Mar 312013

So this isn’t usually the place to find world exclusives or breaking news, but that’s about to change …

For reasons I don’t understand and you probably don’t want to think about too much, I was contacted by none other than Kim Jong Un, the leader of the Republic of North Korea—apparently, he searched the web (it is “world wide,” after all) and found my site to be “most typically American.”


Hey, if you have followed anything that North Korea has done in the past few years, that happening makes as much sense as having Dennis Rodman be the unofficial ambassador to that country. Birds of a feather, I suppose.

Anyway, in light of recent tensions, Un asked if I would post this message from him … so in the spirit of world peace and the betterment of Man, I agreed.


Dear Soon-to-Be Party Members,

Now that the glorious nation of Korea has repeatedly demonstrated its military might and superiority, it is only a matter of time before your false leaders are forced to see the weakness of their spirit, and bow down to Korea in disgraced surrender. The government of the America of United States will then be no more, and I will be installed as your supreme commander.

Do not fear, however—I do not hold the people of America responsible for the actions of their cowardly politicians, and will not be looking to punish or eradicate all of you from the globe. Instead, once your feeble leaders have been whipped like the lying dogs they are, you all will be assimilated into the Best Korea way of life.

As such, here are some of the great and wonderful changes that you can expect to now bring happiness into your sad lives as your follow along in your transformation from weaklings to super humans, much like my fellow members of the Korean’s People’s Party have done.

I will list these in a proper numerical order so that your improved education will start on the most fundamental level—with learning to count the Korean way.

Kim Jong-1: No more obesity – Here in Korea, our people are not dimpled, oversized bags of fat like Americans because they do not enjoy the obscene amounts of choice when it comes to nourishment. Koreans are lean, always-hungry people—and not only hungry for actual food, which the majority don’t have, but for my spiritual guidance.

The severe lack of available sustenance has also helped the people of Korea become something Americans are not: resourceful and imaginative. Tell me, in America, do you take advantage of the decadent nutritional options around you, such as the grass that grows in your ample yards or the bark off of the many trees? Here in Korea we do, and soon you will be thin and unencumbered by such diseases as Type 2 diabetes, as we are.

As for my personal r0bust physique—I am nourished solely by the love and affection of my people. It is only through my rigorous exercise program that I am not a jellied ham-bear like most Americans are (for now).

Kim Jong-2: No more gun murders or mass shootings – There will be no more deadly school murders in America or any other type of gun violence because only members of my military will have guns, and ABSOLUTELY NO ONE ELSE. Period.

This system has worked without flaw in Korea, so I know it will also be met with success in the America of United States. Those who do not willingly give up their firearms immediately will be compelled to do so WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Those who resist will be dealt with severely.

This change also means that your diminishing energies will also not be wasted on silly things like gun-control debates.

Speaking of which …

Kim Jong-3: No more debates of any kind – There will be no more conflict brought about by expressions of free speech because free speech will not exist. Going forward, I, as you supreme commander, will do all the thinking and have all the opinions that you will ever need. Public policy and thought will be dictated by me as it has been done here in Korea, first by my grandfather, and then by my father, before me.

Again, this system has worked without flaw, so I expect nothing but complete cooperation. For those who do not feel compelled to oblige voluntarily, they will be persuaded to do so in a manner that might not be described as “pleasant” or “one that you will live through.”

Kim Jong-4: No more distractions such as Facebook, Twitter or the Internet – We have severely limited and heavily restricted internet access in Korea, and it has served our people well. With more than 99 percent of the population off-line, they have not been corrupted by ridiculous mind-weakening American ideas like democracy, freedom of speech or expression, or the pursuit of unfettered happiness.

Again, the perfect model of Korea stands as a shining beacon to all. Join our flame or be extinguished like a moth.

Kim Jong-5: No more traffic jams – As Korea has successfully eschewed the sins of material wealth that have plagued the weaklings of the West, we have been able to create a utopia where the wide, abundant and beautiful streets of our cities are not clogged with unwanted personal vehicles.

Rather than becoming physically and mentally weak by relying on mechanized methods of transportation, Korea is a bastion of self-reliance, in every sense of the term. Unless it is for the direct use of our military, party members are expected to make their way about either by public transportation, which fosters better togetherness, or by foot, which fosters great health.

Kim Jong-6: No more reliance on fossil fuels – An example to all of mankind, Korea is striving to become a more green nation, as many of you Americans profess to aspire to. We are moving away from powering our nation with planet-destroying energies such as oil, gas or coal—and the infidels who profit from that consumption—and have instead eagerly embraced the clean and mighty fuel of the future.

Apparently, it also works in weapons—who knew?

