Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Beware, Aries; a lover may be deceiving you. Probably not in a creepy, "I've got a twin and you've been unknowingly fucking both me and my twin because we're psychotic" kind of way. More likely just something like using the last of the peanut butter and not telling you. But still...

Taurus: Make the most of this tremendous surge of energy you feel. Because cocaine isn't cheap.

Gemini: Hey, y'know what's totally not sexy? Asking your girlfriend to lance a boil on your ass. So, if you want to get laid again this decade, you'll find someone else for that job.

Cancer: You've got it all wrong. The Boy Scout motto is not "Fuck them before they fuck you." Seriously, Cancer, where do you get these ideas?

Leo: A good, long cry can cleanse the soul, Leo. Just don't do it too long, or else people will realize what a gigantic pussy you are.

Virgo: Yes, Virgo, your bottle cap collection is very impressive. Now can you please shut the fuck up about it?

Libra: He's a very high-profile American these days, Libra, but that still doesn't mean that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright would make a great spokesman for your new Low-Calorie Steak-n-Tater Pot Pie.

Scorpio: You're terrified today of something you see in the Kleenex you've just used. Be forewarned.

Sagittarius: This is an excellent day to luxuriate in the Arts, Sagittarius. So why not go to a museum and pretend you understand the paintings for a couple of hours.

Capricorn: Big changes are headed your way, Capricorn. For starters, try changing your crusty fucking socks.

Aquarius: It can be a very liberating feeling to cut up one's credit cards, Aquarius. But your ATM card, you probably want to keep.

Pisces: New technology plays an important part in your day, Pisces. And I'm not just talking about your expensive new vibrator, although that's nice, too.

Monday, April 28, 2008


...Than a Gallon of Maple Syrup

I'm such a disgusting goddamn sap. I mean truly. I really am.

Witness: I love very few things more than laying beside my wife, touching her round belly and thinking about the baby in there. I'd rather sit down with the name book and add to our growing list of possible monikers than get things done for work. And I've listened to the following song a good three dozen times in the past week.

See? Sappy. Truly goddamn sappy.


Oh, Bwunhilde, You're So Wuvwy...

Celebrated Spring Break with my wife this past weekend by taking a trip to Provincetown. There's nothing quite like the type of vacation where you don't feel pressured to do a whole hell of a lot and can feel free to hang out in your room, watching movies for hours if that's what you goddamn well feel like.

On our return trip, something--and I'll be damned if I can remember exactly what that something was, prompted me to launch into a full-throuted rendition of "Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit."

My wife looked at me as if I had Martians crawling out my nose. I said, "Y'know...Bugs Bunny! With the magic helmet and the...y'know." Nothing. So I did my best to explain the brilliance that she inexplicably did not remember from childhood. Chuck Jones; Wagner; Bugs as Brunhilde; one of the greatest cartoons ever, etc.

I found it on YouTube this afternoon and I've gotta say, it lives up to my memories. You can judge for yourself.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Spiderman creator spins 10 more comic book heroes, at 85

Y'know, every time I see a headline like the above, I assume for the first few seconds that Stan Lee has died. 'Cause he's old, y'see.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The Lonely Mailbox

Can I just say how much I really kind of hate the age we live in? And I'm not even talking about the truly evil aspects of our times, like terrorism and Bush and climate change and Dane Cook. I'm talking about the simple fact that we have lost the art of letter-writing.

I've written about this before. I've made, as the previous links will make patently clear, half-assed attempts to get correspondence started, if only as part of an attempt to use stamps before the price went up. But it didn't stick. In this day and age, nobody even knows that you're referring to the U.S. Postal system unless you use the derogatory phrase "snail mail." Well, fuck you, I like snails!

I've had this debate going with my buddy Keith for awhile. He points out that a conversation that takes a matter of minutes with a few traded e-mails would take weeks and weeks if you posted letters. To which my response is always, "Yes, but when Ken Burns' great-grandson does a documentary about us a hundred years from now, he won't have B-list celebrities doing voice-over readings of our I.M. messages."

We have truly lost something. Our culture is greatly reduced by the simple, sad fact that we communicate in short, to-the-point electronic messages (most of which feature spelling by way of Prince song titles, but that's a whole other grumpy post) that take none of the thought and eloquence that goes into a letter.

I bring this up because I spent a few hours this week looking through a box of correspondence that I've kept since I was a teenager. Pretty much every letter that's ever been sent to me is in this box. It's been sitting, sealed up, in my closet since we moved from Seattle seven years ago. Opening it the other night was like stepping into a time machine. And not in the Ray Bradbury, stepping-on-a-butterfly-and-changing-history sort of way, either. In the good way.

There were letters from my Grandma, who's been gone for a few years now. Reading these letters was kind of like talking to her again. I hadn't remembered how much she wrote to me when I left Ohio, but there it was, on paper.

There were letters from my friend Cliff Bailey, with whom I corresponded weekly when I first moved to Phoenix. I'd forgotten how close we were, but these letters reminded me, "Oh yeah. This guy was one of my best friends and now I haven't talked to him in a fucking decade."

There were letters and cards and notes and poems from my wife, way back in the beginning of our relationship. I even found the infamous Letters from Seattle. See, a little over a month after we started going out, my wife went to Seattle for her sister's wedding. She was gone for a couple of weeks, during which she wrote me twice, affixing each letter with a "Love" stamp. Now, rationally, I could have figured out that she used these stamps because there were a ton of them around the house after her sister had sent out wedding invitations, but fuck rationality, I chose to think of it as a coded message. Actually, reading through the letters, there's not a lot of mush. Fondness, yeah, but nothing gushing.

There were even a bunch of letters from the afore-mentioned technophile Keith Marsteller, proving that he once knew the value of putting pen to paper and then stuffing that paper in an envelope and shoving the envelope in a mailbox. The letters very nicely captured Keith's twisted and kind of frightening sense of humor.

The point of all this is that I would like, even as busy as we all are today, even though it's not the most convenient way of communicating, even though stamps are about to go up in price again (seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these jackholes?) I would like to start writing letters again. I would like to have physical, tangible proof of my friendships. I would like to sit down and actually think about what I'm writing, instead of pounding out three lines of terse verbiage. I would like to correspond.

Not with you, necessarily, but in general.


Geek Park

Ah the joys of living in New York!

We've been in the same tiny-for-normal-people but decent-by-NYC-standards apartment for about six years now. Being a giant geek, I've bought an assload of comic books in that time. And they've piled the fuck up. I've got eight long-boxes in my closet. (For those of you who don't speak Fanboy, a long-box is a cardboard box, about three feet long or so, in which you can store your comics in mylar bags with a backing board, so they don't get bent.) They take up a whole lot of space.

So, with the baby on the way, I decided I should probably sell the bulk of my comics. This will help me in two ways: First, it will allow me to use my closet for...y'know, clothes or shit. This is what I hear most adults do and it works out quite nicely. Second, if I can sell my collection to my local comic shop (LCS to any utter geeks reading this), I could probably get some of my sale price in cash and some in store credit, which would free up that money for non-comic-related things.

A couple of years back, I took some time to inventory all the comics I had in my long-boxes. Trouble was, even though I knew what was in there, they were all over the place. Half of my John Byrne Superman run was in one box and the other half was crammed in with Garth Ennis's Preacher. I had to make order out of the chaos!

So, yesterday, I hauled all eight boxes out into the living room. I'd DVR'd a bunch of movies and I just hit play and went to work. I labored over those boxes from about nine in the morning until right around three-thirty. I put comics with their rightful brethren. I gave each box at least some kind of loose theme. I put everything in its proper place in my computerized inventory. It was an intense job.

So intense, in fact, that I completely lost myself in it and didn't realize that I hadn't moved the car to the other goddamn side of the street until I heard the fucking street-cleaner thundering past our building. The one day this week when alternate-side parking wasn't suspended. The one time it mattered where the fuck I parked my car. And it wasn't like I was at work. It wasn't like I was out doing something and could get back. I was right fucking here. And I just forgot.

I bolted downstairs and ran down the sidewalk in my flip-flops, but I was too late. There was a big, ugly orange envelope under my wiper. Forty-five fucking dollar idiot-tax. So I drove the car around the block and parked it in front of our house. There was plenty of space, you see, as all the smart people had moved their cars. But, with the damage done, I just wanted to have the car in a good spot.

Except that the police weren't done with me. Nope. To them, it didn't matter that the street had already been swept and that my car was now blocking nothing. It didn't matter that they'd just fucking ticketed me. It wasn't one o'clock yet, so they went ahead and gave me another ticket! 'Cause they've got nothing better to do. There's no robberies going on, apparently. No drunk drivers. There's no other problems in the whole city right now except for this asshole who just insists on parking in front of his apartment!


At least my comics are organized.


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Today, Aries, you're going to fall victim to one of those wacky misunderstandings that you thought only happened on Three's Company. A comment someone makes about some poorly cooked calamari leads you to believe that there's something wrong with your genitalia. Don't worry, though, everything will be cleared up in the end.

Taurus: It is not okay to spontaneously rub nipples in public. Not yours and not someone else's. This is a lesson you're going to have to fucking learn, eventually, Taurus.

Gemini: Good news and bad news, Gemini. The bad news is that someone very close to you is about to betray your trust in a way that will, ultimately, end the relationship. The good news is that you're going to get three extra McNuggets with your lunch! So it's kind of a wash.

Cancer: If you never face your fears, Cancer, then you'll never truly live your life. However, since most of your fears involve sticking live animals in your pants, you might want to go ahead and just not worry so much about the facing.

Leo: Your house is going to seem really crowded today. That's because you're growing larger!

Virgo: Some days, Virgo, you feel like you're teetering on the edge of a giant cliff, unsure of whether or not you're going to tip over and plunge into the depths below. Yeah, that's an inner-ear infection and you probably should get that looked at.

Libra: If a woman is truly impressed by the Battlestar Galacticisms you sprinkle into your conversations, she's probably not someone you really want to be involved with. You hear what I'm saying, you frakkin' idiot?

Scorpio: You've always been secretly thrilled by your Zodiac sign, mostly because you felt it gave you a certain kinship with the character of Robert Scorpio on General Hospital. The truth is, you're really much more like Noah Drake, the doctor/lame pop star played by Rick Springfield.

Sagittarius: You can believe it's not butter.

Capricorn: Remember when you were a kid, Capricorn, and you learned the lesson that tying a big towel around your neck did not enable you to fly when you jumped off the roof? Well, putting a video camera by the bed isn't going turn you into a porn star.

Aquarius: Your life right now is a little like a merry-go-round, Aquarius. Because it's being run by a carny.

Pisces: Do you really need those five extra cookies? Oh, right, I forgot. Your life is a depressing series of humiliating events, one coming after another, running over you like a herd of elephants and leaving you squashed flat on the ground. Okay, Nilla Wafers it is!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The Murky (and Embarrassing) Future

As we get farther into this pregnancy, my wife and I have felt a little freer to discuss things that we've been too scared to even let ourselves think about in the past. Things like what kind of person this is we're creating.

Basically, it boils down to this: we want our child to be a geek. Not a pathetic geek or anything; I mean, we want him/her to be physically active and fit. But I definitely want my kid to be into comic books and my wife wants her/him to be bookish enough to get a humongous scholarship to an Ivy League school which we wouldn't be wealthy enough to afford otherwise.

I think we're both aware that you can never really control who you child is, which is why we'll probably end up with a Born-Again who's obsessed with money. (That was a joke, Karmic Forces of the Universe, so please don't let that actually happen!)

It's utterly bizarre to think about who this tiny little creature is going to become. What kinds of things is she/he going to be hiding from us fifteen years from now? What about us is going to make this kid roll his/her eyes and wish she/he had other parents? How is he/she going to try to squirm out of punishment when she/he comes home at 1:30 with booze on his/her breath? It's just so exciting!

But really, that's a long way in the future. I've got time. I've got plenty of time to practice looking like I don't know what a bong is. I've years to learn how to keep a straight face when my kid asks if I ever got so drunk I threw up on my shoes. There is absolutely no rush to prepare myself for the I have to explain to him/her that her/his mother and I absolutely do not want to know that he/she is sexually active. *shudder*

So, yeah. Parenting. Awesome.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Vote, You Bitter Sons of Bitches! Vote!

Tomorrow, as you should already be aware, is the long-awaited presidential primary in Pennsylvania. What I'm hoping for is what I'm sure a whole fucking bunch of people are hoping for: that Obama will carry the state, Clinton will see the light and drop out and then we can all move on to keeping John McCain from winning in November.

Naturally, the very fact of my hoping for this will prevent it from happening. Instead, Clinton will win by a large enough margin to justify, in her delusional mental state, staying in the race even longer. After an even-more-drawn-out primary run, the Democratic party will lose its third and then its fourth engine and end up slamming full-force into the side of a mountain, leaving President Grampa to carry on with more bullshit from the Bush years.

I'd like to think that this isn't a foregone conclusion. I'd like to think that Pennsylvania voters will see past the out-of-context (but still actually pretty true) "bitter" comment and elect a man who might actually do things differently. I'd like to think that, but I can't.

This is, after all, the country that gave George W. a second term.


Why Don't You Put Her In Charge?

So I just read an article in the Times today about the Marines marketing themselves as a kick-ass career option to women. Now, I know a lot of people are thinking, "Fuck that. Why would anyone want to be a Marine, especially with a stupid and apparently endless war on?" And I understand what they're saying, but there's something they're not taking into consideration here.

That something is this: The more women we get into the Marine Corps, the closer we get to the kind of Space Marines depicted in Aliens. I don't know about you, but I want to live in a world where a unisexual group of hard-asses charges into situations and insult each other's gender identity.

