Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Hey...This Isn't What I Was Looking For

I don't normally write posts about Google searches that lead people to Hairshirt, mostly because I don't like admitting that I look at that shit, but also because it's rarely as interesting to other people as it is to the blogger.

But today, I'm a little tickled that my October 25th Virgo horoscope insulting viewers of Live! with Regis and Kelly brought so many people to my site:
Virgo: Finally, after a long, long year of waiting, you get to see what Regis & Kelly dress up as on their special Halloween show. You kind of creep me out, by the way.
Welcome, chowderheads!


Warning: Self-Indulgent Wallowing! Do Not Read!

Man, life really just blows sometimes. (Oh! The profundity!)

When you're having fertility issues, it doesn't take a whole lot to throw the thing in your face and send you into big heaping piles of despair. I mean, you walk down the street of a major city and you're going to see happy people pushing newborns. It just happens.

It happens when you've just found out you lost a baby. It happens when you're having trouble figuring out your next step and you're feeling pretty raw about it. And it happens on holidays.

Like Halloween.

I've always kind of liked Halloween. Not for myself; I loathe having to come up with a costume and I have no use for the holiday as it applies to me. But I like seeing little kids in costume. It's great. Who doesn't like seeing small versions of Superman and The Flash walking down the street next to a fairy princess?

Well, it turns out that, this year, I don't. I had some errands to run on the Upper West Side this afternoon and, as I walked from 86th to 96th, I was bombarded by parents with their one-year-olds dressed as chubby little lions and pumpkins and clowns. And I remembered again that, if things hadn't gone wrong, we'd have a tiny one to dress up ourselves right now.

I'm not about to jump off a building or anything. I'm not--I swear--trolling for sympathy. It's just that you can go for days (weeks, even) and feel fine about things and then you're in the wrong mood and you see something and it hits you.

Boy, Christmas is going to be fucking awesome, huh?

Monday, October 30, 2006


When the Comical Cow Outfit Just Won't Do Anymore

As it seems is the case every year, I'm once again scrambling to put together a costume for Halloween. It's really an Erma Bombeck-esque tale of domestic hilarity how hapless I am in the costume-putting-together department. I'll tell you about it sometime and we'll all have a warm chuckle over some cocoa.

Anyway, I've narrowed it down to a list of finalists and I'm looking for some feedback.
  • Monica Lewinsky in the soiled blue dress--I figure some time has passed, so there aren't gonna be a hundred other folks in the same outfit. Plus, it's still hilarious, when you think about it. I know there are some Republicans who have to be feeling pretty nostalgic right now for a time when they were going after a powerful Democrat.
  • Tender Heart Bear--Always my favorite of the Care Bears.
  • Drunk and Horny Ann Coulter--This is the scariest costume I could think of.
  • The "Two A-Holes" from SNL (Couples outfit with wife)--I don't know about you, but I just can't get enough of this sketch. It's as funny the five hundredth time they do the exact same thing as it was the first.
  • Rush Limbaugh doing Michael J. Fox--I'll just quiver and shake all night. Hilarity guaranteed!
  • Giant Douchebag--Actually, this is the same as the Rush Limbaugh costume.
  • Senator George Allen--I figure I can just walk around with a toilet and keep flushing my career down it.
  • Aaron Sorkin--Another simple one. I'll just masturbate and then talk endlessly about how important it is.
  • Batman--It'd just be really cool to dress up like Batman.
  • A Unicef Box--People will put money in me all night.
  • Skippy the Vomiting Clown--Just me in a rainbow wig, but it gives me an excuse to get really hammered.
  • Guy Impaled on a Puppy--Not quite sure how to do this one, but it'd be horrifying, spectacular and adorable all at the same time.
  • Pumpkin Bread--A lot of people might not "get it", but, damn, I'd be tasty.
Well, I don't know what I'm going to be. I'll figure it out, though. And then I'll have the best damn Halloween ever. Even though I don't really care for the holiday.


My In-Depth Analysis of the Stem Cell Debate (I'm So Wise!)

I'm working on an idea for a screenplay in which Michael J. Fox and the ghost of Christopher Reeve team up to boil Rush Limbaugh in a vat of his own shit. I'm thinking of calling it This Would Be Really Fucking Cool.

It could never happen, though. First off, there's no vat big enough to fit Limbaugh's girth and/or over-inflated sense of self-worth. Second, Michael J. Fox just seems like too nice of a guy to ever seek that kind of awesome revenge.

He's always come across as this really genuinely likeable person. Now, he's stuck with this fucking horrible disease and he's using his celebrity to push for scientific research that could benefit all of mankind (whether it's going to yield any immediate results or might instead take a few years is, to me, irrelevant, although it seems to really piss off Kurt Warner for some reason) and, because it goes against the religious beliefs of a bunch of fundamentalist jaggoffs, it somehow makes Fox fair game for Jabba the Limbaugh to mock him.

Limbaugh deserves to get a really, really nasty case of crabs. (I'd wish him dead or something, but that just seems like something he would do. So in the spirit of Marty McFly, I'll just wish the crotch-crawlers on him. The fat fuck.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Wake Up and Smell the Bad Movie

When I was young and single--way, way the hell back when--I was basically constantly scanning for cute women. Not in a serial killer kind of way or anything, it was just a very pleasant way to pass the time while walking down the street.

Every once in awhile, I'd spot a female in the distance and think, "Ooo. Nice. Joe likee." (In actuality, my thoughts were nothing like this, but let's go ahead and pretend I was a 70s-era swinger, for the sake of the narrative.) Invariably, when this lady got closer, it would turn out that my first, from-a-distance impression had been wildly inaccurate and that the gal in question was not nearly as reminiscent of Rosario Dawson as she was of Richard Dawson. And I would chide myself for being taken in by a misleading silhouette.

This is kind of how I felt last night when I rewatched X-Men III: The Last Stand.

I don't think I have to reiterate here what a gigantic geek I am, enamored of comic books and They Might Be Giants and other things nerdly. Because of my fondness for this sort of thing, I am generally predisposed to give the benefit of the doubt to more comic book-based films than I would otherwise.

This is not to say that my love of super-heroics blinds me completely. Fantastic Four was a huge bucket of shit. Daredevil should have been taken in for an emergency Affleckectomy and probably should have died on the operating table. The Hulk very nearly killed Ang Lee's credibility. I had a partial lobotomy in the late nineties to remove from my brain any lingering memory of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and both of the Joel Schumacher Bat-flicks.

That said, I've repeatedly gotten my geek on for the Spider-Man movies and the recent Batman and Superman pictures sent me into paroxysms of ecstasy.

I also really liked Bryan Singer's work on the first two X-Films. Though the comics weren't my favorite growing up, I still love the characters. And I thought--Hugh Jackman's Tommy Tune-esque physique aside--that Singer did right by them.

I was disappointed when the job of directing the third one went to Brent Ratner, but I went to see it anyway, trying not to pay attention to the reviews that said the quality had suffered greatly from this change at the helm. And I've got to say that I kind of liked it anyway. It wasn't as good as the first two, and maybe the writing was a bit lacking, but I had a good enough time that I didn't feel like demanding my money back or anything.

So, when Last Stand came out on video, I put in a birthday request for it. I've got the first two and I watch (and enjoy) them from time to time. Last night, there was nothing on the DVR for me to watch in the afternoon when I was doing dishes, so I plopped X3 into the DVD player and gave it a watching.

Ouch. I was so wrong. So very, very wrong. The writing wasn't just not as good as in the first two films, it was awful. Ian McKellen's Magneto picks up and moves the Golden Gate bridge. Why? So that we could see Ian McKellen moving the Golden Gate bridge. And the dialogue. It's like they took a set of Hackneyed Cliche refrigerator magnets, drew them out at random and pasted them into the screenplay. "What have I done?" asks Sir Ian, who probably used his own revulsion at having agreed to a three-picture deal as his motivation to get this drivel out of his mouth. Halle Berry, meanwhile, had become the biggest star in the franchise in the time since she was horribly miscast in the first film. Because of that, they had to pump up her part in this one. What a great idea. Let's give more screen time to the gal who made Catwoman. Just a wretched, wretched movie and I have to wonder how the hell drunk I was when I saw it the first time. Shame. Shame on me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Random Shit

Every once in awhile, I have a bunch of stuff floating around in my brain juice that doesn't, taken individually, merit even a lowly blog post. So I'm taking a moment today to address a few of these things.
  • First, I'm so goddamn wishing I didn't live in a media market in which there's a hotly contested Senate race. If I hear one more word about how crooked Bob Menendez is or how much Tom Keane, Jr. loves to lick George Bush's nuts, I swear to God I'm going to puke in a bag and mail half of it to each of them. November seventh can not fucking come fast enough for me.
  • Yesterday, I saw the most Pimptastic outfit ever. This dude was wearing, I swear, red leather pants with red fur down the sides, a shaggy red fur coat and a red leather hat. Plus big ol' sunglasses. My god in heaven. If I ever needed a prostitute, this is the guy I'd see, 'cause he look like he knew his way around a sexually exploitive employment situation.
  • My wife has been very nice about this year's World Series. She's encouraged me to go out and watch it and has even been awesome about its appearance on our own television. So, the other night, I sat and watched Game Three, long after I'd decided that I no longer wanted to watch. The game was not all that exciting to me, and it was made all the worse by FOX's craptacular broadcast, but I couldn't just throw away my wife's sacrifice. So I sat through it. Until the Roaming Retard with the toupee-looking hair who regularly popped up all around the ballpark did a segment in the outfield, promoting Taco Bell's promise to give free tacos to everyone in the country if there was a home run during a mid-game stretch. The hair-do turned to a kid in the bleachers and said, "You're here for the free tacos, right?" The kid looked at him and said, "I'm here 'cause it's the World Series." I think maybe the Announcer Man had a gun on him, because the kid hastily added, "Oh, yeah, but a free taco would be great, too." My God, FOX is smooth.


iPod, uPod, We All Pod for iPod! (Okay, Not All of Us)

It's Roundtable time again and, this week, Stephen over at Serenade in Green is mourning the closing of Tower Records. He's looking to settle once and for all this debate about the relative merits of iPods versus CDs. (Much in the same way there was once furious debate over the supremacy of 78s versus wax cylinders.)

Anyway, whether you're an MP3-downloading iPod junkie, a compact disc-ophile or a walking anachronism who hoards LPs, head on over to Serenade in Green and let your voice be heard.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Hairshirt Halloween Horror-scope

Aries: Dressing up as "that guy on Third Avenue that time who kept saying, 'Outta sight!' and then puked" may be too obscure a reference for your fellow partygoers.

Taurus: You're very much looking forward to your yearly appearance on the local morning talk show to provide a realistic portrait of Wicca in order to counteract the lingering image of the scary, wart-covered crone. Being whiny and sanctimonious always makes your Samhain so much more special.

Gemini: It's great that you're comfortable enough with your body to dress in a "sexy" Halloween costume, but you should probably come up with a better idea than "slutty flobotomist".

