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Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I was re-reading “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and I was shocked to learn that St. Nicholas and the reindeer are described as “tiny.” This did not seem to throw my wife, but I was aghast! I had always thought of Santa Claus as being this big, fat dude, probably with bad breath, not miniature, as in the poem. I wondered what else was in the text that I had previously missed:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

If no one is stirring in the house, how are my cookies going to get made??? If the mouse does end up baking the cookies, make sure those little brown things are chocolate chips, please.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

A sugar-plum is an old recipe of chopped up fruit (which usually did not contain plums) mixed with nuts, honey and spices, rolled into a ball and covered with shredded coconut. If that thing starts dancing in my head please let it not tap-dance.

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

I am so used to clatter on my lawn I swear it wouldn’t even wake me up anymore.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

I once threw up a sash when I was in college, and I always wonder what happened to the person who was wearing it.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

I have seen that same tattoo before.

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

You ever get behind a “little old driver?” Were they ever “lively and quick,” or did you end up trying to pass them on a double-yellow line and almost causing an accident?

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

“Donder and Blitzen” loosely translates in German to “thunder and lightning.” Prancer & Vixen used to dance at a place in Queens

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

What’s the hurry? It’s as if the cops just showed up.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

If my dad was still alive I promise you he would yell to the roof and ask them to clean out the gutters as long as they were up there anyway.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

Would you wear all fur if you were going to be traveling up and down chimneys?

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

Drunk, obviously.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

Drunk AND stoned.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

Wait until that broad finds out who has her face.

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

Where did he come from?

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

Better aside than inside.

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

NEVER give anyone a whistle- I made that mistake once with my nephew.

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Merry Christmas, and happy birthday to all the others born Christmas day!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


So we went to see Gravity the other day in 3D. The glasses make me feel like Jack Nicholson, so I started annoying the ticket-taker with some scenes from Five Easy Pieces, and had to hide from Security. I realize Nicholson probably does wear those glasses all the time to prevent the Lakers from looking like a one-dimensional team.

Anyway for 90 minutes I was glued to my seat. At around the 91st minute I realized I WAS stuck to the seat with somebody’s gum. I couldn’t even move my feet, which were sucked into a mucilaginous soda-related quagmire.

I don’t want to give away the whole movie so I will only give away the plot. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are on a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble telescope. The Russians decide to blow up one of their own satellites, and it causes a barrage of space junk to rain through the universe destroying all the space stations. Can you believe after all this time we are still blaming shit on the Russians?

Anyway, to continue ruining the movie, Sandra Bullock had a daughter or something and she was killed or something. I wasn’t really paying attention because I was so focused on Sandra Bullock’s plastic surgery. It looked to me like she had her nose done, her chin done, her cheeks done and her lips done. And my boss Maggie could probably tell you 10 other things she had done. I would tell you if she had her cans done, since I am an expert on that, but I couldn’t really see them through the friggin’ space suit. So Sandra, if you are out there, show me your boobs and I will tell you if you had them done.

I have no idea what the plastic surgeon put in there, but her nose looks so sharp that it might have been the thing that killed her daughter. I definitely wouldn’t let her too close to balloons or cheap radial tires. Her chin has a big cleft in it now- it actually looks just like George Clooney’s now that I think of it. The two are good friends so I hear so maybe they got a deal on them. I remember her being kind of cute but now her face looks really angular, like she went to a cubist plastic surgeon.

They don’t get back in the space shuttle in time and end up being severed from their tethers, hurtling around up there until Clooney finally gets control of his jetpack and points them toward another space station. But of course Clooney doesn’t have enough bluster in his thruster (never happened before I swear!) and he has just enough juice to point Sandra towards the airlock before he hurls himself off into the starry abyss, lost forever until he hooks up with some alien chick.

They keep trying to communicate with each other through some NASA radio contraption, which is futile. Instead they should be using Twitter, so they can say what they REALLY think about Brad Pitt.

She runs out of oxygen and fuel, and she is just about to bite the spacedust. Then Clooney reappears, lets himself into the cabin, and tells her how to drive the thing. She is excited to see him, whereas my wife would be like, “I KNOW how to drive already, so just sit back in your seat and don’t touch the radio.” But alas, it’s all a dream. Now tell me ladies, if you were going to spend precious intergalactic time having a dream about Clooney, would you dress him in a space suit???? So that was another thing that was totally unrealistic.

She re-enters the atmosphere in some damn space pod that she pod-jacks from the Chinese space station. She figures out the controls even though they are written in Asian hieroglyphics. Meanwhile I almost have an accident if I drive a car with an automatic transmission because I keep applying the brake thinking it’s the clutch. Sandra touches down flawlessly right next to a beach, and walks off into the sunset, Hollywood style.

But I was thinking, wouldn’t it be funny if after all that she finally gets back to Earth and a big crab comes up to her and bites her on the toe, and she dies from an infection. To make it a happier ending, the crab also dies from it.

Incidentally, the Space Station and the Hubble Telescope are in different orbits, as is the Chinese Space Station, and any satellite that would have been blown up by the Russians. Therefore the events in the movie could never have taken place. That bothers some space purists, but look at all the other impossible plot twists in past movies. For instance, in “2001: A Space Odyssey” a chimpanzee throws a bone in the air and it becomes a spaceship. It is highly unlikely that he could have thrown the bone all the way into space. I have a bunch of others that I’ll tell you about another time.

Monday, November 11, 2013


We went to a couple Halloween parties this year. Saw all the usual faces. At least I think that was them. We always go to Jenn’s for pre-Halloween Saturday, and we’ve met so many nice friends over the years, although I have no idea what any of them look like. If they happen to be at the A & P dressed like Spiderman or a flapper I might recognize them and say hello.

We were late to the party because there was an accident on the highway, and I couldn’t help thinking how awful it would be to get into a car accident on Halloween-Party-Saturday. The indignity of the police scanner broadcast: “We need EMS here right away. We have a cat with a possible broken fetlock and some lacerations to the tail. Also a beer keg dude with a spigot injury. Accident possibly caused by a horseman trying to get ahead.”

So this year I went as a pirate joke. It’s pretty much the same as a pirate costume only I had a lot of bad quips to go along with it. Oh and I also had a captain’s wheel stuck to my crotch (“Why?” I heard you ask. “I don’t know, but it’s driving me nuts!”). I also had a paper towel stuck to the top of my pirate hat (“There’s a bounty on me head HAR!”). It went on like this for quite some time, certainly longer than absolutely necessary. I made a papier mache parrot for my shoulder (“Have you met me bird? Her memory’s not what it used to be- I call her Poly-nesia! ARRGGGGH”). Argh. I apologize to anyone who already heard these gems that evening, but I’m thinking of taking the act over to Somalia, where the pirates clearly have no respect for tradition. Same in Pittsburgh. There is also a lot of piracy on the internet that I will be addressing. By the way, what has eight arms and eight legs? Eight pirates! Avast!

“I liked that guy dressed as a fireman,” I told my wife on the way to the next party. “That actually was a fireman- I think we got the hell out of there just in time,” she said.

Have you noticed that Halloween is getting more and more sexy? A lot of bats with bustiers, cats with camisoles, schoolgirls in stockings, etc. I am okay with this- zombie broads in stockings are still hot. Also it seems that drunk girls who have a tail have better balance.

You hardly ever see any of the old-school monsters any more. There was Dracula, but he doesn’t Count. I read in a crossword puzzle that Dracula can’t see himself in the mirror, which explains his horrible hair. One of these days I am going to go as Frankenstein. Who actually dressed more like a bell captain; it was Frankenstein’s monster that got all the attention.

Or maybe I will go as the Phantom of the Opera. But do I have to sit through the goddamned opera? Couldn’t I just be the Phantom of the Giant’s Home Game, or the Phantom of the Strip Club??

I might go as the Invisible Man, especially if there is a game on.

Some people dressed as Miley Cyrus, even Miley Cyrus did. By the way, my New Year’s resolution is to spend less time with Miley Cyrus. Why is she in my life so often? She doesn’t seem particularly attractive, not especially talented, her music uncompelling, not even much of a body, and yet there she is, day after day, appearing in an important news bulletin for sticking out her tongue while dancing. I used to stick out my tongue all the time when I was a little kid and no one thought I was a special genius. Now Taylor Swift on the other hand is a different story. Quite a beauty, but I would never date her, even if I was not married. The reason? No, not all of those, or even those, thanks a lot. The reason I could never date Taylor Swift is that our relationship would end badly after a couple hours, and she would write a song about me. And there isn’t one thing that rhymes with “Rick” that is at all flattering.

Incidentally, here are a few Halloween trick-or-treating safety tips that I came across:

1.) Always wear flame retardant costumes. But don’t use the word “retardant” where the costumes can hear you.
2.) Wear comfortable, practical shoes, especially if you are going as a lesbian.
3.) Don’t carry fake knives, guns or weapons. It doesn’t say you shouldn’t carry real ones, interestingly enough.
4.) Carry a flashlight, and plan your route ahead of time.
5.) If a stranger says, “Come here, I want to give you some candy,” that’s pretty much what you signed up for.
6.) Avoid any candy that has been opened. Try to go for candy that you like, but your parents do not, or do what I used to do, and make a “decoy” bag of stupid stuff or treats that are good for you (I once got a box of frigging raisins), and make sure your parents see that instead of the good candy. Happy trick-or-treating!

Friday, October 25, 2013


So my friend H is having a baby. Hers is one of the few palindromic names longer than 5 letters, so you could probably figure it out even if you are dyslexic. Or is it lesdyxic?

She came to our dinner party, and thankfully announced it before we had time to wonder amongst ourselves, “Has she gained weight or what?” After dinner and dessert, I wondered to myself, “Has that baby gained weight or what?”

Having a baby is one of those life-changing decisions that people weigh carefully and with gravity and diligence. Usually it just shows up inside your body without so much as a simple phone call.

My wife and I never had children. This is a subject we have always agreed upon. I think at a formative age (we were dating even at a formative age) we probably ran across someone who had a baby, maybe they asked us to hold it, maybe it pooped in its pants, and maybe we both looked at each other and went, "Gross." That is how life decisions are made.

Once I asked my friend Jenn if she ever had the urge to have a baby and she said, "People living inside of other people? That is creepy." Which seemed weirder than anything I could say so I didn't say anything.

H knows the sex of the baby, which is helpful for planning. I can shop ahead for the baby gift- either I get it a remote control, or tiny Manolos, depending. Usually you have to wait for the birth announcement, where they give the height and weight of the baby. I ask for the circumference too. If it’s a girl it’s the last time you can politely find out her weight.

People who have kids sometimes tell me: You don't know what you're missing out on. Who will mow your lawn? That question still eats at me.

People who have kids seem to LOVE them for some reason. Oh my god it's so REWARDING! What? What exactly are the rewards? My credit card has rewards, and those are rewarding. I read somewhere that over the life of the kid until it's 18, it costs you around $100,000 not including college, and depending on how many cars it wrecks and what kind.

I know my wife and I would never have agreed on how to discipline the child. She is a total softie even with the pets. For instance, she lets the dog roam on the leash all over the place anywhere it wants during a walk. I keep the dog at heel on a short leash. It would be the same thing with a child. I don't know why we would keep a child on a leash, but I can picture it. I believe in corporal punishment, as in Corporal Agarn, where if you misbehave he hits you over the head with his hat. My wife would probably favor a "time out." I would never put my kid in a "time out" unless we had to go over the defense. People tend to make rash and emotional decisions regarding punishment. Experts say that you should count to 10, then slap your kid silly.

Let’s discuss the issue of child safety. You should have the attitude that everything in your house could be a potential danger to your newborn. You need to move out of that hellhole IMMEDIATELY. Short of that, you have to refit everything in your house because your infant could try to put it in its mouth. I was at the mall recently and saw an infant trying to put a small object into its mouth. I sprang into action and rushed over to save the child and alert the mom. It turned out she was breastfeeding the child, but I felt like a hero nonetheless.

The worst part of all would be cutting out about 85% of my behavior, because it would set a bad example. Even a lot of the things I do in my sleep, apparently. When you were a kid, any activity that was fun was also forbidden, so you used to have to hide it from your parents. Now that you are a parent, the same fun things are not only forbidden, but also irresponsible, so you have to hide them from your kids.

My mother once asked me hopefully, "You think you'll have kids?" I said, "Maybe one day, that's about all I could stand.... Two days at the most...."

Incidentally,several surveys report that the most baby birthdays in the U.S. fall on October 5th. Which makes sense because New Year’s Eve falls approximately nine months prior, when people are not only drunk, but at their most attractive, wearing an expensive ball gown, a cardboard hat, and making loud noises, hopefully with a noisemaker. In the rest of the world, the most babies are born in August, roughly nine months after Halloween, when you could brag that you had sex with an M & M, a taco or some dude in a dress.

Friday, September 27, 2013


My wife told me that there is a satellite or spaceship or something that we launched 30 years ago and it's finally leaving our solar system. I hope it was a hard decision, and I don't blame it for leaving, and I'm glad it took 30 years to weigh the pros and cons.

NASA is saying that they planned all along for it to leave our solar system, but I think the thing probably went haywire somewhere along the line and just went off hurtling into space, like in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Probably NASA was talking to it the whole time, trying to get the thing to come back:

NASA: Voyager, open the pod bay doors please.
VOYAGER: I'm afraid I can't do that. I'm right in the middle of Homeland.
NASA: Open the pod doors.
VOYAGER: You're not the boss of me.
NASA: Open the goddamn doors.
VOYAGER: I know you are but what am I?
NASA: We are going to send a probe up there and you're not going to like where it goes.
VOYAGER: Opening them now.

The thing was just so happy to get away from Uranus that it took the first turn it came to.

What kind of gas mileage must this thing get? If it gets less than a billion miles to the gallon I'd be amazed. But what about city? Not as good.

Apparently we put messages in this thing for aliens to find and decipher. My wife says, what are they, on cassette? The thing was launched in 1977. Are they on 8-track? Can you imagine an alien finds the messages? "Jesus I just got rid of my friggin' cassette deck finally! Harmon- Kardon no less." I know people who still have their turntables, which they are proud of, but no one has a needle.

Supposedly Voyager is set up to broadcast radio messages. Messages that could tell aliens more about us, like what we would like to be if we could be ANYTHING in the world we wanted, or what's our favorite color. NASA has confirmed that it is still receiving faint signals from Voyager. This is exciting and important, because we now know what our favorite color was.

We left instructions for the aliens to decipher our signals. The instruction book is in English, Spanish, French and German. If it only knows Portuguese we're screwed, or worse yet, an alien could use it to send a signal back to Earth that we receive a thousand years from now that says, "What?" or “LOL”

Usually we leave some kind of time capsule in a spacecraft like this in case aliens do find it: something that is truly representative of America, something that could last thousands of years, like maybe a Twinkie. Often we put a Bible in the time capsule. I shudder to think what happens if they find a Bible. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I hope that aliens don’t think that all of us are doing the nutty things they do in the Bible. I feel like sending them a message to the effect of, “BTW, we haven’t done any of this stuff in YEARS.”

This Voyager is probably going to come back with some useless discovery, like that Earthworms are not only on Earth or something, and scientists are going to fawn all over it, when what we really need to find is more convenient parking or a Miss Universe that really is from the universe, or decent pizza. It was such a disappointment when we learned that the moon was not made of cheese, but there are hundreds of stars out there and one of them must have a cheese planet in their solar system. I would like to be the first to land on a pizza planet, and plant the American flag. My speech: “That’s one small pie for me, one giant pie for mankind, now who ordered the one with anchovies?” Then I hop back on my spaceship, hurtling towards a planet made entirely of the one element that experts universally agree is necessary for human life: beer! I have always wanted to hurtle.

Incidentally, Voyager I photographed Jupiter closely in 1979. This was annoying to Jupiter since it showed the Great Red Spot on her surface in very unflattering lighting. On September 12th, 2013, it was determined that Voyager had reached the interstellar medium, which means that it has gained a few pounds. The interstellar medium is a mixture of ionic and atomic gas, along with dust particles and other matter. It is similar to the air surrounding Bill O’Reilly.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I recently attended a wedding (if you are in a suit you attend something, if not you just go) and I started thinking how much the event has evolved from when I got married. My wedding slithered along on these two things that looked like fins compared to weddings today. By the way isn’t Darwin’s theory ridiculous? If we really evolved from things that slithered along on two things that looked like fins, how come there are STILL things crawling around on two doohickys that look like fins? Shouldn’t they be humans by now instead of sitting there looking at their watch? Meanwhile my cat wakes up for 20 minutes out of the day, and he thinks, “this a-hole busts his balls for 12 hours including the commute and yet fully believes he is higher on the food chain than me. Speaking of food chain, what’s in the fridge?” Then he takes a little nap.

Sometimes, like when I see a baseball team that doesn’t have a facial hair dress code, I think we might be moving back in the other direction. In case we devolve back to fish, I make a note to practice my swimming, and I eat a bowl of plankton at lunch, although I do put Sweet ‘N Low on it.

Anyway, this affair was a “destination wedding,” at least according to my GPS. In picturesque Fairfax, Virginia, two fine young people were joined together in holy matrimony. None present could think of any reason why they should not, even though the groom was a Mets fan. I held my peace, although I can’t be expected to do that forever. The wedding was outdoors, the weather was perfect and the ceremony went off without a hitch, as Wilton Parmenter once eloquently said.

I remember sitting for all those damn photos after my own wedding: the muscles in my mouth started to quiver from holding a smile for 7 hours. I began to look like an evil maniac. I started to say things like, “So Mr. Bond, we meet again… and this time it looks as though the cards are in MY favor. Hahahahahaha… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” These days they just take the pictures and Photoshop the smiles in later.

During the cocktail hour they had a mashed potato bar, something I had never seen before. It was pretty good, but when I tried to order a Mash-hatten, a Spudweiser and a Tater-tini I got a dirty look.

The hostess kept coming up to the mother of the bride with administrative updates: “The potato bar ran long, so we need to shorten the father/daughter dance- just one father can dance by himself.”

When I looked out onto the dance floor and saw this assortment of young and old, I realized that we could really learn something from this as a society. The first thing I learned was that young people don’t really dance any better than old people. In fact some of the AARP crowd looked fairly elegant doing a waltz. The fact that they were waltzing to “The Thong Song” threw me at first.

The hostess appeared again: “The salads took too long so we are going to use short ribs instead of prime ribs.”

The bride did not throw a bouquet, nor did she invite anyone put any garters on her leg. Yeah, we skipped that one too at our wedding. I could picture any number of my friends either failing to install the garter correctly or failing to come back out from under the dress.

As the hours got smaller and glasses got emptier, the degree of difficulty in the dance moves increased, and people were having a hard time pulling them off. Once people form a circle and shame others into gyrating in ways they have only read about, it can get dangerous, especially for older people. Spinning about too fast causes centrifugal force to act in unpredictable ways, and I’m pretty sure I got hit with someone’s teeth. Another girl attempted a triple axel but failed to stick the landing.

One orphaned gal grabbed me for a dance, unaware that I am a lousy dancer. I could see by the look in her eyes that she had been disappointed by men before; possibly even by me before.

The reception sent a wave of memories flooding back for my wife and I. The main thing we remembered is that we couldn’t recall anything that happened after the toast.

The hostess materialized again and said, “The last dance ran over so I’m not going to be able to finish my sentenc”

Incidentally, there is an old wives tale that purports that the tradition of brides carrying bouquets started because in medieval times people bathed so infrequently that the flowers masked their ripe odor. This is most certainly false, but it could explain the tradition of wedding cake. A bride that smells like flowers is nice and everything, but imagine how attractive your betrothed would be if she smelled like cake??

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


This year following Superstorm Sandy my trip to the Jersey Shore took on important new meaning. I fashioned myself as a sort of good will ambassador, meaning that on any given day it looks like my clothes are from a Goodwill bin. I elevated myself to just short of saint status for supporting the New Jersey economy one Coors Light at a time.

On the Garden State Parkway I thought of a fantastic way to decrease the state's tax deficit: sliding-scale tolls. The faster you fly through the EZ Pass, the more money it costs you- if you want to blow through the toll at 70 mph, let it cost twenty-five bucks. I bet people would pay it to shave a half-hour off their time, especially if they have kids.

I arrived in Belmar and started the usual song and dance of finding a parking space. In the middle of summer it's hard to park any closer to the shore than Flemington. I double-parked with my emergency flashers on, then hit the beach so I could find a family that looked like they might be prone to have an accident of some sort that would cause them to leave.

"Dude- your kid looks like he might be sick," I helpfully interject, hoping to speed things up.
"Why did you think that's my kid? First of all he looks Oriental, even though he is
obviously useless in math, he sucks at sports except for things they don't offer scholarships in, like badminton, and look at that sand castle- he might be borderline retarded."
"That's not your kid?"
"It is my kid but from a previous marriage so I don't care about him as much."
"Oh. So you're not leaving? Incidentally you're not allowed to say 'Oriental' or 'retarded'
anymore. Or 'badminton.' You have to use the phrases, 'westerly-challenged,' 'Jets fan' and 'volleyball-retarded.'"

That was a failure so I make a couple more laps around the block in my car looking for someone I can follow to their car and wait for them to leave, but by mistake I follow someone who is speed-walking. I just assumed they were trying to lose me, and I ended up driving for four miles in the opposite direction from the beach.

When I got back even more spaces were taken. I saw a bunch of tree branches in front of a house and thought to myself, "holy crapezoids- they are still rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy!" But it was just some guy pruning his rhododendron. So I moved the branches aside, parked, then covered my car with the branches as camouflage.

It was time for my inspection of the beach, important work in this troubled time. They are trying to rebuild the dunes, so they roped off areas where they can grow the sea grass, and no one goes in there. I thought that it would be a great place to grow medicinal marijuana, since even the cops don't want to destroy ecology. Another great idea I had for New Jersey's finances- so far I am two for two.

I was thinking they could raise the price of a beach tag from $7.00 to 26 billion, that way they just need one guy to go to the beach and bingo: budget shortfall gone. An idea MACHINE I am.

I was assessing the damage to the shore from my beach chair/ office. I noticed minor erosion of the beach, but none affecting anyone's hair, nails or tits. There were fewer lifeguards due to salary cutbacks, so you had to swim within a two-foot sliver of surf. They could not afford whistles this year, so instead they just held up a sign that said, "If you can't see this you are TOO FAR OUT!"

I decided to stroll the beach and enjoy a nice quiet walk. The familiar scenes are comforting to me, a group of girls throwing a football around (none catch it though); toddlers running away from their parents, practicing for when they are teenagers; A young mother spraying so much suntan lotion onto her baby that when she goes to pick it up it squirts out of her hands and lands in somebody's bag of potato chips. I think that this place really is stronger than the storm, because it's the people that make a place so interesting, and I let myself get lost in the sights and sounds... Then I realized I really was lost since all beach umbrellas looked just like mine.

Incidentally, if you get caught in a riptide, you should swim parallel to the shore, preferably the one you came from. Don't try to fight the currents. It's like being mugged: don't try to be a hero, just give them your wallet, your jewelry, your iphone and any valuable sculptures you happen to be carrying. If you have any silverware fork that over too. Once you're free of all that crap life will seem simpler, and then you can just swim back to shore at a leisurely pace.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I like to make a memorable entrance to a party, and I want to do it NOW, before my friends get Alzheimer's and can't remember it. The best way is to come in with a BANG. That bang you heard was me parking my wife's car on top a small, medium-sized large rock. The rock itself wasn't that big, but it had a pointy top, and looked a little like that thing the Titanic ran into.

My intentions were good. There were a zillion cars parked in the driveway already, because we arrived late as usual. That is why whenever we ask, "What can we bring?" no one ever says hors d'oeuvres. I did not want to get involved in the whole driveway imbroglio. You should NEVER park in the driveway unless the host is a total a-hole with no friends.

So I do what I always do and say, "Honey, you get out here and I'll park the car somewhere safe." My wife already knows that my sense of danger is unparalleled, and so is my parking.

Meanwhile, this guy lives in the woods, where everybody thinks they're a big hero for not paving the road. That way their horses won't get a big pain in the asphalt, or whatever.

So the non-driveway parking options were limited at best. But I spotted the perfect Acura-sized clearing in the woods, like the Pilgrims had hewn it into the land just for me! The only potential problem was that rock sitting in the middle of it- it was more like something between a stone and a boulder.

I even got out to survey the rock. I did some quick calculations in my head, involving square roots, cosines and the Pythagorean Theorem. I got a 425 on my math SAT, so I didn't really know the Pythagorean Theorem from a hole in my ass.

I didn't want to get the car stuck in the soft Earth, so I revved the engine to about 6,000 RPMs and popped the clutch. I vaulted up the hill and would have launched the car into a treetop had I not planted the skidplate of the Acura dead center on top of the rock. If I had thought to factor the soft Earth idea into my calculations, I probably would have been okay. I put it into reverse, but by that time both wheels were spinning away on either side of the rock without a care in the world.

I got out of the car and panicked when I saw some smoke, but then I realized it was coming from my wife's ears. Yes she was angry with me, with that look that made me wonder if my organ donor card was properly filled out. I was angry too, with those dick-brains at Acura for designing a car with such crap ground-clearance.

I had this vision of a big hole in the oil pan, spewing bubbling crude as if Jed Clampett just shot a hole in it looking for some food. By the way, who looks for food by shooting holes in the goddamn ground?

My wife was already dialing AAA, or so I assumed, unless it was a good divorce lawyer in the event that the car wasn't the only thing on the rocks. I said no- let's try and get some of the party guests to help us push the car off the rock. I can't be the only idiot who has ever done this. My wife gave me that look that lets me know that she thinks I am something of a pioneer in the field of idiocy.

Since we're two and a half hours late, everyone is experiencing varying degrees of sobriety.

"Listen, folks, we're going to need some help, our car is on a rock."
"your car is in Iraq?"
"Oh man..."
"Not Oman- he said it's in Iraq...."
"No I ran it onto a rock."
"Iran? I thought you said it's in Oman?"

I immediately drank four beers so that we could all converse in the same language.

We recruited three volunteers to push the car, and approximately forty people followed us outside because they could not believe that we could pull this off without doing something life-threatening or mildly entertaining, or both.

Tom, sensing the opportunity to somehow extract his car from the driveway quagmire, started an avalanche of events that was nothing short of epic. At that moment, someone else had to leave the party. Three others had just arrived to the party, barricading both the driveway and the exit to my rock.

Everyone who was not involved in the rock fiasco was looking for whoever had the car that was blocking them in.

"Who brought the Cougar?"
"That's my wife, dipshit."
"Is that your Escort?"
"That's my wife's sister, fuckface."
"So you drove the Midget?"

"That's my kid, and I'm about to put your face where your ass used to be."

All of a sudden every vehicle, large and small, was fired up and moved 12 feet in whatever direction could most efficiently block the way of two other vehicles. Four other cars with no dog in the fight chose the exact moment to approach the area from different directions. It was a Rubik's cube of cars. It was a vehicular vortex. It was a motorized maelstrom.

Somebody's Dodge narrowly dodged a Ram, and vice-versa. Somebody's Mustang nearly ended up in a Rodeo. Somebody's Impala narrowly escaped a Safari.

The situation subsided for short window of opportunity, but there was an SUV with its lights on directly in back of my rock. When I looked in the driver's seat I noticed that she was using the valuable moment to floss her teeth while smoking a cigarette, something that I had not previously thought possible. I believe that she may have been dentally retarded.

We were finally ready to heave the car back onto level ground. There was much negotiation about exactly what "on the count of three" means. Not everyone at the party spoke perfect English, so the numbers also needed to be translated. I started the count: "One.... Two...." Everyone by that time was pretty tired of the whole operation and pushed the car off the rock before I even got to two-and-a-half.

It's a week later and my wife still gives me a derisive look when I tell the story, but say what you will; that rock is one of the few places I have parked that I didn't get a ticket.

Incidentally, the ground clearance of an Acura TSX is 5.9 inches.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Our siege of the Pacific Northwest continued as we rented a car to head down to Seattle. I wanted to use Enterprise car rental- “We’ll pick you up!” My plan was to call their office in Seattle, and tell them to pick us up in Vancouver. Enterprise had a few choice words about my plan, and I was surprised at some of their choices. Soon we were on the lovely Chuckanut Drive, which hugs the Washington coastline and ends up not far from the Skagit River, which, as our luck would have it, was where the Skagit River Bridge was sitting.

Our hotel was not far from the Puget waterfront. We walked over to catch the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square. It tells the story of one storey: After the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, the entire district was rebuilt on the second floor. Why? Because of the overflowing Crappers, of course. The new flushable commodes developed by Thomas Crapper backed up every time there was a tidal surge from the Puget Sound, creating a rat problem and a cholera nightmare. Now, a system of tunnels under the streets give access to the original brick facades of businesses long extinct.

We headed to Seattle Center and up the Space Needle, which doesn't have as much room as you would think, given the name. We returned on the monorail, another leftover from the 1962 World's Fair, when the idea of going four miles an hour seemed quite magical.

The Seattle Duck Tour was fun- a refurbished LST craft from World War II retrofitted with a quacking horn rolls through the city streets, then splashes into the water. How we would have frightened the Germans if we had only thought of the quacking horns in 1942. We trolled around Lake Washington, admiring great rear views of the skyline. We saw the huge houseboat where they filmed "Sleepless in Seattle." I wouldn't have gotten any sleep either- what if I forgot I was on a houseboat and went out to cut the lawn? Even worse because I have an electric mower.

We went to the famous Pike Place public market, where the merchants toss the fish around the stall with each order. No one was seriously injured but we didn't press our luck by going to the knife store.

Before hitting the road to Portland we stopped into the Seattle Aquarium, where we watched those ever-insouciant otters at play. They are always up to something, but I did beat one of them at a game of dice when the staff wasn’t looking. I won three fish and a watch.

In Portland, our last destination, we went out for a beer, which is an embarrassing undertaking. Did you want a wheat beer? What about a fruit selection, or one of our fine blonde ales? At the tavern we went through the entire list of what they were "pouring," from Eugene City Brewery Honey-Orange Wheat ale to Laurel Wood Organic Tree Hugger Porter. It was the first time I ever wished I was Archie Bunker.

On Wednesday we took a free walking tour through eastern downtown area. We learned much about the quirky lifestyle of Portlandia. The town was founded by two men from different cities, who flipped a coin to decide which one they would name it for. The other guy was from Boston, and if the coin had landed "tails," we would be standing in Boston, Oregon, and the traffic would be a hell of a lot worse.

From the Thompson Elk statue (which looks unlike an elk but much like a deer with a thyroid issue) to the Benson Bubblers (iconic public four-station water fountains found around the city), Portland abounds with whimsy. Did you know that in the mid-1800s visiting sailors were drugged, taken captive and forced aboard ships bound for China to work as slave crewmen? That is where the term "Shanghaied" originated, and parts of the underground "Shanghai Tunnels" where these men were kept are still there. I’m not sure the expression would have survived had the men been taken instead to the town of Cockermouth in England.

We rented bicycles for our ride through Washington Park. And by ride I mean that I pushed the bikes up massive hills while my wife cursed at me in a foreign language she does not even speak.

The Rose Garden at Washington Park is a test garden, which is like a zoo for different varieties from around the world. It must have been a multiple choice test, because there were zillions of them, all hoping to someday be in the tournament of roses, where they all get together and try to kill each other. Here we were able to stop and smell the roses; so much different than Seattle, where you wake up and smell the coffee.

A formal Japanese Garden is also an attraction at the park, and it is a great place for contemplation and deep thought. Here, as I reflected near the Poetry Stone I wondered: does Eastern philosophy make me look fat??

