You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Potty


Captain Marvel – Female, 20-35

Nick Fury – Male, 30-60


            High-tech looking office.

Nick Fury is sitting at a desk. There is a bleep.

Nick Fury:

Come in.

The door whooshes open and Captain Marvel walks in and stands at attention in front of the desk.

Nick Fury:

Relax, Captain Marvel. I wanted to talk to you about today’s battle with the Zarkan Overlords.

Captain Marvel:

Which one of those male jerks complained about me?

Nick Fury:

Look, we’re not here to point fingers.

Captain Marvel:

It was probably that goody-two-shoes Captain America. You know that somehow, that pretty boy thinks he outranks me because he was a captain first?

Nick Fury:

This is about the battle. You were late, were you not?

Captain Marvel:

Yes, I might have been a bit late, but so what? It was over by the time I got there.

Nick Fury:

Not the point. What if it had been a tougher opponent? And Hawkeye did get injured.

Captain Marvel:

Hawkeye always gets injured. Why is he even on the team? He shoots arrows. Big deal. That was big like sixty-thousand years ago.

Nick Fury:

At least he showed up.

Captain Marvel:

I had to pee, all right?

Nick Fury:

How long does it take to relieve oneself?

Captain Marvel:

Are you kidding me? Look at this outfit. First, I have to take off these gloves that go all the way up my forearms. Next, I need to unhook this belt. Then I have to unzip this skin-tight, rubberized monstrosity from my neck to mid-thigh. That’s assuming I can even find the zipper.

Nick Fury:

Still, I don’t see—

Captain Marvel:

Oh, I’m barely getting started. Then I have to peel the thing down to my knees and still have room to slide down my underwear, all while keeping the suit from touching the nasty floor.

Nick Fury:

Hey, we have a cleaning crew.

Captain Marvel:

Yes, and then a crowd of guys filing in all day who have laser sight or x-ray vision, but still can’t seem to hit the middle of a toilet from less than two feet away. How about a separate ladies’ room? What is this? North Carolina?

Nick Fury:

You’ve got practically the same suit as Captain America.

Captain Marvel:

True, except for the little emergency flap down below or the physical equipment to use it. I know that the last Captain Marvel was a dude, but can we update the outfit?

Nick Fury:

We offered you one like Wonder Woman.

Captain Marvel:

Sure, if I want to Captain Slut-Girl. I’ll admit she can do the underwear pull-over with that short skirt, but is it necessary that my breasts be barely contained?

Nick Fury:

Look, at the risk of opening up an H. R. issue here, is it possible for you to do your bathroom business before getting dressed for work?

Captain Marvel:

If you must know, I was feeling a bit bloated, so I took a water pill this morning. If I wore shredded pants like the Hulk, this wouldn’t be a problem, but that’s not an option.

Nick Fury:

The Hulk spends a lot less time in Hair and Make-up, too.

Captain Marvel:

Hey, would you rather deal with my agent, or maybe the Union? If you can make an honest effort to upgrade the locker room facilities and maybe give me a little input into costume improvements, maybe I’ll be able to get to the battles on time.

Nick Fury:

I guess we can work on that. We certainly want our heroes to be happy here.

Captain Marvel:

I’m glad you feel that way. Since I’m here, I’d also like to discuss adding some hot yoga classes, a healthy snack area and possibly some flowers around the headquarters.

            While she rambles on, Nick Fury buries his head into his hands.

Ooh, how about a day-care center.




Lt. Oberon – Any age or gender

Mickey Goldberg – Male, 20’s


            High-tech looking office.

Lt. Oberon is sitting at a desk. There is a bleep.

Lt. Oberon:

Come in.

The door whooshes open and Mickey enthusiastically walks in and stands at attention in front of the desk.

Lt. Oberon:

(Smiling) Relax, young man. You are not a cadet, yet. Please have a seat. Welcome to Star Fleet Recruitment Center.

Mickey sits.


Sir, yes sir! Mickey Goldberg reporting for, um…recruitment, sir!

Lt. Oberon:

(Looks at a paper) Yes, I have your application here. Everything looks to be in order…wait…Hmm, it appears that you left the section blank where you can request a career path. I’m sure it was just an oversight. Did you have a particular branch of the service in mind, Mickey?


No sir! I just want to serve the Federation in whatever capacity they can use me, sir. I come from a long line of Star Fleet Personnel. Service in the fleet is very big in my family. There have been over two dozen Goldbergs who have preceded me.

Lt. Oberon:

Wow. That is quite impressive. My grandmother and an aunt and uncle were officers before me, but two dozen? That is remarkable patriotism.


Actually, none of the Goldbergs were officers.

Lt. Oberon:

None, out of dozens? Where do some of your current relations serve, if you don’t mind me asking?


Oh, none are currently serving.

Lt. Oberon:

I see. Well, in any case, there must be some path you were hoping to take in Star Fleet. We have a wide range including Operations, Sciences, Security, Technology, and of course, Command.


Nope! No preference.

Lt. Oberon:

Mickey, you seem awfully enthusiastic to join, but I’ve never had a recruit with no requests.


Oh, I have a request, Sir. There was just no space for it on the application.

Lt. Oberon:

No space? Well, what is it that you’d like to request?


I’d like something that would allow me to wear a red shirt, sir!

Lt. Oberon:

(Surprised) You mean a red uniform shirt? That’s highly unusual. Um, Mickey, you are aware that Federation personnel who wear red uniform shirts have um…how can I put this?…um, an extremely high death rate.


Yes, I know. That’s why no Goldberg has ever made it to an officer-level position and, I suppose why none are currently serving.

Lt. Oberon:

None? You mean to say that you have some two dozen relatives killed in the line of duty?


Yes, Sir! My dad and a couple of uncles were blasted by Klingons, Aunt Sheila and cousin David, by Romulans, and two of my brothers by some sort of Nazis in a time loop. Grandpa Benjamin was in a shuttle that disappeared into a nebula and great-uncle Shecky was absorbed by some gaseous entity that is still unidentified.

Lt. Oberon:

This is incredible!


That’s nothing. I had a second cousin on the Constitution when that blew up and my sister went out of an airlock, thanks to Khan Noonian Singh. Let’s see…Uncle Louie stepped on an explosive rock and Great-aunt Minnie had all of the salt sucked out of her body. The list goes on.

Lt. Oberon:

Mickey, I don’t understand. You, more than anyone knows the risks. Why is it so important for you to wear a red shirt? You have a level of patriotism that is beyond anything I’ve ever seen.


Duh! You’re in Star Fleet. Surely you have seen the death benefit package. It’s the best. I want to be able to provide for my wife and kids as well as my late parents did for me.

Lt. Oberon:

Mickey, there are safer ways to earn a living.


You mean like schlepping into an office for eight hours, five days a week for fifty years? No thanks. Hey, can you put me on the Enterprise?

Lt. Oberon:

Why the Enterprise?


Are you kidding? I hear that Captain Kirk goes through redshirts by the shuttle load. That’s the kind of service that I want.


Writing Resume

Robert O’Connell

231 Churchview St. Cary, NC 27513   •    Email:   

Web:    •   Blog:


  • The Death of Comedy; Green Chicken Press 2016
  • Campus Mob; Green Chicken Press 2016
  • The Day I Dressed Better Than My Wife; Green Chicken Press 2015
  • Cruise Mob; Green Chicken Press 2014
  • Flash Mob; Green Chicken Press 2013


  • The Triangle Review – Regular contributor of theater reviews around the Raleigh-Durham Triangle Area – 2019-present
  • The Educator – Essay, Voices of Parkland; Parkland Writer’s Café, 2016
  • Chances of a Lifetime – Short Story, The Portal;  – Broward South Regional Library, May/June 2016
  • Pumpkin Time – Essay, The Writer’s Café – Volume XIII; 2014
  • Old Friends and Old Age – Essay, The Writer’s Café – Volume XIII; 2014

Writing Awards

  • Game Day: 1st place, Audience Choice Award, Snowdance 10 Minute Comedy Festival, Racine, WI, February 2017
  • Death List: 3rd place for playwriting in the Helen Jean Play Contest, Spring 2016
  • Nine Angry Men: 3rd place for playwriting in the Helen Jean Play Contest, Summer 2016
  • Cloud in my Coffee: 2nd place for The Playgroup LLC Full-length Play Contest, 2016
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell: 1st place for playwriting in the Helen Jean Play Contest, Autumn 2016
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell; Audience Choice Award, Short + Sweet Theatre Festival, Manila, Philippines, October 2016

