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Spit Out Your Gum

Words and Music, Clearly

Updated: 2018-03-07T18:46:02.115-05:00


Stop The Madness And Let Me Sleep!


Somebody recently asked me my dream job. I said to get paid for sleeping. I do it very well. Perhaps it's my greatest talent. But the news today might impinge on my soporific enjoyment and keep me tossing and turning in rage. Some alleged experts are saying that the ideal night's sleep for a human is seven hours, not the time-honored eight hours we've all believed for so long.

This stinks. Useless research "findings" should be sequestered. I say useless because what's the point? Who really has the luxury to (and the anality) to sustain a regimented sleeping schedule? Layabouts and prisoners only, I would wager. Life is just too busy, discombobulated, and ornery to allow most non-layabouts and unincarcerated people the opportunity for prolonged sleep-as-one-wishes periods. Eight is such a nice ideal. The most well-rounded number, fitting neatly into the 24-hour cycle, eight hours of sleep seems so reasonable. But now, with prices of everything only going up and up, with personal freedoms infringed upon and outright eliminated seemingly by the day, and with the task of just getting through the day until one can finally make it to bed getting more and more difficult, THEY are telling us to get less sleep. What's next, 2 + 2 = 5?

For a short, but long enough to be scientifically valid, glorious period of my life, I had the luxury to establish (though really it was discover) my body and mind and soul's natural rhythm. I slept from 3 a.m. until 11 a.m. No need for an alarm clock; I just naturally woke up after eight wonderful hours of sleep. Gone was the need for my favorite hobby: napping. I was more productive and happier during this time than any time in my life. Eight was enough, perfect, natural. Now, allegedly evidently, it's too much.

Loot my wallet, invade and curb my privacy, circumscribe my rights of expression, feel me up at the airport, but damn it, don't screw with my sleep. Wake all of us sleeping giants out there an hour early and that mega-revolution you all fear will erupt. I'm just warning you. Sleep on that.

My Latest Pet Peeve


Nothing really new, but these parkers seem to be proliferating, and I can't stand them.

If there's any divine justice in the afterlife, these people will be getting their ears flicked for eternity.

In Praise Of Elasticity


Intrigued but not wholly believing, I like to read my horoscope at the end of the day, to see just how accurate the dang thing is. Tonight's reading proved that today's was a bulls eye. It read: "Listen to a conversation on many levels. Look at facial expressions, consider the tone of voice and pay attention to what is not being said. You will see that there are many facets to what you are hearing."

Well, maybe not an exact bulls eye, but the gist is perfect. Without going into too much work detail, today, in my job helping people over the phone, I did a 180 in the space of about five minutes. Despite my best attempts to be non-judgmental and openhearted, I am human with prejudices. Those nasty buggers were getting the best of me at first as I talked to this particular person, but after listening a little more, I was able to dodge them and understand much better the real person I was talking to.

After years of working face to face with people--teaching, retail--I now work almost exclusively with people over the phone. And I love it. Facial expressions, body language, and just general appearances can certainly aid in helping to understand somebody, but they often can be a distraction at least and a mine field for prejudices at worst. I find that I need to--or maybe it's just really that I am able to--concentrate much more while on the phone, which enables me to understand better not only what is being said, but even, at times, what is not being said. Anyway, in this particular instance, and in dozens of others every week, my preconceived notions were obliterated, thankfully, by simply concentrating on what a person was saying.

Even before I read my horoscope, I was thinking about another short, though much more profound and "truthful" piece of writing: the great sentence that Herman Melville writes in his wonderfully compassionate opus Moby-Dick, when Ishmael, previously so freaked out by having to share a bed in an inn with the "pagan" "cannibal" Queequeg, reflects on things after getting to know his bedfellow a little bit: "Be it said, that though I had felt such a strong repugnance to his smoking in the bed the night before, yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love once comes to bend them." Have truer words ever been spoken?

I think of all the things--people, especially, but also foods, music, books, locales, whatever--I've grown to appreciate and even love after first dismissing them, usually out of some stupid fear. I love the elastic metaphor Melville uses to characterize prejudice. What a world this might yet become if everybody could just meditate on that image for a while. We all have prejudices, which should be self-apparent, but the thought that they are so elastic, so bendable, with the instigation of just a little love, love or its vast components--compassion, knowledge, open-mindedness, etc.--is such a comfort.  

St. Herman, the patron saint of elastic.

At Least We Un-Rich Aren't Boring


Some things are so stupid you shouldn't even waste breath commenting about them. But that's what blogging's for, I've discovered, so here goes. I saw a news story (sic) the other day telling the world the five things the rich don't like to talk about. Some tony investment firm (the likes of which I'll never even sniff a business card from) actually commissioned a study to find out the top "don't even go there's" of the hoity toity. Avoiding the obviously only response to this study--who gives a rat's ass, which I obviously did because I read the insipid thing--I love the fact that the study was commissioned by a tony investment firm. It's like the Vatican studying what priests talk about. Open your ears, jot a few notes, study done. Right?

Anyway, surprise surprise, the rich don't like talking about money, politics, sex, religion, and health.

Which leaves croquet and crumpets, I believe.

As Neil Young said, it's a lot more interesting in the ditch. See you there, and bring five bucks if you can spare it until Friday, thanks.

This Is The Face Of Menopause Sympathy


Yes, that is my mug above. And no, the comments about a resemblance to Phillip Seymour Hoffman haven't increased or decreased much since his death. They've just gotten a little stranger.

Anyway, is there really anything unusual about my face? I don't think so. And yet, if we were some kind of weirdly obscure scientists and had enough time on our hands, maybe we could detect something in that visage, that benign countenance that might help explain the phenomenon I've recently encountered that has me wondering about my face for the first time in years. You see, totally unbidden (as if one would ever bid for such a thing), various women I know have felt extremely comfortable telling me all about their problems with hot flashes. Two of my most immediate co-workers inform me all the time, and today, as I was innocently getting some coffee and innocently asked another not-so-familiar co-worker, "How's it going," as she passed me at the coffee maker, the response I got was, "I'd be doing a lot better without these hot flashes."

Now I have great respect for women's hormones, and great respect for whatever those hormones do to disrupt a woman's daily enjoyment of life, but--and I mean this in the most respectful way possible--I don't give a damn. I wish women all the best and a life of ease, comfort, and good vibes, etc., but just as I assume they don't really need to know about whatever itch issues I might be dealing with, I assume that I don't need to know about the thermal dynamics going on with them. Am I nuts in this? I mean, what am I supposed to do with this info? Crank a window? Suggest removing a sweater? What? Tell me and I'll do it. I'm seriously thinking of walking around with a ping pong paddle in one hand (the closest thing to a fan I possess) and a spray water bottle in the other--"Well, sorry. Need a spritz?"

I never want to be nasty. I'd like to believe that on the whole I'm a considerate, even kind man. So I don't want to use this great platform to scream, "Stay away from me all you over-heating women!" No, not at all. If, as it damn near is appearing to be, I am destined to be the Statue of Liberty for hot-flashing distressed women ("Give me your sweaty, broiling, dying-for-a-cool-breeze women") so be it. I'll stand there, smile as unweirdly as possible, and say something like, "Oh, I'm sorry. Can I get you some cold water?" I will gladly serve, but until further explanation, I'll do so in sheer wonderment of the twists and turns life provides for us. But beware ladies, sooner or later I'm going to crack, and one of you is going to hear a long diatribe about my 4 a.m. pee break that morning. I apologize in advance.

Holy Chit Chat!


Pope Francis, a true papal mensch, turned heads today when he confessed his sins to what the media called "an ordinary priest" (it's Lent, leave your oxymoron jokes at home), rather than his private confessor. Just another great modest gesture on his part. But one can't help but wonder ...

  • I confess I would have rather met Michelle than Barack.
  • I crave beef jerky on Fridays in Lent.
  • I regret not taking the red shoes. Slick, suave, and quite comfy!
  • Let me off with two Hail Marys and I'll let you call me Frank.
  • Benedict's kind of a bore when he gets talking encyclicals. 
  • In this town, I covet my neighbor's pasta.
  • I merely skim the begat sections in the Bible.
  • I voted for Drew Carey on DWTS. Who I am to judge? I'm the Pope, darn it!
  • I read Angels and Demons. Twice.
  • I bought a bootleg DVD of Noah two weeks ago from a guy on the street.
  • I sometimes sing "Infallible Me" in the shower to the tune of "Embraceable You."
  • Joel Osteen gives me the willies.
  • I love the smell of incense in the morning.

Would You Believe?


  • I've been on a Mormon mission?
  • I forgot how to write?
  • Working on Obamacare rollout?
  • Running the Cleveland Browns?
  • Forgot my password?
  • Been busy metal detecting?
  • Took a wrong turn?
  • Been stuck in a Cleveland pothole?
  • Looking for my golf ball in the woods?
  • Writing songs with Bob Dylan?
  • Comforting Mitt Romney?
  • Spelunking?
  • Winning a grant to write a novel?
  • Writing a novel?
  • I'm going to try to revive this thing once again?

The Wide World Of Sports Diplomats


In a world where one of the top stories of the day (okay, yesterday) is that the retiring pope will be sporting brown loafers instead of his stylish red shoes, I guess one shouldn't be too ruffled by the news that Dennis Rodman is among a contingent of basketball players headed to the stand offish global bully land of North Korea on a "basketball diplomacy" mission. Looking past the absurdity of the words Dennis Rodman and mission in the same sentence, the notion is preposterous, isn't it? Three hundred million Americans, one-hundred fifty (million) of whom probably have more basketball knowledge and skills than the average North Korean, and The Worm gets to go? I'm no mathematician, certainly no jingoistic, America is always the best booster, and hardly a Rodman hater--I always admired his rebounding, defensive, and all-around opponent-obfuscating skills and found him mildly amusing and benignly inoffensive--but really, Dennis Rodman, diplomat? It's like casting John Belushi in a Jane Austen novel.

But who knows, fifty years of staid American foreign policy weens haven't managed to dent North Korea, so maybe this is some crazily bright CIA reverse psychology ploy. Come to think of it, maybe we need to see more of this type of thing, sending our crazy sports personalities to all the world's hot spots--not only to get them out of our consciousness for a short while, but also to let them infect our enemies with their own unique brands of lunacy. It might not be Brave, but it's certainly a Ditzy New World out there; let's fight fire with fire. Send Lance Armstrong to Syria, please. If Jim Harbaugh wants to go jaw to jaw with the Taliban and Al Qaida zealots, who am I to object? God only knows if there's a crazed dictator wreaking global hellfire on Easter Island, but the Land of Those Big Heads sure seems like the ideal place to ship Barry Bonds to for a few months. Somehow Atlantis calls out for a visit from Manti Te'o, no? But really, all of this is just prelude, sowing the seeds of America's taking over the world by sending all of our sports idiots to troublesome spots to force the enemy to surrender in madness, to my proposed coup de grace, the sports diplomatic mission that will go down in American foreign relations as the ultimate triumph: I guarantee you, two days of non-stop airing of a Stephen A. Smith-Skip Bayless debate about Dwight Howard, RG III's knee, or Danica Patrick's racing acumen, and the current Evil Empire that is Iran will be reduced to a nation of keening, whining, ready-to-embrace-all-things-West-if-you-just-get-these-ESPN-blowhards-away-from-us-for-nothing-more-than-a-two-minute-station-break capitulants. Any doubters? I didn't think so. Rodman, you're a trailblazer. You go, Worm.

Big Deal, Eskimos, Or, I Bet Quinn Just Said Snow, Or, I'm Sick Of Winter


Let me start by saying, screw the groundhog. By my calculations, it's been 22 days, more than three weeks, since the celebrated beast allegedly didn't see his shadow, thus supposedly sparing us six more weeks of winter. Well, even a generous benefit of the doubt doesn't excuse 22 days, more than three weeks, which is more than 50% of the prediction time, of more winter. Cold, blustery, and snowy--that's the last 22 days--and my handy Internet 10-day weather forecast (which is absurd in theory, but in practice seems to be pretty accurate) is calling for nothing but the same. My usual carefree, live and let live, ambivalence toward rodents is being severely tested by cold gray windy snowy mornings, followed by cold gray windy snowy afternoons, followed by cold gray windy snowy nights. Mr. Varmint, I'm not all right.But to my point--why the hell do Eskimos get such good, non-damning press? I pondered this should-be-obvious question today when, while reading an otherwise great book, the author made use of that tired old trope, "the Eskimos have x amount of words for snow." First of all, have you ever heard the same number used twice in this claim? Never. It's like asking three conspiracy theorists how many shots were fired in Dealey Plaza and expecting anything like less than six different numbers. Seventeen, forty-three, one-seventy-two. Who knows? How's about one word--balderdash. I'd bet my battery-powered ice scraper that 99% of Eskimos wake up each morning, peak their heads out of their igloos, and say the exact two words I've been saying every morning for months now: "Effing snow!" (Please, don't get me started on igloos. Centuries ago, fine. But tell me now there's not a Loews or a The Home Depot within an easy dogsled ride of any in-the-market-to-build-a-new-home self-respecting Eskimo.) More than roses are roses or cigars are just cigars, snow is snow. There is absolutely no need to get poetic or effusive in your lexical creativity with regards to snow. And if you do, if there are indeed dozens of Eskimo words for snow, than I really pity the Eskimos; just goes to show you what cold redundant boredom can do to an entire race. But really, do we need to revere them so, to say in shaman-like wise hushed tones, "The Eskimos have eighty-three words for snow." Eskischmos, more like it. Show some spunk, people. If they've been that inundated with snow for millennia to the point where they have all that time to come up with new words for snow, how creatively inept can they be? My God, any other people with a decent language--the Chinese, French, English, Spanish, Swahilis, Esperantese--wouldn't have wasted all that time or energy on snow; there'd be scores of great expletives to pick and choose from: Each day of a February like this one could be greeted with a distinct one: Beebing snow, haitching snow, emming snow, dubyan snow. Imagine the fun cussing would be if the Scots lived in the Eskimos' climate. Have you ever heard of any these purported sixty-five words for snow? Didn't think so. If we had, if, on a particularly wet, flaky, blowy morning, we all got up and said, "effing, snow, no, this ain't no everyday snow, this is, as the Eskimos call it, effing groth," then maybe we'd be correct in so reverently saying that the "Eskimos have one-thousand-three-hundred-nineteen words for snow, you know?" But whatever the words are, not a damn one of them is worthy enough for any of us to know it, let alone use it. I mean, you used to hear all the time that Steve Allen had written 1.700 songs, but since you couldn't hum one of them if you had an Eskimo threatening to harpoon your skull if you didn't, you'd never include old Steverino in the same discussion with Gershiwn, Porter, Lennon-McCartney, would you? You ever hear any buzz around Nobel time th[...]

The Smart Money's On Luigi Casmir Jones III


If you are anything like me and have a fetish for pundits (well, seek help, I guess), then nothing could delight you more shortly after a US presidential election than a papal conclave, or, as I'm sure some cable outlet will have it, Conclave '13! There's nothing quite like getting a name and face to attach to that wonderful appellation, Veteran Vatican Watcher. (Oh, remember the wonderful days of the early 1980s when the Soviets were getting a new leader like every six months? Yuri Andropov anyone? I knew at least one fraternity brother back then who daydreamed himself to sleep every night with visions of someday being called a Veteran Kremlin Watcher, but how times change, hunh? Being a Veteran Kremlin Watcher these days is akin to being a veteran typewriter repairman, isn't it? Hey Vince, could you fix my ampersand key?) And so, I will revel in this wonderful time until that puff of white smoke appears, grateful that I can ignore the daily comings and goings of Lindsey Graham. I don't want to get greedy, but oh what fun it would be if there's gridlock in the Vatican and we get things like: Papal Perplexity: Conclave 13!: Day 47.While I remember from my elementary Catholic school education that to be eligible for election to the papacy one needs only to be male and Catholic, I'm not expecting a congratulatory call from some secret holy phone booth deep inside the Vatican. I'm just honored, presently, to be in the pool of candidates. In fact, if you can keep a secret (no need to spoil the limelight time for all those VVWs), I know, unequivocally, who will be the next pope--one Luigi Casmir Jones III, soon to be Pope Canasta I. Born at sea on a steamer heading from the Cape of Good Hope to Saint Helena in 1950, Luigi is a true man of the world, not tied to any one country, continent, or race. Just going back two generations to his paternal grandfather, the original Luigi Casmir Jones, there's a veritable UN quorum in his genetic make-up, encompassing, but not limited to, Bengali, Sicilian, Kenyan, Korean, Peruvian, Estonian, Andorran, and West Side Chicago blood. With the skin tone of the rich nougaty goodness of a fresh Snickers bar, and a speaking voice that sends linguists into spasms of ecstasy, Luigi is the poster boy for a globalized, it's a small world after all, 21st Century. Name me another Catholic male who can be found at his leisure playing cricket between chapters of the latest (untranslated) Bulgarian murder mystery while carrying on a pretty learned conversation in Javanese with a Dutch lesbian about the bullpen prospects for this year's Cubs? After riding the world's rails throughout the turbulent Sixties, Luigi settled down for a spell as a urologist in Uruguay. His latent Catholicism was awakened with a fervor while appearing as an extra in a crowd scene in the 1986 Robert DeNiro/Jeremy Irons vehicle The Mission (alas, his scene was left on the cutting room floor). Within a decade he was ordained and became a bishop. In 2000, in a move widely scoffed at as an act of Canonical Affirmative Action, Luigi was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. His linguistic facility and acute ability to turn the perfect phrase soon made him the pre-eminent papal ghostwriter. Among the Vatican cognoscenti, Luigi, an avid biker (both the pedal and the vroom vroom kind), became known as the man who puts the cycle in the encyclical. In eventual retrospect, his election will look like the most astute no-brainer.What, you say, spitoutyourgum, that nabob of nonsense, a VVW all this time? Not quite, though I appreciate the assumption. No, I've learned all this from my man in the Vatican, not an offical VVW mind you, though one every self-respecting VVW prays he had access to, one Dred Gelato Orianafallaci, the most successful, and I daresay, best-dressed corndog on a [...]

PSA for CPT: Vote!


I am not a shiller by trade, but Cleveland Public Theatre is a great organization, and I have a few friends who work there. So, please consider taking all of a few seconds to click on the links below and register your vote to help out an outstanding Cleveland arts institution. Thank you.

CPT is one of six finalists for Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s Creative Culture Grants Program. Two large-scale, transformative projects will be selected by the residents of Cuyahoga County to receive grants up to $150,000.

We need your help to get as many votes as possible for our proposal: OUT OF THE BOX AND INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Here are a couple ways you can help CPT get the word out:

1. Send an email to friends, family and neighbors!! (FYI - Only residents of Cuyahoga County can vote.)

This is the link to the voting.

2. Post it on your social media outlets. Get the word out on Facebook and Twitter! Be sure to join our facebook event and share it with others.

You can learn more about all of the proposals here

Does This Shave Make Me Look Like A Jerry? A Biker?


I'm assuming that everyone reading this blog who is over the age of thirty knows at least one Jerry, right? Though I also assume that in thirty years hence everyone over the age of thirty will know at least five Ezras, Micahs, Jordans, and Calebs, but that knowing a Jerry might be a rare distinction. Jerry, to me, is like Phil, Ray, Earl, and Ron--a dependable name for a dependable guy. Don't know how to get it done, don't even have the first clue about the first step to getting it done? Ask Jerry et al. He'll know. Jerry knows torque, logistics, circuit breakers, and grilling. Jerry bowls, smokes meat, guts fish, and uses a slide rule with dexterity. God help the world when all the Jerrys die out.

I bowl once in a great while, but I am no Jerry. In many ways, I am the anti-Jerry. If I can get the hood of my car up and staying up without crashing down on my head, I consider it a success. Jerry actually knows why you might want to lift your hood in the first place. So, much to my, well, not chagrin, but imbalance, maybe, people at my new job are constantly calling me Jerry. The reason sounds simple--the only other guy in the office is named Jerry, and he came first--but the details leave one (me, at least) scratching his head. And it goes way beyond the obvious--Jerry is maybe thirty and African-American; I'm definitely almost fifty and Caucasian--to reasons I can't begin to fathom. Now I'd like to think I am as friendly and helpful and easygoing as this particular Jerry, but still, anyone with half a brain could tell within thirty seconds of being in my presence that even if you might mistake me out of the corner of your eye for a second for a friendly thirtyish African-American, you would in no way mistake me for a Jerry. If Jerry's name were George, Joe, Fred, or Andy, I could understand the mix-up, but me, a Jerry? Come on.

All I can think of is that it's my shaving. You see, for ten years I haven't really had the need (i.e., the occupational imperative) to shave every day. Now I do. So I'm thinking that even if all these new-job colleagues of mine have never known the unshaven Dan, the something's-different-about-this-guy subliminal aura I must be giving off has them thinking (never underestimate the ignorance of the human being, I think Charro said) well, sure he knows his way around a sander, a seven-ten split, a bait and tackle shop. Soon, I think, the jolt that my daily shave is obviously giving to my pheromones will lessen and my co-workers will have a tendency to call me Jerry as much as call me Merlin. Until then, while I consider it an honor to be mistaken for the particular Jerry in my office, I will never get used to being mistaken for a guy who knows the first thing about a sprocket.

As for (it was a weird day anyway, hence the discussion in the office about dream trips we all would like to take and one co-worker's surprise announcement that although she's scared of motorcycles, she would love to attend some infamous bikers' convention [wait a minute, there cannot possibly be a bikers' convention, maybe just a get-together] in Myrtle Beach) the co-worker who turned to me today and said, "Dan (notice, the pheromones must be abating already) you look like the kind of guy who's been to a bikers' jamboree," I'm just going to blame it all on solar flares or too much snow or something.

Roy, though, no? There's got to be a Roy attached to like every fourth bike at a bikers' stampede in Myrtle Beach, right?

To Bowl Or Not To Bowl?


I can't believe I'm even asking the question; it sounds so unAmerican, so unmanly. My first Super Bowl memory is watching Super IV and happily tackling large couch cushions like I was Bobby Bell of the Kansas City Chiefs tossing old Joe Kapp of the Minnesota Vikings for another loss. Since then I have missed watching just one Super Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys over the Buffalo Bills (I think) in 1994 (don't have the fanatical chops to recall, or the inclination to figure out, which Roman numeral big game that was). '94 being the year of my complete withdrawal from television. So, do the math, that's XLII out of a possible XLVI Super Bowls I've watched so far--on couches all alone, standing in heavily non-football fan crowds at people's parties, and intensely rooting for the New York Football Giants a couple times as a good luck charm for my Giants-loving nephews and brother-in-law in pressure-packed man caves (alas, my Cleveland Browns have never made it the Big One). Now I--like the great game of football itself--have evolved through the years. From Hi-C swigging to beer quaffing, pizza gorging to sushi feasting (not really, God and George Halas forbid). I have indeed bowed to the pressures inherent in a huge media creation--my one and only rule these days is, talk all you want during the game (one only needs to see it, really) but shut the hell up during the commercials (and yes, there have been plenty of games where the commercials are the best thing). But I never thought (disregarding my monastic year of '94) I'd evolve to the place I find myself this Super Bowl week--dithering about not watching, nay, actively boycotting the Super Bowl. How, you ask? Why? Simple, one word with two synonyms--Harbaugh, Jim and John. I loathe both these coaches, head coaches, respectively, of this year's combatants, the 49ers and the Ravens. The more obnoxious one is the one whose team is playing, so how can my psyche take it if both of their teams are playing at the same time, in the same place, against each other--at the Super Bowl!?! Sure, one will lose the Super Bowl, which is reason enough to watch it if only that didn't mean one would win the Super Bowl. I mean, it's a done deal, right? By the end of the day this Sunday, it's a foregone conclusion that there will actually be a Super Bowl-winning Harbaugh coach. I'd rather hear about Goliath stomping David or the apple tree falling on and fatally maiming George Washington than to hear that a whining, super-jawed, hard ass Harbaugh won a Super Bowl. So why even subject myself to the joys of hours of clever commercials, a universal green light to over-indulge in bad-for-you-food, trying to figure out the over/under on how many times the TV cameras will show the neutral-clad Harbaugh parents in the stands, and the potential of a really good Beyonce wardrobe malfunction if I know that in addition to five million shots apiece of the two loathsome brothers, one of them is going to hoist that Lombardi trophy, an image that will haunt the rest of my days with the irrefutable fact that life is not only unfair, but a sadistic black comedian? I mean, come on, football gods, it's bad enough being a Browns fan, but this is too much. I know a guy who religiously watches Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory every Super Bowl Sunday. I'm not that insane yet, but another Harbowl or two, and I'm cuing up How Stella Got Her Groove Back with a box of wine coolers and calling it a day every Super Bowl Sunday. As it is, I'm a little weak on willpower, so despite my bluster and threats here, I'm sure this Sunday I'll be on a couch somewhere watching the game, but just this one time, Jim and John. Maybe some pre-game pyrotechnics will hit both of them and send them to the ER--not f[...]

Virtual Pack Rat


Well, a longtime literal pack rat, probably going back to the late 60s, early 70s. You know that feeling you get when your mother, and only your mother, calls you firmly by your formal, full (i.e. middle name included) name, that uh oh, what has she found out I've done pit in the stomach feeling? Well, the first time I remember experiencing that feeling was when my full name was catapulted out of our house and down the street where I was playing. I couldn't have been more than six or seven. I arrived, practically shaking, in my bedroom to find my mother pointing under my bed. There, gee, how did that happen, was a week's, maybe two, who knows, a month's?, worth of dirty clothes (I was still operating under the kid's belief in magic--throw it under the bed and it disappears; that was the minute magic ended for me). Ever since, I guess, I've kind of kept things lying around a bit. Not that I'll be on an episode of Hoarders or anything, but tidiness is not next to Dan-ness in my universe.

It's funny, though, how sometimes New Year's resolutions--the ones you actually keep to some degree--kind of gestate and just appear, rather than being mulled over and aggressively resolved. It seems like 2013 could, might, maybe, sure looks like it, be the year I become more cyber tidy. It started with my new job, a tutorial on all the possibilities of the joint's email system, and my own queasiness regarding my ability to handle the considerable organizational aspects of my job. Determined not to amass a few gigs worth of worthless old emails--as I have done everywhere else I've had an email account--I started from day one immediately deleting email that had no right to be preserved. A couple weeks into the gig, I must say I'm doing a good job of it, mostly because I'm appalled at how much electronic nonsense the modern organization generates. I read it, make a quick judgment about the missive's worth, and either delete it or leave it alone. Needless to say the knowledge of, and actual use of, email folders has made this new me possible. And although I don't really take any literal (as opposed to psychic) work home (yet), I have just brought a work lesson home with me. To wit: In the last two days, over about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, I have successfully weeded through my own personal email account that was nearing sixty pages of email (including 29! unread messages) accumulated over more than four years. Bingo, a couple dozen old messages moved to a "keep" folder (specificity is the gold standard of much good writing, but not so much when it comes to arranging email files) and the other several hundred kaput, gone, zapped. I feel like an after picture. Spry, lithe, sinewy. And what's more, I don't have to resolve to keep a tidy inbox from now on, because I know I will. Delete--who knew such an innocuous, semi-pejorative word would become such a godsend one in this new world of ours--a man's best friend. Too bad one can't simply scroll, check, and delete a lifetime's worth of boxes of stuff. But it's a start.

Mystifies Me: Some Things I'll Never Understand (Including Why I Can't Seem To Upload Pictures Here Anymore)


Why do people eat their lunches at their desks? Isn't the word "lunch" from some old Germanic word meaning, "get the hell away from this crazy day for half an hour or so"? My new job is going great, really, everything about it except my daily walk to and from the lunch room when I pass dozens of cubicle-shackled otherwise friendly and sane folks hunched over their work stations shoveling bits and pieces of what have they into their mouths from small squat square tupperware-ish receptacles. Why? Is facebook that addictive? Is keeping up to the minute on the seven emails a minute that important? Isn't anybody as sloppy of an eater as I am and thus worried they'll irrevocably stain some vitally important piece of work with last night's spaghetti? Isn't anybody as paranoid about protecting their free "off" time and worried that someone will see them at their desk and make the wild assumption that they are actually "at work" and engage them in an endless discussion about last month's reports as I am? People, take a walk, withdraw to renew, amble, munch in a change of scenery, get away! I wouldn't say my new place of work's staff lunch room is Zagat-approved, but the tables don't wobble, there's a nice window looking out to the beautiful day, and there's a TV set perpetually on--if I'm lunching during the noon hour, I'm treated to ESPN (what could be better? though I can't say listening to Stephen A. Smith pontificate about everything [I bet the man sounds Daniel Webster-oratorical when he's announcing he's going to the bathroom] aids in the digestive process); if it's the one o'clock hour it's The Young and the Restless (and it might be just me, but something tells me if I assert my presence and one day stand up, announce, "I can't stand this shit," and go over to the set and turn the channel, I'll stand a better chance of not getting maimed if it's twelve-thirty rather than one-thirty). Some of the greatest conversations in my life have occurred during the lunch hour at work; how can people eschew such a chance to instead chew in solitude at the altar of their diurnal blood, sweat, and tears? Dunno.What petty lives we mortals must lead that we are continually flabbergasted, stunned, and incredulous when some mighty much-dreamed about super athlete is revealed to be just a regular foible-prone, clueless in the face of common sense, dumbass like the rest of us. Whether Manti Te'o was in on the hoax or not is pretty irrelevant to me, but I do know that now I respect him and salute as a human being more than when he was so courageously living and playing through his mourning (both real and maybe virtual). As for Lance Armstrong, I never liked the twit.Why are celebrities such royal boobs? I just read an article about J. Lo's being upset about her picture on the cover of People magazine because, she says, they made her look old. Listen nimrod, you're 43. You're old. I'll text you to commiserate tonight at 3 a.m. when I get up to pee. "Unmitigated gall" is truly one of the greatest word mash-ups in this or any language, but it's wasted on J. Lo. Girl, Woman, Old Lady, you deserve nothing better than a Ralph Malph "sit on it."Why, after a lifelong virulent strain of anti-feline bias, and several years of involuntarily sharing living quarters with a cat, am I slowly warming up to the attractions of the finicky species, to the point where I'm actually reading Garfield every day and even chuckling at it once a month? Brace yourself, J. Lo--aging is nothing but a slow ugly descent into insanity.Why is winter cold? allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">[...]

The Pros And Cons Of A Weekend


I am presently enjoying the weekend. I have not done so in a long time. Not that I am one to especially not enjoy what life affords one to enjoy, but because I haven't experienced a real (Saturday and Sunday) weekend in I don't know how long. After living two years of my life working a never set, constantly fluctuating schedule that called for anything from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. shifts seven days a week, I have just concluded my first week of a regular 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift job. I have read, written, shopped, banked, napped, gone to the movies and dinner, wached TV, slept, and even stared off in thought so far this weekend. Blissed out, basically.But as usual, I'm being pulled in two directions at once regarding this (rather drastic) change in my lifestyle. While I bask, I also mourn; while I delight, I also fret. Life is give and take, after all. I love the idea of having two days off from "work" in a row, the same two days every week, especially the days of Saturday and Sunday (with the slings and arrows of retail scheduling, I occasionally did have two days off in a row, but rarely were they both Saturday and Sunday; as anyone knows, Saturday and Sunday are different from the other days of the week, so, where the occasional Tuesday-Wednesday off days were welcome, they weren't the same--alas, both for good reasons as well as bad--as having Saturday and Sunday off). One never shakes the feeling that he or she should be "off" on both Saturday or Sunday, so when one isn't, there is a definite feeling of having been cheated, cosmically. But then again, having Tuesday and Wednesday off, when the rest of the world is struggling through their work week, feels like a blessing one hasn't truly earned. That said, in the middle of this first real weekend in some time, I'll opt for the regular, expected weekend right now. That said, I'm sure it won't be long (check in with me Tuesday) that I'll be longing for the days of weekday days off. Days off, being crucial. There's a psychological cushion to having regular, consecutive days off that is sorely lacking in having just one day off (though, again, the oddities of the non-regular schedule did provide several work-one-day-in-four or two-days-in-six stretches, which were, undoubtedly, nice as hell, but also, too, several seven-days-straight or eight-days-out-of-nine stretches which were, no need to mention, hell itself). Life requires, as I think the Byrds said, time to waste and time to get shit done. The two-day, regularly scheduled weekend is perfect for this paradox. As I was running around yesterday getting shit done, I felt so at ease knowing ah, tomorrow I can just not do shit; likewise, as I have taken some time to just not do shit, I have felt relieved that I have had some time and still have some time to get shit done. It might seem odd (and a sign of one's undisciplined lifestyle) but one simply can't indulge this balancing act between getting shit done and not doing shit in just one day off, but it is so--the nudge of the other (non)activity is too great to fully engage in and enjoy one or the other. A day off is just that, a day "off," whereas a weekend is truly time away, away from whatever you need to be away from. Or so I see it.More deeply, or deeperly, I am thrilled to get Thursdays back. I am a Thursday's Child, so I have been biased towards the day since birth, but Thursday could just be the greatest day of the week, one that really doesn't exist in the all-is-flux world of random retail scheduling (for that matter, all the days of the week lose their identity in such a schedule; instead of seven distinct days of the week, there are merely tw[...]



I started a new job yesterday. For two days now (and continuing all week, it seems) I've been inundated with new faces and names, new hallways and offices, new coffee machines, information upon information, training upon training, computer trickery I was ignorant of, and a comfy new desk chair. It's an office job, kind of a first for me. I'm the first settler in a brand new cubicle pod--I haven't yet amassed the push pin markings of my territory. Everything's new, the worst being me. All the dumb questions. But it will pass.

The first thing I saw as I was guided to my new desk, my new domain, was a reference book for services catering to the elderly. I opened the book randomly to a side-bar info block titled, "Incontinence Issues." As if I need another reminder that I'm hardly getting younger, let alone young. The standard office clock hanging (and is there anything else a clock can do but hang?) on the wall is one of those where the second hand jerks from second to second instead of sweeping time away. I find the jerking clocks a bit sadistic (let alone a bit false), but I'll adjust. Two training seminars concerning computer things, and of course, two training seminars delayed a bit by computer issues. Some things never change.

So it's a time of discovery for me. A new commuting path to get used to--the pot holes to avoid, the traffic enforcement cameras to kowtow to, the lanes to jockey, the best convenient stores along the way to equip my day. All the new people--an odd feeling I've experienced several times now, where you're just getting to know people and wondering what they're like, what quirks will reveal themselves, who will end up being your favorite work buddy, while at the same time wondering what they all think of you and missing already your former co-workers. Getting to know the view outside the windows. Getting to know the new toilet(s). And, for a couple weeks, fantasizing about the new number that will adorn the paycheck, the number that in time you'll know by heart and which in time won't seem enough. Ah, newness. Work, a four-letter word I still like.

The Man For Whom Rock'n'Roll Never Worked


He's known three Rhondas and they never once helped him. The only Maggie he knew never worked on, let alone owned, a farm, and she sure as hell never kicked him in the head come morning. No pair of blue suede shoes ever fit him. Every Sally he's known has been short. And Caroline, no, wasn't sweet at all. Tall, lithe Fanny never sent him anywhere with regards for anyone. He stopped believing--and everything else--long before he ever had enough. Even after the rain's gone, his glasses are still foggy. He thought everything was gonna be alright, but the three birds crapped on his shoulder, ruining his seersucker suit. Even when school's out for summer, he inevitably finds himself back in summer school. No ride is free for him. The Suzanne he knows never takes him down anywhere, let alone touches his imperfect body with anything. Nobody carries an umbrella at his bus stop. The only tambourine player he knows is a woman, and her tambourine is brown. He would like to go to Chelsea but he's only got twenty-five dollars in his hand and that won't buy him a ticket for an airplane. He doesn't have a cloud of his own. He never received any pictures of Lily, just a drawing of Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman. His bird doesn't sing. He knew a Lola once, 100% U.S. Female. His coolerator holds no ginger ale. Sloopy let go.

So now he listens to Lite Jazz and covets Kenny G's mane.  

Ancora Imparo


According to David Markson's The Last Novel, Michelangelo, at the age of eighty-seven, said, "Ancora imparo"--still, I'm learning. Ergo, far be it from me, at forty-nine and with a slightly less impressive resume than Mr. Michelangelo, to say I know it all. Not a bad mantra to keep front and center in one's everyday life, ancora imparo (I'm going to choose to say it ala Don Vito Corleone, just because). It might save you a lot of frustration, consternation, and downright anger, let alone uttering sentences that begin, "But I thought ... " Besides, it might also save you a lot of wincing from acquaintances at cocktail parties if you simply say, "Ancora imparo," (again, I think Don Vito would work best in this instance) rather than that Sally Fieldsesque modern translation, "I'm a life-long learner!" (Fine, Sally. BTW, AARP is calling with more bonus rewards points for you; get a third bottle of Ex-Lax free when you buy just one.)Anyway, to prove my ancora imparo bone fides, here's a small sampling of what I have learned, still, just in the six days since my last post. First, I learned that when faced with a brewing donnybrook between two middle-aged women holiday shoppers one minute before your shift ends two days before Christmas ("Call a cop and have me charged with battery? You don't even know what battery is!"--that's verbatim), rather than saying a quick silent, "Lord, make me a channel of your peace," and stepping into the fray to play U.N. Peacekeeper, it's much better to say a rather loud "Merry Christmas, everyone," and just walk (and keep walking) away. I've also learned that a slow leak in one of your car tires never slows down, it only speeds up, and that buying a new tire is one thing, but when the mechanic mentions four new struts, it ain't no cheap talk. I learned (coincidentally in the car repair waiting area) that Leeza Gibbons is still on TV, hosting, and--it was a wait long enough for me to see the credits roll--executive producing a show called America Now (which, beg pardon, Leeza, isn't quite "now," as the taped segments made no mention of the holidays or a blizzard stomping half the country). I also learned (well, had my learning refined) that my sister and brother-in-law put Gatsby totally to shame--they throw wonderful parties, with sincerity! I learned that in this fast-paced world of ours, the Christmas Season indeed ends at midnight on Christmas: I received three pieces of mail today. Yep, bill bill bill. After having coffee with one former student and then a few hours later running into a couple of former students in a bar, I learned 16 is a far far cry from 29. I learned that a cheese ball that looks like a somewhat unappetizing meatloaf is actually just about the heavenliest tasting thing on Earth. I'm learning as I type and look out the window, that with today's radars, when a weatherman says twenty-four hours prior that it will start snowing at 11 a.m. tomorrow and not let up for another twenty-four hours, he's pretty damned accurate. A couple of my nieces are apparently quite adept blizzard, what blizzard automobile drivers. I think I already knew this, but it was confirmed to me on Christmas, that only a Jesuit priest could/would bring Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov into a true-meaning-of-Christmas sermon. And yes, mother, with aplomb, he did it with aplomb. Most viscerally, though, I have learned in the last week that despite centuries of good publicity, those Mayans didn't know shit. [...]

Penultimate? Not Likely, Unless ...


So it's the day before the alleged end of the world. Kind of makes me a little less enthusiastic to shave, do a load of laundry, or eat sensibly. So, basically, today is like any other. Besides I've always been a little fonder of the Incas than the Mayans--their marching band was classier, I think. Now I admit, whenever I hear about scientists all of a sudden discovering that some near-miss asteroid is just two days away (I'm not buying it, telescope men--on one hand you're telling me about some small planet trillions of light years [and can we stop the confusing mixing of time and space with the concept of light years? Yes, I get it, but you're scientists, for God's {or no God's, whatever} sake--do some easy translating into miles for me, please] away from Earth, and then you're all like, oops, low bridge! here comes a [relatively] tiny rock hurtling at us now!), I do kind of think maybe the world could end just like that, not with a whimper but a bang. But still, call me skeptical. I do believe in a higher power--one whose sense of irony, appropriateness, and dark humor is no match for ours--so I'm thinking there's no way the world is ending tomorrow, Friday, December 21st, 2012, unless certain things--a tidying up of sorts--occur first. Take for instance the following ten have-to-happen-'fore-the-world-ends scenarios. If I hear of, oh, five or six of them happening by the eleven o'clock news, then maybe I'll start ducking and praying and even shaving (who doesn't want to greet Doomsday with a smooth face?).

The World Ain't Ending Unless These Things Happen First
  • Pete Rose dies and his arm continues signing his name for another 12 hours
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is captured on video reading a Philip Roth novel (and smiling), humming "Hava Nagila," and eating a knish
  • Harry Reid talks and sounds like a man
  • John Boehner looks pale
  • Cleveland is named the World's No.1 Tourist Destination and Place To Retire
  • Tom Waits clears his throat, starts singing, and sounds just like John Denver
  • Honey Boo Boo releases a video of her reading and deconstructing Sartre's Being and Nothingness
  • Pope Benedict tweets: "What the hell, let women be priests"
  • Donald Trump shuts up
  • I get a new job

The Shirt Off Her Back


If you ask for an inch, Aunt Yvette will give you a yard, except she's not exactly linear; she'll probably give you an entire hectare. She abides by no modern, made-up, self-serving law like don't wear white after Labor Day ("What ain't a day of labor?" she protests). Verity isn't her God-given middle name for nothing. The Golden Rule is the land where she's pitched her tent, for the duration. "I can't spell the word 'me' without the letters o-t-h-e-r-s," she insists. She's a true super model.

And so it came as no surprise (a little shock, sure, but those don't mean much) the other day when I zipped into Giant Eagle looking for a block of American because you can't have cheeseburgers without cheese, and discovered Aunt Yvette studying the Goudas sans top. "Aunt Yvette," I began, a little embarrassed at first, I admit, but then I remembered Aunt Yvette is the least embarrassment-inducing person I know, "aren't you, well, aren't you a mite cold here in the refrigerated section?" "State of mind, son, state of mind. Haven't I told you that before? Besides, I've got natural insulation. The best kind. Who eats this stuff anyway," she inquired while tossing aside a wheel of brie. "I just thank God for gravity and a stretchy waistband. Otherwise some nosy, ashamed of the human body type would probably take issue with my natural assets. Never underestimate the efficacy of a stretchy waistband, by the way." Because we look after each other in this town, I asked, "So what did happen to your shirt anyway, Aunt Yvette?" Ultimately she opted for some sharp cheddar and made to move on, but although she can be short, Aunt Yvette is never not polite. "Fella outside in the parking lot asking for money. Said his house burned down. Said all he had was the clothes on his back, which was kind of misinformation seeing that all he had on was a pair of shorts. So I gave him five dollars and my shirt. If he doesn't have one, and I've got more at home, I kind of have to give it to him, don't you reckon? Excuse me, I've got to go get some bread."

Happy Holidays From The Kitschies


My how time scoots along, don't it? It seems like just a fortnight ago that Jenny was settling into her second month of pregnancy, Denny was beginning to squint at the cereal box too much, baby Lenny was just starting to come to grips with Daddy Kenny's moustache, and all of us Kitschies were trimming (finding the right slots for all the aluminum branches) the tree. And now look at us: Jenny is navigating month 14 with aplomb, Denny's cool eyewear is the hit of his entire Cub Scout Pack, baby Lenny is starting to sprout an authentic Kitschie 'do, and Kenny's still gloating over his second place finish in the William H. Macy lookalike contest at the Halloween Bowl-a-Thon down at Wonder Lanes (and a 583 series to boot, a personal best! Look out Earl Anthony!) (We hear next year's contest might be an Al Franken lookalike; Denny's ecstatic).

Kenny's typewriter repair business, Tabs, is clicking along, and he's even taken on some tape recorder and VCR work. What the man can't do with a pair of pliers and a mortgage payment hanging over his head, hunh? Once again, he's been re-elected, unanimously, to his position as recording secretary for the local Kiwanis. Despite having increasingly less (hey, English teachers, I do believe that's what you call an oxymoron!) space to move around in in the kitchen, Jenny's specialized catering service business, Celery Surprise, is the envy of her quilting circle. Denny--no surprise there--ranks number one in his Home School class, and is slowly making progress in conquering his fear of blinking, having distinctly winked at a squirrel the other day during Nature Play. Lenny is quite the self-starter when it comes to burping. What more can a family wish for? Happy Holidays to all, from Kenny, Jenny, Denny, Lenny, (and--news flash!--Penny on the way, eventually!) Kitschie!

Look At Me, World


I am happy to announce that in two days, Thursday, December 13th, at 7 p.m., to be precise, I will be reading poetry along with my good friend Joe Toner at the Bertram Woods Library in Shaker Heights, OH. Most previous attendees of our past readings are still alive, so I can safely invite any and all to this wonderful evening. As usual, though, this procrastinating poet is busily scribbling the soon-to-be inspiring-awe poems as we speak. Ergo, the blog's taking a bit of a backseat for the next few days. Never fear, though--I've used all my technological skills to copy and paste parts of an earlier, relevant post for your entertainment today. What follows, then, is a primer on How To Behave At A Poetry Reading:Kneeling in praise is optional, but deeply appreciated.First, the event, naturally, is free, but as Emily Post makes clear, gifts of neither small nor large but medium, say tens and twenties, unmarked bills is kind of de rigueur; and it goes without saying that poets don't have time to make change, so if you bring a fifty or hundred, be prepared to part with it. Polite applause after each and every poem read is mandatory, but a bit blase. Cries of "ole," coupled with hula hoops tossed stageward, and public avowals of treating the poets to a nice dinner (two drink minimum) in the near future are all pretty standard displays of affection and gratitude toward poets these days. If one doesn't quite "get" a given poem, or loses one's concentration during a poem, usually due to one's involuntary swooning at the poet's dreamy blue eyes, simply ride it out to the end of the poem, offer one of those learned, I've-just-been-provoked-into-thinking-about-life-in-a-totally-new-way-and-my-life-will-never-be-the-same-again "hmms." If nothing more, this small auditory recognition of the poet's genius will cow the person sitting next to you, who is probably equally lost, into getting with the program and offering a similar "hmmm" at the conclusion of the next poem, so that by the end of the evening, each poem read will culminate with a group "hmmm" that will make the poet feel as if he or she is the wisest person in the world (a state of mind all poets dwell in, but to receive the collective "hmmm" power from the usual crowd of 15-20 hearty souls can help ward off the poet's eventual madness for a good 'nother six to eight months).All poets carry sharp, hefty rocks in their trousers; yawn once at your peril and you'll discover why.After the reading, feel free to approach the poet, but under no circumstances say anything like, "I thought poems were supposed to rhyme," or "Great stuff, bard boy," or "My uncle used to rhyme a bit in his periods of lucidity," or "I guess they give away those poetic licenses in boxes of Cracker Jacks these days, hunh?" Instead, say something like, "Your eminence, genius is too small a word for you."If bored senseless, envision the poet at the podium envisioning the audience naked and hang your head in shame, or, if you're feeling cocky, start winking at the poet unabashedly.Concentrate hard so that you remember one line from the poet. Afterward, recite the line to the poet and say, "Now that line I remember." Have fun, but in this case, not too much fun; we'll be in a library after all. [...]

I Heard The News That Night


I can't believe I'm old enough to say I can't believe it was thirty-two years ago today that John Lennon was killed. In fact, I was mere months from becoming a legal adult that Monday night in 1980. Just think, Lennon's been dead twice as long as most Americans (at least those over 55 or so) knew him alive. Like most Americans, it seems, I first heard of Lennon's murder from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football, which has me thinking about a couple of things today.I wonder if we're quickly moving past, or already are past, the time when we "hear" news. I probably listen to radio now more than I ever had, but I'm sure I'm way in the minority on that score. And, not being much of a TV watcher myself, it seems that more and more people aren't watching live TV but watching streams and DVD collections of shows. Everybody pretty much wears a phone around the clock these days, but it seems like people spend a lot more time reading, touching, and typing on their phones than actually using them to talk to somebody. Just the other day I saw a headline for a story about some poor parents learning about the death of their child on facebook. It seems like we're much more apt to read the news these days than to hear it. Read it via text, or facebook, or Twitter or whatever--certainly not via the so yesterday medium of the (apparently dying) newspaper (oh, the are-you-a-fossilized-relic looks and comments I get from my young co-workers as I tote in my daily newspaper every day and spend my lunch break reading it). I remember, months after Lennon's death, turning on the afternoon TV to catch up on the latest doings of Luke and Laura on General Hospital and getting instead Frank Reynolds telling me about Reagan getting shot. I remember hearing the late great Peter Jennings--on the radio--gasping as he watched the first World Trade Center tower fall. Call me needy or what you will, but I kind of take contextual comfort in hearing jarring news from familiar voices (ah, the good old days when Howard Cosell's sui generis voice was as familiar as anything). I was texted/tweeted the news today? Oh boy.I could have the specifics screwed up here a little bit, but I distinctly remember Cosell eloquently reciting the "May your hands always be busy/May your feet always be swift" lines from Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" during the telecast of a Muhammad Ali fight (I'm thinking it was his triumphant second fight with Leon Spinks, in New Orleans?). I can't remember how having Cosell quote Dylan affected my adolescent self-defined-cool-factor (I'm hip to Bob but none of my friends are), but I thought then, and still do, that it was not only apt, but pretty cool. All of which makes me wonder who'll deliver the sad but inevitable news to me that Bob has passed. If it's going to be a sportscaster (and I'm not foolish--things have changed--I sadly doubt Bob's death would merit breaking news mention during a nationally televised sporting event), but please, if it's going to be a sportscaster, please God, make it the great and utterly respectful Al Michaels and not that sanctimonious Bob Costas. Mike Tirico and not Jim Nantz. Dan Patrick and not Chris Berman. Verne Lundquist and not Brent Musburger.   allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">[...]

Pre-Sale: Happenings 19 Days Before The 12 Days Of Christmas


A partridge is treeless, having been evicted the night before from the apple tree for a rather unseemly act of moral outrage. Having spied the would-be lover sitting under the apple tree with a floozy definitely somebody else than the songster's "me," Danny, said partridge, took it upon himself to "dispense" his rather liquidy disapproval from above. He's currently lining up appointments with a realtor to check out possibilities in the peach orchard and hoping he doesn't have to sublet slum it on the other side of the tracks where the pears grow.Two turtle doves are still in therapy, trying to decide whether they are birds or reptiles.Three French hens, as per usual, are melodramatically going through the rather ennui-ish motions of negotiating the intricacies of the modern avian menage a trois. Presently Jean puffs Gauloises, Jeanette frets on the bidet, and Pepe dons his mime outfit for another day's labor.Four colly birds are sitting on a telephone wire singing Leonard Cohen songs to squirrels running up and down the nearby pole.Five cheap aluminum rings sit misplaced somewhere on a charlatan's shelf, awaiting the arrival of the gold spray paint, which has been back ordered at Marc's for like six long weeks now.Six frustrated geese are wondering if they'll ever get any action while on the alert, as always, for down foragers.Seven swans are plotting the ultimate Speedo Outlet heist.Eight maids are lolling about the lounge watching the complete Bachelor series on pirated DVDs and trying to bully Les, their eunuch, into doing their chores for them. Les silently wishes he could grow a pair and report the maids' sloth to the boss. Nine ladies, still despondent about not making the cut for this year's Rockettes line-up and eating too many Skittles, are a few days away from coming up with the idea of launching their own troupe, the Nono-Kettes.Ten lords are knee-deep (and knee-aching) in boot camp, limbering up their limbs and glutes. As of this morning, thanks to the intensive training, there's a lot more bleeping than leaping going on.Eleven bored plumbers fill their work trucks with the implements of their trade, dreaming of more exciting lives.Twelve separate percussionists in twelve separate towns, bummed out about being unceremoniously sacked from their most recent gigs as mallet-wielding timekeepers for various bad cover bands, each post simultaneous ads on Craigslist that all boil down to this message: "Awesome drummer seeks like-minded dudes into Rush and TSO."And wandering aimlessly from mall to plaza to his favorites bar to a stack of mail-order catalogs, one clueless, alliteration-adoring would-be true-lover, whose silly Romantic notions won't allow him to just go buy an Apple Store gift card and get it over with already, wonders just what in the hell can he get her this Christmas.[...]