Wednesday, January 29, 2014

No Smoking Allowed

First thing I noticed when I visited Johnny's workshop was the sign:

No Smoking in Workshop

Since I was just about to light up,  I asked Johnny "why?"

"Oh my God, Perry!" he practically shouted. "Never ever, ever smoke here!"

"But why?" I asked again.  "Is there a big risk of explosion?"

"No,  there's no safety hazard."

With that, I lit up and took a long drag on my cigarette.

"NO, NO, NO, PERRY!" screamed Claude, "BY ALL THAT'S HOLY, NO!!!!"

"But why if nothing is unsafe?" I asked once more.

That sign's for you, Perry," he answered.  "I know how absent-minded you are.  You don't smoke."

Yes, this week I've penned a "message piece" for my Friday Fictioneers offering in response to the picture prompt above, which has come in at a neat and tidy 107 words. And the message is "No Smoking in Workshop or Anywhere Else."  

This isn't my first piece about smoking; click here if perchance you'd like to read "Mind Very Much If She Smokes."  Also don't forget to check out the smoking hot offerings of all the other Friday Fictioneers, absent-minded and otherwise, by clicking here. 

They'll light up your life, but not your cigarettes.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Alarmist Weather at 6:00

This is a special expanded edition of Action News at 6:00! 

Featuring Simpkin Valley's No. 1 News Team, with Alarmist Weather and Obsessive Compulsive Sports!  And now,  Jim Gorson!

"It began this morning and has continued unabated throughout the day. Its impact is being dramatically felt throughout the region, and in an already record year for Simpkin Valley weather, it represents the latest blast from a very fickle and unpredictable Mother Nature. 

Good evening, I'm Jim Gorson.  Our big story tonight is of course the weather, and we'll have special reports and team coverage as to conditions across the Simpkin Valley, as well as our exclusive up-to-the-minute Alarmist Weather Five and One Half Day Forecast.

We begin today's special expanded program with Alarmist Weather top meteorologist and hottest weather babe Cecilia Tyson ...''

"Jim, Doppler Radar says it all.  You can see these rolling bands of cold air that poured into our area from Canada early this morning only to slam into warmer air from the south ---Hilton Head to be specific --- which caused the temperature to suddenly drop 12 to 15 degrees!  As a result, today we had:

Sunshine, a light breeze, and temperature of 74 degrees. An unusually lovely day for the middle of July.  Jim?"

"Cecelia,  the big question on everyone's mind ---  accumulation!  What are we looking at when all this is over?"

"Jim, since the moderate temperatures began this morning  the hours have rapidly been accumulating! Current accumulations are 4-5 hours, and the hours will continue to accumulate throughout the evening, overnight, and into tomorrow morning's rush hour."

"So, Cecelia, accumulations of up to 12 hours are possible?"

"Yes, Jim, as much as "a foot" of hours is possible! And I'll be back with the complete exclusive Alarmist Weather Five and One Half Day Forecast later in this special expanded edition of Action News at 6:00.  Jim?

"Thank you, Cecilia! Now we'll begin our team coverage of conditions around Simpkin Valley with Chad Wandly in Mt. Hubert.  How are the roads where you are, Chad?"

"Rapidly deteriorating, Jim! As a result of many spontaneous picnics and pool parties due to the weather, there's near gridlock on Mt. Hubert Drive and it's not expected to get any better."

"Thanks, Chad!  Now you get yourself right back inside safe from any charcoal briquette fumes, and we'll be checking in with you later. And now over to Kate Salvo in Upper Molarsby.   Kate, looks like you have a special guest."

"Sure do, Jim. With me is Bert Jones of the Upper Molarsby Department of Streets.  Mr. Jones, will the city be doing any treatment of the road surfaces this evening in light of the weather?"

"No, Kate."

"Why not?"

"Because the roads are clear and driving conditions excellent."

"Are there any plans to reassess as the hours accumulate?"  

"None whatsoever." 

"What would be your advice, Mr. Jones, to anyone thinking of going out driving tonight?"

"If you absolutely have to go out,  there's no need to exercise extreme caution.  If you don't have to go out, you might think about going out anyway. "  

"I hope everyone is listening, Mr. Jones.  Jim?"

"Thank you, Kate and Mr. Jones.  And I would add, and this is very important:  

If you do have to be somewhere tonight,  you should not --- I repeat, should not --- allow yourself extra time. This is a good night to fart around, make phony phone calls, look at pornography on the web, do whatever else you want to do, and you'll still probably get where you're going on time! "

"Jim, this just in! The National Weather Service is calling for moderate temperatures to continue through Wednesday. That means additional  accumulations of up to 48 hours!"

"Thanks, Cecelia and hold on to your hats, folks!  We'll take a break for Jack Hartley with Obsessive Compulsive Sports and then right back to Alarmist Weather.  This is your  expanded Action News at 6:00 with Alarmist Weather and Obsessive Compulsive Sports!  

I'm Jim Gorson.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Deliverance II

It was going to be quite an experience.  Me and my buddies Lewis, Ed, and Bobby were going to canoe down a river in a remote area of Georgia. Our spirits were high as we stopped at a couple of wilderness shacks that provided supplies for the trip.

As we were packing up, I spotted a young blond boy on the porch of one of the shacks.  He was odd looking and expressionless but he was picking on an old banjo. I pulled out my guitar and began to play.

It was awkward at first but he slowly began playing in response. Then we were both playing together. Then he cut loose and matched me move for move!  And folks there were smiling and dancing.

We finished up and I went to shake his hand.  Would he pull away? Was he an inbred? Did he trust me?  

"I graciously thank you for extending your hand in fellowship," he said, "and for the opportunity to enjoy together such felicitous musicianship."

A genius savant. You don't see one of those every day.  


I know what you're going to say:  I got a real purty mouth!   Well, yes I do, so I'm not gonna canoe down any ... wait, what?  I don't have a purty mouth? I'd be safe going down any river in the country?  

Well!  Why don't you just move on to the other Friday Fictioneers then and check out their mouths?  And read their stories as well.

I'm outta here with a banjo on my knee.  Oh, great!  I got this lousy looking mouth and now a banjo stuck to my knee. I can't remove it! Looks like no singles bars for me tonight ...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day

I Love Snow

Last night we had a heavy snow in Philadelphia.  Not exactly a blizzard, but a swirling, twirling profusion of soft wintry white covering and transforming everything familiar and mundane into a snug pristine blanket of snow up to a foot or more deep.

I love the snow.  

Memories of wonderful times past ...

A 1950's style blizzard, must be two feet if it's an inch ... school closings on the radio ... All Lower Merion schools closed for at least for two days .... Hurray!!! ....Cream of Wheat for breakfast, then bundled up like the kid in A Christmas Story and out for sledding ...  watch out for that tree! ... now that's what I call a fort; got you! ... "in the meadow we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is Rabbi Brownstein"...  tired but exhilarated ... ruddy faced too ... how about some hot cocoa?... and butter cookies right out of the oven! ...   Gee, I love the snow!

Thirty some years later ... this is what we call "snow," Brian and Brandon! ... "Wow, Daddy!"  ... and all over again.

This morning I had to shovel myself  out from under snug pristine blanket of snow up to a foot or more deep. 

I hate the fucking snow.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Riding in Cars with Boys

Yes, there I was in riding in a car with boys, all of us on our way to a late night performance of an obscure rock band at an small out-of-the-way music venue in a misbegotten but vaguely hip neighborhood of the big city I called home.

It felt familiar.  It felt like many a night I'd spent before eager with anticipation for the music, the fellowship, the likely accompanying drug experience, and whatever else I hoped might lie ahead, but which usually didn't.

There was only one difference.

It was last year, and it was me driving a car of five 17-18 year old boys, one of whom was my son Brandon, to a concert in a slightly off downtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. 

"Thank you for the ride, Mr. Block," said each one of guys as they in turn climbed into the car. 

I never wanted to be a "Mr. Block" at any juncture in my life, but now it seemed odd to be anything other.  "Call me Perry" would have sounded as forced and phony under the circumstances as "gather round, dudes, and let me tell you about the Sixties!"

"So why do I have to drive?"  I'd asked Brandon while being pressed into emergency transportation service earlier in the evening. "What about Tim's dad?"

"Tim's dad works a day job," he answered.

"So I've been selected based on diminished job status and perceived fecklessness?"

"No, Dad. Just availability."

The truth is I didn't really mind.  But once the car was loaded with millennials and we were on our way, I realized I'd been thrust into a situation in which I had a difficult choice to make.

Do I join in the guys' conversation? Brandon and his friends were talking school, college, majors, summer jobs, and all things so far under age 60, I’d have to bungee jump to reach them. Still there were a few opportunities to offer an opinion, a dollop of alleged wisdom, and even a cross generational joke or two. 

But how would they respond? Would they think ... 

"That was funny!  I like Mr. Block. He's a cool  guy unlike my dad with his knock-knock jokes!

or would they think ... 

