I was born. I suffered.
I suffered some more, and hopefully,
I won't die a painful death.
This is my life.

Ein glückliches neues Jahr!

As the horrific memories of the past year have been stored in the brain and hopefully are being killed by alcohol as I write this, I bid you a happy new year. Any growing glimmer of hope for a better upcoming year will surely be doused by self-loathing and mind-numbing paper pushing. I have no new year's resolutions because I don't believe in organized thought.

Please post your mediocre new year's resolutions as a comment to this post, so that I may live vicariously through your hellish normality.

The Old Woman and the Christmas cookies

Eat me
As it is Christmastime, I thought that I should tell the story of The Old Woman's Christmas cookies. The Old Woman was once a great baker, believe it or not. In the fall and summertime, she made her famous cinnamon rolls and apple pie. But, The Old Woman's greatest baking achievement was her Christmas cookies.

Now, the cookies that she made weren't the mediocre flat sugar cookies with a Hershey's kiss squished in the middle that you poor slugs are used to. The Old Woman's cookies were all hand made from scratch. She made a few different types every year.

The following list outlines The Old Woman's cookie repertoire:

Anisette cookies. (As pictured above). These Italian cookies are a vanilla and anisette flavored delicacy. Anisette gets its flavor from anise, a liquor, that tastes like licorice. On paper, they actually sound gross right? Well they are awesome! So, shut it!

Chocolate whiskey cookies. These were not my favorite and could be a tad dry. The Old Woman would put vanilla or chocolate frosting on these cookies. Even though they had whiskey in them, it wasn't overpowering and you couldn't light them on fire.

Fig-bars. Ok, these cookies required some help from The Old Man and a meat grinder.  Yes, we actually had a meat grinder. Surprisingly enough, the meat grinder was stored in the kitchen cabinet in its original box! This is strange because most appliances, silverware, dishes, pots and pans etc. at The Estate had a nasty habit of disappearing. The fig bar concoction was made with figs, walnuts, and raisins. The Old Woman would  mash the ingredients together and The Old Man ground them to a pulp with the hand-cranked meat grinder. Then, The Old Woman wrapped the anisette cookie dough around the figgy filling.

Speaking of The Old Man, on the outside, he hated Christmas. The Old Woman would spend millions of dollars each Christmas on presents and he couldn't stand it. But inevitably, his mood would change on Christmas Eve. He would go out and buy the neighbors Hickory Farms gift boxes or the infamous Friendly's Ice Cream Christmas log and make his rounds delivering them.

Anyway, after The Old Woman took her cookies out of the oven, she would spread out on Reynolds foil on every counter top and table we had.  Then the fun part came. When the cookies cooled, she let us frost them with her bitchin' icing. Every Christmas she would make a ton of cookies and freeze them. Most were saved, to be eaten on Xmas day for my sister's beloved annual bash.

I haven't had my mother's cookies for many years now. As I make my way back home this year for Christmas, I can only hope that someone, (Lori), in the family will carry on this faded tradition and mix up a batch. No fig cookies please.

Happy Birthday to The Old Man

Happy Birthday to The Old Man!

For this special occasion, I will relay a short but sweet story that I heard from my brother, let's call him Craig.

Back when Craig was in high school, on cold winter days, he would be eating breakfast and waiting to go to class, The Old Man would get up and make it to our one bathroom to shave. The Old Man has this shaving kit with a ivory white shaving cream brush. After he slathered on the Barbasol with the brush and shaved off the stubble, he'd splash on some Old Spice and make his way over to his sock drawer. Now his sock drawer was really a catch-all wood cabinet thing that we called "the bar." The Old Man kept all sorts of things in the various drawers of the bar, socks were just the icing. 

It was pretty dark outside and The Old Man would usually just have the little light on  in the ceiling over the bar. Now The Old Man had about 57 different pairs of black socks in the bar. And they all were different shades. His socks were all about three feet long and were the thick fuzzy type. So The Old Man would stand there at the bar and try to pick out matching black socks for his day at work. He would pick out two socks and hold them up to the dim light and squint to gage what color they were. Most of the time he would mutter something under his breath or swear to the air. Craig and I have theorized that The Old Woman, while doing the laundry, would find a matching pair of The Old Man's socks and throw one of them out in the garbage just to spite him.

Eventually, he would either find a match or one close enough as to not have anyone at the plant to notice. All was right with the world. And that is the great story of The Old Man's morning sock matching ritual.

Happy birthday dad! I love you.

The Old Woman and the Christmas tree

The Old Woman loved Christmas. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving was xmas decorating day. She had her own Christmas store upstairs in the closet, affectionately known as The Camping Room. She had lights, center pieces, candles, garland, bows, light-up ceramic houses, bulbs, floo-flounders and tong-tinklers. The Old Woman had everything in plastic bags. She hauled them downstairs and the xmas magic commenced. In the early years, The Old Woman used the "normal-type" decorations. Meaning, silver tinsel and glass bulbs. Actual colored lights adorned the tree. I'll qualify this statement by giving a run down of The Old Woman's eclectic decorating style later. She would get this glossy crazed look in her eyes when she was in the middle of her frenzied decking of the halls. For many years we had a real Christmas tree. Those were the good years, and we used the normal tree trimmings. Probably in the late 70s or so, The Old Woman bought a fancy fake xmas tree, and that's when the craziness started.

The first middle finger to the norm was the getting rid of colored lights on the tree. Apparently, at the flower shop, Mr. John's, ugh, where The Old Woman purchased all of her xmas decorations, white lights were all the rage. Where they were the rage I have no idea. Anywho, white lights are still used on the tree to this day.

Plastic Apples! Eric, did you just say apples? Damn fucking straight. I can't even imagine what the moron was thinking when he came up with this idea. Plastic apples to hang on Christmas tree? Really? But I hope he is paying for it now. These red apples, probably modeled after Red Delicious, were the bane of our holiday season. We begged The Old Woman to let us put our old classic glass bulbs on the tree. She would have none of it.

The Bows. Yes folks, bows! These bows were hand made by friggin Mr. John himself for The Old Lady. They were mainly red or burgundy and had wire tie-wraps on them to hold them to the tree branches. I hated the bows. And guess what? We had no star on the top of the tree. We had a giant bow. It was hideous. Every year, The Old Woman bagged up her bows and had the flower shop straighten and iron them to get ready for the season. The Old Woman would usually decorate the tree and decide that she didn't like the way it looked and she would tear off all the bows, apples, and white lights. This was a painful exercise in futility, because to the rest of us, it always looked the same.

Baby's Breath: Hurl
Baby's Breath. Ok I don't really know how to describe this horrible little dried flower called Baby's Breath or why someone would ever put it on a Christmas tree. All I know is that it actually smelled like a baby's breath, after he spit-up.

The Old Woman also had the rest of the house decorated to the hilt. Lighted ceramic villages lined the coffee tables and the top of the TV. She put fake snow on them and lit them at night. Every other inch of the house had various red and green center pieces.

I was always in charge of decorating the outside of the estate. We had a multitude of nasty bushes and trees that I would slather with COLORED lights. Ha. The Old Woman didn't really care about how the outside was decorated.

At least in the past, The Old Woman followed the normal ebb and flow of the holidays. For example, she would wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the xmas tree. Lately, as in the past ten years or so, she has begun putting up the tree around Halloween. You should see the confused look on the trick or treater's faces when they come to the door. The Old Woman's behavior is hovering to the depths of dressing up your fourteen cats in skirts and lederhosen and then sharing their food with them.

But, I guess the having the xmas tree up practically all year around gives her some weird sort of happiness. I think that The Old Woman relives the old days of when the house was filled with kids and grandkids. Having the Christmas tree up takes her back a little.

So there you have it. Please people, for shit sakes, use tinsel and garland and glass bulbs on your trees. Apples are meant to be eaten and not hanging off a plastic tree branch.

If I can find a picture of any variation of The Old Woman's Christmas tree, I'll add it to this post.

Divorce: Like battling your way through Russia, only to freeze to death in Stalingrad

I think that everyone should experience the searing blitzkrieg of a divorce. The old adage is true. You know, whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Well, unless your spouse hires a hit man. Now I'm not telling you to just get a divorce for the hell of it. That would be silly. But, if you are a big fan of drinking heavily, sleepless nights and giving all your money to cheesy divorce lawyers, the D-word is for you. So, live a little and suffer through it like you're in the middle of a cold Russian winter. The Red army is bearing down on you. You may make it to that last fucking transport plane out of despair. It's ok if you stay stranded. It's a good and noble death.

Chestnuts and Pepsi

ChestnutsThe holidays are upon us. One very lucid memory of The Old Lady I have is the fall and winter time ritual of eating chestnuts and watching xmas specials on TV. Now a chestnut is small brown soft fruit that you cook in the oven, or roast over an open fire. You know the song. I guess eating chestnuts is sort of an North Eastern or Italian thing. I noticed yesterday when I was out shopping, there were little bags of chestnuts on a shelf that said "Italian Chestnuts" on them. They were actually small and pathetic looking. It must be a Virginia screw-up. Importing the wrong kind, no doubt.

Around Halloween, The Old Lady would pick up a giant bag of chestnuts from the bulk barrel at the local Price-Chopper, the fall time is the only time of year when you can buy them. The Old Lady would normally spend about $200 a week on groceries. She'd get on pounds of jewelry and makeup and have The Old Man or one of the sons to drive her to the store. Yeah, she never learned to drive! I used to have nightmares that she was driving. I would be in the back seat and all I could see was the outside world just spinning around us as we were careening down the road.

Usually, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, would be the first holiday TV special on for the season. The Old Lady got her bag of chestnuts, baking pan, and knife ready. She sat on the couch and proceeded to slice the chestnut shell. You have to put a slice in them so they don't explode in the oven. Three hundred degrees and thirty minutes later, the pan full of boiling-hot chestnuts was ready. Chestnuts are best while they are hot. The trick was to be able to handle them in this boiling state. This requires you to crack and peel open the hard shells with your bare hands. This act was no problem for The Old Man. His hands were like iron covered in rawhide. If you were very lucky, you would only get a few bad chestnuts. A bad chestnut is one that is hard, green and moldy on the inside. Normally, they are light brown and soft.

The Old Lady would crack open a couple of Pepsi's, I grew up on Pepsi by the way, and the show would start. Ah good times. This ritual would repeat for the xmas shows; Rudolph, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, and all of the other misc. stop-motion xmas specials.

I made a point to carry on this sacred tradition with my kids. Well I tried. As it turned out, my ex and daughter hated chestnuts, and my son, of course was deathly allergic to all tree nuts. Ok, well I did give the ex a rotten one once. Hence, I usually ended up eating them all. Luckily, chestnuts are very low in fat. But, I tried make this as an indelible memory in my kids' minds as the times of eating chestnuts with The Old Lady are in mine. I can only hope this is the case.

This year, if I do find any normal chestnuts down here in the South, I'll think of The Old Lady as I burn and cut my fingers open on the shells. I might even drink a Pepsi-diet of course.

Fun with Xanax

Like most people who are teetering on the edge with mental instabilities, I have come to the conclusion that I have absolutely no control over my life. So I have decided that trudging away at life sitting in a prison-blue colored cubicle is simply idiotic. I am now on a quest to find a job that I like and fulfills me somehow. Now, I have looked on Monster.com and I couldn't find any jobs for International Playboy listed. I'm going to keep looking.

Maybe something dangerous might suit me. Bombsquad? High-tension wire biter? There has to be something. Why is it that most people toil away in a job and hope by the end of their career, they have enough money to retire on and then die. Is that what life is about? It's just wretchedly sad. It's no wonder I drink.

Another ask Eric a question

Dear Death Becomes Me:
   I recently lost my job. Okay recently being a relative word. I lost and haven’t found a new one in over six months. I’ve tried everything I can think of, networking with friends, and family, going to employment agencies, walking into various corporate offices armed with a stack of résumé’s ---only to discover that 1.security guards are a lot tougher than then their overweight appearances initially let on. And 2, that soliciting jobs is a lot like soliciting sex only you're more likely to get solicited for sex cause the offices I went to were those on Capital Hill.
   The reason for this letter is, I’ve got three more weeks of unemployment benefits, and then I am out on the street.  I don’t think I have much more to live for after the money runs out. I have expenses, a high maintenance girlfriend, a dog whose medical bills continue to trump the nation’s debt, not to mention (but I will because I’m in the mood to complain) various creditors (Sallie Mae) --who want me dead, What advice/suggestions can you relay on ---as to convince me that living is a worth wild experience and that everything is going to be okay?
     Noose in Hand and ready to "Slip"

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday Jennifer! The best dang badass waitress there is!

Halloween costumes for manic depressives

Ah it's that creepy time of year again, I mean creepier than usual. It's nearing Halloween. Leaves are already red and orange, bad horror movies have taken over the TV on weekends. So this year I thought that I should dress up as something befitting a cool manic depressive such as myself. All of the cliche movie monsters really won't cut it.

My first thought for this years costume was Confused White Suicide Bomber. I decided against this because explosive vests tend to make me look fat.

I could do the whole range of suicidal death, i.e.; slit wrists, nylon noose around the neck, empty sleeping pill bottle(with stomach pump in case the emt's got to me in time). Somehow I would tether the empty prescription bottle to the end of my finger tip so it looks like I dropped on the floor as I slipped off to the netherworld.

I might go as a Great Depression era unemployed father of six standing in a bread line. For example one of these guys: 
I really like those hats

This year I am far from home and as it gets closer to Halloween I'm counting the seconds until I'm back for All Hollows Eve. My son has tried on his costume a thousand times already, I only know this because I have been sent cell phone pix of it. I'm pretty sure of what I'll be going as this year, again. Yes that's right! Lonely, Depressed Divorced Father Standing at the End of a Driveway Holding a Flashlight While the Kids Trick or Treat Man. It's a fucking great costume.

Hello, uh where the bloody hell am I?

With recent slew of washed-up 80s metal and hair bands going back on tour to support their various addictions, my brother and I have decided to pitch a new reality TV show to VH-1. The show will be called On Tour Now! Each week, the show will follow a different band to their gig du jour. Of course, there will be a little bio of the band of the week filled with videos and images of their glory days. As a running gag on the show, every band will have extreme hatred for Bon Jovi and all of their/his success. In the cut scenes, we'll interview people on the street and ask them if they remember any of band of the weeks hits. Every person will of course name a Bon Jovi song.

Let's take your average platinum record selling band like Ratt, our first show's band of the week. Ratt has sold around 20 million records according to Wikipedia. The first scene opens with a zoom-in on some wretched motor lodge as the Ratt tour van pulls into the parking lot. Straggly fifty-something's pile out of the back and pull up their once-form fitting leather pants. Now the muffin tops pour out the waist and there is no longer room to stuff a sock down the crotch.

As the bands manager/roadie/door charge taker checks them into the motel, they reminisce sitting by the algae and garbage-covered pool. (Each week this will consist of phrases like: "Remember that tour with Def Leppard," or, "I wish I still had that red Ferrari."

Fade in to the band getting ready for the show by eating pizza and drinking Löwenbräu. We see the once hot lead singer, Stephen Pearcy, looking in the bathroom mirror and choking back the tears. "Oh what level of bloody Hell have I sunk to!" he screams.

Flash to the show. A hand held camera closes in on the venue. It's really just some horrible dive bar. 1980's Camaros and Trans Ams line the gravel parking lot. As the cameraman enters the bar, darkness give way to the crowd, which consists of leather-skinned women and men with beer guts and mullets.

Hello Scriba!

As once great songs like Lay It Down, and You're In Love, are spewed out like a cat choking on a week old hair ball, the fans relive long dead memories. After the show at the meet and greet, Stephen Pearcy is asked to sign a woman's breast. "I'll lift up my shirt." she says. On camera you see Stephen's eyes look all the way down to the woman's stomach as she lifts up her shirt. "Uh, yeah maybe that's not a good idea." he says.

Well, there you have it. The next sure fire reality TV hit coming soon to VH-1.

Top 10 sayings of The Old Man

Over the years, The Old Man concocted some rather ingenious albeit wacky sayings. This list is in no particular order. Please comment if any of you can think of other ones.

What's all this laughin' and talkin' going on?
The more they come, the uglier they get.
Hell of a thing.
Crazier than a shithouse rat.
Sonny boy!
Come on old paint, let's get where we aint.
If you listen closely, you can here the call of the Shitbird, shit! shit!
Close enough for our girls.
How ya doin'?

Fun with reincarnation

Past Eric getting chow in the Battle of the Bulge
When I die, I want to make a deal with whatever higher power that happens to be there greeting me. Instead of coming back to Earth as a pampered cat or something, I want to be reborn in let's say 1925 or so. This would make me the perfect age to fight in WWII. As long as I'm a man, be it Germany, Britain, or the US, I will be happy. 

I know what you're thinking: "Eric, you're going to freeze to death in Stalingrad." No, I don't think so Tim. I have many years of WWII video game experience to help save my ass.

I know that I can fit right in as a person of the 1930's and 40's. You know, I might even have been there before in a former life. It feels so familiar to me when I'm watching an old black and white movie.The slang and manner of speaking back then was the coolest. I mean, who wouldn't want to say "Nice gams!", and "Yeah, it's curtains for you see!" all day long. 

Working with The Old Man

When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was to accompany The Old Man on his electrical jobs. The Old Man was a Master Electrician and had a full-time job at a paper factory. The factory has long since closed as much of America's manufacturing has done. At any rate, The Old Man had a side business doing residential and commercial wiring. He loved it. Nothing gave The Old Man more joy than to go out on a service call after he came home from work. I know what you're saying: "Wasn't The Old Man tired after a long day sweating away at the paper mill?" No way bitches!

But he did have people working for him. Oh yes. His workforce consisted of his master race. Through the years, every one of The Old Man's sons, well except for Craig, were enlisted in the electrical Wehrmacht. Instead of Tiger tanks, we drove a custom Econoline van slathered with The Old Man's company logo on it. This included a bitchin' electric plug with lightning coming out of it. Ah, there were many iterations of the van. Every time a new one was purchased, the long and arduous task of transferring the tools and supplies was left to the youngest of the Wehrmacht. This consisted of fastening all The Old Man's makeshift electrical supply carriers to the van. These mainly were plastic milk carton containers screwed to the metal walls of the van. I never really knew where he got all of these containers, but that's neither here nor there. The transfer of supplies also involved attaching the extension ladder brackets to the top of the new van. This was always wicked fun. The Old Man must have had the same brackets for at least thirty years.

As The Old Man spent the days working at the plant, a couple of his crew would be busy on the latest job. I'm sure some of the retired Wehrmacht will attest to the shear hell of working on a job without The Old Man there to give instructions. Much of the time the working conditions at the jobs The Old Man took were absolutely appalling. Dirty diapers, garbage, and mounds of dog sculptures were usually everywhere. The following snapshot is from one of the more heinous jobs I was on.
Would you like a banana?

During my enlistment it the electrical service, life was mostly mediocre. The Old Man was hard on his workers and there was much yelling. As hard as this is to believe, there were times when I wanted to lick a 200 amp service.

Actually, there are some distant and fond memories in the back of my mind that come to the surface every once and awhile as I sit in some monotonous and meaningless meeting. These recollections usually are of the times I worked with my brother, let's call him Robert, and our buddy, let's call him Don, at a gigantic mansion that was once a sorority house and was being converted to a bed and breakfast. Working at the 150 year old brick monster was like being on an episode of This Old House. The Old Man loved working on this job and he imagined he was Norm Abram. Hey, they both looked good in flannel.

I cannot close without mentioning the other members of Electrical Wehrmacht. The Old Man's son-n-laws also gave their nights and weekends in the service of The Old Man's company. As they probably can agree, we may not have always known what we were doing, but that little bit of extra money helped out in many ways.

Later in life, I was actually able to retain some knowledge from my time in the trenches. I've put in a few receptacles here and there and mounted a couple of fan lights. And I'm sure every one of us have been able to look far past the frustration we felt when we didn't know how to hook something up and were berated by The Old Man. And now we just recall the things we do know how do from our days in the Service.

I'll never forget a story told to me by one of my co-workers in a previous IT job. Well, he used to live in my hometown and at one time owned a bar. At the time of purchasing this establishment, it needed some work and he was strapped for cash. Of course the compressor on his refrigeration unit died. He looked in the phone book and called The Old Man. The Old Man fixed the broken compressor and upon hearing the plight of my co-worker, wouldn't take any money. Now this occurred around forty years ago and my co-worker has never forgotten it. There was actually a tear in his eye when he told me this. At the time he relayed this story to me, The Old Man was in the hospital after suffering his stroke. Suffice it to say, I had to excuse myself to the bathroom.

So there you have it. As I sit here, seven hours and four hundred miles away from The Old Man, I look around my lonely apartment and I have strange urge to turn all of the receptacles on the walls right-side up.

Mad Men, Bewitched without the nose twitching

When I was a kid I used to watch the TV show Bewitched, re-runs of course. Bewitched is a 1960's series about a advertising executive who marries a witch, a real witch not the normal everyday wife. Every week, the show's plot centered around Darren Stevens' plight to come up with some great slogan or campaign for a client. Hmmm. Sounds familiar. I used to and still think that that would be the ultimate job. Of course, Darren always fell victim to one of his mother-n-law's evil spells. Usually, these included him only able to speak Italian, or his head affixed with gigantic ears.

Interestingly enough, the modern TV series, Mad Men has many of the same characters and plot lines. Here are some of the main characters on both shows:

Darren Stevens, ad man extraordinaire 
Don Draper, womanizer extraordinaire 

Rodger Sterling, head of Sterling Cooper Ad Agency and womanizer extraordinaire 
Betty Draper, previously devoted wife of Don,
in later seasons, miserable bitch
Samatha Stevens, witch extraordinaire 
Larry Tate, head of McMahon and Tate Ad Agency,  professional Martini drinker
In both shows much drinking and smoking takes place. Mainly fancy drinks like the Old Fashioned and Martinis. Luckily, Endora is missing from Mad Men. So I am sure that the writers and producers of Mad Men were greatly inspired by Bewitched and tried to  copy much of the look and feel of that show. If you can, watch both shows sometime and compare them for yourself.

Spending eternity...with the ex

In a recent conversation with my brother, he assured me that I would not be alone when I'm dead and six feet under. He asserted that I would be buried next to my ex wife. There would also be a tunnel or passage way leading from her casket to mine. Of course, this would just be a one-way path in which she only has access. This will allow her to reach over to me and rip, tear the flesh off of my arm for all of eternity. For some unlucky reason, every night my skin, muscle and tendons will heal and she can do it all over again in the morning. Thanks Craig! You rock!

My son

My son is my buddy. He has been there by my side in the darkest of days. He was there for me when I was at the absolute bottom and limit of what the human spirit can endure. Always with a smile. Always happy to just be, there with me. Words cannot even begin to describe the shear emptiness and despair I feel when leaving him. Holding him in my arms and kissing his little cheeks as tears fill his beautiful blue eyes, I can imagine doing this even when he is grown. Yes, he is my good buddy. My son, Sam.

Thurston's Deck Staining Service

As many of you know, I have more than a few siblings. One of my brothers, let’s call him Chris, has enjoyed much success as a nuclear plant worker. Suffice it to say, he is pretty well off. Well, Chris has been unmercifully taunted by me and my brother Craig, who many of you may hate. Chris’ nickname is Thurston, of Gilligan’s Island fame. Thurston Howell III is a multi-millionaire on the TV show, sporting steamer trunks full of money and an endless wardrobe of expensive clothing. He is accompanied by his wife, who he refers to as Lovey. The Howells try to get out of as much work as they can on the island and usually trick Gilligan into doing it for them. Thurston speaks with a very aristocratic tone and is basically an amalgam of how rich guys sound. Click here to see a clip of Thurston.

Well, as it turns out, Chris(Thurston) became slightly bored on his recent vacation and decided to stain the neighbor's massive deck. Ever since Thurston took on the job of staining his backyard cedar fence by himself last summer, he labors under the delusion that he is a Davinci of the wood stain. Even though Thurston, I'm sure is diligently hard at work slathering Olympic Semi-Transparent stain everywhere, Craig and I have a different vision of this venture.

We envision that Thurston has a couple of Mexican illegals slaving away on the deck while he is sipping mai tais in the hot tub and being fanned by a third Mexican. Of course, Thurston can't be bothered to remember all of his worker's names, so he calls them all Gilligan. The following exchange of dialogue is no doubt what occurs every work-day:

Thurston: "Gilligan, make sure you don't get stain on the siding, and my God man, where did you get those wretched sneakers?"

Lupe: "Mister Thurston, my name is Lupe."

Flaco: "Mister Thurston, the bamboo handle on this fan is giving me callouses."

Thurston: "Damn it man, I told you to put white stain on that railing! Do you know how bad brown stain is going to clash with white yachting pants!"

As you can clearly see, a job handled by Thurston's Deck Staining Service would be very entertaining to watch. Make sure to look for the ad in this weekend's Wall Street Journal.

The year of living morosely

As I have now spent more than a year divorced and two years miserably separated, certain horrible things have dawned on me. I will outline these in the bulleted list below.

  • The fictional characters on TV shows make the best friends
  • The only reason I would get married again is if I needed to stay in a foreign country because of legal trouble back in the US
  • The little shopping carts at Wegmans built for one person's groceries make me smile when I use them
  • It's hard to get out of bed in the morning because my queen size air mattress is so damn comfortable
  • I have a hard time playing video games now because it brings me back to the times I would ignore my wife playing every weekend
  • I have a set of grooves in my carpet from moving the one chair I own from room to room
  • I love swearing at the female voice of my cellphone when she can't understand my voice dialing
  • I would rather just be surprised than go to a doctor for a yearly physical
  • I have my child support case worker added to my instant messaging contacts

The top home improvements made by The Old Man. Part III

The New Room

After the fantastic pool was done, the estate was in need of a patio to entertain guests and provide a cool place to get out of the sun. What beautiful and fancy design would The Old Man come up with? That's right! A box pasted on the back of the house. Oh well. The new addition would also have a living room on the second floor to accommodate the ever expanding family. The New Room was equipped with the latest in 1970s carpeting and wood paneling. A wondrous orange metal fireplace seen here was also installed. 

(not the actual orange fireplace)
The main purpose of this room, at various points in time, was to house the TV set. In later years, it just existed to be a staging area for The Old Woman’s eternal Christmas tree. Also, the couch in The New Room is used as a filing cabinet for The Old Woman’s bills that she hid from The Old Man. 

Unlike most of the estate, The New Room has only gotten a couple of renovations. My personal favorite is the current one. Knotty-pine everywhere. At one time squirrels had gotten into the rafters above and were trying their best to scratch their way into the room. This is when the ceiling was just Styrofoam tiles. I wanted to get a flamethrower and climb to the roof and burn those suckers out like Japs, uh I mean Japanese soldiers, in a pillbox.

Meanwhile in the patio, a beer tap, a refrigerator for the kegs, and a changing room were installed. Things were shaping up to be bloody beautiful. The patio was an eclectic mixture of redwood framing and metal screen. Lighted beer signs adorned the walls and it even had an electric heater hanging from the ceiling. The Old Man was in heaven. He could be seen there nightly, smoking a cigar and drinking Genesee Cream Ale. Looking back now, the patio seemed immense. I can remember playing in there at night in my pajamas listening to The Old Man and his son-in-law, let’s call him Jack, plotting the next project. The Old Man always had some scheme to keep out the mosquitoes. Every hole was plugged up with a piece of aluminum screening and stapled into place. There were a few different facelifts to the patio, but after The Old Man had a dedicated pool house erected called The Building, it became more of a utilitarian storage space. 

The Building

The Building is The Old Man's beloved pool house. It is basically a pre-built storage type building that you can find at Lowes or Home Depot today, only bigger. The Building arrived on a flatbed truck and was nailed into place. Slack-jawed yokels from the neighborhood gathered around when it was delivered like they were viewing The Empire State Building being built. Soon it was fitted with the finest in flake-board plywood and green astro-turf. And yes, it was mosquito-proofed with a custom metal screen door. Later a deck was built off of the side of it and many grand parties were held. The Building was wired up complete with refrigerator, stereo system and even had a fancy intercom system installed. The Old Man could order The Old Woman to bring down food he needed for the weekend cookouts. Or in turn, The Old Woman could alert him that he had a phone call. This would usually result in him going on a service call for his electrical business. Later on The Old Man outfitted the deck with a hot tub. I think he likened it to the Playboy Mansion's Grotto

A few of The Old Man's children used The Building to entertain the opposite sex. By entertain, I mean boink. These were good times and it was very easy for The Old Man's better looking children to entice hapless victims to come over for a midnight swim. 

The Building, like the pool has fallen on hard times and is in disrepair. The floor is sagging, the window won't stay up and the mice are the only ones having a good shag in there. There are no more weekend parties with gallons of clam chowder, steamed clams and various desserts. The laughter of grandchildren and the splash of an unsuspecting visitor getting thrown into the pool fully clothed are gone. The echoes of these events are imprinted on the fabric of the pool area. If you happen to be driving by on the highway, listen carefully and you can hear them.
The Building as seen by Google Maps

The top home improvements made by The Old Man

As I have written before, The Old Man had an unmatched skill at coming up with insane projects around the estate. This will be a two part segment and I will attempt to list the coolest and most ingenious.

Although I wasn't around for the first twenty some odd years of the estate, stories have been handed down for what seem like an millennia. So in no certain order, here they are.

The Blue Vinyl Siding

Livin' the dream

The estate spent many years covered in a hard siding that was made out of asbestos siding seen here:

Well after a couple different paint schemes, the house looked dated and scary, it was time to replace the old siding.  The Old Man debated long and hard on what to replace the sad asbestos with and he decided on vinyl siding. He struck a deal with a contractor who he put a furnace in for and work was set to begin. But first, the old siding had to come off.  So the work force sprang into action and began ripping it off the house. But where would the workers put the broken pieces? A rented dumpster perhaps? Don't bother trying to guess because you never would be right. The broken siding, nails and other scrap were buried in the ground on the sides of the fence surrounding the pool. This served two purposes. 1. It built up the level of the ground so the fence no longer had gaps under it. 2. It was the cheapest and easiest way to get rid of tons of asbestos.

The Kitchen Deck

Like Hitler at his Berghof, The Old Man was master of all he surveyed. But something was missing. One day The Old Man and one of his SS lieutenants had the brilliant idea of carving a giant hole in the kitchen wall. This would allow Herr Old Man to erect a good sized deck with stairs leading down to his beloved pool. Plus, guests would not have to walk all the way around the front of the house or go through the cellar to get to the backyard. Soon a pressure treated deck and railing were completed along with a gorgeous patio door right off the kitchen. The deck even was equipped with accent lighting hidden under the railing. The Old Woman was thrilled. She now could sit up on the deck and watch friends and family in the pool.

The Slate Floor

Slate, it's not just a fancy roof covering. Now I don't exactly know how The Old Man thought of this bitchin' idea, but at one point he had a slate floor installed in the kitchen. If you don't know what slate looks like here is a picture, note this looks nothing like our kitchen:

To be honest the slate was a marked improvement over the brown shag carpeting that graced the kitchen previously. That beaut must have been fueled by gallons of Gennesee Cream Ale. Well, slate requires a nice and even subsurface in order to remain stable and not come up. This was not the case in the estate. Grout was constantly cracking and breaking apart allowing any water or Pepsi spilled on the floor to seep under the slate. Hence, the tiles were always loose. Understandably, this drove The Old Man nuts and a seemingly endless cycle of grouting and cementing of the floor occurred. Finally, the slate was replaced with a hardwood floor which in turn was destroyed by two Cocker spaniels. But that is another story.

The Boudoir Addition

The front of the estate had a beautiful Antebellumesque porch on the front of it. Weirdly, the The Old Man and Woman's bedroom was downstairs and located in the front of the house. It was a fairly small room, but it was enough to get the job done, if you know what I mean. The Old Woman yearned for some extra closet space for the furs, shoes and Liz Claiborne clothes. Guess what? Yes the outside wall was knocked out under the porch roof and a fabulous addition was constructed. This included his and hers closet space and a parquet floor. There's one odd Winchester House type twist of the addition, the ceiling fan in the room is positioned to cool, well nothing. There's absolutely no reason to have a ceiling fan in this closet addition.

Next time: The New Room, The Pool and others.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. How to stalk hot chicks at Target.

Even though I spent some hellish months working at Target, shopping there is a different beast entirely. I'm always in awe of the high-quality hotness of the women that I see in any Target that I go to. There are also many hot mom types with their kids in tow. Usually, the brats are screaming about some toy or candy that they want. Unfortunately for men in their mid thirty's, their female counterparts have all fallen apart and have become old hags. All those years of laying in a tanning bed has turned their skin into a candidate for a knockoff Gucci hand bag. This is especially true if they have popped out a couple of kids. Ugh, that's just an all around disaster area down in the nether region. That sexy tramp stamp tattoo has now just become a green blur riding the back fat wave. So it's refreshing to actually see hot moms walking around Target and it makes me wonder where the hell they come from.

So here's the typical stalk outing:
1. Enter the store and get your cart.  (This will make it seem like you have a life and are buying things for other people in your household).

2. Start out in the women's clothing section. (Don't actually go into the individual aisles, just stay in the main one). Eye your prey and take note of it for later.

3. Now head on over to men's clothing, hey you have to see if there's anything new on sale.

4. Make your way to the toys section. Look around and maybe pick up a Transformers car or something and put it in your cart. (This will disarm any potential victim and lull her into a false sense of security. Any man buying a toy for a kid can't be that bad). Don't approach any hot moms with children. Women with children are already in a bad mood and tend to lash out at the nearest man.

5. Saunter on over to the cleaning and air freshener aisles. If there are any chicks there, look confused and pick up some laundry detergent. Start to read the label and scratch your head. (This will wretch the motherly instincts out of the nearest chick and she will attempt to learn you in the art of washing clothes if asked). Tell her of your new place that you just moved into and how you turned one of your white dress shirts pink by washing a red polo shirt with it. If you aren't a complete hideous mess, you may have a shot at getting her number. Otherwise, at least you have a nice visual for when you are home alone at night.

6. After you have done your shopping and all else has failed, go on back to women's clothing or jewelry.  If there are any hotties there, look confusingly at some watches tell her you are looking for a gift for your sister's birthday. Ask her which one she likes.

If you follow these simple steps and maybe you'll stop being the lonely pathetic loser that you are. Or you will just get maced.

The SS Deflation- the air mattress from Hell

In a recent trip back home, I chose to stay with my parents at the old estate. This would also allow me to spend some much needed time with my son. Not to mention The Old Man and Old Woman in their last few remaining years. Fortunately for us the old mansion in the city is still in great shape and has a multitude of rooms in which to frolic. My son picked out his own knotty pine laden room and plugged in his Nintendo DS charger and laid out his Webkinz animals on the bed. By bed I mean moth eaten mattress laying on the floor. Luckily, my son is very resilient and lets many thing roll off his back. After we scraped off the layer of dust off on TV in the room, we were ready for a fabulous night.

After a while we were ready for bed.  As I lay there on the same mattress with my son, his asthma and other ailments kicked in and the snoring and snorting began. Now, there is absolutely nothing I wouldn't do for this kid. I would gladly take a bullet for him.  I barely slept, but it was worth it.

The next day began with the down stairs TV set to the bull horn volume setting. After a day of old movies and long dead family stories, it was time for bed.  This night my oldest brother, let's call him Steve, decided to spend the night after the ceaseless lovers spat with his old hag.  Well that sneaky Steve took over the "luxury" floor mattress and moved our things into another room. This room used to be mine.  The room now contained the sad remnants of a once vibrant and happy family. Miscellaneous clothes, books and pictures were strewn about covered in dust and despair.

Steve filled a ghastly air mattress for us to sleep on. This air mattress is one in which the air doesn't like to be confined. Upon laying down on the wretched thing, a hissing sound was heard.  My son fell fast asleep.  Maybe the leaking air was soothing, I don't know.  After my backside started hitting the floor, I made my way to the couch.  I battled the gigantic pillows and went to sleep.

In the morning I cracked my back and went upstairs to check on my son. I sort of gasped at the site. It was like looking at a baby deer engulfed in a blue lava flow. There he was wrapped in the vinyl of the air mattress snoring away happily.

For future trips home, I have already gathered a list of hotels in which to stay at.

Death Becomes Me is back

I have decided to moon conformity and reinstate the blog forever.  I refuse to compromise who I am just to make money.

Beware the paper shredder

Luckily for me I still have one friend left from my old company, come to think of it, he is my only friend.  At any rate, he religiously sends me the ridiculous safety crap from emails and meetings.  The latest incident happened with a paper shredder.  I have embedded the pdf below.

Fortunately for all of us, we have recovered the 911 call for this horrible incident: 

(if you can't hear the call, click here to download)

Gas, gas everywhere and not a drop to buy

Last weekend I was on a road trip home and stopped for gas in the great state of Pennsylvania.  Much to my chagrin, the debit card that I normally use to purchase extravagant things like food and other essential supplies wouldn't work.  Thinking that my card was broken, I called the 1-800 number.  Well, come to find out my account had been frozen for child support arrears.  I know what you're saying, Eric, you fucking bastard!  How can you shirk out on your fatherly duties?  It's true, I purposefully lost my job, lived in basements and accepted handouts to suffer for my craft.

As I sat there in my car wondering what to do about this dire situation, I thought, to myself, "Maybe if I sleep in my car tonight someone will break in and kill me."  I looked around for anything I could hock for about fifty bucks.  I figured I would probably get in trouble if I sold my work laptop and I would rather lose a leg than sell my iPod.  So, I braced myself for the March Pennsylvanian night.  Eventually, the migrant workers gathering around my car got me a little scared and I started to call for help.  After many "piss offs" and "you are a loser" from various friends and family, a kind soul, let's call her Karen, found a Western Union nearby and wired me some money.  After a few hours, I was back on the road.

The moral of this story you might ask?  Never have kids.

The Red Queen

Hmmm.  There's something familiar about her.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  Could it be the giant head with that mop of hair?  The short 4'11" body?  That nasty turn on you at the drop of a hat personality?  I don't know maybe it's nothing.

Ingenious pool heater or secret Nazi weapon...you decide.

Of the many life-scarring household building projects that occurred at the old family homestead, none stands out more in everyone's mind than the satanic black iron pool heater contraption that the old man came up with. Growing up, there was always some pile of pressure-treated wood, stones, concrete, siding, PVC pipe, mulch, shingles, roof tar, knotty pine, slate, landscape timbers, park-a flooring, insulation, replacement windows, central vacuum system, and AstroTurf carpeting just waiting to be deployed at the estate. It always gave you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach to wake up on a Saturday morning and find ten gallons of orange paint waiting for you in the dining room.

In the old days one of the greatest symbols that you had made it in the world, was to have an in ground pool. The Old Man finally achieved this goal and life was good. Or maybe. The one lingering thought in his mind was that the pool was never quite warm enough. So he and his son-n-law, let's call him Jack, got to thinking. All of their best ideas would come to them while drinking Genesee Cream Ale standing in the shallow end of the pool. I think the beer and pool water were a conduit to the gods. Well, one Friday night, I'm sure, back in maybe 1982, I recon, because the old withering redwood fence was still hanging in there, the idea of the century hit. I'm sure the following is how it occurred:

Old Man: "You know, sonny-boy, I wish we could come up with something to get this water up to about 90 degrees."

Jack: "If we had some sort of gigantic boiler that could pump hot water into the pool, which might work. I've been welding these big black iron cylinders down at the plant, maybe we can use that."

Old Man: "You know, that might work. Maybe we can burn firewood in it. And we can wrap copper tubing around it and have the water go through that." Jack: "That’s a great idea. Buurrp."

Old Man: "Hey, I have that black pvc pipe just lying in the driveway, maybe we can also have the water pumping through that.
Jack: "And we can coil that up and lay it on the roof over there so the sun can heat it in the daytime. Then it will come back down off the roof and go into the pool.

Old Man: "Hey, won't we also need a chimney on the wood burning boiler?"

Jack: "Yeah, we should use about twelve feet of galvanize pipe. I can see some laying over there in the side by the driveway right now."

Old Man: "This is going to be succulent!"

Soon after, the monstrous beast was delivered. Up the curb off the highway and through the backyard it came. The Old Man marveled the black beauty, like Hitler witnessing the first successful flight of the V-2 rocket. It was not long before the fire was stoked and black smoke billowed from the rusting chimney. Then hot water came. It was slow at first. Then, all of a sudden, water gushed out of the black pvc piping with such a great force, that it wailed around like a fire hose. Only this hose spewed scalding hot water and steam, burning anyone that dared to be in its way. A heavy rock was then placed over the pipe to keep it from flailing around.

Now when the Old Man was at work, it was up to one the many sons to keep the fire going in the summer months. As relayed to me by my brother, let's call him Craig, he was given this task one morning. Craig had wrenched his knee a week before and was on crutches. So, he hobbled out to the backyard and proceeded to put the three foot long logs in the black iron beauty. Well, the logs weren't catching fire too easily, so he decided to pour in some gasoline. I know, right? Just then, a sort of back draft occurred and an orange wall of flame went back into the gasoline can. You know that Craig is so damn smart; he got rid of the can straight away, by throwing it at the rotting redwood fence. Luckily, gasoline can fire was extinguished, but now the fence was ablaze. Fortunately, there is a whole pool full of water right there. Disaster averted.

Not everyone shared in the admiration of the amazing pool boiler. Neighbors lodged many complaints about the toxic black smoke clouds invading their backyards. Birds flying by would drop out of the sky. Sadly, for the Old Man, the pool heater had to be dismantled and no doubt used for some other ill-fated scheme.

I have tasked my sister, let's call her Robin, with searching through her 10,000 boxes of pictures, to find an image of the black iron beauty. The closest thing I know of that looks even remotely like it is the alien ship in Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. That is the picture at the beginning of this blog. One of the differences between the two, as far as we know, is that the alien ship could achieve warp speed.

That is the illustrious story of the Old Man's great pool heater. I plan to erect a plaque to it next time I am at the estate.

I Can’t Pay the Rent ‘Cause I’m Addicted to Codeine

In this, the final in the three part story of The Old Man’s business ventures and properties, I’m going to tell the glorious tale of 219. 219 is the number of the house down the street that The Old Man owned for many years.

(219 in the college days)

At some point in the mid ‘70s, The Old Man purchased a perfectly wretched two story house with the intent of making a fortune in rent. It stood ominously above the street just daring someone to tame it. The craggy old man who lived across the street from 219 always had an itch to buy it and live there with his equally craggy wife. He resented The Old Man for owning such a magnificent structure. He would call the police for any little incident that happened involving the renters.

