Davins Comedy Blog

Us and Them - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

I recently had a conversation with a young man, just turned 19, about politics and race, that turned some of my preconceived notions on their head – and not for the better.

This young man, whom I will call Alberto, was born in Central America, and became a naturalized citizen.  His mother came to the United States illegally, as many have done, by crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. She found work and eventually opened her own business, married, and afterwards brought her young children to the U.S. from their grandmother’s home in Central America.

Now that Alberto has grown up in the United States, and he and his brothers have become naturalized citizens, he completely considers himself American.  This is normal, as he has spent most of his life here,  and the story of many immigrants that have come to America.  I am sure that my own family members came to think of themselves as proud Americans, rather than Germans or Irishmen, or what other various countries my people came from. What I was not expecting was to hear that Alberto now actively disliked people from his home country, and was also disparaging of Mexican people.

The conversation lead to the infamous Trump wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and I was shocked to hear him say how in favor of the wall he was.  I asked him if it even occurred to him that the border crossing his mother suffered through was what paved the way for him to ultimately become an American.  He stared at me blankly. I know that he’s barely out of his teens, but it disturbed me that he had come to the conclusion, in a nutshell, that “I got mine, you go get yours”.  He seemed to recognize the problems within his home country, but rather than have empathy for those still suffering, and feel for the people living in poverty in Mexico, he had become one of the privileged of America.

I don’t pretend to know the answer to the issue of illegal immigration into the country.  In the current climate of rampant terrorism, I am naïve enough to believe that we can have open borders in the sense that anyone should be able to immigrate without thorough vetting.  However, the fact remains that thousands stream into the country undocumented.  Building a wall at great cost to Americans doesn’t make sense to me, as long as there are ladders and shovels in the world.  Although I felt the need to mention this larger issue, it is not actually the crux of this discussion.

What surprised and dismayed me the most was the fact that a first-generation American was so willing to turn his back on his former countrymen.  There could be some bad experiences playing into his feelings about his home country, but to consistently speak of all of his brethren as “them” in a disparaging way, and to go so far as to say that he hated the people of other countries was so very disappointing.

I was pleased to see that he and his brothers had fully embraced life as Americans, but to see this particular young man become so xenophobic, without appreciating the irony of his situation as newly one of “us” to be able to disparage “them”, was indeed eye-opening.

WORKING OUT - by Davin Rosenblatt

I don’t like it one bit.  I don’t like feeling the burn.  I don’t like lifting heavy objects. Nope don’t like any of it.

However, I do know that if I don’t work out and just give into my worst impulses I could be the guy where they have to cut off the front of his house so he can leave his furnished tomb. That ain’t happening either.  I was fat for many years and then in high school I dieted. I drank water and ate salad and the weight melted off. All the sudden I had a girlfriend.  Through the years my weight has fluctuated.  In college I may have been in the best shape of my life as I lifted weights every day and still had a decent metabolism.  I didn’t mind lifting weights in college because I went with friends and I wanted to get laid so having a nice body seemed like a good way to help accomplish that.  I continued to work out pretty rigorously at various gyms by myself but then I moved away from where they were and I did not immediately find a new gym.

Since college I found my wife so to be fair being at optimal fighting weight lessened in a priority. Still I have tried to keep some weight off.  I have done South Beach & Nutri System. Both times the weight came off. Both times it came back but a bit more. I am a member of a gym. I used to go by myself and work out but I found it boring and the gym a bit too far. Really those are excuses and I am aware.  I have ridden my bicycle which I enjoy but where we live it is very mountainous and there are not a lot of safe places to ride without getting hit by a car.  When the weather is nice I walk the hills in my complex for about 40 minutes. I do not mind it because I listen to music. Still it does not burn the calories necessary to lose weight. Though when I stop the weight rapidly climbs.  I am still a member of a gym. I don’t think I have been there in three years. I pay $20 a month for the privilege of telling people I belong to a gym. It is ridiculous. I am aware. 

I am not playing softball and volley ball like I once did. I enjoy playing sports and being active when there is a goal other than losing weight. The goal of winning distracts me from the task of shedding pounds.  You would think I would be winning by shedding the pounds but my brain can’t seem to wrap itself around that concept. 

Still I eventually get to a point every several years where I go enough is enough. It is time to be a little more proactive and lose some weight. There is only so much tightening of the pants one can stand and going up in waist size is not on the table.

I think my wife gets the same way as eventually she wants to start a program. This time her motivation is a weekend coming up with her best friend who is in great shape I am told. I get it. We want people to see us at our best even though they should love us at our worst. 

With that in mind we started this program called 21 Day Fix by Beach Body hosted by a celebrity fitness instructor named Autumn Calabrese. She is in great shape obviously.  Most of the people training with her are in great shape. They have one person who is not in shape doing the program as well.  I think that is to say hey even you fat ass can do it if she can.  I get it. Not a bad tactic.

Obviously Autumn is a peppy lass. The program has you constantly moving for 30 minutes straight. It is a combination of cardio and weight training.  I am glad when the 30 minutes is over but I am also glad that I did them however I do not look forward to doing them again. I will do them again of course.  At the end of the work out Autumn starts pushing the shakes that are part of the work out program. They cost $100 a month. That is expensive. Then again a shake at McDonalds every day of the month would probably cost me about the same.  Autumn says she may put some banana in her shake for fun.  No Autumn bananas are not fun.  If was ripped like the people in the video fun would not be a banana. Fun would be private jets, champagne, cocaine, and hookers. That would be fun. That would be my reward for working hard to look great. If my idea of fun is a banana then I may as well be a 500 pound shut in. Ooooo I’m not leaving my house I should have some extra potassium. Produce is not motivating my ass Autumn. At the end of the thirty minutes I don’t want a banana. I want the girls from a Motley Crue video to strip dance their way onto that yoga mat Autumn. I want a promise that if I just push a little more. If I can just get that 6 pack that those girls are coming over to my house and will use me as a human jungle gym. That’s fun Autumn! That type of motivation will get me to bench press a Buick Autumn!

Let’s be honest, most of us are trying to look better so other people find us more attractive. That is the motivation.  If it was hottt to sit around and look like a tub of goo most of us would do that. We would shove gallons of ice cream down our gullet in the quest to become so gelatinous and sexy that the opposite sex would melt at our sight as we melted into the lazy boy lounger.  So a banana is not fun. Working out is not fun.  Eating right is not fun. Watching the opposite sex drool when you bend over to pick up a pencil is freaken amazing. Now excuse me while I have some kale and do some jumping jacks.  I look forward to your drool.

Unpredictable - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

This evening, I was driving home on a highway that is separated by a thick, wooded median, with wooded areas on either side of the highway, and traffic was moving along at a decent clip. As I came around the small bend in the road, I suddenly saw the brake lights, and the strange, cautious driving in both lanes ahead of me.  The story of the slow-down soon began to unfold, as I saw the cars were attempting to avoid the splintered bits of glass and car debris in the inner “fast” lane.  Traffic crawled for a moment, and I saw the dead deer on the grassy shoulder, and then two cars, one on the inner shoulder and one on the outer.  As the cars crept past the car on the right, I saw that the headlight and grill was smashed inward on the driver’s front, but not so badly that it seemed to affect the driver’s space.  Still, it was a relief to see someone moving around inside the car.

My first reaction was to pull over in front of the damaged car and see if the driver was ok.  I put my hazard lights on and cautiously made my way over to the car behind me.  The man was then standing in front of his car, blankly looking at the smashed in grill, obviously in shock.  I asked him if he was okay.  He said he was, and his first question to me was whether the deer was okay.  By now, a woman had made her way across the highway, and she told him that the deer was dead.  He made no comment, but a stricken look passed over his face.  I asked if the woman was ok, and she said that she just narrowly missed being in the accident, but that she was fine. I asked them both if the police had been called, and he asked me if I thought that he should do that.  I said that he should, and volunteered to take care of it for him. 

After I contacted the police and gave them the location,  I turned back just in time to see the woman, who apparently had crossed the highway back to her car, yelling at a car that sounded like it had just stopped short of hitting her.  Oh wow, I thought, we nearly had a worse situation.  I looked for the man, and saw that he was walking down the highway, still on the phone.  Did he go to see the deer?  I couldn’t tell what he was up to, but I was afraid to leave him there alone, as shaken as he seemed to be.  Was he doing something irrational?  Why was he crossing the highway, and searching the brush on the other side of the guard rail?  I noted that the other woman had left, so there was no one to consult. 

Soon, it became apparent that he was searching for the missing part of the front of his car, and he was coming back towards the car with some of the grill.  I don’t know if it was worth saving, but at least that made some sense. 

I don’t blame the man for being shaken.  Within the same week, on the same exact stretch of road, I had nearly hit a deer that was bolting across a clearing on a direct collision course with my car.  Had he not veered as I stomped on my brakes, I would have been in the same shape as this poor guy, or worse.  It took me and my husband a while to calm down after that narrow escape, and we hadn’t even made contact.  I have been in a few too many car accidents, and I recognized the shape he was in.  Was he my problem?  No, but I was not going to leave him at that point, at least not until the police showed up to take over. One thing that everyone can do in situations like this, that I hope they will do, is to take care of others when they are vulnerable and in need of help.

The deer population in our area is on the rise, and over-development of once-huge tracts of wooded area has forced them out into the suburbs, streets and parks.  When I was a child in this area, I think I may have spotted a deer once or twice a year, and only when I was in the woods.  Now, I rarely have a day when I don’t see one, if not many.  And not from a distance, in the woods, but a few feet away in my own yard, crossing the streets as I drive to work, or grazing on the sides of the highways, only a few feet from the rushing cars.

 People are of two minds about the increase in our communion with deer:  They either think they are beautiful and feel sorry for how much we’ve encroached on their habitat, or they are angry that they are plentiful enough to pose danger in the form of Lyme disease via ticks, or physical harm or even death via car crashes. I understand both viewpoints very well.  One thing is for certain, and that is deer are anxious, unpredictable creatures prone to surprising burst of activity and hair-raising, unannounced changes in course.

If you like deer, and tend to argue in their favor, all you can see is their impressive size, and make excuses for any of their undesirable behavior, as it affects humans.  They are beautiful, and I do respect that their nature makes them behave in ways that may be incomprehensible to me, but which are completely reasonable and admirable to the deer themselves, and to their supporters.

However, their seemingly irrational and unpredictable behavior can make them dangerous.  The danger is obvious to the individual with the smashed car, and the child with Lyme disease from a deer tick bite.  The problem is that the danger also has a ripple effect.  One bizarre dash across the highway by a wreckless deer causes a car crash, a near-miss of a human almost being hit by another car, the potential of other cars crashing into one another in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and so on.

 Humans depend on a certain amount of factors to remain constant in order for safe car travel to be possible.  There are laws and social conventions which make the potential chaos of traffic become a well-oiled machine (most of the time).  It is frightening to know that this one rogue deer, this one unpredictable and wild creature, could make moves that can affect so many, without the will or the ability to consider the ramifications of its actions in the moment, and in the future. But what can be done to guard against the negative effect of a deer running chaotically into the river of traffic?  One thing we can do is try to support one another, try to minimize the damage done.  Help out someone who is adversely affected by the deer, even if it isn’t affecting you directly. We can fight back by using all of the tools at our command to keep the deer population at bay, and minimize the potential damage that a wild-eyed, unpredictable deer can inflict.  We can co-exist as we drive by and see them grazing on the side of the road – but never take your eyes off of them, and protect yourself as best as you can.

DOCUMENTATION - By Davin Rosenblatt

In American political life we are once again being reminded of the importance of documenting things so that you can go back to the notes when things get a little weird.  Former FBI director James Comey was known for taking notes or memos.  He would make these to document when things were out of the ordinary.  FBI notes have been admissible in court and are highly regarded.   Comey took notes on meetings with President Trump.  He noted the conversation where Trump, without anybody else in the room, asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.  These memos are now just another scandal for the Trump administration. Long after Comey was fired and out of power his documentation could possibly set the record straight in a way his former boss never imagined.  A nation waits for that documentation.

I long ago valued the importance of documentation.  When I took a part time job as a waiter at a restaurant my boss did not pay me while I was training.  That was against state law.  I quit but I also was going to demand I got paid for the work I had done.  I did not know how unscrupulous this owner was going to be so I brought a tape recorder in with me and hid it in my pocket when I went in to confront him. When faced with state law he agreed to pay me. The recording was never needed but I did see the value in having it.

When I first started booking comedy shows I did not use a contract.  I was young and naïve. A contract is documentation on the terms of the agreement.  Well after not getting paid for a job once I never made that mistake again.  Every show I do has a contract and on a few occasions it has won me court cases.

It is so much easier to document things now with better and cheaper technology. Everything has a recording device in it and video recorders are cheap.  Even more and more police are using body cams which is documentation.

Good scammers use documentation. They keep notes on what their victims say.  I keep notes when I talk to scammers. I keep better notes then they do and I get to trip them up on their own words. It is quite enjoyable to watch a scammer hang by the noose they created.

Just recently somebody who I had thought was a friend tried to hurt my career.  I had been warned about this person but I give everybody a chance.  I posted something on Facebook. (I discussed what I posted on the radio show a few weeks ago).  She took offense to it and thought it was directed at her.  She asked me about it in a private message.  She kept on insisting I was angry. I was not and told her as much.  I thought we had solved the issue. I was mistaken as she blocked me mid-conversation. Ok, I figured end of that relationship. Unfortunate but it was her choice and I was fine with it.  Today I find out that she is lying to other people in the industry about what my initial post was and the conversation we had.  It was potentially costing me work.  Fortunately, I have the documentation of what I originally posted and the conversation we had.  I called up the people that I knew had heard the lies from her.  They were relying on hearsay. I had the evidence if it was needed.  We had a discussion and the air was cleared.  We are all fine. The woman that started this mess? Well she will never work for me again.  She is no longer working with the club she was partnering with.  She never was working for the other booker.  She wound up hurting herself.  As for me, I never really worried because I had the documentation to back up my story. Documentation always has your back!

Smart Aleck Curse - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

When I was born, the gypsy mid-wife took one look at me and declared that I would be full of Smart Aleck for the rest of my life.  Once the curse was placed upon me, my life story was basically written.

There is a good side to the Smart Aleck Curse, in that many people enjoy a side of snark with their meal of life’s little indignities and tribulations.  It certainly has been a social lubricant in some respects, and I do enjoy making people laugh, even if it’s the kind of laugh that says, “Oh my god, that is so bad. I’m not sure I should be laughing at that, but I kind of can’t help myself.”  I’ve made a lot of friends who enjoy my company because I’m funny, and once they get to know me, they can tell that the snark is never meant to hurt them. 
At least, I hope that they all know that!  It’s crucial to make sure that the naughty or acid tongue doesn’t wound anyone too deeply, or you friendships corrode.  It’s not always the easiest tightrope to walk.

The other part of the Smart Aleck Curse is that once afflicted, it is difficult if not impossible to wield the Snark on unsuspecting strangers, to varied results.  I have suffered the bewildered or wilting looks of many people in the service industry, because I just.can’t.keep.my.mouth.shut.  How I wish that the impulse to say something dumb would be squashed when I see someone behind a counter.  I try to remember to start out pleasant, smile, say please and thank you, and then…the stupid remark sneaks into my brain.  “No, stupid comment, you may not come out and play,” I say to myself, but it is bursting to get out, like a forgotten fermented jug of apple cider in the pantry.  And…the interaction turns weird.  They either laugh (thank the gods) or they immediately decide that I am a special kind of asshole, and go fetch a supervisor.  Damn.  It was going so well up until now.

A short compendium of snark and stupidity that made me into special kind of asshole:

In college, making a joking remark to an older professor about how whatever we were talking about and how her husband might respond to her if she said thus and such.  Moments after it was out of my mouth, I realized that she and a good portion of the class were staring at me aghast.  It turned out that most of the class knew that her husband was deceased, something I didn’t know until that ghastly moment.  Picture me sliding slowly under my desk, into the hole in the floor, and straight to hell.  I endured a heart-to-heart discussion with her at a later date regarding not following what she perceived to be a classmate’s bad influence, but the truth is, that was all me.  All Smart Aleck Curse.

Anyone who listens to the show knows that I am an especially obsessed Steve Winwood fan, and that adulation spills over to his very talented touring band.  Paul Booth, who just about plays everything but drums during the course of one of their concerts, is a great jazz horn player, and an all around good guy with a great sense of humor.  He understands my sense of humor, and is the best sport about teasing humor.  My friend and I were lucky enough to be told about a very small, hastily organized show that he was playing in New York, featuring members of Steve Winwood’s band and members of Rod Stewart’s band (who Steve was touring with).  My friend, who is another Winwood fan extraordinaire, and I were very excited, and amazed to be in the presence of so many talented musicians and their pals.  Almost everyone in the room was involved in the tour in some way, except for me and my friend.  Carried away by excitement, I saw Paul preparing his saxophone for the show right in front of the tiny stage, and I called to him, a few feet away, “Hey Paul!  Try not to suck!”  As soon as it was out of my mouth, I read his expression to mean that perhaps that kind of kidding was okay when we were standing around joking, but not in front of all of his peers.  I cringed a little, and I’m sure my face went red.  Just then, a female member of Rod Stewart’s band who was sitting on the next bar stool looked me up and down with a cold, eastern block nation stare, and asked me in her thick accent, “Are you a super fan?”  I was not familiar with the term, but considering the timing, the delivery and the look on her face, I read it to be a euphemism for “Special Kind of Asshole”.  I was so flustered, I don’t remember what I answered, but in that moment, I think she was merely confirming my status. I mentally crawled out to the street, climbed into my Special Asshole Mobile, and drove away…even though my body stayed for the show.

