Code…or Sinatra?

You know those spy mayhem stories (or their parodies) where two secret agents sidle up to each other, cast shifty-eyed glances at passersby, and say:

Guy in Trench 1: The table has a wobbly leg.

Guy in Trench 2: When that happens, I stick a matchbook under it.

Trench 1: That would make the chairs wobblier still. I might take them to the shop.

Trench 2: The season is all wrong for woodworking. Perhaps enjoy a hot air balloon ride.

Yes, there’s nothing like spy code, unless you’re having fun with spy code. There’s nothing like Sinatra in good voice either, the big band swinging behind him, the perfect pitch and control, playful lyrics from Sammy Cahn, Cole Porter, you name it. Both things thrive on timing and clever wordplay. So why not combine them? Hey, it worked for peanut butter and chocolate. Fried chicken and waffles, too, and don’t tell me they didn’t think the first person to slap those two together was a little tetched.

Let’s give it a go. The following is a 5-question test of Continue reading

An Open Letter to Cap’n Crunch Regarding the Current State of Crunchberry Handling

Dearest Captain Crunch,


There you are, the famed naval commander, successful merchant and beloved naturalist, the brave explorer, pictured on cereal box after cereal box on our shelves, your eyes bulging with glee, silver fox mustache sparkling, hand extended out in pride toward a label declaring “Oops! All Berries!” To repeat, here is yet another serious crunchberry overfill situation, and again all you and your trading company can say about your latest disaster is “Oops.”

Some fifty years ago, you sailed the famed S.S. Guppy through pirate-infested channels and great heaving oceans, then onto the ill-drawn corners of the globe where there be dragons. You pressed your crew onward, always onward, until the day Continue reading

Behind the Short Story: “Death or Taxes”

Behind the Writing Scenes of “Death or Taxes,” published in the July ’14 issue of Mysterical-E.

Summer 2011: it was that purplish state of dawn. My eyes flew open. My breath caught in my throat. Inspiration had come. It was ready to bubble out, like it or not.

And I liked it. In short order I had finished 1800 words of unabashed crime fiction/ dark comedy, with the requisite twist-em-ups and even a gun. In it a hit man whacked a mob accountant in order to assume his identity and then whack the real target: the U.S. Marshal coming to bring in the accountant. Good tension, wry voice, some turns of phrase, and oh yeah, the gun.

In all It was brilliant…ly inspired crap.

Of course, in 2011, I didn’t see Continue reading