Saturday, December 31, 2005

Welcome to my Nightmare

When I was a boy, maybe six years old, I dreamed there was a head under my bed. The head wasn't doing much. It just sat there in the dark, with the dirty socks and dust bunnies, and spoke to me whenever I passed.
In the dream, nobody believed it when I told them there was a head under my bed. Later, my babysitter came into my room (her name was Mrs. Gilbert and she had dyed black hair and bright red lipstick), and leaned under the bed to look. The head under the bed stole the head of Mrs. Gilbert and then it went on babbling from down there in the dark.
I wrote a story about the dream years later. In a fit of creativity, I titled it: "The Head Under the Bed." I don't know where I come up with this stuff.
When I was a teen, around the time I started drinking, smoking and doing that other great teen stuff, I had a dream about a nun. I had been swimming at Rice's Rips in Waterville and drifted too close to the waterfall. There's a 30 foot drop there and I plunged over it to the rocks below. When I opened my eyes, badly injured from the fall, a nun was standing in the water 30 feet above me. She was smiling wickedly and beckoning me forth with her hand. It was a horrifying site and in that moment, I knew I was dreaming but could not wake up. I struggled against the dream for what felt like days (it was in fact, more likely seconds) until I managed to force my eyes open with Herculean effort. The dream haunted me the rest of the day and I feared sleep for nights after.
Nightmares are crazy. So horrifying and crippling, they are also intensely personal. Try explaining one to another person and you sound like a child describing a comical boogey that lives in the closet. Bad dreams cannot be precisely recreated in the real world.
It would take a very long time for me to jot down the bad dreams I've had. There was one where I came into possession of a weird pair of glasses that afforded me a view into hell. There was another stunner where I walked passed a cemetery and heard the voices of the dead in my head. Both of those later became works of fiction, but again: bad dreams lose the true impact of their fangs and claws in the light of consciousness. Which by all reasoning is a good thing.
This morning, I'm up uncharacteristically early because I snapped awake at 6:34 a.m., chilled and near paralyzed by a nightmare. I stumbled from bed and came out here to write about it. By the time I was done, 2,000 words were on the page and it's a nail-biter. What are the chances this will morph into my next novel? Ask me in eight weeks.
With all of this morbid rambling in mind, the topic for today is bad dreams. Lay down on the couch and tell me all about them. I'm here for you. I can help. And if I can't, at least I can steal your thoughts and write stories about of them.
Happy New Year, freaks.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The King of cool

So, it was four in the morning and I found myself deeply engrossed in an episode of Happy Days. I don't recall what was happening, exactly. Some poorly dressed goons were after Ritchie and it looked like the wholesome lad was about to get his ass kicked. And then, in a dramatic turn of events involving the gum snapping thugs the regulars at Arnolds, Fonzie stepped in to save the day in some fashion that had nothing to do with fighting skills or finesse. It involved some cheesy lines and then Fonzie was combing his hair.

It was then, staring numbly at the screen as the studio audience launched into applause, that the ugly truth presented itself. When you get right down to it, Fonzie wasn't cool.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking it's sacrilege to say such a thing and I should be banished to the land of Laverne & Shirley. But come on, people. Try to think back. Fonzie was the guy who wore that leather coat at the beach and that's not to mention the socks. Fonzie was the guy who tried real hard to talk with those tough, Italian inflections but sounded more like he was suffering a mental disturbance. Fonzie spent his entire day playing with a jukebox or hanging out on Mrs. C's couch. Fonzie carried a comb in his back pocket and said: "ayyyyyyy" when he got his hair parted just right.

These days, people who do these things are not feared and lionized. Especially in the men's room. Somehow, Fonzie became the epitomal face of cool and we've all just accepted it. All these years we've accepted it and it's just plain wrong.
As usual, it falls to me to right this decades old error.

So, I got around to pondering who the real cool guys are, from the real world or the world of make believe. And when I get around to pondering, I basically just hound everyone I see until I get an answer. The answers were predictable but not quite right:

James Dean? Sure the girls loved him and he died young, which is kind of cool for a Hollywood icon. But he always played spleeny teenagers and he couldn't drive a cool car.

Elvis Presley? Big argument to be made there. But with all his stardom, with all his great music and that really bitching sneer, Elvis died on the toilet. The rules of coolness forbid that specifically.

Clint Eastwood blew it by doing "Bridges of Madison County." Marlon Brandon blew it in various ways. Modern sports stars are disqualified because they have overblown salaries and no sense of loyalty. I was ruled out early on.

So after subjecting the quandary to scientific experimentation and rigid tests, I came up with an unassailable conclusion: The paragon of cool is Stephen King. Hands down. He's the rock 'n roll star of the literary world. He's absolutely dominated his field for three decades. He is adored by men and women, young and old.

Normally smug publishers and hotshot movie producers fawn over him. "Yes sir, Mr. King. Whatever you'd like, Mr. King." He jams with a band just for kicks, as if terrorizing the world isn't enough. Best of all, King plays God and gets paid hugely for it. He creates worlds populated by characters who have no choice but to do his bidding. Cool characters, sad characters. Elegant convicts and clowns that swallow children whole. King wiped out 99 percent of the world's population and sprung vampires on Maine. Kinda makes Fonzie's trick with the jukebox kinda weenie, doesn't it?

You may argue all you want and suggest your own champions of cool. But I expect you to adjust your posters and lunch boxes accordingly. Out with Fonzie, in with King.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pretty in Pink

Saturday, December 17,2005

Reporter Mark LaFlamme has his first novel published, "The Pink Room."

LEWISTON - Writer Mark LaFlamme sat on the couch of his home office and fidgeted beneath a poster of "Night of the Living Dead."

"You're going to out me, aren't you?" he asked, perched on the edge of his seat.

The veteran Sun Journal reporter wants people to know about his first published novel, a horror story titled "The Pink Room." That's why he agreed to the interview.

He doesn't want people to know his age.

"I've been lying about my age since I was 27," he said. His knees bounced in place. His eyes scanned the familiar room, as if searching for a place to hide.

"I didn't realize how hard this was," LaFlamme said of his first interview as subject rather than writer.

It's likely to be the first of many.

LaFlamme's novel is scheduled to arrive in local stores this week. Several Internet booksellers have begun peddling the story, and the author is already scheduling signings.

"The Pink Room" tells the story of a world-class physicist who retreats to Aroostook County where he builds a house in the woods. There, he hopes to bring his daughter back to life using a theoretical arm of quantum physics known as string theory.

The result is a bit of Stephen Hawking and a lot of Stephen King.

"I don't think I could avoid reminding people of King," said LaFlamme, a lifelong fan. However, he figures he owes more to Edgar Allen Poe.

"Everything he loved died," LaFlamme said. "I think what appealed to me was his rejection of the finality of death."

He was 6 or 7 years old when he discovered the author of "The Raven."

"I was a normal kid, but I had a creepy side," said LaFlamme, who grew up in Waterville. When his mom gave him a record album of Poe readings titled "Ghost Stories," he was hooked.

"I'd go in my room, turn out the lights and listen over and over," he said.

Soon he was writing his own short stories. By the time he was 12 or 13, he was composing long horror tales on a battered electric typewriter.

He sent a few off to magazines as he grew older. Some were published, but he cared little whether anyone read them.

"They were for me," he said. "I showed them to my mom or friends."

But the fiction never quite took. When he finished high school, he worked lots of different jobs, eventually landing at the Sun Journal. He was 27.

His job: covering the sometimes graphic crimes of Lewiston-Auburn.

It somehow meshed with his interest in horror.

"Mark's got a sick mind," said Dave Griffiths, a former Sun Journal editor. "It's a good kind of sick, though."

Both his home office and his newsroom desk are decorated with assorted haunted-house paraphernalia: fake rats, severed heads and limbs, witches and photos of Poe.

None of it is mean-spirited, though.

"It's how he handles the pressure of daily journalism," Griffiths said.

LaFlamme has done a lot of it.

A search of the newspaper's archives finds 3,800 stories by LaFlamme. Of those, "murder" is mentioned 200 times and "fire" shows up 777 times. He also writes a regular column and hosts a blog on the newspaper's Web site.

All of that experience informs the mayhem of LaFlamme's fiction.

Griffiths, who was one of the first people to read "The Pink Room," said the reporting has given LaFlamme's work enormous discipline

"Journalism is a great training ground for any kind of writing," he said. "You can't ramble on and on."

It has helped the content, too. LaFlamme has been to plenty of crime scenes, knows lots of cops and has interviewed FBI agents.

All appear in "The Pink Room."

He wrote it over six or eight weeks, pounding out 2,000 words a night after returning home from his beat. He finished the book one morning this spring at 4 a.m.

"I wanted to have a party and celebrate," he said. His wife, Corey, was sleeping. So were his neighbors.

"Instead, I went to bed," he said.

Perhaps middle age has set in.

He's 38.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A very LaFlamme Christmas

We've all heard the Christmas story about the man who tried to surprise his family by coming down the chimney dressed as Santa. Such a nice idea. They found the body weeks later when it began to smell. The man had broken his neck on the slide down the chute and became lodged in there. Such a warm story. It's my favorite of the Yuletime season.
We all know that every day is Halloween in LaFlamme Land. Here's another nice story that plays on that theme.
NEW YORK (AP) - It's usually easy to tell where a person stands in the culture wars, but whose side is someone on when his Christmas decor is a blood-spattered Santa Claus holding a severed head?
Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, the merry old elf grasps a disembodied doll's head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Krupnik explained that his family thought it would be a fun way to make a comment about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas.
"It is a religious holiday, but they have turned it into a business. And it shouldn't be," he said. "We didn't put it up to offend anybody. It was just something that came out of our imagination."
More than a few people passing by the brownstone were a little puzzled about the message behind the massacre. There were a few signs the macabre theme is a year-round thing - the facade of the building was covered with leering gargoyles. A statue of Death, hooded and grim-looking, stood outside.
Peter Nardoza, 81, of Manhattan, shook his head and chuckled.
"Sick, sick, sick," he said. "What kind of a world is this that we live in?"
Ronnie Santiago, a deliveryman on his route, speculated that something bad must have happened once to the homeowner at Christmas. A few spectators wondered whether the campy gore would bother children.
The family is far from the only one making an editorial comment this year on how Americans celebrate Christmas, although it may be the only one doing it by depicting Santa Claus as a killer.
Pope Benedict XVI complained this week that Christmas festivities have been "subjected to a sort of commercial pollution." Christian conservatives have launched campaigns to reintroduce a religious component to Christmastime decor in schools and public squares, chiding even President Bush this year for sending out cards wishing supporters a happy "holiday season."
But despite the home's gruesome exterior, some visitors appreciated it.
Bucky Turco, 31, of Manhattan, said the display captured how he felt when watching someone costumed as SpongeBob SquarePants promote products at Rockefeller Center.
"This is brilliant," said Turco.
Walter Garofalo, a musician from Brooklyn who wandered by wearing a black bandanna covered in skulls, was awe-struck.
"I wonder if these people would let me use this as our next album cover," he said. "It's perfect!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mandibles of death

They say the creature stands nearly as tall as a man. It has fangs like daggers and eyes that will stop your heart. When the beast screams, the heartiest of men will freeze in their tracks and whimper like children. It's too late to scream, though. The creature is fantastically fast and astoundingly agile. Above all, it is hungry. No one and nothing is safe from it's mandibles of death.

I really miss that ferocious, dog-eating monster. Last summer, I got weeks worth of stories from it and I wanted more.
People everywhere were reporting their sightings to me: "I saw the beast crouched next to a road in Poland. It was hunched like a gargoyle and it looked like something that would bite your arms off and then go looking for the rest of your family."
"I saw that monstrosity in my back field out in Greene just a week ago. I once rassled a black bear just for sport, sonny, but I'll tell you right now... One sight of that maneater and I wet myself like tot."
"I saw it. You bet I did. It was out along the power lines along Old Greene Road and it looked mean as anything. Meaner then my missus, even. I ain't ashamed to admit I got to drinking."
Nearly two dozen people called or wrote to report their sightings. They swore something strange and terrible lived among us.
Skeptics chortled and said with lofty conviction that they knew exactly what it was that so spooked normally sane men and women. And on and on it went. I milked it for all it was worth, went searching for the killer and tried to milk it some more.
Then it was winter and there was nothing further. Surely, I thought. Surely it is only dormant for the season. The beast will be back come summer and I'll plan my days and nights around it.
But no. Like criminals who get caught too soon, the fanged, fabled fur ball faded into obscurity and never returned. Flea bag. But I miss him so.
In case you missed it last summer, here is a recap.
The scream that pierced the night was so chilling, the woman almost immediately sold her home and never went back. She doesn't like to talk about it much. Who wants to talk about a beast that doesn't belong in this world? Who would believe a story about a creature with cold, shining eyes and a fanged mouth curled in an evil, animal grin?
It could be in your backyard this very moment. It might be growling low in its throat, staring through your window with cunning and hunger.
Or it could be just a raccoon looking for your scraps. Who knows? Not me.
A couple of weeks ago, a Doberman pinscher was mauled by something nobody has been able to identify. It's surely not a wolverine, say the wildlife experts. We don't have them here. It's probably a fisher, the same experts say. Those buggers can be pretty mean.

