The Art of the Close

A couple of weeks ago the clutch went on my car and I came to the difficult decision to put my old, faithful friend of the last 147,000 miles on the market and get what I could for her, rather than put in the $1500-$2000 it would take to get the car back into working order.

I began my car search with a somewhat bittersweet, reluctant excitement. At once sad to say goodbye to that old, familiar . . . thing . . . but more than a thing, really, as a car becomes an extension of one’s home, of one’s private space . . . of one’s safe man-cave into which all who wish to enter need to know the secret handshake . . . and happy to find what new and exciting mix of technology and machinery lay ahead for me.

There is a Toyota dealership close to my home, so I took a stroll onto the lot and immediately was taken by the Scion Tc, a car and brand that is made by Toyota. Of course, long before I had the time to exit my car and walk up to the sporty coupe, a car salesman, we shall call him, Mr. Felix Morone, was kind enough to make my acquaintance and welcome me to the lot.

Felix and I went for a test drive, during which I expressed my interest in the car, going on further to detail my preference for a black car with manual transmission, rather than the baby blue car with automatic transmission that we were driving. We returned to the lot, and Felix came back after stepping inside to check with the manager regarding what colors and transmissions the dealership had in stock. As it turned out, they had no manual transmissions and nothing in black.

“So,” he said, after revealing the information, “you’ll take this one.?!”

Declarative, question, exclamation, I really wasn’t sure.

“Felix,” I said. “After driving that car, I would actually consider buying a car with automatic transmission, but I don’t like that baby blue color. I really like black.”

“Well,” he said, “we don’t have any black ones.”

“Yes, I am aware of that. They do make them in black, though. Perhaps you could get one?”

“Why do you want a black car anyway?”

“Well, because that’s the color I like, I suppose.”

“But black cars get so dirty. Look at this blue one here, you hardly ever need to wash it.”

“Yeah, but I don’t like that color. It’s all speckly and weird.”

“Do you plan to stay in Florida?” he queried.

“For the near term, I suppose, there are no immediate plans to leave, at least.”

“Well then!” Mr. Marone exclaimed (this time I knew – it was definitely an exclamation). “You can’t get a black car. Black cars are two degrees hotter inside. You’ll die in the summer!”

While admittedly marveling at the car interior heat index wisdom Mr. Marone was spewing forth, I felt an irresistible urge to say something, and so I did. It went something like this: “Felix, there is no way I am buying that baby blue car,” as I pointed. “I puke on that car. Good day, Sir.”

Mr. Marone chased me to my car, pleading with me to stay as he suddenly came to the realization that he might be able to get that black car afterall, asking me to just come inside and sit down, telling me that he thought black was was indeed beautiful . . .

I did not and never will buy a car from Mr. Marone. For he and those like him are the reason for Rule #1 of my auto purchasing pamphlet. . . never buy a car from a someone who doesn’t listen (readers of this blog may download, for a limited time, a complimentary copy of my complete Car Buying Pamphlet here).

Rule #2 of my pamphlet goes like this: Never buy anything from someone who lies to you. Rule #3? Never buy anything from someone who wastes your time. I met some of the people who are the reasons for these two rules in the second dealership I entered. The primary suspect is someone we shall call, Ms. Dangerous Liaison.

Ms. Liaison and I made a deal on a Honda Civic Coupe EX (with automatic transmission, thanks to my test drive with Mr. Felix Marone). I was happy with the deal. I told Dangerous that I loved the deal, and I would just need to go home, give it all some final thought, and then return the next day to sign the contract and buy the car. Dangerous really, really , really, really didn’t want me to leave, but I assured her that, barring an asteroid strike, chances were somewhat excellent that I would return the next day.

For all those who think God doesn’t know how to be God, I propose that God is in fact a giving God, for there were no asteroid strikes and I was able to return to the dealership the next day to purchase my Civic Coupe LX.

It was about 11:00 a.m. when I entered the dealership and Dangerous was very happy to see me. However, she was with another client, so she had me take a seat at her office cubicle. I glanced to my right to see a middle-aged woman seated in the next cubicle over, on the client side, looking somewhat worn and dejected. She slouched slightly in her chair and seeing that she, visibly, did not feel good about her deal made me, visibly, feel even better about my deal. I smiled.

Selfish of me, to feel such a thing, in the face of someone else’s misery? Perhaps. But hey, God had spared me from the asteroids so that I could buy my new car from Dangerous Liaison. Today was my day. I was the Chosen One.

So after Ms. Liaison returned and departed several more times, saying how busy the finance guys were and leaving me seated for about thirty minutes, I finally suggested, upon her fourth re-arrival, that I leave and come back in an hour or so. This would give the finance guys time to catch up with whatever they were doing, so that by the time I got back they could have the contract prepared, I could sign it, and then I could drive away with my new car and we would all be happy.

Telling Ms. Liaison that I was leaving swiftly threw her into, well, something I perceived to be akin to convulsions, and something I also imagined to be of the Grand Mal sort, though I am admittedly not an expert, as she begged and pleaded for me to just sit and wait, don’t leave, why would you leave, why would you ever even consider leaving???

“Well, because I have things to do. Why should I waste my time sitting here? I’m coming back, I’m buying the car, so why are you, like, going nuts?”

Finally, I convinced her that I would be back, and I returned at the appointed time, which was a little over an hour later. Once again I was directed to Ms. Liaison’s cubicle (looking to the right, I noticed that the middle-aged woman had sunk about another 18 inches down into her chair and some foamy drool had made its way out of her mouth to run down her face and drip from her chin) and, to make a long story short, after about 20 minutes I learned that the finance guys were still “working with the bank.” All bank details, including payment, were supposed to have been pre-determined the day prior when they ran my credit report, took my income information, etc., yet, here we were, now close to three hours into my second day at the dealership, and they decided to let me know that the deal we made yesterday was, at best, hopelessly tentative.

Obviously, I freaked out, told Ms. Liaison and the finance guy, a Mr. Johnny Wardrobe, to give me a call when they had a payment exactly equal to the one we had agreed upon, and left the dealership (walking like Frankenstein’s monster as Ms. Liaison clung to my right ankle and Johnny Wardrobe clung to my left). As I started driving away, I heard JW screaming as he chased after me, “Sixteen dollars!! I can get your payment down to just 16 dollars more than we came up with yesterday!!”

Idiots? Yes. If they had just given me that number the day prior, I would have happily agreed to it. But they couldn’t control their hard-wired impulse to make an honest deal shady, leaving me no choice but to leave them, following the edicts of Rules #2 and #3.

How do they ever manage to put a deal together? Look to the drooling lady.

So, exhausted and traumatized, and thinking now that God may not know how to be God afterall, as an imminent asteroid arrival was seeming now to be quite possibly not the most disastrous of all conceivable outcomes, I took some time off from the search and found myself, a few days later, on the Nissan lot speaking with a salesperson who shall presently and at all times in the future be referred to as Mr. Ernesto Diaz.

I had seen a car and price advertised on the Web and I asked Mr. Diaz to show me that specific car. It took some doing to get the message through, as English was not Mr. Diaz’s native tongue. In fact, he barely spoke a word of English, so I resorted to using a lot of hand signals and air drawings.

On the test drive, I asked Mr. Diaz several questions regarding the car and he simply nodded each time, saying, “Jes, jes, oh, jes.” Feeling that Mr. Diaz had given me all the information that I needed to make an informed decision, I lit a piece of paper on fire and fashioned of the smoke some symbols that I believed would convey the message that I wanted to buy the car. Apparently, Mr. Diaz had studied the same American Indian Smoke Signal Interpretation book that I had, no doubt translated into espaƱol, as, before I knew it, Mr. Diaz and I were seated across from each other in his cubicle.

He wrote down some numbers on a piece of paper and pushed the paper across his desk to me. I looked at him hard, heard a rattler doing that thing with its tail in the background, followed by the sound of a whip cracking, and then I crossed out the number, wrote down my own, and pushed the paper back across the desk towards him. We performed this exchange several times until, at long last, we sealed the deal with a universally accepted nod of the head, followed by a handshake.

So, who did I finally buy my new car from? A salesman who barely spoke a word of English. A salesman, therefore, who was exempted from rule #1 because he couldn’t listen to me even if he had wanted to since he didn't understand what I was saying, couldn’t break rule #2 because he didn’t know enough words in English to string together a lie, and was unable to break Rule #3 due to his inability to break Rules #1 and #2. Luckily, I barely speak a word of Spanish, Ernesto’s native tongue, save some kitchen Spanish that I’ve learned through the years from working in the place where writers go to get their money (you didn’t think we got it from writing, did you?), restaurants.

Kitchen Spanish is generally not appreciated in polite company. As is not, judging from my recent car buying experiences, an equally offensive vernacular: Car Salesperson English.

Gracias, Ernesto, for not being able to employ the latter, and de nada, for my not showing you my knowledge of the former. (This is not to say, however, that I exclude the possibility of stopping back in at some point to the other dealerships in town to wow them with my Central American Kitchen Speak prowess.)



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Check out Social Work Degrees Online.

This post first appeared at The Parody Files

Can you DIGG it?

Huge Words, by Huge People. Today's Theme: Tall Tales

Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. Everyone knows you need to be drunk for at least seven nights, and seven days, to come up with a good theory.

~ Me. And Isaac Asimov

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. Especially if you live on an island off Costa Rica, where some eccentric billionaire has extracted dinosaur blood from an amber-preserved mosquito, etc.

~ Me. And Robert Frost

A book is so much a part of oneself that in delivering it to the public one feels as if one were pushing one’s own child out into the traffic. Go now, little Johnny, our word of the day is ‘agility’.

~ Me. And Quentin Bell

If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having. Being a millionaire, not having a stupid job.

~ Me. And Henry Miller


Can you Digg it?

The Healing Power of Spam

They say that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. And so I say: Countrymen, send me your spam!

Most people get annoyed by spam. Google, MSN and AOL have spent tremendous amounts of resources developing technology that can detect spam messages and route them away from your primary inbox. As for me, I have used Gmail’s “Create a Filter” function to do the reverse: I route all spam messages to my inbox and all non-spam messages to my spam folder.

That’s right, I don’t read the real emails. I just read the spam. Real emails from real people are really depressing. Spam, on the other hand, is magnificent.

Witness the revolution in thinking . . . below is a real email I received today. Normally, I would not have ever read this email, but I dug it out of my spam folder for illustration purposes. It’s from my boss:

Hey Liam, did you get that Crabpull Project done yet? I mean, just checking, no biggie if you didn’t because you probably don’t need this job anyway, right? You are here today, aren’t you? I need it by 3 p.m.. If you bring it at 3:01, you’re fired.

Ughh, who the hell wants to read crap like that? K, I’ll get right on that Big Boss Man . . .LOL, yeah right! Crabpull? WTF is that? Well, luckily I didn’t by chance happen to bring it by, whatever the hell it is he was talking about, at 3:01 . . . that would have been bad! ROFL!! BTW, we call him ‘Dr. Donkey’.

Now, contrast that with this “spam” email that I read instead, which I have summed up for you below:

Mr. Dom May, a Diplomatic Agent, contacted me regarding my inheritance. Mr. May informed me that he is at JFK international airport, “in the United States of America”, and that he will deliver to me my funds of $7.5 million US as soon as I verify my name (LJL), address (1401 Space of Cyber Blvd., Parody Files, Internet), telephone number (I have 3 telephones, Mr. May), age (late 20th - early 21st century) and occupation (wayward vagabond). I have forwarded Mr. May this information and I am awaiting his arrival at my domicile with the inheritance.

Uh-duh. I’ll take that one any day. No-brainer. Are you with me yet?

For those who are not, here is another illustration. I think this email is from last week but I’m not sure because I’ve been sleeping on the bus (there is STILL some beer left in the kegs!) since NF’s bachelor party last Friday. The email appears to have been from my wife:

Hi Honey, it’s me, pooh-bear :) got a call from Alice, you’re going to need to pick up Little Johnny today at three because I have to go to the mall to help Alice pick out her Friday night dress. Thanks honey, you are such a sweetie pie ;) Oh, and don’t forget Jessica and Little Johnny’s swim meet tomorrow – you’ll have to get them up around 5 to make it to the meet on time . . . bet you forgot and thought you’d be sleeping in this Saturday!! I know it’s Nuttiest Friend’s bachelor party tonight, and you all rented a bus to go into the city and you’ve been looking forward to it for months, but you know that I can’t get up at that hour to take them to the meet because I have to be well rested for Olivia’s luncheon. :( It’s very important. Tks babe. K, gotta run, call u later. Kisses, PB

Hmmm . . . something about Winnie the Pooh, I gather. Good thing I lost my cell phone at that strip club last Friday because I’m thinking now that there may be a couple of messages on it which, if they had come via email, would have been sent directly to my spam folder. Ho-hum stuff, straight outta the bored room . . . like, what is my name, Liama, I want to hear about this crap – malls and swimming pools and getting up early?? You lost me at hello.

Thankfully, I did not read that email and I instead read another regarding the fortunate place that My Maker has reserved for me in society, summarized below.

Mr. David Uzoigwe, Director of the IMF World Regulatory Office, Inter-Continental Debt Reconciliation Department, has informed me that at today’s meeting they ruled in my favor and therefore (obviously) are now ready to release the $15.5 million US to me as soon as they receive my Western Union transfer to Mr. David Uzoigwe (Yes, the very same: Director of the IMF World Regulatory Office, Inter-Continental Debt Reconciliation Department) in Lagos, Nigeria, for $75. I have sent word to Mr. Uzoigwe that I am a bit short on the $75 so to please just go to Western Union and send himself the $75 to release the funds, then, before he sends the $15.5 million US to me, he can take out 75 bucks for himself. I even told him that, if the IMF World Regulatory Office had not given him his annual COLA this year, he should feel free to take out a few extra c-notes for his troubles.

