Freudian Slips: January 2005

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

January 30, 2005

Wanted Dead or Alive

“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya,” he cried, “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” -Crooks in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men Snow kicked up on the undercarriage as my company car pulled curbside. I picked up Luigi wearing his dead brother’s sneakers and ragamuffin sweatpants that moths had turned into communal property. Today, I would have opportunity to do what old fashioned turn of the century social workers did before the Great Paper Chase consumed job duties - go out in the field to actually help someone. Luigi and I made a social contract. I would take Luigi clothes shopping in exchange for his complicity in maintaining an overdue consultation with a specialist. Tit for Tat. I got him a voucher for clothes and scheduled his doctor's appointment for him.
Luigi is a rare human being, who is slightly developmentally disabled. He brings about comparisons to Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Luigi has this innocence in the world that measures in sharp contrast to his survival skills. In some ways, he is better off than Lennie. When he gets into a pickle, I have had my doubts. Like Lennie and George, Luigi and I have traveled across America together without ever leaving New Jersey. If it weren’t for the hard work of many George’s, this man would not have recently celebrated his fiftieth birthday. Luigi has been either a homeless person or a squatter all of his life. After he was discovered in the early 1990's living out of a rusted shelled out oil tanker in the woods in the dead of winter, he arrived on my caseload. Luigi had bells on his feet. Luigi has instinctive survivor skills on the streets. He knows everyone like a mayor in Anytown, America. I did not know of Luigi’s brushes with the law until by happenstance we met up with a retired sheriff standing in line at a drug store. The year was 1998. The sheriff issued me a tattered testimonial of mischief and misdemeanor. As a child, Luigi was no snow angel but he grew-up surviving by panhandling. The art of panhandling has kept him out of prison. Even the crusted sheriff respected Luigi to a certain extent. When Luigi and I embark on a destination, I resurrect information from the fateful day we bumped into a sheriff. We have this cat and mouse game we play when work brings us together. I tease him then he makes fun of me. The interplay is our male bonding ritual. “Luigi, do you have an arrest warrant in Pittsgrove Township?” “No.” The car makes a left turn. “Okay, heading into Pittsgrove Township.” A few miles down the road I ask, “How about Hyserliville? Are we cool with that?” “I ain’t wanted in no Hyserlville. I ain’t never even heard of no Hyslerville.” I put my blinker on. "Passing through Hyselrville." I say kiddingly. "How about after shopping, I buy you lunch in Mantua Township? The sheriff didn’t say anything about you and Mantua Township.” “I ain’t no fugitive, Mr. Joe.” The last time Luigi and I played this silly game the song, "I Shot the Sheriff" came on the car radio. The radio did not play a soundtrack today for our interplay.
“Seen the new courthouse in Palmyra?” “Never been to Palmyra, Mr. Joe.” Luigi protested. “No trouble waiting for me there.” About ten minutes later, I rehash the conversation. “That doctor you are going to see has an office in Gloucester. Aren’t you wanted for jaywalking in Gloucester? Maybe we ought to switch doctors to a town that isn't ready to slip a pair of bracelets on you.” “Mr. Joe, you know I’m clean as a whistle.” “I didn’t know that. I was just checking.” My message had been sent and I'm confident Luigi received it. “Is it my turn yet because somebody told me somepun about ya being a comic strip?” I like many things about Luigi. The asset I like best in him is his sense of humor. I couldn’t role play with a client that I didn’t have a rapport with. Luigi was in rare form getting his digs in when we drove by a nursing home we both recognized. I saw Luigi look longingly out the window. He kind of drifted off and stopped the parting shots at me. I imagined what Luigi was thinking about. Luigi used to have a profitable business arrangement with an elderly female until age not desire necessitated her entrance into this nursing home. I wondered if Luigi still saw Francine? “Do you still visit your old girlfriend Francine?” “I don’t know how to say this Mr. Joe. Francine died. She's in the ground somewhere.” All kidding aside, I asked, “She did? When?” “About 2004. You think I got it bad with you taking me out for clothes. Funeral director called me up asking me for money to bury her.” “I’m sure the funeral director didn’t get too far shaking you down, Luigi. Anyway, what did Francine die of?” “Mr. Joe, I think they forced Francine to work as a housekeeper?” “A housekeeper! What in the world makes you say that?” “I was told she died of ammonia.”


