Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Object Lessons . . .

We taught our daughter something important today.

We taught her that there are crazy people in the world. We taught her that the insane don't just live on network TV. We taught her that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself in the face of idiocy and paranoia, even if your actions effect no change.

Sometimes, you just have to stand up.

We also demonstrated that violence is -in most cases- the reaction of a scared, dumb animal when confronted with a superior adversary. When the higher functions don't -or can't- function, the reptilian brain assumes control and lashes out. It's a defense mechanism for those without the mental capacity to address conflict as mature adults.

The trick is knowing when to respond in kind and when to walk away.

After all, it's cruel to abuse the mentally defective. It's pointless to debate with the intellectually challenged. It's counterproductive to attempt to undo years of false persecution and pathetic rationalization by way of intelligent discourse.

We hope our example serves our child well in the future. We hope the restraint and dignity we show in the face of provocation penetrates the core of her being. We hope our daughter never has to encounter such a stressful situation again, but prepare her for the inevitable eventuality.

It's a lesson for everyone: Never argue with crazy people.

However, it is permissible to poke them with a stick.

But Then Again, You'll Have This . . .

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sometimes, You've Already Said It . . .

Two of my most favorite ladies in the world have made a startling discovery, but it’s only startling to them. To me and the rest of the people in our little circle of friends and acquaintances, this is old news.

That doesn’t make their discoveries any less noteworthy.

In honor of Marcy and Meghan, I’d like to dust off the following Vent, taken from But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .

Here’s my take on what you’re experiencing. I hope it properly conveys what I’m thinking, and how much I respect you both.

I’ll Add It to My Collection. . .

The other morning a woman approached me in the bookstore and asked about diet books. As we walked over to the section, she informed me that a friend had recommended one to her, but she couldn’t remember the exact title. Based on the limited information she gave me, I handed her a book by the author she mentioned. It’s one I’ve been selling a lot of lately, so I was reasonably sure it was the correct selection, although I did suggest she double check with her friend before making the purchase.

“That’s all right,” she said. “If it’s the wrong one, I’ll just add it to my collection.”

Her collection? Was I hearing this right? Was this woman saying that she collected diet books like Bill Clinton collects sexual harassment suits? And of course the next question sprung unbidden into my brain. Was she reading all these diet books, or was she just displaying them on the wall between the Shirley Temple Dishes and the Banana Republic Commemorative Thimble Set? I didn’t say anything more to the lady, but I was betting she could pass out Deal-A-Meal cards from a four-deck shoe.

Later that same day, I was talking to our babysitter while she waited for her ride. She was very anxious for her mother to arrive, so she could get home to prepare for a date. She told me that this would be her first date with this boy, and really, really couldn’t believe he had asked her out, because he was, as she put it, very gorgeous and a real sweetie. And just in case you guys have forgotten, “real sweetie” is some of the highest praise you can get from a sixteen-year-old girl.

Now perhaps I was more in tune on this subject because of my previous encounter with the Collector, but when I asked Mandi why she was surprised to be asked out by this junior stud-muffin, I figured I already knew the answer. And sure enough, I was right. “What would somebody like that want with someone like me?” she replied. And this from a girl my son thinks is a total babe. (I know this because he did a perfect Homer Simpson Woo Hoo the first time he met her). I tried to share my elderly wisdom with her, relating my own lamented high school years, and the truths my father had bestowed on me about so-called “unattractive” girls and the four or five years after graduation, but she just smiled, knowing in her mind that I was just an adult . . . what did I know?

Well, I can remember the days when a new girlfriend really didn’t gain official status until she was paraded in front of the other guys in the group and proclaimed, at least, cute. Many girls, whom I thought I would enjoy spending time with, were never even asked out, because of negative reactions from the rest of the pack, and these reactions, sadly, were always based on physical appearance. I’m not proud of this, but hey, you try thinking with a sixteen-year-old brain flooded with hormones.

The older, wiser me knows differently. What is important isn’t the physical, but the spiritual. And before you start accusing me of taking a weekend road trip with the Promise Keepers, let me elaborate:

The physical fades, the mental grows and the two balance each other out.

Ever since the birth of our daughter, my wife has obsessed about this little tummy she has. Even though she’s in no danger of playing Kanga without a costume in a revival of Pooh and Christopher Robin, you would think she has the Guinness people knocking down our door with a camera and a piano hoist. I learned a long time ago that any statements to the contrary by me will be dismissed as a loving, but dishonest, attempt to make her feel better. She has some need to be that same, rail-thin woman she was before the pregnancy. What she doesn’t realize is that to me, she still is.

Have you ever seen a completely mismatched couple? One of them looks like a runway escapee from a fashion show, and the other looks like an escapee from the pound. You’ve probably wondered, what the hell does he/she see in him/her, or he/she could do soooooooo much better than that. Have you done that? I know I have. Well, I think I’ve discovered the answer.

I’ve spent time with women who were truly gorgeous, and couldn’t hold up their end of a conversation with the previously mentioned piano hoist. I’ve been intimate with physically stunning ladies who had all the passion of a bowl of wet Ramen noodles. Conversely, I’ve had truly romantic evenings spent gazing at the sky with women who will never grace a magazine cover on a checkout stand, and been swept away in ecstasy by women who will never have the opportunity to share their turn-on’s and turn-off’s with Playboy readership. When the phone is answered or the lights go out, your eyes become secondary, and you can really see what matters.

Does the fact that my wife is an intelligent, witty, passionate and incredibly beautiful woman make me a hypocrite? No, I think it just makes me incredibly lucky.

And would I still love my wife if she suddenly gained two or three hundred pounds? Well, of course I would.

Except maybe not as often.

But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Sure Sign of the Apocalypse. . .

There was a package waiting in my mailbox today. When I opened it, I discovered this my contributor's copy for the book at the right.

Thou Shalt Not... is the initial offering from Dark Cloud Press, a small press specializing in horror without an abundence of sexual content or profane language. In addition to 36 phenomenal stories, it includes my short piece Our Souls Abide on This Ocean's Tide.

Now you see what I mean about the end of the world. . .

Seriously, this is a gorgeous book, the project was a dream and Lee Howard from Dark Cloud was a true professional who restored my wounded faith in Small Horror Publishers. No small feat on any front.

I'm sure this will be available from other sources eventually, but if you can't wait (and you can't, can you?) you can order a copy directly from Dark Cloud. 100,000 words for $17. That's a hell of a deal at twice the price.

Hell? Oops, I did it again.

But Then Again, You'll Have This. . .

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

But Then Again, You'll Hail Saten. . .

Bestselling Author Brian Keene, in addition to his Stoker Award-winning fiction, has a regular column that appears at the appropriately named Hail Saten. Mr. Keene has taken the last few weeks off for some deadline maintainence, and invited several authors to fill the pundit gap.

Anyone care to guess where this is going?

The link's been on the right side of this page since its inception, but if you haven't clicked it yet, I'll ask you to do so now.

You never know what you'll find.

But Then Again, You'll Have This...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Dickensian Serial, Part Three. . .

And then:

αποχαιρετιστήριος αποχαιρετιστήριος παχύς γάιδαρος.

Coming soon: Chicken and Beer!

But Then Again, You'll Have This. . .