April 2014


I knew in my heart of hearts that Arkansas wouldn’t let me down.  Studying their laws explain so much about a house director on one of my former campus’ who was proud to have her grandson be a 6th generation graduate of University of Arkansas. She used “bless her little heart” better than anyone I’ve ever known (and my sou-then friends will understand that one).

Sadly, I see a theme that has run through all the states we’ve visited so far. In Arkansas, it’s legal to beat your wife as long as you don’t do it more than once a month. But only with a stick that measure three inches or less in diameter (Three inches, really? Isn’t that a baseball bat?). And in Little Rock, this loving act of kindness can be performed on courthouse steps, again with the 3″ across restriction.

While we’re talking about inequities for women, until 1994 it was legal to grab a woman’s breast in public, even if the man didn’t know her. 

But, luckily, a man can get 10 years for putting his wife in a brothel.

Dating is so regulated it seems to be impossible. Maybe that’s why Arkansas has a reputation as being a state where family trees don’t fork. Family reunions and Sunday dinners after church don’t count as dates.

Again in Little Rock, flirtation between men and women can get you 30-days in the can. The law doesn’t say anything about women flirting with women or men flirting with men…….

You might want to give up dating completely in July, because men aren’t allowed to ask women to dance during that entire 31 days.

At Arkansas State University, it’s illegal to hold hands while standing in a doorway…..unless you’re both members of a union.

It might be best if you don’t  plan on taking a shower with your girlfriend/boyfriend…..because showering nee-ked (Lewis Grizzard, that great Southern Humorist said that “if you’re not wearing clothes, you’re naked. If you’re up to something, you’re nee-ked.)

Moving on….

Arkansas is a proud state, State Law 1-4-105 mandates that it must be pronounced “Ar-KIN-saw.”

Each state has animal laws, and the Great State of Arkansas is no exception.  

You may NOT keep an alligator in your bathtub. Ever.

Dogs must not bark after 6:00 pm. If caught barking, the dog can be fined or impounded.

Fortunately for the wildlife, it is illegal to kill “any living creature,” so watch out when you slap that mosquito.  I don’t get this one, but killing “inanimate” objects is perfectly fine. Huh?

It’s unlawful in Fayetteville to walk your cow down Main Street…..after 1:00 pm….on Sunday. And speaking of street behavior, if you tie an elephant to a traffic meter, it will receive the same fine as a car.

You might want to keep your pigeons well-fed, because they’re are prohibited by law from eating the pebbles off a composite roof. Try enforcing that one.

If momma wants to make a stew, she better do it in batches that feed less than 20, because it’s against the law to bring home more than 5 pounds of roadkill (I’m assuming that means per day).

And a favorite:  If you’re in Fayetteville, be assured that it’s illegal to make bats or owls into burgers. Don’t you feel better now?

We know there are interesting voting laws in every state, and Arkansas has this one covered, too. It is unlawful to spend more than five minutes in a voting booth. But that’s OK, because most people in Arkansas just flip the “straight ticket” switch anyway.

And being a Godly state, it’s illegal for athiests to hold public office or even testify as a witness.

In the “did they really need a law to cover this” territory, we have a few choice candidates:  

In Little Rock, you can’t eat cheese on Friday unless it’s accompanied by a beer. Not just any beer, it has to be a large bottle of beer. Not a can. Not a frosted mug. Staying in Little Rock, it’s illegal to honk a horn after 9 pm at any establishment that serves cold drinks or sandwiches. (I get that one.)  In another law, you can’t stop and start your car “suddenly” at McDonald’s. These guys have way too much time on their hands, or just really, really love fast food.

Time to jump shift.  Being humanitarians, the Arkansas Legislature recently proposed that growth hormones be administered to dwarfs.

In Upper Osborne, Arkansas, its illegal to detonate a nuclear device without the written permission of National League Baseball. I wonder if it’s permitted in Lower Osborne. Wouldn’t you love to know what spawned this one?

Back to Little Rock, the Legislature took time off from eating to pass a law that it’s illegal for the Arkansas River to rise above its banks higher than the Main Street Bridge. Another one that might be difficult to enforce.

Oh, and in case you were considering it, it’s illegal to name your child “Zabradacka.”

I’ve saved the best for last.

In Arkansas, oral sex is considered sodomy. 

So, be good to yourself, don’t take nee-ked showers with your significant other, and tell him he can no longer have oral sex because you don’t believe in sodomy. 

If I come up with more this week, you’ll be the first to know. Then,on to the land of Fruits and Nuts, my present home state of California. That should be fun.

See you then.






Next Stop: ALASKA And Heading South to ARIZONA.

I’m assuming there’s not a whole lot to do in Alaska. Most of their crazy laws seem are centered around animals.

Moose, for example. They must love their privacy, because no one is allowed to watch them from a plane window. And if you’ve got a moose with you on that ride, it’s illegal to shove a him out of that moving plane.

No matter how great a drinking buddy your moose is, it’s unlawful to give him any alcoholic beverage.

Don’t take your pet moose into a barber shop, either. No shave and a hair cut for Monty Moose. No-sir-ee.

Moving on to bears, it’s legal to hunt them, but don’t you dare wake one up to take a picture. You may not live to tell the tale. And you can’t allow “attractive nuisances” to exist — meaning you can’t do anything to knowingly attract a bear.

And it’s illegal to tie your pet dog to the hood or roof of your car. 

Though Alaska turned out to be pretty unremarkable, there are a couple of good ones.

It’s perfectly legal to own a slingshot — as long as you have the appropriate license/permit. 

And you can’t roam around town with a bow and arrow.

I like this one. It’s absolutely, positively forbidden to live in a house trailer while it’s being moved.

And excessive emergencies will be punished to the full extent of the law.

Though it’s forbidden to steal snow from your neighbor’s yard to make snowballs, you’re more than welcome to take all their snow if you want to build an igloo. 

And that’s all I got for Alaska. Pretty boring.

But I found another good one for ALABAMA. “It’s illegal to tie your pet alligator to a fire hydrant.” Pretty sure I wouldn’t have to worry about that one.

Since Alaska wasn’t worth the trip, let’s move on to ARIZONA.

In what may be the hottest state in the Union, they’re preoccupied with animals, too. For instance, it’s illegal to hunt camels…and this one actually makes sense.  The Army experimented with camels, and when they gave up the research, turned them lose. So there are really camels wandering around in the Arizona deserts. I can only imaging the reaction an unknowing tourist might have — too little water, too much heat, or maybe too much booze… and a freaking camel staring them in the face. Yup. That would leave an impression.

No matter how much you love your donkey, he’s not allowed to sleep in your bathtub. Got no logic for that one.

You’ll be fined if you bother the cottontails or bullfrogs. In that category, bullfrog-hunting season is officially cancelled.

This one may go back a ways, but you can’t ride your horse up the county court house steps. Pretty sure the horse appreciates this one. Going down’s the hard part.

Now, to the fun stuff.

You can get up to 25 years — a third of a lifetime — for cutting down a cactus.

It’s illegal to manufacture imitation cocaine. Guess the good stuff is OK.

If you’re attacked by a burglar or other criminal, you can defend yourself. But only if you possess the same weapon he has. Otherwise, you’re screwed.

It’s unlawful to refuse to give someone a glass of water, and in Arizona, I get that. Have you ever been to Arizona? The company I was with for 13 years had two offices there. They only made sales calls before noon. After that, back to air conditioning.

A personal favorite: Since there’s so much time spent indoors in Arizona, it’s illegal to own more than two dildos in one house. And the dildo police will be checking up on you. And why is this so egregious that legislators in the Great State of Arizona took time out of their busy days to enact it into law? 

In the spirit of having no fun at law, you can’t sing out loud, in public, if you’re wearing a swimsuit.

The only people who can smoke within 15 feet of a public place are those who possess a Class 12 Liquor License. 

In Globe, it’s illegal to play cards in the streets with a Native American.

In Mojave County, don’t get caught stealing soap from your hotel. You’ll be forced to wash yourself completely until you’ve totally used up the soap.

In Nogales, you can’t wear suspenders, but from what I hear, that’s about the only thing you can’t do in NoNo. Women can be fined up to $500, and men can get hit for up to $2000. They really hate suspenders in Nogales.  

In Tombstone, it’s illegal for anyone over the age of 18 to have more than one missing tooth while smiling. I can think of a couple of states that would have full prisons over that one.

In Tucson, women can’t wear pants. I guess that means it’s OK to go without them, right?

We’ll wind up Arizona with the obvious, It’s illegal to wear spurs in hotel lobbies.

