing of one of these Guides and Masters.  I must admit that I have always been attracted to all things profound and profane, and in my years of reading horror I have largely come away dissatisfied.  I seek to push the envelope of horror, to snatch it from the table, rip it to shreds and scatter it to the wind.  I want to connect with the primitive nature of the reader, to cause him or her to toss the book across the room in terror and then stay up all night with the light on, all the while fighting the urge - and inevitably losing - to pick the book back up and continue the story.  If you throw up I've done my job.  If you wake up wearing a sheen of sweat and a scream in your throat, I've made my mark.  When you read my novels, you know i will be talking directly to you, and you will never be the same again.  Then, when you find yourself on the floor quivering, sure the darkest horror imaginable is reaching out to you, I will gently tap you on the shoulder with hope and redemption, bringing you back from the ledge of your own worst nightmare.  I will tuck you in before a warm fire, give you a steaming cup of hot cocoa, put on some soothing music,, and then when you are at your calmest, my monster will come from behind and whisper in your ear that you are doomed.  Now, after reading the Oober series, you will be thoroughly flayed alive.  While you are raw I will cook you over the fire of suspense until you are quite well done, and then marinate your soul with the sweet honeyed truth of all the wonder and slender awaiting you just beyond your mortal senses, and show you how you may walk in the garden unafraid.  Until then, however, you should keep your arms and legs inside, make sure your harness is secure, and hang on for the ride of your life.  I hope you enjoy!
So this is where I place my thoughts so that others may witness my narcissism in action.  Unfortunately, my thoughts are often as substantial as helium, and even makes me talk as if I've inhaled it.  But wiser minds than I recommend writing a blog, so as the Zen Master said, "Here goes nothing".  You - and I anticipate your being the only one to read this - may find these writings much like taking a powerful sleep aid, and if you find yourself plagued by insomnia, this will come as a small blessing.  However, being the self-professed curmudgeon as I am, the likelihood of my being able to market this cure for sleeplessness is next to impossible.  My chances are actually wearing impossible, to be exact.  Therefore, consider this blog an unselfish mission of hope to your inability to sail into the land of dreams.  Perhaps I'll add this to my resume as volunteer work.  Hmm, a narcissistic volunteer.  This might very well create a rift in the time-space continuum.  God, I hope so!
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