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A charming little Magpie whispered this disclaimer into my ear, and I'm happy to regurgitate it into your sweet little mouth:

"Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for those of you who start to laugh and piss your pants a little. Although this blogger understands the role he has played (in that, if you had not been laughing you may not have pissed yourself), he assumes no liability for damages caused and will not pay your dry cleaning bill.

These views represent the thoughts and opinions of a blogger clearly superior to yourself in every way. If you're in any way offended by any of the content on this blog, it is clearly not the blog for you. Kindly exit the page by clicking on the small 'x' you see at the top right of the screen, and go fuck yourself."

Sunday, July 31, 2011


If you happen to be sort of lolling around at 10:00am, EST today-- think of me. I'll be at work, running a group on Goal Setting. I was thinking that maybe there should be a dash between "Goal" and "Setting," but it didn't look quite right, but I'm still unsure about it. And then I was thinking, should a person who isn't even sure if he should hyphenate "goal setting" be running a group on goal setting?

Probably not-- but there we are.

There's a lot of things that I probably shouldn't be doing, but I do them, either because they're my job, or because I feel compelled to do them, or because no one else seems to be doing them, or because we're out of toilet paper in the second floor bathroom, or because there's something in between my teeth, or because I love my wife, or because there's traffic or intense humidity or external expectations.

Or threat of imminent per/prosecution.

Goal setting might end up being a tricky thing for me to teach, even at a psych hospital, because my goals are murky at best, non-existent at worse. It's hard for me to articulate what my goals are, to be honest with you, and that's kind of a scary thing to confront about oneself. Obviously, one of my goals is to be a competent, nurturing, gentle, insightful father. One of the things I will be talking about in group will be about how a goal is like a puzzle, and the steps that one must take in order to achieve one's goal are the pieces to that puzzle, and it's a matter of seeing where and how those pieces fit together.

Does that sound a bit camp? Probably. It kind of sounds like it came out of a self-help book I should have read at some point but didn't because I was too busy listening to Amber Rubarth songs.

(Seriously-- she's good. And hot.)

I don't have very many long-range goals other than the whole father thing. Which, again, is scary. I'll be talking about short and long-range goals in group, too. I'm pretty good with short-range goals, I think, though, sometimes, it's hard to tell. When you work at an inpatient psych hospital, where some patients are delusional, psychotic, assaultive, aggressive, and/or unpredictable, my immediate, short-range, eight-hour goal is, in the words of Andy Breckman: don't get killed.

(Seriously-- he's good. And Jewish, but decidedly not hot.)

Obviously, my short-range goals at work are to be as useful to the patients as humanly possible, to lend a helping hand and an empathic ear, to proffer support and positive reinforcement, and redirection as required, but, mostly, I'm trying to go home in one piece. Because, if I can't do that, then I won't be able to come back and be of the same level of use the next day. And because me with traumatic brain injury would probably not be so pretty.

I suppose I have things that I want to accomplish before I die, and I guess that makes them goals.

I want to own (another) antique Volkswagen Beetle.

I want to be published (again).

I want to star in a drama, or a comedy-- something without music, something written by a noted playwright-- preferably Sam Shepard or Harold Pinter.

Oh, and I want to play Salieri in "Amadeus".

I want to grow a real motherfucker of a walrus mustache, like a real full, bushy, Mark Twain-style bastard, that sweeps all the way down to my jawline-- but I know I'll have to wait till I'm old to do it so people will take me seriously.

I want to shake hands with a Python. And there's only five left...

I want to play the highland bagpipes.

I want to perform a leading patter role in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia with the Savoy Opera Company, even though they're basically a bunch of lushes with inflated egos.

I want to retire to the country with the woman I love, where the nearest neighbor will be so far away s/he won't be able to hear us having gross, creaky old people sex.

I want healthy, eccentric, affectionate, relatively stable children. (Two, please.)

Wish me luck as I spend the remainder of my days searching for the pieces to these puzzles. But not today. Today it's my job to help some other folks do the same for themselves.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Trololololo, Memeabago Man

A few months ago, I was reading "Car and Driver", like a dutiful little motorhead, and I came across a small blurblette, reviewing the documentary film, "Winnebago Man". It sounded entertaining-- a film documenting old outtakes of a supremely angry Winnebago pitchman trying, in vain, to make an industrial film back in 1987, and said clips winding up on YouTube as an internet sensation.

So, I rented the film, and I came away from it feeling somehow unsatisfied, though it was difficult for me to put my finger on exactly why. I found the film's pacing to be a little laconic, and self-serving for the director at times-- that he made too much of his own existential struggle with the protagonist, ex-Winnebago pitchman, Jack Rebney. The filmmaker sought out Rebney, who was, at first, bewildered at all of the attention he was receiving all of a sudden, courtesy of YouTube, the internet, and its legions of meme-hungry attendants.

"I just cannot comprehend what possible interest you could have in any of this," Rebney said in a recording left on the filmmaker's answering machine. Clearly, Rebney did not comprehend the power of the internet. If he didn't understand it then, he's since gotten the message loud and clear.

Memes that announce themselves with intensity have a tendency to pass me by, and I don't mind. I suppose you don't mind what you miss because you've missed it. I pick things up, or people send me things, or I don't, and they don't-- that's sort of just the way it goes. I can remember one of the last arguments I had with my former best friend was over a clip of an SNL skit featuring Natalie Portman cursing, rapping, being a total badass, and then breaking a chair over an interviewer's head. I mentioned to my friend that I had seen the clip and enjoyed it, and he laughed at me. And not in the way I was used to being laughed at, in a snarky, derisive way, that hurt. For good measure, he added:

"Wow-- that came out, like, last year. Where the hell have you been?"

Well, I thought, obviously not sitting at the cool kids' table.

Not that I ever have sat there, at any point in time, but this was another acute reminder that I never would. A few nights ago, a coworker of mine sent me the "Trolololololo" video, of Russian singer Eduard Khil singing his famous song. I was captivated, as I'm sure you were, too, by not only the bizarre music, but principally by Khil's disturbingly psychotic grin, his moving-through-Jell-O choreography and his stalwart refusal to play to the camera-- one envisions him performing the song for the *ahem* benefit of some poor, frightened woman tied to a chair with electrical cord with an apple stuffed into her mouth. To cheer up a friend, I shared the clip with her, and ended up feeling sepia once again, as if I had been cryogenically entombed for the last year, only to emerge with no internet-based cultural knowledge whatsoever.

The fact of the matter is, you don't just have to observe a meme, you have to be amongst the first to see it, to be the discoverer in your circle of friends, or your enjoyment doesn't count for anything. There are people who have seen "The Book of Mormon", and paid exorbitant amounts of money to do so, and the rest of us who've heard some of the songs in passing. We'll get around to seeing it when the touring company comes around.


When my wife and I saw (the touring company production of) "Next to Normal" I ran into one of my private monologue coaching students on the steps of the Academy of Music, waiting for rush tickets. She is sixteen years old.

"Oh," I asked stupidly, "have you seen this before?"

"Yeah," she answered, raising a perfectly-groomed, judging eyebrow at me, "this'll be my fourth time."

Ah. Yes. Back at the schdork table, where I belong.

It's funny-- when I started writing this post, it was originally going to be a critique of meme-culture: how vacuous and vapid it is, how we as a society are content to supplant carefully-constructed, scripted entertainment that takes months to prepare with a cheap laugh at the expense of some Russian singer from the 1970s, or a Winnebago pitchman swatting furiously at fuckin' flies, or some moron orgasming over double rainbows, but it's turned into a post about my own inferiority, and maybe that's where my anger is most properly directed. Maybe it's just another thing that I just don't get.

I'm not alone, though. Eduard Khil didn't get it either. His son says that Eduard "keeps asking, 'Where were all these journalists 40 years ago?'"

The fact of the matter is that the type of journalist who would be interested in Eduard Khil for the purposes that we are interested in today wasn't alive in the nineteen seventies. That's a product of modernity, or memedernity, and only the cool kids are apathetic enough to give a damn.

At least until the next status update.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Running Away Into the Night

When Mrs. Apron and I go to see shows, as soon as the cast takes its last company bow, we outtie.

I clutch her hand, we make a mad grab for our jackets, and we're flying down the aisle to get the fuck out of there. This is especially true if we've seen a show downtown and the car's in a parking garage and we just can't seem to remember if the lot is a 24/7 dealie or if it's open 24 hours a day. Once, we gambled and lost. The parking lot gates were locked, with our car inside. Had to call a friend who lives downtown to pick us up and drive us home. Had to pick up the car the next day. Had to feel retarded.

When we go downtown to see a musical, or an opera, or an offering of that charming in-between genre, an operetta, we jet quickly, as is our custom. Most normal people, I don't think, exit theatres like we do, as if they are engulfed in flames. They stand up, they stretch, they gather up their things, they take one last glimpse in the program to see where the hot girl who played the maid went to college so they can stalk her on Facebook, they use the bathroom, and they amble out of doors into the crisp, confident night.

