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One Man’s Compliment is Another Man’s
Occupational Hazard

by Rick Brown

I went to the dentist a little while back…just for a “check up” to get the choppers cleaned and x-rayed…have the tongue and gums get a once over. You know…kind of a basic oil change and air filter replacement for the mouth. I really like my dentist too…even wrote a piece about his superb “air bass” techniques for a previous issue of Naked Sunfish.

So I strolled in and made myself as comfortable as anyone can get in the dental hygienist’s version of a Lazy Boy. Then came the not unpleasant yet obligatory disjointed conversation with the woman cleaning my teeth. Fortunately, unlike some Bicuspid Nazi’s “Viy dun-choo quit vith zee COFFEE!!! You VILL use zee FLOSS vill you NOT?!!” type of talk I’ve had in the past, this woman is much kinder in conversation. And gentler with the scraping. Our communication went something like this:

Dental Hygienist: “How have you been?”

Rick: “Uh…uh uh..UH!” (Then sitting up) Swish, swish…swish…SPIT.

“Good. How about yourself?”

Scrape…scrape scrape…scrape.

Dental Hygienist: “I’m fine. Have you been on any vacations since the last time I’ve seen you?”


Rick: “Uuuuuuuuuuuuh. Uh uh.”

Dental Hygienist: “Later this year perhaps?”


Rick: “Uh uh…UH!!! UH!!!” (Then sitting up) Swish. Gaaaargle. Swisherish…swish swish swish SWISH!!! SPIIIIIIT!!! “Nothing planned so far but I’m hoping!”
And so it goes. Laying there trying to converse in this logistically impossible way…looking at the children’s pictures taped to the ceiling…trying to make sure my jaw doesn’t lock up on me.

While all this is transpiring I can overhear my dentist in the next room with another patient. He’s having a friendly chat with a woman when I hear him say to her, “You really have beautiful teeth!!!

I immediately froze in horror. Even the hygienist’s usually liberating announcement of “And what flavor paste would you prefer today? Orange persimmon? Banana daiquiri? Avocado/artichoke with pine nuts? Chocolate mousse with a chiffon truffle chaser?” My mind was racing. He told her she had BEAUTIFUL TEETH!!! And I thought, “Oh my God!!! What if he had gone into gynecology?!!!!!!

“Why…thank you!!” was the woman’s response…and I sighed a heavy sigh of relief. I chose avocado/artichoke with pine nuts tooth paste. And as I was being mesmerized by the mini gourmet dinner/tooth brushing I had this thought. My dentist is such a nice, gentle, charming guy…maybe if he HAD become a gynecologist…one who pays compliments…he might just get a “Why…thank you!!” in response.


by Ted Kane

Did the D.J just
say ‘when we come back, we’ll
do it in the butt’?

The rain washes the
smog away but floats garbage
out onto the beach

The dog barks a
warning, then smiles as her
master walks inside

Where would Hemingway
go for lunch, McDonald's or
maybe Burger King?

I never want to
see you again, she said,
and so far, so good

Sex at theBox ‘06
Shadowbox Cabaret
Towne Center

, Ohio

* * * * *

by Rick Brown

Usually I’m the first to complain about a crowd being too rowdy. I’ve made noise about that in other Shadowbox reviews. But this Thursday night audience was one of the lamest groups of people I’ve ever been in ... and I’m including church here. I mention this only because “Sex ‘06” has wonderful material that was diminished by ... how shall I put this ... overt modesty?

Two firsts in this performance. David Whitehouse (Mr. Pratfall) didn’t once fall to the stage. This I missed ... although being a guy waiting for a knee replacement I can certainly understand taking some time off. And amazingly there is little use ... or any maybe ... of the “f -word” ... not that I have a problem with saying “fuck” myself. It’s just that “Sex at the Box 06” works so well because the troupe grounds the performance in nuance, innuendo and double, triple ... and perhaps one or two quadruple entendres.

The perfect example would be Gary and Galinda: Home Edition, which on the surface is a call in radio show dealing with home improvement. Scotty Candler and Katy Psenicka superbly maneuver the callers’ questions into the land of double meanings piqued with code words such as “knockers”, “backdoor” and most humorously “caulk”. The sketch highlights the second half of “Sex at the Box”.

Also good is Bustin’ a Move with Busty Wiggles in which Julie Klein (Busty) imparts her stripper wisdom on some fresh recruits: effeminate Stefan (Jimmy Mak), boob obsessed Misty (Ms. Psenicka), and shy but willing to try anything once Donna (Amy Lay). The other veteran actors deftly play off Ms. Klein’s superb salty, sultry boom chick a boom in a hilarious rave up culminating with a “volunteer” from the audience.

Football Fetish concerns a reluctant football coach who is obligated to teach a health class about sexuality to budding adolescents. Predictable yet entertaining at the beginning, the skit accelerates when the kids leave the stage and Ms. Pooter (once again a marvelous Julie Klein) confronts Coach Bronger (David Whitehouse) about his teaching abilities. Mr. Whitehouse’s character drones about the similarity of football and puberty using a football as physical metaphor so effectively ... circling the tip with his hands so suggestively that the audience first might think “breast foreplay” and eventually segueing thoughts into ... uh ... something a little south of beltway.

And the show includes some of the troupe’s more popular short pieces. The innocence of Campfire Boys: Valentine’s Day (Jimmy Mak and Jim Andes) is as adorable as Cindy and Laverne: Chaperones is jaded redneck. But once again the charm of Amy Lay in Shannon’s Movie Reviews enchanted me. This time little girl Shannon reviews Beauty and the Beast and The Graduate with Ms. Lay ... as usual ... convincing the audience she’s a child who knows more than she should without the hint of smart aleck.

“Sex at the Box 06” closes with a sketch called Teen Time! With what appears to be the entire Shadowbox staff onstage this is an incredibly accurate parody of trite “goody goody” attempts to enlighten teenagers about the dangers of life ... in this case sex. As a group of happy, happy teens who preach abstaining from sex until marriage, this dead on mockery of the 1960’s “Up With People” or “The Johnny Mann Singers”, the old “I’m a pepper” Dr. Pepper TV commercial, or maybe more recently “The New Mickey Mouse Club” is wickedly funny. Dressed in white pants, red sweaters ... and maybe penny loafers (I couldn’t see.) this skit hammers home the hypocrisy of conservative propaganda aimed at teenagers. There was even the token “Afro-American” (Noelle Grandison) shucking and jiving and cliché-ing her way through all this white, suburban nerdiness.  Having been victimized by such tripe myself as a teen I hurt from laughing so hard. This is the most deliciously sarcastic, right on sketch I believe I’ve ever seen Shadowbox Cabaret perform. Kudos to the writers!!!

“Sex at the Box 06” is strong musically as well. Standouts are Greg Couch singing “Senorita” accompanied by quasi-flamenco dance choreographed by Katy Psenicka. “My Woman from Tokyo” gets a dynamic presentation by Sara Tomko ... although through no fault of her own, house band BillWho? steals the tune musically. But hey ... a woman covering a Deep Purple classic is at a disadvantage from the get go. But the highlight is the song ending the evening. Julie Klein is golden on Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” ... an interesting choice for a bawdy sex romp. But maybe that’s what makes it stand out ... the unabashed romanticism in closing.

This is a very strong showing by Shadowbox Cabaret. And I expect to see at least 20 percent of “Sex at the Box 06” this summer for “Best of Shadowbox”.

“Sex at the Box” runs through March 25th. For more information go to www.shadowboxcabaret.com.  

4th Anniversary Issue

1990 - 2006

Blank Sight
by John Bennett

 Five Million Easy Pieces of the Night Music
(with apologies to everyone)
by Ted Kane

By now everyone is familiar with the fall from grace of James Frey, the tough-guy recovering drug addict from Granville, OH. His elaborate story of crime and redemption A Million Little Pieces was revealed to be a near complete falsehood, shortly after being trumpeted by Oprah Winfrey as a great book. Oprah, for her part, chose to stand by the book, but it seems significant that her next selection is a book of seemingly impeccable reputation, Elie Wiesel's holocaust memoir Night. Quite a juxtaposition, IMO.

Amorphous Apathy Rant
by Patrick O'Malley

This is one of the most pertinent and disturbing trends in American culture today. The apathy, disinterest, and ineptitude of growing numbers of americans middle aged and younger. This demographic more and more has become accustomed to a blasé attitude towards everything but one's own well being. Ridiculously people seek this well being through the acquisition of money and material possessions, a culture of consumerism. How this has come to pass is multi-faceted and unfathomably more complex than I can understand or describe, but I can't help but think it has much to do with the ever-growing dearth of intellectual pursuit for its own sake and one's own betterment, as well as the ridiculous short-sightedness of Americans.

A review of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, by Francis Wheen
by David Hochman

If there’s one book you read this year, make it Francis Wheen’s How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. I don’t say that lightly. The older one gets, the more discerning one becomes. Time presses itself, seemingly unlike in one’s youth, upon one’s choices, and one is less apt to be frivolous with it.

Wheen, a journalist and writer, has that wonderful English flair for cutting through gibberish, decimating nonsense with humorous relish.

Imagine thoughts invading you, regularly and with frequency and some urgency, over time. Thoughts of a similar nature, yet wholly diverse. Imagine, too, trying to one day put them into one book, and not knowing where to begin, or how to do it. Imagine then one day picking up a book, and that book having done precisely that: taken those same thoughts and put them into a coherent, decisive and brave cohesion.

Naked Life With the Fish
by Cory Tressler

Beijing, September 29th, 2005
A Moonlight walk inside the Forbidden City

by Amelia Hapsari

One night I found myself inside the Forbidden City. As a foreign expert at a Chinese government institution, I was invited to see the Beijing Opera Concert in the Western-designed music hall inside the Forbidden City. It was three nights before the National Day celebration. My thoughts were too noisy that I could not accommodate more melodies. So I took a moonlight walk around the Forbidden City.

Beijing was no longer what it was a hundred years ago. The only chance I would enter the palace then was if I were one of the Emperor's daughters, maids, or concubines. Today the majestic aura of the garden was still there, dimly lit with luck-generating gold fishes swarming its heavenly styled pond. Tonight, three employee of the palace were fishing at the pond. They were shocked to see me, but did not stop what they were doing. The Emperor was no longer there.

With Beijing city lights beaming at full power to celebrate the day the Chinese Communist Party liberated the nation, it was not too dark to navigate along the corridor of Forbidden City. The ceiling of the corridor was painted with thousands of royal epics. A hundred years ago, it must have been gloomed by the moon, stars, and red lanterns. Guards would patrol the whole complex, leaving no room for threat against its stability. A concubine of the Emperor with lotus feet and a red jade necklace would be punished if caught wondering around the courtyard even if she was only reciting poetry. Only the silk covered wooden pillow could understand the secrets of the mind rested on it, including forbidden love and hidden coup.

The palace should only project its enigmatic harmony, sealed mightily by two gigantic stone tiger-like creatures. One cuddled a baby tiger underneath her foot, the other one was playing with a fiery mini globe. Woman bore children. Man ruled the world.
Everything had to be perfectly balanced and complimentary. Like yin and yang. Its prescribed ideal would attack any lively incongruence and creative deviants.

My grandpa left the mainland of China in the 1930s. He left behind a very young wife, married by family arrangement. After he could earn a decent living in Indonesia, he was married to my grandma, an Indonesian-born Chinese. After they had two children, the first wife of my grandpa came to reunite with my grandpa. Three of them; my grandpa, his first wife, and my grandma; lived as one family with their children in the chinatown of Semarang, Indonesia.

As the designated breadwinner of her family when she was younger than 20 year old, my grandma has one brother and four sisters to take care. She needed the financial support from my grandpa to pay school tuition and living expenses of her younger brother and sisters. Out of love for her siblings, my grandma stayed with my grandpa, his first wife, her own children and her stepchildren faithfully until my grandpa passed away. My grandma even breastfed the children of my grandpa's first wife because she did not produce her own milk. When my grandpa passed away, he left behind 13 children; six from my grandma and seven from his first wife.

My culture told scary stories about love. A mother swallowed her pain as she sold her daughter to a rich man. Love was a hope for a better life. A wife cut her own flesh for her starving mother in law. Love was a solemn sacrifice. A son used his body heat to melt the frozen river so he could catch a fish for his ill father. Love was not for oneself, it should only give. A man aged and died lonely just for the hope that he would see the woman he loved one more time. Men and women went through a long life saga with misery and struggle just to show love. Love was a fatal obligation. It was written decisively by immortal deities.

What do I know about love? Is love like a Potehi puppet show? However many people come, the magnetic wonder doesn't decrease. More children can still squeeze and laugh until their parents come with chicken-feathered broom to get them back to study. It's always there to provide a cooling oasis after the sweaty industrious life of Semarang's Chinatown. It's there for all walks of life; the Chinese, the indigenous, the young, the old, the rich, the poor. No cover charge, no string attached.

Is love like a moon cake? It is round, soft, with sweet black bean inside. It is available only seasonally, so we are always waiting for the next moon cake to come. What we get is decided by how much left from what others get. We are never full of it because we only think about how much more others get.

Is love like ancient herbal medicine sold in a Chinese drug store? The giant cupboard that is divided neatly into equal volumes stores each miraculous healing secret in different drawers with careful prescriptions. Diverse preserved leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, and other parts of wondrous plants coexist peacefully while waiting to cure their patients.


Las Vegas Blues
by Ted Kane

'Someone will win'
he said, 'but it won’t be me
and it won’t be you
that's the way it is,
and you know it's true'

'You're probably right,'
I agreed, yet still
philosophically put
down my last five
dollars on


The South Bay
by Ted Kane

When I started working in
this particular part of town
I wondered how come
everyone around here
drives like a complete

I think I’ve got it figured out

The Best of 2Co’s and the Blues
2Co’s Cabaret
The Short North
Columbus, Ohio

* * * * *
by Rick Brown

Wow. My last 2Co’s review. And wouldn’t you know it ... right after the city ... after what? 3 years or so ... finally decided to get the arch lights spanning High Street repaired. And to add insult to injury there’s a “For Rent” sign in front of the building already ... sigh.

Still ... instead of a eulogy I’m going to celebrate the spirit of 2Co’s Cabaret. This company of talents actors, musicians and singers (not to mention servers, car parkers and cooks) has made me feel more a part of Columbus, Ohio ... gave me a sense of community ... than in the previous 30 years I’ve resided here. Really.

And what a celebration “The Best of 2Co’s and the Blues” is! Opening is Rich Orloff’s Off the Map ... a one-act play about a struggling couple lost in Antarctica. After some marital bickering, Jean (Stephanie Shull) wanders off looking for direction while husband Scott (Tom Cardinal) meets A Local (Joe Lorenzo). Of course the locals in the area are penguins and Mr. Lorenzo is the penguin of all penguins. Dressed in black attire with what looks like snorkel flippers strapped to his hands and feet, Lorenzo charms ... advises ... enlightens ... not just Cardinal’s character ... but us all. Another member of the troupe once commented to me that Joe was so “method” in his approach to acting that before playing a winter scene he will literally stick his head into the freezer before going onstage. As affable as that story may be the man possesses a genius no icebox can take credit for.

Tom Cardinal is stunningly poignant ... touchingly self-depreciating ... and warmly cantankerous ... in Rusty Russel’s “Superman in the Nursing Home”. Sitting in the front row gave me the opportunity to witness Mr. Cardinal’s amazing transformation into an old (Super)man. His facial expressions ... body control ... made the musings, regrets and observations ... of a fictional superhero as real as one’s own grandfather dispensing lifelong wisdom to his grandchildren.

“Victoria’s Secret” (Billy Collins) is hilariously read by John Croke. Mr. Croke not only provides funny dialogue as a young man commenting on what he believes are the moods ... personalities ... motivations ... of catalogue supermodels but sells it all with body language that screams “hormone fueled” male adolescence. Along with Hank Hyena’s “William, I Giggled” (read by Gabe Smith), Charles Bukowski’s “The Walls” (Joe Lorenzo), Pam Callahan closing “The Best of 2Co’s” with Laughing Wild (by Christopher Durang) the performance’s title is most certainly an understatement.

The show is equally strong musically. Blues standards like Muddy Water’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” (sung by Mr. Lorenzo, Ruth Brown’s “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” (Lydia Tew), and “Stormy Monday (JT Walker) gave me chills. And though not technically “the blues” Tom Cardinal’s rendition of “Lullaby” was a smarmy delight. Ditto for Pam Callahan backed by Ms. Tew shaking their moneymakers while copping an attitude on “That’s Your Boyfriend”. Sam Champa’s take on the Beatles’ “Oh Darlin’ was like a musical sorbet cleansing the audience’s palate about mid show.

But it was Stephanie Shull, fronting house band extraordinaire Downtown DFN, who reigned as blues diva this evening. Book ending the second half of the show with two Etta James tunes, Ms. Shull demanded our attention ... first taking “At Last” beyond it’s sometimes clichéd overuse to it’s rightful place as one of the finest blues songs ever. Then on 2Co’s final number “Ball and Chain” Shull crooned with the aloof “ice running through my veins” coolness of Peggy Lee while leaving enough compassionate tension in her voice to make most of us yearn for the chance to be her ball and chain.

From beginning to end “The Best of 2Co’s and the Blues” is one of the finest shows I have ever seen ... and I’ve seen my share. The performance runs through February 25th so make reservations soon. As for me ... I plan on being there again ... at least two more times. I’m not ready to say goodbye to my friends. And I’m definitely not through celebrating.

For more information go to www.shadowboxcabaret.com

Sunday Night with a Monday Off
1:37 am
by Rick Brown

You know ... people say early to bed and all that shit. But when the opportunity presents itself ... I always promise myself I’m going to be disciplined ... you know ... drink and eat moderately. That’s the easy part really. I can do that ... when I’m alone ... I mean me and the dog ... I’m cool with THAT. But the going to bed at a reasonable hour thing ... as they say ... getting up early to make the most of “the day God has given me” ... I can’t handle that crap.

Rejected Book Blurbs
by Andrew Wood

No other self-help book has ever opened my eyes to the joys of breaking into someone’s home, and then replacing all their pictures with one of myself holding a sign that says, “I win.”

No other book has so foreshadowed the dissolution of love between two people like this one, especially when our hero and his heroine get married in a patch of quicksand.

After finishing this book, I ran through a supermarket and pounded people on the head with it, yelling “BOOK, BOOK, BOOK, BOOK!”

I almost threw myself into the garbage can along with this book, but I just didn’t want to be that close to it again.

This book was fantastic. I had no idea that bananas were capable of operating heavy machinery.

The fact that sparrows will demand indoor plumbing if you build them a birdhouse is not news to me, but what I did find truly inspiring was their willingness to split the water bill.

If you’ve ever been mauled by a gorilla because you mentioned he could use a shave, then this book is for you.

The writing style is hilarious, in that it is hilarious to think of all the reasons how someone this stupid could get a book published.

I loved this book so much that I took it on vacation, and even let it drive a little. But I’m hoping the sequel can parallel park.

The best thing about this diet book was its cover. I am currently wearing it as a pair of pants and now, when I sit down on the subway, everyone can admire my small portions.

Someone took a dump in my desk drawer.

This book made me seriously reconsider my marriage to a houseplant.

Let’s just say I took this book out for dinner, then asked for separate checks.

This book made me quit my job, sell my kids, drug my wife and send her off in a hot-air balloon, then wear a powdered wig and offer guided tours through an abandoned outhouse. But at least now I know how to restore my Windows operating system from the “Safe Mode” to a previous date.

Our Top 5 Picksby Ted Kaneby John Bennettby Cory Tressler by Patrick O'Malley by David HochmanTravel SectionRecipes and MoreBack Issues

© 2001-2005 NakedSunfish, All Rights Reserved

Issue 1 - January 2002