Thursday, March 31, 2011


And THAT'S no April Foolin'......

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Off Thinking Great Thoughts

Penwasser Place is closed until April 1st.

May we suggest you visit the fine blogs we follow?  Not only do they make us laugh, they help save the whales.
OK, they'll make you laugh.

See you in a week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Interrupt Our Program

  Dear followers (or people who've inadvertently stumbled on this blog looking for porn.),
  This will be my last post (I hope at least a couple of you-and my mom-are numb with dread that I'm disappearing) until April 1st (really, April Fools Day).  Penwasser Place is going to shut down for a week to prepare for the A-Z Blogging Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird, he of the Tossing It Out blog.
  The reason I'm taking a week "off" is so that I may prepare for what will be an arduous effort as I endeavor to submit a new post each day from April 1st until the 26th.  Each post will center around a letter from the alphabet (sorry, English only.  I have no clue about Cyrillic, Mandarin, Hindi, Farsi, Hebrew, Martian, Esperanto, Heiroglyphics, Polynesian, Alpha-Bits, or New Jersey).  26 letters, 26 days.  Pretty clever, huh?  And the nuns never thought I'd remember all the letters of the alphabet.
  For the next week, I'm going to start writing posts in preparation for almost a month worth of mindless rambling.  To help keep me on track, I'm going to take advantage of Blogger's delayed posting feature.  This way, I can write and post something for a future date.  Obviously, I won't be able to write 26 posts in one week (I'm just one little man!), but it will certainly help get me going (sort of like a blogging laxative).  Hopefully, I won't post something about somebody on April 15th who dies on April 14th.
  The A-Z challenge allows me to post just about anything.  Essays, stories, poems, random thoughts, menus for beef jerky, everything is fair game.  Of course, what this means is that I won't be able to break some of my posts up (like I am wont to do) to help you slog through them (and give me three days worth of posts for only one topic), unless I can cleverly come up with the next letter in the series being part of part II of the post.  Confused?  I'm sure you are.  I know I am.
  So, look for the grand reopening of Penwasser Place on April 1st.
  I'm looking forward to seeing you back.
  (Of course, I'll still be looking at your blogs-so keep a light on for me, ok?)
best fishes,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Today's AARP Moment (Brought to you by Metamucil!!)

  I was watching a "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" special on PBS this weekend (yes, I said "PBS."  Don't judge me.)
  Anyway, my daughter, Valerie, strolled into the room and started watching with me.  She couldn't understand why I was laughing.  OK, I admit, the humor is a little stupid, but I suppose I like it because it reminded me of my childhood (of course, my childhood included my father-you've already met him-so I guess the blessing was kind of a mixed bag).
  In an effort to get her interested in the show, I tried....
Me:  "Hey, look!  That's Goldie Hawn!"
She:  "Who?'
Me:  "Goldie Hawn.  You know.  The actress?  Kurt Russell's girlfriend?"
She:  "Huh?  I don't know who she is."
Me:  (exasperated, sighing).  Goldie Hawn?  C'mon!  Okay, Kate Hudson's mother!"
She:  "Ohhhh, yeah, okay, now I know.  She looks just like Kate Hudson."
Me:  "See?  I told you."
She:  "This is still stupid. I'm going out for a walk."

I got so depressed that I turned off the show and went upstairs to listen to some Beatles music.
On my iPod.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tough Job

Must be a real bitch trying to collect them, is all I'm saying.

At least they're not "Alligator Balls."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hecho En Vietnam

  NOTE: The following has very little to do with Vietnam.  In fact, I know very little about Vietnam, apart from where it is and that a fat Marlon Brando once waddled around its jungles muttering, “The horror, the horror.”  I did coach a soccer team with a man from Vietnam once, though.  He was a real nice guy who had some mad soccer skills, even though I had a lot of trouble understanding him (although, to be fair, if I tried to order lunch in Ho Chi Minh City, I’d probably get a rectal exam.  Unless that’s part of their culture.  Who am I to judge?).  Anyway...

  As you’ve no doubt surmised (snooty word for “figgered out”), I often look at things in a, shall we say, wiseguy kind of way.
If I see something which strikes me as funny, I’m going to point it out or even correct what I think was a slip of the tongue, grammatically speaking (medically speaking is a whole ‘nother ball of wax).
  That being the case, though, I have cut down on calling out the verbal and spelling gaffes of others, even though I thought I was being cute by doing so.  I came to the conclusion that I was being somewhat of a douche.
  However, I’m still looking.  So, if you throw me a softball that I just can’t help put over the fence in a double-entendre manner (metaphors were “Two For a Dollar” at Wal-Mart yesterday), I probably won’t be able to help myself.  It’s a sickness.
  Two examples of things I found funny were the presence of urea in my heel balm (good news! I won’t get into that topic again. I don’t want the ASPCA to come knocking at my door for beating a dead horse) and that sign which proclaimed surprise when the sun blew up.
NOTE: NOT the author
  So it was this morning with my underwear (no, NOT by what was in it.  Although...).  As I was getting ready to start the day, I read the care label on my skivvies (boxer briefs, in case you’re curious).
  I saw that they were “Hecho En Vietnam.” (Al’s Language Tip: This means, “Made in Vietnam” for those who took “History of Flan” in high school instead of language or who are too cheap to buy Rosetta Stone lessons).
  This was all well and good.  But, is underwear-making such a complicated science that it needs to be shipped overseas?  Or is it so damn simple that the Vietnamese can handle it?  It’s obviously a money thing, but, for cryin’ out loud, it’s only a cloth pouch for the boys, not sex robots.
  As I looked at it further (not 'it' you dirty-minded pervs. I was still busy, if you know what I mean), I saw that, under the English writing, were washing and care instructions in Spanish.
  Why not Vietnamese?  Or do the Vietnamese not wear underwear?  Or, as I suspect, are the Vietnamese so smart they don’t need to be told how to wash their frikkin’ drawers?  I don’t know, maybe a combination of the two.  It is refreshing to sometimes “be free,” after all.
  Finally, I noticed the following (in English and Spanish):  “Cool iron if needed.”
  Excuse me, who the hell irons their underwear!!??
  I didn’t even press my tightey-whiteys in Navy boot camp. 
  On further deliberation, I guess maybe you’d want starchy drawers if you were visiting Michael Jackson’s gravesite (oooh, sorry.  Too soon?) or the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (oooh, sorry.  That was like my first wife’s cooking: tasteless).
  So, maybe I oughta plug my iron in because there’s no sense in  having wrinkles in my “gotchies.”
  But, first, I think I’ll give that guy from the soccer team a call.  Maybe he can give me some advice. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It Has a Brochure

In our final installment detailing the Penwasser family's Vacation from Hell, the kids have just been denied the chance to wash off chicken butt grease and crumbs in the motel's petri dish of a pool.  Apparently, father Mal didn't want his kids cavorting with randy truckers.  Some parents....

    Bitterly disappointed that we wouldn't be allowed to swim in algae, we backed away from the door.  We consoled ourselves that we at least had television.  Which, unlike the black and white set  at home, would let us actually watch Disney’s Wonderful World of Color IN color.
    Using Gary as a remote control, we settled in to watch the latest Disney flick starring Angela Lansbury.  Engrossed in the antics of flying bedknobs and broomsticks, we were oblivious to the stack of brochures stacked in front of our parents.
    During my favorite public service announcement-I LOVE that crying Indian!-we asked when we could go swimming the next day.  Imagine our disappointment when told there’d be no pool in the morning.  What kind of crummy vacation did you take us on, we whined.
    As strident as our protests were, they were immediately squelched by what is commonly known as an empty parental threat.  Provided to new parents in delivery rooms throughout the nation, these vacuous warnings ran the gamut from “Don’t make me come back there!” to the equally ineffective “I’ll stop this car right now!”  Or, as my father now scolded, “If you don’t like it, we’ll just go home.”
    Never realizing our father had as much intention of going home as tongue-kissing the motel clerk, we piped down.  There was no way we wanted to endanger our vacation.  Besides, we held out a slim hope that maybe there was a good reason why we wouldn’t be able to swim tomorrow.
    Waving one of the brochures like a flag, our mother announced that we’d be going to an amusement park in the morning.  That was why, she explained, there’d be no pool.
    Our despair instantly vanished as we realized that we’d be going to one of the few places that was actually better than a pool in a motel parking lot.  Oh, sweet joy-an amusement park! 
Nope. Didn't go here.
    Rides!  Conspiring which one we’d go on first, our heads swirled with the possibilities.  Roller coasters, bumper cars, spook houses, and all manner of conveyances to flip our stomachs on end awaited us.  To say nothing of the massive amounts of hideously UNhealthy junk food which beckoned like a siren of malnutrition.
    Television permanently forgotten, we chose up sides for which of the two beds (we didn’t count the rickety rollaway-that was reserved for Gary) we’d have for the night.  The way we figured it, the sooner we got to sleep, the sooner we’d wake up and get to ride the rides.
    Is there anything besides Christmas Eve that positively guarantees sleepless nights for children than the promise of an amusement park in the morning?  A form of child abuse, you may as well give your kids “No-Doze” IV drips than promise them a chance to run like mental cases through one of the happiest places on Earth.
    The names of these meccas of family fun were remarkably similar.  They were invariably called “Land of Make-Believe,”  “Funtown,” “Funtown USA” (“Funtown Hanoi” never caught on), “The Enchanted Forest,” “The Enchanted Trailer Park” (never very popular, it was wiped out by a tornado), “Never-Never Land,” “OK, Almost Never Land,” “Story Town,” “Story Ville,” “Story Land,” or the aptly named “Playland.”
    For our vacation hysterics, though, our parents chose Deutsch Wunderville.  Modeled after those legendary party animals, the Amish, Deutsch Wunderville promised to thrill us with a dizzying array of attractions.
    Or so we thought.
    As we entered the park following a sleepless night, livened only by a rip-snorting farting contest (much to the disgust of Kathy), we happily piled into the Ford for the short trip to the happiest place in Lancaster County.  Used to the “Funtowns” we’d been to in the past, we were confident this one would be no different.  We were sure that some madly spinning ride would have us throwing up breakfast by lunch.
    Imagine our bewilderment, then, when the very first park employee we encountered was some weird dude all dressed in black who identified himself as “Ezekiel.”  Adopting a grimly serious expression, he cautioned against “eating too much shoo-fly pie lest ye take ill on our most popular attraction:  Brother Hezekiah’s Wild Buggy Ride.”
    OK, we reasoned, so “Ezekiel” was just some freak out to scare tourists.  Surely there must be more to this place than funnel cake booths and somber employees with beards (and those were the women).  After all, it had its very own brochure.  
    As we further explored Deutsch Wunderville, though, our worst fears were realized.  Instead of a wooden roller coaster sure to cause whiplash, the most fearsome ride was the Flying Butter Churns (which never left the ground).  Rather than a Spook House, it had Sister Rebecca’s House of 1,000 Quilts
Yep. I'm the fat one. I got better.
.    Shoot, even the merry-go-round had just cows and, instead of a brass ring, riders were encouraged to grasp a wooden pretzel as they flew past at a death defying one mile an hour.
    Looking in vain for at least a freak show, all we managed to find was a papier maché diorama of an armless farmer milking a cow with his feet.  
    Ignoring our whiny protests and a barely audible complaint of “This place sucks” from Phil, my parents put on happy faces, insisting that Deutsch Wunderville was a perfect vacation spot.  Why, look at all the happy people strolling around the park, they gushed.  Surely, they were having a good time.
    Frankly, I think the shoo-fly pie was drugged.
    This charade went on until lunchtime.  Finally, after reluctantly giving up our search for a truly thrilling ride, we decided to head to the Plain and Fancy Festhaus and Cowpie Pavilion.  At least we could probably get something good to eat there.
    Ten minutes later, we were jammed into our station wagon, speeding out of Deutsch Wunderville’s parking lot.
    Apparently, Dad didn’t like the fact you couldn’t get a beer in the “whole friggin” place.”  With a desperate optimism fueled by an alcohol “low light,” he hoped to find one at our next stop: the guided tour of the Northeastern Brick Factory in Conewago.
    As we writhed in agony over the prospect of watching some mouth-breather in bib overalls convert mud, straw, and dirty water into barely discernible lumps of building material, my mother turned around and cheerfully reassured us.
    “Hey, how bad could it be?  It has a brochure.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blog of War

Yes, I know. BlackLOG isn't an American. Sheesh.
Hi, all,
  Al Penwasser here.  How many of you have suffered the indignity of never getting your point across?  How many times have you felt the pangs of unrequited blogging (NOTE: I really have no idea what the hell that means)? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop (Answer: 3. Love that Mr. Owl!).
  Well, your chance is here to make good on everything but that Tootsie Roll thing (you’re on your own with that one).  Our good friend, BlackLOG, who writes a smashing (English term for “bitchin’) blog will be sponsoring a “Blog of War” competition starting in April.  The following details what you need to do to enter this contest and come in 3rd place to me and BlackLOG compete with other top-notch bloggers.
  The best: IT DON’T COST NOTHIN’!
  So, have a look and, if interested, send off an email to Niel. Then magic fairies (i.e., poofs) will whisk your desires all the way under the ocean identifying you a Blogger of War. Or Blog Warrior. Whatever.
 Best fishes,

Blog of War hosted by BlackLOG at
It will be blog on blog action – with competitors going head to head against each other in a knock out competition.

The ultimate prize will be bragging rights as the inaugural Blog of War Champion – along the way you will discover other great bloggers, have a bit of fun and hopefully attract, or possibly repel, some new readers….

If interested send your Blog address and a contact email to with a subject title “Blog of War – I’m interested in giving it a tug….”

Closing date for entries is 2nd April.

Thunderstorms, Chicken Butts, and Pea Green Water

When last we saw our family, they were headed for the Vacationland Shangri-La of Amish Country, where the Penwassers hoped to party like rock stars.  If rock stars dressed in black and drove horse-drawn buggies to barn-raisings....

