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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Superhero Kitten-Pants: A Poem

Three kittens to save, with only two hands
So he shoved the odd one down his pants.

Down from the tree, there arose a great shout
When the third one peaked its head on out.

The outcry was such, that he nearly died
For it had been in his underwear, right beside--

Though he had not technically broken the law,
He paid a price, for it wasn't declawed. 

So after all the lawsuits and legal fights,
Superheroes now wear only tights.

The Jester's Girlfriend: A Pseudo-Poem

The great burly huntress

had gallantly rescued him 

from thugs trying to steal his beautiful jester-suit.   

By all the laws of chivalry, he now belonged to her.

She told him tender things, 

such as, “I always did love smaller men; 

they’re lighter to lift and easier to discipline.”

She talked about all their strong strapping daughters, 

and wondered aloud if they would have any small and quiet sons.

While she was busy, he saw his chance to run away.

But he didn’t realize that she could track him.

Now, hanging from a snare 

in a tree by his ankle, 

he screams that he is not sorry 

and will never, ever learn his lesson.

(“Easier to discipline…?”)

She cut him down, 

but he couldn’t run away 

when she sat on him.

In the forest there is a sudden slapping sound. 

He stops screaming very abruptly.

She’s still mad at him, 

so she spanks him again and again. 

He can’t say he’s sorry loud enough.

He behaved himself from that day forward. 

Indeed, he was very agreeable. 

And she lived happily ever after…

…And now the jester can’t stop bitching about it.

(But only when she’s not around.)

Oh, yeah, and she also started a blog...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Excert From My New Book, Links, And Back Story

The knight sat alone, on one end of the banquet hall’s second table, lost in his own little world of thoughts and troubles. He glanced over to where the King sat, at the head of the largest table, between his two closest advisers. His long gray hair reached down towards his shoulders, cascading from the ornate crown that topped his head.

The man to his right was the knight’s superior, General Mortain, Commander of the King’s Army. To the king’s left sat the Minister of The Realm, Lord Walbrook, tax collector to the King. Weighed down by more than chain mail and armor, the knight could not eat, for he knew both men were coveting the crown.

The letter hidden near his breast - the treacherous, treasonous letter - it weighed far more than the iron mail that covered him. Why had he come here? Why had he not stayed in his safe comfortable shire, sheltered from the politics of the court?

He knew the answer: because he was a knight, raised to be honorable, and he could not simply stand by, knowing what he now knew. Another reason: he had come to save the king’s life.

But how? How could he accuse such high ranking men – lords in the King’s Court, and not get his head cut off? Why, one of them was his own superior, the very man he reported to in times of battle!

“Oh, m’lords, I wish I did not know anything,” he sighed to himself. “And my king, I wish you knew everything.”

His attention was distracted for a moment by the antics of the court jester, in his suit and hat of black and white stripes, eating off the General’s plate without being asked. The General did not seem happy about it, but it amused the king, so reluctantly he had to go along. The knight could just read his thoughts: As soon as this old man is gone, that jester’s going to get it!

Well, that would be one positive side effect, at least. He hated that jester. The little man was like a fly buzzing in his face, which would not cease. He supposed that since the smaller man was not strong enough to be a knight, all he had left was annoying people.

The Royal Idiot (the jester, not the king!) was speaking now. “And let us not forget our favorite glutton, Sir Roger!”

Roger cringed. Not now! He had enough to worry about, without having to relive his humiliations. Earlier that day he had fallen into a huge vat of beer, ruining the whole batch. He was not sure if the other knights avoided sitting next to him because they were embarrassed, or because they were mad at him for not letting them get drunk tonight. And now that horrible jester would not let him live it down!

The Fool hopped over to his table, resting his head on his hands in front of the knight. “Tell us, Honorable Sir Roger, why could you not restrain yourself until a wench poured it in a cup for you?”

The jester was looking into his eyes, and though he was not allowed to smile, the man seemed to take some evil delight in humiliating him. There was a triumph, a gleam in his eye. Was the man crazy? What had Roger done to him, anyway? He knew other knights that liked to make sport of him, but he had always left him well enough alone. Why couldn’t that hated clown at least return the favor?

This only made him more sure of his dislike for the man. He hated having him in his face. “Go away, you stupid ass,” he sneered, quiet enough for only one person to hear, “or I’ll cut your nose off.”

The jester merely cocked his head, didn’t seem to be affected by that threat in the least. He had heard it all before. All knights made threats; they were all the same to him.

“I wonder,” he said loudly as he turned away, “what is the greater shame: Sir Roger’s insatiable gluttony, or the fact that he has created the biggest chamber pot in the world!”

The entire banquet hall roared with laughter - at his expense. The jester had no limits; he pressed further, this time with a new target.

“I even saw His Majesty drinking it! Said it was the best ale he had ever tasted!” More howling and slapping the knees. The King loved it, clearly delighted to be mocked, roasted by his clever Fool.

“If I said that, I would be flogged!” Roger muttered sourly.

“But good General, do ye have to fling knights while testing out your catapults?” the Fool went on. “Why, I would have rather flung your good friend, Lord Walbrook! ‘Twould be a service to the kingdom!”

Roger couldn’t believe what the man was getting away with. And he was treated as a hero for it.

“But, Sir Fool,” the old king smiled happily, “what would I do without my advisers? How would I know what was best for the kingdom?”

“Trade that crown for a jester’s cap, and you will feel wiser instantly!” He was sharp-witted, Roger had to grant him that.

He abruptly excused himself, before his ignorant co-counter-conspirator could turn on him again. As he thought about it, he became more and more excited. ‘Twould be so easy! The kingdom would be saved!

(See The Jester, Thomas Fool, On Amazon)

When you have lived with the Jester as long as I have, you start to dream of wizards and dragons, you start saying things like "'tis" and "'twasn't," and finally, one night, you get bored and ask him to relate his memoirs to you. And once he knows you are interested, he just won't stop talking. The stories keep on coming. 'Tis like a curse.
This is my attempt to heap my own misery on the world.  Enjoy.

I Cry Myself To Sleep, Part Two

My cat had kittens, five of them. Four of them survived, but they were so small, that was almost no big deal. They grew up. My favorite, Elmo, got scared by the dog barking at her, fell off the roof, broke her back, and died right in front of me. Her anus was open like a hole, she smelled of urine, her eyes were glazed and lifeless, and her body became stiff with her head turned at an angle. I wrapped her in a towel and just sat rocking her, with her sister looking on, until my dad came home and took her away. We still have the dog that scared her. Her sister is especially bonded to me.
My horse died last February, a few weeks after my birthday. She had been my friend for eight years, and I have never met a horse that acted so much like a tame dog. She was big and white, all white, and she used to rub her head on me until I had to hold her mane for balance.
And that is all I can think of.

I assure you that all of these stories are completely true, they just look too dramatic even for me, who’s lived them. Sometimes I don’t even know, which one is it this time? Why does my heart hurt tonight?
I function all right. Most of the time I succeed in staying up until I’m too tired to think about it. Even though I know I should cry, I always find myself wondering, “When can I stop crying? When is it going to end?”
Oh yeah, I finally “lost” my religion a few years ago too. I can’t pretend to be a joyful Christian anymore. When I pray about my circumstances, I don’t feel better. The bible isn’t comforting. So I don’t try anymore. I always wished I could be divinely comforted and strengthened, but I got a rude lesson about that very early. God, apparently, ignores me. (I know, I should not think that way. Please don’t try to tell me about God, I’ve heard it all before.)

During “show and tell” in my church youth group, when I was still trying to make it work, Joey Schlabitz said “Let me guess, something died?” when it was my turn.
I said, “No, but something’s about to.” And everyone broke into huge laughter.
His words still haunt me to this day. “Let me guess, something died?”

