Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Tuesday, January 31, 2006



You can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from around the country as liberals nationwide express their grief and frustration: The Squid and the Whale got one measly fucking nomination!

Oh, and also the Senate confirmed a religious loony to the Supreme Court, who's going to help conservatives roll back our laws to how they were during the Salem Witch Trials. So there's that. Excellent post over at The Talent Show discussing this very thing. But, whatever. It's a done deal. All we can do is sit back and watch what happens, which, with the help of our fantastic Hairshirt Time Machine, we will do right now. Here, then, are some Headlines from the Future, now somewhat bleaker for our right-leaning Supreme Court.

July 14, 2006:
Court Ruling: Bush Can Legally Set Fire to Hobos

February 27, 2007
Top Court Awards Man Ownership of Wife's Vagina

May 1, 2007
School Snake-Handling Made Mandatory

October 13, 2008
Court Backs Iowa's "Fag-Hunting" Permits

November 3, 2008
Bush Elected to Third Term

June 12, 2009
Glaxo-SmithKline Introduces "Soma"

November 17, 2009
Court Okays Electrocution for Jaywalkers

August 2, 2010
Canada Begins Construction of Wall Along U.S. Border

March 8, 2011
5-4 Decision: Feds Can Subpoena Thoughts

September 25, 2011
Court Backs Replacing Constitution with Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

It doesn't look too pretty, does it?

Monday, January 30, 2006


Baby, It's Cold Outside

Yes, there's nothing like doing something really fucking retarded to make you feel grrrreat about yourself.

I had a decent day today. Didn't have to go to work, per se, because I had a workshop for theater teachers to attend. Normally, I realize, a day of "professional development" is enough to make a person want to chew their own arm off to get away, but these workshops aren't too bad. They're basically akin to being in a beginning acting class with a bunch of non-majors. I'm always reminded pleasantly of my early college years, just without the pot and the man-perm.

So, that was nice. I came home to my wife, who suggested that we go for a run. We've been neglecting this part of our routine lately and we were horrified on Saturday to discover exactly how quick one can become utterly and completely deconditioned.

We walked out the door with our usual departure routine. I held the door open for her and she said, "Do you have your keys?" I patted the lump in my running shorts (not that one, you pervs) and answered in the affirmative. We headed down to the park and had a lovely run, our spirits buoyed by the fact that we seemed somewhat less absolutely out of shape than two days prior.

As the sun set on Columbus Circle, we stepped into the warm embrace of the subway system and headed home to walk our dogs, who hadn't been out since 11:30 or thereabouts and were probably quite near to doing a Jackson Pollack on the rug.

We got out at our stop and held each other, shivering, from the station to our front door, which is where I discovered the hole in my pocket that had left us keyless.

Now I have no fucking idea how a heavy clump of rubber-banded keys managed to leave my person without my being aware. They're fairly heavy when they're lashed together like that. And I'm not such a serious runner that I enter any kind of ecstatic, endorphine-infused zen mindset that carries my spirit to nirvana while my body exerts itself. Mostly, I'm panting and making sure I don't step in dogshit, so I should have caught this. But I didn't.

And so my wife and I were stuck outside in the rapidly cooling January air in shorts and running shirts, without phones and with about thirteen dollars to our names. Our friends upstairs from us, alas, were not home. Our landlord was elsewhere. So we shivered our way back to the subway and went to Starbucks, where we could use the bathroom and not fall into hypothermia.

This is yet another example of a time when modern technology just fucks you. We have nobody's phone number memorized. We store our friends' numbers in our cell phones like all citizens of the twenty-first century. So we couldn't just call someone. We spent what seemed like a decent amount of time sipping overpriced coffee and staring dully at the people on their laptops and then we took a chance and headed back uptown, where we repeated our frozen trek from the station to our doorstep.

This time, Isis be praised, one of our friends upstairs was home and proved what a good idea it is to have a spare key in the hands of someone trustworthy. We chipped the icicles off of our nipples and jumped into a hot shower.

And this is why I'm never going running again.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Someone Needs a Nap

Saddam Hussein apparently threw a huge hissy fit in court this morning.

One of his co-defendants was booted for being a dick and then his whole defense team walked out in a huff and then, after the judge--who was not having this shit--assigned him a court-appointed lawyer, Saddam through a big ol' second-grade-style temper tantrum. From what I heard and read, he did everything except perhaps to throw his own poo at the judge.

What does it tell us about the kind of leader he was when he comports himself with such a complete lack of dignity. What a dick.

Now, I grant you, if I'd been deposed after decades of tyrannical rule and was before a court which was likely going to find me guilty of horrific crimes against my people and jail/execute/publicly castrate me, I'd probably not be in the most Bobby McFerrin of moods, either. But come on. He should at least be trying to maintain some kind of dignity. (Although, the whole "tighty whities" incident probably left him with a fairly low supply of that.)

Maybe Saddam has been without a conjugal visit since he's been on the inside. Perhaps if the Iraqi judicial system wants this trial to proceed a little smoother, they'd best let Saddam have some naughty time with the Mrs. Or at least treat him to a handjob or something.

On a more personal note, my wife's father very generously gave us (and shipped to us) his computer last week. It's about twenty thousand times more powerful than our old one, which was basically just an abacus with a power cord. The point is, we're in the process of figuring out how to transfer our data from our old computer to the new one, so there's the very real possibility that we'll be down for a few days. Given how both of my readers rely so heavily on this blog to tell them what to think, I just thought I'd throw out that little heads up. I feel like the astronauts in Apollo 13 about to go around the dark side of the moon. Hopefully, I'll see you on the other side.

Saturday, January 28, 2006



I remember exactly where I was twenty years ago today, when I found out about the space shuttle Challenger exploding. I was fifteen years old and sitting in an algebra class in which I had little/no interest at Western Reserve High School. The only thing that I even remotely liked about the class was that I got to sit near Angie Offenbecher, who was a few years older than me and on whom I had a huge fat-boy crush.

