Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You're very grateful today for President Bush's reassuring words about the war in Iraq. For awhile, you were starting to worry that we were pissing young American lives away for no clear reason. Thank God he set us all straight on that.

Taurus: This week, you feel a bit underappreciated. These feelings are perfectly valid. This doesn't, however, mean that you should stand on your chair at work screeching, "What about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!?"

Gemini: There are better ways to impress people than by doing your Fonzie impression.

Cancer: This week, you engage in wholesome wintertime activities with your family. Things like getting drunk and pissing your name in the snow. They're lucky to have a mother like you.

Leo: Leaving your socks on during sex is not hot.

Virgo: This week, you nearly come to blows with your significant other while decorating your Christmas tree. Don't worry, the emergency room nurses have removed keepsake ornaments from people's asses before, so you should come through it okay.

Libra: You should focus on the positive this week. For example, the horrendous winter cold you're suffering through means you can't smell that vomitty drunk on the bus. Lemons into lemonade, Libra.

Scorpio: The Transportation Safety Administration's decision to allow sharp objects on planes again means you can resume your old habit of dressing like Edward Scissorhands on transcontinental flights. Huzzah!

Sagittarius: "O' Holy Night" is a beautiful song. When sung by anyone else but you.

Capricorn: You should probably refrain from asking the clerk at Victoria's Secret which wonderbra would look best on your blow-up doll.

Aquarius: Mmmmm. Soup.

You prove your harshest critics wrong by finding your own asshole with a map this week. Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Little Shop of Horrors

About to dash off to a rehearsal for an incredibly funny show, but I wanted to take a couple minutes to comment on an experience I had this weekend. Seeing as how it's the holiday season, when shopping is required even of those who have little/no love of the activity, I set forth with my wife on Sunday afternoon to see if we could cross some people off of our list.

The problem with many female shoppers is that they lack the sort of laser beam intensity that most men have. It's more of a holistic experience with most women. And so I knew before leaving the house that I would be visiting a lot more stores than I wished to, because a clever display would light my wife's imagination and lure her inside in the hopes of unexpectedly finding the perfect gift.

This is how I ended up in Anthropologie.

Ye Gods, this is not a store for me. Or any man whose testicles are still in tact. Wall to wall with overly precious, gilded-beyond-repair gewgaws marked up to 500% of their actual value. They carry things which should be practical, like mugs, but which are rendered, through some shabbychicification process into something meant to be sat on a shelf and looked at instead of filled with coffee.

They've got a whole section of cutesy handles to replace the plain, workaday knobs that now adorn one's chest of drawers. Seriously, who the fuck cares that much about handles?

But it's a store filled to the brim with useless shit like that. I found myself going a little crazy wondering why in the name of sweet crispy-fried Christ anyone would want any of this stuff. I wasn't alone. Strewn about the store were other men who'd been dragged in there, sitting, shell-shocked on the various pillow-saturated chairs strategically located around the place. All of them were silently mouthing, "Why? Why do I have to be here?" And I knew how they felt.

Only 26 more shopping days until Christmas.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Harry Potter and the Shitty Trailers

So my wife and I went to see the latest Harry Potter flick this weekend. I was severely let down. Not so much by the film itself, although I'd rate it a distant second behind Alfonso Cuaron's excellent Prisoner of Azkaban.

No, what truly had me lamenting the state of contemporary American cinema were the trailers I had to sit through for some excruciatingly bad computer-animated kids' movies. Do you remember a long time ago, when Pixar was the only company doing computer animation? When every one of their films was made with care and style? Yeah, that's not happening anymore.

To a one, these movies featured lame-ass celebrities giving voice to the exact same group of "quirky" characters and copious fart jokes. Buzz Lightyear must be vomiting in his grave. Here's a list of these upcoming releases:
  • Johns -- Kelsey Grammer and Hank Azaria give voice to two toilets who suddenly gain sentience and learn to work together to escape from their home in a subway bathroom. Cloris Leachman costars as a wizened French bidet.
  • The McNuggets' Christmas Carol -- Those delightful pieces of processed "chicken" we've loved in commercials for years finally get the feature-length treatment as they struggle to show a grizzled McDonald's manager (voiced by Tommy Lee Jones) the error of his ways during the holiday season.
  • Over the Hedge -- Bruce Willis stars as a raccoon who teaches other animals to eat garbage.
  • Big Dogz -- Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz bring their unmatched chemistry to this story of a flatulent Great Dane and his narcoleptic Newfoundland pal who find themselves returning a baby grey wolf to the wild.
  • Charlotte's Web -- E.B. White's beloved tale gets an update. In this reimagining, Wilbur is a punk-rock vegetarian porker and Charlotte is an amish single mother, which should help today's youths relate a little bit better.
  • The Return of the Banana Splits -- Hanna-Barberra's classic clownsters are back, only this time, it's not a bunch of guys in oversized mascot outfits. Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork team up to track down Snork's long-lost father.
The really sad part of this? One of those movies is real. Sweet merciful Christ.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Youth on the Brink

I've written before--a couple of times, in fact--about my friends in Baltimore and the fact that they just had themselves a baby this year. This weekend, my wife and I, along with another good friend of ours who did knows all of us from our days in Seattle, drove down to Poe Town for Thanksgiving.

A good time was had by all. Memories were shared; much wine was drunk and we established definitively how old and sad we are by going to bed just astoundingly early.

But I'm not writing this because I want to share with the world how kinda pathetic I am. I think I do that enough. This morning, I want to express my concern about our friends' five-month-old son.

First of all,
I'm worried that he may be a little too concerned with his weight. Now, I realize that these days, too many babies have just let themselves go. They find excuses not to exercise and they just sit there in their own filth while the fat cells multiply. Not so with this little guy. Maybe it's because he likes to spend so much time on his feet, or possibly all the jazzericizing he does. It's fine to watch your waist and all, but I saw him binging and purging several times during our stay. And that concerns me.

He also seems to have some odd spiritual beliefs. They seem to center on worship of a plastic dancing monkey that stands atop an "activity center"--read: shrine--that plays music. I watched in shock as the monkey shook himself in various rhythmic contortions and our friends' son matched him, move for move, possibly his way of saying, "Yes, my monkey lord! I hear you and obey!"

Then there's the type of television he chooses to watch. He's addicted to a program called Baby Einstein. It seems to consist mostly of music and random animated shapes moving all over the place. Sure, the production values are high, but what is this going to do to the child's appreciation of narrative form? There's no story-line on this program. There's no character development. How is the kid supposed to learn the elements of dramatic structure?

Also, I'm a bit concerned that all this attention being focused on the child is going to make him into something of a narcissist. All weekend, everyone was taking pictures of him and telling him how cute he was and cleaning him up when he spit all over himself. I have to say that nobody was doing as much for me when I vomited wine down my shirt. No, then, instead of, "Uh-oh. Time for a baby wipe!" it was all, "Oh, you're a pathetic drunkard." Whatever.

The point here is that someone needs to get this kid to straighten up and fly right. 'Cause life's a bumpy flight.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Hey, Thanks

So today is the day when we're meant to take a look at our lives and be thankful for everything we have. I, for one, find it difficult at times to get my brain working in enough of an up-with-people, rainbows and lollipops fashion to find anything positive for which I can express gratitude. Which always leads me to be thankful that, although everything sucks, it doesn't suck quite as hard as if maybe could. So here's my list of what I'm thankful for this year:
  • I'm thankful that Bush can't run for a third term and that it looks like he's fucking things up so bad that all the morons who were scared into voting for him last year will see the light come midterm election time. Of course, I thought it was painfully obvious what a retard he was the last time, so I'm not holding out much hope for that one.
  • I'm thankful for the kids I teach. Yes, they curse at me and hit each other and don't do work and have grammar so bad it makes me wake up screaming. But they're not armed. So there's that.
  • I'm thankful that we live in a free society where the government doesn't force me to go see Rent. Bringing back the original cast ten years later to play characters in their twenties? Genius! Sheer genius!
  • I'm thankful for pie.
  • I'm thankful that I don't work in an industry where the jobs will have been totally shipped overseas within the next five years. I think there are maybe two industries left in America where that's the case.
  • I'm thankful that I'm just fat and flabby instead of morbidly obese. 'Cause I'd hate to have to pay someone to clean between my fat rolls.
  • I'm thankful for the high quality of American television programming.
  • But mostly, I'm thankful for irony.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Hairshirt Thanksgiving Horoscope

Aries: This year, as you're snoring on the couch in a tryptophan-induced slumber, your family will pack you up and ship you to Khazakstan, where there's a lucrative market in sex slaves.

Taurus: The Spider-Man balloon in the Macy's parade is not beaming your thoughts to the CIA. The Underdog balloon might be, though.

Gemini: Your attempt to bolster the meal's nutritional value by substituting your Chick Pea, Root Vegetable and Bulghar Gratin for the traditional mashed potatoes is met with universal disdain.

Cancer: Perhaps forty-two is a good age to stop singing "Over the River and Through the Woods" as you drive to your family's celebration.

Leo: Your single-guy Thanksgiving meal seems slightly less depressing when you get the idea to put some cranberry sauce in your tuna salad.

An erotic dance in celebration of Dionysus is perhaps not the proper way to welcome your guests at the door.

Libra: To get into the spirit of the holiday, why not use a turkey feather for your post-meal purge?

Scorpio: While there are many families who engage in traditional touch football games on Thanksgiving, your annual Front Lawn Knife Fight is a little more outside of the mainstream than you might realize.

Sagittarius: You should probably resist the urge to stand up at the table and yell, "Ambrosia salad is made from PEOPLE!"

The Turkey Ala King in the prison cafeteria helps make this the best Thanksgiving you've had since you attempted to kidnap Geraldo Rivera.

Aquarius: You've been looking forward all year to the Day After Thanksgiving sales. You're such a dipshit.

Pisces: You really get into the spirit of the holiday this year by smoking pumpkin-flavored crack.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005



All right, so tonight I have to write a Theater Arts test for my seventh graders, wash smears of cat crap off of my dog, bake a pecan pie, fix dinner and be at a rehearsal for my show by seven thirty. Which leaves me practically no time to write anything.

This is why I'm taking this opportunity to plug the above-mentioned show. In case you missed the last time I talked about this, let me bring you up to speed: I have a play (if you can call it that) opening in both Seattle and New York early next month. It's a satirical look at Christmas-themed plays and it brings the funny in a big, big way.

The Seattle production, being put on by my good friends at Open Circle Theater, opens in a little less than a week. They're calling it 'Twas a Night of Shitty Theater. The director is a good friend of mine, as are many of the very, very funny people in the cast. If you happen to live in the Seattle area (or, to be honest, anywhere on the West Coast), you need to see this show. It will change your mind not only about the state of holiday theatrical events in our country, but also about the nature of the universe.

The New York production, directed by myself and featuring a slightly smaller, but just as phenomenal cast, is called A Shitty Christmas Carol and Other Pieces and we run from December 8th through the 17th, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This show has been proven in laboratory experiments to cure depression, impotence and leprosy, so everyone on the East Coast needs to get here to see it. Really, the only people who have a geographical excuse not to see the show are people who live in Missouri.

So, to sum up: See my fucking show. And enjoy the holiday season.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Terror at Things Remembered

A couple of days ago, I wrote a bit about how useful crazy people could be if we just had the foresight to take advantage of their natural tendency to be fucking crazy. Yesterday, some dipshit in Tacoma, WA proved how completely right I was.

Said dipshit, one Dominick Maldonado, was pissed off at the world. He was full of anger and rage. He felt out of control of his emotions and ready to take his hostilities out on someone.

So he went to the mall.

Dom, you'll pardon my asking: what the hell kind of retard are you? The mall? That's the limit of your imagination? What could possibly be the reason for wasting a perfectly good murderous shooting spree on a fucking mall? Were you at some point in your life fired from Wicks-n-Sticks? B. Dalton Bookseller was out of The DaVinci Code? Orange Julius gave you brain freeze?

And, before he went and shot up Spencer's Gifts or wherever, Dom sent a text message to his old girlfriend, in which he wrote, "The world is going to feel my anger, feel my pain. Today, I'm going to be heard." Yes, asshole, you're going to be heard by the clerk at Bath & Body Works. The world? The world could give a shit. Especially since you're such a lousy shot that you didn't kill anybody.

What the hell makes these "shooting spree" assholes think that this is a good way to express themselves? Perhaps they should try haiku instead. Then again, haiku in the wrong hands can be just as deadly. One need only think of the horrific "Open Mike Massacre" three years ago in Berkeley. Those poor coffee-drinkers never knew what hit them.

I will say once again that this could have been avoided if Maldonado had been part of an All-Crazy Army. His crazy drill sergeant could have taught him to take his anger at his ex-girlfriend and the rest of the civilized world and direct it at a suicide bomber. When, oh when, will the powers that be listen to my ideas? How many more Hot Topics must be filled with bullet holes before they come to their senses?

Sunday, November 20, 2005


The Gentleman from Iowa Can Go Fuck Himself

Holy shit. Laying in bed this morning when my radio went off and Weekend Edition came on. They played a clip of a bunch of people yelling and screaming. I figured maybe it was a scene from Peter Jackson's new Kong flick. Then I was thinking perhaps it was a hostage stand-off gone horribly, horribly wrong. But no.

No, it was, in point of fact, the House of Representatives. It was a bunch of members of congress yelling at the person at the mike. It was the Speaker of the House banging on his gavel and very nearly having to fire his gun in the air to keep the rowdy crowd under control. It was awesome.

This is not the congress I'm used to. There wasn't a whole lot of "I must disagree with the gentlewoman from Missouri as to her position on the bill at hand." It was more like Jerry Springer, just instead of arguing over whether Kaylee slept with Jethro before or after she got married to Billy Bob, they were talking about the war.

For years, I've thought it was odd that the House of Commons always sounded so much more passionate than anything you heard on C-SPAN. I mean, c'mon, we're Americans! We've got no self-control. We're twenty times rowdier than a bunch of Britons (soccer hooligans excluded). But Friday, they were giving us the full Smackdown.

And maybe that's a good thing. Maybe Americans would pay more attention to what was going on with the people making our nation's laws if those people oiled up their bodies and hit each other with chairs. Roy Blunt takes the mike: "Lemme tell ya, the Iron Rep is going down Tuesday night. The only bill he's going to pass is the one I shove down his throat." Then Fancy Nancy Pelosi sneaks up and hits him over the head with a chair. Riveting.

I know I'll be tuning in.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


An Army of One and a Half

Like all good Americans, I'm very concerned about the mismanagement of our natural resources. I'm sure you've read the same articles that I have about the need to conserve oil; about deforestation; about how water pollution is endangering our very existence. It worries me.

What worries me even more, though, is what's not being talked about. The Bush administration has ignored one of our most wasted natural resources and the media has been entirely complicit in keeping this problem out of the public eye. I'm talking, of course, about crazy people.

Crazy people are so very, very precious and we as a nation are not taking advantage of them. We are basically just dumping them into a big Lake Erie-size toilet.

I ask you: what have we done with America's once vast supply of crazy people? We've lobotomized them. We've locked them up. We've medicated them into zombie-osity. Why? We need to make better use of what God has given us.

Currently, the United States military is made up largely of kids just out of high school. Some of them are there because they want to serve our country. Some of them are there because they just need money for college. Many of them feel overwhelmed by what they experience and suffer psychological scars that they're going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives. It's so unnecessary.

We've got hundreds of thousands of people who are already crazy! We should have an armed service that's staffed entirely with crazy people. Think of it: soldiers who know no fear. The carnage of war would be a drop in the psychosis bucket for these folks. Remember how effective the misfits and reprobates that made up the Dirty Dozen were? You'd be looking at the Dirty Eighty Thousand. No nation on earth would fuck with us. They'd be all, "Hey, I'm not messing with America. Those fuckers is crazy."

Who are we fighting in Iraq? We're fighting people so out of touch with reality that they think God is going to get them laid for eternity for shoving explosives up their ass and blowing up people who are doing the Bunny Hop at a wedding reception. They're crazy. Fight fire with fire; fight crazy with crazy. A crazy army would have a much better grasp of the way the fundamentalist mind works. The insurgency would be over in a matter of weeks, I'm telling you.

The All-Crazy Army is the wave of the future. I'm calling on George W. Bush to make a bold choice to ensure our nation's security by making that first splash. He'd be crazy not to.

Friday, November 18, 2005



I just watched the teaser trailer for Superman Returns.

I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl. Just hearing that John Williams score gives me little tiny chills. Tee-hee!

I loved the first two Supes movies. I remember going to see them in the theater when I was a kid. My dad got so excited when Superman catches the helicopter he actually cheered. Christopher Reeves was such an underrated actor. He gave us a Superman who was having a blast with his powers. Gene Hackman is without peer playing movie villains. And then there's Can You Read My Mind?.

It's not just cheesy. It takes cheese to whole new levels. It's a soul-enriching fondue.

