Keep your goulash warm

I talked to the refrigerator again today.  It is such an arrogant machine. Beep beep beep. Yes I know the door is still open, you’re so clever. But can’t you see I’m looking for the leftover pizza and I can’t do it with the door closed? Can I?

So go beep yourself while I  push this disgusting bowl of leftover cauliflower salad with 10W30 dressing to the back. What the firetruck? Are those tofu cubes floating in a casserole dish of noxious and wiggling Chernobyl  Surprise?

Hold on. The Microwave just said something. It sounded a lot like Beeeeeeeeep. Really long. Something like the refrigerator but with a very snotty, condescending tone.  A nanny nanny boo boo feel.

“I’m just trying to keep your goulash warm, dude.  I beeped after 30  seconds, but where were you? So I beeped again. And will do so until the end of time.”

Only, now it’s a different beep. Just a short, single, beep.  Like a mean dog trainer shouting  “You vil heel.”

Beep. “Your lunch is getting coooooold. Look,  hammerhead, (‘That’s Mister hammer head to you.’) you’re not the only one waiting for me to warm their meatloaf.  If you don’t want to hear the beep, then get up off your fat butt dialer. Get your ooky looking goulash and get out. BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

And just after I tried to understand what the dishwasher was saying. What an odd little bucket of bolts.  It doesn’t speak so much as it rumbles and shakes. Like a driverless cement truck that jumps the curb.

It rumbles like an uncle clearing his throat or signaling for a Heinecken maneuver.  You pack it full of the good china and drop in one of those  plastic-wrapped  horse chestnuts of soap with the red dot in the center. They look almost good enough to eat and you’d think it could at least say “Don’t eat those, you idiot.”

(‘That’s Mr. Idiot to you.’)

From another room comes the voice of K-Mac: “Are you talking to yourself again, dear?” There’s no way to answer  without feeling like Mr. Idiot. “Are you doing both sides of the conversation, dear?”

Wait a minute. What’s that blaring WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH from somewhere outside? Almost like a car horn. Uh oh. That is a car horn.  But is it our car horn? I shout ‘K-Mac, is that our car horn?’ She says something helpful like “What car horn?”

Here’s a tip I’ve picked up over years of hearing car horns at night. “It’s always your car horn.”  Then, at 3 a.m., with the neighbor pounding the door and you spending precious minutes looking for your other slipper — but you can only find the foot to your Fred Flintstone costume — and you finally open the door and… the farouking horn stops.

Beeeeping. Rumbling. WAHHHH-ing.  Did I mention beep?  Is it irony that I used to think Latin was hard? Or just a cosmic BWAAAHAAHAA?

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, funny, The human comedy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pyrrhic Victory #2805

That night, the monster inside O’Reilly awoke. It spread its wings, believing it could fly, but, of course, it could not. So it started thrashing around down there in O’Reilly’s innard rooms, smashing picture frames, knocking over lamps, carving its initials into the walls.

So pitiless is the night. You write one little constructive critique on a friend’s blogsite about her decision to take in yet another homeless cat and suddenly, in the dark, you’re Benedict Arnold.

Or maybe you inartfully suggested your friend’s thing about cats is a warning sign of highly contagious mental health.

Or perhaps you went and said it’s one thing to have seven cats, but quite another to have seventeen – not one of which you like. Not even the one who has apparently fallen in love with your raw toes.

And yet, you are the complete idiot.

Seeking solace, you stuff one little pizza—well, one little extra-large meat-lovers pizza—into your face before bed. In the night, its pepperoni eyes burn like flares. It sees you but you cannot see it.

The best you can do is feel it. And you do feel it and you hear it loudly barking at you in long, jagged belches, not unlike a backfiring Datsun 210.

For the rest of the night, alone and questioning the existence of a cat God, you become hopelessly tangled in the sheets, waging, a familiar fight to the death from the porcelain chariot. You just barely, survive, recalling from history classes past the Greek king Pyhrrus whose battlefield victories were more costly than defeat.