Cancer: Do not put your used jack-o-lantern on the railroad tracks. No matter how incredibly fucking cool it is to see a train smash the goddamn thing to tiny bits, you just really shouldn't. Even though it's awesome.

Leo: You need to re-think the games you've come up with for your kid's Halloween party. Bobbing for Coffee might not be the smash hit you think it will.

Virgo: Finally, after a long, long year of waiting, you get to see what Regis & Kelly dress up as on their special Halloween show. You kind of creep me out, by the way.

Libra: This Halloween will be like most Halloweens you've experienced: you won't get laid. On the plus side, you discover the joy of raspberry popcorn balls.

Scorpio: Not even the festive nature of Halloween can provide comfort now that we're living in a world without Project Runway.

Sagittarius: Despite your best efforts, the nursing home residents for whom you buy costumes, decorate cupcakes, mix up a non-alcoholic punch and hire a peppy jazz combo will still wake up November first and be depressed that they're living in a nursing home. Don't worry. Maybe your Thanksgiving-themed arts & crafts will liven things up.

Capricorn: Trick-or-treating children do not want to see your penis.

Aquarius: Somehow, your six-year-old just can't wrap his head around your argument that Halloween gives aid and comfort to the devil and therefore must be shunned. In fact, despite your promise that your church's Fall Festival Night will be just as fun, he's going to resent you for quite some time.

Pisces: There are only so many times you can pull out your giant roll-on prop and yell, "Head On! Apply directly to the forehead!" before your fellow party guests get fed up and stomp your ass into the ground.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


If You Want to Destroy My Sweater

When I was in high school, and I was first working an after-school job that put a tiny little bit of money in my pocket, I took some of my new-found cash and bought a black fleece cardigan sweater. I loved it. I wore it all the time.

When I went to college, the sweater came with me and it became my signature look. Four days out of five, I was wearing a t-shirt and my sweater. Some people wondered if, in fact, it was an organic part of my flesh.

I just liked how it looked. It was comfortable. It was unlike what other people wore. It gave me a sense of identity. When it got too worn and gnarly, I bought one just like it, and then I wore the living hell out of that.

Eventually, I met the woman who would one day become my wife. She didn't like the sweater so much. And she let me know it. And, painful though it was, I eventually stopped wearing it. After a few years, I even went so far as to throw it out. I decided that holding onto a look that nobody but me thought was the least bit cool was probably not a good idea, especially if it stopped me from having a relationship.

Tony Snow, the White House Press Secretary, told reporters this week that, while the Bush administration was not really going to change its policy in Iraq, they are going to stop using the term "Stay the Course." It doesn't, Snow said, "capture the dynamism" of Bush's policies. Dynamism. Right.

So, instead of doing something substantive to actually make some progress in the war and acknowledge their failures and the anger of the American people, they're changing the words they use to describe what they're doing.

This is kind of like what might have happened if, instead of giving up my sweater, I'd just started calling it a snood. We need to do what my then girlfriend might have done if I'd tried it: we need to dump the GOP's ass and find someone better.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Cleveland Rocks (In an Ironic Sense)

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in a long, long time. I actually watched a Cleveland Browns game. Or at least part of one. I went for a run in the middle of it. And, actually, I was grading student work as I sat in front of it. But still, it's more than I've done in a long, long time.

When I told my dad I was watching, his response was, "Why the hell would you wanna do that?" He's not very forgiving, y'see.

'Cause, like my dad, I was a fan in the old days. Back when the Browns were perennial playoff contenders/also-rans. Back after The Drive, but before The Betrayal. (And if you didn't have to click the links to know what the hell I was talking about, you are my brother and I love you. In a macho, Greatest Generation kind of way.)

My dad is still very, very bitter. We're talking like a three-day-old espresso kind of bitter. The man practically spits and makes the sign of the evil eye when you mention the Browns. When I talked with him yesterday, I asked, "Hey, you watching the Browns?" "The Browns moved to Baltimore years ago," he told me, and spit. He will have nothing to do with this changeling team that was left in their place.

Myself, I feel differently. I used to love the sport. I used to love the team. Since their return seven years ago, I've wanted to love them. But they just haven't held my interest. (Kind of like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, only with less pretension and no Timothy Busfield.) I've followed their stats in a half-assed sort of way on Monday mornings, but I haven't really been able to whip up any enthusiasm about them for the most part.

Yesterday, though, when I was flipping around cable and saw that their game against Denver was being aired on my local CBS affiliate, I couldn't stop myself. I switched to channel 2 and proceeded to watch them get the living shit kicked out of themselves. It was a little embarrassing, to be honest.

It was just like old times.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


'Tis Not the Goddamn Season

Out with my wife this morning and we stopped in at Gracious Home, which is a houseware place on the Upper West Side. I like the place; they've got a great kitchen section and they stock cleaners I like. Plus, they're not a giant nation-wide chain like Bed, Bath & Beyotch, so I like to support them when I can.

This morning, a full ten days before Halloween, Gracious Home put up their Christmas Decorations. I love Jesus as much as the next agnostic, but come on. October 21st? It's ridiculous. We haven't even had any fucking frost, for god's sake.

And y'know what's even worse than them putting this crap up early? Well, I'll tell you: I liked a lot of it and it kind of got me excited about Christmas. They had a neat glass ornament in the shape of the Empire State Building. Goddammit.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Falling on My Head Like a New Emotion

So last night, I'm out with my wife and my pal Deni--from Out of Tune fame--and we finish watching an advanced screening of a Zach Braff/Jason Bateman comedy. We go to Starbuck's, because this is New York and anytime you need to use a public restroom, you have to buy an overpriced espresso drink. We're standing there, waiting for my wife's grande iced decaf skim latte (which is a fucking pain in the ass to order, lemme tell you) and a song comes on the Muzak.

The song is "Here Comes the Rain Again" by the Eurythmics. It's an oldie, but a goody. When I say "goody", I mean to say that I've always been very fond of it, even though it's way fucking overdramatic. It's the kind of song you can enjoy making fun of. And I do. I do enjoy it.

I started singing it in my best Annie Lennox impression, with my cheeks sucked in and sorrow painted on my face with a wide brush. It was funny, you see. I'm funny. Everybody says so.

My wife got the joke. Deni got the joke. Y'know who didn't get the joke? Four young women sitting at a table with their vanilla bean Frappuchinos who proceeded to mock me and titter behind their hands.

That killed my little singing shtick faster than you can say, "sad old man". I really wanted to say something. Maybe explain gently, "No, no, girls. You don't get it. See, I'm not a pathetic douche, lumbering toward middle-age while I earnestly sing new wave tunes. This is comedy!"

I could, perhaps, have just unleashed pure rage on them. "What the fuck are you giggling at, you stuck-up, NYU-attending debutante assbags?" That probably would have shut up their laughing.

It might have been better to shift gears and attempt to convert them to Christ. Pretending to be a prostelytizing christian is a great way to avenge oneself on smug assholes who don't get your sense of humor.

I did none of these things. Instead, I slunk miserably away, grumbling to my wife and Deni and sipping sullenly on my mocha. This is why I don't sing karaoke. I don't ever want to be misunderstood by people who don't get that I'm mocking Kajagoogoo, not celebrating them.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Sex With the Proper Libra

Blogging at super-human speed, Sereena--hostess of this week's Roundtable--has not one, but two posts.

In the first, she raises the question of whether or not you fit your zodiac sign. As readers of the Hairshirt Horoscope know, I am an incredibly knowledgeable expert in that field and have many completely valid opinions. Not ironic or played strictly for comedic effect.

The second discussion is all about sex. This subject I know nothing about. Just ask my wife.

Anyway, the upshot is that you get two, two, two Roundtables in one! So enjoy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The Unenjoyable Kind of Misery

For the last month or so, I've had a really tough time writing anything. I've had to force myself to sit down even a few times a week and bang out a blog entry, to say nothing of the other things I need to get done. My mind has been, for the most part, on one thing. And it's not something that really fits in with what I normally do here. About a month ago, my wife and I found out--for the third time this year--that we'd lost a baby.

We started trying to get pregnant about a year and a half ago. We did a really poor job of it, though. We really never paid attention to things like ovulation or cycles or such. It was pretty half-assed, at first.

But then, one day in December, I came home and my wife greeted me at the door, which is not her usual modus operandi. She broke the news that we were pregnant. I hugged her. She cried. I cried. We went out for dinner.

When you've been trying for a decent amount of time and you finally hit pay dirt, it's an incredible feeling. Every waking thought was filled with babies. We got to do all the fun stuff pregnant couples do--reading What to Expect When You're Expecting; deciding on names; figuring out how to tell our families. I have to say that I have never been happier in my life.

Early January, we had our first OB appointment. We'd wanted to go earlier, but the eight week point was the soonest they would take us. The doctor's reaction to the ultrasound wasn't quite what I'd expected. She asked us if we were sure of our dates. The embryo, she told us, looked to be around six weeks, not eight. We didn't see a heartbeat, but the doctor told us that you don't always see one at six weeks. We left the appointment unsure of what we were being told. The doctor has said that there was a chance the embryo was "not viable". My wife had to do a series of blood tests to see if a certain hormone, hCG, was doubling like it was supposed to. We had to wait through a very long weekend before we got the results.

My wife called the doctor's office on the day the results were due and the nurse there said that things looked fine. Things were not fine, of course, and whatever nurse it was that told her that should be strung up by their ass hairs. After a couple of days of thinking we'd dodged a bullet, we got another call--this time from the doctor--telling us that, in fact, the bullet had hit us square in the chest.

I can't even really describe how it feels. For me, it was bad. I'd been walking on clouds for a month and then someone pulled them out from under my feet. As bad as it was for me, I know it was worse for my wife. In addition to the emotional weight of what happened, she had to deal with the physical aspects. We didn't tell a lot of people, because it didn't seem to be the kind of thing of which you notify people. One or two of the people my wife did tell came back with innocently spoken, but devastating comments of the "It's probably for the best" variety.

It was a rough couple of months. Eventually, we decided to try again.

In July, my wife had what's called a chemical pregnancy, which means that you miscarry before a heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound. You're just pregnant enough for your body to start producing hormones and long enough to get a positive home pregnancy test. Then it goes away.

So we had all of that in our recent history when we found out in August that she was pregnant for real again. It took a lot of the joy out of it, having to worry constantly that something was going to go wrong. All of the elation we experienced the first time was replaced this time by anxiety. We couldn't let ourselves get excited about it. Just in case.

At six weeks, we went in for the ultrasound. We were scared. The image popped up on the screen and we could see the embryo clearly, heartbeat and all. That made things seem real. We kind of let out our breath. The doctor told us that, if everything was good at the eight week point, we would be pretty much in the clear.

So we gradually started to feel optimistic. Instead of talking about the potential problems, we talked about the potential of moving to a two-bedroom apartment. We started talking about names again. I threw myself into providing my wife with the proper nutrition for an expectant mother. We got happy again.

When the eight-week visit came around, I remember being a little nervous, but not too bad. I'd gotten used to optimism again. So when we didn't see the tiny heartbeat this time, when the embryo didn't seem to have grown all that much, when the doctor kept readjusting the ultrasound's position, it took awhile for me to realize.

We still don't know exactly what's happening. We've done some tests but have no real answers. Our emotions have been all over the place and we've swerved violently back and forth between wanting to try again and wanting to look into adoption and wanting to give up completely. We're still in the process of dealing with it. We'll be okay, I know. But it sucks. I love my wife more than anything in the world. And the knowledge that I can't do anything about this is hard to deal with. It's not the fun kind of misery I usually deal with.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Bir-- Oh, Never Mind

So today I turn 36. Which is old. Really fucking old.

Here are a few thoughts on this completely unmomentous occasion:
  • I need to stop saying I'm 5'10 1/2" tall. It may be true, but it just sounds desperate, like I'm trying to seem superior to guys who are 5'10". I think I started making sure to include that half-inch when I was still in my teens and there was some chance that I'd eventually put on a spurt and make it to 5'11". That possibility no longer exists. In fact, it's only a little while longer until I start shrinking. I may as well just call myself 5'10" now and get used to it.
  • I have lost all patience for annoying goddamn TV commercials. I've grown curmudgeonly enough that I actually yell at the screen. The current number one target of my wrath is the horrifyingly awful follow up to the Head On commercials. The fuckwits have apparently gotten hip to the fact that their commercials are both unintelligible and irritating and have made a "clever" follow-up in which the worst actress this side of Andie MacDowell interrupts the commercial to mock it before declaring, "Head On, I hate your commercials...but I love your product!" Well, Head On, I also hate your commercials...and invite you to shove your product directly up your ass! Shove it directly up your ass! Shove it directly up your ass!
  • As I age, I am not the least bit freaked out by the notion of my own mortality. I am just increasingly depressed about the various and sundry ways I've fucked things up so far.
  • I've got an odd kind of mentality about my birthday and work. See, I don't make a point of telling people, "It's my birthday!" Because people who make you write their birthdays on your calendar are obnoxious jagoffs who are basically begging you to make a fuss over them. I don't want to do that. It's needy. It's pathetic. And yet, I get depressed when nobody wishes me a Happy Birthday all day. It's kind of like I'm a schizophrenic retard, isn't it? It gets worse. A few weeks back, a class of my students asked me if they could use my class period to throw a party for their Math teacher. I agreed, because I try to be a relatively nice guy when I can. And as they rushed around, putting up streamers and balloons and screaming at each other to hide quietly so as not to spoil the surprise, I thought, "They've never thrown a party for me." And it's true. I used to tell myself that it was just because my birthday came fairly early in the year and they weren't organized enough by then to put a party together. But this party was in late September, which shot that theory all to hell. The truth is simply that my students don't like enough to bother. And that bummed the shit out of me. Then I sat through the actual party itself. Which consisted of a gross-looking Carvel ice cream cake, cheese doodles, non-diet soda and music I don't like. By the time the period was over, I was actually pretty glad that they've never bothered to throw me a fete.
So tonight, I'm going to go get drunk. 'Cause, y'know, that makes everything better.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


My Kingdom for an Electric Griddle!

I like kitchen stuff. Which sucks, because I have the stereotypical New York kitchen. There's enough room for a handful of canned goods and my dusty fondue set, but not a whole hell of a lot else.

If I had my druthers, I'd have a ginormous kitchen. Enough counter space to host my own Pillsbury Bake-Off. Oven, microwave, convection oven, plus a spare for holidays. A six-foot spice rack with a remote-control spice robot. Mix-Master, Cuisinart, Waring Blender. A walk-in pantry with a hammock for those quick meal-prep naps. I'd walk into Williams-Sonoma and say, "I'll take one of everything."


That said, I do realize that there are some truly fucking pointless kitchen tools out there. So does Atul, who's hosting this week's Roundtable. Grab your gravy separator and head on over to Things I've Noticed to leave your opinions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You strongly suspect that your ex-girlfriend's sudden announcement that she might have given you Chlamydia may have been timed to have an impact on the upcoming election. Playing politics with STDs. Tsk, tsk.

Taurus: An old friend turns up unexpectedly. Which is disturbing, because you thought you'd integrated all of your personalities years ago.

Gemini: Tonight might be a good night to stay in and snuggle. Of course, the only thing you have to snuggle with is a bottle of pistachio schnapps, so...enjoy.

Cancer: It took your entire life savings of $14,000, but you managed to buy the outfit Uhura wore in the "Mirror, Mirror" episode. Congratulations. You've boldly gone where many geeks have gone before. Into bankruptcy.

Leo: You're super-stoked to watch NBC's new sitcom 30 Rock tonight. What the hell is wrong with you, anyway?

Virgo: Inexplicably, you find North Korea's test-detonation of a nuclear bomb incredibly sexy.

Libra: A friend might write a lame-ass story about you as some kind of fucked-up birthday present. You need new friends.

Scorpio: As you mourn the Yankees' first-round loss to Detroit, take comfort in the fact that all good people in the universe hate the fuckin' Yankees. Ya prick, ya.

Sagittarius: On a chilly autumn day like today, you feel like nothing more than torturing small rodents to death in your basement. You really don't react to the changing seasons like other folks, do you?

Capricorn: This week, you seriously consider getting zebra stripes tattooed all over your body. It must be said, there are mentally healthier ways to deal with getting dumped.

Aquarius: An intimate gathering of friends sounds like a great idea tonight. It would be so awesome if you had some friends with whom you could intimately gather.

Pisces: Why, oh why, you wonder, didn't Madonna adopt you?


The Return of the Son of Beigey, P.I.

The Beige One struggled against the ropes binding his wrists. He knew he wasn't going to able to free himself, but his wrist was itchy and the ropes did a nice job of scratching. He thought back to the Thai prostitute who was responsible for the itching and wondered vaguely why it would have spread to his wrist.

A slap across his face brought him back to the here and now (although he was still itchy). He looked at his captor; took in the twisted scar which divided her face jaggedly in half. If it wasn't for the scar, Beigey thought, she might be worth a dinner and a cheap hotel room.

"So let me get this straight, Mrs. Minniverer," Beigey said, "You're not only the damsel in distress in this little fairy tale, but you're also the big bad wolf."

The dame tossed her hair. Then she caught it and put it back on. "Is it wolfish to want to protect what's yours, Mr. Amador? Is it wolfish to expect one's mate to be monogamous?"

"Yes," Beigey shot back, "Yes it is. In fact, the more I think about it, the more apt I feel my metaphor is."

The broad raised her gun and fired a bullet into Beigey's shoulder.

"That's what I think of metaphors, Mr. Amador," she purred.

Beigey screamed inwardly. He hated getting shot. It was right up there with tobasco enemas on his list of Things to Do Only If Someone's Going to Pay You a Lot of Money or Give You a Steak. And somehow, Mrs. Minniverer didn't look like the kind of gal who knew her way around a T-bone.

The trick, then, was going to be to make sure she didn't shoot him again. Pretty tricky. Beigey figured her for the type of broad who got panicky when the screaming started, so he decided to play this first bullet hole cool as a frozen cucumber. Which is pretty damned cold.

"A bullet? You wound me, Mrs. Minniverer." Beigey grinned at his wordplay.

Her eyes narrowed like a tie from the sixties. "If you'd like another, please, by all means, use a simile."

"No, no," said Beigey, "one will more than suffice. Let's go ahead and dispense with the linguistic gymnastics, then, Mrs. Minniverer. I'm curious as to why a woman such as yourself would want to kill her husband."

The dame's nostrils flared. It was breathtaking. " 'A woman such as myself'? And what kind of woman would that be? You think because I have this scar that you know what I'm thinking because scarred women always think a certain way which is different than they used to think before they got all scarry? Don't presume to know what kind of woman I am, Mr. Amador. When you presume, you make a pre out of you and me."

Beigey blinked. "Huh?"

"It means I'll shoot you. Presumption is right up there with metaphors in the me-hating department." She pouted, which was actually kind of hot in a psychotic and scarred way.

"Mrs. Minniverer," Beigey began, because it's often useful to begin sentences with the name of the person you're addressing, "your husband was obviously a bastard. He got what he deserved. I'm not gonna argue with that. Now I think it's time that you got what you deserve."

"Which would be what, exactly?"

Beigey gave her The Look, for which he had recently filed the paperwork with the Patent Office. "I think you deserve a good three minutes of Beigey-Style."

The dame thought about it as she scratched her ass with the gun. She shrugged, "Okay."

And that was that.

(Happy Birthday, Beigey!)

Monday, October 09, 2006


Chuckling Warmly

My wife and I did the exact same thing this morning upon seeing the following headline on Google News:

"France Bans Smoking in Many Public Areas".

Both of us thought, "Oh my God. Courtney Love has been such a lousy mother. I hope that young woman is going to be okay."

Turns out, it's just the French realizing that tobacco makes them smell funny to non-smokers. Which isn't quite as interesting a story.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Various Ways in Which I'm (Comparatively) an Asshole

I like to think I'm a good person, basically. I like to think it because it gives me that nice, rosy glow inside. Y'know the kind, right? The sort of nice, rosy glow that you get from booze. Only without the booze. Hell, everyone likes to think of themselves as a good person. Hitler probably thought, "Wow. Without me, these trains would never run on time. I'm fuckin' good, bitch."

The thing is, as much as I want to think I'm a good person, there are all of these other people in my life who do fantastic shit and make me realize how much, in actuality, I really suck.

F'rinstance: I consider myself to be relatively friendly. Relatively. I don't flick boogers on people when they come up to talk to me. I rarely kick people in the shins without good cause. I do my best to be at least somewhat gregarious. But then I look at my upstairs neighbors. Their style of friendliness makes me look like Genghis Khan.

They seem to be on good terms with everybody on the goddamn block. They stop and talk with people, even when they seem to be in a hurry. They know the names of the guys who hang out on the corner. I've been saying hi to these same guys for four years and I still don't know their names. I know I was told their names once upon a time, but I didn't commit them to memory. (It's not like they know mine either, so I've got that in my defense.)

My neighbors are just really, really nice people. Which is aggravating, because I just can't make myself be nice enough that I don't have to feel bad about how un-nice I am in comparison.

Then there's my hosting ability. I like to think that I make people relatively comfortable when they stay at my place. I make sure they've got clean sheets on the fold-out and I don't go to bed without laying out fresh towels for them. I make coffee; good stuff, not Chock Full o' Nuts. But we've got friends in Chicago who make us look like the asshole innkeeper who made Mary and Joseph sleep near a pile of horseshit.

These are dear friends of ours from when we lived in Seattle and, whenever we've stayed with them (or just gone to their house for dinner), they go whole hog. I mean that literally. If you mentioned casually that you love pork, they would butcher a whole hog, select the choicest cuts and outdo Jacques Pepin in their presentation. They cook gourmet Korean. They track down mind-blowing pastries. They offer to drive you home if you're too crocked. It's fucking sick how good they treat guests.

I do my level best to remember people's birthdays. For a long time, I was pretty good about sending an e-card on--or really soon after--the big day. I'd hit send and feel all smug. Like, "Ha-ha, fucker! I remembered your birthday! What d'ya think of that?"

So, of course, we have to have a friend who's perfect about picking out an actual card and mailing the goddamn thing so it gets there on time. Whatever. I felt so goddamn ashamed after she sent a birthday card to my wife in May that I took action. In August, I took the action, so it wasn't, like, instantaneous or anything, but there was action. I went to a card store and spent about forty bucks buying cards for every single birthday, anniversary and bat mitzvah that was coming up that month. (There weren't actually any bat mitzvahs, but it always sounds better when you list more than two things.)

I figured I'd turned over a new leaf and I was feeling pretty good about it. Until I flipped my calendar on Sunday and realized that I'd missed my buddy's anniversary. It was on the first, y'see, and I hadn't bothered sneaking a peak, so, by the time I was aware of it, I didn't have time to get a card off and had to resort to a congratulatory e-mail. And there's the fact that my upstairs neighbor (the female half of the uber-friendly folk mentioned above) had a birthday late last month that I wasn't even fucking aware of.

Did you get that? I wasn't even aware! Didn't have it on my calendar. Didn't know about until after the fact. 'Cause I hadn't been thoughtful enough to ask. I ran out and bought her a card and baked a loaf of pumpkin bread for her, but then I didn't get it up there in an expeditious manner, so the loaf went stale and the card is still fucking sitting here. Now the birthday greeting isn't just belated. It's fucking laaaaaaate.

My God, I suck.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Who Are You? Who-hoo? Who-hoo?

Who would you be if you weren't you?

For this week's Roundtable, RW is asking how you think a relocation in your birth would change who you are. Personally, I'm fairly certain that, if I'd been born, say, in 18th century Ireland, I'd still fucking hate Jimmy Fallon movies. 'Cause that's just universal.

Anyway, head on over to Chasing Vincenzo and fill RW in on your alternate reality self.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You do not make 15-year-old boys "horny", nor should you send them text messages asking them if you do. Seriously, it's creepy for a congressman to do it and it's even creepier for a guy who cleans the bathrooms at Arby's.

Taurus: Starting a citizens' watch patrol to help make your neighborhood safer is a wonderful thing to do. Dressing up as Batman while you patrol, is probably ill-advised.

Gemini: You have not spontaneously developed a third nipple. That's just a zit.

Cancer: Jerking off with wrist weights on is not an adequate exercise program.

Leo: A long-lost love is attempting to reconnect with you, Leo. Not one of the cool ones who you still think about, but that really insane one who burned down your parents' garage and carved your name in their arm with a razor. Congratulations!

Virgo: Budgetary concerns are foremost in your mind this week. It's time to ask yourself if $137 just might be too much to spend every week on Cheetos.

Libra: You weren't talking in tongues last night, Libra. You were just really, really drunk.

Scorpio: You should not try making a bong out of your dead cat. First off, it's a very poor way to pay tribute to a beloved pet and second, it'll make your pot taste terrible.

Sagittarius: Yes, it's great that Lost has its season premiere tonight. But that doesn't mean that you should start dressing up like Mr. Eko again. You just don't have the shoulders for it.

Capricorn: You need to wash your clothes. Digging something out of the hamper, putting it on for the fifth time and stuffing the pockets with dryer sheets is not a good idea.

Aquarius: The good news is that you've cut back so much on cigarettes that you're only smoking after sex. The bad news is that you haven't had a cigarette for eleven months.

Pisces: I realize that you're only very recently married, Pisces, but it's about time you learned that you shouldn't initiate sex with your spouse by pulling your pants down and screaming "It's whoopie time!"

Monday, October 02, 2006


Tempus Fugit

It's Yom Kippur and, while I'm not required to atone for anything (the Agnostics' Handbook states quite clearly that we don't have to apologize for anything short of puking on a friend's new carpet), I do have the day off.

Which should probably equal doing something really fun or giving in to a full day of sloth. But I'm not doing either, because I feel guilty if I don't use time off to do something at least sort of productive. So I ran errands this morning and I'm about to start in on a huge pile of dishes, after which I'll put together my grocery list for this week and, if I have time, get to work on the laundry.

I really dislike myself sometimes. And I miss my early twenties, when I would look at a day off as a nice opportunity to get high and watch all three Star Wars movies in a row or something equally irresponsible.

In fact, I might just force myself to do something about this. I might pick up my phone and see if anyone's available to play an hour or so of frisbee. And I'll let my laundry continue to ferment in its own filth.

(Of course, somebody could make the point that it's somewhat ironic to spend twenty minutes writing a blog about how you don't waste time. And they'd have a point, I suppose.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006



My wife was out of the house fairly early this morning, snapping pictures of a race, which left me to my own devices for a few hours, never a good thing, especially on a Sunday morning when I'm likely to tune in to This Week with George Stephanopoulos and start yelling at the TV screen. Which I did. Then I watched Meet the Press.

And so I find myself with all sorts of anger which thwacking the television with a towel didn't dissipate. I'm so goddamn disgusted with so much that's going on with our government right now that I could puke. In fact, excuse me a moment, I think I'm going to go do just that.

[Two minute puke break.]

Ah. Now I feel refreshed. And I'd totally forgotten that I ate walnuts last night.

Anyway, the efforts by Republicans to hang onto their congressional majority are just astonishing. First, there's the usual partisan sniping. Like Bush on Thursday calling the Democrats the "party of Cut and Run" and bitching that they're "...endless[ly] second-guessing" him. Hey! Smirky McDumbfuck! That's their fucking job! If nobody's allowed to second-guess you, then we've got a monarchy on our hands. And as much I know you'd love to have unquestionable sovereignty, the rest of the world figured out what a bad idea that was around the time they signed the Magna Carta.

And the GOP knows that the usual strategy of questioning the patriotism of anyone who doesn't march in lock-step with the president isn't going to work this time. Which is why--and this may very well be just my paranoid delusion, but damned if I don't believe it--we had that "Republican Rebellion" over terror legislation that ended up with Bush getting exactly what he wanted. You can say that they actually compromised until you're blue in the face, but the bottom line is that Bush and co. have the ability to define torture as they see fit without worrying about having to face the consequences.

Which is why the whole thing seems to me like yet another bit of well-orchestrated chicanery from Karl Rove, just like 2004's 11-state "defense of marriage" push. Republicans hurting from close association with an unpopular president? Make it seem like they're standing up to him! Feh.

The whole thing might be pointless anyway. I read an article in the latest Atlantic Monthly about whether it might be better for the Democrats to lose this election. And I can see what the author was saying; the dems might benefit more from gaining just a few seats and playing the spoilers for another two years, during which things are probably going to get worse in the country anyway, which would keep the blame firmly on the right. The author spoke to a number of Democratic strategists who told him that's exactly what the party ought to do.

Not sure how I feel about that idea. I mean, in those two years, Democratic legislators could conceivably start to grow spines and have real momentum heading into 2008. It might also give them some time to find actual goddamn leadership. And direction. And ideas. On the other hand, throwing an election is just plain creepy.

Of course, the Democrats are probably too incompetent to successfully lose. Even with miniscule approval ratings for Bush; even with the whole Mark Foley-as-pederast thing blowing up all over the place; even with Senators like Maccaca-head in Virginia practically giving away their seats, the dems will probably find a way to blow it.

Which may explain why I vote for Democrats. I mean, they're kind of the Cleveland Indians of politics.


A Shot in the Dark

So this morning, around 4:45 or so--it's hard to fix an exact time, because...because it was a quarter to five in the goddamn morning--our door buzzer goes off, which sets the dogs barking like crazy, seeing as how they're dogs and all. I snap awake and get out of bed to answer the door. Before I take a step, I realize that I've removed my pajama bottoms during the night and am about to walk to the intercom with my stuff flapping in the breeze. (The actual reason for my de-pantsing remains, alas, a mystery; I checked with my wife and can report that they were not removed for any kind of sexy purposes.) I groped around on the floor, pulled my pajamas on and stumbled into the living room.

I jabbed the "speak" button and grumbled a "Hello?" I switched to the "listen" button and heard, "Sir, this is the police, we'd like to speak to you for a minute." Now, this is not something I like to hear under the best circumstances. If I was eating ice cream atop a mound of gold and had just been awarded the Nobel Prize, I still wouldn't want to be told the police wanted to talk with me.

I grabbed a sweatshirt to cover up my gray-haired man-boobs and padded down to the entryway in my bare feet. As I neared the front door, my landlord's door opened and he stepped into the hall, also in his PJs. Neither of us, of course, had thought to bring our keys and so we stood there for a moment in our not-quite-awake confusion, staring at the cops on the other side of the door. (Our front door has a deadbolt without a knob, y'see. You have to open it with a key, which has never thrilled me. If there were ever, say, a fire, and we ran out of the apartment in the state of dress I was in this morning, we would have to pause, remember where we'd left our keys and then run back into the inferno to fetch them before we could flee to safety.)

Anyway, my landlord went back into his place and grabbed his keys, came back and opened the door. And there stood two plainclothesmen right out of Law & Order. The shorter guy said, "Sorry to disturb you, but we had a guy shot outside here this morning and we need to know if you heard anything." Which is right up there with "Police. We need to talk to you." on the list of things I don't want to hear.

Now, I need to say here that I am a fairly sound sleeper. I can sleep through a noisy party downstairs, a wife with a hacking cough. Hell, one time in college, I slept through an evacuation of my dorm. I'm pretty sure I was drunk that time. Anyway, between my deep, deep sleep habits and the fact that our bedroom is at the rear of our apartment and The Shooting happened out front, I heard absolutely nada. My landlord heard nothing either. My friend who lives in the apartment above us, once he'd peeked his head down and determined that there was no emergent situation that would force us to flee into the night, shook his head and walked back upstairs without chatting with the cops.

I'm proud to say, though, that, even at quarter to five in the morning, I still had the presence of mind to correct the policeman's misspelling of my name on his notepad. I'm very militant about that.

So, once we'd said that we hadn't heard anything, the short cop said, "Okay. Well, don't worry or anything, the guy's okay, he was shot in the butt," and then he and his partner left, after which we locked the front door back up and made our way back to our apartments.

And now I'm wondering if the cop was trying to make the situation sound graver than it was in order to scare information out of us. Did he figure we'd be less likely to spill if he'd said, "Good morning. A guy was shot in the ass out here. Did you hear anything?"

Of course, I couldn't get back to sleep, 'cause I never can. So I leashed up the dogs and took 'em for their morning walk. My wife wasn't thrilled that I was walking the dogs right after receiving news that someone had been shot in our neighborhood, until I pointed out that the place was crawling with cops, so it was probably safer than usual.
I discovered that there are a surprising number of people on the sidewalks at quarter to five in the morning, some of them actually on the sidewalk. But none of them had a big, bloody wound in their ass.