people standing in front of wood pile

Aunt Pauline — Dec. 9, 2022


🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Familial Reflections 👪
Career Rebuild 🛠️
Andrea 📱


It’s hard to think of my Aunt Pauline as old, hard to imagine how it is that she’s just about to leave her 80s and, thus, it’s hard to understand how she could be in such poor health right now.

Aunt Pauline is Father Dearest’s older sister. She and my Uncle Frank are my godparents, which I guess should carry some weight, considering I’m technically an East Coast Italian. I don’t, however, remember having any religious conversations with them, and my uncle never whacked anyone, as far as I know. He was a NYPD detective who worked in Spanish Harlem near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. One day, this rough, gruff-sounding man found God and went onto become a deacon in the Catholic church. It never smoothed his edges, though.

Together, my godparents had eight children (see “Catholic,” above), four boys and four girls. There’s Joey, Bobby, John and Tommy, Theresa, Kathy, Delores and Carol. Joey died of cancer a number of years ago. My uncle passed away awhile back, as well.

Because of all these people and our proximity to each other while I was growing up, the typical large, loud Italian get-together was the norm for me. I literally thought all families’ events were like my family’s events.

Our Christmas ritual was to go over to Aunt Pauline’s house for Christmas dinner. We’d open gifts in a mass of people, presents and discarded wrapping paper, then eat at a table that seemed to stretch for miles and only got longer as my cousins first married, then had kids of their own. I fell in between those two groups, younger than my cousins, older than their children. I was closest in age to Tommy, but even he was a decade or so older than I am, I think.

Sometime in the summer, there’d be a huge mass birthday party. A bunch of us came into this lovely world in July and August, so there are numerous pictures of little me surrounded by Mother Dearest (born the day after me, though some years beforehand, duh) and a few of my cousins blowing out candles on a massive cake or with huge hunks of watermelon, the juices invariably spilling down my sweaty red face and onto my shirt.

So many of the stories of my youth are told with the backdrop of this family, whether it’s the time Tommy accidently whacked me in the eye while playing pool when I drove my Big Wheel a little too close to the table or the time my sister and I went to Long Beach Island, NJ, with my cousins for a week and I met a girl from Austria. She and I were innocently getting to know each other when a thunderstorm hit, and so we took cover under a deck. In the pre-cell phone days, I had no way of letting my cousins — who technically were my caregivers for the week, though they also gave me beer and taught me how to play gin — know I wasn’t dead. Carol’s husband Steve went out into the storm looking for me and pulled a hamstring in the process. Sorry Steve, but it was totally worth it.

Then I went to college. For a variety of rock-solid, really smart reasons, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to stay close to home, and I landed in Iowa. Midway through freshman year, my parents called and told me they were moving to South Carolina. A year later, their new house was finished, and I no longer had a real home to go back to. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been back to New York since then.

Because of that, I haven’t seen my aunt or my cousins in at least a decade, probably closer to two. I kept up with a few of them on Facebook for awhile, but they are either right-wing wackos or way too into the drama that I now can’t seem to stand to be around, and so it’s best for me not to see their online presence.

Which leaves me wondering what I’m feeling right now.

Mother Dearest texted me yesterday to tell me my aunt was back in the hospital. She was there a few weeks ago. The Parentals have a tendency to — how shall I put this? — not be the most reliable source on a person’s proximity to the Grim Reaper. They had my grandmother shaking his hand for more than a year before it was actually her time to go hang with him. So when they tell me things are “not good,” I tend to wait for independent confirmation. Thus far, I have received none of that from a reliable source.

Listen, Aunt Pauline is 89 years old. She’s had a magnificent life. She’s an artist — a prolific landscape painter whose home once was filled with canvas upon canvas of her creations. She’s been a singer, a community theater actress, a leader of Jazzercise classes for old people. If she decides she’s done here, hey, I’m all for that. If she’s not and has some fight left in her, more power to her.

I wrote earlier this week about my changing views on the concept of family. I understand the “supposed to’s” of this situation, that I’m supposed to be sad and I’m supposed to head to NY for a funeral should she die and cry with people who are essentially strangers and who know me less than my anonymous readers (Hey you three!) do. My family excels in after-death promises. We’re really good at talking about how we’re so glad we’re there for each other and how we’re going to keep in touch and be closer and blah blah blah. Nothing truly changes in my family. Most live by this motto of “moving forward” after conflict, but we never seem to address the roots of that conflict, so, at best, we move laterally … and then we’re somehow surprised when the same shit happens over and over and over again.

I’m done with that. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not playing anyone else’s game who is interested in doing that. I might still love most of those who do this, but I’m done. It’s childish and unproductive and just plain stupid. I am choosing to surround myself going forward with family — blood or otherwise — who is interested in being real, in addressing issues that may arise like grown-ass adults, who want to show and receive drama-resistant love.

I don’t know that anything close to that awaits me in New York, and I don’t really want to hear any more bullshit promises about what things are going to be like. Those people are strangers to me. I could walk past them on the street and they wouldn’t recognize me. That really doesn’t fit into this new definition of family, it seems.

So I hope my aunt pulls through if she wants to, and if she doesn’t, I hope she goes onto the There in peace. She’s always been a good aunt to me, and I’ve never doubted her love of me.


I’m not sure how you would feel if you received a call from your boss (a company VP) on a Friday afternoon and were asked to come down to the executive conference room. I know my first thought was, “We have an executive conference room?”

Thankfully, if you take the warehouse off this building, it’s not a huge facility, and I know where the executives’ offices are, so I used my ingenuity to find it.

What I saw when I located it was even more terrifying than the phone call. There, seated in the conference room was not only my boss but the president of the company. Next to him? The owner of the company.

Yeah. That.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for them to set me at ease. This was a happy time. The company was letting people know about their bonuses. I was under the impression I was not getting a bonus this year. I started with the company in late June, and the pre-hire documents I received told me employees aren’t eligible for a bonus until after the second year.

What the triumvirate wanted to tell me was that they’d made an exception and pushed up my eligibility due to the work I’ve done so far.

You guys, I just about lost it right then and there. And I did lose it when I walked out of the room and went outside to catch my breath.

This has been a long, long road. My career has been off track for a long time now. It started out with such promise. I was the hotshot young newspaper guy, an editor at the age of 22. Then, the industry started dying. Rapidly. It didn’t matter how good you were. What mattered was how much you cost the company and how well you could follow orders to cut costs, which meant cutting people.

So I jumped ship (way too late) and went into marketing and communications. And for awhile, that was good. A series of unfortunate events started in around 2013 or so, and things got progressively more off course from there, leading to a moment in 2019 where I was thoroughly convinced I sucked creatively and had absolutely nothing to offer.

So I took a job with Shriners Hospitals. And I loved it. There, I learned that it was just the previous stop that didn’t seem to understand my creativity. I worked hard at growing that creativity, both at work and through this website. I created characters on here like Q.F. Conseco and Paulie Magnotti and B. Goode and others, partly for shits and giggles, partly to find myself amidst all the voices in my head.

The problem was that the Shriners job was about a 25% pay cut from the job I left after signing the Thing That Does Not Exist. It was great to be creative and know it. It sucked to watch our savings disappear.

So eventually, I asked for Shriners to keep its promises of rewarding me for the work I was doing, which was being used as an example not just for St. Louis before for the entire international system. I was told that three boards would have to consider any salary increase, and my boss, who seemed to love the volume and quality of my work, made it clear she was less in love with fighting for me to be paid fairly for it.

So being on the vanguard of life like I am, I invented quiet quitting before it became a thing.

I did the work they paid me to do, stopped doing what they didn’t pay me to do and started looking for another job. And I found one, marketing real estate, with a team run by a guy who is a great salesman. He showed me his books. I asked all the right questions and I used my superpower sensory perception to try to feel my way through the situation. I looked at his forecasts. The thought was that even if they were off by a third, my quarterly bonuses still would be a huge boost for the family and we’d be able to replenish our savings.

It turns out that, even in the middle of a white-hot housing market, his forecasts were not just a third off of but were 100 percent off. There was no profit to share because, while he might be a good salesman, he knows two things about leading a team and running a business.

  1. Jack
  2. Shit

When that became clear, I didn’t hesitate and started looking to maybe perhaps get paid what independent salary data was telling me I was worth before we as a family actually ran out of money.

And that’s how I landed here. Here, they pay me a very generous base salary, with profit-sharing into my 401(k) at the end of the year. And then they go and do what they did today, which is put their money where their mouths are. They’ve been telling me I’ve been doing a good job, though much less frequently and less loudly than my previous two jobs. I’m 1 million percent cool with that when they are putting actual dollars behind their thoughts of my work.

And so today? Right now? I feel really good about myself. On top of the work I’m doing here, I’ve built up my side gig, Johnny Boy Marketing, in eight months to be a significant source of extra income. Because my day job actually lives the whole work/life balance talk, I have time to work here, do my side gig and run a household with a teenage boy at home and a 20-year-old in college.

I’m thankful — for a lot of things. I’m thankful for a supportive Wifey Poo who has gone through a lot of shit with me, who has had many reasons to not be here and even more reasons to be filled with worry over where our family was headed. She is the rock on which I have been able to rebuild my career. I know that. She knows I know that. I will never be able to thank her enough for it. She’s an amazing mother to our kids, she’s contributed income to our budget while still homeschooling the boys, and I never for one second have worried about who my kids were with while I was at work doing my thing. I am blessed.

With great humility, I’ll also say that I’m proud of myself. It has taken a lot of work to get to where I am today, personally and professionally, and very little of that work has been pretty or easy. It’s been ugly and exceedingly hard.

I made the decision a year or so ago to confront the demons I’d never admitted even existed, and I did that without much support. Doing the work made things worse for awhile. That happens. But what matters is that I did it. It has been horribly difficult, and the battle scars are seen in the gray that dominates my beard, the bags under my eyes and the growing number of wrinkles on my face.

Honestly, I don’t expect to live a long life. Everything that I’ve gone through seems to be goolgeable as a thing that lowers your life expectancy. Add them all together, and I should have been dead 10 years ago. I’m not being fatalistic. Just realistic. I hope I have many years ahead of me to enjoy the fruits of all these labors, but even if I don’t, I’m good with that. I’ve seen what awaits. The There is absolutely amazing and filled with a peace and contentment for which there are no words.

So tonight, I’m going to go home, I’m going to hug my family tight, and I’m going to do something to celebrate. I don’t know what. A cigar and a good bourbon seem in order. Maybe that’ll do.

Whenever it is my time to check out, you guys, all I want to be remembered for is as a guy who didn’t give up, despite all the shit … as a guy who never stopped trying. Someone out there want to tell me they’ll make that happen?


Life Lessons From Atherstone Ball and a Boy Named Chestnut

Top 5 Things You Will Learn If You Read This Whole Thing You can’t “Hippy” the desire to conquer land out of boys. Sometimes leadership is thrust upon us. Bob is an idiot. There’s a game played by a bunch of violent, drunk Englishmen that even Nazi bombs couldn’t stop. Even the most violent feuds…

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I spent more than an hour and a half today on the phone with customer service representatives from Bank of America and Anthem. I really don’t need to say anything more than that. You understand, right?

In the end, here’s the thing: I didn’t get the answer I wanted, and it’s going to cost me about $200 that I thought I had in my pocket. But that blow was softened a little bit by the woman with Anthem who helped me. Her name was Andrea, she told me she was in Texas, and she was really, really good.

I’ll skip all the procedural stuff, but what was best about Andrea was her professionalism, her friendliness and her ability to live her job title. She was servicing a customer who had a legitimate question. She didn’t do what so many other “customer service” people do these days, whether it’s on the other end of the phone or at the cash register of Qdoba. Those folks make you feel like your question is interrupting their day and causing them problems. Andrea took it as a mission and a problem to solve. We were a team. Shocking to no one, there were a few moments in which my frustration came through in my voice. She was quick with, “Don’t worry, Mr. John. I gotchu. I gotchu.” And she did.

When she delivered the news about the ultimate outcome, she didn’t apologize. The company has a policy, and I’m fine with that. She did explain it thoroughly and professionally and asked if I had any questions about that explanation. When we were done, she asked me if she’d answered any and all concerns I had about the issue at hand.

She had.

Well done, Andrea.


Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Gotta celebrate tonight.
  2. Metallica, Nov. 3, 2023.
  3. Date with Wifey Poo tomorrow!

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Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩‍⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…

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Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…

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Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…

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Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Dynamics 👪New Mattress 🛏️To Share Or Not To Share? ❓ Let’s say the only cracker you’ve ever eaten is a Saltine. You have no experience with any other crackers. In fact, you don’t even know that there is such a thing as other crackers. You might not love the Saltine,…

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Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…

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How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…

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School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…

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Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…

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Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…

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Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩‍⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…

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Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition

Welcome to Issue No. 9 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…

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Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨‍👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…

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Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…

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Death! Death! Death! — Oct. 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cue the Outrage 🔫Animal Extinction 🐆Eye Update 👀 Even back in the day when I considered myself a Republican (before the dark times … before the Trumpire), I never quite understood the death penalty. Perhaps it was because I looked around at the other nations that still killed people as punishment…

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Corneal Complications — Oct. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hello Darkness, My Old Friend 👀COVID Costs 🦠Jackass Jones Verdict👩‍⚖️ I’ve spent much of this week so far in forced darkness. After I wrote on Monday morning, my right eye started to get blurry. Then it got real blurry. Then it became utterly useless. In this, I have reprised my role…

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Mattress Shopping — Oct. 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awkward Shopping 🛏️Disingenuous Holiday 🗓️Help the Homeless 😔 If there’s a more awkward retail excursion than mattress shopping, I have yet to find it in my 48 years. Wifey Poo and I went to a high school gym to do exactly that on Sunday afternoon. The bed we’ve been sleeping in…

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So Long, Cards — Oct. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Playoff Disappointment ⚾Oh, Britney 📲Friendship Failure 😔 In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies…

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Playoff Baseball — Oct. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…

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There Will Be Blood — Oct. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/26-10/2

Welcome to Issue No. 8 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…

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Place Your Bets — Oct. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…

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Sliced Bread — Sept. 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…

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Rental Tank — Sept. 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…

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LinkedIn — Sept. 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹‍♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/9-9/25

Welcome to Issue No. 7 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…

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iPhone Envy — Sept. 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…

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Human Babies — Sept. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨‍👦‍👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…

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In It — Sept. 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…

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Remembering Sarah — Sept. 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…

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Small Ear Canal — Sept. 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…

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Nominee Day! — Sept. 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…

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Springfields Aplenty — Sept. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…

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F’n COVID — Sept. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…

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Change of Plans — Sept. 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…

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Why Run? — Sept. 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃‍♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…

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Stephen King — Sept. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…

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Once Upon a Time — Sept. 7, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…

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Chainsaws & Ladders — Sept. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…

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Inside a Good Day — Sept. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼‍♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…

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Second Mothers — Sept. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…

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Muricah the Crumbling — Sept. 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…

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Bratwurst Flap — August 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼‍♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…

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Baseball Serendipity — August 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…

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Failure to Launch — August 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…

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Hypnotized — August 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…

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Outrage? — August 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…

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Life Expectancy — August 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…

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Mysterious Brain — August 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…

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Homeschoolin’ — August 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…

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Mexican Pato O’Ward — August 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…

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Pig Problem — August 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…

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Three-Screen Guy — August 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…

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Orange Coffee — August 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…

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Cemetery Wandering — August 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…

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Bye-Bye, BTE — August 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨‍👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…

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The Taxman Cometh — August 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…

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