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".

25 December 2013

The Line, the Which, and the Wardrobe

(Me wearing my Tom Baker scarf and holding an Adipose doll that I was just given for my birthday on the 15th of December.)

The Line, the Which, and the Wardrobe
It's no great secret that I'm a "Doctor Who" fan - and I've been one since I first laid eyes on Tom Baker's (the fourth Doctor) toothy grin back in the 1970s.  But the time is nigh...and with Christmas Day Matt Smith bids farewell as Doctor #11 (or 12th or 13th even, according to some sources) and another regeneration will mark its place in history.  For those unaware, "Doctor Who" is the longest running (altho it did take a break in filming) science fiction program in history (it marked its 50th anniversary last month)...which is quite fitting as it's really all about history...and time traveling. 
While I don't profess to have the writing ability of Steven Moffat or Russell T. Davies, this is, nonetheless, a tribute to the show from my perspective throughout the abbreviated ages...sans the TARDIS.  (Please note that while I watched "Doctor Who" on and off between the 4th and 10th Doctors...I didn't care for it too much for whatever reasons I had...so that is why the regenerations gap.)
The Line
A catchy catchphrase.  While there have been many incarnations of "The Doctor", it seems there's only been a few catchphrases which have stood the test of time...or seem to have ingrained themselves into our collective psyche. 
"Would you care for a Jelly Baby?"
Tom Baker's iconic signature question is almost as synonymous with the show as the uttering of "Doctor Who?" as a response to whomever states "I'm the Doctor." is.  I'm also positive it has single-handedly propelled the sale of Jelly Babies to astronomic proportion.  If it didn't, it certainly didn't hurt it any.
"A big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff." 
That's the concise definition of what time is...according to David Tennant's 10th Doctor...and, if you blink, you're probably going to miss the gist of this.  Yes, Doctor Who fans are understanding what I just said, even if you aren't getting it.  But..."allons-y" -- in other words, let's go to the next Doctor down my list.
"Bow ties are cool." 
Were they ever?  Of course they were!  Bill Nye always wore one and he's about as cool as they come.  It took Matt Smith (11th Doctor) to step up to the plate and solidify it.  And, boy were they ever.  A little after the immortal line was said...the men's departments were chock full of them...mannequins without heads were sporting them...people were wearing them...and...I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.  But this is all about time traveling, so I guess I can use that as an excuse.
The Which
Which is best?  Or, actually "Who" is better?  That's the age-old debate amongst Whovians.  But...it's the same with James Bond...you always have a favourite.  My theory is "You always love your first one best."  And, I can't argue with myself there. 
I first caught a glimpse of Tom Baker (4th Doctor) on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) and his larger than life Cheshire Cat toothy grin...back in the mid 1970s.  This totally captivating man with the melodious and enigmatic voice...hooked me and then reeled me right on in.  I watched, glued to the television set each week...as Tom chased another Dalek off or outwitted a Cyberman.  It didn't matter what he did...the fact that he was doing it...with that mop of curly hair, that grin, that style, and that voice.  Did I mention the grin? 
Then you have David Tennant.  Swoon.  Yeah, you caught me...I'm swooning.  I swooned so much during the "Tennant Years" that I can't imagine myself not swooning.  But...the guy was brilliant.  He came on camera and you believed what he was doing...because he wasn't just acting...he was taking you on a journey.  You got into that TARDIS and you were with him.  And, if he told you to "Run!" - you ran.  If he told you "Don't blink!" you didn't.  And, when he said, "I don't want to go..." you felt his desperation...you knew he was going to be replaced...but, you were hoping the show had a change of heart.  Up until the fade-in of Matt Smith's face...you were hoping...because you, like David, didn't want him to go.
And then there's Matt.  What shoes to fill.  Sand shoes (insert Who in-joke here).  But...wow...what a tough act to follow.  How do you follow the guy who resurrected the show from a steady "eh"...and propelled it into the headliner on BBC America?  I'm fairly sure that Tennant also secured a lofty position over in the UK as well.  But...how do you - as a relative unknown...and the youngest Doctor (26 years old) to portray the ancient Time Lord...pick up from where Tennant left off...with millions already hating you...and not willing to even give you a shot?
Well...you do whatever it was that Matt Smith did.  He was quirky, he was...well there's absolutely no other adjectives to describe him.  In fact, not making this up...my daughter just came out of her room and I said to her..."Quirky?" and she nodded and I said..."What?" and she said "Quirky." and then I asked her again "What?" and she said, "Matt Smith".  Now...if that doesn't prove it...I'm sure the dictionary has an entry under "quirky" which reads "See Matt Smith".  Honestly...that about sums it up.  But...he...and his "fish fingers and custard" stepped into my living room and into my heart.  And...I didn't even WANT to like him!  I wanted to sit here, stewing, brooding, and lamenting over the dismal decision they had as a replacement for Tennant...and, honestly, I couldn't.  So, it will be a sad day...later on today...when he makes his final bow and gets replaced by a man I really have no idea about.  I have no real clue who Peter Capaldi is...and maybe that's a good thing...as I have no preconceived notions about him.  You know...other than I hate him already for replacing Matt Smith.
But...as far as Doctors go.  The others might have played "Doctor Who" - but, in my opinion...Tom Baker WAS "Doctor Who".  He didn't have to act.  I think that's who he was.  I firmly believe that...and don't talk me out of it.  I like believing it.
The Wardrobe
An exceedingly long scarf, a brown trench coat, a bow tie (and a fez).
What could all these things possibly have to do with each other?  They are signature items.  You know who they belonged to...#4, #10, and #11...respectively...and they have mass appeal. 
To me, that's the deal breaker.  If Tom Baker were wearing spats and a chauffeur's cap...it wouldn't have worked.  The long, multi-coloured striped scarf and a Fedora...yep...that's brilliant.  It perfectly framed his curly locks and toothy grin.  On another guy - it would have looked silly.
A long, brown trench coat?  On a super skinny tall guy with spiky hair -- worn over top of a blue, ill-fitting pinstripe suit...with sneakers, no less?  Yep...that works.  For Tennant.
A bow tie on a quirky guy...who also periodically dons a Fez?  On anyone else?  Stupid and over-the-top.  On Matt Smith?  Splendid indeed!
What didn't work?  The wardrobe they put on practically all the Doctors...who came after Tom Baker.  Especially the guy who wore the outfit that I'm sure Gary Glitter and Elton John turned down because it was too ugly and loud.  The Doctor with all the "question marks" on him?  Looked like a cross between "The Riddler" and that Matthew Lesko guy...the one who would scream at you in his commercials telling you to buy his book which was filled with "free money!" from the government. 
In fact, the only Doctor who luckily didn't get a drunken wardrobe mistress to pick out his outfits during that time period...was Christopher Eccleston who wore a black leather coat.  All those others were bad judgment calls and the poor actors were doomed from the get-go...all because their clothes were totally wrong. 
So, when Capaldi walks into my living room later on today, I'll be able to tell if he's going to be a hit or not...based on what he says and what he's wearing when he says it.

