Monday, August 7, 2017



                This blog entry came about after watching God Bless America  a couple weeks ago (which if you haven’t seen it, use the link to take a quick read and then watch it on Netflix- it’s brilliant!).  Beyond that some recent interactions I’ve had with some close friends that led me to thinking about my own (less than)
flawless past.
Moreover, it’s a quick glimpse at the negative behavior people force onto others, and our reactions to it, and quite frankly something I’ve needed to get off my chest.

The Antagonist Approach (Being Human)     

I’ll first take a look at how we as humans dole out this behavior, which oddly enough also encompasses perpetuating the negative behavior on others:
                “People have no regard for the damage they do to other people.” - God Bless America (A.K.A. The Every Self Serving Sonavbitch you’ve ever met Approach.)  In what is perhaps the oldest example of “Do unto others as they have done unto you.” in history, people that take this approach are usually the ones that irk you in some regard. And while the vast majority of the population is guilty of this, I will say it’s a matter of degrees.

                For instance, you let someone borrow a pen, which they never return. For illustration sake, let’s call this a “Level 1” offense. A lot of times we can justify these slights easily. We’ll that co-worker of mine took my pen, so I’ll take the one from the cable guy.
An example of a “Level 3” offense might be, the oaf that doesn’t pick up his dog’s shit after it craps on your front yard, slightly more aggravating then our first example. However, still reasonably justifiable by most standards. I ALWAYS pick up after MY dog, so leaving this turd here on this schlub’s lawn won’t hurt, just this once. 
You can then go all the way up to true abuse be it; mental, physical or emotional.
 If we say this list represents “Level 10” offenses. And as absurd as it might sound, a smaller portion of those diagnosed with the human condition can justify even these reprehensible actions, whether through conscious recognition or subconscious understanding. Don’t get me wrong- when I say that these too represent actions that can be justified, I am not talking about by those with mental fallacies, or other peculiar conditions. I mean people like you, me and yes even your grandmother. I can put it in perspective easily by saying; Spouse A cheats on Spouse B. Spouse B may feel compelled to do the same out of retaliation, or vindication. See, with that example it’s not such an obtuse point of view any longer…but my point is, Spouse B’s circumstances don’t make their actions appropriate. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” said your grandpa after he caught your grandmother revenge cheating.

                Life is full of people who commit innocuous versions of these transgressions. They are so commonplace that we almost expect one or two of them to occur in a day, chalking them up as inconveniences of dealing with our fellow man (or woman). Have a string of these dealings in one day; you may even refer to it as a bad day. Largely, you are unaffected by these setbacks, and you either go about your day barely noticing them, or shrugging them off as part of the rat race, like the asshole that was hell bent on not letting you merge onto the freeway this morning- he clearly saw you!
                Where these infractions begin to mount is not typically those committed anonymously by strangers, those repeatedly carried out by loved ones, friends and others that are close to you. This turns an ignorant, selfish act into a seemingly targeted attack.

REACTIONS (Trying to be More Human than Human)

The Robert Neville Approach
“I can fix this.” - I Am Legend. Some of us that feel we are enlightened, intelligent, and all around reasonable may first try to make various concessions in dealing with the people that commit these errors (regardless of level) or the offenses themselves.
Depending on our own level of success in repairing whatever damage may have been wrought, we may continue down this path of the “fixer” or we may abandon helping efforts altogether.

                The Doctor Manhattan Approach 
“I’m tired of this planet, these people…tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.”- Watchmen If we move on from our roles as fixers, we may arrive to that of the uninvolved observer. The stance of “not my problem” and/or “doesn’t directly affect me” may force our inaction.

The Punisher Approach
                “To pursue... natural justice. This is not vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive, it's an emotional response. No, not vengeance. Punishment." - Punisher. This path is fairly simple, do onto others. If someone commits a minor transgression against you, the chosen course of action is to even the score, harm then, or do what has been done back to them.

Why do we do it? (Acting Human)

            No formal thought
            Though it may seem like a cop out, the truth is that most of these abrasive situations arise because people aren’t actively thinking about consequences.  Humans love to auto pilot through the day, this often leads to the inability to see the reactions of our actions, if you will.
            Self Interest
            They are actively thinking about themselves. The guy that cut you off in traffic, the lady that cut you in line, the politician that cut your health coverage.  All of them were acting out of their own best interest, not yours.
                They didn’t say, “I’m going to do ____ to Joe today.” But they did do ____ to Joe today. The end result is the same.

                Quasi-evil intent
            While this may sound a bit over the top, some people do enjoy the slight spark of torment that goes along with causing you inconvenience or minor harm. These people are perhaps the easiest to deal with, but the hardest to figure out. Assuming, that is, you want to figure them out at all. Personally, I’d like to see what makes them tick slightly out of time.

What do we do?
       Just deal with it man, that’s life after all.

                If you’ve read this far you were probably hoping for a better solution, I’m sure.
                However, honestly encounters like these and the more awkward, difficult situations in life builds both character, improvisational thinking and resiliency.
                “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
-  Henry Ford

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold: Something Different

                Harold’s room is dark. There’s no lights, no TV, not even the glowing blue power light of his PlayStation. The street lights outside cast a pale amber glow across the floor from the window. It makes the space look sour.

            The boy who is normally full of whimsical, and yet often profound imaginative qualities looks sullen. He can usually be found doodling or reading comic books, but instead he sits slumped on his bed, staring at nothing, thinking of everything. His cheeks are puffy, red-hot and not quite wet from stale tears.

            After waiting to see if he snaps out of it on his own, Harold’s mom knocks, but opens the already cracked door at the same time.

            “You ready to tell me what happened today?”

            Harold sniffed, a thick snort filled the room. His mother handed him a tissue, and waited.

            “I got beat up.” Harold turned towards the window as he said the words.

            “Really?” his Mom looked him over. “You look fine. Are you okay?”

            Harold shrugged off the hand that inspected his face, “I’m fine Mom, it didn’t hurt,” this he said proudly, as he craned his neck back towards his mother. She could see in his eyes, he meant what he had said. The truth in his words was overwhelming. She wanted to hold him, hug him, but she resisted, knowing that wasn’t what he needed right now.

            “So?” she asked casually.

            Finally, Harold spoke, “Ronnie Danko called me ‘fat boy’ again today.”

            Harold’s Mom nodded.

            “I told him if he ever done it again, I was gonna punch him in the mouth.”

            “So what’d you do?”

            “I punched him in the mouth,” Harold giggled, and his Mom joined him in the laughter.

            “I take it there’s more to the story?”

            Harold nodded, “After I punched him, he didn’t fall. He came at me, knocked me down and kicked me in the stomach a few times before Mr. Rawls broke it up.”

            “Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”

            “The worst part was no one helped me. No one even yelled at him to stop.”

            She held his hand, he let her. Harold’s Mom wanted to cry for her son. She was furious as she imagined the crowd of students staring, mouths agape, fulfilling their role as nothing but spectators. She didn’t say what she was thinking, “What happened after?”

            “I dunno, not much.” Harold’s speech quickened though, “Mr. Rawls carted Ronnie off to the office, Trisha, that student-teacher, took me to the nurse.”

            “And?” the patience in her voice was profound, knowing.

            “When’s it go back to normal?”

            She thought she had been prepared for the question, any question. “Does what go back to normal?”

            “Me?” Harold paused, maybe struggling a bit to find words, which was never a problem for him under normal circumstances. “I feel empty, like he took what made me happy.”

            She could hold back no longer, she hugged Harold, tightly. “Don’t worry it’ll come back in time son, and it will be stronger than ever. You will be stronger than ever.”

            “Thanks Mom.”

            “Thanks for talkin’ to me,” she rose from his bed, and headed for the door.

            “Mom, I thought I had him you know? I just thought I had it figured out, how it would go. Thought, he would fall and not get back up.”

            She paused to look down at her son, “Sounds like you two have something in common. Only difference is he got up and kept going during the fight, you get to do it after.”

            Harold nodded. She hoped he understood as much as he seemed. “Oh by the way, there is one thing I know for sure little man.”

            “Ya, what’s that?”

            “That precise moment when you think you have things figured out, just know you don’t.”

            “So what do you do then?”

            “Something different.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

To George

          By the time this post is actually published a little over a week will have passed since Mr. Romero has left this mortal coil. I imagine that in that time, the internet and its fickle nature will have moved on with their lives.
          However, I still feel it necessary to pen something about just how deeply, and in how many ways George Romero’s work has impacted my memories and the way I have chosen to entertain myself over the years.

          As such, I guess it makes the most sense to start at the beginning. I watched the original black and white version of Night of the Living Dead with my father when I was about twelve years old. It was strange to me, not because he was letting me watch a fairly violent, gory movie at such a young age, but because it was a horror movie. And let’s just say my dad was more a Clint Eastwood than Clive Barker fan. I remember asking, “Is it in color?” in the way a whiny preteen might pose the question.

          I recall sitting in our living room in the house I grew up. Quickly, I was transported to a graveyard in Pennsylvania and within seconds I had forgotten that I might’ve had an issue with black and white films. Immersion was cemented when I heard those words, “They’re coming to get you Barbara…”

          Much like zombie-based pop culture, that was not the last I had heard of George Romero, nor was it the last time he would have an influence on what I was doing with my free time, or my then burgeoning interest in the living dead.

          If I fast forward through time, I can recall countless examples of his influence in media. Everything from video games (Resident Evil) to more movies, Shaun of the Dead, not to mention the countless comics, and books I consumed during my late teens and early twenties. And course, World War Z and The Walking Dead would've never come to pass without Romero! The man even starred in his own game, Call of the Dead as part of the Black Ops zombie franchise!
          Honestly, some of what Romero fathered was truly groundbreaking, adding their own mark to zombie lore, others were not much more than a gore fest. But they all had one thing in common; Romero had inspired them all.
         As I grew older, I began to realize that not only did the man invent an entire subgenre based on his work, he also had quite a bit of meaty commentary behind his work, to back up the flesh-eating ghouls that we were seeing on screen. As evidenced by this and other quotable items he's uttered in regard to his filmmaking over the years; "My zombies will never take over the world, because I need the humans. The humans are the ones I dislike the most, and they're where the trouble really lies."
        In conclusion, I think it'd be really easy to say something droll about Mr. Romero such as; "He will rise from the grave and live in infamy." However, I believe the man deserves better than that, and as such, I will simply say: Thanks for the memories. Your legacy has had, and will continue to have, an everlasting reach.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold: Dairy Comics (Featuring "The Prodigious Cheese-Man")


            Harold sits regally atop a throne of gold and yellow.

            “I didn’t ask for this power…”

            As we examine him we can see he is wearing a colored outfit, similar in hue to that of his throne. The garb almost looks like that of a cut rate comic book hero; yellow cape, orange tights, oversized gloves shaped like triangles of pale yellow.

            Harold snaps his fingers. A small square of yellow-orange appears before Harold’s open mouth.

            “This blessing…”

            Harold chomps down on the tiny floating brick of cheese, devours it in one bite. He snaps his fingers again, repeating the process.

            “This curse.”

            “They say with great power comes great responsibility. But even they never knew the power I now hold, and what it might cost me.” Harold gazes down, taking in the ridiculous over-sized gloves covering his hands. He scans the back of his hands in deep contemplation…


            …In an alley coated in shadow, two dark figures stand speaking in hushed whispers. It’s easy to tell from their body language and rushed conversation they’re up to no good.

            But then an ethereal figure floats down from the sky. For a moment it resembles our innocent protagonist Harold, but that’s merely a fleeting trick on the eyes. For we now only see…

            “The Prodigious Cheese Man!” One of the ne’er-do-wells cries out, as he takes off running.

            The other pauses, if only to ask, “If he’s got cheese powers, how does that make him fly?”

            A booming voice delivers the line that makes villains quiver with an upset stomach. It is his only response, “Are you fellas lactose intolerant? You will be!”

            Both men are now in full sprint, trying to get to the open street at the end of the alleyway.

            The Cheese Man’s right hand begins to reshape itself, in a few moments where there was an abnormally large gloved hand, there’s now a Gatling-gun shaped appendage.

            “No criminal can escape the Curd Turret!” Cheese Man declares, as he opens fire on the two men. Round upon round of creamy, gel-like cheese curds erupt from the barrel that once was a hand. The substance coats the blacktop, covers the walls of the buildings that form the alley, and pelts dumpsters- the twangy-thud of them echoing off the metal containers.  

            The two men are cut down, covered in a thick layer of cheese curd, so much so that they struggle to move, but cannot.

            Just then a van skids into view at the mouth of the alley. The side panel is flung aside, revealing a mounted gun. A man in a black ski mask grins maniacally behind it.

            “Remember, Cheese-Man; turnabout is fair play!” the masked man cackles into the night, releasing the lever on the .50 caliber machine gun. This time its metal shell casings that ring against the pavement instead of the splat of cheese curds.

            Cheese-Man is forced to take evasive action. He dives behind the closest dumpster, knowing that the gunfire will soon tear through the dumpster’s material. The bullets fly past, some so close Cheese Man can feel the hot break in the air as they whiz by.

            As the chaos surrounds him, Cheese-Man closes his eyes to try and think. Its then he hears the most majestic sound his ears could imagine: a cow mooing into the night.

            Make no mistake, this is no ordinary moo. It’s fearsome and prolonged, more like the feral howl of a wolf than anything a bovine creature might produce.

            Cheese-Man opens his eyes, and finds himself staring up at the moon. Superimposed over it is the shadow of a cow. And lucky for him, it’s not just any cow.

            In a flash, the cow’s silhouette has disappeared from the face of the moon. With a whoosh the panel van in front of the alley is hit from the rear by what seems to be a cannon. The vehicle rocks on its frame, causing the masked machine gunner to fly forward, the machine gun grows still and quiet.

            One of the thugs ensnared within the mound of cheese curds comments, “So the cow can fly too? I don’t understand any of this.”

            “Shut up you!” Cheese-Man emerges from the alley and is greeted by a green cow, wearing what appear to be yellow galoshes, and matching goggles.

            “Moo the Cow, ol’ friend!” Cheese-Man attempts to high-five the cow.

            The cow replies with, “Moo.”

            “Oh ya, right.” Cheese-Man lowers his hand realizing his mistake, “Well it’s great to see you as always. Your timing is impeccable.”

            However, fate’s sense of timing is more macabre.

            The masked man is dizzy as he tumbles from the passenger side of the van. Though this does not seem to affect the grip he has on the pistol in his hand. He staggers towards our distracted heroes.

            Cheese-Man’s back is to the masked man, but Moo the Cow sees the villain clearly. “Mooooo!” the cow pitches Cheese-Man out of the way, as the masked man raises his gun.

            Two shots are fired as Cheese-Man looks on in horror.


            Again, we are transported back to Harold, the Cheese-Man that was, and will forever be sitting atop his throne alone.

            “Yes,” he says to himself solemnly, “great powers indeed…but even with great powers I fall short of being able to stop a bullet, return the dead to life, or perform mouth-to-snout resuscitation.”

            Cheese-Man is through grieving. He rises to through the air, clenching his fists in rage. As he floats there, hovering above the ground he vows, “I will find this masked man and I will make him pay. I promise you Moo!”


            In the background of the room, the two thugs from the alleyway, are still frozen in dry cheese curd, hardened to the density of stone. One looks to the other, “I still don’t get how he can fly. I don’t care how cheesy his powers are. They can’t make you fly?”

            His partner responds, “Oh my God! Shut up already!”

            “What? It’s a legitimate question!”




R.I.P. Moo the Cow 7/17/17-7/17/17

Monday, July 10, 2017


There’s are many things I dislike, among them; when men wear v-neck t-shirts, humidity, being said I “look like” any and every bald, white male celebrity.
Similarly, but limited to things that truly irk me, are occurrences I would place in the category of hate. At the top of these, is when I see people being bilked into believing that something is true, when it simply isn’t.
Truth be told, there’s been a lot of commotion about fake news lately. You all know where that came from, and so I will not spend time or precious words delving into that again.*
What I will say is I feel bad for anyone that gets convinced into believing outright falsehoods or half truths, just because the read a compelling post in their Facebook news feed.
I say this not as a Republican, not as a Democrat either. The only agenda I have is to help people do more to think for themselves. Therefore, I can freely say EVERYTHING in media has a slant to it. Every news agency, radio station, website, television network, blog (uh oh) has an angle. If that angle isn’t politically motivated, you can bet it’s motivated by something else; sales, donations, clicks, emotional response, or some other form of attention.  
I was moved to write about this today when I saw, more than one Facebook contact post the below. Essentially, it’s a post trying to fuel the flames of anti-refugee rhetoric via social media. As you might’ve guessed by now it’s not true, Snopes did a piece on this very thing back in 2015 (with an update in 2016), you can read it here. Note, that Snopes hasn’t called out this particular use of this post (at least as of my writing), but you’ll notice the pictures are recycled from the stories labeled as false on their previous reports.

Which brings me to my next point, think critically - what might the poster or originator of these types of items get out of you “liking”, or otherwise circulating their post? If you can answer that question without any skepticism, good for you. If not, I would suggest following some of the steps used to evaluate peer reviewed literature. Cornell University (which I have never attended) has a great guide available here, that can be applied to just about any item or source.
I’d also like to state that what bothers me most about these types of posts are the unfounded prejudices they perpetuate, and the dividing lines they are clearly attempting to draw. Let me also remind you that  ALL of us are in this together.

To conclude, if you are so inclined, you can choose to be republican, you can choose to be democrat, but please don’t choose to be ignorant.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold: Make America Poop Again

The oval office is crowded- filled to the brim with white men in suits, most of whom are glancing at Harold with drawn, dire expressions. They seem to regard him as an anomaly, a political stunt, or even a distraction like so many tweets meant to divert a nation’s attention from reality.
In a few minutes of adult-time, but a lifetime in kid-time, the President, and Harold’s new boss, enters the room. Harold watches from his own huge leather chair as all the other men stand to greet him. Some step forward and shake hands or pat him on the back.
Harold notices that through each interaction, none of the other men mentioned the negative things they’d been conversing about regarding the President before he entered the room.
President Trump takes his seat at the head of the table. Harold sees that unquestionably he is in charge as he has a huge chair, the biggest chair in the room, bigger than anyone’s.
“Thank you all for coming here,” the President begins in a serious tone. “As you all know the biased media, with their fake news about this administration’s collusion with Russia- I mean alleged and totally false and sad - did I mention sad? - collusion with Russia have caused my approval rating to plummet.”
The men around the room nod heartily.
“So it’s with that concern in mind that I have sought out a new image consultant. He comes highly recommended, he is truly the best, and believe me I know all the best image consultants. With his youth, intellect and unique skill set, he is going to help us truly make America great again. Everyone, please welcome Harold. ”   
Harold sees them, the way they stare at him as he stands to speak, with their darting, snake-like eyes. He can tell they consider him to be different and thus not worthy of their respect or even idle consideration. Harold began to think, to slowly realize, he was everything they were not: young, poor, respectful of others, and unafraid. Although he could see they were most certainly afraid, Harold wasn’t quite sure what men of their stature would fear.
“Thank you President Trump. Thank you all, let me get started by throwing out some numbers; 4.7 million, 28%, ½.”
The old men before him stared back with raised eyebrows and looks that told even the casual observer they were lost.
“Mr. Trump, if I could speak freely sir?”
The President nodded to Harold.
“With all due respect sir- Mr. President, I’m a kid and even I can see that politicians-along with most people- are full of shit.”
Gasps rang out from all over the room.
Harold flushed a bit, but continued his speech, “America’s full of it sir.”
Now groans came from the crowd, though President Trump still listened at full attention.  “It’s full of greatness already. The problem isn’t that we lack greatness, it’s the fact that we are constipated with greatness sir, we don’t know how to get it out.”
Some of the men around the room began whispering to those next to them.
“So you see sir, as your new image consultant, my recommendation isn’t to rework your image from the ground up. We only need to change one word.”
Harold holds up a finger as he removes a small remote from his pocket. Pressing the button a large banner unfurls from behind the President’s seat.
Harold keys in on the President to see his reaction.

A true moment passes, then a single, shimmering tear rolls down his cheek, and Mr. Trump stands and begins clapping with fervor.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold: Full Jelly Alchemist

Harold was sitting idly at the breakfast table. A bare piece of toast lay on the plate before him. It represented everything today would be; bland, flat, coarse.
Today was Harold's first day back to school after the brief respite of summer. Today would be a day of awkward shyness. A day of pecking orders being established between students and faculty, as well as among students and students. Harold stared at his glass of orange juice, this crucial part of today’s balanced breakfast was nearly at its bottom. This visual only served to remind Harold where he fell in his school’s hierarchical rolls.
“Harry, eat something, your going to starve.”
Harold blew a long strand of hair from his face in a huff. He didn’t need to look at his rotund frame to know that statement would be a long time coming, before it came true. “I’m not hungry Mom.”
Mom sighed, making a brief trek to the fridge. When she returned to the table a plastic container of margarine and a glass jar of grape jelly suddenly appeared. “Eat,” Mom commanded.
Harold smiled as Mom turned her back, busying herself with the mundane tasks of an adult. Whispering to himself alone, Harold recited, “Just the ingredient I need for my potion, at my thoughts you’ll heed my every notion…”
Harold’s eyes focused on the jelly jar, and before him a thin tendril of purple began to climb up the inside of the jar. Worm-like it pushed itself up and over the jar’s lip, past those ridges where the cap screws on, and down the outside of the glass.
Harold watched this spectacle unfold, but quickly glanced at his mother. As he did so the thin cylindrical mass of grape jelly became motionless. When Harold was satisfied Mom was still preoccupied with her grown up distractions, the jelly-worm formed a thin concave mouth and a tiny arm, complete with a three-fingered hand. With it, the glob of jelly smiled and tipped an imaginary hat to Harold. Harold returned both the smile and the gesture in kind.
Harold then winked and the grape worm wiggled and swayed, grew and twisted into a baseball player. Though roughly the size of a G.I. Joe, the grape ballplayer was a brute of a man, with a chest like a barrel and a large broad bat. The ballplayer stood, chest heaving as if he were living and breathing there on Harold’s kitchen table.
Harold reached over him, with what by comparison was the hand of a giant. He dunked two fingers inside the jelly jar, retrieving a generous glob of the purple substance. The ballplayer watched as Harold sat the hand that contained the jelly on the surface of the table. Looking at the tiny jelly ballplayer he held his free hand over the jelly-smeared fingers on his opposite hand. He made a balling, rolling motion and the jelly, now molded like clay, did the same. Harold repeated this process a few times over.  A few seconds passed and there sat three miniscule, gelatinous baseballs.
The ballplayer nodded knowingly. He readied his bat, shimmied and lined up his hips, tapping the head of the bat against the tabletop, and against his grape-jelly formed cleats.
With a flick of his fore finger and his thumb, Harold “threw” the first diminutive purple ball towards the matching ballplayer without ever touching it. The ballplayer swung, arching his head upwards to see past the brim of his little hat, and watched intently as the jelly baseball flew across the open air of the table, arched high, and then landed with a splat-pat on top of Harold’s toast. In succession, the following two jelly-balls found their mark as well.

“Thanks,” again, Harold found himself smiling at the little guy.
“Harold,” Mom began to turn around, “have you finished eating yet? That bus is probably barrelin’ around the corner right now.”
Mom turned quickly, but paused just long enough to check the clock. Harold had to act. With a grimace, and a short wave Harold said goodbye to the ballplayer. Instantly, the caricature of an athletic baseball player sunk into an unrecognizable patty shape. And then disappeared, seeming to fall right through, rather than off, the table itself.
The succinct but groaning horn of the bus driver signaled it was time for Harold to leave.
Harold wolfed down the now jelly covered toast. “Love ya Mom,” he hugged her at the waist and trotted out the door. With his backpack slung around him Harold went through the front door. He felt like he was an adventurer preparing for a long expedition.


Back in the kitchen, Mom removes Harold’s plate from the table and sits it in the sink. When she returns to retrieve the jelly jar and the butter she sees something beneath the table. She kneels to get a closer look.
Mom’s eyes narrow and she finds herself staring at a blob of grape jelly. Although its perimeter indicates the foodstuff was dropped from quite a height, she thinks she can make out a rough shape in spite of its messiness.

“Hmm, kinda looks like a little guy with a bat, maybe a baseball player...”