You Deserve It

The year was 2000. I can't describe how lonely I was. I loved living in Greece, but I just wanted to talk with someone who had shared experiences, you know? An American who'd lived through what I had. Enter "Forest Farmer" a man who posted an ad for a pen pal. He'd written, "I have four wonderful sons, and I love them very much." That was the first sentence of his bio. I didn't know anything else about him, but I'm sure I started to fall in love from that, because I had a son who I loved very much too. We did become pen pals, wrote every day for six months, without ever exchanging a photo, until he came to Greece to meet me. He got off the plane, and I had never seen anyone skinnier or with … [Read more...]

Cookies, Bloody Cookies

Let's talk about passive aggression. The ability to snipe at others in this fashion and do so successfully takes patience and intelligence. And to spot it also takes intellect. Spite under a cloak of "support" or "helpfulness" works like this: You welcome a new neighbor whom you wish weren't in your neighborhood by bringing her home-baked cookies, and then while she's at her door, holding your plate and thanking you, and ready to invite you in, you step back off her porch, you tell her how miserable it is living on the block. If she asks you, "Why would you say that?" your reply is, "I'm just trying to be helpful. I'm just trying to let you know what you'll suffer by living here. And I … [Read more...]

Neo-America

Just so I'm clear, let me list the facts as I know them: In protest against American racism, a Black football player kneels during the national anthem. That's the length and breadth of his protest, correct? He is then called out as "disrespectful" by another former Black football player, Jim Brown, who, if memory serves me correctly, once threw a woman out of a moving car. We've somehow reasoned away a grassroots, fascist militia who open carries assault rifles and combat gear to their own protest, and a sheriff (Arpaio) who went after a judge, his own wife, jailed a journalist for reporting his misuse of power, was in contempt of the law for not showing up for his court date, and under … [Read more...]

A Letter to American Nazis

Dear American Nazis: We all thought it over ─ the rest of us in the United States who aren’t Nazis, that is ─ and decided to give you what you want. We will leave you the country, and we’ll all go someplace else to live. To be clear on who’s leaving, I’ll say it using your terminology: Niggers, Jews, Chinks, Spics, Wops, Feminist Cunts, Libtards, and anyone else that isn’t part of your supreme group ─ we’re all going. You win. When we saw how one of you sat in a 4000-pound vehicle that kept him safe while he plowed into pedestrians who had no chance at all against it ─ we thought, “Wow. That’s brave. We can’t beat these people.” So, we’re out of here. But when we go, we take with us … [Read more...]

Only One Kind of Flower?

TRUE STORY: When my son was only four, a relative tried to teach him the "N" word. Luckily, this 'lesson' was conducted in front of me. When we got home, I then had to explain to my little boy not only what the word meant, but what it meant about the values held by the relative --- someone he really loved --- who tried to teach it to him. My son listened to my explanation in absolute shock. Then he said, "You mean, there are people who want only one kind of people? That's the same as wanting only one kind of animal, or one kind of flower." Yes, son, it is. And to the people protesting in Charlottesville: He was four when he figured that out. … [Read more...]

June Allen: Ninety Years of Courage, Perseverance, and Love

  She was twelve when war broke out. She was eighteen when she first sailed aboard the RMS Queen Mary, and with her was her baby son. June Boots Allen celebrates her ninetieth birthday today, August 3, 2017. Those years have been rich and vivid, filled with happiness, but also with more heartbreak than most know. Yet, despite the extraordinary ups and downs of her life, she remains a positive force of inspiration, not only for her own family, but far beyond. A long-time resident of Anderson, Indiana, June came to the United States as an English war bride in 1946, aboard the Queen Mary. It took June sixty-seven years to get back to the ship again in 2014, this time as an honored … [Read more...]

