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Aunt Pauline — Dec. 9, 2022

people standing in front of wood pile

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com


🧩 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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🧩 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.…

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Goodbye — June 15, 2023

🧩 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…

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The Moment — June 11, 2023

🧩 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…

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Not Writing — June 9, 2023

🧩 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.…

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Safe at First — May 23, 2023

🧩 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’…

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Whiskey and Cigars — May 19, 2023

🧩 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…

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Religious Exodus — May 14, 2023

🧩 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…

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Slog — May 13, 2023

🧩 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.…

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Sad vs. Depressed — May 4, 2023

🧩 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…

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Porn — May 3, 2023

🧩 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…

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Iowa Visit — May 2, 2023

🧩 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…

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Listening Right — April 25, 2023

🧩 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…

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Baseball Bookend — April 23, 2023

🧩 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…

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3:32 a.m. Thoughts — April 19, 2023

🧩 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…

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Living — April 19, 2023

🧩 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…

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Team Thanos — April 18, 2023

🧩 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…

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Falling Down — April 17, 2023

🧩 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,…

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Toxic Positivity — April 14, 2023

🧩 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…

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Nickname Need — April 13, 2023

🧩 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…

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Dental Malpractice — April 5, 2023

🧩 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…

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Not Snot — April 4, 2023

🧩 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…

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WTF is a Tiguan? — April 3, 2023

🧩 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…

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The Difficult Thing — April 1, 2023

🧩 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…

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African Arrival — March 31, 2023

🧩 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…

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African Eve — March 29, 2023

🧩 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…

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Tech Hatred — March 24, 2023

🧩 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…

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Exit Ramp — March 23, 2023

🧩 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 –…

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Blah — March 22, 2023

🧩 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…

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Floss Shaming — March 20, 2023

🧩 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…

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The Lunchable Deal — March 18, 2023

🧩 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…

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Death Cometh — March 17, 2023

🧩 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…

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Finishing — March 14, 2023

🧩 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…

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Sorry, Please Continue — March 9, 2023

🧩 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…

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Peaking — March 8, 2023

🧩 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…

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The Return of the African— March 6, 2023

🧩 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…

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Tribe — March 3, 2023

🧩 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…

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Mindful Commute — March 2, 2023

🧩 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…

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After Life — March 1, 2023

🧩 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…

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Angry Marketing Guy— Feb. 28, 2023

🧩 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.…

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Corruption, Penis Sizes and Bird Drones — Feb. 23, 2023

🧩 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…

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Home of the Hypocrite — Feb. 21, 2023

🧩 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…

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Wal-Mart — Feb. 20, 2023

🧩 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…

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Shit People — Feb. 17, 2023

🧩 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…

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Brain Rest — Feb. 13, 2023

🧩 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.…

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Drugs — Feb. 10, 2023

🧩 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…

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Missourah and the Spy Balloon — Feb. 7, 2023

🧩 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…

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Pokey Joe — Feb. 2, 2023

🧩 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…

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Stuck Balls — Feb. 1, 2023

🧩 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…

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‘Fuck Tha Police’ — Jan. 28, 2023

🧩 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…

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Snow — Jan. 25, 2023

🧩 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.…

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STUPID Goals — Jan. 20, 2023

🧩 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…

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Writing Retreat — Jan. 15, 2023

🧩 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…

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Ceilings — Jan. 14, 2023

🧩 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…

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Movie Ambush — Jan. 13, 2023

🧩 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…

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Animal Updates — Jan. 12, 2023

🧩 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…

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Bad Boys— Jan. 11, 2023

🧩 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…

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Done — Jan. 10, 2023

🧩 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…

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Media Landscape — Jan. 6, 2023

🧩 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…

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Santos Kills Puppy — Jan. 5, 2023

🧩 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…

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Institutions — Jan. 4, 2023

🧩 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…

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Finishing — Jan. 2, 2023

🧩 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…

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Fifty Intentions for 2023

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 johnagliata@gmail.com. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…

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