Archive for June, 2010

Saturday Mental Chex Mix: Inanity Taste Test

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 27, 2010 by tom
  • As I noted in my brief, horribly punctuated previous post, I now have a Twitter account.  If you're connected to Twitter, it's @tomzonets .  The question is…why would I do such a thing?
  • Seriously, for years, I've gleefully written thousands of words about the most inconsequential things, sometimes even bundling my overblown non sequitars into these continuity challenged (but healthily low sodium) Mental Chex Mix posts.  So why enter into a forum with a 140 character maximum length?
  • Simple.  I don't always have long thoughts.  Sometimes, apropos of nothing, a one sentence thought will pop into my head.  The DorkFone 9500 Turbo XLT, while horrible for writing Vox posts, lends itself perfectly to these little brain poots. 
  • Here's an idea.  I shall take an actual brain poot that I Twittered or tweeted or twat or whatever, and I'll include it verbatim, followed by how the idea would develop in a typical Vox post. 
  • @tomzonets
     

    Just wondering which act of God resulted in Miracle Whip. Perhaps fried bologna sandwiches at The Last Supper?  

  • That was about 5 o'clock this morning, as back pills floated through my bloodstream in little floaty pool chairs.
  • See? I just spent about a hundred characters simply describing the time when I wrote the thing.  Yikes.
  • So how would that same thought develop on Vox? Let's see.
  • What, exactly, was the situation in which God created Miracle Whip? I mean, it has to have been some sort of dusty Biblical picnic.  I imagine Jesus and His peeps were having a picnic somewhere, and word got out.  Suddenly, there was with them a multitude of moochers, and yet only enough Ahi tuna for His pals.  Mary probably scolded Jesus to stop turning the Evian into chianti and come help with the sandwiches.  He'd do the whole fish multiplication thing, but alas! Only one little half-empty jar of Hellman's.  So when He went to multiply the mayonnaise, Mary said, "Hey, we're out of pickles, so when You whip up that Hellman's to make enough tuna salad to feed the masses, try and put a little tangy zip into it." And thus, from an improvised picnic solution comes the white sandwich goo we use today.
  • Mayo and Miracle Whip are now available in squeeze bottles, which makes a lot of sense.  My only question is, what the hell took so long?
  • Seriously, we put a man on the moon 41 years ago, but we still had mayonaise and ketchup in glass vessels. Why did it take so long?
  • When I worked at the mob owned sub shop, I could make an awesome sub in about 60 seconds–just the way you liked it.  "What would you like on that?"  "Mayo, (grab, squeeeeeeeeeze splutter spurt), lettuce (spread, spread), tomatoes (place place place)," etc.  If I were to try and make that same sandwich at home, I'd spend at least a minute trying to scrape enough mayo off the sides of the jar.  That's one sound I always associate with childhood: the clinkclinkclinkclinkclink of making sandwiches.
  • Jenn says her brain feels like Miracle Whip.  (She's tired, and she was out in the sun at the Pride parade today (my brain feels like Miracle Whip, and I slept 8 hours in my air-conditioned cave (I'm not gay, but I have a lot of gay friends, and I support gay rights, but I don't do parades (especially when it's 549 degrees outside, like it is now))))
  • Straight-up (npi), it's 549 degrees here in Gomorrah.
  • 549 degrees Rankine
  • Yes, that's a real temperature scale.  I think Rankine:Fahrenheit :: Kelvin:Celsius
  • It just sounds more dramatic to say, "HOLY CRAP!!!! IT'S FREAKIN' 549 DEGREES! But the HEAT INDEX makes it feel like 559!"
  • Being an American, I'm not really conversant with the metric system (I mean, when has America ever been about logic? ;-) ), but I concede that driving 112 km/hr sounds a whole lot more invigorating than plodding along at 70 mph.
  • There's a wonderful free app in the Android market called Unit Converter.  You can select the unit in question (temperature), enter a value (99 Fahrenheit), and it will list conversions (558.67 Rankine, 37.2 Celsius, 310.37 Kelvin, 29.77 Reaumur).  I love having data I don't understand.
  • Cafe World is a bad game for people with food issues.  Seriously, I'd just about kill for some smoked salmon latkes and quiche right now, and I haven't had either in years.  This despite the fact that I prepared 18,000 servings of quiche last night, and enough latkes to feed 2000.
  • Makes me wonder what Jesus could have done if the kid with the fishes and loaves had brought quiche instead.

