Sunday, September 25, 2016

What happened to the Y? - by Michael Buzzelli

You may recall I injured my shin Labor Day weekend in the swimming pool. It’s recovering nicely. Thank you (I’m sure you would have asked if we were chatting).

It should have been a warning sign to keep out of the water. Last week, I was at the beach in Corolla, N.C. That’s when I sustained a new injury.

I was riding the waves and crashed. I went from bodysurfing to body slamming. A huge wave came and tried to murder me. It smashed me into the ground, sea floor or sandy bottom. Major ouch! I hit the shoulder first, tumbled upside down and hit my head, ass over tea kettle. Luckily, I did not hurt my thick skull.

They took X-rays of my head and found nothing. Ba-dum Tshh!

However, I wrecked my shoulder.

I didn’t break anything, but I’m walking around with my arm folded onto my chest like a chicken wing. When I reach for a cold beverage with my right hand, I don’t extend my arm past my elbow. If you see me from the right side, I look like a Tyrannosaurus Rex reaching for a glass of iced tea. I’m fairly certain dinosaurs did not drink tea. They are coffee drinkers.

With these mounting monthly injuries, I should, at least, have a contract with the Steelers. Since the newspaper does not have an injured reserve list, I’m unable to collect from the bench. I’m typing this column with one hand. I can type with two hands if I pull the keyboard in tight; T-Rex on a laptop. Once again, I feel the need to point out you’d be hard-pressed to find even a velociraptor that can type more than 40 words per minute.

If anyone asks a group of people a question, I have to rudely blurt out the answer, as I currently can’t raise my hand above my head. I can only make the MCA of dancing to the Village People. Think about that for a second. It’s what professional comedians call a slow-burner.

I have another problem. I am unable to say no to people.

A few days after my shoulder was personally introduced to sand and sea shells, a friend asked me to help him carry stuff from his car. Everything in the trunk of his car was heavy.

I hoisted a bunch of items with my good arm and, since neither of us wanted to make a second trip, I carried a case of beer with my bad one. I remember telling everyone to drink up. I was terrified I’d have to carry the case of beer again. If you were with me Saturday night and got wasted, it’s on me. Sorry about that.

For the rest of the story, click here
Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Call me...maybe - By Michael Buzzelli

E.T. phoned home, but some extraterrestrials may be phoning us.

According to Reuters late last month, scientists are investigating a mysterious signal from space. Russian astronomers detected a non-naturally occurring radio signal some 94 light years from Earth. Cue the “Twilight Zone” music.

Technically, the signal was heard a year ago, but scientists are still investigating.

Personally, I’m thinking they were keeping it from us, but I also believe there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll.

I believe. The truth is out there. Yada. Yada. Yada. I’ve always been a believer. I blame Klaatu and Helen Benson. I blame Kirk and Spock. I blame Dr. Smith and that robot. I grew up on space ships and flying saucers. I mean, I’m fond of them, I didn’t literally grow up on a space ship. I have a birth certificate from here.

If you look up at the vast array of stars and imagine there are planets around some of those stars, it’s easy to believe they are out there. Even if this one is a false alarm, one day we could get a real message.

I, personally, am ready to meet them. Maybe I’m ready/not ready.

The prospect is both exhilarating and frightening, but I’m intrigued about the concept.

If they made first contact, I’m curious about what they would say.

I hope their first call to Earth isn’t Dominos. We’ll never be able to get a pizza there in 30 minutes or less. Let’s face it, they’re 94 light years away. We couldn’t guarantee that pizza would be there this century.

If they do say hello, I’m hoping they’re nice (less “Star Trek,” and more “My Favorite Martian”). I do not need a “Hide your wife, hide your kids. We’re coming for you” kinda message. Let’s shoot for friendly.

But we have to play it cool. We can’t be too nice back. We can’t just invite them over right away.

The next thing you know we’re out cutting the grass, and they swing by just to chat for a bit. I have to make sure I have extra beer in the fridge, just in case.

We can’t just fly to the moon dressed in any old thing anymore. We’re going to have to look presentable. Those silver spacesuits have to go.

We get too friendly, and Earth becomes a tourist destination.

No one wants that.

Think of all the extra traffic, especially if they tell other aliens about us. Imagine the sign on store windows: “We accept Visa, Mastercard and Dilithium Crystals, Galactic Credit Standard, Chronodollars, Zulacks and Space Bucks.” I don’t know what we’d sell them except for “My parental units went to Earth, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt.

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Terror on the tibia

I don’t normally carry over plot threads from previous columns. This is not “Mary Worth” or “Rex Morgan, M.D.” However, last week, I told faithful readers about slipping, falling and smacking my shin at the pool. It’s getting better, but it still hurts.

I don’t wince when I walk, and I can get down on my hands and knees and clean the bathtub without crying. We’re putting those small victories in the win column. I still have some difficulty driving, because when I press my foot on the accelerator, it moves a bunch of leg muscles at once. Those leg muscles hate me. Also, I’m afraid of things that are only shin high, like coffee tables and toddlers.

I picked a weird week to join a gym.

There are a few things you should know before I go any further. I won’t say I’m cheap, but I don’t like to spend money. When I heard a national gym chain was running a Labor Day special, I limped at the chance to join. Normally, I’d jump at such a chance, but see above. There’s something else you should know: I think of the day after Labor Day as the saddest day of the year. It’s the day they drain the community swimming pools. In a counter move to my post-Labor Day blues, I joined the gym because they have a swimming pool! Frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. Clearly, I’m frugal and stupid.

My shin doesn’t hurt when I’m sleeping or swimming. I wanted more time in the water and less time saying, “Ouch.” Therefore, I joined the local fitness center.

When the saleswoman signed me up, I told her, “I hurt my shin. For now, I just want to use the pool.” She replied, “Well, you get a free training session. Ryan will show you how to use all the machines.”

A bell went off when I heard the word “free.” I guess I am cheap.

I met Ryan the Trainer. It’s a title like Conan the Barbarian, and they had very similar builds. I told Ryan the Trainer I couldn’t do leg stuff. He probably hears that a lot, because I saw a lot of top-heavy guys with chicken legs as we toured the facility.

Here’s the thing. At the gym, there were a lot of metal bars protruding from every which way. A lot of them are shin high. My frugality and desire to keep swimming after Labor Day plopped me down in the middle of my very own nightmare scenario. It was like I designed a torture chamber for my shin: The auto-de-fibula. Terror on the tibia!

I stared down at a lot of frightening contraptions. Ryan would say, “OK, this is the butterfly curl. To work this quadrant on your arms … you sit down here and you wrap your legs around this.”

“Um. No. I can’t put my legs on that. That puts pressure right on my hurty spot.”

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Adult Swim is over - by Mike Buzzelli

File it under First World Problems: On Sunday, while climbing out of the swimming pool, I hit my shin. Hard. I fell back off the ladder and into the pool. I was in terrible pain. I was hopping around in the water with my arms flailing about, gracelessly; a one-man water ballet choreographed by a lunatic. I was the anti-Esther Williams. I was sucking back on my teeth, making that “Eeeee” sound, with an occasional “Ohhh” thrown in for good measure.

Side note: No one pays much attention to you in the water, even when you’re doing weird things. Unless you’re gasping for air, everyone pretty much gives you space. It was during Adult Swim, the few minutes the grown-ups have the pool to themselves. As long as you don’t splash the old ladies in the four-feet, you can do whatever the heck you want.

But I digress, like I do. Water break was over, and the kids were jumping in. I had to get out and get out fast. I was terrified one of those little buggers would collide into my shin bone in the middle of a rousing game of Marco Polo. I wouldn’t be able to blame them; their eyes would be closed.

P.S. I got really tired of hearing the words Marco and Polo as they were repeated ad infinitum, sometimes directly into my eardrum. But they were kids enjoying their final minutes of freedom before the school year started. You couldn’t blame them.

I was afraid to get out of the pool. I was in pain in a near-weightless environment, but once I got out, I’d be forced to deal with gravity. I knew it would hurt, and I was right! It was excruciating. I could see an indentation in my shin. I dented my shin. There was no black and blue mark, just pain and regret.

I had to use the stairs instead of the ladder as I limped past the lifeguards. I didn’t want to file an accident report. I literally and figuratively did not want to make waves.

I’ve been favoring my left leg all week. At work, I stood at the copier with one knee up, like a flamingo in business casual. I extended my left leg at the urinal as if I was potty-trained by a dog, instead of the other way around. 

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Take my advice....Please! by Michael Buzzelli

So you skipped past the Ask Annie column and you ended up here for my advice. That was your first mistake, but I’m going to give it to you straight. I’m going to shoot from the hip. I hope no one will get wounded along the way.

Often, I find myself in a precarious position. I am asked for advice, mostly from the lovelorn. Happy couples don’t need advice. They know what they’re doing.

Dear Happy Couples, keep up the good work! I’m offering counsel to the rest of us.

By the way, it’s far easier to fix other people than yourself. It’s one thing to say to someone, “You need to lose or gain weight,” and it’s another thing to actually gain or lose weight. Since most of my advice is for the heartsick, most of them need to lose or gain a whole other person.

Rule 1: Never give advice unless someone asks. It’s the most important advice I can give, which is ironic because I know you didn’t ask for it. I’m giving it anyway. Clearly, I don’t listen to my own words of wisdom.

Giving advice is a bit of a sticky wicket, and it’s hard to unstick that wicket once it’s been stuck. My mouth is a barn door. Once it’s opened, the horses are out and there’s no sense closing it. Usually, I have to hear someone say, “Stop! You’re not making any sense” before I shut my trap.

