Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Time Machine

It's not possible to be with the ones we care about on Big Holidays, like this one, for reasons sad and diverse that range from misunderstanding to death.

I come from a Polish peasant family that made good in the New World. Thatched houses were replaced by brick and shingle. The food, though, stayed the same.

So, in an attempt to invoke the spirits of those gone and gone away, here's tonight's menu, all made by your truly, even if i didn't start off having any real idea of how to make it happen.

Pieorogies, potato and sauerkraut

Ham (no goose)

Pea salad

Unsweet sweet potatos

Sweet potatos for old time's sake

Onions and potatos

Fish, coconut encrusted

Red, white and chocolate ice cream

Smoked mozzarella

Spinach artichoke dip





Just missing one ingredient - you. Happy Christmas. You'll be remembered in every bite.

Be Of Good CHEER, Dammit!

You want proof of life? Here it is. I am quite alive, not enjoying standing in line at StallMart. I'm stuck amongst literally a thousand shoppers whose collective wish to jam through and out of this mega-store simply because, as one tired and resigned looking guy offered when i queried whether he was in line, "yeah, i figured like anybody else in here that because it was nighttime, the joint would be empty." What a singular world we live in, eh? It all stops for you and me, but mostly for me.

The registers are down. The massive flow of profits have abruptly stopped like menopausal menstruation, depriving HQ of a merrier XMas, but only temporarily. It's not as if any of these people are going anywhere. These folks are as committed to this queue as starving Somalis are to the World Hunger Project rice line.

The registers are now where in sight. A short, thin' black man is holding a spot in line in front of me while he coordinates and communicates by bluetooth and cell. "Just come to your left. Wait: did you back up? You should be able to see the GAME TRADE sign. Hullo? Hullo?" Abort, abort, abort!

I can see the register's shining beacon from my place in line, dim, but visibly indicating "10". We are moving now through disrupted and dishevled shelves littered with discarded wants and needs. Planter's Honey Roasted Nuts, in the 2 pound jar, a Conair XTreme Heat 75 second hair curler set, a two liter bottle of Minute Maid Lemonade are incongruously displayed along what's left on the jeggings display. Those are $3.50, if you can find one in your size. A burly guy scoots me forward so that he can assume his cart's place in line. More than one cart behind me is overloaded with a 32, 44 or 50 inch flat-screen TV. In the cart immediately ahead, having arrived and docked through the skillful guidance of Mr. Tiny Black Fellow, bears a 4€ Dora the Explorer 2 Piece cotton sleepwear set and an Oster 12 speed blender Deluxe.

I don't see: puppies, gingerbread men, eggnog, yule logs or even wrapping paper. Wait: scratch that. There's a cart loaded to overflowing being pushed by a seemingly good-natured Indian woman (she's wearing a sari and blue jeans) with exactly two rolls of wrap. She's going to need more, i'm thinking.

Still, where's that Dickensian patina, that "Zuzu's petals . . ." Moment that should be front and center at this very moment? Why do i smell cinnamon and mulled wine scents replaced by the odor of vomit, or is that coming from the in-store Subway's personal pizza output? Oh, yes, God, ech, that's it.

The wail of babies who know damn well that they're up too late echos off the corrugated steel ceiling. They don't want to be here anymore than i do. I'd rather be with you, sipping, nay, guzzling that mulled wine, watching the Yule Log burn, baby, burn. But that's not going to happen, is it. Nope. Trapped. Like a rat. Like a rat on the sinking ship of good cheer.

My feet are starting to hurt and. The line is moving. Hallelujah.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rage Against The Machine

I stopped at my local convenience store, a brand ubiquitous in New Jersey, before picking up my kid to drop her off at school. In the parking lot, there were the usual assortment of contractor's trucks with their owners sipping coffee and smoking, the fog of both combining in the chill morning air to make individually-sized clouds. I imagined that these men were tired at the early hour, contemplating the jobs they were going to do today and thinking about what was next. Their pickups and vans, variously festooned with ladders, buckets and gigantic toolboxes, steel and copper pipe, wire and wood, idled dutifully.

Inside, I stopped at the ATM. I usually carry no cash, instead faithfully relying on my bank card to provide for me and to also track my spending. Next to the cash machine was a lottery dispenser with four columns of five rows of tickets. A man was counting out a large quantity of twenties, oddly cheering himself on. He looked up. "Sorry, man," he said and moved his cigarettes, coffee and cash to the magazine rack. People are awful polite around these parts. I withdrew what I needed and as I walked to the counter, he was at the lottery machine, buying tickets, one after another. His version of a 401K, I thought.

When I got to the counter, I saw that the attendant was a guy I had seen last on Saturday night when I came down for cigs because I couldn't sleep and didn't want to run out. He was about my age, maybe a little older and very well-spoken. Behind the apron and cap could have been a former captain of industry, someone who took one risk too many in business or misplayed the office politic. Maybe he just got too old.

I'd been thinking about this guy for the last few days. This morning, I struck up some conversation. I asked him if it had been busy so far. "It's been about average, though post-election, one would think there's be more movement on the papers," he said, gesturing to the magazine rack which indeed had big stacks of newspapers. Most of the front pages either had images of deposed Democrats or victorious Republicans, whose hands were held high in salute. I nodded. On his hand, I saw he wore no wedding ring, but he did has another ring, gold, with a beaver motif. "MIT?," I asked, pointing to his ring. There was no one behind me in line, so I took a chance. He seemed to fold into himself and shortly answered, "Yeah. What can I get you?" I asked for my brand and said, "So, are the Republicans going to fix this job market for us?" He turned back with the read and white pack and seemed to brighten a bit. He said, "Not for people like us. Six ten, please." I gave him the cash and requested I also get back two fives. He wished me a good day and went into standby mode, ready for the next customer.

After dropping my kid at school, I wondered what his story was. MIT grad, a little past middle age, working nights at the Seven Chek: what phenomenal life event befell this gent? I went back to find out. His shift was ending and I asked if we could talk. He looked at me like I was crazy. I told him that I was a freelance writer thinking about on piece on the underemployed. He said, "Give me a few minutes," which I did. For the purposes of this piece, let's call the MIT clerk "Paul." He met me outside. I asked him how an MIT grad came to be working overnights at a convenience store in the northwest corner of New Jersey. On condition of anonymity, this is what he said: "I was an engineer with (company name withheld) and they just decided one day to ship a third of the design spots to India and China. They laid off more people last month. My department was wiped out. They said they wanted to increase competitiveness. So, they took the most experienced people they had and fired them - overnight." He emphasized the last word. He explained that, at his age, 55, it was virtually impossible to get employed. I asked if he thought retraining would help. "Retrain for what? I have all of the latest certifications. There's nothing more for me to learn at this point." So why not just collect unemployment until you can find something in the field? "My unemployment ran out and it just so happens that they (congress) didn't re-up (extend) it, so what should I do?" Did you think about moving? "I have a house here. We're renting out right now and staying with my wife's brother. It's impossible for me to just move." I apologized and thanked him for talking to me. I didn't tell him that what he had just told me made me very queasy.

Think about it: excellent education, excellent experience, excellent credentials, no work. And no prospects of work, except for Quik Eleven, maybe WalMart, if they loosened the hiring purse strings and did some seasonal acquisition of staff. But neither of these entities would be filling a position that required an expert engineer. And it isn't as if Paul doesn't want to work - he's working, but it's a waste.

If Paul's case were an isolated incident - maybe he just doesn't play well with other, you might surmise, though his resume says otherwise - it could be written off as sour grapes. But in the last ten years, more high-paying, skilled and expert technical jobs have either gone away or gone overseas than have been created. And the majority of those enjoying employment at that level in this country are between 25 and 40 years old. Further, according to Emy Sok, an economist in the Division of Labor Force Statistics, older people, once out of work, stay out longer than their below 40 counterparts, by as much as twelve weeks. And when they do find work, it's part-time or ex-career.

America is supposed to be globally competitive, but that apparently doesn't mean the utilization of the most powerful resource we have - brain power. "Our most important asset is our people," say the corporate talking heads. They fail to mention that those "people" are likely enjoying a chauffeured commute to work from their luxurious homes just outside of Mumbai or Shanghai. They leave out the part where those resources are trained right here in America where, on graduation, they go home, back where the Good Life is actually achievable. And that's our newest export: The American Dream.

Our government has made Paul's plight a surety by encouraging foreign corporations to "invest" in the U.S. market and create jobs, but take their profits and the taxes that go along with them back overseas. These foreign companies aren't evil, just good business people. At the same time, newly-elected Republican Senator Rand Paul and his cohorts, like Alaska's Joe Miller and California's Meg Whitman variously oppose or question the validity of a Federal minimum wage. Connecticut's Linda McMahon, who spent an incredible fifty MILLION dollars or her senate campaign, and lost, by the way, didn't dispute the need to review the needs of business in terms of the minimum wage. Recently, at a National Independent Federation of Businesses event, she said, "I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them." And if they can't? Off with the heads of the workers?