Ahh, isn’t that so much more refreshing? I mean, can you believe my good fortune? Thank you so much, tiny, infant Jesus.

In spam there is hope. And in hope there is healing. Walk with me, my children, and read with me your spam: Together, we shall overcome.

Hey now, what am I going to buy with all this $$US? Let's take a look at the inbox: Viagra pills 4 big sexy u like only $1.37 . . .


This post first appeared at The Parody Files

Can You Digg It?

Huge Words, by Huge People. Today's Themes: Charity and Determination

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. Especially when we have just eaten a couple of chili cheese corn dogs at the hoedown.

~ Me. And Ralph Waldo Emerson

Speak softly and carry a big stick. This way, in order for them to hear you, they will have to come close. That’s when you hit them with the stick.

~ Me. And Theodore Roosevelt

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing. Yes, Junior, it is even more important than pizza. Yes, and the remote control.

~ Me. And Thomas Jefferson

Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid. And if the kid down the street insists upon giving you money every day in exchange for the crystal meth that you so selflessly give to him with the intention of not getting paid, well then, it would be selfish of you not to accept the money, so this still counts.

~ Me. And Albert Schweitzer

You start out giving your hat, then you give your coat, then your shirt, then your skin and finally your soul. Next thing you know, you’ve made it through the doors of a trendy L.A. nightclub.

~ Me. And Charles de Gaulle.


Can You Digg It?

This post first appeared at The Parody Files

Oil May Bring Windfall to Gulf State Residents (After Wind Brings Oil to Gulf States)

Pessimists are saying that oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico is a bad thing. Others are learning that their glasses may actually soon be half full . . . of oil.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting a very busy hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin, an area that includes the Gulf of Mexico. Fifteen named tropical storms, of which four are expected to be Categories 3, 4 or 5 major hurricanes, are expected to hit the region.

In any other year, this would be an ominous prediction -- but combine it with the 4 million gallons of oil that have already found their way into the Gulf of Mexico plus the 200,000 gallons a day that are being added to the mix, and we should have, by the time that first major hurricane hits in July or August, what 43 would have called, “A Gusher!”

What are these hurricanes going to do? What BP has proven itself incapable of doing: The hurricanes are going to bring the oil out of the water, where it is doing all kinds of bad stuff -- like destroying fragile ecosystems such as the marshlands of Louisiana and the barrier islands of the Panhandle, wreaking untold havoc upon fish, shorebirds, and other wildlife, and causing billions of dollars in losses to the fishing and tourism industries of the Gulf States– and bring it onto the land, where we can put it to good use.

Left-leaning politicians are encouraging Gulf State residents to empty their pools so that they can fill them with the coming oil. “Residents of these states should prepare themselves with plenty of squeegees, sponges, mops and buckets,” said one official. “When those hurricanes begin to hit and that wind brings the oil ashore, it’s going to be all over the place. Residents will need to be prepared to clean the oil from the outsides of their houses, their cars, the streets, the trees – everywhere – and transport it back to a safe and secure storage area, such as their swimming pools, for future use.”

Florida Governor Charlie Christ (R), who recently announced that he will run as an Independent in the race for the Florida U.S. Senate seat, has pledged to back a growing effort to change the state’s nickname in anticipation of the coming oil. “I fully support the effort to change the State of Florida’s nickname to ‘The Slippy Slide State,’” Christ said in a recent interview. “And I envision a new theme park, as well.”

Analysts are predicting a major drop in gasoline demand for the area states, and some are even going so far as to forecast pocketed areas where gasoline will be selling for as little as 50 cents per gallon.

“Why will they come here anymore – for a five dollar jar of peanut butter?” cried one gas station owner. “They will just go outside in the morning, wipe the oil off their windshields with an old rag, and then wring it out into their gas tanks.”

While some, such as the A&E Network with its documentary that is currently in production, “The Day It Rained Oil,” are celebrating the oil reaching the hands of the people without any intermediaries, others are not so pleased with this turn of events.

“Anyone who uses free oil that they get from mopping their lanais or by any other means should be treated as a communist,” said one oil executive who wished to remain anonymous. “And not one of those communists who buys all of our bonds, T-bills and Treasury notes and uses lots of oil, like the Chinese. I’m talking about one of those communists who we don’t need for anything, like Castro.”

“We, as an industry,” added another executive, “have paid untold billions of dollars over the decades to figure out the most efficient way to pump that oil out of the earth and spill it into the Gulf of Mexico. If people think they are just going to steal our oil from their own rooftops, their children’s bicycles, and the fur of their pets after a big hurricane comes through and dumps it all over their neighborhoods, they’re in for a battle. We already have a proposal on its way to Congress to ensure that residents will return any oil retrieved from their properties to one of the Oil Reclamation Centers that we will set up across the Gulf States. Our proposal includes a $100 per month fee to the oil industry from each resident of the Gulf States to help cover our costs for setting up the Reclamation Centers, and a $1000 fine to any resident who unlawfully uses any of our oil that somehow finds its way onto their properties or into their communities. We think this is fair.”

One Alabama resident sees the events as serendipitous. “We should just release all oil directly into the Gulf,” he suggested, “and then get giant fans to blow it ashore year 'round. Then you know there’s always oil, whenever you need it, just outside your door.”

Perhaps the McCain/Palin ticket was for the little guy after all?

Drill, baby, drill . . .


This post first appeared at The Parody Files

Can You Digg It?

Future Applications of TV Ears

I was over at my parent's house yesterday and I noticed a strange-looking item on one of their end tables. It looked something like this:

"Interesting," I said. "What's that thing?"

"Those are our TV Ears," they said.

"Oh," I said, wondering if I was actually dreaming and this was my visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future: Next stop on the Mortality and Mockery Tour, a grave site with "Your Name Here" chiseled in the granite of the tombstone, complete with overhanging yew branch so that birds may crap on you for eternity.

"Now we can hear the TV," they continued, waking me from my Dickensian slumber.

"Oh," I said. "That's terrific."

Before the TV Ears, my parents explained, they looked like this when they watched TV:

With the TV Ears, they look more like this:

Imagine, I wondered, imagine if we could take this technology to the next level and apply it to all kinds of situations in which a person does not hear something or someone. The possibilities would be endless.

For instance, how many times have you gotten into an argument with your significant other over you saying something that he or she later claimed they never heard. ("You said you wanted a monogamous marriage? Oh, I would have remembered such a thing, I am sure" -- how many times have you gotten that one? If I had a nickel . . . )

Well, what if we were to solve this age-old communication problem by developing Boyfriend Ears, Girlfriend Ears, Husband Ears and Wife Ears.

Another novel idea: How about having a God who actually heard our prayers? Wouldn't that be something. I'll bet more people would be willing to believe in such a God, one who wore My Humble Childrens of the World Ears.

And how many times have you sat alone, in your bathroom, late at night, looking in the mirror, blood trickling down from the nicks in your scalp caused by the straight-edge razor that you just shaved your head with, saying, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?" and wondering just exactly what, where and when your enemies were plotting against you?

Wonder no more, kindred spirit. I present to you the Arch Nemesis Ears.

And finally, when was the last time a politician heard what you said? Can't remember? Me neither. What if elected officials were handed, upon being sworn in, a set of Populace Ears? Then they would be forced to actually hear what the people who elected them were saying.

May the Ghost of Christmas Future bring you all the ears you need, with the knowledge of how to turn them on and the wisdom to know when to turn them off. Because some things may be better left unheard after all.


This post first appeared at The Parody Files

Can you Digg It?


How much easier it must have been to focus one hundred years ago.

It’s been forty minutes since my last sentence.

The problem isn’t, as so many in the medical and pharmaceutical fields have put forth, a condition called ADD(D) (Adam Doesn’t Do) (Diddly)). The problem plaguing our world today is a much more sinister disorder that has been provisionally labeled (pending Pfizer’s approval of the AMA-suggested designation – you can’t just call diseases and disorders any old thing, you know, you’ve got to have something to work with, something catchy and marketable, a hook, like “Restless Leg Syndrome.” If you leave it to the doctors they’ll come up with some foul and incomprehensible name like “Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever” . . . who wants to be associated with that?) is TMFSS.

And just what, you ask, dear inquisitive reader, does TMFSS stand for? Well, I wish I could remember, but in the time between writing the sentence, “And just what, you ask, dear inquisitive reader, does TMFSS stand for?” and starting the next sentence, I have, while staring at my computer screen with my fingers on the keyboard, embarked upon a twenty three minute journey to the center of the mind which began with the action of Googling “pharmacist salaries.”

Not that I didn’t already know that the median salary for a pharmacist is $108,000. I did. But, I just had to torture myself and Google it so I could say to myself once more, as I have countless times over the years, “Idiot. Why didn’t you go to pharmacy school? 108k working 40 hours a week in a grocery store filling orders from Old Lady McGinty. It’s like working on the other side of the store, in the deli, except that you get paid 80k per year more. Plus, free drugs.”

So after basking in the fantasy of popping the Vicodin that I would be skimming from Old Lady McGinty’s prescription if I were a pharmacist, I returned to reality and Googled, “how to simultaneously live on the 28k per year you make as a writer AND deal with the anxiety of knowing that you have more degrees than any pharmacist. And less Vicodin.”

The results were bleak. Dark and troublesome. So I shivered, before trembling, and then Binged the same search query. Or maybe I Banged it, I’m not sure. In either event, the result was much more cheerful, I think:

This led me to feel good, momentarily, as I thought of Poppa and his ability to appear always in control, to always have an answer, and to consistently provide, protect, heal and womanize. Hawkeye Pierce, my TV Poppa. So I YouTubed “Hawkeye Mash” and watched this video: Hawkeye Singing

The clips made me laugh, which brought my brain back to the moment: the one when I was talking about a disorder called TMFSS. If you are, by some miracle of attentiveness created by a comatose-like state of Ritalin-induced concentration, still reading this post, then you are hereby rewarded with the knowledge that TMFSS stands for “Too Much Fu**ing Sh** Syndrome.” Pfizer is working on a societal enema, to be marketed under the slogan, “We’ll Medicate the Crap Out of You.”

Yet more job security for the pharmacists. Blasted world.


This post first appeared at The Parody Files

Can you Digg it?

House Passes Historic Humor Reform; Republicans Vow to Have Humor Declared Unconstitutional

With a vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives has passed sweeping humor legislation which, once signed into law, will ensure that 35 million additional Americans have access to humor.

Among the wide-reaching changes to the humor industry outlined in the bill, major points include:

• Effective immediately, the 2-drink minimum mandated by greedy comedy club owners and the exorbitant fees charged for said drinks will be permanently abolished, until Republicans regain control of Congress and reverse all of the laws that the Democrats have made.

• Within 12 months, the government will have in place a National Humor Exchange (NHE), where citizens will be able to trade jokes, stories, humor e-books and comedy recordings for free online, and where they can search for and buy tickets to comedy shows, even those across state lines, without having to pay the current industry-wide average fee of 472 percent charged by such ticket outlets as Ticketmaster and StubHub. Democrats plan to subsidize this exchange by holding bake sales.

• By 2012, a nationwide network of Humor Mobiles (HMs) will be created. These HMs will bring jokes, comedians, whoopee cushions and mockery to the homeless and people in the most remote outposts of the U.S., where currently many citizens have no access to humor. One HM will be designated to make weekly stops at the Cheney residence, one of the most humor-deficient regions of the Baltimore-Maryland Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Top Republicans call the bill unconstitutional and many hold firm in the delusion that they will somehow repeal the bill. It is rumored that Sarah Palin may be brought back into the ring to lead this charge. Leading Democrats welcome a Palin comeback, stating, “There can never be too much free humor.”

Speaking on terms of anonymity, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana stated, “This bill only passed as a result of back-room deals where all kinds of nasty jokes of a highly questionable moral nature were told. You know, stuff like the old, ‘Mommy, mommy, why am I running in circles? Shut up before I nail your other foot to the floor.’ Blasphemous. Humor is a serious matter and this is not the way a democracy is supposed to be run. A democracy is supposed to operate out in the open, where every elected official has the same opportunity to be offered kickbacks, sweetheart deals, and Final Four tickets. And besides, why do we want to waste perfectly good humor on those with pre-existing conditions such as the depressed and downtrodden? Do you have any idea how much humor these people require?”

Asked why leading Republicans were left out of the back-room dealings, Speaker Pelosi answered, “They’re such a buzz kill. Would you invite them to your party? I mean, really, come on. What a bunch of stuffy, self-righteous, over-privileged dinosaurs. Plus,” she said, “they never pitch in for the keg.”

Republicans have intermittently claimed that they have their own Humor Bill, playfully nicknamed, “Joke’s on U."

“We have this incredible plan for Humor Reform,” said a leading Republican. “I can’t tell you too much about it but, essentially, it does everything good that the current bill does, it doesn’t do anything bad that the current bill does, and it does a bunch of other stuff, too, all good stuff, with absolutely no bad stuff. Republicans have been working on this bill for over 100 years because, well, humor reform is a complicated issue and you cannot rush into this sort of thing without careful planning, crafting, deliberation and condescension."

An anti-humor fringe group, calling themselves the No-Glee Party, has pledged to continue its fight to end universal humor. Small protests were held around the country today in states such as Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho, where protestors held signs that read, “Repeal Humor!”, “No More Laughter,” “Kill the Bill: FumiGate HumorGate,” and “Let the People Cry.”

“This is going to kill the Democrats in the mid-term elections,” said one Noglee’er. “What fun is being happy if others, who don’t deserve it, are happy too? The whole fun about being happy is to gloat in that happiness in the face of other people’s misery, distress and oppression. Nobody wants everyone to be happy. That’s communism.”

Shaking his head as he meandered down R Street following news of the historic vote, Senator John McCain of Arizona was reported to have been heard mumbling, “Socialized humor. It’s going to be just like the Soviet Union in the 80s – nothing but jokes about bread lines, babushkas and drunken cosmonauts.”


This post first published at The Parody Files

can you Digg it?

Congress Scores Big Win for Laughter

This morning in the Rose Garden President Obama announced that one of the benefits of the healthcare reform bill would take effect immediately, even before he signs the bill into law: On the Origins of Joy Boy's Chasm, a Comic Novel, an FDA-approved cure for depression, sadness, melancholy, boredom and lethargy, will be made available to members of the public for 99 cents on their Kindles, without a prescription. John McCain vows to fight to repeal the action, stating, "Laughter and happiness have traditionally been reserved for the elite. And our country was founded on traditions. Need I say more?"


BamaBeerBelly54 and the World Economic Crisis: The Future of Journalism?

The year is 2016. Anderson Cooper has bought out the rights to his 360 show and started his own channel, AC 24/7. The channel features 1,000 lifelike Anderson Cooper Avatars (ACAs*), stationed around the globe, reading tweets to @AC247, IMs to AC247@gmail, wall posts to the AC247 Facebook Fan page, follower comments from the AC247 blog, and introducing, then airing, viewer comment videos posted to the AC247 YouTube channel.

ACA#213 stands in front of a newly formed pile of debris somewhere in the world, puts his right hand to his ear, looks away from the camera to the ground and issues an expression of . . . surprise . . . disquiet . . . apprehension . . . look at that perfectly chiseled bicep, viewer . . . he fiddles with the earpiece, flashes looks to the camera and then back to the ground with worried concentration . . . concern . . . expectancy . . . what in the world is happening, where in the world IS that AC avatar, anyway . . . and . . . no, no . . .yes, but wait, ACA#213 looks to the ground, back to the camera, bicep trembling, lips parting, mouth opening, here it comes, the next big thing and you are hearing it here first, on the AC24/7 channel, straight from the mouth of ACA#213 and POW!:

“In breaking news on the world economic front,” speaks ACA#213, “’BamaBeerBelly54 has offered a solution. ‘We solve this mess EZ:,’ tweeted ‘Bama, ‘just conquer China and take all the stuff – we know it's all there, because that's where they make it. Then we sell it on eBay!’”

“To this,” reports ACA#213, “NYDem2008 has replied, ‘Yeah, sure, we just march right into Tienanmen Square and put up Old Glory. Good one, hick. ‘”

“This," ACA#213 says as he plays with the earpiece, "prompted a reply from Freebird’74: ‘Yeah, NYDem, that’s how we do, yo! Impeerialism rulz!’”

“Meanwhile, GonnaPartayAllNight69 wondered, ‘Am I on TV?’” before ‘BamaBeerBelly54 concluded, ‘Goooo freebird, you tell him! And stop bein’ soft NYDem, you probly pink-o don’t u know USA ownz! Hey Gonnapartay – u near Birmingham?’”

Is this the future of journalism? Actually, it is the present. Do you know how I know? Because I saw it the other night on television. You may have seen it too. In fact, it happens every day. CNN anchors read viewer tweets. Headline News anchors read Facebook friend comments. And viewer comments regularly flash in real time across the bottom of the screen in countless other newscasts.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hear what ‘BamaBeerBelly54 has to say about the world economic crisis. And I don't want to party with him either. I've seen Deliverance.

Does this mean that I am anti Web 2.0? Of course not, I am all for it; in fact, as you know, I am Web 2.0-ing right now by writing this blog post, and I hope that you all will Web 2.0 me back with a comment. But do we really need, or want, Headline News 2.0? CNN 2.0? TV 2.0? No, we don't , and I am here to say that I am very anti TV2.0.

The purpose of the television is not to be an interactive tool. The purpose of the television, from its beginnings, has been clear: provide an excuse for absolutely no interaction -- no family interaction, no interaction between the brain and any kind of effort, and certainly no interaction between the viewer and the TV.

I am not tuning in to the news to hear analysis from armchair secretaries of state. That's what Thanksgiving dinner is for. Just give me the facts, presented by chiseled, Roman God-like male anchors and exotic, statuesque, Eastern European model-like female anchors. And please, don't ask me any questions. Because I'm not paying attention. I am thinking about nachos.


*No ACAs were harmed in the blogging of this post.

Read me as the Inaugural LJL post at The Parody Files

Origins, God and Counterfeiting Picasso: A Solution to the World's Economic Crisis (plus some other stuff)

In breaking news, On the Origins of Joy Boy's Chasm has successfully made it through Round One of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). Round One narrowed the field of 5,000 entries down to 1,000, leaving an 80 percent wake of what the ABNA Administrators are referring to as "collateral damage" in its path.

The next round, strangely enough, will be called, "Round Two." In this cryptically titled round, the remaining 1,000 entries will be quartered to 250, leaving a wake of destruction not seen since the now fabled "Round One."

Not since the dawn of time (you know, like a few thousand years ago, when God made all those dinosaur fossils and then put them under all those sedimentary layers of the earth and then created science and radiometric dating and universities with archaeology departments and people with a passion for that kind of stuff so that he could trick people into believing there were dinosaurs 60 million years ago to separate the "faithful" (aka those who are offended by facts) from the "blasphemers" (aka those who so self-righteously claim that God would never act in such a deceitful and manipulative fashion) and, actually, since even before then, has a book with the words "origins" and "chasm" made it through Round One of any ABNA. Ever. Please join me in a moment of celebration for this historic moment. I did not crawl out of the ocean. I did not crawl out of the ocean. I flopped out of the ocean.

In other exciting news, I have been collaborating over the past couple of months with four other writers, four of whom are immensely more talented than yours truly, to launch a new humor website, The Parody Files. We went live today with the Inaugural Post, and you can catch us all writing there weekly beginning next week. Until then, you will find us at the Inaugural Ball being held for the Inaugural Post at the Inaugural Mansion. Blasphemers welcome.


Driving Like Crazy, P.J. O'Rourke

Here are two things we know for sure about New Hampshire: (1) Approximately 20 percent of the state’s population can trace its family roots back to Ireland, and (2) in a state that has adopted the motto, “Live Free or Die,” one can be confident that a Libertarian or two will cross his or her path on the way to the granite quarry. Or the primary. (Okay, that’s four, er, five things we know about New Hampshire.) Yet even taking these astonishing facts together, there still is only one Irish-American Libertarian hailing from New Hampshire who bears the distinction of having his Wikipedia page come up as the second Google hit for the search string “new hampshire irish libertarian.” It is none other than the “Master of Metaphor” and author of Driving Like Crazy: Thirty Years of Vehicular Hell-Bending Celebrating the Way It’s Supposed to Be – With a Cadillac Escalade in Every Carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn, P.J. O’Rourke.

Driving Like Crazy is a collection of O’Rourke’s car journalism pieces published throughout the years in magazines such as Car and Driver, Automobile, Esquire and National Lampoon. The book opens (following his Introduction, “The Death of the American Car”) with his gonzo-style How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink, first published in National Lampoon in 1977. In the article, O’Rourke talks about the benefits, or the courageousness, of, among other things, driving fast. While he is celebrating one of his American heroes, the American car, one could argue that he is equally celebrating those other American heroes . . . the ones who live fast and wild and free like the American cars of yore, those whom Kerouac spoke of as “the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!””

One of the hazards of driving fast is the increased risk of having an accident. While most may see this as a hazard, O’Rourke offers a different perspective:

“You know, it’s a shame, but a lot of people have the wrong idea about accidents. For one thing, they don’t hurt nearly as much as you’d think. That’s because you’re in shock and can’t feel the pain or, if you aren’t in shock, you’re dead, and that doesn’t hurt at all so far as we know. Another thing is that they make great stories. I’ve got this friend . . .”

From this introductory article, which sets the tone for what is to follow: lots of cars and lots of speed, O’Rourke takes us on a 700-mile jaunt across Indiana on three “mechanically primitive” Harley-Davidson motorcycles and one Suzuki GS1100 with his Car & Driver boss, a Fiat executive, and a crash test engineer; a 1000 mile trek through the “mountains, lava fields, arid barrens, sand flats, cactus forests, and leviathan rock piles” of Mexico’s Baja peninsula with Michael Nesmith’s (of Monkees fame) race team; and a run from the streets of Islamabad to Calcutta, to name just a few.

While I have completely different views than O’Rourke on so many political and social issues, no matter what he is writing about, even when he is deriding my political views and heroes (“Goodbye to all that, fellow car nuts. Barack Obama has been elected, Congress is overrun with Democrats like cooties on a spelling bee winner, and the Supreme Court will be next to go . . . When Roberts is impeached Al Gore will be named to replace him and the Fun Suckers will be fully in charge”), he has me laughing hysterically. This is one of the reasons why I love reading P.J. O’Rourke so much – P.J., please tell the Fed to flood our economy with humor – it may be our only hope.


Protection Against the Unfavorable Event of Colliding With a Swamp Buggy

My auto insurance policy rate has been exactly the same for the past five years. Until yesterday, that is, when I received my new bill. I opened yesterday’s bill with the expectation of seeing the same amount due for my six-month policy renewal that I had seen for the previous ten or so six-month renewals.

You can imagine my surprise, then – and if you can’t, try imagining the surprise the Pope might feel were one of his cardinals to whisper in his ear that newly discovered information revealed Jesus not to be the Son of God, but rather the son of a guy named God (the genesis of the confusion being that the birth announcement for Jesus, Son of God, was listed just under an investigative piece entitled, "Does God Have Any Children (Other Than All of Us)?" (a popular musing right around the year 0 ) in the Bethlehem Post (stone tablet version) the week of Jesus' birth) and that the story had just kind of, well, gotten legs, er, wings, from there, like a game of ecclesiastical telephone, leading to the tall tale that so many embrace today, one of only a handful of tales that have stood the test of time as well as two of the other greatest stories of all time, The Lord of the Rings and Weekend at Bernie's II – when I opened the bill to see a thirty-five percent increase in my rate.

Had I received any tickets recently? None that I could remember. How about an accident? Ahh, yes, I did have a minor fender bender. It occurred at a slow rate of speed while approaching a stop light. The car in front of me stopped abruptly to allow the approaching unicorn (yes, they are one of a long line of strange beasts that have been spotted in South Florida) to pass, causing me to hit the car from behind. (Here’s a tip: if you stop in the middle of the road, and I am behind you, try to relax your muscles as much as you can because I can assure you that impact will be imminent. Not that I will have been following too closely, just that I will need to impress upon you the importance of not stopping suddenly in the middle of the road.)

Anyway, I have been driving long enough to know that under pretty much any circumstances and regardless of the carelessness of the person who gets hit from behind, the hit-from-behinder (let’s keep this clean, people) is invariably charged as the one responsible for the accident.

But . . .it wasn’t my fault. And . . .a thirty-five percent increase? Well, I just had to get someone from my insurance company, a company that shall go unnamed, on the horn. A horn that, if I were the anti-spokesman of my unnamed insurance company, I would have fashioned from the tusk of my pet woolly mammoth.

Yes, I knew the reason they were going to give as to why they raised the premium, but I wanted to hear them say it, and I wanted to make sure that they were aware of the implicit scam factor of their business model: that is, charge for a service (pay us our extortion payment regularly -- we shall call these payments “premiums”) and we will pay for your accidents when and if you have one. That is to say, we will pay for a portion of your accident. You will pay for the rest (we shall call this, oh, what’s a good word – your “deductible”) and then, when you use the service, or when you do something that may increase your chances of using the service at some point in the future – like having an accident, getting a speeding ticket, buying a Ferrari, etc. – we will charge you more going forward and until the end of time, or at least for the next five years.

The object of the game is to collect, on average, ten times more than you pay out.

People, the juice is running. Can you vig it?

Imagine if all businesses ran using this model. Sonny’s Pizzeria. You pay them $50 a month. Not because you want to, but because the state that you live in requires you to. In return, Sonny supplies the service of providing you with pizza pies when you like. But these pizza pies are not free; you have to pay each time you want to utilize the service. This is called your deductible. Additionally, each time you get a pizza, your monthly premium will go up. And if anything happens that increases the chances of you using the service, like, say, missing lunch and feeling really hungry and possibly in the mood for, oh, I don’t know, a pizza, guess what: your monthly premium increases in anticipation of your using the service.

Sound personal? Sound like a scam? Naa, sounds more like business, capice? Come on kid, let’s go get a slice. I’ll tell you how the world works.

So, it was time to call. And since my unnamed insurance company has the audacity to insult the intelligence of my Cro-Mag-cestors by implying they can only do “easy” things, and the audacity to insult the savings accounts of its loyal customers by increasing their rates at random by thirty-five percent, I decided to make the call from my cell while driving in my premium-ly insured vehicle down an uncharacteristically windy Southwest Florida Road known to be frequented by alligators, wild boar, frozen iguanas, non-indigenous Burmese pythons, and (indigenous) Florida crackers who fly out of the cypress swamps and mangrove forests at random locations and intervals on their four-wheelers and swamp buggies, chasing after alligators, wild boar, frozen iguanas, non-indigenous Burmese pythons and (also non-indigenous) high-hat Yankee transplants who condescendingly observe the natives and report back to civilization by publishing articles in such high-browed, hoity-toity publications as Anthropology Today, Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News and Reviews, and The Humor Books Blog.

But first, I texted the phrase “so ez a caveman can do it” to twenty of my closest friends, one by one. Then I texted the same message to all of them again, except backwards, “ti od nac namevac a ze os.” If my unnamed insurance company wanted to try to drown me in the deep-end of some high-risk pool with the 16-year-olds who can’t even see over the steering wheel and the dual DUI/illegal possession of a narcotic recipients (always a memorable evening, like winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar on the same night) over one minor fender-bender, like some bookie’s muscle trying to collect by plunging the client’s head repeatedly into, and then out of, the toilet bowl, then I was certainly going to extract some value from my new designation and generate some risk.

I dialed the number. Let’s call it 1-800-Caveman. I can do it. I may not be able to read, but I know which button on the cell phone is the five because it has that little raised bump on it. From there, I can navigate my way to the eights, the zeroes, the fours, etc., in much the same way one of my ancestors may have navigated the heavy end of his club into the side of his neighbor’s woolly mammoth’s head when it stepped over the property line.

“Hello,” I queried, “is this Warren Buffet?”

“Um, no. Can I help you, sir?”

“Yes. I am looking at my recently arrived auto insurance bill and it is thirty-five percent higher than it has been for the previous five years.”

“Well, let me look at this for you, sir.” -- click click pause pause click click pause – “Well sir, I am not seeing any tickets. But it looks like there was an accident back in August and we had to pay for both cars, meaning that you were at fault in the accident.”

- pause pause pause – “I was,” – pause pause – “at fault, did you say?”

“Yes, sir. That is why your rate has increased.”

“So, it seems we are in agreement that I have received no tickets since my last policy renewal, yes? Tell me then, if I received no tickets, how was I at fault?”

“Well, that’s right, sir. No tickets were issued. But somebody always has to be at fault in an accident. That’s just the way it is.”

That’s just the way it is. Is that what he just said?

“Interesting. Maybe you can tell me who determined that I was at fault, as you say, when I was driving below the speed limit and maintaining a safe distance between myself and the car in front of me and when, out of nowhere, driver of said car abruptly stopped in the middle of the street, apparently to allow a non-indigenous unicorn to pass."

“I’m not saying that you did anything wrong, sir. I am just saying that you were at fault.”

“Is this going to be on the LSAT? Because if it is, I think I am going to get this one wrong. It sounds to me like you may as well be saying, ‘I’m not saying that the earth is round, I’m just saying that it tends to resemble the shape of a ping pong ball and, seemingly by chance, has a circumference of (2*pi*it's non-circular radius).”

“Somebody has to be at fault to determine which insurance company pays. You came up on the short end of the stick.”

Better than coming up on the heavy end of the stick like the Woolly Mammoth, I suppose . . .

“Is that verbiage in my policy? That short end of the stick thing. Section Four, Paragraph Three, Line Five: ‘Someday, you may come up on the short end of the stick. When you do this, you nasty, nasty client, we will be obliged to increase your rates by thirty-five percent. That’s just the way it is.’ I don’t recall seeing that in there."

“No, sir, it is not.”

“Is it in your Customer Service Policies and Procedures Training Manual?”

“I don’t think it is.”

“Well then, I suppose the only thing left to do is to ask you to connect me to the person who decided that I was at fault for this accident for which we both agree that I did nothing wrong. Can you connect me to this person, or shall I call upon the Scarecrow and the Tinman to show me the way to Oz, where I might find such a wise and powerful being.”

“Let me connect you with the claims department.” That is to say, like I get paid enough for this bull****

-- pause, pause, soothing muzak paid for by me and all of the careless nothings that I so haphazardly and irresponsibly do wrong on an ongoing basis, I accept Jesus into my blood for all of my wrongs, pause, pause

“Claims Department. Can I have your name, please?”

Nice try -- putting me on the defensive by asking me the questions. I’ll bet that’s in your Customer Service Policies and Procedures Training Manual: “provoke customers by incessantly asking them an absurd number of identification questions each time they are transferred to another representative. Should they query on the company’s need to badger them with such inquiries, blame it on the Patriot Act. Eventually, they will hang up and we can go back to counting our money.

“Hi. Is this the person who arbitrarily decided to judge me at fault regarding an accident that followed my following all of the traffic safety laws and who then decided to raise my premiums by thirty-five percent?”

“Umm, do you have a policy with us, sir?”

At this point, it has become apparent that there are three swamp buggies fast closing in on me and the car is being bogged down by 300 lb. Burmese pythons falling from the mangrove trees.

I decide that the conversation has attained a sufficient entertainment value to me – ten dollars. I hang up. I have six months remaining on my new policy – plenty of time to siphon the remaining $140 increase in my premium and have it paid back to me in self-amusement dollars. You see, my unnamed insurance company has an 800-number with agents available 24/7. And I have a phone. That’s just the way it is.

As for now, I must focus on my most immediate concern: escaping from the natives and the non-natives, both of whom seem to be restless. And some of whom appear to be carrying clubs. Does my policy carry protection for this?


can you Digg it?

Goodbye Mexico, Phillip Jennings

“Don’t you hate the missions where you have a bunch of people lined up to assassinate someone and then everything gets mixed up and no one knows who’s killing who?” – Gearhardt, Goodbye Mexico

Jack Armstrong has been appointed Chief of Station in Mexico City. His vanity overtakes his humility when he fails to recognize that the only reason he could have been appointed to such a post without knowing a lick of Spanish is not that his skills as a CIA agent are second-to-none, but rather must be in some way connected to the facts that (1) his old pal Gearhardt has pulled some strings to place him exactly there, in that position, in Mexico City, at precisely that time, (2) the near future will involve being instrumental in some sort of international conspiracy plot devised by Gearhardt, like, say, for instance, assassinating the president of Mexico and taking over Cuba (while blaming the whole thing on the “bad” Cubans to help out the “good” Cubans), and (3) there will be members of a litany of factions, organizations and countries involved in this plot, including, but not limited to, the good Cubans, the bad Cubans, the Russians, the CIA, the Mexicans, the Colombians, and an errant pygmy or two.

On the subject of The Pygmy, Jennings writes:

“The Pygmy was a legendary CIA agent. A three-foot bronze man who often wore small animal skins and when stressed spoke by making clicking sounds in this throat. The smell of his cooking fires permeated CIA headquarters at Langley. He alternately bounded and crept through the halls of the Agency. As he rose up through the ranks, he developed a small but loyal following, reportedly assembling his own army of dedicated Pygmy troops, whom he used for his own black operations. And they were also a softball team.” (p. 35)

Whether Jack will ever come face-to-face with the Pygmy remains a mystery throughout most of the novel; likewise, Jack’s ignorance of his present and future situation continues even after Gearhardt shows up and begins to give details of his, or, rather, their mission. This is because Gearhardt unravels the facts of the plan on a need-to-know basis, throwing in some occasional curve balls when the plan involves Gearhardt’s making Jack need-to-know something that isn’t true so that he will act in a certain way. As such, the plan unravels with clues and red herrings something like a mystery novel, to both Jack and the reader.

Gearhardt, the ex-marine turned renegade CIA operative who gets his information via teletype from an international network of bordellos and massage parlors, is a comic masterpiece as a character; something of a wisecracking, womanizing Hawkeye Pierce with his zero tolerance for authority, sprinkled with a touch of James Bond and his charms that enable him to cement international connections wherever he steps foot, topped off with a dab of Rambo's ability to handle himself and his need for a mission that involves overwhelming firepower, and covered finally with a Teflon-like layer of cartoonesque bulletproofness.

Phillip Jennings’ GoodBye Mexico, his sequel to the 2005 Vietnam farce Nam-A-Rama, is a terrifically funny romp through the world of international espionage, covert operations and nation building. Will the Sisterhood of Prostitutes make all of Cuba a red-light district? Will the “good” Cubans take over Mexico? Or will the Catholic Church take over Cuba? The answers may even surprise Gearhardt.

“Love makes you do strange things. I was once so in love I bought a trombone.” – Gearhardt, Goodbye Mexico


can you Digg it?

Bending Ears in the New Year

One of the running jokes in my family is that I spoke my first word at the age of twelve. While I often challenge this sully with the contention of recalling distinctly, at the age of ten, a boy much resembling myself asserting his dissatisfaction with the evening’s fish sticks to all those present at the picnic table one hot and sticky August evening, I would be embellishing in the hopes of representing more loquacious origins (that is to say, I would be frontin') were I to submit that this first word had been anything other than “fish,” quickly followed by my second spoken word, “sticks,” which immediately preceded the third constituent of my declarative triumvirate, “bad.” This impressive auditory ensemble that I expressed was accentuated with a pause at the end, followed by a look around the table. In the written world, the scene would have come together something like this: He looked up from his paper plate of fish sticks, french fries and ketchup, took in a deep breath to ready himself, and spoke, “fish sticks bad.” He looked to the others at the table hopefully, expectantly, but this lasted only a moment before he withdrew, as two seconds had passed with no sign of approval, to assume a more dejected pose, at which point he looked back down to his plate and pretended that he had said nothing. Wished that he had said nothing. And hoped that the others had not heard him.

A shy boy? Of course, who wouldn’t be? Living amongst such a frightfully strange and eclectic array of nature’s misfits. Has there ever been, in the history of the world, such an impractical species as ours? I beg your pardon, my dear Erasmus, but if I am hearing you correctly, you are saying that you actually want me to choose my own destiny? Oh, dear God, just repress me.

The truth is I do have proof that I spoke before the age of twelve; in fact, even before the age of ten. It was much earlier than this, when I was in the third grade and considered by Teresa Hayden, the first of a long line of girls I would be in love with and would only kiss, a strapping young lad wise beyond my eight years on the planet. Back then, eight years was a lifetime and there were nine planets. I know this because I made a mobile replica of the solar system with some Styrofoam balls from the model shop and Teresa said it was really neat. I took this to mean that she was more into Mike Buschee, who was really good at drawing cars and trucks, as Teresa often referred to his drawings as super wicked. When it comes to girl talk, really neat is at best three notches below super wicked. Even with eight-year-olds.

Today, eight years pass more quickly than the time it takes to ask the question: Zoolander was in 2001? Eight years ago? Are you kidding me? And Pluto, once our courageous sentinel, standing watch in a perpetual Siberian winter on the dark and lonely perimeter of our solar system, has been relegated to the status of dwarf planet, not even counted anymore, thus leaving us with only eight real planets. Poor Pluto. Apparently, the IAU (International Astronomical Association) determined that Pluto had not successfully cleared enough of the debris away from its orbit to be considered a planet by today’s standards. Pluto likes debris. Pluto is a hoarder. Pluto lives in a trailer. That trailer orbits our sun. Not every(orbiting)body achieves his, her, or its dreams, but there are those of us who will always remember brave Pluto. You are not alone. You are never alone in a trailer park.

My proof of sound comes in the form of one sentence, forever etched in my mind like a faded, old-time, black-and-white photograph of perfect, grade-school cursive, written 50 times on the blackboard: I will not talk back when Mrs. Romano reprimands me. Actually, it was written 100 times, but only 50 times by me. The other 50 times the sentence was written by my accomplice and partner in the talking-back-to-the-reprimander-thing-a-ma-doodle-sitcheation, Kenny. Kenny was always in trouble, always writing sentences with cool and important-sounding words like reprimand on the blackboard. For me, the state of affairs was an anomaly: It was, in fact, the first time that Mr. Craw, our beloved principal, had ever reprimanded me.

What did we say to Mrs. Romano to account for this sentence, or, should I say, these 100 sentences? I cannot say for certain, but I am sure it was something that needed to be said. This, I can attest to, as I do not talk back haphazardly and without the conviction that my principles have been affronted. (And yes, to Mr. Craw, using your homophonous connection to the previous sentence and knowing your character I can attest that you, as well, would have been affronted).

You see, when I talk, I am saying something that needs to be said. Trust me on this one. It’s like when you are hungry and you eat food. But when you are not hungry, and you eat food anyway, you are then eating in excess and not out of necessity (like when I eat a bowl of ice cream three hours after having dessert). You are not eating what needs to be eaten, but what you want to be eaten. Some people are like this with talking. They talk not because of what needs to be said, but because they can say something: They want to show the world that they possess the gift of spoken language. We all know them, these show-offs who rant incessantly, bouncing from one inane subject to another, like a lemur leaping through the trees of Madagascar, with no apparent point nor any clear line of connection from one subject’s departure to the next one’s landing. Substantive topics such as why my brother’s wife is such a loser and guess who I saw (Sarah) at a red-light and she didn’t even look over to say hi to me, such a poser with her fake Prada bag up on the dash of her Mercedes C300 that’s probably going to be repossessed, like, tomorrow, who does she think she’s kidding are typically covered in depth. Sounds just keep coming out of their mouths making all kinds of interesting patterns, as if when they inhale oxygen, they must exhale words: the next step in our evolutionary metamorphosis.

“Blah blah blah,” they say, as you give a pensive nod, noting the way they embrace a state of obliviousness as related to your level of disinterest and inattention to what they are saying. “Aaaand then, unimportanty, who caresity, blah-de-blahdity.” They haven’t even looked at me. Not that it would matter, as their level of dedication to filling my ears with their bird-like songs of whoopty-doo-it-ness would preclude them from having the ability to note the way in which my contemplative nod has retracted to allocate some space for the looks of obvious impatience, contempt and downright are-you-freaking-kidding-me-ness to overtake my visage. And please consider that when I say bird I usually mean, as I did in the above case, the turkey vulture. “So then, I was like, insignificanty, meaninglessy, why-in-the-world-anyone-would-give-a-damn-is-a-mystery-y, and she was all, . . . until my last, dying breath this mouth will exude sound.

Sometimes, I would like the opportunity, when the biological necessity of oxygen sets in and forces them to pause for a moment from their monologue, to say, “You have heard that actions speak louder than words?” Then, I would pull the cork out of the bottle of Stag’s Leap Cabernet from my backpack and stick it in their mouth. “Cork is becoming rare,” I would add, “many of the Oregon Pinots are being bottled with screw caps these days.” Now there is something worth saying.

So as pertains to the New Year: For the politicians out there, the ones who will be directing our country through the next year and beyond, I offer the following suggestion for your New Year’s Resolution: Talk less, say more. And then do something.

For the rest, truth be told, I would never want the talkers to talk less, as this would mean that I would be required to talk more, something that I have no interest in doing. So talkers, let’s preserve the status quo: You keep talking to give the rest of us something to talk about and I’ll throw something in there when I feel the need. Like when Mrs. Romano reprimands me. Anyone have an extra piece of chalk?


can you Digg it?