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".

18 October 2010

Becoming Unglued

"Mrs. Clayton, Jimmy's eating paste!" Little Suzy's tattletale shrieks broke the relative giddiness of the room and the whole class turned to see for themselves.

There he was...the telltale sign of paste hanging on the corners of his mouth like dingleberries...well, hanging on a whole other orifice; his mouth clamped tighter than that other sphincter, but smelling remarkably better.

"Let me see, James. Open your mouth." Mrs. Clayton's direct order and stern gaze (peering out from behind her black cat-eye glasses which were perched precariously on her hawk-like nose) had absolutely no effect on the kid. He wouldn't, or maybe he couldn't...but he shook his head forcefully back and forth and then a couple gulps later...he'd open wide for all to see. The evidence cleverly swallowed...his fat pink tongue wagging back and forth like an innocent puppy dog's tail. He was triumphant and, like that puppy, clearly oblivious to any wrong-doing.

With the "whiff test" administered directly after, Mrs. Clayton could do no more than to confiscate our group's paste container and we'd have to make do with passing around the industrial-sized Elmer's Glue which always needed Herculean strength to squeeze out a hair's diameter of the stuff on your paper. Even with shoving both a pin and a nail in the top part (over and over again)...the best you could hope for was an inconsistent dotted-line of semi-clotted goop to plop out and sore muscles the next day.

Now paste always had that nice minty aroma to it when I was a kid...I'm not sure if it still does nowadays...but back then it did. Perhaps that's why the paste-eaters of my era treasured it so. And you can rest assured there was always one kid in class who was an elitist gourmand when it came to all things sticky.

Elmer's Glue, although much more fun to play with (when it finally did come out) didn't have the culinary draw that nice white paste had. And don't forget, paste did have that popsickle-like stick inside the cap with which to poke and probe your way to the parts that didn't have any construction or crepe paper bits intermingled with it. Pure, unadulterated paste. Left alone with a tub of the stuff and the likes of Suzy being absent that day...Jimmy could get his fill uninterrupted. Sure, we'd laugh and point...but you have to keep in mind paste wasn't the only thing this kid was "into".

Jimmy had the unfortunate luck to be born a "Barger"..."James Barger" to be precise. Naturally, Jimmy also had reddish hair...all the more to stand out and be different from the other kids - but other than his propensity for paste...Jimmy had another proclivity: Jimmy liked to pick his nose and eat the contents therein.

In the well-oiled machinery of the mind of a five or six-year-old, it doesn't take too much gear-turning to alter "Barger" to "Booger"...and well, the name stuck. Stuck better than a nose-mining paste-oholic on a sub-zero playground in December. If you've never witnessed the sheer amount of "stuff" a nose can leak out of it in the winter in Jersey during recess...well, you haven't truly lived. Usually this is what mittens and coat sleeves were for...but little Jimmy "Booger" would be off by himself with the unbridled passion of a deer with a salt-lick. The kid was an unstoppable, unwavering gross-out spectacle. I'm not sure which he enjoyed more...the taste of paste and snot or the constant attention of his classmates pointing at him and egging him on to eat more paste and snot.

As he went through the elementary grades, Jimmy "Booger" Barger went through his fair share of paste. Paste becoming more and more a rarity with each passing year, Jimmy was eventually weaned off his habit, at least as far as we knew.

The nickname was still in use the year I moved when I was eleven, and while I was never there to know for certain, I'm pretty much inclined to believe it stuck until graduation day...when he could finally venture forth on a new life outside of the Hamilton Township School System.

Memories of youth undoubtedly fade...although some things do seem to cement themselves in our minds. It's silly what we retain in our heads years down the road - and how the simplest things can trigger those memories. You see, lately I've been wondering about poor old James...and whatever became of him -- because there's a boy in my daughter's school who looks strikingly similar.

Oh, I'm not going to blurt out any questions regarding paste ingestion to him...but...I might be inclined to get close enough to catch a whiff of his breath. You know, just for old-time curiosity's sake.

And, if it's minty fresh, eh...perhaps then I'll ask.

15 October 2010

A Great Photo Op...or a Photo Oops?

Just how much does it cost for a night on the town?

Well, not just any night on the town...a hypothetical night on the town as seen through the eyes of someone (me) who doesn't typically see things the way others do...but perhaps a few of you out there have been wondering the same as me. It IS, after all, inevitable.

A little set-up of sorts first:

1. I am old.

2. I love Monty Python.

3. I tend to think outside the box, i.e., not "normally".

4. I'm cynical and sarcastic and sometimes, with the right combination of legal substances, I also am given to flights of fancy that (at least to myself) I am somewhat witty.

Now the gist of what this is about:

Take anyone who reads the online version of their local community paper and give them...oh...a half hour or so...just perusing the site and reading things and looking around. You know -- the normal things.

Normally, this "normal" person will read a few articles, perhaps comment on a few things, perhaps agree with some content and disagree with one thing or another.

But not me.

I've been waiting and waiting for the inevitable. Some might say "Waiting for the other shoe to drop." Others might prefer "Waiting for the $#!^a to hit the fan." Me? Eh...I'm an observer. I'm just waiting around for the lawsuits.

Included in the Gannett online sites are photos of people taken around town...usually at night, and usually these people are in direct proximity to alcoholic beverages.

It has been my experience that alcohol, in small quantities, gives one a slight euphoric feeling; pleasant and a tad giddy. Alcohol in moderate quantities gives you a "devil may care" type of attitude. It's not quite cockiness but it's past the part where some innocent inhibitions start rearing their ugly heads. This is usually where ideas of "singing Karaoke" and shouting "I love you, man!" to everyone at the bar become a really good idea.

Then there is alcohol in more than moderate quantities...but before you get to the spinning, vomiting, and passing out part. Therein lies the "I am immortal" stage. Nothing can hurt you - you are immune. You don't care what you do and what others do and what others see you do.

Enter someone with a camera or cell phone.

And enter you...or more importantly, you with someone who just might not be who you've been routinely photographed with at family gatherings. Someone who you just might not want to bring over to meet Mom. And certainly not someone you'd like to introduce to your Mother-in-law.

Get what I'm saying yet?
For those of you out there who like to be forewarned...there's a naked butt in this video. Twice, I think.

The Monty Python "Blackmail" skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDAFrW_vNNQ

"Aha! Right?" Now you see what my little brain thinks when given things to think about...like how expensive a night on the town might actually be for some people.

Again, for those of you out there who like to be forewarned...ANYONE with a Gannett account can post those photos of you at the local hotspot...possibly getting all hot and heavy with someone you just might not want...in the picture...at all.

Suddenly your local community has gotten a whole lot smaller and much more intimate.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Oh...and smile! You'll look good in the online paper...and in that stack of papers your spouse's attorney has in court.

10 October 2010

Champagne Wishes and Caveat Dreams

Did I ever mention I love alcohol?

Seriously...I love this stuff. I'm tiny and as they would say back in Jersey "I'm a cheap date".

While this brings up connotations of things most untoward, I'm not even going there. I'm a little person and my alcohol tolerance, i.e., "buzz level", doesn't take much alcohol for it to kick in.

Let me be perfectly frank here...I'm not an alcoholic, a lush, or a drunkard. I don't need to be interventioned and I don't need the number to AA.

I am a responsible drinker.

That might sound like a lesson in contradiction, but I am.

I never drive after I drink and I've never have fallen face-down in front of my kids and I don't "worship the porcelain god".

I have what people back in the 1960s would refer to as "The Bewitched Syndrome". (Okay, maybe only I would refer to it as that as I'm the one who coined the phrase.)

Do you not have a clue?

Let me help you out.

Did you ever watch the television show, "Bewitched"?

Darrin always had a Martini waiting for him when he got home. Sure, Samantha and Endora might have been bar-hopping on Saturn (they liked to say "Saturn" a lot back then - I was too little to know if it was an in-joke...and I'm too old now to care) with Dr. Bombay, but by the time the "going home whistle" blew at the advertising firm of McMann & Tate - Samantha was back on Earth being the dutiful wife...and Darrin was on his way home to wet his own whistle.

Honestly, I don't think there was an episode which didn't extol the virtues of alcohol. It's a wonder anyone growing up the 60s didn't have a monkey of sorts on their back...and I'm not counting any shows where Endora actually put one ON Darrin's back. Oh, c'mon the plot was always the same: Darrin does something to piss off Endora - Endora, in turn, casts a spell on Darrin, Darrin learns a lesson, Larry and Louise come over and down copious amounts of alcohol...something "witchy" happens and Samantha always weaves her way out of it.

This was way before Christine O'Donnell came on the political scene. Plus Samantha always tried NOT to be a witch...which was always central to the plot line...and everyone knows when Samantha twitched her nose... there was nothing really political going on. Unless, of course, you count the warlock council and that coven of witches...who weren't so much coveting votes as they were just trying to have a little fun messing with mortals.

Enter again - alcohol.