Plus, without the women-friendly Space Marines, we'll never get Hudson, the cowardly wise-ass from whose eminently quotable mouth this post's title comes."Game over, man! Game fuckin' over!"

Sunday, April 20, 2008


He's Busy Revvin' Up His Powerful Mach 5!

The pope's in town!

I fucking love that guy. I've got friends who don't. I've got friends who think the pope oughtta be condemned because he's keeping the church mired in rigid, old-fashioned ideas that keep women down and don't recognize the actual state of the world. I've got friends who think priests ought to be allowed to sleep with women or marry women or be women. I've got friends who think the Roman Catholic Church's stance on birth control helps the spread of HIV in third-world countries. I've got friends who like to bring up Benedict's Nazi-youth past.

Not me, though. I think the pope's awesome. Why? One reason:

The Popemobile!

No other person alive is cool enough to have their own -mobile. Sure, there's Batman, but he's fictional. (I know this, rationally, even though I like to pretend that we go fishing together.) There is nobody else who's so amazingly amazing that they have a fill-in-the-blank-mobile. So, for that reason, the pontiff is a-ok in my book.

Welcome to America, Your Holiness! And Your Holiness's Sweet, Sweet Ride.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


No, It Doesn't Rhyme

Today was Poem in Your Pocket Day at school. It's part of National Poetry Month and it's the day when students are supposed to keep a poem in their pocket and read it to you when requested. It's no Arbor Day, but I've always kind of liked it.

And I always put a poem in my pocket as well, just in case any of them demand it of me.

Which nobody ever does. So, I figured I'd get some use out of it by sharing it with you.

The poem I had in my pocket went like this:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
My wife is pregnant

Okay, it's no "Song of Myself", but I like it.


Evil Does Exist

I've bitched before about the colossal, soul-sucking pain-in-the-taint that is New York City parking. The "street-cleaners" that merely swirl the dirt around a bit and force us to move our cars back and forth, from one side of the street to the other, day-in and day-out, world without end, amen. The forty-five minute drives around the block at six o'clock in the morning, panicking that you're not going to find a space before you have to leave for work. The massive ticket that awaits you should you fuck up and forget to move.

This parking hell is made all the more sulfurous and itchy by the things that keep you from being able to move your car where it ought to go. Things like the terrible uncertainty over whether you are far enough away from the hydrant to avoid getting a ticket. Things like some yahoo that's double parked right beside you, trapping you in the spot you're in while you watch all the available spaces on the other side of the street disappear one by one. Things like a space that is maybe a foot too short to accommodate your vehicle.

But it's made completely intolerable when you see someone purposefully fuck his fellow parkers.

Like I saw this afternoon. Walking home from the 134th Street station. A couple of hundred yards from my front door. I see a nice space, sitting open and inviting. A guy gets in a shiny red car directly behind said space. I think, "Awesome! This fella's pulling out, which will make it even easier to grab this spot and then forget all about this wretched car-moving business until Earth Day!"

Then, just as everything's seeming right with the world, the fucking prick pulls his shiny red car forward just enough that he's taking up both spaces. No room for a vehicle in front or in back of him.

I've got to say, my faith in humanity was shaken. Who does this shit? You know what? If your precious car is so fucking delicate and you're so scared that someone might give it a fucking boo-boo, pay to put the goddamn thing in a garage! I've never once had the urge to key someone's car. But the thought did sneak its way into my brain pan when I saw this walking pile of donkey shit step out, look to make sure that he'd successfully blocked anyone from breathing wrong on his princess-mobile and then lock up and walk away. I used to think cell phone salesmen were the lowest form of life, but I'm not sure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Helpful social hint: when meeting your mother-in-law for the first time, it's never a good idea to grab one of the candlesticks and loudly declare, "This is what I use to drip wax on my nipples!"

Taurus: A rolling stone gathers no moss. So now all you've got to do is figure how to keep that motherfucking stone constantly rolling, and you're home-free.

Gemini: An old friend who you haven't heard from in a long time will call this week. And, about 2.7 seconds into the conversation, you'll wish you still hadn't talked to them.

Cancer: Your skin may be a little dry this week, Gemini. So be sure to keep plenty of goose jism on hand. Or, you know, whatever it is you use to moisturize. Doesn't have to be goose jizz. To each his own, and all that.

Leo: If you don't stop spending so much time looking in the mirror, you'll grow hair on your palms. Oh, wait, that's masturbation. So, if you don't stop spending so much time masturbating while you look in the mirror, you'll grow hair on your palms.

Virgo: If you absolutely must run with scissors, just try not to run while using them.

Libra: There must be better things to do with your time than getting stoned and watching Fraggle Rock.

Scorpio: It's okay to admit that you don't understand what an artist is trying to say with a particular painting. Just be prepared for people to call you on what an utter dumbass you are.

Sagittarius: Women would be a lot more impressed with your "intense cardio workout" if you didn't have to stop to vomit half-way through.

Capricorn: Look to your idols this week for the inspiration you need. You will, though, probably want to look at an idol other than the one who's going to get caught soliciting tranny prostitutes outside of a Carl's Jr. in Mesa, AZ.

Aquarius: Nobody believes that you're dating Elijah Wood.

Pisces: Stop and take a look at the reasons you're failing. Could it be that you're just pushing yourself too hard with unrealistic expectations? Probably not. Actually, it's most likely all that glue-huffing.

Friday, April 11, 2008


The Big Reveal

So I'm sure the handful of people who read Hairshirt regularly are a bit puzzled by a couple of things. First, for the past few months, posting has been spotty at best. Once or twice a week at most for quite awhile there, and this from a guy who's been fairly consistent since I started this thing up nearly four years ago.

Then, all of a sudden, about a week ago, BAM! I'm posting once or twice a day, every day. "What gives?" people (and by people, I mean about two of you) were thinking, "Has Joe been diagnosed Manic-Depressive and he's in the midst of a full-on 'up' cycle?" Well, no.

No, my mental state is essentially the same as it's always been. I'm on no meds that would account for the repeated absence of the Horoscope. There are no voices in my head telling me that I shouldn't sit down today and type up half-assed political satire about Hillary Clinton's Bosnia faux pas.

I haven't been posting because my mind has been otherwise occupied. It's tough to whip out quasi-humorous observations on the state of the world when your brain pan is full of one single topic. So I slacked off.

Then, about a week ago, I noticed (observant guy that I am) that I was nearing my one thousandth post. This post.

Yep, this post you are reading is the one thousandth time I've sat down at the keyboard to pump words out over the world-wide whaddyacallit. And I thought, "Gee, it'd be nice to have something special to write about for a somewhat monumental occasion like that."

In the meantime, this thing that's been taking up some much of my thought became less of a secret. So I decided I'd hold off until my one thousandth post and I'd go ahead and write about it.

But the one thousandth post wasn't coming quickly enough, so I spent the last week or so churning out entries as quickly as I could.

And here we are.

So, for my one thousandth post, I give you The Big Reveal.
Now, I should say that this isn't actually our 14-week scan. I pulled this one off of Der Google. In this day and age, my wife and I are a little worried about predators and don't want anyone to know what our baby looks like.

I will tell you that he or she (still too early to tell) is due in the middle of October and the first item of clothing we bought for him/her was a Justice League t-shirt. (Guess whose idea that was.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Cereal Monogamist

I get in ruts. Especially morning ruts. It just happens. You get used to a certain morning routine and you just keep on fucking doing it, day after day.

My morning routines, food-wise, tend to go in long, drawn-out cycles. I'll spend six months in a row having the exact same thing for breakfast. Then, one day, my wife will say, "I'm really sick of English muffins. Why don't you buy cereal this week?" And then we'll go for six months or so eating the same damn cereal, every morning.

For the past...uh...long, long while (exact numbers are escaping me here, but it's been an assload of time) I've been doing the same thing in the A.M.:
  • Get up.
  • Shower.
  • Get dressed.
  • Walk dogs.
  • Eat breakfast while watching previous night's Daily Show. (N/A on Mondays)
  • Get our lunches ready.
  • Return to bed to briefly snuggle with wife.
  • Leave.
I could do it asleep. There have been times when I'm fairly certain I have done it asleep. I've found myself in my office with a can of Diet Dr. Pepper in my hand and no real idea how I got there.

Well, this morning, I did something different. Tired of my own monumental laziness and ability to somehow allow myself not to run in the evening, I outsmarted me by getting up twenty minutes early, holding off on the shower, walking my poor, confused dogs a full forty-five minutes before they were ready for it, getting lunch ready and putting it in the fridge, throwing on my exercise gear and then going to the gym as soon as they opened to get in a morning run.

It was awesome. I had the place to myself for five or so minutes, people. To myself! Then there's the wonderful smugness you can exude all day when you've already gotten your workout in. Oh, I was so very, very self-satisfied.

Now, of course, I'm falling asleep on my keyboard, but fuck it! I worked out!

After my run, I came home, hopped in the shower, ate an entirely different type of cereal while I sat in my bathrobe! I haven't worn my bathrobe in the house when we didn't have company for years! Then, when my wife's alarm went off, I came in, got dressed, snuggled and left, floating down the street on my own self-worth.

I liked it so much that I'm doing it again tomorrow! Take that, world!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Flame On!

Folks, I just wanted to use my post today to try to set the record straight and maybe do my part to bring a little calm to the chaos:

There appears to be no truth to the rumor that, during today's Olympic torch run through San Francisco, Richard Gere extinguished the flame using nothing but the power of his acting, thus striking a blow for Tibetan freedom.

Again, Gere was not able to use any sort of superhuman powers.

Just to set the record straight.


The Re-return of the Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: No matter how unbelievably awesome a one-night stand is, no matter how hot the other person, no matter how mind-blowing the orgasm, it's never okay to keep the condom as a souvenir.

Taurus: The quickest way to a man's heart is with a rib-spreader.

Gemini: A turkey-burger is a half-assed pussy cop-out when you couldn't choose between a beef patty or a veggie burger. Grow a pair. (Testicles or ovaries, which ever apply to you, Gemini.)

Cancer: You can not make a salad "look more gourmet" by adding chopped marshmallows to it.

Leo: In spite of your most fervent wishes, that puddle of vomit on the floor is not going to clean itself up.

Virgo: No matter how intense your mid-life crisis is, you should never, ever take up skateboarding at the age of 45.

Libra: When you're having that intriguing conversation with your new love interest about your hot sexual exploits past, you may want to leave out the time you masturbated with a rubber chicken.

Scorpio: The proper thing to say when someone near you sneezes is "Geshundheit." Not "You better not have gotten a snot on me, you rancid prick."

Sagittarius: An encounter with an old friend may lead you to question your religious beliefs. Because, seriously, how would a just, loving God have ever let you be so fucking stupid as to hang out with that dipshit, anyway?

Capricorn: Like an elephant, you tend to remember things for a very long time. Also like an elephant, you can eat peanuts with your nose.

Aquarius: The pizza delivery guy? Really?

Pisces: Singing "We've Only Just Begun" as you're dropping your date off at the end of the evening is, I can assure you, the best way to make certain that you won't be having another date.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


It's the Marketing, People

Mayor Bloomberg's Congestion Pricing plan, which would have raised needed funds for mass transit at the same time it discouraged people from driving into the city, was killed yesterday when the state legislature failed to even bring it up for a vote before a midnight deadline.

I'm wondering if this plan--which I was utterly in favor of, as anything that gets more cars off the streets is okay by me--failed because people don't like the title "Congestion Pricing" which sounds sort of like an extra tax on Robutussin.

I was thinking that maybe it would have done better if they'd come up with a more appealing name. Something with ZAZZ!

Maybe you try to make people think they're joining an elite class by calling it something like Executive Class Automotive Entrance.

Maybe you get a celebrity to front the product. You could call it The Bernadette Peters Ticket to Broadway!

Maybe you appeal to a more international clientèle with a translated-Japanese-sounding name like Super Awesome Hot Pricing.

Maybe you go with a Bush Administration-style ironically named program (along the lines of "Blue Skies" or "Healthy Forest Initiative") such as Really Affordable Pricing.

Or, you could almost dare people to complain with a name like Pricing for Big Fucking Cry-Babies Who Can't Leave Their Goddamn Car at Home. That might get some asses on mass transit seats.

Whatever the reason this idea died a slow, ignoble death, I wish they could have made it work. It might have allowed cross-town buses to get from Madison to Park in less than three hours.


Slow Down, Jackass

So often, on my way to and from work, people at the 149th Street/Grand Concourse station will jump off the train and run up/down the steps at top speed, knocking over any man, woman or hermaphrodite in their way in a mad dash to catch a connecting train that may not even be at the platform.

And I guess I bring it up only because I'd like to stop one of them just once and ask them: Do you think that this will be the last train ever? Do you imagine that you will be stuck for eternity on this platform if you should happen to miss a train? Is the life of the 85-year-old lady really so worthless that you'll push her down a flight of stairs so that you can avoid being five minutes late to whatever happy hour toward which you're rushing?

I fully admit that I find it frustrating when I see a train I'd hoped to catch pulling away without me aboard. But I wouldn't want to send a stroller, Untouchables-style, down a staircase in order to get to it.

We need fewer assheads in the world.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Question(s) of the Day

Why does Gatorade taste so completely shitty unless you've just exercised?

Seriously, what's up with that?


My Life in Movies

I've seen a lot of goddamn movies. Thirty-seven years worth of movies, if you count flicks that I vaguely looked toward when I was in diapers. (Not the adult kind; my bowels are 100% functional, thank you.) Today, I was pondering some of those many, many movies and thinking about the rare times when a movie catches you at just the right moment and speaks to you in just the right way and becomes something of a touchstone in your life.

