A Passing Fancy

Pass- a simple word with so many uses that it’s a shame to pass it up.

There is pass on and pass away- I think they mean the same. A person passes on while passing away the time. And a person who passes out could end up passing away for good.

A person passes over but not necessarily for religious reasons. If truly in need, he can pass his hat. And for a different type of need, he can always make a pass.

A quarterback expects his receiver to catch and hold the pass but the guy who passes gas better be passing through.

On the other hand, the passive fellow defers to the passionate one.

A password to let one in more often now a numeric pass code, too.

A motorist who avoids stopping at toll booths uses a mobile pass while the traveler who goes from country to country carries with a passport. Unless, of course, he is lost and must use a compass point.

In foxholes, it’s pass the ammunition. At dinner tables, it’s pass the ketchup.

In chess, the cry is “en passant!” In Monopoly, it’s “gimme my 200 bucks! as ‘GO’ my token has passed”

But for all those who find this ditty arguably passable, remember- this too shall pass.

Pride and Prejudice

Almost thirty years ago Stanley was thirty pounds lighter and better able to get away with doing things than he can now. This included squeezing through a turnstile at the top of a set of stairs on an elevated transit train platform in the Chicago Loop without paying the fare. Mind you, in 1982, it cost two quarters to make the turnstile roll. Being in his very early twenties, Stanley figured that it was no harm to cheat a little if he could.

He got away with it more often than he could count except for that one time when he was accompanied by a co-worker from the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office. It also helps to mention that his co-worker friend Otis had a permanent tan which was one social strike against him to no fault of his own.

The moment that the two of them made it to the El platform, a little burly fellow about 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing 180 lbs came rushing out of nowhere and tackled Otis. At first, Stanley thought it was a racist thug who had too much to drink. However, within a minute, the little guy was putting handcuffs on Otis while another plainclothes officer came forward to assist dragging the poor fellow back down the stairs to a waiting squad car.
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As You Like It

Grammarians aren’t happy when we confuse the word ‘like’ with ‘as’. No, they don’t like it at all- or should I say they don’t ‘as’ it?

Today, the word ”like” has become synonymous with the Facebook website. It is a simple link identifier for expressing pleasure with someone’s presentation on their Facebook wall or to even an external site that links back to it. Most website score-keeping used to be a matter of clicking YES or NO. Facebook decided that it was bad manners for visitors to take an extremist position. The new opportunity for expression has become LIKE. To be fair, they give the visitor a chance to change his or her mind and take it all back by clicking UNLIKE.
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You Gotta Be Crazy to Go See a Psychiatrist

People who think they need a psychiatrist are nuts. I cannot count the number of times where I’ve read or heard about a famous actor who feels that by going through sessions on a couch it helps him get through life as a better performer and/or human being.

Those of you who swear by the “can’t we all get along?” approach to life will immediately express disapproval at the above statement. Yes, I am aware that there is a difference between a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst as well as a psychologist.

I also understand that the do-gooders in the judicial system think that by sending a habitual criminal to see a therapist that it is either going to cure the jerk or help the authorities understand what makes a person violent so that they can prevent others from doing so. And then there are the guys who break into computer systems, spend time in the clink and go on to a lucrative career helping Big Business deter others from breaking into their computer systems.

Going to a psychoanalyst is like pouring gasoline into a fire. Anyone can call themselves one. A psychoanalyst may not always be a licensed medical doctor so he or she may not be in a position to dispense a drug prescription when it is truly necessary. The shrink also tends to develop a tight relationship with the patient and insist on seeing them more than once a week whether the patient needs a holding hand or not. Especially if the therapist’s bank account needs love and affection.

Nor does a psychologist dispense medicine but deals with non-clinical and emotional issues. He or she is there to be a professional listening post when there is no one else you can talk to.

Our high school had two guidance counselors. The one that I preferred to use was a lady who was just a little older than Ma and treated me as if I was one of her own as well. I was able to say things to her that I could not to Ma. The other counselor was older and had seniority. It was his job to give us a kick in the rear in order to get us to think about college seriously. Everyone at my school went on to college.

Except that he did a lousy job for our graduating class. He screwed up the date for taking the ACT exam. We ended up getting two days notice to sign up and take the test.

I went to a guidance counselor while attending college to help figure out what major I wanted to take. The fellow also had a framed diploma on the wall stating that he was a psychologist who earned the respect of being called Doctor. I enjoyed writing back then as much as now and would visit him once a week. I’d bring with my latest written attempts at fiction. After a while it dawned on him that I wasn’t really interested in having him help me declare a major but that I wanted an adult to pay attention to me and not laugh at my writing. He had no interest in nurturing whatever talent I possessed. He was just a guy who punched a clock and filled out reports that let the University administration see how good he was at helping eighteen and nineteen year olds decide what curriculum to take.

After a couple of months of our interaction he threw me out of his office and told me to stop visiting and to “grow up”. So, I declared my major in English and stopped trusting grownups, those over the age of twenty-five, for a few years until I joined the ranks.

None of my siblings nor my parents ever visited a psycho-whatever, at least that I am aware of. You know, they say you are what you eat. Well, everyone in my family likes to eat nuts of all types. But, we’ll keep that a secret, okay?

Humor is a Serious Business

By Larry Teren


There is a time to work and a time to play. A time to eat and a time to sleep. A time to watch and a time to read. A picture says a thousand words and a good book conjures up a thousand pictures in the mind.    Continue reading “Humor is a Serious Business”

Idioms For Idiots

Why do we “beat around the bush” to say what we really want to say? For example, instead of coming right out and admitting a hesitancy, we say we have “cold feet” or we “can’t pull the trigger.” Well, does pulling a trigger warm up the feet? Of course not. I’ve never heard of anyone on the recipient end of a gunshot stating that his feet all of a sudden feels warmer. And the person who does the shooting doesn’t a hot foot. Now, if someone should give a guy carrying a pistol a hot foot, maybe he would be inclined to pull the trigger. But does his failure to pull that trigger means he has cold feet?
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Fooled Me

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” When I first learned this Shakespearean sonnet in college I presumed he wrote it to impress a lady. Sorry- not so.

He wrote it and other sonnets for a man. It’s not what you think. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Right, Jerry and George?) Good old Will was presumably a straight shooter. He was being paid to write nice things about his patrician, the patron of the arts who financed Will’s lifestyle.
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Midnight Express

Did you ever spend a night in jail in Bulgaria with two high-stepping Commie soldiers pointing AK-47 rifles at you? My brother Gary who prefers to be called Terry did.

In the late 1980’s he and Mark, a good friend, were in an overseas student exchange program. They decided to take the Orient Express train from Vienna, Austria to Istanbul, Turkey while on semester break. They boarded the train not thinking they would need a visa to pass through Bulgaria which was part of the Soviet Bloc at that time. They believed that as long as they were on the train everything would be fine. Except, the local KGB didn’t agree. Once the train stopped at the Communist depot, several soldiers boarded and just as in all those old spy movies, the uniformed and armed men started going from seat to seat checking papers. Gary/Terry naturally had his American passport but did not have a visa to enter into a Soviet country. He and his buddy Mark were summarily taken off the train, their passports confiscated and the boys were put in jail.
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Why Me?

Could you live without the Internet? It would mean that instead of checking the news and sports any time of the day or night you would have to listen to the radio or watch television or read the newspaper.
It would mean that instead of typing into a search engine the name of a movie star or film title to find out more detail, you would have to ask another live human being what they know about the subject or worse, go to the library and find out for yourself.

Last week Monday evening after 9pm and having finished a remote connection session into a client’s computer system, the dsl modem went beserk. At first, it teased me by showing all steady green lights on the control panel. After unplugging the little black rectangular box and reconnecting it and also rebooting the computer, the modem would play a further game of cat and mouse. The power light stayed steady. The ethernet indicator showed that there was nothing wrong with the network card on the computer. It was that doggone red dsl light that kept flashing and mocking me.
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The End is a Good Beginning

According to the new rules of etiquette when someone wants to tell you the ending to a movie that you haven’t seen yet, don’t stop them. Let them. They’re doing you a favor even if it is a must-see film.

Hey, don’t tell me I’m wrong. I’m only suggesting what so-called Internet experts say is the best way to communicate. That is- get to the point right away and work your way backwards. If writing is your bag, put something down on paper that draws interest and then the reader will hopefully be hooked and continue to read. Internet experts say that a visitor abandons a blog very quickly if it starts with “Once upon a time … “. For example, if I had started telling you the story of the effort to save Private Ryan and not got to the ironic twist of fate until the very end, you’d be thinking “wake me up when the bore is done. I don’t need to listen to a story of soldiers going through enemy territory. I’ve seen it so many times before”. If you don’t already know about this 1998 World War Two movie, Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks) saves Private Ryan from being captured or killed by the Nazis. Just when you think all ends happily, Miller is shot, sits on the escape bridge stunned and in shock knowing that he has been hit and slowly bleeds to death.
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