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Below Normal

Jan. 7, 2014
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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? And so another holiday season has closed—for most of you’s, but not for me, no sir. As I’ve said many times, many ways, for a guy like me every day’s just another focking holiday. And I can honestly tell you that I’m not bashful to invoke the lord-to-some’s name as I celebrate my daily focking holiday, to wit: “Jesus H. Christ, where the hell is the goddamn bus?” “For Christ sakes you got to be jerking beefaroni. You want how much for that cocktail?”

And yes, this is to be my annual much-ballyhooed Look Back/Watch Out Ahead gala essay, even though I surely don’t much feel like slapping it together. The world’s another year older and deeper in death, hey Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to you-focking-name-it.

Looking back, last year, I could pound my head against the wall silly to try to find something positive to say. So I pounded my head against the wall silly and all I could come up with is this headline from an Internet story: “Lightning strikes killed fewer Americans than ever in 2013.” That seems a positive unless you like to play the Mega Bucks Power Oodles of Millions lottery and recall that your odds of hitting the jackpot right in the kisser are the same as getting struck by lightning in any given year. Focking swell.

So, Look Back/Watch Out Ahead. Here’s all that needs be said:

The Year 2013: Sucked, but good.

Watch Out Ahead, 2014: Will suck, even more.

There you go. Clean, economical and near-elegant, ain’a?

But before I go and get back to the real work of cranking up the thermostat and mixing another hot focking toddy, let me give you a handy tip on how to transition from a past year to a new one. Every New Year’s Eve me and the fellas get together with a couple, three cases of Rhinelander and at midnight, instead of the “Auld Lang Syne” we put the record “In Dreams” by the great poet Roy Orbison on the hi-fi full blast, and we dedicate it to all the people, places and things we won’t ever see again. We sing along over and over—ten, twelve, maybe fifteen times—until we’re bawling like babies. I don’t know why, but this tradition somehow gives us the strength to actually try to make it through another year. I figure you might like to try out our tradition sometime yourself, so I’ll give you Roy’s lyrics to make it easier to sing along—it’s not too late—but you got to supply the record.


A candy-colored clown they call the sandman

Tiptoes to my room every night

Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper:

“Go to sleep, everything is alright”


I close my eyes

Then I drift away

Into the magic night

I softly sway

Oh smile and pray

Like dreamers do

Then I fall asleep

To dream my dreams of you


In dreams... I walk with you

In dreams... I talk to you

In dreams... You’re mine


All of the time

We’re together

In dreams... In dreams


But just before the dawn

I awake and find you gone

I can’t help it... I can’t help it

If I cry

I remember

That you said goodbye

To end all these things

And I’ll be happy in my dreams

Only in dreams

In beautiful dreams


So you’s have a happy new year—hey, at my age I still like to think anything’s possible, what the fock, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.


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