Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Sunday, March 27, 2005
He Is Risen!
...and boy are his arms tired.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
I'm not always the smartest shopper out there. This was driven home tonight as I got home from the grocery store and opened the crate of half-priced trail-bologna that I'd just purchased at Shop-Rite. I realized, too late at this point, that meat is usually deep-discounted for a very good reason. This has put me in a reflective mood. Here's some other purchases I've made over the years that I've later come to regret:
Friday, March 25, 2005
When my wife and I were in Europe last summer, we got off of our train in a small village in the Czech Republic because I was convinced I'd caught a glimpse of Jim Nabors in the station. My wife wasn't nuts about the idea of leaving the train, which would probably make us late to the Miniatures Convention we were hoping to attend in Brno, but she got off with me anyway, because she knows what a huge fan I am of Mayberry RFD and anything even tangentially associated with it.
I was wrong, of course. Jim Nabors, I later learned, was actually starring in a production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at a dinner theater in Dubuque at that time. I don't know who the hell I saw, but it sure wasn't Jim Nabors.
So there we were in a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere. The town square consisted of a taxidermist, a bar and--much to our surprise--a Hardee's. Being fond of neither dead animals screwed onto chunks of varnished wood nor charbroiled burgers, we opted for the bar. Maybe it was the fact that it was 11:00 AM local time or maybe it was just not a popular place, but we had the bar almost entirely to ourselves. The only other customer was a small woman in a turban sitting in the corner. We stepped up to the bar and ordered two glasses of the local special, which seemed to us to be a thick, wheaten beer with chunks of licorice floating in it.
We carried our glasses to a table by the window and sat. My wife excused herself to go to the bathroom. I looked around the place while she was away, taking in the utter lack of charm. The one bright note in the place, which seemed very much like the sort of bar where gravediggers would go to have a good cry, was a life-size statue of Big Bird, apparently carved from a huge log. I was delighted that the reach of the Children's Television Workshop was long enough to reach into a former Soviet Bloc country and was more delighted still to have a good photo op to cheer up an otherwise bleak detour on our trip.
When my wife got back from the bathroom, I suggested we get someone to take our picture with the oaken Muppet. She was game. The bartender seemed to be busy hacking up licorice sticks to make more of the Aniseweizen, so we asked the turbaned woman. She spoke no English, of course, but we made ourselves understood by yelling loudly and slowing our speech down to a moron-proof crawl. Finally, I had to drag the old bird from her table, place both of her hands firmly on the camera(I'm ashamed to say I may have given her pinky a small fracture at this point), and threaten her to get her to take the shot. But she did it. I thanked her and tossed one of the near-worthless local coins at her by way of a thank you. She didn't seem very happy as she toddled back to her perch.
We checked the time and figured that the next train out would be coming in a few minutes, so we chugged our lumpy brews and made for the door. As I turned around to wave goodbye to our assistant shutterbug, I saw that she was making a strange gesture and spitting at me a little. I smiled and then put her out of my mind.
The miniatures convention was fantastic. You haven't lived until you've seen what fine Eastern-European craftsmen can do with a doll-house kitchen and tiny, tiny vegetables. I cried. The rest of the trip went off without a hitch and we went home, later to make some really nifty scrapbooks of our experience.
Now, seven months after that afternoon, I find the little old lady on my mind again. You see, last week, a small patch of white fur began to grow on my right shin. My chest hair's been turning white for years, so I didn't think too much of it at first. But it began to spread. What started out as a snowy tuft a couple of inches below my kneecap grew from the size of a penny to the size of a nickle to the size of a two-pence coin. This irritated me, as I feel very strongly that the two-pence coin is the most worthless piece of money in the known universe. What the fuck costs two pence? Why not just use two one-pence coins? Anyway, once it got to tuppence-size, it pretty much stopped growing. My wife was puzzled, because it didn't look like any other hair on my body.
We cut some of the fur off and took it to a friend of ours who works in a lab. After running a battery of tests, our friend reported back to us that this was rabbit fur. I asked him, "Rabbit fur? Are you certain?" To which he replied, "Dude, I work in a lab. So...y'know." That was enough for me. Case closed.
But knowing what it was didn't explain why it was there. My wife and I racked our brains, trying to think of an explanation. Then, while we were eating our morning Apple Jacks over a rerun of Sesame Street, it hit me: Big Bird! I shouted out loud, "Big Bird!" My wife didn't really make much of this, as I do it often. This time, though, I had a better reason than childish glee. I'd remembered, you see, the old lady and her spittish gestures. And I knew.
I have been cursed by the lamest gypsy ever. I mean, come on! A curse that takes seven fucking months to work? And then, then when it does, all I got is a little patch of rabbit fur? What fucking ever.
So I've learned a lesson from all of this. Drunk gypsies can't curse for shit. If you ever fear that a gypsy is going to curse you, just get her drunk.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy some Nair.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Dangerous(ly Lame) Minds
The mind of a junior high school student is an amazing thing. If I had money, I'd sponsor some sort of work on the subject, perhaps a ten-year clinical study in which junior high schoolers could be held in captivity or maybe something more CSI-ish, in which the scientists would dissect a few junior high school minds and find out what makes them as unique as they are.
Part of the answer I already know. There's hormones in there. Lots of 'em. And they're new and powerful things, too. Which is why we get twelve-year-old girls who act like they're fresh off the schizophrenic ward and fresh out of meds. The high drama that goes on in my classrooms is staggering. Girl X and Girl Y are the best of friends. Five minutes later, they're mortal enemies, owing to a comment Girl Y made about Girl X's boyfriend, and they have to be pulled apart by security before they literally pull each other's hair out. Five minutes after security has hauled them off, they're back, arm in arm, singing songs to each other and giggling like crazy. Which they are.
It's not just the hormones, though. The junior high mind has an incredible talent for shifting the blame off of the mind's owner. A student in my class could smash another student in the face with the T volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica and call me a retarded motherfuckin' asshole. When discussing the matter later on in the Assistant Principal's office, said student would then, when asked if they know why they're in trouble, explain to the A.P. that it's because I don't like him. There's a definite deficit in the understanding of cause and effect going on in these minds. "Why are you being suspended?" "Yo, I don't know. I was sittin' there, doin' my work and then Mr. Wack tells me to go to the office." "And it has nothing to do with the fact that you set fire to Tony's shirt?" "Tsk. Mr. Wack hates Puerto Ricans."
But there's more to it than just shifting blame. Junior high school kids have a fantastic ability to completely change reality. Today, a student asked me the ever so charming question "Do you do your wife?" This, to me, was a little more than I could stomach, especially from this particular student, who has had a whole boatload of issues almost every class. I had a very hard time restraining myself and, even with that effort, I hollered at him. When his classroom teacher returned, I made my report on this and other fun things the class had done. The kid in question protested, denying that he'd said any such thing.
Now, it's one thing to lie to save your ass. That, I could understand. It would irk me, but I could understand it. But I looked in this kid's eyes and I saw that he was believing it. He was telling the truth. In his world, he never said it and I made this vicious lie up to get him in trouble. I can't quite wrap my head around this ability. To be able to convince yourself that you haven't done something that you very much have. To revise history not just in terms of how you want other people to perceive what you did, but also in terms of how you remember it. What's going to happen to a kid who's able to clear his conscience this way of every horrible thing he ever does?
Probably, he'll become president.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Aries: You have massive guilt and anxiety after eating steak on Good Friday until you remember that you're an atheist, at which point you have another steak and follow it up with a bucket of pork rinds. Then you remember that you're a vegetarian and the guilt starts all over.
Taurus: This week, congress gathers together in an emergency session and votes to remove your feeding tube. Apparently, you're lacking that certain je ne sais quois that makes them so keen on Terri Schiavo.
Gemini: You've spilled some mustard on your underwear. Which brings up the whole question of why you're eating a hot pretzel with no pants on.
Cancer: A friend is considering confronting you about your drinking problem. You could probably prevent this by not calling him at 3:00 AM to say, "I jus' fuckin' love you so mush, man. Broth', it's, see, 'cause we're broth's."
Leo : Your Leo cleverness comes in handy this week, as you are actually able to convince your boss that you need off to celebrate "Holy Thursday."
Virgo: It's nice that you're still so very young at heart, but 35 might be a good age to start leaving your "blanky" at home.
Libra: A night on the town might be the perfect thing for you, Libra. Unless the town is Mesa, AZ, in which case you should stay the fuck inside.
Scorpio: You should stop going to such elaborate lengths to maintain for your children the illusion that the Easter Bunny is real. Sneaking into your daughter's dorm room to hide chocolate eggs under her desk is only going to freak out her roommate and the guy she's banging.
Sagittarius: Although you're in the mood for tuna, sliced roast beef also sounds good. The truth is, almost any variety of 9-Lives is delicious.
Capricorn: This week, you recover a memory that your subconscious had blocked from you for years. When you discover that it's a really, really dull, boring memory, you go ahead and let it be blocked right back up.
Aquarius: Just as Christ rose after three days, you will return a pair of shoes three days after you bought them. Okay, wait, that's not a very good analogy. Ah, well, shit.
Pisces: Be careful this week; you could be gravely injured in a horrible egg-dying accident.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
You Can't Spell "Obsequious" without "IQ"
A colleague of mine recently e-mailed me a rather interesting quiz. (In the interest of clarity, I should probably substitute the word "colleague" with the phrase "fellow indicted co-conspirator".) It seems he had been searching for a more accurate IQ test, having grown frustrated by result after result that placed his IQ in the single digits. It was, he said to me, all a matter of finding the test that meshes well with one's personality. The other 987 IQ tests he'd taken up to this point, he said, just didn't suit his engrams. The one he sent to me, he claimed, was designed with someone of his particular type specifically in mind. Take the quiz and see if it suits you.
A) Which of the following smells is least pleasant to you?
If you answered 1 to all of the questions, you are a GENIUS.
If you answered 2 to all of the questions, you are a GENIUS.
If you answered "Ohio" to all of the questions, you are HIGH.
If you answered 4 to all of the questions, you are a SUPER-GENIUS.
If you didn't answer the same number for every question, you're FUCKING STUPID.
If you don't like your score, just change it. It's not like anybody's going to contradict you. After all, you're a genius.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Pandora's Gold Box
I find it a little disconcerting that, in the information age--or, as I like to call it, The Dawn of the Fat Immobilized Slobs--we are so increasingly identified by what we consume. Half of the blogs out there include a little section on the music we're currently listening to, books we're currently reading and movies we could stand to sit through until Angelina Jolie appeared on screen and we were reminded of how she broke up Brad & Jennifer's perfect marriage, complete with a link to Buy.com in case we're so overpowered by the recommendation that we have to buy it right this second!
The internet culture is built for this very thing, where everything we buy is automatically registered with some giant marketing firm five miles underground who then use the information to figure out the ideal location for their latest Starbucks: fifty steps from our gym and twenty-five steps from where we buy our cat litter. Which reminds me, I need to buy cat litter.
Seriously, the bathroom smells awful.
But back to the consumer thing...A friend of ours, a very nice, well-meaning friend, has invited us to be part of her Netflix Friends circle. This means that she would be able to see that we've rented a movie and how we've rated it upon return, using this INFORMATION (there's that word again) to adjust her own DVDecisions. I find this whole concept at best sad and at worst pants-shittingly frightening. On the sad end, if you have such trouble making up your mind about what to rent; if even metacritic.com and Ebert & Roeper & Ollie aren't enough help; if you have to call upon your chums to make even decisions this easy, then you should just get yourself one of those twenty-sided Dungeons & Dragons dice and let it make all your life-choices for you, from what to have for breakfast to who to think about while masturbating. On the frightening end, it's bad enough that I and the video clerk know that I returned Bio Dome three days late. Now it's going to be general public knowledge?
Today, I made a rather large purchase on Amazon. I had to spend a hundred bucks as part of the Teacher's Choice program that NYC Public Schools have. See, in December, they give you two hundred dollars, which every teacher in existence spends on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Insert holiday here presents and then you have to turn in receipts to justify your expenses by the end of March, which, for me, usually means that I'm scrambling down the aisles at Staples putting enough construction paper in my cart to take me over the 200 mark.
This year, I decided that I'd support my school library and buy books of plays that my students could use next year when I tell them they have to bring in a scene to perform and they're too lazy to go to the Public Library. So I went to Amazon and pointed and clicked some stuff that looked good.
Before this, I'd mostly bought/looked at/added to my Wish List trade paperback collections of comic books, music that I never get around to buying and the occasional Lord of the Rings DVD. Which meant that My Page, the specially designed for Me welcome page on Amazon, would show me that the new Starman collection was coming out soon or suggest that I "treat myself" to the latest Neko Case CD. I got so used to seeing this sort of me-centric marketing that it was a bit jarring when I went to Amazon after making my purchase today and discovered that, thanks to a large order of books aimed at seventh-graders, I now had the welcome page of a Scottsdale housewife.
Seriously, where they once tried to sell me They Might Be Giants DVDs, they're now hawking slimming lingerie and cheap crystal stemware. I've suggested before that we should fuck with the marketers in any way we can. I'm feeling that more than ever. This is my request of you, the would-be activist who thinks about going down to the protest march and throwing rocks at the cops but then gets involved in a What Not to Wear marathon on BBC America. While you're sitting there on your ass, take a few seconds to go to Amazon and just look at really stupid, horrendous shit that you wouldn't buy if your life depended on it. Add Carrot-Top movies to your wish list. Browse through some Steve and Edie CDs. Let's make The Parables of Peanuts the most viewed book on the site.
Marketers deserve to be foiled wherever and whenever they can be. Actually, they deserve to have maple syrup and fire ants poured into their undies, but let's start small.
What with March Madness and all, I'm sure people are finding it harder than ever to keep up with current events. As a service to you, then, Hairshirt once again presents...
The Hairshirt Newsbrief.
In a move designed to shore up their image as the party that wants to get government off your backs, congressional Republicans are meeting today to pass a special bill that would get the feeding tube reinserted into Terri Schiavo. The bill, which President Bush has returned to Washington from his 34th vacation of 2005 to sign, would be extremely limited in scope and apply only to the Schiavo case, marking the first time that congress has passed legislation affecting only one person since the landmark Shelly Winters Act of 1971, which made it illegal for the actress to appear in public in a bikini. Opponents of the bill say that Republicans are heading down a slippery slope, which could lead to legislation to prevent specific women from seeking abortions or legislate that specific men could not pull out before they come.
Pope John Paul II had a severely limited role in today's Palm Sunday mass in Rome, attending the service and, at one point, waving a palm frond, but not actually saying anything . Vatican officials say that, while the 84-year-old pontiff is physically unable to conduct a traditional mass, those in attendance could still interpret his grunts, twitches and farts to divine his holy message.
According to sources in the FBI, handyman Kelly Frank, suspected of planning to kidnap and ransom the infant son of talk show host David Letterman, has been involved in previous kidnap plots. FBI agents who searched Franks' Montana home found detailed plans from the late 80s to abduct Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa. The FBI is considering dropping the charges in the Letterman case if Frank will agree to go ahead with his earlier plan.
There is evidence that the anti-war movement may be losing a little steam as the war in Iraq drags on into its third year. The Washington Post reports that attendance at rallies held yesterday to mark the two-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq were significantly lower than at those held last year. Additionally, the marchers seemed uninspired in their protest chants, often coming up with nothing better than "Hey-hey! Ho-ho! Something something's got to go!" and "1, 2, 3, 4! Those are the numbers that come before 5!"
The CIA has stated that techniques used in interrogating suspected terrorists have always been legal and within the boundaries accepted by the international community. CIA director of public affairs Jennifer Millerwise denied Friday that the agency has used such tactics as holding a a prisoner's head under water, attaching electrical wires to his genitals and eating a really delicious piece of cake in front of him while making "yummy" noises, but not offering him any.
That's all from the Hairshirt newsdesk, I'm Geoff Gannon reporting.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Sleepy. So very sleepy. Long week, need sleep. One or two things before I pass out and do a face-plant into my keyboard:
Thursday, March 17, 2005
You'd think that, in a full day of teaching, there'd have to be at least one bright spot; at least one period when the kids listened; at least one class that didn't elevate your blood pressure to the point where you felt like your head was about to burst and shut the little cretins up by covering them with your blood, grey matter and shard of your skull. You'd think.
Not today. Today was eight periods of fucking torture. I yelled today. A lot. I don't like to yell. It's the mark of a crappy teacher. I yelled almost non-stop for months at a time last year and I didn't ever want to revert to that type of technique again. Couldn't help it today. I just ran out of patience.
Then, to put some rancid buttercream frosting on my turd-cake of a day, I get an e-mail telling me that my sketch group didn't get into the New York Sketchfest. I already knew that, of course, seeing as how I'd sent in the application a month and a half ago and hadn't heard a fucking peep since, but it always sucks to get confirmation of bad news you already pretty much know.
So the day has left me in a sort of bleak, there-is-no-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-and-the-tunnel-is-full-of-diseased-rats kind of places that all non-lobotomized people inhabit at one time or another, my usual merry sort of depression-lite replaced by actual despair. This, too, shall pass, I know. But it's absolutely no fun until it does.
And so, I'm distracting myself by trying to think of ways to promote this blog. This summer, my intent is to go on an all-out blitz, trying to attract new readers. Here's what I've got so far:
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Aries: This is a good week to begin new projects, Aries. Maybe something like Picking Up the Shattered Pieces of Your Life and Trying to Forget the Last Twenty Years Ever Happened. That’d be a good project.
Gemini: During your St. Patrick’s Day celebration this week, Gemini, you make the unhappy discovery that green beer makes for green puke.
Pisces: Despite what your asshole friend tells you, Pisces, "Erin Go Braugh" does not mean "Feel My Tits" in Celtic. Keep your hands to yourself or you're going to get maced.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Fun With Metaphors
I am a bowl of French Onion Soup; my mind a piece of soggy bread, floating in a broth of despair, weighed down by the melted cheese-like mass of my yearning.
No, I am a waffle, pressed between two heavy iron grids. I expand, pressing against my boundaries and I am released, only to be smeared with the butter of my fears, drenched in the reduced-calorie maple syrup that is my insecurity.
Wait, no; actually, I'm a smore. My soul has been roasted over the open flame of the universe's cruelty. My birth and my death surround me like graham crackers. And my once solid dreams are melted against me like so much gushy chocolate.
But then, I might be parsley, because nobody really has any use for me.
Or...or, hang on...Oh! I'm a smoothie. My days, like various sorts of fruit and ice cubes and yogurt, were once distinct and bright. The routine of my life has blended them all together into a lumpy mess that's supposed to be good for me, but that I don't really want to drink, 'cause it looks like vomit.
No, that's bullshit. What I am is a falafel on pita bread. The tahini sauce of my youth is dripping away through the leaky bread, leaving the crunchy patties of my existence dry and hard to swallow.
I could say that I'm brussel sprouts, because nobody wants me and I'll probably just be sneakily hidden under the mashed potatoes.
How about this: I'm toast, but toast that's been on too low of a setting, so I'm disappointingly soft when people want me to be crunchy. Also because I'm really tasty with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over me.
Tsk. Who am I kidding? All this debate, when I really know exactly what I am. I'm cheese!
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Driving for Retards
Woke up a bit early this morning to take my wife to a fotog gig in Central Park. She was going to take the train, but then was running late and blah blah blah. So I drive her down there and drop her off near Tavern on the Green at 72nd. I hang a right on 72nd, go down one block and take another right onto Columbus, planning on cutting back over to Central Park West and going uptown. Slight problem with this plan, though, as Columbus is a one-way street heading south and I was going north. And, of course, I'd noticed that there was a traffic cop behind me as I pulled onto 72nd.
So, when this realization hits me, I pull over, facing the wrong way, and wait a couple seconds for my heart to stop jumping in and out of my throat. I look around and figure I'm safe to turn around--not just "safe" to turn around, but "obligated" to turn around. I do a U-turn and see that the traffic cop is sitting on the corner of 72nd and Columbus, looking at me, the thought, "What the fuck kind of idiot is this guy?" plainly on her face.
I pull over to the curb--facing the right direction this time--and pull out my driver's license and registration. While waiting for the cop to come to the car, I have time to reflect on how very, very poor I am right now and how I really don't have the extra bucks to pay a "Reckless and Moronic Operation of a Motor Vehicle" fine. I think of the out-of-state plates on the car and feel great shame at the fact that I probably look like Cousin Clem, new to the Big City and mystified by the complex traffic patterns, when I'm used to drivin' down dirt roads and chucking my empty beer cans at tractors. I wind down my window and wait.
At this point, I should probably clarify that at no point did the police officer put on her lights and come chasing after me. There was no call from her speaker to "pull over." But she was right behind me when I did this and I saw her and she knew that I saw her. So, lights and sirens or no, she got out of her car and walked over.
The officer approaches the passenger side, her brow furrowed, looking at me like retarded monkeys might suddenly spring forth from my pants. I roll down the other window and begin a truly lame apology. "I'm sorry. I just dropped my wife off--" (because she's probably wondering why my wife isn't in the car) "--and I haven't really woken up yet."
So this is where I'm expecting a "Can I see your license and registration please, sir?" or a "Would you please step out of the vehicle, sir?" or something along those lines. Instead, I get a "Yeah, well, maybe you want to sit for a minute and wake yourself up." I whimper something about does she need to see my license and she replies in the negative before heading back to her cruiser, apparently satisfied that I wasn't under the influence of five tabs of blotter acid or making a getaway after a pre-brunch bank robbery.
Basically, then, I got off with nothing more than a cocked eyebrow because this was a traffic cop whose only real function is to ticket people who've parked at an expired meter and she didn't feel like going through all the trouble of remembering what she was taught in cop school about processing insane drivers.
Or maybe she thought I was an idiot out-of-towner and she wanted to cut the hillbilly idiot some slack. In which case, thank God for out-of-state plates.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
I Scream, You Scream...
I'm trying to lose a little weight, so I'm currently on a drive to cut back on desserts. Not working too well, as I've just eaten dinner and now my mind is on ice cream. I'm a big Ben & Jerry's fan. I particularly like their Flavors of the Month. Not always a hit, but sometimes they've come up with some of my favorite flavors. Oatmeal Cookie Chunk started out as a flavor of the month. It's cinnamon ice cream with pieces of oatmeal cookie and chocolate chips. Delicious. Dublin Mudslide was pretty good, too. Irish Coffee Liquer with chocolate and cookies and coffee fudge.
Some of these flavors prove so popular that they keep them around. Some of them go the way of the dodo. On the B & J websit, they've got what they call the Flavor Graveyard. It's a comprehensive list of all the flavors they've shitcanned through the years. Here are some of my favorites:
Friday, March 11, 2005
Gris Is the Word
With my wife back from Seattle, we're getting a chance to spend some time together again. So tonight we took advantage of the fact that we live in New York. We went to Free Target Fridays at the Museum of Modern Art. If you've never been to MoMA NY, you need to hop a subway, plane or dirigible and get there. And you should do it on a Friday between 4 and 8, because it's twenty fucking dollars otherwise. I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, twenty bucks isn't all that much. Still, it's kind of galling to me that some of the greatest paintings in the world are in town but out of reach to folks who can't swing a double sawbuck.
Whatever you pay, though, it's a fucking phenomenal collection. The problem with this is that, especially when you're there with the mass of cheapskates like me who take advantage of Free Fridays, the aforementioned Greatest Paintings in the World are pretty much surrounded at all times. I didn't really get a good look in at Van Gough's The Starry Night, as there was a swarm of gawkers on all sides of it. It kind of reminded me of the bar scene when I was single. If there was a really gorgeous girl, you could sure there'd be a couple dozen frat boys jockeying for position. It was the same thing for Dali's The Persistence of Memory. Anything that people have seen posters of in dorm rooms, they're going to want to get a picture of to take home.
Picasso fans have it a bit easier in MoMA, because there's about three hundred seventy-eight of his pieces there. The man was prolific. When we were in Europe this summer, I got my fill of Picasso. He's fucking everywhere. The man had to've painted three or four pieces every day. Maybe he painted in his sleep. Maybe he worked on two canvasses at once, painting one conventionally and then shoving a couple tubes of paint in his ass and squeezing to paint one behind him. I'm no longer moved when I see a Picasso. In fact, I barely look.
I actually much prefer Juan Gris. Maybe it's the fact that his work feels more carefully considered to me. Maybe it's the fact that he painted less than 50,000 pieces. Maybe it's the fact that I always tend to root for the guy on the second tier. Mark Price instead of Michael Jordan. Aquaman over Superman. Onion rings over french fries. Whatever the reason, I much prefer a Gris. I like getting Gris-y.
There was one rather tense moment in the museum tonight. I was checking out a Seurat piece I'd never seen and thinking that, if it wasn't for the fact that it's made up of tiny dots, it'd be pretty much just another Starving Artists painting that you could buy in a mall to hang above your couch. All of a sudden there's a museum guard to my left yelling at someone to my right. He's marching menacingly and purposefully past me. I look where he's headed and see that a pudgy thirteen year old (could have been a really big boned eleven year old) is leaning--actually, literally leaning against Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy. One of the most famous paintings in the world and little Chubsy Wubsy's gonna use it as a back scratcher. The kid's mother, who'd been taking his picture is standing there looking vacant. I wanted to hit the kid upside the head with a Max Ernst.
Oh, the paintings we saw! They have pretty much one of everything at MoMA, so we got to see a lesser work by Munch (who apparently didn't have the ability to draw someone without their arms right up to their heads.) We saw a buttload of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Matisse, with all of whom I am now bored. They even had a series of photos of Vito "Yank-Yank" Acconci burning the hair off of his chest with a candle. Okay, well, that one might not be a reason to visit the museum.
So yes, I am all full of culture this evening. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat a bucket of KFC and watch an Adam Sandler flick.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Obi Wan Ke-naughty
Apparently, the next installment of the Star Wars series is going to be a slightly more grown-up film. Tired of the cuddly-wuddly world of ewoks, jawas and thinly-veiled racist stereotypes, creator George Lucas has decided to make Episode III: Revenge of the Sith a PG-13 affair. As always, Hairshirt is privy to all sorts of advanced information and so we bring you now the reasons this flick is inappropriate for the young 'uns.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Aries: This week, Aries, you get kicked out of bed for eating crackers.
Gemini: No matter how elated they are by the Supreme Court’s ruling against capital punishment for people under 18, youthful Geminis should still not go on any murderous rampages this week. Wait until the middle of the month, when Jupiter is ascendant.
Libra: You are completely unnerved by the news that Al-Qaeda planned in 2001 to kidnap Russell Crowe, mostly because you had the exact same plan in 2000.
Pisces: Stick to your guns this week, Pisces. Just, you really should make sure the safety's on first.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
(An airport. Vance and Sandra enter and set their luggage down.)
SANDRA: Darling, I wonder...
VANCE: Yes, my sweet?
SANDRA: Are we rushing into this? Is it too big a step?
VANCE: Of course not. You crazy kid. You're nervous, I know. That's natural. But I tell you, we're going to be just fine.
VANCE: Yes. Sure, we just met two days ago. And yes, we're both married to other people. And then there's the fact that we're both fairly sure we're gay. Plus I'm completely impotent and you were born without genitalia. But dammit, we can overcome all of that. When you're in love, you can overcome any obstacles.
SANDRA: You don't think we're just kidding ourselves?
VANCE: Oh, darling. Of course we're just kidding ourselves. There's no way on God's green earth that we'll last more than a week. Why, I'd be surprised if we're still together when the plane lands.
SANDRA: I feel the same way!
VANCE: Hey, we're living life for the now! I don't care what happens down the road. I only care that right now I've convinced myself that you're the one for me.
SANDRA: Oh, my dearest temporary darling. You've got everything I don't care about in a man.
VANCE: My fake passion for you burns so bright! It's like a star. A bright shining star.
SANDRA: What I'm feeling now, I, I've never felt before. Every moment bursts with feeling. Every breath sings with the joy of living in the present. And yet...
VANCE: Yes, my pseudo-angel?
SANDRA: And yet I look strangely forward to the moment when I can be rid of you and hit on a waitress.
VANCE: We've got so much in common. Oh, I don't regret a thing. I want nothing more than to spend the next four to five minutes making you the happiest woman on earth.
SANDRA: I treasure you. Kind of.
VANCE: Let's go buy some mints, cause your breath is killing me.
SANDRA: And your ass truly, truly reeks.
Monday, March 07, 2005
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World
The world has, as of today, gone absolutely, undeniably batshit. That is to say, if the world was to put on an article of clothing, the most appropriate selection would be a straight-jacket. The entire planet needs some Halcyon and twice-weekly therapy. Am I making my point here?
Let's talk about why I'm feeling this:
First, there's talk--and apparently not just a jokingly tossed-off sentence, but actual consideration--of Bono being named president of the World Bank. Now, I know he's a smart, passionate guy. I know he's involved in the push for debt-relief for struggling nations. But come on. He's sung a James Bond theme. Nobody who's recorded a James Bond theme should be allowed to head a major international organization. You don't see Shirley Bassey running the Red Cross, do you? Let him organize charity concerts and such, but I think you'll find Adam Clayton and The Edge a little pissed if they have to rearrange their summer tour around an IMF summit.
Then, there's the continuing poor behavior of America toward the rest of the world. We shot the guy who'd just successfully extricated Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena from her kidnappers and I don't think we've apologized yet. Unsatisfied with Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, we're now threatening Syria, saying that they'd better withdraw completely and immediately from Lebanon if they know what's good for 'em. The U.S. is seeming more and more like a fourth grader forcing all the kindergartners to do what he tells them in the sandbox. And now Bush has nominated someone who hates the U.N. to be our U.N. ambassador. Yeeargh!
On top of all that, the Vin Diesel-as-nanny comedy opened in first place at the box office, people seem to still be interested in Ashlee and Jessica Simpson and I heard a muzak version of "Changes" while I was on hold today. David Bowie shouldn't be made into hold music. Billy Ocean should be made into hold music. Phil Collins should be made into hold music. Not Bowie.
So I'm thinking we should stage an intervention. We should sit down with the world and tell it how concerned we are. We should tell it that we think maybe it needs to spend some time someplace quiet. We need to let it know that all this is not the world's fault, that it can happen to us all. Then we need to cart the world off to the cracker farm for a couple months, see if maybe some electro-shock might help.
'Cause this place is nuts.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Once again, Hairshirt is doing you, the reader, the great service of collecting news from all over, putting it into a food processor with half a cup of cream, four ounces of Velveeta Cheese and one sixteen ounce jar of Old El Paso medium salsa to bring you a spicy NewsBrief con Queso.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Hairshirt VII: The Revenge
Apparently Hollywood has absolutely no new ideas. Apparently, every single idea that could ever have been made into a film has already been fleshed out and produced. How else to explain the mania for completely unnecessary sequels? In the past year, we've had sequels to The Mask, Legally Blonde, fucking Baby Geniuses, for the love of weeping Christ! Nobody asked for those. You find me one non-retarded person in America who walked out of Baby Geniuses and said, "That was magical. I wish it would never have ended."
There's more on the way. A half-assed sequel to Get Shorty opened yesterday. Now, Get Shorty was a fun little movie and all, but I don't think there were a whole lot of lingering questions left at the end. There's a Miss Congeniality II on it's way as well, which, I believe, is actually listed in the Book of Revelations as a sign that the AntiChrist should be here within the month.
So does this, in fact, mean that any movie that doesn't go straight-to-video is now going to be brought back a second, even a third time? Are there now no movies that aren't in-utero franchises?
'Cause if that's how it's going to be, I think I've got some ideas that the studios just might be interested in.
Friday, March 04, 2005
So my day was utter and complete shit. The week after a vacation (which we had last week) always seems a bit longer than normal. By Friday, you're really just hating life and everyone in it. Add to this the fact that the New York Department of Education has apparently decided to act like an abusive husband in the latest round of contact negotiations and there's rumblings of a strike. Then my first class after lunch decided it would be a good day to put on an in-class performance of Lord of the Flies. By the last period, I was reduced to little more than pathetic, ineffective yelling and threats to pack the lot of them into a dumpster and ship them to the farthest, reekingest landfill I could find. I rode home a sad, sad little man. I needed something to boost my spirits.
When porn didn't work, I decided to throw in a movie. I decided I needed to laugh. I put in Young Frankenstein.
Sweet merciful hopscotching Jesus, is there a funnier film in the history of man? I would definitely argue that there isn't. The movie is very nearly flawless from beginning to end, with one of the greatest comedic ensembles ever assembled. Gene Wilder's tantrum when the experiment fails. Kenneth Mars cheating at darts. Madeline Kahn choking on train smoke. Terri Garr cowering from the wolf howl. Cloris Leachman's bitter grimace at how horses react to her name. Every single thing Marty Feldman does. These people were at the absolute top of their game. I can forgive Haunted Honeymoon and Spanglish. I can forgive any number of career missteps when someone is capable of this sort of genius.
Mel Brooks directed, in this movie, some of the most perfectly written and executed comic scenes ever. Garr and Wilder figuring out the bookcase mechanism. Wilder and Peter Boyle's performance of "Puttin' on the Ritz". Mars speaking to the meeting of nervous townspeople. The desperate game of charades as Boyle chokes the life out of Wilder.
And dear fucking god, the scene between Boyle and Gene Hackman. I would posit that there has never been a better capper to a scene than "Where are you going? I was gonna make espresso!"
All of this wrapped up in a movie so beautifully shot, which captures the feel of the James Whale movies so well.
This is what I love about movies. That, in an hour and forty-five minutes, they can wipe away a week full of misery and restore your faith in humanity. Or at least in humanity outside of the South Bronx.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
So I'm on my sixth day of wifelessness as the Mrs. is still in Seattle visiting her family. It's just sad, man. I've reached a stage in my life where, in the absence of my wife, I float from room to room in this apartment aimlessly, seriously without a clue as to what I should be doing. Maybe it's the lack of human contact. I'm around small humans all day, but I wouldn't call it contact to yell, "If you throw one more book at her, I will be seeing you in detention! Now sit down!" repeatedly. Maybe it's fumes from dishes that have been sitting in the sink for days overwhelming my ability to think coherently. Maybe all the Oprah I'm exposed to when she's here is somehow necessary to my mental health.
Whatever the reason, I'm just kind of pitiful without her. It's fucking pathetic. It's so pathetic that I set out to come up with a list of people that are more pathetic than me to make me feel a little better. This is what I've got so far:
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Aries: Your incessant bragging about winning your office Oscar pool has officially reached Really Fucking Annoying status...now.
Taurus: I'm going to suggest that you rethink your decision to buy your nephew that Baby's First Boa Constrictor kit.
Gemini: Finances are at the front of your mind this week, Gemini. The back of your mind, though, is completely empty. So are the sides and the middle. Lotta space in there. Echo! (echo! echo!)
Cancer: While many women are attracted to a man who reads, Cancer, you're not going to have them swooning with your encyclopedic knowledge of Richie Rich.
Leo: A chance encounter with Bert Convy fifteen years ago still haunts you to this day. It's time to let it go, Leo.
Virgo: As fantastic as the idea sounds, at least sleep on it a couple of days before investing your life savings in your buddy's Make Your Own Borscht restaurant. There's a chance you're overestimating the public's love of beets.
Libra: You report to Spring Training in great shape and ready to play. This would mean a lot more if you were on one of the teams.
Scorpio: As the Chinese proverb says, "Don't go looking for happiness in a cow's intestines, for even if it's there, it's going to smell really fucking foul."
Sagittarius: You're about to meet the man of your dreams this week, Sagittarius. The man of your really bad, embarrassing dreams.
Capricorn: Before you make that purchase this week, Capricorn, stop and think, "Do I really need a fourth yogurt maker?"
Aquarius: As devastated as you are that The Bachelorette's relationship didn't work out, you need to remember that you've still got a lot to live for, Aquarius. Like...uhh...boy, I'm coming up snake eyes on this one.
Pisces: Your new nipple piercings prove dangerous when you become stuck to a giant electromagnet at the science museum.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
(A diner. Lula is seated with Vince. Deputy Zippo enters and looks around.)
DEPUTY ZIPPO: I’m sorry, folks! Folks! Could I have yore attention please? (The room quiets down) Sorry to disturb y’all when yore eatin’, but is there a Lula Quackenbush here?
LULA: That’s me.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Ma’am, I’m Deputy Zippo. County Sherrifs?
LULA: How can I help you, Deputy?
DEPUTY ZIPPO: You had a son named Greg?
LULA: Have. I have a son named Greg.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Ah, now, doggone it. See, I told them I shouldn’t do this.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: I blew it already.
LULA: I’m afraid you’ve lost me, Deputy.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: “Have.” Okay, let me start over. Ma’am, do you “have” a son named Greg?
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Greg Quackenbush, the screaming homosexual?
VINCE: Now, Deputy, I don’t think Greg—
DEPUTY ZIPPO: No, trust me: he was. Is. Sorry.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Anyway, now, you’re confirming that Greg “Ankle-Grabber” Quackenbush is yore son, is that correct, ma’am?
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Well, ma’am, I regret to inform you that Greg was a casualty in the explosion at the pie factory this morning.
LULA: Oh my God!
DEPUTY ZIPPO: I’m very sorry to trouble you at this moment, but I need to ask you some questions. Is that all raht with you, ma’am?
LULA: Um, sure. Sure.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: When we went to yore son’s apartment this morning, we found a, quite a large stash of home-made kiddie porn.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Did Greg ever talk to you about where he created this kiddie porn?
DEPUTY ZIPPO: He never just kinda casually said, “Hey, I’ve got these twelve-year-old Inuit siamese twins I’m gonna shoot this watersports movie with, could I borrow yore vibrator?”
LULA: Oh, sweet Jesus.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Okay, I’ll just put that you were unaware of the…
VINCE: (Taking Lula’s hand) Shhh. It’s okay.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Ma’am, do you know approximately how long Greg was manufacturing high-grade heroin?
VINCE: Look, Deputy, I think this is all coming as quite a shock to Mrs. Quackenbush. Can the questions wait until she’s maybe had a chance to absorb some of this?
DEPUTY ZIPPO: Sure. Sure. Sorry.
VINCE: Thank you.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: One last thing, ma’am.
DEPUTY ZIPPO: From yore friends at work.
(Deputy Zippo pulls out a radio, hits play and we get C+C Music Factory’s Everybody Dance Now. Deputy Zippo pulls off his tear-away pants and begins to gyrate. Lula looks lost. Deputy Zippo gives her a lap dance. Lula resumes crying. Vince hands her a dollar, which she, still sobbing, stuffs in Deputy Zippo’s underwear, after which he stops dancing, grabs his clothes and gets ready to go.)
DEPUTY ZIPPO: In deepest sympathy. (He leaves.)