Say your friend Nancy breaks up with her boyfriend, Sid. You know they weren’t right for each other. You know he was a truly awful human being. Please wait three or four weeks before you tell her that Sid was a giant scumbucket. I find myself railing against someone’s former love, doling out a laundry list of misdeeds minutes after an ugly break-up, only to learn later they’re getting back together the next day. Awkward!

Here’s a little ditty about Jack and Diane. They break up and suddenly the floodgates are open. Jack learns that none of his friends ever liked Diane. He comes to you and says, “Why didn’t you tell me she was a beast from the nether realms?”

It’s hard NOT to say, “You didn’t see the horns? Dude! I mean, come on!”

I have found a much more diplomatic approach. I say, “You seemed so happy. I didn’t want to ruin it. Occasionally she’d swallow the souls of orphan children, but hey, everyone has their little quirks. You go ‘Ahhh’ every time you sip lemonade.” When you are making suggestions to people on how to run (read ruin) their lives, make sure they know you are only offering suggestions. For the rest of this column, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where in the world am I? - by Mike Buzzelli

I want to be Matt Lauer when I grow up, or, at the least, someone like him. The other day I watched him play volleyball before I went to work. He’s hanging on the beach in Rio at the Olympics, joking around with the “Today Show” crew. I’m driving into Pittsburgh in torrential rain. You can see why I wish our positions were reversed.

Being the host of a nationally known television show is a desirable position. I have TV show host envy.

I’ve watched Matt Lauer crack eggs and jokes with famous chefs. I’ve watched him travel the world in a segment called, “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” He even stole Carmen Sandiego’s old schtick (sans red coat and fedora) and got away with it. Sandiego wasn’t available for comment.

Now that’s a day job! A “Today” job! Mikey want. I can say, “Here’s Al with the weather” just as easily as he can. I can take jabs at the ridiculously dressed weatherman. Today on “Today,” Roker is wearing a pink shirt and salmon shorts. It’s too much pink for someone not named Barbie.

Matt Lauer got to meet the Olympic swimmers and interview them. I can do that. The trick is to not just talk to Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, but to pass the microphone around and divide the time up equally. You have to give the losers a chance to say something, too. I’m kidding. I don’t want to talk to the losers.

Side note: This column is designed to make you laugh, not insult America’s athletes. I would never really say these things (to their face). They are our nation’s heroes, and I can’t do three sit-ups without breathing heavy. Heck, I’d be proud to come in fourth at the Olympics. That’s the first guy without a medal! Heck, I’d be proud to look good in a Speedo. We will never know. They don’t make them in jumbo.

But I digress, like I do. There are a few things Matt Lauer can do better than I. I can’t say, “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” Up until today I couldn’t even spell it.

I can’t talk to politicians without saying, “You’re a lying sack of potatoes,” especially if the aforementioned Ahmadinejad was a guest.

P.S. “Sack of potatoes” is the G-rated version. What I really want to say wouldn’t even be allowed on television.

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Draining the Niceness tank - by Michael Buzzelli

I feel I’ve used up my niceness quotient. Some days, I feel like I have a limited supply. On a recent Tuesday, I almost drained my tank. A few petty irritations and my repository of nice was diminishing. You never want your niceness to get to zero. You start snapping at the wrong people.

It started in the morning. I was walking downtown behind a fast-walking smoker. This woman was outpacing me just enough that I found myself continually in her nicotine cloud of death. I either had to run around her, cross the street or hang on the corner for a moment and let her get far in front of me. I chose to cross the street because I don’t like to linger, and I think a heavy-set guy running in business attire looks stupid, especially at 7:30 a.m.

Side note: I’m not some sort of anti-smoking Nazi. You can puff away like a chimney if that’s your deal. It’s your business. I just don’t want to be in your haze. When I’m safely out of wafting distance, I might even smile at you as I walk by.

At noon, I decided to dine al fresco. I found a nice little table in the sun, next to two suburban moms.

There’s a hitch. The one mom decided to tell the other mom about her baby’s diarrhea. She went into graphic detail on color and consistency. I had no idea people could talk about something so unpleasant for such a long time. For the record, I wasn’t eavesdropping. Trust me, I did not want to overhear any of that conversation while eating yellow curry. I had to get up and move.

Side note: I am not in favor of censorship, but please don’t talk about diarrhea, surgeries and/or vomit at lunch time. Your voice may carry.

At the end of that day, I got stuck in traffic on the West End Bridge. I don’t want to blame the Pirates, because they take enough guff, but it was a game day. I should have found an alternate route home. It was a long, long line of motionless cars.

I was almost to the bridge when someone decided to bypass all the traffic and cut in front of me. I was at the white line.

Side note: I will let you over when the line is dotted. As soon as it is a solid, white line, you’re on your own. It’s just rude to bypass the line and try to weasel in. I had to wait. So should you. Also, it’s a rule.

When I wouldn’t let him over, this dude rolled down his window and yelled out, “I hope you crash and die!” That seemed like a severe punishment, especially since I was actually obeying the law.

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.