January 27, 2005

Super Bowl XXXIX

Absolute hysteria is surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles trip to the Super Bowl. As a diehard consummate Eagles fan, I am reveling in the round the clock pigskin hoopla. Pro football has long been my favorite spectator sport. One of my earliest memories of the Philadelphia Eagles goes back to nine years of age. The Eagles were one of the most hapless football franchises in the early 1970’s. I remember glancing at a picture buried in the sports page of The Philadelphia Inquirer. I didn’t really read the newspaper in those days but the picture intrigued me. The picture showed an Eagles defensive player sitting dejected on a bench after another excruciating loss. The caption read, The Eagles Will Wynn…but when? I am 42 years old and the Eagles have yet to win a Super Bowl. I am hoping that on February 6, 2005 The Philadelphia Eagles answer this 35 year old question of when will we they win. That was when a bald eagle and an Eagles fan really were endangered species. Now that the Philadelphia Eagles made it to the Big Dance, fans are coming out of the woodwork. The Courier Post came out to my house the other day. What I thought would be a few photographs of my sports memorabilia collection turned into a lengthy interview with a reporter and a photo shoot. I think they liked what they saw. I described myself as a “sports historian.” With my own two hands, it took me three years to decorate and furnish the lower level of our house into a virtual sports Mecca or as the article reads a “veritable carnival of delights.”

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My phone started ringing at 6am the day the story went to press. The voice on the other end of the phone said I made the front page of the Courier Post. The story spilled over into the sports section, something my athletic career never did for me. The newspaper referred to me as “South Jersey Super Fan” but I am not looking for another alter ego. I have enough nicknames to confuse an adoption agency. The Courier Post asked to come back to my house to cover a story on the day of the Super Bowl. One huge problem. I am not hosting a Super Bowl party to my knowledge. Friends please stop calling me about your invitation to the ultimate Super Bowl party. I am not missing a second of this pivotal game schlepping Eagle green martinis, hearing children cry for their mommies, or microwaving cheese dip to a tepid temperature suitable for your palettes, Boo-hoo, it ain’t happening. Can you hear me know, Angela H., Magillicutty, Joe H., Jimmy, Doug? To the general public, I stopped doing house tours the moment this article hit the newsstands. Anyway, you can check out the article. It is very cool press. There is also a link for the photo gallery.

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January 25, 2005

Sanctity of Life

Husband kills self out of grief, then comatose wife regains consciousness Associated PressJan. 21, 2005 02:00 PM ROME - Evoking comparisons to "Romeo and Juliet," a husband in northern Italy killed himself out of grief for his ailing wife, hours before she came out of a coma, Italian state TV reported Friday.RAI state TV said the husband visited his 67-year-old wife daily, sometimes coming to the hospital in Padua as much as four times a day, after she went into a coma after a stroke in September.On Wednesday, the 71-year-old man committed suicide at the couple's Padua-area home, according to RAI and the Italian news agency ANSA. About 12 hours later, the wife emerged from the coma and asked for her husband, ANSA said.ANSA quoted their pastor as saying the husband had told him he was very pessimistic about prospects for his wife's recovery.The husband and wife, who were not identified, had no children. William Shakespeare warned us that parting is such sweet sorrow. All things being equal, this maybe the saddest ending to a love story that I have ever read in a newspaper. I wish it didn’t happen. I wish I never read the woeful tale of self-inflicted tragedy. The more I learn about the circumstances however, the more I appreciate the sanctity of life. The man had told his pastor that he couldn’t bear to see his wife in a non-resuscitate vegetative state. He grew so despondent that he convinced himself that he could not go on living without her. So he killed himself without the pastor’s blessing. While she cling to this thing called life, he exited stage right. It was a grievous crime to pardon the expression. Correct me if I am wrong, his wife did not await him in the hereafter. Presumably, he now waits for her on the other side. The only chance for a blessed reunion, however remote the possibility, was for him to go on living and hope his prayers would be one day be answered. I understand insurmountable grief but I don’t understand the math in this equation. To this day, he remains without her only she is the widow. The husband didn’t have to end his own life, if he had waited one more day. Easy for me to say one more day, huh? This wasn’t Karen Ann Quinlin. This Italian woman had been in a coma only four months. The wife awoke from her coma while police were still on the scene where he committed suicide. The value he placed on his beloved wife’s life stopped extending to his own. Life should be considered precious in all human beings. “Where is my husband?” the wife asked after emerging from the coma. Bedside, a nurse had no choice but to inform her that her husband just committed suicide in grief. In the end, this man needed more support to stay alive than his wife. Love means never having to say you’re sorrowful. It is implied.


January 23, 2005

No Hand Modeling Career Here

The snow storm created cabin fever in my restless bones. I turned to my computer and surfed Ebay. I made the unfortunate double click mistake of finding this one of a kind sale. Get ready for auction # 6736622700.

To the trained eye, this is a fake designer Dolce and Gabbano knockoff purse up for grabs, no criminal intent intended. The narrative in the auction included the following selling points. · Features a gently used new condition · Suede “like” material for the imposter handbag · Comes without tags · Sold by a seller named Scumbilly What the…h-e double toothpick? Who can even concentrate on the purse amidst the fashion show against the whitewashed 1970's paneling? This isn’t your average hand model here. Egads, is that a tattoo of Dracula on her forearm? Fangs for the memories!
Hate to get personable(double entrende), but how about the stretch marks on Scumbilly’s exposed rotund belly? When Scumbilly says the item comes without tags, she must mean manufacturer identification tags not skin tags. I would think selling the purse would be a stretch without the stretch marks. Oh my God!
How about the picture on the tee shirt of the silly monkey wagging his tongue on the plump left breast? Is it bedtime for Bonzo or what? Something tells me Scumbilly never used this fashion purse to go into town on a Saturday night. I doubt whether there is a nearby town yet settled.
At any rate, why would anyone be buying off a seller named Scumbilly who advertises her wares looking so haggard? I fear Scumbilly may be lower on the food chain than hillbilly. It’s like a Pagan motorcycle member selling Cadillacs in Beverly Hills. It conjures up memories of George Kastanza working as a ridiculous hand model on Seinfeld. If I had the purse in front of me now, I would use it to hurl into. To prove that even Sanford & Son can sell used toilet paper on Ebay, the knockoff off purse attracted a bidder. This has buyer beware written all over it.


January 20, 2005

A Comic Strip.


The Bee Man of Blackwood

A modern day Marco Polo, Robert Ripley lived an extraordinary life as an adventurer and explorer. He traveled the world searching for the unusual. Ripley started what has now become the enterprise known as Ripley’s Believe It or Not! He received over one million letters a year for twenty years from people wanting a spot in his famous newspaper cartoons. Such prolific fan mail explains not only where all the trees went but how many different people from all walks of life there are. Some time ago, Ripley’s Believe It or Not contacted me about turning my life into a comic strip. Today, January 20, 2005 I enter the auspicious realm as a comic strip. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not comic strip is syndicated in about 75 newspapers across America, 37 different countries, and over 200 publications worldwide. It will also be posted on a few websites, including The sheer volume of newspapers translates into millions of readers. Because of the media exposure, I hope my disease, Mastocytosis, is Googled a hundred thousand times. Why? There is no blessed cure for this peculiar disease. While I have been lampooned in art, my hope is to gain public awareness about my rare disease. I looked different during the years I costumed in a beekeeper’s suit, but no comic strip can begin to tell the story of how Mastocytosis has changed my once ordinary life. I have no regrets consenting to be the subject matter of a cartoon. It provides carbon dating of what I went through to stay alive until doctors figured out what to do with me. Yes, some alter ego is now The Bee Man of Blackwood in the Funny Section but allow me to share what the comic strip couldn’t cover in concept and design. The Bee Man of Blackwood could easily have been titled Masto Man with just as much flare for the unusual. Mastocytosis is about understanding your body as it counter-intuitively works to deceive you on a cellular level. Mastocytosis is about a mortal’s subtle erosion of energy, endurance, and talents. The erosion is such a slippery slope some of us fall further from grace until quality of life changes warrant a caregiver. I hope my condition never reaches this systemic saturation point. I live one day at a time looking at life from both sides of the spectrum. Let me count the ways. It hurts me to grasp a pen and write but I am still gainfully employed. My muscles inordinately fatigue to prepare a meal but I can still cook like nobody’s business. It hurts to exercise but it hurts worse if I don’t. The thousands of lesions on my body constantly itch but I am not in the least contagious. Pressure points cause pain even to hug my children but I still love. I am often out of breath answering to the day but I am still breathing. I cannot be stung by in so much as a bee but I can stop and smell the silk roses.
To the millions of readers around the world, Masto Man is not coming to a theater near you but it is a story that indeed needs to be told. The Bee Man of Blackwood is today’s news but long live Masto Man!


January 18, 2005

Customer Service or Wiretapping?

Consumer beware the next time you hear the following disclaimer over the telephone. *This call may be monitored for quality assurance and training purposes. I heard it announced on public radio that nearly every business employs this little catchall phrase at the beginning of customer relations calls. The operative word here is “catchall” and it is a dirty little secret making its way out to the general public. Once businesses issue this lack of privacy statement, they are entitled to listen in during periods you are on hold. Masked men of espionage can gauge your conversations with third parties, your degree of honesty, your level of frustration, and invade your privacy or the cloak thereof. Now that I know my privacy is being invaded I will modify my future behavior. I am trainable. But I might as well take this time to explain my past actions to all those squirrelly saboteurs with ear muffed headphones. 1. Yes, while on hold I sometimes rehearse out loud what I am going to say later into the phone. This is an idiosyncratic behavior and not due to any underlying insecurity. 2. I am only a heavy breather even though I sound grossly overweight. I have a gym membership to prove it. 3. I want to go on the record and let everyone know I occasionally blow my nose. I don’t live near a train station. 4. Just because I holler at my kids doesn’t mean I do not have a legitimate gripe with your company. 5. You might have thought I was calling from a laundromat, I was trying to brush my teeth while I waited for someone other than Big Brother to answer my pending call. 6. When you heard me popping pills, it was aspirin. I also don’t smoke and if I did I most certainly wouldn’t inhale. 7. The squeal like a pig noises in 2003 was me running from a bumble bee which got into my home. 8. The profanities I have waged over the years are the result of Tourette’s Syndrome not the mind boggling time left on hold. 9. I don’t live in an echo chamber. That was me on the hopper. Life goes on while you are spying on me. Shit happens! 10. Just because I talk to my plants and pets on a first name basis, doesn’t make me crazy. 11. Yes, Verizon Wireless and Comcast Cable, I still stand behind my hush toned name calling. You both are still Evil Empires in my book.

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January 16, 2005

Jonny Lang...what is a guitar to do?

I had the wonton pleasure to paint the town red Friday tonight. I accepted the invitation by a friend to see Jonny Lang and Brandi Carlile perform at the Scottish Right Auditorium in Collingswoood, NJ. Any film director wanting to shoot a B movie version of Phantom of the Opera, this is your venue. Cobwebs are included with the price of admission. The theatre appears ghastly but it radiates good acoustical sound. Just don’t use the bathroom without a clothespin or plunger. I thought I had never heard of either Jonny Lang or Brandi Carlisle when they walked on stage…or so I thought. The irony is that WXPN 88.5 FM radio gives air time to their songs. Dopey me has been singing and humming a few bars unwittingly. Brandi Carlile and her three piece ensemble opened up. Coming off signing with Columbia records, the band played stoked on hot coals. Brandi’s voice conjured up music from my childhood. When she described herself as “Patsy Kline with tattoos” it all came first circle. My mother loves Patsy Kline. A gifted singer, Brandi could stand to gain more stage presence. Never introduce your band members for the first and only time during a standing ovation. Nobody can hear anything! She closed with a song called Hallelujah. The construction of the word Hallelujah, if spoken with meaning or sung from the heart, touches the soul. She performed spirituality in the song Hallelujah. If a wicker basket was passed around at that point, I would have kicked in a few dollars. Brandi did a six song set sampler. B+
Jonny Lang pictured below
As the Lang legend goes, BB King discovered Jonny Lang at the age of twelve although with his undeniable musical talent somebody was sure to find him not long after. BB King put him on stage as an opening act and Kid Jonny Lang rose to the challenge. Jonny Lang, who looks like a young Kevin Bacon, cut his first album just out of elementary school. He later opened up for Aerosmith. A veteran of his fourth album at the ripe age of 23, he now commands top billing.
This is not cookie cutter music. This is stand alone stuff. If you close your eyes, you hear musical instruments that can be considered classic rock. If you experience the show with all of your senses, you hear a black man’s soulful voice playing rock music. It is Rock Blues at his finest hour. The young man can play guitar, mandolin, probably dental floss if you handed it to him. I’ll never do reviews for Rolling Stone magazine but the only one better I have seen at guitar is Eddie Van Halen. Lang’s acoustical guitar cords ripped right through my body. I believe the cerebral palsied walked away from that performance on the straight and narrow. Amazing! I thought I had never heard of Jonny Lang, that is until he played a song I heard on public radio called “You Can Run a Light. Lang even played a couple of gospel songs with no drop off in the switch of genres. And that man can scat until you say Ella Fitzgerald who? Lang’s humming and vocalizations matched his guitar strutting so beautifully you question why the music industry ever started to use lyrics. He rocked and blued tried and true. He even plugged in his electric guitar for one song for old time sake. You Can Run a Light has hypnotic lyrics that take on double meaning for me. At face value it is about contemplating suicide. To me, it is also about not driving yourself too fast through life and choosing not only to live but slow down the pace of it. Judge for yourself. You Can Run a Light
By Jonny Lang
You sing a song, while sitting at the red light
You think of home, while sitting at the red light
Too slow to roll
Put your life on hold
An open path
With nowhere to go
You start to wonder, while sitting at a red light
You can run a red light, give up at a red light
You break the mold, when running through the toll
Speeding through your whole life
A chance to breathe, while sitting at the red light
You look around, reflecting on your life
A chance to think Am I drinking too much
Should I keep going
Lose the life that I love
A second glance
When coming to a red light You can run a red light, give up at a red light
You break the mold, when running through the toll
Speeding through you whole life You can run a red light, give up on your whole life
You break the mold, when you're runnin' through the toll
Speeding through your whole life When things look low
You've gotta keep strong
Feet to the grass
You've gotta walk it off
The bows been tied
Too tight to laugh
Feet to the ground
You've gotta walk it off You can run the red light
You can run the red light Start to think Am I drinking to much
Should I keep going Lose the life that I love You can run a red light, give up at a red light
You break the mold, when running through the toll
Speeding through your whole life You can run a red light, give up on your whole life
You break the molds, when running through the tolls
Speeding through your whole life You can run a red light
You can run a red light
You sing a song, while sitting at a red light

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January 13, 2005

Never to be confused with an undewear model.


Brief Moment in Walmart

A few weeks ago, I made the innocent mistake of shopping for new underwear in Walmart. Not that Sam Walton’s family needed my money but in a tattered sort of way I needed underwear, a brief trip in the making. I found my way back to the men's department with no encroachments. I eyed the prize – colored underwear size 40-42 with an expandable waistline for buffet eating. The Fruit of the Loom undees would be mine in no time. I was almost out of the department, when I felt a rabid tug on my arm. I turned to find two elderly women, neither of whom looked to be a day older than ninety. They looked Walmart lost. Maybe they got conked over the head with one of those prices falling signs. “Sonny, can you help me?” I have come to tolerate the term ‘Sonny” when it emanates from someone my senior. I got to tell you though; I cringe at the name of Sonny. Add a nasal voice and prunish wrinkles to the speaker and I am at nausea. “Can you show me where the men’s pajamas are? We can’t find them.” “You know I don’t work here, don’t you?” Double negatives ruined their first impression of me. “Sonny, in case you hadn’t noticed, there isn’t anyone working in this department.” She complained to deaf ears. “Now I know you can help two old ladies.” She stated the obvious. We briefly circled the brief department as the women did their Sunday best to keep up the pace. The sick Far Side of me refrained from yelling “Bingo” to see if they could move any faster. I too would be old someday and placing red markers on only five of the twenty six letters in the alphabet as a sporting event seemed far from a hullabaloo. At one point, I told them it would be faster if they wait while I go on a search and recovery mission to retrieve a couple of samples. They objected. I think they thought I was trying to shake them. I marched, they shuffled. They were too slow so I pressed onward on a solo expedition of jammies. I returned empty handed with no good news to share.
“It seems Wal-Mart either doesn’t sell pajamas or somebody is planning one giant slumber party. I can’t find one pair of jammies. No flannels, nothing.” “You see Shirley, Sonny couldn’t find the pajamas either. I told you my cataracts had nothing to do with it.” “What do we do?” The ladies seemed unsure. “What do you got there, Sonny?” She pointed to the underwear I had picked out for myself. I never liked to advertise the underwear I wear in the presence of an age gap of a half century. Besides, there is just too much expectation with the pictured models flaunting the stuffed sock packaging look. “These little old things?” I answered embarrassed. “Well, this is everyday wear.” “You got one of that them there on?” “Yes, but please don’t ask me the color.” Shirley asked, “Okay…what do you wear to bed?” “Follow me.” I encouraged. If they owned x-ray glasses, they would be using them right about now. I took the women over to the silk boxer section. I held up a pair of black and fire engine red flamed boxer shorts. Maybe the devil made me do it. She reached forward to pet the supple fabric. “Ah, Shirley, come feel how nice.” Shirley rocked her cane forward and ably shuffled between the two of us. “Ah!” she moaned feeling the silky smoothness. “You wear these?” the nameless one asked. “Yes.” I admitted wihtout saying 'Bingo!' a second time. “My husband is 83 years old, Sonny. I can’t see him in theses but…I can surely see you in them. “Surely you can’t?” I asked dumbfounded. Shirley thought I said Shirley not surely. “Shirley can.” added Shirley with a shit-eating grin. The translation of her reply is Yabba Dabba Do on Centrum Gold. Her daydreaming worried my manhood. Surely by now I had wished her name wasn’t Shirley. Heck, I wished they would stop calling me Sonny. Shirley may have been recalling Honeymoon 1926 in Niagara Falls a little too fondly. If you have never seen two 90 year old women’s eyes simultaneously glaze over, it’s an awkward moment especially for a man cornered in the underwear section of a department store. The moral of the story is never let old women stop you briefly.


January 11, 2005

Punk'd by the Locomotive Called Ego

The other day I punk’d myself and I am not too ashamed to admit it. Although it has taken me a couple of days to sit down and write about it, it is actually hilarious when I think about it now. After all, the locomotive called ego sometimes needs derailment. Allow me to digress to setup the punk’d scene. In the last few months, I have spoken with numerous people in the media from newspaper reporters, to cartoonists, to book publishers, to museum curators. My life teeters on the brink of the lifestyles of the not rich but infamous.
On the way home from work, I noticed a long distance number logged into my unmanned cell phone. I did not recognize the number of whomever had called me. I thought nothing of it until I got home from work and heard the phone ringing. I answer.
“This is Sony Pictures. I have been instructed to ask for your fax number to send you a contract immediately.”
“A contract? Oh my God!” I regained my composure but only for a moment. “Who is this really?”
“This is Mr. Smitterling’s secretary, the Vice President of Something or Other with Sony Pictures.”
“Okay okay. I love Sony Pictures! My fax number is my phone number. I’m going to have to get off the phone for you to fax that over. It’s the same phone line.” I am talking a mile a minute at this point.
She adds, “Okay, after we hang up, I’ll send you the terms and conditions.”
“What am I agreeing to? What do you have in mind?” Thank God I didn’t say it outloud but I’m thinking full length motion picture if not mini-series. My voice began to cackle. The last time nerves compromised my voice quality was while filming for the TV show Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
The secretary’s voice assumed an uninviting tone when she explained, “It’s not what you are agreeing to it’s what Sony has agreed to.”
Yikes! That is when I remembered sending Sony Pictures correspondence a week ago. I asked for non-exclusive reprint rights to what in show business they call a “screen grab” of my appearance on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Sony was getting back to me. I had completely lost sight of the fact that Sony Pictures is the parent company of Ripley’s. Dang, I was heading over to make-up and wardrobe when I realized I had punk’d myself! Chug-a-lug-a-choo-choo.


