Shades of Gray

Tuck of the Week!

No Comments 08 September 2018

This week’s submission comes from a promising young prospect from our “Junior Writers With Promise” program: Felicity from Rhode Island.


Great job by you Felicity!

Ask Norman, Features, Shades of Gray

A New Dear Norman! Religion & Sneezing

Comments Off 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,

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.


Shades of Gray

Sexy Memoirs Chapter 12: Teamwork

Comments Off 18 August 2016

She showed up with her friend and of course the pessimistic in me starts to multiply the bar tab by 2.  It wasn’t until the 3rd round of shots interweaving with the dreadful amount of dubstep that I realized why the +1 was brought along.

For she had shared her tall tales of our sexual adventures with her just-as stunning-blonde friend compelling her to join us in inking another chapter into our book of fables.  My excitement quickly gets lost, though, while playing it safe – careful to not give one too much attention.

It isn’t until the face sitting and salvation came into play that i was able to get my flag to full mast. With the combination of their lust and my desire I suddenly found myself in a scene from a movie, and I’m not talking Pixar, although there was a woody.

It didn’t take long before they were passing it off like a baton in a relay race.  When cotton-mouth set in for one contender it was a telling sign that we were close to the finish line. Just as the Prince of Time was about to roll the credits we got the satisfying finish we all worked so hard for… with high fives, pearl medals and a spaghetti dinner.

Teamwork does, in fact, make the dream work.

Shades of Gray

Reins is BACK!

Comments Off 21 June 2016

Well folks, It’s’ nice to hear that TW’s activity induced jaundice was kept shelved with the acquisition of ‘Handshakes’.  I know she was a much welcomed addition to the aging, struggling (with movement) and frequently irritable core in The Shade Athletic Department.

As for myself; 2 weeks ago I was cut from the varsity action adventure team and have finally decided to report to jv camp.
I feel part of the problem at tryouts was this feeling of overall peaklessness that was running through my entire body. The temperate rainforests that I’ve been running through are becoming drab with all of the luscious greenery making swimming in the waterfalls littered throughout the region seem mundane.

I hardly want to jump off of anything into a pool at the base of a fall then drink a beer anymore.  The realization struck me like a dislodged rock to the top of the head. I needed a hill, a big hill and if I could get some scrambled ham & eggin’ in we’d all be better off.

Mt. Thielsen, affectionately  known as ‘the middle finger to the sky’, would be the stage where I begin my ascent to varsity. Standing at nearly 9200 ft with 3700+ ft of elevation gain and a class 4 scramble to the summit providing views of the rim at Crater Lake, Mt Bailey overlooking Diamond Lake, 3 sisters, Diamond Peak, Mt Shasta (McNasty) and some other fucking thing that I didn’t know. All of this on a bluebird day. Yuck.

Besides a few vistas the first 3 miles were below tree line and relatively uneventful. Popping out of the trees it looked like the mountain took an explosive shit as a scree field lay ahead (Kweez/Norm- see Abol Trail). Shortly thereafter I sat on Chicken Ledge and gazed upon the climb to the top. A fun little romp around with hands and feet that were all there.

The stay at the top was long enough for a beer (Worthy IPA) and a view at everything next. The march down was uneventful except for just below the summit where some dipshit informed us he wouldn’t set up his rope until we downclimbed to avoid dislodging rocks above us that might hurl towards our heads and then he started setting up his rope before we were off and dislodged a rock that missed Sean by about 10 ft. I was happy with his decision making abilities. Fuckin moron. Tootles

Shades of Gray

Sexy Memoirs Chapter 11: A eulogy to my Barbie

Comments Off 17 January 2016

Her hair was always gold representing the value of her charm and that smile of her’s stood the hair up on my arms. She was a woman so perfect that every man desired but only a few ran the tread off her tires.
She was dedicated to the gym, tanning, looking good and always wanted a pierce in her hood.
The times we spent together on top or beneath, hotels or the pool and even the backseat.
She was an Angel on earth and a devil in the bed and although she’s gone she’ll be forever in my head.

Condolences to all those that didn’t


Shades of Gray

Sexy Memoirs Chapter 9: Silhouettes of Sex

No Comments 05 August 2015

“I really enjoy the shade when your blocking the light” is what I said to her while she stood there naked in the window as the sunrise begins to shine into our double bed suite at the now debunked Best Western on Airport Road. Too often our encounters would have us partying in the moonlight and dancing till the sunrise and this time was no different. Checkout is right around the corner and I can start to smell the continental breakfast seeping down the corridor but I’m not hungry for that. My appetite for her has not yet been satisfied so I take her one last time. Bending her over the chaise lounge, I pull her head back by grabbing her long flowing hair and start wrapping it around my hand as if I’m trying to clot a stab wound on my palm. But the only stabbing here is my piercing applehead into her freshly naired honey-hole. I catch a glimpse of our shadows moving along side us on the cliche hotel wallpaper and it’s reminiscent of a steampunk espresso machine I once saw at a festival. I turn away and refocus on the task at hand and with my keen sense of time management skills we’re all able to burst onto the horizon simultaneously…her, me and the rising sun.

Checking It Out, Shades of Gray

Musings From The Thought Machine: Human Memory vs. Computer Memory

No Comments 15 July 2015

Socrates may have been mistaken about the effects of writing (not to mention the scientific method), but he was wise to warn us against taking memory’s treasures for granted. His prophesy of a tool that would “implant forgetfulness’ in the mind, providing ‘ a recipe not for memory, but for reminder,” has gained new currency with the coming of the web. The prediction may turn out to be merely pre-mature, not wrong. Of all the sacrifices we make when we devote ourselves to the internet as our universal medium, the greatest is likely to to be the wealth of connections within our own minds.

Its true that the web is itself a network of connections, but the hyperlinks that associate bits of online data act nothing like the synapses in our brain. The web’s links are just addresses, simple software tags that direct a browser to upload another discrete page of information. They have none of the organic richness or sensitivity of our synapses. The brain’s connections don’t merely provide access to memory, they in many ways constitute memories. The Web’s connections are not our connections and no matter how intelligent, subversive or complex companies like Google want to make their tracking mechanisms they will never become our connections.

When we outsource our memory to a machine we also outsource a very important part of our intellect and even our identity. William James, in concluding his 1892 lecture on memory said:

“ The connecting is the thinking. The connecting is the self”. In other words critical thinking is not only distinctly human but it is the essence of humanity.

Human memory is alive, computer memory never will be. When the human mind recalls memories to evaluate, associate and decipher it is in fact a different mind that originally experienced that memory. Computers will never be able to do this.

Screw all you kids

Mr. Miserable

Features, Shades of Gray

Navigating The Lob: Wimbledon Championship 2015 Round Up

No Comments 13 July 2015


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?

Shades of Gray

Tuck of the Week!

No Comments 07 July 2015

This hombre has it all:

  • The gait
  • The sad dad strut
  • The top-siders

And most importantly a TIGHT TUCK. I’ll bet you a Zima he left a 15% tip. Hoo-ahh!


Shades of Gray

Tuck of the Week

No Comments 26 June 2015

This gentleman was a tad shy and hard to pin down but kudos to our street team for getting the job done. WHAT A TUCK!


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