23 More Short Stories of 23 Words or Less, Vol. 2 | Black Sunshine Media

23 More Short Stories of 23 Words or Less, Vol. 2 | Black Sunshine Media. Fans of Vol. 1, check out Vol.2, won’t you? “There was a time when nothing short of Tiffany’s death would satisfy Lauren’s lust for vengeance.”   Continue reading 23 More Short Stories of 23 Words or Less, Vol. 2 | Black Sunshine Media

20/20: The End of the Power Pop Rainbow

I’ve been meaning to write something/anything about these 20/20 cats for at least two years; for whatever reason, they consistently fall through the cracks. Yet, this may be the most appropriate introduction for a band that went virtually unnoticed during its lifespan. I’m going to let Allmusic fill you in on the details, but 20/20 to me is a band that takes everything good about … Continue reading 20/20: The End of the Power Pop Rainbow

Guilty Pleasures and Irrational Aversions – Round 2

For most of my life, I have enjoyed beer as much as it has enjoyed me. Somewhere along the line, I stopped enjoying beer. As much as I didn’t like the taste, I really didn’t like the way it made me feel: bloated and sloppy. Then beer became an aversion. Fortunately, drunks have options. So I switched to a strict regimen of red wine, and … Continue reading Guilty Pleasures and Irrational Aversions – Round 2

Why Does September Suck So Bad?

Blanket apologies to readers with birthdays, anniversaries, and/or otherwise significant events which fall in the ninth month of the Gregorian calendar year, but September is by far the most bleak, hopeless, and depressing month of all. Summer is over. We now stare headlong into the eve of autumn and the abyss of winter. It’s also back to school time, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing … Continue reading Why Does September Suck So Bad?

The Slightly Less Terrible of Two Terrors

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of … Continue reading The Slightly Less Terrible of Two Terrors

BSM Joints: Frank ‘n Hank – Low Budget Libations in Koreatown

As it were, I found myself with a night to kill in Los Angeles. A Google search for “dive bars in L.A.” turned up Frank ‘n Hank, a throwback, low-brow watering hole purportedly frequented by Charles Bukowski when the joint was run by its original owners: Frank the father, and Hank the son. And Koreatown wasn’t Koreatown – we’re talking 1960s and 70s – it … Continue reading BSM Joints: Frank ‘n Hank – Low Budget Libations in Koreatown

The Johnny Cash Show’s Top 20+ Guest Performances

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Johnny Cash as an example of the songwriter I didn’t want to emulate, and nobody said anything and that’s fine. I meant no disrespect. At all. In fact, he didn’t even write “A Boy Named Sue”; that was Shel Silverstein. There are few people who ever lived that I would say you gotta like, but you gotta like … Continue reading The Johnny Cash Show’s Top 20+ Guest Performances

Life is a Story, Kids

Story 1During my fleeting tenure as a summer school English teacher in a Bay Area high school, one of my favorite jams was to tell the kids that “life is a story.” We had a lot of time to kill during those two months, and when we weren’t watching The Jerry Springer Show or CNN, we’d hold informal group conversations. Sort of like an “Ask Me Anything” type-deal. Many times I tried to work our reading assignments into the dialogue, but they generally were not interested in talking about Their Eyes Were Watching God.

At some point in the first semester, they were asking me all sorts of questions about my life, particularly my wayward youth. They were insatiably curious about how I wound up a summer school teacher—and a substitute teacher no less—when clearly I was the highest guy the room. There was no doubt about that. Anyway, I was telling them about the time I saved my friend from drowning in a quarry after jumping off a 50-foot cliff, and in order to clearly demonstrate the heroism and danger involved, I needed to diagram the location on the dry erase board. We spent the rest of the day developing this concept called “Story Time”, which basically involved me spending an entire hour telling a story, usually using the dry erase board to draw maps and diagrams, but also to spell out and define words they didn’t understand, like for instance, euphemism. Sometimes I asked for volunteers to act out certain scenes. As shoddy and lazy as my methods were, the kids loved it and I truly believe they learned something from me. Exactly what that was I’ll never know.

The following is a chapter of an extended short-story entitled “The Substitute”, which is part of an unpublished manuscript I’ve had sitting on ice for about a year. Though fictionalized and paraphrased, it is based entirely on a true story. Only the names and location has been changed.

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