Archive for September, 2010

Wednesday Night: Great Expectorations

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2010 by tom

One of my parents’ best friends is an ordained Baptist minister, and he’s probably the second most laid-back individual I’ve ever met.  This is because he worked for himself. 

No, he wasn’t a freelance minister, a sort of gun-for-hire for God.  Simply, he got his degree and certification, then decided that he didn’t like the ministry industry (mindustry?), so he started his own wallpaper-hanging business.  He worked hard, built his reputation, and made a great deal of money.  Best of all, he never had to work for anyone or with anyone.  He was his own boss, and his own employee.

I can understand the appeal of that, quite honestly.I’m a fairly laid-back individual myself, but I work with and for people who get very agitated.  I’m skilled at using voice-tone and wit to defuse tense situations, and my intelligence and creativity to help solve problems.  Yay, tom.

The reason I mention Don (we’ll refer to the wallpaper minister guy as Don, because that’s his name), is that I was on the phone with a very agitated client.  I explained myself repeatedly and clearly, and she just didn’t want to hear what I was saying.  She wanted a better answer.  She was, for lack of a better term, a whining sack of shit.  While this lady was yapping into my snot-muffled ears, I saw a guy painting the wall to my left.  He was calm and quiet.  He painted the entire wall, trim and all, in about a half hour.  It’s flawless. 

I should confess: I have both painted walls and hung wallpaper in my life, and I did both of these things quite badly.  Neatness, planning, meticulousness? I’m not your best choice.  If you need e-mails written with proper spelling and punctuation? I’m your guy.

That said, while I admired the zen-like calm the painting guy showed, I don’t know that that would be a good job for me.  Nor do I think I’d be successful at running my own business.

Some part of me needs the drama. I need to have a problem thrown at me, and I need to use my mad skillz to fix it. Some days, I wish the Universe were dropping fewer questions on my plate; most days, I wish people would whine substantially less.

Six years ago, I was a mess. I couldn’t deal with real people and real problems. Fortunately, I had a job where I didn’t have to.

Today, I’m glad to be in a position to fix things. My world certainly has glaring flaws–you’ll be able to tell when I’ve figured everything out, because I’ll be DEAD–but I guess my revelation was that while the part of me that was dealing with a whining ingrate yearned for the quiet calm of the painter guy, the whining sacks of fecal matter and drama junkies make for better stories.


Monday Night in NyQuil Village

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2010 by tom


This cold has really started to piss me off.  Saturday night, I felt reasonably on the mend. Then Sunday was a bit “meh.” Monday, I awoke feeling like crap again.

I’m not whining.  I know it’s just a cold.  Believe me, I know that in the pantheon of illness, this is a minor inconvenience.

I have a free-lance job editing/rewriting the newsletter articles for a homeowners association in Tampa.  Every month or two, they e-mail me articles their volunteers write, and I Freshman Comperize them, adding commas, correcting tenses, etc.  In other words, I’m fixing other people’s stuff, not Tom-ifying the newsletter.  If I did…

Ginger Sister hit the University Parkway exit ramp at 90, downshifted, and headed west. Ahead on the left, she saw the 7-Eleven where she was to receive her orders.  The gull-wing door opened, and Ginger Sister hopped out of the Maserati, making sure the punky teens with droopy pants and sideways hats caught a glimpse of her chromed Desert Eagle.

“Don’t even THINK it, you little pudwhackers.”

Ginger walked into the store.  “Good Lord,” she thought. “Every 7-Eleven is laid-out the same.”  She grabbed two packs of pink coconut Hostess Snowballs, a three liter jug of screwtop wine, and a handful of beef jerkies.  She never knew what her partner’s munchies would require.  “This and a pack of Kool 100’s.”

Ginger Sister dropped a fifty on the counter, grabbed her bag, and walked back out to the parking lot.

By now, a big black Escalade was parked next to the Maserati. 

“You ready?” The husky voice of the red-haired girl in black leather asked.

“Glad you made it, Linds.  I was afraid you’d have to go back to jail or rehab or Azkaban.”

Lindsay Lohan smiled at her best friend. “Nah.  Wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

Ginger Sister hit the remote button, and both doors opened. 

“What are we doing?”
“I hate to say it.  Just drive.”

Lindsay pulled out a specially programmed GPS unit, and gave directions. The big coupe rumbled through Riverwood Hills, never exceeding the 25 mph speed limit.

“It’s just around the next curve on the right.”

And there it was.  The home of Vernon and Tabitha Blankenship, with a minivan parked on the grass and a garage door in dire need of painting.  The girls gasped at the blatant deed restrictions violations.

“Okay, Gingie.  You take care of the door, and I’ll correct the car.”

Lindsay grabbed her gym bag and crawled under the minivan.  On the grass below the gas tank, she dumped out a quart of granulated pool chlorine. She twisted the lid off of a conetop can of brake fluid.  Then she poured the fluid over the chlorine.

She squirmed out from under the van, just as Ginger Sister launched her LAWS rocket at the filthy, ugly garage door. The girls jumped back in the car, and roared off into the night.

As they sped back by the Blankenship home, Lindsay’s chemicals had reacted, causing a giant white-hot flame, which ignited the gas tank, and released a cloud of toxic chlorine gas.  The garage was blown to bits, and the girls could hear the boom as the minivan exploded.

“Bet those dumbasses will never violate their deed restrictions again,” said Lindsay, drinking deeply from the bottle.  “God, I could go for a Snowball right now.”

Ginger Sister smiled, and tossed a pack of pink snack globes to her best friend.

“Who loves ya, Linds?”

Yeah.  I don’t get to write stuff like that for the HOA newsletter.  But at dinner tonight, Abby paid me, and I went to Walgreens and bought some NyQuil, and thus I think I’ll feel better tomorrow.  Have a great Tuesday, and for God’s sake, you don’t want to see what Ginger Sister and LiLo will do if your lawn is overgrown.

Goody Goody Gumdrops: Saturday Mental Chex Mix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 25, 2010 by tom


  • After a week of coughing and horking, my brain pattern has been recorded as you see above.
  • And just like that, it’s Saturday again.  Another work week has blurred by, and I’m left to smite my way through tomFriday
  • Snotstock ’10 had a brilliant run.  My body is in the physiological equivalent of cleaning up after 600,000 hippies.
  • Meaning, I don’t think there’s any new snot production occurring, but the Yazgur’s Farm that is my sinus-lung system is getting rid of a week’s worth of inventory.
  • I just imagined a bunch of antibodies walking through my lungs and sinuses, poking those little sticks with nails on them, picking up dead cold stuff, and putting the germ carcasses in a shoulder bag before dumping them en masse into the cough tank.
  • One of the most enduring gross images I’ve encountered was from my friend Adam.  One day back in AP Biology class, apropos of nothing, Adam looked at me and said, “Did you ever notice that when you swish mucous through your teeth, it kinda tastes like drawn butter?”
  • It kinda does.
  • Staceypunkin is working OT today.  She’s contentedly cutting things up into little pieces, as is her wont.
  • There was a time, many moons ago, when I sat next to Staceypunkin at work.  I was working the ungodly early shift, 0630 till 1500.  In my prework stupor, I’d stumble in to the 7-Eleven, and purchase a large vessel of coffee.  For some reason, they had these rubber toy lizards for sale. 
  • Well, I bought one for Staceypunkin.  She loved it.  So the next day, she came in, and there was another lizard on her desk.  This repeated, until she had the complete set of four.
  • One of her filing cabinets became “the lizard garage,” where the four lizards would reside when not being played with. 
  • Finally, I was able to change my hours to 1500-0130. Hooray! More tom-friendly hours.
  • I came in one afternoon, and there was a pile of very tiny, very neat little pieces of rubber. 
  • There was also a lizard with no tail.
  • Gradually, the lizards would lose teeth, lips, tails, toes, and at least one was completely autopsied, and emptied of whatever lizard stuffing was inside it.
  • Staceypunkin really enjoys cutting things into pieces. 
  • But that’s okay.  It keeps her off the streets.
  • I wouldn’t want her to cut up my pizza though.
  • Pity she wasn’t around during the Manhattan Project.  She could’ve split the atom with her sharp little scissors.
  • Then again, I’d have a Punkin who was a hundred years old, instead of 19 or whatever she is. 😉
  • If you hate gumdrops, would you be offended when somebody says “Goody goody gumdrops?”
  • I like gumdrops, but I think that’s a dumb expression, although it’s far more melodic than “Goody goody Chik-o-Stix.”
  • Chik-o-Stix are yummy, perhaps even moreso than gumdrops. 
  • For most of my life, Chik-o-Stix were only known as “crap that ends up in your Halloween bag and is never available any other time,” along with MaryJanes and Bit-O-Honey’s.
  • Staceypunkin liked Almond Joys and Mounds.  Because, sometimes she feels like a nut, and…
  • I lament that there are no longer catchy jingles for products. 
  • Seriously, the first time I played Natasha Bedingfield on the radio, I thought, “OMG! Somebody made a song out of that stupid Zayles commercial!”
  • When I was a kid, back in the 20th Century, there were jingles.  “Burger King,” you say?
  • “Hold the pickles hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way.”
  • I won a radio contest when I was ten, because I was able to sing the “Big Mac” jingle: “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. Bah-doo-doo-doo, Big Mac Big Mac Big Mac Big Mac…”
  • Those of you who remember are cursing me right now. 😀
  • Know who wrote a lot of commercial jingles??
  • Barry Manilow.
  • Know who else wrote a lot of commercial jingles??
  • Satan.
  • It’s the Dark One’s fault I spent years of my life fruitlessly looking for the Honeycomb Hideout.
  • Percentage of Honeycomb Hideout denizens who went on to make Big Mac’s professionally? 100%.
  • Looking back, I find it hilarious that there was a shack in the woods, and assorted hippie-ish kids would go, hang out, and rebelliously eat Honeycombs cereal.
  • What they didn’t show was the joints they passed around, inspiring those munchies only through which Honeycombs cereal elicited foodgasm.
  • If Stacey had been there, she’d have chopped all the Honeycombs into tiny crumbs.
  • Of course, she was still a zygote when the Honeycomb Hideout gang pulled their last bonghit.
  • Zygote sounds like part of a German phrase.
  • “Es sieht als ob es regnet wird und unsere Zygote ist nicht frei.”
  • As they say at Burger Koenig, “Hast es eure Weg.”
  • The countdown is on till NyQuil time, and the start of tomweekend.  Happy Saturday.

Saturday Mental Chex Mix (Live from Snotstock ’10)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 18, 2010 by tom
  • I have a cold. 
  • It’s the middle of our Florida summer, 91 degrees outside, and invariably someone will tell me, “Summer colds are the worst!”
  • Do they say that about other diseases?
  • “Oh, poor thing! Summer sarcoidosis is the worst!” “Summer endometriosis is the WORST!”
  • Is there really a designated good season to be sick? I can’t recall ever saying, “What a lovely winter day! Know what I need? Fournier’s gangrene!”
  • One of the coolest bits of dialog in any movie is this: in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.  (Orson Welles in “The Third Man”)
  • Graham Greene wrote the screenplay, but Orson Wells came up with that memorable little nugget. 
  • “The Third Man” is an awesome film, one of my favorites, but to me, Orson Welles steals it when he’s on the screen.
  • Other otherwise-good films that are stolen by one actor? Alec Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Dennis Hopper in “Blue Velvet.” Ben Kingsley in “Sexy Beast.”
  • I’d also put Val Kilmer in “Tombstone” on there, but he was in a huge number of scenes.  I liked the film fine, but good Lord, was Kilmer a great Doc Holliday.
  • I’m not an actor, much less a good one, but I can see myself getting a copy of the “Tombstone” screenplay, and thinking, “Wha?? How the hell am I supposed to say `I’m your huckleberry,’ and `You’re a daisy if you do,’ and not sound like a complete goofball?”
  • Instead, it became celluloid awesomeness.
  • I recently acquired “Dead Like Me” on DVD. 
  • The series, if you’ve never seen it, is centered around an 18 year-old girl who is killed in a freak accident.  Instead of “moving on,” she’s assigned to a small squad of Grim Reapers, who are assigned “reaps,” and remove a body’s soul before their painful death.
  • Dead Like Me only lasted two seasons on Showtime, but the last episode was beautiful in its resolution.
  • When I got through the final episode, I went back and watched the Pilot again, while listening to the commentary track. 
  • Yes, I’m that nerd that listens to the director commentary, if it’s a film I truly like. 
  • For example: “Love, Actually”? Yes.  The commentary track, with the director, plus Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, and the kid is spectacular and often very funny (eg, Hugh Grant keeps mocking Colin Firth’s acting ability)
  • “Talladega Nights”? Nope.  Couldn’t care less how or why things were done.  Amusing film, but I have no curiosity (except maybe how John C Reilly ended up in it)
  • In the commentary for “Hamlet 2,” the director paid a lovely compliment for Phoebe Strole, the megatalented Broadway musical actress who played a dorky high school girl: “And she can hit that note eleven ways to Sunday.  With a knife in her throat.”
  • It was a helluva note.
  • Due to the cold, I feel like I have an atmosphere, as if there is about a two inch thick layer of virus-laden sick-sweat vapor hovering above my skin.
  • After the chili cook-off the other night, my atmosphere would probably look like Neptune’s, which appears blue due to the methane content.
  • But it brings out the blue in my eyes. 😀
  • Sorry.
  • My favorite person today is Jenn the Dame, who brought me the “Zack & Miri Make a Porno” dvd earlier, then a large McDonald’s iced coffee a few minutes ago.
  • I hadn’t requested the beverage, so I asked her why she got it for me.  “I just love watching their heads explode when I order it.  They can’t fathom that you just want a cup with ice and coffee.  The girl fought to put cream, sugar, and some sort of flavor in it.  It was entertaining.”
  • God bless Jenn the Dame.
  • The picture at the top of this writhing ball of tormented electrons is my belly button, photographed with my new atmosphere. 🙂
  • One of the coolest things about being owned by a cat is that they can tell when I’m sick. 
  • Beyond that, they seem to be able to sense the severity of the malady. 
  • I reiterate: I have a cold.  Ana-Sofia Vargas lounged beside me while I slept, as opposed to lording it over all creation from her perch.
  • note: not “her perch” meaning a beloved fish woobie, but “her perch” meaning a carpet covered throne-type platform thing.
  • When I had the Fournier’s a few years ago, she wouldn’t leave my side.  She seemed to know I was very, very ill.
  • Noted cat detractor Craig Ferguson would say, “She was waiting for you to kick, so that she could eat you.”
  • Ana-Sofia Vargas would never eat me, for I’m not made out of Meow Mix.
  • Wind wouldn’t hesitate.
  • And he farts so much, my already methane-rich atmosphere would be even bluer.
  • Fine with me.  After all, we’re supposed to recycle, right?  
  • Have a great Saturday. (and somebody bring me some NyQuil!) 🙂

Head Full o’ Puddin

Posted in Uncategorized on September 17, 2010 by tom


At work Thursday, we had a chili cook-off.  Back in the day, I used to make a really good pot of chili, however, that recipe is long gone.  Also, I don’t know that I could duplicate my chili’s flammable élan whilst cooking sober.

I don’t generally eat at work. Typically, I consume large quantities of caffeinated beverages, and that gets me through the long night.  When I eat at work, it sort of cancels out my caffeine buzz, and leaves me drowsy and unexcited about working (vs. alert and unexcited about working).

A couple months ago, I somehow ended up on what I half-jokingly call “The Enforced Fun Committee.” We are responsible for putting together monthly themed contests and subcontests, which our superiors have decided are good for morale.


Anyway, I’m appallingly bad at organizing things, but I ended up drafted for one simple ability: to write sarcastic, funny e-mails making dumb stuff sound still dumb, but less-annoying.  Years of writing really good ad copy for really bad clients finally paid a dividend.

The chili cook-off e-mails were apparently amusing enough that we had a table just filled with simmering Crock Pots, like cauldrons in Snape’s potions dungeon.  We had enough methane-producing chili to power Los Angeles for a month.

Like I said: I don’t eat at work.  However, as part of the Enforced Fun Committee, I was cajoled into enjoying a bowelful.

Sorry, BOWLful.

Two deviled eggs and a bowl of chili later, and I was ready to curl up under my desk for a few hours.  Couldn’t do it. Rats. (Note: I mean “rats” as an interjection, like “shitfuck” or “crudmuffins,” not as in “I couldn’t sleep underneath my desk, because vermin would carry me off.”)

So I trudged groggily back to my desk, and resumed my Thursday evening toil.  It was a pleasant enough evening. My coworkers and I had a great time and lots of good food, and I left before everyone started making trombone noises with their netherquarters.

What led me to this point (ie, one eye open, writing on the DorkFone’s WP app) was that I knew what would happen when I ate at work, but I did it anyway.

I thought of other things I’ve encountered in life, wherein the rules are plain to see and incontrovertible, but I disregard them anyway.

When I was 14, my buddy and I spent an enjoyable afternoon lighting WD-40 on fire.  “CAUTION! FLAMMABLE! KEEP AWAY FROM FLAMES” became, “DUDE! FLAMMABLE! HOLD A LIGHTER IN FRONT OF THE SPRAYHEAD, AND YOU CAN SHOOT BADASS TEN FOOT FLAMES”

In college, and for a dozen or more years after, “Do NOT drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication” was a challenge; “do NOT exceed recommended dose” was a dare. 

Through no fault of my own, I managed to live through my head full of puddin’ days.  Life has given me plenty of opportunities to become a cautionary tale. Thankfully, like Gloria Gaynor (and Cake), I have survived, and avoided being “the poor stupid sumbitch who…”

Tonight was close. I nearly became “that poor stupid sumbitch who ate at work, and passed right the hell out at his desk.”

Thank God, some lady across the room started playing scales on a baritone sax.  Oh, Lord, I hope that’s what that was (and why did the fire alarms go off??).

Happy Friday. 

To Vox: so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen good night

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2010 by tom


Thanks, Vox. And good night.

I SAID GOOD (Roald Dahl) DAY, SIR!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 by tom


Way back in second grade, Mrs Maultsby loved to read us stories.  In my memory, she looks and sounds just like Della Reese.

One of the stories she read us was “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Every school day, I couldn’t wait to get back from lunch, because that was storytime.  We laughed and thrilled and worried, and we probably gasped a few times as well.

After that, she read some other book, before launching into “James and the Giant Peach.” Wow.  Another thrilling tale.

Around that time, ABC showed “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” as their Friday Night Movie. It was okay.

Now, it’s one of my favorites, but back then, fresh from hearing Mrs Maultsby read it, I was a little disappointed.

I was also disappointed one Christmas, when somebody gave me “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” a collection of short stories.  While I remembered those two novels from second grade, the author’s name didn’t register. I put it in my closet. A couple years later, my family was packing for a huge roadtrip out west, and I was packing every book I could find.

I read “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” cover to cover, then started right back at the beginning, enraptured.

A couple decades later, I did that with the first Harry Potter book.

Roald Dahl was amazing, with the same joyous coconspiratorial Kindernfreude shown by Dr Seuss.  Both of them took winking pokes at silly grown-ups, whose eyes were blinded to wonder.

I think my copy of “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” probably got sold at a yard sale, or taken to the used book store to exchange for something new.  I read it ten times if I read it once, and I remember loving each of those stories on its own terms.  I get the impression Roald Dahl loved each of his books the same way.  And I toast him tonight, grateful for his genius, and better off for having met him, all those years ago, in a cold dumpy house near a chocolate factory.

%d bloggers like this: