🧩 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?
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…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!
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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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
‘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…Keep reading
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.…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…Keep reading
Vision Board — Dec. 30, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩2023 📅Helping 🧠The Universe 🔭 I’m not much for long-term plans and goals. This isn’t to suggest I don’t think they’re important. I just think that spending a lot of time on them is futile. What’s the saying? Man plans, God laughs. Something like that. Anyway, I’ve learned through experience that…Keep reading
The Point of Suffering — Dec. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chain Links 🔗”Work” 🧑💼Popular Toys 🧸 After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why Wifey Poo? Why Jacob? Why this level of suffering in a world supposedly created and run by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God? So I did what…Keep reading
Freezing Fans — Dec. 26, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chiefs! 🏈Indy Tickets 🏎️Bank Visit 💰 When I bought the tickets to the Christmas Eve contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks as a gift for Boys The Elder & Younger, it was sometime in September and temps hovered around 90 degrees. The thought that the game might…Keep reading
Jacob at 22 — Dec. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Timelines 👶Extinctions 🌋Sin City 👌 As I fall deeper down the rabbit hole learning more about theories on space and time, the concept of alternative timelines comes up again and again and again. Whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or one day will be proven to be the stuff of…Keep reading
Joe(y) the Comedian — Dec. 18, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Cousin’ Laughs🎤Improv!?!? 🎭Drake Hoops 🏀 Back when I was a boy, I had a favorite Cousin-Who-Wasn’t-A-Cousin. His name was Joey DeVito, and he was in no way a blood relation to me, though I called his father Uncle Frankie and his mother Aunt Celia. I’m pretty sure this is an East…Keep reading
Doughnut Guy — Dec. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glazed 🍩Bingo! 🖥️Disappearing Christians ⛪ I didn’t intend to bring doughnuts for my co-workers yesterday morning. It just sorta happened. How it happened and how it played out is a window into my weird mind. First, an explanation: I have a card purchased from Boy The Younger that entitles me to…Keep reading
James and Stinky — Dec. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩STL’s Homeless 😥Snake Hoo-Hoos 🐍That Was Epoch 👴 I found James huddled underneath a blanket as he sat, knees to his chest, head bowed, just outside the doorway of a CVS in the Delmar Loop section of St. Louis. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a fun place filled…Keep reading
Paul Silas — Dec. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Knicks Memory 🏀JBM LLC 🧑🏼💼Brain Drain 🧠 My most memorable interaction with Paul Silas occurred when I was a 17-year-old kid with big dreams of being a sports reporter. I’d talked with Paul before — his wife and Mother Dearest were active in the local Make A Wish Foundation chapter and…Keep reading
Humbug — Dec. 13, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Piped-In Music 🎵Astronomy 🔭Fusion ☢️ Here’s the thing about Christmas: I want to love it, and in many ways, I do. I love giving gifts and, to be honest, I love getting gifts. There’s something so cool about the magical times when someone knows you well enough to get you that…Keep reading
Bye-Bye, Zombies — Dec. 8, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Walking Dead 🧟Nose B Gone 👃Turkey Trouble 🦃 I spent Tuesday night watching the final episodes of The Walking Dead. I have always been the type who can get so lost in a good story that I have really strong emotions (shocker, I know) when it ends. It happens with…Keep reading
Redefining Family — Dec. 6, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Who’s Family? 👪Music Speaks 🎵Wedding Websites 👨❤️👨 I was raised as an East Coast Italian, despite being a mixed bag of ethnicities born in Denver, Colorado. That meant that there was this huge importance placed on family that’s not necessarily shared with the same ferocity by others. Yet as I grew…Keep reading
Grief — Dec. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Messy Grief 😔Hear Ye! 👂Die Trump Die 😡 I am acutely aware that I am hardly alone as a 48-year-old man when I say that I am well acquainted with grief. I’m not sure if it was always this way — though I imagine it was — but I don’t think…Keep reading
Human Jewel Beetles — Dec. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beer Bottle Connections 🍺Ear Concerns 👂BTE vs. Deer 🦌 What exactly is reality? Is there a limit to the universe? How can something as heavy as the Earth be just sort of suspended … and what exactly is it suspended in? This is the rabbit hole I’ve fallen down, all while…Keep reading
Be Yourself — Dec. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Good Self 👋Urgent Care, Revisited 👩⚕️Slow Down 🐢 I remember this time back in sixth grade when a trusted adult was talking to me as I struggled through what turned out to be a pretty life-defining traumatic experience. The friends I’d grown up with since I was a small boy…Keep reading
Deer Drama — Nov. 30 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shooting a Fake Deer 🦌Time Spent Poorly ⏰Child Support 💸 About midway up my left shin underneath my leg hair is a scar about three inches long and the width of a deer antler. Well, a fake deer antler, anyway. “Deer-antler width” is hardly a standard unit of measurement, I know,…Keep reading
Metallica! — Nov. 29 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gods of Music Deliver! 🎸Insta-Anger 😠Unpleasant 😓 I was in need of something good to happen yesterday. Desperate need. The gods of music delivered. Metallica is coming to St. Louis in concert in 2023 for a two-day show at the Dome at the America Center. I found out about this at…Keep reading
Double Ear Infection — Nov. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Urgent Care 👂👂Alone Update 😔Rest 🛏️ It’s never a good sign when, less than two seconds after sticking a light in your ear and gazing through the little viewfinder thingy (patent pending), the doctor says, “Oooooooooh.” That was followed by a diagnosis of a “nasty” left ear infection and the question,…Keep reading
Fitting in — Nov. 25, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone 😔Christmas Changes🎄My Two Skillz 🔪 I would venture to guess that most of us like the feeling of fitting in somewhere. Even the most self-confident, secure person likes to have a tribe. We’re social creatures, and to have a place we just seem to slide into safely is a blessing.…Keep reading
Spouse+ Subscription — Nov. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marriage Talk 💑Requesting Money 💰Murder-Free 🔪 If you’ve been married as long as I have (rounding the corner and heading toward 26 years), you understand that conversations between spouses can sometimes be awfully weird. I mean, Wifey Poo and I have known each other more than 30 years now. How much…Keep reading
Coffee Hand — Nov. 22, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…Keep reading
Zoo Signs — Nov. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gorilla Harassment 🦍Brother Love 👨👦👦True Crime 🔪 My love of wild animals was fostered early in my childhood. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was appointment viewing for my family. I grew up with scenes of hungry cheetahs chasing down baby gazelles that included what’s not included on nature shows today ……Keep reading
No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…Keep reading
What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…Keep reading
Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…Keep reading
Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…Keep reading
Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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,…Keep reading
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.”…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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.…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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 email@example.com. No. 5: I pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading