Monday, July 27, 2015

Ding-Dong!


            Greetings, WYMOP fans!

Ding-Dong!
Your mailman is at the door. It’s me, Rob, that poor bermuda-shorts-wearing bastard
who needs to collect a signature from you again. Or maybe I have a package I want to get in out of the rain. Or maybe the Jehovah's Witnesses are out in the neighborhood again, and they’re closing in, and I just want to get inside and lie on the floor like the rest of the household, pretending nobody’s home until the danger has passed. Whatever. You need to answer the door, and there are certain things that should just not happen when you do so. There’s actually a ton of things you shouldn’t do, so this is just a partial list.



Don’t answer the door while restraining your dog.
Look, I know you love your dog. You love dogs, period. I love them too. But if you’re holding Sparky’s collar and he’s actually dragging you forward, your feet sliding across the
carpet like some slow-motion water skiing scene, barking and snarling and slavering—and he’s just a 9 lb Pekingese or a Boston Terrier—take the hint. Sparky wants to kill and eat me, possibly (though not probably) by humping my knee to death, and there’s really no way you’re going to work the pen, the paper, and the savage beast, all at the same time. And if Sparky is something a little
bigger than a Corgi, like, say, a Doberman, or a Mastiff, then you won’t have to worry about letting me in to avoid those Witnesses: I’ll pee myself to death right there on your doorstep.







Don’t answer the door while stoned.
Yes, whatever I’m trying to get you to sign is probably important. Yes, the agents of the Watchtower are closing in, and my fight-or-flight reflex is revving my engine like I’m a
dirt track hero. But no, it’s not going to help me at all if you’re going to open the door, ask me who I am, introduce yourself, ask me where to sign, flip the card over, ask me where to sign again, flip the card over, ask me where to sign again, blast a Dorito burp in my face, giggle an apology, then ask me who I am and introduce yourself again. Then flip the card over.

  1. I’ll cry.
  2. If I’m looking for a signature, I may have to just bail on you right in the middle of your story about the time your brother’s best friend’s cousin’s uncle’s half step-sister and you went to the store for milk, possibly killing your buzz.
  3. If I’m running from sober-suited folks wielding Awake! like a weapon, there is the slightest chance I may wind up charging toward them, sky-clad and bearing your head on a stick, asking if they’ve met my Dark Lord. Panic does funny things to people, and I might try fighting fire with brimstone.


Please don’t answer the door naked.
Okay, this one’s got a qualifier: unless you’re a 21-26 year old swimsuit model.
So as you approach the door, I don’t care if you’re male or female, ask yourself: Am I a 21-26 year old swimsuit model? If the answer is yes, then smile and throw that door wide. The human body is a beautiful thing, and at the very least I’ll get a blog post out of it.
However, if the answer is, No, I’m a 68-year-old retired fisherman, with a strange and disturbing skin rash beneath random patches of wiry and none-too-clean body hair, who may not smell bad, necessarily, but does smell a lot, and has decided that those spaces where I’m missing teeth are the perfect places to store food for later . . . then no. Please. Please no, for the love of God, just leave me out on the stoop to face my fate.
Yes, Mr. Russell, I’m sorry, but I’m talking to you.

That’s all I can come up with for now. I can’t get the images of Mr. Russell out of my head. The last time he opened the door he was naked . . . and stoned. And apparently had some sort of  . . .of . . . man-part infection . . .
I have to go lie down.

I’ll talk to you later.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Satan's Balls

Greetings, WYMOP fans!


This post is a day late, I know. But I have a fantastic reason.  An amazing excuse. The excuse is so good, I made an entire post just about that. Now the post itself, the excuse, is rather short, and pretty easy to read. In order to understand it, however, I need to give you a little pre-post prep work.

Ready?


Pre-post Prep #1: Policy.
The postal service has several policies regarding their vehicles, but for the purposes of this rant, I’m going to focus on just one: when unoccupied, the vehicle must be secured. This includes, my current postmaster has pointed out, the windows, regardless of the weather. Oh, you can leave the windows of your own personal vehicle down all day long, just as you might when parking at the beach and wanting the car to ventilate a bit while you’re worshipping at the sandy altar to the gods of surf and sun. But a postal vehicle is a different story.
A postal vehicle may only have its windows open to a certain degree, defined as follows:
“The vehicle windows are open too far if a seventy-five pound crack whore, standing
upon the shoulders of another seventy-five pound crack whore (because they are known to travel in pairs and packs, pulling crimes with all the balancing flair of a traditional Chinese acrobat troupe), could possibly shove her spindly, scabrous, pipe-cleaner arm in through the gap and grab some of the mail—or even, it has been posited, unlock the door from the inside, enabling the two (or more) of them to crack the steering column and hotwire the vehicle. They would then, of course, drive the entire day’s worth of  mail off to their secret, evil crack whore lair, where they will roll about in the mail, tossing handfuls into the air and rubbing it on their faces as if it was money—of course they’re not going to act rational about it: they’re crack whores.”
I may have been paraphrasing.


Pre-post Prep #2: Satan
Picture, if you will, taking a little trip down the ninth circle of Dante’s Hell, where you come upon the huge form of Satan, the Father of Lies, the Lord of all Evil (with the capital
“E,” yet!), just as trapped within a lake of ice as he has been since the Fall. You and your friends—let’s face it, nobody’s going to want to do this alone—drive out on the ice in dump trucks, deftly avoiding the Evil One’s six beating wings, to dump, spray, shovel, and rake, several tons of premium-grade ice-melt onto Satan’s cocoon of cold, eventually freeing the Lord of Flies from a restraint that has held him for thousands of years.
Now, of course old Lucifer’s going to be feeling grateful to you—but imagine his surprise when you, in your best infomercial voice, say “But wait! There’s more!” The look on his face when you hand him the deed to a beach house, right on the shore of the Lake of Fire on one of the upper levels, is absolutely priceless. He takes possession immediately, longing for the warmer climate after spending millennia as the World’s Most Evil Frozen Dinner. Since he’s not been able to exercise since long before Jesus Christ was even a gleam in His Father’s eye, the Devil is seriously appreciative that the beach house is well stocked with exercise tapes, and sets out right away to get himself into bikini shape.
So, if you’re still with me here, try now to picture this next bit: you show up at Satan’s
beach house, walking in to find the Lord of All Evil lying flat on his back. His face is purple. His flesh quivers. Air, hot enough to broil steak due to the proximity of the Lake of Fire, rasps in and out of his great lungs. You may imagine for a moment that he’s having a heart attack—if, that is, Old Scratch could be said to have a heart. But no, all that’s happened is the Enemy has just gone through Sweating With the Oldies 1-5, kicked and punched his ass off alongside of Billy Blanks, and then finished up with Shaun T’s Insanity Workout.
The Master of All that is Unholy, eons out of shape, has collapsed in front of his widescreen, in a gasping, sweating, pungent, eldritch, goat-leggedy mess.
Now, you’re going to have to bear with me on this part.
I want you to imagine—just imagine—you’re holding some sort of device in one hand, designed for reading temperatures and collecting samples of the third state of matter: gas. There’s a capture tank with some kind of straw protruding from one end, with a thermometer attached. Maybe it’s got a squeeze bulb on it, allowing you to suck in a sample turkey baster style, maybe it’s a trigger mechanism. Doesn’t matter. Use your imagination.
But now for the hard part.
Imagine approaching that hot, sweaty, fallen mess, reaching out with a gloved hand (or a pencil, maybe a pen, if you don’t have gloves of some kind), and lifting the Adversary’s applebag. Beelzebub's ballsack. Lucifer’s love bundle. The Devil’s dangly bits.
That’s right, I want you to imagine you’re hoisting up the Satanic scrotum.
Then, have a quick go with that little atmosphere-collector gizmo you dreamed up, about a paragraph back. Stick that probe-end in under there—but not too far, you don’t want to give Satan an actual heart attack—and get a sample. Take a reading.
The temperature (and remember, you’re within spitting distance of a vast lake of fire!) is roughly 10,000,000 degrees—equivalent to the surface of the sun. Unlike the sun, however, this ain’t a dry heat. The capture tank in your collector gizmo is filled with the dank, rank, moist, musty, and thoroughly disgusting fumes to be found ‘neath the squackbag of someone trying to keep  up with a happy and excited Richard Simmons for five consecutive workout tapes—and Billy Blanks—and Shaun T. When you look into the collection tank’s viewport you can’t even see through the brown murk in there, and though the tank itself is supposed to be airtight, you still catch a whiff that nearly knocks you out, a quick reminder that our workout-whacky Wicked One hasn’t actually washed his undercarriage since before recorded time.


The Quick Excuse:
Okay, I told you all that so you would understand when I tell you this.
Yesterday, in Marblehead, it was somewhere in the mid-to-high nineties. All day. It was hot. And sunny. And hot. Now, whenever all the shady parking spots were taken up along my route, I had to park where the sun could beat down on my mail truck like John Henry on steroids. I had to. It’s my job. And after I’d walked around for two or three relays, the sun beating on me with all the fury of Mike Tyson after someone called him a sissy, I just wanted to get out of the sun, turn on the fan and get some relief. I walked up to my truck, nudged aside the small pile of exhausted crack whores that had built up against the door in my absence, opened the truck, crawled inside—and it was hot and nasty as Satan’s balls in there!
That was my “relief from the heat.”
Is it any wonder that last night I was a little exhausted, a little dazed, a little sick, and just not up to writing a blog post?
Is it?
*sigh*
Sorry I was late. Talk to you later!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Super Me?


Greetings, WYMOP fans!



So with all the uproar over the impending Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, I’ve decided to embrace my inner spaz, and blather on about a topic that will look really familiar to most—if not all—of the men out there. No, it’s not who do I think will win; I don’t want to be accused of spoiling the film for some comic book fan a year from now when I turn out to be right. Instead I want to look at something most men out there have already discussed: what super power would I really want?

And I’m not talking about childhood discussions, here; I don’t know about you, ladies, but the men in your lives, no matter how old they are, would most likely launch themselves balls-to-the-wall into this discussion if given half a chance, and without a thought.

Now, for the purposes of this blog, I’ve lined up five of the biggies, the ones that have probably been discussed again and again. But this is me, my opinions and my thoughts, on what super power I would want, from my current, aged, wrinkly perspective.


1) Invisibility:
Photo courtesy of
               the Huffington Post
Okay, look: one of the things I loved about my Jeep was the room that it gave me—not cargo, or passenger room, mind, but my own personal space—and the height it allowed me for stepping in and out of the vehicle. Sometimes, when I mentioned all the glorious personal space the vehicle gave me, friends would give me somewhat funny looks, as I am pretty average in the height and build department; it wasn’t like Shaquille O’Neil was trying to squeeze behind the steering wheel or anything.
I would always answer those looks in the same way: truthfully.
“I may not be big, but I’m damn clumsy.”
I am prone to missteps and whacking myself on things. In the summertime, in shorts, I have the legs of a toddler, with their constantly scraped knees and bruised shins, and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve walked around with a cut or bruise on my otherwise smooth and shiny head, simply because I forgot to duck. And this is when I can see myself.
Were I to lose my visibility, my already pitiful ability to gauge the position of my hands and feet and everything in between would be seriously compromised. Misfortune would leap upon me with all the swift savagery of a puppy attacking an unshod foot, happily gnawing with growling, drooling abandon on the big toe of my fate. I’d give it a week—at the outside—before I was found, invisible and unconscious (and naked, don’t forget that! I’m into the classics!) at the foot of the stairs, having bashed myself into amnesia with a misstep, leaving the police no choice but to make the rounds with an ID photo showing naught but a visibly empty bed.
Invisibility: no.

2) Super Strength:
I once mentioned, in a review I wrote of the film WolfCop, that, were I to suddenly gain greater-than-human strength “ . . . when I was fourteen, I would have been right down at the park, whoopin’ ass in a neighborhood football game. I’m forty-six, and if I got super strength and speed today, then tomorrow you’d find me hanging at the local park, football in hand, waiting for the locals to start choosing up sides.”  I stand by that declaration.
However . . .
If I were getting to plan ahead and chooses power, I’m not sure I’d go with the ability to bench-press Kanye West’s ego. I believe I’ve explained that I am not the most graceful of persons (see above). I’m not even in the top 25%. I’m more in the Oh, that looked painful category.
If you’ve ever seen The Incredibles, you may remember the scene where Mr.
Incredible (who has super strength) accidentally breaks his car a bit (if you don’t, click
HERE). That was just thirty seconds of his life, but it probably cost him hundreds of dollars in auto repair. In just thirty seconds. If I suddenly gained Mighty Muscles, or Samson Strength, or whatever cool name you want to put on it, I give myself a week before I’d need: a new car, a new computer, new doors throughout the house, a new toilet, and (this is the icky one, folks) a new puppy for my son—and that’s just off the top of my head. For me, super strength equals financial ruin.
Super Strength: no.


3) Super Speed:
A mailman with super speed. Hardy-har-har, I can hear the jokes now. Cartoons of a turtle wearing a jetpack. Copies of the movie Turbo being randomly left where I could find
them. But it wouldn’t be a joke: if I had increased speed, and my bosses ever found out about it, everyone in my office would be let go so I could deliver the entire town. Every day.
That, my friends, is no fantasy—it’s how upper management in the Postal Service thinks. Someone would get a bonus for coming up with the idea (and you can bet your sweet sitting-parts that no bonus would be coming my way), and I’d be doing the entire town myself. Thirty-five people would lose their jobs, and I’d be the most hated man in the Postal Service. That super speed sure would come in handy when some of the union hit-men—excuse me, I meant representatives—came after me to . . . to talk, yeah, that’s it. Talk. Super Speed would mean being hated and despised, and doing a lot more work for no more money.
Super Speed: no

4) Flight:
We’ve all had that dream, haven’t we? Winging through the air like a bird, looking down upon roof-and-treetops, swooping and diving, then climbing up, up, up, until we punch through the clouds into the brilliant sunshine above, all about us columns and planes of visible vapor, as we soar above a beautiful white landscape in the sky . . .
One problem with that beautiful dream: that would be my nightmare. I’m afraid of heights. I don’t do roller coasters. I avoid the window seat when I fly. It’s a white-knuckle trip every year when I get on the ladder to put up the Christmas lights—which might explain why it takes me so long to get them down again. The one time I tried to do a ferris wheel with my son, just to show the tyke (this was quite a while ago) there was nothing to be afraid of, he wound up asking why Daddy was crying.
It ain’t pretty.
So if I were to choose flight as my super power, the best thing I could say about it would be that I wouldn’t need a nemesis, or one of those arch-enemies the comic book heroes are always spouting off about: all I’d have to do is fly too high, and I’d wet myself to death long before the sun got to melt my wings of wax.
Flight: oh, hell no!

5) Super Brain:
Hmm . . . the Super Brain. I decided to call it the Super Brain rather than Super Intelligence, because there are several different facets to it. Oh, sure, Tony Stark requires some serious intelligence to create the Iron Man suit, just as Reed Richards does for his inventions, and Green Arrow for his trick arrows, Batman and his bat-everything, Lex Luthor and his evil plans . . . but does it only take intelligence? Each of the above mentioned characters has a huge amount of creative genius—the ability to think outside the box, to look at things in a new and different way—not just sheer knowledge. And Batman’s greatest power, arguably, is his inductive ability: he’s DC’s version of the world’s greatest detective.
So, let’s see: is there a downside to brains as a super power?
Well, people might call me a nerd.
Oh, wait, they do that anyway.
People might start making fun of me for my sense of humor, if I start finding stuff funny that they just don’t get.
Oh, hang on. I already love puns. Damn.
I’d probably lose my social skills. I mean, if I had any social skills.
Well, it’s not a downside, but I’d probably start trying to make a living using my brain, rather than walking my route every day . . . like, oh, I don’t know, writing or something.
Waitaminute!
People call me a nerd because half the time they don’t understand what I’m talking about, I have the social skills of a hermit crab with jock itch, I laugh at things people don’t find funny on an hourly basis, and I’m trying to make a go of doing something with my brain that requires at least marginal intelligence and mondo creativity . . .

  . . . holy shit! I’m a superhero!






SUPERME.jpg



Sweet!

Talk to you later!


Monday, July 6, 2015

On Dialogue

Hey there, WYMOP readers!
Today’s just going to be a quickie about writing—well, a particular aspect of writing.
But not to worry, you non-writers who are reading this (and I think there are quite a few of you): this is actually aimed mostly at you, though I think some of the writers will get a kick out of this as well.
Dialogue.
Occasionally I’ll see a writer post something about being terrible at writing dialogue, or have someone mention to me how difficult it is. I’ve also seen non-writers respond to that post, or make comments if we’re in person, and sometimes those non-writers are confused.
“Dialogue is just writing what people say, right? People are talking around us all the time, right? All you have to do is listen, and write it the way you hear it. Easy peasy. Right?”
Not quite. Writing dialogue is easy. Writing good dialogue is harder, dialogue that’s going to keep a reader’s attention, and not sound stilted. Dialogue that’s going to sound real to the reader, and not make them point at the page and say “Whoa, dude, people just don’t talk like that!”
“But it’s like I said just two paragraphs back,” says one of the confused non-writers. “You just have to listen to people talk, and write it that way!”
Have you ever just sat and listened to two people talk? I mean, not watched them talk, seeing all the gestures, body language, and facial expression that go into everyday conversation, but listened only to the words? I was working at the kitchen table yesterday morning, banging away at the keys like I am now, when my parents came into the kitchen behind me. They were in the middle of a conversation, and this is what I heard:
Dad: That show about the guy who went to prison for the rape and murder of this girl.
Mom: And he didn’t do it?
Dad: There was this new DNA evidence.
Mom: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Dad: It stars that guy from that cult thing.
Mom: That cult thing . . .
Dad: The cult thing with that guy.
Mom: The cult thing with that guy. That guy . . .
Dad: You know, Brenda Leigh’s husband.
Mom: Brenda Leigh?
Dad: Yeah. Her husband. In real life.
Mom: Wait a minute. Kevin Bacon.
Dad: Yes!
Huh?

They walked out of the room, he into the living room, she upstairs toward the bedroom. Thirty seconds later, Dad shouted up the stairs:
“Rectify!”
Now, I’m not making fun of my parents here—okay, maybe a little—but this is a snippet of what an awful lot of conversation looks like on the printed page. Riveting, huh? Without seeing the flapping hands, or the eyes squinting in confusion, it just falls rather flat—and without the shared experience between the talkers, sometimes it’s downright confusing: it wasn’t until Kevin Bacon was mentioned that I realized the Brenda Leigh my father mentioned wasn’t just someone they knew, but was actually the character in The Closer played by Kyra Sedgwick, whose husband, in real life, is Kevin Bacon.
Do you really want page after page of that to read?
I thought not.
So the next time you’re wondering what the big deal is about writing “realistic” dialogue, go find someplace with people, take a seat, and close your eyes.
Listen.
Chances are, they’ll wonder what the hell you’re laughing at.

—Talk to you later!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Who Needs Pumpkins?



So. Being the caretaker of a 12-year old boy is . . . interesting. A study in contrasts. The good and the bad. I’ll try to explain.


You might have noticed I said “caretaker” up there, not “parent”, or “father.” I’m proud to be a father, and tell people all the time. I do—if you know me, back me up here: I’ve probably told you at least one story about my kid. Probably more. They were probably funny: he’s a funny kid, and I have a terrific sense of humor.


Note—most times, when someone tells you they have a terrific sense of humor, it’s like when someone says “I don’t mean to be rude, here,” or “I don’t mean to butt in”: complete and utter bullshit. This time, however, the words are the sweetest truth—Rob does, indeed, have the best sense of humor he’s ever encountered.
—The Management


No, I didn’t say “caretaker” for any other reason than that’s what it’s like sometimes: being a caretaker at a very small zoo. Just one exhibit. There’s a room in the house that smells a little bit like an animal den, though the dogs themselves are not allowed inside. It’s kind of steamy, with a sort of rain forest atmosphere, and it’s always dark in there. If you look closely you can spot a structure we refer to as a bed, though in reality it’s more nest-like than anything else, cast-off clothes and blankets forming a warm, comfy pile that can be either lain upon or burrowed under, depending on the weather and season.


In this den lives . . . a creature.


The creature (we call him Handsome, for anyone who may have forgotten), is roughly man shaped, and sized—in fact, we can now share clothes, which will make it pretty easy to Christmas shop this year. I’ve already picked out a number of shirts that will look good on me—I mean, that look like they’ll fit him. But I digress. The beast seems to communicate in almost nothing but grunts and a sort of muttering, though when provoked can roar a variety of phrases at surprising volume. There’s “In a minute!” and “In a minute!” and, when he’s really provoked, there’s “In a minute!


Yesterday I managed to pry the Handsome from his lair with promises of food and a well-placed cattle-prod. He emerged from his hole grumpy, glaring about, blinking in the unaccustomed daylight. I had the Handsome help me with a task or two I had about the house, but it was a constant battle. The Handsome does not take well to harness, and the phrase stubborn as a mule comes to mind. Eventually, I lost track of the Handsome, and he slipped away from me.


I found him back in his lair, where I stood in the doorway and tried to call them out again. I saw nothing but his silhouette against the computer screen, a head misshapen by oversize headphones, the phones clinging to his ears like long-lost friends. I could hear the video he was watching, or the game he was playing, right through the phones, so I raised my voice, shouting my call.


The call was answered immediately with a roar of “In a minute,” the sound of a young male defending what he sees as his territory; I’d get no more work from the beast today. With a sigh, I shut the enclosure door and went about my business.


~ ~ * * ~ ~


Hours later, I finished my projects, and decided to hit the shower before it was time to go. It was dark outside now, and there hadn’t been a peep out of the boy’s room. The house lights were on, and I was tired, so I stepped into the shower. And then I stepped out. I opened the bathroom door, clad in my fresh clothes—and stopped dead when I saw the darkened house before me.


What had happened to all the lights? Was there a power outage? No, there couldn’t be—the lights in the bathroom were still on, and had not flickered, so . . . I poked my head around the corner, calling a quiet “Hello” into the darkness, in good not-going-to-survive-the-horror-movie fashion—and saw a light off in the dining room. It was faint, and small, and seemed to be flickering.



I walked closer, making my way slowly through the shadows of the kitchen. The light in the dining room did not retreat, and seemed to be on top of the dining room table, where I’d left my ChromeBook and bag. I walked closer.
  . . . closer  . . .






What was this? A tiny, flickering face in the dark? I peered more closely, noticing for the first time that there was a piece of paper in front of the face—there was writing on it, though I could barely make out the presence of the letters in the dim, unsteady light spilling from the tiny head in front of me.

So I turned on the lights.


It was a jack-o-lantern made from an extra-large Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate cup, a worn tea light candle, scooped from the holder on the stove, nestled down within it to give it life. While I had been in the shower, the Handsome had carved this thing for me, found the smallest of candles to put within it, then run about the house dousing all the lights to give his creation its full power. In front of the thing he’d left me a note: 

Who needs pumpkins?

Awwww . . .

Yeah, sometimes having a 12-year old boy is a lot like keeping a small and very private zoo. But lots of times, and this was one of them, I just love being a dad.


—Talk to you later!