Monday, April 02, 2018

Roseanne is a performer. Stop taking her so personally.

Allow me to broach the topic of something that I’m pretty sure most of my friends and generally liberal leaning people will probably hate and unfollow and unfriend me immediately because it’s 2018 and we are all very, very sensitive. (Just be aware of these three things: I am creative, I am basically a free thinking moderate/liberal, and like many of you, I also can’t stand the thought of Trump as our President.)


I am not planning to watch her new revival series. It is not for political reasons. I never did watch her show when it was on in the past. My family never watched when I was growing up, I never bothered to watch and after all these years I can honestly say that I have never even seen one episode. I’m not especially crazy about her comedy, her voice…just her in general. But it’s not political. It never was.

Yeah, I know: she likes Trump. And as much as I also can’t stand Trump (see my above disclaimer), it so happens that I do in fact have a few random friends and family who do. Should I stop talking to them? Have we gotten to that point where someone supporting someone you don’t like is reason enough to not talk to them? Aren’t there other things to talk about? But I am hating something on her behalf, because frankly it wounds me as a writer, performer, and comedic minded person, namely, the inability to separate performance from performer.

Yes, real life Roseanne supports Trump. She’s allowed to. If that is your only reason for hating her, well, that’s your right. Yes, she has done some crass routines in the past (the “Baked Jew” cookies thing has popped up). And I’m not defending her lousy rendition of the National Anthem (though why Trump singles out black football players for kneeling yet says nothing about this speaks volumes. I even tweeted about this recently and got more “likes” than I have ever gotten, so color me hater). But holy fuck, you pick any comic who has been doing his or her thing for as long as she has and you are going to find something off color or crude or questionable. It’s called having a career. I have done songs and stories in the past that were questionable that I probably would not be doing today. I shudder to think if I somehow came out on the wrong side of any one of you and you brought these up in your attempt to ruin me. But I own every bad piece of writing and music I have ever done. Without them, I would not have learned how to do better.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a cop out, but it happens. You try stuff, you try to push the limits, push the boundaries, and sometimes you push too far, sometimes you piss off groups of people and if you really go too far, you apologize. I understand your view that supporting Trump is supporting racism, xenophobia, sexual assault, homophobia, and whole host of other terrible things. And as I always say whenever I post something like this, I hate him, too. But also realize that the people who voted for him are also Americans. And somewhere in there is someone you love.

Be a bigger person. It starts with thinking for yourself, and separating real life from the performance. I know it’s hard. But we have to. We already let Trump ruin football. Let’s not let Roseanne ruin everything else.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"What the Hell Do You Want?"

“What the Hell Do You Want?” In the early 90’s, When I was a teenager back in Massachusetts, me and couple of my friends were in the studio audience of a local cable access show called “What the Hell Do you Want?”—a novel show that featured a middle aged man who went by the name Bob Bitchum. He sat in a bathtub and took phone calls from people watching at home and would answer every call with his trademark greeting: “What the Hell do you want?” It was a classic in the old days of Pittsfield Cable Access Television. As a man befitting the name BOB BITCHUM, Bob was a total crank. Terrifically opinionated and not afraid to tell the truth as he saw it, his opinions carried a lot of weight with the blue collar working class of my hometown. To this day, I believe that his constant hammering on the Mayor, a woman he referred to as “Queen Anne” almost single-handedly brought her down.
One day, as a member of the audience, my friends and I were asked to sing the national Anthem for the audience at home. For whatever reason. It was just part of Bob’s free format, which featured bands, phone calls, diatribes, and this that and the other. He asked us to sing the Anthem. Which we did. Badly. Very, very badly. We were young and stupid and all of 14 or 15 years old. But even so, I never thought we were deliberately trying to disrespect the Anthem. We couldn’t help it if we had spiky hair, safety pinned jackets, (I think I was wearing a sleeveless raincoat indoors and my railroad hat...) and looked like grubby little freaks. We were grubby little freaks. It was just how we dressed back then. However we sang it, not long afterward, one of Bob’s callers called in. “What the hell do you want?” After which the caller took us all to task for our disrespect for the National Anthem in what he felt was a lackluster performance, where we did not do it justice…
Let me tell you one thing about Bob Bitchum: he was a bulldog. A warrior. You want him in your foxhole. Because HE WENT OFF on this guy.
“I WENT TO VIETNAM AND I GOT SHOT AT AND I SERVED MY COUNTRY AND I CAME BACK SO THAT THESE KIDS CAN SING THE ANTHEM ANY DAMN WAY THEY WANT TO!!!” I don’t know how long he went off on this person, but it came from somewhere deep inside that little man…
And at that moment, we erupted in cheers at the man who had defended us while tearing the caller a new asshole.
I’ve never forgotten it.
For on that stage of that odd little cable access show, Bob Bitchum in his own profane and rough way, defined what it means to be an American. Maybe we were stupid kids, punks who didn’t know any better, but Bob was not going to stand for his kids being attacked. Because this was America, and that meant something to him. Right or wrong, he felt that in America, kids had the right to be stupid and sing the Anthem badly. Just a thought.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Goodreads Giveaway, redux.