    “So, where are we staying tonight?” my mother asked.
    I leaned forward in my seat.  Like my mother, I was also wondering where the Penwasser circus wagon would stop for the evening.  We’d already been on the road for six hours and, between the fumes coming like underwear on fire from our parents’ cigarettes and the aftermath of Gary’s habitual motion sickness, it was time to escape.
    What’s more, we’d lost a lot of time in a horrendous traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge.  The two hours it took to crawl two miles took its toll on both Gary’s tenuous intestinal stability and my father’s regard for his fellow man.  Finally, after a nonstop litany of backseat complaints and a rather creative display of hand signals from Dad, we emerged on the other side to behold the source of the snarl:  some poor schmuck with a flat tire.
    This, of course, prompted the following from my father:  “Way to go, friggin’ jackass!”
    Why he never entered the priesthood remains a mystery.
    My mother opened her mouth to lay into “Saint Malcolm-Friend of Man.”  But, before her standard marital blistering, we were startled by a low rumble.
    Relieved to be spared the wrath of Mom, Dad looked over his shoulder and hopefully asked, “Gary?  Was that you?”
    Suddenly, Kathy piped in, “Hey, lookit the size of those clouds!”
    An hour later, after a stop at a Newark Montgomery Ward’s to buy a tarp, we were back on the Jersey Turnpike. 
    My mother, affecting her very best “I told you so” expression, glared frostily at my father, who kept his eyes fixed on the road ahead.  Gary and Phil were asleep while Kathy and I engaged in a marathon “staring game.”
    Except for the incessant flapping of the plastic hastily thrown over the top of the sponges formerly known as our luggage, the car was as silent as a chess match during the Mute Olympics.
    As I lost yet another game to my sister (no fair-she crossed her eyes!), I realized my father still hadn’t answered my mother’s question.
    Where would we stay tonight?    
    One thing I knew for sure.  There’d be no fancy hotel for this crowd.  Ever the thrifty manager of our finances (ok, cheap), my father saw no sense in whooping it up at posh resorts like the Holiday Inn.  Why waste money when swanky joints named the Thunderbird Motel were available?
    To be honest, we kids really didn’t care as long as it had a pool.  Half the lights on the motel sign may be missing, cigarette burns may scar the back of the toilet, and the rooms may smell like the bottom of the hamper, but if we could swim, we’d be ecstatic.
    As my father finally pulled off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I spotted a row of pastel-colored motels.  Differing in color only, they were identical in shape, rusty playground equipment, and faded roadside placards which proudly stated they had “Color TV and Air Conditioning!” 
    They also each had small kidney-shaped swimming pools, much to the delight of my now fully awake siblings.
    My father pointed at the first one at the bottom of the exit ramp.  “The Flying Dutchman Motel!” he crowed, mentally patting himself on the back.  “Perfect!”
    No sooner had he secured a room-reminding the unshaven clerk he “didn’t need the friggin’ hourly rate, chief, thank you”-than we raced gleefully to the pool.  Heedless of our surroundings, our paroxysms of joy sent those unfortunate enough to be registered guests scurrying for safety behind locked doors.
    Performing insane stunts which would get us kicked out of any respectable community pool, we capered about like hyperactive sea lions for hours.  Whether it was a rousing game of keep-away with Gary’s shorts or seeing who could deliver the most devastating cannonball just inches from the elderly, we frolicked in water tinged just the slightest shade of green.
    As darkness approached, we were called in to eat. 
    Supper on the road usually involved something from either a) the Hamburger Group or b) the Chicken Group.  In reality, what we actually ate was determined by which was closest:  McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
    If left to us, we’d have been content sharing two packages of Chuckles, a bag of Fritos, and a warm 7-Up from the vending machine.  Then, for dessert, we’d have settled for anything from that creepy Good Humor guy who circled the motel parking lot like a frozen custard buzzard.  
    However, wiser heads in the forms of our parents prevailed.  Instead of unhealthy snacks, we tore into a bucket of the colonel’s very finest drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and other indeterminate parts.  Of course, the irony of eating “healthy” fried food in lieu of “junk” vending goodies was lost on all of us. 
    As Kathy poked at unidentified globs of chicken fat, she stuck her nose in the air and haughtily sniffed, “I’m not eating anything I can’t identify.”
    “Those are chicken butts,” I kindly helped.
    “Dad,” Phil squealed, “Al said ‘butts’.”
    “Christ, Al,” my father groused from behind a local newspaper, “stop your damn swearing!”
    Leaving behind a pile of discarded bones and covered in equal amounts of chicken grease and crumbs, we dashed to the front door.  Intent on jumping back into the pool, we were intercepted by our father who thought we’d “had enough for one day.”  
    He didn’t want us to go swimming again so soon after eating.  Or mingle with the truckers who planned on using the pool as their personal bathtub before heading out to the Girls, Girls, Girls Christian Reading Room.

To be concluded in "It Has a Brochure."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kids SAY the Darndest Things

This weekend, as I entered a Mens' Room at Kohl's, a little boy brushed past me to meet his mother outside (outside the door. Not "outside" outside).

She asked him if he has washed his hands.

In a voice loud enough to be heard from the closed door, I heard, "But, I didn't touch it!"

I wonder if the guy in the stall thought it was strange to hear someone giggling at the urinal?

Hmm...Urine Al....sounds like the aftereffect of putting that balm on my feet?

Kids Write the Darndest Things

Well, I would certainly hope so.

Today's Vocabulary

Woodcock:  1. (n) The reason why Pinocchio, who doesn't like getting splinters, bought a pair of gloves.
2. (n) The reason why Pinocchio, deathly afraid of friction-induced fire, refused to date the girl puppet Geppetto made.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Once Upon a Time On Vacation

    The Ford was packed.
    Displaying the skill of an aircraft loadmaster and sensitivity of a drill sergeant, my father found a use for every bit of space in our car.  From suitcases tied to the luggage rack with my mother’s clothesline to beach chairs jammed next to the petrified french fries under our seats, he’d packed enough crap to go to the moon and back.
    If NASA used wood-paneled Country Squire LTD station wagons for their Apollo program, that is.   
    He’d also stashed a couple of empty juice bottles behind the back seat-no sense stopping for unnecessary rest breaks.
    “The good folks at Tropicana got you coming and going,” he proclaimed.  
    Alighting from the bumper after securing the final suitcase, he proudly evaluated his work.  When asked by my mother what he planned to do if it rained, he scoffed.
    “Don’t worry about it.  Weather’s gonna be friggin’ beautiful all week.”    
    Hearing my father’s impatient call, I hastily dumped a paper bag full of garbage in the trash can stashed behind our scraggly pine hedges.  As I smelled the sickly-sweet tang of rotting food, I wondered if I should’ve put the cans out on the curb last night.  The angry cloud of flies hovering over the open containers convinced me maybe I should have.
    Oh, well, I thought as I replaced the dented lid, too late now.  ‘Bon appetít’, fellas.
    Hearing the chatter of my family gathered in the driveway, I hurried past the charred frame of the Spinellis’ tent.  Too upset to take the wreckage down, Mr. and Mrs. Spinelli left before dawn on their planned trip to Maine.  I think he preferred to scurry out of town under cover of darkness rather than see us.
    Can’t say as I blamed him.  I just hoped he and his wife would be able to find a hotel.
    Emerging from around the corner of the house, I beheld my father imperiously holding a clipboard.
    My mother was clearly irritated.  “What do you have THAT for?”
    “I just want to make sure we have everything.  And, I also want to-hey, Phil!”
    My brother, his hand on the door, froze.
    “Al goes in first.”  He consulted his notes.  “Then, Kathy, then you.  Gary goes in the back.”
    “You’ve assigned us seats!?” my mother snapped.
    “The best way to fit in with the stuff we brought.”
    With an exasperated gasp, she motioned for us to pile in.
    “Hey, Dad,” Phil called as he wedged himself between Kathy and the passenger door, “what about Duke?”
    Checking the outside of the car once more for any loose items, he answered, “She’ll be fine.  I left her plenty of food and water.”
    “But, who will take her out?”
    He waved his hand dismissively.  “I left a lot of paper in the cellar, too.  Don’t worry about it.”
    Although convinced we’d find a skeleton attached to a choke chain upon our return, Phil decided father knew best and clammed up.
    His passengers properly loaded, my father settled in behind the steering wheel.  He adjusted the rearview mirror and shoved the seat belt behind him.  Checking for traffic, he roared out of our driveway.  Oblivious to the milk truck he cut off, he gunned the car down the street toward the interstate.
    “See?” he bragged, “My system is foolproof.”
    My mother relaxed in her seat.  “I have to admit,” she said, “there is more room in here than I thought.”
    She turned around.  “What do you think, kids?”
    Minutes later, we returned to pick up Gary.

Add caption
    The vacation is a sacred summer tradition.  Shortly following the last day of school, families throughout the nation cram everything they own into their cars and sally forth onto the highways.  Whether at water parks, amusement parks, or national parks, the quest for relaxation forges a bond with others in ways that only significant personal discomfort can bring.
    My family was never big on the whole camping thing.  Trading the comforts of an air-conditioned house for a week of sleeping on the ground didn’t sit right with us.  Well, that and having to tie our food up in a tree so “the bears couldn’t get at it.”
What? Too soon?
    We didn’t fit the mold of a pioneer family.  In fact, if called upon to cook anything more exotic than frozen pizzas over an open fire, it’d be the Donner family all over again.  And, speaking of fire, if it was left to us, mankind would still be scratching for grubs in the dark.  Rub two sticks together?  Without using gasoline?  Big Mal Penwasser wouldn’t hear of it.
    During the weeks leading up to our trip, our parents trotted out an endless parade of tourist guides and brochures for our review.  The colorful little pamphlets enticed us with a dazzling array of family entertainment for mere pennies.  From all-you-can-eat pancake houses to the world’s largest decoy factory, we were promised an unforgettable respite from the ennui of our daily lives.
    Half-asleep in front of our cereal bowls each morning, we’d comb through them with drowsy eyes.  Of course, we immediately dismissed anything remotely educational (meaning the ads for Gettysburg and the Smithsonian were immediately trashed).  National parks and-are you kidding me?-museums were likewise dispatched.
    Not seeing what I wanted, I asked my mother, “Hey, how about Disney World?  It just opened in Florida last year.  Why can’t we go there?”
    She shook her head and scooped up the pamphlets.  “No, I don’t think so.  Florida’s pretty far away and, besides, you know your father doesn’t like going to new places until they work all the bugs out.”
    “What bugs?”
    “You know.  Bugs.”
    Gary, a cascade of Cheerios falling down his chin, happily chirped in, “Florida’s gotta lotta bugs.”
    I frowned in his direction.
    Tiring of our indecision, our father abruptly declared voting over, dispelling our illusion of choice.  The self-proclaimed arbiter of family fun, he announced we’d be going to Pennsylvania’s Dutch country for buggies, barns, and buttermilk.
    Furthermore, since it was so close to Philadelphia, maybe we’d go see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  Even though, he said with a loopy grin, the bell was “not all it’s cracked up to be.”
    Oh, great, not only museums, but lame jokes.  This trip should be a blast.

To be continued.....

Next:  Traffic, rain, and swimming in a motel petri dish.....

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Voodoo Doo Doo

Reminder: still no zombies...

  I’m also toying with the idea of writing a world history from the Age of the Caveman until the Era of Sheen (which is probably the same thing).
  Speaking of Charlie....

  Whenever I’m at a loss for something to write about, I can always count on Lindsay, Mel, and Charlie for a couple of cheap laughs.  Now be honest.  When you saw their pictures, you at least smiled a little, right?
  Oh, hell.  While we're at it, how' bout a little Cher and Elton? 

  Anyway, this “history special” will be a service to homeschoolers and the homeless alike.  I hope it will be a valuable resource for those who wish to bone (NOTE: rare example of a clean use of the verb ‘bone’) up on the intricacies of who we are, where we came from, and the voodoo that we do.
  One caveat, though.  I won’t be using any reference material and will rely solely on what I can remember.  So, since I last went to school when the president was falling down the stairs of Air Force One, I may have forgotten a thing or two.  It’s at that point I will make things up (i.e., the first french fries were made in Greece.  It's a bad joke.  Say it out loud.  You'll know what I mean).
  If your life depends on it, you may want to get your facts from a reputable source.  Like Wikapedia.  Or Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.
NOTE: Recycled picture
    Whenever I get a little tied down with down (hey, what goes on behind closed doors...), I’ll pop off a “Today’s Vocabulary” or my take on an old joke (“Dirty Penguin” being the most recent example). 
  The way I look at it, this does two things:  a) gives you a quick chuckle during your busy day and b) gives me a way to shill cheap laughs without a whole bunch of work.
  You’re welcome.
  Or, I’ll come at you with something completely randomLike where in the hell is my invitation to Prince William’s wedding?  I’ve already bought my powder-blue tux and tails.
  There’s a few areas I plan on addressing:  tightey-whiteys, 8 track players, mobile home swimming pools, hemorrhoid surgery, automobile pooping, and others bits of TMI.  I promise I will get to them.  I'm only one (admittedly little) man!
  I'll break excruciatingly long posts (like this one) into two or three parts.  I realize how busy you all are, so I don’t want to force feed you something that will take more than a couple minutes to scan (once again, like this one).  If nothing else, I can stretch out one topic to cover a couple of days (finally, just like this one).
  Sometimes I may even omit something like vowels jst t spd thngs lng. Hll, wh nds vwls, nywy?  (ok, grammar police, I know ‘y’ can be a vowel.  But, it can also be a consonant.  Sue me.).
  A lot of things and a lot of people make me laugh.  And not just the thought of Michael Moore at Jenny Craig.  This includes most of you.  You inspire me to plagiarize be all that I can be whenever I take pen to paper (or two fingers to keyboard).
  I’d rather not list who it is on Blogger who makes me cackle in the middle of the night, thus scaring both wife and dog.  Even though I have the best of intentions, I’m sure I’d forget one of you.  Then, you get all hacked off at me and fire off some snippy comments.  Comments sure to make me cry and forget to put on pee cream before bed (see? I told you the concept of pissy feet had legs-pun intended).
  Suffice to say that, if I follow your blog, you make me smile.  And, if I regularly comment on your blog, you often make me laugh out loud.  If I send you requests for money, I’m a Nigerian prince.
  To sum up (finally!)....You have a variety of blogs from which to choose.  I thank you for making “Penwasser Place” your choice of blogs.

  Next: A “Once Upon a Time” story...   

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How I Do the Voodoo That I Do

  NOTE:  For those who came here expecting an exposé on Haitian witchcraft or the use of headless chickens to create an army of zombies, this is not for you.  I’ve merely chosen this title as a cutesy way of describing the thought processes (yeah, how ‘bout that-“thought?”  Go figure.) which affect my writing.
  Still, just to hedge my bets, I’m going to smear some goat’s blood on my front porch.  Can’t be too careful with zombies, you know.

  Many people...okay, a few...all right, mom...have asked where I come up with my ideas.  Convinced I have a rolodex of possible topics (actually the rolodex just contains my enemies list), they’re shocked when I tell them that I usually just blather on about what’s happening around me.
  Or, as I like to say, “How do you know I’m not coming up with a topic now?”
  Actually, my writing falls into several types of categories.
  First, I usually generate a blog from the most innocuous of everyday events.  The breathtaking beauty of a frosty winter morn, the awesome power of a thunderstorm’s rage, the debilitating paralysis of a fart in the frozen foods aisle...all have inspired me to one degree or the other. 
  Take, for example, the time I used heel balm to soothe my cracked heels.  (NOTE:  For those already familiar with my “Toe Woes,” feel free to take a break.  You’ve earned it.)   
  After I purchased a tube (packed in a brown paper bag for my privacy) off some guy from the back of a van, I noticed that one of its ingredients was something called “urea,” a technical term for mammal urine.  Rather than being horrified like a normal person, I was actually tickled at the thought of smearing monkey piss cream on my feet.
  Not only did it give me enough material upon which to wax lyrical (as opposed to wax “car”), it provided me enough mileage to carry on to this day.  Meaning that, whenever I get stumped about what to write, I can always fall back on the old reliable “pee feet” angle.  What’s more, as I appear to be suffering from a relapse of foot leprosy, it’ll probably come up again. 
  I really don’t mind talking about my fragrant dogs.  Just be grateful I wear socks.
  Every 7-10 days, I’ll write what I like to call a “Once Upon a Time…” story.  These true tales, glimpses of what it was like growing up in New England, are what I hope are humorous vignettes (snooty French term for “peekaboos”) of life during the 1970s.  And probably abundant source material for my therapist. 
  Of course, in the interest of not offending anyone or, more importantly, being sued, I’ve changed the names of all the characters.  Except for the neighborhood bullies.  Screw ‘em.  They can’t find me.  I hope.
  I also recently posted a travelogue about Belize.  It was great fun writing about a country about which few people are familiar.  Especially since I can then make a lot of stuff up open up a whole new world to people.
What? You were expecting women? Perv.
  After all, the world is much more than naked breasts in National Geographic.  As cool as those were.   
  It was such fun telling the story that I’ll probably give you a few more articles about countries I’ve visited.  In fact, I already have one written about Iceland which I’ll send along in the near future.  It was a pretty cool place (no pun intended). Even though their idea of fun is beating each other over the head with frozen fish, I enjoyed my experiences there.  Although they can keep their “Festival of Rotten Shark Heads.”

Next:  More Self-Important Yakking.  And...a new car!!!
Well, not really.  Who do you think I am?  Oprah? 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dirty Penguin

******The following joke is not mine.  In fact, I don’t remember when or where I first heard it.  Still, I think it’s pretty funny in a sophomoric, “giggle at farts” kind of way.  But, if it’s not funny, well at least it’s not one of mine.****** 

    While driving home from Long John Silvers one day, a penguin noticed a troubling noise coming from his car (OK, OK, I know.  Flightless waterfowl can’t drive.  Lighten up.  It’s a joke.)  Realizing his flippers could never wrap themselves around a wrench (Or a steering wheel.  I get it!!), he decided to take it in to the dealer to have it looked at.
    The mechanic took a quick look and told the penguin (OK, WHY he didn't think it was odd talking to a penguin, I don't know, either.) he'd have to put it on a lift for a look.
    Pointing to a coffee shop across the street, he suggested, "It's gonna be about a half hour.  Why don't you go over there and have a coffee or something?"
    Having no choice, the penguin agreed and off he went.  As he sat down at the counter, he was disappointed to see they did not serve herring so he selected vanilla ice cream, instead (I know, there's no logical connection between fish and ice cream.  Bear with me, we’re almost done.).
    Since he had no hands (the only part of the joke which makes any sense), he was forced to stick his beak in the bowl and eat.  This, of course, made a mess of ice cream all over his face.
    Thirty minutes passed before he looked at the clock and saw that his car was done.  He paid his bill (this “bird-themed” joke is too obvious) and waddled out the door without wiping his face (I know you ladies are thinking, "He didn't wipe his face!?  Yep, he’s a male penguin!").
    He greeted his mechanic just as the car was coming down off the lift, "Well, do you know what's wrong?"
    The mechanic fixed him with a serious look and said, "Looks like you blew a seal."
    Nonplussed, the penguin replied, "Naw, it's just ice cream."

Ba Dum Bum

Next:  A Penwasser original!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


  One of the comments on my list of "Things To Do Before I Die" asked whether I was a Wal-Mart door greeter. I replied that I was not, but I did have a vest from that fine establishment where you can buy everything under the sun that's made in China.
  Plus, you haven't lived until you drift into a fart cloud while browsing through their housewares and underwear section.
  Anyway, the reason I have one is that, while I was still in the Navy, I used to wistfully opine that I would like to be a Wal-Mart door greeter when I retired.
  Well, the wife of a friend picked up on my wish and made me a vest as a sort of "jump start" to my next career.
  To date, I am not an employee of Wal-Mart.
  And, if anyone from Sam Walton's store reads this, I probably never will be.

  Which is a shame.  Because, if the movies have taught us anything it's this:
  K-Mart sucks.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Before I Die

    Lately I’ve been thinking about death.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it's because of a relapse of my recent "foot leprosy."  Or maybe it’s because Steven Tyler is a judge on American Idol.  Or I’m worried sick about Lindsey.
    Winter always does that to me.  I don’t know whether it’s because of trees denuded (a perfectly acceptable clean word) of leaves or the end of a football season that leaves us only with televised bowling.  Or maybe it’s because I know that the dozens of “dogsicles” in my yard will eventually need to be picked up when they thaw.  All I know is that I’m much more prone to melancholy when the snow begins to fall and the neighbor’s Christmas lights are still up (and on!) as we approach St. Patrick’s Day.
    As I gaze upon a landscape barren of life (except for the Boxer from down the street who’s trying to get busy with the neighbor dog.  Or the neighbor.  I won’t judge), I regret the passing of another year.  I pine (or any tree of your choosing) for opportunities missed and yearn for the return of warmer weather.
    With a genuine pang of sadness, I realize that many of my own life’s goals have gone unfulfilled.
    (LEGAL DISCLAIMER:  Even though it is, I won’t refer to it as a “Bucket List.” That would be a heinous infringement on an intellectual property.  Which may get me sued.  And get Jack Nicholson royally hacked off at me.).
    So it’s not.
    As an added bonus, I also identified what needs to be done immediately after I shuffle off this mortal coil to sleep the eternal sleep and dance the eternal lambaada.  More succinct than my “To Do” list, it goes something like:
1.  Cremate.
2.  Toss into Atlantic.
3.  Cash insurance policy.
4.  Throw big bash.
5.  Lather, rinse, repeat.
    Not terribly involved, I know.  It’s just that I don’t want my wife haggling with some smarmy funeral director who’ll insist my eternal slumber requires a mahogany inlaid internment vault, Surround-Sound music, satin body shroud, undercoating, rustproofing, a hypoallergenic decomposition system, and a memorial service which would make King Tut look like a homeless person.
    Pshaw.  As long as you don’t pass my cold carcass around like a party favor at San Quentin, just follow the list and get on with life.
    My personal goals, on the other hand, are more detailed. 
    To wit,
1.  Rip “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” tags from pillows.
2.  Wear my Wal-Mart vest in K-Mart.
3.  Play second base for the Yankees. 
4.  Place an “IOU” in the church collection plate.
5.  Walk around my backyard with no pants on and yell at the squirrels (oh, wait, done that).
6.  Put pennies in the “No Pennies Please” basket at the tollbooth.
7.  Tip a dancer at a strip bar.  Ask for change.
8.  Have it my way.  Order a Big Mac at Burger King.
9.  Solve one of life’s most baffling puzzles:  Is cottage cheese really cheese?
10.  Finish a game of Monopoly.
11.  Find out what in hell 2001: A Space Odyssey is all about.
12.  Go sky-diving.  In my mind.
13.  Stand naked in the mall food court and shout, “Hey!  Check out THESE Cinnabons!”
14.  Beat my son at “Madden: ‘10.”  Yeah, that’ll happen.  Got a better chance at #3.
15.  Go swimming immediately after eating.
16.  Get Pull My Finger recognized as an Olympic sport.
17.  Create new food pyramid based on Doritos, Lite Beer, Twizzlers, and Hot Pockets.
18.  Play “Strip Poker” with someone other than myself.
19.  Convince my wife that I really go to Hooters for the food.
20.  Go to Vegas.  Win big at Rock, Scissors, Paper table.
21.  Walk through the drive-thru at Wendy’s while making “Vroom, vroom” sounds.
22.  Place flaming bag of dog poop on United Nations doorstep.  Ring bell.  Run away.
23.  Charge admission in Public Restrooms.  See how many people pay.
24.  Golf like I bowl, bowl like I golf.
25.  Order head cheese and tongue at the deli without laughing.
26.  Dress as an Amish person on “Casual Fridays” at the office.
27.  Crash a bris.  With Mel Gibson.
Obligatory Charlie Sheen Mention
28.  Dance with wolves, swim with dolphins, run with bulls, dance with Bristol Palin (oh, sorry, that’s redundant).
29.  Smuggle 13 items in the “12 Items Only” line at the supermarket.
30.  Switch Folgers for real coffee.
31.  Switch Sweet N Low for cocaine at Charlie's.
32.  Throw poo at the monkeys in the zoo.
33.  Write to the Vatican Bank.  Ask if Jesus really saves.
34.  Yell “Movie!” in a crowded firehouse.
35.  Run with scissors in a hemophiliac ward.
36.  Switch Tic Tacs for Viagra at the Nursing Home. 
37.  Stay awake after sex and talk with my wi...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
38.  Figure out why I should care about Miley , Snooki, or anyone named Kardashian.
39.  Go fishing at the pet store.
    And, finally...
40.  Live a life in which, forty years hence, I won’t be remembered solely as the “brother who ripped his pants open while trying to do a split at our wedding reception.”
    Oops.  Too late.

Good New: Daylight Savings Time returns this weekend.
Bad News: Dogsicles are looking kinda mushy.