Saturday, December 29, 2012

You Say You Want a Resolution?

You say you want a resolution?

Actually, you don't.  You should want to make a resolution for 2013 about as much as you want discretion lessons from General Petraeus. 

New Year's resolutions are the source of more guilt than a battalion of Jewish mothers.  A 2007 survey showed that 88% of all people who set New Year's resolutions fail to keep them, a figure we know to be reliable because the researcher performing the survey had resolved for 2007 to be slipshod and inaccurate in surveys about resolutions.

And face facts: there's little doubt the 12% of folks who actually succeed with their resolutions have been keeping every one made since birth, unlike you and me who've been breaking them regularly since we first resolved to stop sucking on our pacifiers in the middle of the last century. 

So you still say you want a resolution?  Here's why you don't:

1) Increase your vocabulary. 
Want to start throwing words like indolent and ingenuous around?   Dude, you're not about to be hired by the New York Review of Books and the lazy and simple-minded idiots you hang with wouldn't understand you anyway.

2) Get a better job.
In this economy?  Look, you're putting food on the table.  Granted it's a very small table.

3) Stop your excessive drinking.
Instead, join the Republican Party; you'll learn all about the wasteful federal programs for the 47% who won't take responsibility for their own lives.  Sign up for each one and pretty soon you'll be living better than Mitt Romney.  And you'll still be drinking!

4) Watch less television.
There's a rumor Kim Kardashian might take off her top this year.  You going to miss that? 

5)  Lose weight.
So you get on a scale and it makes a highly audible "BOINGGG" sound and the needle spins like a seismograph in the middle of an earthquake. Sure, you could resolve to lose weight but if you're over 45 nobody's going to want to have sex with you anyway. Relax and enjoy the Swedish meatballs. 

6) Stop procrastinating
I'll come up with a rationalization for this one later.

7) Volunteer to help those suffering through a disaster.  
 Why? What did the victims of Hurricane Sandy ever do for you all the years you were married?

8) Join a gym.
Gyms and fitness centers in January look like the national convention of the American Society of Endormorphs & Ectomorphs. By February they resemble a 3-D audiovisual depiction of your social life.  Why hand money over to a cynical corporation so thoroughly on to you?

9)  Stop Biting Your Nails.
Yeah, you could do this. Odds are you're going to wind up biting something else, like my nails or the nails of the guy on the bus next to you. 

10) Be a Better Person.

Hope all of this is helpful.  But what, after all, is the one true reason that you ought to never say you want a resolution?

That's the one.

Happy New Year! 


Friday, December 28, 2012

708 Fulton

 708 Fulton.  Strange, that name.

Having received an urgent call from an oddly familiar voice to meet there, Douglas entered.  It turned out to be a small but comfortable coffee shop boasting a stained glass image of the sun rising behind a cup of hot coffee, seemingly symbolic of one of the few things in life George truly enjoyed.

As he sipped, George felt 708 Fulton to be a place of respite from his inadequacies, failed dreams, and the entire cold godless universe.    

"Never heard of this place before," he said to a passing barista. 

"Little wonder, my friend. 708 Fulton is heaven, dude."

"I'm in heaven?"

"Different for every person."

And the universe was no longer cold for one Douglas Fulton Smith.

Photo prompt above and story beneath, the above  is my contribution to this week's installment of the Fabulous Friday Fictioneers' and Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show. (Note: Other than that one song, I pretty much hate Neil Diamond.)

I came in at 123 words this week, not too shabby but still off the mark. We'll see what the new year brings.

Happy New Year, Fictioneers! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Halo Effect

Mother, put those boobs away!  I'm already too wise & saintly for them. 

I have always been a big fan of European Medieval painting.

Back in those days you didn't just set up shop as a painter and decide to paint still lives, a couple of dogs sitting around playing poker, or a jump-suited Elvis in concert on velvet 

You painted Jesus.  

You painted Jesus with a total lack of artistic perspective and depth, with the infant Jesus looking like a shrunken adult about to present his graduate level dissertation at Brandeis, and always adorned with a humongous disc about his head and shoulders that looked like a golden Frisbee on steroids.  

That humongous disc is more commonly known as a halo.

Just about every painting of Jesus and his mom shows them both packing halos so large the back of their necks seem likely to sustain third degree burns.  One can't be sure if those who followed the Star of Bethlehem to check out the baby Jesus were enthralled that he was the Messiah or aghast at the preternaturally enormous halo he'd been super-endowed with.

The same is true of paintings of Jesus and his disciples. All of them are rocking halos!  How did that work?  Were the disciples all born with halos just like Jesus, or did Jesus hand out a halo to each newbie as they joined up?

The Halo Effect in paintings of the Medieval and Early Renaissance periods raises many fascinating questions, all of them blasphemous. I believe these questions can be boiled down to an essential three:

1) Did Jesus actually appear in life with a halo?  If so, why didn't everyone follow him and how screwed are we Jews today?

2) What of those people who don’t have halos?  Are they evil, just common folk, or did they leave them in their other tunic? 

3) Do halos require cleaning and polishing?  If so, is there an over-the-counter product? Must you clean a small area in the back first to make sure there's no staining? 

I'll defer the answers to these questions to wiser heads than mine, all of which probably possess halos. But wouldn’t it be great if halos really existed outside of medieval paintings? They could serve as handy guideposts to everyday life. 
If you were looking for a ruthless and unscrupulous ambulance-chasing attorney you’d be careful not to select a lawyer with a bright halo over his head. You’d want a scrapper, not a saint! If you want to get lucky in a singles bar, bypass even the hottest of women if they exhibit an orb so bright it practically blinds you.

But if you’re thinking of donating money to a worthy charity, the person in charge of the place better be sporting a halo the size of Connecticut.

And if you’re seeking a personal Messiah?

"I am the Messiah.  I am the Light.  I am ..."

"Hold it, buster!  Where's your halo?"

"Halo?  That's only in paintings."

“Then why does Tom Hanks have one?”

“Of course Tom Hanks has one!  I’m only the Messiah.”


All right, guys, stop rubbing it in!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Your NOFC Time-Back Guarantee!

How do I do it?
Nope, don't got one of these ...

It will come as little surprise to regular readers of this blog that there are no regular readers of this blog. In fact, if blogs were able to time travel and my blog time traveled into the past to the time and place of my high school years, I would seem popular by comparison. 

How to change this?  

I can't give away a book, because I have no book to give away.  I can't see a product giveaway, because a coffee cup with my face on it would instantly hurtle both Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts over the fiscal cliff. And I  certainly can't offer you a money-back guarantee, because you've paid no money. All you've done is spend an unfunny minute or two having the ass bored off of you.

That's it!    Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to offer you: 

The World's First
 Time-Back Guarantee!

Only from Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute

Hated something you read on my blog even more than I hated writing it?  Wasted precious time you could have been watching Hoarders or In Search of Bigfoot?  Lost the opportunity to procrastinate important work or life decisions even a few guilt-ridden moments longer?

Now, you can relax!  With the new NOFC Time-Back Guarantee, simply tell me which post or posts you detested and I'll give you back 100% of the time you squandered, no questions asked.  I really don't want to know the answers anyway!  

Here's just a few of the things I can do for you to refund your wasted time in full:   

1) Fill out a simple Internet Form.  Register a product purchase, add your voice to a petition provided it doesn't overly push the phrase "Aryan Nation," or sign up to receive regular updates from a way more interesting blog than mine. 

2) Join  As long as you promise to raise the children Jewish.

3) Set up that holiday app that makes it look like it's snowing on your blog.  Which is a great service because if not set up properly the snow begins to pile up and Twitter accounts start smashing into your Blogroll.  

4) Unfollow two or three of your Twitter followers who seem so nice you hate to unfollow them, but all they ever damn well tweet about is where the fuck they are!

5) Check spelling in a blog post.  It's a well known fact Spell check check doesn't catch everything. But I'm foolproof!

6) Write a Christmas card or two. "And though it's been said many times, many ways," I'll say it again in whatever time or way you want, provided you don't overly push the phrase "Aryan Nation." 

7) Have an uncomfortable conversation about something over Skype. Tell your wife you're leaving for your pilates instructor, talk to your children about drugs and sex (especially if you want to take the "for" position), come out to your Tea Party parents ....   I'll even tell your enemies how badly they're aging!

8) Tie your tie, wipe food from your face, administer an enemaIf you live in the Philadelphia area. Deals off if you're going to enjoy No. 3. 

9)  All0w you to tell me your troubles. But you must give me equal time to tell you mine. Dude, you're really in for it! 

10) Comment on how funny somebody else's blog post is.  Yeah, I'll even do that for you,  jerk!

So why delay?

Plenty of unfunny posts are waiting for you right now!  May I suggest  How to Secede from America without Really Thinking,  It's a Quarter to Three, and The War on Christmas - A Film by Ken BurnsThose ought to keep me plenty busy post-Christmas.

Void where prohibited by law

Which I hope is one shitload of places.


Yes, I'll animate this for you!
But you've got to hate me first.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Visit from St. Deal-at-Last

'Twas the night before Christmas, 

When all through Senate & House,

Not a fiscal deal was stirring, political will like a mouse;

The stock market was hung up with worry & care,

In hopes that St. Deal-at-Last soon would be there.

The citizens were restless, unstrung in their beds,

While visions of dollars plummeting went askance in their heads;

And Boehner in his Norquist, and Obama in his tax increase cap,

Had just settled in for more long winded political crap.

When out on White House lawn there arose such a clatter,

 We sprang from our beds to see what was the matter.

Away to the window we all flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, saw CNN's Dana Bash.

The television lights on the new-fallen snow,

Gave the luster of mid-day, I'm tellin' ya, bro.

And what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature limo, all in red, the whole shmear!

And there behind the driver, so lively and surreal,

We all knew in a moment 

It Must be St. Deal!

More rapid than Eagles (not the team) his limo it came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called us by name;

"Now, Boehner!  Now, Cantor! 

Now, Pelosi, Chuck Schumer!

On, Harry Reid!  On McConnell!

 On, Mr. President! You too, sir!

To the Top of your Game! To the Top of the Hill!

Now dash away! Dash away! Show political will!"

"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

"When you meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky!"

So up to the House and the Senate we flew,

We lame political types and St. Deal-at-Last too.

And then, in a twinkling, we heard on the roof

The entrancing and dawning of some new great truth.

As we drew in our heads, and were turning around,

Down Congressional halls St. Deal-at-Last came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fake fur, from his head to his foot,

You'd never see him embellish a tweet with "woo-hoo" or "Woot!"

A bundle of pork he had flung on his back,

And he said "Choke on this,  there's a cliff to roll back!

His eyes -- yes, quite wrinkled! His dimples, deep very!

Saying "Show me you're leaders, Mitch McConnell & Reid, Harry!

"I want this all wrapped up and tied with a bow,

I'm tired of your slinging it as deep as the snow!"

The stump of a pipe he held tight like a bit,

And the smoke it encircled, well, it seemed like good shit;

He had a broad-minded face and a cast-iron belly,

And he said "Just keep working, we can send out for deli!"

Not too clubby, no chump, brooks no folly, this elf,

And we looked away when we saw him, ashamed of ourselves.

A flash of his eye and a shrug of his head,

Soon gave us to know COMPROMISE was nothing to dread!

"Speak not partisan words, show integrity, great works.

And fill the nation's stocking; now get busy, you jerks!"

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

Said "Gotta go now, I'm on Charlie Rose."

He sprang to his limo, said "Keep to work 'til the whistle,"

And away he then sped, continuing to bristle.

But we heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to All,

You Douche Bags, 

Left and Right."


Monday, December 17, 2012

Try to Remember the Kind of December

Someone asked me the other day if I remembered something about a call for "new gun laws in America" about six months ago.   You know, just before Christmas.

WTF was he talking about, I wondered!

I did some research and managed to come up with the following. 

Last December there was an incident in Connecticut in which a bunch of children in a school were shot by some guy.  A lot of regular folk on the Internet and even a fair number of politicians said it was more than time to take action to ban certain types of guns and maybe institute a system that helped keep dangerous or sick people from getting guns. 

Something like that.

Hard to remember this now because there were so many important things going on about the fiscal cliff, the football playoffs, and poor Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson forever not getting their shit together.  To be sure,  there were a few similar statements made again in February when some other guy shot up a Dairy Queen.

And a few more when another guy shot you and me in April. 

That's all she wrote!   Guess I'll have another humor post tomorrow.


Friday, December 14, 2012

"The War On Christmas" - A Film by Ken Burns

It has been over six and one-half years since the War began and still there is no end in sight.  

It is a brutal war.  One that pits brother against brother, elf against gnome, reindeer against reindeer, and worst of all, Santa Claus vs. the Martians. 

It is that national cataclysm known as 
                           The War On Christmas. 
Its origins seem obscure and even petty now.

In the latter part of the Twentieth Century, rampant secularism was gaining strength in America. Christmas Parties became Holiday Parties,  Nativity Scenes morphed into Petting Zoos, and Department Store Santas began giving way to Department Store Richard Dawkins'.  Gradually the secularists were joined by disgruntled off-key carolers, reindeer haters, and chubby chasers rejected by Santa.

This Union, as it was called, demanded that there be just seven days of Christmas with only one Calling Bird, two French Hens, and no Lords-a-Leaping whatsoever. Frantic negotiations followed but failed over the verifiability of Maids-a-Milking.  

On February 14, 2012,  an overtired and jittery elf assigned to protect a shipment of lumps of coal for Santa's Naughty List threw a holiday wrapped Hershey's Kiss at a Union soldier. The soldier was badly chocolated.  The first shot of the war had been fired.

In the beginning the Union had the best of the fighting.  In the Battle of Candy Cane Crossing,  the Union's General Scrooge smashed through a line of Christmas Trees commanded by General Giggly Pointy Ears, resulting in the loss of over 47 candy canes, 28 holly wreaths, and six gingerbread men.   

The fighting was fierce, as Union Private Lance Mesnick of Walden Massachusetts recorded that day in his journal:

"Everywhere you looked there were chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Suddenly I felt a sharp pain and whirling around I caught Jack Frost nipping at my nose! That's the last nose he'll ever nip ..."
Journal of Lance Mesnick,  April 15, 2007

By day's end,  not a creature was stirring --- not even a mouse --- at Candy Cane Crossing.

Christmas fought valiantly back.  A force of seasoned elves under the flamboyant General Stonewall Sniggle de Goop surprised Union troops in a dense fog at Gumdrop Hill. How did Christmas forces maneuver through the fog? Private Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer later wrote to his wife:

"Oh, Sarah!  My heart is full and my hindquarters tingling!  This one very foggy eve Santa came to say 'Rudolf with your nose so bright, won't you guide our carnage tonight?' Dearest Sarah, I long to have my hooves around you! Love Eternally, Rudolf."
                                                  Letter of  Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Sarah Weintraub  Reindeer, August 14, 2007

Just eleven days after the Battle of Gumdrop Hill, Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer contracted hoof and mouth disease and Santa shot him.

The war was to continue on for six long years without decisive victory. Mistakes were made by both sides, such as Union General Grinch's decision to invade the North Pole.   Implementing a scorched ice policy,  Christmas forces decimated the Union troops which were wholly ill-equipped for the frigid temperatures and constant painful Nutcracker night raids.

Sensing the advantage, Christmas fired a deadly barrage of fruitcakes at Union forces at Mistletoe Pass, but the Union countered them with an Anti-Fruitcake Shield. All of us should have such a device.  
“Will there ever be an end with honor to this fight? Will a wise and just leader emerge as did once before during an earlier great American struggle? Will we ever get presents again?

Oh, Rachel, who the hell knows?”

Letter of Union Private Lance Mesnick to his wife Rachel, December 15, 2016.

                                                                                [Closing Music]


Freedom Fighter or Terrorist, You Decide

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Until He Shows Up

"That's it," said the man at the PC. "Done!"

"Are you certain?" countered the gray-bearded gentleman approaching. "After all these years, this is what you want?"

"Sure, Boss.  The job's gotten smaller and frankly the people have become kind of a pain in the ass. I need to look for new challenges."

"Well, then I approve it.  But using Craig's List to outsource?" 

"I found a guy named Donald Trump.  Certainly has the hubris. 'Til he shows up, I'll just keep it in this orange bucket."

"Fine, Atlas," said Mighty Zeus. "But if he screws up, I'm gonna come back to you!"


The above is my contribution to this week's Fantastic Flying Friday Fictioneers' Flash Fiction Foray.  And in addition to being able to say that fast three times, I have this week come within two words of hitting the prescribed 100 word maximum I typically bypass week after week with aplomb wholly uncharacteristic of me.

Maybe not exactly worth a Kennedy Center Honor, but it ought to be worth something.  

See you next week!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guide to the College Interview 2013

Don't want your college interview to end up thus?
Your 2013 Guide is Here!

My son Brandon is busily applying to colleges these days and some of them, though not all,  require an interview.  That's where I come in.

"As a human resources professional,  Brandon,"  I said,  "I've conducted numerous hiring interviews and have learned exactly what the skilled interviewer looks for in an applicant applying for a job or otherwise."

"Dad, didn't you tell me you were so bad at picking employees you once hired an executive who didn't last through the morning?"

"Yes, but what I didn't tell you is that he made it until almost 11:00 before he was fired!"

"Dad, thanks, but I don't need any help. I'm fine."

"C'mon, everybody gets nervous about interviews! Once I was so nervous before a job interview I actually threw up."

"Gee, that must have been terrible!"

"I'll say! Good thing the person that called to schedule the interview couldn't see it!"

Upon which I handed to Brandon my fully revised, totally updated ....

Guide to the 
 College Interview 2013

1) Shoes shined, fly zipped up, smile on face?  Forget 'em.

2)  A firm handshake is good.  Squeezing the interviewer's hand so hard it turns into a diamond is better.

3) In describing yourself in the interview, resist tendency to overuse word "hapless." 

4) What are you passionate about?  How have you channeled those passions into positive action?  What did you learn about yourself in so doing?  Don't worry:  nobody asks questions like these!

5) In what high school activities did you take a leadership role?   Best Answer:  "I was president of the school chapters of  both the the American Indolence Society and the Future Followers of America and recording secretary of the Bench Warmers Club." 

6) Can you explain this D- in Chemistry?  "Well, it was a very old chem lab and I pretty much took care of the demolition needed for replacement ...."

7) Why do you want to go our school?  Best Answer:  "After careful research into the University's mission statement, tenured professors, overall curriculum, and diverse student body, I have come to the conclusion that this would be a great place to hang for four years and meet chicks."

8) Always be on the lookout for an appropriate moment to work in an "I was so wasted" anecdote. 

9) Watch your grammar.  Don't be a show off with accuracy! 

If accepted,  what will you bring to the University community?  Best answer:  "An insatiable and driving curiosity, a unique desire to learn and serve others, and herpes."  

11) Do you believe it is important to give back to the community. Best answer: "Yes, but in most instances re-gifting is more than enough."  

12) Ask if there is diversity among the student body at the school.  Specifically, are there Jews from both the East and West Coasts as well as Chicago?

13) If you are a History major, ask if courses offered by the university include First Ladies of the U.S. - Who's Hot, Who's Not,  Body Odor in the 12th Century, and If Thomas Jefferson Hosted Good Morning America.

14) If you are an English major, ask if you can move in with the interviewer  following graduation.

Be prepared to fully elaborate upon the claim you made in the application that you invented linoleum.

16) How do you handle stress?  Best answer: "I don't know, but for god's sake, stop pressuring me!"

17) When asked to name your hero, it is a good idea to pick someone other than Xena, Warrior Princess.

Do you know what profession you would like to enter after graduation?  Best Answer: "Hello?  I'm 17 years old.  I stopped playing with GI Joe less than three years ago." 

19) Do not place your hands on either side of the interviewer's head and flap his ears back and forth unless the interviewer is actor/conservative commentator Ben Stein

20) What achievement are you most proud of?  Best Answer: "Not staring at your tits during the interview."  


"Oh, I see, Dad," Brandon broke off reading.  "These are supposed to be funny."

"Um,  yeah," I said.  "Remember?  I write a humor blog."

"Uh-huh.  And you know, these have actually helped me."

 "Really?  How's that?"

"Now I know why no one reads it!"