My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas. My house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It’s fun here, you’ll see!

Got a question, comment, proposal of marriage? Great! Email me at liz@theproductivecough.com

Contact Me, Folks!

Got a question, comment, proposal of marriage? Great! Email me at liz@theproductivecough.com

Show Your Love

October 24th, 2011

Exclusive Service

Despite what you’d think if you ever heard me belch, I am a lady. And as a lady, I like to indulge in the odd spa treatment. But a choosing a spa can be difficult. You don’t want to accidentally go someplace too fancy where they lull you into a suggestive state with hot stones and then sell you additional, more expensive services while you are too weak to turn them down. You also don’t want to pick a bargain place that’ll send you home with peeling, angry skin and an exciting new foot fungus.

Yes, internet research is crucial and, aside from the annoyingly officious Yelp reviews, a spa’s website provides great insight into what kind of experience you’re going to have. It also gives you a chance to check out what services they may have to treat problems you didn’t even know you had:

Reduce creepiness

If you ask me, $25 to reduce “creepiness” under your eyes is an excellent deal.

October 21st, 2011


As I groggily made my way through the parking lot at work a few mornings ago, I noticed a car covered in Braggy Parent Stickers. You know: “My child is a good citizen at Richards Elementary!” or “Proud parents of the Grover Cleveland Middle School annual Science Fair winner!” or sometimes just “Parent of an Honor Student!” The general idea of these stickers, I gather, is to make the parent appear to have done a fantastic job raising their child.

This particular vehicle had none of the typical stickers, but rather a line of about eight of the same sticker which read, “My Child Has Perfect Attendance at Somethingorother Elementary School!”

Instead of making this parent look like a success, this sticker, unfortunately, just makes the parent seem like a raging attendance tyrant. “Mom, I’m barfing a lot, and I have this gaping head wound.” “Too bad, Janet! You’re going to learn FRACTIONS. Now get in the mini-van before I hit you with this roux whisk!”

I don’t have a way to end this, except to ask: Why aren’t there any really good stickers? You know, ones that say, “My daughter ate 6 quarts of 5-Alarm Chili at the 11th Annual Wilson High Chili Cook-Off!”

October 17th, 2011

Fruit Rats

As a person who lives in a multi-family dwelling, I’m no stranger to the strongly-worded laundry room note. In apartment buildings, there is always someone who wants to announce their discontent with a written statement. Those people are always 100% MORE unnecessarily upset than someone who expresses themselves in person, which means I find them 100% more hilarious. I am sorry, but if you’re going to leave a note in ALL CAPS with 86 exclamation points about cleaning the lint trap, I’m going to laugh at you.

It’s a rare treat when you find a note that is neither angry nor rude, but somehow still hilarious. Those notes almost always fall under the “insane” category. Case in point:

Fruit Rats Edit


Okay, first, let’s clear this up: Paul checked. “Fruit Rats” are an actual thing, even though their name would suggest that they are nothing more than a leftover figment from Number Six’s lysergic acid days. I have met Number Six, and she strikes me as the kind of person who may have dropped a bunch of acid and invented new kinds of rats, so you can understand why I didn’t believe her at first.

I think she is an English teacher, which explains her fabulous word choice. The use of the word “invaded” makes me think of a bunch of Acid Rats riding on vehicles made of fruit, advancing toward our complex, brandishing tiny weapons. However, the syntax is unclear. Who is Number Six addressing? There isn’t a manager at our building, really, and the note doesn’t specify what kind of help. It’s just a plea for general assistance, and then a story about a rodent problem.

And then there is the issue of proof. How does she know the sound she’s hearing in her walls (unconfirmed) isn’t some other kind of rat? Or the guy I keep in the closet under my stairs scratching tally marks into the plaster? Answer: She doesn’t. So don’t everyone freak out.

Still, just to be on the safe side, I’m going to get rid of all the fruit in my apartment, and just eat chocolate and bacon.

