Not Writing

Mail Call — Day 9

EDITOR’S NOTE: In and effort to entertain the newsroom, another photographer and I (who are now required to work in separate offices) have begun exchanging letters from the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I share them with you so that you may feel the love.


Dearest Rick,

Stay steadfast my perfect prince!!

Better days or most assuredly ahead!! You most possess the patience of Job and the fortitude of Rocky fighting the evil Russian with the ugly wife.

My adventure in right field, and the time I micturated in a water bottle while in my news unit we’re lowest of the lows, but you were my shining star that illuminated all that was good in the world.

Please forgive that goonish untucked shirt you call Private Slappy, he’s stressed about the birth of his first born and the ensuing DNA test.

Stand tall my steed, or on a box if that helps.

Life has 2 rules
1 Never quit
2 Always remember rule #1.

You’re always on my mind,

Left Eye Daquano
2nd Regime
69th Battalion

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Letters from the Front Line — Day 8

EDITOR’S NOTE: In and effort to entertain the newsroom, another photographer and I (who are now required to work in separate offices) have begun exchanging letters from the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I share them with you so that you may feel the love.


My Dearest Mr. Daquano,

By orders of General News, we have had to evacuate Forward Operating Base Frat House.

And by “we,” I mean Private Slappy and I. It is the result of some new-fangled Stay Put order from the governor.

Apparently, Captain Crank, Lance Corporal Houston, and Boot Duhe were trapped inside the facility as the order was given, and are now doomed to live out the rest of their lives is a squalid conference room that smells of stale beer and cheese poofie rations.

Pvt. Slappy and I were lucky to be outside the wire when the order was issued, hence, we are allowed to wander about, as long as we do no work. By the governor’s order, we may only do work while sitting in our respective homes, which these days are the cluttered confines of our separate horseless carriages.

Gen. News also has us using a new contraption which allows us to maintain safe distance when talking to people. He calls it a “boom.” But it’s nothing more than a long stick. I think it’s a clever ruse perpetrated by stick manufacturers to charge outrageous prices for otherwise common apparati. But in times like these, the News Division will spare no expense to deliver information to the public.

I assure you, Pvt. Slappy and I are doing everything within our powers to remain safe and infection free during these most miserable of times.

I do hope the Stay Put Order does not interfere with your Sunday garden parties. It is springtime. The flowers are in bloom and there is no better time to don a hoop skirt and mingle with the other southern belles over mint juleps and pimento sandwiches.

And, if it is not too forward for me to suggest, you are as pretty as pig nipples in your Sunday finery.

And speaking of pig nipples, I hope that Mr. No Hussle has not been a cause of irritation to your delicate temperament.

I know not when I will be released from my duties, but I count the hours until I can see your smiling face again be it in person or in my dreams.

With my deepest regards,

Sgt. T. Polisher
1st News Division
9th Battallion

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Letters from the Front Line — Day 5

EDITOR’S NOTE: In and effort to entertain the newsroom, another photographer and I (who are now required to work in separate offices) have begun exchanging letters from the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I share them with you so that you may feel the love.


My Dearest Mr. Daquano,

This morning has been a tumultuous foray into my deepest emotions.

My heart leapt for joy this morn. Upon entering the Mess Hall, (It’s actually a piece of weathered cypress stretched across two rusty garbage cans in the corner of our barracks.) mine eyes beheld the most glorious sight! It was almost like a dream.

Bananas! Perfectly ripened, and free from any defect!

I gently plucked one from the bunch and took my usual seat at the table. Gazing upon it’s lovely, jaundiced skin, I thought but one thought, “I wish my Dearest Mr. Daquano were here.”

As I stared wantonly upon our fruit of choice, I was joined by Private Slappy and the rest of the men. They began to hoot and holler like those men we spied peering into the viewer of the nickelodeons at the state fair.

They pounded their fists, and slapped my back. They cheered! They goaded.

Before I even knew what had happened, I found myself swallowing the banana like one of those tarts who roam the streets of North Baton Rouge plying their wares on lecherous men for a nickel and a meal.

Worse still, there is photographic evidence of my deed.


My emotions sank lower than I have ever known. My remorse knows no bounds. I have defiled our most precious tradition. And all I can do is plead for your forgiveness.

It brings me no joy to tell you these things. I tell you first to purge the sin from my soul, and second as a per-emptive strike lest you accidentally stumble upon those pictures while perusing your knitting sites on the internet.

Know that I am, and shall remain, eternally sorry for my lack of control and decorum, and I again beg your forgiveness.

My sincerest apologies,

Sargent T. Polisher,
1st News Division
9th Battalion

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Mail Call — Day 4

EDITOR’S NOTE: In and effort to entertain the newsroom, another photographer and I (who are now required to work in separate offices) have begun exchanging letters from the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I share them with you so that you may feel the love.


He wrote me back! I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl.

Dearest Rick,

Last night my eldest son, Jaelen, AKA “lil Wayne” asked me when Uncle Monkey was coming over again. Fighting back tears I gently took his hand and told him “I’m not sure buddy.”

A sad look happened upon his face as he turned around, cocked one leg up and gave a pretend fart. His shenanigans made me miss you even more.

It’s been quiet in the parking lot. I’ve discovered we have a new homeless person who walks up and down France street speaking loudly and incoherently. Some days I close my eyes and pretend it’s Meeks back from the island. Just to give me a taste of better days.


I’m so glad you clarified that it was actually a real cockroach that LCpl Houston killed and not Cpt. Crank, how sad would that be, despite a sure promotion for myself if he were to expire.

I yearn for the good old days when you would ask me to hold your calls, and make wise cracks about Nipsey No Hussle’s Protrusions 😞😞

Until I receive your next letter, you’re in my thoughts and occasional dreams.

Left Eye Daquano
3rd Division
69th Battalion

P.S it took me ten minutes to spell protrusions.

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Letters from the Front Line — Day 4

EDITOR’S NOTE: In and effort to entertain the newsroom, another photographer and I (who are now required to work in separate offices) have begun exchanging letters from the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I share them with you so that you may feel the love.Periplaneta_americana_Face_MD_Prince_Georges_county_2014-02-27-15.31.28_ZS_PMax.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-scaleMy Dearest Mr. Daquano,

Your last epistle brightened my spirits tremendously. I am greatly comforted knowing that you will continue to broaden your vocabulary in my absence.

The troops of Forward Operating Base Frat House are in the doldrums, today. Boot Duhe left the remnants of yesterday’s pie uncovered last night. This morning, Lance Corporal Houston found the largest cockroach I have ever seen perched atop a dollop of whipped cream, almost daring the Lance to knock him off.

So large a creature was he, that the terrified Boot Duhe made haste to exit the Mess Hall as if his hair were set ablaze.

Thankfully, in his tryptophan-induced stupor, the vile creature was too slow and dispatched with great ease. The cockroach, that is, not LCpl Houston.

The drudgery of FOB life has set in. Tonight, we plan a covert action against Captain Crank’s liquor cabinet. I cannot get into the specifics of the operation, but suffice it to say it involves a coupon and a crooked hat.

Until next I lay eyes upon you, I remain most sincerely yours,

Sargent T. Polisher
1st News Division
9th Batqallion.

Categories: Fun, news, Not Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Letters from the Front Line Day 3

EDITOR’S NOTE: In and effort to entertain the newsroom, another photographer and I (who are now required to work in separate offices) have begun exchanging letters from the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I share them with you so that you may feel the love.

My Dearest Mr. Daquano,

Lo, it has only been three days in quarantine, but it seems a lifetime since I have gazed on your gentle countenance.

Rations at Forward Operating Base Frat House are bountiful. Today, one of our members supplied us with cookies and cream pie from Elsie’s Pie-porium. It was the perfect ending to an otherwise boring ham and cheese sandwich. Still, I long for mornings when I can watch you deep-throat monkey food.

The men have settled in to a daily routine. We rise in the morning, receive our orders, bitch about our orders, then proceed to carry them out. Frankly, we think our generals could use a taste of battle now and then, but that might upset the chain of command, and confuse the the rest of the men.

I am quite pleased that the quality of our work has not suffered for our working conditions.

Today, Private Slappy and I had to confront a rather ferocious middle school principal. The woman said all the right things on camera, but we could feel the hatred she had for our kind seething just behind her gregarious smile.

