Friday, May 30, 2014

Translating a Right-Winger

It's important for the gay community to keep tabs on their enemies. Unfortunately, their writing skills are frequently so inadequate the average reader struggles to grasp a point. To help you understand the beliefs of failed Senate and presidential candidate Alan Keyes, I've translated one of his recent word jumbles into English.

"Homosexuals may argue that the specially combined faculties of human nature have extended human sexual activities, in just this way, beyond what instinctively appears to be their natural limits."

Translation: Many millions of years ago, man invented the blowjob.

"Do we forbid people to fly because they were not born with wings? Do we forbid them to travel to the moon because they were not born equipped to withstand the rigors of being in space?"

Translation: But we need to ask ourselves: are we truly ready for blowjobs?

"Among all the various ways of being in the universe of our experience, isn’t this capacity consciously to extend our reach beyond the limits of our original nature the special quality of our human nature?"

Translation: I mean, you don't see animals blowing each other. I have never been on YouTube.

"Isn’t it the one that, above all, distinguishes humanity from the rest?"

Translation: I daresay it'd be difficult to differentiate humans from tree sloths if it wasn't for the mouth-on-dick thing.

"On the whole, homosexual activity epitomizes this dilemma."

Translation: Sure, straight people want to "extend their reach of sex beyond the limits of its original nature," but chicks freak out when you say "anal." Also, I have never understood double entendres.

"We call it sexual activity because it involves bodily organs and feelings associated with the activity for which the different sexes appear to exist."

Translation: We say it's "sex" because there are penises and ejaculation, but that's like saying there's been a "crime" just because you have twelve pairs of ugly jeans in your car and Sears has a broken window.

"Yet, in the strict sense of the term, it is not "sexual" activity at all."

Translation: It's not sex! It's just "shooting on somebody's face," or "cumming in their ass."

"The functional difference that distinguishes one sex from the other quite literally has nothing to do with same-sex activity."

Translation: No vagina, no sex. That's why there's no rape in prison.

"That activity abstracts from the functionally defined difference in order exclusively to focus on bodily feelings and emotions that are important to the individuals involved, but that are of no consequence, concretely, for the species as a whole."

Translation: Lost. But this thing's got more "wholes" than a lesbian wedding.

"As individuals, some human beings may find this activity intensely gratifying. But considered on the whole, in terms of its consequences, it implies the nonexistence of humanity."

Translation: Circle jerks are hot, but every time a man ejaculates outside a vagina, Frederick Nietsche high-fives Satan.

"The homosexual couple is not engaged in the act of human procreation. Their activity is not haunted by the possibility of human offspring."

Translation: Did I say "haunted"? Yes! For it to qualify as "sex," there needs to be a little spectre of a fetus in the man's brain occasionally screaming, "I NEED DIAPERS AND MONEY FOR COLLEGE!!!"

"Because it is, on the whole, of no consequence, homosexual activity involves no natural right – for every claim of natural right arises from respect for the law of nature, which in turn necessarily requires respect for the nature of law."

Translation: If it can't cause permanent damage, you don't deserve to do it. Eating? Only wild mushrooms and blowfish. Dancing? Only with retards. Hunting? Cool! Look, there's a wild tur--

Oops. Hang in there, buddy. Lemme see if I can go get help.

Thanks JMG!
Sigh. I'm not sure about this. I'm trying to write a book about sexuality and gender identification for children but it's a lot harder than it sounds. There's something about this paragraph, for instance, that feels awkward but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Chastity Bono knew for a long time that something was wrong. Finally she decided that she looked like a girl but she was meant to be a boy. After consulting with doctors and lawyers, she had reassignment surgery and had her -tity taken off.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another big scoop today! Through my Hollywood connections and the power I derive from having nearly two dozen readers, I got invited to a special sneak preview of the movie Ant-Man nearly two years before its release. I mean, I love superhero movies, but Ant-Man is my personal favorite because of his "every man" aspect. In case you're unfamiliar with the plot, Hank Pym makes a scientific breakthrough in subatomic particles that enables him to communicate with insects, turning the mild-mannered biochemist into the feared Ant-Man.

Since I first heard about the project, my mind reeled at the possibilities that came with first-class writers like Jack Kirby and stars like Paul Rudd. Good news, readers: it is unbelievably suspenseful as well as moving and full of heart. I know the "Powers That Be" will be furious, but I can't resist: here are three of the countless scenes that had me literally glued to my seat.

----------------------------

ANT-MAN is in New York City's Times Square when he hears a frantic cry.

TOURIST: HELP! HELP! AIEEEE!

ANT-MAN's eyes swerve to where the voice originated. There he sees a sad, thin man frantically trying to maneuver past a chubby woman smack-dab in the center of the sidewalk, hands swinging like wrecking balls in an effort to propel herself forward.

ANT-MAN: Don't worry, tourist! ANT-MAN is here to help! [THROUGH MEGAPHONE HANDS] ANTS OF THE WORLD, HEAR ME! I SUMMON YOU WITH POWERS DIVINE: MOVE THIS IRRITATING WOMAN!

Suddenly it's as if the entire world rumbles and shakes. Onlookers run for cover as a stream of ANTS pours out of every crack in the sidewalk.

ANT-MAN (cont'd): BEHOLD THE AWESOME POWER OF ANT-MAN!

Acting as one, nearly a thousand ANTS hoist the chubby woman onto their alitrunks and lift her in unison. She moves a sixteenth of an inch into the air, then as if on a conveyor belt she slides off the curb into the street. Onlookers burst into applause.

TOURIST: Wow. Ants really are strong. Hey, is Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. this way?

----------------------------

After the ants learn of Dr. Pym's awesome powers, they call a meeting to discuss the implications.

ANT #1: Friends, we must leap at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As we all know, Dr. Pym can communicate with us -- but, more importantly, we can communicate with him. If we hope to share our thoughts on politics, the arts, and climate change with humans, it has to be through him, so we need to do whatever we can to win him over to our side.

ANT #2: Gosh, you're right! [PAUSE] I have an idea. Why don't we build him the biggest, most spectacular house anybody has ever seen? And we'll just give it to him, no strings attached. Surely he'll feel so indebted he'll do whatever we want.

ANT #1: That's a GREAT idea!

The ants gather all of the tribes -- field ants, acrobat ants, even odorous ants -- and numbering in the millions they work twenty-four hours a day. Finally, months later, the house is finished. An ambassadorial group approaches ANT-MAN in his dingy living room.

AMBASSADOR: Ant-Man, the ant community would like to extend a hand in friendship. Toward that end, we've built you a house hitherto unparalleled in splendor that we would like to give to you.

ANT-MAN is shocked speechless. He follows the ants through the city streets while his eyes dart around in search of his fabulous new mansion. Finally the ants stop in front of a hole in the ground.

AMBASSADOR: Here it is! Complete with chandeliers, mandible-hewn marble, balconies, balustrades and billiard rooms. And all of it is yours!

ANT-MAN looks down at the hole. It's literally the size of a quarter.

ANT-MAN: That's really, really kind of you, but I'm not sure I can fit.

AMBASSADOR [shocked]: Really? You can't compact your pliable head and thorax into one-thirtieth of its regular size to squeeze into cramped spaces?

ANT-MAN: No.

AMBASSADOR: Wow. Bummer. [PAUSE] Well, then. Would you like a little bit of cheese?

----------------------------

And, of course, there's the breathtaking finale. I swear, I left the theater covered in goosebumps. If you're planning on seeing the movie, you might not want to read this part.

ANT-MAN and his human family are having a picnic. The sun is out, and the group are sprawled out on a plaid tablecloth under the spidery branches of a dappled chestnut tree.

GRANDMA (setting the table): ANT-MAN, you come here and help yourself. Honey, you've nothing but a skeleton! I made my famous fried chicken, green bean casserole, and a surprise treat just for you: my special potato salad, with little bits of celery and a dash of mustard, just the way you like it.

ANT-MAN's jaw drops open. He stands, holds his hands out to his sides, and points his face to the sky.

