Wednesday, September 24, 2014



For the better part of six months, no one has lived in the apartment units around us in any direction. In the past month, two of the adjacent unit have been let. 
The tenents across the hall are a father and son. 

I haven't asked them over for dinner because I don't like a lot of people and if I don't like him, I'll be stuck being nice to them until one of our leases are up. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Squirrel With Nerves Of Steel

When I pulled up in front of my apartment there was a squirrel walking across the stoop leading into the house. Overwhelmed by mischief, I honked the horn. Instead of scurrying off as quickly as tiny legs would carry, the squirrel moved slightly out of the way, stopped, quickly surveyed the area, assessed no danger, and continued the journey at the original leisurely pace.

It was amazing. A calculated response to overwhelming stimuli.

In everyday life, I usually try to employ similar restraint.  Two stories of scares gone boring spring to mind.

I was a part of a traveling music group in college. We drove to random churches, and church type functions, and sang for people. Usually, we were in nearby cities or small towns. Once, a church in the Poconos paid to have us drive three hours, stay in their homes and sing at their church. The whole experience with the group was a lot of fun.

For a particular concert we were called out to Absolutely Nowhere, Pennsylvania. I suppose I shouldn’t categorize it as Nowhere. A better name for the place we ended up would be, Setting-Of-a-Horror-Film, Pennsylvania. We survived the drive past tree and shacks that looked like they were snatched right out of Scooby-Doo episodes. The concert went well. I even seem to recall delicious food being served.

As I walked out of the building, and started down the steps leading to the parking lot, a hand grabbed my ankle from beneath the stairs. I was startled, but the only indication of that was a slight pause in my breathing. I looked around, and quickly realized that the rest of my team was looking at me, and not with any measurable concern. Rather, they all had more expectant looks on their faces. And, one member of the team was notably absent. I sighed, and just waited. Eventually, the hand got bored and withdrew. “Dang it Morris, you’re far too calm.”

 The second story is similar. A few friends and I were exploring the mostly empty house that an acquaintance had just bought. Being a clothes and fashion guy, I circled around to the front closet. When I opened it, two of my friends shouted, “Boo,” or some variant thereof. Despite the mild fright it gave me, I managed to stare blankly into their faces as their fright inducing poses were rendered more and more ridiculous. “Well... now this is just awkward,” one of them intoned as they slid past me.

I like to think that, as opposed to defying the evolutionary imperative to escape a potential threat, the squirrel was getting even with me on behalf of those three people, and the host of others who have failed to elicit a reaction to their scare tactics. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hashtag Furgeson

I asked for a blog post prompt. I was really hoping to get a hilarious prompt and I got Ferguson. So, not the cotton candy piece I was angling for.  That's okay too. I'm not going to research. Or even look up anything I don't already know. I've followed the story to a very limited extent. But, I know the basics of the inciting incident, and the ongoing fallout.

Here's the thing. For me there's nothing special about Ferguson.
The exact measure to which I value and appreciate the police, I fear them. I don't speed when I drive. When I hop on the highway, I settle into the slow lane, set my cruise control on the exact number posted on the often disregarded "limit" signs, and soldier on to my destination without the illusion of control. Because speeding to make up for lost time isn't actually likely to get you where you need to go, any sooner than the 15 miles per hour sooner you would have had if you'd sped. Because travel isn't uniform and the little slowdowns, the tiny equalizers, traffic lights on an intersectioned part of the highway, the side-by-side semis forming a rolling roadblock balance it out, and give me enough time, it's an illusion I surrendered without much of a fight, for a lot of different reasons. The biggest reason, is that I don't know what lay behind the mirrored lenses of the aviator sunglasses which seem to come standard with the highway patrol badge.

Have you ever been pulled over for playing your music too loud?
Have you ever been pulled over for doing 67mph in a 65mph Speed Limit?
How many times have you had to exit your car and "agree" to a search of your vehicle?
Have you ever been followed around a small town by what you imagine is its only police cruiser?

OK, maybe those were a bit unfair. Let me dial it back a bit.

Do store clerks and security guards follow you around stores and public places?
Do you get asked to speak on behalf of your entire race?
Do you constantly feel like you are representing your race?
Do people in their cars, lock their doors if you walk near their cars?
Do women adjust the grip or switch sides of their purse, when you pass them on the street or share an elevator?

But, let's get back to Furgeson. It's awful. But, it's not the exception. It's the rule. When you acquit civilian citizens who kill unarmed black men, how much more emboldened would actual agents of the state become? It's a completely horrible, but totally logical progression.

Are you ready for the left turn?

This is how "Terrorists" are created. People feel victimized by the powers, and utterly helpless to change the system from the inside. And, when protests are met with a militarized police force (one representative of more and more municipalities) a violent spiral is the natural conclusion. Not the right one, the natural one.

This post is part stream-of-consciousness, and part stuff I've reflected on for a while. So, if it doesn't have a conclusion, sorry. If you think I'm wrong, tough. If you want to chat, cool. If you think I'm saying stuff that doesn't have to do with Furgeson... You're probably not black.

Anyway, I'm done for the night. I may pick this back up in a day or two when I'm not tired or distracted.
But, I wanted to rise to my friend's challenge.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pick a Cover

UPDATE: So, after looking at my blog on my phone, I realized that you can't access the actual survey from the mobile version. So, put your pick in the comments and thanks again for your help.

For those of you who didn't know, I designed the current iteration of my cover of my book. As much pride as I take in my work, graphic design isn't really my area of expertise. I had a few covers made up by this awesome designer (Angie Zambrano). They're kinda awesome. So, here's the deal. I honestly don't know what cover to go with. I was hoping you could help me.

Here are the two new cover possibilities:

Over on sidebar vote for a new cover for my book. You'd be doing me a big favor.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Media Recommendation: The Colony by Michaelbrent Collings

As a general rule, I'm not a big fan of zombie stories. This makes me very unlikely to pick up anybody's  zombie novel. But, I was (re re) listening to The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast and heard Michaelbrent Collings, author of  The Colony book series. His conversational tone was engaging, and if he brought that attitude to bear in his writing, then even a zombie novel may be worth my efforts. I'm glad I took the shot.

One of the major frustrations I experience when consuming zombie media, is that it usually comes down to a "man vs. nature" story. Zombies as purposeless eaters are either uncompelling as antagonists, or a thinly veiled backdrop to a "man vs. man" tale, or as Collings describes it, "... then it becomes all about the rapey governor or the rapey priest, or the weird guy next door." Collings story is genuinely, man vs. zombie. Although, he makes it clear, that the zombies seem to be darkly orchestrated.

Collings is a bit of a realist when it comes to the depths of chaos into which first world societies would be plunged if half of the population was turned into zombies in a matter of seconds. Even the smallest progressions would be fraught with peril, and crossing town would be the work of a novel. And, that's exactly what he does in, The Colony: Genesis. Very few breaks in the action. If you're the person who needs a lull to make you put down the book... you're going to read it in one sitting.

For all the expected moments of drama, and action, Collings still manages to deliver a few good sarcastic laughs.

"He looked like he had just happened along in between college classes. Or during a break at a fashion photo shoot. As though the impending end of the world was something that probably inconvenienced him, but not to the point that he would leave without doing his hair."

If you enjoy action packed writing about everyday-type heroes and don't mind the zombie catalyst (and maybe even if you do mind a little), I, surprisingly, recommend The Colony: Genesis. But it is part of a series... so prepare to lose a few consecutive evenings... and maybe a weekend.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Romancing the Hilarity...Available NOW!!

From my newly released book, 

Romancing the Hilarity (Available now on in print* and on e-reader):

The Birds


The Bees

To paraphrase The Late Mitch Hedberg (may he rest in peace), I used to be a nerd. I still am, but I used to be, too. When I was about ten, I started to get curious. While Kevin McCallister and my peers were rummaging through the locked chests and sock drawers of their older brothers and fathers, I wasn’t.[1] I waited until no one was around, walked into our living room, pulled out the “S” volume of our family’s 1992 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia and flipped it open to “Sex.” I read the following, “See: Sexual Intercourse.” BAM!! I learned something already. So after turning to “Sexual Intercourse,” I read the article, and learned that it had something to do with “privates” and… really, I didn’t get anything useful out of it. Thanks a lot World Book Encyclopedia Company.

In the fifth grade, my parents sent me to a little Christian school. If you went to a Christian school, it was just like you remember. If you didn’t it was basically the movie Saved! without the pregnant girl, the Jewish girl, or the kid in the wheelchair; which is a shame, ‘cause they were awesome and would have made my school experience way more exciting.[2] Marilyn Manson did go to my school, but that was before my time. And, there once was a sex scandal, but that was after my time. So while I was there, the only thing notable about the school was that it was a Christian school— still rather noteworthy when you have to tackle something like Sex Ed. It’s also a big deal when you have a science class where you can’t ask questions about evolution. But, in middle school, Sex Ed seemed way more important.

In the sixth grade, my classmates and I had the opportunity to study the book, Preparing for Adolescence, by Dr. James Dobson.  Now, if you’re not familiar with him, Dr. Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family, who left that ultra-conservative organization to found another more conservative organization with even less oversight and academic accountability. Along the way, this guy wrote a book about our bodies, the changes within, and the emotions associated with them.[3] It could pretty much be summed up as: Chew ice chips and pray until you get married; because if you touch yourself or have sex before you get married, you’ll become the next Ted Bundy, and the state of Florida will put you down like a dog and your soul will burn. And, I’m paraphrasing.

Early on in our study of this book, our teacher, Mr. T, opened up the floor for preliminary questions. “Ask about whatever,” he said. His proposal met with deafening silence. It’s not that we weren’t interested; it’s just that this particular teacher had a little bit of a temper. He didn’t respond well to things he didn’t like. One day when the class was a little restless, Mr. T  famously slammed a textbook on a table and shouted, “Shut the door!” to one of the other students. The book slam was more striking than it may have been otherwise because of his reddening face and the bulging veins. You could see him choking back far harsher language and a much louder yell. It really came out, “SHUT THE…DOOR!!”And for the WASPy[*]* kids in that class, that was quite overwhelming. But, this same “Shut-the-door” man wanted us to ask him any question we wanted, about puberty? We passed on that offer. But as a teacher, he couldn’t let it go. He called out a specific student by name. “[Student] I can tell you have a question, just ask it.”

“No Thanks.”

“Just ask!”

“I really don’t feel…”

“[Student] ask your question!”

My classmate looks down at his desk and mutters.

“What was that?” Mr. T demands.

“When I get married, will I stop having wet dreams?”

The room actually managed to go even quieter as Mr. T sent one of the five iciest glares I’ve witnessed across the room to the student.

“Get out… just, go to the office, right now…”

And, that in a nutshell was my Sex Ed experience in a Christian private school.

Well…If the private school system fails you, you can always turn to your family, right? The “birds and the bees” talk wasn’t one of the things which I looked forward to having. It’s not that my dad isn’t a good dude. In fact, he’s one of the better people I know. He’s thoughtful, helpful, and does well with most of the basic dad stuff. He taught me how to throw a football, change my oil, and tie a tie. But romance?  Not his strong suit—nor were the emotions that went along with it. So, telling me about women and sex and all that jazz was going to be as tough as a horsefly filling in on a bee’s day off.

While reading a book in my room one summer afternoon just prior to high school, I was surprised when my dad walked in. It wasn’t necessarily surprising that he was in my room, but he was fairly good about knocking. The fact that he didn’t, now worried me more than a little. He loomed uncomfortably in my doorway for a few moments, while I bookmarked my spot with my finger. “Well…,” he began, “you’re old enough that you have probably figured your own attitudes on dating and stuff like that.”

“I guess,” I responded shrugging into my book and avoiding eye contact while bracing for what would likely be the most awkward conversation of my life to that point.

“Well, okay then,” he said. Then as suddenly as he’d come, he was gone.
And that, in a nutshell, was the rest of my experience with Sex Ed.

I’m not entirely sure how I made it to adulthood.

* To get the 50% off please use the code, and this link. 
[*]White Anglo-Saxon Protestant

[1] Home Alone. Dir. Chris Columbus. By John Hughes. Perf. Macaulay Culkin. 20th Century Fox, 1990. Videocassette.
In his defense, Kevin wasn’t exploring sex, he was just nosing around his brother’s abandoned room being grossed out by naked women.

[2] Saved! Dir. Brian Dannelly. By Brian Dannelly and Michael Urban. Perf. Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Eva Amurri. United Artists, 2004. Film.
I wish this movie was more hyperbolic.

[3] Dobson, James. Preparing for Adolescence. Ventura, California: Regal, 1989. Print.

Friday, July 11, 2014

That's On You...Sorta.

I was driving down a 4-lane highway and a tow truck was on the shoulder. Above the rear window, partly obscured by the winch, and partly faded by time, was some message. My proximity and curiosity grew quickly, and as I passed the truck, narrowly avoiding its side view mirror, my brain finished processing the message. "The, 'Slow Down, Move Over Law' applies to tow trucks." I think he should find a better way to get the word out on that particular issue.