Jokes From the Max Burbank Joke Book

Here’s something you might not know about me. I worked ‘in comedy’ professionally for several years after graduating college. It’s true! People paid cash money to witness the funnyness that you all get for free. Lucky, lucky you. Unfortunate, unfortunate me. When people learn of my former life in the comedy field, they often ask me to ‘say something funny’. My pat response is that ‘I was never that kind of comedian’, a line I find quite hilarious which surprisingly is most often met with bewilderment. Sometimes, though, instead of asking me to be funny they tell me how much they wish they were funny.

Being funny all the time can be darn hard work. Not everyone is born with the gifts of humor I was, and yes, I am talking to you.

With that in mind, I’ve assembled a few old traditionals I’m no longer using or more likely stole from someone else in the first place that you can feel free to commit to memory and foist off on unsuspecting friends as your own bon mots.

***

A gentleman walks into a bar, takes out a small black box and from it removes a miniature piano, perfect in all detail. He then turns the box on it’s side and out walks a man no taller than a ruler in a perfect black tuxedo who sits at the miniature piano and begins to play Beethoven’s Fifth symphony with a fair amount of skill. The bartender, understandably surprised at such a miraculous turn of events, asks the customer where in the world he acquired a twelve inch pianist. Cocking his head at a sly angle and turning away, the customer begins to soundlessly weep, this behavior escalating until his body is wracked with silent sobbing. Alarmed, the bartender comes out from behind his bar and is horrified to discover that the customer has gouged out his own eyes, blinding himself. While the bartender is distracted, the tiny pianist climbs atop his miniature piano and shouts: “With the prices you charge for drinks, you’re unlikely to EVER get a visit from a man with a talking dog!”

***

Two discreet confirmed bachelors of old acquaintance are enjoying a stroll through the Boston Public Gardens. The first turns to his partner and says, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!” to which his partner replies, “If my Aunt had a Penis, my insurance would hardly begin to cover the amount of mental health visits per month I’d require!” Several months later, both gentlemen will be surprised to find that the adjustable rate mortgage on their condominium has risen beyond their ability to keep pace with the monthly payments.

***

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Angina.

Angina who?

I’ll be damned if I’ll stand out here any longer, my dignity has already been damaged enough by sleeping with you in the first place, I certainly won’t add insult to injury by being a party to your inane hallway games!

***

Instruct your audience that whatever you say to them, they must chant back in unison “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!”

Then ask: “What are your two favorite toys?”
To which they will respond: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!”

Ask” “What does the Pope hide under his hat?”
Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!”

Ask: “What did your Grandfather request on his deathbed?”
Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!”

Ask: “What does the physician prescribe for gout?”
Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!”

Ask: “What are the secret ingredients in a Zagnut bar?”
Response: “RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR!”

Ask: “When, when will the lord God almighty see fit to end the pointless misery of my wretched, sexless existence, what does He get from torturing me day after relentless day until I am forced to my bloody, torn knees in abject humiliation and despair, is there not one among you, not one, with the simple human decency to blow the brains from my tormented skull?”
 Should any audience member be brave enough to even whisper “Rubber Balls and Liquor”, hurl yourself at their feet weeping inconsolably.

***

Several years ago while driving through the countryside, I chanced to stop at a farm stand. When I found no proprietor to pay for the dozen ears of corn I desired to purchase, I had a look around and soon found a farmer seated on a barrel. Seated across from him was an old hound dog and between them on a stump was a checkerboard with a game in progress. Eventually, the dog reached out a paw and moved one of his pieces. “Good lord!” I said, “Your Dog is a genius!” The farmer cast a laconic eye my way and said, “Not really. You see, her move allows me to jump her piece into the final row, a predictable mistake she makes with appalling regularity. I know this because this Dog and I are married. We play checkers not for joy, but because after so many years it is all we have left. What love once was between us, if that’s what it truly was, faded away long ago. No children comfort us in our old age, which hardly comes as a surprise, but still, it’s sad. We look back on our choices and wonder who it was made them? Who was that man? Who was that dog? Our remembered selves are strangers to us now, and all we have is checkers on a summer’s afternoon. Is that what you call genius? It’s life I suppose and will have to do. King me, Fido.”

***

A Priest, a Rabi and a Leprechaun arrive at the Pearly Gates at the exact same moment. “Why is St. Peter not here to greet us?” the Priest asks. “Hah!” says the Rabi, “The Pearly gates and no St. Peter! That proves you were wrong and I was right all along!” “Yer both of ye’ wrong!” The Leprechaun pipes up, but before he can finish his thought, the gates swing open and all three are confronted by a God so outside their ability to comprehend that they are immediately driven mad for all eternity, unable to process in any way that this is not Heaven or even Hell for that matter, but a vast cruel cosmology from which each soul exits briefly into life once only, ill equipped to glimpse even the slightest meaning in the instant before being plunged once more into chaos.

***

Q: What do you get when you combine a Dog with a Hatrack?

A: First class results!

***

Tell your audience you possess psychic powers and ask if anyone would like their palm read. When a volunteer comes forward, grasp their wrist quite firmly and lay their hand palm upright upon the stool almost always found next to the microphone stand in better comedy venues. Then begin to smash away at the hand with a hammer, never letting go of your volunteers wrist, until they fully understand just how badly it hurts to have all the bones in your hand reduced to bone shards wrapped in human jelly. Should any wag in attendance be bold enough to note that your volunteer’s hand is now certainly ‘red’, stare at them blankly for a moment and then shout, “Oh! Oh, sure, I get it!”

***

Q: What is the difference between your prom date and a day old chocolate donut?

A: WE DO NOT ALLOW JEWS IN HERE! WHO ALLOWED A JEW INTO THESE HALLS?! RUN, JEW! RUN AS THOUGH YOUR VERY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT!!”

***

If someone heckles you, try this; Allow yourself to look a little nervous, but begin to respond with some tried and true heckler response device along the lines of “Please, sir, it’s not like I come to your place of employment and knock the burger off your spatula”, but before you can even finish, dissolve into a coughing jag. Hold a hand up letting the audience know you are alright, pull yourself together and then begin coughing again. Now using a clever mechanical device you have hidden on your person for just this purpose, expel a stream of fake bile and collapse on the floor. Begin violently shaking as if you are having some sort of fit. Paramedics will be summoned, but don’t give away the ruse! Allow them to place you on a gurney and remove you to their ambulance. When you arrive at the hospital, tell the doctors you are beginning to feel better. After about a half hour tell them that whatever happened to you, it’s past. They may keep you overnight for observation, or discharge you with instructions to consult your physician. Legally change your name. Shave your head. Undergo costly plastic surgery. Vanish forever without a trace.

***

This next bit requires a monkey, which is a lot harder to get a hold of than you might think, so screw it.

***

Tell your audience that your knees have distinct personalities. Furthermore inform them the left knee is named ‘Klaus’ and the right knee is “Doris’ and that Doris and Klaus have been married for twenty-four years, that in fact tonight is their twenty-fourth anniversary. When your audience responds with incredulity as surely they will, invite a member up on stage to examine your knees and see the proof for themselves! As soon as they make even the slightest movement toward your knees, shriek “WHAT ARE YOU, SOME SORT OF MORON? HOW COULD TWO KNEES POSSIBLY BE MARRIED? HOW WOULD THAT WORK EXACTLY? THERE CAN BE NO EXPLANATION FOR YOUR RUBEISHNESS UNLESS YOU ARE DUTCH! IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE? SOME KIND OF IMBECILIC DUTCHMAN?!”

***

Thank your audience profusely, telling them they are without any doubt the finest audience you have ever performed in front of, that the informed joy they have taken in your performance has made this night a career highlight, and that as thanks, before you leave, you intend to bestow upon them the meaning of life. Pause, gazing fondly at them. Spread your arms wide and say “Always remember…” Pause again, holding the moment, cherishing it. Slowly allow a hint of doubt to shadow your features. Spin that doubt like a fine thread, allow your expression to slowly sour and say “No, maybe it’s best I don’t… don’t…”. Cast your gaze down. Lower your arms. Allow your shoulders to slump. Tell them that they are not the first audience you have called ‘the finest audience you have ever performed in front of’, that in fact you close most shows this way, that the truth is they are at best an average audience, indistinguishable from the vast human herd you have performed in front of for many years now, tell them it would give you the greatest pleasure to tell them they’d been a bad audience, that they understood nothing you’d told them, because at least if that were true this night would stand out from all the rest, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t, in the end it’s all just the same. Back slowly offstage. Looking up at them only in the instant the darkness swallows you. Retreat to the parking lot and aggressively panhandle your audience as they leave.

100 Days of Misery Project: Chunk Ten, the Final Chunk. This Time It’s Personal.

#100daysofmisery #day91 : Ten days left of this project. People want to know what I will do next. I could do 100 days of posts about how miserable I am that I can’t think of anything anywhere near as good as the last one hundred posts. I could do a second 100 day project that introduced an adorable and precocious child who wrote smart ass rejoinders to my posts that while they stung also revealed a wisdom and erudition beyond his years. There’s a lot of pressure here. I think of the classic and always correct advice, “Leave them wanting more” and how that advice could not have been thought up by an ultra needy egotist and how anyone in need of that advice is almost certainly an ultra needy egotist who will know it’s good advice but would absolutely die twice before taking it. Oh, and spoiler alert? The 100’th day? I have not been holding back a super good story. We are already at the bottom of a very dry well. Sorry.

#100daysofmisery #day92 : When I was five or six, my Grandparents took my whole family on a trip to Italy. We rented the Villa Rufalo, a 14’th century castle on the Amalfi coast. We visited Pompeii, Herculaneum, Mt. Vesuvius, The Vatican. I know people who claim to have detailed memories of their lives from when they were as young as three. Sadly, my brain is not wired that way. I recall very little of the trip. Here is my most vivid memory. I woke in the middle of our very first night in the Villa with a painfully full bladder. I wandered out into an enormous hallway and in short order was totally lost. I am told that on that vacation I beheld Michael Angelo’s Pieta. I don’t remember it. I do remember standing in the dark in a puddle of my own urine howling until I woke up several family members, and I think some staff.

#100daysofmisery #day93 : This was in third grade, maybe. I had a substitute teacher and I don’t recall the exchange that lead to this moment, but she asked me what was on my shoulders. I looked at both shoulders, saw nothing and told her so. She asked again, what is that on your shoulders? Was there visible dandruff I was missing? I checked again. No. Nothing. I told her again, there was nothing on my shoulders. Your head, she said. Your head is on your shoulders. Use it. I replied: My neck. Is between. My shoulders. My head. Is on. My neck. And then I got sent to the principals office.

#100daysofmisery #day94 : When I was about twelve, the most exciting activity imaginable was a “Raid”. This meant my brother and I having a friend or friends sleep over, staying up well past my parents bedtime, sneaking out of the house and doing something bad, probably involving spraypaint, pretty much the limit of badness we could imagine. The night of the first “Raid” I was beside myself on a heady mix of adrenaline, terror, delusions of grandeur and a near total lack of knowing what girls were. By 7:30 in the evening I was contemplating throwing up and the sun wasn’t going to set for another hour. We waited, no hyperbole, seven thousand years for it to be late enough to sneak out. Was Eleven late enough? Absolutely not, any ”raider” would get bagged by the cops the instant they opened the front door. Midnight? What were we, children? 2:00 AM was not late enough, but we were now running the risk of falling asleep at the dinning room table. Time to “Raid”! It took hours to get to the end of our driveway, because awesome stealth cannot be rushed. Once on the street it was too dark to tell exactly where we were. We walked in silence using only hand signals to communicate for over an hour, well out of our neighborhood into unfamiliar darkness. Had we gone far enough? Best go further. What time was it at this point? What the hell kind of “Raiders” did not posses even one watch with a luminous dial? When did the sun rise at this time of year? We could not risk daylight on the return trip, it was time. The spraycan was deployed. A naughty word was written on the street in day glow orange. The brave “Raiders” hightailed it home, flush with brigandry. The next morning, my father was quite angry. McGovern bumper stickers and being the only Jews in town was apparently an open invitation to the local moronry. Someone had spraypainted a big orange ‘F*CK’ about ten feet from the end of our driveway.

#100daysofmisery #day95 : I think the best jokes contain metaphorical lessons about the nature of life. My favorite ends with the punch line “Order the Potato Soup, because you’re going to get it one way or another.” Perhaps you know this one, but if not, let me just say that it revolves around a well known inn with a famous restaurant, a case of mistaken identity and a violent, forcibly administered enema. I had initially intended to deconstruct the joke for you and reveal all that it teaches about being alive in the world, but having reread this paragraph, I just feel sad.

#100daysofmisery #day96 : I spent several years of my life working in the incoming call center of a museum, mostly selling tickets. I know, I could stop right there, couldn’t I? There’s more, though. At some point in almost every call, I’d have to ask the caller for their credit card number and then they’d…you know… read me their credit card number. But one time there was a long pause and the caller said, what, the whole thing? And I said yes, thinking perhaps they thought I’d only need the last four digits, or maybe they didn’t know if I’d need the expiration date, yes, I will need the whole number. There was another very long pause. Finally they said okay, uhm… four… Quintillion… quintillion? Four quintillion, two-hundred-thirty-six… Quadrillion…

#100daysofmisery #day97 : I needed costume supplies for the big Halloween ‘social’, which is what the dance/bacchanals were called at Reed. For those of you keeping score, this would be the first time I tried to do college, in Portland Oregon. I wanted to be the King of the Cats, a figure from a folk tale (or maybe it’s just an old joke) that featured prominently in Peter Straub’s “Shadowland”, my book of the moment. I had a bowler, but needed a jazzy walking stick and some black and white greasepaint. Why did I think the King of the Cats needed a bowler, a jazzy walking stick and black and white grease paint? Because of the person I was at that time. You see how sad this story already is, and I haven’t even gotten to the point yet. A trip downtown by bus was necessary, something that may not seem like much to you, but required all my psychic wherewithal as I was very short on wherewithal at that point in my life. I found everything I needed and did not get lost, so I was quite proud as I boarded the return bus. At the next stop, the man seated behind me began to struggle to his feet. He was very old and was using an aluminum crutch. Hey, he muttered hey! The bus was starting up again, the old man was going to miss his stop. I stood and waved my newly purchased jazzy walking stick so the Bus Driver would see it in his mirror. I was wearing my bowler (Of course I’d brought it with me, how else was I to know if my jazzy walking stick went with it?) Stop, I said stop! There is an old man back here who needs to get off! I felt a sudden sharp pain, and before I could determine what had caused it, I felt it again, and then again. The old man was beating me with his crutch. He glared down at me and said ‘Don’t f*ck with me, boy. I am a hustler.’ The he slowly made his way down the aisle and off the bus. I was not able to parse his statement then. I still can’t. That night I spent more than an hour applying my black and white grease paint. I attended the Social for about twelve minutes before it made me too anxious and I returned to my dorm.

#100daysofmisery #day98 : On one of my very first gigs with the improv comedy group ‘Guilty Children’, we were met in the parking lot by the club manager. Okay, she said, I want to be very clear up front, there will be no jokes about female beheading. Hours later it occurred to me I could have said, well, scratch the Anne Boleyn bit. What I did say was, uhm… okay. Some comedian. As the years go by, though, it’s not the missed opportunity for a snappy comeback I regret. It’s that I didn’t ask for any explanation. Had there been a run of female beheading jokes at her club? Was it some kind of controversial comedy trope I just wasn’t up on? Had someone actually been beheaded at her club recently? I can’t imagine I wouldn’t have heard about it. Her one instruction was so clear, she seemed certain we knew what she was talking about. It’s been more than twenty years and sometimes I still find myself thinking, what the hell?

#100daysofmisery #day99 : The 100daysofmisery project has been a lot of things. A chore, a responsibility, a nonsensical commitment to an invisible taskmaster, a hideous, soul crushing burden… Mostly, though it has been a daily discipline, suggested by my bride to combat a very long case of writer’s block. It began (as so many things do with me) as an irritation. I had noticed a phenomenon on Facebook, #100daysofhappiness, or the 100 days of happiness challenge. Here are two things that ‘stick’ in my ‘craw’: Being ‘challenged’ by the vast blind zeitgeist beast that is the Internets (or anyone or anything, if I’m honest), and contemplating happiness. I may have mentioned this to my bride at some tedious length and by way of shutting me up she suggested I write 100 days of misery. Voila. Thinking about, mulling over, considering, pondering happiness has always made me distinctly… unhappy. On the other hand, really zeroing in on pissyness, crankiness, negativity and yes, actual downright misery has always made me laugh. Messed up, right? But laughter makes me happy. So is this misery or happiness? Also? Go check out the 100 days of happiness challenge website. They use a lot of multiple exclamation points!!! I totally don’t trust that crap. Multiple exclamation points are for car salesmen and serial killers. You can drive this car off the lot today!!! I ate his liver with some Fava Beans and a nice Chianti!!! Multiple exclamation points may indeed indicate the happiness of the user, but the bared teeth in that smile are also a clear sign of threat and aggression.

#100daysofmisery #day100 : Here is an event that shaped my life. I was in my late teens, living in my father’s house in New Hampshire, on the west shore of Canobie Lake. I awoke suddenly and fully in the middle of a January night. The house was completely still. I had a strong sensation that something wanted me to go outside. I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep. But I was supposed to go outside. I was supposed to be outside, for some reason, some event. Something was going to happen. I was compelled. I got up. I dressed. I slipped through the hallway, eased the front door open and stepped into the night. There was no wind. The moon was almost full and it’s light turned the snow and my breath the cornflower blue of the crayon from the sixty-four-count box. I stood and I waited for a thing to happen. I waited for a while and then a long time. The certainty that something momentous was going to occur leeched slowly away with my body heat. I got very cold. I went back inside, back to bed.

Disappointment aside, it is always nice to go back to bed.

100 Days of Misery Project : Chunk Nine

#100daysofmisery #day81 : At about 4:00 this morning my dog came to the conclusion that the skin on my lower legs was way too dry and that the ideal moisturizer would be, no hyperbole, seventeen gallons of tongue applied dog spit.

#100daysofmisery #day82 : Several years ago, my Bride and I arrived by train at South Station in Boston. It was the middle of the night, we had luggage and were obliged to take a taxi. The cab driver was very quiet and I could not quite make out everything he was saying, but I thought he kept addressing me as ‘Chief’. ‘Should I put the bags in the trunk, Chief?’ , ‘Think we should take Storrow Drive, Chief?’ After a while I realized I was mishearing him. Not ‘Chief’, ‘Jeff’. Why would he assume my name was Jeff? He did not. He was talking to someone named Jeff who as far as I could tell was not there.

#100daysofmisery #day83 : Like most people my age, I went through a brief childhood obsession with the Apollo program. I wanted to be like the Astronauts, and I was pretty sure the best way to do it was to drink Tang and eat Space Food sticks. A “non-frozen balanced energy snack in rod form containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein,” These foil wrapped slim-jim shaped treats came in a variety of flavors including peanut butter, chocolate, malt and mint. I’d tried them at a friend’s house and was desperate to possess them for myself. I went to my father to make my case. As a Doctor and Science Fiction enthusiast, I imagined he’d be sympathetic. I wanted to be like the Astronauts, I told him. I wanted Space Food Sticks. He asked me if I also wanted to defecate in my clothes, because that was something Astronauts did too. No. No, I did not want to do that. I think my mother eventually took pity and bought me some, but by then it was too late. They tasted awful, something I had somehow missed at my friend’s house, and with each bite all I could think of was crapping my pants.

#100daysofmisery #day84 : I was an anxious child. In second grade during recess a pair of girls discovered me near the edge of the playground crying. They asked me what was wrong. I don’t remember, but I suspect nothing specific. I had to tell them something, though, and it had to be good. I thought if I said a pet had died that would be better than saying, ‘oh, just, you know, free floating anxiety’. That felt like the right track, but it didn’t seem quite big enough to justify crying alone on the edge of the playground. So I told them criminals had broken into my house and stabbed my rabbit, Lady Macbeth. And yes, yes, that was her name, I named my rabbit Lad Macbeth. And in suburban Massachusetts in the early Seventies that isn’t cute or quaint or precocious, it’s just weird and off-putting, and my parents should have said no, you can’t name your rabbit Lady Macbeth, you can name it Blacky or Blackberry or any other damn thing based on the fact she has black fur, or Cheryl for Christ’s sake, or if you absolutely can’t stop yourself just never, never tell any other kid you named your rabbit Lady Macbeth, especially in the context of telling them criminals broke into your house and stabbed her.

#100daysofmisery #day85 : What the hell does the Itsy Bitsy spider think is at the top of the water spout? Is there some spider pleasing thing about the top of water spouts that I don’t know about? What the hell even is a water spout? Why would you sing that song to a kid? It’s like, hey, little kid, life is pointless but you’re going to keep doing the same sh*t over and over even though a rat changes it’s behavior when you shock it. Screw that song. I hate spiders. Water Spouts can kiss my damn ass.

#100daysofmisery #day87 : True story. A few years back I’m standing on the deck at Flynnies on Devereaux beach waiting for my food. I was swimming earlier, so my hair is all over the place. I’m wearing a bathing suit, no shirt, and I weighed about twenty pounds more than I do now. My point is, I don’t look great, but not much worse than any other middle aged dad waiting for his food at the beach. Middle of the pack stuff. And this kid, three, maybe four years old, steps back behind his dad’s legs, points right at me and hollers, “Daddy… what… is…THAT?!” Not ‘who’. ‘That’. ‘That’? Seriously? Is the kid seeing something nobody else does when he looks at me? Or am I the one not seeing something everyone else is but are too polite to shriek about?

#100daysofmisery #day88 : Many of you may find this surprising, but I attended a private prep school that was both fancy and schmancy. Many of myy classmates had last names for first names, last names for middle names, hyphenated last names and sometimes a numeral. Students were required to wear a blazer and tie, or turtleneck. I leaned heavily on the turtleneck, because I was very fashionable and had a sensitive, somewhat chubby neck. Also, I thought ties were for swells. The school had been all male, and remained so until my senior year when we went co-ed. I thought this a healthy gesture in the direction of reality, but the point is, at seventeen I had very limited experience with The Ladies. I am not referring to ‘dating’ or even ‘socializing’, I’m more speaking of ‘existing in the presence of’. My response was to grow rather large muttonchops as soon as I was physically able, which should tell you everything you need to know. Selecting my most uncomfortable moment is hard, but here’s one: In one of my very first mixed classes, My AP English teacher (AP, see, I’m bragging now) who seemed to have done everything short of plastic surgery to permanently cosplay Ernest Hemmingway, forced me to read aloud “Whales weep not”, a poem by D.H. Lawrence. Do you know it? It’s about Whales having sex. Not the kind of sex charmingly hidden behind the gossamer veil of metaphor. It’s more like soft core Whale porn. I don’t think I would ever have been a fan of D.H. Lawrence, but without this experience I might have been able to associate his name with something beside the distinct desire to immediately stop existing.

#100daysofmisery #day89 : I have lived much of my life on the periphery of fame. James Spader’s father was my high school history teacher. Sam Waterston’s dad directed me in a Noel Coward play. It’s possible I may have mentioned being Oscar Winner Adrien Brody’s camp counselor, but did you know I also taught Leonard Cohen’s kids theater, not to mention (though I am mentioning) a certain rising holly wood star/Golden globe nominee who shall remain nameless as I do not want to violate his privacy since he is, yes, an ACTUAL FACEBOOK FRIEND OF MINE! I went to school with David Cross and once performed on the same bill as Louis C.K. I did the last minute re-write of the script for a Planetarium show narrated by Anthony Daniels better known as that guy inside C3PO. I’m not sure I should even tell you for fear you will think I am name dropping, but I once worked with the dude who played Mike TV in the 1971 good version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I sh*t you not. Lime Light rubs off, a fact that I think is amply illustrated by my performance at the height of my career as “Janitor”, visible in the background of more than one shot in a mid eighties commercial for the Massachusetts Sate Lottery.

100daysofmisery #day90 : When I was a wee tot, my parents took me to Coney Island. I was particularly excited because I was going to visit a site on the boardwalk from which a regional kiddy program I enjoyed was broadcast. The show prominently featured a Chimpanzee, and when I arrived, there he was, in the flesh, lounging in his cage, a jail cell style iron bar affair. The Chimp gestured to me and I approached the cell. When I was quite close, he reached out with both arms, took me by the ears, slammed my head soundly against the bars and fell back, hooting with delight. Wait, though, there’s more. In preparing to write today’s misery, I did a little research. No matter what parameters I searched, in all the vastness of the Internet, I could find no mention of any children’s television show, regional or otherwise, ever having been broadcast from Coney Island. Which means that in all likelihood, this memory, which is crystal clear in my mind and a story I have told many people over the years, never happened. I ask you, what kind of person creates a false memory in which a Chimpanzee bashes his head against the iron bars of a cage?

100 Days of Misery Project: Chunk Seven

#100daysofmisery #day61 : The dog treats that look and smell exactly like Slim Jims do not taste anything at all like Slim Jims.

#100daysofmisery #day62 : When I was about fifteen, I purchased a ring at the Methuen mall, strung it on a chain and took to wearing it around my neck. Yes, Yes, I was emulating Frodo Baggins, I’m sure some of you did similarly humiliating crap at a similar age. Okay, maybe not as humiliating. That summer at camp, a very pretty girl (child of a very famous father, now reasonably famous in her own right) asked me if it was a token from a girlfriend. I told her, no, I had bought the ring myself. She said, so, what, you’re, like, dating yourself? I could have told her the truth, but in that very instant the scales fell from my eyes and I was fully exposed to the grandiosity of my pretension. As if I would have been on anyone’s short list to carry the One Ring to Mount Doom. I couldn’t have carried it to the Seven-Eleven if I’d been on my way there to get a Slurpee. Yes, I said, yes, I wear this wring because I am dating myself.

#100daysofmisery #day63 : Several years ago, a show I directed (and wrote some of and acted in) was reviewed by veteran arts and entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik. She said the play would have been offensive if it wasn’t so downright stupid, which made my Bride cry. On the same broadcast she reviewed Macaulay Culkin in the film version of “The Nutcracker.” She said his dancing was wooden and that he wore too much make-up. I think Culkin got the worst of it, particularly as he wasn’t a ballet dancer, didn’t cast himself and almost cetainly did not apply his own make-up, whereas my decisions were all my own. On a positive note, I have always found the word ‘nutcracker’ to be hilarious.

#100daysofmisery #day64 : Through an odd chain of events too complicated to detail (well, not really, I just don’t feel like it) I once stood behind a curtain while George Lucas, Wolfgang Puck and my boss strolled at a brisk clip down a hallway and passed just a few feet from me. In that instant I realized that if I timed it just right and hurled myself out at knee level in front of them, I would probably be all over the Internet next morning. I let the moment pass. Life is a scarf knitted from the yarn of regret far too long for even Tom Baker to find practical.

#100daysofmisery #day65 : No matter how far into summer, no matter how hot a day it is, if I convince my family to go to the beach for a sunset picnic the temperature there will be fifty to seventy degrees colder and the wind will be so strong flying beach sand will strip the hairs off your arms. So if you are planning to go to the beach, you should probably call and ask me not to.

#100daysofmisery #day66 : I don’t want to think of myself as the kind of person who pays much attention to the number of ‘likes’ their posts get, but that is exactly what I have become. I count them. I compare them. I’m not agonizing over them yet, but clearly that’s where this is going. #day65 got eleven ‘likes’. Eleven. That’s pathetic. #day62 got fifty ‘likes’. Fifty is a much bigger number than eleven. It’s thirty-nine bigger! Does that mean people don’t like it when I write about the beach? Should I write more about nerd culture, adolescent pomposity or Lord of the Rings specifically? I need the pay off, I need the ‘likes’, I am jonesing for ‘likes’, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that I am becoming a ‘likes’ whore. What kind of person is a ‘likes’ whore? Do you ‘like’ that? I don’t think like it. I hope you like it.

#100daysofmisery #day67 : I am devoted to Xfinity On Demand because it allows me to watch my shows when I have time as opposed to when a given program is scheduled. This is a new freedom I embrace. Unfortunately, they play the same ads every commercial break, which I consider to be, no hyperbole, an abomination. You cannot fast forward through the commercials because “Fast Forward and other functionalities may be disabled” when using On Demand. I place a high value on Fast Forward, but I am more concerned about my ‘other functionalities’ because I do not know what they are. What if they are referring to my kidneys? I need those. And yet I put up with anxious uncertainty and quadruple doses of ads for lemonade flavored beer because I want to watch my shows ‘On Demand’. This is how fascism begins.

#100daysofmisery #day68 : Is there a word for feeling nostalgia for a thing or time you hated when it was happening? ‘Cause I hate the Bee Gees. Straight up hate them. I’ll tell anyone. I particularly hated them during the spring and summer of 1978 when apparently there was an FCC ruling that only songs from the Saturday Night Fever sound track could have any air time whatsoever. I hated their high voices, I hated their blindingly white clothes, I hated their monstrous lyrics. “Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother”? Seriously? “More than a woman”? What does that mean? Does she have an extra limb? And yet all I need to hear is that two bar instrumental introduction and I can see Travolta’s damn legs strutting down the sidewalk just like he’ll never end up making ‘’Battlefield Earth” or mangling Idina Menzel’s name when it’s the only damn thing he has to say all night and he’s a friggin’ PROFESSIONAL ACTOR and I feel all gooey about a past I pretty much didn’t have. I find myself feeling as if I liked those songs, which I categorically did not, but I still feel as if I must have. Except for “How deep is your love”. That song awfulness transcends all psychological phenomena.

#100daysofmisery #day69 : Both my parents are Jews, but not practicing. The sum total of my cultural/religious knowledge came from Woody Allen movies and “Fiddler on the Roof”. On my thirteenth birthday, my paternal grandfather told me that in no culture would a boy who left his pajamas on the floor when he got dressed for the day be considered a man.

#100daysofmisery #day70 : When I was a little kid, we had gerbils. I loved them, but my oldest cousin who was spending the summer with us, couldn’t stand them. Their nocturnal wheel antics kept him awake at night and he claimed he was literally loosing his mind. One day I came home from school to find the gerbil cage empty. There was a teeny little note in the cage that said in teeny little print “We just could not go on living like this”. My cousin denied any knowledge or culpability and claimed to feel emotionally abused that I would blame him for what was a documented suicide. My entire family found the whole thing somewhat hilarious. That’s bad, right?

100 Days of Misery Project : Chunk Six

#100daysofmisery #day51 : I am over halfway through this project now, and about 47 days further into it than I thought I’d get. About thirty-five years ago, a psychic fair fortune teller at what was then the Methuen Mall told me I was not living up to even half my potential. It wasn’t even my reading, she was talking to my Step-Mother. I was just sitting there. If I make it to the hundredth day of this project, as far as I am concerned I will have lived up to my full potential and will never have to do anything ever again. So screw you, Methuen Mall psychic. Screw you. Of course there is still every chance I will bag on the whole thing and prove her right. God damn it.

 

#100daysofmisery #day52 : My Mother-in-law had a dog who would wag her tail furiously and pee every time she saw me. She seemed utterly convinced it was what I wanted from her. She was totally wrong, but nothing I did could change her mind. I think there is an important life lesson here, but I’ll be damned if I can apply it to anything.

 

#100daysofmisery #day53 : Occasionally I see things the people closest to me say I probably didn’t really see. It’s irritating to have your loved ones casually suggest you hallucinate, but not seem overly concerned. Admittedly the things I’m talking about, while not impossible are fairly unlikely. A man in a gorilla suit and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in a white convertible. And elderly Vietnamese man on a street corner in New York grinning while washing out of a toilet as gleamingly white as the inside of the space ship at the end of ‘Close Encounters’. Two Lesbian Dwarves arm wrestling under a pool table. For the last year or so I have frequently seen two incredibly ancient old women walking around my neighborhood. They are identical twins, dressed identically, heads close, they mumble to each other unintelligibly in no discernable language. No one else in my neighborhood has seen them, and they are certainly the sort of couple you’d remember. Lately I have seen just one twin, by herself. I’m worried about her sister, I’m worried about her, but what do you say to an old woman you’ve never spoken to before who may not even exist?

 

#100daysofmisery #day54 : I’m 52 and I work in a comic book shop. I could just stop there. That could be my whole entry. It isn’t. We have this customer we call ‘Annoying Pirate Guy’, because he’s annoying and he dresses as a pirate. Despite the fact that his outfit is finely crafted, highly detailed and obviously expensive, he’s super boring. He goes on and on in this whispery affected ostentatious pirate voice about how he had all the G.I. Joes in our case when he was a kid, but his Mom threw them out. Just as if everybody’s Mom didn’t throw out their G.I. Joes. No matter how interesting his get up, it can’t change how excruciatingly dull he is. It’s like he’s trying to overcompensate for something that cannot be compensated for. I always figured that contrast was what made him so extra annoying, but the other day he came in wearing plain clothes for the first time and he was just. As. Bad. Like if you were on a train moving the speed of light and you turned on the headlights, their light wouldn’t go any faster because that light is already going as fast as it can go.

 

#100daysofmisery #day55 : So last night I got to pick the movie, and “Wet, Hot, American Summer” was On Demand for free, so I chose that. I’ve seen it a few times and really liked it. It’s an early, hastily assembled comedy with Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and lots of other great people. My Bride and elder daughter (younger not home) had never seen it before and kind of hated it. Here’s the thing, though. Watching them watch it I liked it way less. It seemed juvenile and there was more than one scene I felt uncomfortable watching. I think this may be a sign of weak character on my part. If I like the movie I like the movie, right? Maybe not. What does that mean? I certainly can’t chalk it up to ‘personal growth’. So when my Bride asked if I had any regrets about choosing the movie I lied and said I had absolutely none. I also claimed the movie was one of the TCM Essentials, which is I suppose a more obvious lie.

 

#100daysofmisery #day56 : When I was six or so, a Golden Retriever shortened my left ear by about half a centimeter. I can’t really blame the dog, I was trying to teach him to dance on his hind legs, something he clearly did not want to do. What did I learn from this? It is not okay to teach a dog to dance if it doesn’t want to, metaphorically or otherwise. Even if you really, really like dancing and are pretty sure anyone, including dogs, would too, if they just gave it a chance. Here’s the funny thing: I don’t like dancing all that much.

 

#100daysofmisery #day57 : Okay, look: Cherry cough drops, cherry coke, cherry gummy bears, pretty much anything cherry flavored tastes nothing whatsoever like a cherry. I’m not saying it doesn’t taste much like cherries, I’m saying that flavor is in no way similar to the flavor of cherries. Grape Soda? Same damn deal. We have simply agreed to accept some random chemical flavoring as representing cherries or grapes. While we’re on the subject, what the hell is Blue Raspberry? There are red raspberries sometimes shading toward purple, there are blackberries, which are different berries altogether, but there is no damn blue raspberry, hence there is no blue raspberry flavor. Allowing your sense of reality to be warped by arbitrary definitions of fruit flavor is where it starts, but it ends somewhere far, far darker.

 

#100daysofmisery #day58 : I know this is going to be a very unpopular post, but I feel the men of the Supreme Court made the right call yesterday, although perhaps for the wrong reasons. The religious freedoms argument opens a whole can of unpleasant worms as any half way intelligent man who wears a black robe to work ought to be able to see. I do however feel that Hobby Lobby, with their expert knowledge of scrapbookery, hot glue and the occasional stretchy things on plastic box loom project is uniquely suited to making reproductive decisions for women. I would go further and say that all sexual decisions for all people should be overseen by Hobby Lobby. I want their CEO and board of directors to select my sexual partners, I want them to oversee and physically assist all my sexual acts, I want procreation to take place only in the aisles of Hobby Lobby during business hours. Also, I just remembered my daughter is one of my facebook friends, and I must admit to feeling slightly awkward right now. I am thankful that at no point did I use the word ‘penis’. Oh, crap. If only Facebook had an ‘edit’ button.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day59 : When I was a kid, friends of ours had a three legged dog. One day I volunteered to take the dog for a walk, and in short order it yanked the leash out of my hand and took off. I chased that dog all over town, until it finally took pity on me and sat down, wagging its tail, panting less than I was. I’m sure there’s a lesson here in canine tenacity and heart and what our dogs can teach us. Here’s what I got taught: I was not equipped to catch a dog that no longer had the number of legs it had been born with.

 

#100daysofmisery #day60 : So I think if a customer is creeping you out even before you notice the Pogo the Clown tattoo on the substantial jelly roll of his upper inner arm, you should be allowed to immediately go home. Here’s the thing, you are not. Also? If you do not know who Pogo the Clown is, it will not make you happier to look it up, something you are now probably going to do anyway because that is just the way people are made. I did tell you not to, though.

100 Days of Misery Project: Chunk Five

#100daysofmisery #Day41 : When I was a kid, Pop-tarts came in a tough paper pouch. When you tore open the upper right corner (and it had to be the upper right) there was a very thin string attached on the inside that would pull through the paper as you tugged, opening the pouch. Band-aids had a similar interior thread device. It was incredibly satisfying. Now Pop-tarts come in a Mylar pouch, and you just tear them open and it’s no fun at all. If you are younger than me you may not even be able to imagine what the hell I’m talking about, and I can’t describe it any better than I have. Here’s what hasn’t changed: Pop-tarts tasted like crap then and they taste like crap now. Even kids know it. Toaster strudel is better, but no one is comfortable with the Teutonic/Nazi overtones of their advertising.

#100daysofmisery #42 : One time when I was a kid we were getting ready to go on vacation. It was early Sunday morning and we were loading the car. I was helping after my fashion, and felt like I’d done a lot. I asked my Mom if I could take a quick break and read the Sunday comics. A few minutes later my Dad came through the kitchen manhandling some massive load of luggage and there I was reading the funnies. “Oh, Good.” He said, “I was so worried. My primary concern this morning was that in all the rush to get everything ready for this family to go on vacation, you might not get a chance to read the comics. You cannot imagine what a load off my mind that is.” As a child I always thought of my father as crabby, a man with a naturally grouchy disposition. As an adult, I understand him much, much better.

#100daysofmisery #Day43 : I don’t know if this is a thing or not, but it happened a lot on the playground when I was in grade school. The big kids would pretend you were super strong. If you pushed them, they’d fly away and be astounded. You knew it wasn’t real, but it would go on long enough that you’d get used to it, you’d assume these were the rules, the new status quo. Then suddenly they’d rough you up and laugh ‘cause you were all upset your super powers were gone. Here’s the valuable life lesson hidden in that story: Big kids are jerks.

#100daysofmisery #Day44 : Swedish American artist Claes Oldenburgh made sculptures of everyday objects on a giant scale, forcing people to really see mundane objects and recognize the beauty hidden in the commonplace. The object depicted in this 1976 piece, however has so vanished from the world that it’s giant counterpart while certainly beautiful is now alien, mysterious and bizarre. I know perfectly well what it is, we had several, but the passage of time has entirely changed the meaning of the sculpture. That makes me sad, and yes, a little bit angry. Screw you, passage of time.

#100daysofmisery #day45 : In honor of the World Cup, about which I know sh*t all nothing: Once upon a time I worked as a Manny (Yes, yes, I was a male Nanny, now shut up). The Mom asked if I would help the child I was caring for work on his Soccer skills. I’d played (badly) in high school, but the kid was, like, five, so I said sure, does he like soccer? And the Mom says, we don’t know, mostly he stands on the sidelines tap dancing. And I said, well, maybe he likes tap dancing and he doesn’t like soccer. And the mom says, that would be fine, but the problem is we’re not entirely sure he doesn’t know he isn’t playing Soccer. Thinking back on it, he probably didn’t know sh*t about tap dancing or Soccer. He was five.

#100daysofmisery #Day46 : When I was a little kid I thought Dogs and Cats were the same species. All Dogs were boys and all Cats were girls. I thought Hamburgers and Hotdogs had a similar relationship, but I hadn’t yet entirely figured that one out. I still have a reasonable amount of difficulty with consensus reality. When you are talking to me and I nod and smile, that might mean I am on the same page as you, but the greater likelihood is that I am nodding and smiling because that’s what I do when I have no idea what someone is talking to me about. Also? The word ‘likelihood’ does not get used enough.

#100daysofmisery #Day47 : I want to be that Dude with the cobalt blue hair who trails the faintest essence of citrus in his wake. I want to be that Dude who when he walks by people say, there goes that Dude with the cobalt blue hair, and what’s that I smell in his wake? Is it… grapefruit? But I am not that Dude. I am not that Dude.

#100daysofmisery #Day48 : Today is the Summer Solstice. That means we get more daylight today than we do any other day of the year. Tomorrow, less daylight. Tomorrow, even less. This has nothing to do with how far we are from the sun. It’s all about the axial tilt of the planet. Tomorrow, our hemisphere will be less tilted toward the sun than it is today. You might think it would be hard to resent and take personally phenomenon of such monumental scale, but I manage it with grace and ease, thank you.

#100daysofmisery #Day49 : Okay, hypothetically, suppose you’re out walking and you pass a store with a large plate glass window. Would you smack the glass to indicate things in the window? I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t. If you had kids with you, and they repeatedly hammered on the glass as they walked past, would you stop them? Of course you would, who wouldn’t? It’s glass! It’s not a good idea to hammer on it. So who the hell are the people walking by the store I work at all day every day and how long must I work there before I get to see the window shatter and rain down on them? Did that last sentence go to far? I think I may have gone to far with that last sentence.

#100daysofmisery #day50 : When I was a kid, I got a lot of warnings about how difficult adolescence would be. How come as an adult nobody gave me a heads up about middle age? It’s basically the same thing except way worse. My body is going through all kinds of changes about which the less said the better. I’m moody and unpredictable. I’m growing hair places where I never had it before. And nobody is going to reassure me by telling me I’m ‘blossoming’. Though it may be that being told that as a teenage boy has something to do with the problems I am experiencing now.

100 Days of Misery Project: Chunk Four

#100daysofmisery #Day31 : I have never ‘texted’ once in my entire life and with any luck at all I will die without ever having ‘texted’. Typing with ones thumbs is not typing, it is an abomination which leads to the excessive and grotesque overdevelopment of the thenar eminence. Take a glance around a ‘bus’, ‘subway’, ‘Starbucks’ or some other sad place ‘texters’ congregate and you will never again unsee the misshapen mounds of gristle easily mistaken for fried chicken wings except in that they are where human thumbs ought to be instead of cozying up to a spare rib on a pu-pu platter. Did anyone ever say to Rachmaninoff “Say, you play that piana thing real good, but wyncha do it with just your thumbs?” No. No, they did not.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day32 : In photographs I appear a good ten years older than the face I see in the mirror. Either photo me or mirror me is lying to actual me. I hate both those bastards.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day33 : Time was when you saw a person coming toward you on the street gesticulating wildly and yelling at someone who wasn’t there, it meant they were crazy and you took appropriate precautions. Now you have to guess if it’s insanity or Bluetooth. It could be both. On the plus side I can now talk to myself in public and people have to mostly pretend I’m probably not dangerous.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day34 : You know those class action law suits against pharmaceutical companies that said some drug was safe and later it turns out it hurt you way worse then whatever it was supposed to be helping you with? Where’s my generations class action lawsuit against H.R. Puffnstuff? Remember? Jack Wilde as Jimmy? And he had a magic talking flute named Freddy? And Witchypoo was always trying to ‘steal’ Freddy’s ‘Flute’? And now forty years later I can’t look down when I shower?

 

#100daysofmisery #Day35 : Anytime a superior at work requires you to high five them for allegedly benefiting you in some way when in fact what’s happening is they’ve decided to screw you marginally less than their original plan called for, a part of you dies. I don’t mean a part of your soul, I mean a part of your kidney or liver or brain, something you actually need to continue living. The average worker can sustain between five and seven of this kind of forced high five over the course of their career. My strategy? Faking a rotator cuff injury.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day36: I’m not certain where I stand on the nature of God vis-à-vis judgment and punishment, but I do know this: The person who came up with the idea of selling Jeans with holes already in them is going to hell. The whole reason beat up clothes look cool is because they reflect the character of the clothed, they are visible markers of a life lived. Pre-distressed clothes are an unearned shortcut to a nonexistent destination, and as such, an abomination.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day37 : I feel like there isn’t enough pollen in the air today. I don’t think I can be truly satisfied with the pollen count until an obese gentleman sits on my chest and rams fistfuls of dusty yellow crap down my throat and the cuts open my chest cavity and stuffs it with flowers like I’m a friggin’ build-a-bear.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day38 : Growing up I always wanted tattoos, but was concerned I hadn’t earned them. Tattoos were the province of Carny Folk, Sailors, Artists and Criminals. By the time I felt I had proved myself worthy, every jackhole in spitting distance had full sleeves, generally applied with the same aesthetic sensibility as an unsupervised toddler left alone in reach of their day care sticker bin. My only solace is that if I get some now, mine will still be brightly colored, their imagery recognizable as I stare at the wall in the poorly funded old age home of my children’s choosing. As opposed to yours, which will look like IV line bruising, pureed carrot stains or both.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day39 : “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a damn stupid saying. Yes, okay, Lemons are sour, but if they weren’t good for a lot of stuff they wouldn’t sell them in supermarkets. If life gives you lemons and you don’t have to buy them, you are doing okay. How about when life gives you sh*t? And I know what you are saying, when life gives you sh*t, make compost which is a smart ass thing to say, but also kind of exactly what the lemons/lemonade line wants to mean but doesn’t. So I guess I grudgingly respect you. Bastard. Also? I am very much afraid I have already made this post. Also also? I used a ‘*’ instead of an ‘i’ in ‘sh*t’ again. I have no self-respect at all.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day40 : Do people yell at you from passing cars? I bet not. They yell at me, and have since I was in my teens. In middle school a young lady leaned out her passenger side window and shouted “Hey, kid, you walk like a frickin’ robot!” In my early twenties when I was sporting rather large sideburns, people frequently yelled “Yo, Elvis!” as they drove by. Even in my leather jacket, I don’t look much like the King. Once after calling me Elvis someone threw something that hit me right between the eyes. It turned out to be a gummy bear. A gummy bear. What does that mean? Someone yelled ‘Go get ‘em, Spidey’ when I was wearing a Spiderman T-shirt. Lots of people wear Spiderman T-shirts. I bet no one yells ‘Go get ‘em Spidey’ at them. I don’t think there’s anything that provocative about the way I walk around, but I’m forced to assume there must be.

The 100 Days of Misery Project : Chunk Three

 

#100daysofmisery #Day21 : How long can you lie in bed before you have to start worrying about bedsores?

 

#100daysofmisery #Day22 : When I was a kid there was a very popular poster of a terrified kitten clinging desperately to a branch with the caption “Hang in there, baby.” There was another very popular poster of a miserable infant with an upturned bowl of spaghetti and sauce on its head. My point is, the Seventies was a horrible decade to grow up in.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day23 : I am not a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy. I am not a ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy either. I am a ‘What the hell is in that glass? It looks suspect. You find fluid levels so significant, why don’t you drink it?’ kind of guy.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day24 : Defenestrate, verb, to throw a person out of a window; from the Latin ‘De’ (Out) ‘Fenestra’ (Window). When God closes a door, he opens a window.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day25 : May 28’th, cloudy, showers, low fifties, makes me feel like a clinically depressed, soaking wet baboon with a concussion in an Iron lung. Is that an overreaction or a poem?

 

#100daysofmisery #Day26 : You know how sometimes you look at a word or phrase and read it as something different before your brain accurately decodes it? Yesterday I saw my name, my own name, ‘Max Burbank’, on facebook and initially read it as ‘Wax Museum’.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day27 : Judging by the number of ‘likes’ these daily entries receive, more than a few of you take pleasure in my misery. Let me assure you, listening to me sit around and bitch every day is far less entertaining in real life. Just ask my Bride, who has been tolerating it for twenty-one years as of today. So maybe this entry is her misery more than mine. Happy anniversary, darling.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day28 : Today is the gorgeous spring day we have all been waiting for. The sky is so blue, the trees are a million shades of green, it’s warm but not hot. On a day like today, it’s hard to be cranky. But not impossible. Life is about making the effort.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day29 : We live in a world of devastating natural disasters, mind boggling injustice and unimaginable human cruelty, but here’s the thing; My toaster oven is literally falling apart. I have to use a coffee mug to keep the toast lever down, it does not stop on it’s own, if I forget to check it my toast catches on fire. The only two models on the shelf at Target have multiple controls of Starship level complexity I am certain I don’t need. I am not making a Thanksgiving dinner in there. I want toast, sometimes with melted cheese on top. They have a simpler model on display, but it is perpetually out of stock and I am beginning to think the only reason they have a display model is to make fun of me. The upshot is I will almost certainly burn my house down within the next three months. So I think you see my point.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day30 : When I was eleven years old, the comet Kohoutek was discovered. On TV we were told it would appear to be half the size of a full moon with a tail stretching a quarter of the night sky. I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation. When it arrived, at least from my vantage point in North Andover Massachusetts, it could not be seen without the aid of a telescope. This wasn’t the only event that shaped my world view, but ‘Dayenu’.

 

#100daysofmisery #interlude : Okay, I am forced to take a day off from being miserable. You may recall that on Day 29, I complained about the state of my Toaster oven and the threat it posed to the well being of my family. Yesterday I arrived at work to find a package waiting for me. There was no return address (beyond ‘The Fire Department’, which I don’t really believe). A great deal of effort had gone into the packaging which was decorated with graphics from an on-line column I had written several years ago. Inside was a brand new toaster oven, a very simple model that met the specifications outlined in my earlier complaint. Whoever you are, I am moved by this kind, thoughtful, funny gift. Have I mentioned our car is falling apart?

The 100 Days of Misery Project: Chunk Two

#100daysofmisery #Day11 : The summer Oscar winning actor Adrien Brody was six, I was his bunk counselor at sleepaway camp. He went on to act in many fine films and work with multiple acclaimed directors. I went on to become a man who can drop the name ‘Adrien Brody’ when the occasion calls for it, which, if I am honest, it rarely does. And yet I manage to drop his names several times in any given year. My point? Six is too damn young to send a kid to sleepaway camp.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day12 : Sometimes I say “Okey-dokey”. I promise myself I won’t ever say it again, and then I hear it coming out of my mouth. I want to say “I am not the kind of man who says ‘Okay-dokey’”, but there is empirical evidence that I am.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day13 : What I ‘like’ most about Facebook is when someone posts something sad or awful and people ‘like’ it. “Yesterday evening my beloved Irish Wolf Hound Cletus passed into the light” 4 ‘likes’. “I am using my left had to ype this post, as my right hand wss torn off by a thresher” You and seven others ‘like’ this. It’s the ultimate extension of not knowing the right thing to say. I dread the day when Facebook inevitably adds a suite of buttons. A ‘condolences’ button, an ‘I hate that too’ button, a ‘shadenfreude’ button. Let all the world be completely limited in their emotional response to ‘liking’ things.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day14 : A long time ago I saw a young couple walking by a river in a park. The girl pointed out a mother duck and her ducklings to the boy, saying “Oh, look, ducklings! Aren’t they sweet?” to which the boy replied “All becoming is essentially decay.” The ‘boy’ in the story was not me. That is not the point of the story. The point of the story is the inescapable tyranny of entropy.

 

#100daysofmisery #day15 : When the 1980 Brooke Shields vehicle “The Blue Lagoon” was being cast, a nationwide talent search was held to find an unknown to play her love interest. Producers came to my school and asked to see the students most interested in acting. As I opened the door to the office, before I had even entered the room, one of them said “Oh, that’s not what we meant.” Christopher Atkins got the role, and was described in the film’s trailer as “A young God sprung from the sea.” Having seen myself in a bathing suit, I was forced to agree with the results of my audition.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day16 : I dreamed I was Aqualad, and the Teen
 Titans were going on a mission and I had to go too. I hadn’t been 
around all that much lately, I’d been bagging on missions a lot because of other commitments, but this time they really needed me and 
it seemed important so I was going. The costume in my locker was old, and it shrank or I had put on weight. I couldn’t get the bathing trunks part past my thighs. I tell the other Titans “Just go, I’ll catch up” but I’m not going to catch up, because the costume totally doesn’t fit anymore. I feel particularly bad because they maintain a salt water pool for me. Because I’m Aqualad. I know I’m letting them down.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day17 : I am frequently told I make a lot of empty threats. To me, that doesn’t seem like something people should complain about. I mean… oh, wait. It just occurred to me that one alternative to making empty threats is to not threaten people. See, I was thinking actually carrying out threats was the only alternative. Huh. I guess this whole hundred days of misery thing is really making me grow as a person.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day18 : Here is the birthday song my Grandpa Irving used to sing to me. It is sung to the tune of “The Volga Boatmen” which is easy enough for you to look up, if that kind of thing is your game.

 

Happy Birthday,

Happy Birthday,

Children crying everywhere,

People dying everywhere,

But happy birthday…

To you.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day19 : I hate how little lawn my house has. Just two thin strips of green out front. It really limits my opportunities to tell people to ‘get the hell off my lawn’. Yelling ‘get the hell of my lawn’ at people when they are on the sidewalk is a sad substitute. The sidewalk isn’t even technically mine, it belongs to the city. Lately I have taken to yelling ‘get the hell of my lawn’ at people on sidewalks that aren’t even in my neighborhood. It’s not as good as if I had a lawn, but it is more okay than I would have thought.

 

#100daysofmisery #Day20 : When I was in second grade I had a crush on this girl, so I wrote her a note saying I liked her and brought it in to school. I very casually walked past her desk and let it drop. A few minutes later she very casually walked past my desk and dropped the note. On the blank side, she had written “Why did you give me this?” I turned it over intending to write “Because I really like you” and found the other side was blank as well. Somehow I had managed to bring the wrong piece of paper, a blank piece of paper from home. I gave her a crush note that said nothing at all. So I wrote ‘because I like you’ on it anyway. I mean, what the hell, right? Surprisingly, nothing came of it.

The 100 Days of Misery Project: Chunk One.

So as promised, here we go. To any ‘followers’ who are not ‘Facebook Friends’: Firstly, I welcome you. Secondly, I doubt your existence. According to my page ‘statistics’ there are already over 500 of you, on which I call Shenanigans. I have received about seven emails alerting me I am being ‘followed’ and all of them are from people I know. Irregardless (not a word) let me give some introduction to what you possibly existing folks are about to read. I did a little project on Faceboook called #100daysofmisery. I’d been seeing #1000daysofhappiness pop up here and there, and naturally it pissed me off. The Bride says “Why don’t you write 100 days of misery?” And I said “Like I’ll ever keep up with that” and then I did, which surprised no one more than me. About twenty-five days in, the pressure starts. ‘What are you going to do next, what are you going to do next?’ Well, this, I guess. Is that proper comma usage? I doubt it. I am a serial comma abuser.

That was my way to lengthy introduction. Here are the first ten days of misery, all in one convenient place.

1.) 100 days of this? Are you sh*ting me? I can barely imagine getting out of bed for the next 100 days.

Day 2: In yesterdays post, I used a * symbol instead of an ‘i’ in the word ‘shitting’. Now I am filled with shame over my cowardice.

Day three: Comcast.

Day four: I like to put “shower” on my daily to-do list, because most days I can cross it off without lying.

Day five: People say “it takes 37 muscles to frown and only 12 to smile”, as if they have a doctorate in facial physiology. Actually, I don’t know much of anything particularly about the muscles needed to frown or smile. It’s the sentiment I hate.

Day Six: My dog snacks out of the cat box. According to the ASPCA website “There is no apparent reason for this strange behavior.”

#100 Days of Misery# Day 7: They say “You can never step in the same river twice” and that’s supposed to be meaningful in some way. Once, twice, whatever, you’re going to get your shoes wet. I guess you could take off your shoes first, but then you have to wait for your feet to dry before you put your shoes back on because have you ever had wet feet in shoes? Awful. Awful.

#100daysofmisery #Day 7: Yesterday I was my daughter’s dance recital. The man who sat in front of me was steroids. I do not mean he was a steroid user, I mean he had used so many steroids that he been completely replaced by them, the way minerals replace organic matter in the process of fossilization. His neck was, no hyperbole, seven times thicker than his head. Instead of kids dancing all I saw was an enormous neck topped by a tiny head, like an orange sitting on a cinder block.

#100daysofmisery #Day9: So I’m on my ninth day and every day the wife’s all “You’re doing the hash tags wrong, you’re doing the hash tags wrong”, so I keep trying to do it the way she says to and she’s still “You did the hash tags wrong” and then yesterday I do it yet another way and the damn things get little blue boxes around them, which I guess means now they do something. I’m pretty sure they don’t take me to dinner or tell me everything is going to be all right, so honestly? I don’t care what they do. I don’t care. Hash tag? It’s the symbol for number. I can barely tolerate it being the ‘pound’ sign on the phone. Friggin’ thing has more identity issues than me. Plus which? I did two god damn day sevens instead of doing a day eight.

#100daysofmisery #Day10 : So a lot of people don’t ‘get’ why I’m doing this. Well, I’m fine with not being ‘gotten’. I’m more than fine with it. ‘not being gotten’ is my damn wheel house (and no I don’t know what a ‘wheel house’ is and yes I could look it up very easily and the hell if I will.) This is either a joke or a cry for help and it isn’t a cry for help. Get it now? Jesus. If I knew I was going to have to do all the heavy lifting I’d have skipped the whole damn thing.