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  1. 3-D Thoughts By Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    In spite of always having been intrigued by 3-D, I'm not a big fan of the experience. When I've viewed dark/muddy landscapes or body parts flying towards me on the big screen, I've usually remained unimpressed.

    A friend on face book, not one of hundreds I could not pick out in a police mug shot file, but an actual friend wrote, not to bother seeing Gatsby in 3D because it would take away from the flow and grand sweep of the movie.  I took heed. I'm glad I did.  I loved the beyond over the top excesses that took me to a world of make believe and romance.  Even though I actually found myself really looking at him in Django Unchained...  I did not NEED the 3D experience to finally stop resisting Leonardo DiCaprio.


    Anyway, my HP printer is not functioning properly and I don’t know why.  It’s plugged in.  It recognizes my computer – they are having a dialogue that clearly states the printer is out of paper.  That’s not true.  Not only is there paper in the printer, I put MORE paper in the printer several times; that is after turning it off and on multiple times to no avail.

    I have an audition and want to print out the “sides” or the “copy” I need to read in the audition.  What’s a girl to do?   Write it out by hand?   Wow, that was easily done!


    I’ve been thinking about printers a lot lately ever since I saw that 3-D printers will be able to digitize and replicate physical objects like guns!

    That’s right reproduce plastic guns.  What did Cody R. Wilson have to say when he unveiled the 3-D gun The Liberator:

    "Printed guns aren’t even proven technology and are extremely impractical devices from my experience. But there is a symbolic advantage to the individual in being at least capable of printing one.” *

    That's what I want in the 21st century a home printed gun with a SYMBOLIC ADVANTAGE!

     And now cue the Star Trek music… Yes 3-D printers will replicate food!!

    NASA has awarded Systems & Materials Research a grant to continue work on a “universal food synthesizer”**

    Mmmmm! Sign me up for burritos made by a robot and a supply of food cartridges with a 30 year shelf life. 

    It would be great if some global mega-corporation could make (and tax-shelter) an even bigger profit by using NON-labeled GMO as the basic elements of the food cartridges!!



    By The Way...

    GMO Labeling Bill Voted Down In Senate






    Rhonda Hansome is an actress, writer, director, who can be seen 7:30 PM Wed. June 12th on the Main Stage, doing stand-up with her pals at the WorkShop Theater Comedy Benefit.  
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  2.  
     
    I Just Wanted a Spicy Chicken Sandwich to Go

    Last Thursday night, I counted my change and decided to go out to the all-night chicken place and get a spicy chicken sandwich.  I was hungry and didn’t have anything in the house that I wanted or felt like preparing.  It was a warm night and I dared call it spring. Two days later the winter coats were back on, but who knew.  So I was feeling pretty okay, glad to have enough money for the sandwich, glad to have places in the neighborhood that are open all night, and very glad that it was warm out. 
    When I left the store with my sandwich to go, my stomach was so ready and my mouth was watering at the thought of it.  There were people out as there usually are.  One man was walking his dog.  I looked at the dog and the man said hello like he knew me.  I looked at him, and he seemed vaguely familiar.  I couldn’t place him though.  Soft-spoken yet assertive.  Younger than me, maybe 30s.  Tall, husky.  Indian-looking.  I felt cautious.  Then I thought that maybe it is a dog-owner thing and he’s seen me over the years with my dog.  So I said hello back to him.  But my tone and face were more wary than friendly.

    “Do you want to make money?” he asked.
    Then I remembered why he looked familiar.  This creep once approached me a couple of years ago to have sex for money.  He had approached me then too like he knew me.  It scared me and shocked me.  It had been a bright sunny afternoon.  It was his way of doing it – with such ease like it was normal – that made me feel frightened.  For a flash, I felt like I wasn’t in America.  Though I am a grown woman, the incident brought me down that day.  I remember going pale.  I remember burning inside.  I felt so taken aback.  What an assumption – that I’m an item for sale.  And that was with a winter coat on.  It just amazes me that cultures who treat women like that even survive when we all come from a woman.  I have enough trouble with where we are at in NYC.  I have no tolerance to be treated any worse.  I’m aiming for better, not worse.

