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Dear George Noory,

Where the hell are the aliens? The Shadow People? The cryptozoologists? The ghost hunters and remote viewers? The exorcists?

Let me say right up front that I love you and I truly mean you no disrespect here. But what was up with that “Taxation Special” you had Sunday night?

I didn’t like it.

I’m not going to go totally off on you about this because I know you’re already taking a wicked savage and brutal beating on the forums and message boards lately. But really, a four-hour “Taxation Special”? Great Zeus, man, what were you thinking? That’s not a topic for Coast to Coast! A Louisiana lawyer talking about his tax evasion case? And geez  …. do you really need me to tell you that “Former IRS Special Agent Joe Banister” is a boring guest?

Jeezus. Your tax special actually woke me up at 3 AM last night when it sunk into my sleeping brain that some former IRS examiner was talking about how she stopped filing taxes in 1999 because there is no law requiring anyone to actually pay them. NOT ONCE DID SHE MENTION BEING ABDUCTED BY ALIENS!

Why was this garbage on the radio in the middle of the night? I’m not looking to think at that hour, George, I’m looking for something to take my mind off of stuff like that. And here you are piping it into my brain. No law requiring people to pay taxes? If that doesn’t wake you up and get your brain going I don’t know what will.

The only reason I was able to get back to sleep was because the next show on my C2C playlist came up quickly, and it was the Saturday night show where Ian Punnett  interviewed people about having sex with robots. Thank God for Ian. Because that’s what it’s come to, man. I’m now having to look to Ian for my bedtime stories. Ian is getting all the cool guests now, have you noticed that?

I mean, a couple weeks ago you had that “Secret Door IV” special where your first guest was financial advisor Howard Ruff discussing sub-prime mortgage rates. Does that sound like something you’d want to listen to as you’re trying to drift off to sleep?

You’re committing professional suicide and I’m scared for you. What is going on?

I’m not looking for Art Bell; you and Art do indeed have “different styles” as you’re always pointing out to certain rude callers, and that’s cool. That’s fine. I’m not looking for Art. But I am looking for George Noory! Have you seen him? Where did he go? Who is this guy who comes on every night claiming to be you? Who is this guy who ran a show devoted to the oil crises?

Now, tonight, I see that one of your scheduled guests is an aerospace engineer who will be laying out a strategy to cut our dependence on foreign oil. You’re killing me, George.

Unless this guy’s strategy includes a dozen or more Shadow People who will harness the power of Big Foot to mine a distant planet for all the oil that’s being hoarded by the Grays … I will be pissed.

____________________

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Me: Were you watching the Pats game today?

Buck: No. 

Me: Blow Out. You shoulda watched it. I was hoping to discuss it for Q&A.

Buck: I’ve been too busy today. I’ve been working to get the bathroom finished. You can’t believe how much work this has been. I was even at Home Depot looking at pedestal sinks again, but I figured no, we need the counter space.

Me: Well, having a big TV in the bathroom is . . . a problem.

Buck: The only real problem is having to get in the closet to watch it.

Me: I know. But I don’t really mind that part.

Buck: No, you don’t, but I hate finding you there.

Me: [laughing] WHY?

Buck: Sitting on your little chair in the closet, watching Sponge Bob.

Me: Whatever. You didn’t watch the Patriots, so now my Q&A is screwed up. This has been really hard the past two weeks trying to post on my blog. And Q&A is hard because I don’t have access to my extensive collection of photos. This has been like guerilla blogging. I cannot wait to be home. One of my readers says she’s sent me a package. Is it there?

Buck: YOU GAVE HER OUR HOME ADDRESS?! What reader?

Me: Her name is Charlotte, you don’t know her. I don’t know her, not really. We’ve only emailed twice. She’s a lot older–

Buck: Well what the hell is she sending? It’s probably a bomb. They scan everything at the post office now, right?

Me: I don’t know. But another guy thought I was too hard on Tommy Lee Jones when I said he was the reason we’ll never move to Van Horn. So I promised to insert a link that would shed some light on why. Hey, speaking of Tommy Lee Jones-like behavior. Big doin’s in the trailer park.

Buck: Shadow People moved into a double-wide?