Here then, in a sad, time-wasting act of utter masturbation, is a chronological list of the movies that have actually kind of meant something to me as I've aged into the sad, flabby bastard I am now.
  1. Star Wars--This one's not the least bit surprising. Any guy my age who wasn't completely obsessed with Star Wars is the kind of guy who chops people up and stores them in his freezer. Star Wars affected my world view, my taste in women and--for six year--took up the entirety of my tiny little disposable income. Even the supernatural shittiness of the prequels cannot dim the light that the original shone onto my life all those years ago.
  2. Ghostbusters--This film did not change my life. It did not sum "ME" up. It did not have any kind of lasting affect on my existence beyond a low-grade desire to live in a firehouse and get to slide down the pole whenever I wanted to. This movie is on the list because it so perfectly matched my eighth grade sense of humor that I went back and saw it four times in the theaters. I can forgive Dan Akroyd a whole lot of late-career lameness because of Ghostbusters.
  3. Say Anything--My first date with the girl to whom I lost "it" was to see this movie. In fact, I was so clearly a Lloyd Dobbler minus the athleticism and the good looks that this movie is probably the reason she took "it" from me. Thanks, Cameron Crowe! All subsequent John Cusack movies have kind of counted as touchstones to me 'cause of this one. (Okay, not all of them. Serendipity, I'm looking at you.)
  4. Glengarry Glen Ross--This film came out right around the time I was rehearsing one of the two plays I've done in which I can honestly say I think I did damn good work. It was a production of Speed the Plow and it made me feel like I was an expert on Mamet. So I was wildly enthused when this flick was released. And it nearly lived up to expectation. Nearly. I didn't think that all of the actors necessarily nailed the rhythms of Mametian dialogue, but it was serviceable. Now, I've come to forgive Ed Harris his imperfections.
  5. Before Sunrise/Before Sunset--I was a year or so out of college and my Gen-X slacker life was in full swing when the first of these was released. Loved the talkiness, loved the relationship between the two leads, loved Julie Delpy. Loved Julie Delpy. It just seemed like the movie that Reality Bites wanted to be but sucked too much. It really nailed what it was like to be that age at that time. (If you were a college-educated white kid who hadn't had to serve in Desert Storm or have any other massive trauma in your life beyond an excess of navel-gazing.) Then the second one came out and the characters had aged just like I'd aged, only more successfully. Hope they make another. (This one knocks apart the chronological order a bit, but how can you separate them? You can't, pal. You just can't.)
  6. High Fidelity--See #3 above. I was a bit younger than Rob, but his feelings about wanting to mature and not wanting to be a desperate horndog matched my own. And the flick turned me on to the Beta Band.
  7. Step Up 2: The Streets--No, not really.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Home, Home on the Strange

A grey and shitty-looking morning in New York.

Which sucks extra cups of bong water because yesterday was so very, very gorgeous. Yesterday was a capital "S" Spring day. Just painfully gorgeous.

My wife and I are in the process of kind of sort of thinking about buying a place, mostly because paying someone else's mortgage in your late thirties is a little sad. However, as my wife is the kind of lawyer that does good instead of evil and I teach, we do not make the sort of venture capitalist bucks one needs to own in Manhattan. Seriously, if you are not a millionaire, you cannot purchase a home here.

Well, that's not entirely true, I suppose. There are places that are affordable, but these place have income restrictions. My wife and I make too much to qualify for these places and too little to qualify for everyplace else.

So we've been spending time in other boroughs. (Well, not Staten Island. 'Cause...come on.) We looked last week at a place in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood I know nothing more about than that it got a mention in the theme song from Car 54, Where Are You? This place was a 50's-style apartment building that went co-op at some point and is currently being renovated apartment by apartment as the old inhabitants die off. We saw a very spacious one-bedroom place with nice light and a decent view. Unfortunately, the reason we saw it was that we want a two-bedroom place and this particular apartment was going to have a partial living room-ectomy to add that extra bedroom on. Which would make it not quite so spacious.

Yesterday, we spent a decent chunk of the beautiful afternoon schlepping all the way out to East New York. We were nervous, as the neighborhood was in the top three crime-ridden areas of the city in 2006. We were pleasantly surprised, though, at the street the building is on. A very quiet, tree-lined street full of decent-looking town homes.

The place we were looking at is a HUD property, meaning it had been seized (or something along those lines) and is now being sold at a cheaper price because it needs some work. Which my wife and I are willing to do, to a degree.