A friend from college had an abortion, and it was a very tightly held secret, of which I was one of only perhaps four people who was privy to this information.  One night, a couple of people were joking around, and my friend joked that she was a virgin.  I came back with a phrase that my father had used many times as I was growing up, always in the context that someone was NOT a virgin.  Dad used to say,  “Not unless there is a star shining in the east!”  It wasn’t until the moment it was out of my mouth, and I saw the stricken look on my friend’s face, did I realize that the other connotation to that comment was that there was a pregnancy involved.  Certain that I had said it to make clear that there had been a pregnancy involved, she swiped back at me with lightening speed with a reference to something I was ashamed of.  No matter how much I apologized and explained later, I am certain that she never believed my innocent slip, nor did she forgive me.

I know that there are others of you cursed with the same affliction, and you will recognize yourselves in these stories, and feel my pain as you wince with the second-hand humiliation.  There are others of you that will think, “How could you say that stupid thing?”  Those of you asking that question were clearly not the ones chosen by the gypsy – not the ones with the sign of the Curse.  For the rest of you, my people, I will see you at the monthly meetings.

I Have to be Brief - by Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

WHY? I may have sold my house, we will see, as the propensity for things to go tits up as it has been pretty much a constant from the home for the disabled walking away from the deal to buy the house, ”now they can walk”, And then one buyer asking if someone died in the house which was my mom. What am I supposed to do have a séance? I know my Mom and she is going to yell why she can’t enjoy eternity in peace without my stupid questions.

Now the question is when the time comes where do I go? I only moved once when my parents moved us from Jamaica Estates in Queens to where I live now in Huntington when I was three. I have moved people, but I never moved myself kind of cool and embarrassing at the same time.

The best place for me is a condo but after living on an acre for decades I don’t know what it would be like with people right next to me. I am not a sociable person and have lived on a block where people keep to themselves so I am not really open to small talk and busy body questions.

I also have to find a place for my grand piano which was my mom’s which she got when she was a teenager. The piano has been a center piece for the family for years and years and is a family member so it will be fun to see when people see that thing come into a condo. Thinking I will be keeping them up at night playing it, but truth is it is just for memories sake as I have fourteen keyboards at my disposal.

One thing that must come with me is the mantel over the fireplace. It’s amazing how an object no matter how plain it is, is so special due to the memory connected with it. This mantel was a project that my Mom and I worked on together when I was twelve, we picked it out, we stained it together, and we installed it together and every time I see it brings me right back and this needs to come with me.

With the excitement of moving comes the sadness of leaving a lot of memories, some amazing, some traumatic and sad, but none the less my life has all been under that roof and to know it won’t be there any more is kind of scary.
Even though I have lived here so long I remember when I renovated it back in ninety three when the house made the change from my parents’ house to my house. I watched my childhood bedroom become my office, I watched my mom’s office become my music room. And me making all the changes I wanted. 

One factor and one that has been a running gag with family and friends is that since my father died we were always moving the next year with my Mom, and then when she died I never knew if I would be in the house the next year either. When I get my new place I am staying. I want the feeling that I will be there for a while. 

I think about my last day there and I honestly don’t know how I will handle it. Will I just close the door and leave? Will I be an emotional wreck? I don’t know. I do want two things, that last day I want an hour alone, to walk room to room, may be take some video to reflect what each room meant to me. Also on the last night I want to sleep in my office which as I said was my old childhood bedroom. That was where I slept the first night I was there at three and that’s the last place I want to sleep all these years later as a man who rose to become one under this roof.


Back to Scamming Scammers - By Davin Rosenblatt

Well it looks like I am back at it. It has been a few years since I scammed a scammer. I have never looked for scammers to scam.  They have always found me but most of the time I just ignore them. 
I found this “girl” in my Other box on Facebook. She sent me a friend request which I ignored but then later she sent me a message with my name. She went the extra mile so I figured I would give her the attention she deserves.

In the past I have spent hours at a time scamming a scammer. It became all-encompassing and time consuming. It was in some ways like I was in a real relationship. I will not allow that to happen this time.  When you spend so much time with somebody even if it is based on complete BS you can still become attached. That will not happen either this time.

I also must fight the urge to be too cynical. I know their tricks. I am unimpressed and quite frankly, lazy scamming bores me. I can’t just call them out and tell them they are awful at this. It ruins the scam and they will run and worse yet they could learn from it. I have to pretend that it is all so new to me.  I think that is the hardest part for me. I have dealt with good scammers. They make me raise my game and educate me. Bad scammers are a dime a dozen and I find them a little insulting to my intelligence.

There is no interview process when dealing with a new scammer. You get what you are given and work with what they give you. They don’t know that I have other intentions for them. They don’t know that I need to craft their business practices into entertainment for a radio show. It would probably be easier if they did know.

The good thing is I know how they groom people. I know what they need. I will use that knowledge against them and try and make sure this is the hardest grooming process they have ever gone through.
I never know how this will play out. I have no idea how long I can keep them going without sending them anything. I need to get them so far invested that to cut ties quickly would be against their best interests. It is a balancing act and it will be coming to your radio on Tuesday nights on Davin’s Den very soon.

Wish me luck!

Bless You - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

Why do we continue to bless people when they sneeze?  It’s really a strange custom, and people never seem to think about it. 

Of the list of uncontrollable bodily functions, it can rank pretty high on the annoying scale.  Blinking, for example, is also out of our control, and is only annoying if someone does it to excess, without a normal rhythm, or does it way too slowly, like a stoner.  Most of the time, however, we don’t even notice when someone is doing it.  (And now that I’ve mentioned it, you are hyper-aware of how fast you are blinking, aren’t you? Sorry about that.)

Hiccups are also uncontrollable, but there is no phrase that you routinely say to someone with the hiccups, except for badgering the afflicted person with home remedies that never work.  “Drink a glass of sugar water!”  “Someone scare her!” “Hold your breath!”  How about just leave me the hell alone until they pass?  That doesn’t seem to be an option.  But in no case does anyone bless the person with the hiccups.  I guess you can just go to hell with your damn esophageal spasms.

Some people will argue that a burp is not uncontrollable.  Well, that is not exactly true.  You are able to control the presentation to a degree, like covering your mouth or trying to minimize the noise it makes, but you can’t completely stop it from happening.  If someone burps in our culture, it really depends on who is around as to what the reaction will be.  A full-on belch may be laughed at, scowled at, congratulated or scolded, depending on who dealt it and who witnessed it.  A two year old might be the cutest little belcher ever, but a 40 year old man is going to get the stink-eye from his wife if there is company.  Still, no one blesses the belchers.

Sneezing used to be thought of as a moment when one’s heart stopped, and people used to bless them so that their soul would be blessed just in case they didn’t come back from a particular sneeze.  Now that we know that heart stoppage isn’t the case, why do we continue to bless people?  Who even said that any of us has the authority to bless a soul before it passes on?  I still reflexively say, “Bless you” to a sneezer, but when you think about it, do you really want to go on to meet your maker with MY blessing being the last one bestowed upon you?  But socially, it is considered rude not to bless someone after a sneeze, so I just continue to say it, whether the person realizes what danger I may put their eternal soul into or not.

Next time you sneeze, I really hope, for your sake, that you are near someone with a little more authority.  I will issue you a blessing alright, but you just may not want it. 

Please By My House - By Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

It is now March and my house has been on the market since June of last year and I am at the end of my rope.

Since February of last year when I got separated, my main goal to get the house sold and from last year February until June I had worked tirelessly to prepare the house for sale and in June we put it up for sale.

Since I realized my marriage was over five years ago I was told that every next step to be taken would have to involve me which I have taken with some of these steps being rough and emotional. 
The one major step would be a buyer for the house, which is the most major step and the one that is out of my control.

If my Wife and I were still happily married it would not be that big of a deal, but we are separated and still living under the same roof living separate lives. It’s odd that the person who was the center of your life you barely know now and the reality will continue until the house is sold.

