Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 2:

Wright: Johnny Weissmuller died on this day. Which jungle-swinging character clad only in a loin cloth did he play?

Contestant: Jesus.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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 sooo cool," a clerk says. "Those are sooo great!" 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.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Modern Romance

I found you on Friendster
and asked you to be mine.
You wrote me on MySpace and said
"That would be just fine."

I sent you a fax in which
I asked if you'd be true.
You left a message on my pager:
"Beep beep means 'I love you.'"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just not a hell of a lot.

When Did "Pawn Stars" Jump the Shark?

"Pawn Stars," a reality show on the History Channel, used to be one of our guilty pleasures. We'd watch it week after week, continually amazed at Rick's broad expanse of knowledge and the strange items people brought in.

And then one day, out of the blue, it hit us. We realized the show was a massive pile of manufactured crap, just a Great Gazoo away from being a cartoon for eight-year-olds. When, exactly, did this happen? Well, it could have been a number of times.

  • The day Chumlee decided a Bob Dylan record would be worth more autographed, so he went outside and found Dylan.

  • When somebody brought in some ghost-hunting equipment, so the Pawn Stars decided to see if their 21-year-old building was haunted.

  • The day Chumlee "stupidly" bought a fake Gibson guitar that was barely more than a piece of wood and a string.

  • When Rick and his dad spent 55 minutes calling Chumlee an idiot and then said, "Sure, we'd love to try your homemade wine!"

  • When you realize the only person who'd call Corey "Big Hoss" is Corey.

  • The episode where somebody brings in some Native American beadwork to pawn, and during the appraisal the beads change color.

  • The day Rick bought a run-down Coke machine, and during restoration it switched models.

  • When somebody found out that a customer seeking to pawn a guitar worked at the same vintage guitar store as the expert brought in to appraise it.

  • When somebody who visited the store was asked if he wanted to be on the show, and when he said yes they gave him something to pawn and a story.

  • The day somebody decided three fat guys would be the perfect spokesmen for Subway.

  • The 400th time Rick declared that if something was authentic it'd be worth a fortune, then discovered it was authentic and offered $65 for it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Name one athlete you would hate to be stuck in a car with for all of eternity.

That flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir. I don't think we'd have much to talk about. -- NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, in an interview in November's Maxim magazine

God, I totally agree. I mean, figure skating is such an effeminate profession. Puh-leeze. You skate around in little circles and occasionally crash. It's nothing like car racing, where you drive around in little circles and occasionally crash.

Car racing is a sport tailored for manly men, requiring a distinctly masculine set of skills. You've got to spin a little wheel, press a little pedal, and sit for long periods of time with no air conditioning. It takes absolutely nothing from the profession to note that other people put air in your tires and fill your gas tank. Heck, I'll bet even James Bond doesn't like the smell of gasoline getting in his clothes. Besides, drivers have to save their energy for repeatedly turning corners without any power steering.

And what a queen Johnny Weir is. Christ, if a race car driver acted like that he'd be run out of town.

I'll bet Johnny Weir doesn't even edge his stubble before he goes to work.

Maybe Jimmie has a giant gold belt, but he knows to cut back on the jewelry and earrings when he wears it.

Even if Jimmie has four really pretty vases, you don't see any flouncy flower arrangements in them.

Sure, Jimmie's mock turtleneck is totally covered in embroidery, but at least the colorful patches are for manly stuff, like those logos of car parts on his chest and that splash of Siemens on his arm.

The butch gray coat on Jimmie's signature bear more than counteracts his rainbow dickie.

His official screensaver conveys the awesome butchness of racing, with the powerful Ford leaving a cloud of burning rubber in its wake. It doesn't look anything like Bai Ling after she's put talcum powder on her ass.

As Jimmie's videogame says, he can ride "anything with an engine." That's a real man!

I'll bet he wouldn't hesitate for a minute before jumping on this fucking stool, and he'd probably burn out the motor before he stopped.

Sure, in 2006 he fell off the roof of a golf cart and broke his hand, but I'll bet even Chuck Norris runs into trouble when he pretends he's the Artichoke Queen in the Shriner's Parade.

Anyway, I think I've proved it by now. Jimmie Johnson is a butch, manly man, and whenever he wins a race, the whole world erupts in golden glitter as he hoists another giant silver vase toward the sky. Hooray for heterosexuality!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A 19-fingered robot that can play piano faster than any human has been unveiled.

