Archive for October, 2012

“Everybody thinks they have good taste, and a sense of humor,
but they couldn’t possibly all have . . . “

In order to garner more traffic to my ramblings here, my faithful editor and BFF; Gow has done her best to drill into my thick skull to read other people’s blogs and to comment on them. I have finally started to listen to the Gow and to browse other people’s writing and leave oh-so-clever commentary. The Gow was right. It has increased traffic to my blog. I have also gotten to meet some amazing and insightful writers out there too. I make a concerted effort not to leave oh-so-clever snarky commentary. I leave sincere compliments. I think hard as to what to “say” to these humorists, satirists, and story tellers. There are some very talented, gifted and flat out amazing writers/bloggers out there; people who blow my bittersweet observations about poor cell phone etiquette and irritable bowel syndrome out of the water. I read some of these pieces awestruck, with my mouth hanging agape like a simpleton who took 8 years to learn to tie his shoe laces or to wave bye-bye. They make me realize how far I have to go as a writer.

There are also some writers out there who simply suck.

Far be it for me to discourage people who like, love, need to, or want to write. I have never and would never write any negative commentary to a fellow blogger. To date I haven’t gotten any negative commentary, which I would hope to attribute to having some small level of skill. I also have the benefit of a best friend and editor who shares my sense of humor, is a fan of my work, who I respect to tell me the truth and reel me in. As a result my crappier work doesn’t survive to see the light of computer monitors. I don’t delude myself into thinking the world is a polite place. I just spent the past 6 weeks in a cast and have had the pleasure of observing my fellow man (and woman) blithely stand by whilst I struggle to open doors, or crutch quickly to elevators that close in my face as their passengers stare blankly ahead pretending not to see the man on crutches. I imagine them all breaking out into loud and raucous laughter, high fiving each other and imitating my crutch skills after the elevator door closes and proceeds up. “Did you see that? He almost made it! HAHA!”

The worst commentary I have received has been from people being entirely too literal with my ‘over the top’ comedy. People may find me funny, people may not. People may think I am childish, stupid, crude or any number of things. But, people taking things too literally is the arch nemesis of comedic observations. “Why are the priest, the rabbi and Paris Hilton in a life raft?”

Why must I share a planet with these people?

Years ago, a struggling actor walked into a reading for a TV pilot (This is a story, not a joke) The TV show’s premise was about a local pub in Boston and the trials and tribulations of the staff and it’s regulars. The actor read for the part, was thanked and “we’ll let you know’d”. The actor wasn’t pleased with his reading and knew he wouldn’t get the part. Thinking quickly he turned to the pilot’s producers, casting crew and directors and asked “Have you given any thought to a bar know- it- all?” The show became Cheers, one of the most popular television shows of all time, and the actor became Cliff Clavin the annoying, yet loveable bar know-it-all. Watching the character of Cliff Clavin is funny and something we can relate to. Being up close and personal with an actual know-it-all is maddening. Some people aren’t proficient at creating funny, even though they possess a terrific sense of humor. Other people simply don’t have a sense of humor or an instinct for humor. It is important for these people to recognize this and not comment upon comedy until they have sought help.

“It’s a little known fact, there Carla, that some people don’t HAVE a sense of humor.”

My ex-boss Wayne had no sense of humor to speak of, although he had an inkling of the instinct. He never found anything funny, but like a comedic sociopath he understood certain reactions were expected of him in various social settings. It was fascinating to watch Wayne pretend to enjoy a joke or funny story. He’d pry off the miserable scowl that was pasted on his face, actually making a sound similar to that of the Tin Man before Dorothy and the Scarecrow gave him a lube job “….oiiiil cnnnn…oil can”. Then he would create what he imagined to be a smile, lift his head back slowly and say “ Haaaaaa … OK …” He needed practice.

A few years back I had a young woman reading my work religiously, which normally thrills me to bits. This woman was a fan, I suppose, but she seemed to miss the over-the-top style of my writing entirely and would comment on every piece and dispel every exaggeration. For example; if I was writing a piece about the long waits in a doctor’s office, the inordinate amount of screaming babies present and magazines so old they were written on papyrus. Her response was “I work in a doctor’s office and there is no way that you waited “three weeks” in the office to see the doctor. Most offices close at 6 or 7 pm. Also sometimes parents have to bring their children to the office because they can’t find a sitter…” After about 2 weeks of literal corrections and observations I finally wrote a piece about humorless people who have no business reading, much less commenting on comedy blogs. Maybe said people would be happier reading instruction manuals.

She got the hint.

Just as we can’t all be professional athletes, gifted musicians, successful businessmen…we can’t all be funny, and we can’t all have a good sense of humor. The key is to recognize these things.

A Sad State of Affairs

Posted: October 29, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in Uncategorized

On Saturday Oct 27th I went to a Halloween-Costume party at the pub where I work on Broadway here in Astoria. In September I tore my Achilles tendon while going up some stairs at work and as a result I have been in a cast ever since. Some friends of friends gave me a ride to the pub. Being on injured reserve my costume options were rather limited, so I donned a cowboy hat, leather vest and tied a bandana around my neck and went as a cowboy of sorts.

The costume party was fun. I had a couple beers and a diet coke caught up with the regulars, co-workers and friends. It was a nice, low key event and I left early. (around 11pm when things started to get crowded.) I’m not a big drinker and my friends often tease me about being among the first to leave a party. I decided to crutch it down to the Dunkin’ Donuts on 34th St. and Broadway for a cup of coffee before grabbing a cab home. I made it to DD’s, ordered my coffee, paid, thanked the people behind the counter and went out front to drink my coffee and have a cigarette before going home.

A car pulled up to the red light and its occupants (several young men in their 20’s who looked like they were out clubbing for the night with a girl or two. They were of Arabic or Middle-Eastern descent but had American accents) started yelling “faggot” at me. I didn’t even notice at first, so they said it louder and louder until they had my attention. Words were exchanged and they piled out of the car to fight with me…6-8 guys…to fight with the guy on crutches who had been minding his own business… dressed in a subtle Halloween-cowboy costume.

Needless to say the fight was rather one sided. I did what I could, but sadly that wasn’t much. There were lots of people around and as the fight was going on I heard others yelling at them about what cowards they were and shouting their overall disbelief at the situation. Frankly, I couldn’t believe it either. I was in my twenty’s once and did my share of dumb 20 something boy things, but harassing and attacking a solitary person on crutches with 5-7 of my friends? Never… not even close to something I would have considered at my most irresponsible and stupid.

After the fight was over they walked back to their car repeating insults to me and acting as if I had started this. In all the excitement I brought my crutch down on these coward’s car. They hopped back out and one went to the trunk claiming to have a gun and that he was going to shoot me. I doubt he actually had a gun and had probably watched too many Sopranos episodes, but it was a little scary nonetheless. Cars behind them began to honk their horns and they took off after hurling a few more insults at me. There was a young girl with them who was pleading with them to get back in the car. I’m sorry these are the types of people she has chosen to spend her time with. Hopefully she reconsiders her choice of friends.

I wrote down their license plate. I’m generally not the kind of person who involves the police, but a group of people like this who would stomp on a person with crutches, potentially with a gun? Still driving around? So I took their license plate number down and went back into the Dunkin’ Donuts to ask them to call the police. Being out of work the past 7 weeks I have turned my cell phone off to save money and hadn’t brought it with me.

“Can you please call the police?” I asked the man behind the counter.

He looked at me strangely.

“Can you please call the police?” I asked again.

He kept looking at me.

“CAN YOU PLEASE CALL THE POLICE FOR ME?” I asked.

Loud and angry now. The staff of the Dunkin’ Donuts had to have seen what happened. It was literally 5 feet from their all glass exterior. He finally answered me.

“Can’t you call them?”

stopped for a moment, dumbfounded.

“No.” I said. “I don’t have a phone. I was just attacked out in front, can you call the police?”

“You can’t call them?” He asked again.

I was in total disbelief, and I looked to the young woman behind the counter.

“Can you please call the police?”

She looked at me and muttered something.

“Can one of you call the police?”

I was getting very angry now. “Police” and variations of the word are relatively universal. I was in absolute disbelief.

“Do you not understand me?” I asked. “Are you really this dense?”

I realized they spoke a selective English. They couldn’t (or more accurately didn’t want to understand “call the police”, but I’d be willing to bet they’d understand “we’re having some financial difficulties so we’re going to have to cut your hours and pay” fluently.

“Can’t you call them?” asked the man behind the counter again.

I went back outside in disgust.

I asked the crowd that was in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts if one of them could call the police for me. They informed me that the cops had already been called. Immediately after the fight a police van had driven down 34th steet with their flashing light on. It was assumed by the crowd that these were the police responding to the call. After a couple minutes an old man with a very raspy voice came over and offered me his cell phone. I was under the impression he might have had cancer of the larynx and couldn’t speak well. I called 911 but before I could get through a police van pulled up. The crowd in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts started to tell the officers what happened and the police asked me to cross the street to go over what had happened with them alone.

I explained the situation. They did ask if I was injured and if I needed an ambulance, which was their solo moment of professionalism. They ran the license plate I had given them and it came back as the wrong kind of vehicle.

“I don’t want to be the kind of cop who blows smoke up your ass, but there’s really nothing we can do except take a report.” said one officer.

“This isn’t even assault…it’s harassment.” He continued.

When I started to tell them the story from the beginning with the car full of guys calling me a “faggot” one of the cops smirked and said “Well, are you?”

“No.” I answered.

I wasn’t angry with the insinuation, although it struck me as: A: None of their business, B: Totally beside the point and C: Not the issue at hand, not by a mile. A man on crutches minding his own business gets verbally abused and then physically attacked by a big car load of cowards who are also claiming to have a gun is appalling under any circumstances. Gay, straight, black, white, …what did that matter?

“Well,” answered the cop with another smirk “If you were, then it would be a hate crime.”

“So whether they think I’m gay and attack me, it’s not officially a hate crime unless I am gay?

The cop shrugged. I guess I was boring them.

“Essentially you’re going to do nothing here?” I asked. “Or essentially nothing can be done?”

“We can take a report, but in all honesty, nothing is going to happen” I was told by one of the officers.

“So” I began slowly trying to understand this. “6 or 7 guys jump out of a car and start to beat a guy on crutches. One of these guys goes to the trunk and takes something out and says he is going to shoot me and this is “harassment?”

“Did you see the gun”?

“No” I said. “But what if a guy had reached into his trunk or coat claiming he was going to shoot you or any other cop?” I continued “I’m guessing it might be taken a little more seriously?”

“I’m not going to go through all the ‘what if’s’ with you” replied the cop.

I was boring him.

“How did you get the cast?” asked his partner.

“I was walking up some stairs at work and my Achilles tendon tore.”

“You’re in that bad of shape?” He replied.

I guess insulting the victim here was police procedure. Interestingly I spend more time on my feet at work on any given day than any 3 of New York’s “Finest”.

I left Barney Fife and his partner and grabbed a cab home. I called my best friend and went over the evening with her. She was floored as well by the behavior of the car load of guys, the employees of Dunkin’ Donuts and especially the NYPD. I told her I was going to call the 114th precinct here in Astoria and see if any bystanders might have seen the whole thing and got a license plate number. I also was not thrilled with the conduct of the police. The officer who answered the phone was patient and kind. I explained the whole encounter to him. When I told him about the officer saying ” Well, are you?” In regards to being called a “faggot” he said “They did NOT say that.” in what sounded like sincere disbelief. I confirmed that they had indeed, said this. It seems to me that:

“Well are you? (a faggot )”,

“I’m not going to go over all the ‘what ifs’ with you.” and my favorite

“Are you in that bad of shape?”

were all F statements and responses. What might have been a B+ would have been.

“Do you need a ride home?”

“We’re going to be out here all night and we will definitely keep our eyes open for these creeps car.” or

“I’m really sorry this happened to you”

The officer on the phone informed me that no one had reported anything. He added regretfully “There really isn’t much that can be done.” I mentioned that 2 months ago I was pulled over by TWO police cars with sirens and lights flashing for slowly riding my bicycle on the sidewalk and given a ticket. I understand that riding my bike on the sidewalk regardless if I am speedily buzzing pedestrians, or riding slowly, courteously and aware as I was is illegal. The reason I was riding on the sidewalk to begin with is because of the behavior of drivers on 21st St here in Astoria, where they seem to think the first 10 seconds of a red light are optional. The police generally don’t pay attention to this…They are busy watching bicyclists. It just seems to me that the police often have their priorities a little out of whack. The officer on the phone agreed that it is frustrating for the police to also go on ticket quotas, when there are real crimes taking place.

I may go to the precinct tomorrow and fill out a report. I’m not expecting anything, but it might be nice if the two officers who responded to the call were “spoken to” about how to speak to or treat the victim of a crime. I am also going to try to speak to the owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts on 34th and Broadway about his staff.

I have lived in NYC for 20 years. I understand the police have a difficult, frustrating and often thankless job. However, I feel their apathy is a part of the problem. I know that, especially on weekend nights in areas where there are lots of bars and lounges, there are going to be fights; sometimes innocent people get harassed or assaulted by drunks, cowards and creeps. It just seems to me that so many guys getting out of a car to beat on a person on crutches and then threatening to shoot him transcends the typical drunken scuffle in a big way. Are these the kind of criminals we want and pay our police to treat in a blasé manner? I’m sure the minimum wage night shift at Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t a joy. Maybe English isn’t their first language. However, I can understand “Call the police.” in several different languages, many I haven’t even studied before, given the context of the situation. I hope there isn’t a serious car accident, heart attack or injury occurring near these people.The victims would be in very serious trouble.

This is really, and on so many levels, a sad state of affairs.

Click to watch Simon’s Cat

OK. It’s official. I am now one of those sad people boring others with tales of their cat(s) I don’t care. I think other sad people just may be able to relate. I have two cats; Cheech and Chong. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. They are my roommate Nikki’s cats. Come to think of it, that’s not accurate either. Let me start over. There are two cats living at the same address as my roommate and I. Their names are Cheech and Chong, and Nikki and I are their humans.

The roommate dynamic isn’t always simple, but I do my best to accommodate Nikki, by stealing her chocolate, promising to replace it and then…erm not. I also make a point of leaving the toilet seat up, so she can see if it needs to be cleaned or not. What can I say? I’m a giver.

I also act as butler, masseuse, head chef, dishwasher, maid, and hairstylist among other things for the brains of the operation; Ms. Cheech and Mr. Chong.

I find their selective command of the English language fascinating. For example, they understand some things fluently, such as:

“Are you hungry?”

“Want to eat?”

or

“Want some yums?”

Yet they give me a look of utter befuddled confusion or patronizing annoyance with other statements such as.

“No!”

“Be quiet, Cheech!”

“Shut up, Cheech!”

“In the name of everything holy, please, please, PLEASE, for God’s sake, SHUT THE FUCK UP CHEECH!”

“Chong, your build and density resembles that of a fluffy mini-cooper. Would it be possible for you to sleep next to me and not on top of me?”

“I already fed you. Yes I did. Yes I DID!”

“Yes Chong, you have a lovely puckered starfish, but I prefer to view it from a distance as opposed to up close and personal. Thanks, Buddy.”

And finally:

“Get down Cheech.”

She does not understand or acknowledge this unless and until I use the more formal form of the request, namely:

“Get down, Get down, Get DOWN, getdowngetdowngetdown GET DOOOOWN!!!!”

My agnostic soul finds itself wishing that after I die I am reincarnated as a house cat. It was fun selectively ignoring my moms as a teenager, and it would be fun to lead a life this way.

Circa 1984

I watch an inordinate amount of television. As I am currently on injured reserve, I am watching even more than ever. Recently as sort of a television solitaire game, I have tried to pay closer attention to commercials as I find them to be fascinating in a psychological and sociological sense. For example, today I noticed that Walmart is using AC/DC’s hit “Back in Black” for their new layaway program. I felt violated. I don’t blame AC/DC as they may not even own the rights to the song anymore. I blame Walmart. They have no business using cool classic rock in their commercials. Lame companies must stick to lame music, otherwise it’s false advertising. Walmart shall be limited to using music by Celine Dion, Paul McCartney’s solo work, Phil Collins and any other artist that universally sucks.

Later, I saw a commercial for a credit card featuring a man on a date. His date looks at him (I’m guessing after he paid for dinner) and says bluntly. “Jim, you’re boring.” She then continues to say “Boring” over and over. Now, I have been on some nightmare dates before. I once had a date with a woman I met online who neglected to tell me she had a metal hook type thing in lieu of a left hand. In fairness I suppose that’s a tough factoid to bring to the surface during initial small talk. “I’m a Libra, I like cooking, walks on the beach, travel, missing a hand, love the band KISS…”

I also once had a date where I decided to cook. I spent the day straightening up my apartment, shopping, cooking and picking out just the right wine to accompany the meal. I’m a pretty fair cook and a gracious and kind host. We had a lovely dinner. When she was done eating, she praised my cooking skills, thanked me for a pleasant evening, put on her coat and informed me she was late for another date…with a woman. I tried to think if I should ask her out again as I washed the dishes.

So, I’ve had some horrifying dates. However, I have never had a woman look at me during or after dinner and say “Scott, you’re boring.” I’m not boring. I’m an ass sometimes, silly, irritating, but decidedly not boring. I think if I were Jim from the commercial. I’d have calmly refilled my glass of Cabernet and thrown it at her. Then I’d stand up and say “That exciting enough for ya, toots?” And if the meal wasn’t paid for yet, I’d instruct the waiter to bring her the check after wrapping up some Crème Brule for me to go.

The premise of the commercial is that “Jim” reinvents himself as infinitely less boring because of his Chase Visa card. I suppose to some people a high credit limit does make a person more interesting.

I’m not a fan of the status quo. I hate insurance, banks and credit card companies. It’s all I can do to keep from puking when I see insurance companies advertising how helpful they are and how much they care. It is depressing to think what insurance companies pay investigators, politicians and lawyers in order to avoid paying their customers what they are generally entitled to. I am a fan of honest advertising, which may be the biggest oxymoron since “compassionate conservatism”.

At a young age, I began my road to constant cynicism when I looked up at the photographic displays of McDonald’s food and then at what I had been served. Only the fries had the slightest glint of honesty. And while we are at it, where were the dancing, singing cheerful teenagers doing cartwheels to fetch my Apple (caution filling is hot) pie? I was disappointed to say the least.

The coup de grace of recent commercial bovine scatology comes from my cable and phone company; RCN which I usually follow with something clever like “Really Crappy Network” but for today’s piece I have re dubbed them” Ridiculous Commercial Nonsense”. The commercial features a nice young woman who was waiting for a service tech to come out and jump start her cable. I’m guessing that her appointment time was “between noon and whenever the fuck we decide to show up”. As it turns out, the problem was not with the woman’s cable, but with her TV…and wouldn’t you know, Mr. Helpful RCN Tech stayed at the nice lady’s house while she went out and bought a new television set and then hooked it up for her…Um Yeah.

