Book Review: Dialogues Of A Crime – by John K. Manos

It’s taken me two years to finally sit down and write a review of this book. That’s far too long. It’s too good of a book to have waited that long. I think I was so moved by it and enjoyed it so much, that writing about it was difficult for me. As it happens, author John Manos is a family friend whom I’ve know for essentially my entire life; at least, I’ve known him for as long as I can remember. He used to teach me chords to Buddy Holly songs on his electric guitar in the Evanston home he shares with his wife Leah. Seeing an electric guitar was an amazing novelty to me back then, let alone having the chance to actually hold and play one. Many, many years later, John and I would have the opportunity to perform with our respective bands on the same stage, on the same bill. That was a pretty big deal for me. I suspect it might’ve been pretty cool for him, too.

John and my father worked together for decades, and for more than just a single company. It’s safe to say that watching the interaction between the two of them over the years has had a major influence on who I am today. Their combined sense of humor always made my younger self wish I was old enough to work with them. They always seemed to make work fun for themselves, and their employees. As fate would have it, I eventually did have this opportunity for a brief period shortly before graduating college. I worked as an intern at the financial magazine for which John was editor-in-chief. Meanwhile, my father was editor-in-chief of its sister publication, and worked out of the same offices. I don’t think I appreciated it at the time, but it was a pretty great period in my life. As a kid I would revel in watching my dad and John play on company softball teams together and have a blast at company picnics, and now here I was, playing right along side them.

Dialogues of a Crime

With all of that said, I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that the main character of this book is named Michael. (You know, ’cause that’s my name.) But I’m not here to speculate. The story opens in the mid-1970’s when Michael is a relatively average 19-year-old college student. Like many college students regardless of the decade, Michael dabbled in marijuana. But unlike most of us, his experimentation experiences lead to him being arrested for assisting in the sale of the drug. Basically he unknowingly directed an undercover cop to the dorm room of a student who was selling.

Michael has a childhood friend who’s father happens to be a very important member of a Chicago mafia family. He’s powerful enough to have easily saw to it that Michael never see any time in jail. But Michael’s father is a proud man and refuses to let his son be associated with a known crime boss. Between this pride and the low-income situation Michael and his family find themselves, Michael ends up taking a deal that ultimately does send him to jail. Of course this, mixed with the violent events that Michael faces while locked up, proceed to alter the course of Michael’s life.

Eventually, we move forward in Michael’s timeline and meet him again as he works as a mild-mannered professional living in Chicago. Of course, his past catches up with him as a bizarre series of events unfold, introducing a mystery which falls into the lap of a Chicago police detective who, naturally, has his own demons. The solving of the mystery almost takes a back seat to the amazing character studies and relationship development between several of the characters within the story, not the least of which involves the detective.

Honestly, this book had the potential to become completely cliche. As I sit here describing it, I’m becoming even more aware of how easy it would have been to fall into that writer’s trap. Obviously, having been close with the author for more than three-and-a-half decades, I wanted this to be a masterpiece. But my fear was that it would be trite, trivial, and poorly executed. Of course, again from having known John for so long, I should have known better than to worry. John has always been a character in his own right, and it wouldn’t be in his nature to publish something less than masterful. Is this novel a masterpiece? I don’t know if I can say that, but it is literally one of the only books I’ve ever read that made me openly cry. There’s a very moving scene between Michael and the mafia boss that was so well crafted and so delicately written, that before I knew what was happening I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I’ve read a lot of great, moving books over the years. There was a time that I devoured books with such voracity I would plow through two or three of ’em a week. During that time, I was certainly moved to laughter, and to sadness, but I don’t recall ever having been moved to tears. Dialogues of a Crime moved me to tears.

It might have been a combination of the joy I felt as I became more and more engrossed in this work of art that my friend had created mixed with a little bit of it being emotionally the “right time, right place” for that particular scene to move me. But regardless, there’s something to be said for any writer and his ability to garner a physical response like that. It’s an impressive feat.

Best of all is that the story’s conclusion is immensely gratifying. It’s a strange combination of what you almost want/expect, mixed with a touch of “what the hell…?” But John creates the finale with such grace and finesse, it works perfectly. It’s a Hollywood ending with Chicago flavor. Part of what makes it work so well is the culmination of the character’s cultivation within their respective relationships. Given some of the unspeakable scenarios that occur (which I’ve intentionally left out of this review) the need for a sense of closure with each of the main players is a necessity. But more importantly, it’s almost as if it gives the reader a chance to sort of decompress with the characters themselves. If written any differently, I fear we’d all put the book down left with little more than a case of the Bends.

This is so much more than just a great story, or an enthralling mystery. It’s an investigation into the human psyche as much as it is a look into the penal system, or the world of organized crime. It almost takes reader involvement to a new level of interaction. As I read the book, I found times where I actually put it down in order to ponder philosophical questions which were raised by the story. Seriously, what more could a person want out of a book?

I actually don’t know if my friend John has any other manuscripts in the works, I hope he does. And frankly, knowing him, I’m certain he does. I know I’m eager to read what’s next. In the meantime, I’ll have to reread this one again.

Encouragement for Marathoners

I just got an email from my cousin Jess. Her husband Chris ran in a Seattle Marathon recently and she sent a pic of him with some of the family after the race. It’s always sort of inspiring to me to hear of people accomplishing physical feats such as a marathon or a triathlon. I’m impressed with these individuals because they’re doing something that I’m pretty sure that I’ll never achieve. Feats of strength and endurance simply aren’t for me. I tend to gravitate more toward feats of discontinuance. Like that week where I left every beer I opened with about three or four mouthfuls still at the bottom. It was a difficult task to attempt. And needless to say, I couldn’t stay with it. Once I got into the second week, I had to start finishing those beers.

Anyway, after reading my cousin’s email, I felt like I wanted to be involved in Chris’s next marathon experience. So I volunteered myself to be his personal motivator. I thought that it might be helpful to have someone there to offer up encouragement. So my idea is to rent a moped for the day, and follow him along on the marathon route.

I’m keeping a list of things to yell out that will be sure to push Chris as he toils in the race. Here are some examples of what I’m coming up with:

“Run faster you lazy-gaited sissy-strider!”

“You call that running? I’ve seen 75-year-old refrigerators run better than that!”

“My moped is running outta gas. Let’s stop at that Marathon gas station over there. Here’s 20 bucks. Run in and get me 10 bucks of gas and a Red Bull. And I want my change!”

“From back here you sorta look like Melanie Griffith.”

“Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Right. Right. Get up, slacker!”

“So then in my third senior year of college I was sorta dating this chick named Sparkles. Her eyes really did sparkle, too! But that was more on account of the bad case of Fungal Keratitis that she acquired somehow. But as a result of her poor eye sight, her other senses were heightened dramatically. Especially her sense of entitlement. Eventually, we had to go our separate ways, but I’ll never forget her scent. She emanated an odor not unlike a rose bush covered with stink bugs, lit on fire, thrown into a bathtub full of hair, and extinguished with a spray of the juice drained from fifty cans of tuna. I miss Sparkles.”

“Pick up the pace, there Prancer. Rudolph is waitin’ for you!”

“Ever hear the song by Bruce Springsteen called ‘Born to Run?’ Yeah. I didn’t think so.”

“Gettin’ tired yet? C’mon, I know you are. Look, there’s an Applebee’s. Let’s get some margaritas.”

“Your shoelace is untied! Just kidding. No, really, it is. Ha. Just kidding.”

“Remember that lady in the Olympics that ran with no shoes on? Remember when she knocked down Mary Decker Slaney and Mary Decker Slaney fell to the infield and started crying? Remember that? The lady without the shoes was named Zola Budd. Remember that? Zola Budd. What a great name. Maybe you should change your name to Zola Budd. You’ll have to take off your shoes though. Remember that Olympics though? It was ’84. You know what else happened in ’84? Yep. That’s right! The Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers played the longest game in MLB history! The 25-inning affair was played over a two day period and lasted 8 hours and 6 minutes. That’s almost as long as it took you to get through the first three miles of this race! How ’bout less slacking and crying and more running, Mary Decker! I’m starving!”

“You run like Nathan Lane with both legs asleep.”

“Push it! C’mon! You can do it! You’re doing great! That’s it. You look great from back here! You should be proud. Keep up with those long strides. Fantastic! That’s it, keep it — Chris, will you shut it back there! I’m helping this young lady with her form — that’s it! Long strides. Let your body rise and fall heavily with each step! Great! That’s just great! Oh yeah!”

“Dude! I’m so bored back here! Lemme use that walkman for awhile, will you? I’ve got a Lionel Ritchie cassette I’d like to listen to.”

“Oh, sweet! There’s a UPS store over there. Let’s run in and pick up some bubble wrap.”

“Aw, look! You just got lapped by Cate!” (Chris’s three-and-three-quarter year old daughter.)

Doesn’t it sorta bring a tear to your eye to think about one man doing so much to help and encourage a fellow man as he participates in a grueling event that tests the body, along with the mind and spirit. But please, don’t embarrass me with praise for my efforts. Just pay it forward. Use these gems of encouragement to help along someone that you love.

Pay it forward.
And let us remember what a wise man once said:

“Sorry about the mess”
-Han Solo

Phrases Sure to Catch On

I’m sick of phrases like “jump the shark,” and “wardrobe malfunction,” and “quit grabbing my breasts.” It’s time we got some new phrases out there. Call them catchphrases, if you will, call them whatever you like, but the American vernacular needs some enlivening, and I’m just the self-proclaimed English Language guru to do it.

Shank the Shank – I’m sick of people saing “yada, yada, yada.” It was funny for a few days in nineteen-ninety-whatever when it first appeared on Seinfeld. Now it’s just old and overplayed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Seinfeld, but, I could probably write a whole post about over-used Seinfeldisms. For example, when discussing homosexuality, quit saying “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” We all know you’re a homophobe. Saying that isn’t the get-out-of-foot-in-mouth-jail card that it once was. And so many people are openly gay these days, that it’s not even as tabboo of a subject as it was when that episode appeared. So just quit it already!

Cheek Breeze – To pass gas. To break wind. A fart. For example: Whoa boy, someone crack a window! I’ve got a wicked case of cheek breeze over here.

Hold the Turkey – This would be what we might exclaim when we can’t believe something. It could replace, “hold the phone,” or “wait a second.” Example: Hold the turkey! He said he had sex with who?

Squirt the Tube – Get bent out of shape. Example: Dude, just because I tattooed a picture of Bea Arthur on your thigh while you were asleep is no reason to squirt the tube!

Jerking the Shaleighleigh – Hooking and/or slicing in golf. This will be the generic term used to describe either of these unwanted, yet all too common, end results of a golf swing. Example: I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’m lined up straight, my grip seems to be good, the hips are following through, but yet I’m still jerking the shaleighleigh.

Mash and Go – This is a bit confusing, so stay with me. You know when you want to say something to someone but you don’t want to be overheard? Yes, well of course one would generally whisper in those moments. But there are certain times when whispering feels like it would almost be more conspicuous than talking normally. So as a result, we almost end up raising our voices while speaking our statements in a garbled manner, thereby generally drawing more attention to ourselves than we realize, even though we think we’re being totally sneaky. That would be what’s known as a mash and go.

Disco – I’ve always like this as means of salutation. It could actually work a lot like “aloha,” where it means both hello and good bye. Example:
YOU: Hey there, Mikey! Wassup?
ME: Disco! You going to that show at Shuba’s tonight?
YOU: Totally. I heard that Gigolo Tony plans to be there.
ME: Have his eyebrows grown back yet?
YOU: Nah. But his nose is almost back to normal.
ME: Well that’s good.
YOU: Seriously. He was starting to look like a butt cheek with a squash stuck to it.
ME: Of all the comparisons to make, that’s what you come up with?
YOU: What?
ME: Nevermind. I’ll see you at the show. Later, dude.
YOU: Disco.

Cellchop – Any of the millions of freakin’ idiots whose use of a cell phone in a public place pisses me off in any way. This includes, but is certainly not limited to the following:

  • People driving 10 MPH below the speed limit.
  • People in restaurants who make the server wait to take their order because they’re in the middle of telling someone that they’re wearing pink socks today, isn’t that cool!?
  • People on the train or bus or wherever who don’t seem to mind that they’re broadcasting to everyone within earshot that they shacked up with some random dude the night before.
  • People driving who don’t recongnize that the light’s turned green.
  • People in line at a grocery store, or Dominick’s or someplace who completely ingnore anything the cashier says to them because they’re too busy discussing how they found a great new flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream called Mint Chocolate Holy Shit I’m Not Fat Enough So I Should Probably Eat More Freakin’ Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Swirl.
  • People at a concert talking to a friend who couldn’t make it who hold up the phone so that they can hear the show. Stupid!
  • People driving at all while on the phone. It just drives me nuts. Mostly, because 97% of you can’t drive without a phone stuck to your ear, let alone while gabbing about something that would undoubtedly piss me off even more were I able to hear it. If one of you kills me, I’m really gonna be pissed.

Spinniferous Salivation – That weird tasting and particularly gooey type of saliva that gathers in your mouth when you feel like you’re gonna be sick. It usually occurs at about three or four in the morning after a night of partying and the room won’t stop spinning. Although it can occur after getting off the Tilt-a-Whirl as well.

I think that’s a pretty good start. Feel free to come up with your own expressions that you might like to see worked into everyday vernacular. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Another letter from a reader (The Mr. Boffo Incident)

I recently received the following letter from a fan:

Dear Mikey,
Please don’t laugh at me, but I’m one of 2,485 Americans that suffer from a very rare brain condition called Nogetus DeBoffo Disease. There is still very little known about this strange condition, but what we do know is shocking. Almost immediately upon the onset of the disease, the carrier of the condition ceases to maintain the capacity to understand single-panel comic strips such as Ziggy, The Lockhorns, Family Circus, and of course, the strip for which the disease is named, Mr. Boffo.

It is not known what causes this condition to take over the mind of such a select few individuals in this country. But a group of doctors working in conjuction with the Tribune Syndicate has developed a theory. It appears that through their extensive research, it has been determined that readers of the funny pages who tend to read their strips in a particular order have been exposed to a combination of eye stimulants that, individually, would be harmless to the human receptors, but combined, they form a deadly mixture of ink, newspaper grain, and adoloscent humor that can be crippling to the brain’s primordial lobe region.

But there is a separatist movement in the medical field which has seen a small cluster of doctors coming out against the aforementioned theory. This group of doctors, known simply as The Mary Worths believe that the problem is genetic. They believe that an extremely miniscule percentage of newborns are brought into this world missing one-twenty-fifth of their humor chromosome. The Mary Worths hope to prove this theory through extensive stem cell research.

The fact remains, Mikey, that I am one of the unfortunate souls who has spent his whole life traumatized by his inability to grasp those simplest of life’s little pleasures. And that pleasure is the single-panel comic. You can’t possibly know what it’s like to find yourself gathered around the office coffee maker as everyone admires the new Ziggy cartoon that someone posted on the company bulletin board. Faking a laugh can be a traumatic experience in its own right, and I challenge anyone to live in constant fear of the inevitible happening: “Hey there everyone, let’s see if Greg can tell us why this Ziggy cartoon is so darn funny! Greg?”

I can’t take it another day. So in a last ditch effort to keep from flinging myself into a wood chipper, I’ve enclosed a few single-panel comics in the hopes that you might be able to help me wrap my tiny little brain around them. I have no where else to turn. Please, can you help?

Not Gettin’ It Greg

Dear Not Gettin’ It,

It just so happens that this is a field in which I am a trained expert. You’ve come to the right place. Let’s get right to it.

Clearly, poor Ziggy lost his luggage. Upon inquiring about its whereabouts, he’s informed by the friendly customer support representative that his luggage was sent to another country. Once again, poor Ziggy finds insult added to injury when it’s determined that the French luggage collectors actually became offended at the sight of Ziggy’s luggage, and decided that the best course of action would be to throw it away, rather than send it back to the place from whence it came. This is funny for several reasons: 1) Ziggy just has no luck with anything, let alone luggage; 2) the stereotype that the French are arrogant snobs is perpetuated with some effectiveness; and 3) the woman relaying the information about Ziggy’s luggage is doing so with a high level of earnestness, thus providing a subtle undertone of implied irony. But really, it just comes down to Ziggy’s penchant for bad luck.

Moving on:

This one is particularly funny. Let us break down why. For starters, it is expected that the reader know and understand that Don Juan was a man well-known for his ability to woo and bed women on a regular basis. It is expected that the reader recognize that Don Juan was a master of turning a seductive phrase at the most romantic of moments, thus rendering his female prey unable to resist his charms. However, what cartoonist Joe Martin has done here is substitute his Uncle Leon for Don Juan. The first reason this is funny, is because Uncle Leon is a much funnier sounding name than Don Juan. Secondly, the reader is expected to infer that Uncle Leon is still lamenting about the missed field goal that cost his team the big game (presumably the missed 45-yarder by Mike Vanderjagdt which cost the Indianapolis Colts a trip to the 2006 Superbowl, a game ultimately won by the team at whose hands the Colts were dealt defeat, the Pittsburgh Steelers). Thirdly, this is not the sort of question one would normally expect a gentleman to ask a lady when he is attempting to win her affection. Finally, the ultimate punch-line occurs when the reader accepts that this alternate-universe that Joe Martin created is one in which a line about the what-should-have-beens of NFL football serve as a spoken aphrodesiac. Ah, if only this world was real, and our current reality just a cartoon.


Mr. Lockhorn has arrived home from work and he’s hungry. His statement implies that his wife, Loretta, isn’t much of a cook. That’s pretty funny.

Last but not least:

I think we can all relate to this one. What we’re dealing with here is a play on words. The author of the comic is drawing a comparison to real human life. As it happens, there are things out there called “gay bars.” These are establishments at which people of a certain tendency tend to gather. In this case, it’s assumed that dogs that don’t wear collars are considered a different breed of dog. They tend to sniff the butts of the same mutts, if you get my drift. They use the fire hydrant as more than just a deposit point, if you see what I’m saying. These are dogs that often travel in fudge packs, if you take my meaning. Therefore, it just makes sense that they should have their own drinking establishment. This is funny because these two collar-wearing breeder dogs have wandered into a bar in which they don’t belong. Good stuff.

Okay, one more:

Ziggy has been drinking and doesn’t recognize a quality television program when he sees one. In this episode of CSI: Sesame Street Big Bird was shot and killed while attempting to thwart a robbery at Mr. Hooper’s liquor store. But Ernie suspects that the case isn’t as cut and dry as that. With the help of The Count, Ernie discovers that there were one…two…three…four…FOUR bullet casings on the floor of Mr. Hooper’s liquor store, ah hahahaha! Ernie takes these to Oscar who determines that they were fired from the same small caliber, nickel-plated .22 caliber handgun that was discarded in his garbage can by a large, brown, furry, four-legged muppet with a trunk not unlike an elephant’s, and a tendency to be self-loathing and depressed all the time. Brothers and bail bondsmen Cookie and Telly Monster arrive at the home of one “Snuffy” Snufalupagus and inform him of their intention to present him to the authorities. Snuffy goes cooperatively, and is placed in a holding cell. While in the cage, Snuffy finds himself in a mortal tussle with his cell mate, Grover the Glove, known assassin. Grover was picked up selling counterfeit letter G’s in the alley. As it turns out, the bust was all a big setup. Snuffy finds himself with a shiv buried deep in his trunk as he’s ultimately killed by Grover. The blue assassin struck again before vanishing in into a cloud of chicken feathers. He’s not heard from again. Meanwhile, the post-mortem forensic results indicate that Snuffy was not the Big Bird shooter after all. And through a magnificent stroke of luck, Sesame Street officials stumble across a piece of red fur stuck under the fingerhoof of their dead Snufalupagus. Further tests reveal the fur belongs to one Elmo “Maddog” Timpowski. He’s brought downtown where he cooperates and gives the Sesame Street authorities a full confession. Sadly, after prison guards fail to subject “Maddog” Timpowski to a full body and cavity search, Elmo strangles himself with the human hand on which he has come to rely for animated body movement and well-timed, comic relief providing giggle spasms. The episode ends with a despondant Kermit the Frog unveiling the details of the tragedy to the local Sesame Street media. Elmo is survived by his mother, Elmo’s Mommy, and his uncle, everyone’s favorite former gameshow host, Guy Smiley.

I hope that helped. As always, feel free to drop me a line.

The Creation of Jim Morrison

From time to time, I like to answer questions from my fans. Feel free to email me at with your questions. Here’s today’s question:

Dear Mikey,

I happen to a big fan of the Doors and Jim Morrison, yet I really know nothing about Jim’s early years or how he fell into the band. Can you enlighten me?

Rider on the Storm

Dear Rider,

Hmmm. How to explain the legend of Jim Morrison?

Many years ago, there was a tribe of travelers that came to be known as the “Doors.” There are many oral traditions that carry on as to how this band of weary-eyed souls came to be known as the “Doors.” However, only one is held as truth.

The story begins with the tribe’s leader, a man known as Maurice Joseph Rising. It just so happened that this man was the owner of a local hardware store that specialized in porch enclosures, specifically, the installation and repair of screen doors for those porches. Now it’s widely known that Maurice Joseph (his friends came to call him MoJo), was a firm believer that doors held the key to all things in life. When we’re born we enter through a spiritual door, and when we die, we exit through a similar one. The time spent inbetween, however, is time spent searching for the door that will lead us to a level of understanding that might help guide us through this crazy ride called life. He also believed very stongly in the use of double-paned, screen-replaceable, weather-ready outer doors.

Now, it just so happened that Mr. Mojo Rising was also wildly fascinated with the field of meteorology. In fact, he combined his two passions, doors and weather, to create a theory about the “Doors of Precipitation.” His thesis on this basically broke down to: “When it rains, close the door.”

After a short time spent searching for a way to spread his message, Maurice Joseph met a group of musicians who had a desire to touch lives, but no message to spread. As you might imagine, this was a fated match made in heaven. Mr. Rising was instituted as the leader of this tribe.

No sooner did MoJo join this humble feast of friends than they encountered a problem. Following a very late night of theologous discussions around a campfire, they happened to fall asleep on a stretch of beach known as “Jesters’ Crest.” They also weren’t far from a small town known as Morse — a town famous for it’s soft stance on obscenity laws — but that’s neither here nor there. But as it happens, when they awoke, they found that they had fallen victim to the ambitious pranksters for which Jesters’ Crest was named. Our heroes found themselves in the center of an enoromous sand castle that had been erected all around them. They were completely surrounded by seven foot tall walls of sand.

Scared and confused, one of the younger players in the band of traveling musicians began to experience what can only be considered a nervous breakdown. He turned to MoJo Rising to look for guidance, but he was so distraught that his words came out terribly garbled.

It is believed that the young songsmith was trying to say, “The waves maybe will wash away the sand and we’ll be able to swim for Morse or someplace.”

In actuality, the words came out, “Save me before we’re washed away, Jim Morrisonface.”

No sooner were these anxiety-driven words uttered than the four of them froze and looked at each other. It was clear that as the leader of this tribe, Maurice Joseph Rising — Mr. MoJo Rising — was being told by his young accompanyist, speaking in tongues as the medium for a higher power, that he must assume the name of Jim Morrisonface.

Eventually, the “face” was dropped from the last name. To this day, scholars are trying to pinpoint the exact time and cause for this change, but aside from a few scientific theories and other random conjecture, it remains a mystery.

Having once again had fate step in to play a vital role in his evolution, Jim Morrison recognized that he didn’t have time to revel in his new identity. Rather, he had to act quickly in order to preserve his tribe. Once safe, the four of them could travel the world, spreading their message. From whiskey bar to whiskey bar, from L.A. woman to L.A. woman, from normal people to those people that are strange. He knew that he couldn’t let this be the end. His message must reach both angels and sailors. This moment felt like a newborn awakening.

He looked around at the four walls of sand by which they were imprisoned. He took a deep breath and looked around at his fellow tribesmen.

“These walls are sand, they are penetrable,” said the wise sage.

“Yeah, but how do we get over ’em?” asked one of his companions. “It’s not like there’s a back door, man!”

“We must break on through,” said Jim Morrison. “We must break on through — to the other side!”

And with that, he ran at the wall, breaking through the sand as if it was nothing more than, well, sand. The group was free.

As the four men stood on the outside of their sand prison, they took a moment to relish that freedom exists. At that exact moment, a line of cars happened to be passing on the road just above them. El Caminos, tricked out and lowered, rolled by as latin salsa beats floated out on the air, surrounding the four traveling messengers.

So powerful was the line of cars, that the tribe’s leader had no choice but to simply state, “A Spanish caravan.”

The others nodded.

The rest of their history is pretty well documented in a movie called, of all things, “The Doors.”

But that’s how it all began.

Some Valentine’s Day Advice

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Now, since I’m clearly extremely successful in handling my own relationships, I figured I’d take a quick moment to provide all of you with a few helpful hints about maintaining a good relationship with your significant other.

The most important thing to remember at all times is to always consider what affect any particular action you are about to make is going to have on your relationship. For example, let’s say you’re sitting on a crowded bus and you suddenly feel an itch on your ankle. If you are thinking from a relationship point of view, you have to recognize the potential ramifications of simply reaching down and scratching that itch.

Let’s say you bend over in your seat, which happens to be one of the bench seats on the bus that faces inward. There are people standing all up and down the aisle. When you reach down to scratch that ankle, you inadvertantly bump your head into the leg of a woman who happens to be standing there. The woman looks down, smiles at you as you say, “pardon me,” and you go back to sitting up as your itch has been scratched.

But unbeknownst to you, your significant other is sitting beside you, watching you. Gauging you. Trying to figure out what your real reason for bending over and touching your ankle was. You may remember the line from the movie Airplane!, “Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home.” Likewise, at that moment she’s thinking, “Mike never leans over and scratches his ankle at home.” She thinks it was all a rouse. A game. A sham. A big fix. A set up to give yourself a chance to instigate physical contact with another woman, no matter how brief. She’s staring at you right now. Her gaze is melting a hole right into the side of your head. The woman who’s leg you bumped has already been vaporized into dust. Now it’s time for your significant other to decide whether you should suffer the same fate, or be allowed to live to make good on your mistake.

