Sep 302012

As I’ve said numerous times while pimping out my book, there is all flavor of jerk out there, including lovable. And there may be no better example of this than legendary showman, P.T. Barnum.

Barnum is known as “Prince of Humbug,” but I’m not sure everyone knows what that the means any more. “Humbug,” as Barnum referred to it, was excessive hype or publicity, often related to a hoax or in jest.

When most hear the term nowadays, they tend to think of Ebenezer Scrooge and his famous line, “Bah, humbug!”—Scrooge was suggesting that Christmas was overhyped. (Way ahead of his time, obviously.) But somewhere along the line, the word has changed meaning, gaining a more negative connotation. When used now, it seemingly suggests that rather than trafficking in humbug, someone is a humbug, i.e., that they are Scrooge-like in their behavior. “Don’t be a humbug,” as in “Don’t be a grouch about Christmas.”

Anyway, Barnum’s more “pure” version of humbug revolved around hype, and his personal view on it was that any amount of publicity—be it truthful or not—was okay, as long as those being hyped received some sort of value or entertainment in the end, even if it wasn’t exactly what was promised.

Barnum lived one of the most interesting and well-documented lives in American history—he wrote his autobiography in 1855 and continually updated it in subsequent printings—so I had *a lot* of material to consider for his chapter. One thing I didn’t have space to include was his relationship with his grandfather.

In his memoirs, he wrote of his grandfather, saying: “My grandfather would go farther, wait longer, work harder, and contrive deeper, to carry out a practical joke, than for anything else under heaven.”

Here’s an excerpt from Barnum’s autobiography to show how that maybe it was genetics that led him to become a lovable jerk.

Previous to my visit to New York, I think it was in 1820, when I was ten years of age, I made my first expedition to my landed property, “ Ivy Island.” From the time when I was four years old I was continually hearing of this ” property.“ My grandfather always spoke of me (in my presence) to the neighbors and to strangers as the richest child in town, since I owned the whole of ”Ivy Island,” one of the most valuable farms in the State. My father and mother frequently reminded me of my wealth and hoped I would do something for the family when I attained my majority. The neighbors professed to fear that I might refuse to play with their children because I had inherited so large a property.

These constant allusions, for several years, to “Ivy Island ” excited at once my pride and my curiosity and stimulated me to implore my father’s permission to visit my property. At last, he promised I should do so in a few days, as we should be getting some hay near “Ivy Island.” The wished for day arrived and my father told me that as we were to mow an adjoining meadow, I might visit my property in company with the hired man during the “nooning.” My grandfather reminded me that it was to his bounty I was indebted for this wealth, and that had not my name been Phineas I might never have been proprietor of “Ivy Island.” To this my mother added :

“Now, Taylor, don’t become so excited when you see your property as to let your joy make you sick, for remember, rich as you are, that it will be eleven years before you can come into possession of your fortune.”

She added much more good advice, to all of which I promised to be calm and reasonable and not to allow my pride to prevent me from speaking to my brothers and sisters when I returned home.

When we arrived at the meadow, which was in that part of the “Plum Trees” known as “East Swamp,” I asked my father where “Ivy Island” was.

“Yonder, at the north end of this meadow, where you see those beautiful trees rising in the distance.”

All the forenoon I turned grass as fast as two men could cut it, and after a hasty repast at noon, one of our hired men, a good-natured Irishman, named Edmund, took an axe on his shoulder and announced that he was ready to accompany me to “Ivy Island.” We started, and as we approached the north end of the meadow we found the ground swampy and wet and were soon obliged to leap from bog to bog on our route. A mis-step brought me up to my middle in water, and to add to the dilemma a swarm of hornets attacked me. Attaining the altitude of another bog I was cheered by the assurance that there was only a quarter of a mile of this kind of travel to the edge of my property. I waded on. In about fifteen minutes more, after floundering through the morass, I found myself half-drowned, hornet-stung, mud-covered, and out of breath, on comparatively dry land.

“Never mind, my boy,” said Edmund, “ we have only to cross this little creek, and ye’ll be upon your own valuable property.”

We were on the margin of a stream, the banks of which were thickly covered with alders. I now discovered the use of Edmund’s axe, for he felled a small oak to form a temporary bridge to my “Island” property. Crossing over, I proceeded to the center of my domain. I saw nothing but a few stunted ivies and straggling trees. The truth flashed upon me. I had been the laughing-stock of the family and neighborhood for years. My valuable “Ivy Island” was an almost inaccessible, worthless bit of barren land, and while I stood deploring my sudden downfall, a huge black snake (one of my tenants) approached me with upraised head. I gave one shriek and rushed for the bridge.

This was my first and last visit to “Ivy Island.” My father asked me “How I liked my property ?” and I responded that I would sell it pretty cheap.

Good to know that even the Prince of the Humbug had one put over on him on occasion.


Sep 282012

Cross-promotion alert!

October is my favorite month of the year for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Halloween.

As you may know, I’m sort of big into the haunted and ghost-type stuff, among other thins, so this is my busiest month. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent the last week or so working on Damned Connecticut’s monster-sized list of Halloween events. I suggest you check them all out, but here are


(copied and pasted, of course)

1. Doomsday Fair (This is the inaugural year, but this sounds like it should be a terrific event, run by a Renaissance fair group and with lots of zombies!)
October 27 & 28
Riverfront Boathouse, Hartford
Admission: $15

More info: Spend a day on the banks of the Connecticut River enjoying music, arts, movies, guest authors and writers, vendors, performers and party like its the end of the world as we know it. While you are there, get information about how to better prepare for emergencies and have fun!  A zombie horde may invade Hartford, but we still know how to have a good time.

2. Trail of Terror (I’ve been to the trail a few times, and it’s always a great time—they work on it literally year-round, and it shows. I highly recommend paying the extra $10 for the speedpass.)
October 1-30; Friday-Sunday evenings
PNC Park, Wallingford
Admission: $10; speedpass $20
More info: One of the state’s most terrifying outdoor attractions where visitors walk through multiple classic horror sets and past dozens of scary characters.

3. Dark Manor Haunted House (I’ve never been to this one, but I understand it’s one of the better haunted attractions in the state.)
October 5-31; check website for days & times (most weekend nights & last week of October, 6:30 pm – midnight)
25 Main Street, Baltic
Admission: $18
More info: “Where Terror Lives in Connecticut”…voted Connecticut’s #1 Haunted House with two haunted attractions in one — The Manor, two floors of special effects and heart-stopping terror, and The Graveyard and Haunted Village, an outdoor attraction with creeps and chainsaw freaks that will have you begging for your life!

4. Witch’s Dungeon Classic Movie Museum (Okay, I warn you this is not the most impressive, nor is it the biggest, attraction, but it’s got wonderful kitschy charm. Cortland Hull runs this in his back yard and has devoted most of the last 46 years to it! I was fortunate enough to visit once during the summer—Cortland showed us rare films on his front lawn, and then gave us the full guided tour.)
September 28 & 30, October 5-7, 12-14, 26-28; 7-10 pm
90 Battle St., Bristol
Admission: $2
More info: The longest-running tribute (46 years!) to the classic horror films of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and others – accurate life-size figures in 13 scenes based on these vintage chillers. Voice tracks guide you through the 6-minute tour, with special voice recordings by: Vincent Price, June Foray, John Agar and Mark Hamill.

5. Young Frankenstein (in IMAX) (My all-time favorite Halloween movie, in IMAX—how can you go wrong?!)
October 28; 7:45 pm
IMAX Theater, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Norwalk
Admission: $11.50; seniors $10.50; kids $9.50, members receive $1 discount. Reservations strongly suggested.
More info: “It’s alive … it’s alives … IT’S ALLLIVVVEEE!!!” The Mel classic Brooks comedy, released in 1974, stars Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman. It’s rated PG for sexual references,
comic violence and brief language.


Sep 262012

… lend me your jerk!

Okay, I’d have to say this week’s JERK OF THE WEEK is definitely more in the “lovable, harmless” jerk category, which is fine—it doesn’t always have to be a total d-bag. What this gentleman did probably falls into the category of “delusions of grandeur” rather than “pure jerk,” although it’s how he went about what he did that qualifies him for this week’s recognition.

Meet this week’s JERK OF THE WEEK

Lars Ahlkvist

Yes, the shiny armor is part of the story. A wonderful part.

See, Lars is the mayor of Hörby, Sweden, and recently, he decided to invest some of the town’s funds, some 600,000 Kronor—or about $91,584 American—on some public art in the form of a giant mural on the city council building ….

Of himself. Dressed as a Roman legionary.

Yes, you read that correctly. As you can see from his photo above, this was obviously a wise decision, as he cuts an … impressive … figure.

According to The

Speaking with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, Ahlkvist explained that Hörby has a “rich tradition of adornment”.

While he admitted that the only connection between Hörby and the Roman empire was “through the church”, Ahlkvist explained the mural was meant to connect the past with the present.

“In the painting, Jesus is escorted by a modern police officer,” he told SvD.

“We’ve got the Arab Spring, as well as a team of snapphane from Hörby,” he added, referring to 17th century pro-Danish guerrillas that fought against the Swedes.

Despite the controversy surrounding how the painting was funded, Ahlkvist emphasized that art should “prompt debate” and that the ensuing publicity could benefit the town.

“Clearly, Hörby has gotten a lot of attention and that is never a bad thing,” he said in reference to the mural-inspired media debate.

Well, if it includes Jesus *and* 17th-century pro-Danish guerrillas, well, of course that can’t be a bad thing. And if he used public money for a memorial to himself, all the better, right? Generations of Horbyvians … Horbyites? … Horbs? will now be able to remember the glorious tenure of Lars Ahlkvist—dreamer, mayor and jerk.

If you want to be read about jerks who have been immortalized for their bad behavior, you know whose book you can buy.


Sep 232012

So last Wednesday I was invited to be an in-studio guest for the “Chaz & AJ Show” on WPLR, 99.1 FM. It was a good time, but throughout the entire experience, I just kept flashing back to my dating days.

It really started a week earlier when I was contacted by the show’s producer Phil—he called to say that the guys saw the New Haven Register story about the book and thought it’d be fun to have me on. It was weird like, “What, someone’s interested in me? Really?” You know, like someone telling you that their friend saw you in the hall after 3rd period and “likes” you. (But not like like—too soon for that.)

Honestly, although I do know the show and have caught it from time to time, I don’t listen to them on a regular basis, so like anyone going on a potential blind date (being a little familiar with them, should I call it a semi-blind date? a cataract date?), I spent the next few days scouting them, you know, watching clips on their website and listening in the mornings. Think of it as using a lav pass to wander past their home room to check them out—not quite stalker level interest, but curious nonetheless.

The night before my appearance, I didn’t sleep well. I was nervous and wanted to make a good first impression but I also had this fear of oversleeping and waking up to discover that I’d blown my chance as they mothefracked me up and down the dial. Fortunately, my neurosis worked on my behalf, and I was up well before the alarm went off at 5:45 a.m.

Actually, the irony is that I’m pretty sure I never lost sleep *before* a first date in high school or college. I’ve always fretted over a lot of things, but for some reason, not that. Let’s just say back in the day when I used to date, my attitude sort of echoed some wisdom that a ladies man named Bernie imparted to me in the warehouse of Sears (because that’s where all the ladies men hung in the 1980s). “When you’re young, women are like buses,” he told me that long-ago summer day. “If you miss out on one, don’t worry. There’s always another one coming along.” Sure, it sounds crass, but at that point in my life, it certainly proved to be true.

Radio appearances to promote a book, however, come along a little less frequently (although I have one on Monday on AM 1320 WATR’s “Talk of the Town” at 12:30 p.m., if you haven’t had enough of me yet). I was up and ready to go!

I shaved because it was my day to do so—I only drag a sharpened hunk of steel across my delicate face every other day—but I laughed at the idea of getting physically gussied up to go on radio, a decidedly *not* visual medium. And no, I didn’t splash on Axe. Since it was radio, I did gargle extra—gotta keep the pipes clean, right?

