The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

Today my thoughts turn fondly to my late Uncle Glen, one of the great Bad Food Deniers in all of recorded history. His continued denials of the negative properties of every conceivable food item led him to eventually balloon to a weight of 470 pounds and develop the impressive quilt of ailments which would eventually take his life, but oh, the things I learned from that man! I remember the morning he woke up my brothers and I on our first-ever visit to his home and made us an early breakfast of Kraft macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. “The creaminess of the cheese,” he explained to us, “coats the bits of hot dog and doesn’t allow the bad stuff in them to enter your system, and because your body has never taken in powdered cheese before 8 am, it works extra hard to interpret the new information, increasing your metabolism rate and actually causing you to lose calories.” Oh, what absurd tangles of dangerous self-delusion our uncle could weave! Often he would sit quietly on Saturday afternoons watching indoor soccer and lunching on chocolate ice cream and sheet cake, downing it all with copious amounts of beer and absinthe. He would tip us a wink and say confidently, “Basically, ice cream is just a high dose of dairy, and then the alcohol in the beer and absinthe follows it and burns the fat molecules away and cleans me out. As for the sugar and butter, you have to realize that you eat extremely little of it up until age two, so every one of us starts off with what is essentially a two year sugar and butter deficit, which has to be slowly balanced throughout the rest of your life.” And what of the roast beef sandwiches and fried onion rings which he devoured each night of his life as he listened to college lacrosse on the radio? “Red meat,” he would claim, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, “is what scientists call a ‘mimic food’, in that your body can’t tell the difference between a nice piece of roast beef and your body itself, since both are animals, so it doesn’t compute it as anything other than more healthy cells. And obviously, onion rings---aside from being made from onions, which couldn’t be more nutritious---become even better for you when heated in oil, which literally shocks the vitamins out onto the surface of the vegetable for easier and swifter digestion.” With that, he would take a swallow from his beloved stainless steel flask of maple syrup and wipe his mouth with a serene grin. And what did my uncle have to say of the giant bowls of gray chicken fat he was seen to devour in later years? “Eating the spongy accumulation of gray fat left over from boiling chicken feet,” he would muse strangely, “is like eating ten apples, ten oranges, and ten bananas in one sitting.”

Toward the end, our dear uncle took to creating disturbing stews made from the brains of goats, Almond Joys marinated in spicy mustard, and four kinds of soy sauce. “Biologists agree,” he would whisper softly, staring dazedly into space, “that the healthiest thing you can do for your body is pollute it again and again, so the antibodies are always on alert and working overtime to filter out harmful materials.” I will never forget the sight of that brackish brine dribbling down his chin day after day as he dabbed it up with sticky handfuls of caramel popcorn. When he moved beyond food and began to eat household items like pencils and cassette tapes, he wrote me a six page letter defending the practice, a letter which contained a crude sketch of something called ‘Glen’s Periodic Table of Manmade Vitamins and Their Inherent Cleansing Properties’, the central thesis of which seemed to be that the body’s desperate attempts to rid itself of solid blocky objects suddenly forced into it began a swift, wondrous process which somehow ended in the spontaneous creation of anti-oxidants and indestructible stem cells. When we buried Uncle Glen in 2003, we placed a raw ham in his folded hands. It seemed right somehow.

I’m pretty sure it was Uncle Glen we buried. Crap, that’s just one of those things you can’t convince yourself you’re absolutely sure of, like when you leave your apartment and have no real proof you turned the toaster oven off. Ah well. Nothing we can do about it now.


Write it down. No, seriously, write it down.

This is an official DECLARATION, made on the twenty-eighth day of MARCH, 2007, that I, SOREN NARNIA, wish to declare my UNHAPPINESS and GENERAL DISSATISFACTION with the state of my head. This unhappiness extends to and includes all things connected to my head, both in their individual parts and in sum total. To be more detailed, I wish to make it known in writing that I am displeased with the following aspects of the head in question:

1) its structure and shape,
2) the eyes, ears, nose and mouth thereon,
3) the volume and pitch of the sounds which emanate from the head via the throat, which is, for the purposes of this declaration, to be considered part of the head,
4) the hair which is seen to cover the head, except in parts where it does not, its nature being rather dry and unruly, no matter what kind of shampoo I try,
5) the ideas which have been generated within the cranium dating back to elementary school, including the idea for the Milk Laser, which I don’t care to hear mentioned again, and
6) the selection of ballcaps which, separate from the head, seem like good ideas at the time but which, upon contact with the head, seem always to fit awkwardly, God only knows why.

At this time, I understand that there is little I can do to change the state of my head, but this document will nevertheless be signed, notarized, and filed in order to avert possible future misunderstandings about my continued low regard for it, and to completely absolve myself of blame when the head either appears or performs in less than a satisfactory way from this day forward. My head and I are to be considered two DISPARATE entities, with my self neither approving of or responsible in any way for its generated content, either intellectual or physical. Pursuant to, um….yes, that is correct. At this time, the case is, the case is what I have just described, and there is no more here. For you.


The Blog Presents....


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Guy 2 is fishing for trout beside a serene midwestern lake on a summer’s day. Guy 1 approaches, drinking a Tab.

GUY 1: Hey man, Treat Williams left another message on the machine.

GUY 2: Oh yeah? What did he say?

GUY 1: He said…well, he just said to cut it out.

GUY 2: That’s it?

GUY 1: Yeah.

GUY 2: Did he sound like he meant it?

GUY 1: Yeah….yeah, he really did.

Guy #2 stares out over the lake.

GUY 2: Damn. Maybe I should, then.


The scene is a sedately decorated meeting hall.

NAZI PAWN: Mein Fuhrer...we’ve received some news.

HITLER: Yes? Tell me, damn your eyes, tell me!

NAZI PAWN: Treat Williams....has said no.

HITLER: No to what? To the entire plan, or just parts of it? Speak, curse your soul, speak!

NAZI PAWN: I’m afraid he said no….to the entire plan.

The Fuhrer turns pensively and looks out the window down upon the snowy street, where Himmler is emerging from the back of a car. The camera SLOWLY ZOOMS in on his grizzled, worried face. Then cut back to an EXTREME CLOSE-UP of Hitler.

HITLER (ominously, to himself): Plans can change.


Guy 1 and Guy 2 sit across from each other at a scuffed wooden table.

GUY 1: Look, dude, I think it’s good and everything, it’s just not Treat Williams good.

GUY 2: Um….yeah. Okay. Fine. Sure. Whatever.

GUY 1: I mean, there’s no need to get angr---

GUY 2: What do you know about Treat Williams?! I lived with Treat Williams! I bought Treat Williams bread and paper towels when he had nothing! Nothing!

GUY 1: Huh. I did not know that.

GUY 2 (calmer): Well, there’s a lot of things you don’t know until you ask.


With a Tear In One Eye

First of all, I’d like to thank Merrifield Village Apartments for bestowing this honor on me---I had no idea something like this was coming, and when I opened my mailbox and found the piece of paper curled up inside it, my breath was taken away. Second, thanks must go to everyone who supported me during this long journey. Almost ten months have passed since I first asked my friend Redney, “What’s wrong with having a lot of standing water in my apartment?” Almost a year of work, internet study, and the counsel of friends and family have brought me to this point, and without any one of these key components, my efforts would all have been for naught. Today this piece of paper from the rental office makes it official: I have 50 percent less standing water in my apartment than in 2006. Looking even beyond that statistic, I can say with pride that the number of individual puddles of standing water is actually down a whopping 65 percent. With your continued support, I am confident that within two years, there will be almost NO standing water remaining in my apartment.

When I started the cleaning process, I had little to rely on in the way of equipment other than a roll of paper towels and a t-shirt commemorating Journey’s triumphant 1983 tour of America, which mopped up what it could. Now, though, I am simply deluged with offerings of mops, buckets, and air fresheners by well-wishers who do not want to see me fail. I’m not saying I don’t have a long way to go---indeed, some of the puddles have actually grown in size since autumn---but of these two things you can be absolutely certain: 1) I realize now that even a little bit of standing water in one’s apartment is not good, and 2) I will, before my lease expires, ultimately triumph over this admittedly self-inflicted crisis. I may still not always remember to stay awake when making home fries on the stove, and I may still occasionally use the pantry as one big trash can, but the first major hurdle toward quality living has been jumped. The letter from Merrifield proves it. I’m just trying to figure out the tone of this thing. Sometimes it doesn’t seem as congratulatory as when I first read it. The word ‘eviction’ is not only highlighted in green but written in four languages. And what I thought was glitter may actually just be some sand that got stuck on the page from when I dropped it in that mysterious problem area near the bedroom. I’m probably just being paranoid.


