I remember seeing TV commercials for FedEx as a kid — though in the pre-abbreviate-everything era it was still known back then as Federal Express.  There was actually quite a variety of spots for them as I recall, but the one that specifically comes to mind here involved a businessman in need of documents for a presentation the next day.  He kept reiterating to some imaginary competitive shipping company’s representative, “They have to be here by 10:30AM.  They have to be here by 10:30AM  No documents; no presentation.”  Then they flash to the next day, and a full conference room with a projector on one end.  On the wall at the other we see hand shadows of animals and birds being made by the desperate businessman whose documents never arrived.  I can still hear the closing line intoning the importance of using FedEx “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
     Mostly, of course, I remember laughing hysterically at the businessman, hearing his “they have to be there by 10:30AM”, and seeing his small hand shadows on that enormous blank wall.  Sure, I felt sorry for the poor fellow in the abstract.  But, these things didn’t really happen, right?  It was just TV.  It was only a commercial.
     Within the past week, however, so many years after watching the hapless businessman whose probably long since retired (or died of embarrassment), the laughter at his predicament has finally stopped.  Ironically, this isn’t because I made the boneheaded move he did of using another carrier; rather, it’s because I made the clearly boneheaded move of using FedEx.  Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.  And, the journey to that clarity far too often involves seeing massive amounts of red.  But let me start at the beginning.
     At one point in
Gone With the Wind, Rhett says to Scarlett, “Always take advantage of new experiences.  They enrich the mind”.  Scarlett’s answer:  “My mind’s rich enough.”  While I by no means advocate ignorance in general, I must confess there are moments when Scarlett’s stubborn resistance does have a certain appeal.  Partly because there’s a post office just down the street from where I live (and partly despite the fact their high fees and not always wholly satisfying service make them more the devil you know who’s probably better than the one you don’t), I’ve always used the good old U.S. Postal Service for every one of my (not really all that frequent) shipping needs.  The third part of the reason for this, of course, is simply that I’ve never got around to checking out the alternatives.  And, were I not faced suddenly with the need to ship a package that exceeded the size requirements for Priority Mail, I doubt I would have done so anytime soon.  As Parcel Post would take 4 days, however, and I really wanted it shipped in 2, I did a bit of comparison shopping on the web, finding FedEx offered not only a great deal, it also allowed the whole thing be set up online.  And, of course, I made sure it could all be arranged for same-day pickup since although I was shooting for Monday as the fateful day I was fully aware Tuesday was the much greater likelihood for having the whole thing finalized.
     I therefore didn’t panic in the least when it was somewhere around 1:45AM Tuesday morning that I finally sat down at the computer to begin the shipping process.  Of course, I suppose a warning bell should have gone off when merely setting up the account took about 15 minutes to fill out not more than a dozen or so lines — thanks to a maddening system that won’t process the form until all the information requested is filled out...but which doesn’t direct you in any way as to what portion of it’s missing or wrong.  As a result one gets to play a guessing game I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly in the mood for at that — or, okay, any — hour.
     Aware this package “absolutely, positively” had to leave my house on this particular day (even though it didn’t “have to be there overnight”, so a job like this for the mighty FedEx ought to be a breeze), I fought through the site’s less than user-friendly tangled web until I was offered the magic words:  “Arrange for pickup”.  I subsequently clicked on the “today” option for shipping date, made the various other choices for the job at hand — including e-mail verification of delivery just to insure groundless fears didn’t start me unnecessarily practicing my hand shadow skills at the last minute), and was finally met with two shipping labels I could print out for and affix to the packages (in addition to the oversized one mentioned above was a second smaller sidekick that had to come along). It was 2:15AM by this time and I finally went to bed with the peace of knowing everything was under control.
     Ah ah ah...not so fast.