    It brought me back to the first time I was sexually harassed on the street.  I was about ten years old and with my Grandma, for God’s sake.  We were coming from a clinic at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital for my broken finger when a grown man with dark skin and an accent got in my personal space and said, “Pretty girl” in a sinister tone.  I burst into tears.  It scared the shit out of me.  I don’t know what culture he was from, but he too seemed like he felt totally okay about his behavior to a child.  He did it in front of my Grandma.  He was not ashamed. 
    That is what I find so frightening – the idea that this is okay, normal, expected. 

    “No!” I answered loudly.  I’d rather roll pennies, refund cans and bottles, ask a bodega for credit, borrow from a friend, or go to sleep hungry.  Those things I know from experience I can survive.
    The mother fucker was not easily discouraged.  This is what freaked me out last time.  He just goes right on, in his soft-spoken way, trying to convince.*  At least that is what the tone sounds like.  I barely heard the words.  But unfortunately for me and my thin-skinned self, I did hear “blow job.”  Nausea kicked in.  Fury filled my veins.  Images invaded my head.  I felt the need to boil my mouth.  I knew that was the end of being able to eat my sandwich.  Even though we were yards apart, I felt assaulted and so disrespected.  I did not want him to think I was afraid of him, and I did not want to just quietly go home with nausea.  I didn’t want to feel like I did at ten and burst into tears.  I told myself, you are not ten.  You have a voice.  Use it.  Under it all, he is scared of you.  That is why a young guy would need to buy a woman instead of getting to know a woman.  He is scared of you.  I summoned up a deep and loud voice.

    “I DON’T WANT YOU TO TALK TO ME!”
    He had the nerve to say, “Okay, goodnight.” 

    In his head, we might be engaged.  And that is why I will stock up on pepper spray. 

     

     

     


    *In light of the decade-long horror in Cleveland, I wondered if this soft-spoken scuzzball managed to convince some young girls to go home with him to make money, and I wondered if indeed some missing Bronx girls crossed his path. 
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  3. Memorial Day

    Monday, May 27, 2013

    By Samantha DeRose








    Well, it seems like I just blogged on Friday.  Oh Wait!  I did.

    It's Memorial Day and after several days of winter weather, the sun's out and the barbecue is fired up all ready for me to burn some burgers and dawgs.

    I've lived on the same block for almost 45 years and every year we make our way a half block up to see the Memorial Day Parade.  Old faces, new faces, all honoring the men and women who serve to protect our freedoms.  My father served, my uncles, my friends, and now my former students are serving.

    I remember Anthony, my first little favorite.  He was in 3rd grade when I started my first teaching job.  I tutored him at the library over the summer.  We read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, he wrote stories, and told me his dreams of the future.  Then I blinked and he grew up to serve our country.


    A few years later, I walked in to teach my first AP English class and there sat Chris.  Chris's aunt and I had grown up together.  We used to play Charlie's Angel's and prowl around the neighborhood on Goosey Night.  Chris was in ROTC during his senior year.  He was an amazing student with a sense of humor that was wise beyond his years.  That was one of the best years I've ever had teaching.  Then I blinked and he grew up to serve our country.

    Thank you, Anthony and Chris and all of the students that I've taught, for all that you continue to do... and thank you to all of the men and women who have served / are serving our country.

    Memorial Day 2013





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  4. Memorial Birthday

    Saturday, May 25, 2013

    By Lisa Harmon

    Memorial Day is at the wrong time of year. May is springtime, a time of renewal, not remembrance. Yet right in the middle of all the birthdays, all the nature, all the sunshine, Memorial Day is juxtaposed - a time we remember the dead.

    It sure seems like the wrong time. The joy and youth of spring never seemed to me like an appropriate time to remember the departed. And my birthday is on Memorial Day. Again - a juxtaposition of a frivolous enjoyment on top of a somber and reverent, if not absolutely sad and depressing, holiday. Memorial Day kind of makes my silly birthday seem extra stupid.

    Somehow, the one thing that draws all these mixed emotions together is barbecuing. The act of getting together to cook meats over charcoal and then eat them over a red and white checked tablecloth on the lawn encompasses the rare amalgam of human sentiment experienced only on Memorial Day.

    Confusion, despair, frivolity, itchiness, awkwardness, sweatiness, all of these are part of a Memorial Day barbecue.

    With barbecuing there is no time to feel sad or guilty - you have to get the charcoal. OK you got the charcoal and now you’re starting to miss Granny a little. Well cut it out, because you have to get the ice.
    You got the ice, and you’re feeling silly because today’s your birthday even though we’re remembering war heroes? Well forget it because you’ve got to flip the burgers!

    Barbecuing is the perfect Memorial Day tradition because it’s tough and everyone has too much work to do to start feeling too awful about stuff.

    And all the hard work and smoked meats hit us right in our caveman soft spot - making us drowsy, and happy.  We are sated with burgers and warm memories of those loved and lost.  We are happy for the chance feel the sun on our skin.  Memorial Day is always a beautiful, bittersweet day. It is always a good day for some hard work and smoked meats, always a good day for a barbecue.
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  5. Memory Problems

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    By Samantha DeRose

    Wow.  Holy Guacamole.  It seems like it's been forever and a day since I've blogged.

    Here's a conversation that took place this week.

    Podiatrist:  So, what brings you here?

    Me:  Well, I hurt my foot about four weeks ago and it's not getting any better and I think it's swollen.

    Podiatrist:  Yes, it's very swollen.  You say for FOUR weeks? What did you do?

    Me:  I don't remember.

    Podiatrist:  What do you mean, you don't remember?  Did you bang it?  Did you twist it?  Did you fall?

    Me:  I'm not sure.  All I know is that it was 5 a.m. and I vaguely recall feeling some pain in the same foot where you removed the ganglion cyst 2 years ago and I was like, "Darn it!  I hope I didn't bang the same spot because you said that it'll always be a weak spot,"  but I really don't know what happened.

    Podiatrist:  But how could you NOT remember what happened?  Think.  It's very important that you remember.  A fall?  A twist?  Did you drop something on it?

    Me:  How could I not remember?  How  COULD I NOT remember?  HOW COULD I NOT REMEMBER?  Well you see, DOC, I get up a t 5 a.m. every morning to walk my asshole dog (who hasn't behaved on a leash for the past 6.5 years) 3.5 miles with my neighbor (and I try not to fart while we're walking because I don't know him that well, but my gastrointestinal tract is not at it's best at such an unGODLY hour...and one did squeak out the other day and I'm still praying that he didn't hear it) BEFORE I have to come home, iron, take a shower, pack my gluten free lunch, and make coffee and put out the vitamins for my eldest son (who won't eat breakfast) and then drop him off at the bus stop by 6:45.  Then I have to make scrambled eggs and toast with vitamins and lay out the inhaler and allergy medicine so that my one child can make it a full year without ending up in the ER with pneumonia and asthma.  Then I make avocado toast for several other people, and 2 more cups of coffee, make sure the others are up, showered, clothed (WITH school IDs and LUNCH MONEY), dishes in the dishwasher,  and get them to the bus stop by 7:20, and THEN be in school by 7:30 MYSELF where I teach 5 different preps and try to get kids to graduate before their retirement.  OH.  Add to that list, Mother's Day,  12 baseball games per week AND practices (for a kid whose own teammates call him a LOSER and a PUSSY because he DOESN'T call the other players LOSERS and PUSSIES the same way that they and their parents do), tae kwon do, cello concerts (two this past week and one more to go), a birthday party, a confirmation (THAT I CATERED and my EX-HUSBAND and HIS FIANCE attended side-by-side with my paramour), OH, and I'M a f$%ing comedian and do shows and write FUNNY F(^&*ing  material.  Did I mention preparing dinner every night?  Laundry and scrubbing piss off of the toilet?  Yeah.  Toilet.  Singular.  ONE TOILET, LOTS OF PEOPLE.

    No.  I don't remember what the $%^ I did at 5 a.m. 4 weeks ago to make my foot swell up like a mutant hippopotamus face with elephantiasis.  No.  I don't remember.

    Podiatrist:  OK.  You're going to need an MRI ASAP and you need to wear this cumbersome boot and STAY OFF of that foot until we can figure out what you did.

    Me:  Stay off the foot?

    Podiatrist:  Yes.  Bedrest.

    Me:  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.    Ha. Ha. Can I get some pain medication?

    Podiatrist:  Absolutely.

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  6. I learned, unfortunately as a by–product of the devastation left by this week’s E4 tornado in Moore, a suburb south of Oklahoma City, that about 1000 tornadoes hit the United States every year.  

    With a 13 minute lead time there's not much you can do to protect yourself.  Just run for safety underground in, well, a storm cellar.


    Florida and Tornado Alley have a disproportionately high frequency of tornadoes. 

    The Gulf Coast has a relatively high frequency of tornadoes October through December.  Statistics say this “Dixie Alley” area, clocks more tornado deaths than Tornado Alley, due to the high number of, wait for it… 

    mobile homes. 


    At any time, one or more of these storm prone areas is in desperate need of long term relief, like victims of 
    North East Super FrankenStorm 

     They are still piecing back together literally shattered lives.
    I find it hard to believe that 67 members of the 
    House of Representatives 
    voted "no" to assisting people who were left powerless 
    and homeless by hurricane Sandy in November 2012. 

    Were these politicians really representing their constituents with that "NO" vote?


    Justin Amash (R-MI)              Andy Barr (R-KY)                 Dan Benishek (R-MI)

    Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI)         Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)      Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)

    Mo Brooks (R-AL)                 Paul Broun (R-GA)                Steve Chabot (R-OH)

    Doug Collins (R-GA)             Mike Conaway (R-TX)           Tom Cotton (R-AR)

    Steve Daines (R-MT)              Ron DeSantis (R-FL)             Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)

    Sean Duffy (R-WI)                 Jeff Duncan (R-SC)                Jimmy Duncan (R-TN)

    Stephen Fincher (R-TN)         John Fleming (R-LA)              Bill Flores (R-TX)

    Virginia Foxx (R-NC)             Trent Franks (R-AZ)              Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

    Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)           Paul Gosar (R-AZ)                 Trey Gowdy (R-SC)

    Tom Graves (R-GA)               Sam Graves (R-MO)              Andrew Harris (R-MD)

    George Holding (R-NC)         Richard Hudson (R-NC)        Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)

    Randy Hultgren (R-IL)           Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)              Jim Jordan (R-OH)

    Doug Lamborn (R-CO)          Kenny Marchant (R-TX)        Thomas Massie (R-KY)

    Tom McClintock (R-CA)        Mark Meadows (R-NC)       Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)

    Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)          Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)    Steven Palazzo (R-MS)

    Steve Pearce (R-NM)              Scott Perry (R-PA)               Tom Petri (R-WI)

    Mike Pompeo (R-KS)             Tom Price (R-GA)                Phil Roe (R-TN)      
       
    Todd Rokita (R-IN)                Keith Rothfus (R-PA)            Ed Royce (R-CA)

    Paul Ryan (R-WI)                   Matt Salmon (R-AZ)              David Schweikert (R-AZ)

    Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)      Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)          Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

    Randy Weber (R-TX)             Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)        Roger Williams (R-TX)

    Joe Wilson (R-SC)                  Rob Woodall (R-GA)             Kevin Yoder (R-KS)

                                                    Ted Yoho (R-FL)


    Please leave your comment below.


    Rhonda Hansome is a writer, director, actress and social media dilettante.  See her do stand-up with her pals:  Scott Blakeman, Nancy Lombardo, Angela Scott and Bob Greenberg 

    7:30 PM Wed.  June 12, 2013

    WorkShop Theater Comedy Benefit

    312 West 36th St. 4th fl   
      
    Info & Tickets HERE or call Ovation Tix 866-811-4111
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  7. There is so much I learn and confirm from watching this woman do her thing.  She doesn’t yell.  I like that.  Due to her relationship with people, she can say things and really get across, not just get a laugh in the moment.  She sounds so natural and unrehearsed.  She shows her humanity.  She’s my kind of person. 
     
     
     
     

    And she’s so funny.

     
    
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  8. Week In Review

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Steve Fulop

    1.  Jersey City got a new mayor - Steve Fulop.  Will JC suffer another corrupt, drunken mayor?   He swam the Hudson River at some point in his life, so, there is obviously something wrong with his brain.  Anyway, time will tell who he is and I can't wait to see.

    2.  I had 3 interviews and got a day job.


    3.  I took a drug test.

    4.  My dog ate a lot of her shit.

    5.  I discussed "Game of Thrones" with A LOT of people.  I freaking love Khaleesi and her story is the best story line right now.  Her story is always the best story line.

    6.  The new season of  "So you think you can dance" started.

    7.  "Rectify" is/was so freaking awesome.

    8.  I watched a lot of tv.

    9.  I drank a lot of wine.  A lot.

    10.  I took naps and read up on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, because NO ONE naps as much as I do.  There must be something wrong with me.

    11.  I pondered my future with Dave Grohl.  That's something that I do on the regular.

    12.  I had a lot of weird dreams and thought I heard a man walking around my apartment saying, "beep beep beep beep beeeeep".  It was just a weird dream.  Or was it????

    13.  Thought about taking drum lessons.

    14.  Watched "Hangover II" and laughed so hard that I spit up.


    Miss Bean.  She loves poop.



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  9. For Another Mother By Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    I am still basking in the pleasure of having shared a wonderful Mother's Day with my son.  This week was less pleasant for another Mother...












    Rhonda Hansome, writer, director, actress, comedian and social media dilettante does stand-up with pal Maribeth Mooney 7 PM Tues May 21st at Otto's Shrunken Head, 538 E. 14th St. NYC. 
    Please leave your comment below.

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  10. When I Need a Quote About My Comedy, I’m Asking Leighann

     

    One day recently, a man said something to me that he found funny but I didn’t.  I didn’t find it bad or offensive, just not funny.  So after he spoke, I basically said goodnight.  He said, “C’mon, that was blatant humor.”  I again said goodnight.  Then he said, “How is it you do stand-up... having no sense of humor?”
    As God/the Universe tends to do to keep me upright, at the very same moment on Facebook, I was having this conversation.  Leighann Lord had posted this gem: 



    Me:  Great post.  Funny comments.

    LL:   Mindy Matijasevic, I thought of you when I first saw this.  J

    Me:  I'm honored that I came to your mind when you saw this.

    LL:   Are you kidding? Yours is a consistent and persistent voice for female equality and empowerment.  You challenge on all levels basic assumptions about women's sexuality, the power of it, and the right to explore, enjoy, and use it as we see fit. I'm just trying to keep up.

    Me:  Your timing couldn't be more perfect. I mean that. I was just answering some man whose humor I typically don't share -- he asked me how I do stand-up when I have no sense of humor. LOL I was just telling him that not having HIS sense of humor doesn't mean I have no sense of humor. I wonder if he can imagine such a thing. So your comment here was just perfect in terms of making me feel better.

    LL:  Mindy, what the man was trying, and perhaps failing, to say is that your problem is you don't kowtow and defer. If you could just do that everything would be fine. You're just supposed to tuck your face behind your hand, giggle coquettishly and agree.

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  11. I know.  I know.  Weird blog title.  All unrelated things that I'm going to talk about today.

    Yesterday was the first Mother's Day / Ryan's Birthday (my oldest son) in which we broke tradition.  My family normally gathers at my aunt and uncle's house for Mother's Day / Birthday festivities, but as they were vacationing in Italy and my parents had tickets to a show on Broadway, we were left to our own devices.

    A few weeks ago, Lee and I sat around contemplating how we would spend our day, when she suggested that we all go to Lips for brunch in NYC.  We had been to Lips about 3 years ago and had a FABULOUS time at the show.  For those unfamiliar, it's a drag show/brunch... a phenomenal drag show/brunch. OF COURSE!  Why didn't I think of that????  What teenage kid wouldn't want to go with their moms to a drag brunch??

    And off we went.  Two adults, four children.  My youngest, Ethan, was clueless.  I made fun of Lee for her choice of sensible footwear... which couldn't hold a candle to my high heeled boots*.  When we walked in, the hostess, in all her bitchy glory, barked orders at the customers.  "What's your name?  How do you spell it?  Christ!  Doesn't anyone have normal names like Susan Jones anymore?  Go stand over there, and if you have any questions, I don't give a sh!t."

    Getting ready for the first round of mimosas

    and the second round of mimosas


    Our Hostess!


    Ethan came over to me and said, "Mom!  At first I thought that person at the counter was a guy.  Then I realized it was a lady."  That's when I had to explain the dynamic of the ENTIRE staff to my young blonde.

    As the glamorous gals strutted their stuff, taking our orders and sassing the patrons, I took a gander at Ethan's facebook page: "Oh god already having a stressful day."  "OMFG!" "Oh, Damn what a big city this really is."

    OMFG!


    I decided to call him out on the stressful bullshit by pulling him aside and explaining that this day is a lesson in not taking oneself too seriously...to have a good time, to stop trying to be the "kid who's too cool for everything."  I also told him that it was MY day (ok, his brother's, too) and that he was making me sad by behaving in such a negative way.  After that, he had a blast.  GUILT.  Works every time.

    As it was Ryan's birthday, he was brought to the stage with a line of other folks celebrating special events... by a charming fellow dressed as Little Orphan Annie.  He hammed it up like a champ.  Of course, there was chocolate cake drizzled with caramel syrup at the finish line.

    It's a Hard Knock Life

    The Sun'll Come Out TOMORROW!


    The show was hilarious.  We all had a great brunch... the unlimited mimosas (for the adults) and the added bonus that Mommy Dearest was playing on the screen prior to the show!!!  My FAVORITE!

    Funny how a bunch of gay guys are applauded for being rude and insulting to the patrons... AND people PAY for it!  If it had been a bunch of lesbians, they'd have been socked in the gut!

    Following the show we had to hit a street fair for gifts since Lee is heading to Australia on business next month and needs to take .99 scarves to all of her pals down under.  As soon as we hit the streets in search of bargains, I was reminded of why wearing high heeled boots was a bad idea.  Every step was agony and the only cure was to purchase (for myself...F$%* the Aussies) 3 handbags, a pair of sunglasses AND THE MOST FABULOUS MOMMY DEAREST T-SHIRT E.V.E.R.!!!!!   No lie.  I met this adorable street vendor, Tom Sharp, who had a fantastic line of t-shirts (www.tomsharpnyc.com).  I told him that I do comedy and intend to wear it on stage (and to school) and he threw in an adorable NYC t-shirt.  Really.  Check him out.

    Corny?

    She insists she's not a hat person

    No scarves here.

    Coup de Grace


    By the time we reached the parking garage (sans scarves... wasn't a cheap-o street fair) I felt like I was wearing boots made of razor blades, broken glass, needles, and nails on the inside (see Steve Martin's book, Cruel Shoes).  Now I was the one being mocked for my exquisite fashion sense.  HOW DARE THEY!

    All in all it was a phenomenal day.

    Of course, it's Monday and I had to rise at 5 to walk the Nunz at 5:30.  Suffice it to say, my feet have not recovered.   As we paused so that I could pick up his (3rd) morning constitutional, I felt as if I had somehow been condemned to the 8th Circle of Hell, Second Pouch...Malebolge.  Coincidentally, I am teaching that very CIRCLE in my English IV section TODAY... If you don't know what the punishment is in Malebolge, Google it.

    The More You Know!


    Have a great day everyone!!




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  12. Humor & Gratitude

    Saturday, May 11, 2013


    By Lisa Harmon


    But my communication system disqualifies repartee: the keenest rapier grows dull and falls flat when it takes several minutes to thrust it home. By the time you strike, even you no longer understand what had seemed so witty before you started to dictate it, letter by letter. So the rule is to avoid impulsive sallies. It deprives conversation of its sparkle, all those gems you bat back and forth like a ball – and I found this forced lack of humor one of the great drawbacks of my condition.”

