Thursday, September 29, 2016

Personalities, Ordered

Nerds and geeks are often labeled as troubled, weird or “having something wrong” with us. I’m here to tell you that this is probably true, but it is not a bad thing. I wear it as a badge of honor; who wants to be normal anyway? The idea that we are weird and troubled does not mean that everyone else is somehow more functional than we are. Even so, people who are aware that they are broken and dysfunctional are the sanest ones because we have better insight into ourselves and by extension people in general. The crazy ones are the people who ardently believe that they are completely sane and rational. Trust me, I’d rather be socially awkward and under control than “normal” and a raging alcoholic. Yes, those are sweeping generalizations and yes there will be more.

Accepting the hypothesis that as nerds and geeks we are all mad here, let’s delve into the ways we may be mad from a psychological perspective. We have talked before on this site about mental illness, mostly focusing on psychotic, mood, and anxiety disorders. We talk about these diagnoses (what I refer to as “The Big Three”) the most because they’re the most disruptive to the lives of the sufferer and those around them right? I do not find this to be true. The Big Three are the disorders that people can most readily identify, but I contend that Personality Disorders can have more insidious and long-term effects on a person’s life and social environment. A personality disorder has 5 key elements according to the DSM-V which are:

1. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior. This pattern manifests in two or more of the following areas:
a. Feeling
b. Thinking
c. Interpersonal relationships
d. Impulse control
2. This pattern deviates markedly from cultural norms and expectations.
3. This pattern is pervasive and inflexible.
4. It is stable over time.
5. It leads to distress or impairment.

Personality disorders also have 4 common elements common to each diagnosis. These are:
1. Rigid, extreme, and distorted thinking patterns (thoughts)
2. Problematic emotional response patterns (feelings)
3. Impulse control problems (behavior)
4. Significant interpersonal problems (behavior)

Personality disorders are further divided into three groups called “clusters” (I know this seems a bit obsessive itself, but people who study psychology LOVE grouping things. It’s like, our pastime.) These clusters are:
Cluster A - the “odd, eccentric” cluster
Cluster B - the “dramatic, emotional, erratic” cluster
Cluster C – the “anxious, fearful” cluster

I’m sure it won’t be hard to figure out what group your specific personality type is in. Chances are that people have been calling you one of these descriptors all of your life. I usually get Cluster B myself, though anyone who has been around me for more than 3 minutes usually classifies me as “odd” as well. I cannot make this point strongly enough; just because you find that you have some of these symptoms IT DOES NOT MEAN that you have the disorder. All human behavior exists along a spectrum, and all people will exhibit some disordered behavior at some point in their life. Just because you like to clean does not mean that you have a pathological illness. Maybe you just like the lemony fresh scent of Pine Sol. A lot. It is fine if you identify so much with some of these behaviors that you strongly suspect that you may have one, but I urge you to see a mental health professional before self-diagnosing. Personality disorders are hard to diagnose because they can be difficult to distinguish from normal transient states without proper training and experience.

I would say that many nerds and geeks would trend towards Cluster C disorders, particularly Avoidant PD. Many times people who would fall into this category identify themselves as introverts. There is a point when mere introversion can become a crippling inability to excel in interpersonal relationships both professional and personal.

In Cluster B, which I have extensive experience with, I would say many nerds and geeks *cough LARPers cough* could fall into this category as well. I say LARPers and tabletop RPG players because those are games that cater to extroversion and being able to express emotions openly and freely. These behaviors become problematic when the person is unable to regulate their behavior, that is, know when to turn it off and on. Its fine to be a manipulative, conniving scumbag in your Vampire LARP, but you should not also be one at work the next day. People in this cluster tend to have the least insight into their problematic behaviors, instead constantly blaming others for the problems that they themselves cause. In stark contrast to Cluster C types, Cluster B types rarely think about their own internal states, so they most often are encouraged to seek help by those around them. Cluster B disorders can be the most destructive of all the personality disorders as they are most often described as being “toxic,” and their behaviors take a great emotional toll on those around them. Healthy Cluster B traits can make someone the life of the party; pathological Cluster B traits can cause someone to be the inevitable cluster-fuck drama bomb of the party.

Finally Cluster A traits can be shown in the quiet reclusive geeks and nerds, the ones who retreat into their hobbies because they are unable to relate to others. These are the types, such as the Schizoid PD, who you can only connect with through their hobbies. You may only see them at conventions where they can indulge in their particular area of interest in the company of like-minded individuals.

This is all just some information to get you thinking about if a personality disorder is negatively affecting your life in ways that you may not realize. If you have more questions about these disorders, information about them is available almost everywhere on the internet. It’s easier to become curious about a diagnosis than to come to a conclusion about whether you have something or not, so please see a therapist. Maintaining good mental health is a communal activity and the more we talk about bit the better we can help each other. If you have any questions or you need direction, you can tweet me or email me at

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

That Time I Was Black-shamed at Work

So there I was...

I work at a a part time office job. I don't have a lot of other Black coworkers, which doesn't really bother me because that's been my life and I know how to blend. I'm very Suburban. I've stopped saying that I have “White” traits, and instead I have Suburban traits. I realized recently (it shouldn't have taken me this long) that being Suburban is not tied to being White, and I should do stop perpetuating that line of thinking. There are plenty of Black people from the Suburbs, there are entire towns of Black Suburbs. You should see my Whole Foods!

So like I said, me and this girl rarely work together, but every time I do work with her she always has something slick to say about our backgrounds. At first I thought I was imagining it, but I soon realized that 1. there was definitely shade coming out of her towards me every shift, and 2. she had no idea she was doing it. First there was the religion talk; she's very religious and talks about it fairly constantly. When I told her I wasn't religious, there were judging looks, but I let it go. I thought we should be friendly, and I'm not about workplace drama. Then there was the day she was talking about her lineage. She knew all about her background and ancestors. She stated to me, repeatedly, how HER family were NEVER slaves. I said I don't know much about my family past my great grandmother. She was incredulous that I didn't know more, again repeating that SHE was NOT descended from slaves. I told her that it seemed like she was judging me about that. Even my White coworker said something about her insistence on that point. She denied it. I let it go.

Yesterday was the last straw. I go in, friendly as can be to everyone, including her. Again, I try to foster some kind of office-civil relationship. I was looking through Facebook and saw a funny Color Purple meme (the details are irrelevant, but trust me, it was Hilarious.) and I show it to her. She laughs, I laugh. Pleasant moment right? She then proceeds to explain TO ME the joke that I HAD JUST SHOWN HER. She literally asked me if I knew that it was from “A movie called The Color Purple.” At that moment I had a moment of clarity where I realized she had been what I can only call Blacksplaining* things to me from day one. She was constantly explaining Black culture to me, a Black man. I told her point blank to stop doing it. She didn't feign ignorance; her ignorance was quite genuine.

I make jokes about being White all the time, but they're MY jokes about ME. That is not license for others to do so unless we are good friends; me and her are definitively not friends. When other people make inferences or statements about my Blackness I get REAL serious REAL quick. She kept laughing and smiling and saying she was sorry. I told her she wasn't sorry and that I was offended. I said it three times, and each time she said “Ohhh, don't be offended.” I was clearly offended, which she should have recognized because it's not a common feeling I feel in my feels. It's incredibly hard to offend me, so when I am, I don't let it go. Still, she was laughing and asked for a hug. I told her to back off. I told her she's been doing this from day one, trying to make herself feel like the Superior Black Person at my expense. Her apologies were both condescending and belittling at the same time. She kept trying to explain herself, and I had to, again, repeatedly, ask her to stop because she was just digging the hole deeper.

First she said that she thought she had to explain to me the joke I had just showed her like I was one of our White coworkers. I asked her why she would think that. She said because I have worked in places with a lot of White people. Like the place we were currently sitting and talking in. The job she had actually had longer than I have somehow imparted Whiteness onto me and not her. She was flustered by now, and kept laughing and said something about me growing up in the Suburbs. She is from Philly, and I grew up in Woodbridge, NJ.** I guess that made her more authentic than me. Except for right now she lives a town a few miles from me IN A MUCH NICER AREA THAN I LIVE IN. At this point the irony was strangling me. She kept trying to convince me that it was all a misunderstanding, a joke. I was not laughing. Kept asking if I was offended, and I kept saying yes. Kept saying it wouldn't happened again, and I told her that it would because she had no idea that she was doing it and, I believe, did not even understand what she was doing wrong. The condescension in her eyes was still there. After several more insulting comments she left, but the insult stayed with me. It's still with me today.

It is ironic that as I am writing this there is a discussion on Twitter about Black nerds being bullied in HS. I was never bullied, but I was, I guess mocked is the best way to describe it. I was mocked by White kids, but it didn't matter because I felt intellectually superior to most other kids. Their words meant nothing to me. Yeah, I know how it sounds, but it saved me years of therapy. When I went to school in a different town were there were other Black kids, the mocking was more hurtful because I was so happy to be around more kids who looked like me, and they were not happy to hang around me. Yeah it hurt, which is probably why I'm still sensitive about the subject. Thankfully as I got older I met more Black people who accepted me for who I am, and I thought that part of my life was over. Imagine my surprise when now, at the ripe old age of 38, I still have to deal with judgment and people policing my Blackness. It had become so rare that I thought maybe I had imagined it, maybe I was being oversensitive, but no. This is a real thing and it has to stop.

I've seen that some people deny this happens, or tell people to just get over it. Having core pieces of your identity questioned by the very people you identify with is not something one just gets over. In fact, it's time we as Black people and American culture in general stops blowing off other people's feelings and experiences. I'm not saying spill your emotions all over the place, have some dignity for God's sake. I'm kidding mostly, but invalidating the feelings of someone who is opening up about a subject important to them is a major dick move. As I've said, this is a sensitive subject to me, but I can't imagine any Black person would respond positively to this treatment. Likewise, blaming everyone for the actions of a few is weak as well. In fact the reason this is bothering me so much is that I thought I was done with having to deal with this stuff. I don't really have a point, or a conclusion or anything. Just, don't be the dick that does this to other people.

*I looked up the internet definition of “Blacksplaining” and was horrified. For the purposes of this essay “Blacksplaining” is when one African American condescendingly explains a part of African American culture to another African American.

**Exactly what it sounds like. A collection of the most average suburban sprawl towns you could imagine.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"A Few Words About Suicide" or "I Hate Your Joy"

My mother killed herself in a rather grisly fashion when I was 23 years old, and death has set up a permanent residence in my head ever since. It's a few weeks away from what would have been her 59th birthday, and she starts to flood my mind around this time. One of the big misconceptions about suicide is that it get's better when the environment a person live in gets better. I saw it in action; my mother started to brighten up in the weeks before she did it. Of course she was happy, she'd found what she saw as her solution to a miserable life. I can tell you from my own experience that reversal of fortune does not always effect depression, at times it can make it worse. Some people are so used to being miserable than when they finally get the things that make them happy, they become terrified of losing them. They kill themselves when everything is good. I call it “going out on top.”
People are shocked by suicide, especially when it's done by someone who they feel has a good life. What people don't understand is that a “good life” is relative. You never know who is really suffering unless 1. they trust you and 2. you ask them. The people who are most at risk rarely talk about it. That isn't to say the people who are vocal shouldn't be taken seriously. All expressions should be taken seriously. When someone who is really depressed suddenly brightens up, be concerned. One of the most dangerous times in the recovery of a suicidal person is when their medications improve their energy but therapy hasn't improved their faulty cognitions yet. People become more motivated and energized to act on their plans.
Major Depression isn't as dangerous as a Depressed and Manic self, the mixed episode. Hopeless, Impulsive, and full of boundless energy is not a good combination. If there's Winter Depression don't you think that Summer Mania is a thing as well? I've seen no less than 3 of my Facebook friends post about friends lost to suicide in the last 30 days. Good weather can be very depressing. Suicidal people, seeing everyone else having fun and happy, may feel even more broken because they feel they should be happy too. Warm weather is when these people are bombarded by everything that proves their faulty thoughts and automatic beliefs correct, much like being single on Valentine's Day. It's a stark reminder of everything you don't have. Depression warps perception; beautiful weather can be torture. I, personally, Hate Your Joy unless I'm happy as well. But I'm petty. “There's so much I SHOULD do,” the suicidal person thinks, “and so much I'm NOT doing. I'm a waste.” Suicide doesn't mean someone gave up on life; these people should not be reviled. Depression is something you succumb to, like any other terminal disease.
Depression loves rainy days and blizzards, abandoned train stations and isolation. There's a certain relief the depressed person feels when no one else is having fun either. Unseasonably warm weather throws people with mood disorders off, and they generally don't deal with it well. Depression is ever present and it doesn't take a day off. Its been my experience (as a Mental Health Professional I have come across A LOT of depressed people) that, as a friend, the best way to help them is to keep them out of their own head. If they don't want to go out, stay with them. A person cannot commit suicide if you're ass is always in their face bugging them. And eventually that may distract that person from their intrusive, self-destructive thoughts. They may not outwardly express their gratitude, but trust me, it helps.
Suicidal people don't need to be deified or have grand gestures to effect positive change; they just need to know that people would really have their lives wrecked if they killed themselves. Suicidal people are obsessed with death; it's a friend, a lover, a release, a safety valve that promises a solution. They're so in love with Death, everything and everyone else is obscured. It's not selfishness, the rest of the world just disappears, like sick twisted new infatuation. Like anyone in an abusive relationship, helping someone in this situation takes support, concern, and attention. You can't get tired or burned out. Make it a team effort so one person can pick up when another runs out of gas. It's hard to for the depressed person to know and believe that if you kill yourself you'll break so many people you care about.

Spring seems to be rush hour for the depressed at work. Pay attention to your friends, pay attention to the people who you could not live without. Because some of them may feel that everyone would be better off without them. If you are lost, message me, I get paid to do this and I offer my services for free as well. People need you. One death can have a negative ripple effect destroying so many others; those closest to you will feel it the hardest. If this sounds like you, Break up with Death. That ho don't love you.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Non-Productive Comedy Show, August 7th!

The Non-Productive Comedy Show is a live stand-up comedy and variety showcase that takes place the first Thursday of every month in Montclair, NJ, and features some of the best professional comedians from the Tri-State area.

The next show will be on April 7th at 8pm at Just Jake’s on 30 Park Place in Montclair. Admission is $5, and food and drink specials will be announced the night of. Tickets are buy one, get one free with college ID. A ticket for our Crap-Raffle is included. It is exactly what it sounds like. MAKE SURE TO GET THERE ON TIME! 8PM! You miss the start, you miss a lot.

The Non-Productive Comedy Show features comedians from diverse backgrounds who have important/irrelevant/irreverent points of view on life, the universe, and everything. Each show has it’s own unique theme and features the aforementioned raffle where audience members can win quirky prizes of dubious value. This month’s theme is CONFLICT: Winter vs Spring, St Patrick vs Snakes, the Easter Rabbit vs Jesus, all of the classic conflicts of the Spring.

This month we are featuring:

Chelsea Moroski              Host of the Manifestshow Comedy and Variety show

Benel Germosen              The Creek and the Cave, host of Otakulyspe

Ritu Chandra                      Stress Factory, Gotham Comedy Club

Daniel J Perafan                                Laughing Devil Contest

And our headliner
KC Aurora                            LAUGHS TV show on FOX, Seeso TV

As always the show will be hosted by John Minus and produced by Frank Hablawi of

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Night at South of the Border

"I’m not going to do it."

"Oh come on. Let’s just check and see…"

"No, I’m NOT going to do it. Not this time."

"Babe come oooooooonnn."

"No way in Hell. I’m not going back to that place. I barely escaped with my mind intact last time. Also, it’s 4am. Nothing will be open."

"Fine. We’ll just play another game. I’ll ask you several uncomfortable questions about your bowl movements, and then you have to ask me…”

"FINE. Fine. We’ll go. We’ll go to your stupid Tchotchke Hell. May God have mercy on our souls.”
Jules took a deep breath and sighed before pulling off of I-95 onto the exit for his least favorite place on Earth. I present to you:

By John Minus

                Jules hated South of the Border. It was a neon soaked tacky oasis of a roadside attraction, a monument to everything that was tasteless and wrong about America. Jules considered himself to be a rather dazzling person with stylish and expensive tastes. This place was anathema to him; not only was he a fish out of water here, he was a fish in outer space.
                For Laverne however, this was right up her alley. Useless, poorly made trinkets were her bread and butter, her raison d’etre. South of the Border was the Mecca of Meaningless, the El Dorado of doohickeys. She looked upon South of the Boarder the same way Indian Jones looked on the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, with an air of awe and reverence.
                Normally two people with such diametrically opposed views on a place would never be able to coexist in harmony there, and this was no exception. Jules knew he would not know a moment of peace until they visited this den of camp and vaguely racist Mexican imagery. As he pulled their Range Rover into the parking lot, his senses were immediately assaulted by the awfulness of his surroundings. There was indeed neon everywhere, and it gave the entire facility a dull red luminous pallor that made Jules shudder to think what this place would look like in the daytime.
                South of the Border is a loose association of badly disarranged buildings billed as a resort rest stop; it was what Disneyland would look like if it was designed in a PCP-induced manic state and funded with welfare money and food stamps. All in all, it was not the preferred destination for someone who was used to hanging out in New York City nightclubs.
                Laverne on the other had spent much of her time in 4-star hotels but found this place to be far more exciting. She loved the day-glo gauchos, gushed over the wiener dog statues that were, or course, a dachshund in a hot dog bun, and swooned over the anthropomorphic cacti. She was in her element, and that element was cheap plastic crap. Jules was hungry so they wandered into what seemed to be the only open eating establishment in the area, Pedro's Diner. It was just as charming as it sounded. He was never too picky about what he ate, so he ordered a couple of hot dogs, some fries, and a soda that he was unfamiliar with called “Seize.” Sounded exciting.
     "Verne, you want anything?" he asked. "Yeah, a cheeseburger and some seltzer water." Laverne was entranced by a coin operated vending machine that dispensed plastic jumping beans dressed like the Village People. She was prepared to spend any amount of quarters to collect all five.  Through some clever manipulation of the soda machine Jules managed to obtain some seltzer water. It was by far the healthiest substance available.
"Isn’t this place great? Simply sublime."
"Great? Like a great waste of time? A great waste of time and resources? Yes, yes it is."
"No I mean just great over all." Laverne was in a state of revelry comparable to the first time Dorothy saw the Emerald City. Everywhere she looked there were grotesque caricatures of Mexican culture saturated with a color scheme that looks like it was taken straight from one of Hunter S Thompson's cocaine-fueled nightmares.
"We should call this trip 'Fear and Loathing in South of the Border'" Jules said, feeling very pleased with himself.
"Oh yeah, Hunter S Thompson right?"
"You know Hunter? I'll be damned."
"Yes Jules, I do know things. I was able to operate and survive before you graced my life with your narcissistic omnipotence."
                "HEY I'M NOT... Oh you said omni-potence. Never mind. Verne, I know you know things, you know lots of things, but you’re completely ignorant when it comes to pop culture, we both know that."
                "Yes," she sighed, "I know. But one of the most infamous legends at Drogehaus is about him. Back in the 60's Drogehause hired Hunter S Thompson to do an Aspirin commercial since they’d heard that he had some of the most epic hangovers in American History. The commercial shoot was a disaster. He was drunk the whole time and kept inserting long, meandering rants about Richard Nixon and lizard people into his scenes.  So, they were selling children's aspirin and he would insist, on camera, that children's aspirin was directly to blame for the pathetic middle-class warlords that allowed the Vietnam War to happen. At some point he spiked the entire shoots water with mescaline and peyote. Three months later the crew returned, but they were not the same people who set out into that Costa Rican jungle. It ended up marking the Golden Age of marketing creativity at Drogehaus, but none of their could be used in any campaigns as there was way too much nudity for an American audience. Sold great in Europe though.
Jules nodded attentively. "That. Is a helluva story."
"Yeah. I tell great stories all the time, you just don't listen."
Usually her stories about working in marketing at international pharmaceutical giant Drogehause bored him to tears, and he only listened out of duty and the responsibility to be interested in his girlfriend’s work life. But this, this was different. He was enraptured. As the words poured out of her mouth he could see and feel what was happening as if he'd been there. He drank another mouthful of Seize and suggested that they hit the stores before they closed.
Come now Verne, we mustn’t be late. Fame and fortune awaits us in Atlanta, and we can’t dawdle here all night.” Laverne was way ahead of him. She had finished her food and moved across the parking lot with dreamlike speed to Mexico Show West. As they approached the main curio store every sense was assaulted by some new insult to good taste, like what FAO Schwartz would be like if run by Peggy Bundy. Everywhere there were piles, piles of unidentifiable nothings that no sane person would ever put in their home. Fortunately for The Great Pedro, South of the Border was often frequented by no sane person, a demographic Laverne definitely embodied.
Jules! Babe look! It’s a cat wearing a sombrero and drinking tequila from its catty bowl!”
Catty bowl?”
Yes, you know… the bowl a cat drinks from.”
I think it’s more commonly known as a water bowl Verne.” Jules took another large swig of Seize. It didn’t taste like much more than lemon flavored antifreeze, but wow was he awake.
Whatever, it’s adorable.” She had a cart now, and was flying between the aisles, a blur of manic trashistic consumerism. Jules was glad they didn’t have pink flamingos; in his head he counted how many it would take to fill his truck. He saw them squawking and fighting over some piece of bread Laverne was tossing into the back seat. He saw them biting and clawing at him until they finally drove off of a cliff; his last moments spent fighting the avian version of Johnny Weir.
WHAT?!?” Jules snapped out of his reverie to see Laverne draped in a poncho and sombrero, with a bandolier over each shoulder, each little pocket stuffed with a tiny plastic taco instead of a bullet. “This is amazing. Look at all this treasure!” A bright orange what he assumed was Mexican mustache was perched precipitously on her upper lip. Her pockets were stuffed with chocolate candy cigars.
You look like you could be a statue outside.” Jules remarked. He was impressed at how clever his observation was. “Nailed it!”
If only. You could ever have this much style. Oh! Oh! Oh! CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS!” In a flash she was under the Christmas trees, gather up handfuls of tequila-shot tree ornaments.  Jules took another large mouthful of Seize. It was starting to taste better and better to him, and it seemed like he’d been drinking it for hours. He checked the time on his phone; apparently it had only been 10 minutes since they pulled into the parking lot. That was strange. What was stranger was the large Bald Eagle that glided low over his head. He looked towards the table were statues of Bald Eagles with an American Flag in one claw and a South of the Border shot glass in the other. The Eagle-in-flight dropped the shot glass on his head. It was full. Jules shrugged and made it not full.
He relaxed a little. This place wasn’t so bad. There were frogs wearing wizard hats and Dragons piled high in one dark corner of the store. What European dragons had to do with a Mexican themed souvenir store on the border of North and South Carolina was beyond him, but whatever. He shrugged and chugged some more Seize. It was really hitting him now. More Eagles left their perches, swooping down from the sky, hunting the many singing trout strategically placed in the impulse-buy area around the main register. The eagles soared away with their singing trout, carrying them off to meet their Democratic, American fate at the talons of Eagles that vaguely resembled Richard Nixon. He caught a glimpse of Laverne across the store. She looked smaller. And browner. And her mustache looked extra realistic. He thought this was probably worth investigating.
It was only 50 ft. between him and Laverne, but it felt like it took hours for him to reach her. By the time he got to where she was she was not, which he half expected but was also surprised by. He heard her voice, but it sounded muffled, as if she was yelling at him from behind a door or a thick glass window. Which she was.
Jules! Jules! I’m down here!”
Why do you sound Mexican?”
He still didn’t see her. “No, I’m really kind of enjoying this Mexican Laverne. Say ‘Badges! We don’t need no steenking badges!’” He was giddy.
Get me out of here you asshole.”
Truthfully he did not see her. He was distracted by a row of rainbow colored donkeys (wearing serape of course) doing the can-can dance. He was entranced. They had little mugs of Seize and were liberally sipping the probably toxic drink. He liberally sipped from his cup and all of a sudden there she was; a tiny Mexican Laverne in a South of the Border snow globe.
Well that’s just frickin adorable” he slurred, “A snow globe that looks like a Chicano version of my girlfriend. I should get it for her, it’ll be a hoot.”
I AM THE HOOT YOU IDIOT! THIS IS ME. I’m in the glass.”
Impossible. You’d be drowning.”
Laverne banged her head against the glass in exasperation. “Look around you! All of these people are different! We’ve been talking, and they all got here the same way I did; they were so engrossed by the wonders of Mexico West that they BECAME a treasure of Mexico West.”
Well that’s just stupid.” Snow globe Laverne was adorable, but he decided that he wouldn’t want her to stay this way forever.
