Today’s Forgotten History

It is common today for competitive swimmers to shave their body hair, and the assumption is generally that this reduces drag in the water. Perhaps it would only slow the swimmer by fractions of a second, but in a very close race that could mean all the difference.

While that sounds logical, and may even be scientifically true, it has nothing to do with why they do it.

The practice dates back to late in the 19th century, and involved an Italian swimmer named Paulino “L’orso” Anzioni, noted less for his success as a swimmer than for his incredibly huge amount of body hair.

It is said that in his hometown of Udine, Italy, Anzioni would often walk nude through the center of town, and while the locals were quite used to the sight, visitors to the city would often by frightened by the walking Brillo pad.

“No,” the mayor of Udine, Giovanni “Il Sindaco” Ludivico would famously chuckle. “It’s-a just little seven-year-old Paulino! He’s a hairy little fuck, eh? Just like his mama.”

Although he had no previous experience as a competitive swimmer, neither did any other Italian, so since he was first in line he was selected to swim the 100-meter freestyle for his nation at the first modern Olympics, at Athens in 1896.

As the competitors took their places at the beginning of the race it was obvious the Anzioni was not only hairier than each of the other swimmers, he was hairier that all of them combined. In fact if any of them had pets he was hairier than them too.

Before the race began there was much discussion among the experts of the day as to whether this would be a disadvantage, and those who thought it would be cited the same reason discussed above, namely the drag it would cause. Other, stupider people thought, conversely, that he might skim across the surface of the of water, like a really hairy flat stone.

All speculation was put to rest as the starter’s gun sounded and the ten swimmers launched themselves into the pool side by side, briefly disappearing below the surface of the water before re-emerging and commencing their freestyle stroke.

However only nine swimmers resurfaced. Anzioni’s body pelt immediately became saturated. Drag was not the problem at all, unless you are referring to the fact that the weight of the captured water dragged him to the bottom of the pool, where he remained for several minutes while the race was concluded. It was won by Alfréd Hajós of Hungary, who said after the race, “I thought it was unfair including a dog in the race in the first pla… what? What’s that? That was a dude? Get the fuck out of here!”

Anzioni’s drowning in his very first race immediately sounded the death knell for the hairy Olympic swimmer. And it did not take long for the others to begin the custom of shaving. Everyone was baby’s-ass smooth by the time Paul Neumann of Austria won the 500 meters about twenty minutes later the same day.

Few today remember “L’orso” Anzioni, even though he both started the body shaving craze among swimmers and launched the pool filtration industry.

Let’s Just Deal With It

Alright. Everybody is talking about it. It’s pretty much the only thing anyone is talking about. If you turn on the TV, which miraculously is still working, (Full Disclosure: I’ve always thought TV was pretty much of a miracle… especially flat screens, because before them I’d always kind of held out the “little people in the big TV” theory), it’s all you are going to see and hear. Facts, figures, words, numbers. Maybe a few pictures of ventilators.

It’s okay. Don’t worry about the zombie in the middle or the face palm happening to his right.

Oh, and they keep showing this one Cheeto-colored guy. I didn’t realize that was one of the symptoms. It’s really pretty scary. I see why they’re talking about zombies and stuff, because he’s… wait. What? That’s the president of the United States? Not a covid-zombie? M’kay. We’re sure?

Alright just forget that whole section.

But there are things… other things… other than that wrong thing… that I know a little bit about. Let me, to paraphrase the great Cleavon Little, whip them out.

Words, Names

I’m a writer, so starting out talking about words seems to make sense. At least to me. And I’m the one writing this.

First things first. Naming a virus that is circling the globe, killing people… (yes literally killing people!) after something as beautiful as a nice, cold Mexican beer is wrong. Incredibly wrong. Monstrously, criminally, really nastily, horribly, OJ-ishly wrong. Oh yes. I went there. The wrongest wrong that ever there was.

Secondly, I’ve been around for a few of these new disease premieres. I mean the really new, “what the hell is going on” diseases. AIDS, for example. And Legionnaires, for another. I remember them right at the point where people just started taking notice. They didn’t know enough about them to give them right names. AIDS, for example, started out with the nifty moniker “Gay Cancer.” We figured out pretty quickly that it was sexually transmitted, meaning that married men were immune. [rimshot] But heterosexual people started getting sick too, and they went through a few name changes, (I suggested “Killer Parrot Flu,” based solely on my absolute lack of knowledge on the subject – rejected, alas), before settling on AIDS.

Now we have coronavirus (damn you virus namers!) and the disease it causes in we, the humans, covid-19. So immediately the obvious question is…

What happened to covids 1-18?

Right off the bat I feel bad for those forgotten ailments! Hang with me for a second…

Consider the story of the Buddhist monk who saw a scorpion fall into a fire. He reached in to save it, the scorpion stung him, he dropped it back in the fire, then reached in to save it again, whereupon the scorpion stung him again, and so for several cycles. Eventually, in spite of his efforts, the scorpion died. In the fire. Probably really hurt.

Anyhow it just so happened some other dude was in the area. Might have been a used car salesman or something. Romance cover model? I don’t remember. But anyway, he was like, “HEY, MONK! Why you keep doing that thing?”

The monk was hurting. His scorpion-saving hand was swollen to approximately the size of a Cadillac Escalade, but he was chill.

“Wut?” He answered a question with a question. That means he was wise. It’s a fact. Ask my high school Spanish teacher. She was wise too. Also hot.

I digress.

“Why you keep trying to save that salamander?”


“To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

“Well… okay, yeah. Whatever. Anyway, it’s simple. It’s my nature to save the scorpion…”

“I get it, and it’s the salamander’s nature to butt-sting the shit out of you.”


“Po-tay-to, po-tah-to…”

Anyway, there’s a point to all of that. It is the nature of the virus to reproduce itself at the expense of its host. The best viruses will, if they play their cards right and get into a prestigious college, travel the globe, becoming a pandemic.

But not covids 1-18. Nobody gives a shit about them!

Next, when I think of the last true pandemic, the infamous 1918 influenza pandemic, I realize that the number of deaths were astronomical, and that this was a great, global tragedy.

It was all supposed to be so… beautiful!

But think about how many more sports I’m not getting to watch right now than they did back then. There weren’t as many pro sports in 1918, (Quiddich, for example, was played only regionally, mostly in the mid-west and, like, a ten-block radius uptown, starting around 191st St.) And also no TV back then, so that whole thing.

But man! March Madness!! Baseball Season!!! Hockey, NBA, and on and on. All gone in the spattering of a sneeze. And, as a Yankees fan, can I just say BULLSHIT!!?? This was the year we were going to win the AL east by, like, 90 games then sweep every post-season series, and be rightly called the greatest team in the history of all sport. Even quiddich.

But I’m not bitter. As a semi-rational adult I know the universe isn’t singling me out. It’s screwing with all Yankees fans.


Jesus Christ. I mean. Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

I would really like to say something insightful about the president and his response to this great national, indeed global challenge. I really would. I would like to not have been able to imbed a half-dozen video clips from his news conferences, each with more glaring examples of how unfit he is, not only to be president but to be a member of the human collective. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to do that anyway, because that’s how they get ya… but that’s a story for another day). Or to repost data that the White House is releasing about how great Trump’s TV ratings have been during the crisis.

But when it comes time to discuss this particular aspect of the great world-wide illness, I just keep getting hung up at…

Jesus Christ.

The People of Walmart America

I’m not overwhelmingly proud of the Donald, but I gotta tell ya… if you stack him up against what a whole crap-load of so-called “regular” Americans did to get this what whole shindig off to a grand start, he actually comes across as the less idiotic.

Because if a million years of human evolution (or 5000 years, depending on what your membership card says) and tens of thousands of years (or nine, I guess), of the development of civilization have taught us nothing it’s that the first thing to do in a great pandemic involving a virus which attacks the upper respiratory system almost exclusively is… to hoard toilet paper.

It was a pretty piss-poor [huh-huh] audition for the role of “Species which survives,” if we’re being honest. To me it seems like ten minutes after the first person sneezed in Wuhan every grocery store near me immediately ran out of toilet paper. Then meat. Then cleaning supplies. Then, oddly, old VHS recordings of Family Feud episodes from the Ray Combs era, which frankly I don’t know why they stocked in the first place.

It was like we had all finally come to terms with the fact that we descended from J. Fred Muggs and all the other great TV chimps like Kokomo Jr., Lancelot Link (Secret Chimp), and Donald J. Trump, and were acting like animals now in order to get in touch with our ancestors. It was like we were all saying:

Even nice, old grandma’s were out there, fist fighting over rotisserie chicken and Depends. But with them is was more like they were saying:

Charming, in it’s way, but still not the vibe we need.

Now, as absolutely serious as covid-19 is, we, as a species, have better-than-even odds of surviving. The figures I’ve heard bandied about are of those infected, 80% resolve on their own, and 15% require medical attention. (As a rule that’s where they generally stop pitching numbers, leaving out the fact that the missing 5% are the fatalities.) There is, if we do not do the things we have been told (and let’s be honest, should have been able to figure out on our own), the chance for unimaginable tragedy.

But if we, by chance, don’t screw up, and we come out of this relatively okay, what does this say about our chances in a pandemic where tens of thousands are dying daily? When we’re in a true mass-grave-digging state of affairs, what the hell is going to happen when we do this… we lose our shit in the midst of a pandemic disease many people will never realize they had?

But what if…

These are my people
So are these

I mean, what if we truly get it right? What if we model our behavior not after the doo-doo paper hoarders, but the quarantined people of Italy, who sang with one another from their windows and balconies. Maybe we’ll learn from the families who gather, each in their own front yards, to say the Pledge of Allegiance with their neighbors. Or maybe we’ll be able to emulate people like my friend, who tested positive, and then offered a free online writing class the following day. She continues to post uplifting images and videos to her many followers as she navigates her way through her recovery.

You see? It’s possible to be faced with adversity and not become a race of tools.

So, in conclusion…

I realize that we are still in the early stages of this whole experience. I realize that our perspective may change several times before it is over. But even from this vanguard vista some things are clear, and some things may never be. Somethings are certain and somethings would serve well as a definition for “uncertainty.”

It is, in fact, all you need

But of all the certainties the one thing I am more certain of than I have ever been is that wacky message we all believed back in the 1960s was then, is still, and will, in fact, always be correct. I think The Beatles framed it best in their world-wide broadcast of the song “All You Need Is Love.” I mean, now we also know we’re going to need lots more ventilators, gloves, and masks, things like that. But the bottom line is we need the old hippie mantra to be our guide-stone at this point. We need to not forget that we are only going to survive this challenge and all the ones that are sure to come after it if we remember that we need one another.

And if we don’t cause shortages by trying to protect ourselves…

…from shortages.

Please realize this is not an attempt to minimize the seriousness of the pandemic.
It is an attempt to smile in the midst of it.

The Beauty of Nature

A lot of folks know me a primarily a writer of fiction, some know me best as a poet, and one or two know me from my various blogs, one of which you are reading right now.

But not many people realize I also write scripts for science and nature documentaries. Here, then, is a sneak peek at my latest.

Nature Documentary Script – Draft one

We tend to think of bunnies as cute, forgetting they can also be stern

[The scene opens to total black, with calm nature sounds. Gradually fade in to a forest scene as the narrator speaks.]

Narrator: Evolution. Still called a theory by many, notably back-asswards evangelicals who insist the Earth is only 6000 years old and that Donald Trump is in any way fit to be president of the United States, the obvious proof of this scientific fact is everywhere.

Nowhere is it more evident than in places such as this idyllic forest, filled with animals, which over uncountable epochs, have gradually developed survival traits that have seen the species adapt and thrive.

Occasionally a pair of species will develop what scientists call “symbiotic evolutionary traits.” For example, consider the owl and the rabbit.

Few things on the owl’s menu are considered as yummy as a nice plump rabbit.

[An owl flies over an opening in the forest canopy and sees a rabbit in the center of the small field.]

Owl: [Has a German accent for no good reason] Gottdamn! Look at zat fat joozy little bastard.

Narrator: The owl’s stock in trade is its unmatched visual acuity. It quickly picks out the rabbit’s white fur, even among the camouflage afforded by the forest floor. To all appearances, the small forest creature is completely without defense. But this is where evolution truly shows its hand.

The owl sees the harmless bunny

Owls, for all their vaunted vision, are completely unable to see anything that moves with a hopping motion. Rabbits, for their part, have evolved a muscular and skeletal system that makes hopping their primary form of locomotion. In fact, it pretty much disqualifies them from doing anything else. Using a drone flying well above the owl we see the same field, containing the one stationary rabbit as well as five or six that are hopping around for all they are worth.

