Weekly Shocks' Blog


Small, Pretend Dogs: Seriously, Why?

A dog or a four-legged albino Cher? You decide.

A dog or a four-legged albino Cher? You decide.

I’m going back to Boston tomorrow for a bit of a holiday. Hooray! Right now, I’m in the middle of packing. Packing for me is a seven-hour process that involves six hours and fifty-five minutes of procrastination and five minutes of dragging out my suitcase and throwing as much dirty laundry as I can into the thing along with my teddy bear, and, if I can remember them, my toothbrush, passport, wallet, and plane ticket. It’s a pretty efficient process, I have to say.

I love Oxford tons, but I am glad to be going home for a bit. It’ll be good to see my family, friends, the city, and – though I’m loathe to admit it – my small, yippy, and kick-able Pomeranian dog.

No offense to small-dog lovers, but seriously, why? Why bother getting a dog at all? Why not just put a rat on a leash, or have a baby? Babies are nowhere near as high-maintenance as most small dogs, and they probably shed less, too. (Puggles, of course, are obviously exempt from my small-dog contempt.)

I admit a profound bias in favor of large dogs, mostly because they’re way better, and also because I grew up with a pair of enormous, lovable, goofy giant puppies who kicked ass, took names, and drooled lots, the way dogs are supposed to do. My first dog, Barney, was a Golden Retriever-German Shepherd mutt who was so badass he single-handedly devoured a raw, thirty-pound turkey in fifteen minutes. Even when he subsequently barfed the whole thing up in our yard, he did so with a swagger and panache. I’d like to see some rat terrier or chihuahua attempt that! Barney was smart as a whip, too, and we taught him to chase his tail on command by hollering, “Kill, kill!” until he got confused and excited and decided his tail was THE ENEMY. What a great dog.

Five years after we got Barney, we decided he needed a friend. Also, he had finally outgrown his puppy phase and we missed having everything in the house chewed up, peed on, or otherwise destroyed. So we got a Black Lab. Holy cow, what a beast of a dog! My mom insisted on naming her Tasha after a pet she had when she was young. Naturally, the rest of us thought Tasha was a profoundly stupid name for a dog. Tasha obviously agreed, because she reduced our entire house to a smoldering pile of rubble in about six weeks. That dog broke things I didn’t even know we owned. I think she even chewed up the tires on our car at one point. We were all so impressed with this massive fur-ball of energy and destruction, we gave her the brilliantly suitable nickname Trashy, and she spent the rest of her days incessantly wagging her tail, knocking over glassware, furniture, and people with her incessantly wagging tail, and viciously attacking and barking at dust mites.

The one disadvantage of large dogs is that they have a nasty habit of dying. This is how we ended up getting our Pomeranian rat-dog. Our poor Trashy had to be put to sleep due to a painful, incurable illness, and a few months afterward, my dad, older sister, and niece went out ostensibly to pick up something for dinner. They instead came home with the yippy Pomeranian. (This actually happened rather a lot in my family. I can’t count the number of times one or both of my parents would go out to get a pizza or pick up the dry-cleaning and would come back with a new furry creature to add to our menagerie. I’ve just realized how profoundly weird that is.) The Pomeranian had been named Honey by whatever sick and twisted fruit had owned her before and she was the most spoiled, pain-in-the-ass, yippy, and annoying creature on the planet. Of course I love her to bits. And I’m not saying I’d trade her for anything. But she really is a pathetic excuse for a dog. I mean, I can pick her up. And carry her. AND SHE ENJOYS IT! That’s just so wrong. Plus, when I take her for walks, she actually … prances. There’s really no other way to describe the pathetic, high-stepping trot she breaks into when she’s on a leash. It’s fey and embarrassing. Seriously, it’s always a little soul-crushing to be seen with her in public because she clearly thinks she’s the cutest thing this side of the Mississippi, and I really don’t need to be competing with a dog for overall cuteness.

My mom is not so enamoured of our little rat-dog and always threatens to hide her in my suitcase when I go back to England. Yeah, right. There’s so much dirty laundry in my suitcases, the furry mutt would just smother in it. And if she didn’t, she’d probably end up eating my teddy bear. And then I’d have to kill her. And either way, with a dead dog on our hands, we’d just have to get another one, and this one might be even smaller and yippier than the one we have now! Ha! Nice try, mummy. You’re stuck with her.

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Using Your Head (aka, “That Lump That’s Three Feet Above Your Ass”)

lump

I saw A League of Their Own this weekend. It’s always a little disappointing when movies you watched and loved when you were a kid seem maudlin and horribly dated years later and you suddenly realize that your ten-year-old self had pretty crappy taste. I am confident, though, that my current adoration for the High School Musical film series will not leave me with similar feelings of shame.

Anyway, despite feeling squirmy and mildly embarrassed by A League of Their Own, I laughed afresh over a fantastic quote Tom Hanks’ character screams at his cutoff man-missing right fielder: “Now you start using your head! That’s that lump that’s three feet above your ass!” Maybe if some of my softball coaches had shamed me to tears like that during my playing years, I could have been a brilliant athletic star, too. Or at least I might have fallen on my face less often when I chased after fly balls I’d inevitably drop.

Regardless. I had completely forgotten about this absolute gem of a quote from the film, partly, I suppose, because it’s a bit naughty, but mostly, I suspect, because it’s immediately overshadowed by the next bit of dialogue which includes the film’s most well-known line: “There’s no crying in baseball!” That’s a bit sad. And a lie, too. Hell, I’ve been a Red Sox fan long enough to have vague memories of my dad in tears during Game 6 of the ’86 World Series. And I definitely shed a few of my own when my main man Tim Wakefield gave up that cheap shot to Aaron “AssFace” Boone in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. There are a lot of tears in baseball, believe me. Pah. Tom Hanks is such a liar.

So, how about you guys? Do you have favorite quotes from films, quotes that are perhaps overshadowed by other, less impressive, but more famous lines? If so, drop me a comment and I’ll either nod over the sagacity of your thought-processes or laugh hysterically at what a diaper-wearing ape you are. No pressure or anything.


Dear Australia, Your Country is Awesome.

How amazing is this?

Toxic-Toad Killing Fest Down Under


It’s my birthday. Um, yay, I guess?

high_voltage_birthday1

So, today’s my birthday. Oh, you forgot, huh? That’s OK. No really, no worries. It’s cool that you didn’t get me anything. No biggie. Really, it’s fine. I’ll just go sob quietly into my pillow, heartbroken and miserable, moaning softly about how unloved and unwanted I am. You big jerk.

I’m honestly not all that gung-ho about my birthday. This is partly because everyone else in my family has theirs in February, so by the time mine rolls around in late March, I’m kind of burnt out on hearing “Happy Birthday” warbled off-key over a cake that has been set on fire. (Let’s face it, the birthday cake tradition is a totally weird, if tasty one.) I also find the whole celebration of one’s arrival into the world a little embarrassing and gratuitous – I just can’t bring myself to demand that my friends and family make that big a deal over the anniversary of a day I don’t even remember. (And thank God, because I can’t imagine the day was really all that great anyway. I mean, I was shoved out of my mom’s very warm and cozy womb, slapped around for a bit, severed from my life-giving placenta, and introduced to my very embittered and jealous older sister. How is this supposed to be a good thing?) Plus, I’m in the middle of those weird, awkward years after 21 but before 30 during which time birthdays don’t really signify all that much except a chance to go out and get smashed for marginally less money and shame than usual.  Besides, ever since VirtualCrack.com has been shut down, no one ever manages to get me anything I really want anyway.  I honestly don’t mean to be a grump about it or anything and certainly don’t begrudge anyone else for their epic and wild birthday smashes. It’s just not for me. I’m too big an introverted goofball.

This year, my birthday happens to coincide with the start of Daylight Savings here in the UK, which is frankly just great – one less hour to worry about. Why can’t all my birthdays be only 23 hours long? Or less, for that matter.

One more non-birthday related note: I’ve updated my About Me page to include an email address for those of you who would like to send me coupons for discounted plumbing equipment, profanity-laced rants, Viagra offers, or anything else not really applicable to this blog. Have at it and enjoy.


God, Jesus, Sin, and The Bible: Feeling Uncomfortable Yet?

Let me start this one off with a cheesy yet thoroughly enjoyable slice of wittiness:

A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar.

The bartender looks up and says, “What is this, a joke?!”

Haha! Glad I could lighten the mood. It’s always a little awkward bringing up religion in public, unless you’re talking about how you punched an annoying Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon in the face, at which point you become Top Dog and people line up to buy you beer. That’s a little sad, isn’t it? I mean, yeah, sure, I can sympathize with those who are irritated by overly enthusiastic religious groups. After all, I seem to have a pulsating, proselytizing-faith magnet embedded under my skin, and it’s frankly a little bizarre how often I’m approached in public by members of these faiths asking me if I’d like to talk to them about Jesus. But, in all honestly, I don’t really mind. These folks aren’t all that bad – every last one I’ve met has been unfailingly polite and understanding over my reluctance to discuss my spiritual beliefs with total strangers. Even the half dozen or so who abducted me anyway and forced me into their militia-armed compounds only held me captive for three years, tops. Seriously, these poor guys get a bad rap.

But I kid the evangelicals with their scary cults, attachment to guns, child brides, and total lack of understanding of the general public.

Besides, who am I to judge, anyway? I’m Catholic! We pretty much started this whole mess! (Have I offended any Greek Orthodox out there? Good, good, just running through the list!) Unlike most Catholics, though, I still actually go to Mass every once in a while, because Mass provides structure and rules and occasionally free booze. It’s also a nice chance to talk to the Big Guy, hang out with elderly women, and munch on a substance that strongly resembles cardboard. What’s not to like?

Anyway, because I’m Catholic, I’m apparently off the hook when it comes to actually reading that touchstone of the Christian faith, the Bible. I think the Church’s official stance on laypeople and Bible-reading is that it’s a nice idea, I guess, but if you start getting too many Protestant-like thoughts of independence from it, then a priest is immediately necessary to crush your spirit and gumption into a sticky paste.  Nevertheless, I actually have read the Good Book, partly because I’m a massive geek, partly because I was an English major in college (which is really just a subsection of ‘massive geek’), and partly because I have indeed dabbled in heretical Protestantism on occasion. (Hey, I figure there’s a good chance I’m going to hell anyway, might as well be a giant dork in doing it.) And I gotta say: I love that freaky old book! It is by far the most messed-up piece of writing I have ever come across. Stephen King only wishes he could be this creepy.

I really don’t mean to slam the Bible. Even if you’re not Christian, there are some excellent lifelong guidelines in there (don’t kill people, be kind to others, lay off the pork), and staggeringly beautiful passages and imagery. Plus, your understanding of nearly every great work of Western literature will be greatly enhanced if you’re familiar with Biblical stories. But that genuine praise aside, honestly, some sections in there are just…wow. Holy Mother of God, the Bible really is one goofy, profoundly disturbing, and flat-out weird book. The Old Testament, especially. Here are some of my favorite bits:

Deuteronomy 23:1

He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

(Yikes. I guess I have a better understanding of why men are so protective of their happy areas.)

Exodus 4:24-25

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

(Is it just me, or does this sound like it either is or should be a Monty Python sketch?)

Proverbs 25:24

It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

(Having grown up with two rather high-strung, temperamental sisters, I can attest that this is very, very true.)

Judges 15:15

And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

(Apparently, this New and Improved Jawbone of an Ass beats the hell out of Original Jawbone of an Ass which could only slay fifty men before requiring a service upgrade.)

Samuel 18:25-27

And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law: and the days were not expired.

Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

(Lucky girl.)

And that’s just the proverbial tip of the iceberg of horror! I completely skipped over all the rape, incest, and beastiality bits! So, have I whet your appetite yet? Good! Then read the Bible. Then we can be geeks together and make other people feel uncomfortable by talking about it! Please? I’m so lonely.


Smart and Sassy Bloodsuckers

How come every time (ok, so it’s only happened once before) I write a blog post about something fairly obscure and relevant to only three people other than me, some massive event and/or news story pops up about that very same thing? It’s really quite hard being this prescient. (Forgive me while I start banging my head against the wall to get the steady hum of bullshit out of my ears.)

Anyway, if you were here a couple of days ago, you may have skimmed over a post I made about my ultra dorky high school days. Today, my Facebook page and email account were bombarded with links to the following news story. Boston Latin is apparently being infiltrated by vampires. Pah, I say. That’s just the school sucking the life out of its students. Ba-Boom! Thank you, I’m here all week!


Let’s eat until we throw up.

Baseball season is right around the corner! Yay! And you know what that means – a 4lb burger on an 8-inch sesame seed bun, of course!

ODD Bodacious Ballpark Burger

Say hello to the latest menu item at the Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. Apparently, if you finish this $20 cow-on-a-plate in one sitting, you’ll receive a special T-shirt! I wonder if they’ll also give you a ride to the local emergency room.


Damn you, Facebook.

If you have a Facebook account (and if you don’t, goody for you, you anti-establishment, neo-Luddite anarchist-weirdo), then you’ve probably got a pretty strong opinion on its latest redesign effort. Personally, I think it looks as if Mark Zuckerberg threw up all over a Twitter page, but, hey, that’s just me. Maybe you think the new design is efficient and modern and engagingly clever. Maybe you actually like it. Yeah. AND MAYBE YOU ALSO LIKE HITLER!!!!!

Sorry.

Facebook seems to update itself every six months with newer, crappier designs and intrusive, pointlessly inane features, and, inevitably, protest groups emerge to bitch about it. In a new poll on the site, 94% of those who have so far responded gave the new look a big thumbs down and immediately began screeching in the comments section about how stupid and confusing the site has become. More than a few also threatened to dump their Facebook accounts entirely unless Marky Mark & Co get their electronic poopie together and restore the order and harmony of the older, marginally less rubbish site.

Even though I hate the new look as much as the next prole, I no longer make these kinds of empty threats to leave Facebook. It’s a waste of my time to even try. I’m hopelessly addicted to the site and have been for years. It’s so utterly pathetic, and yet, there it is: my day is incomplete unless I’ve refreshed my Home Page at least a dozen times in order to stalk check up on people I barely speak to and couldn’t care less about my friends. I’m currently engaged in about a dozen different poking wars (and I still have no idea what a poke – and subsequently a poking war – is, though it’s probably filthy and will inevitably send me to hell). I obsess over new, comically charming, self-deprecating ways to update my profile (cue the ironic narcissism). I regularly have to stop myself from adding the most idiotic-yet-seductive of applications, such as “What Kind of Woman Are You?” (if you seriously have doubts over what ‘kind’ of woman you are, perhaps it’s time to visit a therapist) or “What Nationality Are You?” (I just recovered from a traumatizing few weeks of misplacing my passport, I don’t need the PTSD, thanks). Currently, about half of my Facebook friends are engaged in a kind of News Feed battle over their choices of the Top 5 Beers of all time. One friend, who may or may not be related to me, actually has Coors Lite as a top pick. Honestly, it’s enough to drive a person to drink Schlitz, or, as it’s more commonly known as, bat urine.

So, damn you, Facebook. Damn your idiotic redesign efforts created to ruthlessly crush all other social networking sites. Damn your creepy inclusion of high school students so that I occasionally stumble across photos of a guy I find adorably attractive only to recoil in guilt, horror, and paranoid shame when I discover said ‘guy’ is 15. Damn your virus-like notes that effortlessly seduce me, then fill me with self-loathing the morning after our sordid, sticky encounters. And damn the fact that the second I finish this blog entry, I just know I’m going to flip back to my perpetually-open Facebook tab to see if anyone has messaged/walled/invited/poked/requested anything from me. Hell, damn me, too!


Your ‘Apropos of Nothing’ Post of the Day

I’m a bit busy at the moment trying to manipulate my resume into something that doesn’t make me look like a bottomlessly nerdy, over-educated goofball who farts rainbows (this, of course, is not possible, but still I persist), and I therefore haven’t got much to offer today in the Weekly Shocks’ World.

So, enjoy some classic Weird Al. I know all the lyrics to this utterly amazing song, which is pretty representative of my life anyway. I know, I know: Looooooooooserrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

And I really am whiter than sour cream.


Eureka!

I spent most of my weekend trawling through my novel, which is still a goofy mess (think of an animated Rainbow Bright dropping acid – that’s the overall feel of the book) yet still dearly beloved. I think I’m going to end up as one of those pathetic, sloppy drunks in trashy bars who moans on and on about her yet-to-be-published “great American novel” to any poor sap who will listen, and then passes out in a pool of her own mojito-encrusted vomit. I’m oddly OK with this.

Anyway, I’ve been struggling with my two main characters and the relationship between them. When I tell anyone the general plot of my novel, they automatically assume Jack and Mike are closeted gay lovers. There’s nothing wrong with being gay lovers (no, really, there’s nothing wrong with it – I’m not homophobic at all, I swear, it’s just it’s not what…I mean, that’s not the kind of…I wasn’t planning on making…look, go away), but it’s not supposed to be a romantic book or a love story at all. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that Jack has a horrible troll of a girlfriend who is wrong for him in every conceivable way, a fact that Mike brings up constantly (Mike is kind of a well-intentioned yet socially inept moron). I mean, my guys are exceptionally close friends and they go through a lot together and develop a kind of camaraderie that transcends their differences…and, oh, holy crap, they really should be gay lovers!  This is a big problem. Again, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I am not the person to write that kind of a book. Really, I struggle enough with traditional, mainstream social relationships like heterosexual dating and friendship and how much to tip the pizza delivery guy without making him think I’m either a knobby cheapskate or a condescending bitch. There’s no way in hell I could turn my comical farce of a novel into a potential minefield of social and political revolution for gay rights’ activists. Plus, the whole thing is set in a very Jesuit university and I slam the Church (affectionately, I swear!) often enough as is without adding another element of cliched, closeted homoeroticism between my good Catholic boys. I will not touch serious issues with a ten-foot pole in this book and, damn it all to hell, you can’t make me!

OK, hopefully I’ve managed to offend just about everyone with my awkward, pointless apologizing. Moving on.

This morning, while avoiding real work, I was obsessing over my fictional boys yet again, trying for the umpteenth time to discover a way to properly describe their relationship without adding any hint of romantic undertones. How in the hell am I going to keep the charm of their pointless, incessant bickering, their obnoxiously competitive arguing, and their fierce loyalty to and affection for each other without making them seem like an old, married couple?

Then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, a solution so patently stupid and simple I wondered why I had been avoiding the inevitability of it for so long. Jack and Mike aren’t friends at all, they’re brothers!

So, this of course means I need to rewrite large swaths of the book and rework some of the back story, but I’m happy with that. Being a novelist is more or less like playing God for a fictional world, isn’t it, and if I have the responsibility of making my people happy, I’ll have to put in lots of time and effort and energy. Good Lord, these boys are so much damn work. Maybe I should give them both an annoying, non life-threatening illness  – eczema, perhaps? – to teach ’em a lesson. Or maybe I should it can it with my chronic, obscene narcissism and get back to work.


An Obligatory Blog Post About Teenage Angst, or, Could I Have Been a Bigger Pain-in-the-Ass Nerd in High School?

Every once in a while, I get a colorful brochure from the alumni association of my glorious alma mater begging me for money. In my more cynical moments, I’m tempted to send them copies of my educational loan debts and a reciprocal request begging them for money, food, shelter, clothing, dignity, etc., but usually I just dig deep into my bank account and send whatever pittance I’m able to scrounge up. I am, honestly, quite fond of the Boston Latin School despite all of the hellish torture it put me through. In fact, I believe I’ve put enough time between me and my high school days to allow for some of the more gaping wounds to heal, so let’s reopen them, shall we, and relive their horrors afresh.

Boston Latin is one of those brutally prestigious magnet schools that specializes in turning bright, well-rounded, inner-city kids into grade-grubbing, back-stabbing psychopaths, all before they finish puberty. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Modeled after the English public school system, it’s a six-year program, allowing its administrators and teachers an extra couple of years to mold and shape and twist and warp and mutilate the minds of America’s future leaders. And they’ve been doing this for ages. Founded in 1635 (“predating Harvard by more than a year” as it modestly claims at every opportunity), it’s the oldest public school in the country. Because of this (and not because the school has huge entitlement issues and pulsates with conceit and arrogance, I swear), its motto is “Sumus primi.” For those of you not au fait with dead, predominantly useless languages, that’s Latin for “We are the first.” Uh huh. In its auditorium – into which new students are herded on their first day and more or less told they stand an excellent chance of failing out within a year – is a glorious, elegant frieze upon which the names of some of its more illustrious alumni are inscribed. These include Ben Franklin (who failed out himself, but we keep that hush hush), Joe Kennedy (drinking pal of Joseph McCarthy and noted anti-Semite) and Sam Adams (destroyer of tea, lent his name to an expensive and overrated beer). The foyer included a statue of Romulus and Remus feeding at the wolf, which was the symbol of the school. The point was that we, the unwashed, dirty masses of youth and potential talent, were to suckle at the teat of Boston Latin learning and then go on to found epic, glorious civilizations and kill each other. Or something like that, I dunno. If you conveniently forget the killing each other part, it’s sort of condescendingly sweet, I guess. However, you may not be familiar with the actual statue.

she-wolf_suckles_romulus_and_remus

Yeah. I’d like to see any kid greet that image every morning, five days a week, for six years, consider its symbolism and implications, and not go irretrievably mental.

I need to emphasize the fact that I did not want to go to Latin. No happy, well-adjusted eleven-year-old would. It’s not as if upon hearing, “Hey! Why not trade in your current life, which consists of having friends and being the smartest kid in your class with a minimal amount of effort to a brand new nightmare existence of having four hours of homework every day and never getting a full night’s sleep ever again?!” I jumped up and down shouting, “Yippee! Where do I sign up?!” No, the real conversation went something like this:

My mom: OK, the entrance exam for Latin is in three months, so we’re getting you a math tutor.

Me: What?! No! I do not want a math tutor! I’m already a giant nerd! Do you want me to die at the hands of a pack of rabid, inner-city school bullies?! And I definitely do not want to go to Latin! I want to be a stand-up comic! Why won’t you support me in my dreams and goals?! Don’t you love me?!

My mom: No. In fact, your father and I hate you with a passion that flames like a thousand suns. You were adopted. And you’re going to Latin, so quit your whining or we’ll give you back to the orphanage!

OK, so it’s possible that I’ve fabricated several key elements of the conversation. Regardless. I distinctly remember feeling a sense of profound dread mixed with an inevitable smattering of pride when I learned I was accepted at Latin, and that profound dread would become my baseline emotion for much of the next six years.

I know that this will come as a shock to many of you, given the coolly sophisticated, sexy lady I’ve since become, but frankly, I was an absolute geek in high school. Hell, I was a geek in a high school designed especially for geeks. Forum editor of the school newspaper, literary editor of the magazine, president of the Public Declamation Society, Treasurer of the German Club and director of our senior-year play: you name the dorky group or organization, and, chances are, I was a member. All of this extracurricular work I did left very little time for academics, and I was, perhaps not surprisingly, a miserable student. By my final year there – at which point I had decided that graduating high school was monstrously overrated and only subjected you to a life of servitude to THE MAN –  I was doing well enough in subjects I enjoyed and barely passing those I did not. My high-minded indignation, of course, was really just a thinly-veiled attempt to mask profound, jaw-dropping academic burnout and sloth-like laziness, and I successfully managed to completely tank my class rank. I think I ended up graduating with a GPA of negative 3, but not before I had insulted and alienated every single teacher I had at the school who would shake his or her head in utter disgust over how much of a time-wasting smart ass I had become in class. (Assuming, of course, I turned up for class at all. I literally missed a third of my senior year of high school. God alone knows how I graduated.)

I’m actually still really embarrassed by my performance in high school, and even more embarrassed by the fact that, despite it, I still managed to do pretty well in higher education. Sometimes, I think I’d like to go back to all of my old high school teachers and present them with my academic credentials and thank them. I’d like to ensure them that, really, even though it appeared otherwise, and I was, in fact, a total dipstick as a teenager, I did actually learn something during my Latin days. I learned enough, in fact, to make most of college a breeze and, much more importantly, my education at Latin introduced me to some of the higher philosophical principles of learning, such as the joys of intellectual challenge and the importance of academic honesty and rigor. Mostly, I’d like to apologize for being such a moronic half-wit. Boston Latin presented a pretty fantastic opportunity for learning, and even a half-assed attempt like mine still produced some pretty fine results, so, maybe I should be more grateful for what I received there.

But then, of course,  I remember that freakish, horrible statue and I decide I’m better off never thinking about that condescending, abusive hellhole ever again. DAMN THE MAN! AND DAMN THAT HORRIBLE WOLF!


“Junk” Mail*

* Yes, I know the title of this blog post is a terrible and filthy pun. I apologize, but frankly, I am not perfect and the opportunity to use this bit of naughtiness was too good to pass up.

crazyspamCrazy AND Tasty Spam?! Sign me up!

I have way too many email accounts. I’m not much of a pack rat in my (admittedly fairly obscure and destitute) real life, but I seem to collect email accounts by the barrel-full. At last count, I had at least eight. This is obscene. I’ve been online for almost ten years now, starting with my shameful AOL days (stop laughing at me, jerkface, I bet you wish you had AOL in the 90s!) and instead of abandoning email accounts when I no longer use them, I keep them and treasure them tenderly, even though they are mostly filled with valueless garbage and horrific reminders of all the moronic things I’ve done in my cheesy past. This is going to get me into serious trouble if I ever decide to launch a political career, I know, but let it never be said that Weekly Shocks doesn’t live on the WILD SIDE! OH YEAH!

Anyway, one of the many side effects of numerous email accounts is, of course, a ridiculous amount of junk-mail. This includes the obligatory nonsense everyone gets: Nigerian prince in disrepute, Russian mail-order brides, live celebrity nude webcam 4U sexfests, fun at the barnyard-of-love porn, etc. The usual stuff that seems to be written by patients suffering from nymphomania and are simultaneously recovering from severe head trauma. You know the drill. Beyond this, however, I seem to get a rather alarming amount of email promising me various treatments to elongate the size of my masculinity. Even though I have no masculinity to speak of, I try not to take this personally. It’s nice that they thought of me, regardless. Besides, some of the subject headings for these emails are quite amusing. This bizarre sample is by far my favorite:

DRAG YOUR NEW HUGE C*CK ON THE GROUND! 15042

Beyond the mystery of what, exactly, 15042 refers to (actual size, in feet, of my new “c*ck?” number of satisfied customers? lottery numbers? what?) I wasn’t aware of the fact that the male genitalia could serve as both a reproductive organ and a cleaning device for my carpets and floors. Thanks for the tip, 15042 genitalia-enhancing people! Heck, maybe I have been approaching the male of our species at the completely wrong angle, failing to recognize their hygienic value!

Or maybe I should get rid of a few email accounts. Hmmm.


Spring! Damn It!

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I really should just break down and start a Garfield Category. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but really: that damn comic strip runs my life. Is that wrong somehow?

Anyway, hooray, huzzah, booyah, today is the first day of spring. NYC apparently celebrated with some minor snow flurries. Haha, suckers.

nyc-snow

Just down the road from us in Oxford, the Druids celebrated at Stonehenge with prayers and solemnity and, apparently, mobile phones and video cameras. Naturally.

druids

Why not, I say. If your most holy of celebrations can’t include interruptions of ringtones blasting “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, then it’s probably not fit for modern man. Might as well trash it, right?

Me, I spent most of the week in hell, busy as a bee, and really, just being a grumpy toad. Not to crap misery turds all over everyone’s welcoming of the season of rebirth, but frankly, I hate spring. “April is the cruelest month,” indeed, Mr Eliot. My aversion to spring stems partly from the fact that it inevitably leads to summer, which is a highly overrated, sweaty, stinky, and sticky season (saved only by baseball), but mostly because I’ve spent most of my sentient life in academics and spring means DEADLINES. It’s beautifully easy to ignore DEADLINES when it’s the middle of winter and you just can’t possibly bring yourself to work on anything because the snow drifts have buried your dog, and there’s beef stew and fresh biscuits to eat, and endless naps to take, and layers of subcutaneous fat to develop. I adore winter. But spring has to come and ruin everything. Suddenly it’s ever so slightly warmer out, so people suddenly expect you to snap to attention and shed your seventy layers of woolen clothing (not to mention all the fat you worked so hard to store all winter!) and then rejoice in all the extra sunlight and fresh air and birds waking you with their incessant chirping at 4am until you take a shotgun and finish off the disease-ridden, obnoxious little beasts. I hate birds, too.

Well, I say: go to hell, spring! I’m going to continue to bundle up in my wool pea coat and scarf and boots, even if the temperatures reach seventy degrees! I’m going to continue to pretend I have months left to sort out my dissertation and not weeks, days, or even hours! And if one more bloody bird wakes me out of a sound sleep before the sun does (and sun, you can go to hell, too!), I swear by all that is holy that I will hang, draw, and quarter a flock of canaries and leave their carcasses hanging outside of my window as a macabre warning for the rest of you!

Spring sucks. Damn it, who’s with me?!


The Puggle Stalker Returns!

Ahem:

Search Engine Terms

These are terms people used to find your blog.

Today

Search Views
puggle 43 More stats
puggles 2 More stats

Hooray!

(Check out this, this, this, and this if you’re confused. Or just continue in your confusion if you prefer. You’re cute when you don’t know what the hell is going on. Not as cute as puggles, of course, but you gotta make do.)


A Shameful Tale From My Misspent Youth

While I work away on other matters and neglect this blog, please enjoy this little essay I wrote a couple of years ago when I was unemployed and pretending to be a frustrated-yet-brilliant writer. So much has changed since then: now I’m an unemployed grad student pretending to be a frustrated-yet-brilliant writer! Anyway, this little bit of fluff was rejected by a ridiculous number of publications without so much as a word of explanation. I was so crushed I completely forgot about it. Hopefully you folks have lower standards than most print magazines and will find it at least mildly amusing.

Enjoy!

Color What?

Like a lot of Irish Catholic kids who grew up in Boston, I was forced to participate in athletics through the ubiquitous Catholic Youth Organization. CYO is a wonderful group that brings together the children of the Church to rejoice in the glory of God’s love and then teaches them to torture one another through merciless taunts, manipulative blackmail, and brutal physical combat. It is also dedicated to exposing young Catholics to some of the more colorful examples of the English language.

Actually, I enjoyed CYO quite a bit, despite being a hopelessly incompetent athlete. I played softball for a number of years and specialized in striking out and letting pop flies land on my head. I was spared the indignity of competing in track meets by coming in dead last during try-out heats. My golf lessons were cut short at two when I failed to hit the ball more than three feet from the tee, but still managed to clobber my instructor in the head so hard she required hospitalization. In short, I sucked big time at sports. Nevertheless, I did spend an obscene amount of my youth in an activity called colorguard.

Trying to explain what colorguard is to people who’ve never actually seen it is a lot like trying to explain that you’re not really insane even though you’re wearing a straitjacket and are locked in a padded cell. Here it is in a nutshell: you take a group of kids, mostly girls, although occasionally a very brave (or stupid) boy will risk severe beatings and will also join in on the fun. You teach them to throw around objects that very closely resemble – but are not actually – sabers, rifles, and flags. This, of course, is very stupid and many of your kids will inevitably get hit with these fake weapons. You expect that, so you yell at them when they cry that it doesn’t hurt all that much, “and quit yer bitchin’.” You then teach them to do throw their dangerous objects around while moving in various patterns, usually while dancing. For some reason, this is called “marching.” It really should be called “child abuse.” Regardless. Next, you put them in “uniforms” which are, in reality, cheap, handmade costumes designed to provide hundreds of humiliating photos for friends and relatives to laugh breathlessly over for decades. Finally, you send them off to gyms throughout the region for the entire winter to perform in front of baffled audiences and judges in competitions. These judges will give scathing, tape-recorded critiques which are then listened to at the next practice in order to improve  performances and crush spirits. At the end of the “season,” half of your kids will have come to their senses and realized this colorguard nonsense is a time-consuming load of rat turds, and will subsequently quit. The remaining morons will sweat away over a new routine and do it all again next year.

There. That’s colorguard. Make sense? No? Well, I’m not surprised: I did the damn sport for nearly a decade and I never really got it either.

I really did enjoy colorguard, though I can’t quite understand why. I was never any good at it and most of the other girls involved thought I was totally weird. Still, the natural ham in me would not be repressed and, as I got older, I got to travel to strange, beautiful places like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Dayton, Ohio for competitions. Of course, we couldn’t afford airfare, so travel was usually conducted via school buses deemed unfit for usual service, but more than good enough for carting kids halfway across the country. You’ve never lived until you’ve driven 16 straight hours in a rickety yellow school bus with fifteen other irritable and hyperactive teenage girls.

When I was eleven, the instructors of my guard, for reasons I’m still trying to figure out, appointed me captain. Maybe they were hoping that the rest of the guard would try to kill me off in the vicious power-struggle that is CYO-based sports. I don’t know. Anyway, I took my responsibilities as captain very seriously. These included yelling out obscenities to rival guards while they performed (which I was very good at) and performing a very small, but necessary solo in the actual performance (which I was not so good at). This solo required me to stand in a tightly packed circle of other guard members, and throw a high, lofty triple, which, as you might expect, requires the piece of equipment to turn three times in the air before it is caught. It’s a relatively easy toss, one I had been doing well enough for about two years by that point, and so, of course, I dropped the damn thing nearly every chance I got. What made it worse was that I didn’t simply drop my saber, but I also managed to take out nearly every other member of my guard while doing it. I have no idea what happened – one minute, I’m smiling happily, ready to charm the crowd with my grace, skill, and consummate leadership abilities, and the next, my saber is an Instrument of Death, whirling uncontrollably through the air, defying the laws of physics, and smashing all those who dare cross its path. I had become a pre-pubescent Attila the Hun in gold spangles and fluffy hair. It was terrible. I spent most of that year apologizing to my bruised and bleeding friends who never looked at me the same way again.

I probably should have taken the obvious hint that throwing heavy objects in the air and catching them without injuring people was not for me, and yet I continued doggedly along well into my teenage years. Finally, when I was seventeen, my back decided that my brain had clearly gone on holiday and was not going to make the rational decision to quit before I killed someone. Back therefore took matters into its own hands (do backs have hands?) and responded by going into a semi-permanent series of excruciating spasms that made exotic activities like walking or sitting in a chair unbearably painful. I think it was cosmic payback for all the pain I had (unwillingly, I promise!) inflicted on others. So, with a touch of sadness, I hung up my golden spangles and my Saber of Death and retired from my glorious athletic career. The colorguard community has been thanking its lucky stars ever since.

I still think back fondly on my colorguard years and wonder whether I had been hitting a crackpipe every night for all that time. I can’t really come up with any other explanation for why I competed in the damn sport for as long as I did. Still, it gave me some great memories and I learned a neat party trick: give me an umbrella or a broom, and I can’t help but start spinning the damn thing while friends and acquaintances look on, intrigued and mildly impressed. Until, of course, I inevitably hit someone or break something. Then they demand I stop and threaten to call the police. It’s a rich life I lead, all thanks to colorguard!


Letting YouTube Do My Work For Me

Awwww:

Enjoy it while it lasts, parents. You know in about fifteen years, these two are going to be chasing after each other with baseball bats, wrestling in mud, and giving each other wedgies at their high school prom.


Hell Week

Contrary to popular belief, I actually do have a life outside this blog. Granted, it’s nowhere near as exciting or monetarily-rewarding (go ahead and digest the pathetic implications of that little statement), but it is there, nonetheless, and occasionally I have to pay attention to it. To wit: I have an essay due for my option paper this week, a dissertation chapter to finish, a half dozen jobs to apply for, short humorous bits to submit to magazines (I do love rejection), and many of my friends are starting to complain they haven’t seen me in weeks and are wondering if I’m either dead or in jail. This means, dear reader, that you can’t expect too much from Weekly Shocks over the next few days. I really am very sorry: try not to commit suicide in your bottomless despair. Please know I still love all of you tenderly and will be thinking of you in my heavy moments of toil. (Except for that one guy: you I don’t like at all. Scram, lumpy!)

Feel free to poke around ye olde archives if you like. Better yet, check out people who are way, way funnier than I could ever hope to be. I’ve mentioned the good folks over at RiffTrax more than once, and despite the fact that Bacon Month is over (and shamefully over, too), their blog is still something I visit everyday for a chuckle or three. Plus they sell wonderfully funny, often biting commentaries to movies you probably thought were utter, overrated crap, so do pay them a visit and let the healing begin.

For more instant gratification, there’s always YouTube, even if it has been decimated by Viacom Nazis lately. I discovered Jim Gaffigan there recently. Why the hell haven’t I heard of him before, you might ask? Keep in mind I don’t leave my room for weeks on end and still regularly date checks and essays as 1998, so I’m really not up to speed on all the latest trends out there. Still, maybe you haven’t heard of him either? Haha, you loser! Go fix that. He’s brilliantly funny and pretty clean, too, a nice change-up in the world of stand-up comedy.

Hope that helps you through the dark times, my pets. Kisses and hugs to you all! See you soon! Unless I die first! Then, who knows?!


Confidential: To The Guy Who Found My Blog By Searching WordPress For the Word ‘Buttcrack’

I trust you found what you were looking for? *wink wink*


An Easy Five-Step Guide To Being a Total Asshat Behind the Wheel

Furry creature with road rage. Weekly Shocks' themes must be preserved.

Furry creature with road rage. Weekly Shocks' themes must be preserved.

I know you folks are busy and times are tough right now. Money’s tight, jobs are scarce, M. Night Shyamalan keeps making bad movies. With all your worries, you probably don’t have time to devote to being more of a jerk in your car than your massive ego and entitlement issues already allow. It’s really hard to cross that threshold from being a run-of-the-mill incompetent shitheel of a driver into the grand, rarefied world of TOTAL ASSHAT BEHIND THE WHEEL. Maybe I can help.

How am I qualified to help you? Well! Frankly, I think there’s no one better to offer bad driving tips than I am, folks! I grew up in Boston, which breeds horrifyingly scary drivers in dark alleys by the boatload. I live in England, where people are so confused by the mechanics of driving that they don’t even know the correct side of the road to have their never-ending series of multi-car pileups on! Furthermore, I don’t have a car. I don’t have a license. Hell, I don’t even know how to drive! I was the kid who got stuck in the corner fifteen seconds after getting on Bumper Car rides and then spent the rest of the time sobbing while inebriated fifteen-year-olds smashed me into a nice case of whiplash!

So follow my easy five-step guide, and you, too, can be a TOTAL ASSHAT BEHIND THE WHEEL!

Step One: Get a giant car. A monster of a car. A car that will scare small children and environmentalists alike! Gas-guzzling SUVs and Hummers are the logical options, but if you want to be a TOTAL ASSHAT BEHIND THE WHEEL you need to stand out in a crowd, and, let’s face it: the Hummer-driving dipshit is SO 2003. I recommend getting a souped-up Army tank. You may run into some trouble procuring one from a legitimate “car dealership,” but hey! You’re an asshat and only the dirty, unwashed masses get their cars from conventional sources, right?! Screw ’em! Fly on over to North Korea and order up your own personalized turbo-powered tank. Make sure it has a designer license plate that reads HOTSH1T or MGHTYD1CK as well.

Step Two: Tailgate with extreme prejudice. If that minimum wage-earning toolbox driving the Kia in front of you can’t take the pressure, give him a bump! Hell, you’ve got your tank-car, so your sweet ride can handle it. Oh, and if that tree-hugging freak happens to have one of those pathetic “Baby On Board” signs, bump him extra hard!! You can’t have these weirdos breeding! Take care of that business now, son, and eliminate the runt!

Step Three: Have at least two cell phones in use at all times. The peons all seem to have one these days, and you need to use special methods of showing how important you are! On one cellphone, you should be texting stock figures and firing your underlings and breaking up with one night stands! On the other, call everyone in your address book! Everyone! And make sure you’re screaming at them, mostly about how important you are! If, for whatever reason, your asshat-ishness has limited the number of people you can scream at on a cell phone, use your free hand to chug an overpriced coffee from Starbucks. Or, better yet, take nips from a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Step Four: Cut people off with impunity. If anyone dares to object, pop him the finger and scream the most horribly filthy profanity you can imagine until veins pop out on your meaty, bloodshot face. Take a break from texting to wave a wooden baseball bat menacingly so people know you’re not one to f*ck with.

Step Five: Never, ever, ever use your turn signal to actually signal turns. It’s a sign of weakness and it gives lesser people information on where you’re going. The only time your turn signal should be on are during sixteen-mile stretches down highways with multiple exit options you have no intention on taking. Having your signal on keeps those proles around you muddle-brained and nervous, and that’s exactly how they should be, damn it!

Adhere to these easy rules and sprinkle them all with just a little extra hatred and unbridled rage each day, folks! In no time, you, too can be A TOTAL ASSHAT BEHIND THE WHEEL!


I Can Has Giant Bum Crushing Me Now?

ahhh

Yesterday, my sister told me I was “the hugest dork in the entire world” and also suggested that a blog post about insane morons who text while driving would be a smashing good idea. I can’t argue with either statement, but today I ran across this story, and knew that asshats in cars would just have to wait. Apparently Weekly Shocks is becoming an oasis of small, furry creatures. Reminds me of my brain.