Next, it was off to a contaminated home. Bravely, we entered without any protection to chat with a comely mother of two as she set about schooling her agnst-filled teenage daughter and precocious little one, all the while huddled in fear of the current cause of all our misery.

I hope the governor lifts his orders soon and we can all go back to being our happy newsroom again.

Until then, I think of you often, (especially when perusing the fresh fruit at the market on the rare occasion we are allowed to venture out) and I long for the day when I can hold you in my gaze again.

Sincerest regards,

Sargent Richard Portier
1st News Division
9th Batallion

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The Hunt for Snotsquache

You ever pull out a really big booger and find a hair in it?

Me neither.

820298517_1395116947Digging in your nose, that’s a disgusting habit. So disgusting, in fact, that people only do it when they’re locked in a room, all by themselves, and no one can see them. . . Or when they’re stuck in traffic.

What’s the rationale behind that? “I’m alone in my car. No one will ever see me here. I’m practically invisible. I’ll go knuckle deep after a nose nugget. As long as I don’t make eye contact, the hot blonde in the car next to me won’t see me through this thin layer of glass separating us.”

So, you go for it, tentative at first, with just the tip of your finger — maybe just your fingernail if you haven’t clipped them in a while. But it’s a slippery little booger, and it squirms a little deeper.

You check the blonde. She’s texting someone. Probably her boyfriend. Probably sending him a picture of the ogre picking his noes in traffic. You don’t care, this is war, and you’ve got a cliff hanger on the rim of your nasal cavity, so you go for it.
If successful, Budweiser will probably make a Real Men of Genius commercial about you. So you keep going until you scratch the inside of your eyeball, all the while, hoping like hell you don’t hit a bump and shove your finger through your brain and kill yourself.

 THAT would be embarrassing. Can you imagine that conversation between your distraught mother and the Emergency Room doctor?

Between deep sobs, you mom manages to gut out the question. “Doctor, how’d he die?”

The doctor shoves his hands deep into his pockets and sighs. “I’m sorry ma’am, it was a severe NPA. We did all we could, but we were too late.”

You mom peers through teary eyes, and a look of confusion washes over her face. “NPA?”

“Nose-Picking Accident. One of the worst I’ve ever seen. The force of his finger against the inside of his skull dislocated his second knuckle. That must have been on serious snot drop.”

Then, all of your friends would have to read that in your obituary the next day. Sad.

boogerBut right there, in traffic, not even the threat of eminent embarrassing death can deter you on your hunt for Snotsquache. When you extract your digit, victorious, you admire the green goo on your fingertip. The way it glistens in the beam of oncoming headlights. How could something so big come from such a small opening? And it hits you.

Now what?

It’s not like you can wipe it on anything. You’re in your car. If you were at a restaurant, you could scrape it off under the table like an old piece of gum. Or if you were in bed at your girlfriend’s house, and she was, oh, I don’t know, in the bathroom, you could smear it between the mattress and the boxspring. But you’re in your car. So you just wipe it on the sole of your shoe and try not to step on anything until you get out.

Disgusting habit. That’s what I think about when I should be writing.

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Wanted: Muse

muses morgantownI told you I wasn’t writing. So, why are you here?

I didn’t write a single word in November. “No big deal,” you say. But in writing circles, November is like two-a-day practices during football training camp. November is National Novel Writer Month. A frenzied dash to spew words on a page. Any words. As long as you get 50,000 consecutive words that make any kind of sense and tell a story, no matter how lame it may be.

I wrote zero.

It’s not that I didn’t want to. I couldn’t.

You see, I’m two-thirds of the way through a story now, and my muse has abandoned me. I don’t usually freak out over writer’s block. The words come and go when they will. But most days, I can at least force out a few paragraphs worthy of deleting from my laptop. I haven’t added one word to this story in more than two months.

Shame too. This story has it all. A hero, a villain, a double-agent, murder, intrigue, drugs, politics, back-stabbing co-workers, cops, robbers, drug dealers, technology, plot twists, lies, love, sex, hints of lesbianism, lions, tigers, and bears.

The hero was just about to find the crucial piece of evidence that would send him on his sprint to the finish when my hussy of a muse walked out the door. She has left me to my own devices to solve this mystery, and I have no clue: no smoking gun, no deep throat, no documents through the transom. Not even a cryptic dream where Elvis karate chops treasure chest of Scoobie Snacks and finds the mask Old Man Swanson was using to scare people away from the amusement park so he could buy the land for cheap and turn it into pot emporium.