We flee.

Other folks flee the theatre after a show, but they don't look like us. They're not holding onto playbills or ticket-stubs, they're not glowingly praising or cattily slashing the performance that just ended. They're dressed in black from head to toe, and they've either got large, black cases strapped to their backs, or they're wheeling impossibly huge silver or black cases in front of them. They're the pit orchestra members, and they're getting the f outta H.

And, I guess, why wouldn't they? It's not like they've got to hang around to be showered in adulation and approbation after a show. They may have done their part exceptionally well, providing soul-stirring music and they may have been a deft compliment to the onstage performers, but, when those lights go down, that's it. There's nothing for them.

And they know it. And they run.

Sure, in days of old, they got a perfunctory round of applause after the eight or nine minute overture, and the markedly shorter entr'acte, and they get acknowledged when the company indicates the pit during curtain calls, but, really?

I feel for the pit. I do.

The closest people care to get to most pit orchestra musicians is not after the show, but during intermission, where there's always three or four awkward-looking men in Dockers and/or plaid button-down shirts who wander aimlessly over to the pit and peer down there. I like to watch these people during intermission-- I call them Pit-Gazers, and they do gaze, in this slightly ambivalent, slightly interested, slightly dazed manner, craning their necks ever so slightly as they peer down into that musical abyss with a look on their faces that suggests they are casually regarding a moderately interesting zoo exhibit.

Ah, giraffes. Mm. One's sleeping. Mm-hm.

I got to thinking about pit orchestras yesterday when I came home from work and my wife was watching "Ellen". There was some blonde country-ish performer singing some vaguely twangy song that somehow mainstream America has decided it likes for whatever reason. She was just singing, not playing anything-- because anybody famous enough to be popular enough to be on "Ellen" can't possibly sing AND play an instrument. So, she was accompanied by a guitar player, a mandolin player, a fiddler, and some guy on a drum set. All the band members were vaguely lit, while the singer was bathed in Heaven's stage lights. When she finished singing, the audience went absolutely bucking fananas. Ellen stepped onto the stage and hugged and kissed the performer like they had gone to grade school together, and what followed was particularly embarrassing-- the guitar player standing to the singer's left stepped forward and offered Ellen his hand. And it was so awkward because, for a split second, she looked at him like he was crazy, like-- why would I shake your hand-- who the fuck are you? All you did was rock out on the guitar like a really talented musician. Anyway, she looked incredibly puzzled, and she hesitated, but then shook his hand limply, and I sat there on the couch and shook my head.

That poor bastard, I thought-- he doesn't get it. The only person who gives a shit that he was on "Ellen" was his wife or his girlfriend or, if he has both concurrently, both. I felt so ashamed by our culture that refuses to accept and reward talented musicians in favor of those who are "supposed" to be "featured", and I felt embarrassed, too. It kind of made me want to go running away into the night.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sleep Away

In much the same way that going to college was never on the table for my mother, it was roundly assumed with more than a modicum of certainty by my parents that offering me the option of attending a sleep away camp would not be necessary.

I've always been a homebody, for as long as I can remember, and I am no different today, though the location of my home has changed by half a mile.

"Well," my mother said to me when I was eight, with a look that might suggest she were a oncologist confronting me with a terminal diagnosis, "we've got to do something with you this summer."

"Can't I just stay at home with you?" I asked, sitting on a piece of porch furniture, my legs crossed like a girl. It seemed like a sensible question to me.

"No, honey, you can't," she said, "I'm getting a job-- I'll be working."


J... ob?

Did. Not. Compute.


Jo.... b?

Why was she getting a job? As far as I knew, my mommy hadn't had a job since she was nineteen, when she worked leisurely hours stringing tennis rackets at a pro shop, my eldest sister playing with her stuffed animals under the store's counter. My eight-year-old brain almost imploded under the pressure of this new, unwelcome, cognitively dissonant information. She explained to me that she had gotten a job as a part-time librarian's assistant at the public library just up the street from our house. She looked at me intently, trying to discern my innermost thoughts through the windows of my eyes. I was trying to convince myself that she was serious and, simultaneously, trying not to pee in my overalls.

I think crossing my legs like a girl helped.

They sent me to a camp close by, probably in case I wigged, but I hated it. Every morning I asked if I had to go back, and the answer was always "yes", until the last day of camp, when I asked the question, just for the sake of consistency, and the answer was finally "no." The next summer, they sent me to the same camp, but enrolled me in the computer program, thinking that my newly-acquired eyeglasses must have meant that I would have some sort of aptitude for computers. Turned out, I had an aptitude for asking if I had to go back there the next day, too.

My tenth summer, they finally got it right. They took a big risk, though, because they sent me to a day camp that was approximately 45 minutes away. That was the down-side. The up-side was that it was a creative arts day camp, where awkward children flourished whilst engaging in activities such as ceramics, choir, circus arts, instrumental music lessons, and, of course, theatre. Basically, I could do whatever the hell I wanted, and I did. They mandated that you attend instructional swim, or your free swim privileges were revoked, but I reasoned with myself that I didn't give a shit about free swim, so I routinely cut instructional swim. At first, lifeguards fanned out across the camp looking for me, and I didn't bother hiding very well. Finally, they gave up, and I would go to the pool area and just hang around during the instructional swim period.

One day, three or four awkward boys between the ages of 11 and 13 were hanging around chatting in an elevated sort of tone, and, during a lull in their conversation, I randomly leaned in to them and out of my mouth popped the following gem:

"Excuse me, but did you know that John F. Kennedy had sex with Marilyn Monroe?"

Obviously, they took an immediate liking to me and accepted me into their little gang. In fact, their poolside pow-wow was actually a meeting to discuss plans to produce an original play of theirs called, "The Gang" and the most talented one of the group, a tall, bony kid with moderate acne and piercing eyes, agreed on the spot to write in a part in the show for me.

I stayed there for three summers as a camper, and returned to work there for four summers. I would still occasionally ask my mother if I had to go back, but I didn't do it every morning which, I guess, is a considerable improvement. Looking back on it now, I'm amazed that the late President Kennedy's sexual proclivities, in some circuitous way enabled me to experience my first and lasting summer friendships, but I'm grateful for that fact nonetheless. And I'm grateful that my parents didn't send me to overnight camp.

Who the hell knows what would have happened there?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Going to Moscow

Of all the memories I have of my childhood, none are as vivid and, at the same time, opaque and nebulous as my memories of flipping out in the living room.

When we ate at the dining room, as we did every night as a family together, it wasn't the idyllic, stereotypical family atmosphere that is portrayed in televised depictions of a bygone era. It was boisterous and loud and often profane, often happy and filled with laughter-- typically at someone else's expense. I was commonly called upon to do impersonations of people in our sphere, or tell elaborate, funny stories for the entertainment of my parents and sisters. And there were frequently arguments that sprang up like pimples or psychotic dogs due to frisky personalities and opinionated children, but these arguments were quelled relatively quickly, and usually by my mother. The dinner table might have been an exciting place, but it was meant for theatrics, not dramatics.

The living room, by contrast, was a venue where one could thump one's chest and rail against the indignities and inequities of the cruel, unforgiving world, where one could loudly assail the misfortune of having a tempestuously frustrating adolescence. I can remember many an evening, standing at the center of the room yelling at the top of my lungs in that misunderstood way that teenagers do, being hysterical about this or that, things I hated, people who had wronged me or, my favorite topic, how much I hated myself. I would pace the floor, hungrily, like a lion, in a fervent and bloody thirst for validation of my feelings, only to receive idiotic cheerleading from my father, and despairing head shakes by my mother.

In short, it was the room in our house where both growing up and regressing happened concurrently.

When they'd had enough of my rantings, my mother would inevitably retire to the basement to do laundry, and my father would commence doing stomach crunches or push-ups on the living room floor.

"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING THAT FOR?!" I would scream, practically apoplectic.

"Mummy," he'd say, in between a crunch, "I have to exercise-- go on, I am listening."

But, really, he wasn't. And I don't necessarily blame him, either. I certainly don't blame my mother for disengaging to go downstairs to do laundry, either. I would have needed a break from me, too.

"I think about those times now," I said to my therapist yesterday, "and I think about how they must have just wanted to be like, 'Jesus-- just shut up and go have some ice-cream or something. Go masturbate. It'll all be okay.' Must have been so tempting to say."

The thing is, they couldn't tell me that, because I was too important to them, even if the psychologically purging horseshit I was spewing all over them at one particular night or another wasn't. And I really appreciate the avenue for expression they gave me in that living room, with all its attendant strange pottery and its ineffective lighting and the superbly ugly Ben Shahn painting on the wall.

When I go to their house now, the living room is filled with my nephew's baby toys. The round, glass table that had been a fixture in that room since I was born has been banished to the basement, and we sit on the overstuffed, ugly furniture and talk in even tones, about nothing at all. It's like a Chekhov play, except nobody's even pretending that they're going to Moscow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Well, Sass My Curmudgeon and Halve My Hyperbole, It's... DEAR APRON!

In college, my favorite hobbies included being pretentious, illegally downloading music from Kazaa, playing said music using Winamp (which really did whip the llama's ass, by the way), watching endless hours of Court TV, and masturbating.

Nearly ten years post graduation, my favorite hobbies include being pretentious, legally listening to the same eleven songs over and over again on Pandora, watching endless hours of bullshit online, masturbating, and tellin' it like it is (read: "helping people") by whipping up a steaming hot shit-storm's worth of advice with...


At age 60 my mother ignores basic safety rules. She drives her older model car with the doors unlocked. I have tried explaining that she's making it easy for a carjacker to gain entry, but she insists "that won't happen to me."

Mom walks her dog alone at night and leaves her front door unlocked, claiming, "If anyone tried to get in, I'd see them." Not true. She goes for long walks, and while she's walking, she chats on her cell phone, completely oblivious to what's going on around her.

She actually nailed a key ring with the key to her back door (labeled as such) outside next to the door. Anyone could scale the short fence and walk right in. She also leaves the key to her front door under the mat on her front porch for anyone to find.

Mom makes me crazy with worry. I don't know if she's aware of the risks she's taking. I have begged her to lock her door and hide the keys, but she says I am "paranoid" and that nothing could ever happen.

Now she has bought a gun and claims it will keep her safe. I say it's better to exercise common sense and prevent the break-in and possible assault in the first place.

At age 30 I feel like I'M the parent. Am I being unreasonable? -- WORRIED SICK IN DALLAS


Normally, I don't re-post letters as long as yours, because I figure, if my attention is wandering to thoughts of dutch-dooring it with blaxploitation film star Pam Grier and the Today Show's Natalie Morales, chances are the average schlock-face who reads this shit wouldn't make it to the other side of a letter that long either. However, I found your situation interesting (read: "comical") and so I thought to myself, "Meh."

Clearly, it's not your mother's bizarre, asking-to-get-anally-violated actions that are the problem here, it's her "It won't happen to me" attitude about said actions that's the problem here. The answer is quite simple: people like this do not change behavior until there are clear, negative consequences. Simply stated: things need to start happening to her. And who needs to start making these things happen to her? That's right, Bucky.

While the idea of sneaking into one's own mother's kitchen through the back door and bludgeoning her into a coma with a rusty hammer might feel slightly uncomfortable and off-putting at first, please keep in mind that you are performing this vaguely criminal act in an effort to keep her safe. Sometimes as we age, the relationship between child and parent changes in such a manner as to allow the child to become the teacher for the parent, whose synapses are dulling and whose brains are melting.

That said, you have some serious stalking to do. The next time your mother drives into town, I want you there at a choice, sparsely-populated intersection, ripping the driver's side door of her Oldsmobile open and smashing her in the mouth with the butt of a 9mm Glock.

"HAND OVER THE MOTHERFUCKIN' KEYS, CUNT-BUFFET!" I want you to scream at her as blood pours out of her mouth.

It won't happen to me? Oh, guess again, Mom.


What do you do when your husband doesn't like your best girlfriend? She keeps asking us to go on double dates and vacations. Should I be honest and tell her he doesn't like her, or continue to make excuses? It really gets on my nerves. -- IN A PICKLE IN OHIO


This is indeed a real problem-- the veritable definition of "in a pickle" if you ask me. I don't see a reasonable way out. Do you? I mean, look at it objectively: you love your husband, you love your best friend. You don't want to hurt either of their feelings. In fact, you couldn't LIVE with yourself if you hurt either of their feelings-- could you? No. No. No, clearly you couldn't. It just couldn't happen.


IT WON'T HAPPEN! We won't allow it to happen.

I'm in a panic-- you are too, right? I'm panicking. Sweat. Tremors. Headache. Anxiety. Diarrhea. Oh! I spelled that right on the first go! Sorry-- dizziness, racing pulse. Gotta get out of here! MAKE IT STOP! PLEASE! Just KILL YOURSELF ALREADY! DO IT!



My daughter watches TV sitcoms along with her precocious 4-year-old son who is being exposed to many "adult" themes, terms and politically incorrect infractions. She doesn't see the harm. Do you? -- NOT A TV FAN


No, I don't see the harm in it at all. Human sexuality is very mysterious, and drawing conclusions about a person's sexual practices from third party hearsay is not only dubious, but uncalled for. People express their love an affection for other each other physically in a wide variety of different ways. Urinating on one's spouse or engaging in carefully-structured physical violence is a preference in which some people engage.

It is up to you and your partner to make mutually-agreeable decisions about what is and what isn't permissible in the bedroom, or whatever room you happen to use for the purposes of sexual congress. Just remember, it is best to seek the advice of a licensed medical professional if ingesting human or animal feces is a consistent component of you and your partner's sexual activities.


A dear friend, "Harold," passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Since we knew his wishes, he was cremated. Harold always hated having his picture taken, so the only photo available for display at his memorial was his driver's license photo, and he looked like a deer in the headlights.

I wish we'd had a few candid shots of Harold to remember him by. I would have loved to have kept one for myself. Please urge your camera-phobic readers to permit family and friends to snap a shot or two of them every once in a while, before it's too late. Thanks. -- MISSING HIM IN ILLINOIS



That's fucking HILARIOUS! Thanks for the yuck.

Monday, July 25, 2011

All Apron's Bitches

I had this idea for a book.

I say that a lot. It must get annoying for the people to whom I say it. They're probably like, "I have this idea for a friend who isn't you."

But, seriously, I have this idea for a book. I'm going to tell you about it now. Why? Because, you choose to come here, so you kind of deserve whatever you get.

Here's my idea for a book:

It's a biography, of sorts. See, Americans love to eat (so you'd think it'd be a cookbook, but I just told you it's a biography so you know it's not a cookbook) and we love to eat processed shit that comes out of a box or a package, because we're largely (and large) too stupid and lazy to cook and bake things from scratch.

So, we like things that are made for us, because we're largely large Americans. Invariably, these packages and/or pre-packaged meals have pictures on them featuring the kindly faces of females who, the corporations would like to have us think, had some hand in either cooking or baking these tasty treats for us, or that they originated the recipes or that they developed some of this shit in their Hobart ovens in, like, the forties or whatever.

So, I thought it would be a good idea for a book to write a biography of all of the women featured on food. I mean, these ladies all have stories and, for the most part, they are untold-- hidden, concealed, unknown. Well that, I think, is kind of a tragedy or whatever, and I'm determined that, once our twins have graduated from college, I'm going to remedy that by dragging these food femmes out into the spotlight by their hair and exposing them for whatever they are. A lot of careful research has already been done in preparation for this project and I'm happy to share with you the preliminary biographical sketches for some of the subjects for the project I have given the working title of:

"All Apron's Bitches"

You might be tempted to think that Dolly Madison was the wife of U.S. President James Madison, but you'd be wrong and, additionally, a sexual deviant. Dolley Madison was James Madison's wife, and she wasn't much to look at if we're being honest with each other. It was Dolly Madison who brought much edible happiness to American families through snack-cakes and other engorging foods marketed by Hostess Foods.

While Dolly Madison was not, in fact, James Madison's wife, she was, in fact the twin sister of President Madison's wife, Dolley. Dolly and Dolley Madison were born on May 20, 1768 to Fred and Elizabeth Schwartzburg, of New Garden, North Carolina. Fred and Elizabeth, (both amateur comedians and frequently shared the stage, singing lighthearted duets about subjects such as hangings, slavery, and multiple orgasms) shared an uncommon sense of absurd humor and thought it would be a "real gassbag" if they named their twins the same name, but just adding an "e" to the name of the twin who came out second.

The joke never quite took. In primary school, the Schwartzburg girls were ridiculed mercilessly. In high school, they were sexually molested by the members of the school's rugby team, with moderate mercy.

While Dolley Madison flourished in polite society, eventually marrying the man who would become the president, Dolly Madison never quite found her way in the world. "Her misshapen head and rather obscenely-proportioned breasts made her somewhat of an anomaly amongst the streetwalkers and Presbyterians of the day," historian and amateur fencing instructor G. F. Jarlsburg commented in a recent interview. "She was never quite facile at mid-afternoon tea or dinner parties, preferring to spend most of her time inside empty oil barrels impersonating members of the Ottoman Empire and pigeons. She did marvelous impersonations of pigeons."

Mary Frances Catherine and Shira Tziporah Rhavannaptrum were born by J-Section on April 12th, 1961, and then again on April 16th. They lead a relatively happy, carefree life in Camden, New Jersey. "We were just kids havin' a blast. The crackpipes strewn about the ground never bothered us," Shira recounted in an interview for "Time" magazine, "we just used them to smoke crack."

"We had no idea how to ride a bicycle when they shot those commercials," Mary Frances remembered, "so they just paid two homeless, black teenage boys $10.00 each and dressed them up like us. Major credit goes to Hazel Whittfield who did all the make-up for DoubleMint's ads and commercials. I mean, is she amazing or what?"

It is popular legend that Mary Frances and Shira were appearing in a low-budget porno film when they were discovered by DoubleMint casting agent Rick Tickler, "but that's not the case," says Shira, "the budget on 'Zulu Cock Artists' wasn't low at all."

This bitch is a fucking illegal immigrant. She came here from Cuba on a goddamned 1951 Ford truck riveted on top of a motherfucking life-raft. After hocking bananas to the unsuspecting populous in an effort to turn every last one of us into a fucking ape, she was shot by immigration authorities after pointing what was believed to be a handgun at them during a nighttime confrontation outside the Cuba Libre. Turns out, it was a fucking banana.

Regrettably, no photographs of Mrs. Paul exist. The long-time, and long-suffering wife of author J. D. Salinger, Mrs. Paul reveled in her late husband's notorious reclusive nature. It was reported that Mrs. Paul (nobody knows her real name, birthplace, age, or blood-type) fed only fish-sticks to her husband every day of his life, and did so intravenously. She is reported to be a devout vegan and a sporadic Methodist.

According to local legend, Mrs. Paul is still living inside the remote house she once shared with her husband and his collection of unpublished manuscripts and human feces. It is rumored that she carries at least five concealed firearms on her person at all times, and that her left breast is made of copper.

A Nazi sympathizer and war criminal currently being hunted by the Mossad. If you have any information as to her whereabouts and/or are concealing her from the authorities, you are advised to contact the Israeli consulate at once, because, you know when it's real.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Celebrities are never quite as interesting as their deaths.

When Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers died in an airplane fire in 1983, he was little known outside his native Canso, and perhaps Hailfax, where he gave his last full-scale concert. His brother, Garnet, wrote the song "Night Drive" about Stan's death, and their lives together.

"They lost sight of you,
As your legend's grown,
But this road and I,
We remember."

"They" lose sight of everybody famous, after the flame dies out. Don't they?

Don't we.

It's what we do best-- lionize and memorialize and tributize until we're as blue in the face as the waxen figures whom we celebrate.

Stan continued the seemingly obligatory tradition of musicians dying aboard airplanes. Lots of performers, though, dramatic and depressed and desultory as they sometimes tend to be find their end in lots of jarring ways. Some take their own lives, sometimes fueled by drugs or drink-- sometimes not. Some are violently felled by those who supposedly loved them, like the painfully talented Phil Hartman.

A celebrity died on Friday, but it wasn't in one of those newsworthy, exciting ways. Not only that, his death is certainly being overshadowed by the recent death of another celebrity-- Amy Winehouse-- who perished under traditionally dubious circumstances.

It's hard to imagine that the celebrity's death that I'm referring to, has played out in the penumbra of some markedly-talented, tortured young lady, but it is-- much in the way Farah Fawcett's death paled in comparison to the passing of Michael Jackson.

It's hard to imagine that a profound actor like Tom Aldredge, who commanded leading roles on Broadway's stages for over 40 years, could be upstaged by anyone, but that's our funny little world, in a funny little nutshell.

You might not immediately recognize his name, but, if you've ever been fortunate enough to see the PBS "Great Performances" recording of "Into the Woods," you'd know his face. And his gentle, sturdy, fatherly voice.

He stood tall, in his gray, flannel suit as The Narrator, effortlessly welcoming and alternately toying with the audience as he held our hands, sometimes too tightly, on our journey into the woods. He stood, stooped over and grizzled, with a funny voice, as he struggled to connect with his estranged son, The Baker, offering him only barbs and riddles in Act I, and a sweet, tender, and contrite duet in Act II.

It's a fine, kind performance by a veteran of the stage who seemed to understand that the integrity of the show and the humanity of the role was intended to come before him, that his body and his voice were simply conduits intended to communicate a playwright and lyricist's intention, message, and heart.

In 1997, my high school announced that it was producing "Into the Woods" as its spring show. For years, I had enjoyed and respected Aldredge's performance, and I set my sights on the part of the Narrator and the Mysterious Man. I was only seventeen, but, for three years prior, I had returned to my old middle school to assistant-direct the musicals there and, in so doing, I had served as a mentor to the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. As they grew older and became freshman and sophomores with me, my role as mentor changed to friend, and I was privileged enough to call three of those children my friends.

One of them would be Little Red in this show, one of them would be The Baker, and the third, the only one who is still my friend to this day, was cast in the funniest role of all in that production: my dresser. Responsible for the dozen or so quick changes, getting me out of my Narrator suit and into my Mysterious Man clothes, running outside of the theatre (we didn't have a backstage passageway) in the rain on some nights to do quick changes in mid-run, it was a true adventure.

The director had originally wanted to cast me as The Witch (yes, the Bernadette Peters part) and it wouldn't have been the first time I'd have put on a dress to honor Thespis, (or the last) but he was convinced that The Narrator and the Mysterious Man would be a better fit.

To this day, I can't listen to a recording of the song "No More," that special duet between father and son, without my throat getting thick and tears welling up in my eyes.

"Trouble is, son, the farther you run,
The more you'll feel undefined.
For what you have left undone, and more,
What you've left behind."

Thank you, Tom, for sharing your gift with the world, once upon a time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Friends with benefits?

I want some of those!

Oh, not to have sex with-- that's naughty!-- although I am under the impression that this is the universally-understood definition of the term "friends with benefits" (FWB for short).

Sometimes, we go out for coffee. Sometimes, I put my dick inside her and move it around till I cum. Then we joke about videos of cats on YouTube and consume Frito Lay products. Then, I do that thing with my dick again. Then we go out for Fro-Yo.

Yeah, I'm not really interested in that. See-- I'm married. And straight. And male. And Jewish. And I want to paint your fingernails.

(Shhh, that's kind of a secret.)

But I've decided recently, in therapy, actually, that I sort of want friends. So, um, look out. You could be on the short-list. If it sweetens the deal: I often pay for meals/coffee. But, I want my friends to come with benefits. You know, because having a friend that you trust, can talk to about possibly anything or maybe everything just isn't enough of a benefit. Not really. Sharing interests, debating topics, enjoying cultural offerings, sorting through the mysteries and complications of the world isn't quite sufficient. Call me Greedy, but, to quote a certain Mer-person: I want more.

Here's the kind of benefits I'm looking for:

I want a friend from whom I can get a good skin-graft, should the need arise. So, bearing that in mind, I'm going to look for, in a friend, skin that I not only secretly covet, but that could, in the event of an avulsion or other dermatologically-related injury/emergency, look good on me. Hey-- by the way: remember that scene from "Silence of the Lambs"?

Someone who looks good in my own throw-up. This is one of the litmus-tests the Romans used to see if they'd found a friend who was a keeper or not. Think of the number of situations where you could conceivably vomit on a friend. A friend who doesn't get all annoying or bent out of shape if you should happen to raulgpf all over him/her is a major plus, and one that you couldn't possibly ever really appreciate until the time arises. It would be really advantageous and preferable for me to have a friend I can guiltlessly hose with my forceful, rancid emesis.

Having a friend who is more racist than I am would be a significant benefit to me. I think people are self-conscious about just how racist they are, and going out to the mall or to Barnes & Noble with a friend who is just a shade more racist than you are would, I think, greatly decrease any inner pang of guilt or uncertainty you might feel about your own inherent racism. When looking for a friend, remember not to discount the level of their racist attitudes as compared to your own.

Going through life being pally-wals with a miserable, slovenly, coke-snorting, porn-addicted pimple-popper wouldn't hurt your self-image either. Remember: nothing says "SELF-ESTEEM BOOSTER" like being seen in the company of a fat chick.

I think it would be beneficial in lots of ways to be friends with the Pope. Popes, for whatever reason, tend to speak lots of languages, and I can't think of many things that are more beneficial than hanging out with some dude who speaks, like, twelve languages-- especially if you're thinking of doing lots of traveling. Granted, the Pope might be a little bit of a Debbie Downer on a road-trip, but you'll never be at a loss for how to ask important questions like, "Is this soup vegan?" "Where's the toilet?" and "Are you sure you're 18?" as long as your poly-lingual friend is around.

In his funny fucking hat, of course.

Friday, July 22, 2011

When I Make a Tweeter

Yesterday afternoon, my world came to a dizzying, traumatic, abrupt and despairing halt. Used to be, it was the 3 a.m. phone call that brought us to our knees with news of calamity or tragedy. We're barely awake, unable to comprehend the enormity of the words being spoken to us.

These days, our phones light up and there's a little "bop-bop!" or "be-doonk" noise or, if they're on vibe, that disconcerting "vvvvvvvv-vvvvvvvv" going on in your pocket. And you pull the phone out and you look at that little indicator light, blinking its insistent orange or red or green or whatever it happens to be. Flashing, like an emergency light in the night.


Something's wrong.

It's just, I don't know, different from any other mundane text message you get from your friend who wants to go back-and-forth for two days exchanging "Royal Tenenbaum" quotes (Chas: "HEY! Are you LISTENING to me!?" Royal: YES, I AM! I think you're having a nervous BREAKDOWN!") you know, somehow you know, that this text message is the big one.

I got it yesterday afternoon at 3:49pm, Eastern Standard Time. It was from my father. He knows that I get out of work at exactly 3:00pm every day, and he knows that my commute lasts for 45 minutes. That classy sonofabitch doesn't waste a hot-shit minute.

I looked at my Blackberry's little indicator light (mine's red) and, as it flashed with urgency, I thought to myself-- this is bad news.

Thing is, it wasn't.

It wasn't bad news at all. What it was was the. single worst thing a 31-year-old man can ever hear from his father, in the year 2011:

"Pls call me when u have a chance
question about twitter"

And my face went white. I mean, it's not like I was standing in front of a mirror, watching myself react to this, but, like, you know what it feels like when you get blanched like that, when the blood drains from your facial capillaries. My stomach also dropped an inch or two. Fortunately, I was sitting on the toilet when I received this email, which is a good thing, because, when my stomach dropped that inch or two, some shit fell out, too.

Don't make that face, Prudie Tudie. It would have happened to you, too.

They say that, when children reach a certain age, the roles of helper and helpee (yeah, that's not a word, I got it) reverse and the child is supposed to assist the parent(s) through the process of aging, decaying and, eventually, dying. I suppose offering assistance as to the specifics of things like Facebook and Twitter ought to be included somewhere in there, but I find myself uncomfortable in the role of technical navigator/advisor-- more than uncomfortable: inept.

No. Not inept.


Unwilling as I am to assist my aging, Israeli father in the how's and why's of the digital, online age, I dialed his number after only taking a few precious minutes to recover from the substance of his text message.

What did he want to know about Twitter, I inquired.

Oh, you know, how do people answer when I make a Tweeter? he asked. Do they need some kind of phone number?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Want to Be a Motivational Speaker or Some Shit

Or, maybe not.

I don't know.

Thing is-- I know I can't do what I'm doing right now forever. It's not a forever job. Most people who work where I work, for whatever reason(s), kind of don't make it to retirement. Chances are, I'm going to leave, either of my own accord far in advance of retirement age, or I'm going to leave of someone else's accord, also far in advance of retirement age. That's just the way these sort of things happen.

And I guess I'm okay with that.

I'll just do some other random-ass thing that has no business amongst the cavalcade of other inappropriate, bizarre, what-the-fuck jobs that have somehow landed on my precious little resume since around the time I graduated college.

Hey-- what's one more, right?

But I was thinking today of things I might like to do that I haven't yet done. Not necessarily things I have a whole kit bag-full of aptitude for-- after all, when has that ever stopped me?-- but things that appear, at least superficially, to be interesting, engaging, challenging, rewarding, fun, stupid, easy, offensive, confusing and/or on-track to keep me flirting with the poverty-line, as I seem to be destined to be for the remainder of my life.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

* A manicurist

No real sound, logical reason for this one, other than the fact that you get to spend inordinate amounts of time with attractive females who give you inordinate amounts of money to paint their fucking fingernails (I do this for my wife for nothing-- and pretty well, too) and I would really be breaking through that cultural stereotype barrier that dictates this position only be held by 17-31 year old Vietnamese women with an English vocabulary of exactly twelve words. I mean, before you accuse me of being a racist bastard, ask yourself how many heterosexual, Jewish male manicurists you know?

* A surgeon

I'll be honest, I just want to cut some sleeping motherfucker's belly open and see all that crazy shit in there. I'm sorry, but that's what I want. I once had the (privilege?) experience of attending an autopsy, but everything was cold and still and nasty and smelled like shit and, well, the motherfucker was dead. I want a sleeping motherfucker. How many times have we heard me say that this week?

* A voice-over actor

Let's face it, I'm awkward as fuck to look at. Those of you who know me know this. But I don't think I'm jerking myself off too badly when I say that I do fabulous voices. I'd happily go off to work for Pixar or Warner Brothers or some shit, have them draw some gimpy-ass cat or a homicidal pelican and have me voice that bastard. I think it would be successful. Just give me a chance!

* A research scientist

That way, I could spend most of my time doing not very much, while justifying it as "brainstorming" or "engaging in hypothetical analysis" and then conduct some inane study on, I don't know, say bats and wind turbines and then ruin somebody's perfectly good idea with the results of my inane study, thus, getting me a grant to do a new one!

* A motivational speaker


* The host of "The Price is Right"

Is everybody in this country completely fucking synapse-fried, or does nobody notice that Drew Carey is single-handedly destroying the integrity of this show? He's spiteful, he's degrading to the contestants, he's brusque and rude, and, worst of all, he's insincere. You can tell by the wan, mincing way he reacts when the female contestants come up and kiss his cheek.

Me? I'd stick at least three fingers up each of their assholes. And I wouldn't be insincere about it either.

* A dockworker

I've always wanted to wear a pea-coat. Do dockworkers still wear pea-coats?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Going Bat-Shit

I've never been very much into science.

Sure, there was a time when I put salad dressing, ice cream, bits of old candy bars, a celery stalk, and strips of cheese into a soda bottle and would leave it on the kitchen counter, covered with a towel, for a month to see what would happen, but that was largely the extent of my interest in science. I got an "A" in chemistry, probably because my teacher was insane, definitely through no actual comprehension of the Periodic Table or any tenets of Chemistry, and we know that my affiliation with Physics lasted for all of two days.

When I hear a story on the radio about something sciency, that's generally my cue to tune out and gaze out my windshield at some unsuspecting pedestrian/joggers tank-top-covered breasts and, usually, get caught doing it because, while I have limited scientific abilities, my slickness abilities are far more limited.

Yesterday morning, however, a sciency story caught my ear and actually held my interest, but it wasn't necessarily because there were no boobies to stare at, or because it was particularly interesting, it was because it made me mad.

The story, (admittedly, I didn't catch the whole thing) centered around an alleged problem that was occurring with recently-constructed wind turbines, which are wind-powered generators of electricity, just on the off-chance you didn't know that.

Apparently, these ostensibly ecologically and environmentally-friendly energy producers are secretly creating an unintended though significant problem in our fragile ecosystem:

They're killing bats.

You know-- these things:

Yikes, right?

According to scientific research, bats are being killed by wind turbines, and not necessarily in the way you might think they're being killed. See, you might be tempted to think that, because wind turbines have dangerous, rotating fan-type things that spin around at sometimes high rates of speed that bats are being essentially filleted to death as if by a Hibachi chef at your table side on a Saturday night-- but that's not what's going on at all. No, it's not the bird getting sucked into the 747's engine fan situation. Apparently, according to research (that's probably being paid for by the government, you know, while the whole country is basically out of work) the pressure that is built up inside the wind turbines is so great that, when a bat gets near the turbine, its lungs and/or other internal organs basically explode.

And I was sitting there in my car, driving to therapy, actually, thinking to myself,


I mean-- take another look

and ask yourself

"Do I give a shit about this?"

Chances are you'll probably come up with, as I did, "No. I do not."

See, the way I look at things like this is the old Cost/Benefit method. Less dependence on oil, gasoline and coal, versus some dead, disgusting, fucking scary-ass flying fang-fuckers? I'm kind of okay with that.

The other thing is-- is there some kind of law that says that scientists have to ruin everything? Okay, so, you're bored. You're sitting in your high-tech laboratories playing "Zelda" and looking for chicks who dig losers on E-Harmony and you're wondering about what you can write your next $3.2 million dollar grant for, and you come up with this? The Effect of Wind-Turbines on the Bat Population of America?

Come on, guys. Why don't you just shut the fuck up? Focus on the remote possibility of your ability to procreate and leave the rest of us alone.

I don't know-- maybe if Koala bears or puppies were having their organs explode because of wind turbines I would care a little bit more, but bats? You're gonna have to try a little harder than that to take my attention away from the tank-tops and bobbing up and down ponytails of the world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Rust Bucket List

So, there's this blog I don't read called "The Polish Magician". My wife has a Wordpress blog, (it's called SLiPs of the Tongue and you should go there) and, last night she was doing some edits to her blog, and, on the Wordpress website, "The Polish Magician" was one of the featured blogs or something, and the title of the author's most recent post caught my eye:

"My Rust Bucket List"

"Click on that," I blurted out to my wife, who, in turn, gave me a look-of-death. But, she dutifully clicked on the link.

