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I will live in the past, present, and future 

I was visited by three ghosts last night. I’m mostly pretty sure they were ghosts. They sure looked like ghosts. Then again, suck down enough Nyquil and anything starts to look like an apparition; once I mistook a neighborhood poodle—Snowball—for a Buddhist Zen master. Boy was my face red when I tried to perm all my neighbors and shave their butts for Westminster.

My most recent pharmaceutical-induced spiritual guides showed me the error of my ways. The first bombarded me with scenes from my past, to which I said, “I’ve seen this already, and re-runs are boring.” Then it smacked me around a bit. My right cheek is still a little pink and tender from all that spiritual enlightenment.

The second hit me with a horrifically boring slideshow of the present. Again, I opened my smart-alecky mouth too soon and felt the business end of a poltergeist beat down.

Finally, the third showed me my future. The ghost pushed me into a freshly dug grave. To be honest, I found the whole charade to be highly disrespectful, especially since the funeral was still in progress and all the little kids were crying at the sight of me getting my muddy feet all over Uncle Jimmy’s white coffin.

All that self-reflection left me with a sour taste in my mouth—not bad really, compared to my usual cocktail of booze, tears, and the bitter dregs of disappointment. But what really got to me was the chalky film on my tongue, which wouldn’t come off with the assistance of a belt sander. Now my tongue is just mangled confetti—punishment for a lifetime of bad-mouthing others.

Like any Dickensian revelation, the experience left me jonesing for some quick-fix repentances. There’s no taking back all the bad things I’ve said and the bad thoughts I’ve thunk. After all, those are shared memories. Yours. Mine. Ours. All I can do is apologize.

I’ve said some terrible things in my time. I’m not much good with figures, but if I had to give a rough estimate, I’d guess that I’ve made 1,487,990 inappropriate quips, jokes, our outright insults over the course of my lifetime. None of them are worth repeating. But for sake of conveying just how bad I’ve been, and not because it gives my any pleasure—truly, it pains me—I’m going to repeat a few:

One time I joked that SLO’s favored developer-brother Tom Copeland was born in a Pottery Barn and brother-developer Jim Copeland uses 1,000-thread-count Q-tips. And that doesn’t even really make sense if you think about it. Don’t think about it.

Regrettably, I started a rumor that Public Works Director/Los Osos sewer-meister Paavo Ogren takes revenge on his critics by pooping on their lawns. That’s ridiculous. Who would do such a thing? Certainly not Paavo—if that is his real name.

I perpetuated another falsehood that every member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is forced to get a tramp stamp sporting the PG&E logo and an illustration of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. That’s offensive in all sorts of ways, mostly to tramps and stamp enthusiasts.

I’m also sorry for joking that a night of drunken lechery between outgoing Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger resulted in a love baby born with gel in its hair. That was a real low blow to two well-groomed politicians and their ugly imaginary child.

No longer will I gossip that SLO Downtown Association Executive Director Deborah Cash tried to clean up the town by forcibly dust-busting street kids.

And I rue the day I snickered to coworkers that former sheriff Pat Hedges was sued by a local preschool for the overly aggressive use of baby monitors.

This year will be different. For the next 365 days—at least—I will be docile. Polite, even. A new Shredder shall emerge from the smoldering ashes of the curmudgeon you once knew and loathed. My tongue will be free of slander, libel, and the occasional juvenile chuckle when local politicians comment that the days stretched endlessly before us in this new economy will be long and hard. As is the tradition, it’s prediction time! Wheeee.

• Newly elected Sheriff Ian Parkinson will unzip his costume and reveal himself to be three children standing on each others’ shoulders. The little rascals will still do a better job than the last guy.

• Scientists will discover a new species in the California Valley with its habitat directly in the footprint for the proposed solar projects there. Despite there being no previous knowledge of this new species, the giant cute-a-potamus will promptly be placed on the endangered species list.

Sarah Palin will win an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Academy Award in an elaborate ploy to shut her up.

New Times will turn 25 years old. Excited to finally be able to rent a car, New Times will gather all its buddies for a road trip, get a DUI, and later be found picking up trash on the side of the 101 as the Trib stands by wagging its finger in a pretentious show of judgment. But seriously, folks, don’t litter.

• I’ll be visited by three more ghosts after failing to change my ways.

Shred not lest ye be shredded. Clear your conscience by sending confessions to

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