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Friendzy! Thank God It's Friendzy!

Listen: this is my first ever Friendzy, so please be nice and participate. You all like me by now, right? Wait, don't answer that...

No, seriously! My bud firesign10 suggested this might be a fun distraction for a Friday afternoon, and you know what? The Sign of Fire is right! Besides, don't we all need a few more friends on Live Journal every now and then?

So, here goes. For those who haven't Zeed before, all you need do is to fill out some basic information about a few of your favorite things, like this:

NAME: tedwords
AGE: Fourty-cough cough cough cough cough
LOCATION: This really old green house in Attleboro, Massachusetts that has at least seven ghosts in it. Six female and one male. Well, that's what we were told.
THE OTHER CHARACTERS IN THE STORY OF MY LIFE: Partnered for ten years. Three kids. One grandkid. Two relatively sane cats. A very sane puppy. One insane two month old kitten who only likes to maim and destroy.
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Doctor Who, but is really there anything else on TV?
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Bandwagon. Yeah, I know.
FAVORITE BAD EIGHTIES SONG: "Naughty Girls Need Love Too" by Samantha Fox
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Cape Cod. Especially Provincetown. Maybe Disneyworld, if I'm in that mood.
SOMETHING I'M NOT VERY GOOD AT: Ritual circumcision
SOMEONE I HOPE RESPONDS TO THIS POST: tatjna Because she is funny.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW?: The medication hasn't kicked in today.

See? That's all there is to it. Fill this out, post your response, share a link to this page if you want to (and you know you want to), and voila! Instant friends! Sit back and see who responds.

A CLEAN VERSION OF THE QUESTIONS FOR YOU (because I am nice like that):

Happy friending!

(This post paid for by the "Committee to Get Ted Sent to a Happy Home" committee)


Friends count

ted kiss
Just checked my friend's list and realized I need 5 more friends to reach 400. Anyone have any suggeestions? :)

The dark at the bottom of the stairs

ted kiss
Last night at around three in the morning I woke up with a start.

The kitten wiggled a little next to my feet. Carefully, I lifted myself up out of the bed and headed for the bathroom. It sucks getting older. Then, once relieved of my burden, I headed to my study, which is located down the hall, right next to the stairway that leads to the dark spot.stairs 3

I don't know why I think of it that way. Corb once said that he was sitting in the living room one time with the lights off and he saw what looked like a dark cloud hanging around that area. It's the one part of the house that neither one of us like hanging around.

Both the kitten and Oliver were standing outside of the den as I padded my way down the hall. Both were staring intently down the stairs, as if there was something fascinating that was absorbing their attention.

"What's going on, guys?" I said, probably too loudly, given the time of night. Trying to chase away the goblins, I guess. I moved to the edge of the stairs, looked down. Nothing to see. The room downstairs was dark, save for the night lamp that I neglected to turn off when we went to bed.

I turned around to sit down in the den. And as I turned my back, I distinctly heard the snapping of fingers on the floor below.

What the--?

I didn't have the nerve to go downstairs to find out what was going on. Instead, I turned the lights off and headed back to bed.

Fast forward to this morning. Corb had already showered and left for work, and I was alone in the house. I woke up, fed the zoo, and put Kyra on her leash to do her morning constitutional. I brought her to the edge of the house, waited for her to go pee. Then I moved to the other side of the lawn and started walking her through the sweet clover that smells like blueberries (I have no idea what it really is).

Just as she was about to do her doody, she looked up. She barked, focused on the house.

"What's up?" I asked. "Come on, let's get this--"

But she was no longer interested in going to the bathroom. She strained at her leash, looking to move back to the house. She kept staring at the picture window that offered a view of the dark spot, barking away. I followed her back into the house. She made her way directly to that dark spot and stopped barking the minute she reached it.

No more barking. She stopped immediately, as if nothing had happened.

Conclusion: the dark spot doesn't like us going to the bathroom.

I guess I should be freaked out by this, right? Not really, though. My house doesn't really scare me at all. I'm still convinced there's nothing evil or too scary about the place. But what is it about animals and their ability to see beyond the things that our eyes are blind to?

