Friday, December 29, 2006

Cool Websites - Celebrity Rumours

Richard Gere with a gerbil up his ass? J. Edgar in a lace teddy? Walt Disney’s cryogenic remains beneath Disneyland? If you want to know the truth behind these rumours, chances are you won’t find it at The 40 Best Celebrity Rumors. Most of the entries seem to end with “Who knows?”

But you will find a lot of old myths that you’d forgotten plus a few new ones. This would be perfect toilet reading. Now, just waiting for the day when a computer terminal and internet connection is a standard feature of the commode.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Culture - A Crappy Catalan Christmas

Okay, it’s been three days now and I thought I’d get over this. But I can’t get it out of my head: The image of my two-year old son beating on a log until it shits out gifts.

It’s a tradition here in Catalunya, a region which seems to have an unhealthy obsession with crap, especially when it comes to Christmas and religion. As if it weren’t enough to hear daily throughout the year, ¡Me cago en dios!, an epithet which translates directly as “I shit on God.” No Nativity scene is complete here without the Caganer, a figurine who squats behind the manger, Joseph and Mary, the animals and Three Wise Guys while his bare ass hovers proudly over a tiny, brown swirly of crap.

I’ve lived here long enough that most things seem normal to me, but this is the first year that I’ve had direct experience with the Caga Tió, or The Shit Dude. Essentially it’s a log with a face and hat on one end, propped up by two sticks which –with a little imagination—could be construed as legs. A blanket is thrown over his back-side and food is set out for him on the days leading up to Christmas. This, in order to plenish his bowels. Then, on Christmas day, the whole family gathers around and they beat on him with wooden spoons, mallets, and whatever violent sundry can be found around the house.

Meanwhile, they sing a song:

Shit, dude! Shit lots of candy!

Shit some wine and cookies!

Whether you shit or not,

I’m going to hit you with my stick!

After each refrain, they march in a parade around the house while some sneaky member of the family tosses gifts under the blanket. When the children return, all the adults begin to say, Let’s see if the dude has crapped. Look what the dude has crapped out! Ohh, what nice crap! Then it’s back to the song and parade and more gifts.

You know, I’m really not too uptight when it comes to language and my child, but something about this just doesn’t sit right with me. I guess it’s not so much the words as it is the focus on defecation and coprophagy by proxy.

But who am I to argue with tradition? In the same way that one can never really pinpoint the origins of obsessive-compulsive acts, cultural traditions inevitably guard their own secrets. Some say that it began in the Pyrenees and spread down from the mountains. My in-laws, who never miss an opportunity to describe their hardships during the Civil War, explained to me about 5 or 12 times over dinner that they had to beat on just an ordinary Tió, with no face, legs or hat. In the face of such determination to eat the crap from a log, I doubt that I will ever be able to dissuade my son from participating in this deviant ritual.

But all told, I don’t suppose it’s quite so bad in comparison to a tradition in which I grew up, in which every Sunday I was forced to eat the flesh and drink the blood of some long-dead guy who had been beaten to a pulp and executed in a brutal and excruciating manner. So, really it’s all just a matter of perspective. On the one hand, coprophagy. On the other, cannibalism. It’s so hard to judge.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Society - More Statistical Bullshit

Among the top headlines today is a report by the BBC that 94% of banknotes in Spain have residues of cocaine on them. The story suggests that not all of those bills were used for snorting, but that residues may have come from contact with other banknotes.

Now, how did the un-named “experts” in the article come to this sweeping generalization about the approximate one billion banknotes in Spain? They sampled 100 bills. 100 out of a billion. That's 0.00001% .

Further, they sampled 20 bills from each of 5 cities. The cities and their populations are:

Barcelona 1,600,000

Bilbao 350,000

Madrid 3,000,000

Valencia 735,000

Seville 695,000


Total: 6,380,000

That’s 6,380,000 out of a population of 40,000,000. 16%. They sampled 0.00001% of the banknotes in the country focusing on 5 urban centers which comprise 16% of the population, not taking into account any of the rural communities. And somehow that is considered hard research worthy of international headlines.

