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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ears to you!

As a follow-up from yesterday's blog, in which I laid out my plans to reap a big payday for being a harvest area for skin cancer in exchange for cash and prizes, here is the result from this morning's little visit to the Skin and Cancer Center of Arizona.

I went in to have a small spot removed from the back of my ear that I had detected due to my keen sense of touch and inability to stop picking at little sores, even if they are located on my ears, in places I can't even spot.

What I thought was going to be a fairly simple procedure - a little "slice and dice" and back on the road, turned out to be a three-hour horror show, where the good doctor had to operate not once, but twice, which is never a good sign. I was left on my own between and after the sessions with a television remote and the cute little high-definition flatscreen on the wall, to which I assigned the endless loop of Sportscenter. I could have chosen to fret over the fate of my ear, but instead I nodded off. Even after having a sports drink, which caused my blood pressure to spike, just before I came in. I am nothing, if not opportunistic, when it comes to my cat-naps.

The cute little nurse who came in to "prep" me for the procedure (which sounds much sexier than it is) poked a couple of little syringes into the top of my ear and asked me if I felt anything. "Nah," I said. "Go ahead and bring in the hedgetrimmers for all I care..." She chuckled in a light-hearted manner, which gave me hope that this procedure was not going to be so bad after all... She told the doctor we were ready and he swooped in like Bela Lugosi and began tugging on my ear. In no time, it was over, the little nurse had applied the hand-held torch to cauterize the wound, and I was bandaged up and left to sit on my own while my flesh was sent to the lab to see if all the worrisome cells had been safely removed.

Nearly an hour later and a half-dozen viewings of Kobe Bryant having his nose broken in a fluke basketball All-Star game mishap, or deliberate swipe at one of the preeminent players in the league, depending on your point of view, the good-natured nurse came back in and swept another syringe from the counter and informed me that they were going to have to take another pass at the ear. Bad news.

She went to work with the needle again and I flinched, feeling the pinch of the needle. "Still want me to bring in the hedge-clippers?" she asked. I chuckled nervously. She called the doctor back in and he went back to work - all I could feel was the tugging at my ear, and soon enough he plopped a lump of flesh the size of the last knuckle on my little finger onto the table. "You go all the way through?" I asked, lightheartedly. "Yes," he replied evenly, as if I had asked if the bisque was fresh. "Really?..."

The doctor left and the not-so-cute nurse took a photo of the ear from the front and back and I asked if I could see. The front looked like the hole that would be made from one of the gauges of which my daughter Logan is so fond - only at the top. The back looked like a butchered animal. I preferred the front-view. "We could have a piece of stained glass embedded in there," I suggested. "Or an emerald, or ruby, or some other precious stone..." The nurse laughed - I was learning that her laugh was usually two steps ahead of my thoughts, like a witch - a witch with numbing syringes and a cauterizing torch. "That's creative," she said. "I've never heard that one before - stained glass..."

The second cut came back clean and the doctor re-entered and sewed me up, closing up the blow-hole where I would have had the emerald mounted, much to my disappointment. It was there, I figured - why not use it in a creative manner. They then sent me away with my ear heavily bandaged (I am not allowed to touch it and must go back in a few days to have the bandage changed) and swathed in a headwrap that looks like it was fashioned from Salma Hayeck's old fishnet stockings.

I wish.

Instead of being festooned with gemstones, I will be left with an ear that appears as if it has been chewed on in a 1950's wrestling match with Haystack Calhoun. I will, of course, spin the tale so that I was the unfortunate victim of an ear-biting Hooters girl when I was attempting to break up a fight over two or three of the vixens, who were fighting over my affections. Until then, I will wear my lunch-lady/ear-pirate headwear with pride. I am clean again, for now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Skin Cancer, Heart Attacks and The Big Payday

You may read "The Big Payday" and think about it as a clever euphamism for death, or going to live with Jesus, or whatever. However, in this instance, I mean the term literally. I have this insurance plan, you see, that is called "Critical Illness Insurance". To the best of my understanding, if I were to somehow acquire a "critical illness", such as cancer, or heart attack or stroke, I would get a check for $50,000.00. It's like a little mini-lottery for the ill.

I know it all sounds dour and gloomy, but here are my thoughts. If I were to have just a little heart attack - you know, enough to get me out of a couple weeks of work, get me serious about a diet/exercise regime and put a healthy injection into my bank account, that would be perfect. Heck, my mom had 6 or 7 of them and spent years being lackadaisical about it before they finally finished her off - I'm much more diligent and should be good for a single little one. I could just take some amphetamines or something and go jogging up the side of a mountain. That would probably be sufficient for a popped gasket. The problem with the heart-attack scenario is that there is no control valve. I could just as likely drop dead, which would kind of defeat the purpose of  The Big Payday. My kids would spend all the cash in a month and I'd still be deceased.

Strokes do not interest me - not only do you have zero control over severity, you also have no idea how your body will react. It could just droop one eye a little bit and make me smile like Elvis - which would be totally acceptable. On the other hand, I might lose movement in the entire right side of my body, walk like Igor and have to learn to masturbate with my left hand or foot. I pass.

This leaves my ace-in-the-hole. I have a tendancy to grow basal cell carcinoma on my skin. It's not a talent that will get me on television or anything, in fact most times it is taken care of, if caught early enough by putting a flourouracil cream on suspect areas. This cream is kind of a magic, cancer-eater and it devours the bad cells that are trying to take over your flesh. At first, the cream makes the affected areas appear as if they are sunburned, then it gets worse and you look as if you've been dragged on asphalt. Then you apply a magic healing cream and it all goes away and your skin is good as new.

I had to do this on my entire forehead, which is considerable - some might say awe-inspiring. The doctor treating me said "Your head is damaged way beyond its years..." I replied, "You should see it from the inside." I have also had this pre-cancer removed by freezing it off and cutting it out. There was a section the size of a fifty-cent piece removed from my left cheek which left my ability to grow symmetrical sideburns seriously derailed. Far more painful was when, during the treatment of my forehead with the cream, I rubbed the area in the night, then tucked my hands between my thighs as I slept. The next day, my testicles were on fire. It was as if I had been a victim of the old "Ben Gay in the jockstrap" prank. I went to the doctor and he told me that I should not touch my testicles after handling the cream. This would have been good knowledge to have beforehand and I wrote a letter to the medical center's board of directors suggesting so. I have since used "you should not touch my testicles after handling the cream" in several delicate peccadillos to varying reactions.

Mike Lyon asked me today what the name of the magic cream was - our conversation went thusly:

Lyon [10:06 AM]: what is your basil cell cream called?

Ford, Jerald [10:10 AM]: flouracile, I believe... not sure about the spelling

Lyon [10:11 AM]: is it black?

Ford, Jerald [10:12 AM]: nope, white as Tim Kempton.

Lyon [10:12 AM]: LOL

Ford, Jerald [10:17 AM]: Fluorouracil interferes with the growth of skin cells. Fluorouracil works by causing the death of cells which are growing fastest, such as abnormal skin cells.
Fluorouracil topical is used to treat scaly overgrowths of skin (actinic or solar keratoses). Fluorouracil topical may also be used in the treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma.
Fluorouracil topical may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Ford, Jerald [10:19 AM]: "Wash your hands before and immediately after applying this medication, unless it is being used to treat a hand condition." - this should be followed by "AND DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR BALLS AFTER APPLYING CREAM."

Lyon [10:19 AM]: good to know

Ford, Jerald [10:20 AM]: yes, helpful. My balls would have been grateful. That, in turn, would have made me grateful.

Lyon [10:20 AM]: just told Jen

Ford, Jerald [10:21 AM]: good man. tell her about my balls? ...BTW... do you ever have a problem finding the exact spot to scratch when your balls itch? I do.  Must have something to do with the sheer acreage.

Lyon [10:22 AM]: I told her

Ford, Jerald [10:22 AM]: about the acreage of my nuts? It's actually quite something to behold.

Lyon [10:22 AM]: let's drop the subject now

Ford, Jerald [10:22 AM]: Majestic, even.

Lyon [10:22 AM]: getting uncomfortable

Lyon [10:22 AM]lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalal

But I digress.

I wanted this to be an educational post - and I hope no one who has lost a loved one to any of these diseases are offended. This is my way of dealing with potential trouble. That said, I really do encourage everyone to have their skin checked for abnormalities that could become troublesome. If you notice flaky areas, or little spots that don't seem to go away, just have them checked. It will most likely be nothing. If it does turn out to be something, you can usually have it taken care of easily if it isn't left to its own devises. In fact, I am having my ear worked on under the knife tomorrow and I have a hunch it's going to hurt like a bastard. But it could be a lot worse - it could be metastasized and I could a check for $50,000.00. Not really worth it.

And take your heart seriously - if my mother had done so, she might still be around and she was a delight.

I could certainly use fifty grand, but I don't think I need it that badly. And my nuts are majestic.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Office Irritation - The Skinny

Every so often, a Milton gets to the end of his office-space rope and either quits his job (or is unceremoniously fired) and makes a surprise guest return visit with a semi-automatic rifle and shoots the place up, the entire episode ending in tragedy and multiple murder/suicide, or if Hollywood has any say about it, sets the place on fire, but not before pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unsigned travelers checks and making his way to a sunny beach, where he can think about putting poison in the guacamole. The end.

Before any of that happy nonsense takes place, however, there are dozens, if not hundreds of triggers that will drive the average office worker completely cubicle-insane and cause him to flip his wig and start shooting. I was skimming the news and came across an article listing the top things that annoy co-workers. It was a lame list, but worth repeating and more importantly, worth expounding upon.

#1: Hygiene - I get that, nobody wants to sit next to a Smelly Nelly. Once, when I worked at Handyman (a precursor to the modern-day Home Depot and Lowes), we had a manager who reeked so terribly of body odor that we bought a case of air-fresheners and left them on her desk. I say "we" because that is the polite thing to do. I am still waiting for my co-workers to pitch in their share of "our" investment.

#2: Other workers taking credit for ones ideas. I do not have this problem - my ideas are usually so outlandish that no one would ever take credit for them. I often balk myself. As a note, these ideas have gotten me nowhere, even when credit is shone my way as if via a Klieg lamp. When the piranha tanks in the cafe' catch on, I'll be waiting for the pat on the shoulder, thank you.

#3: Listening to co-workers engage in loud personal phone calls within hailing range. I agree. I do not wish to hear my co-workers battle with their demons over the phone with an uncaring spouse any more than I wish to listen to them prattle on about their latest unsuccessful attempt at a miracle diet, near-death cat-dilemma or menses crisis. I pass - and that's why all workers should be issued free headphones and the website link for the Adam Carolla podcast.

#4: Stolen food - is this seriously an issue? I would no sooner steal a co-worker's overcooked, under-spiced tupperware container of casserole (try putting some garlic salt in next time, honey) than I would ask to lick their popsickle. That is not some perverted code - I actually mean licking an actual popsickle in-progress. There is only 1-1,000,000,000,000th of society of whom's popsickle in-progress I would lick, and the owner of that popsickle had better have a name that begins with "Raquel Welch".

So, that was the list - underwhelming at best. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

#1: Crunchy/Smelly food - I do not want to hear you eat. It is my least favorite thing to listen to, aside from bad karaoke. If you don't chew with your mouth closed or insist on shoving chips into your pie-hole a half-inch at a time and crunch them to toothy death as you do so, I cannot be held responsible for repurcussive action, up to and including bloody murder. Nor do I want to necessarily smell what you eat. Chances are, your food will smell pleasant and that will make me hungry, which in itself is a royal disservice. However, if you spring from some odd, European lineage, chances are, you are going to eventually bring in some foul-smelling cabbage-based peasant treat that will set off not only the fire alarms, but also the strongest of gag-reflexes in the building. Stick with a sandwich or a microwavable treat, but leave your heritage at home.

#2: Talking to your computer - No one, especially me, wants to hear about the cute email you got showing a kitten in a box or a dog looking up innocently from a pile of garbage it has ravaged in its owner's absence. Nor do we wish to share in your glee that your retarded daughter made an "A" in ceramics class or that your clubfooted son will be used as a reserve punter for the B-squad on the freshman football team. Tally-ho - we have work to do and would prefer to do so without your insanely overcooked cackling at your internet tripe.

#3: Touching my stuff - I don't touch your stuff, so please don't come to my space and fiddle with crap on my desk. Chances are, my things have been strategically placed to provide maximum functionality on many different dimensional levels that you could never hope to understand. Also, don't invade my personal space - it is valuable and cannot possibly be recovered once it has been breached.

I hope this covers the basics - use common sense and good manners and chances are we can keep our little villages from going up in smoke. Or worse.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hitler's Son... Really?

I was skimming the news the other day and saw that a man was claiming he was Hitler's son, alledgedly conceived on a drunken evening his mutter spent with Der Fuhrer before he was Der Fuhrer. An interesting thought - though I was under the impression that Hitler was a tea-totaler. Perhaps one festive eve with a feisty fraulein not only conceived a little Hitler, but managed to change his attitude toward the drink. I suppose we'll never know - it's none of my business.

What is some of my business, however, is wondering why one would admit to being the son of Adolph Hitler - it goes against every instinct of good form, if not outright survival. "Hi, Jerry Hitler - nice to meet you... Yep, you bet - he's my dad... Funny, huh?"  I would think that it might be more prudent to eradicate that particular branch from that particular family tree - sort of like distancing oneself from the Cuckoo Uncle who gets drunk at parties and pinches all the girls' butts. Perhaps a name change is in order, and one should definitely stay away from the cute little whiskbroom mustache, lest passersby confuse your Hitlerian lineage with that of The Little Tramp.

Chaplin, Der Fuhrer before Der Fuhrer was Der Fuhrer.

I saw a photo of the Hitler-spawn, which the news piece had thoughtfully included next to one of his old man. In spite of the fact that Junior had grown a ginger version of the classic 'stache and put a fuhrer-puss on, I saw very little resemblance. Maybe it was the big, stupid-looking glasses - let's see...

Hmmmm... Maybe there's something there after all...

That image helped a bit with providing more of a resemblance between "father" and "son", but upon further rumination, it seems as if the meglomaniac dictator actually looked more like Grouch Marx than Charlie Chaplin, which is profoundly more interesting than speculating on his lineage.

Separated at birth?

But I digress.

The entire point of this article was not to showcase how deft my drawing hand is - that is simply a bonus for you. I believe my original thought was that if one were actually Hitler's offspring, one might want to keep that information on the downlow - grow some mutton-chops, or anything to draw attention away from any possible resemblance to the most evil mass-murderer in the history of known times. Just sayin'.

I know some people have a built-in need for attention and will go to any lengths to get it - but claiming to be Hitler's son has got to take the cake for "Worst Attempt To Get Attention" - second only to those monks who set themselves on fire. That might be worse.

Anyhow, I think that maybe there could be some DNA someplace that might put this baby to bed. I saw a documentary on the ever-useful History Channel and Hitler did have some living relatives from which DNA could possibly be gleaned. Those folks, unlike Junior, have chosen to live quiet lives, preferring not to be associated with the madman responsible for World War II, the Holocaust and jackboots. They might have even grown mutton chops.

An artist's rendering of what Hitler's relatives might look like with mutton-chops. And a cowlick like Alfalfa's.

So, we will have to wait and see how it all shakes out with Junior and his absurd claim that being Adolph Hitler's son is the reason he has such a sour puss. Personally, I can't wait - it will make for more good History Channel viewing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spitting - A Sporting Tradition

People are up in arms this week over a golfer spitting on the green before he putted. Some kind of nervous tic, a part of his pre-shot routine. There is quite a to-do about it and the story was a featured item on Yahoo news. Seriously - because the man spit out of doors onto the grass.

Apparently, these stodgy, anti-saliva milquetoasts have never watched another sporting event outside the gentlemanly world of golf. The links are their domain and the Golf Police will not have their beautifully sculpted grounds sullied by a golfer's overflow. It is a gentleman's sport and gentlemen do not spit. Fortunately, these folks have never had to golf with me and my ilk. We have not only been known to spit on a golf course, but to also curse on it, drive carts in an incredibly irresponsible manner (sometimes while innebriated), urinate on it (usually behind a bush - after all, we're not animals) and we have been known to occasionally walk down the fairway with our pants around our ankles after driving short of the ladies' tee-box. They would be suitably appalled.

Well, thank God baseball is not a gentleman's sport, otherwise the dugout cleaning crew would be out of work.

The baseball dugout - a mini-biohazard in the making.

Baseball players don't even wait to get out onto the grass to spit - hell, they just sluice it right onto the floor of the dugout, where their teammates can all walk through it. Baseball, known for its spitting, is equally notorious for the scratching of genitalia. The Golf Police would shudder to watch such activities on their hallowed field of play. Sometimes baseball players even spit on umpires. Let's see Tiger Woods pull that one off. In fact, players often load up with materials so they can spit even more.

Tobacco - it's what's for dinner.

I don't want it to seem as if I am picking on baseball - most other sports tolerate spitting as well. Football and soccer players don't have any qualms with spritzing the field of play, and I'm nearly certain I saw a racecar driver spitting on the ground during a pit-stop while I was clicking past NASCAR on my way the Food Channel. This could be extra dangerous and cause spinouts, I would think. Not sure - not a big fan, but I digress...

Spitting can lead to creative and classy headlines when utilized properly.

I suppose that my point is that the Golf Police should probably stick to fretting over the important stuff, such as whether or not a patch of dirt is a bunker and therefore unavailable for incidental club-grounding. Then they can assess penalties and cause a player to lose a tournament. Or, they can debate whether or not the boulder in front of the player's ball is actually a loose impediment and allow a few husky bystanders to move it so the golfer can have a shot at the green and then go on to win the tournament. Is spitting really that big of a deal? Let's get our priorities straight - until you can get the baseball players under control, you might be best served to overlook the occasional golf-goober - you'll only continue to look like a churlish sewing-circle of uptight, Victorian fussbudgets with your panties all in a bunch.

One for the road...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Quarter Given - A Father's Tale

                                               Allison                                                 Logan

Meet my children. May I introduce Allison and Logan. They are identical twins, though you wouldn't know it by holding a conversation with either of them. And these days, their looks are totally disparate. There was a time when the girls looked quite similar, causing my brother-in-law to name them "You" and "You". That time has passed.

I have been blessed, however, with two kids with phenomenal senses of humor. I have often thanked my lucky stars that I was not saddled with children who were dolts. I can think of no worse life than to come up with a world-class pun, or a professional-grade put-down only to look onto a face filled with incomprehension and the paranoiac fear of having to listen to me explain basic humor to them  for the 8769th time. That would be my worst hell - aside from the hell that provides no icy draught beer or indoor plumbing.

On the flipside, however - and herein lies the rub - my children have a deadly quick wit and a ruthless hair trigger about them that is hard-wired in them from birth. I would like to think that my own sense of humor is one of pastoral timelessness - one of gentle sarcasm and an easy irony, meant to bring a joyful smile to the listener or reader. That said, my daughters are brutal.

I told Allison last night that my most-excellent spinning, battery-powered toothbrush had died. "Why don't you get another one?" she asked. "I thought I did," I answered, not thinking. Her head turned to me, looking up from her phone, where there was obviously a much-more important conversation taking place. "What do you mean?" she asked. "Well," I said, growing just a touch uncomfortable, having an inkling on what was to come. "The package I picked from the shelf looked like the same package as the battery-powered toothbrush, but it wasn't - it was a cleverly packaged manual jobbie..." She laid down her phone and started laughing. At me. "Wait," she began. "How do you not know that the toothbrush is manual?" I shrugged; more laughter. "I don't know," I said. Apparently, this was funny. "Oh, and eff you," I replied, haughtily. It was all I could think of and "Fuck you" would have simply been further proof that I am a poor father. The girl shook her head, gathered her phone up and bounded off toward her bedroom, still laughing at my inability to distinguish powered toothbrushes from manual. I felt degraded. Maybe I was a dumbass - I sure felt like one.

Granted, I should have taken better pains to ascertain the poweredliness of my toothbrush, but the entire exchange got me thinking - this girl is quick to pounce. Her sister is equally eager to throw kindling on the fire - when the girls were still tiny little guttersnipes, I had bought a fish to put in their uncle's aquarium to make sure the water was safe for fish-habitation. "What should we name the fish, Daddy," Logan asked. "What?" I asked, my mind as always on the driving task at hand. "What do you mean?" "The fish has to have a name..." Allie said nothing, apparently planning her strategy on making her father feel stupid ten years later over his toothbrush selection. "Can we name him 'Ringo'?" Logan asked, already a fan of the Fabs. "Sweetie, the fish probably won't live to see the morrow," I said. "He's a dead-fish walking. Name it whatever you like..." Without hesitation, she replied, "Then maybe we should name him 'John'..." I beamed with pride at my pre-teen's grasp of irony. The fish, "John" lived and was a household staple for many months, until the piranha were introduced into the environment and cleaned out the tank of all other living inhabitants. Vicious creatures, the piranha are not to be trusted around other domestic fish. Another helpful aquarium tip.

But this is not why I am writing today.

I believe that there are some traits that are better to pass on to generations of offspring and others best left to the genetic garbage pile. A vicious temper, coupled with uncontrollable jealousy and questionable self-esteem is better left to the DNA carrion - devoured  by DNA rats and crows and disseminated through the land in small, harmless piles of  gene-pool feces, neither toxic nor relevant. Other traits, such as dashing good looks, sparkling white teeth, an ear for pitch or an eye for hitting a curve ball should be enhanced, polished and placed proudly on the genetic mantle. The ability to tap-dance, work an abacus and follow sleight-of-hand, such as three-card monte is only slightly less valued. After much diligent research in my lab, I came up with the following lists.

Here are some of the least-desirable genetic traits to pass on to your children:

- Paste-Eating. This, topped only by booger-eating, is one of the classic red-flags on the radar of day-care center staffs and kindergarten teachers alike. Youngsters prone to paste eating are twice as likely to commit arson using sticks, fine kindling and a bow-drill. They are also more prone to lactose intolerance and a dislike for dillweed. These and other factors exacerbated by paste-eating, such as pigeon-toe, raccoon-hands and cauliflower ear make for a long, difficult life indeed. Better to never introduce Elmer's product into the home environment and leave this potential landmine to the professionals in the education field.

- Cowlicks. An unmanageable mane can cause a lifelong dependence on hair care products such as gel, hairspray and mousse, blow-dryers, curling irons and straightening tools. This will inevitably result in plumbing nightmares and quarrels with loved ones over Roto-Rooter bills. If your baby has cowlicks, maintain the military "high and tight" hairstyle throughout childhood and tell them how good they look with this style. It's called "positive reinforcement" and can even be perceived as genuine affection.

- A fondness for gambling, boozing and hookers. Just saying.

Here are a few traits you should feel free to pass on to future generations:

- Yodeling. This is a talent that is too-seldom displayed in today's auto-tune world. There is nothing wrong with a good yodeler, and if my instincts are sound, there will be a great upswing in the yodeling world very soon and the best yodelers will be justly rewarded. Be prepared.

- A way with a wrench. A good mechanic is admired by those who have no such aptitude and can save many others who have machinery in need of repair. This can sometimes be parlayed into a good living with sound benefits. I would say the same about computer technicians, but I do not think that the computer will ever really catch on with the everyday Joe.

- Rhyming. If a child can rhyme easily, please encourage this talent. It may lead to writing dirty limericks or a series of bawdy sea-shanties that will live forever in the world of the maritime. It may never make your offspring a dime, but if he or she can be known as the composer of the next "Barnacle Bill, the Sailor", the accolades will span the ages.

That said, if your children get even a little bit of your talent for strumming an instrument, singing a song, making with the yuks, painting a landscape, shooting a basket, catching a football or solving a math problem quicker than his classmates, consider it a blessing. Encourage their talent, wherever it may lie - it may not make a bit of difference in their life as an accountant, entrepreneur or salesman, but they will be richer, more rounded human beings for it. Even if they have a vicious, sarcastic sense of humor, simply smile and say "well-played, young lady..." Then ground them for making fun of you. It will even out.

"You" and "You"

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carved In Stone - Last Thoughts

Tombstones are our last chance to leave a lasting message, memory or image for those who survive us and I for one believe that it is entirely underutilized. There are exceptions, however, and these are the stuff of legend. Some of the best tombstone engravings ever have made it into urban legend. They may actually exist, they may not - I refuse to look, as I am fearful that my heart might actually break if I learn that these gems are not actual epitaphs. Besides, I am notoriously lazy.  Here are some of the best:

- On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.
- I told you I was sick.
- I would rather be here than in Texas.
- He called Bill Smith a liar.
- Tears cannot restore her, therefore I weep.
- I was somebody. Who, is no business of yours.

These are fine examples of leaving behind a bit of humor. I enjoy the fact that often the tombstone is used by the surviving husband or wife to administer one last dig at a mate, dearly departed. "I plant these shrubs upon your grave dear wife. That something on this spot may boast of life. Shrubs must wither and all earth must rot. Shrubs may revive, but you, thank heaven, will not."

Others are rife with irony:

- Ellen Shannon - age 26 years, Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870 by the explosion of a lamp filled with "R. E. Danforth's Non-Explosive Burning Fluid."

-Harry Edsel Smith - Born 1903 - Died 1942 - Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down.  It was.

I have a few of my own that I will sock aside, to be used as appropriate:

- Train - 1, Jerry - 0
- Was instrumental in re-introducing the word "Guttersnipe" into the English Lexicon.
- I should have worn a hat.
- Apparently, I am no Bear Gryls.
- You may want to burn my sheets.
- If there is a God, I want him to know that all that talk of atheism was malarky.
- You're welcome.

I would love to hear other suggestions. The way I figure it, we should convey ourselves in death as we do in life - does getting buried have to be so grave? Ha... That's a pun.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why Cable Television Sucks

First of all, I am not certain whether it is cable TV or satellite TV. There is a dish on the roof, but there is also a cable running from my wall to the box, then another from the box to the television. So, you tell me - it's silly to differentiate for anyone who isn't a cable television installer. We don't care what you call it, as long as when I press the "On" button on the remote, my football game comes on. That's Sucky-Point #1.

This week I changed my cable/satellite television plan. I had three receivers - one in each bedroom and a third in the living room, two of which were armed with recording capabilities. I am sending two receivers back and with tears in my eyes, moved the surviving receiver (the best one - most heartily equipped) to the living room. There will be no more burying myself in my nice sheets and letting Alfred Hitchcock or another dismal Suns loss carry me off to Dreamland. That makes me sad - Sucky-Point #2.

I cancelled my Showtime subscription - the only reason I had it was to watch Rick Springfield on "Californication", then got hooked on the show like a crack-whore. The rest of Showtime was a magnificent disappointment - since I signed up for the channel two years ago, the station has introduced a total of two new movies, both starring Nicolas Cage - Sucky-Point #3. The upside of having the Underachieving Showtime family of stations was that I also got the Encore family of stations, which runs the beloved "Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (Encore Mystery) and a spate of fine Western entertainment (Encore Western). I often enjoy a good Western picture. These stations are gone now, too - Sucky-Point #4.

I also cut my plan down to the bare-bones - the least expensive package possible. When I fired up the living room television (see Sucky-Point #2), I found that I had lost the station that carries the dismal Suns losses and Diamondback games during baseball season. I braced myself for local sports on the radio - it was good enough for my pop and his pop; it was good enough for me. Further investigation revealed that I had also inadvertently nixed The Golf Channel, History II, The Military Channel and a Few Others. I grumbled and switched back to the original plan, sans The Showtime/Encore Package. Back to the television and I was delighted to find the D-Backs/Dismal Suns Loss Channel back in commission. Further perusal revealed that I had apparently permanently assassinated the Golf Channel, History II, The Military Channel and a Few Others. Were they somehow inexplicably linked to the Underachieving Showtime Family? I didn't know and have yet to learn the truth - Sucky Point #5.

If these five Sucky-Points aren't enough to convince you that cable/satellite television sucks, please feel free to leave a comment in the space provided below. I will then add more. Or you can add your own and save me some work, which I always greatly appreciate, being one of the laziest souls on the planet. It's a gift.

Now, all that said, I would like it to be known that I am not one to simply sit back and bitch and wait for someone to give me a hug, although hugs are also nice and equally greatly appreciated. I have a solution that would solve most, if not all of the Sucky Points and seems to me to be fairly straightforward and simple. And when I am King, this will be one of the first changes I will enact. That and cell-phone-blockers installed in all automobiles. There is nothing that can't wait until you get off the road - just last week, I witnessed two accidents where a vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle whose stalwart driver was thumbing away at a cell-phone. I didn't stop, however - I assumed the police would be able to figure these accidents out, given the lack of skid-marks and the times in which we are living. My do-gooderness only goes so far - especially when I'm driving home from work, which is time-consuming enough as it is... But I digress.

What the cable/satellite companies should do is come up with a plan where the valued customer picked his own stations from the list of available offerings. Perhaps a 10-station plan for the resolute, a 25-station plan for those who have a fair notion of what viewing they prefer, 30/50/100 station packages on hand for the extravagant and indecisive. It seems to me that this would be a popular change and would revolutionize the industry. It would also see an unfortunate but necessary end to the peripheral stations with little to no subscribership. Bye-bye "The Watch-Fixer's Network".

Here is a list of my sample-subscription package. The 10-station plan (for I am nothing if not resolute):

1) The D-Backs/Dismal Suns Loss Channel. I would prefer to be able to support my home teams in my home, where beer is cheap, food is plentiful and I can watch in my skivvies. Hockey may be included in the programming - not sure, since even hockey games in the listings on the guide make my eyes glaze over...

2) Showtime. Purely for "Californication", the bastards.

3) Encore Mystery. Or better yet, The Alfred Hitchcock Network, which would be put into the rotation once I have been elected King.

4,5,6,7) ABC/NBC/CBS and ESPN: For sports. It's a pity to waste four selections on channels for sporting events, but again until I am elected King and decree that all sports are to be aired on ESPN and cut out all their useless drivel between events, we are caught in a tough, tough place.

8) The Food Network. Which would be named "The Chopped Network" and appropriately programmed when I am King.

9) The History Channel. I like History. And documentaries - preferably in black and white.

10) TCM. I like classic movies as well. Also preferably in black and white.

There should also be a "Raquel Welch Channel" and a "Silent Film Network", both of which would make my ten-channel list, effectively booting "The Food Network" and CBS, which invariably shows the crummiest sports, straight to the curb.

So comment if you wish to help me finalize my plan for submission to congress, the cable/satellite companies and George Clooney and we will get this thing started. It will enrich all our lives and take a little of the cock and bull out of our daily lives and cut it down to the preferred and enjoyable. And remember to vote Jerry Ford for King in the upcoming election. If elected, I will wear epaulets.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adult Virgins - The Window of Opportunity

I was having a conversation yesterday with a colleague and it was discovered during the course of our chat that we both had friends who had carried their virginity comfortably into adulthood, without otherwise missing nary a social beat.

Interestingly enough, these two fellows had a few things in common. This is a shocker.

Both men were sensitive, artistic types (also a shocker) who, while technically proficient, were not very creative. The example my colleague used was "if you asked him to draw a dollar bill, he was spot-on..." Exactly. But if asked to come up with a currency creation of their own, I am nearly certain that the end result would look amazingly like a dollar bill.

Both men also lived with their parents well beyond the socially-acceptable time limit for a mature, grown adult male. My friend still does, if I am not mistaken, at this point probably simply trying to wait them out for outright possession of the house and grounds to get something out of his 50-year investment.

So, I had a theory...

My thoughts are thus: There is a finite window of opportunity in which one can comfortably lose one's virginity. By "comfortably", I mean organically, given the nature of human curiosity and without the use of weaponry. The optimum time frame for this to occur in the natural flow of American culture is between the ages of 15-25. I discount, of course, the promiscuous pre-teens, just as I do not include religious do-gooders and teens who sign contracts of celibacy. I won't judge either group aloud or in print, but I must take them out of my calculations for a pure set of variables. I hope they understand. If not, perhaps they can focus some of their attention on being resentful of their exclusion instead of putting what I consider to be an unnatural amount of time in on grappling with their sexual promiscuity.

Those between the ages of 15 and 25 are most likely to fall into the act of sex and embrace it as a new, exciting frontier. The four years between the ages of 25 and 29 become tricky for several reasons. First of all, the comfort level for a twenty five year old man to approach the fairer sex in a seductive manner diminishes greatly as one passes into their late-twenties. Conversation grows more stilted and the topics tend to the mundane. Sex rarely crops up in these late-bloomers' casual chats and when it does, it is usually too graphic and comes off as a bit creepy. Men in this age group still have the courage and usually have a job that pays well enough to get tossed off in a massage parlor, or go all out and buy a hooker. This done and out of the way, these individuals still have a reasonable chance at moving forward with normal activity - their fear of and confidence with "the act" having been professionally addressed.

The years between 29 -50 provide the greatest challenge for the chaste. If they are lucky enough to go on a date (questionable), they will be paired with either a much more experienced veteran of the down and dirty, or an equally inexperienced delight who will be just as disinclined to make or respond to a first move as the lucky fellow who had the good fortune to land her for the date. Either date will likely intimidate our intrepid hero and a second, follow-up trip to the movies and soda shop will most likely be rebuffed. There is still a chance to go to the massage parlor or visit a pro, but the likelihood of this brave adventure will most likely be passed over for the opportunity to go sky-diving or learning how to snorkel.

                                         This is a pie-chart summary of my exhaustive research.

Once the golden age of fifty has been attained (kudos), it has been found that men are more likely to be struck by lightening, in turn mauled, then eaten by a polar bear, or hit in the eye with monkey feces on two separate visits to the zoo than to lose one's virginity. Again, at this point the individual thanks his lucky stars for the invention of the internet, because he no longer has to go to Zorba's Adult Book Store to buy his pornography. Everything he needs and is comfortable with is at his nimble, if slightly-arthritic fingertips. He will have given up the idea of losing his virginity altogether and will spend most of his last years fussing with his gun collection and shouting back at the talking heads on C-SPAN. The notion of seeing a woman (non-inflatable) in his bed will have long since disappeared and been displaced by the notion of having his hip replaced so it doesn't hurt so much when he stoops to pick up his schnauzer's droppings.

And finally, the urge to have such thoughts and accomplish such lofty goals will eventually disappear altogether and his fascination with The Clapper will be the topic of conversation at the bagel shop, where our hero will spend hours upon hours with his widower buddies and equally-curmudgeonly old golf pals, right up until the day he stops showing up... Sad stuff, huh? Bet you didn't think I had such pathos in me.

The moral of course is this: Get after it - don't waste your time overthinking the matter. Get it done and move on - as the great man once said (and I paraphrase) - there are planes to catch and bills to pay and he learned to walk while I was away... I don't know exactly how that fits in, but read into it and come to your own conclusions - I can't be expected to do everything for you - after all, I'm busy getting busy...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reason # 6452 Why to Avoid the Sea at All Costs - Meet the Wobbegong

This photograph only further solidifies my already stalwart belief that the sea is no place for fun and games. This is a shark eating another shark. That's how bad things are in the depths of the deep, dark, scary ocean. The sharks are eating their own. What you see here is a Bamboo Shark that is being drawn into the waiting, hungry maw of a Wobbegong shark, otherwise known as a "Carpet Shark". Even the name sounds predatory and duplicitous. Regardless of my tendency to mistrust and fear the Bamboo Shark, I almost feel sorry for the bastard when I see him being sucked face-first into the fierce jaws of the Carpet Shark. Apparently, upon investigation, it appears that the Bamboo Shark is not the most ferocious killer in the sea. From Wikipedia: "They are sluggish fish, feeding off bottom dwelling invertebrates and smaller fish..." Well, there you go. Perhaps the Bamboo shark should think about hitting the gym, laying off the sea-gin and try finding some larger prey that isn't simply littering the ocean-floor, where coincidentally, the Carpet Shark Lives. Incidentally, getting gobbled up by the Great Wobbegong is what you get for picking on invertebrates and smaller fish, you Goddamned shark-bully.

This is the Carpet Shark when it's not devouring a lazy, sluggish Bamboo Shark. Sure, sign me up for some snorkeling...

I have already warned you about great schools of poisonous, stinging jellyfish, man-eating sharks and many sundry predatory sea-creatures, unseaworthy vessels, kelp and other perils of the deep. I have not even yet gotten around to the Deadly Undertow, which is a sneaky sonofabitch, or tsunamis - the great conspiracy of the moon and the tides to wash us all out to sea and all the creatures that await there, jaws eagerly agape, to consume us.