     Upon getting up for work about 4 and a half hours later the packages were immediately put outside lest the FedEx man started earlier than less time-is-of-the-essence occupations required.  Still, it wasn’t a surprise by any means that they hadn’t yet left by the time we did that morning.  The fact they were still there that night, however, was a far greater shock.
     Immediately I started searching for a phone number — discovering this the cheery, easy to remember 1-800-GO-FEDEX.  Needless to say, however,
I wasn’t feeling all that cherry at the moment.
     When I got a rep on the phone  — in itself encouraging after only about 3 rounds of voicemail requesting “main menu” for more choices...you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever tried to call the phone company, etc. and been ultimately left to wonder if all intelligent life but you had relocated to another planet.  Of course, at that point you’re also pondering your own intelligence at trying to talk to a non-responsive non-person for the last 45 minutes.  But, I digress…
     Back to the story, the representative I finally got was neither all that friendly nor all that helpful.  I explained my situation to him, noting I was a new customer, had first set up an account, then arranged for package pickup, blah, blah blah.  With infuriating calm he first notes, “The system doesn’t let new customers arrange for pickup; you have to take the packages to a FedEx drop-off point.”  Okay, but, um, why then did it offer me the choice “arrange for
His response: “I don’t know.  But if you want to set up the account for packages to be picked up you’ll have to talk to another representative in a different department.”
My response: “Maybe later.  Right
now, I have packages that were to be put on one of your trucks today.” 
Him:  “Well, you couldn’t have sent them today, anyway.  Ground service online can only be arranged for the
next day.”
Me:  “Then why did it create labels with today’s date?”
Him:  “I don’t know.”
Me: “Okay, fine, I’ll take it to a drop-off center tomorrow.  Just one more question.  I see a $10 charge from my debit card,  I know the shipping cost is more, so what’s that for? 
Him:  “That’s the fee for home pickup.”
     I ask you, gentle readers...is it me????
     Oh, but it gets better.  The packages were dropped off the following afternoon (Wednesday) at the appointed FedEx center.  And, it was assured they would be delivered in two days.  The next day I go to my online FedEx account to check their progress.  Somehow I wasn’t surprised when only one package could be accounted for — and it was just the sidekick.  The day after that (Friday) I get an e-mail noting this sidekick had been delivered...alone.  Needless to say, this spawned a flurry of e-mails, each reaching a different representative who offered a completely out-of-left field non-answer to my inquiry.  The best one was “you should check online tracking before contacting customer service” in response to my message that began “after checking online tracking...”.  If you read last month’s column you’ll know what I mean when I ask… Does FedEx only hire people who used to work for the New Jersey DMV????
     Anyway, long story a wee bit shorter, the next day (i.e. Saturday) I finally got another e-mail confirming the main package had at last, too, been delivered.  Of course, given when this whole adventure started Tuesday morning it took 4 days to get there.  And, if you recall, that’s the exact amount of time I didn’t want to wait by just using Parcel Post.
     Is there a moral to this story?  Oh yes.  Although it’s taken a lot of years during which I never gave that poor businessman in the old FedEx commercials a thought, I’d really love to be able to write him a letter that says I’m not laughing anymore.  Actually, there’s a part of me that would like to track him down and give him a hug.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to rely on
FedEx tracking to try that...
     Be that as it may, I’ve definitely learned my lesson.  When you’ve got something important to send and it “absolutely, positively, has to be there” not necessarily overnight but sometime within your aggravation-from-Federal Express-now FedEx-spawned “abbreviated” lifespan, use a carrier pigeon or just take it across the country yourself.  Heck, I could have wheeled my packages to their destination 4 states away in a shopping cart about as fast as FedEx got them there. 
     Oh yeah, you can call me crazy for such a conclusion...but I’ve gotta admit — if “repeating the same behavior expecting different results” constitutes insanity, when it comes to shipping I’ve become quite frighteningly “normal”… and am not about to use FedEx again anytime soon.  Hey, I may be crazy — but I ain’t stupid. “I may be crazy, but I ain’t stupid.” 








     M  i  l    M  a  n  i  a


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Welcome To The August
Issue of Mil Mania!

     Volume 3, Issue 7, August 2007


Music Mayhem    

As noted in the December 2005 edition of Mil Mania, I continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the three acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.com. However, I now also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here.  And, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.


This month’s featured artist:


Roxette    Like most
radio listeners at the time
I became aware of this
duo via the 1989 hit song,
“The Look”.  And, when
the follow-ups to it
(“Listen To Your Heart”,
“Dangerous”, etc.) continued to hold my attention I bought the disc...and (on the strength of their song “Must Have Been Love”) the
Pretty Woman soundtrack...and, their next full album, Joyride.  In fact, it was the last of these that is probably most to be credited for their appearance here.  Not only was the title track wonderfully catchy,  but its follow up single, “Fading Like A Flower” proved irresistibly so to a point my appreciation for it never faded in the least.  Still, the standout song on the album remains for me “Spending My Time”...and enduring tale of the period following a relationship’s end told through vivid images that perfectly capture the obsession and longing of such circumstances.  Lines like, “the TV’s on, but the only thing showing is a picture of you”  and “I leave a kiss on your answering machine” all set to a lovely haunting melody add up to a song that will surely haunt you after just one listen...if it hasn’t (as in my case) already done so for years. 
     To learn more about Roxette and what they’ve been up to in more recent times, go to




Third Eye Blind has wrapped up their summer tour and as fans await news of that ever elusive next album, they’ve been given something a little different to look forward to in the meantime.  As per a recent announcement from The Village Churchyard a  Third Eye Blind tribute album by various artists is scheduled for a November release. 
     Also at that site you can check out this link to several recent Third Eye Blind related articles...
     Finally, congrats to Jen of
SJ.com and her husband Dan, who welcomed a daughter, Ava, this month.  All the best to mom, dad and baby girl.

Brian Fitzpatrick has answered last month’s wish for some news in a pretty big way.  Here’s an excerpt from a recent blog entry
Working on a few new tunes with an old friend of mine, Lou Tambone.  Finishing one called "The Stories That They'll Tell". Got a few more buried deep in this head of mine. Still fishing to try and get them out.
     Joe Beets is back on the scene.  He is running "Spread the Sun" which is an anagram for "The Underpass"...[at] The Alexus Steak House in Hawthorne…. I'll be playing a show there in late August.
     On the graphics end things are going well. Working on a show pitch for the Food Network... Also finishing up the soundtrack artwork for "The Darjeeling Limited".  Had a conference call with Wes Anderson... Seems like a nice guy…
     Leaving for Ireland very soon. Looking forward to that.  When I come back I'll be gearing up for the fall and for Hockey season.  My Devils tickets just came in.  Looking forward to the new arena.
     Be well friends!”
Thanks to Brian for the update.

Michael McDermott is the subject of a host of news this month.  Not only does the new album…


... officially hit stores on Aug. 28th, he’s also returned to New York for an ongoing string of appearances at The Living Room.  You can check out a review page I created to commemorate the first of these at
www.artistinsane.com/living_room__8-1-07.htm.  Those for his shows there on the 15th and 29th will follow shortly.
     In the meantime, Michael also celebrated a birthday this month — as you well know if you’ve been reading recent issues of
Mil Mania, visited my website, etc. over the past few weeks.  With the celebration for that (and the release of the new CD) just ended I want to here extend my thanks to everyone involved, and express the hope Michael was as excited about the finished product when he opened it as I’ve been about preparing it for him.
     That said, check back
here soon for the unveiling of the completed gift.
     In still more McDermott news, Michael was again tapped to perform at the Greenbelt Music Festival in Cheltenham, England, as well as a couple London club performances to round out his visit there. 
     As if all that’s not enough, he also recently appeared on NBC’s Weekend Today — which I expect will be available for viewing via his myspace page soon — and has been tapped for a full-page feature in the 9/2 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times.
     Lastly, congrats and best wishes to Michael’s mom — who turned 80 herself on his birthday.  Let’s hope a truly terrific
lady enjoyed a truly terrific day!



