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Hey kids,

I’ve been teasing about an awesome new secret project over the weekend and, while it’s not a new book, it is still pretty frickin’ sweet.

When I’m not sitting at home writing, I work at a library as a Customer Service Specialist to pay the bills. Every year, we have what’s called the Summer Reading Club, a program designed to encourage kids to keep reading over the summer through various fun programs, contests, and prizes. And, every year, we have a theme to tie the whole thing together.

This year’s theme is called “Get A Clue. Read.”, embracing the mystery/detective genre. Our branch has decided to turn classic nursery rhymes into mysteries. Where are Little Bo Peep’s lost sheep? Can you find the little kitten’s lost mittens? My project is called “The Case of the Cracked Egg: Who pushed Humpty Dumpty off the Wall?

Now I was kind of bad.

The library has a pretty strict policy about not working on work outside of work. We were supposed to create our displays at work, most of the other librarians using cut paper and found objects in theirs. And I was totally prepared to do this.

But then I didn’t.

As I was driving to my parents place in Cleveland, Friday night, I started thinking about how I didn’t have the time this week – or proper materials – to make my precise vision, which originally involved paper mache. The ideas just started flowing. I knew exactly how to create my display and – better yet – I had a three-day Memorial Day weekend and full access to my dad’s tools to create it with.

I took a trip to the local art store Saturday morning and, for a little over five dollars, I got all of the supplies needed for the project phases.

Phase One: I blew up a balloon and covered it in a Plaster of Paris molding cheese cloth, about four layers.

Phase Two: I coated the balloon in plaster and, once it had dried, sanded it down, painted it white, and cracked the egg in half, make other surface cracks with a utility knife. I also cut a small wooden ball in half and painted it bright yellow.

Phase Three: I coated a sheet of wax paper with several layers of hot glue. Then, I put the yellow ball half on top of the lake of now-dried hot glue and coated that with more hot glue. Then, I placed the cracked plaster egg on top of the hot glue lake and poured even more hot glue inside and all around it.

(Although I took several pictures of the process, my camera decided to go crazy and erase everything on my memory card so now all I have to show you is the finished product.)

The entire thing ended up looking like this:

The overall project was pretty fun to do and, at some point in the future, when I am not nearly as busy with my writing as I am, I would love to start creating on more art and sculpture work again.

Anyway, I’m taking the sculpture into work today. Hopefully, it goes over well and my boss doesn’t yell at me for working on work outside of work.

Wish me luck and, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop on by the Martin Luther King Branch and see The Case of the Cracked Egg for yourself!

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Hey Kids,

So I drove home to Cleveland this weekend because yesterday was my sister’s 25th birthday. We went out to a local bar yesterday — to celebrate her birthday – and today we went out for another birthday dinner with my Grandfather and Aunt.

Apparently, she gets two this year. Well, two so far…

Anyway, so we end up going up to the Applebees on Mayfield Rd. in Lyndhurst. When we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a Skyline Chili next to a Campese Cleaners on the other side of the shopping center. Some about it bothered me. It seemed really familiar. After a second, it occurred to me that I knew where I had seen it before.

Anthony Bourdain eats there in the Cleveland episode of No Reservations, a show I had recently become semi-addicted to.

So we went in, ordered, ate, paid and left.

On the way home, we passed a pizzeria named Tasty Pizza. I told my sister that it’s a good thing they went with “tasty” pizza and not “crappy” pizza. Because, really, who would eat at Crappy Pizza.

But then I got to thinking about it and I started to wish that my last name was Crappy an not Cvetkovic because, if my last name was Crappy, I would totally start up a restaurant called Crappy Pizza.

I thought up a slogan for it and everything:

“Why go somewhere else for Crappy Pizza?”

It’ll be a wildly unsuccessful business venture.

Hey, anybody want to be an investor? Shoot me an email and I’ll tell you how to go about giving me your money.



Your friend (and part-time lover),

Boom Boom Storm Cloud

Hey kids,

So, a while ago, I posted this comic I wrote a looong time ago, that was based upon a true event. It’s called The Last Time I Rode A Greyhound Bus and it sat on my harddrive for YEARS until I gave this script to the talented Mr. Michael Harris to illustrate. We ended up printed it up for The Comictron 2.0 — a book we made for the Wizard World 2008 Chicago Comic Convention, along with two stories by David Brame.

I took another look at it recently and was horrified by the lettering. True, this was the first comic I’ve ever lettered — and for a first-timer, it wasn’t that bad. I’m still not an expert, but I think I have definitely grown leaps and bounds in the lettering field.

Anyway, I went ahead and relettered the story for your reading pleasure.

So enjoy. Or don’t. Whatever. I already gots my money, so your enjoyment doesn’t mean that much to me anymore.

Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud

Dear Frank (Me), Age Nine,

My name is Frank. I am you, from eighteen years in the future. I’m sitting in my apartment (Yeah, we have our own apartment! It’s OK, nothing fancy; just a place to keep all of our stuff. But we do own our own car, a kick-ass music collection – Sorry, I’ll put a dollar in the swear jar. – a puppy, AND we live 150 miles away from Mom and Dad!), writing to you today a warning of the utmost urgency, so you’ll excuse me if I dispense with the usual pleasantries.

(By the way, run quickly up to your room and grab your pocket dictionary from the bookshelf. Keep it close by and look up any words you don’t understand.)

God, there are some many things I want to talk to you – warn you – about. Like who will really want to be your friend in life and who just wants to take advantage of your naive, generous demeanor. Who to associate with and who to avoid. Pitfalls of high school. Tell you to stay on a better track in college. I could give you amazing stock tips and financial advice or at least sit you down and have a talk about the whole sweatpants phase in junior high.

But I’m writing to you today about one thing, one very important, crucial moment in your life and you must not ignore me!

A few days before the start of the fourth grade, Dad is going to tussle your hair and call you an “Ishcabibble;” that funny little Jew word from the old country that no one really knows the definition of, but Dad always calls you when your hair is getting a little long and could use a trim. I’m sure, by now, you’re more than familiar with it.

Hearing this, Mom – being Mom – will have that little money-saving light bulb flicker on above her head. What if she were to give you a haircut? And why don’t I let her perform my prostate exams as well, I should have asked, but didn’t, since I was only nine years old at the time and wasn’t entitled to having my own opinions yet or know what a prostate exam was.

Just because she can use a pair of electric clippers well enough to shave Dad’s neck and back doesn’t make Mom a barber, but try telling her that. No, really. Try telling her that. Stand up for yourself, man! Don’t just sit there and take it like I did! This is your future we’re fighting for!

You know what happens if you don’t?

I didn’t want to have to tell you this – I wanted to spare you the gruesome details – but maybe you need to hear it.

Two days before the start of the fourth grade, Mom is going to tell you to take off your shirt, sit you down in the kitchen chair, and then drape a towel over your chest and shoulders. Then, she’ll take out the electric clippers – the same ones she uses to shave Dad’s neck and back! – and actually have the nerve to ask you which kind of hair cut you want, even though you both know she’s just going to use one setting for the entire job.

But it’s your mother, you think. It’s not like she’s going to purposely try and fuck up your head — dollar in the swear jar — and especially not two days before the start of fourth grade. And you know what? You’re right. She won’t purposely try to ruin your hair, but she’s not a real barber and that outcome is just inevitable. You tell her you’d like a trim, anyway, longer on top and shorter along the sides and back.

She flicks the switch on the clippers to ‘on’ and they hum to life. Vvvmmmmmm. You worry as she brings them closer to your head and are somewhat thankful that there isn’t a mirror in the kitchen, so you can’t see the carnage being done. She runs the clippers through your hair in one swipe, two, three. Clumps fall onto the towel draped around your chest and shoulders before they fall to the floor, each cluster landing with a silent explosion of innocence lost.

She finishes all too quickly, quickly enough that you realize she couldn’t have readjusted the attachment sizes. You’ll remind her that you wanted your hair cut shorter along the sides and back and she’ll sigh as she lights up another cigarette. You feel slightly at ease after reminding her and a bit more as you hear her taking off the attachment. She tilts your head to the side and tells you to keep still, lest you want her to take off an ear or something.

The clippers zoom past your left ear, the vibrations tickling as it passes. As quickly as it comes, it goes, leaving behind the two scariest words in the English language.

“Uh oh.”

You ask what’s the matter, but Mom denies anything is wrong. You tell her that people don’t normally say ‘uh oh’ – especially when cutting hair – unless there is something completely, drastically wrong. She tells you not to worry about it, she can fix it, just tilt your head to the other side and hold still this time, God damn it! (Dollar in the swear jar.) You do as you’re told and feel the same sensations as you did a moment ago.

