Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Assholes 1 and 2 are at it again, this time with help from a new guy, who we'll call Asshole #4 (fooled you didn't I!) This time they are bothered that the LCD lights on the new 35W bridge displayed rainbow colors on Gay Pride weekend.  In fact, and not surprisingly, they are not at all happy that gay people parade around telling people how proud they are- straight people could never do that!  And don't even get them started on Black History Month (Can you imagine the lawsuits if we tried to have a White History Month?!)  I wasn't going to say anything, but they had such a long conversation about how proud they should be (ironic, huh?) for being willing to speak up and say things no one else had the guts to say.

My post:

Gay pride started because society made them feel like they should be ashamed and they thought they'd have a weekend to remind everyone how silly that was. And we already have White History months. They're called January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December. You guys will not get this, but it is very easy to be a white, straight, American male. We are the Yankees of society. And it may be fun to play the victim card and passive-aggressively say, "I don't care. I just think it's funny, but you know everyone hates me because I'm a white, American male." That's clearly untrue of course, but even if it was, you're still the Yankees. Be humble in your blessings. Which is not only the decent thing to do, it seems to be what Jesus wanted.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life's a Zoo

 I took my kids to Como Zoo, a free, urban treasure in St. Paul Friday.  Saturday my wife and I took them to the Minnesota Zoo, a so-so, but far-from-free zoo south of The Cities.  I hope this isn’t news to you but zoos are lame as shit.  Now before you fire off an angry letter, I’ll grant you that some aren’t. The San Diego Zoo is top-notch.  So is the zoo in Omaha if I remember correctly.  But, as a whole, they’re pretty stupid, and if you enjoy them, and you’re older than 11, so are you.  If I wanted to watch a lousy animal lazing around and scratching himself, I’d get a big goddamned mirror and stay home.  You may say, “But Tom, these are animals you will never see anywhere else!”   Maybe so. But I have seen similar animals and I have a good imagination. You go to the zoo.  I’ll stay home.

“I saw a Komodo Dragon,” you’ll tell me.


“It was awesome!”

“What did it look like?”

“Have you ever seen a lizard?”


“Like that, only bigger.”

I’ll close my eyes.  “Okay, let me think… Yep. Got it.”

“We saw some Gorillas, Orangutans, and Lemurs.”

“I went to Walmart, so, me too.”

“We saw some beautiful tropical fish.”

“I’ve seen fish.”

“But these were colorful.”

I’ll close my eyes. “Okay, let me think of the fish I have seen…now I’ll picture them different colors.  Got it. You’re right, though. They are pretty.”

“We saw a zebra.”

“A horse. With stripes. Got it. Sounds nice.”

And on and on.  Still, I don’t hate going and would take my kids even if I did, of course.  But while they are marveling at flamingos (geese, with hooked bills, long legs and pink feathers. Got it) you will find me people watching, studying how people interact with each other, watching family dynamics, and making mental notes for future blog posts. 

What mental note did I make on these recent trips?  [Idea for blog post] Yes, zoos are a stupid waste of time, but so is life.  You spend time with your family on the Minnesota Trail; if you’re smart you kick around the Tropical Trail a little; you have something to eat; you smile at the people you meet; you step on a few toes; you have a few laughs; and in the end, you get tired and you go home. 

I'm Number One!

I went to bed on Father’s Day Eve knowing I was close. When I woke up on Father’s Day, I learned that I was indeed #1. The World’s Greatest Dad.  Finally. 

I’ve been runner-up to a guy in New Zealand for the past 4 years.  I don’t know if he lost a step or if I gained one but, whatever the case, I have wrestled the title away from his fat fingers and I don’t plan on giving it back any time soon. In fact, I am going to rent a safety deposit box tomorrow so I can safely store the card and button my family presented me during this morning’s awards ceremony.

Now I’m not going to blow false modesty up your ass.  I am a great dad (obviously). But I don’t want you to feel bad either.  I’m sure you do the best you can with the skills you have.  And while it is true that I spent many of the years before I became a dad thinking about what kind of dad I wanted to be (the best), I know that I am fortunate to have been blessed with more skills than you.

My advice, from one great dad to a pretty good one:  Dream big and practice, practice, practice. With a little luck you may be able to knock that New Zealander out of second place!