In an agonizing moment of clarity, O’Reilly saw how much alike were pizza and betrayal. In the waking hours, each is easily taken for granted. Pizza: saucy, seductive, cheesey good looks.

What harm could it do? It practically begs to be snorted whole up your nose—though you resist, for the last thing you want is to become a posthumous anecdote in an emergency room.

Yet it is also flexible enough to be sliced any way you like. If you don’t think you can handle eight pieces, slice it into six and devour without guilt or digestive huzzah!

As for betrayal, well, first there is your naively solemn or solemnly naïve promise-to-self: never do that again. Which holds firm like an iron straight-jacket. Until an empty voice in the night, down in the bile ducts, starts nagging:

I want. I need.



Wanting is one thing, but, Dude, needing is a need. If that need is not satisfied, you could fade away like that waddling, ex-governor of New Jersey, or that vampire ex-mayor of New York, or the fat, golf cart-eating troll (that’s right, golf cart-eating) known on global wanted posters as the Sand Trap of Democracy.

And somewhere, a long-dead folksinger moans from the grave the all-too-familiar pizza dirge “Oh the dreadful wind and rain and extra pepperoni.”

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, Mockery and derision, News You Can Use (Sort of) | 5 Comments

Discontent, datcontent

I would like to take issue with the irritating misuse of the term content.

Understand, I’m not talking about content as in “She was not at all content to be married to her great uncle.”

Rather, the kind of content which can be contained. As in “The content of the alligator’s stomach included bits and pieces of her great aunt.”

And, by taking issue, I mean screaming, shrieking, stomping my feet, throwing myself on the floor, kicking, pounding my fists, punching walls — essentially everything one does when overdosing on horse tranquilizers, and then going to the ER and waiting six hours for the wall punching specialist to come in from the golf course with a bucket of spackle.

In medical parlance this is what they mean when they say somebody is beside themselves. If you are unfamiliar with the term —  perhaps because you’ve been living under an unlicensed rock these past few years — then you’re obviously dead. Go away.

But in case you’re just a little bit alive, perhaps sitting slumped over in an uncomfortable plastic chair in a crowded emergency room, bleeding and broken, maybe an eye poked out, a leg missing, an arm hanging by a thread, you might consider the aptness of the metaphor “beside yourself.”

The dictionary describes it as “a state of extreme agitation or excitement, as in “She was beside herself when she found she’d accidentally married her great uncle.” This phrase first appears in the Newer Testament (Acts I, just before intermission): where some busy-body pharisee says “Paul, thou art besideth thyself; getteth it together Dude-ith, lest someone tell Judith.”

Think about it. Have you ever been so upset, so flailing and hopping mad, such a blur of motion as to almost appear to be beside yourself?   

Have you ever been beside someone else who was beside himself? Did it make you beside yourself? And was there still room on the sidewalk?

As illuminating as this discussion may be, without doubt you are wondering “What does this have to do with this guy’s burning agitation over the misuse of the term content?”

Think of it this way. Would you ever say to Shakespeare “I just read the Merchant of Venice. Nice piece of content. Do you do ransom notes?” 

Yes, yes, Shakespeare is dead and you’ve never read or seen The Merchant of Venice. Nor have you kidnapped anyone lately and felt the need to communicate.

The point is, on the internet you will find line after line of what used to be called words. A collection of words used to be called a story, an essay, a play, a speech, a poem, a screed, an arrest warrant, a driver’s manual. And so on.

Anymore, in an Orwellian overthrow of norms not covered by the lying press, these lines are now called text.

That’s not the worst of it. If you collect several examples of text, you have actually produced content. And if you do, you are not called a writer. You are known by the exalted title of “content provider.”

And, instead of saying “French literature” you now say “French content.” (French kissing is now called tonsil editing.)

Some things, for the moment, are still the same. On a bag of potato chips or box of Rice Krispies you will still find “The contents within may have settled.”

Yes, but settled for what?  For less?

