Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Day Off

Posted: May 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Home, Life, Me & Mine

 

Today was my day off…and it was a good one. One important factor involved in this was that my best friend  ( The World Famous Gow) was in town visitinv  I slept late with my BFF; The Gow and my cat Bella and leisurely drank two cups of coffee while thinking about how to squander the day.  Staring me in the face in my chamber of filth was a pile of laundry that the EPA was stating to take an interest in.  “I need to do fluffy-foldy today,” I told The Gow, and she was game to help me, which is one of the reasons I adore her so much.  The Gow wanted Indian food.  During her visits to NYC I have turned her on to both Thai and Indian cuisine.  For a person who has a low spice tolerance, she is quite the trooper about trying new things. We had a quick huddle and decided to have Indian food ( “and get your own Nan bread…” the Gow informed me prior to ordering) delivered.
I called our local Curry Castle and managed to refrain from doing my Ghandi impression while ordering lunch… Having an unamused restaurant host or waiter blow his nose in my chicken vindaloo isn’t worth the poor-impulse-control-and-slightly-racist chuckle.   I shoved my laundry into two machines.  For once I didn’t overstuff the washers.  Sometimes I jam so many clothes into a washing machine that they came out dry after the wash cycle.  I even separated my whites and colors as Bella decided last week that an expensive white bed-spread was a great place to ralph up a hairball.  Thanks Kitty.
My roommate came home with a Toys R Us bag in tow as I was heading out to throw my wash into the dryer. My eyes lit up immediately and I asked hopefully, ” Didja get me a toy?  Huh?  Huh?  didja?”  She smiled and answered in the negative.  She had bought a toy for her nephew in Brazil when she visits next month. I smiled back muttering “Fuck your nephew you selfish cunt” and stomped off to the laundramat. I wanted a toy goddamnit. Luckily the Indian food arrived after I got home and we had an amazing meal. We’d ordered lamb, lamb, chicken and two nan breads.  One for each of us.  Gow picked up one of the nans and smelled it exclaiming “Whew!!”  “Is that the garlic nan I ordered”  She said “yes” and sure enough it smelled so strong of garlic that I had no doubt there were Counts in Transylvania who were reaching for the air freshener.  The meal was delicious.
After lunch we ran back to the Laundromat and folded everything up neat as a pin.  The Gow was of the opinion that my standard procedure of washing my laundry and dumping it on my bed afterwards is not particularly conducive to a tidy bedroom.  “But, it’s clean” I explained. “Honey, you exhaust me” she replied with a patient sigh for the first of what would surely be hundreds of times during her visit.  I smiled and said “I know”
We fluffed and folded everything while I pointed out various articles from the Scotty Collection and made commentary about which were my favorites. “Like these undies”….”I don’t like these…can’t wait til they wear out”.   Gow smiled and nodded much in the fashion of a parent or guardian indulging the non-stop ramblings of a small child.
After laundry and lunchie came the day off tradition of the afternoon nap….and it was good.

“I’ve always wanted to sell out.  It’s just that no one wanted to buy me.” – John Waters

“Hey Ma, did you like my last piece?”
“Which one was that?  The “I Hate Paris Hilton Haiku Collection”?
“No Ma, the one after that, the four page satirical observations on the benefits of genital warts.”
“Yes honey. It was very nice. I keep telling you. They are all – very – nice.” – Mom

“Gimme some money” – Spinal Tap

I have finally started collecting rejection letters, or more accurately rejection emails.  It must have been worse ‘back in the day’ to go to the mailbox (“Hmmm, a letter from Tiger Beat. Finally, my Scott Baio, Kirk Cameron and N’Synch stalking will pay off!”), only to be denied with a letter that contains one of the more bitter pills of the English language  “…. we regret to inform you…” In a small way, I sometimes find myself wishing that I did have a folder chock full of rejection letters so I could hold it up for emphasis when my best friend is trying to cheer me up and I’m determined to stay a depressed little turnip. I’m so miserable, that sometimes I even use props. Take that goths. That’s how you really embrace darkness…old school. To date, every rejection email has been cordial, polite and best of all personalized. I have been tickled me Elmo that busy editors have taken 30 seconds to turn me down politely. It has restored some of my faith in humanity which has taken several hits this year (I’ve had to deal with insurance companies, emergency rooms, government agencies and used car salesmen.)

The one bummer about polite rejections is that it denies me elaborate revenge fantasies. Part of me likes to imagine that after Stephen king sold the paperback rights to Carrie for $400,000.00 (True story, and it was the 70s.) that he grabbed the stack of rejection letters he kept impaled on a railroad spike in his bedroom and called every single editor who rejected him and asked them how much they made this year. Fantasies of petty revenge…whatever gets you through the day.

 

Oh, it’s come to this has it? FINE!

Receiving e-mails that say “It’s not really what we are looking for.”, “It’s not exactly what we do here at such and such magazine.”  and “Sorry, this didn’t make our deadline.”  I’m not discouraged. Quite the opposite. I am a product of entirely too much television and too many movies. This is how it’s supposed to work. I get rejection letters until finally I get my big break.  Any day now an editor with a striking resemblance to Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn or Holly Hunter will accept one of my submissions and we will begin an adversarial writer/editor relationship full of wacky hi jinx of missed deadlines and exclusives neatly typed up and left in the back seats of taxis. “Damn it Scott, you’re the best writer I have, but I can’t publish your exclusive on why Reality TV contests should use firearms…the chief will kill me.”  This happens in every movie and TV show, of course it’s going to happen to me.  Life is, after all, one big John Hughes’ movie.

It’s fascinating that such a heavyweight champion pessimist and curmudgeon as myself remains convinced that he will one day be the next Dave Barry or Stephen King. Hell, I’d settle for being the next Ed Anger who used to write my favorite column in the Weekly World News. (“All the news, that’s shit to print”)  I may be dead by the time my avant-garde potty humor genius is discovered, and discussed by academics in front of roaring fires while sipping a fine sherry, but I can live with that…almost.

I’ve had a rough year, so allow me my little delusions. In the world according to me, everyone gets published or gets the lead in the play eventually. I thank Heavy G for not having given me the acting bug. Having lived in both NYC and Los Angeles I have seen first hand, young people who threw caution to the wind after an excellent review in their high school newspaper for their Brando-esque performance in the drama club’s Spring production of No No Nanette. Upon graduation they immediately moved to the big city, found themselves an agent named Rocco or Shecky who eventually convinced them that George Clooney, William Shatner and Brad Pitt all got their start in low budget gay porn musical extravaganzas.

NOT what I looked like. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

My writing journey has been and is such a Hallmark Channel movie-of-the-week it’s ridiculous. My mom died in March,I tore my Achilles tendon in September (8 weeks in a cast), and I was attacked by six Jersey Shore clones 3 nights before Halloween while on crutches, wearing a vest, bandanna, and cowboy hat. (With the crutches I told everyone I was dressed as “Hop-a-long Cassidy”) The gentlemen who tried to make me taste test  the sidewalk took issue with my impromptu costume and yelled “Faggot” at me. They felt my look was more “Randy the Cowboy” from the Village People as opposed to Wyatt Twerp.  I responded with a middle finger salute and they piled out of their daddy’s car to discuss the latest in fashion with me.

My bedroom where I do my writing is straight out of Joe Gillis’ furnished hovel in Sunset Boulevard where I sit unshaven, chain smoking in a bathrobe, complete with brimming ashtrays and debt collectors calling or stopping by for coffee. How could I not be published in this circus of cliches?  Maybe for dramatic effect I should ask my Super Mario Brother’s doppelgänger landlord; Giuseppe to expedite my impending eviction notice. Anything to get these editors to recognize the F. Scott Fitz-Hemmingway in their midst.

I wont be working on improving my writing or making it more commercially viable. It’s wonderful just the way it is. I know because while in a morphine haze, my mommy told me so…and she studied English lit. I have reached that wonderful pinnacle in life which I haven’t experienced since I was 14 in that you can’t tell me anything. I once again believe in a ruling class, especially since I rule.

Speaking of mothers, last week my step-mother took a magnifying glass to my anthill and responded to the first (and last) piece I ever sent her. A week before she had emailed me about a writing class she was taking and dropped after attending once. (Isn’t it nice being an adult with the ability to tell a teacher they suck and saunter out? I sometimes register for classes for this express purpose. It’s important to keep others grounded.) I responded to her in glowing terms about how thrilled I was to hear about her class. I told her I had been writing for years, and that my college professors described my school paper review of the Spring production as Danielle Steele-esque. I know I have talent. Encouraged that I might finally have a family member who loved writing and with whom I could share my work I immediately forwarded her my latest article on the 2012 post election meltdowns. It was called…wait for it…. “Post Election Meltdowns“.  I guess my prior 6 page gushing email to her about the importance I place on writing and authors was too subtle of a hint. Unfortunately she, like everyone else, was tired of the election and put a lively crayfish in my Calvin Kleins by responding with “It’s nice that you’re writing, I’m sick of the election and could hardly read your piece. Keep it up, just not about politics.”  Awwww. thanks ‘mom’.

So happy I sent you my piece. Pppffthththththththhh

No one can deflate our ego quite like family. I’m thrilled that after my mother’s death, she has picked up the disapproval and discouragement ball and is charging to the net for a lay up. She also has 9 kids and several grandchildren of her own, so it’s nice that she can find time to dash the hopes of another who isn’t immediate family. My father isn’t a big reader, so he is out. He has been known to book mark 2 page Sports Illustrated articles. Maybe I should have waited for Thanksgiving and given the whole family a go at disemboweling my one dream that doesn’t involve Lynda Carter and spandex outfits.  After the “What I’m grateful for” speeches and before halftime in the Cowboys game we could go around the table and everyone could deliver variations of  “Have a back up plan.” in regards to my writing. Two can play at that game. When my uber-conservative step-sister asks me what I am grateful for, I can belch out one word for the benefit of her and her private school brood. “Tits”. Then we can visit the other family Thanksgiving tradition of drinking too much and dreading Christmas. What can I say? I’m a traditionalist.

My reason for writing this is to prod and nudge potential editors that my life in terms of both confidence and financial stability is reaching critical mass. It’s time for the big finale. Last week I went to my bank, punched in my PIN number and the ATM began laughing at me. I’m starting to become a little concerned. So come on editors. It’s time to publish the boy so I can blow my book advance on Johnny Walker Blue and  friendly yet sensitive, scantily clad ladies named “Lola” and thus creating even more cliched things to write about.  I’m ready to finally pay all my bills (in loose pennies to the especially mean and nasty creditors) and to embark on a book tour. I’ve kept my schedule open to write jokes for the President for the correspondents dinner.  “Barry, can I call you right back?  I’m on the phone with Netflix…thanks  youre a dove”

This afternoon, during a phone call with the lovely and talented Ms. Gow, she confessed to feeling a little blue and guilty.

“But Why?” asked I. (huh-huh rhyme)

Last week a friend and former co-worker of The Gow died after a battle with cancer. Being a sensitive and kind person (except when driving) the Gow was naturally devastated by this. She is a self-proclaimed emotional mush ball who cries easily and often. She has been sad over this all weekend, and I feel for her. I lost my mom to cancer in March, my dad was diagnosed last year which worried me and of course wasn’t exactly a joyous treat for him and my step mom, and I watched my friend Mark die of colon cancer in the early 90s. It is a very sad and painful way for a person to die. Gow is scheduled to come up and visit me this Friday for a comedy show and a weekend of movies, brunch, football and other things we love to do together. The funeral is set for Friday and Gow felt bad about missing it…then she felt bad about being slightly relieved that she had a prior commitment and would miss the funeral.I tried to comfort her explaining that:

A: She felt bad about missing the funeral

B: She did have a prior commitment causing her to miss the funeral, something she had planned for and spent money on, and thus wasn’t lying to get out of attending a funeral or blowing it off.

C: Funerals are sad, unhappy and unpleasant occasions and it’s natural to not really want to attend them.

I tried to cheer my BFF up and discuss the matter with her. It really was to a certain degree, the thought that counted in this instance. Then I had one of my odd little brain blips. I have ADD and at any given time there are lots of odd and sometimes clever thoughts floating around in there.

“Gow, there should be a word for that kind of thing.”

“What kind of thing?”

“When you have to do something disagreeable…and something legit comes up and you are…excused so to speak….but as relieved as you are, you have to act like you’re disappointed.”

Gow agreed with me that there should be a word for this reasonably frequent occurrence in life. Imagine if you had a sick friend and you called and offered to bring by some hot soup, comic books and dvds for them. Being a good friend, you honestly meant to do this…but let’s say a little later, you’re tired, or had a bad day and you’d like to put off your promised mission of mercy…then, you get summoned into work last minute, or your ill friend calls and says “You know I just took some NyQuil, some Tylenol PM and there is a Murder, She Wrote marathon coming on, so I’m probably going to pass out…. would you mind if I canceled your soup and comic delivery?” Now, you’re excused and you’re grateful, you dodged the bullet and without lying or blowing off…but of course you have to act slightly disappointed. “Oh, are you sure?”

I made up a few expressions for this type of circumstance, but Gow shot them down.

“Those are expressions…not words, honey”

“So it can’t be an expression?”

“No, it has to be a word.”

“OK, I’ll work on it.”

I apologize. I know this is a rather long build up to my piece about words.

 

Other words that I have become fond of recently are:

Turd: This is probably my word of the month. I like its sound. It’s a blunt word resembling a thud. It’s not a swear, but it’s a distant cousin. Turd is also great when it’s coupled with other words to describe something or someone disagreeable. Rush Limbaugh is a turd in a polo shirt. It also rhymes with lots of other words which makes for interesting and lilty speech patterns. Try to use “turd” in a sentence this week boys and girls.

Buffoon: I actually prefer the adverb form “Buffoonery”. Again, it’s not a bad word, but it’s still an insult or derogatory, which is helpful to me since I’m generally a pretty negative person. There is all kinds of buffoonery happening at any given time. Being a YouTube addict and looking up obscure songs and movie scenes, I stumbled on to a wonderful, contextual instance of the word “buffoon

Jim Morrison was a drunken buffoon posing as a poet. Buffoons are mostly harmless, but we’d all be just a little better off without them. Another famous buffoon is Ed McMahon, (or frankly any TV show side kick, yes-man. They’re all buffoons.) This is why I admire Craig Ferguson for using a robot (Geoff Peterson) as his side kick. Geoff is more entertaining than Ed McMahon or Paul Schaefer. Plus I sleep better when I know that buffoons aren’t making in a week what I make in 5 years merely by laughing at late night talk show shills who couldn’t pass funny gas after a Mexican buffet lunch.

Derp: Derp is a nonsensical word to describe stupid people, behavior, statements or mistakes. I like how it sounds. I enjoy voice manipulation and Derp is a wonderful word to use in many tones and accents. Try it with me aloud:

Southern Accent: “Derp”,
French Accent “Dairp”
English Accent “Duhrp”

See? Wasn’t that fun?

More pieces on words to come and please write in and tell me some of your favorite words, and why you love them so much.

This piece needs to begin with a tip of the hat to Speaker 7, a blogger I have recently met and become very fond of. This entry is actually in part, my far too lengthy reply to something she posted. After reading it to faithful editor and BFF Gow, she (Gow) told me I was on the verge of hijacking Speaker 7’s thread. I saw what the wise and powerful Gow was saying and immediately posted an apology to Speaker 7. Please check out her work. It’s really excellent.

After reading Speaker 7’s piece about Michael “Heckuva Job Brownie” Brown I was inspired to revisit a piece I had been working on. At any given time I have 50 or so pieces in my “saved/drafts folder” to revisit, or polish. Her piece is called “Heckuva Turd” which was interesting as I was working on a piece about a turd as well. I’m coming to love that word “Turd”. It’s an insult, but not really a swear. My turd in question is Donald Trump.

A turd and a tease . . .
with a bad combover and a spray tan! Ughhh.

A couple weeks ago Trump had a “huge announcement” to make. His “huge announcement” turned out to be the latest chapter in his beef with President Obama. Donnie Dicko offered $5 million to the charity of President Obama’s choice if he would turn over his college transcripts. The country collectively rolled their eyes and internally cursed themselves for even listening to DT (yet again) for even a second. Everyone who paid 30 seconds of attention to this, thought,”When will we learn?” The talking heads, especially the late night comedians, all ridiculed Trump’s move, and rightly so. If anything good came out of this Turd with a Combover’s latest idiocy it was the laughs from people like Steven Colbert. Even highly respected, non partisan journalists chimed in, like Barbara Walters who said “Donald, you are embarrassing yourself.” Trump immediately jumped on twitter and replied to Babs that “she just doesn’t get it”. Funny, I think she most certainly did “get it”. I think she “got it” better than many of us. I was reminded of a standard reply to any bad joke told by any butthurt comedian. “Oh I get it, it’s just not funny.” I think she commented on it with grace and class. Twitter seems to be the ultimate tool for tools. It’s the perfect medium for people who need to let the rest of the world know what an asshat they are, every 10 minutes, lest we forget.

Trump is quite literally in the middle of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He has an interest and his name on several casinos in Atlantic City and property in NYC. He could have polished this dog grumpy situation into a diamond with a simple “This is a time for American’s to come together, so I am going to donate the 5 million to the Red Cross and I will house some relief workers in my hotels…blah blah blah”. Hell, he could have made money out of this in the long run and walked away smelling like Calvin Klein’s Obsession. With less effort than he put into his “Huge Announcement” he could have scored a mass quantity of the drug he’s been addicted to since the 80’s; Attention.

Sadly, this was too easy, too painfully obvious for a dink like Trump. So, what did he do? He publicly doubled down on his moronic stunt. He “extended the President’s deadline to release his school transcripts due to Hurricane Sandy.”

Let me pause here to ask: What kind of ego does a private citizen have to give the POTUS a deadline? Many people in this country dislike President Obama for any number of reasons and to varying degrees, but what happened to even a small amount of respect of the office?

Speaking of President Obama; where was he during this? He was in NJ with Gov Fatty Boombalatty, both of whom were doing their jobs like grown ups. A tip of the hat to Gov. Chris Christie for telling the press off and not allowing them to turn the situation into partisan politics. Both he and the President worked together like adults and did their jobs. Meanwhile, little Donnie Trump was holding his breath because Daddy wasn’t paying attention to him. How many times does Trump have to get smacked down by Barack Obama before he learns?

Please click here to watch this,
very well done Brian Williams piece!

Michael “Brownie” Brown (and what a perfectly appropriate name for a turd) showed what an out-of-touch tool he still is by telling the media “city dwellers need to ‘chill’ ” in regards to what he felt was an over-reaction prior to and after Hurricane Sandy. This coming from the most famous under-reactor in America. Is Brownie so lacking in self awareness that he honestly fails to realize that he will forever be known as the guy who dropped the ball after Hurricane Katrina? Brownie too could have capitalized on this situation and redeemed himself in a huge way and with minimal effort. His slate with America could have been wiped clean by simply “acting”, something that is painfully obvious that he has tremendous difficulty in doing in anything that resembles a timely manner. He could have given blood, gone to NJ and handed out bottled water. I’m sure that after Katrina, Brownie came to realize that hurricanes and their aftermath were decidedly icky things and very inconvenient. He could have remained silent, he could have simply released a statement of sympathy and support. ANY-thing other than what he chose to do. It was as if he was concerned that people just might have forgotten what an ineffective, uncaring, out-of-touch asshole he truly is.

Brown(ie) never should have been head of FEMA to begin with. His background was in Arabian horses. Junior Bush apparently owed someone a favor and as a result FEMA got Brownie and the people of New Orleans got it firmly up the ass without a kiss (Pardon the crude analogy)

After Hurricane Katrina, Daddy Bush and Former President Clinton worked together to bring aid and help. Once again, Poppy Bush was picking up after his irresponsible frat boy son. Where has Junior Bush been during all of this? After Twit Money told him “Thanks, but no thanks, just stay out of sight please.” during the current presidential campaign, Junior was in the Cayman Islands during Hurricane Sandy giving a $4000 a head speech, butchering the English language in front of a crowd of wealthy bankers, venture capitalists etc. Here’s a man who is not only a true humanitarian, but also with his priorities well in line.

It’s true! “There are eight million stories in the Naked City.”

I have said and written many times before that New Yorkers have no excuse for writer’s block. We have the unique privilege of paying way too much to share a suffocating, under maintained hovel with a roommate or 6 and the Roach Family Robinson in one of the craziest, most over-crowded, expensive, stressful, vibrant and interesting cities in the world. All you need is a little imagination, a pen, some paper or a personal recorder (Don’t worry, New Yorkers are accustomed to people seemingly talking to themselves. We even start to get a little worried when we don’t see them regularly). Pack a sandwich and hop on the subway to… well, anywhere in the five boroughs Then watch your fellow New Yorkers and take notes. I even thought this strategy might make a good book of short stories. “50 Sandwiches/50 Subway Stations” might just be that elusive best seller I have been searching for. I can just picture cute, wide eyed, naive college groupies waiting outside my luxury hotel suite in the middle of my record breaking book signing tour. “Oh Mr. Swenson, your book changed my life. I’m am English Lit.major at Columbia and I’m taking a class on Post-Modern American Potty Humor. I haven’t read anything as witty as your piece “Rancid Tuna Salad on Pumpernickel at 59th and Lex.” and the brilliant epilogue “Food Poisoning & Finding a Bathroom Near 59th and Lex”. Will you sign my book and my left buttock?…Here’s a sharpie.”

My warped little famous writer fantasies never seem farfetched to me. They made films out of Julie & Julia and The Devil Wears Prada. The second that pesky cease and desist order Ms. Streep has out against me expires…I can start pitching my ideas again.

I tell aspiring writers suffering from writer’s block to “just write and don’t worry if it’s any good.” I’m currently in a wonderful place with my writing career. Unpublished with no prospects and yet I still have the cojones and chutzpah to pass along unwanted and unsolicited advice to other writers in the same boat. So, this is what I am doing now…just writing, and convinced that it’s not any good. I titled this piece “Suffering from writer’s block” because it really is something that one suffers from. I’m not even a successful writer, and I feel like I have “lost it” if I haven’t banged out a solid piece of writing on the worldwide conspiracy to get on my nerves every 48 hours. I suppose it is similar to what professional athletes feel in the middle of a slump. I’m not even on a deadline or being paid to write. The best I can hope for these days is more than 10 views of my blog on any given day. It’s OK. I remain convinced I am the Vincent Van Gogh of gripey-kvetch essays. I’m not unpublished…I’m avante garde. I may never sell a piece in my lifetime, but surely my ramblings will be required reading for troubled sixth graders in 200 years. I can live with that, just not in a financial sense.