Friday, June 17, 2011

You're No Fun

A Target Field security guard was recently reprimanded for hassling a lesbian couple that kissed outside a bathroom.  He apparently told them, “Target Field adheres to the Ten Commandments” and “doesn’t allow playing grab ass.”  This got me thinking:  If this guy is going to enforce the Ten Commandments at Target Field, he is going to be busy.

      1-     He’ll need to arrest the guy with the “Liriano is God!” sign.
      2-    He’ll need to confiscate all bobble heads.
      3-    He’ll need to chastise everyone who yells “God damn it!” every time Delmon Young misplays a fly ball.
      4-    He’ll need to punish the Twins for playing on Sunday.
      5-    He’ll need to reprimand all the kids who are talking back to their parents for not buying them a $25 foam glove.
      6-    He’ll need to yell at Jim Thome for murdering a fastball.
      7-    He’ll need to tsk-tsk all the adulterers at the games.
      8-    He’ll need to have a talk with Ben Revere every time he steals second base.
      9-    He’ll need to straighten out any player who protests that an umpire got a call wrong when he knows the call was right.
      10- And finally, he’ll have to give the Twins and their fans a stern talking-to about coveting the Yankees’ payroll.

Oh, and he must have forgotten about the Kiss Cam, which shows couples (and non couples) "playing grab ass" on a 200 foot HD screen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

California Response #7 (Nancy)

From: Nancy (Five hours after calling me retarded she sent another email)
To: Me

"Nearly Me",

I am so glad you thought this email was funny, but I did not. I thought it was not only incredibly immature but rude and condescending. It was a very distasteful joke that I did not appreciate.


From: Me
To:  Nancy

I gathered.  Also, I am not "Nearly Me".  Just some guy who was included in all these emails by mistake (Hint:  Re-check "Nearly Me's address. I know this because I am not retarded!)  

California Response #6

From:  Male Softball Teammate (who gets it)
To: Me


From:  Me
To:  The best damn player on my former team!

Thanks!  You should find a mellower team.

California Response #5

From:  Male Softball Teammate
To:  Me

Is this supposed to be funny?  You should go back to Kindergarten! I feel sorry for you.

From:  Me
To: (Former) Softball Teammate

Not only is it supposed to be funny- it is funny!  I don't want to make you feel bad, but I'm sort of an expert on this type of thing, and this is Humor 101-type stuff.  I'll pass on Kindergarten, but accept your pity.


T. Morgan

California Response #4

From:  Female Softball Teammate
To: Me
RE:  Quitting don't know how funny that is!

From:  Me
To:  Softball Teammate

I gathered. Thanks for your feedback!

T. Morgan

California Response #3 (Nancy)

From: Nancy
RE:  Quitting, and your crush on me

You are retarded.

From:  Me
To:  Nancy

No. No I am not; not by a long shot.  You are too easily offended, have no sense of humor (nor irony), are too quick to anger, and just plain mean.

T. Morgan

California Response #2

From:  Female Softball Teammate #2
RE:  Quitting

Who is this?  (auth. note:  See? Told you someone would ask that!)  Is this some sick joke?

From:  Me
To:  Softball Teammate #2

T. Morgan.  I don't know how to answer that. Maybe. I don't think so, though. My opinion:  Garden variety shenanigans.

California Response #1

From:  Male Softball Teammate
RE:  Quitting 

Bad joke?

From: Me
To:  Softball Teammate

No. A good joke.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Who is This?

Somewhere in California a brewery's softball team is missing a man.  A man with an email address similar to mine it seems. For the last month or so I've been included in emails alerting the team of when and where practice is and/or congratulating us on a good win or hard-fought loss (I think "we" are 2-2 on the season). At first, I assumed that the mistake would be discovered.  Someone would go up to "Nearly Me" at work and ask why the hell he wasn't at practice. He would ask, "What practice?", a mini-sitcom would play out, Nearly Me's address would be corrected and that would be that.  But that hasn't happened. So I took matters into my own hands today.  I responded (to all) to this afternoon's email regarding Tuesday's practice at Dorsay Park with the following:

Dear Team,

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that I am quitting the team effective immediately.  My conduct at last week's game brought embarrassment both to me personally and, what's worse, to our entire organization.  I never should have had those last 6 beers.  I am sorry to you all, and especially to Nancy, who I guess you all now know I have a crush on. I hope you will forgive me.  I hope I forgive myself someday.  You will not be seeing me around work for a while.  I am entering treatment.  Indeed this may well be good-bye as a brewery probably isn't the best place for a guy like me to work.


T. Morgan

Constitutionally Opposed to Assholes

I cyber-ran into Asshole #1 again yesterday. This time he was mocking Liberals for not understanding that the First Amendment gives him the right to be wrong without being called on it. Determined as I am to not "debate" him anymore I simply responded that, "Many Liberals love the Constitution so much, they have actually read it."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Fortunate Son

We are all here to help each other through this thing, whatever it is.  – Mark Vonnegut

The Bulls and I all have one thing in common:  we all needed brothers way back when.  Redman is an only child, The Doctor, Sug and Fugwuh have sisters and Rinji’s brothers were much older and out of the nest by the time we met in 8th grade.  I have a brother, a good one, but I needed more.  We’ve been helping each other through this thing for over twenty years now.  We are family. But we are a far-flung family these days.

I woke up last Saturday in excruciating pain.  If a doctor had asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10 (in case you don’t know [lucky you!] that’s how they monitor pain in the hospital) I would have said “11” with a perfectly straight face.  I was certain I had pancreatitis.  As luck would have it, though, Saturday was also my daughter’s 5th birthday party. You will remember that I’m a guy who doesn’t like his own birthday being all about him, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to make my daughter’s birthday about me. Anyway, I got through the day. But when the party was over that evening, I told my wife it was time to go to the ER.   She quickly fed the kids supper, put them in PJ’s and readied them for some time at grandmas.  The kids and I were in the car; Stacy was in the house grabbing the car keys.  “Finally,” I thought.  Then Stacy opened the door and I heard the smoke detectors going off.  I went inside and immediately smelled smoke. So did she. I called 911, told them the detectors were going off, that I smelled smoke, but didn’t see any other signs of fire. The dispatcher told me he would send someone, not necessarily the cavalry, and that if our situation got worse we should call 911 again. Perfect, thanks.  I called my neighbor, who had been at our party, and with whom I had recently been politely discussing politics (he is as conservative as I am liberal.  No matter.  We are not assholes. We had a sane discussion.)  He ran over, grabbed our kids, one under each arm (with our permission!) and ran them back to his house where his wife and daughters could look after them.  Then he ran back and, smelling smoke too, searched the house for the problem.  He told me he would wait for the fire department so I could go to the ER.  Because he was there, I knew everything would be okay.  Isn’t that a nice feeling?  I don’t know that I can pay a person a finer compliment. Anyway I would have taken him up on his offer, but just then guess who we heard coming?  The cavalry--with sirens blaring and every noisemaker they could find back at the shop hooting and howling. 

All the commotion perked up our other neighbors, one of whom I had seen earlier.  It seems I had not hidden the fact that I was burning up inside from her, because after seeing me she told her partner, “Tom doesn’t look good.”  Now with our cul de sac full of emergency responders, they came running out. Not because of the spectacle but because they were worried about me. My wife was out, luckily, and was able to tell them what was going on.

Inside I was getting my tax money’s worth. The house was a-swarm with firemen. The smell of smoke was gone by then, of course, and they didn’t find anything amiss. I was tempted to hop in the ambulance anyway. “Hospital, please. And step on it!”  But I am not an ambulance kind of guy.  I prefer to walk, hunched over and quietly, into the ER.  Not to mention the cost of an ambulance ride is not how I choose to spend my money.  When our house was at last empty of government workers, my neighbor ordered me to go.  He’d stay at our house and figure out what had been smoking earlier (He is as handy as I am not.  There are no finer hands to leave your home in.) Meanwhile, our other neighbors had told Stacy to call if we needed anything, anything at all.

The good doctor at the ER gave me so much dilaudid that by the time he came and told me my labs and CT scan showed no signs of pancreatitis, and that he didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t really care.  He offered to keep me there to treat my pain or send me home with pain meds.  My entry for the writing contest I am in was due Sunday and, as is my custom, I hadn’t started it yet. That, and the obvious desirability of home vs. hospital made my decision pretty easy.  The doctor prepared me for the trip home by giving me another shot of dilaudid for good measure (he gets it).  Even though it was 1 a.m. we called our neighbors. Our daughter was sleeping with their daughter and our son was sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of the same room. We went and picked up the baby, but let our daughter sleep, grateful once again for our friends generosity.  Then we went home and I passed out.

I woke up early Sunday and wrote my piece (I’ll post it later. It started out great. And then it ended. Poof.) And the neighbors who had been worried by all the commotion the day before invited us over to the family grad party they were throwing for their oldest daughter that afternoon. Stacy and my daughter went ahead while us men stayed behind and napped.  When we got there, Stacy was chatting like she’d been there forever and my daughter was off running with our neighbor’s youngest daughter, who is a year older and practically her sister.  I met everyone, sat down, and witnessed the miracle of family.  My neighbors are friends of mine, of course, but this was the first time I had met some of their extended family.  It was fun to watch. There were stories and laughing; plans were made between two of them to start running together, to push each other.  When everyone prepared to leave, they all hugged the kids and patted them on the heads. I heard an uncle telling one of the boys to “give me a firm handshake and look me in the eyes. Attaboy.”  This, my friends, is what family is. Uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, taking care of each other, teaching the kids how to be good, respectful humans, helping each other through this thing, whatever it is; the ideal home and family for raising healthy kids, and I got to witness it.  Wouldn’t you love to be those kids? 

I went to Mayo Clinic on Monday and was diagnosed with “Internal abdominal pain of unknown origin, possibly due to pancreatitis, possibly due to nerve damage as a result of the same, possibly due to the Celiac Plexus being damaged during surgery, possibly due to organ gnomes chewing on nerve endings like so many hungry mice.”  The plan is to do a Celiac Plexus block, which involves a doctor with a very steady hand sticking two needles into the middle of the Celiac Plexus, a big clump of nerves right below the heart, and shooting in some steroids, hereafter referred to as the “Lance Armstrong Special”, or LAS.

Because I will be sedated for the LAS I need to bring a driver with me.  The soonest my wife was available to take me was June 21st so that’s when I scheduled it. When I got home and told the neighbors whose family party we had crashed the day before the schedule, they insisted that I make my appointment as soon as possible.  They’d figure out a way to get me there. 

Yesterday morning I was on the computer wasting time on Facebook, trying to muster the grace to allow my friends to help me.  Another friend, with kids the same age as mine, saw me on Facebook and sent a message asking how I was. I brought her up to speed and she told me she could watch my kids, or give me a ride, or whatever, “Come on, man. Change that appointment!”  That is when my eyes filled with tears and I felt embarrassed at my fortune.  I changed my appointment. My neighbors are driving me, my other friend is taking my kids (she further insists that she take them all day and that if I’m home early, I should rest, “The important thing is getting you better, I can handle one long day.” How great is she? Seriously.)

I don’t know whether the LAS will fix my pain. But I do know that with friends like mine I’m going to be okay regardless. Do I deserve to be treated like this?  Yes (so do you).  Have I earned it?  Probably.  One thing is certain:  All of this being helped through this thing, whatever it is, this miracle of “family”, is good for the soul.

P.S.  My entry was not good enough to win immunity and I was voted out in a close tiebreaker. No worries, I made it to the second-to-last week, finishing 4th.  My strategy of flying under the radar early, looking like a fat gazelle so the hungry lions would want to take me to the finals almost worked, though it quite possible cost me the tiebreaker, alas.

P.P.S.  My neighbor discovered the source of the smoke and called me with the news before we even got to the hospital (told you he was good).  Care to guess whence the smoke that the smoke detector detected came? The smoke detector naturally. When he pulled down the smoke detector nearest the spot we had all smelled smoke, he found that something had gone haywire and the plastic around the battery connections had melted. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011


This challenge had to be written as a play with two characters, one of whom could only ask questions while the other could only speak in declaratives.  There were a few other restrictions- the point being that we had to tell the story using only the dialogue.

My entry was fairly well received but was not the nearly the best of the week. (Note:  This is an updated version. I added two lines to fix the the biggest flaw. In the original, it was not clear whether the mom had left the family or the earth, as it were.)

My entry:

Setting:   Trees with a river backdrop.  We see a man and a young girl sitting on one of the fallen trees.  They are sitting a couple feet apart and the girl’s legs are swaying.  She is looking at the ground.


What honey.

Do you miss Mommy?

Yes I do.

Why did she leave?

I guess she wasn’t happy, and she wanted to see if she could be.

Is she coming home?

I don’t know, honey. Probably she needs to be alone for a while.  Maybe a long time. I don’t know.

Did you need to be alone?  Is that why you left mommy and me when I was in her tummy?

Sort of. I guess.  I wish I had seen you more. I hope you know that.  I missed you every day.  Me and your mommy just weren’t made for each other.  It would be really hard for us to be married.

Did I do something that made mommy leave?

Oh, no honey.  No you didn’t do anything wrong.  And I don’t think I did either. Sometimes there’s just nothing we can do. Things happen.  But after things happen there’s a lot we can do.  We can try really hard to keep doing fun things and be as happy as we can be.

 I can be happy?

Well (pause) you can be less sad.

Are you happy?

I am really happy to be able to see you all the time now.  Really happy about that.

Are we going to move?

No. I’ll move in to your house with you.  And I’ll cook you breakfast. And I’ll tuck you in at night. And pretty soon you are going to look at me when we talk!

What can you cook for breakfast?



Well, no, I can’t cook pancakes.


Never tried.


I don’t think so.

You’re teasing me, aren’t you?

I am.

Do you like to play outside?

It’s one of my favorite things to do. I love swinging, and going down slides and playing catch and everything else.

Do you have a baseball glove?

Only the best one ever!

Are you teasing me again?

Not really.  It is a great glove. I’ve had it almost my whole life. And I’ve caught a lot of baseballs with it.  I even caught one at a Twins’ game once, for you. I’ll give it to you when we get home if you want.

Why didn’t you give it to me before?

I didn’t know you liked baseball. But I do now.

Would your glove fit me?

Slide closer. Let me look at your hand. (She does. And he takes her left hand and looks at it closely).  I think it will.  We’ll have to pull on your fingers, of course, to make them longer. And I see you only have five fingers instead of six. But we’ll make it work.

Can I see your hand?

Yes. But I should warn you that today I only have five fingers. Here count them.

You have five fingers all the time right?

You got me.  I was teasing again.

Umm, Daddy?

Yes, Sweetie.

Do you know how to give piggyback rides?

Not only do I know how, I once won a piggyback ride giving championship!

Will you give me a piggyback ride to the car?

There’s nothing I’d rather do. Hop on.

To Whom it May Concern

Perhaps you have seen the following email.  It plays on the fact that Obama recently said that Israel should consider going back to pre-1967 borders as part of a peace settlement with Palestine. It is supposed to be a funny joke.

Dear President Obama:

I am writing today with a somewhat unusual request.

First and foremost, I am asking that you return America to its August 20th, 1959 borders so that Hawaii is no longer a state and you are no longer a citizen


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Someone sent a friend of mine that email. She forwarded it to me and asked me to work up a response for her (my first freelance work!).  This is what I came up with:

Dear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,

Thank you for your recent and, as you say, "unusual" request.  As you know the United States currently gives your country several billion dollars of aid every year. That is money that we could use on things like schools, bridges, health care and/or tax breaks. I looked through our books a little and couldn't find anywhere that you had given the great state of Hawaii any aid at all. Therefore the first "unusual" aspect of your letter is its tone, which seems to indicate that you have as much at stake in our borders as we have in yours.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the United States has been in constant conflict with Japan, say, over Hawaii (I would be remiss if I failed to point out to you, as a fellow writer, that your joke fails in this regard. For the satire/comedy to work, there needs to be more of a parallel between Hawaii’s situation and Israel’s.  Failing any parallels the joke comes off as being written by someone who’s trying too hard to be cute).  Back to our silly argument:  We’ll assume that this U.S/ Japan conflict has already lasted 50 years, and showed no signs of letting up without both parties making real concessions.  To justly compare it to your conflict, we’ll put the cost of our pretend conflict at trillions of dollars and millions of lives. Okay? Here’s the thing:  Yes, I would consider returning Hawaii to Japan, while negotiating for a valuable exchange mind you, in order to bring that gruesome, God-forsaken conflict to an end.  What follower of God wouldn’t give up much more for the promise of peace?  I know we disagree on who Jesus was but personally I never forget his Sermon on the Mount. To wit:  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

UPDATE: Goddamn People

Not surprisingly,  the pretty good points I raised to Assholes 1 and 2 last week didn't penetrate their highly reflective skulls. After my post, they commented back and forth to each other about how desperately I needed the blessings of common sense. Asshole #2 even put in a quote, which she seemed very proud of, "The problem with common sense is that it is not so common." She attributed the quote to Mark Twain, of course, because that's what people who don't care to think for themselves do. In fact it was Voltaire, who said nearly that, "Common sense is quite rare."  Indeed, Voltaire. Indeed. I have survived their lashings to fight another day!