[ the blog ]

  • 4
  • Really, Jeff? Really?!

    Jeff BezosDear Jeff,

    First, let me say thank you to Amazon for allowing a lowly, self-published children's book author to have a safe and welcoming space through which to sell my books.  I'm thrilled to say that I've sold a few and given away a truckload!  I'm also proud of the 30+ reviews I've gotten from satisfied readers including parents, grandparents and educators.  After all, the books do have a message of kindness, friendship and being good human "beans."  [A silly euphemism for "beings" to add a bit of levity. You will see why soon]

    Despite the praise offered above, I have to say that your e-mail of August 3rd was super harsh, dude.  Here is one excerpt to refresh your memory:

    We understand that you may have manipulated product reviews. Authors on Amazon.com are not allowed to manipulate ratings, feedback, or reviews.

    Really? Being dishonest and crooked is not allowed? Thank you for the tip because I was certain this was acceptable behavior. Shows you what I know.

    But I digress.

    Since I'm barely capable of updating my author page, I found this accusation quite amusing. How does one accomplish this so-called manipulation?  I would assume tech skills are required and this Amazon seller is seriously considering getting one of those Cricket cell phones because the smart versions are just too damn intimidating. Besides,  I need bigger, Playskool-like keys so I can see the numbers better.  Get the picture?

    As I read further, my shock and dismay became more and more profound.  Get a load of these little nuggets of what-the-fuck:

    Violations of our policies may also violate state and federal laws, including the Federal Trade Commission Act. Amazon tries to maintain customer trust and provide the best possible shopping experience. For this reason, Amazon investigates if it learns that sellers, vendors, or others have attempted to manipulate reviews. It also investigates if it learns that third parties have offered reviews in exchange for compensation.

    Breaking federal FTC laws?? Seriously, Jeff, I have 37 total reviews.  Logic would dictate that if I actually knew how to rig the system, I'd go for broke and crank that Richter scale up to at least a 6.9. You know,  all Loma Prieta like.

    Perhaps you've been hacked by the Russians? Or the Trump campaign? I hear he's all hot to trot to wrap you around that greasy axle known as the IRS for avoiding taxes by getting all cozy with Luxembourg, so there could be a conspiracy afoot here. You might want to have your tech peeps look into that.

    Be that as it may, I believe you owe me (and perhaps others?) an apology.  Nothing too elaborate. "I'm sorry that you were wrongly accused and I hope the FTC doesn't fine you a billion dollars" will suffice.


    Jules Howe [Leave a Comment]
  • 25
  • Borrowed Saints

    st-joseph-iconThis is St. Joseph. I know this because my Catholic friends told me so.  They think I'm a pagan but in fact, I was raised Baptist.  To them, this is the same thing but opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one. I was going to say that opinions are like assholes but thought that might be offensive.

    In this version of St. Joseph, he seems to be holding an adult version of Jesus rather than an infant version. I find this creepy and strange but also a bit fascinating. As if the artist hadn't quite mastered the skill of scale.  I've noticed this happens a lot in religious art both old and new which is probably why I don't have any.  You'll see what I mean about the "now" versions a bit later.

    In my religious world, that is, one that doesn't really have saints, per se, St. Joseph would just simple be known as Joseph the carpenter, or the quasi-father of Jesus or what we might today call the not-really-baby-daddy.  He seemed to be fine with the notion of his wife giving birth through some kind of immaculate conception.  I have to hand it to Joe. He was a pretty progressive dude and clearly not a jealous guy.  Then again, how can you argue with the deity that you've been told created the world as you know it and came up with the macabre notion of drowning all humanity by flooding the earth?  Clever, yes. But drowning everybody?? It's just all so, so.....biblical.

    When I was recently selling a house that wasn't moving as quickly as I'd like, a dear friend told me about burying St. Joseph upside down in the yard and praying for a sale.  After all, he's the patron saint of homes.  Makes sense because he was a carpenter.


    Will it work if I'm not a Catholic?  I mean, aren't there rules and regulations


    God is God, right? You ask St. Joseph to intervene on your behalf and The Big Man listens. He listens to everybody. Even a pagan.




    Any religion that shuns drinking, smoking and everything that represents good wholesome fun is a pagan in my book.


    Good point but I'm still skeptical.


    Trust me. Just read the instructions, bury him and say the prayer every day.

    And so I borrowed her St. Joseph's Catholic Home-Selling Kit and got to buryin' just like the instructions told me to do.  I said the prayer...or, more like recited it which felt a little inauthentic and robotic and lo' and behold it worked!

