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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday's Monday Charlie Brown

December 19, 2010: This is probably a good time to create an entry, as I've spent nearly the whole day lying at my computer and can use any new reason to keep from getting up. You see, I've been sick all weekend, and while I've found some solace in listening to football on the radio and playing at least 40 games of Freecell, my neck is starting to hurt and my body is telling me, "Arise, you fool. Arise and walk tonight!" (My body often speaks in the romantic jingo of an 18th century gentleman.)

Perhaps the first thing I should clarify is that my computer is on the ground, where I like it. I write lying down and, perhaps more often these days, I play Freecell lying down. I discovered the joy of this arrangement several years ago while in L.A., though it has nothing to do with L.A., except it sounds like it would, like it was something my cult leader recommended or something. Actually, it was ongoing back pain that motivated the innovation, and while my back is in much better shape these days, I still enjoy settling onto my stomach for some concentrated writing work, Freecell, or online pornography exploration. When I'm not out walking, scolding my children or reading Peanuts books in bed, this is where you'll find me.

Now, without going into too much detail, I am sick, and I can honestly say my mind isn't working as keenly as it often does. Further, a woman at work told me I looked "green," and while it's my favorite color, somehow it doesn't look good as my skin color. I can't exactly say what's wrong -- in fact, I really, really hate being asked what's wrong, i.e., "Do you have the flu?" I mean, how the f*** should I know. I don't go to doctors, because they'll just tell you anything to keep you quiet. I much prefer to suffer through my horrendous symptoms to spite them. I've got my pride, after all, and if I'm going to be sick, I intend to do it on my terms.

That aside, I want to be clear that I hate the New England Patriots -- a reprehensible team with a dour maggot of a coach and a dirty no-good liar for an owner. I'm also one of the few who remembers Boston's history of athletic racism, and being Sicilian I don't intend to forget it. Nor do I forgive the Irish for all the wrongs they've done us, despite how attractive I find their women, although the men all look like leprechauns. I'm not sure what my point was, except I think we need to remain wary about the whole New England region, which contains many Protestants, as well as people who drive pickup trucks.

By the way, did you know I hate Sunday, almost as much as I hate the Patriots. It depresses me immensely for reasons I won't bother recounting here. I just know Sunday will always be the same old Monday of sorts, but Monday is really more invigorating to me and happier than Sunday could ever be. That's part of why I'm depressed, but only part.

The bottom line is I can't decide what else I can eat tonight to try and fill my gaping God-shaped hole of emptiness, which is merely deepened by it being Sunday, by the Patriots' failure to lose more often, by the ongoing use of those annoying accents near Boston way, by my wretched neck and vague incontinence ... and more.

But I didn't want to make this a negative entry. Christmas is coming, after all, and the goose is indeed getting fat. Let's try and remember that ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More on Christmas Music

November 27, 2010: Gosh, there are so many things I want to talk about, but right now all I can think of is this amazing version of "Go Tell It On The Mountain" I just heard Jim Nabors singing ...

It's odd, for I've heard it many, many times, but I never knew it was him. I thought it was some old baritone black guy, in fact -- "Old Man River" kind of thing. But, no, this was Gomer Pyle. My God! I'm flabbergasted ...

On that note, it's great to have my Christmas music going once again. Johnny Mathis, of course, remains my favorite, but others continue to grow in importance -- the Beach Boys, for instance, and now Jim Nabors! (Actually, the Jim Nabors is off of this old Columbia House two-record album I've carried around since my childhood -- "The Best-Loved Music of Christmas" -- and am now happily playing again and again with that great turntable I got at Target. (You dedicated readers may remember something about this turntable from past entries; I hope you do, because I don't, but I know I said something -- probably something angry.) The records are all scorched and scratched, but that's not stopping me from playing them over and over. (Several of the tracks skip so much, they only last about six seconds, but it's all lovely music to my season-starved ears.)

Isn't it nice to know what you like, and what makes you happy? More accurately, isn't it nice that I know?!

I think I also praised Celine Dion last year as well, although that might have just been in an email to Lindsay. She somehow looks like her to me, although I only wish she had her money, then we'd be closer friends. But I digress. And Lindsay, as you're one of the only people who ever reads this, it won't do me good to offend you, certainly not before Christmas! (I won't make any promises for what I may or may not do after the new year.)

On a parallel note, I can't for the life of me understand why it's so hard for me to memorize Christmas lyrics. I'm something of a musician/singer after all, as many of you know, and fewer of you care. Certainly the catalogue of my brain contains literally hundreds of songs that I know the words to, backwards and forwards ... But despite my annual over-indulgence in holiday tunes, I can't ever seem to retain but the most rudimentary parts of most of the songs. Why, I even go to Midnight Mass some years just to sing along, but I never know the words. Instead, I often have to phonetically fake them, like the singers in Abba, or Celine Dion.

Did you know that every year (for at least the past 20) I buy at least one new X-mas album? (For that matter, did you know I keep my underwear in the vegetable crisper?) This year I have my sites set on finding a good Robert Goulet compilation. There are two of his numbers on this record, and he's just a champ. He does this one called "Penis Angelicus" that's just remarkable, and not at all dirty, as the title might suggest.

Last year ... or was it the year before ... I went to see a whole choral production of the Hallelujah Choir. (It's called something -- the whole piece -- but I can't remember what. The Epistle? The Stovepipe? Something-or-other! I think it's by Handel ... or Handle, who came centuries later ... ) Anyway, they had this castrato singing, and it was remarkably embarrassing! He was beyond woman's-voice high, he was like a chipmunk, and we all had to sit there trying not to laugh, and if you closed your eyes he sounded like Ethel Merman hitting high notes ... But I just can't remember what that thing was called ... The Mendelsohn! Something like that ...

Anyway, I like Christmas music, even though I'm Jewish. That's the good thing about being the kind of Jew I am -- I don't take Hanukkah all seriously, like Sammy Davis Jr.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thing One & Thing Two

October 30, 2010: Two things are on my mind this morning, and so in an effort to clear my mind and get back to something important (like fantasizing about naked women), I want to dump them here and move on with my life.

The first involves the dictionary, or at least the stupid "pocket" paperback dictionary I have. Per se, there's nothing wrong with it -- American Heritage is a fine company, I'm sure, and it has more than served my purpose for the 10 years or so I've owned it. What I find so terribly annoying, however, is the fact that they include so many strange and irrelevant entries, but leave out so many others -- in particular people.

For starters, who the fuck is Margeret Bourke-White? Does anyone know, and do those who know really care? Yet this weird little dictionary feels compelled to include a picture of her and everything. James Boswell gets an entry on the same page, although sans picture. What makes him so special? He never won a Super Bowl. (And by the way, couldn't they have done us all a favor and left out Joyce Carol Oates' picture instead; she looks like a disturbed owl who snuck into the medicine cabinet.)

