The Phil Wells Dot Com

I Got A Big Mouth

Digging A Hole

Today me and the wife committed to doing a lot of housework and cleaning indoors and ended up meeting a lot of our outdoor goals instead.  The front yard was getting embarrassing.  The house came with a little postage stamp of dirt in front next to the driveway, complete with a big wooden trellis stood up vertically in the center surrounded by five big igneous rocks like the Stonehenge of Fairview, NJ.  We guess it was for flowering ivy to climb up.  It had to go.  The lawn, for its part, was blanketed in low green moss behind the trellis, and spotted with white dead grass and tufts of fresh crab grass in the front half.

This lawn, such as it is, is right in front of the downstairs bedroom (or office, or whatever) window, so we figured we’d put a shrub or something in front of that to discourage peepers, etc.

We knew before we spread grass seed we’d want to take out the trellis and move the rocks away from the altar in our yard.  Piece of cake, right?  The trellis was bolted to some hardcore stakes, the tops of which resembled the kind of metal they attach stop signs to.  We’d just have to pull those two poles out of the dirt and turn the dirt over the holes.  So we tugged and levered and cursed and could not budge them.  We dug holes around the metal stakes and when we tried levering one of them up again, all the dirt between the two of them shifted as well, as if they were connected beneath the surface.  Spoiler alert: they were.

It turns out these metal stakes were planted in a pretty big slab under our yard, heavy enough that after we’d unearthed it it took both of us to maneuver it around by hand, and a hand truck to move it to the back yard and into our outdoor we’ll-deal-with-it-later garbage pile.


Slab and trellis, exhumed

We filled in the big hole this mother had left and raked up all the clods of crabgrass and the moss and turned over all the dirt, then spread the grass seed. and raked it again.  Now, they say, we just have to water it every day until it’s grass.


Land, scaped

The wife also planted a trio of azaleas under the office, bedroom, whatever window.  Presumably they will all have purple flowers some fine day.

You might notice a black sprinkler head poking up right in the middle of it all like a mole’s periscope.  I’m lobbying to obstruct it with one of those lawn whirligigs that looks like two lumberjacks sawing a log whenever the wind blows.  We’ll how how the wife responds.

So, what indoor work did we defer in favor of all this playing in the dirt (we also weeded a lot of the garden border in the backyard)?  This week we’re supposed to

  • Take the doors off the old kitchen’s cabinets
  • Remove the hanging cabinets
  • Install the bathroom window trim
  • Bundle cardboard
  • Clean the house
  • Attend Lebowski Fest
  • Punch another hole in the kitchen wall because of something about the ducts?  I’m not clear on this one.  I think the wife might just like punching holes in the wall which, hey, who can blame anyone for that?
  • Get estimates from a guy to fill our oil tank, Home Depot to sell us new cabinets, and I guess Verizon to see if FIOS is cheaper than Time Warner Cable

Right, piece of cake.

The Cats Came Back

This last Saturday the wife and I took advantage of the almost warmth and decided to just about murder our inherited overgrown rose bushes.  That work being done and cleanup being on deck, I took it upon myself to defend our yard against the stray cats which rule our neighborhood by converting our (also inherited) pile of bricks into a little wall that would cover a height from the ground just up to the bottom of the chain link fence we share with our neighbor to the east.  We’ll call him Paul because that’s what he told me his name was.

I knew exactly where the cats were getting in under the fence because there’s the beginning of a convenience path dug into the grass there and anyway one evening we were out back eating dinner on the porch and the little jerks tried entering by the same access point a few times before sensing our presence and deciding better of it each time.  So that spot was a priority, but then upon inspection I realized that probably 75% the length of the fence did not meet the ground to such a degree that a cat or cat-sized varmint could probably slip under it wherever it pleased.  It’s a good thing our brick pile was so numerous and otherwise useless.  These are those big flat bricks like you’d use for a patio or, I guess, a garden wall.  Like the ones they break in karate exhibitions.  I laid these all along the fence on their long sides, flat faces leaning on either the fence itself or on a few stakes I planted so I don’t completely bow out the chain link.  I was pretty proud of my accomplishment.

I know a cat, being a cat, is going to find a way into my yard if that where it really wants to be.  The point of this operation was not total containment, but disruption.  That night I turned on the floodlights back there (bulbs of which we’d replaced that day; they had never worked for us before) and I saw a possum sluggishly crossing the yard way at the back, as if the lights had awakened him.  I’d never seen a possum back there before, and I took it as a sign that things were indeed disrupted.

