Is It Just Me?

As usual, my turn writing over at The Nudge Wink Report came up before I had a chance to actually come up with a decent premise. Lucky for me, there are always stupid photos in my phone, so I slapped a little pictorial casserole together and threw some bread crumbs on top. It tastes like chicken.

The Nudge Wink Report

It occurred to me that there is a slim chance that no one else sees the world quite the same way I do. It also occurred to me that if that’s the case, you’re all wrong. I can only hope I’m not the only one.

For instance, is it just me, or does the mom of the “affluenza teen” bear more than just a passing resemblance to famed prop comedian Carrot Top?

Affluenza mom - not carrying props, since she was frisked. Photo from Affluenza mom – not carrying props, since she was frisked. Photo from tjcnewspaper dot com

Carrot Top. You know he gives mad props. Photo from Carrot Top. You know he’s got mad props. Photo from zimbio dot com

Is it just me, or does anyone else think cats probably aren’t all that proud of their turds – I mean, why would you bury something you’re supposedly proud of?

Someone in the marketing department thought it would be good to replace the "crap" with the word "pride". Photo by the author, I'm a regular Hansel Haddams. Someone in the marketing department thought it would be good to replace the word “crap” with the word “pride”. Photo by the…

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Luck of the Draw

Here’s my latest submission over at The Nudge Wink Report. It’s more of that inspired fiction which comes from having nothing better to write about and having to just make crap up. In this piece, I’m single and have a crush on my boss. There are bowling alley and dominatrix references in it, so don’t think it’s all mistletoe and candy canes.

The Nudge Wink Report

We were sitting around the conference table down at the NWR office a few months back. Tommy was picking through a carton of Chinese take-out from the joint downstairs, frowning at the lack of recognizable proteins. I had my hand-out and pen in front of me, trying to look businesslike, despite the fact that the page was covered in doodles of dragsters and robots.

Down at the other end of the table past F-Borne and Molly, our two big-deal free agent acquisitions were holding court; Peg tried to pretend that she couldn’t recall exactly how many times she’d been Freshly Pressed. Darla stated that she was Freshly Pegged once, and that was a bigger accomplishment in her eyes.  They took turns complimenting each other and lamenting about dud posts they’d written which had less than 1000 hits.

I rolled my eyes and turned my attention back to the boss-lady, Blogdramedy

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Having Thanksgiving For Christmas

Dawn writes over at Tales From The Motherland.  She decided to list 50 things she’s thankful for in ten minutes or less.  I wouldn’t have known about it, but Darla at She’s A Maineiac and Susie at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride both decided to do it too.  I foolishly got sucked into the feel-good blog party of the holiday season.  If you have any idea as to the writing prowess and massive followings that Susie and Darla have, you’ll understand why I’m second guessing myself.

I wrote the list in ten minutes, but then took the liberty of going back to clarify what the hell I was talking about.  If you’re in a rush, you can skip the why’s and wherefores and just read the underlined, numbered answers.

1. Family – they’ve tolerated me this long….they’re stuck with me now.  Many of them have figured out that you can’t run away from DNA.
2. Friends – I have a few old ones and a few new ones.  I try to keep the good ones and dump the fair weather variety, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who until you get some crappy weather.

No fair weather friends in this shot, all legit.
No fair weather friends in this shot, all legit.

3.Potential – things can always change.  Any life situation has potential to morph into a better or worse version, so I’ll hope and work for the better and try to avoid the worse.  Feel free to post that on your Facebook page with a picture of a sunset.
4. Health – I’m not exactly the spry stud I used to be, but I’m still on the right side of the dirt.
5. Humor – I like to believe that I have a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself.  I know for a fact that I have the ability to laugh at others.
6. The chance to make a difference – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not Mother Teresa, but I like to believe that I’m able to make a little difference in peoples’ lives, and that means an awful lot.
7. Perspective – Hey, it’s in the name of my blog, I’m not passing up free advertising.  Perspective gives me the ability to see things for what they are, and given enough time and clarity, to move beyond the fertilizer and appreciate the flowers.

Lucy insisted I use this shot, as the newer ones show too much of her white muzzle. She's very sensitive about looking so elderly.
Lucy insisted I use this shot, as the newer ones show too much of her white muzzle. She’s very sensitive about looking so elderly.

8. Lucy the dog – She keeps me company when I’m raking leaves and shoveling snow.  She protects my house from skunks and squirrels.  Lucy has left me in the dust in the going gray competition, but I still reign supreme in the baldness category.
9. Time to fix things – Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I feel like I still have the time to fix things.  I can still talk, and listen, and with enough humility, figure out where I’ve gone wrong and do something about it.
10. A chance to savor things – I’m learning to see the value in things.  To take the time to accept the impermanence of perfection.
11. Food, glorious food – My love affair with delicious, wonderful food continues barreling forward despite my growing waistline and skyrocketing cholesterol levels.  Be that as it may, food is best washed down with….
12. Beer – Frosties, tall cold ones, pints, growlers, kegs, brews, suds, ales, lagers, porters, stouts, imperial India Pale Ales, sessions, the list goes on and on.  I’ve finally entered the world of brewing my own.  My abilities as a brewer still lag miles behind my oh-so-refined palate, but I’m working on it.

I'm not thankful fir Kim Kardashian, but she's got her fanny perched on the rim of a glass of an incredible beer, and I'm too much of a gentleman to ask her to move.
I’m not thankful for Kim Kardashian, but she’s got her fanny perched on the rim of a glass of an incredible beer, and I’m too much of a gentleman to ask her to move.

13. Vodka – Yes, I drink vodka too.  I’ll let you know if I start working on distilling.
14. Tequila – Give me a short, neat glass of reposado and let me enjoy the peppery aromas, the sweetness of the first sip, the smooth warmth across my chest as I swallow.  I’m not sure if I need an intervention or a cold shower.

Some might see this bottle as half full, while others would see it as half empty. I choose to see it as all mine.
Some might see this bottle as half full, while others would see it as half empty. I choose to see it as all mine.

15. Blogging – The readers, the writers, the commenters, the strange, dynamic community of people I’ve never met in real life, but care for just the same.  Actually, I did meet one of you, and that’s part of the reason she gets to be called “Darling”.
16. Donald Trump – He keeps me on my toes.  He reminds me of everything that’s wrong with the country.  He helps me to understand how “The Love Boat” was ever the top rated show ion TV.  He also keeps me guessing about that orange fiberglass comb-over.
17. Internet access – Like many things I’m thankful for, I don’t truly value it until it’s gone.  Luckily for me, my home internet service is sporadically provided for a fee by the good folks at Comcast, so I get to appreciate it several times a week.
18. The off switches on my TV, computer and cell phone – These switches are wonderful, yet often over-looked in their functionality.
19. The hope that someday I learn how to use them – Just because I know the whereabouts of those may power switches, doesn’t man I know how to use them – but I’m hopeful I’ll learn someday.
20. The chance that there’s an off switch on my brain – I’ve been dabbling with meditation and trying to sleep at night without the use of prescription meds or excessive amounts of beer, vodka or tequila.  If I can shut my brain off, I think I could really gain clarity (or at least stop dreaming about people in donkey masks).
21. Scrapple– I just realized that if I think about certain processed pork products, my brain actually does shut off for a minute.  Mmmm…scrapple.

I snagged her when I was young and charming. She didn't stand a chance.
I snagged her when I was young and charming. She didn’t stand a chance.

22. My Lovely, Long-Suffering Wife –  I know I already covered friends and family, but my wife is in a category all her own.  If she actually reads this post, she’ll likely appreciate getting the props she deserves, (but she’ll also likely have a problem with coming after scrapple).  It’s not a ranking, Sweetie!23. My memory – I forgot why I wrote this one.  I had something really funny or beautiful or deep to write about my memory, but I’ll be damned if I can think of what it was.
24. Podcasts – I love me some podcasts.  I’m sick and tired of the massive library of music available to me in my car, but the podcasts rarely disappoint.  I started with Serial, and I’ve become a loyal follower of Joe Rogan and a few others.
25. Sarcasm – It’s in my veins, and without it, I’d be even more shriveled up and sad looking.
26. Beauty – I don’t really possess much of it, but I’m surrounded by it.  You should see my wife – Yowza!

There she is, relaxing in a tub.
There she is, relaxing in a tub.

27. People with bad taste – Bad taste is critical for those of us with impeccable taste.  Without bad taste, we’d all be the same, and that would make it tough for me to feel superior to others.

Smooth as a baby's ass, but nowhere nearly as fragrant.
Smooth as a baby’s ass, but nowhere near as fragrant.

28. Male pattern baldness – Without male pattern baldness, I’d have to struggle for hours teasing, combing and applying any number of expensive, potentially carcinogenic products to my luxurious mane before leaving the house every morning.  My lack of hair also exposes my glorious, smooth scalp to the world.  It’s okay to stare.
29. Disc Golf – My son, who I’m already thankful for in both the family and friend categories, has turned me on to the game.  Unlike traditional golf, the courses are largely free, the equipment is inexpensive and there is no use of little electric carts.  Even if you suck, and I do, it’s still a nice walk in the woods.
30. John Lee Hooker – I’m not always as thankful for John Lee as I should be, but I had some blues on while I typed that, and it seemed like a tip of the hat was in order.
31. Seat warmers – My car has seat warmers.  I once thought it was the silliest, most frivolous option one could get in a car, but as winter looms, my tender cheeks look forward to that warm embrace.

32. Grandkids – These things are great!  Mine are fun and come in handy, like when I need a smile or someone to bring me another beer.

Listen to me, child! Drop that stinky sandal and fetch Pappy another IPA. Chop Chop!
Listen to me, child! Drop that stinky sandal and fetch Pappy another IPA. Chop Chop!

33. Coworkers who see what I see – Sometimes work can provide you with such surreal things that you cannot believe your eyes.  Were it not for my colleagues, I might just chalk some of this stuff up to hallucinations.
34. Coworkers who don’t see what I see – This crew is important to me too.  I need to realize how clueless some folks can be while still leading productive, normal lives.
35. Cell phone cameras – Without cell phone cameras, we’d all be at the Fotomat booth down in the Shop N Save parking lot waiting for our prints so we could go to the post office and mail them to Instagram.
36. Ice makers – This one might be a little bit of a reach.  To be honest, I’m pretty good at pouring water into ice trays then popping the cubes out just 12 hours later.
37. Comingled recycling – When I was a kid, we just threw everything away.  Then we started recycling and trash got complicated.  The were bundles of newspaper in one spot, cans over there and bottles in yet another location.  Thanks to advances in sorting technology, we can just about throw all our crap in one place again!
38. “Fargo” – I’m so very thankful for this “place”.  The movie and TV shows have showcased actors who transcended everything else I’ve ever seen them in.  It’s the best show on TV and I cannot get enough of it.  I’m supremely bummed that it just ended, but I’m confident that there’s more coming.
39. The magic of self-editing special memories – This may or may not be the memory thought I had back on number 23.  I’m truly thankful that my memory is able to save precious points in my life while smoothly leaving out icky little details which could take away from the poignancy of the moment.
40. This is harder than it looks – That’s not really something I’m thankful for, but it’s the truth.

Soft Serve 365 days a year.
Soft Serve 365 days a year.

41. The Garden State – I’m thankful for Jersey.  You got a problem with that?

42. New family – I’m getting new family all the time.  A kid gets married – Boom!  Instant crew of aunts and uncles and one or two funny looking nephews.  Unlike old family members, I get a grace period in which to learn names.

Technically, this pic includes family friends and even a couple of grandkids.
Technically, this pic includes new family, old family, friends and even a couple of grandkids.

43. Cat-like reflexes – Were it not for my cat-like reflexes, I might not be here today.  Just the other day I fell over a log while disc golfing and nearly brained myself.  Sadly, the reflexes did me little good, since I was unable to rotate my body one way and my tail in the other, since, you know, I have no tail.

Don't be a hater.
Don’t be a hater.

