Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Shakespeare, but not really

Sometimes when I'm bored, I reimagine some of the Bard's delightful works for shits and giggles. One thing I discovered about the man while wading around in his prose is that he was kind of a wuss. I hope the subject of all his gummy sonnets whacked him upside the head at some point because, dude, man the hell up and quit all the whining for God's sake.

Since I've been a horrible blogger lately, and would rather eat a cockroach than regale you with my mundane daily activties, please enjoy some Shakespeare - pilliaged, plundered and pulvurized.

Sonnet #18 (sort of but not really.)

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's Eve douche?
Thou art not feminine hygiene related, but prone to hibernate.
Less an appetizer than a delightfully arranged amuse-bouche,
served to distinguish the discriminating aggregate.

Accompanied by a complementing brew,
offered, no doubt, but for a rough-hewn glimpse;
a hacking approach to life’s existential stew —
by chance, or nature's changing course and whims.

Like a plate of olives or a crock of tapenade,
‘words be an equally simple tithe;
soothing under pretense to abrade,
and awaken where appetites hide.

So long as men can taste and have eyes with which to see,
So long lives this, and this, and this… and it gives life to thee.

(not by William Shakespeare)

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 117, recalibrated and reimagined

To make memories less keen, bitter sauces do our palates urge,
and prevent emotional maladies unwanted,
we partake to shun melancholy;  gluttonous, we splurge.

In sickeningly-sweet prose did I frame my meandering nattering;
and tired of apathy, found joy in understanding my neediness,
too unsubtle in my revelations, truth so often is unflattering.

Such robust devotion, did plainly illustrate my ills for naught,
and grew to faults assured, too many and too plainly seen,
carried friendly rapport to a tasteless state of drought.

Such reeking rank goodness is still an ill-fated flask
and thus have I learned, and find the lesson true,
such drugs can fell the interest of those uncomfortable with truth.

(not by William Shakespeare)

Sonnet #76 (Re-imagined, badly)

Why is my arse so lackluster and wide,
So determined to avoid any change?
Why, in these modern times, could I not coincide
a snazzy addition on this twin mountain range?
Perhaps a butterfly or a three word bon-mot; what shame,
to keep a canvas pure white as it goes to seed?
Such remorse! I would have myself to blame.
But if I ornament my tush, will regret quickly breed?
O, I know, my liege, I always ask these trifles of you,
And you patiently abide my foolish temperament;
So I guess what I’m asking with old words anew,
Would a newly-inked ass reinvent?
For I know my buns are quickly growing old,
and would appreciate being grandly extolled.

(sooooo not by William Shakespeare)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 which I rant all over you about "Entitlements"

en·ti·tle·ment noun -ˈtī-təl-mənt\

Definition of ENTITLEMENT

1: the state or condition of being entitled ; a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract

2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program

3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

Let’s just get this all out in the open, shall we? Because I like nothing more than a little brutal truth with my afternoon coffee.

Calling any one of our many social safety nets “entitlements” is a very basic way of trying to demean someone, because in your head you’re calling them a dirty, lazy bastard.

It’s also gross and says more about you than them, but that’s beside the point.

Today, that word is used very politically to frame an issue while being disingenuous in the process. Because those who use it—those who get their abridged, talking-pointed information from politicians with an agenda who have passed it on to others to impart from a studio somewhere, with jazzy graphics behind them and a ticker scrolling below—don’t want you to concentrate on the whole picture. They only want you to glom onto the aspects they think can ratchet up the rhetoric enough to get them into office… or get them higher ratings - respectively.

But, “entitlements” wasn’t always used as a bad word, nor was it applied in the way that it is today, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, take a quick second to read about the “spin” on “entitlements” and its social etymology.

See, number three in the above definition is the nasty stain people who use this word to malign are trying to get across – that most people on welfare, food stamps, unemployment and/or Medicaid are somehow lazy good-for-nothings who don’t want to work. But if you really care about being correct, rather than divisive, pull up Google and do some research regarding who actually gets some of these benefits (no, I won’t do it for you, you lazy, good for nothing) and you’ll find otherwise… unless you limit yourself to Fox News and their subsidiaries. (Pure, for-profit propaganda and they could give a witch’s tit about silly things like facts.)