I live in an area of the state that's pretty red. It's not uncommon to see confederate flag and "Impeach Obama" bumper stickers next to silver silhouettes of a girl lacrosse player on the back of a Town and Country or F-250. But I would like to doubt that my neighbours are secretly all militia members, running off to shooting practice just as soon at they drop little George off at Tae Kwon Do practice. Yet, there seems to be some confusion about how things like how government stimulus spending actually creates jobs that generate taxes, that keeps people from sucking up unemployment insurance resources, that helps to reduce home foreclosures that keeps taxes flowing into municipalities that rely on real estate taxes to fund operation like local schools, police forces and fire departments. That's a pretty straight line from A to B. Same thing with "Obamacare," which was, after all, passed by both houses of congress, both Democrats and Republicans. The health care reform is meant to REDUCE health insurance costs by spreading out the risk. It's like going to a restaurant and equally splitting the bill, see? Your friend may be ordering lobster while you're ordering a hamburger, but one day, you'll inevitably be going for the surf and turf and the scales will be in balance. Also, your daughter can't be denied a life-saving liver transplant as was the case with seventeen-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan last year. Yes, she died. The real Death Panels? Could it be the health insurance companies?

Those contractors sipping their very hot coffee outside where Paul is working because he has to, career essentially done, will benefit from more government, from Obamacare and job creation. Yet, they oppose it. Why? Because they don't want to be told what to do? Republicans have their daily talking points and Fox telling these folks the way it's going to be. The Democrats, unwilling to offend anyone, say nothing. Change is coming, say the newly victorious Republicans. In the meantime, Paul's making his own change - two-fives-for-a-ten at a time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Civics Lesson

"Too many Americans feel powerless against the influence of private lobbying groups and the unbelievable flood of private campaign money which threatens our electoral process."

Jimmy Carter said this thirty years ago in a State of the Union address to the nation. In many ways, and I'll let you do your historical research on your own time, the current administration's plight parallels what was going on in this country in the late seventies. Carter was a Democrat, too.

Did you know that seven million jobs were created during Carter's four years as President, mostly due to his fiscal restraint and stimulus plans? Yes, I said fiscal restraint - that means a Democrat vowed to, and achieved, government-spending shrinkage without affecting so-called entitlement programs. In fact, he created programs that created jobs and training opportunities for millions of Americans. In fact, there's a long list of accomplishments from that administration - the peace process which made Camp David famous, Federal funding for education was increased by 75%, a national health plan was proposed, the minimum wage was brought up to be in line with reality and the government's civil service system was reformed for the first time in the 20th century. Carter faced one crisis after another - oil and gas shortages, crippling inflation and a population so disinterested in voting that only 1/3 of the population that could vote even bothered to go to the polls in 1976 and at the midterm.

Between the Nixon/Ford and Reagan presidencies, we had four years of Democrat influence. Did the Dems open up to the public at large and publicize their leadership and the progressive programs that were strictly Democrat ideas? You bet they didn't. Just like now.

The difference today is that the average non-ultra-rich American operates under the illusion that making a choice of the lesser of two evils is the way things are supposed to work. Just like when they're out of Kraft Slices at the WalMart, there's always Velveeta. As it stands, if political in-activism continues on the trend of "they're out of that'" there won't be any cheese, not even the Government kind.

Isn't it far more effective to initiate change from within, as evidenced by the Teabaggers current success in forcing the GOP away from the center? So-called Tea Party-endorsed or -sponsored candidates are running exclusively as Republicans. The pressure from the right is on, supported 24/7 by "fair and balanced" coverage and, as usual, the Dems are silent. Where are the Merlot-sipping hipsters that are needed to move the flabby Dems to action? Getting ready to vote for some other powerless entity to make a point, it seems. Unfortunately, to the victor goes the spoils and a big win by the GOP in this midterm will yield a double mandate: they will get their way so that the ultra-rich can get ultra-richer, ready to fund the next bashdown of the Everyman and the "shrug" agenda of the ultra-right will get a foothold here. Would it not be better to try to retain some legislative control by supporting the Dems now and THEN work the party over like a red-headed stepchild, but from within? Wouldn't it make sense to corral the party power that can move sensible, humanist agendas forward and can win elections with candidate of YOUR choice?

One can't be an activist without being active. Democracy is not only about making a choice, but also making the changes that make more choice possible.

So, yes, please vote, but make the vote count. 'Cause, ya know, the Rent's Too Damn High!

While we're on the subject, let me say one thing about New York: Richard Ravitch, the state comptroller recruited by Governor David Patterson who has a long history of dealing with fiscal crisis in intelligent ways for government, said that when he got to Albany, he was shocked not only by the fiscal condition of the state, but by the attitudes of the legislators. Both sides lack the political will to be real. And without getting the politicians back to earth, New York will simply run out of money. How do the politicians respond? They stall.

As an aside, I wasn't a Herman Munster, I mean, Kerry fan by any stretch, but only because he was far too reposing, much like the current state of the Dem Party. Bush versus Kerry in a fight at a biker bar? Put my twenty on the goofy guy in the Stetson.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Alive!

I just spent the better part of two hours getting freaked out, yet again, about the bedbug problems that have been making headlines in the last few months. Even the frilly underthings at Victoria's Secret are game. It seems that not even the haughty Lincoln Center is immune to these disgusting bloodsuckers.

CC license by
Google returned 2,280,000 results for the search query "bedbugs." Yum. That's a lot of reading. Let's start at aardvark, meaning, at the very beginning, with the WikiPedia article. Let me summarize: they're disgusting. Unlike cute caterpillars that morph into beautiful butterflies and unlike the industrious and useful bumblebees that make our fruits and vegetables and pretty flowers possible and most certainly unlike the fierce and ninja-like praying mantis that rids us of other nasties, like flies and spiders, bedbugs exist only to SUCK YER BLOOD! Arrgh. I'm itching all over.

*So, I read further, itching and scratching all the while. About how they secret themselves in cracks and crevices, like my beautifully refinished hardwood floors, or in my pillows, mattress and boxsprings. How they lay in wait for the deepest hours of darkness to stealthily creep onto one's person and, with their "beaks," take three bites from his or her sleeping form. The three bites are so characteristic that they are termed by those in the know as "breakfast, lunch and dinner." Very nice.

I also read about the cost to "control" the critters, which can run into the thousands. You should know that without "final solution" insecticides such as DDT, banned here now, exterminators, excuse me, pest management experts, can only assure that treatment can be administered, NOT that the bugs will be eradicated. Lovely.

And I also read about folks' personal fights against these animals and have gleaned a variety of preventative methods that you can be damned sure I'll be applying in triplicate starting tomorrow. I have already crossed off my list any trip to the movies, despite the fact that I love the movies and am missing lots of stuff I really, really want to see. Christmas gifts will need to be solids only, no silks, leathers or polyesters. And when I travel, I stick to the top hotels because I know that they know that I know their reputations are on the line.

I feel better already. Still itchy, though.

Part of this paranoia has to do with having been bitten by something earlier in the year. It may have been a tick or it may have been a spider bite. The doctor could not tell me and blood tests were not positive for tick antibodies or whatever it was they would have looked for. I still bear a pencil-eraser-sized bruise on my thigh at the bite site, though and no one is quite sure why. Great, huh? I've been mouth-raped by an alien species.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to end. Those living in the city have to contend with cockroaches, waterbugs and,of course, the aforementioned tiny terrors. Out here in the country, we get everything else. At the moment, waiting for me to manage it, is the following:

Yes, I realize that you can't see anything but a light fixture, but I assure you that there is a beetle of unspecified capabilites warming himself near those 11 watt CFLs that glow with such inviting light. What to do? I could climb onto a stepladder and try to suck him up with my 7 amp Hoover, but I probably can get the nozzle into the fixture. And I just cleaned that darn lamp, too. I could take the shade down, being aware he will likely fly off, scaring the living crap out of me as I subsequently drop the shade, shattering it into a thousand deadly shards which will take hours to clean up, if I could even get all the glass. And, he'll get away. Might as well let it be-etle. Get it? Ah, ha, ha, ha.

The fight continues, but the bugs will prevail. They won't get my rotting corpse, however, as I have made sure to be toasted upon my demise. Take that!

*I absolutely hate the modern convention of adding "so" to the beginning of a new paragraph, as if the conversation had been going on all along and you, the new listener or reader to the schoolyard or bar-side group already in progress suddenly walked in or by and nearly, but not quite, destroyed the rhythm and pace of one heck of a ripping yarn. So, I consciously put that in there to annoy myself. Thanks. Oh, and stop using that hipster crap please, or I will eat your young.

Sears: Where Else?

Come see the softer . . . no, the squishy, maggot-ridden, rotting side of Sears!

Happy Halloween

Well, okay, it's not quite Halloween yet, but I do believe this cute kitty will brighten your day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Wee Update

For those of you that are dutifully following this blog, I salute you. I would also like to let you know that there are a good many pieces in the pipeline that are in various phases of write and rewrite, so hang tough, y'all.

I also have some "reader mail" that I plan to answer en masse, so if anything else is irking you, not that I actually care, but knock yourself down and sent me more comments and questions, 'cuz I can only manage enough fortitude to do it every three or four years. This ain't TV, byotch, so get off yer adz.

Thank you very much. I'm crushing your head, crushing your head . . ..

Breaking Bad, Right Here

First it was the Latino Robots invading my town, now it's Pastor Crankhead and his congregation of Methamphetamine Minions? Naw, man, see, we gotta stop this . . .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Sauté a al Justin

Please don't think I'm getting all Family Circle on ya, but I have a recipe for you that is quick, easy and quick. And easy.

See, when my kid comes to visit, I have to feed her something other than whatever Budget Gourmet is less than nine months old in my fridge. And, she's a non-red-meat-aterian, though she calls herself a vegetarian. Pork is out. So is beef and anything else that's "gross." I would guess that includes liver and onions and kidney pie. So, each time I need to cook something up, it's dilemma and trial and tribulation time. Well, my old Polish buddy, Justin, has saved the day, for today, at least.

Image glommed from
He says that he learned how to cook from the head chef of the S.S. Stefan Batory, a Polish cruiseship. Who am I to argue that as fact or fantasy? I do recall my mother poring over brochures for the ship when I was a wee lad. She never went aboard, so there's no verification from that quarter, either.

But he does know good food, especially Polish food, to which I am partial, and he has made a gift of this recipe to me. Here goes:

  • OVERVIEW: Cook stuff up in a pan and then eat it.
  • SPECIFICS: Will make enough Sauté a al Justin for six hungry Polacks
  • WHAT YOU NEED: Fire or alternate, manageable heat source, couple of good saute pans. I use Farberware heavy clad pans, myself.
  1. 2 pounds chicken breast, trimmed of fat, split and subsequently portioned into french-fry-length strips
  2. 3 small peppers, 1 each green, red, yellow
  3. 2 medium zucchinis, peeled or not, sliced across the seed
  4. 1 can of fresh mushrooms (I know this makes no sense - just do it.)
  5. A little sweet paprika, just for colour
  6. Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  7. Sea salt, any cheap brand will do, to taste
  8. About an eighth cup of soy sauce
  9. About a half-cup of tart white wine, NOT cooking wine.
  • STUFF YOU NEED TO SERVE WITH IT: Some kind of rice.

On a bit of oil, quite hot, sauté all of the non-chicken ingredients except for the zucchini and pepper until "golden" and then add the zucchini and pepper, heating the zucchini until golden but not soft. In a separate pan, on very hot oil, sauté the chicken with soy sauce until "golden" (again with the golden - oy) and then add the white wine and reduce for a few minutes. Serve with white or flavoured rice when hot.

There you go. Dinner tonight, allegedly in fifteen minutes. It better be good.

***UPDATE*** Nope, I did it wrong. One dinner guest politely and silently commented by pushing the chicken bits away from the rest of the meal. Too much teryaki, I'm guessing.


Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, photo Ujorge at en.wikimedia, CC
I've been using a new medication lately. I was told by my very careful physician that I might experience some "visual disturbances" but that it was nothing to worry about. In fact, I've enjoyed frightfully intense colors from time to time as if the Photoshop module in my brain has set saturation to maximum. It's the only pleasant side-effect, so much better than headache, nausea, muscle weakness and aching ovaries when, in fact, I'm a dude and don't have those structures as part of my physical make-up, at least, that I know of. Heh heh. Ahem..

Briefly, I thought that I might have to have the dosing adjusted. The other day, while walking to my car in an east Jersey parking lot, I heard a flock of birds ack-acking their way in my direction. When I focused on the source of what is a non-typical bird sound for the area, I saw a group of greenish feather-bullets headed right at me. They swooped upward and landed as a group in a tree to my left. I stopped dead and peered into the leaves to see if what I thought I saw was actually what I thought I saw. There they were, hacking away at the berries of the tree: parrots. Green enough up top to be almost lost in the still-leafy canopy of the tree but with grey-ish chests, or breasts or whatever it is that birds have. Parrots. Frickin' parrots. In New Jersey. In New Jersey? Wha?

If it had been one parrot, it could be an escaped bird, sure, but seven of them? Squawking and clipping the berries off the tree, they stayed for a while and I watched them, dumbfounded.

Naturally, I didn't have a camera at the ready. It seems that whenever something extraorinarily beautiful or amazing or frightening or news-worthy happens, I am sans lens. And with my reputation as a weaver of what-must-be-a-tall-tale-since-there-are-no-photos-to-prove-it, my sighting might not be believed, had I had anyone to tell. But, I swear that they looked like parrots and I swear that I saw them. I swear, I tell ya, thems was parrots.

I set out to discover whether I was experiencing a particulary severe distortion of reality. Could they have migrated from somewhere? Were they the descendants of pirate-owned runaway parrot-slaves who had somehow heard of the liberal tendencies of the North and pledged to rendezvous to survive al fresco, free as a bird, which they in fact were?

Having lived for two decades right in the path of the Atlantic Flyway, I would see all kinds of odd birds, that is, birds not typically seen 'round these parts, during times of their migration, but never parrots. My discovery was both fascinating and exciting and I couldn't wait to call the bird people at Cornell to announce my find. Perhaps it would be called capnmorganus misanthropicus? Not so fast, bud. Those birds were merely an aweigh team.

Photo courtesy Steven Baldwin,, used by permission

As it turns out, parrots, or rather, a particular species of parakeet called a Monk Parakeet or Quaker Parrot, have been hanging out in the New York area for a very long time. There's an excellent source of information about these very neato-cool birds to be found at Steven Baldwin's and you should visit this link for his very thorough explanation on how these critters may have been introduced to the area and what's happened to them since. Not as a second mention, the photos are really fantastic. There's also this article in the New York Times from 2008 about parrot colonies in Edgewater, NJ, not too far from the location of my personal encounter with the birds.

There's going to be a Parrot Safari in Brooklyn on November 6th, according to Wanna go? Contact Steve Baldwin at

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for curious critters. They're out there for us to enjoy and cherish.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is Lusting After A Red-Headed Mannequin Creepy?

I like the hat.

I Got My Eye On You

Flew down from New Yawk to stay at da Hyatt Key West. Pretty nice joint. We like it 'cuz deres plenny a stuff ta eat an' pretty much nobody bodders ya. Only ting is, we was hopin' to find some lady pigeons at da bah or da beach, but no luck. Some pretty gay-lookin' seagulls been checkin' us out, dough. Boids. Doity, stinkin' boids. Oh, well. Whaddaya gonna do? And this frickin' railin' is frickin' hot. Nice view, if I sez so myself. Fuggedaboutit.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Invasion Of Privacy

Dear Mr.Homeowner;

Although you may have seen me around, I would like to formally introduce myself. I am Mr.Robert Grandtail, son of Edward "Buck" Grandtail, of Number 1, Large Oak. For the four earth changes, you have been inhabiting the nest on my property that is set between my home and The Place Where Squirrels Are Made Flat. As you may know, I also recreate and make my living amongst the Elm, the Japanese Maple and the Southern Pines, or as I have come to know these trees are called by virtue of my research through WikiPedia.

I have tried to be a good neighbor in the hope that you would rise above your common human-ness and reciprocate the courtesy. It has become clear to me, not unexpectedly, yet, with some level of morose disappointment, that you are no different from the other furless freaks that have plagued my family for all memory.

Within the last fortnight, I have found myself very busy in the collection of foodstuffs meant to stave off starvation through the coming lean times. It has also been a rather difficult time for me in terms of Homeland Defense, as you have no doubt at least heard, having had repelled multiple incursions on my territory from gutless thieves intent on displacing me from my heritage and supplies stores. This has consumed a great deal of energy and has created an environment fraught with stress. The very last thing I need is another vector of pressure from any quarter. Yet, I find that you have insisted on perpetually insinuating yourself into my activities through unceasing voyeurism.

My father used to say, "good fences make good neighbours," As would apply to my complaint, I must now respectfully ask that you observe the spirit of this philosophy since I am unable to erect actual fencing being that I lack the necessary building permits and opposible thumbs. Kindly stop peering at me at all hours of the day and please do not distract me when I am engaged in fighting for my territory and for my very life.

If you care to reply, please wrap said note around either a peanut or chestnut of appropriate weight and loft it into the first ring of branches at Large Oak. I thank you in advance for your attention in this matter.


R. Grandtail

Dear Mr. Grandtail;

Thanks for writing to me and now that I am a name to put to the face, let me straighten you out on a few things.

First of all, you're on my property, not vice versa. I own the "nest," (which is called a "house," by the way, had you bothered checking this out in WikiPedia, you would know that, Dweebish McFartwit,) the land and, guess what? the trees, too, including the large oak that I have, frankly, been thinking of cutting down.

It takes a lot of gall to basically slink around for a year and then make what I would call un-neighborly demands from a person who is a complete stranger. And did I mention that you're a frickin' squirrel. So, yeah, if I seem pissed off, I am. I pay plenty taxes and don't need to be harassed by a tick-infested forest creature.

Up until now, I thought your antics were kinda cute. Now I understand that you're basically a furry bully and that you think by using formal and official-sounding language that I'll be intimidated by your puffed-up attitude. Well, all I'm doing is standing outside, drinking my coffee and checking out the crazy-ass squirrels. This isn't "voyeurism" and it's pretty fricking rude to suggest that I'm some kind of peeping Tom.

Check your attitude, bud, and we'll get along fine.


Lord and Master of the Tree You Frickin' Live In

Dear Manimal;

An attitude of indifference does not surprise me, being that you are a Man and therefore likely believe that all things of the earth are beholden to you. What is surprising is the utter lack of basic respect coupled with sheer hostility toward a small and, I might say, thoughtful fellow creature.

