Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Fireworks do make for a very festive 4th of July celebration, Aries, but you need to ask yourself if a nursing home dining room is the right place for that sort of display.

Taurus: Your self-esteem soars to new heights this week when not one but four men ask for your phone number. Okay, two of them are cops, one's a customer service rep for Verizon and the fourth is your uncle who needs to reprogram his cell phone, but dammit, you're in demand!

Gemini: You are haunted this week by recurring sex dreams involving Herve Villechaize and three slices of key lime pie. Wow. You really need to get laid.

Cancer: Your patriotic spirit shines this Independence Day, Cancer. And nothing says "I Love America" like having a star-spangled thong wedged firmly up your ass.

Leo: This week could see you get into a huge fight with your eight-year-old daughter over whether or not she can get her ears pierced. Sadly, this one's gonna look like nothing in two years, when she wants breast implants.

Virgo: You start feeling very, very old this week, Virgo, as it's driven home to you that, despite what you've always believed, Trix really are for kids.

Libra: Please try not to ruin your family's 4th of July picnic this weekend by pointing out that hot dogs and apple pie are really kind of German.

Scorpio: Your most fervent prayers are answered this week as Hall and Oates announce a major tour of North America. Congrats!

You find yourself encouraged by the president's attempt to shore up support for the war in Iraq. So that partial lobotomy was good for something at least, huh?

Capricorn: Capricorns are especially excited about the upcoming three-day weekend. An extra day to sit around drunk and jerk off to the Victoria's Secret catalogue! Huzzah!

Drive carefully now that school's out. Or at least as carefully as you can after your daily quart of Jim Beam.

Nobody really likes doing dishes, but when you're reduced to eating your steak with a fondue fork, it's time to reach for the Palmolive, chief.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Nails in the Coffin

Every great once in awhile, you come across a news story that changes your life. It's rare. But when it happens, it's as if a heavy curtain has been torn down from a window and the light is now being allowed to stream in, chasing away the ignorant darkness. I have been blind. I have been unaware. No more.

Paula Abdul has seen to it that the scales have fallen away from my eyes.

Paula testified before the California legislature today about the dire need for more sanitary conditions in nail salons. Apparently, Paula herself was a victim of a bad nail job, ending in an infection that caused the pint-sized diva to literally scream. Neighbors ignored her pain, as they thought she was simply singing. But she wasn't. This was no pop ballad gone awry; it was the voice of agony.

Nail technicians hold more than your fingers in their hand when you go in for a touch-up. They hold your very life. According to Paula, the conditions in California nail salons are so unsanitary that a worker might drop their emory board in a pile of ox dung, pick it up without so much as wiping it off and then resume buffing your pinky.

These salons are running unchecked. Where is the necessary oversight? Where are the daily inspections to make sure that when we're "soaking in it", we know exactly what "it" is? Where is the government agency whose function will be to guarantee that salon workers are properly trained and don't just gnaw my cuticles off with their teeth?

I suppose I could be like so many in this country and turn a blind eye to this problem. When I pass a woman on the street whose press-on nails have been painted with half-assed unicorns, I could keep my mouth shut. I could cover my ears to block out the screams of those who have been cut--literally--to the quick by an incompetent salon worker.

But, you see, there's a nail salon on my block. And another around the corner. This is my neighborhood and I don't want to see it's streets littered with victims of poor manicures. Because I care. I care.

Monday, June 27, 2005


A Tale of Two Cities

This was a very interesting weekend in New York City. In addition to the sweltering heat, which always makes things just a little more special, this weekend saw NYC play host to not just one, but two huge, huge events. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Flushing Meadows was filled with evangelical Christians and people who dig evangelical Christians. I've heard that an estimated 90,000 people made the trip to Queens to feel the spirit upon them.

Meanwhile, in Manhattan, this weekend was Gay Pride. About a half a million people made the trip to drink spirits and feel queens upon them.

I did not attend the Billy Graham event, so I can't speak knowledgeably about the crowds there. I was at the Pride Parade and can say that it was like being in a sardine can on a stove, packed in shoulder to elbow with a bunch of sardines in much better shape than me. I'm not huge on crowds, shirtless and oiled-up or otherwise, so I was forced to leave the parade route after moving down the sidewalk at a glacial pace for three blocks, parallel with a group of really angry marchers in the street with a P.A. system who alternated between a poorly syncopated "We've got to beat...back...the Bush attack! We've got to beat, beat back...the Bush attack!" and something that started "Hey-Hey! Ho-Ho!"

I need to take a moment here to reiterate my strong feeling that, if you can't come up with something better than "Hey-Hey! Ho-Ho! [insert "bad" thing here]'s got to go!", you should stay the fuck out of the parade.

I've heard a lot of people talk of the strange combination of having both the Graham Crusade and Gay Pride in town on the same weekend. Some of the folks I overheard at the parade sniffed that the Christians were targeting them. I wondered about that, so I called my friend Art Raddison, who works in the Mayor's office and he told me that New York is out to show everyone what a Big Tent city it is. Art said that the Mayor and his staff are actively seeking to book diverse events in town at the same time. Apparently, the rest of 2005 is rife with 'em. Here's a partial list of seemingly incompatible events that will set up shop in the city.
  • July 15th--Scientology Info Expo at South Street Seaport vs 22nd annual meeting of the Society of People Who Don't Believe a Bunch of Crazy Bullshit at Cooper Union.
  • August 29th--MENSA Annual Mental Decatholon at Pace University vs Bush Cabinet Annual No-Wives Weekend at Bare Elegance Gentlemens Club, 50th St. and Broadway.
  • October 16th-18th--First Annual New York Comic Book Convention at Jacob Javits Center vs the Foundation for People With Active Sex Lives at Madison Square Garden.
  • November 2--Jews for Jesus at Alice Tully Hall vs Christians Who Dig Bagels at 92nd Street Y.
  • November 26th & 27th--National Organization of Pharmaceutical Executives at Waldorf Astoria vs the Brotherhood of Non-Evil Guys at the Hell's Kitchen Denny's.
  • December 1st--Day Without Art (citywide) vs Day Without Publicly Showing My Privates (Tara Reid's Apartment).
All of which goes to show that this city has room for everyone, big or small, rich or poor, intelligent or Republican. I love New York!

Saturday, June 25, 2005


All Hail and Praise the Blah Blah Blah

I have no real idea why, but I woke up this morning thinking about my alma mater.

I'm not talking about where I went to school, I'm talking about my school's alma mater, the song of praise to the school's high quality that is sung at assemblies and football games. I woke up this morning to the revelation that I don't know my high school's alma mater.

I remember the alma mater from the school district where I went to elementary school. Apparently, I had that one drilled into my head at an early enough age that it stuck. As far as alma maters go, it's not bad, I guess. It rhymes. It's short and to the point. It's got a pithy melody that doesn't sound bad when played by an inexperienced horn section.

The alma mater from the place I went to junior high and high school, though, is another matter. I remembered the first line. It went "Oh hail to thee, our Western Reserve and honor to thy name." The music that goes with those words I remember as well. I remember singing them and thinking, "Wow. Whoever wrote this had absolutely no fucking clue what he was doing." It's a song that makes you feel kind of sorry for the notes; makes you want to apologize to the ears of people who listen to it. It's basically like the songwriter took a bunch of notes and plucked them at random to string together into a song.

But, as memorably awful as the first line is, I hadn't a clue what followed it. So I Googled it. I Googled "western reserve berlin alma mater", because I went to Western Reserve High School in Berlin Center, Ohio. And because I wanted to find the alma mater. I found out that my tiny little high school--I graduated in a class of 80 students--now has a web site. That tripped me out because WR was not the most tech-savvy school out there. We had a computer lab, but the computers weren't really much more than abaci with On switches.

The site has all kinds of handy info, like pictures of the faculty. They don't tell you who the people are or what they teach, but they've got pictures on there, so that if you see these folks on the street, you'll know what you're dealing with. They do identify the principals of the high school, junior high and elementary, which proved mind-blowing when I found out that a guy with whom I graduated is now the principal of the junior high. I am old.

Anyway, they also have all of the words to the alma mater. I clicked on the link and took a look. I'm thinking now that the reason I didn't recall this song is basically out of self-preservation. I think my mind didn't want to be home to something that ugly and so, like a plane crash survivor blocking out details of the wreck, my brain just shut down the synapses where that song was stored.

It's long for an alma mater. It rhymes in places, but not all over. Lines are repeated for no apparent reason. It also lacks some of the confidence that one normally looks for in an alma mater. One of the repeated lines is "We strive to do our best." That sounds kind of Special Olympicsy, doesn't it? The music, thankfully, isn't on the site. I'm fairly confident that the rest of the tune is as awful as the first line, so I think the world is probably a better place with the notes left off the web.

I liked my high school. I didn't have a Golden Years sort of high school experience, but neither did I fantasize about shooting up the place. I edited the school newspaper--then called the Devil Dispatch, now called the Devil's Den, although I think maybe Missives from the Dark Lord would be a better title if you're going with the satan thing--and had a column, which gave me the practice to write what I'm writing now. I did morning announcements; I was in Drama Club and Student Council and I never got laid. So not great and not awful.

I just wish they'd get a new Alma Mater. Maybe they could hire Peter Frampton to write something. He's got to be working cheap these days, right? Maybe Al Jarreau?

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Mildly Disgusting

I have been writing too often lately about disgusting things. I realize that. But I really have to add just this one more.

So my wife and I were eating sushi tonight and watching a tape of the rerun of the Tom Cruise on Oprah fiasco--neither of us had seen it. I have to mention here that I'm getting over bronchitis and have coughing and major congestion going on. I'm watching Cruise gush mind-boggling amounts of fake emotion. I'm seeing this nutjob go absolutely spastic in the worst show of faux happiness since Gloria Stuart lost the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Kim Basinger in '98.

I can't take it. I start half-coughing, half-gagging. I'm coughing out half-eaten pieces of rice. I recover and finish my tamago. Then Oprah asks Tom if he's ever felt an emotion like this before. The gagging and coughing starts again. That subsides, then I start sneezing. I grab a Kleenex and go to the other room so as not to negatively impact my wife's appetite.

I sneeze, then I blow my nose.

I don't know how other people do it, but I tend to check out the Kleenex before I pitch it. I just do. So I look at the Kleenex and I see that I've blown a piece of egg from the tamago out of my nose. And that's mildly disgusting.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You feel culturally unaware when you realize that you don't recognize even one of AFI's top one hundred movie quotes. In fact, the only movie quote you know is "Dance on my dick, bitch" from Cum Hungry Sluts 5: Sluts Ahoy!

Taurus: This week, Senator Bill Frist will diagnose you as an asshole after someone shows him a videotape of you in bed.

Damn! You are one handsome man! Although, you could also just be a really butch chick.

Cancer: When joyriding in a stolen plane this week, remember: people on cocaine are much better at flying than those who drink, so don't forget your coke spoon.

Leo: Not only is it kind of creepy that you're nearly forty and really into playing "Yugi-Oh", but you also really suck at it.

Virgo: Mustard figures quite prominently in your life this week, but in less of a "happy condiment" kind of way and in more of a "tragic soft pretzel accident" kind of way.

Libra: Your stupidity is about to reach new heights, Libra. Not only will you forget your purse at home, you'll also leave your liver.

Scorpio: Heartbreak for you this week Scorpio, as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a flag-burning just when your years of research had yielded a safer-burning flag. Those bastards in D.C. just don't care about the little guy.

Sagittarius: Watching the Lindsay Lohan remake of Freaky Friday at home on your television is okay. Watching on your laptop and touching yourself while parked outside of her home in your 1977 Dodge Dart is stalkerish.

Try something totally new this week; something like not being a total asshole.

Aquarius: Your dignity will suffer this week as you are beaten senseless by a fourteen-year-old girl. Hopefully, this will help teach you a lesson about what a huge, huge pussy you are.

Pisces: Your refusal to sell out would mean a lot more if anyone was willing to pay you for anything.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Scout's "Honor"

So this Boy Scout was missing in Utah for four days in the wilderness and today he's found alive and well, supposedly because he relied on his scouting skills to keep him healthy in the forest.

This is such bullshit. You know what this kid was doing for four days? Drinking booze and chasing whores, that's what. He was getting liquored up every night and shtupping loose women all day. Merit badge? Hah!

We at Hairshirt demand the truth! What were you really doing, Mr. Scouty? Are you "prepared" for the public to know what was going on in those woods? Coward! Come out and face the press! Don't hide behind your "injuries".

You mark my words: it's going to come out what this little cretin was up to and then the world is going to see these brown-shirted pervs for what they really are--brownshirted pervs.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Space Dad

The dual suns of Arctura 5 began to fade behind the ship. Dad breathed a sigh of relief. He'd never admit it to the crew, but there had been a moment, during that seemingly infinite stretch of time when the Cladulon assassin had them pinned down, when Dad himself had felt despair. He'd come close to panic. What brought him back from the edge, what always brought him back, was the knowledge that he was responsible for the lives and safety of his crew.

Cadet Junior looked up from the Navi-Puter. "Captain Dad! Captain Dad, can you come here a moment?"

Dad strode over to the console, glad to have something on which he could focus besides his recent brush with un-Captainy behavior. The young cadet pointed to the screen.

"What's the problem, cadet?" Dad asked in his usual confident manner.

"Well, sir, I was just logging in the coordinates for the trip to Remulac 7 and I noticed that some of our settings are off." The cadet sounded shaky.

"Could your calculations be off, cadet?" Dad was worried. It wasn't like Cadet Junior to make errors.

"No, Captain. I double-checked my figures."

Dad smiled. If he knew Cadet Junior, he'd probably quadruple-checked those figures. "Has anyone else had access to the Navi-Puter?"

Junior checked the log. "Yessir. Ensign Sis relieved me at 09:30."

Dad had Ensign Sis paged to the bridge. He brought her to the console. "Ensign, did you make any adjustments to the Navi-Puter when you relieved Cadet Junior?"

The ensign's eyes blazed with anger. "Negative, Captain, I--"

Junior cut her off. "That's nonsense, sir! Sis was the only one who could have--'

"Listen, Junior, I didn't touch one stupid thing on your stupid--"

Captain Dad had had enough. "That's enough! If the two of you don't stop this, I will turn this ship around! I don't care who did it, I want the two of you to work together to get it fixed. Immediately!"

Dad turned on his heels and walked to his quarters. He poured himself a glass of space-bourbon. Sometimes being a captain was a lot of responsibility.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


The Happy Little Fanboy

I have died and gone to geek heaven. My wife and I went to see Batman Begins last night and I'm still floating on a socially maladjusted cloud.

After the last two Batman movies, I felt bitter. I felt betrayed. I felt like I wanted to run Joel Schumacher through with a pike staff. First off, why the hell would anyone want to see a movie where the titular hero is made to be as interesting as chilled wheat paste. Second, if I want to see a drag show, I'll see a drag show, I don't need to see Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Uma Thurman with more make-up than Tammy Fae Baker at Mardi Gras emoting like they're on ecstasy. Third, who the fuck casts Chris O'Donnell in anything? Idiots. Idiots cast Chris O'Donnell. Basically, if you smeared some mayonnaise on two-day-old white bread and then filmed it for two and a half hours, the bread would turn in a more compelling performance than Chris Fucking O'Donnell. That's not even mentioning the fact that Robin is supposed to be a kid. O'Donnell's my age. He didn't need a guardian, he needed a sugar-daddy--which was apparently Schumacher's intended point. Nipples on the costumes, for Christ's sake.

This is, in part, why the new movie has made me so very, very happy. No day-glo motorcycle gangs. No hammy performances by big-name actors. No bat-nipples. It's not, though, just what Christopher Nolan and crew didn't fuck up that I love; it's all the things they got right.

Start with the casting. I can't think of anyone who would have made a better young Jim Gordon than Gary Oldman. From the moustache to the accent to the sad-sack look of a good cop on a dirty, dirty force, he just nailed this character. Lucius Fox was never that big of a character in the comic books and they sort of pumped the role up a bit for Morgan Freeman, but I'm glad they did, because you can never really have too much Morgan Freeman. Cillian Murphy is perfect for the Scarecrow. Take a close look at the dude. There's something just not quite right about his face. I will say that Michael Caine is not the first person who pops into my head when I think of Alfred. I've always seen him as a bit more proper and stiff than Caine usually seems. He makes it work, though. He shows the emotional connection that Alfred has for the family and that does it. Christian Bale is the best Batman of the modern age. Let me rephrase that: He's the best Bruce Wayne. To be honest, once they put the mask on, all of the Batmen pretty much look alike. But Bale turns Bruce Wayne into a complex character and, for once, we're allowed to spend enough time with him as Bruce Wayne that we believe his motivations before he dons the cape.

The movie owes a lot to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One, a brilliant revision of Batman's origin that was published in the late 80s. The writer of the screenplay, David S. Goyer, writes for comics (or at least has written for comics; he's been doing movies for awhile now) and he has a comic fan's appreciation for the character. He's borrowed the tone of Year One and some of the scenes and it makes for a more reality-grounded film, which means we have an easier time understanding and caring about this rich kid who beats the shit out of people.

I turned to my wife as the credits started to roll and I said, "That was fucking awesome". Really kind of pathetic how a transcendent fanboy experience can leave me so satisfied.

Anyway, next time, I promise a little more misery.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Fristing the Night Away

Ah, Bill Frist. What a great guy. You have to love a guy who sticks to his guns, even when incontrovertible facts prove that he had his head buried deep, deep within his own ass. Senator Frist is saying today that he would have the exact same response in the Terri Schiavo case now-- with the results of the autopsy proving that her brain had seriously atrophied--as when he expressed his doubt about the diagnosis upon viewing a video that Schiavo's family had made. Sort of presidential, isn't he? The type of guy who might start a war for bullshit reasons and then never admit in any microscopic way that he might have been wrong. In fact, I think that ought to be the G.O.P.'s new motto: "Republicans! We don't make mistakes, bitch."

Take, for instance the mistake the G.O.P.-led house didn't just make deciding that the federal government has the right to prosecute citizens who make use of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. Representative after representative came to the floor and said essentially the same thing: "There's no proof that marijuana is an effective pain reliever. This is all just an attempt to legalize pot." I've got a suggestion. Why don't they call upon Bill Frist and his miraculous medical powers. Any terminal patients in debilitating, agonizing pain can videotape themselves suffering and then send the tape to Frist. If he judges them to be actually hurting, they can use marijuana.

In fact, why don't we just do away with our current judiciary system. It's rife with activist judges anyway. I mean, for Christ's sake, as things stand, they wouldn't be able to convict Michael Jackson of molestation if they caught him with his dick in Dakota Fanning's mouth. Or her brother's. Instead of the courts we have now, we could just set Bill Frist up on a mound of pillows in the Capitol Rotunda and we could play videotape after videotape of alleged wrongdoers. Bill is so tuned in to the human condition that he'd be able to tell guilty from innocent in about five seconds flat. Just hook him up to a feeding tube and set him on a bedpan (which, I'm sure, he feels is real quality of life) so he wouldn't have to leave the room and he'll have our judicial backlog cleared up in no time.

Pilgrims will flock to Washington from all over to hear the wisdom of the Frist. His sweat will be sold by the drop to give the drinker clarity. His hair will be woven into anklets to cure cancer. In the far, far future, when he dies, the body of Frist will be preserved in a shrine and whatever side in a battle has the body of Frist on their side shall not know defeat. All hail the Frist! Frist the All-Knowing! Frist the Merciful! Frist the Wise! Frist! Frist! Frist!

Ah, Bill Frist.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: While waiting in line for Batman Begins, do your best to stay out of an argument between two fanboys over the exact issue in which Ra's al Ghul first appeared. Sure, these geeks may look harmless, but if you rile them, they'll cut you.

Taurus: You're so relieved by the not guilty verdicts in the Michael Jackson trial that you rush right out and have your kid spend the night at Neverland Ranch. You're kind of a shitty parent.

Gemini: The guy at the butcher shop was having a laugh at your expense. The recipe for sauerbraten does not call for the chef to wear the meat in his trousers for twenty-four hours before serving.

Cancer: No matter how shitty your life gets, just be grateful you don't look like this.

Leo: This week, you celebrate your twelfth glorious year of using the phrase "'Sup?" when running into someone. Of course, there are anniversaries that are more to be feared and shunned than celebrated.

Virgo: The vacuum cleaner salesman is beginning to realize that you're not going to buy anything and just keep inviting him back because you're lonely. Despite your instincts, spilling another thing of potting soil on the rug isn't going to make him want to stay.

Libra: Many people would agree with your philosophy that it should be okay to joke about anything. Still, a funeral's not the best place in the world to tell your necrophilia jokes, especially if they call for you to pull out your junk and wave it around.

Scorpio: Your brand new pair of Steve Maddens are about to get puked on by a

Sagittarius: While sitting in that Cincinnati jail cell, pondering how the tragic events of your life led you to this place, you're haunted by one recurring thought: If only I hadn't blown Brian Dennehy.

Capricorn: It's really great that you enjoyed the Air Supply reunion show at the House of Blues, but wearing the t-shirt around town is doing your reputation absolutely no good.

Aquarius: Your desire to travel to Iran in order to help monitor elections is noble and good. It's idiotic fucking suicide, too, but in a noble and good way.

Pisces: As validated as Michael Jackson probably feels after his trial, he still probably doesn't want an invitation to join your chapter of NAMBLA.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


The Joys of Summer

The heat is upon us here in New York. It reached 95 degrees today with humidity at 1047%. I love this city, but there are reasons why everyone who can afford to leave in the summer does so with all due haste. It's not a clean town. There's a thin film of grime on buildings, sidewalks and slow-moving old people. When you add a slowly swirling cloud of moisture into the equation, the grime becomes even more mobile and sticks to every exposed part of your body as you walk outside. Standing on a subway platform on days like this is somewhat akin to standing inside a flatulent rectum. Youngsters will clandestinely open up fire hydrants so that they can cool themselves off in the spray, which is nice for them and all, but results in a river of sludge running along the sidewalks and often running over your sandal-clad foot, which is great, if you've always been keen to amputate below the ankle but never had a reason why.

Now, I imagine that both sexes suffer mightily in this type of unpleasant environment. Today, though, I want to address a uniquely male issue: ball stickage.

In high heat and humidity, one's scrotum can sometimes become affixed to one's thigh. It makes for very awkward walking. So what's a man to do? I suppose he could continuously pull his nuts away from his leg with his hands, but this is not socially acceptable. That's why the scientists in the Hairshirt Labs have been working overtime to come up with better solutions, such as:
  • Have your testicles laminated.
  • At night, store your scrotum in the freezer and it will stay cool to the touch all day.
  • Keep your thighs greased up with vaseline, so that your nuts can find nothing on which to stick.
  • Wear your testicles outside of your pants.
  • Continually picture yourself fucking Rosie O'Donnell; if your nuts have retreated up into your body cavity, they aren't going to stick to your leg.
  • Hire a servant to de-stick your nuts for you.
  • Testicular airbags.
  • Switch back to tighty-whities. This will, of course, involve making sure that your whities stay tighty and don't get all stretched out and grey, allowing your sac the freedom to move about.
  • Tie a string to your balls, then just give a light tug whenever they're stuck.
  • There's always castration.
For any ladies who find this information disgusting and/or superfluous, my apologies. I figured it was either write about sweaty balls or write about Michael Jackson, and I've gotta say, I find sweaty balls a whole lot more pleasant.

Monday, June 13, 2005


A Star Is Born

When writing about friends on this blog, I've never set a hard, fast rule about mentioning names. Many bloggers believe it's rude to mention people's names when they don't have a say in the matter. My esteemed friend over at Izzlepfaff shortens all names to the first letter (e.g., "The wife and I went with our friends O and T to see a happy little abortion of a movie called The Longest Yard.") This works on Izzlepfaff, because my friend S is the kind of dryly witty guy who can pull it off without sounding overly precious. For me, it doesn't work as well.

I've mostly gotten around this by not writing much about my friends; referring to them, when I did write about them, simply as "my friends".

Today, though, I have something to write about for which the no-name rule simply will not do. Hopefully, my friends can forgive the direct mention of their names.

Two of my good, good friends had a son yesterday and I just wanted to say congratulations.

For any readers who don't know Gene and Marcea, you should be aware that the merging of their DNA has undoubtedly produced a tiny genius with a brilliant sense of humor and a friendly, outgoing nature. This is going to be a kid who will take over the world--but in a good way.

And so, Gene and Marcea, congratulations to you both and welcome to young Oscar Wolfgang. The Mrs. and I wish you guys so very much happiness and we send our love.


Amsterdamned Redux

I wrote a few months ago about the trip my wife and I took to Amsterdam last summer. I wrote a bit about the flyer for the Christian Youth Hostel where we stayed. Thanks to great leaps forward in technology, I have now scanned--wait, I should clarify here--my wife has now scanned the front of this flyer and I present it here to you. Please take a moment to read the previous post and then take a look at the flyer. I believe, if you look above the W in "Welcome", you'll see what I'm talking about.

Those Christians have a weird sense of...well, I don't know if I'd call it humor or what, but man. They're weird.

Flyer for The Shelter Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Dog Science

The Scientist at Work Posted by Hello

We have a couple of dogs. Our older dog, Ben, is a very dignified, steadfast, Gary Cooper-in-canine-form type of guy. Our younger dog, Mortimer, is not. He's a baby. He's coming up on three years old, but he's still a baby. He gets very insecure, he's unabashedly playful and he wears a diaper.

That last part isn't true. He's actually got fantastic bladder control.

Mortimer is, in most respects, a normal dog. The thing that sets him apart is his research in cloning.

Mortimer is generally quite law-abiding. He poops at the curb and makes sure that it's picked up. He's got all of his shots and is licensed with the city of New York. He doesn't drink or do drugs. But Mortimer feels that the puritanical stance our nation's leaders have taken on cloning is just wrong and he refuses to be constrained by laws he feels are detrimental to dogkind.

And so he's been working for the last year and a half to clone himself.

To set at ease the minds of any Hairshirt readers who may be vehemently pro-life and who would have qualms about the use of embryonic stem cells in cloning, I should say that Mortimer has taken a radical approach; one which doesn't involve the use of artificially inseminated eggs or any sort of Franken-adjective gene manipulation. He's taken a more holistic approach to cloning.

He's been working doggedly--if one can pardon the use of a pun--to insert as much of his DNA as possible into a dog blanket. He does this by chewing on the blanket for hours at a time, soaking it with his saliva. The blanket has very little resemblance any more to it's original shape, which Mortimer takes as a sign of success.

Mortimer's plan is to fill the blanket with his DNA via the saliva and then find a way to activate the genes and bring the blanket to life. This is where I find the flaw in his reasoning. Mortimer has, on occasion, tried humping the blanket. This leads me to believe that he thinks intercourse with the blanket will provide the genetic spark necessary to create life. Sadly, Mortimer has no testicles. I see a lesson for all scientists in this, canine and otherwise: a scientist who is not self-aware (at least self-aware enough to know when he's got no nuts) is doomed to failure.

Whether he ultimately succeeds or fails, though, I really have to admire the originality of Mortimer's thinking. I look forward to the publication of his findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, which has agreed to look at his completed work next spring.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Tom Cruise Is Absolutely Fucking Crazy

Dear God in heaven, Tom Cruise is a fucking wacko. I don't know if he's recently gotten off on a really intense month-long cocaine binge or if he's reached the next level of Scientology, in which the alien masters come down and scramble your fucking brain or if he's just gotten to that Mel Gibson circa 2004 stage of a huge movie star's life in which he's grown tired of being such a humongous celebrity and wants to up his freak quotient so that all the fame will just go away.

Whatever the reason, Cruise is continuing his meltdown with an interview in this week's Entertainment Weekly in which, I suppose, he's trying to explain his behavior. Actually, he sounds remarkably like George W. Bush defending his Iraq policy. "Everything is wonderful because I say everything is wonderful!"

The interviewer asks Cruise about the massive amount of publicity he seems to be seeking for his relationship with lil' Katie Holmes, to which Cruise responds, "I think it's important in life to celebrate these things. You know, I'm just happy. I can't contain myself. And I'm not going to try. I refuse." I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say unto Tom, dude, you can be as happy as you fucking want to be, just don't parade across a thousand interviews proclaiming how awesome your new lover is if you don't want people to make fun of you.

Cruise is so very, very happy, in fact, that he even finds some kind words to say to people who remain skeptical about the whole TomKat thing. Sayeth the Cruise, "They're like the bullies you grow up with in school. But you know what? If they don't like it, fuck them. If people don't like it, fuck off." Truly an eloquent defense of the veracity of his coupling.

He says that Katie "digs" Scientology. Yes, I'm sure she's just fucking ga-ga over this groovy religion that everyone who becomes involved with you has to join, Tom. I mean, who wouldn't dig a hip chunk of spirituality dreamed up by a third-rate science-fiction writer? How could she not just be completely into a cult that equates psychiatry with the Nazis?

This is what I'm thinking here: if Stepfordology--sorry, Nazi-esque Freudian slip there--if Scientology tells us that we come from aliens and that, someday, the aliens will come back for us (and, I've got to admit, I've done practically no research into it, so I've got no fucking clue if that's what they believe or not; let's just say for the sake of my snideness that that's what they believe) if they say the aliens are coming, then I hope to fucking hell they get here soon and haul Cruise's ass away. And hopefully they'll have room on their spaceship for John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Jason Lee and any other stupid actor who's so fucking insecure that they have to pay to have their religion tell them how great they are.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Hunk-a, Hunk-a Burning Lung

I have been coughing for five fucking days. I don't mean that I've coughed a few times a day for that timespan, I mean I've been hacking my fucking lungs up, morning, noon and night for coming up on a week. It's gotten bad enough that I'm actually going to see a doctor tomorrow. It takes a lot to get me to the doctor, like a toe falling off or something.

The worst part, other than tremendous guilt over the strong possibility that I was keeping my wife awake--she gave me comfort by saying, "Honey, it's nothing compared to your fucking snoring"--is that I've got friends in town tonight performing a show and I'm worried that I'm going to be the loud coughing asshole in the audience who fucks up everyone's timing.

Also the worst part is that trying to teach junior high kids while coughing non-stop has left me with a voice not unlike that of the bastard son of Harvey Fierstein and Selma Diamond.

The other worst part is that I fucking hate coughing. If I was going to be making involuntary noises non-stop, I'd much prefer a mild and temporary case of Tourette's. Or maybe some new malady where I periodically make sounds like I'm orgasming. That'd be fun on the subway.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Grrr-icane Season

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is once again upon us, kicked into high gear by what's now being called Tropical Storm Arlene.

Tropical Storm Arlene. Y'know, maybe it's just me, but--and I have to beg forgiveness of anyone who shares this name and might be offended by this--the name Arlene has always sort of struck me as the kind of name that would likely be affixed to someone who dwells in a trailer. There's something just wrong about naming a storm after someone who could have their flimsy metal home destroyed by it. How many people named Charley or Frances or Ivan who lived in Florida last year are doomed to a life of self-loathing for having the same moniker as that force of nature that swept away their Camaro.

This is why I'm thinking that we should scrap the habit of naming these storms after people. Why don't we use curse words instead? I mean, that pretty much sums up how everybody feels about 'em anyway. Plus, that way, nobody'll ever have to call up a relative and say, "Dad? I don't know how to tell you this, but Hurricane Bjorn just killed Bjorn. Huh? No, Bjorn is dead. What? No, not the hurricane, your son. Oh, for--put Mom on!"

I'll even save the National Weather Service the trouble of coming up with good invective for this first season. They've already blown the A's, but what say we start with B?
  • Hurricane Bitchkitty
  • Hurricane Cocksmoker
  • Hurricane Douschebag
  • Hurricane Eat Me
  • Hurricane Fucknut
  • Hurricane Goddammit
  • Hurricane Handjob
  • Hurricane I Can't Fucking Believe This
  • Hurricane Jizz-face
  • Hurricane Kakadoody (one for the kids)
  • Hurricane Labial Wart
  • Hurricane My-Oh-My (avoiding the obvious choice)
  • Hurricane Nutsack
  • Hurricane Offal
  • Hurricane Prick
  • Hurricane Quit This Destruction Shit Already
  • Hurricane Rimjob
  • Hurricane Shitheel
  • Hurricane Twat
  • Hurricane Unbelievable Fucking Twat
  • Hurricane Warthog's Anus
  • Hurricane X-mas (really only offensive to evangelicals)
  • Hurricane You Are Such an Asshole
  • Hurricane Zipper-Mangled Shvantz
Think how cathartic it would be for people to truly vent their spleen on these storms which inflict such damage. I think this could work.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Hairshirt Summer Horoscope

Summer's here, and Hairshirt readers are no doubt wondering what the season holds for them. Well wonder no more!

Aries: Your job as a lifeguard will not be quite as successful as you'd hoped it would in getting you laid. Either you're going to need to change your standards or you're going to need to get a position at a pool that's
not in a senior center.

Taurus: Tragedy will strike this summer when you are crushed to death by your 50,000-page copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Gemini: Don't listen to your friends who "warn" you about the dangers of over-tanning. First off, skin cancer is the wimpiest kind of cancer. Second, so many guys love a woman who looks like a leather wallet. You'll remind them of money. Go soak up the rays!

Cancer: Although you vow to use this summer's post-break-up vacation to Greece to sow some wild oats you never got to over the eight years you were in your relationship, you and I both know you're going to end up drinking lots of really crappy ouzo and learning how to play Greek Scrabble.

Leo: This summer, you will make good on your vow to spend as much time as possible at the beach. You won't do quite as well on your vow to look really good in your Tom Selleck Signature Line Speedo.

Virgo: You are ecstatic that the summer movie blockbuster season is upon us. Sadly, every single movie about which you are excited will end up sucking. Except Herbie: Fully Loaded, which will stun the industry by taking the Best Picture Oscar next February.

Libra: Once again, you will fully intend to take advantage of the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available during the summer months by trying healthy and exciting new recipes. Once again, you'll mostly just order Little Ceaser's and have monthly "clean the rotting fruit and vegetables out of my fridge" parties.

Scorpio: A "summer fling" would do you wonders. Unfortunately, whenever you try that, it ends up turning into "whoring around".

Sagittarius: You will exercise each and every day this summer. This is assuming that you consider masturbation as "exercise".

Capricorn: To save some money on your summer vacation this year, you will skip the trip abroad and, instead, expose your family to the wonders of the American Heartland. Good call. What family doesn't like eating in an endless series of Stuckey's?

Aquarius: Sadly, a tragic Lawn Darts accident will leave you in a coma from June 18th through the first week of October, so you will completely miss the summer. Don't worry, though, the Lawn Darts would have been the high point of your summer anyway.

Pisces: Now that the warm weather is here again, you're really looking forward to getting your grill our for some blue ribbon barbecue. Just make sure you clean out the dead rats before you fire that puppy up.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Well Shit

Anne Bancroft died last night.

Bancroft was such a wonderful, funny actress. Aside from The Graduate, which alone would earn her a spot in the annals of film history, she did fantastic--never showy--work in Agnes of God, To Be or Not to Be, Home for the Holidays, Keeping the Faith and any number of other movies which I haven't seen but in which I'm certain she was brilliant.

She and her husband Mel Brooks did a scene in the most recent season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm in which they re-did, almost line for line, a scene from The Producers. The idea is a little shaky, but they made it work so fucking well; when I watched it, I actually peed a little.

Anne Bancroft shouldn't die. Why the hell couldn't Melanie Griffith kick it instead?

Aw, shit.


Love, Exciting and New

I don't know about you, but I can just never get enough of celebrity journalism. I was glued to my television all day yesterday, waiting with baited breath for updates on the Russell Crowe situation. That poor, misunderstood man. When will hotel clerks just leave him and his phone alone? I'm also going to be taping the PrimeTime Live event tonight wherein hard-hitting reporter Diane Sawyer will ask the tough questions of Uber-Star Brad Pitt. I was sort of wavering on whether or not to watch this one, but then ABC's ads convinced me: "Brad Pitt. Diane Sawyer. Diane Sawyer. Brad Pitt. The television event that will make you ejaculate, guaranteed."

But no ongoing celebrity story has entranced me like the fairytale romance between beautiful, perky ingenue Katie Holmes and Acting God Tom Cruise. For years, Cruise has used his chameleon-like ability to immerse himself into every character he plays to plumb the depths of American males (and the occasional gay vampire). He's also used the bully pulpit of press junkets to promote his chosen faith, Scientology, which I've recently found out is a religion and not a cult, as some naysayers claim. Like the rest of the world, I've watched as he was seduced and used by Mimi Rogers, romanced and used by Nicole Kidman, spoken to in broken English and used by Penelope Cruz. Somehow, all along, I knew that none of them were truly right for Tom. Most of the relationships just felt...forced. None of them felt like the genuine article. Sure, Tom looked good with all of them. Sure, there were adopted kids and beach vacations. But things just didn't click in a way that would completely dispel the gay rumors.

Well, those rumors should be a thing of the past now that Tom has finally found his soul-mate. Taking a cue from his friend Michael Douglas and hooking up with a girl who was still sperm and eggs when he was old enough to drink legally, Tom has at last made a true love connection. And it shows. Oh, how it shows. From his head-over-heels interview with Oprah to her adoption of Scientology, all signs are that this love is forever. You can tell. It's in the way they hold hands in front of the media. It's in the way their publicists deny that the whole things is a cynical attempt to get press coverage when they both have films opening. To all the people who say that Cruise's Scientology overlords simply picked Holmes out of a starlet catalogue and cut and pasted her into his life, I offer the following proof that this one's going to last.
  • Holmes has gotten rid of all of her non-Scientologist friends and is apparently surrounded by Scientologists at all times. What better way to display your love than to immerse yourself in your lover's culture.
  • Which is why she's also moved Battlefield Earth to the top of her Netflix queue.
  • The couple is planning to wed immediately, as Cruise has said that every second that they're not completely bonded together is a second during which he's capable of taking a life.
  • Cruise told NBC's Katie Curic that he and Holmes are considering dual heart transplants, putting his heart in her body and vice versa. "That's how real our love is, Katie. Hey! You're name is Katie, too! That makes me think even more about my soul-mate! You should change your last name to Holmes, then you'd be almost perfect!" He then went on to do ten minutes of back-flips and cartwheels before making out with a picture of Holmes for an hour.
  • Cruise's agent has said that his client will now star only in movies in which Holmes also appears, because the torture of being on location without her would be too soul-shattering. Additionally, Cruise is paying to have all of his previous work altered, digitally inserting Holmes into all of his movies. Reached for comment, Dustin Hoffman said, "Well, I'm sure Katie will be a much better Rain Man than I was."
  • Holmes and Cruise have decided to combine their names upon their marriage to truly express their unity. After the wedding, the two will be known as Tom and Katie Crulmesuise.
I'm telling you: This is it. This one's going to last.

Monday, June 06, 2005


First Annual Hairshirt Tony Award Round-Up

No, I'm just kidding. I'm not really going to waste a whole bunch of space on something that lame. Although, it was interesting to see exactly how much flop-sweat Hugh Jackman could produce in one evening. And, I must say, Billy Crystal does one of the best pouty-baby whines I've ever seen. "It's not a special event, it's a sho-ow. Wah! Wah! Why couldn't you have nominated my director? Wah! Wah! I'm the most popular show among old people since Matlock Live!"

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Three Thousand's a Crowd

My wife and I went to see an art show today. It's called Ashes and Snow and, in New York, the form it's taken is a temporary pavilion built onto a pier. Inside the pavilion, dozens of lovely photographs are suspended, frameless, and beautifully lit down the length of the building, at the end of which a film by the photographer, Gregory Colbert, plays on a loop. The soothing, meditative soundtrack fills the whole of the exhibit, which should give the viewer a wonderful atmosphere in which to contemplate the pictures.

I say, it should give the viewer a wonderful blah blah blah. Today, it very much did not.

This is because the exhibit closes this weekend, which made it the perfect time for my wife and I to go see it.

The exhibit opened at noon. We got there at about 11:40 and took a few minutes to figure out in which huge line we belonged. Because we already had our tickets, you see, as my wife had the foresight to purchase tickets on-line and print them using the very last of our colored ink cartridge, which now sits in the printer, pathetically spitting out the occasional micro-dot of red or yellow. Our pre-printed tickets got us out of standing in the huge ticket line, for saps who just showed up hoping for the best. They also allowed us to skip the will-call line for people who'd done enough planning to ask for tickets, but were too stupid to print up their own. They did not, however, spare us the torture of the third line, the longest of all.

This was a line the likes of which one might have seen for shoes in the bleakest days of the Soviet Union. This was a line to rival the masses trying to get out of Saigon in the final days of the Vietnam War. This was a line comparable to the great New Kids of the Block Richfield Coliseum show of 1990. Not--ahem--that I was there for that. To speak plainly, the line was fucking huge.

So we waited in this line, snickering at those poor dimwits who got there even later than us and showering with contempt the idiots who were confused about what the hell this line was for. We waited, we made long-distance calls, we played charades with housewives from Jersey, we tanned.

Eventually, the line led us to the exhibit itself, which, to tell the truth, I'd completely forgotten, having become so completely immersed in the Line Community that I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd been told that I'd been waiting for the first showing of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. We went into the building to see the exhibit that I've described above. The difference between the show as it was meant to be and the show as I experienced it was made by the massive, crushing mob of people in front of us and behind us.

Instead of viewing a picture, taking it in and letting it's meaning sink in, we were forced through the exhibit at one uniform crowd pace, moving when the crowd allowed us to. I kept expecting an abattoir worker to pop up in front of me and use a slaughterhouse stunner to punch a hole into my skull. Down the length of the pier we were marched, occasionally moving around mothers having a hard time with their bored and hyper children, until the crowd grew denser, like Wonderbread squeezed by a child's fist.

(You know...'cause if you squeeze Wonderbread, it gets all dense? No? Fine. I don't know why the hell I waste my time on similes for you people.)

Anyway, the crowd was being compacted because they had reached the end and wanted to stand there and watch the movie I mentioned earlier. (No, not The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.) The problem was, that all of the people who'd been marching down the length of the pier also wanted to watch the movie, which meant that things just kept getting more and more crowded, until I began to feel like a thin slice of potato in a frittata. (Right. Sorry. No more similes.)

All in all, it was probably the worst art experience I've had since the Ass-Painting Retrospective I saw last year at the Whitney. Beautiful pieces, but the crowd made the experience something akin to the sheep-herding they do past the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. And this stuff, while good, wasn't the goddamn Mona Lisa.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Fucking Funny

Funny story about Flaming Box of Stuff. A few years ago, the kids from FBoS and I were on a bus together. I won't say where the bus was headed, but suffice it to say that things were getting a little wild. The driver, just some poor random Greyhound employee who got the short end of the passenger stick, had already told Val Bush to put her shirt back on a good half dozen times. Troy Fischnaller and poor little Evan Mosher had just dropped some peyote buttons and were reading an old issue of Shazam! from the '70s. They started running up and down the aisles yelling Captain Marvel's magic word over and over hoping to change into superheroes, as they'd become convinced that an old guy sitting by the bathroom was, in fact, Dr. Sivana. Kirk Anderson was passed out in a puddle of his own sick. Dusty Warren was actually riding on top of the bus, tossing his empties at passing semis. Only Corey Nealy had maintained any sense of decorum. He merely sat in seat 21C, sipping from his brandy snifter.

All of a sudden, a bright light lit the bus up from stem to stern--or whatever the hell the bus equivalents of stem and stern are. The driver shouted in alarm, as he found himself unable to move the bus forward. The door opened, against the panicked driver's will. Two tall, thin figures stepped onto the bus, clothed in shimmering silver robes, their large, dark, eyes looking more through us than at us.

The taller and gayer of the two lisped, "Greetings, earthlings. We come from planet Gopijasdfasfpoin. And
Gopijasdfasfpoin needs comics."

I, of course, was not scared for my personal safety, as I'm not very funny. But I shed a tear or two that these
Gopijasdfasfpoinans might take Flaming Box of Stuff away from us forever. The shorter, butcher alien spoke up. "It is no use resisting, for our comedy rays will force any of you who know comedy to perform it." With that, he pulled a mean-looking gun from his pocket and shot it at the crowd. In jerky, almost-the-Robot sort of movements, the members of FBoS found themselves pulled forward. They stood at the front of the bus now, right under the watch of the aliens.

The taller one minced, "My funny-o-meter shows that you are a hilarious group. Perform, earth-monkeys! Perform! Especially if you have any material about relationships."

Val, Kirk and Corey stepped up. It looked like they were going to do the sketch about the flatulent hooker. Then Val threw up on Kirk, who took a swing at Corey. Dusty leaned in the window and started pelting the aliens with beer cans. The butch alien said, "Aw, shit. They're too hammered to perform. Fuck this." And they left.

Fortunately, Flaming Box of Stuff will not be too hammered to perform one week from tomorrow at 9:00 at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater as part of the New York Sketch Comedy Festival. If you're only going to see one group, you best make it these guys, as they are quite simply brilliant. And mad. I've just bought my tickets. You can too, just follow the link.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Playing the opening chords of "Aqualung" on the rubber band guitar you carry in your backpack is not a way to impress a first date.

Taurus: You are saddened and depressed this week when you find out that a Google search for "talentless assbag" contains no fewer than 3500 links to you.

Gemini: This is your week for new love. New, obsessive, smothering, Tom Cruise-ian love. Good luck with that.

Cancer: Despite your loud assertions to the contrary, you are not really Batman. You are a geek at a comic book convention. Now shut up and go stand in line to have Rob Liefeld sign your mint-condition Hawk and Dove #1.

Leo: Just because Danica Patrick didn't win the Indy 500 this weekend, you do not, as you informed your officemates this morning, "have a much better shot at nailing her because she's going to be all emotional and shit and then I'll swoop in like all 'I'm here for you.'"

Virgo: Despite your new diet regimen, you ass remains so flabby that not even Christian Slater would grab it.

Libra: You just don't get the appeal of Laugh-In.

Scorpio: Your small-business loan comes through this week, meaning that Wally's Fashions for the Large-Testicled Man is one step closer to opening its doors. Mazel tov!

Sagittarius: Health issues come to the fore for you, Sagittarius, and you might want to reconsider using a plastic surgeon who thinks it's a good idea to transplant your ball hair onto your scalp.

Capricorn: You seriously need to follow a recipe, because pouring ketchup and peanut butter onto a plate of undercooked linguini does not make for an acceptable Pad Thai.

Aquarius: An old lover comes to town this week, Aquarius. He blows in from the West like a desert storm, plunging your neatly ordered little world into chaos, making you question every choice you've ever made, before disappearing just as quickly, leaving nothing behind but some empty malt liquor bottles and a used condom in the sink. Next time, you should probably tell him you're going to be out of town.

Pisces: You're deeply hurt when, after comparing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay to Soviet-era gulags, an Amnesty International report then goes on to compare your breath to a moldering peach that's been stored in someone's ass.