[Cut to the owl’s-eye view, which again shows only the one rabbit.]

Owl: I am zo gonna eat that mutterfucker.

[Cut to the stationary rabbit, nervously munching on a leaf]

Rabbit: [Has a Latino accent for no good reason] Looks like this cabrón spotted me. Get ready.

Vere did zat rabbit go?

[Cut to owl-eye as he begins to swoop down on the rabbit. Just before his outstretched talons grab the innocent furry creature, the rabbit hops and the owls talons close instead on dirt and grass. At the same instant the now six or seven hopping bunnies all open switchblades and attack the owl from multiple angles, swearing in Spanish and calling the owl tons of mean things. Feathers fly everywhere as we fade again to black.]

Narrator: But evolution is on-going. Just as the rabbits have learned that by hopping they can occasionally dine on a lovely owl pate on a bed of lettuce (cuz, you know, primarily vegetarians), owls too are learning to seek less hoppy prey.

[Fade in to a sunny day in a public park. A father can be seen walking with his twin sons, holding the hand of each.]

“Hola, Lunch!”

The owl knows that a small child is only marginally harder to fly off with than a really fat rabbit. He also knows that they too, like the rabbit, have the ability to hop like nobody’s business, but has spotted this pair, being kept more or less under control by their father.

Father: Whatever you do, just don’t start that hopping shit today.

[Even as he is speaking the owl swoops into the scene and captures one of the boys.]

Narrator: Now here is the true beauty of evolution. For the adult human, too, has developed traits, which, while not necessarily beneficial to the species at large, sure as hell aid in his own peace of mind.

[Cut to a tight shot of the father and remaining son. The father looks at his now empty hand, then at the other kid, then up to the sky. He takes the remaining child in both hands and lifts him over his head.]

Father: Hey, owl! Wait! You’re going to get hungry again later!

Narrator: So as you can see, calling evolution a “theory” at this stage of the game is a lot like burying one’s head in the sand, right next to the post holding up a “Trump 2020” placard. It’s just fucking insane.

[As we fade to black we can still hear the father shouting]

Father: Hey! I’m serious. Come back here and take this one too! Come on!






My Wrath is as Patient as Death

So it would seem I’ve launched some mad campaign to “get myself out there” (professionally) and to write in my ridiculous harem of blogs on a “regular” (meaning shits daily) “basis” (meaning… uh, more than one bass?)

There may be two people in the entire world that have followed my blogging endeavors for any length of time, and neither of them is even me. No, I’m lying.

They’re both me.

But both of us know that Things To Laugh About, (most often lazily stripped down to TTLA), was the first blog. YES! This ratty collection of attempted laugh harvesting is the place my writing renaissance started. I may have talked about that before, or conversely may never have mentioned anything about it and most likely won’t ever again. I forget.

The point is, this was the first blog but the great “Look at me! Look at me constantly!” crusade was announced… on the author blog???

Give me a freaking break!

00Hindenburg_disasterListen: the first thing you need to wrap your mind around is the announced routine is going to crash and burn faster than the German airship Hindenburg on May 6, 1937 (just about six months before my mom was born, for those of you keeping score) at Lakehurst, New Jersey. I was a few decades away from being there, but I’m told it went quick. [Ten million bonus points for all of the people who looked at the picture quickly and thought this might be about Led Zeppelin. You’re wrong, but you’re my kinda wrong].

But let’s play a game. Let’s say for the sake of argument and to exercise muscles of absurdity which rarely get worked to this degree, that the blog idea doesn’t fall on its face before reaching the first turn. Let’s say that by some laughable insanity the “right pair of eyes” stumble upon any one of the four sites and they actually see what’s in front of them.

What then, huh?

Yosemite1REVWell, I’ll tell you one thing. The fact that you didn’t hear about it first here at TTLA will certainly piss me off a great deal more than it will if I’m right and he drives the Model T off the cliff a half a mile from the bordello. Yeah. If this bullshit idea works I will be steaming mad. And I’m not talking your dad when you talk him into letting you pull the car into the garage for the first time and immediately take out the side mirror mad. Way worse. I’m talking Yosemite Sam mad.

I mean, where’s the wave at the four-way stop when I give you my right of way? Where’s the love for the historical role that this blog, this blog plays in this doofus’s professional life? There would be no author blog if this blog hadn’t sullied the screens of computers all over the… greater Syracuse region. I kid myself because there’s no one else here to do so. I know the blog reached a little farther afield. But, yeah. No author blog, no music blog, no poetry blog… nuttin’!

But its real place in the pantheon comes from the fact that in writing the stupid humor bits on here I realized that the scary-movie-sentient fog which had wrapped itself around my intellect for a solid twenty years or so seemed to have moved on to the next guy, believing no doubt that the lack of any sign of brain activity for most of the time signaled victory.

Hey, I’m not saying the older posts on here are all winners. I haven’t actually read through them in a while, so maybe none of them are. Couldn’t honestly tell ya.


But the confidence it gave me was real. The ability to think through ideas and the ability to laugh at my own idiocy, that, my friends, is what got me ready to start writing books.

So all I’m saying is… you shoulda been told from here. Where’s the loyalty? I’m so Sam mad that I can’t even really think of anything sufficiently horrific to say to you. So I’ll just leave you with this image of a creature who is actually capable of this trait since clearly, you are not.

And yes I realize I’m talking to myself. There’s got to be at least one post on one of these internet diaries, complete with the wimpy little key that didn’t really do anything more than a bent paperclip could have done where I’ve explained the terms of my madness. Do a little digging if you want to meet the squirrels that live in my gulliver. Because you guys don’t know me like I do, and believe me I need to put myself in my place every now and then.

00eyesSo mister future big shot writer brat punk wiener, just remember, I’ve got my eye on you. Both eyes, whenever possible.

Your Own Damn Self

American Monsters: Debunked


There are in this great nation a plethora, maybe even a couple of plethoras, of creatures scattered over the continent which have not been scientifically verified but have none the less withstood the test of time and remain embedded, if not within the realm of documented fact, then certainly well within the acceptable boundaries of regional folklore.

But is there any truth to these stories? We at TTLA have long been committed [Ed. Note: we would have also accepted “should be committed.”] to keep an open mind in these matters, to thoroughly examine the facts, and not rely on hearsay (except for those times when that’s all you’ve got, then it’s about the wow-factor.) But at the same time we’re are not going to be a party to irresponsible acceptance of anything presented as fact because, in spite of what your mom told you between customers, you can’t believe everything you read in the interweb.

So let’s examine a handful of these legendary critters and see wuts wut.

The Carolina River Skunk


According to documents sent to us by eight-year-old Sirus Graham of Bowman, South Carolina, (who we wanted to tell to piss off but couldn’t because he filled out all the forms correctly), one rainy day in 1967, Sirus’s grandfather, Timmy Wojzakoszic, was trying to pee on a frog on the bank of the Askyamudda River when he saw a creature that he described as, “Looking like a pretty good-sized skunk, but gliding through the water like that was its natural habitat. If I didn’t know better I mighta believed the little bastard was surfing. I ain’t never seed a skunk swim, so I knowed it weren’t a regular polecat. It was a Carolina River Skunk.”

Timmy apparently then said it wasn’t so much a surfing skunk as a half-skunk/half-bean burrito, because it smelled “really bad but also a little tasty.”

When pressed, Timmy changed his story several more times, once saying “I wouldn’t say it were a skunk-man as such, because it looked just like a skunk, except when it reared up, its little skunk underbelly was bald and pink like a man and it had man-nipples.”

Conclusion: Debunked

The Carolina River Skunk was a damn dead fish.

Timmy Wojzakoszic was a weird kid and he’s no less weird now. Although he told the story of Carolina River Skunk for his entire life, his older brother, Garfunkel Wojzakoszic, was also trying to pee on a frog that day and said what his brother had actually seen was a dead fish, explaining the stink/yummy duality.


The Indiana Green Witch

Yeah, like you wouldn’t.

The first recorded mention of the dreaded Green Witch was in the Star City Tribune, 8 June 1869, in an article by respected journalist Skank “Pee Wee” Bitterbottom. In it he says, “Four People suffered an afternoon of foul humors after they saw the Green Witch pass by their farm. Also, their pig, Connor, ended up needing some therapy.”

Several weeks later a follow-up article mentioned that the Green Witch had been spotted once again, this time by a group of milk maidens/roller derby queens, who reported that “compared to that team from Lake Holiday” the witch “wasn’t all that bad.”

Conclusion: Debunked – maybe – don’t care

We don’t know what was going on in 1869, but we think the green young lady in the illustration is really hot and if anyone knows whose party she’s going to on Halloween PLEASE call, text, page, or throw a note tied to a brick through my window. Actually, wait. Throw it through my neighbor’s window and write on the note for him to bring it over to me. Just the note. He can keep the brick.

[ED. NOTE: We didn’t feel like the writer who contributed the first two segments was really treating this whole project with the proper amount of respect, and so we have assigned the final portion to a new, young, bright-eyed idealistic 24-year-old Sarah Lawrence graduate.]

The Tiny Brown Crotch-Crickets of Idaho and parts of Utah

00goodcrabI had hoped my first work in print would be something with a little dignity or, at the very least, some journalistic integrity. But I’ve got to tell you, this place is a lot different than you present it in the recruitment brochure.

I’ve looked through the source material and the previous author’s research notes, and I am one-hundred-percent sure that we’re talking about crabs here. I mean, listen to this statement from the police file: “When my big sister, Anastasia, went to a party with the guys from the next town’s football team, she came home scratchin’ the ba-jeezez outta her beav.”

Conclusion: Debunked

I mean, what the hell, you guys?

What the hell?


So, you probably believe in all of these monsters now, even though we’ve just told you they’re probably completely fake. Would it have helped if we’d had one of the tv ghost hunting show guys act all spooked and say “Did you just hear that?” Because when you see them do that you know it’s a real ghost.

So depending on the praise to threat ratio on the comments we receive about this post we may be back with more of these deep, probing exposé-ish numbers. Or we may be hiding out in a cave somewhere.

We’ll let you know.

They Can’t Agree on Anything!

Everyone knows the Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un have something of an adversarial relationship. From name-calling to quipping over whose nuclear button is bigger (no Freudian reference there!), they just don’t seem to be able to see eye to eye on anything!

Or do they? TTLA has uncovered a shocking revelation, but before we spill the beans, here are a couple of clues that might help you figure out just what the common bond might be:


Kim Jong Un
Have you figured it out yet? OK, here’s the big reveal:


That’s right! They both have the same insane barber! First spotted in a Monty Python sketch, this is the fellow who wanted to be a lumberjack, but was stuck being a barber. Some forty-odd years later his disposition hasn’t improved and now he’s taking it out on the heads of the Heads of State!

Remember to tell everyone that you heard it here first!

Three Year-End Ponderings

I’m not sure if anyone’s told you, but there are only a few days left in 2017. This is, generally, the time of year when your various news and entertainment venues like to present you with looks back on the year that was. But we at TTLA have more respect for you than that. We think you already know what happened in the past year. You were there, for crying out loud!

So instead we thought we’d yield our year-end summation time to CNN, and FOX News, so that they can tell you what you already know from the exact opposite point of view, and instead ponder some important issues, issues that are timeless, and not at all dependent upon a year coming to a close.

Let’s start with an item that should resonate with people who live in the little town of my birth, New York City.

The Tri-State Area

00Tri-State_Area_mapI don’t know if anyone other than advertisers really think of this little slice of heaven as being part of the “Tri-State Area.” But if you watch any of the New York-based television stations, specifically sports-related channels, you will see ads for your Tri-State Honda dealer. You’ll get to know about the best brick-face and stucco contractor in the Tri-State area. And you’ll learn that your Republican elected official is ranked #1 among givers of unwelcomed vagina gropings in the Tri-State region.

Yes, all of this will be familiar to fans of the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, Mets, and Yankees. But here’s a little-known fact that not even most people in Metro New York and Northern New Jersey are aware of. The third state in the Tri-State area is not actually a state at all. It is, in fact, war-torn Bosnia.


00mathers_frecklesCan anyone explain to me the fact that no matter how green your bunch of bananas is when you purchase them at your neighborhood grocers, by the time you get them home their skin already has more freckles on it than little nine-year-old Jerry Mathers face?

You intentionally buy them in a state that appears to be months from being edible and after a fifteen-minute drive home, they are good for little more than making muffins or perhaps giving to your pet capuchin monkey, Sir Reginald.

On a related note has anyone ever said anything funnier than little 42-year-old Barbara Billingsly, when, with a deadpan expression she spoke these words into a 1950’s era telephone handset: “Ward, you need to come home right away. There’s something wrong with the Beaver.”

And they say television today is racy!

And Finally… Science Fiction

Scientists will tell you, and if you don’t stop them they will keep telling you, that space is a really big place. It is enormously, mind-bogglingly huge. Imagine the biggest thing you can think of, say Alaska or perhaps your Aunt Phyllis. Space is way bigger than that, even on those days when Aunt Phyllis is feeling bloated.

galactic_mashupWhat’s more, even though space is filled with billions of galaxies, which are in turn filled with billions of stars, around which most likely there are billions of planets, the distance between all this crap is brain-bashingly gargantuan. Everything is so far apart that in the distant future when our galaxy, depressingly called the Milky Way, (seriously? No wonder the other galaxies mock us), and our closest galactic neighbor, the Great Spiral Andromeda, (now there’s a cool galaxy name. I bet the girl galaxies all sigh when they think that maybe Andromeda looked at them at the pep rally), collide…

Wait. Did he just say our nerd galaxy is going to collide with the popular galaxy? Yes. Yes, he did. But don’t freak. Because everything is so cerebellum-mooshingly far from everything else, almost nothing will actually collide with anything. You’ll be fine! You’ll have been dead for 3.75 billion years, but aside from that, you won’t notice anything untoward. If your long-returned-to-dust head still had hair on it you wouldn’t even feel it get messed up. Certainly not like when Aunt Phyllis is around, that big old fat hair-messing bitch.

They also probably won’t look even this much like us. Most scientists agree we can’t probably even conceive their form because it will be so, well… alien.

So if everything is so far apart that there are stars we are looking at in the sky whose light left there a billion years ago and is just now reaching us, and if light is the fastest thing we know of, faster even than you heading out the back door as Aunt Phyllis waddles in through the front door, then how long would it take for an alien from a planet orbiting around that star to get to us?

It is impossible to travel at or above the speed of light. Unless you’re light, which you are not, and neither is E.T. Therefore the likelihood of extraterrestrial beings of reaching the Earth is pretty much zilch. I’m not saying they’re not out there. I’m just saying they’re not coming here. Especially not if they find out about Aunt You-Know-Who.

lLxCoWMHaving said all that, I love science-fiction. I love to read it, I love to write it, I love to watch the movies, and if it was a casserole, I’d even love to eat it.

It’s just not real, folks. So stop the nonsense. No one is being abducted, nor have they ever been. Anuses are being probed, but not by aliens… unless you count your proctologist from Bombay. Nothing was built by ancient aliens, except maybe that dude’s hair. (Because there is only one other explanation for hair that messed-up, and that would be Aunt Phyllis. And even that seems beyond the boundaries of plausibility.) No spaceships are going to blow up the White House, no matter how much I implore. Crop circles are formed by wise-ass kids, not Uncle Martin, wonderfully played by Ray Walston. Stonehenge was built by very intelligent people a long time ago with no help from the Great Gazoo, (which happens to be the title of a really great science-fiction story by S.J. Varengo, featured in his book Welcome Home. You should read it.)


In Summary…

I hope you’ve enjoyed these crucial ponderings, and have maybe had your eyes opened, ever so slightly, to the wonders of our world, and of the universe. And remember, we’ll be back in 2018 to bring you more intelligent humor… gack… cough…

Sorry. Choked a little bit there on the word “intelligent.” Occupational hazard.

But for real…


The Magic of Film

We, all of us, owe a lot to Hollywood. The hours of entertainment. The marriages that last such a short time that our elementary school crush on Suzie Spoto seems epic in comparison, the rampant sexual scandals which make we who our mothers assured us would go blind and or grow hair on our palms, seem pretty timid, downright Victorian.

So, yes. We definitely have to thank Tinseltown for all of this. But do you know who owes Hollywood an even bigger debt than you and I, Joe and Jane Ticketbuyer? The real-life people portrayed in the movies and on TV.

I’ll start with the example that came to mind as I was watching “Masters of Sex” on Showtime last night. I studied psychology in college, and I remembered seeing pictures of both William Masters and Virgina Johnson. Mrs. Johnson wasn’t the most hideous woman to ever walk the face of the earth, but she was no Lizzie Caplan.ginnylizziecompare

Clearly, the real Ginny got an upgrade, but that’s nothing compared to Bill Masters. Take a looks at this side by side:


Notice any difference? And, no, I am not referring to the pattern on the two bowties. If we’re being honest, the consistency of bowtie usage is just about the only thing between the two that isn’t in opposition!

After I made these comparisons I thought of a couple others. The 1963 movie “Cleopatra” had a star-studded cast of people who were all way better looking than the characters they played. Let’s start with Julius Caesar. Played in the film by the dashing Rex Harrison, the real J.C. does not appear to have had his counterpart’s charm and good looks.


Rex’s hairline extended down a little further, for one thing, and he just pulls being Caesar off a little better than Caesar did.

You know who did even better? Marc Antony. A few of the images of Marc Antony that I found weren’t half bad, but after finding the one below, which is said to be carved in his lifetime, Richard Burton’s portrayal makes the original pale when viewed next to one another.


Even if part of his nose hadn’t been broken off, it would seem to me that boxer Gerry Cooney looked a lot more like him than Burton. See for yourself:


Naturally, I’ve saved the best for last. Because the real Cleopatra was to Liz Taylor what toenail fungus is to a bed of roses.


Um, yeah.

Moving on to another film that tells the story of historical figures, let’s look at 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde.” Because it’s fun to romanticize murderers! We’ll start with Clyde Barrow.


If he isn’t still looking up from hell and thanking the gods of casting for letting him be played by Warren Beatty, then despite being brought down in a hail of gunfire, he still got off easy.

But once again, this disparity is nothing in comparison to the treatment Bonnie Parker got at the hands of Hollywood.


Could Fay Dunaway look any more sultry? Could the real Bonnie look any more like a cigar smoking pig-woman? Again I would suggest that had they been going for absolute realism, Gerry Cooney is your pick to play Bonnie.

In recent years we’ve seen this trend diminish somewhat. Think Charlize Theron playing Aieleen Wuornos  in “Monster.” I don’t remember if the makeup artists won an Oscar for doing that to Charlize, but I am pretty sure that when they die they will be in the furnace next to Clyde Barrow for destroying that kind of beauty, even temporarily.

Or of the upcoming biopic of my life, in which I’m to be played by Brad Pitt. Err, sorry. Typo. That was supposed to say “Brad’s Armpit.”

A Mother’s Wisdom

crazy-old-women-8My mom was a fountain of wisdom, all of which she attempted, vainly, to pass on to me. She was also stark raving mad. All in all, a pretty cool gal. But I now realize that many of the wise sayings she shared with me over the years are too good, too potentially beneficial to the world at large not to share them with you. So here then is a quick post containing some of the gems of the collected wisdom of my mom.

“The way to a man’s heart is through his sternum.”

“Too many chefs in the kitchen makes great TV.”

“Two wrongs don’t even raise an eyebrow if you’re talking politics.”

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely.”

“Clouds gather before a storm, especially when you’re at a picnic.”

“Ambition is a good servant, but a bad master, and it absolutely sucks on harmonica.”

“Beauty is only skin deep. Under that things get pretty gross.”

“Stop and smell the roses. Most common side effects include itchy, swollen eyes and pain and redness around the smelling area. Do not stop and smell the roses if you are allergic to roses or any of their ingredients. Other, serious complications include seizures, blindness, death, and halitosis. Consult your doctor if you experience these or any other symptoms.”

“The eyes are the windows of the soul. Lasik is the Windex of the soul.”

“A rolling stone gathers no moss, but it does rock out on ‘Gimme Shelter.'”

“Let sleeping dogs lie because they’re not any more likely to tell the truth when they’re awake.”


Why change your spots?

“The leopard does not change his spots. And why would he? He looks fabulous in prints.”


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Two pounds, maybe, depending upon market fluctuation.”

And finally, the saying that she shared with me most often and with the most feeling:

“Sons are the anchors of a mother’s life. In your case tied around my ankles in the middle of the ocean.”