My Favorite Fools

On this first day of April (and my Uncle Bob’s birthday), here’s a rerun from a few years back:

In Shakespeare the fool often plays a pivotal role, generally during or after a tragedy when they remind us of the inevitability of human folly. My favorite fool is Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet.


“I talk of dreams which are the children of idle minds.”

To quote Shakespearean scholar John E. Hankins: Mercutio’s “unique blend of critical acumen, delicate fancy and obscene levity nearly stole the play from Romeo and Juliet and thus he must be killed off fairly early on.” Mercutio sees the trajectory of dreams in the cold light of day and decides to make merry of the dreamer although inside he weeps. He recognizes he can do nothing and that his words will make no sense to those who do not want to hear. Not unlike political satirists like Bill Maher or Jon Stewart.

Fool means “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.”  In the late 60s those of us who believed a world without hate and war was were often called fools. Which brings me to my second favorite fool, Paul McCartney:“The fool on the hill sees the sun going down and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.” McCartneyOkay, we were all wide-eyed fools when his song hit the airways. Then we got hit with mortgages, children, child support, Republicans, Libertarians, Rush Limbaugh, the Octomom, Reality TV, IRA rollovers, etc. But you know what? Forty some odd years later and the baby boomers are increasingly returning to the hill to watch the sun going round.  Being McCartney’s sort of fool can keep you young at heart forever and if there’s anyone who’s proof of that, it’s Paul McCartney.


“I like to watch.”

And then we have the modern day fool, personified by Peter Sellers in Being There.  A genuine idiot whose  regurgitation of whatever he hears on television propels him to national prominence.  Golly, sound familiar?

I have a special message for him:  UB, Brad Pitt called me this morning pleading to play the part of Oncle Boob.


I see a certain resemblance between Uncle Bob and Brad Pitt, don’t you?

What do you say – yeah or nah?

The Birthday Boy!

Hurry up and give me your answer because Joel says George Clooney is on the other line!


Confronting the BOE

This is the last in a series on the battle for relief from an unfair tax debt which forms the core of my currently out-of-print book titled Willful Avoidance.

After I applied for a hearing in front of the Board of Equalization, I had to wait six months to hear back from them.  When I did, my feelings were mixed. Along with their confirmation of a court date (yeah!) was a copy of the State Franchise Tax Board’s rebuttal to my appeal (ick). It was eleven pages of dense posturing that made no sense even to my lawyer. And, I was required to submit my own rebuttal which led to a seemingly endless round of rebuttals. When all the rebuttals were rebutted up the wazoo, finally the day came for me to learn my fate.

The following scene takes place outside the courtroom before the hearings were set to begin and is written from the perspective of the clerk for the Board of Equalization who, in real life, I got to know rather well during all those rebuttals.

From Willful Avoidance

The battle was about to begin: the Invincible Tax Men versus the Appellants. Each side would have their moment in the ring, unless an Appellant cried “uncle” after arm-bending, threats and promises for leniency were made in last-minute deals. Fully versed on all new laws and decisions, the Tax Men had the home court advantage. The Appellants, especially the small-scale divisions with no direct plan (just an overwhelming belief in the humanity of their story) had little chance. But it all rested ultimately in the hands of the judges, the mighty BOE, now sharpening their pencils (metaphorically) as they prepared to play Solomon. On this day they would need to appear kindly but judicial, full of wisdom but not easily conned. All opinions rendered were, of course, of public record and therefore available for scrutiny by the voting public.
The hall outside the boardroom held all the merriment of a morgue. Four or five groups stood in nervous circles negotiating with FTB lawyers. They rattled their sabers quietly, in hushed tones as though at any moment one of the illustrious members of the BOE came through the boardroom door.
The appellants for the two cases Roberta knew were doomed to fail already sat in the back of the boardroom confidently. Their summaries were astonishingly brief, they had no exhibits to speak of, no legal representation, just some sort of rambling notion that they were in the right or that their current economic condition would get them out of an FTB debt. One appellant had even sent his cousin to plead his case because he couldn’t get off work. That would be a costly mistake. At nine thirty she walked over to the two groups still remaining in the hall. One was the Ravel Stone & Gravel gang with the Very Important lawyer.  The other, a woman and two men, one of whom Roberta knew quite well.
It was time to go into the boardroom, she explained to both groups. “Even if your case isn’t scheduled until eleven, the board requires all litigants to be in attendance for opening remarks. After the board begins hearing cases, you can move your negotiations out to the hall again. But,” she cautioned, as Ravel Stone & Gravel sulked away, “keep in mind that the BOE rarely needs the allotted thirty-five minutes to decide a case. After they hear one case, they continue right on to the next one without taking a break. If your case is called in court and you do not respond, you will lose your chance to appeal.”
“What would we do without you, Robbie?” Mark Slattery chuckled, putting an unwanted hand of her shoulder.
“Cut the bull, Slattery.” He flirted with her as young men often do with women they consider mother figures, only Slattery wasn’t that young, and Roberta wasn’t that old.
“You must be Maya Bethany,” she said, reaching over to shake the hand of the woman standing across from Slattery. She was a gentle-looking woman with wavy auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail, soft grey eyes, and the high cheekbones of someone of Slavic descent. Other than a hint of lipstick, she wore no makeup and she’d dressed conservatively in slacks and a crisp, white blouse. Bravo, Roberta thought. It was the perfect look—neither flashy nor too casual. Over the past year she felt she’d gotten to know Maya Bethany, having read her appeals to the board in equal parts horror and admiration. And now, here she was. Almost exactly as Roberta had imagined.


The Demise of Dickey, Part 2


Hollywood Studmuffin Trevor Lamour

Okay, because you asked for it (you crazy people), here’s the remainder of the Demise of Dickey, my attempt at writing romance. This is as far as I got before realizing writing a romance  isn’t easy and definitely should not be attempted by someone with strudel in the noodle. (Part One is here.)

To bring you up-to-date, Hollywood stud-muffin Trevor Lamour has arrived on scene to find his girlfriend Dinah, the CEO of Toadwillow Studios, in quite a state.  Between sobs she tells him her beloved dog has died and is lying in their newly remodeled kitchen when who should arrive on scene?  Donald DePew, the kitchen’s designer….

Demise of Dickey, Part 2

“I don’t think you understand, Donald. That’s not a piece of art – it’s Dickey!”


“Yes, Dinah’s Dickey. He’s dead!”


Not on the Brazilian tile!

“He can’t be! Not on the Brazilian tile! He’ll stain the grout!” He flew over to the corpse, his cheeks ablaze, and began kicking it. “Up Dickey doggie, up! Trevor, do something!”

Trevor still stood in the foyer, his eyes glazed over. “You know. We once had a dog. His name was Sammy. I remember when he died we buried him in the backyard. Gosh it was nifty. We were all there – Mom, Dad and sis. Buddy, that was my older brother’s name, why he dug the hole all by himself.”

Gosh it was nifty? Mom, Dad and sis? I thought you were an orphanfamilydog raised by the Sisters of Infinite Charity who turned out to be child abusing sexual sociopaths?”

“Oh, that was Dinah’s idea. She wants to brand me as a bad boy with a tragic past – sort of like Robert Mitchum. The truth is….”

“Don’t say another word! Some mutt has just died on, and perhaps ruined for-ever, the hand stained mustard seed grout and now you’re telling me that Trevor Lamour is really Jack Sprat from Oshgosh…”

“No, Spokane, actually.”

“Whatever! And we can’t bury the damn dog in the backyard. In case you haven’t noticed, the house is perched on a cliff!”


DePeux couldn’t contain his disappointment. For months he’d dreamt of having a fling with Trevor Lamour and now to learn the man used words like “nifty.”  It was too much disappointment to bear. Damn, that Dinah is a genius at marketing, he thought. No wonder the bitch has managed to claw her way up to the top of the game. And in the shark pit that’s Hollywood no less.

Suddenly they heard a loud crash from the bedroom followed by an eerie silence.

“Was that a gun?” Donald squealed, “Dinah doesn’t own one, does she?”

Trevor’s face was blank. “Oh course she does. It’s L.A.!” They turned and ran down the length of the hall. Dinah sat on her bed scowling at a  phone held about a foot from her face, on the marble floor lay remnants of a lamp she’d smashed to smithereens. Trevor knew the look on her face well. She was about to lay waste to everything within five miles, like some sort of alien spaceship sent to destroy all life forms on earth.

Dinah2“What do you mean?!!! Didn’t you explain to the Disney people I’d lost my darling Dickey and couldn’t be expected to attend their stupid meeting?? What kind of an idiot are you?” She threw the phone across the room, then turned toward the men now cowering near the door. Her eyes were like those of a rattlesnake about to strike. “DePew, what a jolly time you’ve chosen to visit! Well, I suppose for the amount we’ve paid you, you can help Trevor take care of Dickey.”

“But…but…how?” Both men mumbled.

google“How the hell should I know.  Here’s a suggestion: Google dead dog removal services!”

The End…

Next week, for those of you who’ve expressed interest in the proceedings of the Board of Equalization (part of the Kick Ass Taxwoman story) I’ll be posting an excerpt from the book which will reveal all.  See you then!

Images courtesy of


The Demise of Dickey


The temp

Chained to the desk… dreaming of becoming Danielle Steele!

Many years ago when I was trapped by fear-of-starvation in a nine-to-five job, I read an article about how filthy rich Danielle Steele was and said to myself “Hey!  I could write those romance novels!  I mean, how hard could it be?  Just follow the same script again and again – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again – right?”

So on one particularly quiet day (of which there were many) I sat down at my computer, wrote the following in an email and sent it off to my friend J.


DinahThe day her dog Dickey died, Dinah was inconsolable.  She wept like an ice cube on speed, grabbing Trevor’s sturdy shoulders and flinging her warm, wet face into his perfumed chest. After an hour of steady downpour, she began to calm.  Trevor led her gently into the bedroom and set her down on the Austrian goose down comforter that sat atop her Madonna inspired ultra king-size bed.  In the distance the sun set over the Pacific as lights began twinkling to life on the Hollywood Strip lying at their manicured tootsies.

“Now Dinah, remember that Dickey was an old dog. . .”

“Oh Dickey, Dickey,” she sobbed. “there will never be another dog like Dickey.”  She was still in her satin negligee, scented sleep mask on top her head, fluffy slippers on her size nine feet.  When she hadn’t arrived at the studio by three o’clock, her secretary called down to the set.  Luckily Trevor had just wrapped up shooting for the day.

By now his shirt was wringing wet thus the cool evening breeze gave him a chill.  He got up to close the window, stripping off his shirt as he went.

“Oh Trevor, I can’t believe you’re thinking about sex at a time like this!”

“I’m not thinking about sex; I’m dripping wet!” he protested, although, he thought, it’s not such a bad idea.  He could make her forget about Dickey by taking her into his arms and making passionate love to her.  That damned dog was never good for their love life, jumping on his mistress just when Trevor was about to perform at his best.

He closed the window and slowly moved towards her. “Let’s make you comfortable, my love.”

“Oh Dickey, Dickey.  Trevor, will you take care of Dickey? I just couldn’t do it.”

“What do you mean ‘take care of Dickey’?  I thought you said he was dead.”

“He is dead. . . but he’s in the kitchen.”

“The kitchen?”

dog“His little body is lying on the floor; his little legs sticking straight up in the air…”  With that she started sobbing again.

“The floor!  Oh no, what will DePew say?  Why couldn’t you take  Dickey to the vet’s to die? Why let him croak on the Brazilian tiles?”

It was then that the doorbell rang.  At least, he thought it was the doorbell, but perhaps it was her cell phone.  Trevor never excelled at making snap decisions thus he stood wavering back and forth – door or purse, door or purse – until Dinah snarled “Will you please get the damned door?  Can’t you see the condition I’m in?”

He reluctantly started down the hall toward the front door and . . . the kitchen. . . all the while thinking the dog, the dead dog was in the kitchen.

“Who is it?” he yelled through the rustic barn door.

“It’s DePew.  Donald DePew.”

Trevor opened the door a crack and peered out.  Sure enough, it was Donald DePew, the interior designer they had hired from their remodel.  Their famous remodel by the famous DePew.

“Donald, old man!” he said, throwing open the door, “I’m so happy to see you!”  He hugged De Pew with a ferocity that shocked the normally implacable Designer DeJeur.


Trevor Lamour, Hollywood honey

“Why Trev, you’re such a brute!”  De Pew squealed with delight. “To what do I owe such an unexpectedly delish welcome?”  He knew that Trevor Lamour, film stud-muffin extraordinaire would come out eventually and now it seemed, he finally had.

Donald’s manicured nails digging into his bare back brought Trevor quickly back to his senses.  “Donald, I have this slight problem in the kitchen which is why Dinah is in hysterics.”  Dinah’s sobs could be heard all the way down the hall.

“You can’t have a problem with the kitchen.  The kitchen is perfection.  Spielberg doesn’t have such a kitchen. Nor does Streisand!”  DePeuw peered around the corner.  He stood for a moment pursing his lips and flicking his fingers against his jaw as though evaluating a piece of art. “No, no, no.  It’s all wrong for the space.  Maybe in the living room but definitely not the kitchen,  It is rather nice, though.  Who’s the artist?”


Okay, troops.  Danielle Steele has nothing to worry about from JT Twissel, otherwise known as Jan. My friend J wrote in response:

“Don’t delete this indubitably deliriously, delightful dictation.  Will Dickey be delivered paws downward? Will Dickey’s death make sex a delicate decision?  Will Trevor decide to delay his declaration of love for Donald DePew?  Will Dinah denounce, dismantle and decimate Trevor when finally he declaims? Or will Dinah duplicate Trevor’s behavior and declare her love for Donald?

Tune in. . . and now this . . .