Sunday, May 9, 2021


 I can't stand almost every cologne meant for men. They're always overpowering and strong and disgusting, a lot like Axe Body Spray. I don't know why anyone wears this shit. When I was a lot younger I chose my own scent which was very understated and barely detectable.

But for some reason every store everywhere stopped selling it. I hunted up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start. No one had it. I had to go online to continue buying the only masculine scent I give a fuck about. I've been doing so for the past few years. It sucks, but there you go.

British Sterling is amazing. It's not offensive in power. I could probably pour a bottle over my head and no one would notice. It smells good but it doesn't overpower. It's like Baby Bear's porridge: Just Right.

I have used this cologne every day of my life, sometimes twice a day. A friend who has known me for decades once hugged me. Surprised, she backed away. "You smell good." As if she'd never smelled my cologne before. I suppose that's the danger to using an understated scent. But it's a price I'm willing to pay.

Because fuck all those horribly awful smells that the cologne industry tries to sell men, thinking that everyone wants to smell like a 'Seventies shag rug. I'll take understated elegance any day.

OK, this is a weird GF to get from me, but I was thinking about Charles Bronson. That's what led me to thinking about my scent. If you've never seen this ridiculous commercial, you should watch.

Saturday, May 8, 2021


 I can write under any conditions and have over the last few decades. I'm fond of saying that I'm sure I could write in a war zone. I've never tested it and don't really want to, but I'm sure I could do it. But writing with music is very helpful. I try to tailor said music for each project.

The first for-real novel I wrote (not just something I threw together in high school) had a protagonist obsessed with old time rock songs. His father was an abusive Elvis impersonator, and the character never put two and two together as to why he loved that kind of music so much. While writing this book--which will never see the light of day, in case you're wondering--I listened to a lot of Elvis. Chuck Berry. Buddy Holly. Roy Orbison.

When I wrote STRIP I listened to the kind of rock you might hear in a strip club. AC/DC. GNR. Whitesnake. I also listened to the kind of rock you might hear in a honky tonk. George Thorogood in particular.

POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS needed wall to wall punk music. From Sex Pistols to Dead Kennedys. Anyone who read that book is probably thinking, yeah, no shit. Those influences came right through.

While writing the short bizarro novel I just finished, I listened to the score for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It gave me the exact feeling I wanted for the story to go. And while rewriting my splatter western, I listened to the score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (and if I was still writing when it ended, I'd go over to A Few Dollars More).

For the splatter SF I'm currently editing, I listened to weird spacy music. Shit that wouldn't make a lot of sense unless you were thinking with the distant future in mind.

So yeah. I believe that the music you listen to while writing not only helps, but it gets into your mind and inspires. I highly recommend the process.

Friday, May 7, 2021



So whenever I find one of my top five favorite books of all time in the wild, I buy it with the intention of passing it to someone who would really appreciate it. Not too long ago I found one of them at the Frugal Muse down in Darien. The Midnight Road by Tom Piccirilli.

So I bought it and brought it home. I'm thinking one of you here would like it. So I'll give it to you for free. I'll even pay for the shipping. The book is in perfect condition. All you have to do is tell me why you feel you should have this book. You can talk about it in the comments below. You can DM me on Facebook or Twitter. If you have my phone number, send me a text. I'll pick one lucky winner and send it out to you.

And you'll love this book. Just wait and see.


 Whenever life fucks me over, I try my absolute best to make sure that it doesn't get the chance to do the same thing to me again. This is an idea that took about three and a half decades for me to come to. It led me to imagining worst case scenarios and thinking of ways to avoid them.

For example, my previous car had a nasty habit of dying on me at unexpected times. In all cases but one, I have no idea why. That one case was because I'd left the dome light on accidentally overnight. Whoops. But because of this, I now carry a jumper pack in my trunk. I charge it up once a month, per the instruction booklet. Just in case. Also, for some reason my front passenger side tire always lost air. Inexplicably. No matter how new the tire was. It could have just been put on, and a week later it was flat. So I have an air compressor in my trunk, too. And a tent, should I ever be stuck somewhere without shelter. And a compass in case I got lost and didn't have a signal on my phone. And an axe. For . . . reasons. Let's leave it at that.

I also hide money all over the place. Just in case. It's not a lot. Just a $20 bill here and there. One is in my console in the car. One is in my jacket pocket. Etc. This is in case I forget my wallet at home. This has happened a couple of times, and my secret money stashes saved me.

Whenever I travel abroad (by car, that is), I carry two things with me: a Harley-Davidson knife built so it is impossible to leave fingerprints on it and a blackjack. The former is legal as the blade is shorter than the width of my palm. The latter is not. I carry them for protection because when you're on a road trip, you have no idea what might happen. Or WHO might happen. So far I've never used either one, and I hope that continues.

At my previous job I had to ride the train every day. One morning I didn't lift my foot far enough up for the top step into the train. I tripped and fell down the other side, hitting my ankle. I got to a seat, and it hurt, but not too bad. When I got to the office I checked on it, shocked to see how much blood had run down my leg. A friend noticed, and he (being a former Marine) got his first aid kit and got me cleaning and bandaging supplies. So guess who carries a small first aid kit wherever he goes now? *hooks both thumbs back to myself*

I'm trying to ease off of alcohol with cannabis. I've heard a lot of horror stories about seizures or seeing shit that isn't there. Hell, I've gone through the latter rather extensively. Never had a seizure, though, so I'm wary of it. Obviously I keep alcohol at home just in case, but I carry an emergency supply of Wild Turkey 101 airplane bottles whenever I go outside. Just in case I start to feel weird without having alcohol in my system. I haven't needed them yet, but it's good to know I have them.

No, I wasn't a Boy Scout. I was, however, a Cub Scout. Regardless, I took their slogan to heart. BE PREPARED.

So that brings me to my COVID vaccination. I'd heard very few stories about bad side effects from the first dose, so I didn't worry too much about it. My arm hurt a little for the rest of the day, and the day after I was fine. The second dose, on the other hand, I'd heard a lot of horror stories regarding side effects. Horrible sickness a day or two long. I suspected I'd be fine. I usually am. I used to get horribly sick one time a year, always the same time. Now I don't get that kind of sick ever. My body has turned against me in my middle age, and it's been too busy doing this that it didn't bother getting regular sick. Just life-threateningly sick.

This is probably because I've treated my body like garbage. A lot of people are quick to point out my ability to drink shocking amounts of alcohol, but that's fairly new in the grand scheme of my life. From early on I made it clear to those around me that I would not eat fruits or vegetables, that I would go out of my way to eat unhealthy things because those actually tasted good. I still do this today. If salad is so great, why is there salad dressing? One way or the other, no thank you. You can have my salad.

I have had just about 40 years of fast food pass through me. To say nothing of the Coca-Cola and Monster I drink constantly. I'm trying to quit caffeine again, by the way. When I beat it, I intend to also quit sugary drinks (except for my morning Tang). But that doesn't change the fact that my body is more of a dumpster than a temple.

I think it worked out in my favor, though, for the second dose. My body is used to filth, so the virus probably didn't stand a chance of making me really sick. It might have even helped that I had an edible and three glasses of whiskey last night to fend it off. I woke up fine this morning. The worst of it was yesterday when my arm hurt like all hell. Part of being prepared for the second dose was also having a shit-ton of NyQuil and DayQuil on hand. I took the NyQuil before bed, just in case.

My mouth is pretty dry today, but that could just be the abuse I put my body through last night. I got through this one pretty easily, I'm glad to say. If my body was just used to being trash and took care of COVID almost as an after thought, then I could probably say that I've spent my life being prepared for just this occasion.

Yeah, yeah, all right. I'm just bullshitting here. Probably.

Hey, for those who read to the very end, thanks for sticking with me so far. I didn't intend to link to that Tom Lehrer song when I first started writing this. But I also found another video of his that I thought might interest you. While everyone else in the 'Eighties were thinking only of pop music and cocaine, I was overwhelmed by fears of a nuclear cleansing of the human race. Give this song a listen.

Thursday, May 6, 2021


 Remember a while back when I was lifting weights and one of my arms couldn't take it anymore while my other kept going strong? I don't recall if I mentioned how much pain I was in the day after or how that pain has not stopped since. We're maybe a month and a half in on this one, and it's still bothering me. It hurts the worst when I try to pick something up with that hand. I've been icing it and putting Icyhot on it and gobbling aspirin. Nothing helps much except icing it, and that only works for a half an hour.

My doctor sent me to a specialist. He said that she only works on upper extremities. Only right arms. I suspected he was fucking with me a bit on that one, and he glanced over to see if I bought it. "That last part is a joke," he said. "That's the way specialists are. Like an eye doctor who only works on left eyes."

Anyway, I got the referral and saw the specialist. After less than two minutes of examining me she came to the conclusion that I have . . . wait. This is a pretty good joke. I'm maybe the least athletic person you know. I don't play sports. Hell, I don't even watch sports. OK, I played baseball when I was a kid, but I only did that because I thought that was what people expected of me.

But tennis? Fuck that. The only time I've ever played tennis was when I was forced to for a week in PE in high school.

So here I am, almost forty-three years old, and I have tennis elbow. Fucking tennis elbow!

I'd heard of it before. I thought it was kind of a silly thing to get. Boy, was I wrong. This fucking thing hurts like hell. Not too long ago I found myself in a position where I needed a morphine shot, and it didn't even touch the pain in my elbow.

So yeah, it's a cosmic joke, but it's a pretty painful one. The specialist told me to come back in a month if it doesn't go away. I even wear this brace around my elbow, which helps but not significantly. I think I'll be going back sooner. And I'll be demanding better drugs. I got this shit at immediate care that claimed to be an opioid, but it did not help in the slightest. Once again I find myself in need of Vicodin. The last time I went down this path it led to heroin. I still maintain that was not a mistake. It's a wonder drug that has been dragged down into the mud. All the same, I'd rather not go that far down this path again. It would be nice to go a day without nearly screaming because I accidentally hit my bad elbow. Or I tried to pick something up. Or I simply didn't do anything and it hurt like hell anyway.

Just one day. That's all I ask.


Monday, May 3, 2021


 I remember I was in junior high when this happened. I'd been visiting my dad in Vegas, and there was something playing on TV. I think it was a Gay Pride Parade. Or maybe it was a protest. I don't remember exactly, but one way or the other it was about gay people trying to be accepted and treated fairly.

My dad looked at me, pointing to the screen. "You believe this? All these gays want rights. Kind of stupid, isn't it?"

At the time I was no longer being physically abused by my stepfather, but it was still fresh in my mind. If I disagreed with him, that earned me a beating. It was seared into me to the point where I did everything possible to avoid that beating. I did that with every adult because I thought that would keep me the safest. So that's what I did with my dad that day. Though I firmly believed in their cause, I lied to my dad and agreed with him.

"You don't really believe that, do you?" he asked.

I hesitated, and I felt suddenly like I'd been caught in a trap. I should have taken into consideration that my own father had only ever struck me twice, and both times I deserved it. And they weren't like the beatings I got on a regular basis at home. Each time it was one swat to the butt, more shameful than anything that really hurt. But I should have thought about that. Sometimes it was OK to trust adults. And because of my self-preserving deep distrust I got caught in the trap.

I told him no, I didn't believe that. Much to his relief. I think he was testing me. He wanted to see what kind of a person his flesh and blood was becoming. He didn't really know me all that well, after all. When he still lived near Chicago he had custody on a regular basis, and what I remembered most were the times we hung out and watched Three Stooges and monster movies and read MAD Magazine and Tales From the Crypt and, one of the more formative things in my life, watching movies that had the occasional nudity in them. Everyone else always made me turn my head or close my eyes, but Dad never did. I was always grateful to him for that.

Then he moved out west, and our connection faded a bit. Now puberty was hitting pretty bad, and that's the point where people start to decide who they're going to be for the rest of their lives. Dad probably wanted to get a read on me.

And I learned this lesson pretty well, I think. Throughout the rest of my childhood I was still wary of some adults, but I was a bit more trusting when I thought I could be. And I never lied about a social belief again. I'm pretty sure that if I was faced with an ass-kicking now for daring to say gays should have rights, I'd probably not back down. Then again, I'm a lot bigger and stronger now than I was when I was a kid.

Sunday, May 2, 2021



I love notebooks. Always have. Every year just before school started, I'd con my grandparents into getting me extra notebooks, just in case. I even love those stupid spiral notebooks that usually fell apart pretty quickly or the wire would warp so you couldn't open it properly. To this day I still buy all kinds of notebooks that I will probably never use. Like the one above. My version has a different design on the cover, but otherwise it looks just like that. Handmade. You can still see the wood pulp in the paper. For some reason I thought I'd gotten it at the Bristol Ren Faire. Nope. Looking back I actually picked it up at Wizard World Chicago back when I still went to that wretched con. I still haven't used this notebook. I'm saving it for something special. I will probably write in it using my quill pen.

While still in high school I started writing my stories--the ones I would actually submit to fiction magazines--on these yellow legal pads. I was possibly inspired by Thad Beaumont in The Dark Half. I wrote in pencil--Black Warriors, not Black Beauties--and I was always happy with the result. I may one day return to this practice.

Then I started writing a nightly journal in composition notebooks. I felt I'd really classed myself up with this move. I used to write with Pilot Precise pens, but those wound up pissing me off because the tips were so easy to bend or break. Now I use a Uniball whenever writing in my journal. I rarely do this anymore because I write Goodnight, Fuckers instead.

I'm a huge fan of Field Notes, even though I only recently figured out what to do with one of them. I write down my ideas for Goodnight, Fuckers! In fact, Notebooks I Have Loved is written in my Field Notes. These were used by reporters back in the day. Watch on old fashioned black and white movie, and you will see reporters hounding City Hall while scribbling madly into these things. Sometimes I fantasize that I'm doing just that while writing in this thing.

I love a good Moleskine notebook. Hell, they're all good. I have one in which I write story ideas. Many of the books of mine you've enjoyed/despised had their starts in this notebook. I also got a Moleskine pen to go with it, but I stopped using it because it does not have a natural feel. Pens are supposed to be rounded for comfort, not squared so you kill your fingers every time you use one. Inspired by Warren Ellis on this one. Yeah, he suffered the consequences of his unsavory actions, and I'm glad he did, but credit where it's due.

Yes, I have a waterproof notebook. I have no idea what to do with it, but I like that I have it. I'll probably write in it with my space pen. Yes, I have a space pen. Jealous?

I also have a tiny notebook that looks like a Canadian passport. I bought it for the laugh. Who knows what I'll ever do with it. It's got a map of Canada in there, even though I was pretty familiar with it to start with. Well, more than most Americans. At least I know more than just Montreal and Toronto. There is even a list of helpful phrases for the French areas. Also, they list if an area has bears. Good to know.

The second fountain pen I bought came with this notebook. It looks pretty cool and sturdy. I imagine that when I figure out what to do with it, I will use that fountain pen to write in it.

That's the brief tour. What are your favorite notebooks? Please let me know in the comments and send me links so I can get them, too.