Me: No. A CRACK HEAD!. There’s a crack head who moved in and he’s running around hurling flower pots through people’s picture windows!

Buck: Geez . . . did he throw one through your sister’s window?

Me: No. See, what happened is, this guy moved in a few trailer’s down. He’s not the crack head, but he — he’s like in his fifties I guess — walked out of his trailer one morning and went into his neighbor’s tool shed — not my sister’s tool shed but the one next to it — and he took a ladder. It was not his ladder, it was his neighbor’s ladder. So the rightful owner of the ladder had been watching him the whole time and he went outside and said, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH MY LADDER? And the thief goes, Oh, sorry, my son took it! And the other guy goes, YOU TOOK IT! I WATCHED YOU TAKE MY LADDER!

Buck: What the hell are you talking about?

Me: Okay, okay, forget the ladder story. But the guy who stole the ladder allowed his son to move into his trailer. I don’t know what the deal is with the son, except that he’s a known crack head. This is a kid with Ernest T. Bass syndrome in addition to his crack addiction. You know how Ernest T. couldn’t walk past a rock without throwing it through someone’s window?

Buck: Do you honestly feel the need to explain Ernest T. Bass to me every single time you bring him up?

Me: It’s just that I know you weren’t into Andy in Mayberry.

Buck: I’m just shocked that you didn’t say the whole thing.

Me: Ernest T. Bass arrives with the sound of breaking glass?

Buck: Good. You got it out of the way. Thank you.

Me: He also used to say, It’s me, Ernest T.! Anyway. The crack head was walking down the street around midnight a few nights ago, and when he got to the trailer directly across from my sister’s, he took the person’s flower pots and hurled them through their picture window. Then he continued on until he was a few trailers down, and did the same thing to their windows. He threw their flower pots, BIG CEMENT THINGS, through their windows!

Buck: This is very sad. This little bastard is gonna give trailer parks a bad name.

Me: Wait, I’m not done! Then he gets into a car apparently, and drives over to Bridgewater and starts hurling big rocks off the overpass! He was hurling them at cars on the highway below him and he hurled a rock through an off-duty cop’s windshield! It was on the news. The cop is furious.

Buck: I hope he got arrested.

Me: NO. They can’t find him. Cops are looking for him, there’s a Neighborhood Watch out in full force. I think all the neighbors here went to his father’s trailer with pitchforks and torches. The father told everyone he hasn’t seen his kid, but if he does he’ll call the police. I don’t think he will, because he’s a nut. He was the guy stealing ladders —

Buck: My suggestion would be to go where the crack is. Are they looking for him at Banana Republic, or are they going to where they sell crack?

Me: THIS IS SERIOUS! Even the company that owns the trailer park sent somebody down from New York, and they were pissed off. They were ready to burn down the trailer park to find this kid. They went from door to door to let people know they were on top of this, and then they got back in the car and drove home to New York.

Buck: Were they armed with tasers?

Me: No. But I’ve never seen these people so animated before. Everybody in the trailer park is constantly outside looking around for this kid. Usually, you know, you don’t really see many of them outside. I mean, I’m always outside but that’s because I’m smoking cigarettes and pacing like a caged animal. But prior to this crack attack  I’ve never seen other people actually hanging around in the street for any extended period of time. And I’d know, because I’m out there. They’re all really nice people and they keep their yards and trailers all really nice and everything, and now comes this CRACK HEAD hurling their garden gnomes and flower pots  through their windows. My sister keeps locking the door every five seconds. She locks it behind me every time I step out to pace and smoke. And eavesdrop.

Buck: You’ll be locked outside with the crack head.

Me: I wish. I am looking for him, but for different reasons than everyone else. I need to ask him some questions. I want to know what the hell is up with crack? Does he use a crack pipe like on that show Intervention? Or does he just crush it all up and snort it up his nose? Was he violent before he started hitting the rock? Hitting the rock is what crack heads are wont to say. Or at least, that’s what the kid in Sublime said. He sang something about his mom flying to the rock. Course, he’s dead now from an overdose, so maybe it wasn’t really his mother who was flying to —

Buck: He’ll probably tell you the correct terminology for five bucks. Crack heads will do anything for five bucks.

Me: Yes, I know. That’s the beauty of crack heads. I’d like to hire a bunch of them for yard work.

Buck: Did you watch the video I emailed you? The one where the crack head is singing Amazing Grace at a funeral?

Me: I did! And even though everyone said he was on crack, he seemed just drunk to me. Although he did start to nod out at one point —

Buck: Well, it was a funeral so I think all the other people knew him and knew he was a crack head. Did you watch all the way to the end? I know it gets a little tedious in the middle, but you need to see how he wraps it up. [laughing] It’s hilarious.

Me: Of course I watched to the end. I was riveted. What was the truly amazing part, was that they were filming this crack head singing at a funeral! Do you think they do this stuff just to be on YouTube?

Buck: I don’t think that guy knows anything about YouTube. If a crack head ever owned a computer, he’d sell it. Plus, they can’t sit that long in front of a computer screen without hurling something through it.

Me: You’re right. Did you get my family alert I sent out to everyone about the special on Hillbillies that will be on History Channel tonight? It’s on in a little while. Are you Tivo-ing it for me?

Buck: No. I’m doing The Simpsons season premier, and Family Guy, and that Ken Burns thing.

Me: I still haven’t found the Ken Burns oranges. I’m going to call everywhere tomorrow and find them.

Buck: What is your sister yelling about in the background?

Me: She’s very upset over 60-minutes tonight, the government has confiscated the medical marijuana from suppliers in SoCal. She’s outraged. I am too, but I haven’t started yelling about it yet. Why is the government doing this?!  We should send Tommy Lee Jones to handle all this. He’s so mean, and he has that Al Gore connection. He’d put a stop to this bullshit.

Buck: Why don’t you just give him a call?

Me: No. Way. In. Hell.

Videos and Links We Just Talked About:

 Crack Head Sings Amazing Grace THANK YOU Billy B. for sending this to Buck! It’s delightful, and you’re wondeful.

Why we don’t want to live near Tommy Lee Jones.

Ernest T. Bass

 

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A Literary Lunch

An Old-Fashioned Literary Lunch At Barbara’s House

     I’m three days away from flying back to Buck and El Paso, and I’m quite excited about leaving here, because I’m flat-out exhausted. My working vacation has been more of a New England Odyssey than I’d planned. I’ve hung out at a biker gathering with 300 people smelling of leather and lube, where a 20-something bike builder told me he’d be a great feature story in the magazine because, “No offense, but I’m young.” From there, I’ve stood up to my knees in low tide while having a screaming match with tourists over a Playskool toy. And I’ve been hopelessly lost on back roads driving through miles and miles of cranberry bogs and bee hives, where it crossed my mind that I might never see another human being again. But in the middle of all that, I had lunch with Barbara and her sister, Joan, and it felt so good I stayed for six hours and we talked non-stop the whole time. 

 Barbara: Remember that story we wrote together?

 Me: I remember we couldn’t sell it.

 Barbara: Was it Ellery Queen that rejected us? I saved the rejection, but I don’t know where it is.

 Me: I used to save all my rejection letters with the plan of one day making a giant paper sailboat that I could sit in as it sank to the bottom of a lake. I almost had enough, but then we moved and Buck made me throw them away.

Joan (Barbara’s sister) : What story got rejected?

Me: It was a Halloween story. Barbara and I would take turns writing a couple paragraphs, then email it back and forth. It was about a teenage girl who was killing her friends and putting their heads on stakes at the end of the driveway, or someplace like that.  I don’t remember where she displayed them.

Barbara: She staked them along the side of the road. It tied in to roadside memorials and the way some are decorated for the holidays. I think one one body was disguised as a scarecrow.in one of the memorials. [laughing] Or maybe they all were.

Me: Something happened and the girl’s mother came home early one day and found a head in the oven.

 Barbara: And there was a pumpkin involved somehow.

Joan: [laughing]

Barbara: No, Joan, we were dead serious.

Wendy: If I sent it in someplace, we must have been serious. Or maybe we just wanted the stupid rejection, hoping they’d say We’re sorry, but your story is in such very poor taste and is so repulsive —

Barbara: I’ll look for the rejection. I saved it because it was hilarious, they sent the whole thing back in a plain brown envelope.

Joan: How long ago was this?

Me: Ten years, maybe more. God I love that lamp. It’s maddening how much I love it.

 Barbara: I know, don’t you love it?

 Me: I told you, it’s maddening how much I love it. I can barely sit next to it knowing it’s yours and not mine. I once spent three-hundred dollars on a desk lamp. There’s definitely something wrong with me. That’s why I’m not allowed to touch money anymore, because whenever I see a really great lamp, like that one over there —

 Joan: Maybe you could sell the story now. As a screenplay.

 Me: You know, that SAW bastard is the only person who comes out with a movie right at Halloween every year. He’s cornered the market. Maybe we should invade his territory. If only our story didn’t suck so bad —

 Barbara: It should have been a sign when we were killing ourselves laughing about the cooked the heads.

 Me: The hair was burning and it smelled. Hey, let’s write another one. With pictures! I want this to be a picture story. I wonder if I could get Buck to dress like a dark angel with big black wings from Wal-Mart and ride around in front of the house on a motorcycle so I could take photos.

Joan: That’s a great idea, because I wanna read it.

Wendy: And see it.

Barbara: Okay, let’s do it. But you have to start it, you’re better at starting them.

Me: I do love to start stuff. And finishing it. It’s the middle part I hate. But we’ve only got a little more than a month to do it in time for Halloween.

Barbara: You’re right.

Me: Let’s not put any thought into it at all. 

Barbara: Right.

Me: I’ll get on that this week. I need to make a note to myself to do this.

Joan: I have notes everywhere. Notebooks, sticky post-it notes, lists.

Me: I do too, but I don’t read them.

Barbara: You used to write on your hand. You had lists on your hand.

Me: I still do. That’s the only method that truly works for me. But I rarely leave the property, so I don’t even need to make lists of things to do anymore.

Joan: I don’t leave the house, either. It’s a freaking scary world out there and I’m sick of it.

Me: I never go out alone at night anymore, but that’s mostly because I have night blindness and can’t see well enough to drive. I see stuff in the road that isn’t there. I’ll see a big white cat in the road up ahead, but then it turns out there’s no cat.

Barbara: Remember Dad saw tenements for awhile? He saw tenements lining the streets, like the kind we lived in as kids in Woonsocket. But they weren’t really there. It scared the shit out of me when he told me. He figured it was the glare from his glasses at night. 

Joan: Glasses do create a weird glare. Shadows.

Barbara: Maybe it’s Shadow People.

Me: Yes. Thank you. Buck thinks I’m the only person who believes in the existence of Shadow People. Maybe your father’s tenements really were there. Maybe that’s where the Shadow People live.

Joan: Yeah, a netherworld of Shadow People. They’re there, but we don’t always see them.

Barbara: Yes. There’s a place online with photos of them. I sent you the link about five years ago.

Me: I know, I kept it and I look at it about twice a week.

Barbara: I’ll send it to you, Joan. Somebody set up a camera to take photos all day when no one was home. Except the Shadow People. They were home, and they’re terrifying.

Joan: Send it to me. I’ll write it down so I remember to remind you.

Me: But who are we to think we’re all there is? That’s so pompous of us.

Joan: Exactly. This is a little weird, but I wake up at night — and I know I’m awake, there’s no question, because I sit right up in bed — and I see these little crabs crawling along across my skylight. I’m not scared of them, because I know they’re not there, but I see them.

Me: You’re preaching to the choir. I have night terrors, I’ve had them all my life, and I see amazing things that aren’t really there. And I’m awake. I stand up and walk over to them. About a month ago I woke up at three o’clock in the morning and saw a guy in our courtyard. He was smiling at me. I told him to go away and he did, very slowly. Buck HATES IT when I see these things. He says it’s how he will die, of a heart attack from waking up to me yelling at a Shadow Person at the foot of the bed. Because I did that to him once. I shouldn’t say once. I’ve been waking him up that way regularly, ever since I met him. Yet, he never seems to get used to it. He’s probably been sleeping really well ever since I came out here.

__________________________

Me and Barbara, Satisfied That Shadow People Exist

 

Barbara’s favorite Shadow People Photos.