The ocean is nothing but trouble, I tell you - the fact that it surrounds us on all sides and we can't even drink a drop of its beautiful blue water should give us our first hint that it is simply out to get us in the end. The second we dip our toes in the surf, the clock starts running - the lowest, slowest link in the oceanic food-chain has arrived and is here, gleefully splashing around like idiots - the oceanic equivilent of ringing the dinner-bell. So take your cute little skiffs and snorkels and surfboards, paddle off into the ocean's alluring azure waters and enjoy. Just remember, when you step on one of these Wobbegongs and get your legs bitten off, don't come running to me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Lonesome Troubadour Photo - The Skinny

I was asked today about the history of this photograph and I am happy to oblige. When I first had the idea of "The Lonesome Troubadour", I rather fancied myself as a traveling minstrel, roaming the land and playing songs at ale-houses for a free meal and possibly a tumble with one of the local lasses. A grand idea - and in my opinion, along with the distilling of spirits, one of the few that has held water over the ages.

I had recently opened a website, on which I figured I could peddle my wares - sell some books (available at, or Amazon), put up my music (via or post videos through A grand idea, it seemed. So, I needed a photo - one that could capture all my fancies and let folks know that I was no one-trick pony. And as a live performer, I would be The Lonesome Troubadour.

So, I coerced my daughter, Allie to take a few minutes out of her busy day and take some pictures of the old man, posing in front of a bookcase, showcasing his wares and an autographed photo of the Pistoleros from the 90's. And she was more than happy to do so, once I convinced her that if she did not help me out, she would have to do all the dishes for a month and watch me pout.

  This is the original photo - note The Beatles Anthology Box Set and autographed Pistoleros publicity shot.

Once the photo was complete, Allie cleaned up my red-eyes and began to work her Photoshop magic. In what might have once taken precious months to complete, Allie made the photo look pretty friggin' cool... I added some self-promoting text and we had ourselves a promo-shot worthy of Madison Avenue.

Of course the box set and autographed Pistoleros photo had to go into an appropriately fuzzy background, bringing my come-hither look to the forefront, but there was "Speaking of Michelangelo" (my second novel) and the guitar and my sassy face. All bases duly covered. I was giddy with delight. When she had a chance to design tee-shirts for a high-school class, I offered up the idea of Lonesome Troubadour shirts and Allie came up with the stark black and white design that is plastered all over everything I do, like Jerry Lewis's Hirschfeld caricature from the early 50's that the comedian still carries to this day, brandishing everything from mugs to bass drums. Maybe one day, Allison's work will become my own personal Hirschfeld -  if it hasn't already.

How the Club Sandwich changed my life.

I have been called "quirky". I prefer the term "logical", or "oozing with a certain beautiful kind of genius common sense" or "driven by the tides", depending on the circumstance.

However you tend to label my benign madness, it is worth noting that I judge the caliber of any restaurant by the quality its Club Sandwich. Perhaps I should explain...

I ordered my first Club Sandwich as a youth of 18 or 19 - the fact that I never had a Club until I was nearly 20 years-old is subject for an entirely different blog that might be entitled "10 Quality Reasons Jerry Should Invest In Many Years of Solid Therapy". But I digress. I was at the Goldwaters department store at the Fashion Square Mall, in which at that time was "North Scottsdale" - Camelback and Scottsdale Roads. I had been shopping or wandering and sat down at a quaint little outside deli - the weather was nice and there was not a single reason I could think of to sit inside. I read the ingredients of the Club Sandwich and figured I would give it a try - after all, how could one possibly go wrong with turkey and bacon, with some lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise - on toast?

The plate came out shortly thereafter - another prime reason for ordering a Club is that it does not take long to prepare. A restaurant's ability to work efficiently can be measured using the Club Sandwich Yardstick. It was served with a side of potato salad - a decent scoop, and a dill pickle wedge. The meal was perfect. The portion was not too heavy, the food tasty and sides worked with the sandwich to create a sort of perfect storm on my plate of taste and variety.

My life would never be the same.

I was horrified to find that not all Club Sandwiches were created equal. Granted, I am no prude and wholeheartedly support experimentation in life and on the plate. But seriously - do we need to fiddle-fart around with something as elegant and perfect as the Club Sandwich and its classic side accompaniment? A Club Sandwich does not need pesto, sun-dried tomato spread or horse-radish. Nor should one replace the bacon with ham. If you don't eat bacon, order the turkey sandwich two items down on the menu. Of course, it probably won't be three-layered, or served on toasted bread, but if you ate bacon, this would not be an issue. Avocados have no place on the Club, nor do roast beef or chicken. If you wish to muddle with the recipe, then put "Club" in italics, so you don't in turn mislead and break the heart of the traditionalist.

                                     This is not a Club Sandwich. No way. This is a monstrosity.

As far as sides go, french fries are an acceptable substitute for potato salad, as is cole-slaw - this after much deliberation and analysis. I won't get into the numbers, but it has something to do with a scale of decadence, calibration of mood and the same vigorous ciphering used to determine Babe Ruth's bat speed in 1923 versus 1929, using little more than grainy, silent game footage, a strobe light and a can of 3-in-1 Oil with its spout set on fire. Just keep in mind, sides can be tricky and it is not advised to go with fruit or cottage cheese. First off, if you are ordering a sandwich with fried bacon and mayonnaise, you are only fooling yourself by ordering the healthy side. The meal will only be truly healthy if you begin by dumping the sandwich in the garbage and licking up the side of cottage cheese. If you are looking for healthy options, go read a healthy blog. This is a quirky blog, driven by the tides.

I quickly learned to be wary of variation and using my right index finger and a speed-reading technique known as "Von Chicklet's", I was soon able to find and assess the Club Sandwich on a menu - anywhere in the country, though Tennessee dealt me fits - within seconds. If necessary, I would grill the surly waitress or ponce of a waiter for clarification, often sending them off in tears with a few well-placed questions regarding quality of ingredients and sandwich assembly, followed by a sound rebuke and an "AHA!", spoken loudly, with authority and my speed-reading index finger pointing high into the air for emphasis.

The bottom line is thus: The Club Sandwich (with the classic trio of side choices and pickle spear) is a simple, elegant treasure and any restaurant worth its salt will serve it in the traditionalist manner. There is no real need to "Southwestern" it, "Chipotle" it or "Heart-Healthy" it. It is what it is - and what it is is a fine barometer for a restaurant's meta-ethics and appreciation of composition, style and tradition. Feel free to take what I have refined over years and decades of diligent research and make your own decisions - but let the Club Sandwich be your guide. She is a sturdy vessel and will never let you down.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tommy Jordan: Monster or Hero?

I first came across the Youtube video of the father shooting his daughter's laptop while reading the news on Yahoo. The beauty of reading the news online is that you can click on a link to follow up on any stories that you are interested in and come up with a video, or a song, or even another written story that bears interest. I have tried doing the same while reading the newspaper and only managed to poke holes in the paper with my index finger while stabbing at the page with my index finger, yelling "it's frozen up, dammit!"

I watched the video and I admit I enjoyed the entire thing and thought that the father made several valid points about his spoiled, lazy, entitled teenager. Then he murdered her laptop to teach her a lesson. When I was a spoiled, lazy, entitled kid, I was taught lessons with a cuff to the ear or a kick in the ass; apparently, these are not acceptable means of lessonry these days, so parents are forced to come up with creative solutions of their own. Like grounding their kids. Who is this really punishing, I have often asked myself, while preparing a hot meal for the detainee, unable to hear my stories on the television because said detainee is blasting Korean Pop Music in their cell.

Nowadays, we can also take away our childrens' electronic gadgetry when they need some learning. We don't let them use their cell-phones or laptops and we take away the cable box in their room, so they can't watch the 212 channels of television being beamed in from the heavens. If we want to get really nasty, we make them read a classic book - that'll show them.

Tommy Jordan reached the end of his rope after reading a post written by his daughter on Facebook detailing what monsters her father and mother were for expecting her to do her own laundry, pick up after herself and take on some simple chores around the house. She had also been taken to task for not trying to find a job to put some walking-around money in her own pocket. What cruel bastards.

I watched Mr. Jordan shoot his daughters laptop and my first thought was "there's a grand down the drain..." Then I wondered if perhaps there were not more issues here than just this letter - perhaps the note was a cry for help and maybe her parents were abusive or really were monsters. After all, at this point it was "he said, she said". I hoped the family was strong and healthy - a computer can be replaced.

After reading Tommy Jordan's follow-up note on his Facebook page, it appears everyone is okay and after several visits from authorities and local child-protective services, there doesn't appear to be any concern for the children on-premise. It may turn out that he was just like most parents of teenagers nowadays - frustrated, confused and at his wit's end trying to figure out how to get through to his daughter in this day and age where everything is at-hand instantly, in hi-def, streaming and from all angles.

We can only hope that we don't all need to start shooting our kids' stuff to get our points across, because sooner or later, someone with not as much common-sense or rationale as Tommy Jordan will take things that one step too far and that is something to which none of us want to bear witness.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - The Skinny

I have always been a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock. When I was young, "Psycho" scared the crap out of me and to this day, I sometimes see a shadow moving through the light in my periphery on the other side of the shower curtain and my muscles tense, waiting for a hand to draw the curtain back and stab me to death as I scream. Thanks, Alfred Hitchcock - didn't know that I'd have that particular paranoia to carry around for forty years (and counting)...

"The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" was an anthology television series in the mid-sixties, like "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits". Unlike those shows, however, "Hitchcock" didn't dwell on alien invaders, monsters and mysterious time-warps or magical alternative dimensions. The "Hitchock" episodes were dedicated to more human melodrama - greed, jealousy, paranoia and murder were the film de-jour and Hitchcock served them up with a delicious side of irony and justice.

There were generally two types of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episodes: The Rural Tale and The Urban Tale. Both were rife with backstabbing villainary and dastardly misdeeds. A typical Urban Tale was set either in a luxury high-rise apartment like the one from "Family Affair" that only the affluent like Uncle Bill could afford, or a mansion with chandelier, elegant staircase and the inevitable library, where one poured Scotch from a decanter and pulled cigarettes from a silver case on the sideboard.

What I have learned about the rich from "The Alfred Hitchock Hour":

-The rich wear ascots, chain-smoke (sometimes from a fancy cigarette holder)and drink all the time - even at their huge offices, which are so opulent, they sometimes have floor-to-ceiling wall-safes, just like the bank.
-The rich are ruthless and will have extra-marital affairs and plot to destroy their husbands, wives, friends and lovers for financial gain.
-The rich, though good with money, are generally poor planners when it comes to murder and even worse judges of character.

The Rural Tales were more often than not set in a shabby cabin of sorts, or a home that looked like it was lifted directly from Tom Joad's dustbowl Oklahoma. Sparsely furnished, sometimes with running water, sometimes not, the protagonists of these stories seemed much more doomed and isolated from the outset than those of the Urban tales. They drove beat-up jalopies from the 1920's and lived lives of eternal struggle, just trying to make ends meet.

Things I learned about the rural poor from "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour":

-The rural poor have no ascots - they are called scarves and are used to keep the cold wind from blowing down your overalls, they don't smoke as much and when they do they usually roll their own, or stuff it in a corncob pipe. If they drink, it's from a jug.
-The rural are ruthless and will have extra-marital affairs and plot to destroy their husbands, wives, friends and lovers for financial gain. The upside to the rural poor, is that they will also kill over magic amulets or the love of an inbred cousin. I suppose the rich would, too, now that I think about it - just not as readily.
-The rural poor, though stout of heart, are generally weak of mind and easily corruptible, especially when it comes to murder. Also poor judges of character.

The list of stars that I have seen pass through the black and white gates of the Hitchcock hour is stunning and the now-legendary cast of character actors and supporting characters is a veritable who's-who for much of the 60'ws, 70's and 80's film and television. There is also the stars and character actors from the 30's and 40's who have stepped on the inevitable downhill slope. It makes me giddy. There is a visceral thrill to spotting Leif Erickson, Walter Matthau, John Cassavetes, Jack Cassidy, Lillian Gish, Ray Milland, Jayne Mansfield,Angie Dickenson, Bette Davis and my all-time favorite character actor/creepy-villain of all-time, Bruce Dern weaving in and out of the episodes like shiny gray threads in a delightful kinescopic tapestry.

Bruce Dern - he lived to shoot John Wayne in the back in "The Cowboys", the rotten son of a bitch...

Hitchcock himself didn't direct these episodes much, if at all, but lent his name and was on-hand to film the introductions, halftime intermissions and outros for each show, much of the time during which he spent knocking his sponsors and the need for commercial breaks. Brilliant. The outro usually came with an update that the villain of the piece, who might have appeared to get away with whatever dastardly crime he or she had committed, had indeed been caught and was now facing justice. Or living with Jesus.

If you have a chance, settle in for an hour of 1960's fashion, automobiles, backlots and smoking. Lots of smoking. In hospitals, even. It'll warm your heart.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What the roses mean...

Jesus, apparently there is an entire hidden code-system in the delivery of roses worthy of the Enigma Machine. Who knew that delivering different quantities of roses could have hidden messages? I always based the quantities of roses that I would send to a maiden on the amount of currency I had in my wallet, divided by the degree of commitment I was willing to commit to the relationship being celebrated.

I was astonished to learn on my drive home this evening that the amount of red roses one sends a lady expresses the level of love and commitment to the lady in question. Who knew? It turns out that a single rose is a symbol of infatuation. I thought it was a symbol that I only have a buck and a half in my pocket and how far will that get me in the sexual sweepstakes...

I may have forgotten some of the details, but this is what I recall:
A Single rose means: Love at first sight.
3 roses means: I am falling for you - but in a powerful way.
A dozen roses means: Be mine - thinking of you 12 months a year.
13 roses means: I'm your secret admirer.
15 roses means: Please forgive me.
2-dozen roses means: I am yours - thinking of you 24 hours a day.

That said, after diligent research, here are the meanings behind some forgotten numbers of roses:
5 roses means: I should've had a V-8.
7 roses means: I swear to everything holy that I won't come in your mouth.
8 roses means: I would like you to be my number one bitch.
9 roses means: Could you leave quietly, please?
10 roses means: I spilled some cheap brandy on your carpet - forgive me.
11 roses means: I think about you 11 months out of the year.

I was equally surprised at these findings - if you have any insights of your own of further lore regarding any other numbers, please let me know and in the meantime, have a delightful Valentine's day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Yam What I Yam - An excerpt from "The Inevitable Downhill Slope"

It was almost as if the downpour would never end. The rain just fell and fell, muddying the streets, every drop further fouling his mood. “Fucking rain,” Jerry Lewis muttered, his flabby jowls flapping like a kite tail in the wind even with the slightest hint of speech. His oversized glasses slid down his greasy nose and he raised a pudgy finger to push them back, though God knew he had no desire to watch any more fucking rain.

Jerry lived on a boat with his wife and young daughter. Granted, it was a big fucking boat—Jerry often used a line he filched from Buster Keaton when describing his vessel—It took a lot of pratfalls, my friend, to buy this fucking canoe. It wasn’t a direct quote and Jerry never attributed it to the silent film comic, but who remembered that old son of a bitch, anyhow, he thought. I’m fat, he thought to himself, watching a small skiff tip precariously in the bay as it attempted to get back to shore in the storm. “Jerry Lewis should not be fat—Dean never got fat, the son of a bitch…” His dentures rattled around his gums and his mouth pitched and yawed as if it were also being tossed about the stormy waters. It often appeared as if Jerry were sucking a lozenge or chewing a phantom piece of bubblegum as he spoke and his hands constantly twitched and fidgeted as if manipulated by some unseen puppet master. Now that he was fat, these traits were even more disconcerting.

He fiddled with his pinky ring, trying in vain to twist it on his sausage finger, and realized he had not had feeling in the pinky since 1977. “Butter—I should have used some fucking butter. Before I got so fucking fat…” He hated his fucking wife. It had seemed like a good idea to marry her in 1978, but for Christ’s sake, it was two thousand and fucking four and she wasn’t aging all that well. “I’m Jerry Fucking Lewis, Goddamnit,” he muttered. The dentures clacked like a train on a wood bridge and again with the fucking glasses sliding. He raised a puffy hand, tore the glasses from his face and hurled them against the wall of the cabin, which—like everything else he owned—was emblazoned with the caricature Hirschfield had rendered of him in 1954. There was one of Dean as well, and way back then the two were used together. Jerry’s lower and to the right of Dean’s Dago mug. It wasn’t as if Jerry even vaguely resembled the pencil-thin drawing now, with the beak of a nose and the protruding Adam’s apple—but Jerry insisted pasting his face on everything from coffee mugs to bathrobes. And he didn’t care if his fucking wife liked
it or not. Fuck that old bitch, he thought. I’ll get rid of her, too—just
like Patti. He had been married to his first wife for thirty years and broomed her ass with five or six kids—whatever the fuck, this broad had better not think he wouldn’t do the same to her after twenty five and one snotty-nosed, spoiled little bitch of a demon-child. So what if she had stuck with him through the downside of his career, sat by his side through the pills and the whole heart thing. And now the fat thing. Fuck her—I’m Jerry Fucking Lewis.

Jerry had decided he would kill the gold-digger and her spawn. Kill them both and feed them to the fucking sharks. Chum, he chuckled, nearly losing his uppers. He just couldn’t decide on how to do it. Then he would be free to chase some younger puss. His doctors had warned him that sex could be dangerous in his condition. Fat, Jerry thought. Fat with steroids, with a bad ticker and two murders under my belt.

“Who gives a shit,” he said to the portal of the yacht, outside of which
he watched the spectacle of the skiff on its side, its occupants flailing
hopelessly at the water, one by one sinking for good below the choppy surface. If he had to go, he would rather go humping some young cooz than letting himself go to hell like Dean. He still resented Dean Martin, even more so now that he was fat. But no matter now.

He pulled a pistol out of his desk drawer and tried to twirl it like a gunslinger, only succeeding in twisting and pinching the flesh of his finger. “Fucker,” he yelped, dropping the gun and losing his lowers, both of which rattled on the deck of the office before disappeared under the heavy cherry wood desk. Jerry grunted and bent over to fetch his teeth just as a wave heaved his boat against the dock. Jerry fell to the deck and shit his pants, the offage sounding like a calf’s bleat. Jerry slid across the floor, helpless to stop the movement and smashed against the wall next to his glasses. “Shit!”

The yacht pitched against the storm and Jerry was tossed back and forth across the deck. His head smacked into the leg of the great immobile desk and Jerry saw stars. His last thought as he passed out and rolled across the deck once again was I fucked Gina Lollabrigida

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Neighbor's Cannon

My neighbor has a cannon. I shit you not. It is a small cannon and I believe that it is small enough to steal. I would like to steal my neighbor's cannon and set it up on my balcony and shoot it off on special occasions, such as Phoenix Suns victories, St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve. Also, I would use the cannon to fend off my neighbor, who would no-doubt be constantly plotting on how to get his cannon back.

I could also use it to shoot at my neighbor's house who have the dogs that bark all night and shoot it at the hoboes who think that my garbage cans contain riches beyond imagination that can only be found at four in the morning. Yes, I think having a little cannon could be a life-changer. I am not certain how to work the cannon, or where to procure cannon-ammunition, but this is precisely why Google was invented. I am fairly certain I could obtain cannon-balls and have a fairly decent idea how to fire the bastard before I even steal it.

I think that having the cannon would also make my neighbors envious and make me more popular with the ladies. Name a single gal who could resist the line "you want to come back to my place and see my little cannon?" Owning a cannon is unusual - especially having one that could conceivably be towed behind a bicycle. Hell, I already envy my neighbor for owning a cannon enough to plot its theft. Besides, if he doesn't have it chained down and under constant video surveillance, then he is practically begging to have it stolen.

This could be the start of a new era - nay, a new Empire. Imagine when the elections come around and my campaign for King is publicized with posters of me in my Czar uniform, standing next to my little cannon. Can you say "shoo-in"? Remember to vote "Jerry Ford For King" in the upcoming elections. Remember Gerald Ford got to be president and he didn't muck things up too badly... I can't do any worse as King. Especially if I have a little cannon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Speaking of Michelangelo - The Back Story

Back in the late 80's - probably 1988 or so, I was playing in a band with Mssrs. (Michaels) Taggart and Lyon and a fellow named Chris Rogers, who now lives in Minnesota and likes to fish. The band was called the Hired Help and we practiced at Lyon's house in Tempe, near Broadway and 48th street. I was usually early for practice, as I am prompt and promptness is one of my more admirable qualities.

This particular day, I was early for practice and Mr. Lyon, being a Buddhist, was getting ready to chant. Since I was beleagured that day with a hangover, I took the news of his chanting in stride and flopped onto the couch and threw an arm over my eyes to keep the light out.

If you are not familiar with Buddhist chanting, it is just that - chanting. A simple phrase, repeated over and over again in a monotone that resembles, sonically, a hive of bees preparing for battle. "Nam, Myoho, Renge Kyo..." Over and over again. The phrase is one of devotion and is very pretty and even though I am not Buddhist, I found myself tapping my foot to the chanting's catchy rhythm.

I had been reading "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" by TS Eliot and had found myself intrigued by the line "In the room the women come and go, speaking of Michelangelo". As I lay on the couch, listening to Lyon chanting like a madman with a low-grade fever, I began to say the line from the poem in the same rhythm as the chanting - "In the room the women- come - and - go, speaking of Michelan - ge - lo..."

That evening, I picked up a guitar and wrote the song, blatantly stealing a couple of more stanzas from the poem and writing a third verse of my own and adding the chanting of the phrase in the middle. Later, Mike Lyon and I recorded a version of it in the practice room, where he played drums and I overdubbed all the other parts. It sounded something like this: Speaking of Michelangelo

The idea of a novel about a tragic rock star began playing on my mind sometime later and it eventually became the sad story of Benny Minus, whose luck ran from bad to horrible. I made Benny the author of a hit - "Speaking of Michelangelo" and walked Benny through the highs and lows of being a one-hit wonder with a predisposition toward the darker, shadow-world of show business.

While writing the book, I relied on memories of my own and learned a lot about the world of the music business from my friends Mark and Lawrence Zubia, who at the time were fronting and up and coming act called the Pistoleros, who had recently released their first album on Hollywood records and had tremendous insight to share from their experiences in the slick business of making records and touring to promote the efforts.

Looking back, both are great memories - the song came easily, the book was hard work. It is a particularly dark piece and writing the violent and sleazy parts made me uncomfortable at the keyboard. I may have drank some Scotch... If any young bands would like to cover a snappy pop-tune or any filmakers want to jump on Benny Minus' dark tale of tragedy, my number's in the book...