What you don't realize is that I have shown you respect and you have not returned the same in kind. I have not moved my home from Large Oak to the interior of your nest, though I am sure this would enhance my personal comfort as well as be highly attractive to a potential mate. I have not wielded my not inconsiderable influence over my fellow creatures to encroach upon your nest in any way that you might ultimately see as inconvenient. And, you will notice, that the shiny pod upon which you lavish such undue attention through the rubbing of its surface on a semi-regular basis, which I can only imagine is some sort of perverted stimulatory event, has remained unmarred by the output of my flying friends, to whom these pods are a favourite target.

Again, I must renew my demand that you keep your eyes to yourself and allow me to go about by business unmolested.


R. Grandtail

Dear Nutbuster;

You actually wrote me back? Maybe I didn't make it clear - you're a frickin' squirrel and I don't give a crap if you think I'm streaming your gay squirrel fights to YouTube. Let's get this straight: first of all, you're a frickin' squirrel and second of all, this is America and the law says that if you're in the public view, I can look at you, take your picture (see attached pic of you invading MY privacy by staring into my living room - who's the voyeur, now, bitch?) talk to you, whatever.

And you're frickin' threatening me? What? If I don't avert my eyes, your birdie friends are gonna poop on my car and you're gonna break into my attic? As to the second, go ahead - ever hear of an Exterminator? Merchant of Death, babee! And I won't let him use a HavAHeart trap. No - he'll be instructed to terminate with extreme prejudice. With the bird poop - whatever. You're bullcrapping me. You don't have any control over the birds anymore than you have over me, or over your squeaky little motor mouth.

Don't threaten me, even unintentionally, otherwise, I'll be off to the sporting goods store to score me a Wrist Rocket. Get me?


He Who May Determine Your Fate

Dear Fleshtard;

I see that you intend to return a friendly tap on the shoulder with a vicious slap in the face. My request is simple and perfectly reasonable. If you choose to behave like E. Coli, so be it. Reap the consequences.

R. Grandtail

Dear Squirrel A. Hole;

Very funny. Is it a coincidence that my car is covered in bird shit, that I all of a sudden have a giant spider problem, that, somehow, though I just paid 200 bucks to clean my gutters that they're now overflowing with leaves and nut shells and that skunks all this week have been walking out into the middle of the road, waiting, apparently, for a car to come by and crush the living stink out of them? I have reported this situation to the police who looked at me like I was crazy said, "why don't you just shoot him." And so, I will. Watch your back, bitch. This shit's gonna stop.

Meaning it,

The Terminator

Dear Neighbor;

In light of the recent invasion of poop-filled deer who have paved my yard with their black pearls of dung and have eaten every last bit of ground-lying foliage at a cost to me of thousands of dollars in custom landscaping, including the groups of mature hostas and every last fern in my shade garden, I am willing to admit defeat.

As a gesture of my goodwill, I am extending a peace offering in the form of a nice assortment of foods that, I am told by experts, you will find both delicious and nutritious. These strategically-placed caches have been protected from your competitors within special "safe spaces" that you can enter at will to retrieve what you want, when you want it.

I am hoping that this letter finds you in the best of health. Hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

Your Partner In Gaia

Dear Murderous Human Swine;

I am writing at the behest of my late father, the venerable R. Grandtail. It is my understanding, according to the forensic analysis, that you are responsible for his gruesome and untimely death. His blood is on your hands. Our home will now be thought of as the Killing Fields of Large Oak, amplified by the deception you levied in the form of a proffer of an olive branch. Instead, my noble Father was treated to "food" in fact made deadly by your minions through typically destructive human means, food so attractive that he could not resist, by his trusting nature and to his and our detriment, its appeal and did, by your urging, enter the metal enclosure which was set out with the intent not only of unlawfully imprisoning him, but arranged in such a way as to force him to slowly die without dignity in full public view. This was not an honorable death as would be befitting a gentlesquirrel of his stature.

Unlike my father, I am above resorting to reactionary tactics clearly meant to lure your victims into a confrontation. Instead, I have filed a wrongful death suit against you with the CAA, or Court of Animal Affairs. Since we do not subscribe to the biblical notion that man has dominion over animal, as if man himself were not an animal, the rules and laws that we have proscribed are binding and subject to enforcement in no uncertain and most final terms. I look forward to our day in court and expect that justice will be swift and whole.

With much gravity,

R. Grandtail, Jr., Esq.

Dear Junior;

WTF? I just got some bogus papers delivered to my door by a woodchuck who was pretty menacing, if you ask me, especially when he threw the papers at me and said, "You are served."

I'm not bound by your stupid laws, whatever those are. Your father was a dick and being that you are using the suffix "Esq." after your name, I assume that you're a lawyer, which makes you ten times the dick your father was.

My attitude to you is this - blow me.


Your Personal Jesus


County of Greene, State of New Jersey
First Circuit Court of Animal Affairs
Hon. J. Beaver, Presiding
In Re: Grandtail, et al v. Human Interloper

Be It Known To All Animals that in the foregoing action brought by the Estate of R.Grandtail, et al, of Large Oak, hereinafter known as the Plaintiff, with Robert Grandtail, Jr., Esq, representing the Plaintiff against Human Interloper, of Man Nest within the bounds of the property overlaid by Large Oak, hereinafter known as the Defendant, that the Plaintiff has duly served by certified means the Defendant with the Complaint and the particulars of the aforesaid Complaint and has been given the statuatory period as required by law to respond. The Court has heard the motions of the Plaintiff and given that the Court has no record of having received an interlocutory response, nor has the Defendant appeared before the court, the Court has hereby entered a Summary Judgement in favour of the Plaintiff based on the overwhelming facts within the case as presented as well as the Defendants failure to respond as opportuned by the Law and the Rules of the Court.

To wit, the Court finds for the Plaintiff as follows:
  1. Immediate Relief: The law provides for the immediate and permanent ejection of Human Interloper from his unlawfully constructed nest by any lawful means.
  2. Direct Compensation: Human Interloper is hereby ordered to pay the sum of twelve seasons of food adequate to provide for the descendants of R.Grandtail as this is in line with the period of time that he should have been able to provide for himself, his mate and offspring were his life not so brutally cut short.
  3. Additional Relief: Human Interloper is and shall evermore be the subject of Animal retribution so that none of his days shall be without the reminder that he is not only Man Amongst Men, but also subject to the whims of Gaia, as are we all. The Court shall not interfere with, nor take notice of, nor punish, any animal(s) whose activities may result in the immediate or eventual demise of Human Interloper, either through direct or indirect action.
  4. Damages: Human Interloper is hereby ordered to pay the sum of More Than We Can Count in the form of premium, unsalted, lightly toasted cashews, macadamia nuts and dry-roasted almonds, but in which proportion shall not exceed less than two parts macadamia nuts to all other nuts combined.

This Judgment is entered this First Day of the Third Season, Season Set of The Owl.

Hon. J. Beaver, presiding


Moral of the story? Don't f*ck with the squirrels, or any living thing, for that matter. Woodchuck Connection = Mobbed Up. If you see one coming, dear FSM, RUN THE OTHER WAY!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lie Low, LiLo

It makes my daughter's skin crawl to hear me refer to Lindsay Lohan as "LiLo," but frankly, the former has too many syllables, causing me to waste even more time discussing her. What's the fascination? Schadenfreude? Oh, how the mighty have fallen kind of thing? Yes and no.

For those who don't know, Ms. Lohan's is a tragic tale of a yet another Disney star gone wobbly. Ejected from the same fame mill as Justin Timberlake, Christina Aquilera and Britney (do I have to say her last name?), she rocketed to fame as a co-star in Disney's Parent Trap with follow-ups Freaky Friday, across from mega-star, Jamie Lee Curtis, and in Mean Girls, all high-grossers. Maybe what cracked her pot was having a car as a co-star in Herbie Fully Loaded because after that, both publicly and in her filmography, she moved toward strictly grown-up stuff, like rampant, in-your-face sexuality, beaver-reveals and nip-slips a-plenty, the rumoured, but so-far-untrue, cell-phone sex videos, allegedly being beaten up and spat upon by her supposed ex-girlfriend, Samantha Ronson and, of course, not one, but two DUIs within a ridiculously short time span, both also involving the possession of coke, and I don't mean the fabulously sweet carbonated beverage that gives me agita, either.

Really, WTF? We are talking about a "successful" 24 year-old with two records under her belt and more than fifteen movies, a few of which have been huge hits, right? And the potential is there, not because she's a great actress or a fabulous singer, but because she is smack-dab in the middle of the Hollywood success machine, at just the right age, with loads of momentum. And she apparently doesn't give a f*ck. That's sad.

What's sadder still is that she hadn't taken a page from the Celebrity Manual of Contrition. Michael Vick took his lumps, served his time, apologised and ponied-up a barrel full of money to help counter the publicity surrounding his dog-fighting conviction. It didn't mean that he had to lay prone while animal rights activists took their best shots in a poorly-lit east Philly parking lot, but he instead negotiated the situation and whatever arc of a career as a star NFL player he has left can now be followed neatly to its inevitable conclusion to a network color commentary chair, surrounded with a smattering of dealership ribbon-cuttings and a side of strength-training supplement endorsements. All because he got caught, weighed the difference between being a feckless thug and the potential of true star status, and decided that it would be better to make people like him again so that they would show him the money. LiLo's attititude is exemplified by the creative mani she sported on sentencing day in July - "f*ck u."

