Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Monday, January 31, 2005
When You Care Enough to E-Send The Very Best
I just sent a friend of mine a birthday e-card. How fucking lazy am I? I've fallen back on these a lot over the last few years. In my life, I've rarely been able to get it together enough to send regular cards. I went through a period in the mid-90s when I sent Mother's Day cards Next Day Air five years in a row. Sometimes I got busy and forgot. Sometimes I was too poor to buy a stamp until the day before the frigging thing needed to be there. Sometimes I was just such a complete and utter sloth that the card sat, stamped, ready to go, on my desk for a week and I just never got up the willpower to pick it up and drop it in the mailbox. Pathetic.
So now I use e-cards, which present their own particular problems. For one thing, there are certain people in my life--not to name names, but let's just say that I wouldn't be here without their sperm/eggs--who, through no real fault of their own, but rather a sort of generational lag, don't really have a good handle on computers. Actually, their handle is just good enough to be able to read this and then chide me for my slander. One might call them technophobes. One might also call them luddites. One might also call them People Who Don't Much Give a Shit About Computers. Sending an e-card to them is somewhat like sending a yo-yo to a paraplegic. It ends up being too frustrating to be worth it.
Another problem is that it's just not as personal. Granted, there's nothing all that personal about a greeting card created by a multi-national conglomerate to begin with, but at least with the paper version, the greetee knows that you took the time to swing by the drug store/grocery/Hallmark Gold Crown/adult bookstore to look for something for them. E-cards let you do it while sitting on your fat, hairy ass. This is assuming you've got ass-hair.
The main problem with e-cards, though, is one that you run into with regular greeting cards as well: they mostly suck goat-tits.
This is why I have, for years, engaged in the practice of sending completely inappropriate cards to people. I know that I'm not going to find a card that perfectly expresses, "You're my cousin who I haven't seen in four years and now you're getting married. You didn't invite me, but my mom said I have to send you something, so here's a crock pot. Have a nice life." They don't make those. They don't make cards that say, "You're my friend because you cleaned vomit off of me and kept me from hitting that biker dude that time in that one place." They make cards that say, "Happy birthday from both of us." Wow. Doesn't that say it all? This is why I send Bar Mitzvah cards to my friends on their 31st birthday. It's why I send Congratulations on Your Promotion cards to couples on their anniversary. It's why I pick the most egregiously bible-thumping card I can find to my agnostic friends and Ziggy cards to my most cynical friends. If the card isn't going to say what you really want it to say, why pretend it's even close.
I'm going to say right here and now that I think this sort of anarchy is needed now more than ever. On the day when AT&T merged with SBC; at a time when Bush wants us give our social security money to the stock market; in an era where Amazon.com suggests five hundred things you ought to buy based on a web page you looked at once by accident because that's the way they've taken the old McDonald's "suggestive sell" approach to mind-boggling new heights, we need to skew their numbers.
Hop on Hallmark.com. Send "To a Lovely Bride" cards to your gay friends. Send something from the Mahogany line to the most caucasian person you can think of. Send an "I'm so think I can't horny" card to your priest ('cause he probably is, y'know). Let's make Hallmark think that the public is wanting, nay, demanding more of the cute little kitty cards, but for cancer victims. Let's fuck up their marketing.
Or are we now too lazy for even this?
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Iraq the Vote
Iraqis took to the polls today in astonishing numbers. Early estimates put the number of eligible voters who actually participated as high as 70%, a truly impressive figure, especially when one compares it to the last election in the U.S., where turn-out hovered at around 8%.
So President Bush, in his State of the Union address this week, is planning to crow a bit about what he sees as vindication for the U.S.'s ouster of Saddam Hussein. Hairshirt has received, through one of our many high-placed anonymous sources, an advance copy of Bush's speech and we wanted to share some of the highlights with you.
"Senators, Congresspersons, Trekkies, my fellow Americans, as I begin this second term as your president, I wanted to take the opportunity this address gives me to say four words to my critics: In Your Face, Bitches! Oh, Yeah! They voted! They rocked the vote! Ungh! [sixty seconds or so of pelvic thrusts and arm pumping]"
"...Democrats would have had you believe that the Iraqi people weren't ready to vote, that it was too soon. Ha! Le'me tell you, you want to make sure that people vote? You want to get them to the polls in droves? It's real simple. Just bomb the shit out of the country and make sure the only places with electricity and working bathrooms are the polling centers. Works like a motherfucker."
"...An' I've heard all I'm gonna stomach about how Iraqis might question the legitimacy of a government that had so little participation from a group as large as the Sunnis. Y'know what my answer to that is? Fuck the Sunnis. They don't want to join in? Let 'em sit on the sidelines holding their schmeckies. Happens all over the world, folks. Not everybody has an equal say. It's like the Quebecois party in Canada or the Greens in England or the Democrats in America; sometimes not everybody has an equal say. Boo-fucking-hoo."
"...Now that my cabinet is being approved--you can kiss my ass, Ms. Boxer--and this war is no longer an issue that anybody's gonna pay attention to, I'm ready to get on with the major items on my agenda for this term. I think the creation of personal social security accounts is a necessary step. If we don't, you're going to see seniors crawling around in the gutter, knifing each other over scraps of bread. Not that some of those fights wouldn't be cool to watch, but it'd get old after awhile."
"...Personal accounts are the way to go. It's not the government's money, it's your money. All of us have experience investing our millions of dollars in the market. Let's take the wisdom we've gained through investing our own money and use it to make our futures as sound as my mandate!"
"...I think my legacy, aside from being recognized as the president who kicked the most ass, is going to be how I took a broken education system and turned it into a genius machine. 'Cause that's what we're heading toward. We're gonna make our schools into factories that pump out brainiacs. Let me tell you, if our kids can master the standardized tests I'm going to put in place, they'll have proved that they have know-how, concentration and the ability to fill in little bubbles. I want standardized testing extended to high schools. I want standardized testing begun in kindergarten. Just 'cause they're only beginning to learn how to hold a pencil don't mean they can't take a standardized test. It's the wave of the future. When our computer masters enslave us, are they going to care that we know what in hell that guy meant when he wrote Moby Duck? No! They're going to want us to be able to fill in bubbles that they can read! Standardize it!"
"...and, in summation, I think that my vision has been proven quite visionary. I'm pretty sure nobody's gonna be looking to criticize me any more. In fact, I'm going to walk out of this room and murder a hobo, and I'm betting there ain't a goddamn one of you that'll say 'boo'. Four more years! Woo-hoo!"
It is expected that there may be some revisions to the president's address. He may choose to do a full minute and a half of pelvic thrusting and arm-pumping.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
I'm preparing to sell some of my old comic books. Before I could do this, I had to go through and take an inventory of what I have. I've been collecting comics since about 1981, so I've got a lot of 'em, and there were some that had me scratching my head. Such as...
Friday, January 28, 2005
X is to Y as...
I like analogies. La la la. Analogies, analogies, analogies.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
The Bush League
…And there came a day when the mightiest heroes of the right wing gathered together to defend President Bush’s policies from attack. This band of warriors fight against evil, terrorism and common sense. They are…The Bush League!
Cheney is BUSINESSMAN—Rocketed to Earth from the distant planet Profiton, the infant Dick Cheney was found by two accountants, who raised him to fight for half-truths, financial gain and the American Capitalist way. Now, using his super-strength, his super-grouch-vision and his super-political influence, Cheney fights a never-ending battle to make the world safe for companies in which he has a financial stake.
Rice is YES WOMAN—Raised by a hyper-intelligent race of Amazons, Condaleeza Rice was able to play the piano, speak five languages and kill a man with a cocktail napkin, all by the age of three. Now, using tools like her invisible plane and invisibler agenda, Condi Rice travels the globe, striving to foster world peace, as long as it doesn’t contradict the president’s policies.
Rumsfeld & Wolfowitz are WARHAWK AND BOMB BOY—When his parents were killed by a hippie peace activist, young Donald Rumsfeld vowed to avenge them by doing his utmost to promote war. Now, with his young ward Paulie at his side in his guise of Bomb Boy, the Defense Department Duo battle the forces of stability and rational thought.
