Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 31 — WATERLOO
Current mood: Heroicly sated
Category: Heroicly sated Life

Okay, I’m fifty-eight — the same age as Meryl when she filmed Mamma Mia.  I saw the play up in Toronto, and I really liked it, so I wonder if I am going to enjoy the film version.  But it’s a Thursday afternoon on my “staycation”, and it’s pouring gallons of buckets of cats and dogs with some water buffalos thrown in, just to make this screwy summer weather even screwier, so I hit the theater.  I pay the $7 matinee price…which was the price for seven movies when I qualified for “Under 13 pays $1”.  But everything is relative.  My mom tells me she used to go to the movies for a dime for the whole day.  Who knows, maybe $7 will seem like a bargain in a couple of more election cycles.

But I’m in my seat in the semi-darkness, and I’ve got my $12 worth of popcorn and soda.  I’m thinking about how I could maybe open a black-market popcorn and soda stand just outside the theater and quit my day job when the screen finally comes to life.  I survive the 15 minutes of commercials (wondering why my $7 admission didn’t exempt me from such fodder) and the music starts. 

Meryl and I are the same age, but I’m considering that she is freakin’ awesome playing a part that is twenty years too young for her and still pulling it off — jumping around the Greek inn, running along the dock, being a Dancing Queen.  The movie’s okay, but Meryl steals the show.  When she sings “The Winner Takes It All” to Pierce Brosnan on the steps of that gorgeous Greek island with the sunset in the background, pouring out her heart, I actually cry. 

The crying is why everything else happens. 

While the credits are rolling, I dab at my eyes with my buttery salty popcorn fingers.  The salt burns and I start to feel the sharp pain I get when something is under my contact.  For those who don’t wear contacts, it’s somewhere between having your cornea peeled off with a pair of tweezers and dripping hydrochloric acid into your pupil.  Either way, my eye is burning and I stumble to the nearest bathroom. 

Through my salt haze, I don’t notice it’s the employee bathroom.  Or that it’s “Closed for Maintenance”.  I rush to the sink, yank out my contact, gush water into my palm, and thank God that I live in a spot on the globe that has hot and cold running water. 

With my contact seated firmly back on my eyeball, I heave a sigh of relief and turn away from the mirror.  And stare at the small circle of half-naked men and women sitting yoga style atop what appears to my non-trained, salt-free eyes, to be a pile of explosive materials.  It’s not conclusive, but the wires, strange liquid tanks, digital timer (there’s always a timer!) and slightly acrid smell clue me in.  Like something you would see on TV or in a movie.  Except it would be somebody like Matt Damon or Angelina Jolie confronting the bomb, not fifty-eight-year-old me. 

“We are the Children of America”, a guy wearing what might double for a loincloth in a Tarzan movie, says to me, as they all join hands and stare at me.  “This room is closed for maintenance.”

“I had something in my eye…” I offer, checking out the digital readout.  It says “93”.  I wonder briefly if it’s minutes or seconds, until it flips to “92” and then “91”. 


“We are protesting the effect of America’s entertainment industry on the world’s morals,” Tarzan continues, shifting on his explosive perch enough for me to see more of his business than I care too at the moment. 

“By blowing up the theater?” I say, my eyes darting to the hand dryer, the soap dispenser, the mirror.  There are NO weapons in reach. 

“Well, actually, more like the whole block,” he smiles, a crooked, toothy grin, that tells me his parents’ didn’t believe in corrective dental surgery. 

I look again at the timer, which now reads “68”.  I have a little over a minute to act.  But what can I do?  My boss keeps sending jobs to India; my knees hurt when I get out of bed each morning, even when I take my glucosomine; my DVR deleted three episodes of Monk without asking me.  Maybe the American way isn’t worth saving, I allow the defeatist thought to float by. 

Only for a moment.

Because then I think of Abba singing WATERLOO; I think of my spitz-husky, Cooper, waiting at home for his supper; and I think of Meryl, at fifty-eight, racing through that Greek town singing DANCING QUEEN loud enough to blow a computer speaker.  Pride, anger, and indignation rise in equal quantities in my chest.

“Hey, Children of America,” I shout.  They all turn my way, still holding hands.  “Just because we’ve put out some dogs like “X-Files: I Want to Believe” is no reason to give up on American entertainment.  We also put out “Sophie’s Choice”, “The Sound of Music”, and “Nine to Five”, thank you very much!”

“I like “The Sound of Music”,” one of the girls to his right pipes up.

“Shut up,” he barks at her.  He turns his focus to me, breaks from the circle, and approaches.  He’s taller standing up, and muscular enough to make me rethink my position.  “So you believe American values should continue to pervert the global culture?” he asks, flexing his biceps.  The crooked front teeth have kiwi seeds stuck in them, I note. 

The readout is now “41”.

“Well,” I say, easing toward the first stall, “it depends on your definition of perversion.  For me, blowing up a movie theater ranks pretty high up there.” 

  He kicks out at my crotch but I anticipate him.  With visions of Meryl storming the Greek citadel, I dive sideways and scream “LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME!”

I reach into the stall and yank the predictably loose toilet seat from the top of the john.  It comes off cleanly in my hand, forming a large horse-shoe shaped weapon.  I’m good at horseshoes. 

Tarzan rushes me.

“TAKE YOUR CHANCE BUT BELIEVE ME!” I holler, swinging the hard-plastic seat at his skull.  The resounding crack brings him to a hard stop on the cold tile floor. 

“‘CAUSE IT’S TRUE!  I LOVE AMERICA!” I shout, whipping the horseshoe-shaped seat at the bomb’s digital timer (Did I mention I’m good at horseshoes?) I briefly see the number 22 blink and disappear, as a small cloud of smoke drifts lazily toward the flourescent lights above.

“I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO!” I finish the song, screaming at the Children of America.  They stare at me and blink.  The conscious ones, anyway.

Later, I love that MEET THE PRESS starts a blog about my patriotism; I love that OLDER AMERICAN features me in their “Fifty and Fit” anthology; I even love that Hollywood Boulevard dedicates a star to me — dubbing me “The Heart of American Entertainment”. 

But it’s the invite to a one-on-one evening with Meryl Streep in her own home –“Bring Cooper along!” she says, laughing that sweet, throaty laugh — that makes me feel truly heroic. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.



Currently   listening :
  Release date: 2001-07-02     

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 30 — DRUNK
Category: Life

Okay, I’m nineteen and they are changing the drinking laws tomorrow.  Today, I’m old enough to drink legally. Tomorrow, when the state’s fiscal year kicks in, my sip of beer will be a matter for the courts.  So today, I stock up.

I’m actually sipping vodka — Grey Goose Citron, which sounds like something I would like, because I like lemonade…but it doesn’t really taste like lemonade, it’s just bitter vodka like everything other alcohol.  I bought a full liter bottle (which set me back $30) but considering that it’s my last vodka for two years, when I become “street legal” once again, I decide that it’s worth it.

I’ve squeezed some sugar and lemon into my Grey Goose Citron, to make it seems more lemonade-y…since I’m really too young to be drinking such things, and it’s much too strong to taste good.  I only succeed in making it less bitter, but, as I’ve learned since I turned nineteen and began to drink legally, it gives me the pleasant buzz that I crave — the one that helps me forget that I’m different from everybody else.  And that I don’t know how to tell anybody that.  

I’m camping with my high school friends.  We’re at my parents’ cottage on the smallest lake in the my state — only thirty feet deep, only one mile long — but a lake, nonetheless.  My friends are making a campfire near the shore, of course carrying on about which girls from college they want to pork.  I have no such desires and, with the numbing distance of the alcohol, I’m considering telling Bob, my high school heart’s desire, that he is my high school heart’s desire.  Bob with his large, masculine hands that give me a backrub whenever we’re hanging out in his bedroom in front of the drum set.  Bob with the ruddy outdoorsman tan even in the middle of winter.  Bob with the brown eyes that threaten to swallow me whole every time he stares into my face and smiles.

All of which will probably shock them, but ‘what the hell’, I think, through my tipsy reasoning.

That’s when all actual hell breaks loose by the campfire.  I have stepped away behind a tree to do that thing that men do in the woods behind trees, when the guys started screaming.  I finish quickly and hurry back, to see them cornered in the cottage’s maintenance alcove by the largest black bear I’d ever seen.

We’d read all the warnings when we drove through town: BLACK BEARS SPOTTED IN VICINITY — SECURE ALL FOOD ITEMS. We’d even listened as the old farmer at the gas pump told us how he’d spotted two or three bears near his cow-barn the previous week.  “I gave ’em a blast from ol’ Sam,” he said, patting the shotgun that hung at the rear of his truck’s cab.  “That gave ’em somethin’ to think about besides tearin’ into my cattle.”

But we’d been to the cottage lots of times — in winter, with our cross-country skiis, in spring with our rubber raft, in summer with our cases of beer, and in fall, with our school sweatshirts and Yahtzee board — and the only invaders we’ve spotted have been flying ants.  So we pay little attention to the old farmer or the warning signs.  

But now we’re here and we’re drunk on this last day of drinking and a black bear has trapped my dearest friends — including Bob. 


I’m normally kind of shut down on rage — but Grey Goose Citron has empowered my expression.  A bear is threatening Bob.  The guy whose mental image keeps me from crying when my dad is stumbing up to bed after chewing me out.  I don’t need to know any more.

In a split-second, an episode from Scooby Doo runs through my head.  I was only five when I saw it, and I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but Shaggy and Scooby charmed some ferocious animal with classical music.  I consider I might do the same. 

“YAAAAHHHHHEEEE!” I scream (a very masculine, gutteral yaaaaahhhhhee — at least it seems that way to me) and I slap at the play button on the boom box. Unfortunately, it’s not classical music loaded in the player, it’s my PURE DISCO disk.  “I Will Survive”, by Gloria Gaynor, blasts into the night lake air.  The bear turns to look at the commotion. 

Something inside me snaps.  Maybe it’s seeing Bob backed flat against the cement blocks of the cottage maintenance area — maybe it’s the way the bear kind of reminds me of my dad and his belt when he’d had a couple of Tom Collins — or maybe it’s just the inspiration of great dance music mixed with great vodka.  Whatever the cause, I leap on top of the nearby picnic table and begin to taunt the wild animal. 


The bear looks at me and grunts.

“AND I LEARNED HOW TO GET ALONG!”  I shout into his face.


The bear abandons my friends and comes at me.

“OH NO, NOT I!” I scream at him.  Grabbing the half-empty Citron bottle, I shove it straight-forward into the bear’s open gullet.  The clear liguid glug-glugs down his throat as he swats a massive paw at my midriff.  I dive sideways, motioning to my friends to retreat. 

“I WILL SURVIVE!” I wail into the night, dancing and feinting back and forth for several minutes, avoiding his advances as I leap across the table, around the trees, down toward the dock, the bear lumbering along, swiping and growling, becoming more and more unsteady with each step, until he finally pitches sideways onto the ground.  Breathing heavily, he lies there wheezing, another Grey Goose Citron drunk.

Later, after the local veterinary clinic picks him up (he gives a grand burp when they lift him into the transport van), after the lake association interviews me for an article in the local paper, “Lakeside Letters”, after my other friends have returned to their parents’ houses,

Bob hangs behind at the cottage with me alone, rubbing my back, whispering over and over how grateful he is.


For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff...



Currently   listening :
  Pure Disco  
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 1996-10-08     

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 29 — WICKED
Current mood: wicked
Category: wicked Life

I’m twenty nine — which gets me lots of age jokes — and listening AGAIN to the Wicked soundtrack from the Tony Award-winning play.  I’ve listened to it about a hundred times since I saw the traveling show, and my friends are now threatening intervention if I don’t switch back to some of my regular music — like Sheena Easton or Pet Shop Boys.  I just nod and turn up the volume.

I’m heading down Park   Ave. on my lunch hour with my headphones on, so I’m kind of tuning out the people who are walking all around me.  Except the guys who have their shirts off, but that goes without saying.

It’s one of those excruciatingly humid summer days…when, if I was 17, I’d spend the day by my mom’s pool with a Stephen King book and a six-pack of Country-Time lemonade.  But I’m 29, so I’m here on Park Ave. with only enough time on my lunch hour to take a walk around the ‘hood, grab an orange smoothie from my favorite cafe, and dream about “Defying Gravity” like Elphaba.

That’s when the people all around me start grabbing their ears, falling to the ground, and tearing off their clothes.  Shooting across the sky, then hovering, a thin guy wearing a yellow/green full-body suit a la Freddie Mercury appears above us, standing on some round flying device (it looks like a big upsidedown frisbee) laughing at the crowd writhing in pain below him.  Noting that his suit is a little tighter around the crotch than would be decent in polite company, I recognize him as “SoundByte”, our state’s most notorious conservative criminal, who overpowers any citizens he perceives as “liberals” with an incapacitating electronic sonar device.  Gays are at the top of his list.

He traditionally knocks them out with his excruciating sonic signal, then steals their cash and their clothing.  He’d victimized nearly every section of our vastly-liberal community (with the exception of the nudist beach).  Citizens hate and fear him. 

Staring up at his sinister sneer, I realize that I must be immune to his weapon due to my KOSS sound-blocking ear-bud headphones — and the extra loud decibels that I use when I’m listening to Wicked.  That’s when he locks eyes with me.  I see his mouth drop open in surprise that I’m still standing — and still clothed.  He reaches down and turns up a dial on some device strapped to his waist.  A piercing electronic buzzing tries to seep into my ears.  I grab my Treo and turn the volume up three more notches, as “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” screams in my ears.  Better that than what this villain has planned for me. 

When he perceives that I’m still unharmed, his head begins to shake with the kind of crazy rage you only see in movies like Clockwork Orange or Pulp Fiction.   I know that I (an probably most of the now-naked citizens lying around on the nearby ground) am toast if I don’t do something.  

The upsidedown frisbee begins to spin and dip, bringing SoundByte down almost face to face with me.  He’s got a look in his eyes that reminds me of a kid on the playground in third grade who beat another kid with his fist until the knuckles were gushing blood. 

I think about panicking.  But since most of the liberal/lunch-hour/Park Ave. citizens today are mostly handsome and well-built young men, who are now naked all around me, I am absurdly comforted.  A surge of adrenaline flushes through me.  That’s when I get the idea.  It just might save my life, so I actually laugh out loud, which only makes the protruding veins on his neck pump and throb. 

“You are DEAD,” I read his lips as he pulls two pulsing discs from a pouch near his crotch.  I can only imagine what pain they will cause me.  I don’t intend to find out. 

“Al Gore really won the 2000 election!” I scream over the sound of the Broadway soundtrack in my ears and dive hard to the right — directly through the doorway of our local “green” store.  Rolling a perfect somersault, I land on my feet and run to the far corner of this store I visit often.  If they still have the “Space Chamber” set up, I know I have a chance.

SoundByte can’t fit his frisbee-flyer through the doorway, so he hops off and rushes in behind me.  It delays him for only a moment — but it’s enough. 

As he tears down the aisle with the pamphlets on solar panels and sod rooftops, I squirt gobs of natural bee honey — from the 5-gallon barrel next to the checkout —  onto the floor.  It’s sticky enough to have the desired effect. SoundByte screams (although I only see his mouth move, because Elphaba and Glinda are now belting out “I Have Been Changed For Good” in my ear-buds) and slides through the bee honey, then flips, then lands in the green-energy Space Chamber display.  It’s been set up to demonstrate how radiant energy can transverse space in the absence of air — AND SOUND.  In a second, I’ve slammed the chamber’s solid hatch closed.  Only then do I dare to turn off the music to my headphones.  Although I can’t hear him — for sound requires air to transmit — through the smoked glass in the center of the hatch, I sense SoundByte’s silent shrieks.  I see him gasp for breath as I use my Treo to dial 9-1-1. 

When I’m convinced the police are on their way, I restart my favorite Broadway soundtrack and, watching the veins in SoundByte’s neck turn a cool blue inside the airless chamber, sing out loud “No One Mourns The Wicked”. 

I’ll let him out before he suffers permanent damage.

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Or just come BLOG with me at Jupiter’s Blog:  http://s201469902.onlinehome.us/


Currently listening :
  Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
  By Stephen Schwartz
  Release date: 2003-12-16     

Monday, June 23, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 28 — BROADWAY
Current mood: in a New York state of mind
Category: in a New York state of mind Life

So I’m thirty-four and heading down to NYC to see a Broadway show.  Maybe Mamma Mia.  Maybe Wicked.  I don’t actually have tickets — my plan is to get in the “will call” line of some hit show and look pitiful enough for someone to actually take pity and sell me a ticket. 

It’s pouring, so I consider that standing in any line will be painful.  I pray for a wide awning.

I’m driving instead of flying, so I pay my toll at the Lincoln Tunnel and begin the game of “Frogger” on the streets of New   York.  The traffic is fierce; it’s Thursday evening and all the bustle of “tomorrow is Friday so we have to get everything done today” chokes even the little side streets.  Especially with the rain, that seems even more thunderous between the skyscrapers.  

I cut from the Roosevelt freeway down 42nd Street (singing the song in my head) trying to get close enough to Times Square that I won’t get soaked walking up the Avenue.  The digital clock on my dashboard is reading 7:23, so I’m starting to stress about my chances of getting a ticket to ANY show.  Or even getting to the theater on time.  I consider bagging the whole thing and just heading back home when I accidentally clip a pedestrian with the very tiny deer whistle that sticks out an extra inch on my front bumper. 

He goes down, out of sight over the dashboard.  I hop out of the car.  “Are you okay?”  I gasp, trying not to mentally calculate the dollars in the lawsuit he’s going to take out against me, the Honda Corporation, and the manufacturer of the deer whistle.  I also regret that I never believed in umbrellas — but that’s a secondary concern at the moment. 

He looks startled, but not hurt.  “I think so,” he says, standing up.  His umbrella (which he obviously believes in) is a mangled stump underneath my right front tire.  That’s when I realize it’s none other than Matthew Broderick, star of “The Producers” and “War Games.” 

We both stare at his ruined umbrella as the rain continues.

“I gotta get uptown fast,” he shouts at me over the crack of thunder.  “I’ll never get a cab in this weather.” 

“My carsa su carsa,” I joke, hoping my friendly humor will reduce the size of his settlement.  We get in.

“I’m Greg,” I say, wondering if it’s too early in the trip to ask for his autograph.  I fiddle with the heat controls, trying to keep the windows from fogging up — which I’m SURE is the reason I accidentally strike the second pedestrian.  I hope out again, mortified. 

Lying in the street in front of my car, it’s none other than Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.”  “Are you okay?” I scream into the monsoon. 

“Just get me uptown,” she hops up and into my car.

My hands tremble as I introduce my two passengers and head north.  It’s probably the fact that I keep glancing in my rear-view mirror that I gently strike the third pedestrian. 

“Ahhh!” I shriek and throw the car into “Park”.  Before I can get the door all the way open, the guy pops up from the street and jumps into the back seat of my car.  It is none other than David Duchovny, my hero from “The X-Files.” 

“Uptown” he barks.

My mind is swimming like the torrent near the curbs.  I head uptown.  My three passengers chat amiably as I try to consider what to say to them — what polite thing do you say to your onscreen heroes in real life?  But I don’t get any words out before we pass 47th   Street.  “My stop!” Sarah yells.  I pull over and she slides a couple of tickets to a show my way.  “You’re a sweetheart,” she says, giving my cheek a peck and hopping out.

I drive north.  “Pull over!” Matthew yells and hops out, before I’m able to ask him about what it’s like to live with Sarah Jessica Parker.  He slaps a couple of tickets into my handshake.  “Come see the show sometime,” he says.

I continue driving up Broadway.  It’s my last chance to say something — anything! — to get my last passenger’s attention. 

“So do you keep in touch with Gillia–” I start to say.  His hand is already on the doorknob.

“My stop,” he grins at me and drops a couple of tickets on the front seat.  “Stay dry,” he says and steps away from my car.

I stay at the curb and kick myself for not even taking a digital picture of the three of them with my cell phone.  That’s when my car door opens for the fourth time that evening. 

“Can you give me a ride? I can’t get a cab in this weather!” says Christopher Meloni, staring hopefully into my face. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.



Currently listening :
  Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
  By Stephen Schwartz
  Release date: 2003-12-16     

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 27 — GEEK
Current mood: considering the needs of the many…
Category: considering the needs of the many… Life


Okay, I’m seventeen and working late at the used bookstore — the place with all the best Star Trek books by my fave comic book writers.  The kids at school call me a geek for doing it, but I just tune them out.  My own version of a modified universal translator. 

There’s only about 3 days left of school before summer break, so I am already feeling a little crazed, even before I had to work late.  It’s that summer-is-heating-up-and-all-the-guys-are-starting-to-go-shirtless kind of buzz in my head — and parts lower. 

I’m cataloging my favorite softcovers, the ones where Captain Picard makes the good speeches, Data locks out the Enterprise’s main computer, and Bev does some quick work in sickbay to save the day.  You get the picture. 

Just when I’m thinking that maybe I should move the episodes featuring Counselor Troi to a lower shelf, the window behind the counter explodes inward.  Pieces of glass shower the Sherlock Holmes and Stephen King shelves as I toppled off my three-step ladder.  Crashing hard on the Danielle Steel display, I ignore the searing pain and twist to look toward the counter area.  Two women with black clothes, black hats, and black crescents under their eyes (like football players) leap through the broken window frame. 

I stifle a scream — it’s Thelma and Lorraine, my city’s most notorious female cat burglar team!  They’re known on the street for stealing rare books; all of us on the used book circuit have read the flyer: “Do not approach! Consider this duo armed and dangerous. Call 911 immediately.”  Of course, there was that whole thing where people speculated whether they were lesbians or not — but I never really got involved with that. 

“We’ve got company,” Lorraine sneers, looking directly at me.  “Whattaya think, Thel?”

I scurry backwards toward the sci-fi section as Thelma approaches.  “I dunno, Lor,” she says in a throaty tone that lets me know she smokes at least a pack a day.  “He looks kinda flimsy,” she says, kicking out with a black sneaker at my crotch.  I throw myself sideways and her foot misses me entirely, landing instead on the rare Mister Spock cardboard cut-out our shop acquired last year.  The autographed cut-out.  Her blow takes off Mister Spocks cardboard hand, raised in Vulcan greeting.  

Now I’m known around the store for being a bit mousey — even if someone insults Levar Burton’s acting ability, or imitates William Shatner’s singing — but this is an entirely different matter.  This cut-out is signed by Leonard Nimoy himself.  I was the one who waited in line at the United Federation of Fans Convention for almost two hours to get it.  And now this unthinking bitch has ruined it in less than ten seconds.  

Something from deep within me erupts.  It’s my rage at the jocks on the playground who laughed when I wore my tricorder to school on Halloween.  It’s my rage at the girls who snapped the nacelles off my ninth-grade science fair exhibit: an independently assembled Enterprise model (with running lights and warp sound effects).  It’s my rage at the narrow-minded people who don’t want me and my boyfriend to think about a future where gay people can live in harmony with humanity — and the multiple races yet to be encountered.  And suddenly, without processing through it (like every other emotion in my life), my rage has found a focus. 

With a howl worth of a Klingon mating ritual, I leap off the floor at Thelma, cracking the ladder across her skull before she’s had a chance to hurl a smoke-breath curse in my direction. 

Lorraine pulls back behind a row of Nancy Drew books.  “What the fuck–” she yells as I spin to face her.  We stare at each other across the yellow spines for almost ten seconds.  Long enough for me to identify the cylindrical shape stuffed into her crotch.  Her trademark swiss blade; the flyer warned me about that as well.

It all happens at once: she reaches toward the buldge in her pants; I grab a hard-cover William Shatner novel (we’ve stacked them on the counter to try to get them to move); now I’m flinging it with frisbee-like precision; now it cracks her across the nose and blood showers the scene; now she’s down next to Thelma and I’m using duct tape to secure their arms behind their backs. 

Even after the police award me a medal for my bravery, even after America’s Most Wanted sets up the shooting schedule for my feature story in their “Apprehended” series,  it’s actually the call from Leonard Nimoy himself that I most treasure. 

“You know, back in the Sixties, people used to sometimes call Spock a geek,” he laughs over the line.  “But I never let it get me down.”

“I hear ya, Leonard,” I say, as a smile consumes the lower half of my face.      

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 26 — FURY

I’m sixteen and camping with my high school buddies in the forest down by my parent’s cottage.  My loyal spitz-husky, Cooper, has to stay home, otherwise the ground burrs and cottonwood fluff weave themselves permanently into his furry Eskimo coat.

I just got my permanent driver’s license, so this is our first excursion in a motor vehicle with just “the guys”.  Joe, Pani, and my best friend, Guy, all pile into my ’97 Plymouth Fury (at 216,000 miles, it cost me $1200 bucks of my Starbucks earnings…but the engine runs good.  And it’s got a great stereo.)

It’s not one of those camp sites with electricity and bathrooms — it’s parking the car on the loggers’ road and hiking for about a half hour through the leafy brush to set up tents.  Making jokes about the Blair Witch the whole way, we find a clearing and set up shop.

As the sun heads toward evening and dusk, Joe works on the fire pit while Guy prepares the chicken kabobs.  Pani scouts for firewood.  I use my camera phone (a Palm Treo 755p with a maroon skin) to take pictures and chronicle the event (getting more than my share of Guy’s muscular pecs — in real life, he’s just my best friend, but inside my mind, he’s a whole lot more…) That’s when the scene erupts: from both the right and left, four guys in prison uniforms break out of the forest and start punching us! Too late, I recall the warning we heard on the car’s radio: FOUR CONVICTS, IN JAIL FOR RUNNING A CHILD PORNOGRAPHY RING, BUST OUT OF JAIL IN AN UPSTATE TOWN.  THEY MAY BE ARMED AND CONSIDERED DESPERATE. 

“Mack, tie ’em up,” the tallest con barks at his buddy, a chubby white guy with a sinister sneer. 

“Mack” uses our tent ropes to bind all eight of our wrists together in one big, nasty knot. “Okay, Billy.” 

“Hey, these boys look pretty fresh,” a third con laughs, a harsh, gravelly sound, as he looks us over.  “Maybe we can use ’em in our next flick,” he spits out. “That is, if they got anything under the hood,” he says, kicking at Guy’s crotch. I hear my best friend, my secret crush, give a high-pitched wail, a sound that should never emit from a man’s throat, and the blood in my veins moves from a slow burn to a full-pitched boil. 

What the four porno kings don’t know is that I’ve studied “The Hardy Boys’ Detective Handbook”.  Studied it extensively.  What they don’t know is that I’ve rehearsed abduction scenarios in my head.  What they don’t suspect is that I’ve positioned my wrists so I can reach my Treo’s stylus and have used it to pick through the tent rope while they launch another kick at my sweet friend’s manhood.  What they can’t dream is that I’ve spent almost three years trying to bottle up the rage of being gay and wanting something I’m not sure I can have, and that my righteous, furious frustration at the Catholic Church’s edicts, at President Bush’s gay marriage policies, at the guys who hang around the school showers and snap their towels at unsuspecting butts and yell “FAG SWAT!” 

They can’t know any of this…but that’s too bad for them. 

Before the gravelly voiced con’s foot connects a second time with Guy’s package, I free myself and leap in one movement.  Giving a howl worthy of Tarzan, I bring the heel of my hiking boot down onto Gravel-Voice’s ankle.  I hear a satisfying ‘snap’ even before he starts screaming in pain.  Guy, Joe, and Pani all stare at me as I am everywhere at once: kicking, punching, delivering blows as I learned in the Handbook — maximizing the element of surprise at their disbelief that a single sixteen year-old boy can be this ferocious.  The chubby one is down; the third con is down; finally, it’s just me and the tall one, the leader. 

I stand in front of him, my legs slightly apart, my right foot slightly forward (the Handbook taught me it’s the most stable stance).  “So what’s it’s gonna be, BILLY-GOAT,” I goad him.  “You want a piece of me, too?”

“Oh, you’re gonna be my piece,” Billy growls, launching a full-frontal attack.  I’m ready for him; through my fury I mentally calculate his speed and weight.  As he lunges for me, I grab a low-hanging branch from the forest above us.  He can’t stop; I swing easily over his head as he grabs at empty air.  My swing arcs backwards.  I connect my hiking boot with the back of Billy’s head and kick with all the might of oppressed homosexuality. 

He goes down.

Afterwards, as Joe, Pani, and Guy use the tent ropes to security tie Billy, Gravel-Voice, Chubby, and the last con, I use my Treo to call 911 (I’m able to get a signal on “Roaming”.) 

As Joe and Pani guard the bad guys, as we wait for the cops to arrive (with the $10,000 reward money), I take a seat next to Guy on a fallen log just out of earshot of the others.  Guy looks over at me, tears just beginning to form in the edges of his eyes.  “Greg, I was gonna tell you this tonight in the tent, but after all this, I want to tell you now.  Just in case…in case something happens.” 

“What is is?” I ask my dearest friend, looking deep into his cola-brown eyes.

“I love you,” he whispers, looking at me, half smiling, half crying.  

For FUN, I put my stuff at http://www.GregoryGerard.net

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at http://www.JupitersShadow.com

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 25 — FORTY-TWO
Current mood: Alien
Category: Alien Life

Okay, I turned forty-two this week which, if I were twenty-one, would only be half as much fun.  But I am forty-two, so I head out to have a night on the town.  Cooper, my furry spitz-husky, trails behind as he is known to do, sniffing at the bushes and bags of grass clippings at the curb. 

The lilacs are in full bloom — it’s been just cold enough out that they’ve stayed in bloom for over a week.  Which is great, ’cause they are still around for my birthday, which seemed questionable seven days ago. 

I wander toward the East End — my town’s collegy hot spot.  While I walk, I talk to Cooper about the Web site I want to put up with famous quotes of things that I made up, things like “Gay men are like teenagers with money” and “Sleeping is like roasting on a spit — you just turn over and over until you are good and done.” 

But I only get halfway through my idea when we are stopped in the middle of the planetarium parking lot.  Something is flashing at the top of the dome on the planetarium — the place where every first-grader in my city goes to learn about the stars and see “Little Green Arrow” point out the constellations. 

Tonight, it’s not Little Green Arrow, it’s disco-dancing aliens.  Not figuratively, literally. There are six or seven little green men dancing around on the top of the planetarium dome.  They’re wearing high heels, I note without thinking.  In the background, I hear Irene Cara’s “Flashdance, What a Feeling” booming.

“What the f?” I say to Cooper, curbing my language in front of my puppy-dog.  He begins to bark furiously. 

The six (or seven) little green men, who I now realize are NOT green, they are more like a brownish-beige, all stop dancing and stare at me.  Too late, I recognize that they are not here to celebrate, they are actually using their disco ritual to poke miniscule holes in the roof of the planetarium.  It’s an insidious plot to confuse all of the first graders of my town.  By poking holes in the planetarium’s roof, the stars will appear distorted and malformed for all of the subsequent tours.  Of course, this misinformation to my city’s youth will give these aliens an edge up when they try to dominate earth in the years to come.

With a tremendous cry, I rush at the curved roof of the planetarium, preparing to save my city from this ominous threat.  Cooper, sensing my forty-two year old physical limitations, rushes ahead and knocks various barriers out of my running path — a traffic cone, a discarded banana peel, a crumpled map of the Andromeda Galaxy.  In one daring leap, I clear the grassy knoll at the edge of the parking lot and scramble up the outside of the planitarium’s shell.

The seven (or six) aliens are prepared for my frontal assault — they pull three hefty laser-like guns from beneath their web-like clothing and take aim.  “Cooper, now!” I yell, managing, even with my forty-two year old knees, a quick dive to the right, with a duck and roll.  Cooper, at my command, bites cleanly through the main power cable feeding the entire campus.  Darkness descends like a blanket as laser blasts shoot wildly through the night.

It’s not clear to me later just how I managed to get the six (there were six, actually, not seven — I counted when I shoved them through the portal of their tiny pod-ship) aliens subdued.  It had something to do with their laser shots giving away their location, their natural aversion to pre-1980 disco music (I blasted “Dancing Queen” by Abba from my Palm Treo — it brought them to their knees) and Cooper’s enthusiastic barking, which appeared to disrupt their mental processes (but I’ll cut ’em some slack on that one — Cooper’s continued barking can interrupt MY mental processes if left unchecked). 

Regardless of the exact details, within the hour, all six of them were rocketing back past the outer rings of Saturn, cursing the day they’d ever visited Earth. 

After the planetarium society repaired their roof, after the mayor and state’s democratic senator congratulated both of us (the republican senator refused to attend, saying encouraging such aggressive tactics on public property only led to higher taxes and larger government) I turn to Coop.  “Let’s go get some birthday ice cream, Boy” I say, heading for the blizzard stand on Park   Ave.  “After all, we’re not getting any younger!”

His tail wags in enthusiastic agreement.

    For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently listening :
  ABBA – Gold:   Greatest Hits
  Release date: 1993-09-21     

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 24 — SINK HOLE 

Current mood: Loving that Cooper!

Category: Loving that Cooper! Life



I’m fifty-three and gardening.  We’ve hit a record high today (eighty-six degrees) so, even though it’s April, I’m wearing shorts.  My knees dig into the warm earth and it feels fine to be alive.  My tough-acting, tender-hearted husky, Cooper, sniffs around the early season tulips nearby. 


I just have a small city garden — nothing like the big patch out behind the barn I had as a kid.  But I still like planting my own tomatoes and zucchini and, if I can keep the squirrels out, strawberries. 


I’m just turning the soil with my trowel when a sound like what I imagine an avalanche must sound like engulfs me.  I vaguely hear furious barking as I, my trowel, my six-inch Beefsteaks, and Cooper get sucked into the ground.  Not just falling — there’s actually a sucking sound to the swirl of dirt around us.  Too late, I realize we have fallen prey to my city’s most recent scourge: subterranean sink holes.  They’ve been cropping up all over in the wake of this unnaturally warm spring.


We juggled back and forth violently for a few seconds, going down and down, and it’s dark, and now colder, and I’m coughing.  Then we kind of mush-more-than-hit into what must be the bottom of a sink hole — in this case, a mucky mixture of dirt, groundwater, and last year’s tomato vines.


As one might imagine might happen in a sink hole, I begin to sink. 


“Cooper!” I shout, as my knees slowly disappear into the muck. There’s enough light coming down from the sunny, eighty-six-degree day above that I can make out shapes and, as the dirt-dust settles, bones.  Dead people’s bones.  I see pelvises, skulls, and several arms and legs.  They are not white and polished like you’d see on TV — they are spotted and creepy.  The ground is choked with them as far as I can see.


“Cooper!” I am screaming now. 


My black-and-white husky pops into view across what I’ve decided must be some underground burial cavern.  I see that the ground is mucky under him, too, but with his four short legs, he’s having better luck doing a half-scramble, half-doggie paddle.  Somehow, he’s staying on top of the sludge.


My knees are completely gone, and the ground is now threatening to engulf more sensitive areas.  Areas that men prefer not to have threatened.


I try to throw my body sideways (I read somewhere that you have a better chance in quicksand if you are horizontal) but I’m only partly successful.  Now my right hip and elbow are disappearing. 


Cooper reaches my side, assesses the situation, and barks in rapid, spit-fire fashion.  If we were in the house, I’d think he wanted a snackie.  But here, at the bottom of a creepy graveyard/sink hole, I’m having trouble reading him.   


He gives up on me and makes his way to the nearest pile of bones — somebody’s rib cage.  Clamping it in his jaws, he drag-swims it to my side. I grab at the mass of bone and cinch my arms around them. 


My sinking slows.  Now I get what Cooper’s trying to tell me.


“The bones aren’t sinking!  Fetch, Boy, get the bones, get me more bones!” 


I sense Cooper’s desire to roll his eyes at my command — to let me know that he’s way ahead of me.  He continues the difficult work of negotiating the cavern bottom, dragging bone after bone to my side.  The pile grows exponentially as I help out — tearing my shirt into strips and using them to lash the bones together, forming a makeshift lattice. Together, after much excruciating work on both our parts, Cooper and I are able to make a tall enough bone pile to scramble up to freedom.


Later, after we lay gasping in the warm sunlight for a good long time, but before I take a shower and call the city’s sink hole hotline, I mix some of Cooper’s most favorite snacks in his food bowl and invite him to partake. 


He barks appreciatively.      


    For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I’m nineteen and wondering if I spelled nineteen right.  My mom passed away last month, so I’m kind of riding as low as a guy at nineteen can ride.  But it was peaceful and special and I was there with her at the end, so the lowness feels profound and high somehow.  Those are the thoughts on the first day I’ve ever had to file taxes in my life. 

I fill out the EZ form — my job at the publishing house (okay, disbursement clerk isn’t exactly being an author, but it’s one step closer to my dream) only earned me $17,000, but it’s enough to put me in the rat race. 

I seal the form and head to the post office.  I’m not quite sure why I waited for the last day — but with the mom situation, I cut myself the appropriate slack.

There’s a line at the post office — the BIG post office downtown, the one where the clerks wear ties and look kind of like Alec Baldwin — so I stand and wait. That’s when the gunman shouts.

“ALLRIGHT, ALL YOU M*&THR-F*$#ERS, DIE FOR YOUR SINS OF PROCRASTINATION!” he screams and points something black, metal, and slender at us. 

I don’t scream like all the other people in line.  I don’t hit the cool linoleum floor like they do, either.  I don’t even tremble. 

Something about the way he yells “M*&THR-F*$#ERS” pushes just the right button inside me.  I was there with my mom; she is gone; he yells M*&THR-F*$#ERS.  It offends me to the core.

I drop my 1040EZ mailing envelope and hop onto the post office counter.  The one that has forms like “change of mailing address” in little cubby holes.  The gunman looks my way. 

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s not polite to curse in public?” I shout, whipping a stack of international mailing envelopes at him.  They shower the air and he shouts, waving the gun in a circular motion.  It’s like I feel, more than see, his finger tightening on the trigger. 

I don’t think, I just do.  My do includes a half-flip, half-Buffy-kick, as I land my nineteen-year-old bulk right on top of him.  He’s down before anybody can say the words “additional postage.”

Later, after the crowd has lifted me to their shoulders in salute, after CNN has compared me to Sylvester Stallone and Steven Segal, after I’ve put up a tribute page to my mom at www.JupitersShadow.com/tribute.html, one of the Alec Baldwin clerks calls me at home. 

“Somebody found your 1040EZ form on the floor of the post office.  I went ahead and post-marked it for April 15.  I hope that was okay with you.”

“That’s okay,” I smile through the phone.

“Maybe we could get together for dinner sometime and I could share with you some of the benefits of filing your taxes early,” he continues.

I’m almost sure he can see my grin through the line.  “I look forward to it,” I reply.

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 22 — SUPER

I’m twenty-two (twice as fun as eleven) and sipping my first martini.  I always thought they would be skanky, like something Darrin Stevens would serve Larry Tate from that crappy little wet bar they had next to the stairs.  But, to my overwhelming surprise, martinis made from vodka and fruit juice with a little plastic body of an elephant hanging from his trunk on the edge of my curvy glass are not only fun — they are tasty.  

I check out the crowd at this martini bar — The Vodka Volcano it’s called, because of the large, gas-fed fireplace in the center of the room — which recently opened so close to my apartment I can walk (or stumble, depending on how many of these overly expensive, non-skanky drinks I can afford) home.  Not only are the blazing fireplace and the martini warming my world (it’s about twelve degrees outside), but so is the guy in the corner seat, near the bowl of salty goldfish crackers.  I check out his Eighties hair and his semi-sad, just-needs-a-hug appeal and consider introducing myself.  

That’s when the bottles behind the bar begin to launch themselves at us. 

I’m thinking it’s an earthquake, but we don’t have them here on the East Coast.  Instead of debating the possibility, I dive under the bench where I’ve been sitting.  Incidentally, right next to Eighties-Hair Guy. 

The bottles explode against the far wall, spraying alcohol in every direction.  Over the screams from the bar patrons, I hear a low, evil chuckling.  

It’s not an earthquake.  It’s our city’s most notorious supercriminal, GlassArt, one of those really obnoxious villains who makes humorous quips while they chop up doggies or pulverize little old ladies.  He’s got all the powers a supercriminal needs: the ability to control anything made of glass.  I’m grateful I wore my thin-plastic contacts instead of my Coke-bottle lenses.

“So who wants to be part of the martini special tonight?” GlassArt laughs, pointing toward the dessert display case.  It shatters without hesitation, embedding chunks of clear death into the Chocolate Mousse, the Lemon-Swirl Cake, and the Raspberry Truffle. 

I’ve read about his dastardly pursuits, the stories of senseless violence toward gay men and women, small animals, and cub scouts.  But to witness this absolute destruction of sweet, sweet desserts caused something in my head to audibly snap. 

“What was that?” Eighties-Hair squeaks out.

“It’s the sound of ENOUGH,” I spit out, standing from beneath the bench.  I face the villainous creep, rage emanating from my pores like lime juice from a lime press.

“Hey, GlassFart, why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?  Except I don’t know if we have anybody around here who qualifies,” I smirk, waving my pinky in front of my face. 

The air in the room changes; it’s something everybody — the lady bartender, the six-odd couples in the dining area, and the Eighties-hair Guy — feels.  Almost like the electricity before a lightning bolt. 

“Say your last prayer, queer boy,” the supervillain rasps, as he slowly raises both of his arms. 

That’s when I laugh.  A quick, bold sound. “Do you know that glass turns to liquid at approximately 2400 degrees Fareheit?” I yell and leap at the same time, landing both feet in the center of his chest, driving him backwards into the volcano fireplace.  I slam the gas feed value up to the highest setting marked “Danger, May Melt Glass.” 

As GlassArt screams, I grab a bottle of Absolut and sprinkle it into the inferno.  It makes a pretty blue flame. 

Later, after the restaurant patrons give me a standing ovations, after the City Newspaper takes my picture next to the fireplace (holding the empty bottle of Absolut), after our city’s ineffective superhero, ButterCup, shakes my hand and whispers in my ear ‘You’ve saved a lot of lives tonight, Greg,’ I get ready to head home to my apartment. 

That’s when the Eighties-Hair Guy stops in front of me.  “Hey, man, that was pretty brave.  Can I buy you a martini?” 

Of course I agree.  In just a short time, more than the soothing vodka we’re soon sipping, more than the reactivated volcano fireplace, it’s his toothy smile that warms my heart.

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Mary Poppins (2005   Original London Cast)
  By Richard M. Sherman
  Release date: 13 September, 2005