 

  • So the answer is that I used 3146 characters and 566 words to riff on Miracle Whip in Vox format.
  • I guess the Twitter is a portable, do it yourself version, where I can transmit odd thoughts, leaving the Tweet-reader to bounce around with the idea on his or her own.  I'm sure it can be done more efficiently, but where's the fun in that?
  • Finally, for Drude and any other northern lattitude residents who have 20 hour midsummer days, I offer you a picture of what night-time should look like (just in case you forgot):

 

Have a great weekend!

 

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Oh No: pigs fly, monkeys fly out of butts

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 by tom

oh i don't know why, but i now have a twitter thing .  follow me if you are desperate for inanity tapas…  tomzonets is the address, but with the little at symbol in front…the vox widgetry and the dorkfone preclude symbols and capital letters.  lord save culture.  happy weekend

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This Strange New World (Goodbye, MC2)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 19, 2010 by tom

One of the most bittersweet recurring themes in my Vox is eulogizing friends or people I've admired (Dennis Hopper, Harvey Korman, George Carlin) or at least respected (Ted Kennedy, Michael Jackson). Tonight, I'm in an unusual situation, as I wonder how best to eulogize my Vox friend MusicChick2.

 MusicChick2 and I never met in real life.  Odds are, we were never within 3000 miles of each other.  She lived in Seattle, and I'm here on the shores of Tampa Bay. But she and I shared more than I do with most of my fellow WC Floridians.

MC2's real name was Denise, and she had two mischievous cats, upon whom she doted (and who drove her crazy).  She also had a number of health problems, including severe rheumatoid arthritis, which crippled her, and made everyday things most of us take for granted painful ordeals.  One thing no illness could cripple was her attitude.

Denise never whined in her Vox.  She talked about her health problems and the attendant frustration, but she never lapsed into "woe-is-me-ism," as I'd probably have done.  In looking back at her posts, I found a few times where she and I exchanged comments, about such important issues as superior ice cream flavors and wonderful feline foibles. Her posts took her health issues in stride.  She always seemed more affronted by some Constitutional rights violation than by her own pain.  Denise had a strong Faith, and a deep love for her son, Josh.  She was a compassionate, kind, life-affirming friend, and I'm glad to have known her.  Requiescat in pace, MC2.

What amazed me, as I browsed through Denise's blog, is how times have changed.  I'm not talking about DorkFones and Nintendo Wii and night baseball.  Simply…

Back during my Dark Decade (and I capitalize that out of fear and respect), I was always writing a letter to my best friend, John.  A more apt description is that I was always writing a letter AT him.  My modus operandi was to get off work at midnight, go to Dave's "We Gouge You, But We're Open Till 2AM" Liquors, grab a bag of alcohol-absorbent food, drive home, change clothes, feed Kitty, pour a big glass of straight bourbon, and write.  On rare occasions, I'd write some wry 1000-word essay, and e-mail that to all my friends.  (shocking, right? Me? Wry? 1000 word increments??)  Most nights, though, I was writing a letter at John. 

Basically, it was targeted journaling.  I'd write about work horrors, relationship horrors, music, prostitute whoreors…

Okay, not the last one, although I did have an odd encounter where a crack-whore ran out in front of my truck, flagged me down, and needed me to rescue her from being raped.  No lie.

My point is, these letters to John got very, verrry long.  He recalls one being 125 pages long.  That's 125 pages, 12 pt Garamond Antiqua, single spaced.  I remember one of them being 250,000 words. 

If you were to read these letters, you'd get a pretty good snapshot of my life back then.  You'd hear about Donna the Sales Assistant (purr), Crazy Debbie, Doll-Baby, The Devilbitch, etc.  You'd hear about production at U-92, and my show at WSJT.  You'd certainly hear about alcohol.  I remember writing things like, "Well, I'm on Drink #4, and with Van Morrison blasting, it seems to me…"

I said a lot, probably a lot about nothing.  One thing I do remember, for some reason, is that each night's writing would start out crisp and sharp, and invariably end up with something like "AND aS VAn Moorrson' badn craNks THE HORRNS THAR WIL BLARE AS WE ENTER HELl IM carashign."

I remember jamming a lot to Van's A Night in San Francisco cd, one of the best live albums ever.  Sometimes, literally jamming, when I'd pick up my 50's Reissue Strat and raise noiseful joy to Dionysis.

Long story short, only John ever read these.  When I die, all of those rambling upchucks of whiskey soaked brain fluff will only be accessible to him.  In fact, they are now, and not even to him if he's (wisely) recycled the things. That computer is long gone.

In Denise's case, though, her words and observations are still on Vox, available for anyone to read.  Since 2008, virtually all of my now-whiskey-starved ramblings are here on my blob.  It's an odd sort of immortality.  I've spent hours reading one Vox page referenced by one of my neighbors, and the writer had been killed in a motorcycle wreck before I found her.  Her stories were still compelling, and–as with many Vox friends–I felt like I really knew her.  Somebody sent me a link to a Tampa Bay Radio website that has a picture and bio of me.  I don't know who put up the site, or where they got the information.  Maybe that's my immortality.  That, and these pages.

I hope people can discover Denise through her Vox page, even though she's left us.  Some of her posts have pictures of her hands and feet, twisted by her painful disease.  I like thinking that wherever she is now, her body is no longer a painful prison.  Where she is now, she can dance. 

 

And back here in un-Paradise, we can still get a feel for a wonderful human being.  Thanks, Denise.  And happy dancing!

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Happy Anniversary!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2010 by tom

Forty five years ago today, on June 12th 2010, my parents were married.  When I was young, the bedroom where I usually slept at my grandparents' house had pictures from their wedding.  I remember seeing smiles on their young faces, that sort of smile that said, "We don't know what the future holds, but by God, we're ready to face it together."

Well, they've been happy together since two years before "Happy Together" was even recorded.  They had two sons, Marky and me, and they've been the best parents possible.  In fact, they're the parents all my friends always liked more than they liked me.

Please do me a favor, and leave a comment wishing them Happy Anniversary and noting where you are (you can even wish them Happy Anniversary in your native language, if you want).  Thanks!

So Happy Anniversary, mom & dad.  Thanks for everything, and here's to many more. (and sorry about the no grandchildren thing)

 

 

(A pic of my parents with my little brother, who'd done something wrong):

 

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Saturday Night Stuff

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2010 by tom

Five years ago this moment, I was taking one last stab at drinking myself to death.  I was in a Days Inn motel room on Gulf to Bay in Clearwater.  I had some Sonny's Barbecue, three packs of Marlboro 100's, and a half-gallon of Jim Beam.  I made it through most of the bottle, one pack of cigarettes, and a goodly portion of the barbecue before I passed out.

Five years ago tomorrow, I had a 2:30pm appointment to check-in to Foggy Acres Nutbin.  My rationale was that if I woke up on June 6th, I'd go to my appointment.  If not, well, it wouldn't be any real worry of mine, right?

I woke up.  I felt like a sack of smashed assholes*, but I was awake.  I crawled into the shower, found a Quarter Pounder with Cheese store, and drove to Foggy Acres. 

I sat with the Intake Counselor, which to me sounded like she'd be comparing what I'd been drinking to some sort of chart.  I think her name was Michelle.  Turns out, she was a fan of my radio show.  Great news for me! I didn't have a roommate my entire time.

She took all my insurance information, all my particulars, emergency contacts, etc.  It was about an hour long interview.  She told me the nurse would finish checking me in at 4:30, and that I could wait in the lobby. 

The lobby had really nice leather wing-back chairs, and I sat in one.  Then I decided I needed to leave for a minute. I got in the USS Nimitz and drove down to a 7-Eleven.  I picked up a few more packs of cigarettes, a Diet Pepsi, and some hard candy.  As I walked out of the 7-Eleven, it dawned on me that I was perfectly free to go home, never to return to Foggy Acres again. 

I made it back.  Naturally, the Intake Counselor and nurse were a bit worried.  Maybe I should have told them I was leaving.  Whoops.

Anyway, the nurse took me down to my room, and opened my suitcase.  She took my cellphone and my candy, damn her, and decided that my clothes needed washing.  She took my laundry down to the laundry room and directed me again to sit in the lobby.  What I soon learned was that I was under suicide watch, and they wanted to keep an eye on me.  Apparently, if you're going to do yourself in, you're going to do it in the first three days there. 

I waited. The nurse checked my vitals.  Then I waited.  I kept seeing people walk by–they seemed to be relatively happy.  At that moment, I didn't think I'd ever be that happy, even less that I'd be sharing happiness with other people.  I was almost completely imploded by that point.  I worked, and I drank.  I didn't have actual friends whom I actually saw.  I had coworkers, relatives, and listeners, and not one of them knew how bad my life had gotten.

One of the techs gave me clean bedding and a pillow for my bed.  This was great, except that I wasn't allowed to go to my room alone yet.  So I sat there with a stack of sheets.  A few of the people smiled and said hi to me as they walked by.  I waved back, my eyes averted.

Finally, the doctor arrived.  She asked me some questions, wrote some things on my chart, and sent me back out to my chair.  The nurse came and got me, dragging me to the nurses station.  There, she gave me a small cup full of pills and a cup of the coldest, most delicious water on the planet.  I took my pills like a good boy, then returned to my chair.  I've forgotten my techs' names, for the most part.  I don't remember who was working that night, but apparently, she could tell when it was finally time to go to my room.  I imagine my eyes glazed over as the Ativan started working on me.  She took me back.  I changed clothes and fell into bed.  Every 15 minutes, my door opened, and a tech stuck her head in my room, just making sure I hadn't hanged myself or anything.

Good luck with that.  My ceiling was double-vaulted, and probably 15 feet high.  The shower curtain rod was flimsy, and was about even with the bridge of my nose.  Plus, I was now a liquid.

I slept hard.  Around 0200, a tech came in and brought me more pills and water.  I babbled something and took them.  Yay. Out again.  Around 5am, the vampires came into my room.

Okay, they weren't really vampires.  They were phlebotomists, who collected several little tubes of blood from my left arm.  At some point during the night, I fell out of my bed.  Two techs brought in a new bed with rails.  I only vaguely remembered it the next day, but I'm sure it was hysterical.

At 7am, Amanda the tech came into my room.  She took my temp and blood pressure, gave me some more pills, and waited while I went to the bathroom (just to make sure I didn't fall down and go boom).  Back to sleep. People still kept checking in on me every 15 minutes.  Around 1130, Amanda woke me up again.  This time, we went to see my psychiatrist, whom I saw every day I was there. Every. Single. Day.  The first meeting was a half hour.  We talked about my battles with depression, and how much I was drinking.  Most days, we only met about five or ten minutes. He adjusted my meds as needed, and wrote me a prescription for two cups of coffee a day.  (That was the only way you could get caffeinated beverages–it had to be prescribed, but the nurses made the best coffee in the world)  Anyway, that day, he prescribed me a new antidepressant, and told me to go see the nurse.  The nurse gave me more pills and cold, delicious water.  Then Amanda took me to the dining room.  I ate some lunch, then returned to my bed.

Basically, for the first three days I was at Foggy Acres, I repeated this scenario.  My counselor, Chris, invited me in for an introductory consultation.  I kept nodding off. He told me to go back to bed, and we'd try again later.

After three days, the Ativan was reduced.  I found out later that I was on such a huge-ass amount of tranquilizers to keep me from having potentially deadly withdrawal seizures. Within ten days, I was off of Ativan altogether, and I hadn't slept so well in years.

I also joined the rest of the people in the Foggy Acres chemical dependency world.  We had sessions together, some of them informative and fun, others of them excruciatingly painful.  I found friends in that place–I even gave and received hugs.  The third week, in fact, the group elected me their president.  I led meetings and mediated disputes.

One of the most deflating things they told us in class was that–statistically–only two out of our class of 20 would still be sober within one year.  Five years later, I still am (as are my three best friends from rehab, I'm happy to say). 

If I hadn't summoned the courage to walk into that place, I'd be dead by now.  That's scary to think.

The Fournier's adventure almost killed me, but that didn't require much thought: this hurts and I'm obviously sick, so I need to go to the hospital.  With drinking, it was different.  I had to admit to myself that I was sick, and I've had to keep working not to relapse.

It's gotten easier, thank God–I've even quit smoking, finally. 

One thing that didn't improve after my 30 days at Foggy Acres was writing.  I used to get lit and write every night, and I found that it was impossible for me to write without "liquid thesaurus."  Then, in October of 2007, my friend Ali got me to join Vox.  In the 2.5 years since, I've relearned how to write.  That was one benefit.  The greater benefit is that I've had the opportunity to express myself (and make fun of stuff, of course), and I've made a lot of friends.  Vox is a pain in the ass sometimes, technically speaking.  YOU are the main reason I stay here.

So thanks to all the people who've helped me along the way.  Thanks to The Universe/God/The Big Whatever, for the last five years have been miraculous.  And thanks to you.

And to Jim Beam's starving grandchildren, I'm sorry.

Happy Weekend!

 

*-"I feel like a sack of smashed assholes" is still the most accurate simile to describe my hangovers (thanks, Pete!)

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