"Here I am, like a kid out of school. Holding hands with a god. I'm a fool. Look at me, quivering; like a little girl, shivering. You can see right through me." Oh my god. It's sublime.

I worked at a comic book shop my last year in college. They had a television on the wall on which we'd play movies, especially on slow days. I used to pop in Superman and rewind five and six times to play Can You Read My Mind? over and over again, to drive my boss nuts. I love the sequence so much that I sat down and transcribed the whole scene word for word and put it into a sketch show. I changed the character to Lewis Lane just so that I could get to recite those lyrics in front of an audience.

Now, I'm not saying that I want the new movie to be cheesy. I'm not saying, either, that the entirety of the first movie was cheesy. Actually, I thought it was very well done and enjoyable. I still think so. But that one sequence took the movie on a bizarre and wonderful little side trip.

Margot Kidder, you so crazy.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


He's a Bad Murtha- - (Hush Yo Mouth)

Apparently, there's a Democrat who's grown back his testicles. John Murtha from the Great State of Pennsylvania introduced a bill today calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and he vehemently criticized the administrations policies, stopping just short of calling them a bunch of chickenshit pansy dickwads. I, for one, wish he'd gone that extra tiny step.

Now, I'm not saying that I think pulling all of our troops now is the right thing to do. We've left a steaming pile of insurrection in Iraq and we need to pick it up and clean the carpet before leaving, but we at least need to call the cab. (See, in this analogy, America is a person who was in a friend's house for some reason and got poop on the carpet and has someplace else to be--apparently traveling by taxi, the calling of which would be a metaphor for setting a schedule for withdrawal. Probably, I shouldn't use analogies so weak that they require an explanation twice as long as the sentences in which they appear.)

But at the very least, it's heartening to know that somebody's stood up and raised that middle finger at Bush & friends.

Immediately after Murtha spoke, a clowncar-full of Republicans jumped in front of microphones to drown him out. One guy actually said something along the lines of, "Now is not the time to criticize the war." Really? When, then, would be a good time for you? Maybe we can pencil that in. Perhaps when another 2000 Americans have died? How about when the rest of the world is so completely disgusted with us that they decide they should get together and kick our ass?

This--right now--is the time to criticize. To protest. To shout in the fucking streets that things are fucked up and getting fucked upper. Here's hoping there's a whole shitload of people even more disgusted than me out there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Big Ugly Dick

So now we have Dick Cheney taking up the arythmic drumbeat started on Friday by his boss. Cheney said tonight that people calling the administration on their pre-war manipulation of intelligence are making, "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever[.]" He accuses Democrats who are currently Bush-bashing on the floor of the Senate and elsewhere of being hypocrites and political opportunists.

Okay, well, he's at least partially right. The Dems are fucking weenies. They stood by like Kitty Genovese's neighbors while Bush made hash out of our foreign policy and they're only saying "boo" now because W's incredibly shrinking approval ratings have called olly-olly-oxinfree. But Big Dick and the rest of the croneys aren't pissed at how lame the puss-o-crats are, they're just freaked out about those ratings and want to shut their critics up by suggesting that anybody who doesn't grab their ankles when the White House says so is giving the terrorists aid and comfort.

This shit's gotta stop. We need to find some Democrats who aren't petrified of offending even one potential voter. We need leaders who can call bullshit here. I'm not seeing Hillary or Nancy or Ted anywhere near worked up enough. So fuck them. We need Robert DeNiro to run for the Senate. He's got the tough guy image going for him and you know he doesn't really give a shit what people think of him. He did a movie wherein a cat pooped on someone's ashes. He was in fucking Rocky and Bullwinkle. What does he have to lose?

But wherever the new leadership comes from, they need to pounce on it now, before the public starts losing interest in the war and the lies and the corruption because there's a new season of The Sopranos or something.

Bush and Cheney should not be getting away with saying that it's unpatriotic to criticize them. Then again, they shouldn't have gotten away with saying or doing half of the shit they've done since they took office. The difference, though, is that now there seems to be a decent chance of stopping them. If anyone's got the nards.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope (Brought to you by the National Pie Council)

Aries: A delicious pie could lead you to a very powerful spiritual healing experience, dear Aries.

Taurus: Do you like detective stories, Taurus? If so, you may find them of use today as you attempt to figure out why you haven't been eating more pie lately.

Gemini: A business or romantic partner may seem preoccupied with very serious matters today, Gemini. In fact, they're thinking about how much they'd love a delicious slice of pie.

Cancer: Some rather annoying and extensive paperwork might need to be dealt with today, Cancer. So make sure you take the time to eat your pie in the morning, when it's still fresh.

Leo: A fascinating article in the newspaper could lead you to try your hand at creating your own pie today, Leo. Your mind is perfectly suited to think of new and exciting crumb toppings.

Virgo: An important lost object, perhaps a pie of some kind, could take up the attention of your entire household this morning, Virgo. This may prove exceptionally frustrating at first, because you can still smell how delicious it is.

Libra: Someone in your neighborhood has disappeared, Libra. Their family might take some solace in a really good pie.

Scorpio: You might have some pie to take care of today, Scorpio, which could have a big impact on your financial future.

Sagittarius: The study of pie might be especially appealing to you today, Sagittarius. Some recent developments in this field, which you've heard of through the mass media, have really piqued your interest.

Capricorn: Occult sciences such as alchemy, phrenology and pie could be singing a siren song to you, Capricorn. You like to think of yourself as down to earth and realistic, but everybody loves pie.

Aquarius: A group discussion could lead to heated discussions about famous pies, dear Aquarius. Is apple better with a double crust? How much brown sugar should go into a pumpkin pie? These and other mysteries might capture the interest of everyone present--and lead to some heated debates about possible solutions.

Pisces: A pie could be leaving your place of employment under strange circumstances, Pisces, and this could come as a shock to you. You are quite fond of pie.


Meet the Parents

Oh joy. Oh rapturous fucking joy. It's time again for Parent-Teacher Conferences. Why, that's my favorite day(s) of the year.

Good god, I hate the semi-annual torture session known as Parent-Teacher Conferences. They're especially heinous for a theater teacher. Do you know how few parents give a carmelized rat turd how their kid's doing in theater arts? Let me spell it out for you: precious fucking few.

Mostly, I sit there reading a book until either a teacher whose grades matter sends me a parent whose child is a problem in both of our classes, so that I can back up what the first teacher said, or until one of the four kids who get really excited about my class and talk it up at home drag their mom or dad to my spot in the hallway. (Yes, the hallway. I haven't got a room, you see, so I usually set up a desk right outside the bathrooms.)

I suppose I should be grateful that I don't have dozens of angry parents stomping up to me to find out what the hell I think I'm doing giving their offspring a D- when they're obviously so talented. I should be grateful. But I'm not.

Do you know how very, very, very, very slowly time crawls by when you're sitting there, attempting to look at least somewhat purposeful for when your boss walks by, thinking how much more productive and/or happy you could be if you were anyplace else in the fucking universe and wishing you'd had the foresight to down a couple of beers before you had to be there? It moves really slow. Glacially. We're talking a turtle covered in January molasses.

And this year I get to double my joy, as someone made the brilliant decision to split the conferences between two days. So, now that I've gone through my torturous afternoon, I get to look forward to staying until 8:00 tomorrow night, doing it all over. Hurrah!

I think I might hire a homeless guy to sit in my place. They work cheap, I think, and I really don't think any of my parents are going to know the difference. I'll just make sure he knows how to say "[insert name here] is very smart, but she/he just needs to learn to focus." Or maybe I'll just get hammered before I show up.

Monday, November 14, 2005


The Sales Pitch

I had an encounter this afternoon with what I'm fairly certain is the most incompetent advertiser in the known universe. I've expressed before my incredulity at the fact that there are people who think that they will effectively market to us by annoying the living shit out of us, but today I saw this mindset taken to a truly jaw-dropping extreme.

I need to preface this with a brief explanation of parking in New York. If you're lucky enough to live in a neighborhood--as I do--that usually has on-street parking nearby to your dwelling, you cannot just park your car and forget it. The city government is apparently extremely paranoid about people leaving their broken-down junkers sitting at the curb as they rust away for years at a stretch. To this end, New York employs an armada of street sweepers, huge, obnoxious machines that come by four times a week and move dust and junk around. They don't actually clean anything, but they swirl the shit into exciting new shapes. Twice a week they come down one side of the street and twice a week they come down the other. The upshot of all this is that you have to make sure your car isn't parked on the side they're sweeping for the two hour time-window in which they're scheduled to be on your street.

It's a very complicated system designed to keep a whole lot of Teamsters employed. And so, if you own a car but take public transportation to work, you are obliged to make sure your car is where it needs to be or face a hundred dollar-plus ticket. It's fucking annoying.

It does, I suppose, help to keep you on your toes, as you sometimes have to really scramble to get your car into the space before some thoughtless prick takes it first.

I was in the middle of this harried process today when the incompetent advertiser attempted to work his mojo. We live right across the street from an elementary school, so there are several times a day when our street is jammed to the eyeballs with buses and teachers coming or going and parents triple-parked for drop-off or pick-up. I had just dumped a bunch of groceries in the passenger's seat and was getting ready to back our car a hundred yards or so at breakneck speed to claim one of a couple of spaces on the Tuesday-safe side. Suddenly, a car pulls up beside the car in front of me and stops. Logistically, this means I was blocked in, as there were cars in front and back of me and I had to pull out into the space now occupied before I could back up.

I assumed that this person wanted the space I was about to vacate and was just too stupid to realize that he was preventing me from giving it to him. I was about to give him a polite "Get the Fuck Out of My Way" horn tap when I saw him get out and walk in the general direction of my car. Going off of my previous assumption, I figured he was coming to ask if I was leaving.

He smiled and gestured for me to roll down my window. Meanwhile, the street was starting to fill up with cabs and parents and such, threatening to cut off my access to the precious space. The guy came over to me and held out a brochure of some kind. "Fucking Mormons!" I thought. (There are Mormons in Harlem, by the way. They've even opened up a truly ugly church not five blocks from here.)

He started to say something about how he'd like to invite me to some fucking thing or another, which is when I saw a bus turn the corner and start down the street to me. I knew that, if the bus got to where I was, I'd be stuck there for a good fifteen minutes while they loaded up. I grabbed the brochure and started rolling the window up, giving the guy a curt, "I'm in a hurry." He then sauntered back over to his car and slowly drove away.

I had time to maneuver out of my space before the bus blocked me in, but I couldn't back up and was forced to drive around the block--a route that almost guarantees that the space you're trying for will be gone by the time you've turned the four corners. As I sat at the red light at the end of my block, I noticed that the guy had handed me a flyer for a workshop on digital photography.

What the fuck? What the fuck kind of idiot thinks that the way to get someone interested in what you're offering is to induce road rage? This is akin to trying to sell someone donuts by pissing on their shoes. The world has found yet another way to mystify and irritate me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Cheers and Jeers

When I was a kid, growing up in rural Ohio before the advent of the internet and without the benefit of cable television or sidewalks, I waited every week for our copy of TV Guide. This little magazine not only informed me when I could catch new episodes of Manimal, it also featured hard-hitting journalism, which helped to put my world in perspective. Sadly, today's "full-size" TV Guide has given up on comprehensively listing local programming, in favor of a more Redbook-esque size and sensibility. So I've decided that I will do my best to take up the baton (in the relay race sense, not in any sort of chunky majorette type of way) and help America--and our English-speaking Canadian friends--get a better handle on our cultural landscape. And so, I bring you...Cheers and Jeers.

Cheers to rapper 50 Cent, for courageously sharing with us the story of his triumph over poverty and other people with guns. Oh, sure, Fitty may have changed the character's name, but we all know that that guy on screen brutalizing people is really our favorite coin-man. Rumor has it there's already talk of a sequel, in which 50 Cent's character finally learns how to make some sort of facial expression.

Cheers to FOX. The network has canceled Arrested Development, thank God. Can you imagine what might have happened if a show that intelligent and hilarious had been allowed to remain on the air? Viewers might start to question how network television has the temerity to put on absolute shit like Stacked. It might have led to rioting. Anarchy. Chaos. No, no, much better to just shitcan the best thing on TV and avoid the potential collapse of our way of life.

Jeers to the makers of the new movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This movie is going to send the wrong message to our youth on so many different levels. First of all, what exactly are we saying to our kids when we show them a movie in which all of our worst problems can be solved with magic? I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain that we're not going to bring democracy to Iraq with Spello-Tape. Second, I'm warning you here first: in the coming months, you're going to be hearing about house after house that was burned to the ground because some Potter-besotted youngster got mommy and daddy's kerosene out of the garage and poured some in their sippy-cup in an attempt to create their very own Goblet of Fire. Harmless, escapist fun? I think not.

Cheers and a raised martini glass to Sir Sean Connery, who's been selected to receive his very own Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. If there's one thing the AFI loves doing more than releasing lists, it's honoring cinematic royalty, and the former Bond certainly qualifies. This Cheers marks something of a reconciliation between Hairshirt and Connery, who completely failed to respond to our invitation last year to be keynote speaker at the First Annual Hairshirt Film Festival, which kicked off here in my living room with a gala showing of the Connery classic, Zardoz. So, no hard feelings there, Sir Sean.

On the other hand, Jeers and very hard feelings to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, whose latest book is titled, "Are Men Really Necessary?" Between Ms. Dowd's trashing of First Amendment Martyr Judith Miller--who spent time in jail and is therefore obviously above reproach--and the super-snide title of her book (which I haven't read, but must assume is a humorless feminist rant) she has earned a Jeers in an extra large font, which I would do if I knew how. And I can answer your titular question in one word, Ms. Dowd: sperm. Those eggs don't fertilize themselves, lady.

Okay, that's all we have time for today. I'm fairly certain our encouragement and admonishment will be taken to heart by our targets. And the world will be a better place for it.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Bush Is a Boil on the Ass of America

Every day, in every way, Bush keeps proving himself a bigger and bigger cocksmoking douchebag.

The Asshole-in-Chief was in Pennsylvania today, where he spoke to a Veterans' Day crowd about the war. This walking genital wart--whose administration did the Potomac Shuffle from one justification to another as they sought to find a way to convince the American people first to go to war and second that we were right to do so--had the gall to castigate Democrats and anti-war activists for their criticism, saying, " is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how th[e] war began."

Can you believe this bastard?

He and his fellow scumsuckers were rewriting the history of how the war began when they were beginning it.

I'm even more disgusted with this fuckwad than normal.

I believe a much better way to celebrate Veterans' Day would be to do our very best to make sure that more of the men and women in our service live to be veterans.

I thank all of those who have died in service to our country.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

My apologies. I spent every second of my free time last night cranking out grades for the 13 classes I teach. By the end of it this afternoon, I was just saying fuck it and assigning grades at random. Anyway, here's the fucking horoscopes.

Aries: You spend the evening in a panic, as you waited until the last minute to finish your Veterans' Day shopping.

Taurus: This is a very good week to start on new projects. Things like, say, finally painting the basement room where you're keeping your grandmother chained. I think she'd find a pastel much more soothing than exposed cinderblock.

Gemini: Financial matters weigh heavily on your mind this week. Mostly, you're wondering how much of a raise you could get if you blew your boss. The answer: not enough.

Cancer: For Christmas this year, you might want to seriously consider giving your children something to cry about. After all, you've been promising to for years.

Leo: You're a microsecond away from literally plucking out your eyes this week when you inadvertently view nude pictures of Jerry Lewis this week. Just take deep breaths and count to 20,000. It'll go away.

Virgo: You have a strong urge this week to do something to help the poor. The instinct is good, but making them eat dog shit for quarters is probably not the right way to go about it.

Libra: There are better ways to impress people around your office than by claiming to have had carnal knowledge of Andy Griffith. That really just demeans both you and Andy.

Scorpio: Yes, a man's home is his castle. That still doesn't mean you have the right to dump cauldrons of burning oil on the mailman.

Sagittarius: It's a shame that nobody told you how often flute-playing minstrels get the shit beaten out of them when they ply their trade outside of the safe confines of the Renaissance Faire.

Capricorn: Two days later and you're still feeling the sting that your write-in campaign failed to put Mayor McCheese in office.

Aquarius: You're much more likely to be approved as an adoptive parent if you don't wear your "Nipple Inspector" t-shirt to the interview.

Pisces: I realize that money is tight, but panning for gold in your toilet seems not just desperate, but also kind of psychotic.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Twisted Sister

Busy, busy evening ahead of me as grades are due at my school and I'm heading into heavy rehearsals for A Shitty Christmas Carol.

I wanted, however, to take a minute to note that Tom Cruise fired his sister today as his publicist.

This is, to me, a bit like FEMA shitcanning Michael Brown after he fucked up with Katrina. The damage has already been done and Tom's public image is every bit as ravaged as the worst parts of New Orleans. This is probably a switch that he should've made before he jumped up and down on that couch.

