Category Archives: Humor

Last Chance?

Sometimes a thing catches your eye and fills you with such a sense of absurdity that you laugh out loud.  Then your wife, sitting next to you on the couch, looks at you and seems about to ask what you’re cackling over but then lets out of muffled sigh instead as if to say “You know what?  Nah…”

But my wife would never do that to me.

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Nestled safely between box sets of Unsolved Mysteries and Lost is your LAST CHANCE!

As we sit next to each other on the couch in our family room I just noticed a DVD case on its side under the TV with about 50 other DVD cases.  Remember them?  There was a world before streaming.  This DVD says (in blazing, italicized letters no less) LAST CHANCE WORKOUT.

I’ve been doing so well with my fitness plan these past few months.  First I did Insanity Max:30 where I stripped a whole lotta’ fat off my frame and found out I have no muscle.  Now I’m doing BodyBeast where my aim is to bulk up and make some serious gains in mass.  Yes, I know I did it backwards.  I did it that way as a joke on my trainer.  Duh.  No, if I had been thinking clearly I would have done it the other way around.  Apparently you bulk first and then shred.  My trainer does both at the same time and he has telekenesis.  Guy’s amazing.  Sometimes he bulks in the morning and then shreds after lunch.
Just. Because. He. Can.
I got a lot out of the shredding part.  I got pretty lean – down to a set of abs that were almost perceptible to the naked eye.  In fact, it’s only because I know Im capable of doing that again pretty quickly that I don’t mind having almost completely lost them due to this bulk.  This is the part where anyone who’s actually seen me in the past month says “No way, man, you’re looking amazing!  Are you shred-bulking or bulk-shredding?  Whatever it is, sign me up!”  I’m eating a LOT of food these days.  I’m also lifting heavier and heavier weights.  My trainer ties  70 lb. dumbbells to his ankles when he does his 12 mi. run.  That reminds me that I’ve been meaning to ask him if I should do a little running while I’m trying to bulk.  He’d probably advise against it at least until I’ve been doing this long enough to know what’s what like, say, 18 years.

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This is the guy from BodyBeast.  He’s an Israeli named Sagi (pronounced Sah-GEE).  And that quote tells you he’s peddling some hard core bullshit even if he is unbelievably ripped.  My trainer friend looks kinda’ like him but not as douchey.

My point is that I’ve become very comfortable at this routine.  That’s comfortable, not complacent.  I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy seeing the results (not as quickly as I’d like but I’m the guy who stands in front of a microwave and yells HURRY UP!”).  And I’ll also admit that over the years I’ve been frustrated with fitness.  There have been times when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and would never figure it out.  Not all of us were blessed to have gym access growing up on the streets of Compton.  I don’t know who I’m talking about since I’m from Newark but you get the picture.  Would I rather have figured this all out 20 years ago and been a stud with a full head of hair?  Would I rather have had girls beating down my door?  Would I rather have had a shot at achieving this goal earlier and getting it out of my way so I could legitimately cash in on my success and become a whale in my 30’s knowing I had already been jacked?  What was my alternative?  Oh yes, being me.  OK, so it’s not that bad.  But I’m comfortable with where I am with my fitness goals and progress here and now.  The downer in me says I’ll probably never reach my true goals but I need to murder him.  Bad downer.  Bad.

So why write all this?

How much do you have to hate yourself to do a workout called Last Chance?  I’m trying to picture anyone looking for a program.  “Let’s see… There’s Insanity.  Nah, too much cardio.  There’s P90X.  Nope, too many jumps.  There’s Tae-Bo. Too urban.  I guess I have no other options.  Oh look!  There’s a crazed woman on this box and she says it’s my last chance!  I don’t know what it is but something in her eyes is forcing my to believe it.  I’ll buy this DVD now because, having exhausted no other options, I realize I have no options left.  Thank God I found this DVD before it was too late!  What would have become of me?”

Yeah, that just happened.

My wife and I also watched a movie last night about aliens.  It stars Amy Adams.  I think it’s called Arrival.  Not bad.  The two aliens were called Abbot and Costello, no joke.  Unfortunately they weren’t remotely funny.

Mr. Euclid

First, thank you to everyone who has continued to offer their prayers for my family following the death of my dad two months ago.  They mean so much more than you know and I pray for each of you daily.

I want to tell you all that Dad’s been quite active lately, at least in my mind.  Over the past month especially he’s been showing up in my dreams.  As I told me wife today, the dreams make absolutely no sense on one level and more sense than anything I can think of on another.

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Artist’s rendering of a shape

Last night I went to bed as normal.  At 4AM I awoke from the following dream.  My father and I were in a very ethereal setting.  I can actually still envision all of this.  It’s almost like we were on a cloud but it wasn’t that hokey.  We were looking at, really examining, an equilateral triangle that was simply floating in the air in front of us.  He was instructing me on the properties of the triangle.  His words made perfect sense to me and I never liked math.  Dad was an actuary with a savant’s knowledge of all things mathematical.  I distinctly remember him saying (in this dream) as he had many times when he tried teaching me geometry in high school “According to Mr. Euclid…” referencing the Greek father of geometry.  What are you getting at, Dad?  Triangles?  Really?  Is it the Trinity?  I already believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Remember?  You taught me the sign of the cross as a four year-old when you taught me my first prayers.  Were you trying to show me something else?  Are you popping into the dreams of other people too or is it just me?  This is so strange.

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Hairy but solid

Another thing that’s going on (and I really don’t think the dreams are related) is that my Restless Leg Syndrome has intensified.  It’s now gotten to where the muscles in both legs cramp up about halfway through the night.  I get out of bed and, like this morning, leg down to see that my toes are curled and I have to physically unbend them.  It’s painful.  But, I’m getting it looked into.  This morning I’m going for an EMG/nerve conduction test.  I’ve had several of these done before.  Read about one of my experiences with it here.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my leg.  It may be the cause of great pain right now but at least it still makes my trainer jealous as all get out.  “Your calves seem to eat everything in sight” he told me.  Trainer?  My offer still stands.  I’ll happily trade you my calves for everything above your waist.  Then again he could just be messing with me…

I Hesitate to Tell You that My Life is Bizarre

Being a writer is tough.  I know.  I asked one once.

Sometimes your mind spins in a million directions throughout the day as you take in one seemingly improbably event after another.  You think to yourself: “Damn, this is gonna’ make a great blog post when I sit down to write it!”

But hours later when you sit down to write it you hesitate.

You’re not sure if you can’t prioritize or perhaps you’re thinking back and realizing it only seemed funny to you.  Sure, that cat who was minding its business on the couch in the waiting room of your doctor’s office should not have been slapped by that child who should not have been there and is probably a satanist.  Wait a minute, that actually is funny.  You think back again.  Perhaps you hesitate because you can’t remember and you start to feel like Julianne Moore in Still Alice.  If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry.  Spoiler alert: she battles Alzheimers Disease throughout the flick.

Tonight I hesitate for one reason.  I don’t know that you’ll believe the things I’m about to share.  But hesitation is only good for a moment then it becomes angry and spiteful not unlike Christina Aguilera.  Oh well, here goes…

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I cut the cord!

Our microwave broke right before Thanksgiving.  It was three weeks outside of the warranty.  Lowe’s wouldn’t touch it.  An appliance reply lady said it would be cheaper to buy a new one.  We’ve been using a borrowed microwave from my wife’s aunt.  The woman actually has at least two of everything you could ever need in her house.  She lives alone and does not know how to use most of her things.  I contacted General Electric where I received some of the best customer care I’ve had in a long time.  A service rep informed me that they would essentially pay us for the full cost of that microwave.  All I had to do was peel a sticker off the inside.  Oh, and I had to provide proof of purchase.  Done and done.  Oh, and I had to cut the cord off the microwave and send a picture of it.  Rachel at GE did not explain this one to me very well, nor even exactly what kind of picture she wanted.  I experimented before settling on the picture you see here.  On closer review, perhaps I was not supposed to pose with the cord?  Why bring this up now?  Well, after emailing the pictures to GE I got another reply from them that they had not received the pictures.  Turns out the email was still in my drafts folder.  No, I did not take new pictures.  Yes, the check is on its way.  Go GE!  You bring good things to life.

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Limey, you’re a terrible friend.

I had friends over this past Saturday and decided to get creative with my bar.  Say hello to Mr. Limey.  He’s British, naturally.  I thought the evening went beautifully until my wife informed me after our guests had gone home that I was a little drunk.  Limey was supposed to see to it that I kept it classy.  Bastard.  He hate me because I’m also Irish.  The next day my wife changed her words a bit to say that I wasn’t “drunk just talkative”.  I’m not sure which is worse.  My apologies to my guests that night.  I thought we had a good time.

My workout is going very well (I think).  I’m on week 3 of BodyBeast.  This is the first phase and it’s called “Build”.  The next six weeks after this are called “Bulk”.  Then the final three weeks are called “Beast”.  I don’t like to brag – because there’s precious little I can honestly brag about – but somehow I was blessed with calves the size of Howitzers.  Think I can skip leg day and continue to work on my pathetic chest?  I think that’s a distinct plan.  Seriously, though, calves?  I only know one person who says “Man I wish I had calves like yours” and he’s a trainer.  I’m also never sure when he’s pulling my leg.  No one walks around saying “Gotta’ get huge calves!”

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Thanks, God.  Couldn’t have made this my biceps?

Finally, it is Ash Wednesday.  Or at least it was until an hour and five minutes ago.  At midnight on the dot, this Daddy went straight to the fridge.  As a Catholic, Ash Wednesday is one of our two fasting days.  I’ve gone days in my life where I’ve eaten less.  But when someone tells you that you can’t eat; that’s when you want food.  Also, I’ve been up around 3000 calories a day on this BodyBeast diet.  To drop down to almost nothing really was painful.  Thank God a day is just a day.

And thank you for reading this far.  I’m off to bed.  I’m sure there are many more bizarre events to happen for me tomorrow.  Don’t hesitate to share this post with others.

Slur

Thought I’d check in with a prompt from the good folks at the Daily Post.

Tonight it’s a single word:

Slur

So here goes…

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I call this one “Slur: Cause and Effect”.

Top that.

 

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Dental Sprite Skeptic

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This girl’s going to be the death of me.  I haven’t pondered what “drastic measures” means but I’ll get there.

What I’ve Learned about How to Eat Crow

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Can’t live without them anymore…

It is quite possible that my multitude of followers (all three of you, and a special thanks to my Mom for finally hitting the “like” button) may have actually read through a recent post detailing my experiences with a broken phone and my feelings of disgust toward the Apple corporation at their horrendous customer service.  You may reference that post here if you’re up for an adventure in righteous indignation toward a soulless conglomerate.

The long and the short of it is that my iPhone 6S+ went to mobile phone hell over a week ago.  First my dad dies and then I lose my cell phone.  God, why have you lead me into this desert to die!?

You don’t understand.  On two fronts, having a working phone is important to me.  The first and what should be most important is that it’s a modern “convenience” we’ve become reliant on as a people.  “You, know,” said my dear wife, “we lived without cell phones for a long time…” as if to imply that I didn’t really need to replace it just yet.  “True”, I thought.  “We also lived without indoor plumbing for centuries,” I said as I took a sledgehammer to our toilet.  Perhaps the circumstances caused me to be a tad out of sorts.  But having that phone has absolved us of the responsibility of lots of things.  For instance, we don’t remember seven digit phone numbers anymore, we don’t really worry should our car break down, and we don’t seem to know how to read a map.  Now, people of my age and up actually do know how to do these things but man that phone makes clearing space in our minds for other things so much easier.  What kind of things?  Well, just the other day I was able to recall the name of the judge in the Anna Nicole Smith wrongful death case.  I was pretty proud of myself too.

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I remember these!

Then there’s the professional front.  Look, I’m a popular (if not well-paid, respected by anyone over the age of 16, or likely to advance from my current job ever) teacher.  That little device in my pocket (no, the other one) allows me to tweet, check email for call-backs on administrative jobs I won’t get, and take selfies with the kids because they need me to.  Think of the hundreds of teenagers who’s lives are enriched each day by my iPhone.  Now think of the alternative.  Do you really want to live in that kind of world?  I didn’t think so.

So I took a trip to the Apple Store.  There I was greeted with a “genius” (I still laugh at that term) who’s only advice was that I should purchase a new phone.  My warranty was up three months earlier and I had not purchased Apple Care (the extended warranty).  In my mind: this was not my fault and your product should have lasted.  At the very least I expected some gesture – a small token even – that the company was willing to help out since this was a defect in their product.  But, nothing…

I came home; wrote a nasty, filthy blog; tweeted angrily; and went to bed resolved to live as long as I could without the chains of an iPhone tying my to the grid and the man.  I’ll show them.

OK, I lasted a week.  Again, I was proud of myself.  Larry Seidlin.  That was the judge in Dannielyn’s paternity case.  I almost said Sanders Saul but he was a Florida Justice who ruled in Bush v. Gore.  How silly of me.  Anyway, I was doing quite well.  I borrowed my wife’s phone when I went ride-share driving.  I figured no one was calling back on my outstanding resumes.  Basically, everything was fine.  And then my mom tracked me down on my wife’s line.  “Are you gonna’ get that thing replaced,” she asked, “because I really miss talking with you every day.”  We Facetime regularly, every day since my dad died.  This gave me a bit more reason to reverse my thinking.

But I still wanted satisfaction.  I filled out the Apple Store email survey, still raging with rage (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and fired it off to “Craig”, the manager.  Craig called me (wife’s line since I didn’t have a phone) and left a message.  We played phone tag for the week.  Finally on Friday afternoon I reached him.  I told him again how dismayed I was at his company’s lack of any kind of sympathy for my situation and he basically said “yeah, that’s nice.”

I hung up the phone and vowed never to buy another Apple product, tweeting to that effect and angrily too.

By the way, can you believe it’s been ten years?!  Poor siliconed thing died too young if you ask me.  I understand most of her body is still intact as it was non-organic matter.

And then, I don’t know what it was, but something clicked in my brain.  Although it had never been framed or presented this way and although I certainly should have known, I didn’t connect that the $329 cost of the replacement phone WAS only half the cost of a new phone of the same make.  In other words, it still sucks that I’d have to pay that much for something that wasn’t my fault but Apple WAS making a good-faith gesture to make it right.

Shit.

You know what that means, right?

It meant that I had all of Friday night to drink it over.  Ever hear of a Freudian slip?

By Saturday morning I had concluded that it was time to set things right with Mom, with my students, and with Craig.

But that still left the matter of the 3 bills I’d need to come up with to replace this baby.  See, I’m a teacher and the previous owner of my house chopped down his money tree before he moved.  Bastard.  I hear he had a stroke a few months later.  See, money can’t buy you happiness, or vascular health.  Actually, I had wanted to handle this all by my little self.  My wife does everything.  She’s good at it too.  But sometimes I feel like I want to try to handle crises without having to bother her.  She also manages our family finances.  She really good at that too.  But it means that no matter what, I kind of need to go through her for a purchase of this nature.  Being without a phone for a week left me depressed and in no mood to ride-share so I wasn’t making the money that way.

Shit.

You know what that means, right?

“Hey Babe, do you think I could have a few hundred dollars?…”

“I was just waiting for you to ask,” she said.

So off I slank to the Apple Store.  My plan was to disguise myself so Craig wouldn’t notice me.  When last I was there I had been wearing a tee shirt with guns all over it (it was from the range), sporting a perfectly bald head, looking pretty pumped up after a workout, and a nicely trimmed goattee forming my solid jaw.  You know I’m completely exaggerating this.

Hmm… How would they not recognize me this time?

I dressed like a “genius”.  Solid blue tee, jeans, I had let the beard grow hipster-scraggly during the week, and I pretended to live with my mother.

Like a burglar in a Fosse musical I slipped in the front door and, bracing my back and palms against the wall, I creeped around to the genius bar in the back of the store.  People were staring.  They don’t look when a customer brings a mastiff dog weighing 4,000 lbs into this joint but me they gape at.  “Picking up a replacement phone.  Harvey’s the name.”

And that was it.  Half an hour later I was on my way home and all was semi-right with the world.  I did try to locate Craig to apologize in person but he was busy with other customers.

On the long drive home I thought about how to make this right.  It’s no fun eating crow and admitting you were wrong.  In the end I decided a general message to Apple in a well-read internet presence would catch their attention.  Unfortunately all I have is this blog.  But here goes…

Dear Apple, I’m sorry.  I regret my hasty actions.  I will never stray again.  Please don’t hate me.  Love, Harvey.

And Judge Seidlin never did get his own courtroom show.  Shame.  He was a character.

Musings from 35,000 Feet

Yes, I’m on a plane.

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‘Bout to get my flyin’ on…

Where am I headed? Well, let’s start with a quick recap. I started writing this blog for my kids. Everything I write here is because of them. Ultimately I want them to be able to read this and see how perfect a life they made for me. So even when it seems I’m writing a funny post with no bearing on their lives it all still comes back to them. I can laugh because they exist and they make me smile.

I’m headed to the Fatherland. Regular readers of this space (both of you) know that I’m referring to New Jersey. Technically I’m headed to LaGuardia – a “nifty” little airfield at the far reaches of Queens, NY. When you have to book a ticket with 24 hours notice you can’t be choosy.  When it first opened as Glenn Curtis Field in 1929 (work with me here, I’m trying to teach, you twat), Queens was a sleepy borough of about 50 residents and a handful of chickens.  By 1960, former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s wish to be immortalized by a slower-than-molasses, aging, crumbling public works project would come to fruition with “LGA Phase 1”, alternately referred to as “the building of the Central Terminal Building”.  In fact, in the 1960’s this facility was seen as the airport of the future.  Unfortunately for the good people of Queens, the future held such things as the Jumbo Jet, airline deregulation, and not-asbestos.

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She (they) followed me onboard, honest.

I once had a friend – a makeup artist on a television show on which I worked – refer to Queens, his home borough, as, and please pardon the expression, “the most f*cked borough”.  “Where else could you have 69th St. intersect both 69th Pl. and 69th Rd. all at once?” he opined.

Where in the hell was I?  Ah yes…

I’m flying in to see my dad. He’s had a massive stroke. I think my mom said the doctor called it a “big” stroke. Apparently not calling it “massive” makes it sound less severe. But it’s serious enough that I got the ticket and here I am.  Dear readers, I’m handling this, as I always do, because the two people who gave me life taught me to do this, with humor.  Work with me.  And a few paragraphs back when I referred to you as a twat, I meant it as the British do.  Slipping back to my story…  Dad’s always been competitive and I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of teenage boy, bawdy joke hiding in the fact that he’d be pissed to not have it called a “massive stroke”.  For the record he had a massive stroke once before when I was 16 and he was 56.  Miraculously he recovered from that one almost immediately.  I don’t see that happening this time.

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If I understand, we’ll land and then the Sharks and Jets will go at it.

Kids, when you read this years from now I want you to know something. I love my father. Our relationship (his and mine) is not like yours and mine. We’ve bonded over bizarre things. I figured out how to make high-end cocktails for him. He gave me a copy of the book The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy for Christmas when I was in 7th grade. See? There you go. Children, he’s a good man and everything I know about how to be your father comes from him. I know I’m not perfect. I don’t think I can say that about him. And he taught me a sense of responsibility and of family and of just doing what needs to be done.

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Here’s my dad, my twin sister, and me during one of my first forays into an airport.  So it was HE who started this whole obsession!

And I read that book cover to cover several times so all of you who know me in real life and wonder how I know something about everything, well there’s a small glimpse at an answer.

That’s why I’m on a flight to LaGuardia on a Monday night. I have a row entirely to myself which is good because I don’t think I’d want seatmates seeing me like this. I really want a cigarette. Sorry. Steam of consciousness. I hate that style popularized by Stephen Crane. I can actually hear my dad telling me some fun fact about Crane and how he grew up in Newark like us and how Civil War vets would have sworn Crane was old enough to have fought in the war because his writing was so vivid.

Let’s divert a moment.

I’m watching a documentary on the plane about Anthony Weiner. Pig. Disgusting cretin. As Dad would say “the man will never get hemorrhoids. He’s a perfect asshole.” And yet… this film is so fascinating. It’s about New York more than Weiner. It’s about my home. It’s the nexus of the universe wherein I grew up. And I love New York so much. The people – though we’d probably disagree on 9 out of 10 things politically – are good people and I miss them sometimes. It’s nice to know that in an hour I’ll be flying in over the East River, over the greatest city on earth. I’ll see the Freedom Tower and Roosevelt Island and Queens. I just wish it wasn’t for this reason. I’m a little scared because I don’t know what condition he’s in.

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Watching Weiner.  If that was my face I’d probably want to showcase other parts of my anatomy too.  Couldn’t be any worse.

Man this Weiner is fascinating.

The flight attendant just gave me two drinks and only charged me for one. God bless him.  Unfortunately I think he wants something from me that ain’t never gonna’ happen.

There was a woman standing behind me at the gate back in Texas prattling on and on with someone on her phone.  Conversation went something like this.  “Then these two self-righteous jerks tried to tell me all passive-aggressive that the two of us shouldn’t have kids and then my husband was like ‘Well we can but they’ll never learn music.  I forbid it.’  And I was all ‘Who do you think you are?  I’m a musician and you suck.  I seriously wanted to cut her.'”  It was too perfect.  I had been hoping for something for paragraph 14 since I arrived at the terminal and here this lady was just spouting it forth for me.  I didn’t care if she could see me.  I put my coffee down, took out my phone, and started jotting down every word she said.  You’re welcome.

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The Big Apple at night, in January, from 9,000 feet, when your dad’s had a stroke.

This flight is bumpy. The captain came on before we took off and announced it was not going to be an easy flight.

My God this movie is incredible. It’s like a train wreck. I want to watch but I can’t. But I must.

My nephew is picking me up at the airport. He’s a rideshare driver too. He’s agreed not to charge me for the pick-up. I’m laughing at that prospect. He’d NEVER charge me.  Or I’d kick his ass.

What else could I tell you? I have some fun pictures to run through my flights entertainment options. They kind of describe my flight style these days.

But the reason I started writing this is to ask your prayers.

And now that I’ve done that I think I can get back to my Weiner.