So all purdy and ready to go on my “date,” I kissed the wife, got in the car and drove to Milford. I had “Chaz & AJ” on as I drove, trying to get a sense of how they were feeling. Apparently, the show’s news/traffic anchor Megan had contracted food poisoning and was regularly running to the bathroom to vomit between segments, which in my head was a good thing because if she threw up after I was on, I’d have thought it was my fault. (Not that it still couldn’t have been, but at least now I could *tell* myself it wasn’t necessarily my appearance.) The guys sounded okay, and certainly not nervous about me showing up.

Of course, at my advanced age, I was about 10 minutes earlier than they had asked me to come in, so I took my time crossing the empty lot—not a lot of folks around before the sun is up. “You’re here?” said Phil the producer, sounding slightly surprised after I called him to let me into the building (it’s locked until a reasonable daylight hour). “Okay, I’ll be right down.”

Phil met me at the door, and was very enthusiastic about me being there—pretty much the complete opposite of the brother and father of every girl I ever called upon, with the possible exception of my wife’s brother, who was 11 when I first met him and still seems happy when he sees me. Then again, he seems happy to meet everyone. Hmm

Anyway, Phil brought me up to the office, giving me advice along the way about what to say and what to do. He asked if I needed to use the bathroom—I made some comment about not wanting to catch whatever it was that was making Megan vomit. He sort of nodded and half=laughed; I realized a few minutes later that Megan wasn’t in the studio, but instead was working from her home. D’oh!

Because I was early, Phil asked me to sit in the empty lobby for a few minutes until it was time for my segment.

The luxurious WPLR lobby, if you've never been.

As I waited there nervously—like waiting for a date getting ready—I thought of this girl Pam whom I dated. I showed up at her house and before I could even see her, her father brought me to the living room and started grilling me about my intentions. He was tough and I was floundering a bit until he mentioned that he was upset about how the Mets had lost that day. I agreed. “Wait, you’re a Mets fan?!” he exclaimed, his face suddenly brightening. “Really?!” I told him to go check out the weathered Mets license plate on the front of my 1978 Datsun B210. We weren’t exactly BFFs after that, but he was certainly less frosty.

Having listened to WPLR for years, I almost half-expected the Wigmaster to show up like some crazy father figure to grill me, but it wasn’t the case. This time.

Finally, it was time to meet my “dates.” Phil led me into the studio and gave me instructions, and then introduced me to the guys, who were very nice. Chaz said he hadn’t seen my book yet (fortunately I had brought a copy with me), quickly went over how the interview was going to go, and then went about preparing—in silence. Hey, it’s a very small staff, and these guys have to do everything themselves. Plus, they’re live on the air, and although the songs give them some time to do stuff, there’s not a lot of margin for error.

Even though I understood that, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself as I waited there with Chaz. (AJ was in a separate booth behind me.) I tried to strike up a conversation, sort of joking about how I know you’re not supposed to use inappropriate language on air, but it seems that the more you don’t want to use it, the more those are the only words on the tip of your tongue. Chaz sort of looked at me for a few seconds, nodded slowly and said, “Yeaaah.”


I decided that from that point, it might be best to just be quiet and the let the pros do their work.

Once it was time to be on the air, however, all the quiet and awkwardness dissipated, and we had a nice “date.” It’s all sort of a blur, but I know I didn’t make any major gaffes or do anything to embarrass myself. I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket, and every time I did, I could only imagine the snarky texts that I was getting telling me what I was doing wrong.

The second part of my appearance can be heard here, although it’s the part where they had callers suggesting jerks for the next book. I don’t say much until about halfway through—the first half of the interview I got a lot more air time to talk about some of the people in the book.

After the second segment was done, they all came over and thanked me for coming in. Chaz said he hoped I sold a lot of books, and then … it was over. Just like that.

Chaz went back behind the console, AJ went back to his booth and Phil went back to another room. I was standing there for a second when Chaz shouted, “Hey Phil, show the guy out!”

Phil came over and pointed down the hall. “Go there, make a left, back through the lobby and push the button to let yourself out. Thanks again!”

Obviously, it was great to be on the air, they were nice, and they did indeed help me sell books—I jumped from #30 on Amazon’s “regional>biographies>New England” section to #7 in a day. It just ended so quickly, and with how I was pimping myself and the book out, I got a sense of, “Hey honey, there’s $50 on the dresser and let yourself out.”

