Archives For Random thoughts

The baby squirrel

January 30, 2013 — 218 Comments

It happened on my way home from work one summer night.  I was around the corner from my building.  There were about eight people crowded around a spot on the sidewalk.  I went to investigate.  They were all staring at this little creature, no more than 2 inches long, barely moving.  I couldn’t tell what it was.  A baby rat?  A baby mouse?  Then I heard someone say it was a baby squirrel who had fallen from his nest.  Apparently the squirrel’s nest was on a fire escape several floors above us.

Everyone was just standing there.  Nobody was doing anything to help this poor little thing.  Some evil bastard suggested that someone should stomp on it to put it out of its misery.  I didn’t know what to do but I was furious at how everyone just stood there, staring.  I wanted to scream at all of them:  “What the fuck is wrong with all of you??  This is a living creature who needs help!!”  I don’t remember what I actually said, but I yelled something as I shoved people out of my way to get to the squirrel.  I had some tissues with me and I gently picked him up and wrapped him up in the tissues to keep him warm.  He was so light.  His eyes weren’t open but he moved every so often.

So there I was with this injured baby squirrel.  Now what?  I frantically searched for a working pay phone (this was 1999, pre-cell phone days).  When I found one, I called the ASPCA.  I spoke with a very nice woman who apologetically explained that they didn’t accept squirrels.  I asked if she could suggest somewhere else, but she didn’t know of a place that might be able to help.  By this time I was almost hysterical and I was crying.  I didn’t want this baby squirrel to die.

Then I saw a woman who lived in my building.  She said, “Oh, you know who helps squirrels?  Bernie Goetz.”  Bernie Goetz???  The Subway Vigilante??  The guy who shot some would-be muggers on the subway back in 1984?  My neighbor said Goetz lived nearby and that he was known for rescuing squirrels.  Who knew?  I needed to get his phone number.  Back to the phone booth.

While I was on the line with the operator, I noticed that the baby squirrel had stopped moving.  I looked more closely at him and realized that he was gone.  I thanked the operator and hung up.

I suppose I wasn’t really surprised that the little guy died.  I don’t know how far he fell, but it was far enough that his injuries would have been severe.  I had hoped to get help to him in time, but I couldn’t.  At least he wasn’t alone at the end.  Even if it was a giant creature holding him in a tissue in her hand, he wasn’t alone.

I walked over to Washington Square Park and found a nice tree.  I dug a small hole and buried him.  I’m so sorry, little squirrel.  I wanted so badly to save you.  I’m so sorry you fell from your nest.  I hope you didn’t suffer too much.  I tried, I really did.

I said a little prayer over the tiny grave and cried all the way home.

A great injustice

January 18, 2013 — 221 Comments

I need to tell you about something that has bothered me for a long time.  It’s something that makes me want to start a grassroots movement to raise awareness and sensitivity about it so that people aren’t so quick to stereotype and condemn.  We all make snap judgments; it’s natural.  But we need to remember that our first impressions are not necessarily the truth.

I became aware of this particular issue when I was in high school.  I went to see Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Great movie, even though Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan really is the best one.  This is the scene that triggered my epiphany.  Watch and listen closely:

Did you catch the accent on the one guy?  I’m sure it’s supposed to be New York.  The actor does a really crappy New York accent, but it’s evocative enough that I get the point.  He’s a blue-collar worker, so he has a blue-collar accent to match.  Despite the fact that this movie is set in San Francisco.

The other day I was watching a rerun of NCIS.  The episode involved mob guys in Virginia.  They had New York accents.  (Does the Mafia even operate down south?  I have no idea.)

Fonzie?  Motorcyle-riding greaser in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  New York accent.  Same for Lenny & Squiggy, Carmine, Laverne, and Mr. Di Fazio.  Apparently dumb punks and Italians have New York accents regardless of where they live.  It could have been the influence of Garry Marshall, a New Yorker with an accent so thick you could slice it, but still.

I won’t even get into all the other movies, TV shows, and commercials where the cop, bus driver, cab driver, construction worker, waitress, criminal, hooker, or [fill in your favorite non-white collar worker here] have New York accents—no matter where they’re supposed to take place.  You’re casting for a movie where one of the characters is a two-bit thug?  Make sure he sounds like he’s from Brooklyn, even though the film is set in Texas.

