Archive for the ‘The Stories’ Category

A Heartwarming and Redeemable Deceit

When You Least Expect It

This spaceship-looking structure was home to Syracuse University Basketball from 1964 to 1980 and was the scene of a great juvenile escapade.

My friend Gary DeBaise and I are bosom buddies in the Norman Rockwell sense of the term. We grew up 2 years and 2 unspectacular houses apart in the solidly middle-class section of Eastwood in Syracuse, NY. We bonded over many shared interests: sports, girls and disbelief at the behavior of others. Our bond was further cemented when our parents both got divorced at roughly the same time in the early 70s. We were constant and curious friends; wondering what the hell we were doing in these bodies, but not philosophic enough to squander the opportunity to operate them in ways perhaps unintended by their creator. In the gentlest of ways we’d conspire, scheme and execute the most notoriously benign skullduggery kids can devise.

The kind of trouble we got into would warrant a stern talking to, or maybe the frowning of a lifetime – if we ever got caught (which we never did). Some of our exploits (immature shenanigans to some, bold feats to us) were suitable for a Steven Spielberg juvenile buddy film entitled something like EGT: The Extra Goonie Terrestrials. Our escapades were brilliantly hatched and stealthily executed operations, undertaken with Hogan Heroes’ precision, MacGyver savvy and Bondian sangfroid. Well, all that and maybe a dash of Wile E Coyote miscalculation. One time we repurposed (some might call it stealing) 24 wooden 2 by 4’s stored in an open shed in the backyard of a neighbor. Risk was minimized by undertaking the mission at 2 o’clock in the morning during a new moon. We dubbed this daring little act of espionage Operation: It’s Just Sitting There, Denny Dimwit Isn’t Using It and Besides We Need It for Our Fort. You don’t pull off this level of larceny unless you’ve got your neighborhood sh*t dialed in. And in that rotary age we had it very dialed in.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lesser Known Catholic Saints (and a small lesson in parallel universes)

Maybe I’m attempting too much here, but I’ve only got so much time left and I’m determined to spend it like a drunken sailor.

~ Presenting 6 parallel introductions of the same topic. Each with its own inherent bias ~

  1. The Generous and Funny Introduction: In all of Christendom, the revered Catholic Church is far and away the most consequential. For millennia the resolute Church has provided a dependable sanctuary and a loving interpretation of Christ’s moral philosophy. And even in the darkest of ages, it has been a beacon of hope and a light unto the world. And I use the phrase “unto the world” instead of “in the world” because “unto the world” smacks of greater religious authority. In order to generate even more gravitas in the future, I might rollout out a “thee” or a “thou” and maybe even a few “thines” but I’ll try not to be holier than thou (see, it works). What can you say about an exemplary religion that’s spawned more copycat wannabees than Madonna did in her heyday (and here I’m referring to Madonna the singer, not to Madonna Jesus’s mom)? Sometimes spin-offs work (Doritos begat Nacho Doritos) and sometimes they don’t (Catholicism begat the Amish). Not to disparage the Amish, but my idea of horsepower and their idea of horse power are two very different things.

 

  1. The Damning with Faint Praise Introduction: Of all the Christian sects, the glamorous Catholic Church is far and away the most Hollywood. Tinseltown’s glittery flair seems to have informed the Church’s practices and even decorated their Christmas trees. What can you say about a steadfast religion that’s resisted secular relativism and spawned more spinoffs than Fast and Furious? Sometimes spin-offs work (Chevrolet begat the Corvette) and sometimes they don’t (Chevy also begat the Chevette). Not to disparage Chevrolet, but my idea of horsepower and a Chevette’s idea of horsepower are two very different things.

 

  1. The Contemptuous Zoological Introduction that Goes Off the Rails: Of all the animals in the Christian Zoo, the outsized Catholic Church is the elephant in the room no one wants to clean-up after. In the menagerie of Christian denominations masquerading as the ultimate path to God, Catholicism has the biggest footprint – and why wouldn’t it? It’s the elephant in the room with 4 huge stamping feet that parishioners hope will walk softly and carry a big trunk. What can you say about a religion that’s spawned more spinoffs than an RC Cola accidentally set on a Tommy Dorsey record played at 78 rpms? Make that a Jimmy Dorsey record. In fact make that a reference from less than 80 years ago that people might possibly understand or appreciate. Clearly, I’ve got work to do and I implore you to stay with me and keep reading. You can get back to the familiar satisfaction of your iPhone in 10 minutes, I promise. Hmmmm…but what if you’re on your iPhone now reading this. Suddenly it’s Alice through the looking glass and a tsunami of anxiety overwhelms me. This is no time for a panic attack and yet this fretful, disjointed introduction is a panic attack just waiting to happen. Check that. Oh sh*t! It’s not waiting. It’s happening. Right now…to me. Jesus, where’s writer’s block when you need it. As I hyperventilate and begin rocking back and forth, a semantic question pierces my anxiety: Did writers who lived behind the Soviet’s Iron Curtain suffer from Writers’ Bloc?  

 

  1. The Vacuous, Out-to-Lunch Introduction: Of all the Christian sects, the Catholic Church is one of them. It’s a big one. Elephant big. The Church knows it’s important to be good (or at least to not get caught doing anything bad). But if you are caught, you are invited to confess to a priest and all is forgiven. The idea of being good seems to have informed their practices and is somehow indirectly responsible for all the glorious decorations on their Church ceilings. What can you say about a legacy religion that’s spawned more spinoffs than Pepperidge Farm has with their cookies? Sometimes spin-offs work (Darth Vader begat Luke Skywalker) and sometimes they don’t (Hamburger Helper begat Pancreas Helper). Not to disparage all other religions, but…oh forget #4. I’m just relieved my panic attack is over.

 

  1. The Unforgiving Malevolent Introduction: Of all the Christian sex, the unpoliced Catholic Church has far and away screwed everybody the most. Unvetted priests have groomed and corrupted impressionable followers in the most irreligious ways imaginable. Self-serving silence seems to have informed their practices, even at the cost of millions in settlements and untold psychic harm. What can you say about a religion that spun-off a Hall of Fame to enshrine its most luminous players – they call it Sainthood? Sometimes spin-offs work (The Pirates of the Caribbean ride begat The Pirates of the Caribbean movie) and sometimes they don’t (The Pirates of the Caribbean ride begat The Pirates of the Caribbean movie). I guess it all depends on your perspective in judging whether something works or not. Not to disparage Johnny Depp, but his imitation of Keith Richards as Capt. Jack Sparrow gives no Satisfaction.

 

  1. The Even-Handed, Glossed Over Introduction (so we may finally get on with our entertaining little story): The Catholic Church has done its god damned best to attend to its needy flock. Sometimes they’ve fallen short, but not for a lack of good intentions. Whether Crusading through Europe, or just gently interrogating the Spanish to make sure they were really, truly Catholic, the Church always had its heart in the right place. Sometimes that heart had only 2 creaky chambers distributing the milk of human kindness stingily and unevenly, instead of 4 robust chambers pounding out truth and justice equally to all seekers. What can you say about an institution that’s produced more copycat religions than there are copycat Beatles tribute bands? Not to disparage these tribute bands, but my idea of revolution and their idea of Revolution are two very different things. At any rate, our evolution can only happen at a speed we can handle. Godspeed everyone!

And Now We Begin Our Story

Similar to the way Steven “Book of” Jobs founded Apple by tinkering in his dad’s garage, Jesus started writing code for his start-up cult in his dad’s stable. Sometimes Joseph would poke his head in and suspiciously inquire, “Jesus Christ, what’s going on in here?”

To which his exasperated son would reply, “Daaaad! I told you, I’m formulating a moral philosophy for mankind to live by.”

“Yeah sure son. Every night for 6 months?,” Joseph would huff in Aramaic. “I’m not sure what’s going on in here, but I smell frankincense.”

“I told you dad. I got that as a gift when I was born. It helps me to think.” Jesus explained. Read the rest of this entry »

Dave Takes a Deep See, Into the Deep Sea

“This is Really Beneath Me,” He Claims. “20,000 Leagues Beneath Me.”

The vanilla frosting covered North Pole in the movie Ice Station Zebra; conveniently relocated to sound stage 27 at 1225 La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, CA. Really windy when the fans are turned on.

