Ask Norman, Features, Shades of Gray

A New Dear Norman! Religion & Sneezing

No Comments 11 April 2017

dear Norm,

 i was shopping at the grocer when a man picking out pickles (kosher dill) turned to me and sneezed in my cart. 1 other man in the aisle turned and said “bless you” whilst a 2nd man said “blesh you”. I frowned at the new found germs I’d be paying for and walked away. Can we please do away with this public sentiment of filth and religion?
Shopping in Shirley,
Kweez
—————————————————————————————————————-

Dear Shop,

Thanks for writing – always nice to hear from a lifelong fan. It’s an honor, truly.

From what I can tell in reading your missive your challenges are two-fold – a public health concern and an ecclesiastical affront. I’ll take them in that order.

I’m with you. I don’t consider picking up a nasty illness during my weekly grocery a ‘bargain’ deal. In fact, if I were running things, that pervert would be drawn and quartered in the town square for spewing his venom in such an egregious way. I’ve long been a fan of public shaming and violence and feel both of which send a clearer message than the passive aggressive harrumphing that has come into vogue with the advent of millennials. This quack threatens the livelihood of you and yours it should be well within your bounds to smack his ass. This is why we shove a pup’s face in his poo while training. It works.

On to the ecclesiastical matter.

I’ve long been a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state – and certainly public health for that matter. Moreover I think the church should be separated from everything and be made to sit by itself. It’s been misbehaving for far too long. Nor do I see any reason to associate any type of heavenly body with snot and/or phlegm. If one were being helpful in such situations they’d shout instructions on how to not spread germs while promptly running in the other direction as to not worsen the situation.

Norm.

Features, The Written Word, Top Ten

The Do’s & Don’ts for Labor Day Weekend

No Comments 30 August 2016

Enthusiasts,

If you’re like me you can’t put this summer in the rearview mirror quick enough. Am I right? Sweet Moses Malone was it a hot one! But fear not, sitting right in front of us is the perennial Gateway to Autumn. Ah, yes – Labor Day Weekend.

Now, I’m sure you’ve got lots of irons in the fire what with Back-to-School in full swing and Old Navy’s sale on jean jackets. SO, we wanted to put together a quick list of Do’s & Don’ts heading into the weekend to both help maximize your fun levels and help you steer clear of any awkward moments.

Here goes:

Do:

  1. Beat the traffic. The last thing you want to do is spend a significant amount of time in the car. Make a plan and get after it early.
  2. Bring a snack. The worst case scenario is you don’t eat it. Perhaps you could even feed a stray dog and really make his/her day?
  3. Wear sunscreen – and lots of it. It’s too late in the season to tango with a burn.
  4. Have a few regrets – it’ll give you something to think about over the winter
  5. Say something nice about Ryan Lochte. He really needs a friend right now.

Don’t:

  1. Eat anything new. Epipens are now 600 dollars. Stick to the basics, save yourself a bundle.
  2. Drive once you get there. The most common case of this is picking up a friend. Don’t. Tell that friend to screw. Cops are everywhere and have nothing better to do than watch porn in their cruisers or bust you for having a few casuals.
  3. Commit to weekend plans through September. Didn’t you learn anything this summer? You won’t keep them. You’ll never keep them.
  4. Wait to fill up your gas tank until the weekend. Prices spike on holiday weekends you dummy. Get it done now!
  5. Say anything remotely bad about Beyonce, regardless of how sick of her you are. People are nutzo about this. Seriously you’ll be cast into such a shitstorm you’ll with you kept your mouth shut. Keep it to yourself and it’ll be smooth sailing.

Be safe out there!

 

Features, The Written Word

Your 2016 Gaspee 5k Round-up

No Comments 12 June 2016

Enthusiasts,

The 2016 Gaspee Days 5k was one for the books. I know yours truly will not soon forget it!

Yes, it’s true, the entire staff is still mourning the (temporary) loss of Reins while he follows his dream traversing the Cascade Mountains in search of an audience with the rare Yeti-like creature Panboche. We all long for his poetic prose and miss his sharp reporting on deli meats, foot stink and digestion. However his absence is most sorely felt on The Shade’s athletic squad anchoring our running team. For years his odd posture and nimble feet earned him the nickname ‘Sour puss’. He became a fixture at the Gaspee Days 5k. Whispers of anticipation could be heard around dumpsters weeks in advance of race day.

Alas – since his departure – the entire Race Team had been fretting about where inspiration would come from this year. Luckily the guiding hand of Zoroaster brought us a gift in the 11th hour – Felicity Schlitz and the Shimmy Sham Handshakes.

  • Yes, she is a singular entity that prefers to be spoken of in pluralities
  • Yes, she’s a chicken nugget aficionado
  • Yes, she prefers ‘plain shirts’
  • Yes, she’s the newest member of The Shade staff heading up the new Youth Beat initiative

In short, she gave us the kick in the pants we’ve so sorely needed since Reins dumped us (sad face). She bobbed when everyone else weaved. Zigged when everyone zagged. Boom! She even tricked me into buying her a pack of madeleine cookies 30 seconds after I swore up and down that I would never do anything of the sort. Now THAT’S panache!

She showed up to the race, scrunchie in-hand (see: hair), working the crowd with a business-like attitude. Eyes always on the prize. As some of you know the Gaspee race course is a hilly, unforgiving little sucker. Upon zipping right through the course Felicity reportedly “kicked those hills’ butts”. While the rest of wheezed our way through we were all pleased as punch to be drunk on her youthful exuberance.

While Felicity was clear MVP she was almost outdone by her foil that day – the Public Address Lady. Boy, this lady was a tremendous shithead! Normally I can appreciate anyone who commits themselves so thoroughly to sucking every ounce of fun out of a good time. It truly is an artform I admire. But this lady…..ooooof! She brought no artistry to the endeavor. A real JV squad effort on her part. If the team didn’t have a luncheon date at Wendy’s immediately following the race I would have personally sought her out to give her a verbal dressing down she could have told her grandkids about. But, she escaped unscathed – an injustice we’ll have to endure, I guess.

In closing I’d like to welcome Felicity to The Shade family! Your shirt is currently in development and we’ll expect your dues check in the mail.

Still Wet with Sweat in Watertown,

Norm.

P.S. Mittens St. John (pictured below) was given a warm saucer a milk then tied up to a tree after reportedly attacking an elderly schmuck that was holding a Trump sign

IMG_1589

 

Sexy Memoirs, Top Ten

Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up

No Comments 11 February 2016

February stinks. Football is over, Valentine’s day is depressing and/or expensive plus it’s got a smug, silent letter. It’s the only month where the number of days are mucked around with on a seemingly random basis. Speaking of – no leap year has been skipped since 1900 and no others will be skipped until 2100. Spooky.

What gives with this goddam month?

We don’t know either, but we’re 100% with you on having a case of the frumps. Staffers have been moping around the HQ doing the sad dad dance now for going on 2 weeks. SO, we called a staff meeting and put our heads together to come up with the Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up:

10. Learn some swear words in Esperanto

9. Watch the Coldplay halftime show for like the thousandth time

8. Do Djokovic-approved squat thrusts

7. Use your finger in a way that maybe you haven’t

6. Try a new Salad dressing (salad dressing Raphael perhaps?)

5. Read Sexy Memoirs Chapter 5: Brown House with Pink Shutters 

4. Work on new candle scents like “post nasal drip” and “moldy box of playboys”

3. Start research for your cell phone upgrade

2. Celebrate a holiday you have never celebrated before and go big.  Maybe host a party?

1. Intertwine things you want with things you need

Features

Community Voices: Riding the Bus

No Comments 27 January 2016

To the guy who is merrily whistling on the bus,

Stop.

Sincerely,

Everyone else on the bus

Ask Norman

Dear Norman: Shenanigans vs. Rough-Housing

No Comments 21 July 2015

Dear Norm,

I recently had my ears boxed by an old pal. It was the first time for me and, boy, did it hurt! Now, I’m a fun-loving guy. I like to ‘mix it up’ with my pals. But, to me, this seemed to cross the line and THAT got me thinking. What’s the difference between potentially dangerous rough-housing and good-natured shenanigans?

Bruised and not at all amused in Amherst

———————————————————————————————–

Dear Bruised,

The answer to your question can be summed up in one word – intent. But since I’ve already written 20 words (including contractions) allow me to go on.

It’s not always the case, but typically when shenanigans include hand-to-hand contact it’s mostly open fists. Obvious exceptions to this rule (to name a few) include a simple bop on the head and, of course, a rib rub. Some people would argue a noogie, but I wouldn’t. Noogies are no joke and should be handled as such.

Conversely, hand-to-hand contact when rough-housing almost always includes closed fists. And most definitely includes a sneer when one thinks no one is watching. Again, a base layer of malevolence is evident.

If you find yourself questioning if something is either rough-housing or shenanigans chances are it’s rough-housing.

Not at all worried about your safety,

Norm.

Features, Shades of Gray

Navigating The Lob: Wimbledon Championship 2015 Round Up

No Comments 13 July 2015

Enthusiasts,

The championship match at Wimbledon yesterday was a great day for tennis, cheese dip & day drinking.

I sat down with a virgin box of Wheat Thins, fancy cheese spread and a few Long Trail Summer Ales. The morning was well on it’s way to success before the match even began.

According to match color man, John McEnroe, Roger Federer looked ‘beautiful’. Novak “The Joker” Djokovic had some solid deep knee bends in his arsenal. Things were prim and pressed.

Looking to show the world he still ‘had it’ the normally reserved Federer was seen chugging Jolt soda and mouthing the words to Funky Cold Medina pre match. The Joker, still stinging from his French Open final defeat was, as he is wont to do, screaming at a wall with his shirt off. The vibe was electric, the weather, frenetic. Even the ball kids were adding a few extra bunny steps while they shagged loose balls. Pip Pip, Cheerio!

The crowd had echoes of being pro Federer. Little doubt was left when seconds before start they chanted his name in unison and collectively mimed The Fed’s signature move of gracefully brushing his locks off his forehead after smashing a winner. McEnroe was flabbergasted. Chris Fowler, dumbstruck. Djokovik, irate.

Let’s get it on!

Federer was strong early. Exhibiting the strength and finesse he’s been known for throughout his career. The forehand was zipping, the backhand zagging…all the while the brushing of the hair was effortless (even dazzling!). The Joker, while significantly less handsome, seemed to take each Federer blow in stride and, in some cases, even up the ante. Fraught – the crowd had an early spat of indigestion. Luckily there was a 2:1 special at the strawberries and cream stand to settle early upset stomachs.

The Joker had a few awkward moments. A few missed drop shots. A stumble resulting in an ankle niggle. Some long forehands. A grass stain on his bum. How would he handle it? The view from 10,000 feet was that he was tighter than a pair of jeggings.

Federer broke The Joker in the first set’s 6th game and looked poised to inch ahead. The crowd collectively held it’s breath waiting for The Joker to either:

  1. Strike a ball girl
  2. Swallow his own face
  3. Enter Shembala mode
  4. Both A & B (but not C because it’s impossible)

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The Joker nibbled on his snack, got himself together and broke The Fed’s next serve and immediately went into a series of deep knee bends circumventing the court mocking the linesmen and anyone else that fancied to look. I had to see it to believe it.

Match color man, John McEnroe, initially began to criticize The Joker for this act of brashness claiming “The crowd at Wimbledon is classy, they hate this one-ups-manship”. Ever the opportunist, McEnroe saw a break in the tennis action and began to evaluate the deep knee bends based on some knowledge he’d picked up in the Northern Plains Amateur Gymnastics circuit back in ‘77. Overall, he claimed the bends were just ‘very average’.

Ultimately The Joker’s efforts paid off. Although he played the better tennis, The Fed succumbed to the psycho mind games of Djokovic and lost the set with a cheeky double fault after an uninspired tiebreak performance. No one saw it coming. Not even Djokovic who stood staring at Federer with his piercing blue eyes while The Fed applied product for the second set.

All but down and out, Federer lost the first game of the second set in love. Momentum seemed in The Joker’s favor. Any rally by Federer was met with further deep knee bends and occasional pelvic thrusts and spitting by The Joker. Federer continued to double fault, Djokovic continued to snack. The points were tit for tat, back and forth. Yet again another tiebreak.

Refusing to lay another egg Federer approached this tiebreak in an effort that can only be categorized as “Howard Trostsky-like”. Points were exchanged. Djokovic started to unravel with a costly mental error sending a wayward forehand 30 feet up in the air. Reading his lips I could tell he kept yelling ‘PATCHOULI OIL’ in the general direction of the front row. For what it’s worth, during The Joker’s unraveling, The Fed looked like he was waiting for an iced coffee on a sunny day. The difference was stark. But what did it all mean?!

The third set was much of the same. Each player battling, exchanging points and committed to hydration. Contrary to the experts on Channel 4, rain clouds were beginning to gather and the crowd gave a collective gasp. Typically reluctant to close the roof Wimbledon Director, Davis Guilmette, was the focus of attention as he weighed his options: call the match or risk a stain on his (and everyone else’s) khakis. What to do?

The rain fell. The balls flew.  Light rain turned heavier and Guilmette signaled for the field crew to commence the covering up by throwing his sterling white frisbee into the trashcan across court. Fed and The Joker retired to their separate quarters off-court to begin a game of Words With Friends (WWF) with each other to keep ‘the mood’ going.

Luckily the showers passed quickly and the players were back warming up within 15 minutes (allowing for only 3 minutes of warm up time and a juice box). The question was – who would benefit most from the break? Would Djokovic calm down and stop being so psycho?  Would Federer benefit from his tea and biscuits? Was Federer’s use of the word ‘avuncular’ to lead off the game of WWF leave any residue of resentment with The Joker?

We wouldn’t have to wait long to find out. Federer put up a noble fight but never managed to re-capture any momentum he had before the delay. Even though Federer was clearly the one artist on the court today, Djokovic was too powerful. The celebratory deep knee bends were too hot to handle and too cold to hold. Upon hitting the winner Djokovic took his ceremonial fistful of Wimbledon grass and threw it down his gullet. When asked how he felt winning his 3rd overall Wimbledon championship he replied “Avuncular”. Will wonders ever cease?

Features, Winston Churchill Misquotes

Winston Churchill Misquotes

No Comments 13 July 2015

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. Now let go of that biscuit. It’s the last one and I’m the Prime Minister. NOT YOU.” – Winston Churchill

Features, The Written Word

Letter From An Army Jacket

No Comments 12 June 2015

Dear Editors of the Shade,

It has been a while since I have made a submission, but I found something today that I think should be shared among the editorial staff.

I was looking at a camouflage jacket that I have in my possession. A few years ago,I stole it from a twenty-something named Pikul. He did some shady body work on my girlfriend’s car after I sheered off the passenger side mirror trying to avoid a shadow late one Saturday evening. I didn’t trust the kid, but needed the work done cheaply and quietly. I gave him my business but I stole his jacket as some kind of moral collateral.

I wore the jacket to one campfire and then forgot about it in a heap of life’s detritus. I was going to bring it down to the thrift shop today and here is what I found in the pocket while cleaning it out:

boyce letter

I saw you made the police report Saturday night. I hope that cop had an ear for detail and got it correctly when he quoted you as saying “fuck you” to both the police and citizenry of Watertown – well done.

While some people look down on run-ins with the law, I never understood the stigma. I say if your not running a line between getting put in cuffs and just having a good time than you’re just standing still while the world moves away and around you.

It’s what gets good people in lockup overnight. And ultimately it’s the poets job.

*In a way you were doing your job, and they did theirs. No one right, no one wrong, and both parties get to feel accomplished – if the “fuck yous” were warranted (and they always are) don’t regret.

The revolution is coming – keep adding to the spirit.

[M. Henault]

The letter, like so many, went unsent and sat forgotten. But I think I made good on its purpose. I folded it back up and placed it in the pocket of Pikul’s jacket. I didn’t bring it down to the thrift shop though. I drove by Pikuls old house, where he did the work on my car, and threw it onto the lawn. I’m not sure if he still lives there, but I don’t think it really matters.

Ask Norman

Mr. Miserable: The Epidemic of Adult SIPPY Cups

No Comments 22 April 2015

Dear Morons,

Am I the only one noticing the epidemic of adults using SIPPY cups? What the hell is going on here?

Everywhere I look I see nimrods sucking away on a on their goddam SIPPY cups like it was their mama’s teet. What’s wrong with you people? If you get thirsty swallow your spit. If you get REAL thirsty grab a beer.

Oh no, not any more. These days if one feels a spot of dryness coming on they flip up their plastic no-drip nipple and start sucking away.

For the adult SIPPY cup enthusiasts….help me out. I’m doing some market research. Which of the following applies to you:

  1. You think you look real cool and are saving the environment with your SIPPY cup
  2. You don’t give a shit
  3. You have no fucking clue and do what everyone else does

I might have a shred of respect for people that chose option 2. But still, why not just walk around with an industrial strength zip-lock bag of water and stick your stupid face in it when you want a drink? It might fit better in your fanny pack.

For option 1…whatever happened to Nalgene bottles? They serve the same purpose except you don’t look like a donkey when you extract the water.

As for the rest of you, grow up and smarten up.

Mr. Miserable.

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