I'm kind of grateful I'm not a dog. But on the plus side, we are going to have one hell of a Halloween party here.

PS: My book, Pictures of You, is available as a free Kindle download today and tomorrow! Check it out if you haven't already.

Sep. 26th, 2014

ted kiss
I don't often do this, but just had to share the following thoughtul review about Pictures of You from Star Book Reviews. If you haven't read mah book, give it a try! It's going to be free on Kindle as of Monday for five days...

8 out of 10's the top ranked book on the site!

[This review contains some spoilers.]CellarStairs_v4d

Read the blurb and Pictures of You appears to be a typical supernatural young adult suspense, but you don’t have to dig for long to discover a real heart and soul that helps carry this work high above many of its contemporaries. This novel – presented in diary format – is written with a kind of brevity and care that you’ll go a long way to find again.

Despite its dark overtones – and at times I was genuinely surprised at the themes this book explored – every time I returned to reading, I felt as though I was receiving a nice warm hug, in spite of the wrath the story threw at me.

Author T.J. Alexian says that the novel is about learning to accept the ghosts of our past, and for Ashes, our 16-year-old main character, she’ll be forced to face an onslaught before this story is through. Her older brother Daniel passed away some years before this story begins, and both Ashes and her mother are going through the motions of life. How can you ever recover from the loss of a young life?

But her world is rocked when videos filmed on Daniel’s camcorder some years before suddenly begin surfacing on YouTube. The footage is filmed by her brother, but Ashes has never seen these videos before. As the videos increase in number, the mystery deepens. Who is behind this? And, more importantly, why?

In any suspense novel, there is that dreaded line between entertaining your reader, and allowing them room to uncover the mystery for themselves. Pictures of You perfectly balances supernatural and suspense elements, never letting the reader become too passive. While the well paced plot serves to bolster the mystery, the absence of any conceited romance story or typical teenage tropes linked to this genre, are a credit to the novel, providing room to further explore what should be paramount to Ashes: answers.

Ashes is an instantly likeable character, with quick wit and a real charm. She’s suffered immeasurable loss, and at such a young age too. But the way that she composes herself scores empathy points with the reader. She’s a fighter, and she won’t stop for anyone. Sure she has insecurities, who doesn’t? Especially at that age. But her cracks only serve to round out her character. I was never against her. Always beside her. I never felt smarter than her, nor alienated from her world.

The author has spent time painting the various shades of supporting characters, and this helps serve in establishing possible red herrings and dead ends in our growing mystery. However, this reviewer did feel as though some of the hints regarding the outcome could have been handled a little more delicately. Such hints did register alarm bells when they passed my eyes, but having said that, there were other alarm bell moments that elicited similar reactions, and, as it turned out, were simply designed to keep you guessing. I suppose, for authors of suspense, that’s the burden they carry. You can’t do right for doing wrong. The reader will always like to believe they are one step ahead of the author.

Yet, the ‘what’ was not as nearly important as the ‘why’, and it was the ‘why’ that was kept hidden for so long. The revelation was a surprise, but I still had questions. I know why, but I’m still asking why. And the method to the madness is almost brushed away in a few short paragraphs. A shrug and that’s life. While the mystery’s resolution did feel a little rushed, the way in which the narrative’s main theme was tied up, and our main character’s world set on course again was well managed.

In a way, Pictures of You gave me flashbacks to the Goosebumps books that were at their height of popularity in the 90s. That’s not to say that Pictures of You is as simply woven as one of R.L. Stine’s works – It’s not; it has far more weight, subtext and emotional punch, but it is as instantly accessible by young and old alike thanks to the fluid and friendly writing style employed by the author.

Characters are well drawn and welcoming, but the antagonist suffers in the final act, becoming almost one dimensional in its actions, and then quickly an afterthought. I had questions, especially as to what societal motivations led the antagonist to behave as it did, and what in turn that spoke about other characters who may have been aware, or closely tied at one point in time.

In addition, one of the supporting characters is conveniently sidelined while the plot rampages to its conclusion, and yet there I felt that there was more to explore with this character in the conclusion. However, taking the whole work into consideration, these are minor inconveniences in an otherwise solid and inviting tale.

I’ll recommend Pictures of You to you. An enjoyable and moving read. Furthermore, I was pleased to find zero errors or typos in my read through.



ted kiss

The Perfume Collector was a terrific read.

I love books that takes place over the course of decades, and this particular one was deliciously plotted out and superbly told. The "forward" plot takes place in 1955. Sheltered socialite Grace Monroe is trying to keep her head above water in her social set and also, keep her sagging marriage afloat, but both come to a head when she attends a party and discovers during a game of Mister Memory that she's not been seeing the whole picture. And then...that evening, she receives an "inheritance from a mysterious benefactor," a women named Eva d'Orsey, whom Grace has never met. It's a moment that could have the power to change her life.

Enter the "back" story, set in the decades before. Alternating between chapters, we learn who Grace is and eventually, what her connection to the forward story is...and, all of this, scented in a backdrop involving the three distinctive perfumes that Eva d'Orsey herself inspired. Want to know more about the world of perfume and Paris? This book is soaking in it.

I enjoyed every minute of it. Although some of it slightly bordered on the slightly unbelievable (could so many coincidences actually occur in one lifetime?), hey! This is escapist fare! Just go with it! And plus, it doesn't hurt that the book is written by someone who is as graceful and vivid a storyteller as Kathleen Tessaro. I've never read anything by her, but I want to read more now.

Also, she had a thing about describing pubic hair on women. I didn't quite get that, but it really didn't detract from the reading. It was just a furry bonus.

If you're looking for a classy, well written, gripping read, I highly recommend this book. It's not a novel that will bring tears to your eyes, but it is one you won't be able to put down. This is not sentimental writing so much as it is sophisticated writing. Kathleen Tessaro is an author that writes in vivid phrases and provides subtle touches in her writing that bring the story to life and that one has a tendency to marvel over. Well worth the time spent.


Enter...Ping the Merciless

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This was not my idea, I swear.

I blame Corb's mom. She was at home one day and saw a man sneaking behind her house. When she went to see what he was up to, she discovered a two-week old kitten underneath a bush. She immediately thought of us.

Corb immediately named her Ping.

My brother Tommy added "The Merciless." And that kind of is what she is like. She is a terror! Part of that is because Corb's mom had her for a few weeks before we picked her up (had to make sure she weighed enough and didn't have feline AIDS) and her live-in significant other liked to "roughhouse" with the kitten. "Maybe I played with her a little rough," the old coot chuckled as dropped her off. "I had to start wearing gloves!"

Groan. Oh great. Now the entire zoo is scared of her. Our dog Kyra has a nasty scratch on her snout from Ping. Hayley is constantly being tormented by her. I think Ping thinks of Hayley as a mother figure. Only, a mother whose tail you like to pounce upon and bite. That's love, there.

And as for the humans? Well, Theo loves her, although even he can find her a little distracting when he is trying to play video games. And as for me and Corb? Last night I was in bed trying to map out the rehearsal schedule for Superstar. Do you think I was able to get even a line written down on paper? Nope! Every time I tried she would jump onto the bed and wrap her mouth around my fingers. Start nibbling, ferociously. Then she'd get more aggressive. Corb was trying to sleep during this and she scampered across his face at least three times.

She just entered my study. After using my chair as a scratching post, she climbed up the side of it and is sitting her, perched like a buzzard, waiting to pounce. Hope she doesn't claw at my jugular or something.

She is awfully cute, though. I like her perpetually outraged look and her tuxedo bib. Hmm, let me just hold up from the typing a little bit to give her a little pat. Here you, go, Ping. Yes, that's a good, stop clawing...NO, NOT THE NECK! NOT THE JUGULAR! SHI--

(End transmission.)
ted kiss

Corb and I have these rituals, you see. Although my directing a play once again has kind of thrown things off a little bit, there are still things we end up doing at the same exact time and at the same exact place each and every week. Grocery shopping on Sunday morning at Wal-Mart is one of them.

It's certainly not for the ambiance. Or maybe it is? But not in the way you'd think. Because the truth is, people watching can be extremely entertaining at Wally World. I mean, what other place has a web site dedicated to just that thing?

So we're standing in line yesterday, just kind of talking to ourselves (in other words, bickering), and all of a sudden, I realize the guy in front of us at the cash register keeps looking at us. He's Latin, about 45 years old, with a Freddie Mercury kind of moustache. Smoldering eyes. And he keeps looking at us, and looking at us...

Does he know us, I'm asking myself? Corb is totally not aware of it at all, he just keeps talking on and on (I think at that point he was asking me exactly what I planned to do with the photo of Joan Rivers on the latest issue of People magazine. Nothing, I swear!), but for me, it's starting to creep me out. And then I glance down and realize.

Oh. My God.

The guy was wearing a pair of black jogging pants. You know, the kind that are all whooshy and kind of go with the flow? And at first I thought he had a flashlight in his pockets or something, but then I realized that that wouldn't really make sense given the location of the flashlight in proximity to his pockets and then...

"Corb," I whisper. "Check out the guy in front of us."

"What about him?" Corb replies, way too loudly.

"Shhhhhh!" I say, as quietly as possible. "Just look...down."

Seriously! This guy had a huge woody that was dangling there like a fishing pole in a river, waving back and forth, for everyone to see. And the guy didn't even seem to be embarrassed by it or make any effort to conceal it. He just stood there, paying for his food, loading his bags into his shopping cart, talking away, while meanwhile, his huge beef thermometer was just poking out.

It wasn't revealed or anything. No tippage could be seen. Everything was still contained in his pants. And I don't think it was because he simply had a monstrous member and there was no way to conceal it. It was simply...standing up. Saying hello. Handing out tickets to the parade.

I mean, I guess it's natural and it happens to all of us (particularly when you have two good looking hunks such as Corb and myself behind you in the line), but if I were him, I would have made some effort to conceal it. Place my wallet over it. Hide it with a photo of Joan Rivers. Maybe use it for holding up some of your shopping bags. I don't know, something.

I swear, we had to take a cold shower by the time the experience was over. And once Corb noticed it, it was all he could do not to stop staring. (I, on the other hand, have marvelous self-control, as you can clearly tell.)

I felt worse for the cashier. She was clearly not thrilled by the whole thing, although she didn't say a word to us. But her face was beet red and she kind of looked away from us and simply focused on scanning and bagging. She wasn't a young kind or anything, but even so, I'm positive this was a side of the public she really didn't need to see.

I mean, maybe we should have done something more. Called it out, I guess. Alerted security. But what in the world do you say? "Officer, that man has a huge boner in the pants! Arrest him!" And besides, have you seen the security at Wal-Mart? I'm not sure they could have done much.

So Boner Guy got his thrill for the day. Go him.

Corb was telling the story to a friend last night, and she said, "Oh, that's nothing. I'll never forget the time I was standing in line for the register and the lady in front of my squatted down and took a big shit on the floor. I still need therapy for that one!"

Class, I tell you. It takes class.


A day in the sun

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My favorite summer memory this year? Simple. During vacation in July, the time I spent with Alex.

Alex, as many of you know, is the child of my high school friend Pauline. He came into this world as an Amber, and about three years ago started transitioning into being a man. Alex has always had a special place in my heart, and in fact, the main character in my novel Pictures of You is partially based on his life and some of his experiences.

During summer vacation, Alex, who always works far too hard, was able to find time to go with us to one of our outings. I suspected that one he was able to find time for wasn't by accident: he didn’t choose an amusement park or a day at the beach house. Alex said he could go with us to a water park.

The choice was significant. It was the first time he would be appearing in public without a shirt.

I know this, because at one point his mom was supposed to be going with us, and that caused Alex great anxiety. He texted me about it, because Alex always texts, never calls: big long flowing texts just spilling over with words.

"It's hard enough doing what I'm doing, but to do it with mom around, is going to be really really hard," he wrote.

"But your mom went with you to Florida to have the surgery," I pointed out.

"It will just be harder. For her, too."

“I can always ask her not to go.”

“No. I might as well as get that over with, too.”

In other words, this was designed to be a huge “rip the band aid” moment. Pardon the pun.

Pauline ended up having an emergency gall bladder operation. She didn’t go. So like her to have a life-threatening incident just to avoid a possibly uncomfortable moment.

But back to the moment. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect, because frankly, I had no idea what was missing. Alex had never exactly been flamboyant as a girl. He hid his body most of the time, underneath bulky sweatshirts, to hide any breasts that may have existed. Since he weighed all of 100 pounds soaking wet, he had always looked more like a skinny teenage boy, more than anything.

He’s put on some weight, since then. The hormones he’s taking have deepened his voice.

And then, the big reveal.

I have to admit, I was taken aback when we arrived at the water park and Alex threw off his shirt to reveal a ton of body hair. I wasn’t expecting that.

I didn’t just stand there and stare, of course. I played it cool. But of course, I was curious.

His chest looked like any other man’s, save for two prominent scars located horizontally underneath each nipple. Or were they prominent? Would I have noticed them if I didn’t know to look for them? Would I have known what they were, had I just seen them randomly? I’m not sure. Certainly no one else in the water park seemed to pay any notice. Alex went through the entire day shirtless, without raising any notice whatsoever.

My favorite ride at any water park is the Lazy River. Every water park has one, right? A place where you just sit in a water tube and travel leisurely around in circles, propelled by the current? I could stay on it all day. Oh sure, the park tries to spice things up by adding an occasional waterfall here and there, and I really wish they wouldn’t. I want smooth sailing, me and the tube basking in the glow of the sun.

This year, all of us clung to one another as we went around and around in circles: me and Corb and Ashes and Alex, and sometimes, my brother Tommy and his son Jack. We must have spent at least an hour on the ride. No chutes. No large tubes. No waiting in line. Just circles and smooth sailing.

Alex stayed by my side much of the time. Back arched, feet up, head facing the sun. And as we were going around for what must have been the hundredth time, he said to me, “You don’t know what it’s like.”


“I’ve waited for years to do this. To be swimming like this and feel the sun on my chest. You don’t know how great it feels.”

I searched for the right thing to say. “It must have been hard."

Alex nodded. "I had to keep my whole body hidden for years. I could never do anything like this."

I pushed a little farther. "It must make you feel complete.”

I had pushed too far. Alex frowned. “Well. Almost.” Then he arched his back, pushed off from my float, and went to see what Ashes was up to.

I guess that "almost" is an adventure for another day.

Anyway, I think my boy enjoyed his day in the sun. Finally. I know I was grateful to be a part of it.


ted kiss
Crazy week-end. Kind of happy to be going back to work!

Friday, Corb and I took the day off and embarked on one more fling with the kids this summer. We went to New York City and let the kids pick the shows we would see.

Ashes chose Cabaret, starring Alan Cummings and Michele Williams, and it was a good choice. He was marvelous, the staging was clever and visually interesting throughout, she was a great actress with not the best voice (but then, I guess Sally Bowles doesn't really need to have the greatest voice in the world).wallpaper

Theo chose Avenue Q as our Saturday show. I've seen it before, and the kids know all the songs, but I actually think it was kind of appropriate for the two of them to see it, especially with Ashes entering her junior year of college and Theo heading off to college next year.

In between, we visited The Strand bookstore and also ate, of course. I think the best meal we had was at one of those haunted house themed pubs, not necessarily because of the food or the atmosphere (which was kitschy), but because we had a waitress who was entertaining as hell. We went after Cabaret, and even though it was the end of the night, and even though her shift ended at midnight, she sat down and spoke to us until around one in the morning about her life, her goals, and the little person who worked at the haunted house they operate who runs around all day in a diaper wielding a chainsaw.

Turns out he used to be a male stripper, but he quit the biz a few years ago because some of the ladies at the private parties he would attend would want to take him home, anxious to find out what it was like to be with a little person. It became humiliating. So now he's working at the haunted house, in his diaper and with his chainsaw. A few weeks ago, one of the waiters walked in on him going to the bathroom with the stall open. He said his feet was dangling from the toilet.

