Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary...Hoping For More Than 9-Lives

Pontchartrain the kitty cat turns 2-years old today. Actually She's older than that, but her namesake (Pontchartrain Press) is age 2.

Pontchartrain was an abandoned, scared little kitten that I used to feed outside of the writing office in Mid City New Orleans.   

It was time well spent, as she provided an abundance of company and companionship through the course of time that it took to write my first book (which will be coming to this very website in April.)

I appreciated the fact that we both seemed to find ourselves at a challenging time in our respective lives and later felt it appropriate to tattoo her likeness on my inner arm a couple of years ago. Try explaining to the guys WHY a cat is tattooed on your least there's a cigarette dangling from her mouth.

As a side note, the original co-founder of Pontchartrain Press is an old writing buddy of mine, Dick Rosenthal. He wanted to name the company “Big Dick's Wayward Writing Shack.” I wonder what THAT tattoo would have looked like??

Anyway, little Pontch was later placed in a loving, happy home...or hit by a drunk driver.  I can't exactly recall.

On the eve of the anniversary, I sat down with two of my fellow writers, Todd and Marie, to do something that we haven't done together in a long time...remain sober.

Instead, we sat around the kitchen table until sunrise. Using nothing but pen, paper and the largest pile of loaded nachos that I've ever seen, we wrote the following anniversary column.

Because Marie is the most girly girl that you will ever meet...she brought chocolate cupcakes and candles to celebrate.

In case you're wondering, Todd's, and my, record remains soundly in tact in that we were unsuccessful in talking Marie into showing us her breasts.**
**There's always next year

As we blew out the candles on our (dry) cupcakes, Todd and Marie decided that this particular writing project should be a little different.

There would be strict parameters which would specifically challenge our individual writing styles. Something outside of our “norm” if you will.

And's how a random Monday overnight unfolded this week for three dysfunctional writers with a giant trough of nachos, a pan of dry cupcakes, no alcohol and a shared level of disdain for Mike, the editor:

First up, Marie.

Marie is a talented writer who holds a degree in Classic English Literature with an emphasis on the Victorian Era. She also holds an Art history degree (pronounced colossal waste of tuition money.)

Additionally, she possesses an endearing attitude in that she sees the very best in every person and every situation. Sort of like Oprah, only without the financial ability to award a bunch of poor people in a studio audience a new SUV.

Picture Charlotte from Sex and the City or the young, assistant librarian with dark framed glasses, vaguely reminiscent of the one from your senior year of high school. The one who worked late after school organizing the Dewey Decimal System index cards as you surreptitiously ogled from across the room while impatiently serving your 20th after-school detention sentence.

You pretend to be studiously scanning a pile of American history books that lay before you, only you're actually using the books to hide the fact that you're looking at boobie pictures of primitive women who reside in a remote tribe somewhere in central Africa as chronicled by the award winning magazine, National Geographic.

Desire fills a young man's head, imagining a day when the librarian slings her glasses against the pale yellow Formica counter top and rips open her low cut top, finally announcing that she's secretly had a crush on you all year.

She then tips over the 30-foot bookshelf, killing three obnoxious high school football jocks who used to bully you and, finally, makes sweet love to you on top of a pile of scattered books outlining the Underground Railroad and the end of slavery in the United States.**

**American Historical Note: The 13th amendment did not, unfortunately, outlaw inner-city gangs, payday loans or rent to own establishments.

We challenged Marie to use her poetic knowledge to craft a sonnet...only this one must be artistic AND sexual in nature. A literary piece of art as written from the perspective of a kinky backstreet hooker.

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz or a bottle of Crown Royal:

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire, the type of fire that burns within my loins:

I love you as one loves certain obscure things, such as the precise location of the Reverend Jesse Jackson's church, the secret ingredients in Kentucky Fried Chicken or the natural remedies for genital warts.

I love you secretly, between the shadow, the soul, a third sexual partner for an additional $100.00 and thong underwear.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries the light of a bouquet that I stole from the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express; I relentlessly beat you with them and strangle you with a Versace' belt as though you have stolen something from me.

Mine is a pure love, hidden, within itself. And thanks to your love the not so tight, slightly putrid aroma, with a hint of Mountain Fresh Fabreeze, rises from the earth and lives dimly in my body and lingers for years to herpes.

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love, thanks to a creepy uncle, habitual drug use and an after-school sexual experience with a high school volleyball coach, Ms. Campbell.

Except in this form in which I am not nor are you,so close that your hand upon my chest implants is mine,so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Not exactly a sonnet but absolutely beautiful Marie! Bravo!

Next up...ME.

Since it is a foregone conclusion at this table that I, typically, do NOT write anything remotely romantic, poignant or brief, Marie and Todd dropped a wager at my feet challenging me to craft a brief, insightful, socially acceptable personal wish for the upcoming year..

I have to do so in 90-seconds, using only 150 words!!!


Because Todd is mature, the wager was for a shot of Irish whiskey.

Here goes:

I wish what everyone wishes...for Anderson Cooper to finally reveal his sexual orientation.

To never miss an opportunity to live vicariously through the crystal clear panes of my front window, which happens to overlook one of the most beautiful corners in New Orleans.

To never take a compliment for granted; to always appreciate my friends and the encouragement that they often offer.

To say “I'm sorry” more often; to NOT do things which require an apology.

To stop being a damn fool...unless there's money involved.

To judge myself more than others.

To live like there's no tomorrow, appreciate tomorrow when it becomes today...rinse & repeat.

And now I wish for Todd to go to the corner convenience store and then the pub and bring me a pack of Reese's peanut butter cups and that shot of Irish whiskey before his mean wife demands that he come home immediately.

After a round of shots, we finally get to gang up on our old friend, Todd.  His is a seemingly simple writing challenge which Marie and I felt appropriate since he and Melissa's 7-year wedding anniversary is coming up next week.

We asked that Todd write a short love letter, no longer than one paragraph, describing everything that he loves about being married to sweet Melissa.

Ready, set...GO!

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Welcome To Fantasy Island

This is a little story that Mike, the editor, fears will cost him his 401k investments.  I assured him that inept legislation from the United States Congress and election year politics will take care of that long before a questionable writing of mine will.

Our little story centers around a friend of mine who’s recently begun dating a young, sexually adventurous, woman who he met at a neighborhood pub.  She's been badgering him nonstop to reveal his deepest sexual fantasies.

Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has some sort of dark sexual fantasy.  I also appreciate the fact that many people do not want to reveal them for fear of being judged.

It's important background information to know that my friend is rather conservative when it comes to talking explicitly about sex...much less his FANTASIES! 

Since the sex, as he revealed, is incredible, he felt that if he kept stalling, he would lose this woman (and the incredible sex).  Since he's a very close friend and co-worker, I offered to assist as a "ghost writer" so that he might finally satisfy her curiosity.

Well…I’m not very good at vividly describing my sexual fantasies because I’m not a writer.  I know what I like but I’m afraid that, after revealing my fantasy, you might find me to be boring.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm adventurous but I feel that I'm tame compared to most other people.  But, here goes. 

FIRST, I kill your cat and then throw you down on the bed and rip your clothes off with a box cutter.  Then I tie your arms and legs to the bedposts and force you to watch The People’s Court while I paint your toenails. 

While we’re waiting for your nails to dry, I go to the kitchen and prepare a box of Kraft Mac n Cheese.   

As we wait for the pasta to boil, you finally notice that my next door neighbor is bound and gagged in the corner with his dog. (I’ve also tied up the dog.)

Finally, the macaroni comes to a boil…only I don’t add the cheese.  Instead, I drain it and dump the scalding pasta down the front of my neighbor’s pants and kick his dog in the nuts.

 He screams in agony through the ball gag as the radio blares Michael Buble’s “I just haven’t met you yet” in the background.

Then, I trace every inch of your body with my lips; your mind reels.  Your physical senses drown deeply into unadulterated ecstasy. 

Even though my neighbor has passed out from clinical shock, you experience an immeasurable level of physical pleasure…and disgust.

My neighbor finally comes to and wonders if he might be an unwitting participant in a “snuff” film.  I calm him down by assuring him that I do not own a video camera.

FINALLY, we make sweet and slightly violent love.

You try to kiss me, only you can’t.  Primarily because I’ve stuffed a swifter dust mop replacement pad into your mouth.

Just as the dog and my neighbor begin to shit themselves, you succumb to sensory overload and begin to scream and writhe with mind blowing pleasure as I belt out a tune from Fiddler On The Roof.

We mutually reach our peak, releasing pure, sexual energy in an earth shattering burst. 

As our bodies explode in the spotlight of raw, primal delight, I spray you in the face with Lemon Fresh Windex and then roll over and watch Sports Center.

Whew!  Who ELSE needs a cigarette???

My buddy is no longer dating this woman and I feel that it's a direct result of him not opening up to her.  And, perhaps, for not sending the fantasy that I wrote on his behalf.

And, so, he's on the market again.

By the way, before anyone judges me for writing the above email, please know that it's NOT a personal fantasy of mine.  I would NEVER waste a Swifter replacement mop head.  

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2012


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Meeting Of The Mindless

I’ve never been a big fan of meetings.  I understand the necessity for meetings under certain, urgent circumstances.


Receptionist: Doctor Taylor's office
Seth:  Um, yeah, this is Seth Franklin.  I'm calling about my test results from Tuesday.

Receptionist: Oh, I see...yeah, Doctor Taylor wants you to come in immediately to chat about them in person.

Seth: What??  

In the professional world, I've found that most meetings simply spiral out of control into a gripe session/waste of time…much like Fox News’ Sean Hannity program.

Mike, the editor, LOVES meetings!

On a recent afternoon while I was doing important research into the reasons as to why NO ONE in my house seems to know how to fill an ice tray, Mike decided to call a meeting with our freelance writing group.

My friend, Todd, is in this group and shares my frustration with meetings.  He and I hold efficient writer meetings all the time.  This is to say that we discuss our notes for 5-minutes and spend the rest of the evening in the pub before Todd goes home to his angry wife, Melissa.

Behold…the power of the meeting:

To: Amanda, Todd, Marie and Jim
From: Mike Klein, Editor
Date: February 28th 2012

 Re: Reminders

It’s been a while since we’ve gone over some important housekeeping items, as evidenced by some of the writing that has been submitted recently.

Everyone, with the exception of Jim and Todd, has worked very well at meeting story treatment deadlines; especially Marie.

Deadlines are due on the first Tuesday of each month…NO exceptions!
It takes a considerable amount of time to edit and pitch your stories so you’re only hurting your writing integrity.

By the way Todd, I still haven’t seen a treatment for the Civil War Society magazine…it’s been 2-months!!!

Let’s all do an online conference at 2pm today and we can chat about these reminders.



And so, here’s what I like to call “40-minutes of my life that I will never get back.”

Mike: This won’t take long; I just wanted us to go over some things collectively as a group.  Any concerns to throw on the table before we begin?

Jim: Collectively and group mean the same thing.  Are you sure that you’re an editor? Xo

Mike: Very funny.  Hey Todd, what’s the timeline with the Civil War draft?

Todd: The draft for that war ended in 1864 I believe.

Jim: HahahahaHA!

Mike: You fully know what I mean Todd.

Todd: I thought I was fired.

Jim: I’ve tried that excuse before Todd…it doesn’t work.

Marie: I have a 3pm appointment so I may have to log off early.  BTW, I just emailed my latest drafts to you Mike.  I’m way early this month!

Jim: Ass kisser.

Mike: Thanks Marie.  From now on I’m going to need something in writing 2-weeks in advance asking for an extension and explaining why a deadline is going to be missed.

Jim: What if one is suffering from a bout of writer’s block so severe that writing a note informing that a deadline will be missed is impossible?

Mike: I think you can bang out a paragraph of explanation…even with writer’s block.

Jim: I’m not so sure.  Actually I sometimes suffer so badly that my private part doesn’t even work properly…which really annoys my lady friend.

Mike: Any more excuses?

Jim: What if I find myself in the unfortunate situation of going to the bank to make a deposit and I'm involved in a hostage situation, which happens to occur at noon on the first Tuesday of the month?  Does this waive the deadline request?

Amanda: Do I really need to be on this chat session?

Mike: Yes Amanda.

Todd: I’ve actually been working on that Civil War piece you asked about.  The lead character has detached from his military unit (the first African American Unit.)  

 He goes on a personal mission to make sure the son of a plantation owner is brought to justice after a racially-motivated murder.  

Anyway, it’s sort of a combination of Glory, Roots and Shaft.  I wanted to incorporate “Red Tails” but there were, of course, no airplanes in the Civil War.

Mike: Please tell me that you aren’t serious.

Jim: It’s better than incorporating the movie “Booty Call.”  Bravo Todd!

Marie: What if we introduce some sort of incentive system for writers who meet or beat the deadlines?  That might fix the problem.  Just a thought.

Jim: I bet you were the hall monitor in school, weren’t you?

Amanda: Seriously, do I need to be on this conference?

Mike: That’s an excellent suggestion Marie.  Maybe we can offer a restaurant gift certificate or basketball tickets?  Any other incentive prize suggestions?

Jim: A stripper cookout and a bottle of vodka.  We can do the party at Amanda’s place.

Mike: Can you contribute a serious statement to the meeting?

Jim: Amanda has an awesome pool…seriously.

Amanda: After the last pool party, you and Todd are still banned from the pool.

Marie: Ha! What happened?

Todd: I honestly thought cats could freakin’ swim!

Jim: How is little Pook the cat doing anyway Amanda?

Mike: Uh, guys, I’m trying to host a meeting here.

Amanda: How’s your love life doing Jim?

Todd: HAHAHAHA!  Now THAT’S cold!

Marie: LOL!

Jim: Laugh it up.  You know, Amanda, they say that lobbing sarcastic comments in the workplace is a form of sexual tension.

Amanda: Ha! Really now?

Jim: I can come by later tonight if you want to discuss your feelings more in depth.  Since I’m not suffering from writer’s block this week, my equipment is working at full capacity.

Marie: HAHA!  Don’t do it Amanda.  LOL!

Mike: Ok kids…back to the meeting.  Listen, bottom line is: I need for you to pay attention to formatting, deadlines, word counts and especially PUNCTUATION.  Any questions?

Marie: Nope

Todd: Got it.

Amanda: No questions here.

Jim: .....",,::;,…":;?&,.{ !!

Todd: I get it!!  Jim just did punctuation humor.  Brilliant!

Marie: You two are unbearable sometimes. 

Mike: Look, you all do very amazing work but I need for you to pay attention to details.  By the way, Jim, while I have you online, do you have your next draft ready and formatted?

Jim: You included an unnecessary modifier in front of the word “amazing.”  

Amanda: Word snob.
Jim: I DO have my latest draft ready.  I took liberties to write it in Japanese this timeAn abstract, artistic style so to speak.

Mike: Well…that certainly peaks my curiosity.  Would you like to share a sample with the group?

Jim: “Me love you long time…uh, suckie suckie?”


Jim: Oh NOOOOOOO!!!  Godzirra!!!!

Marie: User has logged off

Amanda: User has logged off

Mike: Ummm…is anyone still here?

Todd: I'm here

Jim: マイクは吸います

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2012