I heard if you buried a statue of St. Joseph it would help you sell the house quicker and everybody has their opinion on how to bury him.  I have tried every which way and no luck. I have not given up the faith and maybe if I stopped calling him St. Francis maybe he would help.

We did have people that were interested such as a home for the disabled, who strung us along for three months before they walked away a day before we were to go to contract, Bullshit, but at least I have a joke about disabled people walking away.

We had one person who wanted to buy the house and then wanted to knock it down. People asked me if I would be upset and I told them I would be the first person on the bulldozer when the check cleared.

We have had people that were scheduled to look at the house and never came. Do you know how frustrating it is to be at the library a mile from your own home sitting there while you are waiting for somebody that’s never coming?

Then there is having an open house and having no one show up, which my real estate agent says is because the taxes may be too high and maybe they should have been grieved, great, would have been good advice back in June.

It is very frustrating trying to move on with your life when you feel it’s stalled and the keys to it moving are from somebody you don’t even know yet. But with this everything else is going okay from the radio show, my two bands, and my comedy. I then look at people I know going through far worse things as battling a disease, being out of work, or losing a loved one, and I realize my situation as dire as it is, is a lot less worse than what other folks are going through. 

So if you if you are looking for a nice four bedroom home in a nice area please buy my house.

How to Write a Damn Check - by Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

It is truly disturbing to me to see, via my day program, that there is an unacceptable portion of the public that does not know how to write a check.   It may be a dying art, with the advent of electronic payment and debit cards, but there are still instances when being able to write a check is necessary.  And before I completely lose my sanity, by God, I am going to teach you how to do it.

First of all, parents should show their children how to properly write a check. It’s not taught in school, to the best of my knowledge, and it’s not intuitive.  If it was, I would not be sighing and rolling my eyes so hard that they are about to pop out of my head and roll down the day program hallway.  If the parents don’t know how to do it either, have them take this quick tutorial, and save me some money on my Tums budget.

First of all, pick up a blue or black pen.  Not red, not green, not purple, not marker, and for the love of God, nothing sparkly.  Blue or black.  Banks and companies hand them out for free, so go get one.  It’s not that difficult.  I’ll wait.

Back?  Good.  The reason you should use blue or black is because that is what is universally acceptable at all banking institutions, and because you don’t look like a grown up writing checks with your sparkly purple pen.  Stop that.  You can write notes, greeting cards, shopping lists, etc. with that crap, but for checks, use a grown up pen.  Can you just manage that please?  Also, not all check scanners can read your dumb third-grader choice of ink color, so it’s BLUE OR BLACK. And don’t even start me about writing checks in pencil.  Do not even start with that.  I can’t believe anyone thinks that is okay – and yet, I have seen it done.

Now that we have found the correct pen, let’s start on the actual check writing.  Let’s start with the date.  You always write TODAY’S DATE.  Not yesterday, the date it was actually due.  You are not fooling anyone with that crap, so knock it off.  Not tomorrow’s date, because that is called post-dating, and a lot of the time, the person you are writing the check to can’t accept a post-dated check.  Why, you whine?  Because the check is only payable on the date it is dated.  When you go to the grocery store, do you bag your groceries and then tell them that you will be back to pay them tomorrow, or next Thursday, or whatever?  No you do not, because you don’t want them hitting you over the head with the frozen rump roast you just tried to steal.  You have to pay them on the spot.  So, when you write a check, write the day the calendar says it is.  You are not going to make any kind of interest on the money you think you are going to hold onto for another day, because no one is making any interest on investments right now, anywhere.  Stop being a dope and PAY THE PERSON ALREADY.

Now that you have put today’s date on the check, we are at the easy part.  Write the name of the person you are paying on the payee line.  Just write their real name, not any cute nicknames, because “Lefty” can’t cash a check made out to “Lefty” when their I.D. says they are “Fred”.  Not even “Meg” when their real name is Margaret.  Think!  Use their real name!  If you aren’t sure how to make out the check, for crying out loud, ask.  ASK.  Or read the bill.  Bills usually tell you how to make the payment out.  If it is for the State of New York, for example, it might say, “Make check payable to Treasurer, State of New York”.  Just write that out.   Don’t write, “New York DMV” or whatever you think it might be.  Don’t try to be more clever than the damn instructions. 

Next, and you better sit down for this one, is the legal line of the check, where you write out the amount of the check in WORDS.  This seems to be the most challenging area by far for people, especially if they are writing a check for a relatively large amount, say, a couple thousand dollars.  Once they have that many numerical places to cover, all sense leaves their minds and stupidity sets up shop.  For some reason, with all that cash at stake, most people forget the hundredths position.  $4,353.63 becomes “Four Thousand and Fifty-Three, 63/100.”  I don’t know why this is, but it happens ALL.THE.DAMN.TIME.  Oh well, the person thinks – I got it right in the little box where you write the numbers.  WRONG.  Oh so wrong!  If the bank scans that check, and sees a discrepancy between the numbers and the words, the WORDS are what they go by.  That’s why it’s called the “legal line”.  So, you still owe someone $300 dollars, chump.

The other part that is interesting about the words portion of the check is that even when people know that they are writing a big number, they start to write in huge lettering, not even bothering to think if they will run out of room – which they always do.  Write smaller to fit it all in, folks.  Why is this hard?

You can save room by writing “Forty-three hundred” instead of “Four Thousand, Three Hundred”, but this revelation seems to blow peoples’ minds rather than be helpful, so you have to learn this trick for yourself.  Either write small, economize on the number of words, or just squish it all in there, but whatever you do, don’t whine to anyone that there isn’t enough room.  You’ve seen checks before, and you know how much you are paying.  Make room, dammit!  And you write out the pennies as a fraction, 63/100, or you say “…and sixty-three cents”.  No combinations of the two, no adding your own symbols or forgetting to write out the pennies at all. This is not a creative arts assignment.
Now, the dollar amount you write in the box.  (SIGH).  This should be easy.  It SHOULD be.  Apparently, it’s not.  First of all, you know how to write out numbers in a way that people universally should be able to tell what numbers they are, right?  Can you write them inside the box, and stay inside the lines, please?  Did you ever color as a kid?  Did you stay inside the lines?  Can you go buy a coloring book and practice, before making your way up to writing a check, PLEASE?  And practice your damn numbers? Don’t make me GUESS what amount you are paying.

Your signature.  Mother of God, this should be easy.  Please, just sign your legal name.  Don’t send people unsigned checks, trying to get away with not paying something for a few more days.  It is NOT a cute look.   And if that person is in the position of charging you a penalty for paying late, don’t think the old, “Oh dear, I didn’t sign it?  Can you imagine?” trick is fooling anyone.  Now you are going to pay a penalty, fool.

The memo line.  The line where you are supposed to write things that help the person who is getting your payment identify why the hell you are paying them.  An invoice number is great.  An account number – that helps.  A reference to a service, a date, something that will help them apply your payment.  Stupid notes to yourself, a blank line, or, the WORST of them all, complaints and nastiness, are not helpful.  Do you really think that the person applying your check to your account is the person who is going to do something about your bitterness?  Don’t think that “Paid in protest” or “Extortion” or some other stupid complaint on your check is doing anything.  The poor data-entry clerk probably hates their boss too, so all you have done is added more fuel to their bitterness, not further your cause.  Address your grievances in an adult, productive way.  It only makes you look stupid to the people who open the envelope and laugh at your impotent remarks.  Nobody bothers to show it to the person you are lashing out at.  NO ONE does this.  Workers are far too busy, and their boss will not appreciate them bringing negativity to their desk.  Write a damn letter if you are unhappy.  Your memo line is not the place to do it.  If you persist with this method, you may as well drop your complaints into a bottle and throw them into the East River, never to be seen again.
Last instruction.  When you find yourself with the uncontrollable urge to write all over the check, in every conceivable blank space, information that you think is helpful, like your phone number, your elaborate notes on what the payment is for, your dog’s license number, etc. – stop yourself.  You look like a mental patient with all that.  Knock it off.  Write a cover letter if you must get it all out of your system, but don’t plaster your check with hieroglyphics that only your neurotic mind can decipher.  It’s a check, it’s not graffiti art.

There. I hope that it’s been helpful to read this.  I hope that this will quell some of the more stupid inclinations that some people have when approaching writing a check.  Because if I keep seeing this frightening trend of people not being able to perform this simple task, I am going to have to start ripping checks up in a frenzy of misanthropic rage, and climb the building making monkey noises.  If everyone else is going to devolve, I am going to lead the charge.