Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of the greatest comic strips of all time is turning 60 on October 2nd. No, Beetle Bailey turned 60 on September 4th. Peanuts debuted in eight newspapers. It currently runs in over 2,500 even though new strips are no longer being produced.

Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 26, 1922 and grew up in St. Paul. Schulz had always wanted to become a cartoonist and achieved his goal in 1947 when the St. Paul Pioneer Press began printing his comic strip Li'l Folks. In 1950, Schulz submitted his strip to United Feature Syndicate who agreed to syndicate his strip. Schulz was hoping to name it either Li'l Folks or Good Ol' Charlie Brown but the syndicate instead chose Peanuts after the Peanut Gallery on TV's "Howdy Doody". Schulz--nor anyone else--ever heard of a child being called a peanut and resented the name for the rest of his life, never referring to the name only as "the strip with Charlie Brown and Snoopy".

Schulz suffered a stroke in November of 1999 and it was learned he had colon cancer. On December 14th, Schulz announced his retirement and on February 12, 2000, Schulz passed away in his Santa Rosa home. The next day, the last Peanuts strip ran. Schulz's family followed his wishes that the strip not be continued.
"To the very end, his life had been inseparable from his art. In the moment of ceasing to be a cartoonist, he ceased to be." -David Michaelis Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

In honor of Peanuts sixtieth anniversary, I originally had a hodge-podge of strips from the 1950s until the very last one. Those strips were removed in the Great Photobucket Massacre but here is the link to the Peanuts comics now on

Shortly after Schulz died, several cartoonists did tributes to Schulz and Peanuts.  In fact, For Better or For Worse published a valentine to Charles and Jeannie:

In an interview, Schulz stated that he could never have Charlie Brown kick the football because it wouldn't fit in with the strip's world.  As Schulz signed his final strip, he teared up when he realized the Round-Headed Kid would never kick that football.  "What a dirty trick," Schulz said.

Peanuts continues in papers around the world despite entering its eleventh year of reruns.  The characters still bring in millions of dollars every year.  And every day, millions of people identify themselves in one of the strips.

You were a good man, Charles Schulz.

That's Enough

You know, it's my thought that if you stop paying attention to people who say crazy things (Ahmadinejad, the Phelps family, wingnut tea party people) they will go away and eventually stop saying their crazy things.  Why do we even pay attention to them.  We know the Holocaust happened.  We know God doesn't hate America because of the way we treat homosexuals.  We know President Obama wasn't born in Kenya.  We do we give these lunatics the time of day?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No. 15: Adam Jehle's Talent

Cho Len was beginning to finish up her violin solo as Adam Jehle and Jordan Turk waited backstage. The entire school, both students and faculty, were sitting in the auditorium along with some parents. Adam was nervous and moving back and forth from foot to foot. He shook his hands in both nervousness and anticipation.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Jordan asked.

“I kind of have to. I signed up for this talent thing and I have to follow through on it,” Adam said, once again shaking his hands.

“What exactly are you attempting to accomplish with this?”

“Not being invisible anymore—maybe something resembling respect. Legend status.”

“You’re not invisible and this is kind of weird way to gain respect. You may even lose respect because of this stunt. Not to mention you’ll be lucky if you aren’t expelled.”

“That’s a risk I’ll have to take,” Adam sighed.

Cho Len finished and one of the teachers went up to the microphone. “That was Cho Len. Next, the comedy styling’s of Alan Jehle,” the teacher said pronouncing Adam’s last name ‘Jay-lee’.

Adam approached the microphone and cleared his throat. “Hello, my name is Adam Jehle,” he corrected, pronouncing his last name ‘Yay-lee’, “and I am not going to be doing any comedy or stand-up or anything. I’ve decided to do something completely different. I hope you like it,” Adam thought about the last line he said, made a face and shook his head.

Adam turned around. The audience began mumbling. He took a deep breath and undid his pants. As Adam turned back around, his jeans and underwear fell to the stage. Adam stood silent as the audience took in the sight. Everyone was in shock as they stared at Adam’s genitalia as it dangled between his legs.

Someone in the back of the auditorium began to slowly clap then others joined in and some people hooted. The teachers snapped out of their shock and went up on stage to drag Adam behind the curtain as the applause from his fellow students roared.

Adam and his parents were in the principal’s office along with the principal, assistant principal and the district therapist.

“What were you trying to accomplish up there?” the assistant principal asked.

“Immortality,” Adam answered.

“Why? What did you think you would gain pulling down your pants at school?” he asked.

“I figured I would be remembered. Even the teacher announcing me got my name wrong and she was reading from a card. If you can’t remember the name of a kid with a huge dick who pulled down his pants then what can you remember?” Adam explained.

“I don’t know why you are making such a big deal about this,” Adam’s dad spoke. “I’m sure it was just a one time thing and he won’t do it again. Adam, are you going to do this again?”

Adam faked a thought for a second. “No,” he shook his head. “I’m not.”

“Adam?” the district therapist said using an inquisitive and innocent voice. “What would you like to do after you get out of school?”

“Circus roustabout,” Adam said.

“Pfft…” the assistant principal scoffed. “Is that really what you want to be?”

“Of course not,” Adam angrily said. “I’m a sophomore so I’m not really sure what I want to do. How do I get your job? It looks pretty cozy. I’d be nicer to the students though.”

“Adam…” his mother hushed.

“You know Mr. Jehle, we could expel you for this,” the assistant principal said.

“I don’t think we need to do that, Paul,” the principal said. “I think two weeks suspension is fine. Don’t you think so Mr and Mrs Jehle?”

“I think that is more than fair,” Mr Jehle said.

As Adam and his parents headed out of the school, Lauren MacKenzie passed by them. She looked at Adam, smiled and spoke “Hi, Adam.”

“Hi, Lauren,” Adam replied.

“Who’s she?” asked his father.

“Lauren MacKenzie. She’s never spoken to me before,” Adam said. “I didn’t even think she knew I existed.”

“Well, she knows now,” his mother said.

“I wonder why she knows now,” his father winked.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Harter Union: Part Seven, Chapter 4

Annie and I continuously hugged in the terminal of JFK airport as Dustin, Amber and Kate looked on. “I have to go, love. I’ll call you as soon as I arrive in Miami,” I said, then kissed Annie on the nose. “You three take care of her, all right?”

Dustin shook my hand, “Congratulations, buddy. I know how long you’ve wanted this.”

“I’ll take care of Annie, Jeff. You have a good time on your tour,” Amber hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“I honestly never thought it would come to this, Kansas. I never thought you would actually get a book published but seriously, what do you have to say that’s important?”

“I love you, too, Kate,” I smiled. “I got to go, guys. I’ll see you all in two weeks,” I grabbed my carry-on luggage, hugged and kissed Annie one last time and dashed down the corridor while everyone shouted congratulations at me. I looked back, waved and smiled.

Dustin and Amber walked through the hallways of Manhattan-Rooks briskly while he held a cup of coffee and she held a bottle of fruit smoothie. “So you’re finally going to court over this?” she asked.

“Yeah, I have to drive down to Jersey for it but hopefully by the end of today, all this will be over,” Dustin and Amber stopped in front of his office. “I’m gonna ask for full custody and try to force the state to make her get a job.”

“Well, good luck and I hope everything works out for you. I have a meeting in fifteen minutes so I’ll see you this weekend maybe,” Amber walked quickly down the hall and disappeared around a corner.

Dustin sat down at his desk and began reading through a manuscript that was lying on a stack of papers.

Annie, Shani and Kate sat outside a coffeehouse on Bleecker Street. “We need to do this more often,” Annie said setting down her cup.

“If those damned men wouldn’t come along then it would be fine but they’d come along a like every other man, they would ruin it,” Shani said.

“A little bitter about something?” Annie snickered.

“She’s just saying that she doesn’t need a man to make her happy. Right, Shani?” Kate asked.

“Well, I don’t need a man in my life but it seems more fulfilled that I’m making Jeff happy and that I know someone loves me with all their heart,” Annie said.

“Aww,” the other two girls said in unison.

“So how’s the third grade, Kate?” Shani asked.

“I’m still alive. I’m having them draw their favorite person or activity and then having them write a paper on it. I love making them write stories or reports.”

“I think there’s a time in everyone’s life when they want to be a teacher. Mine was actually in high school because of Mrs. Parker. She was the one who encouraged me to be a writer and look where I am now,” Annie said.

“You’re a promotions executive for a publisher. Your job has absolutely nothing to do with actual writing. Your fiancée does that,” Kate pointed out.

“Well, then I can live vicariously through him,” Annie smiled. “The point wasn’t me being a writer, it was being a teacher.”

“And you didn’t do that either so shut up,” Kate said.

“Now I know why we don’t do this very often!” Annie yelled, tossing down a crumpled napkin.

“She kicked me out of our child’s life for the entire pregnancy and the first ten months of his life. I offered to help but she refused my help, refused to add my name to the birth certificate and when she finally realized that babies cost money, she sued me for back child support and still refused to let me see my son,” argued Dustin to the judge at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold, New Jersey. “I’m paying my dues and I more than deserve a fair share of seeing our son.”

“Miss McFarland, do you have anything to say?” asked the judge.

Beth stood up at the podium and began speaking. “I have given Mr. Randall, Dustin, plenty of chances to see his son,” she began. Dustin tried to control his reaction and looked back at his lawyer, Charles Sperber. “The few times I have let Mike go to his father’s house, he comes back with bruises or scratches all over…”

“He’s a boy! Of course he’s going to have bumps and bruises!” Dustin shouted.

“And,” Beth said forcibly, “when Michael came back from his last visit, he said that Daddy touched him. In a private spot.”

Dustin gasped and began shouting. “That is a blatant lie! She is lying!”

“Order! Order, Mr. Randall. In light of these new allegations and developments, we will adjourn for today and reconvene Monday morning at ten,” the judge banged his gavel and Dustin lowered his head to the table.

“She's lying…” mumbled Dustin.

Kate reveals feelings for Jeff as Dustin goes to Annie for comfort.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The GOP Has Some Explaining To Do

Probably because Jeff Stahler's Republican elephants Vegas-married Jerry Holbert's crazy tea-party woman and cheated on you. Because we all know when humans and elephants mate, it comes out a teapot.

But I really have nothing to say about the Republicans or the Tea Partiers, I just wanted to talk about these two cartoons because they synced up so nicely.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Harter Union: Part Seven, Chapter 3

Annie was over at Dustin’s apartment getting things ready. “Thanks for letting me keep him here. I saw it and I had to get it for Jeff because he has wanted one for so long.”

“Sure Annie. It was fun. It was a pleasure having him,” Dustin handed a small gray and white kitten to Annie. “Jeff isn’t going to hit us or anything for celebrating his birthday is he?”

“Well, I can’t make any promises…” Annie smiled at Dustin. “How’s Michael doing?”

“He’s fine. I got that lawyer that Jeff referred me to and he was able to keep her in Jersey and we’re having a hearing over all this soon so everything should be worked out within a month.,” Dustin explained.

“That’s good. I’m sorry you have to go through all this because of a one-night stand,” Annie softly touched Dustin’s arm.

“It could be worse but this experience has made me more cautious about dating pretty much any other girl,” Dustin said.

“You haven’t dated any other girls since Mike was born. You can’t blame all other girls because of one evil one,” Annie said.

“I’m just looking for a good one and if that means decades of unbearable loneliness I am willing to go through that,” Dustin chuckled. “Besides, all girls I find perfect are either taken or don’t want to date me.”

“Like who?”

“You’re engaged and Kate won’t date me,” revealed Dustin.

“Well, maybe if you would’ve told me before you coerced me to go out with Jeff; we could’ve had a chance. And Kate’s kind of a fruitcake so I think you dodged a bullet with that one,” Annie laughed which made Dustin smile. “You’ll find the right girl, Dustin. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, I can’t even promise that it’ll be this year but you have a good job, good friends and a beautiful son and you don’t need a girl to come along and possibly screw that up,” Annie hugged Dustin and opened the apartment door.

“I’ll see you at Sardie’s,” smiled Dustin.

We all sat at a table in Sardie’s and I had just found out that this was also a birthday celebration. “You all keep in mind that I am against this 100 percent,” I said and downed the rest of my glass of wine. “And now I hate you all.”

“Says the person who polished off a bottle of wine and ordered the most expensive thing on the menu,” Dustin said.

“I said that I’m against the evening, not against you all paying for this,” I laughed and hugged Annie.

