Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Sunday, March 22, 2009


...and Goodnight to the Old Lady Whispering "Hush"

Hey folks. I have had the thought in recent months--and heard it expressed by others, as well--that the personal blog may be dying, done in by Facebook and Twitter and other ways to connect with others and/or express oneself online. I know I do not check other people's blogs with the regularity I used to. Nor do I write new posts on this site with anything like the gusto I used to.

And so I'm going to go ahead and close up shop for awhile. Not forever, but for the near future, at any rate. I've come to a few realizations lately, I guess. Having my son has made me realize that I need to set a better example, which would include finding the drive in myself to actually pursue my dreams instead of just letting them kind of peter out. Taking time off for paternity leave has driven home the fact that I don't think I want to be a teacher forever. Putting these two eureka moments together equals an imperative that I get off my ass and get some actual writing done.

So I'm going to focus my energies elsewhere for the time being. I'm not closing this blog down. I know there will be things I want to write here. And there may be a time down the road when I get back in the habit of posting regularly. But for now, Hairshirt's going to be hibernating.

If you've been a regular reader--well, first off, I guess I'd ask what the hell's wrong with you. But I'd also like to say thanks. And if you have even a half-assed interest in reading anything I write down the road, please take a moment to e-mail me at and I will make certain to drop you a line when I start this thing up again.

Happy Trails,

Monday, March 16, 2009



I don't know. If I was one of the executives at A.I.G. and I knew that, oh, everybody in the country was massively pissed off about those bonuses, I think I might take it in my head to say, "Fuck the contract, I'm turning the bonus down."

I mean, what would you rather do: give up a bonus that you receive on top of a salary that's a whole lot more than the average person in this country makes or face an angry lynch mob made up of those average people, all of whom would pretty much love to see you dipped in a vat of boiling cow dung?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Save Us, Barack Obama!

I'm digging the fact that President Obama is rolling back some of the truly heinous shit that Bush left in place, like the limits put on embryonic stem cell research and the legacy of ridiculously massive overuse of signing statements. The last eight years were such a stinking quagmire that I, for one, am practically giddy at the thought of some of that damage being undone.

While the president is working on that, though, there's one action I'm wishing he'd take about which I've head nothing: Can't he do something about finally getting rid of Larry the Cable Guy?

This skidmark on the undergarments of comedy rose to prominence during the Bush Years, just like Paul Wolfowitz. Well, we're not hearing much from Wolfie these days, shouldn't the same hold true of Mr. Cable Guy?

But no. He's still clinging to notoriety, like a barnacle to the bottom of a garbage scow. Please, Mr. President, find some way to scrape him off and let his mind-rotting bullshit sink to the bottom of the bay, never to be seen again.

And, sir, if you could act quickly on this--say, before he's roasted on Comedy Central this weekend and it moves into heavy rotation so that I'm accidentally seeing bits of it as I flip around the dial--I'd be truly grateful, as would many across this country. Thank you.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Did They Fall Asleep?

I went to see Watchmen yesterday. I won't go into what I thought of the movie here--you can hear all about that in the next episode of The Conversation, coming soon--nor will I talk about what it was like to finally see a movie after four months' exile from the multiplex.

What I want to address this morning, briefly is this: I saw this poster, or one very much like it (I think there was also a dude in a cowboy hat in the one I saw) hanging in the lobby of the theater and I have to wonder: what the fuck is going on in this shot? There's Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I get that. I still insist that he's too fucking tall for the part, but I understand what he's doing at the poster's center.

My confusion comes from the fact that all the other people seem to have their eyes closed and their heads lowered. What the hell is that supposed to be?

Are they, I don't know, praying that this movie won't suck massive balls like X-Men III? Did Jackman rush directly to the photo shoot from his hard-workin' performance at the Oscars without showering and everyone else in the shot is trying to maintain the stability of their stomachs? Did someone lose a contact lens and Hugh is the only person not involved in the search?

I guess the most likely explanation is that some Mighty Marvel Marketer said, "We need something that looks goddamn profound. I got it! You guys in the back, look down! (click) Awesome!"

The trailer for the flick looked good. And god knows I'm a giant, slobbering geek and I'll go see most superhero flicks that don't involve Jessica Alba and/or Ben Affleck. But this poster makes me want to avoid this one like the fucking plague.

Plus Hugh Jackman's too goddamn tall to play Wolverine. Dammit.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Bad Times in the Land of Cleve

I have never lived in Cleveland. But I grew up not far from it and went to college even closer. Close enough that Cleveland was the best option when there was a movie out which was indie enough that it wasn't coming to the strip mall cinemas in Kent.

I spent some time, then, in Cleveland, watching movies or going to the art museum or visiting one or another person I knew there. I worked as an extra on a movie there. (The movie is not good and I'm not even slightly visible in it, so please don't interpret the link as an endorsement of what is truly not a great way to spend a couple of hours.)

What I'm trying to say here is that, while I don't have any claim on Cleveland as a home town or even anything remotely like it, I like the place. It's scrappy. It's underrated. It's full of people with enough heart to dearly love teams that haven't won a championship since Rush Limbaugh last saw his penis.

It's a good place and it saddens me greatly to see what's happening to it.

I read last year about the situation in Youngstown, which is much, much closer to where I grew up. The leadership in Youngstown--faced with a population that has continued to spiral downward since the steel mills which had made the town what it was closed in the late 70s and early 80s--decided that drawing new citizens to the town was a hopeless cause and, instead, focused on shrinking the town, actually tearing down neighborhoods of abandoned houses, giving their police fewer vacant buildings to try to keep safe. A shrinking city seemed like a truly bizarre idea. And yet, it looks like something similar is going to be happening in more cities around the country. Cities hit hard by foreclosures. Cities like Cleveland.

These are scary, scary times, folks. I've got friends in Cleveland. I'm hoping things start to take an upturn before the town is overrun with C.H.U.D.s and roving gangs clad in leather vests and feathers. But what's the solution? I sincerely believe that President Obama is doing his best to try to turn things around, but even if everything he's doing works perfectly, it's still going to be awhile before the situation gets better. How can places like Cleveland keep from drowning until the worst is over? What can be done? Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Status Symbol

I've had a couple of people in the past tell me that the reason they're super-hesitant to add people as "friends" on Facebook about whom they have marginal feelings is that they feel that they then have to censor themselves. They want to be able to express themselves freely, which is important, I agree.

I'd never felt this way until recently. Over the last few weeks, I've had some status updates that I wanted to share with the world. I felt that these status updates would help others understand what's going on inside my complex, delicious mind.

But then I stopped and considered how some of the people I'd added as "friends" might feel about my status and I...I censored myself. And it's been eating at my insides ever since. Do I need to mask who I really am to spare the sensibilities of people who've found me online after interacting with me for an hour at the STD clinic? Am I going to let other people's belief in Jesus stop me from trumpeting loudly my feelings about The View? No, dammit. I will not.

But then I'd look stupid if I posted all these status changes on Facebook so long after the fact, so I'm sharing them here:
  • Joe Wack does not want to make love to your anus.
  • Joe Wack isn't sure if that guy was still breathing when I left the scene of the accident. Look, he just jumped out in front of my car. It was an accident. How can I let something like that ruin my life? Joe Wack is scared.
  • Joe Wack has found Jesus!
  • Joe Wack was r-r-r-really fucking drunk when he thought he'd found Jesus, so, nevermind. Jesus is still lost.
  • Joe Wack is LOVING the new edition of Barely Legal Sluts on the Loose!
  • Joe Wack just puked up somthing furry.
  • Joe Wack just found an excellent heroin dealer. His name is Al Vishniac and his address is 987 E. 110th St., Apt. 4-A.
  • Joe Wack hates Mormons.
From here on out, I'm gonna speak my mind, dammit!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


To Bond and Then Not to Bond, That Is the Whatnow?

This cracked me up this morning. IMdB's news feed had this at the top of the page. Halfway down the page, they had this.

You'd think someone maybe would've thought to remove the first one, right?

Just for the record, I think they should embrace an utterly counterintuitive approach and go with Woody Allen for directing the next Bond flick.

Monday, March 02, 2009


God Fucking Dammit!

The second snow day. Only the second time since I became a New York City school teacher that they actually call a snow day and it happens when I'm already on paternity leave! Nine hundred, ninety-nine point nine times out of a thousand, they make everyone shlep to the building in the most inclement weather and then I get the joy of helping fill in for the dozen or so people who live far enough away that they can claim they can't make it in. When I'm not there to benefit from it, they go ahead and cut teachers city-wide a break. There is no fucking justice in this world.