I guess...only time will tell.

(All apologies to C. S. Lewis - "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"
All apologies to Steven Moffat - "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe")

25 November 2013

My Facebook friend posted a Tumblr post (from November 2011) the the other day...and...well, after reading it, I just had to comment.  It really got my ire up...which usually doesn't happen that much...well, as far as responding with a blog of my own to counter another person's post.  In fact, it's never happened before.  I was more than a bit miffed...and I couldn't remain silent.
My friend (who posted this - but did not write it) works in the retail business, and I'm certain she is a hard-working, nice, friendly, and very helpful person who deals with jerkwads every day.  I feel sorry for all the people who are also hard-working, nice, friendly, and very helpful people who have to field a bunch of self-righteous ignorant people who think it's funny to do the crap they do because they can do it.  I, however, am not one of those people and I did take offense to this posting.  Allow me to tell you the story from MY side of the counter.
I will post the link of the posting (not copying the whole thing it in case they get mad at me) - and take each item one at a time, in the order they are shown in the post.  Please check out their article first - so you can see the full comment for each item.  It's imperative that you do so in order to fully understand my comments.

1.  Return your items to the store in which you bought them.
While this sounds like an excellent idea and I've done this a few times myself  (I'm not prone to returning things...and can count the times I have done so on a couple hands)...sometimes people who live in another state...have sent us things for Christmas...and we couldn't return it to that specific store. Logically, expecting people to drive all the way back to the store it was originally purchased at, is...well, illogical.  Some people also have other reasons they can't as well.  The fact that you get 20+ returns a day from people is no excuse to treat them like crap...nor roll your eyes at them after they leave your store.  Not everyone is buying things at one place and then driving way out of their way to another store just to make your life miserable.  If the store's policy (usually a chain store) states you can take it back to ANY store...you should do it...without a problem.  Also, sometimes there's a reason a person shows up 10 minutes before closing...especially if the receipt says you have X days to return it and you just now realized today is the last one.  Sorry again...but that's the way it goes.  Also, sometimes there is traffic caused by accidents and whatnot.  If I drove all the way to a store 1 1/2 hours away (I've done this before)...to take something back and I get there 15 minutes before closing...you can bet I'm going to take it back.  I would probably apologize for inconveniencing you...but I would still take it back.
2.  Think twice before picking up your phone.
Personally, I don't talk on my phone in front of people I'm dealing with on a face-to-face basis.  I realize others do.  And, guess what?  A LOT of the people I see who do that...are the ones at the register or working elsewhere in the store...ignoring me while they are talking to someone on their own cell phones.  Yes, I have had to wait...a HUGE amount of times...a HUGE amount of time...until they decided to hang up...sometimes with a snitty response along the lines of: "Uh...a person's here I have to go wait on...yeah...I know...(laugh laugh)...really...uh huh, I tell ya (laugh laugh)...ummmmm...call you back in a minute."  Now I know lots of customers probably do this...I am not doubting you there.  But if I had to fire every single worker at a store who did this to me...I'd pretty much have solved the unemployment crisis (well, not really - but you know what I mean) in this country.  The difference is that...we are paying for YOU to wait on us...not the other way around.  Many people in stores seem to fail to realize this because they just don't give a damn one way or the other.  They hate their jobs or have not been brought up with any work ethic - many who work have never worked in an era before cell phones...but that is absolutely no excuse.  You have a job...get off the phone and do it!
3.  I run a business, not a daycare.
Absolutely agree with you here.  I can feel your pain.  I feel it when I'm in a store and see it.  My children NEVER did this.  Trust me.  Never.
4.  That shirt you found online?
I've never done this.  I'm sure people do this.  While it might be irritating...it's still your job and you should be nice to them.  Some people probably don't realize this...and, yes, customers hope you have it in the back...that's why we ask.  Guess what?  Sometimes asking the right person...after asking two others...found what I was looking for...in the back.  The difference is that they took the initiative to look.  You can't believe how many times I've been told they don't have one of something...only to be told they do...by another employee who goes and "looks in the back" for a minute.  This is probably why people routinely ask this.
5.  Don't just bring a list.  Bring pictures.
Wow?  Really?  We have to bring photos of our stuff that we want?  You mean to tell me that I can't walk into...say, Williams-Sonoma, and ask them if they have a tea strainer because they can't find it as I didn't bring a friggen photo?  Seriously?  You can't possibly be that familiar with your products if you need photos of everything. You just don't want to admit you aren't familiar with items.  Am I to believe if you are working at an apparel store...you can't help someone who maybe wants to find a blue long-sleeved shirt?  Or maybe a cropped white sweater to wear on top of a white dress like my daughter had to wear for graduation?  Oh, yeah.  I had apparel-hell when I asked employees if they had anything like that in their stores.  Numerous stores.  What is so hard about "Do you have any white sweaters which are kinda like a bolero jacket here?"  Trust me...hunting for the "Holy Grail" is probably an easier task.  I can't believe people are seriously that unfamiliar with the stuff in their stores.  ALL of them.  In Dillard's we asked no less than FIVE employees in the women's department...with no luck. They didn't remotely have a clue.  We had to find it ourselves....while they went right back to talking to each other.  And, you know what?  I could have remembered where nearly everything was after looking around for a bit. If I can do that in 30 minutes, you surely can do that after eight hours every day for weeks on end.  It's called "your job"...do it.
6.  When I say, "Hello!" I'm being polite.  You should try it.
Oh...really?  First off, "IF you say 'hello'", is more like it.  I don't typically get a kind word from store employees anymore; half of them are talking to the other worker...making sure their backs are to me (conveniently turning their backs to me the whole while as I walk around them) or talking on their cell phones.  They also don't say things like, "Thanks for shopping with us" or "Have a nice day!"  Many times when I've said it to them...they've not said a word back.  Again, I must reiterate...if customers don't say one word to you while you are working...they might be rude...but it's still your job to greet them.  They don't have to say anything to you if they don't want to.  Sorry, but that's the way it works.  It's called "your job".
7.  Be nice.
Oh...don't get me started - as you'll get an elongated #6 (above) out of me.  I will just point out again that it's your job.  It is upon you to be the nice one.  This is totally lost on most people out there in the world today...except for Chick-Fil-A and Fresh Market workers.  How come they can be nice yet everyone else can't?
8.  Here's the thing with receipts; They [sic] kind of prove that you bought it.
I've had receipts...with the purchase price I paid on it...and, guess what?  They didn't gladly fork over the full amount.  Um...Macy's...I'm talking to you.  I had to get into an all-out receipt-war with the person before I had to go to another floor to see a manager...who tried to weasel out of it before a higher tier manager intervened and reluctantly gave me my purchase price back...all because an item was on sale AFTER the purchase.  So, don't even go there with the "receipt" bit.  I also know people wear things...that they've not ever bought there...and then try to take them back.  But, you know what?  For every person who doesn't have a receipt there are probably dozens more who do.  I know it's got to be frustrating and you don't want to argue with a jerk with an attitude problem...so I can see where you are coming from.  It must not be fun.  But...it's also not fun for me to spend another 25 minutes arguing my case when I have the receipt in my hand.
9.  Do I really have to tell you the price of every thing I ring up?
If they are asking?  Yes.  I can't tell you the amount of times something rung up wrong and they had to do the "price checks" or the "walk you back to where I found it because it will take less time than if you do it yourself and there's a line in back of me which rivals the one for the opening of a 'Star Wars' film" things.  And then they have to call to get the one person in the store who can do an override - and they are always talking to another worker...or looking at their friend's baby...and then take their damned sweet time coming over to only turn a key and press a button.  Just for the record...probably one out of ten times I go to a store...there's a price marked incorrectly...and it's not ever in my favour.  So, yeah.  If someone asks what the price is...again...it's your job.  Be nice and oblige.
10.  If you don't like our prices, go to Wal Mart.
Wow.  Just wow.  Seriously, you just said that?  I hope you work at Wal Mart.  And you are whining because you are helping someone find something...when it's your job?  Ugh.  Just ugh.  I need a job.  How about I take your job?
11.  "It doesn't have a tag on it so I guess it's FREE.  Right?!" "Hahahahaha" [sic]
Oh, c'mon...everyone who shops says this.  Get used to it. 
12.  I don't get paid to be a housekeeper.
I agree with your comments.  I detest seeing those empty cups and food containers all over - are people that lazy?  I guess they are.  They also figure they have a maid (in you) to pick up after them.  I never do this as I think it's deplorable.  I even walk my carriage back to the inside of the store most times instead of just leaving it in the little carriage containment corrals in the parking lot...so, yeah, I don't do this.  I hate the people that do.  And, no...that shouldn't be your job to clean up after them like that.
13.  If I tell you I can help you find a size, I'm not being polite...
It takes you two to three hours to refold a table of shirts?  Perhaps if you turned off your cell phone and used two hands it would take you about 10-15 minutes instead.  Seriously...I can refold a table full of shirts, dress or casual, in a LOT less time than two to three hours.  I think you are highly exaggerating it here to prove a point.  A point that, by the way, is probably IN your job description.  And, perhaps you should be a little nicer to people...and I'm assuming, from your comment, that typically only "XL" people do this sort of thing?  I'm really thin and even I'm taking offense from that snide remark, you impertinent twit.  I'd go and unfold clothes every day for a month if I knew where you worked...just to piss you off.  Seriously.  That was uncalled for.
14.  The mall is closed.  You may leave now.
Usually they usher you out of the store with the constant reminders that the place is going to close in 30, 15, 10, 5...minutes.  I am sure there are stragglers - but most places will give you plenty of stare-downs and whatnots in order for you to leave.  Some places totally shut the registers down - and, if you are late going up to it, you are out of luck.  And, yes, nearly everyone I knew in retail worked a while after the store closed...but they also got paid for working until their work was done.  I, on the other hand, worked in a government job...and many times I would work late...without getting paid overtime.  I very rarely ever got out right on the button.  And I never was a jerk to anyone who wanted to chat a bit. 
So...there it is.  I feel better now after responding to this...even if no one reads it - I got it out of my system.
Many people out there would love to have a job...and there's people with this attitude bitching about having one.  Perhaps working in a job where you don't have to deal with the public would be helpful for people who seem not able to deal with people.  I run into so many people, at the doctors' offices and at the retail level, who really never should have gone into that line of work.  Unfortunately, it's not so easy to terminate someone...and the ones who have a bad attitude...they are afraid to...just in case they come back later with a gun.  It's just a sad situation we live in where doing your job is something people complain about.  Just doing your job.  I don't get it.  I guess I was from another time.  A time when doing a great job without any reward was still expected.  Now, it seems, that if you just do your job, you get pats on the back.
By the way, I make it a point to never complain about someone (to management) unless they are consistently bad...and, even then, I don't complain (like that woman who works at the Starbucks on Eastern Blvd...she's NEVER been nice...not even cracked a smile that I've seen...and I've gone in there at least 30 times).  I do, however, call to tell managers about how incredible a worker is...and I've done that numerous times.  So, word to the wise...there are people out there who notice when you've been nice.  

And, remember...being nice to people doesn't take an extra effort...that is, if you're used to doing it.


31 October 2013

Halloween is Different This Year for Me

Excuse me if I get a bit testy on your Facebook posts today...or anything in general, really. You see...it's Halloween.

And it's hard to put a mask on and dance about like a drunken druid on some sunny Solstice day and everything around me...reminds me of frivolity.  But, I'm sad.