“Okay, it’s presents time,” exclaimed Kate. “Here you go, Kansas. Open mine first.”

Kate handed me a wrapped box that was a little heavy. I tore it open and saw it was a CD player and radio that could be installed on the underside of a shelf.

“Thank you, Kate. I’ve always wanted one for my office. Thanks.”

“Here Jeff, Shani and I went halfsies on this,” Dustin passed a huge box to me. I opened the box to reveal tennis equipment; a tennis racket, tube of balls, wristbands, a headband and a visor. “Now you can stop whining about not playing tennis.”

“Thank you, guys,” I said.

“I’m gonna go out to my car and get your present. I’ll be right back,” Amber got up, crossed the restaurant and exited through the door.

“Kansas, I’ve always wondered, what happened to your hand?” asked Kate, referring to my scarred left hand. I quickly debated whether to make something up or tell the truth.

“When I was working at Baker a rack of dishes got lodged in the dish machine, I succeeded in pulling it out but ended up scarring my hand in the process.”
Amber came back in and handed me a good-sized box. “Sorry, I wasn’t able to wrap it.”

I opened the box and looked inside. It was hardbound editions of Lord of the Flies, Lolita, The Grapes of Wrath and Catcher in the Rye. “What are these?”

“Those are original first editions of those books. You can get anything off eBay,” Amber said. “Annie chipped in a little but she got you another present.”

“And that’s at home,” Annie said. “So I’ll give it to you later.”

“Whooo-ooo!” exclaimed Shani and Dustin.

Annie and I arrived home and I was completely exhausted. We both collapsed on the couch and I forcibly removed my shoes and socks. “Tonight was wonderful but I’m glad it’s over,” I sighed.

“You still need to open my gift,” Annie said.

“Oh yeah. Where is it?” I asked.

“In the bedroom. Close your eyes and I’ll go get it,” Annie got off the couch and I obediently closed my eyes and waited for Annie to return. I heard her rustle around in the bedroom and come back out. “You can open your eyes now.”
I opened my eyes to the cutest, little chubby gray and white kitten I had ever seen. He was struggling to get out of Annie’s grip and looked at me with his big green and orange eyes. “Aww,” I said taking the kitten from Annie and holding him close.

“This girl was giving them away and this one reminded me of you,” Annie sat down next to me and petted the kitten. “So what are you going to name him?”

“Shadow,” I answered as the cat began clawing at me to be let go.

“Well welcome home Shadow. I’m sure you’ll love it here,” Annie petted Shadow a couple more times and then I let him go. He jumped on top of the couch and crouched in fear with his nose moving quickly to pick up the unfamiliar smells of the apartment.

Jeff leaves on his tour and Dustin's court appearance goes badly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Harter Union: Part Seven, Chapter 2

“Tuesdays With Morrie by way of Stephen King,” shouted my publisher Anthony Clampitt, who was pacing in front of the bay window that looked out over the Hudson River. “It’s a slow starter but we’re planning on this to be huge. We’re having ads and promos made up and we’ve gotten you an interview on The Today Show.”

“Matt or Katie?”

“We’re not sure yet,” Anthony came around to the front of the desk and sat on the edge, clasping his hands. “We do know that after the interview you are going on a five-city book tour to promote it.”

“What? My very own tour?”

Anthony nodded.

“Oh my God! What cities am I going to?” I asked.

“Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago.”

“When is the book being released?”

“On Tuesday in two weeks. We’ve sent it to an editor to look it over and it should be going to the printer by the end of the week,” Anthony said. “And tomorrow, we’ve got someone stopping by for a picture and short biography for the cover.”

“Eee, the cover,” I squealed. I stood up and shook Anthony’s hand. “Thank you. This has really been great.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow so you can know when to expect the photographers and I’ll have an update on the interview,” Anthony clapped me on the back as I left his office and headed for my car.

“Thanks for picking me up, Amber. The doctor has me doped up on some narcotic and I’m unable to drive,” Kate said as she passed Amber her car keys.

“What’s wrong with your foot?” she asked.

“Something’s not right in there and they will probably have to operate. But let’s talk about something better; what are we going to do about Kansas’ birthday?”

“Don’t you remember? Jeff doesn’t celebrate his birthday,” Amber corrected. Kate and Amber got into her car with Amber driving. “Last time we celebrated his birthday, he yelled at me and you don’t yell at Amber.”

“What did we tell you about talking in the third person? Not very cool,” Kate waved her hand at Amber. “This is a big birthday for him. Haven’t you heard? He finished his book and it’s just weeks away from being published.”

“Then that’s what we should celebrate, not something that he refuses to acknowledge.”

“He refuses to acknowledge it because he’s never had a good one but this year will be different because he has good friends, a fiancée, and a published novel. What’s not to celebrate? We’ll just throw in the fact that he’s turning 33.”

“We’ll discuss it with Annie but if he yells at me, I’m gonna injure your other foot,” Amber said.

Dustin tossed his brown paper lunch bag in front of me and sat down. “I have a dilemma,” he began. “I’m editing this book and there’s this scene that is completely worthless but it’s used to help distinguish character personality so I’m not sure how to edit it out.”

“Would it affect the story if it was taken out?” I asked.

“I’m not sure but I made a note to go back and look it over but as of right now, it’s a completely horrible scene in an overall good story.”

“I’m gonna be on The Today Show,” I blurted out.

“What?” Dustin asked with a bite of sandwich in his mouth.

“Plus I get a five-city tour.”

“Back up. Not Good Morning, America but The Today Show?”

“Katie and Matt, Al and Ann, first on your TV,” I sang.

“And this is for the book you wrote?”

“No for a new diet ritual I created. Yes, for my book!”

“Have you told Annie?”

“Not yet. She’s coming home late so I have a romantic dinner planned and when I bring out the dessert, that’s when I tell her.”

“You are too damn romantic,” Dustin said.

“How could such a jerk be so romantic?” I laughed. “Seriously, though, I want to celebrate my book this weekend so we’re all going to Sardie’s and party.”

“All right, I’ll call everybody and let them know.”

“I have to go speak to the boss about my time off,” I got up and left the cafeteria.
Dustin pulled out his cell phone and dialed. “Hello, Kate? I was just talking to Jeff and he wants to celebrate his book this weekend at Sardie’s so we’re not only doing that but we’re also celebrating his birthday. Pass it around.”

Jeff's birthday.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Harter Union: Part Seven, Chapter 1

After six months in New York, I awoke in my spacious Manhattan apartment to the smell of Hazelnut Mocha Roast emanating from the kitchen. I slowly got up and followed the smell with my eyes still closed. I came up behind a five-foot eight redhead with long hair, glasses and wearing a light blue robe. I wrapped my arms around her, grabbing my ‘I &hearts NY’ mug in my left hand and hugging her with my right. “You know, I never used to drink coffee until you moved in,” I kissed her on the neck then took a sip of the coffee. “Perfect, as usual,” I sat down at the small table in the kitchen which we affectionately called the breakfast nook.

“Did you get a good night sleep?” she asked.

“As always. You already take a shower?”

“Yeah, I used that shampoo you like. The freesia.”

“That’s what I imagine heaven smells like,” I took another sip. “What’s on the agenda today?”

“Well, the team and I are putting the finishing touches on the promos for the new Anthony Conrad mystery and then I need to drive it out to Quogue, Long Island for Mr. Conrad to approve it.”

“I’m sorry. I have to proofread the new Clark Hemenway novel. Rumor has it that this’ll be his best one.” She sat down across from me with her cup of coffee. “Oh, I also need to meet with my publisher to go over my book’s deadline.”

“You need to extend it?”

“No, I actually finished it last night,” I smiled at her.

She squealed, stood up and hugged me around the neck. “You’ve been working on that book since before I met you. I’m so proud of you!” she hugged me tighter. “When’s your appointment?”


“I need to be in Quogue by two so hopefully I’ll be back by eight and we can order some Chinese and you can let me read it.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I polished off my cup of coffee and stood up. I leaned down and kissed her. “I’m gonna go take a shower.”

The redhead in my kitchen was Annie Tescott, my fiancée for three months. We met through mutual friends, fell in love fast and got engaged. We moved in together immediately and have been inseparable ever since.

We both worked at Manhattan-Rooks, Annie worked in advertising and she was nothing like any girl I ever dated and I was torn between asking her out or not. She was originally from Sault Saint Marie, Michigan and had a hint of a Canadian accent that was extremely cute. My best friend, Dustin Randall was friends with Annie and her best friend Amber Selkirk and they devised a plan to get us to meet: a huge dinner date at Sardie’s, which soon became our favorite restaurant.

Working at Baker helped me be more outgoing even though most of my conversations ended up in the gutter. I never told anyone about Maggie, Heather, or Melissa because I didn’t want sympathy for them. I never replied to any of the two letters Heather wrote me because I wanted to move on with my new life.

I loved my new friends and thought they were all unique. Shani Greeley was a very intelligent and very beautiful young black woman who worked for a multi-national corporation as a Deputy CFO and she was also a columnist for New York magazine. Dustin, my best friend, worked in the same department as me and had a four-year-old son, Michael, with an ex-girlfriend who lived in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. He hardly got to see his son because his ex, Beth McFarland, would always come up with some excuse why Michael couldn’t visit but Dustin was too nice and timid to sic a lawyer on her. Amber was an editorial consultant for Manhattan-Rooks, had four books of poetry published and a book of short stories. She’s also a contributor to the New Yorker and helped me meet my publisher and get my book published. Kate Haskell was my favorite of everyone. She was a third-grade schoolteacher who used to work at Manhattan-Rooks. She was my boss for the first month until she became a teacher. She never called me by my name, only by ‘Kansas.’

I was pacing in front of our big bay window as Annie sat on the couch, sipping a beer, eating Oreos and reading my book. “Aren’t you done yet?” I asked with nervous impatience.

“Of course not, dear. You asked me to read a 300 page book in one evening. It’s going to take awhile.”

“Gaar! I can’t stand the suspense!” I said, aggravated.

“Then sit down, Jeff honey. Why don’t you walk to Lio’s and get us some Chinese? When you come back, I’ll be further in the book, we can have dinner and then I can continue reading.”

“Nnn…I guess. I’ll be back in a little bit,” I left the apartment and Annie alone with my book. I came out onto Mercer Street near West Houston. As I got onto Houston Street my cell phone rang--Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’. I looked at the screen, it was Dustin. “Hello?”

“She’s doing it again!” he exclaimed.

“Again? Where’s she moving to this time?”


I sighed and rolled my eyes. Every month or so, Dustin’s ex would call him and threaten to move to another state and every time the state would get further away. “Okay, Dustin, this has got to stop. I’m gonna text you the number of this lawyer, Charles Sperber; he’s licensed in New York and New Jersey. He’s expensive but he’s one of the best family law attorneys around. He can at least get a court order to keep her in Jersey because women should not be this evil.”

“Okay, thanks Jeff. And congratulations on your book.”

“Thanks, Dustin,” he hung up and I text messaged the number to him and slipped the phone back into my pocket. I arrived at Lio’s and walked in.

“Aah, Jefferson Franklin! How are you and the wife?” asked the short Chinese man known only as Mr. Lio.

“She’s not my wife yet, Mr. Lio.”

“You need to reel her in, Jefferson Franklin. There's nothing like a good woman to stand behind a good man. Know what I mean?” Mr. Lio’s wide smile and wink made me smile as I pulled out my wallet. “What can I get you, Jefferson Franklin?”

“The usual, Mr. Lio,” I smiled.

When I arrived back home, Annie had dimmed the lights and set up candles on the dining room table and other places around the apartment. Soft classical music played on the stereo and the smell of freesia wafted through the room. Annie came from the bedroom, stood in the doorway and looked at me. “Welcome home,” she said dressed in a strapless blue gown with her hair up.

“You haven’t been reading have you?” I asked.

“I finished hours ago,” she said slowly walking toward me.

I sat the food down on the dinner table and took Annie in my arms. “You did? And you just let me dangle and worry? That’s not very nice,” I kissed her. “So what did you think about it?”

“Funny, scary, heartfelt and wonderful. I loved it. You have a bright future as an author. Congratulations,” Annie leaned up and we kissed in the glow of the candlelight.

Jeff's friends plan out his birthday and Jeff prepares for his book's publication.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Huh-Huh-Huh Heh-Heh

I found out the other day that MTV's Beavis and Butt-head will be making a return to the small screen.  I am looking forward to it because I used to watch Beavis and Butt-head in its original run from 1993 to 1997.  Marvel Comics (!) produced a Beavis and Butt-head comic book series which lasted for 28 issues between 1994 and 1996.  I have all but about two issues because after about issue 15, they started getting harder to find which is probably why there are only 28 issues.

