Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Monday, December 31, 2007


You Say You Want a Resolution

I've never been too huge on making plans for big life-changes at New Year's. I mean, you're always just coming off the Christmas parties and you've been eating sweets for weeks, so you're thinking, "Man, if I never see another fucking truffle, I'm going to be a happy goddamn camper." You've received all sorts of gifts, so your consumerist itch has been thoroughly scratched. Often, you've had time off from work, so you're nice and energetic and anything seems possible.

Cut to three weeks later, when you're stressed after another shitty day at work. Forcing yourself to the gym seems like cruel and goddamn unusual punishment. A pint of Ben & Jerry's doesn't strike you as overly indulgent, it's just being kind of nice to yourself. And downing three bottles of lager isn't evil, it's a survival strategy.

No, resolutions are just ways of setting yourself up for disappointment and increased self-loathing down the road.

Instead of resolutions, I'm going to go with the reduced pressure of Hopes. I don't have any goddamn resolutions, I just have a bunch of hopes.

I hope that this frigging herniated disc is taken care of sometime in the next few weeks so I can run again without the resultant agony.

I hope I can overcome my monumental laziness and get a screenplay in good enough shape to submit to a few contests.

Also under that overcoming laziness thing, I hope I can light a fire under my and my partner's assess and finally get going on our podcast.

I hope the Browns elimination from the playoffs is the last time a Cleveland sports team lets me down for the next 365 days. (I don't actually hold out the least bit of hope for that one and, in fact, it's kind of a rhetorical hope. If such a thing exists.)

I hope I can work up the energy to take the air conditioner out of our bedroom window. It's nearly January, people, this is ridiculous.

I hope I can learn to rein in my tongue and resist making such snide comments when my wife is watching TV shows that she enjoys and I find nauseating.

But most of all--and this really trumps all the other hopes and I would gladly have every single one of the other hopes crushed if it meant this one could be fulfilled--I hope the end of 2008 finds us with a kid or damned close to it.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and a 2008 that's relatively free of bad news.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Best of 2007

A little late on this this year, but I can't let 2007 slip away without letting the world know exactly what I thought of it. My opinion of 2007 can actually be summed up with quite succinctly with a raised middle finger, but I'll go ahead and get into a more detailed analysis by listing my usual Best of Everything.

Best "Fuck You" to George Bush. Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize seemed to be yet another in a series of the Nobel Academy's attempts to piss in Dubya's corn flakes. Sure, Gore has done a lot to publicize global warming and blah blah blah. But the guy already won the Oscar. So the Nobel seemed calculated to rub Georgie's face in it. Which he deserved.

Best Album of the Year. Sorry, folks, but this year, last year and every year, the best album is Emotions in Motion by Billy Squier. And until something comes along that makes me laugh, dance and cry as much, I'll keep on listing it.

Best Celebrity Pregnancy. Wow. So much to choose from this year. From Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey and whatever the hell his wife's name is to Jessica Alba and her lucky spermy bastard, this year has just seen a bumper crop of bumps. (And can I just tell you how goddamn adorable I find it that we're now calling them "bumps"? It's just so precious! Tee hee!) But I have to say that the classiest, most moving pregnancy was, once again, Ms. Elizabeth Hasslebeck. And how amazing was it to experience the pregnancy with her on The View? Remember the episode where Rosie O'Donnell kicked her in the stomach? Tense!

Best Awesome Catastrophe on TV. The shootings at Virginia Tech made for some excellent television, but I'm going to have to go with the bridge collapse in Minnesota. It really made you think. It made you think about bridges. Thanks, media, for really getting to the heart of the story by placing your cameras right in front of grieving families. It made the pain so real.

Best Way to Rid the World of Ben Affleck. I'm gonna throw a bit of a curveball here, people. After finally seeing his performance in Hollywoodland and hearing nothing but good things about his directorial debut helming Gone, Baby Gone, I'm going to go ahead and say that Herr Affleck should be done in by old age.