On Happiness, and SPELLS AND OREGANO …

I have one more draft of this manuscript to complete--the final edits before the copy edits.  People who don't write novels probably assume that everything on the pages is made up because it is after all, fiction. But the reality is that if a writer is too lazy to do research, what he ends up with is a story that pulls a reader out of the world he's created to say, "That doesn't make sense." Even when you've created a world that includes spirits like this one does, which many would argue don't exist, there has to be a consistency in how those spirits operate. In Cooking for Ghosts, for example, the spirits look as alive as you and I. In Spells and Oregano there is one spirit who does not. … [Read more...]

TERRORIST MEDIA

After a terrorist attack most of us say, "I wish there was something I could do. I wish we could all make this better." Well, guess what? There is something you can do, and it is very counter-intuitive. STOP reading about the attacks. STOP watching news reports about it. STOP clicking on links with headlines about it. Sounds wrong, doesn't it? Not if you read this. I've compiled a number of tweets from a terrorist attack victim and listed them below. This is what she went through with the so-called press, and apart from a few clarifications of abbreviations, etc., I've added nothing of my own, other than this: True journalists have a code of ethics. Re-terrorizing victims and … [Read more...]

Night on Earth, When I Lost My Way

Last weekend, I had the privilege of staying aboard  the RMS Queen Mary, so that I could speak about my novel, Cooking for Ghosts, at  StokerCon. I had a wonderful time. I met some truly extraordinary authors, filmmakers, and screenwriters, watched incredible films in the stunning Queen's Salon of the ship, and had drinks with friends in the beautiful Art Deco Observation Bar. And, as I usually do on trips where I don't know where I'm going, I got lost in my car, down by the Long Beach Port, in fact.  But, I'm used to this. It seems to be my right of passage whenever I travel somewhere alone, just me and my dismal sense of direction.  This is not metaphorical, but the rest of this post … [Read more...]

On Women, Betrayal, and Overeating

This one is a tough one, and might trigger some bad memories for some, but I have to share it. Yesterday I met a young woman who was abused sexually when she was four. The abuser was her stepfather. After months of this, the little girl was at her grandmother's and luckily, grandma figured out something was amiss. Her stepfather was convicted, and went to jail. Where the story takes an even more tragic and dark turn is that the little girl's mother never believed her about the abuse. The mother remained in contact with her husband, even going as far as to visit him regularly in prison. And when he was released, the first person he phoned was his wife. The little girl, a teenager by the time … [Read more...]

Do You Fear Change, or Change Fear?

I rarely share personal stories of this nature on social media, but something's making do so today. I think the reason is I've seen a lot of posts recently from online friends who are afraid to make changes in their personal lives and relationships.. Because ... what if we make a change, and it only makes things worse, right? There are a number of other reasons people don't make the changes they want to make too. A big one is embarrassment, believe it or not.   As in, "I've tried everything to make it better, yet I am still so unhappy, and treated so badly in this relationship. But if I get a divorce, people will think I'm a failure. And I'll feel ashamed." I was in the above situation, … [Read more...]

The Little Lies We Tell Ourselves Are Not So Little, After All.

Psychology Today says that "Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs." When people would like a certain idea to be true, they end up believing it to be true. This explains why many of us stay in unhealthy relationships or other living situations far longer than we should. We want to belong somewhere. We want to believe we were right in our choice of what that "somewhere" is. We want to believe we didn't make a mistake. Because in our society, making a mistake is something to be ashamed of, rather than something that teaches us to be better and stronger. Confirmation bias leads us to stop gathering information when the evidence we've gathered so far confirms the … [Read more...]

On Graveyards and Death

A graveyard is a place our ancestors and loved ones sleep. To destroy them in the dead of night, in a country that once stood for freedom of religion --- all religions --- is a cowardly kind of cruel. To do so on the basis of which god you pray to indicates the weak mind of a follower, and a soul that has been emptied of any kind of true human compassion. To those who want to devoid their lives and their environment of any and all who think differently and act differently, who want to see those others either demoralized or dead because you're afraid of their differences from you, know this: Once you achieve that goal, with no one else left on the outside to fear or destroy, you'll then … [Read more...]