Translate This Page




Here's where you can buy the MisAdventures worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France

United Kingdom ...........................Spain

Canada ........................................ Italy

Germany ..................................... Japan

Brazil .......................................... India

Friday, March 30, 2012


Daisy Duke
(Catherine Bach)
The Voice On The Phone sounded like somebody talking from the bottom of a gravel pit."Cristomunchen?" It was saying. "Cristomunchen?"

At least that's approximately what I could make out. The only semi-certain part was that the speaker appeared to be asking some sort of question.

"I'm sorry," I said. "There seems to be bad connection. Who is this, please?"

The voice replied, "Lix."

"Lix?" I inquired. "Lix who?"

I was getting impatient, but I didn't hang up because I could hear odd things going on in the background. Were those loudspeakers? Airport loudspeakers? Was I speaking to a troubled soul afflicted with a bad case of the mushmouth who was stuck at an airport?

The voice said, "Fookin' Shite! Cristomunchen! Cristomunchen!"

Okay, now I was getting some hints. "Fookin'" was probably "fuckin'." And "Shite" - with the long i (eye) - was the way they said "shit" in the British Isles.

"Are you English, by any chance?" I asked.

This was greeted by a long string of what I took to be curses against me, my parentage, my ancestors, and so on infin-obscenity-itum.

I hung up.

"Who was that?" Chris asked, looking up from his typewriter.

"Beats the shit out of me," I said. "Or, maybe I should say, beats the shite out of me, 'cause that's the way the guy talked."

Chris frowned, puzzled. The phone rang again, but this time he picked it up. He identified himself, listened a second, then his face lit up.

"Kilgour, you fuck!" he said. "Where the hell are you?"

He listened, then looked up. "It's Alex," he informed me. "He's at Kennedy Airport."

Well, now things were starting to make a modicum of sense. The Alex (not Lix) that Chris was speaking of was none other than Alex Kilgour, model for Sten 's sidekick of the same name. The garbled words also made sense - Kilgour was Scots and although I had never met him, I had every reason to believe that the dialect Chris put into his mouth in the Sten books was dead on accurate. "Cristomunchen?" was probably him asking for "Chris Bunch?"

Knowing who Alex was, I also forgave him for cussing me out when I inquired if he was English. With Irish roots that went back to the Battle Of The Boyne and beyond, I knew well how any member of the Celtic tribes would feel if similarly accused. Bar brawls - nay, even wars - had been fought for less.

Meanwhile, I was big-earing Chris' side of the conversation. "You're in trouble? What kind of trouble? Come on, Alex, a 'wee spot of bother' isn't a fucking answer. Okay, okay, not on the phone. I get it. Sure you can crash with me... When?"

Chris looked up. "He wants us to pick him up at LAX. His flight will be in about four o'clock."

I shrugged. Fine by me. They chatted on for a few more minutes - what was incomprehensible Kilgour dialect to me was plain as day to Chris. Go figure.

I don't remember what script we were working on, but it was going smoothly, and a trip to the airport, and a drink or three at one of the airport bars sounded like a nice way to wrap the day. Airports were fun then. No security barriers, you got to keep your shoes on and you could meet friends as they disembarked from the plane and whisk them into any number of friendly bars for jolts of jetlag medicine all around.

Besides, I could rationalize the jaunt as research. Kilgour's character figured large in the third book of the Sten series - The Court Of A Thousand Suns - as he would in all that would follow. We were in the process of pounding out Court between script assignments, and if I was going to help Chris write Kilgour properly, it'd be nice to finally look the guy over.

Chris and Alex had met a few years before - just in time to include him as a character in the final draft of Sten #1. Vacationing in Scotland, Bunch visited the famous castle at Edinburgh. There he encountered this short, squat, heavily muscled little Scotsman who was head of castle security. A discussion of soldiers and soldiery, as well as weapons, both ancient and modern, started in the castle and then continued on to a boozy pub crawl.

They became fast friends when Alex learned that Chris was a Vietnam War era commando and Chris learned that Alex was an active duty SAS kiddie. (The Strategic Air Service is Britain's elite commando force, considered among the best in the world.) Alex had recently returned to light duties whilst recovering from having a chunk of his bicep shot off by some *&@#$* WOG in Oman.

When Chris returned home he told me about Alex and voila - Kilgour became the short, squat, immensely powerful heavy-worlder sidekick of our hero.

I spotted Alex the instant he exited the plane. There was no mistaking the muscular figure with the big, round, cheery face. He had a duffle over one shoulder and when he saw Chris, the face lit up even more.

They greeted one another with bear hugs, and heavy slaps on the back, with Alex saying, "Aye, Chris, yer fookin' fooker," and Chris similarly replying, but without the accent.

Chris turned to introduce me, but Alex waved him down. He offered his hand, almost shyly. "Y' mus' be wee Chris' mate, Allan," he said as we shook.

Well, hell, I was charmed and we were friends by the time the shake ended.

We took a few days off, introducing Kilgour to the joys of Bob Burns (bonnie steaks, but the wee lassies'r wearin' bloody Campbell kilts); the ear-pounding fun of trying out most of Big Dave 's arsenal of some three hundred guns, including black powder and a beautiful little Enfield rifle that Alex said was just like the one he'd trained on; and long nights drinking and talking around Chris' prize coffee table, which was a thick piece of glass mounted on a chromed Triumph engine. (Chris' first major purchase when he returned home from Vietnam was a Triumph motorcycle, now retired, that he'd lusted after all those months in the jungle.)

Alex regaled us with tales of his misdeeds in the SAS and told fabulously long shaggy dog stories, two of which ended up in Court Of A Thousand Suns: the clottin' Romans at Hadrian's wall joke, and the one about the peg-legged pirate with the eye patch and the hook. (Check out the Alex Kilgour Jokebook for those jokes and many equally horrible tales.)

In the meantime, Chris pumped Alex about his "wee spot of bother." Kilgour admitted that he wasn't really on vacation and that the visit had been totally unplanned. Several flights, beginning in Cairo, continuing to Munich, and then an intended return to London - and finally home - had been interrupted.

A mysterious something had caused him to grab a Munich-to-New York flight instead. And then, searching around for some place he could... well... hide out... he'd given Chris a ring, hoping he'd find a welcoming friend with a spare bed.

"Who's he hiding from?" I asked Chris when we had a moment sans Alex.

"He won't say," Chris replied. "But he asked if I had a spare 9mm or.45 he could tuck under his pillow."

"What did you say?" I asked.

"Fuck yes," Chris said. "I always sleep with a.45 under my pillow, so why should I deny a friend?"

"Any idea who might be after him?" I asked.

Chris shook his head. "Only thing I could get out of him was that he was on SAS business. I gather that the business was in the Middle East. And he did something that has some very bad people mad at him. Anyway, I get the idea that the whole thing ought to blow over pretty soon, then he can go home."

Chris and I thought about recent incidents in the Middle East, trying to maybe attach one of them to Alex. But, as always, there were so many nasty things going on, it was impossible to narrow things down. (Every newspaper I ever worked at had the words "Mideast Violence," and "Mideast War" already in type and ready to go in any size and font imaginable.)

The phone rang and it was a producer friend who said, "Hey, Cole. Bunch gave me a shout the other day about showing your Scots friend how we make movies."

"Sure, as long as we can skip the boring parts," I replied.

Hollywood is a lot like combat: hours upon hours of nothing happening, interspersed with a couple of minutes of blinding, activity. The only difference is that in combat you shoot people with guns (or at them, anyway) and in Hollywood, with cameras.

"Got just the thing," the producer said. "My buddy, Timmy Burton, is going to blow some shit up right after the lunch break. How's that sound?"

I said it sounded perfect. The "Timmy Burton" he was referring to was Tim Burton, the not yet famous director-to-be of things like "Beetlejuice," several "Batman" flicks, "Corpse Bride" and any number of other zillion dollar grossing productions. (People in Hollywood love to add the letter "y" after names, to indicate that they are best buds - even if they've never met. James Garner, becomes "Jimmy" Garner. Harrison Ford becomes "Harry" Ford. Tom Cruise, "Tommy" Cruise, and so on. I've never known anyone to have the chutzpah to call Meryl Streep, "Merley," but, you just hide and watch for the subsequent explosion.)

At the guardshack we just introduced our Scotsman to Scotty, the world-renowned gate guard. They hit it off famously and in no time were having an incomprehensible conversation, peppered with "Ayes" and "bloody hells."

The shoot was set for New York Street - one of the many false-fronted studio neighborhoods. They also had Chicago Street, Boston Street, among others. There was an Old West section, with saloons and general stores with hitching rails out front. There was Paris and London, naturally. And any number of idealized Spielberg -styled All-American neighborhoods.

Alex's head was on a swivel as he craned this way and that to see all the strange sights. As we passed odd-looking vehicles, costumed actors and stunt people, there were lots of "Would'ja look at fookin'" thats, and "what in bloody hells," as we made our way through a rather typical day at MCA/Universal.

Before we got to New York street we just had to stop at a big cage on rollers, where an orangutan was taking his ease.

"Is tha' Clint's wee ape?" Alex wanted to know, meaning the simian co-star of Clint Eastwood 's movie, "Any Which Way But Loose." (In Hollywood for less than a week and already Alex was on a first-name bases with the stars. At least he didn't call him "Clinty.")

Then he added, "Aye, that wa' a grand film, i' twas. Excellent fisticuffs."

"No, that's from the TV show, BJ And The Bear," I told him, indicating the big ape. "It's sort of a rip off of was Any Which Way."

"Oh, aye, we have tha' program in Scotland, too," Alex observed. "Me and the lads in the boozer turn off the sound and make rude suggestions to all the girls with the big knockers."