First off...I didn't get any pumpkins.  Didn't gut them...no seeds in the oven to burn to a pulp (oh, look...an inadvertent "pun-kin" there) because apparently I'm the only one in human history who can't toast a seed worth a damn.  So...no pumpkins, no pathetic attempt of carving with those crappy plastic knives they sell you with the artsy templates that would have had Michelangelo gouging his own eyes out with them...you know, if he would have had to use them back then.

Secondly, I have no candy.  I live where no one's going to come anyway.  If they do...I guess I'll just pretend I'm not here...or I'll give them some AAA batteries or a nicely wrapped can of dented soup...or something  So that means no 10 p.m. binging on mini-nuggets of Kit-Kats, Whoppers, and Dove's...oh my.  No waking up to wrapper shrapnel littering my sofa and floor.  Nothing.  I don't even have a cookie here to get my choco-fix.  I didn't venture out because I know it will all be marked down 50% the day after Halloween and I guess I can just take an extra Ambien or something.

Thirdly (is "thirdly" even a word), my daughter's at college.  I have no reason to dress up - my cats won't care one way or the other.  There's nothing more sad (well, yes there is) than to realize I can't slap a costume on my youngest kid just to justify donning one myself.  If I had a dog...I could probably dress them up...but cats don't appreciate the sentimentality plus they are way too sensible to let humans pop a cape or hat on them to satisfy some whimsical deviant dress-up fascination.  I also have no latent desire to priss up my pussy...for Halloween nor any other holiday.

Lastly, I guess I'm alone with my thoughts...for the first time.  Before, I had to put on a happy face...donning a mask of sorts because it was a happy day, a celebratory day, a day of rejoicing...of candy and costumes...of children and their squeals of "Trick or Treat" and of running up and down lawns, leaving little footsteps in the glistening grass, and scurrying to get under a streetlight to see what you just got.

And what I just got was a flood of memories.  You see, my "Mumzie", my "Mummo", my mother...died on Halloween in 1999.  And...I'm alone - for the first time really...with my adult son...and my cats...and my thoughts.  I always was too busy...with other happy things...to go off and cry; I had to put a mask on and hide it.  It might be Halloween to nearly everyone else on the planet...but to me it's also such a sad day.  I always wondered how people dealt with the death of a loved one...on a "special" day...when all around you is celebration...but deep in your heart, it's nothing but.  It's hard to do...and I guess, from now on, I'll just have to put a brave face on and come to terms with it.

But...it's so hard.  Wow...it's really, really hard.  :(

(And, yes, you can dress your cat up...but, why would you?  Okay, I admit, it's my cat, Simon...with a tiara on his head...on New Year's Eve.  I'm not proud of myself...and yes, that's what cat embarrassment looks like.)

28 October 2013

Halloween's True Origin

The real reason we "dress up" for Halloween has nothing to do with druids or spirits or even commercialism. The real reason was started by Reginald Wickingham from Hounslow, London in England. 

Mr. Wickingham you see, was a purveyor of the spirital sort...which meant that he sold alcohol. He routinely consumed more than he sold, or so the legend of the town says. One day, upon hearing his door being pounded on...he rose up from the floor and staggered over to the door in nothing more than the first thing he could grab to put on. It was Mrs. Wickingham's dressing gown. The Vicar had come 'round to tell him that his wife had been taken ill and was at the local parish church being tended to by some members of the congregation...but that she was inconsolable and insisted the Vicar get her husband at once. Naturally, a couple others accompanied him in case Mr. Wickingham was overcome by grief upon hearing of his wife's grave condition. 

Mr. Wickingham, not wanting to seem drunk at noon on a Sunday...and realizing in his half-haze that he was now standing at the doorway in his wife's frilly thing...offered his "guests" some fruit and a couple of chocolates which were sitting on the table next to the door. He then stated his elaborate get-up was a "fun new fad" that was all the rage in the colonies...a yearly event where people got dressed up and handed fruits and candied bits of orange rind and the occasional chocolate to people who went from door to door...in a gleeful state brought upon by the occasional imbibing of a glass of mulled wine or a flagon of beer. 

Neither the Vicar nor the two people accompanying him wanted to look foolish...Mr. Wickingham was also a great wealthy man of some stature who travelled extensively around the globe...so they all nodded their heads in approval stating that they, too, had heard of the new fad...but were unaware that it was held on that certain day...thinking that it was going to be held the next day, which just so happened to be the 31st of October. 

They all had a laugh until it dawned on them that poor Mrs. Wickingham was lying prone on a pew in the church and needed to be attended to immediately. Mr. Wickingham, not wanting to be made a mockery of...donned an overcoat and top hat and threw it on top of the dressing gown...making it seem even more plausible to the Vicar and the members of the congregation upon their arrival back. 

As for Mrs. Wickingham, she had passed away...but it was all for the best as she really was disliked by everyone. And after the funeral, the next evening, they all got dressed up and celebrated...therefore cementing the ritualistic dress-up in the town, which, of course, over the years, ended up spreading far and wide. The fact that this day happened to occur on "All Hallow's Eve" was just a fortunate coincidence...and easy for everyone to remember it by. Well, everyone except poor Mrs. Wickingham, that is.

(This was another in my silly series of Halloween-themed "facts"...in other words, this was made up by me.)

27 October 2013

Ancient Alien Conspiracy Regarding "The War of the Worlds"

Orson Welles...the genius mastermind responsible for such epic creations as "Citizen Kane", "The Magnificent Ambersons", and "The Third Man" got his brilliant idea of "The War of the Worlds" radio show on the exact same day as the Roswell, New Mexico alien spaceship crash.  Yes, unbeknownst to Welles, his panic-laden historic "Martians landing in a farmer's field in Grover's Mills, New Jersey" idea came into his head on 4 July 1947. 

Yes, the broadcast was a full nine years earlier, but some ancient alien theorists discount the date and, in fact, insist that aliens did indeed land when the inception of the idea first popped into Welles' head. The infamous Halloween radio show was broadcast 30 October 1938...but due to a full nine years of unaccountable time, it actually occurred the exact same time.  "If Welles were alive, he'd emphatically collaborate our findings." ancient alien theorist, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, was quoted as saying. Tsoukalos further posited, "The time difference is just further proof that aliens indeed landed on Earth and have been time-travelling, interweaving fact with fiction all along.  That's what aliens are best at doing.  They've been setting the clocks back further than we've ever done.  We've only just begun to scratch the surface of this and firmly believe Orson Welles was a cosmic conduit between space aliens and 'The War of the Worlds' author H.G. Wells. Their surnames are nearly identical, both states the aliens landed in have the word 'New' in them, and Welles wrote that radio show interpretation of that exact same book.  This does not happen coincidentally...the aliens were trying to tell us something...and this was probably it."

(This was a little Halloween homage parody I wrote.  But...if they use it in one of their upcoming episodes, you will know where they got the idea.  I hope I get the check.)

22 October 2013

Facebook 'Goes Down' in History

Millions of people were left stranded in their cars, in their houses, and at area businesses earlier today when Facebook had a malfunction.

As insane as it may sound, people actually had to drive with both hands on the steering wheel or sip their morning coffee staring blankly at their cereal boxes (a phenomenon which has not happened since the social media giant took the Internet world by storm back in the "'00s").  Some people could not even get dressed as their pleas for "What should I wear today???" were met with "try again in a few minutes" prompts over and over again.

Sally Bergeron, from upstate New York, had this to say, "I got up this morning and Fluffy, my cat...this one...in this photo and this photo...and isn't she just sooooo cute here as she's a photo diva for sure.  Um...wait just a second...there she goes again...oh, she's showing me her butt!  How cute!  I gotta post this up to Facebook, just a second..."

Grant LaPierre, a long-time San Francisco resident, said he had gotten up early to check his email and to see what cat photos had been posted by his Facebook friends, but was shocked to learn he couldn't give a "Thumbs Up" nod to any of them.  "Hey, this is how you lose friends" he said, "I can't begin to tell you how many people 'unfriended' me back in September 2010 when Facebook crashed before.  It was horrible.  They thought I didn't like their cats.  It was all the more gut-wrenching this time because they knew I just got a dog.  I guess I'll have to do a bit of back-tracking to make it all right.  Thanks a LOT, Facebook...you'll be hearing from my lawyers tomorrow."

According to the Chicago Tribune, Facebook acknowledged the problem, but insisted it was only for a "brief period of time"...even though service was down for several hours across the globe.

"We're sorry for the inconvenience" a Facebook representative stated, "We know how many of you rely on Facebook for news of the world, of your friends and family, and of their cherished pets.  We honestly had no idea the global impact of not seeing a link from a friend of a YouTube viral video of a cat playing with a laser pointer...would have on the world.  We are sorry...and we will strive not to have anything like this happen again.  Honestly, it was our server guy.  It was his fault...not ours.  I hear he doesn't even LIKE cats!"

Facebook service did resume to its full capacity after a few hours although their stock did plummet in the early morning hours.  General Mills stock, ironically, gained a few points and finished nicely at the end of the day.

17 October 2013

Hash Tag...and I'm IT!


Yeah.  I don't get it either.  Apparently a whole bunch of people...or maybe it's just my friends...don't as well.

# has always been either a number sign or a pound sign to me.  In fact, if you call the base to refill your prescription, it will go through a whole series of prompts telling you to "enter the last four digits of your social security number...followed by the pound sign" and then "enter the numeric portion of your prescription...followed by the pound sign".  It does not tell me to enter a hash tag sign.  Because up until 26 August 2007, it wasn't.  Then some guy named Stowe Boyd decided, probably under the influence of a lot of alcohol (most stupid things people do, were), to call it something else.  How he managed to get everyone to follow suit is beyond me.

It's kinda like those sayings which, long before the Internet, managed to circulate around from person to person, and show up in our American lexicon.  Face it, someone came up with things like "Going to hell in a hand basket."  Why a hand basket is beyond me as well...because if I'm going to go to hell...I hope they deliver me in something larger.  Getting into a hand basket would be a hell of a feat of manual contortionist dexterity, I tell you.

But, back to hash tags. 

I went on my Facebook (yes, it's my Facebook...it was invented solely for my amusement and entertainment) the other day and asked people what they were and what do you use a hash tag for.  Why you use one.  What happens when you type one and click on it (because they become blue when you type them on Facebook...and therefore "clickable").  And, if no one had previously commented on a hash tag I just "invented", would it be mine forever, like when you register a .com name.

Again, I was met with shrugs and gasps and other things you cannot see when you're on the Internet, so you have to invent acronyms to convey these things...like "SMH" and "ISMSRN" (which hasn't been invented as I just coined it).  So, I decided to take a look.

Apparently Facebook recognizes hash tags but they only work from a computer and not a "mobile device"...which I think is code for "cell phone".  It was probably coined by that Boyd guy on 1 May 2009.  It seems everyone who said anything remotely new is now listed on the Internet so you can make sure when you say it, the proper person gets the nod.  Again, a nod you can't see...which, btw is as good as a wink to a blind horse.  (BTW is another acronym...probably credited to yet another person...and probably erroneously...like Christopher Columbus discovering America.)

But I'm digressing once again.

Anyway...the first hash tag I claimed in the vast Internet wasteland was "# IHateHashtags", followed by "# Mariann" and "# Pomtini" because "# MartiniTime" was already taken by someone.  Then I started getting really giddy thinking I am, sometime in the future, going to be contacted by people with gobs of money, buying them from me for astronomical sums...like they did for "Drugs.com" and "Sex.com".  I was, for all intents and purposes...getting extremely fond of all things hash-ish...and  hoping to make an Internet score of monumental proportion...so I just kept clicking away.  My newfound love was indeed the drug I was thinking of.  And anything that I thought of...well, I hash tagged it.

One of my friends remarked that, for a person who thought they were stupid, I was certainly hogging them all.  So...let it be formally known, that I invented the word "Hashhog" - followed quickly by "Hashhogging" and "Hashhogger" - and I have all three of them with a little pound/numeric/hash tag sign in front of them...out in Internetland, to prove it.

After making a few more I decided to stop, fearing for a backlash from Facebook...which is nothing like a blackslash...so please don't confuse what I say.  The Internet knows what I say...so I can always look it up and throw it in your face later. Anyway, I stopped because I didn't want to get put on "Facebook Probation" for a week like I did those couple of times before - for "over-friending".  I was being cautious and prudent-like...best not jump on the hash bandwagon only to get thrown off before my hash world-domination comes to fruition.

And honestly...I still don't know what I've done, if it will make any impact, or if anyone out there will ever visit my vast hashdoms...which is not the same as a hash den...but probably would give me the same heady delight...say, if someone out there offered to buy one of them from me for a couple million. 

So let it be known that I am focused on a mission to claim every single word combination left to claim -- that can be formulated in the spaces they allot (and there has to be a limit because one of my other friends tried making a long hash-string of words, but it didn't work).

In the meantime...start using the words "hashhog" and "hashhogger" -- and don't forget to join me for drinks at # Pomtini and drop me a line at # Mariann...because...well, someone hash to.

05 October 2013

Esmerelda and the Area Known as 51 (Part 1)

(The following is a repost of a story I started writing a ways back.  Just wanted to bring it to the forefront to remind me.)

It was just about dusk as Esmerelda sat behind the counter filing her nails at the only gas station in Goldfield, Nevada.

She had sat behind that counter every day, or near about every day, since her daddy got taken ill with a raging fever that ended up taking his breath away. Momma prayed hard that day and asked Esmerelda, "Sing with your angel voice, child, sing so the angels can hear and come straight to your daddy to 'take him home'."

Esmerelda obliged.

She was just a girl of about seven...but her voice could make grown men weep - and when the town, once a boom town for gold, started to get deserted, grown men wept for other reasons. Esmerelda didn't really understand where "home" was. She just knew when people got bit real bad by snakes or had the consumption, they always went "home" and then no one ever saw them again. They parceled you up real good, too. Put you in a big wooden box to send you there. She figured a special postman with a big wagon and two horses came to take you back "home" and your family would walk as far as they could and then came back again...crying.

But no one came back once they went home. And for a very long time Esmerelda was afraid to ever go home, but as she never lived anywhere else, she figured she was already there. Then, as all things go, time passed and she understood about "home" and then was worried her momma would go there one day. Sometimes she'd find herself doing chores 'round the house and her sweet voice would pour out like liquid sunshine and kiss the ears of everyone within earshot. Then she'd clam up and run outside as far and as fast as she could. She didn't want those angels to find her momma.

But now she was filing her nails and Curtis was in the garage of the gas station shouting obscenities each time he'd smash a finger. Curtis worked at the little grocery store and service station that was smack on the edge of town. Smack on the edge of town to nowhere really. Wasn't anything much before or after the town and certainly wasn't much there. The only thing within miles was Las Vegas and the only time people came through Goldfield anymore was because they heard it once had gold...but that was a considerable time ago, but that never stopped the passers-by who lost everything but gas money out of Vegas. Goldfield was a tank of gas away...and if they got lucky and found the stray nugget, it was a tank of gas back. And the only place to get that gas was at Esmerelda's daddy's store, "Old Bob Perkins' Place" it was called by the locals and that's what it will always be called if Esmerelda and her momma had anything to do with it.

It didn't cost much to run and Curtis got paid only when he fixed something, which wasn't very often, but then again, Curtis was never going to amount to much anyway...but that never stopped him from trying to hit on Esmerelda.

He had it all worked out in his simple head. He'd marry Esmerelda when the time was right and that time would be any day now seeing as she was starting to fill out her dresses too much and started wearing her momma's. Then he and Esmerelda would move in with his momma as she had the biggest house for miles around. Curtis never knew why she did, he only knew they didn't want for anything...but he never much wanted for anything anyway...anything but Esmerelda, that is. And that "wanting" wasn't exactly like wanting a new tire or wanting a new pair of shoes -- it was more like wanting some dinner...only sometimes this hunger seemed a lot deeper. Curtis, again, never really knew why.

But Esmerelda's hunger and desire didn't lie with Curtis...she wanted to go to Hollywood...or at least Vegas. She liked the distinct smell of ozone once when daddy took the family on a trip up there shortly before he died. Once in a while, on a warm still night, Esmerelda swore she could still catch a whiff of it if the breeze was blowing just right and if she turned her head just so.

Esmerelda knew she didn't have much time, either. The desert sun can blanch the bones of a dead thing white in a couple days...and the supple, taut skin of a young girl of 15 turns into something hard and leathery like the cowboys and Mexicans wore in those "shoot 'em up" movies she wanted to star in. Star in them right up there on the silver screen with Gary Cooper or John Wayne. Even though Esmerelda only went to a movie once, she knew that's what she wanted to do...she also knew, aside from "going home", that was her only ticket out of Goldfield.

And the best way to get there was on a tank of gas after someone found a big enough nugget.

So, each day she came to work dressed in her momma's best clothes, her hair styled as closely as she could get it to resemble the latest "starlet of the month" on the magazine cover and smelling of something called "L'amore de Parisienne". It cost a whole fifty cents...the finest her daddy's store carried. And there she would wait, filing her nails, anticipating that one day, and one day soon, a big Hollywood director would need a fill-up on his way scouting around for a new place to shoot a film...discover her in all her momma's Sunday finest...and sweep her away to the place where dreams can be made real...or at least as close to the reality she always dreamt about.

Each day, she'd walk home more disappointed than the last...and the days she spent waiting turned into weeks, then months, and finally years. Curtis had filled out enough to become interesting to her...and as he was the only boy close her age for miles, his dream was beginning to look like it would be her dream as well.

(End of Part 1)

25 April 2013


All across the world there are versions of this question ringing out: "What's for dinner?"

Now, I know some of you out there are good cooks, some might even be Julia Child-like...but there are some of you who think cooking involves a can of "Cream of Mushroom" soup, rice which never comes in contact with others of their species (how do they make rice that does that anyway - I think NASA had something to do with it), and a block of Velveeta.

While I'm not picking on you, I'm just amazed that someone can slap together a dinner, from start to finish, in the time it takes for me to wash my vegetables. Seriously, that's not fair...and that's as far away from being a gourmand than those rice grains are away...from each other.

Yes, I know...those "Iron Chef" people can make a dozen delectable dishes in the time it takes me to return from a commercial break, but I never see them wash their vegetables, either...so I'm discounting them. Plus being "quick like a bunny" never helped any rabbit in any cook's kitchen.

But, those of you who feel the calling to harken back to the bygone days of tomato aspics expertly molded into regal Crimean lion poses -- and little racks of lamb with the tiny white chef's hat lovingly placed upon each little lamb-bone...I bring to you a gem of a recipe I recently unearthed in my vintage 1941 "The Escoffier Cook Book"...

So the next time you scoff because that burrito in the microwave is taking longer than 1:21 to cook or that you can't believe the skyrocketing price of a dented can of Le Sueur baby peas...just be glad that you'll probably never cause a grand societal faux pas embarrassing yourself by mistakenly stirring your iced tea with your marrow spoon.

Now...about that dinner...

(Click on the photos to enlarge them if you cannot read the full text.)

22 March 2013

Death to Punxsutawny Phil -- Too Harsh a Sentence?

Squirrel Goes Nuts -- Vows to Eat One Baby Each Day People Continue to Complain About Punxsutawny Phil

A mother squirrel in the neighbouring town of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, has literally had it with all the bad press lately about Punxsutawny Phil that she has vowed to eat one baby per day until the "madness has stopped".

The Slippery Rock rodent resident has lived in the shadow of Phil for too long and is tired of all the hoopla which descends upon the quiet and serene area of western Pennsylvania every year.

While the mother could not be reached for comment...she does live way up in a tree after all...we did manage to get hold of the following statement:

"Each year, without fail, right smack dab in the middle of mating season...all these news vans set up camp just to get a photo op with some lazy rodent who couldn't tell his ass from a hole in the ground" the upset mother of six (make that five) stated yesterday. "I know it's some human tradition thing that's been going on for years, but it wreaks havoc with my biological clock and a squirrel can only wait so long before she has to decide which mate to pick. Last year I picked Ralph...this year, it was Eddie. Ralph was no prize, trust me -- Eddie's even worse. All my other suitors relocated to areas further away because radio frequencies apparently inhibit squirrel sperm count. Had I known how my kids were going to turn out because of Ralph's mutated nut-juice, I would eaten them then. Now they are too big and I can't...so this year, I'm planning to eat one of Eddie's kids each day I see another news truck come barrelling through here. I figure he can't hold that against me and, since it's a noble cause for all the other wildlife around here, it's a win-win situation for all."

And I, for one, cannot agree more. Come on people...it's a rodent. A shadow-producing (or not), weather-predicting rodent in 2013? And we're going to ask for his head on a plate because he predicted wrongly? (People are actually calling for his death.)  Yeah, back before meteorology and calendars like the Farmer's Almanac...I could see people getting mad enough. But 2013?? No wonder the Aztecs were hoping we'd bite it in 2012.

(Yes, I know...literally vs figuratively...but literally still sounds better to the ear.)

01 March 2013

Hit me with your lowest shot...

I was served divorce papers yesterday. 

Is that all there is to it?

No "Hey, guess what...I'm going to file for divorce - heads up notice for ya - start saving money to find yourself a lawyer like I've been doing as I've known I was going to do this for a while..." kinda thing? 

So, yep.  That is all there is to it after nearly 27 years.

I have 30 days to totally get my act together and reply.  Well, less than 30 now.  So, in about as much time as this contest ran - is all I have. 

Please go on over to "We Work for Cheese" to see the other (probably much longer) blogs than this one.  This is the last day to do it as the 28 day challenge is over! 

27 February 2013

Cheers and Jeers

Today's prompt over at Nicky and Mike's "We Work for Cheese" contest (one more day left!) is "and that's why I got drunk". Please head on over to all the other teetotaler and drunkard posts...and read what they have to say about it. Cheers!

I'm not sure what to write for this post. Whether I should write something about my distant past, my not so distant past (also known, ironically, as my not so recent past), or my recent past.

So, I will write something which I hope all kids and grown ups out there will listen to and use it as a lesson. In fact, I'll write two. One was way back in my past - the second, the other day. These are indeed facts and I'm not proud of them...but if I can save a life...then it will be worth the indignity and humiliation and whatever else I got.

Back in my personal heyday of drug taking...I was born in 1960 after all, the things to take were just smoking joints and drinking. Or for those not into pot, there was always good old cheap booze. Cheap booze, by the way is usually not "good" nor is it "old". They made it on Monday in some guy's bathtub (well, the factory which operates on this basic set-up) and by the weekend, it was miles away from their makers, stocking the shelves of your local purveyor of affordable buzzes.
I had many young friends as was fashionable in the days when you'd all drive around from place to place with a carload of friends...and most times, since I was either a tiny bit older or had a job to afford a car...I became very important to some of these people.

Drinking would usually be done in back of a place called "Obie's" or the very old "Pig 'n' Whistle Bar" which (talk about irony) burned down the first night we moved to Browns Mills, NJ, in 1972.  They built a new one...but it wasn't as regal and resplendent as the original, but that was the one everyone "hung" behind.

There were a bunch of dirt trails back there and people hanging in the front of the bar made a nice extra income when the "younger kids" couldn't legally buy their liquour.

You'd take it around back...watch the cars, trucks, and motorbikes jump the dirt hills and you'd drink until drunk set it...and then you'd go home.

It wasn't hard to figure out that when a group of you ended up there watching the cars, trucks, and bikes...that was pretty much it to do where we lived; it was basically unofficially our town's entertainment distrinct.  Considering it's behind two bars in the woods...and this was as good as it was going to get...sometimes people would use it as a gathering place to "party".

You'd get drunk to fit in, you'd get drunk because otherwise people wouldn't do these foolish things for your entertainment, you'd get drunk because life was absolutely friggen boring in Browns Mills, New Jersey...and that's why I got drunk, too.

It was at one such of these events that some of my friends wanted to go home and I was the designated driver. The "designated driver" back then meant: I was the one who had a car.

The roads around a lake don't have any shoulder...what they do have are embankments full up of pine trees and then water.

Volkswagen Beetles were known to roll over without much effort expended...just the gravitational pull of lopsided sitters, failure to obey a 15 mph sign, and way too much alcohol and other recreational "treats" from my era...sometimes culminates into a bad day. This day there was much reveling and everyone made an oooooooooooooh noise and my oil light flashed on. Never having had my oil light come on, I asked my passengers, who probably had no clue; this time they did. You see, I was up on two wheels about to go over like a curious boy prodding a Dung Beetle with a stick. I was just a hair shy from ending up at the bottom of the embankment, because when they tell you 15 mph, there's a reason...and the last number I reason I saw was about 55.