Everyone associates a New York accent with a certain type of person, with a certain socio-economic level and intelligence level.  People do it with other accents too—the southern accent, for example.  But southern accents aren’t often deployed like that in shows or movies set in non-southern areas.  (Or maybe they are and I just haven’t noticed them as much.)  And over the past 50 years we’ve had four presidents with southern accents: LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and W.  Not one who sounds like Joe Pesci.

I mean, there’s nothing at all wrong with doing blue-collar work, but we can do other things credibly too, you know.  Imagine hearing a hardcore New Yorker take the Oath of Office as president, saying, “So help me Gawd”?  Doesn’t that instill massive amounts of confidence?  Wouldn’t you go all dreamy and swoony if you saw a production of Romeo and Juliet in which the two main actors spoke the Queens English?  Just think of how reassured you would be by a doctor who spoke in a Bronx lilt: “Ya got KEEAN-suh butcha gonna be foin.”

So please, the next time you hear a New Yorker talk and automatically think, “What an imbecile,” remember that we’re people too.  It’s just a matter of appreciating the unique beauty and music of our cadences.  As Shakespeare said, If you prick us, do we not say, “What the fuck, asshole?”  If you tickle us, do we not say, “Whaddaya doin’a me, knockit ooowahff”?  If you poison us, do we not say, “Shit, what the fuck didja put in here?”  And if you wrong us, shall we not cut you?  If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.  Fuhgeddaboutit.

Demons and ghosts

November 16, 2012 — 169 Comments

(This is not a post about actual demons or ghosts, by the way, sorry.)

There must be something in the air/water/pixels these days.  Maybe it’s the colder weather, less daylight, the upcoming holidays, or a combination of things.  But everyone seems to be having a particularly rough time lately.  Depression, anxiety, life problems, etc.  Other bloggers have eloquently described their own struggles lately, and I wanted to be one of the cool kids so now I’m taking my turn.  I’m not writing this to elicit sympathetic comments; I’m doing it for myself, as an act of defiance, as it were.

We all carry demons and ghosts with us.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The thoughts that cause us to doubt, fear, flee, self-destruct, etc.  The memories of awful events that cause us pain each time we recall them.  They live in our brains.  Some are louder than others, some are more powerful than others.

My demons have been with me for as long as I can remember.  Some have taunted me since I was very young, others have popped up only sporadically over the years.  The ghosts of people and experiences from my past appear over and over as if they were still real, to remind me of the awful things have happened—and could happen again.

Not long ago, I realized that these demons and ghosts, as destructive as they are, have been trying to protect me—in their own twisted way.

Don’t talk about yourself.  Distract people.  If they got to know you, they’d be disappointed.  It will only hurt you.

Don’t draw attention to yourself.  It will only make people aware of your flaws.  And they’ll end up hurting you.

If you take a risk and stick your neck out, you’ll just get your head cut off.  Don’t do it.

Everyone else is smarter, funnier, more interesting, more successful, prettier, thinner, and generally better than you are.  You need to remember this so you won’t be disappointed when you’re rejected.

This person reminds me of So-and-So for some reason.  Remember how he/she hurt you?  So stay away from this one so you don’t get hurt again.

When someone is mean to you or leaves you, it’s probably your fault somehow.  It’s not them, it’s you.  The only solution is to stay away from people so bad things don’t happen.

Remember that time?  This is just like that.  Get out of this before something bad happens again.

See what I mean?  They’re vicious.  But they’re worried about me getting hurt.  They base their information on my past experiences but they’re looking at everything through a really skewed, negative lens.  They know that telling me I’m worthless is upsetting, but they think it’s less upsetting than if I were to hear it from someone else.

I blindly obeyed them for a long, long time.  I trusted that they were keeping me safe from further pain and rejection.  It’s taken me a long time—and a lot of therapy—to look these demons and ghosts square in the eye and say, “I get what you were doing, and I think you meant well.  Thanks for trying to help me, but you have to go away now.”  They’re stubborn, though, and they don’t go quietly.  They’re also not the most rational things, these demons and ghosts.  You can’t reason with them.  The only thing you can do is forcibly evict them.

The funny thing is, if you met me in real life, chances are you wouldn’t suspect that any of this was going on in my brain.  I suspect I come across as fairly confident.  I don’t have much trouble asserting myself and I can talk to pretty much anyone.  And I really will cheerfully kick the shit out of anyone who truly deserves it.  I can do these things.  Probably because they don’t involve making myself especially vulnerable.  I guess there’s truth in the saying, “The best defense is a good offense.”

I won’t lie to you, it’s been a tough battle, exorcising these demons.  How do you assemble an arsenal to fight these little fuckers when you have “Creep” as your emotional soundtrack?  It’s not easy.  It means throwing away my entire operating system and starting from scratch, alone.  And understanding that self-protection—and self-esteem—are about building myself up and taking risks, not keeping myself down and barricading myself against things that might cause me pain.

So these days, I have to take it on faith that people aren’t scrutinizing me and cataloguing every single flaw—and if they are, then I need to tell myself that they’re the ones with the problem.  I have to remind myself that most people are basically decent and that they aren’t out to hurt me deliberately.  I have to trust that I’m okay, and that the demons are wrong.

Come to think of it, fuck you, demons.

Fuck you, bullies

October 17, 2012 — 221 Comments

NOTE: I had hoped to make this a regular Friday thing because I like the alliterative quality of Fuck You Friday, but I haven’t been able to stick to a regular schedule so far.  Therefore, I declare today to be Fuck You Fwednesday.
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Hey, assholes.  Yeah, you.  The scumbag who likes to belittle people.  The stuck-up bitch who trashes other chicks right to their faces.  The mean kid who makes fun of his classmates.  I’m talking to you.

You people are everywhere.  You’re a fucking plague.  I’ve read too many heartbreaking stories about children and teenagers being bullied for one reason or another.  Do you find it rewarding to pick on those who are smaller, weaker, or different?  Is it that much fun to gang up on someone and spread nasty rumors about them?  Does it truly satisfy you to taunt a person until they cry?  Or worse, until they have a nervous breakdown or commit suicide?  Do you think it makes you powerful?  It doesn’t.  It makes you vile subhuman filth.

The same goes for your adult counterparts. Internet trolls who get their rocks off by posting rude and insensitive remarks.  Facebookers, bloggers, and tweeters who target and mock others for entertainment.  Mean-spirited fucks who enjoy embarrassing their colleagues publicly.  Toxic bosses who are verbally abusive to their staff.  The foul vermin who bully their spouses or partners. What the fuck is your problem?  Obviously you haven’t grasped that you can’t become superior by cutting someone else down.  Here’s a news flash for you: not only does it not make you superior, it also makes you lesser people, you fucking cowards.

I was bullied when I was young.  I was shy and I was afraid of a lot of things.  I was also not an attractive child.  To make matters worse, I was the tallest one in my class, and the only one who had glasses and braces at the age of 9.  I may as well have had a bullseye painted on my forehead.  Terrible things were said to me.  My classmates teased me unmercifully.  Grownups made cruel, judgmental comments.  I was physically confronted by bullies a few times too, and it sucked.  Being a target because I was funny looking was bad enough; I can’t imagine how traumatic it is for kids who are victimized because of their color, religion, socio-economic level, or sexual orientation, or because of a handicap or other physical differentiation.

I’m not that shy, scared kid anymore.  As an adult, I feel very strongly about about confronting and stopping bullies.  You’re like cancers—you spread everywhere and you need to be cut off in your tracks.  I’m not a mother, and you should be glad about that because I would be your worst nightmare if you ever picked on my kid.  As it is, I am insanely protective of my friends and family.  If you take a potshot at someone I care about, I WILL COME AFTER YOU.  If you so much as say ONE WORD out of line about any of my loved ones, you will hear from me. I’m not kidding.

