Life Needs A Laughtrack

A long time ago I was in therapy.  My shrink bore an uncanny resemblance to Frank Sinatra, the singer. (Disco is dead, Frank!)  I asked him his advice about whether or not I should stick it out with my girlfriend.  I still cared deeply about her, and I knew she loved me, but our sex life was on the fritz, proving that history does indeed repeat itself.

He looked at me over his clipboard of notes and said–no, sang:

“It’s up to you, you dork, you dork!” 

_

Have you ever seen that movie Alive!, about the Peruvian soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes and they had to resort to eating their dead comrades?  According to one of the survivors, during one day of their desperate struggle to hang on, they were approached by a leprechaun.  He danced a merry jig and led them to a burst compartment near the rear of the plane’s fuselage, pointing out a bunch of severed arms among the scattered suitcases and duffel bags.

“What the hell do you expect us to do with those?”  one of the starving men asked.

“Why don’t you eat ’em, you silly bugger?”

They set about doing so, at first recoiling from the frozen meat before them.  But after awhile they found the morsels of human flesh downright savory.

“What can we do to repay you, sir?”

“Nothing a’tall!”  The leprechaun then sang a familiar tune from an old childhood TV commercial:

“Frosted luggage arms–they’re tragically nutritious!”

_

Jesus came to me in a dream.

I said, “Jesus?  Is that you?  You look just like Robert DeNiro.””

“Of course it’s me.  And if you don’t pay your monthly tithe when you get up, I’ll break your fucking legs.  Understand?”

_

When I was in college, I had a roommate who avoided cursing out of politeness.  It would have been endearing if he’d been five years old, but I decided to make the most of the situation.

“Gosh, man,” he said, “I had an exam this afternoon and had to miss lunch!”

“How dare you use the Lord’s nickname in vain!”

_

You can’t believe everything you read in the papers, can you?  For example, this morning I read the first line of a news story that read:  “Yesterday in the United States a black man was not shot by the police.”

_

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert, recovering from his knife wounds at Seoul’s Severance Hospital (actual name–no pun intended), was visited by a Korean man who wanted to aid in his healing with a gift of dog meat.  Lippert, a dog-lover who intrepidly walks his beagle up and down the anarchic streets of Seoul, was magnanimous enough to accept the offer and reciprocated with a roll of Psy toilet paper, along with a Kim Yuna voodoo doll.

It’s For You, Hamlet

The phone call’s for me?  Hmm, that’s funny.  Thanks, Horatio.

Hello?  May I ask who’s calling?  Dad, is that you?  Your voice sounds strange.  Aren’t you dead?  What’s up with the phone call?  I thought you people were supposed to rest in peace. . . Of course the funeral was sad.  Why wouldn’t it be? . . . Yeah, I know she got married only a month after you died, but who could resist a guy like Claudius?  Mr. Super-Stud. . . . Dad, there’s no need to become apoplectic.  Just chill. . . You’re going to have to slow down.  I can’t follow your train of thought–you’re spluttering too much. . . Take a deep breath. . . What?  He poured poison in your ear?  What for? . . . I know, I know–stupid question.  So why are you telling me this? . . . You want me to get revenge? . . . But how can I be sure it’s really you?  Can’t you show yourself? . . . That’s not how ghosts operate these days.  Figures. . . So I have to go on a phone call. . . You always told me never to trust someone who tries to sell you something over the phone. . . Hey!  There’s no need to shout.  Keep your jaw attached to your skull, Jacob Marley. . .  I guess that reference is a little too advanced for you. . . I know it’s irksome that she married your brother. . . yes, yes–and your murderer–I was just getting to that. . . how is it incest?  He’s not her brother. . . That’s right–I forgot.  We live in the Elizabethan world. . . Okay, so what’s the best way to kill him? . . . Any way that works. . . But just not while he’s praying.  Thanks; I’ll make a note of that. . . Put on a play that recreates your death?  Dad, don’t you think you’re being morbid? . . . Of course I want some evidence that he really did it. . . What do you have against Ophelia?  She’s perfect for me. . . She’s daddy’s girl, eh?  At least she’s not a windbag. . . All right, Dad.  I’ll do what I can.  But between you and me, I have a hunch this isn’t going to end well. . . Yes, I look forward to seeing you soon, too.  I love you, Dad.  Tell God I said hi. . . He changed his name to Satan?  Well, you’ve got to admit it’s a more marketable alternative. . . Don’t go changing. . . Father, compose yourself! . . . Okay, sorry–bad joke.  Keep in touch.

Here’s your phone, Horatio.  No, no.  It was a wrong number.

Thanks to Bob Newhart for the idea.  His autobiography, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!, is worth reading.  I’ll share a couple of anecdotes from it in another post.

New Meanings For Familiar Terms

(Along With A Few Coinages)

spontaneous combustion:  what the U.S. Air Force calls a napalm strike

friendly fire:  the smiley faces made by a happy flamethrower

collateral damage:  the thing your car insurance policy doesn’t cover

love triangle:  the harmonious relationship held by Wall Street, the Democrats, and the Republicans

cancer-patient (adj.):  how you have to be if you live in an Asian mega-city with poisonous air conditions

air conditioner:  coal plant

baby-shitter:  someone who gives birth by way of excretion

car pool:  a terrific bathing experience for your precious automobile

face book:  a soldier’s souvenir collection of his victim’s visages

kaputalism:  what happens when the whole global system of trade and commerce suddenly collapses due to accumulated ecological damage, climate-related pressures, prolonged economic inequality, and a perennially sustained assault on other species

blood bank:  the nickname arms contractors give to war

microsoft word:  a baby’s whisper

paper jam:  a delicacy enjoyed by beavers and termites

marketing department:  the section in Walmart where you buy your groceries

plastic surgeon:  a doctor of the future

time machine:  a mobile phone

conspicuous consumption:  cannibalism

police force:  a euphemism for “police brutality”

diorama:  a colorful way of saying “mass extinction”

international relationship:  the love boat

divine intervention:  the end result of government surveillance

exitainment:  the feeling you get when you realize the movie you’re watching sucks

celepretty (adj):  (rhymes with “celebrity”) attractive in an artificial way that makes people want to give you an award

Hostages Of The World, Unite!

Sorry I’ve been out of touch.  I had a hangnail.  Actually, I did have a nasty case of stomach flu last week, but at least I got a lot of exercise getting up several times throughout the night to dry heave my soul into the toilet, where it belongs.

My wife has been in full-on harridan mode lately as well, an enervating phenomenon (I was going to write “development,” since it harmonizes better with “enervating,” but since she’s been in harridan mode off and on throughout our fifteen hellacious years together, it’s not exactly an accurate choice).  I just don’t know how to appease her.  Neither the Neville Chamberlain nor the Winston Churchill strategy seems to work.

Defeat is the answer!

I share this computer with her and the screen has gotten so gunky–probably from having been manhandled by her primary school students–that it’s hard for me to see what’s going on.

Anywho, before signing on I read a sad post on the blog onlypeaceandlove about Kayla Mueller, who I assume is the woman who was recently beheaded by ISIS, ISIL, IS, the Islamic State, or whatever it’s called.  (Fellas, you seem to be having a branding issue.  Pick a name and stick with it if you want to market your product of indiscriminate mayhem and ghoulish bloodshed.  I used to live in a bloodshed when I was a little boy.  My pappy taught me how to finger-paint political messages there.  Sorry–I’m in a sick mood.)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see the point in an organization going out of their way to deliberately execute not only innocent but likable, sympathetic, exemplary people (which means at least I’m safe) as a way to promote their cause (sorry to belie the “indiscriminate” factor mentioned in the previous paragraph).  Why can’t they be like the Slim Reaper and just use Predator drones?  The remote-controlled missile-firing aircraft is mightier than the sword–and more expensive (this message has been brought to you by McDonnell-Douglas Incorporated, and is also compliments of Raytheon and a big wet smooch from Lockheed-Martin, the most lovable and affectionate weapons-makers in the world today, our dear friends who are keeping the world safe for hypocrisy and extortion).

When I was a little boy, one of my favorite nursery rhymes came from a book my brother and I all but memorized (although I eventually went on to forgetize it) entitled The Best of Sick Jokes:

“I love life and life loves me.  I’m as happy as can be.  A happier man nowhere exists.  I think I’ll go and slash my wrists.”

I just found the contrast between the can-do optimism of the smiling man in the cartoon that accompanied the rhyme and his casually dismissive twist of despair hilarious.

Little did I know at the time that the joke would become something in between a mantra and a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Although I’ve never attempted to commit suicide in any concrete fashion (but hey, the night is still young), my choice of spouse was downright suicidal–not that I can say I dived right into the arrangement without considerable prodding–and the years we’ve endured together have not only ruined my health, but made me question the possibility of ever finding happiness–or even sanity–with anyone else.

(The enforced-happiness aspect of the rhyme I’ve discovered both by living in the U.S., where cheerfulness is mandatory, and by being a teacher of Korean students, many of whom seem to think the best way to answer a smile is with a scowl–or, more precisely, an inscrutable face of stone.)

I can’t pretend to understand the pain my wife personifies, but Murphy’s Law being what it is, I can safely predict that although I’m probably better suited to find a new mate after our marital nightmare ends, I’m so far gone I’ll be lucky to survive another ten years, which means I won’t be able to get front row seats for the apocalypse 😦

(That’s the first time I’ve ever used an emoticon, and probably the last as well.  Under the circumstances, I couldn’t resist.  Does anyone know if I need to put a period after it?  Who can navigate the treacherous waters of emoticon-related punctuation?)

My wife, on the other hand, will be an old maid, untouchable as far as her misogynistic culture is concerned, but she’s made of sterner stuff than I am, so she’ll probably live to be about a thousand years old, chronic aches and pains notwithstanding, lonely and guilt-stricken, flagellating herself endlessly in the nickname of Christ (Little Jeezy?).

Posthumous revenge may not be as sweet as the kind you can live to enjoy, but at least it’s something.

Sorry to see Jon Stewart go, and right on the heels of Stephen Colbert.  Who will be there to pick up the mantle of sacred satire?

By the way, I want to apologize for comparing myself in an earlier post to the heroic cartoonists who sacrificed their lives in the name of free expression working for Charlie Hebdo.  I’ll try not to be so pretentious next time, not that it will be easy to contain my flatulent blue whale of an ego, illusory as a soap bubble though it is.

Have a good day and a nice weekend–and make sure to smile, but only if you feel like it.  Remember, it’s hard to laugh your ass off and frown at the same time.

I’ll leave you with one last joke-let from that long-lost book of evil gems:

“Mommy, Mommy, Daddy just got hit by a car!”

“Don’t make me laugh, Gladys.  You know my lips are chapped.”

American Sniper: Alternative Titles

In an effort to come up with a title for his latest jingoistic, Islamophobic action flick, Clint Eastwood got a lot of suggestions from his script writers before he finally decided to just name the bloody movie after the book it was based on.  Which one of the following rejections do you think he might want to use to launch the director’s cut?

Diddler on the Roof

The Iraqi-Whacker

I Come in Peace

How the West Was Lost

Sniper Rash

I Only Have Ice for You

Lee Harvey Oswald, Eat Your Heart Out

Keep Your Muzzle on the Muslims

From America With Hate

Weapons of Crass Destruction

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Violence Is Golden

Magnum Farce

Tunnel Vision

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Predator Drone!

My Bullets Are Your Bullets

I’m the NRA

More Fun Than a Barrel of Democracy

Legend Shmegend

Peekaboo!  I Slay You

American Psycho 2

The Sight-Seer

Lie Down And Fight Like A Man

Ready?  Aim. . . Expire!

The Accidental Terrorist

Nation-Buildin’

Kyle the Vile

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

My Life’s A Video Game

American Cipher

I’m a little concerned about the title Eastwood went with.  The word sniper has an unpleasant ring to it.  It rhymes with diaper, viper, and wiper.  Snipe is an anagram of penis, which is fitting when you consider firearms as phallic symbols (not that that’s a very nice thing to say about your penis, and I believe you owe it–him?–an apology).

But it’s good to know that after reducing the cradle of civilization to a shambles, the United States still knows how to make a refreshing glass of lemonade in the shape of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, transforming the suffering of millions of innocent people into lucrative entertainment.

(By the way, I apologize for the misanthropic tone of yesterday’s entry.  When I wrote that I crave the attention of people I respect even less than myself, I was only joking about the lack of respect part.  Or half-joking, since it’s true that I find it hard to respect people who build their whole lives around unquestioningly digested falsehoods.

Also, excuse me for getting the name of the Spanish conquistador wrong.  I meant to write Hernando Cortez, not Gregorio (a character in the title of a movie starring–if I’m not mistaken, although I probably am once again–Edward James Olmos, star of Miami Vice and the inspirational feel-good real-life heroic teacher flick Stand And Deliver).  My apologies to any descendants of Cortez who happen to read this blog.

“Oh, I Just Don’t Know Where To Begin”

For those of you who don’t recognize the quote that serves as the title of this post, it’s the opening line of Elvis Costello’s song “Accidents Will Happen,” the first song on his third album, Armed Forces.  I bought the disk on vinyl back in Belgium from a guy who actually let you play any album you wanted to buy in his shop before making your decision.  It was the four hundred and thirty fifth record I’d listened to and thought, “Yeah, this sounds pretty good.”  He gave me the nickname Goldilocks from them on, though I’m not sure why.

The joke was on me, however, as I couldn’t figure out how to insert the disk into my Walkman, so I used it as a cover to protect the spokes of the front wheel on my bicycle from the rain, not that that worked too well either.

Shortly before I left the country after living there for one year, the guy interviewed me for some right-wing newspaper he claimed to moonlight for (not that I knew it was a right-wing paper until one of the teachers at the art school I was attending as an exchange student mentioned it to me; but the teacher said the interview was surprisingly fair and balanced).  I can’t remember what he asked me or what I answered.  Please keep in mind this was nearly thirty-three years ago, a whole lifetime of Christ away.

By the way, did you know that Elvis Costello’s agent originally wanted the singer, whose real name is or was Declan McManus, to change his name to Presley Abbott?  Luckily, the young New Wave prodigy had a better idea up his guitar-playing sleeve.

Speaking of talented blokes who play the guitar, you might want to check out–or else buy, depending on whether the library you’re in carries the item–Rolling Stone magazine’s recent tribute to Canadian supersinger Neil Young, who’s just released his thirty-fifth album–at least it’s already available on YouTube, if not in stores.  I’ll have to buy a plane ticket to Belgium so I can go listen to it at that guy’s shop again if I can find the bloody place.

I refer to it as a bloody place not in a figurative sense, but because there was a grisly murder there when the owner finally snapped and beheaded a persnickety American customer who kept insisting on playing every album in the store from start to finish without ever buying anything, with the exception of one Elvis Costello album, along with the Police’s Ghost In The Machine.  

“Take that, Goldilocks!” said the man as he deftly wielded the black vinyl disk and lopped off the customer’s head, neatly cleaving his neck in twain without leaving a mark.

(Sting, by the way, who used to be the lead singer of the Police, even though he’d prefer that his fans bought his solo albums now instead of all that old “rubbish,” despite the quality of the band’s material far surpassing his solo work, was born Gordon Sumner, although his agent originally wanted to dub him Bite.)

Which reminds me, the mosquitos are still up to their same old tricks, biting my wrists in my sleep.  I wish they were hairier (my wrists, not the mosquitos), like Robin Williams’ or Jon Stewart’s, to defend them against these insatiable winged menaces.  (How do they stay so thin?  What’s their secret?)  Recently I met a man from Singapore who told me he once nearly died from a dengue fever-enhanced mosquito bite.  I wonder if the mosquitos have any idea how dangerous their sophomoric antics are.  Maybe if they did, they’d finally stop.  If only Doctor Dolittle were here, he’d know what to do. . .

I have a before and after picture of my friend Russ, who scarfs down vast Achillean shields of pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with snack time.  As you can probably guess, he has a few problems with girth control.  When his wife wants to hug him, all she has to do is stand spread-eagled Michael Brown post-police shootingwise, or like Jesus on the cross (Yesterday I first saw the photo of Brown on the pavement with the paint outlining his murdered body and found it one of the most chilling images I’d seen in a long time; it was cynically predictable that the cop who shot him would get off.  Good luck enjoying your life if you’re a black man living in the United States.  The police might make it tough for you, to say the least.  Author James Cone has written a book called The Cross And The Lynching Tree, which equates Jesus’ sacrifice with the unearned murders of far too many black people living in the United States.  You’ve probably heard that there are also now more African American men in prison in that country than were enslaved before the Civil War.)

Anyway, I showed Russ’s wife a picture of her husband from back when he was in high school and skinny as a mosquito and asked her, “Can you believe how thin he used to be?”

“That’s preposterous!” she said.

I’m not sure if she realized that her reply contained a pun, but nature works in strange ways.

Incidentally, when I was a kid I used to misinterpret the lyrics of a lot of the songs I heard on the radio.  For example, Billy Preston had a song called “Will It Go Round In Circles?”  But I thought he was saying “Willie Go Round In Circles.”  Had I grown up in Britain instead of the U.S., I would have snickered at such a witticism.  A willie-go-round could be another name for a circle jerk, or else an obsolete ride at some now-forbidden Roman carnival.

Finally, I apologize for not writing anything in so long.  I have no excuse apart from having been horribly depressed and paralyzed by a seemingly endless midlife crisis.  (Elmer Fudd, flustered about being unable to better help his wife manage their newborn triplets, who were despite their gender the spitting image of their dad, exclaimed, “I’m having a midwife kwysis!”)

Now that I’m half a century old, fat, balding, marginally employed, and trapped in a dull, childless marriage that seems to just keep going round in circles like the rodential thoughts jogging along the gerbil wheel inside my head, I feel more inconsequential than ever.

And even though I may have been to the mountaintop not far from where I live in an effort to shake off the jelly investing my resentful skeleton, I sometimes succumb to the urge to buy an ice cream cone when I get to the top, which totally defeats the purpose and makes my misanthropic responses to all the annoyingly young and happy couples infesting the perpetually populated tourist attraction all the more pathetic, not to mention unreasonable, ineffective, and irrelevant.

But hey, at least I’m not Bill Cosby.

What To Do In An Emergency

1.  If you’re having a heart attack, make sure to:

A) finish your cigarette.  B)  take a selfie.  C)  eat a cheeseburger.

2.  In the event you cut your hand badly:

A)  take a moment to appreciate what a pretty color crimson is.

B)  run around until you feel woozy.  It’s fun!

C)  remove one of your socks to make a tourniquet.

3.  If you wake up to find the house on fire:

A)  take several long, slow, deep, breaths.  That way you’ll be able to relax.

B)  break out the marshmallows and have a party.

C)  go back to sleep.  You’re probably just having a nightmare.

4.  If somebody sticks a gun in your face:

A)  read him his Miranda rights, then say, “Wait, aren’t you supposed to say these to me?”

B)  Say, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my suburb.”

C)  Look him in the eye and say, “I won’t come visit you in prison.”

5.  If you get hit by a car and the driver is kind enough to stop:

A)  ask, “Why did you do that?”

B)  say, “Thanks–I’ve always wanted to be killed by a Ferrari.”

C)  (if you’re lying on your back) point at the sky and say, “Methinks that cloud looks like a whale.”

6.  If the boat you’re on sinks and you find yourself drowning in the ocean:

A)  ask a fish for directions to the surface.

B)  inhale some seawater to provide yourself with refreshing and revitalizing electrolytes.

C)  find a large piece of plastic trash to hang onto until a Coast Guard cutter appears.