______________________________________________________________________

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Easton

57-degrees

I had an entire section of the plane to myself

 

     I took comfort in Buck’s saying that “it’s not a plane flight unless you’re doing it on less than two hours of sleep.” That’s about what I got, a combined two hours of sleep, the night before. I woke up repeatedly to look at the clock, fearful that I’d oversleep.

As Buck predicted, there weren’t many people on the plane. Probably 30-40 of us flying out of Texas on 9/11. The only thing that gave me pause occurred while standing in line for the checkpoint where you remove shoes and jewelry, and they run your carry-on through the x-ray machine. I was in the process of piling my computer and shoes in the bin when an airport security agent started shouting, “Stop all activity, stop all movement immediately! Ladies and Gentlemen, STOP ALL MOVEMENT!” We froze, about a hundred of us, and you could have heard a pin drop. And then he said, “We’re going to take a moment of silence to remember . . .”

     I thought it was in really poor taste — not the moment of silence, which was perfectly appropriate  — but the alarmist way he went about conducting it. I wasn’t the only one standing there during the entire moment of silence (which was NOT an entire minute, it was more like 30 seconds) with my heart pounding and my mind racing. His tone and choice of words caused nothing short of a moment of fear, and it was not how I would have liked to dedicate my thoughts to the memories of the victims of 9/11. When it was over, I turned to the man behind me and said, “What an asshole, huh?” And although he didn’t answer me, the girl behind him piped up and in a thick southern drawl said, “He was a complete asshole, I thought for sure we were dead.” Her boldly agreeing with me made me think of Buck’s hypothesis that “it’s the women who will get us killed.”

     I was disgusted with the security agent, and disgusted that this is how we live now, half-expecting to face death anytime we’re congregated in one spot as an easy target: an airport, a sporting event, a mall. Afterwards I ended up shoving my things into the bin and then standing back with my hands on my hips while a small flock of security agents deciphered the cooling system for my laptop that was tucked inside my bag. I was mad, rewriting his sentences over and over in my head and thinking of all the things he could have said instead of “STOP ALL MOVEMENT IMMEDIATELY!” He could have said, “LET’S TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE” or “WE ASK THAT EVERYONE TAKE A MOMENT NOW . . .”  There were a lot of things he could have said.

 

Me: What took you so long to answer the phone?

Buck: I couldn’t find it. Turns out it was in my pocket.

Me: Well, I’m here. I’m at my sister’s trailer park.

Buck: I actually learned how to text today.

Me: What?

Buck: I learned how to text on my cell phone.

Me: You didn’t know how to do that?

Buck: Why would I? Why would I want to? [laughs]

Me: To text ME!

Buck: I could just call you.

Me: But what if I was in a place where I shouldn’t answer the phone, like a movie theater?

Buck: [laughs]  What would I text? Wendy, I need your kidney —

Me: Well . . .Okay, what if you were in an important meeting and I needed to tell you something? Like, the guy next to you has a knife —

Buck: I wouldn’t look at your text.

Me: Other people do. They text their friends the whole time they’re in a meeting. I see them doing it.

Buck:  I don’t know how we ever got along before texting. What did we ever do before we could communicate with our friends while we’re at work?

Me: Kids are always texting, they text each other constantly.

Buck: Yeah, and what are their messages?

Me: I don’t know, that’s the thing.

Buck: What scientific or historic event is happening that they need to text their friends as it unfolds? [laughs]

Me: [laughs] Well if something were happening, I could text you to say goodbye and I love you.

Buck: Nothing like a text from the afterlife . . . Listen, if someone can text from the afterlife I’ll go along with it and you can consider me convinced it’s a good thing. If that’s the only way a dead person can communicate with the living, I’ll go along with it. [laughs]

Me: That’s something I haven’t heard on Coast to Coast. I wonder why. Last week they had phone calls from the dead, so why haven’t they had texting?

Buck: Because all those people are too busy listing their haunted telephones on eBay so people like you have something to look at all day. And stop faxing me urgent messages to place a bid on item number so-and-so and I immediately go there thinking it’ll be some bike part, and it’s a haunted telephone! Quit tying up the fax just so you can have a hotline to the dead.

Me: But I’m intensely interested in those phones. The dead are never going to talk to me without one.

Buck: What the hell do you want to say to them?

Me:  I want to find out what they do all day.