Maybe I don’t “cry myself to sleep” every night. But even if my body isn’t crying, my heart is. I laughed a few times when I wrote this blog. I also cried, it hurt. I guess that’s how life is.

I Cry Myself To Sleep Every Night

I moved to the country with my parents when I was eleven. Then my dog died. She was old.
We had a new dog, but the cat lost her mind and attacked my new dog and my dad shot the cat. The first cat I ever had, the one I picked out from a litter that my third-grade teacher, who lived on the next street over before I moved, gave birth to. (Or maybe it was her cat…)
I had a bunny but it ran away. The meth addict neighbor bought it for me, then she released three others in her yard for her boys. She thought the horse fence would keep in something as small as a rabbit. My mom thought I put deodorant on the bunny, because of a weird misunderstanding. Dog Number Two would come in my room and eat her poop like candy (the rabbit’s, not my mom’s). Then she chewed her way out of the cage, probably had five dozen babies, and maybe got eaten by now.
Then it all started happening at once.
Meth Addict Neighbor decided she hated my mom and we couldn’t see Helpless Little Meth Baby anymore. He was almost two years old. He would run down the hill to our house and stay for a few hours, maybe every few weeks, before she realized he was missing. Sometimes his four-year-old brother would come down with him and ask for food. He would be in his underwear in wintertime too.
There was a long custody battle in which my mom testified about all the horrible stuff she (we) saw in those three years. Drunken Redneck Dad got custody of both boys, but for a long time it was agonizingly uncertain.
Cute Little Meth Baby was never ours, but we loved him and knew we could take care of him better. We still know it, and he still isn’t ours.
About the time Meth Baby was taken from us, my former horseback riding instructor died of colon cancer. She had been my first adult friend.
I had a baby wild turkey that had been abandoned by its mother in a posthole. This was right after both the baby incident and the riding teacher tragedy, and it lived twelve days. I shook it and poked it, desperately trying to make it get up, but it was too sick to move, so it just closed its eyes and died. When you’re still a kid, this is devastating. I had taken a CPR class recently and once had to “do CPR” and “clear the obstruction” when it tried to swallow a grasshopper longer than its head. I had been so proud to feed it to her, too.
Second Dog ran away, got caught in a coyote trap at the neighbor’s, and he had to “end her pain.” We didn’t find out until after the deed was done. My mom loved that dog because she killed snakes.
My neighbor across the street was moving away and he promised to give me his tiny goat, Rod. My dad, who hates goats, loved him because he looked like “Billy Goat’s Gruff.” This neighbor had befriended and probably had sex or did drugs with the Meth Neighbor. His next-door neighbor’s oldest son was kind of my ex-boyfriend. I don’t know if he knew of the deal or not. But then Rod escaped Mike’s house and visited “Ernie,” and Ernie shot him. “The stupid goat jumped into the bullet.” Yeah, sure, goats jump faster than bullets fly. I hate that kid.
I was in the local “Young Eagles” program as a teenager, in which kids got the chance to fly in a small plane for free. My dad had worked for a friend of the woman who organized it and flew for it, and Sadie took me up twice. Then I got a job covering the county fair for the local newspaper, as a “teen reporter.” I asked her to take me up over the fairgrounds for an aerial picture. She was so nice, she actually did it.
Then, right out of a noval, she died in a plane crash a few months later. A plane crash! She was a pilot—why didn’t she “help” the other guy with his pre-flight? Oh, the drama.
The last time I saw her, I was at the fair with Goat Killer, when I still thought he was a good person. She was wearing a polka-dot dress and bright red lipstick, and laughing at me for being with a boy. She looked so very happy.

My Heroine Is A Lady Pimp: Nine Business Lessons I Learned From The Mayflower Madam

In the 1970s, Sydney Biddle Barrows, “The Mayflower Madam” (so-called because of her prestigious ancestry), a society debutante, founded a new kind of escort service: Cachet. The first, and most expensive, of its kind in New York City, Cachet catered to the wealthiest and most famous of clients, until it was shut down in 1984.
So what did Biddle Barrows do right, to become my hero? Like any entrepreneur, she saw a need and she filled it. She recognized that some men were looking for a different experience, discovering this while answering phones for another escort service. Here are some other things I learned from her:

Sell a different experience. Cachet was different from the escort services before it in that its young ladies were not dressed and sold as obvious prostitutes. No, Cachet women often spoke several foreign languages fluently, and the typical attire was stockings; a tailored, skirted suit; silk shirt; and matching lingerie.
Sometimes you can take an existing product or service, give it your own touch, alter it just a little, and do better than the current suppliers. Here’s our proof: Biddle Barrows did not invent the sex industry, she gave it her own touch (not a pun). Can you think of a product or service to alter and market yourself?

Sell privilege. It was a privilege for a man to be a Cachet customer, not a right. Well-to-do men had to prove they were worthy, that they would treat the women right, that they were good enough.
So you may not be able to act like a bouncer in a nightclub, deciding who gets in and who gets left outside. But you can still make your customers feel good for choosing you. Complement their taste and note aloud that they are obviously are discriminating and persons of distinction. Make your customers feel high-class, because in all likelihood, most people will show just as much class as you give them credit for.

Give love to your customers. Kissing good, condoms bad, were the rules. In other words, Cachet sold an experience that fostered real physical intimacy. “These men just wanted to be loved,” Ms. Biddle Barrows told a fascinated William Shatner in an interview on the television show “Aftermath with Willaim Shatner.”
What does this tell us? Most people like making friends. If your customers like and respect you, you fill a human need in them and a physical need—product or service—at the same time. And you have very loyal customers. If you do not like your customers and enjoy engaging with them, perhaps you should reevaluate your chosen career path. Find a new market with people that you like.

Be unique when pricing the goods.  Most products are somewhere in the medium range, and that’s part of the problem. Price is just another thing that makes them unremarkable. Either sell high enough to attract a few who consider it a well-earned privilege to pay your price, or sell low enough that many discerning customers will be able to afford it without having to worry about where the money comes from.
How to decide which one depends upon product or service, and region or segment you want to reach. A large city has more people willing to pay top dollar because of social status, and small or mid-sized towns have many more who value their cash. Traditionally inexpensive things, like books, will not sell for exorbitant prices, while traditionally expensive things, like sexual love, will be devalued if they are priced too low.

Never change contact information. Though her landlord suspected what was going on and wanted her out, Biddle Barrows could not move out of her apartment until she found another near enough that she could keep the same phone number.
Which brings up an interesting point: Why change business cards? You don’t want to have to call every customer and inform them of the new developments. Most would simply not bother to save your number twice. A small point, but definitely one worth noting.

Pay your employees well. Sydney Biddle Barrows cut the profits 60-40, in the young ladies’ favor, and threw lavish Christmas parties for them as well. No other escort service was doing better than 50-50 at that time. So she had a group of loyal employees that knew they were taken care of. I don’t imagine a high turnover rate in her firm.
What I have learned from this detail: Take care of your employees, and they will take care of you.

Don’t sell out your clients/customers.  Among other things, the Mayflower Madam sold discretion. Even after all this scandal, she would not give the names of her clients to prosecutors, even to save herself.
What have we learned from this lesson? How can we apply this principle? Don’t betray your clients by selling your mailing lists or flooding their inboxes with spam. That’s very bad manners, and people will hate you for it.

Don’t waste your efforts on something that is not truly yours. Sadly, sexual favors for money is illegal—who knew? So the government came in and demolished everything she had built.
Do not build a business that is illegal, or that can be taken away easily. Do not waste time making someone else’s business or property more valuable, either. Always ensure that your business can stay alive in the future. Is that an attainable goal? If not, can you make it so? If you can’t, how long is this going to last? It’s okay to have a temporary business, but recognize it for what it is. Always plan for the future.

If you’re hit by scandal, write a book about it. Publish the snot out of your faults. I know of some evangelists who have been caught trying to get prostitutes (makes me wonder…), then turned around and wrote a book about “God’s grace” and their “great redemption.” As long as they are repentant, they need not lose a ministry, and they can actually gain by sinning.
If scandal is your great selling point, use it. I would love to have my work, my writing, considered excellent, first-rate. I would also love to have it considered awful, campy, cheesy, the absolute worst, worthwhile for nothing but a good laugh at my expense. What I fear most in the world is mediocrity, being boring, so-so. You should fear it too, because while a business scandal can be a good thing (as we have seen), poorly-made, mundane products are never good.

A book is a product. I plan to use all of these rules in my writing career. I feel wonderful when someone reads my works, so really I am the one who is privileged. But at the same time, I will not simply take bad reviews lying down. I will exploit them!
“See the worst short story in the world—it’s so bad, the author says it’s bad! Why let this guy (the critic) have all the fun? See for yourself, then tell me just how awful it really is.”
I may even have a contest for the most creative and negative reviews. It’s all about exploiting the scandal.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Like Sunshine On My Nipples

Ever since I wrote the post “I Want To Feel The Sunshine On My Nipples,” I have been challenged and surprised whenever I come up against my old excuses. One way I have been limiting myself is in regards to exercise. I have often had the thought “Why bother working out? I still won’t be as strong as the average man.” But then, who says I have to be, or that I won’t? I guess I’m harsher with myself than I care to admit.
My grandfather, Papa, surprised me the other day. I like to drive his old pickup truck, a 1964 GMC Jimmy. I’ve even been to the mechanic’s recently with him. He told me the story of his mechanic telling him to put power steering in the Jimmy, because “She’s such a little girl.”
“But I told him, ‘She’s stronger than she looks, boy! She’s tough!’”
He loved telling the story, and it made me feel good to hear it. For years he sort of coddled me, “I’ll get that, Baby. It’s heavy.” It used to bother me, but then I decided it wasn’t that important. I wonder if he changed his mind because I didn’t care anymore.
I used to have a German pen pal, back in my Taekwondo days. I learned two new words from her: “zierlich und zerbrechlich.” I looked “petite and fragile” to her.
I’m afraid my reply didn’t make me seem very smart. I must have used the word “coarse” or “vulgar” for “tough,” and I think when referring to my body I used the word for “corpse!” I didn’t hear from her again, and no wonder. (What’s the German word for “moron?”)
So I guess I don’t look like a body builder. For years it bothered me, and it still does, sometimes. When I was in school I was kind of a pushover. I want to look tough, so no one will pick on me. It’s hard to get over your fears when you’re afraid to be seen as prey. Maybe someday I won’t see potential bullies everywhere I go.
I have noticed that relative muscle strength is actually a variable that changes day by day and hour by hour. The four factors that affect it are:

Diet—sugar bad, protein good. 
Rest—deprivation bad, sleep good.
Exercise—not too much, not too little.
Hydration—plenty of water, but nothing with sugar or natural sugar or caffeine.

It’s that simple. I’m not a fitness nut at all, but I know the factors that affect my strength. If I’m sleep-deprived, dehydrated, tired, and just finished a bowl of ice cream, guess what? I won’t be as strong as I normally would.
I eat sugar, but I try to limit myself. It’s all about balance. It also doesn’t hurt, if you know how your thoughts are inhibiting your potential. Only then can you challenge these unhelpful thoughts and overcome them.
So I lied. There are only five things you need to worry about, on your way to building physical strength. You cannot build physical strength if you do not also build mental strength. And only then, once you feel good about yourself, can you conquer the world.