Saint Theresa also gets a picture, but there's no entry for Deepak Chopra, or Sid Barrett for that matter! I can see Winston Churchill making the cut, but why James Baldwin? Is it just because he's black? Then where's John Amos?? Or Sinbad?? Or even Harry Belafonte, who's both white and black. Equality is one thing, but I call that an embarrassing double standard? (Yes, Lena Horne is there, but her picture makes her look like a Jack O'Lantern.)

Toni Morrison is there too. (How many black writers do we need to equal equity? And I even like her!) Yet there's no entry for Truman Capote or Jack Kerouac. I mean, What the fuck?!! And I don't mean to harp on race. It's just that it's a great source of comic material.

On the whiter side, who the hell (except perhaps Lindsay) cares about Thomas Cranmer, the English Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533 to 1553. Seriously, isn't this just a tad ridiculous??!! (I mean, come on Lindsay!)

Locations are another mystery. Who the hell needs to know, especially in this limited paperback edition, that Swansea is a borough of South Wales, or that Bursa is a city in northwest Turkey?

Anyway, you get the point I hope. (Don't make me drum it into your head, like I would if you were a panda bear.) Instead, let me move on to the second item, which involves knowing what the world is up to.

I'll need to explain this in detail, but you see I've become exhausted, and so can't. I'll have to try another time, because it's important ... but I guess not that important ...

Well, okay, to be perfectly honest, none of this is really that important, is it ...

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

At The Theater ... (or was it a "Theatre"?)

October 21, 2010: Seeing my friend Terry tonight -- and I hope you understand that my only friends are the people who've already subscribed to this Blah-ugh!, so don't try and get in my good graces now, you other bastards -- moved me to drum up the energy to do another entry. (Yeah, yeah. Big deal!)

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about my experience last Saturday going to the theater. It was a fair production of the Diary of Anne Frank, and I commend the set designer, director and actors for a good job before what I found to be an embarassing (I never remember how to spell that word!) audience of morons. (I say this because I was amazed at the large number of people who were secretly snacking and drinking from water bottles throughout the show. It was appalling and depressing to see yet another example of thoughtless, self-centered Americans in action.)

But I digress. What I really wanted to comment on was how much I hate the theater. It's taken me some time to realize this, but I finally have decided that the anxiety I experience in watching a live show is simply too much for me to endure, and why I ever put myself in the position of having to sit in a seat for two-and-a-half hours staring at a bunch of people making spectacles of themselves, I just can't tell you.

The main reason for my discontent ties directly to my core issues. You see, I'm literally unable to watch a show without constantly worrying whether the actor is going to blow his line, or whether she's going to lose her character in the middle of a moment, or whether someone in the audience is going to be so disruptive that the actor turns their head, or whether the whole set is just going to fall down, or whether one actor is going to drop a prop, or another step on someone's foot, or snag his shoe on the curtain ...

Can you imagine, it's so absolutely impossible for me to relax and be entertained when I'm perpetually charged with the terrible responsibility of having to keep the whole world together in one piece through my mental and emotional body English.

You can imagine how depressing the Anne Frank play was to begin with -- I mean, who needs to go and sit through that?! It would have been far more enriching to masturbate myself into a coma-like sleep for two hours. But not only was I forced to suffer the sympathetic pains of Nazi Germany, I had to sit there with the further worries of whether or not this play would come off without a hitch.

(And now, as if things aren't bad enough for this poor suffering soul, I think I just inhaled a bug as I was typing furiously. Terrific!)

Now excuse me, as I've got to go and cough for an hour to try and expel this thing ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'll Jog Tomorrow

October 14, 2010: Well, I've just come back from an invigorating jog around town, and even though I'll probably develop a rash if I don't shower presently, I wanted to take a moment to file my latest report.

You see, as I jogged by the river and became aware of the Christmas lights they keep in the trees year-round, it suddenly occurred to me that Jews should really get more into the spirit of Christmas.

Now you understand, I'm half Jewish, so I'm very comfortable bashing the whole race and stereotyping. (You'll also remember how vigorously I worked to try and ban the Nazi flag in Connecticut -- an effort I abandoned when I saw how the least amount of support came from the Jewish community, including the Anti-Defamation League (lousy Jews!).

No, but I jest. I jest because I love. And I also know that my tiny Blah-ugh! readership is solely composed of three anti-Semites, so it really doesn't matter what I write.

The point is, however, that these lovely white lights are just that, and while all the associations for me stem from picturesque homespun Christmas celebrations in my youth -- (Who am I kidding? My parents were drunk half the time!) -- I don't really see what difference it makes what religious holiday we're celebrating, as long as the lights are pretty. I myself could care less about Jesus (if that is his real name!). He means little to me, except he always looks so depressed in those church pictures. Mind you, I have nothing against him as Messiahs go, I only think he gets too much superfluous media attention, especially around the holidays.

All of this reminds me that Halloween is coming, and as you know I vehemently subscribe to the belief that it's really our most social holiday. (See last year's entry if you don't believe me ... you lousy skeptics!) People are even getting into the spirit with orange lights in recent years, and who can say anything bad about that. And the leaves are changing, as do the seasons, and so do I, and you need not wonder why.

I'm starting to itch now, so I've got to go. Try to keep an open mind as Halloween approaches this year, especially if you're Jewish or some extreme Christian who poo-poos the lessons demon worship can teach you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Call to Yarns

September 27, 2010: It's been a dreadful summer, but I'm not one to complain ... Well, actually I complain a lot, but I'm well aware that no one listens. And you see, that's what makes me wise.

Which is why I've devoted so little time to this silly Blah-ugh! I do most of my complaining in the shower now, and I listen intently. (I try not to comment or give advice, but I nod a lot while I'm speaking and go, "Mmm." It's not always the most satisfying venue for sharing my pains, disillusionment and discoveries, but at worst I end up with cleaner hair.)

The point is -- if ever there was one -- I've actually had the nerve to mention this failed (or forever failing) venture to two different people this week (mainly as a means of bragging and sounding technologically advanced), so I felt obligated -- remember, this has always been about you all, and not my pathological need to be heard -- to offer some new spins on life and all that it means to me today ... just today ... for tomorrow I'm back to spending my time watching television.

That said, I'm again at a loss. All I can think about at the moment is that some dumb bunny in my house bought one of those ridiculous soap dispensers that squirts the soap out. And lo and behold, it did just that all over my working clothes when I raced home just now to use the bathroom. And it couldn't have been targeted more inappropriately at the front of my pants -- let me say no more! And I'm still fretting, crouched at a computer console, over whether it will ever dry before I encounter anyone walking in the hall and they look at me in shocked disbelief ... And to top it all off, the cream-colored crap that splattered me doesn't even smell like anjou pear, as the bottle claimed, but more like sour apples! Bastards!

So, anyway, with that going on, how I can free any concentration to address the myriad social and political issues plaguing mankind at this moment?! I can't, and that's why, if it serves as nothing else, this entry should be yet another reminder that there's nothing to gain by investing your time reading this glib tripe. Your hours will be better spent focusing on how you can safely and practically dispense soap in your home. That's important! My sharp, witty rambling -- cute, coy and cloying as they may be -- are not ...

But keep reading anyway!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jarret's Frank Film Forum: The Godfather(s)

June 21, 2010: I'm nearly through the three Godfather movies ... again ... and I'm alive (or awash) with lots of clever -- No, correct that! -- a handful of observations. (I don't want to promise anything I can't deliver.)

For starters, what I think most people fail to realize, or perhaps accept, is that the script itself is not that good. Well, certainly it has its moments, its clever lines, etc. And mind you, I love the films (certainly the first two). But I've watched that first movie 20 times at least, and for the life of me I still can't see any difference between Barzini and Tatalia, and I can't figure out what it is they do, or who double-crosses who, nor can I even pick them out from amongst the cast in the film. It's really weird, but so much drama seems to rest on it, and when Vito finally says, while driving in the car, that it was "Barzini all along," and the music dips dramatic, again and again I find myself befuddled by what it is that I'm supposed to care about.

That said, what really makes these movies, in my estimation, is the cinematography, which is brilliant and powerful, and I'll quickly add that the set designing (and costumes) are close behind. Cheers to Gordon Willis, who really demonstrates how important that art is to film, and credit to Coppola for being smart enough to work with him.

The acting, of course, is pretty good too, except I've come to have less and less respect for the craft of acting, because I think it's a lot easier to do it well than people realize, especially on film. There's a great quote from Richard Dreyfuss, which I love so much, I actually bothered to look it up and include here: He said, "I don't think film acting is necessarily a triumph of technique. Film stardom is a friendship that happens between an audience and a performer. It's like you meet someone and you click with that person for whatever reason." Brilliant, and refreshingly honest. (And Dreyfuss rules, of course!) Of course, we love all the principals in this cast, and that's that. I know I'm willing to forgive Brando for using cue cards, Duvall for being bald, etc.

But God, I'm being so drearily serious about this. I really thought this would be a great opportunity to rip into Godfather III and garner some great laughs at the expense of Sophia Coppola. (My God, that girl is unattractive, and I'm sorry to have to say it, but somebody needs to. And to watch her in love scenes with the dashing Andy Garcia is not far from the bizarre juxtaposed spectacle of seeing a handsome male guest star flirting with Miss Piggy on the Muppet Show.

I saw Godfather III only once before, and I was amazed at how awful it was. Much to my surprise, this time I'm enjoying it much more and even see some merit there (although not much, I'm afraid, for the better part of it is residual ... But see how much I've grown in my acceptance and tolerance.)

But the director's daughter aside -- and she's really not that bad an actor, if I'm to be fair -- the film has some moments that are such painful parodies of the first two movies, it's ridiculous. Clearly Francis and company have read too much historic material on the first two movies, and included a lot of embarrassing regurgitations, references and such. ("Never tell anyone what you're thinking," Michael tells Vinnie, paraphrasing (or should I say mis-paraphrasing his father from the first film, and just sounding stupid in the process). Oh Please Francis!

And Pacino, who had such a personality in the first two movies, dreadfully falls back on his later-life acting method (complete with the raspy Devil's Advocate delivery), and chews the scenery beyond all recognition when he has his diabetes-induced attack in the kitchen. I found myself laughing outloud in hysterics at this "dramatic" scene.

And what the hell's with Connie. My god, she looks like the winner of an Anne Rice lookalike contest. And how about Joe (The Simpsons' Fat Tony) Montagne, and his wooden, over-articulated play at Joey Zsaza (or is it Zahzah? ... or Zaa Zaa?) Oh Please Please!! (Duvall was no fool to miss #3.)

But at the end of the day, the package is so terrific -- nine hours of the family we love! Such fun and voyeuristic feasting. One only wishes they'd made it into a TV series when the cast was still young. Kudos to all of them. Yay Mario Puzo, you fat guinea hack! My people will be forever grateful to you! Ciao!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Political Notebook #1 (Why Do So Many Republicans Look Like Nazis?)

June 4, 2010: As many of you know -- well, I'd hope that all of you knew -- I've refrained from sharing my varied opinions on political matters. It's not that I don't have them, you have to understand, but I just feel that religion, sex and politics are too sensitive to explore in this vaguely impersonal medium. And while I like to write constantly about sex and religion, bashing both of course, heretofore my political observations have been suspiciously absent.

But a news article I saw on the GOP candidate for Connecticut's 4th District congressional seat -- "Dan" Debicella of Shelton -- prompted me to say something. Now please understand, I didn't really read the article, but I read enough of it to become thoroughly annoyed. (Three paragraphs, actually, and this is more newspaper reading than I usually do in a week!) Also, there was a picture of "Dan," and this alone was enough to prompt a whole essay speaking out against him. (Why do so many Republicans look like Nazis?)

The point is -- you see, I don't want to just make fun of his picture, because that would be too easy -- he describes himself as "being in the mold of President Ronald Reagan," according to the article. Now I came of age in the Reagan era, and through the 1980s I was a fervent student of American politics and government. Back then I devoured newspapers and news magazines, and could name you all the players in the Reagan administration and what their most detestable traits and crimes against humanity were. I also followed with shock and depression all the awful things that that administration orchestrated, the negative ripples of which are still felt to this day. And when the Iran-Contra scandal broke -- and isn't it AMAZING how many people have forgotten about that, or never even thought about George Bush's role in it -- I sat and watched with awe as this madman (Reagan) wasn't impeached for his crimes. (No, instead they named an airport after him, put him on a stamp, and continue to hail him as some great leader of white men.)

To me, Debicella's association is not much better than saying he's modeled his politics after Nixon's, or George Wallace's, and to see his dark-eyed kisser in the paper, his mouth agape in Republican wonder, it simply weirds me out. I thought the country had outgrown these kind of people. I thought we were on a road to enlightenment, where the public could not longer be fooled by vague, meaningless mottos lauding "less government," and I thought as such a supposedly educated nation, history would have given us the clarity to see what the Reagan administration was about, why it was evil, and why the Republican party truly is the party of greed, denial, short-sightedness and ... well, stupidity.

Now I'm not saying the Democrats don't have their faults. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Himes seems like a nice man -- he's had the opportunity to chat with me and appeared to really enjoy himself, which obviously says alot about him -- but who knows what ugly skeletons he keeps hidden in his closets. (I think we're all pretty sure that his former company, Goldman Sachs, is its own evil empire, and of course I'm always wary of so-called "nice" people, because they often either want to borrow money or saw you sit on something dirty, like gum, and are gaining pleasure at your unwitting expense.) I don't mean to infer that Himes is the type of candidate who'd actually put gum on your seat, but who really knows? Still, when it's a case of the lesser of two evils, how can you chose someone who looks (and perhaps even thinks) like a Nazi over someone who's nice and probably likes animals.

My point is that those who don't remember the past elected idiots are condemned to screw the rest of us up by electing more of the same. Please, on behalf of thinking men and women everywhere, STOP THAT!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Fear Is Real

May 20, 2010: Let's start, while I remember, to note that those little shit heel manipulators at Haagen-Daz have done their part to help mind screw us all, just like the Chapstick people I so eloquently blasted in a previous entry. (If I wasn't so tired, I'd bother to look up the date and title, and reference it, but I'm hoping you'll help a little with this effort by looking for it yourself.)

You probably haven't noticed that, what was once their standard "pint" of ice cream is no longer that. Without any word, that sneaky little bunch of Scandanavian bastards markedly reduced the size of their ice creams containers, roughly from 475 fluid ounces to 410. Now you weren't likely to notice this because, OF COURSE, the price wasn't reduced. Luckily a sensitive consumer (meaning ME) who periodically devotes long, thoughtful moments to studying the Haagen-Daz and Ben & Jerry's offerings at the local market, caught this, and has since vowed to never buy their shitty ice cream again. I strongly suggest you do the same, because as good as it may be, especially late at night when you're depressed and thinking about how awful your life is, it's not so much better than any other brand -- certainly not so much better that we should put up with their petty, greedy little mind F'ing. There are enough strange, mind-mutating pins being stuck in our collective psyches without having to get another from your bloody ice cream man. (Dirty heart-breaking F's!) And who else would report this? No one! And that's why I even write this stupid Blag, and so if for no other reason than respect for my ... Oh, never mind. You people never listen to me anyway!

This brings me to the other side of my mind, which is willowing with fear as we speak (or as I write ... and I don't even know if "willowing" is a word -- that's how debilitated I am!). You see, I've been up all night coughing with the remnants of my awful sickness. Not only that, my stupid cat (who I wouldn't be surprised to learn is in league with Haagen-Daz) has been carrying out all her ridiculous middle-of-the-night cat acrobatics, which mainly consist of making as much noise as possible and then racing around the house like a rocket when I try to throw things at her (little shit). Worse than all that, I distinctly heard a buzzing around 5 a.m., and as I just killed TWO SEPARATE WASPS IN THE HOUSE this week (can you imagine!), I'm sure there's another one somewhere about. (This is why I hate summer, AND Easton.) Worse, worse, I can't find him anywhere, but I keep thinking he's on my back, just sort of hanging there in that cold-weather dumbfounded way stinging insects have when they're not mad with heat orgy, but still languidly alive, thinking up their next awful plan.

So, you can imagine what a terrible morning I'm having. Thoughts of 1984-style ice cream methods, and now a deadly venomous insect clutching to my pajama top. And my hearing is so hallucinatorily acute, I keep thinking I hear the buzz again, but I can't be sure. You wouldn't believe the things I'm hearing. It's awful and disconcerting, and vaguely fascinating too. The problem is I'm so terribly tired, and still rather sick, so I can't even enjoy being all disoriented, I just have to sit here in this gut-wrenching fear and fight off the powerful feeling that I may die at any instant, or worse, be angrily stung by some stupid hornet. I hate bugs, and especially the angry ones that cling to your clothes. Just the thought makes me feel like I've bugs all over me ... and the really awful, awful thing is I can't be sure I don't!

I don't know what else to say, except I urge you to join my flat boycott of Haagen-Daz (despicable wretches). They should be ashamed, and if you eat their ice cream after reading this revelation, you should be ashamed too, and I sincerely hope you get stung by bees.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

May 9, 2010: Before we begin, let us, of course, welcome our newest member to the clatch -- Mr. Musician's Only (a.k.a. Analog Tom). His arrival here serves not only as a vindication of my subtle pestering, but as a veritable honor to those of us who believe our destiny lies hidden somewhere in the cantankerous beats of a metronome ...

Ah, so Mother's Day is back upon us. Those of us who've had mothers know how lovely the experience can be, especially after they're gone.

Now, I don't mean to sound facetious, but my mother kicked the bucket a few years back, and while she had her good qualities when she was alive -- I mean, being human, she must have -- her legend and legacy today continue to grow in girth, like our cat, who just can't stay away from the foodbowl. (Did you know that "girth" was spelled with an "i" by the way, and not an "e"?) What I'm saying is, her death only made her greater (my mother's, not the cat's).

You must understand, my mother was somehow larger than life. (A few of you -- meaning Matt -- remember her, so you know what I'm talking about.) My mother was more id than ego, or perhaps more Narcissus than Goldmund. (Forgive me, I'm struggling with the proper analogy.) She was bold, outspoken -- some would say rude. She was honest and insightful, but controlled all the tact of a West Nile mosquito. She was frighteningly blunt, self-centered, and mythically strange, and yet people loved her, especially people who didn't know her well.

It took some time to pass before I came to appreciate this woman for all her great qualities -- many of which I gratefully inherited, which made me the writer I am today (meaning a grossly underpaid one who has to blurt his noxious opinions into this ether for that minor modicum of creative satisfaction). She gave me -- probably without meaning to, because she was notoriously selfish -- the wide eyes with which I criticize, the insight to see everything that's wrong with everyone but me, the hard nose with which to call a spade a spade (at the risk of sounding racist), and the lovely, sometimes melancholy, sometimes grandiose, appreciation of art, beauty, and those things that are too strange for most people to appreciate, and yet are sometimes the most beautiful of all.

No, she was a good egg -- a rotten mother, but a good egg. And here, I'm being facetious, for she did the best she could with what she had, and I wouldn't have had another, despite all the weird suffering I incurred (including having to eat her chili). My god, who would want to trade the excitement in adult life of having to guess at what being normal is?! Who would want to be just like everyone else?

So, to all you mother lovers out there, I bid you have a happy day of celebration, and know that somewhere, at some time, some woman willingly spread her legs for you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May & Me

May 5, 2010: It's May and I'm still annoyed. Not really annoyed in any harsh way, but I continue to be fed up that people across America, and the world, don't do things MY way (the fools!).

I'm reminded of an early book by the famous poet Ronald Walter Ludley entitled, "Why Don't You Listen?" A wise work that was, and still nobody listens.

But here I find myself ready to rant, and believe it or not, I can't remember any of the 15,000 issues I wanted to rant about. That's sad, because it's obviously a reflection of my decaying mind, coupled with the fact that I don't find anything I have to say of that much interest.

Let's move on ... I'm watching "Magnum Force" as we speak. (It's actually paused, but it's out there in the living room, waiting for my return; I merely stopped to get some peanut butter cookies, and then got distracted.) The point is, it's a grand movie. Not at the level of the original "Dirty Harry," which was brilliantly directed by the great Don Siegel (and which I watched LAST night, and during which I ate many more peanut butter cookies), but it's still very enjoyable. Hal Halbrooke is smashing, as is the young David Soul. Of course, what makes the movie great -- aside from our beloved Mr. Eastwood -- is the exquisite Lalo Shifrin music. (Am I spelling that right? Fucking Yugoslavians!) Nothing beats that man's work, except maybe mine. Let's be honest. Who writes a better blog? (Certainly not Shannon!) And I'm humble enough to admit that what makes it good has nothing to do with me -- remember, I don't actually have much of interest to say. It's what you, dear reader, bring to it. You see, there would be no Mona Lisa were it not for the perception of the Mona Lisa. Now follow me. In a very real sense, I don't even exist, which is why it's so hard for me to get a credit card.

But I digress. And why not? It's May, and all my favorite flowers have already bloomed and decayed, but the first tart, noxious smells of summer foliage are stinking the air, like the overhead sun of L.A. Which reminds me, when are we all going to openly acknowledge that Ashley Tisdale is a great actress. (Has anyone else seen "High School Musical II"? It rocks! Especially the "Fabulous" number!)

But enough about movies, enough about me ... and enough about May. You see, the fact is I despise the hot weather -- I simply despise it beyond belief -- and so I'm literally waiting impatiently for autumn to return ... And then I'll finally be happy and satisfied and pleasant to be around ... Probably ...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ode To Shannon (Woolfe) & Spring

April 25, 2010: I don't know why I like Shannon Woolfe so much, but I do. Perhaps I feel she's one of the few people who understands me (although a lot of that's probably just my imagination). Perhaps I just like her name, (despite the flagrant misspelling), or the recurring image I have of her staggering angrily out onto her porch in the middle of the night to scare away rednecks by bellowing, "Can I help you?!" in a real yocal dialect.

Whatever it is, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate her, and acknowledge her worth ...

Okay, good. Now let's move on. I also wanted to talk about spring flowers, in particular the lilacs I pirated this evening. They're currently filling my bedroom with their lofty sweet scent, and believe me, my bedroom never smells this good.

Spring flowers like these are just good enough to eat, and in fact almost look edible when I'm in the right mood. I've never tried them, of course. I'm not some kind of weirdo. But is it wrong for a writer to fantasize about such things? (Many of you would say Yes, and that's why I withhold Blah-ugh entries (or are they really entrails?).

Anyway, the point is, spring is here, and women are in heat. (I see it all over, though I try to politely pretend I don't.) Men apparently go into heat in the fall, when the autumn temperatures cool their testicles. (I'm not making this up!) But spring is when all our feminine sides comes blossoming out, like so much lavendar in a smelly sash. Isn't that why we have spring? Be honest. You ladies know more about this than I do!

I could go on, because like Bobby Troop, my heart is full of spring. But I'm thinking that I have to shower and shave, too, and I want to watch the end of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" -- the masterpiece one with Donald Sutherland, which I've seen 10 times but still never tire of.

Someone remind me to write a review of it soon. (Shannon, if you remember.) I've got to go and put my balls on ice.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Journalism Tips (and an Ode to Caitlyn)

April 22, 2010: Let me start by saying this entry is dedicated to Caitlyn Hentenaar, whoever she is. She just joined as my 18th official blog follower, and while I'm thankful, it was a complete surprise, since I haven't done an entry in a month (and nobody else seems to care). Yet she took the time to subscribe (or whatever the hell it is you people do), and this loving gesture is prompting me to share more of my potent insights, interesting experiences and acute anger.

And yes, this is one of those angry entries because I'm so annoyed with the people I have to deal with in my journalism work. It's remarkable to me how out-of-control some people are, and since I have accumulated close to 25 years of experience doing that sort of stuff, I thought I'd take a moment to share some of my opinions and, hopefully in the process, move to dampen some of the dreadful habits these people exhibit.

For starters, if a reporter is doing a story on you (or your organization, or event), you are NOT doing him a favor, HE IS DOING YOU A FAVOR. Therefore, don't treat making contact with him (meaning ME) as if you were the queen consenting to daly with one of your subjects. Unless the reporter is doing a piece exposing you for the fraud you are, happily make yourself available at HIS convenience, and remain grateful!

Another annoying thing is the ridiculous proliferation of "media" go-betweens, who largely do nothing but annoy journalists by consuming more time. I can't say how often I receive press releases that require my calling someone who has absolutely no information to give, except the name of someone else you need to call to get information. It's bad enough that every business, college and government agency keeps a barbed-wire fence around itself with its stable of press-relation idiots, but to have little groups and gathering subscribe to that same stupid way of doing business is completely annoying, and merely makes the reporter (meaning ME) resent everybody involved.

I could go on, but I think it'll be best to ease back into this thing. And pending the response from my April entry, we'll see if I decide to ever do another ...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Seat Warmers

March 18, 2010: I wanted to take a moment and share about a remarkable discovery I made last month. After two years, I finally realized my car has these little tiny dials that make the seat heat up. Now, I know what you're thinking -- "What could the purpose possibly be?" I mean, we all know modern man has gotten along just fine for over a century with a cold seat. I was cynical too, believe me. But when I happened upon this switch -- you see, I was confused by the little drawing symbol and thought it had something to do with the ashtray -- my whole world was essentially changed. Suddenly the seat started getting warm, and not just hot, like the heater tends to do. (There's never a day, even the coldest, when I don't find the heat overpowering after a point, and I have to then go through multiple gyrations involving an open window, etc., to find my precarious comfort zone.) No, this seat heater just made me absolutely and comfortably toasty, and kept me so. It was dazzling, and I say without hyperbole that it took me to a level of comfort I'd heretofore only associated with a clean, well-lighted toilet.

Now, as the weather gets warm, I'm still finding I adore my seat warmer. I turn it up to 5 right away, and then let my mood and whims resettle the dial anywhere between 1 and 4. It's a lavish, dare I say decadent frill, and while I remain an old-fashioned man at heart, I still truly and wholeheartedly adore my "new" seat warmer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beware of the Irish!

March 17, 2010: So, I see the Irish are up to their old tricks again. I think we all saw that coming. But be honest -- can any of us really put trust in someone with red hair?

I remember the first time I saw a leprechaun. He wasn't happy and dancing, like in the movies. He was grumpy and hungover, which I saw firsthand accounted for a sickly green pallor. And when I asked him about the pot of gold lore had promised, he got all huffy, made some rude Celtic comment and tried to hit me with his Shillelagh.

No, the Irish are a dangerous lot. Don't be fooled by all those tearful songs about roses and lassies. These people would just as soon chase you down and stuff you full of shamrocks, than guide you to Dublin.

So now we're devoting yet another March 17 to the insane drunken escapades of people who can't keep their own country united. (I mean, are they Catholics or Protestants or what?!) Please understand, this had always been my favorite date on the calendar (not because Italy declared independence in 1861, but it's the same date Ringo released "Back Off Bugaloo" in the UK), until the Irish started honing in on it and ruined everything.