Stage Productions

  • APR: Acronym Plays, Urban Stages, NY, NY, Mar 2022
  • Cloud in My Coffee: Sky Pilot Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, May 2020
  • Playtime: Pegasus Theatre NJ, Princeton Junction, NJ, Mar 2020
  • Redshirt: Paragon, Otherworld Theatre, Chicago, IL, Nov 2019
  • The Visit: Radio Theatre Project, St. Petersburg, FL, Nov 2019
  • You Gotta Fight for your Right to Potty: Radio Theatre Project, St. Petersburg, FL, May 2019
  • Character Assassination: Radio Theatre Project, St. Petersburg, FL, Mar 2019
  • The Pet Peeve Store; Lite 2019, Cary, NC, Mar 2019
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell: Panglossian Productions, Williamsburg, VA, Feb 2019
  • Character Assassination: TEN:10 Dubai, The Junction, Al Quoz, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept 2018
  • Character Assassination, Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell, Death and a Salesman: Cary Playwright’s Forum, Radio Hour, Cary, NC Aug, 2018
  • The Visit: The Mother Lode, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Mar 2018
  • Character Assassination; The 4th Street Theater, Chesterton, IN, Mar. 2018
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell; The Bench Plays, Odenbear Theatre, Taos, NM, Feb 2018
  • Slur Wars: In the Moment One Act Series, Creative Circuit Studios, San Antonio, TX, Jan 2018
  • Character Assassination: The Storefront Theatre, Waxhaw, NC, Mar 2018
  • Character Assassination: Short+Sweet 2018 Dubai, Jan 2018
  • Character Assassination: Triangle Reading Service, Raleigh, NC, Nov 2017
  • Playtime: The Players Follies, The Players Centre, Sarasota, FL, Nov 2017
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell: North Park Playwright Festival, San Diego, CA, Oct 2017
  • Playtime: Our Funny Shorts, Unscrewed Theatre, Tucson, AZ, Aug 2017
  • Character Assassination: Minnesota Shorts, Lincoln Community Theatre, Mankato, MN, January 2017
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell: North Carolina Playgroup, Aug, 2017
  • Playtime; Academy Theatre, Hapeville, GA, Jul 2017
  • Character Assassination: Edge Fest 2017, Birdhouse Theatre, Milledgeville, GA,  May 2017
  • Character Assassination: Tree City Playhouse, Lourdes University, Sylvania. OH, May 2017
  • Character Assassination: Short Cuts 7, The Playgroup LLC., The Willow Theatre, Boca Raton, April 2017
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell: Lake Sumter State CollegeShort Play Festival, Leesburg, FL, April 2017
  • Character Assassination: Diez Minutos, San Miguel, Mexico, March 2017
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell; TINAG – A Showcase of 3 Award Winning Plays, Yugto Theater Ensemble., Manila, Philippines, February 2017
  • Game Day: Snowdance 10 Minute Comedy Festival, Racine, WI, February 2017
  • The Juggler: Nugget Fringe, Grass Valley, California, January 2017
  • Character Assassination: Playwrights Round Table Launch 2017, Orlando, FL January, 2017
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell; Short + Sweet Theatre Festival, Power Mac Center Spotlight at Circuit Makati., Manila, Philippines, October 2016
  • Character Assassination; North Park Playwright Festival, North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe, San Diego, Sept. 2016
  • The Visit; Thirteen is Murder, Andrews living Arts Theatre, Ft. Lauderdale, June 2016
  • Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell; Short Cuts 6, The Playgroup LLC., The Willow Theatre, Boca Raton, May 2016



  • Heave Ho; Lite 2019, Cary, NC, Mar 2019


  • The Pet Peeve Store; Lite 2019, Cary, NC, Mar 2019

First Gift (A throwback from 2013)

My first gift to my Mother-in-law was somewhat unplanned.

I met my future wife in college even though we had spent four previous Thanksgivings together without realizing it.  We went to rival High Schools for four years prior to meeting.  She was in the band front and I played the saxophone in the marching band.  Our schools played every year on Thanksgiving.  I was a pacifist from Lakewood and she twirled a rifle for Toms River South.  Had we met earlier, it is unlikely we would have hit it off.

Eventually, on a weekend that we both came home, I went to her house to have dinner with her Mother.  I had arrived before Marie got home from work and my future bride, Theresa handed me the remote so I might watch some TV while she worked in the kitchen.  I flipped for a few minutes before coming across a cartoon show.  I have been a fan of cartoons my whole life, particularly the work of the masters such as Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and Wile E. Coyote.  A cartoon came on that I had never seen before.  Later research told me that the cartoon was called “Bad Luck Blackie”, which has since been banned due to an offensive title.  The “Blackie” refers to a black cat and the “bad luck” is a central theme to this animated classic.

The thing that was particularly noteworthy about this cartoon was that it contained a level of violence so severe that Pharaoh, himself would have considered it to be gratuitous.  It begins with a large dog, a typical cartoon bulldog type, who is abusing a cute and tiny white kitten.  Actually, abuse might be too mild of an adjective as the level of malice shown by the dog would easily warrant a TVMA rating by today’s standards for sadism.  At one point, the dog appears to show mercy by giving the cat a bowl of milk as an act of contrition.  Alas, by the third lick, the poor kitten finds a rather large mousetrap smashed onto its tiny tongue.

Eventually Blackie makes his entrance and hands the kitten a whistle.  He explains that when the whistle is blown, he will appear and cross the path of the dog bringing him an appropriate dose of bad luck.  The resultant bad luck always comes in the form of an object falling from the sky and slamming into the head of the offending canine.  The story continues this way and though there are a few reversals of fortune to introduce some themes of Karma and justice, the real entertainment is the escalation of objects falling onto heads.

Starting with a flowerpot, a cash register and a steamer trunk, the sequence quickly escalates to an upright piano, a horse and several dozen bricks.  This is followed by a fire hydrant, a safe and the hackneyed, but obligatory anvil.  This little morality play ends with the dog swallowing the whistle.  This causes a spasm of hiccups resulting in his own personal hell of running through the countryside trying to avoid a continuing barrage including a bathtub, a steamroller, an airplane, a school bus and a battleship.

What makes this cartoon noteworthy is that from the first act of violence, I began to laugh…out loud.  Not only that, but the volume and duration of my laughter escalated with each act of violence on the screen.  Theresa came out to see what was going on, and about halfway through the cartoon, her mother arrived, eager to meet me.  When Theresa tried to introduce her mother, I was only able to hold up my hand as I literally was doubled over with glee.  After it was over, I made a feeble attempt to explain, but these were not cartoon people.  My future Mother-in-law was clearly confused, but was also polite as always.  By the end of the evening, I was able to convince her that I was at worst, eccentric and that her daughter was not dating someone with a mental handicap.