Kim Jong-7: No more energy wasted on trying to emulate false reality-show TV idols – As in Korea, all television and radio stations will be run by my ministry of communications, and will ONLY feature state-approved programming. Thus, there will be no more keeping up with any fat-bottomed American media whores, no watching of the irresponsible spouses of various vile locations, no enjoying the capricious activities of inbred hill folk or their mentally impaired, beauty pageant-loving offspring.

This ban will also extend to all so-called American entertainment including fictional programs and movies, non-fictional programs and movies, professional sports endeavors, historical or informational programming and all pornography. Cooking shows will remain as your population learns to assimilate to their new Korean diet of occasional rice, grasses, bugs and tree bark.

Your new entertainment will reflect Korean values and interests, which means plenty of shows about me, my father and grandfather. (But mostly me.)

Kim Jong-8: No more concerns about funding independent artistic expression – To fashion a more-focused and cohesive society like the one we enjoy in Korea, all new art in every medium will focus on one subject, and one subject only—your supreme commander. No exceptions!

All the old art filling your museums and galleries will be destroyed immediately to make way for all the new art that specially designated party members will be allowed to create. If it is not obvious already, every side of me is my best side, but I will leave it to my hand-picked artists to show me in ways that even the many, many ignorant Americans should be able to appreciate.

Kim Jong-9: No more arguments about the growing divide between American social classes – As it is in Korea, it will be here in America—only two social classes: me and the rest of you.

This is good news for all of those who do not possess much, as their lives should not change all that dramatically, if at all. Those who currently possess great wealth, however, may find their lives somewhat impacted as every bit of their money and possessions will be immediately taken and added to my personal accounts until I can best decide how to use those assets in pursuit of even more military might and everlasting Korean glory.

Again, this model has powered Korea to much success, so to do anything less than take all of your riches would be madness. And I am clearly not mad.

Kim Jong-10: No more arguments regarding religion or faith – There is only ONE true form of worship, and that is of ME!

And the sooner you learn to bow down and accept it, the better it will be for you.




P.S. Remember, we will always be watching …


Mar 292013

The other day we were talking about some of the child-oriented shows we used to watch. Luckily, my offspring fell between the eras of “Barney” and “Yo Gabba Gabba,” but it didn’t mean that there weren’t …

Five Craptastic Shows That My Kids Occasionally Watched

1. “Boohbah” 

Seriously, WTF IS THIS?! Really, watch the clip and you’ll see why mere words are not enough to describe this … this.

The only other thing I’ll add to your future nightmare is this subliminal thought: “uncircumsized.”

2. “Teletubbies”

Like “Boobah,” my kids only watched this abomination a handful of times, but it was enough to scar me for life. Ironically, whenever we passed the large, grassy mound of a landfill on the River Road in Shelton, my youngest son would refer to it as “Teletubby Land.” Appropriate.

Still, I don’t know what bothered me so much about it. Possibly the incomprehensible language? I mean, accusations were always made against heavy metal gods Judas Priest for hiding subliminal Devil-worshipping messages in their music via backward masking, but has anyone done a proper audio study of the noises the Teletubbies made? I’m pretty sure what you’d hear would be along the lines of this:

“Hey boys and girls, we’re coming to kill you. Tinky Winky is going to snack on your tinky winky. La-La is thirsting for your blood. Dipsy will get ripsy on your heart. Po is just going to eat your soul,  s-l-o-w-l-y and without prejudice. And your brains? They will be feasted upon by that baby in the sun. Sleep tight!”

3. “Caillou”

I could never figure what the deal was with this bald, whiny twerp—did he have cancer? If he did, after watching a few episodes featuring this annoying, cloying dipshit, I could only actively root for his white cells to lose a long, protracted battle, sending him to a painful demise. I also think Caillou is a fromage-munching surrender monkey via Canada, which would explain—although not excuse—a lot.

The aspect of the show that really bothered me was the father—pretty sure that he kept on that terrible sweater all the time, even when he was driving his rape van around the neighborhood and collecting the innocence of Caillou’s vapid friends. “It’s okay … Caillou likes to be tickled like this.”


I also seem to recall that on the final episode of the series, Caillou finds his mother in a running bathtub with her wrists slit, a blood-stained note clutched in her pruned fingers … “No .. more .. tears …”

It’s funny—I tried to watch some of this clip and I so hate this show, I couldn’t stomach more than about 10 seconds. I have no idea what happens if you watch the whole thing—Caillou might get trampled to death by a pack of incontinent water buffaloes for all I know. (Now that would be entertainment!) Again, after about two or three episodes, my kids had enough, thankfully. So we didn’t watch anymore.

My spiritual inspiration Steve tells me that after his son started watching it, he couldn’t bear it anymore, so he told his son, “Sorry, but Caillou died. All gone!” If only.

4. “Thomas The Tank Engine”


5. “Franklin”

Why does Franklin wear only a red neckerchief and nothing else? Is his shell supposed to be his clothes? And why the hell is he the only one with a real name? The bear is called “Bear,” the snail is called “Snail,” the goose is “Goose,” the fox is “Fox,” and even the freaking beaver (a girl, by the way) is called “Beaver.”

Franklin also did extensive time in the “Caillou School of Perpetual Whinging,” which didn’t endear him to anyone. He also shared Caillou’s lack of hair, although at least he had the decency to put on a baseball cap on occasion.

I always hoped that we’d tune in one day to see Bear sitting in the middle of Franklin’s room, covered in blood and surrounded by three empty shells. After sucking bits of marrow out of a bone, he’d then wipe his mouth with that red neckerchief and belch.

Now that would be good TV!


Mar 272013

So even though the Supreme Court is already making noise that it may take the cowardly route and not make a broad ruling on same-sex marriage, I’m hoping that once they get in chambers behind closed doors, the conversation goes something like this:

Justice Roberts: All right, we’ve heard the arguments, so let’s get to it. What do you all think?

Justice Kagan: Well, having been accused of being gay by the press, politicians, religious leaders, community leaders, lobbyists, attorneys, economists, doctors, lawyers, hobos, small children and even hyperactive spider monkeys—all essentially based on my haircut, love of softball and smoking cigars—I think it’s safe to say that even though it’s absolutely no one’s business but my own how I choose to love, I can identify with the homosexual community. As such, I’m all for ending this homophobic hate disguised as “morality.”

Justice Sotomayor: I am in complete agreement. I know from my own upbringing that people are people, and no one should be discriminated against in the eyes of the law because of inconsequential factors such as their family heritage, the color of their skin or whom they love.

Justice Thomas: [*nods in agreement*]

Justice Breyer: Hey, I grew up in San Francisco, so all this “gay” stuff is old news to me. Put me down too for undoing what the haters in California did, and making the laws of the land equitable for everyone.

Justice Alito: Hey, where did all the marshmallow peeps go? That candy dish was full of them when we sat down.

Justice Thomas: [*tries to swallow something but just shrugs*]

Justice Alito: Well anyway, I was in the army, so I see this as an extension of don’t ask, don’t tell … because it’s no one’s freaking business. I vote for ending discrimination.

Justice Kennedy: To be honest, I’d prefer to kick this one back down to the states.

Justice Roberts: Instead of “Bend It Like Beckham,” it’s “Kick It Like Kennedy.” I don’t think we can do that this time around, though.

Justice Kennedy: Very funny, Johnny boy. But I do agree. I’m already on record repeatedly as pretty much for gay marriage, so no need to turn back now. It’d be like trying to eat just one Pringle. Can’t stop once you pop!

Justice Thomas: [*nods vigorously*]

Justice Scalia: Although I’m not a fan of it, what those people do in private ultimately doesn’t affect me. What I’m concerned about is the Constitution, and nowhere in that fine document does it say anything about denying rights based on sexual orientation. The first thing the Bill of Rights says is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” so to protect intolerance and discrimination that seems to be religion-based isn’t going to fly with me. I say the bastards are legally entitled to be as miserable as the rest of us.

Justice Bader-Ginsburg: Funny, but the majority of the opposition include groups who carp about “protecting the family” and are fundamentally Christian, yet as a non-Christian, I was allowed to participate without any restriction in the institution they are so vociferously defending on the basis of their faith. So to deny anyone access to the same benefits on faith-based arguments don’t hold vaser, as they say.

Justice Roberts: So that’s eight for, which means how I vote really doesn’t matter. Although I’m personally with Tony on “the other team,” I have to put my prejudices aside. As I’ve been charged to do, I must abide by the Constitution and the law, which forces me to agree solely on the basis of the discrimination, as much as it sickens me to do. So that makes it unanimous! Not that that there’s anything wrong with it.

Justice Kagan: Of course not!

Justice Roberts: Okay now that that’s been decided, let’s dance**!



**Okay, the dancing *might* be too much to hope for, but hey, there are no laws against dreaming, right?


Mar 252013

So this past weekend, we attended PAX East in Boston—and if you have no idea what this (like I did up to a few weeks ago), it’s the largest gaming event on the East Coast. It’s a huge expo for everything video- and board-game related, and features hundreds of gaming companies sharing and marketing games. Not surprisingly, it draws thousands of gamers, like cash-laden moths to flames.

If you can’t guess, it wasn’t my idea to attend—my two sons (aged 13 & 11) are heavily into video games. (Shocker, right?) So with Boston only about a two-hour drive, this is an excursion that’s not too much of a burden and will make them pretty happy. Why the heck not, right?

Now, I’ve been New York Comic Con a number of times, which is different in that it’s dedicated to comic books and skews more toward sci-fi and fantasy, so I think going in that I know what to expect. But after a short time, I realize that even though there’s thousands of passionate fans crushing together in a large convention hall, it’s not quite the same.

In fact, here are

The Top 10 Things I Learned About PAX (the gaming convention, not the Jeebus TV channel)

1. Nerds!!!!

Yeah, another shocker. Even if it’s not about comic books, it still brings the future rulers of the world out of their mothers’ basements and dens of geekery. And really, who am I fooling? I may not play video games, but I am certainly a nerd, as are my sons, so these are *our* people. It feels good to be among them.

2. LOTS of nerds!!!

Seriously, we get a late jump on Sunday morning and get there about 15 minutes after the doors officially open and not only are the convention center lots all full, but the roads are absolutely jammed in all directions with gamers trying to find places to park. After a few minutes, I let my wife and kids get out and go in while I tried to follow the slow moving stream of cars to the “overflow” lots, which are almost a mile away. Along the way I see a parking garage—I ask a cop directing traffic if it’s okay to park there. He tells me I can, but then it’s about a “quarter mile” walk to the convention center and there was no shuttle bus. (Okay, being Bahstahn, he says it’s a “qwawtah mile, pal” but I understand what he means.)

Since I run a few miles every other day, this doesn’t seem like a problem, so rather than spend another half hour driving to the lot and then waiting for the shuttle, I drive in. Definitely a decision that would put a smile on George Costanza’s face—lots of spots, not a bad walk (it was sunny and in the 40s), and coming out at the end of the day, it only costs $9 and I get right on I-90 without any hassle. Sweet!

That aside, there are tons of people in the convention center, but unlike the Javits Center in New Yawk—er, York—the Boston Convention Center is a huge, soaring space with lots of room to get around. Even with the huge crowds, it’s a very pleasant experience.

3. Sex sells.

Duh, right? Not quite as overt as some of the stuff I’ve seen at Comic Con, but all the video game heroes enjoy sculpted ‘roid-fueled hardbodies while the heroines enjoy gravity-defying figures of porn-star proportions.

4. Violence takes a holiday? – I don’t know if it’s a response to Sandy Hook or just the way the gaming industry is headed, but there seems to be less of a presence of violent first-person shooter games. Not that they aren’t there—we see a display for Halo 4 tucked away in a corner—just not as prominent as you might expect considering how popular they are. I do see that they had a panel addressing violent games and the effect on children. Just thought it was interesting.

5. Cosplay takes a holiday? – Unlike Comic Con where every other person seems to be dressed as a hero, villain or Harley Quinn, I’d say only 1 in about 20 are in costume. The two best: a girl who dresses up as GLaDOS from Portal, which is cool because you never see GLaDOS in the game, but as soon as my son spots her, all dressed in white and carrying a large piece of cake (it’s a lie!) he knows exactly who it is; and a young girl decked out as Fionna from “Adventure Time” and her faithful dad, who has on a Jake the Dog costume. Cool dad!

6. Gamers are encouraged to get their game on.

Unlike Comic Con, where there are usually only a few video game companies who set up sample games for fans to play, pretty much every booth has an opportunity for fans to try out new games. This is awesome because even though there are thousands in attendance, there aren’t huge lines at every exhibit (unless it’s something uber popular like the new Elder Scrolls game). My sons are able to play multiple games with only minimal waits. Nice!

The convention also has multiple free gaming areas where you cam play tons of different games on various consoles. Very user friendly, I have to say.

7. Bacon-wrapped turkey drumsticks!

I mean, it may simply be the greatest. lunch. EVAR!

8. Gaming tables?!

I don’t know if this picture does it justice, but what you’re essentially looking at is a deluxe $5,000 iPad with legs that a bunch of gamers can sit around and all play at the same time.

Absolutely freakin’ cool! And brilliant.

The salesman there tells me that there are other smaller models that start at $2,500—it doesn’t take too much imagination to figure that these will start coming down in price and eventually there may be one in every house like a pool table or ping-pong table. Just throw a few cup holders on that bad boy, and we’re all set!

9. Don’t leave early to get the car or you might miss Jonathan Coulton – So being the good chauffeur that I am, I decided that rather than make my family walk all the way to the car, I’ll go get it and call from my cell when I’m close. In the 15 minutes I’m trudging out to the parking garage, my wife and sons get to meet the singer-songwriter responsible for such fun and catchy tunes as “re: your brains,” “Code Monkey,” “IKEA” and the theme to Portal. You also might know the name from the recent news when the TV show “Glee” ripped off his version of “Baby Got Back.”

I, on the other hand, get to meet a pee-stained hobo named Butch on my walk. (Well, I’m guessing his name was Butch; we didn’t exchange business cards.)

10. There’s a SUPER ZAXXON!!!


Okay, the only arcade game I ever came close to mastering was Zaxxon, so imagine my shock and joy when we are in the free Classic Arcade room and I discover there is a “SUPER” VERSION of the game! It’s as if I somehow missed an important stage of my development, say like all of 1983.

Of course, I run over and start playing. It’s a little different then I expect, and I’m a bit rusty, to say the least. With other gamers waiting to try, I can’t set the high score, but I do a respectable job.

Granted, it may not be my shining moment, but it does make my day! Video games forever!!!!




Mar 192013

So I couldn’t help but ignore the fact that after I wrote about how eagerly I am anticipating spring this week, Mother Nature decided to take a big white dump all over the Northeast on Monday night. Not only did she make a mess, but she made me miss a lecture being given by one of my favorite people, Dr. Kenny Feder.

Spiteful bitch!

Thus, as I was shoveling the sloppy mess out of my driveway on Tuesday morning, I thought it was time to channel my best Reb Tevye and have A Chat with Mother Nature . . . .

Me: So, I can’t help but notice that despite everyone wanting to move on to Spring, you’re insisting on keeping the dial cranked up to 11 on winter.

Mother Nature:

Me: Yeah, that’s what I thought you might say, which is fine. I didn’t figure you owed me an explanation as to why you would continue this aberrant behavior. I’m guessing you’re still pissed about the whole global-warming, climate-change thing, and that’s why you’re choosing to smite us with multiple hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes and all sorts of extended nasty weather, right? That, or you’re still angry over the whole Chiffon incident. Hey, I wasn’t involved with that! No need to hold a grudge.

Mother Nature:

Me: Ahh, okay. You’re acting just like I would—holding your tongue and trying to take the High Road, which we both know that I’ve become synonymous with, and rightly so. Don’t try to steal my act, Missy!

Mother Nature:

Me: Yeah, whatev. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and who can blame you for wanting to be more like me? So I guess it’s safe to say that despite my pleas and the calendar’s scheduled insistence, it’s not going to get all Springy here any time soon. You know you’re not endearing yourself to anyone, aside from people like my whore of a sister who now lives in Florida and insists on calling me every time it snows to just laugh and hang up, right?

Mother Nature:

Me: Yeah, it gets more and more hysterical every freakin’ time—hahahaha ha … ha …. hah. So all of us who live in places where we can appreciate all your beauty via the changes in season can go pound snow. is that it? For the record, I think your handiwork in October in Connecticut makes it the greatest place on the planet to be . . . .

Mother Nature:

Me: So flattery isn’t going to cut it? Fine. I guess that’s it, then? Screw the groundhog and the rest of us, it’s just going to continue to be March as usual, a month of teasing nicer weather but giving us damp cold, fierce wind and a landscape that’s mostly brown and muddy, you know, aside from when you really want to screw with us and throw down some white, like last night. Well, they’ve always said, “Mother Nature’s a bitch.” I guess it’s true.

Mother Nature: [*on the wind*] Jeeeeerk

Me: Wait, what? Did you actually say something?

Mother Nature:

Me: Okayyy then. Well, thanks again for dragging me out of a warm bed early and into a cold rain before 7 a.m. In appreciation, I’m going to burn some styrofoam later, or find me a baby seal to club! Something to get get you back. So take that! Yeah! I’m gonna learn you!

Mother Nature:

Me: That’s right! I can hear you quivering in your … uh .. robes? Although I’m the one shivering in my boots right now. Okay, you win *this* round. Next time, though—no more Mr. Nice Guy. I’m really gonna find a baby seal … or at least some styrofoam. (I think we got some in the basement.) Just watch your step!

Mother Nature:

Me: [*a single tear rolls down my cheek, a la Chief Iron Eyes Cody*] I freaking hate snow.



Mar 172013

When I was a kid, my mother used to recite a particular verse around this time of year:

Spring has sprung; the bird is on the wing!
That’s absurd; The wing is on the bird!

She used to lay her Brooklyn accent heavy on it, pronouncing “absurd” like “ab-soyd” and “bird” as “boyd.”

I guess it’s a New Yawk thing …

That aside, I am more than done with winter and ready to turn the calendar to warmer, sunnier weather. Of course, we’re not that quite there yet—the first official day of spring isn’t until Wednesday—but I am more than ready for it.

In fact, here are

The Top 10 Signs That Spring is Almost Here

1. I want to run outside, and *almost* don’t mind exercising, in general. (Gotta get my body back into bikini shape.)

2. I’m increasingly thinking about the upcoming NFL draft and 2013 season and have pretty much deleted from my mind everything about the 2012 season for the Jets. (Although there are certain moments that will be harder to forget.)

3. I’ve caught myself driving around more and more with the windows cracked open, and it has nothing to do with passing gas and the need for air baths.

4. My daffodils are ready to pop—and that’s not an euphemism.

5. Speaking of popping daffodils—my nose is beginning to run, which means whatever it is that causes my spring allergies is drifting into the air. I’m thinking I’m not alone on this …

6. I’m opening the blinds and curtain in our bedroom to let the sunshine in because there’s actual sunshine to let in, even after getting home from work.

7. Even though the New York Mets appear to be “rebuilding” for the sixth straight year, and are still showing no evidence that they’re anywhere near being a competitive baseball team, I actually have the periodic pang of curiosity that compels me to check For the record, almost every time afterward I’m immediately depressed and tell myself that I’m not going to waste my time on a team that has been run into the ground by incompetent ownership, you know, which is *obviously* the complete opposite of the Jets.

8. I don’t have to scrape my windshield every single morning, and it’s not because I’ve somehow managed to finagle the occasional turn parking in our one-car garage.

9. I’m no longer checking home heating oil prices on an hourly basis. Now that the ground is thawing, I am, however, checking the basement after every significant rain storm for flooding. So there’s that.

10. The new Pope saw his shadow after he ventured out of the conclave.


Mar 152013

So I have to admit, even though I’m an avowed atheist, I’m sort of curious about the new pope, the former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. Unlike many of the prior popes, this guy seems to be cut from a little different cloth.

Now, I’m not going to suddenly be believing or anything (sorry Grandma!), but I am interested in this.

Thus, here are

Five Thoughts About The New Pope

1. His name – Apparently I was wrong about him choosing the name Francis in honor of Joe Francis, the founder of “Girls Gone Wild,” as I originally Tweeted/Facebooked earlier this week. I thought that maybe the church was headed in a radical new direction. Not so much.

Of course, when I hear the name Francis, I think of this:

Evidently, the Pope chose the name it in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of creatures large and small. Believe it or not, back when I was a youth and subjected to the Catholic church, I also chose to honor St. Francis by choosing his name for confirmation, which I thought made sense as he was a friend to animals and I really love barbecue.

So with the pope, it’s almost like we’re twins! You know, aside from the differences in age, religion, nationality, looks, intelligence, piety, accomplishments and general competence.

2. His age – He’s 76 years young! Seriously though, I don’t mean to disparage, but hiring a guy who is well past the age of retirement in every country to run one of the biggest organizations in the world (if not the biggest—1 out of 6 people are part of it!) may not be the best long-term strategy. Considering that said organization arguably needs a bit of 21st-century reform (actually catching up to some 20th-century reform would be a good place to start) and has some major challenges facing it, you might think a younger, more dynamic choice may have been the way to go. Just sayin’.

Not to be ageist, but by comparison, Pope John Paul II, who really made a major impact on the church and the globe, was 58 when he took the chair of St. Peter—almost 20 years younger than the current pontiff. I mean, this may work out, but would it also wouldn’t be a surprise if the cardinals are gathering again sooner rather than later.

3. His humble rootsPope Francis is a Jesuit, which if you’re not familiar with all the branches of godliness, is kind of what you expect from a priest as opposed to the obscene wealth and opulence that you see on display in Vatican. In other words, he takes his vow of poverty seriously.

When he claimed the gig as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he eschewed most of the exorbitant trappings that came with the title—rather than lounge about the archbishop’s palace and cruise about in a limo, he lived in a small apartment and regularly rode the bus. He focused on the needs of the poor, cooked his own meals and even flew economy class when traveling.

In other words, don’t be surprised to see the Popemobile turn up on the next episode of “Pawn Stars.”

Rick: So what do you have for me today?

The Pope: I got my car that I’d like to sell.

Rick: Okay, what are you looking to get for it?

The Pope: It’s valued at $500,000, but I’d be happy with half of that. You know, all the money will go to helping the poor.

Rick: Hmm … let me see … I see it has a few dings in the glass … and it’s not brand-new. Did John Paul II ride in it?

The Pope: Uh … no. This was before the holy father.

Rick: Too bad. JP2 collectibles are still really hot right now. And if he never got shot in this thing, well, that lowers the value even more. This is just a plain old Popemobile. Let’s see … I’m going to have a hard time moving this, and then I got to clean it up a bit and try to make a profit on it … tell you what—I’ll give you $1,500 for it.

The Pope: What?! Brand new it’s worth well over $100,000.

Rick: But this isn’t brand new. I’ll go $2,000, and not a penny more.

The Pope: The money will go to the poor, my son. How about $50,000?

Rick: Look, I’m trying to stay out of the poor house myself, padre. $2,300, and that’s my final offer.

The Pope: Hmm … we do need the money … that’s cash, right? Okay, I’ll take it.

Rick: Great! Write ’em up, Chumlee …

Or something like that.

4. His agenda – Okay, this is a spot I have a little problem, as when it comes to social issues, this guy appears to be a little right of the previous pope, who you may recall was actually a member of the Hitler Youth.

Seriously though, he’s against gay marriage and gay adoption and the free distribution of contraceptives, which really, is not much of a surprise given how Catholic most priests are. The early whispers are that he is a man of the people and could turn out to be a reformer, but until we see him in action, I’ll hold judgement on this.

5. His sense of humor – Compared to the last guy, who I’m pretty sure didn’t even crack a smile in his 7 years on the job, Pope Francis is already crackin’ up the boys.

From the London Evening Standard:

It followed a celebration dinner in the Vatican last night with the 114 cardinals who elected him the 266th Pope. He jokingly told them: “I hope you don’t regret this.”

US cardinal Timothy Dolan said Francis toasted colleagues and said: “‘May God forgive you’, which brought the house down.”

As I’ve always said, anybody with a genuine sense of humor—and humility—is usually okay. As with most things, time will tell. Let’s see if he’s still yucking it up in a few years from now.


Mar 132013

So I obviously have no insight to the goings on in the conclave of cardinals other than what everyone else already knows: That no one was elected pope on the first try. Yet, I can’t help but have a sense of what’s going on inside the Sistene Chapel ….

Cardinal 1 [*finishing counting votes*]: All right—it looks like we don’t have a winner here. We’re going to have to burn these and do it again.

All cardinals: Groooooaaaannnn.

Cardinal 2: So anybody else hungry? Should we send out for some food?

Cardinal 3: Sounds great—just no Italian.

Cardinal 2: Agreed. How about some Chinese?

Cardinal 4: No—too much MSG. Not good for my high-blood pressure.

Cardinal 5: How about some Thai?

Cardinal 6: Mexican?

Cardinal 7: Both of those are too spicy. Don’t want any rumbling in the cloisters, if you know what I mean.

Cardinal 2: We could go with some Subway—everyone could order their own.

Cardinal 8: Sandwiches are so … common. Look around—a foot-long BLT would clash with the opulence.

Cardinal 3: True.

Cardinal 6: Spanish?

Cardinal 7: Again, another way of saying too spicy.

Cardinal 3: Shawarma?

Cardinal 6: Do we look like the blessed Avengers?

Cardinal 2: Well, we do wear bright robes . . .

Cardinal 4 [*long sigh*]: My patience is waning, as is my blood sugar. Can we get something decent to eat here before Revelations comes about?

Cardinal 8: There’s always French—that certainly fits our station.

Cardinal 5: Sounds good, but how many take-out French restaurants do you know?

Cardinal 1: Excellent point.

Cardinal 4: How about barbeque? We already got the fire going!

All cardinals: Groooaaaaannnnn ….

Cardinal 5: My brothers, this is silly! We have a lot of great suggestions here, maybe we can find some common ground.

Cardinal 3: Well … how about we put it to a vote?

Cardinal 1: Great idea! I’ll get the ballots …

Mar 102013

So a few months ago, I had gone out with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. At one point during the night, he said to me, “So, you work full-time at the magazine, you have the Damned Connecticut blog, the rayality thing, you’re married and have two kids who do all sorts of activities, right?”

“Yeah,” I said. “That sounds about right.”

“So …” he continued. “When did you find time to write a book?”

I’ve actually been asked this question (or variations of it) at a few of my book signings, and I’d like to say, looking back, I have absolutely no idea how I did it. I mean, I know that the publishing company gave me a year to do it, and it got done and is now in print—and still available at, thank you very much—but it was definitely a challenge to say the least.