As we speak, millions of them are probably swarming down Fifth Avenue in New York, like fervent homosexuals on Harvey Milk Day, smiling Irish eyes and painting the streets green with their vomit, carrying on like the whole world had been scripted by John Huston.

And I'll do you one further -- I have a very plausible theory that the Irish are really just ordinary Englishmen. In fact, I don't believe anyone over in the UK can really tell anyone else apart, and that they even confuse Australians and South Africans with Scotsmen.

Well, I've said my piece, but I warn you to beware. Watch the roads with one careful eye shut for the goings-on of little green men. They're out there, I swear it, and you never know what these "lucky" people are going to try next ...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why I Hate My Blog

March 11, 2010: The fun's been slipping with this stupid Blah-ugh! Now, every time I open the site to see if anyone's been reading this dreck, I get a familiar cramp that tells me I hate being responsible for producing regular content that has to not only be intelligent and informative, but also funny.

Granted, there are little tastes of hope and satisfaction -- seeing Terry and S. recently join filled my heart ... for like a minute, then I realized they were just like the rest of you -- a horrible band of bloodsucking fanatics bent on pulling the life right out of my soul (or is it the soul right out of my life) with your merciless insistence that I be funny and wise and tasteful all at the same! Please, people, I can't be all three! Can't you just pick two?!

Anyway, I started this Blah-ugh! to share some of my hopes about life, including revelations around my sexual prowess and hatred of people who wear loafers without socks. (I also wanted to show Matt and Shannon up by beating them to the top of the Internet, but instead they both chose to steal my thunder with their own wordy rant sites.) Now, months later, I'm finding I have less and less to say, even though my mind still rattles on uncontrollably, like a runaway train. And in truth, it's not even really sure I'm doing my best part to improve humanity. To be honest, I've become torn between practicing an evergrowing enlightened awareness involving the spirituality of non-judgment, and simply wanting to be funny.

Anyway, anyway, I guess the real point is that I'm getting more and more lazy about bothering to write things out ... And that's why, going forward, I intend to devote more energy into nurturing the sexual prowess ...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Still More on Toilets

March 8, 2010: It's a sincere treat when the toilet flushes at work. This because my place of business features these automatic flush toilets, which make the bathroom-going experience a variable and often adventurous one.

I'm still not completely sure why sometimes it flushes and other times it does not. I've developed a few theories, including one involving fast motion. Therefore, after I've peed, I try to make a series of very quick moves in order to trigger the flush mechanism, which hides behind a dark plastic cover in the form of an all-seeing electric eye.

The worst thing is when I'm forced to sit down. Here, the automatic flusher seems to take on a life of its own, flushing willy-nilly throughout my time, frightening me into rushing in order to avoid another bottom-soaking splash of sanitary conscientiousness.

For my money, I'd appreciate an old-fashioned handle, wherein I could control my own fate. I'm not sure if it's that they expect I might not flush for some strange reason. I like to think they're trying to save me that arduous effort of having to reach my hand out to pull the trigger.

Whatever the reasoning, I merely wish I could hold it all in until the day was done!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ash Wednesday Believers, Don't Read This!

February 21, 2010: I knew it wouldn't last. Reporting emotional memories is fine for some people, but a nasty-minded cur like myself can't quell the compulsion to simply observe and criticize.

That said, how ridiculous is Ash Wednesday?! I mean, really. These people are all walking around with soot on their foreheads. It's comical. Belief is one thing, but how do you convince yourself it's in your best interests to put soot on your face and walk around in public. Doesn't that strike anyone as particularly strange?

It got me to thinking that if the Catholic church -- (these people are Catholics, right? I can't keep them straight) -- ordered everyone to rub dog feces on their foreheads, they'd do that too. Given the directive, they'd bow solemnly before the head honcho and offers words of thanks in Latin while a schmeer of foul excrement was rubbed ceremoniously below the hairline. "Go in peace ..."

Of course, to be fair, other religions do ridiculous things too, and believe me, I think they're just as stupid. One group still won't let women show their faces in public -- even the pretty ones! One group makes the children shave their heads and grow long, dangling sideburns. There are many others, but I can't think of them, nor do I possess the energy to find out about them, so you'll just have to trust me on this -- almost all religions are precariously built upon some kind of ridiculous ritual or another, and anyone who adheres to these weird practices has some small degree of moron in their soul. (No offense. You know I love all of you unconditionally.)

Someone once asked my friend Rick M. about religion. "I'll show ya my religion," he barked between pulls on a cigarette. "It's on a mountaintop."

I don't know why I find this funny, but I do. Perhaps if more people took the rituals of religion less seriously and the spirituality of humor more so, the world would be a less weird place.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Westport & Me (Part I)

February 13, 2010: In an effort to be more like Shannon (and perhaps Dan Woog as well), I've decided to focus more frequent entries on the community around me -- Westport, and Fairfield County -- and the many memories I've garnered there -- both pleasant and stomach-curdling -- ones which helped shape this dysfunctional lad and make him the frustrated, under-employed clod you see before you. (Of course, this is only until I become bored with it and decide to write about something else).

Westport, Connecticut, as many of you know (and yet refuse to believe) is my hometown. While I was born at Norwalk Hospital on a salty day in September, my parents quickly saw to it that I was transported back over the border before I developed any kind of small inner-city habits, like a penchant for boccie. Ironically, the Westport News -- I think it was the News, but it may have been the Town Crier, or some now-defunct variation -- actually ran my picture and a cutline announcing that I was the only baby born there that week. This was, of course, largely because it was a slow news week, but at the very least clearly debunks my parents' later claim that there was some kind of mix-up in the maternity ward.

We lived on Easton Road, which even then was a busy thoroughfare. Our home was a 200-year old former tollhouse that still stands today, and remains one of the few dwellings in the area not grotesquely compromised by modern man's fear-driven need to make everything bigger and tackier.

Life was good and simple, at least for me, being only a baby. We had a dog named Pepper, although his full name was Maximillian Pepper Liotta -- an old English sheepdog, the kind that doesn't have any eyes. Some of my earliest memories involve my evil brother locking me in his outdoor pen, where I'd cry and scream until someone -- usually my grandfather -- came and retrieved me. (Since he lived in New York, imagine how long I sometimes had to wait.)

My neighbor across the street was my best friend, Debbie Gilbertie. She was a beautiful, spirited little blonde with a dog of her own named Chipper. How I ever managed to get across Route 136 to visit her at age three I'll never known, although I think my mother may have occasionally brought me. Debbie and I used to take baths together (although I'm sure she'd deny this, despite what a gentleman I always was). I have great memories of us building with these giant orange cardboard box-blocks she had, on her family's kitchen floor, and us running back and forth around my house with my grandfather chasing us with his cane.

One story I often tell my children was of the time Debbie got a cat. I don't remember its name, but when I went over to see it, she explained that cats always land on their feet. She then proceeded to pick it up several times and, standing up on one of those bright-colored beanbag-like footrests so popular in the late '60s, drop it upside down on the floor. "See?!" she proclaimed each time it flipped over. "They always land on their feet!"

I remember her kind father, Mike (who I don't think was any relation to Westport celebrity Mickey Gilbertie), cutting their lawn with his dark-green Locke mower. It seemed like the biggest lawn in the world -- a rolling meadow that disappeared into the distant trees and late-afternoon sun, which set over the rambling little river miles below in that valley just the other side of their lawn ... In the summer there were honeysuckle blossoms and Debbie taught me how to taste the sap from them ... I also remember playing with Debbie's Barbie doll, which had one of those cars, and we'd have her drive to the store naked as a jaybird and shop, and we'd laugh hysterically ... I remember us riding in the back of Mrs. Gilbertie's station wagon, bouncing around in the days before seatbelts, staring out at the quick-passing pavement, "Watching the road go fast," we called it ... I remember her sister, Karen, had those '60s sunflower stickers in her room, and the four portrait pictures of the Beatles from the White Album hung on her ceiling -- a room not far unlike Greg Brady's in the episode when he took over Mike's den ... I remember Debbie and I intended to get married, but somehow it never worked out ...

NEXT TIME: A visit to downtown Westport in 1969 ...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Class or No Class

February 11, 2010: Many of you (or should I say, the both of you) may have wondered where I've been these past days, and why my blogosity has been so unfulfilling and sporadic. Part of this is my own laziness, of course, but much has to do with my latest time-consuming commitment to a course I'm having to complete (and if you think I'm spelling the word "commitment" wrong, you're wrong, because that's the way it should be spelled, or would be spelled if the world weren't such a backward place and people like Sarah Palin were put in jails or circuses where they belong).

Anyway, I've been blessed with the opportunity to take a class at a nearby university. (I'd explain why in more detail, but it's obviously none of your business, so please stop pestering me, as I'm feeling very overwhelmed.) In fact, the details of this experience are irrelevant, and I merely wanted to take a moment to comment on the state of the upcoming generation as I'm able to encapsulate and blanket-state them given several living samples. (You see, I have that gift of being able to make broad, sweeping judgments based on the most miniscule amount of data. Some would say I'm short-minded, bigoted and perhaps even ignorant, but I like to think of it as a practical efficiency geared toward the computer age.)

Anyway, you'll be summarily depressed to learn that there are a significant number of clods being produced at the Master's level. In fact, I'm dumbfounded to be sitting in a room with more than one "adult" student (and I use the word "adult" in quotes, as you may have noticed) who has their laptop open throughout the three-hour session and their Facebook page up. A few others are more efficient, like a girl who spent the whole last session working on a presentation for some other class on her laptop, only returning her attention to the class discussion momentarily to parrot some crap she'd brought to satisfy the course requirement and make a hearty show of class participation.

It's not all bad, of course, and you'll be happy to hear that the greater number of the students at least seem to be interested, and pay attention. (At the very least, they're much more subtle about their disinterest, and one can only appreciate the class and savoir faire required.) Needless to say, I'm quickly becoming the most vocal, despite my honest pledge in the first week to contain myself. Some of these people really seem to want to get something out of the three hours they're investing there, and have some interest (and perhaps even pride) in what they've chosen to study. The others, they just seem like a bunch of fear-motivated weasels content to worm their way through the world in a vain attempt to fool everyone into thinking they have value. (Needless to say, these are our future Republican candidates.)

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base and catch you up. Maybe now you'll stop harrassing me with your emails and phone calls and fruit baskets. I've got enough psychic pain worrying me right now, trying to sort out what I have to do to get this country (and world) back on course, and the ever-blossoming weasel brigade back into the dark confines of its A hole.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Eight Days a Week

February 3, 2010: I was thinking about how much I used to love Friday, but now I'm starting to see how that's evolved and it's really not Friday anymore. (And all of this, by the way, is merely symptomatic of my inability to stay present in my life.)

For starters, over the past few years I've grown increasingly fond of Thursday mornings, for I've come to see it really marks the beginning of my weekend. I reason that if I can manage to wake up on Thursday morning and get to work, I've pretty much got the week licked, and merely have to float my way through to Friday afternoon.

On the other end, I've long dreaded Sunday evenings as a depressing time of death and sadness. The weekend's over and the party is ending. All things must return to the grey, unimaginative robotronics of corporate life. (You get the idea.) But now, my fear of Monday begins late Saturday night, when the family's gone to sleep and I sit up in front of the TV trying to suck that last bit of sunshine out of the pomegranite fruit fest that is my weekend. The minute that TV turns off, I'm suddenly shipped sadly off into Sunday and all the depressing feelings that it encompasses.

Today, Wednesday, I suddenly realized that I'm starting to find a great exhileration when Wednesday afternoon finally roles around, because it's become my new Friday, or perhaps I should say my new Thursday. And now with Saturday night falling fast from favor, I'm coming to recognize that Mondays are really Tuesdays, more or less, and by the time Saturday morning comes, I may as well get ready to go to work.

I'm hoping that before long I'll come to see Sunday as the new Wednesday and not dread Saturday mornings as much as I do.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No, I'm Not Dead!

January 28, 2010: Thanks to the heartfelt outpouring of support and affection following my last Blah-ugh! entry (wherein some people apparently confusingly thought I planned to commit suicide), I wanted to offer something more upbeat, more lighthearted.

Unfortunately, as hard as I've tried to think of something, I keep coming up blank. This may be a combination of things, of course, but a lot of it involves nutrition. (I just don't think I'm eating enough pie.)

Either way, let's talk of things gay and light, like creme fraiche and holographs. Has anyone ever been to Brazil? Don't you love banjo music? Whenever I see a rainbow, it makes me think of God. Whenever I see God, it makes me think of rainbows, especially the really big ones. Speaking of rain, I find walking in the rain an especially delightful pursuit, except when my shoes get wet. And speaking of getting wet, all this talk of happy, light gay things just makes me as wet as a gay woman in a sewing circle. Speaking of sewing, I read where old people have much more trouble see the tiny eyes of needles. Which reminds me of Donald Sutherland, who absolutely sounded like a Nazi in that movie, the one where he plays the "Neidel," which is German for "Needle." Speaking of Nazis, has anyone ever noticed that "Nazis" spelled backward is "Sizan," which sounds a lot like Cezanne ... and while his clouds may have a kind of awkward melancholy appeal, I find his whole style to be fascistic and based in a dictatorial single-mindedness. And do you think that's a coincidence? I don't!

But let's not stray too far from the more important matters of this day, which in a nutshell center on my ongoing survival and all the practices I do to maintain my fine and spritely attitude. Going forward, let's only talk of all things gay, like Groucho Marx would want us to.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not Tonight, I Have a Headache!

January 21, 2010: It was with the best intentions that I set out to complete a worthy Blah-ugh! entry tonight, but I'm afraid you won't be getting one. I'm not only feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, but humorless as well.

At the same time, I see the waves and waves of people who've arrived new to this site -- my virgin readers! (Why, there must be five of you!) You come here expecting something, and my inherent ACOA guilt prevents me from even vaguely considering disappointing you. For you I feel the obligation to be funny, to wax pithy, to grow in wit, wisdom, and lovingly prepare a bountiful banquet of glib observations and racist, misogynistic Neandrathal one-liners. My only wish is for you, dear readers, to dine on the righteous goodness of my ... And, see, I'm trying and trying, and I can't even make this funny! Gads, what a night!

So, like Dylan's clown who cried in the alley, I'll do my best to carry on in the best spirit of "The Blog & I" in future entries. But for tonight, when I can't stop thinking about all the misery and pain that surrounds me -- and I'm not talking about Haiti or Wall Street, but my own acute discomforts and agony, which are much more vivid and personal and, therefore, worse -- I'll just slip quietly back into the ether of Cyberspace. (I really like that word -- it's so "World of Tomorrow.")

So try me again later ... Just not tonight ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finding Acceptance In My Toilet

January 12, 2010: Looking back, I've found many things in my toilet. (You'll recall the spiritual discoveries I recounted in my August 29, 2009, entry "Finding God In My Toilet.") Well, I'm pleased to report that the miracles continue.

Once again, the "Church" brand name -- a holy blue inscription painted under the lid of the best toilet seats, or at least the most holy -- followed me to the workplace. Imagine the comfort and joy that came just this week when, in the middle of my daily toil, I raised the lid and found my brand of spirituality there at work, just inviting me to get on my knees and pray (were the floors cleaner).

A cerebral man by nature, this experience -- after I washed my hands -- started me to thinking about what it is that makes the toilet such a wonderful place for me. I've addressed the spiritual aspect on more than one occasion, and have written extensively about the privacy and vital solitude of this most holy of sanctuaries. (For those of you who haven't read it, my novel "TEMPORARY INSANITY" offers an articulate summation of my American toilet, and I'd recommend you buy a copy, except it hasn't been published yet, so be patient and read something else for now.) The conclusion I drew this time, however, is that the toilet is a place where I can go and be accepted unconditionally, and this may be its most giving feature.

I don't have to put on airs in the toilet, if you'll forgive the pun. I can be myself. Where else can I go for such a forthright experience -- to stand before (or sit upon) a veritable sanctuary of acceptance -- one that never judges me, no matter to what foul depths my behavior may deteriorate. The toilet is always open for us -- frank and without criticism, willing to tolerate our ugliest sides, even when no one else will, and never one to abandon us even if we occasionally clog it.

Toilets not only service our spiritual and physical needs, but our emotional ones as well. I'd like you think about this next time you have to go. Sure, you're probably making the trip there to drop something off, but perhaps it's time to thing about what it is that you're taking with you when you leave ...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Grandparents

January 9, 2010: I thought of my grandparents this morning, and whether or not they ever brushed their teeth. Not that their collective breaths were ever bad -- on the contrary, their distinct individual aromas all hold wonderful, unique memories in my soul (old cigar smoke and the stink of a sweaty T-shirt among them) -- but times were different then, and even as I sit here edging my way into middle age, I can't necessarily understand all the strength and subtleties that constituted the Great Grandparent Generation.

Nestor, my mother's father, constantly ground his sparse yellow teeth, creating a not-unpleasant, rather musical sound somewhere between a Cuica and someone stepping on a mouse. He ate slowly and regularly, yet looking back I marvel at the fact that those Polish choppers were able to disassemble anything more rugged than a matzah ball.

In honor of my Gramma Manya -- (She always spelled it M-A-N-I-A, for some ungodly reason, but the open-ended depth of the straight joke is too ridiculous to perpetuate in print.) -- I decided to replicate her potatoes this morning for breakfast. (She made the most amazing potatoes, which are nearly impossible to replicate, despite their having only one ingredient -- potatoes.) This got me thinking about how little sleep she seemed to get. What the hell is it with old people anyway?! Why don't they ever sleep? The same was true of my father's parents -- Sal & Jo (Jo being the woman) -- they were like robots that way.

Grampa Sal's capacity to smoke was also remarkable (as was his capacity to talk loud) -- constant cigars and pipes and cigarettes and cigarettillos and all sorts of other esoteric Italian and Spanish-style tobacco products. I think his body composition had evolved so that he was actually partially made of tobacco. (He was brown and wrinkled and looked exactly like Groucho Marx in the "You Bet Your Life" years.) As a former smoker, I sometimes pine for the chance to light up again and bask in the hearty stink of burning carcinogens. And yet my frail constitution has been severely compromised by the terrible times we live in -- so unlike the healthy, pure bodies that were born before the Great, Artful, Awful War.

Gramma Josephine was cool as a cucumber, butchering an enormous purple octopus in the sink as if it were tofu. When she wasn't cooking, she put all her energy into brushing the crumbs before her on the red and white checked kitchen tablecloth, with short deliberate gestures that seemed to go on for the entire evening. (Perhaps there was some revitalizing energy that came of policing crumbs -- a lifeforce benefit brought about by pedantic attention to detail?)

Either way, there was something solid there -- in their teeth, their tireless fortitude, their cell quality ... -- something we don't see that often in these strange peanut allergy-affected times in which we live.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Mannequin Candidates

January 4, 2010: Many things are maneuvering for my attention as the new year (2010) gets underway -- financial insecurities, Nazis, my ongoing search for a good literary agent -- but for my first entry of this decade, I'd like to focus my attention on something much more important to me, and much more pressing -- the new and exciting selection of sexy store mannequins.

I've had a hard time trying to decide which store has the sexiest mannequins. Much to my pleasant surprise -- and bothered attention -- several local places met this holiday season by introducing some of the most fetching female dummies I've yet had the pleasure of ogling.

While some stores are still offering the standard attractive, old-style dolls -- Ann Taylor's, for instance, features the classic headless stand-bys, dressed for elegance and artfully crafted to last a lifetime -- others have introduced new, sometimes-provocative, sometimes-alluring, and sometimes-just-plain-dirty dressing dolls on display for public amusement and, sometimes, utter bemusement.

Chico's has started displaying an amazingly sexy torso -- I mean, I couldn't take my eyes off it. While it lacks some of my favorite parts in a lower half, the top is just so spectacular I could understand dating a headless torso with just that certain something.

Gap has gone one better, with a vivid collection of armless naked white bodies that's not to be equalled. (They're just standing there, like you could go right up to them and start small talk!) Just seeing those dandy displays decorating a wide-open window right on Westport, Connecticut's Main Street, made me simultaneously blush and wonder why I traded it all away by marrying a woman with a head.

If this scintillating selection of hand-crafted beauties is any indication, 2010 promises to be a magnificent, hopeful and breathtakingly tawdry year!