44. Incredible good looks – I realize that I noted earlier that I possess no beauty, but many people will testify that I am ruggedly handsome.  While my good looks are not of much value in and of themselves, they do occasionally provide me with a few extra seconds to come up with an answer, while the person asking the question is mesmerized by my chiseled cheek bones and dreamy eyes.
45. Delusional thoughts – See number 44 above.
46. 10 fingers, 10 toes – Not only was I born with a full complement of digits, I still have all of them left, ever after more than a century of slamming car doors, operating power tools and flipping people off.
47. Boxer briefs – A man of my years can truly appreciate the winning combination of support, fashionable appearance and upper thigh coverage
48. The clearance section – Not only does the clearance section give me the best value for my shopping dollar, it also provides me with the best place to look for my wife when I’m lost in the store.
50. Shitty counting skills – …and we’re done.

Gas Crisis in the Garden State

It’s that time on the calendar when I have to write over at the Nudge Wink Report. You kids will love this one – it’s got all the good stuff; pork products, farting and legal action! Dig in!

The Nudge Wink Report

This is the kind of story that practically writes itself.  Considering my lack of energy and creativity, I’m all over this gem like stink on poop.

A lawsuit filed against the largest pork roll maker in the state of New Jersey alleges that an employee was fired for farting too much.

For those of you who’d rather not click on the link, here’s the gist of it: A woman named Louann Clem has filed suit against the Case Pork Roll Company of Trenton, NJ.  She alleges that her husband Rich Clem was fired for farting too often in the office.  Mr. Clem reportedly had some serious flatulence issues along with explosive diarrhea since having gastric bypass surgery.

Mr. Clem was given the option of working from home.  The article, which was likely eliminated from Pulitzer Prize eligibility based on content alone, stated that Mrs. Clem worked there too.  The author…

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Presentation Pratfalls

This time of the year for me is chock full of presentations.  People stand before me holding sheaves of notes in one sweaty palm and microphones in the other.  The topics are either required by state law, already detailed ad nauseam in the employee handbook, or a favorite subject of someone in higher places.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to this presentation. I can't see the punchline in my notes because I'm wearing this mask to put the audience at ease. (photo of the author, by his doting wife).
I can’t see the punchline in my notes because I’m wearing this mask to put the audience at ease. (photo of the author, by his doting wife).

As such, this provides me with more than ample opportunity to critique individual presentation styles and keep score with my patented “OP-5” (One Point Perspective’s Presentation Pet Peeves).

In no special order, here are a few of my presentation pet peeves:

