Feb 272013


So like many of you, I work in an office during the day. Occasionally I work from home if the weather conditions warrant it, and when I do, I’m such a straight arrow/dope that I actually work when I work from home. Even on my official days off, if I don’t have a specific activity planned, I tend to spend most of the day in front of the computer, writing something. Very rarely do I sit around and do nothing in the middle of the day such as watch TV . . . until this past week.

On Sunday night, I started feeling wonky, which was followed by a sleepless night where I alternated between burning with fever and freezing. When the alarm went off on Monday morning, I was so zonked that it was all I could do to grab my cell phone and text my boss that I wasn’t coming in to the office. I dragged myself out of bed, watched my family go off to school/work, tried to eat something and quickly abandoned that plan to crawl back into bed, where I went passed out for another four to five hours of sleep.

When I awoke, it was mid afternoon, and not having the energy for much else—the siren song of the intrawebz couldn’t even lure me to my computer—I propped myself up on the couch, sucked on a Gatorade and flipped on an episode of History Channel’s “American Pickers,” pretty much because that was the channel the TV had been left on from the night previous.

Now as most of you know, I certainly watch a (un)healthy amount of TV, and that includes more than my share of shows like the aforementioned “American Pickers.” I’m not saying it’s the greatest show on TV by any means, maybe not even in the Top 20, but sometimes when there’s nothing else on, I’ll watch. If you’re not familiar with the premise, basically these two antique nerds go around the country “picking” through people’s old junk in the hopes of finding things they can resell—usually, they visit people who have collected tons of crap and need to unload some of it.

As I’ve said before, the ultimate crossover would be “Pickers” and A&E’s “Hoarders.”

Anyway, “Pickers” was on and it was an episode that I had already seen, but too wiped to even bother changing the channel, I watched it again. But as the commercials came on, I realized it was nowhere near the same viewing experience.

Yes, as some of you already realize, the commercials that run in the daytime are *very* different from those at night. Very different, indeed. Nowhere to be seen were the food, fashion or car ads that I’m used to vieweing during prime time, but instead, it was a sea of … well, unusual (to me) items.

In the course of an hour episode, here are some of the products I saw:

Mirena intrauterine birth controlReally, advertisers think that stay-at-home moms are so sick of being stuck with their kids that they will do anything to avoid having more—including risk getting cancer, “pelvic inflammatory disease” (yes, it’s a thing) or ovarian cysts, as well as be willing to tear holes in their uterine lining and take on heavier bleeding? Good luck with that.

Liberator medical catheters – Would people stuck at home who need to regularly stick medical devices in their most sensitive of body orifices really rather save a few bucks and do it themselves, as opposed to have an actual, trusted healthcare professional help them? On the plus side, you can get your free personalized sampler pack (including pre-lubed catheters), you know, because everyone should be experimenting on their own genitals with randomly-sized objects.

The Jazzy – The Rolls Royce of transportation devices for the mobility-challenged from what I’ve heard—if this is where my Obamacare dollars are going, I’m okay with making the lives of the permanently disabled a little easier and cooler …. yes, I said cooler, because it does sort of look like fun to tool around in one, although I fully realize as a person who can walk that this probably sounds offensive—apologies in advance, as always.

Open-Aire portable oxygen – This is what Dennis Hopper uses in Blue Velvet, right? You can buy that off the TV? Sweet!

Zostavax shingles medicationDo advertisers think that sick people have nothing better to do than sit around all day watching  …. oh wait, never mind.

Make The Connection veteran servicesHere’s my problem with this ad running during this show: I find it hard to believe that after facing death, violence and untold horrors, our distinguished vets prefer to unwind with an afternoon of watching two goofballs picking through other people’s trash as opposed to just catching up on hours of internet porn free of restriction or censorship by the U.S. government.

Passage Malibu rehab – You know, because overpriced, glitzy, celebrity-centric mental-health “professionals” are sooooo much more effective than truly experienced practitioners, just as Dr. Drew has so ably proven.

Sandals – I guess if you have time to be hanging out in the middle of the day watching History Channel, you probably have spare time for a Caribbean vacation.

Beltone – I want to make a joke here, but I fear after years of going with my buddy Big Balls Bob to see the likes of KISS, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Metallica and too many other bad hair metal bands to mention that a hearing aid may be in my future sooner rather than later. Eh?

Alteril sleep aids – What, you can get AIDS from sleeping—why would anyone want that?! Okay, the irony is that this commercial came on a day when I was struggling to maintain consciousness. I needed 5-Hour Energy, not 15-Hour Coma!

LLC.com – I’m leery simply because this “start your own limited liability company” website is run by The Company Corporation, which sounds like it was made up by George Costanza—I’m pretty sure their slogan is “Companies for People.”

Qunol health supplement – Again, I’m not suggesting that this isn’t a legitimate product, it’s just that the main ingredient—Coenzyme Q10—is referred to as CoQ10, which in my juvenile mind is pronounced “Cock ten,” and is something I don’t want to put in my mouth. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I’m just saying it’s not for me …

…. just like daytime TV.

Next time, I’m just going to read a book.


Feb 242013

So the other night when I was awake in the middle of the night, I started thinking about heck.

Seriously, the word “heck.” This is what goes through my head at 3:27 a.m.

I’m fascinated by the idea that heck regularly stands in for “Hell” and all the angry, even nefarious, connotations that come with that word, yet somehow manages to maintain a squeaky clean, almost wholesome image. I especially find it amusing that people think they can say “heck” instead of “hell” and somehow by changing two letters—but not the intent or meaning—it will “fool” an omnipotent, omniscient god. “Oh, I was going to smite that young fella there, but he *did* say “heck” while breaking the Fifth Commandment and trashing his parents, so I’ll let it go ….”

Or that media censors make TV shows and movies use “heck” even though EVERYONE watching knows that whoever is using the word really means “HELL. ” Do they think they’re fooling anyone, or that children haven’t heard their parents use worse language? Just ridiculous.

The late, great George Carlin has done a few bits on political correctness and how changing the word we use to describe something, or finding a new euphemism to describe it, doesn’t change the thoughts associated with it. He famously talks about how referring to someone as “differently abled” instead of “crippled” doesn’t really change the situation, and that it’s “a verbal sleight-of-hand” to make it sound like something has undergone some sort of more noble transformation, when in effect, that’s not the case.

So from what “pure” mind did “heck” even spring in the first place?

According to Urban Dictionary, it’s a fusion of the words “hell” and “fuck.”

It is used by saying “What the heck!” as a stand-in for hell or fuck but is really worse than saying “What the hell!” or “What the fuck!” You are really saying “What the hellfuck!”

“Hellfuck?” Really? That’s new to me. Let me officially call “Shenanigans!” right here and now as I sincerely doubt the veracity of that definition. Then again, who the heck am I to argue with such a learned source as Urban Dictionary? Nonetheless, I’ll be putting that in my back pocket for later; even if it’s a completely made-up answer as I suspect, it’ll still be fun to break out “Oh, HELLFUCK!” at the proper moment.

One source I found suggests that “heck” was first recorded in 1865 as a polite euphemism for hell—the Oxford English Dictionary claims its first appearance was “Well, aw’ll go to ecky, he cried,” with a clearer use in 1887: “What the heck are yŏ up to?”

Another source suggests that the word is Scottish:

hech is a Scots interjection of surprise or shock, and is ultimately the same word as hey (or heigh).

I found a little more corroboration that it might be Scottish—although that doesn’t make it all that much clearer.

Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • n Heck hek (Scot.) a rack in a stable for hay, &c.: a grated contrivance for catching fish: a contrivance in a spinning-wheel, and also in a warping-mill, by which the yarn or thread is guided to the reels

And to dig even deeper, here’s a definition from the 1828 edition of Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, which might dispute the idea the word first appeared in the 1860s …

HECK, n. [See Hatch.] An engine or instrument for catching fish; as a salmon heck.

1. A rack for holding fodder for cattle.
2. A bend in a stream.
3. A hatch or latch of a door.

Sooooo …. what does all this determine? Not a heckuva lot, other than the word has a muddled past. It appears to have had a start referring to various actual objects that indicated some sort of impediment, and then seems to have evolved from there, taking on a negative connotation along the way.

Still, no matter how it got here, I still do find myself using it on occasion.

For example—the other day buddy Steve actually texts me: “Putting on my orgy shorts—where are you? I’m getting warm over here. Mask is hot.”

Now my first instinct would be to exclaim, “What. the. HELL?!” (as it might be yours), but to me, that sort of just adds another pained voice to the nightmarish chorus of horror that’s already been raised. But a measured response of “What the heck?” takes me to a different place, one sort of straddling acceptance of the disturbing and a desperately-wishing-to-be-earnest denial. Like, if I can force myself to be gee-whiz-golly wholesome, it somehow keeps me on the high road, well above the horrid mental image that has been thrown at my mind’s eye ….

Or not.

Oh, hellfuck!


Feb 222013

Not a news flash: I *hate* exercise.

Last winter was nice in that we had very little snow—I was even able to run on my favorite track on New Year’s Eve, and was able to get out to the local greenway from time to time.

As we all know, this year has been very different—LOTS of snow, which has forced me inside on the treadmill. We bought a decent one a few Christmases ago, and I was able to split our cable and run it to an old TV, so we can watch pretty much anything, including programs we’ve recorded. And now that I figured out how to turn on the closed-captioning, you can follow any program without having to hear it, which was a problem over the sound of the treadmill.

That all being done, it’s still boring as hell to run on a treadmill. As such, while recently running, my mind drifted to—

Five Random Things on Treadmills

1. Drunk “Mythbuster” Adam Savage

Sadly, I run like that when I’m stone-cold sober.

2. The band OK Go

You never saw ABBA doing this.

3. A shrimp

And now you will be singing “The Final Countdown” all day. You’re welcome!

4. Horses on Ye Olde Treadmill

I hope they use it later to churn thine butter.

5. A slinky

Oddly compelling.

For the record, I wanted to add the clip from “The Simpsons” of Homer running on a treadmill while Scully and Mulder from “The X-Files” watch, but apparently, it’s not available anywhere. D’oh!

So now that’s about 10 minutes of your life you won’t get back. At least you weren’t on a treadmill watching it.


Feb 202013

Things I’m pretty sure I’ve never said to myself:

“Hey, that clown looks sad—maybe I should go over and give him a hug?”

“Huh … I could’ve sworn I left the body here.”

“I don’t know what tastes worse—my right foot or my left foot.”

“I wish the two Coreys had made more movies together.”

“I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to get a Brozilian.”

“This is the best. damn. opera. EVER.”

“Wait—there are desserts on the menu that don’t include chocolate.”

“Funny, but that shot to my balls sorta tickled.”

“Why aren’t there more Rosie O’Donnell nude pics on this site?”

“Good thing the driver of this car right in front of me is slowing down so that they can text properly.”

“Whew—I was worried that the Yankees/Patriots might lose that game!”

“Wow, I really can write.”


Feb 172013

So like many Americans, I can’t enjoy any celebration of the birth of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln without a glance or two at my left index finger and the long, straight scar there …

[*insert wavy vision, Wayne’s World-like flashback intro*]

It’s President’s Day sometime in the late 1970s—I want to say ’77 or ’78, which would make me a young tween more interested in Star Wars and KISS than helping my father around the house.

My poor dad—he’s a handy guy who undertakes numerous home improvement projects, and most of the time, all he wants is a competent assistant who can hold the end of the board steady while he saws the other end of it. Instead, what he has is me.

Although I am reluctant, I always try to do my best, but at this point in my life, I would not categorize myself as “handy,” or even all that useful. Often at a critical point during a project, he’ll be at the top of a ladder trying to hold something together and be like, “Hey, go run down to the workroom and get me a 3/4-inch socket wrench.” I’ll run down there, get to the workbench and just … stare. He has so many tools and and I have so little clue. I truly want to find the right one, but am seemingly incapable of it. After a time, he’ll eventually come in, grab it off the dead center of the rack and say something like, “If it had teeth, it would’ve bitten you!” He’s never mean about it and hides his frustration well, but I always feel bad that I just don’t have the aptitude he’s looking for.

An aside: As a homeowner now, I’ve gotten better in terms of being able to fix or install things—I’ve actually become quite a good painter. The irony is that my youngest son enjoys working with tools and has an engineer’s mentality. When I go to do some project, he’s often interested in helping out, and really understands how to use tools. I guess it skips a generation.

Anyway, back to President’s Day, nineteenseventy-something.

My father is working on our bathroom, making some cosmetic upgrades—new window treatments, towel rack, that sort of thing. One of the items on the agenda is replacing the worn-out grippy stickers off the floor of the bathtub. Against his better judgment, he decides to let me be in charge of scraping off the old stickers.

He hands me the scraper knife—

—and warns me to be careful as it’s very sharp.

I don’t know if I use the exact words, “Don’t worry, what could possibly go wrong?” but my attitude is, “I got this, no problem!”

I climb into the tub, get on my hands and knees and start scraping. My father goes to work on the window and all is well … for a while. Of course, me being me, I can’t work without a little levity.

“Ooops, I cut myself,” I declare, somewhat devilishly.

“What?!” he says, abandoning the window to come over to check on me. “Really?!

“No,” I laugh and show him that I’m fine. Come on, man! I’m like 13. I think I can handle scraping a few stickers!

He shakes his head, and goes back to the window. I go back to scraping. A few minutes later, I joke again that I cut myself.

This time, he doesn’t leave what he’s doing, but sincerely asks if I’m okay. I laugh, stand up and show him that I’m fine. He shakes his head again, and goes back to work.

So I’m in the tub, scraper in my right hand, my left hand out in front to steady myself. I’m scraping, scraping, scraping … but this one sticker is giving me a tough time. Wanting to get it, I wind up and give it extra effort—


—and watch in shock as the scraper instead slides forward over the sticker and directly into my left hand!

I instantly pull it back, and for a split second, I think that somehow I’m going to be okay, despite the fact that suddenly my finger is wide open and I can see into it …

… and then the bloods starts. Gushing.

“Oh no …” I say, getting to my feet and out of the tub. “I really did it this time.” I’m trying to hold the skin on my finger together as blood is suddenly everywhere.

“What?” my dad harrumphs, not bothering to look away from the window. “Did you ‘cut’ yourself again?”

I stand next to him and hold my left hand up, the blood running down my elbow. “Uh yeah, except I REALLY did it this time!”

He turns and looks at me. “OH [*EXPLETIVE*]!”

He grabs my hand and drags me to the sink. He turns on the water and he’s running my hand under it. As fast as the water can wash away the blood, it flows back up out of my finger. My dad is trying to hold me steady as I try to squirm away from my own damaged hand.

“Is that the bone?” I ask, hysteria creeping into my voice.

“Uhh … I think you’re going to need stitches,” he says.

For some reason, this thought terrifies me, which is funny—here I am losing copious amounts of blood, and the idea that they might have to use a surgical needle to close a gaping wound, is a problem. “Maybe they can fix it another way?” I plead, as I’ve never had stitches and have no real concept of what they are.

I don’t remember what he says next, but he turns off the water, grabs something to wrap my hand and we head out to the car. He tells me to hold my hand tight, and in a blur, we drive to Milford Hospital. I don’t know if it’s a slow day or that the blood is flowing up through whatever we wrapped my hand with, but my father hands me off to the nurses and I get to go directly into the emergency room, no waiting.

Apparently the upside of slicing your finger open with an incredibly sharp razor is that, although long and bloody, the wound is very neat. After some debate and my whimpering pleas, the ER doctor reluctantly closes up my finger up with butterfly stitches, although he tells me that it would be better to use regular stitches. Still, he acquiesces to my wishes, uses a lot of them and then cautions me to be extra careful. Before I know it, I’m cleaned up and looking for my dad, except he’s not in the waiting room.

The nurses lead me to him, and he’s in a quiet room in the back. He asks if I’m okay—I say I am, and we go home.

It’s funny—I didn’t think anything of him being in the back of the ER at the time, but years later he told me what happened. Apparently, after I was brought into the treatment area, the shock of all the blood and what happened suddenly hit him, and he got a little woozy. One of the nurses had noticed that he suddenly didn’t look so good, and had asked him if he needed to lay down for a moment, which he agreed that he needed to.

Bottom line was that the drama over—I sliced my finger open, and now all I have is this lousy scar. Not as cool as buying a washing machine for half price at a President’s Day sale, but at least it’s something.



Feb 152013

So now that Pope Benedict is stepping down, the Catholic Church will be looking for a new pontiff to run the show. With my extensive global domination plans, taking this gig would be a good fit for me—I’d instantly pick up 1 billion minions looking to be lead and suddenly have about $8 billion in assets at my disposal, which would go a loooooong way to building that Star Trek transporter I’ve dreamed about. Throw in those fancy digs and cushy lifestyle, I see it as a win all around …

… you know, except for that pesky “Belief in God” requirement, which I’m betting is *probably* pretty high up on the checklist for potential applicants. Even though they are looking for a figurehead-type leader, they are most likely interested in someone who shares the same vision as they do, which, to say the least, I don’t. Oh, and they might want someone who strives to run an organized religion, as opposed to someone who labors to create disorganized stupidity.

But just because it’s not the job for me—the perfect world leader, obviously—it doesn’t mean that I can’t help out (because I’m a god-damned giver, okay?), or that they shouldn’t fill the post at all. As a matter of fact, employing a little out-of-the-box thinking (which the Catholic Church needs to stay relevant at this point), here are

Five People Who Should Be Considered For Pope

1. Morgan Freeman

He’s already been God, so although it’d be a step down, he has some experience in holy matters. He’s also a commanding presence, and people seem to genuinely like and respect him. He’s also got a great voice, which is necessary with all those masses he’ll have to give. Oh, and the papacy will immediately get about 1 billion times cooler.

2. Pee Wee Herman

Obviously, the Catholic Church is a very serious place, so who better to inject a little bit of levity into proceedings than everyone’s favorite manchild, who’s due for a big comeback? And given the leadership’s … uh, predilections … someone who is good at attracting young flesh—er, believers—could be on their “want” list. I’m just not quite sure how the bow tie would fit over the collar … although who knows, it may turn out to be a good look for all the clergy to follow!

3. Prince Charles

Oh, sure that means he’d be out of the running for King of England, but let’s face it—if his mother Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t stepped aside after 60+ years, she’s clearly NEVER going to willingly give up the title. Throw in the fact that her mother lived well past 100, and that means Chuck will be continue to wait for quite a while. By taking this job, he gets to use all that diplomacy and protocol that he’s been practicing for the past half century. (He’s got that royally affected stiff wave down by now.) It also might be a great chance for the Anglican church to make some peace with the Catholic church—hey, despite a few centuries of “disagreement,” they’re really not all that far apart, right?

4. Xuxa

If you’re not familiar with this nearly 6-foot-tall Brazilian children’s TV host, actress and singer, her selection would check two boxes as it 1.) would make the Church look like it gives a crap about women’s rights; and 2.) throw a bone to Brazil, which has the highest number of Catholics on the planet. In addition to being able to make men involuntarily gasp for God by her mere appearance, she has experience performing in unusual outfits, and since she’s already one of the wealthiest entertainers in the world (net worth estimated well over $350 million), she would be hard to corrupt.

5. Oprah Winfrey

First off, she’s looking for a new job anyway, so we know she’s available. She a master of mass communication, and likes to give things away, which, even though the Catholic Church is reluctant to actually do with its ungodly wealth, is sort of what it ostensibly wants to be known for. It wouldn’t take much to turn Oprah’s Book Club into Oprah’s GOOD Book Club. Oh, and obviously—”Heeeeeere’s POprah!”

You’re welcome.

So do you think I can expect a finder’s fee?


Feb 132013

So I was thinking about how many songs there are out there, and how many of them are unresolved in terms of the story. Very few are like KISS’s “Detroit, Rock City,” which ends when the narrator of the song is killed in a head-on car crash. (What, you never listened to the lyrics? The song is based on the true story of a KISS fan who died on the way to a concert.)

Anyway, very few songs have clean (so to speak) endings like that. Most are open-ended narratives, leaving me to wonder what happens next. I especially find it disconcerting in songs about specific girls—almost all of them are fantasies revolving around how the narrator dreams he can change the life of his intended … with his love. You know, because that always works.

Well, being there for you all, I thought I would add some detail and closure to classic “girl” songs, like a modern-day Paul Harvey. (Look it up, kids.)

So here’s how the narratives (if not the songs themselves) would go beyond the last chorus.

Mandy” (by Barry Manilow)
How it ends: Mandy came and she gave without taking, but the narrator sends her away. Oh Mandy!
My ending: The narrator moves to New York in hopes of making it on Broadway. Despite great success, he struggles with finding true happiness until one day, he runs into Mandy (now a freelance journalist) in Grand Central Station. After a whirlwind few days around the city—including what should be a romantic carriage ride through Central Park—the narrator finally realizes that he’s not in love with Mandy … or any woman! He comes out to her, and then realizes that he has always loved Mandy for her selfless platonic friendship. He eventually hooks up with her brother, Randy.

Ana Ng” (by They Might Be Giants)
How it ends: The narrator doesn’t get “to walk in her majestic presence.”
My ending: The two go their own ways, only to meet up decades later in a decrepit nursing home where they finally consummate their relationship. However, the intimate physicality of their passion kills them both instantaneously, sending them into that final golden light, hand in hand.

Jenny (867-5309)” (by Tommy Tutone)
How it ends: The narrator asks Jenny not to change her number in the hopes that he can summon up his nerve to call her and “make you mine.”
My ending: Driven nearly mad by all the losers calling her, Jenny changes her number and then, deciding to empower herself against all those creepers, goes on to law school. She graduates at the top of her class and becomes a crusading attorney, and then unleashes years of pent-up rage by helping abused women (the number is in her ads on the sides of buses and on cable TV). Her efforts result in hundreds of dirtbags, rapists and spousal abusers ending up in prison, where they can no longer call up random strange women and harass them.

Christine Sixteen” (by KISS)
How it ends: Older man fantasizes about much younger girl.
My ending: Christine notices the elderly creeper in the rape van parked across the street from the high school and immediately calls the police on her cell. They arrive to catch the narrator in the act of pleasuring himself and immediately arrest him. He serves a few months in prison for various misdemeanors (where he endures “rather unpleasant carnal” experiences) and after release, has to register as a sex offender, which sends him on a downward spiral that finally sees him flee the country. He is eventually found dead in a Tijuana back alley after a misunderstanding during a donkey show.

Alison” (by Elvis Costello)
How it ends: The narrator *knows* that Alison is unhappy in her marriage and that “this world is killing you.”
My ending: After being encouraged by the narrator, Alison comes to her senses, ends her loveless marriage and divorces her husband. Since narrator the narrator’s “aim is true,” he tries to be a supportive as she puts her life back together, hoping that she’ll eventually realize that he’s the true man for her. Unfortunately, now that he’s her bestie, she overlooks him and falls in love with the hunky volunteer fireman from across the street. Realizing that he blew it, the narrator eventually drinks himself into a coma.

Rosanna” (by Toto)
How it ends: It’s been not quite a year since Rosanna went away, and the narrator doesn’t have much to say.
My ending: Rosanna stays away, choosing Hollywood and finding respectable success as an actress. The narrator stays with his band and trying to woo her back, tries writing new songs that captures the magic of the first hit. Unfortunately such tunes as “Rosanna Come Love My Banana,” “Rosanne Rosanna Dancer” and “You’re The 2nd Best Actress in Your Family But the 1st Best in My Heart” don’t catch the fancy of the fickle music-buying public, and the narrator dies in a tragic trash can fire.

My Sharona” (by The Knack)
How it ends: The narrator craves underage flesh, and he’s never gonna stop, give it up!
My ending: See what happens to the letch in “Christine Sixteen” above.

Maggie May” (by Rod Stewart)
How it ends: The narrator is bewitched by the older woman that is Maggie May and can’t escape her spell.
My ending: Although he enjoys it at first, much like the movie Misery, the narrator soon realizes that he’s literally a prisoner of a love-crazed cougar. He repeatedly tries to escape but eventually accepts that a life as Maggie’s love slave is not such a bad deal—she feeds him well and tends to his every need. Unfortunately, this leads to a relationship that’s more motherly than romantic, causing the narrator’s physical attraction to Maggie to go limp. In the end, the need for medication-aided love and multiple diaper changes dooms the relationship to an end that no one—including Senior Smoke—wants to picture.

Roxanne” (by The Police)
How it ends: The narrator asks Roxanne, a prostitute, to not “put on the red light;” instead, he will make her an honest woman.
My ending: Roxanne puts on the red light and continues to sell herself to the night. The narrator, ever desperate, continues patronizing Roxanne, and after contracting various STDs, including hepatitis, syphilis and finally AIDs, eventually dies all alone in an alley. Roxanne goes on to marry the owner of the New England Patriots, who soon also dies under mysterious circumstances in a hot tub “accident.” She takes control of the team, and then trades Tom Brady and fires Bill Belichick before allowing it languish at the bottom of the league for the next several decades, sapping all of its resources to fund her reality TV show career. After bankrupting the franchise, she then marries Chumley from “Pawn Stars.”

Finally, a happy ending for all!


Feb 102013

Okay, so what have we learned from Winter Storm Nemo/Charlotte the most recent “STORM OF THE CENTURY”?

Let’s see …

1. The next winter storm will:
a. be named Ratatouille.
b. have thunder, lightning, rainbows and sparkle snow.
c. feature a shower of zombies.

2. People measure snow because:
a.  it gives them something to do while waiting for Mr. Plow to come along.
b. size matters.
c. they are losers.
d. they want to something to lord over the heads of their grandkids someday.

3. Which elusive and possibly mythical creature did I spot in my yard on Saturday?
a. The Abominable Snowman.
b. The Wendingo.
c. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
d. My wife with a shovel in her hand.

4. Speaking of my wife, she decided to go running outside on Sunday because:
a. she is training for the New York City half marathon in March, and didn’t want to run 10 miles on our treadmill.
b. she’s crazy.
c. she hoped that she might find an open package store where she could buy wine as we were out.
d. she’s F’N crazy.

5. This picture of the road in front of our house:

a. shows our mailbox (that black square near the middle left) on Sunday afternoon, more than 30 hours after it stopped snowing.
b. shows that we “won” the “Who got the most f’n snow?” challenge.
c. shows that the city plow still hasn’t come and we’re not going anywhere any time soon.
d. shows that we screwed, and should figure out which family member we’ll be eating first (although the preliminary discussion seems to indicate that there’s a consensus that “the oldest and fattest” go first, which is not good news for me other than the rest of my family *finally* agrees on something).

6. The most entertaining thing from the blizzard was:
a. seeing my neighbor Angie shoveling off the roof of her house while her husband Gino sat in a lawnchair in the yard, drinking a few beers and taking pictures.
b. seeing tweets and texts from my friend Kate—who always mocks me for loving summer and suggests that winter is better—that included gems like, “I’ll bet you wish you were a prepper like me” followed the next day by “Wood for stove buried under 4 feet of snow, husband puking and less than a 1/8 tank of oil” and “Husband is puking and I can’t leave the babies to shovel my car out. Meanwhile, the neighbor has two plows and plowed HIS FRONT LAWN.”
c. getting giddy texts from my friend Steve (Kate’s husband) in the run-up to the storm declaring that the found a gas station that was selling 99 cent tuna grinders that they made right there in the station sink! Hmmm … probably no relation to the puking later.
d. knowing that my sons were as miserable as I was—if not more so—when we were removing the snow from the driveway with 40 mph wind gusts blowing it back in our faces.

7. The most frustrating thing from the blizzard was:
a. watching the cars going up and down the main road that we live off of, which is “only” about 100 feet away—100 feet packed with snow 3 feet high!
b. not having enough Grey Poupon on hand.
c. not having invented the totally awesome flamethrower/snowblower like I dreamed about doing while I was a kid shoveling snow.
d. having to admit that for once that the seemingly always hysterical weather forecasters weren’t overestimating potential accumulations.

8. The next time it snows, I will:
a. make sure to buy as much bread, milk, pudding mix and Coca-Cola as I can carry.
b. *NOT* stock up on 99 cent gas station tuna grinders, made in the sink or not.
c. have my flamethrower/snowblower built and ready to test out on my driveway—what could possibly go wrong?
d. turn off my phone before my sister the whore who lives in Miami can call me to tell me that it’s sunny and warm there, and she’s laying out at the beach (hopefully getting more wrinkly than Abe Vigoda’s ass).

9. True or false:
If there is a Hell, it is not hot like a tropical paradise or a pleasant sauna, but instead a miserable frozen, snow-covered wasteland like my freaking front yard.

10. Snow:
a. blows.
b. sucks.
c. is worse than being crammed in a clown car with John Wayne Gacy, Emmit Kelly and Pennywise.
d. freaking blows, sucks and is worse than being crammed in a clown car with John Wayne Gacy, Emmit Kelly and Pennywise—have I mentioned that I HATE SNOW?


Feb 082013

(No, not the ones in my head.)

So you know how sometimes you go to look one thing up on the intrawebz and then you find yourself sucked into about 20 other things, and then as you go to close your browser, you remember that you never even looked up the first thing you meant to?

Yeah, that’s how I came up with

Five of the Greatest. Dead. Voices. Ever!

1. Karen Carpenter – This is how this whole post started—I was looking up something about drumming in regard to my son (who is taking lessons), and I remembered how during Christmas I amazed my sister and wife with this little trivia nugget: Karen Carpenter is the greatest drummer to come out of New Haven, Connecticut!

They laughed because: A. They’re not old enough to remember any actual performances by The Carpenters; and B. They had no idea that The Carpenters came from New Haven; and C. They thought I was joking.

Well, I’m not:

That aside, Karen Carpenter had one of the most haunting, mellifluous voices in music history, and one of the most distinctive—as soon as you hear it, you know it’s her and absolutely no one else. Every note seem effortless, and she possessed that remarkable bittersweet quality. If you watch the clip above, you can see she sounded as good live as she did on record. Amazing.

Although there are plenty of songs from which to choose, I’m going with “Top of the World” because it’s probably their most happy song.

2. Eva Cassidy – Not many people know of this brilliant vocalist, who sadly died of cancer in 1996 before she really hit big. She had one CD, but thankfully, someone had the presence of mind to record a bunch of her live performances, which were simply remarkable.

After she died, some of those recordings were released, including her version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which found it way onto the BBC radio’s “Top of the Pops” program in Great Britain, where it lit up the phone banks—people called in demanding that they play it again and again. It became a hit, and a few of her covers, including “Time after Time,” also received a lot of airplay in England, and then eventually here in the U.S.

If you’ve never heard her version of Sting’s “Fields of Gold, prepare yourself for a beautiful, pure voice and maybe a few goosebumps … oh, and never wanting to hear any other version again.

3. Freddie Mercury – Really, do I need to explain this? A four-octave range, operatic sensibilities and the consummate showman.

4. Johnny Cash – Again, maybe known more for his distinctive baritone and delivery than his actual vocal abilities, but ol’ J.R. could belt it out when he wanted to.

With Johnny Cash, there are hundreds of examples of how he made his voice part of the song. This is one of my favorites, not because of the subject (obviously), but the way he *sings* this song (as opposed to that sort of talk-sing thing he often did)—it was late in his life, his once-formidable voice is weakening, but you can hear how he seems to be summoning everything he has left in it to reach his Lord. Inspiring to even us atheists.

5. Elvis – Before the gyrating pelvis, screaming girls and white jumpsuit, there was a guy from Tupelo Mississippi who could really sing, brandishing an amazing voice that could be at turns raucous and tender and that had tremendous range. Power ballads, rock’n roll, blues, gospel, that crappy stuff he did for the movies—there was pretty much nothing he couldn’t sing and not make memorable.

Even at the end, when he was fat, bloated, drug-addled Elvis, that voice was still there.

Again, like Johnny Cash, there are thousands of tunes from which to choose, but I’ll go with my wedding song.

He wasn’t The King by accident!

Feb 062013

So I saw this story about how police officers in Miami were busted for faking work.

From CBS News:

The Miami Dade Police Department has fired a sergeant and two officers and suspended three others without pay in what is considered one of the worst incidents of delinquency in the department’s history, CBS Miami reports.

The accusations vary against each officer, but they include: failing to respond to emergency calls, pretending to be on calls when they weren’t and falsifying police records, according to the station.

Yeah, that’s right—in a job where there are myriad ways to be watched, from duty reports and response records to surveillance video and eyewitness accounts, those tasked with policing others thought they could ignore emergency and crime calls to sit around drinking coffee (and eat donuts, amiright?!), run personal errands, hook up with girlfriends and generally avoid their professional responsibilities.

Now look, when it comes to goofing off at work, I think very few of us are willing to throw rocks from the confines of our glass cubicles. Anyone who has ever collected a paycheck has undoubtedly had a few minutes here and there of doing things that were not exactly “work-related” while on the clock. The actions of these officers, however, seems particularly egregious—even on my worst day, I never ignored an emergency call of a 5-year-old child in medical distress.

Then again, given my skill set and general lack of any useful abilities, I’ve generally been employed at jobs where not being completely focused on the task at hand has not caused any undue injury or hardship. But there are definitely certain professions out there that demand constant attention and care while working, say like surgeon, airline pilot, hostage negotiator or roller derby queen.

But yeah, I’ve definitely *had* me some gigs (not any more, OF COURSE) where there was copious amounts of “extracurricular” activities:

• While working my way through college, I landed a between-classes job at the SCSU student center, which meant I occasionally pulled duty in the game room. Now if there was ever a job where “play” is okay during business hours, this was it—we were allowed to shoot pool for free while we manned the desk, which involved charging others for pool, giving out quarters for video games and keeping track of ping pong balls. Let’s just say by the time I graduated, I was a fairly decent (although not great) billiards player.

I also would say that occasionally looking the other way when it was time for a comely young coed to pay—which would also somehow make the usage counter go to zero (oh dang) and result in no charge—in hopes of making a new “friend,” could be termed a lapse of focus while on the job, although I would say I was completely focused. Just not on work.

Speaking of making friends: I met one of my best friends, Big Balls Bob, while playing pool—we were both rocking out to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett while at tables across from each other. We started chatting and well, the rest (including meeting my wife) is history (for another day).

• One of my other pay-for-college jobs was working the stock room at Sears in Orange, and in a big warehouse without a lot of supervision, there was plenty of mischief for myself and a few of my buddies (Greg and Gary, in particular) to get into. One of our favorite unsanctioned activities was staging wrestling matches involving the 20-foot-high rack where they stored rugs. In front of it was usually a cushy stack of rolled rugs and rug pads, so dramatically climbing to the top of the rack and launching ourselves down on top of each others, à la Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, was something we’d do on a regular basis. How we never broke our fool necks doing this, I don’t know. But it was fun.

We also tried our hands at “the stock boy Olympics,” which involved “events” like seeing how fast we could use a sticker gun, how quickly we could handtruck a refrigerator across the loading dock and how far we could throw pieces of already-broken merchandise.

I recall one guy I worked with actually took furniture cushions and old blankets and made himself a nap nest of sorts up on top of one rack in the far back of the warehouse. You’d never find him unless you had a reason to be 25 feet up in the air in the area where the ceiling fans were stored. Now that I think of it, he actually may still be there 25 years later, slumbering away like Rip van Winkle.

I also remember we had one manager by the name of Marty who always tried to bust us while we were screwing around. (I say “bust us”; he may have gone with “make us do the work for which we were getting paid.” Semantics.) He used to have a big ring of noisy keys on his belt, so we usually heard him coming, except once when I saw him holding them and quietly stalking a pair of my co-workers who were shooting the breeze; he eventually sprung on them like a lion pouncing on hapless antelopes.

From then on, we goofed off with one eye open, so to speak.

• Before I start writing about my time working at ShopRite during the 1980s, I should probably ask about the statute of limitations on petty larceny …

Okay, let’s put it this way … I’m not saying *I* ever did this, but let’s say my friend who worked there—let’s call him “Ray”—remembers an occasion or two while working an unsupervised overnight shift during the Can Can sale that things got a little, shall we say, lax, particularly in relation to the unpaid procurement of grocery items for personal consumption. You know, like at around 3 a.m. when a bunch of hardworking college students could get hungry and decide that if they made a few sandwiches from the deli, took a few bags of chips, maybe a six-pack (or two) of beer and enjoyed an extended lunch break, it probably wouldn’t hurt anyone other than the rich millionaire owners who had gotten rich by underpaying us—er, them—in the first place, right? He’s not saying he’s proud of it, he’s just saying it might’ve happened.

He also may recall another night during the overnight shift where he started joking around with his buddy John who was stocking shelves in the next aisle over. For reasons that made sense then, they might’ve started blindly launching merchandise over the top of the racks in an effort to hit each other, an activity that ended badly when John chucked a plastic bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup that exploded upon impact—who in the name of Aunt Jemima knew a plastic bottle could shatter like that?—resulting in a horribly sticky mess that they had to scramble to try and clean up before the night supervisor caught them.

He would also say that cleaning up maple syrup is difficult under the best of circumstances, and attempting to do so quickly and quietly in an empty store at night, adds another degree of difficulty. Actually, he would say, if he had actually just had been working rather than goofing off, it would’ve been much easier.

But where’s the fun in that?