Being a hopeless romantic and a product of too much television and bad movies I sometimes find myself wishing that I wrote on a typewriter, so I could rip paper out of the feeder in a dramatic gesture of exasperation, crumple it up and throw it into a brimming waste paper basket. Modern technology has denied us many theatrical gestures like this. All the cool writers in the movies did this and I feel like I am missing something. It’s just not the same to daintily peck at the backspace key in a fit of creative frustration. Sometimes in the movies, frustrated writers would sweep everything off their desk in a vexed fit. It makes me want to buy an old typewriter and stacks of paper. I have never swept the contents off of my desk in a fit of hissy before, but I have wanted to. Computers are much more delicate pieces of machinery than the Sherman Tank IBM typewriters of the film noir movies. As much as we would love to sometimes, we can’t or hopefully don’t punch or headbutt our PCs. It also reminds me of when I was a young boy of 4 or 5 living with my mom and grandparents, watching Sesame Street, and they had a reoccurring character named “Don Music” who, I realized much later was really the Guy Smiley muppet with a bad wig on. Don Music was a tortured artist trying to compose songs like the ABC’s or Yankee Doodle on a grand piano complete with a bust of Beethoven. As he composed he would become frustrated, flip out and slam his head onto the piano, which to my 5 year old sensibilities was the highest form of comedy. Like millions of other children I began smashing my forehead against my grandmother’s piano. Apparently so many kids were doing this that parents wrote to PBS and Don Music got 86’d in 1974. But, I remember…boy do I ever.

Maybe the reason I am suffering through writer’s block is because I am laid up. It’s post Hurricane Sandy, I’m still in a cast, I have no money and I have run out of things in my household to write about. I sent my latest: “The Broken Toaster Chronicles” out for publication last week, and instead of the standard rejection letter, I got a hand written note suggesting that I “break the Prozac tablets in half” prior to my next submission. I even wrote about my cats, which I have claimed for ages is the last bastion of the untalented hack. The crazy cat lady or more precisely, The Untalented Crazy Cat Lady. I read the piece to the cats. One left the room to drop a deuce in his sandbox and the other fell asleep. Everyone’s a critic.

Being on injured reserve has kept me from my favorite spots for observing the human condition. No laundromat, competing for folding tables with third world immigrant mothers who like to use them for changing diapers. No grocery store where my blood pressure rises and IQ drops as I fume over the incredible number of people who can’t accurately count 12 items (or less). No work. No school. No gym…nothing. I need to be able to interact with the personal nemesis I have chosen; my fellow man. Then become irritated and annoyed, stomp home muttering to myself and pour forth some observational comedic gold. Then I call the editress-in-chief and BFF The Gow and read it to her. “Slowly please.” she tells me before I read to her. Actually, there is a little ritual we go through after I have written something. In the event that she has the unmitigated gall to not answer her phone, I patiently wait through her lengthy voice mail and scream “Where ARE You???” Unpaid editors are not supposed to go the bathroom without their cell phones. She must feel loved picking up her phone, seeing 16 new messages and patiently deleting my wailing missives.

RING

“Gow!” (That’s how she answers the phone when I call. Isn’t that cute? Yes it is.)

“Hi Gow, I just wrote something. Wanna hear it?”

“What do you think?”

“Um Yes?”

“Yes”

“OK.”

“Slowly please”

I start out slow but my ADD and excitement gets the better of me after I reach the second or third sentence and I speed-read to her, pausing only when I think I have made a funny and want to give her time to laugh. When she doesn’t explode with laughter instantly I start to get worried. She will either laugh and make me feel like I have accomplished something, or she will do her polite fake chuckle and tell me “It’s OK honey, it just needs some more work.”, after which I sulk, moan, bite my arm, ask “Why do you hate my writing?” she will reassure me and after I stop crying I tweak the piece to make it better. It’s an odd process, but it has worked to date.

Now if you’ll all excuse me. I am going to call the Gow and see exactly where I stand with this piece.

“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.

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.

The Clueless Keep Life Interesting

Posted: December 2, 2011 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Home, Observations
Tags: , , ,

Today while sipping my morning coffee at 2 in the afternoon…( Hey, I’ve been at work and or school the past 6 days and nights and I’m having a “Me Day” consisting of ordering in and watching Bonanza re-runs…OK?) I got a call from Gow who was at work. She needed to vent about her co-workers who were stepping on her dress. Gow works in a cubicle veal capacity and her first grievance was of two co-workers carrying on a speaker phone conversation with each other on opposite sides of her cubicle. Apparently getting up and walking 10 feet to carry on a normal conversation was too obvious. She was also having cafeteria issues. People who would stand in moving lines acting as “human cholesterol” as she so beautifully put it. She also complained that at least once a day people would pull an abrupt 180 while in line and cause near collisions. It would seem that Gow, like the rest of us has to contend with members of the human race who aren’t aware of their surroundings and frankly don’t care.

Being a New Yorker, I am all too aware and frequently annoyed by these people. There are 8-10 million NYers in the Metro area, and my careful research estimates that at least half a million of them are oblivious, Mr. Magoo clone, Me-Monkeys who plod through life text messaging as cars screech to avoid collisions all around them because they forgot their first grade teacher’s important lesson of looking both ways before they cross. Besides, that “Where R U” text message from the friend they just hung up with 5 minutes ago is very important.  Yes folks, we are now living in a Chaplin-esque nightmare.

As irritating and exasperating as the clueless are, they are an important part of our society. We have bike reflectors, street signs, traffic lights, small claims courts, traffic cops and sign makers all making products for these folks to ignore. I am convinced we are about one generation away from everyone having to wear helmets. Oh, don’t get me wrong, these people give me ulcers too. They walk a precarious line of behaving in an obstructive and inconveniencing way that drives those of us who are paying attention crazy, yet if we chose to confront them all, we’d scream ourselves hoarse within a couple hours. I’d have a severe case of tennis elbow in no time at all if I acted upon my impulse to hit them.  I’m never at a shortage of writing material with these people.

I can see why they might have trouble figuring this out. . . no, wait . . . I can't.

Every day I ride my bike to work or school. I try to use the bike lanes when they are present, but sadly many motorists interpret the stick figure bicyclist painted on the lanes to be a high speed passing lane for their cars. (Well done Road Warriors.) Then I have my fellow bicyclists who haven’t figured out the intricacies of the big arrows showing us which lane we belong in. (It’s either that or there are more English drivers here than I was aware of.) As if the inner city Nascar drivers and directionally challenged bicyclists weren’t enough, for comic relief we need text messagers deeply engaged in “conversations” while walking down the middle of the bike lanes rapidly texting “Wut she say then?” and other equally important information that just can’t wait.

Bathrooms and bathroom behavior are another great source of material for the human race slapstick troop. Now, I’m not a plumber, but surely I’m not the only person who understands that a toilet filled to the brim with water, little brown battleships, 6 rolls of toilet paper and a cigarette pack should decidedly not be flushed; unless, of course you enjoy watching the impending fallout. Me?  I prefer  movies, music, discussion and other forms of entertainment…but hey I guess my sense of entertainment is more highbrow. I used to work at a bar whose plumbing had been installed in the 1930’s by ”Larry,Moe and Curly’s  Plumbing and Accounting Firm “.  As a result, there were lots of…situations that had to be addressed. I understand that these things happen, but I can’t be the only one who has a clue in regards to dealing with or avoiding them. When I first started working there I was young, idealistic and naïve. In my innocence I thought…silly me…that putting a large “Out of Order” sign at eye level would act as a deterrent. Sadly this was not to be. People would read the sign and after doing so would still enter the tainted and fragrant bathroom and start logging like Paul Bunyan. I know they read the sign. I saw their lips moving and a look of utter confusion come across their unibrowed face. It was clearly going to take more than a sign, so in addition to the sign, I would lock the door and put chairs in front of it. This sadly didn’t work either, as those who felt gastro-intestinal rumblings would just move the chairs aside, pick the lock, read and ignore the sign and proceed with their bombing mission. Finally I decided to fill the broken toilet stall with barstools, with the sign, the lock and the chairs in front of the outer door. It took less than an hour before I walked in to see someone taking the chairs out of the stall.  “What are you doing?”  I asked?  “I have to go to da baffroom” they’d slur at me. Not only do I have to share a planet with these people, but they have also been known to reproduce at an alarming rate. I know that my old black labrador retriever learned pretty quickly when I pushed his nose into the grumpies he lovingly deposited on the kitchen or living room floor, swatted him with a rolled up newspaper and said “No..No..NO”.  I have no doubt that Jonah the dog was smarter than most of the drunks using our humble outhouse. I asked my boss if we could hire a big ex-con to do this to our bathroom gremlins. He said he’d have to think about it. In the end, he just told me to keep an eye on things. I think it was because he was too cheap to go along with my creative solution.

Not exactly what she looked like, but you get the idea

A couple of years ago there was a woman with 5 kids and one in the oven changing her baby’s diaper on the folding table at the Laundromat. I stood and stared at her with the same expression my father had when my brother and I decided to fill his gas tank with sand. We had been trying to help him with the energy crisis of the 80s. We were also 6 years old. I had to resist the urge to shove her into a triple loader and run off with her baby and raising it as my own. I’d raise it to have a clue. The clueless team seems to be winning the numbers war. Somehow they have figured out how to copulate, but not the intricacies of the condom. I am convinced that there is a direct correlation between people with 4, 5, 6 or 7 children and plummeting IQs. I was behind one of them in the supermarket once. After scanning her 3 carts of items while her children ran amuck, the cashier told her the total of her purchase. Of course she didn’t have her money out…that would require forethought.  No, reading Soap Opera Digest and ignoring her brood while they vandalized gumball machines and terrorized other shoppers was priority number one.  Finally, after digging through her designer Louis Vuitton purse for her cash and food stamps, it turned out she didn’t have quite enough for the purchase. The grocery bill came to $312, she had a total of $84. She stood there looking confused for a moment while others in line mumbled “Oh come on.”  and other such things. Her face lit up. She had figured out what to do. She picked up the money and food stamps and rearranged them in the hopes that this would somehow change the total. Oh, Goodie. I’m in line behind a mathematician.  Maybe when we are done here, she can help me with my algebra homework, or file my tax return.  She could also have a promising career with the Congressional Budget Office. They need the help. Finally the clerk explained that she’d have to put some things back. The people in line behind me were evacuating to get in other lines with old ladies brandishing handfuls of coupons and homeless people returning brimming garbage bags full of empty cans and bottles. Then there were “Express Lines” to take 40 items to. They obviously had places to go and people to see. As for me, I had to stay put and watch the car wreck. After looking over her pile of groceries and carefully deciding what she would return to make up the $220 shortfall, she finally came to a decision and reached over, grabbed a packet of frozen peas and slowly handed them to the cashier, then stood back and smiled. Yeah, that takes care of the $220 shortfall. Well done. I pulled my shopping cart out of the line and left it to the side. I caught the eye of a store employee who’d probably have to put back all the items and apologized. He held a hand up as if to say “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” He too is a veteran of the war against the clueless. Maybe supermarkets should set up a “Stupid Lane” and a “Senior Citizen Lane”.  Instead of the death penalty, we can sentence our most dangerous felons to be lobotomized and then teach them how to scan items at the grocery store. It’s important for the clueless to interact with those on the same cerebral level.

There are millions of examples of this kind of behavior. It’s never going to go away. We will continue to make signs, and make them simpler and simpler to understand. No friends, short of running electrical current through everything the stupid people might touch, we are going to have to take along the stupid folks for the ride. It’s just a pity we can’t leave them in the car in a hot parking lot in August with the windows rolled up after telling them ”I’ll be right back.”

What did I just get myself into?

Posted: June 25, 2011 by S. Trevor Swenson in Home
Well, it’s official. I am starting a blog. This is a good thing in many ways, but it also has it’s drawbacks.  This means I have to produce and cannot just write out random blurbs on the idiotic observations I have on everyday life.  People might actually read what I write…and expect more in a timely fashion.  This also means what I write will have to some degree be engaging.  If I’m funny and people like what I write and tell their friends, then I will have to be funny with some regularity.
 
Today I saw a youtube clip on ‘How to Make Money With Your Blog” and it stressed staying on topic. The person they used in the clip was a nerdy-mousy girl writing about coffee and coffee shops. There are coffee nerds out there. I know, because I’ve met them. They talk really fast. I have written on a few occasions about the hi-jinx of my local Dunkin’ Donuts, but I’m too anxious to run around trying many different coffee places and rating them.  I also don’t like the idea that I might sway people’s opinions on various coffee shops and how the barista obviously didn’t understand what I meant when I said ” a whisper of cinnamon on my cappuccino”  Someone might get fired.
 
I don’t generally have a topic other than complaint, discontent and overall malaise, and my complaints are usually pretty broad and anonymous. I complain about “old ladies annoying me at grocery stores” and “cell phone users not paying attention to the world around them”. The only time I directly complain is when I have had a bad job interview and feel I was treated badly by a venue. Then I hop on Yelp and other social media websites and write scathing reviews about phantom dinners and drinks I never had there. I am sad to admit this has happened more than a few times. Come to think of it, that is a pretty indirect and anonymous complaint.  Well I never said I was courageous.  When I am in a grumpy mood I go back and reread my bitter reviews and it cheers me up, which says a great deal about my overall lack of character. 
Writing a blog means I might have to leave the comfort and safety of my air conditioned little curmudgeon cave of complaint and go out into the scary world and experience things.  I will have to observe, report and even interact with others.  Then, I have to make it funny and or interesting.  I also live in NYC which although it is a vibrant and entertaining place, many don’t take kindly to be watched by strange little men who then scribble something in a notebook.  It’s kind of a recipe for a beating or mugging.  I shall have to arm myself for these recon missions, or learn to run fast.
 
I suppose I should compile a list things and places that are good to write about, or where interesting people congregate, or can a true artist work with whatever materials are available to them?  Sadly I don’t think so.  I don’t think I could pack a lunch and grab a notepad and pen and head off to a burn ward or homeless shelter and bang out something funny.  Well, at least not the burn ward.
 
If I have a blog, then I will have little to no control over who reads my ramblings and how they react to them.  People could write “You Suck” to me and drive me into lengthy episodes of insecurity and depression.  People are generally more rude, or at least blunt in an anonymous medium.  Of course, this is a pessimistic attitude to take.  It’s entirely possible that people might find my writing entertaining and funny and might invite me to speak at their nephews bar mitzvah or at a sweet sixteen. That might be kind of cool