Okay, I do have *a clue* how I did it. About two or three months into the process, I woke up one night in a full-on panic attack. At that point, all I had done was about half of the first chapter, which is about Benedict Arnold, and I suddenly realized that at the pace I was writing, there was absolutely no way I was going to get it done by my deadline. I was totally overwhelmed, a feeling that only seemed more desperate at 3:17 a.m., as most things do at that hour. I was pacing around the bedroom, freaking out. I genuinely considered contacting the publisher and offering to send back my advance in order to be allowed to quit the project.

Obviously, it never came to that because despite my meltdown, the math prevailed.

And not the arithmetic involved with figuring out the money I would be paid (although that was a factor). No, I sat down with a calculator and figured out how I could write a book.

Essentially, I needed to have a completed manuscript of 70,000 words. Working backward, I wanted to be done with the original draft about a month ahead of the deadline so I could re-write it once or twice. From the moment I was freaking out to that target day, it was “only” 200 days away, thus, I needed to write 350 words a day to get it done on time.

Again, that doesn’t sound like a big deal—just a few paragraphs a day, right? But those had to be *researched* paragraphs since the book is a collection of historical biographies and just making stuff up is apparently frowned upon. (Note: Next book will be full of stuff I make up!) And that 350 words/day rate would be writing every single day with no time off.

Ultimately, that’s what I did. If I missed a day, or knew I was going to be busy and couldn’t write, I doubledowned and wrote 700 or, occasionally 1,050 words, if necessary. I know it’s maybe not the most romantic story, but hey, it worked. I was able to relax, stuck to the schedule, had no more freak outs and finished right on time. Sweet, right?

That being all said, this weekend, what with losing an hour to daylight savings time and other activities (like going to roller derby and The Connecticut Bride Expo; don’t ask!), is one where I would’ve been scrambling to make up missing words.

So rather than knocking out a long-winded and witty post, here are two things I’ve recently written for Damned Connecticut that you might enjoy:

The Dark Day – In Connecticut, we’ve been getting used to freaky storms and weird events over over the past few years lately—hurricanes, blizzards, Frankenstorms, tornadoes, even an earthquake—but none were unusual as the darkness that descended on May 19, 1780.

The Headless Horseman of Canton – New York isn’t the only state who has a legend about a headless equestrian phantom who terrorizes wayward travelers on lonely and dark back roads.

Now the trick is if you have time to read them …

Mar 082013

So as I sit here and continue to contribute to the decline of Western Civilization in my own special way, I realize it just can’t be avoided. So much material to write about! From shows about hillbilly duck call makers dominating our attention to crazed megalomaniacs threatening the world with nuclear annihilation, there is no shortage of subjects to skewer, and really, no shortage of people to skewer them.

Still, I wish that certain people were still here to help … in fact, here are

Five Dead Brilliant People Whose Wit We Still Need

1. Mark Twain

Can you imagine how the man who said, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself,” and, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress,” would be tearing up our political system right now? Holy leaping frog of Calaveras County! Considering the wonderfully nasty edge he displayed with comments like, “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it,” ol’ Samuel Clemens—possibly our first insult comedian—would be right up there in the chorus with the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

2. Dorothy Parker

If you’re not familiar with this brilliant author, poet, critic and charter member of the Algonquin Round Table, let’s just say she was a little less vicious than most feeding sharks. Here are a few of her gems: “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised;” “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to;” and “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” Without a doubt, she’d be the perfect blogger and media critic, considering she said of one book, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” Could only imagine how she would eviscerate Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey.

3. Tallulah Bankhead

Wikipedia describes her as “an American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host and bonne vivante.” Nowadays you might go with “a hot mess”—think of Charlie Sheen without all the …. well, actually, think Charlie Sheen, period. She was brassy, bawdy and a boozer. Some quotes: “I’m as pure as the driven slush;” “Cocaine isn’t habit forming. I should know—I’ve been using it for years;” “My father warned me about men and booze, but he never mentioned a word about women and cocaine;” and, channeling her inner warlock, “Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.” I could see her with her own one-woman show, talking about her life and destroying all comers.

4. Groucho Marx

In addition to literally being a comedy icon, the leader of the Marx Brothers was the very definition of quick-witted. I’ve seen various interviews with him later in his life, and I can’t get over how fast and sharp he was. A few great comments: “I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book;” “No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend;” “Here’s to our wives and girlfriends… may they never meet!” and “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” His lightning wit was an asset when he hosted “You Bet Your Life,” which would make him the perfect talk show host today.

5. Erma Bombeck

She may have seemed like a frustrated housewife, spinning stories laced with gentle humor, but there was a sharp undertone in her books and columns. “I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex;” “Never have more children than you have car windows;” “When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” In addition to continuing writing books and columns, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had her own TV show like Dave Barry did. Of course, they’d have to go with the title of one of her most famous books: “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank.” I’d watch that!