Friday, March 29, 2013

The Wizard of Menlo Park

Most people today recognize Thomas Alva Edison, the  famed Wizard of Menlo Park, as one of the greatest inventors in history.  Few know that late in life he sought to develop a  means of transferring electrical power from one object to the next without the use of wiring or any tangible connection whatsoever. 

Edison arranged an experiment in his kitchen centered around two small electrical lights in glass tubes. He switched on the first light and then turned his rapt attention to the second. Then he waited.

Nothing happened.

"Failure!!!" he cried. "I thought for sure the energy of the two lit lamps would travel through the air to the sink and do my dishes!"

Few people today recognize that in his last days Thomas Alva Edison, the famed Wizard of Menlo Park, went stark raving mad.


Picture prompt above, story below, and at 137 words I've invented 37 words too many. But if the inventor of the phonograph and the motion picture camera doesn't merit a few extra words, who does? 

This is my weekly contribution to the Fabulous Friday Fictioneers and Menlo Park Mothers of Invention Institute. Click the link when you're ready to check the patents on the literary inventions of many of the Mothers in our group, and I mean "Mothers' in its most favorable sense. 

Hope you have an innovative week!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Greatest Hits of Mitt Romney

For almost two years, he was a part of our lives.
Now he's gone...

Don't forget him the way he's forgotten you! 
Especially if you're one of the 47%.

Now, for the first time 

The Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute
Greatest Hits of Mitt Romney

  You get these great Mitt classics:

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It 
With Groucho Marx' classic song playing throughout, Mitt explains
how he manages to be against everything and for nothing ... with hilarious results!

You're No Ronald Reagan 
Co-starring Newt Gingrich, two feisty GOP candidates scramble all over each other to prove who's more like Ronald Reagan until the Great Communicator himself has to intervene from the Great Beyond to settle the score!

Super Mitt, Olympics Savior!
Mitt dons his red cape to save the Olympics and bend steel in his bare hands --- a hapless steel company Bain Investments buys and dismantles, that is!

Plus the Crowd-Pleasing Favorite

The Openly Gray/Bi-Positional Candidate
Mitt comes out of the closet as openly gray and bi-positional, always taking both sides of every issue. But even though he's openly gray, he's hardly the first ever bi-positional candidate!

And there's even more!

You get absolutely free these 
GOP Based Classics: 

The Impossible Dream 
Dick Cheney has long harbored an Impossible Dream; 
 now at long last he's going to become the true Dick he's always longed to be!

Fat Chance
He may be the rising star of the Republican Party but it's his rising moon that's the problem.  Here's the skinny on Governor Christie! 

An Open Letter to the Non-Millionaires of America
The GOP begins its outreach to a class of voters it's never reached out to before.
 No argyle sweater?  We'll wait while you buy one!

You couldn't find these posts individually
 without subjecting yourself for minutes at a time 
to Perry's lame website, but now 
Time-Life Books has compiled them all for you! 

The Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute
Greatest Hits of Mitt Romney
only $39.95! 

But wait!
If you call in the next ten minutes,
 Paul Ryan will
  slash the price to 
only $29.95! 

And there's even more!

Act in the next ten minutes and you also get this
 Barack Obama Classic
 absolutely free!

That President!
Though conservative pundits may call him "this President," the rest of the world loves the cute, spunky, totally adorable head of state known as "That President!" 

This offer is not available in any store.
And if it were, it would be in a bin in the back
 for about a quarter or something.


Remember when we used to be considered prestigious?

Call 1 800 BYE MITT.  Operators are standing by.  Visa and MasterCard accepted. Void where prohibited by law which ought to be everywhere.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Break Up

I knew it was time. 

It had to end. I had to face it, and I had to act.

I called Carrie Bailey, the hot 32 year old woman I'd now known for two years,  and asked her to meet me in that favorite corner cafe we both loved so much.

"Perry, lunch was such a nice surprise," said Carrie.  "Is there something on your mind?"

"Dearest Carrie," I began nervously, 'I need to tell you something."

"Yes, Perry?" Carrie asked sympathetically.

"For quite some time now, I've ... umm, err ...  been having fantasies in which you and me have sex.  Wild passionate uninhibited sex. "

"Gosh, Perry," Carrie fumbled,  a bit embarrassed, "I'm ... I'm kind of flattered, I guess. But you don't have to tell me this."  

"Yes, I do, Carrie," I said.  "Because the thing is ....  I'm breaking up with your fantasy!" 

"I ... I  beg your pardon?" 

"I'm breaking up with your fantasy.  Thinking about sex with you just doesn't do it for me anymore."

"What?  Why?" 

"Well, frankly you're starting to look a little older to me.  I'm seeing wrinkles, you're not as fresh faced as you used to be, and honestly Carrie, you could afford to drop a few pounds."

"Wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me that ..."

"That's right:  It's not me, it's you."  

"But why don't you have me doing something new to you? I could give you one hell of a fantasy ...." 

"It's no use, you've done that!  You and me have done just about anything and everything, and still there's nothing happening down below!"

"I can't believe it!  You  can't mean it!"

"Carrie, I'm sorry but I have to break up with your fantasy."

"Well, I'm not accepting this fantasy breakup!  You call me here and tell me you're not going to fantasize sex with me anymore and I'm supposed to take it?!!  No way, mister!!!" 

"But, Carrie, be reasonable ..." 

"Are you fantasizing about someone else?  Who the hell is she, the bitch!  Are you thinking about boffing her right now?!!"

"That doesn't matter, Carrie, the thing is ...."

"How could you, you two-timing bastard?! Your fantasy breakup has ruined my life!!!"

For days after, Carrie was furious and wouldn't speak to me.  Then one day she showed up at my doorstep.

"Perry, there's only one answer," she said. "We need to have actual sex."

And we did.  And it was wonderful!

The only thing is, this last part didn't happen; it's my new Carrie Bailey fantasy.  And it works great!

Breaking up is hard to do. 

And fortunately for me and Fantasy Carrie Bailey, we didn't have to.


Fare thee well, Fantasy Carrie ...

If you liked this post, you might also like Like Sex for Chocolate, Pulling a Willard, and Directress of My Dreams.

If you hated this post, I hope your fantasy girlfriend dumps you and runs off with your fantasy best friend, and I hope he's me!


Friday, March 22, 2013

The Stud

In his day he'd been a bolt of lightning, a champion beyond equal.  But his day being done, Silver Flash was retired to a farm in upstate New York to create new champions as fast as the bolt of lightning he had once been.

But Silver Flash shied away from the waiting fillies, brooding by himself in the corner of the corral. 

"What do I have to do?" I pleaded.  "Play Barry White music?  Show you racy pictures of My Friend Flicka?"

Silver Flash grabbed a thin wobbly garden hose spurting a small spray of water and pulled it towards me. 

"Don't worry, old boy!" I said.  "Number One, you are a horse.  And Number Two, I know for sure you're not Jewish."


Picture prompt above, story below, and at 124 words it's over the limit but hardly a word runaway. Hope you're not too disappointed the story is about a race horse and not about me as you obviously expected and eagerly anticipated. 

This is my weekly contribution to the Fabulous Friday Fictioneers and Stallion Stud Service Society. Click the link when you're ready to rear up and mount the posts of the many other ready, willing,  and talented Fictioneers.

Whoa, boy, that's the spirit!  See you next week. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Notes on a 300th Post

Who would have ever thought when I began this blog slightly over three years ago with the words "being I have nothing constructive to do and perhaps I can attract the attention of Paris Hilton" I would one day reach the lofty and venerable milestone of 300 posts without ever having written anything lofty or venerable or attracted the attention of Paris Hilton?

You did?  Well then, proud of you, dude!  I've got a damn perceptive reader in you!

This is the glorious celebration of my 300th blog post! Welcome, come on in and make yourself at home.  Take your shoes off and  .... UCCCCHHH!!!, on second thought,  why don't you put your shoes back on and have some punch instead?

Have you met some of my other readers? Let me introduce you to ... well, there's umm ... say, why don't you have some punch?  I'm sure all the other readers will be arriving soon; I understand there's a tie-up on the Expressway,  a big book review over at Goodreads, and the new Pope is in one hell of a Twitter war with the old one!  

While we're waiting,  as is a tradition on my anniversary posts (I did it once),  I'd like to answer a few questions that are often raised regarding my blog, primarily by me: 

How would you describe your humor writing, Perry? 


No, I mean, is it droll commentary on the foibles of humanity, mordant satire on the sorry state of politics, pop culture, and world affairs, or self-deprecating but affectionate takes on the day-to-day travails each of us face in our efforts to negotiate the post-absurdist world in which we live?

Let's go with "Unsuccessful."

Why do you suppose the blog is still so unpopular?

Because people like you don't talk me up to others.

But I'm not a person;  I'm a composite construct created by you to ask a bunch of inane questions. 

And you're an uppity composite construct too!  Now I know how Dr. Frankenstein  felt.

But you made up all the questions!

Yeah, remind me next time to make up ones where I get some laughs.

Do you think maybe your writing is too Jewish?

Too Jewish? How?  I'm a Pentecostalist.

Well then I'd definitely cut back on my watching The Daily Show if I were you. 

Such a funny composite construct you are!   

Even that phrasing was too Jewish!

Maybe I ought to have you write the posts. 

You could do worse ... 

Okay, big shot, here's the keys to the blog, get yourself some punch, I'm outta here!

At last.  

I'll be over at Facebook if you need me. 

I don't expect to. 

 And hey you, our one reader,
 Put your damn shoes back on! 


Note: Despite what my little composite construct says above, I'd sincerely like to thank all of you who from time to time read this blog, including the guy without shoes guzzling the punch.  I very much appreciate your support,  and I'll try to do a halfway decent job with the next hundred posts so!   Thanks again! 


Monday, March 18, 2013

In Search of Big Eli

What an Exit! 
(Elijah Ascends to Heaven by Marc Chagall)

Every year at Passover we invoke his name and welcome him into our homes even though he hasn't phoned ahead and doesn't bring so much as an Entenmann's.   And we marvel at the fact that in one night he manages to visit the homes of each and every Jewish person having a Seder and does it without a sleigh, let alone eight tiny reindeer!   

But who really is this ancient Biblical figure known as Elijah the Prophet, or Big Eli for short? 

We're in search of Elijah the Prophet,  a quest that encompasses a painstaking reading of the Holy Scriptures,  deep discussion with learned rabbis, and a quick perusal of Wikipedia including the plea for money at the top of the page.  As we await Elijah's annual arrival, it's a good idea to bone up about him so we don't accidentally welcome in the wrong  prophet and wind up with some of the silverware missing.

The origins of Elijah are quite obscure. Virtually all he know about him stems from the Holy Scriptures, the Talmud, and Elijah for Dummies, which is in its third printing.  Most visual depictions of Elijah come out of  the Christian tradition and are of doubtful reliability, especially those in which he wears a cross the size of a barnyard door.  

Yep, looking really goyish here!

Elijah lived in Israel in the 9th Century B.C.E., so it's likely he was almost as technologically clueless as the average Baby Boomer.  From a very early age, Elijah demonstrated great zeal for the Lord and often demonstrated it for the entire class as part of "Great Zeal Show and Tell."   

As he grew to adulthood, Elijah became a prophet of God which is something like the post Jay Carney holds today but for much less money.  He became known throughout Israel as "he who inveighest against those fallen from the path of the Lord" and as "he who knowest the meaning of the word inveighest."  It is written in the Holy Scriptures at  1 Nudniks 19:1-4 that:

"Elijah doth call down suffering and destruction upon the faithless ones through fire and brimstone, short sheeting of their beds, and girl friends who lookest like Methuselah!" 

It seems clear that Elijah probably rarely got invited to parties. 

Elijah spoke out with special fervor against the worship of a deity named Baal.  Refusing to play ball with Baal, he resolved to test the powers of God and Baal by having altars built to both and bidding the adherents of each to pray for their favored deity to light the altars. Sure enough, Baal called in sick while God put on a sound and light show almost as good as the one at Epcot Center. Baal still can't find work today.  

It is written in the Scriptures that when his earthy sojourn was completed Elijah was lifted up onto the heavens in a mighty whirlwind, which had not been predicted.  Had a modern day weather caster like Cecily Tynan been around who could nail a forecast the way Moses could nail a plague of locusts, it's likely Elijah would have stayed indoors and wound up with an earthly sojourn culminating years later by choking on some white fish in Boca. 

Of course, Elijah is still alive and very much with us every Passover.   Each year at the Seder, Jews worldwide open their doors to Elijah, hoping for him to enter but also praying he doesn't eat much.  A special cup of wine known as Elijah's Cup is laid out for him because it's the least we can do for such a distinguished guest, even though he never thinks to bring us so much as a sponge cake!

Some thoughts about Elijah as we prepare for the Elijah World Passover Tour 2013:

How does he make it to every Seder  in one night?  True, he isn't loaded down with presents, but with 12 million Jews around the world, he can't be any slouch either.  Does he drive a hybrid? Does he have a rocket ship?  Either way, assuming he takes even a small sip from the cup at each Seder, maybe we should take his keys?

Does he actually drink from Elijah's Cup? This is the Jewish equivalent of "every mother's child is going to spy to see if reindeers really know how to fly."  Assuming your mother's children have already spied, best ask them directly about this one --- preferably before they ransack the house for the Afikomen

Does he ever leave?  Unfortunately, he does frequently miss  social cues like "Oh my, look at the hour!" and "Aren't you due in Cleveland around now?," but with solid technique you can get him out before Shavuous.  Just place his cup next to mouthy Uncle Claude who thinks Obama is a Muslim or let it be known that Mrs. Pressman --- the hot divorcee who showed such a provocative interest in him at last year's Seder --- won't be making it to this one. 

Why can't we see him?  He's invisible, dumbass!  If Harry Potter can manage it, don't you think Big Eli can do it without breaking a sweat under one arm, under his tallis?

And so, folks, this year let's all welcome Elijah with open arms and full heart knowing he has now been fully vetted and given a complete background check. In a season of friendly faces around the table, Elijah brings us his own friendly face which --- albeit invisible --- helps bind together all people, Jews and gentiles alike, in the spirit of freedom which is Passover.

Drink Up, Elijah!
  As long as you're not driving

If you liked this post, you might also like A Rickie Gervais Pesach!, The Eight Days of Passover Redux,  and Go Down, Twitter.

If you hated this post, I hope your brisket is burned, your matzoh balls leaden, and 3,000 year old Elijah never leaves your house and starts dating your teenage daughter!  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lilies, or the Seduction

No, Jimbo hadn't lied.  His apartment was fantastic with a dynamite view of the city, sumptuous furnishings, and for the next 48 hours, mine all mine! He'd even left sweet smelling fresh cut lilies on the window sill. 

"Hope you like my place," I said, turning the key at 2:00 A.M. 

"Love it!" she squealed. "What did you say you do again?"

"I'm a risk arbitrager. Or arbitrary risker, something like that.  Now how about we get ...."

"OH, NO, LILIES!  I'm very allergic!"

"Well, we'll just get rid of them then!"

"AHHH-CCCHHHOOO!!!  No, once I'm exposed, I'm a mess for the next 48 hours!"


Picture prompt above, story below, and at 107 words I'm not too far off the pace of 100 this week and nowhere near as far off the pace as I was with the abortive seduction of some years past sadly recounted herein.

This is my weekly contribution to the Fabulous Flying Friday Fictioneers and Lily Lover Legionnaires Association. Click the link when you're ready to spend 48 hours or so enjoying the posts of the other Fictioneers/Legionnaires, each and every one of which is nothing to sneeze at.

Sorry, got to go now.  I've a lot of arbitrary risking to do if I'm ever going to afford my own place like this!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When Irish Eyes Are Whining

There once were two fellas said "aw, shucks!
On the Emerald Isle bet we'll find luck."
They made many a pass
At many a fine lass
To which many a fine lass said "Hell, no, schmucks!"  


The luck of the Irish, I believe, is truly a real and wonderful thing. It begins with how lucky the Irish are to hale from a place of  such uncommon beauty  as the Emerald Isle, a lush green plot of land I was lucky enough to visit over 40 years ago with my college friend Howie.

Howie and I traveled throughout much of Ireland that one summer, spending time in towns and villages like Dublin, Galway, Cork --- where I kissed the legendary Blarney Stone which frankly provided me more of a response than most of the women we met --- and yes, even the above-referenced Limerick as well.  No part of our trip was more memorable, however, than what has been come to be called the "Night of 1,000 Brews  and Two Discordant Jews."

It had been a long day of hiking and hitch-hiking as Howie and I came upon a pub on the outskirts of a small village, the name of which posterity has never quite finished yelling at me for forgetting. As darkness settled around us, we heard the sounds of those in the pub  loudly, lustily, and very beautifully singing an array of Irish tunes to some musical accompaniment. It seemed like it might be a kind of special night or at least a special weekly occasion for the local residents at the pub.  

"Americans?" said the pub keeper as he served us two beers we ordered.  "Welcome, lads, we're delighted you're here!"

From all corners of the pub, folks came forward to greet us, pat us on the back, and make us feel welcome. And beers, lagers, stouts, and all manners of alcoholic brew came flying at us from every direction --- left, right, below, and above!  ABOVE?  Well, I don't know if Jesus is real, but if he is and he does intervene in the affairs of the world, where else would he start but Ireland?  We couldn't have felt more at home if we were at a convention of Jewish grandmothers and it had just been announced that we'd both gotten into Harvard Medical School.

Then, in the midst of that Emerald enclave of Gaelic gaiety and Hibernian hospitality, there came those ten awful words I'll never forget from that evening in the pub by the village whose name I have woefully ever forgot:

"Now, we'll have a song from the two foine lads!"

Now I happen to be a person who cannot sing a note; frankly I couldn't lift a tune, let alone carry one.  And compared to Howie,  I was Celtic Women.  As the two of us would hike along the roadways in Ireland and chance to lift our voices in song, shamrocks would wilt, fertile fields fall fallow,  and leprechauns see fit to commit suicide.

"What do we do now, Howie?!"  I cried.

A fan of the actor John Wayne, Howie thought that because Mr. Wayne starred in the filmed in Ireland movie The Quiet Man,  a song from another of the so-called Duke's movies might find favor.  Such was the measure of our desperation.  As a broadly grinning gent led us up to the microphone, Howie hastily scribbled out the words to She Wore a Yellow Ribbon from the movie of the same name. 

"Here's the lads!" the gentleman exulted.

I looked at Howie,  and he looked back at me.  We took a deep breath and gave forth: 

"And in her hair, she wore a yellow ribbon ...."

Under the sounds of our execrable discordant non-harmonizing. I sensed murmurings of ...

"Sweet Jesus, I thought everyone could sing at least some!"

"Scratch visiting America off our lists ..."

"Is is possible to get some of these beers back?"

We concluded orally raping the Duke, John Ford, and their famed cinematic collaboration, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I looked at Howie, and he looked back at me. 

"One more time!" he shouted.

One could actually hear Irish eyes whining. 

As I've said before, the luck of the Irish truly is a real and wonderful thing.  Sadly, for the folks this one night over 40 years ago in one pub on the outskirts of a village in Ireland whose name posterity still yells at me for forgetting, it had just run out. 


As hospitable as you can get, sir,
In the pub they kept Perry's lips wet, sir
Beers flew at him fast
Which he drank to the last
And Perry is still peeing yet, sir! 

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!


You never forget your first stone!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

No Frills? No More! Part II

Look up in the sky!  It's a bird, it's a plane, its .... 

As will come of no surprise to many of you, there is no such thing as "many of you." That's because my blog Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute (NOFC) continues to have all the popularity of a firmly hooked brassiere during spring break. 

Frankly, if you took all the fans of NOFC and laid them end to end, I'd have just lost those few fans I have because you had to take them and lay them end to end
!   So don't do it, schmuck! 

Several months ago I decided to spruce up the appearance of my blog in the hopes that cuter looks would better lure readers to the land of the formerly cute. I began to experiment with the shape, format, and colors of the blog site itself, but the results proved disappointing.  In the all-important demographic of "Those Breathing," NOFC's ratings were recorded at a point/share ratio of 0/.0107, indicating that the only people tuned in were those being subjected to political torture in foreign countries.

Next, I looked at the verbiage in my blog header to see if it could perhaps be punched up a bit:

Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute
Celebrating Infrastructure! Yes, this blog is dedicated to those organizational underpinnings and foundations upon which real estate development may be judiciously analyzed and calibrated. We  HEART! water supplysewer systems, storm runoff plans, septic tanks, and the myriad zoning regulations, ordinances, and variances that inexorably and forever inhere and appertain thereto!" 

Nope, no problem there.

Turning my attention to the appearance of the header, I wondered if the words alone --- scintillating though they were --- failed to reach full potential without pictures or graphics.  So I experimented further with a variety of visuals.

I tried Art.

Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute

But I simply couldn't get The Scream to stop screaming for hours afterward.

I tried Great Historical Figures. 

Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute

But Dolores Kearns Goodwin nixed this, concerned that the implication that Abraham Lincoln would ever have associated with me would so diminish his reputation they'd re-award credit for ending slavery to the guy standing closest to him in 1863.

I tried a combination of Art and History.

Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute

At first this header proved truly inspirational, but my continuously coming on to Liberty while she was trying to lead the People finally forced the People to hire former Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid to lead them in her place.

I clearly needed help, so I reached out and found a talented artist and cartoonist in the Philadelphia area named Matt Andrews.  I explained the Baby Boomer concept of the blog to Matt and asked if he could design a cartoon version of me -- a doppelganger, if you will, only this time with black sketch lines outlining my entire body. In real life, of course my body is outlined in purple.

"I'd love to try!" said Matt. "Can you send me a more recent picture of yourself than your avatar?"

"Umm, what makes you think my avatar is not current?"

"The reference to Matthew Brady in the lower left hand corner."

The first few drafts by Matt were not exactly what I had in mind, his comprehension of a Baby Boomer perhaps a wee bit skewed. But over time, he developed the near perfect header for this very imperfect blog.  And in a couple of weeks, the final drawings were completed and officially installed on Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute at a formal stained tie ginger ale reception.     
And now please, everyone, Look up in the sky! Or at least to the top of this blog. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ... 

It's the new Cartoon Me!  I'm in typical pose under attack by the demon calendar trying to drag me into the days of my dotage while I battle tooth (those that I have left) and nail to return to the days of my youth. But no matter how it all comes out, thank you, Matt Andrews!  

That is, for minimizing my nose.

Has Cartoon Me and the new blog header made any difference?  Nah, NOFC still has all the popularity of a firmly-hooked brassiere on Mindy from Scarsdale during the last day of spring break.   But at least things may be looking up for Cartoon Me.

Lately The Scream's been coming on to him. 

Can Liberty Leading the People be far behind?