8 Potential Titles for My Upcoming Memoir

Author photo by author.

Screwed Up and How I Got This Way: Living with the Legacy of a Dysfunctional Family

Looks Aren’t Everything: How I Achieved Mediocrity Without Them

Again, My Name Is Rich: Coping with Being Utterly Forgettable

The Courage to Change The Things I Can’t: Why I’ve Found Serenity So Illusory

Hey, Where’d Everybody Go?: A Cautionary Tale of Deteriorating Personal Hygiene

A Round Tuit: How I Will Confront Chronic Procrastination, Eventually

Sketchy Memories, Misplaced Grudges: Looking Back with 20-50 Hindsight

Here with Yeti: Five Years Spent Being Upstaged by a Stupid Cat

 

Obituary headlines that pull no punches

 

Oscar Siggets, 93, Ruthless Capitalist, Dies after Too-Short Illness
Brought sketchy, cost-saving innovations to meat processing industry


Mary Nells, 74, Cynical Golddigger
Widowed by three wealthy husbands older than her by a combined 139 years


Sammy Martin, 85, Actor Tied to Irritating ‘60s Sitcom Catchphrase
Lean final four decades for the “‘How They Hanging?’ kid”


Magdalene Arnell, 57, Debauched, Heartless Industrial Heiress
Liquidated family concern upon inheritance, laying off thousands; partied life away


Gerald Tervino, 77, Friendless Philanthropist
Calculated generosity kept heads of charities in thrall of odious douchebag


Catherine Bobbins, 79, CPA and Spending Scold
Few attend service for ever-irritable, harshly judgmental “Queen of Lean”

 

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Got more money than time? Download DoFor!

Are you tired of complaining that you have more money than you need, but not enough time to wipe your own ass? Well, now you don’t have to complain! Or wipe your own ass, for that matter!

Meet DoFor! DoFor! is the revolutionary app for our times.

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Choosing up sides in the HP breakup

“All right,” the CEO began, “Stevens, Porter, we’ve asked you here because we, the board, here, and I, have decided to split the company into two teams. We feel that this will help each team be better able to compete in today’s marketplace. We’ve chosen you two to run the teams. Today, we’re going to ask you to put together these teams from the 20 or so separate HP business units, just as if you are choosing up sides for a sandlot football game. Do you understand?”

Stevens and Porter nodded yes, they understood. The CEO flipped a coin, Porter called heads; the coin came up tails.

“Stevens, you pick first.”

“I’ll take ink and toner.”

From a big whiteboard covered in such signs, the CEO took a magnetic sign with the ink and toner division logo on it and passed it to Stevens. “Very well. Now, Porter, your turn to choose.”

“I’ll take business laptops.”

The Chairman handed Porter his sign. “OK, Stevens?”

“What?”

“It’s your turn to pick again.”

“I pass.”

The CEO and Porter looked confused. “What do you mean, you pass?” the CEO asked.

“I’m good here. Ink and toner. That’s my team.”

“Damn, I wish I would’ve won that coin flip,” Porter muttered under his breath.

“But see here,” the CEO sputtered, “there are 18 other division-sized business units that remain unchosen.”

“Yeah, he can have all the rest of ‘em,” Stevens said, inspecting his cuticles.

“But you can’t possibly compete with just the ink and toner division.”

“Why not?”

“Because… because…” The CEO knew there was a reason. “Well, look, you’ve at least gotta take one of the printer divisions.”

“I don’t want ‘em. Too much overhead. Too many model changes.”

“But they make the printers your ink and toner go in.”

“Good for them. They can make the razors, I’ll sell the blades. I’m good with that.”

“But don’t you think you’ll be at a disadvantage? I mean, look at Porter. He’ll have 19 divisions versus your one.”

“Great!”

“But we can’t let you get into the game so terribly undermanned. Tell you what, why don’t you take enterprise servers?”

“Uh, no way.”

“Why not?”

“Three words: big, dumb and slow.”

“OK, well, what about the handset division?”

“Do we still have a handset division?”

“Fair question. Then what about business desktops?”

“No way. I’m in this to win, not nurse along a bunch of moribund mopes.”

The CEO was at a loss. He briefly conferred with the board. When he turned back, he saw that Stevens and Porter were shaking hands.

“What’s this then? You’ve decided to stick with the teams as they are?”

“Actually,” Porter said, “I quit.”

“You quit,” the CEO repeated, stunned. “But who will run this team with 19 of our biggest divisions?”

“I don’t know. But I just agreed in principle to be an assistant coach for HP Ink and Toner.”

“What?” the CEO sputtered. “But why?”

Porter shrugged. “Hey, go with a winner.”

“Now if you’ll excuse us,” Stevens said, “we have some money to make.”

The CEO turned and looked at the white board displaying the remaining 19 business units. None of them were ink and toner. Then he noticed the board members glowering at him.

“Ah, shit,” he said.

 

My call to room service at the New York Times International Luxury Conference

 

The New York Times International Luxury Conference will be held for the first time in the United States December 1-3. Join Deborah Needleman, Editor in Chief, T Magazine, and Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director, The New York Times, to explore how the fields of art, fashion and technology can be utilized and maximized to enhance the unique value of luxury companies and products.

Hello, this is Mr. Malley in room 1304. Well, not so good actually. That’s why I’m calling. What? No, I will not hol–

(luxury hold music)

Yes, I’m still here, just barely. Why, I’ve never been so—Sorry, what did you say? That was Miss Furstenberg? She had a poodle emergency? Well, then I suppose it’s all right.

Yes, the reason I’m calling, let’s do get to that. Yes, well, I had a frightful night, and with today being the first day of the conferénce—Hmm, excuse me? The conferénce! The conferénce! Well, sorry, I use the French pronunciation. You should get used to that. Conferénce. It is the more luxurious pronunciation, after all.

So, as I was saying, I had a frightful night, and with today being the first day of the… of the festivities, I’m afraid I’ll just look like hell in front of Ms. Needlemen, Ms. Friendman, Ms. Furstenburg, and all the rest of the luxury-istas.

Well, certainly I will tell you why I had a frightful night. Are we on a time limit here? Because I thought one of the perquisites of luxury is that I get to take as long as I damn well please to dress down those in service to me. What’s that? Apology accepted.

Now, as I was saying, it came time for me to retire last night and what should I find on my pillow? No, don’t try to answer. It’s a rhetorical question. What I should happen to find on my pillow is a Perugina chocolate truffle.

What’s that? Why, no, as a matter of fact, there wasn’t a problem with the Perugina chocolate truffle. No, you see the Perugina chocolate truffle was the problem.

Because unless I’m hallucinating—and that’s a distinct possibility after the nine hours of poor quality sleep I got—this is a luxury conferénce. And, I’m sorry, but this is 2014, and in this day and age, Perugina can’t be seen as anything but entry-level luxury. I expected and feel like I am paying mid-grade luxury prices and should receive that level of consideration at the very least.

Well, since you asked, I should think a local artisanal brand comprised of a minimum of 70% pure Eritrean cacao would be the minimum barrier to entry when it comes to the chocolate left on my pillow.

Very well. Now, about the pillow the chocolate truffle was resting upon. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but I distinctly remember reading on the hotel website that I would be sleeping on 1200 thread count bed linens. Was I wrong about that? No, I didn’t think so.

Well, let me tell you my good man… What? Sorry, my good woman, let me tell you that try as I might I could not count higher than 950 threads. That’s 250 threads shy! What? Yes, I did count it more than once. Several times as a matter of fact.

What? No, no, no, do not put me on hold agai—

(luxury hold music, line disconnects)

More Facebook posts from #OST (oversharing Tuesday)

Yesterday I thought my cyst had stopped throbbing for a while, but it was just that a train was going by, so I didn’t notice it so much. But it’s definitely throbbing now.

My mom used to make me help her take care of my little sister and I resented it, so when I had to serve my little sister a snack, I coughed on her cookies.

Sometimes I when it seems like I’m deep in thought I’m really just stifling a vomit.

To save money, a lot of times I just wave the deodorant near my underarms but don’t actually apply it.

I thought Eleanor Rigby was a comedy song about a party girl who caught the clap from her priest.

I knew my uncle was a Nazi war criminal, but I never said anything because he always sent me $50 for my birthday and Christmas.

I haven’t cleaned my bathtub since Obama has been president.

I’m not entirely sure who my second child’s father is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not my husband, although it may be one of his brothers.

I flout recycling guidelines.

How to Activate the New Facebook Ad Profile Controls

 

 

Facebook has made it easier for you to determine which ads you see and which ads you don’t. In addition, Facebook will now show you the data it knows about you that determines why a particular ad was displayed on your Facebook page.

Accessing these new controls is easy. Here’s all you have to do:

1. Remove all clothing. Discard.

2. Remove all gold jewelry, package it and mail to:

Facebook Privacy Initiative
Gold Jewelry Stockpile
PO Box 19332300223345
Omaha, NE 68101

3. Slather your body with electro-luminescent paint. Perform the rest of this procedure only under ultraviolet light.

4. Simultaneously press the control, alt, delete, function, option, shift, tab, F3, F5, F7 and F11 keys.

5. Oh, wait. We forgot to mention that you should have the Facebook preferences pane open in your browser. The only browser you can use for this process is Opera, which you probably don’t have, so…

6. Go download Opera, install it and open it. Then pull up your Facebook preferences pane. We’ll wait.

7. OK, now repeat steps 1-4.

8. Continue pressing the the control, alt, delete, function, option, shift, tab, F3, F5, F7 and F11 keys as you page through the Facebook preferences pane until you reach the panel titled “Confirmation.”

9. Click “No, I do not wish to confirm.”

10. Repeat steps 1-8.

11. Click “Yes, I most certainly do wish to confirm.”

12. Close your browser.

13. Shut down your computer.

14. Wash off the electroluminescent paint. Do not towel yourself off. Instead…

15. Huddle in the fetal position on the floor of your bathroom while naked and sopping wet for a minimum of 12 minutes.

16. Send a hand written, notarized request by registered mail indicating that you DO want to opt in to the new privacy controls to:

Facebook Privacy Initiative
Written Request Stockpile
PO Box 1304402203304403
Omaha, NE 68122

17. Wait approximately 18 weeks for acknowledgement of your request. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of your request within 18 weeks, repeat steps 1-16.

18. If you receive acknowledgement of your original request after you sent in a duplicate request, send a letter of apology to:

Facebook Privacy Initiative
Duplicate Request Apology Processing
PO Box 1204402203404402159
Omaha, NE 68133

19. Once you have received acknowledgement of your request and have no other requests in process, you can expect to receive confirmation that your request has been approved within approximately 18 weeks after receiving request acknowledgement. This confirmation will include instructions for how to actually use the new privacy controls. Save a copy of these instructions, as they are a bit more complicated than this process, but it’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle.

20. Oh, and one more thing: only use the Feldspar brand of electro-luminescent paint. If you used any other brand, please repeat steps 1-19.

AND IT’S JUST THAT EASY!

Happy Facebooking!

 

 

What I said, and what I wish I'd said

 

What I said

…and what I wish I’d said

“Uhn! No fair!”

“What you posit smacks of inequity, you disingenuous churl.”

“Oh, yeah?! Well, but what about, um… ah… you know, that… that one time?”

“You act as if your position has always been consistent. In point of fact, it has not been, which I will illustrate now by recounting in detail an incident from our common experience. (Detailed narrative of incident goes here.)”

“Oh, you… you… big… poopy-head!”

“I find your manner, behavior, language and very being comparable to an excrescence of night soil from the sick ward.”

“That’s not what I meant! What I meant was… not that!”

“Sir, I know very well my meaning on that occasion. And you know very well my meaning on that occasion. And, at present, one of us is misrepresenting what my meaning was, and I aver that it is not me who is so doing.”

“OK. I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

“Had I my wits about me, my rhetoric would render me victorious in our verbal set-to, leaving you as helpless as a filet of poached salmon at a ladies tea. But as I’ve let my emotions get the better of me, leaving my powers of argument temporarily compromised, I’ve decided to declare victory while ceding the field.”

“I hope you’ll forgive me.”

“Asshole.”

 

5 Simplifications in the 2013 Tax Code

Old, complicated code, left; new, less complicated code, right

We have made changes to the tax code that should make submitting your tax return even easier. Here are just a few of the highlights:

 

  1. The filing requirement for Form 309Q, Businesses That May Conduct Certain Transactions with Formerly Bankrupt Entities Now Under the Supervision of the Federal Bankruptcy Master, has been reduced from 352 pages to 323 pages. NOTE: most businesses may now need to supplement this filing with Form 309Qi, Why I Left Out 29 Pages from My 309Q Filing.
  2. For couples filing individual returns, there may no longer be a need to file Form IRS19INDIV, Reassurance of Marital Solidity for Married Couples Filing Individually (Commonly known as the “We’re good, we’re tight, don’t worry” form). Couples considering filing separately should use new Worksheet IRS19INDIVWKSHT to determine whether filing IRS19INDIV is necessary. Instructions for the new worksheet may be obtained only in quantities of 500 or more.
  3. Certain individuals earning less than the estimated minimum their mothers would have expected them to be earning by their age may no longer need to file Form 716PRNTS, Why I Am Not a Tax Deadbeat, But Merely an Underachieving Failure. Instead, they can file Form 716PRNTS-EZ. Please do not use fingerpaints to fill in this form.
  4. A certain subset of degenerate gamblers can waive filing Form 7CUM11, Complete Listing of My Bad Beats for Tax Year 2013, IF AND ONLY IF they attach a brand new $500 bill to their Form 1040. Do not use staples. And do not tell anyone else about this. Seriously.
  5. Individuals earning less than $75,000 per year can now check a box on their return to indicate their guess as to how much greater a percentage of their gross income they are paying in taxes than the super-wealthy. Those guessing correctly can expect to receive Informational Mailing IM-TAXEMPLOY, How To Supplement Your Income With Seasonal Work Opening Envelopes at the IRS Service Center Nearest You

 

 

noTED Talks: My Pending Proposals

 

The Spleen: Our Overlooked Center of Empathy

Saving the Planet, One Beer Can Pull-tab at a Time

Data Collection Data Metadata: Existential Threat, or Hope for a One World Utopia?

Profound Truths: Hidden Meanings in the Ad Lib Mumblings of Michael Cera

From Blacked Out to Clued In: Life Changing Insights from My Near-Fatal Alcoholic Binge

Happy Human Puppies: How Maternal Licking Can End Juvenile Crime

Workshop: How to Upcycle an ICBM Missile into Toothbrushes for the Undeveloped World

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from My Wise and Kind Robot

What If We Created a Global Ponzi Scheme of Love and Niceness?

Urine Luck: You Are What You Micturate

The New Credulity: If It’s Too Good to Be True, It’s Probably Worth Sharing

 

What's New in Version 3.2.7.1.6.2.8

 

  • Compatibility with latest OS updates.
  • Compatibility with your Aunt Margaret’s husband Phil, whom no one else can stand.
  • Fixed a bug that caused certain users to have the app drain their checking accounts via Electronic Funds Transfer.
  • Created another bug that will cause different users to have the app drain their checking accounts via EFT, because the other users got wise and were being all pissy about it.
  • Started wearing a new cologne, not that you’d notice or anything.
  • Added new levels, chapters and tasks featuring Sparky the Wonder Pig.
  • Reassured Sparky the Wonder Pig that chapter 13’s new “Find a Pig and Roast It” task had nothing to do with him.
  • Let one of our junior programmers add a bunch of superfluous text to the code, because it was his birthday and we were all drunk.
  • Made the junior programmer remove the superfluous text from the code and ordered him to go buy us aspirin and breakfast tacos.
  • Buried an Easter egg in Level 18, Chapter 6, Task 3, “Go find Janet’s reading glasses.”
  • Oh, shit. Never mind.
  • Did some stuff that made it look like we were working when we were really playing Plants Vs. Zombies.
  • Upped the dosage of virtual antidepressants for Sparky the Wonder Pig. 

 

No, The New York Times Crosswords, no cottage weekend for us.

 

Dear The New York Times Crosswords:

Why, er, no, we aren’t headed to the cottage this weekend. No, indeed.

And if this weekend you should happen to wend your way down Wealthersham Lane past the club and find yourself in front of our cottage (assuming you make it past the guards), and it appears that we are in residence—perhaps because the Bentley’s in the drive, say—well, we most decidedly will not be in residence.

So there would be absolutely no point approaching the security hut and asking Lt. Woresham to phone our butler Davis requesting admittance.

Because you see, Davis is well aware of our regular comings and goings. He knows when we’re at the cottage, of course, but more than that, he knows when we are at our beach shack/villa in the Turks and Caicos, he knows when we are at our modest palazzo in Tuscany, and he knows when we are on an extended sail on the Plus Ultra III.

So Davis could assure you that even though the couple drinking gin and tonics with close friends while enjoying a spirited game of croquet on the Great Lawn might LOOK like us, it isn’t us. Because we are NOT headed to the cottage this weekend.

So, as you can plainly see, there is most certainly no justification to make any effort whatsoever to drop by. And I have expressed this view to Lt. Woresham, who assures me that he will be vigilant in watching for your non-arrival.

Yours in the cause of crystal clear understanding,

Richard D. Malley

 

The Loneliest Brand Attribute: A Marketing Fable

Once upon a time, there was a brand attribute named Simple, Effective Cleaning. Simple, Effective Cleaning was the sole attribute for a toothpaste brand. In fact, Simple, Effective Cleaning’s brand was the best-selling toothpaste in the world (although there were some significant growth opportunities on the Indian subcontinent).

But life was lonely for Simple, Effective Cleaning. One day, Gary the Global Brand Manager saw Simple, Effective Cleaning moping around. Simple, Effective Cleaning looked very sad. “What’s wrong, Simple, Effective Cleaning?” Gary asked. “You look glum.”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Simple, Effective Cleaning answered. “Just a little lonely, that’s all.” Then Simple, Effective Cleaning let out a long sigh and stared at the floor.

Gary the Global Brand Manager was concerned. Simple, Effective Cleaning wasn’t just the best brand attribute his best-selling toothpaste had—it was its only brand attribute. If Simple, Effective Cleaning was unhappy, there was no telling how it could harm the brand’s efforts to increase sales worldwide by at least 3.7% in Q3. Then Gary the Global Brand Manager had an idea.

“I have an idea,” Gary the Global Brand Manager said to Sharon the Global Personal Products Group Vice President. “I want to market a new brand attribute for my best-selling toothpaste brand.”

“Well, you know ideas are strongly discouraged in an environment where we are trying to leverage our existing core brand values to maximize marketing return,” Sharon the Global Personal Products Group Vice President said. “But your best-selling toothpaste is an important player in our portfolio. So I am willing to listen. What is the new brand attribute?”

“The new attribute I would like to market is ‘Brightens and Whitens’” Gary the Global Brand Manager said.

Six months later, after the market research was completed, the legal approvals were obtained, and the packaging redesign was finalized, Brightens and Whitens joined Simple, Effective Cleaning as a brand attribute for the best-selling toothpaste in the world. And even though Brightens and Whitens seemed to have little to no impact on market penetration on the Indian subcontinent, Gary the Global Brand Manager was pleased, because Simple, Effective Cleaning was no longer lonely.

But a few months later, Gary the Global Brand Manager noticed that Simple, Effective Cleaning was in a foul mood. “Now what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Brightens and Whitens is causing problems. I love having Brightens and Whitens around, because now I’m not so lonely. But Brightens and Whitens is jealous. ‘You’ve got me to keep you company,’ it says. ‘Who’s going to keep me company?’ So I was wondering if we could maybe add another brand attribute to keep Brightens and Whitens from being so upset.”

Gary the Global Brand Manager was annoyed, though he tried not to show it. Getting Brightens and Whitens added as a brand attribute took a herculean effort, and now Simple, Effective Cleaning was saying it wasn’t enough. Still, Simple, Effective Cleaning was so important to him, and Brightens and Whitens was so important to Simple, Effective Cleaning. So Gary the Global Brand Manager felt he should do what he could to keep both of them happy. And eight months later, Multi-Ingredient Cavity Fighting made its debut.

Two years passed. By now, the world’s best-selling toothpaste brand had seven more brand attributes in addition to Simple, Effective Cleaning and Brightens and Whitens. It was performing adequately and meeting sales growth goals, and was even making some headway on the Indian subcontinent. But once again, Gary the Global Brand Manager noticed that Simple, Effective Cleaning was down in the dumps.

