Category Archives: Writing Challenge

Depravity Killed the Radio Star

CC image courtesy of James Cridland on Flickr.

Have you dreamt of becoming famous? What would your claim to fame be? Comedy? Acting? Writing? Race car driving? Go!


It’s been about five years since the last time I was on the air. For most of my adult life, I was either in radio or wanted to get back in the business. Just so you know, I haven’t missed it these five years. I’m glad to be out.

All in all, I spent about twelve years as a disc jockey (much of that was spent at 99X in Shreveport). I guess that title has been obsolete for around fifteen years since music libraries have transitioned from compact disc to hard drive. For all I know, there are radio stations that “cloud broadcast.”

Broadcasting was a profession that didn’t come naturally to me. I had a lisp that I finally corrected in broadcasting school and any manner of public speaking was unpleasant.

It was nice being a local celebrity. Everyone knew me, but I maintained my anonymity as radio guys aren’t normally recognized or discovered except at station promotions. Generally speaking, I hated being found out. That meant I had to engage in some inane conversation. That conversation usually revolved around being on the radio or some crazy thing I did on the air.

Trust me, crazy was commonplace when I was on the air. Actually, it was utter depravity on the air. Come on, I went by Naked Jake. I wasn’t some Hot AC jock pandering to a thirty-four year old female audience. I was at an Active Rock station where my shenanigans continually had me in hot water.

Looking back at my career, I’m shocked and ashamed of what I had become. The ratings were killer. I should have stayed in country radio where I probably would have remained “respectable.” Then again, if I didn’t come unglued at a rock station, I wouldn’t have my wife or my children. I actually met Heather eleven days after I signed on. So, some good did come from those days.

Friends still try to dredge up old stories. I just shake my head at my stupidity and change the subject.

I thought I wanted to be famous. I thought I could dance in the darkness unscathed.

Then again, I guess I am famous. I’m on Wikipedia. That’s funny. I only worked there a few months before I got canned. That was my last full time radio gig.

The Cantaloupe Incident

CC image courtesy of Betty Ming Liu on Flickr

Tell us about a time when you fought authority and took a stand against “the man.” Did you win?


I know there were moments in life where I stood up against authority. I just can’t think of anything meaningful. Most of my defiant moments were pretty ridiculous. Like the time I tried to get out of eating squash and I yacked in my plate. Gross, huh?

We were having cantaloupe for dessert. I love cantaloupe. It’s so juicy and meaty. If my parents didn’t have succulent bribery, I’m sure brute force was next.

I’m not surprised that food is a big motivator for me but who goes cuckoo for cantaloupe? That’s right. This guy. I still do.

As a matter of fact, when I get a good one, I’ll compulsively nosh until it’s gone. Right before bed.

Do you realize how poorly you sleep after eating two pounds of melon? You just don’t retain all that fluid in your cankles.

I remember that dinner like yesterday. It must’ve been thirty years ago. I can’t remember what we ate for dinner. I can’t even remember much after the incident. I’m pretty sure I was wearing my Yoda Underoos. I remember fried squash. I remember the melon-y goodness. Most of all, I remember a semi-voluntary reaction to purge my body of this foul vegetable.

After making a spectacle with two minutes of heaving and groaning, my dad said, “Alright. That’s enough.” I stopped with my squash expulsion.

The rest of the meal was as if I was on a vision quest. I rinsed my plate at the sink and sat down to finish dinner.

Oh, and I had cantaloupe.

I won.

Tomorrow Might be Better

Who decided that procrastination is wasting time? Relaxing is key to my creative process. I realize I need to relax more than others, but I’m results driven. It doesn’t matter what task is at hand. I just happen to know that even simple tasks like cleaning toilets require two or three days of preparation.

The way I see it, if I remain productive I never have time to take it easy. There is always something to be done. Some people, like your boss, may say you are wasting time, but I say you are biding your time, or you are analyzing potential outcomes. I like that one. It sounds technical.

I was a quality technician at a manufacturing plant. It’s the perfect job. There really is no work to complete, you just have to create the illusion that you are working. If you have a clipboard and occasionally scrawl some incoherent scribbles people will leave you alone. When you are wandering around the plant to stretch your legs, management thinks you are on a mission. That daydreaming on the loading dock appears to be important work. Because it is. You are analyzing potential outcomes.

This method can be expanded if you adopt the Wimpy Model. He wants hamburgers now. He promises to pay Tuesday. It’s simple. Make your demand. Make empty promises about future repayment. Just don’t try it on your spouse.

Philosopher Garth Brooks posited the idea that there may be instances where tomorrow never comes. (I think he was singing about a woman, but if you twist hard enough, you can make anything support your argument).  If tomorrow does come, I hope you were thinking about the task at hand while watching ‘Judge Judy,’ because you’re out of time.

The Severity of Time

Did you know that time could be distracted? When everyday is a Disneyland kind of day, tomorrow becomes next week.

If you are beset with pain, time loses its forward momentum. Time loiters. It’s as if time has an insatiable appetite for agony. It’s like riding a broken suicide machine.


This is in response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.

In the Kitchen

Do you love to dance, sing, write, sculpt, paint, or debate? What’s your favorite way to express yourself, creatively?

(I have to thank the staff at The Daily Post for triggering Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ in my brain.  This will confound me for a couple of days just like when ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ by Cher was unleashed.  Well played, Daily Post.)


My favorite way to express myself is through cooking. Who doesn’t like cooking? Apparently a lot of people. My mom was a good cook. I say was as if she is no longer among the living. She is a good cook. I usually get to enjoy her food around Thanksgiving.

Around June, she will ask me what I want to eat. Since we stay three days, there is room for more than turkey. Chicken and dumplings usually hit the list. So do pork chops, egg salad, seafood dip, and whatever else I can get her to make. Still no salmon patties.  I may have to resort to threats.

The short order cooking adventure is always surprising as my mom hates cooking. She despises it. As long as I remember she has always hated cooking. I never watched her cook. I never learned her techniques. This skill is mostly self-taught.

Black Eyed Peas I made for the Thursday meal at Common Ground Community. The neighborhood along with homeless people from the area come to eat and worship.

I believe I mentioned couch surfing for a couple of years. My friend who lent me his couch was also kind enough to let me watch him cook. I watched. And watched. When I got tired of watching, I watched some more. That’s all I ever did there. I remember I was allowed to stir gravy a couple of times. Woohoo! Actually, I was really jazzed. It took me years to get the gravy just right. It’s simple to make, but it is more art than flour and oil.

Sixteen years later, my fanaticism has only grown stronger.  Yesterday, my wife told me that she lost the three pounds that she gained from my recent cake spree.  She likes my food.  I have friends who take phenomenal pictures who will shoot my food in exchange for a meal.  This would be a bad trade if I made them a pan of Hamburger Helper.

The past two years I have spent volunteering with Mercy Chefs, and now I have finally decided to try my hand at catering. Hence, the name Cater It Forward.  We have a long way to go on, well, everything.  There is a lot more to this business stuff than slinging hash.

Making an income is secondary. The original plan was, and still is, to cater to raise money so I can afford to deploy with Mercy Chefs. The organization is 100% volunteer. This business can help earn gas money, hotel accommodations, airplane tickets, whatever I need so I can serve others through Mercy Chefs.

Cajun pork loin, rice pilaf, corn and a layered brownie thing. This was one of the meals served in Colorado.

This organization has been to Africa. I went to  with Mercy Chefs. My good chef friend was in the Philippines recently to provide aid.

On Nehemiah Vision Ministries’ compound just outside Chambrun, Haiti.

Am I starting to sound like a shill? Sorry about that. With all of this cooking, I think of that 80’s drug PSA.  Or was it the nineties.

“I do coke. So I can work longer.  So I can earn more. So I can do more coke.” Cue the sad trombone:  Wah wah wah waaaah. The infinite cocaine loop.

I cook. So I can serve others. So I can do more coke cook. It’s not perfect, but I hope I was able to illustrate my point.

(Featured image was a result of bartering food.  My good friend Josh shot the image).

The Smell of Death

Look out your back window or door — describe what you see, as if you were trying to convey the scene to someone from another country or planet.



The back door is wide open. It definitely shows its age with years of paint peeling away to reveal grayish-looking wood. The screen door is in place to keep the squadrons of black flies out. It seems like they are everywhere in this oppressive heat.

It gets hard to see in the twilight, but in the distance there appears to be a figure laying in a field. It looks twisted as if it was a doll carelessly tossed on a bed.

I reach for my binoculars next to my lukewarm coffee. Not much more satisfying than a Marlboro and a tepid cup of joe to pass the evening. As I focus my field glasses I can see the occasional dandelion in the brownish field. It hasn’t rained for weeks now.

If I could only get away from these flies! You used to be able to hear crickets chirping in the evening, but the smell of death brought the flies.

I never could figure out how to focus these binoculars, but I’m finally able to see the figure. It’s another corpse. It seems so commonplace these days.

Someone is hunched over the body’s torso. Maybe he’s looting. I’ll bet those buzzing flies are about to drive him mad.

Oh look, he’s turning around. The bottom half of his face appears to be smeared with blackish blood. Terrific. Another zombie.

I guess I’ll lock up and go to bed. I don’t feel like having company tonight.

Let the Games Begin

Solitude is a cool word. Not like, “Whoa! Dude! That’s cool!” It’s not even beatnik cool. Solitude is like a cool brook meandering in a silent forest.

I have three daughters. Solitude is fleeting. My house normally sounds like a dozen roofers pounding nails, that little Who from Whoville prancing around banging cymbals, a tornado siren blaring, and Leatherface trimming my hedges with his trusty chainsaw.

There is no loneliness in our household. My wife and I make jokes about it. She is going to run away to Costa Rica, I’m going to divorce her and let her keep the kids…oh, you play that game too.

The girls will be home from school soon. Let the games begin.

The Future is Yesterday

Quantum Leap is probably my favorite time travel show.  Some dude randomly goes back in time to correct ‘wrongs’ in history.  Through his hologram pal, he has access to a supercomputer named Ziggy that makes all of the probability calculations to determine the outcome of his actions on the future.  He even gets to experience others’ lives by hijacking their body while their soul hangs out in some waiting room in the future.  Now that I think about this time traveling bodysnatcher, it sounds kinda creepy.  To complicate matters, there was an evil leaper who went back in time to undo favorable moments in history.

Multiply that by a million.  If time travel is ever achieved, the technology will eventually be affordable enough for Mr. Average Joe to have his very own time machine.  A million potential time travelers is a reasonable number given that there are what, seven billion people on the planet?  A million people traipsing through time, crushing colorful butterflies with their muddy boots, and essentially bungling history.

Either our lives will become a series of Billy Pilgrimesque flashbacks, or there are infinite timelines.  For a universe that is finite, I find it hard to believe that anything infinite can come from it.  Besides, having a fractured lifetime could be somewhat interesting if you aren’t driven insane.

This could be a brave new world where not only is anything possible in the future, everything is possible in the past.

Perhaps the best place (or time) to go for the time traveler would be the future.  I would choose a method where you don’t even need a fancy phone booth.  I would choose to make the Rip Van Winkle Caper a reality.  I mean, who doesn’t like a good caper?

To mastermind a gold heist and to enjoy it after a hundred year slumber, you would have to be pretty fit.  One, because gold is really heavy.  Two, I don’t know if I would want to be riddled with arthritis in a future where everyone is a muscular android lizard person.  Actually, you might want to make a lizard person suit out of a set of footie-pajamas so you can blend in.

If you arise in the future and gold is worthless, oh well.  Just wait.  There are a million jokers traveling through time and they are bound to change your future.

Merging is Optional

Have you ever been been driving when suddenly a construction sign appears that you must merge immediately?  I’ve been driving 22 years and have never seen a construction sign ominously appear while listening to Men Without Hats.  Those signs are planted there.  Further, they cannot be a surprise because there are typically preceding signs that warn us about the merge sign.  If you are on the interstate, sometimes you have miles of warnings and multitudinous signs advising us of the dreaded lane closure sign.

The conscientious driver merges over to the safe lane as soon as they see the first warning sign.  Or they merge over as soon as traffic allows.  Then, there’s the other driver who rides the closing lane until the last moment so he can pass as many cars as he can.  I hate that.  How inconsiderate can someone be to play chicken with the big orange lane closure sign only so he can ‘cut ahead’ in line?  Have you seen this person?

I’ve had many opportunities to teach these drivers the error of their ways.  Invariably, they always want to cut in front of me right as their lane is closing.  I knew it was going to happen, so I move up exceedingly close to the car in front of me.  If the cars were standing still, a person wouldn’t be able to walk between my car and the car in front of me.  How does this muddy four wheel drive pickup with big stupid tires think he is going to fit?  He won’t.

These people try to horn in and I won’t let them.  I’d rather end up in a fifty-seven car pileup than let this guy merge over.  I really hate how these drivers try to take advantage in an unfortunate situation.  I’m sure these same people cut in line at the grocery store.  I hate that too, but that’s not what I’m hating on right now.

You would think these drivers would learn that they will never merge in front of me under these circumstances.  Any other time and I will let anyone or everyone merge in front of me.  I’m the guy driving two miles under the speed limit.  I have all the time in the world to get to the pet store to load up on that fifty dollar bag of dog food for Molly.

Invariably, these guys give up on these impromptu games of chicken.  I always win and they always merge right behind me.  They are always making some mean face flailing their arms around.  Then they give me the double bird as if the single bird isn’t satisfactory.  I like that.

I like that so much that I give them thumbs up.  I enjoy seeing their anger towards me so much that I roll my window down and stick my arm out the window so I can give an unfettered thumbs up.  If they don’t seem to appreciate one thumb, they sure appreciate when I stick my second arm out the window for the coup de grace:  the double thumbs up while my car is careening toward the closed lane filled with backhoes and hardhats.  That’s fitting, since I’m listening to the Safety Dance.

Where is the Line?

How can one decide to walk the line if he doesn’t know the line?  Is the line merely of an external nature where one will be nice to others and tell the truth?  Perhaps, but that would be incomplete.

To even know what the line should be, one must know what truth is.  Without truth, our parameters are arbitrary.  Consider the spoon bender in the Matrix.  Fine.  There is no spoon.  We can say there is no ultimate truth.  If there is no ultimate truth, there is no truth at all.  Only the illusion of truth.

History can testify that this relativistic view of “what’s true for you is not necessarily true for me” is alive and well.  One view that can be adopted is the Machiavellian end justifying the means.

This is the fruit of postmodernism.  It should ALWAYS be illegal to murder.  It should ALWAYS be illegal to commit adultery.  It should ALWAYS be illegal to rape.  History’s relativism suggests otherwise.

Perhaps the most discussed question in history is, “What is truth?”  Pilate asked that very question in John 18:38.  I am no theologian, but I am a Christian and I believe that the Bible as a whole, answers that question quite nicely.

Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai.  These Commandments were a code given by God that we are to live by.  Even today, I would guess that most people agree with some of them.  Murder is bad. So are stealing and adultery.

Regardless of the code we choose to live by, even if your motto is, “To thine one self be true,” you betray yourself.  Are you always true to yourself in all cases?  Are there exceptions?  These exceptions, intentional or not, would betray the above maxim.

God’s law was meant to show our shortcomings.  Our sinful nature. Jesus really put the screws to us when he said he is most concerned with what’s inside.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28 ESV)  Our thoughts condemn us in the eyes of God.  We thought we were keeping this commandment by not physically cheating on our spouses.

Jesus also stated, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21, 22 ESV)  Anger is equal to murder? I’m guilty of unrighteous anger.  According to Jesus, I’m guilty of murder perhaps tens of thousands of times in my life.

The law was never intended to measure our good deeds with.  The law crushes the lawbreaker under its weight.  This is why we need the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

So, what is the line?  I submit that it’s the Ten Commandments.  Do I walk the line?  At best, I stumble alongside the line.  Thanks to Jesus, I am not condemned by the line.