Because I am a writer and all I ever really want is to be read, and because all I ever need is one person to care, I am writing this expanded blog post to accompany my blog post of the other day…in which I tried to tactfully explain my displeasure with the new GoodReads Giveaway program…all because one person asked….

First off, I have to say that I love Goodreads. I have been using it for 9 years, both as a reader and as a writer. It is a great place to find new books, connect with other readers, leave reviews, and (as an author) find new readers of my own work. Goodreads, however, is owned by Amazon, the company that is taking over the entire world in a very frightening manner. That means it is a business, and business does what business does: operates at a profit motive above all else.

And to that end, it has begun a revision to their Giveaway Program, one that I had been using to great success over the past year, as detailed in a previous post.

I read through their blog post announcing this, I read what the new features of it were, but what really popped out at me was the whopping 119 dollar charge for a standard giveaway, and 599 for a Premium Package. (!) Ok. It’s easy to simply say that this is a lot of money for a simple writer to give away his/her hard work. But I wanted to get into the nuts and bolts of the program and why it irks me so much.

From their post: • (NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.

• (NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.

• About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read your book too.

Ok. These things are available and they are…nice…but let’s be honest: it’s only marginally different from what they had been offering all along FOR FREE. But somehow being able to add your book to a person’s TO READ LIST, notifying their followers, and then notifying the winners to read and review the book…does ANY of this make it worth 119 bucks?

And What about Premium?

• (NEW) Exclusive placements on the Giveaways homepage on Goodreads with tens of millions of visitors each month, giving your giveaway significantly more visibility and more entrants.

• (NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.

• (NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, and creates more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.

• About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read your book too.

• Giveaways are shown in the Giveaways section of Goodreads and the book page,allowing readers to discover new books.

Honestly, it sounds like more of the same. And this costs a whopping 599 bucks.

Here’s the thing: Sending these books out already costs me. Before I’ve even put the Pain Center book in an envelope, I spent roughly 4 months with countless hours assembling the books myself. It all comes out of my own pocket. When I make a sale, I am ecstatic. But because I am still an unknown author, no one is lining up to buy my book. But with the giveaways, I was building an audience. I was gaining traction. Yet not one of these giveaways has actually led to any sales. Now they are making people PAY for this???

I understand they gotta make money. But couldn’t there be a compromise? Maybe a cheap option for the rest of us? There has to be some way that these things can be done without fleecing the authors!

Curiously, and apparently singularly, this blog post announcing this change has been closed to comments. Maybe I wasn’t the only one upset by paying so much for something that used to be free.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Giving Your Cat her Meds in liquid form

Any of my friends out there with cats, I just wanted to share this.

My wife and I have 2 older cats, both with medical difficulties: Cliff (age 10) is a diabetic and requires an insulin shot twice a day, along with checking his blood sugar which is done with a poke to the ear with a little needle. He has been like this for a year, but otherwise he has been fine.

Stella (age 12) is dying.

She has cancer, was given about 30 days to live about 90 days ago. We have made peace with this and are just trying to make her final days as comfortable as possible. And to that end, we have been giving her Prednisone, a steroid, as prescribed by our vet. It has done wonders for her, almost to the point where we forget that she is sick. It has improved her appetite and her energy, and while on this she has even gained weight. We believe it has helped extend her life and made her much happier than when we first got the diagnosis.