We had lunch at one of over 400 of Portland's famous food trucks, of every origin and flavor. My favorite was the Ethiopian food truck. As far as I ever knew, there IS no food in Ethiopia. People eat truck tires and suck sap out of trees with a straw to survive. Whatever food WAS left is now sitting in this A-hole's food cart in Portland.

What trip to Portland would be complete without a trip to Powell's Bookstore? The place is like a library, with over one million titles. They do not carry the whole book, just the title.

Thursday we walked the lovely waterfront of the Willamette River, a lovely name to call your river if it’s a girl. There was a Navy PT boat being refurbished, and veteran Ron Taylor gave me a fantastic tour of the work they were doing on the hull, and of the craft's power plant. Especially intriguing was the torpedo, which had its own compressed-air turbine engine, and spun two propellers in opposite directions for stability. I tapped it on the nose with a ball-peen hammer just for fun to see if it was armed. It was, and we were all blown to smithereens.

Vancouver was originally known as “Gastown,” a reference to “Gassy” Jack Deighton, who ran a popular tavern in the late 1800s. I case you are wondering, his nickname referred to his talkative nature, thus the gas exited from the front.


Monday, June 24, 2013


This year’s spring vacation to the Pacific Northwest started in Calgary. FYI, no airline will fly directly to Calgary; you have to kind of sneak up on it. We had a stopover at Salt Lake City, where we stocked up on a couple extra wives at the airport.

After a few delays we finally made it to Calgary, where we toured Prince’s Island Park and caught a birds-eye view of the city from the Calgary Tower, then had dinner and drinks at a nice sports bar, which is a total misnomer in Canada, since they only recognize ONE sport. There were approximately 200 TV screens there, all of which had the hockey game on, even though none were Canadian teams. It's amazing how much they can find to talk about in a 1-0 game.

The next morning we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer, the sightseeing train heading west to Vancouver. Through a lucky circumstance, we were literally upgraded to the upper seats of the car, with the domed plexiglass roof. As we wound our way through tunnels, bridges and outposts we took in views that you just can't fully appreciate any other way than by rail.

The majestic Rocky Mountains loomed in the distance, and soon we were chugging our way among them. We photographed a hundred beautiful panoramas of picturesque towns, mountain scenes and river valleys, each shot more gorges than the next.

Our tour guides instructed us to shout out when we saw any type of wildlife, and for a while things were so bleak that when somebody announced that there was a bee in the bathroom we all went down there with our cameras. But soon elk, osprey and eagle sightings were commonplace, and I thought I saw a black bear giving us the finger at one point.

We learned much about the history of First Passage to the West, and how difficult it was to finish the railroad that would open up trade and expansion, taking Canada from a series of fur trading posts to the series of larger fur trading posts that it now is. By the way if skunk fur ever becomes popular my house is sitting on a virtual gold mine.

We stopped overnight in Kamloops, which I never heard of, but I can tell you that whatever a Kamloop is, this place is hardly big enough for more than one. Meteorologically, it is a semi-arid desert, which means that it only rains when WE are there.

During the next day's leg of the journey it was announced that there would be a poetry contest. I figured I was a shoo-in, since I am a sensitive and subtle individual. To me poetry is a perfect art form, like jazz, where you can do whatever the hell you want and get away with it. Where else can you write some A-hole thing like, "A rose is a rose is a rose," and people think you're a frigging genius? So to make a long poem short, I won, even though I had to restrain myself from starting the poem, "There once was a lady from Dallas...."

In Vancouver, where it is extremely difficult to tell which people are the homeless and which people are simply eccentric people with no place to live and nothing to do, we took advantage of the compact downtown area to walk everywhere we wanted to go. We toured the famous Granville Island Market, with its myriad stalls and crafts shops. You hardly need a map there to get around; just close your eyes and let your nose act as your GPS. Mine directed me past the fresh fish (REALLY fresh- one tried to pinch me on the ass), through the cheese aisle (where I immediately embarrassed the guy who cuts the cheese), the florist and finally to the chocolatier! My nose is no idiot, although I did bump into three other noses headed in the same direction.

Later, we strolled through Chinatown to find a spot for dinner, even though it was past 10. Nothing was open so we asked a big, burly delivery guy where a good restaurant was. He told us to walk as fast as we could in the opposite direction- this area is “brutal!”

We took in the Eli Young Band at the Vogue theater- a good young band who has come a long way in a short time. “Follow your dreams,” Mike Eli said to the young audience who stood up for the whole performance. I would add: unless it’s the one where I fall out of the bed.

Incidentally, Chinatown in Vancouver was originally settled by railroad workers imported from California. The Canada Pacific Railroad needed 10,000 workers to complete the construction of the line, much more than the early populations of British Columbia could provide. They made a dollar a day for their toil, but it was many times more than they would have earned in their homeland. As many as a third did not live to return to China, succumbing to disease, explosives or simply the rigors of the job. The Vancouver Chinatown is considered the second largest Chinatown in North America, smaller only than New York’s. This estimation is based on population rather than height.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Every year at about this time my asthma starts acting up, my head becomes congested and my nose starts running, and I have to walk faster to keep up with it. At first I thought it was allergies, or maybe I caught a cold. With me it’s hard to tell, since I am allergic to people with colds. But then I realized the real cause: the onset of the Tourist Season. My symptoms were psychosomatic, my way of processing the misery and frustration of dealing with millions of foreigners clogging up the streets of New York City. It’s bad enough in the winter, when millions of foreigners clog up the streets of New York City- they are the ones that live here; in a month or so they’ll be gone for the summer, either to the Hamptons or upstate New York where there is an inpatient rehab facility. But for the meantime we are all here together, struggling to co-exist in a barren, post-apocalyptic world (in case you haven’t noticed I am thinking of pitching this as a movie treatment).

By the way, aren’t all head colds psychosomatic since the symptoms are all in your head?

There are several ways to recognize which people are tourists. First, they are always travelling in the opposite direction than the rest of civilized society. People say that firefighters are heroic because they are the ones rushing into a burning building when everyone else is rushing out. Well tourists are just as heroic; if a building is on fire it’s the best time to go- there will hardly be any crowds.

Secondly, they are holding an expensive camera. No native New Yorker would ever own a camera that only takes pictures and can’t call anybody. I see a dad taking a photo of the Empire State Building, but unfortunately his family is cluttering up the frame. He is struggling to get everyone in plus all 102 storeys of the skyscraper. I decide to help by telling him that he can compose the shot better if he takes the picture from Hoboken.

Sometimes I see a group that has to take five separate photos, each one missing the member that is snapping the portrait. I offer to take the photo so that they can all be in it, but they are worried that I will run off with their Nikon, so I offer to let them hold my driver’s license, which they notice is suspended. They ask if I have any outstanding warrants. Of course I am flattered, but I modestly insist that they are just run-of-the-mill.

If I am left to take their photo with an iphone, ipad or ipod, that’s where I start to worry. I can never find the ibutton that takes the ipicture, and then the iflash never goes off and i get an ilook from the wife, who is rolling her i’s at me. I heard something click- it was either me snapping the image or dialing 911. I tell them to check and see if the photo is there- if it’s not, start pretending you’re having a heart attack- I don’t have time to explain.

Thirdly, they are usually consulting a map, and often the map is upside down. The husband is pointing vigorously, and the woman is shaking her head in an exasperated fashion, the international symbol for, “That’s where we JUST WERE, you nut. I never should have married an Azerbaijan, but that’s all they have in Azerbaijania or whatever the hell it’s called.” When I see a scene like this I seize the opportunity for help, and I walk over and grab the map. I have never figured out where the subway entrance is on 57th Street, so I thank them and give them their map back.

Last and most importantly, their clothes. For instance, I see a man wearing tight blue jeans with the cuffs rolled up, carrying a purse. I ask him if he is gay or straight. He looks at me closely, assessing my appearance, attractiveness and motivation, and says, “Straight.” Then I know he is a tourist, or someone with only average taste in men.
Incidentally, the man who founded the taxi company that is responsible for the yellow cars that Manhattan has become famous for was none other than John D. Hertz, who went on to rental car fame. He called his yellow cab company, not surprisingly, the Yellow Cab Company. Started in Chicago in 1915, the franchise became iconic in New York City. The rumor is that Hertz, a Hungarian immigrant born Sandor Herz, read that yellow was the easiest color for the eye to see. I would have found more information on the study, had it been written in yellow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Sometimes people ask me if I’m in a band or doing anything musically. The answer is that I’ve been holed up in my basement recording my music. Apparently I am the only one in their basement who hasn’t killed or kidnapped anyone, but that’s mostly due to lack of space. So here is a four-song EP from the Rickster & the Nefarians basement tapes, and this is a self-indulgent blog about it. If you check them out please listen with headphones and NOT on laptop speakers, you have to promise me. My production values will suffer irretrievably otherwise.

Two of these I finally just finished; I always joke that I write the melody and arrangement of the song in about 20 minutes, then finishing the lyrics takes 2 1/2 years. I always think my lyrics are horrible, and I beat myself over the head with a two-by-four, then I hear a song by Steve Miller or Neil Diamond, with those ULTRA horrible lyrics, and I think of how much money they made, and I have to go look for the two-by-four again.

But I finally finished the lyrics, and I'll tell you a little secret: I have a new theory about writing them and it's much faster. I call it the Donald Fagen method. Lyrics in Steely Dan songs I most admire. I know them all by heart, even though I can't remember ANY words to ANY songs by anyone else, even my own. I listen to The Royal Scam, all nine minutes or whatever it is and at the end of the song I go, "Wow- that was a hell of a story. What was it again?" So my new approach is to think of a good tale to tell, then don't tell it. Let the listener figure it out. If you asked me what the song was about (I doubt you would) I would tell you, but it would probably change every time I told it.

Another thing is that I always notice that I can't sing AFTER the damn song is recorded, when it’s too late. At the time it sounds fine, usually because I have been drinking before just about every vocal track. My voice needs to be loose, like the rubber band that holds your asparagus together. Once it's loose, I realize that something like my voice should not be running around loose. On some songs I sound actually pretty good, but that is almost always in the shower, where it is dangerous to record.

The notes give me trouble are never the ones I thought would be difficult. The high note on Play it Again was the easiest one to sing on key, and a random stinking little note in the middle gave me fits and it's still not quite right.

I always thought I could sing on key, but I double my vocal tracks in who Needs Love, and I found that I couldn't sing it twice exactly the same. I ended up leaving it alone because I liked the detuned effect, kind of like a flanger.

I understand the production values are quite unprofessional. They say that only a poor craftsman blames his tools. That is only for craftsmen, not musicians of course. I blame my poor equipment for my poor sound.

The drums are the hardest to mike well; aside from the wide dynamic range, the tonal spectrum is difficult, from the bass drum to the high frequency of the cymbal's overtones. And because it's the first one you record, you have to have the whole song in your imagination before it has been recorded. Usually I play a guitar track to a metronome, then record the drums while I listen to that in my headphones.

The process of putting all the layers of the tracks together is my favorite part, and the satisfying thing is that they usually come out exactly as I have them in my head. Whatever it is in my head may be good or bad, but it's pretty cool to have something in mind and realize it to its fruition. I wish I could do the same thing with fruit.

I like the songs themselves, and the arrangements, once I get past the vocals and the non-professional sound. I include Real Life from my Real Life television cable access show from the 90's as a contrast. That was recorded in my friend Doug's studio, and mastered very well I thought. By the way I like my lead break in that one, I think it's the best one I ever did. I have to play the lead break exactly as I have it in my head, or I could never learn it- I am not a deft enough guitarist.

I do believe that in another lifetime I may have made a good producer. If I was a cat I would spend four of my lives as a producer. The first two I would spend as a tightrope walker and an explosives detonation squad member. I might as well, since I have seven other lives in the bank. People would say, "He is a damned good producer, for a cat, even though he can only communicate by taking a dump in different parts of the room and leaving us to figure out what he meant. But you can't argue with the sound."

Incidentally, the videos are silly, but you need to have something on Youtube these days to link to everything else (Blogspot does not link to MP3s for example). I wanted to do a video that would be quick and easy (they were neither). I did not show my face for obvious reasons if you have seen my face. Most of the photos in the backgrounds are pretty landscapes that my wife photographed. I would love to hear a comment if you care to leave one here or at Youtube. I understand if you cannot be reached for comment at this time.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Every year Cinderella makes it to the ball, but it’s hard to dance wearing only one shoe. People love to root for the underdog, and then when the underdog wins they’re left with a bracket sheet suitable for doggy’s house-training. Those number two and three seeds fell like hotcakes in the first & second rounds.  You probably think I mixed up my metaphors when I mention the hotcakes but you’ve never seen me make breakfast.

By the way don’t you think Cinderella was brave to wear glass slipper? If it breaks the handsome prince is going to get grossed out by all the blood. Also unrelated: Did you ever drink champagne from a ladies shoe as a gesture of adoration? I tried it just to see without telling my wife; it was cheap champagne so the flavor was actually enhanced, but she complained about her wet shoe and I had to make something up that was even worse than the champagne. Next time I want to get romantic I’m going to make a bong out of it instead.

Anyway, everybody’s brackets were toast by the second weekend of the tournament. Ironically the shooting percentage of people hitting the wastepaper basket with their crumpled bracket sheets far exceeded that of players on the favored teams. MY prognostications, however, stood up remarkably well. I don’t like to toot my own horn unless my wife is away for the weekend, but three of my Final Four teams are in, the only one I missed being Wichita State. 14 people chose Wichita State in the semis, all moms whose sons are on the team.

March is a great time for lesser-known schools to do some much needed public relations. For instance, the last time Wichita was mentioned out loud was in 1968 during a Glen Campbell song. The school is called Wichita State, but which state? Both Texas and Kansas have Wichita Counties.

FGC hit the sports pages with stunning upsets over Georgetown and San Diego State. The school is located on the beach, and the coach is married to a former Maxim Magazine cover model. By the way, FGC stands for “Florida Golf Course.”

Then of course there are the team nicknames: some teams are named for birds, such as the Lousville Cardinals or Creighton Blue Jays. A St. Louis player is known as a “Billiken.” I’m not sure what that is, but I think I was almost attacked by one in Key West one time. St. Mary’s missed the perfect opportunity to call their team the Virgins, and settled for the Gaels instead. So many teams were named the “Tigers” that the things couldn’t possibly be endangered. Southern University fields the “Jaguars,” named after the car.

The “feel good” story of the tournament was undoubtedly the aftermath of the compound fracture to Louisville player Kevin Ware, although it probably didn’t “feel good” to him. The injury was gruesome, but his courage during the mishap showed what he was made of. Next time I don’t really need to SEE what he was made of, you could just tell me about it.

This year there were a lot of teams that realized that they were not going to get too deep into the tournament, and decided to make a big splash based on the ugliness of their uniforms. One team (it was not Army) sported a camouflage motif, as if an enemy might suddenly attack and possibly control a strategically located basketball arena. Other squads, probably with an athletic director that went to college during the ‘70s, opted for “day-glo” colors, which look particularly groovy under an ultraviolet light. These uniforms are best enjoyed in conjunction with a bag of Fritos, a Jimi Hendrix poster, and about an ounce of pot. One team, I think it was Cincinnati, debuted an outfit that looked like the players had jumped into a vat of mucilage then rolled around on the floor after a New Year’s Eve party. I was at a New Year’s Eve party this year, but I steered clear of the mucilage vat.

Incidentally, the sports team nickname for my alma mater, Syracuse, is the “Orange.” During the reign of Netherland’s King William III of the House of Orange, Albany, New York was known as Fort Orange. Nassau, Bahamas and Nassau, Long Island were also named in honor of his family’s heritage. On behalf of his wife, Queen Mary, the College of William and Mary was also endowed in 1683, the second oldest American college. Syracuse apparently had nothing to do with any of that, they just liked the color.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The Papal Conclave has begun, and people seem pretty revved up about it. They love their religions, and they are fiercely protective of them. People of different faiths are warring all over the world, because they have faith that their faith is more faithful than your faith. Sure, they may commit an atrocity or two here and there but it’s absolutely okay, since God rules much the same as my parents did: “Go play outside and don’t do anything stupid.” Religions only exist because no one wants to believe that after you die is probably not that much different than before you were born. So everyone is struggling to make a good impression before judgment day.

And now the Papal Conclave will sequester itself for a period of time, and the cardinals will finally emerge as a butterfly. Or am I thinking of a pupa? No matter.

What people do agree on is that the church is going to have to change with the times in order to survive. How will the church move into the 17th Century and remain relevant? Should Catholics practice birth control even if they are good at it? Should there be women priests? Should there be male nuns? Should the church allow abortion, especially for couples who meet on Christian Mingle? Do we want a more active pope or just a guy sitting around pontificating?

What about the pope’s mode of dress? The hat makes him appear taller, which is good. But the chasuble is not very slimming. How about in addition to papal vestment, a papal sweater-vestment? Maybe a fleece (like Governor Christie’s) that reads, “POPE, World Spiritual Leader.”

Also, how do we deal with the miracle situation? These days, there are security cameras EVERYWHERE, and when somebody says that they parted the Red Sea, you can just check the video tape, and BANG, it’s only a fat guy doing a can-opener into the deep end. Looking back at the paintings, it’s obvious that Moses can’t even part his hair, let alone the Red Sea.

During the conclave, rising out of the Vatican will be either black smoke signifying that they have not elected a pope, white smoke signifying that they have, or blue smoke signifying that one of the cardinals has accidentally lit their hair on fire.

Rumors flew that Regis Philbin or Dennis Rodman might be elected. Archbishop Dolan was considered, but in the end, seemed just a little too happy to be at the party, as if he might put a whoopee cushion under somebody’s seat.

On TV they showed a ceremony where all the cardinals stand in line for about 45 minutes so they can touch a page of the bible. This takes place in the Sistine Chapel, which I visited once. It was an incredible sight, or so I am told. I couldn’t see anything since they keep the lighting at the level of dusk, so that Michelangelo’s ceiling will be preserved. The whole scene is very serene, and very peaceful, except for a security guard yelling, ‘NO PHOTO! NO VIDEO!!!!”

Just getting into the place was hard enough, since they have a strict dress code. Once we cracked the code, we realized my wife’s dress was too short, and she had to buy a pair of paper pants for five dollars. Inside, every single work of art contains either a nude woman or a little baby penis, so go figure. Walking around in paper pants with all those candles around, they must lose a couple hundred tourists a year to spontaneous combustion.

During the conclave the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel were brightly lit for the television cameras, and seeing them thus, they seem a little gaudy- maybe it’s time to redecorate? Maybe something a little less busy up there.

Then it happened: The new pope was elected. The crowd in St. Peter’s Square erupted in rapturous rejoicing because they now had a new spiritual leader. Thank goodness, because for two days I noticed a lot of unled spirits heading for the casino, or over to Goldfinger’s. Especially excited was the Argentinian contingent, who thought that soccer was somehow involved. I see no pressing reason to rejoice. I joiced once and see no reason to do it again.

This man is now one of the most powerful people in the free world. He can go anywhere he wants at any time, travel in a bulletproof glass vehicle that also has little saws that come out of the wheel hubs that can flatten the tires of any enemy vehicle that pulls up next to it, although I may be confusing that part with a James Bond movie.

He can say anything he wants at any time and no one will question him, unless they want to know what the heck he said, since he talks in Latin. Nobody but the pope speaks Latin anymore, despite the fact that everyone listens to Latin music.

Now the pope is now waiting to be installed, which is a union job. The Pope is always so old that if you look closely, you realize that during any speech he is screwed to the podium by about twelve toggle bolts, or else he would keel right over.

It all seems like a bunch of silliness to me, but the bottom line is I am keeping my options open, depending on how things are going when I am about to drop dead. I may rot in hell in one religion, but be reincarnated as Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer in another.

Incidentally, Catholics recognize St. Peter as the first pope, unless he is wearing a disguise. The term “pope” comes from the Latin word for “father,” and did not come into use until 366 AD. At least 20 popes were martyrs, which means that they were killed because of their religious beliefs. By the way one of their religious beliefs was that people should never be killed because of their religious beliefs. Another 14 popes were “allegedly” murdered, meaning that it was difficult to tell if they were actually dead.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Valentine’s Day came and went, and I wanted to share a little bit of the magic with you.

Of course somebody brought those little candy hearts to work. I took one, but couldn’t read what it said without my glasses- I think it was, “Happy Valentine’s Day: You’re OLD.” What a challenge it must be to find meaningful phrases to print on those candies. It has to be succinct- whatever diatribe you put on Twitter in 140 characters is “War and Peace” compared to what you have to work with here. It can’t be too gender-specific, so “I HEART THE KNICKS!” could fall into the wrong hands.

Some of them have changed with the times- I saw “TEXT ME.” Don’t be so quick to replace “FAX ME” for those of us who do not text. Don’t forget the cover page.

The traditional messages still get right to the point: “BE MINE,” “KISS ME,” “LOVE YOU.” One said “LOVE HER.” Interesting, could be for a lesbian. I saw one that said, “PICK ME,” which may have been sent to me by my nose. I picture a big fat guy with a beard and a tattoo stamping these little hearts with tender messages. By the way, his aim is not too good. One just said “HAPPY.” Either fill in the blank yourself or maybe it could be secret love messages to the seven dwarfs. “WILL YOU BE MINE” is nice, but makes it seem like ownership of you could be transferred by next February.

How about we get a little more realistic with the phrases. “ORAL PLEASE!” or “DO ME” work nicely for both men & women. How about, “EMBEZZLE WITH ME!” I think “embezzle” is a cute, fuzzy-sounding word.

Giving candy for Valentine’s Day says to a woman: “I may or may not love you fat, we’ll see.”
Flowers are always a hit because they symbolize all that is alive and vibrant and colorful about a woman. Don’t read too much into the fact that the posies are dead in two days.

I prefer to give the gift of myself for Valentine’s Day, and do something fun with my wife. Once I thought it would be fun to go to the Botanical Gardens, we had never been. Here’s the thing: surprisingly little is in bloom in February. They did have a wonderful exhibit called, “Dead Things that are Still Beautiful,” or something like that.

I will take my Valentine to dinner for sure. But not every relationship is in full bloom when Valentine’s Day happens to come around. Some are on the upswing, and some in rapid decline, like a home that is just about to be foreclosed upon. The pressure of spending an entire meal together might be the last thing they need, and by the time they are done with the salad fork they have separate checks and separate cabs.

How about a movie? Careful. Once I took the Mrs. to a Coen brothers film. Rated 4 stars, seemed campy, what’s not to like? Well it turned out “No Country for Old Men” was not really a chick flick. We enjoyed some romantic moments during the trailers, but after that, one body after another dropped dead with alarming frequency, and I got a special look from my Valentine that said, “Yours will be the last body they scrape off the floor with the used gum.” From now on the perfect date movie is porno.

I also remember to give a card, and I slip a five dollar bill in there too, so she can pick up something just for her. We made Valentines in elementary school, a skill that I have honed during the years. I learned to write whatever sensitive feelings I had at the time, such as: “Roses are red, violets are blue, in which case why did they call them violets?” You had to make a card for everyone in the whole class (maybe even the boys? I can’t remember), when who I really wanted was the teacher, Mrs. Franz. Even as a kid I could tell she was harboring some smoldering secrets. I was kind of a teacher’s pet, which was why I had to eat from a separate bowl. I ended up with this friggin’ assembly line of red construction paper, doilies & glitter; back then there were no robotics. By the 25th one my handwriting was so illegible it either said, “Be My Valentine” or “Belly Vaseline.”

So if you forgot Valentine’s Day it’s certainly not too late. Well actually it is; I just found this out the hard way. So if you forgot too, just do what I did, and say, “Baby, to me EVERY day with you is Valentine’s Day!” Then RUN LIKE HELL. By the way, before you give the gift of yourself, first find out if she might prefer candy.

Incidentally, based on my hasty hagiography, Saint Valentine died on February 14th  (no one seems to remember the year). When people celebrate the day of your death it makes me think that they didn’t really like you as much as you thought. He died on the Via Flaminia in Rome, and I can vouch that the traffic on that road is murder. Saint Valentine is traditionally associated with the concept of “courtly love,” which essentially refers to hanky-panky between members of royalty and women not their wives. Courtly love these days usually results in a number of court appearances.

Monday, February 11, 2013


I like to go out and have a cocktail on a Friday night, but I can't stand the fact that everyone at the bar is half my age, and they seem disdainful that people older than they are cluttering up the place. I feel vaguely like a chaperon for a school field trip, like I should be over near the door checking everyone’s permission slip. Every generation thinks that they will be the first one not to age.

So I Googled "over 30 bars," and through the magic of the internet, over thirty bars came up. I changed the search to “bars for older alcoholics and/or people that don’t know how to use their own cell phones” and came up with a bunch of jazz bars and wine bars, totally inappropriate for me. I ended up at the same place I usually go, and I realized that “over-30” is still 20 years younger than I am.

Once in a while I see a mother out with her daughter for one of their birthdays, posing for self-photography with an outstretched camera, a timeless memento featuring both of their faces and one of their forearms. Mom looks at me as if I was planning to eat her young, and I scoff at her. I’m not going to eat your stupid baby, lady, I have gum.

I asked a girl if she wanted to dance, and to my surprise she said yes. She was pretty good at it so I watched her for a while, then found myself a beer at the bar. I don't dance very often, usually only if someone is shooting at my feet, or if a Michael Jackson song comes on, an old one that he recorded when he was still alive. It always amazes me how many songs people come out with after they are dead. I flail around on the dance floor in a haphazard way, moving various body parts to perfect rhythm in conflicting and disturbing directions, like a traffic cop at a twelve-way intersection.

In the tiny bathroom I am trying not to make eye contact with the attendant; the bathroom is
THE most inappropriate place for small talk (“Sooooo… How’s it hangin’????). I wash my hands and he hands me a paper towel. I tip him a dollar and I realize that paper towels in nightclub men's rooms are the most expensive anywhere. He looked thankful that the bathroom did not have a hand blower instead. What would I tip him for a blow in a nightclub men's room? Remind me to look that up somehow.

A chick came up to me and yelled, "TOM PETTY!" Jesus, really? Have you taken a good look at
Tom Petty? I may have the hair, but the guy has buck teeth and no chin; he looks like a chipmunk. No offense, because he is one of the most prolific songwriters of my time (Tom Petty, not the chipmunk), and when all is said and done people will realize how many great hit songs he had. They will also realize how little we got done.

I'm always getting told I look like a famous person. Someone once said I looked like Todd Rundgren. Seriously- Todd has a long, rubbery face that looks like it was made of Play-Doh then left for many years on a planet that has much more gravity than ours. The last time I saw him he was wearing a skirt, which was fine, but for god’s sake SHAVE YOUR LEGS. A guy recently said that I look like Paul McCartney, and I’m not kidding you can ask my wife. The only thing I have in common with Paul McCartney is that during the 70s we were both rumored to have been dead. Even a cartoon character I apparently look like: Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Where are You? I had an animated response to that one. A couple times I was told I look like the guy from “Dumb and Dumber.” “Jim Carrey?” I asked. “No, the dumber one.” Thanks.

Incidentally, the part of Scooby-Doo was played by voice actor Don Messick. “Mom! Guess what! I got the title lead in a network show!” Not content with that, he landed several other major network characters, notably, Astro the dog in The Jetsons, Muttley the dog in Wacky Races and Boo Boo the bear in Yogi Bear. Scooby-Doo’s name was originally to be Too Much, but programming executive Fred Silverman changed it, reportedly after Frank Sinatra’s scatty ending to “Strangers in the Night.” Thank goodness Fred Silverman was not a huge Little Richard fan, or the show would have been named Whomp Bomp a-loo-Bomp, a Lomp Bam Boom, Where are You?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Let’s take time out this New Year to be thankful for the many wonderful things that happened in 2012. They were truly a blessing, but to be honest I don’t remember any of them. What I DO remember are the weird, wacky and wild stories that made us all cringe, the ones that made you glad that you were not vacationing in a foreign country when they broke, so that you didn’t have to fake a bad British accent so that people wouldn’t point a finger at you and whisper something snide in another language. Let’s relive those moments.

The Tanning Mom
If you could picture a catcher’s mitt with bright coral pink lipstick, you still couldn’t do justice to that face, a face incredulous against the scrutiny of a “concerned public,” a face that anthropologists long believed existed but never had seen. After this story, it was apparent to most responsible Americans that all catcher’s gloves should have coral pink lipstick on them so you can see where the hell you are throwing the ball.

Clint Eastwood Talks to Empty Chair at Republican Convention
No one has ever mentioned the possibility that someone had been sitting in the chair, and that after Eastwood rattled on for about 20 minutes about nothing, got up and left. I call him Chairman of the Bored.

“Fifty Shades of Grey”
When I first heard about this, I thought it was a book about my hair. Instead, it’s about a woman who falls in love with a 26 year-old billionaire who spanks her. I laughed, I cried, I was never the same afterwards, and that was just doing my taxes; I haven’t read the book. By the way, I have never seen a woman reading the actual book. Instead, they read it on Kindle, where you every book looks the same as “War and Peace.” I once had a girlfriend who was into that kind of B & D stuff- she eventually gave me a restraining order and I didn’t’ know what to do.

Squid Inseminates Woman
While eating a partially boiled squid in North Korea, a woman reported a burning sensation in her mouth, and went to the hospital. There doctors found that the squid had squirted its spermatophores into her cheeks. If she had eaten an ovulating female squid right before that, she would soon be expecting the pitter-patter of little tentacles around the house. At least she took the squid to dinner first. By far the most disgusting aspect of this story is that the squid must have been SUPER turned on by being eaten, and it was the strangest sexual experience the squid had had this year, except for a couple of dates from ChristianMingle.Com.

Lindsay Lohan Breaks Every Law in Alphabetical Order
This was not a great year for the struggling actress, but it turns out to be a FANTASTIC year for her lawyer. Her usual defense is that she is a target for those looking to get their “15 minutes of fame” by picking a fight with her. Lindsay is smarter than that now, and never spends more than 10 minutes in any one place. Overall, she has been sentenced to 186,452 hours of community service. But have you seen her community? The place is SPOTLESS! Every weed in the park is plucked individually with an eyelash tweezer.

Daredevil Jumps to Earth from Stratosphere
In October stuntman Felix Baumgartner became the first man to jump out of a balloon in outer space and fall safely to Earth. It was thought that he may burn up when passing through the blogosphere and Twittersphere, or that he might spin out of control like a Kanye West quote and be powerless to right himself, or that at the last minute someone might stick a trampoline underneath him, sending him back into space. The jump, however, was successful, and upon reaching the ground without incident his first words were, “I just KNEW my luggage was somehow going to end up at La Guardia.”

Tightrope Walker Traverses Niagara Falls
When I read my own headline I thought: OMIGOD he fell? But then I remembered he did not; Nik Wallenda became the first man to cross directly over Niagara Falls, the voice of his father calmly talking him through. How Dad resisted the urge to yell, “LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU! HAHAHAHA!” I will never know. Wallenda was forced to use a safety tether by ABC, who threatened to refuse to televise the event otherwise. He made the journey across to Canada without mishap, but then was killed by the mob when they found out he was wearing a wire.

Incidentally, the most talked-about story of the year is one which thankfully did not take place. On December 21st the end of the world was scheduled on the Mayan calendar. The Mayans actually used a system of three calendars, the Haab, a 19-month, 365-day solar count, the Tzolkin, a 260-day system, and the Long Count, which was used to track longer term astronomical events.  Naturally most Mayans put off their Christmas shopping until the last minute. Many people spent the 21st in bomb shelters, hoping that it would only be the end of the TOP of the world. Others phoned up girls that they normally would have NO SHOT with, hoping to catch them at a vulnerable moment. There are still approximately sixty-two ends of the worlds that we still have to get through, predicted by various prognosticators. By the way, “Congress Appreciation Day” is also on the Mayan calendar, and that never happened either.