Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Thursday, May 31, 2007


You Can't Spell "Massive Geek" Without G-E-E-K

God help us. God help us all. The Summer TV season is upon us and my friends, it does not look good. It is, in point of fact, fucking frightening.

National Bingo Night? Sweet-cream butter-eating Jesus, why? I spent six years calling out Bingo numbers in nursing homes and, let me tell you from experience, people: sorting one's anal lint by weight and color is more exciting.

This is on the air, along with shows about inventors and wannabe celebrity impersonators. This is the time of year when network execs get their revenge on us for not appreciating Studio 60, isn't it?

I caught an ad for a new Comedy Central special from Larry the Cable Guy last week. I thought to myself, "Y'know, I'd rather be boiled in pig shit than be forced to sit through this." Then I thought, "Well, that's kind of stupid, 'cause I wouldn't, really." But then I gave the idea of having to listen to this guy's fucking jokes for an hour some more consideration and I realized, "No, I would literally rather be boiled in pig shit than watch this."

The viewing options are so goddamn pathetic that we watched the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee tonight. I've seen Spellbound. I went to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I don't need to see anyone else spell words for the rest of my life.

But it was either this or watch the episode of The View that my wife taped yesterday, so I sat there. And I watched the geeks. I always kind of thought that knowing that Tim Drake is the third Robin made me something of a geek. But these kids put me to shame.

There was the kid whose hobbies were listed as "Parakeet breeding and playing the Irish tin whistle." There was the kid who obviously spent at least an hour a day lovingly brushing all twenty-three hairs of his 'stache. There was the Canadian runner-up, who--according to his bio--enjoys curling and baking. (I'm guessing he bakes his own curling rocks.) The vicarious joy I felt whenever one of these kids correctly spelled a word was greatly tempered by my vicarious sorrow that none of them will ever get laid.

Finally, the bee was won by a home-schooled kid who has a more-than-borderline-creepy relationship with his mom. The conversational skills he displayed during his post-win interview really served to underscore my suspicion that the home-schooling movement is really all about turning out a kid who's so socially awkward that he/she never wants to leave home.

Still, I'd much rather watch the spelling bee than Larry the Cable guy. "Boiling pig shit, party of one?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Advice to the teenage Aries attending Prom-- Memories of this night will be something you treasure forever, so don't ruin the night by doing something irresponsible, like dumping a bucket of pig blood on the shy chick with telekinesis. Seriously, just don't do it.

: Your wildest dreams have come true as Xanadu finally opens in previews on Broadway! Now we are here!

Gemini: A minor injury could be headed your way this week, Gemini. This could be a paper cut or a slight amputation. The stars are a little cloudy right now, so just watch yourself around slicey things.

Cancer: Kielbasa? No! Bratwurst? Si!

Leo: The weather is so nice and everything in your world is so genuinely pleasant that even the voices in your head are singing a happy tune instead of urging you to feast on the flesh of those who cross you. Enjoy!

Virgo: You're thanking your lucky stars that the summer movie season is finally in full swing, allowing you to bask in the glory of Delta Farce.

Libra: What's that? You're looking for a new pick-up line? Try this on for size: "Whoa! Nice saddlebags, there, hoss!" Guaranteed to get you so much play.

Scorpio: Your library card is about to expire. Kind of freaky how I can tell that without even seeing you, isn't it?

Sagittarius: The Rosie/Elizabeth feud has shaken you so very deeply that you're not sure if you can ever trust the world again. Do everyone a favor and just lapse into a coma right now.

: Try your hand at artistic endeavours this week, Capricorn. If only to give everyone around you something to laugh at.

Aquarius: This week, you would be wise to heed the advice of the ancient Chinese proverb, "A man who seeks to hit another with a turd hurled from a slingshot winds up with shitty hands." Okay, it's no "Kill one to warn a hundred", but it has its uses.

: Try to take other people's feelings into consideration. For example, you probably shouldn't point and laugh at burn victims.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Cheapness VS Fear

My wife left me explicit instructions to install our air conditioners today. It's been terribly hot the last few days and our poor hair-laden dogs have been suffering greatly. But, see, I'm balking. I hate, absolutely hate, the idea of putting the damn things in this early in the year. They drive our electric bill up like fucking crazy and they're ugly, besides.

And so I'm defying my wife. Oh, I'll pay a heavy price. I'll surely receive a beating for this. She may even break out the belt. But so greatly does the idea of premature air-conditioning rankle me that I'll risk the broken limbs my wife will surely dole out for my impudence.

It's cooler today and much more pleasant in the apartment. Our dogs seem very much comfortable. Why, then, should I be forced to go against my very nature and put those deuced machines in our windows? I shan't! I shan't, do you hear me?

To clarify, my wife does not actually beat me and is, in point of fact, a lovely and gentle person who never beats anyone. Unless they've got it coming.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Here's the Thing

Getting older is not all that bad. Sure, there's the grey chest hair and the increasing difficulty ridding oneself of that sad, sad layer of back fat. But there are pleasant things about the aging process, too.

One of said pleasant things is a greater understanding of who you are and acceptance of that person. My college years and early twenties were marked with a loathing of who I am and a desperate yearning to make myself more interesting. Which is why I went through a series of moronic and inorganic attempts to cultivate a "thing".

Because cool guys so often had a "thing", y'know? That guy carries his guitar everywhere and plays spontaneously. This guy has a deck of cards with him at all times and practices shuffling them when he's bored. The other guy dresses like Jimi Hendrix. That's their "thing".