It was a solid-looking place. Four bedrooms. Spacious. A tiny front yard and some space out back. Sure, there was a massive hole in the mudroom ceiling through which water was pouring even on a sunny day, but that can be fixed. More disturbing to me--although, admittedly, more of a fixable cosmetic problem--was the fact that something or someone, stray cat or junkie, had crapped all over the upstairs. It was rubbed into the carpet in a most unappetizing manner.

After taking our time appraising the first floor, my wife and I shielded our noses and gave the most perfunctory of glances to the upper level. *Shudder*

It was one of those places that, if it wasn't an hour-long train ride away from Manhattan (and even longer to get to my job in the Bronx) we might have considered it, even with the needed work, even with the junkie poop. But to have all that on top of a torturous commute? Meh.

And so the search continues. I'm thinking we might just build a lean-to in Central Park.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Short, But Deadly

I had a nightmarish experience last week. I had a fifth-grade class in our school's auditorium, transposing theater vocabulary words into concrete objects to help them study for a test. (Which the vast majority of them failed any fucking way, an event so depressing as to drive me to serious goddamn despair.)

Our auditorium, unfortunately, is also used to warehouse students during lunch when it's raining outside. Which meant that, while I was attempting to show my students what a "flyloft" is, there were an assload of noisy, annoying seventh graders seated fifteen feet from us.

Before the story proceeds any further, a little background information: I teach at a K-8 school. We've got seven periods a day and lunch runs Third Period through Sixth. So we've always got at least two grades at lunch at the same time. Eighth graders have lunch at the same time as third and fourth graders, the fifth grade and the sixth grade share a period and first and second graders are together with seventh graders. While younger kids are in the cafeteria, the older kids are outside or, as was the case on the day in question, in the auditorium.

After ten minutes or so of my fifth grade class being utterly and completely distracted because of the noise and because of not being interested in what the fuck an orchestra pit is, I decided to bag it and take them back up to their room, there to finish the review in a quieter setting.

As we went to leave the auditorium, though, we ran into an obstacle. A massive bunch of first graders was standing in the hall, waiting to come into the auditorium. Now, when I say "waiting", I don't mean to imply that they were calmly standing there in neat lines, standing by for permission to move forward. No, instead, they looked a lot like the orcs laying siege to Helm's Deep in The Two Towers. The auditorium lay in front of them, ready for the plunder, and their progress had been slowed by this teacher bringing older kids out. And the orcs weren't happy. No, they weren't.

As if my opening the door had been the signal they'd all been waiting for, they began an unearthly screeching and shoving and surging. They jumped on one another. They bounced off the walls and fell back to the floor. It was like there was a mosh pit going on around my knees. It was as if I'd fallen into one of those rooms filled with thousands of plastic balls, but instead of plastic balls, it was filled with first graders. It seemed as though all those tiny bodies had fused together to form a toddler Kraken, which would pull me down to my doom.

Seriously, those little fucks stomped all over my feet. And the noise! Sixty or so first graders screeching wildly in a small cinder-block hallway is not easy on the ear drums.

Finally, some adult behind them started jabbing them with a cattle prod or something and they began to make their way into the gym. I then collected my fifth graders, who had been highly amused at the way the post-toddlers had physically menaced me, and went upstairs for more ineffective vocabulary review.

Teaching: the toughest job you'll ever wish you didn't have to fucking do.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Also, Just for the Record

I want to state absolutely and without the slightest bit of hesitation: I fucking hate April Fool's Day.

I hate the stupid goddamn fake news stories on NPR and various news websites. I hate the dipshit co-workers who bring in their awesome new fart-machines. I especially hate the way that students think that "Hey, what's that?!?" and pointing behind you is the height of wit.

April Fool's Day blows dead monkeys.

Just so you're aware.


Beard Maintenance

A life-lesson I taught myself this weekend:

Beards need to be trimmed. This is important both to maintain a whisker-length that won't get caught in a paper-shredder and also to prevent one's wife from leaving one, so that one is forced to cook dinner for one.

However, it's important to remember that, when you've trimmed your beard, not all of the little bits of hair will go into the sink or onto the newspaper or out the window, where you want them to. Some will cling to their brethren and hang around your chin for as long as they can.

Then they will fall into your cereal bowl and float disgustingly in the milk, rendering your Count Chocula utterly inedible.

I guess I'm saying it's a good idea to eat breakfast before beard-trimming.


The Sock-tomist

I realized something really pathetic about myself this past weekend: I am the type of person who will keep throwing a single sock back into the laundry and wash it without having worn it because I'm certain that, someday, if I lead a virtuous enough life, the other sock from the pair will magically reappear and I'll be able to wear them both.

It's a sucker's game, people.