He indicated the orangutan, who was busy ignoring us while digging for fleas. "Is that the same one from the telly?"

The orangutan made kissy faces at us and farted.

"Gotta be," Chris said. "Looks like a fucking star to me." He wrinkled his nose. "Smells like one, too."

Leaving the car at the orangutan's domicile, we strolled on to New York Street where we found a big crowd gathered at the corner. Some were crewmembers, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, others were extras, or stunt people in citified dress clothes - skirts and blouses for the women, a mixture of suits and sports jackets for the men.

A big camera was set up on the corner. A double wall of sandbags protected the camera, as well a small knot of crewmembers. Hunched over it was the cameraman and behind him a young guy I took to be the director, Tim Burton. A young woman - his assistant no doubt - was at his elbow.

She spotted us, waved, and hurried over. "I'm Janice," she said, offering a small hand. "You must be the visitors we were expecting."

"How'd you know?" Chris asked, shaking the hand. "Do we have CIVILIANS tattooed on our foreheads, or something?"

The girl didn't crack a smile - obviously a recent graduate of film school, a tribe noted for having no sense of humor whatsoever.

"You're just the only people here I didn't recognize," she said. Then, all business: "There's no room behind any of the sandbags, so you'd better get over by the pharmacy." She was pointing to a false storefront with a PHARMACY sign over it.

"Keep perfectly still while you're there," she instructed. "And for God's sake, don't wander around."

Chris snapped his bootheels together and saluted. "Yes Ma'am," he said.

The young lady gave him a look that said, you'd better not be trouble, then hurried back to her post by the director.

As we moved to the place we'd been told to go, Alex said, "Ya' don't want'a be fookin' with that wee lass, Chris. She's got that killer's look in her eye."

We had barely reached the safety of the pharmacy doorway, when Tim Burton, said something to Janice and she keyed a mike and her voice boomed out from some hidden speaker: "This is the real thing, people. Get ready... and stay safe..."

Then Burton's hand came down and he called out, "Action!"

Immediately the extras started strolling along the pre-arranged paths, a few cars moved past, and then we saw an odd little figure rise up from behind a mailbox and run across the street.

The guy was skinnier than anyone I'd ever seen. Even so, the checkered suit he wore was several sizes too small and the cuffs stopped some inches above his shoes, displaying crazily colored socks.

He ran to the entrance of a store with a big display window and a PET STORE sign above it. Then he went inside and Burton made motions for everyone to keep rolling... keep rolling...

Extras doubled back into camera range, sweeping off hats, or putting hats on, and making other minor costume adjustments so that unless you looked real close you'd think they were different people from the first group.

Then the Pet Store door banged open and the odd little man came running out and suddenly everybody was running like hell, or ducking down, and then the little man dived behind some sandbags I hadn't noticed before and there was a huge Boom! and the glass window (they use sugar, actually) blew out of the pet store, followed by lots of smoke.

Beat, beat, then pigeons flew out of the store and up into the sky...

Tim Burton shouted, "Cut!"

And everybody rose from wherever they were hiding and Janice shouted, "Half an hour!" and people got busy doing all the things movie people do in between setups.

The little man hurried over to Burton. He looked worried, but Burton patted him on the back and murmured reassurance.

Alex suddenly gave a start. "Well, I'll be a bleedin' Campbell," he said. "I kin tha' lad. He's fookin' Pee-wee Herman, is who he is."

Chris and I hadn't the faintest idea what he was talking about. Pee-wee Goddamned who?

Alex was exasperated. "I don't bloody know if it's his reg'lar name," he said. "But me n' my boy - young Alex - saw him on the telly at home. Right funny, he is."

Neither of us knew who the hell he was talking about, but later our cultural gaps were filled in when the movie we had seen being filmed, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, was released and everybody was talking about the comic genius, Paul Reubens.

Unpleasant things happened to Mr. Reubens later on, as they do to almost everyone who achieves fame. But he survived, is doing well again, and if he's reading this now I'd like him to know that he impressed the clot out of one, Alex Kilgour, and that was no mean feat.

Later in the day we made our way to our old stomping grounds - The Burbank Studios - where a buddy was directing a television episode.

By now, Alex was reaching the stage where the stars no longer shone so brightly in his eyes. He'd seen a Hollywood explosion. Got a close up look at a star - two if you count the orangutan. Visited Grauman's Chinese Theater, where he goggled at Marilyn Monroe 's hand prints, and matched his foot alongside John Wayne 's bootheel.

Despite his short stature, wee Alex had large feet and after measuring his against The Duke's he winked and said, "Ya kin what they say about a lad wi' big feet?"

His walk was jaunty and he had a look of a worldly man who's seen it all when we approached the site of the shoot.

It was Dixie Street - a facade of Old South buildings set around an ornate fountain with some Civil War hero on a horse and a large Courthouse, complete with Grecian columns.

Our buddy stepped away from his cameraman to greet us, fussed over Alex and made him feel important, then got back to work setting up the shot.

There was a cry of "Quiet on the Set! Camera! Speed! Sound! Action!"

And then a fabulous old Dodge Charger tooled up to the courthouse. Red in color. Engine throbbing with barely-suppressed power. A big Confederate flag on its roof.

Rather than opening the doors of the car, two beefy young men shinnied through the windows.

They paused to help an incredibly beautiful young woman slide out to join them. She was wearing a shirt tied up to show a yard of bare flesh, a narrow waist and flaring hips. And she wore denim shorts so tight and cut so high that they were potentially lethal to any male suffering from high blood pressure.

She darted between the young men and started up the steps with them, her whole body demonstrating new meaning to the term, poetry in motion.

It reminded me of the Jack Lemmon line in "Some Like It Hot" when he watched Marilyn Monroe ankle away from him. "You know, they're a whole other sex!"

Alex drank in the scene, transfixed.

But then I saw that his eyes weren't on the girl, as much as they were the red Dodge Charger.

And with great reverence, he breathed "It's fookin' General Lee!"



The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!


Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    


Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?

Friday, March 23, 2012


It was one of those hot dry Santa Ana's that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. (Raymond Chandler - The Red Wind)


"I'm melting, I'm melting," Chris screeched in his worst Wicked Witch Of The West imitation.

I'm not saying his voice could crack glass, but I did nearly drop the bottle of J&B that I was fetching to freshen our drinks. I was carrying an ice bucket in one sweaty hand and the Scotch in the other and hot as it was, my first instinct was to save the ice. At the last minute reason ruled, and I clutched the booze to my breast and let the ice crash to the floor.

"Last of the ice?" Chris mourned as we both watched the cubes melt on the floor.

"The very last," I said.

A hot gust of wind blew in through the patio door and every speck instantly evaporated. He fished car keys from his pocket and rose from the typewriter.

"I'll get a couple bags from the liquor store," he said.

"Wait up," I said. "I'll come with you."

It was January, and the Santa Ana season was upon us so fiercely that I almost wished we were back at Code Red. It may have been a hell hole - thanks to our ex-boss, Irwin (The Towering Toupee ) Allen, but at least it was an air conditioned hell hole. My apartment - and our joint office - wasn't blessed with Mr. Carrier's miraculous invention and we were suffering badly.

The apartment was at 15th and Wilshire in Santa Monica, meaning it was about fifteen blocks from the beach. However, developers being greedy shits, all the buildings from about Lincoln Boulevard east were facing North or south. That way they could crowd more units into long narrow lots and any sea breeze that made its way through the gauntlet of stucco cement was immediately declared a fugitive and banished to the nearest alley.

On the other hand, they did nothing to shield us from the full force of the Santa Ana winds, which blew out of Death Valley to bake our very bones.

What was worse, we were stuck about half way through The Wolf Worlds, the much-overdue second novel in the Sten series. We'd managed to get the first half done while working for The Towering Toupee, but he'd so depressed us that we'd written what we considered junk, and so had to do much of it all over again.

At the liquor store we got the ice, a fresh bottle of Scotch for emergencies, and just as we were about to pay up, Chris said, "Better get some Famous Producer's Eye Shit and Breath Spray."

Our old mentor, Al Godfrey, always carried Visine and breath spray in his glove compartment. "If you get called to a meeting after a boozy lunch," he said, "all you have to do is squeeze some Famous Producer's Eye Shit in your peepers, give your tongue a good spray of Famous Producer's Breath Spray, and no one will be the wiser."

It was a good idea, so I added the items to our stash, paid the man, and headed back to our typewriters and Sten.

"I hate this shit," Chris said. "It isn't that I have Writer's Block, you have to have something in your head to block for that to happen. It's just that my fucking brain is so crispy-crittered that I can barely remember my name."

"Hey, consider yourself lucky," I said. "I forgot mine long ago."

"I just can't think in this heat," Chris said. "Actually, it's not the heat so much - I had no trouble writing in Vietnam - but the damned wind. It bores a hole right through your brain."

As if on cue, a hot gust rocked the BMW as we turned onto my street. We parked, braced ourselves against the wind as we reached the stairs, then ran up them. When I opened the door, it slammed out of my hand and banged against the wall. I got it closed, then headed for the fridge to store the ice and make us another drink.

The phone rang.

"Fuck 'em," Chris said. "I need that drink. Let the answering service get it."

But we'd almost lost a ten grand gig once for failure to answer phones, so I turned the ice and scotch over to Chris and fielded the receiver.

A cool and lovely voice with a British accent spoke into my ear: "Is that you, Allan? Darlene here. Peter would like to have you and Chris join him for a late lunch if you can make it."

She was speaking of Peter Thompson, head of production for MCA/Universal Studios, one of the Guys With The Big Telephones who inhabited the Black Tower, and our self-appointed mentor.

I made frantic motions for Chris to ixnay the drinks, meanwhile saying, "We'd be pleased to Darlene. Where would he like to meet?"

Chris' eyebrows rose. Meet? Shook his head. No fucking way. I nodded vigorously. Fucking way.

Darlene told me and I repeated it aloud, to make certain Chris was up to speed. "Two p.m. The Commissary? No problem. Tell Peter we're looking forward to seeing him again."

When I hung up, Chris said, "Peter, as in Peter who robbed us of a third of our story money on Quincy? The guy who greenmailed us onto the lot to work for fucking Glen Larson on that piece of shit, Galactica 1980?"

"The very same," I said.

"I just wanted to make sure," Chris said. Then, "Shit, it'll be good to see the old thief after all this time. And maybe he's got a little money for us."

So, we made quick use of the Famous Producer's Eye Shit and Breath Spray and headed over the hill to the San Fernando Valley where the actual Hollywood lives. The heat was coming off the freeway in visible waves and hot gusts buffeted the car as we reached the top of the hill. Then it was down, down, down into the blazing hot Valley.

One good thing: the wind had driven the smog away so you could see all the way to Mount Baldy, where just a thin, tantalizing coat of white snow graced the rounded, Charley-Brown-like summit.

Two shakes later we were rolling up to the guard shack at MCA Universal, to be greeted by a strange scene. A dozen or more people were swarming around the shack in some confusion. Everybody was waving their hands and talking excitedly.

Just beyond was an even larger crowd, composed mostly of pretty office girls, their summer dresses whipped by wind, making them lean over to press their dresses to their knees to maintain a modicum of modesty. The array of décolleté this phenomena produced was stunning.

Pulled over to one side was a new Cadillac convertible. It was empty and the driver's door hung open.

"Curiouser and couriouser," Chris murmured as we slowed almost to a stop, then crept up to the shack.

One of the guards recognized us and waved us on - pointing to an empty parking spot near the gate. The favored parking was granted, no doubt, by our winning personalities. Of course, every holiday we used to stop by the guard shacks at all the lots and hand out boozy presents to the hard-working people who kept the peace.

"Where's Scotty?" Chris wondered as he pulled into the parking spot.

The most famous gate guard in Hollywood, Scotty would normally be at his post this time of day. He was a gentleman of the old school, courteous to a fault, efficient, but firm when the occasion called for it.

As we got out we heard someone call, "Bunch and Cole! Over here!"

We turned to see Dolly Brown, our old secretary from Galactica 1980 days. She hugged us, then stepped back to say, "Can you believe what just happened?"

We replied with a chorus of "What happened? Who? Where? What the hell?"

She pointed at the abandoned caddie and said it belonged to a producer, whose name I won't reveal, but who was a well-known asshole about town. (Yeah, you know who you are, pal!)

"I saw the whole thing," she said. "Or, at least the important parts. I was on my way back from lunch when I heard shouting and looked over to see Mr. (Asshole) sitting in his car, screaming at Scotty because he wouldn't let him in.

"Scotty said, just as nice as always, that he couldn't let him enter because he didn't work here anymore and, besides, he didn't have an appointment with anyone on the lot.

"Mr. (Asshole) cursed a blue streak, calling Scotty every kind of name you could think of. Then he got out of his car and I think he was about to hit poor Scotty."

"No, shit," Chris said, bristling.

Scotty was a slender man, in his late 50's and Mr. Asshole Producer was a big son-of-a-bitch in his mid-thirties. He had a reputation for pushing people around.

"Well, just then," Dolly went on, eyes sparkling with excitement, "guess who drove up?"

"We give up," I said. "Who?"

"James Garner, is who," she said, with a nod of great satisfaction. "And he saw what was going on and heard the guy screaming and threatening Scotty. So he got out of his car, went over to Mr. (Asshole), stepped between him and Scotty and so, then, when Mr. (Asshole) started to swing on Mr. Garner, why he... just...

"... just grabbed him by the collar..." She demonstrated, grasping the air. "...And gave him such a sock..." She gave the air a roundhouse blow that would have made Mohammad Ali hesitate. "I mean, a really good sock! And Mr. (Asshole) started to fall, but Mr. Garner held him up, then helped sit down on a chair in the guardshack."

Dolly laughed. "He hit him in the nose, so it was pretty bloody," she said. "Scotty was nice enough to take him over to the infirmary to put some ice on it."

"My hero," I said. "Let's hear it for Jim Garner."

"He's everybody's hero," Dolly said, hand sweeping to take in the crowd of secretaries. "They were all on the way to lunch and saw the whole thing along with me. Everybody cheered."

"What did Garner do?" Chris asked.

Another one of those delightful earthy Dolly laughs. "He flashed us a grin right out of The Rockford Files, gave a little bow, then got into his car and drove away."

"Damn, too bad we missed it," Chris said. We'd had dealings with Mr. (Asshole) and so it would have been a special treat to witness his comeuppance.

Dolly got between us, grabbed both our arms and tugged. "Well, here's something you won't want to miss," she said, pulling us along toward the Jaws Pond, which was between us and the commissary. This was where "Bruce The Shark " of Jaw's fame held forth, recreating the terror of Mr. Spielberg 's movie for countless tourists.

When we reached the pond's edge we stood there and gaped. The whole damn thing was empty - just some smelly puddles and some kind of complicated-looking mechanical contraption and tracks that once bore Bruce.

"What the hell?" Chris said. "Somebody kidnapped Bruce."

"Oh, he's just being refurbished while they clean the pond," Dolly said. "But that's not why I got you here." She pointed to the far end of the pond. "Look."

And there we saw a big, black stretch limo dangling from the end of a crane. Water was pouring from the windows as the crane groaned and cranked the limo from the pit. It looked like some kind of huge black fish, exhausted from a long, losing fight with a fisherman.

"Somebody must have been really drunk," I said.

"Yeah," Chris agreed. "Zigged when he ought to have zagged."

He turned to Dolly. "Okay, who did it? Anybody we know? We want all the dirty details."

"Nobody knows for sure," Dolly said. "But get this... That's the second limo. There were two at the bottom of the pond. They already got the other one out.

"And guess what? The studio has been leasing them both for over a year and didn't even know they'd gone missing."

"Somebody's head's gonna roll," Chris predicted.

"Oh, that's for certain," Dolly said with the kind of relish that office workers reserve for members of the boss class getting trapped in the deep end of the shit channel.

"It's all over the office pool," she went on. "And guess who's first in line? None other than your old buddy, Peter Thompson."

"Aw, Jesus Christ," I said. "We were just on our way to have lunch with him."

Dolly shook her head. "Not today, you're not," she said. "On my way to lunch I ran into Darlene, Peter 's secretary. She said he'd been called into a big meeting with Lew Wasserman and the guys. When you get to the Commissary, I'll bet you have a message waiting calling off lunch."

I heard the roar of an engine and turned to see the crane haul the limo out the last few feet, swing around, and start to set it on the ground.

"All that for a couple of missing limos?" I wondered. "Seems kind of extreme. The Studio's got a whole fleet of them."

"Oh, it's not just the limos," Dolly said. "Everybody figures a couple of ticked off Teamsters drove them into the pond. Morale is horrible all over the lot and they blame Peter for that. He ordered all kinds of cutbacks during the Writer's strike. Everybody from the studio landscapers to the record company engineers ended up on the unemployment line. And he really cut into the drivers. Ordering all sorts of new rules that they just hate."

"You fuck with the bull," Chris observed, "you get the horns."

We said our goodbyes to Dolly, then made our way to the Commissary, where, as predicted, there was a message waiting from Darlene. I called and she made all sorts of effusive apologies and said she'd reschedule when things calmed down.

After I hung up, Chris said, "Screw this shit, let's hit Bob Burns for a drunken lunch."

So that's what we did. Climbed into the BMW and headed back over the hill to our favorite restaurant.

Sten readers know Bob Burns well. In the series, it's a Mantis Section safe house known as much for its thick steaks and strong drinks as its top-level security. Well, it was a real place in Santa Monica at the foot of Wilshire Boulevard, across from Palisades Park which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

I'd first encountered Bob Burns in my newspaper days. It was a favorite watering hole for city officials, RAND Corp. scientists with the occasional star thrown in. One of the owners of Bob Burns - Bonnie - had attended school at the American University in Beirut and since I hailed from that part of the world as well, we became good friends. Whenever I entered Bob Burns she'd call out, "Baksheesh! Baksheesh!" Which was the universal beggar's cry for alms throughout the Middle East.

The lunch rush was over when Chris and I entered and Bonnie and I traded hugs and "Baksheehes," before being led to a large booth at the back of the restaurant. It was a cool, dark place, with pleasant background music and the odors wafting from the kitchen were incredible.

We had a stiff Scotch each, dug into our steak sandwiches, and before long we were back to the subject of Sten. But this time, instead of hitting roadblocks, we were brimming with ideas. And just itching to get back to our typewriters and churn out a blizzard of Wolf World pages.

Then Reason crept in.

"Soon as we get outside," Chris said, "we're gonna get jumped by the fucking Santa Ana winds. And every fucking thought in my teeny little head will dry up, just like that all that ice you dropped this morning."

I sighed agreement. The prospects did not look good. The end of Book Two of the Sten series seemed to stretch out forever.

Then Chris said, "Shit!" He said it the way he used the word when an idea of incredible brilliance struck.

"What, shit?" I demanded. "Who, Where and How, shit?"

"We do it right god-damned here," he said, thumping the table. "I mean, when we're sitting here, with all the air conditioning and pretty waitresses bringing us tall, cold glasses of Scotch and water we can think of Sten ideas like nobody's business."

I nodded. "So? We can't live at Bob Burns. Eventually, we have to go home."

"Maybe we can rent the booth," Chris said.

"Holy shit, is right!" I said.

You can imagine just how much I dreaded the thought of once again braving the oven-like heat of my apartment, because the idea made total sense.

Your Intrepid Writers
I called Bonnie over to the table and pitched it to her. And instead of giving me a look like, these guys are crazy, she said, "Why the hell not. We've even got electrical outlets under the booth for your typewriters."

And so, that's what we did for the next three weeks. Every day we hauled our IBMs down to Bob Burns when it opened, plugged in our typewriters, and pounded out pages, breaking only for lunch.

The waitresses kept the drinks coming and the patrons, once they got used to the idea, treated us like we were just part of the atmosphere. Bob Burns. A place where you could get thick steaks, strong drink, and watch real live writers at work.

So, here's to The Wolf Worlds, gentle readers.

And here's to Bobbie Burns.

And to hell with the Santa Ana winds.



Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India




Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969

In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself. Here's where to buy the book. 



Diaspar Magazine - the best SF magazine in South America - is publishing the first novel in the Sten series in four  episodes. Here are the links: 


Friday, March 16, 2012


Take This Job
... You Know
When we strolled into the office from lunch, Genevieve handed us a sheaf of pink phone message slips.

"Any good news or money?" Chris asked

Genevieve riffled through the phone slips, pulled one out."You might want to call this one first," she advised. "It's from Bob Cinadar."

"Hot damn," Chris said. "When Uncle Bobby calls sometimes we get both."

Bob Cinadar wasn't an uncle to either of us. But we thought of him that way because of all the career-guidance he'd given us. After years working for Jack Webb on shows like Dragnet and Emergency, Bob had become the ultimate fix-it man that all the studios and networks called on when a show was in trouble. Then he'd come in and take over the program for just long enough to straighten it out and be on his way to the next trouble spot.

We'd written a Quincy for him - Riot - which had not only topped the ratings for the series' fifth season, but remains a cult favorite to this day. (Quincy has to do his coroner's investigative magic under the blood-shot gaze of rioting prison inmates drunk on rasinjack.) We'd also written what proved to be the last episode of The Rockford Files, The Solid Gold Spike. In the case of Quincy, Cinadar managed to make peace between Jack Klugman, the star, and Universal Studios. In the case of The Rockford Files, James Garner had been screwed over by the Black Tower Pencil Brigade too badly for Bob to fix anything. In either case, our scripts were aimed at helping to solve the problems and went a long way in establishing our own reps as fix-it guys.

Chris headed to his desk, dialed the phone and when Bob's secretary answered he flipped the desk speaker on so we could both hear. Out contract was nearly up at Code Red and it was our hope that once we'd escaped The Towering Toupee's clutches that the angels of freelancing would immediately smile on us. And in the past Bob Cinadar had proved to be an angel, indeed, albeit with a craggy face.

Cinadar's gruff voice came on the line. "Hey, boys, how's life treating you over at Code Red?"

"Like shit," Chris said. "We want out of here in the worst way."

Hope bloomed for both of us. Chris flashed me a thumbs up.

"You coming in to take over the show?" I asked. "If so, we've got to warn you that the Towering Toupee has things so fucked up that neither of us think the show can be salvaged."

Another Cinadar chuckle. "Towering Toupee, huh? You guys are priceless. But, no, I'm not heading over your way. I was asked to help a show of Irwin's a few years ago, but all I got was a case of the hives. He's a piece of work. Thinks the world revolves around his asshole. I chewed him out when I left, but he's such a wizened little jerk-off that he still thinks I love him."

I said, "You've got Irwin pegged, that's for sure." Then, fingers crossed, I asked, "Got anything for us, Uncle Bobby? Our contracts are up in a few weeks."

Chris chanted, "All we want for Christmas is a Burning Toupee." We were entering the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas were just ahead of us.

Bob chuckled. "Irwin really got to you, huh?"

"You don't know the half of it," I said.

"Actually, I do," Cinadar said. "Or, a bit of it anyway. You see, Irwin phoned me at home last night."

Chris' eyebrows shot up. "What the fuck, over?"

Bob said, "Yeah, that's why I'm calling. To give you boys a heads up."

"I repeat my last," Chris said. "What the fuck, over?"

"He cried on my shoulder for half an hour about all his problems at Code Red," Bob said. "How the network fucked him over on the timeslot and the budget and then forced him to take that little hairball Adam Rich off their hands. It seems that when Eight Is Enough was still on, Adam's agent got a guaranteed TV series deal. A bullet-proof pay or play deal."

Suddenly, everything clicked into place. So the fact that Adam (The Beach Ball) Rich had been foisted on us by the Anything But Class (ABC) network had little or nothing to do with the ratings game. Pay or play, meant that either ABC had to put young Mr. Rich into a series - with a fat salary package - or pay him whether he worked or not. But, in one deft move they'd shifted the financial burden over to Columbia Studios, the suckers - I mean backers - of Code Red. And they probably didn't much care whether the series worked or not. Which is why they'd put us up against 60 Minutes - the monster CBS hit at 7 p.m. Sunday night. They were just going to burn it off, deal and all.

"And Irwin's known this all along," I supposed.

"Of course, he has," Cinadar said. "After all these years in the Biz, Irwin knows to buy his KY Jelly by the caseload. But what he's really hoping is that if he can bump the ratings up two or three points he can maybe muscle the network to go for a second season. Or, if they cancel him, he'll be able to take the series over to another network and make the Magic One Hundred."

The Magic One Hundred was the number of episodes needed to sell a show into syndication. Basically, networks only paid a portion of a show's budget. In our case, a measly $600,000 an episode. Even though we'd all cut costs to bare bones, it was still running us upwards of $700,000. Well, not us, personally - but Columbia Studios, with a little from Irwin's vaults, which were rumored to be even deeper and more heavily guarded than Jack Benny's.

It was a high stakes Craps game, called Deficit Financing. Because for that $600,000 the network got two runs - the first showing, plus a rerun in the summertime, or whenever. After that, the negatives belonged to Columbia Studios and Irwin.

To show you what a syndication deal can deliver, in later years (1988 or so) when the A-Team was sold into syndication, we were told that Frank Lupo and Steve Cannell - creators of the program - cut up $120 million. That's $60 million each. And that was just their share. Using my handy-dandy inflation calculator, $120 million dollars in 1988, equals $223,641,559.70 today. Get my drift?

"Irwin's frantic about it," Cinadar went on. "Says he can't sleep at night."

"Probably suffering from uncontrollable regurgitation as well," I said.

"Well, boo-fucking-hoo for fucking Irwin," Chris said. Then: "What's he want you to do about it?"

"Well, before he had a chance to ask," Cinadar said, "I told him that I wasn't available. So, instead, he asked what he should do to rescue the show."

"And you said..." We both asked at the same time.

"I told him his only hope was to hire the best fix-it team of writers I know - Bunch and Cole." Uncle Bobby said.

"And Irwin said, 'But, I already have Bunch and Cole.'

"And I said, 'Then, Irwin, you'd better call in the dogs and piss on the fire, because it is fucking over, my friend.'"

After falling all over the floor and laughing our heads off, we thanked Uncle Bobby and said goodbye. (We didn't know it'd be the last time we would talk to him. Almost exactly a year later he died of cancer. He was a helluva guy and I miss him still.)

Just after Thanksgiving, we were stealing time away from Code Red again, toiling over The Wolf Worlds - the second Sten novel - when Genevieve buzzed us.

I answered to hear her say, "You've got a call from Irwin."

I said to put him on, please and in a second I heard Irwin's secretary saying, "Hold for Irwin Allen."

It was Irwin's style to get his secretary to call you, then make you wait until he deigned to come on the line. So, I held. Meantime, I cupped a hand over the receiver and whispered to Chris, "It's the Towering Toupee."

In his patented stage whisper which could be heard from here, to Lower Subservia - and maybe even as far as Upper Hoostania - Chris said, "Tell him to go fuck himself."

Then, knowing there was plenty of time, he got out the Scotch and made us a couple of drinks. I swallowed half of mine right off the bat, knowing I was going to need it.

Then I heard Irwin's voice. Filled with phony cheer. "Allan, my boy, as you are no doubt aware your contract is up Friday."

Damn right, we were aware. We'd already hauled most of our stuff home, including some office supplies that we'd ripped off. (I still have a few boxes of paper clips left over from those days.)

I said, "Time sure can get away from you, can't it Irwin?"

A false chuckle. Then, "Well, it's quite close to Christmas. And it has always been my policy in these situations to extend my people's contracts a week or two. So, they won't be out of work during the holiday season. And in that spirit, I'm going to extend yours."

Irwin waited. Obviously expecting effusive thanks. I looked over at Chris, mouthed the word "contracts" and spread one hand away from the phone, indicating that Irwin wanted to extend same.

Chris shook his head. Mouthed the words, "Fuck him," and in my ear I heard Irwin say, "Allan? Are you there?"

"I'm here, Irwin," I said. "And we both thank you for your generous offer. But it won't be necessary. We'd just as soon go home."

I heard Irwin make with a shocked, "Oh!" as it sunk in that we'd just told him to take his job and shove it.

Then he recovered enough to say, "Good luck to you, boys."

He waited a beat, but I didn't wish him the same.

And then he broke the connection.

I hung up and turned to Chris. "Well, to quote the eminent philosopher, Robert Cinadar," I said, "Let's call in the dogs and piss on the fire, because we are fucking out of here, partner, mine."

Chris raised his glass in toast - "Merry Christmas, partner."

And I toasted back, singing, "Toupees roasting on an open fire..."

We drained our drinks and I must say, it was the best Scotch I have ever tasted.



The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!


Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    


Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?