a tongue-twisting tale of terrific terror

Catherine Cummings contracted a condition called cowpox;

she coughed the color of carbuncle and cut a contusion from convulsions.

She caught cankers and cold sores and cavities from caries,

cataplexy from collywobbles,

and cholera from chronic colitis.


Christopher Columbus came cruising along,

he gave her chlamydia, crabs, and the clap.

She concussed and collapsed into a coma.

Catherine’s cousin contacted Columbus to crack the code

of Catherine’s casket of commodities.


Columbus quickly cracked the code of Catherine’s casket

only to see a clear, cold curse:

May he who cracks this code contract cowpox, convulsions,

caries, collywobbles, cholera, colitis, chlamydia, crabs and the clap.


miss muscle beach contest

August, 1951. Jack takes a break from Congress in Washington, D.C. to judge the first Miss Muscle Beach Contest in Venice Beach, California. After much deliberation, the judges choose a gal with Greta Garbo legs.
miss muscle beach 1951

Jack surveys the line of beauties to decide which ones to collect phone numbers (what the hell, why not all of them?). He walks over to the newspaper stand and starts reading about the Korean Conflict when he bumps into Marilyn.

‘Excuse me,’ he says as he lingers for a while.

‘That’s quite all right,’ she answers in a breathy voice. She continues her conversation with a man in horn-rimmed glasses. She’s a vision in a frilly two piece polka-dotted bathing suit.

Marilyn and the man both look at Jack who is standing there pretending to read trying not to look awkward.

‘It was nice meeting you, Mr. Bradbury,’ she says as she turns to Jack. They walk along the sandy shore and palm trees.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut your conversation short,’ he says in his Boston accent.

‘It’s okay, I had been talking to him for a while now. In fact, I was on my way to the Miss Muscle Beach Contest but he was so interesting. He’s a science fiction writer and I study literature at UCLA. By the way, you don’t sound like you’re from around here. On vacation?’

He doesn’t answer right away. He’s in a daze from her voice. Then he snaps himself back. ‘Yes. I’m a congressman.’

‘A congressman? Oh my. Do I call you sir?’

‘Nah. Just Jack. Wanna swim?’

‘Of course!’

The water is cool against the Los Angeles heat. It feels good against the wrenching back pain he got from saving men’s lives on the PT-109 in the war. Marilyn jumps up and down laughing in the waves. She glistens like a mermaid, she belongs in the water.

He thinks about his father pressuring him to marry. He’s 34 years old and needs to run for the senate if he’s going to run for president. He can’t do that as a single man.

This was his older brother’s job but he died in the war. Jack was supposed to do what he wants like sun on the beach, swim with lovely blondes and judge beauty contests. He wasn’t supposed to settle down and run for president.

Dad will never accept Marilyn. Besides, she’ll never want to be a boring senator’s wife in Washington. Jack can’t see her going to tea, stuffing those boobs into a suit jacket as she chats with other senator wives. Imagine her trying to talk to Mother about sending the kids to boarding school. Not in this lifetime.

Happy Happy Happy George Harrison’s Birthday


May you always walk on cloud nine
May the gnomes in your gardens always be grinning
May your Wellingtons never be heavy
May you always have a ukulele handy
May you always know what life is
May you always be best friends with your mate
After he just boinks your wife
When I say love one another
You don’t have to take it literally
But anyways
May your guitar never weep
May the sun always rise
And always handle each other with care

Today is George’s 71st birthday! I wish it were a national holiday. We could celebrate by sitting cross-legged while learning how to play sitar.  However, I can’t sit cross-legged due to spinal fusion surgery so I’d have to stand and play the tambourine.

There are only a few songs that make you stop whatever you are doing or thinking and experience the moment. “Here Comes the Sun” does that for me.  Of course, the majority of George’s songs does that to a fanatic like me but that song I’ve heard since the womb.  Today’s kids have heard Mozart in utero. I heard the Beatles.  So there.

A 4-legged 4th of July

Happy 4th of July from Ronald Reagan Sports Park!

Animals love to celebrate as well.

My dogs are afraid of fireworks so they have to stay home.

As you can see they are not too happy about it.

This guy loves the park. Boo, eat your heart out!

Dressed to the caNINES!


Ooh, a leopard spotting!

Yes, I know I have lovely eyes.

Ohhhhhhhh, say can you see?

You can’t tell from the pic, but these dudes are Packer fans!

Proud to be an American-ine.

Standing guard.

What, you’re serving wieners?

This schnauzer wishes you a happy 4th of July!

knotts soak city? yes, soak city!

The view of the wave pool from our cabana

our cabana where husband played with ipad

the decor looks like something out of an early 1960s surf town, ala Oceanside or Huntington Beach, while songs like “Pipeline” played over the speakers.

holding tubes while the waves come

check out my daughter in lower right corner, using proper streamline position she learned in swimming lessons. so proud!

see? he’s happy.

I must thank our gracious hosts for letting us play with them.

I must lead the creative life: my correspondence with Ray Bradbury

“Tom! Come see the play next Sat night. -Ray” Bradbury thought I was a guy named Tom which was perfectly all right with me.

Ray Bradbury died this week. and his death couldn’t have been timed more perfectly.  I had been out of the routine of writing every day because as most insecure writers feel, I did not know if what I think means anything new or important.

A quote by Bradbury flashed through my mind a few days ago.  Sometimes that happens before I learn of someone dying.  I don’t think it’s a sixth sense, it’s more kismet.  The quote is from Zen in the Art of Writing:

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now, it’s your turn. Jump!”

His routine was to write a thousand words in the morning (the landmine) then spend the rest of the day editing (putting the pieces together).

About 3 years ago I was mesmerized by an English teacher friend who had been corresponding with Bradbury for years.  I thought I’d give it a try and send him two of my poems.  He sent them back to me with this note scrawled:

“Tom!” AI (I think) Thanks! – Ray” I guess my handwritten name might have looked liked Tom to the 89-year-old Bradbury.

He included the next item which is my favorite piece.  It’s a brochure about Fahrenheit 451 in Spanish.  You can see the ragged edges, where he cut it to fit into the envelope I included with my poems:

“Tom! Love!”

Here is the play he invited me to, Falling Upward:

Although I included an envelope, I mistakenly forgot to include a stamp.  Luckily Bradbury had a stamp of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he referred to as “Ray’s Papa.”

In a story he tells on his website about how he became a writer, he talks about meeting a magician named Mr. Electrico at a carnival:

Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, “Live forever!”

It was then, Bradbury said, that he knew he must lead the creative life.  And through that creative life, he did exactly as Mr. Electrico commanded him.