But the reason I am writing this is the share something that we learned. While Stella is a very sweet kitty, she is terrible about taking pills. We were stymied by having to do battle with her twice a day for something that was supposed to make her feel better. On top of our other diabetic kitty, Stella’s obstinance was creating a real source of stress, especially at 3:45 in the morning when I am trying to get out the door.

So we asked our vet for help. And she gave us a solution: getting the medicine in a liquid form so we can more easily shoot it in her mouth. We were referred to something called a compounding pharmacy, which we’d never heard of before.

Her meds are now easy to give to her in the morning, as all I have to do is pick her up while my wife shoots the dropped into her mouth. If one of us is not there, it is possible to do it alone. Either way, it is so much easier and Stella continues to do well under the circumstances.

We hope to have a few more months of a healthy Stella. But I just wanted to pass long that information for anyone out there having trouble. Here is a link to the Veterinary Pharmacies of America site, which can help you find a compounding pharmacy in your area.

Hope this helps someone!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Today's the Day! Pain Center: the Novel! is out!!!

Many years from now, when people ask you, "Where were you on April 4, 2017, when Pain Center: the Novel! was released?" what will you tell them?
Lost Love.
And most importantly…
When Kyle's headaches drive him to seek the help of the Hartsburg Holistic Pain Center for Hartsburgers with Holistic Pain, he is reunited with a lost love from his youth. But what is the deal with his roommate with the stuffed animal that he uses to take notes after his midnight treks? Why do they make the patients do jumping jacks and pottery? And why do they force them to eat bean bowls and abstain from coffee? As he begins to question his situation, he soon finds that there is a deeper conspiracy that will rock the coffee loving town below...

PAIN CENTER: THE NOVEL!!!, By David G. Cookson!
Available through my web page:,
atomic books in Baltimore,
Quimby's Bookstore (Chicago area only, for now)
or through the good, old fashioned US Postal Service, by sending 8 US dollars to :

David Cookson
PO Box 23568
Baltimore, MD

There, I hope you seek it out at one of these fine establishments, more to be added in the future. This is a good book, I hope you check it out!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Pain Center: the Novel! Available April 4th!!!

Pain. Lost love. Betrayal. And most importantly...Coffee. Pain Center, the Novel!, the new book from David G. Cookson, Available April 4th.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Last Call at a place where I think Bill knew my name....

A week ago I heard the news that Dougherty’s Pub was closing its doors, after 30 plus years in business. I worked there for ten years, years of my life that I count among the best. It’s not an exaggeration or some teary eyed thing to say just because it’s all now coming to an end. It’s because of what the Pub meant to me that my heart continues to hurt days after hearing the news and will no doubt hurt long after it is all finally gone and the doors close early Sunday morning.

I first came into the Pub about 20 years ago with a girlfriend. Before even ordering food, before even getting a drink, I said, “Let’s come here when we don’t know where else to go.” Which, in retrospect probably sums up my feeling toward the place that had become my second home. There was no place anywhere outside of my home that I felt more comfortable. The vibe, the simplicity, the good feelings that came from here; the Pub was a lot of things to a lot of people. When I got hired in 2000, it was kind of an off-handed transaction, the kind that would typify the next ten years there. No applications, no rigorous background checks: if you were a friend of someone who worked there, you were okay. When you came there, you were already family. If you knew somebody, you had a chance to be part of something, to work in a place that would keep you as long as you needed it, as long as you did your part and tried your best.

Bill and his family supported me in times of need. I can’t count the number of times when he came through for me in some way, as a boss or as a friend. It was the best feeling in the world to know that someone had my back. The Pub was truly a special place, where artists, musicians, black, white, Latino, Latina, construction workers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, soldiers, bureaucrats, students, and countless others could come together and eat and drink in peace. It was truly unique: a melting pot of Baltimore, once praised by The Baltimore City Paper as the Best Place where White and Black Baltimore Meet. I was always proud of that fact, that it was a place where everyone could go, where everyone could feel comfortable, no matter who they were. It was a neighborhood bar that was not really in a neighborhood, somewhere in that nether region between Mount Vernon, Martin Luther King Boulevard, and the Cultural District. This was the Pub that Never Changed. Even 4 days before it closes its doors and I enjoy it for one of the last times, it is still the same Pub that I remember.

I will always love this place. And now we say good bye. I already miss you.