Sunday, December 12, 2010


It's that time of year when I look through the stuff I've written on behalf of my alter-ego and decide what's worth reading and what should be ripped to shreds and thrown into a roaring fire.

So here's my holiday list of Thistle gems posted from 2010.


I know almost nothing about horror films, since I rarely watch them. But this I know. A woman, being chased by a lunatic with a large knife or other weapon with life-taking potential, will always trip and fall.
(discover more annoying movie bromides in this post dated May 16th)


We all need to know what's going on in the news. What we don't need is some lamebrain reporter telling us in painstaking detail how to build a bomb to achieve the most devastating effect.
(learn how easy it is to blow stuff up in this post dated May 4th)


Instead of scouting colleges all over the country, scouts should spend time in prisons talking to wardens.
(a revealing update on football felons in a post dated April 30th)


The breaking news from the Middle East this year was that earthquakes are caused by promiscuous women. I had suspected this all along, but never had any hard evidence to confirm my beliefs until now.
(an Iranian cleric explains it all in this post dated April 23rd)


For reasons that defy explanations, we sometimes say things to people that make no sense and can't be retrieved once we spit them out.
(abandon all rational thought in this post dated March 16th)


Far too much effort and money is spent trying to think positively. And don't ask if I prefer a glass that's half full or half empty. If you're going to give me a glass of something, fill the damn thing up.
(look on the bright side of failure and incompetence – February 15th)


Planets are too distant to get emotionally involved with and most of them, as you're about to learn, are poorly named.
(why Earth is a lousy name for the place we live – February 6th)


Yolanda has a pimple on her nose … Meg takes long walks when she's upset … Clyde's favorite day is Wednesday … Larry enjoyed sausages for breakfast … Ed waxed his floor … Tim couldn't get a song out of his head.
(to explore a mecca for meaningless exchanges, check out January 6th)

To read these top Thistle stories in their unabridged and far more satisfying versions, just keep strolling down the page until you find the dates that match the stories.

If you write and leave a comment that's clever, funny, insightful, or charmingly insulting, I will write back acknowledging your astute remark.

CAUTION. There will be no cash prizes for the best comment. On the other hand, there will be no malevolent zingers for comments that are idiotic.


Thursday, November 11, 2010


I'm having trouble letting go of Daylight Saving Time. I can't help clinging to those long summer evenings that last until almost 9 at night. And who in their right mind could blame me.

The truth is, I don't like falling back, I like springing ahead. In fact, given the power, I would dump Standard Time and stick with Daylight Saving Time all year long. Don't just shrug your shoulders, think about it!

Our fall replacement, Standard Time, tries to justify itself by giving you one more hour of light in the morning. Big whoop!

According to my biased research, Ben Franklin introduced Daylight Saving Time way back in 1784. Now you have to admit, Ben had a lot of good ideas. This particular one floated around until World War 2, when Congress finally figured out that a fuel shortage could be offset by delaying darkness and adding another hour of natural light.

During the early rounds of negotiation, Congress argued that losing that hour of morning light would make it harder for people to wake up. Old Ben countered that we could ring church bells early every morning. And if that didn't work, we could fire off some cannons.

My additional research revealed that Daylight Saving Time is a big saver of energy – about 10,000 barrels of oil a day. Now I did look this up on the internet so it could be off by a few thousand barrels. But even so, I think a solid case is being built here.

Standard Time, also an act of Congress, was unleashed on this country in 1917 when we were too busy fighting the Germans to realize what was going on. Besides, it was no big deal when alarm clocks and pocket watches were all we had to mess with.

But today we've got all kinds of timepieces: wrist watches, car clocks, answering machines, coffee makers, oven timers, microwaves, DVD'S. And just be glad you're not the manager of a store like Tourneau Corner or Swatch Watches.

As for that extra hour of sleep, you can kiss that goodbye when you start changing 15 or 20 timing devices, depending on how techie you are.

It's bad enough we have to live with 8 time-zone changes. Let's at least get rid of one mindless chore we can all do without.

Now I'm not advocating a march on Washington, sending letters to your congressmen, or camping out on the White House lawn with signs that read: “SPRING AHEAD YES, FALL BACK NO!”

I'm just trying to rile you up and make you realize how your life is being manipulated and made needlessly complicated by creeps in Washington.

I'm betting you have better things to do than changing all those damn time pieces twice a year just because Congress, in their infinite wisdom, thinks it's a neat idea.

SPRING AHEAD is my story and I'm sticking with it. And I'm sure if Ben Franklin was still around, he'd back me up.


Monday, September 6, 2010


If predictions suddenly ceased to exist, the world wouldn't miss them. If not a total waste of time, they come as close to total waste as you can get.

In ancient Greece and Rome, military generals used to slaughter birds and chickens. Then with military precision and much deliberation, they would read the entrails. You know, intestines, guts, liver, bowels. Sickening stuff reminiscent of your typical medical series on TV.

The butchering was not done out of spite or total disregard for the lives of harmless animals. No, nothing savage like that from generals at war. The objective was simply to predict the outcome of an upcoming battle.

I'm sure you're all familiar with Nostradamus and his predictions. The only thing he did predict accurately was his own death. On the evening of July 1, 1556, he is said to have told his secretary, “You will not find me alive at sunrise.” And true to his word, when the sun rose, he didn't.

For no reason that anyone can justify, we celebrate Groundhog Day on February 2nd every year. Legend has it that if the groggy groundhog emerges from hibernation and sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter weather. So the determining factor in this esteemed tradition is whether the day happens to be sunny or cloudy.

Supposedly this pagan ritual began in Pennsylvania in the 18th century in a town with the unlikely name of Punxsutawney. The groundhog, named “Punxsutawney Phil” usually performs his prediction before an audience of 40,000 people and plenty of media coverage. Food is served, speeches are made, and every so often someone handling the hog is bitten and requires a shot for rabies.

Fortune telling, often practiced by gypsies, is the profitable art of pretending to predict people's futures. You could also toss into this group palm readers, clairvoyants, psychics, mystics, financial brokers, and those who read palms, tea leaves, crystal balls, and the bumps on your head. The only prediction you could make when dealing with these people on a regular basis is that your bank account will mysteriously dwindle.

Even fortune cookies – those crisp little cookies with words of wisdom on a twisted piece of paper--get to play the prediction game.

A secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection.

Plan for many pleasures ahead.

Something you lost will soon turn up.

Happy news is on its way.

Flattery will go far tonight.

Sometimes we even find ourselves relying on things like a rabbit's foot, horseshoes, and 4-leaf clovers to bring us good luck in the future. Or we avoid black cats crossing our paths and walking under ladders to make sure we don't jinx whatever good luck we might have.

Forecasting the weather most certainly comes under the heading of Thermal Lows. First of all, half of the Meteorologists have trouble pronouncing the word. Or sound like they're drunk when they say it. Instead of MEE-tee-ur-ol-uh-jist, it often comes out meaty-ol-uh-jist. Or they totally slur the word and it comes out ME-ur-ol-a-jist.

The least they can do is pick an occupation they can pronounce.

Speaking of weather, I don't need to know if the barometer is rising or falling or going sideways. I have no idea what it is and I don't want to be enlightened. If the weather man can correctly guess what the weather will be like tomorrow morning, I'm happy.

What makes me mad are those 5-day forecasts. Are they a joke or what? Has anybody ever accurately predicted 5 days of weather? And please get those weather guys a freaking window so they don't say, “Right now it's sunny in Manhattan” when it's been raining for the past two hours.

And let's not forget the guys who walk around with signs and grim faces predicting THE END OF THE WORLD! Judging from signs throughout the ages, the end could come in the form of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, tidal waves, famines, false prophets, deadly asteroids, and a calamitous abundance of loud advertising commercials.

Let's hope the world won't end on a Friday and spoil everyone's weekend.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


If you can believe The American Medical Association, roughly 70% of all U.S. Homes are lived in by dysfunctional members. Or nutjobs, in case the medical term wasn't clear.

Maybe that explains why we're inundated by this dilemma. It's hard to read a book, watch a movie, see a play, or poke fun at a TV sitcom without being reminded that most families are deeply disturbed.

And sometimes, rather than treat it as an embarrassing blight on our society, we choose to make light of it.

The Simpsons and Family Guy are two extremely popular and somewhat amusing TV cartoon shows that owe their very existence to aberrant family behavior.

Equally disturbing and confusing is the current trend of quitting a perfectly good and probably lucrative job to spend more time with a loopy family or impaired family member.

Before committing to such a radical and life-altering change, anyone considering this absurdity might want to give some thought to the following lengthy question.

Will whoever you're quitting your job for want to have you around for the rest of his or her life deciding what foods they should eat, which beverages are appropriate, whether they've had enough sleep, and how much exercise they need to lead a healthy and happy life?

The news is filled with stories about successful people active in politics, business, and sports retiring to spend more time with their families.

To give you a recent example, Lou Piniella, the 67-year-old Manager of the Chicago Cubs--the 14th winningest manager in baseball history, the second manager to have 1700 hits as a player and 1700 wins as a manager--has just quit his job to take care of his ailing mother in Florida.

Is that really a good idea?

I mean, it's a nice and kindly thing to do. But for Lou Piniella? “Sweet Lou” is a facetious nickname given to him because of his explosive temper, contempt for umpires, and volatile mood swings.

Lou loved to argue, get in your face, and kick dirt on the shoes of opposing coaches. Getting ejected from games for his sudden outbursts was a common occurrence.

Once, as a player, he was called out at first base. Convinced he was safe, “Sweet Lou” ripped first base out of the ground and threw it into right field.

Imagine what he might do to his ailing mother when she complains about his cooking or tells him to watch his locker-room language. And what if her temper is even worse than his?

Poor Lou might overcook a hamburger and get it thrown in his face – with the plate still attached to it.

Instead of quitting our jobs to spend more time with our families, maybe we should be quitting our families to spend more time with our jobs.


Saturday, August 14, 2010


Nobody is claiming that BULLSHIT as an expletive, or utterance of contempt, is lacking in its power to satisfy the one hurling the time-honored profanity.

It's a perfectly fine word and fills the bill for anyone who gets slightly enraged when somebody says something that is clearly false, misleading or tries to pass off some bogus crap as the genuine article.

“BULLSHIT!” you say, and pretty much so does everyone else who is not heading to a monastery to take a vow of silence.

Let's try to break it down. “BULL” means nonsense and dates back to the 17th century. “SHIT” is self-explanatory and probably goes back to the caveman and his early attempts to express revulsion to his crude neighbors.

The evolution of this word probably went something like this.


T.S. Eliot, the poet – in case you think he's a starting pitcher for the Yankees – wrote a poem sometime between 1910 and 1916 that never got published called “The Triumph of Bullshit.”

I guess the poetry lovers back then weren't ready for a poet held in high esteem to launch a potty-mouth tirade.

The point is, BULLSHIT has been around for a long time.

But now it's time for a change, something new and fresh and satisfying to blurt out during times of stress and agitation. The problem is, replacing BULLSHIT won't be easy.

HORSESHIT has been used successfully by some. Still it is no BULLSHIT.

MOOSESHIT … GATORSHIT … RHINOSHIT. All big enough, but somehow none of them carries the weight and gravitas of BULLSHIT.

I will continue to try and come up with an alternative. But if anyone out there has a suitable replacement for BULLSHIT, now is your chance to make a name for yourself.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


Here are some movie scenes I've seen too often.

I know almost nothing about horror films, since I rarely watch them. But I know this. A woman, being chased by a lunatic with a large knife or other weapon with life-taking potential, will always trip and fall.

She can be running on a perfectly level terrain, smooth as glass with nothing on it for miles, and she's going down. Apparently when casting for this role, the ability to trip easily is essential.

Speaking of running, whenever the lead actor realizes he's in love with a girl but didn't know it until the film was almost over, he runs to reach her and announce his undying devotion.

What is this obsession with running? Is there no other way to get to her and pour out his emotions? How about taking a train, bus, cab, or even a horse and carriage? Any one of these modes of transportation would get him there quicker and with less angst and perspiration.

And why don't women in romantic comedies ever run to tell the man of their dreams they can't live without him? Why is the triteness of running such a guy thing?

How come a man and woman destined to have a meaningful relationship start things off by bumping into one another? Could their meeting story not be more inventive? “Tell them how we banged into one another, sweet cheeks.”

To make it funnier, one or the other or both are carrying stuff that when knocked to the floor either breaks or spreads out all over the place. This usually results in a few minutes of awkward apologies, nervous giggles, and dumb dialogue.

Teenage comedies seem to rely on the humor of some guy getting kicked in the crotch, having a ball or other substantial object hurled at his crotch, or anything else having to do with his crotch being whacked and him lying in pain on the ground unable to speak and breathing with difficulty.

The man owning the crotch, if I may speak on behalf of the victim, is probably trying to figure out why his misery is so amusing to millions.

I suppose it's obligatory that I make some mention of filmdom's classic, the car chase. First of all, it's not really a car chase until at least one car bursts into flames and several police cars are demolished.

Then there's the crashing into a truck with crates of live chickens. Almost hitting a woman pushing a baby carriage. And jumping that half-raised bridge, just barely making it, while the trailing car goes flying off into the water.

Of course, no one ever runs out of gas in a car chase. But just once I think it would be fun if they did. “Rocko, if you're gonna be the driver of a getaway car, you gotta check the gas gauge before every holdup.”

Any exchange of shots between a good guy and a bad guy is as predictable as the smell of popcorn at a movie. Bad guys are notoriously bad shots. Armed with enough guns and ammunition to wipe out a small town, “bad guy” would be lucky to hit one fat guy on crutches wearing an illuminated target on his back.

Whereas a good guy wearing thick glasses and guzzling a beer will be able to pick off a skinny villain a hundred yards away using a rusty derringer.

It also strikes me as unlikely that nobody, at least in the movies I watch, ever needs a Kleenex after sex. And perfect strangers having a one-night stand always have an orgasm at the same time. Hey, hurray for Hollywood. Now let's celebrate this dubious triumph with the hackneyed cigarette scene.

In movies, when a lover is severely wounded or dying, nobody ever calls an ambulance or performs CPR. The movie makers think it's better to have the hero hold his loved one tenderly and whisper sweet nothings in her ear until she slumps over dead.

In a suspense movie, anyone saying, “What could possibly happen?” will die a horrible death in a matter of minutes.

Pretty much the same thing will happen in a war movie. Any soldier lovingly showing a picture of his wife or sweetheart –besides getting the usual lewd remarks from his buddies – will soon be shot or blown up by a grenade or something far more current and devastating.

Dogs will always bark at the bad guys. I don't know how they figure this out. It could be the dagger tattoos dripping with blood. Or maybe it's that awful criminal smell no amount of soap and water can destroy.

Jewel thieves are a special breed among criminals. Nothing common about them. They're always sophisticated, well-traveled, highly intelligent, and nimble enough to climb in and out of tight places. They are also incapable of resisting one last job before retiring and living with a hottie in some tropical paradise.

In western movies, a cowboy who hasn't carried a gun in twenty years will be eager to prove that just because he never practices doesn't mean he's not still a crack shot. Usually he borrows a gun from some brain-damaged local, tosses a coin up in the air and puts a bullet through its center.

Having won admiring glances from the crowd, the gunless wonder will then walk away while some typical western music swells to indicate that a victory for law and decency has just been won.

A hero cowboy will often ride away into the sunset after cleaning up a town filled with murderous varmints with absolutely no help from any of its cowardly inhabitants.

Then there's the suspense thrillers. No matter how convinced you are that you've killed a bad guy, he will still rise from the dead and attempt to rip your throat out.

The killer has been stabbed, shot, hit with an anvil, drowned in the tub, and thrown down an elevator shaft. But soon, and miraculously, he will reappear from behind a closed door enraged by the indignities he has suffered at the hands of the man he attempted to maim and slaughter.

It's late at night. The husband and wife are sleeping. Suddenly a loud noise or shot is heard. “I'll check it out, sweetie,” the husband says, armed with nothing but his inflated ego. When he doesn't return after five minutes, the wife ventures out to look for him in her transparent nightie and says, “Honey, are you okay?”

HONEY is not okay and soon SWEETIE will be in big trouble.

P.S. If you have additional gripes about movie bromides and you'd care to share them, send me your comments. If I like them, I'll use them and give you no credit whatsoever.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


News, even though it's mostly bad, is a good thing. We need to know what's going on. But what we don't need is overly detailed information that could prove deadly or even catastrophic to people visiting or living here in New York City.

Take the case of the recent and very scary car bomb incident in the heart of Times Square. The SUV was parked in the theatre district, across the street from “The Lion King.” Nothing blew up, as it turned out, but the car was loaded with propane canisters, petrol, fireworks, gasoline containers, and a hundred pounds of the wrong kind of fertilizer.

Now we're coming to the part that pisses me off.

“The would-be bomber,” we were told by authorities, “packed the car with more than one hundred pounds of fertilizer, but not the kind that would explode.”

Well, thanks for sharing. Maybe if they had stopped there, things would have been fine. But no, they wanted to tell you just how thorough they could be.

“Had the bomber chosen the right kind of fertilizer, the bomb would have had the force of more than 100 pounds of TNT.”

I'm impressed with your ability to dig up information on such short notice. But please, I'm begging you, just shut the hell up!

“Instead of ammonium nitrite, the kind of fertilizer used by Oklahoma City Bomber, Timothy McVeigh, the bomber used a harmless fertilizer,” the spokesman said.

Good one! Instructive! Now we've all got the message. Why get a harmless fertilizer when with the right fertilizer you can easily create a killer fireball that will wreak havoc upon humanity and devastate heavily populated areas.

The newspaper carrying this article has thousands and thousands of readers – some of whom are nutjobs and would be perfectly willing to blow something up if only they knew how.

It's disturbing enough that U.S. Citizens like Faisal Shahzad-- pulled off a flight to Dubai – is willing to spend months, even years thinking up ways to destroy us.

Why aid and abet the enemy? Putting too much “helpful” information in the media is like doing a recruitment ad for wannabe and real terrorists seeking glory and violent deaths.



Friday, April 30, 2010


Instead of scouting colleges all over the country, scouts should spend time in prisons talking to wardens.

Get a list of their nastiest inmates and find out if they can kick, pass, block, run, tackle--and if they enjoy inflicting pain and season-ending injuries on opposing players.

If you think this is far-fetched, here's an NFL reality check.

Charles Grant, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints, was indicted recently for the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Pacman Jones, a Dallas Cowboys corner back, has a rap sheet that hardened criminals would envy. He's been charged with assault and vandalism in a nightclub, a violent habit that began back in his high school days. Jones got in a fight at a strip club and beat a stripper's head against the bar, then threatened to kill one of the club's employees for trying to stop him.

The Dallas Cowboys assigned two burly bodyguards to keep their costly investment out of trouble. He ended up attacking them.

Marshall Lynch, a Buffalo Bills running back, has been arrested for possession of a loaded firearm. Last summer, while driving his luxury SUV, he drove into a woman and sped away. She was left with a bruised hip and 7 stitches. Marshall got fined $100 and received a 3-game suspension. There's no record of his doing time. But then, you probably wouldn't do time either if you were considered the #1 running back in the country.

Tank Johnson, a tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, has been arrested for possession of 6 firearms, resisting arrest, attacking a police officer, and driving while drunk. His coach, Lovey Smith, has been known to visit Tank in jail.

Brandon Marshall, nicknamed “The Beast,” is a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. “The Beast” has been arrested for drunken driving, domestic violence, driving without a license, and punching his fiancee for a reason not yet explained.

Donte Stallworth, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. But with skills like his, I'm guessing he'd be out in a year.

Michael Vick, as any football fan knows, was released from prison after serving 2 years for operating an illegal dog-fighting ring and killing the dogs that didn't do well. The ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterback is now a backup QB for the Philadelphia Eagles. Apparently committing despicable acts is not a hindrance in the NFL, it's a prerequisite.

And I would be less than thorough if I left out the names of Ben Roethlisberger and Plaxico Burress.

Ben, star quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is being accused of sexually assaulting a drunken college student in a bathroom somewhere in Atlanta. So far he's been given a 6-game suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The odds makers in Las Vegas are betting it'll end up being a 2-game suspension and giving 50-yard-line tickets to the ravaged co-ed.

Plaxico Burress, former wide receiver for the New York Giants, is currently serving a 2-year prison term, but will likely get out in 20 months for good behavior. Plaxico has a long string of domestic disturbances and civil lawsuits.

