Two Tales Of Opus: Comic Tales Of Love In Bloom

OpusI was going through some old photos, Modern Philosophers, and I came across this classic.

I would guess that I’m seventeen in the photo, which was taken at my childhood home in Brooklyn.

I thought I’d share some stories about my wing man (see what I did there?) in the photo, Opus, the star of the Bloom County comic strip.

Please tell me you remember Bloom County, Modern Philosophers.  It is one of my all-time favorite strips, joining Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and Get Fuzzy on my Comic Strip Mount Rushmore.

I thought it was significant that Opus was given to me by the first woman I ever loved, and is currently in the possession of the last woman I loved.

How did Opus come to play such an important role in my love life?  I’m not really sure, but I do intend to ramble on about it in this post.

I fell in love for the first time when I was 16.  I was a counselor at a sleep away camp in upstate New York, shipped off by an Evil Step Mother who decided that I needed to find a job for the summer.

penguinsWhat I found, instead, was that I was destined to be unlucky in love.  Maureen was awesome and I fell for her instantly.  She had a liking for me, too, and we became very close.  Unfortunately, she was 20.

Don’t worry, Modern Philosophers.  Nothing inappropriate ever happened aside from some hand holding.  Of course, if we had both been 16, then it would’ve been the perfect first love story.

Maybe my life would be totally different now, but instead, it was the first example of my tendency to fall head over heels in love with the wrong woman.

We stayed in touch once Maureen went back to college and I went back to high school.  This was before email, texting, and tweeting, so we communicated via snail mail.  I always looked forward to Maureen’s letters, and I’m pretty sure that writing long letters to her was, in my mind at least, my first serious writing job.

I wanted nothing more than to convince her to hold on until I turned 18 and it would be okay for us to be a couple.  I’m sure Maureen found it quite adorable that a dorky teenager was in love with her, and she was a sweetheart to never flat out crush my dream.

For my seventeenth birthday, she sent me Opus.  She knew I was a huge fan of Bloom County, and I suppose being able to sleep next to Opus was my consolation prize.

Opus survived the moves to NYU, to California, and to Maine.  As a flightless waterfowl, it’s not like he could really get very far on his own, so he was pretty much stuck with me.

He ended up on my desk at my current job.  I’m not quite sure why I first brought him to work, but he was probably bored sitting home alone at The House on the Hill and pestered me to take him to the office.

penguin loveSomehow, he wound up on the desk of The Girl Who Moved Away.  She had a habit of taking things that she wanted, and I’m certain that her kidnapping of Opus was one of those early signs of flirting.

Our very first date was on my birthday, and at some point during the evening, we got to talking about how she had made Opus her own.  I already knew on that first date that I was falling for her, so I didn’t mind that she was getting comfortable with taking my stuff.

As the date was ending, we exchanged cell numbers as I was off the next day and we wanted to stay in touch since she would be bored without me around the office.  At least that was the excuse we used to share our numbers.

One of the first text messages, if not the very first one, I ever received from The Girl Who Stole My Penguin arrived the next morning.  It stated that she had convinced her Mom to knit a beanie for Opus to keep his head warm while he was on her desk.

Once I received that text, I knew that this relationship was moving beyond our just being friends and coworkers.   Once again, Opus was right in the thick of things.

When it came time for The Girl Who Also Stole My Heart to leave for school, it was a no brainer that Opus would make the journey as well to keep an eye on her for me.

penguin love 2Both women came into my life at the wrong time, but I loved them with all my heart.  Clearly, I still love the dimple cheeked brown eyed girl who ran off with my heart and my penguin, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now.

I just hope she is taking good care of Opus.  That penguin, like the women I will forever associate with it, holds a very special place in my heart.

Posted in blog, Humor, Love, musings, Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Monday Morning Coffee Club: Memorial Day 2015

Giant mugHappy Memorial Day, Modern Philosophers!

This is a Monday I can support 150%.  Most people think of Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start of Summer, but we play by a different set of rules in Maine.

Up here, it’s not summer until we’ve had seven consecutive days without snow.  Since it snowed in Northern Maine on Saturday, we are still at least five days from Summer.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the long weekend, though.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the smell of barbecue is already in the air.

I plan to have a very lazy Memorial Day.  I got my big painting project out of the way on Saturday and Sunday, so today is dedicated to reading, writing, watching the Yankees game, barbecuing, and completely forgetting that it’s Monday.

Even though I am still in my pajamas and only half awake, I have already been outside to hang the flag on the front porch.

Remember, Modern Philosophers, Memorial Day is much more than a three day weekend, an excuse to barbecue, and a chance to finally break out the white in your wardrobe.

paint flagMemorial Day is the Holiday when we remember those who made the supreme sacrifice while serving our nation.

That is why I fly my flag proudly from the porch of The House on the Hill, and encourage you all to do the same.

One of the reasons we have the freedom to fire up the grills, enjoy time with family and friends, and look ahead to a fun Summer is because of the brave men and women who are not still with us to celebrate Memorial Day.

So let’s keep them in our thoughts today, Modern Philosophers.  Let’s not forget the real reason we have the day off and can sit home and watch the baseball game.

I never take for granted how lucky I am to have grown up in this country, and all the freedoms and privileges that go along with that.

I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day.  Stop by for coffee.  For once, I’ll actually be here on a Monday to chat…

Posted in Holidays, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hell Could Use A Second Coat

paint 1The Devil and I stood in the driveway of The House on the Hill, and admired the freshly painted garage doors.

I was neither Michelangelo, nor a Do It Yourself expert, but I was proud of the work I’d done.  If Lucifer insisted on showing up at my home uninvited, then he was going to get roped into an impromptu Memorial Day Weekend art show.

“I like how you left a chair out as if you thought passersby might be so impressed by your work that they’d actually wander up the driveway, sit down, and really take in your brushstrokes and use of color,” he snapped in a tone dripping with sarcasm.

Truth be told, I’d forgotten I’d left the chair in the driveway.

“Make fun all you want, but this was a big deal for me and I needed a little validation for my effort,” I confessed.

“I’d pat you on the back, but I’m afraid I’d get paint on my suit,” The Prince of Darkness explained as his checked him impeccably tailored suit for any flecks of white.

“Thanks.  That means so much to me,” I shot back some sarcasm at him, and didn’t give a damn if any of it ended up on his precious suit.

Devil“So you chose to spend Memorial Day Weekend painting the garage,” he commented in a manner that came across as extremely judgmental.  “This is why you’re single.  You should be out meeting women or hosting a party to meet women!”

“The painting had to be done.  I’ve put it off for eleven years,” I said sheepishly.

“It feels like you’ve put off having a girlfriend for just as long,” Satan huffed and swatted away a bee.

“Do we really need to play Dump on Austin right now?” I whined and immediately realized that was a mistake.

“I’m just concerned about you, buddy,” The Devil said as he looked longingly towards the front porch.  “There is a lot of painting that could be done around this huge house, and I don’t want that to become the crutch that prevents you from finding love.”

“Well, I kinda did want to paint the porch,” I replied to prove how thick I was.

Clearly, Lucifer had grown impatient both with me and with looking at my paint job because he risked ruining his suit by putting his arm around my shoulder.  He then led me towards the front walkway.

“I think we can help each other,” he informed me as we headed for the front porch, the front door, and the comfort of the living room.  “I’ve been getting some heat down in Hell from the Damned.  They think they should be allowed some time off for good behavior, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves.

“They’re in Hell.  For all eternity!” I stated like the good little Catholic School student I had been raised to be.  “What are they thinking asking for early parole?”

paint supplies“Hell is overpopulated with lawyers,” The Prince of Darkness stated with repulsion.  “They think they can negotiate and appeal anything.  They swamp me with mounds of paperwork demanding better living and working conditions.  Why do you think I spend so much time here?”

“For the Snapple and food?” I replied with a shrug as we walked up the porch steps.

“I think I’m ready to try a work release program on a very limited basis.  I’d like The House on the Hill to be the lone work site so I can monitor the participants very closely.”

I paused on the front porch to give that one some Deep Thought.  “I don’t know if I’d be okay with that.”

“There’s noting to fear, Austin.  Trust me,” Satan said with extreme confidence.  “I’ll have this place swarming with Demons to keep an eye on them, and I’ll make it clear that if anyone tries to flee, I will immediately claim the souls of three of their loved ones to take their place in Hell.”

My jaw dropped.  “Wow.  You don’t mess around, do you?”

“That’s what lawyers do to me,” he growled with disdain.  “If I could, I’d refuse them entry to Hell, but I’m sure they’d just turn that into a lawsuit that would drag on for eternity.”

paint flag“So you really think we can trust parolees from Hell to paint this porch?” I asked as I stared at the peeling paint beneath my feet.

“How about we go inside and discuss this over a Snapple?”  The Devil suggested.

Sounded good to me.  Happy Memorial Day, Modern Philosophers!

Posted in Holidays, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Painting Myself Out Of A Corner

paint flagHappy Memorial Day Eve, Modern Philosophers!

The first thing I did upon coming downstairs this morning was hang out the flag.  It’s just the right thing to do considering what this holiday weekend is all about.

The second thing I did was prepare for the big, stupid chore I’d given myself.

I’ve owned The House on the Hill for 11 years, and to this point, I had managed to avoid doing painting of any kind.  Like most DIY homeowner tasks, painting just isn’t my thing.  That was the kind of chore that J would organize when we were married, and then she would just tell me what to do.

The garage doors have needed to be painted for some time now, and I have put it off as long as I could.  I finally ran out of excuses for not doing it, and last weekend, I went out to buy the painting supplies.

paint suppliesOf course, I needed help even with what supplies were required.  I assumed I needed a scraper to remove the bad paint from the doors, but I had no clue that I needed primer to help the new paint stick.

The above items were not cheap, Modern Philosophers, but it ended up not being so bad when I divided the cost over the 11 years I’ve put off doing the job.

paint startHere is the before photo.  The door on the right has taken quite a beating over the years from all the snow balls Snow Miser has hurled at it.

paint rightA close up of the door on the right.  Do not choose what’s behind this door, Modern Philosophers.  It’s not a new car or a trip to a tropical destination.  It’s just a boring, annoying paint job.

paint 7This is that same door after I’d scraped the peeling paint off of it.  Of course, I chose the windiest afternoon of the Spring for this project, so I was chasing paint chips up and down the driveway for several hours.

There was a weird paper-like material under the paint, and it made me nervous that I had not gotten the proper paint for the job.  I guess we’ll find out…

paint 6I’m definitely no Michelangelo, but my canvas is just about ready for the paint…

paint 5Here is the right door after I coated it in that mysterious primer substance, which looked suspiciously like white paint.

Please note the work gloves, which I chose to wear because King Klutz almost immediately managed to get paint all over his giant monkey boy hands.  That left glove also got covered in paint.  At least we know I’m left handed…

Yes, that is an old shower curtain that I used as a drop cloth.

paint 4The left door didn’t need to be primed because there was no chipped paint to scrape away.  Really confused as to why the right door has taken such a beating.  It was only a couple of year ago that I started parking on the right side of the garage rather than the left.

I painted the left door while the primer dried on the right one.  Not bad, right?  Sure, I got some paint on the garage itself, but who cares?

paint 3A quick photo of my sweatshirt at the end of the job.  It was 70 degrees, but I knew that if I didn’t cover myself in a sweatshirt, I’d end up with paint up and down my arms.

Quick trivia item:  I bought that sweatshirt while on my honeymoon.  Obviously, the sentimental value is no longer there since I chose to wear it for painting.

paint 2The finished job.  What do you think, Modern Philosophers?

Janine came out to compliment me on it while I was still hard at work.  She must’ve been impressed because she said she had left guests out on her deck while she popped out to tell me that it was looking good.

I was just outside admiring my handiwork with Mark.  He gave the job his official seal of approval.  Brenda came over to approve as well.

paint 1I consider this to be a historic painting, so I put out a chair to allow visitors to view it and really take in the beauty of my work.

So glad this job is done, Modern Philosophers.  Now I can get back to enjoying a lazy Memorial Day Weekend!

For free a free estimate on a paint job at your home, just leave me the details in the comments section…

Posted in Holidays, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Rookie Driver Marty McFly New Favorite To Win Indy 500

DeLoreanThe buzz at Indianapolis Motor Speedway tonight isn’t just coming from the motors of the finely tuned cars out on the track.  This Modern Philosopher has just learned that there has been a last minute entry into tomorrow’s annual running of the Indianapolis 500, and I have decided that the rookie driver is the new favorite to win the race.

Marty McFly, who has been added to the field with a heretofore unheard of Special Sponsor’s Exemption, will be representing Team Clocktower in a very unusual car.  Apparently, the exemption also allows McFly to race in a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, rather than the usual Indy Car.

Indy 500While veteran drivers were clearly miffed when informed of the eleventh hour entry, none of them seemed to care after they got a look at the car the new kid on the track plans to race.  “I doubt that thing could do the speed limit, let alone get up to 145 mph,” said one anonymous driver in reference to the average speed seen on the track for the big race.  “Hell, I bet that thing won’t make it five laps without breaking down.”

Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, McFly’s crew chief laughed when I told him about the comments made by the other drivers.  “This car doesn’t need to go 145 mph to win the race,” Doc explained to me as he slipped out of his unique yellow protective suit, which looked a lot like the outfit people wore when dealing with radioactive materials.  “All we’ve got to do is get this baby up to 88 mph and the rest is history.”

I asked him if he could further explain his comment, but Brown was too distracted looking for someone named Einstein, who I assumed was the team mechanic since the DeLorean was leaking all sorts of fluids.

TrophyMcFly made a brief appearance, but told me he wasn’t really allowed to talk about what made the car tick.  He would only say that I should bet everything I had on his winning the race tomorrow.  When he was sure no one else was around, McFly showed me a mock up of tomorrow’s newspaper, which had a photo of him on the cover, kissing the famed Borg-Warner Trophy, and a headline declaring him the race’s winner.

I have to say that I admire such confidence in a driver, and found it oddly quaint that he would go to the effort to have a fake newspaper printed to give him a little more incentive to win.  Before McFly left, I made one more attempt at finding out the significance of 88 mph and why he was so sure he was going to win.

All he gave me was a wink, a charming smile, and the words “flux capacitor”.  Doc Brown never returned to finish the interview, so I have decided to be the crazy writer who takes the word of the brazen driver and his oddball crew chief, and I will declare Marty McFly the favorite to win tomorrow’s Indianapolis 500.

Marty 88When you are done laughing, please remember that I don’t usually cover car racing.  I took this gig because I needed to get away from all the rain in Maine.  Why not believe in the cocky underdog?  If this were a movie, wouldn’t the Cinderella story in the strange car be everyone’s sentimental favorite to pull off the huge upset?

I’m rooting for Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and their bizarre looking DeLorean.  Stranger things have happened, right?

Posted in Funny, Humor, Movies, musings, Philosophy, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

D B Cooper Surrenders; Claims He Created Famous Coke Campaign

D B CooperD. B. Cooper, the mystery man who skyjacked a Boeing 727 and parachuted from the plane with $200,000 in ransom almost 45 years ago, has finally turned himself in to the FBI.

After surrendering, the first thing the man did was declare that he came up with the famous “I Want To Buy The World A Coke” campaign that has recently been all over the news and social media because of its inclusion in the Series Finale of Mad Men.

“There’s a very good reason people thought Don Draper was me, and that’s because he was based on me,” the suspect allegedly told FBI Agents.

According to the man who the world has come to know as D. B. Cooper, he has always enjoyed hanging out in airport bars, buying strangers a drink, and then chatting them up.  At first, he did this as a cover while he cased the airports and plotted his infamous skyjacking.  In later years, however, he did it simply for the rush.

Coke commercial“I liked the thrill of being in an airport, wondering if anyone would recognize me and turn me in,” he told this Modern Philosopher in an exclusive interview.

“Since I’m sober, I always buy a Coke for the stranger.  That McCann Erickson guy loved the idea, and was taking detailed notes as I explained how I’d buy Cokes for total strangers from all over the world that I’d meet in airport bars.  I told him no one ever refused the Coke, even though they didn’t know me, and we’d have a great time talking.  He turned that idea into the famous commercial.”

A spokesperson for McCann Erickson, the advertising agency that created the Coke campaign, and Don Draper’s place of employment when he supposedly came up with the idea on Mad Men, vehemently denied the suspect’s claim.

“You had to wonder why Don Draper looks so much like the sketches of me, am I right?”  Cooper asked.  “Why was he a man with an alias?  Why was the name of the company Sterling Cooper?  Why did the series end with Don creating that particular campaign?”

He made some excellent points, so I asked him to explain.

Don DB“I bought Matt Weiner a Coke in an airport bar three years before Mad Men premiered,” he boasted with a proud smile on his ancient face.  “I poured my heart out, told him who I really was, told him about the Coke campaign, and said it was time for someone to tell my story.  I promised that if he did right by me and didn’t turn me in, I’d surrender when the showed ended and wouldn’t sue him for using my life story.”

Matt Weiner could not be reached for comment, but a spokesperson for AMC laughed off the claims.  “There is absolutely no truth to that story, nor is there any definitive proof that the man in custody is D. B. Cooper.  We are glad that Mad Men has inspired its fans to attempt to be as creative as the show, but we must implore them to work a little harder to be more original.”

For its part, the FBI believes it has the right man in custody.  “The suspect not only knew details of the crime that were never released to the public,” FBI Agent Joanna Hammond assured this Modern Philosopher, “but he also surrendered $2,600 that was a part of the ransom.  The serial numbers have checked out.”

Of course, I saved the most intriguing piece of evidence for last, Modern Philosophers.  Upon his arrest, the man formally known to the world as D. B. Cooper gave his real name to the FBI…

Don planeRichard Whitman.

Any fan of Mad Man would know the significance of that name.

Coincidence, Modern Philosophers, or is it The Real Thing?

Whitman is being held without bail.  Yes, he did ask for a Coke while being questioned…

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Friday Night Think Tank: Reset Button

Doc BrownIt’s Friday night and the long Memorial Day Weekend awaits, Modern Philosophers!

Memorial Day always gets me thinking about the past, and on this blog, taking a mental journey down memory lane can very quickly lead to a post about Time Travel.

As we head out to the Think Tank for our weekly Philosophical Exercise, I ask you to bring empty stomachs as well as Deep Thoughts.  The interns have the grill going, and there will be burgers and red hot dogs for everyone.

We just don’t have enough for everyone to drink, so lets’ make this party BYOBDT (bring your own beverages and Deep Thoughts!).

Are you on your way?  It’s smells so good out at the Think Tank tonight…

This week’s topic: You wake up one morning and are told that you must hit the reset button on your life.  You cannot opt out because the new Robot Overlords have spoken, and so it shall be done.  The new masters have at least given you the opportunity to decide to what point in your life you wish to return.  You will be that age again, but will get to maintain all the knowledge, memories, and life experience you have accumulated to this point.  You cannot reset to a time less than a year ago.  To what point in your life do you go?  Why have you chosen this particular time for your life reset?

I have pondered on this one for a long time, Modern Philosophers, and have generated many Deep Thoughts on the topic.

I would choose to reset my life to my first day of college.  So much happened during my four years at NYU, and that time definitely set me down a very narrow path that I would so like to change now that I know what I do.

GraduationThis photo is of my Dad and I on the day I graduated from high school, so that’s basically the boy I would become again.

I was so shy and unwilling to take risks when I arrived at Stern Hall for my first day of Freshman Orientation.  I also had no real idea of how to go about preparing for a career as a screenwriter.

The first thing I would do differently is take more production and directing classes.  I understand now that writers have a lot more clout when they also produce and direct their screenplays.

I’d do a much better job of networking with my fellow NYU Film students because I’ve seen so many of them go on to bigger and better things, and I wish I had taken the time to build connections that I could use to further my career.

I’d certainly take better advantage of my awesome internship.  Even though this internship led to my first ever paid writing gig at age 19, I kinda blew it off and only showed up when I really felt I had to go.  I should have milked that opportunity for all I could and lined up a job in production right after graduation.

What an idiot I was.  Then again, I was only 17 and really had no idea what I was doing.  If I could go back to NYU now with all the knowledge and writing skills I’ve developed, I would take Hollywood by storm.

I would also work on my social life.  I did overcome my shyness by my Junior year when I became dorm president, but I still wasn’t much of a risk taker.  I was raised to play it safe, and that was my go to social strategy in college.

I would go home to Brooklyn every weekend to work in a restaurant to make the money I needed to pay my tuition.  Looking back at that, I realize that I deprived myself of four years of college weekends and all the fun that goes with them.  I should’ve found a job in the city, so I could still stay at the dorm and be a college kid on the weekends.

NYUI definitely would rethink my love life.  During my Sophomore year, I met the girl who would grow up to be my ex-wife.

Knowing what I do now, I would steer clear of her and ask out so many other women.  Having only one woman in my life for 16 years was not a good choice, given how it all ended, so I would use my reset to date more, to take some chances, and to ask out the women I found to be so intimidating back then.

I’d also spend more time with my Dad.  He died at the end of my Sophomore year, and knowing that now, I would go down to Virginia and spend my summers with him.

Those four years at NYU really turned me into the Modern Philosopher I am today, and it’s easy to see now what mistakes I made.  I would love a chance to hit the reset button and get a do over on that experience and all the subsequent years of my life.

How about you, Modern Philosophers?

Posted in Funny, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments