Interview with Vlad Tepes: Dracula the un-untold story

Historical fact: Vlad Tepes is in the all-time top 10 list of biggest A-holes.

Marty, there’s something wrong with your kids: they keep making terrible a-historical movie versions of Vlad Tepes, aka Dracula

Vlad TepesIn the wake of Hollywood’s latest a-historical stink-fest revolving around a certain Romanian Prince—I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with 2014’s Dracula Untold starring Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper and Sarah Gadon (Who? Who? & Who? Exactly!)—I jumped into my trusty time machine and went back to get the dirt dished by the pale pischer himself.

You may be asking, “What good is a time travel device if you don’t use it for your own childish amusement?” (OK, you probably didn’t ask that, but who asked you?). I had considered using my imaginary time machine to first go back and kill Hitler but, let’s face it, that plan is so common it’s become cliché. And, frankly, my German is a little rusty.

Anyways, having been annoyed by the release of yet another terrible movie about the inspiration for the character Dracula, I looked up Mr. Vlad Tepes “Bill & Ted” style and interviewed the inspiration for the character that helped Bela Lugosi pay for his decades-long smack habit. EDITOR’S NOTE: Be sure to read Vlad’s responses in a creepy clichéd Hollywood Dracula voice. Also, be sure to read my questions in a manly, not-at-all wussy, Chuck Norris voice.

GOHS – Thank-you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to speak with me today, in the year 1451, Mr. Tepes. (I included a year. That’s how you know it’s legit.)

VT – That’s pronounced “sepish” or, if I was shoving a pike into your taint, it would be pronounced “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” Ha-ha! Just kidding. But seriously, getting impaled hurts very much and is almost always fatal, and by “almost” I mean “always.”

GOHS – How was your childhood?

VT – Are you serious? My father gave me to a rival king in order to stave off war between our two nations. Let’s just say holidays were a little tense around the Tepes household.

GOHS – Favorite breakfast cereal?

VT – My doctor says I don’t get enough fiber and that I should eat more bran, but I really do love the Honey Combs.

GOHS – How did you come by your nickname?

VT – Because I’m hung like a … just kidding. Well, you may have heard that I have a bit of a temper and I’ve been known to fly off the handle and shove 14-foot sharpened rods through men’s torsos from time to time. But, I’m seeing a therapist now and we’ve had some really good breakthroughs. I’m really feeling good about me, you know.

GOHS – Speaking of killing, what’s it like?

VT – Oh, the joy of holding a man’s fate in your hands. It’s kind of like jerking off in public … unless you’ve done it, you just can’t imagine how good it feels. But, I will say this: It’s much more fun if someone is watching.

GOHS – People know you from your work in Romania, but we hear there is a silly side to Vlad.

VT – You mean “It’s Vlad!” My short-lived ‘80s sitcom? Yeah, the writing was OK, but there were too many producers bumping heads and, once we lost Suzanne Summers, the show pretty much went down the toilet. I don’t know how they ever talked me into playing a Russian pizza parlor owner in downtown Jerusalem. Funny, I actually met my 26th wife on the set.

GOHS – Favorite quote?

VT – “Don’t tase me bro!” I just love that. I have the T-shirt.

GOHS – Speaking of TV, didn’t you read for a part on “My Two Dads”?

VT – That was a crazy time. I was going through my 27th divorce and I was doing a lot of cocaine. My agent told me it would help soften my image but the director ended up going with Paul Reiser. He’s actually pretty funny—the director, not Paul Reiser. Ha! I’m just kidding. But, I’m not really kidding.

GOHS – What’s your biggest fear?

VT – Spiders. They give me the atomic heebie-jeebies.

GOHS – Favorite song?

VT – Well, this is going to sound kind of gay-ish, but when I hear “ Lonely Day” by System of a Down, I get a little misty.

GOHS – You used the word “gay-ish.” Are you a homophobe?

VT – Oh, here we go. You know, I’m getting sick and tired of you media scuzbags assassinating anyone who uses a word or a phrase you don’t like. Americans, of all peoples, should get over their hypersensitivity to words. You’re so lucky I don’t have a pike nearby. This interview is over!

 

Mister, can you spare a 401K?

gohs money

Until death do us work

Another thing middle age has made eye-wateringly apparent is how far off from my retirement goal I truly am.

At this stage in my life, I should have like three-quarters-of-a-million dollars socked away in order to remain fiscally solvent into my elder years.

The last time I checked, I had about three-quarters-of-a-thousand dollars in the bank, and most of that was earmarked for a house payment.

At this point in my life, I have pretty much two options: hope one of my kids is successful enough to let me move into their basement when I can no longer care for myself; or, rob a bank.

I’m not the Dog Day Afternoon type but I have to be realistic, here: I helped raise my kids.

This severely handicaps their chances to be good at anything, like hanging onto a library card or maintaining a free checking account. (Nothing but adequate for my legacy.)

And let’s say they do end up employed and not living on the street.

Are they going to use my misfortune as an opportunity to exact revenge on me for all the bad parenting they endured?

Are they going to yell at me to turn down my music and complain when I leave clothes all over the floor?

And diapers!

At least they weren’t conscious when I was wiping their asses.

How awkward is that conversation going to be?

“So, dad, it smells like you’ve pooped your pants.”

“I’ll be damned. I sure did.”

“So, I’m going to fondle your scrotum with a dirty wash cloth and not make eye contact with you while I wipe your butt.”

“Sounds good, son. I will be committing suicide shortly after.”

“Oh, pop, what a relief.”

Conversely, I am not bank robber material.

Firstly, my handwriting is so poor they likely wouldn’t understand my demands.

Secondly, I’m nonviolent. Who am I going to threaten?

Teller: “Sir, I can’t ‘bug top monkey panther bong’ because I don’t know what in hell that means.”

Me: “Nobody move or the ficus gets it!”

Teller: “Sir, that’s not a gun in your pocket. I can see the yellow stem.”

Me: “Is too!”

Teller: “Is not.”

Me: “Click-click!”

Teller: “Sir, did you just cock your banana?”

Me: “Can I order some checks? The ones with the baby ducks on them?”

FRICKIN 40 DARK BLUE - webMore of this kind of nonsense in my new book  “Frickin 40: Funny Stories About Middle Age” here: http://www.amazon.com/Frickin-40-Funny-Stories-Middle-Age/dp/0692450238/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448689378&sr=8-1&keywords=frickin+40

Who needs the fountain of youth? Apparently, me

Goth girl photo by Marc Planard
Goth girl photo by Marc Planard, courtesy Wikimedia

Looking for the middle age fountain of youth.

When I was younger and used to hear older people say they wouldn’t go back to being young for anything, I always thought they were lying or mistaken in how they truly felt.

After all, what problems of being broke, dealing with minor drama, etc. don’t pale in comparison to the health issues, fatigue, boredom and cold unfeeling death just around the corner for those of us in middle age?

Now that I am older and have been able to consider the benefits and downsides to them both, I understand exactly what the old-timers were saying, and they were completely full of shit.

Wrinkle creams, mud facials, cosmetic surgery, pills, powders, oils, various exotic animal genitalia, all these products and more go into creating a several-billion-dollar-a-year industry intended to serve the millions and billions of us who don’t want to look old, who don’t want to be tired, who don’t want to give up sex or to stop wearing sexy clothing.

Most people are not OK with growing old.

They just don’t say anything about it publicly because it would be too damned depressing.

“Hey, guys, remember when we had energy and smooth skin and sex was awesome, and we could hold our pees and poos and the future wasn’t so scary?

Boy, that really sucked, didn’t it!?”

Following is a list of old-age remedies that may offer some limited efficacy:

  1. Sex with a person younger than yourself – Doesn’t reverse the aging process and can actually make you feel older when they’re ready to keep going but you have to take a break from doing the hunka-chunka to test your blood sugar and hit your inhaler. Also, seriously increases chances of contracting herpes and pissing off the spouse.
  2. Spinning around and around in circles (even counterclockwise ones) – Scientists have discovered this won’t actually send you back in time. It’s really only good at inducing vomiting. Does offer some cardio benefits.
  3. Making wishes after blowing out birthday cake candles – Apparently, this only works in the movies. Other similar activities to avoid: making a wish after blowing away eyelash; making wish after blowing hobo pretending to be a genie.
  4. Jumping into secluded woodland pond – While the regenerative effects are in dispute, what you can count on is upping your chances of contracting spinal meningitis, bloodsucking leeches and the ability to shoot diarrhea down both pant legs.
  5. Capturing leprechaun – Contrary to science books, this doesn’t work. Mainly because they do not exist. However, if you are holding a leprechaun captive, you should probably let him or her go because this is just a small person who likes to wear green. (Be sure to ask for wishes anyway because, hey, it can’t hurt, right?)
  6. Kissing bearded women – No magical powers to speak of; watch out for whisker burn and residual “thank-you” cakes delivered to your home or office for years to come.
  7. Listening to Strawberry Fields Forever by the Beatles, backward – What many stoned teenyboppers in the ‘60s and ‘70s thought was an eerie statement about John killing Paul or Ringo falling down or Paul loaning John ten dollars was actually a recipe for brownies—pot brownies. Eating the brownies may make you feel younger for a short time. (Watch out for leprechauns.)
  8. Standing next to someone older – While this may give the illusion of appearing younger by comparison, no actual young-i-fying will occur. Also, the old people will begin to wonder why you are stalking them. Beware of pepper spray, restraining orders and being run down by electric mobility scooters.
  9. Getting bit by a vampire – True, in mythology, one who is bitten by a vampire and survives will be cursed—make that blessed—with eternal life. However, just because the fanged fat girl dressed in all black drew blood on you in the bathroom at the office Halloween party, it doesn’t mean you’re going to turn into the undead. Those odd looking discolorations on her were not “Vampire birthmarks” as she had indicated. In fact, your best bet would be to get down to the free clinic and get tested … or soon you may well be sleeping in a coffin.
  10. Hollywood beauty creams – Those movie stars with the perfect skin and the size-zero bellies look 30 years younger alright but it has nothing to do with the overpriced yak semen they’re hawking on late-night TV. If you want to look like them you need to find a good plastic surgeon and adopt anorexia as a new hobby. Remember, nothing tastes as good as it feels to be dizzy and anemic. Plus, just think of how much money you’ll save on groceries. You could buy soooo many amphetamines!
  11. Water cleanses – Lately there have been all sorts of miracle “cleansers” you can make by adding cucumber slices and lime wedges to ordinary tap water. You know what you get when you add odd combinations of fruits and vegetables to your drinking water? You get expensive flavored water, and possibly the runs.
  12. Avoiding all sunlight – This is actually one of the few things you can do to slow the aging process, of your skin at least. Sure, you’ll have to forgo pretty much all social activity other than night clubs and hanging out with the janitorial crews at the local high school, but who’ll be laughing when you show up to visit your friends in the skin cancer ward looking all Elizabethan aristocracy and such? (Ditto if you’re into the whole vampire scene. Note to self: get moving on script about wise-beyond-their-years teenage vampires who are all afflicted with cancer. Could call it “Pretty Little Vampires.”)
  13. Get a new body – You could just upload your thoughts into a new husk. There are three main ways to do this: hire an alien to use his super advanced mind-switching ray on you. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure this service does not include anal probes and short-term memory loss; or, you can buy an African spiritual artifact from a pawn shop. For the haunted artifact switch to work, you will need a helper. Be sure your victim—I mean “new body”—is holding onto the lion’s gallbladder or rhinoceros penis or whatever it is before you begin the magic chant. Remember, you only get one shot at this. (Two, if you’re Andrew McCarthy) Third, find a Dr. Frankenstein type. This really should be your last resort. These mad scientists aren’t practicing regular medicine for a reason. Be sure to inspect the new body your brain will be going into for freshness and go online to authenticate the status of your doc’s malpractice insurance. Also, be sure to inspect his ride. How a mad scientist maintains the inside of his car is usually a good indication of how clean his laboratory will be. If it smells like cologne, leave it alone. If it smells like soap, give it a grope.

Speaking of which: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C9IJ4HfV5A

Kumquat Ferrari & the meaning(lessness) of life

Kumquat public domainA man gets to a certain age and he starts to wonder what it’s all about.

What am I doing here?

Why are things the way they are?

Why can’t Samuel L. Jackson say “no” to a script?

Why am I the only one capable of putting toilet paper back on the spindle?

Why won’t the wife let me get a trained hippopotamus?

Now, me, I gave up on pondering any “greater meaning” possibilities a long time ago. As far as I can see, we are a lonely clod of dirt floating through a hale of rocks ranging in size from “make a wish” to “kiss your sweet ass goodbye.” That doesn’t mean life has no meaning, mind you.

That may sound counter-intuitive, but folks like me find all sorts of meaning in this life: smell a flower, feed a homeless person, feed a homeless person’s cat, mow a homeless person’s lawn—wait a minute!

One of the best ways to spend our time in a purposeful manner is by serving others. I, myself, as a great human who deserves to be patted on the back while throngs of fans genuflect before me, once spent part of a winter volunteering at a soup kitchen. Of course, we offered sandwiches, too, so maybe we were a soup and sandwich kitchen.

It was a good experience that taught me some valuable lessons about humility. None of the clients who came through behaved like they were owed something. If anything, they were embarrassed to be asking for help—a little too embarrassed. I’m on to you, poor people!

Just last night, the wife asked what I thought the meaning of life was. (She knows better than to ask me what I’m thinking.) I said I thought it was to enjoy life, to take care of each other as much as possible and to learn as much as we can so we may pass on good, useful information to younger generations so that they may do even better than we did.

She nodded while I spoke. I was so eloquent, you should have seen me. And then I farted, long and loud. It wasn’t planned, but my butt’s vaudevillian display, in light of my deep soliloquy, punctuated my ridiculousness perfectly. Which reminds me of another meaningful activity in this life—laughing. Make sure you take time to laugh with the ones you love. And fart. The family that farts together stays together, in separate rooms, but more or less together.

And, just remember, no matter how down you get about life, no matter how bad things seem to get, just remember that once, while he was visiting the White House, Good Morning America weatherman Al Roker shit his pants.

Maybe, just maybe, all I need to give my life more meaning and to perk up these middle-age doldrums is something as simple as a change in moniker. I’ve actually been playing around with the idea lately. Who knows what I could accomplish if, instead of boring old Ben Gohs, I was Hector Villinovo or Bruce Balzac?

I can picture it now: Hello, my name is Kumquat Ferrari and I have come in the name of planet Earth. I claim this land for the United States of America and her President, Bill Maher. (Hey, it’s my fantasy. If you want Reagan, pic Reagan.)

Maybe a rose would be just as sweet if it had a different name but who wants a dozen glunks for Valentine’s Day?

I think the names we humans get can have a serious impact on where we end up in this life. Oh, sure, the wild creatures like the bears and bees and monkeys don’t care about things like names, but that’s because they are dumb.

Have you ever seen a monkey drive a car? No. I saw a bear ride a bicycle at the circus once but all he did was go in circles. If I was that bear I would have been like “Adios, suckers!” and I would have broke the hell out.

Can you imagine a bike-riding bear in the Tour De France? I bet he’d maul the competition. Seriously, he wouldn’t be the fastest but he could just bite all the other bikers and then take a nap and cross the finish line whenever. Who’s going to argue with a 10-foot grizzly on a ten-speed? (Did I mention he was a 10-foot grizzly?)

Just look at all the successful people with cool and strange names: Charlton Heston, Fuzzy Zoeller, Wolverine. What if Arnold Schwarzenegger had been named Wayne Smith? What if pizza was called “skirk” … what would you fellas like on your skirk? Does that skirk come with garlic crust? How many slices on a large skirk?

I haven’t done much as Benjamin Jon Gohs, but just think what I could accomplish as Kumquat Ferrari! I would have the confidence to conquer worlds, to reach for previously unknown heights—like breaking the land speed record on foot—not to mention telling the wife that I’m not the only one capable of hauling the trash out to the road every Thursday. (The fact that I love trash day should not matter. She could at least offer. I think the whole bad back thing is just a ruse anyhow.)

Kumquat Ferrari could take on Martians, Russians, Al Quaedas and MetaboLife salesmens. Kumquat Ferrari would make love with his boots on, instead of pawing confusedly under the covers in flip-flops until he is told to stop.

Kumquat Ferrari drives a jet-powered motorcycle with intercontinental ballistic missiles and a giant death laser, not a rusty green mini-van that fat chicks at Walmart all seem to mistake for their own.

Kumquat Ferrari likes to live dangerously, like prune juice and long walks through the mall, dangerously.

My 30-day Chuck Norris & Tacos health challenge

Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris

There’s nothing more cliche for a middle-ager than to suddenly start a dangerous exercise and dietary regimen.

Here’s mine: I’ve drawn up a 30-day plan to get started on the path of where I want to go. It’s going to take more than a month to undo all that I have done over my first 39-and-a-half years but this will be a good jump-start.

Day one: Watch Chuck Norris “Total Gym” infomercial. Notes: You’re gonna feel pumped after watching it but you don’t want to overdo it on your first day. Better just take it easy. (Remember not to think unclean thoughts about Chuck’s hot wife. You promised yourself!)

Day two: You need to heal from the previous day’s workout, so rest and drink plenty of water.

Day three: Start morning with egg white omelet and brisk walk to kitchen for ketchup.

Day four: You’re warmed up now. Put 350 pounds on bench press bar. Facebook picture of 350 pounds on bench press bar.

Day five: Work up good sweat digging remote out of couch cushions. Cardio is vital.

Day six: Skip-rope routine. Excuse me, I meant “skip rope routine.” That shit is insane.

Day seven: Do you think Johnny Depp is crazy in real life?

Day nine: No workout. (There must be some foreign-sounding holiday that began yesterday.)

Day ten: Spend thirty minutes flexing in front of mirror while talking in Macho Man Randy Savage voice: “No agony, no brag-a-dy. Oh yeah!”

Day eleven: Do sit-up. (This is not a typo.)

Day twelve: Order Richard Simmons workout video tapes. (Hope to one day sweat to oldies, and find a VCR.)

Day thirteen: Binge on Taco Bell. Spend next three days in bed, crying.

Day seventeen: Desperate to make progress, attempt to lift 350 pounds on bench press bar.

Day eighteen: Wake up under bench press bar. Wash dried blood off face. Change underpants.

Day thirty: Doc says hernia should heal nicely.

Epilogue shmepilogue: I remember me fondly

ben gohs with cigarDearly beloved, we are gathered here today to carry on as though this guy was far less of an asshole than he really was.

Benjamin Gohs died suddenly after falling off his roof.

The paramedics tried to save him but he fought off their attempts, and they were forced to Taser him until he collapsed in a melange of his own bodily fluids.

Some say he left this world drunk and confused.

Others say he was just drunk.

Either way, he was completely naked, if you don’t count the scarf, boots, and aviator goggles.

Benjamin was a poetic man.

He used to sip his beloved cherry bourbon while reciting prose.

“The fault dear Cassius is not in the stars but in ourselves,” he would say between drinks.

A deep man, he liked to toast each new glass of spirits with one of his myriad musings.

“Let’s kick sobriety in the dick,” he’d say, and then he would.

When he wasn’t boozing, Benjamin enjoyed a wide variety of leisure time activities that included eating Taco Bell and writing filthy homoerotic letters to his brothers, which delighted him greatly but worried his wife.

A simple man, Benjamin enjoyed the simple things in life: sitting in his rocking chair while cleaning his shotgun and saying things like “Storms a-comin’” and “‘Bout time to harvest the rutabaga” in his 1840s miner voice.

Benjamin was a gentle, patient man, unless you angered him.

Then he would yell quite loudly and throw things at you.

His favorite things to throw were shoes and boots, though he was also fond of throwing books and dishes—really anything which could be hurled with malicious intent.

The consummate family man, Benjamin loved his wife dearly, and he never fantasized about running away to Mexico with two strippers, a midget butler and a talking monkey.

A great father (the world’s greatest, according to some coffee cups) Benjamin adored his children and didn’t at all think they were lazy or dumb.

Ben was an animal lover (but not like that one tabloid claimed) and took wonderful care of his Shih Tzu Maisy.

In hopes of decreasing the suffering of all animals, Benjamin also abstained from the eating of meat, except for thin-sliced, smoked deli turkey, because turkeys are stupid and ugly, and also delicious.

A charitable man, Ben never hesitated to give money to needy single mothers, for he knew that every dollar bill he gave those young dancers would bring them one step closer to the edge of the stage.

Benjamin Gohs wasn’t an educated man. But, despite having dropped out of college after only a half a semester, he had opinions on a great many things.

Ben could always tell when he was smarter than someone else, especially if they disagreed with him.

And, though his answers to the Jeopardy TV show questions were often wrong, he always yelled them the loudest.

What can we say about Benny that hasn’t already been written on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list?

Far from a religious man, Ben preferred to put his faith in science.

His final wishes were to be stored in cryogenic suspension so that, if scientists ever figured out a way to cure death by electrocution after falling off a roof, drunk, he would be thawed.

He also noted that, while you’re at it, give him horns and one arm that’s a machine gun, plus also laser vision and a built-in jet pack.

Luckily, his wife had him cremated.

Now stay tuned for a performance by special guests Penn & Teller.

How to commit the perfect murder

butler-with-poisonThe butler probably didn’t do it

I think if a door-to-door insurance salesman comes into your house to try to sell you a term life policy, and he’s wearing thick leather gloves the entire time, it’s OK to ask him if he’d like a glass of lemonade.

And then, while his back is turned, you should conk him over the head with the biggest flower vase within arm’s reach because chances are he was going to try to strangle you anyway.

But maybe you shouldn’t, because he just might be embarrassed about a wart on one of his fingers and, what’s he going to do, wear only one glove?

And why does he have to explain himself?

What’re you, the glove police?

If I was going to murder someone again I think I would use poison because at least you could share a nice meal together before one of you died … and something tells me it will be much less messy than stuffing the mailbox with rabid weasels.

When you both are done eating, your victim will likely start sweating and complaining about stomach cramps and double-vision instead of complimenting you on the linen napkins and the radish roses.

And, you’ll probably get really angry and think, “Man, I wish this guy was dead.”

And then, while you’re pouring coffee and slicing pie, you’d be like, “Oh yeah, the poison!” (Note: keep a short list of names of people you could frame for murder.)

The old cliché in murder mysteries is that the butler did it. By “it” they usually mean “murder.”

Of course, if you’re watching a show about butlers who are really great at, say, ice-sculpting or making authentic Texas chili, then “it” could be referring to an entirely different subject.

Anyways, the butlers are always taking the heat for the death of some Bulgarian countess who mysteriously threw herself off the roof after fatally shooting herself in the back six times.

It usually goes a little something like this: “Whoever could have beaten Lady Farington to death with this frozen turkey leg?”

Then some detective always goes guest by guest, naming off all the reasons they had to kill Lady Farington before he finally gets to the real culprit.

“Admiral Scheizenstein’s motive was that he once had an affair with Lady Farington and Lady Farington told all her friends he was hung like a gopher.”

Then Admiral Scheizenstein would shout “Nonsense!” while lighting his ridiculously huge pipe.

I mean so big that it’s obvious he’s trying to make a statement but not so big that you’d automatically think he has a small penis.

But then his eyes would dart back and forth all suspicious-like, and everyone would start wondering just how big a gopher is down there.

Then, after spending like an hour convincing you that these twenty people each had a great reason to kill Lady Farington, the detective would point at the butler, who is probably busy emptying the ash tray that Admiral Scheizenstein keeps filling up every ten minutes or so.

There’s never really a good explanation as to why the butler did it.

Perhaps it was out of boredom, or maybe he saw some other butlers doing it and he just really wanted to fit in with the cool servants.

But, if you think about it, the butler really is the last person who would commit a murder.

For one, he’s so busy cooking and cleaning and answering the door for all these rich and important dinner guests (who apparently don’t have anything in the fridge at home) and lighting giant pipes and refilling brandy glasses and measuring gopher weenies for curious guests, that he simply doesn’t have the time to pencil in a homicide.

And then there is the job security.

If he kills his own employer then he’s out of a job.

If he kills one of his master’s dinner guests he’s going to be fired at the very least.

And, how long do you think it’ll be before word gets out that Jeeves has a psychotic streak?

You might not know it from staring at the sun for hours on end, but rich people talk to one another.

When they talk it’s generally through clenched teeth and using words like “indubitably” and “pishtosh” and “Don’t look now but here comes gopher dick!”

Most importantly, even if your manservant does develop a sudden blood-lust, he’s so busy shining your shoes and fluffing your hemorrhoid pillows that he’s not going to make more work for himself.

If he does decide to drop a thousand-pound crystal chandelier on Colonel Fatso, guess who’s going to be the one sweeping up the shards and dragging 300 pounds of khaki and sideburns (Colonel Fatso just returned from an African safari) down to the incinerator?

That’s right, the butler!

These murder mysteries are often the subject of some crazed braniac seeking to commit the perfect murder.

I sometimes think about committing the perfect murder, usually when I’m waiting for the priest to wrap up his sermon but also sometimes when I’m stabbing a homeless person in a dark alley, or when the delivery guy forgets the French dressing for my garden salad—again!

And, though it would cost around $8.5 billion and take nearly a year of planning, I think I’ve come up with the ultimate plan for getting away with murder.

Step 1: Find a really trusting rich guy and ask to borrow $8.5 billion.

Step 2: Swim in money like rich cartoon duck. (How often is this opportunity going to present itself?)

Step 3: Hire mad scientist to either clone you or build super lifelike robot. (See if Stallone’s plastic surgeon is available.)

Step 4: Purchase ticket on Russian space shuttle for robot/clone. Has to be done like a year in advance. (Establishes alibi. Cop: “Where were you at the time of the murder?” You: “I was in space with the Russians.” Cop: “OK. Seems legit.”)

Step 5: Treat yourself and robot/clone to a day at the spa. (You’ve been working hard and could use some relaxation. Go on, you’ve earned it!)

Step 6: Choose victim who deserves to die. (Possible list could include George Zimmerman, Michael Vick, pizza delivery guy who keeps “forgetting” your French dressing.)

Step 7: Learn victim’s daily routine. (Be sure to wear dark sunglasses, top hat and trench coat so as not to arouse suspicion.)

Step 8: Send away for mail-order hippopotamus and trainer. (Don’t skimp on the quality of hippo or trainer. Cannot stress this point enough.)

Step 9: Train hippo to attack on command. (While the trainer is at it, might as well teach the hippo to get you beers from the fridge and roll over and play dead when you hold your hand like a gun and say “bang!”)

Step 10: Sick trained hippo on trainer. (Can’t have any witnesses. Probably should avoid becoming friends with trainer or things could get awkward.)

Step 11: Take hippo out for day at spa. (Might as well get hippo’s nails painted and Instagram it. “Spa hippo” has got to get a gazillion shares.)

Step 12: Stop screwing around. (Better get the robot/clone to start shoveling hippo dumplings or it’s going to be to the ceiling in no time.)

Step 13: Create fliers that say “Free Hippo Rides.” (Paper victim’s neighborhood with fliers.)

Step 14: Go to pizza shop and order lunch. While waiting at the counter, talk loudly about how much fun hippo rides are. (Say things like, “Man that hippo ride sure was fun and it was free, too.”)

Step 15: Check bag before leaving to make sure they remembered the napkins and the goddamn French dressing.

Step 16: Eat lunch at home while waiting for delivery driver to show up for his free hippo ride. Try not to stare menacingly out the window too much. (Try to smile casually at neighbors who pass by. Don’t smile like a guy who has a killer hippopotamus—you know the type.)

Step 17: If delivery guy doesn’t show up, you’ll have to call for more food. (Make sure this is same day as your robot/clone is going up in the Russian rocket. Remember, a good murder is all about the alibi. Also, be sure to give robot/clone enough cash to bring back some sweet souvenirs, like a set of those nesting dolls and maybe some Siberian tiger jerky.)

Step 18: When delivery driver shows up, tell Steve to attack. (Probably should have mentioned the hippo’s name is Steve. Hey, when you have a hippo, you can name it anything you want.)

Step 19: While Steve is mauling the delivery driver, now would be a good time to wrap up your extra salad and bread sticks. You can always take them in to work tomorrow for lunch.

Step 20: When robot/clone gets back, put him to work giving hippo rides for like $5 or something. After all, you’ve got to figure out how to pay back the $8.5 billion. (Hey, you’re a murderer, not a liar. Oh, be sure to check out the going rate on hippo rides so you don’t undercut yourself.)

Step 21: Just sit back and smile as the hippo cash rolls in. (Try not to smile like a guy who just committed the perfect murder. You know the type.)

Does your author platform come with a noose?

I’m staging an intervention and I need your help.

It’s not for a heroin addict or a pill popper.

We won’t be drying out any alcoholics or de-icing a meth head.

The party that needs intervening in this case is a rootin-tootin’, platform-building, social media whoring, blogging, bragging, taco-eating, bourbon-swilling, essay-writing need-machine—me.

I know what you’re thinking, “But he seems so together.’

A facade, my friends.

Some might even say a metaphorical mask. (Note: Concept of people wearing metaphorical masks to hide who they truly are sounds very original. Explore this further before someone else does.)

I’ve known for some time there was a problem.

However, it wasn’t until I read a blog by a guy complaining about people who only “follow” him and “like” his blog entries with reciprocation in mind that I realized there was a problem.

He went on and on about how some people would “like” his posts seconds after he posted them even though some of his pieces would have taken minutes to read.

Read that blog here: https://nosajnawk.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/patrick-latter-fake-liker-and-follower-im-still-sorry-though/ I read with disgust as he detailed several individuals who he mentioned in his posts, complaining about how he knew they were simply spammy “likers” and how some of those folks actually “liked” the posts wherein they had been rebuked by him for their behavior.

I couldn’t believe the gall. I was appalled by such blatant phoniness.

I was just as guilty as the people he complained about. (About whom he complained? Really, Yoda?)

I felt so bad, I stopped following the guy.

Sorry, Mr. Johnson.

You see, in my desperation to build my “author platform” I took some very bad advice.

What’s an author platform, you ask?

Well, shit-a-loo, young Johnnie Crumb, put away those recovered memories of that summer in your uncle’s tool shed, pull up a hemorrhoid pillow and give a read-see.

Uncle Benny (no relation) will explain everything.

You see, an author platform is a magical place where literally tens and twelves of your family members, coworkers and at least one guy who doesn’t read or speak English are exposed to your clever quips about how ketchup and mustard sound like “cat soup” and “mouse turd.”

This, of course, is interspersed with pleas for folks to buy your book.

Oh, sure, every new writer balks at the idea of the author platform.

After all, if yon scribe is expected to give writing samples away for free on a website, look and sound interesting to people on four to seven different social media sites, query agents and publishers, network with other writers, join writing groups and attend conferences … when in good-fuck will there be time to write?

What fool told you anyone gives a shit about quality writing anymore?

Have you not read the international bestseller “The Book of Awesome” and its sequels “The Book of More Awesome” and one that is some horseshit about holidays being awesome? (The last one isn’t the actual title.)

This series of books is a compilation of trite statements about everyday occurrences.

Each “chapter,” which can be from a sentence long to a page long, ends with the word “Awesome!”

This isn’t the worst of it but it shows you the type of doucherie that apparently sells giant-prick-gobs of books these days:

“Gliding down the bike path on a Saturday morning, you whip by somebody peddling in the opposite direction and give each other a nod. For a moment it’s like ‘Hey, we’re both doing the same thing. Let’s be friends for a second.’”

Let’s not be friends—for even a second.

Ever.

But let’s do buy my book!

“But Ben,” you say, “author platform surely cannot make up for crappy craftsmanship.” (Note: Tweet word “crapmanship” along with picture of a poorly built birdhouse later.)

Au contraire, Pooh Bear.

Any self-appointed publishing guru worth his weight in goat testicles would gladly bet their YouTube webinar, large print e-book and flop sweat on the imperative that—if you want even a Kardashian’s chance in a free clinic at landing that metaphysical hand-job of bliss incarnate—you’d better get platforming.

(All angstiness aside, You should read Chuck Sambuchino’s book because it’s full of lots of good information: http://www.amazon.com/Create-Your-Writer-Platform-Building-ebook/dp/B00A3WRQTI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428073957&sr=8-1&keywords=chuck+sambuchino+writer%27s+platform )

“Platform!” they cried and platform I did.

To hell with Pavlov, when you’ve wanted something so badly for so long, nobody needs to ring the dinner bell to get you drooling in your Bates Floataways.

They said “Go post, young man.” And I did. And I do. And I done. And I-e-i-e-i will always love you-oo-oo-oo-i will always love yooooooooooooooooooou!

How does that Faulkner quote go?

“I can’t go blog. I’ll go blog.”

I subscribed to dozens of blogs, many of which I had no interest in. (In which I had no interest? Fuck you, Yoda!)

I began bestowing my digital thumbs-up of approval on articles and memes, photographs and quips which often came nowhere near the high standards of my comedy snobbery.

It’s gotten to the point where I no longer feel right wearing my top hat and monocle.

I began begging everybody and their brother to read my manuscripts with the idea that I would take their feedback and improve my book … and then come back later and sell them the same book once I landed my big fat juicy book deal.

After all, they weren’t people, they were platform.

Mom and dad became the 50 to 60 demographic.

Aunts and uncles and cousins got reduced to beta readers and book reviewers.

My friends were deputized as sales associates and expected to give away free copies of “I’m So Great & Other Delusions of a libertarian, socialist, vegetarian, Buddhist, hypochondriac, shut-in” (yes, that’s the real title. See what self-publishing leads to?) but only after securing verbal agreements that those poor schmucks they cajoled would also leave good feedback on GoodReads and good Amazon.

After six years of avoiding Twitter, I opened an account and began posting “hilarious” non sequiturs after reading no less than two books and countless articles about how having a fat stack of Tweeps (heaps of Tweeps?) was just about the only way anyone was ever going to get a traditional publisher of non-fiction books to pat you on the ass and whisper those magic words we scribblers all long to hear:

“I’ll settle up at the bar while you get us a room.”

Then I linked up with the LinkedIn, even though nearly all of the 190 or so contacts I have are all wearing suits and have job titles like “Distribution Delivery Management Supervising Manager” and “Director of International Domestic Acquisitions of Sesquipedalian Syntax Transmogrifiers.”

I think I know five people on LinkedIn and have met three of them in person. (Hi, mom!)

I was already on Facebook with my whopping 99 “friends” on a roster of folks who are mostly family members who use the program just often enough to update the fam’ on who died this calendar year.

And, let’s not forget the handful of strangers whose “friend” requests I accepted out of sheer desperation to build my author platform, because Chuck Norris, God and Stephen King know the internet killed the paperback star by tearing out his guts and stuffing his chest cavity full of cat photos, tit pics and stolen music files.

Buy … my … book!

I went through the trouble to fill out all the forms on the Google+ just around two weeks before I read an article that said Google+ was dead. (Thanks a lot, Obama!)

Some experts say I’m supposed to be on several more social media sites but I have no interest in Pinterest and Instagram just confuses the ever-living-shit out of me.

Besides, if I start another account, I’m going to have to take that time out of my day job and I can’t because my boss is an asshole. (Did I mention I’m self-employed?)

I mean, I’ve been a workaholic most of my adult life, but this is just getting ridiculous. I run a weekly newspaper that takes up anywhere from 60 to 100 hours a week of my time.

High-maintenance Maisy
High-maintenance Maisy

The rest of my waking hours (which are relatively ample due to sleep troubles) are divided among pimping my first book of humor essays, looking for an agent and publisher for my new humor book, writing and posting material on my website, trying to come up with funny and pithy pictures and sentences for the combined seven people who actually look at my stuff on Twitter and Facebook, helping my wife with her book project (read: yet another author platform) and taking care of a high-maintenance Shih Tzu.

 

Oh, and I always find time to shovel what little disposable income I have at the frustrated novelists turned literary coaches who write books on how to become a successful author.

Because, apparently, all the really successful authors on the planet are too busy selling their novels to waste time writing books on how to get published by writing great books. (Except Stephen King. His “On Writing” is fabulous and I recommend to everyone. Though, you probably shouldn’t take any advice from a such a literary curmudgeon like me.)

Now back to the intervention.

The best way you can help me is by not encouraging me.

Don’t “like” any of my Facebook posts.

Don’t “favorite” any of my Tweets.

Under no circumstances are you to “recommend” me for anything on LinkedIn.

And, for King’s sake, don’t agree to read any of my manuscripts. (Except for Don, he’s already started and I really want to hear his feedback.)

Please do read King’s book. I had mostly decided to give up my goal of writing for a living back in the early 2000s. It wasn’t until I got his book for Christmas, probably in 2001, that I read it and was inspired to keep on keepin’ on.

It would be just two short years later that I began writing professionally for a smallish newspaper, and eight years before I would go on to start my own newspaper http://www.boynegazette.com/

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to working on my author platform.

Oh, and another thing, buy my book!

Follow this link to buy my first humor book “I’m So Great & Other Delusions”: http://goo.gl/y1Hi8J

Get Stephen King’s book here: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-10th-Anniversary-Memoir-Craft/dp/1439156816/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428074257&sr=8-1&keywords=stephen+king+on+writing

EDITOR’S NOTE: I do understand the importance of building an author platform, and appreciate all the readers, writers, industry veterans and noobs like myself who have helped and continue to help me to construct mine.

I love you all! (throws kisses)

Bacteria, bullets and birthday cake: the week I turned 40

I don’t usually celebrate birthdays but a man only reaches the four-decade mark once; twice, if he lives to 80, but Taco Bell and cherry whiskey know that ain’t happening.

A glutton always, I decided to go with what the young people call a “birthday week.” It’s generally reserved for royalty but, if some snot-nosed, 20-something shift manager at Abercrombie gets to eat cake for seven days, then so did I.

Saturday – midlife crisis began with the purchase of a new rifle.

Sunday – Looking online at keen accessories for new purchase. Pretty uneventful except for a strange feeling in my left ear.

Monday – Ear feeling worse. Reconsidered the purchase but justified it by reasoning that it wasn’t nearly as bad as a mistress or a sports car or a sports mistress. And it was certainly cheaper than those chin implants I’d been eying.

Monday evening – Decided to dip into birthday whiskey a few days early. Half a bottle later and I was listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and feeling sentimental. Messaged the old man about the purchase. We don’t talk much, but the conversation went well … until it abruptly ended when cherry whiskey told my father (picture Big Jake McCandles) I loved him. We don’t do that in my family. (We sure as hell don’t do it when one of us is sober.)

Determined to have a good time, me and cherry whiskey pressed on. Round about midnight or so we realized that, if the Taliban were to suddenly break down the front door, we would be severely outgunned.

Birthday mistake number four: placing an order for a thousand rounds of ammunition.

I’ll recap my mistakes up to that point for all you pot smokers out there:

1. Too much gun for too much money.

2. Too much whiskey for too much Benny.

3. Too much “Daddy I love you.”

4. Too much ammo!

Tuesday – Awakened with cherry flavored hangover and noticeable lump on left side of neck just under sore ear. Reviewed and deleted online chat with father.

Wednesday & Thursday – Blur of ear pain and what my brother refers to as “hulk neck” as the mystery illness worsened.

Friday – First of three birthday wishes came true when the wife came home with Taco Bell for dinner. Despite ear pain and hulk neck, Friday went pretty smooth … until approximately 12:36 a.m. I was half-watching a classic movie and half-wondering about my ear when I decided to take a picture of it. It was roughly 12:37 a.m. when I identified the large scab on the squiggly part of my outer ear (the squiggis?) as flesh-eating bacteria. Mere moments of breathlessly viewing the internet carnival of medical horror slideshows confirmed the diagnosis.

The wife, of course, was deep in sleep after having spent the day traveling to and from Saginaw for work conferences. I considered this carefully before shoving my phone in her hand and demanding she compare Friday’s photo with the one I had forced her to take Tuesday morning.

The following transcript has had incoherent grunts and coherent swears removed:

The Wife: Are you kidding?

Gohs: This time it’s really really real.

The Wife: Flesh-eating bacteria? Again?

Gohs: Yes, on my squiggis.

The Wife: Squig-what?!?

Gohs: Look at the pictures. It’s definitely necrotizing fasciitis.

The Wife: Necro—what? Were you reading medical journals again?!?

Unwelcome among the sleeping, I paced nervously around the dining room until too tired to stand. I then knelt by the bed and stared at the photos of my ear until I passed out.

Saturday – I awakened around 8:35 a.m., still in praying child pose. I must have slept on my hands, because they were both numb from the wrists down. This caused me to jump up and run around the house shouting, “I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke!” until the feeling returned. Then, I made a pot of coffee.

The birthday week ended with a big slice of chocolate frosted yellow cake but not before I spent an hour studying it for poison.

You see, the daughter had dropped it—topside down—on the grocery store parking lot, and I was concerned about the toxic slurry of gas, brake fluid, anti-freeze, motor oil, and god only knows what else.

Eventually, we cut the pastry but forwent song and candles, and retired to separate rooms to eat in silence.

I am happy to report my case of hulk neck has disappeared (second birthday wish granted) and the ear is better.

I have also decided I will not be celebrating any more birthdays unless I reach age 80, at which time I’ll know whether my third birthday wish came true. And maybe by then I’ll have used up some of this ammo.

Traveling salesmen and trespassing with benefits

Last week, (well, last week about 10 years ago) a couple men peddling theology visited my home.

This makes it the third time the dense duo were turned away from my door.

And, seeing as they asked when would be a good time to come back, I expect this won’t be the last I see of them.

The idea that people go house to house selling products, services or religion boggles my mind.

But, as angry as these invasions of space make me, I must confess to a brief foray into the world of door-to-door sales, once upon a time.

Though I never dared visit the same house twice, I managed to annoy many an unwilling tenant during my several-month stint.

I would have quit after the first humiliating day if it weren’t for the empty promises of big money and nonexistent prestige.

My first taste of the biz was in vacuums—and I thought cleaning kennels after Table Scrap Tuesdays was bad.

If you are unaware, selling vacuum cleaners is one of the most miserable jobs on the planet, right below barnacle scraper and the guy who washes the arm length gloves at the animal husbandry clinic.

My second and final sales job was with some obscure phone company.

There’s nothing quite like the indignant look on someone’s face when you knock on their door and ask them if they are happy with their long distance service.

Why I wasn’t punched in the stomach more often, I’ll never know. I later heard the company was accused of switching people’s long distance service without their knowledge.

It’s called “slamming” and it’s illegal.

I’d like to think I’m absolved from the stink of those paltry positions for two reasons.

One, I never made a penny. In fact, with the cost of business attire, gasoline and lost time at a real job, I actually ended up a few thousand dollars in the hole.

Two, I felt terrible about myself every time I darkened someone’s doorstep with my pitch.

If I recall, the only comparable humiliation I felt previous to working in outside sales was when I was a kid and my father decided he’d try taxidermy as a hobby.

Few things lower a young man’s self-esteem like the shame of dodging traffic on 90 degree blacktop with a handful of week-old possum remains while attempting to avoid being spotted by someone you know—and let me tell you, those babies ain’t pine scented neither.

While I can’t change my awful past, I may be able to offer a little insight into the mind of these doorstop derelicts.

First of all, don’t invite them into your home.

Once they are in, the blood sport begins and you are on your own.

If you find yourself in the position of defending your pocketbook against the lure of 80 pounds of authentic Himalayan Yak Butter, remember, the words that come out of your mouth are seldom what the salesman hears.

When you say, “I’m not sure I need a lifetime supply of lemon flavored wart remover,” the salesman hears, “I might change my mind if you throw in a couple cases of Grandma Smithy’s Old Time Fish Lips.”

When you say, “I’m not interested,” the seller hears, “Remind me how the floor buffing unicycle attachment will enhance my modern lifestyle.”

When you say, “Get the hell out!” the peddler hears, “Assure me that, if I buy today, you’ll throw in a sack of dehydrated platypus wax—now with 16 percent more venomous dew claw.”

And, as a final effort to rid your home of these putrid purveyors you say you cannot afford the product, the seller hears, “Please offer me the 30-year installment plan at 26.5 percent APR double secret financing.”

While I may not be able to live without a vacuum-powered spine massager, battery operated steak knives or a self-propelled potato peeler with built-in nose hair trimmer, I don’t want to buy them from a guy in a trench coat at my kitchen table. Yes, my steak knives are dull.

Yes, my carpet is stained. And, yes, I’ve heard the good news.

I’d rather not adopt a Jack Russell terrier with a borderline personality disorder to deter these troublesome traffickers but I have the number to the local humane society on speed dial, and I just might use it.

Best way to deal with Jehovah’s witnesses or any other door knockers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0p4_GGDbS0

Don’t dance like nobody’s watching

There is no safety in these dances

Spring is always a busy time for me at my day job but lately it’s been worse than usual. So, I haven’t had much time for ha-has and he-hees.

Still, the midget with a switchblade wants what he wants, so I put this little piece together to tide over the tens and twelves of you who stagger past this site each day.

Dance like something something

There’s a popular quote that says “You’ve gotta dance like nobody’s watching.”

But, judging by how badly most of us dance, this is not a good idea.

You know how I dance when nobody’s looking?

Like a horny grizzly bear who had a stroke in the middle of practicing his ninja kicks.

Don’t laugh, you don’t dance any better.

Any-who, after hearing the aforementioned inane quote far too many times, I decided to compile a list of things you really should dance like. Here’s a hint: none of them are because no one is watching!

Dance like …

  1. You need the money for bread and diapers.
  2. You’re an angry teenager in a warehouse.
  3. You have ants in your pants.
  4. You’re Michael J. Fox … at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance.
  5. An Egyptian. (The Third Century kind, not those poor bastards over there now.)
  6. A fat guy rubbing his nipples is watching you through binoculars.
  7. Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio faced off in a Hell in the Cell match … against Undertaker and Mick Foley.
  8. Stephen Colbert came back to his goddamn senses.
  9. Jimmy Fallon announced his retirement.
  10. Plotchman’s came out with a new mustard flavor.
  11. Jenny McCarthy contracted Polio.
  12. One a dem re-tods from hovvid yod!
  13. Vic McCarty just did his famous “Jamaican guy” accent. Irie! Irie!
  14. The cheese is free.
  15. Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius!
  16. Yo mama.
  17. His mama.
  18. My mama.
  19. Mama Mia.
  20. Bahama mama.
  21. Mama LaHomey.
  22. I stuffed a dollar in your pants.
  23. The hip surgery was a success.
  24. You wish someone would perform the Heimlich on you.
  25. Michael Jackson (before he died, not now.)
  26. David Bowie. “Let’s dance!”
  27. Men Without Hats are in the house. It’s OK, you can dance if you want to.
  28. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle are “Puttin’ on the Ritz!”
  29. Tom Petty’s singing about Mary Jane again for the last time.
  30. There are bees everywhere, and they’re sting-crazy. (RIP, Tommy Boy)
  31. You’re trying to make your wife laugh even though she’s really mad at you for screwing up the taxes and overpaying by like $1,250. (Oops)
  32. You’re doing the Ethiopian Shim-Sham!
  33. Like a sad robot with large hypnotic nipples.

An open letter to grammar Nazis

Dear Grammar Nazi, if that is your real name.

Sup?

May I call you “Nazi” for short?

Well, Nazi, I’d like to begin this correspondence by thanking you for always being there for mankind. Whether it’s a blogger who uses the wrong form of “too” or an e-mailer who misplaced a comma, someone in your ranks of self-appointed language guardians always seems to arrive just in time to bring the error to our attention—after it’s too late to do anything.

If it were not for your incessant early morning phone calls and late-night e-mails, I may never have known the word “the” appeared as “teh” on page seven of last week’s paper.

The future embarrassment you have saved me from enduring—now that I know how to spell “the”—is immeasurable. No longer will I be cut off at dinner parties when I ask for a glass of “Teh Glenlivet.” (OK, they’ll still cut me off but now it will be for peeing in, and then ninja kicking, the host’s ficus.)

I am even more thankful that you brought attention to my use of the wrong version of “there” on Facebook recently. While no one else even noticed, you realized my error was not merely the product of a hastily written post but, instead, the sign of one who clearly has not mastered his homophones.

And, though it may bring great shame to my family, I must admit that I was absent the day they taught “there, their, they’re” in second-grade English class. Subsequently, I have gone my entire adult life deciding which word I should use in a given situation by the “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” method.

However, as thankful as I am for your unyielding advice, I do have a few bones—and other clichés—to pick with you.

First, I think you need to reconsider your title.

I understand the job of “Grammar Nazi” is a volunteer position, and that may give you little say in your sobriquet, but perhaps you could pitch a name to your fellow grammatical overlords that’s a little less … holocaust-y. Something a little less offensive on a grand historical scale like, maybe, “Genocidal Wordsmith” or how about “English Language Storm Trooper” or “Teh Torquemada of Syntax.” (Sorry. Old habits. I meant “The” Torquemada of Syntax.)

Next, why did Sarah Palin get to invent a word? I mean, I’m sure she’s nice and all, but it just doesn’t seem fair. And, before you go getting your pekoe all in a twist, my protestation is a-political.

The tradition is that every year a small selection of words is added to the official English language catalog. As far back as Nunda and Grog started labeling items in their cave, people have been making up words. I’m fine with that.

In fact, historians—whose names escape me but are definitely not made up—say things started to go south when Nunda tried passing off “refudiate” in 50,000 B.C., to which Grog called “shniblitz,” which was the caveman equivalent of “B.S.”

So you might imagine my angst when I heard the former Queen of Mooseville got into the history books with “refudiate.”

I appeal to your kind-hearted Nazi sensibilities when I ask that the rest of us be given the same opportunity.

Following are a few suggestions for your consideration:

1. Shurbet – My daughter’s word when she was younger. It’s an amalgamation of the statement, “Sure. You bet.”

2. Udza b’ga – My brothers and I came up with this when we were younger. It’s an exclamation similar to “Holy shniblitz!”

3. Skudzabgee – Another (brothers) exclamatory, on par with “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

4. Eedzer bugeedzer – My own gibberish. It means “Oh no!’

5. Doobaleet – It’s the sound a grocery scanner makes when you pass products with bar codes over it. (Also the sound my youngest brother used to make when he’d run up behind you and quickly run his hand up your butt crack (while you were clothed, thank God) like he was sliding a credit card through the little card reader machine. What can I say, he was 3 … and then, later, 22.)

While I’m pushing the bounds of your Nazi generosity, might I also request that we update this culture’s catalog of clichés and idioms.

I’m just so sick of hearing the same old lines. They’re so … cliché.

Instead of saying someone “screwed the pooch” perhaps they could have “spun the octopus.” Instead of saying you have “a bone to pick” with someone, maybe you could have “a cucumber to punch.”

“Backseat drivers” could become “Sixth Day Adventists” (need to double-check the availability of that one) or “Tuesday afternoon mathematicians.”

Instead of someone being a “sick puppy” perhaps they could be a “terminally ill walrus.”

“Much ado about nothing” could become “so many cartwheels at dawn.”

A conversation between me and Sarah Palin might look a little something like this:

Me: “You’ve gotta watch out for that Robert, he’s one terminally ill walrus.”

Sarah: “I know, eh. But I’ve got a cucumber to punch with him, don’cha know.”

Me: “Yeah, he can be a real Sixth Day Adventist.”

Sarah: “Where is he right now?”

Me: “Oh, probably out spinning the octopus.”

Sarah: “I don’t know, fella. Maybe I’m just cartwheeling at dawn.”

(We both nod silently in agreement, pantomiming early-morning cartwheels. Then I ask if she can really see Russia from her backyard.)

The point is, you can’t refudiate the fact that this shniblitz has got to change—I don’t care who squeezes the kumquats.

(Anyone offended by this column should contact my parents. It’s all their fault I behave this way.)

Insomnia: when Billy Joel meets Lord of the Rings

What happens when you can’t sleep three nights in a row? You rewrite Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” with “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” themed lyrics. So, enjoy or don’t. I won’t lose any sleep over it. Ha!
“We Did Depart the Shire” (Frodo’s Song)
Sung to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”

We did depart the Shire
on to Mordor’s burnin’
cuz of Gollum’s yearnin’

We did depart the Shire
and we can’t stop movin’
cuz the Wraiths are loomin’

Hobbiton, Middle Earth,
Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy-first
Frodo’s thirty-three
All the Shire will party

Bilbo skips the cake
Packs his bags,
he’s running late
Wanderlust struck again
now it’s time to leave Bag End

Bilbo has a ring
from the River Anduin
Gandalf takes away
up to Frodo to keep safe

Forgotten evil in the gold
too powerful for men to hold
Elendil, Gilgalad, Isuldur—dead!

Sauron was the mon (man)
lost a finger  now he’s gone
Dark Lord’s one ring
Deagol-Smeagol found the bling

Centuries of rot and greed
made a monster out of Smeeg’
Dark. Lust. Selfish.
Gollum wants his precious!

We did depart the Shire
 on to Mordor’s burnin’ 
cuz of Gollum’s yearnin’ 

We did depart the Shire 
and we can’t stop movin’ 
cuz the Wraiths are loomin’ 

Frodo, Pippin, Merry, Sam
on a quest, they leave Bag End
Gollum told Sau-ron
where to find the ring

Gan-dalf can’t be found
Nazgul soon be all around
Old Forrest, Barrow-Downs
Hobbits hiding underground

Barrow-wight, choking roots
approaching now the sound of boots
hush now, best still
saved by Tommie Bombadil!

Take a breath,
get to Bree
full of murderers and thieves
still no Gandalf
Hobbitses scared

Grab a pint in the pub
who’s that looking at us, Bub?
Aragorn? Strider?
A ranger and a rider

On the way to Rivendell
Weathertop upon a hill
Nazgul descend
Frodo nearly gets killed

We did depart the Shire 
on to Mordor’s burnin’ 
cuz of Gollum’s yearnin’ 

We did depart the Shire 
and we can’t stop movin’ 
cuz the Wraiths are loomin’ 

Frodo’s sick as hell
but the elves can make him well
Nazgul on the chase
gallop at a demon pace

Across the fjord of Bruinin
Elrond’s got the medicine
Elvin magic, rivers rise
stop the dead from getting by

Elrond nurses Frodo back
council has a heart-attack
destroy the ring ‘fore it’s too late
save Middle Earth from Sauron fate

Need a team to move the ring
a fellowship is gathering
Gimli, Gandalf, Boromir
and Legolas the elf is here

Join the Hobbits, Aragorn
head to mines of Moria
Snowy mountain pass ahead
Balin’s peeps are surely dead

Treachery underground
orcs and demons all around
Gandalf falls, Frodo balls
is this just a lost cause?

Sam and Frodo ditch the guys
cuz the ring is breeding strife
followed by the Smeagol
but that’s all ’til the sequel!

We did depart the Shire
on to Mordor’s burnin’ 
cuz of Gollum’s yearnin’ 

We did depart the Shire 
and we can’t stop movin’ 
cuz the Wraiths are loomin’

 

40 questions all white people need to answer

Why do white people like guacamole so much? Why do they call it “guac’?” What’s the deal with hot glue guns? I came across a Buzzfeed post the other day entitled “40 questions that all white people need to answer.” (original seen here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/40-questions-for-white-people ) Always the helpful type, I decided to answer them. After all, what better spokesman is there for the entire white race than I? (Don’t answer that.)

40 questions asked & answered

1. Why do white people call guacamole “guac”?

A: Leaves more time for eating guac’.

2. Why do white people like bearded men and horses so much

A: Gandalf. Jeremiah Johnson. Clint Eastwood.

3. Why do white people like comparing arm tans?

A: Establishes pecking order.

4. WHY DO WHITE PEOPLE LIKE CHEESE SO MUCH

A: Peer pressure. But, seriously, you gotta try this gouda.

5.Why do white people like to explore attics?

A: “American Pickers” and “The Goonies”

6. Why do white people like the sand Dunes so much?

A: Reminds us of Tatooine.

7. Why do white people like Kiss?

A: If you don’t know then you’ll never know. Also, “Detroit Rock City” and “Lick it Up.”

8. Why do white people like the woods so much.

A: Little House on the Prairie.

9. Damn, why do white people like pumpkin so much? pumpkin pie pumpkin latte etc…

A: That’s actually only two things made with pumpkin.

10. Why do white people like playing in the snow? Snow is cold. A: Reminds us of Hoth.

11. Why do white people like Drake so much?

A: Where did you get that idear?

12. Why do white people like hummus so much. it’s literally chick peas

A: Because it’s literally delicious. Literally.

13. Wait why do white people like shark week so much?

A: Peter Benchley

14. Why do white people like candy corn so much? I literally see 7 people in my class eating it

A: Because it’s literally legal and crack literally isn’t.

15. Why do white people like ray ban wayfarers so much? smh

A: Two words: “Jake” and “Elwood”

16. Why do white people like going to abandon houses or other places? like have you not seen horror movies

A: Poor survival instinct.

17. Why do white people like putting their bare feet on the dashboard?

A: The idear is to freak you out.

18. Why do white people like to pick their own strawberries so much?

A: Migrant farmworker fantasy

19. Why do white people like to cuddle so much during storms?

A: Wizard of Oz fantasy

20. Why do white people like Nutella so much?

A: No idear.

21. Why do white people like kissing dogs in the mouth? Acting like it’s good luck or something

A: There really is no good answer to this one.

22. What is a “color run” and why do white people like them so much?

A: Latent pigment envy

23. Why do white people like to hunt ghosts?

A: Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and Dan Akroyd.

24.Why do white people like avocados so much

A: It’s the main ingredient in Guac’. Doy!

25. Why do white people like Christmas music so much? that shit gets annoying

A: Don’t be hatin’.

26. Why do white people like that Thrift Shop song so much?

A: See #25.

27. Why do white people love hot glue

A: Two words: “arts” and “crafts”; obviously you’ve never been compelled to affix buttons and yarn to popsicle sticks.

28. So why do white people love full house so much? idgi

A: Solid concept. Decent writing. Palatable humor. Family-friendly. John Stamos’ hair.

29. WHY DO WHITE PEOPLE MAKE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT FOR THEIR PETS?

A: Why wouldn’t they? (Reminder to self: buy plenty of funny hats, then start accounts for Maisy, Sam and Tolstoy)

30.Why do white people put their kids on leashes?

A: You ever spent any time with white children? You’d be tying their asses up, too. White kids be crazy! Do something about your children, white people!

31. Why do white people love mason jars?

A: Appalachia.

32. Why do white people love the beach so much? Yall are always fucking there i dont get it.

A: To work on our arm tans. Also, we have nowhere else to go.

33. Why do white people dance like this though?

A: It’s a white thing. You wouldn’t understand.

34. Why do white people say “idear” instead of idea? Where in the fuck is there an “r” in that word?

A: It’s at the end, right after the “a.”

35. WTF is gluten exactly and why do white people hate it so much?

A: It’s our kryptonite—I mean it’s our “gluten.”

36. Why do white people love ‘turn down for what’ so much

A: I have no idear what that means.

37. Why do white people love cooking with beer so much?

A: Alcoholic fathers. Why do you use so much hot sauce?

38.Why do white people always say “have a good one” have a good what?

A: That’s for us to know and you to find out. OK, we mean “cheese.” Have a good cheese!

39. Why do white people gotta be climbing everything?

A: Wish we were Spiderman. Why do you gotta be asking so many questions?

40. why do white people say “for Pete’s sake”??? Who is Pete?

A: I have an aunt whose nickname is “Pete.” I think they’re referring to her.

When guilt drives you Bozo

bozo the clown webGuilt is a funny thing. And, it can make you do funny things. (Not “ha-ha” funny. More like, “Grampa smells funny” funny.”)

Even as I type this, there is a 1963 Mattel brand Bozo The Clown doll making its way from South Carolina to Northern Michigan via UPS ground shipping.

So, why did I pay $36.95 for a 50-year-old doll with a malfunctioning pull-string, a torn left hand and a dirty blue jumpsuit?

It all started after writing the somewhat insensitive letter to my sister’s unborn baby last week.

As usual, what I found amusing some found off-putting. And, it was brought to my attention that the history of offenses against my siblings is a long and sordid one.

As the oldest of seven children, it seemed my duty to help care for them, entertain them and teach them what I had learned along the way.

Unfortunately, this big brotherliness also included occasionally tormenting them for my own amusement.

Everything was fine for the first four years. I had my own room, my own toys, and my mother all to myself.

Then Adam was born, and suddenly I went from being the main attraction to the guy who carries the long-handled dustpan behind the dancing ponies.

My first act of insurrection was while Adam was days old. While my mother was changing his diaper, I thought it would be a good idea to chomp down on his foot.

What followed was nearly 10 years of abuse, from the classic, “Stop hitting yourself” to “Drink this and I’ll give you a quarter.”

In my parents’ apparent quest to rival The Waltons, the number of children in our household increased, as did the frequency and bizarreness of my torture methods.

I once tied brother Will to a chair in front of his open closet, told him there was a monster inside and then flipped off the lights and left the room for awhile. Hiding in the hallway, I cackled with delight as he screamed for his life, certain the boogieman was coming for him.

My stint as mini Mengele didn’t stop there. I once caused my brother to involuntarily do the splits, by knocking his feet apart.

The scream he gave off from the subsequent double groin muscle pulls sent my mother galloping outside to see what was the matter.

To add injury to injury, she slapped me for being a jackass and then slapped my injured brother for what she called having a “cow mouth.”

Of course, me being a notorious nervous laugher, I began cackling, which caused my brother to scream at me angrily, which caused my mother to slap us both again.

Had we not been in the front yard near a busy road, I suspect we might still be stuck in that infinite Three Stooges loop.

Once, while heading home after an evening sledding excursion, I decided to point at the woods and scream, “My god, it’s a werewolf!” just before running like hell back up to the house … laughing the whole way like a maniacal chicken.

By the time I hit my early teens I had found better things to do than balancing margarine tubs full of water atop bedroom doors and offering people “special pickles” that were actually hot peppers.

But, my decade-long reign of terror is legendary among my siblings, who gather at holidays to retell with grim expressions and monotone voices of their suffering.

The one I remember most, probably because it still bothers me, is when I was around 7. My parents had just split, sending Adam, ma and me to a crummy house apartment in the city while dad stayed home.

We took very little with us, leaving all but the essentials to sparsely fill the new living quarters.

The only toy I ever remember Adam playing with at that time was a plush Bozo The Clown doll with a broken pull-string and a blue jumpsuit.

One day I decided it would be cool to take a pair of Snoopy safety scissors and give Bozo’s orange yarn hair a trim. I clipped and clipped until the head was bald but for the pumpkin stubble.

Adam was crushed. The already creepy clown now looked like a mental patient on chemo. And, still, he carried that thing around with him wherever he went.

So, that’s why I found myself ordering an extremely used Bozo The Clown doll at 10 p.m. last Saturday.

I’m sure Adam forgave me a long time ago, but I’m selfishly hoping this gesture assuages some of the guilt I feel about my past behavior in general. Of course, this could totally backfire:

“Hey, remember that time you were emotionally devastated by our parents’ divorce and I mutilated your only toy … and 32 years later wrote about it in the newspaper?”

What could possibly go wrong?

Now I just need to find someone with a werewolf costume who’s willing to make me do the splits while someone else films it.

Where’s the goddamned remote?

It first occurred to me that I might not be thankful enough for all that I have when I lost the remote control to the air-conditioner last summer. (Yes, I am ashamed.)

It was that very afternoon, while complaining to my wife that I could not find the remote control to the air-conditioner in our bedroom, which resides five feet from where I was sitting, that I used the TV remote to change the channel on the TV … which is close enough to my seat that I could lean forward and reach all the necessary power, volume, etc. buttons, that I was thinking about how hard my life was. I’m not trying to be cute.

I was seriously angry about the situation and feeling generally put upon.

The wife then reminded me that half the world lives in squalor, and an even greater percentage would find our modest lower-middle class home and possessions to be fit for a king—the king of some crummy Somalian province—but a king no less.

I got thinking about what she said, and realized that that is why the world hates us.

I am why the world hates us.

While most of the peoples of Earth are subsisting off of grasshoppers and chicken guts and living in rock huts with sand floors, waking every day to a hot four-hour commute just to fetch diseased water from a well most likely controlled by some trigger-happy warlord, there is some guy (me) sitting on his fat rump and complaining about how the device that keeps him from dying of heatstroke is a whole few steps away. (If I didn’t hate myself already, I certainly did now.)

While I have a better than average chance of having exactly what I want for dinner tonight, my impoverished counterparts have a better than average chance of developing cholera or dysentery or both before breakfast.

After a long day of clicking away on the keyboard, I have endless forms of entertainment available at my fingertips.

If my third world peeps manage to survive the vipers, scorpions, religious extremists, CIA attack drones, and Ebola … they might be lucky enough to dine on wild asparagus and goat hooves around a fire made of burning sheep dung.

But, that’s the problem with folks like me. We’re greedy and ungrateful and we always want more.

And even though I’m well aware of my gluttony and self-indulgence, it won’t stop me from stuffing my face with Taco Bell, guzzling a bottle of cherry whiskey and watching Tosh.O until I pass out in a puddle of my own sick.

That reminds me, I need to check on the status of that queen-size, gel-infused memory foam mattress topper I ordered last week.

My current bed just isn’t soft enough.

Sorry, Cosmo: I can’t be the Head Bitch in Charge of my click

11 Reasons I will never be Head Bitch in Charge of my clique. GRAPHIC BY BENJAMIN GOHS
11 Reasons I will never be Head Bitch in Charge of my clique. GRAPHIC BY BENJAMIN GOHS

I read a piece on Cosmopolitan magazine’s website the other day by Laura Beck entitled “18 reasons you’re the HBiC of your clique.”

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/news/a35664/signs-youre-the-hbic/

As hopeful as I was heading into this piece, it is with much chagrin that I admit I am not the Head Bitch in Charge of my clique.

At first I thought the biggest obstacle to securing the role of HBiC was my being several sycophants short of a clique.

But, the more I considered the twatty treatise, the more I realized that even as much of an asshole as I am, I didn’t qualify for the stupefying level of cruelty and hubris one must possess in order to proclaim oneself “Head Bitch” … even more than it takes to refer to one as “oneself.”

The article lays out a dozen-and-a-half behaviors which could probably be boiled down into just a handful of personality flaws which—by the way—come straight out of the handbook on Borderline Personality Disorder.

They may as well have called this, “18 reasons you are a sociopathic asshole everyone should avoid like syphilis.”

Despite the paralyzing horror I felt while reading this condescending and inter-misogynistic piece of pop culture putrescence, I managed to wriggle my pencil hand free enough to record a dozen or so reasons why I could never be the Head Bitch in Charge. (But a boy can dream, can’t he?)

My name – HBiC’s have names like Veronica, Samantha, Claire … my name is Benjamin, which is Jewish for “Son of my right hand.” This means I literally have a jerk-off first name. Yeah, I could go by “Ben” like the giant rat in that famous movie. Or, maybe I could go by “Benny” like the retarded office clerk on L.A. Law played by the bad guy from “Dark Man.” Yeah, none of those scream “HBiC.”

Cheap tampons – Head Bitches in Charge use only the best feminine hygiene products. I can’t afford name brand maxi pads on my salary, and no self-respecting HBiC would be caught dead with generic tampons. (The fact that my editor had to inform me that pads and tampons are not the same thing is another reason I could never be HBiC.)

Bad advice – Cosmo’ says to be head “B” you must be the one everybody comes to for advice. That disqualifies me. Very few people seek my advice, and the ones who do usually regret it. When I tell you to forgo the insurance or that I think there’s no hurry in getting that lump checked out, you may want to get a second opinion. After all, I’m out of shape, my retirement plan involves turning the house into a B&B for migrant workers, and even my dogs won’t listen to me half the time. The last time I gave someone advice was when I assured my son that the baby pumpkin-sized lump on his lower leg didn’t mean his leg was broken. The doctors couldn’t believe he waited a day before getting it looked at. I don’t care what the X-rays said, it was just a sprain. The point is, I need to become Head Bitch in Charge of my own life before doling advice to others.

Dress code – In the Cosmopolitan article, Beck wrote the following: “If you say on Wednesday you wear pink then on Wednesdays you best motherfucking wear pink.” To say I can barely dress myself is less a punch line and more an embarrassing admission. My fashion dos and don’ts are pretty simple and consist of two main questions: “How bad does this shirt smell?” and “Are the holes in these pants big enough to see my giblets?” I know not to wear white after Labor Day but only because fat folks stick to slimming colors, and I’m such a messy eater that white clothing on me always looks like one of those color blindness tests. Even more importantly, though, what kind of a fucking psychopath tells their friends how to dress?

Do as I say – Cosmo’ says a good HBiC can convince their friends to do anything. I’ve gotta say, “anything” leaves a pretty wide berth. When they say “anything” do they mean you can convince them to eat nothing but kale chips and honey mustard while wearing tutus? Or does “anything” mean talking them into helping you kidnap young boys for the Chinese sex trade? Furthermore, if you’re hanging around with people who will do anything you tell them, regardless of how dangerous, stupid or embarrassing, then what are you really the head of—the Three Stooges?

I’m friendless – Cosmo’ says the head bitch cannot stand it when her friends do things together but without her. Ever since I became self-employed (and slightly agoraphobic) I haven’t really gone out with friends. So, I guess it’s not that I don’t have any friends, but we don’t see each other nearly as much as we used to. But, even if we did, the idea that I should be angry that they dare hang out without me is a bit on the creepy psycho side of things. What kind of megalomaniac believes the party cannot or should not go on without them? Apparently the friendship experts over at Cosmopolitan Magazine, that’s who. Besides, as a writer, the only friends I need are Taco Bell, Phillips Union Cherry Whiskey and my dogs (and the wife). The only thing I am Head Bitch in Charge of is the liquor store down the road that delivers pizza and beer, but even they won’t come after 11 p.m.

Bringing out the best in people – Supposedly, a real HBiC brings out the best in her friends. Back when I did hang out on a regular basis, we did one thing: drink. Functional alcoholics for the most part, we referred to the medicinal imbibing of intoxicating liquids as “partying.” Now, eating cake, doing the limbo and dancing to a live band are partying. Drinking dangerous amounts of booze to deaden the rusty spurs life digs into your ass is self-medication. I may have made my friends laugh. I may have entertained them by fighting and puking and arguing politics with strippers … but I never made them better people. And, frankly, I have no idea how a manipulative, insecure, shallow person like an HBiC could or would do anything to make their friends better.

Self-certainty – According to Cosmo’, the head bitch has strong opinions and is always right. For that reason alone, a head bitch I could never be. Sure, I have strong opinions but, for the record, who doesn’t? You know what doesn’t have strong opinions? Starfish don’t have strong opinions. Dogs don’t have strong opinions. Blocks of goddamn cheese don’t have strong opinions. You know who does have strong opinions? Humans. All of them. That I don’t have a problem with. It’s the “and you’re always right” part that gives me explosive diarrhea. People aren’t even mostly right. Most of us aren’t even moderately right. Some of us are only occasionally right. I doubt myself about 837 times a day. I second guess things all the time. Should I be writing this article? Was I too hard on the guy who got drunk and smashed up my van? Did the wife really find my joke funny or did she laugh to avoid hurting my feelings? However, we’re supposed to believe that the immature, self-important a-holes reading Cosmo’ are right all the time about all things? Bitch please!

Intimidation – Cosmo’ says the head bitch’s friends are “sliiiightly” intimidated by her, by which, they continue, they mean “occasionally scared shitless.” I hope none of my friends are intimidated by me. It’s not my job to be scary to my friends. After reading the article, I tried to think of something cool about being a bully but I was stumped. If you’re scared of your friend, you need to find new friends.

Trendsetter – A good HBiC is a trendsetter. Actually, the article said if you eat a certain food by the pool, then everybody should be doing the same. I could never be the HBiC because I cannot imagine controlling what my friends eat. Better yet, who wants to hang out with cookie cutter clones of themselves? Cosmopolitan does realize women don’t live on the set of “Mean Girls” or “Sex and the City,” right? Even Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte were unique individuals with their own tastes and personalities.

Being on time – I’ve always tried to be prompt and, while it was a struggle in my youth, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on it. Of course, now that I’m on the reclusive path of Thomas Pynchon, being on time is no longer much trouble. Leave it to Cosmopolitan to take a laudable goal and rub it in mud. I’ll let Beck speak for herself with the following quote from the piece: “You’re always on time. After all, you made all the fucking plans and being late is just rude to the person who made the plans.”

I’d go on with reasons I’ll never be an HBiC but frankly I don’t have the ego strength to respond to statements like “If someone doesn’t invite you to something they are dead to you” or the idea that waitresses deserve to be ridiculed for forgetting a food item.

Unless “No, forgetting the hash browns is not acceptable!!!” means that a head bitch won’t go off on a server for accidentally leaving a dish in the kitchen.

The article ends with number 18 stating, “You win every argument.”

As if being loud and mean and controlling were some great contest.

What’s the prize?

Oh yeah, getting to be the Head Bitch in Charge.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go be the Head Guy in Charge of Getting Some Chocolate Pudding.

Cosmo’ has a great new article I want to read about how broth is the newest health trend.

Hey, maybe I could be the HBiC of Broth!

The awful truth about oatmeal

Quaker_Oats_advertisement_1905Middle age means a whole lot of changes. One of the most popular is a change in diet.

One of the most difficult has been the switch from breakfasts of Polish sausage and over easy eggs to oatmeal, and from cheeseburgers and fries to oatmeal, and from cake and ice-cream to oatmeal.

I’ve eaten so much oatmeal over the past few years that Wilford Brimley owes me money, or at least a shout out on one of his commercials.

Something along the lines of, “Quaker Oats: they’re good and they’re good for you. And, peace out to my main man Gohs, without whom I wouldn’t have all this sweet sweet mustache wax.”

For the record, let me state that I hate oatmeal. I didn’t start out hating it. It just sort of happened along the way. But, regardless how much I hate it, it is free of salt, bad fats, is slow-burning and high in fiber. It’s supposed to lower your cholesterol and it’s really cheap … and if I swallow another spoonful I just may jump off the roof onto a pile of disabled orphan puppies … with cancer.

Little known facts about oatmeal

It was Hitler’s favorite foodstuff

Homosexuals use it for their weird gay stuff (Sorry, Greg)

It’s un-American

Oatmeal gave George Lucas the energy to make Episodes I, II & III

“Oatmeal” backwards is “Laemtao” which is Latin for “Satan’s Hand-job.” Look it up if you don’t believe me

More murders are committed by people who eat oatmeal than by those who eat cream of wheat

Oatmeal is a byproduct of the animal husbandry industry

“Rolled Oats” is slang for smoking oatmeal to get high—fact: oatmeal is six times as addictive as crack cocaine

Oatmeal causes autism

Oatmeal is a U.N. Plot

Oatmeal carries Ebola

Oatmeal destroys the ozone

Oatmeal has terrible credit

Oatmeal is picked by child laborers who are further punished by being forced to eat oatmeal

Oatmeal killed the dinosaurs (Just kidding, I killed the dinosaurs—oops, wrong book!)

100 percent of people who eat oatmeal eventually die

Oatmeal is the active ingredient in nuclear weapons … and diarrhea

50 percent of all oatmeal ends in divorce

“Oatmeal” rhymes with “goat squeal” and that can’t be good

Oatmeal hid in Canada during the Vietnam War

Oatmeal owes the IRS six years of back taxes

Oatmeal only goes to church on Easter and Christmas (shameful)

Oatmeal is in everything these days: facial scrubs, soaps, cookies, cereal—soon it will be everywhere. If we don’t act fast it will be too late. (Chances are it’s been inside your wife.)

You know who the biggest seller of oatmeal is? The Quaker man. You know about the Quakers? They used to go to church naked. Think about that the next time you slide a bowl in front of your kids, pervert!

The worst wedding vows ever … and I’m not changing them

worst wedding vows everWhen you’re married and you get to middle-age, you’re usually not too far off from one of two things: divorce or vow renewal.

While I haven’t had the pleasure of either, I have spoken with veterans of both endeavors who assure me that each path harbors its own sinister pitfalls.

On the off chance that I won’t end up divorced after more than twenty 20 years with the same woman, I’ve put together a list of things that are certain to sweep her off her feet.

The Vows – the following are merely suggestions and do not constitute a binding contract.

Dearest the wife,

You’ve put up with a lot of my crap over the last 20 years. Thanks! I’ve been thinking about some of those things I do that generally cause you to question your will to live or why a just and loving god would stick you with me all this time. (Point heathen!)

The following is a list of things I could start or stop doing … if the price is right! (I understand that communicating in television and movie quotes and sayings is high on the list of things I should stop doing.)

But now to the list:

  1. I’ll stop calling pop “soda.” I know how it vexes you so.

  2. I will limit my F-bombs to one per angry outburst. Which is going to be difficult because my favorite expressions are laden with the granddaddy of all four-letter words. (The grandmother of which, of course, being my second favorite word: See You Next Tuesday.)

  3. I’ll scream at the news less often, keeping it to, say, only when it’s on? It will be up to you to monitor my television viewing and turn the channel whenever I sneak a peek at any of the cable news networks.

  4. In light of your hatred for traditional jazz music, I will try harder not to detest your “smooth” jazz but must point out that smooth jazz sucks.

  5. I will try to go an hour each day without farting in your presence. You know how difficult this is for me so, you’re welcome! (P.S. Fuck Michael Bolton!)

  6. I pledge to always make veggie omelets and hotcakes for you on Sunday mornings, even if I am on deadline for the paper, which I always am. (And not just because you ordered me to do so.)

  7. I vow to stop threatening to cut off the dogs’ weenises every time they pee on my chair.

  8. I promise to stop responding to your every complaint of ache or illness by telling you you are dehydrated (even though you are).

  9. I’ll stop texting you beat poetry while you’re at work. (Sorry about what said about Michael Bolton. I’m actually a fan.)

  10. I’ll stop hand-washing my clothes in the kitchen sink. I understand that we have a washer and dryer for a reason and I will some day have to get over the traumas of my childhood.

  11. I can’t promise to stop compulsively sniffing all my food and beverages but I will try to stop smelling everything you eat and drink.

  12. I’ll try to get out of the house more often, by which I mean more than my current twice per year but no more than seven times in any calendar year. It’s scary out there and I really don’t like people.

  13. I promise to stop threatening to karate chop you in the neck when you talk about spending money.

  14. I will try to stop making up new nicknames for the dogs, and the kids, and you. I understand that having several names each may get confusing and annoying.

  15. I will stop telling telemarketers my grandmother died recently and, after they give me their condolences, saying “it’s OK, she was a bitch.”. (My grandma isn’t really a bitch nor is she dead. I just do it for their stunned silence and my roaring laughter.)

  16. I won’t make you watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” with me any more … but I’d like it if you did. (I wrote this before the show was canceled because apparently the mother was dating child molesters.)

  17. I’ll stop pretending to accidentally run the hot water while you’re showering. (Even though it’s hilarious.)

  18. I’ll stop barking at strangers, but I may continue to growl.

  19. I understand our bed is not a dinner table or a plate or a napkin and will stop using it as such.

  20. I concede that all movies made prior to 1960 were misogynistic snorers that had no artistic nor entertainment value whatsoever, and I promise never to watch TCM in your presence nor quote from any of the aforementioned movies again. (But I still think you’re missing out.)

My 2015 bucket list

Pictured (from left) are Charles Dickens, a baby hippo, Gilbert Gottfried, riboflavin and an unnamed T-Rex. WIKIPEDIA/PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTOS
Pictured (from left) are Charles Dickens, the baby hippo I want, Gilbert Gottfried, riboflavin and an unnamed T-Rex likeness.   ALL PHOTOS ARE WIKIPEDIA AND/OR PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTOS

Things I would really like to do in 2015

  1. Build a time machine.
  2. Go back and kill the dinosaurs. (Don’t ask. They know why.)
  3. Learn source of magic that makes people think Jimmy Fallon is funny.
  4. Trade in time machine for Smokey & The Bandit pinball machine.
  5. Learn Russian.
  6. Order Russian bride for cooking and cleaning.
  7. Learn all the words to “Turn Down For What?”
  8. Become pen pals with Grumpy Cat.
  9. Get more riboflavin in diet.
  10. Figure out what the hell riboflavin is.
  11. Figure out how to use new coffee maker son got me for Christmas.
  12. Trade Russian bride for baby hippo.
  13. Drink bottle of cherry whiskey. Eat Taco Bell.
  14. Get restraining order against self from someone famous for stalking them. (More famous than Pauly Shore but less famous than Brad Pitt. Is Gilbert Gottfried available?)
  15. Find out if Brad Pitt the actor is same Brad Pitt from 5th grade.
  16. Call psychic and demand to know what happened to D.B. Cooper.
  17. Play lotto every week.
  18. Clip toenails and send to Gilbert Gottfried.
  19. Write cryptic messages like “Where are my grapefruit?” on losing lotto tickets and mail them to Gilbert Gottfried.
  20. Master diapering the dog during her menses.
  21. Stop calling dog’s period “menses.” (I’m not English for Christ’s sake.)
  22. Make a banana cream pie from scratch and hit someone in face with it. (Resist urge to eat. Do not hit self in face with pie, that’s cheating.)
  23. Write letter to President Obama demanding he force the manufacturer to bring back P.B. Crisps.
  24. Either shave on a regular basis or let full beard grow. Enough with the Kenny Loggins look already.
  25. Read more Dickens and dick more readins.
  26. Eat nothing but chocolate for seven days.
  27. Sell a novel.
  28. Use proceeds of book to buy wife big screen TV (and more Taco Bell and cherry whiskey.)
  29. Let more bananas go to waste … because I can.

How to survive the political season

One of my favorite politicians of all time is Richard Nixon. He had just the right mixture of righteous indignation and dour countenance that made it clear he didn't like anyone or anything. All that and a face only a mother hyena could love. Perfect.
One of my favorite politicians of all time is Richard Nixon. He had just the right mixture of righteous indignation and dour countenance that made it clear he didn’t like anyone or anything. All that and a face only a mother hyena could love.

The birds flew south, bears are in their caves and politicians, panic-stricken at the possibility of impending upheaval, are twitching in their mohair suits.

Whether you prefer the lesser of two evils or the evil of two lessers, election day draws nigh.

And, as nervous as I am about confrontational flyers, gaudy yard signs and hanging chads, the candidates are borderline frantic.

Handshakes are sweatier, the already plastic hairdos appear much slicker than normal and their lips are chapped from kissing one too many babies.

Whereas national and state politicians may spend millions of dollars to get elected to an office, local politicians tend to stick to campaigns consisting of word of mouth, letters to the editor, and the occasional all-u-can-stomach pancake breakfast.

Now, to be fair, if absolute power corrupts absolutely, then even the worst of local politicians are merely the fat-free ice-cream of politics.

That doesn’t mean they are harmless, but they seem to be less capable of far-reaching chaos than your average congressman or senator.

But, make no mistake, local candidates’ hands are no drier and their hairdos no less caked with overpriced beauty aids.

And, this time of year, due to fluctuating poll numbers and dwindling finances, they tend to be more aggressive.

Due to the seriousness of the upcoming season I feel it is my paranoid—er patriotic—duty to forewarn my fellow citizens.

1. Never corner a candidate with invasive inquiries concerning their policies and intentions—if they wanted to play 20 Questions they’d become a contestant on Jeopardy!

2. Watch where you flash your cash—sharks can smell a drop of blood in a million gallons of water. Likewise, a hard-boiled politico can smell a would-be campaign contribution through denim at 500 paces.

3. Warning signs of an agitated candidate include—the blinding shine of bleached teeth and patent leather shoes, as well as unsettling amounts of enthusiasm.

If confronted by one of these quasi-motivational glad-handers panhandling for votes, don’t panic.

Accept whatever propaganda pamphlet they offer, take a deep breath and back away.

It is imperative to avoid eye contact. Nod, smile and, in a confident and reassuring voice, tell them you are as-of-yet undecided, but will consider them come election day.

The not-so-symbiotic relationship (while they need us, I’m not so sure we couldn’t do without many of them) between politicians and citizens is only possible when politicians receive all the public exposure, tax-funded stipends and limited power small town representative democracy has to offer.

Once at a safe distance, and only then, make certain you still possess your wallet, shoes and integrity.

You’ll know you’re safe when you can no longer detect the overpowering odor of hair spray and desperation.

Don’t get me wrong, all in all I believe most Americans enter politics to do good.

If I didn’t still feel that way I would have moved to Canada, changed my name to Rufus and taken up salmon smoking and moose herding.

But that doesn’t mean some of my representatives don’t frighten me at times.

When you see a current or hopeful officeholder, take a little comfort in knowing that, at the very least, their anxiety is genuine.

If that won’t help you sleep any better tonight, here are a few tips on surviving the political season:

• Avoid the temptation to show your support via bumper stickers. Ask anyone who remembers trying to scrape off, “Vote Ferraro in ‘84.”

• Don’t feed politicians campaign funds—this only encourages them.

• When annoying campaign workers call, answer the phone in Pig Latin. “Ello-hay?”

• Political signs make great sanitary liners for bird cages and kitty litter boxes.

• Hang wreathes of garlic on your front porch, this will deter door-to-door campaigners and other assorted ghouls.

• As the late Chicago politician William Hale Thompson is thought to have said, “Vote early and vote often.”

Roadkill, table of two!

from roadkill to tableAs with so many minor, yet annoying adventures and mildly interesting events in my life, I am the cause of my own misery. Don’t get me wrong, I volunteered for this, the latest in a long line of self-imposed irritations, but why should that stop me from complaining?

I may be a vegetarian now, but I wasn’t when this event first occurred, so you PETA types and those with a weak stomach may wish to skip this story and move on to one with a little less murder. Though, if you can’t find humor in chronic illness, viscera or vehicular slayings, you’re not trying hard enough.

It all started when a friend—who shall henceforth be referred to as “Handsome Stranger”—rammed his car into the third deer in less than a year. He says accidents, I say rethink the shortcut through the petting zoo.

Whether his frustration over never having bagged a buck during deer season was getting the better of him I do not know. However, when Handsome Stranger told me he had kept the deer and wanted to save the meat, I volunteered to show him how to turn his roadkill into food.

In order to tell that story, I must tell you this story. When I was about 9, my family lived in a shack in the backwoods of Indian River in Northern Michigan. When I say we were poor, I mean my shoes were bound with athletic tape and we subsisted on government cornmeal and surplus honey. It was the one time in my life I don’t remember there being any mustard in the fridge. However, I do remember eating lettuce sandwiches once and being told by my mother—as she handed me a bruised apple—that it was sometimes good for you to go to bed without dinner.

The dark mood at Chateaux Drear drove my father to brave deep snow in hopes of poaching a deer. Dad returned many hours later without food. But, sitting on a stump, wielding a gray Stanley utility knife, I dry-heaved while he showed me how to skin a coyote, the pelt of which fetched enough money for some much-needed provisions.

Later, when dad took up taxidermy as a hobby, it was normal during a trip to town for him to jam on the brakes and send me scurrying across the highway for the lifeless remains of a rabbit, raccoon or possum.

With time, I overcame my queasiness, unlike my little brother Joshua—notorious for a hair-trigger stomach—who walked in on us dressing a critter one time and said, “What dat ‘mell?” before throwing up so hard I swear I saw a boot, a soup can and a fish head hit the floor. What little Joshie didn’t know was dat ‘mell was borax powder and death.

Once I became skilled at skinning, I was introduced to quartering and processing animals right at the kitchen table. I miss the taste of venison, and there is definitely something Zen about killing your own food and turning it from a living creature into burger, steaks, sausage and jerky; after that, store bought is just cheating.

My high hopes of things going better with Stranger’s deer were dashed when he said he had to postpone the task until after his colonoscopy. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular brand of torture, also known as a “Kentucky Handshake,” it involves a colon, a camera and compressed air—didn’t Burt Reynolds kill a few fellas for doing something similar to Ned Beatty during a canoe trip back in the ’60s?

Mere hours after he was treated like a Macy’s float and injected with enough horse tranquilizer to sedate half of Horton Bay, he called.

By 9 p.m. we were in latex gloves and ready to work. The amount of drug present in his system wasn’t truly apparent until I saw the area in which he expected me to work.

A 12-watt space heater kept the plywood box he called a garage at a balmy 15 degrees while the 60-watt bulb cast just enough light on the World War II surplus aluminum card table to know it couldn’t hold a game of pinochle let alone an 80-pound white tail deer.

Worse yet was the condition of the animal. It was frozen and so stiff we could have laid it across two sawhorses … and it would have made a better table.

A job like this would require all the Schnapps in the world. Luckily, I had brought several bottles of cheap liquor for just such an emergency. I yelled “Schnapps!” and took a mighty swig from a bottle of apple flavored booze before going to work.

We put the heater nearest the creature as we dared and commenced chiseling and cursing. I was explicit in my directions: pull gently at the skin with your left-hand while using a razor knife in your right hand to cut the connective tissue between the skin and meat. We each took a side and planned to meet at the spine.

Soon, the carcass began jumping and I could hear the low grumble of frustration. The body began shaking so violently that I could not continue skinning without the possibility of cutting myself. I stepped back and peeked around the shoulder only to find Stranger hacking at the beast with a dollar store chef knife.

“Schnapps!”

After all, if a little razor knife was good, then a great big chef knife must be better. Once again I explained my directions. By then the heater had begun to work and the skin was coming off much faster.

“Schnapps!”

With the legs naked, Stranger decided to abandon his mission to see just how much meat he could leave on the skin and began trying to remove a back leg … with a short-handled sledgehammer. Once again the deer convulsed and once again I nearly took off my thumb.

“Schnapps!”

In between guzzles I told Gallagher to be patient, that I would show him how to remove the quarters. That was when I learned just how the animal had perished. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting the thaw to produce a burst of orange blossom, but this was not your average stink of raw meat and wet fur. This was the kind of pungency that made you want to run out and bury your face in a skunk’s keister just to get rid of the smell.

The words, “What dat ‘mell?” flashed in my mind as I grabbed my gut. Stranger ceased pounding to retell Bambi’s traumatic final moments.

It seems the animal was hit by not one but two speeding cars before being shot by a sheriff deputy. That explained the bullet hole and the incontinence, but shed little light on my pal’s unique use of a hammer to remove the hind legs. For my own sanity, I chalked it up to the narcotic stupor.

Following several hours of cutting, trimming and frostbite we had the deer into processable chunks. It must have been midnight when we packed up our gory freak show and headed for the kitchen. Stranger’s wife tried to process why two grown men with good newspaper jobs were working so hard to salvage maybe $40 worth of meat. But we knew it was the principle of the thing.

What I hadn’t prepared for was that the stiffness of the hide had caused much more hair than usual to come out in the skinning process. By the time we got the meat into the house it was nearly as furry as when we’d begun.

“Schnapps!”

We spent the next 90 or so minutes tracking blood and hair from one end of the kitchen to the other as we rinsed and sliced, chopped and rinsed the meat before wrapping it in official-looking white butcher paper.

Despite the cold, fatigue and way too much schnapps, we had the beast washed, chopped and wrapped by 1:30 a.m.

To cap the night properly, fate decided to reinforce the adage, “No good deed …” as, while I stumbled out to meet my cab, I hit a patch of ice and performed a respectable yet painful side splits. My screams drown out the loud popping noise which accompanied my derelict descent. Lucky for me and physical therapists everywhere it was not a groin pull but a denim death knell that made all the noise. It seems the crotch of my Levis was not rated for portly gymnasts bearing 25 pounds of roadkill.

To his credit, the driver didn’t harass me about the fall, the hole in my pants or the blood-soaked packages and knives bundled in my arms.

Stranger and I had planned to turn most of the meat into sausage. The summer after our little butchering session we had met for drinks at the local pub. He asked me if I’d tried any of the venison. I confided that I had been so afraid of contamination that I had thrown it all away months ago. Apparently, so had he.

We laughed, clinked our glasses and gave a cheer to an evening neither of us would ever forget.

strange laws you didn’t know you needed

justice statueThey say there are two things you never want to witness as they are made: laws and sausage.

Well, one needn’t watch a law being made to know whether it is necessary.

For your consideration: Dozens of men and women clad in business suits with the sole mission to make rules so excessive in number and oppressive in scope that their authors justify their unnatural existence while simultaneously betraying those they’ve sworn to serve; to find this conundrum smothered in Limburger and served on a skunk tail, one need only look at the menu under “T” for tyranny.

The price?

Your freedom.

OK, so Rod Serling I’m not.

But, it didn’t take much time surfing http://www.legislature.mi.gov and eyeing just a few of the dozens of laws proposed for this year alone before I felt like I was in the you-know-what zone.

Aside from various amendments to existing corporate welfare schemes and various dubious taxes, I found a proposal directing police, doctors and teachers to report suspected child abuse; the fact that someone felt a law was needed for something this obvious both scares and puzzles me.

Though I was certain trespassing was already a crime, there is a bill proposed that would penalize scofflaws with a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail for remaining on someone else’s land after they’ve been directed otherwise.

Where I come from, fines are the least of your worries if you refuse to get off a man’s spread.

Not certain that they had wasted enough ink, paper, time and money, our good Michigan legislators authored H.R. 324 which recognizes the Michigan inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Some laws, like voter rights initiatives, are passed to prevent prejudice, and some laws, like those which tell you what you can’t do with your body, are passed to protect prejudice, but my favorite laws are the ones which spring up after some yutz hurts himself doing something stupid, which brings us to my favorite of the laws proposed this first quarter: H.R. 5753 which aims to, “Prevent death and injury from stove tipping.”

Had I simply been lucky?

Was it possible there was a marauding band of G.E. and Kenmore ovens thirsting for human blood?

My mind flashed back to the cult classic movie “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats People.”

Perhaps this was perfect fodder for the sequel: “Evil Ovens: The Stoves that Fall on People.”

The movie would open on a sexy blonde co-ed cheerfully painting her toenails in the living room of the family for which she is baby sitting. Suddenly, a noise from the kitchen.

“H-h-hello?” the college student calls toward the noise.

A strange “thud” jolts the scantily clad college student from her pedicure.

A lone wolf howls in the distance.

“Who’s there?” she cries as she heads toward the kitchen.

Upon entering, our victim finds a casserole dish on the floor; the oven door is ajar.

“Now who could have …” she whispers as she stoops to retrieve the pan.

Cue violin staccato as the oven tips over, crushing blondie.

I’m telling you: throw in some 3-D shower scenes, a few gallons of blood and a wisecracking 12-year-old and we’ve got the next summer blockbuster.

But, back to the law.

I read further: “Since 1980, at least 33 people were killed and 84 were injured when free-standing stoves tipped over on them.”

My God! 33 people over the course of 28 years have lost their lives to this menace?

Why, that’s even higher than the eggbeater mortality rate.

Frankly, if this is such a problem, you should probably follow these tips:

Stop using your oven door as a diving board;

and, if you’re going to chug bourbon ‘til you black out, then at least throw junior in his crib beforehand.

Predictably, next were more laws about guns.

Oh, how we love our guns—almost as much as we like arguing about our guns.

Due to a drive-by shooting in Detroit in recent weeks, two Michigan state representatives are pushing for a law which would increase penalties for firing a weapon from a vehicle.

You know, because the only reason people commit drive-by shootings is because the penalty isn’t stiff enough.

They say “weapon” because, while the predominant choice of murderous hoodlums is the firearm, you never know when some rogue gang is going to whip out their crossbows or wind up the arm on a trebuchet.

“Yo! 16th Century Mafia up in this piece, bee-yotch!”

Just in case you’re interested in a little rolling mayhem, the penalties have increased from four to 10 years in prison with fines increased from $2,000 to $10,000 for cases where no one gets hurt.

If you actually hit your target, then you could be looking at 15 years behind bars and fines of up to $15,000.

For anyone thinking of releasing an anaconda, tiger or a rare African vampire frog loose in the streets, you should hurry up and do it now before the Exotic Animal Law is passed.

You could be looking at a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail for a first offense.

A law dictating how many wild birds of prey you could capture and keep as pets seemed strange to me, until I discovered that kidnapping various hawks and training them as pets is a pastime in Michigan.

According to the Michigan Hawking Club, there are nearly 90 hawkers in Michigan who use their raptors to hunt rabbit, squirrel and even other birds.

When blasting bloody holes in Mother Nature’s creatures just isn’t exciting enough, there’s always the enslavement and murder games of hawking to fall back on.

When you put two dogs in a pit it’s called animal cruelty. When you force a large bird to kill a rabbit it’s called a “hobby.”

I get it. To become a falconer, you must be at least 14, pass a DNR test and get sponsored by a veteran falconer.

Finally, in the “Try not to fall out of your chair laughing” segment, we have H.R. 323, which urges the United States Congress to balance its budget.

I tried coming up with something more ridiculous than State of Michigan officials demanding another governmental body to be responsible with tax funds, but I just don’t have the stomach for it.

I’m sure your state has plenty of strange laws on the books and more waiting to be made every year.

If you want to have a little fun, start forwarding those conspiracy theory chain e-mails, the ones you’re used to deleting, to your state senator or U.S. Congressman and see how many of them end up as laws.

Cooking dinner on the engine of a 1988 Cadillac

ben apron rolling pin VI“I’m not a lunatic or anything,” I said to the small crowd as I popped the hood on the old blue car. “I’m a local writer working on a travelogue of sorts.”

A few of them smiled politely and went back to fueling their motorcycles and stretching their legs.

Smells of fish, herbs and almonds wafted across the gas station parking lot.

I flashed my press card in a futile attempt to confirm my sanity.

“Watcha doin’?” one of them queried.

“Makin’ dinner,” I responded.

What drives a man to cook dinner on the engine of his ‘88 Cadillac?

Maybe it was hunger, perhaps it was boredom, but either way, it doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to know auto engines get hot enough to cook food.

And, this was something I had always wanted to try.

While I wasn’t new to cooking, I was unfamiliar with this method.

And, since I couldn’t afford the $68 how-to cookbook “Manifold Destiny” I had to wing it.

A pound-and-a-half of Atlantic salmon sprinkled with lemon, basil, rosemary, black pepper and salt was triple wrapped in foil.

I was sure to spray the inner foil of the meat and veggie packs with a generous amount of cooking spray.

Two large handfuls of fresh green beans covered in two tablespoons of virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and sliced almonds was also triple wrapped in foil.

The brownies, which came from a mix, I poured into a nine-inch cake pan and also covered with foil.

I used 100-pound strength all-purpose wire found at auto part stores to secure the victuals.

It’s perfect for cinching sagging exhaust pipes or keeping lunch off the highway.

I wedged the salmon between the exhaust manifold and a parallel exhaust pipe.

The green beans, which were shaped in a flat rectangle (ensure meat and vegetables are one layer deep, preferably an inch or less thick) I laid on the valve cover.

One piece of wire secured both fish and veggies.

I strapped in the brownies with a piece of wire so they rested atop both the radiator and valve cover before setting out on our 60-mile journey.

By Mancelona—30 miles from home—the scent of salmon wafted through the heater vents. We stopped at our property there and I did a progress check.

The green beans were hot, but the brownies were room temperature goo.

I moved the beans to the alternator and put the brownies on the valve cover before heading home.

Back in Charlevoix, I parked at the Mobil station, untwisted wires, laid out forks and napkins.

The three bikers up from Jackson on a color tour, said the salmon was delicious but the green beans were still crunchy.

We snacked from the engine bay and made small talk while the wife sunk in her chair, covered her face and prayed to God no one saw us.

So what did I learn?

Contrary to popular belief, an alternator does not get hot enough to cook green beans. (Is that a popular belief?)

I learned my children have yet to reach the age where everything I do is an earth-shattering embarrassment.

In fact, I think combining my son’s fantasies involving high speeds, fine food and combustion may have jump-started him into puberty.

I also learned some vehicles simply have too many gadgets under the hood.

There just wasn’t enough bare engine block upon which I could cook to bake those brownies.

The next time I do some over-the-road cooking, I’ll take my ‘67 Buick Riviera with the 430 cubic inch big block.

It has enough open space to roast a tenderloin, a five-pound bag of potatoes, buttermilk biscuits and a devils food cake.

Move over Tommy Tutone: 867-5309 (Benny)

At age 11 it was obvious I was destined for two things: rock-n-roll and diabetes.
At age 11 it was obvious I was destined for two things: rock-n-roll and diabetes.

My name is Gohs, and I make bad decisions. This is where you say, “Hello, Gohs.”

I know the shock you must be feeling: “You mean the rotund guy with too many tattoos and the arteries of a 90-year-old pastry chef makes poor choices?”

This latest bumble involves performing a song at the local library’s open mic night. I know my way around a guitar but sing only well enough to get myself in trouble. Though, that has never kept me from obliging when the mood commands.

I convince myself the experience is not for my own edification but because my 13-year-old son and budding guitar hero deserves some recognition for all those hours of practice. He says, “Let’s play Crazy Train.” I say, “Let’s not.”

We settle on Tommy Tutone’s classic 867-5309 (Jenny).

“Hey, what a great idea!” shouts the part of my brain—known by scientists as the Belushi Zone—in charge of craving doughnuts and beer, making homemade fireworks and using a cooler lid as a sled pulled by an inebriated gent on a riding lawnmower.

“But sire, you cannot sing,” pleads the part of my brain that looks like Professor Julius Kelp and generally prevents me from, say, investing in South American Alpaca farms.

We tune the guitars and run through it for practice.

“So, how does my voice sound?” I ask the wife.

Kelp senses her hesitation but, before he can warn me, Belushi brains him with a croquet mallet.

“You sound like a freakin’ canary,” Belushi says as he polishes crimson sauce off the hammer with a shirtsleeve and elbow. “Now get out there, superstar.”

The first act, consisting of a pretty girl and her slacker boyfriend, plays perfectly for the crowd of 20. My dinner tries its level best to abandon ship. A short little poet about the size of two garden gnomes gets up. He’s Jack Kerouac meets Danny DeVito.

“Railroad cars shifting buttermilk; birds gurgling acid; white feet … kicking; always kicking.”

Then it’s the boy and I. The crowd’s anticipation is palpable. My feet feel heavy and my tongue thickens. Suddenly I’m Roy Schieder on Amity Island. Off in the distance some guy is yelling for his dog Pippen. The camera does a dolly zoom (look it up) nice and close on my face. Kelp awakens and delivers a roundhouse kick knocking Belushi unconscious.

“What in holy hell am I doing?!?”