Steve Jobs missed an opportunity with his last words.

Newser is reporting that Steve Jobs’ last words were “Oh, wow.”  Frankly, I think he missed a golden opportunity to go out the Apple way.  It would have been so much better if he said, “iWow.”

On  another Jobs’ related note, the guy was a major league jerk.  He took pride in parking in handicap spots because he didn’t like to be told what to do.  Sure he changed the world, but I’m no longer comfortable celebrating a man who seemed to have a total disregard for every other human on the planet.  I have no problem celebrating his achievements, but I’m not a fan of the man, but I totally dig rhyming.

Sorry to all you iJobs out there, but it had to be said… even though he’s dead! (Double rhyme)

The ghost that punched me – A bizarre but true story

In the basement on Christmas morning – Can you see a ghost in the room?

I got an urgent email from the mother of a young fan of The Oz Chronicles desperate for my help. Her son had a report the next day that included bio information about me. They had a list of questions for me to answer, and I happily answered and sent them back as quickly as I could. I’m not going to lie. It’s flattering to be part of a classroom assignment and discussion. Most of the questions were simple enough to answer. In fact, the only one that stumped me was the last one.

Trivia -Things about the author that may be unique, unusual, or intriguing.

My nature is to be boring. I don’t go to a lot of parties. Stephen King isn’t calling me to meet in NYC for a slice and interesting conversation. Nor is he calling me to for some uninteresting conversation. He’s just not calling me. I live a sparse, yet fulfilling life with my wife (and pets). So, I don’t exactly come across unique, unusual or intriguing moments too often. I had to get in my way back machine and find something that didn’t completely disappoint my young fan and ruin his report.

It being so close to Halloween, I decided to share a scary story I rarely share with people. And, lucky for you, I’ll share it here with you on the blog today. It’s going to make me sound a bit flaky, but I swear it’s all true, and it may explain why I like Horror stories so much. This is the absolutely true tale of the ghost that lived in the basement of one of my childhood homes, and it was far from a friendly ghost.

My family moved five or six times when I was a kid. For a young kid, it’s a struggle to fit in living in one place. The struggles are compounded when you find yourself in a new school system every few years. I guess that’s where my ‘loner’ persona took hold. When I was 12, we moved into a house in Highland Ridge subdivision in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was your typical middle class neighborhood before the days of McMansions and the free fall of mortgage industry. The homes were modest and affordable.

The home we lived in was on the opening bend of a cul-de-sac. It was a two-story dwelling with a main floor and a basement. The basement was where all the trouble took place. It was a nice, large area that was 90% finished when we moved in. It had a bar for entertaining, full bath and two rooms off the main/open area. One room was finished. It had two windows that looked out into the backyard and the side yard. The other room was situated in the back of the basement. It was unfinished when we moved in. It was smaller than the other room and because of its location, it didn’t have any windows. In essence, it was a storage room.

My parents quickly had the room finished and converted into another bedroom for guests. At the time, we had a Beagle/Dachshund mix named Wendy. She was the sweetest dog on the planet that we adopted when she was an adult. She took to our family quickly and almost immediately made herself at home.

Wendy did not like the basement. Whenever I would go downstairs, she stood at the top of the stairs and whimpered. Initially I thought it might be because she didn’t know how to navigate the stairs, so I carried her down them on one occasion and set her down on the bottom landing. She surveyed the basement, growled and bolted back up the stairs. It was unsettling.

The room in the back of the basement did not feel right, even after my parents had it finished and furnished with a bedroom set. It was ten degrees colder than the rest of the house and when you shut the door and turned off the lights it was pitch black. You literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. As unnatural as the room felt, I always felt drawn to it. It was just spooky, and part of me loved to be scared.

I made friends with the boy across the street, Billy. Billy had stories about the family that lived there before me that weren’t exactly flattering, particularly about the young man that lived in the basement. He was weird, mean, a biker. The rest of his family seemed to be frightened of him. The police were called on more than one occasion to deal with domestic situations.

One day, Billy insisted, the young man just disappeared. No one knew what happened to him. The family moved out of the house shortly thereafter. Now, looking back, I can’t attest to the accuracy of Billy’s stories. He was eleven and did take a certain amount of joy in scaring the hell out of people. But, if he did make the stories up to scare me, he proceeded to scare the hell out of himself, too. Billy genuinely did not like that room.

One night, Billy and I decided it was time to man up. We would sleep in that room. We settled into the bed, and I mustered up all my courage to turn off the light. I rolled over on my side, facing away from Billy. He lay flat on his back. Surprisingly, it wasn’t long before we both dosed off.

Before I tell you this next part, it’s important to remember my position in the bed. I was on my side, facing away from Billy.

At about 3:00 AM, I was punched squarely in the face. It startled me, hurt me, and angered me. My instinct was to turn, sit up and punch the only other person in the room which was a pretty good trick because the room was completely dark. Billy woke up with a start. “Hey! What did you do that for?” he asked.

I couldn’t see him, but I imagine he was rubbing his cheek. “You hit me!” I said.

“No, I didn’t! You hit me!”

I was breathing so heavily I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I thought about what he said. I ran the last few minutes over in my mind. I was punched squarely in the face which meant whoever hit me did so by being in front of me. Billy was behind me because I had my back turned. Coming to that realization, the only thing I could determine was that someone else was in the room with us. I reached over and fumbled for the lamp and then the switch to turn on the lamp. It took just a few seconds, but it felt as though I would never be able to turn on that light at the time.

The light on, I looked around the room. We were alone. There was no place to hide because there was no closet in that room. A chill went up my spine. I threw back the cover and jumped out of the bed. I was out the door before Billy knew what to do. He followed, and we both ran up the stairs.

That is not the only “sleep” mishap we had in that basement. Weeks later, I had a sleep over with two other friends. I told them stories about that room and they wanted to sleep in it. I wouldn’t do it, so I talked them into sleeping on the sofa bed in the basement. It was placed in front of a fireplace. When it was folded all the way out, the bed was about six feet from the fireplace. With my parents’ permission and supervision, we built a fire and told campfire stories until we fell asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke. Sitting up in bed, I was surprised to see that the fire had actually died down in the fireplace. On closer examination, the smoke I smelled wasn’t coming from the fireplace. It was coming from the end of the bed. I crawled down to the end and looked over. A flaming log had rolled out of the fireplace and the six feet to the bed and set the sheets on fire. I screamed bloody murder and woke my friends up. Luckily, we were able to put the fire out before it did any more than ruin a perfectly good set of sheets.

Thereafter, there was no place in that basement where I felt safe. I never went down there alone again. If there was no other person with me, I would force Wendy to come with me. She wasn’t happy about it, and I never could get her to go too far away from the closed door to the stairs. But she was a great warning system. If she scratched and barked at the door, I knew it was time to leave.

Nothing really happened beyond the basement. We lived in that house for about four years before we moved once again. I was sad to leave that neighborhood, but I can’t say I was too upset at leaving that house. Luckily, the ghost that punched me didn’t decide to follow us to our new town.

Is your boss an idiot or a moron?

This boss is a real idiot.

I found this little tidbit of information on Dictionary.com, and I thought it might come in handy the next time you need to describe your boss to your friends and family.

An idiot is a stupid person with a mental age below three years, while a moron is a stupid person with a mental age of between seven to twelve years.

Here’s a good way to tell if your boss is an idiot or a moron.  Is he/she cute and adorable, but has trouble with putting together complete, comprehensible sentences?  Then he/she is an idiot.  If he/she isn’t so cute and adorable, and is able to put together complete, comprehensible sentences that make you want to punch a hole in the wall, then he/she is a moron.

You’re welcome!

Happy Birthday Patty

Today is the 44th anniversary of the Roger Patterson/Bob Gimlin film. It is the greatest blobsquatch footage ever shot of Bigfoot. Is it real? Like everything else in the Bigfoot arena there is no consensus on the films authenticity. A couple of people have come forward since it was shot claiming to be the guy in the costume. Special Effects experts have claimed that a costume that complex did not exist in 1967. And a number of computer models have been done to determine if a human could walk that way. To add to the confusion, some have said a human could, some have said a human can’t.

Real or not, it has stood the test of time as far as being a seminal piece of Bigfoot history. I never saw the film until I was well into my adulthood. In 1974, I was eight and living in a small community in central Illinois. To the delight of every kid in the area, a documentary featuring the Patterson Gimlin film was coming to the theater on Main Street. We sat in a packed theater watching this film, waiting for the moment we would see a real live Bigfoot for the first time. The anticipation was agonizing. The crowd collectively leaned in closer to the enormous screen. We all wanted to get a good look. Suddenly, in the back of the theater a woman’s voice cried out, “Tad Roberts, this is your mother! Come here right now! There’s a tornado headed straight for us!”