    Thank you Catholic friend!  And thank you St. Joseph!  I'm one satisfied customer!

    Here's an example of the kit. You can get it on-line or anyplace dogma is sold and promoted.  This one looks a little like something those South Park guys may have come up with. He's called the patron saint of "real estate" on this one and holding what appears to be a scythe.  Bit of a bastardization if you ask me, but what do I know? I'm just a pagan. Give it a try! They're made in China.

    St.-Joseph-Statue [Leave a Comment]
  • 19
  • A Tragic Twist of Comedic Fate

    laughing smilingI struggle with trying to break into a business that thrives on Hey, look at me!  It flies in the face of my typical tendency to stay out of the spotlight.  Yet, I can't stop.  I create stories that I hope will someday come to life and be seen by other humans and not just characters rattling around in my head threatening to take over my already fragile psyche and thrust me into a Sybil-like multiple personality hell.

    But sometimes, it feels kinda cool getting some recognition.  It keeps the faith alive.  Makes me feel valid as a writer.


    one small flip of a vowel can me feel like a total jackass.

    In the world of blogging, there's an enormous difference between a "ton" of people who read your blog (an awesome and rewarding place to be if you're the ton-ee) and "tens" of people who read your blog which is, I'm afraid, my station in the blogosphere.  I don't mind, really.  I use this space to sort of mind dump when my I'm paralyzed by the daunting first page of a newly formed screenplay idea. Goddamn that page is so....so...so... fucking white!  Jesus!  It's like staring into an endless, Siberian abyss!  For the love of Dog, am I being exiled or trying to write a goddamn story?

    But I digress.

    For the "tens" of you who are kind enough to visit here, I am painfully aware that one recently transposed vowel in an otherwise ego-boosting and quite possibly undeserved article has left me feeling like a poser.  An imposter making outrageous claims of a readership that does not exist outside of my own delusions. I mean, not only my own delusions could come up with that one.  The most creative delusion I've been able to come up with is convincing myself I actually like kale!

    I really did write "tens" and not "tons". After all, it's the truth and it's funny.  At least I thought so.  But maybe the editor didn't share my sense of humor or just thought poor thing needs a new prescription.

    [big sigh]

    Be that as it may, I swear on my 25th Anniversary copy of Silverstein's Different Dances that I did indeed write the letter "e" between the "t" and the "n" and NOT an "o".

    You gotta believe me! You just gotta!

      [Leave a Comment]
  • 16
  • Dumb Bunny and The Big, Big Void

    Today, I am Dumb Bunny.  Which is better than yesterday when I was Angry Bunny...probably because I slathered on my hormone cream later than usual. Bad idea.

    I know I'm going to get a lesson (again) on how to successfully upload an image to my blog page that also posts to my Facebook grrr I hate you Facebook  page. I vowed to always have a featured image for some insane I-think-people-might-be-entertained-by-it reason. I have no idea idea if anyone is entertained or not. It's just a thing I do. Like drinking milk directly from the carton.  (note to visitors who aren't lactose intolerant and may choose to pour themselves a tall one from my 'fridge)

    I know there's something I have to push or click or activate while standing on my head reciting The Declaration of Independence, but for the life of me, I can't remember what in the Sam Hill it is.  This is not surprising. I haven't actually visited my own blog since before the name Trump was seared into our nation's collective psyche with a red hot poker. That's a long, long time ago so it's no wonder I don't recognize the place.

    But it IS my place for crying' out loud and things should not change.  Ever.  I don't need no stinkin' upgrades!  No cockamamie optimization bells and whistles!  Just give me a stone table and a fucking chisel and I'll be right as rain!

    Why do I suddenly feel an affinity to whoever wrote Who Moved My Cheese?

    So, to the 10s of people who read my blog, I will say I'm sorry....my bad....lo siento...as you come face to face with....nothing. [big sigh]

    Yet another cruel testament to my digital inadequacy.

    [In an uncharacteristic burst of misguided enthusiasm, writer becomes determined to find the best goddamn cat video ever created and....wait for it!!!  PASTE it into her next blog post as a featured video!! If there is such a thing as a featured video.]







      [Leave a Comment]
  • 15
  • When Facebook Kicks Your Ass

    head in handsIt's no secret I have a love/hate thing going on with Facebook.  Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Shut my snarky pie-hole and accept the fact that mundane look-at-this-awesome-latte-I-just-had posts and cat videos are permanent threads in the fabric of our lives. Just like cotton.

    So...as I was innocently scrolling through posts from the 12 friends I have, I saw one about horoscopes. Aforementioned "friend" who posted it will remain nameless but viewing cat videos has made me curious and curiosity killed me, or at least put me on the threshold of tragedy after I clicked on the link.

    Hmmm...not so bad!  Aries are indeed great kissers! Thanks, horoscope writer!

    And then came the punch line. "Two years of bad luck if you don't forward this post".

    Aw fuck!


    P.S.  Hey, man. I'm just saving my own ass here.  I suggest you don't click.  But...Aries ARE good kissers and so are Taurus and Aquarius but nobody compares to Cancer who are, apparently, the most amazing at it.  What more do you need to know? [Leave a Comment]
  • 8
  • Dude! Where’s my personal space?

    frustrated faceNot to play the crybaby here, but I’ve spent a lot of time in hospital waiting areas. It is less than pleasant for obvious reasons but I’m pretty stoic. My stiff upper lip can make the average Brit look like a blubbering amateur.

    I have a routine. It goes something like this:

    Put on game face. I have a killer game face. I can make a linebacker cry...I shit you negative.

    Gather all my devices, paperwork, shit I gotta finish up on the fly. Everything I can stuff into my rolling office.

    Pep talk for the respective patient as long as he/she isn’t getting an I.V. (see #3 below for a more detailed explanation)

    Find a quiet spot where no one can bother me or see my game face crack whereby giving aforementioned linebacker a chance to can call me a sissy. Preferably, the quiet spot has electricity to keep my devices on life support.

    Oh, wait.  I forgot. There are no quiet spots in a patient waiting area.

    Here are a few useful facts to know if you’re planning a fun family gathering at your local medical facility:

    The Jerry Springer Show will be playing on a television that's beyond the arm's reach of a short girl and a nowhere-to-be-found remote control.

    People who either a) insist on using speaker phone or b) people who have no idea they’re on speaker phone.

    And then...that well-meaning volunteer who approaches you about giving blood. Don’t get me wrong! I’m a blood-donor advocate and I’d glad give if I didn’t faint dead away at the very thought of it. It’s the achilles heel that can put a gnarly fever blister on my stiff upper lip. It's the only thing that can bring me to my knees. That...and someone getting an I.V.

    And lastly, that not-so-well-meaning, oblivious individual who insists on humming, singing, or playing YouTube videos on his/her cell phone at a decibel level considered dangerous by OSHA who then follows you as you flee toward a more tranquil corner.

    OBLIVIOUS INDIVIDUAL: “Say, it’s a lot quieter over here, isn’t it? I think you’re on to somethin’. You ever see the video of the singin’ cats from Uzbekistan? They’re a hoot! Here, let me turn it up for ya.”

    Um...no, thank you. I have an appointment to give blood.

      [Leave a Comment]
  • 20
  • Yes, You’re Old And We’re Going To Prove It!


    drop down

    I try not to think about how old I am. The thought of aging just pisses me off. But sometimes, it's thrown in my face like a shaving cream pie of reality.

    I made a plane reservation the other day. I don't remember where I was going.  I just remember putting in my birthday:  month, day, no prob.  Then…year.  I was right-hooked upside the melon as only a drop-down menu of dates can deliver. I paged down and down and down some more as my sinking heart begged for mercy. Jesus Christ on a cracker. Really?  Who thought of this soul-crushing process disguised as convenience? Why not just give me the fucking blank space so I can type in my four benign little numbers that remind me of nothing?  Would that be so hard?  Instead, I have to see the seemingly endless parade of decades that have passed before. To you geniuses, I say this...

    Dear Soul-Crushing ,Tech-Nerds,

    Take a clue from the kind folks who eradicated the term "bifocals" with a vaccine called "progressives".  There is no Age Related Stigma attached to glasses called progressives.  See the marketing genius there?  I want to kiss those guys. I want to have their babies if only I still had a uterus. But you? You're cruel and insensitive. One day, you, too, will be making a plane reservation on-line. And it will hit you as it hit me.  And you will regret the folly of your youth. The callous disregard for the self-esteem of others. Your day will come, tech-nerds Oh, yes. Your day will come. 

    Namaste, assholes.


      [Leave a Comment]
  • 6
  • Twitter Me Stupid

    TwitterNot to be confused with "Twitter me, stupid!"

    I don't know if you can Twitter somebody but if you can, it sounds like something I might like. Maybe I'll invent my very own form of sexual pleasure called twittering and tweet it (?) like this:  #ThingsAnaisNinWouldProbablyLoveToKnowIfSheWereStillAlive

    (For some reason…I felt compelled to put a .com at the end of that hash-tagged-whatever, the same way I want to say Amen at the end of The Pledge of Allegiance.)

    I don't know where all those pound sign creations end up but it must be in some kind of Bermuda Triangle For Hashtags. Someday they'll all be found alongside an aircraft carrier and their bewildered, ageless crew asking "What the Sam Hill are all these pound signs doing hanging off the sides of our beloved USS Cyclops and what the hell do you mean Woodrow Wilson ain't president no more?"

    But what I really want to know is this:  will that hashtag I just created automatically go to The Hashtag Triangle  just because I typed it and posted this blog? Or do I have to pass GO on my Twitter account that I don't know how to sign into and collect $200, first?

    If you know, please send me a "@" with a "#" followed by a smoke signal, a few Morse code clicks and maybe a voice message on that tin can and string device you probably have in your box of childhood memories.

    But only if you're staring down the business end of the mid-life shotgun.



      [Leave a Comment]
  • 10
  • Hair-Brained

    A  woman's self-esteem, as it relates to her hair, cannot be understated. And when things go wrong, it's akin to being stripped naked and paraded through a shopping mall on the eve of an unfortunately overdue Brazilian. (Thanks, Sandman, for bringing me that horrifying dream, you sick fuck!)

    A hair disaster can bring on nothing short of social paranoia. The Aggrieved Unfortunate is convinced everyone is staring at her. (Writer speaking in the third person to protect her nearly pulverized psyche)  Even if they don't know her and therefore couldn't possibly know what her hair looked like pre Hair Apocalypse, she thinks they're staring.

    They are.

    She feels it.

    She cinches her hoodie tight around her fried noggin, her posture reduced to the slump of the publicly humiliated.

    Not even her friends recognize her as she reveals the source of her shame. Their greetings, once warm and comforting, have been replaced with dismayed half-smiles of "Holy mother of God, what has she done?" and ever so slight recoils of disgust... as if getting too close might infect them with her hair-brained disease.  She gives them a cryptic warning. "Don't bother with the hand sanitizer. It's airborne. I caught if from breathing in some cockamamie idea I got from a hairstyle magazine that made me believe I wanted to look like Miley Cyrus."

    They stare a little harder.

    "Yeah. Yeah. I know. If Andy Warhol and Tilda Swinton had a love child, it would have this hair color. I'm going to get it fixed on Saturday."

    And Saturday comes….

    Alas, the fixing has failed.

    And it's worse than she could have imagined. Any trace of what remained of her erased…washed away in a diabolical brew of chemical color not found in nature or otherwise.

    "Now you look Irish," one helpful friend blurts out.

    "It's just not you," another offers, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. (from a safe distance, of course)

    "Then who the hell am I," Andy-Tilda The Irishwoman cries. "Who? Who? Who??!!"

    And thus begins the slow, agonizing process of rebuilding the woman she once recognized in the mirror as Herself.  She's come to terms with it now. Every day a little better. Every therapy session one step closer to regaining the self-esteem she so cavalierly tossed away that fateful day.

    Oh, what a price we pay for our mistakes, my sisters. Oh, what a price.




      [Leave a Comment]
  • 9
  • They Say I’m Long Winded

    WindMaybe it's genetic. I have no idea.  Should I be more self aware of this?  Probably. Fact is, Google has officially called me out on it.  It's slightly creepy when a non-human entity points out a human characteristic. Okay, so it's not a human characteristic that's considered attractive but still, it's unsettling. I laughed out loud but it was one of those laughs that was part ha-ha, part I-don't-know-what-else-to-do-because-I'm-uncomfortable kind of laughs.

    Here's Google's response to one of my blog post titles:

    Warning: Title display in Google is limited to a fixed width, yours is too long.

    I'm giving the shitty sentence structure a pass.  Namely, because I'm completely fascinated by how this non-human "voice" manages to sound so beautifully, snarkily human.

    I'm wondering which Google team member insisted on taking off "dumb shit" at the end of that warning?

    Just to be clear, I know "snarkily" is not a word.  I'm sure Google will somehow find a way to point that out.

    P.S  Rudimentary, art-house doodle is a self-portrait. And yeah, that's sorta the color of my hair right now.


      [Leave a Comment]