Tuesday, September 2

Take THAT Vladimir Putin!

Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia will no longer be importing Western fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, or milk products. 

Okay, Vlad the Naysayer, fair enough. It’s clearly time for The West to retaliate and boycott some of those Russian foods we love so much.

First off, no more Vodka. That’s not so hard, really, since the best Vodka comes from France. That’s right, Grey Goose is French. So we are okay, there, at least until the next time The French piss us off!

Second, caviar is out! Don’t worry, though, fish egg lovers. It turns out that there are several excellent American caviars available. Wal-Mart and Costco carry a full supply, and you can order enough to last ten years or more, and for a very reasonable price.

Third, cold soup. The Russians have so many varieties it is hard to pick just one, but, really, why bother to choose. Just eliminate them all because, well, COLD SOUP!!! Need I say more?

Fourth, pirogue. It’s some kind of mystery meat wrapped in a pastry. In other word, A BURRITO! Well, we don’t need to get our meat wrapped up by Vladimir Putin. We can get good old All American Mexican Food and be just as happy.

Finally, McDonald's. McDonald's has several hundred restaurants in Russia so to be truly patriotic Americans should vow to stop eating Big Macs. 

Okay, let’s not go overboard.

Friday, August 29

Waiting for iPhone

The new iPhone is coming. 

Next month. 

Just two weeks away. 

Anybody can wait two weeks, right?

 It’s only 14 days.

 It’s just a fortnight.

 336 hours.

Not long at all.

20,160 minutes. 


Nope, not long at all.

Monday, August 25

The Last Unemployed Man In America

Lionel Krowder fired up his ancient notebook computer and waited patiently while the obsolete operating system loaded and laboriously began executing its start-up routine. Lionel took preternatural comfort in the consistent way it carried out its instructions each time he applied power. He had even grown fond of the IGNORE button in the error message window that always popped up one minute and twenty-nine seconds into the process. “Hello, Mr. Ignore.” he would sometimes mutter, clicking on it gently.

He began scanning the email subject lines which descended down the screen like a ladder to nowhere. They all contained either the words “regret”, “sorry”, or “unfortunately”. He sighed and looked out the filmy window of his third floor walk-up apartment.

No job today, he thought.


He was startled out of this trip down self pity lane by an electronic alert coming from his mobile phone.  The sound was not the usual text message beep-beep-beep that he heard once or twice a day, but rather the chimes which indicated an actual telephone call. The chimes were the default sound programmed into the device at the factory and he had never felt it worth the trouble to choose something more personal.

He touched the answer icon on the smudged screen, brought the phone to his ear, and cautiously said “Hello?”

“Mister Lionel Krowder?” The voice was formal with little inflection. Very businesslike, thought Lionel. That can't be good.

“Yes, this is Lionel Charles Krowder,” said Lionel, hoping that perhaps the formal voice had called the wrong Lionel Krowder. Perhaps they wanted Lionel Michael Krowder or Lionel Phillip Krowder or Lionel...

“Hello, Mister Krowder.” said the voice, sounding very much like Lionel Charles Krowder was exactly the Lionel Krowder to whom he wished to speak. “This is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. How are you today?”

“I'm fine, I guess. How can I help you?”

“It has come to our attention that you are still unemployed even after several years of unprecedented economic growth. Is that true?”

“Actually, I have several opportunities in the pipeline,” he lied, trying to preserve some semblance of self respect.

“According to our records your most recent set of applications have all been rejected, Mr. Krowder,” said the voice authoritatively.

“Excuse me?”

“'The position is no longer available', 'We have no openings at this time', 'Your talents do not fit the profile'. Shall I go on?”

“How did you...I haven't even...”

“You haven't even read these emails, have you Mr. Krowder?”

Lionel did his best not to sound defensive. “I usually just read the subject line. To save time.” As if he had time to save, he thought.

He tried to sit up straight, but couldn't quite maintain the stiff spine and thrown back shoulders of an optimist. Why the hell bother? he thought. It's not like anyone can see me. Then his head popped up and he looked around his room suspiciously. Or can they?

“Can I help you with something?” Lionel was getting annoyed by this interloper.

“Yes you can. We are prepared to release the latest employment statistics, and it would appear that you are the only person left who is still unemployed.”

“Don't be ridiculous. There must be lots of other people who are unemployed.”

“No one else is unemployed, Mr. Krowder.”

“What about felons? Surely felons are having a hard time finding a job.”

“A lot of people like to hire felons. Ever since Orange Is The New Black.”

“Well, I can't believe I'm the only unemployed person left. People in my age group, for example. I'm in my late forties/early fifties”.

"You are fifty-eight years old, Mr. Krowder."

"Right. Well, I bet fifty-eight-year-olds have a heck of a time finding a job."

"There is a one hundred and one year old man working in a hardware store in Poughkeepsie, New York. There is a ninety-three year old woman plowing fields on a farm near Lincoln, Nebraska. There is a one-hundred-six year old brain surgeon performing operations in Chicago, Illinois. There is a eighty-nine year old small forward playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves..."

"I still can't believe that everybody has a job but me."

“Well, we don't include those who are”, he lowered his voice in disgust, “no longer looking for work.”

“But I am looking for work. “

“Yes, we know, Mr. Krowder. That's the problem.”


“We would very much like to report the unemployment rate as zero percent, but as long as you are statistically included in the 'seeker' category, that can't happen.”

“What do you mean?”

“While you are still looking for a job the unemployment rate is 0.0000000006%.”

“That's such a small number. It's almost zero.”

“Mr. Krowder, we are the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 'Almost' is not a statistic. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. We very much want the unemployment rate to be exactly zero.”

There was a pause that extended from brief to awkward. Finally Lionel said, “So you want me to stop looking for a job?”

“That would be ideal, Mr. Krowder. As I mentioned, those who are - ,” again his voice became a repulsed whisper, “no longer looking for work - are not included in the statistics. I'm glad you concur...”

“Wait! Hold on. Maybe I still want to be looking for a job.”

“Looking for a job that is 'No longer available' Mr. Krowder?”

“Obviously not...”

“'No openings at this time'?”

“It's just a matter of...”

“'Your talents do not fit the profile'?”

“I admit it's not going to be...”

"Don't you think it's time to face the fact that there is no job for you? None. Not any."

“Well, I'm not a quitter, damn it. I'm going to keep looking for a job until I find a job.”

“That would be unwise, Mr. Krowder. Our calculations show the chances of you actually finding a job is only 0.0000000006%”.

"The same as the unemployment rate?” 


"You just said the chances of me finding a job are the same as the unemployment rate. Interesting coincidence, don't you think?"

"Let me just check those numbers again.” There was a pause and I could hear heavy breathing and the clicking of a keyboard in the background.

"Well, what do you know? It appears there's been an anomaly in our heuristics.” 

"What does that mean?"

"No matter what parameters I enter, the result is always 0.0000000006%. How about that?” He sounded bemused. 

"For crying out loud, you almost had me dropping out of the labor force because your horisits..."

"Heuristics," he corrected.

"Whatever they are, they were screwed up! This is unforgivable.”

I heard a shuffling of papers and after a moment he said, "The Bureau of Labor Statistics wishes to convey its sincerest regret if the items mentioned in this outreach interface caused you distress, Mr. Krowder, and requests that you ignore the information that was disseminated.”

"Is that supposed to be an apology?"

"Not quite. Merely a pro-forma expression of regret."

"That's it? ‘A pro-forma expression of regret’?” A sly thought wended its way into Lionel's mind. “It seems to me," he said cunningly, "that my time and trouble is worth something."

"You mean some sort of compensation?"

"Yeah, right. It seems to me that some sort of compensation is in order."

"Well, I suppose that might be a possibility."

"Good," Lionel pounced eagerly. 

"Yes, indeed. That might definitely be a possibility. In fact, the possibility of your receiving compensation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is exactly..." There was a pause as the sound of a keyboard again floated across the ether.


Friday, August 15

Political Poll

I was sitting in my living room the other afternoon enjoying a "Murder She Wrote" marathon when the phone rang. I picked it up and a very pleasant young woman asked if I would share my opinions on some of the more weighty issues of the day. I told her I'd be happy to, and began to set her straight on exactly what is wrong with the world and what should be done to correct it.

"No, no, no. You have to answer a questionnaire," she said desperately. "I have the questions right here."

"Oh. Okay. Go ahead," I said, muting a rather involved explanation of why another innocent life had been snuffed out in the rustic hamlet of Cabot Cove.

"Thank you." Her voice became more officious. "Would you describe yourself as being informed on the candidates and issues?"

