Category Archives: True Life Misadventure

Bonfire of the Inanities

It is not often that I have had the chance to put out a man on fire in my previous occupations. When I worked for a neighbor in Tennessee, acting as the ditch-digger assistant to his backhoe service, there were no chances at all for life-saving. I did get to play with jackhammers and dynamite. He taught me the frightful synergy of tamping a blast hole with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate long before Oklahoma City.

Subsequent jobs had few chances for heroics, though I did learn concrete-forming, burger-flipping, photo-processing, and waste water lab testing. The one time a rack of super-heated test tubes full of  grey water and sulfuric acid exploded all over my lab manager, he pretty much saved himself by diving into the safety shower. He sustained no serious injuries, but we all learned a valuable lesson about saying the phrase “things can’t get any worse” out loud.

Now, when I worked as a balloon delivery driver, that was my biggest opportunity to be a hero.  Along with wrangling a dozen helium balloons at a time in high winds, I got to make deliveries to birthday parties, massage parlors, and gross anatomy classes.  One time, I even got a chance to put out a flaming handyman.

The balloon service was preparing to move from its quaint but cramped quarters in German Village to Main St. in Bexley, the Beverly Hills of Columbus. (Say that to yourself a couple of times: the Beverly Hills of Columbus. Savor the cognitive dissonance.)  A few of us twenty-somethings were painting and prepping the walls while the owner’s handyman was stripping the old wooden desks.

Now, this handyman was a curmudgeon and a proud graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. It sounded like he had been the keynote speaker and valedictorian of the class of ’32 as he shared the highlights of his speech. The theme was Common Sense and how “you college boys” don’t know anything about the real world and surviving in it. It wasn’t an overly complicated topic, but he expanded upon it with anecdotes and examples to make it clearer for those of us that were reality-impaired.

We really didn’t engage with him, but he just kept talking as he slapped the noxious chemicals on the varnished wood, scraped it off, and discarded the flammable gel on the canvas drop cloth. A fairly even coat got spattered on the legs of his jumpsuit, too.

Eventually, he took a break.

A smoking break.

He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a book of matches. Right there, in the middle of the furniture stripping project, he did this. With a cigarette in his mouth, he lit one of the matches. I reconstruct the next few steps from the explanations he had to give to several people afterwards.

He struck the match.

He realized that he was in the midst of a large amount of open and flammable chemicals. Being a worldly man, he knew that this was a dangerous situation and he should really take this outside.

Because he wasn’t some snot-nosed college kid, he was smart enough to not set himself on fire. He stood there silently congratulating himself on his exceptional Common Sense. I don’t know how he did this, but it was a fraction of a second too long.

The match singed his fingers and he dropped it. It set the gel on the drop cloth around him to a small but steady flame. The legs of his grey-pinstripe coveralls caught fire in less than a second.

A good deal of shouting, flailing, and stomping ensued. I don’t know if it was just good planning or I had seriously expected this to happen, but I knew exactly where the fire extinguisher was. I hurried the ten to twenty  feet to the big red cylinder on the floor. I popped the cotter key off that sucker and dowsed everything that was burning with a thick cloud of fire suppressants.

The handyman looked crestfallen, but no longer aflame. The atmosphere, previously tainted with blather and contempt, was now filling up with smoke, toxic fumes, and the bitter taste of the extinguisher. Formic acid settled onto the back of my tongue and stuck. My coworkers rushed to throw open both the front and back doors. It was a short contest between the evening breeze blowing through and the steady cloud rising from the smoldering goo on the floor. Eventually, clean air tipped the balance.

That’s about the time the fire alarms went off.

This was a new building to us. No-one had mentioned a built-in alarm system or how to turn it off. We rushed to the circuit box and started throwing switches until the noise finally stopped.  We chuckled among ourselves, relieved that we were all alive and hadn’t burned down the building. I said something along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the lines were still connected to the fire department?”

That’s when we heard the approaching sirens.

Four or five firefighters in full gear came in the front door. The owner returned from his errands through the back door.  It was a very uncomfortable fifteen minutes for the handyman.

When asked, I gave a fairly neutral version of the facts, even though the “stupid college kid” in me wanted to rub his nose in smoldering furniture stripping gel. I had done plenty of stupid things before. I have done a few stupid things since. I’ve been lucky that after the flames were out, nobody ever threw me under the bus.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Silly stuff, True Life Misadventure

Adulting on the Weekend

I am in an uncomfortable place for an indie author. My previous publisher pulled my Arcanum Faire books upon reversion of rights on February 1st. (It was an amicable separation, just like me and my first wife). My new publisher is still securing an editor for my upcoming tale of the Squirrel Apocalypse. I am only waiting on a really cool cover from excellent comic artist Seth Lyons to self-publish Camp Arcanum. Unfortunately, I don’t have the narcissism and unmedicated gall to ask him to put the cover ahead of his ant-related injuries to his hands and the repairs of his parent’s home from the Memorial Day tornadoes. That only proves I don’t have what it takes to be a small press publisher. (Did I tell you it was a really, really amicable separation? I signed a paper.)

This all leaves me with no reason to scream “BUY MY BOOK!” There is nothing out there to buy. I guess I’ll just have to be an adult, even on the weekend. This is how it looks:

6:20 am. Cats and bladder go off. Don robe and slippers.

6:25 am. Feed rodents and cats. Do NOT feed rodents to cats. Secure first cup of coffee and first pill.

6:35 am. Fiddle on computer until brain engages.

7:20 am. Brain still not engaged; will have to go on like every other day of my life. Avoid waste by eating last Apple Fritter for breakfast and taking the rest of my pills with even more coffee.

8:00 am. Wife, being a reasonable human being, sleeps until absolutely necessary to awaken. I don jeans and tee-shirt as she prepares for the day. (dressing much earlier than usual for the weekend)

8:20 am. Wife leaves to care for friends’ cats before opening our store. I open garage door for her and The Broom.

8:25 am. Since I am outdoors and not wearing bathrobe, I till herb and vegetable gardens.

8:45 am. Transplant invasive comfrey from last season into the shame corner of the herb garden, just below the gas meter. Give them a stern talking to while doing so.

9:00 am.  Run a load of laundry and calculate the logistics of hanging damp clothes around the house if the dryer malfunctions again. More harsh language.

9:15 am. Replace old whiteboard with new preformatted project whiteboard. Transfer data and magickal glyphs. Rough out this week’s blog post and about a quarter page of my steampunk WIP. I feel the power of the dry erase flowing through my veins.

10:30 am. Leave cats in charge of house and stop by the credit union drive-thru to deposit check from bookstore. (Yes, people actually pay me for my books, some times.) Bank is usually closed by the time I get free of the day job, so I am actually conducting business when I should be home watching cartoons and wolfing down Lucky Charms.

11:08 Meet Sheldon at theater to catch John Wick 3. Last instance of adult thought for the weekend.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure, Writer stuff

Fun with Quokkas

As the country is wrapping up National Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems to be appropriate to share some of my relatively minor struggles.

I have been depressed most of my adult life.  I could go into grim medical descriptions or personal anecdotes, but that should be saved for another blog. Suffice it to say my brain doesn’t produce all the neurotransmitters needed to operate the machinery smoothly. That results in dark moods, generalized pain, muddled thinking, fatigue, and irritability. Depression: it’s not just for moping around anymore!

My GP and I have worked through a variety of pharmaceuticals, alone and in combination, over the last few years. We’ve discovered any number of annoying and embarrassing side effects, but recently my wife and I have had to deal with Vivid Dreams and acting out. I referenced earlier the time I dreamed somebody had been set on fire and I was frantically try to swat out the flames with my bare hands. We both awoke to my slapping my wife’s butt repeatedly. She did not find it stimulating.

My dreams wind up being involved versions of the stories I write, full of action, horror, and ass-kicking. The cats now sleep on Kit’s side of the bed to avoid being launched into space. (catapult)

So, I try to program my dreams. Instead of internalizing all the frustrations of my life and the terror of current events, I focus on happy things. And there is nothing happier than a Quokka. In case you haven’t heard about them, they are cat-sized marsupials that live on a single island off the coast of Australia. They look to be constantly smiling and gleefully pose for selfies with tourists, no matter what PETA and Australian Fish & Game might have to say.

I now have a picture of two Quokkas taped to my wall near my bed. I have named them Graeme and Oista. Each night, I say good night to them, and their cousin Saltine. I tell them to leave the Club and go back to their Townhouse.

Sometimes, I elaborate to get into the happy Quokka groove:

In my best Shirley Temple voice I sing a few bars of “Animal Quokkas in My Soup”.

1980’s marsupial singing sensation: Quokka Khan.

Wallaby-like creature that realigns your spine: a Quokka-practor.

Jason Momoa leading the marsupials in a Maori war chant: An Aquaman Quokka haka.

.

.

.

I’m lucky that my wife hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet.

1 Comment

Filed under Silly stuff, True Life Misadventure

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Joust

This weekend was the second annual Treaty City Joust, an acknowledged tournament for international league standing in Darke County Ohio. It is something of a big deal if you follow sports where people on horseback whack each other with sticks.

I had been there last year, tucked between the food trucks to sell  my books. It had been a very good sales day for a variety of reasons. 1.) The Arcanum Faire books are set in Arcanum in Darke County and many locals can’t believe somebody actually wrote a book about their boring little town.  2.) I was tucked between the food trucks where potential readers were already clutching money in their fists. 3.) The heroes were ren faire performers and jousters just like the competitors on the list who valiantly fought to hold off the end of the world. 4.) I was between the food trucks.

I was not exactly engaged and enthusiastic Saturday morning. After my bout with pneumonia a few years, seasonal allergies easily escalated up to asthma and fatigue. My recently increased levels of antidepressants weren’t picking up the slack yet, either. Promises had been made to unknown fans on the Internet, so there was an obligation to attend even if there had been minimal contact with organizersI slowly assembled my books, tent, and other accoutrements and pointed my car towards the nearest gas station that excepted my fuel rewards card.

That is where I received my first sign that the Universe wasn’t in support of my quest. At the gas station, the card reader declined all of the debit cards in my wallet. Only someone who has ninety-nine per cent of their assets existing only as data in financial data banks can appreciate the fleeting terror of that moment. I did finally register a hand-written sign on building’s door which read: NO DEBIT/CREDIT. Through some glitch of technology, all of their card readers, inside and out, were useless. The ATM outside the building worked just fine. I was able to buy my gas the way my nineteenth century ancestors did, with cold hard cash.

Trusting that to be the worst thing to happen to me that morning, I fired up Google Maps to guide me around the streets closed for maintenance between me and the freeway. Thus commenced a leisurely tour of the neighborhoods around the OSU campus as my phone demanded multiple U-turns and normal turns onto paths that were blocked to me.  Resetting the device, enhanced with vigorous bouts of harsh language, did no good until I noticed the projected time for an eighty-six mile trip would take nine hours and forty-seven minutes. For reasons unknown to Goddess and Science, my phone and Google believed I was on a bicycle.

At nearly the time I had been hoping to arrive, Kreatur and I left Columbus. The trip had all the minor annoyances common to a road trip in Central Ohio, but nothing as irredeemably odd as my earlier difficulties. The high point was my bird of omen. For the longest time I had felt a strong affinity for hawks and eagles, even before a sparrowhawk flew down my chimney for me to capture. (it was released, no need to track me down ODNR)

Off to my right was a red-tail hawk in flight with a snake in its beak. I thought the sign augured well for my day at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Either that, or I was destined to found an Aztec empire in a new Tenochtilan.

The torrential rains from the night before must have frightened off many of the attendees. Some of the arena was still a mud pit, and the junior jousters set to run through their paces a nine a.m. were just getting started in the afternoon as I arrived. The crowd was only a third of the previous year’s size. They looked to be families that had spent almost all of their money on horses, armor, and jousting lessons.

There were no food trucks.

I stuck around until the wind folded up my tent for me, but it proved to be a very disappointing sales. I hold my chin up and keep chugging. There is still a good chance of my building a stone pyramid in the jungle and cutting out the hearts of my enemies at its summit.

Leave a comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure, Writer stuff

Author Prompt Joust

Just got the email from Marcus Calvert and Weston Kincade. They had hosted the Prompt Joust at Cleveland Concoction, an improvised storytelling competition where two authors improvise a sixty-second story from a common artifact inspiration. The winner goes on to the next round. The loser goes back to their seat to wallow in self pity.

I would like to say I performed brilliantly, but most of my improv experience was as a mime, so my vocal performance was not as polished as the trained actress I went up against. Still it was great fun, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Here are the links to the Youtube channel and their scheduled upload dates:

The introduction episode to the series was released earlier today (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioo4Z-xAU6Q&t=4s). Starting tonight at midnight, each episode will be released for the next 8 days. Each video’s link is below, but they won’t work until the video releases at midnight on the scheduled release day:

April 1 – Marcus V. Calvert vs. J.L. Gribble (https://youtu.be/ltthQ9IaWVY)

April 2 – J.L. Gribble vs. Cindy Matthews (https://youtu.be/fNDTzikxG1o)

April 3 – Cindy Matthews vs. Megan Mackie (https://youtu.be/ePZRf20J4Fw)

April 4 – Megan Mackie vs. Josef Matulich (https://youtu.be/HW6M3V9x1kE)

April 5 – Megan Mackie vs. Patricia Miller (https://youtu.be/eO5eUATyl8E)

April 6 – Megan Mackie vs. K.M. Herkes (https://youtu.be/DwSqG06hhkc)

April 7 – Megan Mackie vs. Scott Sigler (https://youtu.be/0bp46Bwa8kc)

April 8 – Author Q&A Panel (TBD)

BTW Marcus Calvert and I wear the same hat. I am the one with the mustache.

Leave a comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure, Writer stuff

“Daddy’s Home. Gin Every Night.”

What happens when you watch four episodes of Marie Kondo and the American Godzilla (the good one with Heisenberg, Kickass, and Scarlet Witch)? You go through the kitchen like Sherman marching through Georgia. Ten bags of trash later, the kitchen was tidy and the liquor closet  was in our sights.

Many quaint, but undrinkable, bottles were discarded and three half bottles of gin were uncovered. Those were remnants of my last mother’s visits. She died in 2010. The mix of hours of dust inhalation and bittersweet memories inspired me to drink. The mash-up of the welcome home scene of the younger Brody returning from deployment and a tidying hangover was born.

“Daddy’s Home. Gin Every Night.”

I’m sure we’re not the first couple driven to drink by that Japanese tidiness leprechaun.

- ELLE: Daddy's home. - Cake every night.

Leave a comment

Filed under Silly stuff, True Life Misadventure

Readings & Royal Weddings

I’m afraid this is short notice, and it will be a short notice of it. This weekend we have two big events. Saturday, we are throwing a Royal Wedding party at the Alley. attendees are encouraged to wear their tiaras and ambassadorial sashes, fancy frocks and frock coats. I will be providing cupcakes and various liquid refreshments (cough, champagne) will be served. Once again, a proof that you’re never too old to play dress up. For details you can check out the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/415971332184869/

On Sunday, we’re having a little launch event for my third novel “The Ren Faire at the End of the World” at the Book Loft. I’ll be reading ,signing, and offering up chocolate undead bunnies. I’m doing a traumatic reading of my second favorite sequence in the book, with Landsknecht reenactors and Scadians squaring off against the Forces of Evil. My favorite sequence would be entirely too spoilery.

The link to that event is here, if you’re interested. It remains here if you’re disinterested:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/josef-matulich-the-ren-faire-at-the-end-of-the-world-the-time-of-sex-magik-and-power-tools-is-tickets-45455222795

Now, I’ve got to be preparing. Where is my clear vanilla extract and meringue powder?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure, Writer stuff

Sex, Magick & … WTF CBS?

Good thing I started doubling up on my antidepressants this week.

I was on Twitter, as I am often wont to do when there are more productive things to do in the morning, when I came across an advert for the latest project appearing on CBS All Access. It was “Strange Angel”, the partially true story of the founder of JPL and follower of Aleister Crowley (just as Jeremiah Stone is in Arcanum Faire). Okay, sounds frothy and fun and things will most likely blow up good in the end.

But the tag line they used in the trailer…

“Sex, Magick, and Rocket Science”?

For my dozens of fans out there, this is a recognizable phrase. I have been describing the Arcanum Faire books as “A comedy of Sex, Magick, and Power Tools” for five years, now. And it’s not like it is only written on the underside of a rock in a sugar beet field in Elk Grove CA. You can find it here:

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/122949

and here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25217904-power-tools-in-the-sacred-grove

and even here:

It’s quite possible that the bright young person responsible, because they’re all bright and young in Hollywood PR, came across my tagline and said “Hey, what a great idea! I’m sure that Matlick guy will be flattered if we copy it!” Consider the ten-thousand variations of “Where’s the Beef?”

Well, I’m irritated, but realistic about it. You can’t really copyright a tagline, though with some effort and cash you can trademark it. And even if there was legal recourse, CBS has enough lawyers to beat a Mastadon to death with teaspoons. There’s not much I can do but fill the cybersphere with my own hashtags to slipstream the wake of this well-funded vessel. So here we go:

#SexMagick&PowerTools

#ArcanumFaire

Care to join me?

Leave a comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure, Writer stuff

Thirty Years

Today is my thirtieth anniversary of marriage to my wife Kit. Since I was twenty-nine at the time, this means I have spent more than half of my life with her.

From a hot tub full of illicit Mr. Bubble to the loss of our daughter, it has been a rocky thirty years. The only way we made it is that we clung together like shipwrecked sailors in a storm. We were each others rescue and reward.

I plan to cling to her for another thirty years.

Leave a comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure

Today is strange…

Today is the twenty-third anniversary of our daughter’s death. She died in her sleep two weeks short of her fifth birthday. This leaves a hole in our lives that in spite of all reason seems to get larger with the passing of time. I’ve taken the day off work to spend time with my wife. We’re going to the conservatory to smell flowers and think of Alyssa.

While we were upstairs, my computer started playing “The Hamilton Polka” for no reason. I came downstairs and shut it off with a click. The system wasn’t up on Itunes, so the cats couldn’t have set it off by stepping on the keyboard. If this was a sign from the afterlife, it is the  weirdest one I could imagine.

Today is strange…

1 Comment

Filed under True Life Misadventure