Spelling is MISS SPELLING—A robot that developed sentience, Republitron XJ300, or “Margaret Spelling” has been programmed to sharpen the minds of our nation’s youth by giving them high-pressure standardized tests. Beware, teachers! For you will be held accountable by the Mighty Mistress of Multiple Choice!
Mineta is THE TOKEN—Actually, there’s nothing special at all about Norm Mineta. He’s got no powers, he’s got nothing. But Bush wanted a Democrat.
Norton is LADY LUMBERJACK—While hiking in the woods, Gale Norton was contacted by the Spirit of Mother Nature, who told Gale that trees were trying to take over the planet and must be stopped. Toward that end, Mother Nature gave Gale the power to chop down trees and strip lands of their natural resources. Now, in her role as Interior Secretary, she uses her powers to fight out-of-control environmentalism and restore the proper balance.
McClellan is THE MOUTH—After spending a year studying in the Orient, Scott McClellan learned the secret of clouding men’s minds. Now, he uses that power to thwart the evil machinations of the White House Press Corps—a group of power-hungry maniacs whose goal is to hold the administration accountable for its actions—by turning their attention to other topics.
Gonzales is LESS CRAZY MAN—Gifted with the amazing ability to be less certifiably insane than John Ashcroft equipped with his Saner-mobile and Not-as-Nuts Belt, Al Gonzalez stalks the streets of the nation’s capitol, righting wrongs and restricting rights.
Rove is MASTERMIND—Although lacking actual super powers, Karl Rove is possessed of the keenest tactical mind on the planet. Capable of derailing an opponent’s campaign with nothing more than a thumbtack, a hooker and a teaspoon of peanut butter, Rove is the brain of the team.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Suicide Is [Not] Painless
Reading today's news, I saw that a guy in California caused the worst train wreck in our country in five years or so. This dipshit parked his SUV on the tracks, after stabbing himself and slashing his wrists, because he was suicidal. Then, as the train approached, he changed his mind and jumped out. Ten people died and about a hundred and eighty were injured in the resulting collision.
This adds credence to my position that suicide is the stupidest fucking thing you can attempt.
Mind you, this is coming from someone who has been suicidal. There were a couple of times in my life, long ago now, when I spent hours sitting on the edge of my bed, contemplating it. I even made a really moronic attempt to strangle myself by tying my tie real tight. Not effective.
All that was a long, long time ago. In addition to the fact that I've just been a generally happier person in the ten years since I met my wife (which, given the evidence on this blog, tells you how cranky I used to be), I've just seen enough over the years to conclude that you've gotta have a head filled with rotting coleslaw to think it's a good idea to kill yourself.
I worked for a long time in an industry that brought me in contact with people who'd attempted suicide and fucked it up. I worked with more than one person who had attempted to shoot themselves and had, instead, ended up with horribly mangled faces that they then had to live with. I worked with one kid who'd basically destroyed their digestive system because they'd attempted to off themselves with Drano on several occasions and had to eat through a tube for pretty much ever. I worked with another kid who had to live with a tracheostomy after a failed hanging had ruined their trachea.
This stuff alone had led me to the conclusion that there are just no guarantees that you're gonna succeed. And if you live through it, there's a pretty good chance you're going to fuck yourself up in the process.
Additionally, think about the fact that everyone--everyone, fucked-up shithead though they may be--has at least someone who cares about them. There are definitely times when we can't see that. There are definitely times when it doesn't feel like that. But, unless you are living your life on a remote desert island and every person you've ever known is dead and you come into contact with not a living soul, your life touches someone else's life. I hate to go all Capra on you there, but it's a goddamn fact.
How many people who slip into a bathtub with a razor blade or close the garage door on their running car stop to think about the poor schmuck who's gonna stumble across them and then have to deal with it? It's just so astronomically inconsiderate. It's kind of the most narcissistic thing you could ever do.
I think the only real exception to that is if you're a Samurai. If you have dishonored your self and your employer and your moral code demands that you kneel on the mat and commit harai karai, then okay. Otherwise, you're a selfish dick.
And it's so goddamn ridiculous because, as Mister Train Wreck proves, the inclination to kill yourself passes. It's temporary. You come to the realization that Mary Beth wasn't the only thing making your life worth living. You suddenly see that the pressure your parents are putting on you to be the greatest flobotomist in the world is only as strong as you let it be. You sober up. The suicidal mood will go away. But taking the step of actually making the attempt doesn't. It's with you as long as the scars or the feeding tube or the hole in your throat.
So don't fucking do it. Call a friend. See a shrink. Watch Young Frankenstein. Pet your dog. It's been clinically proven that you can't kill yourself if your dog is licking your face. Just doesn't work.
See, here at Hairshirt, we realize that you only get the most out of your misery if you're alive to get it. Stay miserable. Stay alive
Aries: Yes, mittens are a good way to keep your hands warm during frigid winter weather, but please take them off before you perform surgery.
Taurus: Your blind date goes horribly when you neglect to put on deodorant, underwear and your dentures.
Gemini: At some point, you're going to need to stop and ask yourself if the World Record for Most Pieces of Cheesecake Shoved Up Your Ass is something to which you truly want your name attached.
Cancer: Avoid elevators this week. Also, stay away from escalators, staircases, catapults, bucket lifts, human pyramids, ladders, pogo sticks and high heels. In fact, you should just lay down. On the plus side, it's an excellent time for you to limbo.
Leo: Wearing clothes that show off your body is one thing. Wearing clothes that show the world your genitals is another.
Virgo: This week, you will crave toast to the point of obsession. Give in. Sweet, sweet toast.
Libra: Any further delay in changing your cat's litter box could result in a fine from the EPA.
Scorpio: While it's true that most everybody picks their nose, you'll find that the great majority of people don't save what they find in plastic envelopes labeled with the time and date.
Sagittarius: Congratulations! You've made it almost a full month into the new year without anyone reminding you of how totally shitty your life is! Until now.
Capricorn: Your optimism is a source of wonder to everyone around you; particularly those who have witnessed your persistence in believing that the line "I've got a mind for business and a bod for sin" is going to score you any ladies in the clubs. Of course, everyone around you might be confusing optimism with stupidity and an unwillingness to evolve beyond who you were in 1988.
Aquarius: Staying warm during this week's cold weather is difficult for you as you find yourself repeatedly waking up in a puddle of frozen vomit outside of a bar.
Pisces: Pisces who live in Iraq might want to think about using an absentee ballot this weekend.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Hollywood Hairshirt Handicapping
Ever since Van Helsing was released last year and Best Lead Actor rumors started circulating for one Mr. Hugh Jackman, I've had people begging me to handicap this year's Oscar nominees for them. It seems that, as I've seen every one of the movies nominated at least twice and have an IQ of 287, I am the closest thing the world has to a perfect Oscar-ometer. I'm simply never wrong. So what follows are my picks for a selection of the categories. Use this information for your office Oscar Pool, to show off at parties or for when you're having a screaming debate with those voices in your head. But use it wisely.
We start with the most hotly contested and controversial category, Best Short-Subject Documentary. My pick in this category, Hardwood, is definitely the underdog. Very few people think that a how-to piece on installing flooring has a chance against a powerhouse like Sister Rose's Passion, which is of course about a Nun who sees the Mel Gibson movie and decides to recreate it using her stuffed pig collection. Sure, Sister Rose is the sexier of the two, I mean, who can resist hot nun-on-nun action? But I think the Academy is nothing if not a practical organization, full of many members who might like to re-floor their apartments.
We move next to Best Foreign-Language Film and the crowd-pleasing favorite, Les Choristes, a movie about an unconventional teacher who inspires a group of French boys to sing off-key just to "piss of Le Man." While I agree that this film tells a story that needs to be told, I'm putting my money on the German entry, Der Untergang. Who can forget the tear-jerking scene where lead actor Bruno Ganz, as the plucky leader of a gay street gang, drops to his knees, cradling the dead body of his lover and wails, "Warum haften sie sahne mais in meinem leiderhosen?" Not a dry eye in the haus.
Best Achievement in Sound Editing isn't even a contest at all. There's no way you can compare the lame choo-choo noises of Polar Express and the barely adequate voice synching of The Incredibles with the fact that Paul N.J. Ottosson figured out how to make the "thwip" noise when Spidey slings his webs in Spiderman 2.
For Best Original Score, I'm going with John Debney's haunting orchestrations for The Passion of the Christ. Y'know, I walked out of the theater and I just could not stop humming that tune they played when Christ was being nailed up. That one's a toe-tapper.
Anthony Pratt and Celia Bobak have a lock on Best Liberace Wet-Dream. Wait. Scratch that. The actual name of the award is Best Achievement in Art Direction. Well, whatever you want to call it, these two made a movie that looks like Quentin Crisp's happy place and I think they need some recognition.
Best Adapted Screenplay, I think, will be going to Diarios de Motocicleta. Not only did they have to research all sorts of technical facts about motorcycles and diaries, but they did it in Spanish. I have trouble asking, "Donde esta mis pantalones, puta?" I can't imagine writing a whole movie like that.
I've done a detailed analysis of previous winners of Best Director and I've found that, 99.9% of the time, the director of the film with the shortest title has one. As Ray has only three letters, I'm giving this one to Taylor Hackford.
Natalie Portman's speech at the Golden Globes was so inane that I'm convinced the Academy is going to shun her like an Amish hooker. Which throws the Best Supporting Actress momentum heading into the awards to Sophie Okonedo. Sure, Hotel Rwanda is a depressing movie that's not getting the critical love-notes that might signal Best Picture, but her name is just so cool. Okonedo. It's fun to say. Try saying it. Now say it three times fast. I could do that all day.
Best Supporting Actor is sometimes a chance for the Academy to recognize comedic movies that they don't feel have the gravitas to win Best Actor, so many people are looking at Thomas Haden Church for Sideways. Not me, though. For my money, the scene in The Aviator where Alan Alda actually blew Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the bravest performances I've ever seen. Who knew that Hawkeye also had Hot Lips?
As much as I adore any actress whose last name is also a porn mag, I'm thinking this is not Hilary's year. My Best Actress choice? Imelda Staunton. Why? How about Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies, Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown, Miranda Richardson in Tom & Viv and Emma Thompson in Remains of the Day? The Academy absolutely loves to nominate English women in this category and yet they nine times out of ten pick the only American in the bunch. The Brits are due for a win, man. They're due.
Clint Eastwood is going to win for Best Actor. I saw Million Dollar Baby and, frankly, he sucked. He stunk up the screen in the role of a guy who sells his baby for a million dollars (hence the title). But he's like 94 years old. No matter who they give it to, he's going to go all senile and think they called his name. So, to save us all from the embarrassment of him getting into a shoving match with Johnny Depp, I'm betting they'll just give it to him.
Which brings us to Best Picture. I'm going out on a limb with this one. Bear with me. It's never happened before, what I'm about to predict. Never. I think we're going to see something nobody's expecting. I think Academy voters are going to ignore the list of nominees and we're going to see a write-in campaign. I think that, when the envelope is pulled open, we're going to hear the presenter (who I'm predicting will be Charo or the "Can you hear me now?" Guy) say "And the Oscar goes to...holy shit! The Oscar goes to Surviving Christmas!" You heard it here first.
So those're my picks. They're pretty damn solid, so if you want to go ahead and wager your homes on them, I think you can sleep pretty easy. Also, my wife is going to be out of town and we'll be spending our first Oscars in 10 years apart, so I'll be looking for someplace to get really drunk and yell things at the screen like, "Angela Lansbury! You slut! Those are fake!" I love the Oscars.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
As I sit here snowbound, waiting for my moustache to thaw out from my last trek outside—and I’m being literal here, the goddamn thing actually gathers ice crystals in weather like this—I’m taking a look at the news on Salon and I’m thinking how much nicer it would be if we all lived in an 80s sitcom.
Who would you like to have making decisions about the directions of our country? Do you want the Crawford Cretin with his finger on the button? Or would you rather have Charles in Charge? Personally, I think Mr. Baio’s gentle good sense, even in light of the wacky schemes of Willie Aimes, would guide our nation in the right direction.
In a world where reality television teaches us that we should form alliances of convenience with people we can then turn on when it’s advantageous for us, where is there a better example of true friendship than in the bond of camaraderie between Balki and Larry? If an uptight Chicagoan and a backward sheep-farmer from Mypos can live together for seven years, even marrying their upstairs neighbors in a double wedding and apparently not moving into new apartments, why is it increasingly difficult for us to reach out to others?
And there’s certainly no better bastion of strong, loving families of all sorts than the 80s sitcom. From the sassy but loving family of 227 to the single father struggling to reconnect with his son on Silver Spoons, sitcoms taught us that the bond of blood is stronger than the pull of gangs or the lure of the popular clique at school who wanted us to steal a multi-colored sweater from The Fashion Bag as our initiation test. From today’s families, we learn that growing up the child of a successful recording artist or a billionaire hotel tycoon means that you can crap on everyone around you and be a gigantic whore.
I know that 80s sitcoms don’t have all the answers. Monroe on Too Close for Comfort never had to deal with HIV. Tony never got the idea to file sexual harassment charges against Angela on Who’s the Boss. I know that. I also know that, if Benson were Secretary of State, he’d have stood up to George W. instead of shilling for a misguided war.
It’s all too depressing. I guess I just want to go where everybody knows my name.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Health Care, Chapter Two, Part 2
Joan rinsed her coffee mug in the sink and jumped in the shower. Steam always helped her think better. They’d be here in about half an hour, and they’d probably be hungry, so food would be a good idea. Maybe some pancakes. She didn’t have any sausage, though. Could she pull off pancakes sans sausage? Would a side of eggs suffice?
Why the hell was she worrying about side-dishes? Ben would be eating pure misery for breakfast, which just doesn’t leave room for hash-browns. There wasn’t going to be any time for beating around the bush, was there? Fuck. Knowing Ben like Joan knew Ben, she could be pretty sure that, as soon as Claire’s stuff was out of the car, he’d want to beat feet for Simone’s place. Which meant that her sentence was going to have to be something along the lines of “Hi! Welcome to Seattle! Your whore girlfriend skipped town last week with my asshole brother! Want some coffee?” This promised to be more awkward than the time Joan had inadvertently sneezed a loogie on the communion plate in seventh grade.
One thing was certain in all of this. Her brother would be getting no Christmas card this year. What the hell was he thinking? He’d been Ben’s friend since they ran around in Batman Underoos. Well, she was pretty sure they probably still did that, but the point was that Clive had been one of those who’d told Ben what a force of evil Simone was. One hummer and that goes out the window, along with eighteen years of friendship? Joan had never given her brother credit for much, but she hadn’t thought he’d be capable of being such an enormous cocksmoker.
Joan grabbed her towel and dried off before stepping out of the shower. As her feet hit the cold but dry tile, she looked around her tidy bathroom, taking in the well-ordered lotions, the neatly folded towels and the crust-free sink for probably the last time. Claire wasn’t quite as clean as Joan was, but she could be browbeaten into maintaining a room at a level above slovenly and certainly well out of the range of disastrous. But Clive’s disappearing act meant, it suddenly dawned on Joan, that Ben would probably be staying here for the foreseeable future. He didn’t have a job and, with both his best friend’s couch and his quasi-girlfriend’s bed now hundreds of miles to the south, he had no place to sleep except in this apartment. And Joan had lived with Ben before.
In the Big House, he’d been the one who habitually left his plate to form a nigh-impenetrable dried marinara crust in the sink. His idea of vacuuming was to turn the sweeper on, wait five seconds and turn it off. And he left the bathroom looking like it had been hit by four or five natural disasters at once. Oh, sweet Christ. Now he was going to do the same thing here. So, the question became, did Joan’s fondness for Ben and her sense of responsibility for what her shithead brother had done outweigh her utter revulsion at the thought of losing her hard-fought-for tidiness?
She sighed and put on her robe, heading down to make breakfast and supposing that she’d have to resign herself. In that case, she thought, probably the best way to break this news to Ben was to get everyone nice and high first.
“Better ice up the bong,” she said to the cat.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Health Care, Chapter Two, Part 1
“Okay. I’ll see you in a bit.”
Joan put the phone back in the cradle and took a giant slug of her coffee. She hung her head between her legs and let her spine stretch out for a moment before sitting back up. This was not going to be an easy day. Months. For months, she’d been waiting anxiously for the day when Claire finally got here.
Long-distance relationships were, in Joan’s opinion, a lot like bisexuality: they existed solely in the heads of people who were trying to kid themselves. This whole, I like you a lot, but I’m living on the other side of the country shit was a joke. If Claire had taken a month, a week, hell, even a day longer to finally extricate herself from Otter Creek, Joan might very well have just taken up with any one of the dozens of women in the Wild Rose who’d offered to buy her a drink in the last year. She was so horny that the fifty year-old cashier lady at QFC with neon green eye-shadow and a moustache was starting to look good.
But now this little shithead Simone was ruining what should have been a fantastic day.
Ruining it because it now fell to Joan to tell her favorite little intellectually-challenged breeder that his two-faced twat of a girlfriend had skipped town with his best friend. The poor little dimwit was going to be crushed, which was almost enough to make Joan wish she hadn’t encouraged him to come to the coast.
It hadn’t been an entirely altruistic act, her steering Ben to make the move. She’d known that Claire needed additional prodding. Claire always needed additional prodding. Which raised the question of whether or not Claire was worth the months of celibacy and the additional tsuris. But…anyway, Ben. The big problem had been, Claire wasn't going to leave town without someone to split the drive and the cost, so Ben’s evacuation from Otter Creek was almost entirely Joan’s doing. God knows, the boy didn’t have the ability to break out of a rut on his own. He worked at fucking IGA for six years. In a conversation when she’d first suggested moving, he actually made reference to the prestige of his head bagboy job. No, once Ben got comfortable, it took a team of mules and a dynamite enema to get him going. Joan hadn’t had any dynamite, so she made use of Simone, Buddha forgive her.
Simone had led the poor wretch around by his dong through the last two years of high school and for about eight months afterward. Claire, Joan, Clive…hell, almost everyone who knew Ben was sick about how she had him wrapped around her middle finger. Claire was fairly certain the phrase was actually little finger, but she couldn’t think of Simone at the present moment without also thinking of the middle finger, so there you have it. When she took off for San Fransisco, Ben’s friends didn’t tell him he was better off without her just to ease his pain, they said it because it was the obvious fucking truth. He was a better person without her. The world was a better world if she wasn’t nearby. Okay, that maybe was a little exaggeration.
So why, in her quest to cajole Claire into a westward haul, did Joan sink so low, when she learned Simone had moved to Seattle, as to make certain that Ben “bumped into” her when he and Claire came for a visit? Because Joan was desperate, dammit. She hadn’t reached the decision to deliver Ben into the hands of that Gorgon lightly. She reached the decision only after a three-hour phone-sex-less call from Claire during which she (Joan) had consumed four Red Hooks. Her girlfriend-moving mania amped to new volumes by the talk and the beer, she’d called Simone about thirty-seven seconds after Claire hung up, telling her that Ben would be in town next weekend and, hey! they should all get together at the Comet for a beer.
They had. They’d gotten together and had beer and by the end of the night, Ben was once again completely ensconced in Simone’s sheets. So great was the ill-advised passion of that weekend that Ben left for home with the Great Plan already in motion. Clive would come out as soon as possible (because he had some of the same cash that Joan had gotten from their Grandma Mortimer’s untimely passing) and he would start putting together the band. Then, when Ben and Claire had saved enough from their grocering, they’d follow. Joan would have her gal; Ben would have his band and his sex panther—or whatever the hell she was to him—and everyone would be happy.
Except that Clive, who Joan had known was a prick since their mother had given him Joan’s favorite blanky twenty years ago, was a little too successful at the band stuff. After a few weeks of practicing, they’d gotten a gig—using a “temporary” bass player who was a friend of the drummer and would piss off as soon as Ben got there—which turned into a string of gigs, which inflated everyone’s ego and prompted a move to L.A.
Which would have been bad enough by itself. Unfortunately, Clive’s new status as lead singer for a group that people clapped for while binge-drinking proved irresistible to Simone, who blew him backstage after a show and then went to L.A. with him, presumably so she could keep blowing him.
And this was the Welcome to Seattle present that Joan had to lay on poor Ben. Truly, life was often a mile-high pile of rat turds.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Aries: Nobody objects to your spending a long time on the toilet, but taking your meals there is a bit over the top, don’t you think?
Taurus: Your best laid plans fall completely apart this week, making it maybe not the best time to be building a house.
Gemini: Have the voices in your head ever told you to take a fucking shower?
Cancer: Faking an orgasm is fine and all, but it's a lot less obvious if you do it when you're actually having sex.
Leo: You’re mixing up a batch of love this week, Leo. You’re gonna take a cup of sexiness, a tablespoon of mystery, a dash of romance, a sprinkling of flowers and a five gallon drum of stupid obsessive neuroses to cook up something that nobody sane would willingly put into their body. You need a new recipe.
Virgo: Your love of auto-racing and your life-long interest in physics come together this week in a really fascinating car-crash. Wear a seatbelt, shmuck.
Libra: When someone says that you’re “creepy and loathsome, but in a good way,” it’s not actually a compliment.
Scorpio: You ignore the age old advice this week and actually see how sausage is made. The disturbing part is that it kind of makes you like it even more.
Sagittarius: In a stunning turn of events, genealogical research you’ve been working on reveals this week that you are a direct descendent of Geoffrey Chaucer, which explains why you’re so fucking boring.
Capricorn: No, Hope & Faith did not get some hilarious new writers. You’re just stoned.
Aquarius: Your weight-loss plan is proving massively ineffective. Maybe if you further reduced your intake of deep-fried pudding cake to five slices a week, you might see some more results. Or at least get out of your chair twice a day.
Pisces: You take self-absorption to new heights this week when you post your colonoscopy pics on your website.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Huzzah, says I, Huzzah! Rejoice, oh rejoice all ye viewers of The Amazing Race, for Jonathon and Victoria are no more! Send forth to heaven your gratitude and praise all the mighty Phil, who's smile shown down upon all as he informed the wretched duo of their loserdom!
My apologies to anybody who doesn't watch this show, but I'm going to indulge for a moment and just say how fucking happy I am that these two douchebags are gone. This was a husband and wife team of "entrepreneurs"--exactly what the hell they're entreprenuring we haven't been told.
The man, Jonathon, was the most obnoxious prick since Gene Simmons on Fresh Air. He would give long, loving soliloquies on how intelligent he was. He would routinely berate cab drivers who spoke no English, yelling that he was in a race and could they please bend the laws of physics and move the car faster. He often hired local people to act as guides, something that, while not exactly forbidden in the race rules, sort of defeats the whole purpose of a race based on self-reliance.
But mostly what he did was abuse his wife. Verbally, mostly. He yelled at her for about three-quarters of the time they were on screen. When she was slow; when she couldn't properly build an Ikea bookcase; when she was vomiting from eating spicy soup; when she just didn't agree with him. He kept it verbal, except for the one or two times he actually drew his arm back and had to restrain himself from hitting her.
Keep in mind, I might have had a hard time not slapping the crap out of this woman myself. She was the whiniest creature this side of a rust sawblade. She cried not just at the drop of a hat, but also when the hat was picked back up and put on her head. She had the singularly annoying habit of trying to get through to people who didn't speak English by adopting--poorly--their accent.
So we had these two utterly repulsive people acting as ambassadors to the world. If I lived in a small grass hut in the most remote part of the world, cut off from all civilization, and had never heard of George W. Bush or any wrong America has done from Manifest Destiny through the Bay of Pigs, and Jonathon and Victoria knocked on my door and talked to me for more than three seconds, I, too would want to destroy the United States.
On tonight's show alone, we had a ten-minute mega-tear freak-out from Victoria because she got a boo-boo on her finger. This was followed by Jonathon urging a crowd of Ethiopian children running along the road with him to raise their fists in the air, presumably so he could indulge some bizarre Muhammed Ali "Rumble in the Jungle" fantasy.
These two sincerely odious individuals have, for weeks, been ruining for me one of the few shows I watch and enjoy on a regular basis. When they were informed that they'd come in last and had been eliminated from the race, I said a little prayer and thanked whatever powers exist in the universe that work for the greater good.
Their fifteen minutes over, my most fervent wish, from deep, deep inside my soul, is that the two of them fade into obscurity and never darken humanity's doorstep again, much less the doorstep of some poor, unsuspecting innocent who lives in a grass hut and hasn't yet learned to hate our country. 'Cause these two are a perfect Al Quaida recruiting tool.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Hollywood Blows Itself
I made my annual mistake this year of forgetting until three-quarters of the way through the broadcast that I don't give a shit about the Golden Globes. 'Bout 10:30, it sunk in that I'd entirely wasted an evening when I could have been polishing my fondue pot--and no, that's not a euphemism for masturbation, but maybe it should be.
Anyway, so the evening wouldn't be a complete waste, I thought I'd make use of what I'd seen and give everybody who was smart enough to be watching something else a brief run-down of the evening.
I pray to God that, next year, I remember that my time would be much better spent cleaning my carpet with a toothbrush and some Woolite than watching this three-hour wank-fest. That being said, Cate Blanchett looked really pretty.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Intercepted Democratic Memo
From: Howard Dean
To: Terry McAuliffe, Chair, Democratic National Committee
RE: Thinking Outside the Box
Terry, there's a very good chance that I'm going to be taking your job soon. When that happens, I'm going to want to put my own stamp on the post. Now that Election 2004 has had some time to sink in, I think It's time we started looking forward to the next election and figure out how we can avoid another ass-kicking. I've had my best people working on this and they've come up with a number of strategies that I think could do the trick. Please have your team look at this and start working on getting these ideas into place so I can hit the ground running.
The Sci-Fi Strategy
We live in a high-tech world. We've got all sorts of scientific miracles that we should take full advantage of. That's why one of our proposals is to exhume two of our most popular presidents of the past and get creative with their DNA. Then, in 2008, we run a clone ticket of FDR and JFK. Charismatic? You know it. They also have a proven track record that's unparalleled. Roosevelt won four times. With cloning, we could make it five. While we're at it, we can fix his legs. As close to a sure thing as we could get.
The Hard to Get Strategy
We simply don't run anyone. We sit out the primaries. We skip the convention, thus saving a whole bunch of money. We let the liberals and the moderates stew in their juices. Then we throw them a candidate at the last possible second, with little/no advertising. They'll be so desperate, they'll vote for whoever we put up. Gore, Edwards, hell, they'd even vote for Gephardt and he's got an excitement level of, like, negative twenty. Make them come to us. It could work.
The Party Hearty Party Strategy
We got a whole lot of nothing this time by having Kerry play it as conservative as possible, trying to woo some of the Christians to our side. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Forget them. They're far too busy thumping their bibles to consider our guy. Which is why we should got the other way. Let's do something to motivate people who never vote. The youth turn-out was okay this time, but it could be fucking spectacular. In '08, let's run a ticket they can relate to. Let's run Snoop Dogg and Christina Aguilera. Sex and drugs! Let's make sure they know our candidate is getting some on a regular basis. Let's have a veep contender that voters can enjoy picturing naked in the voting booth. Let's send out canvassers with Democrat Rolling Papers. Let's have Snoop doing bong hits at the convention. You want to talk about “rocking the vote”? Un-fucking-stoppable.
The CBS Strategy
The Democratic party this year was a lot like CBS seven years ago. We put out stuff that excited nobody, using the same methods we've used for fifty years and people ignored us like crazy. This is why we should take a page from the Tiffany Network and use some of their tools. We need reality shows. Step one: we eliminate the whole “primary” thing. Noone buys that primaries are the least bit meaningful anymore anyway. The real decisions are made by us party bigwigs who figure out where the money should go, so it's not like the people would be losing much. Step two, instead, we have a thirteen week reality series. We have the candidates all move into one big house. They can bitch about each other's lack of international experience on the Confessional Cam. They can compete in wacky endurance contests. Then they are eliminated one by one in a dramatic “Tie Ceremony” in which all the candidates who are chosen to stick around are given a power tie. We call it “My Big, Fat Obnoxious Presidential Candidate.”
The Mob Strategy
This one's pretty self-explanatory. We hire the mob to kill the GOP nominee. Sure, maybe this means we have to run Cuomo, but it's worth it in the end, right?
The If You Can’t Beat 'Em, Join 'Em Strategy
Sure, the Democrats can feel good about the ethics of our party. We didn't resort to the sort of underhanded tricks that helped Team Bush slime its way back into the White House. But that's sort of like the third grader walking home day after day with black eyes and bloody noses who is lauded for his restraint when set upon by bullies. At some point, the third grader needs to either learn himself some karate or higher a bigger kid to do some ass-kicking. Karl Rove has been taking our lunch money for too long. We need to find our own K.R. We need to put him to work digging up (or, as Karl himself has done, making up) dirt on the Moron-in-Chief. That's not too hard of a job, people. The man was a draft-dodging coke-head and he's done a shitty, shitty job in office. You're trying to tell me there's nothing in there that's more exploitable than some jizz on an intern's dress? Kenneth Starr succeeded because he didn't give up even when there was nothing to find. He by God stayed at it until there was. So let's find our own dirty-playing attack dog, wave some Bush-scented steak under his nose and set him to work.
The Bugs Bunny Strategy
What good did it do having an intelligent candidate who spoke knowledgeably and eloquently in the debates? None whatsoever. Which is why we should take a page from classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Instead of elaborating on policy and pointing out his opponents flaws, our guy should dress up like a hair stylist and put dynamite curlers in the Republican's hair. He should use twisty-turny logic to convince the Republican nominee that it’s not rabbit season, but rather Republican season. Then Elmer Fudd—or whoever's moderating—can step out from behind the desk and blast him in the face with a shotgun. The Dem should dress in strangely provocative drag and lure his GOP counterpart into falling through a trap door. These cartoons are classics for a reason, people. They've got effective, timeless strategies for dealing with your opposition.
The Celebrity Strategy
The other side's going to run Arnold. You know it. They're already working on a goddamn amendment. They want Conan in the White House. Who do we have that can fight that kind of star power? Hilary? Please. She's smart, but she's never shown the can-do attitude that Shwarzenegger displayed in The Running Man. We need to fight fire with fire. We need to run Harrison Ford. He's one of the top box office draws of all time. We've already seen that he can be president. He'd get the butts into the voting booths. I mean, who'd you rather vote for? Han Solo or Mr. Freeze? Sure, we'd have to get him to ditch the earring and, if he's still seeing Calista Flockheart, we'd need to force feed her a sandwich or two, but other than that he's solid. President Ford to terrorists: “Get off my plane!” I get chills.
The Cutesy Strategy
We run a cocker spaniel puppy. Hear me out on this one. Do you honestly think any other candidate could face him in a debate? One or two wags of the tail and the other guy would be toast. Who's going to question his views on foreign policy when he rolls over on his back so you can pet his belly? With those long ears and those big eyes, who wouldn't vote for him? Think about it: No sex scandals! He’s neutered! The photo ops, my God, the photo ops! There's no situation where he looks bad! Hell, he could piddle all over Kim Jung Il and nobody'd think twice. You think Dubya could get away with that?
Whatever we do, we need to innovate. We need to rethink how we do things. I'm ready to do that. Call me this weekend. We'll grab some crabcakes.
Friday, January 14, 2005
I’m a kid in a candy store! I’m a fanboy in San Diego in July! I’m a pervert pothead in Amsterdam!
I just got a high speed connection! After three years of serviceable-yet-slow dial-up, I am once again on the high-speed bandwagon. And I’ve already been warned by my wiser friends that DSL is where the really noxious internet bugs lie. Aware of this, I intend to install the Great Firewall of China, trust me.
But on the plus side, I can download movie trailers and music and porn and—okay, forget that last one.
Anyway, I need to know what cool stuff I’ve been missing. Is there cool stuff I’ve been missing? Help me out.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
A Hard-Hitting Interview
With his inauguration right around the corner and an overwhelming majority of Americans just love-love-loving him, Smilin’ George W. sat down with the harshest of all interviewers to submit himself to an hour of grueling questions. Barbara Walters didn’t let the President off easy, either, at one point actually pulling a switchblade from her pocket and threatening to “…gut [First Lady Laura Bush] like a trout…” if Bush didn’t tell her what she wanted to know.
It was riveting television. For those who missed this journalistic milestone, Hairshirt now presents excerpts from the broadcast.
B.W.: Mister Pwesident, during your first term, your opponents have seized on many of your thousands of misspoken sentences as proof that you’re a total and complete dipshit. The kind of dipshit who’d say something like, “Bring it on” to a vast network of fanatical religious fundamentalists who’ve proven they can hold a grudge. Can we expect more of this crap?
G.W.B.: I watch what I say. I said some things in the first term that were probably a little blunt. “Bring it on” was a little blunt. I was really speaking to our troops, but it came out and had a different connotation, different meanings for others.
B.W.: So, wait, you wanted our troops to bring it on? You were daring our armed services to attack you?
G.W.B.: Yeah. Something I picked up as Pledge Chairman of my frat. You want people under you to respect you, you gotta make ‘em drink your urine.
L.B.: So to speak.
G.W.B.: Shut up, honey.
B.W.: Tard-o—may I call you Tard-o?
G.W.B.: Actually, my official nickname is Li'l Douschey.
B.W.: Fine. Li'l Douschey, with the weapons inspections being called off today and not so much as a long-range pea shooter found, do you feel like a gigantic dickhead for getting us into a war that’s cost so many young men and women their lives?
G.W.B.: I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction, or like many, many here in the United States, many around the world, the United Nations, thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
B.W.: But most Americans who thought that thought so because that’s what you told them.
G.W.B.: Yup. But, y’know, I only know what I see on the news, so there you go.
B.W.: Given that Saddam wasn’t about to blow us up with these non-existent weapons, do you still feel the war was justified?
G.W.B.: Oh, absolutely.
G.W.B.: Uh…‘cause, um…it, uh…Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
B.W.: But he didn’t.
G.W.B.: Um…I’m firsty.
B.W.: Mrs. Bush, I read this week that you’re planning on wearing an Oscar DeLarenta dress to the inauguration.
L.B.: That’s right. Oscar’s been one of my favorite designers for years.
G.W.B.: And she’s not gonna wear panties. Heh-heh. Heh-heh.
B.W.: Li'l Douschey, how can you possibly justify spending $40 million on your inaugural and sticking the tax-payers of Washington D.C. with a $15 million bill for security when we’re still in the throes of a piss-poor economy?
G.W.B.: Hey, I’m not doing coke any more. If I gotta be sober, the party better kick some fucking ass.
B.W.: Mr. Pwesident…thank you.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
The search is over! Yeah, baby! All those months of following up leads and looking under every tiny pebble in Iraq have paid off, because today, the search for weapons of mass destruction is at an end. Paydirt!
Take that, peaceniks! "Ooo! The invasion of Iraq was unjustified! Waaah! The war was sold to the American people based on twisted and bent intelligence put together by a group of yes men looking for a Scooby Snack from their master! Blah, blah, blah." Well choke on it, you buncha weak-kneed pansies! 'Cause looky what the weapons inspectors found:
Can you imagine what might have happened if some fanatical terrorist group had gotten access to these weapons? They might have been able to kill us all as we slept and taken over the world! What if they'd been left in the hands of Saddam Hussein? Sweet merciful Jesus, he could have destroyed us all!
Now, the inspectors can go home with their heads held high, knowing how they have advanced the cause of freedom. 'Cause that's what the terrorists hate, in case you were unaware. Freedom. What kind of scumbag hates freedom, huh?
Thank you, President Bush! Thank you for having the balls to personally lead our troops into battle, facing untold dangers yourself, to stop this madman. I only hope you go to sleep at night knowing how wonderful you are. I'm pretty sure you do.
Aries: This week, your life begins to remind you more and more of an episode of Laverne & Shirley. And not the funny Milwaukee shows, either, but the painful, excruciating seasons after they moved to California. Poor, poor you.
Taurus: Adopting Gandhi’s “passive resistance” approach to your current situation is a good idea. You are mistaken, however, in your belief that this involves a lot of “hissy fits.”
Gemini: Your mother’s worst nightmare comes true this week as you are rushed to the hospital and are found to have dirty underwear. Tsk tsk tsk.
Cancer: Your arguments against privatization of social security accounts is met with skepticism by everyone else in the crack house.
Leo: For some strange, inexplicable reason, your Liver & Onions incense isn’t selling well at the craft fair.
Virgo: The work of Walt Whitman provides you with great comfort this week as you…oh, wait, sorry. It’s the work of Slim Whitman you’ll be checking out this week. You dig yodeling. That’s super.
Libra: Just for the record, very few women are actually turned on when you refer to it as your “pee-pee.”
Scorpio: You lose twenty bucks in a bar bet this week due to your unwavering certainty that the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty is “Look out, stomach/look out, gums/look out America/here I comes.”
Sagittarius: Your detailed knowledge of the mating habits of the lung fish could save your life this week. Probably not, though.
Capricorn: Your anger over the fact that Fahrenheit 9/11 beat out Shrek 2 for the People’s Choice Award for Best Picture begins to dissipate this week. But it doesn’t go away entirely. “People’s choice” indeed!
Aquarius: Stop picking at it.
Pisces: Sadly, the government balks at paying you thousands of dollars to talk up No Child Left Behind.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Last night before I went to sleep, I was reading the bible and I came across some passages that shook me to my foundations. I came to the realization that I may have been doing grave wrongs for years and that I will need to make a conscious effort to change my ways. It was disturbing.
You go along for years, doing what you’ve been taught, y’know? You are given a certain way of going about things, mostly from your parents, but also just habits you’ve fallen into, and you accept that—hey—that’s just how things are done. And then you enter a period of reflection wherein you realize that there’s more than one approach and that maybe the one you’ve clung to for most of your life isn’t the best.
According to the bible, I need to freeze butter overnight before combining it with the flour and water. The bible tells us also that cider vinegar should be added in addition to ice water. The bible says that shortening is wrong; that it’s a warped, twisted version of butter. I’ve used Crisco since I began. I didn’t realize I was going down the wrong path.
Sure, I’ve always used ice water. But everything else I’ve done goes against what Rose Levy-Beranbaum set down. For, verily, she tells us that butter must be flattened out into flakes before it’s mixed with the flour. The fat content of shortening is higher than in butter, which causes less shrinkage, but faster browning. So sayeth Rose Levy-Beranbaum.
I’ve always been proud of my pie crusts. Sure, they’ve never been so delicious that I thought, “Hey! I think I’ll skip the filling and just eat myself a crust.” But they’ve always been relatively tasty. I bet the citizens of Sodom all thought, “Hey, we could be devout and chaste and live in a way that pleases our Lord, but we’ve been doing okay with the blowjobs and the ass-sex for a long while now, why change?” This means that, if I don’t start doing things differently, the wrath of Rose Levy-Beranbaum will rain down upon me.
I could be standing in my kitchen, baking a mocha-brownie pie for our weekly high-stakes Scrabble tournament, when hardened bits of flaming meringue come falling onto my head. What if my spider plant starts burning and a booming voice issues forth, saying unto me, “Wretched baker! Amend thy ways and make sure you chill your mixing bowl before you start putting the crust together!”
The Lord our Rose Levy-Beranbaum commands us to chill our dough for twenty-four hours before use. I’ve always felt it was too hard to even roll after three hours. But I’ve been doing it wrong! I’m damned! DAMNED! The Pie & Pastry Bible spells it all out! My pie crusts are chewy and tough! I’ve not made them flaky enough! UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!
Run! Run away, lest my wretchedness rub off on thee and offend Rose Levy-Berenbaum, who will call down the heavens on your ass, too!
Monday, January 10, 2005
The Torturer's Tale
More and more disturbing images are being released this week as the trial of Spc. Charles Graner Jr. gets underway. Graner is charged with participating in--and accused of being the ringleader of--the prisoner abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Graner is one of many soldiers who were seen in photos of prisoners in various humiliating poses which shocked the world last spring.
Now, as the trial gets underway and more of these pictures are being made public, we are hearing testimony from other soldiers who worked at Abu Ghraib taht Graner, a former civilian prison guard, went beyond just "following orders" in carrying out these vicious abuses. Witnesses to that abuse claim that Graner not only committed these atrocities, but seemed to enjoy them.
But here at Hairshirt, we don't just like to take what the media hands us, especially as it's so often been processed like Cheese Wiz for easy digestion. So we went straight to the torturer's mouth. What follows, then, is an interview with Spc. Graner, conducted during a lunch break at his trial. During the conversation, Graner was eating a tuna salad on rye and drinking a Fanta Orange.
Hairshirt: Mr. Graner, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.
Graner: You betcha. Anyone who works for FOX News is a friend of mine.
Hairshirt: Umm…yeah. Well, that’s where I work all right. Yup. Anyway, the story we’re hearing in the press, the pictures we’re seeing…they’re pretty damning. They show treatment of the prisoners that is clearly a violation of accepted international standards. What is your explanation?
Graner: Well now, listen Hoss, there’s a couple problems I have with what you jest said there. First off, when you’re talking about “international standards”, you’re talking about shit laid down by a bunch of pussies in Switzerland, right? That whole Geneva Concoction?
Graner: Ain’t no Swiss faggot ever—
Hairshirt: They prefer the term “Switzer”.
Graner: I don’t give a shit, ‘cause they’re a bunch of chocolate-eatin’, Eidelweiss-pickin’, watch-makin’ ass-bandits and Mr. Alberto Gonzales says I ain’t gotta do one single ass—lickin’ thing they say. And our Commando-in-chief, a certain George W. Bush agrees.
[At this point, Graner ingests fully half of his sandwich.]
Hairshirt: I’m sorry, you said there was a second point?
Graner: Mo goo udderuh muh wha am eegin!
Graner: I said don’t interrupt me while I’m eating, faggot!
Graner: My second point was that what I did was in no way torture.
Graner: Hell, no! You ever been in prison?
Hairshirt: Do Professional Development sessions count?
Hairshirt: Then no.
Graner: Well, let me tell you: it’s depressing as hell. You can’t go nowhere, you gotta follow someone else’s schedule all the time. It’s demoralizing. Torture. Pfaw! What I was trying to do was to keep those prisoners’ spirits up.
Graner: You bet your sweet ass! I was a cheerleader in high school. The most effective morale boosters we ever had were our human pyramids. There’s nothing like climbing on someone else’s back and building something to get the giggles flowing and chase away the blues.
Hairshirt: Do you really think my ass is sweet?
Graner: Could use some toning, actually. Anyway, I brought my high school training to bear in the prison. We did cheers all the time.
Hairshirt: But these men were naked.
Graner: Well, duh! It was laundry day.
Hairshirt: What about allegations that you forced the prisoners to masturbate in front of one another?
Graner: Look, prison is damned lonely. You ain’t got your old lady in there, you’re gonna start Spankin’ Al Franken.
Hairshirt: But in front of each other?
Graner: Well, we only had one copy of Barely Legal in the whole building. A circle jerk was the only solution I could think of.
Hairshirt: What’s your response to charges that you savagely beat the prisoners?
Graner: No beating went on at Abu Ghraib. What we did there was Rolfing. Again, it was to relieve tension. The prisoners’ muscles were extremely tense. I’m a licensed Rolfing Specialist, so I would from time to time pull their muscles off of the bone and realign them. Rolfing can hurt sometimes. But is it torture? I don’t know. If caring too much for the prisoners in your charge is torture, then, yeah. I’m guilty. Might as well throw me in jail. Where you can bet I’d be happy to find circle jerks and Rolfing.
Hairshirt: And electrodes attached to your scrotum?
Graner: What can I say? Iraqis are a kinky lot. You know how many electrode requests we got on a daily basis?
Hairshirt: Mr. Graner, thank you for your time.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Health Care, Chapter One, Part 2
Ben drove for awhile thinking about how nice it would be to smell Simone again. Claire let out with this intensely loud snore, which must have echoed around inside her skull enough to wake her. She sat up sharply and looked around for a few seconds before she realized that she was in a car and then that she was in Ben’s car and then that they were driving to Seattle.
She let out a huge yawn and a cloud of morning breath that smelled like garlic and bad parmesan. Unable to help himself, Ben’s face scrunched up in disgust. “Could you breath the other way, please? You’re a little gross.”
Claire smacked him in the head. “Fucking get over yourself,” she said, and then pulled a tube of Aquafresh out of her backpack and smeared some of it on her teeth. “How the hell many mornings did you show up at the breakfast table with your face smelling like Simone’s crotch? Now you’re going to get all pissy about linguini breath?”
She shook a couple of cigarettes out of the backpack and handed one to Ben. She pushed in the dashboard lighter, then picked up the ass-end of the roach and showed it to him.
“Nice. Didn’t leave me even a little tiny bit.” She tossed it back into the ashtray, then pulled the lighter out and lit both of their smokes.
“Well, okay: there wasn’t a whole lot to start with and, and you were completely snoring or else I woulda offered you some.” This wasn’t exactly what you’d call true, because there were only a couple of hits worth in the roach, but it was only polite to pretend.
“Where are we?” Claire rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, dug back into her backpack and pulled out some deodorant, which she then applied to her pits.
“Is there something in the Lesbian Handbook that says you can’t shave those?” This was not a great thing to say to someone he’d already annoyed this morning and the result of it was that Claire climbed over to him and stuck her pit in his face. He shoved her off. “I’m fucking driving. Knock it off.”
“Oh, you’re driving? I’m sorry. I thought you were being a dick. My bad.” She cracked her window and blew out a small cloud of smoke which was sucked neatly through it. “So you didn’t answer me. Where are we?”
“We’re going through Issaquah. We’re about twenty minutes to half an hour from Seattle.”
“And do they have gas stations in Issaquah?”
Ben checked the gas gauge. This was one of those things about Claire that bugged him. He’d been driving for hours and knew exactly how much gas was left, but Claire thought that she was in charge, so she was going to tell him when he needed gas. “We’ve got about a third of a tank, Claire. I think we’ll be okay til we get to Joan’s.”
Claire flicked an ash out the window, then turned to Ben with her eyebrows doing that Spock thing and said, “Yes, Ben, that’s fine. But there are other things at gas stations, like bathrooms—”
“Oh right.” Sometimes Ben didn’t pick up on things right away. He hated that.
“—and soda and a phone from which we can call Joan so she knows we’re almost there and can kick out any little tart she picked up last night.”
And there was another thing about Claire that bugged him. She was always joking about Joan sleeping around on her. That kind of thing just wasn’t funny. Ben would never joke about Simone fucking some other guy. In fact, he had nightmares about it. It didn’t seem to Ben like something you should kid around with. Like cancer or music.
“That was a joke, dipshit.”
“I know.” Sometimes, Claire could be a little mean. “I just didn’t think it was funny. So I didn’t laugh.”
“Okay.” She looked out the window. “Oh, hey! BP! Soda, toilets and a phone. Next exit. Take us there, Sacajawea.”
Again with the insults. “Sack of what?”
And Claire just laughed at him. Ben would be very glad to get out of this car.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Health Care, Chapter One, Part 1
Just as the angel was about to grant him the ability to read people’s minds, Ben’s head snapped up and he had to jerk the wheel hard to avoid a guardrail. Claire, maybe because she was snoring so loud, didn’t wake up. Ben wound the window down and leaned his head outside, catching some sleet in his hair. Was it sleet? It wasn’t snow and it wasn’t rain and it didn’t seem to be freezing rain, but…what the hell was sleet, exactly? Ben was not clear on the whole thing, so he pulled his head back in. Driving with the window down would wake Claire up even if she was snoring, so he rolled it back up. But there had to be other changes he could make to his immediate environment to keep himself alert. The last sign had said thirty more miles to Issaquah and that was practically Seattle, he thought. Had somebody told him that or had he read it in the AAA thing or what? Anyway, not that far to go.
Man, there were some weird fucking names here. Issaquah. Snohomish. Snoqualmie. Tukwilla. What else? There was a Bellevue, like back in Iowa, although God knows it had to be bigger and a little nicer than that. Ben’s grandma lived in Bellevue and it was a dump. Bigger than Otter Creek, but nothing to shout about. They had a Shoney’s. Ben thought a girl that Chuck dated might have worked there. Chuck hadn’t dated her for long. It’d be cool to see Chuck again. Wasn’t that Chuck up ahead? What the hell was he doing here? And why was he driving a sandwich? Was the sandwich honking?
Ben’s eyes shot open and the sandwich became a Chevet with a bunch of boy scouts in it, who were now flipping Ben off. This was not good.
He looked around the front seat for something he could do/undo/ingest that would perk him up. For starters, the fucking music needed to go. Claire didn’t notice him almost ditching. Twice. She wouldn’t notice that Concrete Blonde wasn’t playing. He popped the tape out and felt around on the seat, not risking the eyes-off-the-road time to actually look for something. He pulled up an Indigo Girls tape and tossed it back down. Fished around again, this time coming away with Dark Side of the Moon. Great album, but it would not keep him from driving off the road. Back it went, into the unseen pile. He grabbed again and got the same fucking Indigo Girls tape. This was the thing about hanging out with lesbians: you had to put up with their music. Ben glanced at the tape and wondered what lesbians listened to in the forties. Was there a k.d. lang who had a swing orchestra? Wait, were there lesbians in the forties? Why did he care? He tossed Indigo Girls in the back seat so he wouldn’t pull it out again and, trying again, grabbed onto Check Your Head, which would definitely keep him awake, and therefore alive, until well past Issaquah.
Problem solved. Except now he was bored. He blamed Montana. When they’d left Otter Creek, they’d both enjoyed the driving. Seeing new shit. Checking out the scenery. Getting the fuck out of Iowa. But, man, Montana just seemed to take years to get across. Seriously, it felt like they’d never fucking get to Idaho, they’d just spend the rest of their lives on I-90, til they got too old to drive and had to pull off to the side of the road and slowly turn into dust.
Okay, time for some new thoughts. What could make the rest of the drive more interesting? If Claire would wake the fuck up and talk to him, that’d help. But that wasn’t going to happen. She’d made it windex-cleaned clear that, since she’d taken the night shift, he was on his own. So that was out.
Ben fished around on the seat and found his Bucks. One left. Shit. Maybe Claire’d left one of her Marlboro Lights in the ashtray. He pulled it open. Nothing smokeable, but—thank you, Jesus—there appeared to be the tiniest of roaches.
He wouldn’t smoke enough to put him back to sleep or anything, but one or two hits might make things a little more interesting. He lit up, gave it a couple of puffs and put it out. He cracked the window just a bit to clear out the smoke. Claire shifted around and mumbled something which sounded like, “Get my girdle blazing,” although that didn’t seem to Ben like something she’d say.
He listened to “Blue Nun”, which always made him think of Simone. It was going to be so fucking nice to see her. Two fucking months was too fucking long. It didn’t help that she was so lousy at phone sex. Better than nothing, Ben supposed, but it just seemed like he did all the talking. Well, that was behind him. Thank god. No more phone sex. For that matter, no more sneaking out of her parents’ house at four thirty in the goddamn morning. Sex whenever he felt like it! Okay, whenever they felt like it. Not just his needs, here, but whatever. Living with Simone. This was going to kick ass. This gave him energy.
Another sign. Issaquah, five miles.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Let the National Mourning Begin
Oh dear sweet merciful Jesus, why did this have to happen? I mean, I thought the world had been through enough recently, what with the horrific devastation wrought by the tsunami and the ongoing killings happening daily in Iraq. Surely, we've suffered enough. What kind of deity would then wipe out the one ray of hope in our miserable, meaningless lives? What kind of loving, caring God would let Brad and Jennifer separate?
I have to admit, despite the enormity of the death count in southeast Asia and despite the involvement of our American soldiers in Iraq, I've been able to go on with my day-to-day life, largely because there's always been some sense of distance, y'know? No matter how unthinkable the losses of human life have been, it's been happening in other parts of the world, where I've never even been.
My lord, they were so perfect together. The pictures made them look so perfect. The pictures I saw in Star and InTouch and People and The National Enquirer and US Weekly--dear Christ, especially in poor little US Weekly, what the living, breathing fuck are they are going to do without Brad and Jennifer on their cover every other week? There's only so many Olsen Twins out there. US Weekly went weekly just because they wanted to print more pictures of Brad and Jennifer. Why, Brad and Jennifer's tele-photoed honeymoon put half of the US Weekly staff's kids through college. How are they going to be able to afford to pay for higher education without publishing shots of Brad and Jennifer going into a Whole Foods or Brad and Jennifer arguing on a public beach or Brad and Jennifer in their bed, screaming because a photographer from US Weekly just burst into their bedroom? Fucking celebrities. It's not fair.
And how am I supposed to get through this fucking horror show I call my life? You think marriage has any meaning any more? Pfah! Worthless. Might as well let the gays get married now. Oh, shit, right. That's just become illegal in eleven more states. Well, nevermind.
The point is, I'm now left without hope. Hope that there are beautiful people, people who are ever so much better than me, who can make a marriage work and be incredibly attractive while doing it. Apparently it can't be done.
I guess the only consolation in all of this is that the mainstream press, thank Jaweh, are going to be covering this every bit as much as the tabloids. I'm betting local news teams will be devoting all of the time they normally would have spent chasing down small businessmen who overcharge for aluminum siding to this major event. Probably, they'll go to bars at ten thirty at night and ask drunken morons what they think of it all. And they'll hear slightly more slurred versions of what I've just said, I'm sure.
And they'll stay with the story through it all. Through the separation. Through the hearings to split up the assets. Through the half-assed attempt at reconciliation. Through the awkard moments when they have to be at premiers together. Through the even more awkward period when he briefly goes back to Juliet Lewis and she gets drunk and fucks Collin Ferrell. (Cause they all do, y'know.)
The media will stay with the story and so will we. Because all that other shit going on in the world just doesn't have any sort of actual effect on us. But Brennifer (if I may coin an already outmoded phrase) was family to us. Really good-looking, high-paid family who we didn't know, but whose garbage we felt we had a right to go through.
Now the beauty-party is over. And we have to go home and sleep. Shit.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Aries: You should give up campaigning so hard for a Golden Globe, especially since you aren’t nominated and you’ve never been in a movie that didn’t have the phrase “bone-hungry sluts” in the title.
Taurus: While hosting a dinner party, you are dismayed at your guests' overwhelmingly negative response to your Spam and Jell-O salad.
Gemini: This week, at age 45, it finally sinks in that you’re never going to play the lead in Annie, no matter how spunky you look in the red afro.
Cancer: Nobody is going to want to publish your photo essay titled, “My Dong Goes to Vegas.”
Leo: Your laundry situation reaches new crisis levels this week, Leo, and you are forced to recycle your socks for a record-breaking fifth day. We won’t go into details about your underwear.
Virgo: Okay, we get it. You really liked Joel Schumacher’s version of The Phantom of the Opera. Allow me to suggest that this is something you probably ought to keep to yourself.
Libra: You find out who your true friends are this week. They’re the ones who change congressional rules so that you can keep your job even if you’ve been indicted. People that vote against that change? Not your amigos, jefe.
Scorpio: It was not the Bluebird of Happiness that slammed into your windshield at seventy-five miles an hour. It was, however, the Pigeon of Small Lottery Scratch-Off Winnings.
Sagittarius: The lesson you learn this week is that people are going to have a hard time forgetting your unfortunate “Naked Carol Channing” impression at the office Christmas party. Drinking less might be a good idea.
Capricorn: This is your week to hunker down with a good book. The downside is that your hunkering is all going to be on the toilet following a poor menu pick at a cut-rate Ethiopian place.
Aquarius: Travel plans may have to be put on hold until after your parole expires.
Pisces: Sudden despair hits you this week, Pisces, as you realize that your pet goldfish probably didn’t swim to The Magical Kingdom of Atlantis in 1979 like your parents told you. Thus is twenty-four years of innocence flushed down the toilet, which, coincidently, is where your goldfish went.