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Ravings of a Mad Woman

This column corresponds with the Mad Ra-vings On section of www.artistinsane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a  random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.



The Devil Wears Prada —  Although this film features several almost unbearably silly moments (particularly early on) it ultimately surprises by addressing some interesting questions with regard to honoring commitments, balancing home life with the work place and what constitutes losing oneself in the process of negotiating the tangled maze of these complex issues. 

     Recent Northwestern graduate and aspiring journalist Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) accepts a job at New York City’s glamorous “Runway” magazine on the promise that a year there will guarantee her a spot at any writing job she cares to subsequently land.  Learning very quickly that this year is going to consist of 365 extremely unpleasant days in service to nightmare boss Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), she approaches her position as something to simply endure...merely a “job that pays the rent”.  Of course, as we see her clinking glasses with her friends in a toast to this viewpoint, we already know her mere “job” is about to become much more.  Just what this more consists of, however, is not at all what she expected, nor anything she wants — at first.  But when her outward appearance begins to change in a bold move to prove her determination, seemingly more subtle inner changes spurred on by this same determination begin as well.  Finally, though, the growing volume of her wardrobe is matched only by the growing volume of time spent away from both her boyfriend  (played by Adrien Grenier) and the self she used to know, leaving the beautifully together person she sees in the mirror to ultimately deal with all in her life that’s coming apart. 
     What’s interesting about all this is the direction in which the viewer is led — or at least this viewer felt to be — throughout a major portion of this transition.  And, frankly, I remain undecided several weeks after watching the film, whether I don’t even now share Andy’s belief that she had very little choice in the events leading up to a fateful confrontation in the street — although when it comes to the manner in which she handled that confrontation and the things she did from there on out all grey area has turned to very clear black and white.  And, beyond question Andy has slipped to the dark side of this equation.

     Backing up to all that came before it, though, I think the film presents a very challenging case that having committed to a situation it really is a sign of strong character to honor that commitment.  And, one can’t help wondering how each of us watching would react if placed in similar circumstances.  After all, the problem basically lies in having unknowingly accepted commitments that require diametrically opposed actions, and the inevitable dilemma of serving two masters — in this case professional and personal lives and the people who inhabit them.  Of course, at last one is forced to evaluate just how much the choices one makes along the way prove the road to hell truly is paved with good intentions—or if those choices force one to admit they were all made in service to oneself.  Finally, it’s only left to be determined  what one wants from that point on...and I’ll leave it to you who haven’t yet seen this film to find out what Andy decides.

     I’ll also leave it to you to decide what the one aspect of her final choice I disagree with says about me.   With matters on the inside once more firmly in proper perspective, I’d be a liar not to admit...

     I’d have kept the clothes.




                                 If you missed the announcement in the 
December 2006 issue, as per the precedent  
                          set by
Dear Abby which syndicated column
MOLLY     retained that title when passing to its origin- 
                          ator’s daughter , so this column continues to retain the name of its  originator now that
Molly has passed on.  The “madvice” currently offered herein, therefore, is that of Keela, one of the “noisy neighbors” Molly spoke of frequently — and who you may have met previously via the photo collection taken during her pregnancy and in the weeks after her fifteen babies were born.  Needless to say, with that kind of experience, Keela, like Molly, knows a bit about life as learned by her adventures as a rodent single mom.  Also like Molly, she has a strong mind of her own with much rat wisdom to share.  I hope you’ll enjoy her commentary. 


E-mail your “Molly Madvises” questions to mil@ artistinsane.com and I’ll pass them on to Keela.  Thanks!


That said, on to this month’s question…


Dear Keela,
     As some of your street-dwelling rodent friends could probably tell you, neighborhood gentrification means moving day is on its way.  When the wrecking crew comes in to slap up the new condo-trendy supermarket-dry cleaner-dvd store-construction, for a rat, the same-old, same-old life as he knows it is over and he scurries away.  But there are always some holdouts who won't let their claim to the block go.  I needed to visit a colorful area just like this recently on Chicago's near west side.  The block is still home to a few shops that immigrant businessmen opened back in the day, selling an array of random merchandise that haphazardly fills the shelves.  And some of the "independent" street hawkers still hang around eager to nab a buyer.  One such well-dressed, gentleman spotted me coming out of a fabric store and had me marked as his next customer.  I am a magnet for these types!  I knew the drill and politely dismissed his offer of a very nice, I must say, men's wallet.  "How ‘bout one for the Mister?" he coaxed.  I said no and peeked into my bag to check what I had bought.  He peeked in it also and asked what it was.  "Some trim for a handbag I'm making for a friend."  Keela,  his face lit up and the hustler vanished.  He launched into a story about how he, back in his day, designed handbags and came very close to working for a huge designer.  He went on to explain how he just couldn't bear the idea of selling out, so he didn't follow the corporate path.  I had a strong sense that he was being real.  I dropped a few names and he picked them
right up, knew their product and audience.  He also told me of his other creative ventures.   As we walked and talked his passion started melting into distress.  He shared that he was homeless and doing what he needs to do to survive but was also trying desperately to figure out what he really wants.  He said repeatedly that he just didn't know what ii is.  That scared him.  I totally felt that.  I was taken with this raw moment of human fragility in this complete stranger.   I offered him the best thought I could which was that I believed he did in fact know what it is and that he only had to believe that and then follow it.  Well, something happened with that.  His sensitivity became less visible and the entrepreneur/money-maker resurfaced.  There by the colossal Target we had walked up to he thanked me for our time spent and noted he had to get to "the neighborhood" to sell some more wallets.  I wished him success.  Keela, this encounter has left me kind of saying "Hmm?"  It was very nice but  it now has me second-guessing myself.  What do you think?  How is it that we figure out what it is that we really want?  Is it in fact there all along, or do we need the wrecking crew to knock our world down in order to find the answer in the rubble?

Wondering about Wanting


Dear Wondering,

     This is such a hard question that I’ve been chewing on it for three whole days now — and still don’t have a complete answer.  What I do have, though, is teeth so worn down from its toughness I’m going to have to eat soft foods until they grow back to normal.  Thankfully, being a rat, that happens pretty fast — and besides, I can probably talk Mom and Dad into giving me lots of treats like whipped cream in the meantime...mmmm….but I’ve scampered off the topic already, haven’t I?
     Back to your question, I think this is what’s called a...ratnigma — uh, something like that, anyway.  I had it right yesterday ‘cause I had Mom help me look it up in the dictionary.  And the definition we found there was  “anything that arouses curiosity or perplexes because it is unexplained, inexplicable, or secret”. 

     The thing is, in the case of the hu-man you described, I think the answers are all found in your last question...and that at the same time the answer is “inexplicable” in part because “it’s secret”.  In other words, maybe he really and truly doesn’t know what it is he wants.  I’m sure he would say he doesn’t want to be homeless, and (not even) making a living selling things on the street of a neighborhood that’s apparently causing even my ratlatives be become homeless in its current state of change.  At the same time, though, maybe he knows you were right in saying that he does know what he wants and just can’t find the courage to believe in it enough to go scurry after it.  Maybe he doesn’t even know where to start scurrying in the first place, or who to ask for help.  After all, it sounds like he’s a very rat-ist-ic kind of hu-man (wait — art? istic — I always mix that up because of that thing my mom and I have both talked about before — rat and art being made up of the same letters…).  Anyway, from what I understand any creative pursuit is an especially hard way for a hu-person to make a living...look at Linguini in Ratatouille — he needed to let Remy help him because it was so hard to be accepted in the competitive ratmosphere of that fancy restaurant.  (That, plus the fact he couldn’t cook and Remy could, but it would still have been very difficult to prove himself because the non-ratistic head of the place didn’t care about art or creativity to begin with…).  The thing is, even this would-be handbag designer you speak of has learned that it’s easier to be a business-person in some form than an artist.  And, maybe he can deal with being homeless because he doesn’t see himself as a very good business-hu-man, but if he really does believe he’s a good artist and couldn’t make a living at that, maybe he would believe the lie of so many in the world that he was “worthless”.  And, that’s a subject I know a lot about all because some hu-person back in the beginning of time spread the lie that me and my ratlatives are worthless and a lot of people all over the world still believe just that.

     But that’s where the wrecking balls you speak of, too, come in.  Sometimes we do need a wrecking ball of sorts to knock us out of our accustomed surroundings and open us to the greater possibilities beyond.  But, you know from how much I screamed “E!” and “Let Me GO!” when the wrecking ball first came into my world that change for anyone is scary.  And, so is finding the courage to make an effort to deal with that change, survive it and start living a new life.  Maybe hardest of all, though, is surrendering to those who might help us through these changes…trusting the kindness of strangers and one’s instinct to “believe” in one’s “into-wishin” when such hu-people come along.   If I’d stayed in the “old neighborhood” of the pet shop where I came from I know now I’d have faced a whole different kind of “wrecking” — and I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here in the comfort of my happy home with my wonderful sisters and kids and adoptive parents talking to you.  And, I know now, too,  that’s what I wanted all along — even though I didn’t know it right away.

     I hope that answers your question, and I hope this hu-man really does find what he wants.  As for me, right now (like pretty much always) I want something (kinda mushy) to eat!                                  




                       Molly Madvises 

         (now by Molly’s neighbor Keela)








Comments from Mil Mania readers
                on the July issue...

In A Nutshell

  Writings From The Asylum

     “So what do we make of happenings like your hearing "The Last to Know" at such an unexpected moment like it was?  I had an exact same experience last year.  I had been thinking about the Wings' song "With  A Little Luck," really wanting to hear it, not knowing where I had stored ,or if  I still even had, the vinyl disc.  A couple of days later, there I was browsing the grocery store's salad dressing section, and what seeps in through the speakers?  That song does not get a lot of airplay (the station that I listen to at least) . How wild, I thought.   Just makes me believe
even further of our soul's connection to what we are, as Keela says, "passion-fruit" about.” 


     “Thanks for posting the pics and the review [of Michael McDermott’s 8/1 show]... next best thing to being there.”



Text Box:          As always, feel free to drop 
                by my “space” at


With birthdays mentioned prominently in this month’s Music Mayhem section, I was reminded of this poem I wrote on my own birthday a couple years back.  As it’s been on my website for a while now, some of you who’ve visited there may already be familiar with it.  If so, I apologize for the redundancy. 


Coming Of Age


I’ve heard age called just a number,

But I don’t believe that’s true.

‘Cause I think it’s lots of numbers...

They add up to me and you.


4/19, 12/8, 10/12 - numbers,

Birthdays of some friends...

Special numbers we invest in --

High returns yielded by them.


31, a favorite baseball player,

In basketball ‘twas 8;

Number 18 — football champ...

Strength of heart’s what makes each great


I woke up age 15 the day

My dad’s number was called.

By its end I’d passed his 42;

Subtraction makes time stall...


Number 1, my academic rank

In high school -- made Mom proud...

Now just comfort for embarrassment;

Lifts that “God, how stupid” cloud.


Perhaps we are just numbers,

Ones that do reveal our age.

But not our age’s number,

Rather what fills each life’s page...


Courage, through discovery of our

Heritage and pride;

Mileage on our journey,

Private moments locked inside...


Rites of passage we’ve survived,

Damage inflicted and felt;

Encouraged and discouraged

By the highs and lows we’re dealt.


So many ages all add up

To one life, don't forget --

Nor that zero is the greatest

If it numbers our regrets.

Literary Lunacy








“...an early discipline any artist learns [is that] you don't get taken with the colors of paints that you've got.  You've got to narrow it down.  It's great to have all the possibilities, but it all starts with an idea.  To sit there and hope something will happen is like dumping 400 gallons of paint on the floor and hoping a picture is going to emerge.  It doesn't work
that way."
Ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith

“Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors." 
Novelist Charles de Lint


                                          Okay, so maybe tech-
                                    nically it’s not still August
                                    when you’re receiving this
                                    newsletter.  But it really was
                                    when most of it was written
                                    and I don't want to be
                                    cheated out of the
                                    opportunity to  sweat
                                    over trying to meet another
                                    deadline when the end of
                                    September rolls around by passing this off as a combined issue.  I’m
kidding!  The truth is I don’t want to miss out on sharing a whole new batch of insanity with my readers nor waiting until October to chat with all of you again.  So here at last is another edition of Mil Mania filled with madness, rants and raves.  Indeed August proved an eventful month — some of those events positive, some less so, as you will see — but all providing much fodder for newsletter material even if not much time to write it down.  It also proved highly educational  with regard to package shipping as you’ll note when you read on...which experience finally clarifies something for me about one of my all-time favorite animated characters, The Grinch.  While the narration of this Dr. Seuss Christmas cartoon classic speculates about the reasons for his “grinchiness” as perhaps attributable to his head or his shoes, I now think there’s another far more reasonable explanation.  It’s my belief he once loved Christmas, sent his family and friends loads of gifts, etc.  Then one year he used FedEx for the first time — none of his gifts arrived, and he never got over the horror of disappointing everyone he knew.  He became obsessed with the tangible gifts portion of the holiday and turned his back on the whole Christmas season.  Well, maybe not — but when you read this month’s  Temporary Insanity column you might see how such a theory could make sense...at least in the world of an “artist insane”!
     In any case, I hope you enjoy a little August  in September.  And as always thanks for reading.


                 Newsletter Spotlight                    

As introduced in the first issue of Mil Mania, this column presents the latest chapter in the “prequel” to my screenplay, Taking the Fall. While the script picks up four years after the suicide of the main character (Joshua Gray)’s girlfriend, the novel begins with that act itself, and the portion shared here continues to document events taking place in the weeks after the funeral…(you can catch up on prior chapters by viewing back issues on the Mil Mania Sign-up page).

  The Leap to Limbo (tentative title),     Chapter 16,  “Almost Home” 


     Saturday night found Josh onstage yet again, this time back in San Francisco, playing a full out rock set for a typically rowdy weekend crowd.  Tomorrow he, Chris, their bands – and, of course, Chris’s small rodent friend, Henderson, would complete the final leg of their return to L.A.  After all the drama, trauma and just plain pushing through that had characterized these last 8 days, it somehow seemed fitting to now be standing in this place frozen in time as the epicenter of victory mingled with defeat.  After all, things were finally going well again; aside from a couple lingering bruises and a bit of other physical evidence still gracing his left forearm, Josh felt like himself again – or at least the self he’d been alternately losing and getting to know ever since he’d last stood on this stage what now seemed like aeons in the past.  He and Tommy hadn’t run into any further conflicts since “the incident”, and the band had pulled together to once more hum like a well-oiled machine.  Only the eerie prickling of déjà vu and fear of history repeating kept the mood of the group, and Josh in particular, from feeling fully rejuvenated, and slightly dulled the creeping anticipation of potentially good things ahead. 

     The set was winding down with a song they’d been working on just this week on the road to document their troubled journey of late.  Called “Band of Brothers In Arms” it was a tune they all felt very much in tune with as it proved once again the therapeutic potential of their collaborative efforts.