I want my feet to dangle from the toilet.

Sunday we returned home, and prepared for Ashes to go back to college. We hadn't prepared before this day, BECAUSE WE ARE JUST LIKE THAT SO GET OVER IT. It was an all day undertaking, of course, and exhausting, especially in light of all the driving we did Friday and Saturday.

And yesterday? Yesterday Ashes, went back to school. That is always a grueling experience, with Corb, myself, and Josie forming a caravan to get her there with all her stuff. It always involves a bit of drama (for example, this year, Josie decided to inform Ashes she was not going to pay for a fifth year of college...four was enough, thank you very much). Ashes was not happy. The word slutbag was thrown about.

It all ended up fine at the end, by time we had one last good-bye meal, at the Village Tavern in the center of Salem. It's one of my favorite traditions of the year.

And now, back to work! I leave you with this image, which was the wallpaper in our room in New York. Kind of sensual, don't you think? I see women parts all over the place!

Tonight, auditions. More on that later.

His blessed frillies

ted kiss
Yesterday, on Facebook, I did something shocking. No, I mean really shocking!

I posted...oh, I am so ashamed, I can't even type this...


I posted a photo of the inside of Corb's underwear drawer.

Or at least, you'd have thought it was shocking, from the reaction I received from Corb! He was appalled that I had done such a thing! He was mortified that I had given people a glimpse into this most intimate of places. And his biggest complaint? The one thing he was horrified and worried about, more than anything?

"People will see that I like to wear...colorful underwear."

GASP! No, no, anything but that! People will think you are actually wearing bright reds and blues and even Batman underwear, rather than plan white skivvies? Such a thing cannot be allowed to happen! And think of the embarrassment to me: the man I love has been revealed to be a colorful underwear lover. How can I show my face in public again?

And really, the color of the underwear wasn't even the reason I posted the photo. I was cleaning up in the morning (well, just barely) And I came across a pair of his whooshy shorts that needed filing away, and went to his bureau to do so. I opened up[ one of his drawers, purely at random, and there I beheld...this:


I mean, look at that! Gaze on that! Contemplate that! There's some serious organization going on there, right? Each boxer, each brief, has been lovingly folded and then folded again into a neat little square, and then placed into the drawer and color coordinated to form a veritable rainbow of color.

Who does stuff like that? Apparently, my significant other. It's really quite impressive.

So, that's why I posted it. I was impressed. But from the reaction I received from Corb, you'd have thought I had revealed some dark family secret. You know Corb? He's...come here closer so I can whisper this...organized about his underwear. Can you believe it?

I wish I was as organized about my underwear drawer! Instead, mine typically looks like this:

underwear drawer

Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, maybe I don't ALWAYS have a butcher knife or an open container of spreadable cheese in my underwear drawer. I took that photo because at one point, after Corb had initially freaked out, he thought it would be funny to do an "underwear drawer challenge," similar to the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. So I put that photo together, posted it, and made up some fake charity involving naked underprivileged white boys in Newark, New Jersey and then challenged three friends to out their drawer or be forced to pay up.

Sigh. No one gets my sense of humor. I took it off after an hour, because I just KNEW I was offending someone.

I mean, I guess I get it. Just looking at all those rows of underwear, I guess it is a little...well, intimate. You almost start picturing in your mind the person who owns that drawer wearing these articles of clothing. So, okay, yes, perhaps it is a little titillating.

But is it really that big a deal? It was for Corb. Six hours later, and he was still going on about it. "Will people think I'm a freak because of my underwear drawer?" he asked, as he was chopping up lettuce to make a delicious Caesar salad.

"No, Ashes replied, with perfect timing. "People think you're a freak for so many other reasons."

Well said, Ashes. But what does Corb's underwear drawer really say about him? Not that he's a freak, not at all. It says he's neat and organized and a creative person. So maybe underwear drawers really do reveal a side of yourself that people don't actually see. Maybe they do say something about you as a person. But that's all good stuff, in Corb's case!

Mine, on the other hand...well, maybe that VHS copy of Pink Flamingos could be tossed out...



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