The series focused on the dimwitted duo making trouble in and around Highland, instead of showcasing music videos, B&B made fun of comic books--Spider-Man, Wolverine, even low-tier heroes such as Nova, Deadpool and Quasar (who is in this issue).  It was good-natured juvenile fun but not necessarily a comic you would want someone to see you reading.

Beavis and Butt-head #8 (Oct. 1994)
Written by Chris Marcil & Sam Johnson
Art & Letters by Rick Parker
Colors by Robert Camacho
Beavis and Butt-head created by Mike Judge
Characters copyright (C)1994 MTV Networks.  Comic book copyright (C)1994 Marvel Comics.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Stull #3

Frank York sat at his desk in the Rock Creek Township Historical Society working on a spreadsheet about area churches when his phone rang. It rang a couple more times before he answered it.

"Hello? Rock Creek Historical Society."

"I hear you also run a detective agency," the voice was male. Panicked and hurried.

"Yes..." Frank responded reluctantly.

"That child--girl--that was found butchered in Rock Creek Cemetery? I know who it is. I know who did it but I can't say. They will kill me. All I can say is look into the old Rock Creek Catholic Church. They are all murderers and they need to be stopped!" the voice stopped and a soft click was heard.

Frank hung up the phone then picked it up again and dialed. "Matt? Are you up for a trip to Rock Creek? I would call Katie but something about this made my spine crawl. Okay, I'll be over in five minutes."

"Rock Creek"
Two weeks ago, a child's body was found in Rock Creek Cemetery, one mile north of Rock Creek proper. The face had been bludgeoned, genitalia mutilated and body burned beyond recognition.

Rock Creek was a small town of about 32 people located along the curve of County Road 250. It was peaceful village now but that wasn't always so. In the early 20th Century several people were attacked by wild animals although a lot of residents thought the actual perpetrator was far more sinister.

With the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918, the murders ceased and Rock Creek returned to a quiet existence. Frank and Matt drove into Rock Creek and first drove through the few streets the town had. They saw nothing out of the ordinary but parked along Main Street where ruins of Rock Creek's downtown were located.

KEEP OUT and NO TRESPASSING signs were nailed to each door and a good majority of the windows were boarded up. Those that weren't broken or boarded up were filthy with age.

"Hard to believe this town once vied for county seat with Tontzville," Frank said. "Also hard to believe it was three times the size Stull is today."

"What happened?" Matt asked.

"Some say bad city management but others say the Stull Curse affects more than just Stull," Frank posited.

"So it's more of a Stanton County curse?" Matt asked.

Frank didn't answer. He looked down Main Street at the old Catholic church at the corner of the next block. He motioned at Matt and the two of them walked down the sidewalk to the church.

The church was the second oldest church still standing in Stanton County. It was built in 1866 to replace a stone church that had grown too small. The stone church is long gone.

This church was well taken care of until the early 1980s when the dioceses out of Cincinnati decided to cut ties with the building. The current owner, Frank had looked up, was Edward Sylvester.

The paint on the church was peeling but the building still looked in decent shape and Frank wondered if anyone actually used it. Frank took a couple of pictures and walked up to the front door. He tried the handle only to find it locked. "I wonder if the owner would let us in..." Frank wondered out loud but mainly to himself. "Come on, the owner lives in town. Let's pay him a visit."

Edward Sylvester's house was a smaller house compared to the other houses in Rock Creek. It was a yellow one-story with a good sized yard with a huge oak tree towering over the house. Frank and Matt walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. A girl of about sixteen or seventeen answered.

"Yes?" she seemed suspicious.

"My name is Frank York and I'm with the Rock Creek Township Historical Society. Is Edward Sylvester in?"

"Why?" the girl abruptly asked.

"I have a few questions about the Rock Creek Catholic Church he owns."

"How did you know he owned it?" she squinted her eyes as she asked Frank.

"It's public record. I got the information from the Stanton County website. Your address I got from a phone book," Frank said.

"Well, he's not here right now. And I don't know when he'll be back," the girl nearly shouted and she began closing the door.

Frank quickly pulled out a business card and handed it to the girl. "Could you please give him my card and have him call me when he can--day or night."

The girl took the card but hesitated with her response. "Okay," she finally said and the door hurriedly closed.

Frank and Matt began walking back to the car. "She was friendly," Matt said.

"You noticed that, too," Frank said, chuckling. "She did seem a bit brash and she obviously wanted to get rid of us. Isn't today a school day?"

"I don't know. Probably. It is Thursday," Matt replied.

"Then what was she doing home?" Frank pointed his thumb behind him.

"Do you think they know?" Chauncey asked Sarah after she explained Frank and Matt's visit.

"I don't think so," Sarah said. "They seemed more interested in my father and the church. I took care of my father after I found out he had made the call. I think we can just wait until this all blows over."

Chauncey grumbled. "I hope so. It may be time to move on."

"What? Why? If anyone finds out about us, we can just kill them," Sarah said.

"It's not that simple," Chauncey began. "Your sister was a mistake but we couldn't stop Dante from doing that. He had chosen her for a sacrifice and to stop it would've meant death. And now with your father, the bodies keep piling up. The Blairs haven't...killed anyone in 80 years but Dante comes back and everybody goes crazy with their...instincts. I mean, before Dante returned I would've never thought about turning a human of us," he looked at Sarah and uneasily smiled.

"Do you regret turning me?" she asked.

"Of course not," he shook his head.

They nuzzled for a second and then kissed. "So what do we do about our visitors?"

"Nothing we really can do until we know why they are here," Chauncey said.

Frank and Matt parked in the gravel lot of the old Catholic church and both of them stared at the church. "There's got to be a way in," Frank said.

"Why didn't you just ask that girl if she could get access to the church?" Matt asked.

"I don't think she would've told me. I think she was lying to us," Frank said.

"Why do you think that?"

"The way she was acting. She wanted to get rid of us. I specifically asked about the church so she could've given me any information she knew but instead chose to slam the door in our face."

"Did you bring your lock-picking thing? We could use that," Matt suggested.

"Yeah but I want that to be a last resort. Breaking and entering doesn't seem like something we should be doing at this point in the investigation. Besides..." Frank was interrupted by a knocking on his window. He lowered the window a little to speak. "Yes?"

"May I ask what you two are doing?" the man looked as if he was in his early thirties but spoke very condescendingly at Frank.

"We're looking at the church," Frank said. "Is that wrong?"

"Not really except the church is private property. Do you have permission to be here?"

"We're in a parking lot not in the church. Besides, I'm from the Rock Creek Township Historical Society and I'm doing research on the church. I tried to contact Mr. Sylvester but he wasn't home," Frank explained. "What business is it of yours?"

"Just a concerned citizen. I'm Dante Blair and I just moved back to Rock Creek. It's good to see our local youth taking pride in our past," Dante said. "I've actually talked to Mr. Sylvester about buying the church from him but for some reason he wants to keep it."

"It is a nice building. It could be used as a community center of something," Matt spoke from the passenger seat.

"That's what I told him but what are you gonna do?" Dante shrugged.

"Well, we're gonna get going back to Stull. You'll probably see us around doing our research. Feel free to stop by the Society in Stull if you're ever in town," Frank invited. "Welcome back to Rock Creek, Dante."

Frank started up the car and rolled up the window. Frank pulled away and back onto the street.

Someone else joined Dante in the parking lot. "What did he want?" the person asked.

"He's from the historical society, doing research," Dante said. "If you see him around again, snap his neck."

Back at the historical society, Frank was sifting through old newspapers. "What are you doing?" Matt asked.

"That Dante guy creeped me out but his named seemed familiar so I did some searching for the last name 'Blair' and came up with this," Frank flipped a newspaper page toward Matt and pointed at a picture. "The Blair family was very prominent in Rock Creek until the 1920s. Look at the person named Dante Blair in the picture. He looks exactly the same as the Dante we saw today."

"He does. So he probably a great-great grandson or something."

"Or it's the same person."

"That would be impossible."

"I would think that too," Frank winked. "If we didn't live in Stull."

Matt's last surviving uncle turns 40 and the team tries to protect him while also delving into Matt's family's past.