Jim Varagona

Month: September, 2006

>(What’s So Wrong ‘Bout) 10 Year Erections

>The Associated Press reported today that a former handyman from Rhode Island, “Chick” Lennon, is “suffering” from a 10 year erection due to a malfunctioning penile implant. A superior judge dismissed his case after a previous award of $750,000 in 1994, which was reduced to $400,000. It was found that since the now defunct manufacturer can’t be held liable, that its insurance company can’t either.

Several points here…

  • Of course he is a former handyman. Can you imagine having a man with an erection putting in a light fixture at your home? That would just be creepy.
  • I once knew of a fellow that had a pump type thing implanted in him. There were two sides to pump up, but at some point one blew out. Half of an erection has to be a real downer. How do you explain that to the ladies? “You’re only half attractive honey”??
  • Having a constant erection can’t be that embarrassing. In fact it should be enough to drop the nickname “Chick”. Sometimes guys have issues with their penises that use them to their advantage. Ron Jeremy, for instance, is ugly, but has a large member, so he got into porn, and is now set for life I’m sure. John Wayne Bobbitt had his male organ cut of by then wife, Lorena, and thrown out of the window of her car (see image below).It was later re-attached and he made a fine career in…porn. So having an odd penis mainly leads to porn, but it could be worse…you could make a living taking pictures of cars for peanuts.

Guys complain if they can’t get an erection or if they have one for more than 4 hours and even have the audacity to sue for having one that lasts for 10 years. Look Chick, worse things are happening in this world than your petrified penis. I’m sure theirs boys overseas that have had theirs blown off extremists with roadside bombs that hate our free penises. Be grateful for what you have, even if that may be hard for you. And to those that only stay erect for minutes at a time, look at the upside.

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>Kevin Smith, the Indian Call Center Worker, Not the Director

>I’ve been getting swamped with financial companies wanting to help me with debt and school loans. We don’t have caller ID and do not plan on it anytime soon. In the meantime, I’ve had to come up with some creative ways to get rid of the bastards.

A couple of days ago, I received a call about my school loans from a fellow that sounded like Fisher Stevens in the Short Cicuit movies (see video clip example below).


The following is a transcript to the best of my memory:

DIABETOBOY: Hello….Hello.

FISHER STEVENS TYPE: Hello. Is this James?

D: Yes it is.

FST: Yes sir, my name is Kevin Smith, and I am calling you on behalf of [unintelligible] in regards to your student loans.

D: Wait a second. You’re Kevin Smith.

Kevin Smith, Auteur!

KEVIN SMITH!: Sir. I am calling about your student loans and we would like to help you…

D: Man, I saw Clerks II the day it came out. You make some good films man. What got you doing this?

KS: Sir, we would like to help you with your student loans.

D: So, why are you doing this though. I’m sure you’re making money from the movies still. You are still making movies, right?

KS: Yes sir. I like movies–

D: No, are you still making them? Because I like your movies.

KS: Sir–

D: Man, Kevin Smith, the famous director. This is f*cked up.

KS: But sir I would like to help you with your student loans.

D: Naw, it’s cool Kev. I got ’em taken care of. Keep up the good work though.

KS: [unintelligible]

CLICK.

Poor guy. He was trying so hard, but I just couldn’t deal with it. At least I didn’t pass gas into the phone as I sometimes do, or simply go off. He could at least wait until the Clerks sequel hit DVD before he resorted to such gimmicks. I mean I thought the flick was solid.

On a side note…yesterday an Indian female called about the same loan assistance. Her name was Heather Smith.

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>Goodbye Mr. Rogers (Hello Back to the Future Moments)

>

My mother called me early on Saturday to inform me that Mr. Rogers had passed away. I’m not talking about THE Mr. Rogers that most of us love from our childhood. In my neighborhood growing up, we had a lot of kiddie drama. We were always having it out with some family or kid. For a while, it was the Rogers family. When I was much younger, my mom was friends with their mom, Terry, and my brother, Matt, and I hung out at their place with their boys, mainly the 2 out of the 4 that were closest to our age, Mike, born in 1980 like me, and Jeff, who was two years older than Matt, who was born in 1986.