219 was what you would call a “fixer upper” but what it lacked in elegance, it made up for it in filth. From what I can recall, 219 was a traditional turn of the century building. The house had a really bitchin’ extra stairwell in the back of the kitchen that led to the second floor. Its leaded stained glass windows in the attic had long since been filled with holes. Its front porch was sagging and paint was falling off of it everywhere. It had many decent sized rooms, I often thought The Old Man should actually pay a real contractor to gut and remodel it and we should move into it.

The Old Man soon went to work using his slave labor force to nail up plywood and paneling to cover the walls and block off the second floor to make additional apartments. The slave labor crew was also adept at painting. While painting the exterior one time, which was coming along swimmingly, a brutal swarm of Africanized bees that used 219 as their summer home attacked and seriously wounded one of the crew, let’s call him Al.

Right-quick, a bunch of college kids rented 219, and all was well. But college kids tend to mostly just get drunk and destroy things. So The Old Man thought maybe he should rent to a family instead of those crazy kids. The Old Man put his usual ever-present ad in the local paper for a nice family to rent the wreck.

After the college kids, 219 needed various updates and the kitchen was redone in a beautiful late ‘70s Alabama trailer park motif. And soon it was filled with the trailer park white trash to go along with it. Various ne’er-do-wells were living at 219 and each had their own rusted out car parked in the driveway. Somehow, all of these inhabitants were related, either by marriage or incest, we don’t know.

Luckily for me, my job at 219 was to cut the lawn every week. I use the term lawn loosely. It was mainly dirt and ground-level tree roots. My main implement of choice to cut the grass was a weed whacker. While I was there, I was usually pestered by a dirty-faced kid wearing just a diaper and nothing else. This would've been fine, but he was about 13 years old.

There were the few dreaded times that I would accompany The Old Man when something needed fixing in 219. This would really test your gag reflex. This especially was the case when there was a plumbing problem. As you can imagine, the dregs of society are not always the cleanest.

Unfortunately for The Old Man, the rabble of sloth that rented 219 had a hard time of paying rent every month due to vicious addictions to Tylenol with codeine. The Old Man had to kick them out.

Well, joyously, 219 was sold for a huge sum of money by a cunning realtor. The Old Man is now living the high-life, enjoying his golden retirement years with his beautiful and beloved wife. And their little dog too.

Thus ends the fabulous and excruciating recounting of The Old Man’s meteoric rise to power.

Sleep Paralysis

If you've ever experienced sleep paralysis you know that it can be scary and hellish.  In essence, your brain wakes up while your body is still paralyzed in REM sleep.  As you lay there unable to move, you can hallucinate and sometimes imagine that creatures or demons are sitting on your chest holding you down. This the same thing that happens when mentally unstable people go on the Jerry Springer show and claim that they were abducted by aliens. 

This is the scene that played out in my room last night.  I awoke laying on my back and my eyes were the only body part that weren't paralyzed. Suddenly, I saw a little white amorphous blob floating over to me from the left side of the room. It stood next to me at the head of bed.  Another blob stood a few feet taller and floated to the right side of the bed.  The right hand blob was pointing at my legs and left hand kid-sized blob was just staring at me.  I tried to scream, but no sound would come. As I finally regained movement in my body, the two apparitions faded into the dark.

Black Cloud

A big whoop-whoop shoutout and congrats goes to my ex for her pregnancy, (not mine by the way). Have fun with the demented reality show.

Recently, I was chatting with my brother, let's call him Lefty, and we discussed how I am able to control the bad luck of other people.  For example, pets die, vicious yet hilarious cross-country ski accidents, unexplained deafness, ill-advised pregnancies, finger impalement's, unprecedented snow-fall...etc. etc.  Point being, I'm like a Reaper on the TV series Supernatural, or the bizarro A-Team. If you don't have a problem, and no one else can give you one, and if I can find you, maybe you can fall victim to Me. 

Oh fudge!

I really like to swear.  Nothing is more satisfying when you are stuck in mind-bending traffic on the way to work than letting out a few four letter words and pounding the steering wheel.  There are some who think that swearing is bad for your "soul", but I think that if there is such a thing, it is really chicken soup.  Tell me, who is it really hurting?  You aren't killing, maiming, or molesting anyone.  It's sort of like verbal masturbating.  I refuse to believe that you can go to "Hell" by saying the f-word a few billion times in your life.

Ah, I can't wait to get that next bill in the mail or get yelled at by the ex.

Texts from the ex

If you’re like me, nothing gives you more pleasure than reading nasty text messages from the ex.  Here’s some recent gems from mine:
—i hate u right now
—whatever helps u sleep at night
—u couldve done a good enough job to stay there at least until u got a new job in the area but once a selfish bastard…always one
—atleast the kids r fine in spite of u
Ah, good times, good times.

Sledding with Eva

I know that in the past, I have focused on The Old Man's exploits, this week I would like to relay some fond memories about The Old Lady.  Lately, there have been some less than kind feelings towards The Old Lady from some in my family.  By less than kind I mean, hold her head in an oven. So I thought that I would share a poignant winter memory from winters long ago.

Growing up at the estate was fantastic because of the sprawling grounds and a great hill off to the side of the house.  This hill was perfect for winter sledding.  Occasionally, The Old Lady would go outside to play in the snow with us.  It was always at night, because she couldn't be seen without high-heels and makeup on.
The Old Lady About to go sledding

(The Old Lady, ready for sledding)

After The Old Man would make our 'hots-cakes' dinner, The Old Lady would dig through her closet and get out one of her older rabbit fur coats and put on a couple of pairs of wool pants.  I'm sure that she wore some sort of high-heeled leather boots.  Yes, it was neat.  We made our way through the 375 feet of snow and to the top of the hill.  We had this ancient wooden toboggan that could seat about four.  The Old Man had hand-carved it out of a solid block of plywood.  My sister, let's call her Jennifer, would join us and off we flew down the hill.  It was quite dangerous if you slid close to the iron pipes coming out of the cement blocks used as a retaining wall that held the redwood fence and backyard pool in place.  But that didn't bother us at all.  The Old Lady was there, her snow-covered brown rabbit fur coat shimmering in the streetlight.

I've discussed these long-past winter outings with The Old Lady and she seems to recall that most of the time a certain mean-spirited brother of mine, let's call him Craig, would push her down in the snow and that was the end of the winter fun every time.

So next time you are thinking about pulling the plug on your aging parents, remember that at one point in their lives they were just like you.