Blah, blah, so it's a "shame." Unfortunately, it's a little more than that. Hollywood types have been self-destructing since the days of Fatty Arbuckle and we've been eating it up since then, gossip whores that we are. Thing is, it's not alright. It's about time that the divas and dudes that do this kind of thing understand that a nip-slip or drunken brawl might be momentarily entertaining, in the end, it's pretty nasty and does nothing for our country's image in the world. Further, as a celebrity, one has the obligation to be respectful to one's fans. Celebrities don't have a private life when they're in public and if they want to behave like drunken, drug-addled idiots, it's really an intentional insult to the lesser "great unwashed." Hey, listen, you're cute, hot, talented, whatever, but there are limits. So, behave badly all you want, just not in our collective livingroom. It's just plain rude. And sad. And it's about time that we collectively set a standard both for ourselves and for our kids that says to these lilotypes that we're not sinking any further - sorry. And for those celebrities - and sports stars and politicians - who can't respect themselves enough to show a little respect for the rest of us, well, we must commit to just turning away like we turn away when someone else's toddler explodes in frustration at the Pathmark because he just wants it wants it wants it. Well, you can't have it. Behave yourself.

It's Magically Delicious

Forget about the Pink Hearts, Orange Stars, Yellow Moons and Green Clovers. Here's something better, kiddies:
It's incontrovertible proof that what lies at the end of the rainbow ain't tiny marshmallows or Pots O' Gold, but BOOZE! Glorious, soul-numbing, mind-deadening hootch. My favorite? New Jersey Port. Yum. Makes me all English an' sh*t.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Can You Keep A Secret?

I learned the hard way that not everything needs to be said,even when this means that an opportunity for understanding is lost. In fact, i paid a lot of money to a very able therapist to train me to shut my big trap. Oh, i understand why i "share too much." And, yes, i have parents at fault. My father was my guide to this M.O.. He simply uttered every thought that entered his brain without an apparent thought to self censorship, though i have no idea if he actually had more vile and horrible things to say that never made it out of his pie-hole. Frankly, i can't imagine it: it would be much better if all he had to say was said. It was enough as it was.

So, now i consider, reframe, scenarize my thoughts before my internal editor will release them to publishing and, i must say, it's difficult and unnatural for me. the further downside is that i seem stodgier than ever, unless i employ the body language techniques i learned to help my talking buddy feel at ease and speak on. In other words, i'm in the role of the non-directive therapist. The upside is that people like me better, mainly because they are of the impression that i give a fashizzle.

One other big downside is that since my free-wheeling stream-of-conciousness has been clamped, i'm not as brilliantly funny in person as i uster be. This is disappointing.

But, i can talk to the dog and he looks at me questioningly, trying to pick out words like "walk" or "bisquit." Convinced that i am not near to an action that addresses his needs, he lowers his head and snuffs his disappointment. Little bastard.

There have been collecting a coven of secrets in a sort of pool in my mind, things that should probably be talked about but that i know may more organically resolve on their own or things that are, by themselves, not all that important. Still, there are things that i just know in my gut have to be resolved before i croak. Maybe if i mix those things in with far more pedestrian issues, the impact will be diffuse. Maybe i am wrong. Maybe these are secrets that should be kept. Maybe i should just keep my big trap shut.

I'd rather tell you, though. I'd rather it all get sorted, but only for you, whose loyalty could never truly be called into question, except in anger. On the other hand, what right do i have to impose the truth on anyone, whether it's a universal truth or mine alone. Ah. What does it matter? Who cares?

I do. Dammit. I do.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where Am I?

It's dark out and cold. I catch a glimpse as I pass a mirror and see a gaunt face that I am surprised to recognize as my own. My body is lost in the zippered black fleece that makes the unreasonably chilly air just this side of bearable.

There's nothing to remember except that I am in the prison of my decisions under a sentence of death.

I don't think I can stand it much longer. Where am I? BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Thursday, September 9, 2010

9 Lives of The Undead Zombie Superhero

Ya know, i took inventory of how many close calls i've had in the white-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel department and it seems i've just about run out. There was that time i found my father's Manlicher Carcano carabine in the bedroom closet when i was very little and very curious. Then, there was the ravine-tumbling challenge by by school chums. I can scarcely forget the high-speed crash with Howie's Dad's Impala while were we on our way to a midnight show (totally not Howie's fault, just so you know.) Then, there was that unfortunate toxic substance incident on a rather hot day, to boot. Let's see, that makes four, so far. Then, there was the throat cancer scare, the skin cancer scare, the thyroid scare, the crazy ex-wife arrow-flinging event, the near-miss, icy spin-out, the fall, the bee attack, that stupid bar fight with the broken bottle in the neck, that really crazy red-headed chic with the Harley tattoo and only one nipple.

Oops. Seems i'm over. I guess it's actually a mode of superherodom that i've failed to fully engage. Perhaps i am in fact indestructable and can only be finally downed when presented with appropriately weighty toxic jewelry from the deepest part of the methane oceans on my home world.

I am writing this at 36,000 feet. I think this would be an opportune time to test my theory. Well, then . . . I need a catch-phrase, something heroic?  Ah, yes: Salute The Day! Away! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Work In Progress

"It couldn't have happened to a better person," his mother's voice rang and rang in his head, repeating this phrase like a penny winding down a mall coin-funnel. To stop the trace of that vortex, he needed only to extend his hand, but he lacked the will. Instead, he watched the coffee cup circle, chasing itself in the microwave, nearly full with water, as it began to vibrate and emit tiny angel's wings of steam.

Two minutes timed down and the water was hot. Two minutes were lost and he still had no answer, no plan, no clear way out. He often thought of himself as the master of the bad scenario, brain-powering his way down endless blind alleys, seeing from the outside in, creating order from disaster. This time, though, he could conjure no plan of rescue. He was frozen in place as his options turned into mirages.

His problem should be simple to solve, really, if he chose good over evil and did the right thing. But this was a situation of his own making and, in the end, was too complicated with far too many grey areas to find its solution in a set of steps to follow out and away. His thighs felt weak and again he realized that reality was the absolute antidote to best wishes and good faith.

He opened the microwave door quietly, though the interlock clunked and clicked, giving him away. He meant to leave his wife in her peaceful sleep, upstairs in the pastel quiet. She was an impossibly light sleeper, easily woken at three or five AM by his tires on the circular gravel drive or by the smell of the bread before it erupted from the toaster, just so. Though he felt duty-bound, he had no solution for her, either. She would surely hear it from the police when they found his body well after his disappearance, or when they found whatever pieces were left. Whatever the Bouras brothers didn't finish, the alligators would certainly indulge.

"Ruben Calderon Identified As Glades Doe," the headline would read. Between the heat and the hungry swamp, he would need only be dead for a few days to be rendered identifiable only through his dental records. If they found his head, that is. Ruben was sure that his hands would be cut off to thwart easy identification, hopefully after he'd been shot, stabbed or garroted into the next world. And for reasons that weren't clear, the brothers had a penchant for depriving male victims of their "archidi." They didn't seem to need the penis - that might be construed as unmanly, but the balls had to go.

He poured the instantly boiled water over instant oatmeal in a bowl glazed with an image of a sunflower such that the yellow petals bordered the Strawberry Cream variety of dried oats. As he dripped the water in and stirred with a matching sunflower spoon, the dessicated strawberries gave up some of their colour and a rivulet of vermilion wound across the surface of the food like Moses' Nile plaque.

Ruben tried tasting the oatmeal. It was very hot. He thought of the story of the three bears and a smile momentarily broke the shell of his face. It would be the last time he would have the occasion or opportunity to smile.

Taking the bowl with him, he made his way to the living room. He put a napkin on the coffee table next to his work laptop and put the bowl in the center of it, where the oatmeal could cool so that it was 'just right.'

He decided to review his options as he had earlier set out in a spreadsheet with desperate care. He could not run away. He could not face the Bouras brothers and lie to them, since they already knew what he knew he wasn't supposed to know. He couldn't play the loyalty card, since he wasn't family, though he was "Uncle Ruben" to little Jimmy. Big Jimmy would kill him anyway. If he ran away . . . where could he run where he wouldn't be found? Nowhere, that's where. The brothers did business everywhere and with everyone as did their father and his father before him The FBI would take him in, would relocate him and his wife, they promised, and Ruben knew the brothers or one of their ilk would find him and then he and his wife would both be dead. He couldn't do that to her. She was far too stupid and he loved her far too much because of it, in the way a boy loves an addled Retriever and he pities it besides. She was still safe, since she had no idea that he was really a criminal in league with other, far worse, criminals rather than a career numbers guy. At least, going to the feds meant he had time to think, to plan. It might be a game changer. He sat staring at the spreadsheet, running down the options, weighing out the potentials. He made a decision and sighed.

He picked up the bowl and spoon, now very hungry for the filling warmth of the oatmeal. He needed very much to not feel empty. As the spoon rose to his mouth, there was a soft, almost apologetic, knock at the door. Ruben knew at that moment that it was too late. He knew that the time to plan and calculate was over, that they would now take it from here. He eyed the sliding glass doors that led out to the patio and the pool, considered for a tiny slice of the time he had left and knew that he would never make it. That's why they always came to the front door - so the target would realize that his car, the street and the world was out there and that there was simply no way of getting to any of it.

Ruben put the spoon into the bowl and put both back down on the coffee table. He stood, tucked his white shirt back into his slacks and went to greet the knocker.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Time For A Little Art

Acrylic, gouache, watercolor and prepared ink on canvas. Limited edition of 10. archival giclée print, $2800.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love Stinks

Press the button. Make the call. Send the e-mail. Write the letter. Send the text. Save the pictures. Smell the clothes. Feel the warmth, the cold. Forget it. Never forget. Let it go. Try again.

Loving someone that's lost can be a truly awesome experience, but not in the sense of how that word is misused these days. The transcendent power of the chase, of conquest, of loss, whether by choice, luck or misadventure, has no peer. Every emotion is wrung up and tasted like bile. No paranoid corner dark with anxiety is revealed to be less than knowing. And still, the mind seeks and hopes, forlorn and withering against the truth of it.

So much worse when the chemistry is undeniable. That was it - the singularity of oneness collapsed into a black hole of separation. The laws of the universe prevent the rejoining of what man hath put asunder.

But wait: there's more!

If there's a will, there's a way. A stitch in time saves nine. A penny saved is a penny earned. Oh, who is today's fool? Lover, come back to me? Fat chance.

Too many words, too much lost time, too much hurt - all are expedient excuses when the potentials are there to be exercised. It boils down to a decision that it's just too much damned work, too many damned compromises and, by the way, the grass is looking a damn sight greener on the other side of the fence. Today. Right now. Why wait?

Live, love, laugh.

Yeah, whatev.

The adult thing is to let it go, admit the mistake, decide to move forward, decline defeat, embrace the future.

Yeah, whatev. Again. As if. As if the face could escape memory. As if that memory would simply fizzle away in sparkly confetti, reassembly denied by nature. As if the sound of your voice, your bell-like laugh, your ruddy cough, your breathing, heavy and deep with sleep could find its way into those dark corners where demons wait and snuff out your absence. As if.

No walk alone is without you. No meal without a thought of your provision. No feeling without the sense of a ghostly touch from you. No wind without your scent.

There can't be a goodbye. Apparently, it's not allowed. Yet, the die is cast. Shut up!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lighten Up, Will Ya?

A little humour to brighten your day:

Two cannibals are eating a clown.
One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"
Man with a strawberry stuck up his bum goes to the doctor.
The Doctor says "I'll give you some cream to put on it."
"Doc, I can't stop singing 'The green, green grass of home'."
"That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome."
"Is it common?"
"Well……..It's not unusual………"
A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only cling film for shorts.
The shrink says, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."
Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar.
One says, "I think I've lost an electron."
The other says, "Are you sure?"
The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive."
Answer phone message:
"If you want to buy marijuana, press the hash key…"
A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet and says, "My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?"
"Well," says the vet, "let's have a look at him." So, he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth. Finally, he says "I'm going to have to put him down."
"What? Because he's cross-eyed?"
"No, because he's really heavy."
Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese.
And there are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them.
It's either my mum or my dad.
Or my older brother Colin.
Or my younger brother Ho-Cha-Chu.
But I think it's Colin.
I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli. He was pulled in by a strong currant.
A man came round in hospital after a serious accident.
He shouted,"Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!"
The doctor replied,"I know you can't. I had to amputate your arms"
I went to a really energetic "Seafood Disco" last week and pulled a mussel.
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once and for all that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
A man walks into doctor's office.
"What seems to be the problem?" asks the doc.
"It's … um … well … I have five penises," replies the man.
"Blimey!" says the doctor, "How do your trousers fit?"
"Like a glove."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


"Lair" is a blog that exists to express random thoughts and often, things that Lincoln would have put in his desk overnight only to be ripped up in the morning. Lincoln was a smart man. I'm not Lincoln.

Monday, July 26, 2010


God, am I stupid. I'm probably the stupidist person I know. I'm just so unforgivably stupid. Really, really stupid. Stoopid stupid. And just plain dumb.

What the hell was I thinking? What? Why do I hatch these plans and convince myself that they really should work, that these gargantuan scenarios which I love so well are the best compromise between what I should be doing and what I want to do? What screw is missing in my mousetrap of a brain that causes to be missing the critical cog that should easily direct me to an actually fruitful conclusion? Huh? I want to know?

Here is where I am.

Here is where I should have wound up. But no, not me. Gad. So stuuuuuuuuuuupid.

And yet, I still have hope. Hope that it will come out all fine. Hope that my more rational mind tells me is an extension of the delusion that had me put myself on this path in the first place.

Unfortunately, it doesn't take much to snap me back to reality. A few recollections thrown into the mix of my already overheated and constantly recycling mind, the resulting plunge into a depression on the realization of the foregoing which, in turn, solidifies my belief that the klaxons in my head screaming "WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!" are tuned to just the right frequency to capture my full attention.

Not being alone in this experience DOES NOT make it better. Either side of the good or evil teeter-totter that seems to be applicable to any decision and choice I've made absolutely sucks. And I mean that I'm not in this alone since thousands of years of poetry, prose and song support that particular observation.

And do you know why I'm in this tizzy? Maybe you or you don't, but you do and that f•cking pisses me off all the more, at myself, of course. Oh, well. F•ck me, I guess. Stupid.

The problem is that I got just what I wished for - a date with the cruelest mistress of them all: fate. Please, Mistress, command me to do your bidding though I am unworthy. I beg your forgiveness for my snivelling nature. Please forgive me for anything I might do to displease you now or at some point in the future, no matter how unreasonable your expectations may be. Please grab my party bits and slam them flat with the latest Oxford Dictionary of the English Language.

In return, I will spank you until your bottom turns the color or the great flag of the People's Republic of China.

No? That won't do it? Screw you, then. I have free will, you know. "Will he?" they whisper, collectively wondering how far he could go. Free will. Free Willy!

Dangle, dangle, strangle: I had thought this the modus operandus of a variety of female types I had encountered over the course of time, but I was wrong to limit this concise observation and will now include ALL humans. And yes, it would be convenient to blame the rest of the world for my apparent lack of open-minded scenario-building, but I can't, simply can't. I note this only because I now realize that I was absent that day where the politics of dealing with human beings and learning to go with the flow of same was taught.

Destiny has a funny way of not always being all that random. I am a planner and I hate that which could be attributed to fate, karma or some other thing unseen that corrupts the plans of men. It makes me think of Tulsa and how bad things were there and how bad they probably still are and then, some hidden prose rises like a bad meal of boiled steak and beans and I read this, from a time far away and a place long ago:

You ever see a bird.
And you're like, this bird is mine.
So, you say to yourself: "This is mine. I own this." The map and the intention mesh. You feel kind of smug.
So, you see a girl a grrlllllllllllllll, tits and EVERYTHING.
And the seeds of desire are sown, because they're seeds and that's what we do with seeds, sow.
The next thing you know, she's telling you about the boyfriend, but you've seen her pupils dilate, and before the night's over, you're covered in mosquito bites and her sweat and spit and she smells like hope.
But that never happened because you're not stupid enough to try to smash a clam. No, who wants clam shards in their mollusk? Otters. Gulls. A two item list. But, you've got your ears open. Words and confidences fan out like. Reinforcing signals emerge, lapping against the edges of your GOLDEN BOWL OF LUST.

"Hi!" You squeak.
"Would you like a cigarette?" she asks. But you haven't smoked in months. She reminds you of a shady lane. So you take two cigarettes worth of drags, and it's all you can do not to blow on her pooch whenever she lifts her arms.
You lean over and smell her and nothing, bills, personal oblivion, dissatisfaction with your career, any kind of setback in the past, even murder, rape, cowardice, betrayal, whatever, it doesn't matter, anxiety melts away.

She tastes like pot but those eyes are anything but distant.
Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes.

And you come to the conclusion that after all this pursuit, all this sex, and need and hunger, that you've reached an endpoint, you've finally jumped a shark.

"Where you from?"
"Are you expected back?"
"Later or never."
"Where you headed, baby?"
"The bottom of the sea."

Yes - I have to dredge up every emotion, every experience, every conclusion, every hope, fear and regret and I have to set them all out like a sorrowful buffet and sort them out once and for all, this time, with no endpoint in mind. And make some new choices, I think, including accepting the possibility that I won't make any choice at all. On the other hand, status quo is pretty boring. I don't do boring.

Blow the dust off your crystal ball and shine it up, will ya? Where thou goest, I shall follow. Oh, geesh, now I have to think something up. It never ends. Never. Not ever.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What Are You? Deaf?

I just saw Andrea Bocelli in concert and I don't know why. It was in Las Vegas, was all drippy with Spanish and Italian love songs and was topped off with guys holding torches that jumped into the fake canal at the casino where the concert was held, all finally decorated with fireworks a la Seaworld. Somebody's idea of a good time, I suppose.

Friday, July 23, 2010


The very best thing about having your back constantly up against the wall is what it can do for your posture.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If I Was Not Me And This Was My First Go At A Blog

Here we are broadcasting from high atop Mount Palomar, which is home to the once-famous Mount Palomar Observatory, located in the beautiful San Bernadino mountains. This is obviously a great place for a telescope since there are more stars here than anywhere else!

You know, I was thinking about doing the MySpace thing, but I changed my mind. Everybody's doing it. "Do you have a MySpace page? Do you? Do you?" No, I don't freakin' got one. Why should I be like every other loser on the planet, right?

So, I'm starting out on this blog thing and I'm saying to myself, what do I have to say? The first thing I come up with is "um, um, um" and so, that's the title of this blog. I call it a blog thing because I hope it will be something more than just words, like pictures and videos and stuffs. I have a german friends that calls stuff "stuffs." I correct him, but you know foreigners aren't too smart, that's why they can't speak English good.

Anyhow, I work like everybody else but I'm looking for the Next Big Thing. I don't know what that is yet but that's good because if I knew what it was then everybody would too and then it wouldn't me the next big thing. Right? Right? So, like, I'm looking for opportunities that I can exploit, which means that I can make work for me with luck and hard work. I can't work on the gluing machine at the box factory forever even though I probably will make supervisor next year when Gus (Fussy Gus) throws in the towel and finally retires. Or dies.

In the meantime, I'm looking for a special lady. You know, someone who can be there, can cook good, likes to go out, wants to take care of my kids, or I mean, our kids and stuff. She's gotta work too until I hit on that next big thing I was talking about before, but it'll be alright.

Right now, I have a pretty okay job, my brother's still in Iraq and when he comes out, maybe we'll open a detailing shop together. He might stay in, though. We didn't have the chance to talk much since he joined up, He wanted to get away from being a kid brother, I guess and now he's a big man, a soldier and all that. You gotta respect him for making a big step with his life. But we both graduate from high school though I have to admit that he's smarter than me, but I'm better with the girls! Sometimes I wonder if he's maybe a fag, but I don't think so. Anyway, my Father would never talk to him and my mother's heart would be broken into little pieces, like she says, 'cause then he wouldn't have grandkids. But I could make up for that!

So, I could see that happen. Me running the business and him working the customers and running the crew, He would have experince, right? Being that he was a sarge and all. So, that would work out pretty good. But I don't know. He got a lot of money for college from the Army so I guess that's what he might do. Then he might be running the business and I'll work my charms on the customers! We could sell rims, too and stereo installation. Who knows how far we could go? But, by myself, I don't know. It would be too hard with a new wife and kids. We'll see.

In the meantime, there's a girl I like but she's way older than me. She's Latina, which is bangin, and she's got older kids, like in their twenties and whatnot. But she is so bangin, it's sick. She is like a Latina princess. And I know she works next door cause I see her come in around lunch time and she leaves way after I quit work. I know cause sometimes I waited for her. Sometimes I could see her through the factory windows, too, when she parks at the end of the lot, and she's just sittin in her car and I think she's crying. She just looks like she's shaking and sobbing. I wish I could go out to her and comfort her, but I know I would scare her and maybe she would think I'm a stalker or something, I don't know.

But she has long black hair, huge bazongas (I don't think I can say "rack" or "tits" here) and some sweet thighs that I'd just like to sink my teeths into. Jesus, she is too much. And a guy like me? At my age? Oh, you know I could keep her satisfied and stop her crying. You just know it. But she's pretty old and that's okay, cause I know she must like movies and dancing and stuffs. I think one day soon I'm gonna ask her out or at least let her know I'm available, then she can make the right choice, know what I mean?

Anyhow, I'm gonna cut this short since this is my first time and all. My boss is a woman and she is a bitch on wheels. She's not mean but I swear she's into S&M cause she will torture you until the product ships. Her name's Carla, but all the guys on the floor call her Carl cause she might as well be a man. She's my mom's age, but sometimes she dresses a little slutty, which is not respectable for a woman, okay? Yeah, she looks okay, but with a woman like that you gotta be careful that she not gonna break your dick off in the process. So, she wants everybody in early tomorrow even though it's the day before Thanksgiving and who wants to work anyhow? So, I better not be late or she's gonna hook my nipples up to the forklift charger. She probably like it, too. ;)

I'm gonna try to tell my story like you're ready a diary, so when stuff happens or occurs to me, that's when I'm gonna fill this up. Probably, it'll be pretty good stuff to read, I don't know. Okay! Chow for Now as they say in Italy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mystery Solved, Sort Of

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? I wrote about the phenomenon of "earworms," that is, songs or tunes that enter your brain and just keep repeating over and over again. I've had a similar experience for the last thirty years or so, but with words, specifically, a phrase and the beginning of a joke that I was concocting back in my lost youth. I think about them every day. Not compulsively, not to the exclusion of all else, but without fail, these things will enter my conciousness, not associated with any particular thought or activity, and simply sit there, poking me, until they go away. Now, one issue has been at least partially resolved.

In the early eighties, I was playing with a band on tour in the Southwest. Before a show in either Phoenix or Flagstaff, I can't remember which except that the town started with a eff sound, I was driving with the other guitar player from one place to another and saw the following bumper sticker on the back of a burgundy red Chevy pick-up truck:


"Hey, look at that. What the hell does that mean? " I said to my pal. " He peered at it through his turtle glasses which he only wore while driving, though he was more or less as blind as me and neither of us wore our specs while performing - how vain. He read and repeated the words aloud and said, "It's no Spanish I ever learned. Maybe it's Portugese. They're a little similar." The light turned green, the truck made a right and the image of that tailgate with that inscrutable message was burned into my mind forever. When we got to where we were going, I recall asking around. There were plenty of native Spanish-speakers, but no one had any idea of what it meant.

As time passed, that phrase echoed in my mind once a day, like a storm horn, only quieter. I would ask just about anyone I encounter, if I knew them a bit, if they had ever seen this phrase or whether any of the words might be something they'd run across in the past. No joy. I went to the library, asked the help of librarians, spoke to a Spanish teacher, a professor of Portugese, who told me that the word structure wasn't Portugese. My Dad, who spoke at least five Slavic languages plus German fluently and a little Italian, too, in addition to English, had no clue whatsoever. I had a girlfriend during that time who was brought up in an Italian and Swedish-speaking household and it rang no bells for her, either.


The phrase haunted me into the dawn of the internet age. Before there was Google, I searched out the phrase in whatever search engines or portals were available - AltaVista, AOL, Compuserve, Yahoo - you name it. Nuthin'. Later, I Googled it, many times over the years as the Google database grew and grew. Finally, I asked a Rican, a Puerto Rican, that is, who is fluent in their brand of Spanish, which, for some probably macho-nationalistic-my-fubol-team-is-better-than-yours-and-you-don't-even-have-a-team-puta reason, other Spanish speaker deride and denigrate. That's their battle: I just want to know what the heck this insidious phrase means, already.

So, here's what it means:

Don't beep (your horn), don't mess with me.

Alternatively, the second part of the phrase can mean "don"t f•ck with me" when used with emphasis.
It's simple, it makes sense and yet, no one could help me with this for thirty frickin' years? Hmm, maybe my PR translator is dead wrong. So, I asked around, but this time, I sought out Carribean Spanish speakers - a Cuban, a Dominican and another Puerto Rican. "Oh, si, sure I can tell you what that means," said the Cuban. "It say, don't press on me, don't bother me." Okay, so, his English wasn't so good, but that's close enough. The Dominican said, "You shouldn't say that to someone who speaks Spanish unless you wanna get cut. It means, like, 'don't push my buttons, don't whistle at me, don't f•ck with me'. So, like a girl might say that if you're, like, gittin' on her at the club, you know?" Thanks, Oskar. And finally, the proof that countrymen often stick together because they more or less are tightly bound by culture and history, the Puerto Rican told me, "Sure, that means 'don't beep at me and don't mess with me." It's not that hard to figure out. What was that? On a bumper sticker?" Tip o' the hat, Ramon.

Of course, now I'm wondering how this particular bumper sticker relates to history. Was it just a clever phrase like, "Please don't tailgate and we won't meet by accident"? Or was it the battle cry for some union battle or in defense of the rights of migrant workers or grassroots support for an obscure town council seat in a dusty Arizona or New Mexico hamlet. Three decades ago, that is, so long ago that contemporaries will have forgotten what the fight was about and, in hindsight, the contested matter was really not such a huge deal after all and so, in turn, no real record exists, except maybe for the Sun Star Herald Intelligencer's newpaper archives where a grainy, yellowed photo shows the sticker being proudly displayed at a rally of some kind by a youngish dude in a white straw range hat with a bristol-white smile and his future entirely ahead.

It's possible, I guess, but I'll probably never know for sure. It's yet another fact that I can't verify. Sigh.

At the beginning of this thang, I mentioned there were two things that had been stuck in my head and I will not disappoint you. The joke I started so many years ago and cannot finish, starts like this:

Two Jews walk into a bar.

Go from there. Go ahead. Try it. You will fail. I have failed, miserably. Maybe I should find another Jew and walk into a bar and just . . . see . . . what . . . happens. Not fer nuthin', but Tyler and Calvin, fairly typical, at least IQ-wise, inhabitants of "truth by consensus" websites like (notice no link, okay?) can't figure it out, either:

So, clearly, it's not just me. I will make you a deal, such a deal like you have never seen before in your LIFE! Help me put this last "brainworm" to sleep and I will do something nice for you. I don't know what yet, but I will figure something out. Now: GET TO WORK being funny.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Roto Photo

Prepare to DIE!

I wrote last week about all the nasty men and women I had to visit, the ones in white coats. Last Friday's appointment with Mr. GP, MD, DO, FACS and all that was a lengthy one indeed - two hours, in fact. Since no one asked, okay, someone asked but who knows if I'll be talking to her anytime soon, let alone before I croak, here's the rundown of that very fun morning:

I was prompt. I promptly wrote a check for my copay and I was promptly whisked into Exam Room 9, which was all the way at the back of the facility. I'm guessing that my screams would be less apparent to those who shuffled, hobbled and we dragged by purportedly loving family members into the waiting room after my early arrival, hence, the placement. The nurse promptly appeared and took my blood pressure, which was too low, then, too high. She asked me if I was nervous and I explained that I had White Coat Syndrome and that I thought this was sort of like taking a test you know you didn't study for and was likely to fail. She looked at my chart and gave me a wan smile, with slightly pitying eyes. "It's okay. The doctor will be in, in a minute." I'm not sure if she inserted that comma in her mind when she said that, but that's what I saw floating in front of her when she said it and so, I am reproducing it here so that there can be no grammatical ambiguity about what I imagined. Really, with that particular sentence structure, one is trapped. The second "in" can't be left out, right?

Anyway, as I always do, I got the full soup-to-nuts (literally) work-up, including a fresh and digital EKG. I think the nurse was fixated on my nipples when she was applying the electrodes. Or maybe, I was imagining it. No, I'm pretty sure my nipples would be dinner conversation at Nursey's house:"Well, I must say I've never seen such puffy nipples on a man. They looked a little like baby plums. You know, those tiny Japanese ones? No, the plums, I mean." I should mention that I got to don what must be the haute couture for Le Monde de Medécin, that is, a white garment made of what I believe was Bounty, you know, the Quicker Picker Upper, modeled after what could only be described as a samurai kimono, only without the cool designs evoking bamboo or leaves or carp.

Promptly thereafter, the doctor came in, not making eye contact, as is his practice. I guess I make him nervous. Instead, he rolled up to where I was perched, on the edge of the examining rack, er, table, at roughly ball level, tapping away at his wireless laptop. He asked me to detail my latest experiences and I told him about the increasing arrythmias and the exhaustion. He looked at the EKG, my EKG, on his laptop in silence. I thought he was about to say something House-ian, but, no luck. He asked me about my Hep C. I said, "Whut? Wrong disease, doc. What else have you got in there?" "Sorry, sorry, maybe the software did it. So, you've never had gout? Or gall bladder problems?", he said, fearing that his software was making him look foolish, which it was. "Nope, happy to say that I don't have what Pam Anderson's got, but at the same time, I really haven't had the opportunity to have her expose me to it." Recovering, he said, "Well, at least you don't have syphilis." Mild chuckle from Dr. P. Then, without warning, he jumped up and stethescoped me and listened in a number of spots, but particularly at my carotid artery, specifically at the junction where the artery splits off to go internal to the structure of the neck and external, closer to the skin, if you will. And he listened again, shhshing me when I started to say something. "Something going on there at the carotid bulb. Hmm. Hmm. Okay, first things first and then we'll order some pictures. Could be nothing." Could be nothing? Could be? Garshck, Doc, let me down easy, will ya?

And he continued to poke, prod and tickle. I avoided eye contact so he wouldn't think I was liking it too much. But, c'mon, for the patient, a doctor's visit is pretty intimate. After all, how many people do you know have you come by, grease up a finger, shove it up your butt and say, "Feels okay, no problems there at least?" Oh, you do? Really - how often? Hmm. Wow. Got any pics?

Then, he ran down one treatment that I was to enjoy for two weeks to follow. This involved swallowing GIANT green capsules. I hate pills. I CAN'T F•CKING SWALLOW THEM without thinking I'm going to choke to death and I almost always gag them back to the surface. Ech. Ecccccch. I hate it so much. And then, of course, I have to swallow them all over again. Eeeeeeek! So, I made up a joke about it. Here it is:

A guy goes to the doctor and the doc tells him he has Hep C or maybe gall bladder disease, but at least it's not syphilis. The doctor tells him that he can cure his problem, but he'll have to take these huge-ass pills for two weeks. The good news is that if he takes each and every pill as prescribed, he'll be permanently cured. The bad news is that if he misses even one, the treatment can't be repeated and he'll die for sure. So the guy takes all of this very seriously and decides to follow the doc's advice to the letter. But he hates pills, can't swallow them, never could. He tells the doctor this and the doctor says, "Well, you're in luck. I can either prescribe the pills or you can get suppositories." The guy decides to man it up all the way and goes for the pills. Two weeks later, he comes back to see the doctor and it turns out he's completely cured. "Yep, doc, I decided to take it like an hombre and I took every last pill." And the doctor says, "Pills? You mean suppositories, don't you?"

Yes, it could be funnier. Please write in with your lame suggestions on how to improve the world's second most wonderful joke. Next!

Now this part is no joke. I went down to the corner drugstore, to get my fair share of abuse (Rolling Stones reference - yay!) and to also get the prescription. You see, the highly trained staff at the doctor's office called it in so that it would be ready upon completion of my one minute and forty-five second drive from their office to the Wrong Aid. When I arrived, it was not ready. I wandered the aisles, peering at the stacks of Ramen selling for five times the cost of what was on offer at SlopRite and considering whether I indeed might need a Vince "I Can't Do This All Day" Shlomo-endorsed nut chopper, As Seen On TV. Wait - I though TV was obsolete.

Eventually, I wandered back to the pharmacy counter. I wasn't loitering too close, as the junior Mr. Gower, likely hailing from Islamabad rather than Bedford Falls, might "accidentally" put a wee bit o' poison in my supposi-, um, capsules and then he'd cuff me on the ear and twenty years later, I'd be standing on a bridge on Christmas Eve with some dude named Clarence and who wants that, right? As I approached, I straightened my spine to make my gaunt and withered frame more erect, open and less evocative of Plague. The rotund servile behind the apothecary's till, oh, God, I'm slipping purple, sorry - the fat broad behind the money machine - oh, gee, now I'm gone all Chandlery at the wrists. Okay - the "lady" behind the counter said, "May I help you?" I'm certain she needed to be hitting the Alzheimer's meds because I was just there, not twenty minutes ago. Am I that forgettable? Jovially, in my best mock-hippie voice, I said, "I'm here for the drugs, man, the drugs!" She chuckled at this, asked my name, I announced it and Ahmed The Dealer (the pharmacist's name has been changed to protect me) snapped at her that they were working on it. She turned to me and said, "He's working on it. Should be a few minutes." Sometimes people do the darndest things!

My pretty pills were soon ready to be cashiered. What I got, though wasn't correct, I thought, and it's not because I dropped out of Brooklyn's BA-MD program thirty years ago so that my ex-ex-wife could go to nursing school and actually graduate and instead wind up negotiating entertainment contracts nor is it because I've now seen each and every episode of House at least once nor is it because I was a devoted follower of ER and St. Elsewhere, though I still think the ending of the latter was bogus and I stopped watching the former three years before the finale. No, the drug was wrong because it started with an "A" rather than with a "D" and no, there's no generic for this stuff, that's for sure. So, on my way to have my scalp conditioned at the El Cheapo Barbershop, I called the doctor's office and told the now-harried deceptionist that I believed that I had received the wrong stuff and could she check it with Il Doctore? She asked me what I got. I told her. "I am pretty sure that this stuff will destroy my kidneys. Should I take it anyway?" Of course it wouldn't do that, but I was certain that it was wrong. She checked the computer. The same computer that had me suffering from Sleeping Sickness and elephantitis and colic. And Hep C, which ain't hep at all, daddy-o! "Yes, that's what the doctor ordered and that's what we called in." Grrr. Confrontation time. Oh, how I hate confrontation. "I'm sorry," I started, mildly insistent and meekly indignant, "but could you actually ask the doctor, just so that we can be sure that Sodium Cyanide is certainly his intended treatment? After all, my last check hasn't cleared yet." Don't get me wrong, she was nice about it, but I'm pretty sure that anyone else would have missed this. A doctor prescribed it, a pharmacist filled it: what could be wrong? "Let me call you back," she said on returning, "since I have to send the doctor an IM?" Interesting - an instant message within the office because he's with another patient, I first thought. Or, maybe, when he was purportedly peering at my EKG, he was actually finishing up a round of World of Warcraft.

My scalp was being soothed by a stylist I used before who is a dead ringer for that native girl from Avatar, only she's not blue, when the deceptionist called back twenty minutes later. The message was panicked: "Mr. X, DO NOT TAKE THAT PRESCRIPTION!. You are right, it's the wrong thing. DO NOT TAKE IT. I've called the correct prescription in. The doctor has verified that you're correct. Thank you." Five minutes later, another call and then another. I really should have called back and whimpered into the phone, "How could you do this to me . . . I trusted you . . ." and then just let the line disconnect.

So, I returned to the Belle Salon de Pharmacopie and got myself some new and equally gigantic pills. And, of course, there was the warning which I've now heard before one too many times, "These are likely to make you feel a little sick . . ." This time, I have been quite lucky, since, except for some very interesting poop, I'm not doing too bad. I'm thinking that all those pills might be piling up in my throat, stuck. Ack-ack!