So, what’s a writer to do? Well, not write . . . again.

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Wing Girl’s Man, Nic Tatano

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about Nic Tatano‘s new book Wing Girl.

9780007548583For years guys have cruised bars using the “wing man” as a divide and conquer weapon designed to liberate a gorgeous woman from her not-so-beautiful friend.

Meet Belinda Carson, Wing Girl.

She’s a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners investigative reporter fighting for truth, justice and higher ratings. But while her fame draws in the hotties, it’s unfortunate that you can’t buy a new personality at Bloomingdales!

Because up close and personal these unsuspecting suitors get fried by a snarky attitude that’s sharp enough to slice a stale bagel…
which leaves her grateful friends to swoop in for the delectable leftovers!

Only enough is enough – isn’t it time for Belinda to stop taking one for the team and land her own Mr Right?

And while it may be odd for a guy like me to read something like this. I find it more odd that a guy would write it. So I just had to pick the author’s brain. And it gives me yet another excuse to not write. Please welcome to the blog, Nic Tatano.

I’ve gotta admit, it’s a little intimidating interviewing another journalist. So, I guess the first question is an easy one. Say and spell your name so I make sure I get it right.

This reminds me of a time I asked that question of a teenager and got Y-O-U-R-N-A-M-E.

Anyway, Nic Tatano. Nic is short for my middle name, Nicholas. I’ve got too much journalism stuff published under my first name, Randy, so I needed something else. My late father was named Nick, and I can hear him saying, “You’re using my name? To write chick lit?”

You have to admit, a guy writing chick-lit is a bit of a novelty. Where’d that idea come from?

I went to a two week writer’s boot camp and we were assigned to read twelve books of different genres. One of the books was The Princess Diaries. I dreaded reading it but discovered it was hysterical and the author had a snarky voice I could relate to. I figured I had been around enough sarcastic women over the years and heard enough sex talk in newsrooms that I could pull it off.

Flipping the dating world on its ear makes this story a whole lot of fun. Watching Belinda (Wing Girl) Carson shoot down prospective one-night stands is a breath of fresh air in a romance novel. I’m sure someone as debonaire as yourself was never spurned, so where did those scenes come from?

First, I didn’t go out on a date till I was nineteen. When you’re a Star Trek fanboy with no money in Connecticut and drive your mother’s station wagon, you’re not exactly a chick magnet. (By the way, I never owned a pair of Spock ears, but have been to several conventions.)

As for those great lines to shoot down guys, I’ve heard a lot of them in newsrooms on Mondays when women were recapping their weekends. (Most of this was before political correctness, when the world was actually fun.)

Your main character, Belinda Carson is a newsroom hot-shot. I’m sure some of her inspiration came from your years working in news. Ever meet anyone as tenacious, yet socially unaware as she seems to be?

I’ve met a lot of people like that, though most of them were guys. It seems like a lot of people in the news business think they’re bulletproof because they’re on camera, then find out it doesn’t mean much in the real world when it comes to relationships.

In my mind, the characters are what really stand out in this story. (My favorite was Roxy. The mouth on that woman.) How many bars did you have to hang around to find them, and how many drinks did you have to buy before they let you into their secret cougar meetings?

I’ve never hung out in bars. But if you dropped by any of our Italian family gatherings, you’d meet a bunch of Roxannes. You should hear my cousins from Jersey. They’re all loud, spunky, talk with their hands, take no prisoners, have no tolerance for men who misbehave and have no qualms about kicking their asses if they do.

As for the “secret cougar meetings” I was once invited by a women’s fiction author to dinner with her writer’s group, of which all the members were women. Once the wine started flowing I think they forgot I was there and the sex talk was off the charts. It was like a living version of Letters to Penthouse.

How much trouble did this get you into with your wife, and how expensive was the make-up gift? Kobe Bryant proportions?

Here’s the deal: when you’re married to a spunky redhead with green eyes and freckles, you write your main character as a spunky redhead with green eyes and freckles. Then you refer to her as “hot” during the entire book. Problem solved.

