Monday, November 16, 2009


With a taste for revenge, Roger Soufflé had replaced the hockey puck with a replica explosive device. For the past six months, the Youngash triplets had teased the red-hoodied Roger - calling him names like "little red riding hood" - on his way home from school. Dr. Soufflé, his father, was an ace inventor with an eye for detail and an evil willingness to assist. None of the boys had noticed anything peculiar about the replica puck. In ten minutes, it would explode - finally making Roger's harassers see red.


Friday, November 13, 2009


It was the mattress fire, started by her cigarette, that alarmed the front desk, consequently calling firemen (and later police officers) to her suite at the Stapleton Hotel. Ex-stripper, Sherry Dupree, down on her luck - and up on alcohol - lay naked and passed out on the sheets. When the smoke had cleared, Miss Dupree was pronounced dead. Under her bed, the officers found a stash of 238 empty bottles of cheap spiced rum.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Young Shane McGillivray had waited patiently - his parents steadying him on his metal leg braces - on that July morning at Cypress Gardens. He'd been in line to meet the great healer, the Reverend Arthur Smyly. In line before him, Shane watched the fat lady waddle up the bridge to the Reverend, who pressed the palm of his hand - push-button style - into the woman's forehead. She dizzied and fell sideways, snapping the bridge rail before falling into the water. A trio of alligators quickly aimed their snouts towards her. There was a garbled scream (Shane's parents shielded his curious eyes from the blood spurts) as the crowd dispursed into mayhem. Reverend Smyly, himself in shock, stood frozen on the bridge. Shane's parents took this opportunity to guide him up to the healer. A laying of hands followed, plus a few jerks and twists from Shane - before a cure was pronounced. He left the gardens that afternoon, walking proudly - unassisted - with his braces under his arms.


Ahead of his time, Ansel Adams met with a series of gallery rejections when he first sent out his wildly colorful images for curatorial critique. Responses like "loud", "horrific", "surreal", and "no thanks" filled his file folder. A friend, Imogen Cunningham, suggested he take up the artsy stuff - black and white photography. He did. And he never looked back. However, stashed in a cardboard box in the vault of the Zone-System Interpretive Center at Monterey, lies a treasure trove of saturated wonders from the shutterbug's early days.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


Dr. Kenji Sasaki, having successfully miniaturized his wife, Seiko, had only one thing to report to the Japanese news media: "Our grocery bill has certainly gotten smaller."  Seiko - her voice barely audible at the press conference - said her new stature mirrored the role of women in Japanese society. Alas, her voice was drowned out by the voice of Kyu Sakamoto, sadly crooning Sukiyaki.


First Nations stand-up comic, Cheep'chik, travels the club circuit, regaling audiences with a routine based on dissing North American Indian stereotypes. The Germans - nostalgic for Karl May's early 20th century stories about cowboys and Indians, where the Indians were nearly always the heroes - love her, particularly when she appears on stage in full costume. (She once made the mistake of walking on-stage in Munich wearing a Stussy logo sweatshirt; the Oktoberfest crowd booed.) Cheep'chik was born a stand-up comic. At the age of six, she visited her grandfather's turkey farm in Metisland, Quebec. Walking into the six-thousand-square-foot barn - and suddenly facing 10-thousand turkeys, she had the perfect audience. "Did you hear the one about...?" she began. Her line was followed by a cacophony of gobble-gobble-gobbles - like a chorus of laughter. "A midget goes into a bar..." she continued, again greeted with a million laughing gobblers. With her confidence boosted, she headed out - years later - into comedy culture. When audiences respond positively to her jokes, she remembers her grandfather's turkeys. When audiences respond badly, she calls them turkeys.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


If you had not driven past the old Rogers cottage, but instead had stopped and lingered outside its board-and-batten walls, you likely would catch a whiff of the body decomposing in the attic. Shirley Adams, the attractive New Hampshire realtor, was laughing when she crossed the state line in the passenger seat of Neil Holden's Mercury Montego. Neil was a travelling salesman with a sad addiction: he picked up lonely single women and, after treating them to a romantic dinner - usually Italian - he'd drive them to a derelict farmhouse where the femme would meet her fatale end.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


It was just after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, that the Birch Lake Monster tooks its first step ashore. Most people in the nearby community of Hester remember the incident with the fondness of a fable. Younger generations thrill at its myth. Yet the monster did exist, even if for one moment. Ron Chambers, scanning the lake shore with his metal detector that morning, was the first witness. Fortunately, he always carried his Kodak Instamatic - so was able to record, on grainy negative, the charcoal-grey slimy figure, web-footing its way out of the water. With the blurry composition of the Big Foot photo, most news media discredited Ron's picture as fakery. However, if you ask Ron, and Sandra and Tom Benjamin, Herb Taylor, Rusty and Ben Holland, Jane Stern, and the residents of the Indian Summer Retirement Home - they'll tell you. They all caught a glimpse of the frightening figure, as it swathed a path along the back of Ray Road, before disappearing into a watercress-ripe ditch. Never to be seen again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Jennifer Wong, the Singapore songstress, hit all the right notes when she sang her upbeat finale - "My Country 'Tisn't of Thee" before the judges. Their disinterest only made her belt it out louder. When her performance was over, and the judges had tallied their votes, she was presented with a FAIL. Jennifer couldn't believe it. She'd sung her song better than the other two contestants: Josh Brubeque (the judges' favorite) with his flat-note "Save Your Best For Me", and Sharmayne LeCroix with her over-the-top (yet under-the-belt) rendition of "Way Up There, Somewhere". Miss Wong broke into tears, before cursing the judges and damning the U.S. of A. Her outbursts were bleeped from the televised signal. Security guards dragged her flailing body away. When her feet touched down on the exit ramp, Jennifer felt a cocoon of cool sparkly light envelope her. Then a voice explained: "I am Vince, the almighty Creator's sculptor-laureate. He's in need of a new office planter. And because of your un-American behavior, you're it!" With a series of popping whirs, the light dissolved, exposing the heavenly sculptor's creation: Jennifer Wong - ceramic planter. A rare bird about to perform in paradise.

Friday, September 4, 2009


The first snow had settled on Fort MacLeod, Alberta, on that cold November night in 1943. The silence of the evening was broken by the first cries of a newborn infant at Anderson Lodge. The baby, a girl, responded quickly to sights and sounds. By the age of three, she was composing jigs and ballads on the kitchen table. Later, she'd leave the dusty lodge to set foot in the Big City. There, busking at tables at a cafe in the Bohemian Sector, she'd sing of life's gritty underside. Lyrics like "acid, booze, and ass - needles, guns, and grass", held a special appeal for the cafe's unkind-of-blue crowd.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Constantinople (the clown formerly known as Istanbul) begins each day with a heavy dose of caffeine. Consuming up to 33 cups a day, he's a textbook coffee addict. He prefers it straight-up, considering cream and sugar a crutch. His tears - mocha brown - start running at about three o'clock in the afternoon; a steady stream, but not dense enough for him to drown in them.


Having tired of Cirque du Soleil extravaganzas, His Holiness The 15th Dalai Lama asked his driver to take him beyond the Las Vegas strip, into the wild west. At the Highway 159 turnoff, there was a caravan set up with vintage costumes and props - a cowboys-and-indians photo op. With childhood visions of becoming an Indian Chief, not a spiritual leader, His Holiness asked the driver to pull over. On a rack beside the camera was a full chief costume complete with feathered headdress. A photographer approached him from the caravan, and welcomed him, ushering him to a change area behind the props. A few moments later, the Dalai Lama appeared, majestically, in full costume. His driver applauded the transformation. The photographer positioned him for the portrait. Just before the shutter clicked, His Holiness had one request - "Pass me that peace pipe."