The Invention of Cricket: A Transcript

STRANGE GROUP OF PEOPLE: Hi, baseball? Hey, we’d like our own sport over here. Can you help us out? Something new would be great.

BASEBALL: Um, sure. Hey, you want to just go ahead and try baseball? We can fax the rules over to you. It’s great.

STRANGE GROUP OF PEOPLE: Sure, that sounds like it could be something. Go ahead.

(fax sounds)

BASEBALL: Oh…wait a second, we ran out of toner. Only the first two pages of the rulebook went through.

STRANGE GROUP OF PEOPLE: Well, that’s okay. We have enough to work with.

BASEBALL: Ah…no, see, the rulebook is 46 pages long. You only have two.

STRANGE GROUP OF PEOPLE: Yeah, we’re good. Thanks. We’ll just make do with these.

BASEBALL: You’ll make do? But…you only got the very basics of a guy throwing a ball and someone else trying to hit it, you don’t know about all the strategy, the complexity, the possibilities, the involvement of the other pl---

STRANGE GROUP OF PEOPLE: Nahhhh, not for us. We’ll work with what we got. Thanks, we appreciate it.

BASEBALL: You’ll….you’ll work with what you’ve got. Two pages. Um….all right.

STRANGE GROUP OF PEOPLE: Okay, we’re gonna go. Later.


(sound of feet walking away)

BASEBALL: What a bunch of idiots.


Another Wednesday Ruined

Hey, do me a favor. Put the fries down and just look at this for a second.

Just look at the screen here. See where I’ve highlighted that block of text on this web page? Right there.

Yeah. Just tell me what it says there. No, not even word for word. Just read it quietly to yourself and confirm that it says what I think it says.

Have you gotten to the part yet? No no, ignore the photo, read the text. The text that I highlighted.

Yeah. Okay. You’ve read it? Okay. All I want you to do, because I’m not gonna look at it again, is confirm for me that it says that they did a study, and that the study says that long-term exposure to leaves causes severe health problems.

It does say that? Seriously? I didn’t mis-read it? Being around leaves over a long period of time causes severe health problems?

All right. That’s it. That’s all I need from you. Thank you. Well, actually, if you don’t mind, there's one more thing: could you just open the screen door so I can throw myself off the balcony? Because, you know, I think my life is pretty much done. If leaves kill you, then I think we’ve reached that point. That point where throwing myself off the balcony seems like it could be the thing to do.

No, wait, seriously, don’t go. Open the screen door. I’m done. Leaves, LEAVES, kill you. You just read it yourself. So if you would be so kind as to turn off the computer after I hurl myself to a merciful and quick death rather than the slow and painful one we all face if we choose to be around ANYTHING for more than FIVE SECONDS, that would be super. You’re welcome to join me, too. I’d recommend it, in fact. Because LEAVES are bad for you, it turns out. Yes. It’s right there, highlighted.

It’s a simple process, turning off the computer. Go down to the Start button, choose Shut Down, and that’s it, more or less. You can leave the monitor on. The tech guy at work said that was okay. He might be dead now, of course, from WALKING ON CARPET or, I don’t know, DRINKING A CUP OF COLD WATER, but he seems pretty smart.

It’s the end. It’s the almighty end. The end of the point of living. LEAVES. Mark the date.

You know, maybe I'll go buy a Wii.


Attention Creative Artists!

How many times have you had that ever-depressing thought: “All the good ideas are taken!” Some days it just seems like everything you come up with has already been used by somebody else. It’s getting harder and harder to find something original in this world to call your own. Meanwhile, the years slip by, and the poems, screenplays, and outlines for novels you type up in Starbuck's go nowhere.

Well, turn that frown inside out, because a whole new vista of opportunity now awaits you. Yes, all the good ideas really are taken---on Earth, that is. But scientists working in conjunction with our popular United States government have uncovered a virtually untapped resource of ideas---on the moon!

That’s right---down here on the big blue marble, you can’t dangle a dead chicken without hitting some loser who just barely beat you to that idea for an award-winning movie about sad children, or that notion you semi-formed which might have led indirectly to one of the best breakup songs ever. But on the moon, a vast, arid, uninhabited landscape, not only is your competition incredibly limited, but all the ideas are totally unclaimed!

Under a special agreement with NASA and The Macarthur Foundation, you can, until March 31, claim up to fifty new, unsullied ideas directly from the surface of the moon for three easy payments of $29.95. No one has ever had these ideas before---they’re all yours! It’s time you got your creative juices flowing by recognizing that you’re pretty much done down here, but in outer space, the game is on!

And that’s not all---well, yes it is. I have nothing else for you. I thought there was going to be another paragraph here, but now all I can think about is that piece of apple pie I have left over from yesterday which I hid in the fridge. I completely forgot it was in there until just now. You know what, I’m going to go ahead and declare that the best feeling there can be in this life---suddenly realizing you’ve got pie from yesterday. If there’s something better, I guess I’ve just never experienced it.

Crap. Now I’ve forgotten what I was thinking. I was just happy and I forget why. It was because of….oh, Christ. Something about the refrigerator.

Man, I wish I hadn't finished all that pie yesterday.


Remember 1999, a.k.a. The Year of the Glass Eye?

Well, I finally got around to watching the Oscars. (I know it’s taken a while, but my Tivo was on the fritz, so had to point my old 8mm film camera at the TV set during the broadcast, then I methodically transferred the eleven developed rolls to VHS, then I took the cassette audio tapes I made of the show---my 8mm had no sound capability---and had them professionally synced to the VHS tape at a lab in Pittsburgh.) If you know me at all, you know that I really only watch the Oscars for one reason: the fashions. And while I’m all in favor of celebrities going out on a limb and creating the new trendy styles that the rest of the country will soon follow, I think Susan Sarandon, Sofia Coppola, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bjork and the like really went too far this year. And remember, I was completely on board with the cafeteria hairnets last year, which I thought added a nice commoner’s touch to the heads of Paul Giamatti and Ms. Judi Dench. (Didn’t work so well for Brian Dennehy for some reason.) I was even okay with 2005’s surprising red carpet display of live algae as an accessory, which livened up Kate Winslet’s rather drab gown and put some serious zazz into that red number that Drew Barrymore arrived in. I know it was odd to see the algae kind of slide down her leg and onto the sidewalk at the Sky Bar after-party, but the photos had all been taken by then, and the stars’ point had been made: We are cutting edge! I just think that with everyone on pins and needles because of the recent stock market slide and unrest in Quebec, 2007 wasn’t the time to go too far astray of convention, and the celebs certainly did with the exploding dye packs. While the near-deafening THWAP of a blue dye pack going off on Cate Blanchett’s shoulder was definitely attention-getting, the spray of dye only distracted one’s gaze away from the resplendent cut of the gown itself. And those poor reporters from the E! Channel nearly dropped their microphones when Salma Hayek’s dye pack exploded, showering her smiling self and her date for the evening with virtually indelible orange paint. Tucked inside her backless dress, its well-timed eruption may have drawn admiring looks, but were we looking at Salma or merely responding to a really loud bang and a huge orange splotch that, if you ask me, completely threw her gorgeous hairstyle out of visual kilter? No no, this is not the way to go, if you ask me. The dye packs should only be used to catch bank robbers---and though the glittering celebrities steal our hearts with their beauty each and every year, they don’t deserve to have their perfect looks corrupted by a violent spew of dye just to gain our love. Go easy next Oscar night, you glorious folk---this means you too, Johnny Depp; we don’t want a repeat of 2003, when your idea to wear a single whole grain pancake as an earring put a few too many ideas into the heads of your Hollywood brothers and sisters!


Any Excuse to Use the Word 'Quoth'

Good Lord, what an awkward moment! You know, everyone thinks all those Where-Are-They-Now columns in the newspaper are hilarious, and people make fun of the has-beens who show up on reality shows, but when you actually come face to face with one of those celebrities, the truth of what they once meant to people as opposed to their day-to-day post-fame existence is just kind of sad. Bleak, even. Wendy and I went to the Olive Garden in Shippensburg last night and at first we couldn’t believe our eyes. We were like, “HE’S showing us to our table? HE’S handing us our menus and telling us our waiter will be with us shortly?” We couldn’t help but stare as we smiled nervously, and in hushed tones we confirmed to each other that this was no case of mistaken identity, like that time I mistook that yield sign on 450 for Kenneth Branagh. Halfway through our meal, our once-famous restaurant host was re-filling the salt shakers at the table beside us when Wendy, tactless as usual, just came right out and asked him if he really was who we thought he was.

“Um…yeah, hi,” he said, not really making eye contact. Sad, sad!

“Hi," Wendy said. “Uh…we both really liked you in that poem.”

The raven smiled a little at that, but it was kind of an embarrassed smile. (Why did she have to say anything?) “Thanks,” he said.

Then, like an idiot, I had to open my stupid mouth. “Yeah, you were real scary,” I said. (I know...brilliant.)

The raven mumbled something then---it might have been another word of thanks, I’m not sure---and then he went right back to filling the salt shakers. This was the same raven whose eyes once had all the seeming of a demon’s that was dreaming! Holy crap! That bird terrified generations, darkened the imaginations of millions! And here he was, long past his moment of glory, losing a few feathers here and there, his voice kind of reedy. (We'd heard his voice wasn’t all that much in real life, but I want to tell you, it was r-e-e-d-y.) I can no more imagine him perching on that pallid bust of Pallas now than I can Randy Johnson actually getting his fastball up into the mid-nineties again.

Wendy and I eventually paid the check and left. On the way out, we noticed a couple of teenagers spot the raven having a smoke with the kitchen staff out front. One of the kids giggled and yelled out, “Yo, raven! Tell me about the Claritin difference!” Okay, it was a stupid commercial and a total sell-out job on his part, but the raven still deserves a little more respect than that. He just ignored the punk. Good for him. Anyway, the episode gave the whole evening an odd vibe, and then I exacerbated it by choosing a bad moment to propose to Wendy. (We sort of clipped an elderly pedestrian with the car on the way home and a cop was giving Wendy a breathalyzer test and I just decided to go for it right there.)

Time’s a big bendy river, that’s the moral of this story, yessir indeed. Watch for those bends, baby. They’re more bendy for some than for others, but bendy is the word for them. Indeed.


Can You Outwit Inspector Shoopes?


The Tigris jewels were discovered missing on Monday morning! Inspector Shoopes gathered all the suspects in the drawing room. The atmosphere was tense.

“Miss Winterthurn,” Shoopes inquired, “was it YOU who stole the Tigris jewels?”

“No, sir,” Miss Winterthurn replied nervously. “I would never do such a thing. Just last week, I discovered that stealing jewels is….illegal!”

A gasp went through the room. Inspector Shoopes, however, was unfazed. “Doctor Finch,” he asked the venerable academe standing before him, “was it YOU who stole the Tigris jewels?”

“Why, that’s absurd,” Finch countered. “I have no reason whatsoever to crave the damnable things!”

“Indeed…so it would seem,” Shoopes said. He then cocked a baleful eye at the servant boy, Dwight. “Young Dwight,” he said, “you seem to be in a state of unease. Could it be because the Tigris jewels have become YOUR ill-gotten treasure?”

“Why, no sir, never!” Dwight protested, furiously wiping down the bannister. “I…I wouldn’t….I couldn’t!”

“Yes…perhaps,” Inspector Shoopes commented dryly.


Solution: We’re sorry, based on the questioning above, Inspector Shoopes was not able at this time to identify the wrongdoer. Much more investigation is necessary. If this puzzle inadvertently affixed the suspicion of guilt to any of the above participants in particular, we apologize. The Inspector’s actions were carried out under his authorization only, and his views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of this blog, which merely acted as a reporter of the facts as presented to us. We understand and regret that the reputations of certain persons depicted in the story may have been damaged by this reportage, and it is our solemn promise to act more carefully in the future. Inspector Shoopes has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a full accounting of the incident. Again, it was not, and has never been, our intention to create controversy, public outcry, or any sort of backlash against any persons or institutions. In this age of the twenty-four hour news cycle, and ever-increasing competition from other media outlets, we sometimes err on the side of action rather than introspection. Thank you for your patience and your participation.


American Dreams May Vary

I want to take a moment here just to thank everyone who has written in recently with suggestions about what sort of drunk I should become. Though I’ve never even had more than one beer in a single sitting, I’m really looking forward to becoming the drunk I always thought I could be.

Anyway, it’s official: I’ve decided I will be the Explaining Drunk. Yes, while a meaningless mid-season Red Sox game plays over the bar, I will respond to a barely attractive real estate agent’s idle question about why Fenway Park still has a manually operated scoreboard with a lengthy history of baseball itself, covering ten full decades of America’s pastime, eventually making an awkward segue into an absurdly over-detailed description of the sport’s rules and techniques, both common and obscure (“See, here comes a double switch….now, what that means is…”), and I assure you that none of my occasionally slurred words will even be heard by the pained woman after the third agonizing minute of my rambling. Yes, when the new girl from the office, who is ten years younger than me, lives with her boyfriend, and has no visible interest in me at all, asks at the Christmas party if those brownies are low-fat, I will launch into a tortured, seemingly endless, scientifically invalid explanation of what causes the human body to gain and lose weight (“Don’t let anyone ever tell you it has anything to do with calories…see, calories, babe, are essentially just heat…”) as nearby onlookers at first nod politely but slowly extricate themselves from the train wreck of my verbose lecture, which I naturally will mistake for a sort of innovative flirting. When, at that same party, a co-worker innocently asks me how things are going up on the third floor these days, I will take a lusty sip from my seventh vodka and tonic and bore them into a state of stupor by explaining at crushing length the essential principles of sales as described by the industry’s founding fathers (“See, a true visionary, I want to tell you, was Drucker…”), and I will then pass out for exactly forty seconds, and upon waking I shall deliver my masterful coup de grace to Janet from Distribution as she grudgingly drives me home: a sixty-five hundred word magnum opus of an explanation, delivered in response to the simple question, “Should we take D Street at this hour?”, of the planning and development of the city’s roadways since the city’s birth and the back-room political dealings that alter, improve, and hinder their maintenance (“A well-planned city has three components, Janet….okay, first, you have to have….you have to have infra-structure. And then….second….you have to have….it’s design. And then, and this is most important, don’t ever forget this, you have to….you have to have synergy. You have to have synergy.”)

Indeed, I will be not just a Talking Drunk, but an unabashed Explaining Drunk, combining my fondness for meaningless historical trivia, the deluded sense that I’m smarter than everyone else, and a desperate eye for females who I think become more and more impressed by my boundless intellect with every syllable that drops from my whiskey-tainted breath. It’s going to be a heck of a spring, folks. Thanks again for your support….and let the training begin!


Closing Time at Tick's Bar

So here we are, two guys in a bar, just shooting the bull, right? Swapping stories, sharing gripes…you say some things, I say some things, we talk a little sports…usual Tuesday night stuff. But listen….I want to tell you something off the record, and this is no ordinary bombshell, friend. If you can keep this under wraps, I’d like to clue you in on a little fact which I haven’t told anybody yet. See, I work for Victoria’s Secret. You’re familiar with the brand? Good. Yeah, I work in research and development. Specifically, in bras. Over the last few years, we’ve had our share of innovations. The Wonder Bra, that was big, and just recently this Secret Embrace thing’s paying pretty serious dividends. Not a bad run, if I do say so myself. The work’s hard, but it’s rewarding.