Depends on the lawyer

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, funny | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Rebuilding the dead

Q. What exactly are power handles?
A. They’re pretty much what they sound like. You use them to hang onto power

Q. But isn’t the idea of hanging onto power metaphorical?
A. No, the idea of hanging onto power is one of the most basic instincts of life. Like breathing. Or making a rude noise and immediately slapping your hand over your head and asking, as innocently as possible, “Did somebody step on a duck?”

Q. So, power handles aren’t tangible?
A. You’re thinking of “love handles.”

Q. I’m thinking of what I want for lunch.
A. Be careful. What you want and what you get are often two different things

Q. That’s like Mick Jagger saying “I see a red door and I want it painted black.
A. He also said “You can’t always get what you want.”

Q. What are some other basic instincts of life?
A. Lying, back stabbing, front stabbing, getting your fair share and the share of the guy in front of you, extorting lunch money from PhD candidates in the school yard, blaming everything on someone else, falsely claiming honors like the Congressional Medal of Honor, or shouting “Call that chair!” at the right hand of the Father.

Q. Why do so many people crave power?
A. It’s not so much power as it is a defense against being ignored.

Q. Is that because the dead are so often forgotten?
A. Not always. There are dead people who know how to hold onto their power.

Q. How do you do that?
A. It’s all in the handles on your coffin. And the training of your pallbearers. Something you need to be very specific about in your will.

Q. Always wondered. What if your name isn’t Paul?
A. Security! Little help please!

Interview with a procrastinator



Interviewer: Aha.
Procrastinator: Sorry I’m late. I overslept.

Interviewer: I thought you’d forgotten our appointment.
Procrastinator: No, but I did forget where I put my clothes.

Interviewer: And what is that thing you’re wearing on your…? Is that a dish towel?
Procrastinator: It’s one of my Baltimore Orioles sweat socks.

Interviewer: Forgive me if this sounds rude, but they stink.
The Orioles or my sock?

Interviewer: Is there a difference?
Procrastinator: Hey, we’re rebuilding. Any year now. Anyway I was having a nightmare about being naked in public. I woke up and was about to decide not to come but I put off the decision until next year.

Interviewer: And yet here you are. Late for today but early for who knows when.
Procrastinator: Actually, I’m late for last week but I still haven’t decided about coming today. I’ll let you know tomorrow, unless I forget. Meanwhile, there’s still plenty of time to decide about putting next week’s appointment off until the following week. And since that slot looks like it will be open, I’ll try to get there for today’s appointment. Probably.

Interviewer: May I just say, you seem to have a problem getting it all together?
Procrastinator: Uh.

Interviewer: Is something wrong?
Procrastinator: Well, um.

Interviewer: I’m naked aren’t I?
Procrastinator: Completely.

Interviewer: Damn. I thought sure I was awake this time.
Procrastinator: It happens. I have an extra sweat sock.

Interviewer: Did somebody step on a duck?
Procrastinator: Hey. You’re not exactly in a position to be accusing anybody else of rebuilding, you know.

Interviewer: Is it next year yet?
Procrastinator: Quack, quack quack.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, Mockery and derision | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Releasing the krakken

Before I got started, I received a text from the site police. “We’ll need to verify it’s you.”

“Why can’t I just say ‘It’s me?” I typed.  The snarky reply text said “That is a question that not only shows your ignorance in a time of Pandemic and Pandemonium, it shows, well, your farouking ignorance if you know what I’m saying, which you probably don’t.”

Okay, to verify it was me, I had to answer one of the secret questions I answered when I registered on this site last September. When I signed on, the site police selected one of those questions and I had to enter the exact answer I gave last September.

For example, one of the questions posed last September was “Where did you and your spouse first meet?” That sounded like a simple question with probably a simple answer to remember. The problem is, I couldn’t remember the exact, simple answer that I used. And I felt uneasy. So I stalled by typing “Who says I have a spouse?”

Came an immediate reply: “Internet security is no joke pal, because jokes are funny. While accidental funny can be funny – sometimes even hilarious —  it’s usually followed by the kind of impotent rage that requires us to dispatch a krakken.”

“Okay.” I typed in the very tiny box reserved for very tiny comments. “I have a spouse.”

 “Error. Your answer does not match our records. Try again. Meanwhile, we are alerting the krakken.”

I got nervous. Did they mean try that same question again? Or try a different question? Maybe try a different spouse? I typed in “It’s very complicated. My spouse and I never actually met that first time. See, I had a blind date that night and when I went to meet her, her roommate said she was out for a walk with a friend. I asked who was the friend. She told me some guy named Sal. I said ‘Wait. My name is Sal.’ The roommate said ‘You don’t look anything like the other Sal.’

‘That’s because I’m not the other Sal,’ I said. ‘I’m the Sal who looks like me and who is also looking for his blind date.’

‘She’s not really blind.’

‘That’s a relief. I’m not blind either.’

‘Although the other Sal did have a seeing eye dog.’

‘Wait. How do you know it was a seeing eye dog?’

‘I asked him.’

‘You asked the dog?’

‘Dog’s can’t talk. I didn’t think I’d have to explain that.’

‘Hold on. You see a guy with a dog and you just assume he’s blind? The guy, that is.’

‘Your point?’

‘That’s kind of rude, don’t you think?’

‘That’s what Harriet said.’

‘Who’s Harriet?’

‘She’s the one out walking with Sal. Duh.’

‘But I’m supposed to meet Lorraine.’

‘Who’s Lorraine?’

‘Uh, my blind date?’

‘Why didn’t you say so?’

‘I thought I did.’

‘I didn’t actually hear the word ‘so.’

‘So,’ I said. ‘Now what?’

‘Hold on. Some krakken just texted he is getting out of his car. You might want to look behind you.’

I began to think something was amiss. I hit the EscK (escape the krakken) button and the screen went blank. I looked behind me.  Coming up the walk from the curb was a krakken. I’d never actually seen a krakken, but I remembered the old saw: If it looks like a krakken, it’s either a krakken or Donald Trump, Jr. I knew I had no other choice. I simultaneously hit the Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys and I vanished.

“Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Ahhhhhhhh!”

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, funny, Mockery and derision, The human comedy | Tagged | 4 Comments

Coming up short

This may not be important, but don’t you suppose at some point in history somebody, somewhere was out of sorts because he was out of shorts?

If you are in charge of shorts at your domicile, you’ll be aware that the first question you ask a shorts-wearer coming up short should be “When you say you’re out of shorts, does that mean you checked the shorts basket?”

The shorts wearer in need of shorts may say something like “Well of course I checked the shorts basket. I’m not stupid, you know.”

Often, a nice diplomatic rejoinder to this comment is “No, that’s the first I’ve heard of your stupidity.” If you’re feeling the starch in your own shorts you might add, sotto voce  “Today.”

Sometimes, as you are no doubt aware, the shorts needer hasn’t actually checked the shorts basket. Often this comes from rank stupidity or just fake oh-no-I-forgotfulness.

Too often this is backed up by the clumsy playing of a bogus sincerity card, i.e., a cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die promise — should the sincerity turn out to be fake, which of course it will.

It should be noted that one can only hope to die — with or without a crossed heart —  only so many times, before some busy, heavenly numerary, pressed by The Big Steamer Himself-Herself-Theyself, takes the shorts needer seriously and issues a Croak Order. Not only is the order irrevocable, but it leaves the needer dead in, well, infragrant delicked toe shorts. IYKWIMAITYD.*

Knowing this, the cross-my-hearter will sometimes try a pre-emptive, simulated claim of mental-health-to-go strategy, by blurting an immediate “Sorry-Dude-temporarily-lost-my-mind-and-hoping-to-not-die-heh-heh.”  

However comma while it is one thing to speak of shorts in or not in the shorts basket, it is quite another to speak of shorts in the geo-political context of the shorts drawer. For, as we all know, when you put one shorts drawer next to or on top of another you get drawers. Usually up the ying yang (formerly, the wazoo.) 

Those in charge of shorts at the domicile level are aware that the second question you ask a shorts-wearer coming up short should be “When you say you’re out of shorts, does that mean you checked your drawers drawer?”

