Monday, September 30, 2013

Repeat Monday: Stripping Grammar Naked

Once in a while, somebody will ask me where I learned to write. Sometimes I tell them about the year I spent under John Rechy at Princeton. Sometimes I tell them about the short-story classes I took with Edmund White, or the sabbatical at that writer's colony off the woodsy coast of Nantucket.

And sometimes I tell them the truth: that I learned everything I know from sitting naked in front of my computer and reading lots and lots of godawful porn.

Experts know the best way to learn what's good is to study what's bad. For instance, I learned how not to cook Mexican food from Taco Bell, what not to wear from Wal-Mart, and how not to have sex with ex-husbands 1, 2 and 4. Desperate to find the very worst in writing, I cruised the sleaziest internet porn sites, searched Google for every four-letter word, and scrutinized every fan-fiction site where Spock and Sulu ever touched.

To save you time, though, and from discovering your belongings heaped on the doorstep by an intolerant boyfriend who knows about Internet Explorer's "History" file, I've compiled the most miserable writing I've found in many hard years of study. If we take a moment to examine these examples and see what mistakes were made, we can use that knowledge to write up some rules that we can use to improve our own work.

(1) He had nice thick chest hair that covered his entire body.

The first thing we learn is, never eat breakfast while surfing porn sites. Because while chest hair can be reasonably fetching on, say, a chest, when it creeps over to the forehead or the elbows it can make Jim Belushi spew up his Sugar Pops. It doesn't take an expert to realize chest hair is best confined to the upper torso, in much the same manner that toenails should remain in the vicinity of the feet.

(2) Jim grabbed his ass through his tight shorts and said, "I want you bad."

From this awkward construction we learn that if there are two or more males in your story, avoid using the word "his." Your dramatic scene will turn farcical if the reader thinks your hero is grabbing his own body parts and expressing his feelings of desire. Similar examples include the following:

-- The stranger wrapped his hungry mouth around his mushroom head.
-- Standing at the side of the bed, Gustavo grabbed his ankles and lifted them high into the air.
-- Slowly Maury worked his lips down to his stomach.

(3) All night long Carl slept, sprawled naked across the bed, and Max approached with anticipation.

What we learn here is, modifiers in the first half of your sentence also apply to the second. We’ve got a scene that’s probably eight hours long, which means Max moves about as slowly as gay rights.

(4) Brad's endowment was throbbing so hard Joshua thought it'd explode.

The problem here is painfully obvious: Don't frighten your reader with images from Japanese horror movies. You've spent hours conjuring up the perfect picture, then you go and spoil the mood:

-- Chuck's erection grew so hard it could have knocked over Hitler.
-- I'd never seen an ass pounded so relentlessly, and I watch Bill O'Reilly.
-- His equipment, trapped in those thin white shorts, looked like my grandma in her bra.

(5) Max took out Walter's penis and played with it.

Watch out for the words “took out.” While you may assume it’s equivalent to “bared" or "uncovered,” the reader may opt for another meaning, like “to remove from a box.”

(6) I really wanted to have sex with him. After I finished my french toast, I slid over next to him and brought it up.

Here we've got a confusing pronoun -- in this case, the word "it." The writer is hoping he can refer all the way back to his previous sentence, but instead the reader stops at the closest noun, which just happens to be "french toast."

Other regrettable examples are:

-- My wife and I made love on the deck of our pristine white yacht, then I tied her to the pier and went home.

-- Cooper and I took the dog for a walk. I couldn't resist the way his ass swayed back and forth, so I dragged him behind a bush and took him from behind.

(7) He grabbed hold of his meat and pulled out a condom.

This sentence shows that sometimes there's a weird synergy between different parts of your sentence. Either half of this line is fine by itself, but put the two together and it sounds like a magic trick.

Similar missteps include:

-- I squeezed the bartender's nipple and he refilled my empty glass.
-- Wayne rubbed Raoul's butt until Barbara Eden appeared.

(8) On my knees, Stephen grabbed my head and guided it toward his groin.

This is what's called a "dangling modifier," because the writer has misplaced a clause. Rather than being turned on, the reader pictures a Cirque du Soleil-style attraction. Re-read your articles searching for sentences like:

-- Covered with mayonnaise, Roger took a bite of his sandwich.
-- Engrossed in the newspaper, his penis lay there quietly.
-- Nearly at orgasm, Puddles the dog trotted in.

Well, we've just barely scratched the surface, but today's lesson has to come to an end. Remember, there are serious side effects to reading too much porn. You start to feel inadequate by constantly comparing yourself to these perfect, unreal images, and your self esteem can suffer as a result.

Honestly, though, I swear to you: usually I can go on for hours.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Repeat Friday: Go With The Flow

Last week I went to a cocktail party that positively sparkled with witty repartee and fascinating conversation. Too bad all I wanted was to get laid. I made my excuses, hightailed it to the Eagle, and the first reasonably attractive guy I saw I tailed home. We stripped off our clothes and he leaned in close, grinning like a 12-year-old about to swap his sister's Hershey bar with Ex-Lax.

"You know what would be really cool?" he said, eyes twinkling. "You could tie me to the bed and force me to suck your feet!"

Now, this bothered me in a couple different ways. First, I wasn't falling for his alleged spontaneity. It reminded me of those hetero guys who find themselves on dates with hot, tipsy chicks: "I heard about these things called 'body shots,' " they say, feigning innocence. "You wanna give it a try?" And second, I was supposed to force him to do me? I'm attractive; he should be happy I'm naked and there. I made my excuses and scurried off, adding entry No. 472 to my "Why I Shouldn't Sleep With Strangers" list.

A few days later, though, it happened again. Another guy with a weird request, and another naked scene. "You know what would be great?" this one said like a kid at Christmas. "My neighbor's a submissive pig into hypnotism and electricity. How about we see if he's busy?"

I put my finger to my chin, pretending to think, but mostly I tried to remember where my pants were. I made some vague excuse -- when you flee a pervert's apartment you don't quibble about the details -- and went out and found a replacement. My heart leapt up to my throat when we got naked and he too started to speak: "There's something I've always wanted to try," he said. "How do you feel about Nixon masks and cheese?"

"OK," I thought. "I give up. Everybody's doing that midlife-crisis thing. But can't you all just buy Porsches?"

Now, I've got nothing against crazy stuff: I mean, some people think what I do in bed is crazy, and that's before they hear about the chickens. It's the surprise part I don't like. You wouldn't ask people over for dinner and then surprise them with horse testicles in cat pee, and you shouldn't surprise sex partners with frilly pink corsets or Ovaltine enemas.

For the third time in a row, I put my clothes back on and made my excuses, but halfway down the hall I noticed my wallet was gone. It falls out of my pants a lot so it didn't particularly surprise me -- I just didn't like having to re-greet somebody whose apartment I'd just fled. I walked back to his door and heard him talking on the phone.

"He looked really hot," he was saying. "Nice face, stylish clothes. But then he takes his clothes off, and oh my God! He's so pink and furry I'm afraid the cat's going to run after him. He's got a roll of flab six inches wide around his waist, and it looks like he hasn't been to the gym since gravity was invented. I was like, 'Skipper, better put your shirt back on or Little Buddy's going to be sick!'" I poked my head in and he pasted on the smile I use when opening presents from Grandma. "I'll call you right back," he interjected. "Something's come up."

He hung up and I edged my way in. "I guess you were talking about somebody else," I said, trailed by an awkward chuckle.

"Oh, no," he said, with an insouciant air. "We were talking about you."

"So that stuff about the Nixon mask and the cheese -- that was just to get rid of me?"

He nodded. "It seemed easiest. You weren't quite what I expected."

I sighed. "Well, I'm not a model or a professional bodybuilder. But I work out three times a week, and I've never gotten any complaints."

"Oh, puh-leeze!" he cried like Joan Rivers spotting Cher. "Aside from your massive pinkness there's a zit on your shoulder the size of Vesuvius, and if you stood with your feet together I could still toss a ham between your legs."

I stared at him in disbelief, too stunned to argue. "I forgot my wallet," I said frostily, and I pushed past him to the bedroom where it was lying on the floor. Maybe he'd stripped me of my dignity, I thought, but I'd still have a Discover card with nearly $80 available. With my head held high, I strolled back outside, where the freezing air and his insults hit me like a smack in the face.

The sun was setting as I slowly trudged home and the city darkened around me. Although I hate Los Angeles, I found myself missing it: I mean, having sex there was mindless fun, while here it was like entering a dog show. You take your clothes off and they're inspecting every muscle, every hair, asking you to trot around the bed. "That right delt is slightly saggy," they say, looking up from their clipboard, "and there's a slight curvature to the spine. The chest hair is off-center, and the ears are out of proportion. I'm afraid you'll have to go." But I guess I should have expected it. New Yorkers are cutthroat about everything -- business, sports, even food. Why did I think sex would be different? For the first time in my life I had to confront one of life's biggest questions: Would I ever have sex in this town again?

I got my answer soon enough. On the subway home, a nice-looking guy struck up a conversation with me, then asked me to his place "for coffee," and I went. I stripped naked, he leered at me lustfully, and everything was cool. Then he took off his clothes, and damn. Freak-show time. From chest hair shaped like a bagel to thighs as flat and gray as Flipper to skinny ankles where the hair had been worn away by tight socks.

This would not do.

You know what I'd really like to try?" I said, feigning excitement. "I'd love for you to piss on me while singing 'Send in the Clowns.' "

When he led me into the bathroom and began humming the intro, I nearly freaked. If I'd still been wearing either pants or shoes, in fact, I'd be in Cincinnati right now. But then I thought, Heck, I'm not getting any younger, and to tell you the truth, I'm not in the best shape in the world. How often do opportunities like this come up?

I learned my lesson. By the time he finished, let me tell you, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Repeat Wednesday: Two Mistakes

Every time Richard opens his mouth he makes two mistakes. "I absolutely love Picasso's works from his purple period," he declares at the art museum, staring in admiration at a tiny, colorful work.

These pronouncements always stop me in my tracks, because I never know which mistake to address first. In this case I say, "Actually, Picasso never had a purple period. And that picture in particular is a Mondrian."

"Oh," he says. He nods his head like he's suddenly semi-educated, when in reality he's just moving on to his next mistakes. He doesn't seem to realize how hard it is to talk to him. When somebody makes one mistake, the human brain can easily decipher it. One mistake is glaringly obvious: Ellen Degeneres is married to Portia de Rossi, not Tia Carrera. Narcissus aren't orange, they're white. One can't actually dodge taxes by diverting some of their income to a 10K. The brain decides whether or not the err is worth correcting, and that's the extent of that.

When someone makes two mistakes, though, additional parts of the brain are required, because the conversation receptor is thrown into overload. A dialog starts ping-ponging inside the head. It's like the NYPD caught a naked man holding up a liquor store and then couldn't decide whether the case should go to Violent Crimes or Vice. "Have you seen that movie with Roma Downey Jr.?" Richard asks. "Hawaiian Tropics?"

I have to mentally list all the possible permutations and then rank them by the likeliest. Does he really mean Roma Downey? Probably not. Nobody's meant Roma Downey in quite some time. No, odds are it's Robert Downey Jr. But he never made a movie about tanning lotion, right?

Meanwhile, Richard is standing there blissfully, not a thought in his head.

Now, I kind of like Richard. He's attractive and fun and professional, three qualities I've rarely found before, let alone in the same man. But I can't help but wonder. Making one mistake at a time marks you as an ordinary, fallible human. What does two at a time say?

Still, he's my man for most of December. I bite my lip when he tells me he has a crush on David Beckham, the rugby player who's married to Scary Spice. I sigh sadly when he announces that Oreo cookies are made by leprechauns. I watch in silence as he pours champagne into a martini glass that has colored salt around the rim.

And still, somehow, we make it into bed. The usual way, pretty much: we go out to dinner, drink a bottle of wine, go back to his place and start making out. "I bet you've got a big dick and you know how to use it," he whispers into my ear.

I say, "Oh, just shut up and lie down."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Repeat Monday: 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 Macy's to see what's new. There's a red knit cap I almost like. I'm not sure if it works with my beige skin and ridiculous height. "You look great!" a clerk says. "You look fabulous!" I look at her. She looks at me. "You look like a lit match," she admits.

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.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Repeat Friday: Why I Don't Read The Classics

I’ve been reading way too much trash recently -- books with sex or drugs or violence and no redeeming value whatsoever. The last book I finished was about a gay vampire who had other things on his mind than sucking blood. Try checking that out of the library without a fake moustache and dark glasses. After being both embarrassed and bored, I figured I'd read something respectable for a change. I’d seen most of the classics on “Masterpiece Theater” and they didn’t seem all that difficult so I figured I’d get one of them. To speed things up, though, I’d skip over Kenneth Branagh's lines.

I ended up with “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s one of those books you mean to read but never do, and halfway through the book I understand why. Like a PBS miniseries it’s interesting in theory, but after more than a couple minutes in reality it just bugs the pants off you.

For one thing, I expected intrigue, intelligence, and wit, but instead got a Victorian potboiler on the level of “All My Children.” Austen uses plenty of big words in Ye Olde English, but I’m still pretty sure the first printing had Fabio’s great-grandfather in a torn pirate shirt on the cover.

The book concerns several hundred people, all related, who alternately love and hate each other with the skill of Italians. At the center of the story are the Bennets: Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, and their daughters. Lots of daughters. The number is never specified, and it seems to change by the hour. We start off with Elizabeth and Jane, then page by page discover Lydia, Beth, Kitty, Mary, Lizzy and Eliza, though someone smarter than myself may discern that four of these could refer to the exact same person.

The big romance is between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, a guy who doesn’t even get a first name until page 187. There’s a roadblock flung in their path: we’re supposed to think that Mr. Darcy is unforgiveably rude because he went to a ball and only danced twice. That’s rude? the guys reading will ask. Hell, if he showed up in his underwear, guzzled scotch from a bottle and asked the hostess to pull his finger maybe she’d have a case. Then we learn that a dance lasts fifteen minutes, that you have to book them like appointments with the cable guy, and that dancing with the same woman twice is roughly equivalent to proposing marriage. Under these conditions even Fred Astaire would be hanging around the buffet table stuffing rumaki in his gob. Besides, that’s unforgiveably rude? That’s an obstacle to a relationship? Once I forgave a hubby who had sex with a preoccupied paraplegic.

The characters hook up and break off straight out of daytime drama. Miss Bingley likes Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy likes Elizabeth, Mr. Bingley likes Jane but seems destined to marry Countess De Burgh’s daughter (his cousin) to unite their estates. Elizabeth ought to marry Mr. Collins, her cousin, but since she hates him she pawns him off on Charlotte Lucas, the only character who’s not a relative. There are like eight sets of cousins who consider each other for marriage, yet for some reason they’re more concerned with estates and property than bearing children who have bat ears and duckbills.

Adding to the overall confusion is the language barrier. Shew, sallad, chuse -- maybe these words used to be English, but now they sound like parts of a snail. When they play “Vingt Un” I’m not sure they need playing cards or a plastic mat with colored circles on it. I have no clue what a “quadrille” is, and in the book it seems to alternate between being a dance and a board game. A major plot point hinges on how the Bennet estate is “entailed.” I’m guessing it’s not the opposite of what a butcher does to a bunny.

Here are some of the convoluted phrases Austen uses, and what I determined they meant through hours of research:

“It is more than I engage for, I assure you.”“Huh-uh."
“Dare I say my eye might have misjudged the possibility?”“Really?”
“I see no occasion for that.”“Whaaa?”
“That is not an unnatural surmise.”“Maybe.”
“Upon my honour I have not the smallest of objections.”“Oh. Okay.”

Now, I don’t mind a little wordiness as long as the author keeps it all straight. Austen, though, turns the whole exercise into a word problem. There are forty countesses in the book, yet rather than referring to them by name she gives the name of their house. “’I visited your relations at Lancashire,’ the Countess of Marscapone exclaimed while her own thoughts dwelt on her sister at Longhorn.” Everyone has three or four cousins with the same name (Colonel Fitzwilliam and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet on page 252, much to my astonishment). And everybody’s got more aliases than Puffy.

Austen loves to throw all sorts of folks into a room and not tell you who she’s talking about. Pronouns, adjectives, past participles -- I‘ve never seen so many things dangling, and I spent one Christmas at a nude beach. Here’s a typical scene among the Bennet sisters (remember there are somewhere between five and forty of them). See if you can tell who’s talking, and who they’re speaking of:

“Tell me, dear Lizzie,” enquired the younger Miss Bennet of her sister, “who is it that you are fondest of?”

“Methinks she shall chuse herself!” a flaxen-haired lass cried, and her two elder sisters tittered.

Elizabeth looked at her older sister with fine eyes mingling incredulity and agitation. “Why am I thus subjected to this undisguised air of discivility? Whilst my desires burn brightly within my bower they are of no small importance to yourselves, and I fear you shall render them like insects ‘neath a hasty hobbled boot.”

Silence hung in the air, then the girl leaning against the mantle-piece spake. “Beth, you are over scrupulous, I assure you; her intent was not so bold.” She turned to the woman nearest the bird. “What say you, Kitty?”

The tallest sister who isn’t Lydia froze with mortification. “Indeed, madam, I am not Kitty,” she observed. “Kitty stands indifferently by the balustrade, nearest the girl who’s allergic to cheese.”

The woman with the bean-shaped mole and crinoline knickers pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. “I foresaw the return of this confusion within a fortnight,” she cried, and with the girl who’d recently returned from the dentist fled the room, fatigued.

And so, kind reader, to cut a long story short, I’m giving up. At page 274 I’m bidding a final “fare thee well” to the Bennets and the Bingleys and their fourteen hundred cousins and returning the book to the library, where it can be admired from a great distance. Tonight I’ll enjoy a respite from such obfuscation in my bed-sit chamber, neither playing nor dancing a quadrille with the one I hold in fondest regard who isn’t me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

On vacation! Three incredible weeks in London and Rome. Culture, shopping, and rainy weather followed by espresso, panini, and gelato. I'll occasionally be reprinting some reader favorites while I'm gone. Back October 6.

Monday, September 16, 2013

World Shocked When Homophobic Cartoonist Goes After Women Next

The good news is, Max Garcia's comic "Between the Lines" appear in exactly one newspaper: the New York Daily News. The bad news is, it's my local newspaper.

Every day we unfortunate readers get a glimpse into the inner recesses of Mr. Garcia's mind -- at least the parts that haven't been jammed full of Ren and Stimpy cartoons, role-playing games, and fart jokes. For those outside of Mr. Garcia's limited sphere, this panel provides a fine example of his humor:

Got that? See, it's a pun! When horses say "nay," it's like they're saying no! Sad puns provide the basis for 99% of Mr. Garcia's comics, including the billiard balls frolicking around a swimming pool and Vladimir Putin atop a Ritz cracker. You can almost picture Mr. Garcia elbowing you in the ribs while you peruse the drawing for meaning. He's stifling hysterics and warning, "Give it a minute! You'll get it!" but we get it all too quickly, I'm afraid.

A cursory examination of this cartoon illuminates Mr. Garcia's unfortunate subtext. The male horse is distinguished, with a well-groomed goatee, while the female has a big mouth, a cinched waist, and giant boobs. While annoying, the adolescent sexism can be easily ignored until Mr. Garcia's larger mental problems surface in the strip.

I've written about this panel before, so I'll just summarize by saying Mr. Garcia has evidently spent a lot of time in Mel Gibson movies from the 1980s. Today, though, the other shoe dropped. Mr. Garcia demonstrated why homosexuals frequently quote Martin Niemöller's sharp adage, "First they came for the Socialists...." Because Mr. Garcia discovered that it's safe to come after us, so now he's gunning for those other bizarre creatures that boggle his tiny mind.

Like a modern-day Sean Delonas, Mr. Garcia breaks us up with his virtual catalog of tried-and-true tropes: pale, pasty, glasses, long hair, brown belt, sweater vest. The message beneath those brilliant colors? SEXUAL HARASSMENT WOULDN'T EXIST IF DUDES WERE HOTTER. That's not a comic: that's the bumper sticker on an idiot's car. A comic shouldn't leave you thinking, "So, I'm an attractive dude. Is rape gonna be okay?"

I didn't contact Mr. Garcia for comment this time around, and perhaps the adage about teaching pigs to dance explains the reason why. Instead I'll reprint his reply to my thoughts about the Chuck Norris comic: "Hey, wanna be my Facebook friend?" I didn't speak in a barbed balloon and I don't have big tits but my answer was definitely nay.

Life is like a game of Tetris. Problems enter your field of vision one at a time, and you deal with them as best you can before you file them away. Right now I'm at that part where you think, "Just dump that shit on the top, assholes. I no longer give a fuck."

Gay Bar Chastened By Police: You Just Can't Keep Bothering Us Every Time You Get Attacked


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Picture this: you're on a date. You've had a fabulous dinner followed by expensive drinks, and now you're parked in front of her house saying good night. You lean in for a kiss and she cowers back like dogs are attacking. "It's been a wonderful evening," she stutters. "Let's please not ... spoil it."

What's gone wrong? Odds are you've just fallen victim to the number-one killer of the one-night stand: your breath was just too fresh.

See, you put a lot of effort into that date. Maybe too much effort, in fact. You shaved, got dressed up, maybe splashed on a little cologne. At first your girl thought it was nice. Then when you started asking about her day and wondering what she thought, she realized you'd put more effort into this than she did. The die was cast. When she smelled that fatal dose of minty Mentos on your breath she thought, "Ohmigod, this dude is crazy desperate!"

Well, buckle up and get ready for your life to change with Colgate's new Coffee and Cigarettes scent. It not only cleans and whitens your teeth, but it leaves behind the odor of freshly-ground French roast (black, no sugar) and unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes.

Colgate's harsh new scent has been scientifically formulated to totally addle today's women. At first whiff she'll think you were busy and semi-thoughtless, but over the next seven to ten minutes it'll occur to her that deep down you don't care about her at all. Before the night is over the unmistakable truth will have solidified in her head: you have better things to do and don't care about her at all. Now lean in for that kiss and see where you get! Just make sure you've got coffee and cigarettes for two.

Also look out for new Colgate Advanced Coffee and Cigarettes, to give you twelve-hour protection against looking like you give a fuck.

It's actually sort of refreshing to realize that Spotify knows nothing about me. I mean, if they think I was still in school at the age of 38 then they won't be a whole lot of help to the NSA.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dear AMC TV employees:

You've never heard of me, but I found all your email addresses on Google. Based solely and entirely on that string of letters with "@" in the middle I've decided that you all want to get email from me. Surely you agree, since that's apparently why I get email from you.

Today I'm having chicken sandwiches for lunch. Just broiled chicken on bread. I always liked mayo but recently decided it's kind of gross, like lube for a sandwich. I don't even like getting my throat greased up when Raoul's in town.

If you don't want to receive these updates in the future, UNSUBSCRIBE HERE. Either click on the box where it says DINING DELIBERATIONS or unclick it: one of them subscribes and one unsubscribes but I didn't take notes when I set it up.

Welcome to my email list!

Dear AMC TV employees:

Hi. It's me again. I played a little joke on you: the checkboxes on my UNSUBSCRIBE page don't work at all. Or as you guys say, "Please allow ten days for your changes to take affect." Ha!

I really don't get fashion. Everybody says you've got to wear a black belt with black shoes. And then I tune into Project Runway and chicks get reamed for being too "matchy-matchy"! Is that a thing? Do I need to buy something brown?

If you don't want to receive this newsletter, CLICK HERE and uncheck the box next where it says WARDROBE WONDERINGS. Please allow blah blah blah.

All the best,

Dear AMC TV employees:

Me again. I know you unsubscribed from WARDROBE WONDERINGS and DINING DELIBERATIONS. Hell, I haven't seen four hundred people move so fast since I went swimming in white Speedos. But this is a brand new newsletter and I thought you'd be interested.

Did you know tofu increases estrogen production? I was having lunch with a girlfriend when she was all, "Roman, you are turning into a chick." And I was like huh? She said, "You're vegetarian, right? You're eating lots of tofu? Well, tofu causes estrogen production, and it's turning you into a chick." Naturally I was relieved. I mean, I'd assumed she was badmouthing my skirt.

Stay tuned for more updates with my weekly LUNCHTIME LAUGHS newsletter. You should probably forget about unsubscribing because I'm just doing new newsletters every week until Jesus returns.

All the best,

Dear AMC TV employees:

Well, out of the kindness of my heart I added a box that said UNSUBSCRIBE ME FROM ALL NEWSLETTERS, and all four hundred of you did. This means you won't get any more of my newsletters. This, however, is a one-time email I thought would interest you. Why? Because you're the people who kept emailing me crap about Breaking Bad when I DON'T WATCH THAT SHIT and COULDN'T GIVE A FUCK.

Today it's warm in my apartment, so I put the air conditioning on. Rain is dappling at the windows so I kind of want to open them but I live over a Chinese restaurant and the Amityville Horror can't compete with those kinda flies.


Okay, I'm not a sadist. All your angry notes have finally gotten to me. If you really don't want to hear from me, CLICK HERE and initial where it says, "Roman, I apologize for incessantly emailing you crap about Breaking Bad when you DON'T WATCH THAT SHIT and COULDN'T GIVE A FUCK. I promise we'll never email you again."

It'll work; I promise. But if I ever hear from you again, my next update is called SEXY SHENANIGANS and my pubic hair went gray back in 1982.

All the best,

Looking for a good book? The Philadelphia Independence Visitor Center has a varied stock. Here's some choice selections from their Noxious Gas and African American Studies section.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Undercover Boss" Celebrates Its 500th CEO Shocked To Discover His Employees Aren't Paid A Living Wage

This week CBS TV's "Undercover Boss" will celebrate its 500th episode, and the 500th company president who had absolutely no idea his employees worked so hard for so little.

"The initial idea was to show both sides," said Mitchell Michelson, the show's producer. "Show incompetent employees getting fired, and terrific employees being rewarded. We realized pretty quickly that we'd get sued by the incompetent employees, so instead we decided to focus on the great employees. We actually worried that we wouldn't be able to find any who weren't already well-paid and well-treated, but we laugh about that now."

The show's formula has been honed to a sheen over the years. "The CEO goes undercover and hangs out with his low-level employees," said Michelson. "He discovers that the people who have been giving him their blood, sweat and tears can't afford to buy more than one roll of toilet paper at a time. He declares that this is completely unfair and unjust, and wishes he'd taken action before. Inevitably, tears accompany these hard-won realizations, and he gives three people money and then heads home."

One might think the show's long-term success on a major network would lead to an improvement in America's workplaces, but Michelson says that doesn't appear to be the case. "You'd think people would catch on eventually," he said. "Every week there's another CEO who's shocked, totally shocked to discover his employees toiling long hours for an unlivable wage. You'd think other CEOs would tune in and say, 'Hey, I should check and see if we mistreat our workers.' But these are important, powerful businessmen. If they don't have time to ensure their employees are treated well, when would they find the time to watch TV?"

Walter Blickner, head of Blickner's Sporting Goods, raves about his experience as the 500th clueless CEO. "I had a great time," said Blickner, whose company has 214 stores and $600 million in yearly sales. "It was really a great experience, and I was really glad to take part. Of course, I was standing on the shoulders of 499 other CEOs who also 'forgot' to visit their stores and see if their employees slept in their cars."

Longtime viewers of the show will doubtless recall numerous highlights, but Michelson's personal favorite was Tamara Lepnicki, the single mom who worked 14-hour days sewing the feet onto dolls at Candy's Clown Factory for six dollars an hour. Copious tears were shed when CEO Mark Livingson discovered that Tamara's two children were taken away because she couldn't afford adequate medical care and he presented her with a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas and a trophy that named her, "QUEEN OF THE HUSTLE!"

The show was an immediate success so don't think the producers will fiddle with a winning formula. "It's been an amazing ride," said a beaming Michelson. "I'm thrilled that we can show the hardworking men and women of America that their indefatigable effort will eventually be rewarded, though currently for just three of them a week. I'd like to say that our show provides good role models for CEOs, but clearly that isn't the case and we'll just have to keep on educating them one at a time. It's my fervent hope that in the next few years we'll feature another five hundred corporate leaders who truly don't realize how shitty it is to work for them."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Evolutionary Biologists don't get much respect. And rightly so! Whereas many intelligent people contribute to the world by investigating the regulation of serotonin uptake by postsynaptic receptors or the effect of cognitive behavior therapy on body dysmorphia, EBs spend years struggling to explain why people still have eyebrows.

They come up with these ridiculous explanations -- spoiler alert: it's all about sex -- and then preface them with disclaimers like, "Of course, there's no way we can know for sure." Men have pubic hair because it holds pheromones, thereby attracting sexual partners. Men have facial hair because it provides physical evidence of reproductive prowess, thereby attracting sexual partners. Gosh, I guess that's why there are so few Chinese! And if indeed the end-all of evolution was to get us all laid, wouldn't there be at least a couple people with the words "I'M RICH!" spelled out in freckles on their foreheads?

When they wander away from the human community, however, EBs go entirely nuts. A terrific example is this compilation of studies examining homosexual behavior in insects. Short answer? The eight-legged dudes were all positive their partners had vaginas.

Whereas larger animals have developed more complicated homosexual motivations — like maintaining alliances, which has been found in certain primate and seagull species — insects seem to mistakenly partake in it in a hasty attempt to secure mates.

This opening statement says more about the scientists than about the bugs. There are a lot of reasons to have gay sex, they say, then cite that it's a great way to make friends. Really? If I want to make friends, I lend someone money. Help them pack. Feed their dog when they're on vacation. Put their erect penises in my mouth? It's not going to make the top ten.

Insects, though, don't even use this stupid excuse to go gay. No, they're in such a hurry to fuck, they don't even notice their partner's lack of vagina. After every instance of homo insect sex, apparently, the EBs have witnessed dude smacking his exoskeleton forehead and going, "Oops! Sorry! No homo!"

The study's idiot co-author goes even farther up the ridiculous-theory ladder.

"[Insects] have evolved to mate quick and dirty," said study co-author Inon Scharf, an evolutionary ecologist at Tel Aviv University. "They grab every opportunity to mate that they have because, if they become slow, they may give up an opportunity to mate." Sometimes, such extreme indiscrimination leads to mating with inanimate objects, as has been observed in beetles trying to mount glass bottles.

Got that? Beetles don't just mistakenly fuck dudes because they think they're chicks. No, they mistakenly fuck bottles because they think they're chicks. Scharf actually says that glass bottles look like giant female beetles. I guess that explains why women always run screaming out of liquor stores.

Other studies do, however, show evidence of more intentional and malicious motivations behind homosexual insect sex. Male butterflies, moths and wasps, for example, use same-sex encounters to distract competitors from potential female mates.

Really? You know, I've had sex a few times. Guys have approached me in bars, said, "Why don't we go back to my place?", and we've fucked. But I'm relatively sure the guy's primary motivation hasn't been to keep me away from the hot chicks. And I'm not sure how a scientist would determine this motivation. He see a bunch of moths, both male and female. The male moths start fucking. They're all lubed up and screwing and an actual, thinking scientist says, "Wow, they really want to distract the other dudes from all the women!"

Certain beetles have even been found to use same-sex mounting as a way to spread sperm to other males that may then pass it along to the next female he mounts,...

Sigh. Well, I guess we should have seen that coming. Now Bob Beetle is ejaculating on Barry Beetle's chest in hopes it'll get rubbed against Betty Beetle. I'm trying to figure out how EBs work out this whole cause-and-effect. Beetles have gay sex, then still dripping sperm they hang around with females. I'm thinking (1) they have to hang around with females because there's no Insect West Hollywood, and (2) beetles have a hard time cleaning up.

     Dear Scientists,
     Maybe the beetles would have wiped off the cum but, you know, they don't have Kleenex.
     Hope this helps,

Are you getting the idea that beetles have a lot of gay sex? Well, it appears you're right.

[O]ne study found that certain male insects have developed femalelike genitals to lower the risk of damage from homosexual penetration.

That's my favorite beetle anecdote, and definitely the pièce de résistance. That's the story that sets intelligent people giggling because it destroys that whole "confused hetero" theory. Let's set the scene: there's a whole colony of horny insects, but all the males are just buttfucking each other. Constantly buttfucking. In fact, they buttfuck so often it's actually a threat to their lives. (Mental note: could this be why crabs walk sideways?) Male insects go gay so often that even God is throwing in the towel. He's like, "Holy Christ! If I give you guys fake vaginas, would you please stop fucking each other in the butt?"

And what's the first thing Evolutionary Biologists have to say about these insects? NONE OF THEM ARE GAY.

Sadly, I see a lost cause, at least for the near future. Because if rampant gay sex won't convince scientists that not all insects are straight, what will? Will they need to carry little rainbow flags? Hold parades? Open discos? That would certainly be one of the most disgusting things I could think of, and I've been to Oil Can Harry's.