I originally wrote this song parody in March 2006 (apparently my month for food tributes). It’s set to the tune of Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (original video is below if you want to follow along).

“Cleanin’ Off Six Platefuls”

Where’s my biscuits?
I have no biscuits with my chicken
Need that roll
yeah… grow, grow…

Have you ever had a hungry bottomless pit?
I have, I’ve stuffed and crammed whenever I sit
Spoonfuls of gravy, crazy, shit won’t even fill me
Sick is the growin’ and expandin’ from my behind
even if it’s a rind on the ground I’m throwin’ it down
Don’t even care that gemometrically I’m round
Just can’t fill up, stomach’s one rollin’ rumblin’ sound
Keep finger lickin Popeye’s chicken in the evening
and morning coffee rolls and pop-tarts before leaving
See they also tempt me, tease me, stomach emptied out
Look at this sow, I bet ya probably getting sick right now
ain’t you tummy I’m orderin off the back of the menu…

This parody piece was originally published on Tumblr on June 29, 2013, following the public news of Katie Holmes divorcing Tom Cruise. Facebook’s “On This Day” feature reminded me about that post last night (writing it had long ago departed from my memory) so I decided to republish it here.

At the conclusion of the historic documentary “Dawson’s Creek,” Pacey had fallen back (weeeeeee roller coasters are so fun!) into a relationship with a resigned and waffling Joey. They had a flat in NYC. …

My maternal grandfather, Raymond Washburn, died peacefully at 3:00 this morning at the Philip Hulitar hospice center in Providence, RI. He would have reached his 92nd birthday in two weeks, on the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend. We moved him by ambulance to the hospice center around noon this past Sunday — adding an anxious solemnity to Mother’s Day for his daughters and wife. It had become clear after a difficult Saturday night that he didn’t have much time left. By Wednesday, he was no longer opening his eyes and was unaware of his surroundings, his visiting family, or the staff. It had been a difficult 18 months or so for that side of my family as he started this slide into dementia shortly after his 90th birthday. He had been on oxygen since June 2003 and had stoically dealt with other physical ailments, as the elderly so often do, including a quadruple bypass. He was a fighter. His mind had always been his strength and suddenly even that was failing him. By his 91st birthday, at our traditional annual cookout to celebrate three generations of birthdays all occurring on that one holiday weekend, I had to re-introduce myself to him.

My Granddad was a quiet, dignified man who was always extremely sharp, with a bright wit, and a constant mischievous twinkle in his eye. He could convey more with a subtle wink than most people could say in a verbose soliloquy. He was hungry reader, consuming large quantities of books, including favorites written by Robert B. Parker and James Patterson. He nourished a large appetite for watching sports as well. It basically didn’t matter the game; he enjoyed almost all of them in a regular buffet of televised athletics.

Some of my favorite memories of him were discussing the Boston Red Sox or the New England Patriots. Over my own life as a Patriots fan, he took me to my first training camp at Bryant University and I was able to return the favor years later when I had season tickets by taking him to a game at the old Foxboro Stadium. In 1985, I cried confused tears in his living room when my scrappy team of heroic Davids failed horribly in the Super Bowl against an historic Goliath from Chicago. On New Year’s Day 1995, our family gathered at the Layfette House in Foxboro for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. A number of us, including my grandfather, spent large chunks of the party sneaking off to the bar area where we watched a Bill Belichick led Cleveland Brown’s team knock the Pats out of the playoffs 20–13. For awhile, throughout high school and college, my Christmas gift to him each year was tickets to a Providence Bruins game with me, my Dad and sometimes my Uncle Joel. Hockey was one sport he didn’t watch on TV, but still loved going to the games nonetheless.

He carried his love of sports into his own participation in bowling leagues well into his late 80s. When he was forced to stop bowling a few years ago, after falling and injuring himself. I was similarly forced to confront the idea of my grandfather’s fragility for probably the first time. He was disappointed to lose his time and camaraderie at the bowling alley but tried to remain active at home, in their large yard, almost until the end (against the advice and wishes of his wife and children!). As recently as last Saturday, unbeknownst to my grandmother, he got dressed in their upstairs bedroom, shuffled downstairs, and was settled in his chair, following the routine he had for years. …

First dates fall under their own special category of people-watching. Regular, run-of-the-mill people watching — for me, at least — involves sitting in a public place most likely procrastinating whatever task I am supposed to be accomplishing in that public place. I justify it as exercising my all-pro peripheral vision. Or as necessary physical therapy to stem the tinnitus tide brought on by years of sitting behind a drum set. Or as necessary observational foraging to gather vivid details to illuminate future writing.

In other words, I bullshit myself regularly. That trio of rationalizations — while technically true and, I’m sure, useful in those ways — are pure, vile, well-warmed cow manure. I people-watch because people fascinate me.

On Saturday, I sat in a public place and had the misfortune of observing an awkward first date between a man and a woman who were both around 55-years-old. One could not write a worse ad for online dating without including a crime as the night cap. Although I do think that some juries might convict this woman for the 35 minutes of subtle psychological abuse with which she assaulted this poor guy.

The couple chose chairs extremely close to me so I could hear every word of their abbreviated first encounter. Immediately — as I was frantically searching for a way to procrastinate from my real writing — I noticed that this man bore some form of vocal impairment. You could comprehend his words, but his tone was thick, almost like his tongue took up too much room in his mouth. I glanced over and discovered that his lower jaw thrust slightly forward and his mouth’s movement seemed restricted as a result. That malformation probably explained the unusual voice.

Other than those two minor irregularities, the man seemed to be very pleasant. He sat, smiling, holding a hot coffee. Friendly. Open. The woman sat perpendicular to him without a drink. Arms folded. Closed. He tried. The poor man tried. He brought up every subject imaginable. He asked her questions about herself. She responded with cold, abrupt and disinterested phrases.

“You don’t want a coffee?” he asked.

“I don’t like Starbucks.”

This is probably a good place to mention that they were sitting IN a Starbucks. Assuming he hadn’t kidnapped her, at some point she had agreed to meet him at a Starbucks.

“What kind of coffee do you like?” This man rolled with every miserable response she gave him!

“Honey Dew,” she said then shifted deliberately in her chair by tucking her chin and pushing her torso away from him. “Starbucks is too strong.”

[Dating tip: When someone asks “Hey, do you want to meet for coffee at Starbucks?” and you dislike Starbucks, it is perfectly acceptable to counter with “Do you mind if we go to Honey Dew instead?”]

Next up was her divorce (still friends with her ex). Her kids (no kids). Her job (some kind of customer service job). She brought up Dunkin’ Donuts just to complain that they get her order wrong so she doesn’t go there anymore. She mentioned that she was born in Boston. So he asked her questions about Boston. She shut that topic down quickly: “I don’t go into Boston.”

He courageously followed up on her job: “Do you get a lot of rude phone calls? People complaining?”

“I know how to handle it.”

What an engaging story-teller!

[Dating tip: When someone expresses interest in your job, feel free to tell a funny or interesting anecdote about that job.]

She never asked a single question about him.

[Dating tip: Among humans, when someone asks about your job, it is acceptable to then ask them about their own job. In fact, it’s the most effortless way to have a conversation with another human. Simply parrot whatever they ask you.]

This went on for about a half-hour. Enthusiastic question. Grumpy, negative response. Toward the end I even took a longer look just to be ABSOLUTELY certain that she wasn’t Bill Belichick in disguise.

“Have you eaten lunch?” he asked hopefully. God bless this man. How low does his self-esteem have to be that he wanted this cruel and unusual punishment to continue through an actual meal?

“I ate at home,” she said, walking the thin line of condescension. One wrong step and she might smack him with her royal scepter.

By the way, their date started at noon. Let’s add this to the scoresheet: she agreed to a date with this man at Starbucks at lunchtime but ate first and doesn’t like Starbucks.

“Actually, I have to get going,” she said then stood up. “I have errands.” With that, she flipped her maroon velvet cape and strode out the door.

(In reality, she wasn’t wearing a cape. However, I would bet a pretty five-dollar bill that she owns at least three.)

I wanted to give the guy some sort of “buck up, champ” punch on the shoulder. But I didn’t. I hope he can bounce back and gather the strength to go on a date with someone else. And maybe he will.

I was left thinking about what it must have taken for him to put himself out there. I imagine that maybe he has extra difficulties meeting women because of his speech impediment and slight underbite. So he took a different route and tried online dating. There — he probably hoped — he could meet someone on even ground. A woman would get to know his personality first before superficiality could kick in. After a few emails, they finally agreed to meet in person. Then it all fell to pieces. Again.

She sucks as a person. Fine. A lot of people suck. The part I don’t understand is: why agree to meet him at all? Why even join an online dating site? The very act of joining suggests that she WANTS to meet someone. She certainly didn’t act that way. She acted put out. She acted like someone was infringing on her freedoms. She acted like the founder of the ACLU being dropped into a nationally televised TSA cavity search.

Even if she were so superficial that two minor flaws in a 55-year-old man were insuperable, at least be nice and have normal human interactions. Don’t act offended. You agreed to this date! I haven’t checked the dating rule book in quite some time, but if memory serves, you aren’t obligated to have sex with a guy just because you were nice to him. Make the most of the 35 minutes. It’s small talk. There is no imposition in a voluntary situation.

Her bizarre entitlement and/or core unpleasantness spoke volumes about her. This is why you’re single, lady. You think you’re better than other people. Not everyone is compatible but that doesn’t make you BETTER than the other person.

I should have told this guy that he deserved better. …

Voices in my head rumble like Estadio Azteca.
Tirelessly. Yo no hablo español.
Violate my sleep all night with radio mariachi.
Tired, I agree: so now soccer is fútbol.

Originally published at www.insanitywashmeclean.com on July 10, 2012.

On February 21, 2014, the Huffington Post’s UK edition published an opinion piece by Lynn Shepherd entitled “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.”

This piece smells a bit like rancid click bait to me. I hope it is, for otherwise it means that Shepherd actually believes that a successful person should quit to clear the path for others.

The gist of the article is that because JK Rowling became enormously successful writing her young adult series about Harry Potter, then she should stop trying to write other types of fiction. Shepherd attempts to defend the notion that Rowling’s subsequent ventures into other types of fiction aren’t fair to other writers and those writers’ chances of being published. In short: Rowling got her money already so now she needs to stay away so others can get theirs too.

[Read the original article here]

I’ll ignore my confusion about why she focuses solely on Rowling, a legitimate writer who didn’t have her success handed to her, and not on the many celebrity “authors” whose ghost-written books become best-sellers simply because the smiling face on the cover is a familiar TMZ fixture.

Even if you expand Shepherd’s premise to include all known, marketable names, it still fails the sniff test and reveals a foundational jealousy and insecurity. Whether she intended to do so or not, Shepherd implies that the only reason she (and other writers at her success level) aren’t populating the best-seller list is because they aren’t named JK Rowling (or Snooki, or whoever).

Is that the world in which we want to live? One where you don’t strive to improve and surpass your competition, but rather beg your competition to withdraw?

What a sad message to send out into the world: “You can’t succeed in an endeavor because someone else is successful in the same field.”

Apply that defeatist notion elsewhere and the absurdity is obvious. Perhaps each year’s Cy Young Award winner should retire so as to open up a roster spot for a young pitcher in AAA who really, really (pretty please) wants to pitches in the majors.

Perhaps it’s high time for Jennifer Lawrence to retire at 23-years-old so that some other kid can star in the next “Hunger Games.” At the very least, Lawrence should do the gracious, accomodating thing and stick to a single genre. After all, Lawrence’s success doesn’t mean she possesses a unique talent that the paying public enjoys. It probably just means that she’s a lucky individual among many other equally skilled and interchangeable actresses

I, for one, wouldn’t want my success to rely on the voluntary departure of all competition. It will feel even better if/when I finally earn success over competitively tougher odds.

I also know for sure that competition breeds innovation. Without the heavyweights of literature, or sports, or film as goals, inspirations and aspirations, our society would be left with only middle-of-the-road performances. We would all suffer as a result. Advancements would cease if we forced a ceiling on success. …

Scott Weiland, the front-man for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, passed away last night while on tour in Minnesota. As a memoriam, I reposted the last review I wrote about one of his recordings, STP’s “No. 4,” from the November 1999 edition of Renaissance Online Magazine. Because it’s backdated, it doesn’t show up as my most recent post, so here’s the direct link: STP’s Instant Classic.

Originally published at www.insanitywashmeclean.com on December 4, 2015.

This afternoon I was rejected from donating blood because I had a simple, basic dental cleaning this morning. The guy with smoker’s cough and yellow teeth, who was filling out his form across from me, was accepted.

This makes me wonder which of us the future blood recipient would choose? Assuming a hypothetical scenario in which that patient has access to either a menu of potential donors with their picture and vital statistics or, at the very least, a buffet where we all line up like dishes of tantalizing Chinese food during the lunch rush.

Maybe I’m crazy or simply not an educated part of the health care elite, but, after perusing all the options at that buffet, I would choose the person who looks the healthiest. The person who appears to take care of himself and, by extension, his blood (which will soon be hanging out with my blood). I would not choose the person who just coughed up a half-ounce of tobacco residue all over the crab rangoon like he was the worst Iron Chef contestant ever. …

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, most often Starbucks but I don’t believe in exclusivity so I make sure to spread the love to other, smaller, establishments as well. Before meeting my girlfriend four years ago, I rarely drank coffee — and had never drank a drop of iced coffee. Her obsession with coffee runs deep. Very deep. Think Bubs from “The Wire” and you’ll be in the right neighborhood. I enjoyed spending time with her so, in the beginning, I became sort of like that kid, Johnny Weeks, who followed Bubs around and helped him collect copper wire. …

Three oaks lined the driveway, sprouting icicles like daggers. A tiny fir stood in the yard, bent low by the weight of the storm. A sheet of ice lay, hidden, beneath the snow. Ricky Ortolano lifted a shovel full of heavy snow and remembered just how dangerous it could be.

They call it black ice when it hides out of sight. When it blends in perfectly — waiting. They should call it what it really is, what is easily forgotten: nature’s booby trap. Pristine prettiness, a winter wonderland.

Slipping in a winter wonderland.

He had the habit of reworking song lyrics to fit his needs. That one fit. Not that he wanted it to, but he couldn’t change the past. Turning back time remained the futile hobby of fools and dreamers. Ricky saw himself as neither. Yet the past always lurked, rearing its sometimes ugly head when he wanted to forget. …


Designer, Internet developer, writer and drummer from the biggest little state in the Union. I taste like chicken. https://about.me/kevinridolfi

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