Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


The diminutive Man-Bun Fedora, latest fashion trend. [Image credit: Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.]

I’ve been around the block a few times... if by “been around the block” you mean “taken a ride around the Sun.” More than a few times, in fact. Which means I’ve seen fashion trends come and go, come and go.

In the fullness of time, I have seen tie widths go from narrow to ridiculously wide, back to narrow again. Now that I rarely wear ties, they seem to have settled at a reasonable width somewhere between the extremes.

Trousers, AKA pantaloons, AKA pants, have had pleats sometimes, sometimes not. Their legs have flared anywhere from not at all to the ridiculous bell-bottoms of the early 1970’s; their waists have done everything from hugging the hips to threatening an assault on the Adam’s apple.

Having survived the 1970’s, a decade that fairly bristled with fashion faux pas - leisure suits, platform shoes, Qiana shirts open to the navel - there are no horrors at the haberdasher’s that I cannot handle. (No, I never owned a leisure suit, thanks Gawd.)

This, though - this might just send me over the edge. Yes, the tiny-ass fedora - just big enough to perch atop a Man-Bun - is now, apparently, a Thing.

I have not seen one of these out in the Real World yet, but it’s just a matter of time. It is, I suppose, the natural progression of things. Just as a few experimental tokes of weed after the high school prom inevitably lead down the slippery slope to jamming a spike full of China White into the veins between your toes (all the other blood vessels having already been rendered nonfunctional by overuse), so does wearing a beard and a wooden bow tie lead one to wearing a miniature Panama hat atop one’s Bro-Pony.

Happily, despite my love of headgear, I am safe from this newest Fashion Fad. Even were I interested in cultivating a Man-Bun, my headly foliage is so diminishèd from its former luxuriant state that there is no point to it. Why, even were a miniaturized colander available, I could not provide a topknot worth perching it upon.

Of course, guys, if you just gotta have one of these ridiculous little hats, there’s another head upon which you could wear it. I leave that to my Esteemed Readers’ perfervid imaginations.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


With a running start, she jumped onto the slender handrail and slid twenty feet, then vaulted over a low stone wall, landing on her hands. Maintaining a perfect handstand all the way, she made it down two flights of concrete steps.

“You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think!” she exclaimed.

Reaching the bottom, she dismounted by cartwheeling her way to a ten-foot drop onto an eight inch wide wall. Sticking the landing, she quipped, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

Nobody combined movement and wit quite like Dorothy Parkour.

Monday, June 20, 2016


People have been telling me that for years, but I finally did.

Ever wonder what the inside of your head looks like? Sure you have. And now, thanks to the miracle of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, I’ll get to do just that.

Having an MRI scan of your head is a fascinating process. If you are of a meditative turn of mind, it can be quite pleasant, lying motionless for about an hour (give or take) with your head in a confined space and with a dissonant orchestra of metallic hammering, zizzing, humming, and thumping assaulting your ears. It’s like listening to Eric Satie performing a concert on acid, with a guest appearance by Kraftwerk.

If you have any amount of claustrophobia, the experience is probably something like the seventh circle of Hell... but thankfully, I don’t suffer from that particular problem. What I do suffer from is The Bear - inexplicable, lancinating pain in my jaw - that is apparently not caused by dental issues or (as far as I know) TMJ. I’m hoping that a peek at the insides of my skull will provide a clue as to what is causing those mysterious jolts.

The only thing missing in this vintage 1960’s Anacin ad is a hot icepick to the jaw.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


I walked into a Hershey bar
And ordered up a shot
I thought they’d serve me whiskey, but
Hot chocolate’s what I got

The first thing you notice is the color scheme. It’s brown, of course... and it is everywhere.

It is as though a rabid UPS-crazed mob of painters had run amok through the town, shambling and gibbering, slopping paint over each stick of wood, every speck of masonry while the incessant chant of “What can brown do for yoooouuuu?” echoed in the streets.

The town, of course, is Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Hershey was named (in a fit of unwarranted modesty, no doubt) for its founder, one Milton S. Hershey, who built a world-spanning chocolate business beginning in the waning years of the nineteenth century. Milton was a visionary who believed in exploiting a happy, well educated, conveniently located workforce, an unusually progressive attitude for the time. He built a school for orphans that continues to operate unto this very day, funded by a stream of profits from the chocolate company.

In turn, research conducted at the Milton Hershey School has been a boon to the Hershey Company. The skilled genetic engineers that first honed their talents on enhancements to the notoriously finicky cacao tree eventually directed their efforts towards subtle modifications to the human genome, with the infamous Oompa-Loompa labor force being the result. The orange-skinned gnomes who toil in the chocolate works are not, as popular opinion holds, slaves: Technically, they are indentured servants to the corporation, working off the price of their “genetic enhancements.” Their coloration makes them easy to spot should any attempt an escape.

“Sepia... wouldn’t want to be ya.”

Hershey has plenty of activities and amusements for vacationing families. There’s the Hershey World of Chocolate, a hands-on experience that offers nothing less than a total immersion in the world of chocolate manufacturing, where (for a modest fee) visitors are able to work alongside a team of Oompa-Loompas as they crank out the day’s quota of Hershey products. There’s The Hershey Story (pictured above), a museum featuring an Olympic-sized swimming pool of tepid semisweet chocolate. There is Hersheypark, a chocolatized version of Six Flags featuring thrill rides and similar attractions. There are also world-class restaurants and golf courses available, for those who have had their fill of Brown Goods.

And it’s easy enough to get there. Just fly or drive to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and head east for thirteen miles on the Hershey Highway.

*N. B. - The above post is mostly bullshit, but the bit about Milton Hershey creating a school for orphans is no joke. The Milton Hershey School is funded with 30% of the Company’s annual profits and thus has a sizeable trust fund with which to educate its population of some ~2,000 students. Admission is no longer restricted to orphans, but the school’s mission is to serve lower-income families: It is cost-free. As the School puts it, “We believe all children deserve the very best education regardless of their financial circumstances. A family’s income should not determine a child’s outcome.” Amen to that.


Chef “Not Ready for Food Network.”

The Chef was sweating bullets.

It was his debut appearance on “Chopped.” He had barely squeaked through the appetizer round and was now in the midst of preparing an entrée that had to include lima beans, prune juice, capuchin meat, and duck schmaltz. The meat, he knew, would make a good fritter, but how could he make it memorable? Only seven minutes remained...

Aha! Inspiration!

He dashed to the pantry for one critical ingredient, then set to work.

Later, the judges would credit his victory to his bold choice of breading for the capuchin fritters: He had pankoed the monkey.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


This is yanked from the pages of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, where it was first published. For some inexplicable reason, you won’t find it there any more, given that it was taken down sometime after its original posting in or around early April, 2004. (I figure it’s OK to republish it here, since I’m the guy who wrote it.)

Thanks to my old friend Karen Wise, who rescued it from oblivion.

Elvish or Yiddish?

1. A Elbereth Gilthoniel
2. Lorelindorenan
3. Geyin D'rerd Dort'n
4. Mellon
5. Parma Eldalamberon
6. Quenya
7. Keyneyin Hara
8. Malach Hamavis
9. Glorfindel
10. Osmon Hatgelt Furtmon
11. Arwen Undomiel
12. Chaim Schmiel
13. Elavil

Elvish: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11
Yiddish: 3, 7, 8, 10, 12
Mood-Altering Prescription Medication: 13