HEARTWRENCHING—Racist grandpa gets new glasses, sees people of color as human for first time.

DAWWWWWWW! See adorable baby’s first taste of chocolate, bacon grease, and gamma rays.

POW! HILARIOUS! Daredevil show-off graduate gets PUNKED as his ass becomes stuck in dead-end job for 10 years!

BOOM! WHOOPSY-DOODLE! Bikini-clad car-washing cheerleader had no idea why the crowd was CHEERING until the judges awarded her the John Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature.

PANDA-MONIUM! Adorable panda sneezes, sparking hilariously decimating worldwide panda-emic.

I KNOW, I KNOW, JESUS CHRIST GET OFF MY BACK ALREADY, MA Adorable goat’s baas and brays sound EXACTLY like your parents criticizing your life choices.

HAVE A TISSUE READY because for some reason this video of a hippo eating a watermelon causes your laptop to spew unidentifiable fluids.

CUH-YOOOOOOOOT! See unsettling toothless baby’s first gummy ingestion of an entire 28 ounce porterhouse steak.

WHOMP! KABLOOEY! BUH-BONNNNNGGGG!!! Patriot hero cop shuts down protesting quarterback by telling him he raises valid points about institutionalized racism and, based on his own experience, agrees that many police officers operate with flagrant disregard for the law and should be dismissed and arrested.

GOOD LUCK TRYING NOT TO SMILE!!! Series of flashing lights, high-pitched bat screeches, and mind-warping scenes from the Afterlife induce a state of rigor mortis in the viewer. Death is only a beginning. Death is waiting. Share this (and DEATH) with your friends!

OH NO HE DIN’T! OH YES HE DIN! AT LEAST I THINK HE DIN. DIN’T HE? Republican OWNS liberal female senator with shattering put-down while throwing rocks at her because that’s how he shows he likes her.

OOBA-DOOBA! FLOOBITY-WOOBITY! Hummina hummina hummina p-KOW! p-KOW! p-KOW! GLUNGGGGGGGG!!!! Oh thank God, the attack is over. Hey, do you MIND? I have a medical condition. I can’t help it. Show some consideration, you insensitive shits.

THE VIDEO TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE because he didn’t get it. What? Is that loser jellyfish doing something besides just floating there? And what’s with the huge pile of shoelaces? Is this supposed to be funny? He doesn’t get it and wants his fellow Americans to forget clicking on this garbage.

SMART-ALECK TEENS THOUGHT HE WAS A HELPLESS OLD MAN!!! Gelatinous inseminoid oozes from geriatric cocoon to absorb screaming teenagers on subway car.

REAL GHOST CAUGHT ON CAMERA but refused to sign the waiver so we had to blur his face, which kind of defeats the purpose since he’s pretty amorphous already.

WAIT TILL YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT I mean, you won’t be SURPRISED, per se. The idiot juggles blasting caps while wearing a team mascot costume and gargling ghost peppers and grain alcohol at the same time. You know what? We all get a little stupider every time someone clicks this monstrosity. Just…just move on, and pray for humanity.

ZOMG BABY WON’T STOP EATING! OH GOD, THE DOOR IS LOCKED! HE’S CRAWLING THIS WAY! HELP US! (BANG BANG BANG!) HELP US! See repellently insatiable crocodilian infant’s first taste of human flesh.

Right Up Dere

Here’s a fun fact. if you want to get on my bad side very quickly, ask me to help you, and then criticize me while I’m doing it. I might very well leave you adrift among sharks if, when I try to throw you a life preserver, you make a crack about my hurling technique. I will especially despise you if you are a stranger, because you’re violating all the social contracts at once for no apparent reason than, as I see it, to argue with a stranger. Why, why, WHY would anyone ever do that?

Case in point: Yesterday I went for a lunchtime stroll along Wabash, looking for interesting skyscraper ornamentation, because I am socially inept and pathetic. As I approached Monroe St., I saw a grandmother-type and her, I assume, two granddaughters—a perfectly adorable image. I stopped at Monroe to look up and around at the surrounding cornices, when I heard behind me. “Excuse, please. Can you help me find a restaurant?”

In Chicago, you become well-accustomed to identifying accents. This woman had a thick one.

“Sure!” I said, cheerfully. “What are you looking for?”

“Magginas,” she replied.

“Sorry? Maggiano’s?” I said. I confess, I’m a wee bit hard of hearing downtown, amidst the horns and construction noise.


After reading that, you might have figured out what she was asking for. But remember, I’m a trifle deef. Also, what I heard was “MacDonough’s.” Moreover, Chicago has several Celtic-themed pubs, grills, and restaurants, and I knew of several in the Loop. Just not “MacDonough’s.”

“I don’t know that one, sorry. Why don’t I look it up on my phone,” I say, still shit-grinning.

“What?” she says in that ‘I’ve got something over you, college boy” tone I grew up with around here. “Aren’t you from here? I’m looking for McDonald’s!”

Am I from here?

The two little girls have said nothing the entire time, just looking up at the doofy guy who knows not of what Grandma speaks nor happiness meals nor hammed-burglings.

“Ah, McDonald’s,” I say in my polite maître d’ voice. “Yes, I am from here, ma’am. Lived here for 47 years, actually. I don’t know of any McDonald’s nearby, but I’ll use my phone to find you one.” Mind you, I’m starting to get a tad supercilious, but I AM STILL TRYING TO HELP HER.

She looks incredulous. How in the name of the Black Madonna of CzÄ™stochowa could I not know where a McDonald’s was? Today grandma wins points from making the yuppie, or whatever the hell stereotype she awarded me, rely on his electronic pocket imp.

“Nearby McDonald’s,” I say to Siri.

“Doesn’t know where a McDonald’s is…” she sighs, shaking her head. “Heh heh heh!” My eyes start to bug out.

Sweetheart, you don’t know where McDonald’s is, I wanted to reply.

Instead I say, “Well, I don’t eat there, ma’am, so I don’t keep tabs on where the restaurants are. Sorry I wasn’t able to immediately accommodate you. Just a second.” The girls say nothing. They look like sweet individuals. I hope they retain that sweetness before grandma rudes it out of them.

Siri reports that a McDonald’s is a block ahead. I look up and gesture southward.

“Okay… Yeah, it’s…” I start. Suddenly I’m interrupted by a male voice, old but not wise, and stumbling with the pebble-mouthed, Old Style-lubricated diction of duh city of Chicagah.

“McDonald’s!?!” says a white-haired dude of the Chicago fireplug species. “It’s RIGHT UP DERE ON THE CORNER!” I look at him, once more beholding another smug piggy-face who has won! WON! the battle against the young educated doofi who populate HIS city, eating tofu, drinking gay booze, and not knowing where da fuck Mickey D’s is.

“Yeah,” I continue, “It’s…”

“You’re looking for McDonald’s? Right up dere!” he has that “Fer gahd’s sake. Whatteryou, retarded, college boy?” expression I saw frequently while growing up and working blue collar jobs so I could go to college. And not work blue collar jobs with guys like that.

“Yep,” I say, clapping my hands together. “That is EXACTLY right. Glad we all figured that out together. Okay? Okay.” The walk sign comes on and I stride off without looking back.

Old, rude, white Chicagoans! I curse thee to an eternity of swilling from McDonald’s grease traps. It’s right up dere. On the corner. You thick-headed louts.

Mr. Dan Kelly Urban Etiquette Discussion #843765

I always wonder what the thought process is behind this. Machismo/male privilege? A lack of basic urban etiquette? An inflated sense of one’s size (the dude is big, but, at most, he “needs” two side-by-side seats)? Cultural differences (e.g., “Bah! Women are second-class humans!” or “In Gmöszk, where I am coming from, life is hard and one must prevent the wimmens, cripples, childrens, and non-Gmöszkeans from sitting down, else they grow uppitys!”)?

Personally, I ascribe it to mental deficiency. Not full-blown cognitive impairment. Just a general, dim-witted lack of perception of others, selfishness, a misplaced sense of persecution, and an allergy to acting decently because it would be “inconvenient.”

An example. I once stood up on an asses-to-elbows crowded train to give an elderly lady my seat, and a guy, about as big as this fellow and listening to his tiny electronic music box, grabbed the seat as she started to sit down. I looked at him, gobsmacked, then said: 

”Hey, buddy. I was giving the seat to this lady.”

He looked at me blankly, nodded sharply, causing his jowls to jiggle, and then said, “Oh, okay.” Nothing behind his eyes. Just marshmallow fluff.

Then he remained seated while the woman, the surrounding people, and I all stared at him. He wasn’t threatening, so I said, “Uh, hey, guy. Why not give her the seat?”

He then cleverly outwitted me by keeping his head down and ignoring us. Another gentleman two seats behind me got up and let the lady sit. I kept staring at the idiot the whole way home. He never looked up. I figured it was a combination of low intelligence, bad parenting, and, mostly, embarrassment, which always, ALWAYS fades when you continue to act like an ass. Yeah.

Mostly, these people (men) probably do it because they think most folks wouldn’t bother to confront them (not out of fear, just from a sense that it’s not worth it to mix it up with them; and then there’s the asinine/horrifying attitude that infects our country: “What if he/she has a GUN?”).

But then again… why do they do it? How does it benefit them? If you ride, say, the Blue line, from end to end, you’ll be on the train no more than 30 to 40 minutes. Unless you’re toting heavy objects, and/or you’re physically impaired, you don’t suffer much more than a minor foot cramp by scrunching into a seat.

My friend Kathy once suggested it was because they suffered from severe enlargement of the testicles. Poor souls. Let’s take up a collection.

Later Note: After reading more of the site, I’d like to add that it is hilarious to hear the “But men need to spread their legs because their junk is in the way!” Ladies, in case you were wondering, that’s a load of bollocks (chuckle, snicker). We’re not toting steel rods and bowling balls down there. They’re semi-squishable—at least enough to sit down with our knees together.

Cliff Fiscal (Not Pictured)

Yeah, I went to school with Cliff Fiscal. Weird kid. He’d turn up out of nowhere at parties he wasn’t invited to, and you could never get him to leave. He’d never bring anything, of course, but he’d constantly wonder aloud if we’d have enough food and drinks to last the night—not that he’d make a beer or food run, of course. The worst part was how he’d spend most of the party talking with the other guests, sharing his paranoia and saying things like, “Boy, I SURE hope this porch we’re on doesn’t collapse.” or “Man, if this place caught on fire, we’d ALL fucking DIE.” or “You know what that black line is up the shrimp’s back? Feces.” Some of the jocks thought it was funny to watch him creep out the guests, so they took him on as a kind of mascot. “Heyyyyy! Didn’t you invite, Fiscal? I’ll call him up! Good ol’ Cliff Fiscal!” What dicks. God, I hated that kid.

“Big Deal! It’s Not Like You Old People Vote Anyway!”

I wonder if the GOP realizes that the crop of candidates they’ve been grooming all these years—the guys and gals who truly believe Ayn Rand was on to something, and think perpetually steamrolling austerity over the middle- and lower-classes is not only a good idea but also a NEW one—are hollow-headed, starry-eyed morons; dare I say it, the right-wing equivalent of anarchist hippies? I’m pulling Rahm and his ilk into the mix as well. These folks seem to think you can rise to power by telling your underlings and constituents, “I’m the boss, see? And what I say goes, see?” without:

1. Engaging in any sort of quid pro quo.

2. Knowing that if they piss off a large enough segment of the population, those people will eventually organize and vote their ass out of office.

3. Understanding that government employees aren’t necessarily cult members. The lower ranks will fight you in small but slowly effective ways if you mess with them. Like termites nibbling away at a bridge.

4. Frankly, becoming a dangerous tyrannical lunatic. Fortunately, as yet, the system doesn’t allow for that (we mostly get dangerous dummies and calculating greedbags), but who knows what will happen when a real True Believer gets elected?).

I remember the journalistic trend back in the 90s and 00s of interviewing young conservatives. The “Isn’t he/she CUTE?” pieces that should have spent most of their ink badgering and battering the little freaks until they cried and gave up. As it stands, we’ve got a slew of nimrods and nimronnies coming up, filled with excessive self-esteem; a lack of comprehension about diplomacy and tact; an embarrassing pride in their lack of education and empathy; and the sick, sick, sick belief that leadership means screaming at people and kicking them when they’re down.

Get ready, Republicans and Democrats. We’re going to be sifting through this chaff for the next 20 or so years.

Things I Never Understood During My Tenure on LiveJournal

1. The large number of people who, whenever I posted admonishments against people who annoyed me in meatspace, thought I was speaking directly to them—against all evidence and even across state lines.

Me: Curse you, foul creature, for failing to submit those TPS reports before the 3 p.m. meeting. I damn thee!

Commenter: What? When did I do this? Why are you so mad at me?

Me: Beg pardon? You know I’m talking about work, right?

Commenter: Well, how am I supposed to know that?

2. The number of people who felt a need to fix my attitude about everything.

Me: Dammit! I hate it when people put piccalilli on my hamburger.

Commenter 1: Hey, that’s not fair, Dan. A lot of people LIKE piccalilli. Maybe you need to give it… and them… a chance.

Commenter 2: Yeah, Dan, I’m not sure what brought that on. Don’t you think you’re being a little unfair?

Me: Huh? I personally don’t like piccalilli. That’s all I’m saying.

Commenter 1: I’ve never heard of anyone who didn’t like piccallili.

Me: Sure you did. Me. Right now.

Commenter 2: No, I don’t think so.

3. Those who thought that when I offered an opinion on something they enjoyed immediately assumed I believed they were idiots.

Me: Man, fuck Kajagoogoo. Other people can like them, but I hate them. Fucking Kajagoogoo. And fuck bucatini pasta too.

Commenter: LOOK, I can LIKE Kajagoogoo and bucatini pasta if I want to, and your ARROGANT and ELITIST attitude has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Me: All right. I’m just saying I personally don’t like Kajagoogoo and bucatini pasta, because…


4. The folks who felt the need to provide ongoing reviews of my posts.

Me: To get to the other side! And that’s why that chicken crossed the road. Chortle chortle!

Commenter: This wasn’t as funny as that post you made May 5, 2003. Why don’t you write posts like that anymore?

Me: Uh, because they already done been written, boss?

Commenter: Well, if you just want to sit back on your laurels I suppose that’s a good answer. Also, you know that post where you said, “Remember when candy bars were as thick as a baby’s torso?” Well, I don’t remember that.

Me: I figured some people wouldn’t since it didn’t happen.

Commenter: Yes, but how is that post relevant to me? To my needs and memories?

Me: You know, I’d love to help you find what you’re looking for, but I’m not sure what it is or where you lost it. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.

Commenter: Also, this post is going on too long. And I know I never wrote this. In fact, there aren’t any posts that look exactly like this one, so I think none of this stuff happened.

Me: Um, sez you?

Commenter: I smugly sit back, now that I have made my point.

Me: What?

I Hate Taggers

Within a week of a trellis being set up in front of the Chicago Motor Club Building (more info here), a tagger took advantage of the cover and scrawled who-knows-what-the-hell on the facade. While not an “important” building, it’s a nifty little Art Deco gem, tucked away in an infrequently visited corner of Michigan Avenue. Outshone by its Dalek-like neighbor, the Carbide and Carbon Building, the building nonetheless has a quiet simplicity and dignity. It certainly doesn’t need “Mode Magz’s” toddler scrawlings on it.

Horrible People I Have Worked With

I worked as a freelance copywriter for a catalog house back in the early 90s. After a while they offered me a permanent gig. At least I think they did. It’s been quite a while, and I think I would have had to be ensconced there for what happened to have made sense.

Anyway, at this place the IT guy was a large fellow with a wriggly mustache, and he mostly hid in back. It was a small shop, so there wasn’t much for him to do beside keeping the computers going and periodically backing up all the data. Maybe he blew on the mainframe when it overheated, I don’t know.

One of his main activities, however, was being a fink. I’m sure he was ordered to do so by the manager, but he seemed to take delight in it. He watched not only the main server, but everyone’s hard drive, looking out for forbidden use of company time and memory. I didn’t care. I was still pretty computer illiterate back then, and the Internet consisted of six pages, so there wasn’t that much to do. I had a Mac SE at home that I mostly used to type up articles for my zines, and I was still typing letters on a word processor. Stone age, man. In short, I didn’t use my work computer for anything but work.

One day, the manager calls me into her office and tells me to close the door. Uh oh.

“Dan, can you take a look at this print-out, please?” she said.

I did. It was a screen shot of my hard drive, but since this was 1993 (I think), I didn’t know what I was looking at. An arrow pointed at a particular document titled “TEST,” and connected to the arrow was a handwritten note from Mr. I.T. Mustache.

“Meg, I found THIS on Dan’s hard drive.” I think his name was something like Skip or Chip, but I can’t recollect. Something douchetastic like that.

“Do you want to tell me what that document is, Dan?”

I had no idea what was going on at that point. I knew what it was, but I wasn’t sure why I felt so doomed. Regardless, I told her:

“Uh, I think it’s my copywriting test. The one Con had me take during the interview process,” Con was the copy editor. She had a fondness for marking corrections with purple ink rather than red, because she felt red ink had negative connotations. Consequently, purple ink started to carry negative connotations for me.

Meg just stared at me, still looking like she was about to tell me I was so, so, SO fired. Then she softened a bit and said, “All right. Well, remove it from your hard drive immediately.”

“Okay,” I said. I was massively confused.

Later on I talked with one of my coworkers, and she told me that Mr. Mustache regularly trolled our hard drives, looking for resumes and cover letters, and that’s probably what he told Meg. Even though a quick look would have revealed that my “TEST” document was neither. I gave Mustache the evil eye from that point on, even though he was one of those turds who recognized a fellow geek and wanted to chat about Clive Barker or LARP or whatever the hell he was into.

No real conclusions, but it astonished me that someone could be not only petty enough to look for ways to hurt a coworker, but clumsy enough to risk that person’s job without any real evidence of wrongdoing.

Truly, truly, he was a horrible person.

Un-smooth Operator

One of the pluses of having a wife with a traditionally male name is that when salespeople and scammers call, they always ask for Mr. Michael ________. Now, not everyone is aware that my wife is a woman, so I have to feel them out. First, I ask, “Who’s calling, please?” Most people are cool with that; it’s a very basic and polite question, and anyway you should always identify yourself when calling someone you don’t know. If they turn out to be the dentist or credit card company or whatever, I hand it off to her. If not, it usually takes a few more questions before I figure out they’re a bunco artist.

Every couple of weeks though, we get a call from a person who I’m convinced is the same guy each time. Once upon a time, we donated to a charity. Since then we get periodic calls looking for handouts. We’re not chumps, so when someone is up-front and tells us they want dough, we say no, we don’t do such things by phone, thanks, bye. This guy, however, is crafty. Or rather, he thinks he’s crafty.

I Star-69’ed him once, so I have an idea about where he lives, and when I looked up his number online I discovered, unsurprisingly, that this is his routine. Just calling folks from a list, presumably, telling them he’s with the cops, fire department, vets, or whatever. What’s obvious is that whatever list he’s using, he’s not making notes that the well has gone dry here. Result: he keeps calling every few weeks. Our longest conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello?

Him: Yeah, hello. I’d like to speak to Mr. Michael _________.

Me: Who’s calling, please?

Him: Is this Michael?

Me: Why not tell me who’s calling first?

Him: Can I speak to him?

Me: Who’s this, please?

Him: (Audible sigh. Really, he lets out a huge huff of air, because I’m inconveniencing him, I suppose.) This is Scott Smith (or some similar nondescript name). Can I speak with Michael?

Me: What’s this in regards to?

Him: (Pause) Is Ms. Michael ________ there? (Oooh, good work, Holmes. But you tipped your hand.)

Me: How about telling me who you are?

Him: I just identified myself, sir.

(I almost laughed out loud at his righteous indignation.)

Me: No, you didn’t. You haven’t told me what this is in regards to, and I don’t know who you are.

Him: I said this was Scott Smith.

(While  knew a Scott Smith in grade school, we barely spoke in those eight years, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him.)

Me: Okay, what do you want?

Him: (Frazzled) This is a call intended for Michael __________, so can I talk to Michael?

Me: Nope. Sorry.

Then I hung up.

So, he called again tonight.

Me: Hello?

Him: Hello, can I speak to Michael __________?

Me: Who’s calling, please? (I never change my script, really. Also, I rarely answer the phone. I don’t like phones.)

(Then he lets out an even bigger puff of exasperated breath. He remembers me! Awwww!)

Him: This is the Vets. (Veterans or veterinarians, he didn’t say.)

Me: Nope, sorry.

And I hung up. Didn’t feel like playing this time around. Next time he gets the long hold.

Ah! The Icy Hand of Death Is Upon My Throat! Wait, It’s Not.

Last night, in the shower, I happened to look down at my left ankle (yes, smart-ass, ignoring any magnificent organs I might have encountered along the way), and I saw a crop circle shaved into my leg hair—a round bald patch about the size of an Eisenhower dollar. “WTF?” I think, looking more closely, and though I know I’m setting myself up for a Gregory House encounter with any doctor I might speak to about my sudden deforestation (“You’re eating too much cheese. Also, you’re an idiot.”), I wonder WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN.

Then at lunch, as I’m walking to the old Marshall Fields building to buy a tie, I felt a distinct chafing sensation. A chafing brought on by the fuzzy insulation of my nifty, new, warm as toast boots. I stopped and pulled up my pant leg to discover that not only has the baldy dollar expanded, it’s also getting a little red down there. Long socks are in order.

Also, House was right. I’m an idiot. Why didn’t I notice this yesterday? I was probably distracted by the blizzard.