Also, if you look at the book cover, you’ll notice the silhouette is of a woman with red hair. Originally it was all dark, but I asked the cover artist to add the red. Now my wife points at the cover and says, “That’s me!”

Seriously, she had no problem with it and thought the book was a lot of fun.

When you distill this story down to its essence, it’s about relationships and preconceptions. What literary preconceptions did you have to smash as a man writing romantic comedy for women?

It was really important that my critique partner for this book was a woman. In fact, I’ve always had a female critique partner. No matter what kind of book you write, you’re going to have characters of the opposite sex, so it helps to have someone of that sex review your work.

But when I sent the book out to editors and agents, I was careful not to say anything that would lead them to believe I was a guy.

I could easily see this story on the silver screen. Have you give any thought to who would play any of the characters? (Please say Marissa Tome as Roxy. I’ve got a thing for her.)

Yeah, Marisa Tomei’s voice from My Cousin Vinny was in my head when I was writing Roxanne’s lines. A lot of actors try to fake a New York accent, but hers is perfect. (And a lot of guys have a thing for her.)

As for the Belinda, Amy Adams or Sarah Rafferty (Donna on Suits) would be perfect. I think Hilarie Burton (Sara on White Collar) would be great as Ariel while Serena could be played by Rachel Nichols (Kiera on Continuum.)

Any final words for men trying to land a Belinda . . . or in my case, Roxy?

If you’re going after an independent woman from the New York area, accept her independence, but don’t forget to open doors for her. She wants to be able to take care of herself, but appreciates old fashioned chivalry.

But if you forget her birthday, you’re a dead man.

Are you the least bit worried, that now that you have laid bare women’s secrets that, there may be a squad of nimble but deadly ninjettes in black yoga pants trying to take you out before you can tell the stories of Belinda’s wing girls?

I think women still have plenty of secrets we’ll never figure out. As for the ninjettes in yoga pants, sounds like a superhero movie that would probably break records at the box office.

Wing Girl

Tatano’s Blog

Tatano on Good Reads

Nic’s Facebook Page

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Wing Girl

I knew Nic Tatano before he was Nic Tatano.

He and I were colleagues during my formative years as a television storyteller. The dude’s got a dry wit and a sarcastic tongue sharp enough to shave with. (Now there’s an image you want while eating your bagel.) It helped that we were both trapped in television news hell. We both knew he wasn’t long for local news.

Now the dude I used to snicker at has the whole world laughing at him . . . or at least he hopes to. See, NIc has taken all that stuff he knew about the whack-jobs inside the newsroom and the New York bar scene and turned it into a romantic comedy . . . with a twist, of course.

9780007548583Wing Girl turns the dating world on it’s head. Belinda Carson is a hard-nosed investigative reporter by day and an attention magnet by night. Her fame attracts men like moths to a flame. Her lack of style and biting wit guts them like a hunter field dressing a moose. Then her friends swoop in to pick up the pieces — the classic wing man in reverse.

When Belinda decides it’s time to settle down, her friends, three stereo-typical New Yawkuhs, take their wing girl to charm school. With a makeover that sends her from frumpy pup to top dog at the bar, and a quick lesson in what not to say, Belinda soon becomes the target of every swinging dick on the street. But how will it effect her hard-nosed image? And with which of her many suiters will Wing Girl eventually settle down?

I literally laughed out loud while reading this book. Belinda and her friends are a hoot. Tatano serves up a sarcastic blend of romance and comedy in a story that’s as easy to read (I read it in 2 nights.) as it is sweet.

Don’t come here looking for newsroom dish. If you press him, I’m sure Tatano will tell you he took some liberties with the news scenes, but those are few, and not the main focus of the story. Where it shines is in the bar room where the Belinda and friends, all strong, independent, and successful, dish on the do’s and don’ts of dating in the 21st century.

The fact that this was written by a man should scare the bejesus out of women. Yes, we’ve figured out your game, but have no fear, we’re still too dumb to use it against you. Wing Girl could easily transition to the big screen — a sort of Bride’s Maids of the Barroom — starring Maris Tomei, Tina Fey, Isla Fischer, and Christina Applegate as Belinda.

If you’re in the market for something light with a lot of laughs give my piasan Nic a read. You’ll never look at a barroom full of women the same again.

Categories: Not Writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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