LinkedIn as Artist’s Medium (and congratulate me on my work anniversary while you are at it)


I have discovered that LinkedIn is an amazing new absurdist medium for creative expression.

I started to realize the potential of LinkedIn as Artist’s Medium in February, 2014, when I retired from Wall Street. After updating my end-date for my old job, on a whim I added a new position:

I know, it’s a hamster wheel and not a rat in a race, but it’s the same idea.


Title: Rat

Company: Rat Race

Dates: July, 1968 – February, 2014.

I was just having fun. I didn’t expect anything to happen. Who looks at anything anyone writes on their LinkedIn profile anyway? The modal message is, “See how great I am.” That is only slightly less annoying than Facebook, where everyone is screaming “Look at me (and what I ate for lunch).” Yuck.

But after I officially retired as Rat from The Rat Race I immediately began receiving the most charming notes from people. I reconnected with some people I hadn’t talked to in a long time and made some new friends.

It was wonderful for a while, But, then it died down.

Then I added a new entry called Human at Human Race, that runs from October, 1952, to present.

I got a new flurry of new messages, and it was all good again.

For a while. Continue reading “LinkedIn as Artist’s Medium (and congratulate me on my work anniversary while you are at it)”

I Insist We Call Each Other Perchildren


To be clear, this is a call for humor when dealing with a serious subject.
I do not mean to offend. Seriously.

I was born a male with a female name

You cannot believe the kind of childhood trauma I went through and the only way for me to avoid post traumatic stress is for you to change your ways.

In order that you not trigger unfortunate emotions in me I must insist that:

  • You must refer to me as a perchild and I will do the same for you.
  • Rather than use MR (for “mister”) and MS (for whatever that stands for) we must henceforth use PC (for perchild, of course).
  • You must use the pronoun FF when referring to me in the third person because I do not self-identify as binary but rather nothing less than hexadecimal.

I will explain these terms but first I will explain why I insist that you change for my benefit and for the benefit of all the other miserable perchildren who suffer in ways you cannot fathom.

My Horrible History

I was bullied as a child.

You have no idea what kind of wounds can be inflicted on you if an adult imagines you were bullied as a child. When I was young the children I had fun with made fun of my name because I dressed like a boy and my name was Brooke.

My parents called this “teasing” and they said they were having fun with my name, not making fun of me.

I believed them then.

Today, I am enlightened and see that my parents were in cahoots with the bullies. Now, Continue reading “I Insist We Call Each Other Perchildren”

Holiday Greetings


“I would go back to the drawing board if it hadn’t been repossessed last week.”

“Given the economy, and now that you have written the proof that two can live as cheaply as one, I guess I will marry you.”

This cartoon was suggested by Brooke Allen, illustrated by Alicia Reeves, and published in the November 21, 2008 on-line edition of Science Careers Magazine in the story Finance’s Quant(um) Mechanics.

How to Be a Saboteur

© 2009 Brooke Allen
Originally published in International Family Magazine

When I was young, shooting a TV wasn’t as unusual as you might think.

I grew up at a time when it was not uncommon for a young boy or girl to receive a .22 rifle as a graduation present from the sixth grade.

Youngsters would take their rifles to the garbage dump and televisions were a favorite target. They produce such a satisfying sound when the picture tube implodes.

This is because they contain a vacuum and if the picture tube is broken, it implodes. The glass in the front is thick but the back tapers down to a neck of a few inches in diameter and as thin as a light bulb. The safe way of destroying a picture tube is to wrap a blanket around that neck and give it a light tap. The towel will collect the glass shards, and the thick face will easily stop the inrushing air.[1]

However, if you crack the face of the picture tube, the air will be funneled into the narrow neck, which will break off from the pressure and become a high velocity projectile.

A friend was at the dump and shot a picture tube that was outside of its case. The neck was facing him, and he managed to nick a corner of the glass where it was thickest. The neck traveled about fifty feet before it hit him. He was not badly injured, but good enough to make the story worth telling.

My father shot our TV through its face as it stood in our living room. The picture tube was still in the case and the debris was contained.

If you were to shoot a television or computer screen these days, I’d suggest you go for a flat panel. It won’t sound as good, but it is safer.

When shooting appliances, do not shoot at anything that can shoot back.


(Hopefully, they have not gotten wind of this story, and have not decided on preemptive action.)

[1] For details about picture tube implosions, see:

My Good Name

© 2008 Brooke Allen
Originally published in International Family Magazine
Republished in Folks Magazine on 8/22/09.


“Is Brooke Allen there?”


“I’m sorry, I have the wrong number.”


When I first moved to New York City a well-meaning friend gave me a book about surviving in the city. It served no purpose but to destroy all pleasure in life: When pushed in front of the subway, lie down in the ditch between the rails. Carry your wallet in your front pocket since your back pocket will be sliced open with a razor. And by all means, install three locks so the burglar finds your neighbor’s door more attractive.

Immediately after moving to the city, phone calls like the one above were repeated every week or two.

I was convinced that someone was casing my apartment and the instant I didn’t answer I would be robbed. What’s worse, since the caller’s voice sounded different each time it appeared there was an inexhaustible supply of crooks.

Two years into my torture one of my mystery callers explained it to me. There was another Brooke Allen who lived on East 88th street. Her number was unlisted and mine was.

I tracked her down. We exchanged phone numbers and thus began a long and entertaining relationship.

I would call her answering machine and play her messages on my machine.

I became comfortable acting on the various party invitations that arrived in my mailbox every so often.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Brooke Allen.”

One year I held a Christmas party. My friend called to say, “I’m confused. My sister-in-law received an invitation from you for the same date but a different location.” It appeared we had both friends and party dates in common.

Eventually we just held a joint party: Brooke Allen squared. Everyone might as well meet each other.

She is an established writer. When her play, “The Big Love” with Tracy Ullman opened on Broadway, I taped her poster on my office door.

“I had no idea you were you were so accomplished,” a coworker would comment.

“There are many sides of me you don’t know.” Yea, like that I’m shameless and I’ve never written a Broadway play.

When I wrote a letter to the New York Times, she got the comments.

When she wrote an essay in the Nation called “Our Godless Constitution” questioning the Religious Right’s right to claim we were founded as a Christian nation, I got the threats.

When I went to register for my MBA at New York University, they told me I was unwelcome there. It appears Brooke Allen had once been pissed at NYU, told them to get lost and put a stop payment on a tuition check.

While I was on vacation with a girlfriend, a friend of hers called my apartment and was told by our house-sitter that “They are in Europe.”

That friend them met Brooke at dinner and told her of the stranger on her phone. Only after she and the policeman found her apartment untouched did it dawn on her.

Revenge comes to all those who wait.

So tell everyone you know about that great writer, Brooke Allen. Tell them to look up Brooke’s books on Amazon and order them. Just don’t tell them she is not me.

Take pride in, protect and promote your good name, particularly if you share it with others.

Environmentalist, Get Thee to an Editor

© 2007 Brooke Allen
Originally published in International Family Magazine

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)[1] are neurotoxins and potent carcinogens that were once used extensively in cooling oils for electrical transformers back when we were fearless (and stupid).

Transformers can overheat and catch fire. Breathing the smoke from a burning transformer containing PCBs can put firemen at more risk than they signed up for.

At the train station in Hoboken, New Jersey, I spied a large transformer with a sticker on it that said:


What did this sticker mean?

Did a protestor place the sticker there thinking he was working in the best interests of workers, firemen, and the general public?

Or did it mean that the transformer had been tested and was free of PCBs?

A falsely reassure a maintenance person or a fireman might put himself at great risk. Or he might take it as a warning and fail to put out a fire putting others at risk.

These two words (well, one word and an acronym) take my prize for the shortest ambiguous sentence.

Don’t believe what you can misread.


Ambiguity is the soul of the nitwit.

[1] Replacing more than one of the hydrogen atoms in a biphenol with chlorine atoms produces a Polychlorinated Biphenol; but you knew that already just from the name.


© 2007 Brooke Allen
Originally published in International Family Magazine

“Granddad, something’s different.”

“What’s that?”

“I haven’t seen you smoking a cigar since we got here.”

“I quit a year ago.”

“Why? I thought you loved those things.”

“Nope. I hated them.”

This was puzzling. “If you hated them, then why did you smoke.”

“It started in the 1920’s. I was the head of the United Press office in Havana. The other men in the office told me that, since I was the highest paid man there, it was entirely appropriate, expected even, that I have a mistress.”

“When I told your grandmother that everyone thought I should have a mistress, she blew a gasket.”

“When she finally calmed down, she said, ‘I guess I have been too strict. I will allow you just one vice, but a mistress is out of the question.'”

“Since cigars were so cheap in Havana, I took up smoking.”

“You didn’t like cigars?”

“No. I hated those things.” He laughed, “I wanted a mistress.”

“So, why did you quit.”

“Anne told me that for my 80th birthday I could have a mistress, so I quit.”

That was interesting, “So, now do you have a mistress?”

“No. It is probably too late and I’m not really interested. But I’m sure glad to be done with those cigars.”
Find alternatives to doing the wrong thing.

Hobbies are good. Carcinogens are bad.