As she begins to think about it, she remembers that she’s going to need help moving. And there are a couple rooms which need to be stripped and painted. Plus her taxes are gonna have to be done soon. And her car needs an oil change. So as it turns out, you still have some value left in you.

But be warned, my friends, your value has its limits.

Never, ever, ever, make any sort of decision without first looking at it from all possible angles. You must recognize every conceivable outcome before making a move of any sort. If necessary, you may wish to organize a support squad, or some sort of committee to help you through the difficult times. (For example, you were sent to buy a few items from the store. Very specific items. The problem arises when you discover that one or more of the items are not at the store. What then? Should you find a suitable replacement? Call her to ask her what you should do? Forget about that particular item all together? Go to another store to find the item? If you do go to another store to find the item, should you just buy all the items there? Is it important that all the items come from the same place? Or only important that you retrieve the items? As you can see, the possible list of scenarios is practically limitless. (If the process of retrieving the items takes longer than an hour should a call be placed to inform of the retrieval expedition’s status?) It just goes on and on. So don’t be afriad to have a cell phone ready and available to make conference calls to discuss the best course of action.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple of her friends on your speed dial either. Of course, before putting her friend’s numbers in there, be careful to consider all of the possible situations that could occur at her discovery of these numbers in your phone. It would be advisable to wait until your significant other is the one to suggest the inclusion of said numbers in your phone.

As you can see, this single rule of relationships is pretty much the only rule with which you need ever concern yourself. If you can master this single rule of love, then, my friends, you have found the meaning of life and can fully enjoy it in complete dominated happiness.

A basic grammar lesson; plus, a quick aside to Vespa owners: not very manly.

Earlier this afternoon I was exchanging a couple emails with my good friend Carlyn. In one of those emails I used the term, “beeotch.” As in, “My fantasy football team rocks, beeotch!” I had to point out to Carlyn that the term “beeotch,” as used in this capacity, is not actually a derogatory word intended as an insult. In fact, the term “beeotch” is actually very misunderstood. The usage of the term as applied above should be viewed, rather, as another form of punctuation. As it happens, in many instances the word itself could be used directly in lieu of the exclamation point.

Example given:
“I just got laid, beeotch.”
Translation: “I just got laid!”

Or, when used in a sentence containing particularly exciting information, it might imply a double exclamation point.

Example given:
“That chick has got a seriously busted grill, beeotch!”
Translation: “Dude, that chick has got some fucked up teeth!!”
(Slang terminology translation provided free of charge.)

Similarly, “beeotch” can also be used in the exclamation point/question mark combination:

Example given:
“You mean you caught him and your mom together, beeotch?”
Translation: “He nailed your mom!?”

So as you can see, when used correctly, the term “beeotch” is not at all an insulting word. In fact, it is quite useful when attempting to convey a message containing an importance that might otherwise be overlooked by the average layperson. (Yes, “average layperson” is a redundant phrase, but I left it there to show off the fact that I recognize such matters of language and am therefore particularly qualified to elaborate on such subjects as those being discussed here.)

Please note the difference between the following phrases:

“I just got a kickin’ new Vespa, beeotch.”

“I just got a kickin’ new Vespa, bitch.”

The latter of these two statements is intended to imply superiority. The use of the word, “bitch” in such a fashion is letting the addressee know that he/she is being looked down upon. It’s as if the speaker were saying, “Yo, poor-ass dorksnot, I just got this sweet new ride that makes your pansy-ass moped look like a busted up bigwheel. I spit on you and laugh at you as you peddle. Bitch.”

I will refrain, however, from commenting on why someone who has purchased a Vespa might feel they have to right to rain superiority down on anyone. This is an issue unrelated to the one under discussion, but a point which should certainly be addressed, nonetheless. With that said, I hope it is clear that the first of the above two statements should be recognized as a person simply addressing another individual with excitment in regard to his/her new acquistion, as opposed to speaking down toward that individual.

It’s a fine line, but one that is also quite clear.

I will address your questions and concerns at this time.