A second passed and then the first scream let out followed by another and then another. People ran for the exits. My friend and I sat in our seats watching the chaos, all the while hoping the movie would continue. We wanted to see Bigfoot. Our hearts sank; the picture fluttered and then went white. The projectionist stopped the film. People were pushing and shoving each other, squeezing through the doors to the lobby. Still my friend and I sat there. They would start the film again. We knew it. It was just a tornado warning. Central Illinois got dozens of tornado warnings every year. It wasn’t going to hit us.

My friend’s father walked down the aisle and told us it was time to give up hope. They weren’t going to show the rest of the film. We both stood and walked dejected to the exit. A few hours later, Main Street was decimated by more than one small tornado that touched down. Cars were flipped upside down. Windows were shattered. Businesses were crippled, including the movie theater. The film would never make it back to the area. We missed our chance.

That was then. This is now. I’ve seen the film numerous times. I’ve even watched it on my phone. M.K. Davis was the first to do an incredible enhancement of the film and stabilize the creature for better viewing. His unusual theories aside, he really is responsible for giving the film a second life. Costume designer Bill Munns has done extensive work on the film trying to determine size and other details that have been discussed for nearly 50 years now.

Christopher Noels posted this video on his Impossible Visits Facebook page, and I have to say it is probably shows the best argument I’ve seen that this is an actual creature and not a guy in a costume.

Shocking News: I’m withdrawing my book from consideration for the Young People Literature category of the National Book Awards

My un-consideration spurred by their non-consideration

You read correctly.  I am taking the virtually unprecedented move of removing my book from consideration for the Young People Literature category of the National Book Awards.  It’s a bold step I was forced to take because they did not consider any of my books for the Young People Literature category, or any other category for that matter.  I’m so sorry it had to come to this, but I cannot in good conscience give consideration to book awards programs that do not give my books consideration no matter how prestigious the book awards program may be.

If the National Book Awards wishes to reconsider their inconsiderate non-consideration I will reconsider my un-consideration.

The tale of a Bigfoot fetus?

If Bigfoot have opposable thumbs, we're in trouble.

If you are not a fan of rumor and conjecture, you aren’t going to like today’s post because that’s all I have.  In addition, if you’re not one of my Bigfoot (BF) readers, you’re really not going to like today’s post because rumor and conjecture are swirling around the big guy, or should I say big gal.  The distinction will make sense as you read on.

Now, there are a number of sources for what you will see on this blog today, and I don’t have qualified verification for any of their claims. Granted, I’m of the position that the only verification that is worthwhile is actual physical proof, so even if I did have multiple sources that I trusted, I would advice that you view all of this with a skeptical eye.  On with the story.

Those of you with an interest in BF are probably well aware of Dr. Melba Ketchum (Dr. K) and her DNA study. I wrote about it initially in a post called The Ketchum Report.  Dr. K has become somewhat of a folk hero among a majority of the BF devotees.  She has done something that only a select few have done before her; apply science to the BF question.  Her report has been frustratingly dangled in front of the BF community as a carrot of hope for a few years now.   There has been plenty of buzz about the report and what it says, but there has been no actual report produced.  Proponents will tell you that it is because this is a paper that has been submitted for peer review to a scientific journal, and these things take time.  I’ve made this argument myself.  Opponents say the delays are simply due to the fact that Dr. K’s paper reveals nothing, so she and her cohorts are milking as much publicity out of this as possible.  The two sides have been waging a war of words virtually since the first hints of the DNA study.  For Dr. K’s part, she’s said remarkably little about the study.  Her reason for keeping quiet?  Scientific journals don’t like a lot of pre-publication chatter about the studies they publish.  They tend to prefer that the science take center stage and not over-hyped sensationalism.   A study about a living non-human 8’ tall bipedal hominid comes with a lot of tabloid baggage, and that a scientific journal of any merit would give it serious consideration is a miracle in and of itself, which leads us to our first rumor.

Blogger Robert Lindsay has been cranking out some fascinating posts about Dr. K and her study for some time now. Lindsay is an interesting character. The number of people who revile him is only matched by the number of people who admire him.  To put it kindly, he is a lightning rod of controversy.  I dare say if you ever read his blog, you will find something that will disgust and anger you.  And, that is exactly how Lindsay wants it.  In the interest of complete disclosure, I don’t like his views on race or politics, but I can’t help but like him.  He’s an open book and there’s something inherently likable about that.

Lindsay has much more faith in his sources than I do.  He’s started a number of his posts with “We can now report.”  Meaning, he’s confident enough in his sources to share their information as fact.  He started his latest blog post on BF, Bigfoot News October 10, 2011, in just such a way.  In this particular post, he is making the claim that the science journal Nature has accepted Dr. K’s (and her co-authors) paper for review.  Normally, I would pass this off as wishful thinking by Lindsay’s source, but I was contacted on this blog and via private messaging by an individual weeks ago insisting the paper was under peer review by Nature.  Is my source the same individual?  I don’t know, but I do find it interesting that Lindsay, and I both received the same information.  I didn’t report on it then, because there was just no way for me to confirm it.  I present it to you here as still unconfirmed information.

The second part of the Nature rumor is the second most sensational thing you will read here today.  Lindsay is reporting that the editors of the journal called Dr. K in for a meeting with them at their headquarters in London.  Separately, an AJ Ciani reported on the BF Forums that Dr. K met with members of a review panel in Europe.  Again, how reliable the sources are in this case is unknown.  If true, it is an unprecedented move by a scientific journal.  They don’t meet with the authors of a study as a rule, and this has skeptics dismissing the rumors out of hand.  I am of the belief if Dr. K’s study has met all criteria and is credible, they would almost have to meet with her and members of her team before publishing a paper about a topic that is usually relegated to the pages of tabloid magazines.  If the paper unquestionably proves the existence of such a creature, they must take every precaution before publication.  But that’s just my opinion.

Now for the most sensational thing you will read here today.  I wrote an article for Blogcritics titled The Mystery Over The Existence of Bigfoot Continues.  In that article, I talked about a man by the name of Justin Smeja and his claim that he shot and killed two BF creatures in the Sierra Mountains in California.  His story would have been tucked away as complete nonsense if not for the Olympic Project (OP). The OP is a group of BF researches that has a stellar reputation within the BF community. They verified Smeja’s story. Smeja, in fact, joined their group after contacting them about his story.  Without boring you with all the details, Smeja didn’t just have a story, he had a specimen.  What that specimen actually is, has come under some speculation.  Smeja claims publicly that it is a piece of flesh from the thigh of the adult that was killed (an adult and juvenile were supposedly killed).  He cut a piece from this specimen and sent it to Dr. K to include in her study, and “read between the lines” statements from Smeja and the OP suggest that the sample did match other samples in the study as being from a BF.

Things started to get weird (believe it or not, I haven’t even scratched the surface of weird yet) when the OP talked about the gender of the adult.  It was referred to as “she,” on a number of occasions, but at some point, an emphasis was made that the gender could not be disclosed because of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA).  Some of us wondered publicly why the gender would come under an NDA.  What possible difference could it make?  It just didn’t make sense, until this week.  It was revealed in a public chat group that the adult that was allegedly shot was indeed a pregnant female.  Now, Smeja originally claimed he saw the adult at a distance of 80 yards through his rifle scope, and by his own admission, he didn’t know what it was beyond describing it as a monster.  Once he shot the BF, it ran off, never to be seen whole again.  He found the flesh sometime later.  How then could he know that the BF was pregnant?  Asking that question led to the revelation that a fetus may have been recovered from the shooting.  While this sounds completely whacky, it does match up with previous claims that they have hair, flesh, blood and bones included in Dr. K’s study.  Before Smeja’s Sierra shooting story, the only things mentioned in the study were blood, saliva and hair.  After Smeja’s story, flesh and bone were included in the samples description.

I have to reiterate.  What you read here today is not presented as fact in any way.  These are all public conversations currently going on throughout the BF community.  Skeptics are having a good laugh and marveling at the gullibility of those who believe in BF.  But, I can tell you that very few of those involved in the conversation are accepting it for anything other than what it is, speculation. Dr. K is not talking, and I can tell you from personal experience people with connections to the study are giving  the standard, “I cannot confirm or deny” response to inquiries.  For now, this is just an interesting collection of stories.  Nothing can be verified beyond a shadow of a doubt until Dr. K’s paper is published.