Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Wednesday, October 14, 2020


Oh. Well, Shit.

I turned 50 today. Fuck.

I'm not, like, super freaked out about it. A moment here or there, but not really. But it does make one think. 

I mean, I'm not young anymore. Up until yesterday, I could get away with thinking of myself as young. You might not agree with that, but you can shove that opinion up your ass. No. Sorry about that. What I'm saying here is that I, personally, felt I could claim at least marginal youth as long as I was still in my 40s. Now, I'm not.

Now, I very clearly am on the downward slope. I very clearly have more of my road behind me than ahead. I very clearly am tongue-kissing the grim reaper here.

And so I need to dial up the seriousness. 

I need to work harder to make sure I'm not leaving my kids a world so fucked up it makes The Hunger Games look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms. I need to make sure that the children in my class are receiving a clear view of the world along with their reading lessons. I need to push my elected officials to make BIG SYSTEMIC CHANGES right fucking now.

I have, I think, been doing this before now. At least I hope I have. But now, I'm feeling more urgency. The clock is ticking. The time I have left to help make sure my sons aren't a couple of limo drivers in The Handmaid's Tale is growing shorter.

This is not about getting Biden in the White House and Schumer elected Majority Leader. It's about getting them in those positions and then holding their fucking feet to the flames and making them take action on climate and justice and election reform. 

I'm going to go to sleep now with too much pizza in my stomach and a pleasant day in my memory and I'm going to wake up tomorrow and push for change.

Thursday, July 04, 2019


Sign of the Apocalypse Dept.

My Uncle Jerry read Mad. He read it in the 60s and amassed a giant pile of them, which sat in my grandparents' attic, waiting for my grubby seven-year-old hands to paw through them. Reading those issues, I learned all about 60s pop culture and politics, in a way that no history class could have taught.

The first issue of my own I remember buying was the issue with Superman: The Movie on the cover. ("Superduperman," to answer your question.) There are jokes in that issue that I still remember. Superman calls Lois "ol' eagle-eye" for her keen observational skills; the robot dog in the Battlestar Galactica parody craps a pile of nuts and bolts; an innovative razor uses microwaves to vaporize hairs.

I took the issue in which they parodied Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill to my fourth grade classroom and a classmate took offense to a silhouette of a woman in the shower and told the teacher, who told me she didn't want that kind of filth in the classroom and confiscated it. Mrs. Kaurich was not normally so uptight, but she was probably showing concern for my classmate's feelings. Whatever, Valerie!

I was an even bigger coward as a kid than I am now and scary movies unnerved me. But, I was easily able to make it through them if I had the Mad parody in front of me as I watched. I remember distinctly using this method to take the sting out of both Jaws and Alien. ("Jaw'd" and "Alias", if I remember correctly.)

I viewed about six years-worth of pop culture through the lens of the Usual Gang of Idiots. With apologies to Tom Koch, Dick DeBartolo, Nick Meglin, et al, the writers were a bit monolithic to me and, with the exception of Berg, Prohias, Edwing and the other guys who tended to write and draw their own stuff, I never paid much attention to the writers. But I knew the style of every artist. I could tell my Jack Rickard from my Jack Davis. I had appreciation for the facial expressions Angelo Torres could convey. I found tremendous beauty in raised pinkies and folded feet of Don Martin's characters.

I was always particularly drawn to Mort Drucker's movie parodies. The man could sneak a dozen jokes into the background of every panel. Like absolutely everyone, I adored Al Jaffee. He did a recurring bit called The Shadow Knows which wordless and hilarious. I always did a separate pass through the magazine to focus on Sergio Argones' bits in the margins.

Mad had such a formative influence on my sense of humor. I picked up an issue here and there over the last thirty years, but it wasn't quite the same. I had changed and so had Mad. I did, however, buy subscriptions through the years for--I believe--all my nephews. And my oldest son. Not my niece, though, so that was shitty of me.

Mad is one of those things that shouldn't ever end. I don't care if it's hemorrhaging money and only two people on the planet are subscribing, the world is a better place with Mad in it. The fact that it's folding is one more piece of evidence that we are in the darkest timeline. Stupid, furshlugginer society.

Monday, January 23, 2017


The Shaved Orangutan

Something that bothered me over the course of the last four years was the fact that so many people so often referred to President Obama as just "Obama." Maybe I'm imagining it, but didn't most of us, in everyday conversations, used to say "President Clinton," "President Bush." etc.? It always seemed disrespectful to me and I wondered if it started off with the Tea Party folks and then just sort of metastasized to the American conscious.

But, seeing as how that's what the Right did for eight years and, seeing as how I think T-rump is the most vile piece of garbage to ever sit in the Big Chair in the Oval Office, I'm going to avoid referring to him by his title for as long as he holds the position.

Toward that end, I've been compiling a list of alternative terms, which I am sharing with you here. Some of these, I will say right now, are probably not original, but have more likely filtered down through the ether into my subconscious and I merely believe them to be my creation. With that caveat, I give you the list:

  • the malevolent Oompa Loompa
  • the rusty fucktrumpet
  • Jabba the Douche
  • Taintface McGee
  • the shaved orangutan
  • that bellowing shitgibbon
  • The Ass-Basket-in-Chief
  • the human shart
  • The Dong-ald
  • Burgermeister Meisterburger
  • the executive venereal wart
That's all I've got for now. I'll work on more.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


It Boils Down to This

I have spent a whole lot of time today thinking of a way to phrase my feelings about the seemingly unending series of horrific acts of violence committed by people with guns in our country so as not to offend the people I know who believe deeply in the Second Amendment.

I am not entirely sure why I've been doing this.

Because it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how reasonable an argument I make. It doesn't matter how clear I am that I respect reasonable gun ownership. It doesn't matter if I make salient points about just how unnecessary and ludicrous assault weapons are. None of it matters.

Gun advocates will not debate on realistic, reasonable terms. They will talk about the slippery slope. They will deflect the argument and point at the mental health system or some imagined mistake of President Obama or terrorism or Islam or anything but the actual issue at hand.

And so, because an actual substantive debate is nearly impossible, I'll just go ahead and boil it down to the simplest form I can: fuck you and your fucking gun rights. If you think assault weapons are an okay thing, let's go ahead and shove a few of them up your fucking ass.

If we have fewer ways to kill a lot of people at once, we would have fewer ways to kill a lot of people at once. Period.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Mockingbird II: The Quickening

Harper Lee is publishing a follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird (which is not exactly a follow-up, as it was written prior to that book.) Everyone in the universe is super-excited. With good reason! 88 years old and Lee has never before risked a sophomore effort. You have to imagine she wouldn't have decided to put this out there unless it was really good.

I have to say, however, that she's not doing herself any favors with that odd title. Go Set a Watchmen. Huh. Does not make a lot of sense to me. I think she kind of missed the boat here. It's not too late. The book doesn't come out for months; she can still re-think that title.

You have a genuine American Classic to build off of, why not take advantage? You want something that throws the first book in the reader's face; something that clubs them over the head with the fact that this is another book about Scout, who they goddamn LOVED in the original. 

Here, then, to help Ms. Lee, is a list of titles I think might grab the reading public a little more firmly by the balls:

  • To Kill Another Mockingbird
  • To Kill a Mockingbird II: Mock Harder
  • To Kill a Mockingbird II: Scout's Honor
  • To Kill a Mockingbird II: Atticus Attacks
  • To Kill a Mockingbird II: Revenge of Boo Radley
  • To Kill a Mockingjay (brings in the YA crowd with one simple change)
  • To Kill a Pelican
  • To Kill a Penguin
  • To Kill a Myna Bird
  • To Kill a Motherfucker (kind of a hard-R version)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird and Then Go After His Family
  • 2 Kill a Mockingbird
  • 2 Mockingbirds, 2 Furious
  • To Text a Mockingbird
  • To Tweet a Mockingbird
  • To PM a Mockingbird for Details
  • To List a Mockingbird on Craigslist
  • To Mock a Killingbird
  • To Bird a Killingmock
  • Mock Bird a Killingto
  • To Blah a Blahblahbird
  • Tyler Perry's To Kill a Mockingbird
  • To Kill a Small-Batch, Artisinal Mockingbird (would allow her to charge more)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird II: There, I Did It; Now Will You Vultures Stop Pestering Me!?!
  • To Kill a Mockingbird II: Get off of My Lawn! (the woman is 88)
Ms. Lee, you are welcome!

Photo by Chip Somodevilla

Sunday, October 05, 2014


I Sense Some Disturbing Shit in the Force

I keep a blog for my science classes. Someplace for families to go to look for information on what we're doing in class; resources to help them study; shout-outs to students who excel. That kind of stuff. To make sure that families weren't going to last year's website by mistake, I decided this morning to put one last post on the old blogs with links to the new ones.

