baby new year

A few days ago, Linette and I went to the doctor. While we were there, they held a tiny microphone up to Linette’s stomach. It was at that point that the room filled up with the sound of a rapidly sloshing little heartbeat and my life changed.

Yes, if everything continues to go well, Linette and I will be parents in 2004.

It is with that very happy thought in my mind that I wish all of you in the family a happy, healthy and productive new year.

Here’s my little toast:

Here’s hoping that were all able to put the bad things in the past behind us and to move into 2004 with optimism and hope.

Here’s hoping that we have a year without fear, in which people with courage and vision come forward with creative solutions for the problems that we see around us.

Here’s hoping that in the new year we are all able to experience the feeling of being able to work together to affect positive change.

Linette’s in the other room, researching baby stuff. She just shouted out, “Yipee, the tails already gone.”

On that note, happy New Year.

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my folks

Last week, after my parents discovered this blog, I put a photo of my mom and dad up here on the site, along with a note asking for some of you to write letters to them on my behalf, defending this blog, etc. Quite a few of you sent in very nice, thoughtful notes. For that, I am appreciative. One of you, however, took the opportunity to turn the table on my parents. A young reader by the name of Dave went all “CSI” on their photograph, pulling out little details that he thought would give me insight into their lives, just as this blog of mine has given them insight into my life. Heres the letter I just received from Dave.

Dear Mark,

As a regular reader of your blog, I was moved by your chronicle of the discovery of your blog by your parents. Revealing yourself honestly to the people responsible for your existence can be distressing. What if they don’t like who you turned out to be? But, before you go stripping your next blog entry of all mention of poop touching and ball shaving, remember that that parent/child dynamic cuts both ways. Parents revealing themselves honestly to their adult children might be distressing too. What if your kids don’t like who you really are? In fact, it could be so distressing that your parents might do everything they can to make you think they are simple hard working people with no vices. Nothing but 100% all-American patriots. When in reality they are… pot smoking Egyptian god worshipers into light bondage!!

Mark, I submit to you the following:

I was feeling empathetic toward you after I read your post. And I was gazing at that photo of such a loving, good-humored couple sitting in their living room when suddenly I noticed something. I thought, “Wait just a cotton pickin’ second. If I didn’t know these were upstanding people, I’d swear that’s a Silencer 9000 Thin Strap Ball Gag on the window sill.” I fired up my digital image enhancing software, well, you can see for yourself what I found.

It’s hard to know whether they set this camera shot up on purpose hoping you’d discover their little secret because it was too difficult to find the words to tell you directly. Or maybe it happened unconsciously–they just happened to leave their stuff lying around and both thought that particular corner would make a lovely spot for a photo to send to their son. Either way, the curtain has been pulled aside and you guys are on the way to a much more honest relationship. And that is just so heartwarming to me.

I think I’m going to call my mom right now and tell her about my little fetish and the website I run on the side. I’ll bet I can work things out with them.

Wow. Thanks to the Maynards, I think its going to be the best New Years ever!

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Maynard!

Your friend,


Of course, this was a joke. My parents really are good people, and, as far as I know, they don’t use drugs, worship Egyptian gods or do any of these other distasteful things… I am, however, concerned about this Dave fellow.

Happy New Year!

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feng shui and murder

Linette and I just took a little walk around town and discovered something pretty interesting. The former house of John Norman Collins, the so-called Michigan Murderer, has changed orientation. Sitting at the corner of Emmet Street and College Place, the front door used to face College Place. Now, however, it faces Emmett. Between that, some new siding, and a few replacement windows, it looks like a completely different place.

I didnt think much of it at first, but then, as we got a few steps away from the house, it occurred to me that it might not be all that easy to sell the home of a well-known and prolific serial-killer. (John Norman Collins killed as many as nine women between 1967 and 1970.) Maybe Im reading too much into this rehab project, but it seems to me that changing the front door would not only change the look of the place, but also the mailing address. Pretty ingenious, huh? Now, when potential homebuyers go and do their property searches, they wont find stories of the co-ed killer and the evidence that was apparently removed from the charming little home.

I wonder if this might make a good show for one of those home-repair networks. Every week they could go to another infamous murder house, filling in bullet holes, washing up blood, creatively changing addresses, etc. Hell, you could even move the houses. Who would ever suspect that they could be moving into the house where the Manson Murders took place in a suburb of Atlanta!

Actually, according to the accepted version of the Collins story no women were killed in that home. Collins lived there, and souvenirs were kept there, but thats apparently about it. (There is another house here in Ypsi, however, one that belonged to his aunt and uncle, where one murder did take place. The others, from what I can tell, were done either in his car, in wooded areas around here, or in abandoned farmhouses.)

John Norman Collins turned this town upside down in the late 60s and hes still a local boogeyman to some extent. People still talk about him, telling stories of their close calls, pointing out the house where he lived, talking about the girls he killed. Its hard to erase or forget something this evil. I guess its good to try though.

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movie picks

Linette and I were sitting at a coffee shop a few days ago, working on our Christmas cards, when a tall, thin man pulled up a chair alongside of us and introduced himself. He said he was a reporter and that hed been sitting on the other side of the coffee shop, watching us. Seeing that we were clearly not buying his story, he then whipped out his billfold and flashed us a business card under plastic that said reporter, in order to prove it. In spite of this slick, detective-like move, I was still a bit apprehensive. And, although we let our guard down and bit and started chatting with him, I kept thinking that our conversation would end in either 1) a request for gas money, 2) an introduction to his friend and savior, Jesus Christ, or 3) some kind of daring sexual proposition.

His reason for talking with us, it was soon revealed, was an article that hed been assigned. Hed been told to come up with something on the films that people would be watching this New Years and he was stumped. Up until that moment, hed been able to come up with one idea – When Harry Met Sally. (Apparently theres a scene in that film that takes place on New Years Eve.)

Anyway, he was a nice guy and we sat there with him for about 25 minutes and chatted about other films with New Years Eve plotlines and/or themes of redemption and renewal. Well, his article came out today in the Detroit News. As he mentions in the piece, we recommended Groundhog Day, The Poseidon Adventure, and the first Thin Man film. There was other stuff too, but I cant remember it all. I know that I mentioned the classic William Powell film My Man Godfrey, but he must have decided to cut that. I also sang Theres Got to be a Morning After from the Poseidon Adventure, but he didnt mention that either.

Its too bad that he left out the mention of My Man Godfrey. I think, out of all the films we discussed, that would be my New Years pick. Not only does the plot revolve around changing fortunes and such, I believe the action begins at a swank New Years Eve party, during which the depression-era socialite invitees are urged to go on a scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt includes, among other items, one forgotten man. (The forgotten men were essentially those people who had lost everything during the depression and migrated to shantytowns built around garbage dumps.) William Powell, one of my favorite actors, plays a forgotten man Its got a good message for the New Year. Trust me.

Now, on a completely different matter

I got a piece of good news this morning. It looks like the San Francisco literary institution, and home of the Beat generation, City Lights Books will be carrying Crimewave. They just placed their first order and I thought that was pretty cool. I love the idea that, just days from now, someone will be able to grab a copy off their historic shelves and then amble across the alleyway to Vesuvios, one of my favorite bars on the west coast. Yes, by they end of the week someone will be sitting in the same seat that the great Jack Kerouac once sat at, drinking a beer and reading about my fat, dimpled ass. It brings a tear to the eye.

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surprise legislation

According to this article in the San Antonio Current, on the same day the American press was all over the story of Saddam Husseins extraction from cold storage, our President signed into law provisions that will expand the reach of the much beloved Patriot Act.

Happy Holidays.

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