🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Familial Reflections 👪
Career Rebuild 🛠️
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.
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.
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?
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…Keep reading
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.
Well done, Andrea.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Gotta celebrate tonight.
- Metallica, Nov. 3, 2023.
- Date with Wifey Poo tomorrow!
More From ‘A Puzzle Known As Life’
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cleaning Conundrum 🪥Cube Competition 🧊Coyote Calls 🐺 My home office is a mess. I need to clean it. No, let me rephrase that: I must clean it. I absolutely must clean it. Sitting in here among all this shit is sapping my sanity. But what am I doing with the time…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grandpa King 🍌Pee Cheers 🚽Eclipse Blindness ☀️ Boy The Younger and I left the house at the ungodly-for-a-Saturday hour of 6:15 a.m. to head to his cross country meet. I reminded him that no baseball game ever requires us to get up so goddamn early. He wasn’t awake enough to have…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sight Rankings 👁️🗨️Save Mary 👩Nuggie Subscription 📧 Of our acknowledged five senses, humans rely on their sight most, I think we’d all agree. Yet when it comes down to it, we kinda suck at seeing. Sight itself is an extremely complicated process that involves neurology far above my paygrade. When you…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Homeless Help💸Where’s The Great? 👩❤️👨Best Lineup ⚾ The very few people who actually know me know I have a big heart for the homeless. Having spent time with those who have no home and actually talking with them as human beings, I’ve learned their stories and seen their struggles. That’s why…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Cards🪀Baseball Break ⚾Fat Bear 🐻 One of the joys of my childhood was collecting baseball cards. This was before the time when anyone thought they could get rich off these rectangles of cardboard. It was a simpler, less capitalistic time in my life, when the joy came from the mere…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumshit Island 🔨Big Bucks 💰Bad Attendance ⚾ Kevin McCarthy got voted off Dumbshit Island yesterday, falling out of favor with his own party in the House of “Representatives” for having the gall to compromise with people who have different beliefs from him. It reminded me very much of that time in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm Apology 🪱Liar Liar on Trial Trial 🧑⚖️Vindicated 🧬 A new study published in the journal Nature Communications — which, I don’t know about you, was what I kept hidden under my mattress when I was a teenager — found that earthworms help produce 140 million metric tons of food per…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩End of an Era 📀Tone Deaf 👂River Sharks🦈 Back in 1998, when Blockbuster was still the place to be on a Friday night, a small company shipped out a DVD of the 1988 comedy Beetlejuice, which brings us the second Michael Keaton reference in this space this week. Sometime today, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Knee Bonk ⚾Attention Attention 📱Car-B-Que 🚗🔥 In the bottom of the first inning of my baseball team’s game last night, Boy The Younger stepped to the plate. On a 1-2 count, he took a fastball directly to the knee and went down as if shot by a sniper. This is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Porta Plunge 🚽Gung Ho, Part II 🍜Mood Movies 🎞️ We have now reached the stage in societal regression in which “Police remind public not to climb in toilets” is an actual thing police have to remind the public about. Yes, you can blame this on the Michigan woman who climbed into…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Biscuit Snub 🥖Easier Cheating 😲Biden Walks 🚶 Buckle up, y’all. The News Fairies have sprinkled us with a heaping pile of funny dust today, so let’s get started. The international food site TasteAtlas published its list of the best breads in the world, and Muricah has only one spot on the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cost of Money 💸Google Oopsie 🚓Broke Ape 😢 I remember as a child being dropped off at The Deli in my hometown with a pocket full of change and big dreams. I’m sure the place had a name besides The Deli, but I have no clue what it was beyond just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩I’m An Alien 👽Political Ads 💸Bumper Sticker😊 I have lied to my children from the day they were born. I’m not just talking about the typical Santa/Tooth Fairy bullshit. I’m talking about things like, well … for example … I had Boy The Elder convinced that I once was a QB…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Magic Bear Kingdom🐻Cash For Prisoners 💸Anti-Depression Tips 😊 A bear snuck into the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World yesterday, prompting the closure of numerous rides and attractions while Florida Fish & Wildlife officers looked for it. Seems to me that the first place to look would have been the Country…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bail 💸Walk-off ⚾Under Pressure🧯 Most red-blooded Muricans who hear there’s a nation incarcerating hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians for lengthy periods of time without a trial or means to be free would say said nation should get a good hard dose of Murican democracy landing on its shores. Thankfully, it’ll…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reaching Out 🤙Go Big, Texas 📕🔥🔥🔥JFK Theory🔫 I’ve had big feelings all my life. I didn’t know until I was in my early 40s that this and a bunch of other “big” things I thought everyone experienced were actually only part of the lives of very few. Welcome to the empath…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumb Newspapers 🗞️Dumb Politician 🗳️Dumb Soda Decision🥤 I was a newspaper man when it was stunningly common for leadership to do extremely stupid things. For example, I sat in meetings where our company’s higher-ups talked glowingly about the massive, multimillion dollar printing plant it was building at the exact same time…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Minor Issue ♭Never Forget Bet 🤑Surge 🍺 Songs are sadder these days. At least, that’s according to an analysis of the Billboard Hot 100 list. Half are in a minor key — i.e. sad — up from roughly 30 percent at the turn of the 21st century and 15 percent from…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glug Glug Glug 🌊9/11 Farce 💣Men Behaving Badly🤦 I’m pretty sure artificial intelligence is going to spell the end of society as we know it. It just might not have been in the way I first thought. According to a study by researcher Shaolei Ren (not related to Kylo, to the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swallow That 🔋Hamster Ball🐹Judging Google🧑⚖️ Modern-day Muricah is set up for the lowest common denominator. We are a dumb nation full of morons who do dumb things, and because of that, capitalism responds with dumb products. Don’t believe me? I give you this: I get that kids will put just about…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drunk, Horny Raccoons 🦝Influencer B.S.🎙️Fall 🍁 Germany has a raccoon problem, and it’s all Hitler’s fault. This, I learned after seeing an article about how beer-drunk raccoons were killing pets, breaking into homes and generally being bastards in the Motherland. Which got me wondering: Why does Germany have raccoons? Turns out…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Montenegroans 🛏️Cave Conundrum 🩸Urinal reading 🚽 For more than 20 days now, people in Montenegro, which I hear is a country, have been lying down and doing nothing. This is news. As of this writing, seven contestants remain in a competition to crown Montenegro’s Laziest Citizen. The grand prize is the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poop Problem 💩Airbnb Problem 🧑⚖️Oil Problem 🚙 I want to go to Spain. I want to eat tapas in Barcelona and talk with a lisp and have a grand vacation. But I don’t want it so bad that I would have wanted to be on a Delta flight that left Atlanta…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Big Bank💰Second Glance 👀Life 🎲 The owner of OnlyFans, Leonid Radvinsky, earned more than $338 million in dividends last year, according to a financial statement obtained by People. That’s more than $1.3 million per working day based on the 20% the site keeps from women, who, among other things, let users…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ice Cream Problem🍦GOP Clarence🧑🏿⚖️Corn 🌽 At one point yesterday, more than 12% of all the ice-cream machines in McDonald’s were reported broken. I know that because the interwebs are amazing. So infamous are these machines for not doing the only thing they are here to do that some brilliant soul made…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Nebraska Volleyball 🏐Zombie Mitch 🧟Opening Day L ⚾ My first beat as a freshman college sports reporter for Drake University’s newspaper, The Times-Delphic, was the women’s volleyball team. The largest crowd I ever saw at one of their games was around 11. Last night, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers set a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Newspapers Suck 📰Tomato Chuckin’ 🍅Sad Anniversary 😔 Dignity was hard to come by in the newspaper industry back when I left it in 2009, and it hasn’t gotten any better. Sportswriters in the Evil Empire Gannett chain had to endure watching artificial intelligence attempt to cover an Ohio high school football…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grounds for Strength ☕Improved Eyesight 🤓No Phones 📴 Based on my own actions, I am not an environmentalist. This isn’t to suggest I don’t care about the environment. I do. But that doesn’t mean I go out of my way to recycle or channel my inner Greta Thunberg when making daily…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Deadman Speaks 🪦NCAA Sucks 🏈Safe Cities 🏢 I became aware of professional wrestling shortly after Wrestlemania I, which took place in March 1985. My parentals smartened me up immediately, letting me know the spike Road Warrior Animal was driving into Dusty Rhodes’ eye was not, in fact, being done out…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Why You’re Off 😷Meat 🍖Bad Flight ✈️🔥 “Sorry, boss. Can’t make it in *coughcough* today. I’m *sneezebarfsound* sick.” Today is Aug. 24, the most popular day of the year for employees to call out sick, according to a survey by PTO management software company Flamingo. At first, I couldn’t figure out…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Auto Prices🚗Heat Ball ☀️⚾Country Music 🪕 We are stupid country inhabited by stupid people. This, I have believed for a long time, and data continues to prove me right. A year or so ago, I wrote about the Seven Steps to the Dawn of Dystopia. In that, I laid out a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oink🐖Jaws 2X 🦈🦈Practice Dinger ⚾ A pig kidney implanted into a human is still working after a month. In a big step toward using animals to help ease the shortage of donated organs, the surgical team at NYU Langone that transplanted a genetically modified pig kidney into a brain-dead man (with his…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dr. Spezia✋Hawk-Snake-Woman 🦅🐍👩Opening Lines 📣 Today I get to go to the Advanced Bone & Joint office in St. Peters to have my increasingly numb left hand examined. Side note before we continue: St. Peters is the most Missourah of Missourah town names. If it’s more than out Saint Peters, it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩COVID 🖕Vroom 🏎️Gong 🤌 Wifey Poo awoke yesterday morning and had a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. We went about our days, me going to my job and her doing a variety of shuttling for children. When we met back up at our home, she still had a stuffy nose and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fuck Excel 🖕Toilet Talk 🚽Baseball = Life ⚾ I was around 8-years-old when my father taught me the precursor to Microsoft Excel. It was a database program called Lotus 1-2-3 in which you could enter information into cells with formulas to speed results. Then, he was showing me how to create…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’I’m a Christian’⛪Numb Fingers ✌️Nuclear Propaganda 💣 Here’s something of a trend I’ve noticed: The more someone professes their adherence to Christianity in non-spiritual settings, the more likely you are to have to dig their knife out of your back. Currently wiggling one free from a “Christian” baseball coach whose actions…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wifey Poo Birthday🎂Indictment Punch Card 🦹🏼Trade Deadline ⚾ Not gonna lie to you folks: Coming back to this whole writing-personal-stuff thing feels a little bit like getting back in the pool on a hot summer day after it had been cleared because the weird kid shit in it and they needed…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Return to Writing ✍️Fuck Work 🖕Ghostly 👻 I’m back! “Wait. You were gone?” Yes, I was gone! Dumbass. Didn’t you read my awesome “Goodbye” post from mid-June? “Um, no.” Well that was part of the point! No one reads this shit. So why write it? “Quick question then?” Sure. Fire away.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Farewell When I started this section of my website, where I’d write a whole bunch of creative and also personal things, I was a very different person than I am today. In so, so many ways, I was a shattered human being. I’d just gone through an extremely challenging time in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heavy Weight 🏋️Saving Seats 💔Five Stories 🖊️ There’s this one Moment every morning in which everything comes back. Maybe you have a Moment too. Sometimes, that distance between the return of consciousness and the Moment is minutes or, in extremely rare cases, hours. More often than not, the Moment comes within…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drained Energy Saving Seats 💺Right Again ✅ Honestly, I don’t feel like writing. To anyone who reads my stuff regularly on here, and I really don’t think there’s more than one or two of you, you might be aware that I haven’t felt like writing for much of the past month.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Leg Pain 😧Graduation 🎓Orca Attacks ⛵ There was a precise moment on Saturday as I was moving this broken down, underused, untended nearly 49-year-old body down the first base line of a baseball field at McNair Park in St. Charles, Missourah, that I realized I was in trouble. I was lookin’…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Porch Talk 🥃Jacket and Tie 👔Strep 🤒 I find great comfort and relaxation in sipping a glass of good bourbon or whiskey while smoking an equally good cigar. Add a beautiful night, a screened-in porch and some good company who wants to be there, and I’m in heaven. Tuesday evening, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jesus Wept 😥Good Mom, Bad Mom 👩Baseball Success ⚾ In 1990, just 7 percent of Muricans considered themselves non-religious. Today, that number has quadrupled. Depending on whom you ask, this is either a sign of our descent into earthly hell or a great awakening to the sins of the institution most…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Life Right Now 😥Classmate’s Death 😥TUP 😠 I long ago lost any semblance of the notion that life could be easy. To the best of my recollection, this shattering of innocence occurred for good somewhere in the third grade, when I was dealt my first really shitty teacher (I imagine Mrs.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Scratchy Sweater 😥Birthday Boy 🎂Fucking Facebook 😠 I think there’s a big difference between being depressed and being sad. And I think I’m qualified to talk about that difference because I’ve been both. Some say that depression is sadness that lasts, which I think discounts the true power of sadness. True…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩One in Two? ✌️Isolation 😥Really, HR? 😠 OK ladies, look to your left. Now look to your right. If you’re flanked by two men, one of them likely has been on Pornhub today. I used math today to figure that out. (Proud of me, aren’t ya, Wifey Poo?) I read a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Relays Weekend 🏃♀️Janelle 🤗No Steve 😥 Want to experience something trippy without the benefit of hallucinogens? Return to the place you met your spouse more than 30 years ago with your 20-year-old and 13-year-old sons. The Core Four took a long weekend minus My Favorite African, who was wonderfully cared for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drive to Work 🚗Drive to Home 🚗Broken System 💔 I was thinking a lot on the drive to work this morning, which isn’t necessarily anything new. I think a lot, well, a lot. Long drives are usually prime time for me to tap into my intuition and listen to what’s being…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sweet Single ⚾Car Delivery 🚗Back/Neck Fixers💆♂️ On the one-year anniversary of that time a jackass piece of crap Little League “coach” did the most un-adultlike thing I have ever seen, Boy The Younger took the field for his new team in the spring’s first tournament. He batted second and started at…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Garbage Can 🗑️Food Insecurity 🍲Poop Smell 💩 The level of significance of a particular task varies based on the time of day. This is something I realized this morning when I hauled my ass out of bed at 5:09 a.m. because of a thought that popped into my brain at 3:32…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alive vs. Living 😔Dental Thoughts 🦷Pronouns 🧑🤝🧑 I am 48 years old, and I realized something today: I have no idea how to live life. This isn’t to suggest I don’t know how to stay alive. I’m OK at that. But the finer points of relationships and communication and working my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awww, Snap 😏Office Flood 🌊Potty Mouth 🚽 Boy The Younger is like his old man in a lot of ways. One is that, if we experience something cool, we have a pathological need to have others experience its awesomeness as well. It wounds my soul when I share my music or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fuck Carvana 🚗Stupid Tooth 🦷Cave Woman 😠 I am a huge fan of the 1993 movie Falling Down. The movie stars Michael Douglas. Interesting side note: I once umpired a Little League baseball game for his son and called him out on strikes, which led to a crying temper tantrum. His,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stop Being So (Fake) Happy 😊The Better Choice ✔️Checkmate, Motherfucker ♛ I’m not exactly what anyone would call an optimist. Perhaps it’s because I see the world too clearly these days to think that we’re headed anywhere close to the right direction. Some would call me a pessimist, and I’m OK…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Brown Stockings ⚾I’m A Dentist 🦷Quick Hitters 🐅🦎 If all had gone according to plan, I’d be well into retirement and diving into my money Scrooge McDuck-style after a success career pitching for the New York Yankees. Alas, I’m sitting at my desk in Maryland Heights, Missourah, munching on carrot sticks…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Crowned 👑MFA Moment 😥AI Danger 💻 I remember as a kid getting a filling and hearing that it was real silver being put in my mouth. I figured if times ever really got tough, I could just yank out my tooth, melt the filling and buy food. Yes, these were thoughts…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Nose Woes 👃African in School 🚌Trumpster Fire 👮 The human body has a way of keeping us humble, especially as we get older. We lose hair where we want it and grow it in abundance where we don’t, we produce ear wax and eye boogers, and 99% of us should never…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tiger-Iguana 🐅🦎Cornhole Crushing 🌽Poison M&Ms ☠️ The first time I saw a commercial for the Volkswagen Tiguan, I thought it was a parody. As a marketing guy, I couldn’t fathom how an entire department of highly paid professionals could sit down at a table and decide the best name for a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Closing the Door 🚪Car Shopping🚙Fake Kid-Hater 🧒 Over the course of my life, I’ve gotten used to doing the difficult thing. This often hasn’t been by choice, and it’s never been easy. It’s simply what I’ve had to do. Whether it was facing a pregnancy in which we knew our child…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Changes and Similarities ✈️Family Drama Update 🎭Close Encounters 🤼♂️ My Favorite African (MFA) has arrived. His plane landed at Lambert International at around 1:15 yesterday, and about 15 minutes later, a kind TSA person allowed us and the woman who accompanied MFA on the flight to violate all sorts of Homeland…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D Nears ✈️Familiar Familial Drama 🎭Van O’ Canadians 🍁 My favorite African returns to us tomorrow afternoon. Dieudonne will board a plane from Philly with an escort (not THAT kind … I think, anyway), and land in the STL around 1:15. For the next three or four months, we’ll take…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩TikTok Stupidity 😠Back Woes 😧Improv Friends 🎭 There are increasing number of hours each week in which I have a strong desire to throw every piece of connected technology into the nearest lake and move to wherever I have to go to be as far away from any modern gadget as…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Anniversary Changes 💍Near Death Experience 💀Dreamcatcher Drama 😳 All relationships change over time. Friendships, parent-child, boss-employee, husband-wife … no matter the relationship, the only constant thing is change. My marriage has changed mightily since it began. When Wifey Poo and I said our vows on March 22, 1997, we were –…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Why The Blahs? 😷Anniversary Plans 💍Unpleasant Warnings 🐍 Feeling blah is complicated when you have my medical history. For many people, feeling blah as I’m feeling right now is a clear indication that some sort of illness or infection has invaded the body. But for me — and for many others…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dentist Visit 🦷Basketball Sucks 🏀Found Husband 👨 No one truly likes going to the dentist. I’ve had people push back on me when I’ve said this before, but when I lay out the following scenario, well, it’s pretty much checkmate: “You just had the most well-respected doctor in the world tell…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumb Gubment 🦅Dawg Party 🐶Flying African ✈️ We as modern Muricans tend to just accept that it’s the gubment’s job to educate our children. Of course, when other countries that aren’t our friends do that, we call it “indoctrination,” but that’s a topic for another day. The topic for today is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Costly Mortality ☠️Crazies, Unite 🤪Defining ‘Appointment’ 🦷 I’m getting ready to die. Sounds ominous, right? Dramatic? Scary? It’s not. Oh yes, in a certain light, it’s depressing as hell. But what it really involved was a meeting with an attorney that Wifey Poo and I had yesterday to figure out exactly…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pee Mate 🚽Game Maker 🎲Dumb Muricans 🦅 I have been thinking about death a lot lately, not because I’m particularly eager for it to happen or because I’m particularly not eager for it to happen. I guess it’s because I’m a few months shy of my 49th birthday and please-for-the-love-of-God let…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dieudonne 🌍Hoops Win🏀Cornhole Roll ✔️ In 2021, during some of the darkest and most difficult times in our lives as individuals and couple, Wifey Poo and I did a thing. It was a big thing. It was a challenging thing. It was an amazing thing. But to say it was just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Full Stop’ 🛑Needles 💉Business Lessons 🧑💼 Here’s something I learned about myself today: One way to ensure that I will debate you on a topic until I give my last breath or until you are huddled in a corner in a fetal position is to end the statement of your opinion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mindfulness 🧘Mullet Prez 👩🦳Murder Family 🔪 Our brains are amazing things. So adept are they at routines that they can essentially run on autopilot and let you do the everyday stuff like operating a multi-ton object advancing at 70+ mph among lots of other multi-top objects advancing at 70+ mph without…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bloody Hell 💂Circus Moments 🤡Silence 🤫 OK, people: I’ve got a bone to pick with you. But first, a little digression. What in the bloody hell does that phrase mean? “A bone to pick with you?” That sounds absolutely disgusting. And if you’re wondering why I said “bloody hell,” well, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩24 Hour Video 😡Rubik’s Kid 🧊Dilbert Doofus 🤪 There are two things I cannot stand in the working world — and in life, in general. The first is people whose lack of preparedness turns ordinary stuff into emergencies. The second is when people criticize the result of something they previous approved.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mormon Billionaires 💰Bigger Packages 🍌Birds Really Aren’t Real 🐦 Can we just get on with blowing the tits off the world with nuclear weapons or something and end this stupid thing we call the human race? Yeah, I know that’s a little dramatic, but when I take a look at the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Muricah The Evil 🦅You Buy You 💰Big-Ass Van 🚚 I find it rather humorous that Muricah warned China not to send arms to one side of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine … and that we issued this warning with a straight face. I’m quite sure most Muricahns believe their country…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Salve 🩹Car Wash 🚗💧Light Removal 🎄 I try not to venture too often into a Wal-Mart, especially on the weekend. I cling to slim hope for this nation as it is, and I find Wal-Mart trips do not help my grip. Alas, this weekend, Boy The Younger was under the weather…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CC, BCC, FU 📧Basketball Poll 🏀Andy Rooney 🎙️ This week has largely been a Shit Week marred by Shit People. What are Shit People? They aren’t exactly easy to define, but one hallmark of a Shit Person is his rampant use of the CC function at work to passive-aggressively play power…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chill Day 🛋️Busy Weekend ⚾Halftime 🏈 I’m not working today. Not only am I not working at my day job, I’m not doing any work for my side gig today. I’m not planning on doing much of anything, actually. And I don’t feel guilty about that. This weekend was insanely busy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Big Pharma Sucks 💊Work Rules 🧑💼Big Weekend 🏈 Spend any time in front of the television and you’ll see ads touting the latest drugs that you shouldn’t take if you’re allergic to and that you most definitely need to ask your doctor about. Now comes a study showing that the people…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top 5 🎈Symphony 🎻Living Eulogies 💗 Top 5 things overheard in Missourah last week as a purported Chinese spy balloon made its way over the state en route to its rendezvous with an F22’s missile: Despite my high-brow upbringing in Suburbia, New York, I’m not what anyone would call A Symphony…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Space Walk 🧑🚀Bye-Bye Brady 🏈Failure Rate 🐿️ When Boy The Elder was just Boy and devoid of a younger brother, we had a nickname for him: Pokey Joe. BTE didn’t do anything fast, but more than anything, what he did incredibly slow was get out of a car. That would suck…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Raccoons 🦝February 💘Man Nips 🕺 Today I bring you the story of a raccoon who got his balls stuck to railroad tracks. But the reason you think I’m bringing you this story is not the reason I’m bringing you this story. You think I’m bringing the story of the raccoon Neil…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tyre Nichols 😔Tattoo Day ✒️Nephew Hoops🏀 I was a white kid in suburbia, New York, in 1988 when the gangsta rap group N.W.A. came out with its album Straight Outta Compton, featuring the song Fuck Tha Police. It was scandalous, at the time, to suggest that the police would be anything…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Concert 🎵Sick Wife🤒People Suck 🖕 Within the 24 hours in the run-up to Snowpocalypse 2023, the estimates on the Weather Channel app for our snowfall total ranged from 1 to 10 inches. That’s like going to the doctor and being told you have anything from a splinter to terminal cancer.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mission: Failed 👎Ho 🤣Handy Family 👍 It has to suck to work at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Why? It took exactly 75 minutes for all of 2023 to be a failure. Let me explain. Those of you unfortunate enough to have been involved in any sort of corporate planning process…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Houston 🖊️Sad clown 🤡Taco Seasoning 🌮 Houston, Missourah, is not unlike a lot of other rural Missourah towns through which I’ve driven and bears a resemblance to the Small Town USA in which Boy The Elder did a lot of his early growing up and to which Boy The Younger came…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Definitions 📖Missing Bourbon 🥃Mysterious Knocks 😵 I generally abhor any writing that starts with, “Webster’s dictionary defines …” Webster’s dictionary defines “ceiling” as a noun meaning “the overhead inside lining of a room.” The implication is that it’s a limitation, a max, a point of demarcation between what’s out there and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Annoyance 😠Disappointment 😞 When Boy The Elder was Boy The Only in our home, he watched one of the Air Bud movies featuring a basketball-playing dog. Or maybe it was football. Or soccer. By the time that series was over, that dog had played them all. Anyway, whichever Air Bud…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thor’s Blurry Hammer 🍆Pigeon Delivery 🕊️Idiot List 🤪 Thor is really, really good with his hammer. And by that, I mean that Thor the walrus in Scarborough, England, is really good at masturbating and ruining New Years Eve. If you haven’t heard about this story, stop reading stupid news like politics…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bruising Basketball 🏀Poke ☝️Six?!? 🔫 I grew up in the NBA era of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons while loving a New York Knicks team that was, to put it mildly, quite physical. Guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James can makes basketball seem like artistry these days, but give me…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What There is Like! ⛅’Modern Policing’ 🚨Xylophone Time! 🎵 When you decide to talk about a time in which you truly believe you more-or-less died and saw what comes after this life, you have to be comfortable with the fact that people might think you’re nuts. Hell, talking about it on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grace Ashford! 📰Idaholy Shit! 🥔Story of the Year! 🍆 The three most influential people in my life as a journalist are, sadly, all part of the Great Newsroom in the Sky now. Professors Michael Perkins and Bob Woodward (AKA Bob Woodward-Not-That-Bob-Woodward) helped educate me at Drake University, and Lisa Warren was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poor Puppy 🐶Romeo and Juliet 🤴👸Meta Mistake 🙊 Disturbing news out of Washington, D.C., today as Republican Congressman-elect George Santos (if that’s his real name) brought a 6-month-old puppy to the house floor and screamed “Hey, look at me!” before slitting its throat and lapping up its squirting blood like a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Pretty Good Rant 😠Tesla Plunge 🚗Missed Lasts 😥 Those of you who regularly read my drivel (I see you, DirtySciFiBuddah) might have become aware of the fact over the past year or so that I am not a huge fan of our world’s modern institutions. All of them might, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Incomplete 🕮Frustration 😠Bowl Bust 🏈 To say that I know how to write is like saying I know how to breathe. No one considers that they know how to breathe. They just … breathe. No one is particularly good at breathing or bad at breathing. Again, they just … breathe. I’ve…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 15 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…Keep reading