Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Butterball Genocide Hotline, Please Hold

True meanings of many holidays have become so blurred over the centuries.  For instance, Easter and Christmas are not associated with Christ.  One is associated with a mutant 6-foot rabbit who strews candy all over the yard for boys and girls...essentially a littering crime.  The other involves a fat guy dressed in a velvet suit (insert John Waters film credits here) who commits millions of felonious breaking and entering crimes across the globe.  Both of which, depending on who's wearing the costume, could result in crimes of pedophilia.  

And we wonder why our children have bad dreams at night?

Not Thanksgiving.  This is a holiday that has always been associated with EATING.  A commemorative feast celebrating the fact that the white man finally came across a group of people that they DIDN'T kill upon their arrival to the brave new world.  I love Thanksgiving and I love to eat!

In New Orleans, being the health conscious city that it is, Thanksgiving feasts are taken to the extreme in that one traditional culinary treat is an entree called "Turducken."  It's a turkey, stuffed with a duck AND a hen!  Sort of like an Ornithological genocidal nesting egg.

As a point of reason, I'm not putting anything on my dinner plate with the word "TURD" in it.   

It's been a couple of years since I've been asked to write a Thanksgiving column.  It's not that I'm not a thankful person, I really am.  I just don't like to craft holiday writings.  I also don't like The X-Factor.  One has nothing to do with the other with the exception of bad performances.  

For instance, one song and dance routine is filled with deep feelings of underachievement, inadequacy, regret and animosity which takes place around the family dinner table surrounded by judgmental people and the other plays out on the Fox Television Network.

My editor regularly asserts that I seem jaded around the holidays.  Quite the contrary.  I fondly remember many wonderful holiday moments, like the time that I found myself holding the rites of passage torch by way of a distinguished honour in being asked to deliver the Thanksgiving dinner age 7.
I bestowed thanks for typical items in the eyes of a normal seven year old.  According to my mother, the prayer went something like this:

"Dear God, I'm thankful for my family, I'm thankful for the new shoes that Grandma got me, I'm thankful for the food today and that daddy isn't drinking and yelling at mom about money and having to be here at dinner today like he did all day long on Tuesday.  Amen."

As I recall, an uncomfortable aura hung heavy in the air, swirling within the thick, decadent aroma of Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and candied yams. This seems to have caused dad to drink again later that evening as mom opted to sleep at my aunt's house until Sunday.

This year I find myself thankful for the little things in life.  I'm thankful for my neighbor who begins her jogging routine with a stretching exercise each day between 8:05 am and 8:16 am, wearing painted-on, form-fitting spandex jogging pants.  After completing a full broadcast career, I'm thankful for not having anyplace particularly to be on any given day, except between the hours of 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm when Judge Greg Mathis airs locally.
I'm also thankful for my friend Jeff, who recently helped me to complete some tedious home improvement projects.

I reluctantly recommend Jeff as a fine "catch" for the ladies.  His handiness seems to leave an impressive stamp on the lady friends in his life, however, he tends to do little things which get him into trouble when he settles down with someone.  He leaves the toilet seat up, tosses his laundry onto the bedroom floor, leaves dirty dishes in the sink, sleeps with numerous other women while in a relationship, etc.

I'm also thankful for the pilgrims, who fled England in order to establish a pure form of religious freedom without persecution which led to the creation of modern day American Christianity...and Alabama. 

The pilgrims piled onto the boat, piloted by Captain Henry Fleischman, the only known Jewish Pilgrim, and fled their societal jail of religious oppression and socialized health care programs.

As a historical anecdote, Capt. Fleischman was not known for his stellar navigational skills, being somewhat of a moderate alcoholic.  As the boat touched land in, what they thought was, America, the Pilgrims found themselves in the enchanted land of Nova Scotia.

During their stay, they restocked and took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to spread Christianity to Canada and warn them about Justin Bieber.

Being a typical man, Capt. Fleischman refused to ask for directions and boldly guided the Pilgrims south via horse and wagon.  They finally ended up in the promised land of Philadelphia, where they were immediately carjacked.

After a quick tour of the Liberty Bell museum and Independence Hall, the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving dinner with their new found Native American friends at a lavish casino where they feasted on pizza and cheese steak sandwiches.  Since it was an Indian reservation casino there was, of course, no alcohol...much to the dismay of Captain Fleischman.

Speaking of awkward situations...I'm also thankful for Pontchartrain Press' chief research monster and contributor, Eric from Philly.

Whenever I call on him I can always count on well thought out, accurate contribution to one of our books or articles...with a little extra.

We always communicate via text message rather than my proposed Facebook instant message suggestion.  Eric somehow feels that using Facebook, as he puts it, causes one to "catch the gay."

Jim: Sorry I've been busy lately and haven't dropped you a line to see what's up.  How ya' doin?

Eric: Well, my AIDS is actin' up again.

Jim: WTF? What's wrong with you??

Eric: Try telling someone that while holding your back.  Even though backache has nothing to do with AIDS, the reactions are priceless!

Jim: I've heard enough.  At least you picked something easy to spell.  I always pick Leprosy.  Actually, I think it's harder to contract Leprosy than it is to correctly spell it.

Eric: Speaking of things that are difficult to spell, that's why Chupacabra didn't make the list.

Jim: Is that covered by Obama Care?©

Eric: Not sure, but I don't believe in it.

Jim: Obama Care or Chupacabra?

Eric:'s Mexican.  I don't believe in Mexico.

Jim: Mexico is real, I assure you.  Four Mexicans re shingled the house across the street today.  BTW, I took Mexican in 8th grade.  I didn't do well in that class but my teacher, Ms. Montes was hot!

Eric: I'm holding out for solid proof that mysteries would be solved in order of distance:

The Loch Ness Monster

Jim: I'm writing a Thanksgiving piece this year.  Something fluffy and feel good so I can get into heaven.  Anything YOU'RE thankful for?

Eric: Reese's peanut butter cups.  Every year for Halloween I buy a metric shit-ton of them and, before I go to bed, I hang a "Registered Sex Offender" sign on my porch.  Then, I eat them all uninterrupted.

Jim: Aaaah...Reese's, billed as the greatest, profitable retail accident in history...aside from Keanu Reeves.

Eric: I'm also thankful that I came from a different era.  I'm a bit disappointed about the lack of assassinations these days though.  Our parents had the Kennedy's, MLK, John Lennon, etc.  On top of that, our war is lame, our music sucks our recession is one where everyone still gets a new I-phone every week...this generation is an embarrassment!  So, what's your plan for Thanksgiving dinner?

Jim: Wild Turkey with cranberry juice and thoughtful reflection.

Eric: About what?

Jim: Where it all went wrong.

Eric: Cool.  If you decide to eat a bullet after several drinks you should stream it with webcam.  I'll save a video cap and make it my Christmas card this year.  I was gonna go with a video cap of a girl I recently had sex with for the card.

Jim: What's the cap?

Eric: After we were done I realized I didn't have anything within reach so she could tidy up...towel, socks, shirt.  So, I handed her a plastic grocery bag.  I'm gonna title the vid cap "Happy Endings And New Beginnings."  In honor of New Year's and all.

Jim: I'm sure that was a proud moment for her.  BTW, you should opt for PAPER bags at the store.  Now you've angered Al Gore.®

Eric: Every time I heard the crinkling of the bag I couldn't stop laughing.

Jim: What the hell is wrong with you??  Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?  It's on my bucket list btw.

Eric: I don't believe in Jews.

Jim: Oy Vey...Gotta go.

Eric: Have a blessed holiday.

I suppose I have much to be thankful for, all of which escapes me at the present moment.  But, suffice it to say, I'm thankful that I've never dated anyone Eric has had relations with for sure.

I'm also thankful for the Butterball Hotline ladies who have an admirable sense of humor each year when I call.

Butterball Operator: Butterball hotline, this is Carolyn, How may we assist you today?

Jim: I'm havin' a bit of trouble with this bird.  

Butterball Operator: Where are you now in the process?

Jim: Fairly early actually.

Butterball Operator: What's that noise?

Jim: It's the turkey.

Butterball Operator: It's alive??

Jim: Yep.  I'm on the front porch trying to kill it.  I just don't have the moxie to do it.  Since I don't own a hatchet, I figured a .38 caliber handgun would work.  Actually I was hoping that I might be able to talk the bird into killing itself;  I've never killed a creature.  Since my ex-girlfriend is not available to guilt it into feelings of abysmal self worth and failure, I gave up on the turkey suicide option.  My ex is in Ohio with family this week I think.

Butterball Operator: (indistinguishable talking and background laughter)

Jim: At any rate, all the neighbors seem to be on their cell phones staring over at my porch...maybe they're on with another one of your operators.  I'll go see if they found any helpful information.  Thanks!

I'm truly thankful for a handful of friends in my life who encourage, set examples and, otherwise, shape a fun, sometimes awkward and inappropriate, but always entertaining world in which I share with them.  

It seems that I must now relinquish my "man card" after typing that...But, I still don't stop for directions, so perhaps that offsets it.

copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

No News Is Usually...The NEWS

 We live in an ever increasing "news overload" society.  At least in my opinion.
Within minutes after a local, national or international tragedy, say a mass shooting, we'll not only be inundated by sketchy facts surrounding the incident, we'll also learn that the shooter was a "quiet" and good guy (until, all of a sudden, he decided to wake up and shoot a bunch of people because he was rejected by American Idol).  

We'll also learn, likely from Fox, ET or Nancy Grace, that he was not only wearing boxer shorts, we'll be informed of the exact color of said boxers and that he was wearing a novelty tee-shirt which read:

"It ain't gonna suck itself"**

**Note: We'll presume that the shooter is fat...This shirt decidedly does NOT carry the same "funny factor" when worn by skinny guys.  We'll also assume that his clothes were clean provided that the alleged killer's mother wasn't also killed before she washed clothes and delivered them to her son's basement apartment.

News overload has become big business in the ratings department.  Channel 7 decides to do evening news now at 4pm.  Not to be out-done, channel 12 decides to begin their program at 3, channel 5 throws caution to the wind by announcing that:  "Your NUMBER ONE news, weather, Syria conflict, sports, Pinpoint Miley Cyrus Alert, end of the world, horoscope, political scandal source will begin news at 10am until 8pm...Screw The Price is Right!  We'll also provide extra coverage beginning at 9am!"  So  Hoda and Kathy Lee can eat it too!

You'll even see news promo commercials during PRIME TIME hours.  I think that I speak for many when I point out that there is no bigger buzz-kill than to watch a hilarious segment of Saving Hope only to be smacked in the face with a commercial break which promotes:  

"Coming up at 11, Bob will tell ya' if the weekend weather is a washout.  Plus, we'll tell you about a woman who was strangled to death with an i-phone charger by her estranged husband and why police are puzzled that the man then killed HIMSELF by closing his head in a lit bar-b-que grill. 

 News and information assails from many directions, in varied forms.
Example-- Recently, while lounging on my sofa doing what I normally do (wanting to be left alone), I received a random text message from Pontchartrain Press' Chief Research Machine, Eric from Philly:

Eric: Last night I was trying to gather a group for a bar outing where a friend of mine works.  She's been goin thru a tough time and I wanted to help her out.  I was scrolling thru my contact list to invite people and came to an unsettling discovery.

Jim: What?  That the Android is much more functional?

Eric: No...I'm being serious.  I realized that many of my contacts/friends are no longer among the living.

Jim: Sorry to be insensitive...were there more dead "contacts" or "friends?"  Either way, that's unsettling indeed.

Eric: I'm only 39 Jim...I shouldn't have this many dead friends.  However, if I were a better friend and/or decent human being, I'd probably be rolling in inheritance money right now.  

Jim: Well, since you still have their numbers, try texting to ask for a cut of the loot.  If the texts  reach dead people we might then verify the claim that AT&T is indeed raising the bar in coverage area.

Eric: I grew up in Cambden, I'm fairly desensitized to death and I've seen it all...shootings, Od's, junkies, hit by cars, jumping off buildings & bridges.  I've even witnessed someone being struck by lightening!

Jim: Jesus Christ!  Are you by chance the Angel Of Death?

Eric: Trying to find the silver or gold there any way to take out life insurance on people without their permission?

Jim: Nah...they must consent.  On the other hand, I know a few people who have friends where each have life policies on the other, which is just odd to me.  On the other hand, it's sort of like a same sex marriage deal only it's JUST friends.  And, they don't have to wear Aeropostale clothes, live under constant fear of hate crimes and need not receive permission from the U.S. Congress.

Eric: Bah!  ANOTHER dream dashed by the MAN!

Jim: With so many dead friends on your contact list, the bright side is that you might want to downgrade your talk-time or text package to save some cash.  Just a thought.  I'd enter you as a beneficiary for me and my lady friend, but ours is a special relationship.

Eric: How so?

Jim: Murder-suicide pact...which pretty much voids insurance policy stipulations.  The upside is that we live in New Orleans so probability for a "botched" investigation is high, which means you'd get the money!

Eric: For the WIN!

I'm convinced that anyone who intercepts messages between me and Eric would likely feel a great sense of concern.  For that matter, if someone perused my Google Image Search history they'd probably alert the authorities.**  

**(See end of this article for images that I've used to accompany previous articles.  Search words include: Gay man sitting on Santa's lap with a musical instrument, decapitated giraffe, Blow-up doll, Panda bear having sex, Al Gore blow-up doll and Stabbing a kitten)

Elderly people are typically a ripe source for news-bombs...especially my mother.
Today's senior citizens were raised in an entirely different era where the music was clean, prices were low, times could be trying and manners were the rule of thumb.  In many cases, with mom, news was often not good but she always exercised tact when wearing the messenger hat.  Example--

After enjoying long overdue phone chats to catch up as to how the neighbors are doing or hearing about how well the room addition to her house was proceeding, our conversations usually concluded with an inevitable long pause...immediately followed by something like this:

Mom: Well...your cat died.


Mom: She apparently was perched on a tree limb as the landscapers were trimming and she fell.

Me: Your trees aren't THAT high; that wouldn't kill her.

Mom: She fell into the wood chipper.  She went peacefully though.  You still coming to the house this Sunday?

I almost never hear of anyone receiving a random call or email which contains GOOD news.  Such as-- "You got a promotion" or "Hey, that guy who used to beat you up in school contracted herpes."  And, remember, NO good news comes in the middle of the night as brilliantly illustrated in our final news segment.

Anyone with teenage kids will assure you that the experience presents a special challenge in the parenting department.  I don't have kids but enough of my friends do, so it must be true in that they always wear this uncomfortable grimace as though they're about to jump from an airplane.

Recently, a friend of mine, Marie, received a 4 am wake-up call from a deputy who informed her that her 17-year old son had been detained by the Coast Guard...along with his buddy.  Also joining these crazy kids were two (barely clothed) young ladies.

I accompanied a clearly distraught Marie to the station to retrieve the lads.  Upon our arrival the deputies informed us that the guys were found at 2 am in their boat and detained under suspicion of alcohol possession and reckless operation of a watercraft.  The guys, however, held firmly to their story of NO alcohol.  50-yards of empty beer cans floating in the waters surrounding their craft seemed to be what the Coast Guard refers to as a "red flag" and/or "Bullshit." 

It was at this point when I sensed that Marie was about to cry.  Then, the deputy presented a box of condoms which were found on the boat and advised that the boys claimed to have simply fallen asleep with their lady friends while gazing at the stars.  This is the point where I desperately tried not to laugh.  Marie began to tremble as I suddenly recalled that NONE of my 12th grade astronomy class trips included condoms.

As I glanced to the two attractive young ladies, I turned to Marie and tried to calm her by assuring that they likely didn't fall asleep, thus averting a major maritime disaster and that the brighter news was that she had a 68 to 90-percent chance of NOT becoming a grandmother at age 42...according to the Trojan package.  With that, Marie seemed to exhibit signs of a full-blown panic attack.

Just when I thought that it couldn't get any worse for my friend, the deputy also added that the kids reeked of Marijuana.  I believe that Marie passed out at this point.  I tried again to sooth her nerves by assuring her that there are any number of reasons why someone would smell like weed.  Not expecting her to demand examples, she demanded an example.  And so, yet another clear illustration is revealed as to why I failed debate class in college.

In the end, the boys became my new heroes and all four kids got off the hook with community service, a warning and no unwanted pregnancy.  

No matter when, where or how it's presented, we can't escape the news.  Perhaps, as George, a guy I worked with many years ago, best puts it: "There's no such thing as good news or bad news.  It's just...the don't worry bout' it"

It's important to note that George has been missing for approximately 73 days after embarking on a trek through Honduras.  At least that's what his uncle told me last week.

copyright, Pontchartrain Press 2013

And now, a few Google image search tid-bits from Jim's laptop... 

MISSING! Good luck George!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Going Postal!

 I think that I speak for many when I say that most of us have at least ONE friend who clogs the email in-box with tons of "forwarded" messages.  My friend is a gentleman by the name of Mike.  Not his real name;  His real name is ""

I recently ran into Mike when he asked, as he always does, if I'd received a funny joke that he sent earlier in the week.  I informed him that I'd lost Internet service along with most public utilities, my lady friend, the remainder of my dignity, the ability to purchase groceries and my house due to an unforeseen financial setback.  Needing a good laugh though, I suggested that he could just tell me the joke in person before I head back to the homeless shelter.  Sadly, he couldn't seem to remember the joke.

Peppered in with the virtual stand-up comedy act that comprises my "in-box" are about 5-thousand discounted pizza offers from Papa John's.  This provides solid evidence that, according to the commercials, Papa is not ONLY in the house, he's apparently trying to crash my computer's hard drive.

Aside from everything else, I'm always happy to find several emails from Pontchartrain Press readers.  So, I figured that it's about time to kick the reader mail sack again. 

Here goes: 

From: Daniel, Effingham, Illinois

Hey Jim,

I saw a few of your things in one of the area weekly papers and also found you online.  Funny shit dude.  

Me and my girl are thinking bout' moving to New Orleans and I noticed that you live there.  Is the crime rate still a big problem there as much as we hear in the news?

From: Jim Patrick

What few of my "things" did you see in the local paper?  It wasn't nude photos was it?  I ask because, after an evening of being over-served at the pub last year, my lady friend talked me into being photographed wearing nothing but a pair of Doc Martins, a funny looking straw hat and a drunken smile.  We're no longer dating, so, now I live under a dark cloud of fear by not knowing the precise whereabouts of this stupid picture and that it will embarrassingly turn up without warning...sort of like Gary Busey.  

To answer your New Orleans crime rate question...NO!  We seem to have turned a positive corner and I'd say things are going extremely well here.  As a helpful suggestion, it's always a good idea to peek at a local newspaper for a demographic "snapshot" before making a move.  

I'll save you some time, as I've attached a headline from our local paper to get you started:

FIVE Murdered In Bloody Weekend Massacre
Police say NOLA toll rises to 187 so far this year

It's not ALL bad news Daniel so don't let that headline discourage your relocation avenues:


Last quarter offense saves the day!

LOCAL News:Car Dealer Donates New SUV To Struggling Gentilly Family.  Murdered Two Days Later In Apparent Home Invasion.  Death Toll Rises to 190

Health Brief: Brain Eating Amoeba Contaminates New Orleans Area Drinking Water System

 Daniel, I assure you that there are many fine, warm and cuddly things happening here--  Most of which take place inside luxury hotels which are guarded by a heavily armed security force.

By the way, since you're moving, will you be renting out your house in Effingham?  I've attached my phone number.

From: Sharri, Del Ray Beach, Florida

HOW do grocery store employees seem to have the exact location of every product memorized?  

From: Jim Patrick

Because they are all engaged in a fierce competition for the coveted title of "Employee Of The Month!"

I knew a guy, Kenny Etheridge, who worked at the local supermarket where he actually won this award once.  It also came with a package of "bone-in" pork chops AND a month of reserved, front-row parking!

Unfortunately for Kenny, such as it goes with numerous Powerball winners, the fame, perks and public notoriety eventually led to disappointment and setbacks.

 Kenny arrived to work one day, gliding into his shiny, much coveted parking space, when, halfway through his shift, a violent tornado touched down.  This triggered mass chaos and minor looting inside the supermarket.

Kenny didn't know what to do.  So, he reacted the way most people would have during an emergency situation...he took a smoke break and went to check on his car.

As he waded through a pile of unbelievably priced Betty Crocker Tuna Helper, Ken blankly stared toward the parking lot from a store front which was once shielded by magnificent ceiling to floor plate glass windows.  There, he noticed large glass shards firmly embedded into the heads of dead or critically injured customers.  But, he also spotted his car;  It was split in half by a 50-foot lamp post which had been toppled by the unforgiving wrath of Mother Nature.  

Thanks to Global Warming® and a general public who selfishly throws caution to the wind (so to speak) Al Gore© destroyed a grocery store...and Kenny's automobile.

In the coming days, Kenny's employment was terminated for his lack of compassion or assistance toward his fellow employees and customers during an emergency situation.  Now, finding himself jobless and without an automobile, Ken sank into the depths of a rock bottom abyss of self-pity and reckless behavior.  

His girlfriend eventually left him but his brief occupancy in the glorious spotlight which comes with being named "Employee Of The Month" DID reconnect him with his "Baby Momma." She invited him to appear on an episode of the great Maury Povich program where he was to participate in a paternity test.  

It's also worth noting that, during his television appearance, Kenny also learned that she'd been sleeping with his entire dart league team, including the lesbian.**  

**Note: Maury also administered paternity tests to members of the team, with the exception of the lesbian.  

With no success in determining the identity of the REAL father, Kenny's 3-year old child now wears a social badge with his OWN distinctive title...


And, THAT'S why:  

I am an underachiever 
Will never throw darts OR eat Tuna Helper 
Why I refuse to allow people named Kenny to purchase Powerball tickets for me
And, why lesbians tend to dislike me  

From: Paul, Lexington, Kentucky

Jim...what's up?

MAN!  My live-in girlfriend has a 5 year old kid who ALWAYS hides my TV remote.  Every time I try to sit down to watch something I can almost NEVER find the damn remote!  What can I do to stop him from doin this?  His mom thinks I'm overreacting.

From: Jim Patrick

Your concern and frustrations are TOTALLY valid.  You might do what Miss Doris did when she babysat me while my parents were at work.  Miss Doris used to tell me that little boys and girls who touch things that don't belong to them are being disrespectful, which usually leads to very bad things.  Things such as daddy drinking a lot and beating mommy up on a regular basis.  

She'd also warn that bad boys and girls are sent to child slave camps (usually a shoe factory overseas) where they are forced to sleep in a warehouse, tied by their wrists from the ceiling, and forced to watch the slave-keepers behead and eat Big Bird.

It wasn't until years later that I learned that the 8-ounce drinking glass that Miss Doris always kept nearby wasn't water after all.  Anyway, her warnings worked for me and I turned out just fine.

From: Chad, Metairie, Louisiana

Hey dude...

Are YOU as excited as i am about the NFL season kickin' in again?  Anyway,  my girlfriend HATES it.  She always threatens me with NO sex!  Help!

From: Jim Patrick

This is my absolute favorite useless threat.

You should inform her that this threat carries no time parameters and then ask for specifics.  For instance, does the sex threat apply only to Sunday, Monday and Thursday's and do playoffs factor into this sexual abatement.  You might also point out to her that many women find Howie Long to be sexy so she should join you for the NFL Sunday Countdown program.  It might serve as an effective sexual turn-on for her.  

You should definitely inquire as to the boundaries of whether or not you might engage in sexual activity with another woman.

Sure, she'll threaten that your infidelity will result in NO sex EVER again and an eventual break-up.  This is the point in the conversation where you should assert:  "So, you're saying that I will need to secure a sexual partner(s) for an extended period of time...PAST the regular season?"

Good luck.  And, yes, I am excited about football season.  Mainly because we have an office pool as to whether we will make it through a season without a player being implicated in a homicide.

From: Kristin, Stone Mountain, Georgia

Many of my friends play kick-ball after work and keep trying to get me to join a league.  I'm not very athletic so I don't wanna embarrass myself.  Do you know much about adult league kick-ball?

From: Jim Patrick

Yes, and I take it that your friends are all raging alcoholics?

For those who do not know, adult kickball is the equivalent to that of a frat party...only no one skips his/her 9am sociology class.  Generally, no one gets raped either.  

If you're okay with consuming large amounts of alcohol while engaging in a sport, and you're not very good at bowling, then kickball is the game for you.  

Besides, from what I understand, in order to play kickball you simply need a window in your schedule, a strong liver and be okay with not remembering anything the following day.

From: Angela, Denver, Colorado

My boyfriend is soooo high maintenance.  He always wants to know where I am and leaves notes all the time.  Recently he left me a note that said "I love you...probably TOO much!"

From: Jim Patrick

Is your boyfriend, by chance, a big fan of Shakespearean tragedy?  Did he ever purposely allow himself to be bitten by an Asp, ingest a vile of poison or stab himself in the abdomen?  That's what I define as loving someone "too much."

I'll bet everything that I own that he camps out on your Facebook page all the time as well.  

This is precisely why I REFUSE to post my relationship status on Facebook.  At least not until they make available a status option which reads:

"In a relationship, it's complicated in that it's a murder/suicide pact."


And, finally, here's one from

Lindsay, Nashville, Tennessee

I notice in a lot of your writings that you goof on your childhood and relatives.  My family is crazy and I want to write bout' them but I don't think I can do it the way it would make sense to people.  I'm not a writer but think it would be a funny story.  Can you help??

I liked your article about the children's short stories btw.  

From: Jim Patrick

Linz, I'm not quite certain that I'm a writer either.  My school teachers and college professors vaguely hinted that writing might not be my strong point as evidenced in cryptic assessments that they'd regularly contribute to my student files:  

"Jim does NOT possess formative writing skills.  He's not a writer."

The only advice that I can offer is to write what you feel.  When sharing stories about your family that you find to be humorous, figure out how to make a connection with your audience.

For instance, I recently compiled notes on someone else's family, specifically a gruff old gentleman named Bill.  William didn't seem to care much for me or my humor; By many accounts, Bill was known to be grumpy but good at heart.  He reminded me a lot of my own father.

At long last, Bill pulled up a stool next to me where we enjoyed a long and thoughtful conversation.  He shared poignant memories of family, friends, alive and dead.  He also shared several hilarious anecdotes about himself and the detours he'd taken from the path he'd traveled for 78-years and, as I recall, he farted two or three times.   As he bought me a beer, Bill looked over and unassumingly asked:

"You didn't think I was this much fun to hang out with did ya?"  

I laughed.

This unexpected moment stirred feelings that I remember from when I was 8-years old when, after what seemed to be an eternity, me and my dad sat for hours on end atop a tranquil river bank with rod and reel firmly in hand.  FINALLY I felt a tug at the fishing line and snagged my first gigantic (4-ounce) Blue Gill.  Nonetheless, it felt like a rite of passage to me...revisited 24-years later, courtesy of an evening of atonement with a proud and, seemingly, grumpy old man.  Unlike my father, I didn't have to pick up strewn beer cans from the and Bill had a bartender.  

Hope this example helps Linz...Or, maybe you could just write about a drunk uncle or an aunt who goes crazy and shows up for Thanksgiving dinner...even though it's April....everyone seems to have one of those types in their family.  Whatever you choose, have fun writing about your folks but be prepared to never be invited to family reunions again.

With that, the in-box is a bit lighter and my stomach is a lot heavier.  I finally broke down and used one of the pizza offers.  Papa is, indeed, in tha' house!  Hollah!

copyright, Pontchartrain Press 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Step Into My Office! Why?

One of my main responsibilities with a long time employer included corporate communications. It involved me being the official company messenger to employees and the public. I did some other stuff too…all of which escapes me at the moment. This should paint a fairly clear picture that the owners and executives of this company were clinically insane.

The Chief Operating Officer regularly tasked me with crafting his company memos. We’ll call him Bob. (Not his real name) His real name is Robert.

I’ve never understood how you get Bob from Robert or Jack from John. For that matter, HOW do you get DICK out of RICHARD???

(Editor’s Note: The previous question obviously did not come out the way James/Jim intended)

On one such occasion, the ownership had decided to “Make some difficult changes.” Translation: Several employees would likely be getting drunk tonight as they stare at their shiny new pink slips; plotting strategies for killing the rest of us.

BOB understood that the chief could be a pro-employee leader so long as one hires excellent employees who get the job done. The ownership, however, often times tortured baby seals, kittens and regularly had sexual relations with Satan himself. Ooops…as a former communications director, I meant to write:

“Corporations must make tough decisions during tough times. Regrettably, these decisions sometimes adversely affect valued employees. The Board of Directors appreciates the dedicated service put forth by hard working men and women and will do everything possible to bring them back into service in the future as necessity dictates. In the meantime, please rest assured that this company stands behind these employees in their future endeavors and stands ready to offer the highest of recommendations which might assist in securing employment elsewhere. The owners also regularly have romantic, physical interludes with a certain banished dark angel.”

Bob asked me to craft a memo which would explain these cutbacks while conveying deep regret and strong support held for all affected parties. Reeeeeallly? It’s important to note that he didn’t buy into the decision from above either and only shared that bit of dissension with ME-- he fought a good fight with little recognition.  Here's a copy of the draft that I crafted for our embattled COO.

To: All Staff
From: Bob
Re: I’m being held hostage at gunpoint…Please call the police!!

Over the past year, we have made great strides in improving many aspects of our business and are performing well to plan. However, we must continually look for ways to increase productivity and efficiency for the future (stand-by for specifics on how you will be screwed)

We strive for success at any and all cost. Actually, cost is a dirty word because it means spending money…which is very bad!!

With that in mind, we are restructuring select support functions to better align with our business needs which will propel the owners to a position of rooting out and destroying anyone who takes pride in their work.

(Here comes the porno "money shot") Beginning Monday, we will operate without approximately 100 people who are currently on our payroll.

It appears that we can operate just fine with less people. ("Less is More" according to our consultant who lives 8-thousand miles from here and comes down from the mountain once per year for the sole purpose of making diminutive middle managers wash his car and to impart nuggets of advice, eat at 5-star restaurants on the company card and hire escorts from the Bang-Kok Spa.)

These cuts will also significantly reduce the dating pool for our nymphomaniac VP of Programming, according to our HR director.

In the absence of enough employees to provide quality service, we will work smarter and “condition” our clients to expect less so that their lowered expectations will become the new “norm.” Sort of the way OPEC did with oil so that each of us now feel ecstatic when we find fuel for $4.40 per gallon. Now THAT‘S smart!!

With that said, it is never good news to announce layoffs but, with college graduation season upon us, we can hire FOUR grossly unqualified employees who will do anything we ask them to do; they won’t do it well but they'll work for HALF the salary!

During this adjustment period, we MUST join together and adapt to an ever changing landscape.  Together, we can and WILL make it happen.  Remember, "There is NO I in team!"  Primarily because the first round of layoffs only covered the letters A-H.  We'll get to I thru R employees just before Christmas.

The personal hardship that this will cause for many of our associates makes these very difficult decisions and I personally will live in fear that my car will explode each time I turn the ignition.

**As a reminder from the last cutbacks, please refrain from urinating on the CEO’s Lexus.

This decision is necessary for our business and one executive who plans to take his new girlfriend on a six-week tour of China next month-- he also just purchased a pet giraffe for his youngest son. These things are not cheap**. Nor are our legal team, who tirelessly defends sexual harassment allegations against the VP of Programming.

**One must hire a professional trainer when purchasing a pet giraffe

You also should know that company values continue to guide its actions…
we have a lot more money now, and THAT’S valuable.

We will especially miss Cynthia and her short skirts, low-cut tops and her aversion to wearing underwear. That being said, Cynthia will stay on in a part-time capacity as the break room greeter and all other impacted associates will be offered job placement assistance in order to avoid having this building blown up by an improvised explosive device.

We are a strong company and we’re taking necessary actions to make us even stronger-- rebuilding a better and faster company…kind of like the Six-Million Dollar Man. Only we could have built the Bionic Man, Woman AND Dog for about 10-thousand dollars by outsourcing to Indians. (Not the casino owners, the Dell customer support Indians)

I’m pleased to announce that, replacing an incredibly competent Sales Director of 15 years, Brad, the sycophant, effeminate heterosexual from the second floor, begins his new position on Monday. Bradley is a happily married father of two children (Bette and Wynonna) and only hangs out in the gay bar because it’s closest to his house and they offer a karaoke night each week. (Wink)

As you adjust to the new 85-hour work week, please know that you are doing your part in stimulating the economy and winning the War on Terror®

Again, remember, there is no "I" in TEAM, there is, however, an "I" in W.I.C. Which reminds me--The HR Director is available to assist you in applying for food stamps this afternoon on the 6th floor.

Upon emailing this draft to the COO he sent me a return note:

“Please tell me you are NOT serious.”

Why do so many conversations with me begin with that phrase?? That will be most unhelpful should I ever find myself informing those around me that I’m choking, having a heart attack or being attacked by a bear.

Truisms in the office environment are fun:

“We’re moving in a different direction”

Translation: “YOU will be moving in a different direction…WE, on the other hand, are going to do things the same…without YOU.”

“Leaving to pursue other interests”

This would be an accurate statement if the employee’s “other interests” include:

a) Waking up to find out that they no longer have a job

b) Drinking heavily in order to allay the emotional impact of losing
his/her job

c) Living in a cardboard box under an Interstate overpass

d) Eventually performing sexual favors or donating platelets for money

Exit interviews are also a waste of time. I know what an exit interview is, as I've conducted them before and have been on the receiving end just prior to my “Leaving to pursue other interests.” To sum up an exit interview:

Manager: Do you have any of our door keys?

Employee: (Hands over his/her keys)

Manager: Your insurance will be covered for the next 60-days upon which you may opt to extend via COBRA for approximately $420-thousand dollars per month. (Not including the prescription medicine program)

Employee: (Awkward silence)

Manager: (Awkward silence)Are you sure you returned all of your keys?

The company Christmas party is, typically, an accident waiting to happen.

TIS' THE SEASON!!! It's time for the annual HOLIDAY party!
Please circle your dinner selection and RSVP by Monday.
Ho Ho Ho!!!!
(No offense to Cynthia)

The correct way to fill out the Christmas party RSVP is to do a shot of whiskey and then burn the invitation...along with your house.  Then enter the witness relocation program and move to another country.

I can put on a holiday CD and provide myself with a choice of beef, chicken or fish and inadequate feelings about where my life went askew in the comfort of my own home…without regret the following morning**

**Presumably I will not be waking up next to Cynthia

Honestly, WHO wants to wake up the following morning with the shame which looms over the foggy mind in the aftermath of the dreaded company Christmas party?

Meghan: Oh God!! What happened last night?

Me: You got pretty drunk and danced in the ballroom foyer wearing nothing but your panties and bra and fell into the Christmas tree.

Meghan: Seriously???

Me: You had on a Santa hat, so I think that makes it okay. Uh, and you also kissed Bradley on the mouth.

Meghan: I thought he was gay??

Me: He was drunk last night too.

Meghan: Oh my GOD!!! Did I kiss Cynthia???

Me: She kissed you. It's on You Tube.

Finally, one of my favorites is the game of “telephone." The genesis of the office rumor mill. An untamed beast-- borne of pure misinterpretation and embellishment.

Scenario:  Julia, the college intern, comes to work feeling a bit under the weather due to an upset stomach from ordering takeout Chinese food last evening while babysitting Bradley‘s kids. 

She informs one of her co-workers in the break room, unaware that another co-worker, Michelle, is listening in on the conversation.

Wow, Julia doesn’t look like she’s feeling well today.

Michelle: Yeah, she’s feeling nauseous today. Something about Chinese takeout and Brad’s baby.

Hey, is Julia here yet?

Thomas: Yeah, she’s not feeling well…something about Chinese and being nauseous...oh, and a baby.

Christine: Hey, did you hear about Julia?

Andrea: Yeah, I heard she might be pregnant.  AND, she was at Bradley’s house last night too, according to what I heard.  They had some Chinese man there too!

Christine: Oh my God!!  I KNEW Brad was gay! 

Andrea: Maybe that explains the Chinese man.

Phillip: Hey, did you hear anything about that cute intern and Brad having a “thing”??

Christine: Not only did I hear THAT…I heard she might be pregnant…from a Chinese man!!

Wendy: Hey, I just saw Julia throwing up in the women’s room…is she okay??

Christine: She’s pregnant AND she’s sleeping with BRAD...AND they diddled some Won Ton balls...if ya' know what I mean!

Wendy: I KNEW Brad was gay. 

Christine: He’s married.

Wendy: To a woman??

Josh: Hey, did you happen to hear anything about Brad having sex with a Chinese restaurant delivery boy??

Tammi: No, but I heard that he and Julia had a 3-way last night in the bathroom of a Chinese take-out place.  Kinky!!!

Josh: Brad’s straight?

HR Manager: We’ve got a problem.

CEO: With what?

HR Manager: Well, Julia apparently is having sex with her manager, Brad, and now she might be pregnant. Word is ALL over the office!

CEO: Brad is straight??

HR Manager: It gets worse. Brad is married and apparently running a black market Chinese baby adoption ring.


HR Manager: Sir...why is Cynthia under your desk?

CEO: Uh, she was looking for her contact lens.  Listen...we can't have a major scandal like this.  We'll include Brad in the next round of layoffs next month.

Yes indeed...the workplace is an interesting snapshot of a lab test gone wrong but it makes for a compelling reason to get out of bed each day.  With that in mind, get up, go forth and...laugh.  

After all, where else can you find a front row seat to such silliness AND receive a 401k? 

As for me?  I have a plane to catch. I’m taking up temporary residence in Honduras before the Halloween party invitations are issued.

Editor’s Note: Welcome to my world.  (Michael: "The Editor")

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Author's Note: This is dedicated to "Hard Hat" Dave.  No cubicle could contain you as YOUR office was the world.  A world which you helped to build, literally.  I shall miss our conversations and your perspective.  You will be missed.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Next Stop...International Diplomacy

I took a day off recently so that I might catch up on some errands around the house.  After that, I planned to treat myself to a leisurely late morning of TV and then lunch at one of my favorite soul food restaurants.  I also planned to cap the day with friends at the pub.

Now that I think about it, this sounds like a typical Tuesday for a Congressman, only I didn't have to report for a "floor vote,"  and I don't have adequate healthcare or a limo driver.  

After calling a cab, which would transport me to my much anticipated day off, the neighbors assured me that this restaurant would be closed on Tuesday.


I'm convinced that restaurants in New Orleans consult a Ouija Board or the Magic 8-Ball when scheduling hours of operation and/or hiring practices.  Nonetheless, I was on a mission, thus disregarding the naysayers who tried to rain on my lunch parade.

I hopped in the cab and headed down the road to an afternoon of guilty pleasure.
The cabbie, Mr. Tahir, hesitantly offered that he also suspected that the restaurant might be closed today.  Another naysayer!

After a few moments of silence, the cab driver sheepishly asked, in broken English:

"What does stub-born mean?"

I asked that he repeat the question, making sure that I'd heard him correctly.  After a short period of deep reflection, I answered:

"An Ex girlfriend?"

Tahir shot a puzzled stare to the backseat through the rear view mirror, not understanding good old American apathy.  After sadly realizing that I was not, in fact, on an episode of "Cash Cab", I searched my thoughts so that I might be able to better explain the concept of stubborn in a way that Tahir would best understand.  I would do so via real-world examples.  Sort of like the 70's television program, "Good Times," only not as racially stereotypical.

My first thought was to use current events as it relates to his country's relations with Pakistan but I felt that instigating a Holy War in the backseat of a cab could possibly result in some sort of Homeland Security infraction or come across as insensitive...which might anger Anderson Cooper.

I began by explaining the foundation of stubborn behavior and decisions; I noted that there are GOOD types of stubborn: 

Actions which effect an overall positive and productive outcome 

And BAD types of stubborn: 

A network that feels it to be a good idea to give Arsenio Hall another late night television talk show because Donald Trump likes him. 

I likened the bad stubborn to the child who has been repeatedly told to NOT touch the cake on the kitchen counter only to ignore simple instructions, proceeding to eat half the cake.

I then asked Mr. Tahir if that made sense.  He matter of factly shared that he would have beaten the child with a stick.

There's something decidedly funny to me about the image of someone being beaten with a stick.  However, I felt that my example didn't break the international communication barrier.  

Understanding that my cabbie hails from a land rife with triumphs, tragedies, setbacks and technological revolution over the centuries, I felt it to be best that I go back to the drawing board; this time I would employ the use of historical perspective in defining "stubborn."

I began with GOOD stubborn as it relates to the Wright Brothers and the first airplane.

After numerous personal failures,  the Wright brothers never gave up.  They finally swallowed their pride and went through marriage counselling with their wives so that they might go on to experience a dismal home life COUPLED with numerous failures at work.  This led to a brief bout of alcoholism and sexual experimentation for Wilbur.  He later divorced.

However, these personal and professional failures steeled their resolve to do what everyone else does (cheat on their wife) while developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem."  While their competitors were busy developing the first airport bar which charges $15.00 for a double Jack and Coke, the Wright boys were developing a contraption that would lead to the construction of the world's worst airport...Newark, New Jersey.  

Cart before the horse is an example of BAD stubborn, as I explained to Tahir.

I pointed out to Tahir that, by not giving up, Orville and Will blazed (con) trails in modern aviation.  Of course it ultimately led to inadequate maintenance, causing horrific plane crashes.  But, it also ushered in numerous jobs to the economy with the creation of the NTSB and first responders.  

Those few moments on a rail runway in the middle of a North Carolina sand dune led to modern marvels such as barely edible in-flight food, cranky customers poured into seats no larger than a child's tricycle seat for $800 a pop while waiting for alcohol service in order to tolerate the ugly kid who keeps staring over the forward seat.

At any rate, I suspect that the Wright Brothers likely constructed the first aircraft so that they might escape their wives to a land of professional football and beer.

While Tahir seemed responsive to our flight down Stubborn Street, I held a low level of confidence that I'd effectively brought him to the other side of the answer he sought.  So...I felt that a more modern-day example might help. 

I used the most logical example which floats to the top of mind for most people...the Uni-Bomber.

His was a special stubbornness in that it was a prime example of good AND bad stubborn.  It even prompted a lengthy manifesto and one of the WORST police sketch artist renditions of a suspect.  

But, I thought better of using improvised explosive devices as an example of stubbornness to a cabbie who hails from a country where explosives are randomly handed out like Halloween candy.

By the way, In doing research for this piece, I made time to actually read the Uni-Bomber manifesto and gained a significant level of insight in three areas:

1. His writings provided fairly accurate predictions of things to come in an increasingly hi-tech society.  

2. He probably should have utilized a more socially acceptable way of promoting his words.  Perhaps a book signing tour at Barnes and Noble over coffee and crumb cakes.

3. Reading the Unibomber manifesto at work draws unwanted attention from management and the IT staff.

Suddenly, it hit me!  Earlier, while waiting for the cab, my neighbor, Katie, raced across the street toward my porch.  Panting, she explained that she needed help zipping up the back of a dress which she'd purchased at a thrift store.  

For five minutes I struggled with this stubborn zipper, trying to avert my eyes from a very bottom to top exposed Katie.  

After the zipper finally came off track, we both finally agreed that this wasn't going to work.  She thanked me and walked back to her house, half dressed, as I stood there wondering if the neighbors suspected that I might have just committed a sex crime.

Hers was a case of good stubborn: 

Not giving up until all avenues have been explored and bad stubborn by purchasing a dress that is a full size too small in order to save a buck.

My friend Leigh recently shared a case of stubbornness within her family.  Seems that her uncle was wrapped within the miserable confines of a second marriage.  When asked why he wouldn't simply get a divorce, he resolutely explained that, in Texas, appearances are important.

It's also important to note that this gentleman was eventually murdered by his second wife.  So, I suppose appearances in Texas result in Darwin's theory in action...NOT stubbornness.**

**Note: I truly wouldn't mind if Texas would secede from the United States.

I took a final stab with my explanation to Mr. Tahir by likening stubborn behavior to that of a small child who doesn't want to share his/her toys.  When one of the other children dares to touch one of the toys, the child purposely destroys the toy and gathers the rest, stomping away.  Thus, depriving his/herself of a fun day at the playground. 

Tahir stared blankly through the rear view for a moment.  I broke the silence by adding:

"...And then the kid gets beaten by his parents with a stick for not sharing."    

An exuberant smile crossed Tahir's face; the proverbial light bulb proudly beamed above his head and I felt that I did my part in crossing international boundaries in the area of sociology while averting phrases which might possibly trigger a Jihad.  

We finally arrived to the curbside in front of the restaurant when I spotted the bright red placard perfectly centered on the front door reading:


I sighed and, after a moment of realization and defeat had set in, Tahir hesitantly broke the silence by asking:

"Good stubborn, no?"

I smiled, before answering:  "NO and...yes ."  

Realizing that, on my quest for a meat and three lunch, I should have listened to both Tahir AND my neighbors.  Bad stubborn I suppose.

As we headed toward home, I enjoyed the fruits of good stubborn on the wings of a flightless bird (with a side of turnip greens and mashed potatoes) as Tahir drove me to a nearby fried chicken drive-thru window.  

I suppose we're all stubborn at times.  Whether good or bad, only time will tell and history will be the ultimate judge.  Until then, I'll optimistically wait.  But, that's just me being...


copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013



Author's note: My editor feels strongly that using the words: Jihad, holy war, Unibomber, sex crime, Homeland Security, Anderson Cooper, improvised explosive and fried chicken might draw unwanted keyword attention to this writing.  I would suspect that inviting Texas to step out of the Union would bring about more harm to my well being.