Anyway, back to the gift, that came later.  Marie was a hard working woman who had a domineering father, and an abusive and alcoholic husband and a minimal education.  She often held three jobs to provide her three children with all that she could and even a little more.  She sacrificed more than anyone I know and these sacrifices left her too often somber and just plain worn out.  We have very few photos of her even smiling.  Still, at any family gathering, where the subject of first meetings came up, she had a story.  This story never failed to get Marie to smile and even more, to laugh out loud.  I never meant it as a gift, but nevertheless, it was the first and other than grandchildren, the best I could ever give.

© Copyright 2013 – Robert O’Connell. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Corona7:05 AM

Something is different this morning. Yes, my wife is, as usual, sitting up in bed checking her phone. But on this fine March morning, she has deviated from her usual annoying habit of telling me the temperature outside and the temperature where each of our children are living. It’s one of those endearing…actually annoying things people do. My friend Tyrone lives in New Jersey and frequently asks my how much gas costs here in the Triangle of North Carolina as though he might drive eleven hours to save fifteen cents per gallon. What was different today was that my dear wife was giving me a series of news updates on the coronavirus.

This probably is something that previous generations dealt with from time to time. I’m sure my grandparents listened to the morning radio news for updates on the Depression and World War II. My parents were probably glued to their TV screens during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember watching the Today Show every morning during which Frank Blair would update us on the Vietnam War. Even my kids check their online newsfeed every day to keep abreast of the issues that are important to them…like who was revealed on the last episode of The Masked Singer.

8:55 AM

We were headed to a local Bagel place to pick up egg sandwiches to take to a senior living community in nearby Apex. No, we were not going there to feed anyone, rather, we were going to have our taxes done for free by the AARP group. We were going early to get in front of the line as seniors are both early and slow. We figured it was better to sit in the lobby and have breakfast so we’d get out before next year’s tax season.

We passed the hospital along the way and my wife gave a little wave as we passed by. I asked her what that was all about and she said her friend and co-worker was having surgery that day. I asked why she wasn’t at the hospital, and she said, “Are you nuts? That’s the worst place you can be. The hospital is crawling with germs.” She then continued to regale me with a dizzying array of statistics about coronavirus including its spread, impact, incubation and parallels with the flu.

Part of this indoctrination includes the importance of touching your face. There is a rather hilarious video compilation of disease experts, newspersons and politicians speaking at news conferences explaining this and then almost immediately and overtly touching their own faces. It’s kind of like introducing a Gun Control bill while on safari hunting black rhinos.

For some reason, as she is explaining this to me, I mention that she must have touched her face when applying the makeup she is wearing. I also may have mentioned that it seemed that she may have over-applied it this morning. My tactlessness aside, I assured her that I only mentioned it because it rarely happens and it reminded me of the waitress we had in Charlotte last weekend who was surprisingly overly made up for someone so young. This seemed to successfully change the subject, but when I looked up from my phone, she was rubbing her face as though Barack and Michelle Obama popped in unexpectedly during her minstrel show. Mental note…too much makeup overrides health protocols.

9:20 AM

As we walk from the car toward the lobby of the “The Home”, we see an elderly woman coming out wearing a mask. This is the type of mask that has been determined to be completely useless against coronavirus, but still is being hoarded by profiteers and the paranoid. “Wouldn’t this place be almost as bad as a hospital?”, I wonder.

9:30 AM

While we wait, my wife is listing the companies in Seattle that are closing for the next month and allowing people to work at home. She also is reading about how the airline industry is getting murdered since people are reluctant to fly. This is relevant as our daughter in Charlotte is scheduled to fly to Seattle in two weeks to visit her brother, who lives there in the Ballard section. This is starting to concern us.

Westchester County: Man with virus goes to temple. Now dozens are in quarantine.

New Hampshire: Man leaves quarantine to go to event at Dartmouth College.

Seattle: CenturyLink Field vendor test positive for virus.

Now, I am quite confident that my daughter is unlikely to set foot in a temple, and Ivy League campus or an XFL game, but eventually this disease is surely going to make it into brew pubs.

11:45 AM

Our taxes are done and we’re getting a few bucks back. As much as I’d like to needle my wife with a “Thank God for Trump”, I’m already in the doghouse over the makeup comment. I check my Facebook feed and notice a post from a former student who is now a professor in Seattle. He mentioned to someone that he prefers to get his coronavirus information from legitimate scientific sources rather than the media. As a result, the person somehow compared my friend’s approach to acting like Donald Trump. As this clearly made no sense, I was about to post to my friend, the suggestion that he not lower himself into a debate with a lunatic and ignore the bait leading to a pointless argument. Instead, I just posted on his feed, “He’s obviously been infected!!! Burn him!!!”. At least my friend will get a laugh before dying.

Regarding science vs. the fear-mongering media, we had dinner a few nights ago with my son-in-law, who has a PhD in epidemiology, which is basically the study of diseases on populations. There was good news and bad news and quite frankly, I’m not sure which was worse. While Taiwan and Vietnam seem to have put forth an efficient and effective response to the disease, Americans might be in deep doo-doo due to our shitty healthcare system, particularly for the poor, and our equally shitty employee sick-time policies, again, mostly for the poor.

We learned the flu is indeed worse than coronavirus in many ways and that our pitiful impact on fighting the flu does not bode well for this new puppy. Death from coronavirus is pretty much only a threat to those patients under 5 and over 70 years old. The original name of Coronavirus, AKA COVID-19, novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is SARS2. Now you tell me, what was the good news?

2:25 PM

Trump declares that the coronavirus will not be as bad as reported by scientists. His findings are based on “a hunch”.

2:27 PM

Trump cancels his visit to the Center for Disease Control citing “safety concerns”. Another hunch?

4:50 PM

Princess cruise ship carrying thousands is still meandering outside San Francisco Bay as a helicopter drops testing kits. The ship spent two weeks in Mexico and Hawaii (not Asia) and has several ailing crewmembers and passengers. A passenger on the previous cruise on this ship passed away from the virus last week. My wife contacts Royal Caribbean to find out the refund policy for our upcoming cruise in September.

7:15 PM

We try to relax in front of the TV, but it’s not the same. My attempt to hold her hand is met with a spray of hand sanitizer. I gently remind my sweetheart that all of the store shelves have been stripped of this no precious elixir, and we may want to save it to spray the mail, or neighbors. She tries to stifle a cough, a remnant from her cold of last week, but she knows I heard it, and slid to the extreme edge of the sofa.

10:35 PM

We try to put all of this behind us as we snuggle into bed. We know that we will both be reading the overnight reports in the morning. At least we are in this together. We lightly give each other a good night peck before turning away and vigorously rubbing our mouths with a Lysol wipe.

The Itis (A throwback from December of 2013)

My son is a senior in college, so we speak infrequently. I raised him well enough that he stays out of trouble and manages his finances well. As a result, he never calls me. When I do decide to call him, it’s usually between 4:30 and 5:30 PM trying to find a time between his work and classes, and my Early Bird dinner and NCIS. During the rare conversations when he actually picks up the phone, he often mentions having “The Itis”.  It’s at this point that I realize that he only picked up the call because he was in too deep of a stupor to screen it.

“The Itis” is defined in The Urban Dictionary as the drowsy feeling you get after a big meal. Unlike Thanksgiving, where bingeing is combined with tryptophan, a sleep inducing chemical found in turkey, the itis is all about excess. Of course, my son and his generation misuse the term as they do for most of the English language, applying the itis to all forms of bingeing behavior including binge studying, binge drinking, binge tv watching and God only knows what else. What primarily struck me as odd, however, was his use of the definite article “The” in front of the ailment.

I thought about the fact that some diseases or medical conditions seem to be naturally preceded by an article or pronoun while many are not. I recalled my friend Jimmy recently mentioning to me that he had “The Gout”. Instead of commiserating, or asking if it would affect our golf outings, I immediately said, “Dude, Ben Franklin had the gout. I’m pretty sure that you just have gout.” Since golf was out due to Jimmy’s writhing in pain, I decided to look more deeply into this phenomenon.

I have the flu.

I have a cold.

I have cancer.

I suppose if people were to still use influenza rather than flu, they would drop the article. I’m also not sure why it was shortened from four syllables to one. While it is mildly expedient, we do not call leukemia “the Luke” or “the Keem” or impetigo “the Tige”. Also you take a flu shot to prevent the flu. Since it is a specific vaccine to prevent many types of flu, shouldn’t it be “you take the flu shot to prevent a flu?”

There are other difficulties with the definite (the) and indefinite (a) articles. We tend to say that “My kid has the measles”, or “My kid has the mumps” even though it’s unlikely that they have only one, yet one might specify “I’ve got a bum ticker” as though they are relieved to have another as a backup. Hemorrhoids are always plural and are unmodified, while “the red” ass is singular and always uses the definite article. Diarrhea is unmodified, but we say “the trots”, or “the runs”.

Sometimes the specificity of the ailment affects its usage. I am not referring to borderline ailments like “the hiccups” or colloquial euphemisms like “the heebie-jeebies”.  You’d say “I have syphilis”, or “I have gonorrhea”, but if you were being general, you’d say “I have the clap”. I’m pretty sure that either “I have crabs” or “I have the crabs” is acceptable.

I have also found that certain pronouns tend to become attached to particular maladies.  I’m not talking about new-age pronoun usage like “we’re pregnant”. I mean true medical emergencies such as “Doctor, I have this rash”, or “I have this discharge”.

When discussing this with my friend Tyrone, he pointed out that age was not the only factor affecting the way people referred to health-related terms. He said that all of his relatives in or from the South always modify diabetes as “sugar diabetes”. While I do not feel this has the homespun quaintness of “sweet tea”, it seems to include a warning or treatment option in its redundancy. Calling lung cancer “the smoke cancer” certainly would not be less of a deterrent.

I can imagine a conversation between a young doctor from Connecticut doing his residency in a rural Arkansas hospital and an older patient.

“So tell me a little bit about your medical history Mr. Pickett. Do you mind if I call you Cletus?”

“That’d be fine Dr. Steen-burg. I got the sugar diabetes and a touch of the gout, least when it rains a lot.”

“What about your parents?”

“Well, my Daddy died from a bacon stroke.”

“And your Mother?”

“She rolled the tractor clean into the irrigation pond. We never found out was it her heart, the fall, or the drownin’ that killed her. She did have the Crisco coronary artery disease, I reckon.”

“I see. Well, I’m going to need you to stand up and cough for me.”

“Son, I don’t know much about doctorin’, but if you’re thinkin’ ‘bout puttin’ them there fingers on these here testicles, you’re gonna hafta order up a few more doctors.”

I found a few more to add to my list.

The plague

The DTs

The gunshot wound

A fever

A migraine

A coma

This itch

These spots

That virus

I’ll leave it up to you to continue my research. Quite frankly, I’ve got the itis. I hope I can make it to NCIS Los Angeles.

© Copyright 2013 – Robert O’Connell. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Window into the Past

I recently went to a consignment shop in Durham with my wife. I saw that they had a large stack of Durham Sun newspapers from the early 1960’s. They were ten cents apiece. I looked through them and picked out about sixty cents worth, figuring that it might be interesting to see what was going on in The Triangle when I was five or six years old and living in New Jersey. I must admit that I found the exercise to be quite illuminating and have decided to share some of my findings. I tried to break the stories up in some sensible groupings.


The earliest of the papers I read were from November 23rd and 24th, 1963, which were the two days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I’ve seen dozens


of banner headlines reporting the death and Mourning of JFK, but these provided more insight into the case against Lee Harvey Oswald. 3Ironically, the article in the Sunday paper outlining the case against Oswald was read by many people after Oswald had already been shot and killed by Jack Ruby at 11:21AM Dallas time.2


There was a story about J.D. Tippitt, the police officer shot and killed by Oswald fleeing the Book Depository. Check out the salary and benefits bestowed on a 39-year old cop in a major city with a wife and three kids. Sheesh!






This last one surprised me. Kennedy actually did not pick the route, but did approve it. Sensationalized journalism has obviously been around for a while.






Lyndon Baines Johnson became President quite unexpectedly, but quickly faced the same crap that they do today. 7Here is crap from Fidel Castro, crap about Viet Nam, 9and crap from future opponent for the Presidency, Barry 8Goldwater, who suggested that Johnson would lead us to atomic warfare. Who’d have thought that a Republican would resort to hyperbolic threats to scare voters into choosing him?





Ooh, look! Studebaker is closing its U.S. manufacturing operations. Thank goodness that the auto industry is so strong in 2020.

91Takeaways from today’s Alley Oop… 1.) Mrs. Oop has is pretty sexy in that above-the-knee, strapless loincloth. 2.) She appears to be telling Oop that she is with child. 3.) Oop does not seem happy. 4.) Roe v. Wade is still 20,000 years in the future. In tomorrow’s episode…The Oops go to see the Witch Doctor!!!911

Progress, YES! Political correctness, NOT YET!



Good things to come…912

I see two National Championships in your future.



I have a feeling that this sport will become big someday.







Ray Floyd…22 tour victories, 4 majors, 1 TPC championship, 14 Senior victories, 4 Senior majors.





We were wrong…


Loudmouth Cassius Clay claims to want to fight Liston. Nonsense, he’d be killed. He ain’t all that.



An on-sides kick with 14 seconds left in the first half leading 35-0…and “Perhaps” you made a mistake? You abso-fucking-lutely made a mistake!









You’re wrong, Frank McGuire. Notice that UCLA is undefeated. I’ll bet they win this one and nine more out of the next eleven!








General sports interest918

Hank Aaron leads the league in Slugging Average. I found this odd as for the first half of my life, offensive baseball stats were all about the big three, Home Runs, RBIs and Batting Average. Only recently have Batting Average and RBIs been discredited as being poor measures of offensive performance. Slugging average along with On Base Percentage are much more valued today. The list of leaders includes future Hall-of-Famers Aaron, McCovey, Mays, Matthews, Cepeda and Frank Robinson. Robinson had led the league the previous three years for the Reds who somehow decided to trade him three seasons hence to the Orioles for good-but-not-great pitcher, Milt Pappas. Frank Robinson won a Triple Crown in his first season with the Orioles.

Dick “Night Train” Lane, missing a game? That’s rare. He was one of the toughest players 919to ever grace a football field and was on the NFL’s 75th year All-Time Team. Wait, he’s missing the game due to the death of his wife? She must have been pretty young. Wait, he was married to Dinah Washington…the jazz singer, the best-selling black artist of the 50’s, the Queen of the Blues? How had I never heard of this? I know I was only five, but I have been immersed in both football and jazz for my entire life. He was her seventh (and obviously final) husband. She died in her sleep from an accidental drug overdose of barbiturates. It made me think of other pairings of great athletes and performers. Were they the best? David Beckham and that Spice Girl? Nah, Dinah was much bigger. Brady and Bundchen? A model? Pass. Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union? C’mon, she hosts a reality show. Russell Wilson and Ciara? I’ll still take Dinah. J-Lo and A-Rod? Maybe, but they ain’t married yet.


Ooh, a space telescope! Wait, the Hubble telescope won’t be launched for 27 more years. Oh, this telescope fell to earth after the balloons lifting it into space broke free. Yes, a 30-foot-high telescope costing 2.5 million dollars (in 1963 money), was lifted into space using tandem six-story high balloons to lift it high enough to get a better look at Jupiter. What could go wrong?



This sounds high-tech.




This inexpensive advancement in the crotch-related sciences would lead to generations of yeast infections and the subsequent development of Monistat and Vagisil.923



This has nothing to do with technology other than the cool graphic used in the ad. That is a Mercury capsule, the same Friendship 7 one used by John Glenn a year earlier in as the first man to orbit the earth. It has nothing to do with diamonds, but the price is right.




Cape Canaveral is keeping busy with two launches in one day. Sadly, it will be renamed Cape Kennedy in a matter of924 days. In a side note, Aldous Huxley passed away. Besides being a great author, he was also a pacifist and humanist. If only he were alive today to see the amazing progress we have made in these two areas of…oh, wait…never mind…



90 days…for what, you ask? Protesting segregati925on. Yes, two PhD Professors, molders of young minds, jailed for three months for a peaceful protest. Today, rapists who just attend college serve less time. I wonder what murderers got back then…



Nothing! This guy was acquitted of murdering his wife…not just his first wife, either. He already got away killing the first one! Oh, wait…apparently, they were only women. Thankfully, women have achieved full equality in 2020, right?











This is bad…really bad. All of this was during my lifetime. I grew up in a Puerto Rican enclave in a black neighborhood of a very mixed town in New Jersey. This just wasn’t a thing in my life. This want ad was a regular thing in the God-damned newspaper!




This headline seems to have a modicum of progressiveness, but why, Mr. Newspaper Man, are the quotes around the word ‘dissatisfied’? Is this some subtle message that negroes are malingerers or that they have no business being dissatisfied and should be happy to have low-paying jobs? In other words, WTF?

930931Remember the Duke vs. UCLA in the NCAA final thing from earlier? They got there by beating Michigan in the Semi-final game. This was on the front page. The praise of the Wolverines two star players, Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin was effusive. “These two great Negro stars were unable to turn the tide against well-prepared and smartly coached Duke.” Thankfully, today, basketball stars are no longer called Negros, but well-prepared and smartly coached are sadly, still code words for “White”.


Does anyone eat cottage cheese anymore? Not only does this sound disgusting, the grayscale newsprint photo makes it look even less appealing.

Here are some food prices of the day…




Unsafe at any speed, unsafe at any price.



Free turkey with a car!


Twenty cent sundae…Booyah!!!


$7.50 for snow tires!

954                     Feed 7 for $3.30!952955




Two nights 953for $8.95!


Shoes for 2 bucks!





I just reviewed this play a few months ago. 937It is based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” about a teacher who was prosecuted for teaching evolution in the classroom. The trial took place in 1925, the play written in 1955, became a movie in 1960, was relevant enough to be performed here in 1964, and sadly, is still relevant today.



I have no explanation for these.





The churches, schools and the local bank were all behind this. We beat polio. What, the Hell is wrong with the anti-vaxers?







Santa is coming…by chopper?

942Surprisingly, none of the vintage versions of these games would be worth much more than fifteen bucks today. This dude, 943however, could go for over a grand today. Nice profit from a $13.88 investment.





9561964 Polara

Worth more today…




I actually have this one.




Here are some other gift ideas…



Memorable Sports Moments


I’d like to try something a bit different. This is an Audience Participation Post. Once in a while, while speaking with friends, the subject of sports participation comes up. I sometimes ask about people’s most memorable sports-related story. It might be participatory, or as a fan. It might be a great triumph or the agony of defeat. Here are some examples…

My first round of golf in Florida was with my house painter at The Carolina Club in Margate. On the par 3 9th hole, I hit a high iron that landed and stuck 4 inches from the pin. I was going to get my first birdie. It

was a steamy August afternoon and before we could even get into our cart to head for the green, the skies opened up for a 20-minute deluge. When I eventually got to the green, my ball sat in an inch-and-a-half puddle of water with the top barely exposed. I tried to putt it, but all I did was soak my golf shoes.

One of my daughters was placed in the leadoff position for the championship game of her rec softball league. She went five for five with three singles and two doubles. I was a proud papa. Some years later when I brought it up to her, she said that she only remembered one thing from that day. She said that she was so nervous that she just decided to swing at the first pitch to get it over with and that she was lucky that the pitcher happened to throw it over the plate.

My other daughter was asked to bunt in a rec league softball game. She fouled the ball into her mouth and the force of the ball caused her braces to become embedded into her lip requiring a trip to the orthodontist.

I have a friend who was a very good high school pitcher. Even with his success, his best memory is snapping off a perfect curveball to an extremely powerful hitter with two strikes on him. He said the ball was less

than two inches off the plate when the batted reached down and golfed the ball some 450 feet, well beyond the outfield fence. He said it was memorable because everybody on the field including his teammates and coach simultaneously went “Ooooooh” and then burst out laughing.

I have a son-in-law who blew out his knee participating in college sports. Unfortunately, it happened while he was circling the court carrying a gigantic flag during a women’s basketball game. He also once received a purple-nurple from Shaq (see below)!


I would like my readers to read my “moment” on the Facebook thread associated with this blogpost. I would further ask you to provide your sports highlight in the thread. It should be fun. If you want to preserve your anonymity of don’t have Facebook access, email me, and I’ll share your story with no name. It would also help if you shared the post with your peeps to expand the fun (and of course, my blog).

Looking back, I was surprised to find that I had a surprising number of sports-related entries previously published herein. Feel free to check them out. Some are elegies, some are nostalgic, some are humorous and some are alleged art.



© Robert O’Connell and, 2011-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full

and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



But I Digress…

20190529_192827It’s been nearly a year since I posted to this blog. I have had a difficult time feeling comedic during that time, and it does not look like things are likely to improve any time soon. I’ve still been writing theater reviews and plays (which I will post soon), but it’s time to get back to the blog, novels, and short stories that have been building up in my brain. For my small number of fans, I thank you for your patience…and for the rest of you, my profound apologies.

It is a Tuesday morning here in the Triangle, and I am on my way from my home in Cary, NC, just outside of Raleigh, and headed for Durham, approximately 25 miles to the northwest. For those who are unaware of the local geography, the Triangle is the area bounded by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, homes to NC State, Duke and UNC, respectively. The traffic here is nothing compared to my previous areas of residence in North Jersey and South Florida, but it can be bad at rush hour. It was also raining quite heavily.

You may wonder why an unemployed person would choose to travel in the rain or at rush hour, let alone both. In a nutshell, I’m trying to be a good uncle. My niece moved to Durham from New Mexico over the Summer to start a doctoral program at Duke University. She also is working full-time as a midwife after serving her country in Afghanistan as a translator in the Army. She is the daughter of my brother, and I hadn’t seen her for some 25 years. I figured I needed to make up for lost time.

Speaking of the art of being a midwife, I was mildly surprised to learn that the noun form for this practice is called midwifery. This makes sense, but the pronunciation may not. While midwife has a long “i”, as in “wife”, midwifery (mid-wahy-fuh-ree) is typically pronounced with a short “i” as in “whiff” (mid-wif-uh-ree). This just sounds funny to me as well as confusing and a bit pointless.

For those of you familiar with baseball jargon, you may be aware that the term “whiff” refers to a strikeout, specifically a swinging strikeout. Midwifery sounds as though it might refer to the midpoint of a whiff. This would be the point in time where the bat passes through the strike zone simultaneously with the pitch traveling unimpeded in the opposite direction. I suppose that since a strikeout requires three strikes, midwifery could also refer to the second strike, making it mid-whiff.

I actually did find one source that includes mid-wif-uh-ree as acceptable and also mid-wif-ree and mid-wahy-ree, both dropping the third syllable…but I digress…

My niece has a cat named TT and when she decided to take a well-deserved vacation to Hawaii after her semester ended, she asked me to drop in a few times to take care of TT. I am not an animal lover and have a particular disdain for cats. If you need any additional proof of my forthrightness, it is extremely unlikely that I will ever need the services of a midwife, nor need anything translated to or from Pashto, Farsi or Urdu.

When I arrived, I had a difficult time opening the apartment door with the electronic key fob. While I have never had a big problem using traditional keys, I am aware that technology continues to roll forward, crushing all senior citizens in its path.

Speaking of soul-crushing progress…have you been to the supermarket lately? A dozen or more registers sit idle while one is open. Five people with overfilled carts are waiting in line. There’s even a line at the self-checkout where one employee who clearly is incapable of handling a real register, is standing around while six people stare blankly at their screen trying to find rutabaga on the produce menu. Where are all the employees? They are in the aisles, picking orders for the millennials who are too busy to do their own shopping and are willing to pay an upcharge so they have more time to drink their $7 mochaccino-fucking-latte…but I digress…

While I am aware that every television detective or MacGyver wannabe, no matter how amateur, can pick any lock in less time than the average Geico ad, I’ve never met anyone who could actually do so. I haven’t even ever heard of anyone ever owning or using a set of lock picks. I have to vouch for the added security of this particular lock setup. I actually had the key fob, and it took me fifteen minutes to get in. The entire time, I can hear TT freaking out, expecting her mommy (my niece) instead of a curmudgeonly old cat-hater.

I fill TT’s food dish and top off her water. This oddball cat will only drink out of actual drinking glass. I then go to clean the litterbox. Something is not right. The amount of waste in this litterbox is well beyond what TT could have possibly produced in the two days since I had last cleaned it. I swear that it was more excrement that I could produce on day 3 of a cruise. I check for evidence that TT must have left some bones or entrails from a mouse or rat or badger. I found nothing. Could she have found the container of cat food? Unlikely, since it took me three minutes to open it. Is there a cat door that might allow eight or ten other cats to pop over for book club or a movie night?

Alas, some questions will never be answered. I sat and pet TT for an hour or so, and then headed for home. It only took me ten minutes to lock the door. I’ll have to be satisfied that I can be a good uncle. I’ve been away from the blog for a while, and I know this is a rambling post, but I hope to get more focused and start cranking out some regular stuff in the coming weeks and months.



© Robert O’Connell and, 2011-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



You Don’t Have to Kiss Me Back