Susan Jones hated her job at the library. Every chance she got, she'd slip away from the Reference Desk to go skinny dipping at Brooks Pond. Hanging her conservative cotton suit and straw hat on a twisted branch, she'd dive in - thrilling at the cool fresh water as it swooshed in caresses around her supple flesh. She usually stopped at the north edge to pick a camelia blossom. This would adorn her hair, adding an exotic Dorothy-Lamour-native-girl touch.
When it was time to leave the pond, Susan would pull a J-Cloth towel from her suit pocket. And as she dried herself, she'd pray that something would happen in her life - some big break - to rescue her from Library purgatory.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


On the first day of September, the water wheel at the old mill house came to a stop. There was no witness. Nicknamed the "house of hanky-panky" by the residents of New Bosford, the building had been the go-to hangout for illicit love. Christine Pendry had lost her necklace there, when Bryce Stanley went to pull her in for a kiss - but accidentally caught his fingers on the strands of prehispanic crystal beads. They smacked on the plank floorboards like a hundred tiny ice-cubes. Christine was in tears, knowing her anthropologist father, Dr. Harold Pendry, would strap her with his New Guinea feather headdress when he found out. Bryce felt like a dolt at his clumsiness. And the moist kiss he longed for could only be imagined. Many years earlier, the slightly-retarded (and constantly picked on) Tom Hicks, had tried to hang himself by the mill house rafters. His life was saved, however, when Steve Jenkins and Tricia Wyatt showed up in their wet bathing suits. They'd hoped for a little twist and shout, but instead became life-savers of the mentally challenged. Grateful to this day, Tom Hicks routinely has his IQ checked.

Friday, August 28, 2009


The air is always quiet before a disaster. James Dally had taken a 'sick' day, a means to escape his hectic job at Capital Records. He felt great, driving up Iceberg Mountain Road to go fly fishing at Skogland River. The day before, stopping in at Jake's Bar across the street from the office, he spotted Nat 'King' Cole. Mr. Cole frequently stopped in at Jake's after meeting with the record company. They chatted about family, work and life in general. James mentioned his crazy workload, and it was Nat who suggested - "You get sick time, don't you?" - that he take a day off. James cast his line in the river stretch below Skogland Falls. And then he became aware of the ominous silence. No wind, no water splushing, no birds crying, no trees shaking. Wierd. Before long there was a gunshot. It was so loud, it scared James to death! He fell back, gulped on glacier water, and convulsed in an "Unforgettable" way.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Ollie Adams had experimented one too many times with his liquor. If he didn't drink enough, he'd dream about his abusive father. If he drank too much, he'd dream about his first pet - Sky, the Skye terrier. Tonight he drank too much. Lying on his coupon-strewn floor, a barrage of doggie images - little Sky yipping and yapping - bounced off the walls of his mind. He always thought the dog looked half-human under his scruffy brows (reminding Ollie of Jo-Jo, The Dog-Faced Boy, whom he'd once met at one of P.T. Barnum's booze-filled circus events). As Ollie drifted off, he cued some 1001 Strings music in his bid farewell to his childhood canine companion. Soon Skye would bleed with Sky, a blurry curse that repeatedly haunts Ollie Adams.


With the maple-sugar harvest nearing completion, the residents of Crusty Lake took to the frozen lake. The ice was thick and firm, great for skating, frollicking - and thrills. Dodie and Paul built a snowman on the shore, their recently-dead poodle pup (blame that Buick driver) buried inside the figure's frosty belly. Wilburt chased Ed, hoping to catch some of his loot from the corner grocery robbery. Sandy tightly fastened her laces while Timmy slipped on his pool of incontinence. Roger and Anne waltzed a glide, their skate blades cutting shrieks over the ice. Further down the lake, Leonard did an interpretive dance-come-crucifixion pose. All appeared well in this charming scene. As dusk approached, however, the Buick driver would return, racing over the lake - flattening each thrill-seeking participant at Crusty Lake.