Friday, February 28, 2014

Coming Soon

The new and improved Freelance Retort returns this Sunday with...yeah, you got it... yet another peek into the archives...

Followed by 2 new and improved bi-weekly Retorts now featured in realistic...

Nah, nothing's new...same old silliness...just looks better if you wear bad glasses....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Note From Manangement:

In case you've been wondering, the proprietor of The Freelance Retort has been recently preoccupied with otherwise pressing business. 

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may be experiencing throughout this otherwise pressing business period but hope to resume annoying the world within the next week. 

Thank you...that is all....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 2/20/12

"Forlorn February"

Trying to find things to write about in February is like…trying to find an appropriate analogy about February.
There's just nothing there....
I mean once you’ve covered the groundhog and cupid, there’s not much more to talk about....
From 2/20/12:

"Forlorn February"



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Friday, February 14, 2014

That Special Day

Okay…I know it’s a special day today, so I guess I have to write something occasion appropriate.

Something sweet, sentimental and possibly funny…possibly.

But how do you write something that reflects all of that about your yearly visit from the guy who snakes out your sewer line.


He comes every year, on February 14th…ever since I accidently flushed my heart shaped boxers down the toilet a dozen or so years know, when I still had some game.

Now, all I have is a game-like odor…plus a standing appointment for the Rooter guy to come flush out our pipes.

I know…it’s silly, but I actually look forward to his visit every year.

I even mark off the days on the Calendar, once January arrives.

What can I say, there’s just something captivatingly mysterious about the sound of that powerful rotor of his whirling all the way out to the street.

And then the free flowing rush of untapped water, now freed to run with the fishes…whatever the hell that means.

Don’t ask me…I just write it…I don’t explain it.

Of course none of that stacks up against the time, in late March, a few years back, when the power went off in one of those “rare” storms of the century, which rendered our electric sump pump impumpotent, which in turn rendered our entire basement under about 2 feet of water.

Well, actually, only the lower two feet of the basement was under two feet of water…the rest was up above.

But it’s an odd feeling to bring the recycling downstairs only to find your sneakers floating into the laundry room.

My sneakers usually hate the laundry room, ever since one of its laces got caught in the dryer.

The family of ducks that had somehow decided to make a home in our exercise room was nice too…as well as the fact that someone was actually using the exercise room for something other than watching TV, while folding laundry.

Okay, I made that part up.

Z walks on the treadmill in the exercise room almost every night during the winter… and folds the laundry at the same time, while watching TV.

Of course the ducks had other ideas while they were down there.

Apparently Ducks don’t like Jeopardy.

They think Alex Trebeck is haughty.

And I can see that.

Alex can be a little condescending when someone doesn’t answer a question correctly, and ducks don’t like that.

I think because they don’t know the correct answer to anything.

Because they’re ducks.

But Z didn’t mind.

At least as long as the treadmill was under water.

Although she did say the water made it easier on her knees.

But talk about big machines…we were talking about that, weren’t we…sort of?

This whole pack of guys…okay three…show up with these big water suckers and immediately proceeded to pump everything out the door….including the ducks.

And if you think the ducks had a problem with Trebeck, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a duck pop out of the business side of a water sucking hose and wash out onto your neighbor’s driveway.

Then they set up and turn on a bunch of  big old fans and dehumidifiers—the 3 guys, not the ducks— and before you know it, everything in your house is dry as a bone—including you who’s lost about 10 pounds of water weight (always a plus)—but your electricity bill is through the roof.

None of which has anything to do with the “specialness” and significance of this particular day.

Which reminds me…I better get out there and pick up some occasion appropriate items.

A card, some flowers, maybe even some candy.

One year I totally forgot…and boy was there hell to pay.

I thought the Rooter guy would never come back…..

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two Zombies Walk into a Mall

Two Zombies walk into a mall.

The first Zombie says to the second Zombie…    Arrrghumneeift

To which the second Zombie, replies… “Mnmphruton!”

Which causes the first Zombie to spin in a circle and walk into a LensCrafter's where he hands his eyes over to the receptionist, who screams, which causes the second Zombie to convulse with something that might or might not resemble laughter.

 Yeah…so if you can picture that, then you can pretty much figure out how the rest of my day went.

Unbeknownst to me, as I was driving the Zombie across the street to the mall, to go pick out a Valentine for his Mrs., he texted his Zombie friend, who works in the area, to meet us over by the Cinnabon.

Just what I needed…two Zombies…shopping with me at the mall.

Who knew Zombies could text…I mean, have you seen their thumbs…attached or no… have you seen their thumbs?

First thing—and this isn’t unusual—the mall cop pulls up on his little electric scooter thingie.

“Sir, are these Zombies with you?”

“Uhm…yes, well I mean one of them is with me, the other one just showed up.”

“That’s not unusual,” the mall cop says. “First there’s one Zombie, then two, then three…before you know it you’ve got a Zombie apocalypse on your hands.”

“Well, were just gonna run into a couple of stores to pick up a quick Valentine gift for…uhm, for one of their wives”

“Zombies have wives?”

“Sure….sometimes two or three, if that what it takes to put a whole one together.”

The mall cop just shook his head.  Brrrrrrrrr…Zombies just give me the creeps.”

“That’s not uncommon…at least until you get to know them.”

“Hey, you…get off of that vehicle!”

The second Zombie had jumped on the Mall Cop’s little scooter thingie and was pretending to be popping wheelies.

Not wanting to cause a scene, I grabbed my Zombie from across the street, who was thoroughly enjoying the show, and trudged off down the concourse, with a side stop at Spencer’s Gifts, because no Zombie can walk by a Spencer’s without going inside to check out the black light display.

Then, by the time we’re ready to slip out of there, the second Zombie rejoins us and starts staring wistfully into one of the lava lamps.  It seems it reminded him of something; I wasn’t sure what…and to be honest I really didn’t want to know.

We would have been there the rest of the day if I didn’t do something to move things along, so I dragged my Zombie from across the street—literally—down to the Victoria Secret, which was having a Valentine’s Day, “Buy One get One Free”, sale.

Hey, I thought, maybe I can get away with a free V-Day gift for Z. She doesn’t need to know she’s wearing the same underwear as a Zombie…and I know the Zombie isn’t going to catch on.

So we walk in and are immediately greeted by a very young, very pretty saleslady, who doesn’t even flinch at the sight of a Zombie. She shoots a big smile our way and says, “How can I help you handsome gentlemen, today?”

Talk about sales training….

“Hi”, I say, working my best debonair, which is a little south of Sheldon’s on the “Big Bang.”

“We’re looking for a little Valentines something for my, ahem…friend’s wife…you know something to set the mood.”

I’m not completely sure, but I think the Zombie might have blushed and chuckled a little…but that could have just been more of his large intestine collapsing again.

“So what size, would we be looking for?” the sales lady asks, again with the sweetest smile you’ve ever seen.

I look over to the Zombie, trying to catch his eye…but it was already past me…so he just shrugs—again, I think it was a shrug.

“It’s hard to say.” I’m working my best smile now…“Her size changes from day to day…you know…depending on what’s know, for parts.”

“Well, then!” the saleslady says, not missing a beat. “How about one of our Luxury Lady, soft plushy bathrobes…perfect for every size, shape and species!”

The Zombie is spinning in a circle now, which I decide to take as a sign of affirmation, so I say, ‘”Great…it’s still buy one get one free, though, right?”

“Absolutely…will that be cash or charge!”

I look over to the Zombie, who was suddenly nowhere to be found, and it immediately hits me…he doesn’t have any credit cards…or cash on him. What was I thinking?

So I reluctantly hand over my own. “Uhm…I  guess you better just put it on my Visa.”

And then I see the other Zombie is back and they’re both outside the store, trying to cut the line at the Fro-Yo stand, across the way.

“What did I tell you about boundaries?” I shout.

“And make mine a Chocolate...with crunchies and nuts….”  

See Part 1 - "A Zombie Valentine"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 2/13/12


For some the good news is...Valentine's Day is

For some the bad news is...Valentine's Day is Friday....

And for the rest...Valentine's Day is Friday....

Those are the facts...

YOU decide....

From 2/13/12:

The Valentine Conspiracy

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Zombie Valentine

So I'm, outside cleaning off the last of the icy areas on my frozen driveway.

It’s been a hard winter around here—actually around a lot of "wheres"—and the fact that we're only a week into February is not a very comforting thought.

The groundhog announced another six weeks, guaranteed, and if you can’t believe a little furry rodent, who can you believe?

I find it best at times like these, endlessly hacking away at chunks of ice and snow, to just disappear inside my head, but only as a last resort, when my neighbor’s head, which is way more interesting than mine, is unavailable.

I had just finished smashing up a particularly troublesome encrustation with an ice chopper, when I turned back to grab my shovel and, speaking of encrustations, what do I find standing within inches of my nose, but one of the Zombies across the street.


Now, normally, I wouldn’t have been surprised by this, having grown used to the Zombie's lack of awareness when it comes to respecting personal space issues, but I can usually smell them coming…unless of course, as in this case, the thermometer is well below freezing, which tends to mask the de-comp.

Anyway, there we are, nose to nose…or nose to…whatever remains where a nose used to be…and to make matters worse, he’s smiling…and if you’ve ever seen a Zombie smile…well, let’s just say that in itself can be unsettling.

“Hey there…uh, you…whatcha been up to,” was all I could think to say, which was not very smart since I’ve learned it’s best to not to really know what  a Zombie has been up to, plus, once you engage them in conversation, you could be stuck there for hours trying to make sense of what they’re trying to communicate. I think it’s because they try to avoid sibilants in conversation since they’ve learned the hissing sound tends to disturb people.
It’s always the same old issues with Zombies—I won’t bore you with the details— but this time I was actually a little surprised by what this Zombie was looking for.

In a nut shell, he wanted me to take him to the mall and help him do some Valentine’s shopping for the Mrs.

Yep…you read that right…Valentine’s shopping.

Apparently things have been falling apart between him and the little woman for a while now, ever since…well, ever since things literally started falling apart between them.

A finger here, an ear there…even the aforementioned nose.

And, despite what you might think, Zombies aren’t that much different from the rest of us when it comes to vanity.  Once the sagging and the drooping sets in…well, you know how disquieting that can be to one’s self esteem…especially if you have to listen to all of those “Ghoul” whispers, everywhere you shuffle.

Like I said, it can be difficult to understand Zombies, so it took me a few minutes before I gathered that the heart shaped drawing he kept waving in my face was some sort of a clue.

Sure, I know what you’re thinking…what kind of an idiot can’t equate Valentine’s with a heart shape, but, in my defense, Zombies suck when it comes to symbolism, and this particular heart shape drawing was anatomically correct, right down to the mitral valve…and to be honest, the more I thought about it, I was lucky it was only a drawing.

‘The mall?” I said. “Are you sure you want to try the mall again? That didn’t exactly work out for you, the last time.”

Again, like I said before, Zombies have a problem with personal space issues, which sometimes translates into cutting lines, and then, before you know it, there’s a ruckus at the soft pretzel stand that turns into—

You know, what’s done is done. No sense digging it up again.

I can see I’ve hit on something now because the Zombie excitedly flops his head up and down in affirmation, which always makes me feel a bit anxious, because…well, you just never know.

“Okay...I’ll take you to the mall.  What are you thinking of buying?”

The Zombie just shrugs…I think.

Great, I thought to myself…this is going to take all day….

Then he starts doing this odd thing with his hands on his hips, which I take to mean he might be interested in some sort of lacey lingerie, which I find a little creepy, but hey, who am I to judge.

 Live and let live…or, well…you know.

Turns out, it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything because that wasn’t even the case. One of his hips was actually popping out of its socket, which happens with Zombies, and he was just pushing it back in.

“Okay…hop in the car. I hope you have money for parking.”

The Zombie just looks at me.

Right…when has a Zombie ever sprung for parking?

See Part 2- "Two Zombies Walk into a Mall"


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Have Faith

I had a bunch of atheists over the other night to tell them all about my vacation...but none of them believed a word I said.

So annoying….

But not so much as the group of agnostics that are in my book club. All they ever say is, “I don’t think so, I’m not sure, I don’t know…I could be persuaded, maybe, if you say so….”


I know…sort of…maybe....

Then I had to drop off a cake at my friend’s daughter’s christening…or maybe it was a batmitzva…not sure…but it was something religious...and a lot of the folks I was talking to weren't paying attention or just didn't understand a thing I was going on about.  But they said they’d take me at my word…which was nice.

So they’re all exasperating…in their own way.

But the Atheists seem to have the best taste in liquor.

Not sure why.

Okay…did I manage to annoy just about everyone?

Because it’s always my hope to be an equal opportunity annoyance.

But you have to admit, there’s no more interesting debate than religion…and politics.

And if you can figure out a way to combine the two, which is becoming more and more prevalent these days…then you’ve really got something.

For the most part the circle I travel in doesn’t really get into any of those kinds of issues.

They have their own politics and personal faiths, and for the most part keep them to themselves.

In fact, except for a small minority, I couldn’t tell you where most of my friends stand on almost any pertinent issue.

Of course some of them give it away when they wear their Duck Dynasty beards out to dinner, but their husbands are usually able to talk some sense into them and get them to take them off, at least during desert.

The funny thing is I grew up with most of my closest friends. Went to school with them—Catholic schools, at that—knew their parents, siblings, cats and dogs…but none of us ever discussed much, other than sports, movies, TV...other cats and dogs…and did I mention sports.

Typical boys will be boys type chatter, but not much more.

I’m not sure why that is...maybe because we wanted to remain friends.

But I have my views on politics and pews, and other such things, so occasionally I’ll try to throw them into the mix, but it doesn’t really seem to matter. They’ll all just look at me and roll their eyes, then tell me I’m being argumentative and condescending…which I usually take offense at, because I’m not—I’m right— and I’m just smarter than everyone else.

So it never really seems to take.
Not sure why....

Plus, whenever I bring up some controversial topic or another at a friendly gathering, Z will usually zip my lip for me, if I don’t myself, which aside from being painful, is a terrible waste of Onion Dip, dropped on a person’s head.

But maybe all this polite neutrality, or at least considered conviviality, is a good thing…wasted onion dip, aside.

These matters usually just end up with lots of unfounded accusations, name calling, hurt feelings and me not being invited back to anyone’s house for months at a time…you know, because of all the above.

So I guess the thing I’ve learned over time, and flavored sour cream, is it’s not all that important to wear your heart on your sleeve—even if you KNOW that other's are lost, misguided, simple minded (oops...sorry)as long as you know it’s your heart and your sleeve.

Sure….you gotta have faith in whatever it is you believe…even if it’s nothing, or something beyond explaining

And the more faith you have in that faith or non-faith, then the less you should care about what other people think.

If you stand on solid ground, are firm of mind and spirit, no manner of storm can take your castle down.

And if you’re not…then I guess that’s what Facebook and Twitter are for….

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 1/27/12

Here's something I wrote back at the end of January, 2012...which accounts for all the references to 2012.

But it still holds true today...mostly because things that make no sense rarely lose their shine....

See, what I mean....

From 1/27/12:

"Risk Taker"