I want to party with these people. Wait. No, I don't.

I have questions about this. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, it's a story about a lovely woman named Rebecca Dawson, who was charged with "malicious castration" for nearly tearing someone's scrotum off at a Christmas party -- with her bare hands. 50 stitches, my friends. Frankenjunk -- for the rest of his life.

So my questions are as follows:

(1) What the HELL kind of Christmas parties do they throw down there in North Carolina? Also, if you get an invite to their New Year's Eve bash, I'd give serious consideration to not going.

(2) "Malicious Castration?" I have to ask: Is there really any other type? As a guy, I would have to say no. (I know you women are out there counting them off on your fingers: "Intentional, deserved, completely necessary, just-for-fun, etc., etc.)

(3) To put it in terms of the holiday -- why was the baby jesus out of his manger in the first place?

(4) She did it with her bare hands. Will I ever again be able to tear the skin off a raw chicken without wincing just a little bit? I think not.

(5) Apparently, it was reported as a domestic disturbance. I would like to know who called this in. "Hello? 911? Yes, this is Rachel Fitzwater and I live across the street from the Dawsons. I can't be 100% sure, but I think I just heard the sound of a scrotum being ripped from someone's body. Yes, I'll hold, thank you."

(6) Why did they feel the need to inform us that "the arrest was the first of its kind in Lillington?" Does that fact really surprise anyone? I would think that if it wasn't the first time, then it *might* be worth a mention.

Slow news day, I guess. Slow blog day too, and that's why you're getting this post -- But really it's just because I couldn't stand looking at Pooping Santa's giant red butthole any longer.


Squeezing out one more post for Christmas.

You might remember the smoking baby Christmas gift I got last year from my friends who buy me weird shit. They're always like "Oh, I saw that and I immediately thought of you." This year, I opened my Christmas present from them and this fell out:

I am not sure why a Santa that poops hard candy makes them think of me, but that's something for their respective psychiatrists to iron out. Pere Noel surprise, indeed.

The first thing that struck me funny was that Santa, in addition to having a freakishly large bung-hole, also prefers to crap directly through his pants.

I wanted to make sure I followed the detailed instructions that were thoughtfully provided on the back of the packaging. I started with Step One:

OK - Remove the head. Put in Candy. Replace head. Seems simple, right? Not so. The head on my Santa does not come off, and is in fact one with the body. To get this particular Santa head off would require a chisel and quite possibly a band saw, and he would never be right again.

That's not to imply that he's in any way "right" when he comes out of the package, but still. Instead of trying to forcibly remove his head, I decided to use the convenient trap door in his back that, oddly, appeared to be designed for this exact purpose. I'm nothing if not versatile.

Unfortunately, the trap door seemed to be glued shut, so I was reduced to shoving the poopsweets up his butt one by one like little candy suppositories. That felt a bit wrong to me, so I eventually pried open his trapdoor with a butter knife. And that's not a euphemism for... well...for anything.

Once I had him loaded up with poop-sweets, I continued on to Step Two. That step seemed to work flawlessly. He shook like a baby's rattle and sounded chock-full of very settled joyful Christmas turdage.

Onward to Step Three.

I gently held the Santa around his body, (I may have even caressed him once or twice when nobody was looking) and pushed downwards, in anticipation of a sweet, sweet, Pere Noel poop. Would it be green? Would it be red? I waited with bated breath.

Nothing happened. No poop-sweet issued forth from the shiny-red oversized butthole of holiday spirit. Something was wrong. Santa was clearly constipated.

I read further down in the instructions, and noticed this bit:

Dammit. My Santa was all jammed up inside with what was apparently an odd-sized poopsweet. Contrary to the manufacturer's hopes, this was, in fact, stop me enjoying this product. So I opened his trapdoor, shook out his candy turd nuggets and tried again.

Success. As you can see from the picture, this time it was obvious he was ready and willing to drop a deuce for my pleasure:

Looking at the ingredients, I can see why he was initially holding back:

I don't know about you, but pretty much the last word I want involved when I'm going to the bathroom is the word "acid." I think that even beats the phrases "shards of glass" and "rusty staples."

There were no further instructions to be had, so I was on my own. The moment of truth was at hand.

I pushed him gently down and... Voila! A green poopsweet ricocheted off the kitchen counter and dropped to the floor, where it bounced under the refrigerator to sleep for all eternity.

Judging by his facial expression, I think he was both happy and relieved when it was all over:

In fact, I think we both were. By the way, if you were wondering, the candy tastes like crap. The green and the red are the same exact flavor. Stupid rip-off pooping Santa. Even so, I have awesome friends.

Next year, I'm filling him with raisinettes.


Just Filling In.

I was driving home from the store today and it was almost dark -- That time of night when the sky has sort of a blue-tinted glow and it gets a little hard to see. Not quite dark enough to turn on the headlights without feeling like your dad, but not quite light enough to see everything in razor-sharp detail.

As I drove past someone's side yard, I saw something odd out of the corner of my eye. My brain registered "Bathtub Virgin" (or "Mary on the half-shell" depending upon what part of the country you're from.) I'm sure you all know what these are, if not from personal experience, then from reading my blog...but something was odd about this one.

I craned my neck behind me, but couldn't make it out. So I did what any of you would do. I said fuck it and went home. No, of course I didn't, because I am not any of you. I turned my car around, parked it in their driveway and got out to look.

I am not privy to the current practices of the Bathtub Virgin Illuminati, but this display caught me by surprise. It seems that when Mary can no longer fulfill her matron-of-god duties, the best of all possible stand-ins is:

Yes. Water fowl. Swans are evidently preferred. And it's always good to have a second swan standing by in case the first one gets called away on important business.

I have no idea. People are strange. They make me laugh.


ps - According to my most recent site-meter search results that lead people here, there are entirely too many people forcing other people to wear butt plugs. Stop it.


Don't read this post. It's not going to be funny. Seriously.

Currently, I have three posts in the works. The first is about what makes something funny. I have been poking and probing at this question like a six-year-old pokes and prods the hole in his gums when he loses a tooth. I'm not sure I have any answers, but it will be an interesting discussion, as I'm sure you're going to recognize a few of my observations in those around you. I envision that post will be a semi-serious look at the different types of "funny" that exist, and why some people and things are funny and some aren't. It will also include some truly effed-up pictures of our company's nativity set as an example.

The second post is about living in rural America and how there is absolutely no controls on what your mailbox has to look like. You would not believe some of the shit around here that passes for a U.S. Mail receptacle.

The third post is this one, and it's about this particular on-going holiday season. And since that's the one I chose to open with, that's the reason this post isn't going to be funny. It's going to be sad, and maybe a little bit angry, and I'm going to say some stuff in it that I need to get off my chest. It seems to be the thing lately to use your blog as an outlet for something that it's not usually used for; to break out of the mold a bit and change up the format. Maybe it's something in the air, I'm not sure. So this post, while probably not appropriate for a humor blog (as I've come to call it - your opinion may differ) also might be a little hopeful in the end, and help me to sort out a few things. At the very least, maybe it'll help you guys who are reading this who are currently in or have been in a similar situation. Maybe, in some way, it'll help to know that you're not alone, and JV is out here pullin' for ya.

To lay it on the table, I have two people in my life who are currently dying. One I care about deeply, the other, well...not so much. That being said, however, both have impacted my life, and continue to do so. As a result, I'm having a hard time finding humor in things, and I'm afraid I've been phoning in my last month's posts in a (misguided?) effort to inject some levity into my life in spite of everything that's going on.

The weird thing is, I find it actually does help, but I'm not sure I'm doing you any service, since I presume that you come here to be entertained, and if I'm doing my job at all, you get a smile out of whatever it is that I wrote. So --If after this post I continue to be unfunny, well, I apologize in advance.

I was never really sure about this whole blogging thing anyway. People I work with (Special Dark, you bastard) have told me that I'm not as funny in person. While my first reaction was a sincere "eff you" -- I have to say that I actually agree with him (that bastard).

I thought about why that is, and it comes down to one thing: I'm pretty introverted and quiet, and as a result, when I am with a group of people I mostly don't ever say what I'm thinking. At any rate, that's part of my current dilemma. As a bona-fide introvert, I have a tendency to go into hibernation mode when I'm in a funk or under stress, and not want to socialize or be as supportive as I could be under more normal circumstances, which even then takes a lot out of me. I'll get to why that's an issue in a moment.

It's been over five years since my mother died, and the first time around for every holiday was incredibly tough. The first Mother's Day. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas. The first time her birthday came and went, and I wasn't able to call her up. My friend shop dungs is going through that now, and I know how difficult and incredibly sad this Christmas will be for him. I wish there was something I could do, but I know that there really isn't. Telling him that it "gets better with time" sounds incredibly trite, even though it's mostly true. The wounds are still too raw for any of that crap advice to have any meaning. It only means something when you discover it for yourself; when you've had the time to get used to the pain, and then begin to heal.

Right now, it's my wife's turn to feel raw inside and mad at life. It's her grandmother who is lying in a nursing home, unresponsive and being fed through a tube in her stomach wall, a result of a stroke almost a month ago. Her father had been battling skin cancer, which last week he found out has spread to his lungs, liver, stomach and adrenal glands. The doctors say he has maybe 6 months. My wife's grandmother is everything to her, and practically raised her. Their bond is one of friendship, mutual respect and an immense love.

Her father means almost nothing to her. He has basically ignored her all his life unless he needed something, and he's the most cold-hearted, self-centered person I've ever met in my life. His dying might not seem like an issue unless you know my wife, who is one of the most caring people I know. It causes her no end of guilt that she feels very little for her own dying father. He's not helping the situation in the slightest, which is typical for him. I didn't think it was possible to dislike someone as much as I have learned to dislike him over the years. He's a taker who has a sense of entitlement that makes me want to smash his face. The only saving grace in this whole debacle is that her grandmother doesn't have to watch her only son die -- If you can call that a grace of any sort.

Therein lies my problem. I feel like I have to be upbeat and supportive for her, yet all I want to do is go into lock-down hibernation mode. I don't want to be funny. I want to sit in my office and write shit like this. I want to forget about the hard choices that I'm sure she and her grandfather are going to have to make. I want to wish myself into next year, and maybe bypass all the heartache that is bearing down on us. Mostly, I want to sit in a corner near the woodstove and lick my wounds like a hurt animal.

But I can't.

I have to be there for my wife and her grandfather, who is one of the nicest, bravest, most inspiring men I've ever known. I'll tell his story some day. In the meantime, all I can do is watch, and offer support where and when I can. I'm not always good at it, I admit. I'm not perfect, and so I sometimes take the easy way out. It's a constant fight between what I feel I should do and what I have the strength to actually do. So hit me with the good mojo, because I'm going to need it. We all are.

The reason I'm writing this now is because I got blindsided in a Toastmaster's meeting today. I'm shitty at public speaking because of that whole "introvert" thing -- so I decided that even though the thought made me physically sick, I was going to join Toastmaster's. It's about nerdy as you'd think it would be, but it does get you speaking in front of a group. For those of you who don't know, at every Toastmaster's meeting there's a thing called "Table Topics" which basically means that they ask a random question on a random subject, and then choose someone to talk about it for 30 seconds. I got picked. The question was, "If you had the chance, and money and power were no object, what would you give to someone you care about as a Christmas present?" Before I even knew what I was saying, I said, "I'd make my wife's dad not have terminal cancer and I'd take away her grandmother's stroke." You could have heard a pin drop. In a room full of people I barely know, I blurted this out for no good reason other than it was what was on my mind.

I thought I was handling things pretty well until that exact moment, when I sat there in stunned silence with tears in my eyes. It was then that I realized that I had to write some of this down, just to get it out and maybe try to make some sense of what I was feeling. Unfortunately for you, I followed through with that, and this gibberish is the result.

I guess if there's a message to this post, it has to be one of hope and healing. Hope that the future holds joys and contentment that you might find it hard to imagine now. Whether you're dealing with loss, impending loss or just plain loneliness, remember this: You can plan for tomorrow, but don't do it at the expense of the present. As crappy as it may have been, take some time out to look at today, and the people you shared it with. Call your friends. E-mail or IM them if you have to. Call your parents, and your grandparents, if you're lucky enough to still have them around. Tell them how thankful you are that they're in your life, even if they're a giant pain in the ass most of the time. Tell them how much they mean to you, and tell them why. Or if that's too hard, just tell them that you love them, because you never know when a conversation you're having with someone you care about will be the last one you ever have. I can't remember the last thing my mother and I talked about before she died, and that still bothers me. Knowing her, I'm sure it was something that made me laugh, which makes it even more difficult.

It can all go away in an instant, and if it does, you don't want regrets. Talk about the good times you've had with the people you love, because those memories may be the only thing that gets you through the bad times.

As my father always tells me, you have to do what you can for the people in your life.

Then he usually adds, "Unless they're an asshole."

Advice to live by, my friends.

I'll be back with something funnier later this week. I promise.

(Like that will be tough, right? Hey I warned you in the subject line. You just never listen.)


Day Tripper.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of flying to Cleveland for the day. That means I get up at 3:45am, and catch the 6 o'clock flight, and then catch the 7pm flight home. It makes for a long-assed day, I can tell you that. I knew it was gonna be another fun one when the geezer checking my boarding pass burped into his mouth and then blew it in my face. If you've ever wondered what dead animals floating in a pool of old coffee and cigarette butts smells like, I can tell you. It smells bad.

Really bad.

The next thing that happened is that I get stuck in line behind a 400lb black kid. Like 6'4". HUGE. Probably somewhere between 18 and 20 years old. The metal detector keeps going off. He takes off his bling. It still goes off. He loses the belt. It goes off again. Finally they shunt him to the side and start wanding him. It appears that he must have a plate in his head. No...not his head. The problem is head-related, however. More specifically, the problem is in his MOUTH. He has a full set of gold teeth. I was witnessing a highly entertaining episode of "Grills Gone Bad." Eventually, they let him go.

When I got home, I did a little research on airport metal detectors and found this little tidbit:

The Metor 300 also incorporates an advanced Random Alarm function, which enables discreet search of non-alarming passengers.

So who knows. Maybe it wasn't his grill after all.

Other than that, I did get to witness someone almost knocking themselves unconscious on the overhead bin. That was fun. Besides the numbnut behind me who kept slamming something down on his tray table and waking me up, and the caffeine-addled, non-stop talking machine with the armor-piercing laugh in the seat across the aisle, the rest of the flight wasn't bad.

When I got on the train to go downtown, at the first stop a black kid in a hoodie sits down in the seat across from me and starts making a noise like, "ARRRRRGHHHH!" and pounding on the seat in front of him every 20 seconds.

He's talking to himself about something that is clearly making him very angry, since between the seat-banging and yelling, every other word in his monologue is the F-word, used in more variations than I thought possible. Finally, he slouched down, pulled his hoodie over his eyes, muttered something about hanging a motherfucking Grand Theft Auto poster in his room, and went to sleep.

Or died. I'm not sure -- I didn't check. Man. How much would it suck if your last words were "motherfucking Grand Theft Auto?"

At the second stop, a older white woman sits behind me and all is well until about 30 seconds after we leave the stop, and she lets loose with a chest-rattling phlegm-filled cough. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that she didn't even make a half-hearted attempt at covering her mouth with her hand. She just let loose. After the 2nd time it happened, I turned to her and said, "Could you stop coughing directly on me?" After that, she covered her mouth -- but only when I was watching her. When she thought I wasn't, she just sprayed the back of my head again. Ignorant people. I really need a driver when I go places.

If I thought the train ride in was bad, the flight home (delayed, of course) was worse. My seat was the second to the last one in the plane, and the whole area smelled like a dirty litterbox. It was pretty brutal. I had a screaming baby across from me, and I was surrounded by people with some sort of affliction. All signs pointed to Tuberculosis. I had my recorder on me, so enjoy.

This is just a 5-second snippet of a one hour flight.

It didn't stop the entire time.

I love day trips. All of the shittiness and none of the fun. How can you beat that?

I used to like a good kiss.

A word of advice:

When you see what appears to be a Hershey's kiss on the kitchen floor -- and you have cats -- it's probably not a good idea to pick it up and smell it.


$2.69 buys you 4 rolls and a social conscience.

The other day, I sat down and made myself a sandwich. I try to eat fairly healthy fare, and as a result most of the sandwich rolls we have in the house are shitty -- and by that I mean whole wheat. In this particular case, they were Barowsky's Low Fat Wheat Bulkie Rolls. They're awesome if you like the taste of shredded cardboard, but you'll learn to -- well, you never actually learn to like them, but you do learn to choke them down. (Now I sound like my wife.)

I took the last one out of the package, and since I'm a whore for any written words put in front of me, I started reading the bag. (I do this. I don't know why. I can't NOT do it. I read cereal boxes, milk cartons, soup labels, toothpaste tubes -- it doesn't matter. If there are words in front of me, I'm reading them, even if I read them a thousand times before.)

At any rate, I get to this bit, and start choking on my food, and not because the roll is dry as dust, which wheat rolls generally are:

In case you can't read it, it says:

"We also care about the environment. Our packaging, which provides our products with a good seal against the elements and staling, is recyclable. When you are ready to dispose of it, it can be recycled where it could end up as a variety of things such as carpeting, insulation, or a toy. If incinerated, it burns cleaner than home heating oil and actually helps all the other waste burn better."

Forget that recycling crap. According to this, these bags are like magic and I'm keeping them. In fact, ever since I saw this, I've been collecting them. I may be on my way to a serious gluten allergy from eating so many rolls, but I already have more than enough bags to cover the hardwood floor in my living room.

They're also not kidding about the insulation bit. I've taken to stuffing them in the arms of my coat and down my pants, and I've never been warmer in my life. I smell a little like stale wheat bread, but it's totally worth it and not that different from how I smelled before.

Just yesterday I wrapped up a half dozen of them to give to my friend's kids as a Christmas presents. I never know what sort of toy to get them, and when you think about it, there's lots of fun things an unsupervised little kid can do with a plastic bag.

If all goes according to plan, by next year at this time I should have enough saved up to heat my house for the winter. I wrote to the company asking them how many BTUs I should expect per bag, but they haven't gotten back to me yet --I told them it wouldn't be until next year, so they're probably just researching it a little so they can give me a more accurate number.


Behold the Pop.

I am a huge, huge sucker for the power pop - especially old school. The Rubinoos, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Squeeze, Jellyfish and Todd Rundgren & Utopia, to name just a few. If you never heard of them, you never worked in a record store* in the 80's, and nothing has been written in the last ten years that perfectly captures the pop sound.** Rooney came damn close. Fountains of Wayne probably came the closest, and if it wasn't for Rachel Hunter as Stacy's Mom, you probably wouldn't know who they were either. Be warned, it doesn't float everyone's boat.

It's melodic, it's exuberant, it's fucking happy, sometimes even when the song is about something sad. A handful of the more current bands I enjoy incorporate a pale measure of this pop sound -- bands like Bowling for Soup, Nine days, Nerf Herder, Silversun Pickups, American HiFi and New Found Glory come to mind.

A perfectly crafted pop song is a thing to behold. It's impossible to listen to true, honest to god, sugary-sweet pop music and not be instantly transported to a better place in your head.

So without further ado, I present Head Automatica, my new favorite fantastic pop band.

It's so over the top it's amazing. You can listen to the whole CD there, and it will start playing when you hit the site if you have a quick connection.

Enjoy. Turn it up and dance around. Play some air guitar power chords. I won't laugh, I promise. Because I'm doing it too, and I can't dance for shit.

I'll be back with something mildly amusing shortly.

*flat discs of vinyl, with a single, spiral groove that runs from the outside edge to the inside spindle. In this groove resides a teeny, tiny group of musicians who play their music while being chased by a gigantic needle of death. You need a microscope to see this. Alcohol helps too.

** If you know of something fantastic that I'm unaware of, please share.


Now even the women can get in on the fun!

I've been doing this for years, and now with this handy kit, I can finally share one of my favorite pastimes with my friends and family this Christmas.