Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dead Sexy

My friend, Connecticut writer Rick Koster, has a new book out...

It’s said that the phrase “the love that dare not speak its name” (from a 19th-century poem “Two Loves” by Lord Alfred Davis) refers to archaic views on homosexuality.

But as pertains to Rick Koster’s new book “Poppin’ A Cold One,” the love dares not speak its name because it can’t. And that’s because half of the lovers are… dead.

But the dead are hot these days. Zombies and vampires are in. And while necrophilia as a plot device might seem a little “out there,” at least in this case there are no moony vampire babies like in Twilight.

And, necrophilia has surfaced in art other times as well. Poe, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy and Alice Cooper (among others) have touched on the subject; it’s not as shocking as you’d think. Could you say it’s even de rigueur (mortis)?


Anyway, if you can get past that, Koster has written a mystery thriller full of hilarious satire, pop-culture references and characters that seem zany until you accept the novel’s setting in the Deep South, where “zany” means “eccentric” and “eccentric” means “normal Southern folks.”

Koster, as anyone who’s spent more than a little time south of the Mason-Dixon line, knows that one thing that fuels so-called “Southern Pride” is a sort of “whatever” attitude that doesn’t waste too much time worrying about social proprieties such as sex with the dead. Or corruption. Or murder. (Or even slavery, but that’s another story entirely.)

Koster writes in a fun, fast-paced, witty style that makes this story a true page-turner. Despite that groaner of a title, it’s a work that you’ll find a guilty pleasure.

Which, I guess, if you were banging a corpse, that too would be a guilty pleasure. But not in 29 states. Apparently, only 21 states forbid this forbidden love. Don’t go getting any ideas, you sickos.

POCA is available on Kindle. You should read it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Some hassles of relocating are relatively easy. You don't have to look too hard to find out where to get utilities or gasoline.

Some things are a little harder. It took us five different places before we found a really good pizza. Similarly, we've been to five different grocers, and I think we've settled on Stop & Shop as the "go-to" place. We wanted to go to Whole Paycheck Foods, but after finding out about their CEO John Mackey's lunatic Rand-ian viewpoints about a variety of things (chiefly the Affordable Care Act, climate change and unions), we've decided to pass. Besides, we can get organic stuff at Trader Joe's.

One thing I needed to find was a decent barber. There's a chain here called Hair Cuttery that I've seen a number of storefronts for, but the nearest one in Harvard Square is in Harvard Square. As in, forget driving to it.


My last cut was probably in September, or it could have been October. Either way, it's been a while. I have been feeling pretty damned shaggy. So I had to act.

Now, this sort of thing is taken for granted. You find a place you like to get a cut, and you go there. JUST there. Unless you get butchered, do you jump from place to place? Wouldn't that make you kind of a haircut slut?

When I was a kid, my uncle Ronnie used to cut my hair whenever I was back in his little forgotten hometown of Cordell, Okla. Cordell doesn't change. In 1930, the population was 2,936. In 2010, the population was 2,915. I have a lock of my hair from when Ronnie cut it when I was six; it's blond as blond can be. Ronnie got out of the haircut biz and moved to Vegas. Hard to believe he's been gone so long now.

Haircuts in the 60s were pretty simple: pretty much buzz it all. When I was really little I had a flattop. Those were actually kind of cool. When the 70s came along I didn't get my hair cut that much. It was the 70s! But I had a guy named Jimmy Deaton in Lake Highlands cut my hair for years. In my memory Jimmy was surely a cool hippie dude. He kind of looked like Wolfman Jack. Great guy.

In my 20s I had my hair cut by a woman named Gail, who was maybe 10 years older than me and who had two kids and a fun boyfriend. My then-significant other and I used to hang out with Gail, but after everyone broke up later there was some awkward chemistry developing and I had to find another haircut situation.

After that I became a haircut vagabond. My haircut thing during my settled married years is completely unremembered. That seems weird, to have no recollection. Perhaps there's some sort of psychological implication in that. Perhaps not.

When I landed in Gawd's Country I first got a haircut at one of those "Hooters as Haircutters" places. This is a whole 'nother topic... places that play upon the pathetic and impossible fantasies of the American male... dude, wake up. That waitress/haircutter/stripper ain't going home with you -- just your money.

I think I'm off-track...

So, I found a reliable place off the square. At first, my hair was cut by a bookish Asian smoker who went by the name of Tim. I didn't like that sometimes his fingers smelled smoky, or that sometimes his cuts were great and sometimes they were not good at all. Tim moved on and then Mary cut my hair. Mary was closer to my age, had a family and seemed very stable. She was a nice woman. And she did a decent job on my hair.

Some people my age have lost their hair. I should be grateful that my head still sprouts abundantly. But my hair is very fine, with almost no natural shape. It just... grows. It's got some grey in it now. Don't love that. But otherwise, I've just kind of had a general acceptance of my average hair. All I want is for it not to bug me. When it gets too long, it bugs me.


I couldn't take it any more. When my hair reaches critical overhairy mass, you can tell by the hat test. The hat test is when you put a hat on and your hair bulges out of the sides like a goddam Chia pet run amok.

The situation is particularly bad since it's gotten so cold here. You cannot sensibly travel around without a toque. This leads to inescapable hat hair. It's just, as Bailo would say, "annoying AF."

Monday we did a museum tour (more on that later on this channel). To get there we walked, bused and took two train lines. It was cold, and the temperature variance between crowded train and cold exterior made for sweathead. Ick.

So Tuesday I went for a cut. There was a little place near here that looked good. A real "mom and pop" feel to it, off a side street. I went.

After finding street parking, I entered the barber shop. A sign said it had been in business since 1929.

A young man was already in the chair. His girlfriend was selecting a magazine. It looked to be the usual variety: ridiculously out-of-date issues of Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, and the like. Pro Tip: Cull the magazines once every quarter at the least. No one wants to handle a sticky issue of People with Michael Jackson on the cover.

The small, tatted barber with a hipster lid and a white smock grunted something unintelligible toward me as I walked in. The conversation:

Barber: "Ungh hehh umb blafff."
Me: "Uh... I really need a haircut."
Barber, inflection indicating a question, or perhaps a lack of previous human interaction: "Merg glunny beng blem megett?"

Perplexed, I made the American Sign Language gesture for "haircut" by making a scissoring motion near my head and saying "Haircut?"

He possibly nodded toward the chairs where generic girlfriend was perhaps catching up on news of Mary-Kate and Ashley's clothing line. I sat, worriedly. I didn't have a great feeling about this.

And yet, there I sat. Everyone in the room seemed uncomfortable. Did they think I was Lemming of the B.D.A.?

Five minutes had elapsed and I had one hour of street parking. It was possible this experience was going to run beyond an hour.

I wanted out but because of the weird vibe, now I felt like just leaving would be awkward.

My genius idea: I texted M -- "call me asap"

The phone rang within a minute.

I answered and, being considerate, picked up my coat and went outside to carry on the conversation. Once outside, the ruse was over and I explained my cryptic text. Escape engage.


Later, I Yelped barber shops and found a highly rated place nearby. I went, it was done satisfactorily, and Taylor will now be my barber.

MORAL: Appreciate your hair care professional! Or, as they say, "Grenug agnat brentag kremmgrb." 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I know exactly no one here.

I've met the neighbors, who are nice folks. One guy next door, seems like a nice young man. A few people at the schools where I have worked.

But outside of that, no one that has yet led to developing some sort of social life here.

And I think it's wearing on me a little bit. I feel a little bit of cabin fever. And I'm not sure how to correct this problem.

Anyway, that's been a contributing factor to the lack of posts. I'm a little isolated right now and I'm trying to figure out how to adjust.