And he still can't bring women to orgasm.

Created in Italy for a cost of $5,000, Teotronico has 19 fingers because it is the ideal number for covering any melody or song.

Teotronico is said to be the only robot in the world capable of simultaneously singing and playing the piano while judging if an audience is impressed. As he plays, cameras in his eyes allow him to view an audience and interact with them, changing his choice of song if they don't look like they are enjoying themselves.

Unfortunately, he's oblivious to that "Christ, what the fuck is up with his eyebrows?" expression, and he can't fix the creepy smile that makes it look like he's also jerking off.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm an anarchist with a conscience. I lob Molotov cocktails at our oppressors, then wring my hands for years afterward thinking maybe I should have just sent them an angry note.

I wrote down one particular worry and emailed it to Ariel Kaminer, the NY Times' "Ethicist":

The city I lived in held an essay contest in which entrants had to send in true stories about car-pooling. I took exception to this, because clearly it was going to be judged by subjective people giving away taxpayer dollars. I’m gay, and I know from experience that writing about how you met your boyfriend never wins. So I made up a heterosexual story, and I won a prize.

Justified? Obviously, the best course would have been to get them to cancel the contest, but this didn’t sound possible.


After the Ethicist told me she was going to answer my letter in the Times' magazine, I alerted her to a few concerns.

Of course, I think your answer will be that I shouldn't have entered with a fake story, but I can't accept this. Ignoring discrimination never did anything. Of course, profiting from it by lying wasn't exactly Rosa Parks either. I was just sick of the double standard that straight people are a privileged class and decided to even the playing field.

The next day I wrote again, going into further detail:

I worked in the defense industry for twenty years. I wouldn't have been hired if I admitted I was homosexual, so I didn't. I lied and said I was heterosexual. The conditions weren't fair, so I did what I had to do rather than blithely accept their bigotry.

I see this contest in the same light.

Yes, it would be great to change the system, but that's not realistic. Yes, lying is bad -- but institutionalized homophobia is worse. I'm sick of employment, housing, TV shows and essay contests that have the implicit message that homosexuals need not apply. (Though Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has aired some 200 episodes, they still haven't found a gay family that qualifies.) I firmly believe that anything homosexuals do to temporarily level the playing field, regardless of legality or ethics, is easily justified, and I hope in your reply you don't convey the idea that gay people should take the high road by shutting up and accepting
whatever slights society gives them.

The Ethicist never wrote back, fueling my worry that I wouldn't get a thoughtful reply. Four months later, then, when a note arrived from a Times employee asking me to "run through a few things," I was absolutely certain: I was going to be the butt of a joke. So, I didn't reply. I hoped that, unable to confirm a story, a newspaper couldn't print it.

Hah! I forgot this was The New York Times. Yesterday my story showed up in the magazine, and here, in total, is the Ethicist's reply.

This may be the most creative adaptation of the term “obviously” I’ve come across. And by the way, no, you were not justified.

You’re welcome!

I read this reply and shook my head, wondering what part of I hope in your reply you don't convey the idea that gay people should take the high road by shutting up and accepting whatever slights society gives them she'd missed. And, you know, I don't have a fancy magazine column, but I'd like to take the opportunity here to offer Ms. Kaminer a quick word.

Dear Ethicist:

According to the dictionary, an Ethicist is "a person who specializes in or writes on moral principles."

Don't you think maybe you should change your name?

I'd offer to help, but obviously somebody already took "Carrot Top."

Hope this helps,
Comic Con was this weekend, which means the city was full of folks in costume. Exactly what they were portraying, though, was anybody's guess.

I'm pretty sure this guy is Wonder Woman. Admire the costume. Respect his courage. Whatever you do though, don't ask about his magic lasso.

This woman demonstrates a trend I saw in a lot of costumes: handicraft. Which, you know, should certainly be applauded for ingenuity, though execution can be questionable. Unless this creature is from a distant planet where you have to crochet your own head.

Though these aliens may face incredible star battles against distant galactical foes, they'll never want for oven mitts.

More handicraft here. Somewhere an Olive Garden is missing its breadsticks.

Guest of a Guest says this is Zangief from Street Fighter. I'm pretty sure it's just a dude showing off the only sash he'll ever own.

I'm totally at sea here. He's got Wolverine's claws, but he's singing. Got it! This is obviously Benverine.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Some universal tales have variations shared worldwide. Stories carry lessons for young and old. Stories do not always represent reality so much as they teach lessons, values and morals. The following is a very old story told by Cherokee, Seneca, Hindu, and many other people all around the world.

The little boy was walking down a path and he came across a whore. The whore was very old, and very, very horny. She asked, "Please little boy, can you fuck me hard in a hot tub? I need one last one head-spinning bang before I die." The little boy answered, "No, Ms. Whore. If I fuck you, you'll call the Enquirer and it'll destroy my marriage." The whore said, "No, I promise. I won't call the Enquirer. Just please fuck me hard in a hot tub." The little boy thought about it and finally picked up that whore and fucked her hard in a hot tub.

Afterwards, the little boy and the whore climbed out of the hot tub. "Thank you," the whore said. "You are very kind." And just as the boy was about to say goodbye to the whore, she called the Enquirer. "Ms. Whore, why did you do that? Now it will surely destroy my marriage!" The whore looked up at him and grinned. "You knew what I was when you picked me up," she said.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where do the soups and salads come from, the bathroom?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A pregnant suburban Chicago woman felt contractions a few minutes after finishing the Chicago Marathon and gave birth hours later to a baby daughter.

Amber Miller was nearly 39 weeks pregnant when she started the 26.2 mile race on Sunday morning. Her daughter June was born at 10:29 p.m. weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces.

Sure, call it sweet. Call it adorable. But today June is shaking her rattle whether she wants to or not.

Sure, politics is a bizarre process, but there's one thing about it that totally mystifies me. It seems like it's the only field where unsuccessful people don't try to imitate the successful folks.

Say you own a company that makes clothing. A rival company puts out a line of skinny jeans, and they immediately sell out. They're in all the magazines. You're a smart businessman, so what's your immediate thought?

(1) "Times have changed, and I need to change with the times."
(2) "Blast them! One day people will want bellbottoms again!"

Obama campaigned as a pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-environment candidate. He beat the guy who was not. Naturally this sent the Republican party into a tailspin. They had to retool! They hid away in their bunker for a few months, and when they emerged they were holding Rick Santorum.

Yeah, Rick Santorum. In a battle of wits, he'd lose to the counter guy at Taco Bell. His clothes are slightly cheaper than religious people who go door-to-door. But he's got the message! Let gay people marry, and pretty soon chickens will be raping elephants!

Oh. Okay.

It reminds me of Wal-Mart. They stand on the sidelines as the trends zip by. Women's underwear shrinks until it's the size of a Post-It and they're still standing there going, "But these granny panties will make you feel safe!"

Remember when the Strokes hit it big? Ten seconds later there were forty similar bands. We were spoiled for choice. We'd ask ourselves, "Do I want to listen to the Strokes copycat with the chick lead singer or the one whose songs are all in B-flat?"

In the political bizarro world, though, the Republican agenda is set in stone. Nobody changes their style. We shake our heads as they maintain that waltzes are coming back, but you gotta admit they get their money's worth with those accordions.

DJ Shadow on Burning Man

Maybe “hate” is a little strong, because I’ve never actually been. What I mean to say is that I hate the 40-something investment bankers and efficiency experts I meet at social engagements who describe their Burning Man experiences as “transcendental,” and then when pressed for an example can only offer that an erection resulting from being jabbed in the stomach by a cattle prod is unlike any other.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sigh. Sometimes you see things that just make you rethink everything you've learned.

Once again, here comes footage from YouTube to remind us that the world is a mystifying place.

Is that incredible? A moob in half a slankie actually has a girlfriend who reads Bride.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A "fart fetish group" wants to license the rights to Nancy Grace's on-air Dancing with the Stars fart. But what if it wasn't Nancy, but the host, or her partner, who farted? And now Nancy is stuck being the fart fetish pin-up girl for the rest of her life. Such are the bargains we make for fame.

Does anybody know any fart fetishists? I wonder if they're reluctant to pleasure themselves to the DWTS footage because they can't be sure it's Nancy farting, and masturbating to a dude's farts would be totally gay.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three days on a boat and they can't even get the Vivian Girls to plug in their instruments? What, will they be holding Mai Tais in both hands?

Edward Devereux Sheffe III Says Wall Street Protesters Are Hurting Ordinary Middle-Class People Just Like Him

"You guys need to be in Greenwich, Connecticut where the rich people live," says the peeved millionaire whose classical music listening is presumably interrupted by chants. "The people you're disturbing are middle-class people just like you."

In a new rap track, Nick Cannon says to his nemesis Charlamagne, "Man, you about as gay as dick pics."

Sigh. It really pisses me off when idiots use "gay" to mean "lame," but in this case maybe it's just envy. I mean, I'd absolutely love to Nick Cannon for a living.

How TV Shows Find Men Who Play Gay And Act Effeminate

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Of all the things that could kill me, I never suspected melon balling.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Store clerks love me. All of them, from the fresh-faced students at Cold Stone Creamery to the paper-hatted, gold-toothed folks at Taco Bell. They smile and wave at me as I walk through the door, knowing from our past exchanges that I'm a friendly customer. I'll ask how they're doing, or make small talk about the weather. I never fumble for exact change. And when I leave and they offer a hearty, "Hey, have a good day!", I always offer a cheery, "You too!"

Well, except for Armando, at Kang's Fruits and Vegetables. He's a total underhanded bastard, and the worst thing is, he's got everybody thinking he's totally nice. Oh, on the contrary. He's the worst rat bastard there is.

I didn't even realize it until I'd gone to Kang's a few times. On the surface he seemed perfectly pleasant, always saying stuff like, "Hi, how are you?" and "Hey, good to see you!" Stupid me: I thought he was being friendly, when in reality he was just biding time until I dropped my guard.

On my fourth visit he drew me into his insidious little game. See, I picked up some mint, some limes and a liter of club soda. I was going to make mojitos. I put everything on the counter, and he kept up a long line of chatter while he was ringing up my purchases. It was so innocuous and inane that it all but insisted I ignore it. "Mm, mint!" he declared. "Delicious. Man, that's fresh! And limes! How many have you got, four? Four for a dollar. Club soda! Do I see a pattern? Somebody's making mojitos tonight!"

He smiled at me, like he was being totally friendly, and like a sap I smiled back. "Love 'em," I said cluelessly. I pointed at my bare wrist. "Drinking time starts now!"

He chuckled and said, "That'll be four-fifty," and I handed him a five. He gave me a couple quarters change, and I grabbed my bag and started out. That's when the ominous tone should have sounded in my head.

He called, "Enjoy your mojitos!" I waved and said, "You too!"

I was about halfway home when it hit me. Wait, I thought. What just happened? He's not making mojitos. Did I just tell somebody who isn't making mojitos to enjoy their mojitos?

I fumed for the rest of the night, barely tasting my drinks. Was it possible? Was there a store clerk who didn't offer a standardized greeting to his customers? Isn't that against the rules?

See, when somebody in the service industry says goodbye to a customer, it has to be generic. It has to be universal, like "Have a great day!" or "Have a good one!" or "Enjoy the weather!" They talk to thousands of people a day, people they know nothing about, so they need a greeting that's good for everyone. But it has to be good for the customer too. It has to be something you don't really need to listen to. You can continue thinking about more important matters while the help chatters on, and when you leave you parrot that trusty old, "You too!"

Armando, the rat bastard, went totally off the script. If it was legal, it wasn't fair, because then we'd all be forced to listen to what these people were saying. And if it was a new trend, it definitely had to be nipped in the bud before all the other clerks went AWOL.

The incident may have ruined my evening, but the next time I went to Kang's it was a distant memory. Clearly Armando had forgotten about it too, greeting me like a long-lost pal. He punched in all my purchases, keeping up a long line of friendly banter. He was so friendly and chatty he caught me off guard. "Enjoy your food!" he said, with the wave of a friendly hand.

I grabbed my bags and smiled. "You too!" I blithely replied.

"You too." Goddamn that bastard, I thought, clutching my bags with white knuckles. "You too enjoy your food, even though you aren't buying any and I have absolutely no clue what it is you eat." I could have sworn I heard him chuckling as I headed for the exit, face burning red as my beets.

The next time I went to Kang's I was ready. I picked out a couple potatoes, then strolled up to the counter, eyeing him warily. He waved, all smiles. "Hi!" he said. "How are you today!"

I said "Fine, thanks!" though I meant, "I'm wise to you, buddy!"

"You're in a good mood today," he said.

I dissected the words and came up with a believable response. "I'm going on vacation," I lied. He said oh. He packed all my groceries into a bag and now it was time to say goodbye. I said, "Have a great day!" and he nodded, upset that I'd beaten him to the farewell-greeting punch. He did the little pistol thing to acknowledge that I'd gotten him, and I grabbed my bags in triumph and started off. Disconsolate with defeat he droned, "Well, enjoy your vacation," and bursting with triumph I said, "You too!"

That night I had a premonition. I realized I could never go back to Kang's. Clear as day I saw it: I buy some produce, he hands me my change, he says, "Thanks for coming in!" and I say, "You too."

Before I can stop myself, my hands are around his neck and there's curly endive all over the floor. I'm arrested, pronounced guilty, and thrown onto Death Row.

Finally the day comes. I'm strapped into the electric chair. "Have a nice life!" I say to my executioner. "You too!" he says without thinking, and then he giggles as he flips the switch.
Last night I had sex with a blind man, and I tell you, we must have kept the neighbors up. All night long it was, "Marco?" "Polo!" "MARCO?" "POLO!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

My nephew turned four the other day, so I bought him something called "Baby's First Computer." It had a little screen, and a bunch of knobs and buttons, and a little keyboard. It reminded me of the Playskool Busy Box I used to love, where you spin a wheel with a bright barber pole stripe, turn a crank, and slide a little plastic airplane up and down along a slot. I sure cried when somebody stole it from our house while I was at prom. I pictured little Ronald pounding on it with glee while Mommy and Daddy worked on their real computers. Heck, I thought, if he was anything like me, he would have been thrilled just to have the box!

At his birthday party at my sister's house, Ronald tore off the gift wrap and turned the toy over and over in his hands. "Let me guess," he said. "You didn't get this at the Apple Store?"

"It's from Amazon," I replied.

"Oh," he said brightly. "Okay. Because they did such a great job with the Kindle."

"Pull it out!" I urged. "Turn it on!"

He pried one end open and slid out the yellow plastic toy. "What operating system is it?"

"Well, this is an introductory computer. I'm not sure it has an operating system."

He rolled his eyes and sighed. "Christ. And I thought you couldn't do worse than Windows XT. Okay, I can probably hack it so it'll run Linux."

He pulled off the plastic wrapper and visibly flinched. "Ohmigod," he said under his breath, "LCD? What, wasn't woodburning available?"

"Look at how fun this is!" I said, grabbing a smaller plastic bag. "It's got a pretend mouse that's shaped just like a mouse!"

"Oh, my," he said, "that certainly is impressive. I've never seen a wireless laser mouse that squeaks when you click it." He speed-read the instruction sheet with a growing look of disgust. "Wait. No AirPort? No wi-fi?"

I wasn't exactly proficient at baby talk, so this went over my head. Instead of replying I grabbed the cord because I didn't want him to strangle himself. "You plug this into Mommy's telephone, and you can see pictures from the internet!"

From all the coughing and spluttering you'd think he was choking on corn. "One fuckin' cable to dialup? Christ, this shit's barely worth booting up."

I've never had any kids so I seriously do not speak babble. "Does baby wike his new toy?"

"Eh," he said. "You know what? I don't touch crap at McDonalds, and there I've only got a fifty-fifty chance of catching a bug." He exhaled hard. "Christ, I just did a speed test and this thing's not downloading 50K a second."

I blinked. "Is computer too swow for baby?"

"Yes," he replied. "When iddy biddy baby fine-a-wee get porn, big hand will be waaay past widdle hand."

He shook his head one final time before disconnecting the toy. "Oh, fuck it," he said. "Thanks but no thanks. Christ, the Flintstones would toss this fucker out the -- "

Almost before he got the words out of his mouth, my sister stomped in and walloped him in the head with an oven mitt. "I m-m-mean," he stuttered, "thank you Unca Roman. I wuv it!"

Sue grabbed the toy and thrust it at me. "It's too advanced for him," she said. "He's only four, and he isn't smart. Maybe in another year or six."

I nodded. Well, I tried. I thought at least the lights would entertain little Ronald, but when I tried it myself at home I had to admit she was right. I couldn't get a beep or a boop out of it, and couldn't even fit my head inside the box.