A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

27 January 2011

"Eye brake for..."

Inner workings of a state of the art laser weapon or brake light? You decide.

Buzz Lightyear had it wrong...it's not "To infinity and beyond!" - it's "An Infinity from behind...

...is really, really, really annoying!"

Seriously...can someone say "severe retinal damage"?

While my new saying might not be as catchy as the original, I am going to go out on a limb here and say the only man-made objects you can see from space other than "The Great Wall of China" are Infinity brake lights.

If you are behind someone, especially at night, and you feel the membrane peeling off your eye as easily as the skin on a grape, chances are that car in front of you is an Infinity.

If you've ever been patiently waiting behind the guy with 17 items in the "15 items or less" aisle in the store and caught a glimpse of that red multi-light scanner doohickey and it gave you flashbacks to the "Sandman scene in Logan's Run with Farrah Fawcett vivaciously aiding the laser-happy plastic surgeon"...you'll have a tiny understanding of what I'm trying to get across here.

If you've ever had the inclination (with or without having a buzz) to look down the working barrel of a laser pointer and then, like a total idiot, turn it on...well...I think you get the message by now.

Why these lights have to be twice the brightness of anything an arc welder deals with is beyond me.

Have the designers who okayed the 20,000,000 foot-candle luminosity of the light system ever driven BEHIND one of their cars? As with other automotive manufacturers, they might stand behind their cars...but I'm inclined to believe they do so only in the daytime.

I was driving home from Birmingham the other night when what should pull out before me during rush-hour traffic, but a car with tail lights doing more damage to my cornea than any solar eclipse ever could. Between stops I managed to glimpse the type of car: Infinity.

I tried in vain to let someone else get in front of me. I nearly came to a dead stop and signaled to the merging drivers to "go ahead of me". Certainly any car between me and the Infinity would be a welcome change. Any car that is, but another friggen Infinity!

I kid you not...there must be about 170,092 of them in Birmingham and each of them was damned determined to get in front of me on the way home that night. Each time I figured I'd get a reprieve...a traffic light...a guy weaving in and out of traffic like a bat out of hell...you got it -- another Infinity.

My eyes felt like they were bleeding razor blades by the time a late model truck with a missing taillight and a smelly exhaust got in front of me. I thanked God and prayed he was heading the same direction I was.

He wasn't. And yes...another Infinity took his place as soon as he turned off.

I'm just hoping there's some level of Hell they toss the people into who invented this "shield your eyes as if it were Medusa" brake light system. And I hope that level of Hell forces them to have their eyes yanked open wide with a "can't blink" contraption like "Alex" was strapped up to in A Clockwork Orange...combined with being subjected to a never-ending slit-lamp ophthalmologic exam...until infinity...

...and beyond.

(31 Jan 11: I hate when I make typos or other such stupidities which I find days later. This time it was a big technical one -- I meant to say "laser pointer" and had typed "laser printer"...which makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever in the context of what I was trying to get across. I have fixed it and now it reads better - but it's too late for most of you...all three people who read this blog. I had my chance and blew it. I'm going to have to read these things out loud to my kids next time...a fact I know they will JUST LOVE as they nearly feign death to get out of reading them as it is now.)

19 January 2011

My "Beef" with Walmart

Typical open-topped freezer case you find at your grocery store...not unlike the one I'm talking about at Walmart.

Yesterday my daughter and I ventured over to Walmart.

For reasons unbeknownst to anyone who has a remote inkling of how to do things, the powers that be at our local Walmart redesigned and redesignated all the aisles and moved everything from where it used to be to places that no one in their right minds would put it. It's like they took the entire store's contents, tossed them into a giant Walmart happy-face hat, and pulled aisles out at random and relocated them. Consequently I (and everyone else looking for things there) can't find anything at all. Those PUR and Brita water pitchers? Next to the toilet seats...DUH! Which, by the way, is in the same exact aisle as PAINT. Who'da thought? Well, paint USED to have lead in it - the water filters take the lead out (at least some)...so logically they'd be in the same aisle, right?


Anyway, that's not what my "beef" is.

My daughter says to me that cheesesteaks would be a good dinner idea...and I agree. Being from Jersey, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Philadelphia...and being in Alabama (and I don't care what Craig Ferguson says about "Salem's Diner" in Birmingham having the best Philly cheesesteaks he ever had...anywhere) I miss my cheesesteaks. And being that I can concoct an "okay" facsimile...I agree and opt to make them for dinner last nite.

I actually think the secret to great cheesesteaks has got to be those Amaroso's rolls you never used to be able to get anywhere but the NJ/PA area (you can get them elsewhere now...go figure)...but I digress once again.

So, the Steak-Umms in Walmart are usually inside those "open air" aisle freezers - the kind without a lid on them - not the stand-up kind of freezer with the doors. And, glory glory...they didn't move them like they did everything else in the store...they are right there where they've always been.

I reach my hand down for the third pack from the top like I always do...and it's warm. I swear the Walmart air temperature was colder than the Steak-Umm package I now had my fingers wrapped around. I go and look at the temperature gauge and it's reading around 60+ degrees. The other thermometer in the same case further down is reading 50-something.

Now, I'm not stupid - I know freezer cases "cycle". But this food was the "Damn, I left this out on my counter instead of putting it away!" temperature. When the freezer cycles into the "defrost mode"...the food doesn't magically get warm and then freeze up again.

And heaven knows how long all this stuff was at this temperature - so I call a stocker lady over. She sticks her hand in there and remarks something to the effect of "Oh...this is NOT good!" and scurries off. So, naturally I assume she's going to call someone who will get to work fixing the case and promptly tossing all the bad food out.

Enter me and my daughter...into the same Walmart today. We have an hour to kill before getting her medicine from CVS, so we head on over to kill it there.

Me, again, being of the curious nature, decide to saunter over to the "Steak-Umm" case to see if they've tossed the food from yesterday out.

Big empty area inside the case exactly like yesterday: Check.

Steak-Umms piled up exactly like yesterday: Check.

Hamburger box tossed over on its side when the lady felt around the case - in the same exact position as it was yesterday: Check.

I left the aisle in disgust. "I'm going to make some calls tomorrow." I say to myself. I'm like that. I do those kinds of things. I may be little...but I am just as big as anyone over the telephone.

So, as we're still having to wander around for a while, we decide to go look at water pitchers again as I've probably contributed the equilvalent of filling up one landfill already with my empty plastic water bottles...and I feel pretty guilty as it is for doing so.

But not as guilty as to not report this Walmart infraction to someone today before someone inadvertently reaches for a nice "formerly warm/now frozen" package of tasty Steak Umms to unsuspectingly cook up for their family tonite.

As luck would have it...and no one ever asks me if I need help in Walmart (they usually run the other way like I have the plague...or ignore me totally as if I'm invisible) so it must be a sign -- a man walks up to us as we are making our way over to the "water pitcher/toilet seat/paint" aisle, and asks if "everything's okay today".

So I chirp up "No, it really isn't" and I state my case about the case. As we are walking he admits they had a freezer fixed this morning. The case I lead him to...isn't the one it was.

I then get a 10-minute spiel from him trying to convince me "it cycles" and that's why the temperature gauges were reading 60. Then another man joins him (who happens to be an assistant manager) and he further tries to convince me of the "cycling" theory.

But, you know what? I'm 50 years old. I've stuck my hands in more freezers over the years than a gynecologist specializing in frigid women has. I KNOW what room temperature feels like and I know what COLD feels like. I also know what the case looked like when I reported it to the woman last night. These two men today (while both being very nice) made no mention about anyone throwing out any food from that case, so chances are, they didn't.

All someone did was get the freezer fixed or jiggled the cord or something...and I'm not going to feel too guilty when I call up Walmart's corporate office tomorrow. I'm also not going to feel too safe the next time I buy my next frozen "nukey meal" there.

And whether corporate will care or not is anyone's guess as I've been told a lot of unbelievable stories by Walmart workers over the years. I've always dismissed them as over-exaggeration on their part...but now I'm not too sure about that.

But one thing's for certain: When I walk into Walmart to kill some time...I certainly don't expect anything I buy to KILL me later when I get home.

07 January 2011

Candy is dandy...but sicker is quicker

I've been in a writing slump lately - I think it's a combined "health issues, have no job, and I'm sick of reading more heinous ways people can kill each other" type of thing. So, if I'm not up to my usual "fun self" - well that is why.

Back when I was a child, my mother would always remind me not to take candy from strangers.

This, to a child in my era, seemed a bit strange in itself.

In my day (which was pretty much the 60s) you didn't hear of kids getting abducted - I knew of only one and it was quite a few years before my time: Charles Lindbergh's baby. And while it took place in New Jersey, it was supposedly for money and our family had none...so I was pretty much off the hook.

In Jersey where I lived, we got the Philadelphia news; and if things didn't happen in the generalized area of their broadcasting antenna, well, we never really knew about it. There were other things taking precedence anyway...mainly the Vietnam war, hippies, drugs, free love and rock and roll. There was also all this racial tension in some place called "Birmingham". But I was a kid and kids aren't too keen on watching the news religiously...so much of it was a blur to me...and so far away.

Closer to home, i.e., the Philadelphia area, we'd hear about fires engulfing homes once a week and killing a couple people and the obligatory "jack-knifed truck on the Schuylkill Expressway". I swear there was always some 18-wheeler lying on its side on that road every single day of the year. But pretty much this was the routine I was brought up with. And, if you didn't take candy from strangers, play with matches...and didn't play in traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway, you were pretty much guaranteed to lead a fairly long and uneventful life.

During my childhood years it was also typical for parents NOT to discuss such things as child molestation, sexual predators and pedophiles...and the resulting consequences of these. Heck, a couple of these terms weren't even coined yet.

I'm not stupid, I know these things went on since the dawn of mankind...and certainly were taking place in the 1960s and 1970s, but it seems so much more commonplace nowadays and it's probably due to instant information via the Information Highway. Face it, someone "goes missing" in Burlington, Vermont and people in New York City and Seattle, Washington (and all points between) hear about it roughly the same exact time. This didn't happen back in my day.

But I remember once when I was around 12 or 13, my friend and I were walking to "the beach" in my town in Jersey. It wasn't really so much a beach as it was a murky cedar lake with a set expanse of sandy shoreline...but we were walking along a dirt road shortcut as we always had every other time we went there.

Halfway through our walk, which was 3/4 of a mile at the most, a guy in some car pulled up next to us and asked if we'd like a lift. My friend and I, totally oblivious as to what type of pervert he probably was, said "No" and kept on walking.

There was no obvious overt sense of danger we felt we were in - plus he didn't offer us any candy...just a ride.

Despite these facts, he kept following at a snail's pace directly behind us as we continued walking and talking down this relatively isolated dirt road...the beach literally within our sights...and surely within walking distance. It was also within running distance, and for reasons I'll never quite understand, we both got an extreme case of the "heebee jeebies" at exactly the same time and broke out into a full on sprint to put as much distance between his car and us.

As you might have guessed, nothing happened, and we lived to go to "the beach" (and marvel at our instant cedar water tans) another day...and another...and another...

...some children don't.

And it's not just strangers - most times it's someone they know. And I think it's high time to start a much more aggressive approach for the sake of all our children.

That "candy" line we were all fed when we were kids - was plain silly - especially when Halloween rolled around.

I tell...and have told...both my children that there are people out there who torture and kill kids, dump their naked bodied in ditches on the side of the road and...very often...horrible heinous things happen before and after.

I don't Google photos to show them nor yank out a Hieronymus Bosch painting to get my point across, but a good scary dose of Stephen King-type terror isn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.

And, let me just address something which has been stuck in my craw for years - and I basically think this has a high basis in fact:

Not meaning to sound flip...but if you are going to get abducted - let's just hope you are a pretty blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white girl - as those are the only ones it seems get any full-out media attention.

Think about it, when was the last time a national manhunt was called for a missing homely Haitian girl? A Native American girl with a wonky eye? Someone Hispanic with an overbite? Any black girl??


And it's so incredibly sad. I'm sure caring parents of ANY child is just as concerned about their child...and that child deserves the same treatment as that given a flaxen-haired beauty -- a missing media darling who becomes the press's eye candy.

I find that strangely disturbing.

(Orinally written, but not published, a couple years ago.)