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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vampire Pit Bull -- Beach Tales free preview #2

T.U.P. NOTE: For some unknown (to me) reason the book is running late in the Kindle publishing process. Ergo, the free days will be next weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 8, 9, 10 

Beach Tales, my new collection of short stories, will be published as an ebook on Friday June 1. The entire collection, a number of which first appeared in Tropic, the Miami Herald Sunday magazine,  will be free to download in the Kindle store all day Saturday and Sunday June 2 &3.

Meanwhile, here's another free story:

Otto did not like it that the dog needed walking in the evening. Actually, he did not like walking his late mother's Welsh terrier at any time. Otto was not fond of walking. He was less fond of walking at night. The days, even with the relentless heat and humidity, were better than the nights. He had inherited the dog with his mother’s condo.
Otto was sure vampires prowled in South Beach once darkness fell. There was no logic to back up his belief.  It was simply one more article of faith in an overwrought world. He was seriously thinking of selling the apartment and moving. Inertia, however, ruled Otto.
He was fat, obese even; roly poly in his shorts and tee shirts and flip flops; pink arms and legs like humongous overstuffed sausages about to burst their casings. The dog was not fat. Also unlike the dog, Otto was bald. He buzzed the stubble over his face and ears and around the back of his head each morning with an electric shaver. Between the sun burn and the morning buzz, his head virtually glowed red. Owners and dogs are said to often take on each other's physical looks. Otto and Snuffy were the proverbial rule-proving exception; though Otto considered himself a caretaker for the dog, rather than owner.
Otto considered the cost of a trip to the dog groomer as he toddled along 14th Street toward the intersection with Washington Avenue. It had been three months and the dog was getting bushy except for a patch where he had scratched himself raw from the heat.
A vampire and his black pit bull rounded the corner onto 14th Street. The pit bull was not on a leash. Instantly, it charged and chomped through Snuffy’s abundant wiry fur and held onto the yelping terrified terrier. Otto's first thought was that the money for the groomer would now have to be spent on a vet.
The vampire hurried the few steps to where the dogs were locked together in the pool of yellow light cast by a street lamp. Otto, not knowing what else to do, hovered over the two animals, bent slightly at his distended waist line. The vampire was tall and thin with long stringy black hair to his shoulders, dressed all in black, skin pale as an envelope. "Please make your dog let go," said Otto, pleading, terrified.
"Onyx, let go!" commanded the vampire. He grabbed the pit bull by the scruff of the neck, forcefully lifting up both dogs. "Onnie, let go! What's the matter with you?"
Otto wished he had a gun loaded with silver bullets. He would end this right now, blast both the dog and its owner. Otto was confusing vampires with werewolves. Fortunately, for everyone, he was unarmed.
"Don't worry," said the vampire. "She only has two teeth." He snapped a leash onto the pit bull's collar, then rapped his knuckles hard on top of her snout. The pit bull unclamped itself from the smaller dog's neck. Snuffy collapsed into a furry whimpering puddle as the vampire jerked his snarling beast by the leash. "Sorry about that," he offered.
Otto nudged Snuffy gently with a chubby bare toe and said nothing. The vampire pulled his dog down the street. After a moment, Otto yelled at the vampire's back half a block away: "That dog should be on a leash at all times!"
The vampire kept walking and casually waved acknowledgment without turning around. The next day the vet remarked on the unusual puncture wounds. "The owner said the dog only has two teeth," Otto explained.
"Two teeth, two puncture wounds," said the vet. "Guess the guy knew what he was talking about. Lucky your dog wasn't groomed recently. His fur probably saved him. As it is, he seems to have lost a fair amount of blood. Give him these, one pill twice a day, and let him rest as much as he wants. He should be fine."
Otto knew he had been right all along: vampires. But there weren't only vampires; there were vampire dogs now, too. He said nothing and looked glum. The vet shook his head. "Pit bulls aren't bad by nature. It's usually the owners who ought to be destroyed." Otto grunted his agreement. The bill, including shots and antibiotics, was $170.
After dropping off Snuffy at home, Otto went around the corner to the tattoo shop. As he made the short trip he asked himself what kind of person would teach a dog to suck blood? He muttered the answer under his breath as he entered through the glass front door of the tattoo parlor: “A vampire, that’s what kind.” To Otto, the tattoo shop crowd during daylight hours looked pretty much equally strange as the nighttime bunch; but he was still glad the sun was high in the blue cloudless sky for his visit.
Otto confronted a profusely pierced and ornately tattooed young man who introduced himself as Peter. Otto told Peter: "One of your night time regulars has a black pit bull. Tall guy, pale, long stringy black hair? Dog's named Onyx? His dog attacked my dog and I want him to pay for the vet bill." Otto held up the bill. He refrained from using "vampire" to describe either man or dog. But the word was on the tip of his tongue the whole time.
Otto was sure that Peter, who said he was the shop's owner, was lying when he answered: "Nobody fitting that description hangs out here." Otto could see the lie in the younger man's eyes.  
What Otto did not know was that the man he sought was a tattoo artist of extraordinary skill who worked only at night, only by appointment, usually after midnight. He had arrived in South Beach two weeks before, his reputation preceding him. His work was becoming legendary in tattoo circles everywhere. His name was Dario.
Dario never showed his own tattoos. He always kept his black collars and cuffs buttoned. There were whispers that anybody who laid eyes on Dario's tattoos became his sex slave – weird spooky stuff. No question, though; the man was an artist, a genius. There was no way Peter was giving up Dario to this lard butt. Otto left the shop knowing none of this, but certain that he'd been lied to.
That night around eleven Snuffy started whining to go for a walk. "Don't you know what happened last time? Why can't you hold it until morning?" Otto, snapping on the leash, asked the dog.
Downstairs, Otto and Snuffy stepped out and there was Dario walking up the sidewalk, alone, without his dog. Dario stopped and introduced himself by name and Otto cringed from the outstretched hand. "Listen, I'm sorry about last night," said Dario. "I hear you were at the tattoo shop looking for me earlier."
Otto gulped and told the vampire about the $170 vet bill. Dario nodded solemnly at the news. He was very pale. Otto had the urge to go to the bathroom. Dario drew his lips inward and bit lightly on them. Then he explained: "Listen, I'm really short of money, man. I tell you what though -- I could give you a great tattoo. Like a serious tattoo. Maybe a snake or a tiger. Full color, man. Big as you want. Like a thousand dollar job. Trade you for the money for the vet. You'd be way ahead."
Otto backed away, swallowing a lot and shaking his head and murmuring "no" several times softly. “Your dog? I could do your dog perfect,” said Dario.  “Right on your bicep.”
Otto dragged the dog back inside and pumped his legs up the stairs as fast as his hams would carry him. "Better fat than stupid," he huffed aloud to himself outside the apartment door. From now on, he thought, Snuffy can hold it at night or piss on the floor.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beach Tales -- Coming in June! (free preview)

Just before the turn of the millennium, 1998 to be exact, I began as a writer for for Tropic, the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine. My beat was South Beach. One of the reasons I accepted the job was the fact that Tropic published a short story every week in a column called True Lies. Mine became a frequent feature before the greedy publisher and his minions in the bean-counting department decided that the magazine, while profitable, wasn't profitable enough. (Maybe Tony Ridder needed some new polo ponies?)

Anyway, I wrote some weird and wacky tales. Now I'm publishing those stories, along with a couple that got rejected as too racy -- as a collection. The inimitable Chaz de Bourbon of is designing a cover for the ebook, which will also serve as the cover for the paperback which we'll release later in the summer.

The ebook will be free in the Kindle store for 4 days in June. Please watch this blog for the announcement. Meanwhile, here's one of the rejected stories for your reading pleasure. Enjoy! (it's a bit twisted.)

Harry lies in bed in the dark with Jennifer, his wife for slightly more than a year, asleep beside him.  Aghast. Shocked. Harry ponders what his twin brother said earlier. Appalled. That's the word. Harry wishes Harvey had never told him.
Earlier in the day Harry told Harvey that a divorced friend of Jennifer's was interested.  "I can't go out with her," Harvey replied. He knew who she was. "She'd never let me toilet train her."
"She'd never let you what?" Harry asked. 
"Toilet train her. Look, what I do on the first date with a woman -- I take her home, give her the tour of the house. When we get to the master bath, I push her down and handcuff her to the toilet. Then I leave her there and go out for a couple of hours. Have a cocktail. Smoke a cigar. That's what I do, Harry. I can't get it off anymore with a woman unless I toilet train her first. The excitement begins as I hear them calling out. Some try to pretend it’s a joke. As I get closer to the front door, the anxiety level in their voices seems to rise proportionately. Then the anticipation builds and builds while I’m out.  It's exhilarating."
Harvey says he discovered his "technique" in Tegucigalpa several years ago. He was there buying cotton cloth and a young freelance American photographer confronted him in his hotel room as he was about to go out to a business dinner. She accused him of being a CIA agent.
Harvey likes to drop hints that he is an operative, and then deny it, adding credence of course. Harry knows that. He thought it helped Harvey get them better prices. He didn't know that Harvey took handcuffs with him on business trips.  "Sometimes I even get a gun once I'm in country, if it's convenient."
"What's this 'in country' crap, Harvey? This is me now. You're not a spy. You were never in the military. Get real." 
Appalled is definitely the word. Harry had let himself believe that Harvey adopted the crew cut look as a comfort measure, as part of doing business in the tropics. "Your charade is out of control. You need psychiatric help."
"Oh please. I do not. I never should have told you, Harry. I knew you couldn't handle it."
They were sitting across from each at their partners' desk, feet up, Friday cigars burning. Harvey laughed when Harry said, "I can handle it. I can handle anything." Harry then asked for details, to bolster his nonchalance. "Did you at least tell the girl you weren't CIA? After you did her, I mean?"
"Don't you want to know how she acted when I let her up, when I unshackled her? She was all over me. Her tongue was everywhere. She was laughing and sobbing and gabbling like a goose; blathering about knowing herself, about coming face to face with herself.
“It was beautiful. It's still beautiful. Every time.  But as good as it is now, it's never as good as it was in Tegucigalpa. That first time was something special."
Harry is wild eyed in the dark at the fresh knowledge that his twin has been at this twist of his for several years. Fraternal. Not maternal, he tells himself. Keep that in mind. He's your fraternal twin.  You're not identical.
Now, though, the women Harvey goes out with make sense. It always seems to Harry that Harvey could do better. They all seem, well, cowed. Harry sometimes suggests that his brother bring some new gal "out for some bourjwah backyard BBQ." Harvey always declines with a shake of his head and terse chuckle, saying "It's not that kind of thing."
Now Harry knows what kind of thing it is. He knows, too, that he can't tell Jennifer anything about this.  Good God no. Harvey has it all wrong. Doesn't he? The scene in the office flashes back again.
"You asked me if I told her I wasn't CIA. Of course I did. I told her I was Mossad. I think it sounds sexier. Mossad are really tough."
"You're going to get arrested."
"In Tegucigalpa? I don't think so. We never do business there anymore."
"You didn't . . . you didn't hurt her, Harvey?"
"No! Of course not. Believe it or not, she still calls me and leaves messages on my answering machine every so often when she’s passing through Miami."
"You can't keep this up. You can't just go on shackling women to your toilet." 
"Of course I can. They love it."
"You really are going to get into legal trouble. You're going to get arrested."
"For what? Having sex?
“It’s not sex, Harvey. It’s unlawful imprisonment. It’s illegal.”
“I can tell the women who'll go for it right away. I can pick 'em out walking down the street. I've only had the cops show up once."
"The cops?!  You see."
Harvey ignored the interruption. "I didn't answer the door, had all the lights out by the time they showed up. What were they going to do? Kick the door in? For what? I didn't rape her. What could she prove? Nothing. She was a little hysterical, that’s all. The cops get hysterical women calling all the time. She never pressed charges. I never heard anymore about it. So I misjudged once. Believe me -- I know what I'm doing." 
"This is more information than I need, Harvey."
"It's exactly the information you do need, Harry."
"Those poor women. You just leave them there for hours?"
"I go out and have a drink, maybe a bite to eat, smoke a cigar. Like I said. The anticipation is great, incredible. Anticipation is really the most important part of sex."
"How do you spot them, Harvey? Where do you spot them? How do you meet them? What? Do you walk up to a woman in the mall and say, ‘Hi. I’d like to handcuff you to my toilet.’ I can’t imagine. Are there special places where you meet people like this? "Listen to you now. What? You want to join the club? I just know, Harry. It's in their eyes, in the way they droop their shoulders. A lot of things. I just know.  Like I know about Jennifer. She'd love being shackled."
"Jennifer?! You're crazy! My Jennifer? You're out of your goddam mind."
"Toilet train her, Harry. It'll be good for your marriage. Believe me. We're twins. I know what kind of woman you chose."
Jennifer stirs beside Harry in the bed. He slips his hand between the mattress and the box spring and his fingers find the chromium loops of the cuffs Harvey gave him. Harry lets his hand rest there. Tonight he only wants to feel the steel. That's all. Just feel the steel.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Organic Bytes 5/24/2012


Safeguarding Organic Standards (SOS)

The  Organic Foods Production Act and the regulations that implement it are great. They just need to be fully enforced.
Unfortunately, in many instances when large companies violate national organic standards, the response from Congress, the National Organic Program (NOP) and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been to  change the law and regulations to match non-compliance rather than to  strengthen enforcement.
Here are some examples:
• In 2005, a court ruled  that the NOP was illegally allowing synthetic ingredients in products labeled "USDA  Organic." Rather than tightening up enforcement, the Organic Trade Association got Congress to change the law.
• In 2006, the NOP  illegally approved synthetic DHA and ARA for use in "USDA Organic" and these nutraceuticals soon laced nearly every organic baby formula. Last  year, the NOP admitted the approval was illegal. Instead of enforcing  the law, which would have meant changing the labeling of these  products from “USDA Organic” to "Made With Organic," the NOP asked the manufacturer, biotech multinational DSM, to petition the products for placement on the National List of Allowed Substances. The NOSB approved them at the last meeting, even though  it was clear that the NOP had not properly vetted DHA or ARA to  determine whether they were produced using excluded methods of genetic  engineering.
• In 2009, the NOP announced that it wasn't following the organic law's restrictions on the use of genetically engineered vaccines. Instead of the NOP enforcing the law against this violation, it asked the NOSB to recommend a change in the law and that's what the NOSB  did. Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy wisely rejected that recommendation, but he still hasn't made any attempt to enforce current law.
• A 2010 report by the Cornucopia Institute revealed that many organic poultry and egg producers ignore regulations that require animals to have access to the outdoors and direct sunlight and prohibit  any animal's continuous total confinement. The NOSB and NOP continue to recommend and issue non-binding guidance documents on animal welfare,  without taking any action to enforce current regulations.
Learn More & Take Action

Obama and Rich Nations Leave Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa

At the Group of Eight (G8) meetings this past weekend at Camp David, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world's richest nations abandoned their governments'  previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa and instead left the problem in the hands of the so-called New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years - Monsanto has committed $50 million - beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia.
Leaving the  problem of hunger in the hand of multinationals like Monsanto and Cargill will only exacerbate the conditions already driving poverty in Africa - rich  countries' protectionism, land-grabbing, commodity speculation, food  waste, and diversion of crops to livestock feed and biofuels - and  ratchet up the costs of farming for small farmers by encouraging the use  of expensive and unsustainable GMO seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.
Read what food policy experts have to say about ending hunger in Africa.
Learn More & Take Action

Moneybomb Monsanto: We’re Closing in on Our Goal! Your Donation Could Put Us Over the Top!

Our ‘Drop the Money Bomb on Monsanto’ campaign continues to make history, as more individuals and more groups pitch in to help guarantee a $1 million matching gift – and the nation’s first victory in GMO labeling.
Please help us raise $1 million by May 26 for the California Right to Know GMO Labeling Campaign so we don't miss out on this $1 million matching gift!
People and groups from every state in the US have been pitching in for this campaign. Why? Because we all know how much is riding on this victory in California. We’ve already seen GMO labeling laws make their way through legislatures in states like Washington, Vermont, and Connecticut, only to falter before they could be put to a vote. But the work pro-labelers have done in those states, and the publicity generated around their campaigns, have helped rally consumers in every state around the California campaign.
The California labeling law is our best shot at eventually guaranteeing consumers’ right to know on a national scale. This time, legislators can’t cave into Big Biotech – because this is a citizens’ initiative. And polls show that 90% of California voters support GMO labeling.
Big Food, Monsanto and the rest of the Biotech Bullies are revving up for a massive ad campaign to try to kill this initiative – and they’ve got a $60 million war chest to play with. We don’t need $60 million, because voters already support labeling 9 to 1. But we do need to run an effective campaign to counter the lies and propaganda that will soon hit the California airwaves.
We can do this – with your help. With just two days left, we need about $150,000. We’re counting on small donations of $5, $10, $20 to get us there. Your donation could be the one that puts us over the top!
Every dollar counts! Please donate today and tell Monsanto: We have the right to know if our food contains GMOs. Thank you!

Occupy Monsanto Week Begins September 17

In an effort to expose Monsanto's greed and hold the company accountable for their crimes, we are making Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU) Action Kits available for free to the first 50 groups who commit to Occupy Monsanto during the week of September 17th, 2012. Fill out the online form with your mailing address, email address, size, and basic info (date, time, and location) about your Occupy Monsanto plans for the week of September 17th and get your free kit!
Sign up here!
Over the last 10 years Monsanto has spent over $52 million dollars making sure they get the most favorable legislation possible. Of that $52 million, nearly $11 million was paid to outside lobbying firms to lobby on behalf of Monsanto, while the rest of the total was spent on Monsanto's staff lobbyists.
When you’ve got billions of dollars in your coffers, you can afford to pay off political candidates & members of Congress. Follow this link to learn whether your Senator or Representative received donations from Monsanto’s Political Action Committee known as Monsanto Citizenship Fund between 2002 and the first quarter of 2012. If so, please contact them to say that you don’t support Monsanto’s efforts to genetically contaminate the world’s food supply.
In order to convince America's hardworking farmers that Monsanto's patented genes & toxic chemicals are safe, Monsanto has created a mobile advertising "unit" that will be spreading lies & pro-GMO propaganda around the United States this year. If your Genetic Crime Unit needs a good location to protect against further genetic contamination, go here for more information.

Action Alert: Tell Starbucks and Green Mountain to Support Small Fair Trade Farmers

Fair  Trade USA  (formerly TransFair  USA) and its new initiative, Fair Trade For All, aims to expand fair trade certification to include coffee plantations.
“Fair Trade for All”  has been a major point of contention  in Fair Trade USA’s split from  Fairtrade International (FLO). For more on the Fair Trade USA/FLO  split, see Fair World Project’s (FWP) statement.
Small  producers and democratic cooperatives are core to the founding   principles of the fair trade  movement and market. By definition, small producers are vulnerable,  excluded and under-resourced in the global market. In the coffee sector, small farmers produce approximately 70% of the global coffee supply. Despite the current high prices in the  coffee  market, many fair trade coops are still unable to sell the majority of their  coffee  under fair trade terms. Expanding fair trade certification and market  access to  large-scale plantations will assure that fair trade cooperatives continue to remain vulnerable  to  volatile international markets and undermine 25 years of fair trade  development. Importantly, consumers will be unable to distinguish  between small farmer and cooperative coffee from plantation coffee. Learn more about fair trade  and plantations by reading "Fair World Project Statement Regarding Coffee Plantations and Hired Labor." Fair Trade activists have sent thousands of letters  to FTUSA, Fairtrade International and IMO in support of small farmers.
Take Action and Tell Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Green Mountain CEO Larry Blanford to Support Small Fair Trade Farmers

Little Bytes: Top Stories of the Week

Evidence Continues to Mount for Ticking 'Methane Time Bomb'
The Organic Watergate: Synthetics Found in Organic Foods
A Victory for All of Us
The Rise of the New Economy Movement
The Mindboggling Sum We Actually Spend on National Security: One Trillion Dollars a Year

From the Delaware Riverkeeper

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Opposes
Pennsylvania’s Proposed Air Emissions Permit GP-5
Calls for addressing deposition of air pollutants from gas operations on water
Harrisburg, PA Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted comments today to PA Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP) Air Quality Bureau in Harrisburg regarding PADEP’s proposed revisions to the General Plan Approval and/or General Operating Permit for Natural Gas Production and Processing Facilities, known as GP-5.  PADEP noticed the proposed revisions in March with a comment deadline of May 2 but then extended the comment period to May 23.  The revisions apply to natural gas operations throughout the Commonwealth and were necessary to address changes in US Environmental Protection Agency performance standards and national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants.
DRN’s comment focuses on the issue of atmospheric deposition of airborne pollutants from natural gas production and processing facilities.  DRN concludes that the proposed GP-5 is not effective for the protection of human health or the environment and advocates that PADEP correct the deficiencies in the proposed permit before moving ahead. 
“The deposition of pollutants emitted by natural gas operations on to water will lead to water quality degradation and provides a substantial pollution pathway that PADEP does not address in the proposed GP-5”, said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.  “This is a huge missing piece of the air pollution puzzle that faces all Pennsylvanians because of the dangerous pollutants the gas industry emits.  The problem must be solved by addressing the whole picture, not just little bits.  PADEP needs to fix this and fix it now,” said van Rossum.
DRN engaged an air expert, Cherelle Blazer, MESc, of Texas to conduct a technical review of the GP-5 in regards to the issue of the deposition of air pollution on water; her report is included in the link to DRN comments above.  Ms. Blazer found the proposed permit revisions to be inadequate in protecting public health and the environment because it does not go far enough in addressing the problem of deposition.  Ms. Blazer recommends action be taken to analyze cumulative effects and then institute a plan to address them, to make more substantive cuts to emissions and to explore ways to prevent emissions such as restricting certain polluting activities (i.e. gas well flaring). 
Ms. Blazer reviewed the scientific literature on this issue and points out that employing Best Available Control Technology (BACT), which is the primary method used in the GP-5, is simply not enough to keep air emissions from degrading the environment.  In fact, the use of BACT in other parts of the country where drilling has been occurring has not resulted in effectively controlling Nitrogen and Sulfate, two of the dangerous air pollutants emitted by gas facilities that are deposited on to water.  In Sublette County Wyoming where BACT is mandatory, Nitrate and Sulfate emissions have actually increased and there is evidence of atmospheric deposition in the water and on the land near gas fields there.  Ms. Blazer points out that the proposed GP-5 permit can result in the same situation in Pennsylvania. 
“Many pollutants are released by natural gas activities and they all must be stopped.  Some of these toxics are deposited on land, vegetation, and surface water, where they cause water quality pollution that affect millions more people downstream as well as downwind.  PADEP is proposing to do the same old thing - a strictly technological fix.  Well, this isn’t working anywhere in the nation.  PADEP needs a new model – they need to prevent the pollution that is harming people and polluting our air and water,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network. 

Showdown @ High Noon

Day of Action Targets Do-Nothing Senators
Once again, the legislative session in Albany is drawing to a close and once again New York’s State Senators have failed to do a single thing to protect the public from fracking.   Soon they’ll be heading home to campaign for re-election - so they can return to Albany next year – and continue doing nothing.

Tell New York’s do-nothing Senators that we are not lab rats, we demand a heath impact assessment to determine the effects that fracking might have on ourselves, our children and future generations.

On Wednesday May 30th, we’ll be demonstrating in front of the district offices of do-nothing Senators throughout the state. Click here to find an action near you, and for the telephone numbers of key Senators who need to be called out for their inaction.

Take Action!

For more information email or call (845) 468 7063
Please share this Update link, cut and paste to Facebook and Twitter:
Two out of three people who find out about fracking think the risks aren't worth the rewards.
Public awareness is the key to our success, so spread the word!
Please donate to Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Obie Awards Winners

Due to a very nasty spider bite late last week, T.U.P. was unable to attend the Obies. Here's the annoucement of the winners:


The 57th Annual Obie Awards were given out at a ceremony Monday, May 21, 2012 at Webster Hall in Greenwich Village. The awards were presented by acclaimed stage actors Eric McCormack, Grace Gummer, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, Justin Bartha, Leslie Odom Jr., Lily Rabe, Michael McKean, Tonya Pinkins, Topher Grace, and Tracee Chimo.
Numbers from this season's top Broadway musicals, including “Summertime” performed by Joshua Henry and Sumayya Ali from the cast of Porgy & Bess and “Raglan Road” performed by David Patrick Kelly from the cast of Once, were entertainment for the evening. The ceremony kicked off with two numbers from newly minted Obie winner Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra from their show No Place to Go.   
The Obies were judged by a committee of seven: Brian Parks, Obie Awards Chairman and Arts & Culture editor of The Village Voice; Michael Feingold, chief theater critic for the Voice, two-time Pulitzer finalist, dramaturg, and Obie Chairman Emeritus; Alexis Soloski, a Voice theater critic as well as contributor to The New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, and BBC Radio, plus theater professor at Columbia University; Annie Baker, Best New American Play Obie winner in 2010 for her plays Circle Mirror Transformation and The Aliens; Anne Kauffman, accomplished director, instructor, and 2007 Obie winner for her direction of The Thugs; José Rivera, two-time Obie Award winner for his plays Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; and Helen Shaw, a theater critic for Time Out New York and a past Obie judge. Her writing has also appeared in The Village Voice.
4000 Miles by Amy Herzog received the Obie Award for Best New American Play, which is accompanied by a $1,000 prize. Caridad Svich—a playwright, translator, and teacher—received the Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement. A complete list of awards is given below.
Best New American Play (with $1,000 prize)
Amy Herzog
4000 Miles   (Lincoln Center Theater)
Cherise Boothe
Milk Like Sugar  (Playwrights Horizons and the Women's Project)
Steven Boyer
Hand to God  (Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngblood)
Sweet and Sad Ensemble:
Jon DeVries, Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders,
J. Smith-Cameron (The Public Theater)
Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson
4000 Miles  (Lincoln Center Theater)
Jim Fletcher
Sustained Excellence
Santino Fontana
Sons of the Prophet  (The Roundabout Theatre)
Linda Lavin
The Lyons  (The Vineyard Theatre)
Susan Pourfar
Tribes  (Barrow Street Theatre)
Kirsten Greenidge
Milk Like Sugar  (Playwrights Horizons and the Women's Project)
Richard Maxwell
Early Plays  (The Wooster Group and St. Ann's Warehouse)
Jay Scheib
World of Wires   (The Kitchen)
Mark Barton, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design
Mimi Lien, Sustained Excellence of Set Design
Matt Tierney and Ben Williams, sound design
The Select (The Sun Also Rises)  (New York Theatre Workshop)
Special Citations
Mark Bennett, Denis O'Hare, Lisa Peterson, and Stephen Spinella
An Iliad  (New York Theatre Workshop)
Elevator Repair Service
Sustained Excellence
Erin Courtney and Ken Rus Schmoll
A Map of Virtue    (13P)
Steven Hoggett, Martin Lowe, and John Tiffany
Once   (New York Theatre Workshop)
Daniel Kitson
It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later   (St. Ann's Warehouse)
Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra
No Place to Go  (The Public Theater/Joe's Pub)
Ross Wetzsteon Grant ($1,000)
Youngblood  (Ensemble Studio Theatre)
The Bushwick Starr  ($2,500) 
The Debate Society ($2,500)
Lifetime Achievement
Caridad Svich

Sunday, May 20, 2012

From the Nose Flute Master

Antoine Carolus is the French master of the nose flute, as well as a terror on the plastic ukulele. Check him out:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From the Delaware Riverkeeper

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Drains Wetlands With Emerging Amphibians – Regulators Sit By/Support

Pike County, PA – On Friday, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network visited wetlands on DCNR lands to videotape juvenile amphibians to document for the public and the PA Department of Environmental Protection the diverse and healthy juvenile and adult frog, toad and newt populations threatened by Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s (Tennessee Gas) delayed restoration work on its 300 Pipeline Project (view video here: One day after documenting the abundant life, Tennessee Gas quickly drained down the wetlands, apparently with the knowledge of state and local agencies; the result was to wipe out some of the emerging life within.

“We notified the State and County agencies on Monday the 7th of the situation, urged them to order Tennessee Gas to hold off on their invasive wetlands work to allow the aquatic life to achieve maturity and move on. After all, the wetlands work was largely to ensure the critical habitat necessary for these sensitive species; it makes no sense to undertake the project at a time it will wipe out the very life it is intended to support. Rather than order the delay, it seems that state and local officials either acquiesced or perhaps even supported the devastating actions taken by Tennessee Gas over the weekend to drain the wetlands and kill the life that was struggling to grow there,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network had written multiple agencies and Tennessee Gas last Monday to urge that the amphibians be protected during the company’s delayed restoration actions (letter available here:  According to the letter by DRN, despite requests from regulatory agencies to Tennessee Gas to conduct final grading, stabilization, and seeding over the mild winter months when less biological activity was present in the already disturbed wetlands in the pipeline corridor, Tennessee Gas disregarded its restoration obligations for many months. The Tennessee Gas 300 line has been in operation since November 2011. As a result amphibians that avoided the Tennessee Gas 300 line impacts to these wetlands last year during construction, migrated back to the impacted wetlands that were not yet fully restored by Tennessee Gas in the early spring, mated and subsequently thousands of juveniles and adults resided in these wetlands.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network staff witnessed bulldozers and were trailed by Tennessee Gas employees when they went to site on Friday, May 11, to seek video-documentation for the agencies as to the situation. Tennessee Gas work crews on site told the Delaware Riverkeeper, van Rossum that one of the most thriving wetlands present would not be drained or impacted over the weekend, they confirmed that work was scheduled for the following week and may be delayed further by rain.

“As a result we believed we would have more time to influence the PADEP to delay the wetlands work or as a last resort, that we would have time to mobilize a corps of volunteers and concerned citizens to help relocate some of the amphibians to nearby wetlands out of the pipeline corridor,” said van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
Delaware Riverkeeper Network staff re-visited the pipeline corridor Saturday morning only to see the large wetland highlighted in the video already been pumped down and impacted, leaving a muddy mess behind. “The pumping, dewatering, and sediment pollution certainly killed many amphibians that were documented to live in this wetland. As of Sunday, the wetland still remained cloudy and choked with suspended solids,” said Faith Zerbe, Monitoring Director for Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

To view DRN’s video of the TGP actions on Friday in the wetlands, see

According to van Rossum, “this is sadly more of the same from Tennessee Gas Pipeline.” According to a letter sent by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to regulatory agencies earlier this year: During the Tennessee Gas 300 Line Project, in 28 out of 38 “Environmental Compliance Monitoring Program Weekly Summary Report[s]” that were provided on FERC’s website, at least one recorded incident was reported where an activity did not come into “compliance with Project specifications, mitigation measures, and applicable FERC-approved Project plans.” Out of 16 inspections conducted by the Wayne County Conservation District during the 300 Line Extension Project, violations were found in no less than 15 of the inspections. The Pike County Conservation District cited numerous violations during the 300 Line Extension Project including, but not limited to: 17 instances of dirt and sediment being discharged into water bodies, 7 violations for worksite conditions, and 21 instances of failure to properly institute Best Management Practices for erosion and sediment control.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prayer -- from the Dept. of Random Thoughts

It seems that a lot of folks think that prayer is God’s wine and the more they sluice into the Almighty gullet the more likely God is to get drunk and give them the stupid stuff they are requesting.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Free eBooks -- last 8 Hours

As I write this, exactly 8 hours remain until the end of my ebooks being free in the Kindle store:

All 5 titles are free: CLICK HERE for the Kindle store page.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded copies..

Here's the URL for all the titles

Anyone with comments about why they loaded one title and not another, would be most appreciated.

Can anyone give me some feedback on the cover?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

From the Delaware Riverkeeper

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Urges Action to Protect Emerging Amphibians from Pipeline Debacle
Pike County, PA – According to a letter sent by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to multiple regulatory agencies, the delays by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline to implement mandated restoration for their 300 Pipeline project has resulted in increased pollution during the time of the delay, and now threatens to decimate emerging amphibian populations in a number of wetland areas already damaged by the pipeline company. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is therefore urging swift intervention by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and other regulatory agencies to consider and address the implementation of the long-overdue wetlands activities in light of new information about impacts to amphibians. The agencies received a letter from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network explaining the situation and urging swift intervention to have the intensive construction activities that are part of the restoration delayed until the amphibians were mature enough to leave the site. According to the letter, Tennessee Gas Pipeline has had months to implement the overdue restoration, the pipeline went into service in November, and they should not now be allowed to inflict additional harm.
“Had the Tennessee Gas Pipeline company honored the requirements of their state issued permits the pipeline would have gone in and associated environmental restoration would already be complete, allowing us to avoid sediment and other pollution to local streams and wetlands that has taken place over the past several months, and avoiding the new catastrophic threat faced by hundreds, if not thousands, of emerging amphibians in the process of procreating and developing in the still disturbed wetlands around the pipeline site,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. “Tennessee Gas Pipeline has been irresponsible with how they have pursued this project, it was their procrastination that has put us all in this situation. To allow them to now add insult to injury by finally undertaking their overdue restoration work but at a time when it will ensure maximum harm to the very ecosystems and species it was supposed to help would be reprehensible, counterintuitive and counterproductive,” adds van Rossum.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Monitoring Director, Faith Zerbe, discovered the wetlands teaming with wood frogs, American toads and red spotted newts on a site visit to monitor the ongoing failure of restoration by TGP earlier this week. “We didn’t do a full herpetological survey,” Zerbe said, “but we didn’t have to immediately know the dramatic level of harm TGP would be inflicting if they finally began their restoration work in this area during this critical period of reproduction for the amphibians.”
“As soon as we realized the situation, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network took immediate action to try to secure protective action by the agencies,” van Rossum adds.
Also according to van Rossum, “this is sadly more of the same from Tennessee Gas Pipeline.” According to a letter sent by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to regulatory agencies earlier this year: During the 300 Line Extension Project, in 28 out of 38 “Environmental Compliance Monitoring Program Weekly Summary Report[s]” that were provided on FERC’s website, at least one recorded incident was reported where an activity did not come into “compliance with Project specifications, mitigation measures, and applicable FERC-approved Project plans.” Out of 16 inspections conducted by the Wayne County Conservation District during the 300 Line Extension Project, violations were found in no less than 15 of the inspections. The Pike County Conservation District cited numerous violations during the 300 Line Extension Project including, but not limited to: 17 instances of dirt and sediment being discharged into water bodies, 7 violations for worksite conditions, and 21 instances of failure to properly institute Best Management Practices for erosion and sediment control.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Free eBooks on Amazon -- Friday and Saturday

All of my epublications will be free in the Kindle store on Friday May 11 and Saturday May 12. Click Here to view all the titles now available.

There are five of them available -- two novels (Broadway Vampire and The Moon of Innocence), two stage scripts Ukulele Land and Lord Byron's Coda) , and a long short story (MashUp)

The Kindle app is available for free download. Click Here to see the Amazon page with more info. You can read the Kindle format on your phone, your tablet, PC, laptop, and Kindle ereader.

Don't panic if you miss this offer. Most titles are only 99 cents as ebooks.

Happy reading!