Well, that’s as good as I can get it, Mom says, lifting the towel off of your chest and shoulders, taking one last long drag on her cigarette. You hop out of the kitchen chair and race upstairs. Mom calls after you – No running in the house! — but you ignore her. You leap up the stairs, two at a time, desperately needing to get to the bathroom to see what has become of your once glorious locks. You try to open the door but it won’t budge. Your sister calls out from behind the door – Someone’s in here! — and you plead with her to, please, hurry.

She finishes and, before she can unlock the door, you are already clutching the handle. The door swings open and she starts to yell at you – Wait your turn– but she stops mid-sentence. She looks at you strangely, for a moment, confused, perplexed, and then explodes into a fit of laughter. She starts to make fun of you, but you can’t hear her. You just push past her, towards the mirror. You close your eyes, step up in front of the bathroom sink, and then you open them.

Looking back at you is someone familiar but completely different. This person looks like you, sure — same eyes, same nose, mouth, skin tone, same patch of freckles sprinkled over your chubby cheeks – but something about him is completely wrong. You are so shocked by what you see that it actually takes you a minute to realize what it is that you’re looking at.

Your hair has been mowed down to a one inch length, all around your head. Every hair on your head, in every direction, is exactly one inch long. But that’s not what panics you, no. What has made you so anxious is the fact that there is a two inch C-shaped patch of skin circling both of you ears. There is not a single hair within TWO INCHES of your ears. Your hair looks sort of like a Mohawk that was unhappy with the inch wide strip that ran straight down the center of your head and tried to expand into a larger territory, like Germany did to Poland in WWII.

You have WORLD WAR TWO on top of your head.

You stare into the mirror for what seems like forever, mourning your loss. Your lips tremble, your eyes water. Finally, you let out a primal cry.

“Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!”

You trample down the stairs, back to the kitchen, where Mom is wrapping up the cord to the electric clippers in tight circles and lighting up another cigarette. You tell her that your hair is ruined. She assures you that she’s trying to calm you down when she says that it’s just hair and that it will grow back. It’s not that bad. It’s not the end of the world. No one will even notice.

No one.

Will.

Even.

Notice?

NO ONE WILL EVEN NOTICE?!?

You mean that no one will notice that your hair looks as if it is completely and utterly terrified of your ears and is trying to get as far away from them as quickly as possible? You won’t even be able to get through dinner without your dad and sister making fun of you, how does she think that an entire school full of nine and ten year olds is going to react?

You find out two days later, on the first day of school.

I won’t going into the gory details of how the other kids laughed at you, teased you, called you names, but it was the first time you ever heard – or were called – the word ‘fag’. You don’t know what it means, when you first hear it, but it still makes you feel bad. You feel even worse when you get home, run quickly up to your room, grab your pocket dictionary from the bookshelf, and look up its meaning.

You’ve never felt as bad about yourself as you did then. Not even when kids teased you about your weight, or called you ugly or dumb. That horrible, hateful three-letter little word made you want hide and never be found.

As bad as it feels, though, it does get worse. Hair grows back and scars do heal, but kids never forget.

YOU will never forget.

The fact that I’m still writing this letter – that I even remember the incident – tells me that my little time-travel experiment has failed. But I hope, for our sake, that this letter finds you, so you can stand up to Mom and tell her to stop being such a cheapskate, spend the five dollars and take you to a real barber, dammit! (Dollar in the swear jar.)

Good luck and Godspeed.

Yours,
Frank (Me), Age 27

PS – Seven years from now, when you’re sixteen, and Bridgette Owens asks you if you want to touch her bra area, say yes, and you’ll successfully avoid gay accusations for at least a few more years.

Hey kids,

OK.

Here is a comic I wrote a long time ago, that was based upon a true event. It’s called The Last Time I Rode A Greyhound Bus. It sat on my harddrive for YEARS. Recently, I gave this script to the talented Mr. Michael Harris to draw and we printed it up for The Comictron 2.0; a book we made for the Wizard World 2008 Chicago Comic Convention, along with two stories by David Brame.

Unfortunately, I ended up giving away more than we sold. (We ended up selling an embarrassing two copies of the book.) This comic was the first comic script I’ve ever written that has actually been illustrated (other than by myself) and printed. I’m very proud of this work and I would hate if only a handful of people ever got to see it.

So I’m posting it here for all (ten of you who will actually read this blog) to see. The Comictron 2.0 is still for sale so, if you would like a copy, let Michael or I know. It contains this story, as well as an amazingly hilarious Pirates vs Ninjas story (and one more that’s extremely hard to read — well, it is, Dave!) by Mr. Brame.

Either way, enjoy.


Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud


Another fantastic fucking Ohio winter, I thought, as I trudged through the sleet and ice and snow towards the corner of Washington and Long St., where I was to meet my bus.

Great time for my car to break down, I cursed over and over.

In good weather, it was only a ten-minute walk from my job to the bus stop. This, as earlier stated, was not good weather.

After twenty-five minutes of plodding a trail across unplowed sidewalks and parking lots, I reached the corner, only to see the number sixteen bus, my bus, fly by.

Fuck.

I raced around the bend, furiously trying to grab the driver’s attention, but it was no use. It was already long past.

I wanted nothing now but to stand and wait for the next bus, alone and angry, cursing the fates, but the fates never did like me.

Sitting at my bus stop was a cute caramel-colored girl — cute in a way that all girls are cute when all you can see are their eyes and just the bridge of their nose — bundled up in more clothes than I even own.

After a not-quite-bad-but-not-quite-good day at work, the horrific slushy dirty weather, and the fact that I would have to stand out in the cold for at least another half hour waiting for the next bus, only one thought crossed my mind.

Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. I’m not a good person to talk to right now. I will hurt you feelings. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me.

Again, with the fates thing.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, the girl, whose name I later learned to be Amber, unwrapped herself from the scarves and woolen hat like a present on Christmas morning. Then, she pointed, with ungloved hands, at her wrist, and asked, “Do you know the time?” and then quickly replaced her hands in her pockets.

I told her it was about a quarter after one, and then resumed my silent waiting.

Amber stood up abruptly, walked through the ten or so feet between us, and sat down again, right next to me.

“Did you say a quarter past one?”

Yeah.

“Wow. The number six is really late. Which bus are you waiting for?”

The sixteen.

“You just missed it.”

I know.

“Fucking weather, huh?”

Well, that’s Ohio for ya.

“Yeah, I know. It gets worse in northern Ohio.”

Yeah, I said. I’m from Cleveland.

“Medina,” she said.

A few minutes of silence passed.

“My boyfriend, well, my ex-boyfriend, was supposed to pick me up from class today, but I guess he just didn’t feel like it. What about you?”

No, I don’t think your ex-boyfriend is going to pick me up, either, I replied.

That earned a little giggle.

“No no no. I meant do you have someone to do stuff like that for you? Pick you up from school? Or work?”

An ex-boyfriend? No. No, I don’t.

Another giggle.

“Ex-boyfriend. Ex-girlfriend. Current boyfriend. Current girlfriend. Whatever.”

No. No ex- or current girlfriend to do that picking up stuff. And no ex- or current boyfriend at all to do those things.

“Aw, buck up. I sure the right guy is out there somewhere for you,” she smiled. Her giggles were becoming addictive.

“So, when was the last time you had one of those ‘significant other’ thingies? Mine broke just before Thanksgiving.”

It’s been almost two years since my last real ‘significant other’ thingy broke.

“Your last real girl? What does that mean? The last real?”

It was a little over a year and a half ago that my last girlfriend and I split. Our schedules didn’t quite fit; there was a slight age difference, and there were kids involved. It was just for the best to split when we did. Wanted to end it before anyone got hurt.

“And…”

And then, a few months later, I met this girl. We became good friends. And I feel in love with her. At least, I think I did. I’ve never been in the ‘L’ word with anyone before, so I couldn’t tell you if it was the real deal or not.

It just felt… complete.

“And how long did you two last?”

We didn’t.

“Why not?”

I never asked her out. We were just friends. I don’t think she even knew that I was in the “L” word with her.

“Why didn’t you ever tell her? You chickenshit!”

No, it’s not that I was scared to tell her… okay, I was terrified to tell her, but it was something more that that.

“What?”

When I looked at her, I saw the whole package: dating, marriage, the house on the hill with the white picket fence. A couple of kids, a couple of dogs. Growing old together. Grandkids.

“And it scared you?”

No, actually it felt great. I knew she was the girl for me. The only girl for me.

“But…”

I knew she was the girl for me, but I knew I wasn’t the guy for her. She deserved better. So I never told her that I loved her.

“That is so… heartbreaking.

It hurt like hell.

“How did you ever get over it?”

I don’t know if I ever did. I just gently pushed it to the side and tried to quietly sneak around it.

“Man, I’m sorry.” After a pause, she shivered, “Well, here comes your bus. It was nice having someone to talk to.”

It’s no problem, I said, waving the bus on.

“That was your bus, the sixteen,” she said.

I know, I said, handing her my gloves. Another one will be by in a while.

Besides, it’s such a beautiful day.