Because I’m not drawn to drink or drugs, I think I’m more susceptible to other less conventional intoxicants. Case in point – my current addiction to cheesy submarine movies. Whether you consider this peculiar predilection a harmless hobby or a nautical neurosis, I’ll leave to your consideration. I do believe these underwater cinematic spectacles trigger the same neurons in my brain’s pleasure center that are triggered by drugs and alcohol in normal people like you (this may be assuming a lot). I’m as happy as a clam, sitting at attention in my marine mancave, watching soldierly submariners behaving like dutiful amphibians. My life coach says these cheesy submarine movies are beneath me, and she’s right. In one movie they’re 20,000 leagues beneath me.  

Don’t you find the term “cheesy” to be a lactose intolerant word? Your cheese is my caviar and I’ve found great happiness in those little underwater fish ova. Underwater things speak to me. Maybe I’m all wet on this issue, but where computers see a binary world of ones and zeros, I see a binary world of submarine movies and not submarine movies. I cannot fathom anything deeper than 2 categories of things. To my way of thinking you’re either part of the submarine movie universe or you’re just…the rest of universe. In the former category you’re part of the solution. In the latter you’re part of the problem. I consider myself a high-functioning person, if only because my 7-layer dip does not contain mulch as one of its layers. However, when I initially encounter a person, place or thing to be categorized, the first question I ask myself is: Does this thing serve the cause of the submarine movie universe; or is it just part of the boring, everyday cosmos? I ponder this question while figuratively submerged beneath the waves in my marine-like mancave.

Don’t you find the term “mancave” to be a caveman intolerant word? It can sound so unkind to a Neanderthal’s hairy ear. In any event, my marine mancave is like a magical aquarium outfitted with artifacts to render my above-ground underwater experience arrestingly authentic. And true to my submarine ways, I’ve spent money on it like a drunken sailor. There’s a sunken treasure chest, bio-luminescent lighting, a little bubbling man in a diving suit and some fishnets. Not the kind of fishnets to catch fish, but the kind of fishnets women wear to catch men – I mean I am a male and this is my manspace I’ve outfitted to suit my interests. And I employ the word “outfitted” with great binary precision. You see women decorate. Men outfit.  

Don’t you find the term “outfitted” to be a female intolerant word. Alright, I’ll stop with this running “intolerant” trope. Even I can’t tolerate it anymore. I guess that makes me intolerant of intolerance. But as I claimed earlier, I am high-functioning. I know the difference between being entertaining, and being repetitive. As I said earlier, I know the difference between being entertaining and being repetitive.

 

Rules of the Sea

 In order to qualify as a submarine movie, the film must feature, present or promote the following mandatory items: 

  1. All sailors must have a visible arc of armpit sweat extending from the front of the shoulder to the back of the shoulder – even if they’re shirtless. 
  2. For reasons known only to the tobacco industry, smoking in this confined, underwater gas chamber is not only allowed, but is encouraged. Hence the slogan: Join the Navy and get 3 lifetimes of tar in just one 3-month deployment.
  3. All food is “chow” and served by a grizzled yet lovable mess cook, Sergeant Falco, who plates everything with a side of cigarettes and a dash of armpit sweat.
  4. There must be a fraught scene where perspiring midshipmen gaze anxiously at the ceiling for what seems like an eternity as they await the latest detonation in a barrage of enemy depth charges. And when they do explode, they must make sudden phony movements in one direction as the hull absorbs yet another powerfully bogus explosion.
  5. Smiling is prohibited (unless it’s ironic).
  6. There must be some recognizable, but out of place actor in it – like Don Rickles, Wally Cox or Trini Lopez (oh, what that man could do with a hammer).
  7. At some point an exasperated ensign exclaims, “I didn’t sign up for this sh*t.” He’s soon reminded he did indeed sign up for it. For a 4-year hitch.
  8. At some point the hull will be breached and there’ll be a containable, yet harrowing flood in which 2 superfluous seamen (they didn’t have speaking parts) drown.
  9. In the mandatory scene where the sub and its crew are plummeting to a potentially watery grave after taking one too many enemy depth charges, you realize it’s not their destiny to die yet. These men have got packs of unlit cigarettes to smoke and hampers of sweat-stained uniforms to launder.
  10. There’ll be a lot of eerie sonar pings indicating we’re underwater and it’s a submarine movie. No pongs, just pings.

 

What’s in a Name

All submarine movies except one are about high stakes, underwater peril in the midst of mortal conflict. I’ll give you a moment to think which one that is. OK. Times up. It’s Yellow Submarine. Other submarine movie titles (some real, some perhaps invented) include:

  1. Ice Station Zebra – A wondrously vague military moniker laid athwart a forbidding Arctic seascape. I’m swooning here. Calgon take me away – to the North Pole!  
  2. Run Silent, Run Deep – Starring Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable. My God, 10 minutes in, before Mr. Lancaster even issued the order to “Take ‘er down ensign,” Lancaster had completely chewed the scenery (not an easy thing to do on an all steel boat). His overacting is all too easily criticized, but we owe a great debt to Lancaster, for without his example, William Shatner may never have honed his acting chops. Some say the actual title should be Run Silent, Run Deep, Run as Far Away from Burt Lancaster’s Acting as You Can. Confession: I couldn’t stop watching this underwater thriller. Little known fact: Before there were talkies, there was another Run Silent, Run Deep movie. It told the story of a mute philosopher who pondered profoundly while he jogged – true to its title he would: run silent, run deep. That film fared poorly. Why? – No submarines.    
  3. Run Loudly, Run Shallow – This Mel Brooks parody of submarine movies belongs in the kiddie pool. Although the farting scene where, after a dinner of pork and beans the crew fills the submarine with so much noxious gas that they’re forced to surface, is hilarious. The rest of the movie stunk. Well, I guess that makes the entire movie a stinker.
  4. Ships Oy Vey! – In this all-Hebraic sequel to the gentile Ships Ahoy! the nascent Israeli Navy is out on patrol everyday but Saturday. Admiral Nimitzowitz insists each sailor trades in their traditional sailor’s hat for a little white yarmulke with a teeny-tiny brim. Trademark Yiddish humor is on display when each deployment to sea is dubbed a “Jews Cruise.” Burt Lancaster visited during filming, but orthodox Jews refused to allow him on the set because, “He’s just too hammy.”  
  5. Das Boot – German U-boat flick with plenty of surface tension as well as below surface tension. It starred venerable German actor Klaus Traphobic. Reports say Klaus Traphobic had trouble coping with the cramped quarters on the submarine.
  6. Yellow Submarine – This Beatles submarine cartoon was much more upbeat than the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black Submarine.
  7. Up Periscope – This 1959 classic featured the impeccably well-groomed James Garner as Captain Morrel Rectitude. The line defining where Mr. Garner’s hair ended and his neck began is delineated with such expert tonsorial precision that the Navy is able to set their watch to it. In one scene the camera pans slowly over the bunks, and in the background I swore I saw a nude picture of Vivian Vance. Either that or it was a nude picture of Marilyn Monroe with Vivian Vance’s head taped over it. Being out to sea does something to a man’s head. Confession: Watched it twice back to back.
  8. Down Periscope – Kelsey Grammer at his pettifogging best in this uneven salmagundi of hijinks and lowjinks. Note: If your lowjinks last longer than 4 minutes, stop watching and call your doctor. Note to the note: The word hijinks is one of those rare words with 3 consecutive dotted letters – like iiicarumba! In Down Periscope, Kelsey Grammer speaks very clearly, but sometimes Kelsey’s grammar ain’t so good.
  9. Deep Periscope – Warning. Not a submarine movie, but a XXX sequel to Deep Throat.
  10. Gee Your Armpits Smell Terrific – Again, not the kind of movie you’d want to take the family to.
  11. The Hunt for Red October & Crimson Tide – 2 Cardinal-colored covert conflicts. Red-shifted wavelengths abound, proving the universe is still expanding. What is the proper length of a wave? Experts say about 3-4 seconds.
  12. The Hunt for Red Skelton – When famed comedian Red Skelton fails to show up for a rehearsal, his agent starts looking everywhere for him. He eventually finds him safe and dry at a deli eating a submarine sandwich.   

 

Leveling-Off at Periscope Depth, Secure Quarters, Insecure Dimes, All Ahead 1/3rd, Smok’em if Ya Got’em

Watching submarine movies…let me rephrase that, experiencing submarine movies brings me untold joy. I’d like to tell you about it, but then it wouldn’t be untold, would it? It would be “told joy.” And there are 2 things I promised myself early on: 1. I wouldn’t read Tolstoy and 2. I wouldn’t share “told joy.” No Tolstoy, no told joy (try saying that 3 times fast). And if that’s not high-functioning, I don’t know what is. You see in my long pioneering years of social distancing, well before it became popular, I discovered the importance of being scrupulously honest with my readers so I didn’t suffer their social ostracization. Unfortunately, due to my single-minded interest in submarine movies, social ostracization is something I’m all too familiar with. In any event, social ostracization is not to be confused with being oblivious to things by sticking your head in the sand. That’s called social ostrich-ization, and it’s for the birds. But I’m pleased to be able to differentiate the meaning between social ostracization from social ostrich-ization – even though it comes up infrequently. In fact it’s probably never come up until now. And once again I’ve gone overboard here, but going overboard might be appropriate given the nautical topic.   Read the rest of this entry »

COVID Curious? Personal Ads in the Time of the Coronavirus

Same as it ever was. The neverending urge to merge. 

Despite social distancing, quarantining and living every day like we’re in solitary confinement, we humans (and that’s most of you) remain desirous of intimate company. And although the invisibly menacing world of teeny-tiny viruses stand ready to devastate our dampest membranes (both in the lungs and in the loins), the sexual imperative will not be denied. The God-given urge to get naked with a loved one and perform the Heimlich maneuver is always in vogue – and in many other magazines too. And even though we are aware of the rational arguments against risky exposure, the absurd choreography of human love yearns to perform its irrational dance with a willing partner.

 

The underachieving and overbearing year of 2020 is driving us crazy. We were underprepared and overwhelmed by the Coronavirus, social injustices and the whole Aunt Jemima thing. By April, most of us were already asking for a “do over.” And as if 2020 hasn’t been cuckoo enough, you know what else drives us crazy? – the sex drive. It doesn’t so much drive us crazy as it drives us to distraction. You don’t even need a license to drive it – hormones will gladly steer the sex drive onto some very sketchy assfault. Since we all feel the urge to merge, it’s best to get a grip on yourself (or at least the steering wheel) and choose the merge lane that feels best for you.

BTW, I’ve never seen a hormone. I’ve heard one. But I’ve never seen one. Read the rest of this entry »

Google Proposes to Buy Catholic Church

Financial and moral bankruptcy makes Catholic Church ripe for the plucking.

In an unlikely marriage of high tech and high mass, Google Inc. has vowed to purchase the 2000 year old Christian start-up and convert it from a parochial relic of medieval luminosity, to a go-to search engine of latter day enlightenment. In other words to reimagine the Church, not as some vestigial sanctuary of last resort, but as a relevant refuge of first resort – and without all the resort fees.

 

Google promises to create an online spiritual haven far beyond the binary limitations of earthly design – a transformative resort where true seekers can purge themselves of barnacled beliefs and pardonable, but entrenched assumptions in preparation for boundary-dissolving experiences. These experiences, they say, will illuminate both the poignancy and absurdity of life’s predicament. And Google hopes to accomplish all this, not with a prophet, but at a profit.

 

Some say we should genuflect to our digitally savvy superiors and welcome them with a hearty “All hail the coming of our spiritual overlord – Wi-Fi? Why not?”  More cautionary voices insist we, “Slow down there Mr. Univac. Your glorified abacus is just an electronic toy here to serve us. Remember, you’re made in God’s image and not vice-versa.” These are the typical binary talking points you get on earth whenever transformative change is in the air.

 

Reflecting the volatility of their proposed purchase, Google’s bid was not filed with the SEC, but rather with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Crosses – or as it more commonly appears in writing: The Bureau of AT&✝. In their bid, Google pledges to create a welcoming, spiritual resort that honors all paths and not just the ones that hold rummage sales in church basements. A place where worshipers feel they’re on vacation instead of on trial. No longer will adherents have to nourish their souls on the stale, old piety of centuries old dogma. The Church, reborn under a new rubric, will become a divine haven where spiritual gamers (Google’s nomenclature for parishioners) can now operate in a cosmic resort of first resort. Read the rest of this entry »

“Global Boring” Threatens Social Cohesion

Global Boring thwarts throats from warbling small talk. Can we survive it?

A United Nations report warns that Social Climate Change is drying up reservoirs of small talk faster than they can be refilled. This drought of amiable conversation has forced some chit-chat-challenged countries to opt out of small talk altogether, leaving their muzzled citizenry speechless. As more nations begin pulling the plug on small talk, it has created an unsustainable social climate of too many tight-lipped wallflowers clamming-up at too few social events. Anthropologists have named this dreary and dangerous planetary condition Global Boring. What was once an easy and friendly, “Hey, what’s up? How you doin’?” has morphed into a pained and stilted “Your separateness disturbs me. Please leave.” 

A worldwide drought of basic chit-chat has landed small talk on the endangered speechies list. It’s sad to think homo sapiens have devolved from erect and engaging conversationalists into slack-jawed text monkeys. If the current rate of stilted conversation continues, social scientists predict small talk will be extinct by 2050 and will be replaced by a few symbolic emojis expressing everything from “Excuse me good sir, may I use your chamber pot” to “Y’know a lint trap is just Banana Republic’s way of telling you it’s time to buy a new shirt.”

The only place small talk remains unchanged is in the bedroom, where the immortal exclamation of “Oh my God, oh my God, Oh…My…God!” is still breathlessly expressed as “Oh my God, oh my God, Oh…My…God!” This time-honored pledge of allegiance to each other, is indivisible; with liberty and just-ass for all. Read the rest of this entry »

Portals to a Parallel Universe: A Tale of Superb Peculiarities

A Lot to Unpack Here. Let’s Get Started.

How did I not see this? Standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom. Let it Be. 

I’m always amazed when a paradigm-shattering event of monumental significance detonates in our midst, and then is promptly scrubbed from memory once the next day’s news cycle begins. I’m referring, of course, to the recent discovery of an interdimensional portal to a parallel universe. How is it that such a colossal spiritual windfall seems to have gone almost unnoticed? Thankfully both the dust and the amnesia associated with this monumental explosion has begun to vanish and it’s forcing people to reassess deeply held beliefs in fields ranging from the nature of God to the sport of competitive eating. So whether your interests lie in self-awareness or in self-engorgement, this revelatory portal has something to offer everyone.   

 

The very first portal to these parallel universes was accidentally excavated by little Timmy Cratchit when the eager lad was digging at the bottom of a box of Froot Loops in hopes of grasping its buried prize – a miniature Batmobile. Instead of the Batmobile he found something that was well beyond his grasp. Well beyond anybody’s grasp for that matter. Neither Timmy nor his soon-to-be concerned parents expected the 6 year-old to stumble upon the Holy Grail of entryways: a welcoming portal to unspeakable profundity. Read the rest of this entry »

Evel Knevel: Reckless Daredevil or Closeted Vegan?

I’ve gotta believe he partied with Jerry Lee Lewis until Jerry said, “Enough. I can’t keep up with you.”

Answer: Reckless Daredevil of course.

Why anyone would suggest Evel Knevel secretly ate a plant-based diet is beyond me. Although since this suggestion came from me, how can it be beyond me? You think you’re puzzled, think how I feel. And furthermore, is this any way to begin an action-packed story about the daring exploits of Evel Knevel? Clearly I’ve got work to do. First I have to win you back, and secondly I’ve got to write an entertainingly white-knuckled story about Evel Knevel soaring above the earth, if only for a moment, while straddling a fulminating 50 horsepower engine between his legs in a dangerous yet delicate ballet of man and machine. So yeah, I get it. This story would be a whole lot better if it didn’t include my inner dialogue.

 

But the fact that I meander, digress and can’t seem to get out of my own way says more about the author of this story (me) than any of Mr. Knevel’s audacious feats. Sometimes I don’t know what I like more: Evel Knevel or the idea of Evel Knevel. At this point however, I believe the writer of this piece (again, that’s me) does a great disservice to the King of Motorcycle Jumping by continually inserting himself into a story that’s supposed to be about Evel Knevel. So I protest my own presence here (man vs. himself?) and will try to vector hard towards reigning in my ego and dedicating what’s left of this piece to a celebration of Evel’s daring motorcycle jumps – spectacular jumps in which the King shattered numerous records as well as numerous bones. Read the rest of this entry »

“Oh, We’ve Got Your Number Alright”

Just some of the faceless masses toiling at telemarketing call centers. Why not join us and lose your humanity too?

Telemarketers aren’t born. They’re made. But before their unwelcomed intrusions are visited upon our ears, these operators of a lesser God must first be identified and then guided into a hellish life of relentless robocalling. How hellish? Well, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that 40% of telemarketers have been infected with ATDs (Aurally Transmitted Diseases). ATDs are spread through the unhygienic practice of indiscriminate headset sharing – the predictable result of too few headsets for too many heads. This careless sharing of bodily ear wax, in which the gooey stuff is freely exchanged through unclean earpieces, has forced the CDC to mandate warning signs be posted in telemarketing bathrooms reading: “All Employees Must Wash Ears.” Even with the CDC’s hygienic guidelines, telemarketers continue to contract some very eerie diseases such as Earpes, Syphilears and Mononearcleosis. In some extreme cases, Vegan telemarketers who’ve share headsets with multiple partners, have displayed symptoms of Cauliflower Ear.   Read the rest of this entry »

Indiana Hardiman and the Caskets of Doom

Long before Harrison Ford set out on his swashbuckling adventures my lifelong buddy and neighbor, Gary DeBaise and I had a few of our own. The year was 1974. I was 12 and Gary about 14. We were very aware of our territory (Syracuse! I’m so aware of you!) to the extent that we perceived an opening, a portal to adventurous mischief that would eventually lead to an intriguing secret never revealed. Until now.

 

“Are these what I think they are?”

In the cold and snowy depths of yet another Syracuse winter there wasn’t a lot to do. So Gary and I sat on bar stools in his parents’ built-in basement lamenting our lot and playing 3-penny hockey. We discussed the usual topics and wondered what else we might do this drab Tuesday evening. We strategized and schemed to formulate some kind of meaningful activity to participate in. Nothing. Then we tried to formulate some kind of meaningless activity, but we were already doing that. I wouldn’t call it an Existential Quandary. I think you have to go to college first and have read A Catcher in the Rye to experience that level of alienation. Nah. Not us. We were just energized teenagers with a whole lotta nuthin’ to do. And as we ruminated, it slowly came to us:

Once upon a winter dreary, while we pondered, bored and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious talk to avoid this bore—
While we plotted, not besotted, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of something gently rapping, rapping at our inner core.
“‘Tis some visitor,” We muttered, tapping at our inner core—
Telling us thus and nothing more –
Go to the warehouse in the Mucklands.

Our winter was no longer dreary, and soon we embarked to the Mucklands, cold yet cheery

 

I could continue to tell the story borrowing from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, but me thinks the foreshadowing with such a dark and gloomy poem has already set the tone. Let me more commonly describe the chain of events for that evening’s adventure. This cool and clear night Gary and I had nothing to do as we sat in his basement exhausting the topics of girls, SU football and school dramas. And since we dare not steal any more Canadian Club from his parents’ bar, the idea of penetrating the old warehouses down by the swamp seemed mighty captivating. Plus it gave us something to do besides talking about penetrating Allison Belge. Penetrating the old warehouses we’d actually get to do. So we decided to heed our Muse, brave the cold to go down to the Mucklands where these buildings were located. The Mucklands was a dying swamp with random patches of reed-filled ponds and various drainage ditches leading to lagoons of standing water. It was located adjacent to an old Erie Canal route that newly built Interstate 690 and the old New York Central Railroad paralleled. Within this muddy wonderland stood a few abandoned World War II plants that were protected by a perimeter fence and stood as monuments to the newly developing “Rust Belt.” As we’ll see “protected” might not be the most accurate word to describe this fence.

 

Gary and I prepared for this vital mission like Seal Team 6 – warm coat, small penlight and a common screwdriver. Alright more like Seal Team ¼. Under cover of darkness we departed base camp (his house) at 1930 hours (about 7:30) and, not wanting to draw any undue attention to ourselves (even though nobody was paying any attention to us at all) we proceeded along usual routes to our target. So over the Midler Ave Bridge across 690 and down the steep embankment near the frozen pond we marched, taking great care to circumnavigate the pond just in case our collective 190 lbs. might cause us to break through the ice thereby forcing us to abort the mission. By thinking in military terms we knew we were deluding ourselves, but it made the endeavor so much more fun and purposeful – this was now meaningful activity.

Read the rest of this entry »