But all of those cool guys had "things" that probably evolved over time and came from the depths of who they were. Their "thing" said something about their history and was as much part of them as their right hand.

Not fully grasping that these things can't be forced, I went through a series of ill-advised attempts to basically graft on a new right hand. From about age eighteen through about age twenty-three, I tried to make each of the following my "thing", to varying degrees of utter failure.
  • The leather fedora-- I begged my parents for this one Christmas, in the hopes that it would make me look more like Indiana Jones. I was so self-conscious about how out of place it looked on my head that I wore it maybe twice.
  • The coin-- For reasons that I can no longer recollect, I took for a time to carrying a fifty-cent piece in my pocket and flipping it. Maybe I was trying to look like Warner Brothers gangster, I don't know. Whatever I was going for, I usually ended up looking like The Schmuck Who Has to Pick His Coin Up from Beneath Your Chair.
  • The yo yo-- I actually spent about three months carrying a yo yo with me all over the place. I never got better than sub-mediocre at it and I also never got laid while carrying it.
  • The buttons-- There was a period of time when I sought the assistance of "funny" buttons to express my individuality. At the time, it seemed to make sense to express my individuality through the purchase of something that every other customer of Stan's Novel-T's could also use to express their own individuality.
  • The perm-- I don't really have anything else to say about that one.
In the end, I wound up making a black cardigan sweater my "thing" and grew, after a time, to realize that none of us actually need a "thing" to make us who we are. Who we are comes not from the things we carry, it comes from the stupid, stupid shit we say and then wish we could take back. And that, I've got in spades.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Five Pies Gloriously Wasted

As I stood there yesterday with blood pouring down my face and a swarm of students inexplicably running their hands over the besplattered plastic, I found myself thinking, "Y'know, that went better than I'd thought it might."

I have bitched before about the message that's sent by holding a "graduation" for our eighth grade students. I still feel the same, but I found out this year that our kids actually have to pay $175 to participate in this thing. For some of these kids, that's a whole lot of money. I have no real idea what the hell that money goes for. Space rental? Shitty buffet lunch? Solid gold cap and gown? I don't know, but I know it's a lot of dough for "at risk" kids. So, after a faculty meeting wherein this issue was raised, I got to thinking of ways to raise money to help defer the costs for kids that needed it.

The big idea I came up with--with some help from my wife--was to raffle off the opportunity for a kid to hit me in the face with a pie. I'm not an incredibly popular teacher and I know there are kids who'd love to hit me with something, so why not give 'em the chance and make that something a pie?

I went to my principal with the idea and he said okay. He may not actually have been listening to me, but he said okay toward the end of my pitch, so I took that as the go-ahead I needed. I took the idea to other faculty members, who said we should get a bunch of teacher for it, which seemed like an even better idea, 'cause all of us have someone who hates us and would pay for this chance at sweet and creamy revenge.

So I set the date for May 25th, I lined up nine volunteer teachers and I asked an eighth grade teacher to have two of her kids sell the raffle tickets for the two weeks prior to the event. Everything seemed to be set.

Then, this week, I hit a couple of snags. One snag was the principal, who apparently hadn't actually been listening. He approached me all concerned. He was worried that these thousands of pies I was preparing would lead to a whip-cream-fueled riot in the playground. Giving hundreds of students license to go insane the last period before a holiday weekend seemed, he felt, the height of madness. So I had to re-explain that, no, there would be only five pies and that, in fact, only the five students whose winning tickets were drawn would be allowed to throw anything. There might be some very enthused kids, but the potential for a post-Rodney Kind verdict sort of melee was actually quite low.

The second snag was a little more bothersome. The teacher who had agreed to arrange the ticket sales hadn't seen the fundraiser as quite the priority I'd hoped. As a result, her students had only gone around twice by Thursday and had sold a whopping seven tickets. At two dollars apiece, that meant that we'd raised fourteen whole dollars to aid her students with their burden. That was annoying.

So yesterday morning, I packed up my pies and trundled them up to the school. I snagged a group of seventh graders and had them make the rounds for last minute ticket sales. We managed, in forty minutes, to triple the amount of tickets sold, so that was nice.

I got a roll of plastic bags from the maintenance department and created a little splatter-catching backdrop for the event. Then I waited. The entire middle school crowded around at 2:00 and we had to use an electric cattle prod to keep the kids far enough back that everyone could see. I dumped the pitiful little pile of tickets into a measuring cup and we started drawing.

The first kid whose name we pulled was a nice little sixth grader with glasses. He bounded through the crowd and selected his homeroom teacher. The teacher stepped into place. The kid wound up and delivered a rocket right to the teacher's face. I'd sort of expected the kids to do a nice gentle toss, which is how I'd told them to do it, but this kid did his best C.C. Sabathia impression.

The pie, I've got to say, worked perfectly. I hadn't crafted a lovingly homemade tin of deliciousness or anything. I'd basically just wanted them to look good. Store-bought cookie crust, a little bit of chocolate pudding in the bottom and an assload of Cool Whip. Upon hitting the teacher's face, the pie fairly exploded. The crust broke apart, the pudding ran down his face and the Cool Whip went everywhere. The kids went ape. They dug it. And my teacher buddy played it up, too. He did his best Hulk Hogan impression and yelled, "More! I want more!"

But the kids seemed to have some sense of fair play or something. Maybe they just wanted to spread the humiliation thin. Whatever it was, the winning students chose an un-bespattered teacher each time. Which meant that five us got it, all told, including my assistant principal, who was a great sport about it.

My turn came on the third ticket. This was a girl who'd bought about eight tickets and took great joy over the last three weeks or so letting me know that she was gunning for me. Her strategy paid off. I knew my number was up as soon as I pulled the ticket and saw her name. I took my place on the plastic and she threw that pie with everything she had.

If you've never had a pie thrown in your face, let me just recommend right here and now that you do it at the first opportunity. It is one of my favorite sensations. Not among my favorite sensations is when something goes slightly askew and the aluminum pie plate cuts a gash in your nose so that blood literally pours down your face. I didn't actually notice anything until my assistant principal handed me a handi-wipe with a look of pure horror.

The student who'd thrown the pie felt really bad about having mangled my face, but I assured her it would heal and wished her a pleasant weekend.

All in all, a mixed bag. We raised hardly any money, but the kids and the teachers had a great time. I'm sure the maintenance crew wasn't happy that I'd done such a poor job calculating how much plastic I'd need to put up. The side of the building looked like a giant had puked on it. Also, I wish my nose didn't have a huge gash in it. But that pretty much goes without saying, I suppose.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Get Lost

Everyone has, once in awhile, one of those days that makes you want to drink. Beer, vodka, lye, you know what I mean. The last month or so of the school year is made up of basically nothing but those days. And then, today, I had what I seriously hope is the crescendo in my shit symphony. Students completely around the bend. Colleagues letting me down to the point where I wanted to drop-kick them. Plans gone just shamefully awry.

I won't go into any great detail, 'cause who really wants to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of a teacher whining about what crusty little jackholes seventh graders are? Not me.

Instead, I'm going to whine a little bit about last night's season finale of Lost.

Now, I'm a fan. I've stood by the show through The Rise of the Tailies and even, God help me, the Paolo and Niki debacle. I'm not so obsessive that I'll scour the internet reading up on every half-assed fanboy theory like some wives I might mention, but I'm a fan.

Last night left me a little meh. I guessed fairly early on that we were seeing Jack in a flashforward, mostly because I figured he had to be living in some horrifying futuristic society where craptastic beards like that are allowed to exist. And let me say that, while I don't mind the idea of flashforwards--because they've done about all they can do with Jack's past; I believe the herpes-ridden Bai Ling tattoo episode proved that--I'm not sure what the point is. Is this a Christmas Carol sort of future that our castaways can avoid by being nicer to Bob Cratchit? Or is this meant to give even more of a tragic feel to the time they spend on the idyllic, yet unbelievably hostile and dangerous, island?

I'm even more bothered by the introduction of yet more bad guys. The Dharma Initiative is a bunch of sinister scientists! No, wait, The Others are hyperintelligent savages who killed the Dharma folks. Beware! Okay, hold on. Many of the Others are just dandy, but now there's these fake-rescuey fuckers from the boat! Yaaaahh! Pick a goddamn bad guy, allright?

And I realize that we've got three more seasons to go, so they're not about to give away the motherload or anything, but would it kill 'em to answer one or two fucking questions before they dump twenty more in our lap?

Again, I'm a fan. I've enjoyed the last half of this season more than I've enjoyed the show for quite some time. But if you keep stringing us along without giving us even the teeniest little bit of closure on an item, we're going to kick sand in your face and walk on down the beach.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Faced with an unpleasant task? Remember: vomiting gets you out of almost everything.

Taurus: You thought you had a rough time of it today? Wait until tonight, when you spend your entire REM cycle dreaming about a naked and horny Larry King.

Gemini: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and so does an utter lack of insurance.

Cancer: Good food and good friends factor heavily into your plans this week. Mostly, because you have neither. Enjoy your Fritos, you lonely fuck.

Leo: When the stacks of dirty laundry in your bedroom start to brush up against the ceiling, you need to take some action.

Virgo: Your life is feeling a little out of control at the moment. This makes it a good time to start attempting to control someone else's life.

Libra: Don't forget, Libra, that you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And then you get the supreme pleasure of having a jar full of fly-strewn honey. Mmmm.

Scorpio: You've always thought of yourself as a sort of Superman, but the truth is, you're really more of a Red Bee. And if you actually get that reference, you're a huge fucking geek.

Sagittarius: Try not to be such a stick in the mud. Because, really, who the hell wants to be around a muddy stick?

Capricorn: You always like to think that there's no problem that can't be solved by hiring a hooker.

Aquarius: Staring at someone's tits is not flirting.

Pisces: You need to come up with a better Personal Power Mantra than "Lather, rinse, repeat."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


It's What's Upfront That Counts

While I was on the couch this weekend, I caught up on all the news that came out of last week's upfronts. For anyone not lucky enough to be in the business like myself--I did a commercial when I was 15, so...I think I know what I'm talking about--upfronts are when networks trot out their fall line-ups like blush-smeared whores at a cathouse so advertisers can decide who they want to get into bed with. (Like how I carried that metaphor all the way through? I'm good like that.)

And man was I disappointed. This is the best they can do? I mean, yeah, I'm totally into the idea of a sitcom based on the Geico cavemen commercials. I've been saying they should do that for a year. But some of this other stuff... What were they thinking? The Bionic Woman? No offense, but Lindsay Wagner's like seventy or something. How do they expect her to do all those stunts? Pushing Daisies? Do they actually expect anyone to tune in for a drama about a florist? Let me tell you, folks, it ain't that complicated. You throw some baby's breath in a vase with a few mini-carnations and you're done. I just don't see where they're gonna get their season-ending cliffhanger out of that.

So, after seeing all the utter shit the network brass came up with, I thought I'd do them a solid and offer to bail them out. I've got five ideas here. Five solid gold, can't-fucking-miss ideas. And I'm willing to give--give--them to any network that wants them. In return for a hundred thousand dollars. This is a steal, especially for networks that currently suck thirty-one flavors of ass. (I'm looking at you, FOX!)
  • Dolphie and the Jews--Here we have a hilarious sitcom that also teaches us important lessons about tolerance and second chances. When an embryo cloned from Hitler is accidentally implanted in the womb of a nice Jewish gal from Brooklyn, can hilarity be far behind? Watch what happens when lil' Dolphie starts plotting the death of all his classmates at Hebrew school! It's like Schindler's List meets Diff'rent Strokes!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: the Series--These movies have been such a big, big hit because they capture that special something the public loves so much: computer graphics. The good news is that the TV version will feature those same awesome graphics. The even better news is that we don't have to put up with that pretentious Johnny Depp. Instead, meet Jack Sparrow's younger brother, Tim Sparrow, played by David Spade!
  • Also Heroes--NBC took a step in the right direction when they announced their little mini-series Heroes: Origins, which is designed to be kind of like Heroes, but without all the characters and plot. It gives us a little bit more of what we like, but different. I think they need to take it a whole lot further, which is why my Also Heroes works as sort of the CSI:NY of the franchise. Instead of focusing on the super-powered folks, Also Heroes takes a look at those who can't do anything special, but like wearing capes and masks. And they go around and taunt litterers and stuff.
  • Plants--This is the next generation of reality TV. Instead of having to manufacture a bunch of interpersonal drama, like Work Out or the Nightly News, this is just twenty-two weeks of filming plants as they grow. And the great thing is, there's just unlimited potential here. One season, you can feature ragweed, the next season stars an acre of corn.
  • Mr. Roboto--I've saved my favorite for last. This is a series I've been praying they'd make for the last twenty-plus years. It is nothing less than an episodic television version of the Styx classic. My God, this is good. Who wouldn't tune in, week after week to see how long Kilroy can outwit his despotic robot masters? You think Battlestar Galactica does a bang-up job working social commentary into a sci-fi plot? Just you wait.
So I'll be waiting, networks. You can call me any time. I'm going to save network television, one brilliant show at a time.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Bon Jour, Monsieur Toilet!


There was one big question floating around my household this weekend and, unfortunately, it wasn't "Who's gonna win the Preakness?" Instead, we were asking, "Is this food poisoning or a virus?"

That's not an enigma with which anybody likes to be faced, I wouldn't think. But it had some importance to us, as one answer would spare my wife the same fate as myself, while the other would doom her to a similar drippy misery.

Whatever the hell it was--we never actually figured out the root cause--it was a virulent motherfucker. Went from zero to sixty in no time flat. One minute, I'm doing the dishes and half-assedly watching Mission: Impossible III, the next minute I'm whole-assedly doing my best impression of Niagra Falls.

I suppose it's possible that the whole thing was a reaction to watching a Tom Cruise movie, but I should point out that I've always been able to sit through Jerry Maguire with practically no gastrointestinal distress.

This sort of thing is absolutely no fun anytime it happens. But it's worse when, instead of being a one-off sort of event, it comes in marathon form. And so it did. All goddamn day. Which sucked massive balls because this was my wife's birthday weekend and we had to cancel a celebratory dinner with friends. "Hi. I have a reservation for four at seven? Yeah, I have to cancel because I can't control my bowels."

Then came the puking. That was fun. Note to the curious: When you're drinking Fruit Punch Gatorade to keep yourself from dehydrating due to excessive fecal fluidity, your vomit turns completely and utterly red. This only happened once, thank god, but I did half-way fill a nice-sized bucket.

The other issue continued into the next goddamn day, which meant my wife had to leave me behind to get any NYC enjoyment out of her special weekend. I, meanwhile, got to watch a substantial portion of the Heroes marathon on SciFi. Which is cool and all, but, if faced with the choice, I'd much rather have solid stool.

I felt a million times better by this morning, which meant I was plenty healthy to go to work. Yay! Why, I'm asking, can't The Runs have a better sense of timing?

I'm hoping, at least that maybe I lost a pound or two. 'Cause I'd hate to go through all that with nothing to show for it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Sayonara, Scumbag!

All right, I admit there's something something unseemly about gloating over one man's death and another man's job loss in the same week, but...

Hey! Wolfie! Karma's a fucking bitch, isn't it?


It's a Thin Line Between Hate and Hate

Deni is hosting this week's Roundtable and he's decided that the world has too goddamn much love in it, so he's focusing on hate. Y'wanna know what I hate? I hate friggin' pimples on my ass. That's what I hate. Oh, and Ben Affleck movies.

Anyway, whatever it is you hate, head on over to Out of Tune and spew some venom.

I should also note here that this is going to be my last Roundtable. RW Spryszak was nice enough to invite me to join a long while back and I've had a very nice time with the nice people, but it's time for me to focus on other stuff for awhile. And so, I say Aloha as Roundtable sails away.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: To paraphrase Jerome Kern: "Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, you gotta expose your genitals in public." Don't let indecent exposure laws keep you from being who you are, Aries.

Taurus: Nobody's going to think less of you for being glad Jerry Falwell's dead. But wearing a t-shirt of Falwell felating a donkey in hell might be a bit much. (Although I won't argue that that's not what's happening.)

Gemini: So your mom forgot to crumble potato chips on top of the tuna casserole. Is that really a reason to stab her? Or are you maybe just a little bit psychotic?

Cancer: Don't forget to take some time this week to stop for awhile and pet your dog. That's a bond you need to appreciate more often. If you don't have a dog, then stop and pet a homeless person. They won't mind.

Leo: The fact that you're sexually attracted to Big Bird should perhaps worry you more than it does.

Virgo: Was that just a fart? Or was it something a little more? Perhaps you'd best investigate.

Libra: Your fondest wish is granted this week as you land the part of Liesl in your local community theater's production of The Sound of Music. This is pretty inspired casting, seeing as how you're 36 years old and a dude. I just feel sorry for the kid playing Rolf.

Scorpio: Don't just sit there, blow somebody!

Sagittarius: There are better ways to explain conception to your children than a sock-puppet musical starring Charlie the Dancing Uterus.

Capricorn: Contrary to what you've read on the internet, injecting Botox into your nutsack is not a good way to give your balls a more youthful appearance.

Aquarius: Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies sound pretty good right now, don't they? They definitely sound better than herpes. But guess which of the two you're getting.

Pisces: You're still real sceptical of this whole "eating less and exercising" approach to losing weight. The belt that stimulates your muscles while you sit on the couch eating Ho-Ho's and watching Dancing with the Stars just seems like a sounder approach.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Arrivederci, Douchebag

On behalf of secular free-thinkers everywhere, allow me to say: Don't let the Wrath of God hit you in the ass on the way out.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Dadgum Guv'ment: A Stamp Project Post-Mortem

And so ends The Stamp Project. In failure. In abject failure. The price of mailing a letter first class has, as of today, gone up two more pointless cents and I was unable to burn through all of the thirty-nine cent stamps I'd acquired since the last price increase. I have, in fact, twenty-nine of the old buggers left. I'm now faced with the wholly unpleasant prospect of having to slap a butt-ugly two-cent stamp on the next twenty-nine envelopes I send out.

I tried. I did. I wrote letters. I sent birthday and Mother's Day cards. But I never got any actual correspondence going. And it's just kind of pathetic writing to someone you don't see/speak to on a regular basis...and then writing to them again without having received any response. *sniff**sniff*

So I must now turn to the question of why people didn't write me back. It's possible that every single letter I sent out was addressed wrong and I'm going to get a whole bunch of mail stamped "Return to Sender". Which will force me to break out into a really weak Elvis impression that nobody's asking for.

The recipients of my missives may have all sprained their wrists in bow hunting accidents. Sometimes, when you've got a ten-point buck in your sites and you're about to send an arrow through his carotid, things get crazy and people get hurt.

Dear God, what if I've been placed on some sort of Orwellian watch list by the government and all the letters were intercepted by Alberto Gonzales's goons, to be taken to a dark room and scanned for coded instructions to my terrorist minions?

Perhaps, in a drug-induced haze, I stuffed the letters not into a mailbox, but into the mouth of some guy begging for change. That'd be more likely if I'd been doing drugs. Still, Tylenol Sinus can cause some wicked hallucinations.

Well, whatever the actual reasons, the Stamp Project is over now and I felt like I had to be man enough to admit defeat in the only public forum left to me now that I've been banned from Open Mike Nite at Charlie's Java Shack. (This is due to a haiku gone horribly, horribly wrong, but that's a story for another day.)

I close now with these words to the government who so heartlessly raised the price of postage in the full knowledge that so many of us would be stuck with useless stamps: You suck, guys. Seriously. You suck week-old bong water. With a straw.

Friday, May 11, 2007


My Life Doesn't Live Up to a Mark Harmon Movie

Okay, let me start off by begging everyone's forgiveness for yesterday's horrific wank-session of a post. I should realize that, when I'm feeling as whiny as that, I should avoid writing and do something more constructive with my time. Like spreading butter on my cat or something.

I spent some time in the interim trying to figure out just what the living fuck was wrong with me and I think it boils down to this: Yesterday, I took the necessary steps to secure a position teaching summer school. *shudder*

On some levels, summer school doesn't sound all that bad, does it? You're working with a greatly reduced class size. You're only working about four hours a day. You're not working on Fridays. You're allowed to show up to work in a Speedo. (I'll have to double-check that last one, but I'm pretty sure that's what my principal said.)

Then there's the possibility that summer school could be like Summer School. I mean, it's every teacher's dream to inspire a group of lovable slackers while simultaneously wooing a still-svelte Kirstie Alley and fending off the advances of a young Courtney Thorne-Smith.

The problem is that real summer school is never like this. There are no special-effects-creating underachievers who look up to you. The kids never hatch any grand schemes to save your job when you run afoul of the villainous Vice Principal. And the learning never happens in a wonderful time-saving montage.

The reality is that you're stuck day after day with a bunch of behavior problems who want to be there just about as much as you do and who are so goddamn bored by your attempts to teach them the shit they didn't want to pay attention to the first time around that they find all sorts of awesome ways to liven things up, most of which have to do with making your already miserable life even more so.

Add to this the fact that I'm a cluster teacher and I'm used to being in the enviable position of having my kids in sanity-saving forty minute doses. In summer school, you're only there for four hours, but your with the kids for the whole goddamn time. Which means if they're insane when the day begins, you're gonna deal with four soul-crushing hours of the insanity. I was stuck teaching summer school the year I started my training for this lifetime of masochism and I can tell you, it is not fucking pretty.

Now, having said all this, I must state for the record that I'm doing this of my own free will, even if I'm doing it as goddamn grudgingly as I can. My wife and I are buried at the moment under a mountain of debt and this really is the easiest way of giving us a little breathing room. I considered, for a short period of time, trying to pimp, but I just look too retarded in purple. It's not my color. So summer school was really the only option I had left.

I ask this of you: as you begin your long, carefree days of sipping a cold beer while you dip your feet in the cool, clear water of a lake, take a moment. Take a moment to think of poor old Joe, stuck in a classroom in the Bronx, futilely attempting to teach long division to a kid who just set fire to his shoes.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Calgon! Take Me Away!

Beigey is hosting Roundtable this week and he's feelin' the need to chillax. Head on over to Missives from the Beige and give the man some suggestions for ways to soothe his jangled nerves.


Massive Self-Loathing Can Be Fun

Y'ever just really hate yourself? I do. There are days when I simply make me want to fucking puke. I'm at that point right now, in fact, which may have something to do with why I bring this subject up.

I'm a lump. I'm a big fucking useless lump and I'm just sitting here watching as my life pisses down the side of my leg 'cause I'm too fucking lazy to walk to the bathroom. Hell, I can't even come up with a better analogy for life than pissing myself. Sweet whistling Christ, I suck.

I yelled my fucking head off at my last class today. Granted, they were acting like a bunch of fucking pinheads and tossed a canoe-load of disrespect my way, but yelling does absolutely nothing except leave the teacher with a sore throat.

Another thing about me that utterly sucks ass is my incredible laziness. I'm home. I don't have any pressing appointments. I should be writing. But instead, I'm surfing a bunch of pointless websites that I've seen a million times and offer me nothing of any practical use.

I can't even be bothered to take care of the pathetic excuse for a body I have. I haven't run in days. I'm sitting here and I swear to fucking god I can hear the fat cells stacking up like an all-lipid version of Tetris. If my inability to get up off my fat ass and run every once in awhile weren't bad enough, I've got an ingrown goddamn toenail that's been getting gradually worse for the last two months and I can't be bothered to call a fucking podiatrist.

I can't even fucking stand to be around me.


Well, at least I'm not Paul Wolfowitz. That guy really sucks.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope (Special Wolfowitz Edition)

Aries: This week, you truly realize how wonderfully loyal your friends are. Mind you, they're not so loyal that they'd nay say the international community if people were calling you to be fired as president of the World Bank, but they're not chopped liver, either.

Taurus: One of your worst nightmares is realized as you show up for a blind date only to discover that the person you're meeting looks exactly like Paul Wolfowitz. Run! For the love of all that's holy, run!

Gemini: Bad news. This week, you're stricken with a nasty boil on your ass. Which you decide to name after Paul Wolfowitz.

Cancer: You're disgusted at work this week by the incompetent people you see being promoted over you. This is not unlike some asshole who gets America involved in a mid-East quagmire and is rewarded with the presidency of the World Bank.

Leo: This week, you coin a new sex phrase when you urinate on a sex partner against their will and then deny you've done anything wrong: you call it Wolfowitzing.

Virgo: You're wracked with guilt this week over some wrong you've committed against someone else. Don't worry so much. Paul Wolfowitz scored a high-paying job for the woman who blows him and he's not the least bit remorseful. Compared to that, you're small potatoes.

Libra: You smell like Paul Wolfowitz. And not in a good way.

Scorpio: The world is often not a fair place, Scorpio. Sometimes, you're Paul Wolfowitz and sometimes you're Colin Powell.

Sagittarius: When caught in the act of doing something ethically shaky, try straight-up denying that it's wrong. Seems to work for Paul Wolfowitz.

Capricorn: You're in a quandary this week over how to handle a problem with your neighbors. Take a cue from Smilin' Paul Wolfowitz: break into your neighbors' house and kill the adults. The children will greet you as a liberator!

Aquarius: Sometimes a friend does things so massively stupid and wrong that you just need to step back and let them face the consequences. Y'know, the exact opposite of how that dipshit in the White House is handling the Wolfowitz sit-hap.

Pisces: Man, that Paul Wolfowitz is a douche.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Life Is Not a Rollercoaster

Stop for a second and think about the metaphor "Life is a rollercoaster." You say that, you generally mean that life is made up of highs and lows and that we have very little control once we get onboard. Or something like that. I take issue with this.

Is a rollercoaster all about up and down? That seems way too simplistic to me. It's more about anticipation and exhilaration. When you're going up the hill of a rollercoaster, you're all the time looking around at just how high up you're getting and you're thinking, "Man, we're really getting up there and that's a long way to come back down." You spend the ride up wondering just when the drop is going to come.

But when you go down the hill, it's not depressing. It's not like the time you found out you had Chlamydia. The downward portions of a rollercoaster are the best goddamn parts. You're screaming your head off and you're trying to hang on to the rational notion that this thing has been safety inspected relatively recently and the people that put it together had to've known what they were doing or the thing wouldn't still be in operation. But fighting against this is the undeniable fact that plunging from great heights at high speed is dangerous. This is in no way similar to your senior prom, when your date ran off with someone else and you got wasted and puked all over your rented car.

So I'm just calling into question here the viability of this whole rollercoaster versus life comparison. Now, I grant you that there's something rollercoastery about the lack of control we have over the events of our life. I would point out, though, that our lives are very rarely in the hands of carnies. Really only just those times in our lives when we ride a rollercoaster.

If life is like anything at the amusement park, I'd have to say it's more like The Scrambler: it seems like it ought to be fun, but really it's just kind of nauseating and annoying.

I guess what I'm really trying to say here is that we should all ride rollercoasters more. Especially fantastic old school coasters like The Cyclone at Coney Island. Some douchebag developer is about to tear up most of Coney and build waterfront condos. That fucking blows. How is that at all like a rollercoaster?

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Velveeta Jukebox, Part VIII: Cum On, Feel the Noise

Nobody--I mean nobody--is ever going to hold me up as a good example of someone with amazing taste in music. I'm not the guy who tracks down the next big trend. I don't go to clubs to hear this incredible new band that's going to be huge three years from now. There was a long time when I got the bulk of my albums from BMG Music Club, 'cause they were cheap and it was easy.

This has been the case my entire life. When I was a kid, the only music I ever really spazzed out over was music from movies that I liked. This is why I owned the soundtrack to Arthur. And listened to it. Likewise with Beverly Hills Cop and Ghostbusters. Let me tell you, there was some shitty music on those soundtracks.

But I was self-aware enough to know that I had shitty taste in music and self-loathing enough to be ashamed of said shitty taste. So I would look to other people for guidance as to the sort of music I ought to like. My older sister came in handy there. While I wouldn't call her aural aesthetic unblemished (she owned more than one Rick Springfield album) she definitely knew more than me.

So when I rode with her as she "cruised" up and down State Street in Alliance, Ohio, I totally bought into the notion that Quiet Riot produced quality head-banging tunes. I remember actually doing what the band instructed in their ground-breaking song "Metal Health." I banged my head. On the nice cushiony car seat in front of me. "Metal Health" wasn't their biggest hit, though. That would be "Cum on, Feel the Noise."

At age 12, this song kind of scared me. The band kind of scared me. I mean, the cover of the album featured a dude in a strait-jacket wearing some freakish sort of Dumas-inspired hockey mask. And their songs were loud, which was a little disconcerting to a kid who'd spent the past couple of years listening to a lot of Christopher Cross tunes.

Listening to the song today, you realize that these guys were much more goofy than frightening. (Their Wickipedia entry--as of today--actually calls them, and I quote, "A bunch of douchebags." I'm thinking that wasn't taken from the band's official biography.) The song's lyrics seem to be from the point of view of your typical misunderstood teen. "So you say I've got a funny face? I got no worries" and "So you think we are the lazy kind? You should know better." "Why, we're far more ambitious than you give us credit for, sir," it seems to say. It's actually kind of like a Pat Boone song with a bunch of mediocre guitar licks thrown in for no reason.

And the video, God knows, isn't the least bit scary. Watching a bunch of guys in their mid-thirties prancing around the stage in tiger-print spandex with giant hair is very much the opposite of scary. The whole thing is a lot more poppy than metallic. Poppy in the absolute worst sense.

I will give it this, though: it's a pleasant reminder of a time when driving up and down the puny main drag of the town where I was born seemed really cool.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


The Haircut

I got a haircut this week, which was a good thing, because I was starting to look like an Eight Is Enough-era Adam Rich gone horribly to seed. I just decided--after a stretch of wearing my hair longish without committing to going whole hog and ill-advisedly trying to recapture my long-tressed days of "glory"--that enough was enough and that I was tired of not being able to see in a high wind.

The downside of my tonsorial adventure is that I had to deal with reactions from my students.

I've dealt with this before. In fact, I've had a more extreme metamorphosis (longer than I had it to shorter than it is now). But I don't think I've ever been quite as annoyed by it all.

One really odd thing to me about the student/teacher relationship is just how much attention students pay to shit that I don't even think about. If you show up to work wearing old shoes that are comfortable, if not in the best condition, you will hear about it. A lot. If you wear the same shirt as another teacher, a good dozen of your students will point this fact out to you. They really pay attention to this crap.

So I knew going to work Tuesday morning that I'd be catching all kinds of flak. Which I did. There was the basic, "You cut your hair!" To which I usually replied with my trademarked, "No, someone else cut it." There was the more critical, "Why'd you cut your hair?" This one I don't really understand. The decision to cut one's hair is not exactly monumental. Whence comes this desire to probe the psychological reasons behind it? When classes passed by me in the hall, there was some nudging and whispered "Did you see Mr. Wack's hair?" Which makes me really, really sorry that the kids don't have anything better to discuss.

What was new this time is a reaction that both worried me and pissed me the fuck off. We're approaching, painfully slowly, the end of the school year. This is the long slog toward summer during which students lose any and all interest in learning and discipline becomes something best handled with a bullwhip and a cattle-prod. Our school has had some issues in this department over the course of this year and there's a distinct Lord of the Flies vibe in our halls at times.

In this spirit, I had to deal this week with a handful of students who thought they'd inflict some emotional scars on my by simply pointing at my hair and laughing. Now, let me say right here and now that this did not have the effect on me that I believe my students were going for. It did not make me start to doubt myself as a man. It did not embarrass me. I did not run out and buy a curly wig so that I could maybe win their approval by looking more like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

It pissed me off. ('Cause it's so inordinately rude.) Each time it happened--and it happened a number of times--I gave my usual response when a student does something like this. I simply shot the kid my best, "What the hell is wrong with you?" look and went about my business.

And, indeed, what the hell is wrong with these kids? I made more than my share of fun of my elementary/middle school teachers behind their back when I was a kid. It's natural. It's what kids do. But I would've been dipped in shit before I'd've said anything remotely insulting to their face.

These kids, however, have no problem asking you what that is on your nose as a means of making fun of your zit. They feel quite free in musing aloud on exactly why your shirts get pitted out. They relish the opportunity to mock your choice of footwear because it doesn't match what they've been made to think is the only acceptable shoe of the moment. This is, of course, in addition to the numerous fuck you's and other assorted curses directed at you on a weekly basis.

You can't, of course, just scream, "I don't give a shit what you think of my shoes, my hair or any other part of me, you obnoxious little douche!" 'Cause that's abusive. So I just have to do my best to shrug it off. And I don't give a shit, really. I'm not there to be an urban fashion icon. But this stuff wears on you after awhile. And it just really makes me wonder why they do it.

I should, I'm fairly certain, be able to get my hair cut without catching 31 flavors of grief for it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Past, Dwelling On

For this week's Roundtable, Carol of Feeling Peevish is visiting one of my favorite pastimes: regretting stupid shit from one's past.

I'm with her on this. It doesn't happen all that often, but every once in awhile, I'll say something so absolutely retarded in a social situation that it will haunt me for years. I have things I said in fifth grade that I still think about at least a couple of times a month. Personally, I believe that this is the whole point of having a memory: so we can think back on all the moronic shit we did in years past and kick ourselves for it anew.

God, I hate myself.

Anyway, head on over to Feeling Peevish and 'fess up to your history of foot-in-mouth disease.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Your wild side emerges this week and you find yourself fighting the urge to do something really naughty. Seeing as how "naughty" to you means putting an extra slice of cheese on your burger, this isn't a big deal.

Taurus: This is a bad week for opening up new credit card accounts, mostly because you already have thirteen old credit cards that are maxed out. Credit isn't your friend.

Cancer: Although you may find yourself tempted to cheat on your spouse this week, Cancer, you'll more than likely end up doing the right thing, in large part because nobody but your spouse would really want to sleep with you.

Gemini: You find yourself really in tune with people's body language this week. For instance, you sense right away that the homeless guy with one shoe and vomit in his beard is probably going to hit you up for money. It's really like you're psychic.

Leo: Don't believe everything you hear this week, Leo. Especially don't believe when the Scientologist doing your Personality Test says you'd really benefit from joining his church.

Virgo: Today you might find yourself the center of attention, Virgo. This is pretty easy to do when you defecate in your pants on the bus.

Libra: This week, Libra, you find yourself a bit forgetful and you may begin to worry that it's a sign of an aging brain. Don't worry. It's actually the sign of a stupid brain and has nothing to do with how incredibly old and decrepit you are.

Scorpio: A friend in the hospital may be in need of a visit this week, Scorpio. Not from you, though. Actually, you should just chip in with friends to buy him a hooker.

Sagittarius: This week, you find yourself uttering something you never thought you'd have a need to say: "Do you think you could help me smear this burn salve on my ass?"

Capricorn: You're practically catatonic this week over the demise of actor Tom Poston. It doesn't take a whole hell of a lot to get you catatonic, does it?

Aquarius: You must stop living in the past Aquarius. Yes, the rent is cheaper, but your internet connection is nowhere near as fast.

Pisces: Deviled ham! Yum!


My Morning Giggle-Fit

One more quick word about George's jump-suited playacting pageant:

I heard on the news this morning that White House spokesperson Dana Perino commented yesterday on the fact that congressional Democrats had timed the submission to the president of the war funding bill to coincide with the anniversary of Bush's little plane trip. She chided House and Senate leaders for a "trumped-up political stunt".

I have nothing more to say about that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


And That's the Way It Was, Kind Of

Years from now, when my grandchildren sit on my knee and raise their bright, shiny faces toward my Sean Connery-esque features and ask, "Grandpapa,"--emphasis on the last syllable, thank you very much--"what's a hero?", I know exactly what I'll tell them.

I'll say, "Well Timmy," and you can be sure that I'll call them Timmy even if that's not their name, because I'm the final authority on things like that, "there aren't really any heroes left these days. Since the Democrats took control of congress in 2007, heroes have been a mite hard to come by.

"But there used to be heroes. Oh, yes. Why, there was a very brave soldier named Jessica Lynch, who was captured and tortured and subjected to the heathen leers of all sorts of swarthy men who probably saw her as some kind of goddess. But she fought them with everything she had and eventually, a crack squad of military ninjas broke into that enemy hospital and rescued her.

"Then, there was Pat Tillman. He battled opposing players on the football field before his great patriotism led him to battle an even greater enemy on the field of battle. The enemy got him, but he took down as many of them as he could before he succumbed.

"And these heroes were led by the greatest hero of all. I tell you, Timmy, I will never forget May 1st, 2003 . That was the day that that great hero strode across the deck of an aircraft carrier deep, deep within the enemy waters off of California to let us know that the war was over. He looked so handsome in that flight suit and radiated such competence that the sailors on board the carrier were spontaneously moved to hang a banner which shouted 'Mission Accomplished!' for all to see. And those same sailors were clever enough to hang it right where the numerous television cameras would be sure to get it in frame behind the hero.

"Anyway, this man was a hero because he and his administration did such a great job of managing the war that it was over in a tick. This great man and the heroes from that war filled America with pride and gave us the confidence to support our president. Because of this man, we ended terrorism and made America the most beloved country in the world. And this great man's name was George W. Bush.

"What's that? Grandma says George W. Bush was a lump of shit? Yeah, well your grandma sniffs glue. Listen, there's always going to be revisionist historians who trot out all kinds of 'facts' that ruin a perfectly good, impressively orchestrated story of heroism. Y'know what I say to those people? Do you, Timmy? I say they can kiss my pruny ass, Timmy. Oh yeah? Then your teacher can kiss my pruny ass, too. Your teacher sounds like a dipshit. Get off my fucking knee."

Wow. The future's going to be awesome.