Many of the non-fiction pieces I have written over the last several years were housed at—a writer’s site that has since shut down. I have begun the process of re-posting some of those articles here. They will show up in the category of non-fiction and will be tagged as necessary. The articles range in topics from book/story reviews to effective use of satire and multiple points in between.

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Review: Semper Idem, by Jack London

You can read Jack London’s Semper Idem here.

Semper Idem is a ghastly tale of horror. It is made so, not by running rivers of blood and gore, but by the overt apathy of the protagonist, Doctor Bicknell and his disdain for the people he treats.

Personally speaking, there appears to be no redeeming quality to this story. It is, in form, a nightmare related in varying shades of grays and black utterly devoid of splashes of color, possessing neither humor, nor emotion, save for the understated fretting of a minor character.

The underlying premise to this dark creation appears to be a purposefully sterile approach to the observation of a god complex. Doctor Bicknell, because of his surgical skill, believes he can cheat death out of a soul in even the most dire of cases. Names do not matter. Patient interaction is, for him, a distraction. Only the severity of their injuries coupled with the improbability of their recovery interest him. The higher the percentage chance of the patient reaching the end of their mortality, the more the good doctor is engaged.

Semper Idem is the name given by the hospital staff where the doctor practices to an otherwise unidentified patient. The man, an attempted suicide, was found with no identification and brought to the hospital with his throat sliced open “from ear to ear”.

Even after Doctor Bicknell had performed the miraculous surgery to repair his gaping wound and the man had begun his convalescence, he refuses to identify himself or to utter even a single word.

His name, as chosen by the hospital staff, is a reference to the only piece of evidence related to his case: a photograph of a woman, found in the apartment where he had attempted to dispatch himself forever into the spirit world. The photograph bore a handwritten note that read “Semper idem; semper fdelis”—a phrase from Latin that roughly translates to “always the same; always faithful”. No other clue or hint of the man’s identity or profession was ever located.

On first read, this story was less than appealing. However, after a second read, and a realization of the extent of the god complex possessed by the doctor and London’s treatment of it from the standpoint of an uninvolved observer, offering neither praise nor criticism of it, the story craft is easy to appreciate. It would be too easy to allow unrestrained emotion at the doctor’s callous treatment of people to influence the direction of this tale. London does none of that. The cold, clinical, sterile description does well to carry this story to its end.

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Many Thanks to John Ecko…

For his outstanding contribution to the Inn Situ stories I’m working on. John has presented a rather unique character sketch of one of the frequent visitors to the Inn, Kenny Marano. Kenny makes appearances in many of the stories in Volume I and John has done a masterful job of capturing his essence. John is a true artist with words

Clicking the image will take you to John’s piece at the Inn:

A small sample of John’s work… and you thought I was exaggerating when I used the term artist.

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This will be the last post I make. I can no longer countenance the duplicity; no longer stomach the deception. I can no longer force myself to be content given the current status quo. The rules have changed once again and I am left impotent with this latest course shift.

I have enjoyed participating in this forum and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to share a small part of the knowledge I have gained and more grateful still for the people I have met here. Those people run the gamut from friends, to some I would not care to spend five minutes with. Each of you probably know who and which you are.

Those of you who have read this forum regularly know that I have always been straight up. I have always endeavored to present you with facts and with the resources to research for yourself. Thus far, no one has proved me wrong.

Many have tried. There have been threats of bodily harm. There has been an incessant stream of name calling and spewing of hatred and vitriol. There have been allusions to me being insane and a nut job, and outright attempts to present me so. But no one has managed to disprove my assertions, or to offer any proof to the contrary of what I say.

The Watchers have invariably resorted to throwing out “Conspiracy Theorist” as a derisive, discussion ending appellation. The stigma attached to that particular name generally tends to cause most individuals to react as if someone has just shouted “Plague!” However, there are some of you – few at first, but a growing number over time – that have said “wait a minute. What he’s saying makes sense. And he’s the only one with facts to back up his claims. Maybe he is right.”

And, as I have pointed out multiple times and frequently attempted to prove, not all conspiracy theories are wrong. You can read some of my long standing posts in this thread and trace their validity through the information I have provided.

I have been on the inside. I have seen the extent to which this cancer has permeated our government and its agencies, and how it has spread to other governments around the world. I have seen, first hand, the conspiracy part of this conspiracy theory and on this forum have attempted to illuminate for you just how and where this shadow moves.