“Who am I?” Simple, Effective Cleaning said to Gary the Global Brand Manager. “I don’t even know myself anymore. Ever since Proven to Maintain the Health of Tooth Enamel, With Dentist-Approved Ingredients, and May Enhance Overall Dental Health came on board, I feel like I don’t matter anymore.”

“I understand where you’re coming from,” Gary the Global Brand Manager said. “And you’re right. Our research shows that our core message is getting lost, and sales projections show growth starting to slow in Q2 of next year. This calls for a radical rethink. Maybe we need to strip away all the noise and refocus on our core brand values.”

“I like the sound of that,” Simple, Effective Cleaning said.

Ten months later came the brand relaunch. The new simplified packaging featured one prominent callout, and that was, of course, Simple, Effective Cleaning.

The strategy worked. The slowdown in sales growth was averted, and market penetration on the Indian subcontinent showed a small but not insignificant uptick.

But one evening as he was leaving the office, Gary the Global Brand Manager heard something. Eventually, he found Simple, Effective Cleaning crying softly in a dark corner of the office.

“What’s wrong?” Gary the Global Brand Manager asked once again.

“I’m lonely,” Simple, Effective Cleaning said.

“OK, we’ll talk about that in the morning,” Gary the Global Brand Manager said.

Then Gary the Global Brand Manager went home. Like most nights, he drank himself into a stupor. But this night, Gary the Global Brand Manager was so zonked out, he actually forgot to brush his teeth.

The End

 

Latest from the neighborhood listserv

HELLOOO NEIGBORS1!!!11!! I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT MY HUSBANDS MARTYS’ NEW ERECTION IS PERMITED IN THE BACK YARD. IN CASE OF YOU NOSEY PARKERS.—BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE

PS: AND THATS’ THE CITY TALKIN, NOT ME!!!11!!!!!

Hi, I’m new to the neighborhood. We live near the playground and were just wondering if it’s normal for kids to play there, or should we call the authorities.—Candy on Marchand St.

Howdy neighbors. The monthly list of street closures affecting our neighborhood has just been released for next month:

Apr 1-3: Have a Heart Health Festival and 10K “Fun Run”—all streets coming into and out of the neighborhood closed from set-up to tear down.

Apr 8-11: Are You Kidneying Me Donation Fair and Half Marathon—all streets coming into and out of the neighborhood closed from set-up to tear down.

Apr 18-21: You Got a Lotta Spleenin’ to Do Spleen Health Awareness Carnival and 10K “Fun Run”—all streets coming into and out of the neighborhood closed from set-up to tear down.

Apr 28-30: Acne No Questions Teen Dermatology Awareness Fair and Concert—all streets coming into and out of the neighborhood closed from set-up to tear down.

Thank goodness April will be a slow month!—Steve on Knurlwood Ct.

Dear neighbors: I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I was walking my dog in the neighborhood yesterday and around the Medwick St. area I noticed a man seemed to be following us. He was older, didn’t really appear to be threatening, but he did have a scowl on his face. Anyone know this guy?—Maggie on Adwell St.

HI NEIHBORS!!! MR. SWENSON THE MAN MARTY HIRED FOR THE ERECTION ASKED ME IF ANYONE IN THE “‘HOOD” HAS A BACKHOE. HE CAN BORROW?—BERTHA ON HOLMES AVE.

To the lady walking her dog yesterday afternoon: don’t think I didn’t see you throw that plastic baggie of dog poo in my trashcan. Just because we set our trashcans out on the curb the day before garbage pickup doesn’t mean anyone can just come by and throw their trash in them, especially something so disgusting as dog poo in a plastic bag. You think you’re so smart and sneaky, but guess what? I took the baggie of dog poo out of MY trash can and followed you and your dog all the way to your house and threw the baggie of dog poo in YOUR trash can. Ha! Guess the joke’s on you, huh?—Dermon on Medwick St.

The annual Christmas letter

Dear friends,

Wellsir, it’s time to take Pentel in hand once again and record the year’s blessings our family has received. However, we will not talk about Robert.

This year has been a wonderful one in many ways. Probably the big news that many of you already heard about was the time this summer that Darrell’s back eczema formed a scab in the spittin’ image of Jesus, which then started weeping real blood! Darrell’s back (though not Darrell—you know how shy he is!) was on Channel 7, Channel 22, Channel 18 AND Channel 79. (That’s the Latin station and they were SO polite about not coming in the house.) Suffice it to say we can hardly wait for dry, flaky season next year!

Celera sends letters regularly from college, although we were sad to learn she will not be returning from campus to join us for the holidays this year. That’s because of something called a quarantine they are having there. I don’t know, those college kids and their events.

I know some of you want to know about Robert, but the less said about Robert the better.

Matthew continues to be a delight, if something of a handful. Before his diagnosis, we had no clue about this pituitary business, but the boy can really go through the groceries! We are almost finished converting the garage into his containment facility. Oh, these contractors!

Sally is still dead-set on the ballet. Poor thing works so hard. The odds of making it are so high, even for a girl with two legs the same length, but she will not be deterred! I’m proud to say her last recital was longer on poise than it was on her toppling over onto the other cast members.

As for our youngest, Timmy, he is such a cut-up! He still tells anyone who will listen that he is not part of our family and will move away the second he turns 18, and all with a straight face! Such a performer for an 8-year-old! You’d think he’d let on that he’s kidding at least once, but oh, no, not our Timmy!

Well, I’d best end for now. Wishing you and yours the best for the holidays and the new year. If you do see Robert, please do not give him money or tell him where we moved to.

Martha

Black Friday tragedies missed by the national media

Saggitus, MI—A local child was hospitalized for extreme disappointment after learning that his mother failed to secure a RobotX Cage Battle Destroyer set at a discount store’s Black Friday sale.

The boy, 9, was listed in fair condition in Runcie County Medical Center with what doctors characterized as “severe exhaustion brought on by extended hyperventilation,” following a two-hour screaming fit. His mother was being treated for depression thought to be caused by the profound guilt of failing to provide her only child with the toy he most wanted this Christmas.

The mother, who is recovering from a hip transplant, arrived at the store several hours before its Black Friday midnight opening, missing the family Thanksgiving dinner in the process. But the store’s meager allotment of RobotX Cage Battle Destroyer sets was gone before she could hobble to the toy department.

“We will have no statement at this time,” said a family spokesperson. “We’d ask that you respect our family’s privacy during this difficult moment. But anyone with a spare RobotX Cage Battle Destroyer set is asked to contact us through the Wanted to Buy section of Craigslist.”

Fishbelly, MT—Ted Malone thinks he may have sold Whiskers, the affectionate cat that has greeted customers of his gift shop for nearly five years, and he’s asking for help securing her return.

“I haven’t seen her since we closed after 24 hours of business on Black Friday,” the downcast shopkeeper sad. “People were in a buying mood, and of course we were in a selling mood. The details are kinda hazy, but I think I threw Whiskers in as a deal-sweetener for some lady who was hedging on a $400 sale. I wish I knew for sure. Damn cat needs its insulin.”

Malone asked that anyone with details of Whiskers’ whereabouts call him at Things ‘n’ Such, his store in the Fishbelly Market Mall.

Bloodwater, GA—Authorities have charged a local store clerk with several counts of assault after she allegedly tried to blind customers with a laser price scanner.

Melinda Davis, 23, was taken into custody late Friday and released on bond early Saturday. Authorities say she may face as many as seven felony counts.

According to police, at the end of an 18-hour shift working a checkout stand at Hardin’s Family Clothing, Davis became angry at the many customers who argued over discrepancies between marked prices and those she rang up on her cash register. It was then, according to witnesses, that she started thrusting the laser barcode scanner in her customers’ eyes.

“After she did one lady, I heard her yell, “What’s the price now, bitch? How about blind ninety-nine?!”’ one of Davis’s co-workers said. “All this while the lady was rolling on the carpet screaming, ‘My eyes! My eyes!’”

A spokesman for the store said there would be no comment until the company’s lawyers had a chance to review the facts of the case. 

Mitt Romney, joke ruiner

Then she said, “That big.” I said, “Ma’am, in that case, I urge you to turn your money over to my partners and I, who are far more qualified to manage it for steady growth. Don’t worry, you’ll get a small stipend.”•A priest, a rabbi and Mitt Romney are walking down the street. The priest says, “Say, I wonder which one of us will die first.” The rabbi says, “Oy! Such a question! But, OK, I’ll bite. I’m guessing you will die first, Father.” Then Mitt Romney says, “You know, I think a company I briefly owned got the paving contract for this street. Man, we broke that company up and made a killing selling off the subsidiaries. That’s how I was able to buy my home in Belize. Oh, sorry. What were you fellows talking about?”

•A drunk walks into a bar. Bartender Mitt Romney says, “Sir, after my bouncer kicks the living shit out of you, remember you can get absolutely free, top-notch medical care at any hospital emergency room. Just don’t bleed on my floor. Oh, Bruiser…”

•Traveling salesman Mitt Romney stops in at a local farm. The farmer says, “OK, traveling salesman Mitt Romney, I’ll let you sleep in my barn, but you keep away from my beautiful 17-year-old daughter. She’s a virgin, and she better still be one in the morning.” Traveling salesman Mitt Romney says, “Thank you for the kind offer, but I’m staying at the Four Seasons in town. But, sir, have you ever considered selling this property? You see, my partners and I control a little conglomerate. Nothing much to speak of, just a few billion under management. And we’d like to buy your property and develop it into a planned community. Our generous offer will be just enough to completely pay off your mortage, so you’ll be able to start all over from scratch. And I think we could see our way clear to hiring you on as a caretaker, or a maintenance man or something like that. Now how’s that sound, pops, huh?”

•A lawyer, a doctor and Mitt Romney are on a plane. The engine dies and it’s clear the plane is going to crash. The lawyer says, “Look, guys, there are three of us, but there’s only two parachutes. What—” but before he can finish, Mitt Romney grabs one of the parachutes, puts it on and leaps out of the plane. “Whew, that was close,” Mitt Romney thinks as he floats safely to earth. “That other parachute was made by a company I leveraged into bankruptcy back in ‘04. No way would I take a chance on that cheap piece of crap.”

•Little Susie and Little Mitt Romney are playing doctor. Little Susie says, “Oh, Doctor Little Mitt Romney, I have a strange feeling between my legs. You better take a look!” Then Little Mitt Romney says, “Sure, not a problem. I will, however, need you to put up a $5,000 cash deposit before any course of treatment commences. Since you came to my office already complaining of this malady, that’s a pre-existing condition, which, as you know, is not covered by insurance. So, I think by having a little ‘skin in the game,’ so to speak, you’ll be more motivated to participate in the limited treatment options available, such as prayer. Now, Susie, if you’ll first just sign this waiver…”

Robert Caro's "The Path to Pancakes: Rich Malley's Quest for Breakfast"

By 8:30 am on the morning of September 27, Rich Malley was a man fully in command of his domain (his wife having left for work some 15 minutes earlier); but he was not a man who was satisfied—far from it. Inside of him was a yearning, a yawning want so great that Ted Nathanson, his next-door-neighbor and sometime advance man, would later remark, “I never knew a stomach could growl so loud.”

But this was not just any yearning, not just any yawning want. This was a dearth only pancakes could fill. And not just any pancakes, no, not for the Patrón of Parrot Manor. As Carol Erwin, a waitress who once served him faithfully for over 45 minutes, was to observe, “He liked buckwheat pancakes.”

But this morning, there would be no trip to a restaurant; no downtown diner would see his misshapen shadow darken its threshold. This morning, if buckwheat pancakes were to be had, they would be have to be buckwheat pancakes of his own making. And true to his destiny, he set about making them as only he could make them, with a skillet and a determination so thorough, neither he nor pancakes would ever be the same. But that is a story for a future volume.

First there were the phone calls. As Nathanson was to remember, “He had me on the phone with every flour mill in a seven county area, finding out who ground the finest buckwheat flour.” And even then he was not satisfied. For after the provisioning of the buckwheat came the pursuit of the highest grade baking powder money could buy. That took another round of phone calls, another intense expenditure of legwork. But to him, it would be worth it.

Because he was hungry. But not just hungry—it would not be overstating it to say he was famished to his core, nursing a hunger so intense that “I never knew a stomach could growl so loud,” Nathanson would one day exclaim to this writer.

And then there were arrangements to be made for the syrup…