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.

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.







The Cyclical Nature of Fashion

It’s my turn over the barrel again at The Nudge Wink Report. As you can imagine, the last few weeks of news left me any number of options as to what to write about. Instead of taking the easy route and talking about the restaurant that put yoga mat ingredients in their rolls and pedophiles in their ads, I took the high road and delved into the world of bad cycling fashion. What can I say, I’m just classy that way. Please enjoy the read and the road responsibly – those uniforms only make it look like the ladies are naked.

nudge. wink. report.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the controversial new uniform for a Colombian women’s cycling team.

Perhaps you have a life and don’t troll the interweb looking for weird crap to put in your Saturday blog post.

If you fit in the latter category, then allow me to tell you all about it.

A picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, so I’ll post the photo below and you can see for yourselves.

I don't know why, but this team photo makes me feel dirty. I don’t know why, but this team photo makes me feel dirty.  I think we can all thank our lucky stars that the managers of cycling teams don’t traditionally wear the same uniform as the athletes.

Apparently the designer thought that covering the entire uniform with corporate logos was sooo last year. Instead, he made the cutting edge fashion choice of covering the crotch and lower torso of the outfit with a swatch of skin colored material, or as…

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Truly Horrible Detective

Rumor has it that season 3 of True Detective will be set in the suburbs and they'll just use the same aerial photos over and over. (Image from skyscrapercity dot com)
Rumor has it that season 3 of True Detective will be set in the suburbs and they’ll just use the same aerial footage over and over – because you know, suburbs.  (Image from skyscrapercity dot com)

I’m far from the first person to point out how disappointingly bad the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” has been. I just watched another recorded episode last night, in the futile hopes that the series would somehow pull itself together.  I’d watch the finale but I’ve gotten behind on “Naked and Afraid” and to be honest, even watching filthy digitized people eat barbequed snake is more entertaining than this season’s edition of “True Detective”.

The first season was quite good, and cynical viewers might have expected a certain amount of drop-off in quality for season two, but this has been more along the lines of a bungee jump without the cord.  Here are a few comparisons of how using the same recipe with different ingredients can go horribly wrong:

Season 1: Aerial shots of vast Louisiana swamps and woodlands – worked because it reinforced the plot.  You could easily imagine creepy people doing awful things out in the middle of nowhere.

Season 2: Aerial shots of vast highway interchanges and rail yards – didn’t work because the shots brought to mind strip mining and commuting more than violent crime.  It also seemed like there was twice as much aerial footage – maybe they had extra money in the budget for helicopter shots.  At least it reduced the number of times we had to look at Collin Farrell pushing his Shemp-style hair back out of his face.

Quiet you numbskull! I'm trying to solve crimes and sulk! (Image from movieline dot com)
Quiet you numbskull! I’m trying to solve crimes and sulk! (Image from movieline dot com)

Season 1: Powerful secret organization hides terrible secrets of child abuse and murder – worked because anyone perpetrating such atrocious crimes would be secretive by nature, and who doesn’t suspect that powerful, rich people are up to no good?

Season 2: Powerful men have big sex parties with beautiful prostitutes and/or meet in richly appointed studies to make shady land deals – didn’t work because while the idea of shady land deals is entirely believable, the thought of captains of industry and politicians having orgiastic fun in front of one another is absurd.

I don't care how hot your date is; if you see a couple like this across the room at the mansion, it's gonna be a buzz-kill. (Image from africanewsposts dot com)
I don’t care if you have a hot date and a wrinkle fetish; if you see a couple like this across the rumpus room at the mansion, it’s gonna be a buzz-kill. (Image from africanewsposts dot com)

Season 1: Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughay play cops with personal demons and are dedicated to solving a case despite  overwhelming odds against them – worked because Woody portrayed a blue collar cop who plays fast and loose, while McConaughay’s character is a brainiac whose oddness and intellect are both his best and worst enemies.  Harrelson’s character is responsible for asking McConaughay’s WTF he’s talking about during his philosophical rants.

Season 2: Collin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch play cops with personal demons and are dedicated to solving a case despite overwhelming odds against them – didn’t work because for the most part, it was difficult to have much compassion for any of them.  Every other line had one of them making obtuse comments about the meaning of life.  The is no sounding board character, so the audience must ask WTF these people are talking about during their philosophical rants.

Interesting. Is this a sexual analogy or are there actual blue balls in your heart? (Image from wikia dot com)
Interesting. You say that you should “..never do anything out of hunger, not even eating“.  Is there another reason to eat, or will you explain it to me in the next episode? (Image from wikia dot com)

Season 1: Opening credits, music – worked because the images and music evoked the overlapping of good and bad, light and dark, etc.  Hearing the theme song “Far From Any Road” still creeps me out.  The low, mechanical rumble during suspenseful scenes brings to mind the beating heart of a dangerous, hidden evil.

Season 2: Opening credits, theme music – did not work because…I don’t even know why it didn’t work, but it didn’t.  The theme song title, “Nevermind”  sounds like good advice.  The low, mechanical rumble during suspenseful scenes brings to mind the possibility that someone is having an MRI nearby.

Odds and Ends:

  • The bruised girl singing in the dive bar every time Collin Farrel’s character needs to have a confidential meeting.  I’m sorry, there’s just no way she gets to sing there or anywhere else – not even on open-mike night in the City of the Deaf.  Replace that droning songbird with the karaoke talents of out-of-town businessmen singing The Cowboy Junkies songbook.
  • The cops, one of whom was working in the same capacity as Erik Estrada’s character on CHiPs, have the ability to look at complicated legal documents and instantly determine what the fuck they actually mean.  I didn’t realize that motorcycle cops had advanced training in contract law.
  • Collin Farrel’s pudgy, ginger son – I know about as much about genetics as I do about the legal documents for land transactions, but I know it’s genetically impossible to have a kid who looks like that from any combination of those three parents.
  • They always pick the right door for the plot.  Kitsch’s character is being held in a labyrinth of tunnels which according to one of the bad guys, “runs beneath the entire city.”  He somehow escapes, killing a half dozen special forces guys who shine their flashlights to give him good targets.  After scrambling through miles of tunnels, he emerges via a ladder up to the street level, and the last bad cop is standing right behind the door waiting to shoot him in the back.  In an earlier scene, Rachel McAdams is stumbling around a huge mansion dragging a drugged woman along behind her.  No one is able to stop her despite her sluggish cargo.  She happens to emerge from one of the dozen or more available exterior doors to where Kitsch is standing waiting for her.  I can’t find the men’s room at the Cheesecake Factory but somehow these characters manage to pick the right door.
  • Some of the most stilted, unnatural dialogue I’ve ever heard.  Vince Vaughn’s character alone has more awkward things to say in any one episode than I’ve said in my entire life (including some epic drunken stupors and childhood night terrors).  It’s difficult to imagine an actor reading those lines and not asking for someone to consider rewriting it to sound like it’s being said by a human being.  If you think I’m exaggerating, please note that in one scene, Vince Vaughn’s character made an analogy that not being able to identify his enemies “Is balls in your heart“.
I'm no cardiologist, but I'm thinking this can't be good.
I’m no cardiologist, but I’m thinking this can’t be good.

HBO has contracted with writer Nic Pizzolatto for one more season.  Like any true optimistic masochist, I’ll tune in to see if the same formula for season 3 yields an incredible souffle or cold scrambled eggs.  A quick FYI; I have a couple of manuscripts on the back burner if HBO is looking for new writing talent.

One Point’s Guide To Tough Times

This is a perfect example of a good place for Josh to cut down on spending.  Just order one coffee at a time and go to places with free refills.  (Photo from hoopshabit dot com).
This is a perfect example of a good place for Josh to cut down on spending. Just order one coffee at a time and go to places with free refills. (Photo from hoopshabit dot com).

Josh Smith is upset. He’s gone on the record and stated the obvious: His making a mere 6.9 million dollars next year is going to be tough on his family.

No Shit!! Amiright?!

If like me, you have absolutely no idea who
Josh Smith is, allow me to let you know what I’ve discovered so far.  He’s a 28 year old professional basketball player with career earnings of 90 million dollars or so.  If he started playing professionally at age 18, my massive calculator brain estimates he’s averaged 9 million a year as a pro.

Josh is far from the first young multi-millionaire who’s been faced with financial duress due to slashed wages.  As a public service to these struggling men and women, I’m offering some budget advice.  Even if you’re not a professional athlete or movie star, you may find a few gems in here.  Following just a couple of my financial hints may help you avoid having to sleep on a steam grate near the bus station for another winter.

Everyone knows that buying in bilk can save you money, especially on essentials like caviar, fancy crackers and jet skis. (Collage by the author)

  • Shop at warehouse stores for caviar.  You could save a ton of money!  Down on aisle 17 they usually have great deals on variety packs of crackers to smear those delicious fish eggs on.  Also…look! A Jet Ski!
It's great saving money on vehicle insurance.  Does this private jet really only have one toilet?
Does this plane really only have one toilet?
  • Consider taking Flo from Progressive’s advice and bundle car, home and private jet insurance policies to save on premiums.
This lovely young woman works with me.  To answer your questions, No I neither work in a basement nor a strip club.  The black bar was added to give this illustration a more naughty vibe
This lovely young woman actually works with me. To answer your questions;  no, I work in neither a basement nor a strip club. The black bar was added to give the photo a more naughty, Bob-Crane-home-movie kind of vibe.
  • If visiting a strip club, refrain from “making it rain” with large denomination bills.  Try using rolls of nickels instead.
Kanye knows better than to wear leather pants with chinchilla after Labor Day!  (Photo from rapgenius dot com)
Kanye knows better than to wear leather pants with chinchilla after Labor Day! (Photo from rapgenius dot com)
  • Consider hiring a professional financial manager to help with stretching those six million nine hundred thousand dollars.  I realize doing this will put your Uncle Curtis out of work, but he’s had a good 9 year run – hopefully he can get his old job back working for the county.  He’ll look good driving that truck with his fur on.

You could start a trend Josh.  Rumor has it Labron is out taking a Kia Sorento for a test drive right now!  (Collage by the author)

  • Trade in your gas-guzzling Bentley and opt for a more economical Toyota Prius.  If headroom is going to be an issue, splurge the extra few bucks to get one with a sunroof.
  • Don’t forget to have the people at the arena to validate your parking pass!

Make sure you pack some wet naps.

  • Brown bag your lunch for road games.  Out of town restaurants can be budget busters!  Packing some wet naps may also save you big bucks at the dry cleaners – you know how messy lobster can get!


kk on beer

  • Stay away from Kardashians!  (This won’t necessarily save you money, but it’s good advice anyway).  Take a look at that photo – it’s nothing but trouble; Kimmy’s keister AND evil, delicious imperial stout. This will cost you – If not in money, then in dignity.



Dr. Palmer posing with the elusive giant chocolate lab he bagged on a recent excursion in the south of Jersey.

  • Avoid exotic pets.  Many athletes and movie stars learn too late about the potentially steep veterinary bills and liability insurance costs related to owning jungle cats, primates or birds of prey.  Besides, you run the the risk that a certain American dentist may come kill your pet with a bow and arrow.


Drivin with your homey Flo.  Yo Flo, remind me to get my parking validated.  (Collage by the author)
“Drivin’ with my homey Flo-me. Yo , Yo, Yo, Flo-me – Remind me to get my parking validated.”
  • Encourage your family members to get out there and look for work.  Your wife/girlfriend/baby mama may well have some untapped earning potential.  Remember, if she gets a job near the sports complex, you guys can car pool in the Prius!

1PP Jock

  • Avoid the big-name-jock-strap-trap!  A recent issue of Consumer Reports found that start-up independent manufacturers offer supporters with nearly identical performance as the big name garments – without the big name price!  The graphics on this jockstrap are off the hook!  It’s a shame to cover it up with your game shorts, but the league has standards.
  • It’s never too late to start investing in your future.  I suggest cutting a six figure check to One Point Perspective Enterprises.  There’s no guarantee of dividends, but there’s also no guarantee of a return on your investment!
I plan on cashing that first check and buying myself some snazzy headbands.
I plan on buying myself some snazzy headbands once that first check clears.
  • Finally, if things get really bad, you should consider writing a blog.  It won’t likely make you any money, but it might give you enough perspective to understand that 6.9 million dollars aint too bad for a year of shooting hoops.






If I Ran The World – A Photo Essay of Sorts

Every time I turn around, I’ve got another freaking post due over at The Nudge Wink Report. Thankfully, I had a few pics on my cell phone so I wouldn’t have to think too hard. I suppose you could say I phoned this one in. Yuk Yuk.

nudge. wink. report.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.  Also, don't hate me because I'm king. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Also, don’t hate me because I’m king.

These days it seems like every time you turn on the boob tube, there’s another millionaire tossing his or her expensive, designer hat into the ring for the next go round for the presidency.  No self-respecting White House wannabee would jump into that race without throwing around some big promises.

Their grand, empty words have inspired me to make a few campaign pledges of my own.  My first promise is to keep this post to under 500 words to appeal to those who don’t want to spend too much time reading.  As an added bonus, I’ll sprinkle it with lots of pictures, so I can call it a photo essay.

Here now, in no particular order, are my promises if I was somehow put in charge of a variety of things:

  • If I ran the local pharmacy…

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Wedding

Seriously, does this rainbow glaze make my face look fat?
                          Seriously, does this rainbow glaze make my face look fat?

A great many of my Facebook friends have covered their profile pics in a rainbow gel.  They’re ecstatic about the supreme court’s decision to legalize same sex marriage all across the land.    Of course, my Facebook friends are a diverse bunch and others are very upset with the decisions of the POTUS and the SCOTUS.  As for me, I’ve got more of a problem with the highest court in the land being referred to by an acronym which is just a few letters away from being a ball bag.

As I drove around running errands the other day, I wondered if the I’d be able to detect any change in the world of suburbia now that any two consenting adults could marry.  I didn’t notice much.  Rainbows didn’t seem any more prevalent than before.  I didn’t come across any outdoor same-sex newlyweds having photos taken of themselves with their wedding parties.  Admittedly, it was a Monday, which is fairly rare choice of day for even the most non-traditional of nuptials.

At first glance, this vignette appeared to have some promise, but it turned out to be from a "Trailer Park Boys" themed party.  If you look closely, you'll see that the big lunk on the right is actually holding two beers - what a brute!
At first glance, this vignette appeared to have some promise, but it turned out to be from a “Trailer Park Boys” themed party. If you look closely, you’ll see that the big lunk on the right is actually holding two beers – what a brute!

To be honest, I wasn’t too surprised.  Suburbia is a substantial step away from the big city, where gay pride parades and loving same-sex couples are more than happy to openly express their joy in being finally legally permitted to marry.  I know that there are gay people in every corner of the world, they’re just a little less conspicuous in the land of soccer moms and malls.

Nope, nothing to report except the usual sights; people driving with cell phones plastered to their heads, others driving with their knees while employing both hands to text, still others driving while reading texts, possibly sent by the driver in the next lane.  Some cars had unrestrained children romping around in back seat, cute little traumatic brain injuries just waiting to happen.  It was tough to see many of these folks because they were swerving around me doing 15 or 20 miles an hour over the speed limit.  At the supermarket, someone was parked in a handicapped parking spot but didn’t have the appropriate placard on their car.

It struck me as somewhat ironic that so many people seem to either be terribly upset or wildly overjoyed about what it now officially legal, but so many seem oblivious as to what it means to actually obey the law.

That’s what I get for going on Facebook in the first place.  I should have just paid attention to the road and left the computer off.

Tell Me Tell Me What’s The Word?

It’s my turn over at The Nudge Wink Report, and I’ve decided to delve into why people prefer to only read a few words at a time. They learn these bad reading habits at home, people, and it has to stop! Please don’t be offended if this sounds like I’m describing you, this is entirely about Bernice.

nudge. wink. report.

This looked nice, but quickly became illegible once I hung a couple of jackets on it.  (Image from ourimgs dot com)This looked nice, but quickly became illegible once I hung a couple of jackets on it.This may or may not account for my uneventful sleeping of late.  (Image from ourimgs dot com)

I walked over to a neighbor’s home a few weeks ago carrying a cup measure and an empty Flintstones jelly glass.  I’d been in the middle of making scones when I suddenly realized that I was fresh out of both dried currants and vodka.  For you epicures out there, the currants are sometimes found in scones, and the vodka in consistently found in me when I’m baking.

I’ll refer to this neighbor as “B”, but her actual name is Bernice Waldbaum.  There was no doubt that B would have every ingredient I could ever need, she’s one of “those” people.  I’d also resigned myself to the idea that she would take at least partial credit for…

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Scratch My Back, Baby!

I’m a terminally itchy guy.  I always have been.  When it comes to addressing my never ending bouts with flaky, itchy awful skin, I’m like an artist.  I’m the Picasso of picking, the Stravinsky of scratching. I’m the freaking Jackson Pollock of placating pervasive pruritus.

Since many readers are likely amateurs by comparison, I thought it might be nice to share my wealth of scratching strategies.  The truly itchy know that any patch of skin is fair game for a flare up, but for many, the most annoying are the ones located on the back. Those pesky spots can only be reached by a few yoga enthusiasts and circus freaks with really long nails.

I’ve taken the liberty of categorizing the implements/strategies for easy reference – since no one with an itchy back has time to be searching for answers.

Traditional Back-Scratchers

Disregard the rolling massage wheels on the far end, we all accept them as nothing more than dysfunctional sales gimmickry.
Disregard the rolling massage wheels on the far end, we all accept them as nothing more than dysfunctional sales gimmickry.

Plastic – These are politically incorrect, unless fabricated from recycled milk jugs and lawn furniture.

Bamboo – The green crowd loves these, and they work pretty well.  I prefer mine to be sanded to a sharper edge.  The few remaining panda bears can damn well eat kale like the rest of us.

New-Fangled Telescoping – These are flawed in design – one good scratch and you’ll never be able to close this thing up again.


The distinctive shape and length of this beauty makes it easy to spot in that clutter drawer of kitchen crap.
The distinctive shape and length of this beauty makes it easy to spot in that cluttered drawer of kitchen crap.

Long handled soup spoon – Excellent reach, nice edge, strong stem.  Also, you can stir a big pot of soup with it.  Dinner guests will appreciate your washing the spoon between scratching and tending to the gumbo.

Ladle – Good reach, stem strength, but flawed edge accessibility due to angle of cup

Serrated Knife – Very effective, but not advised for amateur use.


Yard Stick (Meter Stick if scratching abroad) – Excellent reach, though too flexible unless you choke up on your grip.

Ruler – Better rigidity than the yard stick and easier to hide from the teacher.  Use the edge with the metal insert for truly evil itches.

#2 Pencil or Bic ballpoint – Not recommended due to poor reach, and increased likelihood of wrecking your favorite white shirt.

Sporting Goods

This is a women's stick, which is why it has no pocket or testicles.
This is a women’s stick, which is why it has no pocket or testicles.

Lacrosse stick – Traditionally strung – good roughness factor, though has a rather broad scratching surface.  Avoid goalie and defense sticks.

Whiffle Ball Bat – Good stiffness, reach, but mediocre roughness, unless you have one that the dog chewed on.

5 Iron – Good grip, excellent reach – angle of the blade face may not be the best – I’d consider a sand wedge here.


For the record, Lucy has never humped my leg.  I won't comment on KK's possible intimacy with any part of my leg.
For the record, Lucy has never humped my leg. I won’t comment on KK’s possible intimacy with any part of my leg.

Dogs – As man’s best friend, you’d think that Fido would be a natural choice, however canines can misinterpret body language and may start humping your thigh instead.

Cats – If you can get them to pay attention to you at all, these furry introverts have what it takes in the claw department.  If your back bears any resemblance to upholstered furniture, they may get overzealous.

Hamsters – For some reason, these little balls of fluff get nervous anytime people attempt to employ them around the back area.

Paid Help

This lady might be a good candidate, though her nails look a little short.
This lady might be a good candidate, though her nails look a little short.

Man on the Street – If you can subliminally convince them that they are on a hidden camera show and will look like jerks for not scratching, this may result in a vigorous scratch and limit potential demands for reciprocity.

Dominatrix – These aren’t cheap (or so I’ve heard).  If they are too into the sadistic end of things, they may refuse to scratch just to watch you squirm.  Find one who knows how to use a cat-o-nine-tails and hope for the best.

Co-Workers – In these politically correct, litigious times, this one can be a little risky.  You don’t want a threatening call from the lawyer representing Jeannie Whatshername with the nice nails down in accounting.  By the same token, you’d be well advised to avoid asking your boss for a good scratch between the shoulder blades.  If possible, use an inanimate object instead, such as a mailer tube or even a compact umbrella in the closed position.  If you must employ a co-worker, try to avoid moaning or reflexive leg jerking during the scratching.

Spouse/Significant Other – Relationship experts agree that a successful pairing of people requires a degree of give and take.  By their reckoning, a spirit of cooperation is key to a long and successful marriage.  It should be noted that relationship experts are often divorced and lonely.  It doesn’t take a degree in quantum physics to determine that a thirty second, limp-wristed scratching should not equate to your having to do yard work for an hour and a half.  Though itching can be intense and with a sudden onset, you need to take a moment to consider your bartering position and history.

I’d write more about this, but I promised my wife I’d cut the grass.