  • Power Point Border Patrol – In this scenario, the presenter has no idea how to give us the Power Point without the working border being visible to the audience.  People with good vision can actually read ahead in the slides on the left margin, assuming they are literate and awake.
  • An Old Fashioned Read-Along – This one really drives me insane.  The presenter puts together a presentation, and then reads it from the screen – verbatim – to the captive audience.  I have yet to sit in an audience where there were known illiterates, but if there were, these knuckleheads are only enabling them.
  • The Tongue Twister/Ear Acher – This involves rubbing salt in the wounds of the pre-annoyed victims of The Old Fashioned Read Along, wherein the presenter reads the presentation and butchers words with which they obviously have no familiarity.  This faux pas tends to take away credibility from the presenter  (For the record, it’s pronounced “fox pass”).  Mispronouncing words in your own presentation is the epitome of bad form (That one is epp-ee-tohm)
  • Such A Freaking Joke – There is some sort of public speaking wives’ tale which says that breaking the ice with a joke will put everyone at ease.  The audience is generally already pretty relaxed, sitting in chairs and waiting for the dog and pony show.  Obviously, the joke is only to put the presenter at ease, but it seldom works.  Telling jokes takes a little bit of talent and timing which many presenters simply do not possess.  In addition, there is the matter of the joke being worth telling in the first place.  Tapping the microphone and asking “Is this thing on?” will often result in ear splitting audio feedback.
  • If You Have To Ask… – Many presenters like to offer the audience the chance to ask questions, and this should be applauded.  One can only hope the presenter knows enough about the subject to actually be able to answer.  The pet peeve in this case is when the presenter forgets that he or she is the only one with a microphone and very few people in their audience can actually hear the question.  This renders the answer essentially meaningless.  This is easily remedied by having the person with the microphone repeat the question before answering it.  In the 16 presentations I attended this September, not one presenter employed this simple strategy.
  • There IS Such A Thing As A Stupid Question – Every so often, the audience member asking the question will be sitting close enough for others to actually hear it.  Unfortunately, some people have such enormous egos that they believe that there could possibly be one or more audience members who actually share the exact same problem as them.  As an example, an assembled crowd of four hundred employees are listening to a presentation about their new healthcare plan.  A person raises his hand and asks whether his preferred brand of toe nail fungus treatment will be covered under the prescription coverage.  Those in the audience who could actually hear the question can only stare in nauseated disbelief.
  • Smart Phone/Dumb Owner – This issue is far from being restricted to presentations, but it needs to be included.  Assemblies of employees are frequently interrupted by cell phones, usually those of audience members, sometimes the actual presenter.  When buying a new cell phone, customers should not leave the store without first finding out how to silence the device.  If you refuse to learn how to silence your smart phone, it should be mandatory that your ring tone be changed to “Hey! It’s for me, [insert name here]!  I’m too ignorant to silence my phone.”  This would be particularly embarrassing to anyone unfortunate enough to be named Insert Name Here.
  • It’s A Microphone, Not A Magic Scepter – This is pretty simple.  Microphones work to amplify the voice of the speaker.  The mike doesn’t work if the speaker’s gestures include pulling the device away from their faces. I’m sure someone in the tech department will read this and buy a few really expensive head-piece microphones to keep the big wheels from embarrassing themselves. You sir, are no Phil Donahue.
  • A Little Bit of This ‘An ‘At – We’ve all got our little speech idiosyncrasies.  For example, it’s accepted that teenagers of a certain era put the word “like” in between every couple of words.  Teenagers get a free pass, because correcting them will result in eye rolling and possible sulking.  If as an adult, you feel the need to refer to additional thoughts as “this an at” or to use the non-word “irregardless” throughout a presentation, you will incur my wrath.  I will keep score and draw non-flattering doodles of you in the margins of my hand-out.

In fairness, I should disclose that I myself gave several presentations to co-workers in early September on the basics of using a patient lift.  There was no Power Point and I didn’t use a microphone, so I able to avoid many of the fox passes I listed above.  I put my cell phone on silent and stayed away from jokes, deciding that the sight of me hoisted up in the sling would be comic relief enough.  Irregardless, I’m sure some of the audience members did not enjoy my presentation.

Photo by a bored, vengeful coworker. Smart phone alteration by the author. Does this sling make my butt look big?
Photo by a bored, vengeful coworker. Smart phone alteration by the author. Does this sling make my butt look big?

 

 

Loose Change From The Backseat

It’s my turn over at The Nudge Wink Report. I’ve decided to take readers behind the scenes for a raw look at the creative process. This roller coaster ride of personal expression may be too much for the faint of heart. Hopefully it doesn’t ruin the magic of not knowing where blogs come from.

The Nudge Wink Report

You may have seen the news story last week about the Ku Klux Klan leader who was caught having sex with a black male prostitute who was dressed like a woman.  As a member of the crack writing staff at NWR, I can’t see a story like that and just read it for the information provided and move on to the next article.  I have an obligation to the blog reading community to delve further into the topic and see if there is humor potential.

GIF of Jaime Foxx from Tumblr dot com. There is no indication that the man in the story looked this lovely. GIF of Jaime Foxx from Tumblr dot com. There is no indication that the man in the story looked this lovely.

The average person might not immediately see the subtle nuances of irony in this story.  Luckily for these average people, I saw that same article.  In an unprecedented post, I’m about to give the reader a look behind the scenes and expose the…

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Use A Number 2 Pencil (And Try Not To Piss Off The Taliban)

You may heard about Malala Yousafzai.  She’s the young Pakistani woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to fight for the rights of women to receive educations in a part of the world where females are often treated like 3rd class citizens . 

Seeing that she’s such a strong advocate for education, it seems logical that Ms. Yousafzai would want to pursue a college degree.  Malala stated that she’d condider attending Oxford or perhaps Stanford.  It was reported that if she was interested the latter, she would have to take the SAT’s.  After all, the prestigious California school get lots of applicants and she needs to prove she can do well enough on standardized tests to hang with the big boys.

Skip the SAT's - who the hell does she think she is?! (Stanford cut and paste tree logo courtesy of the author's mad smart phone skills).
Skip the SAT’s?? – who the hell does she think she is?!  FYI: If she wears that red scarf to homecoming, I’m gonna puke!  (Stanford cut and paste tree logo courtesy of the author’s mad smart phone skills).

I can just picture the scene*…

Setting: The lights rise to reveal a small, windowless room.  A red letter “S” with a skinny tree in front of it adorns the wall.  A woman and two men sit at a table surrounded by stacks of paper.  Each has a laptop or tablet glowing in front of them.  Empty cups from fair trade coffee vendors and organic snack bags lay between the papers and computers.  The waste basket recycling can in the corner is barely visible beneath an avalanche of  crumpled paper.

ARTHUR:     What about this Yousafzai kid?

BURTON:     Simple: incomplete application – she had no SAT scores reported.  Stamp her rejected, we keep the application fee and she goes to her safety school or re-applies next year.  What do you two think of this next applicant, Tiffany Amber Carwell?

CANDACE:     Wait Burt, it says the Yousafzai girl won some awards.  Apparently she’s a pretty big deal in Pakistan.

ARTHUR:     Candace, this Carwell kid won some awards too, AND she took her stinking SAT’s like she was supposed to!

BURTON:     Christ Candy!  We can’t keep making exceptions every time some kid has test anxiety or something!

CANDACE:     It was the freaking Nobel Peace Prize, Arty, not 2nd place in the science fair at Clearview High.

ARTHUR:     Clearview is a top notch school, Candace.  You’re being antagonistic and I don’t care for your tone.  For your information, I placed fourth in my junior year science fair, so that should tell you how competitive it is at Clearview.

BURTON:     You two need to stop squabbling so we can move on.  It’s a done deal; no SAT’s, no consideration.  Like I said before, the kid is probably one of those test anxiety cases.  Those kids need to toughen up.

CANDACE:     I don’t know Burt, I think this one’s pretty tough.  Says here the Taliban put out a hit on her.

ARTHUR:     The Carwell girl raised money for a local soup kitchen and volunteered to read stories to local preschoolers…two years varsity field hockey, co-captain her senior year….AP classes in history and French!

BURTON:     You know, that field hockey is pretty rough.  My daughter Allie caught a stick right in the chops, needed 12 stitches.  I think that scar on her chin had a little something to do with her deciding to focus on trying out for the madrigals instead of playing her senior year.  She almost made the cut too.

CANDACE:      Guys!  The Yousafzai girl…

BURTON:     Are you still on that one?!  Get with the program Candy, put her in the reject pile and tell us if you agree on Tiffany Amber Carwell.

ARTHUR:     Seriously Candy, look at all these applications, we’ve got a long way to go.

CANDACE:     I don’t believe you two!  This girl was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin!

Arthur and Burton look at Candace silently, then back at one another.  Arthur straightens the stack of papers in his hands, Burton looks intently at his laptop screen.

ARTHUR:     In the head?

BURTON:     Well then, she’s dead, right?

ARTHUR:     Brain injured?

CANDACE:    No.  She’s not dead and she’s not brain injured.  She’s the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize, and she did it by being an activist for women’s rights to get an education.  She celebrated her 18th birthday by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon.

BURTON:     Okay Candy, if you’re not going to let this go, I guess we’ll reconsider Yousafzai.

ARTHUR:     Did she play a sport or belong to any clubs in high school?

Candace puts her head in her hands.  Lights dim, and curtain.

* I tried to put this little vignette in play script format, but couldn’t figure out how to do it.  It’s not like I’m a Stanford grad, or even a Nobel Prize laureate.