Category Archives: Comedy

True Comedy Stories

Trump Orders Coal Power For Puerto Rico

President Trump announced today that the the Federal Government will be providing funds to build a major coal-fueled power plant in Puerto Rico. “This project will be huge!,” said the President. “It will simultaneously solve all the power problems in Puerto Rico, while at the same time fulfilling my campaign pledge to help the coal industry. This is an idea that crooked Hillary would never have thought of.”

President Trump announces coal power plant for Puerto Rico

President Trump announces coal power plant for Puerto Rico

When asked about potential pollution of the coal powered plant, Mr. Trump responded, “There will be No pollution! Zero! That is the most brilliant part of my plan. We are going to build the plant on the East Coast of Puerto Rico. The prevailing winds will  blow the smoke off shore, so zero pollution will happen to Puerto Rico.”

Smoke from the Puerto Rico coal fueled power plant will blow towards Haiti

Smoke from the Puerto Rico coal fueled power plant will blow towards Haiti

When asked about  the smoke that drifts to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the President joked, “What can I say? My slogan is American First, not Haiti First.” Haitians are currently calling for a large rally to protest the proposed coal plant.

The announcement was made in the Rose Garden ceremony kicking off “clean coal week”, which is to highlight advances made in coal burning technology. President Trump also announced that the Federal government will be suspending all subsidies to Solar Power and eliminating all research for alternative fuels.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a later news conference stated that “The Puerto Rico Coal -Powered Utility Plant is the first of many projects the Trump Administration has planned to help foreign countries switch to coal power.” Ms. Huckabee Sanders later clarified her remarks saying, “Of course I know that Puerto Rico is not a foreign country. I was speaking of future projects.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends using the phrase "you people" to refer to a black reporter

Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends using the phrase “you people” to refer to a black reporter

President Trump has been growing more defensive at suggestions he has not been doing enough to help Puerto Ricians after the recent hurricanes. In at Tweet at 3am this morning, President Trump stated “I have signed an executive order granting visas for up to 10,000 Puerto Ricians so that they can get temporary status in the United States.”

At 9am this morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a press conference stating that “the President’s 3am tweet was of course just a joke. He absolutely understands that people from Puerto Rico are American citizens  and do not need visas.” In an angry exchnage with a reporter from the New York Times, Ms. Huckabee Sanders shouted. “When are you people going to understand when President Trump is joking!” The phrase “you people” created its own set of problems since the New York Times reporter is African American. Ms. Huckabee Sanders later explained that by “you people” she meant reporters.

Coal Powered prick up truck driven by President Trump

Coal Powered prick up truck driven by President Trump

The highlight of Clean Coal week was the unveiling of a coal-powered Ford Pick-up truck whcih President Trump took for a spin, doing “doughnuts” on the White House lawn to the cheers of all the White House staff, (except for the groundskeepers.)

 

 

 

Natasha Leggero – The Key to the Comedic Success of Showtime’s “Dice”

Showtime’s Dice is now in its second season, and is hilarious. A key to the success is the classic “straight man” (or in this case “straight woman”) performance of Natasha Leggero. In Dice, Natasha Leggero plays Carmen, the long-suffering, ever -patient girlfriend of comedian Andrew Dice Clay.

Natasha Leggero

Natasha Leggero

In Dice, Andrew Dice Clay portrays himself as a down and out comedian whose glory days were 27 years ago. In 1990  Dice’s comedy routine sold out Madison Square Garden. Today living in Las Vegas, he can barely eek out a living telling jokes in the small lounges of casinos. He has not taken this decline in popularity  well, and is constantly cooking up bizarre  schemes to get himself back on top. Of course, Dice’s aggressive “Brooklyn style” personality is his own worst enemy. He refuses to change with the times, no matter how practical or politically correct  that would be.

A still from the Showtime original series DICE (Season 1, Gallery). - Photo: Brian Bowen Smith/Courtesy of SHOWTIME - Photo ID: DICE_Group_01.R Pictured: Kevin Corrigan as Milkshake, Andrew Dice Clay as himself and Natasha Leggero as Carmen

A still from the Showtime original series DICE (Season 1, Gallery). – Photo: Brian Bowen Smith/Courtesy of SHOWTIME – Photo ID: DICE_Group_01.R Pictured: Kevin Corrigan as Milkshake, Andrew Dice Clay as himself and Natasha Leggero as Carmen

Andrew Dice Clay, of course, is known for his “over the top” crude humor and crazy antics. In Dice, he is able to go into the full scale wild man routine, since his performance is offset by the calm normality  of Carmen (Natasha Leggero) In any comedy team the “straight man” is always underappreciated. Bud Abbott set up the routines for Lou Costello to get the laughs. Part of Lucille Ball’s comedy was the fact that Desi Arnaz was always trying to save Lucy from her own crazy schemes.

Straight Man Bud Abbott with Lou Costello

Straight Man Bud Abbott with Lou Costello

In Dice, Natasha Leggaro’s role is almost one of audience participation. She is the voice of reason, constantly pointing out what a normal person would do in the circumstance. This makes Dice’s antics even funnier, since he never does the normal,  reasonable thing.

Andrew "Dice" Clay in 1990 when he sold out Madison Square Garden

Andrew “Dice” Clay in 1990 when he sold out Madison Square Garden

It must take a lot of discipline for Natasha Legarro to remain in character, since she is a great stand up comedian in her own right. Part of her routine is fighting the stereotype that people expect a female comic to be ugly. In one stand up routine a heckler in the crowd yelled out, “Don’t you think you’re too good looking to be a comic?” Natacha’s immediate comeback was “don’t you think you’re too ugly to be speaking to me?” She herself states that good looking female comedians performing for a mostly male audience  are simply “smarter, less molested versions of strippers.”

Straight Desi Arnaz with Lucille Ball

Straight Desi Arnaz with Lucille Ball

But on Dice, Natasha Leggaro never tries to use  her own comedic style to  upstage Andrew Dice Clay. Her performance is the mark of a true processional. As the calm “straight woman” she sets the stage for Andrew Dice Clay to showcase his unique talents to the fullest.

Natasha Leggero as "Carmen" tries unsuccessfully to reason with Andrew "Dice"Clay in Showtime's Dice.

Natasha Leggero as “Carmen” tries unsuccessfully to reason with Andrew “Dice”Clay in Showtime’s Dice.

On Dice, Kevin Corrigan is Dice’s strange side kick and hanger-on named “Milkshake” (whose moniker is never explained.) Kevin Corrigan’s deadpan humor is the perfect foil for Andrew Dice Clay’s blunt style.

Natasha Leggero

Natasha Leggero

Throughout the show, there is no doubt that Carmen loves Dice and simply accepts that his strange way of doing things is a part of who he is and what makes her love him. There is also no doubt that “Dice” loves Carmen and realizes how lucky he is to have found her. Off screen, Andrew Dice Clay also knows exactly how fortunate he is to have found, in Natasha Leggaro, the perfect match to help bring to life some of the best performances of his career.

 

 

 

 

Who remembers Potato Guns? Who Wants one?

For some bizarre reason the Baby Boomer generation was obsessed with potatoes. Eating potatoes, dressing up potatoes as people, and even using potatoes as weapons. There was Mister Potato Head, Mrs. Potato Head, and the consumption of billions of french fries. The weapon, of course, was the Potato Gun, where the bullets were little pieces of potatoes. East Coast Stories recently found a whole case of perfect Potato Guns still in their boxes in the back of an old storeroom of a food company.

The Potato Gun

The Potato Gun

There is a historical reason for this potato obsession. American Baby Boomers were the first full generation in the history of the world that did not have to worry about getting enough to eat. In fact, Americans in the 1950s found that they actually had a surplus of food.

Care and Maintenance of The Potato Gun

Care and Maintenance of The Potato Gun

There was, after all, so much food that Baby Boomers could even play with it.  Food Fights became the rage in high schools and colleges. In what other country on Earth would people waste food by throwing it around?

Food Fight in Animal House

Food Fight in Animal House

Who could ever forget Jon Belushi and the Food Fight in Animal House?

The complete Potato Gun

The complete Potato Gun

The Potato Gun was a toy that a kid would stick into a potato and then load chunks of the potato as “bullets”. Kids would then shoot the potato bullets at each other. Baby Boomer  Bruce Willis actually references the potato gun in the movie Armageddon. Most of the younger viewers obviously had no idea what he was taking about.

Immigrants arriving in America. The land of Food

Immigrants arriving in America. The land of Food

Ironically, the potato was the reason many people even became Americans at all.  During the Irish Potato Famine the Irish immigrated to America by the thousands. Politicians like to talk about people coming to America for the freedom, but that is only partially true.

A shipload of immigrants arriving in America

A shipload of immigrants arriving in America

Many immigrants moved to The United States because their families were starving, literally starving, in the Old Country. The dream of thousands who came through Ellis Island was not of political freedom. The immigrants dream was that some day their children would have enough to eat.

French fried potatoes, the favorite American food

French fried potatoes, the favorite American food

So finding this case of Potato Guns was like turning a page back in history. What should we do with them? Kids have long since moved on  to more sophisticated computerized games. But possibly there are some curious readers  who would like one of these old-time toys. Dear readers, let us know what you think.

A working Potato Gun

A working Potato Gun

Would you be interested in a free Potato Gun?Just holding one may magically bring you back to a time when sons and daughters of starving immigrants fulfilled their ancestors dreams and had so much food it could even be turned into toys.

When Mr. Potato Head Was A Real Potato

Does anyone remember when Mr. Potato Head was made with a real potato? Today’s Mr. Potato Head is a large, clean plastic potato replica into which you stick plastic ears, eyes noses and lips.  But when I was a kid, Mr. Potato Head was a lot more crude. The Mr. Potato Head toy first came out in 1952, and  was just a little box with all the accessories and nothing else. You had to go out and find a real potato into which you would stick the eyes, ears, nose and anything else you could dig up. Maybe you even gave it hair made from some old lint ball found under the couch.

The original Mr. Potato Head from the 1950s

The original Mr. Potato Head from the 1950s

Kids loved the toy and it was an instant hit. Parents liked it too. It was inexpensive, kept kids busy for hours while stimulating kids’ imaginations. Of course using a real potato did have its drawbacks.

Today's modern Mr. Potato Head

Today’s modern Mr. Potato Head

Many a child would let out a terrified scream after finding a forgotten Mr. Potato Head in the back of a closet. After a few months alone, the Mr. Potato Head would be growing new appendages and sprouts and be covered in a fine lumpy mold.  This is probably why you don’t see any toys made from real food anymore.

Rest in Peace Mr. Potato Head

Rest in Peace Mr. Potato Head

The modern Mr. Potato Head is still a lot of fun. Of course unlike the original toy you can’t eat it when you are done playing.

Cool – The Most Dangerous Four Letter Word

Cool is the most dangerous four letter word in the English language. How many thousands of stupid decisions have people made in the never-ending quest to be considered “cool”?  People abuse drugs or alcohol, start smoking cigarettes or drive cars drunk partly so that they can be cool.

Smoking is so Cool

Smoking is so Cool

Somehow cool has maintained a hold over the American psyche, long after other slang words have lost their mystique and died an ignominious death. No one wants to be “groovy” or “boss” or “outta sight” or even “hep”.  In fact, anyone even using those expressions would most likely be laughed out of the room. Yet Cool remains the king.

That's right - I'm Cool!

That’s right – I’m Cool!

The worst part of trying to be cool is not what you do, but what you don’t do. The cool-seekers dissociate themselves from anyone considered un-cool. Loving family, good teachers and childhood friends are all abandoned when it becomes obvious that they are not cool.

At least he walked away

At least he walked away

Sometimes, years in the future, the cool-seekers realize that they have abandoned the best people in their lives. Of course by that time, it it often too late. Those good friends and family  are gone, forever.

What can we say?

What can we say?

So maybe it’s time for Cool to finally exit the stage and go the way of “groovy”. What will be left without people trying to be cool? Maybe, a world where everyone can be happy with who they really are.

So Cool

So Cool

 

I Am A Celebrity in Estonia for Naljkad Toointervjuud by Gregory F. Farrell

Like most vain people, I constantly Google my own name to see how the internet perceives me. I was shocked to discover that I have become a celebrity in the country of Estonia for a book I wrote 20 years ago. A Funny Thing Happened At The Interview has been re-released in Estonia as Naljakad Toointervjuud, with a somber  cover.

Naljakad Toointervjuud by Gregory F. Farrell the Estonian business expert

Naljakad Toointervjuud by Gregory F. Farrell the Estonian business expert

Apparently Naljakad Toointervjuud is being marketed with a much more serious tone than A Funny Thing Happened At The Interview was sold in the United States. The scruffy cartoon resume on the cover had been replaced by a pair of serious all-business wing tipped shoes.

A Funny Thing Happened At The Interview by Gregory F. Farrell

A Funny Thing Happened At The Interview by Gregory F. Farrell

The book has become a hit, and there have been a lot of comments from readers on the websites of stores that sell Nalkakad Toointervjuud. Unfortunately, I do not speak Estonian, so I had to use Google Translate to convert the comments to English. Somehow, I think something got lost in translation, resulting in some bizarre comments like:

  • “Anyone can fly ninuli-important back up on its feet”
  • If any of this happens, put it behind the ear, and learn from their mistake.”

However, other comments are really cool and very complimentary.

Estonia

Estonia

So to all my readers in Estonia, Aitah! Good luck on your job search! Remember always that you and your family  are more important than any job, and that things have a way of working out. If the interview goes great you may get the job. If you have nothing but a series of horrible interviews, maybe you were meant to be an author.

 

20th Century Women- a quirky comedy with excellent acting

20th Century Women is a wonderful film where Hollywood finally lets a middle aged woman be the star. Annette Bening gives a perfect performance as Dorothea Fields, a single mother trying to raise her teenage son amidst the turbulent changes of the 1970s.

Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann in 20th Century Women

Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, Annette Bening,  Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann in 20th Century Women

If you ever get the feeling that real life has no plot, and that you don’t know what you are doing, then you will sympathize with Dorothea. She wants to be the perfect mom, have a fulfilling life, and make everyone around her happy and enlightened. She is a failure at all of these goals, but she never stops trying. You can’t help falling in love with Dorothea.

Elle Fanning as the rebellious teen Julie in 20th Century Women

Elle Fanning as the rebellious teen Julie in 20th Century Women

Dorothea and her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) live in a big old house surrounded by odd characters. There is William (Billy Crudup) a combination hippie/carpenter/car mechanic. Greta Gerwig plays Abbie, a sensitive artist, trying to cope with cervical cancer. The next door neighbor Julie (Elle Fanning) is a rebellious teenager who spends most of her time at Dorothea’s house.

Annette Bening & Billy Crudup in 20th Century Women

Annette Bening & Billy Crudup in 20th Century Women

Somehow this odd mix of people becomes a family of sorts, helping each other through trials and changes in their own lives. Jamie never comes out and says he wishes he was in a “normal” family, but you know he has thought about it.

If you are expecting a structured plot and a lot of action then 20th Century Women is not the movie for you. 20th Century Women is more like real life than a movie. Things just happen to people. Sometimes they cope well and sometimes they don’t.

We loved 20th Century Women. Ever character is memorable and every actor gives a great performance.

 

 

Son of Kong – the classic 1933 bad sequel

If you think the Hollywood “bad sequel” phenomenon is something new, just take a look at the 1933 Son Of Kong. It is so ridiculously bad and cheaply made, it is fun to watch. The 1933 King Kong was such a blockbuster, that RKO rushed out the sequel Son Of Kong the same year.

Today, everyone in  Hollywood knows that  the “magic formula” to a successful sequel is “more sex”, “more violence” and “more spectacular special effects”. Apparently in 1933, RKO had not yet figured this out. Son Of Kong has less of all those elements than the original King Kong.

Helen Mack & Robert Armstrong in "Son Of Kong"

Helen Mack & Robert Armstrong in “Son Of Kong”

Everything about Son Of Kong screams quickly made sequel. For one thing, it is not even a full-length movie . At 1 hour and 10 minutes it is only about 1/2 as long as King Kong.  Despite its short length, Son Of Kong is very slow moving. The film is more than half over before Kong even appears. The special effects are terrible, even by 1933 standards. You never get the feeling that your are watching anything more than tiny models.

Terrible special effects "in Son Of Kong"

Terrible special effects “in Son Of Kong”

People (especially men) loved Fay Wray in the 1933 King Kong. In fact, many “moral authorities” considered Fay Wray’s portal of the damsel in distress just a little too sexy.

Robert Armstrong & Fay Wray in "King Kong" 1933

Robert Armstrong & Fay Wray in “King Kong” 1933

However, Fay Wray is not in Son Of Kong, even in a cameo. Robert Armstrong reprises his role as Carl Denham the promoter, and Frank Reicher returns as Captain Englehorn. So what happened to Fay Wray? Some people say RKO didn’t offer her the part since it did not want the revisit the controversy surrounding her revealing outfits. However, most movie buffs believe that Fay Wray was just too smart to damage her reputation by appearing in this bomb.

"Son Of Kong" - not exactly frightening compared to his father the King

“Son Of Kong” – not exactly frightening compared to his father the King

The biggest disappointment is the Son Of Kong himself. Instead of going for bigger and fiercer than King Kong, RKO went for smaller and clown-like The Son Of Kong is only 11 feet tall, and never attacks people at all. It is mostly like a big friendly dog. There is also no proof ever offered that this creature is in any way actually related to King Kong.

The 1933 Original, and still the best "King Kong"

The 1933 Original, and still the best “King Kong”

Sometimes we wish  there was a law that if a movie has a perfect ending, no one is ever allowed to make a sequel. The original 1933 King Kong had that perfect ending. Kong is shot off the Empire State Building by biplanes and Robert Armstrong says, “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”

Fay Wray

Fay Wray

So how does Son Of Kong end? Well, Skull Island sinks (that’s right sinks). Son Of Kong gets his foot stuck in a rock and drowns. Not exactly a great moment in film history.

So, if you have a hour to kill and want to have a little fun watching a really bad sequel, check out Son Of Kong. However we recommend you spend the full 2 hours sometime and watch the original King himself.

 

 

 

 

 

Dana DeLorenzo- The hardest working actress on Television

Dana DeLorenzo looks beautiful and stylish in an evening gown. However, in Ash vs Evil Dead she spends most of her time covered in blood, rolling around in the mud and  fighting demons from Hell.

Dana DeLorenzo hen she is not covered in blood

Dana DeLorenzo when she is not covered in blood

If you have never seen Ash vs. Evil Dead, the only way to describe it is as a horror gore-fest comedy. In it, Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash Williams  from the low budget 1983 horror film The Evil Dead.

The original 1983 movie was not a comedy. It was a typical “cabin in the woods movie. A group of college students takes a vacation at an isolated and creepy cabin and things go downhill from there.  Ash is one of the students and finds an old “book of the dead” in the cabin. Of course, he is stupid enough to read from it, thereby releasing demons and deadites (zombies) on the world.

Now, 33 years later,  the plot is played purely for laughs. Ash vs Evil Dead is a spoof of all bad horror movies, with its completely over-the-top monsters, and  excessive amounts of blood and guts.

Ash vs Evil Dead's Dana DeLorenzo

Ash vs Evil Dead’s Dana DeLorenzo

The cast of Ash vs Evil Dead is great and you can tell they enjoy working with each other. The actors often joke that this is the only T.V. show where they literally have to get hosed off after a scene, in order to wash off the fake blood and guts.

Dana DeLorenzo shows off her b;ood soaked outfit

Dana DeLorenzo shows off her” blood” soaked outfit

Dana DeLorenzo plays Kelly Maxwell, a sort of surrogate daughter for Ash. However, unlike the women in the 1983 movie, Kelly does not spend her time screaming and running away.  Instead, she is a real kick-ass zombie (deadite) fighter, who is always willing to grab an Uzi and attack the Evil Dead.

Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago

Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago

The rest of the cast is also fantastic. Ray Santiago is Pablo Simon, who has to fight the walking dead as well as the prejudices of everyone continually assuming he is an illegal immigrant. In the last episode, he gave his life to save the others, and now they are going back in time to try to keep that from happening.

Bruce Campbell & Lucy Lawless

Bruce Campbell & Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless is Ruby, an immortal from the underworld, who starts out as bad, but then becomes somewhat good as she becomes mortal.  Of course, Lucy Lawless is known for her action roles, going back to when she was Zena the Warrior Princess.

Bruce Campbell is great as both Ash, and the leader of this ensemble of actors. He is perfect as the arrogant, but not too bright, demon killer with a chain saw instead of a right hand.

Sloshing around waste deep in fake blood is probably not what Dana DeLorenzo pictured herself doing when she was studying Media Communications  at DePaul University. But anyone who has ever watched Ash vs Evil Dead knows that when it comes time to chop the head off a creature from Hell Dana DeLorenzo is the perfect choice for the job.

 

 

Squidward Tentacles from SpongeBob is a thief

Squidward Tentacles from the show SpongeBob is a thief.  He has been skimming from the cash register at the Krusty Krab for years. That is why he never quits, despite complaining about his position all day every day.  The show gives  clear indications that Squidward is an underwater white collar criminal. Lets take a look at the hints.

Squidward Tentacles. The world's worst fast food cashier

Squidward Tentacles. The world’s worst fast food cashier

Squidward’s house is more more expensive than a cashier could possibly  afford.  It is made of carved stone, has nice furnishings and even has an indoor elevator. You may argue that Patrick Star and SpongeBob Squarepants also have their own homes. However, Patrick Star’s house is nothing more than a rock he lives under and all his so-called furnishings are really just sand piles.

SpongeBob does have a actual house, but he grew it himself from a pineapple seed. On the other hand, Squidward’s house is a giant stone replica of the ancient carvings on Easter Island. Squidward also has a an boat-car. It is very seldom shown, but he does have one.

houses of Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles and SpongeBon Squarepants

houses of Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles and SpongeBob Squarepants

Squidward also has all the key characteristics of a white collar criminal.  Police have often noted that white collar criminals never think of themselves a thieves. They think of themselves as underpaid persecuted workers who are really just taking what the company should have been giving to them all along.

White collar criminals are often disgruntled employees and are very open about their hatred of the company and their boss.  Squidward is all of that.

Mr. Krabs and the Krusty Krab

Mr. Krabs and the Krusty Krab

Squidward  has the perfect opportunity to steal. Mr. Krabs never takes a turn behind the register and is usually locked away in his office. Although Krabs loves money, he does not seem to have any way to cross check the cash against the number of Krusty Burgers sold.

The Krusty Krab does accept any type of credit or debit card. This  all-cash environment makes it easy for Squidward to skim.

SpongeBob Squarepants

SpongeBob Squarepants

No matter how bad things get, Squidward continues to show up every day without talking vacation or sick days.  This is also a classic feature of white collar criminals. They never take time off, since that would risk someone cross-checking the books. If income went up dramatically whenever Squidward was on vacation, then Mr. Krabs would become suspicious of Squidward.

Squidward  only has 6 legs whereas a real squid has 8. Could this be  because two of Squidward’s legs were chopped off by prior employers that  he stole from? That may seem rather convoluted, but remember that a lot of the SpongeBob show is really geared towards adults rather than children. This is the same cartoon that once showed the grave of Diver Dan. Only a Baby Boomer would get that reference.

As SpongeBob enters what is rumored to be its final season, take a new look at good old Squidward. And if you ever go to the Krusty Krab remember to count your change.

Was HBO’s farce “The Brink” too close to reality?

HBO decided not to renew its terrific comedy The Brink for a second season.  Perhaps it scared viewers by being just a little too close to the truth. We wish that The Brink was still on the air.  The acting was superb and the writing was fantastic. With World events as crazy as they are now. if we don’t laugh at things the only alternative is to cry.

In The Brink the direction of U.S. foreign policy is a continual power struggle between sex-crazed politicians, religious zealots and war-happy military commanders. The other countries are no better. Many are run by insane dictators, violent religious groups, or just plain incompetent idiots.

Jack Black and Aasif Mandui in "The Brink"

Jack Black and Aasif Mandvi in “The Brink”

Jack Black plays a likable, but  not too, bright CIA operative in the Middle East. He knows none of the local languages or customs and his only real interest is in chasing women. Aasif Mandvi is his driver and assistant, who uses his real local knowledge to try to get the CIA to make some correct decisions

Tim Robbins as Secretary of State Walter Larson

Tim Robbins as Secretary of State Walter Larson

Tim Robbins is Secretary of State Walter Larson who fights a constant battle to keep the United States from starting a war for no reason. (Does anyone remember the phrase “weapons of mass destruction”?)

Pablo Schreibea and Eric Landin as Zeke and Jammer in The Brink

Pablo Schreiber and Eric Ladin as “Zeke” and “Jammer “in The Brink

Pable Schreiber and Eric Ladin are a Navy pilot and his weapons officer, whose lives are constantly being put a risk by idiotic decisions in Washington D.C.

Each week on The Brink , the world was saved from nuclear war by  sheer luck at the last minute. While funny to watch as a T.V. show, you can’t help but wonder how many of these  events actually happen in the real world. For example, the book Red Star Rogue by Kenneth Sewell, documents that in March 1968, a Soviet Submarine controlled by communist fanatics  tried to launch a nuclear missile strike on the West Coast of the United States. No one in America even found out about this for 20 years. How many other close calls happen ever day of which the general public is blissfully unaware?

 

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a hilarious spoof of the horror movie genre. It takes every horror movie cliche imaginable and turns them around to comic effect.

Alan Tudyk as "Tucker", and Tyler Labine as "Dale"

Alan Tudyk as “Tucker”, and Tyler Labine as “Dale”

Tucker and Dale are two nice  working-class guys who have saved their money to buy an old cabin in the woods and fix it up as a vacation home. They bring with them all the equipment you would need to clear the brush around the cabin – chain saws, machetes and a wood chipper.

At the same time Tucker and Dale are working on their dream home, a group of college students is camping in the woods nearby. The college kids become convinced that Tucker and Dale are psycho killers ready to chop them up.

Katrina Bowden as "Allison"

Katrina Bowden as “Allison”

Tucker and Dale end up up saving one of the college kids, (Allison) from drowning.  They bring her back to the cabin to recover. While there, Allison and Dale get to know each other and become friends.

Jesss Moss is perfect as the Preppie psyco "Chad"

Jesss Moss is perfect as the Preppie psyco “Chad”

However, just when you think there might be a happy resolution, the movie shifts into high gear and goes into full fledged violent, gory horror movie mode.

Chad, the leader of the college kids, convinces the others that Allison has been captured by Tucker and Dale, and that the only way to save Allison is to kill Tucker and Dale. In a reverse of the normal horror movie, the hillbillies are the ones being attacked by the college kids.

The more you love horror films the more you will love Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It uses to comic effect all the things that drive viewers crazy about horror movies. Cell phones don’t work. People never call the police. Everyone continually makes stupid decisions.

Be warned, however, that this is a very bloody movie. It has every bit as much gore as “real” horror films. In fact, it goes “over the top” on the gore as just one more way to make fun of other movies.

The acting is fantastic. The beautiful Kartina Bowden is great as Allison, who, (without success)  tries to be  the the voice of reason in this crazy world. Alan Tudyk is perfect as Tucker, a shy gentle man who the college kids think is a killer. Tyler Labine is Dale, who just wants a nice vacation home. Jessie Moss is “Chad”, the sneering arrogant preppie who holds a dark secret within.

 

5 Reasons Why New Jersey is The Rodney Dangerfield State

I love New Jersey, but let’s face it, we are the Rodney Dangerfield of states. New Jersey gets no respect. Here are some examples of what we mean.

  • People can’t even get the name “New Jersey” correct. It is amazing how many out-of staters refer to New Jersey as simply “Jersey” . Nobody calls New York “York”, or New Hampshire “Hampshire”, so why do they call New Jersey “Jersey“? The actual Jersey is an island in the English Channel. Even the beautiful Taylor Swift says, “hello Jersey!” whenever she performs here.
Rodney Dangerfield. (not from New Jersey)

Rodney Dangerfield. (not from New Jersey)

  • We don’t even get to keep the name of our professional football teams. New Jersey has 2 very successful professional football teams.  The world calls them The New York Giants and the New York Jets.
The Jets who play in New Jersey, but call themselves the "New York" Jets

The Jets who play in New Jersey, but call themselves the “New York” Jets

  • Our Presidential Primaries don’t count. The New Jersey Presidential primaries are dead last in the nation. The candidates for both parties were  decided long before New Jersey gets a chance to vote. Consequently, during the primaries the candidates don’t bother to come here. This is especially annoying when they appear in New York City and don’t even come across the GW Bridge for an afternoon visit.
Stolen from New Jersey by New York lawyers

Stolen from New Jersey by New York lawyers

  • New York Stole the Statue of Liberty from Us. Even though the Statue of Liberty is clearly within the state borders of New Jersey the United States Supreme Court awarded it to New York. The attorneys for New York were able to get the Supreme Court to accept a ridiculously drawn  and gerrymandered dividing  line that was manufactured for the sole purpose of stealing the Statue of Liberty from New Jersey.
Meryl Streep from Bernardsville New Jersey

Meryl Streep from Bernardsville New Jersey

  • New Jersey gets no credit for having produced some of the world’s best actors. Most people don’t realize that some of the best know American actors grew up  right here in The Garden State.  These include, Meryl Streep (Bernardsville), Peter Dinklage (Morristown), Zach Braff (Orange) Even Jon Stuart, who loves poking fun at New Jersey actually grew up in Mercer and went to high school there (as Jonathan Leibowitz).

New Jersey is not what most people think, but that’s just fine with us. One of the best features of New Jersey is that we take all the jokes in stride and even enjoy  poking fun at ourselves. But please try to get our name straight.

The Last Man On Earth Takes a Dark Turn

The Fox T.V. comedy The Last Man On Earth took a wickedly dark turn that has made a great show even better. What makes the The Last Man On Earth great is that it is the antithesis of most science fiction survival shows. In your standard post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi show, the survivors are the brightest  and the best. They are strong and beautiful and brave and brilliant. The leader is the best of the best and always makes the right decision.

Cast of The Last Man On Earth

Cast of The Last Man On Earth

Any real Apocalypse would be much different. The survivors would be a random mix of all different types. In The Last Man On Earth, the year is 2022 and a virus has killed almost all  people and animals on the earth. The few survivors have no special characteristics, except for the fact that simply by chance they happen to be immune to the disease. The unlikely  leader of the group is Phil (Tandy) Miller, brilliantly play by Will Forte.

Will Forte and Kristen Schaal

Will Forte and Kristen Schaal

Tandy  is not very bright and has no self esteem whatsoever. He has an overwhelming desire to have people like him, and consequently often resorts to lies to try to seem better than he really is. However, despite all his flaws, it is consistently his ideas and luck that bring the group together whenever they are about to fall apart.

Jason Sueikis

Jason Sueikis

But this is no ordinary comedy. The show killed off 2 characters in the first 2 seasons and season 3 ended with what appears to be the death of another main character. In addition,  the season ends with our small group of survivors about to be attacked by another group that has suddenly appeared with guns.

As silly as it seems, we have actually gotten to love these characters over a few short seasons of T.V. It is the fact that they are not heroic or brave that makes them seem so real. They argue about petty things and have stupid annoying habits just like real-world people. Our favorite character is Tandy’s wife Carol (wonderfully played by Kristen Schaal) She is quirky and has a bizarre taste in clothing, but her determined optimism is what wins people over.  The fact that she and Tandy love each other and are essentially good people is what makes us viewers hope they do not get killed in the next episode.

The Top 5 Wide-Eyed Women In The Movies

For some reason Hollywood loves actresses with giant eyes that are set far apart.  It must have to do with how they look during close up camera shots. However, sometimes when you start to notice their giant eyes, it is so distracting it becomes difficult to actually concentrate on their acting. Here is East Coast Stories list of the top 5 Wide-Eyed Women on the big screen;

  • # 5 Karen Allen, who was in Star Man with Jeff Bridges and who had Indiana Jones’ child. Karen Allen was also a main character in Animal House.

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  • #4 Mary Elizabeth Weinstead who recently gave an exciting  and dramatic performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane.   Mary Elizabeth Weinstead is not only beautiful, she is also an incredibly talented actor. In 10 Cloverfield Lane she gets the chance to demonstrate her full range of talents.

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  • # 3 Uma Thurman the deadly woman with a samurai sword in the Kill Bill films. Her eyes are set so far apart in her face, that some people believe that every picture has been Photo-shopped.

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  • # 2 Zooey Deschanel whose giant bangs cannot cover up her giant eyes.

Zooey Deschanel 07-07-2009Zooey Deschanel 2009-07-07

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It isn’t just that the eyes of these actresses are huge. The eyes are actually further apart than they are in most people. How is this possible? The skulls of these women are not any larger than those of other people. How can their eyes be bigger and set further apart than those of other people? Every one of these women are excellent actors. It was their ayes that first got them noticed, but it was their talent which made them stars.

The Girl From Burnley and Her BMW Mini

Sharon is a petite, beautiful  28 year old, who lives in the Northern English town of Burnley. She is soft spoken and sort of shy. That is, until she gets behind the wheel of her BMW Mini, when she turns into the Burnley Road Warrior.

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Despite her young age Sharon has a high level position with Akcros Chemicals in Eccles. Every day she makes the dive from Burnley to Eccles, and God help anyone in her way, as she weaves in an out of the massive lorries at top speed with her foot on the accelerator and her hand on the horn.

Sharon hates to waste any part of her day, so she has a speaker phone hooked up in the mini, and conducts business call while she drives.

I have been on the other end of those calls on multiple occasions, and it is an event you will never forget.

On one such occasion, the Board of Directors was meeting in the U.S. They were in a big conference room and Sharon was joining them via speaker phone. She was on the road between Eccles and Burnley calling in from her BMW Mini.

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The Chairman of the Board was giving a very dull lecture about economic trends, when suddenly Sharon’s voice came through the speaker shouting, “You Stupid Sod! Speed it Up!”

A stunned silence fell on the Board Room and the Chairman of the Board said, “Excuse me?”

Sharon’s sweet soft voice came through the speaker saying, “Oh I’m sorry. Did people hear that? Someone just cut me off in traffic and I guess I over-reacted”

The Boards members, including  the Charmian all laughed, and the meeting continued.

About 6 months later I was in Eccles meeting with Sharon, and asked her about the time she yelled at the Chairman of the Board by mistake.

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She looked at me with her blue eyes and said with a smile, “What’d you mean mistake? Haven’t you ever once wanted to to scream at the Chairman when he was giving one of his dull lectures? I had the opportunity and I just couldn’t pass it up. I bet that really got his Y-Fronts in a twist!”

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Then Sharon kissed me sweetly on the cheek and headed off to her Mini for the drive home. I hope no one got in her way.

 

Why the Dutch Tell Germans to “Bring Back Our Bicycles” at Football Matches

Whenever Dutch football (soccer) teams play German teams, the Dutch fans taunt the Germans with big  signs that say “Bring Back Our Bicycles “. The Dutch go to the trouble of writing out these signs in German so that their rivals will get the message.

The Dutch love the joke and think it is a great insult. The only  problem is that except for the very old people in the crowd , the Germans have no idea what the Dutch are talking about. The Germans know it is some sort of insult, but exactly what is it?

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Well it goes back to the end of World War II. The Germans, of course, had invaded The Netherlands at the very beginning of the war, and it  was one of the very last countries liberated by the Allied Forces.

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By that point in the war, the German army was completely defeated and the Germans were retreating full speed as the Allied Forces approached. The Germans were using everything they could to get out of the Netherlands. They took trucks, cars,  motorcycles and tractors. When no motorized vehicles were left, the remaining German soldiers stole every bicycle in The Netherlands and rode them back to Germany.

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These events were 70 years ago, but the Dutch have never forgotten. They never hold up signs asking to bring back the cars or trucks or tractors. It is the bicycles they remember.

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The Netherlands is a nation of bicyclists. Children, businessmen, old people and beautiful young women all ride the big sturdy Dutch bicycles. In the pouring rain they ride them to work, steering with one hand and holding an umbrella in the other.

As time goes by and World War II seems more and more distant, the people of Europe will forget many things.  But the Dutch will never forget or forgive the theft of their bicycles.

 

 

The Boy Scouts Nuclear War Song

They’re rioting in Africa,

They’re starving in Spain.

There’s hurricanes in Florida,

And Texas needs rain.

The whole World is sweltering with hate and mistrust.

And I don’t like anybody very much.

But we can be thankful and tranquil and proud,

we have not been hit by that mushroom-shaped cloud.

But all of us know that one lucky day,

Someone will set the spark off,

And we’ll all be blown away.

 

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Editor’s note – This was a popular song in the Connecticut Boy Scout camp Tokowam in the summer of 1965.It sounds funnier when you sing it by a campfire and you are too young to grasp the true meaning. Lucky for us the World has learned from its mistakes and the threat of nuclear war  anywhere in Earth is long gone.

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 Be sure to read all our Nostalgic Stories.

Death To America Revisited

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently stated that when Iranians chant “Death To America” it is not really all that bad. He said, “we don’t mean death to the American people. It means death to U.S. policies and its arrogance.”

Ali 1

We would like to thank  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his new “kinder and gentler” Death To America slogan.

So we at EastCoastStories.com would like to respond with an explanation of our own.

When we say “Fuck You Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” we don’t mean that in a bad way. We are actually using the phrase “Fuck You” in the sense that we wish you a happy and satisfying sex life.

Ali 2

I am sure that all of us in Iran and the United States feel so much better now that we have explained what we really mean.

The World’s Worst A&P Joke

It is too bad that A&P decided to declare bankruptcy instead of merging with another grocery store chain.

At one point A&P was considering merging with Stop & Shop. The new name would have been STOP & P.

 

 

AP 4

AP 1

(We warned you it was a bad joke).

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Still, it is sad to see the  once proud Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company go out of business. We wish all the hard working people of A&P good luck and good fortune ahead as they look for new jobs going into the Holiday season.

AP 2

In case anyone else forgets to say it; thanks for serving us through the years.

Words to Live by

As you go through life it is amazing how some advice turns out to be true and remembered forever. Here is a list of saying from family, friends, and teachers I have known throughout the years.

Words 1

Words 8

 

 

  • “I get what you’re saying son, but I don’t quite know what you mean.” Savin Hoffecker

Words 2

  • “Smart is easy to find, but it’s one in a million to find Loyal.” Lou Romano

Words 6

  • “Never hit a man when he’s down. Kick him its easier. – Jack Reilly

Words 4

  • “Most people spend most of their lives trying to prove something to somebody – usually somebody that’s dead.” – Elsie White

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  • “When you get older you will realize that your family are the only people in the world who really care what happens to you one way or the other.” – Aaron (Woody)  Hess

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  • Never get romantically involved with a man who is better looking than you are – Susan Farrell

Words 3

Attack of the Naked Women

The stock market has crashed. The crime rate is rising. Racial tensions are high and police morale is low. The mass transit system is falling apart. So New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio  has decided that the top priority of his administration should be to protect us all from the “threat” poised by beautiful young women who pose semi-nude for the Tourists in Times Square.

Exactly why this is a police matter, de Blasio is having a tough time explaining. The tourists love the girls. This is exactly the sort of decadence they hoped to see when they boarded planes in the Midwest to come to the Big Apple.

No one who lives or works in New York is upset. That is because anyone who actually lives or works in New York City avoids Times Square at all costs.

The New York Supreme Court is not even concerned about the young women. It ruled more than a year ago that it is perfectly legal for women to be topless anywhere in New York at any time.

The Mayor’s brilliant plan is to arrest the women for illegally conducting a “business” since they take tips from tourists who take their pictures. When told that this might not fly legally, his next idea is that we should re-open the streets to traffic in Times Square. He would rather have the pollution, noise and danger of the extra cars, than risk seeing a female nipple.

The Mayor seems to be missing the point that Freedom of Expression is what this country is all about. After all, if a beautiful young woman cannot show her patriotism by painting her breasts Red, White and Blue and displaying them to the World, then the terrorists really have won.

Naked and Afraid – The Stupid show everyone watches

The sheer stupidity of Naked And Afraid on the Discovery Channel is what makes the show so much fun to watch.  If you have never seen this show, the basic concept is that a man and a woman are placed naked in a jungle or an island and must survive for almost 3 weeks. They are complete strangers, and the first time they ever see each other they are naked.

Afraid 1

There is not enough space to list all the ridiculous items in this series, so we will just touch on some of the most hilarious;

  • The show takes itself SO seriously.  As viewers, we are somehow supposed to believe that these people are really in danger. This; despite the fact that the “survivalists” are at all times surrounded by a Camera Crew, a Sound Technician, a Director, and all the laborers who carry the food,  equipment and set-up camps for these crews.
  • We are supposed to pretend that nakedness is part of a normal survival scenario.
    Through the years, there have been many true stories of people suddenly being thrust into desperate survival situations.  Planes have crashed in a jungle. There are shipwrecks. Storms have destroyed homes.  In any of these real situations, the people were afraid, but they were certainly not naked.  The naked component is there for the sole purpose of increasing ratings.

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  • The naked people are pixelated.  Since the Discovery Channel is on basic cable, it cannot show naked genitalia or naked female breasts. However, they do  get around this as much as possible by blurring only the absolute minimum. Viewers can get a very good idea of exactly what the naked people look like. There is also the titillating feature that the people move around a lot and the blurring does not always keep up with the movement. There is no doubt that many of the viewers watch the show hoping to get a glance of something forbidden. If this seems cynical, just take a look at the comments on the internet. The most common question people ask about Naked and Afraid is “Where can I see a version of the show without anything  blurred out?” The disappointing answer is “Nowhere.” However,  we all  know that eventually someone is going to steal an uncensored print and release a truly naked version of the show on the internet.

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  • The contestants are good-looking exhibitionists. Take a look at the contestants in the picture shown above. Do their bodies look like those of the “average” American who might get caught in a survival situation? Of course not. They have great bodies, and love showing them to people. If your plane crashed on a remote island chances are you would be with a bunch of middle aged fat people rather than the very  sexy Jane & Tarzan types we see here.
  • Many of the contestants don’t make clothing.
    Despite the fact that it is easy to make some basic coverings from palm leaves or other items, most of the contestants do not.  In particular, the men seem to especially enjoy leaving their penises to swing free.  There is no doubt that most men would place a top priority on covering up this sensitive part of the anatomy to protect it from sun and scrapes. However, the men on this show, want very much  to share their little friend with the world.

 

Despite all of its flaws, or maybe because of them,  the show is actually fun to watch.  It does teach you something about human nature.  The contestants  come to the show with various level of survival skills and we see which skills are useful and which are not.  It turns out that the most important skill is a positive attitude and the ability to encourage others. The people who get along and work together do well regardless of their basic skills.  Those who argue with each other end up miserable.

Of course, if you are ever really find yourself in a situation like this, here are  are the  3 easy to follow steps which will keep you and your partner alive.

  • Step 1 – Make weapons from the sticks and rocks all around you. Spears are easy to make and are very effective.
  • Step 2 – Use your weapons to attack the Director, Camera & Sound Crews. Take their food, clothing and water which they have been selfishly not sharing with you.
  • Step 3 – Put some damn clothing on!

We rate this show Two stars **

 

 

Bart Simpson’s Penis

How large is Bart Simpson’s penis? Unfortunately I know the answer to that question.  That’s because in my den is an anatomically correct Bart Simpson doll.  It comes from a ridiculously overpriced shop in London.

I was on vacation with my family in London and were were exploring all the usual spots. Suddenly, a torrential rainstorm started, and we ducked into a store simply to get out of the rain.

It turned out to be a very large shop with lots of winding aisles, and thousands of nick-knacks on the shelves. I was looking at pictures of Winston Churchill,  and my kids went to explore the rest of the shop for something more interesting.

Then my kids returned with a Bart Simpson doll. It was about 3 feet tall, well made and soft like a pillow. It was sort of like a very large  Raggedy Ann doll in the shape of Bart Simpson. It even had on a full set of clothing.

That’s  when my son said, “Watch this Dad!” and pulled down the doll’s pants and then  put the doll in my arms. My son and daughter both laughed and  ran down the aisle to another part of the store.

I was not sure what was so funny, until I looked down at the doll in my arms and;

Cowabunga! There I was looking down at Bart’s penis and testicles.  To say that the doll was anatomically correct is an understatement. In fact, it was more than anatomically correct. You see, the makers of the doll had made Bart Simpson’s private parts quite a bit larger proportionally than the rest of the doll.

Bart

I was still looking at Bart’s oversize d genitalia when I heard a woman with a very proper British accent say,  “May I help you Sir?”

I looked up to see a matronly woman with grey hair examining at me like I was some American pervert who had wondered into her shop. It turns out that she was the owner of the store, and she had the type of face that looked like it had never smiled.  I should have said something like, “Don’t look at me like that lady. You are the one selling obscene dolls.”

However, at the time I was so embarrassed, that what I actually said to the woman was “Yes. I would like to purchase this doll.” The doll cost me over 55 British Pounds (I told you the shop was overpriced). The woman was so happy to make the sale that she even gave me what she probably thought was a smile. However, on her face it was more like a twitch.

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We left the shop, and my kids thought it was hilarious that I had bought the doll.  There are sill times I wonder why the doll was there at all. Why would a shop filled with pictures of the Royal Family and miniature models of Parliament also have obscene toys?  Was the old woman that owned the store really that sneaky? Had she set an elaborate trap to embarrass unsuspecting tourists into buying something? I realize that sort or thinking is just being paranoid. Or is it?

 

The Automat on Tax Day

How many readers out there still remember The Automat? It was a restaurant in New York where you never had to bother interacting with anyone. There were just rows and rows of machines filled with different kinds of food. You just put coins in, opened a little window and got what you wanted. You could  get anything from a Salisbury steak to a slice of apple pie.

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Of course,there were actual people preparing the food. But they were on the other side of the machines filing up the little windows. You did not have to see them or make fake polite conversation or even nod to them. That make it the perfect restaurant for New York.

By the time I was frequenting The Automat it was long past its glory days. It had become a very sleazy place whose main attraction was that it was open 24 hours.

What I remember most was a time I was there at 2AM. There were only about 10 people in the restaurant and they were spread out as far away as possible  from each other. It was completely silent with not even any annoying background music.

At one very large round table sat a middle aged woman with grey hair. The table was completely filled with stacks of papers and tax forms. She was pounding away furiously on a small calculator.  Along with the papers and tax forms, her table was littered with empty coffee cups. I could not help counting the cups to see how much caffeine she had ingested. I counted 15 empty coffee cups.

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Then without any warning the woman jumped up from her chair, threw a stack of papers into the air and started screaming at the top of her lungs, “It doesn’t balance! It doesn’t balance!”

Since it was New York City, none of the people at any of the other tables paid the slightest attention to her. No employees emerged from behind the machines, and people did not even look up from their own food to glance at her. She continued screaming for about four minutes and then sat back down with a big sigh and began once again pounding on her calculator.

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I finished my own food and left The Automat.  As I left, I realized that it was the morning of April 15 – Tax Day.  The caffeine charged woman still had about 22 hours to balance her taxes and get them filed before the Midnight deadline.

I always wondered if she got the figures to balance. I don’t think so.

 

 

The Tourist’s New Pet by Gregory Farrell

I was walking down West Broadway yesterday evening and passed one of those miniature parks which is surrounded by cobblestones.  There were two middle-aged woman tourists from the Mid-West oohing and aahing over some tiny  animal which had come out of the park and was not able to get back in due to the low cobblestone wall.

They were looking at a small black creature and one of the women was saying, “poor little baby. Are you lost? Can’t you figure out how to get back in?”

Just then an attractive young woman in a short skirt and a tight top walked past and looked at the scene disgustedly. In a loud Brooklyn accent she shouted “It’s a baby Rat Ladies!” and continued on her way.

The tourists either did not hear her or at least pretended not to.  I also decided to leave, since I could not stand to  watch any longer. You see, the woman from Brooklyn was correct. The creature that the tourists were treating like some lost kitten was, in fact, a baby black rat. Not like  nice clean lab rats. It was the disease-ridden, unbelievably dangerous type of animal that ever city in the world tries unsuccessfully  to wipe out completely.

As I walked away one of the woman was crouching down getting ready to pick the rat up while the other woman was looking for some of bag or box to put their new pet in.

I have the feeling that in some hotel room in New York tonight there is a rat in a cardboard box being fed crackers and cheese from a mini-bar.

So; if in the next week or two you hear a story about a couple of tourists dying from some bizarre infectious disease, you will know how they got it.

You never know what you are going to see in New York if you just look around while you walk. Just don’t pick anything up.

 

Cigarettes in the Slipstream – by Gregory F. Farrell

old gold2You kids today have it easy!”

“You kids today have it too easy.!” Those are words I vowed I would never say, having heard them approximately three million times while I was growing up. However, I have to admit that I thought those words as I drove on I-287 the other day behind a minivan. The two kids in the back seat were watching two separate movies on DVD players which swung down from the ceiling. I thought that they had it easy. But they were also missing something. They were missing  the trip itself.

In particular, I remember when I was a kid, riding with my parents and my two sisters on a long highway car trip that turned out to be  an adventure. Not a good adventure, but an adventure nevertheless.

It started with the fact that my sisters and I did not want to go. My parents piled us all into the  Buick station wagon anyway. My father used the reassuring phrase we had heard from him many times before, “You’re all going and you are going to have a good time, God Damn it!” It sounded stranger than usual when he said that, considering the fact that we were going to a wake and funeral of our Great Uncle Sean in Chicopee Massachusetts.  A long drive up the Turnpike from southern Connecticut to Massachusetts  was not the way we wanted to spend an August day.

Like most cars in those days the Buick did not have air conditioning, and it happened to be over 90 degrees that day. So we rolled down the windows and took off with two adults in the front seat and three kids and a full grown German Shepard in the back seat. (Oh yes, the dog got to come to the Funeral).

You would think that traveling at 65 miles an hour the air coming in the windows would cool you off, but it doesn’t. It’s just 90 degree air hitting you in the face very fast, while your ears are blasted by the truck and cars noises all around you. Of course, this noise makes the dog very excited and he reacts by jumping around  and barking in our ears constantly. He can’t be stopped since he is actually bigger than us kids.

Somehow my parents seemed oblivious to all of this. Adults in those days had a special way of just tuning kids out. My father drove and smoked his cigarettes while my mother read magazines and listened to the radio.

My father was a chain smoker and as he finished each cigarette he would flick it out the window with his left hand while driving with his right.  The problem is that a car traveling at 65 miles an hour creates a slipstream. I did not know that word when I was a kid, but I did know that every time my dad flicked a cigarette out the front window, the air would catch it and the lit butt would come in the back window. My sisters and I would try to duck out of the way of the lit cigarette and my sisters would scream while doing so. Of course, that would make the dog even more excited and he would jump around bashing into the three of us.

The seats were cloth, and a couple of times a cigarette butt landed on the bench seat and the cloth would start to smolder until we stamped it out with the heels of our hands.

By the time we got to Chicopee we were exhausted. The trip had made us actually look forward to the wake since it meant we would not have to be in the car any longer.

The strange part is that we really did have a good time at the wake, just like my father had said.  If you have never been to an Irish wake, then you don’t know how much fun dying can be. There is alcohol for the adults, soda for the kids and lots of food for everyone. If the deceased lived a long life people don’t talk about how sad it is he is gone. They tell funny stories about all the great things he did when he was younger. The stories made me laugh, but they also made me wish I had gotten to know my great uncle a little better when he was alive. There is an old Irish expression that says, “an Irish wake is sort of like a Bon Voyage party for the departed. The only difference is that you won’t hear anyone say, ‘I wish I was coming with you.'”

We stayed at a relative’s house in Chicopee that night and the next day had to repeat the whole arduous journey back home. The heat wave had not abated and my father had not quit smoking (and never would). By the time we got back home we kids felt like we had been to the Moon and back.

Maybe the kids in the minivan will remember what movies they watched as they rode in their isolated cocoon on the highway. I’m betting that they won’t. I do know that I will never forget ducking lit cigarettes flying at my face while my sisters screamed and a dog barked in my ear. The strangest part of it all is that it actually does come back as a fond memory.

 

 

Does That Man Have a Penis? – non-fiction true story

Tommy was special needs, and going grocery shopping with him was always an exhausting event. His father Richard was prepared for the usual antics of Tommy running up and down the aisles at full speed, or accidently knocking over a pile of oranges by reaching for the bottommost one.

What Richard was not prepared for was that the day before Tommy’s school had presented a very detailed sex-education lecture to Tommy’s class. Unlike most of the kids in his class, Tommy was not embarrassed by the presentation. He was fascinated by the detailed descriptions of the intimate body parts and their functions. That’s probably why when a man passed them in the aisle, Tommy pointed at him and said, “does that man have a penis?”

Richard was sure the man must have heard the question, and Richard thought the best course of action was to just ignore Tommy. That was a mistake.

Tommy simply pointed at the man again and shouted, “DOES THAT MAN HAVE A PENIS?”

Richard realized that the child was not going to stop until he got an answer, so Richard quickly replied, “Yes…yes he does”

The crisis was averted until Tommy stated his follow-up question. “IS IT A BIG PENIS?”

After his first mistake, Richard decided it would be best not to ignore this question, so he quickly answered, “Yes – He’s a big guy, I’m sure he has a real big penis.” This answer satisfied Tommy who then moved on to questions about the different types of foods on the shelves.

When they went to the checkout line, Richard realized too late that they were standing directly behind the big man Tommy had asked about. The big man turned around and Richard was worried about a confrontation. Instead the big man looked down at Richard with a smile and said, “Thank you.” After all, every man like a compliment.