Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Ghoul Trouble






 
So now all the ghouls are mad at me.

Me….

Great!

Just what I need on Halloween…angry ghouls bad mouthing me on Twitter.

I mean what did I do?

I just introduced the Teenage Boy Zombie to the Teenage Girl Vampire, so now I’m the bad guy because someone said they’re dating.

I mean one date is not a relationship.

It was just a movie and some ice cream afterward.

Sure…the Teenage Boy Zombie promised her his heart, but that was just the after effects of the Rom-Com talking.

Besides, he doesn’t even know where his heart is anymore…

And yes… Teenage Girl Vampire did show a little too much fang…especially for a first date…but that sugar cone was pretty stale.

How else was she supposed to bite into it?

So now I have to deal with BOTH Zombie Dad AND Vampire Dad banging on my front door in the middle of the night.

I mean you know what it’s like to be woken up by one angry ghoul?

Well, just double that.

Yeah….

And I’m innocent I tell ya….innocent.

The other day I was outside watching the Zombies put up their spook house, when Natalie—that’s the Teenage Girl Vampire’s name—walks over and asks me if we enjoyed the blood brownies she brought by the house the other day.

Naturally, I said we did, but you can guess where that whole tin ended up.

Anyway, who should  shuffle over but Todd—the Teenage Boy Zombie—who starts flirting…you know, just a little flirting, in that Zombie way.

Showing off his muscles…or somebody’s muscles…rolling his eyes at something funny Natalie said.

So what if he was rolling them down the driveway?

And that’s when I walked off and left the two of them alone.

And apparently that was my BIG mistake.

Teenage Boy Zombies and Teenage Girl Vampires are never supposed to be left un-chaperoned.

Something cultural, I suppose.

Ghouls are very protective when it comes to bloodlines…both theirs and ours…if you catch my drift.

And I guess it makes some sense.

Could you imagine a Vampire/Zombie Baby?

There’s no telling what havoc that kid would reap.

So they try very hard to stick with their own kind.

And now they’re saying I messed all that up.

But like I said…it was just one date.

Maybe a creepy date…but what do you expect from two spirited, undead teenagers?

I didn’t know I was tainting the whole ghoulish gene pool.

Besides, I could tell right from the start that Natalie found Todd to be a little showy…you know with all the personal dismemberment.

At least now I hear they’re breaking up…or at least Todd is…which is not all that unusual for a Zombie.

And Natalie is walking around as if someone pounded a stake through her heart…again…saying Todd was just an empty vessel of a man, anyway.

Ouch!

But that’s how life is, I guess.

Even if technically, you’re not really alive.

Love hurts…especially for those who walk the night.

What can I say....


Gotta go get more candy.

Somehow the first 100 bags disappeared.

Weird…..




 _____________________________________________________________

In reality, which can be scarier than fiction sometimes, our Halloween has been cancelled this year due to obvious reasons.   

I’ll have more to say about the last couple of days around here, next time.

From a microcosmic point of view, Z and I escaped pretty much unscathed this go round, other than some down tree limbs in the front yard, which seem to just appear out of nowhere from time to time..  But the real mess is happening right down the street and around the corner for others.

Hard to put it all into perspective, right now.

But we’re all a resilient bunch, and we will.

We always do…Zombies notwithstanding…..
 


 

 

 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sleep Styling





 
Sitting here, waiting for the BIG storm to descend is a bit nerve rattling.

Which is strange for me because my nerves are usually rattle free in these types of situations.

But here I sit, listening to the wind rustle the tress, just a hint of what’s to come.

In theory, storms of the century come only …well…once every century…but we seem to get them almost every other year now.

I guess because everything is soooooo competitive these days.

This one has been a bit more anxiety producing; I think because it seems to be unfolding in slow motion.

But we’re up on high ground and I have my generator set and ready to go.

So we should be okay, and hopefully we’ll sleep through the worst of it.

But in the back room, safely away from the big tree in the front yard…with one eye open.

Speaking of sleeping…..

