Friday, December 31, 2010

Whats Next??

…Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

                                                                   -- Mark Twain

The hustle and bustle of Christmas is but a fleeting memory in our mind’s photo album as we stare down the foggy path into the future.  Preparations to traverse a threshold that is a brand new year punctuate the energy and excitement of the holidays.

I love the year-end retrospectives and predictions which permeate television and print media at this time of the year. They’re helpful reminders of where we’ve been and what’s to come...even though we're about to careen from the media proclaimed "Fiscal Cliff."   

As an added bonus, year-end reviews are so much more meaningful and deep when hosted by Al Roker or Ryan Seacrest.  

Past is, indeed, prologue.

I hope that the new year unlocks the door to pressing unknowns in this crazy, fast paced world…such as:

a) WHO will be the next American Idol??????

b) Did I pay my bar tab last night?

c) HOW is South Beach Tow a real television program?

d) How are there absolutely NO nude photos of Jessica Alba on the Internet.  I'll settle for photoshop fakes!!

e) Will I ever, EVER successfully make it through the traffic signal at the intersection near my house??

I had but one obligation on Christmas day this year…it involved laying on my couch eating a tuna wrap and Fritos, bouncing between a Star Wars marathon and “A Christmas Story“, then the NFL Network special edition football game.

Each Christmas morning I usually call my buddy Todd to verify that the “Santa” presents are being unwrapped by his kid and that he's still married. 

I wait for an additional hour (usually the amount of time that it takes for his kid to break all of the “Santa” presents and for Todd and his wife to wage a full scale argument.)  I then swoop in and rescue him by taking him out for about three shots of whiskey as his wife blows up his cell phone.

For the record, Todd usually stashes a sexual toy in Melissa's stocking.  This year his in-laws stayed over and Melissa opened "The Eager Beaver" right in front of mom and dad.  Hahahaha!  Todd is a hopeless romantic I suppose.

Somehow, I got blamed for it??!! 

Todd is a political thriller and history author.  When he's not writing, he's usually making up a story as to how I've kept him out late in order to avoid trouble at home. 

Todd usually gives me a book for Christmas and this year he presented me with my very own copy of a Time Life book titled:

"Twenty Largest Disasters In World History"

Nothing says Happy Holidays quite like a front row seat to death, destruction, mayhem and suffering. The only thing which would have made my gift complete is if he’d punched me directly in the head as hard as possible and then lit me on fire.

Another part of the preparation process for greeting the new year is dismantling the Christmas decorations.

Folklore has it that it’s bad luck to enter a new year with decorations still in place.  It appears that it’s bad luck to put up decorations in the first place; as proven by a close friend who fell and broke his arm this year while situating a star atop his 20-foot Christmas tree. 

I only taped Christmas cards to my kitchen entryway this year. I also placed a beautiful poinsettia on my front porch...which I lifted from the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton downtown. 

I received many cards this season and appreciate each one. However, in retrospect, I wish my friends would have just given me the $131.00 which they collectively spent on this pile of cards so that I might pay my parking fines to the city of New Orleans. 

I don't mind paying fines and city taxes to the New Orleans Municipal Government, as it goes toward important services such as:

  • Filling the same pothole in front of my house 197 times per year
  • Repairing crime cameras after criminals either shoot them or dismantle them with ball bats
As I stored my greeting cards today,  I was reminded of the time when I wrote some samples for a small, boutique card company.

Writers sometimes freelance and I figured this would be a PERFECT independent  project for me. Some of my sample submissions included:

Father’s Day
Even though my dad is dead, I wish you a happy father's day.

In your time of mourning, please know that our thoughts are with you. And, everyone wishes that it had been you instead.

On this Valentines Day, I realize that many of your co-workers will receive masses of flowers and fancy balloon deliveries. Don't be envious...just remember, I have a huge penis!

To the BESTEST grandson in the whole wide world**

**Please give this card and enclosed money to your brother…Oh, and Happy Birthday!

Missing You
I miss you very much.  So, I've engaged in a large amount of promiscuous sex in order to allay my feelings of loneliness, neediness and low self esteem.

Boss’ Day
F%*k You Mike!!

Just Married

Congratulations on your engagement. As you spend this blissful time before the big day, keep in mind that there’s still time to find someone much better!

Get Well/Male Child
Sorry about your boo boo.  If you had a stronger male role model in your life you wouldn't be such a sissy.

Baby Daddy/ Father's Day

To: _____________________________
Insert name(s) here


I never got the job. I suppose my stuff was a little too outside the box for their taste.

My published writing and blog silliness is just that…silliness. As I reflect at the end of 2010, I'm reminded of a reader email which I recently received: 

Love reading your stuff from the middle of nowhere Iraq.  I could tell you where I'm stationed, but then I'd have to kill ya.  Haha!  It must be fun to be in your head for a day...I'm curious, do you EVER write serious stuff?  If you do, I'd love to read it.  Have a great New Year!

Let me refocus your attention to, what I believe to be, a very serious issue about which I wrote earlier in this piece...

WHY are there no nude photos of Jessica Alba??  WHY?

Serious stuff huh?  Okay, here goes...

While I believe in the importance of assisting impoverished regions throughout the world, it’s important to note that we live in the world's wealthiest nation. Yet 13 percent of people living in the United States live in poverty.  It's not my fault, nor yours...but it's a fact.

Nearly one in four children live in households that struggle to put food on the table. The number attached to that percentage translates to 16.7 million children.

Between Iraq and Afghanistan, over 180-thousand soldiers put their lives on the line each day.

Whether or not you believe in the foundation for these wars, that statistic is real and represents real people--such as the soldier who sent the above email.  They greatly deserve our support and honor.

Between 6 and 8 million animals end up in shelters each year, with the exception of one little needy cat and a scruffy little dog who have recently found a happy home in the tiny offices of Pontchartrain Press.

Of the above number, 3-4 million of these animals are euthanized yearly.

The numbers go on and on and on, representing the good, the bad and the ugly.  Oddly, I still find myself concentrating on the numbers which represent "good." 

Such as:

The number of people who volunteer for a higher cause, the number of people who make the world a brighter place and the number of people who I encounter on a daily basis who offer something as simple as a warm and genuine smile. 

Those are the people who generally make me not want to throw them or myself into an oncoming bus.  And...that represents the good.

Don't mistake my sentiments...I'm not going left wing or as not to anger Rush Limbaugh.

I do, indeed, act like a child most of the time, so I recently reached out to a close writer friend of mine for deeper perspective. As an historical note, I typically do not engage in conversation of a serious nature when I call Amanda because I'm usually undressing her with my eyes, but she sums up selflessness and friendship much better than I:

Anytime I'm at a red light and someone is standing there with a sign, I give them the 72 cents in the ashtray. I know these people aren't gonna spend it on food. It's not like they're one hot meal away from turning it all around.

In fact, I hope they spend it on booze or drugs or whatever's gonna get them through one more night. At least I know where I’ll be sleeping tonight, and it won't be in an abandoned warehouse where the very attempt at staying warm may very well kill me.

I don't know how to help you make your point in this article, except to tell you MY point of view on it...

Give when you can, whatever you can, to whomever needs it. Start at home. Take care of the people you know and love. Don't let anyone in your realm be hungry, homeless or lonely if there's a way for you to help.

A healthy perspective indeed Amanda.  I'm still trying to figure out how she knows that there is precisely 72 cents in the car ashtray.  Then again, Amanda remembers each and every time I've been incorrect about something or did something dumb for the past 6 years. 

From the streets of America to a village in Africa; another enlightening perspective from Pete:

An acquaintance who served briefly as a missionary in Africa told me about the most interesting observation she made while there:

The Americans had brought some non-perishable food items and they had fun teaching the kids to bake a cake from a Betty Crocker mix. But, the kids had the most fun with the BOX. They'd never seen one, had no concept of waste and no word for "trash."
 Who needs a word for trash?  A picture is worth a thousand words...

Of course, I'm KIDDING!  I know trash when I see it...

I really have no clever way to make my exit from this piece other than to offer my wishes for peace, love and prosperity to you in the new year.

This has certainly been an enlightening year.  A year filled with ups, downs, in betweens, gratuitous nudity, laughter, tears, a weird football season, the ONE time I finally beat Todd at a game of pool and some random guy who pulled his pants down on the St. Charles streetcar line while singing a Fats Domino song...but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Life is much more interesting that way.

Here's to the new year...and many more!!  Now, back to my quest for Jessica Alba photos.

                                               HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

                                       ~T.S. Eliot

coyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Can I Get A Ho Ho Ho? Or Just a Ho?

I’ve kept somewhat of a low profile lately as I recovered from a terrible cold.

When I catch a cold, I do what most rational minded people do...I rack my brain to figure out WHO gave me the cold so I can assign blame and then hunt them down and destroy them.  Sort of like the president vs. the terrorists policy only more effective.

I must admit, I could get used to sleeping for 12 to 16-hours per day. Unfortunately, I’m not a bass guitar player. Plus, my debtors do not accept pleasant telephone conversation or poetry as a form of payment.

Men tend to act like little kids when they're sick.  I’m proud to say that I’m NOT a big baby when I catch cold.  I simply bite the bullet, stare down the cold, keep a stiff upper lip and then I cry uncontrollably.

Much of the time I lie in a corner in the fetal position screaming for my mommy. I become quite irritable and I beg for hot sponge baths…even from total strangers.

After a full recovery, a few of my writer friends insisted that it was time for our annual Christmas get-together.  They also informed me that it would skew a little differently this year. This season it would be a night out on the town for, what they called:

                                  “Trailer Park Christmas”

I’ve never heard of a trailer park Christmas, so I quickly informed them that I do not own a wife-beater or jean shorts.  Apparently it’s an evening filled with simple fun, mischief and inappropriateness…ala Uncle Eddie from National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Translation: A bunch of misbehaving writers could potentially be kicked out of several establishments on this particular December evening.

The culprits in attendance for our outing included me, Amanda, Rich, Todd and Marie.

As a side note, before anyone dispatches an irate email accusing me of holding stereotypical preconceptions toward trailer parks, it’s important to note that I did NOT coin the title of our night on the town.

I’ve known many fine people who lived in trailer parks and do not subscribe to blanket notions toward the many, based on the actions of a select few.  (As seen on the award winning television program, Cops.)

For that matter, I hold absolutely no opinion toward anyone who has relations with their first cousin or those who suffer from multiple dentifrice anomalies. I’m also quite empathetic to people who scrape by on a budget yet have three satellite dishes and habitual gambling problems.

In all honesty, I’m envious of the 155-inch plasma television parked in the living room of some trailers-- the television costs more than the trailer and weighs more than any of their grown children, who subsequently also live in the trailer.**

**Note: Presumably a double wide

Now that I think about it, anyone who has a television which weighs enough to practically tip over their residence while living under the exhilarating potentiality that they might be annihilated at any moment by a tornado are my kind of people!  Plus, they usually have a lot of beer.

Back to Trailer Park Christmas…Our first stop came at 4:30pm.  Dinner at the Texas Cattle Corral. Rich and Amanda, admittedly, LOVE this joint for one reason only…they love the hot dinner rolls and cinnamon butter.

I politely pointed out that I love Taco Supremes and Gorditas but I don‘t care to host a Christmas get together at Taco Bell. Rich quickly reminded me that no one in our circle is normal. Touché.

This reminded me that I’ve been putting off adding an item to my New Year’s Resolution list for far too long..."Move to a remote cave in Afghanistan."


Question: WHO eats dinner at 4:30pm??
Answer: About 500 people at the Texas Cattle Corral.

We stepped into an atmosphere filled with blaring country music, crying babies, obnoxious little kids, walkers, tank tops, several women who forgot their bras, flip flop adorned feet and some guy wearing a t-shirt with a giant candy cane emblazoned across the front with the following caption:

                                  “Jolly Old Saint Lick”

He further accessorized this snappy/smart outfit by looking like a serial sex offender and he wore a camouflage Santa hat.

Since reservations are not required at the Screaming Baby, Dinner Roll Emporium & Cattle Corral, it took us only 37-minutes to be seated.

While we waited, I observed a teenage guy and girl who served as host & hostess. Judging by, what they likely thought to be, subtle co-worker interaction, these two crazy kids clearly could not wait to run to the back room on their break and have unbridled teenage animal sex.**

**Note: You'd be amazed at how many search engine keyword “hits” my site receives simply by my using a term such as “animal sex.” I’m sure Jolly Saint Lick will bring in some hits as well.

Since I’d never visited the Texas Capital Punishment, Slaughter House, Dinner Roll Factory & Pistol Firing Range, I put my trust in Rich and Amanda’s appetizer suggestions.

Knowing that I was about to eat an entire cow, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the appetizer list offered a selection of fresh veggies.

The platter overflowed with an abundance of garden delights…all encrusted in about 15-layers of deep-fried batter with several bowls of ranch dressing and melted cheese.

After dinner, we shared a table full of desserts when the inevitable conversation shift occurred... initiated by (no surprise) one of the girls.

Marie: So, what’s everyone’s favorite Christmas memory?

This is a prime example as to why Marie never keeps a boyfriend.  I thought we were simply going to eat, drink, act like children and throw-up at the end of an inappropriate evening. 

If Marie or Amanda became drunk enough to reveal a pair of candy cane striped thongs after a few drinks, I'd consider it a shining star atop the proverbial Christmas tree!

Conducting a Martha Stewart/Hallmark Channel memory lane flashback was nowhere on my agenda.  Nonetheless, Rich, who was already drunk, chimed in first:

Rich: Waking up when I was 9 years old to the brand new bike that I'd wanted forever!

Me: Shut up.  All of you, please shut up...I'm begging.

Marie: Awww. That’s sweet Rich….Jim, don't be a f#*%^ng Grinch!

Amanda: Mine was when I was in college. Before we’d all go our separate ways for the holiday; me and my girlfriends would always open a few bottles of wine and do a sleep-over the week before Christmas and exchange gifts.

Todd: (interrupting) Was there any nudity or confused college girl bi-sexual experimentation?

Amanda: Do you EVER have sex Todd?

Todd: I'm married...what do YOU think?

Me: I think Todd poses a valid question. Is there something more that you're hiding from us in your Christmas memory?  Most importantly, do you possess any pictures of your thinly disguised college Christmas "get together?"

Marie: Todd, what’s YOUR favorite Christmas memory?

Todd: Sitting around the fireplace as a family.  We’d sip hot chocolate and listen to old Christmas records while playing Monopoly until mom and dad tucked us into bed as we anxiously waited for Santa Claus. (longing sigh) Those were the days!

Awkward silence/skepticism among the table

Todd: (breaks into hysterical laughter) I’m kidding! I had crazy sex all night on Christmas eve a few years ago before I married Melissa.

Amanda: THAT’S your fondest memory??

Todd: Absolutely! Oh, we DID have a Joe Cocker Christmas CD on in the background.  And, I video taped the entire night!

Me: He's telling the truth...I've seen it.

Rich: Was it with Melissa?

Todd: Of course not. I don’t want to participate in a sex tape involving Melissa.  I can see her naked anytime.

Amanda: Yet, I'll bet you still don't.

Me: How, exactly, are you still married?

Todd: She loves my charm.

My favorite Christmas memory was when I got my first car.  Primarily because I could slip away from get togethers with crazy distant relatives anytime I wanted. 

After dinner I'd politely excuse myself and drive away as though I'd just pulled a bank heist.

My dad used to become irritated, specifically because I didn't take him with me.

In retrospect, my experience at the Cattle Corral was very good.  I enjoyed my steak and, as an added bonus, we were served by a friendly young woman named Holly.

Amanda and Marie didn’t like Holly too much but I can’t remember when I’ve received such outstanding service in a restaurant.  Todd and Rich agree with me on this.

I filled out three comment cards praising Holly’s outstanding server abilities, her winning attitude and cheerful smile.  I snapped a cell phone picture of her:

Holly!  Such a lovely smile and The BESTEST server in the world!!
After dinner, we pulled the trailer park Christmas train into Wal Mart where Rich suggested that we spread out and purchase “Secret Santa” gifts to exchange at the end of the evening.

This reminds me of when I was a kid and my redneck uncles used to exchange gifts at the family gathering on Christmas day. They’d give one another, and I’m not making this up, a carton of cigarettes which they'd purchased en route to the family gathering.

Nothing says Happy Holidays quite like giving the gift of emphysema. Plus, it’s especially meaningful to receive a gift with a personal message from the Surgeon General plastered across the side.

Venturing in separate directions, once inside the Wal Mart, I headed for the obvious aisle...the liquor section.

I suppose that since the fine folks at Wal Mart figured that the Greater New Orleans area lacked adequate alcohol availability in its 5-thousand bars, a gigantic discount liquor section was needed.

I purchased a bottle of vodka, a 12-pack of Miller High Life, Gummie Lifesavers and a Santa hat before meeting our group back at the front door.

Next stop…something festive. We decided that we would include a traditional holiday stop on our night out, so we visited City Park.

For those who are unfamiliar, in addition to being a prime rendezvous point for those who connect on Craig's List "Casual Encounters," City Park is home to an enormous, self guided, tour of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s called Celebration In The Oaks.

Because it's New Orleans, obviously, alcohol is readily available for purchase.  We simply brought our own...trailer park style! 

Now that I think about it, I suppose they don't call it "Christmas In The Oaks" because attaching a title with religious connotations to a large public event would incite several public "watch-dog" groups who might line the park's board of directors against a wall and summarily execute them.**

**The preceding was a paid 527(s ) political action committee announcement for Pat Robertson

Among the elaborate decorations, you’ll find hundreds of thousands of breathtaking lights carefully strung from the majestic hundred year-old oak trees.  The magical twinkling light show looms high above as young couples, children, families and five drunken writers stroll beneath.

We decided it best not to defile Unmentionable Holiday/Celebration In The Oaks with our “trailer park” outing. That is, until I spotted a highly inebriated gentleman standing in front of the park wearing a t-shirt with a Confederate flag sprawled across the front and a message which read:

                        “Git Er’ Done!!”

As an added holiday bonus, he was singing a Styx song to himself.

We gave him a beer and invited him to join us for a stroll through the Christmas display and soon talked him into climbing one of the trees while wearing my Santa hat.  I requested that, once he reached his perch on a lower branch, he should loudly belt out the timeless holiday classic...“Oh, Christmas Tree.”

We quickly discovered that City Park officials apparently do not enjoy this song as much as we do since they firmly suggested that we leave.

I find myself wondering how our new friend got down from that tree? Most importantly, I lost my Santa hat!  We took the kiddie train toward the entrance, guzzling down our Miller High Life along the way as we sang a selection from the Nutcracker.

Next destination…Our final stop for the evening.  We unanimously figured that the best place to exchange our Trailer Park Christmas Extravaganza Secret Santa gifts was West Virginia.  Since none of us could scrape together $4-thousand dollars for cab fare, we settled on a seedy little bar/pool hall in a fringe area of New Orleans East.

This was a good idea for about 6-minutes.  It seems that not everyone in our group understood seedy pool hall/bar protocol as it relates to open discussion of certain topics. 

As Amanda and I ordered a round of drinks for the table, all attention in the bar rapidly focused on Rich, Marie and Todd, who were engaged in animated disagreement about a musical number in the Broadway production of "Camelot." 

I believe Rich was belting out a few lines from one of the musical numbers. 

After assuring the skeptical, no-nonsense patrons that Rich and Todd, in fact, have numerous sexual encounters (with women) attention slowly drifted away from our little group.  

We began filling the bar table with our Secret Santa gifts which included:

  • An assortment of nail polish
  • A three pack of lipstick
  • Gummie Lifesavers
  • A Chia Pet
  • A New Orleans Saints Snuggie
  • A package of Trojan Condoms

Marie quickly pointed out that there were six items on the table, I quickly pointed out the most important looking at the items, it's clear that everyone at our table is clinically insane.

Before going to the bar to order a round, Rich snatched the condoms away and placed them in his bag.  He'd accidentally tossed his personal purchase on the table. 

I was asked to give a toast as the five of us lifted our shots high:

"Here's to Rich's safe sex choices and to good friends and good times.  Through laughter, tears and joy, we're all in this complicated, yet simple world together...until I can figure out how to kill each of you and get away with it."

It decidedly was NOT your traditional Christmas party, but it was time well spent with extended, dysfunctional family.  A gift which can't be purchased...not even at Wal Mart.

Wherever this holiday finds you, I wish you a peaceful, safe and Happy Christmas!

Author's Note: Transportation was provided by several Pakistani cab drivers and the New Orleans public transportation system.  Drinking and driving is not our's more fun to be drunk in front of an audience.  Hehehe...I mean, Ho Ho Ho. (no offense to Marie)
copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Moment Of Levity...whatever that means

More stupidity coming soon. I’ve been taking a quick break in order to take advantage of these AMAZING holiday online shopping deals!! WHO KNEW that adult sex sites ran Christmas specials???

In the meantime, I made a new Internet friend. I think she likes me.

You’re cute…So, what is a typical date like with you?

I like to dress in a pirate costume that I wore for Halloween when I was 13. Sure, it doesn’t fit…but, it doesn’t fit in the right places if ya’ know what I mean.

I also own a submarine so I like to take my date to the bottom of the lake where we dine on Mrs. Paul's fish sticks and tater tots with Pilsbury poppin' fresh rolls.

After dinner I put in my all time favorite movie, Finding Nemo. Then we retire to the bunk beds (I like to be on top BTW) and we sing the entire soundtrack to the little Mermaid.

Uh, ok…that sounds interesting. What exactly do you DO for a living. Just curious.

I’m a roller coaster operator at Disney World.

Oh, you live in Orlando?

No. I would never live in Florida, I’m scared of sand. However, I’ve been using my spare time working on a master plan to overthrow the Neighborhood Association because I'm much too lazy to overthrow a government. Besides, in overthrowing a government, genocide is just too messy for me.

Since I’m on several law enforcement watch-lists, you would be perfectly safe with me at all times. Plus, my therapist thinks a date would do me some good. Would you like to have dinner soon??

It's important to note that I haven't heard back from the girl since that transmission. Hehehe

Stay tuned for a full story coming soon. It’s filled with high-speed car chases, mimes, gratuitous sex, dirty words, a nail-biting cliff hanger, a message from the Surgeon General about an actual HEALTHY cigarette, a picture of me from when I was age 5, a naked picture of Dr. Phil and we’ll also talk about financially sound investments for 2011.

My mom had a lot of fun when she was younger!
 copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010