But the criminal behavior that launched him into the national spotlight and highlighted his lack of anything resembling common sense was tucking his Glock pistol into the waistband of his jeans and bringing it to a New York City nightclub. While there he accidentally discharged it, shooting himself in the thigh literally and in the foot figuratively.

How this man learns intricate pass patterns is beyond me.

Maybe they should give big fat bonuses to football players who get through a season without being arrested. Either that, or make NFL stand for NATIONAL FELONS LEAGUE.


Friday, April 23, 2010


As we all know, earthquakes are caused by promiscuous women. This breaking news from the Middle East caught my eye and made my wife giggle.

The source of this revelation, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, is a senior Iranian cleric who apparently had failing grades in Science and could have benefited from a refresher course in Logic.

Mr. Sedighi claims that women who wear revealing clothing, lead innocent young men astray, and conduct themselves in a manner considered seductive are the root cause of Iranian families being buried under tons of rubble.

I could understand if he had pitched this wild plot to a local film director to depict the growing strength and influence of women. But without the underpinnings of a broad spoof or satire, it crumbles under its own weight.

According to this cleric, the wanton women of Iran are clearly more powerful than the scores of tectonic fault lines straddling the city.

But why limit lustful women with the singular and seismic power to induce earthquakes? Let's stretch the boundaries. Imbue them with the ability to choose and create tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters.

Who knows? Women with a relaxed moral code could also be the ones responsible for hunger, drought, and global warming.

Women in that part of the world aren't laughing like my wife did about the absurdity of being blamed for earthquakes. Perhaps they don't want to be humiliated, tortured, killed--or have all of the above done to their families.

And finally, President Ahmadinejad –when told that an earthquake hitting Iran could kill as many as 12 million inhabitants-- suggested that they move.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


In the world of advertising commercials, inanimate objects have far too much to say.

I've been spoken to, hollered at, and nagged by such things as chairs, clocks, windows, ovens, the sun, detergents, a tub of margarine, a sandwich, soda cans, razor blades, a beard, sneakers, a bucket of water, and a toilet with attitude.

I don't know where ad folks got the idea that objects with no pulse and therefore no credibility would be a smart solution for selling products and services. “The way that pothole talked to me, I just knew I had to replace my brakes immediately.”

I'm also not too fond of a talking Gecko with an Australian accent that acts worldly and sophisticated and talks to me in a condescending manner. Geckos, in the reptile family, are mostly found in India and Australia. Normally they make chirping or croaking sounds to communicate with one another. But the one from Geico has far exceeded his chirp and croak limitations by becoming a pitchman for a major brand.

For reasons that could be construed as inconsistent on my part, I seem to be okay with icons like Tony the Tiger, Mr. Clean, Mr. Peanut, The Jolly Green Giant, and Speedy Alka-Seltzer. I guess it's the common objects that suddenly come alive and try to be hip and persuasive that rub me the wrong way.

I'll tell you one thing. Any inanimate object that shouts at me to buy something is in big trouble. I swear, and I mean it, I will yell at my TV! These lifeless forms don't know who they're messing with.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


For reasons that defy explanation and are a major source of grouchiness, we sometimes say things to people that make no sense and can't be retrieved once we spit them out.

Last week I myself fell victim to this grating absurdity. I was walking along Third Avenue in New York City heading for a nearby supermarket when a stranger comes out of nowhere and accidentally bumps into me.

Before I could say, “Watch where you're going, asshole” – the bumper topples the reputation of New Yorkers as loud and rude by smiling and quietly saying, “I'm sorry.”

My bizarrely moronic reply was, “You're welcome.”

You're welcome? What the hell was I thinking? Why such a segue glitch in my brain circuit? Any positive outcome of this brief encounter was quickly snuffed out and replaced by the bumper having an odd story to tell his friends.

Since that day I have heard other people practicing their meaningless exchanges.

“Say hello to your mother for me.”
“You, too.”

“Excuse me.”
“Thank you.”

“Don't stay out too late.”
“I will.”

I was at a movie one night, sitting on an aisle seat, and this fidgety teenager sitting next to me kept getting up and walking past me. After making me stand up for the fifth time, the kid must have realized he was being a nuisance and said to me: “I'm going to the bathroom, can I get you anything?”

If you're going to misspeak, try committing a Malapropism. A Malaprop, as you know, is derived from the famous literary character, Mrs. Malaprop. And is the act of misusing words in a ridiculous manner – the verbal derailment often leading to a humorous outcome.

Some of my favorite Malapropisms come from politicians and other fools.

“They have miscalculated me as a leader.”

“It will take time to restore chaos and order.”

“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”

“The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder.”

“We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.”

As Shakespeare once said, “Comparisons are odorous.” But I think you get the idea. The clever message in your head is not always the one that reaches your intended receiver.


Monday, February 15, 2010


Far too much time and money is squandered on trying to think positively. And don't ask me if I prefer a glass that's half full or half empty. If you're giving me a glass of something, fill the damn thing up.

Last year the self-help industry spent $11 billion trying to convince people that their miserable lives and destructive outlook could be turned around just by reading their books and thinking happy thoughts.

I think the possibility of that happening is slim.

If anyone is still interested in what's right instead of what's lucrative, the following warning should be mandatory on the cover of every self-help book: Continually harping on positivity could result in deeper depressions and even lower self-esteem.

The way to improve your life is to embrace your shortcomings. Instead of making yourself sick over your imperfections, learn to look on the bright side of failure and incompetence.

When bosses or other authority figures ask you to give 110%, tell them you can maybe scrape up 60% of their illogical request and that's about it. See, already the pressure to make something of yourself, to gain recognition and respect is lifting.

Without the need to constantly prove your worth, life becomes sweeter, simpler, and almost bearable. Here are a few motivational downers to live by--otherwise known as a list of books I have recently published to less than rave reviews:


You can look for any of these books in the LIVING WITH DEPRESSION section of your bookstore or library.

Research has been conducted suggesting that high self-esteem is often associated with bullies, criminals, and others with a tendency toward violent behavior. Consider yourself lucky that you have nothing in common with these deviants.

Contrary to opinions held by the vast majority, a toxic atmosphere of cynicism –if applied diligently--can be both healthy and healing.

One last thought to put your life into perspective. Rather than believe that good things are just around the corner, imagine that while you're crossing the street whistling, a large truck is speeding toward you with a drunken driver and no brakes.


Saturday, February 6, 2010


The 8 planets (9 if you're counting Pluto) are too distant to get emotionally involved with, and most of them are poorly named.

SATURN is the 6th planet from the sun and has been known since prehistoric times, which strikes me as odd. I wasn't aware that cavemen were big on celestial diaries. In case you missed school on the day this was discussed, the wind on Saturn blows at high speeds, reaching 1100 miles an hour near the equator. In the unlikely event that the wind is accompanied by rain, it would be wise to leave your umbrella at home.

MARS is the 4th planet from the sun. As you no doubt are aware, its reddish appearance is due to the prevalence of iron oxide. What makes no sense to me is that the planet is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. Why link war with Mars? What battles have they fought? The only war I'm aware of dates back to 1938 when Martians invaded New Jersey in a classic radio episode narrated and directed by Orson Welles. Given our tenacious combative history, it would have made far greater sense for EARTH to be called MARS.

EARTH, as you no doubt recall from the old TV show, is the third rock from the sun. So far it's the only planet in the universe where life is known to exist. An interesting fact is that over 70% of the earth's surface is covered with oceans. So why do we call it EARTH? Why not call it WATER or OCEANUS? Or we could get fancier, a little more upscale, and call it AQUEOUS.

PLUTO used to be, without question, the 9th planet. But in 2006, it was reclassified as a “dwarf planet” by astronauts who didn't consider it a planet at all. They were put off by its diminutive dimensions and loopy orbiting patterns. Personally, I wish they would stop picking on PLUTO. And why name a planet after Mickey Mouse's pet dog? But at least it's better than GOOFY.

NEPTUNE was named after the Roman god of the sea. It's believed to have a rocky core and be surrounded by a huge ocean of water, hence the NEPTUNE reference. It's also assumed that methane gas gives the planet its “blue planet” nickname. But I believe the blue comes from the severe cold. The temperature of one of its moons, Triton, is minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit. But my favorite thing about NEPTUNE is that scientists think the carbon in its atmosphere causes it to rain giant diamonds. But don't start packing as there's no surface to stand on to show off your priceless new bling.

JUPITER is the largest planet in the solar system. All the other planets could fit comfortably inside it. In fact, it would take 318 EARTHS to fill it up. There's a big red spot on JUPITER cleverly named “The Great Red Spot.” It's a 300-year-old storm that's as wide as 3 EARTHS. So instead of playing it safely and naming it after some Roman god, they should have called it GIGANTIS or HUMONGUS or BIG MOTHER.

MERCURY was named by the Romans after the fleet messenger of the gods. It seems the Romans spent a lot of time thinking up names for planets. If they spent less time on this and more time on fighting off the hordes of invading barbarians, maybe The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire could have been avoided.

Here's something for people struggling with their weight to consider. If you weighed 200 pounds on EARTH, you would only weigh 76 pounds on MERCURY. The only catch is –and there's always a catch—it's impossible to breathe there. So your impressive weight loss would be brief.

VENUS is obviously named after the Roman Goddess of Love. And it's the only planet named after a female. While this may or may not be a coincidence, VENUS is also the hottest place in the solar system. Because of its brightness, it's also known as “The Morning Star” and “The Evening Star.” Obviously there are definite romantic aspects to this planet. So on behalf of this sizzling hot planet, let me wish you all a very Happy Valentine's Day.

And don't get me started on URANUS.


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Junior Gotti, having served nine years in prison on charges that he ordered hits on several people, is now released and ready to put his talents into writing crime stories.

And who would be better qualified than the son of notorious Gambino crime family boss, John “the teflon Don” Gotti.

Junior's credentials for such a career shift are impeccable.

Here is an ex-Mafia crime boss who has been through four racketeering trials and, because of mistrials, won't be asked to face a fifth. For some reason –perhaps death threats to some of the jurors – a jury of 12 could never agree that Junior was guilty of planning the murders of punks who got in his way.

Part of the trials included the plot to kidnap and attempt to kill Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, for his denouncement of John Gotti as “Public Enemy #1.”

A son cannot hear such things said about his father without wanting to rip the throat out of the one spewing such truths.

During Junior's heyday, there was also talk of 8 murders, drug trafficking, bribery, extortion, and fraud. So writing books about what you know makes perfect sense.

Maybe when Junior gets a few cold-blooded best-sellers under his belt, he might try his hand at writing children's books. And who knows, they could become classics.

Little Billy Kills His First Cat
Sofia Finds A Body In The Cellar
The Stool Pigeon and The Rat
Tony Loses His Kneecaps
Guido Swims With The Fishes

So now that you know what it takes to have a successful career in writing, get out there and kill somebody.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Yolanda has a pimple on her nose … Ed's knees aren't what they used to be … Meg takes long walks when she's upset ...Clyde's favorite day is Wednesday … Mavis prefers her eggs fried … Larry is learning to juggle ...Naomi is now a brunette … Archibald is upset with his name ...Eunice waited an hour for a bus … Ron couldn't get a song out of his head … Shelly had 2 glazed donuts for breakfast ...Ernie waxed his floor… Cynthia is happiest when it rains ...Wally got a new dog … Caitlin banged her big toe again ...Orville likes purple shoes.

Instead of the usual meaningless babble, it would be inspiring if more Facebook people discussed things like underwear bombers and the momentous problems of airport security ...the absurdity of terrorist trials taking place in New York City, just blocks away from ground zero … the FBI and the CIA, who apparently lack the skill to connect dots, putting us all at risk by refusing to share critical information … and believe it or not, there's no tipping in Japan, yet the service is excellent.

If this is a bit weighty for Facebook, there are simple ways to lighten things up.

How about this, for example? Warren Beatty slept with 12,775 women. Did he keep count with a clicker? You could get a hernia just lifting his little black book. And why would Annette Bening think she could change such a stud muffin?

I mean, Warren is certainly no Wilt Chamberlain, who claimed to have bedded 20,000 ladies and still found time to play professional basketball. But these are impressive numbers.

And finally, a question that begs discussion. Does all this diminish the recent achievements of Tiger Woods?