Friday, May 30, 2008

Rachael Ray's Scarf Suspected of Offering Support to Terrorists

Wow. Next they'll find out "EVOO" is some kind of code.



A plastic surgeon has written a children's book about nose jobs, tummy tucks and breast implants. My Beautiful Mommy is designed to help four to seven-year-olds prepare for their parents' plastic surgery so they aren't shocked by the results.

In the story, a little girl's mother gets a tummy tuck, breast implants and nose job. "You see," the mother says, "as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael [coincidentally, the name of the author] is going to help fix that and make me feel better."

When it comes to her nose job, the mom warns that she will look different after the bandages come off. The girl asks: "Why are you going to look different?" Mom responds: "Not just different, my dear - prettier!"


"Oh, mommy!" the daughter squeals at the end. "You look sooo beautiful! I love your new nose and new chin and new eyes and new cheeks!"

"Thank you very much, sweetie," the happy parent replies. "But I'm dad."

You Lost Me

I'm really, really glad I stopped watching Lost. See, I'm not a fan of science fiction, as I find reality interesting enough. I like what I read or watch to reflect the world, to teach me something new about people or relationships, or remind me that even a cold, hard world can still be both entertaining and fulfilling.

This doesn't often happen in science fiction. There, robots run amok until some plucky human manages to turn the tables on them. A scienist clones Hitler and he rises to power again, aided by a mind-controlling chemical infused into tortilla chips. A faraway planet named Zardox is ruled by a blonde, three-breasted supermodel in a gold lamé bikini who enslaves men for their sexual services.

No offense, but I don't think any of these are going to illuminate the mysteries of life.

For the first season, at least, it looked like Lost was reality-based. Sure, much was unexplainable. Locke, paralyzed from the waist down, regained the ability to walk. Jin was sterile but got Jun pregnant. Rose's cancer was cured. We grasped at straws. Weird electromagnetic radiation did it, we thought. Or maybe they were all just medical flukes.

The castaways started seeing and hearing things. Still possible, we maintained. Mass hallucination. Drugs. A conspiracy, and holograms.

Then a giant polar bear charged through the jungle. Oh, please! we screamed. This is preposterous!

Don't worry, the producers assured us. There's a logical explanation for everything.

And then a black pillar of smoke appeared and killed Mr. Ecko. Logical explanation my ass, I thought as I shut off the TV.

Fast forward three years later. So much more has been revealed! Logical Explanation, Part 1: some people can travel through time, and they can also make things appear and disappear at will.

I'm surprised more people aren't feeling cheated by the program. Remember how pissed off we were when, in a Dallas season finale, Pam woke up and everybody realized the entire season was a dream? Hell, that's nothing compared to Lost, where they just picked up the whole island and moved it somewhere else.

Maybe we're just getting used to being deceived, I think. Maybe Bush is responsible for all this. We were perfectly justified in attacking Iraq, he said. Just wait and see. There's a logical explanation!

Three years later: See, there was this meth lab that we thought was used to build WMDs. . . .

Me, I wish we could learn something from these deceptions, but what can the lesson be? To be more suspicious? Not to trust anybody? That's hardly progress. We have to trust. We have to hope. Which means we'll all be sitting quietly, fingers crossed, until the three-breasted chick in the gold lamé bikini appears.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

According to the latest Star magazine, lovebirds Rihanna and Chris Brown "sing to each other all the time."

In fact, just this morning they sang "Did you use up all the Prell-a, ella, ella?" and "I think I might have Rubella, ella, ella."



Tony Soprano's blue boxer shorts are being auctioned by Christie's next month, and are expected to fetch $500.

You know a gay man is going to buy these things. And if there's so much as a single pube on them, there'll be more shooting than they had on the show.



Two monkeys had sensors implanted in their brains and their arms tied behind their backs to see if they could learn to control a mechanical arm using just their thoughts, a new study shows.

The monkeys eventually learned to feed themselves with the arm, after they spent eight days flipping off the scientists.



La Scala, the Italian opera house, has commissioned Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth to be turned into an opera.

You know how at the end of Tosca the title character jumps off a building? At the end of Inconvenient Truth: The Opera the entire audience does.

Repeat Thursday: Big Feet: Big Stuff or Big Bluff?

In the history of the universe, ever since Nothing turned into Something, since planets formed from cosmic dust and little green salamanders evolved into Homo Erectus, there have been exactly four studies to determine whether Big Feet mean Big Meat.

Scientists have examined virtually everything: why the sky is blue, why birds sing, why toast always lands butter side down (Svenska Joornal der Breakfaast, 1997, pp. 162-217). Why the penis ennui? When I'm hanging around some bar, trying to choose between the reasonably-attractive tall guy and the drop-dead gorgeous short guy, the last thing on my mind is dirty bread.

Gay people blame homophobia for all kinds of stuff, but I'm thinking it's involved here as well. This is the most frequently asked question of all time, surpassing even "Who killed JFK?" and "Why is Audrina Partridge famous?" A million times a day somebody asks if there's a connection, and that's just the folks who catch me in clothes.

Scientists, I'm guessing, don't want to be tarred by that "gay" feather. It's okay to grow a spare ear on the back of a mouse, or genetically merge chickens with Miracle Whip so they'll start laying egg salad. But get another man excited? That's just plain weird. What are the other scientists going to think? "That Günther, he likes the penis a little too much," they'd tell their assistants. "Now go sew these lips on that dog." And how's his wife going to feel when he comes home and recounts his day? "Honey!" he calls, setting his briefcase on the hall table, "I saw a real whopper this morning!" She might feign enthusiasm to his face, but you know she's going to tell her family he's unemployed.

Even these four studies seem a little skittish, since they all have serious flaws. The first declares there's no significant correlation between penis length and shoe size, though somehow they've avoided handling erect penises. They "gently stretch" them, like they're tight socks, and measure them that way. Because, you know, who's got the energy to get a guy hard?

I want to tell these researchers that nobody cares how stretchy penises are. I have friends who have sex with rubber plants, and friends who have sex with balloons, but I don't know anybody who wants to get screwed by taffy. Then I notice their disclaimer: they don't need to measure erections, because an earlier study showed a strong correlation between stretched length and erect length.

This sounds a little farfetched to me, so I check it out. I'll just say two things about that study: one, math is boring even with big dicks involved; and two, while the correlation between stretched and hard length was 0.793, the correlation between soft and hard length was 0.678.

Translated into English, it means guessing how much bigger a stretched penis will get is just slightly more reliable than guessing how much bigger a soft, dangly penis will get. And if that were even remotely possible, I wouldn't have cried myself to sleep three times last week.

A few months later a second group of scientists comes along, and they decide they can do better. "To hell with stretching dicks!" they proclaim. "We'll have guys measure their own!"

I'll pause here as we all laugh. Mature men with advanced degrees, wearing white coats and stethoscopes, based a study on the assumption that men wouldn't lie about their endowments. Maybe they phoned the guys and asked how long their dicks were, or maybe they shoved them into little cubicles while they waited squeamishly outside. Either way seems pretty silly to me, and I buy my cologne from Rite Aid. Doctors can remove your spleen or transplant your gallbladder or even smear a woman's pap, but getting a guy visibly excited, well . . . that's not somewhere anyone wants to go.

Anybody who's ever answered a personal ad knows how that study turned out. They didn't find any correlation between shoe size and penis length -- maybe because regardless of shoe size, everybody reported nineteen inches. Guys lie about everything, even when they know they'll get caught. "That's in dog years," they admit when you question their age. "That's on the moon," they say when you doubt their weight. As for endowment, cold weather is a popular excuse. Except I lived with one of these guys for nearly a year, and two weeks in Death Valley wouldn't have nudged him up to small.

Eventually a third research group steps into the breach. "That second study was nonsense," they decree, "so we're going to reenact the first." They stretch, they measure, and there's no correlation.

The veil is lifted slightly by our fourth and final group, though they're stretchers as well. "We think we found something in index fingers," they announce, "but we just didn't see enough penises." You can criticize these guys if you want -- they should get better funding, or try to sign up volunteers -- but I just want to buy them a beer and say, buddy, you and me both.

And so here I sit, a ridiculously tall man who gets asked three hundred times a day if big feet mean big meat. I don't like sharing my own personal data, at least until somebody's bought me a drink, so I've always said nobody knows. Now I can add a well-informed postscript: that nobody's done a study comparing erect penis length to shoe size, or finger length, or height. That the geniuses in our prestigious research institutes have more pressing things to do, like calculating the force required to shoot a sheep to the moon (Applied Ovine Ergonomics, Nov. 2002, pp. 523-81). That maybe it's time gay scientists stepped up to the plate.

Heck, I'll volunteer, if that'll help. Because when my time comes, I'd be pretty damned proud to have this on my tombstone:

Here lies RomanHans.

He wasn't a doctor, or a scientist, or even particularly smart.

But he sure wasn't afraid to get a guy hard.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surprise

I have to do something. Every morning I wake up and it's like my eyebrows have grown just a little bit bigger, until they threaten to consume my face. It looks like two squirrels are scurrying across my forehead, and very soon there's just going be to one. Years ago, though, after an overzealous afternoon with a razor blade, I learned that shaping and tweezing your facial hair is like trying to remove your own gall bladder. This time around, I decide, I'll let a professional handle it.

I don't exactly keep up with the trends, but I know about threading. I've seen it on the news, where an Asian woman wielding something like dental floss wraps a coil around a stray hair and yanks it out, faster than the blink of an eye. While I run my daily errands I pass eight or nine threading salons, and I slow in front of every one. I feel my eyebrows swelling until I can barely keep my head up. I think, why don't I just go in and get it done?

You hear all these rumors about New York metrosexuals, but I'm the only guy in the salon I finally choose. There's so much estrogen in the building, in fact, I feel like I've accidentally stumbled into Pinkberry. Mercifully, the procedure is quick and painless. Five minutes and fifteen dollars later, the woman passes me a hand mirror. My eyebrows are far apart and half their original size. The delicate arch makes me look ever so slightly surprised.

I look at the woman. She looks at me. "Well, I think they look good," she says.

I race to the bathroom of a nearby Bed Bath & Beyond and survey the damage. They could definitely be worse. They're certainly not that 30s Jean Harlow brow, the thin Sharpie squiggle dancing below the hairline. They could almost pass for natural. Still, the arch is sharp enough to change my default expression. I'm no longer bored. I'm not exhausted. If I keep my face entirely still, I'm somewhere between inquisitive and questioning. Add in even the slightest additional surprise, though, and I look like a man fleeing Godzilla.

I run my remaining errands as I struggle to keeping my face utterly placid. Inquisitive eyebrows aren't such a horrible thing, I discover. They have the attitude that I don't, second-guessing every word I hear.

I stop at a fruit stand for a mango and some strawberries. "That'll be twelve dollars," the man says. I look at him. He looks at me. "Okay, okay," he snaps. "Maybe it's just ten."

I drop in Designer Shoe Warehouse to see what's new. There's a pair of Ecco shoes I almost like but they're clunky, and they only come in brown. "Those are absolutely perfect," a clerk says. I look at her. She looks at me. "If your girlfriend's named Rainbow and you wear fringed vests," she adds.

By the time I head home it's late, and the subway is deserted. Still, a middle-aged man sits down right next to me. His suit is cheap, his hair's thinning, his moustache nearly hides his mouth. "You should be a model," he says, just out of the blue. "I mean, you are absolutely gorgeous. You've got an amazing face, and it looks like you've got a really hot body. You could be, like, in one of those Calvin Klein ads, just wearing underwear. David Beckham's got nothing on you."

I look at him. He looks at me.

"Well, I wouldn't turn off the lights when I fucked you," he says, so imagine my surprise when he did.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

So, I go to the doctor. Nothing serious: I found something weird on the sole of my foot, and I'm not sure if it's growing out or burrowing in. After the guy finishes with me, I go to the receptionist's desk to pay the bill, but she's chattering away on the phone. She puts her hand over the mouthpiece and whispers, "We'll send you a bill," and I say okay, sure.

A few days later I get a bill in the mail for $125, which is actually pretty cheap for a New York doc. I write him a check and mail it off. And a couple weeks later I get another bill, this one marked PAST DUE. Office visit, $125.

I call the receptionist. "I sent you a check a couple weeks ago," I say after fifteen minutes listening to the Boston Pops.

"Did you?" she asks, not even pretending to sound sincere. "Are you sure?"

I assure her that I always pay my bills, but her condescension doesn't fade. I tell her I'll write them another, and flush with victory she says, "Drop this one in the mailbox, okay?"

Fast forward to a couple weeks later. I open my bank statement, and there it is in black and white: two checks to the doctor, each $125, both cashed.

Yes, and I'm the flake.

I call the receptionist back and only listen to fuzzy classical for eight minutes. "You told me you didn't get my check, so I paid you again," I declare. "I want my $125 back."

"Absolutely no refunds or exchanges," she snaps.

"I'm not trying to swap my foot cream for Percocet," I say. "I paid you twice for one visit. You should refund the money from the second check."

"We absolutely, positively never refund money. We can, however, credit your account."

I reluctantly agreed -- it's not like I had a choice -- and now I've got a credit burning a hole in my pocket. It's like having a gift card, and I hate gift cards. I put them in my wallet and forget about them, and when I finally try to use them the monthly fees and surcharges have sucked them dry.

Whenever I get a gift card, then, I make a special trip to the store, and I use it. Right away, whether I need something or not. I decide to do this with the doctor credit, but I'm thinking I can give this thing a positive spin. One free doctor visit! One free illness, one free misadventure, like a Get Out of Jail Free! card. I can do something dangerous, something foolhardy, something I've always wanted to do but never had the nerve.

It's Fleet Week here in New York, with thousands of hunky sailors in town, so I'm thinking first I'll head to the docks and try to make a new friend. If I get through that unscathed, I'm having lunch at Serendipity 3.
Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer suffers from a condition called Objectum-Sexuality, which means she falls in love with stuff. Not the "I've got to have that!" kind of love, but the "Take me! TAKE ME NOW!" kind of love.

She saw the Berlin Wall on TV when she was a child and was instantly smitten, like when the rest of us saw Sean Connery in From Russia With Love. She pinned his photos to her bedroom wall and visited him every chance she got, and on her sixth visit they tied the knot before a handful of guests. They kissed, but just honeymooned locally. And that's when she took his name.

The relationship was a long and happy one, and Mrs. Berliner-Mauer was devoted to her spouse. "The Great Wall of China's attractive," she declared saucily, "but he's too thick - my husband is sexier."

Unfortunately, like all love stories, this one comes to an unhappy end. While the rest of mankind rejoiced as the Wall was almost entirely demolished in 1989, Mrs. Berliner-Mauer was horrified. She never really got over it, and eventually left the Wall for a garden fence.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I found this great website that does scientific age progressions. You upload a photo to the site, type in what age you want the person to be, and voila! Ten seconds later it shows you an altered photo of what the person will look like at that age. I've been playing around with it all morning, putting in hundreds of photos I've found on various celeb websites.

Here's an interesting one. Below left is David Cook, the American Idol winner, just a few days ago. And below right is what the computer thinks Mr. Cook would look like with the pallid complexion, the beady eyes, and the receding hairline of a man nearly twice his age.







Present DayComputerized Progression to Age 50
For years religious idiots have been nagging Starbucks to change their logo. It was obscene, they said, picturing a happy, topless mermaid. So what if mermaids don't exist: boobies are dirty whether they're on a woman's chest or dangling from your car's rear view mirror. And what if our children see them? Perky breasts might corrupt them forever -- though they were nursing mere weeks ago -- and they're always buying $12 double-skim soya frappuccinos, you know.

Naturally, Starbucks ignored these people for the cranks they are. After the stock plummeted like 117% in the last two weeks, though, they started to think maybe these cranks might actually be hurting business. They caved in, and last week the new logo debuted on their coffee cups.

I don't know: I can't help but look at this new logo and think they've jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Friday, May 23, 2008

GB5 at the Eagle, Part 2

Every Friday and Saturday night, New York City fills up with New Jersey residents. They stream across the border en masse, like illegal immigrants, clutching Nokia phones and bottles of imported beer instead of canteens full of water. The girls are all dressed like hookers, whether they're thin, fat, ugly or pretty, the only difference being the kind of money they'd command. The guys flash wads of cash and exude the confidence of experienced pimps.

Sure, the girls work at the Tanning Hut and the guys install air conditioners, but they know the act that nature demands if they ever want to get laid.

The Gay Blogging Star Trek Collector and I are in a taxi weaving in and out through the crowds. We make small talk, too preoccupied to bother with deep conversation but too polite to fondle each other while a middle-aged Turk watches from the front seat. After about ten minutes, the cab pulls in front of a pre-war apartment building in south Chelsea that takes up an entire city block. Richard pays off the driver, and two minutes later I'm standing in his apartment being herded toward a couch.

The apartment is a lot nicer than I expected. It's completely West Elm, all light fabrics and dark woods, with four or five large, minimalist pieces in each room and nothing to clutter it up. There are sheer curtains billowing in every window, and in the living room perfectly coordinated pillows with a vaguely Indian motif are positioned at the end of the long, gray couch.

Richard fetches me a beer, and before I have a chance to take a sip his tongue is wrestling with mine. I've barely decided if I want my eyes open or closed when his hands go wandering to my waistline. He unbuckles my pants, then yanks at them until he's exposed the part he wants. One last kiss and his face disappears for good.

That's annoying, I think, my eyes open wide. I mean, I work out. I've got perfectly attractive areas in between my face and my dick. It's insulting when guys have that kind of narrow focus. It's like inviting somebody over for dinner, and they wave away every dish before dessert. "I just really like dessert," they say, and maybe that's true, but it'll still make you question whether your eggplant parmesan is up to snuff.

As I watch him, I realize how much a blow job is like a car wash. Your vehicle disappears into a soggy tunnel, where it's rubbed and scrubbed and buffed by all sorts of hidden equipment. Richard goes over every curve, paying careful attention to the nooks and crannies. If this were a car wash, there'd be a Mexican guy waving a rag and tooting my horn right now.

"Jusht let me know if thish ish making you uncomfortable," he says, as though through a mouthful of Sugar Pops.

"No, it's great," I moan. "It's fantastic."

My libido sprints toward the finish line, so I desperately search for things to slow it down. I pull off his clothes, then mine. He veers right back to the same area, as if magnetized. "Tell me if you want me to shtop. I'll shtop."

"No, you're doing fine."

Rather than nod or smile -- movements possibly curtailed by the task at hand -- he stares up at me somberly, like the lawyer in that commercial looking for people with mesothelioma. "Sherioushly, thish ish pretty rude of me. You went to the bar to meet friendsh, and I shidetracked you. You didn't want a blowjob at all, and here I am forshing one on you. I wouldn't be shurprised if you shoved me away."

I get the picture. I grab his head and hold it still. "Okay, what's the problem? What are you trying to say?"

"Argue with me," he says. "Don't make it eashy. Pretend I'm taking advantage of you."

I sigh. I should have expected it: another sex specialist. Too many gay men are like sexual gourmets. As kids they're thrilled sick with a corn dog and fries, but ten years later they send back their entrée if the rhubarb foam is too flat.

"Okay," I concede. "Stop. Stop! Don't! You stop that right now."

"That'sh absholutely pitiful," he says.

"Well, I'm naked in your apartment, so it's kind of a stretch to act like I don't want it."

"See if this helpsh, then," he says. "I don't have a blog, and I don't collect Shtar Trek memorabilia."

I laugh. "That's the worst joke I've heard in years."

"I'm sherious," he says. "You shee any Shtar Trek crap around here? And I barely know what a blog ish."

All of a sudden the room freezes. Am I the stupidest guy in the world? I wonder. All the times I've felt idiotic over the previous few days come rushing back: getting a computer virus downloading that Cyndi Lauper cd from a website in Kazakhstan; ordering a vegetarian meal at a barbecue joint and discovering it's four kinds of beans. Once again I've been tricked into screwing by some horndog who knows I just fell off the carrot truck. "You son of a bitch," I say.

"Yeah," he says, slurping faster, "that'sh better."

"Goddammit," I snap. "This is over. Take my fucking dick out of your mouth."

"Oh, yeah, buddy. That'sh hot. That ish sho fuckin' hot."

"No, I'm serious. Fuck off! I'm not doing this any more. You fuckin' took advantage of me, you asshole. I wouldn't get a fuckin' blowjob from you if you were the last man on earth."

"Shit," he stammers as his movements turn jerky. "I'm gonna . . . I'm gonna . . . "

I glance down at him angrily and suddenly realize I haven't seen a hotter scene in years. The man is absolutely lost in bliss, his blue eyes rolling back into his head, his muscular shoulders flexing in orgasmic spasm, his strong, stubbled jaw glistening with the sheen of spit.

And then there's a large part of me looking happier than it's been in quite some time.

What can I say? If I could control myself, I wouldn't have eighteen pumpkin-pie scented Yankee Candles in my storage closet right now. We erupt more or less simultaneously, accompanied by my last protestations for him to cease once and for all. As my heartbeat returns to normal and my breath returns I find all my bad feelings have disappeared. I'm not mad. I don't feel guilty. I don't feel like I've been taken.

Actually, I feel pretty good.

He slides next to me on the couch and gives me a big, sloppy kiss, then grabs the remote and turns on the TV. We finish our beer as we watch the end of Saturday Night Live, and shortly after one I head home.

Two days later, I'm thinking about giving Richard a call. This time at least I'd know what I was getting into, and I'd prepare for the sex in advance. I grab a piece of paper and try to write up some notes. I figure the theme has to be "I Can't Believe I'm Letting You Suck Me Off Again!" but beyond that I'm coming up blank.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

When you stop to think about it, capitalism really is an amazing thing. Corporations exist to provide a service while making a profit, of course, but it's often a tricky task to keep the balance right. Capitalism does that by encouraging competition.

When a corporation is profitable, competitors will spring up, and that competition naturally lowers prices. When one retailer sells a widget for a dollar, his neighbor will set the price at a few cents lower to bring the smart customer in.

In this way, the economist Adam Smith's "invisible hand" ensures that, without any government interference, the customer gets a great deal while the corporation's greed is kept in check.

Well, or the manufacturer tells the stores what to charge, and the stores all say, "Fuck the customers! Either they'll buy the thing or they won't."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BRUSSELS - Two Belgian beer fans have created a video game for urinals. The game allows players to slalom down ski slopes or blow up space aliens while relieving themselves, and is designed for two players to compete.

So I was standing at the urinal with my dick out, asking guys if they wanted to play a round. . . .

Amy Winehouse Teaches a Mouse to Talk



Some dude wrote a program that tells him when he needs a haircut using Google Calendar and Google Spreadsheets. Maybe I'm a geek, but I thought that was totally cool. Using him as inspiration, I hooked up my calendars at Restaurant.com, MyOpenBar.com and Crunch Gym with my Explorer IM account, so now an alert is sent to my BlackBerry every time I have to go to the bathroom. Is that great or what?

Oops. Back in ten.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Hipster's Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business

I've lived in Williamsburg, New York for almost eight years. In that time it's transformed from a peaceful old Italian neighborhood to the hipster capital of the world. The smug, self-centered youngsters are still pouring in, hundreds by the day, but the area's saturation point has already been reached so the overflow wander aimlessly. Clusters of well-dressed Brown graduates pace back and forth on Bedford Avenue, flipping through the song libraries on their iPhones and desperately hoping to run into somebody who'll point them towards a career that won't require either talent or work.

Hey, I live to serve. Judging from the flea markets I've been to, here's what all the other unemployable English majors have been doing to start up home-based businesses.

1. Think of a colorful, memorable company name. What you want is a wacky, cutesy image that personalizes you: "Patches My Three-Legged Dog," "No Green Thumb," "I Farted in a Tent." Don't go for something like "Desperate Girl With No Known Skills." I mean, that could describe all of us.

2. Hire somebody to draw a logo. Yes, you could do it yourself, but if you had any talent you'd be working for somebody else, right?

3. Come up with a product line. This is easily done by going to any bookstore and searching through pictorial literature of the low-tech arts. (Your parents called them "craft books.")

If you're a girl, you can crochet mittens or hats. Bake cookies or muffins. Sew placemats or scarves. (Just make rectangles and let people do what they want with them. It encourages the user's connection with your art and besides, you're no fabric-usage Nazi.)

If you're a guy, make bowls by melting vinyl records. Fashion picture frames from "reclaimed" materials (i.e., anything in a dumpster that doesn't rot). Find images in magazines and decoupage them onto decorative plaques.

Sure, when your parents did that stuff it was hopelessly lame, but they didn't have a Betty Page tattoo or an ironic haircut, right?

If you have problems perfecting your product line, find a successful business and copy them. Stella McCartney t-shirts, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, Hallmark cards. Think of it as an homage, but wear your running shoes in case the police show up.

4. Decide how much you deserve for your work. This is probably the hardest part. Investment bankers make at least a million a year, and what, are they better than you? NO! This is America! They're pencil-pushers, and you're a college graduate who's made a cupcake! Calculate backwards from the money you deserve, and don't even think twice about listing those squat, dry hockey pucks for $18 each. Remember, all your customers have rich parents too.

If some small-minded idiot complains about your prices, sarcastically say to them, "I should have known by looking at you that you were poor. If money is really so important to you, why don't you take one for free?" If they try, though, throw a Kombucha Rice Krispie Square at them.

5. Call your parents for start-up money. If they're less than enthusiastic, complain that they're sabotaging you. Tell them it's cheaper than paying for graduate school, plus there's real long-term potential in selling handmade, eighty-dollar potholders.

6. Don't take negativity from customers. Your pillow is less than square? The shoulder strap on your messenger bag is askew? Snatch your hand-crafted artwork out of their hand, and tell that small-minded jerk to go buy from somebody who knows how to operate a sewing machine.

For other cases, customize one of these retorts:

"I am not a robot! I work by instinct, and my creations cannot be constrained by your middle-class values!"

"Yes, it'd be nice if they soft or sweet or tasty, but they're fashioned from sustainable, free-trade bulgur wheat."

"They're a trifle pricey, but I value fair pay for labor over your petty individualistic greed."

Avoid stooping to their level with replies like "Hey, asshole, this shit is all recycled! What, do you fuckin' hate the earth?"

Now go forth and sell! Make millions and get famous! Because when it comes down to it, isn't that why your $93 "Fuck the Patriarchy!" tea towels exist?


They thought about lowering the price, but decided they couldn't settle for less than two million dollars in profit.

Monday, May 19, 2008

GB5 at the Eagle, Part 1

I get to the Eagle at 10:35 on Saturday night. I have a sweater tied around my neck -- an accessory pretty much required by the weather and an earlier, fashionable party -- and serious reservations. Sure, I want to meet other bloggers, since this is a pretty solitary task. I want to find out how other guys write, and find stuff to write about, and prop up their fading hope that at some point this massive waste of time will magically transform into something productive. But I hate gay bars more than Brazilian bikini waxes. They're meat markets, plain and simple, and being there is roughly equivalent to wrapping myself in plastic and lying down next to the chicken at Stop N' Shop.

One by one the shoppers wander by and check me out:

GUY #1: Oooh, I don't like that one. He looks a little tough.

GUY #2: And fatty, too, besides.

GUY #1: Should he be that color? Pick him up and give him a quick sniff.

I buy myself a beer and eye the crowd. Some faces look familiar. Maybe I recognize them from their blogs, but then again it's just about pitch black in here and middle-aged white guys all look alike in the dark. Suddenly it hits me that this is an impossible task. I can positively identify maybe three bloggers -- Joe.My.God, David, Steven -- and unless the rest are wearing name tags there's no way I'm going to find them.

I cover the first and second floors, then head up the stairs to the roof. Coming down is a handsome, butch number whose muscles stretch an extra-large t-shirt. Suddenly I remember why people go to bars. "You don't want to go up there," he says as we get close. "It's raining."

Tough. Butch. Scared of rain. Yeah, that makes sense. "That's okay," I reply. "I'm pretty much waterproof."

He laughs. "I guess you're safe then. But it scared everybody else off."

"Shit," I say. "This is so screwed. I'm looking for this convention of, like, gay bloggers, but I have no idea what they look like. Apparently I'm supposed to go up to every pale, pasty, flat-assed geek here and ask if he's a gay blogger, but in terms of sheer embarrassment that's like asking folks if they collect Star Trek memorabilia."

"I'm one of the gay bloggers," he says. "And I collect Star Trek memorabilia."

"Oh," I reply. "That's cool."

Somebody approaches us from the second floor. Rather than get separated, Star-Trek-Collecting Blogger moves to my side of the stairs. The newcomer walks between us, sees the rain coming down, then scurries back downstairs. STCB stays next to me.

He looks at the sweater tied around my neck. "You don't go to gay bars very often, do you?" he asks.

I shake my head. "I haven't been to one in five or six years."

"I thought so," he says. "You look really awkward and uncomfortable."

I really appreciate it when strangers criticize me. I mean, my parents can only do so much. "I hate bars. I hate socializing. I hate miserable techno music, and I hate wandering around cruising spots looking for people I wouldn't recognize until everybody thinks I'm absolutely desperate to find a man. So, believe it or not, I am awkward and uncomfortable."

"Oh. It's really, really hot."

Pause. "You should see me in bed," I say.

And ten minutes later, he did.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cynthia: the End

With two minutes left in the scavenger hunt, I knocked on one last door, Cynthia gasping for breath behind me. Hell, I'd done a hell of a lot more for a lot less. At another party just days earlier I turned a Twister game into a wrestling match to win a bottle of Vitalis. The end justified the means, I thought: I mean, what does a girl need hair grease for?

The lights were on in the windows, so somebody had to be home. All we needed was a pound of pastrami, and with every single item on the list we'd be, at the very least, tied for the grand prize. I walloped the door this time, ignoring the black wreath that hung there. Footsteps slowly approached, and as my heartbeat thumped off the remaining seconds a figure in black appeared.

"Sorry to bother you," I said, barely pausing between words, "but we're on a scavenger hunt, and we just need one more thing to win."

The woman tried to smile but fell short. "I see," she said quietly, tightening her wrinkled fingers around a rosary. "Well, unfortunately, we just had a death in the family, so it's not exactly a good time."

Cynthia moved up beside me, her face awash in sympathy. "I'm so, sooo sorry," she said, "intruding on you at this difficult time. Our best wishes are with you, and our prayers go to your loved one. I sincerely apologize for interrupting you during such an unfortunate time."

"Yeah -- me too," I muttered, furtively glancing inside. On the left was a row of folding chairs, all occupied by mourners staring at us. In the center were satin-swagged French doors leading to a patio and pool. On the right was a Louis XIV dining table draped with a lace cloth and overloaded with food. Chafing dishes, casseroles, cakes and cookies. A platter of deli meat.

The woman said that our sentiments were much appreciated as I cocked my head toward the buffet. "Do you mind if I make myself a snack?" I asked.

She nodded sadly, with what was pretty much the opposite of "Hey, help yourself!" I power-walked past the mourners, grabbed a couple slices of bread just for appearance's sake, and piled the pastrami high. I didn't have a clue how much meat made a pound, but I wasn't going to take any chances. I stacked the ruddy slices until they couldn't fit into anybody's mouth and threw another slice of bread on top. Clutching the thing with both hands I sprinted back to the front door.

The woman slid her sad gaze between my face and my sandwich as the second-hand on my watch ticked past the thirty-second mark. "As my girlfriend said," I told her, "we're so sorry to interrupt in your time of need we wish your loved ones all the best both here or heaven or hell or wherever you think they'll end up."

We sprinted back to Barbara's house and got inside just as the gong sounded. I don't know what the other teams had been doing, but it wasn't going door to door. Most only had two or three items, and nobody else had been to the funeral house. After expressing astonishment at our feat Barbara announced that Cynthia and I had won.

I screamed. Loud. Four maids poked their curious, paper-hatted faces through doorways. Dogs in eight neighboring houses yapped out the first eighth of a bark, the rest squelched by zaps from their electronic collars.

Barbara hugged Cynthia and me, and held the booty out. Cynthia shyly reached for the tennis bracelet as I felt an "I don't think so!" bubble up in my chest.

"Take good care of that watch, boy," Barbara's dad said. "That's three thousand dollars worth of Swiss craftsmanship."

"Sure," I laughed. As the proud owner of a Casio equipped with Space Invaders, I'd assumed Timex was top of the line. Barbara's dad nodded, and suddenly I realized he was serious. I tried to picture all those zeros and the room swam around me. I took the watch from Barbara and grasped it delicately, the way my parents always told me to hold my baby sister.

Cynthia took the bracelet -- basically a long line of diamonds held together by gold -- and draped it around her wrist. I couldn't help but feel a twang of jealousy, but my platinum prize was reassuring. We drank punch and gushed about our luck until her dad appeared, then piled into the back of his car. She slid in close in the darkness and maneuvered her lips in front of mine. Why did it have to be like this? I wondered as she pressed our faces together. Why did she always have to spoil things?

She tongue-kissed me while her father eyed us proudly in the rear view mirror. I pretended I was kissing him, feeling his neat little moustache tickle my lip, massaging the muscles in his broad shoulders. "I had so much fun," Cynthia murmured.

"I did too," I said.

"You know, Barbara really likes you. She told me if you ever get tired of dating me, she'd go out with you."

Was it possible? I thought. Could I really end up with a beach in the family?

"Not a chance," I reassured Cynthia, watching the light glint off my Rolex's face. "I don't think I could date another girl after going out with you."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In the May 19 issue of TV Guide there's a review of HBO's Recount, a controversial re-creation of the Florida 2000 election debacle with hanging chads and Katherine Harris. Here's the last paragraph:

A few weeks ago, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said "Get over it" when asked by 60 Minutes about the court's decision [to certify Florida's votes for Bush rather than Gore]. Recount is a potent reminder of why a nation devoted to democracy can't afford to forget.


Yet another milestone in the Bush presidency:

May 19, 2008: A magazine whose crossword puzzle has the clue "Murder ____ Wrote" makes the U. S. Supreme Court look dumb.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Swish

Most people have two types of goals, or tasks they want to achieve. There are your primary goals, like "I want to find a boyfriend" or "I want a job where I'm not forced to wear a paper hat." And there are your secondary, transient goals, like "I want to finish this soup without staining my shirt" or "I want to get all the way through this doctor's exam without getting a hard-on."

I've had all four of those goals recently, but my main one has been to answer this question: Why am I the only guy in the universe who doesn't have a book deal?

In actively trying to answer this question, I go to as many book readings as I can. I stare at the authors as though through a microscope, noting and dissecting every iota of information that I can glean, trying to come up with the reason why they're published and I'm not.

Sometimes the answer is obvious. He's a better writer than I am; he's gorgeous; he's charismatic. And sometimes I just put it down to nepotism, like that "self-made" dude whose dad writes Op Ed for the New York Times.

Everyone's buzzing about Swish, the latest book by Joel Derfner, so when I read on Joe.My.God that Joel is giving a reading I can't pass it up. I call Raoul and ask if he wants to meet me there, maybe have coffee afterwards, and he says sure. At seven o'clock -- half an hour before the reading starts -- I find a couple seats in the audience at Barnes and Noble and I put my sweater on one for Raoul.

I skim Swish as empty seats slowly become scarce. "Is this seat taken?" a newcomer asks, pointing at the one under my sweater, and absent-mindedly I say yes. I glance up from the book as he retreats and I think, hmm -- he looks familiar. And then it hits me:

It's David from Someone In A Tree.

David and his hunky friend eventually scrounge up seats in the front row, while I realize I've done a very stupid thing. I could have had two hot, smart guys next to me. I could have been networking! Instead I'm waiting for a guy who probably won't turn up because he spotted something sparkly in a store window.

One by one the last remaining chairs fill up, and then the aisles start to jam. The newcomers are alternating between looking at my sweater and shooting angry glares at me. I've got to do something: if David turns around, he'll see me with the empty chair and think either (1) I'm some pitiful dude who's been stood up by his date, or (2) I'm an asshole with an imaginary friend. Worse, I'm going to meet him this weekend at the Gay Blog Convention, and just judging from the look of the guy I'm guessing he has a functional short-term memory.

I pull my sweater off the chair and four standees dive for it. The winner, unfortunately, is a man who smells like he hasn't heard about the invention of soap. He's wearing a suit jacket that has more holes than a Monk episode, and through some of those holes I see (1) he's not wearing a shirt underneath, and (2) his skin is caked with road-dirt.

The man isn't here to see Joel, in short. He just got tired of sleeping under a bridge and decided to find a seat indoors.

I start to consider the logistics of the situation when David's head turns. It's like he can hear my brain crackling, or sense my desperation. He realizes there's a scene unfolding behind him that he really shouldn't miss. If his head turns just two more degrees, in fact, he'll see my homeless neighbor take a swig from a bottle inside a brown paper bag, and then offer it to me.

Which is why, at 7:31, I'm sitting on a bench in a park by the Hudson River. No Joel. No David. No Raoul. Sure, maybe I'm looking at New Jersey instead of listening to the thoughts of a talented writer, but there's no reason I can't still ponder my goal.

I take a swig from Walter's bottle before passing it back. "It sounds like you're lousy at networking," he says, and I think, you know, you're probably right.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cynthia, Part Two

After the prom, Cynthia phoned me every ten minutes, day and night. Yes, it got a little annoying, but on the plus side at least she didn't ask for her money back. She wanted to see me again, and when flattery didn't work she turned to bribery. "We'll have lots of fun," she said, "and I'll pay for everything."

I knew I was gay, but I agreed anyway. When you're living at home, with no car and no money, it's not like your Friday nights are booked. I went out with Cynthia just three or four times, yet somehow our names got linked like macaroni and cheese. The more I conceded, the more she wanted, until she started "accidentally" turning up every time I walked out my front door. I'd express annoyance and declare that I needed my freedom, but I shut up when food or jewelry appeared.

We saw Cynthia's friend Barbara again maybe a month into our couplehood, when she had a party at the family's Hancock Park estate. Her haughty folks acted like I should have been thrilled to be there, but frankly I wasn't impressed. In Europe, rich people use cash to show off their refined taste. They buy Rembrandts, drink hundred-year-old Cognacs, commission Frank Gehry to design their country homes. Judging from the party, American money went toward Devo CDs, frozen eggrolls and eight hundred feet of orange crepe paper. Sure, the family had a library named after them. What good was that? Give me a call when somebody springs for a Porsche.

To entertain a room full of her high-school friends, Barbara had arranged a scavenger hunt. Each couple was given a list of odd items to scrounge up in the neighborhood, with exactly one hour to get them. Cynthia grabbed my bicep and squealed her excitement. I rolled my eyes and groaned. The only thing I'd be looking for was alcohol.

"And the winning team," Barbara announced, "get these." She held up her hands: in one was a Cartier tennis bracelet, in the other a Rolex watch.

I sprinted past the other guests and out the front door. "You get the first five items," I yelled to Cynthia, quickly disappearing in my dust, "and I'll get all the rest."

I'd found three things before Cynthia caught up: empty-handed, angered by my desertion, and crippled by her high heels. She toddled irritably behind me as I pounded on every door and quizzed everybody who answered. Do you have a plastic spork? A flea collar? A picture of Millard Fillmore?

To my surprise, the neighbors turned over everything I asked for. I made a mental note to come back alone and ask for Armani suits and Kenneth Cole shoes. One by one we checked off everything on the list until all that was left was a pound of pastrami. We had exactly five minutes left.

"That's probably good enough," Cynthia said, massaging a blistered foot. "Nobody else could have come close." I felt an odd twinge of pity for her. She'd have been happy strolling down the street holding hands. She didn't want a tennis bracelet: she wanted a boyfriend.

Too bad for her, I thought as I pounded on one last door, that boyfriend wanted a tennis bracelet.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Belated Tribute to Mom

Every year around this time websites in need of publicity like to reassure mothers that they're productive members of society. Now, that's sure nice, but it sets a dangerous precedent: I mean, if they're going to start lying, where exactly will they stop?

The articles break down a mother's daily chores and calculate what professionals would charge to do the work. MomConnection and the New York Daily News figured mothers are worth nearly $70,000 a year, with a 47.5 hour work week. Some of their figures are a little spotty, though. Mom spends 3 1/2 hours running errands, which they claim is like a "paid shopper" who earns $21 an hour. She cooks for 1 1/2 hours a day so they make her a "head chef" deserving $42.52 an hour.

Oh, puh-leeze. Mom is a "head chef"? News flash: Head chefs don't call local restaurants for take out. Head chefs don't make macaroni and cheese from a box. Everyone at the table can order a different meal from a head chef and they won't yell "You'll eat it and you'll like it!" at you.

Salary.com is even more questionable, saying Mom would earn $117,000 a year. Over half of their claimed 94.4 hour work week gets overtime pay, which makes sense: I mean, if you're going to make up a paycheck, you might as well make it a union job.

They've got Mom functioning as everything from a computer operator to a CEO to an RN. Uh, no offense guys, but real nurses don't heal wounds by wiping kleenexes full of spit across them. And by the way -- mom plays the radio in the SUV. Why not make her a DJ too?

Oddly, amidst all these accounts, nobody's done the calculations for all the part-time jobs Dad does. Something tells me that, as usual, the man's gonna make a little more.












































Job TitleYearly Salary
Garbage collector
$3,280
Plumber
$7,320
Mechanic
$11,900
Sperm donor
$17,460
Comedian
$25,810
Bartender
$36,190
Grillmaster
$52,600
Intrauterine Fertilization Specialist
$63,400
Sports Commentator
$84,000
Sex Slave to a Woman with Saggy Boobs and Stretch Marks
Priceless

Friday, May 9, 2008



I've been saying for absolute eons that we don't need GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. (Could there be a more ridiculous name for such an angry group?) They're such bitter old queens. What's the problem? I've never had any problems with homophobia here in my Miami Beach florist shop, and I suspect a lot of those scary stories have sprung from the overactive imaginations of lonely fairies who have seen too many Bette Davis movies.

I mean, look at Jim Carrey in "I Love You Phillip Morris" and Adam Sandler in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan." They're both playing homosexuals, and if these characters don't look exactly like us I'll eat my tangerine beret.

Jim is faultlessly dressed for a Labor Day tea dance, with the deep V-neck accenting those carved pecs. I've searched for decades for a gold lion's head belt buckle, and I'd blow Mel Gibson to get a pair of sunglasses that chic.

Adam, on the other hand, perfectly reflects the fairies' playful side with a Care Bears t-shirt and Daisy Dukes cut to the wazoo. I wish I knew his hairstyling secrets: it takes me four hours and half a can of Aquanet to get my (eek! thinning!) locks half that high! He's outdoors on some adventure but he's still got his hairdryer and pinking shears. It's only funny because it's true!

I know you're all sitting there with your mouths open, because it's like looking in a mirror. Somehow they've stumbled upon the very definition of gayness, circa 2008, and I give them two snaps up for that. Though if either has twin Pekineses named Rock and Cary I'm calling my lawyer, I really am.

So, somebody tell GLAAD to dry up and fly away, because real gay people have finally made their way onscreen. It's time to put down those angry banners and stop chanting, and have a celebration for once. Girlfriend, pass the lube and the poppers. But watch out for the caftan -- it's silk.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Classic or Crap?

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter has an interesting interview with Mike Darnell, Fox TV's "president of alternative entertainment" (i.e., reality shows). Mr. Darnell is responsible for one or two okay TV programs ("Don't Forget the Lyrics"), quite a few lowest-common-denominator programs ("The Moment of Truth," "The Swan"), and a couple programs that singlehandedly prove heterosexuals take marriage about as seriously as a fungal infection ("Married By America," "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?").

At the end of the interview, Mr. Darnell is asked to name his worst ideas and also his favorite ideas that never got to air. I've edited his answers slightly to remove any clues; see if you can tell the classic from the crap.

1.
I was pitched "'Big Brother' with puppets" -- so that half the "Big Brother" people are human and they're competing against puppets. Week after week, the audience either votes a human out or a puppet.


2.
There was the "Left-Handed Awards." The producers were excited about it -- "It's about left-handed people, and Jerry Seinfeld is left-handed, and he'll come on."


3.
A female prison beauty pageant. The whole idea of going from prisoner to hot babe is interesting. They would have filmed it in Croatia and called it "Female Prisoner Beauty Pageant."


ANSWERS:

#1 and #2 are crap, #3 is classic ("It's empowering to women, it's empowering to prisoners").


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cumming to a Bar Near You

Ten hours later I'm still shaking.

I never thought I'd say this, but poor, simple RomanHans -- hitherto relegated to scrubbing floors in the mansion of life -- has met Royalty.

Last night Raoul and I go to a screening of "OSS 117," a French film described as a cross between James Bond and Naked Gun. Overall it's very good but it has some hysterical moments, plus a terrific retro soundtrack. We get out around tenish, which is waaay too early to go home, so we decide to head elsewhere. I vote for Walgreens to get Benadryl; Raoul mentions Eastern Bloc. It's an unpretentious gay bar in the East Village decorated with taxidermied animal heads and a vaguely Communist theme. Hey, the bar I used to work at had brass details and hanging ferns, so I'll be the last one to complain.

We order a couple drinks, and as we're discussing the movie I spot Alan Cumming over Raoul's shoulder.

When I come to Raoul is spouting gibberish. "Chicken lips poltergeist platform shoes eczema. You're not even listening to me."

"Alan Cumming is right behind you." Then, to the back of his head, "Don't turn around just yet."

"Ohmigod," Raoul exclaims. "Ohmigod."

"Ohmifuckinggod," I correct, shaking like Katherine Hepburn on a Tilt-a-Whirl. "Oh my fucking god."

Raoul is English. Which means he's learned manners, so he's happy appreciating famous people from afar. Me, I'm a full-blooded American, which means I'll happily intrude on their shit.

"Oh, go on over," Raoul says understandingly. "Introduce yourself."

There's nothing like facing a Wonder of the World to put your self esteem in high relief. "I can't. He's gorgeous and brilliant and one of the world's great actors, and I'm an oversized tube of lard."

"You're a terrific writer, and you've got a blog!"

My eyes threaten to roll up into my head. "Great. Why don't I just tell him I've got a stamp collection, and a turtle named Brady too?"

I suck down my gin and tonic as I watch a few young, brave souls approach him. With each, he turns to his laptop perched on the bar, and frantically types away. They get a quick hug before they part. My competitiveness beats out my insecurity: As God is my witness, I'll get in his address book too.

I make a mental list of conversation starters as I inch my way over. What was it like working with Kubrick? Did he realize he totally redefined theater with his turn in Cabaret? Did he ever have three-ways with awestruck fans? He could ignore Raoul if he wanted: the man did his best work alone.

He sees me and greets me like a long-lost friend. "Do you want to register to vote?" he asks in that sexy Scottish brogue.

"Absolutely!" I reply, though the answer would have been the same if he'd asked me to pick up his drycleaning, or French-kiss a soggy dog.

He asks for all my information and types it into his Mac. My excitement matches his natural high energy. We're bouncing around. We're rubbing arms. Still, he's reluctant when my tongue tries to fight its way into his mouth. He hugs me, hands me a gift bag, and it's over.

For the rest of the night I'm floating on air. I finally agree with that Midwestern advice columnist who claimed seventy percent of Americans preferred hugs to sex. Hell, throw in a gift bag and I'll bet it goes over a hundred percent. As Raoul walks me home I root through the bag. Seriously, it's like Christmas. Cumming the Fragrance, Cumming All Over body lotion, a CD, a magazine.

I squirt on the body lotion and I'm transported by the scent. Masculine, and warm, and sharp. No flowers within a hundred miles. Maybe there's some cedar, or amber, or greenery. What can I tell you? Nobody will ever insure my nose, especially if they charge by the square foot.

When we get to my place, Raoul senses that something has changed. We part at the door, and I go inside and spend the night lying on my bed and sighing. The more I think about it, the more awestruck I am. One of the Holy Trinity of gay celebs, registering people to vote in a neighborhood bar. The man is from Scotland, so if anybody has a right to ignore our mess he certainly does. He's the opposite of every other celeb: they see you looking at them, give you that "Get a life!" frown, and then scurry off, like your massive, unkempt tackiness poses some kind of danger to their svelte, stylish selves.

No, Alan Cumming gives out gift bags.

I got added to his mailing list, so I'll let you know if he ever gets to a bar near you. Me, I'm basking in the afterglow, left with indelible memories: his rakish smile, his tousled hair, his Cumming all over my body.

Let's see Joe.My.God top that.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A New Zealand woman was hospitalized after a cafe mistakenly served her dishwashing liquid instead of wine.

Sarah Ferguson ordered a glass of "Mountain Thunder" mulled wine from Queenstown's Old Man Rock Cafe, but spat it out when her lips and mouth started to burn. It was discovered later that the wine container had inadvertently been filled with dishwashing detergent.


Ms. Ferguson wanted to sue but before the police arrived her glass washed itself.



A 92-year-old British woman has become the world's oldest partially sighted abseiler.

Abseiling is the process of descending by rope used in rock climbing and mountaineering.

Eve Mobbs abseiled down the outside of a multi-story car park. She confessed to some last-minute nerves as she climbed onto the railing to start her descent, but afterwards declared it was "fantastic."


Though her seeing-eye dog was treated for abrased paws.



A California man has trained his pet goldfish to play football.

Dr. Dean Pomerleau, 41, from Los Angeles, used a technique called positive reinforcement to train two-year-old goldfish Comet to play various sports. Positive reinforcement means the fish is rewarded with food when it successfully completes a task. "There is mounting evidence that fish are more intelligent than people give them credit for," he declared.


Dr. Pomerleau also said he has no particular plans for the fish, which on Sunday beat Notre Dame by a score of 12-2.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Career Guidance From Cointreau

Every night across Manhattan there are dozens of parties thrown by liquor companies to introduce their products to hipsters. Last week Cointreau hosted a party featuring the company’s new spokesmodel, the retro-glam burlesque performer (and Marilyn Manson ex) Dita von Teese, clad in designer lingerie and splashing around inside a giant martini glass.

“Cointreau is a brand that’s 160 years old,” said Stéphanie Fasquelle, the company’s marketing director. “It needed to be refreshed. We have a claim: ‘Be Cointreauversial.’ Dita represents that. This is a brand that’s especially appreciated by women, and Dita is very aspirational for women.”


In fact, that's the first thing high school career counselors suggest for New York girls: "How about if you become a stripper, then marry a rock star and get piles of alimony when you divorce?"

Cynthia, Part One

In high school to my surprise I found myself dating a girl. I treated Cynthia with complete disinterest, which just made her more determined to have me. It blazed the trail for every other relationship I'd have in my life. She saw my picture in the school yearbook, looked me up in the phone book, and asked me to the prom. I was flattered by the attention, but naturally I said no.

"That's too bad," she replied. "I'm hiring a stretch limousine, and I'd treat you to Lawry's Steakhouse afterwards." I'd spent half an hour that afternoon fighting with my sister over half a can of garbanzo beans, so there was no way I could resist.

Cynthia was about what you'd expect from a rich girl who had to turn to strangers for a date. Friendly, sweet, gawky as Big Bird. Still, next to me she looked like Claudia Schiffer. I didn't exactly blend in with the other prom-goers, with my home-styled hair and acid-wash denim suit, but Cynthia was happy. We danced, we chatted, we compared shoe sizes. She introduced me to all her friends and even had the photographer snap our portrait to commemorate the event.

I consoled myself: I'd never claimed to be attractive. I was fun. Besides, teenagers forget soon enough.

After the prom, as promised, we headed to Lawry's with Cynthia's friend Barbara and her well-dressed, blue-blood date. Cynthia's folks were millionaires but Barbara was out of their league, with buildings and streets and even beaches echoing the family name. The only way a beach and I would share names was if I changed mine to Zuma.

I cut my steak up all at once and then shoveled the pieces into my mouth. Cynthia daintily sliced hers, then moved a couple pieces to her mouth on an upside-down fork and declared herself full. "I can take care of that for you," I said as I grabbed her plate. I polished off two-and-a-half steaks -- Barbara's date didn't exactly have a wolverine's appetite -- before the waiter dropped off the bill. I pretended to be engrossed in a hangnail since I had twelve cents in my pocket, and that was including my lucky dime. I felt a nudge under the table coming from Cynthia's direction, then paper in my hand. I looked down and discovered she'd slipped me a huge wad of cash.

I gave her the wide-eyed "I'll always love you!" look I used when people gave me stuff. She beamed back.

"I'll get it," Barbara's date declared as he whipped out his American Express.

"Thanks!" I said, and I stuffed Cynthia's cash in my pants.

When I got home around oneish Mom was asleep on the couch, an empty sherry glass and National Geographic sitting on the carpet beside her. We couldn't afford sugar for our Kool Aid, but our educations required monthly photo essays on Tanzania. I tried to sneak by but she woke up and asked "Did you have a nice time?" with a yawn.

I was so excited I couldn't stop myself, though I was ordinarily too cool to share with adults. "It was absolutely fantastic," I gushed, seconds away from spinning in place, visions of everything I could buy -- videogames and stylish pants and Stouffer's TV dinners -- circling my head. "It was the best night of my life."

You could see shock hit mom like a grapefruit in the face. At sixteen I hated everything, from the Space Food Sticks we had for breakfast to our yearly vacations at Disneyland, and the family was long since resigned to the fact that the last thing I'd like would be a girl.

"Oh my goodness," she gasped, pulling me into a hug. "I'm so happy!" She dabbed at her eyes, barely able to speak, then stumbled to her bedroom. The second her door closed I heard her thump to her knees and cry, "Thank you, thank you, Lord!"

I hid the cash under my pillow and slept with a smile on my face. For once I had to agree.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Explaining a Story to Gawker

What the hell; Gawker gets eighty million viewers a day for nitpicking at details, so I'd might as well pick back.



SCENE: A gay man is in line to get tickets for a Madonna concert.

QUOTE: "Gays don't camp out, but we'll camp out for this."

GAWKER'S TRANSLATION: "Gays don't camp out [for tickets], but we'll camp out for this."

THE TRUTH, FROM THE MOUTH OF A GAY: "Gays don't camp out [in the woods, where there are mosquitos and mountain lions and people eat fried bologna for breakfast], but we'll camp out [on a street in New York beneath our mohair Jack Spade blankets] for this."

(Meanwhile, I love camping -- and I don't just mean pitching a tent around bears.)
The "DC Madam" in charge of a high-class prostitution ring that catered to Washington's political elite has apparently hanged herself.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who once threatened to reveal the names of her powerful Washington clients, was found guilty of running a prostitution ring last month, and faced a sentence of up to twenty years in jail.

In 2007 one of Palfrey's coworkers, University of Maryland professor Brandy Britton, committed suicide after being arrested. She too hanged herself.


This serves as a very important lesson for young girls today. If you're going to service politicians, tell them you sent a copy of your diary to your lawyer and it'll be published if you ever "kill yourself."



The entire world is aghast after Paula Abdul judged a song that hadn't been sung yet, inadvertently revealing a bit of subterfuge behind the American Idol show.

To shore up her sinking reputation, Abdul has two guest appearances planned for next week. On Dancing With the Stars she'll announce the winners eight weeks before the show's live finale, and on Deal or No Deal she'll tell a Chicago woman which cases to avoid.



A Japanese civil servant was demoted for logging more than 780,000 hits on pornographic websites on his office computer, an official said Friday. Along with the demotion, he received a $190 monthly pay cut.

In his defense, the man maintains he actually only visited one dirty website, but it had 779,999 popups.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Repeat Thursday: Bush's Horrible Boyfriend

Thanks to Ron Suresha -- http://wolfbear.livejournal.com -- for tipping me off to this.

I feel really bad for the president.  Sure, he’s pretty much destroyed our country.  He’s looted the treasury, made us world pariahs, and continues to hire idiot hacks to send our judicial system back to the Stone Age.  He totally deserves all the blame for the mess he’s made, and he should have been impeached by now.

But there’s one strong, unshakable bond that the two of us share that his complete ineptness can’t erase.

He’s had man trouble.  Bad man trouble.  And brother, that’s the one thing I know.

I’m talking about Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, of course -- the male hustler turned “reporter” who used to drop by the White House like Fonzie dropped by Arnold’s Burger Shack.  I understood how Bush could fall for him, even before I went to his website, Hotmilitarystud.com.

Aside from being hung and hunky, Jeff was so incredibly thoughtful.  He’d drop into press briefings every chance he got and lob his boy some softball questions.  It was his way of saying hello, I’m thinking of you, like my man texts me “hugz to mah beeyotch.”  “Aren’t Democrats stupid?” he’d ask, playing boy reporter.  “And why is Hillary on the rag?” Bush’s glazed look of confusion would dissipate like a raincloud, replaced by a warm, sunny glow.  You could tell it took every ounce of his willpower not to run into the audience and give his man a hug.  Hell, if I had a supportive dude like that behind me, I’d give him access to classified documents too, even if he billed me two hundred bucks an hour.

Like most relationships, though, this one burned hot and fast.  In March of 2003 Gannon logged eighteen visits to the White House.  There were two overnight visits and one six-hour tryst, the average visit lasting over two hours.

If he’d put that kind of time into college, he might have gotten a journalism degree.

Put Bush’s vacation schedule next to Gannon’s visit list and you’ll see just how deep was their love.  The length of stay doubles if the president was going on vacation, or had just gotten back from one.  On April 30, Gannon drops by for three hours, presumably to say goodbye as Bush heads off to Crawford Ranch.  On May 8, Jeff visits for six hours before Bush leaves for New Mexico.  On May 28, Jeff drops by twice before Bush takes off for Poland the next day.

Now, you know the president must be hooked bad, because think about it for a second.  He’s going on vacation in mere hours.  You know what that’s like, right?  You’re running around like a crazy person, wondering if you packed the toothpaste, making sure the stove is off, tossing out your bananas so they won’t rot while you’re gone.  You’re sweating, you’re freaking out, you’re sure you’re going to miss the plane.

Even if you hang around with male hustlers, you aren’t going to stop and chat should one happen to drop by.

Somehow, though, Mr. Gannon always fits into the schedule.

The same two time lines show us how quickly the bloom fades off the rose.  By March 2004, the visits have dropped off dramatically.  Jeff went to see George just eleven times.  There’s only one overnighter.  One lone visit is over two hours, and one is a mere six minutes long.  The average visit time is 72.7 minutes.

That's what clued me into this affair in the first place.  I mean, real reporters don’t lose interest in the most powerful man in the world after they get to know him:  no, that’s what boyfriends do.  Six-hour visits turning into six-minute visits?  Sister, that screams "RELATIONSHIP!" to me.

Like with Bennifer and Vaughniston, it’s the media that split these lovebirds.  Some busy-body realized Jeff wasn’t really a reporter and the crap hit the fan.  Gannon’s last two visits read like a Dear John letter:  There’s one last overnighter February 1, 2005, before Bush heads off to mid-America.  When he returns, there’s a three-hour visit.

And then, he doesn’t come again.

Now that the relationship has fizzled, Mr. Gannon is denying everything.  He claims he never spent the night at the White House, which means either (1) the Secret Service is terrible at recordkeeping, or (2) he's a horrible boyfriend, hitting the road once he gets what he wants.  He says that when someone neglects to check out of the White House, they’re logged out automatically after twelve hours, making it appear as though they’ve had a lengthy visit when that might not have been the case.

Let’s set the stage.  This is America post-9/11.  Americans are strip-searched trying to enter the neighborhood library.  We need to file notarized documents to order Moo Goo Gai Pan at Chinese restaurants.  Yet a man who’s starring on six X-rated websites can walk in and out of the White House at will.

There’s no way even a federal agency can be this inefficient, and I’m including the post office in here.

So while Jeff Gannon disappears to write his memoirs, George is left holding the bag.  He has no one he can talk to, no one he can trust.  His world is crumbling around him, like most of Iraq.  In the spirit of brotherhood, I’d like to offer my services.  Mr. Bush, know that you can call on your friend RomanHans, any time, day or night.  I could hold your hand, keep your spirits up, make you realize it’ll all be okay.

And, as you write about it in your diary, I can tell you that things like "humilified" and "miserating" really aren’t words at all.

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