Archive for October, 2015

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 14: ‘Facetious’

October 24, 2015
Publicity Still for Episode 14 by producer Richard Wicka.

Publicity Still for Episode 14 by producer Richard Wicka.

Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, we had to do a last-minute guest shuffle for Episode 14.  Luckily, veteran Buffalo comedian Tyrone Maclin was already on the boards for June and he was available.  He’s a consumate professional, evidenced by the fact that he agreed to come on the show the day before the studio taping after getting a tooth root pulled and going something like 3 days with no sleep.  I was impressed!  He was a great guy to meet, really funny, and he’s at the heart of the entire comedy scene that’s in full swing right now in the region.  Co-host Henry Gale was our wild card, and he did a great job with that role.  Enough yakking though, here’s the episode:

Thanks are in order to Tyrone, Henry and producer Richard Wicka for inviting this insanity into his home and his studio on a monthly basis.  Please take the time to Like and Subscribe to The Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on Youtube for updates on new shows, bonus clips and other exclusive content!  I’ve got a rigorous shooting schedule for the next month, so you’ll hear from me a lot sooner than you think.  Musical legend Alison Pipitone is coming up in less than two weeks!

Excelsior!

Tom

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Big Words Video 14.5: ‘Unrequited’

October 24, 2015

If it were up to me, I would never film another Bonus clip at The Home Of The Future again.  It wasn’t my intention to buy a $400 camera just to film more footage from the same location.  That being said, guest Tyrone Maclin and I were both behind the 8-ball, so I went with a behind-the-scenes conversation we had at the round table right before Episode 14 started rolling.  Tyrone shows his softer, more vulnerable side as he talks about a fresh breakup at the end of one of the worst days of his life.  Please take a moment (ON YOUTUBE) to Like and Subscribe to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel (ON YOUTUBE) for notifications on new shows, bonus clips and anything else I can fill the channel with!

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‘Shotgun Start’-Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell Review

October 19, 2015
Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell by Justin Karcher with illustrations by Michael Biondo (2015, Ghost City Press)

Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell by Justin Karcher with illustrations by Michael Biondo (2015, Ghost City Press)

‘The rust born in my blood anchors me like a shipwreck
And it’s only through self-destruction
That I’m able to float freely.’-Virginia Isn’t For Lovers Like Me (pg.50)

Here’s the thing about being a mad bastard: you can always recognize another one. On some instinctual, primordial, reptilian, old-brain level, you can spot someone else who’s mad as a March Hare. Justin Karcher is out of his mind. In a good way. The best kind of way. In the poetic sense of someone who’s veins are on fire with passion and prose. The words are exploding out of this man and we’re all lucky enough to be on the other end of it. Trust me, I’ve been in his shoes and it’s a scary, exciting, unpredictable place to be. Real poetry…real poets? They’ve got the world pouring out of their fingertips and there’s no way to stop the flood. Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell is not your grandmother’s Condensed Best Of Safe and Inoffensive American Poetry Primer. Nothing inside of it will ever make it’s way onto a knitted sampler or the bumper sticker of a lily-white compact SUV. Thank God for that.

This is just the beginning. This is a Poet announcing his entrance into the ring. There’ll be more. A lot more. There’s no doubt of that. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that we’ll have a whole bookshelf reserved for Mr. Justin Karcher in no time flat. While the housewife poets and armchair poets and tourists are working on economy of line and flash poetry and happy insipid nonsense, Justin is firing off submissions and hat-tricking acceptances while the rest of the sane world sleeps. Not because he wants to, but because he has to. This is how he makes sense of a milquetoast planet lost in its own slumber. He’s writing his way either out of or into a rubber room depending on his point of view that very second. Or both. Depends on the poem, the girl, the state line in question and a lot of other variables.

Karcher’s poems obey their own laws of reality, space-time and sexuality. He creates his own vernacular as he goes, hammering out his own alliteration-laced glossary off-the-cuff, and it makes for damned good reading. The adjectives and expletives click into place like the best kind of bedfellows. A chapbook was too small for his first shot across the bow, and Michael Biondo’s illustrations serve the subject matter well, almost like cocktail-napkin sketches about two drinks past last call at the bar on the wrong side of town after the first eight dives, juke joints, crashed parties and speakeasies. There’s an interlocking narrative as you make your way through the book, a man grasping at the identity of country, self, sex and the illusion of sanity. Salvation through self-destruction. It’s a tune that’s not too distant for me, so I recognize the melody, and Karcher’s rendition is a real barn-burner.
 

Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell is just the shotgun start. Mark my words. This is the good stuff. Distilled, refined and fired right at you with staccato sincerity. From one mad bastard to another, Justin, well done.

Chewing through my restraints again,
Tom Waters

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Rapid Fire: Interview With Brian Azzarello from If They Can’t Take A Joke (2007, Authorhouse)

October 8, 2015

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Brian Azzarello is a tricky interview. I knew this going in, and tried to set up enough pitfalls and death traps along the way that he’d be bound to open up. Who knew that grilling was the topic that would wind him up and get him to open up a bit? The comic writer has turned the industry on it’s ear over the last five years, creating the award winning crime series 100 Bullets and applying his own personal hard-boiled genius to Batman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk (Banner), Hellblazer and Lex Luthor, infuriating some traditionalist fans and picking up some more of his own at the same time. He is to comics what Lon Chaney was to method actors. He dives into his dialogue head first and soaks it up on subways, street corners and dive bars. He knows the street and the words his characters bluster and swear and shout with is genuine. He’s also released Johnny Double, re-tooled Marvel’s Cage and worked on El Diablo. To be short and sweet (which is the way he prefers to write his dialogue and the way he prefers his music, conversation, and art), he is a bitch to interview. He’s squirrely and you need to move mountains very quickly to get past those defenses.

TW: Who was your inspiration for Agent Graves?
BA: Who? Lee Marvin.
TW: You’re obviously a fan of hard boiled crime fiction. Would you care to name some influences?
BA: Oh, god, just the usual suspects, I suppose. Thompson, Wolvert, Goodis. Goodis more than the rest.
TW: You’ve been known to listen to dialogue on subways and in bars. Do you research specific locales for specific titles and has it ever put you in any dangerous situations?
BA: No. No, it’s never…I’ve never been in a situation I couldn’t handle.
TW: How many other creator-based projects are you hiding?
BA: Hiding? I’m pretty open with ‘em to be honest with you, you know? I’ve got a series coming out in October called Loveless, which is a Western. It’s gonna be another ongoing series like 100 Bullets. It’s about a husband and wife…a pair of outlaws during Reconstruction. We’re calling it a noir spaghetti western.
TW:Are you serious about hanging up the capes after your tour of duty with Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor?
BA: Am I serious? Hell yes.
TW: You’ve been well praised for realistic and faithful dialogue of the underworld. Are you a fan of David Mamet?
BA: Yeah. Yeah, sure. Not everything. (laughs)
TW: Who are your favorite country singers?
BA: You mean like current?
TW: All time, current, if you want to go back to the great storytellers or current day…
BA: All time, it’s gotta be Cash. Current, I like Jim White a lot, and definitely Steve Earle.
TW: Cage was phenomenal.
BA: Thanks.
TW: Why did you decide to leave the ending open, though, and do you have any plans to revisit the character?
BA: No, he’s dead, c’mon. I’m…maybe. I think Marvel took that character in a different direction, though.
TW: Between your script and Corben’s artwork, it really blew me away.
BA: Well, you really can’t go wrong with the source material. I just basically did ‘Red Harvest’.
TW: What’s your working relationship like with Eduardo Risso? Have you met him yet at this point?
BA: Oh yeah, I have, we’ve met. We see each other basically about once a year. It’s great, you know? We communicate mostly through email.
TW: Do you have any plans to work with Richard Corben again?
BA: We’ve talked about it, yeah. I definitely would like to work with Richard again.
TW: You’ve been very vocal about fan boys in the past. Why do you think they hang on to their franchises so tightly?
BA: (long laugh) You mean…
TW: A lot of them have complained in the past about directions that you’ve taken with Hellblazer or some of the other big titles for DC and Marvel. They piss and moan about…
BA: They want what they remember, you know? And basically, yeah, it’s not what you remember, or what they remember. It’s…for a lot of these people, it’s like, comics, it’s like…they still read the things?
But they’re reading it for something that they’re not gonna get. They’re chasing that first orgasm again.
TW: What’s your favorite whiskey?
BA: I can’t drink the stuff anymore.
TW: Not even Knob Creek?
BA: Nah, that was my favorite. No man, I just look at a shot glass of whiskey and I get a hangover these days. Now I drink tequila.
TW: That’s how you wake up in another state with no pants.
BA: That isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
TW: How did you plan John Constantine’s cross-country trip initially?
BA: Initially, I just threw him in prison. I didn’t plan to move him anywhere.
TW: You write a lot of your best scenes in a bar environment. Do you write any of your outlines or scripts while you’re in bars?
BA: I used to, but I really don’t anymore. Well, if I’m outta town, yeah, but I can’t do that here anymore.
TW: Too loud?
BA: No. Like…I don’t know, I get interrupted.
TW: Hard Time was one of the best story arcs in the series. Did you have a ball writing the script or is it more like a job when you’re assigned to an established series?
BA: No, definitely it was not a job. I had fun writing Constantine. A lot of fun.
TW: Any more hints on the finale to 100 Bullets?
BA: No hints. Nothing.
TW: It felt like you lived and breathed New Orleans in 100 Bullets: The Hard Way; Have you vacationed there and if so, for how long?
BA: Yeah, I’ve been there a number of times. I’m going again this winter.
TW: Raymond Carver or Raymond Chandler?
BA: Oh man, that’s hard!
TW: If you had to pick.
BA: If I had to pick? I can’t! I can’t pick…no! That’s tough! You know, on one hand it’s like…you go with Chandler, but…if you go with Carver, there’s so much more stories.
TW: Well I know you’re a fan of minimalism and economy of dialogue, and Carver was great at doing that.
BA: Oh yeah, I think so too. He would use the fewest amount of words to just bum the piss out of you.
(laughs)
TW: I found out today that you enjoy cooking. What’s your favorite recipe?
BA: Oh god, I don’t know. I cook all the time. It’s probably…five nights a week, sometimes six. I just got a new grill so I’ve been grilling every night.
TW: I got a Sunbeam a few months ago and took a ’phd in grilling’.
BA: See now, I had a gas grill, and all the guts had to be replaced, so like, in between doing that, I just pulled out a little smoky grill, and I’m using that thing again. I forgot how wood makes food taste. Then after a while I got this thing called the Big Green Egg. It’s this big, ceramic, wood fire grill, like a kiln. It’s all ceramic.
TW: I used to be a prime rib fan and now I’m all for Porterhouse.
BA: Oh, yeah! Porterhouse, you get the two best cuts.
TW: Why did you decide to humanize Killer Croc?
BA: He needed it. I mean, I think…I think the Batman villains work better if they’re human. ‘Cause he…Killer Croc started out as human! I just brought him back to his roots is all.
TW: Have you ever considered doing anything with Swamp Thing?
BA: Probably not. We talked about it, but I don’t think so. Not at this point, anyway.
TW: What was the last comic you read that humbled you?
BA: Whew, geez.
TW: Something that really blew you away.
BA: Let me look here. I’m looking at, like, all the recent stuff I got. Oh, well the last thing that really, really blew me away was Joe Kubert’s Yossel. A hardcover came out from, I think IDW…the publisher. I-Books rather was the publisher.
TW: I read Ex Machina right after Cage and it just hit me like a ton of bricks.
BA: They’re two different tons, too. (laughs) Brian (K. Vaughn) comes from a completely different place than I do with his stories.
TW: Frank Miller took Batman backward and forward. Mark Waid took the entire DC Universe into the future. Will you ever pen an aging icon in the industry?
BA: Man, I don’t know. I have no clue.
TW: (exasperated) I gotta say, you’re a tough interview! (laughing)
BA: Yeah, I’ve heard that before.
TW: I keep hoping I’m gonna hit some landmine here…
BA: Yeah, well, working on the company of characters right now, it’s just, it’s not anything I really want to do.
TW: Well, I know that working on superheroes isn’t what you enjoy…
BA: No, it’s not what I enjoy, and after working on ‘em, it’s…I know why I don’t enjoy them! (laughs) It seems like a lot of the stuff…the whole point is to get to the punch, and that’s kind of juvenile. Especially when there’s guns around.
TW: Speaking of guns, Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place was very good.
BA: Thanks. That was a good experience, working with Joe (Kubert). I mean…it…I’ve been lucky with my artists, know what I mean?
TW: What would you like your epitaph to say?
BA: One more for the road (laughs)
TW:How did Jim Lee talk you into a chat room with Kilgore Trout? The interview came off with this particular fan boy as a bit obnoxious.
BA: With Kilgore?
TW: Yeah.
BA: I don’t know if he was obnoxious, he just like…ehh…I think he was a little close-minded. It’s not just him, but a lot of people have very, very specific ideas of what these characters are and how they’re supposed to operate. And if you deviate from those, you are, you don’t understand them.
TW: They hang on too tight.
BA: Yeah, you know, and it’s…yeah.
TW: You’ve mentioned that you don’t have any plans to work with Jill (Thompson, Azzarello’s wife) on anything, but do you two compare notes, or…
BA: We talk about stuff, yeah. That’s one of the reasons why we probably won’t work together.
It’s much better to approach each other’s stuff with a fresh eye.
TW: (exasperated) That’s all I’ve got! I put two weeks of work into these questions!
BA: Well, do you wanna revisit some of these questions? You can pull something else out if you want.
TW: (sighs) I uh…really wanted to reread more of your stuff. I got to volume four of 100 Bullets and have been tied up with a lot of other things, reading other things. What are you working on right now?
BA: What was I working on today when you called? 100 Bullets.
TW: Are you one of those writers who gets up at the asscrack of dawn at 6 am with a cup of coffee and goes to work?
BA: I usually am up about six or seven. Coffee, newspaper, sit down…
TW: You said once before that you wanted to do a sequel to Johnny Double. Is that on the horizon?
BA: No, I doubt that’ll ever happen right now. There’s other things goin’ on. The next…after Loveless, right now, I’m in development with for three graphic novels. One a year for the next few years.
TW: Do you see any other spinoffs with any of your work? Once 100 Bullets is done, do you see any of the peripheral characters off on their own?
BA: Not for me. When it’s done it’s done, as far as I’m concerned. Unless I’m broke and say, ‘Hey, let’s go back’.
TW: I heard that DC approached Alan Moore to do a sequel to Watchmen and it just seems wrong.
BA: Eh, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The guy could say yes. After 100 issues of 100 Bullets, though, I’m pretty sure it’ll be done.
TW: Did you have the storyboards and the outline worked out from the first issue?
BA: Our original contract was for just a year. So…I kinda…a decision had to be made. Can you get this down to a year or maybe eighteen months. If it’s not doing well, we’ll give you six issues to wrap it up. That was an option. Instead I just said, well, I said yes. I said I could do it…but there was no way I coulda done it. So I figured, we’ll just tell the twelve and if that’s all we tell that’s all we tell. Fine.
TW: What’s it been like working with Jim Lee? He seems a bit more traditional than a lot of the artists that you’ve worked with. Corben’s got a very recognizable look and Risso has a very distinct style.
BA: Well, so does Jim. As far as the superhero stuff goes, I don’t know if there’s anyone any better than Jim. Working with him, I didn’t treat him any differently. I left him a lot of room to improvise…especially the fight stuff that was in there. I left that kind of choreography to him…how to do it. ‘Cause he does it better than me.
TW: I think that’s everything I’ve got. I appreciate you taking the time out for me.
BA: (laughs) I mean, I’m a terrible self-promoter.
TW: You’d rather let the work speak for itself.
BA: Absolutely. I don’t want to be a celebrity. The point of my life is to work.

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Frank Miller Can Blow Me! (from Mockery, 2011 Doubt It Publishing)

October 6, 2015
Miller takes another payday from DC Comics for this fall's upcoming mini-series The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

Miller takes another payday from DC Comics for this fall’s upcoming mini-series The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

Author’s Note: ‘*Fill-In-The-Blank* Can Blow Me’ was a regular column (and for all I know, still is) at Acid Logic, the site I’ve written and contributed to since the early 2000’s.  So I was trying to write for that format. With the pre-release controversy machine already gearing up for The Dark Knight III: Master Race, I figured this’d be a good time to post the following click-bait.  First-time visitor to the site?  Then please feel free to Like, Subscribe and stick around for awhile!  -Tom

Originally appeared on AcidLogic.com on August 1st, 2008.

Frank Miller can toss my salad and gargle with the creamed corn. Every one of his ‘great works’ is going downhill at the speed of sound the longer he keeps coming out with new projects. And by projects, I mean the realm of film that he’s somehow blown his own way into.

I love Batman, but I’m not touching the new All Star Batman compilation by Miller with a ten foot pole. My comics retailer told me to buy it and that I’d hate it. Why in the fuck would I buy some piece of garbage for thirty dollars knowing full well that it was going to upset me? Apparently, Miller takes his disgust for the franchise that made him the overly-compromised whore he is today and ‘turns the series on it’s ear’ by ‘shifting the paradigm’. Those phrases are about as original as anything he’s done in the last fifteen years, so they felt warranted.

Frank Miller has lost his motherfucking mind. The Dark Knight Strikes Back had an uninspired title, poor computer generated artwork and a storyline that was more brass balls than character arc. It was a sad, pale imitation of it’s predecessor. I’ve explained these books in full detail many times over, so you’re not getting a synopsis here because I’m too fired up.

In his old age, he’s become a paranoid delusional maniac with a full tilt delusion of grandeur. Sin City the ‘film’ may be a wet dream for frat boys and tough guys, but it didn’t carry over well onto celluloid. 300 was such an obnoxious case study in slow-motion overuse that I wanted to drive out to Hollywood and smack the director in the face with my dick. After giving him the ‘mushroom bruce’, I’d walk over to Frank Miller’s house, where he could commence to blowing my ‘soup can’ of a cock.

Sin City (the black and white graphic novel series) wasn’t really that hot, either. Take every pathetic dime store novel stereotype you’ve ever read, suck the ingenuity that a great crime novelist like Chandler or Hammett would infuse the story with, fuck that story in the ass, water it down some more, give it some ‘hardcore’ balls-out abstract artistic leanings in the panels, take a steaming shot between seven or so perfect bound collections, smear your taint-cheese right at the anti-climactic stupidity of each interconnected ‘story’ in this city, and you have something that resembles a grade school-serial-killer in training’s circle jerk session with a cat he just tortured and drowned in a barrel of lye. Over-rated tripe.

And now, this Christmas, Miller takes the director’s chair a second time to torture the world by fucking up the very spirit of Will Eisner’s Spirit. How fucking dare you, Frank. Climb a chair, slip through a noose and take your own life. Is that too harsh? Too goddamned bad. You’re embarrassing yourself and the rest of the comic enthusiast macrocosm in tinsel town. The last ten years of your artistic life have been a pathetic, flaccid facsimile of your former glory.

You’ve peaked. Call it day. Hang up your hat, kick off your shoes and go home. I don’t like you anymore. My friend doesn’t like you either. Rip that line from Star Wars and work it into the next sequel that you whore yourself out for with DC, you little bitch! Ooh, but you make me mad!

Many writers write their best work before they become financially successful. You’re obviously on the other end of that spectrum. Trust me, I’m not jealous. I make decent money doing what I do, I have leverage where it matters and at the end of the day I sleep on a bed of residual and commission cash (from freelancing and books) with a woman who has (and always will have) the ass of a 16 year old cheerleading captain in Catholic school. Both of these factors give me enough werewithal and gumption to write another twenty books, each one successively better than the next.

Dark Knight Returns is looked upon as one of the most important comic legends in the history of the medium right up there with Alan Moore’s The Watchmen. Alan Moore continues to break every mold and genre he’s compared to while ever-striving to grow the collective audience for the artistic field. Miller continues to back himself into a corner like a half-wit obsessively slapping his own flimsy prick up against a corner.

Batman: Year One is the template upon which Batman Begins was drawn from, and for good reason. Daredevil: Elektra changed my life and the lives of many others with it’s gritty artwork (also drawn by Miller) and it’s haunting ruminations on unrequited love and the prospect of one-time resurrection. After that, Miller has been going downhill faster than Barrack Obama in a soap box derby cotton gin on wheels. He’s done. Finished. Washed up, whored out and stretched to the point of being worse than a contract soap opera writer. If you could travel back in time and see how inspiring and original and ground-breaking you were, you’d climb a clock tower, install a diving board and then jack-knife onto the concrete fifty feet below.

Listen, Frank. If you can’t strive to improve with each literary or cinematic outing, then you’re done. Throw in the towel. Drop your pencils, your word processor, your agent, and then I’ll drop my pants and stuff all seven and a half inches of my ‘babie’s arm holding an apple’ into the back of your tonsils. What’s the smartest thing that ever came out of Frank Miller’s mouth? My dick.

-Yeah, I stole that joke. Just writing about Miller makes me a derivative hack, too, so I’m stopping now to invest my creative energies into something infinitely more satisfying than meditations on a nobody. You fucked up, Miller. Now wipe the spunk of your chin and go away.

Tom ‘Brazilian wax’ Waters

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Like A Yo-Yo-ing Hole In The Head

October 1, 2015

I lose what little sanity I have left every time I’m behind the wheel.

Ten years ago I got a speeding ticket for going 55 in a 30 past a police station. My bad. I’m thankful for that though, because I learned in the mandated driver safety course that police only target motorists who speed in excess of 11 miles over the limit. From that point forward I’ve driven ten miles over the posted limit, no more, no less. Life is too short to go 30 miles an hour and I really wish everyone would incorporate this philosophy into their subroutine. As a result, I’ve become more aggressive when driving than I was to begin with, and I was pretty angry before that particular ticket (which is not to be confused with the citation
I got for going 50 through a 30 mph school zone in the summer).

I scream at people in front of me knowing full well that they can’t hear me. I have entire one-sided dialogues with them whether they know it or not. I get that from my mother, who (fortunately for everyone else on the road including passing deer) retired from driving fifteen years ago after a long and illustrious career of vehicle-totaling mishaps that were usually her fault. If I’m stuck behind a slowpoke for five minutes I will pass them out of spite and give them the ‘Thumbs Up’ gesture when we make eye contact. Giving people the middle finger when driving is now officially passe’. It is no longer fashionable. I was a passenger in someone’s car when they gave a neighboring driver the Thumbs Up and loved it instantaneously. It’s insulting, sarcastic and really conveys your dissatisfaction in the quality of their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Shaking your head at people in disgust is good too, but you have to make sure that they see you doing it. I usually pair my Thumbs Up by verbally telling them (or mouthing the words) ‘You’re doing a great job!’ I don’t have road rage. I have road psychosis. I am not a patient man, even less so when I’m trying to get somewhere in an expedient manner, which just so happens to be all of the time.

We’ve all taken the same permit test when we were kids so we’re all on the same page with the notion that the fast lane is located in the left hand lane. That’s an established rule of infrastructure, right? As a result, I am infuriated by anyone’s flagrant violation of this rule. Same thing with turning signals. We all have them. We all know what they do. So fucking USE them. And try using them for longer than a quick blink right before you turn. I blow my top when people are going under the speed limit and cars to the right of me are lapping us. I don’t have any desire to street race or show off my car’s ability (or inability) to go from 0-60 in five seconds, but again, ten miles over the speed limit is legally acceptable, so why wouldn’t you do THAT? These three things short circuit my brain. I flip my shit. I lose my mind.

What’s really challenging for me these days is self-censoring my automotive hate speech in real time for my son. He’s at an age now where he repeats everything he hears and that’s no bueno. All it took was one blasphemous obscenity parroted from the back baby seat before I started making a concerted effort to alter my snappy insults for an All Ages Audience.

‘Move it, F&$K-face!’

-has turned into:

‘Move it, Yo-Yo!’

and:

‘Real nice, you @$%&*!#ing c*&%$#-s#%&ing m@#$%er-@#$%!’

-has been replaced with:

‘I need to get to work, Yo-Yo!’

That is my new go-to when Little Pitcher is strapped into his miniature regulation seat behind me. The last thing I need is reports from Day Care or (even worse) his mother that he’s demonstrating and reciting a College-Level swearing proficiency. I need that like a yo-yo-ing hole in the head.
There’s a small risk that what I’m about to say is controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you’re over the age of 60 and you can’t drive the speed limit, use your blinker or remain within the clearly marked boundaries of any one lane while puttering forward in a straight line, do the rest of us a favor in three easy steps:

1. Pull over to the side of the road.
2. Dig a shallow hole.
3. Climb into it.

Again, that may not be the most politically correct viewpoint, but it’s mine and I’m going to own it. Old people should get the Ever-Loving Yo-Yo off the road. Most of them. And stay off. Furthermore, if you’re going to buy a Buick, be the one person who doesn’t perfectly illustrate the stereotype. Drive faster than 32 miles an hour during rush hour traffic. Use your turning signal to tip fellow travelers off to the fact that you’re going to cut through three separate lanes because you forgot where your poop doctor was located until the last minute. Buy some sunglasses that don’t make you look like Cyclops from the X-Men. That’d be a good start. Or if you don’t fit this demographic, buy a Buick and prove me wrong.

Navigating traffic is a combination of simple math and prejudgement for me. If one lane out of two has forty cars to my immediate front, I glide into the other lane. Statistically, more cars equals more people driving slower than Mr. Magoo on Quaaludes, so the lane with the least cars is least likely to contain idiots. Or more likely to contain less idiots. The fast lane isn’t always fast, and it’s less likely to be fast if there are forty cars ahead of you. If I see a school bus, a garbage truck, a Buick with a miniature mummified corpse operating it, an F150 truck with a short bald guy driving it or especially a minivan (a vehicle and subculture of driver I’ve written about at great length elsewhere) I get into the other lane.

Does everyone with an F150 truck have a quarter inch cock or just the guys? Why does every gargantuan ginormous truck owner have to be a four foot bald man packing a shriveled and flaccid Vienna sausage? Why is that? The simple answer is overcompensation, and the simplest solution is typically the correct one. I see more F150s in Buffalo than you would reasonably expect and it makes no sense. I have never seen anyone in Buffalo using their oversized truck to scale the side of a majestic mountain like they do in the commercials. I have never seen anyone in Buffalo hauling half a forest full of logs in their sterling silver flatbed. I have never spotted a ‘Hemi’-powered vehicle maneuvering through a mud-caked field in some grand off-roading excursion adventure getaway.

What purpose does it serve to drive a gas guzzling behemoth? Is your pee-pee so small that you can’t bear to leave the house unless you negotiate a step-stool or repel into the cavernous cab of a truck? Do you have so much disposable income that you need a higher monthly payment on the vehicle that gets you from Point A to Point B? Do you enjoy hanging out at the gas pump so much that you need an excuse to be there more often because your motorized carriage flash-fries fossil fuels? I’m not a carbon footprint worry wart, but show me any practicality behind that buying decision because I can’t find it. Why is it always a tiny bald guy with a chip on his shoulder driving a truck or a silver-haired septuagenarian hunched over the wheel of a Buick? That’s either brilliant marketing on the part of automotive manufacturers in targeting their core demographic or a case of life imitating stereotypes.

I’m not a ‘car’ guy at all. I have a visual deficiency whereby they all look like boxes to me. Literally. I couldn’t tell you a make or model by looking at it to save my life. They are mostly steel carriages that transport us from one spot to another in my mind, no more, no less. They are holes that we dump money into until they reach the point where they’re more expensive to repair than they are to replace. That’s it. I don’t even wash my car anymore. I used to take it to the car wash once a year when I got my tax return, but I don’t even do that anymore. It’s not that important. Passengers have pointed out that I need to clean the inside of my windshield due to excessive tar buildup and I quit smoking a year ago. I cannot change my own engine oil. I have no interest in learning how. I’ve seen the steps leading up to changing a tire, their sequence and the reasons behind them, but probably couldn’t do that either if the scenario presented itself.

The last time I popped a flat, my girlfriend came over and changed it for me. This is how inconsequential cars are to me. So I don’t grasp how many grown men have created a culture out of classic cars, muscle cars, souping up their cars, souping up their sound systems, racing their cars, working on their cars in their garages and so on and so forth. One of my best friends is a car guy. He even works at a car dealership. We never talk about it. On the occasions that it crops up in conversation, my brain glazes over or taps out until he pulls me back into it. I cannot identify a piston, a carburetor or a flux capacitor in a lineup. I don’t know what they do, nor do I care. We’re from two different worlds, but we still get along. It would probably make for a good sitcom pilot that no one would ever watch.

I’m trying to become a better person, but my driving persona will be the last aspect of my psyche to get an overhaul. All of my worst character defects are on full display like a dashboard hula girl with Tourette’s. Presently, I’ll take a partial progress grade of Thumbs Up.

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