Yesterday, Easter, I looked back there in the morning and the bricks still stood.  Easter came and went.  This morning once we had daylight I checked again and eight of the bricks had been toppled, all around the notorious access point.  Either cats, Paul, or the wind had kicked them over and opened us up to invasion.  So this morning I went back out and installed a temporary fix by stacking what bricks had been toppled on top of each other in front of the access point, rather than leaning them. 



If the cats can knock over a stack of bricks than they deserve to poop in my yard and I guess I am powerless to stop them, at least until we put up some chicken wire.



I assume the world existed before alarm clocks.  I can’t know for sure, since I wasn’t there when this was presumably true, but we’ll take it as given.  In those days you’d wake up whenever you woke up or when a rooster screamed or some other “natural” event (having gotten enough sleep counts) has occurred.  Then you’d be awake and you’d go to your job.

Did your boss get mad at you if you were late all the time?  He must have, right?  The thing is, it wasn’t your fault back then.  Your body just did not wake up when your boss wanted it to.  Your boss would probably say things like “You just have to go to sleep earlier each night or you will lose your job.”  

That seems kind of like an invasion into something really personal.  Your boss could terminate your employment based on your body’s need for sleep.  Even with alarm clocks, this seems a little insidious.  My sleep is a very personal part of my nature.  Why do we allow this?

Support “My Daughter, My Wife”


First, the beg.  Please click that image or this link and kick in $1 or more for the production of “My Daughter, My Wife.”


I co-wrote this play with my friend Desiree Nash.  It’s based on a ridiculous sketch I wrote a few years ago that we could never produce because it required so many different locations and so much fake vomit.  

The sketch was a “flashback episode” of a sitcom called My Daughter, My Wife.  You know how in season three of a sitcom in the 90’s they’d get two of the characters stuck somewhere and have them look back over their crazy lives through a series of flashbacks from past episodes?  That was this.  The idea was that those episodes are dumb, and sitcoms are so dumb that it’s plausible that they’d produce a sitcom based on the premise that a man has to pretend his daughter is his wife whenever these mobsters are around, and he can never let his actual ex-wife know what he’s up to.  And now that stupid premise is the actual idea for this play.

The group producing the play, SidViscous!, is the improv comedy group that I’ve been on since 2007.  The opening night of MDMW is the same night as the group’s fifth anniversary.  At some point a thousand years ago we all got together and had a brainstorming session to discuss the group’s future.  We started as a house team at the Peoples Improv Theater and stayed together after we got removed from the theater’s lineup.  We’d become a sort of travelling festival group that would do improv shows here and there, and we wanted to come up with other projects for ourselves.  Putting on a play was one of the ideas I pitched.  I had some characters outlined for this thing but I knew I’d never get around to finishing it without a deadline or a partner.  So I asked Desiree to help because she’s hilarious and prolific.

We emailed chunks back and forth for a few months and when it was almost done we had an overnight writing session at my apartment and finished the thing over about a dozen beers.  We were giddy with the resulting script and even in the light of day and sobriety, it holds up pretty well.

It’s been a long process.  Between that first SidViscous! meeting and today one of us has left the group, one of us has gotten engaged, people have moved apartments, peoples’ other shows have had full runs, and the Peoples Improv Theater has transformed from a little black box above a Subway restaurant to the 99-seat comedy theater of the year of 2011.  I feel like we’ve built the Pyramids only to have them on display for three dates in February and then put on a shelf forever.  In the end I’d like everyone I know to have seen it.

What comes after this?  God, who knows.  I’ve learned a lot about what makes for good farces, especially from our director Joe Hendel.  Maybe I’ll write another one of these things.  Maybe I’ll just write some more poem parodies.  I don’t know what it is that attracts me to writing projects that have no chance of earning me a paycheck.  Hey!  Speaking of which, please do help us pay for production costs by joining our Kickstarter campaign.

See how I book-ended it with the begs?  Classy.


News From The Front


My lady, I bring urgent news from the front!

Lady Squelmsch:

Please, ease thyself, Arbuckle.  You’ll hurt your dextrous mouth talking at such speed.


What is this about my mouth’s dexterity?  Hast thou thought of my mouth’s possible maneuverability?

Lady Squelmsch:

Cad!  Your gutter-minded barbarian!  How DARE you accuse me so?


Forgive me, my liege.  I forget myself.  It’s just this news from the front is so urgent I…

Lady Squelmsch:

Arbuckle, sit before you faint.  You’ll fall and break your powerful thrusting hips.


[sits]  Again, I must question my lady’s thought process.  For it doth seem as if you have pictured my hips doing naught but thrusting.

Lady Squelmsch:

You presume thusly before me!  And aloud?  You presume yourself to the gallows!  Guards!


Wait!  Send me not to the pall ere I have delivered the news from the front.  You have to hear this news!

Lady Squelmsch:

Out with it, you brute!  And then you shall be promptly hanged in the square by your chiseled, handsome butt.


Do you not see how obvious it is that you think of me sexually?  It’s crazy that you’re not acknowledging this.

Lady Squelmsch:

Enough!  Guards, kill him right now!  Pull his gizzard out through his powerful, child-bearing urethra!

[guards encroach]


My lady, the front!  It’s been breached!  We’ll be overrun with Saxons!

Lady Squelmsch:

… How big are their feet?

[End scene]

A Slow Spinoff

I’ve taken an idea I started over at 2log and devoted a Tumblr to it.  I haven’t updated it often but I figure I’ll keep it around for whenever I feel like making a new Lewd Dorothy Parker Poem.

So here it is: Lewd Dorothy Parker Poems.

Sold Out Seats To Hear Biggie Smalls Speak

But you can still catch us NEXT Thursday.  Get your tickets now!

Mnemonic Device for ITIL v3 Foundation Certification

What are the 9 steps of the Incident Management process?

Remember “Incidents Really Can Prove Deadly, Especially In Rural Connecticut.”

  1. Identification
  2. Registration
  3. Categorization
  4. Prioritization
  5. Diagnosis
  6. Escalation
  7. Investigation
  8. Resolution and Recovery
  9. Closure

This has been ITIL Tips from Phil’s Life The Past 3 Weeks.

Save yourself.

“Me First” March


This month is about taking back some time for myself.  January and February were relentlessly full of day-job work, which is to be expected.  It’s a high-pressure deadline-driven job and I expect to be challenged by it.  But I was beginning to feel stressed.  I was neglecting myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.  But I also love writing and learning new things independently.  I love doing creative things and making people smile with my art.  I was getting no time for any of that.  I wasn’t exercising.

That’s changing this month.  This is “Me First” March.  Since February 28 I’ve exercised every day and done an hour of homework every day.  Well, yesterday I rested my body and just did two hours of homework, but I’m still counting it.

What kind of homework is it?  Well, it’s either learning something new about MySQL, studying for the ITIL v3 Foundation Certification exam, playing bass guitar for an hour, or writing creatively for a solid hour.  On top of all that, Lent is around the corner and I’ll be giving up drinking until vacation time in April.  I’m also staying away from fried foods, added sugars, and white starches.

More than anything I think the act of stealing back an hour or two every day for myself has rebooted the part of my brain that was just going through the motions with work stuff.  I get into the office now and I budget my hours more effectively.  And, more importantly, I leave the office now and feel like I’ve left the work that needs to be done back at my desk.  I’m not carrying it around like I used to.  Life goes on even if I’m not thinking about what forms I’ll need to fill out first thing tomorrow and who I’m going to have to interview before next week.  I feel refreshed.

I’ve been asked by friends what they can do to help. Don’t let me malinger about going to the gym.  And if I’m doing homework, leave me alone for an hour.  Just make sure I’m having fun.  If I seem stressed get me to say something funny.  The good news is I feel less stressed already.  I feel empowered.  I feel like I’ve taken part of my life back.  Maybe I’ll extend this into April.


This morning @dudesong sent its last tweet.  I set it in motion a year and a month ago and, in 3-hour intervals, it broadcast my entire epic poem to the world for free.

I gave it away because I was sure I couldn’t sell it.  I’d like to be able to tell you that I was being high-minded about my art and that the book wanted to be free.  But, frankly, if I thought I could’ve made money with it I would have tried.

Now I’ve got some distance from it and I feel relieved.  Ultimately a writer wants to be read and I’m glad @dudesong had a following.  Not a nation of followers, but enough.  I think the next step might involve self-publishing, mostly so I can have a copy to keep on my shelf.  I’m still skeptical that anyone except people doing me a favor would want to buy it.