I climbed out the window, onto the lower level of our roof, and paced around for a few minutes, trying my hardest not to slide to a painful death atop the razor-wire fence below that separates our property from our neighbor’s. I stood there on the slanted patch of ice, my toes trying to grip the shingles through the soles of my shoes, and wondered how in the hell I’d make it up the next ten feet, to the level of our roof where the chimney pops out.

For those of you who didn’t read my post earlier today, my chimney is being used like a firehouse pole by a family of giant ravens. They mill around on our roof until they want some action and then they take turns popping into the chimney and soaring down into our living room at breakneck speed. Once they reach the bottom, they flap around in the fireplace, attempting to drive my bird-phobic wife completely out of her mind… This morning, she requested that I somehow make my way to the roof to plug up the hole, or make it otherwise bird-proof… By this point, I’d already been to Home Depot and arrived home with some kind of elevated chimney top-hat kind of contraption (I can’t describe it any better than that.) Now I just needed to figure out how to get up there… I know my dad’s head will explode somewhere when I admit this (sorry mom), but although we’ve been in this house almost three years now, I have never been on the roof, not even once to clean my gutters.

So, here I am, freezing my ass off, standing on this incredibly steep roof, trying to figure out how to get up to the next level. I’d originally thought that I could use our painting ladder, but there’s no way it would work at this angle, especially on ice. My second plan is to pull myself up by hanging on the gutter that runs around the edge of the roof above me. Either the thought of my somewhat substantial weight being supported by flimsy sheet metal and thumbtacks, or my extreme distaste for physical exertion, make me reconsider this option though. Out of options, I just stand there in the cold.

As Linette is standing right inside the window (she’s in charge of keeping our cats from jumping out while the window is open), I know I can’t just give up and go back in. Instead I pace around for a while, looking as though I’m considering my options. In the process, I make it apparent to her, through a long string of profanities, that it’s both cold and dangerous. After a few minutes of this, she suggests that I come back in.

My pathetic performance has bought me a week.

Now I just need to find a way to hire someone without completely emasculating myself in the process.

The proofs came back from the printer yesterday and everything looks good. If all goes according to plan, you should, if you’re a subscriber, get your copy of Crimewave #14 by Christmas Eve.

Since we were paying the extra for our first full-color cover, we decided to go all out. As a result, it looks like Elton John exploded all over it. Not only is it bright to the point of being garish, it’s terribly gay. Linette disagrees with me on this, but the dominant color is pink and the central element is a ceramic cat saltshaker. That qualifies as gay, right? If nothing else, I’m sure it will stand out against the images of big boobs and ass cheeks that usually dominate the magazines in our section of the rack. (It actually looks really good, even with the use of pink and the ceramic cats, and I’m sure we’ll sell a ton of them.)

This week I’m going to try to figure out Paypal. A few of you have written and suggested I add it, and I want to. I’m just kind of intimidated. It would be really cool though if you could just buy the new issue of Crimewave from right where you are, without having to address an envelope and waste a stamp. (If you don’t want to wait for me to figure out Paypal, just send $3 cash to P.O. Box 980301, Ypsilanti, MI 48198.)

I also want to link to Amazon. That has more to do with me being greedy though, and less to do with me making things easier for you. I figure it would be cool if I could link directly to movies, books and CDs that I write about here at Then, if you like it, and want to buy it for yourself, I’ll get something like 10%. I figure it’s a little less obnoxious than running ads, and it would be cool if I made at least enough money to pay for the hosting of this site.

other stuff
-Doug Skinner poked some more fun at my expense today, but I instinctively deleted his note upon reading it. That’s too bad, because it really was quite clever and I would have liked to have shared it with you… I think it had something to do with my alleged preoccupation with gay porn.

Speaking of my nemesis, so many of you have written and asked me what the great and powerful Doug Skinner looks like, that I thought I would include a photo.

While this is not a photo of Mr. Skinner, I like to look at it when he sends me nasty notes. I find that things seem less threatening when they come from little girls.

-And somewhere in Germany, a dead body was mistaken for performance art.

… I was going to work on some kind of performance art joke here, but I don’t have the time or the interest.

-And, in Pennsylvania, a band of mobsters in prison are caught sticky-handed in a sperm-smuggling case.

Many years ago I worked on a screenplay that involved a band of prison semen smugglers. As with most of my projects, it never went anywhere, but I liked the idea. In my script, the sperm belonged to a man who had a contact on the outside at a sperm bank. This person at the sperm bank was impregnating women, unknowingly, with the prisoner’s sperm. I don’t recall the details exactly, but it had something to do with the prisoner’s obsession with the idea that his genes had to live on into the future. It was just a subplot. I don’t remember the other threads that were tied into it. I’m sure, if it was anything like the other scripts I worked on at the time, it also had aliens, ape-like humanoid creatures and something to do with the Kennedy assassination. I didn’t usually stray too far from those fertile fields of obsession.

-I bought a little Christmas tree today when I was at Home Depot. I’m looking at it now, in the corner of the room.

-The man who invalidated a good portion of my childhood is now dead.

To read the story click here.

Did you read it? It’s the obituary of a man named Ray Wallace, a man who claimed to have been responsible for the beginning of the US Bigfoot craze that began in the late 1950’s. When I was a kid in the 70’s, I would have physically assaulted you if you’d told me that there was no such thing as Bigfoot. It was like my religion.

Not only does it seem as though this guy faked most of the famous tracks from Northern California, it has even been suggested by some that it was his wife in a fur suit that ran across the clearing as Bigfoot in the famous 1967 film by Roger Patterson.

Here’s a quote from the piece:

Wallace also says that he told Roger Patterson where to film his Bigfoot. “Roger Patterson came [over] dozens of times pumping me on this Bigfoot,” Ray Wallace explained to researcher Dennis Pilichis in 1982. ” I felt sorry for Roger Patterson. He told me that he had cancer of the lymph glands and he was desperately broke and he wanted to try get something where he could have a little income. Well, he went down there just exactly where I told him. I told him, ‘You go down there and hang around on that bank. Stay up there and watch that spot.’ I told him where the trail was that went down to where that big rock was. I told him where he could get those pictures down there. Bluff Creek.”

All of Wallace’s claims are suspect, but there is no doubt that Patterson met with Wallace to get information, as Wallace says. We know that Patterson visited Wallace–Patterson writes about it in his own book Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist? (Yakima, Washington: Franklin Press, Inc., 1966, pp. 63-64.) And we know that Patterson took his films at one of Wallace’s favorite Bigfoot spots: Bluff Creek, the site of previous alleged Wallace hoaxes. In short, the Patterson film was taken on the location of a known serial hoaxer.

For more information, here’s an article from Strange magazine that discusses Bigfoot hoaxes and the possible origins of the Patterson film.

-The new Spike Jonze / Nicholas Cage film, “Adaptation,” opened this weekend, but I couldn’t find it playing anywhere around here. Instead, I did the next best thing, and caught part of the Pauly Shore film “BioDome” on cable.

I don’t much care for the post-“Con Air” Nick Cage, but I’m excited about this film. It’s even got its own blog!

-Speaking of cool new blogs, you can now visit New York City Blog. It doesn’t do me a hell of a lot of good here in Ypsilanti, but it seems like it would be a pretty good tool for anyone in or around the NYC area. (Maybe NYC is just a beta market, somewhere for them to work out the bugs before launching in south eastern Michigan.)

-Have you seen the Michael Jackson Baby Drop Game yet? The game itself isn’t too good, but the idea deserves some credit.

– There was a good op-ed piece in the New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman a few days ago concerning a shift in Iran toward Islamic Protestantism. I meant to link to it when it ran, but I forgot.

What’s going on in Iran today is, without question, the most promising trend in the Muslim world. It is a combination of Martin Luther and Tiananmen Square — a drive for an Islamic reformation combined with a spontaneous student-led democracy movement. This movement faces a formidable opponent in Iran’s conservative clerical leadership. It can’t provide a quick fix to what ails relations between Islam and the West today. There is none. But it is still hugely important, because it reflects a deepening understanding by many Iranian Muslims that to thrive in the modern era they, and other Muslims, need an Islam different from the lifeless, anti-modern, anti-Western fundamentalism being imposed in Iran and propagated by the Saudi Wahhabi clerics. This understanding is the necessary condition for preventing the brewing crisis between Islam and the West — which was triggered by 9/11 — from turning into a war of civilizations.

To put it another way, what’s going on in Iran today is precisely the war of ideas within Islam that is the most important war of all. We can kill Osama bin Laden and all his acolytes, but others will spring up in their place. The only ones who can delegitimize and root out these forces in any sustained way are Muslim societies themselves. And that will happen only when more Muslim societies undergo, from within, their own struggle for democracy and religious reform. Only the disenchanted citizens of the Soviet bloc could kill Marx; only Muslims fed up that their faith is being dominated by anti-modernists can kill bin Ladenism and its offshoots.

This struggle in Iran is symbolized by one man, whose name you should know: Hashem Aghajari, a former Islamic revolutionary and now a college professor, who was arrested Nov. 6 and sentenced to death by the Iranian hard-liners — triggering a student uprising — after giving a speech on the need to rejuvenate Islam with an “Islamic Protestantism.”

Mr. Aghajari’s speech was delivered on the 25th anniversary of the death of Ali Shariati, one of the Iranian revolution’s most progressive thinkers. In the speech — translated by the invaluable MEMRI service — he often cited Mr. Shariati as his inspiration. He began by noting that just as “the Protestant movement wanted to rescue Christianity from the clergy and the church hierarchy,” so Muslims must do something similar today. The Muslim clergymen who have come to dominate their faith, he said, were never meant to have a monopoly on religious thinking or be allowed to ban any new interpretations in light of modernity.

In a time when we don’t get too much in the way of good news, I thought that story really stood out.

If you want to read the entire article, go here.

-Lastly, I thought that I would share this with you. It’s a little story about a rash of stolen baby Jesuses.


OK, I’m tired and I need to go to bed now and dreams about what just happened on the Sopranos.

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