Next week is the one we’ve all been looking forward to — ARKANSAS. That one should be fun.

So until next week, be good to yourself, be nice to the people around you, even if they’re total jerks, and know that somewhere there’s someone who loves you.










Since discovering I’m allowed to bury a body in my back yard in Oklahoma providing it is wrapped in fabric, at least four feet deep, and buried within twenty-four hours (when you think about it, if someone has a body they need to get rid of, they probably don’t need to be told to to do it quickly), I found myself spending evening and travel time delving into other stupid/weird/strange state laws. 

My conclusion is that no matter where we’re from, it’s appropriate to begin any introduction with, “Hi, I’m ______ _______, and I’m from (insert name of State). We’re crazy. We’re not just ‘crazy,’ we’re bat shit crazy.”

Starting today, my blog is taking a turn.

For the next fifty weeks (more, if new states with stupid laws are added to the Stars and Stripes) we’ll be analyzing each state in alphabetical order.

So, Hellooooooo, ALABAMA!

The Cotton State, also known as The Heart of Dixie State,  is pretty tame by Oklahoma standards. But they’ve got some good ones.

We’ll start with a pretty good stupid law — it’s illegal to have incestuous marriages.  Though Alabama sure as hell isn’t the only state where family trees don’t fork, if this law was enforced the prisons would be a great place to hold family reunions. 

Because this situation created such a menace, the Alabama legislators were forced to mandate that it’s unlawful to drive an automobile the wrong way down a one-way street if there is a lantern attached to the front of the car.  No lantern? No problem. Pick a lane. Any lane.

On the subject of driving, I agree it’s important that each car must have windshield wipers. In the “do you really need to tell us” category, it’s illegal to drive while blindfolded — or with so many people in the car that it obstructs the driver’s view, or drive with someone sitting on your lap…but that’s only illegal if they block the view of the road. So load up that VW Beetle with as many frat boys as you can shove in and still be able to breathe…just make sure there’s an open space in front of the driver so he can see straight ahead. 

Here’s one that would send me to jail every single time I get behind the wheel. You can’t drive barefoot. What’s that all about? Doesn’t Alabama believe in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Driving barefoot makes me happy. My formative years were spent in West Virginia where shoes are optional equipment. It’s all I know. I’m not giving it up.

In violation the federal “separation of church and state” mandate, they’re messin’ with peoples church goin’.  It is not only against the law to wear a mustache in church if it causes laughter, but Alabama residents are not allowed to impersonate a member of the clergy.  Haven’t you been tempted, just once, to pretend to be a preacher? 

Oh, and if you’re a visiting in Auburn, don’t get caught spitting on the church floor. 

Alabama also prohibits parents from making their children do any labor on The Lord’s Day except customary domestic duties. And there ain’t gonna be no huntin’, shootin’, motor cycle or car racin’. Ain’t no card playin’ either. Because a rousing game of Crazy Eights is way too stimulating for our Day of Rest. That goes for Dominoes, too. Deal with it.  

No businesses can be open on Sunday. Fortunately for the citizens of Alabama, this law specifically exempts restaurants and ice cream shops. Gotta have our Sundaes on Sunday, right? (For those of you who know me, you’ll be impressed that during five nights and four whole days in Oklahoma I didn’t walk into even one Braum’s or Taco Bueno. No Tuxedo Sundae for Anna Banana on this trip. No Strawberry Shortcake Sundae. And no Bueno taco’s. Granted, on the way to the airport I went through the drive-through and got One. Single Scoop. Butter Pecan. Ice Cream Cone. But after showing so much restraint for so long, a little reward doesn’t count, does it? Which has nothing to do with Alabama….They don’t even have Braum’s or Bueno.)

Don’t wear a mask in public — on any day of the week. That’s illegal across all of Alabama. And that ice cream? You can’t carry it in your pockets.  Because Alabama thinks it’s so important for you not to put an ice cream cone in the back pocket of your jeans that they passed a law prohibiting it. (If you’re wearing those blue jeans in Anniston, you can get arrested for wearing them on Noble Street.)

If you want to buy peanuts…after sundown…on Wednesdays…in Lee County, your dealer risks being arrested for selling them to you.

Prison conversation:  “What are you in for?”     “Dealing.”      “Heroin?”   “Nope, peanuts.”

