Thursday, May 28, 2009


He was buried in the backyard.

And, after some careful research, I found it wasn't really Jesus.

Anyhow, I was chopping out a section of the yard near the deck for a garden. As I was dragging up some sod, I came across what seemed a little plastic statuette.

I dusted some soil off the figure. He had a loaf of bread in one arm and a jug of wine in the other. He looked an awful lot like Jesus.

I felt kind of like the protagonist in one of Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories, where these Hindus moved into a house and came across a bunch of Christian artifacts and kept them in a shrine type place.

So, I brought Jesus inside. Scrubbed him clean in the sink. And placed him with some Confucius and Buddha figurines, so the three could commiserate.

Later, my Mother told me over the phone that I should put Jesus back.

"If you found him buried, he was probably there for a reason."

I just scoffed and said Jesus was better off in the house with Confucius and Buddha than in the ground somewhere.

The next day, I was outside, grading the garden with a rake, when I snagged something. I tugged a little bit. It was a black plastic garbage bag.

And then I noticed the scent. It wasn't bad. Wasn't like decaying body. It was the must and soil scent bones make after there's nothing left. It's familiar - A scent I know from my time working as a grave digger at the New Bedford Jewish Cemetery.

I knew there was something skeletal in the bag. I had to open it and make sure there wasn't a dead kid in there or something. You never know. You know?

So I opened the bag, and discovered what I was expecting -  some small, thin, rust-colored bones (bones don't look bleach white after spending time in the earth). I thought my worst fears had been realized.

Then, I found the jaw bone. It was about three inches long and had sharp teeth. Maybe a cat's jaw. Or a dog's. But definitely not a human's.

Satisfied, I threw the jaw back into the bag. Went inside and found the statuette.

"It's Joseph." A friend said. "People bury him in their backyards when they want to sell their houses."

I placed Joseph back with the cat or dog or whatever it was, and covered him over with soil and stones.

And though I was tempted to plant a tomato on top of the grave (probably good, fertile soil), I did not.

Great TV - HBO's "In Treatment"

There isn't much to HBO's critically acclaimed series In Treatment. A room. A few comfortable chairs. A therapist. A patient.

And the dialogue between the two.

That's it.

And that's all In Treatment needs, because it works.

In Treatment tells the ongoing story of a psychotherapist named Paul (played by Gabriel Byrne). In four of the five weekly installments, we watch Paul interact with his patients. In this latest second season, those patients included a former lover of Paul's who desperately wants a child, a college student stricken with cancer, a couple and their confused child going through divorce, and an embattled Wall Street CEO attempting to salvage his career.

In the fifth weekly installment, we follow Paul as he visits his therapist (Dianne Wiest).

7 weeks. 35 shows.

Simple, right?


This show masters the art of letting the viewer learn just enough information about all the parties involved to keep him hooked. The cat is never entirely let out of the bag. Bits of insight are painfully gleaned over the course of therapy sessions.

In a way, In Treatment is almost therapeutic for the viewer.

And that is powerful TV.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Esquire Fiction Contest

I'm working on a piece for Esquire Magazine's fiction contest.

Length is cut off at 4,000 words. So, no more than 20 double-spaced pages. Must be submitted by August 1st.

The payoff is pretty nice. But Esquire is a nationally published magazine, and I imagine they'll receive many submissions. Victory won't be easy.

But you know what they say. Fortune favors the brave.

Any potential readers out there? I'll try to get a rough copy done by the end of the week. I'd need comments a week and a half or so after the initial draft is complete.