See, I got all excited because, underneath the clever title I saw a picture of a 1971 Plymouth Valiant and that sort of turned me on. Pickle-tickled, if you will.

However, I was soon flaccillated.

The post was just about cars he's owned since his first car, the 1971 Valiant. And, frankly, none of the cars are anywhere near as interesting as the Valiant, and I think the Polish Magician would be inclined to agree with me. He's owned a

1971 Plymouth Valiant
1972 Datsun 240Z
2002 Toyota 4-Runner (way to rapidly enter the 21st century, pal)
1992 BMW 316 (who the fuck came up with the numbering system for BMW? 316? What the fuck does that even mean?)
And a 2004 Mazda 6 wagon. In foamy mint green. It looks like a Tic-Tac with wheels.

Now, no offense, Mr. Polish Magician, but my list of cars that I've owned in my relatively young life kicks your list in the crazy-go-nads.

1966 Volkswagen Beetle
1990 Ford Crown Victoria, LTD - retired Delaware State Police car
1989 Volvo 240 DL
1994 Ford Taurus
1997 Ford Crown Victoria LX
2001 Chevrolet Impala
2001 Volkswagen New Beetle (done up as Herbie the Love Bug)
2005 Ford Focus SE
2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, Limited Edition
2002 Volvo S-40, 1.9 Turbo

So, yeah, my list can beat up your list-- but we're not even going to go there. Even though we should.


What I really wanted to say was that the reason I got all funny in the trousers about the Polish Magician's blog was because I thought it was going to be something that it was not. I thought, as the title, frankly, implied, that it was going to be a list of all of the fucking awesome-tots cars this guy wanted to drive before he died.

Drive... or own.

Can you imagine? Having a list of rust-bucket shitheaps that you want to have for your own, for a time-- maybe a month, then sell, scrap, auction, or donate to public radio before then moving on to the next cum-wagon? How amazing would that be? I mean, sure, you'd have to be reasonably comfortably well-off to pull off a stunt like that, and you'd have to be basically single, because what normal wife would put up with a 1976 Checker Marathon parked out front in October, only to have it replaced with a 1981 Dodge St. Regis in November.

I mean, my wife would cut off my balls and insert them, forcibly, into each of my eye-sockets. And that would appreciably interfere with my ability to pilot either a Checker Marathon or a Dodge St. Regis.

But what a wonderful idea for a blog. To drive an shitty, antique (or at least vintage) car for a month, form an attachment, get frustrated, go broke, patch it together, have a road-trip or two with a friend or a lover or a dog, and then get rid of it and move on to the next one. You could do it for a year, and write about it, and score one whore-fuck of a book deal-- no doubt. It sounds like it would be the perfect project for someone crazy about cars, and writing.

Someone who's, well, crazy. I don't have to say that I think there'd be little competition against me for the honor of Most Worthy of the Rust Bucket List.

I thought, though, that I would put the Rust Bucket List idea out there for a man more adventuresome, more worldly, more money-laden than myself. You don't have to pay me a finder's fee, or royalties-- just take my idea and run-- no, no-- drive with it. Just promise me you'll appreciate the butter-smooth click of the column shift lever as you put it into D. Just promise me you'll lovingly inhale the glorious odors emanating from the sun-dappled vinyl bench seat. Just promise me you'll diligently put in that lead additive when fueling up. Just promise me you'll include at least one antique Beetle in your Rust Bucket List.

And promise that you'll swing by, just once, to take me for a joyride.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Clearly, I Can't Handle It

Chances are, you've driven behind one of these at least once in your life and, more likely than not, while doing so, you've wanted to shoot yourself in the face with a large caliber firearm.

It's not the Toyota Camry's fault, though. A Camry, by itself, is an innocuous, inoffensive, typically beige-on-metallic-beige object that, when put in the hands of a Camry driver becomes a trigger for suicide ideation.

But we're not here to talk about the typical Camry driver and his/her insistence on methodically and literally obeying speed limits, their penchant for meandering over the double-yellow, fluttering the brakes or any other annoying motoring habits they have picked up in Camry Driver Education (CDE) class. We're here to talk about the Camry itself. Specifically, the 1991-1996 bodystyle.

Why? Because this blogger is, sometimes, fucked up to the point where said blogger decides to focus his energy and, by proxy, yours, on a car he has never owned nor gives a shit about. Remember, don't blame the blog-- blame the blogger.

Actually, we're not even going to be talking about the 1991-1996 Toyota Camry. We're going to be talking about the 1991-1996 Toyota Camry's exterior door handle.

That's right, you heard me.

This is a 1991-1996 Toyota Camry's exterior door handle. The image is from and I'm willing to bet that these people sell lots of these door handles. Why? Because, a few years ago, I started noticing that many of the Toyota Camrys I see of this vintage have door handles that do not match the rest of the exterior paint color of the car.

Green Camrys with burgundy door handles. White Camrys with black door handles. Blue Camrys with silver door handles. Green Camrys with beige door handles.

And it's usually the driver's door that has the door handle of a different color, because, obviously, that's the door that's used the most, and, thus, most frequently experiences a break.

Now, things break. I understand that. I'm a pretty understanding guy, as guys go, but the number of 1991-1996 bodystyle Camrys I've noticed with mismatched door handles as compared to, you know, every other fucking car I've ever seen says to me that the 1991-1996 Toyota Camry suffers broken door handles at a much more significant rate than other vehicles. And, for one of the most popular sedans of its time (competing for the honor only with the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord) I think that fucking blows.

According to's website:

"No one likes to be inconvenienced. When it comes to your Toyota Camry, there is a variety of mishaps that could occur to cause you to grumble. One of the simplest, yet most aggravating, is a broken door handle. You probably take your Toyota Camry Door Handle for granted, but when it breaks, it becomes painfully obvious."

Yes. I would imagine, carpartswholesale, that it would be painfully obvious. And it's painfully obvious to me that the door handles were designed shittily. I mean, okay, so the floormats of newer Toyotas get caught and the vehicles suddenly accelerate and the braking systems malfunction-- but that's all complicated stuff. I can accept that. This, though? A fucking mechanism that opens a goddamn door? You can't figure that out? I mean, you are Japanese, aren't you?

I wonder if any Toyota executives have killed themselves because of the 1991-1996 Toyota Camry door handle fiasco. I know this isn't going to sound very charitable and trauma-sensitive of me, but I kind of hope at least one did. If not, there's still time. Maybe the Executive Vice-President of the Quality Control division could commit seppuku by inserting a broken 1991-1996 Toyota Camry exterior door handle into his stomach and moving it all around in that shit.

I would watch that.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ouch. Oops.

I was bullied as a child before it was cool.

When I was growing up, there were no anti-bullying publicity campaigns, no clever slogans, no Dr. Phil episodes, no support groups. It just wasn't cool to be bullied. Awkward, bespectacled, unfortunate-looking, a-social kids these days at least get to feel as though the mental torment, physical punishment, and psychological anguish they're enduring is something special, or at least kind of neat.

I don't talk much about being bullied because I try to imagine that it didn't effect me very much. However, I guess I'm beginning to accept that it's resulted in me being kind of damaged goods. I know this because, whenever I'm out and I'm around thickly-built, sports-oriented guys with square jaws who are kind of loud when they've been drinking, and I see the reddish eyes and the sneering grin and even just a certain type of wardrobe, I get anxious. Afraid. Actually, it's not even that, it's more a feeling of impending doom-- I'm going to get assaulted, either physically or emotionally.

So I try not to be noticed. It's not so easy when you're 6 feet tall and wear neckties with little goats or bunnies on them. You get noticed. I haven't been overtly bullied since college, but I remember it well. I remember a jock asshole using my office shears to trim his pubic hair on my bedsheets, right in front of me, daring me to do something about it. A different person might have waited until he was finished and then jammed the scissors into his jugular or, better, his crotch, but he knew his prey well enough, as experienced predators do. The type of predator who puts up anal porn screensavers on his prey's computer and rubs ejaculate on his prey's doorknob knows his prey well.

He knows. It's part and parcel, you see, of being a predator in the first place.

They tell you you're supposed to advocate for yourself and be assertive. I teach this in the groups in the hospital where I work. And I must sound like an immense fool to these people, who live with profound mental illness, who live on the streets, who live in the real world.

"Be direct in your relationships, voice your opinions, let people know what you're feeling. Tell them, 'I feel angry because you aren't respecting me.' You have to say something."

Tell them, "I feel disrespected because you are clipping your pubic hair onto my comforter."


