: humans are pack animals :

October 21, 2014 § 4 Comments

Don’t believe me? Get on the freeway.


Contrary to popular opinion, American highways are not great big parking lots. The one you’re on, yes, it’s gridlocked, but there’s open road ahead and behind. Smooth sailing. You just can’t see it for the brake lights and semis standing in your way. Traffic jams, you see, are a natural consequence of our need for companionship. Apparently, we don’t want to be alone.

Yeah? Too bad. Spread out, people, and give me some elbow room. I can’t breathe with everyone crammed together like sardines. This is how claustrophobia starts, you know. And I have enough problems already; I don’t need more. What do you have against solitude, anyway? It’s really quite lovely.

In solitude, you’re free to be the you only you know. There’s no pressure to fit in or appearance to keep up, no expectations to meet (or fall short of) — it’s just you. Do you even know you? Have you ever spent time with you? Well, now might be a good time to get acquainted. Heck, maybe you’ll like your own company? Stranger things have happened.

Of course, I’m probably odd man out. Again.

On the rare occasion we aren’t elbow-to-elbow, we’ve got stuff plugged in our ears or chirping in our hand or parked in front of our face. What’s with the neurotic quest for distraction? I don’t get it. Can’t we just sit down and shut up? Enjoy the view? Smile at a stranger? Think a thought, maybe?

I mean, people don’t even go to the bathroom alone any longer. Have you noticed? They use the buddy system, toting a smartphone or a whatever along for company. I’d pay cash money to find a bathroom where someone isn’t using a smartphone or a whatever.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not antisocial. I like people just fine, but I don’t wanna be trapped in an elevator with one. Think about it. When they got bored — a matter of seconds, surely — they’d pull out the smartphone and start chirping and whistling and vibrating. Et moi? I’d wind up in a sanitarium wearing a helmet.

See? I love quiet. I love privacy. I love solitude. Join me, won’t you? In the figurative sense.


Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: now under new management :

October 15, 2014 § 8 Comments

There’s been a coup, ladies and gentlemen.


My brain, pictured above, has overthrown my thyroid, pictured below, and seized control of operations. Hey, don’t look at me; I’m just as surprised as you are. I had no idea this kind of brouhaha was going on and right under my nose, too. No, it was more behind and a little above my nose — one must be precise.


But the bigger news is, I’m free of that bossy little tyrant at last. Sure, the average thyroid gland weighs, what? 20 grams? Pipsqueak, right? Close, it’s an armored tank. It took nuclear medicine (that’s right, nuclear!) and two flipping years to shut that juggernaut down. It did not go quietly, I assure you. In fact, I’m still not confident it went at all. Hell, for all I know, my thyroid’s playing possum or waiting in the weeds or impersonating a brain. I don’t trust it.


What I do know is I can think again. I’ve been getting ideas lately — the executions are weak (read that as lame), but the ideas are okay. My memory is up and running. I can focus; I can concentrate. I’m fairly rusty, of course, but I should expect that, right? I mean, my brain sat idle for 10 or 15 years, it probably needs a chance to warm up. We all would.

Maybe I should caution you at this point, say something like ‘don’t expect a miracle.’ After all, I’m still the one holding the pencil and even on my best days I’m no Dorothy Parker. Shoot, I’m not even Fess Parker. What I’ve been calling ideas could actually be déjá vu or a bad burrito. So let’s not get all carried away here; let’s just wait and see.

While we’re waiting, I’d like to thank each one of you for your patience and indulgence. This can’t have been easy for you, either. A number of these posts were a tough slog, riddled with all kinds of nonsense and folderol, I know. And that’s what makes your sacrifice so noble — you soldiered on. Without complaint. You’re saints. May the Force be with you. Amen.


Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: I’m a murderer :

September 30, 2014 § 16 Comments

crime scene

Me. I killed a squirrel.

Oh, not with my bare hands or anything, but with my big, dumb car. Okay, technically, it was animal control, not the car, but let’s not split hairs. I’m the one wracked with guilt and shame and a deep, abiding sorrow I can’t shake. Serves me right, too. I’m a cold-blooded assassin.

You see, fall is the busy season for squirrels. Duh, right? Between hiding their nuts and looting the bird feeders, their days are packed. Winter’s coming, so there’s no time to waste. They dash here and there, hither and yon, they zig and they zag from sunup to sundown. That’s what squirrels do. It’s their job and they take it seriously. Have you ever seen one stroll or saunter or dawdle? No, you have not. They have one speed: scamper.

And that’s exactly what this guy was doing that fateful morning. He was scampering. Sure, at first he was cavorting and larking, but then he saw my car. He froze, then panicked. Into the road he darted, changed his mind and made a headlong dash for the curb. He’d be alive today if only he’d stayed there, but he made one last, desperate charge for the road.

I swerved and stabbed the brakes, but to no avail. The furry little dude was badly injured; he couldn’t get up. I wanted to call an ambulance. I wanted to fix him. I wanted him to pop back up and scurry home. With a woeful and heavy heart I called animal control. They came and whisked him away. I watched the truck until it disappeared in the distance.

At lunch, I called to check on him, hoping against hope he survived. He hadn’t.

The woman on the phone was as kind as she could be, but the news hit me like a punch. I couldn’t breathe for the sadness. I should send flowers, I thought; take a casserole to the family, set up a roadside memorial. I should go to confession or turn myself in to authorities, something. Anything.

In the end, I just sat down and cried.

The thing is, I attribute human characteristics to stuff. To me, everything has a personality, it has thoughts and feelings and speaks English. Whether it’s an animal, a bug, a car, a toy, it’s as real as I am. That’s not good. Or healthy. Hell, I get all weepy when my car’s towed. Hoisted in the air like that, only two wheels touching the ground, it looks helpless and pitiful — isn’t that nuts? That’s nuts.

I’m supposed to feel that way about humans. But, curiously, I don’t. Them I objectify. Besides, humans are supposed to have brains; they can take care of themselves. They don’t need me to protect them, to fight their battles. Unless they’re really old or really young, then I’m there.

Everyone else is on their own.


Forgive me, buddy, and rest in peace :’ (

Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: happy punctuation day :

September 24, 2014 § 16 Comments

Yippee and yahoo, boys and girls, it’s time to celebrate.

fred astaire

National Punctuation Day is here.

You sticklers and buffs will no doubt question not only my credentials, but also my enthusiasm for this very festive holiday because I haven’t used any exclamation points. Well, go ahead. I’ve never hidden my disdain for the frivolous and hysterical exclamation point. I don’t like it and I never have. But now? It’s taking over the damn world. It’s everywhere you look.

Lately, it’s been showing up as twins!! and triplets!!! and quadruplets!!!! The practice isn’t limited to exclamations, either. Question marks, too, are popping up in multiples??????? Do we all have a character count to meet or something? Things are getting way out of hand. There are rules, you know? I don’t follow them, myself, but someone should. Otherwise, it’s just lawlessness and chaos. That’s no fun.

You know about the interrobang, of course. The !? or is it ?! Either way, it’s a mutant. An alien. It scares me and I want it to get back in its spaceship and fly away. We don’t need another punctuation mark. We have plenty, what with emoticons :o) and the hash mark (# a.k.a. the octothorpe) and pilcrow (¶) and diple (>). More will just confuse things, don’t you think? I don’t know how to use the ones we already have. And diple? What the heck is that for?

Well, happy National Punctuation Day, kids,but don’t go overboard. If you absolutely have to use an exclamation point, remember, one is plenty. Ditto for question marks. Please, punctuate responsibly!? :o)

> Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: this one’s got our name on it :

September 18, 2014 § 12 Comments

Yours and mine.

We may as well kiss our sorry butts goodbye, because for the next six months or so we’re marked men and women. ulp. If we had any brains at all we’d run like we’re on fire. Starting now.

bulletOpen your eyes and look around, the writing’s on the wall, big as life. Darkness falls earlier and earlier. A fine mist hangs in the air; water drips from the trees and eaves and gurgles in the downspouts. The sky is cheerless gray, the shade of despair. And, most revealing of all, long pants and sweatshirts were pulled out of storage this morning.

What does that tell you?

Bingo. Fall is here. I hate fall. Oh, the season itself isn’t so bad. I like bonfires and hayrack rides and bobbing for apples as much as the next guy. I like the brilliant colors of autumn leaves and crisp apple cider, hearty stews, all that stuff. But it’s too little, too late. Fall is a precursor, my friend, a slippery slope to the nightmarish ordeal lying dead ahead.

It’s only September, for chrissakes, but feels like November. If the weather continues this course, trick or treaters will need a dogsled and an ice axe to make their rounds. Costumes will be buried under parkas and mufflers and wool caps — shoot, save time, dress them as Eskimos.

By Thanksgiving, I’ll envy the turkey happily roasting in the oven. The coming winter is widely predicted to be worse than last year. Remember last year? I do. I still have flashbacks of the polar vortexes. Lately, small talk and idle chatter has revolved around the coming season. Without fail someone gleefully relates how horrible, grim, bleak, and endless this wint — sorry. I can’t go on.


The thought of what lies ahead depresses me to the point of tears. You don’t want to see that. Really, you don’t. I’m an ugly crier; hideous, actually. My face crumples, my nose runs, my hair gets involved — sproing. I’m not one of those beautiful, tragic women who cries quietly and elegantly. I’m Lucy Ricardo’s twin, I wail like a siren. Then can’t stop.

You know, tell you what; call me when spring gets here. But not a moment before.

Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: this isn’t a life, it’s an arcade game :

September 11, 2014 § 4 Comments

Whack-a-mole, that’s what it is.


The second I get one catastrophe taken care of, boing, up pops another. Bigger. Meaner. And more destructive. This is monotonous, ladies and gentlemen. My arms are tired from the whacking and pounding. I need a break.

Remember that second part-time job I got? The one that means I can eat twice a day now? Well, guess what. Rumor has it they’re going to close the office. Gah! Why do I even get out of bed in the morning, right? There’s one very  simple, very compelling reason: to escape the screeching and snapping and splintering from my upstairs neighbor and her long-suffering recliner.

Oy. Shoot me now. I’m begging you.

Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: seriously, clean up your filthy language :

September 3, 2014 § 22 Comments

imageSwearing offends me, goddamn it, but not for the reasons you expect. Swearing offends me because it’s tiresome and banal ¹ , not because my knickers get in a knot over bad language.

There are tens of thousands of words in American English; vivid, compelling, eloquent words just sitting there waiting to be used. Dictionaries are bursting with them, thesauri, too. But what do we do? We turn up our noses and ignore them. We choose, instead, to use the same few words the same way to say the same things as everyone else. It’s effing this and effing that and effing the other.

Snap out of it, you lazy bums.

That isn’t communication; it’s a failure of imagination. Our vocabularies are shrinking, just wasting away from lack of use and disinterest. And shame on us. We need to put a little effort into our thoughts, be original for a change. We aren’t sheep, for crying out loud, we’re unique, distinct individuals. It’s time to start talking like it.

We can begin by having thoughtful, illuminating conversations instead of rants — and that is my biggest gripe against profanity. It makes everything being said sound angry. Not saucy or irreverent ² or funny, but belligerent. Unhinged.

So stop with the effing gutter talk already and use your mother-effing brains, you effing effers. The art of communication is dying before our f*#@ing ears and we’re the effers beating it to death. That’s effed up, man, knock it off. (See what I mean about angry?)

The only interesting thing about swearing is how some people do it better than others. Take Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s terrific, but –yeow — lay off the f-word, lady, I mean it. It sounds forced and self-conscious. Elaine Stritch, may she rest in peace, used smutty language like an artist. It was positively lyrical coming from her. That’s very, very rare.

Now, let’s all step back, take a deep, cleansing breath and quit being such vulgarians ³ . Let’s work on our vocabularies, make them big and strong. We can do it; we can learn to express ourselves. Come on, let’s dare to be different and use lovely, expressive words like articulate, instead of those puny four-letter things.

What do you say?

scrub brush

Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

 ¹ Banal — [ [buh-nal, -nahl, beyn-l ] adjective so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.

² Irreverent — [ ih-rev-er-uh nt ] adjective showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously.

³ Vulgarians — [ vuhl-gair-ee-uh n ] noun an unrefined person, esp. one with newly acquired power or wealth.