Friday, December 27, 2013

'Tis the Season For a Repost, Part II (THIS TIME WITH PICTURES!)

When I reposted a repost of my Christmas story a few days ago, for some reason it didn't post with pictures.  Since I was in Virginia at the time (had a great time, thanks for asking), I wasn't able to fix it. I'm home now and my ego is insisting you all felt cheated by the omission. So, here it is, complete with what I hope are hilarious additions.  Feel free to read the captions for each or read the entire thing all over again.  Or you can skip the whole mess altogether (why not?  It's a repost, after all).

For Part I, visit my December 20th post.  Seriously, does anyone ever check back on earlier posts? Really no biggie if you don't.  It's not like you missed vital plot elements, you know.  And if you've come to Penwasser Place expecting "vital plot elements," you should seek psychological attention.  I mean, I have a picture of me sitting on a toilet on the street.


    When last we left the Penwasser family, they were returning home from a joyous Christmas celebration at Saint Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church....


"Who the frik needs kung-fu grip?
Damn thing melted my junk off."
Once home, we joyfully returned to our toys, although now we wanted to see how creative we could get.  For instance, G.I. Joe (with “Kung Fu grip”) didn’t fare too well in the Vietcong EZ Bake Oven.  We also discovered that, if you removed the rubber suction cups, toy arrows sharpen up real nice.

    Meanwhile, Mom merrily prepared the
Some cultures adhere
to the charming "Feast of
the Seven Fishes."
Although one seems
plenty for this guy.
“Holiday Feast.”  The star of the show was, of course, the turkey, which had been mummifying in the oven the past two days.  Its aroma filled the house with flavor and its burning grease flooded the kitchen with smoke. 

    Besides the turkey, dinner featured food you’d only see one other time:  Thanksgiving.  For instance, I can’t imagine any egg nog keggers at a Fourth of July picnic.

"Vat do you mean 'I suck?'
Oh, I'm a vampire.
Good one.
But, I will have some of that blood pudding
    When presented a choice of turnips, squash, candied yams, egg nog, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce (always from the can), marzipan, sweet potato souffle with mini-marshmallows, the horrifying blood pudding, mincemeat pie, and the ubiquitous fruitcake, we usually preferred white meat, Hungry Jack mashed potatoes, and marshmallow snowmen.
"Whatever he doesn't have, I'll eat."
NOTE:  Second use of Nixon in one story.

    After which, we flung dinner rolls at Karen and the dog, Duke IV.

    Sufficiently gorged, we retired to the living room to strap Karen’s Barbie to “Revolving Color Wheel of Death” while Mom hosed down the dining room.  Dad, on the other hand, attired in his festive tee shirt and tighty-whiteys, plopped in front of the television and scratched his back with a fork.

    As afternoon dragged toward evening, our eyelids grew heavy.  Our early morning rampage had finally caught up with us and, chocolate-fueled frenzy notwithstanding, we were sliding closer to sleep.

    Through lidded eyes, I remember my father lurching toward the kitchen.  Before I lapsed into a food coma, I heard a faint, “Boy, I sure could use a turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip.”

Smeared with feces,
also a hit with the Viet Cong.
    Followed by a harsh string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill as he stepped on one of our pointed wooden arrows.

   “Hey,” Gary mumbled as he drifted off to sleep, “Santa’s back.”

    Let’s see Kwanzaa match those kind of holiday memories.
Swahili for "Something to do between Christmas and New Years."

Wow.  Well, that wasn't worth it.  Sorry.  Carry on with your post-Christmas celebrations.  I've got some chocolate Santas and marshmallow snowmen to eat.  And, I'm gonna go see if those wooden arrows I have will stick to the neighbor's cat.

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Elf On The Shelf?

How about a vintage Slouch On The Couch from 1987 instead?

Yeah.  Probably not.  
But, seriously, how 'bout those legs?

From Penwasser Place to your place, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!  

Or had a very Happy Hannukah!
And, okay, go kooky with Kwanzaa.
Hell, if none of the above apply,
enjoy that Winter Solstice!!

The Druids would have wanted it that way.

Penwasser Place will return in 2014.
Expect great things.  Or you can come back here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spring's Coming!

December 21, 2013
12:10 PM
December 21, 2013
12:11 PM

  Despite the fact that it's probably as cold as a witch's teat where you are, be of good cheer!  Not only is it five days until Kwanzaa, the Earth is starting to tilt back toward the sun.  Huzzah!  The days are beginning to grow longer!
I don't know.
I may want to check just to be sure.
    NOTE:  For those of you who received a public school education, each day will still be 24 hours long.  I'm actually speaking of hours of daylight.

    Oh sure, we still have a long way to go until warmer days arrive (to say nothing of the entire season of winter), but arrive they eventually will.   Not before the seasonal ringing in of drunks on New Years, Super Bowl, St. Patrick's Day, and Mardi Gras, but they will get here.

    NOTE:  I realize that this is the complete opposite for my friends down under.  Sorry about that, but you're living the life right now with your shorts, beach parties, heat exhaustion, and Crocodile Dundee. Sorry, he's the only Australian I could think of.  Should I have said Olivia Newton-John?
"Tell me about it, stud."

    By the time you read this, Winter has already started.  Or, to we nerds, the "Winter Solstice" which marks the break of seasons.

    Wikipedia defines Winter Solstice as the "Solstice which occurs in winter."

    Uh...thanks for all your hard work, Wiki, you're the greatest!  
"You betcha!"
Now get on that biography of Sarah Palin, why dontcha?

    As a public service announcement seeking to further your education of all things astronomical (after all, doesn't everyone come to Penwasser Place to learn?), the Winter Solstice is that time at which the suns appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon.

    Everyone clear now?

"No, seriously, that crazy Borgia chick has her top off!
Oh...yeah...and it's winter."
    I still have to wonder what kind of a crappy job you have to have to measure the sun.

Friday, December 20, 2013

'Tis the Season For a Repost

    As promised, this is that time of the year when I really can't be bothered to write anything new.  After all, there's presents to buy, carolers to snub, and parties to attend.  So, with that in mind, may I pawn off a post which I wrote many years ago and insist on reposting?  Don't sweat it, if you haven't read it before then it's new.  Except...that I just told you it was a repeat.  Crap. 

It could be worse, so quit yer whining.

    The following is a true story (as far as you know) of a Penwasser Christmas in the late sixties/early seventies.  Sometime around then.  Hey, give me a break.  It was a long time ago.

    Christmas was always a big deal at my house.

    Starting immediately after Thanksgiving, we began the run up to the most wonderful time of the year, not counting Flag Day.

    And started to feel sorry for the Jewish kids.  Still, it wasn’t like they didn’t have two weeks off from school.  Plus, they had eight days of Hanukkah, while Christmas was but one.  So, cry me a river, Chosen People. 

    As much fun as getting ready for Christmas was, December 25th was actually what we were all waiting for.

Old broad sold separately
    As the clock struck nine on Christmas Eve, our parents scooted us off to bed.  Warned to stay there all night, we were cautioned not to surprise Santa as he placed gifts under our aluminum Christmas tree with its uber-classy color wheel (“Now with primary colors!  Plus green!”).

    OK, we bought into the whole Santa thing.  Then again, we believed in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and that a nun could fly.

    We tossed and turned all evening.  To pass the time, we mortified our sister by making fart noises under our armpits.

It's beginning to sound a lot like...
    As midnight approached, we heard the sound of movement downstairs.  Instantly calling a halt to the armpit symphony, we strained to hear what was happening.

    “Santa’s here!” my brother, Gary, gasped.

    Straining my ears, I heard the muffled sound of rustling paper.  Even so, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on.  It was only when I heard a sharp bang followed by a string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill that I knew the magic of Christmas had arrived.

    Reassured, I happily closed my eyes.

    What seemed like seconds later, I was rudely awakened.  “C’mon,” Gary excitedly cried, “Santa Claus came last night!”

    He seemed genuinely surprised.  Where had
"Hey, I could come down your chimney.
How do you know I haven't?"
he been all these weeks?  Of course Santa Claus came last night!  Who’d he expect, Nixon?

    We bounded downstairs to a dazzling rainbow of presents beneath our garish tin pole.  Quickly diving into the pile, we were brought up short by a shrill, “Nobody opens anything until your father and I get there!”

    Thus admonished, we nervously perched on the edge of our avocado and gold couch.  It seemed an eternity until our parents trudged like zombies into the living room.

    Coming out of her narcoleptic daze, Mom gushed, “Wow!  What happened?  Did Santa come?”  (Amazingly, she sounded as shocked as my brother.  What was it with these people?  Did they all have brain damage?).

    Oblivious to her amazement, my father silently nodded.

    Instantly responding, we dove under the tree in a giddy paroxysm of joy.  We were a brood possessed, we were seized with the spirit, we were seagulls descending on a box of French Fries.  

Santa couldn't do better than a ukulele?
Who the hell does he think I am,
Don Frikkin' Ho??"
    After we had torn open our presents, our parents announced that it was time for church.  After all, what says Christmas more than sitting uncomfortably on wooden pews and splashing each other in the face with water from petri dishes disguised as holy water fonts?

    Despite the fact that Snooki makes more appearances at Mensa meetings than the Penwassers at Mass, we were “going, goddammit!”  So, after exchanging footie pajamas for swanky “Dad N Lad” ensembles and hideous frocks of a color not found in nature, off we sped in the family Batmobile to Saint Stanislaus.  

    Upon arrival-five minutes late-my father ushered us into the very last pew.  “That way,” he whispered, “we can beat the traffic.” 

    The service was tolerable.  There were a
"Okay, gold I get.
But, what the hell is frankincense
and myrrh?
And is anyone else creeped
out by that midget camel?"
bunch of mumbled carols, a Christmas sermon about how Baby Jesus didn’t get coal, and the obligatory offering for starving Vietnamese orphans.  “The ones who aren’t Commies,” Father Karl sternly added.  That was about it.  Oh, and Phil needed the Heimlich maneuver to get that communion wafer out of his throat. 

    Before you could say “Dominus Nabisco,” we were knocking down old Slovak ladies to get out the door. 

To be continued on Sunday (tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, after all)...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Captain Caption XXIII

"Seriously, what the hell were y'all thinking with that 'selfie' business?  How old are you?  And don't go thinking you can
blame it on me, either.
By the way, who's the dude at the head of the table?"

NOTE:  I realize that the term "Selfie" is annoying to many of you because it's not used correctly and it's...annoying.  But, there are many terms in the English language which aren't used in their strictest terms.  For instance, while it 
may be a job to the one performing it, there's absolutely no blowing involved.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Try Not To Offend Anyone, Okay?

The following is a repost from several years ago.  Well, I wrote it several years ago.  And I put it on Blogger last year and...the year before that.  I think.  I did update it a little bit (for those of you who may have read it last year, see if you can find where).

"I trip on one of these effin' dogs, I'm suing the batcrap out of somebody.
Liposuction ain't gonna pay for itself, ya know.
And where are my pants?"

Have a Holly Jolly, Politically Correct Christmas Holiday
C. Clement Moore (?)

With apologies to Major Henry Livingston, Jr.:*

Twas the Night Before December 25th

‘Twas the night before December 25th, when all through the place of residence (be it house, teepee, shopping cart, or refrigerator carton).
Not a creature was stirring, not even a sentient life form known as a rodent (which has every right to live wherever it chooses).
The government-issued condoms were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that a federal official soon would be there.

The children of the multi-diverse family unit were nestled by Family Services all snug in their beds,
while visions of non-dairy, non-sugar, non-peanut, non-caffeine, non-fat, non-transfats, non-threatening tofu plums danced “With the Stars” in their heads.
And my life partner in a hyperbaric chamber and I in my neoprene bubble
had drifted to sleep, with nary any trouble.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed (which I selfishly bought at IKEA while millions slept on grates), to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I feared that I’d spy
A Weiner, a Biden, a Napolitano “guy.”

The moon, on the Miley Cyrus breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a “little people” sleigh and eight height-challenged reindeer.

With a stature-limited seasoned-citizen driver, so lively and quick,
I knew it must be that Person of Androgynous Reknown, Nikita, Nick...
or some other such prick.
More rapid than endangered eagles, her/his coursers they came
and she/he whistled and shouted and called them by name (though not as subservients; rather as equals in the mutual exchange of commerce).

“Now Twerker! Lap Dancer!
Elton, you Prancer and Nixon!
Obama! Ted Danson!
On, Lindsay and Mel Gibson!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now, dash away, but only if you’re physically able and don’t feel threatened by it all!”

As dry leaves before the hurricane fly,
which plugs up the levees because Bush wants you to die,
so to the subsidized housing the hoofed business partners
with a sleigh full of capitalist loot stolen from me and from you!

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, I turned and I saw
Nikita/Nick and her/his attorney-at-law.

She/he was dressed in synthetic fur, from her/his head to her/his foot,
and her/his clothes were all tarnished with the tracings of soot on her/his tush,
a carcinogen and by-product of the evil exploitation of majestic trees by Bush.
A bundle of toys she/he had tossed in a sack
and I KNEW I was liable if she/he busted her/his back!

But, there was no worry, I had not a care!
Oh, crap, what did you say?
She/he had Obamacare!?

Her/his eyes--how they twinkled!  Her/his dimples, how merry!
Her/his cheeks like BOTOX balloons, her/his nose like a cherry!
It was obvious with him/her I should not be alone
this creepy, suspicious Sandusky clone.
Her/his droll little mouth was drawn up no, not in a frown
from some anonymous, “tsk-tsking” government clown.
The stump of a pipe she/he had just for effect
as she/he showed me her/his nicotine patch on her/his neck.
She/he had a broad face and a little round belly
that shook when she/he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

(NOTE: the American Medical Association strongly urges a lifestyle which eliminates the existence of “little round bellies”, as they may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, tourettes, heart attack, an “unfresh” feeling, stroke, erectile dysfunction, skin rashes, halitosis, driving heavy equipment while drowsy, and rickets.)

She/he was chubby and plump (see NOTE above), a right jolly old fairy/troll/forest nymph/dwarf/Michael Moore/multi-diverse personage of varying-yet valuable-ethnic persuasion/wood sprite/Oprah/elf,
and I laughed when I saw her/him, in spite of myself (although, to avoid being sued, I said I was laughing “with”, not “at”, her/him).
A wink of her/his eye and a twist of her/his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

She/he spoke not a word, but went straight to her/his work
and filled all the condoms, when allowed by her/his attorney-the aforementioned jerk.
The gifts, she/he explained, were crafted by midgets
Err...”little people” those over-sensitive fidgets.
To insult them, she/he knew, will just make them sour
When, after New Years, they return back to work
at McDonalds for $15.00 an hour.

And laying her/his finger on the side (not in) of her/his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney/window/teepee smoke hole she/he rose.
She/he sprang to her/his sleigh, to her/his team gave a whistle,
and they mutually agreed in committee to fly as equals away like the down of a thistle.
But, I heard her/him exclaim, ‘ere she/he drove out of sight.

“Happy Non-Sectarian Day-of-Observance-Which-Has-Nothing-To-Do-With-An-Established-Creed-Or-Dogma-of-Faith-Because-That-Would-Be-a-Heinous-Violation-of-the-Sanctity-of-the-Separation-of-Church-and-State-Because-What-About-the-Children-Dammit!? and to all a mutually-satisfying (as agreed upon in writing. In triplicate. By the ACLU.) night!”    

    *Evidently, Clement Clark Moore is the 19th century equivalent of the New York Times’ Jayson Blair**.  A classic since its 1823 appearance in the Troy Sentinel, ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’ (as it was alternately known) was claimed by Moore as his own in 1837, conveniently after Livingston had passed away.  In fact, Moore, who wasn’t known by any other poem, incorporated the work into one of his own books, Poems, in 1844!  So, the next time you’re tempted to fret and bemoan our lack of journalistic scruples, just remember Moore’s response when asked if he had, indeed, written this most-famous of Yuletide poems:  “Uh, yeah, whatever.”
    Or, so I’ve read on the Internet.  Because, after all, if it’s there, it must be true! 

**Like I said, this is a repost, so the inclusion of Jayson Blair may leave you scratching your head.  Mr. Blair was pinched several years ago for being a plagiarist.  A plagiarist, of course, is someone who tries to pawn off someone else’s work as his own without giving credit to the actual author.  You know, a lot like Joe Biden.  There, how ‘bout that?  Timely and funny.

***I’m not so sure this is very timely anymore.  But, I managed to include a “twerking” reference.  You’re welcome.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Friendliest Person I'll Never Meet

NOTE:  This could probably be the last bit of original writing I do in 2013.  So, enjoy it (?) while you can.  Something original will be posting next weekend, but I wrote it last week and put it on Delayed Post.  The guys at the Geek Squad showed me how to do that.

    I haven't done this in awhile, but in the spirit of the season (hey, it could be Kwanzaa, you don't know), I'd like to take this opportunity to not write anything new reintroduce you to a blogger who (or is that whom?) I first "met" over a year ago.

    Leslie Moon first caught my attention as writer of
"If you'll look behind me, you'll see moons.
Billions and billions and, what the frik am I saying?
I'm dead."
 Four Moons.  As first, I thought she was channeling her inner Carl Sagan and penning her very own journal of Astronomy.  Then, I wondered if she instead was describing what a few members of the football team did out of the bus windows on the way to the big game.  

    Then, I realized that 1)  Her last name is 'Moon'  2)  She is married to a man whose last name is 'Moon' and 3) She has two children whose last names are 'Moon.'  That makes four moons.

Well, shut my mouth and call me the product of public school education.

Screw you, Carl Sagan.

Three more like these and
you got the Little Rock State House.

   But, since she lives in Arkansas, I'll bet her outdoor privy has a crescent moon carved in the door.  And, if she has three more just like it, well, wouldn't that be ironic?

    Anyway, Four Moons proved to be a delightful blog written by a talented woman who obviously loved her family and her home.  But, since that home is in Arkansas, maybe she hasn't gotten out much.  But, hey, who am I to judge?  I grew up next to Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Bridgeport's a lot like Camden, New Jersey.
Without the charm.
    I enjoyed visiting her place and reading stories about normal people living normal lives.  This was refreshing for me.  Which I think would be obvious because...well, you have seen that picture up top with me on a toilet, haven't you?

    Sadly, Leslie dropped off the blogosphere and, quite frankly, I forgot about her (NOTE:  a lot like what happened to Dan
"Hmmm, not knowing how to spell 'potato'...
or Joe Biden as Vice-President.
Jump ball."

    But, a few weeks ago, she reappeared (like Robert Downey Jr.'s career).  Now writing Skip the Sugar, Leslie is still the author I enjoyed reading all those months ago when you could keep your health care plan.

    A few things have changed, of course.  Well, only one, as far as I can tell so far.  Leslie is now a stay-at-home mom who helps her husband in his business.  But, she's still a Moon and she still has kids and, I don't know why, she still lives in Arkansas.  And maybe has indoor plumbing.

    Anyway, she only has four followers (and one of them is me.  So......).  I encourage you to not skip Skip the Sugar (see what I did there?  Yeah, I've been doing this blogging thing for over four years.  I'm a wizard with words now, lack of Blog of Note notwithstanding).

    Like me, it's a short one which quite often includes pictures of her adorable (oh, wait, I don't think guys can say 'adorable.'  I meant 'precious.') kids.  So, go ahead and pay a visit to the Blog Formerly Known as Four Moons.  Tell Leslie that Al sent you so she knows who to blame.

    Or should be that be whom?  Yeah, and I'm making fun of someone!

    While you're doing that, I'm gonna look up Arkansas on Wikipedia.  Leslie may know something I don't.

Hey, it's no Camden, but...

    That's probably a certainty.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Captain Caption XXII

"Michelle, you seriously have to see this!!  You look just like Aunt
Esther from Sanford and Son!!  What a hoot!!  Michelle?  Honey?"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It May Be All My Fault

  In June, 1979, my ship, the USS America, made a port call to Alexandria, Egypt.  Even though tensions in the Middle East were starting to simmer, the powers that be (or should that be "the powers that were?")  nonetheless felt it was safe to inflict several 
It's fallen on hard times since.
It's like you're in Detroit now.
thousand sailors on one of the great capitals of antiquity.  Despite an incipient anti-Western feeling, things had yet to start rolling downhill.  Of course, the Shah of Iran was ultimately deposed and Islamic militants overran the U.S. Embassy later that year, thus souring U.S.-Iranian relations and giving Ben Affleck an idea for a movie.  Things have pretty much been in the crapper since.
"Huh.  Says here that, if I can pull off this Argo thing,
they'll let me play Batman.  Sweet."

    But, that June, it was still okay for hordes of goofy Americans dressed in blue jeans, tee shirts, and cowboy boots to crawl around the city streets looking for a good time.  Or hepatitis.

    Hoping to get away from the typical sailor entertainments, I
Egypt, not Missouri.
Try and keep up.
bought a ticket for a two-day tour to Cairo.  We would take a bus south along the Nile, stopping at several points along the way to view local culture (which primarily involved slapping laundry against rocks) and pay bribes to some Nazis left over from an Indiana Jones movie.

"Sting like a butterfly.
Float like a bee.
That dead Ali
ain't pretty like me." 

    Once in the city of Cairo, we toured the Muhammed Ali Mosque (I was disappointed it had nothing to do with boxing), visited the National Museum (which had more mummies in it than I thought possible), and, of course, walked around the pyramids.

    It was a fascinating trip and one I'm so very thankful to have made.  Especially since there's no way I'll ever go back there again.  If I wanted to hang around crazy people, I could go to an Eagles game and save the air fare. 

    However, one of the more relaxing things we did was take a
Velour shirt, corduroy pants.
In Egypt.  In June.
I clearly didn't think this through.
guided boat ride on the Nile.  From the deck of the boat, we saw the mighty Cairo skyline (and even more slapping of underwear on rocks).  Hoping to snap a picture with a real authentic Egyptian in it (besides mummies), I asked the boat boy if I could take one of him.

    In sign language and the bits of English that he knew, he told me that I could take his picture if I gave him some money.  I'm sure he would have been very happy if I gave him only a dollar.  But, being the cheap slack-ass that I was (I hope it's not "cheap slack-ass that I am"), I refused.  Shrugging his shoulders, he turned and directed his attention to the front (NOTE: The "bow."  You're welcome).

    Figuring I was going to take his picture anyway, I took one of his back.  Screw him, the greedy little money grubber, I figured.
Death to America started in Iran.  
Or did it?
    As the years have passed, I wonder if this boy ever knew that he got stiffed.  This may have grown into resentment which sparked an anti-American rage.  Now a man in his 40s, he may, in fact, have joined the Muslim Brotherhood.  Not only is he hacked off that 50 Shades of Gray has no pictures, but he burns with hate at the cheap slack-ass American who was too good to give him a buck that day long ago.

    Is it any wonder why I'll never go back?