November 23, 2012


     While working for the Provincial Picayune Gazette and still laboring under the delusion that reporting was what I was meant to do with my life, I was sentenced to the cruel and unusual punishment of submitting a daily story about a flyspeck of a town called Deep River – a settlement about as full of hot news stories as a rain barrel.  So, to those of you interested in a career as a small town news reporter, here is Lesson #1.  Pay attention.  It’s about all you’ll be able to pay with the salary you’ll be earning.

     Lesson #1 – Salacious Rumors, assorted Lies, and Miscellaneous Gossip
Somewhere along the line, those inevitable lean days for news will sneak up on you (or, in my case, will lie in wait and ambush you, day after day).  Nothing is happening, town officials are taking five-hour lunches, and everybody else is on vacation.  The ever-present five o’clock deadline is looming closer by the minute, and there is only one thing left to do.
Make something up.
Oh, don’t look so shocked.  It’s very simple, it’s done all the time, and it makes terrific copy.  All you have to do is think up a nasty rumor about a town official, then call that official, repeat your newly-born rumor, and ask for verification.
Here’s a short example:
Reporter:  Mrs. Swane, is it true that, as First Selectman, you’ve been dipping into the town General Fund for personal use?
FS (First Selectman):  Absolutely not!  That’s a vicious lie!
Reporter:  My sources tell me that you’re building a castle out in Winthrop, complete with a moat.  Isn’t that quite expensive considering the salary you’re paid?
FS:  It’s beyond my comprehension how these rumors get started.  I am not, I repeat, not building a castle!
Reporter:  Exactly what are you building, then?
FS:  (quickly)  It’s just a replica of the Taj Mahal.  And it doesn’t have a moat, just a small reflecting pool out front.
Reporter:  But it is filled with alligators . . .
FS:  Well, yes, but they ate the Second Selectman last week, so they’re pretty docile at the moment.  They do get testy when they’re hungry, though.
Reporter:  Don’t you think “testy” is an awfully mild term to describe killer reptiles?
FS:  I don’t understand why everyone is so down on my alligators!  I need protection out there in the woods.
Reporter:  Mrs. Swane, I’ve seen your home and I’d hardly call it “woodsy.”
FS:  Well, it does have trees all around . . .
Reporter:  There are only two trees on your entire lot!
FS:  But there are lots of bushes!
Reporter:  That’s true.  With all those shrubs to hide behind, you’re just asking for a pygmy attack.
FS:  Well, my husband died last year, and I do need the security.
Reporter:  Don’t the jackals take care of that?
FS:  Oh, you’ve seen the jackals, have you?
Reporter:  Yes, but they saw me first.
FS:  Oh, my!  Are you all right?
Reporter:  Sure.  I’ll be out of the hospital in another month, and then they tell me that I shouldn’t have any trouble learning to walk again, with my new artificial leg.  Now, to get back to this General Fund thing . . .
FS:  I told you already . . . it’s ridiculous!
Reporter:  Then perhaps you could tell me why the town is running on a $200,000 deficit, with a safe deposit box full of IOUs signed, “A Friend.”
FS:  I don’t know anything about those IOUs!  However, the deficit can be laid at the feet of the town sanitation crew.  The cost of garbage collection has simply skyrocketed this year!
Reporter:  But the townspeople pay for garbage pickup.
FS:  Oh, yes.  That’s right.  Well, upkeep on the truck is very costly.
Reporter:  $200,000 worth?
FS:  Well, we had to replace a tire.
Reporter:  Where did you buy it?  Fort Knox?
FS:  No, but it was handmade in Akron, Ohio.  Labor isn’t cheap, you know.  As I always say, you get what you pay for.
Reporter:  Well, that just goes to show you why you’re where you are and I’m where I am.  I would have done something silly, like take it to an ordinary service station and have a regular tire put on.
FS:  I guess I can’t really expect you to understand the inner workings of town government, since you’re just a reporter.  Well, I’m sorry, but I’ll have to hang up now.  It’s time to feed my piranhas, and I just got some meat out of the freezer . . .
Reporter:  Wait, wait!  I wanted to ask you about the disappearance of the Third Selectman!



November 9, 2012


Having become well and truly sick of the stupid questions that circulate on the Internet, passed along by people who regard them as “thought provoking,” I have taken the liberty of answering them in hopes that they will finally be laid to rest.  No, no, don’t thank me—it is my pleasure.

Can you cry under water?
Unless you are the Creature from the Black Lagoon or Jacques Cousteau, why would you want to?  And who cares, anyway?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated, instead of just murdered?

Rock and Roll legend on up.  Nobody will ever assassinate your first grade teacher, the mailman, or the guy who does your dry cleaning—though we all wish someone would.

Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were
buried in for eternity?

I think people should worry less about clothes and more about how to get to heaven in the first damned place!

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

To prove that the whole “round hole in a square peg” debate is completely specious.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Being delicious

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Because it’s much easier to get a man to the moon than it is to try and figure out how to rapidly navigate O’Hare.

Why is it that people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up every two hours?

Insomniacs say it all the time.

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Because if you said, “In TV” to sounds too much like “MTV” and creates a great deal of confusion and screaming.

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

They want to choose who to spit on.

Why do doctors leave the room while you change?  They're going to see you naked anyway...

They have to leave so that they can think about something terribly depressing in order to keep a straight face when they DO see you naked.

Why is 'bra' singular and 'panties' plural?

Who the hell knows?  Just get dressed, already!

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

There is a race in BoraBora that eats burned toast exclusively—you racist, you!

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

If the song is so stupid, why do you know it by heart?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

They are both cartoons, numb nuts!

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

Dirty diapers.

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?


Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

That was your idea, not mine.

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

The dog just likes to get his own air.  I’d be pissed off someone blew sausage and garlic breath at me, too!

Why, Why, Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dying?

I don’t do this—I change the batteries.  Is this something you do?  I think I have a phone number you can call…

Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is not enough money?

Why trust someone with your money whose job title is “broker”?  How do I know?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Because everyone lies about wet paint.

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

To avoid a guilty conscience.

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Because Jane doesn’t like them.

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Because the bullet proof vest isn’t on his head.

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Keeps the mess to a minimum.

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

We didn’t evolve from apes.  If the present condition of humanity is any indication, we evolved from Dodo birds—and there are none of those left.

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is this all you have to think about?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Yes.  The Saturday I go to buy one.

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

That’s not why they go.  They’re just checking to see if they are hungry enough yet to eat the food that they can’t identify in the Tupperware container in the door.
Why do people keep running over a thread a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

I don’t.  I have a vacuum cleaner that actually works.

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

Try turning it around.

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

Invasion techniques learned from the Moussad.

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

This happened to me just recently—I was attempting to catch a friend of mine after he’d had a snoot full and was dancing on said table.  I caught him, but managed to knock his partner to the floor.

In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

Because we’re idiots with short memories.

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

Turn up your hearing aid.

The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.
My three best friends are completely insane, as am I.

November 2, 2012


I cleaned out my attic this past summer.
Now, this is not a pursuit to embark upon in the hotter-than-hell-melt-your-eyeballs weather that we had been having, but after months of working up to it, the appointed weekend had finally arrived and I didn’t want to put it off, yet again, for fear of getting hit by a truck in the interim.  Though I always wear clean underwear in preparation for such a twist of fate, and also to avoid causing my mother embarrassment, I wasn’t particularly enamored of the idea that people would be tramping through that untidy space to divvy up my earthly belongings, and probably taking about what a disgusting housekeeper I was.  Even though I would be dead at that point, I had no desire to add insult to injury.  God only knew what was up there.  I hadn’t seen any of that stuff for ten years or more, and spent a good part of my life, up until that weekend, desperately trying to forget that I even had an attic.
I awoke on Saturday to birdsong.  Well, birdcroak would be more accurate.  It was 112 degrees out with 90% humidity and not an air conditioner in sight.  I got up and jumped into the shower, as much to soak off the sheet that had bonded to my body like epoxy, as to get clean.
After I sweated myself into shorts and a tee shirt, choked down six or seven cups of iced coffee, and made 12 trips to the bathroom, I ventured upward.
Upon opening the door, I was assailed by a mustiness that was almost palpable.  Plus, multi-generations of spiders had obviously been working their little spinnerets to the bone to add that certain, je ne sais quoi, Bram Stoker touch to the d├ęcor.  I didn’t know whether to clean it or set up a photo shoot with “Better Dungeons and Gardens.”
Sighing, I took a broom to the cobwebs.  After a scant hour, they were down . . . and stuck all over my sweaty body.  At that point, I bore a striking resemblance to cotton candy . . . with feet.  
Next, dusting.  After ten minutes of that, the room resembled the aftermath of afternoon tea with the Tasmanian Devil.  Mexico City had cleaner air!  And now, on top of my cobweb body suit, I was covered with so much black dust that I got the unexplainable urge to drop to one knee and sing “Mammy.”  I idly wondered, if I got my period just then, would I have minstrel cramps?
After three more hours of dusting and another two of coughing, I unearthed nearly two hundred boxes, in which were stored such essentials as:
Corroded flashlight batteries
Broken transistor radio
Old . . . really old . . . dog food
Clothing I wore in elementary school
A box of stones . . . just plain old stones
An album full of photos of people I had never seen before in my life
A Brontosaurus skull
Bell bottoms
Johnny Mathis albums
A case of SlimFast shakes that had exploded years ago
An empty hope chest (neither I nor my chest ever had much hope)
A flat tire
Three decks of 50, 51 and 49 cards respectively
A ukulele
A portrait of Elvis on black velvet
A rug with cigarette burns
A pile of sticks (I guess they were meant to go with the stones, in case I wanted to break some bones)
A full-size Liechtenstein flag
A concrete gargoyle with a missing nose.
There was much more, but I was too afraid to explore any further, so I solved my problem in the most efficient way possible.
I tossed in a match, closed the door, and called the fire department.
At least now I have a good excuse for the mess.