The most common answer to this question – from data provided unsung domicile officials —  is a long pause, beginning with “Um,” and/or “Hummida hummida…”

Meanwhile, statistics compiled by the National Shorts Authority show that the contents of only 2.4 out of 10 shorts baskets in America’s laundry rooms are ever transferred into their assigned drawers.

The predictable result: unchecked shorts baskets and unfilled drawers. This suggests, according to Manly Male Man Magazine, a dangerous backup of shorts somewhere in the pipeline.

Perhaps you have seen the public service commercials on behalf of the American  Shorts Cleaners and Folders of Men’s Apparel (SHOCLAFOMA).** They are part of the desperate nationwide “Will you please put your drawers in your drawers for God’s sake” campaign.

By the way – and this, too, may not be important — six  out of ten shorts drawers contain drawers decorated with hearts and/or balloon animals. Which is a crying shame and no one can say if those are tears of woe or insane laughter.

*If you know what I mean and I think you do.

**Not to be confused with “Oklahoma” or even “They call the wind unbreathable” for God’s sake.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved.


Posted in Mockery and derision | 1 Comment

Free wisdom

A few years ago I stepped down as the chief executive officer of a well known Fortune 500 company. Unfortunately, I’m forbidden by a court order to name it—a long story for another time. For now I’ll just call it Cicero Industries.

The name refers to the first century, B.C.’s great Roman businessman, Aurelius “Jack” Cicero, brother to the lesser known orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Little known fact: Jack Cicero was once Rome’s largest dealer in new and used asses.

On my last day as CEO, a young man knocked on my door — a man whose name I recognized as a junior executive on one of the lower floors but whom I had never met. His name escapes me now. Ned somebody.

He’d come to ask me to impart some wisdom that he might use to further his own career and perhaps one day end up in the very office I was now getting ready to leave.

I was almost touched, of course, although the question of touching or being touched by an employee is in itself a touchy subject. Best left for another day. Anyway, I will never forget the words of Ned somebody: “How did you get to be such a really evil bastard?”

I was jolted. On the one hand I felt immense pride that someone had noticed. But on the other I wondered if this was just an attempt by some run of the mill bastard to kiss my evil ass.

Until that moment I had no real grasp of whether my evil example was getting through to all the little bastards down on the lower floors.

I was aware of certain grumbling and whining in various corners of the building, some of it louder than others and always appreciated. But I had always assumed there would be pockets of pissants who remained immune to the random chaos of my rule. In other words, people who just didn’t get it.

Ned dispelled that notion when I asked “Who says I’m a really evil bastard?”

“Everybody,” he answered. “Every human being who isn’t you or me, and speaking of me, I’m with them. Thinking you’re an evil bastard, I mean.”

With pride, I pointed to a plaque on the wall bearing a favorite quotation from Jack Cicero.

“To improve your lot in life, you have to have a lot to begin with. You can’t get ahead by improving nothing. Bare minimum, you need at least a piece of crap which has more uses than you might think. Do- gooders love to turn crap into nice, shiny non-crap so they can feel all warm and gooey inside. Which means there is and always will be a lucrative market for crap.”

“There is your wisdom,” I said to the young bastard. “But it won’t do you any good.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“You’re not evil enough.”

“But I lie, cheat and steal every day.”

“Yes, but do you know why?”

“Um,” he said. (Never a good sign.) “Because, it just feels right? Um, I mean wrong?”

I shook my head as two armed security guards came into the office.

“An evil bastard doesn’t feel anything.”



To the guards I added “Drop him down an elevator shaft.”

And that is why my next project will be to write a guide for getting beyond the easy levels in management—the stupid bastard level. There are stupid bastards everywhere, so many, in fact, they have watered down the concept of a bastard in the first place.

Only really evil bastards can understand this. And if you’re not too stupid, or if your feelings have been surgically removed (recommended) you can too.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved. Oh, yes, I have rights, you know. And I know how to use them.

Posted in Absurd and/or zany, Mockery and derision | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments