Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dear Passing Car Thief

Dear Passing Car Thief,

Picture yourself behind the wheel of this amazing sports car. No, the word “car” doesn’t do this baby justice: this is a finely-tuned automotive machine. Look at those sleek lines, that sassy spoiler, those eighteen-inch rims. With five on the floor, a turbo-charged V8 and three hundred and fifty-seven horses this baby’s got power to burn. Porsche owners are gonna run crying under their mama’s skirts when they see you coming.

Next, cast an eye on the luxe interior. The console wraps around you like a cockpit, with neon-blue lighting casting a cool futuristic glow. That’s real mahogany inlaid in the dashboard, and thick wool carpeting at your feet. Those are Italian-made bucket seats, with lumbar supports on the driver’s side, and more supple Corinthian leather than you’d find on a whole herd of cows.

Whether you're a full time pro or just some passing junkie looking for something to sell for quick cash, this baby’s just the ticket. This car is flying out of dealerships at $30,000, and you gotta give the dealer five hundred bucks and a massage just to get on the waiting list. Drive it down to the Lower East Side and stop anybody on the sidewalk and they’d gladly give you $10,000 for it. Or take a short hop down to Jersey and pull into any salvage yard and they’d fork over five or six thou easy, just for parts, no questions asked. (I mean, the front and side airbags alone are worth a couple grand!)

Now, you may be thinking this a setup, but I promise you, it's a piece of cake. After dark this street is deserted, and I’ll bet you could pick the lock and hotwire this thing inside of sixty seconds. And the best part is, since this car’s alarm has been going off every four minutes since God created chickens, the people living nearby -- like me -- aren’t even going to bat an eyelash! In fact, when you finally put an end to the incessant shrieking and honking and beep beep beeping, and we hear you peel out of our otherwise-quiet neighborhood, I’ll bet most of us will even say a little prayer that you make it safely to your destination without any interference from the fuzz.

So do us all a favor and steal this car. This is a fine-looking machine in a miserable neighborhood, and that’s one offer that’s not gonna last.

A Helpful Neighbor

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

School uniforms

They're starting to wear uniforms at my kid's school. I guess there's a lot of gay parents there: on Tuesdays he has to dress like a cop.

Live a little.

Relationships are always annoying. Once you get past the big stuff, the small stuff starts to spiral out of control. Over twenty-something years, my partner and I haven’t stopped arguing for one second. For the first year it was all about monogamy, for the second it was commitment, for the third it was about balancing work and home. By the tenth it was all about coathangers, and whether we need to leave the room when we fart.

Year nineteen was marked by an annoying little phrase. “Live a little” was about the only thing Mike ever said. Whenever I had second thoughts about buying something, or hesitated for a split second at the store, out it came. “What, you won’t buy butter unless it’s on sale? Christ. Why don’t you live a little?” “You don’t want to see Rufus Wainright because tickets are a hundred bucks each? Jesus. Live a little, just this once.”

One Tuesday a kid left a flyer on our screen door. “Tuesday at Pizza Village is free topping day!” it announced. I like food and I love bargains, so didn’t even stop to think. Hungry and tired and not looking forward to making dinner, I scurried over to Mike with the ad. “Hey, it’s free topping day,” I said. “Whaddaya say we call?”

He shot me a withering glance. “Live a little,” he said, handing me a crumpled buck. “Spring for two freakin’ toppings for a change.”

Out of all our arguments, I think this one bothered me the most. First, he was implying that I was beyond cheap, and well into stingy. I was frugal, maybe, but somebody had to plan for our future. And second, he seemed to be saying that something as stupid as mushrooms on pizza was what I really needed to brighten life. “Oh, you are so right!” I replied, smacking my forehead. “How can I have been confused for so long! Here I’ve been leading my pitiful, dreary little life of quiet desperation, when I could have been happy and carefree just forking over one little dollar for a bit of pepperoni!”

This year’s argument is more melancholic, seeming like incontrovertible proof that time is moving on. Mike is turning into an old woman, or at the very least Jerry Lewis. He’s become totally fixated on cleanliness, and claims everything has a bad smell. He tosses out our sheets before they get their first spot, dumps socks before they have a chance to fuzz. When we go on vacation he’s temporarily back to his old self, but the bad attitude returns the second we get home. “Christ,” he sneers as we swing open the front door, “What kind of pig sty is this?”

While I unpack he cleans, and cleans, and cleans, but it’ll never be good enough for him. He wakes up in the morning with his nose wrinkled. “It’s a pig sty,” he announces when most people say “Good morning.” “It’s not a place where human beings should live.”

I glance around. Disarray, which is fine with me. Still on this side of squalor. “It’s not that bad,” I say.

“It is,” he announces as his final decision. “And it smells bad too.”

He pours enough Downy into each washload to float the Titanic. He spends two hours making the bed, then glares at the sheets the next morning. Hell, when we first met we didn’t even notice if we had sheets under us. Nowadays we go through them like Kleenex. “You just bought new sheets last week,” I say. “We need new ones already?”

He scrunches his face like a raisin. “They’re dirty, and wrinkled, and disgusting. Plus, they smell bad too.”

One day I was getting dressed and discovered that all my underwear was gone. “Don’t tell me,” I say, sighing. “They were dirty? They were wrinkled? They were disgusting? And they smelled bad too?”

He seems irked that I’ve stolen his arguments, so he rewinds to last year. “Buy some new stuff,” he says. “Live a little for a change.”

The good news is that while time erodes the passion out of relationships, it burnishes them to a high gloss with wisdom. I’ve come to realize these arguments mean nothing at all. No matter how much our paths diverge, I know we’ll always be together, because there’s one important fact that surpasses everything, no matter how annoying all the little details get:

Every time he buys luggage, I take it back to the store. And -- Christ! -- how the old stuff smells.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tasteless and insensitive in less than a hundred words.

A friend of mine has prostate cancer and he's being so weird about it. "I'd rather die than be incontinent," he says. "I'd kill myself before I'd wear diapers." Me, I'm a little different. I like it here. I don't care what I look like. I don't care if poo slides out of me uncontrollably while I'm at chic dinner parties or even just walking down the street. Irate homeowners will scamper out of their houses: "Excuse me," they'll snap, pointing at the sidewalk, "but you forgot to pick up after your dog." "Dog?" I'd reply. "Hell, that's mine. I'm just heading off to find a bigger plastic bag."

I'm a big fan of ChubbyNakedGrandpas.

I've discovered a sure cure for depression that's better than any drug. Head over to Yahoo and join their ChubbyNakedGrandpas group. Every day they'll email you pictures of stark naked, out-of-shape denture wearers in various stages of cleanliness, most of whom are, er, entertaining themselves while somebody captures it for posterity. Just a quick glance at one or two first thing in the morning puts a smile on my face: I mean, if they can find somebody to hang around when they're naked, it should be a piece of cake for me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Orbitz: a Guaranteed pain in the ass

I'm planning a vacation, so I've been searching the internet for cheap hotel rooms. Expedia,, and Travelocity are all roughly the same price, but Orbitz is consistently more.

One hotel I found was $159 a night everywhere else, but $219 at Orbitz. Since they continually parrot their "low price guarantee," I decided to ask for details. Could I book the room for $159 a night through them, since that's what every other website charged? Or, if I paid the $219 they wanted, could they tell me in advance that this was the exact same room, and that I'd have no problem getting a refund?

I got a reply within 24 hours.

Dear Roman Hans,

We received your e-mail seeking assistance in finding the lowest hotel rates online. To search for hotels in your destination, please log on to and select the hotel tab to begin your search. If you would like help using our web site, Orbitz Customer Service would be happy to help you. Just call a representative toll free at 1-866-540-7062..

We promise the lowest hotel rates online, or we'll refund the difference -- it's the Orbitz Low Price Guarantee.



Yeah, that's it. I can't find hotels on their website. I need to call them so I can get put on hold.

I looked a bit more into it, and I quickly caught onto their tactic: charge the highest prices while "guaranteeing" the lowest, so it's up to the poor sap who books through them to notice it and press for a refund.

So, adios, Orbitz. I'm going on vacation without you. And if you want my business in the future, you need to start reading my email. We'll talk about shady business practices next.

I hear the mermaids singing.

Somebody intelligent once said, "Poetry is truth hidden in beauty." I think it's more like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, hidden deep inside a pile of bullshit, but then again what do I know? Try as I might, I can't write the crazy stuff.

When I saw ads in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for the National Library of Poetry's $24,000 contest, though, I knew I had to enter. The Library was "founded in 1982 to promote the artistic accomplishments of contemporary poets. . . . 'We're especially looking for poems from new or unpublished poets,' indicated Howard Ely, spokesperson for The National Library of Poetry, 'we [sic] have a ten year history of awarding large prizes to talented poets who have never before won any type of writing competition.'"

Why, I thought, that describes me to a tee, as long as you ignore the "talented" part. So I sent one of my favorite poems to the Library and a month or so later received this response:

"It is my pleasure to inform you that after reading and discussing your poem, our Selection Committee has certified your poem as a semi-finalist in our . . . North American Open Poetry Contest. . . . [Y]ou have an excellent chance of winning one of 70 cash or gift prizes. . . . And Poet, in view of your talent, we also wish to publish your poem in our forthcoming anthology . . . 'Beneath the Harvest Moon.'"

"'Beneath the Harvest Moon' promises to be one of the most widely read and highly acclaimed additions to the pool of poetic literature. . . . [O]ther poets will appreciate the chance to read your artistry. . . . We're very excited to be able to bring your artistry to the attention of the media and the public through this hardbound edition." With my personal biographical data included, "the media and public can gain a greater awareness about your personal and family history . . . as well as your own personal or philosophical statement."

I held the letter in shaking hands: my dream had finally come true! I'd never been bound in leather, unless you count that weekend with Fergus the Stock Clerk from Stockholm. I was so excited I barely noticed the offer to sell me the "heirloom quality publication" for a mere $49.95, or the $20 fee to include my biographical profile. (Although I did come up with an opening line: "Poet, aesthete, plumber, fop . . . I am a man of all seasons.")

The letter told me to await the publisher's proof, which arrived a few weeks later:

"I'm pleased to inform you that the initial typesetting of your poem for 'Beneath the Harvest Moon' has been completed. The enclosed publisher's proof represents your poem as it is now scheduled to appear in print." And there it was, typeset, with the notation "Wonderful verse!" at the top printed almost like a live person had written it in marker.

But the words "money grubbing" came to mind when I noticed two more offers: they could mount the poem on a "walnut-finished" plaque (clearly different from a walnut plaque) for $38, and they could send me a cassette of "nationally renowned speaker, Ira Westreich" reading the poem to music for $29.95.

There was just one catch: I had to sign a release certifying that I wrote the poem.

What could I do? I was clearly on the brink of international renown and enormous financial gain. But like I said, I'm no Elizabeth Barrett Whoever, so I didn't actually write the poem I sent in. Instead, I sent them a verse I learned as a child. It was so long ago I couldn't remember many of the words, so most of our poem consisted of the words "Tra la la, la la la la."

But I'll never forget how the Banana Splits -- Fleagle, Snork, Drooper and Bingo -- romped and danced while they sang.

In the end I didn't sign the release, because of my mixed feelings about prison. So the poem probably won't be printed. I'll never get that media attention I so deserve. I'll never get the chance to reach other poets of similar artistry. I'll never be bound in leather, or see my work on a "walnut-finished" plaque.

But worst of all, I'll never get to hear the "wonderfully expressive quality" Ira Westreich would give to "One banana two banana three banana four."

Regrets, I have a few.

You may quote me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Barbie Bandits are headed to a new Dream Home.

A couple of attractive blondes robbed a bank the other day, which naturally led to the media dubbing them the Barbie Bandits. Immediately one of their mothers came out swinging. "That certainly wasn't the way I raised her!" she claimed.

Now, I love the picture this invokes. You imagine this woman and her daughter sitting in the kitchen of their Arkansas home, with its cow-patterned wallpaper and knotty-pine breakfast nook, sipping General Foods Hazelnut coffee. Mom is stirring hers with a giant spoon that's got an enameled portrait of Kenny Chesney on the end. "Now Debbie," she says over a slurp the neighbors can hear, "remember: if you ever need for anything and I'm not around, just take a gun into a bank."

What she means to tell the world, I guess, is slightly different: "DON'T BLAME ME! I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!" It may seem a little, er, selfish to scream this after your flesh and blood has been tossed in the slammer for life, but she didn't exactly have a choice of what to say. Her daughter's face has been caught on eighty different security cameras, so it's not like "She's not guilty!" will work.

And so, despite the fact crooks are in jail, this story leaves me feeling sad. Why would a pretty blonde think she has to steal, when the usual wearing-slutty-clothes-and-trapping-a-rich-husband will work? Why would her mom's first reaction be self-defense? And last, why don't the ToyLand second bananas ever get any recognition? I long for the day a plain-looking, dark-haired woman robs a bank and the New York Times calls her the Midge bandit, or a white-bread guy with a bump where his genitalia should be holds up an armored car and Katie Courie calls him the Ken bandit. But I'm not a pretty blonde, so I never get what I want.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Clash of the Nations"

I'd be a horrible publicist. Say, for example, you have a Russian boxer scheduled to fight an American boxer. How would you bill that? I'd call it

"Two guys fighting! You can bet there'll be hitting, and more hitting. And maybe soem blood. Only on Pay Per View."

Luckily, BodogFight hired somebody else to publicize last Saturday's match. They came up with the following:

"BodogFight: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Lindland, Clash of the Nations"

Get that? Clash of the Nations. You got some guy from Bag O'Pretzels, Wyoming fighting somebody from Russia and all of a sudden it sounds like Gorbachev and Bush are rolling up their sleeves and arm-wrestling. America seems to square off against other nations any time one of our natives meets a foreigner in so much as a ping-pong match.

Obviously this proves we're competitive, but doesn't it also prove we're xenophobic? Doesn't it seem like we're desperate to prove we're better than them? Because otherwise we'd see this kind of hyperbole when Americans play each other. We'd hear radio ads like "Tiger Woods meets Phil Mickelson on the greens at Pebble Beach for a game that threatens to SPLIT THE COUNTRY APART!" "America's best bowlers, Wes Malott and Chris Barnes, meet in the alley for a match that's destined to SINK AMERICA INTO CIVIL WAR!!!

But no, that's stupid. It's just a game. Until other countries get involved, and then all bets are off.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Strip off your clothes and shake your ass: It's Latin Music Night!

Every year American Idol has Latin Music Night, and every year I shake my head. For one thing, they never define what "Latin music" is. The songs aren't all written by Latins, and weren't all originally recorded by Latins. This year one contestant sang "Sway," which is a Dean Martin classic. Were these tunes all recorded by people who liked tacos?

"Turn the Beat Around" is absolutely, positively not a Latin song. If I had to put it in five music genres, they would be (in order):

1. Gay
2. Very Gay
3. Really Gay
4. Still Incredibly Gay
5. Disco

On the bright side, it's nice they're trying to expose us to a different types of music, like old-school soul or big band. But the songs they choose don't seem likely to do the trick. Are the words "The rhythm is gonna get you" repeated over and over for eight minutes before a snapped "TONIGHT!" the best Latin lyricists can do? Will somebody really be won over by a song that rhymes "conga" with "longa"? Isn't the booty-shaking and the short-shorts implicit acknowledgement that the music itself is weak?

If I were Hispanic, I'd be offended. I mean, how do skin-tight clothes, booty-shaking, and Gloria Estefan make Latin Night? I'd be furious if I tuned in to catch Gay Night, where everybody was dressed in sequins and see-through tops and singing Elton John songs. That kind of atrocity shouldn't be spewed out on the airwaves: it should stay in our commitment ceremonies, where it belongs.

Still, I guess they mean well, responding to the changing face of America. It's a melting pot here, and every culture should be included. I applaud American Idol, and I look forward to the day when every single one of us will be able to tune in, hear somebody like Sanjaya croon a song in our native language, then gaze in shock at the television and exclaim, "What the hell kind of crap was that?"

Sugar-Frosted Flakes

Everybody's talking about self-esteem these days. How can we criticize our children without destroying their initiative? If we give someone an F, are we saying they're dumb? And how can you get a child to keep trying when you say he's doing a lousy job?

It's not schools that destroyed my initiative. I was a happy, hopeful kid who thought he could do anything. Until I got an Easy Bake Oven, and my whole life went straight to hell.

An Easy Bake Oven seemed like the perfect gift, since cake was the perfect food. You wouldn't have to depend on your parents at mealtime, you could pass the little cakes around to make friends. In reality, though, they were the very definition of false advertising, designed to destroy the hopes of eight-year-olds. The box is festooned with photos of these gorgeous, multi-level constructions put together by professional food stylists. They're light and fluffy, beautifully colored, little miniature marvels that professional bakers couldn't duplicate these with Wiele ovens and full-time assistants.

And then you open the box and there's a plastic drawer with a lightbulb inside.

The whole idea is completely impossible. It's like slapping a picture of a tiny Taj Mahal on a box, and then inside having four sheets of cardboard and a pair of plastic scissors. God knows I tried, and the more I tried the worse I felt. It's not like there are that many ways to mess up: everything's provided, from the pans to the utensils to the mixes. You mix one little envelope of powder with water for the batter, and another for the frosting. You breathlessly slide it under the preheated lightbulb, and half an hour later slide out a little brown blob that looks like something you'd find on the ground behind a goat.

It may seem inconsequential, but it leaves permanent scars. For years afterward the poor kid thinks he's not good enough, not smart enough, not capable enough. He's shy, and quiet, and lacks confidence. This is why he lies about himself online, and when people ask him for photos, he send really old ones, or even pictures of other people that he claims are himself.

It always works out okay in the end, though. When I meet them, I make sure to bring cake.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Baby born from frozen sperm and frozen egg.

Emerges from womb demanding hot chocolate.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


"I saw this guy in Union Square and he had camouflage pants on. Camo pants on, in the middle of the city. I was like, 'dude, that's so awesome. Where'd your bottom half go?'"

No Impact Man

Move over, Al Gore: there's another environmental savior in town. No Impact Man has radically overhauled his life to show us all what needs to be done. He's unscrewed his incandescent light bulbs, given up his car, and started composting in his kitchen.

Most of all, though, No Impact Man -- he refers to himself in the third person, like all important people -- started lecturing. Save the planet! We're in trouble! Everybody needs to do something! While spouting tips we read in Reader's Digest in 1972. Buy recycled stuff! Buy fruit from farmers' markets! If you've got two air conditioners (like No Impact Man does) shut one off once in a while!

Intermixed in with the information we already know, there are smug little stories. He puts on a Black-Eyed Peas song about universal love -- it's No Impact Man's Theme Song, you know -- while the whole family is huddled around the Scrabble board, and happy little Isabella, the Girl Whose Parents Have Forsaken Electricity, starts to dance! Oh, what joy. And oh, what an odd story, since it's not coal that's powering his stereo. He's shut off the TV, though, so that's probably good enough for him.

No Impact Man smugly recounts going to restaurants and refusing paper napkins, helpfully providing a list of what paper products are recycled (like all us Heavy Impact Folks can't read packaging). Yet he also mentions, oddly, that it wasn't until three months into this "experiment" that he told his MAID not to use paper towels. She's been wiping down their apartment, twice a week, with sprays that the folks at Dow-Corning wouldn't touch without protective headgear while he's been lecturing us about screwing up the planet.

There are hundreds of niggling little details that'll make you go "Huh?" His family can't buy anything that's environmentally questionable . . . but if they bought it before this little experiment started, they can use it until it's gone. They can't use the microwave, so they head to a neighborhood boite and have dinner there. And -- my favorite little peccadillo, next to the maid -- electrically-powered appliances are out, but the laundry downstairs is cool.

You're probably already wondering about this guy's motivation. Answer: he's a writer, and his agent suggested environmentalism if he wanted a book deal. It worked, and now there's a movie in the pipeline too. I'm picturing Al Pacino in the title role, changing the lightbulbs in their million-dollar Manhattan apartment, while Meryl Streep as his Prada-clad, Four Seasons-loving wife screams at the maid, and lovely Isabells (Dakota Fanning) dances nearby.

No Impact Man

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New York on a budget

When I first moved to New York I was sure I'd made a horrible mistake. Everything was ridiculously expensive. Haircuts cost more than my rent, martinis cost more than my clothes and dinner out cost more than my education. The more I looked around the more obvious it became: I could only stay within my budget if I didn't do very much, but I didn't exactly move to New York to stay home.

Flipping through the Village Voice in despair I discovered a page of coupons for various restaurants and bars. "Twenty percent off all drinks up to twenty dollars," one said. "Thirty percent off everything up to one hundred dollars," another said. By the time I read the third I was veritably twitching with delight: "Half off your bill up to five hundred dollars," it announced. This was the solution, I realized, cutting them out with shaking fingers They wouldn't make any of these establishments particularly cheap, but they weren't impossible. If I watched my funds the rest of the month I could occasionally venture out to somewhere cool.

A friend here helped me find my apartment, so I owed him a favor. I invited him to dinner, and took a coupon along. "Half off your bill up to five hundred dollars," it read. This restaurant wasn't cheap -- $20 for an entree, $10 for dessert -- but at fifty percent I could almost swing it. We ate and drank and laughed all night, and when the bill came I tried to hold my smile. $300 it read, instantly shattering my happy, boozy haze. I scrolled down the endless list of numbers in disbelief: they'd charged for everything. Twelve bucks for water, eight for breadsticks, six for salad dressing. I'd have to live on Wendy's for the next couple weeks to be able to pay my rent, but I tried to look at the bright side: thanks to my coupon I'd proven that it was possible for a naive little cowpoke from Los Angeles to occasionally mingle with all the fashionable folks of New York.

I handed my credit card and the coupon to the waitress, who peered at it blankly. "Half off the bill up to five hundred dollars," I said helpfully.

She glanced at it for a second, then thrust it back at me. "You ain't up to five hundred dollars yet," she snarled.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Captain of sunk cruise ship blames water.

The captain of a cruise ship that sank off Athens, Greece the other day blames "strong currents" for the accident. "I felt the ship, which had been on a normal course, slip to the right because of sea currents," he said. "I gave the order for a full turn left, but there was not enough time for the ship to respond." The ship struck rocks and sank, and two French tourists are still missing.

Now, call me crazy, but I don't consider this a reasonable excuse. Shouldn't a boat be, you know, prepared to handle water? Wasn't it designed to float no matter what? I mean, I don't think the designers or manufacturers have conditions attached: "Yeah, this'll be great to take out of the open sea. Just as long as the water stays calm."

This kind of stupidity makes me wonder about other modes of transportation. I mean, say you're on an airplane, flying across the country. You're reading a year-old copy of Time magazine and picking at your lunch: a piece of crusty yellow chicken and a slice of stale bread. Suddenly the plane takes a sharp nosedive. You fly up out of your seat, the oxygen masks drop, and screams of distress ring throughout the cabin. One horrifying minute later, the plane crashes into a Cracker Barrel restaurant just outside of Cincinnati. When paramedics reach the wreckage they discover all the passengers are dead and the captain is fading fast.

"It's not my fault," the captain says they strap him to a stretcher. "It's that goddamned air!"

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I'm a big Rachael Ray fan. Seriously.

I'm the kind of person who swims against the tide. I think bacon is disgusting. I'd rather read the Post than the Times. And I think Rachael Ray is one of the coolest folks on earth.

Of course, I'm not totally crazy. I won't try to pretend Rachael doesn't have her faults. She's way too polished, too calculated, too easily amused. She whips up meals out of standing rib roasts and ice cream, then declares them to be healthy and cheap. She says it saves time to wash your produce when you get home from the market, so you won't have to wash it when you're cooking. Frankly, this is preposterous. It doesn't actually save time, since you'll be washing it all regardless, and there are plenty of foods like mushrooms and strawberries that ten minutes after contact with water turn into inedible lumps.

The fact is, I don't think she washes her produce at all. Sure, I can't prove that her parsley or her apples or her red peppers have never seen the inside of a sink. With some food, though, you can easily tell when it's been washed and when it hasn't, and these things clearly haven't been touched. How'd she clean that celery without pulling off the stalks? How she get the dirt off those leeks without chopping them up? And the cabbage: did she wash all the leaves really thoroughly, then carefully reattach them to the head?

But hey, I'll admit it: this is just sour grapes. I'm insanely jealous of an attractive, talented woman with worldwide fame. In fact, I'd kill to be like Rachael, but the only thing I know anything about is sex. I'd carry my toys around in one big armful, I'd say "Yum-O!" before I put anything in my mouth, and I'd tell guys to put their condoms on first thing in the morning because that'll save a hell of a lot of time.

Bush: "You can't make me, make me, MAKE ME!"

Nobody's happy with President Bush's position on global warming. Every other world government wants America to make laws and meet deadlines to reduce carbon emissions. Mr. Bush says he's done more than enough: he's asked the auto companies to make cars that get better mileage, and for God's sake, there are limits to what a human being can do.

Yesterday he reiterated that we're already doing what we can. “Whatever we do,” he said, “must be in concert with what happens internationally. Unless there is an accord with China, China will produce greenhouse gases that will offset anything we do in a brief period of time.”

So, this is America's official position, and hopefully it'll get the rest of the world off our backs. It didn't wash as an excuse when we were grade-schoolers, but maybe coming from the leader of the free world it will: "If China doesn't have to, then why do I?"

Scientology is AMAZING!

Scientology is a fantastic philosophical system developed by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Funded by some of the world's most celebrated celebrities, it cures postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress, and homosexuality, and does away with the need for psychiatry. Using simple machines like the E-meter, they solve complex problems like crime, illness, and war.

In fact, they can cure just about anything, provided you don't need tangible proof. Because for something like losing weight, Scientologists turn to Jenny Craig. That's how Kirstie Alley, one famous Scientologist, lost 75 pounds. So while Scientology could easily cure all the ills of the world if we'd just let them, apparently it's no match for twenty-minute consultations with women who attended a training course to sell you frozen food.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Iraq: like Indiana in the summertime.

Some Republican senators took a little jaunt to Iraq and were startled, positively startled by how wonderful it all was. This was concrete proof that we were making terrific progress there, they said, and that we needed to keep up the good work.

John McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful, and three Congressional colleagues described a local market as a happy little nirvana full of welcoming Iraqis. Representative Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, announced that it was "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime."

Yes, it certainly was. Like a normal outdoor market in Indiana where security is handled by a hundred soldiers in armored Humvees, where American attack helicopters circle overhead, where sharpshooters are posted on roofs and where everyone wears bulletproof vests.

If that's Indiana in the summertime, I'll think I'll stay in Brooklyn, thanks.

BM: It's what's for dinner.

Could somebody please explain to me why Boston Market still exists? The name tips you off to the problem: I mean, when everything they serve is brown, you'd think they'd be a little more careful with their initials. You go there and you stand in line and you choose between three or four entrees and a couple sides. It’s been sitting around for a while so you pick whatever looks closest to its original color and they plop half a spoonful onto a plate and staring at it pitifully you carry it over to an empty, food-crusted table.

And you think, isn’t this what it’s like to eat in PRISON?

These are the main reasons I don’t want to go to jail: I don’t want to eat old, discolored food, I don’t want angry people making minimum wage to portion it out, and I don’t want to eat a meal where the largest component is cornbread. To be fair I guess there are a couple differences -- in prison you get nicer utensils, and you get enough food to survive. After a couple Boston Market meals even Jared from Subway would be overturning tables and jabbing the help with a sharpened spork.

Take their “family meal for four,” for instance: you get four sides, four cornbread, and one and a quarter pounds of turkey. Now, this works out to a little over four ounces of turkey per person. In fact, this is so little turkey that you could dump it into a liter of Coca-Cola and still call it TURKEY-FREE. If my folks had served this for dinner I’ve have been angrier than when I came home from summer camp and found all my belongings piled up on the lawn.

People must buy this stuff, though, which strikes me as pretty remarkable. Because if your average turkey is sixteen pounds and each person gets a quarter-pound, they’re feeding sixty-four people with just one bird. You start wondering why they don’t get more press -- I mean, Jesus fed fewer people with all those loaves and fishes, and he got massive coverage in the Bible.

They’re just as stingy with their sides. For instance, they think one serving of corn is like a spoonful. I feel like telling them, hey, corn is not an endangered species. It grows on stalks, from the ground. Yet with a scoop of mashed potatoes and an inch-thick slice of meat loaf this is what they call an “individual meal,” and it costs $5.99. You could wander around Costco, get more food for free, and the people smile when they serve it to you. Set the Boston Market “meal” out on the street and pigeons wouldn’t fight over it. They’d waddle over, glance at it and waddle back. “Maybe later,” they’d think. “I saw some strawberry Bubblicious over by the porno newsrack.”

If you’re still hungry when it’s time for dessert, you’re going home hungry. I’ve been to Thanksgiving for like thirty years straight and let me tell you, a pie serves six people, tops. Whenever I serve one I make the first cut down the middle and immediately some wiseguy yells, “I WANT THE PIECE ON THE LEFT!” Make more than two more cuts across it and people are going to start throwing ashtrays. At Boston Market, though, a pie serves like eighty. They slice them with laser beams because when they use a knive nine or ten servings stick to the blade. Try serving a piece this thin at home and people will laugh at you, right before they start looking for blunt objects. “Uncle Fred, you’ve already had a half-inch of pie. Leave a quarter-inch for Aunt Edna.”

Yet somehow Boston Market can be stingy and people keep coming back. I think it’s because they keep apologizing, over and over. Like six months after they opened the first billboards appeared: “We aren’t such stingy bastards any more!” You go in and give them another chance but now they’re doling out the mashed potatoes with a teaspoon. “Fooled ya!” they say. Their stock plummets again and there's more apologizing. These days the commercials promote “the new Boston Market.” And you walk in and now they’re measuring the turkey with calipers, on a gram scale.

There’s a guy down the street from me who’s freer with his merchandise, and roast turkey doesn’t have a street value of fourteen thousand dollars an ounce. I tell him the story and he stares at me in disbelief. “One pie? Eighty people?” The calculator in his head starts going, and dollar signs appear where his eyeballs used to be. He calls somebody on his cellphone and as I wander off he starts to talk excitedly about Colombian farmers planting vast fields of cherry trees, and unmarked airplanes dropping baked pastry shells over abandoned airfields.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Kids today don't know the Bible. Republicans blame our SCHOOLS.

Every Sunday the stupidest newspaper in the world, the New York Post, publishes the stupidest comic strip in the world, Mallard Fillmore. Actually, it's less of a comic strip than a right-wing lecture delivered by a large, frequently bemused duck in a tweed suit. This duck spouts off about all the bizarre left-wing conspiracies running rampant in the world today -- recycling, global warming, minimum wage -- and makes unfunny, logically-questionable declarations about them. It's rather less a comic strip than an animated visit with your crazy grandpa.

This week's work, if we can call it that, consists of two pictures. In the first, we see the duck from over his shoulder, reading a newspaper. "According to this new book," he's thinking -- since apparently it'd be dumb to think a fully-clothed duck who reads newspapers can talk -- "fifty percent of U. S. high-school seniors think that Sodom and Gomorrah were married. . . . "

In the second part, the duck is looking out at us, bemused. "Apparently," he thinks, "the people who want to 'keep religion out of our schools' are doin' a heck of a job. . . . "

Now, maybe Republicans throughout the world will shake their heads and tsk-tsk and say this is another example of the world going to hell in a handbasket. But a second's thought -- apparently an unrealistic deadline with the comic's creator, Bruce Tinsley -- reveals the reality behind this declaration. Let's phrase the statistic in another way:

More than half of American parents don't teach their kids Bible stories.

Handy to know, isn't it? I mean, because if most adult Americans aren't teaching their kids religion, why on earth should our schools?