What is Mr. Block jabbering about?!  Who's Jack Benny?  Doesn't he realize he's here only as a means to an end?"

Or perhaps I should just keep silent, pretend I'm not listening, focus on the driving.  In which case, would they think ...

"Mr. Block really has it together! Stays out of our way unlike my mom always boring my friends about the time she rode in an elevator with David Crosby!"  

or would they think ...

"God, Mr. Block has nothing to say about anything.   Poor Brandon, his dad's a moron!"

"What do your friends prefer?" I asked Brandon as he exited the car at the club. "That I join in the conversation or keep it to myself?"

"Dad, you're over thinking it. Do what comes naturally." 

"Well,  tell me what it is that comes naturally!"

I chose to judiciously join in the talk on the way home.  It seemed to go fine.
Some of Bran’s friends were quite friendly and talkative, others a bit more quiet.

Just like any group of folks anywhere at any age.  

(FYI, my impression of Humphrey Bogart simply killed, although I think most of them thought it was Joe Pesci.)  

As I dropped each one of the guys off, "Thank you for the ride, Mr. Block" reverberated throughout the car.

Riding in cars with boys ---  yep, I wish I could be one of the boys again. The gap between me and Brandon and his friends seems as wide as the gap between the Sixties and the Tweenies, or whatever this current decade is called.

But it's the stage of life I'm at, and I'm going to relish it. Too bad for Tim's dad, who works a day job.


Note: Despite the nose, that is not me in the picture.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Which Do You See?

Fun with Ambiguous Illusions Ahead

From time to time I get a kick out of looking at those classical optical illusions that seem to be popping up a lot on Facebook these days.  These are known as ambiguous illusions, designed to elicit a perpetual switch in the brain between two alternative interpretations of what it's supposed to be.  

As if I'm not indecisive enough!

The classic above is actually called "My Wife or My Mother-in-Law" and goes back to the 1800's, which is apparently as far back as psychologists have been attempting to unsettle us to generate fees. Which did you see first - the young girl or the old lady? Naturally I saw the oldster. And I think she was winking at me too ... 
Anyway I thought it might be fun to take a look at a few of these ambiguous illusions today because people seem to be using them to majorly rack up the 'likes' on Facebook, and without even having to write a corresponding joke to go along with them!

Which Do You See?
A Frog or a Horse

Almost everyone sees the frog first, which you'd think would cause the frog to feel somewhat happier than he seems in the picture.  The horse is highly elusive and takes more time to find, but trust me, he's right in front of you. You'll feel ridiculous when you finally see him two or three hours from now. Remember to eat. 

Here's a hint which ought to help you out: It's not a talking horse!  Hope I haven't spoiled the fun.

Which Do You See?
A Vase or Two Alfred Hitchcocks?

This illusion is called "Rubin's Vase" after the Danish psychologist who developed it. Those who see Mr. Hitchcock are said to be such fans of the Master of Suspense they either support Mr. Hitchcock harassing Tippi Hedren or have harassed Ms. Hedren themselves. If you see the vase, you're misidentifying it as a goblet and you're a big drinker. 

One can then state as a fundamental principle: When two fields have a common border, and one is seen as figure and the other as ground, the immediate perceptual experience is characterized by a shaping effect which emerges from the common border of the fields and which operates only on one field or operates more strongly on one than on the other.

All of which proves that you can create a world famous illusion and still not be much fun at parties.

Which Do You See?
A Duck or a Rabbit

Enough with the animals already! Statistically speaking, about 50% of the population sees the duck first and 50% sees the rabbit.  (I hope that adds up; math never my strong suit.) Actually this is one ambiguous illusion where I see both figures simultaneously,  a bizarre and ghastly half-duck half-rabbit creature right before my eyes!
I haven't slept nights since.

Finally, below is the most devilishly perplexing of all the ambiguous illusions I've ever seen:  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Which Do You See?
 A Recumbent Female Nude or
Former Head of the United States Strategic Air Command?

I know. It's killing me too.  I simply cannot find General LeMay. 

According to the experts, over 50% of the population will not see General LeMay because they are not looking for him.

But not me.  I'm going to stare at this ambiguous illusion all night if that's what it takes to find the good general! 

Note:  For those who plan to spend the weekend looking for General LeMay, the ambiguous illusion above is bogus.  He ain't really there.
But you knew that. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Masters' Room (FF)

"It's breathtaking!" raved Mrs. Heinz Cavendish, patron of the arts.

"Truly brilliant!" exclaimed her good friend Bryce Chadwick. "No wonder the artist's work is on special display this month here in the Masters' Room."

"And you're not going to believe who painted it," said Mrs. Cavendish. "Perry Block!"

"Perry Block? The third rate humorist?  Impossible!"

"I always thought he was just an idiot too," said Mrs. Cavendish, "but several people have told me he painted everything in this room."

"Oh no, Mrs.Cavendish," replied Bryce. "They don't mean the paintings."


"They mean the walls, ceilings, and blotchy woodwork!''


No, I'm not an artist and even "paint by numbers" is too much for me, but I did create one masterpiece this week --- a Friday Fictioneers entry based upon the prompt above which came in at a "by the rules at last" 99 words.   Hey, I may cut off my ear in celebration!

To take a self-guided tour of the great works of the many other Fictioneers, buy your ticket here and pick up the little museum tag you've got to wear. Don't lose it because if you leave the premises you won't be allowed back in without it.

And, after all,  you don't want to miss the great painting in the Masters' Room!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rocky Mountain High

"State of Colorado, Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division, how may I help you?"

''Cool!  I like the sound of that."

"Hello, sir?  May I help you?"

''Yes, you may!  My name is Perry Block, and I've long been an admirer of your fair state.''

''That's very nice, sir.  I'm agent Carter.  What can I do for you?"

"Ever since I first spotted Colorado on the map as a small child, I said to myself: Now that's a wonderful southern state!''

"But, Mr. Block, we're  in the Southwest."

"Southwest, you say?  Can't believe my dear Aunt Ethel gave me such an inaccurate map! I'd be angry, but she's passed now."

"Sorry, Mr. Block.  What can I do for you?"

"No, it's more like what the great state of Colorado has done for all of us! The Rocky Mountains, the beautiful lakes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, India.Arie, the Nuggets, the Rockies, Ken Kesey ... why, John Elway, he's my main man!"

"Is that so?"   

"Oh yeah!  I only wish he were still out there at center ice scoring goals today!"

"I see, sir.  You really do love Colorado!"

"Best place there is."  

"Thank you, Mr. Block.  Thank you very much." 

"Y'know, Agent Carter, I just happened to have heard by chance that the sale of marijuana is now legal in Colorado.'' 

"Yes, that's true." 

''I was wondering ... you guys have any kind of Honorary Citizen Program?"

"Honorary Citizen Program?  No, we don't."

"Friend of the State Status?"

"I don't think so."

"How about a Reciprocity Policy?"

'"What's a Reciprocity Policy?"'

"I send you something from Philadelphia, you send me something back from Colorado.''

"What would you send me from Philadelphia?"

"Would you like some of our famous cheese steaks or replicas of the Liberty Bell?  I can send you a whole lot of Michael Vick jerseys!  I think I could get you Patti LaBelle's autograph too; I happen to know where she gets her hair done."

''And what would you like us to send you in return, Mr. Block?"

"Oh, I dunno. Well, maybe an ounce or two of your very best Mile High Mile High, Aspen Gold, or BadAss Boulder!  Whatever it is you got! And please, before the weekend!"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Block, there's no Reciprocity Policy."  

"How about a Pollyanna Gift Exchange? Like in grade school.  I'll be your Pollyanna!"

"Sorry,  I can't help you."

"Well, can you send me some medical marijuana then?" 

"You're sick, Mr. Block?  What illness do you have?"

"End Stage Bupkis. It's been a terrible ordeal!"

"Oh.  Only thing is my wife's Jewish, Mr. Block."'


"You just said you have End Stage Nothing."

"Damn it, Agent Carter, why can't you help me?  I was smoking dope before you were born!  How old are you?"

"I'm 32."

"Actually, I had already given up smoking dope before you were born."

"Mr. Block, we are simply not allowed to send marijuana out of the state."

"Well, isn't there anything I could do?"

"Yes. You could move here."

"But I don't wanna live in the south!"

"Mr. Block, I told you, we're in the Southwest."

''Oh, who gives a crap where your crummy state is!"


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Robert's Stairway

"No, no, no, Robert, that's no good!''

"You're right, Jimmy. Lemme try it again."

''Please do, man!  We've been at this for hours now."

"Here goes: Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to a burgundy shack at the beach ...."

"Terrible, just terrible!  Serves us right for trying to write a song about that stupid picture you took at Brighton Beach!''

"You have a better idea, Jimmy?'

''I do. Listen:  Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway up a rock to no place in particular .... "

"That stinks! This is Hell trying to finish this song.''