Best Stamp. Tough one. Really tough one. The ol' USPS gave us a bumper crop this year, what with stamps for Jimmy Stewart, Gerald Ford, Yoda and mahogany speed boats. Hell, the holiday season gave us special stamps for Muslims, Catholics, Protestants and whoever it is who celebrates Kwanzaa. But I've got to tip my hat to that gorgeous stamp that commemorates Jury Duty. When I send a letter to someone, I want them thinking about jury duty. Don't you?

Best Pain. Without a doubt, the best pain I've had this year would be my wonderfully herniated disc!

Best Comic Book Storyline. The Sinestro Corps Wars. If you read only one Green Lantern story this year, I'm hoping it was this one. But probably you didn't read any Green Lantern stories this year. Because you're a "grown-up" who reads "literature" and has a "social life" and doesn't associate with "social retards". Which is probably for the best.

Best Presidential Candidate. I'll give you a hint: He's 4'6". His wife is forty times hotter than him. He believes in UFOs, is a vegetarian and is completely and utterly unelectable. But goddammit, Dennis Kucinich has gumption!

Best Unsuccessful Pick-Up Line. After much careful consideration, the winner is..."Would you like to see my pee-pee?"

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Celebrity Predictions for 2008

It's that time of year again. The time of year when the ghost of Jeanne Dixon takes up residence in my sinuses and whispers to me as I'm trying to sleep. She tells me all sorts of things, much of which has to do with the passionate sex she used to have with Buddy Hackett, which, frankly, I could really do without hearing.

But she also tells me about the upcoming year and what it holds for our beloved celebrities. And today, I'm passing Jeanne's info on to you.
  • As details emerge about the causes behind the Sean Penn/Robin Wright-Penn divorce, the American public will be horrified at the cruelty Mr. Penn exhibited toward his wife. It will come to light that Ms. Wright-Penn was subjected to years of mental abuse, including being forced to watch I Am Sam once a month for four years.
  • The trials and tribulations of the Spears family will continue, as Jaimie-Lynn Spears will give birth to a baby girl who will herself become pregnant three months after she's born.
  • In a desperate attempt to woo voters from Dennis Kucinich, presidential candidate Bill Richardson will force his wife to get her tongue pierced. Shockingly, this will make very little difference in the campaign.
  • At the trial following her DUI arrest, Mischa Barton will snap in half following a powerful sneeze.
  • Following her grandfather's decision to leave the bulk of his estate to charity, Paris Hilton will attempt to make her own fortune by opening a lemonade stand. She'll charge $14.7 million per cup.
  • As the Hollywood writers' strike stretches into its tenth month, frustrated producers will fund the creation of a computer that can write movies without the aid of a human. Most of these movies will be directed by Michael Bay and nobody will notice much of a difference.
  • The second season of CBS reality show Kid Nation will prove a little more exciting as producers up the stakes by offering a million dollar prize to whichever contestant can eat the most of his/her competitors.
  • Lindsay Lohan will just give up any pretense and start start trading handjobs for drinks outside of O'Leary's Pub on Bowery.
  • The record box-office earnings of the Iron Man movie will be marred by an incident in which a teenager, inspired by the film, will staple canned food to his body and jump off his parents' roof. A poll will show that most Americans see a direct cause-effect relationship between the film and the tragedy and congress will press for legislation banning anything vaguely exciting from being depicted in movies.
  • Media Research Center president Brent Bozell III will be arrested following a raid in which police find him and several companions dressed in bondage gear and engaging in a circle jerk around an eighty-five year-old Laotion male prostitute.
Here's hoping that your 2008 sucks less than your 2007!

Friday, December 28, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope 2008 Zodiac Forecast

Aries: 2008 is the year you'll finally get that nickname you've wanted ever since your underwhelming college years left you feeling inconsequential and unworthy of others' attention. Unfortunately, that nickname will be "Beef McQueef". Be careful what you wish for.

Taurus: After three straight years of hoping and praying that things would start to suck less, 2008 will be the year when things genuinely go right. You will, however be slightly more flatulent than usual. Bad with the good, right?

Gemini: Your year gets off to a rip-roaring start, Gemini, with the greatest New Year's Eve you've ever spent. Then your arm falls off on January 4th and it's all pretty much shit from there on.

Cancer: Be careful around late spring, when the stars show that you might be more likely than usual to do something monstrously stupid, like taking up performance art or becoming a volunteer for the Huckabee campaign.

Leo: Big changes loom on the horizon for Leos in 2008. Most of them involve fun new formations for your facial hair. Even lady Leos.

Virgo: You've got a boog. And you'll have one pretty much all year.

Libra: What can I say, Libra? Simply put, 2008 is going to be one long, non-stop sex-athon for you. Occasionally, there might even be other people involved. And a corpse, but just once.

Scorpio: A malevolent force haunts you sometime in late autumn, Scorpio. Fortunately, it turns out to be a moldering Twinkie that got stuck between your fat rolls and a couple hours scrubbing takes care of things.

Sagittarius: In January, you come up with an earth-shattering idea that will make you rich and make the world a million times better. Then you come down off the acid and realize it was only a recipe for grilled cheese with salsa in it. Which, to be fair, is pretty tasty.

Capricorn: Sadly, your year is ruined before it even began, now that Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane was wiped out of existence by a demon.

Aquarius: Although Chinese calendars will call 2008 The Year of the Rat, to you, it's really going to be The Year of the Pubic Lice.

Pisces: Take more chances this year, Pisces. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Just make sure you don't venture, say, your car in a high-stakes poker game while you're whacked out of your mind on crystal meth.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I'm Not Real Bright

For Christmas this year, I decided to give myself the gift that keeps on giving: embarrassing social faux pas that I could then obsess over to my little heart's delight.

Faux pas numéro un: My wife and I spent a very pleasant day at my parents' house, in the company of my folks and my lil' nephew, who was celebrating his very first Christmas. He's a whole lotta fun, this kid, especially since I get to enjoy all the smiles and the crawling and the tossing him in the air without actually having to clean up any feces.

Later in the day, my sister's fella ('cause "boyfriend" sounds a little too informal and "significant other" has always seemed a bit Kryptonian for my tastes) came over with his kids. I should take a second here to state that only one of these kids lives with my sister and her man-companion. That would be a delightful three-year-old who is such a doll-baby that I've done away with any worrying about the technicalities of blood-relations and just call her my niece.

But my sister and her gentleman friend didn't just have my niece and nephew with them, they also had his two teenagers. They are such nice kids. His son, whom I'd met on several occasions over the summer, is in his sullen, brooding teenage phase, but he's still nice. (I just have to laugh my ass off at the sullen, brooding phase. It's so damned funny.) His daughter, whom I'd never met, is very sweet and was a de facto au pair, keeping her little sister out of trouble keeping both youngsters out of the way when I'd gotten my drink on and started projectile vomiting. (It's nice to not have to worry about such things.)

Anyway, it was a very good time and I got to see first-hand how little difference there is between siblings from blended and non-blended families. It was like my own private Afterschool Special.

The faux pas came the next day, when my wife and I stopped by my sister's house to say goodbye on our way out of town. We only stayed a few minutes and, as we were leaving, we went through the departure rituals. My sister's life-partner's daughter came over and gave me a hug goodbye, wishing me a Merry Christmas. I started to say that it had been very nice to meet here, but, in the middle of the sentence, I began to worry that I'd already met her without remembering it. So I stopped myself and I said, "Didn't I just meet you last night?" To which she replied, "That's okay, family gets hugs."

I was unable to reverse the course of the conversation to clarify that I hadn't been made uncomfortable by the hugging, but rather had been trying to express my joy at having finally made her acquaintance. And so, now, I'm going to be known by this young person who is part of my family as The Weird Step-Uncle Who Has a Problem With Intimacy. That's great.

Faux paus numéro deux: After an eight-hour drive from Ohio back to New York, we began unloading our rented mini-van (we spent a few days pretending to be suburban soccer parents; it was fun!) when we bumped into our upstairs neighbor on the way inside. As I crossed the street, I thought, "Oh, hey! There's Michelle and her mom!" (The actual wording of the thought may have been different, but that was the gist of it.)

I wished them both a Merry Christmas. Michelle said, "Have you met my auntie?" Now, I'd been under the impression that I had met the woman standing by her on numerous occasions, and that this person was Michelle's mother. Being presented with the "Auntie" question threw me. I began to reevaluate the quality of my memory. I thought, "Wow. Michelle's auntie looks just like her mom. Maybe they're twins."

With all of this swirling around in my tiny, gnat-sized brain, I blurted out, "Hi. I'm Joe." To which Michelle replied, "No, this is my mom." She gestured down the street to a woman who had been retrieving something from a car and was now walking down the sidewalk toward us. "That's my auntie." At which point I bleated a greeting and fairly ran up the steps to our apartment, thinking, "Awesome. Now I'm the jack-ass who can't recognize someone he's met a dozen times. Great."

There's no real ending to this story. Both of these fuck-ups have continued to haunt me over the last few days. They will, I'm sure, pop up periodically for the next thirty years or so, as all my most embarrassing moments do.

One positive note from all of this: I've finally made my peace with the word "Auntie," a term I used to think was so precious it only made sense in the context of an Anne Geddes photo retrospective. I'm now cool with it. That is all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Hairshirt Christmas Horoscope

Aries: Playing "Mrs. Santa & the Horny Elf" with your spouse may sound seasonally hot, but, trust me, there's nothing sexy about it once you get an image of Tim Conway as Dorff stuck in your head.

Taurus: Your resolution to avoid getting drunk at Christmas to help you cope with your family is put to the test when your Cousin Wyatt breaks out his guitar to serenade everyone with his new song, "Jesus Hates Abortion".

Gemini: This is the year you decide you do believe in Santa Claus. Coincidentally, it's also the year when you've dropped acid an average of twice per week.

Cancer: Do something fun with your family this Christmas. Build a snowman! And then use it to illustrate your point that waterboarding really is torture.

Leo: Like Ebenezer Scrooge, you, too, will be haunted by spirits this holiday season. Mostly by the gin you drank last night and then puked all over your coat. That's one haunting goddamn smell.

Virgo: Everyone is really impressed by your Christmas decorating. Your idea to go with An Anne Geddes Noel theme was a stroke of genius.

Libra: You may think you want to know what goes into your Aunt Wendy's rum balls, but I'm telling you, some things are just better left to mystery.

Scorpio: A festive sleigh-ride might be a nice treat! Or you could stay in and avoid interacting with your family, which is more traditional, really.

Sagittarius: Your girlfriend will not be pleased to find the Morning After pill in her Christmas stocking.

Capricorn: Y'know that awesome progressive presidential candidate you asked Santa for? The one who would get us out of Iraq, make health care affordable, fix our education system and bring good-paying jobs to the lower and middle classes? Yeah, you're getting a tie instead.

Aquarius: You're super-excited that, thanks to our failure to adhere to the Kyoto Protocols, Christmas is the warmest time of the year.

Pisces: What does Christmas mean to you? It means nobody can tell you how the fuck much eggnog you should be drinking! Nog!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The Hairshirt Joke of the Day


Who's there?

Fat old tired idiot who hasn't even started shopping for his wife's Christmas present because he's just that fucking lame.

Fat old tired idiot who hasn't even started shopping for his wife's Christmas present because he's just that fucking lame who?

I'm going to cry myself to sleep now.


Monday, December 17, 2007


It's a Christmas Miracle!

I renewed my license today and I was in and out of the DMV in under ten minutes. Seriously, it was quicker/easier than picking up allergy medication at Duane Reade.

Say what you want about Eliot Spitzer and how he's not doin' much in Albany, but whoever he's got running the DMV for him deserves a long and tender hug.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Christmas Tards

I mentioned the other day that my wife and I haven't sent out our Christmas cards yet. This is due in part on our inability to agree on a design.