Well, nothing happened after that other than I swear I sobered up. I sobered up quickly. You see, I had a couple friends who drove drunk and killed their occupants, or messed them up for life. I was determined never to drive after drinking again...this was when I was 17...and I never have. Not even one drink. I have not done it. I take it that I have a lot of willpower...but I'd like to believe I'm ethical, too. I never want to be responsible for taking someone's life because I was too stupid and drunk to know when to say "No." You say "no" before you get to that point - and many nites I would be the sober driver before "sober drivers" were the in people.

That was lesson number one.


Lesson number two is embarrassing.

I take Ambien. Some Ambien don't work very well and I take more Ambien. I am also prone to dropping Ambien, and being a germaphobe, toss those away. I shouldn't. But when you are taking Ambien there is no such thing as a "rationale" mind.

So, after finishing up yesterday's "Deal With It" prompt, I realized I didn't have enough Ambien to get me until "end day" - the day I can refill these things...and I'm already getting my spazz on early. I look like a miser counting my money. My little vial, my pills, my pills broken into portions, the portions being obligated for this day and that...and still I realize I won't have enough to make it. So, I did something stupid...

...I remembered what a few of my friends said...that they took their Ambien and sloshed it back with some wine or vodka. Again, I'm a "rational" person...but a rational person on Ambien is akin to The Easter Bunny helping Santa load his sleigh up for him. There's no such thing.

But I took my partial pill and noticed I do indeed have vodka...so let me try this - as I said several friends swear by it. I took down the very pretty, and very small, cordial glasses for sipping tiny bits of sherry. Think overly large, overly old, women sipping only enough alcohol to fit into two thimbles. I took one off the shelf and meticulously wash it. I'm not so wonky in the head that the germaphobe isn't there. The germaphobe is always there...he has permanent residence in there and pretty much calls all the shots. And this shot of vodka is no exception.

After it is washed out and looking sparkly...I fill it up. I fill it up without realizing just how much straight vodka can fit into this tiny, delicate, intricately carved glass. One sip...well, there's more in the glass...I can't toss it out - it's perfectly good Grey Goose Vodka, dammit!

So, I purse my lips and take another couple swallows. Who would have known, that not unlike Doctor Who's TARDIS, it's much bigger INSIDE that glass than looking at it from the OUTSIDE. And, within a short period of time, one could say with great probability...that the Ambien was kicking in about the same time as the lady-sized vodka rocket...and that's why I got drunk. Drunk on an empty stomach to make the Ambien work (not supposed to eat before or after you take Ambien or it takes forever to kick in)...also makes the vodka work.

I'm not sure what was working better...but I was pretty much gone for a LONG time.

While it was nice to be gone for a long time when you have chronic insomnia and never sleep more than three hours WITH medication, but...please, please, don't shove back your medication with a goodly sum of alcohol. I was stupid to have done it...and I hope I'll never do it again. I think lesser things have sent people to early graves.

So that's another lesson learned. I hope it lasts as long as the first. And please learn from them, too. I know personally know people who has died from the first...and I know a couple people who mixed drugs with their alcohol and died as well. Just because it's prescription drugs instead of miscellaneous ones you got from your friends...doesn't mean they can't kill you just as dead.

26 February 2013

Just Horsing Around

(Two guesses where the "meatballs" come from.)

I started writing a blog about how I'm depressed and "oh, woe is me" and so forth and then I stumbled upon this news tidbit about Swedish furniture company, Ikea, getting caught selling horse meat in some meatballs.

This isn't an isolated event as quite a few places in Britain have been cited for their beef and pork being tainted with horse meat as well.

The first thing that came to my mind was, "What? Ikea sells food??"

Not only was I gobsmacked by the fact Ikea sells food...but I wondered how they packaged it. Was it all in individual little plastic bags when you bought, say, lasagne, and you'd have to assemble it yourself? Were you halfway through it when you noticed it was missing two noodles? Was there a toll-free number you could call for them to send you replacement noodles? How long does it take for them to ship out your noodles anyway? I'm figuring by the time you got your noodles you'd probably have to throw out the other stuff...and then you'd be left with only two noodles.

But seriously, do they do this "food thing" on an international scale? I never saw Ikea next to the Stouffer's or Hungry Man dinners. I think I would have noticed that. Do they even sell their food to other nations?

I looked, and according to some article, those horsey meatballs were sent to 12 other European countries. That's a bunch of irate people all talking different languages seeking justification as to how and why this could happen from a brand they probably trusted...and, perhaps it went something like this at Ikea's corporate office...

"We have just one thing to say about it, people -- just deal with it. It was only found in one batch and it's the same quality horse meat we've always used."

"Look, when you buy a product from a place that can't figure out how to get all your credenza parts into one box, you're going to have to realize we're really never going to figure out how someone managed to sneak horse meat into our production line."

"We have run several separate analyses on our products and found that horse meat is actually 20 percent better for you than the substandard sawdust we'd been using for the past 15 years."

"Look on the bright side...beef and pork have both been proven to cause arterial blockage...whereas no studies have been made on horse meat."

"Tainted meat...heh heh heh. We only did this so we could count up how many late nite comedians around the world used the word 'taint' in their monologues."

"Again, on the bright side...no one's ever died of 'mad horse' disease."

"All you neighsayers out there have been racing to track down someone to point a finger at. Right from the start...you were all quick to come out of the gate claiming some foal play,. Well, it'll behoove you to prove any wrong doing on anyone's part in our company. In the first place, you can't show we had any knowledge of this...and, in the end, you can bet we'll finish on top. We aren't going to issue some blanket statement on this other than you guys are definitely beating a dead horse over this whole issue."

Okay, that last one was a stretch.

Okay, I'll stop now. It wasn't that funny anyway...and puns were never a strong point of mine.

At least I didn't mention Sarah Jessica Parker...you have to give me some credit for restraint.

This was Day 26 of our 28 day quest into "We Work for Cheese's" maniacal writing contest. Today's prompt was "Deal With It"...and I tried. Now go and read everyone else's take on it..go on. You can do it. Hay, don't make me threaten you with another horse-related pun.

Sorry...I had to get one last one in there.