So now, is he expecting that his new publicist is going to be able to make the world forget all the crazy stupid shit Tom's done? Does Cruise actually think that bringing in fresh blood is going to make his relationship with Katie Holmes plausible? Tom, Tom, Tom. You crazy (literally) bastard.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Stop! You're Killin' Me!

Now, we all know that our president has an excellent sense of humor. He's possessed of a fine, fine fratboy style of making funnies. Why, he cracks himself up all the time. It's as if he's got thousands of little jokes floating through his head instead of thoughts about how to run the country. Bottom line: W. is a funny guy.

Today, though, he had me rolling on the floor, filling my undies with burst after burst of urine. In Panama to talk a little trade with South American pals, Bush was grilled by some snooty reporter types about the alleged "gulag" that we're supposed to be using in Eastern Europe to obtain information from suspected terrorists.

He came back with this priceless bit of wit: "We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice...Anything we do that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture."

I just know there are going to be some idiots out there who won't get how hilarious that statement was obviously meant to be. "We do not torture"? Come on! When the entire civilized world has seen--ad infinitum--the pictures out of Abu Ghraib, Bush was obviously being ironic. I didn't see the press conference during which he made this statement, but I'm sure he had to've topped it off with a big ol' wink.

And why shouldn't he be cracking funnies about this shit? It's not like anybody's going to stop us from torturing. We're America! If they fuck with us, they'll get tortured!

I know--I just know--that there's bound to be people who mistakenly think that what Bush was saying was that the everyone on the planet who thinks that our treatment of prisoners is unacceptable is wrong. These people will point to the U.S. Senate's recent vote on legislation banning torture, or to the pending Supreme Court case on the legality of military tribunals, to bolster their claim that Bush's torturing and unilateralosity are just about through. Well, the joke's on them.

The Senate thing goes away with a flick of the wrist holding the Veto stamp and the Supreme Court case will be laughed out of a Roberts/Alito judiciary. Georgie, fully aware of all this, was joshing today in Panama. You might reasonably reinterpret what he said as, "We're not torturing anybody. Except people that piss us off! Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!"

Woo! That guy should do stand-up.

Sunday, November 06, 2005



So New Yorkers will be going to the polls in two days to choose who they want to be mayor. I really wish I could make myself give a shit who wins, but it just isn't happening. I don't like Mike Bloomberg. He's taking credit for this huge turn-around in the New York City schools that is basically all in his head. The system still sucks and is still riddled with problems. Teachers went for three years without a contract and only got one last month because Mayor Mike didn't want them to endorse his opponent. Bloomberg has done nothing spectacular while in office. I suppose the fact that he never allowed the city to be overrun by flesh-eating zombies is a plus in his column, but there ain't a whole lot else to brag about.

On the other hand, Fernando Ferrer has all the charisma of chilled wheat paste. If he won, he'd be the first Latino mayor of New York, but I'd really rather wait until Edward James Olmos or some other, more interesting person takes a stab at it. Maybe I'd be more motivated to vote if Ferrer promised to do something really bizarre if elected. Perhaps he could guarantee that his first act as mayor would be to take off all his clothes and streak through Grand Central Station. Or he could proclaim that, as soon as he takes office, he'll call for a $100, 000 bounty on Donald Trump's hair, dead or alive. Something.

As it stands now, I'm not feeling it. And I haven't even bothered to look into the smaller races. I don't give a shit who my city council representative is and I couldn't even name the candidates for Manhattan Borough President. I'm lame, I realize.

Maybe I burned out all of my political rage on the 2004 campaign. Or maybe I'm just smoking a little too much crack.

Say, that'd make for a more interesting mayoral campaign. What if one of the candidates started really courting the crackhead vote? Actually went into the crackhouses and helped people light their pipes? Showed that he really cared about the needs of today's modern crackhead? (Which, of course, is: crack.) That might shake things up a bit.

Or if either Bloomberg or Ferrer called a press conference to reveal that they're a hermaphrodite. I'd vote for a hermaphrodite in a second.

But that's not going to happen. A whopping 2% of New Yorkers will drag their sorry asses to the polls on Tuesday and Bloomberg will be given another four years to make his friends a whole shitload of money. Insert outrage here.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The Electric Abacus

Lame, that's what it is. Lamer than Tiny fuckin' Tim.

Our computer is old. It's over five years old, which is, I think, 137 in computer years. If our computer was a celebrity, it would be Didi Cohn. Being an old, worn out computer, it's prone to problems. Despite the memory I've added over the years, the external DSL modem, the relatively recently-installed writable CD drive, the poor old thing is just punching above its weight class with all the things we're asking it to do.

Since my wife bought me the CheesePod, we've been moving our computer back and forth a lot, unplugging the scanner to plug in the iPod; unhooking the iPod to slap on the camera, etc. Somehow, in all this moving, I managed to knock loose our sound card. Because I'm an idiot, I was puzzled at first as to the exact nature of the problem. Once I figured it out, I took the side off of Ol' Blue here and jammed the fucking thing back in place. When I rebooted, I was told that--although the computer recognized that the sound card was there--it did not have the software to reinstall it.

Have I mentioned how long we've had this computer? Do I need to even say that I have no fucking idea where the installation CD is? I didn't think so. So, now, the frigging thing is mute. I miss the sounds. I miss especially the crumpling noise that I used to hear when I emptied out the recycling bin. I don't usually give Microsoft credit for much, but, damn, I love that noise. I'm unable to listen to my discs, except if I upload them to iTunes and then dump them onto the already dangerously overcrowded CheesePod. I hate--fucking hate--that generic beep I get instead of my Mail Alert Tone.


This has been a good computer, for the most part. It really has. But my wife and I are looking around. I suppose it's probably not in good taste to type that on the very keyboard I'm hoping to get rid of in the near future. I'll be sad when we do bid adieu to Ol' Blue here. I'll probably run through a montage in my head of me and Ol' Blue typing up comedy sketches; me and Ol' Blue playing a successful game of Internet Euchre; me and Ol' Blue erasing the browser history so that my wife doesn't accidentally find out that I looked at 85 pages of I think I'll play "Danny Boy" in my head during this montage. And I'll cry. Softly.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Like Hemingway, But Butcher

I'm considering writing a novel. I'm considering this because it seems like a quick and easy way to make a lot of money.

The problem I'm running into here is that I'm not really a "novel" kind of guy. I don't tend to use a lot of flowery language. I like to think I have a terse, no-nonsense style of writing. When you read the words I lay down, you should easily picture them coming out of the mouth of Clint Eastwood. Which fits in with my immense machismo.

Anyway, in preparation for this novel, I've been practicing my use of descriptive language. I won't bore you with the paragraphs that surround these gems, but I'd like to get some feedback on them.
  • Tony felt like a plate that someone had let cheese dry onto. When, oh, when would someone come into his life with an S.O.S. pad?
  • She was a wild stallion, galloping through the rugged wilderness of his heart.
  • Arnold looked into the craggy map of the old man's face, trying to find a route that would take him to a better fate. It looked like there were delays on all the major roadways.
  • Annie's anger exploded from her, along with some spittle.
  • "I can't be controlled, Bjorn," said Maisie. "There is no instruction manual for my heart. And even if there was, I don't think you can read."
  • Quiveringly, Becky reached her hand out and caressed Audra's quivering belly. They quivered together for a moment, then came together in Becky's first lesbian kiss. "So this is what joy tastes like," she thought.
  • The morning found Craig no better. If this kept up, he thought, they'd be able to run what was left of his soul through the eye of a needle. Damn them.
  • The taste of Juan's cigar lingered in Cleo's hair, the way a teenage boy will linger outside of the house of some girl who's rumored to be a slut.
  • Karl was a squirrel, running up and down a tree with a joy that contains no small amount of fear.
  • Doctor Dan's mirror stared back at him, accusingly. "Don't you dare blame me," said Doctor Dan to the mirror, "you're in it just as much as I am."
Personally, I think this novel is going to be my ticket out of this hellish existence where I can't afford to buy my poor dogs a solid gold pooper scooper. I'm going places, baby.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You need to take better care of your flying monkeys.

Taurus: You feel that, in the movie of your life, you'd be played by Cate Blanchett. We've done some checking and you'd actually be played by Tara Reid.

Gemini: Today, you are in danger of getting a very bad paper cut. On your ass. It's a long story.

Cancer: Your carelessness could lead to someone's feelings getting badly hurt. Then again, it could also lead to you having wild sex with the person of your dreams. What I'm saying is that everything's fucking random.

You feel a trifle uneasy today, almost as if your civil rights are in danger of being trampled upon by a right-leaning Supreme Court. Eerie.

Virgo: A candy corn sandwich is not part of a nutritious lunch.

Libra: You need to stop trying to get bitten by a spider. Even if one of them turned out to be radioactive, it would not give you superpowers. At most, it would make you sterile. Which, of course, would be great news for the gene pool.

Your doom is on it's way to you even as you read this. Don't worry, though, 'cause it's being sent UPS, so the odds are that you'll never fucking get it.

Sagittarius: Wondering if your little habit of taking off your clothes and covering your body with uncooked chicken skin would be considered weird by most people? Well, wonder no more, you great big perv.

Capricorn: Tonight is an excellent night to engage in lively conversation and indulge in food and drink. It's just a pity that you'll once again be doing this alone.

Aquarius: Yes, it's too early to put up your fucking Christmas tree.

Pisces: You're not going to impress your date by paying for dinner with rolled-up nickels.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Trick or Whatever

I had a very, very panicky weekend, as I once again left my Halloween costume to the absolute last minute. "What the fuck am I going to wear?" I screamed at our cat, who, oddly, had no answers. It had to be something I could cobble together with as little effort as possible, because I truly hate effort. It had to be something in which I could still teach junior high school students, who tend to take advantage when their instructor shows up in a sight-line-impaired Guy in a Coffin get-up. But mostly it had to be clever. There is no greater joy in life than laughing in someone's face as I express my pity at the limited intellect that has kept them from joining me in the rarefied group of Mensa-ites who understand my costume.

So I sat down and came up with a list of acceptable costume choices:

  • Drunk and Belligerent Harriet Miers
  • A Flu Pandemic
  • Pre-Cosmetic Surgery Joan Rivers (Would not actually need to do anything but put on a dress for this one)
  • A Dick-Tater
  • Estragon Dressed as Henry IV (Oh, the hilarity as Beckett's fool carries around a turkey leg, not realizing that he's mistaken the son of John of Gaunt with the driving force behind the creation of the Anglican Church! Good for hours of laughs!)
  • George Bush's Sense of Right and Wrong (Just covering myself with dust and cobwebs)
  • Anorexic Sumo
  • A Jar of Spoiled Mayonnaise
  • A Hogwarts Special Ed Student
  • Fear Itself
  • Mr. Rumpled and Unwashed Clothes Guy
  • A Homosexual Methodist (Just apply liberal doses of hellfire)
  • Dude with his Balls Shaved
In the end, I realized three important facts that I'd forgotten in all of this fevered brainstorming: 1) My school doesn't allow Halloween dress-up and, in fact, sends students and teachers out the door at a run to avoid--I'm guessing--the legions of the damned that apparently run amok after dark in the Central Bronx; 2) I was taking the day off to see my wife get sworn in as an attorney and 3) I fucking hate dressing up on Halloween. And so, in the end, I went as a 35-year-old dude in a suit for most of the day. Scary.