I went to a training last week. For two whole days. 16 hours. It was a group comprised mostly of individuals with mental illness and/or addiction issues, and a couple mental health professionals like myself. Like most trainings, I expect, it was 90% ridiculous and 10% valuable. One component of the ridiculous came right at the beginning when we were discussing Group Guidelines, how we were to conduct ourselves at the training. One individual suggested something called, "Ouch. Oops."

"If you say something that hurts somebody else in the group, the person whose feelings are hurt says, 'Ouch' and you're supposed to respond with, 'Oops'."

"That's a great idea!" said the facilitator, as she wrote it up on the white board. And I wanted to scream,

"NO!!! THAT'S A TERRIBLE IDEA! You're supposed to be helping these people function and advocate for themselves in the real world, using real, grown-up people language. How the fuck does 'Oops! Ouch!' help anyone? How about, 'That comment made me angry because it was insensitive and thoughtless, and I'd appreciate an apology'?"

But I stayed silent, because, unless I've donned My Masonic Apron, that's kind of what I do best.

The bullying started in elementary school but it's stayed with me. I'm hyper-cautious about what I say and do in public, what I look like, the signals I'm sending through my body language and my off-the-cuff comments. Never say the wrong thing, never make a wave, never stand out too much. Just come in quietly, do your thing, and leave as fast as you can. Every conversation. Every moment.

At mini-golf on Friday night, my wife and I were having a date. She played blithely in her brightly-hued dress emblazoned with depictions of toy robots. She crafted this dress for herself after hours and hours and hours of meticulous labor, and it looks absolutely adorable on her. She's adorable, beautiful, precious. And I am protective of her, and scared that someone will hurt her feelings, because she's different-- even though, in this culture, that's what we're ostensibly encouraged to be.

And I was wearing my blue and pink striped dress shirt and my Converse and my old-man pants.

And we golfed.

Behind us, separated by one hole, there was a bully from my past. Well, not a real one. A douchebag of maybe eighteen or nineteen, there with his rail-thin hottie girlfriend in her gray tank-top and neon green bra straps. They were being loud and obnoxious, tossing around the flags and laughing and cursing and my bully-meter skyrocketed. I peered surreptitiously over my shoulder at them and they were looking at us, looking at my wife. On the 14th hole, they had their cell-phones out, extended in our direction, as if they were taking pictures.

Of my wife.

To put on Facebook.

Ha-ha. Look at this crazy bitch in the robot dress and her skinny dork husband.

This is all in my head, mind you. I don't know what the fuck they were doing, but this is where my brain goes. Thank you, Bullies of Christmas Past.

I wanted to stride up to them and call them on what they were doing but, on the drive home, I talked it out with my wife and came to the conclusion that,

"There's no way that would have gone anywhere good. If I had said, 'Excuse me, are you taking pictures of my wife?' they would have said one of three things:

1.) Uh, no, you superparanoid fuck.

2.) Yeah, we were-- what the fuck are you going to do about it, you little faggot?

3.) Yeah, we were, I really love her dress-- I'm a seamstress and I want to make it for myself.

Any way you slice it, I lose. The game is rigged. It's not like they would have said,

4.) Yes, we were. We're so sorry we were doing that. In our societally-driven lust to find the next meme or thing for people to comment on or "Like" we deliberately invaded your privacy to further our own narcissistic gains, and it was wrong and we hurt your feelings and we sincerely apologize."

Maybe I should have just walked up to them and said, "Ouch" and hope that I would have gotten an "Oops" in return.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Debt Ceiling, Part II

Prepare thy gag-reflexes. And blame KLo. Blame her for the horror (the... horror) that you are about to become intimately, if not carnally, acquainted with.

Behold, wicked world: our kitchen ceiling.

Reminds you of "Office Space" doesn't it? Don't you just want to burn the building down because that guy took your stapler?

This one's kinda artsy. If you consider our ceiling fan "artsy."

This one's far and away my favorite, though. It's a stain from water damage, though I like to think of it as our ceiling having ringworm.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Debt Ceiling

All this talk about the debt ceiling has got me thinking, about our kitchen ceiling.

See, it's not that I don't want to be interested in the political ramifications of the nation having our rating lowered and interest rates rising and other terrible shit happening-- I want to be interested in that. But it's a little too... I don't know... macro for me.

I'm not a macro kind of guy.

I'm more micro.

Remember Micro Machines? They're more my speed. I could fix a Micro Machine if it broke. If, say, one of its wheels fell off, I could deal with that. If my big-boy car broke, 9.9 times out of 10, I couldn't fix that.


Because that's a macro machine. Mac. Roe.

Macro things are so much harder for me to conceptualize because, I feel, I don't have the appropriate tools in my toolbox. Actually, I'm not even sure I have the toolbox. In fact, let's be honest-- I don't have the toolbox. I just have a hammer and a wallpaper scraper and a couple of other shit tools kind of just strewn about in random places in my brain. And you can't do much on the macro level with a hammer and a wallpaper scraper and a couple of other shit tools kind of just lying about.

You certainly can't accurately grasp all of the key concepts of the current debacle revolving around the nation's debt and the geopolitical consequences that are both imminent and far-reaching should we really boehner this up.

So I retreat inward. To the world I understand. To... my kitchen.

We've got drop-ceiling in there, and God is it fuckall awful. Drop ceiling is wretched in church basement daycares and soul-violating cubicle-farms. It has no business being in houses. Residences. Places where people are supposed to enter and be moved.

Mark Twain said of his Hartford house, "We could not enter it unmoved."

When I enter our kitchen and look upward, I want to move my bowels. But I wouldn't do that, because my wife and I painstakingly laid down cork flooring all by ourselves (okay, with some help from her father) and I wouldn't dream of befouling said flooring with my arse-leavings.

But all this talk about the debt ceiling on NPR and such has really solidified the fact that this ceiling's got to go. Otherwise, there will be consequences, and consequences that I can actually understand.

Those consequences are, but are certainly not limited to:

* feeling the continued urge to move my bowels upon entering our kitchen and looking up

* feeling like I'm in the film "Office Space" when I enter our kitchen and look up, you no-talent ass-clown

* feeling the urge to cut myself, bang my head against the wall, burn myself with a cigarette, swallow a toothbrush, rub Brillo pads against my wrists, and engage in other self-destructive behaviors when I enter our kitchen and look up

* feeling the urge to prevent, at all costs, people I love and/or care for and/or respect and/or can see from entering our kitchen and looking up

* feeling the urge to smear peanut butter and deer viscera all over the drop-ceiling and unleash thirty wild brown bears clamor all over each other for the honor of being the first to eat significant portions of said drop-ceiling

* feeling the urge to invite over local clergy to exorcise the drop-ceiling

* feeling the urge to move my bowels while I blog (guess I should be doing this on my smartphone)

Just remember, kids: though the debt ceiling is important-- probably-- there are other ceilings to consider. Like mine. And that thing Michelangelo did or whatever.

I hate our ceiling. You can't come over to our house and play.


Oops, I Forgot (Yes, It's the Fucking Harry Potter Post)

Well, I really screwed the pooch. In the tushie.

I forgot to get tickets to the premiere of the final "Harry Potter" film for my wife and I.

What a dumb pooch-fucker.

I meant to-- really, I did. But then one thing led up to another or came after another. Or things just kept thinging-- I don't know. It just didn't work out, okay?

And I feel like a moron, because, come on-- it's not like this thing was any great surprise. We all knew it was coming. Just like that leathery old bastard knew the end of the world was coming. I mean, it came. Hello? Where were you? We're all dead. I'm a hologram or whatever. (Holla!) This is the afterlife.

Doesn't it blow?

So, I was thinking to myself, after flogging and otherwise chastising myself for forgetting to purchase said tickets to said major motion picture event, what is the rest of the civilized world who also forgot (or deliberately neglected to) purchase their H.P. tickets going to do instead of going to the movies at the ass-crack of dawn?

Well, for one: I'm going to auto-publish this blog post. Fuck YOU, 7:18am! That's right, my sweet little bitches, we're going for that 12:00am timeslot. So YOU can sit at home with your fingers gently tickling your taints as you read this post!

Aren't you LUCKY?!

Yes. Yes, you are.

Then, of course, you could always spend oodles and doodles of time thumbing through the My Masonic Apron archives! There's so much to read you could make yourself sick-- and probably will, checking out old favorites like the post about thrush, and the one(s) about masturbating! Or how about some of those charming, vintage "Dear Apron" columns. Did you know that I first wrote a Dear Apron column on April 22nd, 2009?

And it was almost funny!

Now, I won't pretend that My Masonic Apron is the only game in town for those of you who aren't gallivanting off to the cinema to see Rupert Grint's voice/testicles descend. There's lots of other fun things to do at midnight in America!

You could...

* engage the professional services of a transsexual, Mexican prostitute

* get arrested

* climb your neighborhood water-tower and wind up living there for an extended period of time eating nothing but Chef Boyardee meals and your own feet

* experiment with Windex and related products

* levitate

* head off to the 24-hour supermarket and do impressions of long-deceased sports announcers for the entertainment-starved 3rd shift cashiers

* take up needlepoint

* drive to the McDonald's drive-thru and order items off the Taco Bell menu

* dramatically recite the 10 Commandments from your rooftop-- better yet, from your neighbor's rooftop

* mow your lawn

* make irrational purchases-- preferably live animals and/or human internal organs-- on E-bay

* practice re-enacting the scene from "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" where Peter Sellers is on the parallel bars, dismounts and descends straight down a flight of stairs-- don't stop till you get the timing just right

* dress your pets up like French Revolutionary War participants-- take lots of pictures for Facebook!

* stage a mock-suicide, replete with fake blood, broken glass, and a heart-wrenching note-- take lots of pictures for Facebook!

* eat everything in your refrigerator. When you're done; eat everything in your basement

* read a good book-- by Karl Marx

* write a TV pilot and email it to all your ex-girlfriends

* run tissues under the faucet and then throw them against the ceiling-- I just remembered that I used to do that as a kid, and it was A HOOT!

* find someone who's sleeping and draw a Hitler mustache on them with a Sharpie-- in case your art skills are somewhat lacking, make a big swastika and write "HI, I'M HITLER" on their forehead

* be Irish or whatever

* go to sleep-- in the bed of somebody's parked pick-up truck. You never know WHERE you'll wake up!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hey, Blog Tracker, What the Fuck is Wrong With You?

Dear Blog Tracker (or,

You sick or something?

You're just not yourself lately, and I'm worried. Call this a Welfare Check. Call this a knock on your door. Call this a Hallmark get-well-soon card.

Something's wrong with you, I can tell. Normally, underneath the My Masonic Apron "Members" Section (there's 196 of you-- YEAH, RIGHT!) the little Blog Tracker icon appears showing my traffic rank. Or whatever it shows. I don't really understand it. But it's a four-digit number that ranks this site's popularity/traffic against the statistics of other blogs. (Not recently, though. For the past two weeks, there's just been an ugly little red "x" there.)

Normally, it shows me who's peekin' under the apron, and when they're doing it. And what OS they're using. And what their screen resolution is.

That part cracks me up. Do I really give a fuck that someone is using 1024x728 megafuckheads to look at this blog? Jesus Christ, I know I don't have many other things to do with my time other than worrying about such things, but come on now.

Anyway, Blog Tracker. If you're taking some kind of vacation or something, you really should have called or sent me an email to let me know. If you'd done me that solid, I might have even popped over to collect your mail or water your pets, but you just didn't seem to give two fucks about letting me know. You just high-tailed it out of here to Vegas or some shit. And I feel some kind of way about that.

Now, if you're sick, that's one thing. I understand that everybody gets under the weather, even online traffic tracking software. There are bugs in our systems and viruses and malware and all that shit. And there's syphillis, too, which ain't no joke. If you fucked some nasty-ass hooker and your balls done fell off, I understand that. I feel you. I'm with you.

Just let a brother know. N'yah mean?

Now, if you just peaced out because of something I said, you didn't feel like you wanted to be associated with this blog anymore-- maybe you were offended by the Diabetes post from long ago, or you didn't like what I had to say about Russell Brand or 8th Continent Soymilk or some other crazy shit like that, well, hey-- okay. That's okay. We can work it out, though. If you don't let me know when you're offended, if you don't let me know what you need in a non-judgemental way, how can I know it's time for me to apologize? How do I know how to resolve a conflict until I know there is a conflict to resolve?

Running away from your problems, Blog Tracker, is the coward's way out. Sure, you may choose that course of action because it's non-confrontational, and maybe confrontation makes you uncomfortable and, believe me, it's not my favorite thing in the world either, but it's that conflict that helps us to forge stronger relationships.

And that, Blog Tracker, is what I want to do with you. I want to build connections, inroads, bridges, handshakes, bearhugs, powerlunches, roto-virus, inertia-reel, dovetailed, carbonated relationships.

With you.

With you, Blog Tracker.

But I can't do that when you run from me. You're no prey, and I'm no predator. You're no fox, and I'm no overdressed, intoxicated member of the British aristocracy.

Come back.

Come back to me.

Let's.... let's mend fences.

Let's.... touch each other... quietly. In the basement. On top of the washing machine, maybe.

With the lights off.

We could, I don't know, shave each other.

You like to be shaved, don't you, Blog Tracker?


Don't speak.

It's better if we don't speak.

Just.... shhhhh..............................

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Nice Job, Mom!"

For those of you benevolent, wide-eyed folks out there who think that sexism went out of style with large lapels, microwaved meatloaf, and the Ford Granada, think again. While our great nation is, admittedly, preoccupied with discriminating against homosexuals at the moment, we're still pretty proficient at gender-bias, too.

We still love to hire the girl with the biggest tits, and we also are pretty infatuated with paying her less than we would pay a man with comparably-sized bitchtits to do the same amount of work. We still call women "dear" and "sweetie", we still have women showing us to our tables at Friday's, we still think they're unpredictable and not-to-be-crossed when they're menstruating, and we still aren't wholly convinced that they really need more than 6 weeks to appropriately bond with their infant spawn. And every good ol' boy or schoolteacher or Junior Executive Vice-President worth his salt can come up with a Dumb Blonde joke that'll knock your socks off in a heartbeat.

However, in this society, in this day and age, we're also pretty adept at discriminating against men.

Yeah. That's where this is going. Sorry if you don't like it, you dumb fucking blonde.

I had the good fortune yesterday morning to sit down to breakfast with my wife-- something we really don't get to do very much anymore due to our conflicting work schedules. I glanced over at our soy milk carton and I cocked my head and squinted my eyes. With typically tactful pre-coffee grace and aplomb, I asked,

"What the fuck is this shit?"

Nice job, Mom? You're laying on congratulatory affirmations to the moms of America for shelling out $3.49 on a carton of your fucking soy milk? That's great that you want to blow smoke up people's asses, but why does it have to be not only centered around the asses of women, but women who just happened to have reproduced?

Want to make us feel good? Okay. How about, "Nice job, You"? Or, "Way to Go, Buddy!" I would be fine with that. The mom-centered-ness, though, really bothered me. So did the accompanying paragraph:

Are you fucking kidding me? Who was this written by: Robert S. McNamara? C. Everett Koop? Calvin Coolidge? It smacks of a time when America moved around at a higher rate of speed, and in black-and-white and everybody wore hats. (Except when they were indoors, of course.) I thought we had come so far but, apparently, we're still stuck in the 1950's where dad stays home, sucking on his pipe or the babysitter's clitoris while dutiful little mother scampers off to the supermarket, piloting the Buick's massive, chrome-emblazoned steering wheel with her dainty, white gloved fingers.

The only difference is that now the milk comes from a fucking bean instead of a fucking udder.

I got to thinking about 8th Continent's view of the world, and indeed Jif Peanut Butter's (they're STILL peddling that awful "Choosy Moms Choose Jif!" slogan) and it became patently obvious to me: men should not even be permitted in supermarkets.

Let's face it-- these products are not being marketed to us, so we clearly have no business buying them. Not only that, every sitcom and commercial ever produced on the subject of a man in a supermarket would have you believe that sending a male to a supermarket is just as advisable as sending a semi-retarded panda bear to do your grocery shopping. We're always buying the wrong thing, constantly calling our wives, girlfriends, mothers, tax-law advisors for advice/spiritual guidance from our cellphones in the aisles, we're breaking things or buying things impulsively or not reading or understanding labels and we buy diet soda when we're supposed to be getting caffeine free-- I mean, let's face it: it's a fucking mess and we of the be'penised sort should all just be banned.

EXCEPT, of course, on 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Super Bowl Sunday, and World Series time. Then we're allowed in, but only to purchase grill-related items/accoutrements. And nothing else.

For every other day of the year, there ought to be Protection From Abuse orders filed by supermarket chains against men. Supermarkets should have bouncers, clad in the store's color aprons to man all the entrances and exits to prevent men from entering the market. And, in the event that a male is dispatched to the supermarket on direct order from, and as proxy for, an ailing, incapacitated, emotionally unstable and/or otherwise physically unavailable female, the male in question must present a signed note, which must be notarized by an appointed official, stating the precise reason why a female could not be present at the supermarket on this occasion, a list (written in female handwriting) detailing exactly what the man is supposed to be purchasing, as well as an envelope containing any and all coupons the man is to utilize in procurement of these aforementioned comestible items. If said male attempts any unauthorized "male behaviors" such as purchasing a foodstuffs because of the tantalizing nature of the picture on the box or any product bearing the product name "Hungry Man" or "Dinty Moore" or "Bubba Burger", he is to be immediately and forcibly removed from the premises, and his affiliated female will be notified at once.

Nice job, Mom.