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".

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)