Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Seven Minute Stretch - by Michael Buzzelli

I tried to steal a friend’s car the other day.

Don’t judge. There are extenuating circumstances that I am going to delineate below.

On Sunday, I rushed to get to a board meeting. I showed up at 11:07 a.m. I pulled into the parking garage in downtown Pittsburgh.

I couldn’t believe how fast I had gotten to town considering there was a baseball game that day.

I ran in to the meeting and apologized for being late. The board secretary, Cathy, asked me if I had an excuse, and I thought she was joking. I shushed her because the board was in the midst of a discussion.

After they wrapped up the agenda item, the board president, Claire, said to me, “We voted on a few things before you got here.”

I was aghast. I said, “Wait. How much business did you get done in seven minutes?!”

Everyone turned to me and stared. They were all making the “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” face. I looked down at my phone, and I was about to defend my seven-minute lapse.

Claire very quietly said, “Mike, the meeting started at 10.”

I must have been making my “Yikes!” face, because the room erupted in laughter. I am glad that I no longer get embarrassed, or I would have turned red.

The meeting has always started at 10.

I don’t know where my mind was, but I’m at a point in my life where my own stupidity no longer shocks me.

On the plus side, no moronic thing anyone does shocks me, either.

I’ve become immune to idiots. It’s probably why this whole election cycle isn’t bothering me anymore.

But I digress, like I do. We got through a list of items on our agenda, and the meeting was adjourned promptly at noon. I issued another apology as we waited for the elevator.

I walked back to the parking garage thinking, “This was the fastest meeting I’ve ever attended. Oh. That’s right. I skipped the whole first hour.” I nearly slapped myself on the forehead, like you do when you forgot you could have been drinking a V8. Only no one willingly drinks V8.

I had my keys out and walked to the car. Linda, who also attended the meeting, walked toward me. She started laughing again from my earlier faux pas.

I was trying to change the subject by saying, “Oh! We must have parked near each other.”

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, April 17, 2016

I love salad - by Mike Buzzelli

The other day I took one of those Facebook questionnaires. The computer asked me to name my four favorite foods.

I think I’d rather take the SATs. I’m not a very decisive person. At a restaurant I have to be told the specials … twice. Servers hate me, but I tip well.

It’s hard to pick four of anything. I run out of steam after two. Pizza was easy. I think most Americans love pizza.

Pizza can be plain or fancy. It’s so versatile. I love the regular sauce and cheese variety, but I’ve also liked ones with fingerling potatoes and pesto on them.

I’ve had roasted pears and arugula on pizza.

You can put anything on a slab of dough and call it a pizza.

I finally decided on my four things. I picked roasted root vegetables as number two, French fries as number three, and a big salad as number four.

No one picks salad. I secretly hoped this survey wasn’t for “Family Feud,” because I may have skewed the curve. “Oh, Johnson family you lose.

The top survey answers were pizza, lasagna, steak, French fries and one moron in Pennsylvania said salad. But we do have a year’s supply of Turtle Wax for you.”

Side note: I don’t really watch “Family Feud.” I’m not sure how it works.

I love a big salad. It didn’t used to be my favorite. When I was growing up, we only had one lettuce.

The other kinds hadn’t been invented yet. We only had iceberg. I’m sure you’re curious why they would name a lettuce after something that sunk the Titanic. Its flavor was wet crunch, like an actual iceberg.

In the mid-to-late '80s, lettuce got exciting. Now we have romaine, arugula, endive, radicchio, frisee, loose leaf, butterhead and more.

Plus, I expanded the things I put on a salad. I discovered feta cheese, Kalamata olives and pepperoncini.

No, I wasn’t the Christopher Columbus of salad, but I did go on a college trip to Greece.

Then, I learned that in Italy a salad could be just mozzarella cheese, basil and some tomatoes. The Caprese is the pizza of salad.

I found I liked apples, beets, grapes, nuts, strawberries or pomegranate seeds in a salad. I realized you can put anything in one as long as you start with a lettuce base. 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, April 10, 2016

Remote - No control by Mike Buzzelli

When I was younger, I would get so angry at my dad when he would grab the remote and switch stations in the middle of a show because of the commercials. Now, I’m doing it. I’ve met the enemy, and he is me. I’ve gone clicker crazy! It turns out that the shoe didn’t fall far from the tree.

P.S. Don’t write in letters and call it a mistake. I actually happen to have a shoe tree.

But I digress, like I do. I blame the Cookie Monster for my remote control madness. At first, I thought it was cute that the Sesame Street creature was hocking hands-free phones.

Then, I wondered, “Cookie, why don’t you use your waiting time more productively and clean up that ginormous mess you made? Or, at the very least, make another batch of cookies?”

Now, I’ve been switching shows in midstream to avoid commercials, such as the aforementioned Muppet-centric one. Then, I forget what I was watching in the first place and fall down an endless rabbit hole of cable channels. I have TV ADD.

I get very confused. The next day, someone will say, “What did you watch on TV last night?”

I’ll respond, “I’m not sure. ‘The Bachelor’ had to cook something with five unusual ingredients in a basket while he sipped coffee at Central Perk with Chandler and Monica, then drag queens had to save Steve Harvey from Chin Ho, and Alicia Florrick and Buffy Summers fought the Flash and Supergirl. Something like that.”

It’s been a while since I could concentrate long enough to stay in one place for 30 minutes, let alone a whole hour.

Police procedurals are completely out. I find myself at the high end of the cable channels. And, as we all know, cable is the worst. There are twice as many commercials, and they are twice as terrible. The higher the channel number, the greater the stupidity of the commercials. You’ve fallen, and you can’t get up! You want your money, and you need it now!

Did you ever notice that in every state in America, some car salesman gets the genius idea of using his trophy wife (I want my Ugg boots in the shot for no real reason) or grandchild (lispy kid) to sell his cars? The only thing worse is when they try to do it themselves.

Dear car dealerships, lawyers and plastic surgeons, if you have money to make a commercial, please hire a professional.

I don’t mean a football player, either. Sometimes I can see their eyes move across the cue cards.

Commercials are for actors. You wouldn’t want your wife or child to remove a tumor from your brain. I’m not saying acting is brain surgery, but the wannabes sure make it look like it is. Hashtag me at #Bitter-actor-party-of-one.

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, April 3, 2016

The Eyes Have it - By Michael Buzzelli

I’d rather not admit this. Let’s just say that stuff that happens to old people is now happening to me. I’m convinced it’s highly coincidental. The other day, I lost my glasses. Not just temporarily, but lost lost.

No. They weren’t on my head. Everyone asked me that. I have lost my glasses and found them on my head, but not this time.

Yes. I’ve looked behind the dresser, under the bed, between the seat cushions on the sofa.

They no longer exist. Poof! Disappeared in midair!

It’s like Captain Kirk had Scotty beam them out of the house to save future generations of four-eyes.

I may have fallen asleep wearing them Friday night. I might have taken them off. It’s unclear.

I had them when Batman and Superman were knocking the snot out of one another.

Side note: Aren’t they friends? Aren’t they, in fact, SUPERFRIENDS?

I remember pushing the aforementioned glasses up on my nose while discussing with my brother and nephew why I hate dream sequences in movies and television shows, and why I don’t need to see Bruce Wayne’s parents die again.

I’ve seen Batman’s parents shot in an alleyway in comics, television and in multiple movies. I get it. The orphan billionaire grows up to avenge his parents and has a thing for creepy web-winged flying mammals. Yes, he could have been Flying Squirrel Man or Gliding Possum Man, but he went with bats.

But I digress, like I do. After the movie, I went out to a bar where I had ONE BEER. I still had my glasses. I was now railing against the movie to friends and strangers, saying, “It was too long,” and “I wanted more Wonder Woman.” But I had my specs on the whole time.

I had them on at home, when I stayed up late to watch “Rules of Engagement” – proving that “Batman vs. Superman” wasn’t the worst entertainment choice I could make in 24 hours. I needed my glasses to see David Spade, but I’m not sure why I wanted to look on his thin, pale image.

Here’s where it gets fuzzy. I woke up Saturday morning and the glasses weren’t in the usual places. I keep them on the dresser or nightstand. Sometimes I leave them in the kitchen. Not there, there or there.

I took the sheets off my bed in case I fell asleep with them on. I moved the bed and looked under it.

I moved the dresser and looked behind it.

I only found tennis ball-sized lint under the bed. I even found a tennis ball-sized tennis ball, but it was covered in lint. I never found the glasses. I took apart the sofa.

For the rest of the article, 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, March 27, 2016

Sent to the Chair - by Mike Buzzelli

I like to talk. Ask anyone. Shutting me up is the problem. However, I have never been a fan of small talk. Ask me about the universe, ghosts, Old Hollywood and GET READY TO … RAMBLE!

Sit me down in a barber chair, and I’m blank.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to get my haircut from the Chinese place on Gower. Two reasons: It was cheap, and they didn’t speak much English. Aside from “Haircut five dollar!” I didn’t have to chat with them. The hardest part was explaining how I wanted my hair.

“A number three on the sides and back and blended down.”

It’s so easy to talk with your friends. You know the rules. Whenever you engage in polite social talk with strangers, you have to learn where the boundaries are. Something innocuous like “How about this weather?” can turn into a discussion on climate change. It gets ugly.

Some people also don’t know the rules. When I say, “How are you?” you say, “I’m fine.”

Sometimes you hear, “Well, I have a tennis elbow thing going on. My wife has switched medications and, OH BOY, is it making her moody!” TMI.

The worst place is when I’m getting my hair cut, because I’m a captive audience. Suddenly, I’m listening to someone tell me about their weekend. Then, he will ask me about mine. I never want to contribute too much, because I don’t want to bore him as badly as he is boring me. I’m polite that way.

The No. 1 way to bore someone is to brag pretentiously about your life. When a stylist or barber asks about my weekend, I clam up. My life can sound a little boastful.

He or she will ask, “Doing anything fun this weekend?” I will say, “Not much.”

But when pressed for details, I will tell the truth: “I’m going to the opening of a new play, shooting a video review for ’Burgh Vivant, writing my newspaper column, attending a gala, doing some standup and going to my improv class. You?”

That sounds like a lot from a person they never heard of. My life on the Z List. I’m not Kathy Griffin famous. Heck, I’m not even Sally Wiggin famous.

But I digress, like I do. Here’s the thing. If I’m in the barber’s chair and I know you, I’m going to be invested when you tell me you took your dog to the groomers. If I don’t know you, I might reach for those shears and off myself, or poison myself with that huge jar of tinted blue water the combs are always floating in. What is that stuff?!

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, March 20, 2016

Creatures in my car - By Mike Buzzelli

My car might be haunted. On Sunday, it was making a horrible grinding noise, a very loud grinding noise.

As I sit here making the noise, I bow my head for Tom Magliozzi, popular-but-deceased co-host of the NPR radio show “Car Talk.”

Side note: I loved “Car Talk,” but I find it hard to listen to the reruns knowing the Click half of Click and Clack is no longer with us. May he rest in peace.

But I digress, like I do. I feared driving my car Sunday. On Monday, I set out to drive it to the mechanic. Less than a mile into my journey, the car stopped making the noise. I proceeded to the mechanic’s anyway. Better safe than sorry, as they say. I don’t really know anyone who says that but me. My friends are too cool to spout corny aphorisms.

The mechanic drove it around (maybe he ran errands with it, I don’t know), and found nothing wrong with it. By the way, he didn’t charge me. I hope he at least used it to pick up his dry cleaning.

I was halfway home with it when it made a new and completely different noise. It was like a skittering on the passenger side. I really hope it’s haunted, because I suspect something far worse than ghosts in the machine.

Flashback: Late Saturday night in the Strip District, I ran over a rat. The rat was sitting in the middle of the street. He or she (rats can be girls) looked up at me right as I barreled toward it. I swerved. And then I closed my eyes. Yes, while I was driving. Don’t tell the cops.

I was so terrified I hit it, but I was more terrified I didn’t and that it crawled into the underside of my car and decided to live there.

The following morning is when the noise started. The ride home from the mechanic Tuesday is when it really started to sink in.

I had trouble sleeping Tuesday night. I kept picturing the rat nesting in my car, having babies. See! I told you rats can be girls. They’re actually scarier when they’re girls, now that I think about it.

Side note: Whenever I hear a woman talking about the miracle of birth, I always want to remind people that rats, snakes and spiders have babies. It doesn’t seem as miraculous when it’s a rat having a bunch of rat babies. It’s only a miracle when it’s a dog, cat or human.

So, I’m afraid to look under the car. I don’t want a pregnant rat leaping at my face, trying to protect her brood. 

For the rest of the 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!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This Inspiring History Teacher Refused To Say "Franklin Pierce Was The Greatest President" No Matter How Many Times I Tased Him

By James J. Hamilton
Local 10th grade history teacher Glenn Masterson (or "Mr. M," as he is affectionately known by his students) refused to say "Franklin Pierce was the greatest president" no matter how many times I tased him yesterday during his fifth period American History class.

A hardworking, genial man who inspires pupils with his passion for history, Mr. M has been voted his school's Best Teacher by the student body for the past three years.

Enraged by the universal love and respect Mr. M receives, I recently attended one of his classes, posing as a new student, and attempted to make him debase himself in front of the kids who adore him by coercing him into saying Franklin Pierce was the greatest president. 
Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States (1853-57), was a northern Democrat whose polarizing support for the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Fugitive Slave Act deepened North-South conflict and set the stage for Southern secession. An abject failure at worst, well-meaning and mediocre at best, Pierce is consistently ranked among the bottom third of presidents in surveys of historians.

That's why I wanted to get Mr. M to say Pierce was the greatest president. It's obviously not true, so if he said it, his students would think he's a moron and he'd finally be toppled from the goddamn pedestal everyone has him on. 

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of Mr. M's thoughtful lecture on the root causes of the Civil War, I raised my hand and proposed that Pierce was the greatest president in American history, a champion of freedom, criminally underrated by historians who just don't understand him. While Mr. M conceded that an argument could be made that Pierce was slightly underrated, and that one could plausibly maintain that Pierce was perhaps a middling president, he opined that Pierce was by no measure great and that the greatest president was probably Abraham Lincoln. I declared that Lincoln was a monstrous, Constitution-hating dictator, and Mr. M started saying weirdly hostile things like "There's no way you're in 10th grade, you're like thirty years old."
At that point, I removed a Vipertek VTS-989 Heavy Duty Stun Gun from my backpack, rushed to the front of the classroom, and tased Mr. M in the neck. He instantly dropped to the floor and I stood over him amid the screams of two dozen horrified 10th graders and demanded that he name the greatest president. When Mr. M said "Abraham Lincoln," I tased him again and told him to say Franklin Pierce was the greatest president. Fighting to remain conscious, Mr. M sat up, looked at me, and defiantly said "Pierce was a failure." I tased him a third time and, struggling to be heard over the students' unremitting shrieks, again ordered him to say Franklin Pierce was the greatest president.

In my all-encompassing fury, I failed to notice that a student had run to the main office to get help, and I was suddenly tackled from behind by two security guards who brutally disarmed me and beat me unconscious.

The last thing I saw before I blacked out was Mr. M staring me right in the eye and mouthing the words "Abraham Lincoln."

James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website.