Thursday, February 4, 2016

This Book is Now a NOOK!
Please check it out!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Dear Guy,
Your blog has been inactive for about three months so I was wondering if you had died. If or when you do die, may I have your Lazy-Boy recliner? I would move it out of your place myself.
Concerned in Corvallis

Dear Concerned,
I'm not dead. I've been engaged in some top-secret international espionage, which I'm not allowed to tell anybody about. It was in Mexico.
My assignment had to do with tracking the infamous El Chapo, one of the scariest people on earth. In many ways, we each have our own personal El Chapo. For some, a personal El Chapo may be shyness, or hoarding sugar packets, or singing off-key. For many people in Northern Mexico, their personal El Chapo is a drug kingpin who decapitates thousands of innocent people.
It was that last one whom I was sent to locate, and I got a break when Sean Penn and a Mexican starlet were invited to El Chapo's hidden lair. I followed with a hundred pinatas, which I strung above the enclosure as a gift to the great man. The starlet was so sexy she could give cardiac arrest to an armadillo. El Chapo had hopes of wooing her. Fat chance, Gordo.
I'm not allowed to tell you how it turned out, except that we caught our man.
As for the Lazy-Boy, it's already claimed by a friend who often gives me mushrooms he's picked in the local forest.
Hasta la vista, amigo,

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Dear Guy,
I've been reading Wallace Stegner's Wolf Willow, an autobiography tracing paths of his early life near Whitemud, Saskatchewan, Canada. It's a story about the landscape and history of the opening of the West. Do you know if Stegner ever asked his students (Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Ken Kesey, Sandra Day O'Connor and others) this question: "If a chicken-and-a-half lays an egg-and-a-half in a day-and-a-half, how many eggs will nine chickens lay in ten days?"
And what if he did: would you?
Joe Yak from East of Tomales

Dear Joe,
It was actually Stegner's student (Ken Kesey) who posed this question to another of the students you mention (Sandra Day O'Connor) to determine whether or not she could board the Magic Bus called Further. Her answer not only allowed her to ride the bus but has since been cited as a defining moment in Westward Expansion. Coincidentally, the bus driver (Neal Cassady) was asked by Kesey why he married a chicken, and Cassady replied, "Because I had to."
Would I? I think I'll brood on that for a while.

"Spell-binding! The Jaguar Tree is a splendid novel!"
Ernest Hemingway*

*(Probation officer, Bakersfield, CA)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Dear Guy of Mystery,
One of my favorite authors is Joel Chandler Harris. Although I haven't actually read anything he wrote, I love the Uncle Remus stories. I guess they inspired Walt Disney's Song of the South. Imagine how pleased I was to hear Speaker of the House John Boehner singing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah as he addressed the nation to resign from his post! Is Boehner African-American? Has he played Uncle Remus in a theatrical production? I think he rocks! Does this have anything to do with his meeting the Pope?
Willy Nilly, Willamina, Oregon

Dear Willy Nilly,
Pope Francis must have influenced the Speaker in his resignation since Boehner kept weeping and confessing his many sins during their meeting. To my knowledge, he has never played Uncle Remus, although he and Mitch McConnell are said to have modeled their congressional careers after Brer Bear and Brer Fox. Song of the South paints a very jolly picture of the lives of Southern Blacks throughout the hundred or so happy years leading up to the early 1950s, and it's puzzling that Zip-a-dee-doo-dah never became as popular as, say, We Shall Overcome, during the Civil Rights movement. It's so catchy, and "Brer Boehner" sings it with panache.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Hi, Guy,

Have you ever written a humorous essay about dental insurance? I ask because about 6000 Americans turn 65 every day of the year. Of those who retire only 33% continue to receive health benefits from their employer, and 75% of those do not get dental insurance.
Not funny, or what's the deal? Dental insurance is a rip-off, and it isn't really insurance at all. It's dollar trading.
Here's the deal. Most dental plans are capped at amounts slightly in excess of their annual premiums. For me the premium would amount to about $1500 for which I'd get a couple of cleanings. It would also cover partial payment toward restorative care and limited lifetime orthodontics, which I don't need.
Without a catastrophic benefit? Hel-lo-o, smash mouth. Catastrophic benefits are a key element of "true (real) insurance" plans.
Why pay a $1500 annual premium to get $350 worth of maintenance service when you can just pay cash for cleaning and spend the balance on green fees and beer with your golf buddies and get an earlier tee time than you know who?
Most health insurance plans cover serious accidental (catastrophic) injury to your natural teeth and also many of the more serious conditions that threaten healthy teeth and vision. What health insurance plans do not cover is routine dental maintenance services and hardware (rubber dams, veneer, whitening, mouth shellac, etc.).
I say you're than man who knows how to write about scandalous stuff and make it seem humorous. Bonus question: Candidate Donny Bob Trump is busting Carly Fiorina's chops about her face being "unelectable." What do you think, and is it covered by dental insurance?
Joe from East of Tomales (a man of simple requirements)

Dear Joe of East Tomales,

First of all, you don't really need teeth to eat tamales. Also, I don't personally find anything amusing about teeth, unless you have the wind-up kind for dentures. That always makes me titter. In my current dental plan, actually fixing teeth is considered "cosmetic" (like hair implants or a nose job). It's up to me as an independent American if I want to look good, and I accept that. My dentist gave me a coupon for a discount on a blender, so when I come home with that burger and fries I just drop them into the Osterizer and drink them. Voila! (I think the food processor is actually my catastrophic plan). I have absolute faith in the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies always looking out for us, and I'm sure that they'd like to get those early tee times as much as we would. Corporations are people, too, and they enjoy a beer and a laugh as much as the next guy.
And speaking of laughs and wags, Donald Trump's dry sense of humor, and his comment about Fiorina's looks, was just an indication of how perfect he would be communicating with other heads of state. Let's face it, Trump is the voice of the American right wing, and those who don't get his subtle, droll message are just dumb and ugly and stupid.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Dear International Guy,
I'm confused because I heard from a friend in Des Moines that Donald Trump has won the Iowa Caucus, but I thought it hadn't happened yet. Am I right, or is he right?
Phil from Philomath, Oregon

Dear Phil,
I'd like to clear the air about this rumor: Trump won the Iowa Flatus (not Caucus) at the state fair this summer, an annual contest that follows pie-eating and swine judging. He blasted all competition in every category (auditory, olfactory, etc.), though many of his competitors are crying foul. Former winner Tommy "Toots" Thompson complained that nobody (judges, media, public) can tell the difference between Trump's speech and flatulence, so the competitors "didn't stand the chance of a fart in a tornado." Trump trumpeted back: "I'm probably a better person than you are."
I'd say you can't argue with success,can you?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"This Book is Selling Like Hotcakes!"
Jalal ad Din Rumi

Ask An International Guy of Mystery

Dear International Guy,
I've been a fan of yours for some time, and I know I'm not alone in appreciating your work, but I'm confused by some of the reviews I've seen posted online. Your three novels have received glowing responses from well-known writers, as I'm sure they must deserve, but it seems to me that the books were published after these reviewers had died. At the risk of sounding skeptical, can you explain to me how your books got such accolades from Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, and Mahatma Gandhi?
Nan from Neskowin, Oregon

Dear Nan,
In one word: posthumously.
It's fairly common in publishing.
You have a great day,