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One Good Turn

Have you ever noticed how many different variations we have  for the word “turn”? Most everything to do with turn kind of assumes that things are headed one way, but then they’re somehow redirected.

Just think of all the things you can do if you’re turning. You can turn the crank, and you can turn to the left or to the right—just don’t turn around. If I could turn back time, I think I could really turn things around. I’d like to turn the corner, but it’s not my turn. Whose turn is it, anyway? Oh, now suddenly it’s my turn. Of course, one good turn deserves another, although I’m not so sure that applies if what one happens to be turning…is tricks. A witch turned me into a newt one time. (I got better.) Technically, what actually happened was that Kendra kissed me and I turned into a prince. You might think I had to turn in my man card. Not so. (Although it did turn my life on its head.) That reminds me: Back when we were dating, Kendra and her friends were talking about me one time and she said: “He could be a powerful ally, if he could be turned.” But then the conversation turned, and, as it turns out, it was me who returned the favor. That’s not  as bad as when the milk turns. That’ll turn your stomach, and unfortunately, there’s no turning that off once it starts. Even if you try to turn a blind eye to it, it could still turn loose at any time. When that happens, what I like to turn to is two turntables and a microphone because that usually turns me on, Sonny, to something strong. Speaking of being turned on, I hope we have a good turnout. You never know, after all, how things are going to turn out.

One of my favorite lines from the wonderful film Raising Arizona is when Holly Hunter’s character tells Nicolas Cage’s character to “Turn to the right” because it has a double meaning. You see, in the literal sense she means it because she’s taking his mug shots for his incarceration, one from the front and one on the left side, so she needs him to “turn right.” (By the way, his pictures turn out okay—we get to see them at the end of this scene.) But she also means that in order to deserve her love, she needs him to turn his life around (turn to the right). Clever, right? And of course decides to turn over a new leaf for her because she’s turned his head. (By the way, after that whole exchange, she takes his fingerprints and turns in his paperwork.) Their story gets better for a while, but then it takes a turn for the worse.

I’m going to turn the page to a different topic now: Why do we still say “turn down the TV” or “turn down the radio”? I mean, in the old days, it was because those things had knobs (remember those?), which you literally had to turn. But we haven’t had knobs like that since, oh, I dunno, the turn of the century (back when “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was still on the radio). So why are we still turning those things? (Also unrelated, my dad still says “turn the channel.” Pretty much everybody else I know says to “change” it.) While I hate turnips, I’d like to end on a positive note, so I’ll leave you with thoughts of apple turnovers instead.

I think I sprained something with all that. I could probably use a tourniquet. (Okay, maybe that one was a stretch.)

Come on, Turn. Seriously. We have other words. Why do you feel like you have to mean everything?

I’m sure I missed at least a couple. Fortunately, my lovely readers enjoy pointing out my mistakes for the world to see. Which “turns” am I missing? What was your favorite music video from the 80’s? Or the 70’s, I guess, for that matter. Why do you think peanuts (and tree nuts) seem hell-bent on killing kids these days?

Intruder Assassin

Twelve years ago, Kendra and I were sitting comfortably in our living room, enjoying a pleasant visit with close friends, Matt and J.J. It was early evening, the warm, late summer’s twilight just beginning to settle, visible through the windows into our backyard. And I saw him: The beast, slightly larger than a Yeti. Although his features were indistinguishable in the fading light, clearly he was possessed of a demonic rage and evil intent, his blood boiling, filled with malice, positively radiating a soft red glow like lava.

But I should back up a little: A series of two retaining walls held back our yard from crashing through our house, one Lego-stacked pile of carcinogenic creosote-soaked railroad ties stacked on top of the other. In the weeks previous, I had noticed a large hole underneath the top wall. Upon closer inspection, I observed evidence that some diabolical usurper had been coming and going from the hole. For days I dubiously staked out the hole, taking several hair samples and readings in an effort to gather more data about my foe, the better to formulate a suitable paramilitary response to his encroachment. But thus far, the wily creature was toying with me, demonstrating that he was onto me, as he was either using some animalistic ninja trick to turn invisible in his comings and goings, or perhaps escaping and returning at will through some miles-long tunnel system he had somehow managed to camouflage from my detection. I had caught not even a glimpse of the bumble, when suddenly this opportunity presented itself, a gift from the very gods of fate.

Now that I had seen him for certain, no way was I letting him escape. (Call ME crazy, I thought. You want crazy? I GOT your crazy!) I hastily excused myself and ran, Clark Kent-like, for the garage to grab a shovel, intent on manic violence. In just a few moments, I would learn that violence actually has a name. And a face. And that its name…is “Matt.”

Certainly one could be forgiven for misinterpreting my intentions that evening, as from all appearances, I was running in the direction opposite the threat, whereas Matt was in fact running headlong towards it. I bolted for the garage; he bolted directly out the back door. I was headed to procure a weapon; he was a weapon. At first, our attack might even have appeared to be coordinated, with him flushing the beast in a purposeful direction towards me, as I came careening around the corner of the house into the backyard from the garage, my Shovel of Destiny in hand.

And then Matt handily demonstrated how superfluous was my weapon of mass destruction, indeed, how unnecessary was even my presence. I could better have served him by remaining in the house and freshening up his sweet tea, perhaps running out to have his car detailed and to pick up his dry cleaning.

No, Matt was not flushing the Acid-Clawed-Monster towards me, as I had supposed. Rather, he was running it to ground. As it hurtled across the backyard, shrieking its murderous Hell-fury, I rounded the corner just in time to observe Matt close the distance between them, in perhaps three quick bounds, and in one deft motion, Beckham-like, he punted. Matt felled the creature by immediately increasing its velocity ten-fold, taking full advantage of the laws of physics by forcing it beyond—far beyond—what its advanced physiology dictated it could run. And it toppled, end over end, some twenty feet—not unlike a soccer ball, in fact (although of course fifty times the size).

When the beast came to rest, he was clearly disoriented, dizzy and damaged from his tumbling dance across the landscape. It was at this moment that finally I was able to see through his campaign of psychological warfare. He was, in fact, an opossum.  Although, clearly, he was no ordinary opossum, rather more like the giant spider from Stephen King’s It, capable of projecting himself as a terrible, giant fiend. I stood not three feet from him, faltering in that moment, my shovel hanging impotent in my grip, debating whether this might in fact be just another of his clever deceptions.

Then Matt caught up to him. Still without breaking his gait, Matt kicked him once again, this time more American-football style…directly into the brick wall of the house next door. In defense of what some might mistake for my apparent ineptitude and skill in dispatchment, Matt was wearing boots at the time, and I was wearing just sneakers. As everyone knows, of course if you’re going to kick an opossum, you’d best be garbed in the appropriate footwear. The implications of attempting such a feat in the absence of the proper equipment are simply too dangerous for one to even consider.

But Matt wasn’t done. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “playing possum,” and you thought these mastermind marsupials do that intentionally, you’d be mistaken. In fact, they can’t control it. When presented with grave danger, a chemical reaction occurs that both paralyzes and immobilizes them. Matt was counting on that with his first kick. What he was doing with his second kick was ensuring it. He placed his foot over the back of the opossum’s neck, and I suspected he was going to suffocate it or to crack its skull. But of course that’s no way to be sure that your opponent truly expires. What he was in fact doing was applying another principle of physics—leverage—pinning the base of its skull to the ground between the heel and forepart of his boot. He grabbed its tail and jerked its hind end straight up. It’s a maneuver I’ve observed in the game Mortal Kombat, although certainly never perpetrated against a real-live creature, and particularly not against a large rodent. C-R-AAAAAAA-C-KKKKKK!!! went its spine. Yup, he was finished.

I lamely offered to scoop up the corpse with my shovel to dispose of it. Still holding its tail, the opossum now essentially hyperextended to around five feet in length or so, Matt grinned at me, shook his head lightly, as though he felt some mild embarrassment for me inexpressible in words, and he chuckled. He simply released the head from under his heel, lifted it slightly higher by the tail, carried it to the trash bin, and dropped it in.

What can I say? The monster had seemed much bigger in the dark.

What’s the most savage creature you’ve ever dispatched? And what method did you use? By all means, share with us the gory details. Have you ever witnessed another person violently murder a helpless, innocent animal in a way you could never have expected? Why are Kraft Macaroni & Cheese boxes so insanely difficult to open?

Changing Up

To my faithful readers (all five of you):

I’m planning some upcoming changes to soon—well, soon for me…as soon as I can get around to them, anyway. I just wanted to let you know in advance because things are probably going to break and look ugly/ier for a little bit until I can get it all sorted out. Here’s why:

I’ve been using the tagline, “I write…so you don’t have to,” for about four and a half years now. My original premise when I first purchased the domain was to “pimp my wares,” which is a nice way of saying, “letting people know what services I may equitably provide them.” No, wait…switch those around. People often refer to starting their website as “hanging out a shingle,” but I don’t think that means the same thing now that it did in, you know, medieval times. Now it has a different connotation (to me, at least.) And nobody wants to see that hanging out on the web.

Anyways, several months ago, back when we were visiting Greece (the country, not the musical), I decided that I wanted to start blogging in a manner that entertained me. And if anybody else enjoyed it as well, that would just be gravy. (And who among us doesn’t like gravy? Am I right or am I right?) It’s like that old saying, “Misery loves company,” so I figured at least a handful of people would tag along. (Turns out I was aiming too high.)

I’m a huge fan of the genius of @badbanana, he of the Twitter fame (407,232 followers?!? Seriously?!?). He once tweeted, “Misery loves company picnics.” So true.

So here’s what I’m gonna do (or, as Kanye might say it, “Hee’s what I’ma do”):

I’m going to simplify somewhat. My plan is to move to only words, since that’s what my mom says I’m best at. (And she’s my mom, so why would she lie to me…right?) The home page at will have two halves, something like “Serious” and “Less So,” or perhaps “Business” and “Fun.” The “Less So” (which on my site now I refer to as “Sillier Things” in the menu options above) will lead you here, to my dumb blog. The other half will be building out what’s now “Serious Work.”

While I had hoped to spend more time entertaining people and giving them the opportunity to laugh (hopefully sometimes even out loud), and just have kind of a respite from all of the seriousness of our lives, I also have to kind of be a grown-up (or something) and be more serious about the writing I do for a living. I much prefer being a doofus online, but of course that’s not paying any of my bills. (Despite my incessant begging, you guys have just been no help in that department.)

At some point, I’ll also be changing over my Facebook structure. My plan is to create two new pages. One will be the same obnoxious smarmy feed you’ve come to expect from me there, and the other will be a “serious” one about the kinds of business services I can offer (like exorcisms and exotic dancing at bachelor parties, bat mitzvahs and kids’ birthdays). The downside to that is that, if you’re my Friend on Facebook, and you want to keep seeing the “fun” stuff, you’ll have to “Like” the page I set up for that. I’ll then reserve my “normal” Facebook profile for family and personal things that actually are related to my friends, and not just me, and not just me embarrassingly screaming for attention. (I haven’t decided yet how I’ll accomplish the same thing on Twitter.)

So, any questions? Certainly I welcome your feedback. (Not that I’ll actually take any of it into consideration, of course—but I prefer to leave you with at least the impression that you are valued in our relationship). Does anybody really even care? Do you think Sarah Palin seriously has a shot at the White House at some point in the future? (Whether yes or no, please defend your position.)

All Skate

Today is a new day at Have you ever had one of those ideas that was so overwhelming, so huge, so magnanimous, so ginormous, that it was lapping at the very edges of that pan that’s underneath your brain that keeps it from spilling onto your garage floor if its drain gets clogged? (Or maybe that’s your hot water tank. I’m not good with analogies.) It’s like the boy who cried wolf when he flew too close to the sun and he saved a stitch in time. I presume you know what I mean.

That’s what the past two days have done to me.

It’s like learning that there’s ice cream. Then learning that there’s more than one flavor of ice cream. (In my case, specifically chocolate.) And then learning that there’s such a thing as Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream. And then Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk® ice cream. And then Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk Peace Pops, which basically contain all of the same deliciosity of that particular blend, only condensed and wrapped in a thick layer of chocolate, then jabbed with a stick to make it portable and therefore far easier to enjoy, only to be tantalized to learn that it is not available in the geographic region of the country where you live, only to learn later that it’s been canceled as a product, presumably only because the sheer awesomeness of its value to humankind has simply eclipsed all other products on the market to the point that all of the lobbyists in Washington, D.C., collaborated jointly to protest before Congress because no one would purchase their products as long as it existed. Sort of like that. But I digress…

I write…so you don’t have to. But so far I’ve just been writing whatever I feel like writing. Whatever strikes my fancy. Whatever mood strikes me. Whatever ideas and stories I already have in mind which contain “facts” which cannot (easily) be contested by the readers so that I can in fact say whatever I want and sometimes even make up parts and no one will be the wiser. But I have a different idea today, and I need your help and participation. Here’s how this will play out:

  1. I provide three (3) choices. They are deliberately vague—hopefully, teasingly intriguing.
  2. @reply to me on Twitter,
    Post on my wall on Facebook
    Simply reply to this post in the Comments below…
    With your vote for which topic you would like me to write for you.
  3. For this test run, you MUST select from the options I provide. No “made-up” submissions or alternative suggestions will be considered—at least not on this go-round. (Depending on how this experiment goes, I may open up other options.)
  4. You may invite your friends to submit suggestions and increase the chances of your topic being selected.
  5. Each person’s vote will count only once. Voting will close at 5:00 PM God’s time. (Most of you probably know this as Central Standard Time.) If you vote on more than one platform, and you vote for different selections, I reserve the right to choose which of your votes I shall count. Based strictly upon the popular vote—that is, whichever choice receives the highest number of votes—I will write that for you, and it will post on Monday.

Your choices are as follows:

  1. Aunt Fran’s Armadillo
  2. Midget Disillusion
  3. Make-Believe Girlfriends

If your choice doesn’t win first place, don’t lose heart. I promise I will tell all of these stories—perhaps even next week.

Let the chaos begin.

How are you doing today? Are you having a good hair day (so far)? Expressed as a percentage, how full would you say your car’s gas tank is at this very moment? What’s the best ice cream you’ve ever had?