I have since been tempted to call RCN and ask if they can send the nice smiling technician with the spotless, pressed uniform and white capped teeth (That must be some dental plan RCN.. No wonder he’s so cheerful and helpful) from the commercial to adjust my cable. After viewing their commercial, I projectile vomited on my cable box and as a result I have experienced difficulty getting the Home Shopping Network. Then, for a goof, when the tech they do send shows up, the one with the beard, missing teeth and FTW knuckle tattoo, I’ll just ask him if he minds sticking around while I go to the electronics store to see what’s on sale.

I know that commercials are generally 30 seconds, so I am guessing that’s why RCN didn’t include footage of Mr. Technician looking through the nice lady’s underwear drawer while she was TV shopping.

Saw

Posted: October 24, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The cast of “Saw”

Today while browsing through YouTube I decided to look up “Cast Removal”. Years ago, when I was a young tot of 5 or 6, I had a couple of surgeries on my feet. (I was born with my footsies turning in.) Believe it or not, back then I was not the athletic juggernaut that many of you have come to know and love. I started to grow out of my casts and they were becoming more uncomfortable. So, the good doctor said “No problem, we’ll just give this big boy a new set of casts.” I was thrilled with this news until he came back with, pardon the F-bomb, a fucking SAW! I was a dumb kid, but I did remember my grandfather’s stern warning about not messing about with saws. My grandfather was one of those old timers with a gruesome story for every occasion…fishing lures that caught the unaware by the ear lobe when flung by overzealous casters, which would result in being hauled into the Cape Cod Canal…and of course, little boys who didn’t listen to their grandpa’s and lost fingers while playing with the saw he had been told to stay away from.

Anyhoo, I was terrified and immediately starting pleading with the doctor that my feet didn’t hurt, that my feet were just fine and dandy and why didn’t we just leave the casts on until they fell off…I didn’t want to trouble the man with having to break out power tools, and by the way, wasn’t there an energy crisis? I begged and begged and started to cry. I cried through the entire cast removal, even though it tickled and didn’t hurt at all. Looking back on it I’m a little upset that the doctor didn’t do anything to alleviate my fears. Doctors are kind of assholes to small children when you think about it. They say ‘This wont hurt a bit.” prior to a shot, when we all know very well that shots not only hurt, but they also feel icky. One of my grandmother’s favorite tales of my youth is me asking to keep my casts after they were taken off so that I could “belt the doctor across the head with them.” Kids say the darndest things…

I am looking forward to having my current cast removed. I’m not quite the scaredy cat that I was at age 5…close, but not quite. I am still going to insist upon a pre-cast-removal pep talk, reassurances and a lollipop for being a big brave boy. I didn’t get one 37 years ago, and I feel I am owed one.

I watched the first YouTube clip which featured a young boy with a cast on his arm. The doctor in the clip was a big black man who was leaps and bounds cooler than Dr. De Sade and his magic saw. The doctor in the clip was nice and funny, and the little boy was leaps and bounds braver than I had been. I bet he got a pre-saw pep talk. To cement Dr. Cool’s awesome approach to medicine. . .”Smell it” he said to the boy, “It’s not that bad”. Interestingly this is what I say to The Gow after we’ve had a big Mexican meal. She’s a good sport about it.

After the cast removal clip I clicked on another home movie featuring a little boy who had just broken his arm. He was crying and freaking out as people have been known to do after breaking a limb. What blew my mind was that his parents saw this as an opportunity for a little internet fame. They went and got a mini cam, and prior to taking the tyke to the ER, they began interviewing him . “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I thought watching the parents of the year. “Does it hurt?” they asked. The boy answered tearfully in the affirmative. He was much more calm than I would have been given the circumstances. If my dad had been filming me after suffering a bad break and my mother asked such an unbelievably stupid question. I hope I would have answered, “What the Hell do you think, Barbara Walters?”

I couldn’t watch the rest of the clip. It made me want to hunt down Mike and Carol, break their arms, and hand their son a mini cam and a microphone to interview them.

“So, mom and dad, before we go to the hospital, could you describe what it feels like to break a bone?” “Could you please look at the camera?” “Let’s take it from the top.”

Schadenfreude

Posted: October 20, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine, Observations
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Click for a musical explanation.

scha·den·freu·de (shäd n-froi d)
n.
Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

What a great word! I love pretentious words and anything that requires hitting my italicize feature thrills me to no end. It took me about 5 years to figure out how to “cut and paste”, and even longer to figure out how to italicize. Prior to figuring out the italicize feature on word and in emails I used to just TYPE IN CAPITALS for emphasis, which can inadvertently be off putting to people. It’s “cyber shouting” if you will.

Schadenfreud is also German. Leave it to those wacky Teutonic folks to come up with this one.

Once, while visiting Berlin I asked my German friend Silvia why the Germans have no sense of humor.

“Norma?”, (her nick name or spitzname was explained in a previous post), “Why don’t the German’s have a sense of humor?”

“Ve do.” she deadpanned.

“Are you sure?” I asked. I wasn’t so certain, but I was a guest in her home and country and didn’t want to appear rude.

“Yes, now be qviet, I am vatching dis moofee!” she said, and hit me.

I dropped the subject.

In addition to the word schadenfreude, I like the definition, the theory and the practice.

Why is the misfortune of others often so damned entertaining? Well, for one thing it’s not happening to us at the moment. Life sucks and sucks with sickening regularity, so perhaps it is a small comfort to observe that we aren’t the only one the cosmic pigeons have selected as their dropping target, Secondly, because angry, put upon and frustrated people are frankly hilarious. I’m uncertain of the existence of God, although this doesn’t stop me from e-mailing him on a regular basis. (God1@God.com in case you were wondering) On one hand I have difficulty believing in a higher power who could allow such things as famine, natural disasters and the Kardasians. On the other hand, it is hard to doubt the existence of God with the series of mishaps, whoopsies or physical and emotional ailments that occur hourly in the Blake Edward’s film that is my life.

Running late and subway doors slamming in my face, a four hour charm offensive at work that results in a 2% tip from a party of 6, and the elderly sucking my life force at Laundromats, grocery stores and medical offices. I remain totally convinced that after a hard day at the office, God cracks open a cold one, tells the angels to keep it down and tunes into his favorite program “The Scotty Chronicles”. Apparently I’m just hilarious plodding along in life, muttering to myself, explaining to double digit IQs the mathematical intricacies of the 12 items or less express line, or speeding four blocks out of my way on my bicycle to explain to recent driving school graduates that the first 10 seconds of a red traffic light are not optional. I stomp through life with a facial expression that is the unhappy marriage of Rodney Dangerfield and Donald Trump telling someone “Yuh Fie-yid”. I mutter to myself regularly, and a couple years ago I actually shook my fist at some children. I have no doubt that if I had a front yard I’d be yelling at neighborhood children about keeping off of it and confiscating any baseballs, tennis balls or hackey sacks that landed in my vicinity.

Maybe I should pick up a copy.
Nahhh. Where’s the fun in that?

Why then, shouldn’t I delight in the misery of others that I happen to observe? It’s a little gift from God Almighty/ Heavy G to my way of thinking. Schadenfreude is similar to laughing in class or in church. We shouldn’t giggle, be we can’t help it, and the repression of giggles just makes us want to break up more. As a student my friends knew they could get me to laugh with a certain look or drawings of various students or teachers. Then they would delight in my getting busted by the more comedicly challenged teachers. “Is there something funny Mr. Swen-son? Care to share your joke with the rest of the class?” No, I didn’t want to share the hilarity of the drawing that Jeff Marney had just passed me depicting Mr. Whitman tied to a tree and being set on fire by the chess club, or being sat on by the pear shaped 300 pound history teacher Mr. Spencer. I’d plead the fifth, take the detention and kick Jeff’s ass later at my leisure.

Lately I have been fascinated with the bend-but-don’t-break comedy theory. Things we aren’t supposed to be laughing at, but can’t help it…boundary pushing. I have often maintained that comedy and humor comes from the uglier and darker areas in life, but it is one of the best things in this cold, hard world. It makes life worth living…comedy, love and…oh I don’t know… cookies? So schadenfruede becomes a slippery slope. Too far in one direction and you are a humorless drone. Too far in the other direction and you’re a cruel bastard. The happy medium is to strive to be a cruel drone or humorless bastard…OK terrible analogy.

So what misery and misfortune at the expense of others is acceptable? A bird dropping a deuce on someone else’s head? Yeah, that’s a classic. 100 points of funny. Fat people falling down or splitting their pants? Maybe… Cars splashing puddles on pedestrians? Hmmm depends on the driver and the victim. As a teen, my friend Tiny used to delight in holding Quarter Pounder’s with cheese out his car window and slowing down when he saw over weight joggers waddling along in sweat soaked athletic gear to see if he could get them to run faster. Sometimes he would shout something to the effect that the jogging was not offsetting the jelly doughnut inhalation…or that “KFC is only 6 blocks away…you’ll make, it Richard Simmons”. They usually did run faster, which was funny, but it wasn’t to get hold of the burger…it was to get hold of Tiny and wring his neck for being a wiseassed punk. That would have made me laugh too. It is safe to say that the things I would giggle uncontrollably at in observing are the same things that would infuriate me when I am the victim. I am not a thick skinned man. I’m more than a little ashamed to admit that I can generally dish it out, but can’t take it. I like teasing. I hate being teased. Perhaps my one saving grace is that I am self-deprecating.

I think given God’s obviously sick sense of humor, that schadenfreude in appropriate doses is a healthy thing. Nietzsche said God was dead, I’m not so sure how he knew (maybe he was there?) Nietzsche was German too wasn’t he? Maybe God is German…it would certainly explain his sense of humor. Who are we to second guess Heavy G when it comes to humor? He gave us incontinence, Indian accents, irritable bowel syndrome, midgets, trailer parks, George W Bush and Walmart customers. So bust a gut… just not within eye or ear shot of the victim(s)

People of Walmart

Nicknames

Posted: October 11, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“From now on, I’m gonna call you “Skippy”.
“But, I don’t know how to skip.”

This morning (OK…OK… it was afternoon) I woke up to an e-mail from my best bud and faithful editor Gow. I mention Gow, or the Gow in many of my pieces. It is her small reward for being an unpaid editor, having to correct my atrocious spelling, grammar, punctuation and to gently telling me “This isn’t funny…yet”. It’s not easy to be critical of me. I sulk, I lash out, I bite my own arm and more often than not, all three. The Gow encourages me, tells me I don’t suck, gets me to stop biting my arm. (Somehow she can tell, even over the phone or via instant messenger. I suppose my typing speed slows dramatically with my teeth sunk deep into a forearm.) Gow pulls funny from me like an oral surgeon bobbing for wisdom teeth.

The e-mail she sent was in response to my whining that no one had commented on my last two blog entries. When I write anything I begin to have grandiose delusions about the scores of comments I’m sure to receive praising my wit. Usually I am quieted with a solitary positive comment. I also go trolling for commentary too. I respect my friend Ruprecht and routinely fish for compliments from him. He is living in a real writer’s freelance purgatory and doesn’t always have time to stroke my ego. Someone had left a comment and Gow wanted to tell me to brighten my day. She included a link and lo and behold there was a comment from Norma Desmond about my latest piece. It took me a moment to realize who “Norma Desmond” was, despite my having dubbed my friend with the moniker. It was my friend Silvia from Germany, who was now living in Spain with her husband Prince M. the nickname was born when I went to Berlin to visit Silvia and had brought along one of my favorite films; ”Sunset Blvd” to watch with her. One of the main characters in the film was an ex-silent movie actress who lived in an old mansion under the delusion that she was still a young star with thousands of adoring fans. The character, Norma Desmond, is played by real ex-silent movie queen and former mistress to Joseph Kennedy; Gloria Swanson. I immediately started calling Silvia “Norma” as she was haughty, high maintenance, beautiful in a vampish sort of way and a little crazy, much like Ms. Swanson’s classic role. Silvia took it in stride.

I was touched that she actually signed her comment with the nickname I had given her. I shall have to ask her what the word for “nickname” is in German.

“Ruprecht” is also a nickname, of course. And, it also comes from a film. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”. Ruprecht is the mildly retarded, and socially disastrous fictitious brother of an international gigolo used to persuade wealthy, snotty women to disappear after having given the gigolo money with the promise of marriage. “Where Ruprecht goes, I go.” he’d explain. It was always the snotty upper crust women would end up going. I honestly don’t recall where and when I originally started calling my friend Ruprecht. We have one of those old, fraternal sorts of friendships that seem to inspire a fair amount of tongue in cheek abuse. He, in turn has called me “Bubba” affectionately, which I suspect is a sub-conscious dig at the Ugly American. Fair enough.

I am kind of a big nicknamer. I also have nicknames of my own. Here are a few of note in addition to the previously mentioned.

My friend Tiffany – “Poopie Pants” or “Tippany”

(She was called the latter by one of her young students who couldn’t pronounce her name. the former is just one of the many childish expressions I have become fond of, which most women have no patience for. Another favorite among these is Bossy Boots. Although Tippany is a quiet and demure young lady, and hardly a Bossy Boots.)

My friend Arkiem – “Keemy” or “Light and Keemy” when he is dieting

My ex-girlfriend Beverly – “Pokey”

(I used to poke her in the side just to watch her jump. She hated it.)

My Boss Dave – “The Leprechaun”

(He is rather short and Irish.)

My roommate Niki – “Slut”

(She has an active social life and wears tight pants.)

My co-worker Priscilla – “Blondie”

(She has dark hair, yet acts blond.)

My friend Jamaican John and my step-brother John – Both dubbed “Zah”

(“Zah” is an evolution from “John”…to “Little John”, to “Lil John” and eventually to “Lil Zah”.)

My late mother – ”Crazy Lady”

My friend Brendan – “Beef” or “BJ”

(He gets really angry when I call him BJ.)

My former Employer – “Leona Helmsley”

(A fussy ingrate, control freak, little queen.)

My former employer’s partner – “Darth Vader”

(For his evil side.) “Cuddles” (Because he was so morose and miserable.) or “Brainiac” (Becasue he was cerebrally challenged.) and finally “Diamond Jim” (Because although he was quite well off financially, he was unbelievably cheap and miserly.)

My friend Karen – “Special K”

(Originally my step brother called my father ( Kenny ) “Special K” because of his beer belly. He is quite svelte now.)

My friend Pamela – “Pamela J”

(“J” is the first letter of her middle name and she delighted in not telling me what it stood for. “Jezebel” she’d tease.)

When I was 16, my friend “Hippy Jane” started calling me “Swampthing” after we watched a movie trailer. There are perhaps 3 or 4 people in the world who still call me this, and although I never cared for the nickname, it does, in this case remind me of old friends. Jane’s friend who wasn’t crazy about me started calling me “Fubsy” which is a real word meaning short and pudgy. I have always been sensitive about my weight and build, and I’ve noticed many tall women generally like to crack on men of average height. “Hey toots, I’m not short, you’re a WNBA reject.” After the third or fourth time she called me “Fubsy” I countered with “I wouldn’t talk about other people’s weight if I were you.” she practically cried and stormed off. Everyone got mad at me. Hey, she started it.

If anyone would like a nickname, please contact me, divulge ugly and embarrassing personal data, and I will see what I can come up with.

See? Creepy and strange doesn’t equal funny, people!

Sometimes when I am feeling bitter (which in my most conservative estimate is 80-85% of the time on any given day) I look up things like “Least Funny Comedian” or “Worst Comedy of All Time”. As a decidedly unsuccessful comedy writer it makes me feel better in an odd way. Plus, being a pop culture junkie, I am always thrilled to chime in with my 2 cents of commentary. Today while browsing through the ranks of the painfully un-funny, hoping to read some clever reviews about the abysmal NBC show Wings, which despite being sandwiched between the most successful shows on the network was completely unwatchable, I came across an English TV show in that aired in 1990 called “Heil Honey, I’m Home”.

The premise? Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living in the suburbs, next door to a Jewish couple. Hilarity ensues.

I’m going to repeat that because I feel it requires repeating. A television program…in 1990…called “Heil Honey, I’m Home“… The premise of this sitcom is Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living in the suburbs next door to a Jewish couple.

Someone thought this was a good idea for a comedy and they wrote it down…then someone else thought it was a good enough idea to make into a television show. I’m a little more willing to give the directors, actors, actresses, camera people etc. a pass, as work in the industry can be very sporadic at best. Impending bills and empty stomachs will often trump unbelievably bad taste.

Now, I love bad taste. I think getting away with bad taste in film, literature, art or any other medium; takes a very specific talent. Director John Waters is the master of this. Waters got Divine; a 300 lb drag queen to eat a dog grumpy in a film, and (some) people called it art. I think bad taste is a ‘bend, but don’t break’ kind of thing. It’s safe to say the “Heil Honey, I’m Home” breaks in spectacular fashion.

 

Wow. . . Just . . Eerrrr . . . WOW.

 

I almost hate to say it, but “Heil Honey I’m Home” gets my creative juices flowing. After discovering its existence and watching about 17 seconds of the first (and thankfully last) episode, so many scenarios came to mind. 17 seconds was about all I could take. The acting and writing was almost as bad the plot. Somehow “laugh track” and “Nazi” don’t really belong in the same sentence.

I can just picture a struggling actor calling his parents about his big break.

“Mum, I got the lead in a new show that’s going to be on telly.”
“Oh, I’m so happy for you dear. I knew you’d find something. You were always so talented.”
“Oh Mum, if this show takes off, I wont have to wait tables anymore. I can pay back all the money you and dad have lent me…”
“Tell me all about the show, dear.”
“I’m playing Adolf Hitler.”
“Hitler? Is it a miniseries about the war?”
“No mum…it’s a sit-com.”
Pause
“Mum? Are you still there?”
“Let me put your father on, dear.”

I also pictured the pitch meeting. A successful and busy producer’s office. A nervous young writer waiting to see him. This could be his big break. The producer’s secretary answers the phone. “Mr. Goldstein will see you now.” The writer enters the inner office carrying a script in a binder. The producer sits behind a massive desk puffing away at a cigar. His walls are adorned with posters for the massively successful shows he has and is currently producing. He motions for the writer to take a seat.

“Alright, Snodgrass..I’m a busy man, you’ve got 30 seconds…tell me about this show of yours.”
“Well JG, it’s a sit com.”
“Uh huh.”
“Two couples, living next door to each other in the suburbs and their love/hate relationship.”
“I like it so far.”
“Now, here’s the kicker JG.”
“Sock it to me..”
“The two couples are Adolph Hitler, Eva Braun…and … wait for it… living next to …a Jewish couple.”

Silence. The producer stares at the young writer for the longest 10 seconds in his life, then rising slowly he reaches for his cigar box and offers the writer one before sitting back down and leaning back in his chair as he shouts “I love it! Tell me more!” He leans over his desk and pushes the office intercom. “Ms. Price, hold my meetings and see what directors are available to start shooting next week.” Given the scale of even small television productions, it’s a safe bet that there were 50 or 60 people who were hoping that “Heil Honey I’m Home” would last at least one full season.

“Isn’t life swell, dear? “
“It sure is, hon.”

The show was initially supposed to be a spoof on 1950’s squeaky clean American family comedies like “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It To Beaver”. This got me thinking about what sort of theme song and opening credits the show would have. They could start with stark black and white footage of Stuka dive bombers and goose-stepping German soldiers set to very dark music by Wagner, then cut to a bright, color exterior of a little yellow house with Adolph Hitler mowing the lawn using an old fashion push mower and muttering to himself. The music changes to an upbeat accordion Oom- Pah- Pah Bavarian-Polka type tune.

Announcer’s deep baritone voice: “Heil Honey, I’m Home! Starring Joesef Kantactfurshit…Karla Kuntbagg, David Hasselhoff aaaaaand Shecky Wunderschwanz as Hitler.”

As the announcer speaks, a beach ball falls in Hitler’s yard. Hitler picks up the ball and glares over at his next door neighbors. A young Jewish man wearing a yarmulke and an early 1900’s bathing suit beckons for him to throw the ball back. He is standing in a shallow kid’s pool. Hitler goosesteps over to his front porch and punctures the ball on a World War One German helmet’s spike. The helmet is a matching set that is hung upside down and being used as flower pots full of daises. Upon seeing his ball punctured, the Jewish neighbor shakes his fist at Hitler. Eva Braun comes outside and waves to the Jewish man’s wife who is also coming outside carrying a tray of lemonade and sandwiches. Or, while we’re being all disgusting and anti-Semitic here, a tray heaping with lox and bagels.

The rest of the opening credits could include a montage of wacky, slapstick clips like Hitler coming out of the kitchen covered in soap suds from the inevitable “Husband and Wife switch roles and husband is clueless” episode.

Announcer: Sponsored by…Volkswagen!… and Manischewitz Matzo Meal.

Somehow, I am picturing Adolph and his Jewish neighbor being frenemies…like Mr. Rush and Munroe in “Too Close For Comfort” or George Jefferson and Tom Willis on “The Jeffersons”. The Jewish neighbors could have a rambunctious little boy who is always tormenting Hitler. Perhaps a cute running gag like the little boy always getting his name wrong. Hitler was also a strict vegetarian and took several medications for excessive flatulence. Another running gag. If it wasn’t so repugnant, this show would practically write itself.

“Hi Mr. Tilter.”
“Ze name ees Hit-ler, HIT-ler, vare ist your fadder?”
“He’s at work Mr. Pitler.”
“Ach yes, ze accounting…teepical Jewish proveshun.”
“Eva, get zis child avay from me.”
“What’s that smell Mr. Shitler? It smells like broccoli and poopie.”
“EVA, GET ZIS CHILD AVAY FROM ME!!!”

Only one episode of the show aired, which is certainly one episode too many. Seven shows were shot. It makes me wonder if the producer tried to plead his case that “the show was just beginning to hit its stride” or “The Battle of Britain Holiday Special is coming up.” or “Maybe if we started adding weekly guest stars…can you see Meatloaf as Goering?”

I think I’ll go take a shower now.

“That which does not kill us, exhausts us.”
No, wait, that’s not right . . .

I couldn’t sleep so I got up and made myself a cup of Sleepytime tea. Since childhood I have always adored the picture on the Sleepytime box depicting a big bear in a nightshirt and night cap asleep in his easy chair as Momma Bear leads the cubs to bed. There is a crackling fire in the fireplace, an old fashioned radio on the table next to the dozing Mr.Bear, and a kitty curled up on the rug. The picture is about the comfy-coziest image ever, and makes me long for a fireplace. Chong the cat is asleep next to me on the bed after eating the better part of a plastic bag and puking, per his strange custom. I’m guessing the Sleepytime Tea artist didn’t want to ruin the cozy and homey theme of the picture by having a cat vomiting on the rug front of the crackling fire.

I once saw a psychiatric medication TV ad describe ADD as your mind “switching TV channels over and over, and being unable to stop”. I always found it to be a pretty fair analogy. That’s relatively close to what it’s like. “How do you manage to do anything?” People might ask…Well, it’s all I know, so it doesn’t seem like that much of a disability to me. English Bulldogs and Persian cats are often bred to have pushed in faces which doesn’t allow for great breathing. However, I don’t think these gorgeous animals mind because it’s all they know. It’s not like when we suffer from allergies or a cold and notice a difference in our breathing. So, I am sitting and drinking my tea, and changing channels in my mind like an energetic small child who has just discovered the wondrous bliss of the TV remote control. I was suddenly seized with an urge to look up Laura Ingalls-Wilder. If you didn’t already know Laura Ingalls-Wilder wrote a series of books about growing up on the American frontier in the late 1800s. More importantly, these books inspired one of my all time favorite TV shows; “Little House on the Prairie”. I don’t know why I love LHOTP so much. It’s maudlin to say the least. Every episode is another horrible chapter in the lives of these people. Crops destroyed by hail, daughter/sister goes blind, baby son dies, can’t afford shoes, a crop ruined by flood and another by draught, Blind daughter/sister opens a blind school…that burns down, killing Blindy Charles Wonder’s baby and for comic relief the town’s wealthiest family, owners of the “mercantile” continuously give the Ingalls’ a hard time. I’m guessing the suits at NBC weren’t crazy about the title “Never-ending Suckfest on the Prairie” I think I like the show because I am quirky (” a special little snowflake” is how my best friend puts it) I also used to watch it to annoy my mother, For some reason my addiction to “M*A*S*H”, Little House and other syndicated TV shows used to bug mom to no end…so of course I rolled with it. It speaks volumes as to what kind of person I am.

Random web pic that has nothing to . . . Ooooo, Boxing on HBO.

So while I was thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder I did a quick google search and read up on her on Wikipedia. The internet is both a blessing and a curse for ADD commandos like myself. It’s great to be able to look up all the odd little things that bounce to and fro in my mind. The downside is I spend entirely too much time online and come away with way too much useless information to inflict upon anyone within earshot. As it turns out, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life really did suck. Barns burned down, husband crippled by disease, lost a little brother to crib death all the way up until the 1920s where they lost all their money in the stock market crash. Her 90 year life was a bi polar ebb and flow of fair and good years punctuated with disasters. I admired her resilience. I’ve known people who need anti-depressants when they can’t find Manolo Blahniks in the shade of brown they were looking for.

Of course this resilience and disaster medley made me think of my own life. I was FINALLY working, saving some money, slowly paying off my debts. I sweated out the lean Summer months at work anxiously awaiting the the busy and lucrative autumn months and football…Only to have it ripped from me during the first game of the season, the first fucking week of September and my Achilles tendon tears like the “slightly imperfect” underwear my grandmother used to buy for me by the pound. I’m out of the game for 2 months. Savings…poof…gone What had taken me a year to sock away in the bank dissipated like a fart on a windy day. I could kinda-sorta relate to the Ingalls shitstorm of a life. Imagine working every day as a farmer and without the benefit of tractors or harvesters. From 5 or 6 every morning to sundown…washing up in a creek if you’re lucky, chopping wood, repairing your home, working a second job just to have money and then for a goof God decides to throw a little hail or drought your way just before harvest time. The same God, by the way that you’ve been praying to every Sunday like clockwork. It put things into perspective for me. My life has been especially tough this year, but even though I lost my mom in March and lost my Achilles tendon in September, at least my barn didn’t burn down, and my coveted Jade trees on the fire escape weren’t eaten by a swarm of locusts and I don’t have a school for the blind to sweat.

A tough, old broad.

Last weekend my best friend came to visit me. She filled my cupboards and refrigerator with food, brought me enough cigarettes for a couple weeks, She did my laundry, took me out for brunch, football and beer, cleaned my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. She cooked nice meals for both of us and was infinitely cheerful, sweet and affectionate. She listened to my fears, rants and complaints and helped put things in perspective as scary as they seemed to me. We laughed, hugged and we had great talks as always.

So, life is fragile. Recently I have been joking that according to Neitzche if this particularly rough year doesn’t kill me it will make me stronger. I hope so, but I suspect I’ll never be as tough as Mrs Wilder.

“Of course, my good man, everyone knows that Facebook IS the new standard for “Published Author”

I have started a regular “column” on Facebook. I call it a “column” because I am prone to many delusional moments. I want a regular column, so if that is how I label it… to my way of thinking, voila, instant column. My “column” in reality it is a status update that I have decided to call “Fun at Other People’s Expense” followed by a number. I started the numbers in the four hundred’s to create the illusion that I have written hundreds of these gems of witty yet hateful wisdom. It is also a bait and switch literary marketing tool. Maybe if I write something clever and funny, it will nudge a reader to dig deeper into my many ramblings. It’s an important phase in my plan to write and have published the Great American Bathroom Read.

One of the cool things about “Fun At Other People’s Expense” or FAOPE (Fay-Ope or Fay-Oh-Pee) is that I find I’m pretty good at it. Whenever I am at a loss with what to inflict upon my Facebook friends, because God forbid people aren’t paying attention to what I am saying or writing for more than 30 minutes, I’ll bang out a quick FAOPE. I suppose it’s not one of the world’s greatest talents. It ranks up there somewhere around “really exceptional toenail care”.

Yesterday, my best friend; The Gow came to visit me in my nicotine stained chamber of self pity. She came up for the weekend to visit and to help out with the domestic aspects of daily life that I am having temporary difficulties with after injuring myself. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was on TV, and for a goof I decided to explain the plot of the cinematic classic to The Gow.

Looks interesting. What’s it about?

“Oh, hey Gow, you’ll like this. It’s a film is called “Psycho”, it was made by this English director named Alfred Hitch-cock…it’s about a woman who steals some money from her boss and skips town to be with her boyfriend in another city. On the way she stops at an off-the-beaten-track motel and is murdered by the young man who owns the place. His name is Norman Bates and he is insane. That’s why it’s called “Psycho” He lives with his mother’s corpse, and…”

The Gow, who is accustomed to my shenanigans, stopped me short and deadpanned ” Shhh honey, you’ll ruin the ending for me.” She is well versed in my M.O. She knows that if she ignores me, I will redouble my efforts. She also knows that if she gets angry or annoyed, then I have accomplished my mission. The response was incredibly well played by The Gow as it silenced me…for about 30 seconds, which is the best anyone can hope for where I’m concerned.

It dawns on me that this tactic can go well beyond my silly “column”.  (No, I’m not going to stop calling it that) Getting rid of people with tact and grace is a useful skill. It is one many of us have yet to master. It seems to me that we often find ourselves wanting to be rid of people, but without hurting their feelings, being mean spirited or anything that may result in them hating (or hitting) us. We all can relate to the romantic interest that we are no longer romantically interested in. “I think we should just be friends” might be true, often it is, but anyone it has been directed towards leaves unsatisfied and frequently with little to no interest in actually remaining friends.

Have you ever stopped and thought about the many instances in life where you wish you could get someone to go away without bruising their pride or being rude?

Relatives, people we are dating but the spark is just missing, especially tenacious pick up artists. Jehovah’s Witnesses, sales people.

There are also people in life who simply…will…not…go…away. There is a regular at the pub where I work named Liam. Liam was born missing the subsection of the mind responsible for determining personal space or if anyone would like him to stop talking now. He’s not a mean person, or a bad guy, he’s just irritating…unbelievably so. He will ramble on and on (and on) 5 inches from your face, and he can not or will not be dissuaded by anything short of screaming “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME LIAM!” followed by a 30 second, direct blast of chemical mace. His breath has a “just ate a dog shit burrito” quality to it, and he’s a close talker, which doesn’t help either.

Please. Stop. Talking. Now.

I think I may have inadvertently discovered a tactful way to get rid of people via my little tee-hee with The Gow. Just engage the mark in very direct conversation and keep pointing out the painfully obvious to them in the most pedantic manner possible. Continue to do so until you have turned the tables and that they will be trying to get you to go away.

Just imagine how long you could stay and listen to such gems as:

“You know they call baseball the National Pastime. That’s because it’s a popular game here in America. You know the term ‘pastime’ comes from the words “pass” and “time”, because it’s an activity that passes the time. Pass-Time get it? Paaassss Tiimmee”. Politically speaking I have to say that, Mitt Romney is a Republican, where as President Obama is a Democrat…there are two major political parties in the United States…The Dem-o-crats and the Re-pub-li-cans…”

Continue this simplistic monologue with an occasional “Oh, you already knew that?” thrown in. For this to work properly, it is very important to keep the tone innocent and magnanimous.

If any of my readers try this technique, I’d love feedback on how it worked (or didn’t work) for you. Just leave a comment at the end of my “column”.

I’d like to apologize in advance if someone decides to hit you.