A fisher? Ha! So say more than a half-dozen people who have contacted me. "There's been talk of a strange animal out here for years," said Steve Theberge, who lives in the Wales area. "They say it stands about 4 feet tall. I hear it's a pretty strange-looking creature."

Theberge is not making this up. His father-in-law has seen the creature. His son has seen it and his wife had an up-close look six years ago.

"This thing, it just hopped over the road and then it stood there," said Brenda Theberge. "It was tan and gray and it had these weird eyes. It was sunset and those eyes were just glowing."

It had the physical characteristics of a hyena, she said. It stood maybe 4 feet tall and it stared with those glowing eyes in a most menacing way. It was almost hairless.

"It was definitely scary to look at," Brenda said. "It was like the size of a pony."

For all his fascination with the creature, Steve has never seen it himself. But he says he was treated to the chilling scream of the beast just a short time ago. It sounded like a baby at first, then the creature began to growl and it was like no sound Theberge had ever heard.

Shortly after hearing the spine-tingling scream, Steve found tracks through dirt and mud in his yard. The tracks were bigger than his hand and bore the imprints of three claws.

"I've spent a lot of time in the Maine woods," Theberge said. "I've never seen a track like that."

When confronted with something that seems alien in the familiar surroundings of our homes, a primitive chill crawls up the spine. As evolved humans, we are at once terrified and fascinated by the unknown. We are a superior species, we reason, and thus we have control over our wildlife.

So when Leo Michaud reported that something had crept from the woods behind his Wales home and killed his Doberman pinscher, wildlife experts nodded knowingly. It was a fisher, they said. A small but vicious animal with a nasty reputation in the Maine woods. It was certainly not some exotic beast that crept down from the mountains.

Calls and letters about the mystery creature have been coming in since a story about the Doberman appeared in the paper. Almost nobody believes the ferocious, but relatively wee fisher, is responsible for the attack. The mystery creature of the Wales woods is the No. 1 suspect.

I know what you're thinking. You live in Lewiston where the only wildlife to be seen is in the downtown area, right? You scoff. You mock. You laugh until coffee comes out your nose and hum the theme from "Deliverance."

Don't get too comfortable just yet, naysayer. A letter-writer named Jamie Tapley tells me he has twice seen a large, fearsome creature in his Sabattus Road yard. He reported the sighting and a Maine Game Warden called him back. The Warden's guess? It was a fisher.

"I researched fishers online and this thing is bigger than a fisher," Jamie said. "This thing is nearly as tall as my collie."

Earlier this week, I was talking to Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout about a completely unrelated matter. I happened to mention what I was hearing about this mystery creature. Strout turned quiet a moment. As it happened, he had received a call earlier that day from a woman on Old Greene Road in Lewiston. The woman had seen a strange creature near the power lines by her home. The critter was at least 18 inches high with a long tail and she wanted to know what it was.

"She drew me a picture," Strout said. "It didn't look like anything I've seen before."

The number of reports alone is enough evidence for me. I'm thinking I should take a week off, pitch my tent in the Wales woods and wait for an encounter with this mystery beast. Sooner or later, it would find me. If the creature were really mean, I might not be back. But I'm pretty sure I know what it would say in a news story about the tragedy.

"It looks like LaFlamme was eaten," said wildlife experts. "It was probably a fisher."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Please feed dog

Avert your eyes if depictions of grim death disturb you. Look away if images of loneliness, pain and despair offend your delicate sensibilities. The following is the paradigmatic face of suffering.
Or maybe it's a perverse hoax. I really can't tell you. I can affirm that the dog shown here is as dead as anything I have seen. I can vow that the sign next to him is completely genuine and that the photos are untouched. Beyond that, you're on your own.
We came upon the dog while driving out of the expanse of Area 51 in the Nevada desert. It lay beneath a stop sign just before the highway leading away from the compound. The corpse was lashed to the signpost with a coil of wire. Tufts of fur clung to the bleached bones and the dead beast smiled that rictus smile of death.
The circumstances in display the photos tell an unsettling story. A small, domestic animal bound to a pole on a very short leash, left alone under baking, desert sun and exposed to frigid desert nights. How long the animal could have survived like that is anybody's guess. You can only trust that it was a miserable, painful and horrifying crawl to the end. You can almost hear the agonized beast's frantic whimpers floating across the desert.
Or maybe the pooch was hit by a car on Route 375 and left beside the road. Some yucksters may have discovered the corpse weeks later while taking a leak during a drunken ride through the desert. This wits could have created the sign with a magic marker and assembled the grim scene in seconds. You can see this group wetting their pants in merriment as they envision the horror on faces of tourists.
Too close to call, I'd say. I'll leave it up to you. The PLEASE FEED DOG spectacle of March, 2005. Authentic horror? Or grisly stunt?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dancin' with myself

Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme recently sat down with author Mark LaFlamme for a discussion about his new novel "The Pink Room." The interview alternated between friendly and antagonistic as the journalist pressed the novelist for answers about his book. The following is the result of the exchange.

Q: It's been said that you sleep until 1 p.m. each afternoon and then work the night beat at the paper. Tell me, where does this leave time for writing fiction?
A: That's a very good question, Mark. I write just about all of my fiction between midnight and roughly four in the morning. When I'm working on a novel, I write at least 2,000 words a night, no matter what. I often write more, but I won't leave the computer until I have at least 2,000 words of fresh copy. One time, I did a word count and found that I was eight words short of that goal. I had to go back and pound out eight new words just to maintain that discipline.
Q: What were the words?
A: "They found the severed limb the following day." Actually, I just made that up. But I may use it in future work.
Q: Considering the themes you write about in works of fiction, do you ever scare yourself?
A: Why, yes. Yes, I do. When I write, I'm surrounded by various ghouls and goblins I keep in my room. When I'm creating a particularly spooky scene in a story, I fancy I've seen one or more of them moving in on me from the corner of my eye. I also have my back facing the door, which was just really bad planning. On occasion, I'll wheel around in my chair, absolutely convinced that someone has crept in behind me. Sometimes, I need to go outside and shake it off.
Q: Not the bravest guy in the world, are you Mark?
A: Not when it comes to the world of the supernatural. At least I don't wet the bed.
Q: I heard you've written hundreds of short stories since you were a kid. Where do you get your ideas.
A: I'm glad you asked that, Mark. I understand most writers hate that question. Stephen King has a stock answer in which he quips that all his ideas come from a warehouse in Cleveland or something. Me, I've been dying for someone to ask.
Q: So, will you answer the question?
A: Right. I absolutely cannot go to sleep each night unless a mental movie is playing in my head. I call it my cerebral cinema. I need to have a story line going and characters to act them out as I'm drifting off. Usually, it's just a very simple scene to start with and the story develops as I go to sleep. I don't remember a time when I approached sleep without that happening in my mind.
Q: Is that how the idea for the Pink Room was conceived?
A: It is. I was trying to fall asleep one night when I conjured the image of a man walking down a very dark road at night. Just a man strolling into nothing, content and at ease. In my cerebral cinema, a car rolled to a stop beside him and a man spoke from inside. He said: "We understand you've been inside the house. We'd like to talk to you about that."
At the time, I was reading a lot of Discover magazines and books about quantum mechanics. The concept of string theory very naturally wormed its way into my mental storyline. A night or two later, I had most of the plot worked out. A night after that, I started writing "The Pink Room."
Q: How long did it take you to complete the novel?
A: Around six weeks for the first draft. At 2,000 words or so a day, that brought me up to roughly 85,000 words, a fair sized novel. But that's just plodding right through the story at a sprinters pace. After that, I had to go back and rewrite some really horrible sections, tweak a little, add elements of foreshadowing, etc. That takes longer and it's not as much fun.
Q: Is "The Pink Room" your first novel?
A: No. My first novel is tentatively titled: "Worumbo." It may eventually take on the title: "The Screaming Room." It's about government experiments with mind control at an abandoned Maine mill and a young newspaper reporter with blossoming psychic abilities. It was a blast to write. The story takes place in a city between Lewiston and Lisbon.
Q: You are aware that there is no city located there, are you not?
A: I am aware of that, Mark. But in my world, there is a rather large city called Myrtle right outside Lewiston. A lot of nasty things happen there.
Q: Will "The Pink Room" be your last novel.
A: Not a chance. I'm about to start a third. It will be about a man who nearly derails a presidential campaign by digging up his dead wife, or about a man who sees dead people every time he detoxes from alcohol.
Q: You're a strange person, Mr. LaFlamme. Did you have any friends at all when you were growing up?
A: I had lots of friends and many girlfriends, Mark. I was a normal kid in every way. Except I thought a lot about dead things at night. But hell, we all did that, right?
Q: Is "The Pink Room" just a long winded version of the Street Talk column?
A: No. I love writing the column but there are definite limits to what I can involve there. The same narrative voice might be present in the novel, but otherwise it's entirely different. The gloves are off when I create fiction. Things are described as I imagine them. There is no point where I have to rein myself in and say: "Okay. That's not appropriate for the readership." The landscape of the story is filled with violence and cruelty. Some of it is graphic. There might even be a nasty word or two in "The Pink Room."
Q: That's about all the questions I have for you. If I could just ask one more?
A: Shoot.
Q: Who's that coming in through the door behind you?
A: What... I can't... Who... I don't like you very much, Mark.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

To Clyde, with love

Thank you, Clyde, for that deep and provocative message. You know? It reminds that no matter how provincial and personal my opinions seem to be, there is always someone out there who gets me. Clyde, in that one word you summed up the exact message I was trying to convey. You look, but you also see. I appreciate your candor and your scrutiny. I also appreciate that you might be the only person who has seen this blog. Please come back, Clyde? Won't you please come back?

The concept jars lose an unsettling thought. When does writing for an audience of zero become akin to schizophrenia? At what point will I be talking to myself and settling comfortably into that relationship? What if I start posting responses to my own blogs but don't realize I'm doing it? I might have back and forth exchanges with a man named Lou or a young lady named Sandy Sue. I might get into heated arguments with identities created by myself in a fugue state. Frankly, I'm looking forward to it.

Many people read my Street Talk blog which can be found here. Maintaining that daily dialogue is easy because we have established a known environment, like a bar will establish a regular clientele. In here, there has been no give and take on which to mold such an environment. That is, at the bar known as The Screaming Room, nobody has placed an order or even asked for directions. In here it's just me and a bunch of figurative taps I can't get a drop of beer out of. An empty bar, a silent blog and the blossoming stage of schizophrenia.

Please come back, Clyde. Won't you please come back?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Words in a crack pipe

It's happening again.
Hello. My name is Mark LaFlamme. I cover crime for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine where I write news stories about the evil that men do. I also write a weekly column for the newspaper. I also maintain a daily blog on their website. At home, I write short stories. Hundreds of short stories. In the past year, I've written two novels. I have started a website on which to compile all this information. I try to write new stuff for it constantly. And now, another blog.

I think I might have a real problem. Words have become more than a mere avocation. It has become like a substance to which I am addicted. All my hours are filled with words, which fly from my finger tips after brewing and forming inside my head. Like a man addicted to the pipe, my fingers are sometimes blackened by newsprint or the keyboards. Soon I'll be shivering outside the 7-Eleven, hitting up good people like your for spare words... really, man. Anything you can spare.

Of course, there's also a good chance that I'm raving. I rave quite often, which is why I have a column and a blog. And that leads me to the big question here: what madness will fill this new space? Over what shall I rave?

I have no idea, frankly. It could become one of those highbrow places where we babble about the art of writing and the richness of literature. Bring your own flavored coffee and delicate wines I could never afford. Me, I'm a beer man.

It could be a place where lunacy reigns, like the news blog where I tend to talk a lot about monkey nipples, horse semen and nasty outhouse mishaps. The truth is, I don't know. I just know the world is full of words. I just hope somebody will be here to read mine and maybe set the tone with their own. And if you, stranger, happen to be the first, thanks for stopping by. I was jonesing, man. Jonesing real bad.