''Sure is, Robert!  But when we do finish, I've a feeling it's gonna be Heaven!" 

Frankly I like"Stairway to a Burgundy Shack at the Beach," but sadly that's not what was chosen.  If you want to see what the other Friday Fictioneers chose to write about this week in response to the picture prompt above, click here on your own very personal Stairway to No Place in Particular.

Well, I've gotta go climb my stairway no place in particular to take care of a Spring Clean for the May Queen.  See you next week.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mark Zuckerberg, Boobs & Me

You've got to hand it to Mark Zuckerberg.  His intelligence collecting capabilities are so vast he makes the NSA look like a couple of eight year olds with two paper cups and a string. If Santa Claus had the ability to spy on his fellow man in the manner of Mark Zuckerberg, you and I would have a sufficient collection of lumps of coal today to power a small city.

How do I know this?  I simply have to click on Facebook.

Whenever I do, I find a column of ads to the right of all the posts by my Facebook "friends" whom I've never met and never will meet which looks and reads like this:

Meet Claudia. She loves unsightly wrinkles, thinning hair, and the word "flaccid." She doesn't care if you never look at her eyes. We've got hundreds of women like Claudia with no standards waiting to meet you. Join for free at

It doesn't matter how old, desiccated, and lacking in redeeming social value you are, you'll be having non-stop sex with women like Vicki within minutes after joining  What do you have to lose other than all your self-respect? 

We have 113 mature women in your area looking for a man 63 or older! Every one looks exactly like Amy except some also have large breasts. We offer free Vitamin E too. Click to join!

It wasn't always like this for me on Facebook. When I first joined the site there was always a right hand column of diverse ads for all manner of random things like shoes, threshing equipment, mutual funds managed by mimes, and the best-seller "Theodore Bikel's Anti-Aging Secrets." 

Occasionally I would get an ad or two I didn't appreciate like "Falling and you can't get up?or "Seniors! Learn to knit plaid pants ....", but I objected and the ads vanished like beer at a frat party. Facebook tries mightily to customize its advertising for each individual Facebooker's interests and preferences. 

One day I saw an ad for a dating site graced by a picture of a woman whose breasts could float a battleship.  Before my eyes could return to their sockets I saw another such ad, and soon ads for dating sites featuring incredibly large busted women began proliferating to the point every time I opened Facebook I thought my computer was going to tip over to the right! 

Mark Zuckerberg, I realized, was no doubt reading my FB posts and determining my tastes and predilections. Flattering to be sure, but how much did he really know about me? There's more to me than just boob-crazed burned out baby boomer! 

write about many things, like politics, books, film, and popular culture. 

True, I always write about books, film, and popular culture which feature big boobs, and I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming Mariah Carey autobiography to be made into a movie and then become part of popular culture. But I also write about politics, where ... umm... yeah ... everyone's a boob.

Mark Zuckerberg, you are amazing!  You know more about me than I know myself.

May my PC screen teeter totter forevermore.


"We'll do the teeter tottering, Perry. 
 You do the doddering."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Crow's Nest

"What do you see ahead, Mr. Barkley?" Cap'n Timmy hollered to his faithful lookout in the ship's crow's nest.

"There's a ship approaching, Cap'n Timmy!" responded Barkley. 

"Good! Then raise the Jolly Roger, it's full scale assault for booty!"

"Ha, ha, Cap'n Timmy," laughed Barkley. "This is so fun!"

"Why are you laughing, Mr. Barkley?" asked Cap'n Timmy.

"Because we're obviously in one of those adorable children's books where a supposed great adventure turns out to be the whimsical fantasy of a young boy and his dog."

Cap'n Timmy pulled out his pistol and shot Barkley, who fell from the crow's nest into the frigid sea below.

"Poor bastard!" sneered Cap'n Timmy. "Even he got misled by the stupid ass names Perry Block has given us."


Maybe it was partially the misleading names I gave the characters, but the picture prompt above upon which this week's Friday Fictioneers story is based sure didn't help clarify things either. No, Cap'n Timmy is not 4 years old and Mr. Barkley not 4 legged! And their story comes not from the dreams of children, but from the annals of bloodthirsty plunder on the Spanish Main.

Speaking of annals,  you can dig deep into the annals of the other Friday Fictioneers by clicking right here on the word "annals."  I assure you "annals" is not a dirty word, although after so overusing it in this paragraph I'm not sure I can assure myself the same thing.

Full speed ahead, everyone, and on into 2014.  And for god's sakes, stay out of the crow's nest!