The Mata Hari of the Faculty Lounge

Federal agents are warning leaders at top universities to be on the lookout for foreign spies or potential terrorists trying to steal their research.

The Boston Globe

I was sitting in my office, trying to concentrate on raw data for a monograph I was writing on Wallace Stevens. It seemed to me I had found a link between his use of alliteration–say, “Gloomy grammarians in golden gowns”–and the surety bonds issued by his day job employers–Hartford Accident, American Bonding, Equitable Surety. “Wink most when widows wince,” for example, was written the day after he settled a major claim by the Wainwright Wrecking Company for pennies on the dollar. Curious, I thought, and perhaps the sort of apercu that would finally bring me tenure!

Wallace Stevens

A knock-dammit, this always happens. Probably some kid complaining about his score on the mid-term. I steeled myself for the usual irruption. I know that’s how you feel about the poem, but what’s important is what it means–if anything.

I opened my door, prepared to point to my office hours posted there-Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 to 11 during months with “r’s”, third Wednesdays during the summer except August, when I’m available only by mail to a P.O. Box in Truro, Mass.

“What?” I barked with annoyance, as my eyes drifted downwards to–Rasha Wabe, a transfer student from Lebanese International U. She had deep brown eyes like dates but with irises, and a figure I couldn’t figure out because she dressed so modestly.


“Ms. Wabe–I really can’t see you now.”

“Oh, but you must! I simply do not understand this Wallace Stevens man–he is driving me to tears.”

I looked up and down the hall. I didn’t need a crying female student on my curriculum vitae.

“All right-come in.” I motioned her inside and she took a seat in the chair beside my desk where students sat if they ever caught up with me.

I offered her a cup of chamomile tea and she calmed down a bit.

“Now, what is your problem with Stevens?” I asked skeptically. I figured she was just looking for an extension on her term paper.

“‘Chieftan Iffucan of Azcan in caftan of tan with henna hackles, halt!’ What on earth can that mean?”

Stevens: “My job is boring–I think I’ll write some incomprehensible poetry to break the tedium.”

“It may not ‘mean’ anything,” I said cooly. “On the other hand, maybe it does.”

“Well, that is no answer when one has to write a twenty-page paper!”

So it was the term paper.

“There is much that can be said–and not said–about that line,” I mused cryptically as I consulted my bibliography; Bantams in Pine-Woods, 1923, during Stevens’ Hartford Accident years.

“But what can I say-I don’t understand it.”

I flipped through the defendant table of the docket of the Hartford County Superior Court for that year. AAA Construction Co., Abacus Heating & Cooling. Az-Can Aluminum Co.

“Aha!” I exclaimed.


“I think I’ve found something.”

She stood up and came around behind my chair.

“What is this?”

“It’s a key to understanding the nonsense in Stevens.”

“But if you make sense of it, it isn’t nonsense any more–is it?”

She had a point, although by the Honor Code of the American Association of University Professors, I wasn’t allowed to admit it.

“Sort of–but it’s still poetry.”

I turned around as I said this and saw that she had discarded the burqa and was now wearing the minimalist rags in which raqs sharqi–or, to lapse into Orientalisms, the Dance of the Seven Veils, the Hoochy-Koochy–is performed.

“Ms. Wabe,” I said with more than my usual reserve. “This is a breach, real or imminent–”

“‘Imminent’–two i’s–or ‘immanent’–one i one a?”

“Two i’s–of our Code of Student-Professor Relations.”

“What did Yeats say? You can’t tell the dancer from the dance?” she said with a flirtatious air.

Yeats: “I can’t tell the dancer from the dance, so go ahead and shake that thang!”

“I don’t think that will help me when your parents get wind of this.”

“It is understood that I may indulge in petty license during my undergraduate years here in The Great Satan-especially if it helps me bump up my G.P.A.”

She was cool. Probably had an arranged marriage set up for her back home. Getting out of this mess would require all the deconstructionist skills I had learned at the State University of New York-Plattsburgh Avant-Garde Summer Refresher Course.

“Why don’t you save your routine for multi-cultural night at the Student Union?”

“No–the raqs sharqi is performed privately, before one’s beloved.”

Ai-yi-yi. I glanced down at my grade-book. Wabe, Rasha. 3.32. All this to move from a B to a B+? The belly dance would just be the camel’s nose under the graduation day tent.

“Listen, Rasha,” I said.


“I’ve enjoyed your little dance. Suppose I let you in on a little secret, so we don’t end up trading favors of a more illicit sort?”

“That would be most satisfactory, O infidel professor.”

“Take a look at this,” I said, as I pointed to two lines in “Nomad Exquisite”:

So, in me, come flinging Forms,
flames, and the flakes of flames.

“I’m flummoxed by it,” she said.

“Published in 1923. Now look at this list of counsel who opposed Stevens when he appeared in court for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company from 1920 through 1922.” I let my finger slide down the roster of names until it hit the f’s.

“Frank A. Filbert, Esq., Filbert, Frost & Farner,” she read.

“Are you starting to see a pattern?” I asked.

“Hmm. What kind of offices did the ‘F’ boys’ have?” she asked cryptically.

“Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”

“This is most interesting,” she said. “I think I’ll return to my carrel and get to work. Thank you ever so much for the tip.” From terpsichorean temptress to sorority sweetheart, just like that.

She started to re-robe when the door flew open.

“Homeland Security,” yelled a young man in a police-blue jumpsuit, a sidekick standing behind him. “Drop the rhyming dictionary and nobody gets hurt.”

“Aren’t you supposed to read us our rights before you yell at us?” I complained.

“Not if you haven’t signed the Geneva Convention.”

“I went to the Modern Language Association’s 123rd convention in Chicago last December.”

“Plenary session, forum or workshop?”

“Special session. ‘Marianne Moore, Poetess of the Ford: How the Edsel Disaster Could Have Been Avoided by Naming It ‘Utopian Turtletop’.”

Moore and Edsel: “It looks like an Oldsmobile that sucked a lemon.”

“Utopian Turtletop?”

“Moore’s suggestion.”

“Okay. What about her?” He nodded at Rasha. She was fully-clothed by now, which meant that only her big brown eyes were visible through a slit in her burqa.

“Her? She’s a student here.”

“That’s what they all say. Lemme see something she’s written.”

Rasha complied, handing over her notes and outline for the paper on Stevens.

“What is this,” the anti-terror gendarme demanded. “‘Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan’- it doesn’t make any sense.”

“I can explain,” I began.

“Don’t bother. I know undergraduate gibberish when I see it,” he said as he and his partner turned to go. “What’s worse,” he said over his shoulder, “You’ll probably give her a A for it.”


Available in print and Kindle format on as part of the collection “poetry is kind of important.”

Spring Cleaning for Poets

Spring comes late in New England, so we’re behind the rest of the country when it comes to spring cleaning. I tackled the garage last Saturday, we did the patio and the backyard the next day, and as we finished up my better half made the sort of helpful suggestion that always casts a pall over the rest of the weekend.

“Can you do something about those four stanzas of three lines each at the bottom of the basement stairs?” she asked.

“That’s a villanelle I’m working on,” I said, and if I sounded a bit miffed, I was. “What do you care? It’s not in your way—you never go down there anyway.”

“I nearly broke my leg stepping over it when I was bringing up the lawn furniture.”

That sealed the deal—around our house it’s safety first, last and always. We keep one of those flip signs in the front vestibule: “543 days without a major household accident,” and we turn the card just before going to bed each night.

“Maybe the poetry is starting to pile up around here,” I said.

“‘Starting to’?” she asked dubiously. “We agreed that poetry was going to be your thing—along with garbage and changing the cat litter—remember?”

“Okay,” I said, recalling our longstanding division of labor. ”I’ll do a poetry next Saturday.”

Today when I took stock of things I found that the clutter was worse than I thought. There’s the big notebook I take on the train each day and the little notebook I keep in my desk drawer for moments of late-night inspiration—those were full—but I also found scraps of poetry in my winter coat pockets, in the console of my car, in my brief case. All of them possessing some merit, some lyrical element, but none of them finished, none of them formed into a literary whole.

There was children’s poetry—”Fuzzy, buzzy bumblebee, hope he doesn’t land on me!” There were lines that expressed the tragic sense of life: “Something is born, and something dies.” That’s not going to find its way into Reader’s Digest. There were wistful recollections from my boyhood growing up in a small town. I was enamored of them all when I wrote them but I had to admit–they weren’t going anywhere.

Eliot: “I just picked Ezra Pound’s pocket.”

Still, I hated to just throw them out—what a waste that would be! I try to maintain a pretty small poetic footprint; like e.e. cummings I don’t use capital letters all the time, I sometimes write haiku with lines of 5, 6 and 5 syllables (nobody ever notices) and I frequently recycle other poets’ best images. As fellow Missouri poet T.S. Eliot once said, “Mediocre writers borrow, great writers steal.”

They didn’t really hang together, though, my many fragments of inspiration. I needed some guidance that only the best poetry can provide, so I turned to this month’s issue of plangent voices magazine, at $3.75 your best entertainment value. If your tastes in entertainment run to the obscure, the impenetrable and—in the special Christmas double issue—offensive poetry.

Call me bitter, but when I was removed as editor of that forlorn little rag in a bloody coup (I was treated for severe paper cuts at the student infirmary—$10 co-pay!), I had it headed in the right direction. We had doubled our subscriber base from one to two (thanks Mom!), we had cut our backlog of unresponded-to submissions from 2,348,274 to 2,348,251, and we had adopted a tough anti-favoritism policy that would become a model for the non-profit poetry (but I repeat myself) industry. If, for example, a poem was approved for publication by an editor who had already slept with the author, a second anonymous editor had to sleep with him/her as well. Then and only then was the poem deemed worthy of publication.

plangent—as it is known to insiders of the poetry game—had lately become a fierce advocate for so-called “flarf” poetry; poems assembled from the results of odd internet searches such as “rubber bustier” and “discount tire sale” and “Vic Wertz” were combined in an aleatory fashion, producing results that were sometimes striking, and sometimes . . . crap. Just like regular poetry!

Image result for vic wertz
Say it softly, gently, and don’t fear repetition:  “Vic Wertz . . . Vic Wertz . . . Vic Wertz.”


But I didn’t need to go to the internet—I had random, unrelated scraps of language sitting on the desk right in front of me. So, I took my scissors and created this reusable, dishwasher-safe poem from my winter’s worth of poetic fragments. Enjoy!

Fuzzy, buzzy bumblebee—
I saw where Scott Joplin played his ragtime to trail-weary cowboys.
The Citgo sign, rolling up and down like a windowshade,

A cynical tongue in one so young—
They dropped Eddie on his head, we said.
Ah, the mistakes we make when we are young!

What were they thinking, my dad and mom
When they decided to call me “Con”?
The crazy ladies to whom I send poems

excite me by long-distance pheromones.
The cats sits on my lap, langorous, while
helicopters and gulls circle overhead.

Available in print and Kindle format on as part of the collection “poetry is kind of important.”

I Miss Miss Congeniality (Runner-Up)

I once dated—and I’m not making this up–
not quite a Miss Congeniality, but a runner-up
at the Miss Massachusetts Teenager Pageant
Yes—she was my lady, and I was her gent.

Image result for miss congeniality teen pageant

I met her on the outbound T
we both got off at Copley Square.
She was more than congenial enough for me
and had blonde highlights in brunette hair.

Image result for copley square t station

We started to talk of this and that–
actually, to be more specific–
about a crazy guy who jabbered as we sat,
stifling laughs at his dementia tres horrific.

Image result for crazy guy subway

I suppose that’s a flaw that would hurt your chance
if you revealed it when asked a beauty pageant question.
“Are there any social causes that you like to advance?”
“No but I crack up at guys with manic depression.”

Image result for teen beauty pageant question

We went out for a while, I had just hit thirty,
but no matter how hard I tried to get her into the sack
she resolutely refused to do anything dirty.
She’d go away for the weekend, and call when she got back.

Image result for copley square bar dave mckenna

I never quite pieced her personality together;
We eventually stopped seeing each other.
I needed a girlfriend who was more than fair weather,
not always running off to take care of her mother.

And so I miss Miss Congeniality (runner-up),
fate dashed her from my lips like a flowing cup.
We coulda been something, her and me,
but instead she’s just part of my yuppie history.
Image result for crazy guy subway

I suppose there’s a lesson, however odd,
for all who would strike up an acquaintanceship
on public transportation, with a beautiful broad:
a lunatic’s not enough to sustain a relationship.


Walk for Man Boobs Draws Cheers, Jeers

WAYLAND, Mass. With the belated arrival of spring in the Northeast come the numerous walk-a-thons, 6 kilometer races and other charitable fund-raising events that crowd the region’s roads once winter is over.

Man boobs: Occupational hazard of round-shouldered bloggers.

“We have old narrow highways, so sometimes tempers flare when a walker runs–er, walks–somebody off the road,” says State Trooper Jim Hampey as he monitors two different streams of volunteers converging at the intersection of routes 20 and 27. “It can get ugly in a hurry, assuming you didn’t start out ugly in the first place.”

For one such event, the Walk for the Cure for Man Boobs, the ten-mile route is a mine field for those who suffer from the affliction, as participants in the “Break the Chain Walk to End Smoking” taunt their flabbier fellow walkers. “Hey fat boy,” says Claude Thurman, a rail-thin cigarette addict who gets his oral gratification from Marlboro Lights in the hard pack. “Those things are worthless as tits on a tomcat!”

“You guys are like totally gross!”

“May be, pal,” says Furman Boul, a claims adjuster who has spent the better part of the winter on his sofa watching televised sports, “but I’ll be reclinin’ in my La-Z-Boy where your bony ass is six feet under.”

“Why don’t you bend over and pick up your dirty laundry!”

It’s not just other men who are dismissive of victims of man boobs. Women line the streets when the long file of sufferers moves through Sudbury, and they make it clear that they think the supposed ailment of the marchers is all their fault. “Why don’t you lift something heavier than a 12-ounce can of beer every once in a while,” yells Linda Fairley, who has just come from a private session with a personal trainer that shows in her well-toned upper arms and torso. “You eat a bag of marshmallows,” she yells at Wade Newsome, “you end up looking like one.”

“Foot long subs . . . foot long subs!”

Sympathy runs low for the victims of man boobs because they are viewed as partly responsible for their condition, or at the very least capable of correcting it. “I don’t know why those guys get their own march,” says Norton Dennison, executive director of VOSII, an acronym that stands for “Victims of Self-Inflicted Injuries.” “I’ve got guys who fell out of tree stands hunting or ran over their own foot with a lawn mower who are in much worse shape.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “The Spirit of Giving: Untrue Tales of Inspiration and Generosity.”

Happy Hairball Awareness Day

A rainy Saturday. There’s just me and two cats, Rocco and Okie, three sullen males grunting their way through the day–as usual–while the wife’s running errands.

Rocco: “You insensitive clod!”


And yet something’s–not quite right. Okie, the elder cat, seems–distrait. Taciturn. Phlegmatic. And those are just leftover vocab words from my son’s senior English class.

“Just leave me alone–okay?”


He sits on a windowsill, staring off into the middle distance, as if he’s depressed. He’s indifferent to my attentions, or perhaps I should say more indifferent that he–or any other cat–is normally. Rocco’s outside rolling in the dirt, so I amble up to him for a sidebar.

“Great day, huh?” I say.

“Yeah. I’m going to hassle those stupid long-haired chihuahuas next door.”

“Okay, but get that out of your system early–I want to take a nap this afternoon. Hey–have you noticed anything funny about Okie?”

“Yip, yip, yip!”


“Funny strange, or funny ha-ha?”

“Strange. He seems somewhat–distant today.”

Rocco looks at me with a pitiless expression and shakes his head. “You are so freaking clueless.”


He takes a second to scratch for a tick under his chin. “It’s all about you–isn’t it? You sit there at your computer all day in your own little world. Never thinking about anybody else.”

“Hey–if I don’t sit at my computer all day, you don’t get any Iams Low Fat Weight Control Dry Cat Food.”

“Oh, whoop-de-do! That stuff’s so bad I’d rather eat the bag.”

“You’ll thank me in a couple of years when every other cat in the neighborhood has a gut that’s dusting the floor. But seriously–is something the matter with him?”

“Don’t you know what today is?”

St. Swithin: Peace out, dawg.


I search my memory. Not Arbor Day. Not my elder sister’s birthday. St. Swithin’s Day? Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding anniversary? “I give up–what?”

Rocco closes his eyes, as if he can’t believe how stupid I am. “It’s Hairball Awareness Day, you mook!”

I’m confused. “Okie’s a short-hair. Why would he get emotional about hairballs?”

“You are such an insensitive clod,” Rocco says, licking his white ruff. “Hairballs can strike any cat, at any time–long or short-hair.”

“I didn’t know. We get so many solicitations at work. United Fund. All kinds of diseases. You don’t expect me to keep up with all of them, do you?”

National Hairball Awareness Poster Child


“Look–just because there’s no washed-up comedian doing a telethon for Hairball Awareness doesn’t mean you can completely ignore a cause that means so much to someone right in your own home!”

“Ack-ack-ack–it’s the sound of a hairball attack!”


“But I don’t . . .”

Rocco cuts me off. “Okie’s mom died of a hairball.”

Okay. ‘Nuf said. I “get it.” “Jeez–I didn’t realize.”

“You should go talk to him. Maybe buy a bracelet, or at least a ribbon.”

I take out my wallet. I’ve got four ones and a twenty. Stupid cat won’t know the difference.

“And don’t try to stiff him like you do the mini-mites hockey kids who accost you at the stoplights with their coffee cans.”

“You cheap bastard–giving a kid a cents-off coupon for a granola bar!”


“You’re right. I’ll go talk to him.” I go back in the house and Okie’s still sitting where he was when I left, his chin on his paws.

“Hey Oke,” I say, “I’m . . . uh . . . sorry I forgot about Hairball Awareness Day.”

He looks up at me without anger. “That’s okay,” he says. “Who was it that said the universe was indifferent to our suffering?”

Camus: 1951 Existentialist Rookie of the Year.


“I don’t know. Either Albert Camus–or Yogi Berra.”

He lets out a short little sigh. “I think of the poem by Auden . . .”

“Musee des Beaux Arts?”

Auden: “At least this post has a smoking section.”


“Right. How suffering takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window . . . “

” . . . or just walking dully along?” I say, finishing the line for him. Nothing like the consolations of art–their purgative powers–to help one get over sadness.

“I tell you what,” I say. “I’ve got $24–I’m going to make a contribution in your mother’s name to the National Hairball Foundation.”

His eyes mist over–or at least I think they do. “Save your money,” he says.

“But I want to.”

“No–you’re going to need it.”

“Why?” I ask.

“For some Resolve Multi-Surface Fabric Cleaner. I upchucked a hairball on the dining room rug.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

I Am the Poetic Kiss of Death

In a line much admired by Borges, Christopher Marlowe’s Faust says to the apparition of Helen of Troy “make me immortal with a kiss.” I’ve got the opposite capacity–I am the poetic kiss of death.

In the six years since I began writing poetry seriously–and comically–I have persuaded editors to publish eight of my poems. If I’ve got the math right, that’s an average of 1.33 a year, just slightly more frequently than I have birthdays. I’d like to think this isn’t too shabby a track record for a tyro just starting out, but I don’t think I can continue at this torrid pace, in much the same manner that I predicted Pedro Ciriaco, the rookie shortstop of the 2012 Boston Red Sox, would cool down from his torrid .293 batting average to his current .213 with the Kansas City Royals. In his case, it was the law of averages.

Pedro Ciriaco, rookie shortstop phenom: Gone and forgotten.

But not in mine. I anticipate that the frequency with which my poems get published will dwindle and then come to an end entirely for one simple reason; I am the poetic kiss of death. If I keep writing poems and having them accepted, soon there won’t be any poetry publications left–for anybody.

My poems have appeared in five different publications; three have died shortly after they ran my stuff. Coincidence, or something more sinister? You be the judge.

Philip Larkin: “You sure you’re a poet, old man?”

Light Quarterly had been around since 1992, and had published John Updike, among others. Its subscribers included the libraries at Harvard, Brown and Columbia. Tough noogies. They made the mistake of accepting my Lines in Contemplation of a Tragic Accident, and the rest is history, or the end of their history. They’re gone.

Then there was Literary Dilettantes. I actually won their Parody of Epic Proportions contest with The Beerneid, a parody of Virgil’s Aeneid. For those keeping score at home, I hadn’t won anything since 1962 when my Little League Team shocked the world with a 4-2 upset of the Optimist Club team to win the B-level city championship. Chicago Cubs fans like to say that any team can have a bad century, and I can sympathize; I only had a bad half-century.

Virgil: Did he have something to do with it?

But before my poem ever hit the shelves I received an email from the publisher saying “our art director had some personal issues to take care of, which is why the launch was delayed. She was able to start working on the issue but the demands in her personal life are not allowing her to finish for the foreseeable future.” (Note that she didn’t avoid the gerundic, as Strunk & White recommend.)

Strunk & White: “You’re still confusing ‘that’ and ‘which.’”

So just like that, I’ve got two literary homicides hanging over me. The circumstantial evidence would strike a cynical, world-weary cop as suspicious. “What kind of freaking rag shuts down just because its art director has some personal issues to take care of?” you can hear him sneer as the glare of a bare light bulb shines down on my sweat-drenched face. “I don’t know, they said they were legit,” I say after he stops beating me with a rubber truncheon and the Yellow Pages. “They didn’t even charge an entry fee.”

“Okay, let’s take it from the top. You were mindin’ yer own business, imitatin’ Philip Larkin.”

Then I got two poems published in The Poetry Ark, an on-line anthology that was the product of a multi-round competition, like Dancing With the Stars, sort of a Who Wants to Be America’s Next Poet Laureate? I tried to track it down as I wrote this post and I found a reference to it on the internet, but when I clicked on the link I got that “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage” message, the same one I get when I try Nigerian websites hoping to get refunds for my kids’ on-line purchases of high-tech baseball bats.

So that’s three down, which leaves only The Christian Science Monitor and Spitball, “The Literary Baseball Magazine,” which published my poem “The Million Dollar Infield” a few years back. I’ve got a hard copy of the issue in which it appeared, and I’m guarding it with my life. I need something to show the grammar police when they knock on my door and say “Are you gonna come quietly, or do we have to beat you in iambic pentameter until you wheeze like a Hallmark greeting card?”

Available in print and Kindle format on as part of the collection “poetry is kind of important.”

My Liebster Award Acceptance Speech

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, purse-sized dogs and cats.

Image result for purse-sized dog

It is an honor and a privilege to be here tonight as a recipient of a 2015 Liebster Award, the Oscar, the Heisman, the ne plus ultra for bloggers.

I need to thank a lot of people tonight, but first and foremost, Nikki Stern, for nominating me.  Nikki–are you here tonight?  There she is, ladies and gentlemen, over there at table 23.  Let’s give her a big Liebster round of applause.

[Tepid, golf-tournament level clapping.]

Oh, come on, people–you can do better than that!  Can I at least get a couple of “woots”!

[Louder, more enthusiastic clapping, punctuated by woots.]

Image result for woot woot

That’s more like it.  (clears throat nervously)  You know, Nikki is really the nicest person I know.

[Moderate applause.]

No seriously, I truly don’t think she has a mean bone in her body.  That’s why I find her so . . . and I’m groping for the right word now, because I’m a happily married man . . . intriguing.  I mean, it’s like we’re those little Scotty dog magnets, the black and white ones you used to see in tacky gift shops?  The kind where you try to sneak one dog up behind the other, and the other–the one being snuck up upon, not the one doing the sneaking–whirls around as if propelled by some mysterious force.  Like, say, magnetism.

Image result for black and white dog magnets

(pauses for laughter that doesn’t come)  Is this mike on?  Anyway, Nikki is the author of “Hope in Small Doses,” which is a great title and a very heartwarming book if your heart needs warming.  Which mine does, no doubt about it.  “Hope” now comes in two decorator colors, green and orange, and as all good poets know, there’s nothing that rhymes with “orange.”

But I’ve wandered off the path a bit.  I was going to say that Nikki is so nice that she’s allowed me to make up my own questions, which is a good thing, because I was never good at “slam” books in high school, those self-administered personality tests that kids would pass around for you to record your deepest, darkest secrets in, like “Who do you think is better, Herman’s Hermits or The Dave Clark Five?”

Image result for slam books

No, I had a bad experience with slam books in 10th grade.  I had just started dating Lisa Flores–I think we’d kissed once at a homecoming dance.  When the latest slam book found its way into my hands and I flipped to the page that asked “Who do you think is the best kisser?” I ran my finger down the column to find Lisa’s entry and it read–Junior Fidler!

[Gasps from audience.]

Well, you can imagine how I felt–not so hot, lemme tell ya!

But again, I digress.  Nikki has been kind enough to allow me to make up my own questions, rather than struggle in vain to come up with a favorite color or a favorite TV show.  I’ve never been able to keep a favorite color for very long–I’m capricious that way–and I haven’t had any favorite TV shows since “Sea Hunt” with Lloyd Bridges went off the air.

Image result for sea hunt lloyd bridges

So here goes–no holds barred, lumberjack rules, you may tap out at any time by saying the safe word “Blog!”

1.  Where did you get that the ugly car you drive?

Seems strange to say, but I inherited the 2006 Pontiac Torrent that I drive to the train station every day from my son.  Not that he left it to me in his will, it’s just that he’s living in the city and it’s really expensive to keep a car and . . . maybe we better move on to your next question.

2.  Who was your favorite baseball player growing up and why?

Stan Musial, no question.  Great hitter, plays harmonica like me, and as my dad pointed out–he never argued with an umpire.

Image result for stan musial

[Hypocritical, self-congratulatory applause.]

Oh, please.  Like you don’t scream at the ump every time a call doesn’t go your way?  Next question.

3.  Were you raised by wolves?

What the hell kind of question is that?  Of course not.  They were muskrats, or something.

4.  Any scars or distinguishing marks?

Whadda you, the FBI?  As a matter of fact I have an unsightly mole on my right elbow that’s so big it has the right to vote in municipal elections around here.

Image result for raised by wolves
Family portrait, Christmas, 1963

5.  What surprising fact will people discover when they read your obituary?

You mean other than the cross-dressing?  I hope to have that under control by the time I die.  I guess it would be the curious fact that I played harmonica with both Mississippi Fred McDowell and Willie Dixon . . .

6.  Forty years ago, and you’ve been dining out on it ever since.

I thought you were supposed to ask questions, not make snide remarks.

7.  What exactly does “snide” mean, anyway?

Cutting, sly, malicious or sarcastic.  That counts as one of your questions, by the way.

8.  No it doesn’t.

You’d better quit while you’re ahead.

9.  All right.  What was the name of your first pet?

So you’re the one who’s been trying to hack into my bank account!

10.  No I’m not.

Gotcha–you’re out of questions.  So now it’s time for me to send each and every one of my 2,896 followers . . .

11.  You haven’t made it past the 3,000 reader threshold after you’ve been blogging for what . . .

Nine years.  Don’t rub it in.  Send them over to Nikki’s blog.

12.  Aren’t you supposed to recommend five other blogs or . . .

Or what?

13.  Or you’ll break the chain.

Let me tell you something my dad told me the first time I ever saw a chain letter.

14.  Okay.

Do you have to say everything with a number?

15.  I’ll stop after this one.

Anyway, he showed it to me, and told me anybody who’d send a dollar to a stranger because an anonymous letter said something awful would happen to them if they didn’t needed to have his head examined.

Like people who fall for the Liebster Award and spend time answering questions on the internet in the vain hope it will increase their readership and make them rich beyond the dreams of avarice?

Yeah.  Present company excepted, of course.

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