It has now become too dangerous for me to continue to do so on any regular basis and in any kind of detail. The line has been drawn and I dare not cross it. My friend, Condon was threatened last night. I know many of you have met him here and know the satirical reference of his user name. They cannot get me, but I will not risk the life of my friend.

However, to those of you who have supported me in this endeavor, I must, first of all, offer you my thanks. I am humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement I have received. And, more importantly, I must warn you. The Watchers know who you are. They probably already know more about you than you might think possible. By expressing affirmation with anything I have said here, hell, maybe even just by your participation in this forum alone, you have been marked.

Everything you do on your computer is logged. Every time you connect to the Internet, every page you visit is logged. I cannot stress this enough. They are watching! Your association with me, even though we have never met, is a red flag. Any comments you make, any visits to my website are red flags. God help you if you sent any monetary support to me through the website. Multiple red flags.

I know; I know. As always, the doubters and naysayers are ready to begin the inquisition.

“Why can they not get you?”

“Why would they allow you the ability to tell us this, if any of it were true and if they were real?”

“Can you prove those threats against Condon?”

My answers are thus:

a) Because I have certain safeguards in place. A particular computer, its location known only to me, sits and waits, looking for a mention and a confirmation of my death. A little scripting trick I learned while employed by Uncle Sam.

b) They don’t expect you, or at least enough of you to matter to believe me.

c) Unfortunately, this is the one piece of information over my last few months here that I can offer no proof on, for to do so would endanger the life of my friend.

Now the time has come for me to depart; hopefully for only a short while. But, know this. By the time the Watchers read this, I will have a significant head start. You see, this message is being posted automatically from my kid’s computer after a remote call from a specific computer at the library. Well, sort of. It is a bit more convoluted than that, but I don’t want to give away too many of the specifics.

Know this, as well. If I should die from anything other than old age then my secreted computer will go to work and all that I know shall be made known as well.

Goodbye for now, my friends. And remember. If you have a strange feeling you’re being watched, you’re right.

by: Avenger 12:00:07 01 Jan 2010


To those of you who have been reading and following the complete fabrications, the utter fantasies of the deranged individual calling himself Avenger: his parents computer was bought at a government surplus sale. He ain’t so smart after all.

by: Avenger’s Mom 12:02:53 01 Jan 2010

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Made a change to the site menu. I had the Inn Situ stories linked under fantasy. Though somewhat difficult to categorize because of the nature of the project, I can say with certainty that fantasy is not the correct genre to lump Inn Situ under. For the moment, Dark Tales appear to be the best container, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that the Inn Situ stories eventually outgrow even that basket.

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As Scheduled

Gary looked again at the scheduler on his computer monitor. It seemed he had been looking at it for 10 minutes now. It had not changed. They were still the same scheduled appointments for this afternoon as they had been earlier this morning. He knew that and preferred it that way. He made sure that Linda, his assistant kept it that way. Interruptions and changes to his schedule were two things he despised.

Gary was a stickler for details. He planned for every contingency he could think of. His wife—ex-wife as of a week ago, he reminded himself—accused him of having to know the color of the toilet paper before buying tickets on an airline. Though not quite that bad, he knew there was some truth to those sentiments. He liked to be prepared.

His compulsive preparation and attention to all the details had served him well. He had rapidly moved up through the ranks at Digital World, “You. Connected”. His mind automatically added the company’s slogan to the name whether he wanted it to or not.

In just a few short years he had been promoted from part time sales associate (clerk, he thought derisively) to store manager and finally, district manager just last month. There had been brief stops along the way as floor lead, department head and three or four other titles he could no longer remember. His first wife had left him somewhere between his move to full time and his promotion to department head.

That’s two in ten years, he thought.

“Well, at least I’m batting 1000%. Beat that Ted Williams,” he said to the mirror, adding a final adjustment to the tie at his neck.

He hated Mondays. In the early days of his management career Monday’s were “Moanin’ Days”. Once a month on a Monday, before heading to his office he would point to an employee, seemingly at random.

“You’re fired.”

Of course, they had never been at random. He was always prepared. He always had numbers and reasons to back up his actions if it ever came to that. He was never asked for his reasons. Along the way he had out gunned, out guessed, out manuevered and out sold all his competition. He was good. He knew it and the company knew it.

Each new promotion, each new title, brought an upswing in luxury vehicles, bigger alimony checks, more expensive suits and better scotch. This last one included an ulcer. More stress, more unproductive meetings to attend. His blood pressure had gone up even though the numbers from his three stores had not.

His job and his enjoyment had also changed with this latest promotion. A position he had coveted, true, but it left him no time to sell anything. Instead he made buying decisions, scheduling decisions. Hiring, firing, meeting decisions. He had recently developed a hatred for flying. Ride the Super Shuttle. Stand in line. Wait. Fly with idiots! The whole rental car, hotel room, living out of a suitcase life was killing him. He had taken two cross country trips a week for the last four weeks for further district manager training. Some over-promoted jackass had decided that Tuesday and Saturday were good training days for the new district managers. Idiot!

This morning had been the worst he could remember in years. He had the kids this week, which meant the added hassle of getting two teenagers up in the morning, constantly reminding them to hurry so he could drop them off on his way into work. Today, not only had the dog shit on the floor but his daughter, a senior in high school who damn well ought to know better, had forgotten a notebook. The result? Having to turn around, search through the mess in her bedroom to locate the errant notebook. After finding it, he drove back to the school and had to stand in line at the office waiting for the secretary to get off the goddamn phone long enough to find out who he was delivering the notebook for. And why the hell did they need a goddamn student ID number?

He had wanted to shout “Just look up the name on the fucking computer and call her to come get the goddamned notebook! Lady, do I have to think for you, too?”

Somehow, he managed to spill his coffee in his lap on the way into work. His first scheduled appointment of the day had been a new hire that didn’t know shit from shinola about selling anything. The kid had looked like he hadn’t had a haircut in six months and obviously had never worn a tie.

“Get the hell out of my office,” Gary had said. “Go tell the store manager that hired you that I don’t think you’re qualifed to work here. Never mind. I’ll tell him. Get the hell out of my office.”

Now, here he was, ten minutes before his first appointment of the afternoon after a lunch that for some reason didn’t taste right. The scheduler showed six more interviews to get through before he had to leave for the day. Then there was a little league baseball game to attend for his son. After that, according to the scheduler, his oldest daughter and her idiot, no-good-for-nothing, north-end-of-a-south-going-jackass of a husband were meeting he and the other two kids for a late dinner.

An incessant, insistent light blinked on and off on the phone on his desk, an obvious indication there was a call waiting for him.

He jabbed a finger at the “Answer” button more to stop the flashing light than to answer the call.

“Reynolds”, he spat into speaker phone.

“This is Mr. Barnes’s office,” a bitchy voice answered from the echoing speaker. “Let me remind you that Mr. Barnes does not like speaker phones, Mr.Reynolds.”

Gary retrieved the handset and placed it at his ear.

“Yes, sir. Well, the numbers obviously aren’t where I’d like them to be.”

“Yes, sir. Saturday of this week is already scheduled for more training. I’ll be flying out Friday evening, sir.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll see you then.” He placed the receiver back on the cradle, making sure it was seated correctly and that the connection had been severed.

“Goddamn stupid asshole bosses! Can’t they understand I am doing the fuckin’ best that I can here?”

“‘Your numbers are down from last year'”, he says. Well no shitake mushroom Sherlock Holmes! We’ve got a recession on our hands here, bucko. Or didn’t you notice that in your cushy office with your guaranteed salary and nothing to do all day but sit on your ass on the phone hasselin’ us little guys?

He punched another button on the phone.

“Linda, I’m going downstairs for a cup of coffee. If the one o’clock shows up, tell him or her—or it— to just be patient and wait.”

He logged out without waiting for her response.

When he returned the scheduler still said ten minutes until 1:00. Impossible. Must’ve hung. Click.


Click. Click. clickclickclickclickclikclickclick. Dammit! Close. Clickclick.

Still the scheduler was opened. He looked for an open dialogue box, just to make sure he wasn’t missing something. Must be the whole machine has locked up. Time to reboot.


Thump! A body—his body—crashed back on the table as he watched, detached; floating; panic beginning to corrupt his senses.

“I’m calling it,” said a voice he didn’t recognize. “It’s been almost ten minutes. Mark it at 12:50 p.m., today’s date. Some of them just can’t be saved. Well, folks, Im outta here. Golf game scheduled in less than an hour.”

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Shades of Home

This is one of the stories that can be found in my Inn Situ collection of short stories. It was originally inspired by a photograph posted by a friend of mine online at

Jenny Lynn was seven. Her older sister, Dot was nine. They had been at the Shades of Home orphanage for almost two years. Ever since their mom had died after a loud, long fight with Rick, her boyfriend, and a brief search for their father had provided less evidence of his existence than the two visits she could remember, she and Dot had lived in the orphanage with eight to ten other girls. And Mrs. Kern.

Mrs. Kern, a forty-something year old whore ran the orphanage. Jenny had no idea what a whore was, but she had heard the name, and the disdain associated with it, from some of the older girls, and once even from Dot. If Dot said it was so, then so it must be.

Maybe it had something to do with Mrs. Kern’s age, Jenny had reasoned. Forty sounded impossibly old. Maybe whore was another way of saying someone was old.

Tonight was the last night the girls would spend together in their room. Dot was turning ten tomorrow, and the older girls for some reason, unfathomable to Dot and Jenny, were kept separate from the younger ones. Not that they wouldn’t see each other, but house rules mandated changes in their living arrangements.

Until now, days had been mostly bearable. There was usually enough activity, enough chores to keep her mind off missing her mom. There was always school, or the vegetables to tend to, or yardwork or housework or homework that needed doing. Frequently there would be visitors from town that made the trek out to the orphanage and they needed to be waited on and entertained as the guests that they were. Jenny assumed that they must be important men; they always smelled of after shave and wore nice clothes. Not always a Sunday suit, but nice.

Ravenous beasts haunted her dreams. Not dreams—nightmares. The beasts looked like wolves and roared like dragons. They spent her sleep devouring thoughts of happiness, memories of laughter, gnawing her soul away bit by bit each night. They were nowhere to be seen when she woke in the morning, but that did not make their presence during the night any less real, nor did it do anything to alleviate her trembling each night when "lights out" was called.

The nurse, Judy, had explained on more than one occasion that she thought Jenny Lynn was just missing her mom, and that she should begin to be less bothered by these nightmares as time continued to pass. That’s what the nurse said, but the nightmares kept coming. Jenny eventually quit complaining to Nurse Judy about them at all which made for everyone involved having a greater share of happiness. Not that they were actually happy; it just meant that the nurse was convinced her assessment was right, and Jenny didn’t have to sit through the ordeal of explaining her nightmares again.

The house was a large, two story structure set back from the road and standing just in front of where the wind whispered constantly through a small grove of trees, vibrant silver maples and stout oaks. The trees were fed by the waters of the Old Gray River that meandered through the grounds of the orphanage on its way further East to points unknown. There was a small clearing just where the river began a gradual bend through the soft ground and just before it snaked its way back close to the original course.

Dot and Jenny had visited the clearing often since coming to the Shades. Dot liked the solitude it offered and the retreat from the normal hectic activity of the household. Jenny was not at all fond of the place. The wind blowing through the trees sounded ominous to her and she was forever looking over her shoulder, feeling that they were being watched by eyes unseen.

Lights out was called far too soon for the two girls on this night, each knowing that tomorrow would bring difficult changes and that they would no longer be allowed to share as much time together as they had become accustomed to. Jenny said goodnight and climbed into bed trying not to cry. Her nightmares that night were the worst they had been in months. She saw herself in the clearing, kneeling down at the river’s edge. The howling and the roaring of the beasts frightened her more than ever, but she could not compell herself to get up and run.

In those nebulous, ghostly visions of her sleeping mind, she could see a figure standing behind her, but she could not discern who it was. When she awoke in the morning, far earlier than usual, her legs ached as if she had been running for hours. Her voice was scratchy and hoarse. Her throat ached, reminding her of when her mom had died and she had cried non-stop for two days. The palms of her hands were imprinted with the marks of her nails digging into the flesh from incessant clenching of her fists. She heard murmured voices in the hall mentioning something about calling the sheriff and dragged herself out of bed to investigate.

The conversation abruptly ceased when she opened the door. She glanced over at Dot’s bed to see if she was still sleeping. Dot’s bed was empty and Jenny knew instantly that something terrible had happened.

Late that night, long after lights out was called, Jenny heard the sheriff pay a visit to Mrs. Kern at the orphanage. She knew it was him because she heard the chatter of his police radio before he remembered to turn it down to keep from waking the girls. He left the next morning, apparently satisfied with his investigation, because no further inquiries were ever made into the drowning death in the middle of the night of yet one more little girl. Jenny lay in her bed, unable to stop the tears, knowing that from that day forward, the river was haunted by another shade.

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Insomniac Dream Relaunch

I have finally managed to get Insomniac Dream mostly ported over to this network install of WordPress. The site is up and running at Insomniac Dream. Primary fare is satire on subjects ranging from politics to science and technology. Some of the articles you can find there include:

Thanks for visiting.

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Random Chance

I saw them today in just a brief glance out the window. It was early; the sun had only moments before thrust its fiery head above the mountains holding up the sky in the East. Its feeble light was not yet enough to extinguish the street lights. I am not even sure the birds were awake and awing. I was on my way to work, driving in normal morning rush hour, sipping my coffee and swearing at the guy in front of me for stopping for no good reason. They were on their way to… somewhere. I wish I had been able to ask them where. Or maybe where they had been and where they were coming from.

It was just that quick, and they were gone, most likely for me to never lay eyes on again. But the questions have never disappeared. What about… and What did you… and What would you… A jumbled, tangled, monstrous montage of questions. Questions that I will never know the answers to because they will never be asked.

No one else on the road today even saw them, of that I’m certain. Mundane, routine, non-event happenings and recurrences prevented them from seeing what I saw. Most days, I would have missed it, too. I’m not sure why that wasn’t the case this morning. I am currently on a crash course with fifty. Thoughts of that impending birthday and the entire history preceding that event may have been the catalyst for my eyes to wander in their direction in the first place.

I am not sure if it is a good or a bad omen, noticing things that normally go unnoticed. The possibility exists—always exists—of the “Nothing” as a poet friend of mine terms it. It could be nothing but sheer coincidence or random chance possessing no greater or lesser significance in the overall scheme of life than a bird flying over head, or a kite chasing the wind. But today, the Nothing sounds like a continuation of the current and more, a tarnish on that moment.

My first thought was, I wish my friend was here. He could tell their story so much better than I with his words of love and companionship, of heartache and dreams, of illness and steadfastness. His picturesque descriptions, his ability to see into the heart of things and extract that which is vital, to create that verve of life, his touching of the nerve of empathy make him so much more qualified than I to have observed this.

While I am left with naught but questions for an elderly couple walking slowly uphill on the sidewalk, hand in hand. I wish I had been able to ask them all those questions.

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Command and Control

Food, as everything else was in short supply. All, it seemed, except for misfortune and misery. The hydroponic gardens were failing. Water recirc units were running at half capacity. Air scrubbers had been under constant repair for the last year. Rumors of sabotage began to surface among the crew.

Captain Morrow contemplated the issues at hand from his command chair on the bridge. The voyage had been long—over four years, yet they were only two-thirds of the way to their destination; Enceladus, the enigmatic moon of Saturn.

At the present rate of failures, they would all be dead before reaching the end of their journey. The spaceship, flown mostly by computers, would arrive, park in orbit and initiate surveillance of the surface. It would transmit all of it’s data back to Earth for the scientists there to ruminate on. The computers would perform their preprogrammed duties until the engines on the lifeless hulk failed and the most expensive manned space mission in history ended in a rapid descent and an unobserved crash of destruction.

Their voyage was historic. After decades of little activity in space apart from the routine Lunar ‘roundabouts’ and a single, manned foray to Mars, space exploration had been non-existent. Morrow and his crew had been selected to make the first manned expedition to the Saturnian system.

Robotic missions would have been able to gather as much or more useful information, but NASA, in attempts to rekindle interest and reassert its authority as the world’s preeminent space exploration agency had decided on a manned mission. The captain had pushed for more redundancy on the systems but his requests had been denied due to launch window time frames and budget constraints.

The mission had started well enough; nothing of import during launch or refueling at the LEO fueling point. The problems had begun at aphelion. Radio communication had been randomly inadvertent. The nav-computer now required frequent calibration to keep them headed in the proper direction. Environmental controls appeared to be temperamental at best. The captain, as he was trained to, became a constant force, a visible manifestation of command. He issued orders, demanded system checks, wanted to know what the hell was wrong with his ship. Answers were scarce and incomplete. The whispers of sabotage grew more frequent.

Morrow, now deep in the throes of madness, plotted his next move and, more importantly, how he would avoid detection.

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