Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Ham Incident - by Michael Buzzelli

So it begins. The Christmas season is upon us. Yes, like a plague. I love the holiday, but I am not a big fan of the hustle and bustle that goes into it. The yelling, the screaming and the crying, and that’s just me.

It reminds me of a traumatizing tale from Christmas past.

I call it “The HoneyBaked Ham Incident.”

Once upon a time on a wintry Christmas Eve, I was charged with one final task for Christmas: Pick up a ham at a store that sells – wait for it – just hams. I’m a vegetarian, but I’m a good sport.

I got in the car and set out for the exclusive purveyor of popular pig products. In retrospect, I’ll never go back. Ever. It was my 'Nam.

When I drove down the street to the store, I could see the line around the building as I got closer.

I pulled into the lot and circled around like a vulture waiting for easy prey. Finally, someone pulled out and I pulled in. I arrived at the spot a millisecond ahead of some other dude who wanted the space. This is where it gets hairy.

The Other Dude claimed he staked out the spot before me, but I pulled in. I didn’t even see him, and as many times as I circled the lot, I find his “I was here first” story hard to swallow. I got out of the car and he parked his car directly behind mine. He jumped out of the car and started shouting.

He said, “Pull out and let me in. That is my spot!” I sort of laughed because I didn’t think he was serious. My attitude exacerbated the situation.

I could see the little vein on his forehead throb. His wife tried to calm him down. He kept shouting. He wanted to fight me.

Everyone was watching us. We were providing some entertainment for the bored men and women stuck in line. He was a rage-fueled lunatic, kind of like the Hulk but less green.

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, November 23, 2015

Super Fool V Recap

PITTSBURGH—With intermittent flurries and temperatures in the 30s, Super Fool V, the fifth annual Pittsburgh comedians' football game, was the coldest ever. "This is not fucking worth it," said Collin Chamberlin, "I should be at home." Holly Price said she couldn't feel her hands, but Sean Collier said "The rest of us are dealing with the cold by being fat."

The comedians came prepared with water, Gatorade, a case of beer, and a box of wine. They were also decked out in their finest athletic gear. Brandon Schell appropriately wore a Matt Jones Jaguars jersey (a white wide receiver with multiple drug arrests). Mike Sasson wore sweatpants with cargo pockets, which Aaron Kleiber called "The Steel Valley white trash uniform. If you went to Co-Go's right now you'd see three guys in those sweatpants buying tea."
The night before the game
The pregame injury report indicated that several players were suffering from hangovers, including T-Robe, who was hanging out with Terrelle Pryor on the South Side (Pryor was ineligible for the game due to lack of comedy experience, but reportedly would've played in exchange for free tattoos). Brad Ryan said he had no feeling in his thumb as a result of a previous chainsaw accident. Aaron Kleiber wore three knee braces and said his shoulder was sore because he fell asleep on his arm Friday night while watching Jessica Jones on Netflix.

Zawodni & Sons, the two-time defending champions, would be going for a three-peat. The rosters:

Brad Ryan (Captain)
Ed Bailey
Mike Sasson
Aaron Kleiber
Ryan Garasich
Sean Collier
Harry Gilliland
Amanda Averell
Matt Wohlfarth
Dustin Dowling (traded from Zawodni & Sons in the first quarter due to injury on STDs)

Ray Zawodni (Captain)
Matt Light
Jeff Konkle
Day Bracey
Derrick Knopsnyder
Collin Chamberlin
Will Ness
PJ Williams
Holly Price
Brandon Schell
Aaron Kleiber smoking a cig before the game while wearing
a badass jacket he got on sale for only $12 (90% off) #GrownDadBusiness

Super Fool V got off to an unfortunate start. On the second play of the game, STDs' captain Brad Ryan suffered a dislocated shoulder when he hit the ground lunging for an underthrown Aaron Kleiber pass while being closely defended by Matt Light. Ryan left the game and called his girlfriend to take him to the hospital, where he spent four hours in the emergency room. Sources say he took his bag of wine with him. After his second serious injury in three Super Fool appearances, Ryan said he would never play football again. Sean Collier said Ryan "is made out of dried twigs like a scarecrow." Derrick Knopsnyder said Ryan "just fell down. Old people do that."

Forced to continue without their fearless leader, the STDs marched down the field until Matt Light intercepted Aaron Kleiber's pass at the goal line and took it all the way for a touchdown. The STDs struck back quickly though, with Kleiber hitting Mike Sasson with a long bomb for a score on the first play of the next drive. A frustrated Matt Light broke his inhaler on the sideline and had to go to his backup inhaler.
After forcing Zawodni & Sons to turn the ball over on downs, the STDs retook possession. However, quarterback Aaron Kleiber wasn't aware of the change in possession and did not sub back in, and T-Robe took over for the only play of the game in which Kleiber was not the STDs' quarterback. Unfortunately, T-Robe's pass intended for Collier was picked off by Jeff Konkle and returned for a touchdown.

Defensive stops forced a turnover on downs on each team's next drive and Dustin Dowling switched teams from Zawodni & Sons to the STDs because Brad Ryan's team was shorthanded due to his injury. After Harry Gilliland converted on fourth down for the STDs by deftly keeping his toes in bounds while making a first down catch, Kleiber connected with Sasson for another touchdown, evening the score at 2-2.
On Zawodni & Sons' next drive, quarterback Ray Zawodni spread the ball around before hooking up with Day Bracey for a touchdown. The STDs responded with a touchdown pass from Kleiber to Ed Bailey. The teams were permitted to rush the quarterback after counting 5 Mississippi, but were not doing so. Kleiber said if the other team was going to give him unlimited time, he would simply wait for a receiver to get open rather than forcing a throw and risking an interception.

Zawodni & Sons got the ball back with time winding down in the first half. Jeff Konkle took over at quarterback and completed two passes to Derrick Knopsnyder and two to Will Ness. However, despite using all three of their timeouts, Zawodni & Sons was unable to get into the end zone before time ran out when Ryan Garasich stopped Knopsnyder short of the goalline.

Halftime Score
Zawodni & Sons 3
STDs 3
The game was taking its toll on those unaccustomed to prolonged physical activity. "My legs are like jello," said Matt Light. The comedians took advantage of halftime to rest, refuel, and feed their addictions. Sean Collier said "halftime is brought to you by American Spirit, the official cigarette of delusional open mics." Holly Price, who received an MVP vote because she brought a case of beer, was also handing out protein bars. "I'll take a fucking breakfast sandwich or something," said Ray Zawodni.

With the low-scoring first half ending in a tie, it was still anybody's game. Zawodni & Sons was able to score only once on offense in the first half, but made up for it with two defensive touchdowns coming on interceptions. While winning the turnover battle was critical, they would need to jumpstart their offense to have a chance to win.

They did just that on their first possession of the second half. When Zawodni completed a pass to last overall pick Brandon Schell near midfield, many STDs players stopped, thinking Ryan Garasich had got Schell's flag and the play was over. However, Schell's flags remained intact and he was able to make it into the end zone before anyone could stop him. "This is my moment! I want to be in the article!" said Schell. He told quarterback Zawodni "Thanks for having faith in me, bro." Zawodni responded "No problem, there's plenty more where that came from—just kidding, that's the last time you'll touch the ball."

After the STDs evened the score again with a touchdown pass from Kleiber to Dowling, Matt Light changed jerseys, hoping the switch would revitalize his team like in Mighty Ducks 2. It must've worked, because on the ensuing drive Light made the best play of the game. When Jeff Konkle threw a long pass to Light near the sideline, he reached up to make an acrobatic catch, managed to keep his balance and stay in bounds, then skirted past two defenders into the endzone. Watching from the sideline, Kleiber said "Holy fuck."

Even at this point in the game, players were still shaken by thoughts of Brad Ryan's injury. When Matt Wohlfarth went to the ground on a similar play, there was a second before he got up where another injury was feared. Konkle said "From now on, everyone over 40 has to say 'I'm fine' when they fall down."
After Kleiber threw a touchdown pass to Ed Bailey (Kleiber: "That touchdown is brought to you by Epicast") to make the score 5-5 (#GrownDadBusiness), the game reached its turning point. Zawodni & Sons struck back quickly with a touchdown pass from Konkle to Will Ness to regain the lead, and on the ensuing STDs drive, Zawodni & Sons defensive coordinator Matt Light changed his team's defensive strategy and began to pressure the opposing quarterback by counting 5 Mississippi then blitzing. Light's first blitz forced Kleiber to get rid of the ball and Ness came up with the interception and returned it for a touchdown. Collin Chamberlin mocked Kleiber by throwing a bag of chips at him. On the first play of the next drive, another Light blitz precipitated Kleiber getting intercepted by PJ Williams.

Though the STDs got the ball back when T-Robe intercepted Konkle, they were not able to capitalize on it. Under the pressure of Zawodni & Sons' blitzing defense, Kleiber threw a screen pass to T-Robe which ended in a safety when Zawodni brought him down behind the line of scrimmage (a safety resulted in a change of possession, but no points). Kleiber said his team was "falling apart."

Zawodni & Sons took advantage of the turnover, with Knopsnyder catching a touchdown pass from Konkle. It was noted that Konkle was living up to his status as a second round draft pick. Coincidentally, during the drive home after the game, an old clip of Konkle was played on DVE radio in which he joked about being terrible at sports growing up. Maybe Konkle just didn't hit puberty until he was 18, because he's pretty good now, only narrowly missing out on being named the game's MVP.

Zawodni & Sons soon regained possession again after forcing the STDs to turn the ball over on downs. Despite holding a comfortable 8-5 lead with time winding down, they attempted to keep a play alive with repeated laterals until the ball came loose near their own goal line. Under pressure from Harry Gilliland, Matt Light knocked the ball forward out of his own end zone and it went out of bounds. However, because the offense cannot advance a fumbled ball by knocking it forward, the play was ruled a safety and the STDs took possession.

Another Ed Bailey touchdown from Kleiber brought the STDs to within two scores, but on the first play of the ensuing Zawodni & Sons drive, PJ Williams threw a long touchdown pass to Zawodni, icing the game by making the score 9-6 with just seconds left. With a touchdown on his only pass attempt of the game, Williams turned in a perfect QB rating, tying the record set last year by Ron Renwick, who did the same thing on his only pass attempt. "I feel privileged to be in the company of Ron Renwick," said Williams and no one else ever.

With only enough time left for one play, the STDs attempted to keep the ball alive with laterals, but the game ended when Will Ness came up with the ball carrier's flag.

Final Score
Zawodni & Sons 9
STDs 6
When time expired, Matt Light popped open a bottle of $6 champagne and sprayed it everywhere while jubilantly screaming "Fuck her right in the pussy!" Having just secured his third consecutive Super Fool championship, captain Ray Zawodni said he expected to get the three-peat but complimented Brad Ryan on drafting a good team that put forth a good effort. Both teams played well and the game was neck and neck until the middle of the second half when Zawodni & Sons began to pull away.

The moment Zawodni & Sons secured victory was when Light started to blitz the quarterback. The first time he did so, Will Ness got an interception and scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Under such intense defensive pressure, the STDs were unable to find their footing and managed to score only one more time, after the game was essentially out of reach.
Captain of Three-peat Champions


Awards are voted on by the Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Writers Association.

Most Valuable Player
Winner - WILL NESS
A Super Fool rookie who was considered a potential sleeper at the draft, Will Ness exceeded even those high expectations and turned in an MVP performance. On offense, he had four receptions and scored a touchdown that gave Zawodni & Sons a lead they would not relinquish. But it was his dominant defensive performance that stood out most. Not only did he score the game-winning touchdown on an interception return, but he was all over the field, making important defensive stops throughout the game. He turned in a game-high 7 tackles and undoubtedly prevented multiple scores.

As a result of Ness's MVP performance, Matt Light offered him a spot on January's Lights Out show at the Improv (though Light added he would be required to bring 90 people).

Brad Ryan Spirit Award
Winner - BRAD RYAN
Named in honor of Brad Ryan due to the devastating injury he suffered in Super Fool I, the Brad Ryan Spirit Award is given to a player who left it all on the field. Brad Ryan won his own award last year for bravely coming out of retirement to play in Super Fool IV, and this year he wasted no time securing a second consecutive BRSA win by suffering yet another devastating injury on the second play of the game. Afterwards, he said he would never play football again and, for the love of God, let's hope he adheres to that. He needs to stick to less dangerous sports, like skydiving.

James J. Hamilton Award For Excellence In Journalism
James J. Hamilton won a well-deserved second consecutive James J. Hamilton Award For Excellence In Journalism, obviously. Feel free to nominate him for a Pulitzer Prize.
James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian and award-winning* sports writer. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website.

*James J. Hamilton Award For Excellence In Journalism (2014, 2015) 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Franchise Awakens - Attack of the Merchandise - by Michael Buzzelli

I can hear the John Williams overture in my head. Black Friday cometh, and it’s bringing a plethora of “Star Wars” toys, tech and T-shirts. When I was a kid, we had a few action figures, posters and such, but now the “Star Wars”-inspired merchandise has grown exponentially at a ludicrous speed.

“Prepare for Ludicrous Speed!” Sorry. “Spaceballs” reference.

But I digress, like I do. Now, you can get R2-D2 bedsheets, throw pillows and electronics. The trash can-shaped droid is facing some cute competition this year. Move over R2, BB8 is here to dominate. If you haven’t seen him (you’re most likely living in a cave and probably don’t have a newspaper subscription or the Internet so you can’t even read this), he’s sort of a soccer ball with a head. He beeps and tweets just like our beloved blue and white astromech.

If you like any “Star Wars” person, creature or robot, there’s a T-shirt waiting for you. You can get all sorts of Sci-Fi merchandise, but at some point, someone has to draw the line. I draw that line around my lips. I just found out they are making Cover Girl “Star Wars” lipstick. You can get three on the Light Side – Jedi, Droid and Mystic – or three on the Dark Side – Dark Apprentice, Storm Trooper and Chrome Captain. On the one hand, it’s nice “Star Wars” is an equal opportunity exploiter. Now girls can geek out just like the boys.

Side note: I’m only assuming the product line is for women. After all, the word “Girl” is in the name of the company, but boys, if you want to smear your lips with Droid gold #40, may the Force be with you. Everyone should have the opportunity to look like they just licked the paint off of C-3PO.

I’m glad that people can cheer on their favorite character, but the merchandise is out of control. If you want to buy an R2-D2 USB car charger for $39.99, a “Star Wars” Death Star charm for your charm bracelet at $34.99 or an “Empire Strikes Back” Sun Shade (which features the battle of Hoth) for $19.99, go for it.

It’s like they’re sticking the word “Star Wars” on everything! You name it, they have it: aprons, dresses, alarm clocks, kitchen timers, space slug oven mitts, C-3PO tape dispensers … etc. You can get Darth Vader’s head imprinted on your toast with a “Star Wars” toaster.

You can probably keep your cookies in a Jar Jar jar.

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!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Super Fool V Preview

PITTSBURGH—On Sunday, November 22nd, Pittsburgh comedians will gather at Steel Valley High School's Campbell Field to participate in Super Fool V, the fifth annual comedians' flag football game. Last night, captains Ray Zawodni and Brad Ryan drafted their teams at the Beerhive. Here's a preview of the matchup:
Draft results

Captain: Ray Zawodni
1. Matt Light
2. Jeff Konkle
3. Dustin Dowling
4. Day Bracey
5. Derrick Knopsnyder
6. Collin Chamberlin
7. Will Ness
8. PJ Williams
9. Holly Price
10. Brandon Schell

Ray Zawodni's Zawodni & Sons are two-time defending champions and will be going for an unprecedented three-peat on Sunday. Zawodni said his draft strategy was to focus on players with "character and heart" and guys who "if I was a woman, I'd have sex with." Luckily for his team, Zawodni's spank bank contains many talented football players.
Matt Light looks like Mike Sasson's Mini-Me in this photo
Looking to repeat last year's success, Zawodni repeated his last year's first overall pick and selected Matt Light, "son of famous alcoholic Fred Light" and reigning MVP. Light showed that he fits Zawodni's "character and heart" criteria by explaining that he intends to take "cheap shots" on Sunday. Light also discussed plans to gain energy by doing cocaine before the game, provided he could confirm whether playing on cocaine was likely to cause cardiac arrest.

Second round pick Jeff Konkle performed well in last year's game, and Zawodni suggested that Konkle has even more to play for this year because he now has a child to support. Konkle said he was glad to have put his time in at junior college so he has an education to fall back on if his football career doesn't pan out.

Early in the draft, Light said it looks like "we're an all white team." When Zawodni then selected Day Bracey, Light said "Day doesn't really change that." It remains to be seen what impact Day Bracey, an unknown talent, will have on the game. Many assume he'll be good just because he's black, but he was a high draft pick prior to Super Fool II and didn't show up to the game. The availability of Bracey and Derrick Knopsnyder (described as having a 50/50 likelihood of playing Sunday) could have a major effect on the game's outcome.

Sixth round pick Collin Chamberlin dismissed reports that he would eat a lot of Mighty Kids Meals before the game, mainly because the McDonald's by his house doesn't sell them anymore. Instead, Chamberlin said Zawodni made him sign a contract agreeing to eat healthy and that he planned to eat only a couple of handfuls of Chex Mix and drink some tea. Upon hearing reports that Zawodni intends to show up to the game drunk, Chamberlin said it was "extremely unsettling" that he was forced to sign a contract to stay healthy.
"Collin Chamberlin shouldn't be playin no sports. He crazy."
After drafting potential sleeper Will Ness in the seventh round, Zawodni appointed Matt Light as co-captain and delegated drafting responsibilities to Light so he could go downstairs and eat wings. Light proceeded to assert full control over the team and purported to change its name to "The Kliq." It remains to be seen whether Zawodni can lead his team or whether he is a figurehead manipulated by puppetmaster Matt Light in a nefarious plot to ensure Super Fool victory.

Whoever is leading Zawodni & Sons, the team may be considered the favorite to win on Sunday and achieve the coveted three-peat. Zawodni said his rival captain Brad Ryan "is lucky we're not playing tackle, because Brad has fragile wrists." Sources say Zawodni's own wrists are very strong due to his past career as a fluffer, and that he still exercises his right wrist several times a day, while wistfully recalling personal favorite memories from his fluffer days.

Mat Light is bringing two bottles of champagne to the game for the winning team's celebration. If things go his way, he and Zawodni could both be looking at another Super Fool title and another DUI.


Captain: Brad Ryan
1. Ed Bailey
2. Mike Sasson
3. Aaron Kleiber
4. Ron Renwick
5. T-Robe
6. Ryan Garasich
7. Alex Stypula
8. Zack Roach
9. Sean Collier
10. Harry Gilliland
11. Amanda Averell
A blurry photo of Brad Ryan (or possibly Bigfoot) at the draft
Brad Ryan's STDs are likely to flare up and inflict lots of pain this Sunday. Additionally, Brad's team is also named the STDs and they too are looking to have a big day on Sunday. 48-year-old Ryan, the self-described Joe Paterno of the comedy scene, said his draft strategy was to pick players who would be likely to punch him if they were on the opposing team. He also said he would've been his own first pick, implicitly indicating that he wants to punch himself.

Ryan's first pick was Ed Bailey, the top player on the Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Writers Association's pre-draft power rankings. Bailey was the Super Fool III MVP and has consistently shown himself to be the most talented athlete on the field. His team needs him to have another big game if they're going to win.

Second round pick Mike Sasson said his team "has to go out and perform on Sunday. It's all about executing, overcoming adversity, maintaining composure, perseverance, conditioning, discipline, teamwork, electrolytes..." When asked if he had confidence in his team captain, Sasson said "In the history of all the captains I've played for, Brad Ryan will be one of them."

Quarterback Aaron Kleiber, the STDs' third round pick, is looking to erase the memory of last year's dismal five-interception performance and return to the form he showed in prior Super Fools. Matt Light suggested Ryan's selection of Kleiber would all but guarantee victory for Zawodni & Sons. Collin Chamberlin said he was happy to be playing against Kleiber because he wants to get the easiest interception possible, but quickly added that he loves performing on Comedy Sauce at the Pleasure Bar and it's always a great show. In the face of such criticism, Kleiber has some serious grown man business to do on Sunday. His performance could be the key to the entire game.
Ron Renwick proudly displays his signing bonus
Fourth round pick Ron Renwick was drafted far earlier than he should've been based on the Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Writers Association's pre-draft power rankings, but he will have a chance to show his true value on Sunday. Upon joining the STDs, Renwick received a lucrative signing bonus from Ryan in the form of a free can of paint. Though he was initially questionable for the game, Renwick has since talked to his fiancĂ© and confirmed that he is indeed allowed to come out and play on Sunday. 

The STDs' roster has impressive depth, including players such as T-Robe and Ryan Garasich, who both excelled in last year's game, along with Alex Stypula, who is looking to recapture his Super Fool II glory. They could be good value players if you're planning to get in on the daily fantasy action on Draft Kings and Fan Duel, where tons of money is being put down on this game.

While Vegas odds slightly favor a repeat victory by the defending champions, Zawodni & Sons should take care not to get cocky or, like countless women on dating sites throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, they too could be unpleasantly surprised by Brad Ryan's STDs.

Super Fool V
Sunday, November 22, 2015
12:30 PM
Campbell Field, Steel Valley High School
James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian and award-winning* sports writer. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website.

*Winner, 2014 James J. Hamilton Award For Excellence In Journalism 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Brought down by itty bitty germs - by Mike Buzzelli

It was hard to express on the telephone, but I called my boss and said, “I hab a cold.”

With that, I called off work with a severely stuffed-up nose.

It’s that magical time in November, ladies and gentlemen, when cold and flu season is upon us. I am under the weather, and the weather isn’t all that good to begin with.

Yes, I’m breathing through my mouth this week. The neighbor kids are going to mistake me for Darth Vader.

By the way, is Darth the first asthmatic super villain? He’s got an inhaler attached to his face! He couldn’t have been that threatening. He can barely breathe.

Of course, he could do that “choke you with two fingers from a distance thing.” It’s all about breathing issues with that guy.

By I digress, like I do. Several glasses of orange juice, hot tea and homemade soup later, and I’m still coughing my block off.

That hacking and wheezing you hear in the distance is probably me. I don’t have any volume control on this thing.

I’m a not a quiet sick person. I’m a noisy mess.

It started Monday. I called off Tuesday.

Then, I ruined a perfectly good holiday and stayed sick on Veterans Day. For most of Tuesday, I hid under a blanket watching episodes of old television shows.

As I’ve said in the past, television will rot your brain, but daytime television will rot it at warp speed. I can’t click past these judge shows fast enough. There are like 20 of them now.

The incessant yammering on “The View,” “The Chew” and “The Talk” will melt your face off. Last time I heard that many people talking at once was at a party, and without the chips, dip and alcohol, it’s downright annoying.

I recently read that the most germ-infested item in your house is the television remote.

It makes sense. The TV remote has been very comforting these last few days. I’ll have to dip it in a vat of bleach when this is all over.

This week I could be found by the television in pajama bottoms and an old T-shirt, carrying around a box of Kleenex. I had the box in one hand and a tissue to my nose with the other.

Trust me, it’s not an attractive look. Nothing says sexy like a tissue jammed up your nose.

I do have that throaty, sexy voice though, like Kathleen Turner.

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, November 8, 2015

Zen and the art of lawnmower maintenance - By Mike Buzzelli

On a sunny afternoon in November, I cut my grass for the final time of 2015. It was an unusual event. I don’t believe I’ve ever written the words “sunny” and “November” in the same sentence before, but the most remarkable moment came when I found myself enjoying the chore. You may find yourself asking, “Who is this weirdo who likes mowing the lawn?” I’m glad you asked. I am that weirdo!

The enjoyment came in a lot of little ways. I could smell the flowers, and I delighted in seeing all the crimson and amber leaves on the path before me. I don’t like to rake, but I use the lawn bag and boom … two birds, one stone. You just have to empty the bag a million times, but it gets the job done.

There was a twinge of nostalgia to that afternoon. Summer was over, but I was outside in the sunshine. I felt the warmth on my cheeks and sweat on my brow. To be honest, it was a really sweaty brow by the end of it. I’d even sweat through my T-shirt. It’s a little gross, but hey, I was in the moment.

I’ll skip over the part when the lawnmower backfired and I thought I had been shot. I jumped about three feet in the air at the loud bang! The mower spewed out a few noxious fumes and then behaved normally. I may have to replace a spark plug or some such thing. I’ve decided to wait until early spring. Going to Lowe’s or Home Depot definitely would have spoiled my mood.

I practically skipped along as I mowed. That might be why some of the rows were uneven. I was going to soak up my moments in the sunshine. I find I don’t like to go outside much after the temperature dips below 50. I knew that pretty soon, I’d be out shoveling snow instead of cutting grass.

For the rest of this 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, November 2, 2015

Whacking around the shrubbery - by Mike Buzzelli

I am a big fan of direct communication. I don’t like to “beat around the bush.” That expression always bugged me. When people say, “I don’t want to beat around the bush,” aren’t they beating around the bush? Why a bush? Why are you beating around it? Who is abusing the shrubbery?! Is it one of those goofy-looking topiary things? Who would smack a myrtle turtle?

Actually, the expression comes from the English sport of grouse hunting. Bush beaters would rouse the grouse from their resting places, enabling those with nets to capture the birds. I can’t remember the last time I went grouse-hunting.

Oh wait. Never! It’s a centuries-old expression, and I think it’s a grand time to retire it.

There are a lot of phrases in the English language that irk me. I consider them superfluous words that get in the way of the real words in a conversation.

“Let me get right to the point …” is an example of not getting right to the point. It’s a conversation stalling tactic. If you wanted to get right to the point, you’d just say the thing that immediately follows.

Guess what? I’m not particularly fond of “Guess what?” either. I don’t guess. Ever. Here’s why: Say you have a piece of good news you want to share. Then, say I guess something BETTER than the news you planned on telling me. We both lose. Let’s take this scenario:

A friend says, “Guess what?”

I say, “You won the lottery?”

I get silence.

I say, “You got a new job?”

I get more silence.

I say, “That boyfriend of yours finally proposed?” Or, “Your girlfriend said yes.”

I now get silence and anger.

Or worse, “You dumped that loser (gender non-specific).”

Then, I get a black eye.

After my imaginative guesses, anything you say is going to be underwhelming.

The correct answer is usually something like, “I got a pair of Converse All-Stars for half price.”

Big whoop.

For the rest of this 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!