ANT-MAN: Ants of the world! Soldier ants, carpenter ants, fire ants. Leafcutter ants, honeypot ants, weaver ants. Fix your compound eyes on me and close your mandibles for one minute. Do NOT touch this potato salad! Do you hear me? Do not TOUCH this potato salad?

The ANTS shrug their scutellums.

ANTS (in unison): Oh, okay.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eksclusive Kim And Kanye Koupling Koverage


Here's a guest arriving for the wedding. I think it's the ginger kid from Harry Potter trying to remember a spell that makes pants fit.



I'm not sure why this photo is in here. It's supposed to be in my folder on how to kiss if you don't want to get cold sores.



Here we are at the actual wedding. I'm not positive because the picture is fuzzy, but I think it's a priceless, one-of-a-kind carpet made by albino silkworms that leads up to the ladies' crapper.



This is Kim's dress. Isn't it magnificent? Everything about it is symbolic. The white means innocence, and the veil means modesty. I forget the reason for the splayed-out bottom.



This is the scene inside the chapel. On the groom's side, applause and well-wishes. On the bride's side, specially-reinforced bucket chairs.



At last we see the happy couple taking their vows in a cave of bleu cheese. It was a mammoth thing, all white with blue veins, and Kim remarked that she'd never seen anything like it before. I'm not sure why they had it built, but at least the pair will temporarily stop smelling of Gruyere. "Isn't that fabulous?" one wag in attendance remarked. "Now there's another reason to look at them and think, 'Crackers!'"



This is where the happy couple will be honeymooning. The maze is cool but I personally would not be thrilled if my new spouse took me somewhere specifically designed to lose me. A terrific afternoon is rarely presaged by the words, "Now see if you can find your way back!"



A wedding souvenir. These are really nice jackets, with the famous Navajo Stomach-Cramp Pigeon motif. When Kanye wears his, though, he should make sure he doesn't stand next to somebody whose shirt makes a reference to WEED.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I highly recommend Todd Terje's new record It's Album Time if it's 1972 and you need to score a movie where Don Johnson chases Irene Cara through the back alleys of New York.



Really, dudes? Of all the things to be afraid of at Dunkin Donuts, chicken apple sausage is your choice?

You got your english muffin. You've got flat, round egg. You've got the usual pre-sliced "cheese." They slap on a sliced sausage that has a little apple in it and all of a sudden you're freaked out?

Really? That's what does it? Not the fact that --

  • This thing sells $1.99, and in New York you can't buy three ounces of wet newspaper and dog farts for $1.99?
  • Two of the ingredients in this sandwich's artificial-butter-sauteed egg are Artificial Butter Flavor and Natural Sauteed Flavor?
  • Some person in power at this chain has decided that orange and pink are wonderful colors to brighten up America's neighborhoods?
  • Due to some analyst's demand that they serve meals as well as dessert, they've got frosted donuts sitting next to tuna melts?
  • The "seasoning" in this tuna melt consists of six ingredients that sound less like food than Matt Damon films? (I'd pay to see him in Nisin Preparation myself.)
  • Dunkin Donuts is a franchise, which means it offers roughly the same guarantee of cleanliness and quality as a yard sale in a cul du sac?
  • A spokesperson for this chain is Eli Manning, who's earned buckets of credibility by tying his name to such prestigious brands as Papa John's, Buick and Gatorade?
  • For many years the best slogan they could come up with was "You Kin' Do It", apparently applauding customers for being able to walk to a store and plop money onto a horizontal surface?
  • They once stopped airing a commercial starring Rachael Ray because a crazy blogger claimed she looked like Yasser Arafat?
Dunkin Donuts is the culinary equivalent of a traveling fair set up in a Sears parking lot. So yeah, guys, have a great time on the Zipper. It took four drunk carnies nearly an hour to build, and they barely had any parts left over. It's been mostly stable since they got those new bungie cords, and you can hardly hear the screech of metal on metal when the music is turned on. For God's sake, though, stay away from the deep-fried tofu: that shit is truly weird.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014


OHMIGOD HOW MANY ACTIVIST JUDGES ARE THERE?????


Now you know how I feel about side boob, assholes.


Location of study: U. S.

Study subjects: 100 children aged 3 to 12 who have just been diagnosed with cancer

Proposal: Researchers from the American Humans Association are launching the first clinical trial to measure the effects of animal-assisted therapy on cancer. Puppies will be provided to 50 kids, in addition to standard therapy. The other 50 children will receive standard therapy alone.


Hi. I'm so, so sorry you're eight years old and you have cancer. Would you like to take part in a study? Lots of kids will get puppies except you.



Friday, May 16, 2014

An Open Letter To The Next Generation

Hello, children of the next generation. I know the world will have a tendency to feel bad for you. Between climate change and unheard-of advances in technology, you will be facing obstacles that my generation would never have dreamed of. It's genuinely questionable whether, as a race, you will survive or not. Scores of voices across the land will wish you courage and peace.

Me, I'm going to tell them to shut up.

I mean, c'mon -- every generation has its problems. You just have to deal with it. In fact, this generation's problems are NOTHING compared to the obstacles my generation faced.

When I was in my twenties, for instance, gay people couldn't get married. So you're up to your ankles in water because all the glaciers have melted? Wah wah wah. While you're drowning, at least you've got a hubby to hug!

Panthers, tigers, rhinos, gorillas, pandas, and lions have all gone extinct? Whoopee. It's not like they used to be walking down Main Street. We had to go to zoos to see them. You're in the same boat we were, and we didn't get to make out with football players on ESPN.

Of course, antibiotics are going to stop working in a few years, so everybody will have VD. NOOOOOO! At least you can comfort yourself by watching Jon Hamm in no knickers. My generation, if we wanted to see a basket, we had to watch eight hours of doctor shit on TV hoping Marcus Welby would eventually sit down. You didn't have blue balls for eight weeks before the J. C. Penney catalog came out.

When I was a kid, sure, the weather was lovely. Puffy little clouds dotted the crystal blue sky and cool breezes wafted the scent of lilac and cedar around the old swimming hole. If a gay kid wanted to hit the big time, though, he'd have to sleep with Richard Deacon or Paul Lynde. So you're whining because you have to crank up the a/c when you're in bed with Zachary Quinto or Matt Bomer? Screech screech goes the world's tiniest violin. And the remote control is sooo far away.

Life is never going to be a picnic, so I recommend doing what we did: make up a pithy little slogan to keep your spirit up. "When life gives you lemons," we decided, "make lemonade."

Sure, it won't be easy. The future is going to give you an overheated, underfed, tornado-ravaged oligarchy. Make up your own pithy slogan. I don't know: maybe something about scones.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So, last week I posted about a bad experience with Expedia and the Star Inn Hotel Wien Sch├Ânbrunn. Expedia advertised the hotel as having "air conditioning" and "climate control," but when I got there I found the air conditioning had been disabled in all rooms. (Which is why I was mystified when I phoned Expedia to complain and in a startling display of competence they got the desk clerk to move me to another room. Another room with, um, no air conditioning.)

I never got the air conditioning and didn't get moved to another hotel, so when I returned home I called Expedia and spoke to a supervisor. He disregarded the previous supervisor's mention of a refund and instead he offered me a $100 "coupon" for my trouble. For eight nights with no air conditioning in a room nearing eighty degrees. (Remember, European beds have duvets rather than top sheets, which means I was laying totally naked and sweating on a mattress with nothing at all covering me. On Expedia, evidently, this deserves four and a half stars.) For the hour I spent on the phone explaining the problem and trying to get them to move me to a new hotel. If I accepted the "coupon," however, Expedia wouldn't admit they were wrong, and they wouldn't remove the words "air conditioning" from its listing.

I tweeted a few times about my experience, and eventually I got a direct message from Expedia saying they'd "sent this case to [their] top tier team to review." Naturally I was elated. I mean, I assumed the idiots you're first connected to when you call a company are their bottom tier. I guessed folks with a bit more experience were the middle tier. A dude on the top tier, I thought, probably had a briefcase and a badge.

