I’ll be your warm-up comedian today…

I have a guest blog post at Must Read Mysteries today. The topic is Death and Comedy, and it ends with one of my favorite jokes. As an appetizer for that, here’s another of my faves.

A guy starts to develop black spots on his penis. Naturally, he’s concerned, so he goes to see a doctor. The doctor takes one look and says, “I’m very sorry, but you have Chinese Black Gonorrhea, and we’re going to have to amputate your penis.”

The guy is stunned. “You’ll understand if I get a second opinion.”

The doctor nods. “Of course, but any other doctor will tell you the same thing.”

So the guy gets a second opinion, and a third, but both of those doctors tell him the same thing. His penis will have to be amputated.

He goes out drinking with his best friend and tells him the news.They sit in glum silence for a while.

Finally his friend says, “They call it Chinese Black Gonorrhea, right?”

“Yeah,” the guy says.

“Then why don’t you go to China and see a doctor there? Maybe they know a treatment that hasn’t made it to the States yet!”

“That’s a great idea!” the guy says.

So he books a plane ticket and visits a well-respected Chinese doctor who speaks English. The Chinese doctor makes a thorough exam, runs some tests, and finally comes back in. “It’s Chinese Black Gonorrhea, all right.”

“So is there any treatment?” the guy asks. “Because in America, all the doctors tell me that I have to have my penis amputated.”

The Chinese doctor breaks into laughter. “Those American doctors! What a bunch of quacks!”

The guy feels hope for the first time. “Are you telling me I don’t have to have my penis amputated?”

“Nah,” the doctor says, waving a hand. “It’ll fall off by itself.”

Thank you, you’ve been a great audience! I hope you enjoy the second act, now appearing at Must Read Mysteries!

Writer Crafts & Cuisine. Win a book!

My guest blog post on Writer Crafts and Cuisine is up on Lois Winston’s site. I had a lot of fun with this tongue-in-cheek post. Not only will one commenter win a hardback copy of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, but I’ll throw in one of the mice and a coaster. Remember, you have to comment there, not here. Have fun!

Mystery Writer joke

It occurred to me that I’ve never heard a mystery-writer joke, so I made this one up.


During a publishing conference, a mystery writer, a romance author, and a thriller writer get to talking and decide to have a drink together at the hotel bar.

The romance writer orders a Sex on the Beach.

The thriller writer asks for a Bloody Mary.

The bartender makes those drinks and then asks the mystery writer what she wants.

The mystery writer looks the bartender in the eye and says, “Muddle a slice each of lime, lemon and orange with one clove. Add a shot of British gin, a dash of French absinthe, and crushed ice. Shake well, and strain everything into a martini glass. Stab a cherry with a toothpick and plop that on top.”

The romance writer makes a face. “That doesn’t sound very tasty. What do you call it?”

I’ll tell you what,” the mystery writer says, smiling. “If either of you can guess the name of this cocktail before the bartender finishes making it, I’ll buy all your drinks tonight.”

“We can do this,” the thriller writer says confidently.

So they try to guess the name of the bizarre drink while watching the bartender make it.

“It has British gin and French absinthe,” the romance writer says. “I’d call it the International Lover.”

“Nope,” says the mystery writer.

“Think about how she described it,” the thriller writer says. “Crushed ice, a stabbed cherry… It’s probably something like Death in the Glass or Murder by Booze.”

“Wrong track entirely,” says the mystery writer. “Keep guessing.”

So they keep throwing out names until the drink is finished and the bartender drops in the stabbed cherry.

The thriller writer shakes his head. “I give up. What’s it called?” He turns to find that the mystery writer has vanished.

The romance writer looks at the bartender, “Hey, where’d she go?”

The bartender puts the weird cocktail on the bar. “I don’t know, but she finished both your drinks while you were guessing, and somebody owes me twenty-five bucks.”

Village Voice trashes my book without reading even the back cover blurb.

Ah, Google Alerts. They let me know when people are talking about me, and this time, it’s a doozy.

James Hannaham, author of God Says No and apparently a professional angry person, put together a vitriolic little paragraph entitled “Dumb Dog Books” at the end of the May 25 book page in the Village Voice newspaper. Here’s what he had to say about mine:

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles claims to be the first novel in a moronic series about a ghost pup…

Um, no. That’s like saying Mark Twain wrote river-rafting stories. The Tripping Magazine series is about a cut-rate travel magazine that covers destinations of supposedly supernatural interest (I use that qualifier a lot in my promo text). The canine apparition appears in this one book only. The book’s title references a rather  well-known story where the ghost dog turns out not to be a real ghost. So, yeah… I’m thinking he got his idea strictly from the cover. (Isn’t there some kind of saying about that?)

Since he has a website with his contact info on it, I was able to send him an email, in which I noted,

Based on your cover, I’m guessing God Says No is about the wacky things someone finds in a U-Store-It unit, but I wouldn’t write that in a newspaper without making sure.

Here’s a link to the original Village Voice article (the pertinent paragraph is the last one, and the link takes you directly to page two).

Don’t go on any rampages on my behalf, but do make a mental note that you can’t believe everything you read. And hey, I got mentioned in the Village Voice!

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles excerpt

Canine Curiosities, and those wacky Nazis…

This new book “uncovers the stories of some of the most extraordinary dogs in history,” including the true tale of how the Nazis tried to create an army of dogs trained to speak, read and write. (The Nazis claimed one of the dogs told them he wanted to serve in the German army because he disliked the French.)

When Taxidermy and Pets Collide

[NOTE:  Clicking on the pictures in this post will take you to their source articles. Have fun!]

If it weren't for the plaque, I think this would fool anyone.

Welcome to the world of permanently preserved pets. First of all, I have a confession to make. When our beloved rabbit, Glory Roberta, died, I took her to a taxidermist and had him remove the pelt and cure it for me. Her fur was beautiful, and I wanted something to remember her by. Once the grief wore off, I stuck it in a drawer and mostly forgot about it, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Now I wonder how much more it would have cost to go the whole way and have her mounted in a lifelike pose — rolling in her litterbox, perhaps, or chewing a baseboard.

Taxidermists are interesting people. They love animals, and they love a challenge. When a heavily tattooed and heartbroken guy brought in his dead Chi puppy, this taxidermist embraced the difficulties of mounting a seven-inch long animal, and the results are both poignant and adorable.

Preserving pets has a long history, possibly starting with the Egyptians, and certainly achieving heights of weirdness with those wacky Victorians, who made entire tableaus of dressed-up cats, dogs, mice and monkeys. Their motto seemed to be, if it moves, make a pet of it. When it stops moving, turn it into decoration.

And of course, some people preserve pets somewhat less sensitively than others.

If this is a subject that interests you, you’re in luck. Animal Planet has an upcoming reality show which is described thusly.

The show, set in Romance, Ark., follows taxidermist Daniel Ross as he runs family business X-treme Taxidermy with his wife LaDawn and three sons. Together, the family and employees specialize in reassembling family pets, including a chihuahua, a goat and a poodle.

Because of the location, the working title is, “Romance is Dead.” <cue reluctantly admiring groan>

Joke: The trial of the three huts.

I was just saying to my parents that I haven’t heard a good joke in a while. Here is one of my best ones. Gimme yours.

An explorer gets lost in Africa and is captured by hostile natives. He’s taken before the chief, who says, “You were caught trespassing on sacred burial grounds. We can kill you immediately, or you can attempt the trial of the three huts.”

“What’s the trial of the three huts?” the explorer asks.

“In the first hut is a giant boa constrictor. You must tie the snake into a knot so it can’t kill you. In the second hut is a huge lion with a toothache. You must pull the tooth and leave him purring like a kitten. And in the third hut is the mighty Gullenda, a warrior woman who has never been sexually satisfied. If you can sate her incredible sexual appetite after completing the tasks in the first two huts, we will deliver you back to your people, a free man.”

The explorer doesn’t hesitate. “I’ll take the trial of the three huts.”

“You’re a brave man,” says the chief. The tribe trots the explorer through the jungle to a clearing, where three huts stand, and they shove him into the first hut, which is festooned with giant empty snakeskins.

The natives wait outside and listen to groaning and shrieks from the man, and the occasional angry hissing. Finally everything is quiet. They go to the hut, expecting the explorer to be dead, but as they reach the door he staggers out, coated with sweat and grime. They look inside the hut and find the giant snake tied into a knot like a pretzel, completely helpless.

“You have survived the first trial!” They take a moment to cheer him, then push him into the second hut. The noise is much worse. The man’s agonized screams are interspersed with roaring and snarling from the lion, and the sides of the hut bulge as things crash against it from inside. Finally everything is still. They tiptoe toward the entrance, expecting to peek inside and find the lion eating the explorer, but as they reach the door he staggers out, his clothes in strips, claw marks all over him. They look inside the hut. The enormous lion is relaxing inside, purring like a kitten.

The tribe cheers like maniacs. “No one has survived the second trial!”

The explorer, looking a little disoriented, raises his shaking arms over his head in triumph. “All right! Now where’s that warrior woman with a toothache?”

Getting a new thumb/index finger ring.

$19 and free shipping is a screaming deal. You get your choice of three finishes, two typefaces, and your choice of words, inside and out. Mine will say, “Pull my finger” on the outside, and “Pfft…” on the inside, because I will do anything for a laugh. Well, not anything, but $19 is cheap for a good gag. Click the pic to go to his site.