You’re tiny, which will make sex difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.” Jules tapped on the glass of all of the snow globes to see if what she said was true. All of the people inside where garishly dressed, just like her, and the harder he tapped the more they shook. “It’s the Seize. You have to drink the Seize and you can see everything here for what it really is!”
Jules thought this sounded like a capitol idea. He hadn’t had any in three minutes. He opened his travel cup and took four great big swigs of Seize. It still seemed to be mostly full. “H-uh,” he thought, “that’s off.” When he looked up from his cup what he saw was even odder. Everything in the store was dancing, singing, moving. Rubber snakes slithered everywhere; cacti played vihuelas, and small, snoring Pedro’s continued to be small and snore.
Oh no. No this isn’t right. I ate the wrong mushroom. I thought this place would be strange but not tiny water-breathing Verne strange.” The water breathing part is what really held his attention, far more than her shrinking and suddenly becoming a Mexican man.
The others, they say you have to use a sword and magic. That’s the only way you can defeat the dragon.”
Jules was convinced he’d lost his mind. But fuck it, he thought, its 5 am and my girlfriend’s in a snow globe. Also, swords and shields were the most accepted tools for exterminating dragons. “OK MEXICO SHOP WEST, YOU WANNA GET WEIRD?!?! LET’S GET WEIRD!” He searched frantically around the store for something that would help him fight A DRAGON. He doubted that this was a real thing, despite all he had experience so far because-why-would-oh-yeah-he-had-already-had-this-conversation and there was most definitely a …”
Jules’s inner monologue was cut off by the jet of searing flame that just missed melting his head from his shoulders. He crouched behind a nutcrackers shaped like obese women on house robes. “Why are you here? What do you have to do with Mexico?”
I’ve been displaced you see”, said the dragon which curiously enough sounded exactly like David Tennant. “Now if you’ll kindly die I can get back to my nap.”
Jules frantically searched for a useless piece of ceramic crap that could save his life. Eventually he found some Pedro’s in karate gi’s sparring in the corner. He asked a battalion of animated water guns to cover him and, to his surprise, they did.
Hi Pedro’s, look, I’m in a ridiculous fucking situation and I need your help. Can I borrow a pair of your sparring gloves?”
Sure holmes, they said in ridiculously over–exaggerate Mexican accents. Joo tryeeng to save your girl right holmes?
Um yes. Yes I am.”
Then vaya con dias brother. There’s nothing stronger than true love. Not even that pendejo Dragon.”
Um thanks Ped… Pedros.”
In unison they answered “NO PROBLEMS HOLMES!”
So racist” he mumbled under his breath. As Jules walked back to where the dragon was, he couldn’t fit the tiny gloves on his fingers. He had a revelation and took another big swig of Seize.
Meanwhile Laverne couldn’t help but note the irony of her situation. If she was shopping, she’d buy her in an instant. She was, in fact, adorable. This situation wasn’t adorable though, and she thought hard on how to get out. Her neighbor to her immediate right was an insurance salesman from Dubuque who was on vacation with his mistress, who was in the globe to his immediate right.
How long have you been here?” Laverne asked Dale the salesman.
Two years. My, um, acquaintance didn’t want to come here… “ “NEVER WANTED TO STOP IN THIS HELLHOLE” she creamed from behind him. “Yes… she didn’t want to come in but I’d heard of this place and how could you pass up classic pieces of Americana like this for these prices?”
RIGHT!?!” Laverne exclaimed, “This stuff is found treasure! I don’t like becoming part of the treasure though. Jules better find us a way out of here. This is the third most ridiculous trap I’ve ever gotten stuck in”
Yeah. Number two was when I stuck in a snowbank off the main trail while snowboarding and couldn’t extricate myself without the use of a snowplow and some very understanding Park rangers. The first involved the Sears Tower. I’d rather not go into that one.”
Jules had the gloves on, and had transformed into some kind of Street Fighter. Ok., he thought, I think I’m getting the hang of this. He rounded the corner to where the dragon had somehow collected all of the snow globes. Including the one that Laverne was in.
HEY! Dragon Tennant! Drop the Pedro Laverne and step away!”
Look mate, you don’t want me to drop her, or any of them, because they’ll all die. Well to be honest I’m going to crush them all after I eat you, but I’ll do you a solid and kill you before you see them die.” The dragon struck out with cobra-like speed, nearly catching Jules off guard. He recovered and came around quickly, looking to bite Jules’s leg off at the knee. Jules had jumped to avoid the first attack, and since he saw that the second attack was coming in low, he did a hurricane kick, spinning and catching the dragon right in the temple. He then threw a fireball that connected with the dragon’s temple, causing stars to circle his head. (yeah apparently he could do that now).
Pedro-Jules-Ryu dashed across the room attacking Dragon Tennant before he could get his wits about him. He recovered faster than Jules thought possible though, and their two attacks, the dragon striking from above, Jules striking from below, met with a ferocious crack. Jules had landed a devastating right uppercut to the dragon’s jaw, shattering his scales; he then delivered a thunderous body blow with his left hand, driving all the breath and fire from the dragon’s lungs. He finished him off with a giant leaping right handed uppercut. SHIN, SHO-RYU-KEN. The dragon flew across the room, slamming into a giant pile of ceramic sombrero ashtrays. As he passed out he turned back into the dragon paper weight he had been when they entered.
All the snow globes shattered and the people inside were freed. Jules rushed over and hugged Laverne tightly. “Oh Verne, don’t you ever get caught in this kind of stupidity again, and this is the third worst trap I’ve had to save you from. I mean, do you remember the Sears…”
YES I REMEMBER. But thank you. She gave him a tender kiss which he gladly returned.”
Ok let’s get the hell outta here Verne. I have all the roadside distraction I can take for one lifetime.”
As they said this Dale stepped outside and was immediately gored by a massive ceramic bull. Jules and Laverne looked around and all of the animal statues on the premises had come alive, and were chasing the other poor victims around the parking lot. Between our heroes and their car was a bear, a flock of plastic pink flamingos (I knew it, Jules muttered) and most heartbreaking of all, the giant red Weiner dog
Yes. Weiney. I named him.”
Well Weiney is gonna turn us into Wieney shit if we don’t do something.” Jules still had some Seize in him, so he was still in karate guy form. Laverne wouldn’t normally be able to fight her way through these monsters… unless…
Give me the Seize.”
What? No! What? I think this is pure liquid hallucinogens!”
Just give it to me.” Laverne pulled a small, ceramic mustachioed female Pedro Gymnast from her hemp purse. “I was going to save her from that place, but now she’s going to save us.” Laverne took her little Pedro Gymnast Sombrero, and stuck it into her hair. Instantly she turned into a world class gymnast.  “Ok let’s go kick some tacos.”
Pretty sure that’s racist too!” Jules yelled as he charged into battle. Laverne flipped, twirled and leapt into the crowd, single-handedly taking out all of the flamingos. Jules shattered the bear with huge fireball, and soon the only obstacle left between them and freedom was Weiney.
Not Weiney, I can’t destroy Weiney”
It’s ok Verne, I’ll deal with him, and you just get to the car.”
No. No.” she whispered.” I have to get a handle of my obsession with knickknacks, and this is as good a chance as I’ll get to literally face down my demons.” Weiney barked a high pitched bark and charged, his tiny Weiner dog legs flailing about. It was the cutest thing Laverne had ever seen. Still, as he went to head butt her she deftly leapt straight into the air, somersaulted three times, and came crashing down in the top of his head. A crack went down the length of his spine, and Weiney was no mar.
I know that was hard for you Verne”
No, she flashed her eyes at him, full of rage and sadness; “you will never know how hard that was. Weiney had the best puns, the best bumper stickers. And I killed him. Let’s get this trip over with.”
Jules and Laverne solemnly headed towards their car, Jules secretly picking up a piece of shattered Weiney on the way. It was the least he could do. Behind them came the shrieks and screams of the other captors they had never bothered to try and save.
The rumble of the car starting soothed them, until they realized that wasn’t the only rumbling hey felt.  Sara looked in the mirror and saw a giant “South of the Border” sign come swinging at them.
DRIVE, DRIVE NOW!” Jules saw what she was yelling about and barely got the car out of the way, losing a rear turn signal in the process.
NO ONE LEAVES SOUTH OF THE BOARD UNTIL PEDRO SAYS SO.” His giant neon frame glowed menacingly as the coming dawn crept towards them over the horizon. He pulled himself free from the ground and awkwardly ambled toward them, his sign ready to flatten them. Fortunately Laverne had one more trick in her bag; a Sombrero ashtray.
I know. But it was cute.” She slammed it down on the dashboard and the whole car began to change. It grew a giant black mustache, and the rumble of the engine sounded more like a snore.”
Put him down Jules. Put that giant sleepy literally walking stereotype down.”
Say no more.” Jules did a K-turn floored it, and with the power of the sombrero shattered Pedro’s left leg, sending him flying to the ground forever. Or until they rebuild him, he’s just made of neon lights and cheap steel; it won’t really be that big of a project. But for the immediate future the threat was over.
Hey I wonder what happened to all those other people,” Laverne asked.
I dunno,” Jules answered. “Wanna get breakfast? I think there’s a Hardee’s around here somewhere.”
No that’s OK. Hey, can we not stop until we get to Atlanta babe?”
Sure thing Verne.”
We don’t stop unless I have to pee.”
What do you mean nope?”
Okay fine. Just to pee. But I keep your credit cards the rest of the trip.”
Laverne smiled a little smile to herself. She didn't have to go back to SotB ever again. She peaked in her bag and a tiny little Pedro smiled back at her.
We'll be together forever!”
Nothing babe, just saying we'll be together forever.”

Aww, that's sweet Verne.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I'm in this! Witness the shame of stand-up comedy's original sin!