Irregular Joe

     As should be obvious by my reflective bloggery and general childishness, I am of the Nostalgia Geek Generation, those early Gen Xers whose lives revolve around the pop culture they ingested as kids. I’m not proud of it. I’ve long been critical of those who overindulge in pop culture junk and fall victim to the nostalgia-based marketing of Hollywood, K-Tel, Cartoon Network and Pez. I stick my nose high in the air as they stuff their juvenile craniums with Scrappy Doo and Gilligan reruns, Transformers movies and the oxymoronic Essential Marvel Team-Up reprints. But sometimes I am weak. Sometimes those bastards hit me right where I live and recycle a favorite childhood token that I can’t resist. They did it with the Ultraman ’66 DVD set, they did it with the Captain Atom/Blue Beetle/Question Archives, and now they’ve really done it with Hasbro’s reissue of the 1974 Adventure Team GI Joes in all their kung-fu gripping glory.


A Few Beer’s Resolution

     There seems to be a psychological trifecta in the American holiday season, not unlike the Stages of Grief or the twelves steps of Hollywood networking (aka AA). On Thanksgiving, we show our gratitude for the bounty of hot tubs and elective surgeries we have available to us with a traditional feasting of the gravy-laden. Having properly thanked Papa Jehovah for our gruesome overindulgence, Christmas unleashes a bacchanal of retail consumption for which we may be thankful the following year (especially the eternal blessings of refunds and exchanges). And after all this thankfulness and further greed-a-palooza, we have New Year’s, in which we promise to never, ever do it again. 


The Music is Reversible, But Time is Not

Like so many other podunk dirt farmers of their generation, my newlywed parents were eager to leave behind their rural childhoods of chicken beheadings and outhouse hosings and embrace the dream of 1950’s suburbia. They had visions of two-door Frigidaires, multi-speed cuisinarts and full-color Philcos in a ranch-style Levittown castle. There would be backyard barbecues and baseball practice, birthday piñatas on the patio and late-night cocktail parties with boisterous neighbor couples. This last shindig would require the feature every suburban dweller knew he couldn’t live without: the hi-fi.


Generation Wrecks

     Somewhere in 1987, my friend Chuck and I were hanging out in his unfurnished apartment, waiting for that evening’s episode of Webster to begin, when we saw a TV news broadcast profiling “Generation X.” This was a new media buzzword - a label for the upcoming batch of young adults, who were, as usual, completely different in their values and priorities from their parents. Gen X, it was said, was a disillusioned bunch. They had little or no faith in the future, they had an ironic relationship with our corporate-run culture, and they were emotionally unprepared to cope with the struggles of adulthood. Rather than becoming the next wave of innovators, Generation X, they told us, were far more likely to be found watching the Brady Bunch and thumbing through old comic books. Chuck put down his copy of Richie Rich #118 and looked at me sheepishly.
     “Where did this ‘Generation X’ stuff come from?” he asked.


The Agony of the Cleats

     As of this writing, the United States soccer team has been eliminated from the 2014 World Cup competition. This leaves the usual futbol suspects like Germany and Brazil to stomp each other’s toes in a quest for glory, and it means Americans can officially go back to not caring about soccer. We can feel relieved about this since, as I understand it, the World Cup matches will continue for at least the next eight months (with additional time added, depending on penalties and injuries) – or maybe it just feels that long.



I’m going to kill that bird.

Granted, there’s more than just one bird out there. At this time of year, the whole backyard looks like a Disney film exploded, with multitudes of squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and wrens, chattering, chirping, and singing about their longing for a handsome prince (one assumes). The wife and I can keep the windows open during the cooler nights and wake to the soothing sounds of nature wafting in on the breeze. This is the primary benefit of living in the country: Enjoying the sound of songbirds outside rather than the parking lot smackdowns and Ghostface Killah CD’s of the concrete jungle.


Pride of the Crankies

Family lore maintains that the ball hit me on the head. And I’ll concede that getting walloped thus by a baseball could cloud one’s memory, but I still insist this is not what happened. The ball bounced off my glove. And this was because at that tender age, catching a speeding baseball with my fragile, preschool hands was somewhat painful. And I had learned to avoid pain.


Captive Audience

  As someone who’s worked with the public for decades, I’ve concluded that being a “people person” is more a matter of solemn duty than actual love of one’s fellow man. I consider the ability to behave respectfully towards talkative patrons rather than killing them a practiced art, like sharpshooting or making pancakes in the shape of ducks. It’s a talent that could be considered a calling. I know that for me there is no burning desire to absorb the time-wasting blather of others. I’d rather be home watching “Pimp My Desperate Housewife” like everyone else.


Kinder Dregs

I’ve finally gotten to the stage of life where people have stopped asking me, “When are you going to have kids?” This is because I’m now old enough that the idea seems unlikely (barring a Chaplinesque desire for younger and younger wives, who can someday change both the children’s diapers and my own). But it’s also because those who know me fairly well are relieved that I have no impressionable young minds under my jurisdiction. My children would undoubtedly be mouthy little schoolyard terrorists, suffering from both delusions of grandeur and crippling neuroses. I would see to it. They would be the first to tell the other kids that Santa Claus isn’t real and the last chosen for team sports or student council. They would make me very proud.


Internal Combustion: The Talkie

I hear what you're saying: "Sure, that Internal Combustion book is a literary masterpiece. But what about the illiterates among my friends and family? How will they enjoy the heartfelt humor and self-righteous wit of this amazing work? Should I just forget about them and let them keep on watching Season One of Mannix?"

Heavens no! Mannix is butt-awful! As always, I'm here to help. Now there's Internal Combustion: the Audiobook! Three compact discs for one low price, featuring impassioned readings from The Book straight from my very own gargling larynx. Not only unabridged, but with additional blather! Plus an attractive booklet containing all the illustrations from the original book!

Is that not enough for you? Well, it wasn't enough for me, either. That's why, in addition to writing, illustrating, and recording these readings from the book myself, I also created original music for the audiobook production. I'm like Orson Welles and Yanni put together!

Click below for sample snippets of audio. And note just how easy this miracle product is to order! Want to forego that pesky, 20th Century plastic artifact? Then choose the digital download option for half the price!



Too Cool for Drool

I envy you people who say you have no regrets. That is, I would envy you if I thought you were being truthful, and not simply living in denial about all the disgraceful lapses in judgment that blot your permanent record.

Regret could be considered my primary character trait. My life is a rich tapestry of bad jokes at funerals, lampshade-clad party gymnastics, and anger-fueled outbursts of “I don’t need your stinking job!” when clearly I did. My body itself is a testament to regrettable actions. I’m covered in scars received not from acts of orphan-saving valor, but from double-dog dares that I couldn’t catch a Nerf football from the back of a moving moped and similar adventures. If I did it, it’s likely that I regret it.


Prattle of the Network Stars

As much as it will pain me, I may have to defriend Kalamity Kate. I know the accepted term on Facebook is “unfriend,” but seeing as the age of texting has abolished the rules of grammar, I feel I should be able to deinvent the language to my own satisfactioning. I also think wine and tubs should be decorked and declogged respectively, in case you were wondering. But I ungress.


Zen and the Art of Throwing Away Broken Junk: The Movie

Yet another reading from the book "Internal Combustion," written, illustrated, and clumsily read by our own esteemed Ashley Holt. Feel my pain come to life through the magic of 19th Century technology.


Still Only 25 Cents: The Movie

Well, it's technically a video anyway, even though there's only one image. Think of it as a talisman for meditation, this single image. It's a nice break from the usual online blinking and twitching, don't you agree? This sad tale is, of course, from my wildly successful new book, Internal Combustion.


To Cough in the Face of Danger

It should come as no surprise that I’m a bundle of nerves. I was raised by a bundle of nerves. From the time I was born, my father was feverishly intent on imparting to me one, all-encompassing lesson: life is full of danger. Life, according to my father, consisted entirely of electrocution, puncture wounds, rattle snake bites, and vehicular homicide. Being pathologically anxious by nature, he saw his children’s activities as nothing but preludes to hospitalization. He saw the world as a mass of rusty nails and combustible liquids, and his offspring as a gaggle of hyperactive mental defectives, who would swallow fishhooks or lock themselves in abandoned refrigerators for fun. He had splints and peroxide ready at all times.


Halloweak: The Movie

An oral presentation of "Halloweak" from my new book, "Internal Combustion." Read about the book here: http://thrdgll.tripod.com/internalcombustion.htm


Like Reading a Blog, Only with Paper Cuts

Delivered from my very own knotted gut, the musings and doodles which chronicle my anxious existence, collected in what scholars of ancient civilizations refer to as a "book." Click hereabouts to find out more:



King of Stain

My dream for the house had always been new wall-to-wall carpet. This seemed luxurious, yet essential to me. I’ve spent a good deal of my life on the floor - writing, drawing, playing guitar, sleeping off a bender –and quality carpeting had padded my cheeks through these low-level adventures in my youth. So I was spoiled. Forget fixing the faulty plumbing, the gas leak, or the refrigerator that sometimes catches fire. I wanted new carpet.


The Litter of Quitters

Every now and then, while picking up trash in the front yard, I find a pack of cigarettes, almost full. I do a quick scan of my limited Biblical knowledge to remember if Revelation mentions anything about a plague of Pall Mall’s, but I know what really happened here. I live on a busy highway, which means my yard is the receptacle for the garbage our mouth-breathing motorists believe simply vanishes from existence when they toss it out of the window. And sometimes, among the Burger King and Trojan brand refuse, there is a fresh pack of smokes. This indicates that someone just “quit smoking.”


A History of Violence

I think it’s clear to anyone who has beaten me senseless with a crowbar without fear of retribution that I am not a violent person. While others were studying the physical arts of ju-jitsu or boxing in their youth, I busied myself perfecting the sort of intellectual wit that encouraged those other little ninjas to demonstrate what they learned in karate class. But I never cared for physical violence. Why bother inflicting fisticuffs, I rationalized, when I could undermine someone’s confidence about their purchase of a Kajagoogoo album? A black eye can heal in a matter of days, but an emotional scar could require decades of therapy. I still think I made the right choice.