• Walking To Skool…


    Okay… For this one we need a little “reminder background.”

    First, most – if not all – of you know what kind of books I write. If you don’t, well, then what the hell is wrong with you? I have a family to feed. Go out, buy my books, then come back and read this. I’ll wait for you…

    {Insert Jeopardy Theme Here}

    There… Much better. So, as you can see, in order to write dark novels about dark things – in particular serial killers and predators – one must do an enormous amount of research into same. Eventually it starts to get to you and makes you a little paranoid. This is exactly why I walk my kid to and from school. By the time I was in the second grade, I was walking myself to and from school, but that was a different time, and it wasn’t as scary – or, at the very least we didn’t know that it was scary. At any rate, the O-spring is way beyond first grade, but I still walk with her. That way, if a predator shows up, I can just kill the bastard and be done with it. ‘Nuff said.

    Second – O-spring has a friend living nearby whose parents pretty much feel the same way, but don’t work from home like moi, so they don’t have the flexibility in their schedules to do same. No problem. O-spring, O-spring Friend, and I walk together. Problem solved.

    Third – As I’ve noted before, O-spring is freakin’ brilliant. She’s in the Gifted program, qualifies for C4K classes and all sorts of stuff. And, on top of being brilliant she is “gifted”… What that means is that all that brainpower comes with a quirky personality, hyper-excitability, and things like that. Not ADHD, mind you. It’s just a whole different set of personality traits. Because of that, she can be a bit dramatic. Okay… A LOT dramatic. Most of the time. So, when she approaches something in a calm fashion, sans drama, it tends to take you aback…

    Where is all this going? Well, I’ll tell you…

    We were walking to school, and as per the age bracket, “Dad” being along is just cramping their style, so they tend to ignore the 800 pound, Bermuda shorts, ripped tee shirt, black socks with sandals, worlds greatest dad hat wearing parental unit trundling along behind them. While there is a certain sadness for me in that, I get it. It’s a phase that should end sometime around when she hits 30. All good. Hopefully I’ll still be around. However, by the same token it gives me an opportunity to observe them like a cultural anthropologist or something. They prattle on about the things that are important to their tween brains, and some of the conversations can be a bit off-the-wall.

    This past Monday, for instance…

    As we came within a block of the school, the overpowering scent of tater tots filled the air. Obviously, “hash brown nuggets” were on the menu for the kids who buy breakfast at school. At first, the O-spring was thinking she smelled waffles. Of course, that’s possible. I’m sure her nose is better tuned than my half-century old olfactory sense. Be that as it may, it’s where things went that took me buy surprise.

    O-spring friend, we’ll call her Mary for anonymity’s sake, launched into a sudden rant. It wasn’t terribly heated, but it was definitely lively. The subject? Waffles. It seems that whenever they have “Breakfast for Lunch” at the school, the cafeteria refuses to provide them with plastic knives to cut up their waffles. Per Mary, they cite safety concerns… Howwwwwevvvveeeerrrrrr (trying to write tween here… forgive me) they have no problem at all providing them with a plastic knife whenever they have, oh… say something on the order of turkey and gravy. So, why not with waffles too?

    O-spring responded to this with, “I just tear them into strips and dip them into the syrup.”

    Mary went on undaunted, “But do they think we are going to do? They say we might break the knives and hurt ourselves. But we can have them with the turkey.”

    “I just dip the waffles,” O-spring said again.

    “And we can break anything that’s plastic. It could happen with anything, so why just the plastic knives?” Mary’s rant was still gaining steam.

    As much as this diametrically opposed behavior surprised me, it was only the cake – I mean, after all, I could see the ramping up out of O-spring, but Mary is usually the calm one. The icing was about to be applied.

    Mary started to launch into another litany of observations about plasticware and ridiculous school bureaucracy when my daughter stepped even further out of character. Gently placing her hand on her friend’s shoulder, in a soothing voice she said, “Calm down, Mary. You’re scaring the squirrels.”

    I’m pretty sure I ruptured my spleen trying to contain the guffaw that wanted to exit my gut. After all, I didn’t want to be accused of frightening the rabbits. Apparently the wildlife was already tortured enough…

    More to come…


  • Driving In Saint Louis…


    Marantz Cabinet Hi-Fi - Circa 1966I can remember, as a kid, sitting betwixt a pair of wood cabinets that housed a Marantz Hi-Fi – for all you age challenged folks out there, that’s a stereo.

    There weren’t any MP3’s back then. Hell, there weren’t even any MP1’s.

    The closest thing we had was an LP, since L obviously comes before M. We did have some MP’s, but they were Military Police and you only managed to get music out of them if they happened to be in the United States Army Chorus. The LP, however, was from whence sound and music emanated. BTW, the picture above is of the actual MarantzĀ  stereo of which I speak. I managed to find it in the corner of a black & white Polaroid taken in our living room Christmas morning 1967, hence the mess and boxes sitting about.

    At any rate, these richly stylish hunks of audio furniture… Well, they were richly stylish in their day – that being the early through late 60’s – contained 4 things:

    1. Amplifier
    2. Speakers
    3. Tuner
    4. Turntable

    33 1/3 Long Play (LP) phonograph album - Vinyl...That’s it. Nothing more. And, in my youth that turntable got quite the workout. Another bit of nostalgia here for you young’ns – A turntable was a spinny thing with an arm that contained a stylus. Back then we called it a needle. Anyway, it would zip round and round while the needle would elicit sound from grooves that had been pressed into flat disks. Those flat disks were the aforementioned LP’s.

    But, back to sitting between those cabinets… Besides listening to Sinatra, Elvis (Presley, not Costello), Trini Lopez, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Jan and Dean… Well, I could go on and on, but let me jump ahead to the “besides”… In addition to those many musical wonders, there were also the comedy albums. Most notably, Bill Cosby. As kids, listening to Bill Cosby comedy records was one of those guilty pleasures because while he certainly wasn’t foul mouthed by any stretch of the imagination, he did in fact say “Hell.”

    I know. Pretty innocuous, eh? But, when I was growing up, “H E double hockey sticks” was a “bad word.” That’s probably why I cuss so much now. I wasn’t allowed to do so when I was a kid. But, I digress…

    One of the classic bits from Bill Cosby back in that day was titled “Driving in San Francisco.” Primarily he went on about the hills and the world’s most crooked street. But, he also poked fun at morons getting behind the wheel as well.

    And that, my friends, is a large part of my reason for this particular blog entry. Now that the nostalgia portion is over, I would like to move on to something I deem fairly important.

    How to properly make a legal right turn

    How to properly make a legal left turn

    The above were both taken from the Missouri DOR Driver’s Test Study Booklet. Study these two rules in detail. Learn them. Commit them to memory. Keep them with you at all times, and OBEY them.

    Do not make me tell you again…

    And do NOT get me started on driving in school zones – including the friggin’ school parking lot people. Those particular infractions will just get you thumped in the head. Just ask the guy who is still trying to get a dentĀ  that is shaped exactly like my hand out of the hood of his car. Maybe he will pay attention from here on out…

    If you need further instruction on the rules and regulations for safely and legally operating a motor vehicle, you can download the entire booklet here:


    That is all.

    More to come…