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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Paul A. Toth

Secret Lives of the World’s Greatest Composers: Mozart

June 8th, 2012
by Paul A. Toth

Despite my ability to fluently write and speak thirty-nine different languages, the four Ph.D.’s I’ve earned, my work as an archeologist, forensic pathologist, pre-Socratic philosopher, neurological surgeon, mime, locksmith, zoologist, and janitor - despite it all — I could never rest until now, when I can finally share the results of the eighty-five years I’ve spent unveiling the secret lives of music’s greatest composers.

It started with a hobby, my part-time position as an unlicensed psychiatrist, which prepared me for this project. It may well be said that this physician failed to cure himself, much less his patients, but my gracious colleagues ensured me they, too, never failed to fail.

Born immune to the culturally-bankrupt “music” known as the blues, I found my succor in Western culture’s highest achievement: the arrangement of notes into compositions that required great minds to explain how the masses could pretend they enjoyed the greatest music the world has ever ignored.

Leaving that task to others, I instead chose to explore the lives of these almost-tolerated geniuses. I selected my subjects based on a simple litmus test: Had they served as the subject of at least one major motion picture?

And with that, let us begin with the obvious and regress to the oblique as we explore the secret life of Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 250 A.D. to Roman parents, Irrititus Alotus, a hot-tempered shoes salesman, and Lustus Allmaleus, a seductive and highly-successful nymphomaniac. When pulled from the womb, Alotus immediately struck the boy in the head with a frying pan. Mozart, whose parents waited fifteen before naming their child, was rendered deaf in both ears and suffered brain damage as a result of the assault, which in turn led to the one factual element portrayed by 1997 film Amadeus: a mind-splintering giggle that would result in many more blows to the head.

To escape Alotus’ violence, Mozart fled to the Galapagos Islands in 1200 B.C., building a canoe with botched crosses imported from Jerusalem and employed as torture devices during Rome’s Spanish Inquisition.  Incredibly, modern scientific technology has proven Mozart the first human being to ever visit the islands.
Landing at Santiago, Mozart endured temperatures as low as 69 degrees. He survived by constructing a three-bedroom bamboo hut. In freezing temperatures, Mozart solved his boredom by studying the sounds made by birds and insects. Despite having never heard a single musical instrument or undergone the slightest musical training, Mozart translated these sounds into musical notes. Soon, he began carving his first compositions in tree trunks.

“The Tree Compositions” disappeared over the following 2600 years. Only one example remains. It was discovered by Charles Darwin in 1965 and immediately Fed-Ex’d to Art.com. But Darwin discovered something far more compelling in 1323, facts recorded but deleted from his never-completed journal, “Sex, Sex and More Sex.” By using MRI technology, forensic mythologists, aided by physician handwriting interpreters, recovered much of the deleted material in their examination of Darwin’s notes. In doing so, they revealed one of the biggest secrets of Mozart’s life.

In those passages, Darwin remarked upon observations he deemed unnecessary to his theory. The notes, rambling and nearly unintelligible due to the penicillin-resistant strep throat Darwin contracted in 1769, contain only a few lucid passages. One of those passages will forever change our understanding of Mozart.
Darwin writes, “One day on Santiago, while studying the Arctocephalus galapagoensis, I noticed that dozens of these creatures had apparently been violated in a region of the body the naming of which would be unsuitable for this journal’s audience. (Note to self: This may sell. Rethink decision later.)  I knew only one man had been to this island before me: Mozart. I recognized immediately that this supposedly- cultured man, barred from relations with women until he departed Galapagos in 1892, was the culprit, foisting himself upon these helpless creatures. With one mission remaining, I stopped in Haiti on my way home and consulted a witch doctor, requesting that he cast a curse upon Mozart.”

The Arctocephalus galapagoensis, or Galapagos fur seal, and specifically fur, propelled Mozart into a promiscuity that began the moment he returned to civilization. Leaving in the same craft that had carried him to Galapagos, Mozart eventually landed on the shores of Kazakhstan in 1899, completing a six-year journey. During the voyage, Mozart carved new compositions into the floor of his canoe, creating leaks and the need to drink and spit out the waters threatening to literally sink his ship.

Upon his arrival, the boat promptly disintegrated. Local villagers, frightened by the wig Mozart had taken to wearing during his Santiago years, grabbed the remaining boards and beat the composer out of what senses remained. From that day forward, Mozart, already deaf, lost the ability to feel, see, taste, and smell.
The villagers left Mozart to the lack of his lack of devices. He spent the night on the beach and, testing his abilities, learned that the only sound he could still produce was the giggle that had led to giggle. Tortured by memories of an unconsummated love for one of the seals, and tormented by hallucinations of frying pans, Mozart sprinted into the vast and flat plains populated by intellectually-vacuous peasants, a scene familiar to those who’ve visited Kansas.

As spears, arrows and rocks grazed his flesh, Mozart unknowing headed into the desert that would eventually become known as Russia. He arrived in Moscow, exploding with musical ideas and his sexual obsession with the fur seals he would neither forget nor ever see again.

He wandered the streets. At one point, which most historians date as occurring sometime between the years of 1498 and 1814, Mozart happened across a street pianist. Hearing the notes he had until then merely imagined, he frantically searched for the source, but he saw no birds or insects, only the man on a bench, tapping upon a strange device. Stopping between pieces, the pianist looked up and noticed the disoriented and half-naked human specimen now leaning on his piano, eyes closed. Assuming Mozart to be a narcoleptic idiot, the pianist took his unconscious superior to the local hospital. It was there that hospital records, only recently released by the Russian government, tell another secret tale.

Familiar with the disorder, Mozart’s doctors treated him by way of cocaine. Released from the hospital with a lifelong prescription for the drug, Mozart rode the White Pony for the rest of his years. Fortunately, the doctors had sympathized with the senseless, giggling composer, and before his departure, gave him enough money to support his living at hotel for two months. Mozart, walking on cocaine legs, covered the one hour walk in thirty-five seconds. The doctors, knowing his inability to speak, had made arrangements with the hotel, and Mozart was attended to with special care by the matron, one Zhamaryspechikov Zavajhanovovich, a widow whose inheritance had made her a wealthy business owner. Nevertheless, Zavajhanovovich was lonely and often “visited” her male lodgers late at night.

In this manner, Zavajhanovovich went to Mozart’s room at midnight. Upon opening the door, she witnessed the composer in a furious cocaine power-wanking session, in which it can be surmised that Mozart’s mind was filled with visions of fur seals. Knowing an opportunity when she spotted one, Zavajhanovovich stripped off her clothes and revealed another kind of fur, then pounced upon her willing prey. Mozart and Zavajhanovovich married half an hour later.
Now living permanently in the hotel, Zavajhanovovich taught her husband how to write. One day into the honeymoon, Mozart could communicate his thoughts in thirteen languages, and, except for his music, this provided his sole means of communication.

One morning, Mozart handed Zavajhanovovich a note in which he asked that she go to the market and purchase for him new ears, eyes, tongue, nose, and “if possible,” nervous system. When she responded with the silence of the stunned, Mozart jotted a second note: “Never mind. But please obtain 185 exterminators to eradicate the liquid spiders dripping from the ceiling, which is melting.”

Thus, we arrive at the solution to a psychiatric mystery. Often diagnosed as bipolar, Mozart instead developed paranoid schizophrenia from his constant use of cocaine. Recent studies solidified the diagnosis by revealing that 100 percent of paranoid schizophrenics hallucinated insects, birds and fur seals whenever listening to Mozart’s music via I-Pods supplied by researchers.

Deeply worried, Zavajhanovovich took Mozart to the office of a charlatanosk, the era’s equivalent of a psychiatrist. This charlatanosk, centuries ahead of his time, provided the exact treatment a modern psychiatrist would administer in such a case, doubling Mozart’s medication. This doctor, whose name remains unknown, became Mozart’s lifelong friend, and the doctor’s monthly requests for greater compensation were met with instant approval. Mozart recorded the sole in his diary. Having protested for ten minutes, he writes, “Liquid spiders began dripping from the ceiling, which was also melting.” He instantly paid the requested fee.

Mozart’s career left the launching pad in 1413, just as the Russian Revolution began. Zavajhanovovich, labeled a bourgeois capitalist by the newly-formed government, was arrested and sent to Siberia during what historians would later call “seventeen days that changed some of the world for a while.” Mozart proved immune to sorrow; he reports in his diary that he “never stopped imagining my sweet wife as a far sweeter fur seal.”

His career survived the chaos to come, then thrived as communist officials rushed to witness the “giggling idiot.” After expressing his desire to copulate with Stalin’s mustache, Mozart was arrested. Though originally pre-sentenced to death, Mozart’s fortunes turned when Stalin recognized that executing the world-renowned prisoner would create too great a public relations crisis. He was released in 1642 and sent to the czar, who proclaimed the composer a Hero of the Soviet Union.

The final secret of Mozart’s life regards his death. Long the subject of intense scrutiny and conspiracy theories, not to mention a good film plot, the secret facts can now be revealed. For reasons unknown but documented by the secret witness account left by Stalin himself and made public by a different dictator yesterday, Mozart’s final words - or word - proves the power of the supernatural: “Voodoo,” he said, and breathed his last breath. A Haitian witch doctor’s curse had killed one of the world’s greatest composers.

In honor of the dead hero, Stalin arranged for the shipment of Mozart’s corpse to Galapagos, where he was buried with 25,000 fur seals executed by NKVD guards in a “Soviet Supreme Sacrifice” attended by 65,000 birds, 3,000,000 insects, and the ghost of Charles Darwin. But one last secret occurred in Mozart’s afterlife, for Soviet secret police records note that Stalin had become so obsessed with the composer that he shaved his mustache, which was placed in the coffin that now rests somewhere beneath the florid surface of Santiago Island.


Sarah Maizes

My Child Has Autism and it’s Awesome!

December 2nd, 2009
by Sarah Maizes

LOS ANGELES, CA-  As the mother of a child with autism…

I don’t have anything else to add to that, but I got your attention didn’t I?  Don’t feel like a sucker.  You’re not the only one.

It has come to my attention that whenever I say “As the mother of a child with autism…” people instantly pay attention.  They presume I’m wise and sagely, and they’ll take virtually anything I say as gospel.  It’s quite fabulous really.

The statement could be followed with something as simple as “…I like kids chewable vitamins” and people will take this into serious consideration.  “Hmmm…maybe chewables ARE better for kids than gummies.  I mean, she would know, her child has autism.”

I didn’t ask for this.  I didn’t plan on having a child with autism.  I didn’t want to have a child with autism, but lo and behold, I do.  And it sucks.  But when you have a child with special needs and you’ve put in the hours and years of dedication to the process of helping that child as I have, shouldn’t I enjoy a few of the perks?

Well, people thinking I am really smart is one of them.

When I say “As the mother of a child with autism, I buy mostly organic fruit.”  It is met with a collective “Oooooooooooo.”

When I say “As the mother of a child with autism, I have my kids ride their bikes at least twice a week.”  I hear a united “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.”

Believe me, I don’t actually think I’m saying anything interesting or even noteworthy.  I’m usually not.  And God knows, whatever I’m yapping about is almost always unsubstantiated.  I’m a busy woman.  Sure my kid has autism, but that doesn’t mean I know any more than the average bear.

But people can’t help but think I have something valuable to say.  It appears to be a natural gut reaction to think “Oh, she’s the mother of a child with autism.  She must know a lot about child development.”  Or, “Wow, her kid has autism.  That sucks.  Even if I don’t agree with her, I feel sorry for her and I’m going to give her whatever she wants.”

I’d love to say I’m above it, but I’m not.

It’s wonderful.  If I’m at school and I want my daughter to have a better seat in class, I just say “As the mother of an autistic child, I think mine should sit in front.”  If I’m out with friends at a movie I can say with great authority, “As the mother of an autistic child, I think the characters were extremely well-drawn.”  Or, let’s say we’re driving to the valley and I just don’t want to be stuck on side streets.  I’ll say “As the mother of an autistic child, I think we should take the highway.”

I suppose I shouldn’t expose myself to the world and tell people I’ve figured this out, and I certainly shouldn’t use my own family’s misfortune to take advantage of others when I can get away with it.

But I did, and I do.  And now, I’m headed out to dinner with some friends.  I’d like to have a couple of cocktails, so I’m thinking I’ll casually ask “who wants to be the designated driver?”  We’ll all look at each other and then I’ll point to one of them and say “As the mother of an autistic child, I really think you should be the one driving.”

And it will work.

At long last, I’ve found my silver lining.


Slade Ham

Silent Warrior

November 10th, 2009
by Slade Ham

HOUSTON, TX -

It started at 3:00 am and it didn’t stop. It was relentless. It’s the second attack in as many weeks and my sanity may suffer for it. I am under siege from the most well trained, mosquito assassin on the planet.

I have forever been aware of the buzzing annoyance that describes most mosquitoes. This one though, this one is a special breed. With a regular attacker, you can isolate it by its sound. You listen to it as it gets closer and closer and then slap the last place you heard it. I’ve killed them by the thousands over my lifetime, and I’m afraid that’s why they’ve sent this demon warrior after me. The Uruk-Hai of the insect world.

(more…)


Ryan Day

Marketocracy

November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)


Richard Cox

Add Intensity, Subtract Limpness

November 6th, 2009
by Richard Cox

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-

The other day I was walking down Market Street, enjoying a rare day of calm winds and clear, sunny skies, when a stranger approached me. His hair was brown and coarse, like horsehair, which he clearly hadn’t washed in weeks. Maybe months. He was short and swarthy and wore a thick, bushy moustache and a black trench coat that was too big for him. I tried to walk around him, delete him from my life, but he swerved to intercept me. This is what always happens. You can’t get away from these guys.

(more…)


Paul A. Toth

My Siamese Twin

November 6th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

This has been what I call the Year of Ice. Colder than a shaved polar bear. Sayonara 2009. It’s been a year of pills, pills and more pills, until finally I seem to have reached some kind of treaty with bipolar disorder, which barely warrants discussion given that virtually everyone is now diagnosed as bipolar. Still, it’s important to note that when I write “ice,” I mean anxiety, yet when I write “anxiety,” I do not describe all attributes of “ice.” (more…)


Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, and Lenore Zion

Girl, You’ll Be a Bond Woman Soon, or, Happy Birthday Rich Ferguson, TNB Style

November 3rd, 2009
by Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, and Lenore Zion

THE DARK RECESSES OF OUR MINDS-

Rich Ferguson, because it’s your birthday and because you just make being a Bond Girl so insanely cool, we’ve run a little contest in your honor: Who Makes the Best Bond Girl?

As you will see, several of the TNB guys have slipped into something a little more comfortable in your honor. So, quiet your inner Wai Lin, have a martini and leave your briefcase tear gas canister and testosterone at the door.

(more…)


Ronlyn Domingue

My Horrible New York Times Review

November 3rd, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue

NEAR 91 DEGREES LONGITUDE-

Here’s the good news. My first novel was reviewed by the New York Times.

Here’s the bad news. It was a horrible review.

I do not hyperbolize. It was really bad. So that you understand how terrible it is, I’ve included it entirely as the next full paragraph. Please feel free to gasp, snicker, or laugh aloud at any time during my cautionary tale, even if you think you shouldn’t. Release the humours. It’s healthier that way.

Fiction Chronicle, Sunday, November 20, 2005. The Mercy of Thin Air (Atria Books)

Domingue’s first novel is like “The Lovely Bones” minus the lovely prose;

(more…)


Rob Bloom

Sky’s the Limit

November 2nd, 2009
by Rob Bloom

PHILADELPHIA-

Show of hands, guys. How many times have you been sitting in your living room, beer in one hand, backup beer in the other, watching TV, when out of the corner of your eye you notice that old bookcase of yours and suddenly realize what’s been bugging you for months, maybe even years, but have never been able to articulate in a clear, succinct statement, namely: “if only I had a gigantic wooden replica of a World War 1 propeller to prop in front of this bookcase!”

(more…)


Megan DiLullo

The Piss Museum

October 31st, 2009
by Megan DiLullo

BOULDER, CO-

It was located in the basement of an old craftsman that had virtually no ventilation, directly across from the elementary school on Pine Street. When you walked down the stairs and into the dank space the air was hazy with dust particles that shone in the sunbeams that had bullied their way in through the highly set windows. The fractured yet cheery sunlight being the only reminder of outdoor life to the subdued musty feeling that hung in the underground quarters.

The house itself was a rundown rental: The small front yard was an odd mixture of overgrown weeds and patches of dry bare earth. Plaid couches, rescued from various dumpsters around town, littered the crooked porch of the sinking haven. Discarded empty bottles of whatever cheap alcohol someone managed to shoulder tap and smashed beer cans lay strewn about the base of the discolored sofas like barnacles. Really, the exterior appeared much like the interior, sans the heavily used and abused musical equipment and beer matted shag carpeting. The windows sat askew in their rotting wood frames like the crooked smile of a child who had just lost its first tooth. The filthy glass was covered in punk rock ooze, creating a darkened hue, that you couldn’t see in, or out of. (more…)


Don Mitchell

Beaten by a Fairy

October 30th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

“I got beaten by a fairy,” I said to David, the New York City Marathon finish line director, after I crossed the finish mats, wondering if I was going to puke. A worker put a medal around my neck. I talked instead of puking.
(more…)


Paul Clayton

Writing From the Gut!

October 29th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

I recently flew south to do a piece for Poets & Writers magazine about a rather unorthodox writers camp. Called The Write Stuff, it’s run by a writer named Rock Adams. Ever hear of him?

(more…)


Ducky Wilson

Possession Is No Laughing Matter

October 28th, 2009
by Ducky Wilson

BFE, TEXAS - 

A bead of sweat pools on the tip of my nose. I want to wipe it, but I can’t move. Light pinwheels around my eyes like a kaleidoscope at a carnival. I hear my breath quickening, but I don’t know why. Other sounds morph into a distant drone punctuated by organ interludes.

Am I in church?

Yes.

Through pinholes in my delirium, I can see Father Tassio talking behind the pulpit, his hands working the sermon like a potter would clay on a wheel. Behind him, I can see the cross where Jesus bleeds, the holes in his hands pulsing dark tunnels to another dimension. I look away so I’m not sucked into them.

(more…)


Adam Cushman

Film Review: Funny Guy

October 27th, 2009
by Adam Cushman

LOS ANGELES-

A light bulb dangles in a Northridge, California motel room. Streetlights glow through cracks in the blinds. Trembling hands dump a bottle of Bacardi 151 on the head of a shirtless Philip Seymour Hoffman. Said hands strike a match. Enter the flames. The screams.

A revolutionary comedian’s head has just caught fire.

(more…)


Colleen McGrath

The Crack in my Mac

October 27th, 2009
by Colleen McGrath

BERLIN, GERMANY

There’s a crack in my Mac

In the casing to be exact

And I wonder what I am to do

(more…)


Oksana Marafioti

The Time I Walked Away from Mel Gibson

October 26th, 2009
by Oksana Marafioti

LAS VEGAS, NV-

When I was twenty-eight I saw Jesus Christ give a speech from the back of a pickup truck.

Immediately I called my husband and told him to get his ass over there so that, like me, he might also bask in the glory of Christ. Plus, I needed a witness. Someone my family trusted.

(more…)


Kimberly M. Wetherell

A Multi-Hyphenate’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking, Chapter 1: Pre-Production

October 26th, 2009
by Kimberly M. Wetherell

BROOKLYN, NY –

The most important thing for any Multi-hyphenate (Writer/Director/Producer) to know before embarking on an independent film project is this: No One Knows Anything.[1]

First and foremost, you must always remember: This rule does not apply to You.

You are right and everyone else is wrong.

You are the only person who knows How It Should Be Done.

(more…)


Greg Olear

It’s Not the End of the World As We Know It (Although It Could Be Argued That Roland Emmerich Is One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)

October 25th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

How’s this for a sign?

The North American release date of 2012, the latest and hopefully last disaster picture from the same aesthetes who brought you the cinematic “Ode to a Nightingale” that is Independence Day, is Friday, November 13.

My birthday.

This is wrong for so many reasons. If 11/13 were going to be defiled, I’d rather Roland Emmerich, the “auteur” whose flick this is, just take a birthday dump on my front porch.

(more…)


Christopher Eaton

A Decent Interval

October 23rd, 2009
by Christopher Eaton

CHICAGO-

My wife and I have been together long enough that what should be between us in bed is a decent interval.

I can appreciate that “early on,” couples might want to engage in touching. Even at the risk of children. But at some point, personal space needs to be allowed back into the sleeping arrangement.

Many couples resort to a dog to reestablish spouse-free zones in bed, only to find themselves later united against the dog.

Our problem began with my wife’s ass. It’s a nice ass—during the day. At night, though, it is transformed into a marauder, conquering the linen expanse of our shared bed, relentlessly seeking out warmth. You see, my wife sleeps cold, while I sleep hot. And once my wife falls asleep, she gets colder. That’s when her ass takes over.

(more…)


Amy Guth

The Morrissey Story

October 18th, 2009
by Amy Guth

NEW YORK, NY-

I grew up in restaurants and hotels, daughter of a restaurateur. People came around, people who were famous sometimes for one thing or another, people who had an entourage, people who tried to demand preferential treatment somehow. I didn’t necessarily recognize any of these people, sometimes I did, sometimes not, but there was a tension that hung around the kitchen and chef’s office when a VIP was scheduled to be in the dining room, a tension that would disappear the moment he or she arrived and everyone remembered the star was as human as the rest of us.

Later on, as I grew up and lived in Manhattan, seeing celebrities wasn’t any big deal. It’s what happens in New York, and only tourists dare make a garish scene and acknowledge the famous in any way other than that of a peer. Even if the heart is a teen-aged girl gripped with the Beatlemania of the moment, the exterior had to be cool. (more…)