Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blood on our hands...

Ambulance chasers. Could it be that we are all eligible for inclusion in that ignoble club of professionals who earn their money from the pain and suffering of others? Oh, before you turn your lovely collective noses up at such an absurd idea, look down at your hands I pray and take notice of the dripping redness that is ever so slowly congealing on your very own hands... as on mine very own.
Consider: when you read a newspaper, watch television, or listen to the radio, and are made aware of a particularly grisly killing... does the thought cross your mind, however fleetingly, that you may be able to use parts or all of the details of this killing in some way? Perhaps the way the body was found, or its condition, its location or even the way a hardened cop looked away with tears in his or her eyes... 'oh, this is good,' we thought. 'I have to remember that...' How often have we stared at our mutual enemy and friend, the blank page, and wracked our brains for the best way to kill someone? Or at least the best way to describe it? How many innocents have we pummeled, shot, garroted, pushed off a bridge, knifed, hit over the head with whatever variety of objects, all in the name of our art? How many have died at our hands? Yes, ours are truly criminal minds at work, and our minds are constantly at work trying to figure out the next murder, the next killing, the next theft, kidnapping, break-in, chloroforming, drowning... even mere threats often require much thought before we are satisfied that the words ring true enough to not only convince our readers, but to convince us as well. After all, we are the experts! Oh, there has never walked the land a serial killer, mass murderer, kidnapper, all around scary, smart, dumb, hulking, svelte, brutish, smiling, unsmiling criminal such as we have made of ourselves. Remember the fictional mystery writer played so well on television by the wonderful Angela Lansbury? Why was it that she could solve so many crimes where the members of professional law enforcement could not? Was it because when it came to murder, she knew exactly how she would have done it? Or more correctly, how she would have had one of her characters do it? Crime writers are the Hannibal Lector of the literary world... we know how to kill, maim, kidnap, threaten, blackmail, better than anyone because when you come right down to it, that's what we do for a living... or what we'd like to do for a living (albeit, on paper). We are indeed criminals, each and every one of us... and we're good at it too. Locked door mysteries, crime noir, police procedurals... whatever name it may come draped in, we unveil our talents, lift our pens or unlimber our computers, and create another hapless victim! Damn, we're good.... I was recently asked that annoyingly common question asked of all of us, "Where do you get your ideas?" The answer was an innocent shrug, palms up... Did this person see the blood there, turning hard and brown, flaking a little around the creases...? I doubt it. Unfortunately, or could I be ghoulish enough to say fortunately, life inundates us with new ideas every day, for everyday there is suffering, hurt, anger, jealousy, avarice, pain, hate, love, evil, death... everyday there are new ideas and as writers that delve into the criminal mind, we cannot help but consider much of it fodder... and as I look down on my hands those famous words of another writer come to my mind, "Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—"

'Create a Corpse' Contest CLOSED! Winners Announced!

I received so many wonderful entries for my 'Create a Corpse' contest that it was very difficult to pick one name for one corpse. So I decided to pick 3 winners--3 corpses!
(I guess that kind of makes me a serial killer...)

"Deirdre Dailey" is the corpse named by...who else but Deirdre Dailey! Yes, I did have a few brave people who volunteered to "kill themselves off" for the benefit of my novel Divine Justice. Congratulations, Deirdre!

"Monty Winkler" is the corpse named by M.F., who says this "grade school bully knocked my glasses off one time after school" Bad Monty! Kudos, M.F.!

"Porter Sampson" is the corpse named by T.L. and I'm not sure if there's a story behind that name or if T.L. just likes making up names. T.L, feel free to tell us the story in the comments section!! And congrats!

These names will be characters in Divine Justice, a new paranormal suspense and book 2 in the Divine series. No publish date as of yet.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Do prison inmates deserve their privacy?

TV shows like Prison Break tend to glamorize prison life. Yes, they show the violence, but they tend to make the characters more sympathetic. Some of them. And we forget why they are there.

In real life, this sometimes happens as well. Some prison rules allow for many of the same comforts we have at home. And there is a lot of controversy around this. How much do prisoners derserve these creature comforts? What rights do they have?

Today, Matsqui prison, located in Abbotsford, BC, went into lockdown. Apparently, a woman with a baby stroller tried to pass through security, but the stroller tested positive for cocaine and guards stopped her. AOL News reports that the woman was allowed to continue with her visit but that she was reported to the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

So the inmates retaliated.

170 inmates set fires in the yard and refused to return to their cells. Why? Because they think their privacy is not being respected. They believe they deserve privacy.

Reading this reminds me of a similar situation in which guards set fires at Mastqui. In fact, I used the situation fictitiously in my novel Whale Song. For those of you who've read my novel, you'll recall there is a scene where a fire breaks out at Matsqui and prisoners had to be airlifted off a roof. It happened back in the 80's.

Reading today's Globe and Mail story, made me think of 2 things: Whale Song and the fact that these inmates should count themselves lucky they get to have visitors. Or time out in the yard in the fresh air and sunshine. These people have been convicted of crimes. They are paying for their crimes in a locked facility. That's what they deserve, and they are lucky that they are still alive and being fed, clothed and sheltered.

What I find even more disgusting is that the guards were able to find traces of cocaine on a baby stroller. What the--? Any mother who would use her child as a drug mule needs a good smack in the head...and her kids should be taken away.

Read the Matsqui story on Globe and Mail.

Read the Matsqui post on AOL News.

If you pick up Whale Song, you can read about the earlier fire in Matsqui prison. Some is truth and some is fiction. :)

And please feel free to leave a comment about this story. Do prison inmates deserve to have privacy? Was this a fair call by the guards?

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This writers' strike is a crime...

The WGA strike is starting to weigh heavily on my mind--no, my sanity. I want my shows back. I NEED my shows back! Otherwise, I resort to watching stuff I don't usually bother with.

Like The Celebrity Apprentice.

Ok, I'm sure that there are some true blue Celebrity Apprentice fans out there...somewhere. But I just don't get what all the fuss is about. I've watched 2 episodes now...nothing else on to watch. I watched Gene Simmons get fired. I kind of liked him, but every time I heard him speak in his low, slow, monotone drone, I kept remembering that fried egg commercial. You know the one: "This is your brain...this is your brain on--"

Then I watched Jennie Finch, the Olympic champion of something, get fired. Poor girl never really had an opportunity to shine. And in between we get to see Piers Morgan (whom I quite like) and Stephen Baldwin (who gets on my nerves...give me one of his brothers any day) butt heads...over and over again. And Omarosa? Don't even get me started on her. What's she even doing on a "celebrity" show anyway. These other women--all of whom I truly respect--have been celebrities for years and worked hard for that title.

And then there's Donald Trump. I won't talk about his hair (although I was a stylist years ago and I'd like to get near him with some scissors) or the white circles around his eyes (I think he was in a tanning bed too long, and he should fire his makeup artist--my 17 year old daughter could do better at blending than that), but I will mention that he has treated these celebrities with immense respect and it's nice to see. I just wish he had treated the regular contestants in past seasons the same way. Yes, I have watched the show before...maybe 2 seasons.

Don't get me wrong--I respect Mr. Trump. Look at what he's achieved. He is obviously a brilliant man. And he does do a lot of good when it comes to the charities he helps. But sometimes I think he forgets that he is really no different from anyone else in the world. He's a human being like the rest of us. And we all measure success differently. The closest I've seen him come to acting like a regular person was tonight when he told Jennie that she didn't belong in his world and that it was a nasty place, or words to that effect. And he said he liked and respected her.

I think his daughter Ivanka is lovely and graceful, and she's a Trump, through and through. Stiff and serious. She could use a good laugh. I've rarely seen her smile. And hey, life is too short to not play, laugh and enjoy it. I'd like to send her a copy of Whale Song. Maybe she would get the message in it. Life is a journey and it's for the living. So enjoy life while you can.

In my opinion, the only saving grace with this show is that these contestants are competing for money for their favorite charities. I have no problem with that. I think it's an awesome, worthwhile venture. Perhaps The Celebrity Apprentice is just annoying me because I miss my weekly fix of Survivor. I'd like to boot Omarosa off the Apprentice island. And I miss CSI (the original!). Give me Grissom any day!

Or Piers Morgan. By the way, Piers, I loved the knight outfit, and I would have stopped and bought a ticket from you. And do you think you could contact your friend Sir Richard Branson for me? He's my MySpace friend, but he hasn't answered my email. I know an author he might like to back. ;-)

See? This is how I get without my weekly fix of all the great shows I enjoy. And if you're wondering why I posted this here--on Criminal Minds at Work--it's because I think that not having all my favorite TV shows on is, well, just criminal!

So writers...dear writers, can we please settle this strike? And then please, please bring my shows back!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In memory of my brother Jason...

Today, my "baby" brother Jason would have turned 30. Quite a bit younger than I am, I know. He was an "oops". And a delightful one at that. As a baby, he had curly red ringlets and often looked like a chubby cherub. But with the red hair came a mischievousness that was anything but angelic.

Jason made us laugh.

And his death made us cry.

Jason Kaye was murdered here in Edmonton, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. Sometimes I see a kid who reminds me of him. Sometimes I hear about another lost soul whose life was somehow pushed off track. Jason was at one time homeless, living on the street, dumpster-diving for computer parts so he could fix a computer up enough to sell it, and an alcoholic with mental illness. None of us saw the latter until it was too late.

He died on January 23rd, 2006--Edmonton's third homicide of that year. His case is still open. No leads. No answers. No one has come forward as a witness. I am resolved that it will always be this way.

I feel a slight emptiness in my heart when I think of my brother. I think he took a small part with him. But that's okay; he can keep it.

Jason would have turned 30 today, had a huge party with his friends, probably gotten drunk...but he would have had fun.

Tonight I'll light a candle for him, in memory of a brother I truly loved, although I sometimes didn't understand him. But that's okay. I know he forgives me...and I him.

Recently, I was interviewed by CityTV for a segment on Celebrity Chefs. I had fun taping it and making Strawberry Dumplings with my daughter Jessica. This was one of Jason's favorite desserts and we made it in his honor. I'll make some tonight and think of Jason.

And remember him for who he was.

My brother.

Jason only read Whale Song, none of my other novels. And that's why I now donate a percentage of my royalties to 3 Edmonton nonprofits that deal with homelessness, addictions and poverty. I will do this as long as Whale Song is published and available to the public.

Much of our lives growing up was similar to Sarah's in Whale Song. We lived on an isolated island (Jason lived on 3) and grew up with native legends. I invite you to check out Whale Song, buy copies for your family and friends. It makes a wonderful gift for any age between 7 and 108, and I know that my brother would be grateful, as I would be, that your purchase is benefitting his community, his family and friends on the streets of Edmonton.

One thing I have learned: these people, these human beings living in poverty and battling addictions, are somebody's son, father, grandfather, daughter, mother, grandmother, sister...or brother. And they're just as human as the rest of us.

To read about Jason Kaye, please visit his memorial site at

Order Whale Song and help those in need of a friend...a helping hand. We have all needed that at some point in our lives.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Hello all:

My most heartfelt thanks to the lovely and talented Cheryl Kaye Tardif for extending the hand of membership and inclusion to me so that I may join your wonderful team. As I wrote to her, I am both honored and humbled to be in such noteworthy company. I hope to post a blog at least once a week, as my schedule allows... and I hope to try and spare you all my boring, humdrum, or useless opinions or prattlings... or not. I am sure that I may have harbored within my breast plenty of voices, festering like unchecked cancers awaiting only the right moment, the right venue, to then launch themselves at unsuspecting readers or potential fans... such a delicious thought... Munchy

Anyway, in way of introduction my name is Arnold Wolf. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. That was almost 50 years ago. I am now gainfully employed by local government, with the opportunity to retire in about 5 more years. When not toiling away for my few humble dollars and much needed benefits, I like to write, read, draw, paint, watch movies and television, play computer games (I am currently finishing ROME: Total War), do research, fight, make love, tend to my pets, or putter around my garden. I am a terrorism/counter-terrorism consultant/instructor (I personally have trained approximately 8,000 people in counter-terrorism) and plan to do more in the not-to-distant future. I am a terrorism survivor - as I was an employee of the NYPD when the FALN (don't you love all the acronyms?) bombed Police Headquarters twice in 1982. Spring of 2008 I will be facilitating a course in Emergency & Crisis Management for a nearby university. I have sold short stories to various magazines and newsletters in the genres of horror, fantasy, Sci-Fi, herpetology, terrorism and security. I have also sold scripts to various comic book companies. I have created training courses, done voice -overs, written scripts for training videos, raised fighting cocks, saved a Golden Retriever from sadistic teenagers, have been beaten to a bloody pulp by another group of sadistic teenagers armed with aluminum baseball bats... and I have written my first novel, CHICKENHAWK, which will hit the shelves later this very month.

Now, please, I beg you... enough of this "I" stuff. Let us move on if I haven't already rendered you catatonic with all this rambling, mumbling and grumbling. We all have our experiences... we all have the strings of our lives that we or the Gods unravel before and behind us as time flickers by like the strobed broken film ending of an old black and white film... I prefer not to dwell unduly upon mine own... I look forward to my next week's blog which I feel inspired to name, "Blood on our hands..." I hope you'll feel inspired to read it...

Oh by the way, the joke about the answering machine is hilarious!
Belly Laugh

That reminds me...

Cheryl's post about all the depression in the premier of Medium reminds me of the following joke. Don't know where it originated but whoever put it together is a comedy genius - and as you may have noticed, I tend toward the lighter side of things on this sight. Did you know that when motion pictures were in their infancy, Charlie Chaplin made people laugh so much that theatre owners had to go around and tighten the bolts on the theatre seats regularly?

Anyways, if you have a warped slightly dark sense of humour, get ready to loosen those bolts!

Psychiatric Office Answering Machine:

Hello, welcome to the mental health hot line:

· If you are obsessive compulsive, press one repeatedly,

· If you are co-dependant, ask someone to press two for you,

· If you have multiple personalities press three, four, five and six,

· If you are paranoid we know what you are and what you want. Stay on the line and we’ll trace your call,

· If you are delusional, press seven and your call will be transferred to the mother ship,

· If you are schizophrenic listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press,

· If you are depressive it doesn’t matter which number you press, no one will answer you,

· If you are dyslexic press 69, 69, 69, 69,

· If you have a nervous disorder please fidget with the hatch key until you hear the beep … after the beep, please wait for the beep,

· If you have a short term memory lost please try your call again latter,

  • And if you have low self esteem, hang up, all of our operators are too busy to talk to you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Medium premiere - "And Then"...pass the Valium!

Last night I sat down to watch the highly anticipated season premiere of Medium, one of my favorite shows. My first reaction to the episode titled "And Then", was: "Good God, what did they do with the writers?" I am not sure if this was the product of the writers' strike or if it was taped earlier, but the episode was flat, predictable one word, BORING. Sorry, NBC.

Spoiler alert!

In the premiere, we are given a recap of what happened last season and left with a depressed cast who should all go on some meds.

Allison (Patricia Arquette) was depressed because no one would take her calls or listen to her dreams and she was having money problems.

Her usually witty husband Joe (Jake Weber) was depressed because he was out of work and his mother wouldn't lend him money.

Their teenage daughter Ariel (Sofia Vassilieva) was depressed because she realized that another girl sang better than her (and maybe she was depressed because the writers made her do something nice instead of act like the spoiled brat that we have all come to want to smack).

Detective Lee Scanlon (David Cubitt) was depressed because he has been demoted to playing with puppets instead of being an active crime investigator.

His girlfriend (what's her name) was also equally depressed (and depressing) as she waded through her few lines as if reading off a cereal box. Though maybe her depression is justified--NBC doesn't even see fit to acknowledge her role in the cast, even though she's been in many episodes.

Allison's former boss D.A. Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) was depressed because someone else has his job and now he'll have to go back to being just

Then there's Academy Award-winning Anjelica Huston who plays Cynthia Keener, an investigator for "Ameritips". I'm sure that she was depressed because her role was so minute. I hope they develop her character better in future episodes.

Let's see...who else was depressed? Oh yes, let's not forget the millions of viewers who watched, predicted every step and tried to keep from dozing off. Pass the Valium!

As for plot, it was equally as depressing: a kidnapped boy, a pointless side-story about Ariel auditioning for a school musical, a dream of the kidnapper's feet (he likes to dance) and another dream of mice, a scene where Scanlon finds the dead boy packaged up in a doll box and mice running around.

At this point I thought, the killer is a young man who likes to dance and he's an exterminator. And lo and behold, it seems that maybe I should take over for Allison Dubois. What's disappointing is that there's no real investigation. The killer just conveniently shows up, let's himself into the scene of the crime (dancing to music, of course)...

"And Then"?

The show is over. (Thank God!) Talk about anti-climactic. A visit to your dentist for a root canal would be more suspenseful and less painful.

So please, NBC...get some good writers! I loved this show! I love the cast! But hey, there are other new shows on now, so give us some credit here and write for the intelligent viewer. We deserve better.

By the way, my paranormal suspense novel Divine Intervention is often compared to Medium (and CSI and Ghost Whisperer) and will definitely appeal to fans of the show. And I can promise you there are no flat characters and the story line is anything but predictable or boring. So while you're waiting for Medium to get back on track, feel free to pick up a copy of Divine Intervention at Amazon.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Potty Humour

The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on. - Ronnie Barker

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Law & Order premiere mimics the life of Dr. Death (Jack Kevorkian)

Assisted death is still a sensitive and timely topic, and the hit TV show Law & Order explores this controversial topic in the 18th season premiere.

Because of the assisted dying theme in Whale Song, I have read many articles about right-to-die activist and retired pathologist Jack Kevorkian, who was paroled in June 2007, after spending 8 years in prison. He had been convicted of second-degree murder [People v. Kevorkian, 248 Mich. App. 373, 639 N.W. 2d 291 (2001)]. So when I sat down last night to watch the season premiere of Law & Order, I was surprised at how similar the plot was to reality.

WARNING: Spoilers!

In the premiere of Law & Order, Jeremy Sisto joins the cast as Cyrus Lupo, a detective who comes home after 4 years abroad and finds that his brother has committed suicide by lethal injection. Shortly after, a second man is found dead in the same manner, after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Both men had their deaths videotaped, to be aired by a well-known television reporter. This is similar to the real-life case of Thomas Youk, whose assisted death aired on November 22, 1998, on 60 Minutes.

In the Law & Order episode, there is graphic mention of how the suicide machine is used and the side effects of the drugs. It is then discovered that Lupo's brother's death was assisted by a young woman who turns out to be the daughter of a recent parolee (ironically nicknamed "Dr. Death") who spent 10 years in prison, and detectives believe that he had something to do with the men's deaths.

In many of the articles I read about Jack Kevorkian, he was referred to as "Dr. Death". Many anti-right-to-die activists proclaim that Kevorkian's chosen method--lethal injection--is painful and slow, making it an inhumane way to die. But others argue that lethal injection, if done correctly, is fast and virtually painless. Law & Order mentions that death can be painful, yet we see two men slip away rather peacefully.

The first scene with the Kevorkian-like character shows a man who still holds onto his beliefs but cannot do anything with them. He professes to the detectives that because of his parole stipulations, he cannot help anyone who wants an assisted death, and that it's the fault of the legal system. This is also very much like the words of Jack Kevorkian, who proclaims that he will work now towards changes in the laws, rather than violate his parole terms and break the law. "I can't talk in detail about the procedure or advocate a procedure, especially with individuals," Kevorkian says in a recent interview with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes.

Assisted death has been in the news a lot this past year. Dignitas, the Swiss right-to-die organization was ousted from their offices and forced to make other accomodations for their clients who come to them in their final days. Sharon and Ozzie Osbourne loudly voiced their own personal assisted-suicide pact, should either of them lose their mental faculties. (Some may argue that has already happened.)

While Whale Song does have a theme (one of many) of assisted dying, the novel itself neither condones nor condemns this personal of all choices. It is not the key focus of the novel, which is why I have readers as young as 7 reading it and loving it. The messages in Whale Song deal more with surviving traumatic experiences, such as bullying, racism, the death of a mother, the loss of a father. The message is really about redemption and forgiveness. Life does go on, even after tragedy. And the messages I have received from readers of all ages have expressed how much they have loved the delicate handling of assisted dying and that it has opened doors to discussion with friends, spouses and kids.

Order Whale Song.

See my article on Kevorkian.

The following sites are listed for information purposes only and represent both sides of the argument on assisted dying. My personal belief is that one cannot truly make such a decision unless in this situation. If I had to watch someone I loved dying a slow and painful death with no hope of recovery and no quality of life, I admit, I would be tempted to consider assisted dying. However, I cannot say for sure that I would follow through.

Here are a few sites that may help you understand this issue.

Right to die/assisted dying organizations:

Pro-life oranizations:

Whale Song is mandatory reading for victims of violence

Because of everything that happened with Alliance for Children's Enrichment (ACE), I was contacted by a few of ACE's board members. One of them is Linda, the Executive Director of Community Welcome House, a shelter in Newnan, Georgia, for women and children who are victims of violence. I received this email from her.

I love the book. I have been reading it in between the business of the Christmas Season which is always tragic for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. As soon as I complete the book, I am almost there, I will send the critique to It is going to be included in our mandatory reading for our residents of Community Welcome House. It will be a wonderful addition to our library. I can't thank you enough.

Community Welcome House is looking for volunteers, so if you live in the Newnan area and would like to help out, please contact Morgan Reese at

CWH is also looking for donations of gift card from department stores such as Target, Walmart, Belks, Kohls, etc., older cars that are still driveable, and monetary donations.

Or arrange a donation by calling 770-304-0966 or emailing