Quite the opposite of how many of my dates normally ended.


Sep 212012

Okay, as you know, I was on board the “Gangnam Style” train very early on. And as you also probably know, the train has become a mighty big engine at this point, with almost a quarter of a BILLION (that’s with a “B”) views in a little less than two months.

I’ve added to that number a few times myself, and in the process, I’ve also been entertained by these


(I don’t think any of these need all that much explanation)

1. Gangnam Duck

2. Gangnam Wedding

3. Gangnam Mom

4. Chicago style

5. And Saturday Night Live Style

Sep 192012

As always, the world is making this feature all too easy.

This week we not only turn to the military, but we have a winner with a Connecticut connection.

This week’s JERK OF THE WEEK is

Navy Commander Michael P. Ward II

This story is breaking on a lot of news outlets right now, and there are various reports, but it appears that Mr. Ward, the commander of the U.S.S. Pittsburgh, based in Groton, and a married man with children, was involved in an extramarital affair. Now that may make him a jerk, but it’s the unique way he went about ending his relationship—and a fraudulent identity that came with it—that earns him this week’s honor …

That’s right. When faced with a bad situation, he faked his death….

From The Day of New London:

The two met on a dating website in October. Ward, 43, who is married with children, told her he was separated and that he worked in “special ops,” she said. He actually worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.

They saw each other during the week while he attended the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., and spent a weekend together in Williamsburg, Va., in November, the report said. They spoke over the phone and emailed through June.

Ward sent her emails using the name Tony Moore, explaining that he had to use the name because of his position in the special forces, she said.

In March, he wrote, “we are forever nothing will stop that.” She said she loved him.

In the last email before Ward faked his death, “Tony Moore” wrote on June 23, “You look absolutely gorgeous!!!!! Miss you like crazy. I was out doing things – have to go back out tomorrow. Hope you got the window fixed!!!! I love you like crazy.”

Then, on July 6, in an effort to end the relationship, Ward sent an email from a fictitious co-worker, Bob, who claimed that Ward had unexpectedly died.

“He asked me to contact you if this ever happened,” the email says. “I am extremely sorry to tell you that he is gone. We tried everything we could to save him. I cannot say more. I am sorry it has to be this way.”

The email goes on to say, “He loved you very much.”

According to The Day story, the woman discovered the deception when she went to Ward’s house to “pay her respects” to the family, and instead learned that he was very much alive—and with his family—in Gales Ferry, Connecticut. She also discovered she was pregnant with Capt. Jerk’s child and confronted him, but subsequently lost the baby. When the love boat finally sank, she went to the Navy and Ward admitted to his “egregious” conduct.

The erstwhile Tony Moore has been relieved of his command and severely reprimanded, and is now doing administrative duties. He wasn’t make to walk the plank, nor was he thrown in the brig, but I’m sure he’s feeling like he’s had his battleship sunk. But hey, that’s the price to pay when you act like a jerk.

If you want to act like a jerk, or just read about them, sail into your local bookstore or surf on over to for you copy of Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History. Ahoy!


Sep 162012

So as I lay awake staring at the ceiling in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I could barely make out the sounds of voices coming from my basement. Intruders? Prowlers? (Does anybody use that word anymore?) Mice? Wayward lawn gnomes? Ghosts?

No, I knew it was my 13-year-old son and his buddy, who were having a sleepover in the “hang out,” i.e. the kids’ TV/video game parlor. (Wait, does anybody use that word either—you know, without “tattoo” in front of it? Man, I’m old.) Anyway, despite being a “sleepover,” I could tell that there was very little sleep occurring.

But that’s the way it’s always been and half the fun, right? I remember a few sleepovers from my youth … yes, after we spent our days inventing fire and cooking brontosaurus burgers. (Tasted like chicken, as I recall.) And I’m talking the innocent ones with my buddies, not the other ones with girls that started around college—er, I mean, after I was married. (My mom reads this blog sometimes, so shhh … just go with it!)

I remember sleeping over my friend Rob’s house, with our other buddy Nick. Rob lived in a raised ranch, and at some point, he “fixed up” the crawl space under the stairs into a hangout of sorts. Okay, we couldn’t stand up or move around too much, but with some old carpet on the floor, a few moving pads over the concrete wall and a couple of pillows, it was cozy little spot. With an extension cord or two, we had a light and more importantly, music.

Oh yeah, it was the late 1970s, so I was about the same impressionable age as my son is now, and as much as he’s into video games we were into KISS. We’d spend hours under the stairs, listening to Rock ‘n Roll Over, Love Gun, Destoyer and Alive!—“You wanted the best, you got the best …. the hottest band in the world … KISS!!!” [*cue pyrotechnics*]

Like many kids, we thought we could put together our own band. For reasons I truly don’t remember, we went about trying to learn this song …

Oh ho ho it’s … crap! Hey, but it was the ’70s—I’m pretty sure that’s an acceptable excuse for many a cultural faux pas.

It also didn’t help that the three of us were absolutely tone deaf. I knew that, but I thought maybe I could “hide” or “blend” my voice in with the other guys. Not so much.

Still, we had a lot of fun being goofy kids, taking turns sleeping over each other’s houses (not always under the stairs), staying up late and watching bad TV.

Speaking of, there were lots of sleepovers in college (usually after imbibing too much, and worth a post of its own some day). After I graduated, I would regularly stay over at my buddy Bob’s various apartments—he was a graduate assistant, and then a dorm director at Southern, so it was an ideal place to hang out. The prototypical bachelor pad, we spent untold hours staying up late, eating fast food (How I still miss Pal’s BBQ in New Haven!) and playing video games as well as Yahtzee on an old Apple Macintosh.

We also watched dozens—maybe hundreds—of cheesy B movies and schlock horror films. Everything from Assault of the Killer Bimbos and Galactic Gigolo (starrring Connecticut’s own Carmine Capobianco) to Luther the Geek and The Story of Ricky. We saw a bunch of the Troma films (Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, etc.), all the Evil Dead films and were on the Peter Jackson bandwagon from the start, when he was making movies like Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and one of our all-time favorites, maybe the greatest zombie film of all time, his Dead Alive. …

Warning: Ridiculous amounts of blood and cheesy gore, and possibly NSFW. Very amusing, however.

“I kick arse, FOR THE LORD!”

So many great scenes in this movie. If you loved Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, I can’t recommend this film enough.

Anyway, we spent *a lot* of late nights doing this kind of stuff, and having a lot of fun in the process. And I’m sitting here the next day, watching my son and his buddy watching YouTube clips through bleary eyes now—

—I’m pretty sure that they’re making the same kind of great memories for themselves.

Sep 142012

So as any regular visitor to this site knows, I’m slightly obsessed with my death, which really isn’t a shock at my advanced age. Often, this spills out into reality and my regular life, as it did yesterday when I was talking with my boss about famous last words. I was speculating that most times when faced with their imminent demise, most people are not as composed or eloquent as Nathan Hale, nor do they have the time to come up with something pithy.

A few months ago, I did a Friday five about what I hope my last words will *not* be, so this is a variation on the theme.

Instead, I’m taking a guess at what I think might be


1. “AWWW [*insert your favorite expletive*]!!!” – Seems obvious to me that in many untimely deaths, there’s probably a split-second just before the end where the realization that the Grim Reaper has actually arrived is made, and it is not a welcome moment. [*Spoilers alert, I guess, for a 23-year-old movie*] I always think of that moment in Always when the Richard Dreyfuss’ character realizes that he has not, in fact, safely pulled his plane out of the fire and sort of shrugs before everything explodes.

2. “What the—” – Not unlike the previous comment, but this one involves an element of surprise or confusion, like when someone steps through a hole in the ice, falls off a high wire or is in a bigfoot suit and is about to be run over by a motorist or two.

3. “I think I can get there before *IT* does!” – This one would be in situations such as when someone is racing to make a turn first at an intersection, or trying to beat a train to a crossing, or badly underestimating the distance to safety and the speed of an angry grizzly bear. (Or, if you’re being literal, the speed of a psychotic killer clown.)

4. “Stop!”– Or not.

5. “Oh my [*insert your deity of choice*]” – Calling out for assistance or intervention from the maker that arguably contrived the situation and is about to met seems a bit futile, but in a moment of extreme duress, it’s probably more of a reflexive thing to utter. Hey, I’m an atheist and I’ve been known to exclaim it from time to time just because it’s such a common phrase.

As always, I hope my final words are more along the line of “Okay Salma … just *one* more time …”



Sep 122012

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”—Mark Twain

When assembling the cast of jerks for Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History, I purposely stayed away from politicians because, as I say in the book, “there are too many from which to choose.”

Exhibit #130,907 (approximately) is this week’s JERK OF THE WEEK!

Emmett C. Burns Jr.

Mr. Burns (a real-life Democrat and not a fictional nuclear power plant owner) is a delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing the fine city of Baltimore. Recently, when Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo recently voiced his support for same-sex marriage (something he’s been doing publicly since 2009), Burns took exception.

Via the Huffington Post:

In a letter dated August 29, 2012 and addressed to Ravens owner Steve Biscotti, Burns writes “I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Ravens football player.”

“Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide,” wrote Burns, “and try to sway public opinion one way or another.”

According to WBALTV, Burns became upset when he learned that Ayanbadejo had contributed a pair of Ravens tickets to a fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. After expressing his dismay at Ayanbadejo’s actions in his letter, Burns then asked the Ravens to silence the 36-year-old veteran.

“I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.”

Now, normally I’d go off on a rant here condemning Burns (They are saying Boo-urns), but Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has already stepped up to defend his NFL brother Ayanbadejo—and same-sex marriage—in a wonderfully eloquent and *amazingly awesome* open letter.

I won’t quote the whole thing, although I highly recommend you read it (if you haven’t already—NSFW language). Here’s just a bit …

As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents in order to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to argue that the Ravens should silence Brendon Ayanbadejo from voicing his support for same-sex marriage, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, but you come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on Earth would possess you to say something so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to free speech. To call that “hypocritical” would be to do a disservice to the word. “Mindfuckingly, obscenely hypocritical” starts to approach it a little bit.

I am not about to change my football allegiance to the Vikings, but I will forever root for punter Chris Kluwe.

Thanks for kicking a jerk where it counts!

If you want to kick me where it counts—my wallet—you know what you can pre-order at



Sep 092012

Okay, thought I’d have some fun and blog my day today as it unfolds …

6:40 a.m. Hey look, I slept in all of 20 minutes! And this with the bed (and house) all to myself as my wife has taken the boys to Massachusetts for the weekend to visit her parents while I paint the porch floor—do I know how to live or what?

The good news is that I finished painting yesterday afternoon, so now I have all day today to fret about, er, I mean, *ENJOY* the opening Sunday of the NFL season. The Jets kick off against the Bills at 1 p.m., so that means I have a little more than six hours to kill. Luckily, I have BIG plans for the day, you know, like the laundry and grocery shopping.

Like I said, living the dream.

7:04 a.m. Major problem already—I only have short white socks to wear! How could I have let this happen on game day—I’ve only had nine months to plan what I was going to wear today! And somehow I ended up with white socks instead of my traditional black ones?! Really?!

And if you think that I think that the color of the socks on my feet in my house over 80 miles away from where the game is being played today actually could somehow have a bearing on the outcome, then you’re clearly not a sports fan. Sure, I’m an atheist and don’t believe there’s any sort of overarching force that affects the universe—but when it comes to sports, all that goes out the window.

Hypocritical much? Absolutely. But what I wear on my feet affects the game as much as where I sit in my living room does while watching. You may (absolutely correctly) think that’s zero percent, but I will have black socks on my feet by the time kick-off rolls around. I just hope wearing the white ones doesn’t ruin it all anyway.

7:58 a.m. Showered and eating breakfast, I check my email and discover (via my wife) that the article about my book is in this morning’s New Haven Register. GAH! At least they took the time to make sure to have my profile picture match Benedict Arnold’s—jerks of a feather, flocking together. So much for wanting to finish breakfast.

Well, no one reads newspapers any more, right? Maybe none of my friends will notice.

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