January 09, 2005

Rocks in your head need not be used.


Rock Tumbler, A Cliffhanger for Man and Mother Nature

Santa Claus, in his infinite wisdom, brought my son a Rock Tumbler science kit. For all you Bill Nye the Science Guy fans out there, please read the cautionary labels – contains functional sharp objects. It is not recommended for children under eight years of age or apparently adults who supervise them. I have had better times at a flea circus. They think of everything. Rock Tumbler comes with rocks included. Why not? The pampered couch potato youngsters of America might not know where to readily find rocks. Kids would have to venture outdoors to know that much.
If anyone is still on the edge of a cliff wondering how rocks are made, listen here. I have no idea what Consumer Reports might say about this toy but this little plug-in contraption turns rocks placed in a barrel at 50 revolutions per minute. A junior cement mixer, it replicates and accelerates the actions of water, air, and sand pushing on rocks until the besieged become real smooth operators. I don’t suppose jewelers and gemologists are buying these things in droves. I only have Santa Claus to thank. Man’s galvanized process takes only days for what Mother Nature labors in a thousand years. My position is that we should leave well enough alone. If we trace this invention’s grass roots, I am sure we will unearth an individual with ties to an electric company. This science experiment takes four days of ungodly noise pollution and electricity to smooth a rock! I have seen better and quieter work on prison chain gangs. After a night of restless sleep, due to hearing an endless landslide transverse a mountain, I got-up and relocated the science project to the abyss of the garage. Even though the trash cans were due east, I put Rock Tumbler on my work bench and plugged it in. The irony is that I nearly tripped over a dozen dusty bikes, scooters, mopeds, and skateboards to get there. Nevertheless, the contraption started up right away, its gears grinding and turning the kilowatts upward on my electricity bill.
“That ought to drive the mice to insanity.” I told my wife upon re-entering the house.


January 06, 2005

A symbol of what?


Automatic Writing Symbol

If anyone knows what this symbol represents, please post a comment. This symbol keeps turning up in my life and its mystery has been haunting me for 25 years. A symbols website was not a resource. I am hoping somebody finds my posting in a Google search and knows exactly what it is or what it represents. The criminally insane need not apply but I’ll take any solid reference to mythology, hieroglyphics, or Stonehenge.


January 04, 2005

Steven Wright, Wright on the mark with comedy.


The Wright Stuff

Many of you know me for my warped sense of humor. Those who don’t know me are spared the pain. My favorite comedian is the improbable Steven Wright. His intellectual humor with a deadpan delivery is delayed brilliance. He earned an Academy Award for film writing.
I had the pleasure of seeing Steven Wright perform live a couple of years ago at the Scottish Right Auditorium in Collingswood, New Jersey. I felt neurons firing and connective brain tissue growing deciphering the punch lines. His comedy follows the pattern of stoic joke, a delay, then full-bodied laughter. My wife said it best when we were leaving the theatre following the performance. “My brain hurts.” Anyone who can get me to look at something differently has my utmost respect and accolades.
A decade before I even heard of Steven Wright, there was a time when I used to send away my jokes to first tier comedians who paid hack writers like me per joke. I said “like me” because I never got paid for a single joke. Johnny Carson and Joan Rivers you could have made something of yourselves.
Recently, I ran across an old doodle pad of jokes and decided to include ten randomly chosen jokes here. The batch is almost an unwitting tribute to witty Steven Wright. No wonder I admire the comic. Since I don’t have Steven Wright’s patented delivery, I must keep my day job as a social worker. No matter. Long ago, I decided I couldn’t be a stand-up comic because I have bad knees and would need a chair. 1) Curiosity killed the cat but tapeworm and sour milk didn’t help either. 2) People who live with rocks in the heads don’t throw glass at houses. 3) Whoever invented the cement mixer had to be a concrete thinker. 4) I got narrowly beat golfing an old geezer who had a heart attack. He picked up a stroke on the seventh hole. 5)I once slept with a woman before I even knew her name. Afterwards, I asked her name. She playfully said, “Guess” I said, “Give me a clue.” She says, “Well I was named after what I do best. I said, “Glad to meet you Mona.” 6)Moses seeing the burning bush sojourns up Mt. Sinai to meet with God. High atop the mountain Moses says “I have seen the sign but why the burning bush O Lord?” And God said, “Let there be light.” Moses replied, “But I wanted Bud Light not Bush.” 7) What do cannibals eat when they show up late for dinner? They get the cold shoulder. 8)A political prisoner went on a hunger strike to protest his mistreatment. The prisoner was surprised how hard life in the fast lane was. 9)Pollution and urbanization have caused the name change of a major college in California. UCLA…but only on a clear day. 10)Two scrappy wash rags got into a fight. It was dead even until one threw in the towel.


January 02, 2005

To put a price tag on tsunami water isn't going to be easy.


Prayers Before Tsunami Water Sells on Ebay

Before the first vial of tsunami water sells on Ebay for $12.99, I feel compelled to discuss humanity. The images of the Indonesian tsunami’s devastation are unprecedented. A quarter of a million people could be lost when it is all said and done. A quarter of a million people! That is as cataclysmic of a world event that I can bear in my lifetime. I am not a doomsayer but the tsunami has raised questions in me that tear at the fabric of my being. Why is it that the most abominable natural disaster in the history of the world in terms of human lives lost hasn’t garnered the media attention it deserves? I do not know.
Did the earthquake and tsunami strike at an inconvenient time when Christians were unfurling white doilies on the dinner table at Christmas or the world prepared to indulge in a blitzkrieg of alcohol on New Years Eve? I do not know.
As a nation, America stands proudly at the forefront of relief efforts underway but how come many of its citizens, in part, act so insulated from the devastation? Is the insulation a result of the distance between us and the effected Indonesian countries? Can it be explained in terms of miles? More media attention was devoted to the terrorist attacks of September 11th yet the loss of life pales in comparison to the number of people just drowned in the Indian ocean. Aftershocks must be waning because the story is barely front page news a week later.
Maybe the tsunami cannot pang deeper into our consciousness because this wasn’t man’s doing. The tsunami can be explained in terms of an accident as the result of mother’s nature fury. There seems to be an inherent emotional discount if Mother Nature is the perpetrator but a bottomless culpability if man creates his own malevolence. Compare the human loss in the holocaust verses The Black Plague. The first image to blame for the holocaust is dictator Adolf Hitler. Try that little brain teaser with The Black Plaque. The poster child for The Black Plague is…non-descript and anonymous. Rightly or wrongly, evil can be embodied in a way that mother nature can’t find sponsors.
This explains why we were inundated with round the clock media coverage of the OJ Simpson trial and the Scott Perterson trial? Why did people get so emotionally invested in the horrific story of the desperate lady who eviscerated an unsuspecting pregnant woman for her unborn baby then showed off the stolen infant to her pastor? I believe it was because goodwill to others got lost on the road to Wicked. One life is as precious as the next but we may be talking about a quarter of a million people wiped off the planet. Evil seizes headlines while Mother Nature’s fury seems to digest on less antacid. If OJ Simpson’s vehicle never ran out of getaway gas, CNN cameras might still be following the white van on a live feed.
If you allow your soul to grieve for the tsunami toll – the lives lost and shattered, the orphaned children, the millions of homes leveled, waterborne disease, resulting famine, etc. what do you truly feel? I feel an all encompassing empathy and compassion God put inside me. If God bears the parenthood to his children’s feelings, is it a safe tenet to conclude God also weeps when we willfully do harm to one another single handedly or in world wars? Moreover, does God weep when his Mother Nature runs amuck?
Creationists believe God created both human beings and the heavens and the earth. Did God just set the earth and its parts spinning into motion? Like sand in an hourglass, are we left to our own devices and Mother Nature’s mercy? I do not know. Doomsayers, evil doers, and warmongers, take timeout out of our busy lives and pray for humanity. Let us pray.


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