Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Overheard at Table 4: Marriage Games "Where to Eat Tonight"

Of all the marriage games I love to play, my favorite HAS to be "Where do you want to eat tonight?"

It goes like this, let my wife and I demonstrate

Me: Where to you want to eat tonight?

Wife: You choose.

Me: Ha!  I'm not falling for that trap again, where do YOU want to eat tonight?

Wife: I am SO TIRED of your indecisiveness!  Make a choice!

Me: Ok, fine, let's go get Bar-B-Que

Wife: Ew, no!  That's too heavy for dinner.

Me: Steaks, then.

Wife: Also heavy red meat!

Me: Mexican?

Wife: I had Mexican for lunch.

Me: Italian?

Wife: I want to cut back on pasta.

Me: Thai?

Wife: Too spicy.

Me: Chinese.

Wife: Too boring.

Me: Korean?

Wife: Too expensive.

Me: Japanese.

Wife: We had that on Sunday.

Me: Indian, then.

Wife: You always complain that it burns your mouth.

Me: I'm just going to go home and make a sandwich.

Wife: Let's have Mediterranean.

Me: Ok, then, good choice!

Wife: Finally!  I have to do EVerything!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Womb with a View

Molly dreamed that her baby had a "womb with a view" - peeking out through a pouch, like a kangaroo.

When she awoke, Molly saw a long, jagged cut across the top of her pregnant belly - her sharp thumbnail, still wet with blood.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: Blue Tea Blues

 Blue Tea Blues

Oh Lawd I was so thirsty
I fell down upon my knees
Oh Lawd I was so thirsty
I fell right down on my knees
Asked my baby for a drink of water
All she gave me was some ol’ Blue Tea

I asked my pretty mama
Oh please have mercy on me
I asked my pretty mama
Please won’t you have some mercy on little ol’ me
She laughed and walked out the door
saying you just go on and drink that ol’ Blue Tea

Now I’m here all alone
Just drinking down this ol’ Blue Tea
Got no water, no liquor, no woman
All I got is this ol’ Blue Tea
Well Jesus on the Cross got Vinegar
and all I got is this damn ol’ Blue Tea

Well my Lord Jesus!
On da CROSS!
All He got was vinegarrrrrrrrrr

… vinegar as bitter as this Blue Tea
dat’s all my baby left of me.


Friday, December 8, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: Prolegómonos


Two church elders,
t-shirts, shorts,
beer guts, both
sit beside the 
Tree, the Babe,
Joseph and Mary.

They await the third

He's bringing the kolaches.



Sunday, December 3, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Julie's Third Seizure


... The Three Wise Men Go to Buc-EE's <= story title


Mateo 2:1-5

Mateo 2: 8-12

Números 24:7

Belen Efretah, small city

Charlie Dyer



Nahum 3:12


written 2023-1203, but the poem genesis was on 2023-1202

Julie suffers her third seizure
in the two months since
the operation
to remove half the brain tumor

The brothers at the Kingdom Hall
are strangely silent, but
her aunt prays fervently
for healing
to the name
of a baby
born this month,
born to die.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: X-Mass

If it is EX-Mass, does that mean it was formerly Mass but now is no longer Mass?

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: Hank and the Reaper

Hank and the Reaper

Reaper: OK, Hank - can I call you Hank? - it's time, old pal.

Henry: Well, I knew I couldn't stave you off indefinitely.

R: You had a good run.

H: Outlived all my enemies and most of my detractors.

R: Can't ask for much more than that.

H: Well, I've received my prizes on Earth.  Time for my prizes in Heaven.

R: Oh, there are prizes awaiting you, but they're not in ... well, you'll see.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Overheard at Booth 1: The True Virus

... and when they looked back on those fateful times, they realized that the physical virus was not the true killer, but the mental virus.   THAT was the virus that rotted the mind and brittled the soul, until there was nothing left of the human animal but confusion and blind rage.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Jared Leto Biopic

Is it just me, or does Jared Leto look like his award winning role is going to be in a Charles Manson biopic?

Well, I did hear that he says he wants to play a pedophile.

Ew! Gross!

He said he's be training for it.

How to you train for ... OH, SHIT!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Overheard at Booth 1: Disassociation Tomato - written on Nov 18

Disassociation Tomato 2023 November 18


We jumped through a portal and came out the armoire door in a hotel room.  I went over to the window and saw the downtown skyline.  It seemed like we were on the fourth or fifth floor of the hotel.

I put down my backpack on the shelf that had a chair and could be used for a desk.  Above it was a TV screen that looked like the main display panel on the bridge of the USS Enterprise.  It was a beautiful, massive screen.  It looked like it took up the space of the entire wall.  

Also, it was SO THIN.  Barely bigger than the thickness of a cigar box.

I asked Acsa how they did that – I mean, TVs have tubes and electronics and stuff in them.  These are things my friends know better than I do, but I’ve never paid attention much.  All I know is that our TV is on a big shelving unit, which is also made for my dad’s stereo equipment, and sits right on top of the space where he keeps his record collection.

This TV was mounted on the wall, and also had an arm where it could be pulled out and moved to an angle, probably so that you could see it better from the bed.

There was only one bed.

And two of us.


“I need to tell you something,” Acsa said. She took off the hat and the goggles and sat down on the edge of the bed.   “COVID is bad.  I mean, really bad.  Actually worse than the Flu Epidemic of 1919.”

“That the Spanish Flu?” I asked.

“If that’s what you guys call it, yeah.   But COVID is not only worse because it killed millions, and I mean MILLIONS across the world, but it was also worse because it destroyed the ability of people to agree on what reality is.”

“What does that even mean?” I asked her.

“It means this,” she held up her tricorder (I am not going to call it a “cell” – no way, no how, not ever.  It is a tricorder!)  “Everyone was hooked to this.  Everyone believed this.  And there were many many MANY voices on this, and they were all chattering away, and they confused so many people that many more people died.  People died who didn’t need to die.  And really, there is no amount of mathematical study of probablity or Potentialities that will ever give us an accurate number of who might have been saved and who might have lived.”

“That’s horrible!” I said.

“Yes, it is.  And now, I want to tell you, that you could have stopped this.”


That was weird.  Look, she just took me to some Mad Max post-Apolcaptic hellscape, and I’d been seeing deserted streets and empty grocery stores and people afraid to get close to each other, and everyone masked up and running around like they are all “duck and cover” and now Acsa is telling me that somehow I’m the key to all this?

I was like, “No.  No way.”   I’m not THAT guy in THOSE novels who has the secret to “save the day” and all that.  Not me.

It wasn’t me, though.  It all had to do my band, the Ardmore Gongmongers


Asca laid out the case like this:  Dan Maxwell, our bass player, the third of the triad that is the Ardmore Gongmongers, the same guy who described himself as the “John Entwistle” of the group, and wrote songs like “Cecil the Aardvark” (I heard it – it was on the iPod.  It’s HILARIOUS!) … was the same guy who COULD HAVE STOPPED COVID.

Ok, I can tell that you guys are probably rolling your eyes right now, but let me try to explain it to you the way Acsa explained it to me:  Dan, after the band broke up after college, went on to continue his studies in biology, and became a biologist working for a diabetes medicine manufacturer, looking for better diabetes drugs.

If Dan HAD NOT been in the band, he WOULD HAVE met a Chinese exchange student in his medical program, and he would have gone into the field of virology, where he and she would be married and work with both American and Chinese companies, working on treatments for various viruses – like the Spanish Flu of 1919.

What is the one way that Dan takes this course?

No Ardmore Gongmongers.

There are no Ardmore Gongmongers if I’m dead.

At 15.

By a gunshot to my head.


So that’s how it plays out.  Yeah, it’s kind of like a twisted “It’s a Wonderful Life” – kinda like what Howard the Duck experienced in Bizarre Adventures #34 (I love that issue, by the way – I have a mint copy that I keep sealed and I have a copy that I read)

I told Acsa, “Look, in a world with all these millions of people …”

“Billions,” she corrected me.

“Billions,” I said.  “Not just one guy can change things like that.”

“No,” she admitted, “Dan doesn’t make a cure for COVID or anything, but he and his wife work on a team that helps to mitigate the spread.  What they do doesn’t STOP it, but it makes it so that not everybody dies.   And when COVID is just like the flu, it never makes all the people freak out and confuse so many people.”


And to show me what happened, Acsa showed me on her tricorder.  We also spent all afternoon watching the television.

I saw people in Italy, not leaving their houses, singing to each other from their balconies.

I saw refrigerator trucks parked outside of hospitals in New York City, where they were holding all the dead because people were dying so fast and filling up their morgues.

I saw stories of people emptying shelves of toilet paper.  (Didn’t really understand the toilet paper.  I mean, come on guys, just use a washcloth if you have to!)  (I know that might sound gross, but … for real!)

Then I saw government officials of the state saying that we needed to get people back to work and if that means that they give COVID to grandma and grandpa and they die, then that’s the price to be paid to make sure that America stays strong.

That last one really hit me.  That I think weirded me out more than anything else.  That sounded like what they taught us in school that the Soviets tell their people.  DIE so that the STATE can live.

What the hell kind of place IS 2020, when my country started sounding like the Commies?


And then … she showed me the other news: the idea that spread that the government had made COVID to kill the elderly.  Ideas that the Jews had made COVID.  That the Liberals had made COVID.  That the Chinese had made COVID to kill THEIR elderly, but they just messed up and it got out of their contol.  That the Chinese had made COVID to kill AMERICANS.   

That COVID didn’t exist.
That it was just the flu, and the government was using it to control people.

Acsa said, “These were real deaths, real deaths of real people, but the real death was the truth.”

“What was the truth?” I asked her.  “What exactly IS the truth?”

“The Truth,” she told me, “is that everyone who lives anywhere HAS to agree on what reality is.   If they don’t agree on what is happening in front of their eyes, everyone dies.   Alone and scratching at each other’s eyes.”


Look, I know this is hard to believe.  This is hard for me to believe, even now.  But this is the part where I have to let you know that this is coming.  It’s coming.  It’ll be here in 35 years.  I don’t know if I’ll be still around to see it – I mean, to see it AGAIN.  But it’s real.  

Acsa knew it only as the past, because she was born decades after it.   But for her, it was still in the memories of those who’d lived through it, and there had been a lot of “sorting out” she called it, to determine what could reliably be called the “truth” because the survivors who had lived through it were the ones who had completely different sides.  

Which is weird, because all the old people I know are in total agreement: they all grew up in the Depression, they all fought in World War II, they all lived through the 50s and saw their kids become adults in the 60s, and they all agree that everyone my age has it good and that none of us would ever be able to live through the same kind of hardships they had when they were all 15 years old.

Acsa’s old people are completely different.  Half of them say that the world was ripped apart by COVID, and the other half say that COVID never happened and no one ever died, and that the other half just created COVID in their minds in order to try to take their guns away.

I can kinda see why Acsa wanted to spend most of her time with dragons rather than with people.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: NaNoWriMo Shuts Down Forums

Why we can't have nice things.

No idea if any of the grooming accusations are true, but let's just all admit that there are no safe spaces anywhere and it's very sad when some of the spaces we hope were safe turn out not to be ... or at least are accused of not being safe.

But then, I haven't been using the forums anyway. I just use NaNoWriMo to try to finish my novel.

To The NaNoWriMo Community,

We're dropping in to communicate to a broader audience about concerns that were brought to the attention of the Board. The concerns we received related exclusively to activity on our online forums. Though individual issues were varied in nature, they led us to a singular conclusion: that closing down the forums until issues could be properly resolved was the right first step. 

We are aware that a great deal of misinformation and innuendo on the matter is circulating. Though we cannot control speculation and sensationalism, we can be transparent about the questions we’ve received and the action that has been taken. 

The issues brought to our attention include:

  1. Inconsistent moderation and lack of attention to resolving complaints

  2. Concerns about the safety of minors (one volunteer moderator accused of grooming was complained about for not being removed from the forums in a timely fashion)

  3. Dynamics between moderators and community members; concerns about inclusiveness and staff conflicts of interest

The decision to temporarily shut down the forums was made out of a desire to stop and investigate, and to exercise an abundance of caution. Online forums cannot serve as safe and welcoming community spaces without a large-enough team of well-trained moderators.

We are also a 25-year-old community whose growth has outpaced that of the resources in place to support it. It is the Board's opinion that now is the right moment to pause, meaningfully resolve problems, and address complaints and match resources to needs. It's time to press the reset button on the forums. 

This will take time and we appreciate your patience. In the meantime, we need to make a few things absolutely clear:

  • The vast majority of complaints sent to the Board have not been verified, including claims about child grooming. It is important to draw a distinction between the voluntary, precautionary measure of proactively shutting down the forums and measures that might be taken if our thorough investigation confirms the truth of any of these complaints. 

  • The Board received its first complaint on November 7th. This was the Board’s first knowledge of these issues and the first community member outreach that any current Board member had been sent. 

  • Since that date, the Board has been transparent and responsive. You are welcome to view our official statements and findings on the NaNoWriMo main forums

  • We have primarily communicated on the forums about this, but we realized that some commentary was warranted more broadly, which is why we're sending this email. 

Maintaining the Magic of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is a rich, dynamic, global community that reaches far beyond our online forums. Around the world, countless authors are writing amazing things. NaNoWriMo has tremendous reach beyond the forums that continues to lend support and resources to writers. 

Though some of what is being said about the organization is unflattering, we hope you will review our responses and conclude that we are operating to the highest standards of integrity in this matter. We have volunteered to serve on this Board from an abundance of love for the organization, its people and what it aims to do. We will work hard to regain your trust.

We'll end with a Fred Rogers quote we like about what truly happens in challenging situations. "Look for the helpers. There is always someone helping." We want to acknowledge the hundreds (if not thousands) of community members who step forward every day and who have stepped forward in this moment. For every concern we've received in our inbox, we have also received words of encouragement and offers of help.

In Partnership,

The NaNoWriMo Board

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: The Dead Kandinskys "Buy the Dip"

The Dead Kandinskys say,

"They tell us to buy the Dip but they never tell us how much the Dip costs?

Last time when we bought the Dip, we got the Dip home, and it turned out to be a Doofus.

So, we returned it, but they would only exchange it for a Dork."

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: Disassociation Tomato - at the Bookstore


As I sat there, reading, the owner of the bookstore came over with a stack of books crocked under his arm, which he started shelving.  The man looked like he was almost seven feet tall, and had a grey hair that looked like it was once auburn, there were still flecks of red among the grey, which made me think of Autumn turning into Winter, and his long arms and big hands made him look like the perfect Book-Shelving-Machine, the way he pushed books aside to make space for others.

"You're the owner, right?"

"Yes," he said, smiling.

"Nice place you got here."

"Thanks.  I think so, certainly."  From the stack that he was carrying, he pulled one and handed it out to me.  It was a thin trade paperback, looked well-worn and read.  I took it and looked at the cover, a grey cover with an illustration on the front of a boy with a dragon and a cat.  

The title was "Catcher of the Writers."


I looked up at the owner of the bookshop.  I don't even think I said anything.  I think my mouth was just open.  He smiled at me and moved past me, toward the back sections, where I think Acsa was wandering around.   His grey cardigan flapped open and I saw that he was wearing a t-shirt that had the words Ardmore Gongmongers wrapped in a circle around what looked like a shovel.  The shirt was old and faded, and I got the impression that he got it when he saw the band in concert, several decades ago.


I opened up the book and the first line was "I hated the way she smoked, the last time I saw her alive."

Those words really hit me.  I didn't know why then, and still don't, now - how I knew, I mean.  But they were written about my mom.  I just knew.  The description went on to talk about the bandages around her wrists, and the way they trembled as he held her cigarette in the mental ward at the top floor of St John's Hospital.

Yes - exactly where I am now.  In the same room.  Telling you all this onto this stupid tape machine.


Look, I'm getting a little tired here and I kinda want to stop here.  Let's pick this up tomorrow, OK?


OK, let's start again.  Guess I'll get back to where I was - in the Catcher of the Writers.

After the intro, it went on to say, if I can remember it all, something like this:

    If you really want to hear about it, you’d probably want to know what really gave me the love of            reading and literature and all that, but honestly, I’m not going to tell you – not because I’m some sort     of Holden Caulfield jerk*, but because I truly do not know.

There was an asterisk after "jerk" and at the bottom of the page was printed 

    *I am a different kind of jerk, entirely)

Then, the book goes on with this story of a story that he - me, I guess - had read somewhere...     

    I remember a short story that I read once.  A Christmas story.  It was written sometime between the        20s, to the 50s... probably 40s are the most likely.  I think it was in a collection of short stories that        had been printed in the New Yorker. 

    It was about 4 pages long, and it was about a guy, can't remember his name, but I think it was                 George.  He walked up the steps to a Christmas party, and when he walked inside, all the presents         were sitting on the table, and while everybody else was congregated in the other room, he went             through the tags and added his name to each one.  "... and George" 

    Such as "Love from Charles and Sue ... and George!"

    Or maybe the story was at a wedding reception ... that would make more sense.

    I don't know.  That's all I can remember.   Kills me that I can't remember the story, or be able to find         it.  I've looked through my books, the collections of short stories, the collections of Christmas                 stories, collections of New Yorker stories, but I can't find it.


Really freaked me out how this writing sounded just like me.  I kid you not, it was like it was written by me and at the same time, FOR me.  Part of me was smiling because I was thinking, "Cool!  A book written by me that I didn't have to do any work on!"  

Yeah, I know by now this meant that at some point I'd have to put in the work on this book - writing, reading, notes, plotting, researching, editing, re-reading, MORE editing, all that crap.  But I bet there would be a TON of people who would love to just have an idea and then just it into some machine that would spit out a book for them.

But then I thought, that would probably be a loser way to go.  I mean, can you really call it YOUR book if you didn't really put the work into it?

But anyway, I skipped through the Catcher of the Writers and the main aspect of it seemed to be that this guy (me) comes to realize that his main point in life is to encourage other writers, other artists, other musicians, to create, create, create. 

It keeps coming back to the idea that the creative impulse inside humans is the only thing that ultimately saves us from destroying ourselves entirely, both as individuals and as a collective body.

(That's a quote I lifted from the book)

Another passage that I read that really struck me was this - goes something like:

        Marcel Proust once wrote, “… the only true paradise is always the paradise we have lost.”

              But what if that’s not true?

        At least not entirely?

         What if the one true paradise is the one that we have never seen?

        The one that we wish for, the one we yearn for? the one that we see in our dreams?


         What if the one true paradise is the spouse that we have created in our minds?

        The house that we have pieced together out of photos of houses in magazines, or the insides                     of houses that we have seen?

        The rolling ocean when we live in a land-locked state?

        The open fields when we are living in the urban jungle?


        The paradise that we have lost is the one that we can never reclaim, but the one that we have not             yet obtained, that paradise is always perfect, always true.

And that, right there, got me as well ... it speaks to the idea that we should always keep dreaming, keep creating: music, books, art, whatever, because at the end of the day, what we leave behind of our art is the only thing that we have given to the future, and it is the only thing that makes other people, as well as ourselves, feel as though life is worth living.

Art saves lives.  Music, photography, poetry, all that stuff: it saves lives.

And sure, yeah, some - a lot, actually - of artists kill themselves, but have you ever wondered if maybe their art actually kept them alive longer than they would have otherwise? 

Take Hemingway for example - he gave us all those books, all those short stories, but if he hadn't have been a writer, he probably would have taken himself out a long time before.


Look, I know you guys aren't letting me out of here anytime soon, but I'm telling you know, that ... I don't know how to say it ... but I - know better, now.  I know.

Just wanted you guys to know that, too.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: from Disassociation Tomato - What We See When We Wear Funyons as Glasses

What We See When We Wear Funyons as Glasses


Now, to tell you the truth, it’s not like suddenly I was able to see them.  It was a slow process.  It started off just like a flicker of light, almost like a splinter, that flickered across my line of sight.  Think of a shooting star – just a streak – and then there was another, and another.

Then, shapes began to form.  I was still looking at the ceiling tiles, the corner where the ceiling meets the wall, and I could see the tops of the shelves, but the edges of everything began to shimmer.  It’s sort of like the way the light dances in a small stream, when the sun is shining down, and it looks like little flecks of gold leaves on the water.

These flecks began to swirl and bend and form shapes, snake-like, that were taking place around the edges of the shadows of the ceiling and the walls and the bookshelves.

The whole thing gave me the feeling that I had the one time my dad and mom took me to see Dad’s uncle in Colorado, when I was maybe 8 or 9, and we all went out fishing on his lake, and I was to reach into the bucket to grab some minnows to the bait the hook, and the minnows were fast and silvery and slippery and almost impossible to catch with my hands – I remember laughing as slithered through my fingers.  My uncle finally gave me a small net to grab them.

But this was kind of like that – little minnows slashing through the air.

Until they started to come a little bit more into focus, and then I could see that they were dragons.  Like Kit – with the same shimmering scales that changed colors constantly, but they were obviously older dragons, full-grown, and they didn’t move with Kit’s puppy-like dog moves, no, these dragons moved with grace and smoothness and how they flew around the room showed that they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going.

It seemed like they were there and yet, were not.  It’s hard to explain.  Also, I couldn’t really tell their size – even though they seemed close by, they also seemed distant.  I could tell that they were huge, wherever they were, but they were so close and yet so far away, that they did seem small with the distance.

“How come no one has ever seen these through the Funyons before?” I asked Acsa.

“What do you mean?” she said.

“I’m sure we’re not the first people who’ve ever held Funyons up to their eyes before.”

“Have you?”

“Well yeah!  As a kid I did it all the time.  Never saw dragons then!”

“You didn’t give it enough time.  And as a kid, you never got quiet enough to let yourself see them.   But it’s really kind of sad that I’m showing you these dragons and all you can think about is eating Funyons when you were a kid. I mean, here I am showing you something AMAZING and you’re not even saying, ‘Wow Acsa!  This is something almost NOBODY has ever seen before!’ but instead you’re all like ‘How come nobody’s noticed?’”

“Sorry,” I said, but that was instinctive.  I really didn’t know what I was sorry FOR.

“Just look at them.  Look at how they move, how they breathe, how they just … ARE.   Aren’t they beautiful?”

“Yes,” I said.  “Very beautiful.”  But I wasn’t looking at the dragons at that moment.  I was looking at her.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: from "Disassociation Tomato"

the guard was a really great guy, he just seemed kind of lonely.  I guess that;s what all night security guards are like, having to wander around the places all night long with nobody to talk to.  Plus they are probably asleep through most of the day when everybody is out and about and interacting, so they don't really have the same human interaction.  

Kyle was like that - he had kind eyes, even if a little sad,  Bad teeth, but that looked more genetic than from hygiene, and he kept running his hand through a big mop of dishwater blond hair that kept falling over his eyes as he talked.  He told us about his days as a studio musician in Austin before he moved back here to take care of his brother, and he told us about the Ardmore Gongmongers, starting off as though we should know who they were.

Apparently they were a local band back in the late 80s and early 90s - and yeah, I know what you're thinking.  Yes, I know that this is 1985 when I'm talking to you and making these tapes, and I know that this - all of this - is probably going to make you guys keep me locked behind those doors - but you guys asked me to tell you this story and so I'm telling it, and I'm just giving you what Kyle Staedelmeier said to Acsa and me. ... And McCartney.  Like you should probably know by now, he couldn't see Kit.

Kit was, by the way, curled up around Kyle while Kyle spoke.  Kit seemed to like listening to him talk about his band.

They were originally going to be named the Electric Slits, but then they either found out there was another band named that or close to that, or they thought they wouldn't be able to get shows with the name "slit" and they came up with the Gongmongers because that was an old 18th century title of a job for a guy who went down the streets of London, shoveling the shit off the streets.  Because those were the days when people threw their chamber pots out the window onto the street, so somebody had to clean it up, right?

At this point, it reminded me that I'd read where James Joyce had written a collection of poetry called Chamber Music, which he always referred to as "Chamber Pot" music.  Kind of the same way he called "Ulysses" "Useless-ees" - which truly, I always liked about the guy.  I mean, when you can make stupid puns putting down the titles of your own books, that shows that you really know how language can work, how it can be twisted.

But yeah, back to Ardmore Gongmongers - Kyle said that no one in the band was actually FROM Ardmore, but it was a town close by, and they liked how it worked with Gongmongers, and then when they found out that town was named after a town in Pennsylvania and that the word was Gaelic for "High Place" they knew it fit - because all in all, they said that Ardmore Gongmongers gave the image of those who shovel shit from the top of a hill - meaning that they are throwing it DOWN on all the people at the BOTTOM of the hill.   Plus, musically, they could do Irish trad, American folk, mix it all with punk and see what shook out.

I loved his explanation and I told him that I'd love to be in a band like that, and that's when Kyle said something weird to me, "Actually, you remind me of the screamer of our band.  We called him the screamer, not the singer.  His name was Matthew Laycox."

That's when I froze.   Acsa and I hadn't said our names to him, and for a second I had not idea what he was on about.  Was he a Collector who was just getting ready to nab us?  What was going on here?

But then he started talking about how I looked like I could be the guy's son, or how I looked like HIS Matthew Laycox, only a few years younger, and it really did seem then that he was just going on through his memory.  He hadn't seen Matthew in over 15 years, after the band broke up.  He wouldn't say why.  I got the feeling he didn't really want to tell us.

Acsa asked him, "Even if you haven't seen him in awhile, do you know anything about what he's doing now?"

"He had a woman he knocked up, and from what I hear, he's still married to her and she's making him work three jobs still, and their kid should be about your age" (pointing to me) "or about.  That's why it's so weird that you look so much like him.  Weird."

I didn't know what Acsa was getting at, but she seemed to want me to know about this OTHER Matthew, but then it was getting about time for the morning shift to get here, so Kyle told us we better be moving on.  But before we left, he gave me a little shiny slim box, fit right in the palm of my hand.  I asked him what it is, and he said, "You haven't seen an iPod?   Where are you kids from, anyway?"

"Let's just say we're not from around here," Acsa said.

"Well, I want you guys to have my iPod, because it's got all the Ardmore Gongmongers songs on there, plus a few of my own over the years.   I always just made music that I wanted to listen to, myself, but I'd be happy knowing that some people out there are carrying it to places ... not from around here."

He was smiling through those bad teeth and some part of me suddenly wanted to shake the guy's hand and tell him that I was sorry.  Sorry for breaking up the band.

Sorry for something I hadn't even done.   I knew that feeling very well.  Always that.

But this time, I was sorry for something bad that I hadn't even done YET.  That was a new feeling.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: Notes for Disassociation Tomato

From ruminating last night while going to sleep:

Disassociation Tomato

Parking lot of mall.

girls send the collectors after Matthew and Acsa

who run,

bump into a car

race off

Find a parked car.

"will this work?"

"It's a door, ain't it?"

trying to fend off the Collectors while Kit opens the door

Go through - Department store.

"Perfect!" Acsa says.  

They spend the night - change of clothes

separate beds

Awake to Security Guard telling them time to leave.

Has brought them breakfast.

Felon or something.

what year?


iPod with songs by the Ardmore Gongmongers 

the band - their singer 



Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: Israel Bombs Entire Refugee Camp to Get to One Guy Underneath the Refugee Camp

So the headlines today read "ISRAEL KILLS HAMAS LEADER" ... but you read on and you find out that the Hamas leader was located in a tunnel UNDER a refugee camp.  Soooooo, essentially, Israel got to the Hamas leader by BOMBING the refugee camp.

Yet, the headlines do not read ISRAEL BOMBS REFUGEE CAMP.  

Do we see who is controlling the narrative here?

And no, all you racists, before you say, "It's THA JEWSSSS!" I will tell you, it's the government of Israel and of the United States.   Put away your Soros bogeyman and realize that this slaughter is the responsibility of a bellicose state and its arms-dealing benefactor.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: Respect Your Elders

I'm Gen X, and it just hit me today, as I was getting ready for work, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought "man I am starting to look kinda old" and then it hit me that, when we were young, we were taught to respect our elders BECUASE they were old.

I remember thinking how cool it would be that people would respect me for being old when I got old.  But now that I am old, we're suddenly in a culture in which people only respect you if you do what they like.  

So I guess the culture is telling me that I'm gonna have to keep WORKING for respect until the day that i DIE.

... I call bullshit!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Poem of the Day - Feral Luna Watches Everything

Feral Luna Watches Everything

Feral Luna watches everything
as her babes climb all about her.
Golden-eyed, she peers through shadows,
discerning, recording
each footfall, every voice
of the humans who try to pet her.

A scruff of the ear,
a caress of the chin,
but, be mindful, human!
Do not try to pull her
onto your lap, she will
scratch with flurry and scurry
under the armoire, or
hide under the couch,

and from the safety of her
secret nook, she will crouch
and peer out,
discerning, recording,

Feral Luna watches everything.


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Overheard at Table 4: "I have to drive to work and I have no time for myself!"

An employer has a responsibility to provide a safe work environment, but it has ZERO responsibility to ensure that the employees have a comfortable commute.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Friday, October 20, 2023

Overheard at Booth 1: Lucky and Otis Discuss Contrarianism (No, They Don't)

Lucky Moran: Is it just me or has everybody become completely contrarian these days?

Otis Redwing: That hasn't happened.  Not everybody's contrarian.

Lucky: You just proved my point, dude!

Otis: No I didn't.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Overheard at Table 4: Why a Husband Doesn't Cheat

Would you ever cheat on your wife?

Oh hell no!

Afraid of getting caught?

Not that. I already disappoint one woman in bed, I don't think my ego could handle disappointing another.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: 40 Israeli Babies

In the early days of this war, they said Hamas had cut off the heads of 40 Israeli babies.  The original reporter had said she had "heard it" from some soldiers - but that she had no confirmation, and recanted it.

Because it simply was not true.

But, for a day at least, this horrific story reached around the world and infuriated (unnecessarily) countless people.  The situation is already sufficiently horrific without misinformation adding to the angst, anger, despair, and rage.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Poem of the Day "Watch Out for Little Kittens"

Watch out for little kittens!
They will try to trip you.
Not from any malice:
That's just what kittens do.


Monday, October 16, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: Does Your Dog Bite?

I have a dog chained up in a kennel in my back yard.  I feed the dog scraps and when it yaps I slap it to make it shut up.  I've done this for years.

The other day, the dog jumped over the kennel fence and bit my hand, so I said, "This dog's gone feral!" so I shot it.

Who am I?

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Overheard at Booth 2: How Andrew Tate Stole my Wife

Wife: Saw this video by Andrew Tate

Husband: Oh not THAT guy!

W: This one made a lot of sense.  His girlfriend was saying how much she liked how he took charge and made all the decisions, so that she didn't have to think.

H: What the hell?

W: She was saying that as a woman, we work, we decide things on our own, we have so many responsibilities, that when we are with a strong man, we can just relax, and he'll take care of all the decisions, so we can rest and just "be"

H: Sounds like she's an adult when she's not around him and a playtoy when she's with him.

W: Well, I want to be able to relax, so I need you to be more assertive.

H: How?

W: I want you to be more of a leader, more of a MAN, make the decisions.

H: OK, fine!  Stop watching shit from Andrew Tate.  How's THAT for a decision?

W: You can't tell me what to watch.

H: You just SAID I could!

W: Yeah, well, I didn't mean it like that.


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Overheard at Booth 3: Poem "Note Left on a Dining Room Table"

Note Left on a Dining Room Table

I killed myself today.
Thought you should know.
No particular reason
Just seemed like the time to go.



Friday, September 29, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Being the "Head of the Household"

Christian women will say that they want their husband to be "Head of the Household" as in, be the leader, make the decisions, etc.

but what they really mean is that they want the man to make the decisions that the woman wants made BEFORE she even knows she wants them.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Boyfriends and Magazines

Hey, how is the boyfriend of Lil Nas X like a 1950s Playboy Magazine?

Uhhh... they both come in a plain brown wrapper?

Yup.  They both come in a plain brown rapper

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Overheard at Booth 1: Deacon Dad

I think probably one of the toughest things about trying to be a good Christian husband and father, if I am going to be honest, is the constant pressure of "Wow, not only do I need to keep a roof over their heads and the lights on, but I also have to worry about where their immortal souls are going to spend eternity?"

I mean, when you really think about it, that's a LOT of pressure.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: Anomaly 11 The Little Village and the Candymen

Anomaly 11

Once upon a time there was a little village and it was a happy little village and the harvest came in every year and the generations grew and replaced the other generations and for a long time everyone was happy.

Then one year the candymen came to town and they had beautifully colored candy and it tasted so good and the children all loved the candy and they wanted more candy.  Their parents warned them against eating too much of the candy, because too much candy is not good for you, they said, and the children cried out "You're MEAN!  We won't listen to you!" and the children all left the village with the candymen and went off and the parents did not know where they had gone.

Then one day the children came back home when they were grown and the parents did not recognize their children because the children had themselves become candymen and they told the parents, "All the candy has made our stomachs hurt, and we are not happy, because the candy has never filled our bellies.  You should have warned us about the candy."

"We did warn you about the candy," the parents said.  "You didn't listen."

"Shut up!" the children who had grown to be candymen said.  "You are old now and we are still young, and so we are taking all the harvest and we are going to eat all the harvest and you can go live in the barns and we will take the houses and live there and invite other candymen to join us"

And so the aging parents were shoved into the barns, who died there when the winter came, along with the animals, who were untended by the children who had become candymen.

Then Spring came and there was no planting, then Summer, and then Autumn, and there was no harvest, and the children who had become candymen died in the houses, with the windows open and the curtains billowing sadly in the light breeze.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Three Poems for Arboles de Fuego


To dream of
the shore, the black sand,
the birds in the palm trees
behind you,
as you gaze outward
to the Pacific:
the ocean blue
melds with the sky
and their marriage
renders each


The motion of bodies
in line
waiting for COVID tests
in Sonsonate that
day outside the
streets parked with
cars and packed
with people,
the smell of
diesel and pupusas
and beer flooded
the air and the
paint peeled back
from 18th century walls,
and the electrical cables
above the buildings were
like a tangulated web of
synapsed wires,
like a
coal-streaked brain
that had seen
too many


She said she needs a quick weekend away
to rest before her foot operation
And so, I booked a house in Texas Hills,
She said, “Thanks … but I need El Salvador”

Flowers can be transplanted to new soil,
But each petal will always yearn for home.


Sunday, September 24, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Parable of the Good Seed

Are we wheat or weed?
Are we bad or good seed?
How can we really tell
who is or is not bound for Hell?


Mateo 13:24-30

with the explanation in Matthew  13:36-43


Monday, August 28, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: Alpha Males on my Instagram

My wife keeps sending me videos on IG of Tristan Tate talking about looking good in suits, along with some other guy talking about how getting into shape make people think you are wearing an expensive suit when you might just be in a white button-down short.  These guys are all so roided-out and beefed up and strutting around beaches with women looking on in dripping admiration ... it's actually kinda weird.

- I think she might be telling you to hit the gym.

Yeah, that and she's suddenly on this "Alpha Male" kick.  She wants me to be an "Alpha Male"

- That's what the Tate brothers are selling.

Exactly, so I told her, "These guys have been arrested in Romania for sex trafficking.  What they are selling is Toxic Masculinity Bullshit.  You want me to be an Alpha Male?  OK, fine.  Don't ever send me shit from those fucking shitbags ever again!  How's THAT for 'Alpha Male'?

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Overheard at Booth 1: Maui Fight

Wife had been watching a short TikTok Video about the Maui fires and a person was saying that a bunch of investors were swooping in to try to buy land.  the natives do not want to sell their ancestral land to investors who want to build resorts on this prime property.

My wife showed me the video and said, "They're saying that these investors used a laser beam to start the fire."

This particular TikTok video did not make that assumption.  The man in the video was ONLY talking about the vultures trying to swoop in and take advantage of a tragedy before the people could even mourn their loss.

I agreed with my wife that it was definitely a possibility that the fire may have intentionally been set.  I said, "Developers have set fires intentionally before, it's possible they did this time too."  Then I added, "Even if it wasn't intentional..."

"See!  That's why we fight!  In your little brain, you want to say 'even IF!' ... you NEVER believe me.  There is no 'even if' !  It WAS intentional.  Developers set the fire, but you never take my side and you never believe me and you always make fun of me and this is why we can't talk about anything any more, and I don't want to fight because we're supposed to be going out on a date today, but you always seem to want to just dismiss everything I say and we can't agree on anything, we can't even agree on where to go to church, and you're supposed to be the head of this family and you can't even do that!  Now, leave me alone because I want to use the bathroom and I don't want to say anything that I really shouldn't!"



Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: On Jordan Peterson ... <= ew!


Damn that Jordan Peterson!  He's an arrogant prick, but he's the arrogant prick that I wanted to be if I wanted to be an arrogant prick.

Oh honey, you already ARE an arrogant prick.  Just not a famous one.


Monday, August 14, 2023

Overheard at Table 1: Holidays

Columbus day is coming up in October and that pisses people off because they want to call it Indigenous People's Day and some people have a similar problem with Thanksgiving because white people in the past did bad stuff to Native Americans ...

and Christians are hating on Halloween because it's Satanic and the non-believers hate Christ in Christmas and they say stupid shit like "God raped Mary" and then people are mad at Mother's Day because they had shitty mothers and the same thing for Father's day because they had abusive or molesting dads ...

and people who want to be single or who don't have a romantic partner absolutely DESPISE Valentine's Day and Republicans sure as hell hate Labor Day and peaceniks don't like Veterans Day and people who say the American empire trampled over the rights of Central Americans really hate Memorial Day

and that's the same reason why people are all like OH WELL INDEPENDENCE DAY sucks because that's Americans enshrining the SLAVE TRADE ...

you know what?  Let's just cancel ALL HOLIDAYS!

All of them.  GONE!


No more holidays, for no one.  Ever.

You're welcome.  A few fewer things for some segment or other to bitch about.

Buncha whiners!

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Watching "Under the Queen's Umbrella"

Watching "Under the Queen's Umbrella"

Me: So, who are all those kids taking the test.

Wife: Four are the queen's sons, all the rest are from the King's concubines.

Me: Wow.  It's good to be king!

Wife: DUDE!  You can't even please ONE!

Me: *sad face*




Friday, August 4, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: Car Keys and a Boatload of Cash

It has become quite evident that God has not, indeed, blessed America, but rather,

God has given America the keys to the Charger, along with a fistful of hundred dollar bills,

knowing full well that America will get blasted on cocaine and beer, and rage that car to the end of the highway, off a cliff into the ocean, taking out as many pedestrians as it can along the way.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Horrorscope for July 31

Horrorscope for July 31

Aquarius – 1 of you will die today

Pisces  – 1 of you will die today

Aries – 1 of you will die today

Taurus – 1 of you will die today

Gemini – 2 of you will die today.  Sucks to be you.

Cancer – 1 of you will die today.  Of cancer (but of course!)

Leo – 1 of you will die today, but at least you’ll go down fightin’

Virgo – 1 of you will die today

Libra – 1 of you will die today

Scorpio – You guessed it.  Venom/poison.

Sagittarius – You know the drill.

Capricorn – No death. Just a boatload of maimin’

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Overheard at Table 2, Tarzan and the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs

 ... annnnnnd following on the heels of yesterday's revelation, I was trying to read this book (the 9th Tarzan book by Edgar Rice Burroughs) on the plane coming back to Houston from Newark.   

While I do enjoy the fact that the books show Tarzan as more than the grunting fool portrayed in the movies, and chapter one opens with a well written scene of the lion cub witnessing the death of his mother, chapters two and three seemed poorly written and indicative of a writer who was more pushing through the years to rush to some future story than desiring to build up the suspense. 

Tarzan has a bratty son, seems to be almost worshipped by the African tribes (so, yeah, in our contemporary culture, this smacks of White Savior Syndrome) and chapter three with the weird relation between Flora and the Spanish actor who resembles Tarzan ... well, let's just say, I was not really intrigued to go further.

It's not badly written, but again, from the book the day before, there are other things I want to read, and so I shall cast this back into the world and move on to other tomes.

First copyright 1922

This Ballentine Edition 1976

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: The Code of the Executive

Perhaps it has since been revised and updated, but this 1997 edition is not only outdated, but it is a relatively insipid read.  While the idea is brilliant - to take the Bushido code and apply it to Executives (by this, he obviously means upper Management, those who have direct contact and responsible for support of the CEO)  - the actual advice reveals nothing new.  There are the ideas of studying your business even while not at work, making certain that your CEO is always prepared for meetings, that audio-visual for any conference has been tested, that you have your golf game adequate, etc.   

As I said: a bit pat, and now even a bit dated.  Yes, this book does speak to the need for absolute integrity, and yes, perhaps I was a bit ruffled when it suggests that I, as an Executive, shouldn't focus too much on my creative writing, but the one thing that I took away from this book was that time is short and my days are now shortening, and it does not good to waste precious time on books that I do not find enjoyable. 

So I haven't finished it.  Therefore, this can't be added to my list of 1,000 Books.  But I've read enough to put it here for the rest of you ... and hey, if it's been brought up to date, please let me know.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Overheard at Table 2: The Whole Government is in on it ...

I looked up what you sent me today from that Rodas lady.

And do you believe me now?

What you sent me said that she's saying the entire government is feeding children to a worldwide sex trafficking ring.  What she actually said to Congress is that "Whether intentionally or not, it could be stated that the government has become the middleman in sex trafficking"  That's basically just saying the government dropped the ball

NO IT'S NOT!  I THOUGHT YOU WERE SMART?  HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPID! It's the government, the entire government.

You're saying the entire two million government employees are involved in trafficking children?

Yes YES!  That's why they don't want us to see Sound of Freedom!


Friday, July 14, 2023

Overheard at Booth 1: Really Doesn't Matter

Really doesn't matter the actors on strike over AI, because at the end of the day, the execs already won.

What makes you say that?

They say they're up in arms over AI using their faces and trying to say that public doesn't want that, but really doesn't matter because at the end of the day the public don't care if that's really Tom Cruise or Timothy Chamalet or Zendaya or Margot Robbie's faces or just some AI image of the faces because all they want's the image.

Come on, now, sure they want to know that's a real actor talking.

They didn't care about Gollum being CG.  Or Rocket in the Guardians.

That's motion capture, that's different.  Actors still shooting scenes.

That's where it started though, all that background, CG.  Not a real set.  

Of course, all that people want is to go the movies to escape to worlds of fantasy.

Which is why the AI faces don't matter to the people.  Carrie Fisher - the last Star Wars.  People thought it was silly, but no one said it was WRONG. 

I think a lot of people said it was wrong.  The actress was dead and they were using her face.

But not enough said it was wrong to ever make them say, "we promise never to do this again."

OK, I'll give you that one.

What I'm saying is that AI will replace Mo-Cap.  Because AI, at the end of the day, don't go on strike, and it really doesn't matter to people who, as you said, ALL that people want is to go the movies to escape to worlds of fantasy.


What The Rise of Skywalker means for Leia | SYFY WIRE


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Poets All Ages

The young poet feels too much.

The old poet has seen too much.

The middle-aged poet has just the right touch.



Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Overheard at Booth 3: Crazy World

It's a crazy world.

Sure is.

How do you stay sane in a world like this?

Easy.  You don't.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: Colin Through a Glass, Dimly

Just saw the first four episodes of Colin in Black and White.

How is it?

Well, I know it's from his memories, so it's GOT to be the truth, right, but damn, he makes northern California in the aughts look like Tulsa Oklahoma in the 80s!  I mean, seriously are we to believe that during the Dubya Bush years that a brown high school kid with his white middle-aged parents standing RIGHT BESIDE HIM are going to have a hotel clerk ask them if they are feeling in any danger?

Well, its his memories, might have happened.  Lots of brown kids get accosted ... and killed all the time.

Still, it just seemed like all the brown characters had depth and all the white characters were stereotypes.

Maybe if whites weren't such stereotypes themselves, they would be portrayed as so milky white and pasty all the time.

Sounds like you would really like the show



Watch Colin in Black & White | Netflix Official Site

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Overheard at Table 3: It Is Not Drag Queens Coming For Our Kids, It's AI

Heard on NPR yesterday - rebroadcasting some BBC show - with some tech genius making the case for continuing with the rollout of AI.  He was saying that, while we should continue to implement guardrails, we should not halt the advent of AI altogether.  Imagine, he said, each student in the world having their personal AI - education would be accessible to everyone, not just those who could afford it.

THAT! I exclaimed, right there in my car, is EXACTLY what I said about the Internet in the 1990s - that it would make information accessible to all, and there would be a general lifting of all minds.

I was wrong THEN, and this guy is wrong NOW.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Overheard at Table 4: Everything Causes Cancer

Boy, I sure hope I never get cancer because then my wife will tell me that it was because I had a root canal last year or drank that one soda pop at my cousin's birthday party or bought a pack of deli meat that wasn't free of sodium nitrite.


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Overheard at Table 4: Two Cryptoquotes




"Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance."

— Unattributed



"All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire. "

— Aristotle