A Fistful of Dollars

A revised excerpt from my second novel, Looney Bin Incorporated. It’s a satire that highlights corporate greed; specifically, drug companies that charge exorbitant prices for life saving drugs. This chapter is an exchange between Drake, a patient at Looney Bin Inc. and his therapist, Dr. Olive.

Drake: I would like you to change my diagnosis from crazy with acute eccentricity to paranoid socialist.

Dr. Olive: I don’t think that is a real diagnosis.

Drake: Well, neither is crazy with acute eccentricity.

Dr. Olive: Why don’t you just become a socialist? It would be easier than changing your diagnosis.

Drake: I already am a socialist.

Dr. Olive: Then you don’t need to have your diagnosis changed, do you?

Drake: But I don’t want to be just a socialist; I want to be paranoid as well.

Dr. Olive: You can be paranoid all you like. Lots of people are paranoid; I’m paranoid.

Drake: I want to be a paranoid socialist.

Dr. Olive: You can be a paranoid socialist; no one is stopping you.

Drake: I want it to be my official diagnosis.

Dr. Olive: It can’t be your diagnosis because socialism is unpatriotic.

Drake: So you won’t change my diagnosis?

Dr. Olive: The best I can do is change it to paranoid capitalist.

Drake: What does that mean?

Dr. Olive: It means you still have an unreasonable distrust of others; but you believe the investment, the means of production, distribution and exchange of wealth should be maintained by just a few individuals and corporations.

Drake: I believe my mistrust of capitalists isn’t unreasonable.

Dr. Olive: If I change your diagnosis to paranoid capitalist, then that means you are cured of your eccentricity and have moved on to something better.

Drake: What about my craziness?

Dr. Olive: I’m afraid that is incurable; you are stuck with that.

Drake: What else can you offer me?

Dr. Olive: If you’re a paranoid capitalist, you can invest in our corporation.

Drake: What corporation?

Dr. Olive: Why, the Loony Bin, of course.

Drake: The Loony Bin is a corporation?

Dr. Olive: Sure it is; why do you think we are called Loony Bin Inc.?

Drake: I didn’t know we were called that.

Dr. Olive: Yeah, we even have a catchy jingle for our commercials that goes like this:

Come on out and don’t be lazy, if you know you’re really crazy. Anxiety and OCD, we want you. Bipolar, schizophrenia and depressives too. So listen to those voices inside your heads, because Loony Bin Inc. has got your meds.

Drake: Will I still have to take medication?

Dr. Olive: You don’t take the medication; like any good capitalist, you sell them.

Drake: It’s a deal. I am now a paranoid capitalist.

Dr. Olive: I will write it down in your file and make it official. {writes down $$$}

Thou Doth Quoth Too Much: An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe

masque of red

“It’s a lovely evening; I thought we could take a stroll through the park, get some fresh air and look at the fall foliage,” I said.

Poe removed his top hat and shook it, making a cloud of dust. “I was thinking we could go down to this crypt I know, sit in some of the coffins and watch vampire bats feast on old rotting flesh,” Poe said.

“That was actually going to be my next suggestion if you didn’t like the park idea.”

The crypt was in an old church, which was weirdly situated between a Costco and a Starbucks. The Starbucks door swooshed open and a raven flew out carrying a cup in its talons. “Poe skinny mocha latte” was written and underlined on the side. Poe grabbed the latte from the raven.

“That’s the last time I’m getting your fucking latte. Nevermore,” quoth the raven as he flew away.

He offered me a sip but I declined.

“I love their lattes! They’re a little pricey though, considering I only make about $2 annually.”

There’s an ominous blood red moon in the sky tonight. A wolf begins to howl from some where close by, even though we are downtown in an urban area strip mall. I was mentally composing my will , when a kid came bounding up to Poe.

“Can I get your autograph?” The boy asked, thrusting his pen and Starbucks napkin at him.

“I love that one story, where the narrator does something unspeakable over another character’s minor offense and then all of his irrational fears come to fruition,” the boy gushed.

Poe signed the kid’s napkin and whispered something in his ear. The kid turned deathly pale, letting out a blood curdling scream as he ran away.

“What did you say to him?”

“I told him that he was going to die in a week, by being boiled alive in a cauldron of his own blood. Then I told him to never give up on his dreams.”

I noticed someone with a black cloak, carrying a scythe had been following us for some time. Every time I looked back, the hooded-figure darted behind a parked car. Not very furtively though, because I could still see the scythe protruding out from around the car.

“Is that the Grim Reaper following us?”

Poe looked back, “yeah, his name is Bob.”

Poe pushed open the creaky old door of the church. The first thing he did was to sprinkle holy water on the two of us. “Just in case,” he winked.

A guy in a purple robe was standing in front of the altar. He had a symbol of blood on his forehead, and was mumbling some sort of incantation over a skeleton. He looked up when we approached.

“Oh, hello. It’s a lovely night for a resurrection.”

“It’s a perfect night for one,” said Poe jovially.

When we get to the door leading down to the crypt I asked, “What was that all about?”

“I have no idea,” Poe said.

We descended into the crypt and I could see a plethora of coffins but they were all occupied. “I don’t see any empty coffins.”

“Just take out the corpses; they won’t mind.”

“I think I’m just going to find a dry place to sit.”

Poe shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

I wrinkled my nose. “What’s that smell?”

“It’s mold, fungus, rot and other toxins. So, try not to breathe in too much.”

I tucked my knees in so tightly to my chest, that it looked like I was ready to re-enter the womb.

“Do you ever think about death?”

“Only every time I’m with you,” I said.

“Most people think I’m obsessed with being buried alive, death, retribution and first person narrative, but I think about other things too like … well just other things.”

I nodded and watched a rat the size of a smart car idle bye. It looked at me with sadness, that my life had been reduced to such a state.

“Really though, all I have ever wanted to do is to tap dance.” He began to rummage around in some of the coffins. “Found them,” he said holding up a pair of tap shoes.

“You keep tap shoes in a crypt?”

“Of course, I keep them down here so they won’t get stolen.”

He laced up his tap shoes and began prancing around the crypt, tapping like a maniac. Bob, the Grim Reaper, peeked around the corner but then dropped the scythe and made a run for it. He had witnessed death so many times but the sight of Poe’s jazz hands was just too much for him.

When Poe was finished, he was sweaty and out of breath. I clapped, even though it was the worst dance performance piece I had ever seen in my life, and I’m including that time I had a twitch in my leg.

“I feel so free when I tap dance.”

The rat was gone but it left a piece of paper behind with something scrawled on it. I pick it up and on it the rat had written the number for emo’s anonymous. I put it in my pocket for later.

Poe felt rejuvenated. “Let’s get out of here. I could really go for some ice cream.”

I began to cough and continued coughing for the rest of the night.

“You really should see someone about that cough. I know this really good witch doctor at the cemetery near my house. We will need to bring a few items. Do you happen to have a strand of wombat hair?”

You Can’t Go Home Again

nope mat

The Druids were an interesting Celtic culture, made up of religious leaders, philosophers, and political advisors. We associate them mostly with Stonehenge. The Druids told their history orally, so no personal accounts were ever written down to be preserved. We mostly know about them from the writings of other civilizations that encountered them, like the Greeks and Romans. Fortunately for everyone, on one of my “archaeology” expeditions, I found some old scrolls that had been lost to the annals of history, until now. The scrolls contain a personal account written by a Druid named Seisyll about his time at Stonehenge.

{Druids busy laboring with placement of stones. One Druid named Divicacus is barking orders at the others}

Divicacus: No … no … no! I didn’t want that stone there and I told you that other one was too small. You people are ruining my vision.

{Two Druids, Seisyll and Maedoc are off to the side discussing Divicacus.}

Seisyll: What’s going on with Diviciacus?

Maedoc: I think he’s just going through a midlife crisis. He just turned 15 and he knows in a couple of years he could get a splinter and die.

Seisyll: Why can’t he just redecorate his cave like the rest of us?

Maedoc: I don’t know why we had to travel a 150 kilometers, rolling these huge stones along just to find this particular plateau. There were plenty of perfectly good plateaus near home.

Seisyll: You know after this, Divicacus said he’s going to Rome to become a Christian.

Maedoc: Christianity seems to be the all the rage this season.

Seisyll: I guess it’s alright; you’re supposed to be charitable to your fellow man but you have to pray to a God though. No more worshiping trees and harmonizing with nature.

Maedoc: Oh, you have to pray? I don’t know about that; it sounds like a big commitment. I thought it might be something I could do on the weekend in between my turnip farming.

Seisyll: How is your turnip farm?

Maedoc: Good, I think they might all be edible this year.

Seisyll: I dread the long journey home.

Maedoc: I’ve decided that I’m not going home.

Seisyll: What about your wife?

Maedoc: I told her I was going hunting. That was five months ago! If I tell her we rolled all these huge stones all the way out here because Divicacus was gong through a Suprematism phase, she would tell the elders that I’m crazy and the villagers would all throw stones at my head. Besides, I have a callus. Can you die from a callus?

Seisyll: Probably.

Maedoc: I already have a place to live in mind.

Seisyll: Where’s that?

Maedoc: I’m going to live in that sinkhole we passed on the way here. I’ll put a thatch roof over it. That should probably keep out about 2% of the rain and hail. I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I threw some sheep bones and the way they landed indicated good fortune. Of course, it could also mean I could die from a rash. Divination is kind of pseudoscience. {itches leg}

Seisyll: That was a nice sinkhole. You know if you put in a bear skin rug and had the right lighting, you could really turn that sinkhole-house into a sinkhole-home.

Maedoc: Hopefully, it won’t sink any further because I’m not tall enough to climb back out.

Seisyll: I wish you luck. I hope there’s a still a home left for me when I return, and the Gauls haven’t sacked it.

Maedoc: Yeah, those Gauls can be galling.

Seisyll: I see what you did there.

Maedoc: Bye my friend; I will really miss you. Try not to freeze to death.

Seisyll:  I have another robe on underneath this robe, so I should be good.

{Maedoc and Seisyll hug and hear a commotion. One of the stones has toppled over and landed on Divicacus.}

Seisyll: That’s really a shame. I guess he won’t get to see Rome after all.

Maedoc: Wasn’t Divicacus carrying the only map?

Seisyll: Does your sinkhole have room for two?


An Ode to the Absurd

funny books

People enjoy all kinds of literary genres and sub-genres. Books can evoke a wide range of emotions. For me however, I like nothing better than reading a book that makes me say, “um … okay?” It’s like saying, I see what you did there, when you really didn’t see what they did there. Nothing gives you that feeling of wtf more than absurdist literature. Absurdism if you will. No other genre of literature mimics actual life quite as well. It’s the joy of creating an entire world and then just sitting around poking it with a stick. Life is theater of the absurd; and if you don’t believe me, you’ve been dead since 2016 because we now live in a Kubrickian nightmare, where our president has lost all of his fuzzy warbles. Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes, and absurdity.

Take Waiting for Godot, it’s all about pointless conversations and waiting around for nothing, which is exactly how I spend the bulk of my time. If you really want to add bats to your belfry though, Kurt Vonnegut is always a good choice. His life and literary mantra is, “so it goes.” He once famously said, “we are here on Earth to just fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.” Figuratively speaking, (literally if it’s Taco Tuesday) farting around is really what humans do with most of their time. Absurdity is practically limitless because it can expand and be stretched like rubber. I recently read Sudden Death by, Alvaro Enrigue. It’s about a tennis match between the painter, Michelangelo Mersi da Caravaggio, and the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. Among some of the spectators are Galileo, the Pope and Mary Magdalene. They play with a special ball made from the hair of the recently beheaded, Anne Boleyn (human hair was one component put in tennis balls in the 16th century, in France the hair was mostly taken from a person who had recently encountered Madame Guillotine). Surely we can all relate to a surreal tennis match, where we hit a ball around made from the hair of a disembodied head; we’ve all been to the DMV. It’s also a great scene to put in a Fellini film because no one would notice.

Absurdity is everywhere, most especially in bureaucracies and government. The inefficiencies of the military industrial complex are written best in Catch-22, where the hero, Yossarian, is diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having, “a morbid aversion to dying.” It’s a catch (excuse) that is used the entire book for every outrageous thing someone does, even though it has no relevance. The office that wins the prize for being ineffectual, would have to be the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit. It’s a place where nothing gets done and gets done well. The office constantly pats itself on the back about what a good job its done (sounds vaguely familiar). My favorite line that embodies the senseless existence of a bureaucracy is when one worker begins complaining, “he walked in without an appointment and said he wanted to know. You know.” It really captures the futility of certain corporate establishments. In the play, The Memorandum, an organization creates a new language called “Ptydepe” to maximize efficiency. In the end, no one can really understand the intended meaning. The memos are constantly getting misconstrued. It has the same cryptic effect as sending a text with the poop, gun, and thumbs up emojis. In, 1984, the use of “Newspeak” eliminates words by artificially combining then into a portmanteau, so that people can think less. Incidentally, this is also Betsy DeVos’s entire educational policy. The words become so deceptive and misleading, they create a new reality. It’s kind of like “alternative facts.”

In life, sometimes we can’t tell if we are Rosencrantz or Guildenstern; it really doesn’t matter though because we are all going to end up like Yorick. It’s 2020, and things are fucked into a cocked hat of absurdity my friends. Life is Kafkaesque, so don’t be surprised if you wake up as a giant cockroach, waddling around being cannonaded by fruit.



The Funeral of Wulf

viking funeral ship 2

The angel, Netzach, was on Earth for the express purpose of meddling in mortal affairs, as angels sometimes do, like in the form of a burning bush, etc. Netzach was just “killed” in a Viking duel and is now at his own funeral. He wasn’t really dead, because angels can not die, but since he was playing the part of a human, in this case a Viking named, Wulf, he needed to see it through to the end. In attendance at the funereal on the island of Bornholm, was a small audience of Danes and an English monk named Thomas.

Netzach was placed on a pyre that was set up on the beach by two young Danes, who were just barely old enough to be considered men. The Viking Chieftain was growing a little impatient; he wanted to get started with the funeral because the gray sky was foreboding rain. Thomas, an English monk was standing next to the Chieftain. It wasn’t the first Viking funeral he had witnessed, having been there about a year already, but he still found them fascinating.

The chieftain raised his hands and said some words that Thomas could only understand in bits and pieces. “May Odin give you knowledge on your path and may Thor grant you strength and courage on your way.”

He still wasn’t that good at translating but thought the Chieftain also said, “Stop your coughing, Torhild, or we will be having two funerals this evening.”

Wulf the Viking as he was known here, and Netzach the angel as he was known in  heaven, opened one eye just a slit to see what was going on. He had no idea why they had put him on a slab of wood, but he was looking and waiting for his chance to slip away.

“Bring up the offerings,” the Chieftain said.

One by one, everyone put something beside the dead Wulf. The Vikings believed in giving gifts to the dead, so they could take them with them on their journey to Valhalla. The Chieftain wondered about giving gifts at all. Surely Wulf would not be going to Valhalla, but to Helheim. Wulf’s death wasn’t a very noble death, dying at the hands of a foreigner, who was barely able to swing his sword. Netzach opened an eye again admiring all the gifts.

Oh my, what a beautiful tunic. I like that color. What craftsmanship on these weapons. It’s too bad I won’t be able to take any of this with me. 

He watched as the two young Danes who had put him on the wooden slab, were arranging the stones into what the Vikings called a, “stone ship.” After burning the body, the ashes were buried inside the stone ship, along with all their gifts. Well—most of them—every now and again, someone stole something from the dead.       

Netzach was becoming irritated. He was wondering when everyone was going to leave so he could disappear. He had not had a private moment since his, “death.”

The two young Danes who were holding torches walked towards Netzach; when something clicked in his mind.

Wait, I’m dead which means this is my funeral. They aren’t going to burn me, are they? I won’t stand for it! I won’t stand for it … again.

Netzach had been “killed” before by fire, hanging, crucifixion and he once drowned  trying to save a badger that fell down a well. A disguised angel was never supposed to reveal himself to mortals but he didn’t care. Netzach jumped up, determined not to be burnt alive.

“I’m terribly sorry for all the trouble,” he said and pushed one of the young Danes carrying a torch. He dropped the torch and it fell on to the pyre setting it ablaze, but Netzach was no longer on it. There was a collective gasp at seeing a man rise from the dead. Knut, who had been drinking all throughout the ceremony, let out a loud belch.

The Chieftain was the first to speak, “Odin, forgive us. We did not know it was you. Surely we did not offend thee with anything improper.” Had it really been Odin, he most likely would have been offended by the whole thing.

“I will forgive all of you, but only if I can have this,” Netzach said and picked up the tunic. “It’s exactly what I wanted.” He no longer cared about the rules of not bringing earthly possessions into heaven. He no longer cared about anything.

 “Of course, oh great one. Please take our humble—”

Netzach did not hear the Chieftain’s last words. He snapped his fingers and disappeared. The collective gasp was heard again at the sight of the angel Netzach, who was pretending to be a Viking named Wulf, who was pretending to be Odin, vanish into thin air. Out of all the Viking funerals from that day forth, none would ever compare to the funeral with the vanishing corpse.

A Dane named, Freydis, was grinning from ear to ear. “Odin favored my tunic,” she said. Freydis became very prosperous from selling her tunics and by the time of her death, she had amassed a small fortune. After all, if Odin were willing to come to Earth just to get one, they must have been glorious.

A revised excerpt from the Gnostic Keepers.


The Island of Plenty

Deserted Island

Day 1:  I’m not sure how I got here. One minute I was on a booze cruise headed toward the Bahamas, and the next thing you know, I’m in the drink both literally and figuratively. The boat was set ablaze by a passenger, who tried to light their whiskey on fire. You should never try to light 92 % alcohol, that has been quadruple-distilled. A valuable lesson for us all. The fire extinguishers were useless because they expired twenty years ago and all the compressed air had long escaped. There weren’t any life boats or jackets on board, and the captain said he had to skimp here and there because how else could he afford all of the alcohol. No one could argue with that reasoning. I can tell you though, that’s the last time I book a cruise from a sketchy-looking man, while shopping at Costco. I jumped overboard, resigned that I would try to swim to an island. Besides, the speakers were blasting the Cha Cha Slide and I refused to die to that song. I seriously doubt the Titanic went down playing a kids party tune, that told you where you were supposed to move and when to clap your hands. The last thing I remember before passing out, was grabbing an ice bucket that floated by which still had a beer in it. When I woke up, I was washed up on the shore of this tropical island.

Day 2:  I explored the entire island today and it is completely deserted. Well, at least I’m finally away from all the noisy people and the every day chaos of life. I can be alone with my thoughts in a tropical paradise. There is no one around to bother me, and there are enough coconuts and fish to keep me alive for years. I absolutely love coconuts!

Day 3: Fuck these coconuts!

Day 4: I tried catching fish using a hairnet that washed ashore, but I didn’t catch anything. Also, spearing fish is a lot harder than it looks on the Discovery Channel. Still, it’s nice being alone. I do long for the occasional conversation though, but it’s fine. I’ll be fine alone.

Day 10: My precious!

Day 31: I saw Wilson today and I pretended I didn’t see him as I walked by, but he made eye contact, so I had to say hello. He’s really annoying.

Day 54: I got attacked by an actual tortoise today while in my tortoise pose. I’m not sure if it was offended by my yoga or the fact that I referred to it as a, “goddamn turtle” instead of a tortoise.

Day 80: I tried to build a raft, but Wilson and I couldn’t agree on the best way to make it. We argued for hours and I finally passed out from the heat.

Day 115: I can’t stand the sight of Wilson anymore, so I waited until he was asleep and punted him into the ocean. In the morning, he washed back up on the shore. I said I was drunk and couldn’t remember what happened. It was awkward.

Day 220:  How can I still be fat???

Day 365: It’s exactly a year ago today that I washed up on this island. I don’t care anymore; I’m just going to try and swim for it. With any luck, I’ll wash up on another island that has lots of bananas instead.

Day 366: I’m saved! I was picked up by a cruise liner by the exact same captain. I asked him how he survived, and turns out, he had floated to safety on a passengers inflatable sex doll. I told him I wanted my money back, or I was going to give him a bad Yelp review. He didn’t give me my money back but said he would comp all my drinks, so I didn’t want to complain.






Lost: Jessie’s Girl. If Found, Please Give Her a Name


Jessie’s girl; lost but not forgotten, even though we try. Who is Jessie’s girl? Lets examine the facts that we know. We know that Rick Springfield is a shitty friend and rather than write his secret desires in a diary, he chose to put them to lyrics that have haunted us our entire lives. She is a girl without her own identity, trapped forever in a love triangle so wrong, it ended up in a song. To solve the mystery of Jessie’s girl once and for all, I interviewed Jessie (last name not given to protect his identity) to find out about, “his girl.”

Me: How did the two of you meet?

Jessie: She and I were both deadheads. We would follow the Grateful Dead all over the world. We stopped following them after Jerry Garcia had an ice cream named after himself. It just got to be too much. That’s when we decided to join the Illuminati.

Me: Why has her identity been kept a secret? Tell us her story.

Jessie: It was so that the Illuminati wouldn’t find her; she stole thousands of dollars worth of Gothic ashtrays. Rick blew her cover with that song. The Illuminati found her and bludgeoned her death with Bavarian sausages. So sad.

Me: How did you and Rick become friends?

Jessie: We met at an auction; he and I were both bidding on Bob Dylan’s mood ring. We talked afterwards and found out we both used the same hair spray, so we became fast friends.

Me: Did you suspect he was after, “your girl?”

Jessie: Not at first. He asked me where he could find a woman like that. I said in various cults and secret societies.

Me: Why did he feel so dirty when you guys started talking cute?

Jessie: I didn’t know this at the time, but he bugged my car and my home. He would listen in on our conversations.

Me: Did Rick Springfield end up with, “your girl?”

Jessie: Yes, but then he quickly moved on to Jenny, after he found out her number was 867-5309.

Me: What are you doing now?

Jessie: Currently, I’m one of the writers for the Iron Sheikh’s Twitter account.  You might recognize some of my tweets. “I WILL SUPLEX YOUR DREAMS YOU JABRONI” and “DANCE OR GO FUCK YOURSELF”

Me: Do you also tweet for the president?

Jessie: No, I get that a lot though, because of the similarities.

Me: Where is, “your girl” buried?

Rick: She’s not my girl anymore; she belongs to the world. Her ashes were scattered in a Costco, to commemorate her love of bulk purchasing.

Me: I guess there’s a fine line between sweet and misogynistic. Are you and Rick still friends?

Jessie: He sent me a friend request on Facebook, but I didn’t accept it. I’m just not ready to forgive him.

Me: Neither is the world.

Rick Springfield’s last known whereabouts.

Know-It-O’s: The Cereal That Makes You Smart


Introducing Know-It-O’s, a non-approved FDA cereal that makes you smart.

Are you tired of being a dumb ass? Is your vocabulary extremely limited? Are you in the presidential adjectives club? According to the latest survey, Americans on average, are as dumb as a windmill and for those people who don’t know, windmills are stupid and cause cancer. Let’s face it, your T-Rex size brain can only concentrate for so long. Who has time to be well-read these days? We are not our grandparents, who sat by the fire reading A Tale of Two CitiesYou can’t spare the time away from your phone to read the tale of one city, let alone twoNo, it’s a new era of technology. It is the dumber of times; it is the more dumber of times

I know what your thinking; you’re perfectly happy to wallow in your own ignorance, because after all, it’s gotten you this far in life and you don’t want people thinking you’re now an elitist, because you learned how to pronounce ignominious. It takes years of reading, to develop a decent vocabulary and expand your  point-of-view, beyond your own little narrow slice of cheese. If you had that kind of time, patience and intellectual curiosity in the first place, you wouldn’t be working as an unlicensed acupuncturist in upstate New York. We guarantee that if you eat one bowl of Know-It-O’s a day, for an entire week, your IQ will go up by five points. Just think where you could be in two weeks. Maybe the manager at Arby’s; the possibilities are endless.

You may be wondering what’s in our cereal that makes people smarter. We have all the usual artificial ingredients that make you fat, corn syrup, starch, dextrose trisodium phosphate, etc., but there’s one key ingredient that takes you from Vanilla Ice to Voltaire, in just the span of a few weeks. Our special ingredient is called wiseoflavin, discovered by accident, when one of our employees nuked a hot pocket for too long and it exploded in the microwave. The resulting goop is what comprises wiseoflavin and makes you into a one person think tank.

It works, but don’t just take our word for it; read the testimonials of some our satisfied customers.

“I love Cheerios.” – Courtney Stanley, Satan’s Kingdom, Massachusetts.

“I saw the face of Jesus in my cereal bowl and you can see it too for $5.” – Sam Roberts, Mormon, Utah.

“It makes me gag, but my dog really likes it.” – Dan Salisbury, Children of the Corn, Nebraska.

Try Know-It O’s today and stop being the dumbest one in the room.

Disclaimer: May cause false sense of superiority, hives, dysentery, multiple personality disorder, dementia, bad fashion sense, the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918, penchant for obscure yogurt flavors, bad puns and pregnancy. Do not eat while driving, sitting, standing, lying down, walking, running, or having sex. The sudden influx of knowledge may cause some to have an aneurysm. Product not meant for Fox viewers.


The Weekly Horrorscopes


Aquarius (January 20 – February 18) As the moon transitions into the house of Aquarius, you feel more despair than a Thomas Hardy novel. You eat your feelings, with a gallon of Cherry Garcia and watch Truffaut films. You will make a very unfortunate fashion choice, that gets you ridiculed by a group of Millennial’s at Starbucks. As Saturn aligns with Jupiter, your cat will plot to kill you. He hates you and will delight in your demise.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20) The sun’s solar flares will mean that your hemorrhoids are flaring up again. You will lose your job and be forced to sell decorative boxes and pose as a living statue. Your favorite necklace will fall behind the dresser and we both know you’re not going to move it. As the weather heats up, go outside and get some sun, because you are whiter than Mike Pence’s family reunion.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) The movement of Mars, indicates you will give no fucks this week. The dumpster fire that is your life, keeps raging and you get a big pimple on your forehead, even though you are forty years old. You give up on trying to meet someone and join a scrapbooking club. Be careful of upsetting a Pisces, because they have psychotic cats.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) The advent of the new moon in Taurus, means you’ll receive some bad news. Your aunt dies, bequeathing you her collection of porcelain clown dolls. It will turn out, that one of the dolls is possessed and a priest will come to your house to perform an exorcism. The movement of Neptune may mean death, or you will have to listen to a rendition of, “Hotel California” played by a mariachi band. I don’t know for sure; this is a pseudoscience.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) As Saturn transitions into the house of Gemini, prepare for some Alfred Hitchcock-level of weird shit. You will get hit by a couple on a tandem bicycle and have to go to the hospital. The couple will come to visit you and apologize for owning a tandem bicycle. While you’re in the hospital, you get a flesh eating bacteria, that has never been encountered before, so they name it after you. Unfortunately, the bacteria turns you into a zombie and you are now patient zero.

Cancer (June 21- July 22) . The influx of Uranus, (sorry) means you will attend a hot dog eating contest, where one of the contestants is choking. You will perform the Heimlich maneuver on them incorrectly. As it turns out, the contestant wasn’t choking and dies from a punctured lung. You’ll go to prison for life, where you’re forced to knit sweater vests for the GOP. In prison, you find religion and get a tattoo that says, “Jesus is dope.” Watch yourself in the shower, because you’ll want to avoid an influx of Uranus.

Leo (July 23 – August 22) Your astrological map reads like a Nicholas Sparks novel, only without all the sex. Your stocks take a nose dive and you will lose all of your retirement savings. You get a roommate, who smells like Limburger cheese and plays the pan flute. Avoid Libra, Pisces, Virgo and people in general.  Your house will become infested, because your roommate’s pan flute attracts a number of woodland creatures and a few Phish roadies. The burning of incense, your roommate does, to cover up the Limburger cheese smell, catches the drapes on fire. The only thing that is salvageable from the ashes is your vintage Rattan bar stool and the pan flute.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22) Saturn will dominate the house of Virgo this week. You’ll get stuck in an elevator with a mime and a kid taking pics to post on his Instagram, using the caption, #ElevatorMime. A classical arrangement of, “Easy Lover” will play over and over like a virtual horror film. When you finally get rescued, you miss your job interview, the only one in six months. You sell all of your possessions and move to Chicago to live with your sister. Avoid Capricorn, Scorpio and Lollapalooza.

Libra (September 23 – October 22) With the exit of Jupiter and the slow entrance of Mercury, you will get blackout drunk and sing, “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blonde’s at a karaoke bar. You give your number to an actuary, who promises to give you a free risk analysis, if you’ll go out with him. The actuary determines, based upon your lifestyle, that you should be dead by Thursday. When Thursday rolls around and you’re not dead, you celebrate by getting black out drunk at the same karaoke bar. You sing, “Can’t Fight this Feeling” by REO Speedwagon and immediately get banned for life.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)  With Mercury in retrograde, you’ll be feeling generally shitty. You’ve now watched all of Downtown Abbey on Netflix and your dog refuses to go near you, because you are hygiene deficient. Cheetos stains cover your fingers and your breath smells like patchouli. After having a little too much wine, you crash your car into a Trader Joe’s store, where you destroy an entire isle of almond butter and cauliflower gnocchi. You get sued by Trader Joe’s and in lieu of  monetary damages, you are press-ganged into being a brand associate, for their line of kale falafel hummus wraps.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21) After the Lunar Eclipse, you’ll start having reoccurring nightmares that you’re a Fox News anchor. On a whim, you decide to become a minimalist and throw all your possessions in the trash. You regret it the next day, but by then it will be too late. Your Delonghi Cappuccino maker will be put in a landfill, with all the E.T. Atari cartridges. The literary critics will pan your new novel as being a, “self-important pile of polished turds.” You go to IKEA, where you sink into one of their faux bean bag chairs and are never seen again.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19) The transformation of Venus into the house of Capricorn, will create some friction between you and one of your coworkers. You’ll try to smooth things over with a clever pun about llamas, but as it turns out, no one likes puns about llamas, or puns in general or you in general. You move on to cause friction in your other relationships with friends on social media. Your great-aunt blocks you on Facebook, for telling her there’s a special place in hell for her thoughts and prayers. The conservative wing of your family will not invite you to any more family reunions, because you believe in science and have now been labeled as that, “Socialist Satan worshiper.” You will attend your nephew’s sixth birthday party at the pool, where you are beaten to death with an inflatable unicorn. The kids dispose of your body and your eternal resting place is underneath a bouncy house.




The Corpse Trial


In the year 897, a very strange event occurred. A trial took place in Rome, called the Cadaver Synod, or Corpse Trial. The former pope, Pope Formosus, who had been dead for some months, was disinterred and placed on trial. The judge of the trial was Pope Stephen VI, who was the pope at that time. It was believed that what transpired on that day was lost to history, but with some Indiana Jones type, “archaeology” I was able to get a copy of the transcript, which I translated from Latin (you’re welcome) to English for your convenience.

The corpse of the former pope was sitting in the chair, as if he were still pope, wearing all his papal vestments. Pope Stephen VI addressed the people in the room.

“Let it be understood, that Deacon Bartholomew will be answering for Pope Formosus, and Deacon John will be the prosecutor. Let us commence with the charges brought before the court.”

Deacon John stood up and faced the audience, careful not to stand too close to the accused.

“The Holy Roman Papacy charges Pope Formosus with perjury, ascending to the papacy illegally and ambition.”

There was a collective murmuring from the bishops and cardinals attending the trial.

“Pope Formosus, is it correct that you were once the Bishop of Porto?” Deacon John asked.

There was a silence in the room, everyone was on the edge of their seat, waiting to see if the dead pope would speak. Pope Stephen turned and glared at Deacon Bartholomew. The Deacon, who remembered it was he who had to answer for the deceased, jumped out of his seat and faced the audience. He straightened his diaconal vestments and did his best to preserve his dignity. He said what he thought the former pope might say if he were still alive.


Pope Stephen glared at Deacon Bartholomew. “I mean, yes, that is correct.”

Deacon John continued his line of questioning. “You were then made Archbishop of the–”

“Answer the question, you charlatan,” Pope Stephen roared and pointed at the cadaver.

“Forgive me your holiness, but I need to finish. You were then made the Archbishop of the Bulgarian Church during the reign of Nicholas I, charged with bringing that kingdom under the Roman Church?”

The crowd turned their head from Deacon John to the super dead pope.

“I don’t know what any of that actually means.”

Pope Stephen once again glared at Deacon Bartholomew.

“Yes, that is correct,” Deacon Bartholomew stammered.

“You admit then, that you violated canonical strictures against translation. That is to say, the transfer of one Episcopal see to another?” Deacon John asked.

Pope Stephen once again interrupted the prosecution. He covered his mouth with a handkerchief, walked up and stood an inch away from the corpse pope, who has been remarkably calm thus far in the proceedings.

“You deserted your diocese without papal permission!”

Deacon Bartholomew, who did not want to risk a third glare from the pope, immediately answered in the affirmative.

“Let it be written that Pope Formosus has plead guilty to transmigrating sees, in violation of canon law and performing holy duties as a bishop, all the while, in fact, a layman,” Deacon John said.

More murmuring was heard again throughout the room and someone was heard saying, “This is some weird shit even by medieval standards.”

Deacon John waited until the rumbling died down to resume his questioning.

“The last charges were laid upon him during his first synod and did not originate with me,” Pope Stephen said.

“We must now settle the charge of perjury. You were deposed and excommunicated by Pope John VIII at a Roman council—”

“You aided in poisoning our beloved Pope John and delighted in his head being bashed in with a hammer,” Pope Stephen interrupted once again, who was nearly frothing at the mouth and behaving decidedly un-popeish.

“May I remind your holiness if I may be so bold, murder and/or aiding and abetting in murder, is not one of the charges leveled against the accused.”

Pope Stephen reluctantly nodded his head, as if he didn’t see why they couldn’t lay one more charge on him.

Due to a deteriorating spinal column, the former pope was sliding down in his chair.

Deacon John paused, forgetting momentarily where he left off.

“You were deposed and excommunicated by Pope John VIII at a Roman council, and you swore an oath never to return to Rome or exercise priestly functions again—were you not?”

“That is true,” Deacon Bartholomew answered.

“I have here the document that declares this oath and is signed by the deceased; it was taken at the Synod of Troyes,” Deacon John said.

Deacon John gave the document to Pope Stephen, who shoved it in the face of the cadaver.

“After the assassination of his holiness, Pope John VIII, all charges against you were dropped and you were reinstated by Pope Marinus I, as Bishop of Porto. So you returned to performing duties, after signing a sworn oath in a papal court?” Deacon John asked.

“Yes, but only after I was pardoned by our holiness Pope Marinus—”

Brother Bartholomew was interrupted by Pope Stephen, who rose once again and stuck his finger in the face of the dead pope.

“Silence, you fiend!”

“Let it be written that Pope Formosus has plead guilty to the charge of perjury,” Deacon John said.

“I didn’t plead guilty actually,” mumbled Deacon Bartholomew.

“Now, we come to the third and final charge of ambition to become pope,” Deacon John said.

“When you were Bishop of Porto, why did you usurp the universal Roman see in such a spirit of ambition?” Pope Stephen asked.

Deacon John sighed; he was becoming exasperated with the Pope’s outbursts and interruptions. “Go ahead and answer the question.”

Deacon Bartholomew was uneasy; he knew that he had better say something that Pope Stephen wanted to hear or he’d lose his post as deacon.

“I conspired with Boris I to become Bishop in Bulgaria and secretly held ambitions to become pope. I was a traitor to King Charles the Bald.”

Some snickering was heard in the crowd at the mention of “King Charles the Bald.”

“I knew it! I knew it!” Pope Stephen yelled and did a victory dance.

“Let it be written, that Pope Formosus has plead guilty to the charge of ambition to seek the papacy illegally. His holiness, Pope Stephen, will now issue the sentence,” Deacon John said.

At this point the corpse pope had slid out of his chair and into the floor. His papal crown was askew.

“I find the accused guilty on all three charges and I issue a rescission actorum, which I will look up the meaning later. Deacon Bartholomew, go find a layman’s robe somewhere and Deacon John, please bring me a knife,” Pope Stephen said.

“A knife, your craziness … er … holiness?” Deacon John asked.

“That is what I said.”

When Brother John arrived back in the courtroom, Deacon Bartholomew was closing up his briefcase like any good lawyer.

Deacon Thomas presented the knife to Pope Stephen, who grabbed the knife and went over to the body of the former pope. He then grabbed the dead pope’s right hand and with one quick slash of the knife, cut off the Pope’s first three fingers.

One of the bishops sitting in the front row jumped to his feet, whether it was to object to the desecration, or he had to use the bathroom, no one can be sure, because he was forced back into his seat by his fellow bishops, where he remained silent.

“You have spoiled the cloisters of Rome and defiled the papal see by performing holy acts as a layman. I remove the fingers that gave blessings to poor men and rich men alike.”

Deacon Bartholomew came forward to remove the papal vestments from former Pope Formosus and put on the layman’s cloak. “Ew,” he said as he touched the cadaver. “Does anyone have any hand sanitizer?”

Pope Stephen, who was scratching his head with the former popes’s fingers said, “You will bury him in a foreigner’s grave.”

Some of the bishops and cardinals in the crowd helped put the corpse back in its original casket, which they carried out with heads bowed.

“I need everyone present to sign this document as witnesses to the events that transpired here today and then we will adjourn to the room next door for some coffee and donuts,” Pope Stephen said.

 After the burial of Pope Formus in a foreigner’s grave, Pope Stephen decided that his corpse wasn’t corpsey enough, so he had him disinterred again, tied with weights and thrown in the Tiber River. The people rebelled against Pope Stephen and he was later imprisoned. A few months later, while in prison, he was strangled to death, thus ending the bizarre story of the Cadaver Synod. 

A revised excerpt from my book, The Gnostic Keepers.