Death on a Cold November Night

In November of 1962, my mother’s pregnancy miscarried. She hemorrhaged and soaked the front seat of the car in blood as my father raced through the streets to the hospital. She passed out and he assumed she was dead but there was nothing else to do except keep driving.

It was dark and cold out. The hospital was five miles away, but it seemed much farther as he could only see what was revealed by the street lights, the rest of the city shrouded in darkness.

There were two of us left behind at the house, watched by a neighbor, and he didn’t want to think about raising boys alone.

They had wanted a third child and then that was going to be it for kids because they were 34 at that point. The smell of blood mixed with earth filled his nostrils as he pulled up to the hospital. Obviously, they should have stopped at two.

He got out of the car and yelled for help. As he struggled to lift her lifeless body from the car, orderlies came to his assistance. They situated her on a gurney and rolled her inside.

Back then, hospitals were more like prisons with strict hours and clearly defined boundaries. But you could smoke in the waiting room and that’s all my father had to console himself as he waited.

The doctor joined him in a cigarette as he explained the situation. The baby, a girl, had been lost. But my mother would survive. The bleeding had stopped and they were giving her more blood and then there would be other procedures but she seemed stable. The danger, as doctors are wont to say, had passed.

When my father saw her, there was no talk of how close she’d come to her death. My mother grieved the loss of her baby girl, but they didn't wonder about why this had happened.

Released from the hospital, she resumed her role around the house, and my father resumed his. They still had two boys, and they kept my mother company during the day when my father returned to work.

Duty gave way to routine, which gave way to comfort. There were the holidays, then the seasons. The cycles of life.

A year later, they tried again. Nine months after that, I was born.

I was inspired to write that because I found a notebook in my mother's things. She's been gone for nine years but I still have boxes of her things stored in various nooks of my house.

In the notebook, she lists various transactions for their housekeeping ("Kitchen table, $79"). She also lists the specifics of our births, such as date, time, length and weight. She also made an entry for the miscarriage.

I had heard a few things about that miscarriage from my father in two rare instances when my mother seemed sad. I was too young to really understand it, but the few things he mentioned stuck with me.

I keep notebooks myself. Some are diaries from my childhood. (In one, I mention the premiere of a television show called "Dallas.") I have snippets of situations, people, or conversations I encountered over the years.

None of that stuff is interesting in itself. I always intended to do something more with those little tidbits later on.

And that's what I did with my mother's entry made, probably, 56 years ago.

G.I. Joe Christmas

A Christmas of corruption, deception and intrigue.

Ignore the civilians admiring the tank.

A Christmas of corruption, deception and intrigue.

In the early 1970s, I developed an urge to play with dolls. At the age of seven, I was smitten by these dolls thanks to an onslaught of advertising on television. I was very impressionable, and the Saturday morning cartoons were thick with ads for G.I. Joe dolls. They were presented in exciting situations with weapons to kill and gear that allowed them to climb mountains, jump out of planes, or swim under the sea. There were jeeps, helicopters, and recreational vehicles (the last of which was used as a command center).

I wanted a G.I. Joe more than I wanted anything. When you are seven and you don’t have to worry about food, clothing or shelter, a particular toy can become your entire fucking world.

G.I. Joe became my entire world and I didn’t even have one.

Sitting on Santa's Lap

I made it abundantly clear that what I wanted for Christmas was a G.I. Joe. I’m not sure when I learned the truth about Santa Claus. I understood it was my mother who controlled my world, and could make or break my Christmas.

After school one day, as Christmas drew near, my older brother brought me into our mother’s bedroom. He had been snooping, and he found something in her closet.

This was a forbidden zone. We weren’t supposed to go in her bedroom, and we sure as hell weren’t supposed to go in her closet. To be found out was to be punished by our father, brandishing his belt. But I didn’t care about that. I only wanted to know what my brother had found.

The Forbidden Zone

In the closet, buried beneath other things, was a shopping bag and inside the shopping bag was two G.I. Joe figures and two uniform sets.

We were ecstatic. I wanted so badly to play with him right that moment and change his outfit, put a gun in his hand, and pose him in an action-oriented stature.

“You can’t touch them,” Steve said. “She can’t suspect that we know.”

The remaining days leading up to Christmas were torture. All I wanted was to sneak back in Mom’s bedroom and take the toys from the closet.

“If she finds out we know,” Steve said, “she won’t give them to us.”

Then the torture grew worse with the worry that we’d be discovered and we wouldn’t even get our G.I. Joe poseable figures.

Say what? (He's a talking G.I. Joe.)

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas came. Before we went downstairs, Steve pulled me aside. “Act surprised. If she thinks we know, it’ll be the end.”

At the appointed time, I tore open the presents and there was my coffin-like cardboard box with one bearded G.I. Joe with a battle scar on his cheek. He came with a pistol, a holster, and an M-1 carbine. His other outfit was his dress blue, Class A uniform.

I screamed wildly, clearly over-playing my hand. It was probably the release of tension at not having to live the lie or worry that I might not receive the gift.

At first, my brother played action-figures with me, but he soon lost interest. Whereas I spent another five years playing with G.I. Joes, collecting new ones, expanding their wardrobe and equipment.

As far as I know, my mother never knew that we searched her room and discovered the gifts.

Those G.I. Joe dolls were my favorite Christmas gift ever. And I still want to play with them.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

Art Heist is an official selection of the Kinodrome Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival in Cleveland.

"I should have planned this evening a little better" meets "I really need to talk to you."

One of my main motivations in making Art Heist was a chance to get Emily Hadick together with her acting friends from college, and it was a logistical nightmare to bring them all together. Possibly the most difficult was to get Anna on the set, because she was living in Chicago and arrived some time after midnight in Lansing. They both arrived bleary-eyed but were consummate professionals during a long, long day of shooting.

If you want to see their performance, visit:

If you'd like to join us in Cleveland this weekend, you can find out about it at:

The Funniest Person to Run an Art Gallery

Art Heist will be playing at the Kinodrome Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival.

When a shit-eating grin meets a go fuck yourself glare.

Tricia Chamberlain brought a brand of comedy to the set of Art Heist that endeared her to the rest of the team and is beguiling to watch on screen. If you'd like to see what the hell I keep talking about, you can view it here:

My only regret? I have to miss Tricia's next set in Lansing at The Robin Theatre, where Art Heist was filmed! But if you're in town Saturday, you should check out their show.

If you'd like to join us in Cleveland this weekend, you can find out about it at:

Why Cops and Art Galleries Rarely Go Together

Art Heist will be playing at the Kinodrome Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival.

There's always a cop when you don't need one.

My short film, Art Heist, will be playing in Cleveland on Sept. 30 at the Kinodrome Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival. During the making of this film, Andrew was a great team member, helping out with the sound while other scenes were filmed. Also, he went all-in on the dance scene, and took the film where it needed to go.

If you'd like to see what this movie is all about, you can view it here:

If you'd like to join us in Cleveland this weekend, you can find out about it at: