Open Mic and the Inner Ham (Me)


I love open mic because I tell myself I do…over and over and over again.

Thank god for the company of great friends

Mel E. Cober ruminates on silica and decay. You know where this goes.
Mel E. Cober ruminates on silica and decay. You know where this goes.

and fellow artists like Heather Whaley, Kevin Craig, Mel E. Cober, and Vinita Kinra for doing the same. Their performances at The Bear (A Firkin fine pub) not only inspired timid hearts to take the stand, but set them alight.

We will be back!

Dale Long mucks around in the dark recesses of his mind for a novel (His words!)
Dale Long “mucks around in the dark recesses of his mind for a novel” (His words!)

Like my fine friend and fellow author, Marissa Campbell, performing in front of a live audience often provokes in me acute symptoms of hammer heart, wherein the body’s most vital organ either moves north into the mouth and stays there until the reading is done, or stands pat and pounds against the rib cage until the vic’s chest size gives way to something bigger.

Gwen Tuinman takes poetic license and moves the room.
Gwen Tuinman takes poetic license and moves the room.

But yours truly, determined to break the cycle of fear, shall press on. Surrounded by the likes of Charlene Jones, Connie DiPietro-Sparacino, and Mimi Jones-Taylor do I really have a choice? And truth be told, at the core of things, I am a ham.

With support

Marissa Campbell takes up shield and Viking helmet with stirring read from her debut novel Avelynn.
Marissa Campbell takes up shield and Viking helmet with stirring read from her debut novel Avelynn.

from The Writer`s Community of Durham Region and good people like Sally Moore and Cryssa Bazos, my performing chops can only grow. Thanks, guys.

Release the Cracken!

**Stay tuned for more open mic news and pics featuring Sherry Loeffler, Maaja Wentz and

Steven Brown explores the poetic darkness.
Steven Brown explores the poetic darkness.

Myrna Marcelline. Bests.**

Kevin Craig reads Half Dead & Fully Broken, his latest release.
Kevin Craig reads Half Dead & Fully Broken, his latest release.
Connie DiPietro-Sparacino puts a whole new spin on occulus.
Connie DiPietro-Sparacino puts a whole new spin on occulus.


Five years ago, something wonderful happened, and I don’t mean something out of Stanley Kubrick. Dave Bowman didn’t invite me on a date and the space craft Discovery didn’t get jacked by the HAL 9000. My odyssey had nothing to do with outer space.  A great reckoning, it came in the form of a memento mori—a reminder of death—that turned out to be more inspiring than terrifying.

How could I know in that moment, a moment when I lost contact, that I would regain something bigger than myself? Allow me to digress. Like many young people, thirty years ago, I longed to express myself. Gloria Steinem, Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and others had spent the better part of their waking hours daring us to make a difference, and we were ready to take up the challenge. Trouble was, I had nothing to say. My first foray into literary excellence *laugh loudly* was a piece called Technological Advances in Bathroom Fawcetry. A great title, it had nothing whatever to do with metal things that shoot water. It was, instead, a study in big words with a few Latin terms thrown in for style and texture, along with a million appositives just to show that I knew how to use them properly. Nothing of Technological Advances survives; I have vague recollections of burning it when I realized how pompous it actually sounded. Like ice skating, writing appeared to be something beyond my purview, and I put it away along with the blades.

And then the muse appeared, and everything changed. Like monsterpause—a condition to be endured and not recommended—the muse spoke to me from a place beyond my understanding. Couched in grief, and accompanied by a bewildering feeling that I, too, was getting closer to the finish line, the muse spoke to me in verse and I begin to transcribe.

Wonky, no? I was ashamed to admit it, but it took the death of another to start a fire.  As pages filled with random thoughts, dialogue and scenes—some true, some not—I realized that I’d found what my writing teachers* call—a voice.

Loving it, learning it, making it come alive, it gave me an energy I didn’t know I had.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from my editor. The first round of edits for Heuer Lost and Found, the first of four novels with three more to go—had arrived. I had to lie down.

Getting to “yes”—that spectacular three letter word that meant I was getting published—was a joy. Getting to “next”—the edits, locked away in my hard drive, waiting—will be even better. The finish line is moving farther away from me; in its place, a new life, and a new beginning.

Something wonderful.

A.B. Funkhauser


* Thank you Ruth E. Walker and Gwynn Sheltema.

Hello, Old Friend

How many short stories do you have tucked away in the hard drive? At last count, I had seventeen. Somewhere between novel writing and this new thing I’m trying called “blogging,” these little gems got lost. Time again to trot them out. Presenting: ISCARIOT. Written in the fall of 2012, it began more as an assignment in a creative writing class. Tasked with making a reader “taste the page,” I had no recourse but to wax poetic about fresh produce.


Rowan Ican’s preoccupation with writhing bowls of fruit had become irksome. For one thing, he had taken to talking about it, slowly at first, then compulsively, texting with a zesty enthusiasm more commonly found in illicit love making. In the beginning it was cute. He would go on at length about his unusual observations convinced that he was on to something new and interesting. His friends accepted this. Everyone was texting, after all, and at all hours too. But Rowan was especially taken with the CrackBerry and the cheap and immediate mode of communication it afforded.

“I was mute,” he wrote, “and now I have voice and am given to speak.”

Christ, he spoke. And wrote. And spoke. For example, if the pomegranates in the fruit section were especially communicative, then he’d text his compadres and tell them so in minute detail. What they looked like, what they said and how they made him feel went out in real time, across space and into the buzzy devices on his friends’ belts. Next came the website and then the e-chat where he indulged his penchant for plums and figs and dates. If it was purple, he was on it, speaking unselfconsciously, red-faced with childish joy.

His friends, grey with middle-age and weighty-responsibilities, grew concerned. Rowan’s unusual predilections were well-known to them, even funny, and were hugely entertaining as long as they remained under wraps. But he was overt now, naming names, and posting photographs, claiming kinship on line with oddities that hid behind avatars with contrived names like “Jack Bunny” and “Rocketman”.

“If he keeps on this way, he will expose us to ridicule and cause us harm,” Gordon Ogden Davis – Rowan’s oldest friend – warned from his corner office on the seventy second floor. He wore a suit, drove a Porsche and, as a pillar of society, knew nothing of fruits purple or otherwise. It was G.O.D. who summoned them and together they hatched a plot on-line. They were business associates, college mates and lovers – the wellspring of Rowan’s literary genius.

“There are rules, and he is breaking them,” G.O.D. continued in Times New Roman. “I will not be his muse.”

Gisela Schonfeld threw back her mass of corkscrewed clavicle-length hair with a deliberate heave; her luxurious breasts, locked in a losing battle with gravity, followed, nearly knocking her off her ergonomic medicine ball. Her physicality had been the subject of Rowan’s most recent blog. A thinly disguised roman à clef, it was as unwelcomed by her as it was celebrated by his enchanted followers.

“I prefer private messaging over face to face,” she typed back in Old Century Schoolbook. Her hands were cold. “It is the way now, isn’t it?”

“Only if you are a coward, which you aren’t,” replied G.O.D. “And he trusts you. He will not see it coming.”

Rowan’s house was a stately pile of ancient stones inherited from his father’s side and was as intimidating to Gisela this day as it had been decades before. Entering the hall she expected kiwi-coloured walls and raspberry tapestries in keeping with her old friend’s new life in e-colour. She found quite the opposite. Muted tones of slate and umber flowed over chocolate walls dramatically framing a man at home in his chilly foyer. Rowan greeted her with arms outstretched.

“I was expecting someone sooner or later. I’m glad it’s you.” He smiled at her and she at once remembered summer, and vinyl LPs and whispers in the backseat of his GTO.

“Damn you,” she melted. Gisela longed for peace, privacy and safety in the surety of what ought to be. “If you knew it was coming, then you knew it was wrong.”

 He shrugged.We don’t smoke anymore. We don’t go out without a helmet. We don’t make a move without asking for permission. Comme ça?”

“Don’t be dramatic Rowan,” she said pushing a misbehaving ginger curl behind a peach-toned ear. “There are other ways to leave the house.”

Ipso facto, my clever girl.” The years separating them fell away and she longed to take him up again. “Now come closer. My wheels are locked.”

Rowan Ican’s chair was chrome and rubber and leather and she had a mind to re-imagine it with a Bimmer logo; a vehicle “For One™”. Funny, how it took nothing to cross the floor and everything to pick up a phone when he needed her most.

“You’re not locked, my love,” she said at last, her peach lobes dancing softly with every undulation of her cherry lips. “All it takes is a flip of a switch and you can move in any direction.” Gisela motioned to the toggle control at his right hand.

“Yes,” he said raising his hands to eye level. “And a mere flourish on a keyboard to bring you back.” Gisela knelt before him. “No. No,” he whispered softly stroking her lined face. “You have to do it. I betrayed you. All of you. Your stories weren’t mine to share.”

“And your accident was ours to ignore. Forgive us?”

Rowan nodded. The computer, buzzing compulsively in the far corner appeared to vie for their attention. But plums and figs had lost their lustre. In the whorls of Gisela’s glowing locks, he was warmed. She was real. Three dimensional. In the round.

“Pull the plug on that damn thing, will you?”

Rocking Transcendence

Not wanting to let that Happy New Year feeling go, I decided to jump in boots first and catch up on some films I’d missed in recent months. Fourteen hours later, I am bleary but grateful. Virtual humanity, immortality, computer psychosis and fibre optic love dominated story lines. In every case, good things went wrong fast, and humanity, with all its foibles, was left to clean up the mess. Trying to parse out the meaning of all of this, and aided in no small part by Kobe, The Occasional Cat, I grabbed for a very excellent bottle of J. Lohr cab sav. The message was clear: Artificial Intelligence fails every time and hoomans aren’t meant to live forever. The cat agreed—no one does his work for him and he has only one life, not nine. Still, I couldn’t synth the message. Transcendence is so darned compelling. Like New Year, it promises BIG THINGS that we can’t yet see, certainly don’t feel, but hope like hell is on the way anyway. So what if I don’t live forever? I have FB, Twitter, a website, and plenty of fine people I’ve never met, connecting to me in ways I could have never imagined as a pimply teenager three decades ago. I might not be gaining intelligence (lol), but I’m reaching beyond my own backyard. While the films I watched suggest that pushing away from the screen is the better way, I cannot help but embrace it all the more. We are writing, using dictionaries, consulting thesaurus, and communicating person to person as never before. If this isn’t life beyond the pall, I don’t know what is. Bests.

Now and Forward

Now and Forward

Hello, and welcome to the rest of my life. In recent weeks, I have been asked to summarize my life, dreams and ambitions, and place these on web pages, blogs and tweets for the world to see. The prospect of doing such a thing was daunting…at first. For as much as I wanted to please those who require such things of me, I could not fathom discussing ‘real life’ things in a public forum. I’m a fiction writer, and as such have tripped many times on the idea that I’m incapable of telling the truth. Hopefully, in the paradox, there lies a perfect circle, beginning and ending with a premise fully realized and proved somewhere in the middle. Does that make sense? I hope not. If everything did, why read or write at all. With only a few hours left in 2014, it becomes important to throw something up on the website I’m currently building. Like the novel Heuer Lost and Found it will take many edits and improvements before my ugly little site attains its ideal. That’s okay. For me, the getting there is better than the “yes” that started it all. More on that later.  For now, dear friends, both old and new, let’s raise a glass to whatever comes next. The journey is everything.

Happy New Year. ABF