I waited as patiently as possible. There was no way I could lose. The investigator would call the hotel, confirm that there was no air conditioning, see the words "air conditioning" in Expedia's listing, then decide how much of a refund I was due. Needless to say I was thrilled when my top-tier investigator telephoned and left a message saying she'd decided on resolution.

It turned out top-tier investigator Aliya could do faaaar better. Forget "coupon": she could get me $100 CASH. But Expedia still wouldn't admit they're wrong, blah blah blah.

I didn't even think for a second -- particularly because I'd forgotten that the previous offer wasn't, in fact, for cash. It's not like there's a gray area, I told her. Anybody with a third of a brain can see Expedia is cheating their customers.

Pssh, Aliya said. Everybody knows European hotels only have air conditioning in the summer months. Everybody knows it. And heating is only turned on in wintertime.

That's interesting, I said. So you're going to add small print to every page saying, "Some of this information is wrong, but everybody knows that"? Look, I said, YOU CLAIM THERE'S AIR CONDITIONING. THERE'S NO AIR CONDITIONING. NO AIR CONDITIONING.

But there is, she maintained. See, air conditioning doesn't necessarily mean cooling the air. It means conditioning it. There are a lot of ways to condition the air. If you're heating the air, you're conditioning it. If you're blowing the air around, you're --

And that's when I hung up.

My second husband, George, used to redefine terms when he was losing an argument. It was like Bill Clinton redefining "sex." What do you mean by black? George would ask. What do you mean by white? I went back to the Expedia website to read the comments of other guests. 98% positive reply rate, it said. And I flipped through looking for my review ... and it wasn't there.

So, here's a question for Aliya: what's a 98% positive reply rate when you delete negative reviews? She may be in the top tier but I'll bet even she couldn't answer that.

From the Guardian's review of Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman -- "a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk":

Then, in order to bone up on the history and culture of Monaco — and perhaps because the situation is not yet sufficiently gay — Grace consults a local nobleman, Count Fernando D'Aillieres, played by Derek Jacobi. He scampers about the hillsides, with Grace in tow, filling her in on all the tiresome details, while also presuming to give her tips on acting and deportment. (Surely as an Oscar-winning star she knows this stuff already?) Jacobi has a little fun with the part, although it needed Ian McKellen to come on, playing the Count's ageing houseboy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

“We shall creep out quietly into the butler's pantry --" cried the Mole.

"-- with our pistols and swords and sticks--" shouted Mystique.

"-- and rush in upon them," said Badger.

"-- and whack 'em, and whack 'em, and whack 'em!" cried Wolverine in ecstasy, running round and round the room, and jumping over the chairs.


Wait. I didn't get X-Men mixed up with Wind in the Willows, did I? That doesn't seem possible. I mean, one is an exciting, cutting-edge adult graphic novel about superheroes and one is a creaky old folk tale aimed at either children or dimwits.

Well, I'm not proud: I plead stupidity. Unless you're aiming for a similar fate, see if you can separate the two.

(a) Otter
(b) Beast
(c) Wolverine
(d) Mole
(e) Badger
(f) Sunspot
(g) Magneto
(h) Ratty
(i) Mystique
(j) Portly
(k) Chief Weasel
(l) Toad
(m) Wayfarer
(n) Congressman Parker


ANSWERS: (a), (d), (e), (h), (j), (k) and (m) are from Wind in the Willows. (b), (c), (f), (g), (i), and (n) are in X-Men. (l) is in both.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I always thought guys would be thrilled to be invited out for drinks. But noooo, all of a sudden it's tacky just because they have instant-win game pieces on the side.

"BEARDS ARE OVER!" Blares the World's Fashion Media

"Oh. Well, then, we'll definitely shave ours off," says absolutely no one in Brooklyn.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Reasons Why I'm Bitter

When I was ten, I went to school and got enrolled in something called Physical Education class. Rather than study or think or talk or discuss, we'd run in circles and throw things around. This surprised me, because while I knew that a classical education for the younger generations would help America compete in a world marketplace, I wasn't so sure what hurling balls at unarmed children would do. Still, I kept an open mind, especially since Coach Hill didn't complain after the fortieth time I asked to see his bicep.

One day, though, my class of thirty or so was led into the gym, where five ropes were dangling from the ceiling. At the top of each rope, seemingly inches away from the dizzyingly-high roof, was a metal circle.

Coach Hill separated us into lines at each rope, and all the blood left my head as I realized the task of the day. We had to climb the rope to the top and bang the metal circle with our fists.

They can't, I thought. They couldn't. Because if they'd asked me what I needed to climb that rope, my list would have included a harness, eighteen crampons and a Sherpa. Where was the preparation? I wondered. We should be comparing and contrasting various techniques, double-checking our safety gear, or stretching the muscles that we'd overtax in this odd little skill.

The first kid in each line scurried to their ropes as Coach Hill hit the stopwatch. Oh, you are fucking kidding me, I thought. We're actually going to be timed doing something I've never attempted in my life? Being fourth in line I had approximately two minutes to figure out what the fuck to do. In terms of sheer panic, this was roughly equivalent to James Bond trying to defuse a nuclear bomb while Jaws hit him in the head with a rock. Next they'd just casually drop us out of an airplane, and I'd plummet 40,000 miles to my death while trying to figure out if there's some sort of cord to pull or if I need to flap.

I'd noticed this earlier in P. E.: rather than teaching us things, we were assumed to have already learned them, then judged on our ability. It didn't make sense. I mean, all the other classes give you lessons that you're quizzed about later on. On the first day of History class you aren't led into a room that you can't leave until you've named fourteen factors that led to the Boer wars.

I watched as some of the kids swung up the ropes like monkeys. Where were we supposed to have learned this skill? I wondered. If I'd had parents, would I know how to do this? It didn't seem likely, as if after downing dayglo-orange macaroni and cheese all the neighborhood moms strung up thirty pounds of old hemp from the rafters of the house. But some of the kids had obviously done this before. I catalogued the strategies. The fastest way, clearly, was hands-only. You grab the rope, then just keep pulling yourself higher and higher through sheer arm strength. I quickly crossed this off the possibilities, since I had to enlist my sister's help to open a 7-Up. The alternative was the inchworm technique: you grab the rope, squish your body together, squeeze the rope between your feet, then straighten out and grab the rope higher up. It divided the stress onto two body parts, which seemed easier, though even tossing in the rest of them would have still left the odds around twenty-thousand to four.

My group approached the ropes as Coach Hill reset his stopwatch. Dude, I thought, you're going to need a calendar for this. I grabbed on, closed my eyes, and went for it, maybe singing "Inchworm" in my head. Mike Slattery, the blond jock, veritably scampered to the top, and various nerds, geeks and losers followed. While I wasn't a monkey, I also wasn't Alex Bor, the chubby Russian kid who came to school with a brown briefcase. I gave up maybe four feet from the top and nobody even noticed.

I wasn't sure if it was exertion or relief that had me giddy, but it seemed like class ended seconds later. "Good job, guys," Coach Hill said. "Tomorrow we're playing baseball."

Everybody cheered except Alex and me. Was that the sport with the bat, and the ridiculous misuse of real estate? The other kids excitedly ran off to the shower while I tried to regroup. Even if I somehow figured out how to hit a moving target with a sliver of wood, I thought, why would I want to?

"If you pump your arm a few times, will your bicep get even bigger?" I asked Coach Hill, and I resigned myself to living one day at a time.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Vacation Snaps


This is a statue of Dr. Karl Lueger. He made such an impression on Vienna that he has a major street and a square named after him. You're really got to admire a guy who has his life depicted in four sculptures and in two of them he's shirtless. I hate to think what my four scenes would be, but in at least one I'd be arguing with a Target clerk about whether or not Scrubbing Bubbles is on sale.

"Oh, Snap!"s Throughout History

1872. Robert Moncreiff, valet to Prince Leopold at Balmoral Castle, on observing a disheveled scullery maid: "Prithee, did she not pass a still pool on her way to court?"

In the future we'll be able to take a dying man's consciousness and map it into a computer CPU. But pixelation? They're still working on that.

Monday, May 5, 2014

In springtime a Brooklyner's thoughts turn to Airbnb. We post a few photos of our grungy, overpriced apartments, and within minutes French tourists are throwing baskets of cash at us to rent them for a weekend. New York airports turn into the hippest clubs in town, jammed with girls in black leggings and asymmetrical hairdos and guys in skinny jeans toting guitars.

I decided I'd stay within the budget set by my own French tourists, so I scoured the internet for inexpensive hotels. Expedia's listing for the Star Inn Hotel Wien Schonnbrun, in Vienna, stood out: it was brand new, modern, and conveniently located. There was free wifi, and the rooms had air conditioning, which is pretty much required by anybody who's been to Europe in spring or summer. I booked the room for a week.

The first thing I did when I got there was turn on the a/c. I wasn't going to spend a lot of time indoors, but when you're trying to sleep it's better to be too cold than too hot. It didn't kick in immediately, but I figured I'd give it some time. After waking up in a pool of sweat two mornings in a row, I asked the desk clerk what was up.

"The air conditioning in the building has been turned off," she said. "Why don't you open a window?"

I take great pains to appear amenable, so I said okay. I opened a window. But the next morning, when I found dozens of flies, gnats, and mosquitos sharing the space with me, I began to have second thoughts. As I squashed them into the sheer white curtains and their blood drenched the fabric I thought, you know, this isn't exactly what I picture when I think "Viennese holiday."

I went back to the desk, where the same clerk gave me the same response. She acted surprised when I told her about the bugs, like it was bizarre they were hanging around my window because everybody else was bug-free. I tweeted complaints to the hotel and Expedia, and when those were ignored I called Expedia.

The agent acted like he'd be helpful. While I was on hold he called the hotel, and when he came back he proudly announced that -- at 10 o'clock at night -- I could pack up all my stuff and move to a different room. "But the air conditioning in the building is turned off," I said. "Why would that do any good?"

This confused him. He put me back on hold and called the hotel again. Everybody talked to everybody else, and then all of a sudden it was nearly midnight. I spoke to a supervisor at Expedia, who said he'd start processing a refund and would try to move me to a different hotel. He told me to check my email for details from 8 am to noon the following day.

I never heard from Expedia again.

When I got back to New York, I discovered Expedia hadn't done anything, and didn't intend to. "You stayed in the room," a supervisor told me, "so you have to pay for it."

"Let me get this straight," I said. "(1) You tricked me into booking a hotel by lying about its amenities. (2) I begged you to move me to a new hotel but you didn't. And now (3) you say I have no claim because I DIDN'T LEAVE THE HOTEL?"

That was about right, he confirmed. He offered me $100, which is roughly a dollar for every hour I spent trying to sleep naked and still sweating, with no sheets or blankets covering me and a hundred mosquitos circling.

I said no thanks.

Since then, I've done some research. All of the information on Expedia's website comes directly from the hotels, and if the information is wrong, Expedia denies responsibility. Which should inspire zero confidence in their customers: I mean, if you book a suite and they stick you in a tuna can, you're hardly going to sue the hotel in Austrian court. Even if you're a frequent traveller, who wants to spring for the wigs?

I told Expedia at the very least they should fix their listing. I'm not holding my breath, because clearly they don't care. In fact, I think this policy will embolden the hotels into bigger lies. We'll probably end up with scenarios like this:

The Star Inn Hotel Wien Schonbrunn's listing will read, "You'll love our new fitness center, with state of the art equipment." And then when you ask the desk clerk where it is, she'll say, "We haven't got one. Why don't you do some push-ups in your room?"

The listing will read, "You'll appreciate our luxury travel bag of posh toiletries." Then when you ask the desk clerk about it, she'll say, "Here's a dollar. Why don't you go to a drug store and buy soap?"

The listing will read, "Those traveling with children will love our free onsite babysitting." Then when you ask the desk clerk about it, she'll leap in a chair, flap her hands and say, "Look at me! I'm a baby, and I'm sitting. WAAAH!"

The listing will read, "Start the day with our complimentary continental breakfast." Then when you come down in the morning, she'll say, "Today's continent is Africa. Why don't you go eat a bug?"

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