Buck: But you don’t answer the phone, you wouldn’t answer a call from the afterlife. You might have gotten twenty of those calls already and you wouldn’t even know.

Me: It’s true. If I didn’t recognize the number I wouldn’t answer.

Buck: It would probably come up on the caller ID with a lot of 666’s in it.

Me: The afterlife isn’t automatically hell —

Buck: I’m just saying, they’d probably use that as a code —

Me: Maybe it would come up on the display as MOM or DAD or JIM MORRISON. But you’re right, because if it was someone I didn’t know I wouldn’t answer.

Buck: Maybe it will come up as 1-800-AFTERLIFE.

Me: But we’ll never know, will we? Because you won’t buy me a stupid fucking haunted telephone.

Buck: No, I won’t.  AND DON’T put it on your Christmas list. Hey, why don’t you go visit with your sister.

Me: She’s in her bedroom crying her head off.

Buck: Why?! What have you done now? You’ve only been there about ten seconds —

Me: I didn’t do anything.

Buck: What happened?

Me: She said she never reads my blog because she doesn’t have time.

Buck: Yeah?

Me: Yeah, no. Well. What I said was, how could it be that you don’t have time to read my blog? You’ve lost all your friends and the two remaining ones died, you got fired from your job, Mom and Dad are dead and you don’t have to deal with them anymore, your kids are all grown up and off living their own lives, and you broke up with the last guy you dated — that cop? — you broke up with him because he had, at least you said he had, weird hairy hands. And he was a cop! You’re lucky he didn’t arrest you. He could still do it. So what’s taking up all your time that you can’t read my blog?

Buck: Is her TV working? Maybe she’s got a lot of shows to watch.

Me: I mean, really. My God. What the hell else does she have to do? Nothin’. She’s got nothin’. She doesn’t even have a job —

Buck: She doesn’t want to hear that.

Me: This isn’t about her. This is about my blog.

Buck: What’s that clicking sound?

Me: It’s my wire tap.

Buck: You’re recording this call?! Already!?

Me: Yes. Nobody sat near me on the plane. I’ve nothing else.

Buck: Are you gonna transcribe all that shit about your sister?

Me: Of course.

Buck: It’s not Sunday . . . I thought only Sunday was fair game —

Me: It’s all fair game. Hey, did you ever see that episode of Cheers when Diane was living with Fraser and she said she and Fraser spoke only French on Sundays? [laughs]

Buck: I hated that show.

Me: I know, it did suck. My sister loved it. But I do remember that episode distinctly because of her and Fraser speaking French on Sundays. [laughs]  They were like the biggest jerks —

Buck: You’re talking like you knew them. They weren’t real. [laughs] Some writer made them up —

Me: And a fine job he did.

My Sister: Are you on here? Could you get off the phone? I need to make a call. Hi Buck.

Buck: Oh hi —

Me: CALL WHO?! Who the hell are YOU gonna call? You have no friends, no place to be —

My Sister: I’m calling the pharmacy. If you must know, I want to refill my

Me: I’ve tapped your phone, I’m recording this call. Then I’m posting it, which means that everything you’re saying is going onto the Internet as soon as I hang up. It’ll be on the blog you don’t have time to read.

My Sister: Can people hear me? Can they hear me right now? Hello, hello?

Buck: No, people can’t hear you. I thought that too when she first told me —

Me: Why does everybody think that? What the hell is wrong with you people?

My Sister: It just seems like something you’d do, hook a tape recorder up to the Internet.

Me: It’s true, that is something I would do. If only I knew how to do it. I’m working on that. It’s called podcasting —

My Sister: I can see you interviewing the world without its permission. You’ve been tape recording people since you were six. You used to interview me all the time, and that lady next door. AND DAD. You wore white plastic shoes and thought you were Merv Griffin —

Me: And Bennett Serf. I loved Bennett Serf when he was on Merv Griffin —

Buck: I’m gonna go. This is me saying goodbye —

Me: Okay. Anyways, I gotta drive my sister to CVS. She let her freaking driver’s license expire  —

My Sister: OH THANK YOU! I’m freaking out and didn’t know how I’d get there. I’m having hot flashes.

Me: That’s going on the Internet.

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