Hey…the show must go on…right?

recent article reports that the manner in which you sleep is indicative of what sort of personality you possess.

Fetal position, Log, Yearner, Free Faller…all snoozing positions that say something about you.

So you better hope you’ve been nice to them, or they might just say something less than complimentary.

This particular article struck a chord in me—which, besides being rude, can be quite painful—because, as legend has it, I once had a great, great, great aunt, who, one day, suddenly began sleeping in the corner of the attic, hanging by her toes. My other relatives, at the time, found this behavior to be more than peculiar, because, up ‘til then, she had only been sleeping in the basement, under the stairs. 

But, yes, that did tell them all they needed to know about her.

But I digress…sort of.

Anyway, depending on what style of sleep you adopt, those who observe such things—and avoid arrest—can size you up to a tee…which would make you very short.

If you hit the pillow and immediately fall into a “Fetal Position”, which, apparently, almost half of us do, it tells these researchers, that you overthink things way too much, and, of course, worry about everything, including the battered pillow and all of the overthinking that you’re doing.

It also tells them that you’re seeking comfort, which is not all that difficult to figure out, PhD or not, since you just got into bed.

What else would you be seeking, other than a room that didn’t include a bunch of scientists in it, keeping you up all night?

Another 30% of folks sleep in what’s called the “Log Position”, which, just as it sounds, means you sleep straight as a log, hands pressed firmly to your sides.

This indicates that in addition to being a veritable sleeping stiff, your personality is prone to being equally as rigid in the way you conduct your day to day life.

I suppose this means that changing your brand of cereal is out of the question, plus you’re prone to chasing young children off of your lawn.

25% of sleepers are “Yearners” and are very fond of the Statue of Liberty (if you can figure out that one, you know me way too well, and are very, very good).

 “Yearners” sleep with their arms extended, as if reaching for the stars. They jump out of bed each and every day, ready to face the world, full of excitement…but, unfortunately, can sometimes lack focus and tragically end up chasing someone else’s dreams by mistake.

Which is kind of what happened to my cousin Albert, notorious in family circles for his crippling childhood fear of clowns, who somehow inexplicably found himself running off to join the circus, which was his next door neighbor’s dream.

If you’re among the 17% of us who sleep in the “Freefall” position—face down on your stomach, arms and legs stretched, every which way—aside from causing endless marital discord, it means that you’re trying to gain control over some measure of time and space, lacking in your waking hours.

It might also mean you’re getting the least amount of rest than all the other sleeper types, mentioned above but, if you tie weight belts onto your ankle and wrists, you’ll be able to skip your morning workout on most days.

Then there are the minor sleeping positions such as the Starfishers” who sleep on their backs and tend to be open, which makes for good friends, and “Soldier Position” folks, who also sleep on their backs, but tend to salute all night long.


However, both of these sleepers are prone to nocturnal breathing problems since others are prone to covering up their heads with pillows, mostly because they snore a lot and are disturbing to look at in the middle of the night

And then of course there are people like me who rigidly begin each night in the fetal position, morph into the “Yearner”, followed by the Freefaller, until ending up like a Starfish Soldier, with a pillow over my head.

What?

I have issues…..

 

 

 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hoppy Pumpkin Squirrels





Less than a week ‘til Halloween, and you know what that means?

Yep…getting my snow shovel out and preparing for the annual Halloween snow.

It’s become such a nice tradition.

Someone should record a song.

 Oh the weather outside is doubly frightful…you know, because of all the the snow and ghoul delightfuls.

But as long as we’re candy  fools...

Let it snow let it snow let it snow…..

Hey…I never said I was Irving Berlin.

Anyway, less than a week to go and the race is on to see if the squirrels can polish off the pumpkins on the stoop before then.

They’re lagging a bit this year—just a few nibbles—but I’m anticipating a strong finish.

Someone told Z that if you pour cheap beer over your pumpkin, it keeps the squirrles at bay.

But that doesn’t even work on most of my friends, so I’m a little skeptical.

Unlike my friends, however, the squirrels are more discerning, so they become appalled when they find you’re not serving the good stuff.

I suspect they’ll come around, though.

I saw a couple of them climbing up my tree, listing a bit to the right.

Romney supporters, no doubt.

So we’re ready for Halloween, snow or no.

The truck dropped off our 10,000 pounds of candy the other day.

Which will be gone before 8 PM.

And some of it will go to the kids.

I mentioned last year, that our neighborhood is invaded by just about every kid in town…I guess because of its ghoulish reputation.

And the ghoul’s really eat that up…I mean the reputation…not the trick or treaters.

That would be wrong.

I mean it’s not like it’s still the 17th century.

Today we have laws…and cable…which apparently has no laws.

Wendy, the cute witch next door, says she hasn’t boiled anything human in her cauldron for years.

Too much toil and trouble with the health department.

So she microwaves…..

Nah…I’m kidding.

Who really cooks anything in a microwave other than popcorn and frozen veggies.

So there’s that.

I even saw the werewolves, hanging some decorative cobweb around their front porch the other day, so maybe that whole messy situation is in the past.

I guess time will tell.

We’ll see how things fall after the full moon on Monday.

Fingers crossed.

Wait…the squirrels are ringing the bell.

They’re demanding something more seasonal; a bit more hoppy.

Beer snobs….

 


 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Directionally Speaking





 
 
I’m a little stubborn when it comes to asking for directions.

In the past, I would happily drive in circles, or drive 40 miles in the wrong direction, before I’d finally give in, turn the car around and get myself back to where I started…only to drive 40 miles in the other direction.

But maybe that’s just a guy thing.

Or maybe just this guy’s thing.

Not sure.

What I am sure about is, I don’t like to ask for directions…and Z tends to frown on that...a lot...among the various other things she does to express her displeasure with this behavior…like jumping out of the car and calling for a cab.

But, ever since I downloaded my GPS, Michele, to my phone, those types of problems are pretty much behind us.

Plus Michelle is a cheap date on road trips.

She always orders from the Prix Fixe menu.

On the other hand, it might surprise you to learn that if someone stops and asks me for directions, I’m very cordial and considerate—to a fault—towards any and all wayward travelers that happen to cross my path.

And I get stopped A LOT…mostly because I’m out on the road walking once or twice a day…and for some reason people think walkers are the towns Sherpa’s.

So I take my responsibility very seriously…mapping out in my head, not just the quickest route, but the easiest route as well.

If I’ve learned anything from Michelle, I’ve learned that the best route is not always the easiest…especially if it involves driving under water.

I take my responsibility so seriously, in fact, that at first there’s always a short brain freeze period, where I’m not even sure what street I’m standing on.

Then…panicked, I start to spew out the names of any street and locale I can think of, trying desperately to get my bearings.

However, sometimes these streets and locales might not even be located in this country, let alone this town, so it can instill a little doubt in the misdirected driver’s eye.

“Are you sure I turn east at the Berlin Wall?”

Usually, after a few uncomfortable seconds, I’m able to right myself.  Plus, I find if I offer them coffee and a nice selection of donuts—which I always carry in a fanny pack, just for this reason—I’m able to regain their confidence, pretty quickly.

Of course, once I pass along my directional wisdom and send them on their way, I immediately start to doubt myself and begin to worry that maybe I wasn’t as clear as I could’ve been.

Did I tell them two lights or three?

Will they count the light at the corner as one, or ignore it and start at the next light?

If they turn at the second light instead of the third, will they know enough to bear right at the stop sign?

Or will they think the third light is really the second light and stop at the bear?

Did I tell them to make a U turn before they start?

If they do get lost, will they think poorly of me and mock me to the bear…again?

So you can see why I don’t like to ask for directions.

Besides…who am I to put that kind of pressure on a person….

Now if I can only remember where I left Michelle.




 




Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday’s are Tough






Monday’s are tough…for a lot of people.

After a nice, couple of weekend days off, it’s back to the grind…whatever that grind may be.

And not too many people are happy about it.

 
All they see is five looooong days ahead, until they get to the next weekend.

 
Of course, there are some folks who actually love their work, or at least the new Keurig single cup office coffee maker that was just installed…so those people don’t mind Monday.

Even someone like me, who works from home, on his own schedule, is not all that crazy about Monday.

And it really shouldn’t bother me, since to a freelancer, one day is just the same as any other…Saturday and Sunday included.  I’ve even worked on big holidays like Christmas and Flag Day…makes no difference.  If I have a deadline to meet, working on a weekend or a holiday is actually beneficial, since the sooner I get the thing done, the faster I can get back to my desultory ways.

But for some reason, Monday is a different animal, even for the un-scheduled.

For one…listening to all that whining from everyone else, who actually have to leave the house, is draining.

Yeah…I know.

Second…it’s nice to interact on the weekends with other intelligent human beings in the neighborhood.

 
When Monday comes, it’s hard to go back to interacting with the unintelligent human beings that seem to habitat the neighborhood, the rest of the week…

At least that’s what my neighbor tells me.
 
Hey, what'd you expect...it's a Monday.





Friday, October 19, 2012

We the Undecideds







I haven’t caught a lot of the debates, so far.

There are just way too many other things going on these days…plus Tuesday night is my “Dancing with the Stars”, review night.

I’m still trying to uncover the 2-step conspiracy against poor Marie Osmond in season 5.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Still…the truth is out there…somewhere…and I’m going to uncover it.

Anyway, I’ve never been all that political, in the first place.

In the second place, I was a little more political, but that just got me audited.

Now…in the third place…all I’m concerned with, politically speaking, is if my garbage gets picked up and the streets are plowed…especially in the winter.

Oh, and try to keep the foreign wars and police actions to a minimum….

I have to admit, though, the debates are always good television.

A lot of thought and money goes into how these proceedings are staged…but, mostly, they end up with two guys on a stage, behind podiums, with a moderator positioned in front posing provocative questions on issues, both foreign and domestic.

So you can see where the thought money is going.

Occasionally, just to mix it up, of course, they’ll have one of these so called town hall meetings, where they remove the podiums and nothing stands between the candidates except a thin layer of gabardine…to paraphrase, Cosmo Kramer.

This style of debate is always a little more interesting since the candidates are unleashed and free to roam around the stage, as if they were stalking their prey….or about to break out their newest standup comedy routine.

And you have to admit, a lot of us are hoping for a tickle fight to break out…or at least have someone break down and assume a fetal position on the floor.

I guess they could get really creative and throw a cage over the whole thing and make it a tag team debate with the vice presidential candidates stepping in from time to time to pass out water bottles and sneer at each other.

I mean if you really want to produce must see TV….

Truth is, if the candidates haven’t gotten their platforms across to the masses by now, well, I guess it’s fair to say the masses haven’t been paying attention…which is sometimes a problem, especially with masses.

They’re so easily distracted.

And for the most part, a large portion of the masses have already made up their minds about who their voting for, anyway.

For the most part, each candidate is essentially preaching to his or her individual choir, which I find a little disturbing since I don’t think people who routinely sing in churches should have so much influence.

Just saying….

At the end of the day—but, oddly enough, not at the beginning or the middle of the day—no matter what the format, these debates are really just for the folks that are referred to as the ‘Undecideds”.

People like me, who routinely have trouble ordering from the McDonalds breakfast menu.

I mean weren’t we all better off four years ago when our choices were limited to Egg or Sausage McMuffins?

Why do they constantly have to change the menu?

So it’s ironic that it becomes “We the Undecideds” that have these guys doing their own 2-step dances, trying to win us over.

Which, when you think about it, is also kind of scary since, if you’re like me, most of us just vote for the guy with the best hair.

But that’s politics for you.

I mean it’s not like the fate of the free world is hanging in the balance or anything….

Is it?





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You Think You Know a Person








You think you know a person…for a lot of years…even call them friends…even best friends.

 
But you don’t really know a person until you’ve experienced them within seconds of rolling out of bed.

I’ve spent a lot of time, away, with most of my closest friends, both male and female, over the years—even under the years—as was the case, the weekend before last, down at the shore.

So I know them all pretty well by now…and I know which ones I can talk to in the morning and with which ones I should avoid making eye contact.

It’s really not all that difficult. There are just a few tell-tale clues to be aware of when they first step out of their rooms and into the general population; a population that consist of people that, for the most part, they only see in social situations…when they’re at their best.

Are they cheerful or sullen?

Talkative or quiet?

PJ’d or fully clothed?

Coiffed or un-coiffed?

Coffee drinkers or tea drinker?

Coffee demanders or coffee makers?

Coffee snobs…or…just inject the caffeine right into my vein people?

Little things like that.

However, should you miss these subtle clues there are some other, even more surreptitious, signs you can detect…if you’re stealthy.

Does anyone suddenly start speaking in tongue, when you enthusiastically wish them a “Good Morning.”

Speaking in tongue, in any social situation, is not good.

Speaking with someone else’s tongue is even worse…in any situation, social or not.  So you might want to give those particular folk some time to wake up before you put on your happy sunshine face.

If you really want to get to know a person, walk by their room and check to see if their bed is neatly made…or piled with rolled up sheets.

Did they sleep the peaceful contended sleep of angels or did they twist and turn, all night long, fighting whatever demons walk through their dreams?

Is there’s a sticky green substance stuck to the walls, and the shadowy impression of several disenfranchised saints on the curtains? If so, then it would probably be a good idea not to approach this person, either, at least until after 10.

Of course, the shared bathroom is always a good source of character defining moments among friends.

Like if they knock you over and step on your chest to get to the door before you.

Who enters and emerges in full hazmat gear carrying a bucket of nuclear disinfectant solution?

Who leaves their toothbrush balancing on the corner of the sink, with toothpaste residue dripping off the bristles?

Who leaves your toothbrush balancing on the corner of the sink, with toothpaste residue dripping off the bristles?

Little things, like that can really help you fill in the blanks.

But, in the end, personal quirks aside, I guess the truest indicator as to how well we really know a person is to look back at the accumulated years of friendship, and measure that against all else.

Woody Allen said it best in this quote from “Annie Hall” 

It reminds me of that old joke- you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken. Then the doc says, why don't you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs.
 

Think about it…..


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Zombies are Stirring







We’re at the mid October point, and things are really starting to come to life.

I mean literally, coming to life, as in the Zombies across the street, starting to stir.

Yep…it’s that time of year again and they’re chomping at the bit…which is always disturbing.

I mean they are Zombies, even if they are my neighbors.

If you’ve been following the Retort for a while, you’re familiar with my experiences with the local undead.

I first wrote about them last year.

How, after all this time, they’ve become so in vogue again that all they do is shuffle around town with big heads.

Which, in and of itself, is kind of obnoxious, but what’s worse is that most of the time they’re not even their own big heads.

Zombies….

 
If you have been paying attention—and granted, I know that’s a stretch of an assumption—you also know that for some reason my neighborhood has more than its fair share of ghouls residing in it.

 
Vampires, witches, werewolves…all on the same block.

Not sure why….

Maybe because it’s close to the park.

Everyone likes being close to the park.

Well, except for the werewolves.

The werewolves hate the park…mostly because there’s a no dog rule, and if a full moon should happen to rise, unexpectedly, they get a lot of dirty looks from the other park patrons.


Which is unfair….

I mean they’re wolves, not dogs.

But most people don’t differentiate.

That’s just how it is.

They see fur and they immediately see dog and call the cops.

Or worse, grab a stick and a torch and start chasing them, themselves.

There’s nothing sadder than to see a family of werewolves, enjoying a nice evening, minding their own business, chewing on a piece of chicken—so what if it’s uncooked…and maybe a little still alive—one minute, and then, due to no fault of their own, other than an unwanted sensitivity to lunar influences, transmogrify, and spend the rest of the evening being chased by people with torches and sticks.

I mean the sticks are one thing…but torches…really?

A bit melodramatic in my opinion.

But that’s how people are.

And the rest of the ghouls are no better.

They’re just happy it’s not them.

Especially the Zombies, who are already putting up the spook house on their front yard.

You know…in front of their real house that’s actually pretty much like any other house on the block, which you might find surprising.

They actually have one of the nicest lawns on the street.

I think it’s got something to do with the special kind of fertilizer they use.

If they see a dead spot, they just shave a little necrotic skin off one of their own limbs—or whoever’s limb they happen to have on them at the time—and by the next day, the grass is vibrant and alive.

Ironic, huh?

How are the rest of us supposed to compete with that?

It’s actually kind of fun, though, to watch them construct this house of horrors, every year.

Zombies have notoriously bad communications skills.

You almost never hear a Zombie talking.  They mostly just nudge and gnash their teeth a lot.

So there’s a lot of bumping into one another, banged thumbs and knocks on the head.

Which, for a Zombie, is not a good thing since they can be a little fragile…both physically and emotionally.

And if you’ve ever seen a Zombie cry, well…you know what I’m talking about.

But the hissy fits don’t last long. If they drop an arm or a leg, they’ll just grab another one, even if it’s still attached to another Zombie.

Gotta love this time of year….

 

More From the Archive of Retort



 

 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Seeing Face







 
 
A few weeks back, this is what my horoscope said to me.

You will never be able to actually gaze upon your own face. You may of course see a reasonable likeness of it in mirrors, photos, and videos. But the real thing will always be forever visible to everyone else, but not you. No matter how sincere you may be in your efforts to see yourself clearly, there will always be fuzziness, misapprehensions, and ignorance.

Now, granted, it’s just a horoscope, I know; an internet horoscope to boot. So I shouldn’t be too quick to take offense, seeing as horoscopes have very little experience in the way of social graces. Most horoscopes I know, barely leave the house, let alone get involved in conversations.

But there it is…a smug little foretelling, implying that I’ve been living under some sort of a delusion…like the time I told myself I could pull off skinny jeans.

That was no delusion…I could…I did.

At least until I ate that Twinkie.

Then I couldn’t.

After that Twinkie I couldn’t pull my skinny jeans off…nor on.

Luckily the fire department has all those special tools.

Truth is, there’re a lot of body parts I can’t see, and really don’t want to, with or without a mirror.

My elbows for one…or two.

Who wants to look at their elbows, especially when they resemble Peter Lorre in "The Maltese Falcon".

Or the back of my knees.

Who wants to look at the back of their knees?

It’s bad enough I have to see the front of my knees.

But when it comes to my face I have no delusions whatsoever…whether I can see it clearly or not, the way other people see it.

When it comes to my face, I’m no different than anyone else…I have two eyes, two eyebrows—which I can now tie into twin pony tails—two ears, a mouth—sometimes smart…sometimes not so smart—a nose and that peculiar little hair, with a life of its own—not to mention a cell phone—that sprouts from the side of said nose, from time to time, when I’m not looking.

So not seeing my face in the flesh is probably a plus.

Not that I haven’t tried…I have.

But trying to see your own face is hard on the eyes….

I mean, literally hard on the eyes.

You can only stretch them so far before it starts to look weird.

And then what’s the point of looking at a weird face.

The best I can comfortably get a peek at, without too many gyrations, is the tip of my nose.

Sometimes, even a nostril.

But there’s not a lot of upside to looking in your nostril…unless you have a cold.

But even then….

So I’m content to just look at my mirrored reflection and see myself backwards.

I just compensate by talking backwards, which is probably why everyone says I mumble.

And I don’t like looking at myself on video or film…never have.

I’m not sure who that guy is, but it’s not me.

I don’t cock my head like that or make those weird faces in between sentences.

I don’t know how movie actors can look at themselves on those 40 foot screens.

I mean the poster I have of myself pasted onto the side of the garage is only 20 feet tall and I’m just barely comfortable with that.

But it looks nice, when the evening light hits it just so.

Especially my face.