Granted, I’m no statistician. And perhaps the nuances of the science escape me. But that sounds like a lot of bullshit to me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Update - Damn, I Won

A few days ago I posted on the topic of my newfound fear of winning the lottery. And I'm sorry to say that I won. I hit for 120€. So now I'm faced with some vital decisions. Really, I want to make this money work for me, but I'm not sure if I should invest it in something secure or venture into real estate. I suppose I'll need an accountant now. I'm not even sure how to begin deciding on one of those. That's a whole ball of wax right there. But I guess it must be done. Fortune oblige and all.

Please, no emails requesting donations to charity or funding for a performance art space.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Christmas Truce

It was a mass movement that began with songs. German voices strained across No Man’s Land, carrying the words of Stille Nacht to the hearts of war-weary British troops, who knew the song as Silent Night. They began to sing along. Then the soldiers took turns serenading their enemies, one song after another. Brave party crashers crawled across No Man’s Land, carrying not grenades, but bottles of brandy, or jars of marmalade.

Before long, an unofficial truce was established as German, French and British enemies left the trenches to join each other on the battlefield in a novel way. They shook hands and shared cigars. They regarded each other warmly. Almost immediately, it became obvious how unpleasant the party was with all those dead bodies around. So they set about to burying them. Chaplains came out from both sides as they quoted psalms together and sang hymns.

Once the field was clear, it was only natural that they should play football. Rifles were exchanged for a ball, vital organs replaced with a goal, and they battled nation against nation in the truest of true world cups. There was more singing and dancing as soldiers continued fraternizing with their enemies, day after day, until the generals could stand it no longer, and they unanimously decided that this was bad for the war and it must stop at once.

The only problem was: The soldiers didn’t want to end the truce. For once, they were having a good time. Orders to return to battle were issued, but ignored. In some cases, officers aimed their weapons at their own troops and ordered them to begin shooting at their newfound friends. But no shots or artillery would strike human flesh in the aftermath of that impromptu holiday truce.

In the end, troops had to be rotated to the rear so that perfect strangers could once again be counted on to kill each other without remorse. And every Christmas after that, for the remainder of World War I, the generals ordered constant artillery barrage at Christmas to avoid any repeat of this expression of good will.

Fortunately, for the generals, they were able to control this impulse toward cameraderie and the war managed to continue another four years. If it hadn’t been for their perspicacity, the trench warfare might have ended right there and we may never have discovered tanks, anti-aircraft guns and flamethrowers. But the event will forever be remembered as The Christmas Truce.

Have a Merry Druidic Tree-Slaughtering Festival and a Happy Random Change of the Calendar Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Notable Blogs - The Rude Pundit

To anybody who's read me or knows me, I don't guess it would be much of a surprise that I really like this guy, The Rude Pundit. Anybody who can create an adjective like bugfuck, or a phrase like Whitehouse Spokesdouche, borders on brilliant and should not be ignored.

He almost gives me something to aspire toward, were it not for the fact that he specializes in politics. Alas, I'm beginning to glean that the key to success in the blogosphere lies in specialization, rather than the diverse flotsam that I harbor.

If you've got any sense of taste and humour, you will make Rude Pundit part of your daily reading. And if not, you have no idea what you're missing. Check him out.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Personal Essay - Lotophobia

Tomorrow is the drawing for the Spanish Christmas Lottery, and like approximately two-thirds of the Iberian population, I’m already planning on how I will manage this substantial change in my personal economy. As the day has drawn closer my revelries have grown less sporadic and far more elaborate, so much so that last night I suffered a bout of nausea just dealing with all the headaches that my sudden and imaginary fortune will bring.

I came to the conclusion that perhaps I would be better off if by some remote chance I shouldn’t win tomorrow. After all, I have zero experience in handling sums of money larger than the purchase of some domestic electronic device. What would I do with it? What kinds of things would I be forced to learn? How do I know that I could trust other people whom I would charge with the management of my hard-played fortune?

That’s when I imagined my reaction to winning. I don’t think I would jump up and down screaming. Rather, I would probably become very scared and withdraw to my bed for a number of days, with the winning ticket tucked back in the closet and filling a space immensely beyond its proper dimensions. Somewhat like a chunk of plutonium.

It occurs to me that most people, when they buy a lottery ticket, are buying a piece of hope, a commodity that is infinitely valuable in a society that rarely offers more than currency for our labors. But I, on the other hand, just now realize that I have bought 15 pieces of fear. Man, that is wack.

So, I suppose it will be with relief when I face the inevitable tomorrow, and fail to come into my millions. Still, there’s a one in six chance of hitting something in this special draw. While millions might be a little stressful to handle, I think I could make do with 500,000. Maybe a little more.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cool Websites - Brain Sex

I always knew that I had a feminine side. I just didn't know how large it was.

This is a very interesting online test that analyzes your mental faculties in various arenas and places them in the categories of what we traditionally consider feminine or masculine capacities.

Take the test. Or, are you afraid?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Television - To Be or Not to Be in the Entourage

Let’s face it, this is not compelling drama. The plot line and story arc are as thin as the cocktails at an Amish wedding. But what drives this show –for good and for bad—are the characters. And this, even though the writers have failed to give them any depth. Quite simply, these characters are shallow.

And that is either the most profitable event of serendipity in history or a ballsy risk taken by the writing staff of this program, because somehow these boys are interesting despite the fact that they are not interesting at all. They seem like people we all know; they’re not superlative; they’re accessible, like guys you could comfortably hang out with.

That’s the point, right? The boys have a modicum of charisma and a reasonably chill attitude, so much so that you’d feel right at home doing bong-hits with them in their kitchen. They celebrate E’s breakup by rolling off to Vegas, and you’re right there wedged in the car with them. Throw in millions of dollars to waste like spare change, and you’ve got the ultimate plug-in fantasy.

At least, that’s the way it is through the first two seasons. If you’ve plodded through the show week by week, forgetting about it between seasons, you may not have picked up on the nuances of change. But if, like me, you’ve watched all three seasons back to back over the course of ten days, you may have returned to your pre-Entourage ennui –if not visceral hatred—of the shallow cesspool that is LA.

By Season 3, you decide that these guys maybe aren’t so cool. It might be fun to have them visit you for a couple of days, as long as they stay in a hotel and not your crib—but after that it would be best if they moved on. No sense ruining a good thing.

By Season 3, Vince’s laid-back affability transforms into a perennially glib, affected aloofness. E’s natural modesty and insecurity has grown into smarmy superiority. Johnny Drama remains the same oaf, but is no longer low-key; rather, he’s grown exagerrated to the point of obnoxious. Turtle, probably the least attractive member and therefore not subject to quite as much off-screen, ego-inflating attention as the others, has maintained his odd blend of confident humility. So far.

The character of Ari, played by Jeremy Piven, if not the most experienced actor in the cast at least the most adept, has somehow improved. It’s as if he has taken the journey in reverse. Starting out as the most exagerrated egomaniac in the show, he has come to embody the more endearing qualities of honor and respect. Great credit for this must be given to Ari having actually had compelling events written for his character.

Still, as much as these guys have come to make me smirk rather than grin, I’m eager to see Season 4. It is an addictive show. Perhaps I should get a life.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Blogging - What Hullaballoo

Well, talk about a scandal. My previous post, Poriticarry Collect, generated quite an emotional response, so much so that I've decided to forego my intended post today and dedicate more attention to this.

It's amazing how easy it is to get a little attention in the Blogosphere. I haven't had this much fun since my Defamation of Character suit against the Anti-Defamation League . True story, but that's an anecdote to share some other time.

On the advice of an adept blogger, I posted a link to my opinions on a few other blogs and news forums, which generated over 300 hits over the weekend. Not a lot, by blogging standards for sure, but quite surprising to me.

There were many anonymous comments which threatened violence and ill-will upon me and/or my children. And, curiously, a large portion of those wannabe violent ne'er-do-wells linked to my site from Model Minority, a self-described Asian American Empowerment zone. Naturally, I tried to register and log in just to see what was being said, but my email and IP address have been banned. I petitioned a few friends to try as well, but they are also banned. So apparently membership to this site is exclusive and their discussions are highly secretive. And judging by the commentators to my blog, their discussions must be somewhat volatile.

The commentators at one very nice looking blog, Kimchi Mamas, have also taken quite a bit of umbrage at my "white privileged status" and ignorant volubility, so much so that I felt the need to express regret at any ill-feelings I may have stirred up.

This is one of the reasons that I have emigrated from my home country, the U.S., where race is just far too much of an issue for my tastes. It reminds me of an experience I had here in Barcelona a few years ago in a pub: I had come across a couple of merchant marines and found out that they were also from Virginia. We chatted pleasantly for awhile until one of them turned to his friend and said, "How you like that? We come halfway 'round the world, meet a guy from Virginia, and he's white!"

I took no offense. It just seemed a pity to me that it was a fact even worth mentioning. I actually felt sorry for the old guy that this was something to which he gave importance, like a throwback to another era. Yet it was refreshing to see that his younger colleague grimaced in a way that expressed that he, like me, believed it was time to move beyond that mode of thinking. And the young guy and I continued to chat, ignoring the dinosaur who --rightfully or not-- operated under a different paradigm than us.

And in the end, I had a much more pleasant experience than if I'd engaged the old guy on my definition of "right" thinking. There are times when it just seems best to teach by example, not debate. I wonder if I'll ever figure out how to do that in the blogosphere, a realm whose cellulose seems to comprise strictly of debate.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Society - Poriticarry Collect

Once there was a time when the Chinese weren’t a bunch of Politically Correct crybabies. They weren’t so insecure as to jump on any opportunity to scream and kick about some perceived slight. I used to think they were the only ones left who felt secure enough in their long history and incredibly massive unity that they were indifferent to harmless jokes and even outright racist slurs. In a word, the Chinese stood strong.

Sadly, that day appears to have passed and Rosie O’Donnell has caved in to pressure from a group of Asian American journalists for an apology. Certainly, the whole Chinese race –or agglomeration of races—hasn’t changed so much as all that; and probably not the whole of Chinese Americans, which makes this whining group of journalists something of a disgrace to their people.

In regards to the self-confidence historically displayed by the Chinese American community, could this be the beginning of the end?

The video of O’Donnell’s bit hardly seems that offensive to me. The humour of it is based on the comic concept of Surprise and Incongruity. Essentially, she improvised a Chinese news broadcast, using Chinese sounds, and speckled it with a few English words. I’ve lived in Korea and travelled around Asia, have worked and socialized with dozens of Chinese in The States, and I can attest that this actually happens in real life; and when it does, it’s only natural to laugh. For some reason, our brains are hardwired for such a reaction. Imagine Oscar Wilde speckling his speech with hip-hop slang. The effect would be similar.

And this is one of the reasons that the Politically Correct movement gets in my craw so much: It’s unnatural, the way they intend to manipulate and control human nature. They incorrectly imagine that they are going to change attitudes by attacking the language in the same way that totalitarian regimes believe that the suppression of speech controls the attitude of the population.

If Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. finds offense in O’Donnell’s use of “ching-chong” during her poor rendition of a Chinese language, perhaps they would be better served by teaching her Mandarin or Cantonese. But of course, what’s really at the heart of this is that this organization needs to find a cause to fight in order to justify their own existence. Now that Americans are somewhat more enlightened than a few decades ago, Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. has no choice but to find a racist under every bed. Otherwise, they would have to close up shop.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rant - Cracking Under The Barrage

Sometimes I wish I had a firehose, like riot cops, so that I could just spray it around me in a circle as I struggle through the city.

Every day I take a crowded metro to work and have to push my way through bodies just to disembark. At my destination there are always a couple of guys at the top of the escalator, slowing down the crowd as they hand out free “newspapers,” which are light on news and heavy on ads. They block the escalator, shoving their rags in my face and I burst through them like Henry Rollins in an angst-laden music video. Often they’re accompanied by a man named Professor Ali who hands out flyers offering his services as a professional psychic. He actually goes so far as to shove his flyers, unsuccessfully, into my clenched fists. I get across the street and there’s an old gypsy woman in a shawl who steps in my path with her hand raised and pleading for a donation in a sing-song voice.

Her intrusive technique is similar to another beggar who prowls the metro on my return trip. He never fails to shock me by shoving a scabrous stump between my face and the pages of my book. Walking the sidewalk to my apartment, I’m often confronted by people with clipboards who want to tell me about some “amazing offer” they have for a travel agency or in the Mormon Church.

I get home and the phone starts ringing. It’s somebody wanting me to change telephone or internet providers. While I’m sitting down to lunch, the doorbell rings. It’s somebody else with a clipboard and a bright, irritating smile. After lunch, it’s back to the street and metro for more of the same.

Speckled throughout my day, I’m inundated with a barrage of disorienting advertisements in the form of posters which practically scream out for attention, video screens in the metro selling some product and the incessant abuse of television spots. Like the beggars who invade your psyche with a visual appeal to your conscience, or the chipper door-to-door and telephone salesmen who invade your home, these ads are scientifically designed to get in your head visually or through the use of jingles. Even on Sundays, there’s a man who sets up a large electronic keyboard which pours forth a cacaphony even though he plays with just one finger.

And it’s driving me fucking crazy. Somehow, what we consider to be rude behaviour is considered acceptable when it plies the interests of Capitalism. (Even the beggars where I live are part of an organization that provides training, transport and coordination.) For some reason it’s okay to be pushy and offensive, as long as you don’t do it within your own monkeysphere.

And why is that? I mean, what if I stood in front of the elevator doors in my apartment building and blocked my neighbours, asking them for financial assistance or forcing them to take some paper that sells my services? Maybe I could ring their doorbells at dinner time and try to sell them something. I could plaster posters up in the lobby, stand there with a guitar and sing obnoxious jingles. How long do you think I would last in my building before somebody gave me a royal ass-kicking? Yet we accept this horrible behaviour from complete strangers.

You know, I like money, I like having things. And I recognize that the economy depends on the buying, selling and promotion of things. But every day, I feel more and more that Capitalism is just so stinking obnoxious.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Technology - iPod-Nike Conspiracy

NPR reports that your Nikes could be your worst enemy. Apparently iPod and Nike are in cahoots to create a secret spy program that will give anybody with a little know-how the ability to track your every movement merely by sitting at home and watching you on GoogleMaps.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cool Websites - The Negro Space Program

This is among the top ten funny things I’ve ever seen. No intro necessary, it speaks for itself.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Language - What’s Wrong With "Fuck"?

In the presence of my toddler recently, I let fly the phrase, “That’s fucked up.” And of course it became a new addition to his rapidly expanding toolbox of expression. What was remarkable to me about the episode is that, once confronted with it, I really didn’t care if he spoke that way or not. Another way of putting it, of course, is: I really didn’t give a fuck. And I couldn’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with my attitude.

A friend of mine lowers his voice on the phone when uttering the word as an intensifier, as if he were telling me about some whore he screwed in Utah while his wife’s in the background wiping oatmeal off his kid’s cheeks. It’s such an evil word for a child to be exposed to. Apparently. Yet, aside from the fact that everybody else thinks so, I don’t see why. As I expressed to my child’s mother, if eventually he can distinguish between situations in which it’s acceptable or not, what’s the big deal?

It’s a word, nothing more. A labiodental fricative and a velar plosive, separated by a monophthong. So what? Fff, uh, kk. Three sounds that, in any other combination, are harmless. Twenty years ago I read –in some unremembered source—that what anglophones consider vulgar or not is actually descended from an ancient form of ethnocentricity. For a few centuries after William the Conqueror, the language of the English court was French. So all words deriving from French, such as fornicate, penis, or vagina were considered acceptable. Fuck, cock and cunt, however are Anglo-Saxon, deriving from the Germanic origins of the language and were therefore considered vulgar. Vulgar, by the way, originally meant “common” and only later came to include the definition of “in bad taste”

Its power lies not so much in its presence but in the intention behind it. Once, in high school, a teacher ripped my Sony Walkman out of my hands in the hallway and took it into his classroom. Feeling a sense of injustice had been committed, I followed him into his class and, in front of his remedial reading group, demanded the return of my property. Persuant to my understanding of the regulations, walkmen were prohibited in class, but not in the hallway. When I refused to leave without my device, he wrote me up for detention. Then, very slowly, I tore the detention slip in two and dropped it on his desk, saying, “You can go fuck yourself.”

The strength in the statement lay not in the literal meaning of the phrase, though it would have been amusing to see him try. What rankled him and his administrative overlords more was the absolute destruction of that pedestal of respect that authority depends on. Not only did I refuse to acknowledge the sancity of his quarters, nor give importance to his imposition of d-hall, but with one fell swoop I tore down the barrier of propriety that divides students and teachers and said, essentially, You are not important enough for me to observe the rules of language. For some reason, that was worse than any of my other “offenses,” and it begat a series of parental meetings ultimately resulting in my suspension from school.

I’d like to think that words like “fuck” and “nigger” will eventually become disempowered along with all their cronies, that they will become like a rubber knife that will only be laughed at if used seriously. But given the self-importance of both the puritanical and politically correct, it seems that day is a long way away, even if, due to overusage, the word is far less powerful than when Holden Caufield freely commented on it in 1951. Indeed, the television show Deadwood is fighting the good fight by defusing the word through overusage, as can be measured in The Deadwood Fuck Count. I look forward to the day when politicos speak as freely as the characters on HBO. “That miserable fuckwit thinks he can run this country better than I, and god help every one of you cocksuckers if he wins this fucking election.” I wonder how many more votes Kerry would have won if I had been his speechwriter.

I suppose that –in the spirit of “If it bends, it’s funny; if it breaks, it’s not”—I will continue to be amused at the sporadic “fuck” that my baby utters, knowing that it offends sensibilities that I neither share nor approve of. As he goes through life, I’ll do my best to instill an idea of pertinence and moderation, along with respect for individuals. But if, on the odd occasion, he looks up at me and says, “Papa, that Blues Clues is one fucking good show!” I’ll just smile and scratch his head. “That’s my boy.”

Friday, December 08, 2006

Science - Cooperative Hunting

The recent discovery of cooperative hunting between two species could signal the inchoate beginnings of an evolutionary leap similar to that which propelled humans to the dominant position they now maintain. It seems that, in the Red Sea at least, when groupers are thwarted in the hunt, they enlist the aid of moray eels, who –depending on prior engagements—may or may not accompany their petitioner to the offending crevice where said prey is hiding.

The behaviour is similar to the relationship that exists between real-estate agents and homowners; the difference being that an eel is a slimy, slithering legless predator with toxic blood while a real-estate agent actually has legs.

Could this be the beginning of a threat to Homo Sapien dominance? Should we be concerned? Many anthropologists believe that human abilities and civilization began with a need to develop the mental capacity to cooperate in the hunt. We domesticated the dog in order to assist us and expand our sphere of cooperation. This in turn led to other forms of animal husbandry. What if these two species leapfrog over us and become our masters? Perhaps, just to be safe, we should eliminate the eel and grouper from our planet. And, while we’re at it, we could get rid of real-estate agents too.

For if we don’t act now, it could very well be that, down the evolutionary pike, when there is nothing left of man’s hegemony but a fossil record and a layer of oxidized metal far below the Manhattan Desert, the descendants of these creatures will have evolved into two separate societies battling over their own underwater version of the Holy Land. Perhaps in some distant future, when the mighty United Giant Squids provide unlimited support to the Eels, some renegade Groupers will fly a manta ray into the twin coral towers. Then in response, the Squids will ignore the Groupers and, instead, will seek vengance on some unsuspecting nation of Clown Fish.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just looking too deep into this. I think I’ll go get myself a plate of unagi.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Society - Who's In Charge Here?

What would you say if I decided that I could shit anywhere that I want, whenever the urge came, and what's more, if I insisted that you follow me around constantly and pick up my droppings throughout the day? Would you feel this role to be somewhat subservient?

Well, it seems to me that most people would. Yet, I can't walk down the street without seeing such a dysfunctional relationship 5 or 10 times a day. And what's worse is these people do it without receiving so much as a grunt or nod of thanks. Not even a squint of appreciation.

You've probably already figured out that I'm talking about dogs and their owners. It's puzzling to me, because these people consider themselves "the masters" when they are clearly the slaves. It's been a while since I've had a dog and, thankfully, I've gained some insight from my distant perspective. But I guarantee that if I ever get another one, I'm going to train him to yelp at least a modicum of gratitude.

Author's Note - Hiatus

For personal and professional reasons, I had to take a break from posting. But don't you worry, never fear. Mackey's back in town.