Now pay attention to what I’m going to tell you now. Put your beer down. Are you ready? Sometime in the autumn of the year 2009, buddy, we are going to reveal an advance in bra design that will----oh, hell, I’m just going to say it, because you have a trustworthy face---that will not only destroy all your pre-conceptions of the garment in question, but change society itself more profoundly than any invention of the modern age. I’m not kidding with you here. We have come up with a bra upon which entire economies, maybe even entire cultures, will rise and fall. If I were you, pal, I wouldn’t make any long-term plans concerning your job or your family. Because when the release date hits, when this bra becomes available for sale on the open market, whatever you thought your country was, those ideas will be washed away on the unforgiving tide of history. I wish I could tell you more about the product in question….but trust me, I can’t. The human imagination wasn’t made big enough to process this kind of knowledge anyway. When you see it, then you’ll know.

Now I want you to forget I ever said anything. We never had this conversation, okay? Just walk quietly back to your car, drive back to your home, and go about your business. I’ll pick up the check on this one. I’m gonna stay here and finish my Nestea Light.

Autumn 2009, pal. Autumn 2009.


World's #1 Dad

What do you tell a child when she comes to you with that certain question? My youngest, Beep Nut, came bounding over to me yesterday as I sat by the fire in my evening chair, leafing through the latest issues of Grit, The Saturday Evening Post, and Late Nineteen-Forties Parenting.

“Daddy,” Beep Nut said to me, her eyes all a-swim in youthful innocence, “where does the eye go when somebody loses an eye?”

So I sat her down and quickly tried to figure out what a caring father world do when his youngest inquires about things she just doesn’t need to know about for years and years. Well, I consider myself a bit of a progressive (I was one of the first to allow my children to marry at the ages of 7 and 9, respectively), and so I went out on a limb and told Beep Nut the simple truth about the Island of Lost Eyes. The thing is, I really don’t have that much hard information about it, and frankly, I think I made a bit of a botch of it. To be honest, I hadn’t expected any follow-up questions. Now I actually find myself wondering about certain aspects of the story. How indeed are the eyes encased during the ship’s seven-year journey---individually or in groups? What sort of security and record-keeping measures are in place so that the eyes are easily sorted and stacked by the lonely spirits of Scotland’s greatest rugby stars on the other end? And what if---God forbid---they ever decided to shut the island down and return all those eyes across the Hudson River at once? No tax base in the world could support the construction of cloud-scraping eye-storage towers of a vastness to match those on the island!

Jesus, honey, we should really sit down sometime and talk about this. We’ve been married for eleven years and there’s some things we just have to hash out, if only for the good of the kids. Here’s a good place for us to start, and I’m quite serious about getting a straight answer to this one: what exactly is your home address?


It's Obstructed-View Seating Only on the Self-Actualization Train

You know the feeling. The feeling of being ashamed, inadequate, judged by others. You spend your days obsessing over a single mistake, your nights hearing the giggles, the mocking laughter in your mind.

Well, guess what---you’ve done nothing wrong, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. And now, finally, there’s a place you can come once a week to talk with others about how society views you----and what you can do to make them stop.

At our People Who Got Killed By The Mummy open talk forum, we won’t dwell on the fact that you somehow got killed by the slowest-moving monster in the entire pantheon of evil creatures. Instead, we’ll turn the focus outward on those who mock us for our misfortune, and we’ll come to see that it is they who should feel bad for their heartless attitude. Because you could have died in plenty of ways: smothered in a caterpillar attack, crushed by a stalled car being pushed by two guys, even trapped in a molasses spill. It’s nobody’s business why your life ended, or how incredible it is that at no point, you couldn’t just take a few jogging steps to get away.

When you were killed by the Mummy, you didn’t stop being a human being with thoughts and feelings. And because we respect who you are, we won’t be forcing anyone to explain just how they screwed up so badly that a virtual still photo of a creature managed to take your life. The Mummy may have moved really, really slowly when he killed you, but we’re going to act fast to get your self-esteem back to normal, and along the way you’ll be making some good new friends who don’t think your demise was funny.

We meet every Thursday in the basement of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Mulberry. Go through the front entrance and turn left and go down the hall. Then take the next two rights, go up the flight of stairs in front of you, and take the elevator to the tenth floor. When the doors open, head south across Concourse B and wait for the tram in the designated blue zone. The tram will be marked ‘East / Express.’ Disembark at the sixth stop and proceed with caution down the widest of the three available corridors. The Hall of Valiants is at the end. It seats 40,000, so spread out.