Every single one of them drank like a fish. The only one I never saw drink was their nosy neighbour, Gladys. She was probably too busy taking psychotropic drugs I guess. She always saw things and no one ever believed her. She was the poster child for Xanax if there ever was one, poor lady. And then there was Mrs. Stephens (Darrin's mother), who always had a "sick headache" -- not to be confused with a "regular one", because long before WebMD was invented she was the most neurotic person on television until Howie Mandel came along.

But, I digress.

As W.C Fields (who drank a lot) always said, "All things being equal I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

And, as Jimmy Stewart said to Cary Grant in "The Philadelphia Story" (and did I mention I grew up in Jersey -- and Jersey was very close in proximity to Philadelphia)..."Champagne is a great leveleler... leveleler. It makes you my equal." If you've never seen the movie - do so...it's better than the sum total of Bewitched episodes...and has its share of other champagne moments that anyone inside and outside of Bryn Mawr can relate to.

And, boy oh boy, can I relate to alcohol -- and if I would have been around during Prohibition - I would have shed my inhibitions to imbibe the 'nectar of the gods'. Did I mention I was a "cheap date"?

Oh well.

God knows I need a drink just to follow what I just wrote.

So, Cheers! Which, by the way, was a much, much, much better show than anything on the air today. Plus, ironically, it centered around alcohol.

Did I happen to mention I love alcohol?

09 October 2010

My Wonky Thyroid and Me

(Arrows indicating approximate location of my wonky thyroid.)

Okay, usually I don't write about "me". Sure, I write about things that happen to me...but usually I hope I do it where someone can go "Oh...yeah...that's happened to ME, too!" and they relate and a fairly good time is [hopefully] had by all.

Well, today is different.

Many of you out there know I have a comedy website I haven't updated in an eon plus two. Many of you out there also know that I am in an extended "pre-divorce" situation and as such I am severely depressed as I don't have: 1) Money; 2) A job; 3) Any relative I could call up and get support from; 4) My "Mummo" (what I called my mother) anymore; and 4) No health insurance as soon as I eventually get divorced. Oh...and did I mention health issues?

I usually tend to keep those to myself and my two or three chosen friends who have to endure endless crying episodes of me on the telephone and my venting and droning on and on and on about how pathetic I am and surely I am indeed a waste of skin. I'm not even a waste of "good" skin as my skin looks pretty thin and old by now and I have a sneaky suspicious feeling that I know why:

My wonky thyroid.

I tried to discount it. I tried to reason it all out. I tried to think of other reasons I have that would make my thyroid a secondary accomplice to all the perpetrators I have in my body which feel like they've gone and burglarized, ransacked and kidnapped whoever used to be IN my body. I am left with this horrible shell of who I used to be - and I don't like the "Folger's Coffee replacement" they left in my stead.

In a few words...I don't LIKE who I've become.

I have absolutely no motivation to do anything.

My hair is really thin and it looks pathetic - it's always been thin but it's even more thin and sparse, too.

I'm losing weight at an alarming rate. I'm not a big person and if I were I'm sure I'd be ecstatic about this part, but when you weigh about 120 to start with and are now at about 108 and NOTHING seems to fit...well, it's probably as bad as having a different weight issue.

I get mad at the drop of a hat. I overreact and I throw little temper tantrums...usually directed at my two kids and I hate myself for doing it.

I'm disoriented and forget things a lot. My brain's not working and of all the things I liked about myself (which weren't many), my brain was at the top of the list. Now it doesn't work. My brain doesn't work. I am crying as I type this...do you know what it's like to have your brain NOT WORK?? I don't remember things like I used to...and you take that and couple it with my neurotic tendencies (which I didn't used to have) well, my "brain case scenarios" are dire at best. I automatically think I have brain cancer, encephalitis, meningitis, brain herpes, a cerebral spinal fluid leak, dementia, Alzheimer's, specific cancers such as "tumor on my olfactory nerve", epilepsy, seizures, and just plain everyday stress-related brain issues in general.

Migraines. I've been having one a lot, especially since I got hit upside my head on the 28th of September after leaning to get out of the "blood chair". The swing arm of it wasn't all the way back and came back down and knocked me upside my head really jarring my neck and making me think I was now going to have an aneurysm in my brain. Did I mention I was on blood thinners? My little brain would bleed at the drop of a hat - and certainly at the drop of the stupid swing arm of the "blood chair". (A CT scan at the ER last week was fine. Yes, I went there as I had the most severe headache I'd ever had.)

Anxiety. I have a whole plethora of things I am anxious about. Basically dealing with my health...and being old...and having no health insurance eventually...and having no job...and wait...I told you all those things already. When your heart skips beats or goes willy-nilly-silly for a bit...and you have been diagnosed with a few things wrong with your heart - like atrial fibrillations...well, you get anxious a lot when it happens.

I'm falling asleep for no real reason other than I've been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea recently and because I didn't do my sleep study at the converted house in Wetumpka which reeked of mold and new paint...my study has apparently been put on hold. This in itself makes me even more anxious as apparently you can have all kinds of heart problems and things like strokes when you have Sleep Apnea. I never was able to go to sleep before and have had to take Ambien just to shut my brain off...so falling asleep at 9:00 p.m. vs 9:00 a.m. (like usual) is really scary.

Energy. I have none. I don't even have enough energy to type up why. Trust me...there's no energy in this body. I am the antithesis of the Energizer Bunny. I am more the Lack-of-Energy Sloth.

But the coup de gras is my wonky thyroid. My thyroidologist (yes, I made that word up) wants to obliterate my thyroid ("...like the first Mrs. Bush" he kept saying) by radioactive iodine. The otolaryngologist (no, that word I didn't make up) whom I saw in Birmingham back in February said my thyroid was "okie dokie" (perhaps not using those specific words) and didn't see any need to have it surgically removed. Then I had six fine needle aspiration biopsies there at the Kirklin Clinic and they sent me on my merry way. So, while I was sent on my merry way...I wasn't exactly merry. And I've been getting less and less merry ever since.

I feel like crap. Pure utter crap.

So...the reason behind my blog here other than releasing pent up hormones of frustration (which is probably yet another sign my thyroid is wonky)...has anyone out there been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and dealt with it in some way? I know I can go online and read all the thyroid posts and whatnot - but it would be nicer if someone I remotely knew (even tho I don't know any of you, really) had some first-hand knowledge of it they'd like to share with me. Sharing with me via the phone...even better. Seriously, I'm getting very desperate here...I honestly would like to talk about hyperthyroidism experiences (of which there are many more than I listed here).

I really don't want to suck down some radioactive iodine...but it's looking better and better every single damn day. Especially if I can follow it with a Martini chaser.

Oh, for the days Reader's Digest would publish their "I am Joe's Spleen"...as I would rather read that (only you know..."I am Joe's Thyroid") than the wide range of scary things that come up when I type "hyperthyroidism" into that "outlined in black box" thingy known generically as the Google Search Engine.

Anyone? Please...please...please...

08 October 2010

Shakespeare, Dickens and Me?

I hit a milestone of sorts the other day: I posted my 250th blog.

Now, that might not seem that monumental in the grander schemes of accomplishments mankind has made, but my blogs aren't all about my cat, or what I made for dinner last night, and none of them ever just had the "I feel :( today" comment.

Oh, trust me on that last one, there are people out there who do only that as a blog. What's worse -- there are people out there who "FOLLOW" those people's blogs.

Since I've written about so many different things...I wonder if there's a point where I have done -- or at least touched on, everything that's out there.

This recurring thought of mine has crept into my mind many times. And it's got to have come into the minds of people who are songwriters or writers of books.

Stay with me here on this one...

Beethoven had it easy.

So did Shakespeare.

The writers for "I Love Lucy"? Sheesh...all those episodes were a walk in the park compared to what today's writers have to deal with.

Back in the "olden days" - there were like, what? Five people writing songs? ANY tune you came up with was new. NOTHING sounded like anything else because 30 songs, tops, were written. How easy did those music "geniuses" have it? ANYTHING they wrote was new and innovative.

Seriously, is there any tune left that doesn't sound remotely like something else someone came out with? You might not even know the sound sounds the same - and you might not have even heard of it...totally innocent and all...but it sounds like some obscure polka ska band from Lichtenstein - and all of a sudden someone points it out via YouTube. You are now "BUSTED". Katy Perry move over.

And writers back then. Sure, there were people writing back then - but there were only like seven famous ones. Coming up with any book idea must have been - well, a writer's dream. I know for a fact, if I would have been an author in 1884, I would have been on several dreaded Victorian "summer reading lists" in schools.

"Please, sir, can I read some more?"

While I can bask in the heady thought that I probably would have been famous back then...I'd also certainly be dead by now...so it's pretty much a moot point and does me absolutely no good pondering the prodigiousness of my proposed pious past.


So while people like Stephen King gobble up the last remaining 17 ideas which haven't been done yet...and you are on page 221 of some 93rd remake of some re-vamped vampire book from some 24-year-old author who undoubtedly has a relative working at HarperCollins, remember that I'm continually slaving away trying to think of original blogs to entertain you people.

And all for free...dammit.


(Okay, I hit my 250th blog about 16 blogs ago...I'm just late getting around to writing this. I also never claimed I was good at alliteration.)