You Try to Help People.

I’d just like everyone to know that this is really the LAST time I can run the following blog column, which, since it was first published back in 2006, has become by far the most requested one, to the point where I can no longer respond to people asking me to run it again. Despite its usefulness, which I guess I am now completely convinced of, I can’t just keep printing it over and over for those of you who missed it the first, tenth, and twentieth times. I’m not sure if this particular column’s popularity is simply a sign of our increasingly stressful technological times or if the demand for such advice has some other root, but here it is ONCE more:


1) Wait until your cat is in a mellow mood and not paying very close attention to what you’re doing.

2) Lift up your cat and with a non-toxic, erasable marker, write all your usernames, logins and passwords on it so you can easily access them if you forget what they are.

3) Let the cat return to its business; wash the usernames, logins and passwords off once in a while for security reasons.

(P.S. Portions of the second most-requested blog column, “How to Precariously Stack Burning Candles,” are being permanently withdrawn pending class action litigation against myself the column’s co-author, actor Colin Farrell.)


The Sweet Embrace of the Grave Delivers Again

Today the blog remembers the widely known film director F. F. Arboplast, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 81 after a very brief struggle with RDS (Rapid Descent Syndrome). Arboplast, the creative force behind films like 1965's Over the River and Through the Spleen and 1982's No Clams for Kermit was of course most discussed for his unusual habit of beginning each of his movies with the final sentence of a conversation the audience was not privy to, as in 1977's Orangina at Midnight, which opens with the featured couple, Klaus and Helgafred, in a restaurant completing a meal:

HELGAFRED: Well, I guess it all depends on the number of stab wounds you think is appropriate.
KLAUS: Right,, moving on, let's talk about our marriage, darling.

Or in 1969's Rodeo Clown, Wander On, which fades in on two businessmen concluding a meeting:

BUSINESSMAN 1: It must have been because of all the group sex.
BUSINESSMAN 2: One would assume so. Anyway, do you have the fourth quarter projections on you?

Another of Arboplast's famous quirks was his penchant for creating a wordless subplot in each of his films which involved a different young, unidentified Hispanic man trying to vain to locate an address by reading house numbers on a very long street. Critics have long theorized that this repeating subplot, which takes up a good ten minutes of every movie except Arboplast's 1994 swan song, The Unvarnished, possesses a devastating symbolism, while others claim that the director merely liked seeing various lawns on the screen. Arboplast was also one of the first major filmmakers to shoot every scene with all of his characters surrounded by mosquito netting. Traumatized by reading about malaria on a Burger King placemat as a young boy, some say he overreacted and caused many a set designer profound headaches with his insistence on the netting, particularly in 1986’s A Loaf Shall Rise, whose poignant final scene in the Sistine Chapel seemed tempered somewhat with its presence. No idiosyncrasy was greater, though, than Arboplast’s dedication to scoring the end credits to each of his films with the New York Mets’ fight song, regardless of the movie’s subject matter or tone. How many of us lingered in the theater after his haunting 1974 masterpiece about the barbarism of the first World War, Kiss No Other Knees But Mine, as the lyrics soared through the speakers:

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets.
Bring your kiddies, bring your wife,
Guaranteed to have the time of your life.
Because the Mets are really sockin' the ball,
Knockin' those home runs over the wall.
East side, West side, everybody's coming down,
To meet the M-E-T-S Mets,
Of New York town,
Of New York town!

The world of cinema salutes you, Mr. Arboplast---yet looks forward to the day when you are at long last tried in absentia for your many crimes against the people of Newfoundland!


This Warning Must Be Posted At All Exits

Dearest children: I welcome you to my modest trailer, and I thank you for your participation in my child’s birthday celebration. I know that Stumper thanks you as well, and I must say that never in his eight years on this earth has he seemed more jocund than at this time, surrounded by his closest well-wishers. In a few moments, we will conclude this wonderful gathering my motoring across town to Faceburger, where I hope we can all share a warm and nutritious luncheon. But I think it only fair to warn you of the possible consequences of misbehaving in a public restaurant. I’m certain that you, my son’s fine playfellows, would never dream of such behavior--but as I say, there are things that must be spoken of.

It all happened on my child’s seventh birthday, just one year ago today. That day was as bright and cubulent as any I have ever known. On that day, too, my wife and myself took Stumper and the children in the Pacer to Faceburger, a favorite bistro of my son’s and I know one of yours. All was going well when we ordered our nutriment and sat down with the nine priceless tots around the table. It seemed to be the end to a perfect day.

But then, all went nightmarishly wrong. I blame myself, of course! Had I only warned those children of the dangers of rambunctious deportment in a public custom house, perhaps some of them might have been saved. As it was, we all got halfway through our meals when a small boy of nine named Bip began to argue with his pal Frankie about the median length of each other’s french fried potatoes. I admonished the children and beseeched them to be silent! But they would not listen. Soon the shenanigans increased twofold, spreading from child to child. Hair was pulled....yes, meat was thrown. Several of the children began to run in meaningless concentric circles. And this miscreantic horseplay is what prompted the attack of the most fearsome creature known to childkind: The Great Purple Snagdurple.

The Snagdurple, a Lovecraftian dybbuk with the body of Winnie the Pooh and the head of a Cloverfield, burst without caveat through a side wall of Faceburger, catching us all unawares, sending the restaurant staff fleeing for cover. Instantly the carnage began. Bip, the child who had seemingly started it all, was scooped off the floor and decapitated with one snapping of the creature’s lusty jaws. Dark blood spouted in a pulpy river from the stump of his neck, while inside the Snagdurple’s cavernous mouth, his saliva-slicked head begged for forgiveness. Two young twin brothers--Emo and Zeb I believe were their names--were trampled into stinking ichor by the Snagdurple’s barbed feet. Their teeth were scattered like shrapnel. Little Emo, who just days before had been the happiest of boys, having found on the street an autographed photo of the first lady of the American Theater, Miss Helen Hayes, was also one of my son’s closest confidantes. There was nothing left of him to identify but a spleen torn messily in half, its severed veins having nowhere to pump their gushing bounty. Darling Trishy was next! Trishy whose pigtails had been captured in many an adorable photograph! I last remember seeing her brain sucked from her skull like a rancid prune and inhaled through one of the monster’s steaming nostrils.

Oh, foul Abaddon! But what could I do? I had thought the children might understand what were the consequences of tomfoolery! I took my wife and Stumper in my arms and made for daylight while all around me unfolded a hellish spectacle of bloody violence--the shouts, the shrieks, the cubulent sound of eyes and tongues slapping wetly off the weeping walls. I don’t know how I managed to regain my senses long enough to call for an air strike which transformed the building--and some of the slower customers--into a seething mass of fire and ash.

Where is the Snagdurple today? No one knows. Perhaps he lies in wait around the corner of the nearest hamburger foodery, waiting for one child to call another a boogerhead, to order lots of food and then not eat it, to raise his or her voice just one tiny decibel too high. Dear children, I know that you are of a maturity far beyond your years, and that I have nothing to fear. Still I beg you: let the killing stop. Let us go now to the vehicle and begin the last phase of this day. If you gawky little bastards are all good, perhaps the afternoon will begin a new, safer era, and perhaps there will later be an hour of Transformer time for all.