• The Case of the Missing Drag Queen

    Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie’s support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship. On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance. Luke reluctantly agrees to help his new-found friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.

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  • Aucune Bonne Action

    La veille de Noël, en 1966, Philip Potter, un conservateur du Smithsonian au grand cœur, termine ses achats de dernière minute. Au même instant, James, son compagnon depuis plusieurs années, s’ôte la vie chez eux. Inconscient de ce qui l’attend, Philip dépose des cadeaux à un refuge pour sans-abris, un acte généreux qui fera plus tard de lui un suspect dans le meurtre d’un prostitué. Après la mort choquante de James, deux hommes entrent dans la vie de Philip… et tous deux conduisent une Continental jaune. L’un d’eux, toutefois, est un tueur avec le sang de six prostitués sur les mains. Et tous deux cachent quelque chose. Comme Philip est sur le point de le découvrir, aucune bonne action ne …

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  • Equality: What Do You Think about When You Think of Equality?

    In the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Stride Toward Freedom and Malala Yousafzai’s, I Am Malala, Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? presents thought-provoking and compelling personal essays that probe a concept professed to be the very foundation of our democracy—a concept that may even be more vital today than in the past. From international bestselling author, Anne Perry who asserts we must look within ourselves to our emotions, experiences, and beliefs before we attempt an honest and truthful answer, to Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author, who claims diagnostic labels used in treating mental illness often stigmatize and dehumanize the patient causing clinicians to view their patients in terms of their diagnosis rather than …

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  • No Good Deed

    On Christmas Eve in 1966, Philip Potter, a kind-hearted Smithsonian curator,  wraps up his last-minute shopping. Meanwhile, his lover of several years takes his own life back in their home. Unaware of what awaits him, Philip drops off gifts at a homeless shelter, an act of generosity that will later make him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute. Following James’s shocking death, two men enter Philip’s life—and both drive yellow Continentals. One of them, though, is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. And both are hiding something. As Philip is about to discover, no good deed goes unpunished. (Originally released by MLR Press in 2013 as After Christmas Eve)

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  • Whippersnapper

    Tellumo Magnamater is a fresh-out-of-college, first-year English teacher at Salt Lick County High School in Kentucky. He rides the bus to and from work, and every day he walks to the gym behind his small efficiency apartment to exercise. Perhaps because of being raised by two lesbians, Tellumo is attracted to older men. He sets his sights on fifty-something available bachelor Oliver Crumbly. But Tellumo isn’t the only resident interested in Oliver. Peggy Tucker, a widow approaching her sixtieth birthday, is determined to marry again, and she thinks Oliver is her perfect match. Despite Tellumo and Peggy striking up a friendship at the gym, neither realizes they are interested in the same man. But the joke might be on both of …

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  • Happy Independence Day

    Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. Little does he know the world is already changing, and his part in it won’t be what he expects. A prelaw student at Columbia University, Terrence’s interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie, the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn. Too bad Cameron bolts whenever Terrence looks his way. College dropout Cameron McKenzie left tiny Paris, Kentucky with dreams of a career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he prostitutes himself to survive. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes. He’s in over his head with no way out—at …

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  • The Bear King of Snowbird Mountain

    Recently single Jeremy Jenkins is an average guy working hard as a landscape designer in the mountains of Tennessee. At a conference in DC, he meets gorgeous Donald Matthews, who says the strangest things—like how he thinks Jeremy is hot and wants them to spend the rest of their lives together. This story is part of A Taste of Honey, a Dreamspinner Press Anthology. Other stories in the collection: The Bear Fetish, by John Amory The Bear Next Door, by Jack Byrne The Bear at the Bar, by J. Scott Coatsworth Barefoot, by Lillian Francis Just Breath, by John Genest Bear Chasing, by Renae Kaye Golden Bear, by G. P. Keith Hunting Bear: A Fairy Tale with a Very Hairy …

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  • Until Thanksgiving

    Josh Freeman knows his best days are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in takeout boxes, half-smoked joints, and self-pity until his best friend gently kicks him in the ass and encourages him to try out a new job in Washington DC—at least until Thanksgiving. Though DC has its share of troubles, specifically in the form of a murderer targeting gay men, Josh soon discovers its charms as well. Unlike his old home, DC is crawling with men who want to date him—apparently he’s not as overweight, out of shape, or over the hill as the man he once loved made him believe. In particular, Josh would love …

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The Crotchety Old Man

Sep 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Faking a Connection

Faking a Connection

Even with 45 students in one class, teaching twice a week has always been more or less all-consuming. This semester, I have four times as many students in two different courses. Time flies when you teach four days a week. I’m teaching from home via Zoom. A grad student sets it up so students see me on a big screen and I can see the classroom. Few if any students attend face-to-face classes. Most opt to attend via Zoom. I assume the rest watch the recordings. My goal is always to make every student feel like I know them. It’s an illusion created with individualized feedback on every assignment. Grading takes FOREVER with nearly 200 students, but I can’t do …

Sep 05, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Class without Exams

Two weeks into a most unusual fall semester, my classes are going surprisingly well. Bending over backwards to connect with students I’ll probably never see in person — all 180 of them — is paying off. They love me. Doing away with tests may be a factor. Students are great at memorizing things well enough to pass the test, but whether they actually learn anything is an open question. I’ve never liked tests and for my last semester before retirement, wanted to try something different. Assignments in my class are very applied. Most require students to further explore the concepts discussed in class through structured activities. This semester, I decided to increase the number of assignments from five to ten, …

Aug 27, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Sprinting for the Finish Line

It’s official. After more than thirty years in academia, I’m retiring at the end of the year. The paperwork was signed, sealed, and delivered earlier this month. Now I’m sprinting for the finish line. The original plan was to keep working for at least three more years. I agreed a while back to teach two classes a semester for two years starting this fall. For Fall 2022, I’d cut back to one class and decide if I wanted to keep teaching or retire. I told my boss as long as I was having fun, I’d stay. Lord knows I try, but planning never works for me. Time and time again, something blows any plans I’ve ever made out of the …

Aug 15, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Zingy Zinnias

My father grew lots of zinnias every year. Vases of the colorful blossoms filled the house all summer. Anyone he visited (or who visited him) received one of his arrangements, often in a coffee can covered with aluminum foil. Cut-and-Come-Again is a common nickname for zinnias. The plants sole purpose in life is to make seed. Cutting the flowers before they go to seed (also known as deadheading) makes the plant produce more flowers — typically two for every one you cut. My vase (above) is overly crowded after deadheading my garden. Because they’re plentiful in garden centers, the shrubby, heavy-blooming Profusion variety are typically the only zinnias in my garden. These (above) are orange. They also come in pink …

Aug 04, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Ten Pounds in Five Months

August 7th marks five months of staying at home. Beyond trips to the grocery, doctor appointments, and Zoom meetings, every day looks pretty much the same. Toodles has never been happier. The biggest change has been a dramatic decline in my activity level. I can’t go to the gym and haven’t been motivated to use my exercise app or the dumbbells I bought last year. On some level, it’s like, what’s the point? Nobody sees me anymore. 😉 On the other hand, I’m not ready to throw in the towel. Running has been my go-to activity for several years — a fact I never would have predicted even fifteen years ago. I hesitate to say I enjoy running, but I’m …

Aug 01, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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School Daze

When the fall semester begins in three weeks, I’m teaching two different classes. We’re planning for face-to-face instruction, but preparing to go online if necessary. Figuring out how to make things work either way has me dazed and confused. I’ve come a long way since March when UGA suspended classes for two weeks to enable faculty to switch to online teaching. I tweaked the syllabus and had class as scheduled via Zoom. Students didn’t enjoy 75-minute Zoom lectures any more than I did. A team of UGA experts put together a training for faculty about teaching online. I recently completed the course (mostly) and was impressed. The training was well done, very useful, and a great example of what teaching …

Jul 25, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Growing Conditions

Success in the garden involves numerous factors. Some you can control, some you can’t. Rain, wind, and sun exposure are beyond your control. Choosing the right plant for the growing conditions is the difference between failure and success. “Growing conditions” covers a lot of ground. Every plant has different needs related to light, moisture, temperature, and soil. The better the match between conditions and plant needs, the happier the plant will be. Some varieties are very exacting, but most will tolerate some variance. Knowing your USDA Hardiness Zone is the first step, especially for permanent plantings. Tea olives and camellias thrive here in my Georgia (Zone 7b) garden but can’t survive Kentucky (Zone 6) winters. Bluegrass, lilacs, and carnations won’t …

Jul 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Watering the Garden

It’s hot! Highs consistently into the 90s and triple-digit heat indexes are the new normal. The abundant rain we had earlier this summer has ceased. Watering has become an almost daily task. I’ve tried just about every type of watering device ever invented. By and large, the results have been disappointing. They’re flimsy, hard-to-control, wasteful, and/or otherwise less than satisfactory. A slow, steady rain over several hours is ideal. Short-lived summer showers mostly evaporate or run off. Longer showers enable the water to soak deeper into the root zone. The rule of thumb is an inch of water every week, depending on factors such as humidity, type of plant, and soil type — to name a few. Hand-watering with a …

Jul 14, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Cooking for One

Single people have long-lamented the challenges of cooking for one. Family-size packaging is the norm. I ain’t gonna lie. A preference for anything but leftovers has meant a lot of perfectly good food ends up in the trash. Not anymore. Shortages, guilt, and a desire to minimize trips to the grocery have changed my wasteful ways. Watching chefs on Chopped deal with mystery baskets helped. As with the TV show, transforming the ingredients is the key to success. Thought my recipe ideas might inspire you as well. Chicken thighs work better than breasts or tenders for leftovers. I season with salt and pepper and bake (375 for 20-25 minute) the whole package (usually six pieces). I eat two with sides …

Jul 09, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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This Week in the Garden

Last week was plenty hot with high temperatures into the 90s. As summers go here in the Deep South, this one, so far, has otherwise been relatively mild. I’ve had to water a bit in between nice, soaking rains. Maybe ten percent of the zinnias have bloomed. So far, flowers have mostly been various shades of pink. That should change in the weeks ahead. I planted mixed colors of five different varieties in the same area. I’m harvesting Midnight Snack cherry tomatoes. As you can see, they’re rather eye-catching. The flavor is decent — almost as good as a “real” tomato. In other tomato news, my Cherokee Purple tomato is, in fact, a Beefsteak. I’ll pay more attention next year. …

Jul 05, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Pandemic Shopping

Some consider shopping to be a fun and enjoyable activity. I’m not one of those people. In the best of circumstances, shopping pushes my crotchety button. Grocery shopping is the worst. Before COVID-19, I ordered everything but perishables online, mostly from Walmart. Convenience, selection, low prices and free shipping keep me coming back. Aside from shipping delays, I didn’t anticipate any problems. Wrong. Almost everything I usually order has been out of stock. Substitutes have been in short supply too. Damn. I checked out pickup and local delivery options. The next available appointments/delivery dates were weeks away. Availability is better now, but I’ll pass. Sooner or later, another person choosing my produce would surely piss me off. Masked and armed …

Jun 28, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Retirement Practice

A colleague has long been my retirement role model. Rather than quitting cold turkey, she transitioned out over three years. She dropped from full-time to 75% the first year, to half-time the next, and to 25% the year before she retired. She said easing in was good practice for life after work. Being home for nearly four months has been good practice too. I’m still full-time, but my work habits have changed. With no set schedule beyond Zoom meetings and doctor appointments, boundaries between work and personal time have blurred. Weekends and weekdays look pretty much the same. I’m up by 5 every morning and out like a light a good hour or two before midnight. Work happens in several …

Jun 24, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Mystery Tomato Identified

The wild and crazy Cherokee Purple tomato plant featured a couple of posts ago continues to grow much faster than my other tomatoes. The vines are twice as tall and extend beyond the top of the cage. The other three tomato plants don’t even come close. The giant plant is covered with clusters of fruit. Each little tomato is purple on top with a green bottom. Looks like I’m in for a bumper crop. I don’t recall ever seeing so many fruit on one plant. A visitor who works with local farmers thought the robust plant was a chocolate grape tomato. The name refers to the size and color of ripe fruit — not the flavor. I despise cherry tomatoes, …

Jun 22, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Social Anxiety

After more than fifteen weeks at home, leaving my little sanctuary makes me nervous. COVID-19 continues to spread like wild fire. Mixing with others hardly seems worth the risk. Trips to the garden center are my only nonessential outings. I wear a mask, stick to outside areas, and go early enough to avoid long checkout lines. Growing things makes me happy. A haircut isn’t worth the risk. My plan to let my beard and hair grow for a potential appearance on Queer Eye didn’t work. Trimming my beard is easy enough, but the thought of cutting my hair scared me. Previous attempts always required an emergency visit to the barbershop. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I finally used my …

Jun 19, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Today is the last full day of spring. Thanks to mild weather and abundant rain, new arrivals to the garden are well-established and off to a good start. So far, so good. Eye-catching color combos fill the back border this year. Whether “eye-catching” is a good or bad thing depends on your point of view. Grouping varieties together for larger color blocks seems to make vibrant clashes work. Above, magenta Wave petunias, electric-orange sun-patiens, and several varieties of coleus are grouped together. The broad-leaved seedlings in the picture above are zinnias. I planted seed for those between the sun-patiens and coleus. The rest are volunteers from last year’s zinnias. Controlling color is next to impossible with annuals. The bottom-most New …