However, be warned. To understand “entitlements” you have to understand the basic premise behind minimum wage, poverty, class warfare, political divisiveness, how someone gets into office, and what they have to do to stay there. So, whew… yeah. You have to know more than a little bit about a whole lot of shit to even get a glimpse of the entire picture.

Let me just say this… I have never met ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PERSON who relies on food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, or the like, who acted as if they were entitled to anything. Mostly they acted embarrassed. Ashamed. And that’s because certain politicians want it that way. Because it benefits their platform—while they, of course, kowtow to Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Pharma and god knows who else with their palm greasing and such, so that the richest of the rich can get the tax breaks they so richly deserve. One might effectively (and easily) argue that these are the real folks who think they’re entitled... but that’s a discussion for another day. (It should also be noted that these same folks are the ones who help get them into office.)

Of course, there are people who abuse all of the above programs, but is that a reason to shame the majority who aren’t, while simultaneously and drastically reducing or eliminating these social safety nets?

People also abuse alcohol, should we stop selling it? People abuse public parks and recreation areas by defacing things, graffiti, etc. Should we get rid of those altogether? People abuse Emergency Rooms and doctor’s offices to try and get pain meds when they really don’t need them, should we get rid of those medications altogether? How about people who use handicapped parking when they don’t need that, should we just not have those spaces available at all?

GASP! You know what people also abuse? Guns. Yeah, I won’t even go there, because you’ve either stopped reading by now, or you’ve pulled my little analogy together on your own.

Another thing. Please don’t tell me you’re a God fearing person and then malign a theoretical someone you don’t know and have never met but you just KNOW is out there (because a bobble head on TV told you so) and shame them because they can’t feed their kids, or themselves, because they’re a teacher who doesn’t make enough to survive but they’re working hard every day to make sure YOUR KID has a good education, or a returning Vet who can’t feed his family and get the mental health care he deserves and fought for… or any number of folks who are just trying to get by without being treated like third class fucking citizens.

How about the elderly in our midst? They who already paid into the system but are one of the main reasons for the growth of the Big Three “entitlements”  - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - which account for 71 percent of all government spending other than the third of the budget dedicated to defense.

Take a second to wrap your head around that one, budgetarily speaking – and then we’ll discuss how cutting food stamp benefits, or even taking them away altogether, will have any valuable effect on our budget. That’s like hacking an ice cube off a glacier and saying you’ve effectively altered its weight.

"We have dozens of federal entitlements and they go to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons, ranging from crop subsidies to student loans to unemployment benefits. While there are a lot of entitlement programs, only three are big enough and growing fast enough to have a real impact on the trajectory of government spending. (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) Over the past quarter century, these three major entitlement programs have accounted for more than 100 percent of the growth in real per capita federal spending and more than 100 percent of the growth of government as a percentage of the overall economy.

The growth in these programs has been driven primarily by the aging of the U.S. population. Over the past quarter century the number of Americans over the age of 65 increased at a rate of half a million a year. But the big story is what is happening now. Starting in 2011, the elderly population has begun to grow by a million and a half a year. That's three times as quickly as before and it's a trend that will continue in the decades to come.

One other fact is worth noting: Over the past 50 years we have brought about a remarkable transformation in the nature of retirement and the quality of life of our senior citizens. In 1959, more than 30 percent of seniors lived in poverty and only 25 percent had health insurance. Now, nearly all have health insurance and less than 9 percent live in poverty, the lowest of any age group. But providing these benefits has required a substantial commitment by the federal government."

What does this mean? Well, first off… you have Granny and Gramps to blame for a nice chunk of our “entitlement” woes. I urge you to go tell them that, right now. Tell them the paltry monthly check they get is just too much. I’ll wait. If Nanna doesn’t strangle you with her Snuggie®, or Gramps doesn’t poleaxe you with his four-footed cane, come on back and we’ll finish up this discussion…

Listen, I’m all for reform in any area where there is abuse. How about we start with offering a true living wage and keep behemoths like Walmart—the largest low-wage employer in the US—for whom many of their products are made outside the US by slave labor, thereby denying Americans even more shitty, low paying jobs—from fueling the need for these kind of government subsidies in the first place?

 How about we stop trying to intervene in messes that aren’t ours to fix and cut that goddamn defense budget a bit? And while we’re at it, how about making sure all military personnel get the health care they deserve without having to beg for it? You know, just for shits and giggles.

How about paying teachers what they’re worth? Teachers spend money, you know. Quite often on YOUR kids because their districts can’t pay for supplies. The more dough they have, the more they can support your children, while also stimulating the economy with more money. See, that’s how it works? The more money you have, the more you can spend, and the better off the economy is.

While we’re at it, how about we address poverty and how a lack of education and school funding in many areas only perpetuates things like violence, drug use, and unemployment? How, if we’re not prepared to educate our kids properly, we shouldn’t be bitching when they’re all working at Walmart or McDonalds and subsidizing their income by getting food stamps… or worse, being meth-heads, and/or ending up in the clink? Unless, of course, the only kids who deserve a good education are the ones who were lucky enough to be born in certain places…

How about we start enforcing penalization of employers who hire illegal workers because they’re offering paychecks so low, nobody wants the jobs but people who shouldn’t be getting them in the first place?

How about we take a look at oil subsidies and Big Pharma and medical related price gouging?

How about taking Wall Street and the banks to task for their part in our economic mess, and maybe see if some monetary restitution to America is in order? Let them plug some of the holes they gouged into the USS Titanic.

Make no mistake. A lot of those gouges that were made were far out of the hands of the average American. We The People never asked or approved of so much war spending. We The People didn’t turn bankers into burglars, We The People didn’t do a great many things to cause the economy to hit the shitter, but now that it’s come time to clean up the mess, We the People are the first ones to be lined up over the kitchen sink while Uncle Sam looms ominously behind us with a lubed up truncheon.

How about we try to look at facts and statistics, rather than baseless rhetoric, and understand that you can’t pull one thread out of the afghan and not address the other snags, without turning the goddamn blanket into a pile of useless string?

And finally, on a personal note, how about a little fucking empathy and less judgment?

If you’re one of the lucky ones who have DONE EVERYTHING ALONE AND NEVER ASKED ANOTHER PERSON FOR A DAMN THING, well… you’re a liar. Someone taught you to wipe your ass, make your way safely through a fire drill, donated some clothes that their kids grew out of, fixed your toilet/heater/car because you couldn’t afford a plumber/electrician/mechanic. Someone babysat your kid because you needed a break. Someone took you aside and taught you some lesson for which you are a better person. Someone walked you through your first steps at your first job, and maybe covered for you when you were late so you didn’t get your ass fired. Someone washed your clothes at some point, and someone even built that house you’re living in.

Someone put out a fire in your house, or stopped when you had a flat tire. Someone treated you when you were sick, someone read to you, someone told you that you were being an asshole when you needed to hear it, and another someone said thank you because you did something for them.

Someone left the pharmacy open an extra ten minutes after hours in order to fill a prescription because your kid was wailing in the car and they knew that their small act would make your night easier. Someone loaned you some sugar, or their car, or some money when you needed it. All of us have had a someone or two in our lives—I’d venture to say more than a few.

For the religious amongst ya, someone took you to church, preached a bible verse to you, maybe even baked you a pie, simply because they knew you’d like it. Someone thought you needed God, so they showed you the way.

Nobody, let me repeat that, NOBODY has gotten to where they are today all by themselves. You’ve all had family, friends, teachers, and yes, sometimes the government, lend you a hand along the way. If you’ve never been unemployed, disabled, on welfare, or a senior citizen—excellent! But I guarantee you, you’ll be at least one of these very soon…

Final thought and it’s a snarky one because you already hate me by now, anyway:

I hear tell that some Jesus fellow had an interesting way of handling the sick and hungry…

He cured and fed them.

***If you’re interested in how a couple of the Big Entitlements might actually be the answer to the problem, check out this article by Ezra Klein – one of my favorite wonky debunkers. The reader comments are pretty interesting here, too.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Raven, defiled

NOTE: (This is what happens when a writer gets bored...)

The Raven, defiled.
—(not) Edgar Allan Poe 

Once upon a mid-day dreary, while I labored, weak and bleary,
I read a strange and curious roll of un-forgotten lore — (word-of-the-day TP)
With angst I prodded, nearly snapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As if someone gently rapping, rapping at the bathroom door.
"‘Tis occupied," I started. "Stop tapping at the bathroom door —
Aggrieve me with nothing more!"

How distinctly I remember, my angry bowel that bleak December;
Standing… spasm! Leaking! ‘fore it wrought its contents on the floor.
Horrified I prayed for morrow; vainly I then propped the window
As the stench increased my sorrow – anguish on my fickle core!
For a rare and radiant maiden would never, never poop upon the floor!—
Shameless, blameless… nevermore.

Presently my stool grew harder; hesitated, then no longer,
"Sir," wailed I, " -or Madam, for your patience I implore;  
But the fact is I was pooping, awfully, when you came a rapping,
So I blame you interrupting and your bloody tapping at the door,
That I was un-compacted when I did hear you" – here I opened wide the door;
Grudgingly, I looked at the floor.

Deep into the detritus peering, long we stood; me pondering, he leering,
Knowing what we’re seeing, no mortal had e’r done on a colleague’s floor;
Tho’ the silence was unbroken, I took his stillness as a token,
And the only word there spoken was his gasped indictment, "ON THE FLOOR?"
"Yes," I whispered, on an echoed sob did burble, "On the floor…" —
Ghastly, this, and so much more.

Back into the soiled chamber lurching, with the gut inside me burning,
As he retreated, feet tap-tapping, I sobbed, but somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I to God above, "this only happens at the Jersey Shore."
Let me think, then, what to do, with this ghastly refuse on the floor — 
How to deal alone with the pile of revulsion on this floor?
‘Tis bad luck and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the door wide, when, with invective did I mutter,
"Bring me bleach and Ajax, if you want this shite-splashed room restored!"
Not a comforting gesture made she; nor a minute of pity or compassion for me;
With nasty mien did the lady, stare in horror at her defiled bathroom floor —
Perched upon her Jimmy Choos just outside her dung-filled bathroom’s door —
She lurched and gagged, away she tore.

Thus I sat engorged and guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the foul what fiery reek ‘n havoc had seared unto my lower sore;
This and that I sat divining, with unsteady unease reclining
As the commode tank labored burbling and the john thusly bloated o’er,
Oh offense! while they downstairs, about my shame were gloating o’er,  
This too shall pass… ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the reek grew denser, perfumed with wholly unseen censure
Stung by the sound of foot-falls tinkling on the tufted floor.
"Shit!" I cried. "Why, God?  Why smite me? By the devil, you hath done mightily!"
I needed respite — respite and distraction, from what lies behind this door;
I shall flee this Tupperware party, and forget this unseemliness on the floor!"
Quoth my conscience, "Like some common crack whore?"

"Stop it!" said I, "I’ll clean it, still, if someone brings me a shovel!"
Whether he or she sent, or whether tempest tossed a bucket against the door,
Desolate and daunted in this deserted lavatory I canted —
Dragged the filled bucket and mop inside on haunches—alone, I shut the door.
"Is there – is there bleach in this bitch? – tell me – tell me ‘fore I pour!"
Quoth my conscience, "OH, JUST POUR!"

"Mop it?" said I, "By odor defiled – mop I will, turd clods and deviled-swill!
But by that son-of-a-whore that bends above us – I’d rather it be blood and gore!"
Such surfeit, sorrow-laden exudation, sloshing, slipping, sliding, "Fuck me!"
You shall not break this sainted maiden with a mere fecal storm on the floor —
Scrape and squeegee with bare hands, I’ll attack this shit-storm that I alone bore.
Quoth she outside, "OPEN THIS DOOR!"

"Begone you who would pity me still, faux friend!" I shrieked, down-sliding —
And shit! - Get thee back into the pot and take the to the Plutonian shore!
"I’ll leave no brown plume as a token of that which lie polluted and now broken!
Leave my pitiful-ness unspoken! – quit the haranguing banging on the door!
Take a break from how you mock, and move thy form far from the door!"
Quoth my judgmental conscience, "Bloody, bloody bore."

And the woman, never flitting, still is fretting, still is fretting
On the spiky heels of Choo just outside her cunny poo-chamber door; 
And tho’ I’ve now done all the cleaning of a demon’s that is teaming,
And the light o’er the commode now gleams unsoiled reflections on the floor;
My soul knew I’d ne’r surmount the shit embedded in the grout upon on the floor
It shall be lifted – nevermore!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Musings on Menopause and Public Farting

Nashville to Cleveland

   What really got me were his shoes. I sat on a plane, staring out a rain-dappled window at a kid who couldn’t be more than twenty. He was wearing one of those fluorescent yellow vests and held up two orange batons in an X formation over his head, presumably giving some signal to the pilot.
  What are these people called, the baton toting people directing airplanes on the runway? I should Google that at some point.*
   But I digress…

   So, the shoes on this kid (thick soled black sneakers) were untied. Both of them. Here we have a fellow who’d been tasked to do whatever it is one does within the context of getting an airplane off the ground (while holding orange batons) yet he didn’t have the where-fucking-withal to tie his goddamn shoes. The black laces flopped around on the tarmac as he did his arm acrobatics and pointed his batons here and there. Something about that brought me to tears though, if pressed, I couldn’t tell you what, exactly. I sat there dabbing the pads of my fingers into the corners of my eyes, catching the tears before they had a chance to make their pathetic trek down my cheeks and alert my fellow passengers to my sudden onset of what the fuck is going on?
      Don’t ask where the tears came from or even their cause. These days they arrive suddenly and unbidden, for reasons that can be attributed to anything from a pile of dirty laundry or a Hallmark commercial to the fact that there’s a diminutive probable psychopath in North Korea who would gladly toss a nuke our way if he got drunk enough one night and was feeling frisky.   
    So with regard to the sudden waterworks, there’s no rhyme or reason. It’s just hormonal insanity in the form of unwarranted facial precipitation.
   I think it’s probably time to check into some sort of herbal something-or-other because this debilitating heaviness that’s suddenly taking up residence over my heart every twenty-eight days or so* suggests I’m sauntering up to full blown menopause with all the finesse of Jason Voorhees spooning someone’s eyes out with an ice cream scoop.

*When Mother Goddamn Nature doesn’t see fit to arrive ridiculously early (or horrifyingly late) with the blood and the crankiness and the existential What the hell does it all mean and why the fuck am I so damn hot all of a sudden?

     All these fermenting emotions were syncopated to my throbbing pulse as the bitch sitting across from me fingered her iPhone well after the stewardess made the ‘No Electronics’ announcement, so now I should probably research whether being peri-menopausal is sufficient justification for any negative action attributed to it… you know, for when the bitch decides to become litigious. Because her goddamn phone was bouncing down the center aisle of the plane before I even realized I’d snatched it out of her hand.


  Apparently blind rage takes no pause and I suddenly have zero fucking tolerance for fuckers who can’t follow a simple goddamn direction IN THE NAME OF COLLECTIVE COMMON DECENCY.

  Note: The above didn’t actually happen but I could see it happening and was seconds away from making it happen, so I’m taking metaphorical license to get my point across.

The point is this: The intent was there. Oh so bloody fucking there… Luckily my sanity hasn’t completely eroded. Just yet.
      I think it’s safe to assume none of this is going to end well. I can only hope it will prove to be a mildly amusing hormonal transformation.

  *Another note: I’ve been informed the airport employees who wear bright vests and wave the batons are called marshallers or rampies - short for ramp agents.


Connecting flight; Cleveland to Grand Rapids

        I’d like to know from what kind of socially retarded burg you must have been spawned to assume it’s perfectly acceptable to fart on a crowded airplane.
…repeatedly over the course of one hour and thirty-eight minutes. Seriously, what makes some idiot say to himself, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna let this puppy burble out of my pucker into the faux-leatherette of seat 14A as I casually peruse the Sky Mall catalog.’
         The Sky Mall catalog — we’ll get to that ridiculousness in a minute because I’m still trying to wrap my cranium around who it is that conceives and raises the cretin who eventually matures into an airplane farter. Who are these fucks of nature and why isn’t Piers Morgan doing an in-depth interview alongside a statistic-toting medical (or mental health) professional about the nasal affronters in our midst?
The fact is, some of you people are busy raising little people who will one day grow up and think it’s perfectly acceptable to fart just anywhere, willy-nilly.
      Listen, I get it. Farting is necessary. Sometimes the only option in public is to let it slide out and hope for the best, particularly when it’s an out-of-your-control type scenario. We’ve all been there. But I’m a human being with average bowel activity and I know it’s possible to stifle such an urge should the physical need arise. Where I draw the line is infringing on the right of another in close proximity to enjoy anything other than my stench-ridden gaseous discharges.


Grocery store farting: Okay, I’ll give you that one. The aisles are big and your victims have the means, motive, and opportunity to get the hell away from you.

Elevator farting: Unacceptable under any circumstance other than you actually wanting to torture your fellow passengers — because there’s no elevator ride in the history of mankind that's so long you can’t hold your fucking air. Seriously, how far you going, mate? Twelve floors? Buck up, tuck it up, then let it slide when you exit. I recommend walking fast and finding a secluded spot because it’s gonna feel so good, an orgasmic moan will emanate from within you — one to which you’ll be entirely unable to do anything but yield.

Open-air surroundings: Absolutely. Let your ass gasses fly.

In the company of friends and family: No problem. They should love you despite your internal stench and in this case, knowing the stinker makes it bearable (even charming in an I-love-you-in-all-your-humanness kind of way) to the stinkee.

Airplane farting: Fucking unacceptable! I can’t get away from your stink, man! (Or woman… I wasn’t able to pin down the sex of the putrid perpetrator on my plane but I’m well aware that women are as prone to the natural funk of humanity as men. I wouldn’t wish my personal gassy prowess on anyone, I assure you.)

  So yeah, we’re all allowed those occasions when there’s physically no choice. But I’m beginning to believe there are some who take sadistic pleasure in regaling others with the malodorous byproduct of their digestive process. 
     It’s like they’re daring others to call them on it! You know who I’m talking about, don’t act like you don’t. We’ve all encountered these offenders and if you say you haven’t then you’re probably one of the offenders in question.
     I ask you this, kind (and possibly stinky) reader: How would you like it if I held the strap of my purse, reared my arm back and smacked you in the head with it and its fifteen pounds of various and sundry girly shit? Because that would have the same basic effect as you projecting your putrid ass-gas in some innocent bystander’s direction.  
  So, here’s the take-away from a hormonal, pre-menopausal female: If I love you, I’m happy to receive you in all your foul-smelling glory — but if I don’t know you like that, please keep your stench to yourself.

  When in doubt, don’t let it out.  Consider this the Eleventh Commandment.

      Now to the Sky Mall issue: What the actual fuck?
      You’ve seen this thing, right? It’s a catalog shoved into the seat-backs of airplanes and if you didn’t have the presence of mind to bring an e-reader or mp3 player are forced to peruse to keep from mentally harping on the fact that you’re just one Swiss Army knife wielding terrorist or bird-in-propeller away from death by fiery jet-fueled inferno.
     What I don’t understand is who its target audience is, this odd little catalog. Who opens up this thing and says, “Yes! I must have the iGrow™ helmet immediately because it will help me achieve thicker, fuller looking hair in weeks – Guaranteed!”
      ($695.00 + shipping and handling)
     Or, “Boy howdy, I’ve always wanted to get me one of these here Portable All-In-One Sun-Tracking SunSocket™ Solar Generator’s!" 
      ($1499.00 + shipping and… are you fucking kidding me?) 
    "I guess I’ll jot this info down and order me one just as soon as we touch down in Dulles and the pilot turns off the Fasten your Seatbelts sign!” — which is now the universally understood signal to passengers that we can collectively power up our iShit.**

**Take a fucking hint lady on United Airlines economy flight 5728 Thursday evening who wouldn’t deign to follow a simple instruction and apparently thinks SELFISH ANARCHY SHOULD REIGN.

Anyway… whatever. Not even sure where I was going with all this. I guess, perhaps, don't fart in public unless you have to... and beware of females embarking upon the joys of menopause. I’ve been experiencing a disconcerting amount of memory loss lately and I don’t even have the energy to end this tirade with something pithy or meaningful.
Send chocolate.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

If you gotta write a video eulogy, let it not suck. ~Confucius, probably

I rarely cry anymore. When I popped out two kids, the first thing that leaked out after them along with the amniotic liquid was my timidity in times of import and my outwardly emotional side when the shit hits the fan.
Oh, I’ll yell. I’ll gasp… I’ll get pissed. Maybe I’ll even make a joke. But I won’t fucking cry. I’m the rock and rocks don’t cry. I learned pretty early on in my parenting life that the people around me didn’t like it when I cried. They got white-faced and nervous and had no idea how to handle it. So I don’t let them see it much. When the rock feels shaky it hides in the bathroom, chokes out a couple sobs and then pulls it the fuck together.
 Methinks this has a lot to do with my Nanna’s DNA.
Concetta Angelina Morizzio Stec; 4’10, emotional powerhouse, I rarely saw her cry. Oh, she could curse a blue streak in English and Italian. Until he got sick with prostate cancer later in life, Nanna’s favorite term of endearment about her husband, my Poppie, was The sonofabitch.
My grandmother was one of my favorite people in the world and her spirit is irreplaceable. She died on Monday March 11, 2013, just after 5a.m. Her loss has left a small hole in my heart, though the memory of her laughter and antics will continue to echo inside me forever. She is one of the reasons I am who I am— I didn’t learn it from a cliché, I learned it from my grandmother; laughter is a powerful inoculation against everything in life that ails you. She gave me that because she lived it, and I will be forever grateful.
About 14 years ago, I got my first video camera and spent as much time taking footage of her as I could, even though there’s no movie in the world that could fully illustrate the character she is in real life; a delightful little Italian lady prone to the use of malapropisms…

She calls Neosporin neosperm, and once announced to a packed theater during a showing of the movie Gigli that, “I never liked the sex. Too messy and then you have to douche.”
 Why did you pay good money to go see Gigli, you might be asking yourself? Nanna picked the movie — that’s the only explanation I have because aside from the slightly interesting vagina monologue in the middle, my recollection of the event is that it was one-hundred and twenty-one precious minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
        One year, we planned a birthday celebration for Nanna and decided to kill two birds with one stone, scripting an idea for a short film that ended up requiring a bit of improvising. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, not much is sacred in my family.
      Nothin’ says lovin’ like being made the butt of a deliciously inappropriate joke for their birthday and having it posted on one of the most visited video sharing websites. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Nanna was seventy-nine at the time and in retrospect, we could have given her a heart attack. But that’s not what we were thinking about when we called the funeral home and inquired about purchasing a cremation urn identical to the one that housed my grandfather’s ashes.
         Poppie and his prostate cancer had gone the way of the ash two years previous and we were movin’ on. C’est la vie.    No need to wallow in grief, it’ll find you again soon enough. Steep in it for a few seconds - a week, tops. Then move on.
       When we arrived at Mom’s and got settled in, we headed to the back porch to sit around chewing the poo while Mom gave Nanna a perm. The first fifteen minutes of the conversation were all about toilet paper. (My grandmother has preferences, much like her great-grandson, Jake. She likes very soft, pricey toilet paper. Months earlier, she’d been forced out of her trailer in a Florida retirement community due to an impending hurricane and had to stay with my Aunt JoAnn. They fought the entire time about the lack of appropriate toilet tissue.)
      The next morning, after a nice breakfast, Mom put the wooden box into a small duffel bag and set it at the end of her dock by the lake. We lured Nanna out on to the dock and Resi held her hand, just in case she got too close to the side. We didn’t want her going into the water, since she can’t swim. Killing Nanna on her seventy-ninth birthday wasn’t the plan. Giving her ticker a little jolt was. My step-father took me out on the water in a small aluminum boat, so I had a front row seat from which to film.
        As Resi pretended to show Nanna a turtle in the water, Mom snuck around, removed the box from the duffel bag and prepared to toss it into the lake.
         Resi feigned confusion, “Mom, what are you doing?”
         This got everyone’s attention.
         “What’s that?” Nanna asked.
         “I’m gonna’ throw it in the lake.”
        JoAnn, seeing the box and not in on the plan, went for Mom…
          Okay, so here’s where the short film portion of our little escapade went south. Mom chucked the box and it landed a mere three feet away from the dock and bobbed in the water.
       Nobody said anything for a long time, awaiting Nanna’s response.
      “That’s not your father,” she said, rolling her eyes.
      My aunt JoAnn, however, was a bit more gullible.
    There was a fair amount of yelling. This, set against the backdrop of me laughing from the boat as the camera jerked around, ensuring anyone viewing the video footage later would need a Dramamine or two. Kind of like The Blair Witch Project.
       I’ll let you watch the video to see what happened… Nanna yelled at Mom for making JoAnn upset, while Resi and I waited for the right time to spill the beans. Of course, we let the camera roll for a while first.
    “Okay, now go get the God damned box,” Nanna yelled.
    The script had flopped but we were bound and determined to get it right so after fessing up, Nanna and JoAnn decided to play along. I came in off the boat, found another angle and we prepared for take two. We’d use the footage from the beginning of the scene, up to the yelling, and then we’d improvise, adding more conflict. All good stories need conflict.
        Resi decided it would be funny if someone actually went into the water, and the rest of us decided she should be that person.
          Take two.
         JoAnn pushed past Resi and Nanna, tried to get the box away from her sister, and in the process, my sister ended up in the water. It didn’t occur to me till after Resi had joined the box that the lake was full of snakes and alligators.
     “Get out, get out. There’s snakes in there. Get out!” I screamed from behind the camera as my sister struggled to grab the side of the dock.
     Nanna, fantastic actress that she is, repeated her initial line without prompting, “Now go get the God damned box!”
       …add some editing and cheesy music and, voila; plenty of hits on the Tube.
       Nanna got a few presents that weekend, including an urn that matched Poppie's, and few memories she wouldn't soon forget.


     The following is my memorial tribute to her. I’ve spent the last few days wallowing in grief and today I realize I’ve steeped in it long enough. It’s time to be moving on. Nanna believed in God. I’m not sure I do, but in case one of the wisest women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing is right, and I’m just an idiot floundering in existential malaise, wherever you are…
I love you, Nanna.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Help @JournalismJunk get some new Junk! (BOOK GIVEAWAY)

I was trying to figure out a fun way to help raise more money for Dale Ray’s new liver, but all of the Twitter followers I contacted refused to send me boob pictures to raffle off.  Since mine aren’t fit for public consumption, that idea flat-lined pretty quickly.

Next, I gathered my kids together to help me make some crafts to auction off, but as I stared at the table loaded with dead batteries and cell phones, old shoelaces, empty ramen noodle containers, and glitter, my inspiration began to flag.

In a panic, I sent out more pleas for mammary inspired pictures, ensuring the fine ladies of Twitter that they could Instagram filter those puppies to Playboy-level exquisiteness. (Yeesh, they’ll DM pictures to any idiot with an @ when they’re drunk, but when it’s for charity, suddenly they’re touchy about the size of their areolas.)

Alas, it appears I have nothing but books and a lot of begging to offer in return for your donations. I’m happy to offer both.

Meet Dale Ray, aka @JournalismJunk. You can read more about him on his webpage at the National Foundation for Transplants.

What I like about Dale is that he’s a decent, God-fearing family man who happens to tweet about hookers. A lot. He’s raunchy. He’s also the author of one of my All-Time favorite tweets:

This is one of the reasons I enjoy him so much. I’m always wary of people who work hard at maintaining a pristine public image because those are usually the ones who have lots of skeletons in their closet – skeletons busy having sex with the family goat (or watching The Bachelor religiously). Which is fine if that’s your thing… but don’t sex up the goat at night (or live-tweet the insipidness of reality TV), then stand at the pulpit on Sunday morning reading from the book of Job while pretending nothing sordid has occurred in the interim.

(NOTE: This is not an endorsement regarding goat sex (and most certainly not of reality TV), although I do recommend reading Edward Albee’s play The Goat - or Who is Sylvia. Good stuff.)

Okay, forget the random boob pictures, questionable taste in television viewing, and goat sex. I’m gonna give away a couple hardcover copies of I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames. For those not interested in reading about my autistic kids, and things like the time Mom and I got taken off a school project after the superintendent found out we made Barbie porn, years earlier.* (*see video below) I’ll be happy to get you a copy of Waiting for Karl Rove or Rigor Mortis.

Here’s what you do:

1.  Go to his donation page at National Foundation for Transplants website and donate.

2.  You will receive a confirmation e-mail. Then e-mail me ( something from that as proof of your donation. (Anything BUT your donation amount. That’s between you, your God, your conscience and/or your checkbook.

3.   I’ll put your name into the hat for the drawing. At that time, if you want an e-copy of Rigor Mortis or Waiting for Karl Rove, just let me know what e-reader platform you prefer and I’ll e-mail you a copy for participating.

This contest will end on March 15th and I’ll notify the winners of the I Wish I Were Engulfed copies by e-mail. Let’s get this guy a new liver, shall we? This is America for God’s sake. Money should never be an issue when it comes to life or death.

“I beg of thee, give until it hurts to pee.” ~Shakespeare, probably