Here’s one that should be illegal in all fifty states as well as our territories. What’s good for Alabama should be good for Guam:  Boogers may not, under any circumstances, be flicked into the wind. Period. End of discussion. Don’t mess with Alabama on this one. The State Song of Alabama will soon be changed to, “Everybody’s doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it, Pickin’ their nose and chewin’ it, chewin’ it.” Catchy, don’t you think?

Here’s a law I like. Women are able to retain all property they owned prior to marriage in the case of divorce. However, this provision does not apply to men. As God, and the Great State of Alabama intended it.

There’s no way I’d  live in Mobile. You can’t bathe in city fountains, and can’t own Silly String. You can’t even possess confetti. Women can’t wear “lewd” clothes or shoes with sharp, high heels — and men aren’t allowed to howl at them. Really? Don’t they want you to have any fun at all?

Let’s go to Huntsville where there’s a law on the books stating, “If an animal control officer is in uniform, it signifies to the public that he is an animal control officer.”

Before you leave to bang your head against the wall we have to go back to Auburn just One… More… Time:

“Men who deflower virgins, regardless of age or marital status, may face up to five years in prison.”

Think about that one.

Does that make it illegal for women to not be virgins in Auburn? How do they get deflowered? Must they cross the city line for that “first time”? What’s a girl to do?

Best of all, every kid in Auburn has a legitimate reason to look up at mommy and daddy and ask, “Where do babies come from?” Because they sure as hell didn’t come out of mommy.

Auburn, Alabama: Where adoption is your only option.

For oh, so many reasons, I’ll leave you with this one. It should keep the head pinging around in your skull until next week when we go to Alaska. That should be a good one.

Until then, Roll Tide, be good to yourself and smile at strangers just to mess with them. 








I’m Screwed. And Other Things I Learned Today

First Day Back in Oklahoma. You need to know I’ve been here over 28 hours and have not been to even one Taco Bueno OR Braum’s. That means I’ve officially performed a minor miracle and, therefore,  if the subject ever comes up, I could be a legitimate candidate for sainthood.

Last night was interesting — first thing discovered when I hit the hotel was that I was in the wrong hotel and was scrambling to find a new one when my buddy, Mary Arbuckle called and invited me to stay at Mini Ha Ha Ranch. I jumped at the chance. So tonight, after dinner, great conversation and good laughs, and I’m snuggled into my room. Surrounded by the love and friendship of Mary, Lina, four adorable dogs, four in-and-out kitties, and horsies outside. Even better, Lina’s parental units are here from the Philippines, and are probably the cutest little couple I’ve ever seen. It’s like a home away from home.

Meanwhile, you may know I’m back here to do research for a book I’ve been working on. Re-writing with agent’s suggestions and have a great editor (thanks, Scott Evans) who keeps me real.

And I came so prepared. This was going to be easy. I mean, I lived here about 18 years and know the area. Sure, it’s changed since Abbi and I left in ’06, but this is mainly to meet with sources and establish relationships. Right?

I brought my GPS, but basically for backup – didn’t turn it on because I know where everything is. Then, the realization hit. Couldn’t find my behind with both hands. Drove up and down Western about 4 times trying to find the new Pearl’s restaurant. It wasn’t where it was supposed to be. It took my over fifteen minutes and several diversions to find my synagogue — and it hadn’t moved. My brain, on the other hand….

For those of you who have never lived in Oklahoma, directions are not by “You take a left on Western, go two blocks, and take a right on…..” Oh, No. My directions to Pearl’s were,  “It’s a block from where the bridge used to be, and then you take a left.” Of course, which “left” wasn’t given. And I didn’t remember where the bridge used to be, though I probably should have. I remember where the Split T used to be because it was replaced by a strip mall called Strip T Mall. No, it wasn’t a strip joint. It was a great bar/restaurant with a huge “T” for a door handle. That “T” was split down the middle with half of the “T” on each of two huge doors  – hence, “Split T.” But I’ve got to admit I never got used to directions like, “You know where the old church used to be?” “Ok, take a left where the barn burned down,” and, “You go a mile past the brown cows….not the black cows….the brown cows.” Still, no Pearl’s. Tonight, I’ll look up the address. Probably should have started there.

Drove through a neighborhood where a lot of the book is set, and the camera that had fresh batteries when it left Los Angeles yesterday morning was dead. Off to buy batteries, and then to Lake Hefner. Have to make a trip back to the neighborhood another time.

And that’s where my day went to hell in a hand basket. Someone or something took Lake Hefner and replaced it with a whole different body of water. I’ve got a guy sitting on a bench with people running on the path behind him. Wrongo. The path is in front of the benches, not behind them. Easy fix, you say? Not in this case. Have to rebuild the world. And the water’s so low that larger boats can no longer be in slips. The boat I want in the water is now up on a trailer waiting to be backed down the ramp . And I found that boat owners are not allowed to live aboard their boats anymore. That bites.  One of my characters is watching the East Wharf area through binoculars. Can’t do that, either. Too far away. And press are set up directly across the lake. Can’t happen. Four hours at the lake and I’m no where close to finished. Now I see why some authors create whole new cities so no one can call them at three in the morning and say, “You didn’t do your research. There were THREE trees there, not five.”

But I got to have brisket for lunch at Earl’s Ribs and couldn’t have made a better decision. Just walking in that place, the smells make me happy. And without it, I’m pretty sure facing Lake Hefner would have been even worse.

Now, for the things I discovered. Dropped into Nearly New, a consignment shop on Western Ave. where I used to go when I needed something in a hurry and didn’t have the time or energy to go to a mall. They always came up with something designer-classy for me that was appropriate for what I needed, and saved my butt over and over again for about 18 years. The watch puppy was still there, though he’s seven years older now. 

The owner was originally from San Francisco and came back here to take care of her parents. Ended up finding a husband here, and they bought the shop just before I moved in ’06. We picked up where we left off back before I jumped ship and headed West. But she’s gotten a little “bluer” in that time, and that’s pretty sketchy in one of the “reddest” states in the union. She went on a tirade about all that’s gone on since I left, much of which revolves around their skank-ho governor, Mary Fallin (that’s not a derogatory remark and cannot be held against me because the judge in her divorce trial pretty much called her that when she ruled  that — for the first time in our nation’s history — she and her soon-to-be ex husband had to move OUT of the house and the kids stayed in it. The parents took turns moving back into the house on visitation days). I had her tuned out until she told me Fallin had just signed into law a bill that made growing hashish can get you the death-penalty. Even I couldn’t believe that one, so I Googled it. I’ll be damned. She was wrong….not All The Way Wrong, though.  If you grow hash in Oklahoma, a misdemeanor, you go to The Big House for LIFE. Yup. LIFE! Google it.

There were sad discoveries — a favorite bakery was sitting empty. An empty lot replaced my favorite Wendy’s. Yes, I had a favorite Wendy’s. Deal with it.

In the absurd category, I drove through Nichols Hills (hotsy totsy) to find that someone had purchased two gigantic houses on two large lots that were already pretty over the top, demolished them, and was building one twice as big to replace it. Because one over-sized, pretentious house just isn’t enough.

Under the strange category, a biker bar is now and oyster/seafood bar. Didn’t see that one coming.

But driving to Mini Ha Ha Ranch I discovered something I’d never seen before…which makes me wonder if I’d just missed it or if it was new. I already knew the Oklahoma City area was home to the Firefighter’s Hall of Fame, the Softball Hall of Fame, and the Gymnastics Hall of Fame, not to mention the abundantly cool and nationally known Western Heritage/Cowboy Hall of Fame (it’s worth the trip to Oklahoma) but I had no idea we’d hit the big time and acquired the American Racing Pigeon Union and Museum. With a National Convention and awards, and everything. Who knew.

Which brings Day One to an end. My head thinks it’s 11:00 p.m. It’s 9:00 p.m. Will I be able to go to sleep? Will I make it down town by my 9am appointment in the morning, not knowing how traffic will be or where to park? Only The Shadow knows…..

So I’m snuggled up in my bed with tomorrow mapped out. Hopefully, it will be more user-friendly than today was. As it stands, I’m going to need to spend at least another afternoon driving around Lake Hefner and discovering all it’s nooks and crannies. And having my heart break every time I see how far the water has receded into the lake.

I may not check in every day, but will keep you posted.

Before crashing for the night, I need to send a major league congratulations to my awesome editor, Scott Evans, who flies out April 31 to sign a three-book deal with Random House. So excited for him. 

Until next time, take care of yourself, smile at someone you don’t know — even if it’s to see how uncomfortable it makes them — and remember, someone loves you.