Wednesday, December 25, 2013


I can cross “Learn Photoshop” off the list, Kitteh.

[1.] Pack a 2013 Survival Kit. I’d have a hard time surviving, over the next few days, without Middle Eastern dips. So, I’d probably hoard a lot of chickpeas. The expiration dates on the cans, however, read 2016. The chickpea economy isn’t, apparently, betting on a late 2013 disaster. I could eat all the Middle Eastern dip, like, straight away. Conversely, I could donate the chickpeas to the needy. (You know: Help the hummus.)

[2.] Get This Punning out of My System. So, a Sea Anemone seduces Eminem. (They have relations.) A while later, a squishy, rapping offspring comes along, an Eminemone. It’s wanted by the law. It’s really wanted by the law. It’s Public Eminemone No. 1.

[3.] Write a ‘Dear Critics’ Letter. In it, I’d acknowledge our Critics-Criticized relationship. I’d look up the word ‘enmity’ in a reputable dictionary, just to be content with its edges, and afterwards, pledge my fondness for their enmity. Without their criticism, I’d reason, I’d probably just topple over, as if I lived, quote, “in the Windy State of Your Criticism, and the wind, of a sudden, ceased to blow.”

[4.] Finally Decide between Blu-Ray and the Cloud. What the hell is Blu-Ray anyhow? Is that someone’s nickname? Like, Blu-Ray Bradbury? (Agh!) Can I put Blu-Ray in the Cloud? I guess on a cloudy day, it’s a lot of Blu-Ray up there, am I right?

[5.] Perfect My Mike Tyson Impersonation. Try this: “Lennickth? Lennickth? Ith that you? Hey, how’th it goin’, man? Shaw, I tried to duck thummya puncheth, but I couldn’t duck awllya puncheth. My cawnah wuth tryin’ to get me tuh defenethtrate you but I nevvah defenethtrated nobody befaw in public. Out-thide a boutique, shaw, I defenethtrated lot-tha people, but nevvah befaw in-thide th’thquared thircle!” See? I’m not quite there.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013



A few nights ago, a bat fell out of the ice rain onto my jogging hoodie. It scrambled under my left armpit and began to groom itself there, upside down. I say “groom itself” but I have no idea what kind of batty things were going on, except for this moonstruck energy in a ticklish region. I jogged along, giggly, a bat clinging to my armpit, in the ice rain.

There were, like, twenty stoic deer between me and the woods along Mass Ave., some with antlers. The deer looked at me like it was crazy to be anything but a deer in the ice rain, or any other night-weather. So, I slugged the bat with a fast hook to its little upside-down head. It didn’t fly away. It dropped behind me. I heard it plop into an icy puddle.

I thought the bat might flap me down, so I ran hard, but no fangs nipped my neck, trying to Dracularize me. I jogged past the newly-erected statue of Nelson Mandela, his fist raised, bouquets at his feet. It seemed disrespectful to have clubbed a mammal near the memorial for such a peaceful man, but that’s life—if you’ve got a bat on your hoodie!

The next day, I went to market, so I might select a roasting fowl. I got distracted by all the roaming these fowls had gotten over on the fowl farmers. Several fowls had free-roamed the barn. Other fowls had free-roamed the range. They were expensive, on account of roaming fees. Yet not free enough: one of them birds went into my stew pot.

Yes, I stewed a roasting fowl. (FML but it was good!) I spent the rest of the day improving my skill sets: my Reaction to Annoyance, Analysis of Crucial Sporting Play, and Drinking Buddy skills. In particular, my Drinking Buddy skill set has come a long way. Tell salty joke; pretend to hear above din; tap shot on bar before shooting. Yep.

I would like to issue a statement about the bat: It probably fluttered into a tree. I doubt its night was terribly unusual. While bats probably don’t spend much time in armpits they do spend half their lives stunned by human reactions. Would I do anything differently next time? Yeah, I would. I’d throw that bat on those deer. Those deer were, like, far too stoic!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


(Ahem: Stout Airlines?)

(1) Employment had just come out of the woods (to graze? to engage in ‘Cruelties of Proximity’?) when the sudden motions of Unemployment frightened it off. We all stood up then, from behind the hedges. We looked at each other, our hands up, as if to say, “The heck did you do that for?”

(2) Employment offered me a job. I said yes. I agreed to tour the facilities where I would work—a large warehouse reached by access road that featured wide craters. Once inside, I noted heaps of Product in bins, dysfunctional electricity, and a spacious puddle underneath a hole in the roof.

(3) The time came for my performance review. Employment sat in a swivel chair, wearing a blue shirt with solid yellow tie. I hadn’t shipped any Product, it was pointed out, even though there hadn’t been any Orders. I was told that my position would be converted to Underemployment.

(4) I attended a Job Fair targeting the Underemployed. Many greeters staffed many booths in an arena that, by night, would feature multimillionaire Athletes on a team that prioritized everything but winning. A large automobile revolved in the middle of the floor for no apparent reason.

(5) Underemployment spoke cheerily about No Benefits, as if No Benefits were, in fact, a benefit. A somber gal advanced the slideshow every couple of minutes. “Vegetarian?” I inquired, thumping my heart twice with my fist. (She was kind of hot.) “No,” she replied. “Underemployed.”

(6) I went on Underemployment interviews. For one, to be Under Secretary, I remarked that usually the Secretary was underneath, and that the title was redundant. For another, to be Under Study, I remarked that under-studying didn’t always lead to failure. I have yet to hear back from either.

(7) Around lunchtime, a Voice that identified itself as Administrator telephoned me about going to the Clinic, and meeting with a Diagnostician to get a complete Work-Up regarding my Word Count. “Me?” I said. “You,” said the Voice. “Why?” I said. “As a condition,” said the Voice.

(8) I can never look when a Diagnostician has to draw Words from me. “Make a fist,” instructed the Diagnostician, “just relax.” Yeah, right. You try making a fist and just relaxing, I thought, but I didn’t say anything. “You’ll feel a little pinch,” said the Diagnostician, but I said, “OWWW!”

(9) The bad news is, my Nouns are way down, and my Adjectives are way up. In other words, I’m Modifying what little Subject and Object I can offer. In addition, I’m probably clinical for Puns. “I fear Vietnamese soup,” I tweeted, and posted, and updated. “Yeah, I’ve got a real Phobia.”

(10) I did get some good news from my Word Count, though. Apparently, I’m hospitable to Verbs. I’m Proverbial. The future will, undoubtedly, involve Pounding the Pavement, Hoarding Scraps, and Running from Disaster. Verbiage will come in handy, and I plan on Narrating.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Warren Fulton on the Key Bridge in Georgetown (1988)

Twenty-five years ago, on Saturday, December 3rd, 1988, I left my good friend, Warren Fulton, and his girlfriend, Rachael, at a pub in Washington, and went home for the night. Months earlier, I’d given Warren a key to the apartment that I shared with two other students; he crashed on our couch so often, he became a roommate. He might’ve meant to stay with his parents at his official residence in Vienna, Va., or he might’ve wound up at Rachael’s place, but he and Rachael were never seen again, alive. For two days, they were missing. Warren hadn’t materialized Sunday night in particular, which was odd, since he had weights with the baseball team early Monday mornings, and his crash pad, i.e., my pad, was mere blocks from the gym. By Tuesday, the radio news announced the discovery of two bodies in a field near a highway in Virginia. One of my roommates and I decided to drive around, into Virginia, back to D.C., and so forth, all the while listening for developments. I never wanted to get word of Warren’s death, but not knowing his plight was excruciating, too. (I would better comprehend the complexities of “wanting a resolution” a couple years later, when my brother lay comatose in the ICU, his body ruined by metastatic disease, a machine breathing for him.) By Tuesday evening, a group of friends had gathered at the apartment. A TV news anchor revealed that Warren and Rachael were the “two bodies”; they’d been murdered. We hugged each other. We screamed “No!” together. I slugged a wall pretty good. How should one react?

Police could not solve the murder straight away. The killer, who had abducted the two in Rachael’s car, drove the same car to New York, where it sat for a while before being ticketed, of all things. Detectives had not developed a motive, had not identified a suspect, and had not discovered a weapon, although they had recovered DNA evidence from the crime scene. In time, the DNA evidence would link the same killer to another open murder investigation in Northern Virginia; my friend, apparently, had been slain by a serial killer. Much time would pass between breaks in the case. Seventeen years after Warren and Rachael had been killed, police at last matched the DNA to a California inmate who’d been sentenced to that state’s Death Row for torturing and killing a 15 year old girl. He was extradited to Virginia, where, in 2007, he stood trial for the double-killing, a process that would become nearly as epic as the hunt to identify him in the first place. The initial trial, which I attended, resulted in a mistrial, after one juror ‘impeached’ his own verdict. (He changed his mind, that is, after he had willingly participated in declaring a unanimous guilty verdict.) A second trial would end in a capital murder conviction, but its sentence, a death sentence, would be washed out on a technicality. A third trial, which retried the penalty phase alone, concluded with the jury recommending a death sentence that the judge upheld. The killer was defended by the same law firm and the same team of lawyers who represented the infamous “D.C. Sniper.”

I won’t comment on the crime, which was barbaric, and I won’t comment on the killer, who is suspected in other slayings beyond the four mentioned here, and I won’t comment on the sentence the killer received, (one he continues to appeal), and I don’t want to speak of the other victim, Rachael, as I didn’t know her very well. I’d like to say a few words about Warren, who’s had an influence on my life. To begin, he cared about poetry and he enjoyed writing. This spurred me to write, and what little I may have accomplished as a writer, in some way, doubles back to the pleasure that Warren took from poetic expression. I’ve published pieces about him in magazines and many of the same pieces can be found in my two books. Mostly, he wielded what I’ll call “A Formidable Wit.” He had a way of attacking you when you were moping. His practical jokes were estimable. I could tell you the midnight Atlantic City story, the woman who lost her bikini top story, the “what’s happening, dude?” story, the Taco Bell grande story, the stealing second base and what the umpire said story, the “well, there’s no other way to put it story, and among others, the goof off day story, during which, Warren needed dough and decided he would acquire these funds by marching into 7-11, spending $2 on a scratch-off lottery ticket, and winning, which he did, he won enough bread to fund an ensuing goof off night for the two of us. “I didn’t need a Plan B,” he said. “I was always going to win that money!” If you never met him, I wish you could have. He was my friend.