Well, I’m in the Wall Street Journal

Posted March 27th, 2010
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Because, you know, I’m such a big player on Wall Street.

Actually, that’s misleading. I’M not in the Wall Street Journal. A piece I wrote is in the Wall Street Journal and you can see it for yourself right here. I was asked to write something about how the coming holidays are more than the usual amount of difficult because of all the divisive political opinion right now. So I wrote about America’s two big hobbies: Celebrating and Freaking out. I have never written anything so quickly in my life. And not because I was celebrating or freaking out. Though I did, at some point, start freaking out because I was only given 24 hours to write 1800 words. Its hard to write six pages and have them make sense in the English language in a time frame that small. Well, hard for me.  Steven King probably can do it and be texting at the same time. And of course, when I say “six pages”, I mean in a theoretical notebook sense. That’s how I always keeps track of pages. In my head they are on imaginary paper.

This is the photo the Wall Street Journal used for an illustration. None of these people are me. Although every photograph that I have of myself in this kind of a family context is nearly as horrifying.  I was saving all of the afore mentioned photos, in the original scrap books  assembled by my mother at various points in the sixties and seventies, because it seemed like a thing I must do.  Some of the pictures of me were so unflattering that I carry them, as a cautionary note, imprinted and enlarged,  in the masochistic portion of my brain where they surface almost every single day. Recently it was pointed out to me, by my beloved, that I didn’t have to save photographs that I truly hated. It took me a while to realize that he was, of course, right. And it was a happy day when I pulled out those bad looking images and threw them away.

Now if I could just figure out how to also get them out of my head.

The poems of Dorothy Parker: Damn!

Posted March 20th, 2010

May I humbly suggest that everyone who stumbled upon this entry go immediately to google and enter “Dorothy Parker, poems of”. Every so often I re-read them and  just want to sing her praises, that’s all.  Brilliant is too often repeated a word to describe her work. Here is a perfect 4 line example that makes me gasp every time I read it. Its the end of a poem called “Ballade of a Great Weariness.”

“Oh, beggar or prince, no more no more!
Be off and away with your strut and show
The sweeter the apple the blacker the core
Scratch a lover and find a foe.”

Wow. Could that last line  possibly under any circumstances be more perfect? Answer: No. Not possible. But okay, okay… here is one more randomly selected poem. However they’re all this good or better.

Love Song

My own dear love, he is strong and bold
And he cares not what comes after,
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,
And his eyes are lit with laughter
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled
Oh a girl, she’d not forget him
My own dear love, he is my world
And I wish I’d never met him

My love, he’s mad and my love he’s fleet
And a wild young wood -thing bore him!
The ways are fair to his roaming feet
And the skies are sunlit for him.
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems
As the fragrance of acacia
My own dear love, he is all my dreams
And I wish he were in Asia.

My love runs by like a day in June
and he makes no friends of sorrows
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon
In the pathway of the morros
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start
Nor could storm or wind uproot him
My own dear love he is all my heart
And I wish somebody’d shoot him.

She’s amazing.

Wanna be a member?

Posted March 12th, 2010
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Now that I have gotten in to the habit of blogging on here, I feel kind of guilty when I don’t.  I might as well have been raised Catholic. The truth is, I haven’t written anything in a while because I bought a green screen.  It started when I saw Avatar and I thought “Hell, I can do that.”. No no. Just kidding. It started when I saw two 8 year old boys on You Tube making green screens with chartreuse construction paper.  I said to myself, I said I said, “I can’t be stupider than an eight year old.” Even though I didn’t really want to test myself and learn the horrible truth.

But since that day I actually purchased a green screen and a stand for it. Now there is no place to sit in my office. I have gotten so pre-occupied playing green screen games that I haven’t been thinking of things to blog about. It did occur to me, somewhere along the way, that I might want to write about  how irritating it was to hear them play the Helen Reddy song “I am Woman” at the Academy Awards when Kathryn Bigelow walked up to receive the prize for Best Director . Geez. Could they be a little dorkier? That song was lame and never  even genuinely relevant when it was new. But perhaps I am not understanding something. Maybe  the basis for picking the “walking to the podium song” is to reduce the winner to an embarrassing sociological stereotype. If that is the case, then I would like to insist that in the future, when that other gender starts to dominate the director prize again and Martin Scorcese or Steven Speilberg wins the award, the Academy play “I’m a Man” by the Spencer Davis Group . But its too late to be talking about this now. My infatuation with my new green screen made me lose my window of opportunity . Damn.

And its too teeth grindingly frustrating to even begin to whine about the way the health care bill keeps getting derailed. More so for the fact that I am in that category of people who is in line for a 39% increase in health insurance premiums. I don’t really understand a country that wants to protect and defend insurance companies like these.

Then I thought about my other pet peeve of the moment: the non-negotiable pressure to join a million things. My father used to give a lot of advice. His worst piece of advice was  “Don’t let the dogs sleep in the same room with you. They’ll use up all the oxygen.” His best piece of advice was “For Chrissakes, Merrill, just stay out of the stock market.” But his most frequent piece of advice was “Why don’t you  join more clubs.” Back when I was in high school and a member of almost nothing, I would throw his words right back at him. “Why don’t you?.” I would say because he was a member of nothing. We didn’t even have a religious affiliation.But now, despite my genetically inherited inclination toward being an unaffiliated loner,   I find myself an involuntary member of many many things.  Why, just in my neighborhood alone I am a card carrying member of  three different supermarkets, a beauty supply store, an office supply store, a pharmacy and a gym. Fingers crossed they haven’t noticed I don’t attend meetings.  (Although that might be a good weight loss technique: having a look at who else  is on the membership roster for the Ralph’s Club.)

I also had no choice but to become a member of three unions, (even though I only wanted to join one) and seven internet sites, ( even though I wanted to join none. Spammers were opening fake accounts in my name and I needed to reclaim my online birthright. ) I guess my father would be bursting with pride. But  of all the wonderful wonderful  clubs whose cards I now carry in my wallet, there is only one club card that has any real meaning to me.   It is the one club on whose board  I would proudly serve . I have a feeling I might be the only member in my demographic sample. Perhaps by a good 4 or 5 decades. But I believe I could use that to my advantage. I bet  I would  dominate at those meetings! I would rule that club. There’s no debate I couldn’t win . I would be their queen.  Well, back to my green screen.


NEW extra strength Spam: Now with several exciting updates

Posted March 4th, 2010
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Remember the olden days of the internet , when your aol or earthlink mailbox would fill up with  spam for penis extenders and discount viagara? I’m getting a little misty eyed just thinking about  that bygone time, back at the beginning of the new century, before sophisticated spam filters came on the scene and disappeared all that stuff for us. Of course that didn’t mean the end of spam by any means. Earlier this year, I  had my name stolen by spammers  who were running around opening up Twitter and Facebook accounts for me. One minute I was a professional smart ass and then just like that, I was a shill for hot hot hot naked girls. (Although I confess, for a minute I suspected it was part of  some kind of massive conspiracy to prevent me from being the last person without a Facebook page.)

Anyway, its no surprise that spam marches on, I guess.  But as it does,  it continues to grow increasingly wily. In fact,  I think we might be in The Golden Age of Spam because currently I am getting spam that, although  still annoying, is almost but not quite  hilarious.  The newest batch of spam about which I have been obsessing  is disguised to sound like interested remarks by  commenters.  Just imagine  the challenges this kind of spam presents to  the spam provider who now has to prepare  a  ” one comment fits all” disguise for whatever they are selling. It has to seem equally applicable as a comment on a blog about spring break or one about the health care bill. Finding a way to say something that sounds simultaneously specific yet generic has got to be a lot trickier to write than the copy for those penis extenders. (One of my favorite of the latter category: “Giving your lovemaking the charge of passion and activeness is what our pilules are REALLY good at!)

In a way the task the spammers are now facing reminds me a little of my first job in TV, writing jokes and sketches for a show called The All New Laugh In.  It was the tail end of the seventies and the original producers of the  show from the sixties decided to revive their hit topical weekly comedy  for a new audience.Oonly this time they wanted it to be available for syndication. Toward that end they instructed the writers to try and focus on current events that would also be evergreen. When I asked how that was possible, the head writer offered me subject matter examples: Pollution. Corporate greed. Corruption. You know, generic but still in the news. Needless to say, the show did not catch on like the original version. In fact, I think it only aired twice.  Maybe that head writer guy is in the passion and activeness pilule business now.

Anyway, I have been collecting some of my favorites of the new generic spam comments. All of them contain a live return address link  which is , of course, the real point.

Example #1. is an instant classic. Here it is in its entirety, minus the live link:

I love the tips on this site, they are always to the point and just the information I was looking for. Theres a link at the bottom of the page its not working, please send me the link at!#%&*+

While this comment probably goes undetected on at least half of the sites on which it appears, it was absolutely hilarious on this blog because one thing that no one has ever accused me of  being is “to the point and just the information I was looking for.” If I have ever made an actual point, it was probably accidental. To say nothing of the fact that there was no live link at the bottom of the page  on which it appeared. Of course, another give away was the fact that the commenter was named of Celeb Videos…although, for all I know, Gwynneth Paltrow has a new daughter named Celeb Videos. Or Ashlee Simpson does. Or Nicole Richie.

#2 one came from someone named Mortgage Modification. I call him Mort. He was using my rambling thoughts for his research. What a piece of research that must be!

Thanks for the Blog ! I found it insightful with some research I’m doing right now. I’m going to bookmark this blog and return. What other resources are there on the same subject? Keep posting!”

I gotta give Mort credit where credit is due. His comment has it all:  a few generic complements (Insightful!! Keep posting!) , a statement of purpose (“Some research I’m doing right now”) and then a careful but completely generic question to substantiate the research claim (“What other resources are there on the same subject?). Had I written anything that connected to “other resources on the same subject” , I would have perhaps answered him back and been the lucky recipient of  whatever it is that might be of interest to a guy named Mortgage Modification.  I guess I’ll never know what that might be.

#3 was especially funny considering it was supposed to be a comment about a “corporate video” that I made on behalf of my dog Puppyboy.  It came from an e mail address that had something to do with mascara.

Hi there internet marketer, commenters along with anybody different !!! Your blog has been completely wonderful! Lord details and also creativity, the two that many of us have! Preserve ’em coming… everyone make this kind of a fantastic job with like Ideas… are unable to explain how much When i, for around understand most of you are doing!”

Nice that this person was so positive about Puppyboy’s corporate statement. But then again, it takes a special person to understand most of he are doing.

#4 comes from a site that has something to do with “she-males” and the general pursuit of “trannies.” It was left as a comment for the blog I wrote a few ahead of this one that is called “wanna be a member” and is about all the supermarkets I have had to join lately.  The she-male lover has something very nice to say about the work I have wrote.

I just think you have wrote an hot piece of post , thank you and … bookmarked!”

But my current favorite has to be this one , that I just got (4/3/2010) as a comment on my blog in which I made fun of a word I read in someone’s obituary.  Check  it out. This is a generic comment masterpiece from an online gaming site. Yet its so…contemplative!:

#5:” i probably would not have contemplated this had been awesome two or three years in the past then again it is funny how years evolves the way you experience unsimilar concepts, thanks with regard to the posting it’s pleasant to read anything intelligent now and then instead of the ordinary rubbish mascarading as blogs on the web, i’m going to have fun with a smattering of hands of zynga poker, cheers

The truth is that I wish all these spammers would just dry up and blow away. But in the mean time, since at least this variety of spam is a almost(but not quite) making me laugh, I think I will begin to return the favor to them by leaving  generic complements for them at the end of each spam. This is the draft I am planning to use:

Thanks for the chance to partake of your timely valuable services . What you are offering is a welcome addition for anyone of my gender,  lifestyle or demographic sample . I look forward to giving  you my personal information, social security number and credit card security code so that you may contact me repeatedly in the state and zip code of the country in which I am presently living! PS. Giving your lovemaking the charge of passion and activeness is what our pilules are Really good at!”

Yet another UPDATE #1:  comes in response to “Narcissists say the darndest things”…my longest running entry on this site. This “comment” comes from “my friend” Tony Luci, whose track back or ping or whatever they call it indicates that he apparently is some kind of a dating site.  Poor Tony.  Despite his diverse vision, he is strapped for time and his programming friend is slacking off on him. That is why he didn’t have time to give his opinion. He had just enough time to write this amazing thing:

I have a diverse vision on this and I truly wished I had the time right now. I’ll go forward and subscribe and when I have a chance I’ll give my opinion. Stunning blog by the way. I’m trying to get one going but my programming friend is slacking off on me. Thanks again for your post!
Your Friend – Tony Luc

UPDATE#2. OKAY THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE. this is a response to “My Explanation of Narcissism”. It comes from a site with the words Extreme Fitness in the URL.

Let me tell you…without doubt my fave movie star right now. What an amazing superstar. Just fabulous!”

This may be proof that there is such a thing as being TOO fit

UPDATE # 3: This was also a response to my article about.Narcissism, one of the few things on this site where I have not closed the comments to cut down on the spam.  This comes from someone with the unusual name of Clothing Rack.  I guess that’s a Czech name? Or is it Irish? Anyway, Clothing thinks that Narcissism is a precious topic.  I’ve never thought of it that way, but I suppose he or she is right. Still I was surprised to learn that it was the sweetest as well.

Comfortably, the article is really the sweetest on this precious topic. I concur with your conclusions and definitely will eagerly look forward to your upcoming updates. Just saying thanks will not simply be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I definitely will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Pleasant work and also much success in your business endeavors!”

How lovely of Mr. or Ms. Rack to find my work so pleasant.

UPDATE#4, No THIS is my ultimate favorite.  This also came to my essay about narcissism from a forlorn person named Financial Help.Yep.  I think it was sent to me from God.

I was browsing tonight, unsure of what I was looking for, but knew that I needed help with my finances, and your site just popped up. (Divine intervention, or what!)”