MODERN WISDOM NUMBER 176
Copyright 2013 Francis DiMenno
AND NOW…MODERN WISDOM PRESENTS:
1. YOUR POWER IS ALSO YOUR PRISON
2. THE END OF LANGUAGE
3. UNCLE DINK
4. THE ALL-ENCOMPASSING ONE
5. THE RACE HATRED HOUR
6. SISTER CULTURE
7. KID SATAN
8. HUNGER MOON
9. THE RAIN GODS
10. ONE LAST SUMMER OF GRAND ILLUSION
11. AMERICAN ASSHOLE
12. CARNY ISLAND
13. MY NOVEL
14. ALL MY EYE
15. AREA SNEAK
17. HANGMAN’S BALL
19. MR SWEETHEART
20. THAT “THAT”
21. NOIR MISFORTUNE COOKIES
501. They are never going to stop kicking your dog around.
502. Famed for reliability. No. They call you a “real liability”.
503. Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms; not only a Bureau–your hobbies.
504. Your Heart is made of Stone; your Jaw, of Glass.
505. Haven’t you heard the news? You’re all washed up.
506. The hangovers never used to be that bad before.
507. You learned, too late, that things are different in The South.
508. Don’t try to do the thinking–it doesn’t suit you.
509. Your life has been a Carnival–a Carnival of Crime.
510. Nobody’s fooled–everybody knows your name and your alias.
511. They will hunt you like the rabid dog you are.
512. You’re the biggest drunk in town–and it’s a big town.
513. Someday you will pay and that someday is right now.
514. You’re impossible to kill but they will find a way.
515. You are never lonely, for you are surrounded by enemies.
516. Midgets are good luck, until they shoot you.
517. She is nothing like the Little Girl you once knew.
518. Big mistake–referring to The Don as “Fatso”.
519. No more Sex Kittens for you–only the sad Cat Lady.
520. Like Jesus, you will die for someone else’s sins.
521. Eating this Fortune Cookie ensures a lifetime of misfortune.
522. Even the Psychotics whisper that you are completely insane.
523. Are you really Paranoid? Only They know for sure.
524. Listen, Hillbilly–Leave the musket. Take the pork rinds.
525. He who laughs last will be the first to die.
526. Your craven drunken partner does not got your back.
527. You are World Class all right–a World Class Chump.
528. Even the indulgent priest will never absolve you.
529. She’s either started smoking cheap cigars–or there’s another man.
530. Coward! You left your Men behind, to die in Tiger Cages.
531. The Early Bird gets helplessly swept up in the Dragnet.
532. Even your most educated guesses are illiterate.
533. Nobody gets fat by standing in the Big Man’s limelight.
534. Only change the Dame and the tale will be told of you.
535. You always said you wanted nothing, and now you got it.
536. Hunchbacks are lucky; all YOUR hunches have been dead wrong.
537. You’ve gone straight–why must they drag you back in?
538. Take only the clothes on your back and flee town–now.
539. They can easily prove your story is nothing but lies.
540. Poor Fool. You were so sure you could outsmart The Brain.
541. Your dog will accidentally maul the Boss’s youngest son.
542. This isn’t over–they aren’t through with you yet.
543. They’re not afraid of you and they will kick your ass.
544. They’ll find you long before you manage to find them.
545. They thoroughly discussed you. You thoroughly disgust them.
546. You’re acting like a dizzy sap over that two-timing Dame.
547. You’ll never breathe easy until all the witnesses are dead.
548. Chase her all you want–catch her, and you’ll be sorry.
549. They’ll call you ‘Chuckles’ because you never smile.
550. You’ll forever think the Fuzz are breathing down your neck.
551. You’ll beg for cheap liquor in a bar you once owned.
552. All men love the darkness, for their deeds are evil.
553. You will soon see even more of the world’s backside.
554. Very few people can match your callow, vain stupidity.
555. It’s a GOOD Sterno; it’s not a GREAT Sterno.
556. Your apartment smells like cat piss; you don’t own a cat.
557. You had better change your mind; it’s full of shit.
558. A million men and a million dollars can never be defeated.
559. Didn’t you even know enough to get out of their way?
560. You have lit the firecracker at both ends.
561. Hatred of you shall unite all feuding clans.
562. Your long nightmare is only just beginning.
563. When elephants dance, the dwarves must die.
564. At the Laughing Academy a padded room awaits you.
565. They tolerate your cowardly fear; it is fun to watch.
566. The strangers watch your house for a very good reason.
567. The Boss once found you entertaining; you bore him now.
568. No excuse can possibly explain your sinister behavior.
569. Your troubles will never end; not even in the grave.
570. You will never be permitted to atone for your sins.
571. You won’t know what you are until you lose it.
572. People are much happier when you’re not around.
573. You will never be allowed to eat solid food again.
574. You will die a million deaths, and yet live.
575. It is far from over. It will never truly be over.
576. A daily apple keeps away doctors–not policemen.
577. Justice will always be a luxury you can never afford.
578. None of the gossip about you can be refuted.
579. Enjoy your day; it may well be your last.
580. You are too experienced to ever be optimistic again.
581. Your marriage is made in Heaven but lived in Hell.
582. The explanation is a simple one: They all lied.
583. Survivor’s Guilt? You are fooling absolutely nobody.
584. You are far more spinned against than spinning.
585. Destiny whistles through your hollow existence.
586. Your wife will always put her business before your pleasure.
587. You are wearing a mask which will eat your soul.
588. A hand which you know not shall lay you dead.
589. You know everything, and yet you can do nothing.
590. What are your saving yourself for? You die tomorrow.
591. You’re living on borrowed time; now they want it back.
592. You are wise to run away, but not THAT way.
593. The man with the gun is looking strangely at you.
594. Bums will ask you for directions to the homeless shelter.
595. Magical Thinking? Magical Lack of Thinking will do you in.
596. The small, still voice inside you says you must die.
597. They’ll call you the cutest serial killer on Death Row.
598. She’s a smart cookie–too smart for your own good.
599. You have the virtue of being consistent–consistently troubled.
600. Dignity and self-respect are words you’ve only dimly heard of.
22. I WOULD BE PERFECTLY HAPPY IF I NEVER AGAIN SAW ANOTHER MOVIE WITH A…
Man causing a disruption in the lobby of a corporate skyscraper, and
the victim yelling, “Security! Security!” (Also seen in a hospital
Man causing a disruption in the main room of a castle, and the lackey
yelling, “Guards! Guards!” (Also seen in Arabian souk setting.)
Venal small-town sheriff with a sloppy pot-belly and a hick accent
thick enough to cut with a bandsaw.
Obviously postcoital couple lolling nakedly in bed.
Group of five friends, one of whom dies.
Protagonist pausing after extended butchery to make witty remark, then
rushing away because he’s in a hurry.
Singing chain gang.
Guy working at the morgue and eating a sandwich.
Guy who gets the girl in the end
Guy who gets the guy in the end
Hooker with a heart of gold.
Group of people learning life lessons.
Magical black person.
Bitchy mother in-law.
Ugly smart girl who is actually hot.
Sassy black woman.
Cop drinking cold coffee from a takeout cup.
Wise old asian guy.
Gay best friend.
Crew of zombified children.
Computer password found on the first or second try.
Fist fights that take place on top of trains
Pregnant woman in stalled elevator.
Destruction of the statue of liberty.
Person of color who can’t get a bank loan.
Stuffy businessmen infinitely willing to degrade themselves for money.
Loaf of french bread sticking out of a bag of groceries.
Man going into a bar and saying “gimme a beer” and the bartender hands
him one, apparently feeling no need to ask him what kind.
Old white person rapping/breakdancing/talking jive.
Really drunk character suddenly becoming sober.
Pages falling or being torn off a calendar to denote the passage of time.
Running to the airport to get the girl at the gate before she leaves
the country forever.
Protagonist is attacked by one or more people wielding machine guns.
He never gets hit but manages to pick off his foes one by one with
well aimed pistol shots.
Teacher keeping a hot student late after school
Tenant who can’t pay his or her rent.
Doctor who says he needs to give an attractive patient a “physical.”
Single tear running down a cheek.
Guy catching an attractive female burglar.
Girl waiting for a ride and a limo pulling up.
Car driving through a fruit stand really fast.
Man turning his back to another man, and then turning around and decking him.
Hero with a gun that never runs out of bullets.
Person always finding parking space right in front of where they’re going.
Post-apocalyptic scenario where only several people survive, set in
some unspecified desert.
Wise child, hobo, Negro, or wise child accompanied by a wise Negro hobo.
A super-hot white, or black, or Asian or Hispanic babe, who is not
only a law enforcement official with an expertise in forensic science,
but she also has a sassy “don’t take no shit” attitude.
Go-go-go success-obsessed businessman/woman who by chance meets
and eventually falls for the laid back daydreamer type, thus learning
more to life than making money.
Naked whore dies.
A non-fatal gunshot wound to the shoulder.
A maverick cop teamed with a by-the-rules partner.
Significant message left on an answering machine.
Woman crouched in the shower crying and trying to scrub away the memory.
Man who ducks down into the NYC subway, boarding the train just as
doors are closing, at that same moment the pursuer spots him, but is
too late to stop him.
AND CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A MORITORIUM ON THE FOLLOWING SCENES:
Scene in which a spreading fireball fills a tunnel, a boy whistling
his dog to him, and the animal then leaping into a convenient doorway
with nanoseconds to spare.
Scene in which money is flung into another character’s face.
Scene in which the protagonist miraculously manages to knock out the
seemingly invulnerable psycho axe murderer out, Then, invariably, he
walks up to him to make sure that he’s knocked out, oinly he isn’t.
Scene in which a person’s leg is injured when being able to walk is of
A hero’s death scene accompanied by eerie music.
A courtyard or public square filled with flying doves or pigeons.
AND CAN WE ALSO PLEASE RETIRE THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE:
“There’s no time for that now! We’ve got to get you out of here!”
“Never mind that….”
“I might as well tell you everything, since you’ve got me dead to rights….”
“I might as well tell you everything, since there’s no way you’ll be
able to stop me….”
AND WHY IS IT THAT:
If there’s only one person who smokes, ninety-nine times out of 100,
they’re the villain. Eaters of red meat are also suspect.
When a disturbing dream forces a protagonist to gasp, he always sits
bolt upright in bed, and is instantly 100% awake.
Some creepy old local guy always issues a cryptic warning to the
The busy dad never eats breakfast.
The kids always go right off to bed.
The shots of ‘the big city’ always include a rap or rock music soundtrack.
Everybody always says hello to the hero as he arrives at work.
Nobody says hello or goodbye during a phone call.
Previously operational automobiles fail to start at the worst possible moment.
23. HAPPYLAND: SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS
I completely missed out on the Beach Boys.
At the time of their peak popularity, I didn’t much listen to the radio, and, when I did, i tended to favor, in my infantine fashion, folk music, show tunes, movie themes, and suchlike. In that way, my taste was similar to that of President John F. Kennedy.
Besides, my childhood was full of hidden hazards.
First and foremost was “The Boogie Man”.
My best friend Harold Bauer (pointing under a decrepit porch): Don’t go there.
HB: That’s where the Boogie Man lives.
For another thing, you had to always watch what you said. In first
grade I got paddled by the nun for uttering the vile oath “Son of a
You also had to watch what you did. If you had an open fly (and WHY
was it called a “fly”, anyway?) you would hear the mocking sing-song
refrain, “Kennywood’s open!” [Kennywood was the local amusement
You had to make constant decisions which were matters, of not of life
and death, the at the very least of a pain-free vs. a pain-filled
existence. For instance, you had to learn to shun the following
paradoxical question: “Yes is no and no is yes. Do you want me to hit
Then there was the highly charged and extremely emotional game of “Gestapo”:
“Gestapo” officer: Vat iss your name?
“Gestapo” officer (smacking me in the face): YOU LIE!!
And various other games in which your foot would be stepped on:
Bully: “Say ‘Captain'”.
Bully (stomping on my foot): “CRUNCH!!”
Bully: “Say ‘Postage'”.
Bully (stomping on my foot): “STAMP!!”
Bully: “Want a Hertz Donut?”
Said bully then punches me in the arm and says “Hurts, don’t it?”
If you were a boy you soon learned not to broadcast the fact that it
was your birthday, because of Birthday Punches administered in the
amount of your age by every other boy in the class, the last such
punch invariably being the hardest, followed by “one for luck” (or
“One to grow on”) and sometimes “two for flinching.”
In Sixth grade gym class:
One time in gym a kid hit me in the head with a basketball. “What’d
you do that for?” bellowed the coach. “I couldn’t miss it,” said the
kid. Laughter ensued.
Finally, by the time you started going to shop class in the seventh
grade, you’d start to meet some really dangerous kids. And if you used
the snappy comeback on a wrongo, your wheel would most assuredly be
Putcho: “What are YOU looking at?”
Me (unwisely): “I don’t know–I haven’t figured out yet!
[Violence and concomitant grievous bodily injury ensues.]
But during the summer our days and nights were also filled with
childish taunts, pranks, tricks and fiendish games.
“What do you want–a medal? Or a chest to pin it on?”
“There’s your girlfriend!”
“No, she’s YOUR girlfriend!”
“No, she’s your girlfriend!”
“You know what?”
“Made you look, made you look, made you buy a quarter book.”
and the even more inexplicable:
“Tattle tales hang on pig tales.”
The all-purpose retort:
“I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks
right to you.”
“Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt me.”
(Trouble is, in my neighborhood, this was seen as an invitation to
come after me with a big stick.)
“Last time I heard that one I fell off my dinosaur and broke my stone
And it seemes as though whenever I tried to do anything mischievous at
all, there would be my little sister to say, in a scandalized voice,
“Ooooooh! I’m TELLIN’!” To which I would say “What are
ya…scaaaaared?” To which she would reply, “Nuh-uuuuh! Mom said!” To
which I would reply, “Shut up.” To which she would say, “I don’t shut
up, I grow up and when I look at you, I throw up.”
Usque ad nauseam ad infinitum.
Then there were the arguments over anything at all:
“I know you are but what am I?”
Oh yeah? Make me!
To which the proper reply was, “I don’t MAKE trash, I BURN it.”
And the optional response:
Yeah, well God made me and God don’t make trash!
Girls would play skipping games:
Cinderella met a fella…
A sailor went to sea-sea-sea…
Number one took the cookies from the cookie jar…
Boys would play tag games all night, notably one with the imaginative
name of “It-tag.” When playing “Prisoner’s base” (which we called
when the game was over, some kids would say “Olly, olly in come free!”
or even “Olly Olly Ox in free.”
Our version was “Olly Olly in free.”
When I was eight I remember how on summer nights we would also just
sit around under the streetlamps as late as ten p.m. and simply talk.
On such occasions we would occasionall indulge in choosing games. One
such had a peculiar rhyme which went as follows:
Three six nine
The goose drank wine
The monkey chewed tobacco on the railroad line
The line broke
The monkey got choked
[Final line recited in a lilting voice:]
And they all went to heaven in a little row-boat.
On my dying day I will surely be looking up to the sky and if I pass
away with a smile on my lips you will know for sure that the last
thing I saw on this earth was “a little rowboat.”