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A Naked Sunfish Holiday Tradition

Holiday Cheer from Aunt Edith

by Rick Brown

My late Uncle Wes lived with my Aunt Edith for most of his adult life...although I’m sure it seemed like an eternity to him. He worked for the Bethlehem Steel Company in Baltimore for thirty years until he retired. He worked the night shift getting off around 7 a.m. when he would come home for dinner. In the summer when it was warm...and Baltimore can get very, very humid...he would go to a movie matinee in an air conditioned theater and sleep. If you knew my Aunt Edith you would assume what I did...even as a child...and that was that Uncle Wes worked nights and went to matinees to get away from his wife. He never said much. He was a slight, wiry man of few words. And the few words he almost always uttered were, “For Chrissakes Edith! SHUDD UPP!!”

The man was almost incidental by nature. One time...after he retired and he and Aunt Edith moved back to the Cleveland area...my brothers and I were helping him put a refrigerator in a backyard shed because there was no room for it in the trailer they were moving into. After much jostling my brothers and I closed the shed door and thought we were finished. From her perch (as supervisor of course) Aunt Edith looked at the three of us with bewilderment and asked, “Where the HELL is Wes?” And after exchanging confused glances we heard muffled sounds coming from behind the fridge in the shed. “MMMPPPHH!!! Hey!! HHMMPPHHFFF!!!” We quickly opened the shed door, moved aside the refrigerator and liberated Uncle Wes. My brothers and I were all embarrassed and each, in turn, apologized profusely for our insensitive behavior. Aunt Edith broke into the humility with a shriek of, “What the HELL were you doing in there?” Which prompted Uncle Wes to...once again...chant his mantra. “For Chrissakes Edith!! SHUDD UPP!!” They were quite the loving couple. Their last name was Crabtree. I am not making this up.

Wes soon was diagnosed with lung cancer. Thirty years in the steel mills and 2 packs a day of Chesterfield non-filters caught up with him. The last time I saw him he was lying on the couch in their trailer smoking the aforementioned brand of cigarettes, quite literally coughing his lungs out...or what was left of them. “I TOLD
him to quit those goddamned things years ago. “ Aunt Edith offered for my contemplation. To which Uncle Wes replied sarcastically (yep, you guessed it) “Cough cough...For Chrissakes HACK! HACK! Edith!!! SHUDD UPPP!!!” These were the final words I heard my uncle ever say and we all joked at the funeral that these very words were more than likely chiseled into his headstone.

A few years after Wes passed, my brother and his new wife were having their very first Christmas and invited everyone over...including Aunt Edith. My parents were there along with my siblings and their families. This included my brother Jim’s 9 year old adopted son Matt. Matt the Brat was what my father called him. I thought this surprisingly subtle for my Dad. If I knew where Matt is today...and thank God I do not...I would have to guess some one killed him or he’s in jail convicted of several murders. I honestly don’t care so long as he’s nowhere near me. So Matt the Brat is playing with one of the toys some one so graciously gave him and he broke it. This kid could break anything he got his hands on. But in a moment of diplomacy my father (affectionately known as Snook) said, “They don’t make anything any good any more!!” To which...in the spirit of the season Aunt Edith quipped, “You’re right Snook!! Everything IS SHIT!!!” Well...happy holidays to you too Aunt Edith. Inside my head I distinctly heard a voice from my past reply, “For Chrissakes Edith!! SHUDD UPPP!”

You know...there are lots of reasons to go through life believing that “everything is shit.” There are days when it certainly seems true to me. I have my days when Sartre’s “Hell is other people” could easily be the thought of the day. But...unlike Aunt Edith...I don’t want to spend a big chunk of my life living alone in a trailer. And when I think of this particular Christmas it strikes me how most of them blur into each other...with the exception of a few. And this is one of them I distinctly remember. As much as family...and sometimes even friends...can annoy a person...especially at this time of year...I have come to realize that even some one like Aunt Edith helped make me who I have become. I mean that in a positive way. Imagine...Aunt Edith’s negativity was so over the top it MADE me consider the positive. I have no idea how she became so bitter. My father did shortly before he died also. Yet they both, particularly Snook, had a positive influence. They were there. Unlike today when some people are not.

This holiday season...regardless of which one you celebrate...take the time to savor those around you...even if they drive you nuts. They may not...for whatever reason...be there next year. And in some strange way, which will surprise you, their absence will make you miss them. I guarantee it. (a possible exception to this uplifting message might be Matt the Brat) And you might consider that next year YOU might not be here. So I suppose my holiday message may seem bittersweet to most...but that’s how I see it. And if anyone feels the need to take issue with my views then I encourage you to speak up LOUDLY...’cause I’ve got one thing and one thing only to say to you.



Editor’s note: Aunt Edith died a few years ago. She was 90 years old. Her neighbor called my Uncle Bruce and told him she had passed out in her trailer. He went and got her up…asked if she was alright and she said she was. He suggested she go to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. She told him to go to hell and get out of her house. He did just that…returning an hour later and she was gone. Sad…surely. But she lived her last day the way she lived every previous one. And despite her surliness I will miss my Aunt Edith this Christmas. And I will remember the one long ago when she informed us “Everything is shit!” Rest in peace Aunt Edith. I can picture Jesus turning to her and proclaiming, “Truly, truly I say unto you…For Wes’s sake Edith…SHUDD UPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Holiday Hoopla XVIII
Easton Town Center
Columbus, Ohio

* * * *
by Rick Brown

There is a very fine line between tradition and redundancy…especially around the holidays. Yet the people at Shadowbox have the knack to reprise favorite sketches and songs without making their annual Holiday Hoopla show mundane. This is especially true for 2009.



Hmmm #1

by Rick Brown

A booger
hanging from one’s nose
at the mall
is one thing.
At the Museum
of Modern Art
it’s quite another.

Click Here

Leonard Cohen
Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
October 19, 2009
Tampa, Florida

* * * * *
Palace Theater
October 27, 2009
Columbus, Ohio

* * * * *

by Rick Brown

I was going to write a glowing review of the 2 Leonard Cohen concerts I attended in October. But after reading at least 10 from newspapers across the country, I realized there is little I can add to the unanimous praise he has received and so richly deserves. I have witnessed well over 300 concerts in my days and if Mr. Cohen’s performances are not perfection they are as close as humanly possible.


I once was lost
but now I'm found poetry

by Cyndi O'Leary

Yeah, I think I liked Jesus better when he was Jewish and quieter;
when he spoke of peace, love and forgiveness instead of "rad skating"
and became a disc jockey and slogan peddler.
He was so calm in those days, speaking Aramaic softly to small crowds.
I liked Jesus when he was a statue in St. Mary and Joseph's Church
on Minnesota Avenue. He was so quiet, standing there with
little red light from candles flickering on his face. I thought he was smiling.
His fellow evangelist said, "Jesus would be a skateboarder today.
I know St. Paul would." Right on.

"The sacred text says we need a virgin for the, uh, thingy?"
"Christ where the hell are we supposed to find one of those?"
"Dunno. A Catholic high school maybe?" "No, too creepy.
Is there a comicbook shop around here somewhere?
Maybe someplace that sells D&D"

"I told God, I'll do whatever you want me to do, but it better be cool, it better be gnarly"
Take that Jesus

Sister Amelda used to say,
"If you sit quietly and listen carefully, God will speak to your heart."
Radical idea, dude.

Morris Jackson

Alone in the Park, by an ice pond
C. Mehrl Bennett

C Mehrl Bennett's first book of text poetry is now available at

by Sue Lense

Click Here

The Non–Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane
proudly presents:

Multiplex Movie Matinee

by Rick Brown

Scene: The lobby of a large urban multiplex movie house. A group of senior ladies sit alongside the wall stage left. Their drivers (Rick and Ken) are leisurely standing opposite them along with two young female social workers. They are chatting about the movies the senior ladies have just finished seeing.

Rick – So what did you ladies see today?
Senior lady #1 (excitedly) – I saw “Julie and Julia”. Walked in just as the trailers were ending. It was a lovely film. Now I’m starving!

Rick – And how about the rest of you?

Senior lady #2 – We all saw “All About Steve” and it was pretty good.

Senior lady #3 – For today’s movies it was.

Senior lady #4 – Yeah…they don’t make movies like they used to.

Senior lady #3 – You’re right there. Don’t make anything like they used to!

Just then two elderly gentlemen emerge from a theater door at the back of the stage. They slowly walk up to the group.

Ken – What did you guys see today?

Senior guy – Something called “Whiteout”.

Rick – Oh. The blizzard flick huh? What did you think?

A guy named Sam – I couldn’t tell if it was any good! Too much damned snow! I couldn’t even see the actors!! Way too much damned snow!!

Senior guy – How would you know Sam? You slept through most of it.

Senior lady #5 (incredulously) – He slept through the movie?

Senior lady # 2 (also surprised) – You slept?

A guy named Sam – I did not sleep through the movie! I was too damned cold!

Senior guy – Did too!

A guy named Sam – Did NOT!

Senior guy – Did SO!

A guy named Sam – NOT!

Senior guy – You did TOO!

A guy named Sam (pondering for a moment) – Well…maybe…a little bit…at the end.


Rick – himself
Ken – himself
Social workers – themselves
Senior ladies – themselves
Senior guy – himself
A guy named Sam- A guy named Sam

Life Lessons

by Dennis Toth


Catch the sky
With an open hand
And pocket each cloud
You find.

A penny saved is worth less
Than two birds in a bush.

Step on a crack
And break your mother's back
But a ball bat
Is infinitely more effective.

Time waits for no man
But it occasionally waits
For just the right woman.

A fool and his money
Catches more honey
Than flies.

Beautiful dreamer,
Light unto me,
Buddha is sleeping
With a wake up at three.

Each day is a precious gift
To be shared and saved
But never hoarded.

There is never enough time
So don't bother
Wearing a watch.

All men are equal.
Some are simply shorter.
It's their destiny.

Catch the sky
With an open hand
And chase the sun
Every day.

Hmmm #2

by Rick Brown

To a newborn babe
3 days ago
must seem
like a lifetime.

© 2001-2009 NakedSunfish, All Rights Reserved

Issue 1 - January 2002