Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Childhood Memory Ruined For Me...

I don't know why this should turn my stomach so, but it does...

I'll never be able to listen to "Detroit Rock City" the same way again!

Friday, May 30, 2008

They Really Do Seem to Come In Threes...

Last week, it was my mom. This week it was Harvey Korman (not a relative, but a very important part of my childhood, because I like so many others, watched "Carol Burnett" every Sunday night, then again every night when it went into syndication in 1978).

And this morning at 6:30, I got a call from Aunt Fay, telling me that my cousin Marty (my aunt Rosemary's son) had died. His wife went to check on him and found him slumped over. We're not sure exactly how it happened, but we're guessing maybe he had a hemorrhage of some kind (his father had one once several years ago, and required surgery which he almost didn't survive--my cousins are trying to figure out how to tell him now). Marty was 44. He and his wife have a seven-year-old daughter (a monster, to be sure, but still a little girl).

It was really a shock. I'm glad in a way that Mom isn't here to have to hear it, but my heart is breaking for my cousins right now, especially his sister Mary Ann, who's been battling breast cancer herself for six years. First she lost my mom, who was sort of her ally and partner in fighting the cancer battle, and now she's suddenly lost her younger brother. And for my cousin Julie, who's the same age as I am, and who was in my class in our Catholic grade school (I joke that we braved the penguins together). And who came and spent time at Mom's bedside last Saturday the day before Mom passed.

I wasn't really very close to Marty when I grew up, because we all kind of scattered and went our separate ways. (Also, he and the other older kids used to pick on me when aunt Rose babysat me when I was little.) But he and his siblings were a really important part of my life when I was a kid. It's sad to see these people go so soon. I hope that I can be a source of strength to my cousins now like they were for me just a really short time ago.

Aunt Fay said on the phone this morning, "This family's just going to pot!"

For a moment I misunderstood her and thought she said she had some.

I sure could have used it right about then!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another "Disgruntled" Ex-Staffer Speaks Out

My, my, the rats are not only deserting President Bush's sinking ship, but once they swim to shore, they're squeaking louder than ever!

The White House, meanwhile, has no better defense than the one it usually offers when one of their former Willards spills the beans: he's "disgruntled."

Yeah, amazing, isn't it, how they're always "disgruntled?" And isn't in amazing how MANY "disgruntled" ex-staffers are willing to blab now? Gosh, George, you don't inspire much loyalty, do you? I wonder why that is? for thought. (We'd better store it securely so the rats don't get into it.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back To the Grind...

After a long, hard week last week and a long weekend, I'm back to work (and piles and piles of paperwork today). While I get caught up (which seems like it could take years), here's another Carol Burnett outtake to keep us entertained.

I remember seeing the edited sketch when it was originally broadcast, and thinking it wasn't at all funny, although it was the only time we saw MRS. Tudball (Vicki Lawrence). They couldn't have shown the unedited version on CBS (for obvious reasons), but thanks to YouTube, we now have it for posterity:

Mr. Tudball Needs a Secretary

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mom's Obituary, Photos and Stuff...

I wanted to thank everyone for their support and friendship during the past week since my mom passed I mentioned, I was with her at the end and her passing was very quiet and peaceful.

I'm back in Chicago now, and thought I'd share her obituary and some pictures that I've always found comfort in.

This is the obituary that ran in the area newspapers.

It was slightly edited from what I wrote for them, but they got the gist of it:

Mom Obit

This picture was always my favorite one of Mom and me.

It was taken in 1997, about two months after I'd moved here:

Aaron&Mom 1997

She'd just turned 50 about two weeks before, and I remember thinking that she didn't look anywhere near it. (And yes, I know, I had more hair then.

So what? Shut up!)

The next one was taken not long after that. My aunt Teri was in town (she's in the green shirt), visiting from Louisiana, where she'd recently moved.

I couldn't get down there, because it was short notice, but Mom gave me a copy of the photo:

Family Picnic 1997

My uncle Jim (mom's brother) is on the top left, and my aunt Fay, whom I've mentioned here before, is on the top row, second from the right. They still pretty much look like that. The rest of the family has changed somewhat (mostly because lots of them are kids, and they've grown up!).

We got lots of really nice floral tributes, including this really gorgeous one from The Joans:

Joans Flowers 003

I brought it home with survived a three-hour car ride and I gave it some water when I got here. The lighting isn't the greatest, unfortunately, but you can see what a nice job our local florist did.

The local funeral home, Weber-Hurd, has an online guest book where friends can send messages to the family of the deceased. There were quite a few really nice messages when we looked at it over the last few days.

There was also this one, located at the top:

Bonnie Bitch

Aunt Fay got to watch the steam pour out of my ears when I read the third sentence: "Sorry to see there's no Catholic mass or funeral."

WTF, Bonnie Stroot?!

Allow me to explain something, Bonnie: there was no Catholic mass because Mom didn't want one. She didn't even want a visitation, really, but we had one because we thought it would be nice to have a place where her friends and family who don't see each other often could gather and share their memories. I notice that you weren't there, Bonnie Stroot, although you seem to have had time to write a snooty message.

I shouldn't be too hard on Bonnie Stroot. She's a good Catholic (apparently), and it's important to her that other people be good Catholics, too. In fact, she's such a good Catholic that before she married Dr. Stroot, he had his first marriage annulled. Which, I suppose, means that his four children from that marriage (and with whom I went to grade school) were then illegitimate. And also that her first marriage to one of my dad's best friends, and which produced a lovely daughter who was also in my class, didn't happen.

But when one wants to marry a rich chiropractor, such trifles fall by the wayside. So you go ahead and pray, Bonnie. Pray for enlightenment. My mother had already found hers, and practiced it daily. I hope you can understand that.

And if not, who the hell cares? Go suck an egg, Bonnie Kruger Seidlarz Stroot.

(Authors note: Bonnie K-S-S is not on MySpace, so I shall share these sentiments in a respectfully worded thank-you note, provided by the funeral home.)

Most of all, I've been very glad to spend time with my family this week. They all came together and remembered my mom the way she should be remembered. And for that, I love and cherish them...I'm proud that she was my mom.

Peace out!

Monday, May 19, 2008


I've been scarce for a few days, but wanted to check in and say hi...

I also wanted to share some news--many of you know that my mom has been ill for quite a while with metastatic breast cancer.

I wanted to let everyone know that Mom passed away last night just before midnight. Her last few days were very peaceful and I had spent much of the past week visiting her for Mother's Day and the next few days. I'm very glad I did, because it was the last time I saw her conscious. I returned to work Thursday and Friday got the call from my Aunt Fay that Mom was not expected to make it past the weekend.

I got to Chillicothe (IL) around 6:00 and spent the next few days at her bedside...she was receiving regular doses of morphine and Ativan and her passing was very peaceful.

The nurses at the home were very kind to me and my family, bringing me meals on a tray and making sure we had fresh coffee and water the entire time. They had grown to love Mom during the nine months that she spent there, and they shed lots of tears last night along with us. But we're very relieved she didn't suffer any more and we're grateful to be together right now.

Her visitation is Wednesday night at Weber-Hurd Funeral Home in Chillicothe, and I'll be heading back to Chicago to face my demonic cat (who pissed on my dry-cleaning pile by way of a bon voyage present) on Thursday.

I'll be on and off until then, but will post her obituary and some pictures later this week.

Love to all,


P.S. Get the niceness while you can. On Friday, the bitch is back. ;-)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sometimes You Just Need a Good Laugh. (I Know I Do.)

I found this clip when I was looking at Alexandra Billings' blog was one of the clips that scrolled across the bottom of the one I was watching (also from Carol Burnett). I love it when Vicki Lawrence, dressed as Mama, breaks the other actors up:

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Tagless Meme

Since it's been a crazy week, I had no chance to scavenge the advice columns this week..."Advice Is Now a Habit" will return next Friday at its regularly scheduled time. The role of Aaron will be played by Donal Logue. In the meantime, I share with you the following meme. Nobody gets "tagged" in this one, so nobody has to answer these impertinent questions if they don't wish to...

Happy Friday!

The way to win your heart?
Draw the correct number.

When was the last time you really laughed?
I don't know--when's the last time Oprah wore something sleeveless and yellow?

Do you twirl or scoop your spaghetti?
No, but I've taken it out for a samba once or twice.

What are you like when you're drunk?
Are you implying that I imbibe? How dare you!

Do you drink milk straight from the carton?
I like fresh-squeezed best.

Who knows a big secret about you?
There are no big secrets about me anymore, thanks to you, blabbermouth.

How long is your hair?
Three and a half hours.

Do you like Batman?
Yes, but I'm not ready for a long-term commitment yet.

Who was the last person who told you they loved you?
Julie, the friendly Time-Life operator.

Do you like anyone now?
Stacy's Mom (she's really got it goin' on).

When was the last time you sang out loud?
When Donald Rumsfeld resigned.

What did you have for breakfast?
A banana. And a poodle.

Is your birthday on a holiday?
No, but it oughtta be!

Can you cook?
Yeah, especially books.

Did you have a nap today?
Are you asking about my drinking again?? God, get a life already!

What was the reason you got in trouble last?
I did a dance on Mommy's plants, climbed a tree and tore my pants, filled Dad's sugar bowl with ants, somebody snitched on me.

What do you wear more, jeans or sweats?
I prefer culottes.

When is your birthday?
June 19, 1638.

Where did you get the shirt you're wearing?
This is a shirt? I thought it was a culotte.

Do you have any regrets?
Yes! I'm so sorry I ever brought the whole thing up!

Do you use an alarm clock?
As what?

Where was your profile picture taken?
Nobody took it, I still have it.

Whats the first thing you notice of the opposite sex?
How sharp her teeth are.

What color is your favorite shoe?
Elizabeth Shue. She's sort of person-colored.

Who would you like to see right now?
A psychiatrist. Or Ed McMahon, bringing me my check.

Are you a social or antisocial person?
I'm sort of social, but more economic.

Have the cops ever come to your house?
Yes...they're still chained up in my basement.

Do you have a tan?
A tan what?

Would you rather sleep in the bed with someone, or alone?
Are those my only two choices? Geez, how rigid...

What school do you go to?
Miss Portia Porter's Finishing School. We're learning elocution today...

Last person you laid in bed with?
Agnes Moorehead.

Ever had braces?
Yes, and sometimes I still miss my overbite...

Are you afraid of the dark?
Why, is he outside? Quick, hide the Vaseline!

Have you ever been in a mosh pit?
I ride the L. Every day is a mosh pit.

What's your favorite song?
Anything but "Chiquitita."

Who's your last text message from?
I haven't received it yet.

What's your favorite commercial at the moment?
We're supposed to pay attention to those damned things??

Do you always wear your seat belt?
Well, not when I'm walking, for Chrissakes!

Do you like bananas?
I had one for breakfast, didn't I? Don't you ever read?

What do you wear to bed?
Red pasties and cuban heeled slippers.

Who was the last person to disappoint you?
Beaver Cleaver, when he decided to hide Larry Mondello in his bedroom. Boy, you think you know someone...

Do you trust people?
Only if they're under 30.

What's your sign?
"Closed for repairs."

Is there someone you want to fight?
Only if it's a cockfight. (I could easily take a rooster down.)

Do you know what you want to do with your life?
I was thinking about doing it in Danish Modern. Whaddya think?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Matching Witz With the Best of 'Em

One of my old bosses got me turned onto Andy Borowitz, a humorist who may be best known as the creator of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." That's by far not his best work, though. He's also a brilliant news satirist in the vein of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, only he came first. He regularly appears in New York at venues such as Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction and other clubs.

His daily report always consists of a bogus news item that's spun off of a legitimate top story of the day. One of his trademarks is to use stock character names and insert them into whatever position his expert source happens to be. It's kind of like Roseanne Roseannadanna and her "Richard Fader."

In today's installment, he takes aim at Hillary and the desperate "never say die/just call it a deep coma" tenacity with which she hangs onto her campaign. He even gets a few jabs in at former Arkansas Governor Mike "We Don't Heart" Huckabee.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Working Man's Fairweather Friend

Don't be fooled. Just don't.

You See? Fascists and Communists Can Get Along

A Chinese concert at the Vatican might signal warming relations. Oh, if only the Russia had learned to do this during the Weimar era. We could have been spared that messy war...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ready or Not...

I went down to Chillicothe again Saturday to visit with Mom. I've been going every three weeks, as I may have mentioned before, but this week, things took a significant downward turn.

I talked to her a few times this week (when they managed to get her up in her chair) and she absolutely made no sense at all. She thought she was on a boat. She was heading to the bowling alley. She'd won some raffle drawing and wondered if she got a prize. My aunt had called me earlier in the week and told me what Mom was doing, and we laughed a little at her imagination. But I was really glad that I was going down, because I sensed that time is getting very, very short now. Aunt Fay told me on Friday that Karen, mom's nurse, wanted me to be prepared when I saw Mom and noticed the change.

When I went in Saturday morning, Karen walked with me down towards Mom's room and filled me in again. Mom doesn't know what she's saying or what's really going on. Karen said that she'd been very surprised if Mom makes it until the end of the month. After seeing her this weekend, I'd say it could be even sooner.

Mom was in bed when I got there, but she recognized me and we hugged and kissed each other several times. I held her hand a bit and there's absolutely no grip at all. Her speech is very slurred, both from the medicine and the cancer in her brain. She did get up in her wheelchair for lunch (tenderloin and cheese fries) and ate a few bites, but not all of it (I didn't really blame her--I wouldn't have either!). Her TV set was on and tuned to ABC Family, so we watched the recent "Nancy Drew" movie (surprisingly good, at least after the annoying first few spoiled-rich-girl minutes), another of those damned ice skating movies they're always showing, and several episodes of "Grounded For Life" (pretty good show, actually--I'd never watched it. Oh well, too late now). Mom couldn't really follow any of it, although she'd make comments from time to time that sort of segued off what was happening on screen and bounced into whatever was going on in her mind.

Mostly, she remembered roller skating and climbing trees with her cousin Pat, and her father bringing her a pig home (she's mixed up on that: her aunt and uncle lived on a farm near Joliet, she spent summers there, and they had the pig). Mentally, I'd say she was around eight years old. She remembers nothing about being an adult at all. Karen said, "I'm not sure where she is, but it's a really happy place."

As I listened to Mom talk, I realized that this is what heaven is: it's the happy place we all long for that waits for us when we cross over. It's a place we make for ourselves. And that's what made me realize how close she is. I thought "I'm finally ready when the time comes." I never, ever thought I would be.

I realized that I had to come back to Chicago and work this week, get some things done before I'm out for a week when the inevitable happens...right now, I'm planning to go back next Monday and spend a few days. Aunt Fay said she'll call if anything happens, and of course, I'll go right back if that's the case (that's the beauty of only being two and half hours away).

Once, it would have been unthinkable to me not to be at her bedside when she passed away...but since I can't live in the home with her, I realized there's a real possibility I may not be there. And I'm finally OK with that. I got to tell Mom the things I wanted to tell her this weekend, and that I needed her to know. I've told her how much she means to me and that we'll always be a part of each other and will always visit each other. I walked out of there yesterday afternoon knowing there was a real possibility that I had just seen her for the last time. I can finally accept that, although I don't like it...

On a final note, there were a few gems of conversation this weekend when something distracted her and found its way into her speech. This was my favorite, and I'll leave you with it:

"They don't have very many midgets around here. So they can't really say 'Go Midgets'."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Advice Is Now a Habit - May 2, 2008 Edition

Here I am again, folks! Another steaming batch of the past week's advice column dregs. I take only the craziest, most maladjusted inquiries and give them the treatment that the columnists would probably like to (but that the Universal Press Syndicate wouldn't allow). On your marks...get set...


DEAR ELLIE: I'm 23 and have been with my girl for five years. We have three wonderful children but our relationship has been in a downward spiral for two months, since I introduced her to my male co-worker.

He's come over to our house to socially drink a couple of times; they exchanged cell phone numbers and began to text message each other.

I got upset at them both and my girlfriend said she'd stop talking to him. But I found out they were still talking. It turned into a standoff argument between us. Should I continue to let them talk or should I say we cannot be together anymore?



I notice you say “your girl” and not “your wife.” And you have three kids? Is this one of those modern, hippy-dippy-trippy relationships where “a wedding ring is not necessary because we’re married in our hearts” or some such shit?

Too bad the courts don’t see it that way. You’d better spend less time worrying about text messages and more time figuring out your legal rights/obligations regarding these kids. They need a family, not a couple of immature rugrats who play with electronic gadgets and drink beer all the damn time.

Here’s an idea, Moondoggie: marry her and make her legally yours. As it stands now, you might as well have an orgy in a VW bus.

(Besides, if you’re going to refer to your out-of-wedlock relationship, you’re supposed to call her “your old lady,” not “your girl.” Where have you been--squaresville?)

DEAR MARGO: I have a problem and I need advice. I am love struck. I am in love with a woman (she is 18) from work. We get along great, text and talk all the time, take our breaks together, and have great times. My parents love her. We want the same things in life, have the same beliefs (politics, religion) and really like each other in a romantic way. I want to spend the rest of my life with her except for one problem. She is dating a boy (she graduated high school a year ago and he is a senior). I am getting annoyed because there is very little sign of them breaking up anytime soon. I feel like the other man and I don't know what to do. For background information, he is an 18-year-old high-school football player with no job (he quit his last one), has few prospects in life and shows signs of abusive/controlling behavior that worry me. I am a 23-year-old college student with a full-time job, never married, no kids.

So my question is: Should I just wait for her to mature and break up with him, or tell her my feelings and let what happens happen? I am afraid if I wait around for her to pick the better man (me), I will just be torturing myself. So what do you think?



I think you’re an asshole. That’s what I think.

What makes you so damn sure you’re the “better man?” Oh, so you have a better job than an 18-year-old high-schooler? Well, boogity-boogity. Ain’t you just the shit. Flash that blang.

Should I remind you that she’s 18 years old? And while she no doubt appreciates your friendship, she will also evolve and grow into a different person as she gets older and her priorities change. When that happens, she might just lose this “Humbert Humbert” complex, so I hope you haven’t bought a ring yet.

As far as the “signs of abusive/controlling behavior” this boyfriend is supposedly exhibiting, has he actually hit her? Your letter doesn’t make it sound that way, and if by “signs,” you mean he’s just a little mouthy and swaggering, well, that’s what we commonly call “teenage bravado.” He’ll grow out of it when he grows up a little. What’s your excuse?

If she actually does remain her same sweet self, you’ll no doubt bamboozle her into marrying you and producing several self-righteous, no-necked children who take after you, and your mother (who used to just loooooove her) will start to criticize the way she makes biscuits and raises kids. Soon, she’ll be a hard-faced, resentful nag who wonders aloud why you can’t pick up your crusty underwear off the floor. Then you’ll start drinking, moping and wondering what happened to the Sweet Girl You Married. And exhibiting signs of abusive/controlling behavior.

So you see, the football player’s really better off. He’s getting it out of his system now.

DEAR ABBY: I feel fortunate to be writing this. "Blessed" would be a better word. You see, my family could have been planning my husband's and my funeral today.

We were driving on a busy street when another driver raced out of the post office driveway as we were passing. It happened so fast, we couldn't see who it was -- just an object hurtling toward us. Thank God, my husband had sharp enough reflexes to swerve over the double line. Miraculously, no oncoming traffic was approaching. If it had been, we'd have been hit head-on. Had my husband not gotten out of the way, my side of the car would have been hit broadside.

Why in the name of heaven don't people realize that an automobile is a potential weapon? I hope my letter is worth space in your column. Life is fragile. This happened yesterday, and I am ...



Ah! You used your signature as part of a sentence! How very “Golden Age Radio Drama” of you. OK, seriously…you wrote to an advice column about a careless driver? Ever think about calling the cops, dipshit?!? And did it come as a shock to you that people sometimes don’t pay attention behind the wheel? This happens every day where I live, and usually it’s some numb-nuts on a cell phone.

And don’t over-dramatize about the "planning the funeral" thing, for Christ’s sakes…even if he’d hit you, there’s no guarantee that you’d have been killed. You might just have been maimed and crippled.

You see? You have to start thinking positively.

DEAR AMY: I love my daughter and my two grandchildren, but I am extremely appalled by my daughter's choice of hairstyles for my grandchildren. My grandsons, ages 5 and 6, have very Beatles-esque hairdos. I feel as if people assume they are delinquents. When I am in public with them, I feel as if everyone around us is judging me based on their appearance.

I have tried dropping hints to my daughter; this has gotten me nowhere. I'm thinking of secretly taking the boys to the hairdresser.

I am sick of being embarrassed by my family. I do not want to anger my daughter because we've had our issues in the past. I just want respectable grandsons.



Wow, Rose, by any other name, you’re still annoying as hell. You’ve had “issues” with your daughter in the past? Why? Because she refuses to accept your domineering and strident personality and allow you to saddle her sons with an unflattering and ridiculously outdated hairstyle like you once made her wear? Because she doesn’t crawl to you for approval of her every choice now? Because she dares to make decisions that you wouldn’t? Why, that ungrateful scamp.

I got news for you: when people judge you in public, it’s not because of your grandkids’ hair. It’s because they’d like to pull yours. And who can blame them?

I hate to break this to you, but many people LIKE the Beatles-esque hairstyle, and it’s particularly cute on little kids. Don’t worry about what other adults think. When I was a little kid, I had long hair, too, and although it scarred me for life, all the adults thought it was the cutest goddamned thing ever. So if the kids are happy, let them wear their hair the way they want. There’s no reason to force them into a Brylcreemed buzz cut just to satisfy your nostalgia for some 1950s barn dance.

If you take those kids to a barber because you can’t resist butting in, you’ll have one more “issue” with your daughter when she kicks the crap outta you.


DEAR AMY: I am getting married in December, and I am beginning to get my wedding party together.

I have a dilemma. I have two sisters, one of whom is morbidly obese. Not to sound shallow, but if she were a bridesmaid she would take away from my dreams of a "picture perfect" wedding. (I have been planning my wedding since I was 12 years old.)

My mother agrees and suggests that I ask her to be in charge of the guest book. What do you say?



I say just elope, already! You’re a pain in the ass. I don’t mean to say you are shallow, but if your husband steps in you, he won’t even get his big toe wet.

Maybe when you were 12, you should have spent more time doing your schoolwork and less time dreaming about your Barbie® wedding. Then you could have been prepared for a career to earn your own money, and not depended on some man to bring home your bacon.

Oh, and I hope your sister pushes you into your fucking cake, too.


Well, that was fun for me! Hope it was good to you, too...*exhales smoke*

See you next week!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sometimes, Spitfire Backfires