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Election Year.

Analysts are stumped by this year’s election with a confirmed three-way tie between the major candidates. Even with the end of the campaign in sight it’s too soon to tell who the final winner will be.

election1As we go into the home stretch here’s a refresher on the candidates.


Boo Berry

Hometown: Bangor, Maine

Boo Berry has been making a strong push for affordable housing and stricter standards for the textile industry. He would also like to see the repeal of the 22nd Amendment and an embargo on all cheese from Belgium.



election4Franken Berry

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Franken Berry’s primary issues are healthcare and energy security, a bride, and the restoration of ’80’s hairstyles for women.  He would also like it made clear that in spite of the shared last names he and Boo Berry are not related. Within his first one hundred days in office he plans to create a whole new system of organ donations.






election3Count Chocula

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky

Count Chocula’s largest concerns are Social Security and better care for the elderly. He also wants to promote improved relations with Romania. His lawyers say this does not represent a conflict of interest in spite of his massive holdings there. He wants broad reform of the Executive Branch, a thorough examination of all trade agreements, and an embargo on all asparagus from Hungary. He hopes for his legacy to be full voting rights for birds.





One of these three is expected to win in spite of a widespread write-in campaign for Yummy Mummy (Memphis, TN) and Fruit Brute (Poughkeepsie, NY) and also reports of candidates offering cash in exchange for votes.

All candidates approve this message and contain eight essential vitamins and minerals, promise to stay crispy in milk, and are part of this complete democracy.



Zombie Survival Guide.

Worried about the zombie apocalypse? Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind that will help you stay safe and allow you to continue your existence in the nightmarish world of the animated deceased.

  1. At all costs protect your head and neck.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Mindless wandering is a path to destruction.
  3. Slow and stealthy is the key.
  4. Whenever possible attack from behind. If this isn’t possible move on.
  5. Keep an eye on stairs. What goes up must come down.
  6. Fire is bad for everybody.
  7. Every weapon has a weakness. Bats and blades only work at close range. Guns need reloading.
  8. Good places: farmhouses, abandoned shopping malls. Bad places: open fields, military bases.
  9. Go with the right crowd. Between thirty and fifty will give you good cover. More and you’ll have too much competition.
  10. No vehicle is a safe vehicle. This is especially true of helicopters.
  11. Traffic will not stop for you. In many cases cars will aim right for you.
  12. Don’t get sentimental. Friends and family are now food.
  13. Use your brain to get their brains. Their tasty, tasty brainssss…leaving

Give ‘Em A Hand.

handIt was a dark, but not stormy, night, which was a good thing because it had also been a long night at the pub and I was feeling a little dizzy as I got into the cab. I was thrilled to see that Big Dave was driving. I’ve mentioned Big Dave the cab driver previously and it was always fun to ride with him, especially at night when he seemed even more inclined to tell an interesting story. As we left Grantham behind and drifted into Lincolnshire countryside he jerked the wheel hard into a turn.

“Sorry about that,” he said. “I think the hairy hand got hold of me for a moment.”

The sharp turn had brought everything into focus and I sat forward.

“What’s the hairy hand?”

“A legend. More a Devonshire story really but I think you’ll hear it anywhere there’s a lot of accidents. People say they’ve been seized by a ghost hand and that’s what caused them to go off the road.”

“And it’s hairy.”


We both laughed. Adolescent warnings of hairy palms crossed my mind but I also thought of disembodied hands in film. For most people I suspect The Addams Family comes to mind, and I really do think there should have been a special Academy Award For Best Performance By A Disembodied Extremity given in 1990 for that performance. There’s also an odd but fun anime film, Vampire Hunter D, in which the hero’s hand can detach itself and go off on its own. In between those is Bruce Campbell’s runaway hand in Evil Dead 2. And then there’s Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors, a British horror film I first saw as a teenager. It’s stayed with me because it’s an anthology of stories including one about an artist and a critic. The late great Christopher Lee plays the art critic who trashes an artist’s work and then is terrorized by the artist’s dismembered hand. As an amateur art critic myself I take it as a warning.

It’s a fun film and I wonder if that part of it was inspired by hairy hand legends. Or maybe there’s just something about the hand that makes us think of it taking on a life of its own.

So Right, So Long.


I learned about Kevin Meaney from Dr. Katz Professional Therapist where he was a “patient” so it’s fittingly ironic that I would learn about his passing from a bona fide therapist, the amazing Ann Koplow, who mentioned Meaney’s sudden loss on her blog The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally. She’s also a regular visitor her which tickles me because she’s been lucky enough to know and work with some amazingly funny people, but that’s another story.

For many comedians of Kevin Meaney’s generation–he was born April 23rd, 1956–there was a distinct career trajectory: develop six good minutes of material, do Carson (later Letterman), get a sitcom. Movies and more fame would inevitably follow, but the idea seemed to be to get off the stage, out of the small dark clubs.

Was that Meaney’s ambition? Maybe. On his album That’s Not Right–which I was very lucky to find a copy of a few years ago in a music store–he impersonates his wife and mother, imagining both of them responding to some of his jokes with “That’s not right!” and his wife worrying that some of his jokes will alienate so many people “We’re going to lose the house!” He also talks about his hilarious and edgy Aunt Rose who I think was his inspiration for going into comedy. It seems like the stuff of a sitcom, but I prefer to think Meaney didn’t want to go that route. I hope he enjoyed working the clubs, alternately winning and alienating audiences.

He did briefly play the lead on the sitcom Uncle Buck which was panned and quickly canceled as well as working for several TV shows. He also did a really funny promo for Comedy Central, impersonating his mother saying, “Why do you have to do commercials for Comedy Central? Your brothers don’t do commercials for Comedy Central!” The promo ended with the tagline, “We’ve got every comedian and their mother.”

He also had a complicated personal life, openly admitting he was gay after he and his wife had been married for ten years and had a daughter.

I used to have That’s Not Right loaded on my iPhone and it would tickle me to play music on shuffle, to go from a song to Kevin Meaney yelling “I’m a dirty boy!” During some upgrade it slipped off and it’s been too long since I listened to it.

That’s not right.

Hail and farewell, Kevin Meaney.


The Invaders.

“Well, toadface, what do you think we are, a bunch of homebodies? Humans have had space i travel for less than two hundred years, but we’ve settled almost twice as many planets as the Dracs—”
Jerry held up a finger. “Exactly! You humans spread like a disease. Enough! We don’t want you here!”

Enemy Mine

Whether intentionally or by accident we move into their territory.

alien1Conflict is inevitable. We can’t say whether it’s because of our differences or because we have so much in common.

alien2We want the same things. We need the same things.


In the end who’s really the invader here?

Nightmare On My Street.

I take Halloween seriously. That’s why I went to a professional haunted house on the night of a full moon. Also my wife drove because it was a pretty good distance, in Madison, Tennessee, which is north of Nashville and she was concerned I’d get lost and end up in Madison, Wisconsin, which is entirely possible. She also waited in the car with a stack of books and her knitting because haunted houses aren’t really her thing. Her reasons for marrying a guy with a fairly dark and twisted imagination whose favorite holiday is Halloween may have something to do with the saying that opposites attract, but that’s another story.

nightmare1When I was a kid I loved haunted houses, although the only ones I knew were amateur productions put on by Boy Scout troops and church youth groups. My first acting gig was for one. My parents recorded about ten minutes of me screaming “Help me! Help me!” The tape player was then put on top of a refrigerator to give people the idea that there was a small child trapped inside. The scariest thing about that might be that parents would record the mock-suffocation of one of their own, but I really got into it and still smile whenever I see an old refrigerator.

In my adolescence I’d also be a live performer in amateur haunted houses, one year as a demonic spider creature in a web-filled lair, the next year as a mad scientist in a room full of beakers, test tubes, and approximately five tons of dry ice. I didn’t care that it was a lot of work and lost money, but I was the only one. My church youth group never put on another haunted house.

nightmare7Professional haunted houses have been around for a while in various locations–Nashville Nightmare has been putting on exhibits for six years now–and I’ve always been intrigued but this was my first time to go to one. I had no idea what to expect. Well, from my amateur days I did expect that I’d be part of a group that would walk through a series of rooms with horrific scenes and the occasional costumed character who’d jump out at me. And I was right, but there was so much more. There was a maze built out of hanging sheets where an evil clown jumped out at people trying to find their way out. There were costumed characters wandering around. There were small children although no refrigerators. There was a gift shop.

nightmare2 nightmare3 nightmare4 nightmare5 nightmare6The whole thing was glorious sensory overload for any Halloween fan.

I went through all four exhibits—starting with Horror High where I was joined by a guy and his young son. The guy was a haunted house veteran. It was his son’s first time. We got separated in the dark tunnels of Industrial Undead, but they seemed to be having fun.

Next was Night Terrors–the most traditional of the group–and of course I saved Fairy Tale Hell, the very best, for last.

As I meandered through a bloody Snow White asked me, “Do you have an apple for the queen? No? Then perhaps your heart.”

It was tempting but my heart belongs to another, back in the car. And I think the queen and I share too much to be a good match. You know the old saying: opposites attract.

Although it’s nice to have friends who also take Halloween seriously.




Haint Misbehavin’.

nightbus1… damned spirits all,

That in cross-ways and floods have burial…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Sc.2

The Greyhound bus was packed. This was unusual, especially for the late run that left the station at 10pm. I’d been close to the front of the line so I’d snagged a window seat, which I preferred, but I was also close to the driver so I could also see out the front window. I wasn’t paying attention to the bus filling up until a man spoke to me.

“Is this seat taken?”

He wore a tweed jacket, a purple shirt, jeans, and a badly beaten leather hat with a large feather sticking out of it. He also had on dark glasses. A long gray beard trailed down, almost obscuring his bolo tie.

I said no and he sat down.

“I didn’t think it was taken but I asked anyway out of courtesy. Courtesy matters, especially to me. I’m an old hippie.”

He held out his hand and I shook it, wondering if I’d misheard that last part. Maybe “Old Hippie” was his name.

We chatted a little bit and then both got quiet. I read and he put his head back. I assumed he was asleep until I heard him say something.

“What was that?” I asked.

“We passed through a haint,” he said. “In the road. “At night whenever you pass through a foggy patch in the road that’s a haint and you should say the words to protect yourself:

Stay away, haint, stay away haint,

Your soul is damned but mine ain’t.

I thought he was kidding but he looked so serious I didn’t question it. I watched the road ahead. There are many low places where small patches of fog collect on cool, humid nights. The next time we passed through one I repeated the words with him. If nothing else I thought it would be courteous to do so.

I’m an old skeptic now but whenever I’m driving through the night and pass through a patch of fog I still repeat those words.

Stay away, haint, stay away haint,

Your soul is damned but mine ain’t.

Auto Da Fe.

carskullTechnically this isn’t graffiti. In fact it’s not even art, although as Gilly Maddison has pointed out the question, What is art? is a thorny one that’s occupied artists and philosophers since at least the early 20th century although the term “art” could be applied to almost anything. How do you sort out what’s art and what isn’t? Well, there’s an art to it…

Anyway, what you see here is a trick of the light. The sun hit this car just right so it produced a projection that looks like—well, what does it look like to you? Remember that this is entirely subjective and a matter of opinion but if you said anything other than a skull then you’re wrong.

skullsSkulls have been a popular subject in art possibly as long as there has been art. The iconography of skulls is wide and varied although they usually represent death. Death has also long been a popular subject in art. As Spinal Tap’s manager Ian Faith said, “Death sells!” Death also smells which makes it even more baffling than Smell The Glove’s sales stank in spite of the all-black cover but that’s another story.

If you don’t see a skull please share what you think you see in the comments below. And if you do see a skull maybe it’s because it’s that time of year. October is the month of Halloween, a celebration that, even in some early pagan traditions, was considered a time when the division between the living and the dead was narrowed. It was, and still is, a time of transition. In the northern hemisphere it’s autumn, the time of harvest and the beginning of hibernation, a time of death.

So if you see death in that picture that’s understandable because this is a time of year when death is on many peoples’ minds. The disturbing thing is I took the picture in April. Why death was on my mind in the spring is, to paraphrase something said by Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, a mystery best left unsolved.


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