The inimitable Claire Zulkey of has invited yours truly to participate in a humorous reading at the Hideout, the coolest bar in Chicago. Check out her website for more information about other performers as the date nears. Last time I was there, the readers included Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Wendy McClure, author of the literary hoot, I’m Not The New Me. My personal favorite was a hilarious video of the effects of driving from Chicago to Des Moines (a six-hour trip) with the only song on your stereo being ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” Come on down to the party. The Hideout is secreted at 1354 W. Wabansia in Chicago.


Keith Olbermann on MSNBC takes on the thankless task of listing the top ten monkeys in American culture. Talk about a contentious topic for the water cooler!

I’m glad he stuck his neck out and voiced his opinion, but among all the important simians he omitted perhaps the best use of monkeys on television ever, “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.” I hope the list will be revised soon, possibly eliminating that hack Bonzo–he rode Reagan’s coattails for his entire career.

And let’s not forget Lancelot’s side project, the proto-simian garage band the Evolution Revolution. (Oh, longing for the days when that kind of title was merely a joke and not a politicaly rallying cry.) Perhaps my affection stems from the way my dad, years earlier, used to mock rock and roll on the radio as “monkey music.” Who knows? Who cares? Rock on, Lancelot!


One day a man shopping in an antique store found an intriguing curio of a small, brass figure of a rat. He liked the geegaw so much that he took it to the store owner and inquired about the price.

“Ah,” said the owner mysteriously. “The rat will cost you $10, but the story behind the rat will cost you another $90.”

“Keep the story,” said man, “I just want the rat.” He handed over his $10 and went on his way.

As the man walked down the street with his new brass rat, he began to notice he was being followed. From out of doorways and up from sewer grates came real live rats. As he walked, he attracted more and more. Soon a hundred or more rats were at his heels. The man broke into a trot to get away from the vermin, but the swarm only grew larger. He ran and ran, but couldn’t escape them.

Finally, he ran up a bridge over the river in town and threw his brass rat into the water. From some unknown reason, all the live rats followed the brass rat, threw themselves into the river, and drowned.

Shaken and confused, the man walked back to the antique shop. “Well now,” said the owner, “are you ready to hear the story behind the brass rat?”

“The hell with your story,” the man said. “I just want to know where I can buy a brass Republican.”


A week ago at the comics store, a slip of the tongue gave birth to a whole potential literary genre. One clerk was asking another if he had read “Queen and Country,” saying it was an exciting example of espionage writing.

The other clerk said, “Pardon? Did you just say ‘Lesbianage’?”

New ground for thriller writers to….I just can’t think of a verb that doesn’t have a smutty connotation. Sorry.


I’ve wanted to launch a blog for about a year. I know, I know—I’m late getting into the format, the genre, the idiom, or whatever you want to call it. The November election was how I’d lost my innocence (yeah, I know, I’d better get in line). During that Autumn of Discontent, ffter obsessively checking all the big-name blogs for the latest egregious examples of stupidity, hubris and conniving from Bush and Kerry (but almost always Bush), I began to appreciate the many possibilities of blogging.

My intention was to launch one before the election, but at the time, I was reading too many blogs to actually figure out how to write one. Anxiety, agita and apoplexy were also making it hard to focus on anything constructive. After the election, I needed a little cooling down period. (Okay, a big cooling down period.) Then the holidays began, and free time became more scarce.

In December came National Monkey Day, a more benign version of what we all saw on November 7. Could I get my blog up by then, to promote the importance of our simian pals to American life? With the anti-evolutionists actually making ground in many school districts across the country, it seemed like our beleaguered bonobo brethren could use all the help they could. But the answer, again, was no.

Fast forward through six more months of personal excuse-making and the extra work involved in getting my entire website overhauled, and we come to the present day. Now I have my own little bloggy up and running, with my picture on it and everything, and where am I? Out at the family cottage with my wife and kids, with only a very shaky dial-up service at hand to tap into mundus electronicus. There won’t be a lot of linking to other sites for a while, so the main attraction of the site for now will be just my own scrivening exercises and a bad fart joke or two. Please bear with me. It’s bound to get better.

Many thanks to Tristan Tamplin for his great work in slapping my site together from a lot of ill-fitting materials. He actually makes me look pretty together here.