Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Bucket List

As I slide headlong down the greased incline leading to the grave, it occurs to me that there are still a few things I have not done yet that I would like to do.  The fashionable thing to do nowadays is to compile  these things into a list and put them in a bucket like they did in the movie "the Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In that movie, which I have not yet seen, the two protagonists, T-Bone and Prickly Pete, played respectively by Freeman and Nicholson, are facing impending death by some type of disease or two and go off to accomplish various things they always wanted to do, like sky diving and cow tipping and such.  From what I understand, hilarious consequences follow each adventure our heroes undertake, culminating in the Grim Reaper grabbing these guys by the collar and dragging them to hell. Now I don't know whether anything I've just written about the movie is true or not, but it has inspired me to compile a list of some of things I'd like to do before this Reaper character kicks down my door and chops my head off with his blade thingy.  It's not that I am expecting to go to my own funeral any time soon, but it would be nice to do a few things that I'll be able to look back on with satisfaction as my head rolls across my living room floor. 

Here, then is a partial list of things I'd like to do before I kick the whatchamacallit:

  • Get the gum out of my couch cushions
  • Find a restaurant that serves good fried chicken (haven't come close yet, despair of ever finding one)
  • Exercise
  • Get a green light at the intersection of Cove and Lake Avenues (it has to happen some time.  It has to)
  • Go a full month without having some part of my car malfunction
  • Put away every bit of the last batch of laundry before I start the next batch
  • Pay my bills on time
  • See a Cleveland sports team win a championship (yeah, right)
  • Vote for somebody who actually wins an election
  • Play a single song on any musical instrument all the way through
  • Go to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.  (it's not that far away)
  • Learn to eat with utensils
  • Paint my garage
  • Find all my missing socks
  • Memorize my cell phone number
  • Match just one number on a lottery ticket
  • Play tennis with Bigfoot (we could sit down court side afterwards and drink lemonades)
  • Ski down Mt. Rushmore
  • Run with the cows in Pamplona (less exhilarating than with bulls, but much less dangerous.  Plus, there is a milk break at the halfway point)
  • Go to the Guiness brewery in Dublin
  • Remember the lyrics to a song, any song
  • Sing the song in tune
  • Learn to make a good cup of coffee
  • Find a cure for stupidity (but not my own)
  • Do a dance in a stage musical without looking like I want to kill myself
  • Find a beautiful rich woman with an impaired short-term memory
  • Rearrange the weeds in my yard
  • Go "russian roulette" bungee jumping (where they sever the bungee of one random jumper every day)
This list, of course, is not exhaustive, even if it is exhausting.  If I think of anything else to throw in the bucket, you will be the first to know.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quality Writing Would Tire Me Out

I think this is going to be a big year for Fishbrick.  Already, with this post,  I have doubled my output over last year.  Certainly, the quality of my blog posts is probably decreasing as my brain continues to dry up and turn into dust (that's what happens to your brain when you start to approach middle age).  But never mind about the quality of this blog.  Quality has never been an issue here at Fishbrick.  Obviously.  If I were concerned with quality writing, I would hire someone to write for me.  But I say write, write, write - never mind the product you turn out.  Just write.  Keep polishing your craft.  The more you write, the better you become.  A committed, dedicated writer writes constantly, even if he has nothing to say.  I'm a perfect example of that.  I have nothing to say, and I am constantly blogging, constantly crafting words, moving my fingers on my keyboard, watching the prose take shape across my screen.  Why, I've written three different things on this blog in just over one year.  And the fact is, I'm getting really tired right now.  All this polishing and crafting and stuff takes a lot out of me.  I may need to take a little break and come back when my brain is rested (dust and all).  So, I'll see you all in 2019.

Meanwhile, here are some more internet-based links:

Damn Interesting (sorry about the mildly profane title)
Reality Carnival (hours of fun)
A very large rock (video)
Poem Hunter (for those who are tired of prose)
Pretty impressive artwork (hyper-realistic drawings)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Discourse on Improper Attire

     It's good to back at Fishbrick.  It has been quite a while since I posted anything, but my lawyers advised against my blogging anything until my lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor was cleared up.  Now that that's out of the way, I would like to comment on an alarming fashion trend.
     The past few years I have noticed an increasing number of people going about in public dressed in pajama pants.  Often these people wear bedroom slippers to complete the ensemble.  I have given some thought to what may be motivating these folks to go to such extremes to dress down for public consumption and I think it must be one of two things: either extreme laziness or callous disrespect for their fellow man, a deeply entrenched misanthropy, if you will. 
    If it is laziness, then it is the kind of laziness that even I, a lazy man, cannot come close to fathoming.  It is the kind of laziness that throws garbage out its kitchen window, or even fails to make the effort to open the window at all and keeps the garbage in a pile on the floor.  It's the kind of laziness that eats meals in bed, that can't be bothered to flush the toilet, that only showers in extreme emergencies, that can't be bothered to pick up a dropped sandwich, that would never dream of walking down an escalator, but must stand like a lump until it reaches the bottom.  And I will bet you, the reader (if there is a reader out there) that it is the kind of laziness that, after using the facilities in public or private (and not flushing) would never make the effort to wash its indolent hands.  To this kind of laziness, even putting on a pair of sweatpants and slipping on some unlaced boots would be an endeavor of herculean effort, downright unthinkable.
     The other possible motivation for public display of pajama pants, as I said, is disrespect toward one's fellow man.  I imagine an inner monologue inside this slovenly misanthrope as going something like this:  "Oh, how I despise mankind!  I must do everything I can to make my neighbor's life unpleasant, for no man but I deserve to experience beauty.  Surely ugliness and disorder must be the lot of the creatures who surround me in my daily activities.  They are all loathsome dogs, and such dogs deserve nothing but the very worst from me.  From this day forward, I vow to make all men, women and children feel the disdain I have for them by making them gaze upon my horrid pajama pants and bedroom slippers.  They shall feel consternation and rage, discomfort and even fear as they feast their lowly eyes upon my raiment.  Only when I am home will I change into the luxurious designer-labeled clothing I have purchased for my private use.  My shoes will I shine, my hair  will I comb, my fingernails will I buff.  And nobody but I will ever feast eyes upon my loveliness as none but I am deserving of such a privilege.  For the world, pajama pants!  For me, sartorial splendor!"  
     Yes, that's probably what these people are thinking. 

Coming soon:  an epic poem about people who wear short pants in the dead of winter.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Warning Signs

Life is fraught with danger.  Sickness, calamity, accidents and death are constantly on the hunt for new victims.  The best way to stave them off is to be attentive, watchful, alert and aware.  We must be sensitive to the warning signs of impending doom, and thereby take action to thwart its doominess.  Following are a few warning signs.  If any or all of these apply to you, you can either roll over and accept your demise, or take immediate steps to convene a committee to draw up guidelines in order to formulate a bold plan of action to undermine the hostile intentions of cruel fate.  Knowledge is power, and as the old saying goes: forewarned is forearmed.  So maybe you should tattoo this list to your forearm.

Warning signs:
  • Bullets being fired in your direction.
  • Being hurled through the air.
  • Being told that you just drank poison.
  • Scratchy throat.
  • Getting embalmed.
  • Meeting deceased relatives in a beautiful place of peace and light.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Rigor mortis.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seeing a mushroom cloud up close.
  • Hearing the heartbeat of a large shark.
  • Leg cramps.
  • The smell of gas in the house.
  • The sensation of being trampled by African elephants.
  • Smoke alarm going off in your house.
  • The sound of your driver snoring.
  • The sound of your stewardess shrieking in terror.
  • "Welcome to Guatemala City"
  • Seeing the handle of a knife protruding from your chest.
  • Your ski buddy yelling "Avalanche!"
  • Slurred speech.
  • "Welcome to Chicago"
  • Frequent nosebleeds.
  • Your pal Jim Bob stumbling in the door with a box of fireworks.
  • A telephone pole inside your car.
  • Dizziness.
  • Being covered with flies.
  • Hearing your surgeon say "oops" in the operating room.
  • Watching the upper floors of a tall building speeding past you.
  • The sensation of dirt being shoveled onto your coffin.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Another Desperate Redesign

In order to keep up with the competition, I have updated the look of Fishbrick, utilizing Blogger's popular brownish template.  I changed the colors and fonts of the texts, too.  You may also have noticed that the graphic of the fish and the brick have been removed and replaced with nothing.  A recently completed study by the Institute of Blog Design (IBD) found that pictures of  fish combined with bricks elicited negative reactions from the public, ranging from vague feelings of ennui and listlessness, to boils on the skin.  I always rather liked the drawing, generously furnished by Lenny (famed for his Jawbone Radio blog, his popular Twitter feed, and his jalapeno rum squares), but I am not one to cavil with the results of an esteemed fictional institute like the IBD.

Another innovation in what I like to call the New Fishbrick is a decreased usage of the letter z, which will tend to expedite, or streamline, the reading process.  Also, notice that the blog is actually a full inch wider than it used to be, a change recommended by IBD experts in their semiannual list of random recommendations.  So far, the feedback on these major changes has been largely ambivalent, owing to the general lack of interest by the public in uninteresting blogs.

But I am not deterred by the public's continuing ignorance of Fishbrick, and I am sure that the changes I've made are for the better, whether they be known widely or not.  And though the changes have not yet had the desired effect of attracting new readers, there is no reason to think that blog enthusiasts will not ultimately flock to this website, even if they flock very slowly.  With that possible outcome in mind, I will continue to produce productive product of the highest quality.  For high quality, even when it is ignored by good and rational people, is nothing at which to sneeze.

Following are a list of urls that might be worth visiting.

The Oddment Emporium
Dark Roasted Blend
Flip Face
Interesting Video

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Cautionary Tale

     We have all heard and read about the poor souls who are hooked on meth or on crack.  We see the photos of their drug-ravaged faces and wonder just how anybody, in this day and age, could possibly take up the consumption of such notoriously addictive, ruinous substances.  Hadn't these people ever heard about the horrific effects these drugs have?  Why on earth would somebody knowingly take these notorious drugs in the first place?   How does one start on such a path?  Possibly it begins as described in the scenario that follows.

     At a cocktail party in a well-to-do suburb one man approached his friend and related to him a singular occurrence.
     "I say, Wentworth, I came across a rather shabbily dressed gentleman this evening as I was leaving my lodgings. He accosted me and asked me to give him some money to pay the fare on the local omnibus.  I gave the man a stern talking-to and sent him on his way.  As he scurried off, this item fell from his pocket."  He took out a small clear plastic bag and showed his friend.
     " By gad, Jasper," said the other, "I do believe that is what is referred to as 'crack'."
     "Crack?"  responded Jasper.  "What on earth is crack?"  Wentworth looked askance at Jasper, incredulous as to his apparent ignorance of the drug and its insidious effects on the user.
     "It is a highly addictive form of the drug cocaine.  It is smoked by the user, producing an intense feeling of euphoria lasting five to ten minutes, followed by a feeling of depression when the drug wears off.  Often the user immediately desires to produce the euphoria, or 'high,' once again and smokes another rock."
     " Rock?" asked Jasper, his curiosity aroused.  Wentworth explained.
     " As you can see, the substance resembles a small rock, which the user then burns in a pipe, or pipe-like apparatus.  He inhales the fumes thereby and is rewarded with the high he so desperately craves." 
     Jasper thought for a moment, turning over in his mind this most interesting data.  He needed additional information.
     "Look here, Wentworth, what you say is quite interesting indeed.  But surely there is more to this crack than you have told me.  You said, I believe, that it is highly addictive.  Is that problematic?  Cannot one simply purchase a new 'rock' and in that way satisfy his addiction to the drug?  If one can afford such a habit, why not indulge oneself in it?  It must be fairly inexpensive, as the shabby fellow who importuned me is able to afford it."
      "Certainly it is, my friend.  But its effects on the body and mind are pernicious indeed.  One who smokes this drug comes to feel quite obsessed, desiring only its intoxicating effects, which become less and less pronounced upon repeated usage of the drug.  The poor dope fiend often turns paranoid, cannot sleep, is restless and irritable.  Some of these individuals suffer from the delusion that their skin is crawling with parasites."
     "How awful!" interjected Jasper.
     "Awful indeed," answered his friend.  He continued, "Their heart rate increases; often the drug produces scarring on the lungs. The addict becomes emotionally unstable, erratic.  He may resort to stealing and other petty crimes to obtain money to pay for his habit.  Often, the person addicted becomes violent.  Penury, isolation and early death are very often the end result."
     "Good heavens, sir!  How awful it all is,"  cried Jasper.
    "How right you are, my friend," replied Wentworth.  He looked at the bag containing the rock.  He glanced up at Jasper's ashen face.  "You know, Jasper, I do have a pipe upstairs.  Would you care to partake of this rock with me?"
      "Capital idea, old Wenty!" retorted his friend.  "Let us excuse ourselves and embark on a chemically induced adventure."
      "Yes.  And it didn't cost us a cent, my good man.  Say, do you think you can locate the shabby gentleman again?"

     At that, the two gentlemen took their leave of the assembled company and went upstairs. 

How many Jaspers and Wentworths are there out there now, reading this cautionary tale?  Turn back before it is too late.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Fellow Named Othello

I recently tried out for a part in Othello. I haven't heard from the director yet whether or not I have gotten it. I have been sleeping in his front yard for a week now, yet he avoids the question whenever I yell it at him. In researching the play, I read it for the first time. Yes, folks, I had never read Othello before, have you? It is a fine play. This Shakespeare fellow really knew what he was doing. It wasn't as funny as some of his other comedies, but hey, who am I to criticize a pillar of Western Literature?

I must say one thing though.  This Othello, the Moor, was one gullible rube. All it took was a couple of clever lies and a little falsified circumstantial evidence from Iago, and Othello goes from honored general and lovestruck newlywed to maniacally jealous wife murderer and tragic suicide victim (I told you it isn't very funny). I would have to classify this guy as a credulous dunce. Had he never had anyone try to con him before? If somebody had tried, they would have found a lucrative source of continuous revenue in separating Othello from his money. Can you imagine what he would have done if some Nigerian prince had sent him an email asking for his bank account number? He would lose everything. What if a local candidate's TV ad warned him that voting for the other guy would be the death knell for senior citizens? Big-hearted lug that he was, he would have voted for this charlatan and thereby contributed to his society's demise. 

Sometimes I think Shakespeare just made stuff up as he went along, perhaps trying to meet a deadline.  I wonder if some of the peeps in his entourage ever pointed out the flaws in his plays' characters or plots.  Or maybe, like readers today, they had some difficulty understanding his complicated Elizabethan writing style (this was long before Cliff's Notes, as I understand.)

The preceding blog was written in the summer of 2011 and never posted due to a thumb cramp.  I never did get the part in the play.  All I got from the director was a restraining order.  But not having to do Othello freed me up for other projects.  In fact, I've done five plays and two film projects since being passed over for the part.  I am now somewhat of a celebrity here in northeast Ohio to the point where several of my co-workers now recognize me with very little prompting.  How funny life is.

I am one of these guys in one of the plays I did recently. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cleaning out the Notebook

I keep a little notebook in my car in which to jot down ideas I get while driving.  I do quite a bit of driving, and instead of concentrating on traffic or road signs or speedometers or police sirens, I allow my mind to drift over facts and ideas both great and small. I ruminate, cogitate, consider and contemplate while my left turn signal blinks away. Then, upon coming to a red light, I pull out the notebook and jot down a few sentence fragments or key words in order to save what my mind has wrought. My intention is to later turn these fragments into Fishbrick gold.  Unfortunately, what is written all too hastily in my notebook does not always jog my memory, and I'm left trying to figure out just what it was I was trying to convey.  And it's not just because my handwriting is awful or that the color of crayon I've used is hard to read.  It probably has more to do with the dreamlike state of mind I was in when I wrote down these fleeting thoughts, coupled with a memory devastated by years of television watching and poor nutrition.  Nonetheless, I will try to mine the nuggets of gold hidden in these scribbled notes and pass them on to you, my long-suffering reader(s).

Hot pizza mouth  Not sure what I meant to say here.  I think it must have something to do with the fact that pizza generally goes in one's mouth and is usually eaten while still hot.  Not a great start.  Let's move on.

Stop labeling everybody  What I believe I meant here is that some tee shirts have labels that irritate the back of the neck.  Hardly seems worth mentioning.

Back on the glod standard  This one has to do, I think, with the quality of glod being too variable these days and the need to adhere to a uniform standard in its production.  I forget what glod is, though.

Free market is so much better  The idea here could be that some of the grocery stores in town charge too much for their food and there should be something created like Cleveland's West Side Market, only it wouldn't require any payment for its produce.  I don't know what I was thinking.  That seems like a formula for disaster to me.  Next.

Believe 10 reasons  Here we may be considering the idea that I believe 10 reasons.  But reasons for what I cannot recall.  Probably would have made a thought-provoking read.

Sandwich! Sandwich! Sandwich!  I don't know if I was thinking about the celebrated Earl of Sandwich, to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude, or if I was simply feeling a tad hungry at the time.  My guess is that it had nothing to do with the Earl.  

Slush fund disgrace  A slush is something you can get at some ice cream stands.  It's a tasty treat for sure.  Maybe the point here is that parents should not bankroll their children's hankering for such unhealthy snacks.  I'm not sure why such a thought would have occurred to me, but it must have.

Evolution debate  Here the idea may have been to chronicle the history of the formal debate, citing examples such as the Lincoln-Douglas debates and perhaps contrasting it with the format and quality of today's political debates.  Sounds like really dry stuff.  Why would I write about that?

Democracy is not ralph  The handwriting on this note was not great.  Maybe the point here was that Ralph does not represent the average man, or that Ralph was not elected on the up and up.  There is nothing worse than a crooked election, as you know.  But I don't remember who the hell Ralph is.

Where are the trash cans?  This one was probably a lot deeper than the question indicates.  Trash cans is a metaphor for something.  Just kind of fill in the blanks and there you have the makings of an important idea.  It makes one think.

Just give me ten good men  I may have had an idea about forming a football team.  But why?  

Hobnobbing with aliens among us   This could have been a very interesting piece about learning to speak Spanish or something.  I suppose that's a good thing, but I don't know why I would want to write a blog about it.  

I'm getting rid of that stupid notebook.