Anyway, at some point, we all just went to war, which basically entailed screaming insults and playing pranks on each other. It got the whole neighborhood of kids involved, so it was very productive.

As we grew up though, things calmed down. Matt started bringing Mike and Jeff around our place and I became good pals with Mike. We hung out fairly often for about a 2 year span, shooting hoops, going to Six Flags, and just doing what kids do. I told him the rhythm of his name was really cool…”Mike Rogers”. He had an odd inflection in his voice, especially when he said “putz”, one of his trademark terms that I have yet to hear someone else use in their regular vocabulary.

In early November of 1996, Mike, Jeff, Matt, and I went down the block to our preschool reunion at Union Nursery School. We obviously weren’t in the same classes, but shared that institution nonetheless. It wasn’t a real reunion, per se, more like we went in the still fairly large gymnasium of our former preschool, looked at some photos on posterboard, and signed another large posterboard of alumni throughout the years.

It was the last time I was to see Mike or Jeff alive.

On November 24th, a Sunday, my family and friends threw me a surprise birthday party. Those are always memorable moments in one’s life, but for myself it became moreso. My party wound down in the early evening. Around 8pm, my brother and parents saw a quick teaser for the 10 o’clock news. Apparently two boys were killed in a single car accident in Webster Groves, which was maybe 2 miles from our home. My parents thought they heard the names as “Michael and Jeffrey Rogers”.

My mother came and told me. My only reaction was to get them to investigate further. You see this was before the time of simply loooking on the news station’s web site. She called the Webster Groves Police Department and they couldn’t shed much light on it. My parents then took a walk down the street to the Rogers’s place in the cold, misty, rainy night. They came back to my brother and I to tell us that the family’s van was there, but Mike’s car was not (he had just turned 16 in September and gotten his car and license at that time). We could only wait for the news.

When the news came on, it was a quick blurb of a story, but confirmed our worst fears with a flash of their photos. I had experienced the first emotional loss of my life. I sat in my room listening to Weezer’s blue album, which I had gotten earlier in the day as a birthday gift, to maybe ease my mind, but all I could do was bawl uncontrollably.

The next day’s Post-Dispatch had a front page article giving more detail to the tragedy. Our friends were riding in Mike’s car, following the rest of the family home, who were riding in the van. They were on their way home from church of all things. Somehow Mike lost control of his vehicle on the mist covered I-44 and went down an embankment, where his car rolled over and up against a tree. The two boys were instantly crushed to death. Their father went looking for them after they didn’t get home. He saw emergency vehicles while retracing the route and knew instantly. He approached emergency personnel and told them that those were his boys.

a more detailed article from the 11/26 St. Louis Post-Dispatch [click on photo to enlarge]

After reading the article, I told my mom that I couldn’t go to school. I even called my friend, Adam, who had met Mike, to tell him I wasn’t coming. My mother ended up pushing me to go. I had bouts of crying in the day, even in front of my religion class with Father McGrath after he asked me how I was in front of the class (generally, not knowing what had happened at all).

I only went to the visitation, which was on my real birthday, two days later, after my mother assured us that, given the circumstances of the accident, it would not be open-casket. As soon as we walked in their church’s lobby area where the wake was, I could see that her assurance was no good. They only looked like fragments of who they were. I couldn’t bare to look longer than it took me to know that it was them. We went to see their mom, Terry. My parents told her that it was my birthday that day. They said I was apprehensive about getting my license now. We embraced. I grabbed her tight, in order to ease her pain and mine, and she said to me, “Go get that license or my boys will haunt you.” It sounds bad, but she meant it in a playful way to help me realize that you can’t let anything hold you back from day to day life.

The next day, before the funeral, I made my father take me to the DMV to get my license. I barely passed, but I did, so that my friends wouldn’t haunt me. I did feel as though they actually were in the car with me for the first year or so. It was very off-putting. When I would drive down the stretch of I-44 where they lost their lives, I would get away from the shoulder and speed by, so not to envision their demise.

Less than 4 years later, my brother, Matt, died from Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare vascular auto-immune disease. I suddenly began placing that moment in February of 2000, which was the most traumatic time of my life, with the other episode in November of 1996, when I lost two young people I knew, and thought that I was way too young, myself, to be experiencing so much crap. It is a quick way to make you grow up or mess with how you reach adulthood.

As I bunched those experiences together, I thought of the 4th of July in 1996, when Mike, Jeff, Matt and I sat on a wall in the Rogers’ alley, which intersected with our block. We watched the fireworks display, being put on at the VP Fair or Fair St. Louis, miles away in downtown St. Louis. Their dad, Don, came out and sat with us. It was one of the few times I heard him say more than a few words, and now I can’t even recall what he said, but it was one of those simple times that made me feel like I knew him more and respected him. Looking back, it was also just one of those good times that you remember from your childhood.

When Mike and Jeff died, I remebered that day, and they began to fade. As time went on, it was that memory that helped me remember them though. When Matt died, he began to fade in that memory too. Just thinking of that day, I felt like it was a conspiracy of them against me. Shortly after Matt passed away, I was told that Don had cancer and was given a couple of years to live. I thought of that day even more, realizing the implications. Here was this memory of mine, with myself, three other young people, and one older person. The other young folks were all deceased and now the older would pass on soon enough. I didn’t feel like I would die necessarily, but when you can think of moments involving yourself and multiple other people, and all of those other people are dead, it is a pretty odd feeling. It reminded me of in Back to the Future when Marty has a photo of him with his brother and sister, and after he interferes with his parents meeting, he and his siblings begin to fade from the photo. It’s not exactly the same premise, but the thought always comes to mind.

After hearing the news of Don’s illness, I felt like the family had been dealt too many bad hands. Through it all though, Terry especially, kept a positive attitude, thinking that there was a plan for them. This was and is an incredble feat considering Terry is blind, and has been since birth. Her boys helped her a lot through the years and she lost two of them. After 1996, the family took in little Jeanetta, who as she grows up, brings happiness and a light to a beaten group of people. Needing to do something, I wrote to Oprah to give a Florida vacation to the Rogers family. Unfortunately, Miss Winfrey didn’t respond.

I will say that I feel horrible that I haven’t visited with Terry much since her boys passed away. Even though I’ve now been on that side of loss, I still am uneasy about all of this. My mom, however, has remained a good friend of their family.

So Mr. Rogers is gone now. He lived far beyond his doctors’ prognosis, but the cancer took hold. He had a stroke a couple of days before and never recovered. How much can a family take? Terry has the resilience to get back up and live. I only hope she can remain an inspiration for her two remaining boys, David and T.J., and her daughter, Jeanetta. I will be thinking of them.

I am not so sure I could make it through a time like that, but then again, people said the same thing directly to me after my brother died, even in more direct terms. On occassion, life throws us some crap, and you never really know how much you’re going to get and how you’re going to take it.

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>”How Dare you, Mr. President…”

>As a follow up to my post from yesterday (9/11 To Me, and the American Crutch of Stupidity and Convenience), I am posting some materials that have come out in the past day that also reflect my feelings.

Last night, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith addressed the administration with obvious emotion. I’m sure it will be labeled as part of the conspiracy of the liberal media, but if you’d like to label it that way, at least you have a Republican controlled government. Here is the video from last night (and transcript):

Howard Zinn, writer of A People’s History of the United States, offered this commentary about a week ago about current events:

War is not a solution for terrorism …By Howard
Zinn

THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey’s novel, “The War Lover,” in which a macho
American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his
sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations — the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — and were forced to withdraw.

Even the “victories” of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence — the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a “suspected terrorist” is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is “inevitable.”

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in “accidental” events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by “accident.” Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

I only hope that others feel this passionately during these times and challenge what we are fed as the truth.

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>9/11 To Me, and the American Crutch of Stupidity and Convenience

>5 years ago today, my father, who normally would be at work, had the day off. He woke me up by telling me that we were under attack. He told me that planes had crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I jumped out of bed to watch it on television.

Shortly after I turned on the television, the south tower collapsed. Of course, I don’t have to go into detail. Everybody’s seen the destruction and chaos from that day. Many compared it to something we had only seen in movies, because there was no precedent for it, especially in our country, the land of the free, home of the brave.

As much as I couldn’t turn away from the footage that day, I still had classes to attend. I questioned whether or not to attend my Elvis class. Obviously, this was more important than Elvis. Who knew if we had more to fear that day? I did go to my Elvis class, and we watched “King Creole”, but you could tell that we were all somewhere else. During our couple of breaks, the students wandered in a common area, watching the non-stop coverage on screens spread throughout the building.

I had another class on Political Philosophy that night. How fitting. We discussed whether or not we should be there. It was decided that we would go over the current class material, then discuss the events, and leave after an abbreviated class. When I left, I went right back to the TV. In fact I had snagged my mom’s pocket TV as I ran out the door to school. I stood outside, waiting for a ride, and watched the coverage, flipping from network to network. I watched the planes disappearing into the buildings again and again. At one point on FOX, they had showed some of the jumpers, which was criticized, but it was real and happening.

That period of time put me in a daze. It had only been a little over a year since my brother had passed away. We didn’t lose him to a disaster like this, but I kept thinking of the loss of anyone associated with the folks on those planes and in those buildings.

It made sense to go after the bad guys in Afghanistan, but how much progress has been made. A recent AP report states: “Despite about 20,000 U.S. forces fighting al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, and about the same number of NATO troops, and billions in aid, a resurgent Taliban resistance has shaken the country, while corruption has stymied development.” While we brought “freedom and democracy” to those people, which I dispute, we certainly have not brought stability.

And why Iraq? Bush and Cheney have been saying in recent interviews that it is central to the war on terror, but it was completely preemptive, especially considering all intelligence stating Iraq had WMDs was proven false. Apparently since Saddam had tried before, that was enough to go after him next, even though not much evidence of WMD production exists after the first Gulf War. We instead now have spent hundreds of billions (Congress has approved $432 billion to date for Iraq) and lost over 2,600 men of our own, not to mention hundreds of dead contractors, hundreds of foreign soldiers, and thousands of dead civilians. That’s the price you pay for freedom, I guess, even when you’re fighting people with no connection to those that instigated war in the first place.

Even though the other two in the “Axis of Evil”, Iran and North Korea, pose more of a real threat to us now, we have no man power to do anything about it. Suddenly sanctions and diplomacy sound a bit better, but that D-word won’t be had with nations that harbor terrorists. It’s been said before, but a terrorist to one nation is a freedom fighter to another. Our leaders even portray ourselves as “fighting for freedom”, a very dumbed down catchy slogan that doesn’t really give much detail. It’s good enough for those that have to work over 40 hours a week (with sometimes low wages) to feed their families, eat fast food because it’s fast and convenient (but a killer), and vote (when we feel like it) based on 30-second TV spots that a lot of the time are paid for by interest groups and have little factual basis. If it’s fast and simple, it’s more convenient, and we’ll take it. No one questions reasoning much anymore.

I’m not one to agree with or quote Andy Rooney much; old men with bushy eyebrows and hair growing in tufts from their ears have that effect on me. This past Sunday on 60 Minutes though, he said something that everyone and their mother should barrage each other with forwarded emails over (kidding, maybe).

“The disaster on September 11th…was manmade. Death by design. Some people who hated Americans set out to kill a lot of us and they succeeded.

Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us.

We seem so nice to ourselves. They do hate us though. We know that and we’re trying to protect ourselves with more weapons. We have to do it I suppose but it might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn’t make so many people in the world want to kill us.”

I doubt that will happen anytime soon, but it’s a great idea, and really simple if you think about it. It’s just outside the box for a lot of people that think bombing the shit out of people will make them greet us as liberators and bring peace to the world.

John and Yoko put it well…

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