See, for most of our relationship, we kept our Christmas cards separate. This is due in part to our somewhat divergent tastes. I like Christmas cards that are funny. My wife likes Christmas cards that are not painfully ugly. She was, therefore, hesitant to put her name on the homemade cards I traditionally sent out, which always looked like they'd been drawn by an inept kindergartener with a broken wrist. I, in turn, insisted on inflicting on the world my mediocre attempts at topical Christmas humor.

There have been years when neither of us felt up to the work of designing, printing and buying envelopes for our own cards, so we've caved and bought them from the store.

This year, we really made an effort to come up with something together. And we actually did hit on an idea. My wife went so far as to make a prototype on the computer. Then we chickened out and bought some generic (if pretty) New York cards to send instead.

But I think it's too funny to never use. Y'see, we decided that what we wanted to do was to give people the most awkward Christmas card-opening experience ever. When the idea came to us, we laughed a portion of our asses off. (My ass is too large to laugh off completely, alas.) But we weren't sure if anyone--anyone in the world--would find it as funny as us.

So here it is. Judge for yourself.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: You have a wonderfully curious mind, but you need to remember that there are some questions you don't really need to find the answer to. Like, "What's the best way to jack off a goat?" You don't need to know that.

Taurus: It's too bad that the one bit of your mother's advice you've held onto over the years is, "Don't run with scissors." It would have saved you a lot of grief if "Never try to sneak through airport security with a live weasel in your pants" would've stuck in your head.

Gemini: Since the death of Evel Knievel, your world just hasn't made any sense. This could be because you're an alcoholic and you're drinking three quarts of bourbon a day. There's not a whole lot that's going to make sense after that. Even doorknobs are kind of tricky.

Cancer: You suffer a bit of a setback this week. This is incredibly sad, as you really thought you'd had potty training down cold.

Leo: Your sense of adventure is carrying you away this week. In fact, it's going to carry you smack dab into a nasty case of herpes.

Virgo: That big romantic date where you cook a meal for your new boyfriend/girlfriend may not go so well if you don't come up with a better menu than Slim Jims and macaroons.

Libra: Avoiding a problem is not the same as solving it, Libra. Avoiding it takes a whole lot more skill and finesse. So congratulations on that.

Scorpio: Stop picking your nose.

Sagittarius: You like to think of yourself as an outlaw. This is a word you're going to have to redefine when you actually spend some time in prison and see what actual criminals think of a "bad-ass" tax-evader like yourself. Personally, I think you're going to be very popular.

Capricorn: As William Shakespeare once wrote, "Dude, chicks get horny when they're drunk. That's why I always carry three cans of beer in my back pack." Actually, that may not be Shakespeare I'm thinking of. It may have been my neighbor in college.

Aquarius: You are at your best when turning shortcomings into victories. You prove that once again this week when you take the fourteen pounds of lint that's been building up in your dryer and use it to knit a sweater for a homeless person. Innovative!

Pisces: That old family recipe for chicken and biscuits? That was all a lie. Your parents used to just sneak out and buy KFC.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


'Tis the What Now?

I love Christmas. Ask anybody who's known me for awhile and they'll tell you how enthusiastic I am about the holiday season. This year, though, for some reason, I've fallen way, way behind in my Yuletide preparations.

Maybe it's the herniated disc and accompanying physical therapy sessions. Maybe it's the preoccupation with our seemingly endless fertility issues. Maybe I've just turned into a lazy sack of assflakes in my old age. Whatever the reason, though, Christmas, she is slow a-comin' here in the Wack household.

I've pisses around and pissed around and just got a tree tonight. It's sitting there, looking green and smelling like a floor-cleaner or car-deoderizer, just waiting to be filled with heirlooms of Christmases past. But I have no intention of decorating it tonight. Nor, in all likelihood, tomorrow night. It's going to sit there naked for a good long while.

My wife and I spent a few weeks lazily vollying ideas for our home-made Christmas cards back and forth like the shuttlecock in a badminton game between two paraplegics. We ended up with the same result as last year; we're giving up and buying boxed cards from the store. (Lame!)

WARNING: IF YOU ARE MY MOTHER, YOU SHOULD SKIP THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH TO AVOID HAVING YOUR HEAD EXPLODE. I haven't bought even one Christmas gift yet. Nothing. I'm doing it all in the next thirteen days.

Or...I could always just turn my mistake into a triumph. I could skip this Christmas altogether and just start getting an early start for next year. That would be so very clever of me.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Can't Get Enough of My Train, Babe

If there is a hell, it may very well resemble my Monday morning commute. Standing on a crowded 4 train, being carried against my will to start yet another week of school, trying to listen to my iPod and read my book while stuck between a two high school geek boys arguing the finer points of World of Warcraft strategy on one side of me and a 17-year-old couple seemingly using their tongues to remove hunks of sausage from each other's molars on the other side. All my commute needed to slide down into unmitigated torture was a shit-bespattered homeless dude preaching the gospel.

And yet, I made it to work in relatively sane condition. I even got off the train with a little smile on my face. What, you may ask--but probably aren't--allowed me to escape this wretched situation unscathed?

My favorite conductor, that's what.

New-fangled subway trains in the city have an automated, pre-recorded station announcement. The voice of a trained, generic announcer comes on before and during every stop to make sure everyone knows what the hell train they're on and just where that train is going. It gets tedious, but it's better than what we had before, which was a bunch of surly conductors who resented having to speak at all, and who, when they weren't blowing off this particular duty, rushed their announcement out of their mouths like so much chimichanga vomit.

Because, I can only guess, confused idiots were constantly getting off at the wrong stop and subsequently being killed by roving bands of identically-clad, Warriors-style gangs, the switch was made to the perfectly understandable, if repetitive and dull recorded announcers.

But my favorite conductor doesn't cotton to this fancy technology. He's a rebel; a throw-back. He knows that, sometimes, the personal touch is best. So, at what he deems important stops, he turns off the automated system and switches over to manual. At these stops, he summons up his best Barry White voice and lets passengers know not just what stop is next, but what wonderful places can be found near that stop. He demands that we all have a good day.

At my stop, Burnside Avenue, he gives all of this information, then pauses for a moment before coming back on and saying, one more time and just for show, "Bu-u-u-rnside." I don't know exactly why he does this, but goddamn, am I glad he does.

So, Mr. 4 Train Conductor, wherever you are, I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for making what would otherwise be a shitty ride to someplace I don't want to be not just bearable, but fun.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


My Excuse

Why have I not written in eleven days?

I've been too damned busy masturbating and preparing home-made cheese balls to send out for Christmas. (Not at the same time.)

So what, you're wondering, are my home-made cheese balls like? Good question. What I'm trying to do here is to get away from your traditional Hickory Farms type of thing. It's just so played out.

First off, who the hell wants cheese with wine in it? Not me, mister. If I'm going to mix alcohol in with my cheese, I want it to be something with some kick. You want people to be able to know that they've consumed liquor. So I've come up with a tasty little concoction that redefines cheese balls. I call it Liquid Heaven. It's a full liter of gin with five ounces of Gorgonzola floating in it. Throw in some vermouth and an olive and you've got one killer Mar-cheesy!

I've never been crazy about the cheeses I've seen in cheese balls. Does the world need any more fucking cheddar? No. No it doesn't. You know what cheese has been woefully under-represented in the cheese ball department? American. That's why the simplest (and one of the most delicious) cheese ball in my arsenal is a little something I've named the White Man Special. I take an entire loaf of scrumptious Velveeta, slather the outside with the tasty zip of Miracle Whip and roll the whole thing in a generous pile of crushed Planter's peanuts. Even minorities love it!

Finally, the third cheese ball in my holiday love package: I wanted to do something whimsical, which is how I came up with my yummy Wink, Wink Cat Turds. They're miniature logs of goat cheese dyed brown and rolled in Grape Nuts. They may look like they came from the litter box, but they taste like they came from Baby Jesus.

So, I think you can all agree that, while the blogosphere may have lost eleven days of utter genius, the culinary universe has benefited greatly from my efforts. Watch your mailbox this holiday season, 'cause you never know, you might be getting a box-full of dairy-ous Christmas love.