So I was sitting there and Mr. Rappach was writing something on the board and someone next to me said, "Hey, did you hear about the space shuttle?" I can't remember who this person was, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't someone in whom I put a whole lot of stock, because when they said, "Yeah, it exploded" I absolutely didn't believe them. It wasn't until later in the day when I saw it for myself on a television in another classroom that I could even wrap my head around the fact that this was possible.

Up until that point, there hadn't been any disasters with the space program during my lifetime. (Apollo 13 had happened while I was gestating.) I hadn't ever even considered the fact that this was dangerous. I guess I'd thought, "Yeah, they've got all this figured out. How could something go wrong?"

My mom picked me up after school and I remember just being in shock. I watched the news coverage at home; watched the shuttle explode over and over and over. I had rehearsal for a show that night. I think it was All the Way Home, in which I played Bully #2. Everyone was a little shaken that night and so our director--a guy who would routinely give us hour-long notes sessions at the end of a long night, droning on and on--had us just talk about our feelings and the shuttle and personal growth.

DC was revamping Superman around that time, giving him a slightly different origin and a fresh start. In one of the issues toward the beginning of that revamp, he was supposed to make his public debut saving a space shuttle. They had to make some changes. Instead, they had him saving a "space plane". Because that tweak would spare the readers' collective psyche, you see.

It's a bit like how the media handled that other great national tragedy that was more recent. First the television news showed the disaster happening to us again and again and again. Then movies, comics and television hastily removed the twin towers from everything they'd been releasing, lest the sight of them sent us into an emotional tailspin.

It would be so very nice if we, as a country, had fewer of these horrible tragedies as cultural touchstones. It would be so much nicer if we could look back and say, "Yeah, I remember exactly where I was when world peace was declared" or "I can still recall where I was when they announced the cure for AIDS" or "I was getting ready to go on a date when they came on the radio and said that Bush was resigning." Well, we can hope.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Bernie, Bernie

Let me just say from the outset, here, that I am these days--at best--only a casual fan of football. Actually, "fan" might be taking things a couple of dozen steps too far. The truth of the matter is that I watched some sizeable chunks of the NFC and AFC championship games last weekend and enjoyed them, but I haven't actually followed or given a shit about football since Art Modell yanked the Browns out of Cleveland and we were left without a team while the franchise that we loved so very much morphed into the hated Ravens.

I remember though. I remember what it was like to be a Browns fan. I remember so many Sundays during sub-zero Ohio winters when I would sit with my dad and watch the Browns. I was with them from the Brian Sipe years through the end of the Bernie Kosar era. I remember the one time I got to see them play in Cleveland Stadium and witnessed live the energy of the fans in the Dawg Pound.

What I remember most, though, is those fucking jaggoffs losing crucial games. I remember howling in pain and fury as they lost yet another match with the rival Steelers. I remember playoff games where they blew huge leads. I remember the excruciating heartbreak of realizing that they'd let me down once again.

And that's how I've come to feel about the Democrats. Those fucking jaggoffs.

This has been the kind of year they had to have been praying for. One Bush fuck-up after another. Scandals left and right. A war that's dragging on and on and on. And they can't manage more than a half-assed dog and pony show of a filibuster attempt? They can't muster the balls to beat back Rove & Co.'s "That's right, we're tapping your calls and we're proud of it" bullshit?

I have always been opposed to term-limits. To my mind, term-limits were, at best, redundant--as the people always had the power to vote out of office anyone they thought was doing a poor job--and, at worst, a way to ensure that we never had experienced politicians around who knew how to legislate. I always thought that, if you had someone representing you with whom you were happy and who was doing a good job, there shouldn't be any problem keeping them. I'm starting to rethink this now.

The Democrats seem like bunny rabbits in the path of an oncoming car. They're so scared of doing something that's going to keep them from getting re-elected that they won't commit to making a genuine stand on anything. Maybe if we freed them of the worry of keeping their jobs, they'd be able to get something done.

As it stands, they're looking not so much like the Kardiac Kids or the Kosar-led team that lost to Elway and "The Drive" as the post-Sipe '84 Browns. Those guys went 5-11.

Thursday, January 26, 2006



When Target does commercials that repeat their corporate bullseye logo over and over again formed from the products they sell, it's kind of cool and stylish. When Wal-Mart does it with their smiley face, it's fucking creepy. If you haven't seen this one, count yourself among the lucky who are still able to sleep at night without waking up screaming, seeing that hideous visage everywhere you look. *shudder*


Bush: Dickhead or Asshole?

I can't say I know enough about Middle East politics to comment on the fact that Hamas has taken power away from Fatah in the Palestinian elections. I can't say I know enough about Canadian politics to comment on the fact that the Conservative Party wrested control of the country from the Liberals. But maybe it's a good omen as we head into our own mid-term elections this year.

Maybe we can at least get some of the more stridently Bush-backing assholes out of the House and Senate. Maybe we can vote in a legislature that can actually fucking serve as a check and/or balance to that yammering drip-hole in the Oval Office.

My fucking god, I swear I'm going to hang myself before the State of the Union if I have to continue to hear that shit-slinging, retarded frat fuck defending all of the evil shit he's doing.

It's like he's doing the most incompetent version ever of the Jedi mind trick, giving a slow wave of his hand as he says, "My wiretaps are protecting civil liberty."

It sucks, because, before I started thinking about Bush, I was actually in a pretty damned good mood. Think how much happier we can all be when he hauls his worthless ass back to Texas for good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Great Krypton!

Scientists have discovered a somewhat earth-like planet which Hairshirt is fairly certain is the birthplace of Superman. Scientists describe the planet as five times larger than earth and say it's a planet of rock and ice circling a red sun. As of today, astronomers have made no official link between the planet and the Man of Steel, but come on.

"Five times larger than earth"?

"Planet of rock and ice"?

"Red sun"?

I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds completely like the opening of Superman: The Movie. The only thing that could make me surer is if the scientists saw a piece plexi-glass flying away from the planet with three disco-tastic villains begging to be let out.

While little information has been forthcoming about the Kryptonian nature of the planet, Hairshirt plans to investigate whether scientists have knowledge of a rocket speeding its way through the galaxy to deposit the future Metropolis Marvel on our doorstep.


That Darned Pope

Pope Benedict XVI issued the first encyclical of his papacy today, surprising many Vatican observers by choosing to address the topic of love. The Pope used this occasion to encourage followers to engage in the physical act of love only within the confines of a loving, committed relationship. Following are excerpts from the Pontiff's meditation.

"Oh, baby. Ughn. You lookin' so, so sweet, baby. You lookin' like you want to get all over someone. You lookin' like you ready to drop them panties and get freaky. Aw, yeah."

"But wait a minute baby. Naw. Naw. You too fine to be throwin' yourself away like that. Uh-uh. Naw, baby, you got to hold out. You got to hold out for someone who will treat you like the magnificent queen you are."

"I know. I know. Sometimes, sometimes the feelin' builds up. Sometimes, it feels like your fine, fine booty gonna explode if you don't get it tapped. I feel ya, baby. I feel ya."

"But, dig, it's gonna feel so much better,'s gonna feel so much finer when you and that special someone got a spiritual connection. Let someone blow your mind, body and spirit, baby. Oh, yeah. Ughn."

Religious scholars commenting on CNN today compared this message favorably with Pope John Paul II's 1992 encyclical, titled "I'm'a Get My Drink On".


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You are made inexplicably uneasy by the new tag line in the Cheese Nips ad. For some reason, "When you love Nips, it shows" strikes you as less a compelling advertisement and more as a call to arms for breast fetishists.

Taurus: Despite the certainty you feel on this subject, your actions are not--repeat, not--controlled by a tiny gnome that lives in your elbow.

Gemini: The stars are compelling you to bet your wife's retirement savings on Pittsburgh beating the spread next week. Right. Blame the stars, you pathetic shithead.

Cancer: This week, you find yourself sorely tempted to crap in your pants just to see how it feels.

Leo: Right now, Leo, you're feeling like the Mona Lisa: an object of beauty hung up for the adoration of the masses, but never knowing the comfort of a warm and private home. Actually, you're more like a Pamela Anderson poster, but feel free to maintain your delusions.

Virgo: Is there a point to living now that Mario Lemieux has retired? You're honestly not sure.

Libra: A penguin swallows your car keys today, giving you yet another reason to hate those waddling little fucks.

Scorpio: Today, after years and years of soul-searching and pondering the important questions of the universe, you finally arrive at your answer: you actually prefer Picard to Kirk.

Sagittarius: Bear in mind this week, Sagittarius, that the ancient Peloponnesians regarded cold sores as a sign of prosperity.

Capricorn: Nachos are tasty. Tasty, tasty nachos.

Aquarius: You're pretty sure you find very subtle satanic messages hidden in the sound track to Finding Nemo.

Pisces: You are really turned on by Paul Wolfowitz. Maybe this is a good time to explore why that is. Perhaps with the help of a qualified psychoanalyst.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006



I've got a nasty, nasty cold today. It landed on me yesterday like a cougar on a jelly-covered hiker and it's been filling my head and chest with the creeping crud ever since. I've missed some days at work over the past few weeks and was loathe to call in sick today, so I just sucked it up and headed on in.

For most of the day, I've felt like someone packed my sinuses with sealing caulk and I've been coughing like Selma Diamond during her last few months on earth. It's not been pretty.

So I did something that I rarely do. I took some cold medicine. To be more specific, I took some Tylenol Cold Day-Time. I took it as soon as I got to work and it helped, which I found a little surprising, as cold meds have always been hit or miss with me. These two little tablets got me through the first six periods okay, but then the effectiveness started to wear out, at which time I figured I should go ahead and chug a couple more.

And with that second batch came the MEDICINE HEAD.

I don't know about you, but I fucking hate medicine head. I hate it more than I hate the cold symptoms I'm taking the medicine to relieve in the first place. It makes me feel like I'm high on a couple of hits of some really crappy ditch weed. It makes my synapses fire at the same rate as a the spark plugs of a '73 El Dorado that's been on blocks in the yard for five years. It makes it very hard for me to think.

So I'm riding the bus this afternoon and all of sudden it hits me: The entire Bush administration is on some powerful cold medicine. What else would explain how on God's green earth they think the public is going to buy the notion that warrantless wiretaps aren't against the law. Somebody needs to get the Bushies some homeopathic remedies that will clear the fog from their noggins and allow them to think.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Why I'm Breaking the George W. Bush

President Bush gave a speech today in Kansas in which he defended his domestic spying program before a crowd of smiling Kansans. I have to say, before this speech, I was worried that Bush was grossly misusing his power to infringe on our civil liberties. But he was just so darned eloquent today that I've completely come around to his way of thinking. Following are some excerpts from that speech.

"You know, a lot of us grew up thinking that the ocean would protect us. We figured that it was this giant creature that could rise up and just knock the livin' tar outta any gooks or such that wanted to bomb us. Turns out, the oceans are just water. And not the tasty kind you can drink, either. Y'ever try drinkin' water outta the ocean? It tastes like the outside of a margarita glass. Ick."

"I knew right after September the 11th that the attacks would begin to fade in people's memory. I figure most folks are like me and, shit, I tend to forget stuff that happened ten minutes ago. But I have this little trick, see. If I talk about something every ten minutes or so, I remember it. So I made myself a promise that I would talk about September 11th every ten minutes. Just slip it into the conversation even if it wasn't relevant. Like if I'm talking about why Sam Alito should be confirmed or something and I'll just refer to September 11th for no clear reason. See, it's just so I don't forget it. Where am I?"

"I want to step back and just tell you--I probably--I hope I say this more than once, 'cause otherwise I'll forget it: committing troops into harm's way is the last option of the President. It's the hardest decision a President can make. It's made a teeny little bit easier when that President really, really wants to send troops into harm's way, but it's still not as easy as, say, making a plate of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Sometimes, I like to call it Kraft Cheese & Macaroni, just when I'm feeling silly."

"Since we can't track vast armies or armadas or whatever you call those groupie things--I was never in the service, see--you have to have intelligence. Good intelligence. Smart intelligence. You've got to be able to shine a light into the dark corners where these people hide. 'Cause they're like cockroaches. Y'ever go into the kitchen in the middle of the night and turn on the light, 'cause you were gonna eat some left over cheese and macaroni? And, and when you turn that light on, there's cockroaches on the counter and they just start to run and scatter, 'cause they know that you're takin' off your slipper and gonna squash the shit outta them? Right, okay, see, basically, intelligence is that slipper. And when I've got to go through a court of some kind to get permission to listen in on people's phone calls, it's like I loaned my slipper to some guy down the street and I'm just in my bare feet. And that don't work for me, 'cause the kitchen floor is real cold."

"The definition of success, by the way, is the state of having succeeded. I know that for a fact, because I just looked it up. We got a strategy and I'm going to keep talking about it, 'cause otherwise I might forget. Where am I?"

"We got to step back and ask why? Why would the terrorists want to stop democracy? And the answer, because the establishment of a free Iraq would be a devastating blow to their vision. Eleven million or so Iraqis went to the polls in defiance of these killers. It's a magical moment in the history of liberty. It's like Doug Henning was dressed up in a gown, holdin' a torch and with that crowny thing on his head and he made a elephant disappear. It's magical like that."

"See, we got to protect Liberty. We should be willing to do anything as a nation to protect our Liberty. Sometimes, to do that, you have to give up some of your Liberty. It's like when you're pulling down a blind, 'cause you want it to go up. It's like that, only with Liberty. Where am I?"

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Year of the Joe Dog

I've had a lot of stuff going on in the last month. It's been one of those months that sort of brings things into focus. And one thing that it's made me focus on is the fact that I have a whole blimp-full of shit that I am no closer to accomplishing than I was when I was 23. I'm not saying that I'm living the same life that I did when I was 23, because that would mean that I was working at Barnes & Noble and making $7/hour. I'm now up to $8. (Adjusted for inflation.)

It's odd, because there was a time in my life when I had epiphanies like this basically every other week. And I would steel my resolve to do something about it. And I would almost immediately go right back to the same shit I was doing before the epiphany. After awhile, I came to the realization that epiphanies are full of it. And I ignored them whenever they came knocking from there on out. Fuck epiphanies.

But this is a little different. This time, I've had to deal with some things that I don't normally like to think about. And it's driven home that I need to actually take some steps toward achieving my goals. As nice as it might be to sit back with a beer in one hand and Mr. Howdy in the other (Mr. Howdy being a nickname for my penis), nobody is going to stumble on my blog and say, "Hey, this guy's funny. I wonder if he has a screenplay he might be willing to sell me." Neither, in all likelihood, are my sketch shows going to bring in an agent who will immediately recognize the untapped genius before him/her and speed-dial The Daily Show to get me on their staff.

So I need to be a little--as the business-types say--"proactive". (Which I think means "not quite so much with the head up one's ass".)

Which is why I'm making a New Year's resolution. Not for the New Year that happened three weeks ago. That New Year is all about holding back the streams of vomit that want to come roaring out of your throat after your twentieth jello shot. No, I'm talking about the New Year that counts: Chinese New Year.

See, one week from today, we enter The Year of the Dog. By coincidence, I happen to have been born in the Year of the Dog. By another coincidence, the last time we had a Year of the Dog, I met and fell in love with my wife. By yet another coincidence, I really like dogs.

And so, I, Joe Wack, declare that this will be the year. This will be the year that I make it fucking happen. This is the year I step up to the plate and smash the living shit outta the ball. This will be the Year of the Joe Dog.

And if, by some unhappy chance, I'm not one jot closer to where I wanted to be by the time we move on to the Year of the Pig, then I'm gonna pack it in and figure out some other career in which I can make a comfortable living until I take my last wheezing breath on my death bed.

Year of the Dog, baby.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Amazing Tales of Heresy

I'm reading a really interesting book right now called Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospels of Thomas. It's by Elaine Pagel, the same woman who wrote The Gnostic Gospels and it's basically a look at the differences between what have become the established gospels of the New Testament and some of the many, many other gospels that were written by various Christian sects before the early church hierarchy decided that only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the True Word of God.

What this book doesn't talk about--or, at least, hasn't talked about in the first half of the book, as I'm not finished with it yet--is the fifteen-hundred or so years since the New Testament was set down and all of the tinkering done on it by various popes and monks and kings and people with a vested interest in making sure that it was useful in keeping Christians from doing things that the Powers That Were didn't want them to do.

I respect the right of Christians of all degrees of devoutness to believe whatever they want about the Bible and I would never get into an argument with someone and try to talk them over to my way of thinking. But come on. Have you read Revelation? The author has obviously gotten ahold of some really killer mushrooms and then jotted down everything he saw while he was tripping balls. And there are millions and millions of people who take this stuff seriously. It's frightening.

Now, again, if you are a devout Christian, I don't mean to denigrate your faith. Honestly, I don't. I think that you have to have some kind of moral compass in this world. The universe is a frightening place to ponder if you have no answers to the Big Questions and I know that religion gives people comfort and a way of relating to the world, which is wonderful. But I have a problem with people who feel the need to scream in my face that this science fiction anthology is to be taken literally and used to sort good from bad. If I'm going to do that, I think I'd rather use
The Martian Chronicles, frankly.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to do is, I'm going to rewrite bits of the Bible in a way that makes a little more sense to me. And I'm going to share it with anyone who cares to read it. Please feel free to skip this if you wish. I call this new recurring feature...

Amazing Tales of Heresy!

Jesus looked around the table. God, he was sick of these people. Not one of them ever had an original idea of their own. Not one of them really gave a shit about him personally. All they cared about was the money and the chicks. Sycophants and hangers-on, the lot of them. Listen to Peter. "Oh, we really showed those money-changers. They will not be returning to the temple. We are going places, dudes."

Jesus rolled his eyes. Where were these assholes when he was working eighteen hours a day putting together chairs in his dad's shop? Fame sucked. Simon walked over, carrying a pitcher of water.

"Um...hey Jesus. We're kinda out of wine. You think you could, uh..."

Jesus sighed and waved his hand over it. Simon gave a drunken thumbs-up and weaved back to his chair. Jesus cringed as he watched James duck behind a potted plant to vomit. What the hell was he doing with these jerks?

Judas came to him and knelt down beside his chair. He leaned over and breathed his garlic-lamb-breath in Jesus' face. "Say, lord, Thaddaeus and I have a bet. We figured, since you're omniscient and all, maybe you could settle it for us. Which is faster, the cougar or the antelope?"

Jesus stood up and threw his napkin on the table. "Oh my fucking god, I am so tired of you guys!"

Simon nudged Thomas. "Dude, he looks pissed."

Thomas piped up. "Um...what would you like us to do, o Lord?"

Jesus drained his wine. "Eat me." He tossed his goblet down and walked out.

The Twelve looked at each other for a moment. John said, "Hey, what do you think he meant by that?" And the debate began.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


File Under "Things That Suck Hard"

Waiting for My Name Is Earl to come on and I have made the unfortunate mistake of watching some of Four Kings. Sweet Slurpee-sipping Christ, this thing is bad! I'm not sure, but I'm thinking this might be some kind of reverse-psychology programming. NBC is thinking, "If we put on something that's just utterly abysmal, people will keep tuning in to see if it gets worse."

What I'm saying is, the worst student in my sixth-grade classes could write a better script than this. I could eat a copy of Truly Tasteless Jokes V and then vomit a better script. I seriously think Seth Green must have murdered somebody in a drunken rage and instead of putting him to death, the state of California sentenced him to be on this show.

It's not good.


The Unitary Executive Theory Explained

In my reading lately, I've frequently been coming across the Unitary Executive Theory of the Presidency. As you may be aware, George W. Bush has been citing this school of thought as an influence behind his style of leadership and to specifically defend his decision to ignore FISA laws that prevent him from tapping citizens phones without permission from a special court. Before this week, I'd never heard of the theory, so I decided to do a bit of digging and find out more about it. I'm certainly glad that I did.

The theory, it turns out, dates back to an issue of Superman from 1964. Written by Edmond Hamilton, with art by Curt Swan, this issue was an "Imaginary Story"--a story that took place outside of accepted DC continuity--in which Superman was elected President. So effective was Superman in the office that Congress and the judiciary found themselves irrelevant and disbanded, leaving the Man of Steel as the sole official in the federal government.

Nine years later, scholars at the Heritage Foundation who were taking a lunch break to trade comic books, eat braunschweiger and jelly sandwiches and compose songs in tribute to Richard Nixon happened upon this story and decided that, as Nixon was to their minds a kind of Superman, he should follow Kal-El's example and become a one-man government.

While Nixon expressed interest in the idea during a meeting, he soon became too caught up in the unfolding Watergate scandal to fully implement the theory's suggested practices. The theory might have faded away into the annals of history after Nixon left office, were it not for the interaction between Nixon's staff and a man who had worked on Nixon's 1972 campaign, one Karl Rove.

The theory's origins in a superhero magazine appealed greatly to the geek in Rove. (To be honest, the geek wasn't just in Rove, but truly all over him.) After achieving his greatest success, putting George W. Bush in office, Rove turned once again to the theory and used it to shape the Bush white house. Like Superman, Bush would eschew working with large groups of people, instead preferring to confide only in a close-knit group of advisers, or Super Friends. Just as Superman's mastery over space and time (see the ending of Superman: The Movie, in which he reverses the flow of time to get Lois Lane out from under some rocks) allowed him to shape reality, Bush would use his incredible oratory skills to make The Truth whatever he said it was. Superman had kryptonite, Bush had pretzels.

And so, although the theory is only now being discussed publicly, we can see how it's been in play since Bush took office. I ask you: Would Superman pause to ask Congress before he used his x-ray vision and super-hearing to catch terrorists? Heck, no. Just think of wire-tapping as a super-power that George has. And remember, he's fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You are just incredibly excited to go and visit New Orleans, once it's rebuilt entirely in chocolate. In fact, you already have plans to eat a whole jazz club, including the marzipan drum kit!

Taurus: Try to curb any desire to tell a co-worker to fuck off today. Blow a snot in their cocoa instead. (It looks like just another marshmallow, see?)

Gemini: You get a pet mouse this week. Except it's not so much a pet as a thing that makes you scream like a little girl when it sprints across your counter and hides behind the bread box.

Cancer: You're mega-excited about this week's publication of issue 4 of DC's Infinite Crisis, in which we finally find out that the Luthor from another dimension is actually behind everything that's been going on and you just don't care who knows it. Well, I'm with you, pal. This issue rawked!

Leo: This week, you finally get that nick-name you've wanted since you were ten: "Douche-Face". It's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Virgo: Stuffing your bra is bad enough. Stuffing it with mashed yams is just wrong.

Libra: It's good to try to look on the sunny side of things, but staring directly at the sunny side can do serious damage to your retinas, so make sure you're looking at the sunny side through a welding helmet or similar protective device.

You're still super pissed that Bob Hoskins lost the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Let those fucks in the Hollywood Foreign Press know how you feel, man. Take out a full page "The Hollywood Foreign Press can eat me" ad in Variety.

Sagittarius: That bottle of hot sauce you chugged to impress party guests last night is going to come back to haunt you right

Capricorn: The Year of the Rooster is almost over. Wha'choo gonna do then, bitch? Huh? You best not fuck with the Dog. See, the Dog will bite. Oh yes.

Aquarius: You're feeling peeved this evening, after finding out that some other bunch of assholes swiped your idea to kidnap Tony Blair's son. You've got to be quicker out of the gate on shit like that, m'man.

Pisces: You like to think of yourself as the flaming bag of dog poop on the doorstep of American Society. Whatever rocks your boat, chief.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Star Fish

So I'm sittin' on the couch, watching Jeopardy, and a commercial comes on for Gorton's Fish Fillets. They show a shot of the Gorton's Fisherman and I had one of the strangest thoughts I've had in quite some kind. It went something like this: "Oh, that guy's got a nice beard. I wonder how long it took him to...Holy fuck! That's Jason of Star Command!"

A quick Google search later and a newspaper from Tennessee proved me right.

Now, I don't know how many people who read this watched a lot of CBS Saturday morning television in the late '70s, but there was a bad Battlestar Galatica/Star Trek rip-off called Jason of Star Command, about a young space pilot. It starred the guy from Blazing Saddles who got his feet kicked off the stage by Madeline Kahn during her "I'm Tired" number.

And he's old enough to play the grizzled Gorton's Fisherman.

World-shattering, no?


Scalia Makes a Pouty Face

The Supreme Court took a big ol' dump on the Bush administration's shoes today.

*Deep, heavy sigh*

How much longer do you think they'll be doing that?

What they did, see, was to refuse to strike down Oregon's physician-assisted suicide laws. Oregon is the one place where doctors have the right to help people with illnesses that are terminal and qualities of life that are abysmal end their lives with some dignity. Personally, I completely fail to see the argument against this. "My God! If this law were to spread to other states, doctors would just start slaughtering people wholesale! Think of the carnage! No, no. It's much better that people who are spending every second of their existence in severe pain should be forced to live months longer."

Come on. Allowing people to control their own destiny in this way is not going to lead us down the slippery slope to Logan's Run, for Christ's sake. What is it that these conservatives want? "Look, if'n you want to kill yerself, you should do it the old-fashioned way and jest put a shotgun to yer temple. It was good enough fer mah grandma."

I'm not saying that suicide should be readily available to every idiot teenage goth kid. I'm not looking to market Doc Kevorkian's Li'l Black Pill over the counter or anything. But if your doctor feels that there is no hope for you; if every day is a repetition of the same intense pain and there's no effective way to manage it; if you've lived enough of your life to peacefully let it go, then why the fuck should born-agains in the executive branch be able to stop you?

Don't, please, think that I'm some suicide-happy jaggoff. I've said before that I think suicide is a stupid, selfish thing to do. (I believe that I said the only exception to this rule is samurais.) I still stand by this point of view in most cases. But...I know that I would have a tough time living every day with the kind of non-stop pain that some people have to go through. Inflict that pain on people like fundamentalist Christian John Ashcroft, who introduced the challenge to this law while he was still Attorney General, and you might see them do a quick about face.

Ah, religion. So many wonderful, wonderful ways it can fuck things up.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Oops, I Did It Again

Just like last year, I sat down this evening and watched a huge chunk of the Golden Globe awards, only realizing a couple of hours in that I totally don't give a shit. I'm pretty sure I vowed last year that I wouldn't do this again, but apparently I'm retarded.

Meanwhile, actual important shit happened in the world today. F'rinstance, Al Gore gave a fantastic speech about the horror show that is the Bush administration. Sadly, about five thousand times more people are going to be aware of the short speech that George Clooney gave, accepting his Golden Globe for Best Supporting actor. True, he was funnier than Gore--he thanked Jack Abramoff and joked about parents that would give the name Jack to anyone who has "off" in his last name--but Gore's speech was a little more detailed.

Something Gore brought up in this speech is that the American people need to get interested in what their government is doing and that they have to do more to inform themselves about national and international events than watching thirty-second commercials during campaign season. And that's where I lose hope.

I've often quoted George Carlin's great line about human intelligence: "Think of how dumb the average person is. And then realize that half of 'em are even stupider than that." I just don't have the faith that we citizens of this country pay enough attention to what's going on around us. Because there are pretty dresses on the red carpet at the Beverly Hilton. Who has time to read a paper?'s late. I'm going to go watch Hollywood congratulate itself on how open-minded it is when it declares a gay cowboy movie the best film of the year. Rest assured, I'll be hating myself while I watch.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Your Cheatin' Heart

This week, my wife and I saw Match Point, the latest from Woody Allen, which a whole lot of critics are lauding as a "return to form" for a director who has churned out steaming piles of crap for a good decade or so. I don't know what they're talking about. I just saw another steaming pile.

First off, let me say that Allen has done this movie before. To me, this movie is basically just Crimes and Misdemeanors minus the misdemeanors. I recently read a magazine article in which he was discussing his filmography and he said that he wished, in hindsight, that he'd focused completely on the Martin Landau character in C&M. And now he has. So you could basically think of this as Crimes and Misdemeanors: Director's Cut.

Okay, it's great that Allen doesn't have Jonathan Rhys-Meyers doing a painful Woody Allen impression. But that in and of itself doesn't make this a great movie. We've got the usual Allen characters--rich, urbane, white--doing the usual Allen stuff--having affairs, feeling guilty. The only difference here is that they've got British accents.

To be completely fair, the reasons I hated this flick were not entirely the fault of Woody Allen. Mostly, I just really can't stand movies that are about someone cheating on their spouse. I can't explain it, but when someone on the screen sneaks away from their wife or husband and starts pulling off their clothing, I get all squirmy and have to force myself to stay in the room. I can't hack it.

I have no real idea why this sort of thing should affect me so strongly. My mom and dad are still together. My childhood home was never torn apart by one of them gettin' some on the side. I've been with the same woman since I was twenty-three, so it's been a long time since a relationship I was in broke apart and I don't really even remember if any of those bust-ups happened because I was cheated on. So there's no personal reason that cheaters should rank so high on my shit list.

I guess I just feel really bad for the person being cheated on. No one deserves that. No one deserves to have the person they love hopping in bed with someone else. No matter how shrewish the wife in a movie is, no matter how cold and unfeeling the husband, I don't think cheating is justified. Fucking get a divorce, asshole. Then you can fuck whoever the hell you want.

Do I sound puritanical? Oh well. Cheating is just one thing I can't wrap my mind around and I don't wish to try. This makes it difficult for me to enjoy movies in which our "hero" fucks around. Ray, Unfaithful, The Good Girl. Good movies, I suppose. But their protagonists are somewhat wrecked for me, 'cause they couldn't keep it in their pants.

This is why I'd make such a lousy swinger.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Das Boots

Just a quick update on my shoe situation.

Yesterday, after a weekend during which I'd been smugly walking around, sneering down at my feet every once in awhile in vainglorious triumph at my defeat of the evil shoes, I noticed some pain. This pain was not in the place that my boots had been hurting me since the moment I'd put them on.

This pain was in another spot entirely. Now that parts of my shoes had loosened up and become friends with my feet (even discussing taking long-weekend trips together) another part of the boot had decided to step up and continue the abuse. I ignored it as long as I could, which was basically long enough for a blister to form and fill with a good quarter-teaspoon of goo.

Today, the little toe on my left foot was too sore for me to strap the shoes back on. I actually feared that said toe would detach itself from my body and run screaming down the street if I'd tried. So I put on some comfy older shoes and gave the big boys the day off.

But I'm not stopping. No sir. I'm not giving up. I'm going to bend these boots to my will. I'm going to tap dance in them to an Oak Ridge Boys song. I'm going to make these shoes my bitch. Make no mistake: These fuckers will do as I say.

Oh yes, they certainly will.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


The People's Court

The Sunday talk shows this morning had a whole lot to talk about. Between the questionable safety practices at the Sago mine to the void left by the incapacitation of Ariel Sharon to the announcement by Tom Delay that he wouldn't seek re-election they could have done hours and hours of head-talking. And yet, while flipping between Face the Nation, Meet the Press and This Week with George Snuffalupagus, what I heard the most about was the Alito hearings coming up this week, which brought to my mind an important thought: "Oh, fuck, right. That guy."

I'd completely forgotten about him. Maybe because his inevitable confirmation is such an utterly loathsome thought. Anyway, there were a whole lot of opinions laid out by various senators and journalists and regular citizens. (I'm joking. Nobody gives a shit what regular citizens think.) Much of the talk had to do with the Reagan-era job application in which Alito said that he felt the Constitution doesn't protect a woman's right to freedom of choice. So you had a lot of right-wingers waving this off by saying, "Look, he was applying for a job with a conservative administration. Of course he was going to say that. He was saying what they wanted to hear to get the job."

How the living fuck is that supposed to comfort us? If he blew smoke up a prospective employer's ass twenty years ago, would that not lead you to believe that he's going to do that again now? I mean, yeah, I've done it in job interviews before. Everyone knows there's a certain amount of yes-sirring and bullshitting that you do when they ask you the "What would you say is your greatest strength?" question and such. If that's all I have to do to get a job that's going to pay my rent and put food on my table, I'll be more than happy to nod and agree that, yes, loyalty to one's employer is paramount and, yes, I'm looking for a job I can keep for a long, long while, even though I know that I'm taking off in three months to hitchhike to Burning Man.

(For the record, I've never been to Burning Man, nor do I intend to go, as I have a very low tolerance for patchouli and guys named Moonbeam.)

The point here is how in the name of Aunt Esther's hairy mole are we supposed to believe anything this asshole says? He's going to avoid saying as much as possible and hedge any opinion that might give us an actual clue as to what he would like to do once on the bench. And it's not like the Democrats have demonstrated the presence of any testicles on their person. There might be one or two tough questions lobbed, but I'm sure he'll be able to dodge them. And then how many Democrats are going to vote against him? How many centrist Republicans will stand apart from the majority in an election year?

Basically, this is a foregone conclusion. Personally, I'm digging my buckle shoes and my breeches out of the closet, 'cause I believe we're headed back to Salem and we're gonna see some witches swinging from trees.

I'm sorry. I should stop that. Pessimism is a nasty bitch, isn't it? All right. I'm gonna go now and think happy thoughts. Fluffy clouds. Fluffy clouds. Fluffy clouds. Fucking Bush. Fluffy clouds. Fluffy clouds.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I Must Break You

Every once in awhile, life provides us with an opponent. We're living our life, tum-te-tum, and all of a sudden, out of the ether, we're handed an antagonist. Sometimes, we have unknowingly brought this antagonist into our own lives, even.

Such is the case with what I am currently going through.

A number of weeks ago, I got a check that was a little larger than usual, due to the fact that the city of New York had decided to go ahead and increase teacher salaries from what they were during the Nixon administration. They're big-hearted guys, the Bloomberg folks.

Anyway, I took a look at my paycheck and took a look at the snow on the ground and took a look at the fact that my shitty Payless boots were a strong breeze away from basically crumbling off of my feet. I decided I should get me some decent winter footwear. I had an appointment for a haircut, so I ducked into a shoe store a block or so away from the sylist and took a look at the selection.

I should say here--as I think I've probably noted before--I'm not big on shopping. I don't browse. I tend to home in on what I want, make a bee-line for it and get the fuck out of there. That's how I roll.

So I looked at the boots they had. They had a sale on Timberlands. If you don't live in a large city, you might think that Timberlands are for hikers or lumberjacks. Not so. Timberlands--or "Tims"--are very popular with the kids these days. Pubescent feet that have never come within a mile of a pine needle or a mound of deer crap are routinely clad in these clunky beige motherfuckers. If I were to walk into class with Timberlands on my feet, it would be sort of akin to showing up in an Adidas running suit with a diamond stud in my tooth.

So I looked on another rack. I found some North Face boots that looked appropriately warm. The sales guy said they were water-proof, which is nice, 'cause I have an intense hatred for walking around in wet socks. I tried on a pair of eleven-and-a-halfs and they were just a little tight. So I had the fella bring out some twelves, which were a little too big. I tried the first pair on again and thought that they felt like the more comfortable of the two. The sales guy told me that I should opt for the tight pair, as they'd loosen up over time. I took his advice and bought them.

I should note here that, growing up, my father was of the mind that spending a shitload of money on shoes is not a good idea. They just wear out in the end, he figured, so why toss away all that money. I'm not saying my father was in any way cheap, he just wasn't a big fan of fashion footwear. Consequently, I've always had similar feelings and have done the majority of my shoe shopping at Payless and their ilk. This time, though, I wanted boots that were going to last. Boots that would not, like the pair I was sporting, crack apart and allow water to pour in upon my tootsies. So this time I forked over eighty-plus dollars for these North Face boots. I put them on outside the store and dumped my old boots in the trash.

As this was the Christmas season, I had to do a lot of walking. Much of it in my new boots. I discovered that walking in them didn't feel...good. It was, in point of fact, painful. Excruciating, one might say. The top of my right boot rubbed away a good amount of skin above my ankle. After a day walking around my school, the tops of my feet felt like someone had had at them with a meat hammer.

Then the transit strike happened. In complete desperation to get my shopping done before we left town, I took a Metro North train (not affected by the strike) down to Grand Central Terminal and walked all the way back up to Harlem, stopping along the way to make my purchases. By the time I got home, it felt like I was walking not on feet, but on giant exposed nerves. When we left town, I decided not to shlep the torture shoes along.

After we got back, I had to weigh my options. My wife was not thrilled that I'd dumped that much moolah on the shoes in the first place. If I threw in the towel now, the argument was lost. Lost, dammit. So I strapped those mothers back on my feet and I held in there. I felt like a rodeo rider, but walking instead of being thrown from a horse. I wore them for a week, ending every day in what some might term agony.

Then, yesterday, as I walked from my seventh period class to my eight period class, I noticed a slight lack of pain. My feet didn't feel as though they were about to detach themselves from my body in protest. The shoes felt a little looser. A little better.

So I just wanted to take a moment to say In Your Face, Shoes! I wore you despite incredible pain, so go fuck yourselves! You think you're all high and mighty because you make someone's toes bleed. Well I'm still wearing you, so what do you think of that, m'man? Ha ha! Ha fucking ha! Who's wearing who now, bitch?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You find yourself so full after weeks of holiday feasting that you have a really difficult time swallowing the bullshit that the Bush administration is feeding you about the Patriot Act.

Taurus: No matter how stressed out and emotional you find yourself this week, remember that it could be worse. You could be Tom Cruise's PR guy.

Gemini: You are full of optimism and hope as you look forward at this brand new year. You're kind of stupid that way, huh?

You got your iPod, you got your leather jacket, but Santa didn't manage to slip that cure for Herpes into your stocking, did he?

Leo: You really miss stamps that you lick.

Virgo: This week, My Name Is Earl moves to Thursday nights. Finally, the network listened to the hundred-plus letters you sent in. Truly, you are a powerful person.

Libra: Pathetic: Your underwear has been on backwards all day. More pathetic: This is the second day you've worn them and they were on backwards all day yesterday, too.

Scorpio: Despite your absolute certainty, the line is not "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a shit." Seriously, look it up.

Sagittarius: You are not in danger of being swept up in the Abramoff indictments, no matter how many times he ate at the Arby's where you work. Relax and go mix up some more Horsey Sauce.

Capricorn: Now would be a great time to read all those books you got for Christmas. If you weren't illiterate. In fact, you're having someone read this to you, aren't' you?

Aquarius: As far as sex games go, Mr. Rourke Punishes Tattoo is about as inventive as you get.

Pisces: You are an inspiration to everyone around you. Which is a pretty fucking sad comment about everyone around you, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Christmas Break: The Aftermath

How is it possible that I could be so completely blindsided by something that was completely not a surprise? It don't make no sense.

And yet, this morning, I found myself completely unprepared to get back into my work routine. It seems that ten days sans teaching is about what it takes to make me utterly forget how I used to do it. Good god. I woke up this morning with exceptional difficulty, the result of spending so many days in a row leisurely sleeping in until seven thirty or eight. I had to drink an entire pot of coffee just to get my ass out the door. It was pathetic.

This may have had something to do with the exhausting drive back from Ohio, made more difficult by uniformly shitty weather all the way across the accursed state of Pennsylvania. Weather so shitty, I might add, that we were actually forced to go to a Wal-Mart to buy new wiper blades half-way through the trip so that I could see the road on which I was supposed to be driving.

And of course I graded precisely none of the papers I'd brought home to work on on the 23rd. I guess I didn't really expect myself to get to it, but I'd held out some vague hope that I wouldn't drag them all the way to Seattle only to let them sit in the corner, ignored. As it turns out, they never even made it on the plane. I left them sitting at my parents' house in Ohio after a three-second struggle with my conscience that went something like this: "Oh, man. I'm gonna be really far behind if I don't take those with me and grade them. I really owe it to the kids to come back with something to show them...Y'know, fuck the kids. It's my break. I don't wanna think about that shit." Mind you, the actual struggle didn't take nearly as long as it took you to read that.

So I went to bed last night having done absolutely none of the work I should have. I sat down at my computer this morning and quickly tossed off a couple of lesson plans, which were actually not that bad for having been done in about a minute and a half each.

This is why I didn't assign my students any homework over the break. I had no illusions that they would've given any more of a rat's ass about working on my piddling little two-times-a-week class than I gave over grading said work.

I'm glad the day is over and I'm glad that I've got another long weekend in a couple weeks. Thanks, MLK!

So I get to spend the afternoon/evening putting away all the stuff we dragged back from the West Coast and Mid-West. We've both got really wonderful, thoughtful parents who made sure to get us really great stuff. And now we have to figure out how we're going to squeeze it into our tiny New York apartment.

We're also once again dealing with the manic attentions of our cat, Sven, who demonstrates his tremendous relief upon our return by velcroing himself to our bodies. It's very nice to have an affectionate pet, but goddamn. There's only so much rubbing up you can take at three o'clock in the morning.

It's nice to be back, but it would've been a lot nicer to have another few weeks off.