    This quote is from The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, a memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

    Bauby suffered a massive stroke which left him a quadriplegic. He dictated his memoir one letter at a time. This was his only method of communication. It is slow and laborious, and as he states above, makes it impossible to tell a good joke. Most everyone complains about writing, but for this man, in his state, it truly was a Herculean task.

    That last line in the quote is what struck me most. Of all the striking images and thoughts in his memoir, this one practically jumped off the page.

    I cannot fathom that he found the “forced lack of humor one of the great drawbacks” of his condition after his stroke.

    Let's be clear – his stroke left him on life support. He was on a respirator and a feeding tube. He was unable to move any part of his body other than his left eyelid. He was completely dependent on those around him and I believe he lived all his days after the stroke in a hospital until his death about two years later.

    He talked about some of the things he no longer could do, some that he missed more, some less. Things like hugging his son, eating food, changing the channel on the television.

    In the face of all those losses, the loss of independence, of privacy, of mobility, of freedom – he still felt one of the “great drawbacks” was his inability to fire off a good zinger! Imagine that, of all the things this man is no longer able to do, telling a quick joke is something he singled out for missing, above other losses, perhaps more physical, more basic and more practical.

    I mean, think about it. Think about what he is saying. He went from a functioning adult to a total quadriplegic. He had what they called “locked in syndrome” - completely mentally aware and able, yet trapped in a body that no longer works. Think of all the myriad things he can no longer do. Practically everything. There's almost nothing left of his old life, and yet, he tells us how he misses telling a joke. Not only that but he must go to great lengths to tell us that, or to tell us anything at all.  In light of his difficulty communicating, each word takes on greater import.  We know what he's telling us is important just because he's telling us.

    But that line about forced lack of humor – it really stands out. I will never forget it. Because I can barely understand how a man who has lost so much – practically everything – how he can put telling a joke near the top of the list of great losses. I can't even understand how this can be missed at all, when there are other huge losses to be counted.

    I mean, just what is so important about telling a joke? Maybe there is a reason people are compelled to communicate through humor. Perhaps it is more visceral than we realize. I know there is a connection there, when humor hits its target – a connection is formed between all who are in on the joke.

    But that this can be missed as much or more than other things he must be missing – that is what I find so amazing. That's why I'll never forget reading this memoir.

    Until reading that sentence, it never occurred to me that the ability to successfully tell a joke is something to be grateful for.  I mean I took it for granted.  But now I will never forget this man who has suffered more losses than I could ever tolerate, and how, of all things, he laments the loss of his ability to tell a joke.


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  13. When we last left off:  I was in Kumquat (not the real name) restaurant. After finally getting my order I had the task of wrestling an intimidating vessel of black bean with kale soup.  In spite of being blindsided by the surprise ingredient, numerous chunks of succulent chicken, I valiantly tried to consume the delicious contents of the foot tub size bowl.  Sated and pleasantly overwhelmed, I conceded the win to several golf ball size chicken chunks bobbing victoriously in the remaining savory bouillabaisse.  Content, I sought my check.  The hostess passed within arm length and I caught her attention with a finger at half-mast. 

     “The soup had chicken, lots and lots of chicken.” 

    She paused perplexed.  I continued. 

    “I’m not complaining.  It’s just you said black bean with kale and the soup had lots of chicken.”

     She fixed her face and said,

    “Yes, there’s chicken in it, but that’s the way it’s written up, black bean with kale.”

    "No problem, I'll take my check."

    Two emails later my server Kira, appeared at my table.

     “How was the soup?” 

    “Actually it was very good, but there was a lot of chicken in it.  It was more like chicken soup with black beans and kale.” 

     “There’s chicken in it but that’s the way it’s written up, black bean with kale, anything else?” 

    “No thank you Kira.” 

     “Have a good night.” 

    And with that, Kira placed the check on my table and left.  

    The check was correct. $6.00 for that gigantic tasty bowl of soup, with 53 cents added for tax.  No problem.  And how nice, just above the 10% discount incentive offer was the suggested tip: 16% = $1.08 and 20% - $1.20.  I decided to leave $1.25 on the table, pay the hostess at the door with a twenty and get on home.

    The hostess had been at the door when I rose from my table, but where was she now?  No hostess, no Kira, but the bartender might be able to help.

    “I’d like to pay my check.” 

    Her face said, “This is not my job”, her mouth said,

    “I’ll get your waitress.”  

    I checked four email messages until Kira returned from the hidden world where servers… well, hide.  From behind the bar Kira took my check and $20 dollar bill.  From the cash register she handed me two 5’s, three one’s, a receipt and went on her way.  The receipt total read $6.53 and I had thirteen dollars in hand.  I have math anxiety so I counted my money several times and used my fingers to confirm. Yes, I was short forty-seven cents. I offered the bartender my hands, receipt in one, the money Kira had just given me in the other. 

    “I’m short forty-seven cents change.” 

    Sighing, she said,

    “Since the waiters don’t carry nickels and dimes on them, they just round up.” 

    That’s when one of the voices in my head, Penny Pincher to be exact, shouted “What the fuck???  Bitch just took that money out the cash register behind the bar, don’t tell me there’s not forty-seven god damn cents in that register!!”  I ignored Penny’s uncharacteristic profanity riddled outburst and quietly reiterated,

    “I’m short on my change.” 

    “I’ll call your waitress.”

    The bartender sighed. When Kira finally appeared on my side of the bar, I calmly said

    “I’m short my forty-seven cents change.” 

    Readers, I kid you not.  Kira tilted her head and said

    “We round up.” 

    Now I’ll admit I’m still catching up to the 21st century, but when did restaurants rounding up your bill become the new norm? 

    “You round up without mentioning it to the customer?”

    Kira set her jaw, veiled her eyes but not her tone of incredulity

    “You want me to break a dollar?” 

    Penny Pincher stomped her foot, rocked her neck and started looking for the nearest exit out of my head; the better to throttle Kira.  I calmly replied

    “Yes.”

    In my head Penny shouted, Break a dollar Bitch!!  Step on a crack and break your momma’s back!  I said

    “I gave you more than the suggested tip didn’t I?” 

    “Did you?” 

    Kira shot back at my feeble attempt to reason with a wait person who might possibly handle my food again as she swiftly left my side.

    For a reality check, I turned to the two bar patrons who’d been sitting silent witness to the exchange.  Under my gaze, a sister silently adjusted her Trini braids

     and sipped her Appletini



     like she had no dog in this fight;  I said in their general direction

    “I’m short forty-seven cents because they rounded up.  I want my change.” 

    The brother at the bar lifted his burger and murmured from behind a shield of beef, lettuce and bun

    “If that’s what you want.  It is your money.” 

    Ignoring the hint of disdain (or was it dismissal?) that dripped from his burger, Penny Pincher in an effort to rile up the other voices in my head chanted, “It’s my money!  It’s my money!”  Kira appeared before the other voices could pick up the mantra.  With a sullen thump, she placed a dollar and forty cents on the bar.

     “This is yours.”  

    I pushed Kira’s dollar aside and pushed Penny Pincher to her corner.  I palmed the forty cents on the bar and seven cents short made my way into the night.  I was reminded in uncomfortable bold relief how teen-age me had resented and been so embarrassed  my mother’s never ending and quite vocal outrage at rising prices and her tight- fist efforts to economize on her domestic worker wages.



    Did that rounding up incident really just happen to me?   Did I miss the breaking news flash that restaurants agreed, for whatever reason, to round up the customer’s bill?  Who gets the profit?  Is that accumulated currency shared by the staff or does it go straight to the owner?  And why did Kira sound befuddled asking,

    “You want me to break a dollar for you?” 

    “Hell yes Bitch, if it means I get MY MONEY!”

    Penny Pincher hissed from her corner of my mind where she sat drying Abe Lincoln pennies she’d picked up from damp rest room floors.



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