"Well, I'm as informed as any voter, I suppose."

"So you are a low-information voter," she said confidently.

"Wait a minute. I'm not low-information."

"Where do you get your information?"

"I look at the Internet a lot."

"So you're a sub-information voter."

"Look, I have as much information as any citizen," I said resentfully. "I'm focused like a laser on the issues facing this country, and nothing is going to deter me from a deep, unflagging involvement in that pursuit." Take that!, I thought smugly. "So just ask your questions, and we'll see who's sub-informed!"

"All right, sir," she said, properly admonished. "On a scale of one to five, where one indicates you disagree, two indicates you somewhat disagree, three indicates you..."

"How much longer is this going to take?" I asked as I tried to read Jessica Fletcher's lips explaining to Sheriff Tupper why it was necessary for the librarian to poison the English professor.

"It should only take three or four minutes, sir, but first I have to explain the scale. On a scale of one to five, where one indicates you strongly disagree, two indicates you somewhat disagree, three indicates you..."

"'...neither agree nor disagree'. I get it. Let's go."

"...four indicates you somewhat agree," she persisted.

"...and five indicates I strongly agree. I told you I get it. Can we just get on to the damn questions?"

"Well, you don't have to be so mean," she said. I thought I heard a sniffle.

"Are you crying?" I asked. "There's no crying in political polls."

"I'm not c-c-crying."

I began to feel the slightest bit of regret, but I couldn't help going on. "Well, you sounded like you were crying," I grouched.

"You're my first call. I just hoped I'd do better."

A bolt of self-recrimination sobered me. "Look, I'm sorry. I was just , well, I was watching 'Murder She Wrote'..."

"The Marathon? Oh, I wanted to watch but, well, obviously I have to work."

Now I felt even worse. Here was a working woman, trying to make it in the world, probably never poisoned anyone, and I was giving her a hard time. "I'm really sorry. Can we just start over?"

"No. The rules say once we've had personal interaction with the subject the poll is invalidated."

"Well, for what it's worth I think you were doing a great job."

"Thank you," she said, sounding a little brighter. "Before I go I have to indicate what invalidated the poll. How would you feel if I put down you were being an uncooperative, mean spirited,..."

"...old poop?" I said helpfully.

"Well," she laughed, "I can't put that down, but what if I did? What would you think?"

I paused a moment and considered my behavior..

"Probably agree," I said.

Wednesday, July 9

Come Fly With Me

I recently had the opportunity to engage in the adventure that is air travel in early 21st century America. I hadn't flown in a while and I was eager to find out about the latest innovations.

My wife and I arrived at the airport about four and a half hours before our flight was scheduled to depart to make sure we would clear check-in and security with time to spare.

"Do you really think it's necessary to get here so early?" my wife asked patiently.

"Don't worry about that," I replied condescendingly. "By the time we clear check-in and security we'll be running to make the plane."

Clearing check-in and security took about 15 minutes.

As we sat in the waiting area my wife glanced at the departure schedule overhead which indicated our flight had been delayed and would now be leaving in six hours.

"Should we start running yet?" she inquired innocently.

After reading the books we had brought for the flight, checking and rechecking the email on our phones, and enjoying a meal purchased from the airport souvenir shop (I had beef jerky, potato chips and a candy bar; she had dried fruit, peanuts, and a disgusted look on her face) we were beginning to get a little bored. I was looking around for someone to ask what was taking so long when a young woman in a militaristic uniform approached the podium, which stood beside our boarding gate.

"We are ready to begin pre-boarding," she said over a muffled PA system.

As we began to gather our carry-on luggage I couldn't help posing this question to no one in particular: If waiting to board an airplane for six hours isn't considered "pre-boarding", what exactly is?

"Pre-boarding will begin with Loyalty Program Members only," said the young woman behind the podium.

"Are we Loyalty Program Members?" asked my wife.

"I'm not sure," I said. "I'll check."

I approached the young woman behind the podium while enduring the withering gazes of those who were certain they were Loyalty Program Members and who had already begun lining up.

"Hey, buddy. There's a line," growled one especially loyal member.

"Yes, I see," I said, not quite knowing who I was talking to. "I'm just not sure if I'm a Loyalty Program Member or not."

This produced a round of chuckles among those in the loyalty line. "How many times have you flown this year?" came a voice.

"Actually, this is my first trip."