Being an utter geek, I decided to use the above picture and the title "This Is Not the Blog You're Looking for." (I have gotten in the habit of just letting my geek side run wild on these blogs. They're filled with superheroes and movie quotes. I'm trying to make sure my students have absolutely no respect for me.)

To find this picture, I typed the original quote into Google and hit "images."

Somewhere around a quarter of the images are of busty gals in droid swimsuits or with just vaguely robotic lines painted on them.

What the hell, Star Wars fans?!? Why? Why do you want to sully the work of Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker with your soft-core smut? Aren't there already enough places to find that sort of thing without going to Tatooine?

Let me try to get my head around this: The original Star Wars universe only had a couple of ladies. Slave-girl Leia is only going to be useful in your erotic imagination for so long and there is no way to turn Aunt Beru into a sex fantasy.

So what these people are doing is, instead of looking OUTSIDE of the Star Wars universe to, say, millions and millions of other "sexy lady" types, they're looking at R2D2 and thinking, "I'd hit that."

Are there even creepier pictures out there of, like, Slutty Yoda or Sexy Greedo? *shudder*

Please, Jedis, please, find some other way to get your jollies. Don't make me associate the word "jiggly" with funny little robot guys.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Goodbye, Garp

At thirteen, I was fat. I was awkward. I didn't feel like I fit in with most everybody else at my middle school in rural Northeast Ohio. We'd just moved from the school district where I'd gone to elementary school to a smaller district. My classmates had been together (mostly) for six years. I was the new kid. The fat, anxious, awkward new kid.

I did not have an easy time of it. I had tried sports in elementary school and I was not good at them. I had no interest in cars. I was an utterly late bloomer who would be completely unappealing to girls for another five years.

I got depressed from time to time.

Comedy was my life line. Weird Al Yankovich, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were what I listened to instead of music. I would never be a musician; I knew that, even at a young age. But I could be funny.

My hero, my absolute hero, was Robin Williams. I'd seen An Evening with Robin Williams a year or two earlier, when we lived in a town big enough to have cable. (This would have had to have been late night, after my parents had gone to sleep.) I'd been a fan since even earlier, when he jumped from Happy Days to his own starring vehicle, Mork & Mindy, which became a staple of my young viewing schedule.

A Night at the Met was one of the first cassettes I bought after I made the switch from vinyl. I listened to it on my shitty little battery-powered tape recorder. I have a very clear memory of driving the little tractor we used at my grandparents' campground (where we were living after leaving town) and sitting the tape recorder on my lap so I could listen to Night at the Met.

"How do you like the play, Mr. Lincoln? Duck!" "Cocaine, is our little gift to the white man for what you did to us." "You wake up, he's been awake for an hour. 'Morning! Time for jumping ja-a-acks!'" "They say your 'friend has come to town.' Bullshit! What kind of friend makes you want to stand on the roof with a machine gun going, 'Get in the house! Get in the fucking house!'" "Mickey Mouse to a three-year-old is a six-foot fucking rat!" If I sat here longer, I could probably remember almost every single joke on that tape.

I know that, in the years since, his rapid-fire routines have grown stale. We've all seen his mile-a-minute, pseudo-stream-of-consciousness thing many, many times since then, in movies, in interviews, in cartoons, in places it didn't always seem to be necessary.

But, at the time, he was utterly unique and I loved him so much. I wanted to do what he did. I wanted to be just like him. I saw that there was a path out of the sucky middle school place I was stuck.

I'm not a stand-up. That's not his fault, though. I gave it a shot and found out one night at The Robin Hood in Kent that I had no real taste for bombing in front of a hostile crowd. Plus, I discovered that I was more suited to sketch. I still loved Robin Williams, though. Even when I no longer wanted to be him.

He let me down sometimes (even a hick teenager could tell that Club Paradise was a giant, steaming turd.) But he also validated my worship. The World According to Garp was the first adult novel that I read and really loved. The movie version is not a great film, but Williams captured everything about the character that I'd seen in the book. For better or worse, Garp was kind of an ideal for me. A writer who takes care of his kids? That has always sounded awesome, right?

I lost touch, over time, with the thirteen-year-old who adored Robin Williams to that degree. But I felt it tonight. I knew that he'd been struggling with his addiction after a long, long time sober. So whatever demons drove him to self-medicate obviously overcame him and now he's gone.

I've got friends who have decried public mourning on social media. But, I have to say, seeing how profoundly this loss has affected so many people made me feel better tonight.

I know how I will spend my time tomorrow: listening to A Night at the Met and watching The World According to Garp. Rest in peace, Mr. Williams.