Posts Tagged ‘the bad economy’

Maybe at least it’s a Jimmy Caravaggio

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

By Tiber 

Dad’s financial woes have come to this. He decided to sell our Caravaggio. (I didn’t show it here).

We’ve had this miraculous original painting since my great-great grandfather bought it in Italy when he took the Grand Tour back in the late 1800’s.

It has always been one of my father’s favorite things – and with good reason. It’s worth a fortune. By the late 1800’s, Caravaggio was almost completely forgotten. Still, my great-great-grandfather knew about him, saw this work and managed to buy it for very little.

Over the years, I’ve sometimes found my father just sitting on a bench, staring at his painting.

It has always given him great pride to have an actual Caravaggio right in his own house. But the need for cash and the value of the artwork could no longer be denied.

So an appraiser was called up. He came by. He looked.

And it’s not a Caravaggio.

What a disaster, not only because the price just plummeted but because it’s not a masterpiece at all. It’s just a picture by some unknown guy.

First, Dad got mad at the appraiser.

Eventually, Dad was just furious with his ancestor.

“Nobody wanted real Caravaggios in the 1800s! They were probably using them as placemats! And our family member has to come home with this?!?”

So Dad didn’t sell it. He was humiliated that it was really worth so little. He was going to throw it out for all I knew.

But late last night, I went downstairs, and there was Dad back in his old spot on the bench, staring at the painting that was back in its place of honor. The room was completely dark, except for the little picture light.

My generation prizes name-brands above everything but my father, correctly, does not. The painting is still a wondrous work.

Yes, the artist was an unknown man, then and forever, but one who labored long hours in daylight and by candlelight to create an extraordinary thing still appreciated today by a man who, rightly, just values beauty.

Half-price wands! Get ’em right here!

Monday, October 3rd, 2011


By Tiber

I’ve gotten a job. Well, part-time for a month anyway.

Now that Iris Nell has taken over my other sister Erin’s sales job at Larry’s Discount Occult, she recommended me to be one of the extra salespeople for the Halloween rush.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time unwrapping skulls.

Evidently, for many people, their own one skull just isn’t enough. So I’ve put out skull mugs, skull paperweights, skull earrings, skull belt buckles,  skull candy…

Iris Nell seems to think I’m doing a pretty good job but, as I’ve always said, Larry’s customers tend to confuse me. The Boris Karloff look-a-like that I had pegged for a serial killer just came in to get some LED candles. He was giving a little party at a nursing home and he didn‘t want the old people to feel unsafe having real candles.

On the other hand, the smiling and normal looking suburban mom asked me, with lowered voice, that if she followed the directions perfectly, was it really possible to turn someone into a newt?

Who did she have in mind? Her husband? A neighbor? The head of the P.T.A.?

Our grand prize this year for the big Halloween drawing is a jumbo-sized cauldron. Great for potions but also good if you just really, really, really like soup. (Or, in my case, want enough popcorn to last through two films!)

Of course, this year, I can’t enter the drawing. I’m now an employee at Larry’s Discount Occult. Maybe I’ll just buy a cauldron anyway. I can always use my huge supernatural employee discount.

Tea for two-oh sorry, make that tea for one

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

By Tiber

Being unemployed, I thought maybe I should learn some new skill here at the house. Everybody seems to like it if a person can cook well so I figured how hard could it be to whip out a couple of specialties?

Of course, I can’t even boil water.

A tired cliché, you say – except that I actually mean it.

I decided I wanted some iced tea and my sister Vanessa told me to make hot tea first. So I put some water on to boil and proceeded to wait. And wait.

Finally, Vanessa returned and with much eye-rolling, told me that, obviously, I had to turn the heat up higher or else the water would just continue to sit there and stare back at me. So, yes, that’s right. I literally could not boil water.

But I learned!

Unfortunately, there are more steps to making iced tea.

After brewing the tea, I then poured the now boiling water straight into a glass container to chill. Well, come on! I was nervous. Not as nervous as Vanessa, of course, who had to hit the deck to avoid the shard bullets when the pitcher exploded.

I was too annoyed by then to do any actual cooking. But I’ll get back to it. Maybe.  If I’m in the little upstairs kitchen again.

There’s no way I’d use the big kitchen downstairs. Cook would take it as a personal affront that I was preparing food.

And I think it’s always good to remember that the craziest member of our household is also the one who spends entire afternoons…sharpening her own set of knives.

Smile and the world smiles with you. Laugh and they’ll call the police.

Monday, July 11th, 2011

By Tiber

Well, I had yet another job interview today. This proves that there really are unseen forces in the Universe that watch us because they clearly keep making these appointments for me just for the entertainment value.

Today’s interviewer had already read and liked the details on my resume so all I had to do was impersonate something close to a normal human being for a very short period of time.


Our preliminaries had gone fine when the interviewer, reasonably enough, said,

“So, tell me something about yourself.”

Well, I quickly ran around in my brain house but after these past couple of bad years, there was nothing in there. There was no “thought furniture” at all. I didn’t even have enough ugly mind chairs for a bus depot.

And I started to laugh.

Inappropriate but recoverable – and then I discovered that I couldn’t stop laughing. We’ve all been there. Just not usually in the middle of a job interview.

No matter what the guy said from then on was just comedy fodder. God help me, I’d smirk and stifle only to explode into guffaws – and don’t forget the snorts! Lost and lots of uncontrollable snorts.

I hoped, in vain, that maybe I just looked like a really fun guy who could cheer up the whole office.

Not so much.

As I was being escorted out of the building, one of the security guards tried to be nice and he told me a joke. It was a really funny one too.

So, of course…that was the one thing that finally made me stop laughing.

Gnome, gnome on the range

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

By Tiber

Since we‘re now all thinking that maybe we can make some extra money by doing something here on the estate, somebody came up with the idea of charging admission to a Garden Gnome Village.

You’ll recall that we discovered about a hundred of those gnomes up in one of the attic rooms since it turned out that Aunt April has been stealing them out of strangers’ yards for decades.

My mother’s shoulders fell. “Those gnomes don’t belong to us!”

“Yeah, but they’re just sitting up there!”

“And we should be calling the police about them!”

“Come on, Gwen,” my father said, “They’d never find all of the owners anyway. April’s clearly been stealing them for years!”

“The police don’t let people off just for persistence!”

She’s right, of course, but since nobody here is going to call the police, poor Mom stuck to what morals she could.

“Well, we shouldn’t make the gnomes an attraction. It wouldn’t be right to profit off of them.”

Erin suggested, “We can arrange them outside of the front gate! They can be what catches people’s attention and draws them in to see something else!”

Iris Nell looked concerned, “But somebody could steal them!”

Kru leaped in, “People can be such bastards!”

Mom soon did her patented drifting away to another room as if she’d inadvertently intruded on the wrong family.

There’s no doubt that she is our moral compass. It’s just that the rest of us are ferrous metal and we keep knocking her off-course.

I’ve been working in an office…just to pass the time away

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

By Tiber

Since I still haven’t found a new job, I finally decided to  go and try to get my old job back.

Of course, I had to swallow my last bit of pride. And first, I had to find it. Eventually, I located one tiny remaining piece lodged between two back teeth so I used that and returned to my old office.

I told them I knew my job had been outsourced but that I would work for even less and that surely, by now, they must know there were real advantages to having the work done back on the old home turf.

And that’s when they told me.

My job hadn’t been outsourced at all. They’d just realized they could do without it completely. So why pay for it?

All of the work I did for years was evidently completely pointless!

I can hear my old boss yukking it up with his friends.

“Hey, you know that guy whose job means absolutely nothing? Well, he even worked through his coffee break again!” Screams of laughter.

So I wasn’t simply fired. Clearly, I’m also clueless.

It’s as if you find out that your recently departed girlfriend is newly engaged to, I don’t know…a ferret.

The whole time you were with her, you busted your ass staying up all hours trying to entertain her and take her to expensive restaurants – and then it turns out that what she really wanted instead was for someone to let her sleep for 18 hours a day and then go out and eat mice. 

“Wow, sir, you’re right. That really is huge.”

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

By Tiber

We were on a family vacation when I was five, and Dad drove miles out of our way to see the “largest T-Rex ever constructed.” My brother, Duncan, who was nine, thought the T-Rex was one of the great wonders of the world. I thought it was an enormous predator, smart enough to stand very still until a dumb five-year-old came close enough to be devoured.

For Duncan, it started his love of anything too big. You know that my sister, Iris Nell, is obsessed with anything tiny. My parents, for some reason, have raised at least two children who enjoy being in worlds with no resemblance to our own.

With our thoughts now on making money, Duncan returned to the big.  He thought it would be very easy to build the world’s largest something and then charge people to come and see it.

“It wouldn’t be that hard to make the world’s biggest baseball bat!”

“Harder than you think. A giant one’s already been built in Louisville, Kentucky. For the Louisville Slugger.”

 “Oh. Well, it wouldn’t be that hard to make the world’s biggest doorknob.”

“You’d have to beat Vining, Minnesota.”

These answers came from our brother, Kru, who in another example of our family’s weird knowledge kept shooting down all of Duncan’s ideas.

“World’s Largest Hammer?”

“Eureka, California.”

”Oh, come on!”

I reminded Duncan that we all considered him to be the biggest tool. Why not charge admission just to gawk at him?

Duncan is older, heavier and the exhausted father of three and yet it’s amazing how fast he can chase you down two flights of stairs, trying to bash your skull in with anything regular-sized he can find.

Sorry, Charlie

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

By Tiber

As you know, my parents’ housekeeper, Mrs. Brunty, has been worried that Dad would fire one of the maids due to the economic crunch. Then, she read how when the great writer Shirley Jackson’s husband didn’t like her getting so many cats, she just starting adopting cats who were all the same color and her husband never knew how many of them they actually had.

So Mrs. Brunty did the same sort of thing and, for quite awhile now, she’s had all three maids wearing identical wigs, in the hopes that Dad wouldn’t remember how many he’s still paying,

Today, though, Dad actually confronted Mrs. Brunty about it and Dad hates confronting Mrs. Brunty about anything. She is always “Mrs. Brunty,” even to Dad, by the way. She is always Mrs. Brunty even to her husband, Mr. Brunty. Mom thinks it shows a real old-world respect. I always think it shows why there are no little Bruntys.

But back to the maids in wigs!

Dad told Mrs. Brunty that he respected her efforts and he was doing everything possible not to fire any of the girls  but he did know there were three of them so they could stop wearing the wigs.

Actually, he said, it was having the opposite effect to what Mrs. Brunty intended because it made Dad feel that every time he looked up, the “same“ maid was doing all the work, while the other two were off having a smoke or something.

“Oh, dear!” cried Mrs. Brunty.

So the wigs came off immediately and Taffy, for one, was thrilled. Taffy, accident-prone in the best of times, claimed that the short, dark, wig was turning her into another person entirely, one who fell down even more and looked goofy in the process.

I laughed and said, “Yes, I thought you were looking more and more like The Little Tramp!”

Taffy burst into tears, ran away and later had to be coaxed out of the broom closet.

I was talking about Charlie Chaplin, of course, but I can see how she may not have taken it that way.