The chuckles turned to guffaws and then to peals of laughter.

"Let me give you a clue, buddy," said the voice that had spoken first. "If you don't fly once a week, then you're not a Loyalty Program Member."

"Once a WEEK?!" I said too loudly. "You people all fly once a week?"

"At least," said another voice, nervously. "You can't miss a week. Oh, no."

"What happens if you miss a week?" I asked.

There was a universal gasp and I think one woman fainted.

"You lose your points!" said a businessman in a three piece suit, his voice cracking slightly. "All of them!"

"You don't want to lose your points," said a young woman, looking around nervously as if she were afraid of being overheard. "Once they're gone, they're gone for good."

"That sounds bad," I commiserated. "I guess you wouldn't be able to board before everyone else then."

An evangelical voice came forth. "That's not the only benefit. There's the extra leg room. And bigger seats."

"Bigger seats," murmured several of the people in line, nodding their heads.

Then an older gentleman added, "And the flight is faster in the Loyalty Program Seats."

"Don't all the seats get there at the same time?" I reasoned. "I mean, they're all on the same plane."

The entire line repeated, "The flight is faster in the Loyalty Program Seats. The flight is faster in the Loyalty Program Seats." They were looking off into the distance, but they didn't seem to be seeing anything.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the young woman behind the podium begin to raise a walkie-talkie to her lips. I thought is was best to return to my seat in the waiting area.

"Well," inquired my wife, "did you find out if we are Loyalty Program Members?"

"I don't think we are." I shuddered. "I don't think we want to be."

After a few minutes the young woman behind the podium announced that people with small children would be allowed to pre-board as well. Then several other categories of passengers with special privileges were also permitted to pre-board.

After a while I looked around an noticed that my wife and I were the only ones left in the waiting area.

After a short pause the young woman behind the podium announced urgently, "Final boarding! Final boarding! The doors will be closing in one minute."

We grabbed our carry-on and began hurrying to the gate. "I told you we'd be running," I said triumphantly. "I told you."

We sped through the boarding gate, scrambled through the tunnel, stumbled down the aisle toward the rear of the plane, and found our seats which were conveniently located next to the toilet.

After we belted ourselves in and were reasonably comfortable, I turned toward my wife who I consider my most trusted confidant and advisor. "Let me ask you something."


"Do these seats seem slow to you?"

Friday, June 20

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty


I was feeling a little down because I haven't really been getting as many views on my blog as I'd like. Then I heard an interview with a woman who had a kitten blog that was getting hundreds of readers.

I admit I was a bit resentful at first. After all here I am sweating away to produce a blog of humor and inspiration and all she is producing is crap about cats. Young adorable cats with big eyes and fur that looks so soft that you could just eat them up...who's a pretty kitty? who's a pretty kitty?...

But I digress.
After giving it a little thought it occurred to me that rather than begrudge this woman her success, I might follow her example. I might be able to get hundreds of readers too if I just wrote about kittens once in a while. It also helps, I've been told, to have a picture of some unbearably endearing neonatal felines included in the blog, so that is what the photo above is all about. Also it is good if the reader can get involved in the life story of the cats, especially if one or more are in some sort of peril.

To facilitate my narrative I've assigned names to the cats in the photo and am fabricating the fiction that they are in some way related. You know, "sisters" and "brothers" - that sort of thing.

Their noms-de-chat are, from left to right, Fluffy, Cookie, Sweetie, Brownie, and Sugarplum. Cookie and Sweetie are females; Fluffy, Brownie and Sugarplum are males.

Sugarplum had a difficult birth and is a bit sickly and there is a question of whether or not he will make it. Cookie and Sweetie are very concerned about Sugarplum, but Fluffy only cares about what the next meal will be.

Brownie is a bit of a rascal and is always getting into tight spots.

Fluffy, Cookie, Sweetie, Brownie, and Sugarplum reside with the Poorchild family who live in abject poverty. Why a financially disadvantaged family would decide to keep five cats is a mystery to me, but this plot device seems to be very common in cat literature so I am including it here.

Little Molly Poorchild, the youngest daughter, loves all the kittens but is especially fond of Sugarplum. Molly also is sickly and so identifies with the struggle Sugarplum must put forth each day just to survive.

Mr. Poorchild, who works part-time as a coal miner, has managed to scrape together enough money for the medication that may be able to help Molly. But Molly knows that Sugarplum also needs medicine. Molly knows where her father has concealed the money to pay for her prescription, and is planning to take that money and get Sugarplum the medicine that is so vital to his well being.

What will happen to Molly and Sugarplum? 

Oh, who cares. It's just cats. It's not like I'm going to lose any sleep over it.


Microsoft Word Document: Created at 2:36AM

"You did WHAT?!!!"

Molly had never seen her father so mad. Even when her brother Jacob spilled an entire bottle of milk and they had to spend a week drinking coal-water for breakfast. Even when the electric company shut off the lights. Even when the mailman brought that letter.

He had been mad those times, of course, but his face had never been this red and his eyes had never been this mean.

She was sitting across from him at the kitchen table, holding Sugarplum in the crook of her left arm. She pulled the animal a little bit closer as if to shield him from her father's wrath. "Sugarplum was sick, daddy. He needed med'cine."

"You need medicine too, Molly. You need..." His voice broke and Molly saw his shoulders sag like a dead tree weighted with snow.

After taking a moment to control himself he asked sadly, "Where's the cat medicine?"

Molly handed over the white pharmacy bag. Mr. Poorchild opened it and looked inside.

There were two bottles of medicine and a note from the pharmacist.

"The little girl gave me an envelope of money and asked for some medicine for her cat. I noticed there was a prescription in the envelope so I filled that, too. Tell her to take good care of that kitten. He's adorable."

As Mr. Poorchild examined the two containers Sugarplum wriggled free of Molly's grasp. She tried to grab him, but he darted across the table and began nuzzling one of her father's calloused and weathered hands.

"Look, Daddy! Sugarplum is giving you lovies!" giggled Molly.

"So he is," said Mr. Poorchild as Sugarplum stretched up to lick the tear that was running down his cheek. "So he is."


The elderly, wizened writer stumbled slumberously back to bed. He glanced at the angry red numerals on the digital clock that sat accusingly on the bed-table. 


As he slipped between the sheets his wife stirred and mumbled, "Blog again?"




"How'd it turn out?"

"They'll be fine."

"Molly and Sugarplum too?"


"God bless you," she yawned as she rolled over and settled next to him.

"One thing, though."

"What's that?" She was almost asleep.

"I may have spilled an entire bottle of milk."

"Well," she said, "it's coal-water for you, then."


Wednesday, June 11

Random Thoughts on Nicknames

I've always been intrigued by nicknames, particularly when a given nickname is a variation of a person's last name. This seems to be the height of sobriquet lassitude.

One example I remember from my youth is Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar, a salesman and motivational speaker who I would occasionally see when I was a child and spent a great deal of time watching television with my grandmother. "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude" is one of his sayings that I remember. At the time I was too young to know what aptitude meant, but I had been frequently reminded that my attitude needed adjusting.

That reminds me of another nickname from those days. A man named Loyd C. Sigmon worked in Los Angele radio in the 1950's. Mr. Sigmon would monitor traffic information from the California Highway Patrol and when a problem developed he would notify all the radio stations in the area. This became known as a "SigAlert" and he became known as "Sig" Sigmon. The stations would then transmit the SigAlert to their helicopter traffic reporters who would include it in their next report. 

I'm not sure what determined how high these helicopters flew in order to see the traffic patterns, but I'm sure Mr. Ziglar would have suggested it was their attitude.

I wonder if “Zig” Ziglar and “Sig” Sigmon were ever introduced at a party? 
“Zig, meet Sig."
 "Sig, say hello to Zig.”

Don't confuse this naming convention with people whose actual first names are a variation of their last names. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be an example of this, or musician Robbie Robertson. Again, I think this shows a certain lack of parental aspiration.

I have to give the parents of singer Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson credit, though. They pretty much hit the name/nickname trifecta.


There are some people whose first names and last names are the same. Sirhan Sirhan is a notorious example, but when I was studying poetry in college my buddies and I always got a chuckle out of Ford Madox Ford and William Carlos Williams. Later we found out Ford Madox Ford had changed his name from Ford Hermann Hueffer. 

That got a bigger chuckle.

Many well known people would probably benefit from a well formed nickname.

Abraham Lincoln, for example, is familiar as our 16th President. His best known nicknames are "The Great Emancipator" or "Honest Abe". But really "Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Abraham 'The Great Emancipator' Lincoln..." just sounds wordy and awkward.

"Linc" Lincoln sounds much better. With a name like that he could be an insurance salesman or car dealer.

"Come on down to 'Linc' Lincoln's Mile of Cars..."

And what about George "The Father of His Country" Washington? Descriptive, yes, but it hardly rolls off the tongue.

However "Wash" Washington? That's a name any motivational speaker could be proud of. 

"Please welcome our guest speaker at this year's Make Yourself Happen Now conference, 'Wash' Washington..." 
Vladimir "Diabolical manipulator of global crises" Putin sounds so dire and threatening. But "Poo" Putin?  He might be a third baseman. 

Or A Bear of Very Little Brain.


All this is probably a waste of valuable blog space, but I'm not the only one who has written on this subject.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

That's what "Shake" Shakespeare has to say. 

And with a cool name like that, well you just gotta believe him.


Monday, June 2

Lanky Panky

I was bringing home some donuts for breakfast the other day and had just gotten on the elevator when a well-formed hand stopped the door as it was closing. It was Kurt, the personal trainer who lives in my building. He does not have the muscular build you might expect. Instead he is tall and lanky, a little like James Stewart - if James Stewart shaved his head and wore an earring.

Having a personal trainer in the building is a little like having a doctor or tax accountant. People feel they are entitled to free advice on anything remotely related to medicine or finance or whatever the area of expertise might be. I was once in the laundry room with with a tenant/dentist who told of being peppered with questions from a woman who lived in the building. "None of the questions had to do with dentistry," he said, "but she was only too happy to show me the rash on her back and shoulders."

I find this type of behavior reprehensible and I would not have thought to bother Kurt. That would not have been neighborly. That would have been rude.

Still there was this question that had been bothering me, and I'm confident he would have been highly offended had I not sought his advice.

No question about it.

Highly offended.

"You know, Kurt, you're kind of a lanky fellow. I've always wondered what it would be like if I were lanky."

He glanced at my five foot six inch stature and the bag of donuts in my hand.

"Keep wondering", he said in his hard-to-place European accent.

I smiled genially as I pulled keys out of my pocket and promptly dropped them on the floor of the elevator. "No, really," I said as I bent over to pick them up, "there must be something I can do to become more lanky."

"Well," he said thoughtfully, "first of all you could stop grunting every time you bend over to pick something up."

"Duly noted," I said as I sorted through the keys looking for the one to my apartment door. "Actually I was hoping that maybe I could give the appearance of being lanky without actually being lanky."

He seemed intrigued by the challenge. "Well, you could try standing up a little straighter. You're all..." He struggled to find the word. "How do you say it?" he made a bending motion with his hand.

"Slouching?" I offered.

"Hunched!" he said triumphantly. "You are all hunched over. Like a deformity. Yes. Hunched."

Not wanting to appear quite so Quasimodo-ish, I tried locking my knees in place, throwing back my shoulders, and stretching my neck as much as I could.

"How's that?" I asked.

"Again with the grunting, but not bad. Now try reaching for the top of the elevator." He easily raised his hands over his head and placed his palms on the ceiling.

I straightened my arms over my head as if I were surrendering to a sheriff at high noon and flapped my hands in a vain attempt to reach the dome light overhead. I did my best not to grunt.

"Well, at least you didn't grunt," said Kurt sympathetically.

As I lowered my hands an unbidden whoosh of air released itself from my lungs.

"That's wasn't a grunt!" I protested defensively. "That was a whoosh."

"If you say so."

"Maybe lanky isn't all it's cracked up to be," I said as I straightened my shirt.

"It's a blessing and a curse," he said philosophically.

Feeling a little philosophical myself I said, "I guess you get a lot of people asking you for advice."

"No, not too many. Once in a while."

At that moment I realized I had not pushed the button for my stop. Thankfully the elevator only went one floor past mine and when the doors opened I got off, intending to take the stairs back down. There was an elderly woman standing in the hallway.

"Hold the door!" she commanded.

I grabbed the door for a moment but warned her, "It's going up."  She glanced inside and saw Kurt and said, "That's alright. I don't mind a little ride."

As the door closed and the elevator began to rise I heard her fading voice saying, "What do you know about rashes? And who is that unfortunate hunched man?"

Tuesday, May 27

Man Answers Cell Phone At Exorcism

"May I speak to Mr. Howard Farnsworth please?"

"This is he."

"Hello, Mr. Farnsworth. This is Carl with Lucifer's."


"Yes. You remember you sold your soul to us in 2007?"

"Yes, I remember."

"And have you enjoyed the untold riches and access to beautiful women you have received in exchange"

"I suppose so."

"Where are you now, Mr. Farnsworth?"


"At this moment. Where exactly are you?"

"Um, well, I'd rather not say..."

"I see. Well, let me get Lucifer then..."

"No, no. That won't be necessary.  I'm standing in front of a building..."

"That would be The Church of the Holy Sorrow in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, correct?"

"How did you know..."

"Ah, Brooklyn. It is such a lovely place. It is known as the Borough of Churches. Did you know that?"

"I might have heard..."


"Yes, yes I did know it."

"Now, according to our records you have registered for an exorcism there at Holy Sorrow scheduled for, oh, look, just two minutes from now. Why would you want to do that?"

"I don't know. I guess I just sort of wanted my soul back."

"Despite the fact that you are now part of an affiliation that is over 300 Million souls strong?"

"That many?"

"And growing every day, Mr. Farnsworth. All the cool guys are in it. Now what would make you want to leave something as popular and cool as that?"

"Um, the Power of Christ compels me?"

"Very funny, Mr. Farnsworth. I just wonder what it would take to keep you here with Lucifer's?"

"Well, I guess if there was some way I could get my soul back..."

"Hmmm. You know, if it was up to me that would be no problem, but my supervisor has some very...exacting standards. Oh, what the hell. Yes, what the Hell indeed. Let me see what I can do. Now it looks like you are on the single soul plan, is that right?"

"Well, yes. I mean I only have one immortal soul, right?"

"Mr. Farnsworth, let me tell you about our Friends and Family program..."

Monday, May 19

Aunt Gaddy

My Aunt Gaddy came to town the other weekend for a visit. Although she hails from Long Island, Gaddy has always affected a down home, common folk, rural persona. Family legend has it that as a teenager she had "spent time with" a touring country/western singer and from that point on it was all "Darn tootin'" and "Mercy me".

It happened that I was planning a small dinner party for some friends that Saturday night, and once she found out about it Gaddy insisted that she would prepare the meal. She fancies herself an excellent cook, especially when it comes to what she calls "real" food. If you spend some time discussing this with her you soon find out that anything that is not fried, salted, fatted or glazed is not "real".

Gaddy happily began pawing through the kitchen cabinets searching for ingredients.

"Where's the lard?" she asked.

"Lard?" I tried to disguise the panic in my voice. "For what?"

She didn't seem to hear me as her head was stuck deeply into the bowels of our pantry. "I need lard, pickling salt, blackstrap molasses and a deep fryer," her voice echoed ominously from inside.

"F-f-for what?" I repeated.

She pulled herself out of the pantry and looked at me with a self-satisfied smile. "Why, fried mayonnaise, of course!" she jubilated.

I tried to picture what I imagined - I admit unfairly - would be a glutenous, quivering mass. Then I thought about the effect this dish might have on my dinner guests, a group composed of vegetarians (lacto and ovo), vegans, pescatarians, macrobioticals, and one young man who refuses to reveal what he can't eat until he sees what you are serving.

I did my best to disguise my desperation. "Um I don't think we actually have any mayonnaise."

"Oh, mercy me, don't you worry about that," sympathized Gaddy.  "We can use Miracle Whip if that's all you have. It won't be quite as glutenous, but it will still quiver nicely."

"Look, Aunt Gaddy, I'm a little concerned that my friends might not have acquired the taste for fried mayonnaise."

She considered this. "I see. You know your cousin Harlen is the same way. He won't touch fried mayonnaise unless I put soured okra on top! Can you imaging?" She wrinkled her nose and thought for a moment. She stuck her head back in the panty. "Where is the soured okra?"

"No, no, no, no, no..." I was beginning to babble. "I think we'll need something else..."

A chuckle echoed from inside and her head reappeared. "Well, of course there will be something else! You can't just have fried mayonnaise for dinner."

Seeing a glimmer of hope I replied, "No. No you can't."

"Let's see? What goes with fried mayonnaise?" She said this as if there were a panoply of choices, each more delightful than the one before.

"Why don't I just order..."

"Catfish melt?" she pondered to herself. "Double stuffed gut rind?"

"Actually, Gaddy, I already promised my friends that I'd be serving Thai food."

"Thai? You mean like Thailand?"

"Yes. That's right. Thailand. You know, Asia."

"Oh, of course. Thai."

"Exactly. So I thought I'd just order from a restaurant..."

"Isaan, Central, or Southern?"


"Isaan, I think. How does Grilled Pork Neck sound?"

"It sounds disgusting..."

"Pickled blue crab," she mused, "with fermented fish sauce..." 

"Wait, Gaddy..."

"I know!  Grilled chicken livers with..."


"...tamarind dipping sauce...Why, what in tarnation is wrong, darlin'?"

I tried to compose myself. I gently put my hand on her shoulder and leaned into the pantry. "Sakes alive," I drawled, "where did I put that lard?"

Saturday, May 10

Putin Signs Law Forcing Popular Bloggers To Register

Embassy of the Russian Federation
Washington, DC
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

I am writing to inform you that I wish to register my blog, The JD Times, in compliance with recently passed legislation. As an important and influential source of humor and inspiration I have determined that my blog falls within the purview of this law, since it is a significant global media outlet of vital information.

Please register my blog as soon as you can because, honestly, it is really popular, well read, and a beloved source of information to several people.

It is  not nearly the colossal waste of time you may have heard it is.

Yours truly,

The JD Times.
New York, NY

Thank you for contacting The Embassy of the Russian Federation, Customer Service. We are in receipt of your communication and a Customer Care Representative will respond to your inquiry.


The Embassy of the Russian Federation
Customer Support 


Embassy of the Russian Federation
Washington, DC
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

I'm afraid there has been a misunderstanding. I don't have a problem with customer care. I just want to register my important, hugely popular, highly entertaining blog because it it a profound source of information to many, many people.

JD Times.
New York, NY

Thank you for contacting The Embassy of the Russian Federation, Customer Service. We are in receipt of your communication and we note that that you "have a problem with customer care". A Customer Care Problem Resolution Officer will be contacting you shortly.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation
Customer Care Resolution Division 


Embassy of the Russian Federation
Washington, DC
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

Can't you get it through your thick skulls that I don't have a customer care problem and don't need a Customer Care Problem Resolution Officer! I just want to register my stupid blog! 

JD Times
New York, NY

Thank you for contacting The Embassy of the Russian Federation, Customer Service. We are in receipt of your communication and we note that you "don't need a Customer Care Problem Resolution Officer" in relation to the problem with your skull. Therefore we will be forced to escalate this issue to a higher level. 

The Embassy of the Russian Federation
Customer Care Enforcement Division 


Embassy of the Russian Federation
Washington, DC
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

Oh, just forget the whole thing. I don't want your dumb Federation looking at my blog, anyway.

JD Times
New York, NY

Thank you for contacting The Embassy of the Russian Federation, Customer Service. We are in receipt of your communication and we note your demand to cease "looking at my blog". Despite your pitiful attempts to avoid the No Blogger Left Behind Act, you have been registered and will be monitored by The Glorious People's Ministry of Literary Appraisal The Blogger Safety Board to insure that nothing you write, post, or think is of any danger to you or anyone you know, have ever known, or ever will know.

This monitoring will take effect as soon as the audience for your blog reaches three thousand readers.  

The Embassy of the Russian Federation
Customer Care Enforcement Division 


Embassy of the Russian Federation
Washington, DC
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

I am in receipt of your most recent missive and, in fact, am reading it now.  First of all let me apologize for my previous outburst. I was having a bad...Three THOUSAND readers?!!

What am I, a Kardashian?

Just forget the whole thing.

JD Times.
New York, NY


Editorial Offices of The JD Times
New York, NY
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

Thank you for contacting The Embassy of the Russian Federation, Customer Service. We are in receipt of your communication and we note your request to "forget the whole thing" regarding the registration of your blog. Unfortunately, this is not possible. We  are Russian. We never forget anything.

In fact an operative representative will be meeting you and your Kardashian friends soon. 

Very soon.

The Russian Embassy
Washington, DC
Scheduling Division

Embassy of the Russian Federation
Washington, DC
Attn: Blog Registration Division
Dear Sirs,

Thank you for contacting The JD Times, Customer Service. We are in receipt of your communication and a customer service representative will respond to your inquiry as soon as the audience for your inquiry reaches three thousand readers.


The JD Times
Whereabouts Unknown