These are the days of Flonase and Mucinex, to calm the annoying seasonal cough; of shorts and Popsicles to cool down the body; of Honeywell fans and open windows, to create a more comfortable environment because the days and nights are so stale and airless.

I walked downtown this morning to get some groceries. I tried to get out before the main heat started for the day but it was a waste of time. The sun was already blazing and the humidity was in full force at 9am. They were having the annual sidewalk bazaar on Main St. and when I passed the kettle corn booth I was hit with the heat from the machines and almost collapsed. I don’t know how those people in the booth are going to survive the day (but at least they have kettle corn).

I carried two bags of groceries back to my apartment – they weren’t light bags – and when I got to my front door it was like coming home from wandering the desert. The sweat was pouring off me like the condensation off the bottles of root beer and Sunkist orange I was carrying. I hate to change my shirt the second I got inside.

And yes, I know I just typed “I hate to change my shirt” when I meant “I had to.” I think I was in a hurry to use the word “hate,” as in, “boy, I really hate August.”

What I’ve Been Up To

I haven’t updated this site in a few weeks so I thought I’d pop in and tell you what I’m up to. I got a haircut.

Oh, I also whacked myself in the testicles with a can of Gillette Foamy (regular scent). It was one of those “shaving cream can to the groin” injuries you always hear about but never think is going to happen to you.

I’m also working on the next Letter which I’ll mail out next week. If you haven’t subscribed yet, here you go.

The Fourth, White Castle, and Me

I’ve never been a big Fourth of July guy. Oh, it’s a fine holiday, it’s just that it’s one of those holidays that I don’t really celebrate. I think it’s because it involves all of the things I dislike: summer, the sun, the heat, the beach, parades, wearing shorts, sitting near a hot grill, traffic, and looking at people wearing flip-flops (I don’t want to see anyone’s feet and no one needs to see mine). Also, I haven’t had a/c in my apartment in 25 years so the heat isn’t something I can escape.

I exchanged e-mails with my sister yesterday and she talked about how my brother-in-law keeps the a/c in their house too cold, which just might be the cruelest humblebrag I’ve ever heard.

This is how lame my Fourth of July celebration always is. I have burgers, but they’re White Castle burgers. And not only are they White Castle burgers, they’re the microwaveable White Castle burgers you get at the supermarket. Hey, I like them (the secret is to add another slice of cheese to each one and a little pepper).

Anyway, hope you had a Happy Fourth. Here’s the new issue of The Saturday Evening Post with an appropriate cover.

RIP Harlan Ellison

I’ve been reading all of the tributes to Harlan Ellison. A lot of people have an Ellison story, and while I never got a late night phone call from him I did exchange notes with him a few times.

I used to frequent the forum – actually, it’s called Harlan’s Art Deco Dining Pavilion – at Ellison’s official site. He would never show up in the forums – he hated the web and computers – so fans would just talk amongst themselves, share stories, ask the webmaster and Harlan’s wife Susan about books they had for sale, that sort of thing. And then one day…there he was! Answering questions on the forum and asking some of his own (I always pictured him pounding out his responses on his Olympia and snail-mailing them to the guy who runs the site).

He became a semi-regular on the boards, and I got to correspond with him on a few occasions. I’d have to look for the posts themselves – I haven’t been there in a while and this was probably 15 years ago – but I remember Harlan turning me on to one of his favorite Raymond Chandler stories (“Pickup on Noon Street”), giving me his thoughts on Cyril Kornbluth, and advising me on where I could get a good typewriter (he told me to call this guy).

In his younger days he worked every job you could possibly work, from cab driver to door-to-door salesman to short order cook; he wrote one of the best Star Trek episodes (and battled Gene Roddenberry about it); wrote a few thousand short stories, novels, novellas, scripts, and essays; won every single award award a science fiction writer (he hated being called a science fiction writer) could win; was involved in a dozen different memorable controversies; was a fierce protector of writers; appeared on The Simpsons; marched with Martin Luther King Jr.; and had a key role in the most famous magazine article of all-time. And those are only a few of the highlights of a 60+ year career. Not a bad resume.

RIP Harlan. Now I have to go buy all the books of yours I don’t already own.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

They’re doing a new Spenser movie for Netflix, and the Boston private eye is going to be played by…Mark Wahlberg?

I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. Maybe I just have fond memories of the 1985-88 ABC series with Robert Urich and the books by Robert B. Parker (now helmed by Ace Atkins – this film, which I’m sure is the first of a series, will be based one of his novels), but this seems ill-advised. Wahlberg just doesn’t seem to have the look, and why in God’s name does the plot revolve around Spenser getting out of jail? Spenser had too much honor and class to go to jail, unless it’s one of those “went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit” plots. But there’s really no reason for him to be coming out of prison. It seems like they’re trying to modernize Spenser and make him more gritty, and too many times modernizing and making something more gritty means “he served time in jail and turned his life around.” And if they take out the literary quotes and the cooking then Spenser is just another guy investigating something.

Oh God: he’s going to have several tattoos, isn’t he?


Future Photos

I got an invitation to my 35th high school reunion and had to laugh. This was after crying, of course, upon the realization that, my God, it’s my 35th reunion?!? But the laughter was because of what the invitation said:

Bring your memories of the past and photos of the future.

So I’m supposed to not only go to my 35th reunion they also expect me to time travel?

I’ve never gone to any of my high school reunions. I didn’t go to the 10th or the 15th or the 20th or the 25th or 30th, so I doubt I’ll be going to this one. I still keep in touch with the good friends I had in high school, and since I still live in my hometown I see others at the supermarket and the bank. I have a vague interest in seeing what a few others are up to but not enough to actually go to the party. If someone could just tell me what the others are up to that would be enough for me (I’m not on social media but I wonder about the people who are – is the reunion different when they already know where each other works, what they look like now, and what they had for dinner last night?)

If I did have those future photos I’m pretty sure they would show me not present at the 40th and 50th reunions. But who knows. 50 is a pretty important number.

P.S. PBJ is back (again) but I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it. I’ve ended it so many times you may think I’ll do it again. No regular schedule but I’ll post something every now and then.


Here are the things I haven’t done the past few weeks (besides update this site):

– sat on my couch
– worn sneakers/shoes
– worn jeans/pants I have to zip or button
– bent down
– lifted anything over 10 lbs.

Don’t worry, I haven’t joined one of those weird religions that doesn’t let its members associate with couches or sneakers, I had an operation. It was my birthday and I thought, “what gift can I get for myself this year?” And the answer was obvious: surgery.

(No big deal, everything’s fine.)

I’ve spent the past few weeks in a leather reclining chair. I’ve been doing everything from this thing: reading, eating, watching TV, working on the laptop, even sleeping. I’ve become one with a piece of furniture. My summary of my experience with it is this: it’s fine to sit in but it’s deceptively uncomfortable to sleep in overnight.

If anyone at CBS is reading this, I’m available to write one of those buddy procedurals you seem to like, about a detective who solves mysterious crimes without leaving his reclining chair. He can even have a smart female sidekick who helps him from a reclining chair next to him. It’s Elementary meets Ironside. We can call it… The Recliner.

By the way, the birthday was number 53. But 53 isn’t one of the big birthdays like 16 or 21 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 65, so forget I even mentioned it.