     Chris’s band had gone on first tonight, and as soon as Josh’s finished up and the audience began to disperse, he and the others swarmed the stage to clear out their equipment and head back to the hotel.  
     “Good set, man,” Chris said with a quick slap on the arm as he started shoving gear into a duffel bag.
     “Thanks,” Josh replied.  “It
felt good – for a change.”  Putting his guitar in its case and searching around for a minute before scooping a capo off the floor, he went on, “Hey did that guy from the festival – the one from our label – did he ever call you back or what?”

     Chris shrugged.  “Ah, we’ve been kind of playing phone tag all week.  I don’t know where that’s going exactly.”

     Busy with loading out, the two held no further conversation and soon Josh returned to his own thoughts.   And the closer he came to having to stay once more in a San Francisco hotel the more his good mood began to fade and the aforementioned associations with his prior experience in that area both too long ago and yet not long enough began to resurface.  As they tossed the last pieces of equipment into the van and closed the doors, Josh surprised the group with a proposition.
     “How about we skip the hotel…just drive back now.”

     A general moan rippled among the group. 

     “It’s already 1AM,” Matt observed.  “And it’s been a long week.  I’ve gotta admit I was kinda looking forward to hitting the sack.”

     “Look, I’ll drive,” Josh offered.  “It’s only a five hour trip.  You guys can sleep the whole way if you want.”

     “And you’re a vampire now or what?” Randy asked.  “You’ve been up for like a hundred hours straight, and now you want to drive all night.”  Looking around at the group he continued, “Come on, somebody help me out here.”
     Chris held up a hand.  “Hey, I’m just a passenger, dude.”

     Randy looked skyward and let out a dramatic sigh.   It was Tommy who broke the deadlock.  “I’m cool with leaving,” he said slowly, looking steadily at Josh.  Turning to Randy, he asked brusquely., “Haven’t you seen enough hotel rooms for one week?”

     Having tangled with Tommy too many times before, Randy just frowned and turned away.  Finally he found his voice again and muttered, “Yeah, okay, whatever.”

     An hour later they had collected Henderson and their luggage from the hotel and Josh guided the van southward on Rte. 5, fully aware that the tiny bit of sanity he’d hung onto by avoiding a return to “the scene of the crime” represented only the smallest of triumphs.  But he was beginning at last to realize it was stringing just such tiny wins together that would add up to his survival.  And, as he drove on in the darkness, finally he could feel himself heading toward some light.



Text Box: From The Rat 
                  Fan Club:
The Rat of the Week 

Nabakov and Nikolai live with Mildred Scott in Washington, New Jersey.  Mildred writes, 
     “I've been dying to share with you the story of our latest adoptees...two hairless brothers whose photos are attached.  My husband went into a pet store to buy a 125 gal. aquarium in which to move several of the growing baby boys from Izzy and Sunny's litters...and came out with these guys!  It seems a family has a pair which they allow to breed for their children to enjoy until they become about 8 months old when they bring them to this pet store.  The girl working there had fallen in love with the dark-faced one and was calling him "Neckwarmer".  I thought he should have a wee bit more sophisticated name but wanted to stay with something that sounded close to what he knew so dubbed him "Nabakov".  His brother (who is pretty much pink/light all over) I've called "Nikolai".  They're both incredibly warm and wonderful individuals who very quickly made themselves at home.
     “As per the quote from a friend I mentioned regarding Noah, ‘even when you don't breed rats they multiply’.  So true!”

In Memory of…

          Flannery and Noonan…










     ...who passed on 8/14 & 8/16/07


They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death they were not divided.

                                2nd Samuel  1:23


                                      Temporary Insanity








Rat Fan Club

Thanks for reading this issue of Mil Mania!  And, remember, this is a work in progress, subject to many and varied changes — all adding up to a new and improved publication...so I hope!  Please drop me a line to let me know what you think, including any and all suggestions.  Thank you!!!