I don’t care if you had an unhappy childhood.  I don’t give a shit if you feel powerless and frustrated.  Under other circumstances, I might have compassion for you.  But if you choose to take out your misery and anger on someone with even less power, you forfeit any right to sympathy as far as I’m concerned.  Justifying your actions by blaming your home life or your upbringing makes as much sense as serial killers who target victims who look like their mother, or wife, or the first woman who ever dumped them.  The problem is YOU, motherfuckers.  Look at yourselves for a change, you spineless losers.  Look at what your actions have wrought.  Nothing good, right?  Think about that for a while.

Fuck you, you hate-filled jackals.  Fuck you and your twisted need to hurt others.  I don’t even have to wish ill on you—all I have to do is hope that you get what you deserve, because karma will be a vicious bitch.

You’ve no doubt heard of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the bowels.  My heart goes out to people with Crohn’s because it can be very debilitating and difficult to live with.

However, there’s another condition with a very similar name, and this is the one I want to talk about today.  It’s not easy to discuss, but I need to face my fears and tell my story.

My friends, I suffer from Crone’s disease.  I don’t have full-blown Crone’s yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

Medical literature on the subject is scant; patients generally present with very vague signs and symptoms.  Because there are no tests for Crone’s, proper diagnosis can be made only when the disease is already advanced.

I vividly remember when I noticed the first symptom.  I was at a bar and the music was really loud.  Probably no louder than the music at other bars I had been to, but on this night the volume really bothered me.  I was seized by the overwhelming urge to tell the bartender to “turn down that fucking noise.”  This was accompanied by a strong desire to reflect loudly and at length on how much better the music was when I was in high school and college and how “bands today all sound the same.”

I had never experienced anything like that before.  It scared me.

Several years later, another alarming symptom reared its ugly head.  I was out with some friends.  We had a great time carousing but after so much debauchery I needed to call it a night.  I looked at my watch.  It was 11pm.  That can’t be right, I thought.  It’s got to be around 4am.  My watch must have stopped.  How could this be, that after only a few hours I was tired and wanted to go home?

I didn’t know it then, but I was in the early stages of Crone’s.

Other symptoms emerged recently. Not long ago I used the phrase, “Kids today have NO IDEA.”  I sometimes mutter under my breath at loud groups of young’uns in their 20s and 30s.  And when people discuss celebrities, I frequently have no clue who they’re talking about.  Blake Lively?  Who’s he?

I babble about how U2 was really great “back in the day.”  I bemoan the fact that people born in the 80s and 90s are co-opting The Breakfast Club and calling it a movie for their generation.  Yeah, well, I’ve got news for you, you little punks:  you can’t possibly know what it was really like back then.  I was there, bitches.  So why don’t you just run along and play with your Xbox or something?

Doctors don’t talk about prognosis when it comes to people with Crone’s.  But I’m not stupid.  I know what’s in store for me.

“Get off my lawn, you rotten kids!”

I’ll start saying “I’m too old for this shit” more often.  My joints will make odd cracking noises, like an old house settling.  It will take me ten minutes to get up after sitting on the floor.  Certain foods will no longer agree with me but I’ll insist on eating them anyway and complaining when my stomach hurts and I can’t sleep.  My glasses will crap out and I’ll be forced to read stuff by holding it either really far away or right in front of my eyes.

I won’t even get into the visible manifestations of Crone’s disease because they’re too numerous and horrifying.  But I will say this: grey hair is associated with an increased risk of Crone’s.  As you know, I already have a touch of hag.  My future is grim.  Eventually I’ll have to accept my fate.

For those of you who think you might have Crone’s, please know you’re not alone.  You shouldn’t suffer in silence.  Instead, you should bitch and moan to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.  It’s the only way.

Welcome to my first music post.  Let’s dive right in, shall we?

You may have heard of the song “Gloomy Sunday,” which has the dubious distinction of also being known as “The Hungarian Suicide Song.”  It was said that the song was so depressing that it drove people to kill themselves.  Fortunately this is just another urban legend—I will not expose you to any dangerous music here.

I learned of this haunting song only recently, but I quickly became obsessed with it.  This is the original instrumental version.  Hungarian composer Rezső Seress wrote it in 1932.  If the melody alone didn’t evoke feelings of sadness, then the lyrics, added later, probably helped:

Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless
Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thoughts of ever returning you
Wouldn’t they be angry if I thought of joining you?
Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there’ll be candles and prayers that are said I know
But let them not weep, let them know that I’m glad to go
Death is no dream, for in death I’m caressing you
With the last breath of my soul, I’ll be blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart dear
Darling I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you how much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday

Right??  The only thing that would have made it more heartbreaking is if it had been written in D minor.  Because as we all know, D minor is the saddest of all keys.

This song has been covered by many, most notably the legendary Billie Holliday.  Bless her heart, Lady Day could have taken a TV jingle and turned it into a gin-soaked dirge of despair.

More recent entries include versions by Björk, Sinéad O’Connor, and Portishead.  I like all three.  I’m fascinated by the differences in musical arrangement and vocal interpretation.  (Sarah McLachlan recorded a version too but I’m not going to link to it; we all know her songs can make you miserable so let’s just move along.)

Then I saw that Elvis Costello also covered this song.  I have no idea how I missed that.  I love love love Elvis Costello.  Always have.  I lost count of how many times I saw him in concert.  I had a copy of the poster at left—it was with me through high school, college, grad school, and beyond.  Finally I retired it only because it got too torn and ratty looking.

So when I listened to his rendition, I expected to be blown away.  But I was underwhelmed.  It was nothing special.  It was perfunctory.  It could have been—and should have been—an emo masterpiece.  I thought it would sting and ache with the kind of emotion he packed into “I Want You” and “Riot Act.”  Alas, it did not.

My beloved Declan Patrick MacManus evidently didn’t quite grasp how he and this song were custom-made for each other.  And this was back when he was still AWESOME—before Diana Krall ruined him (you can go ahead and add Diana Krall to the list of Canadian Musicians Who Have Ruined the World, by the way).  I’m not sure how he managed such an epic fail.

So I was ecstatic to discover a cover that’s much better.  To me, it’s what Elvis Costello’s version should have been.  Massive props to Pat DiNizio and the Smithereens for nailing it.  I’ve played this so many times over the past several weeks that it will probably become a permanent soundtrack in my brain.

And without further ado, I present for your consideration this gloriously gloomy song:   The Smithereens – Gloomy Sunday

Fuck you, pantyhose

September 24, 2012 — 160 Comments

I plan on having a new “Fuck you” post every Friday, but this post had to be postponed from last Friday because of the blogging duel.  So better late than never.

This is a post mainly for the ladies, although there may be some male readers who have had first-hand experience with pantyhose.  That’s cool, I don’t judge.  But if you’re not one of those gentlemen, this post will probably be of little interest.  So for your enjoyment, I offer this classic:

And now for today’s “Fuck You.”

I loathe you, pantyhose.  You come in only two sizes:  Elephant Leg and Death Grip.  They both suck ass.  You have no redeeming features.  NONE.  You’re hot and sweaty, even in the winter.  You haven’t the slightest idea how to fit.  You pinch, bind, constrict, sag, bunch, and twist up inexplicably . . . why don’t you just jam bamboo strips under my fingernails, you hateful little shit?

And you know the worst thing about you, you stupid hose?  You’re weak and pathetic.  I can put on a brand-new pair of you and you start to run immediately.  I might be able to distract you briefly with a dab of clear nail polish, but invariably you freak out and run somewhere else.  Sometimes you spontaneously form giant holes just for funsies.  Thanks for wasting my money, you fucking losers.  I lost count of how many mornings you made me late for work, how many times you caused me to curse uncontrollably, how many times I wanted to rip you into shreds, set you on fire, and dump your ashes in that mystery liquid on the subway tracks.

Here’s how much you suck: criminals wear you over their heads so people can’t tell what they look like.  So you’re either directly causing harm by inflicting massive discomfort and misery when we wear you, or you’re indirectly causing harm by aiding and abetting felons.  Good job, assholes.

You’re proof that if there is a God, he’s definitely male.  Because a female God would never have allowed you to exist.  You are to humans what Windows is to PC users—we hate you, but we use you because we don’t have many alternatives.  I pray for the day when women everywhere realize how horrific you are and decide to banish you from the face of the earth.  You deserve it.  You’ve enraged us long enough.

Fuck you, you odious pieces of nylon.  Fuck you a lot.

[Disclaimer: This is not aimed at my Republican buddies here, who are intelligent, thoughtful human beings.  This is for the members of the GOP who are hell-bent on fomenting hatred and encouraging discrimination, among other things.  Anyone who is offended by this, however, is exactly the type of person I’m referring to below and should be offended.]

[Note: I’m not generally a politics person.  I will probably never write another political post, so I wanted to make this one count.  I’m coming out swinging.  I might lose some readers, and that’s okay.]

Hey, wingnuts.  You don’t know me but you hate me.

I’m from New York City.  To you guys, that’s just another name for Sodom.  Y’all hate us city slickers because we’re not honest, hard-workin’, church-goin’, “real” Amuricans.  Yet my city, along with 3,000 people, took a big hit for you 11 years ago.  Fuck you.

I believe that a person’s race, religion, or sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  You, on the other hand, cloak yourselves in your “Christian faith” and use it to justify your perverse views on humanity.  And you’re fine with people enjoying freedom—as long as they’re white, Christian, and heterosexual, and as long as they think exactly as you do.  You’re fucking hypocrites.

I care about the earth.  I know global warming is real.  I oppose drilling in the Arctic, fracking, and everything else that messes with our fragile environment.  I support the Kyoto Protocol and I’m ashamed that we are one of the few nations not to ratify it.  You hate that hippie shit.  As long as you make more money, who cares what happens to the planet, right?   You clueless fucking idiots.

I’m a woman.  I’m everything you dislike in a woman, too.  I am child-free by choice.  I didn’t take my husband’s last name.  I have my own career.  I believe all women should be able to live without the government dictating what we can and cannot do with our bodies.  You think we should be smacked around and put back in our place.  A lot of you don’t even seem to believe rape is a real crime.  That’s how much you hate us.  Fuck you, you sick misogynist bastards.

I say women should have equality in the workplace and get equal pay for doing the same work as men.  You hate that idea with a passion.  Let me tell you something, wingnuts.  The first women in my family to work outside the home were my grandmothers.  They were working their asses off when Lilly Ledbetter was still just a gleam in her daddy’s eye.  My grandmothers worked because they had to.  One of my grandmothers was an immigrant from Sicily.  You would have hated her just for that.  The other was a Rosie the Riveter—she worked at Fairchild Camera, manufacturing bomb sights and reconnaissance camera equipment for the war effort. (You’re welcome.)  They had difficult lives and few options.  Today, American women have opportunities that my grandmothers couldn’t even have dreamed about.  And you can’t handle the fact that women are now outclassing you and challenging your authority, can you?  Fuck you, you deserve it.

One of our greatest Republican presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, was a champion of women’s rights.  He also spoke out against racism.  His unorthodox views didn’t endear him to a lot of people, but he was a very forward-thinking guy.  I suspect that if he were alive today, he would have been just as open-minded on the subject of gay rights.  Meanwhile you halfwits are trying to drag us back to much darker times.  You’re a disgrace—not just to the Republican party, but to the whole country.  TR would kick your sorry asses back to the Stone Age.  Fuck you.

You disgust me.  You’re vile, arrogant, and pathetic.   I hate how you’ve given my country and my people such an awful reputation around the world.  Because the Americans I know—immigrant, American-born, gay, transgender, hetero, black, white, Latino, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, whatever—are decent, kind, open-hearted souls.  They’re better Americans and human beings than you will ever be.

You’ve rewritten history to suit your agendas.  You’ve twisted the truth to such an extreme that it’s not even recognizable anymore.  Some people say you’re insane.  I disagree.  You’re not insane, you’re just evil.

The only good thing is that the more you talk, the more you reveal yourselves as hate-filled, ignorant troglodytes.  And the more that happens, the more people will want to stop you.  Because you need to be stopped.  You need to go back to your caves and pick bugs off each other, and leave my country alone.

Fuck you.  Fuck you all.

As many of you know, I’ve heard dead people.  I’ve heard them here, here, and also here.

So now I’d like to tell you about some of the peculiar occurrences in the Weebles house that didn’t involve hearing the voices of disembodied people.  These have all involved electronic devices of some sort.

It started last summer.  One day I came home from running errands and went into the bedroom.  I turned on the light but it didn’t go on.  I figured the bulb had burned out so I put in a new bulb.  Still, no light.  WTF?  It had worked fine that morning.

I figured maybe there was a problem with the outlet.  I went to unplug the lamp so I could try it in another outlet, but that’s when I saw that the lamp was already unplugged.  It hadn’t been unplugged that morning.  And it’s not as if the cats could have knocked it out; the plug fit too snugly in the socket for that.  Whatever, I plugged the lamp back in and that was that.

Until the next day.  The television was on and I was puttering around the house.  I had my back turned to the television when I heard it turn off and then back on again.  I was nowhere near the remote control, nor were the cats.  And there was no evidence that the cable box had reset itself like it sometimes does.

Things were calm for several weeks after that.  Then one night we were sitting in the living room and our Roomba suddenly turned on.  Again, no cats nearby.  Mr. Weebles checked it out and everything seemed to be fine.  No obvious reason it should have switched on.

A few weeks later, I was in bed reading before going to sleep.  When I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I saw that the bathroom light was on.  I know for a fact that the bathroom light was off when we went to bed that night.  And once again, it wasn’t something one of the cats could have done.

Other electronic oddities: Once, while I was watching television, the channel changed by itself.  Nobody was near the remote.  And twice, random apps on my phone mysteriously started up while the phone was sitting on the table next to me.

But my favorite was when I found my laptop and mouse neatly set up on the coffee table one morning.  I had left everything in disarray the night before because I was really tired—I just plopped the laptop, mouse, and all the cords on the table in a pile and went to bed.

These events occurred over the span of a few months.  And just as abruptly as they started, they stopped.  We haven’t had any further activity since last fall.

To this day I have no idea what it was all about.  I never felt a strange presence in the house during those times, never had the feeling someone was there.  I was more amused than creeped out by these strange happenings, but Mr. Weebles wasn’t quite so amused.  He’s glad things are back to normal, but I have to admit that I kind of miss it.

As many of you know, I’ve heard dead people.  So I’m thinking of turning this into a full-time gig, complete with fortune-telling.  I figure as a psychic reader I can really work the wild curly hair thing and wear outlandish, exotic, low-cut outfits that show off the girls.  Plus, with “Madame Weebles” I’ve already got a good name for this shtick.

The problem is, a lot of the traditional tools used for fortune-telling are pretty old.  It’s about time we updated some of these divining methods to be more in keeping with our modern lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a nice pot of tea brewed with loose leaves.  I’m sure tea leaves make all sorts of interesting shapes and patterns in the bottom of a person’s cup.  But if you can predict a person’s future by reading tea leaves, surely you can do the same thing by reading formations in bath salts.  Bath salts are so much more au courant than tea leaves these days.

I see a zombie eating your face. Good luck with that.

The crystal ball is a beautiful creation—a shiny, smooth, hypnotic sphere.  But it’s a bitch to keep polished and smudge-free.  And it’s heavy.  Ever drop one of those fuckers?  It’s a great way to fracture your foot.  And I don’t even want to think about what would happen if it cracked or chipped—or shattered, God forbid.  If breaking a mirror is bad luck, can you imagine what kind of terrible juju is in store for someone who damages a crystal ball?  So why take that risk when there’s an app for that?

I see you in a—wait, hang on, I’m getting a call.

Tarot cards have been around for centuries, but they’re so cool that I don’t want to update them.  If I were to modernize card readings, though, I would use baseball cards:  “You have drawn A-Rod’s rookie card.  This signifies that you will be successful and wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, but you will also be a pathetic head case with no soul.  Everyone will hate you.”

You’re going to die alone. Sucks for you.

Now all I have to do is cultivate some sort of vague, non-specific European-sounding accent and I’m good to go.  At least I think so.  Am I missing anything?