October 11th, 2011

The Magic of Advertising

Teeny the magical clown

The other day, my Extraordinary Pal David Malloy (NOT pictured above)  showed me a bunch of issues of Genii magazine from the 1950s. For the three of you who DON’T know, Genii is the conjuror’s magazine, and was published for magicians, both professional and amateur, all over the country. It chronicled new tricks, awards ceremonies and noted performers in what I’m sure were probably interesting and well-researched articles. They were also very long, so I didn’t read any of them.

The ads were more my speed.

And who can blame me?

Ventroliquism Envy

Are people envious of ventriloquists? Can anyone really “entertain” with ventriloquism? These ads are fantastic! (Please note that they carry hand-carved figures that are fully clothed. NO NAKED DUMMIES FOR SALE, you perverts.)

I also like this one, because it starts off as a warning:


You IDIOT. How could you possibly function in your sad, sad life without ABRACADABRA? You just cannot afford it. Oh, wait. It’s just a magazine about card tricks and card trick-related news. Never mind then.

Plus, since it was the 50s, people didn’t have to worry about unintentional sexual innuendo and they could do things like this:

What Every Wife Should Know

He doesn’t want neckties. He wants magic, you prude. Give the man who married you (and not your more attractive sister) a “Happy Christmas.” Dear Editor of Genii, The heading of that ad, “WHAT EVERY WIFE SHOULD KNOW,” makes every other term below seem dirty. Even the [ahem] “tricks” seem like depraved bedroom acts. “ShimmeRing?” “Minor Miracle?” And if “Bill Paul’s Lying Saucers” doesn’t have to do with testicles, I don’t know what does.

I’d like to pause now and apologize for this post so far. Starting out with a jolly (horrifying) clown at the top of this post must have been very misleading. And I’m sorry about that. I know most of you are delicate, gentle creatures, who don’t normally talk about sexual maneuvers and ball sacks.

But I’m not, so put on your seatbelts and shut up.

[Hi, Mom!]

So! How about the Chinese Egg Bag, which sounds like a tremendously weird euphemism for male genitalia?

Chinese Egg Bag

I mean, for god’s sake, it talks about “solid wood” and a “super climax.” COME ON, 1950s. You didn’t see how any of that was maybe a little yucky?

[Hi, Mom!]

Moving away from the realm of nut hammocks and the like, let me ask you this: Who decided this was a good idea for a Christmas show?


Head Chopper Christmas

Bring your kids on down, dress ’em up in their little velvet Christmas suits. Shove grandpa in the car! We’re chopping off the heads of spectators in honor of the birth of Christ! It’s a must-see holiday extravaganza!

Man, people will be FLOCKING to see that. Your friendly neighborhood magician will make his $18.75 back in no time at all!

Okay, so just to review: Ventriloquist envy, aggressive magazine sales, sexual innuendo, yuletide beheadings, and now…


Animated Baby Skunk

Talk about value! One dollar for a perfect-looking replica of something that has rabies that you will always carry with you! AND it’s GREAT AT PARTIES: “Say! It appears someone is causing screams of laughter over by the punch bowl!” “Why, it’s Dale– what’s he got in his hand?” “I believe that’s a baby skunk, Suzy!” “Golly, just look at it’s life-like antics!” “I’ll be he didn’t even have to pay postage!” “Ha Ha! It is provoking mirth from me!”

I would totally go to that party.


September 22nd, 2011

Pearly Shells


You’re welcome.
(Courtesy of my cousin, Emily.)

September 21st, 2011

Chicken Wing Adventure Time

Hey, have you guys ever had chicken wings? Chicken Wings 1Because, here’s something: I’d never really had them until Friday. Well, I mean I’d had a chicken wing here or there. But they were either amateurish and gross or so spicy I wanted to hurl them into the road and scream. Friday was the first time I’d ever been properly schooled in the fine art of Chicken Wingery.

I went with a friend of mine who, if it was legal, would probably marry a chicken wing. I thought it best such a person accompany me on this kind of outing, since I’m always intimidated by any food that has bones in it. This is because one time, years ago, my mom bought and cooked some “discount fish” for our dinner one night. She put the platter of white, flaky fish meat on the table and said cheerfully, “Now, this wasn’t the most expensive fish, so there might be some bones.” Boy, she wasn’t kidding. It was like biting into a pin cushion. At one point I looked up at Louie, who was trying so hard not to gag that his eyes were watering. “Help,” he said softly. (Although, because he had to form the word around the bony fish bolus seated on his tongue, it sounded like “hehwp.”) I gurgled a little, because that was all I could do and pulled some bones out of my mouth. Finally, Louie gave up altogether. “Abort,” he moaned, and let the ball of half-chewed fish roll out of his mouth onto his plate. It was the first time we’d ever been fully unable to eat something that my brilliant cook of a mother had made for us.

And it changed us.

So, I wasn’t about to go blindly into a meal that was so obviously bone-centric. I needed a guide. I needed a Wing Man. (I’m so, so sorry… but I think we all knew that joke was inevitable.)

The first thing I learned is that you have to eat your wings with blue cheese, “none of that ranch shit.” Apparently it’s for losers.

Chicken Wings 1- edit 2

There was also a lesson in anatomy. A wing is composed of two parts: The drumstick and the “flat.” You can eat both. Flats are more awesome, though, because you can bust them apart and have Duel Meat Time. (That is not an industry term.) I got a plate containing eight chicken units. This means that my dinner represented the death of two chickens, which is not the best thing to tell yourself as you’re rending delicious, delicious flesh from bone. My plate also featured curly fries which I was told were there to “help soak up the grease.” When you’re using fried potatoes to soak up grease from something else, you’re in for an enormous treat.

What you do at this point is dunk the wing into the blue cheese and shove it into the side of your mouth and begin frantically dismantling chicken flesh with your bicuspids while carrying on a conversation. Or, if you’re me, you hold the chicken wing daintily in both hands and nibble at it with your front teeth like a rat while dodging eye contact. Then you ask your dining companion, “Am I doing it right?” Which is the stupidest thing that has ever come out of my mouth, bar none.

Then you have a bunch more chicken wings.

By this time, the spiciness of the sauce starts to build up on your tongue (and face and hands and pants) and you need this:

Chickens Wings 4

Carrots and celery. They’re the palate cleansers, I was told. It’s very refined, like “a sorbet of sorts.” A sorbet that you dunk into sauce. And, should you wish to avoid looking like a complete orange-faced lunatic,  those pre-moistened towelettes are critical.

I guess, if Friday is any indication, the rest of a proper chicken wing meal should be a complete whirlwind. I don’t really remember much, except for that I used WAY more napkins than anyone else in the restaurant and that, at some point during the madness, I hit my head.

Chicken Wings 3

The feedback on my meat pickin’ skills was positive. The only things I left on the bones were those bits of weird chicken sinew, which I guess is points off, but whatever.

Bones close

Turns out, I freaking love chicken wings, as I haven’t been able to get the entire experience out of my mind since. Although, I do feel I would have enjoyed the meal more if I wasn’t doing Dead Chicken Math the whole time.

September 12th, 2011


Every book that even remotely touches upon the subject of female psychology says something to the effect of, “The role a girl’s father plays in her life greatly shapes bla bla bla choosing a mate bla bla self-confidence bla bla, her adult persona, bla, etc.”


The same could also probably be be said of a girl’s relationship to her brother.

Now, you all may think you know me. You know I like dogs, and that I sing, and that have a unhealthy fascination with ugly food photographs. You know I like birthdays, and that I like to do almost anything that involves laughter. But you don’t really know me. You don’t know what kind of a person I really am.

Well, if the men in a girl’s life influence her development into an adult, then I think this picture of my father and brother will help you gain some insight into who I really am.


Dad & Louie Crazed

August 29th, 2011

I Sing: Marie

Two of you asked for it. Now all of you have to hear it. It’s me, singing “Marie” by Randy Newman. The pianist is Randy Porter, an absolutely extraordinary musician based in Portland, Oregon. He was kind enough to record this with me at his studio. Now go, and buy all of Randy’s albums.

[audio:http://theproductivecough.com/wp-content/uploads/Marie-Liz-Cole-Randy-Porter-.mp3|titles=Marie – Liz Cole & Randy Porter]
August 23rd, 2011

The Great Room Purge of 2011 (Part 3)

It’s baaaack! Inspired by a Sunday full of cleaning, I’ve decided to continue purging the room in my parents house that my stuff has been occupying. This time, it’s the Odd N’ Ends Edition!

Whatever you call them — Odds, Ends, Trinkets, Cherished Mementos, Flotsam or Crap — I’ve got loads. And loads. And I can’t seem to part with everything because it was, at one point, like totally important to me and my image.

For instance:

Yes. Two postcards, one of which is a penis joke. As you can tell by the holes, I hung these proudly in my room, as if to say, “This is me. This is who I am. Lover of fine acting and fine wee wee humor.”

Confession: I think I’d watched about 90 total minutes of Al Pacino doing anything at that point in my life. I bought the postcard along with several others from a gift shop on Hollywood Boulevard. (Incidentally, that was the last time I ever went to Hollywood Boulevard willingly.) I believe the collection also included a still of Bruce Willis in “Last Man Standing,” which I watched for the first time in my life last June.

What we learned here is that I was a humungous idiot in high school. Who was I trying to impress? Only about five people ever came over, and they already knew who I was. I wasn’t a film buff! I liked explosions and people falling down. Al Pacino isn’t known for his pratfalls, guys.

So that was the “me” I tried to market to my public. The real me was hidden away in drawers.

Drawers full of stationary “gems” that I found at a Korean school supply store.

I don’t know what failed cartoon series “Bobdog” is from, but I have five of these. And, when you open them, they play “Happy Birthday” in six keys at once. I remember buying them, thinking, “I’ll save one for me and give the rest to my most special friends!” But, when an occasion that might have called for giving a special friend a card arose, I couldn’t bare to part with them. Even though there are, remember, five of them. Now they’re all back at my apartment, sitting in a box with the rest of my unfortunately translated paper goods. I feel much calmer knowing they’re near me.

I never said I was healthy.

Underneath those, I found this, stuck to the inside of the drawer.


I can’t explain that one. But I think we all know the answer to the question.

I can also barely explain this:

For those of you who don’t know, Pala is an Indian Casino. I went there once in college and ended up signing up for the “Privileges” card. I think that just meant I could use it in the machines instead of actual money. But it felt fancy, particularly because it came with a lanyard. Nothing says “class” like using a card that you carry around your neck to play nickle slots.

I also found a pile of my old computer games from the mid-90’s. I lovingly picked up the box for The Secret of Monkey Island, and opened it to find this:

I wasn’t there for this, but I know exactly how it happened. My mom began writing a list of things she needed at the store, but realized that she also needed to take the garbage out, start the dishwasher and take something out of the oven. “Louis,” she asked my brother, “will you finish writing this list with me?” She handed him the piece of paper, and went about her business, spouting off additional grocery items. When she was finished, she wiped her hands on her apron and went to examine the list. Eggs, bread, and dinner.

And a motorcyclist being attacked by a killer steamroller being attacked by a robot being attacked by a UFO being attacked by a fighter jet. A Louis Cole Original.

So I hope you see that it’s not what you hang on your wall that defines you, but the shit you cram into boxes and drawers. Thank you.

August 9th, 2011

The Seagull


Pesky Seagul 3

“Wow!” I bet you’re saying. “What a fantastic photograph. Clearly that $56,000 camera was worth it!”

Aww, shucks, people. Thanks! I took this lovely photo on a boat tour to the Golden Gate Bridge during my recent vacation. I had such a great time! And don’t you just love that little seagull? Look at his little face and his little feet! Isn’t the whole thing just so tremendously pleasant? Well, isn’t it?


Here is why:

When I took this photo, I was not using the zoom function. This seagull was RIGHT THERE. Right above my head. He was following our boat because some idiots were holding snacks up in the air for him to grab. Let’s be clear: I’m all for feeding animals. I love to watch critters eat. But I am not in favor of having what is essentially a pooping machine flapping around right above me and my $56,000 camera.

And my dislike was not unjustified.

Pesky Seagul 2

Shortly after this photo was taken, he peed on us, the little charmer.